Saturday, December 13, 2014

Grain Free Holiday Cakes Inspiration

We're heading to a Holiday Party today and I'm bringing a version of my Cardamom Cake as a sheet cake topped with caramelized pears. Sounds so good right?! I love bringing my baked goods to parties. They're something I know I can eat, they're an indulgent dessert but without the total sugar crash, and they tend to be crowd pleasers that people are surprised to learn are gluten free. So when planning what to bring to the party I went through a whole string of ideas of what to make and I ended up with a long list of delicious cake options, too many to try just for one day. Do you go classic chocolate and sweet vanilla? Or the more traditional holiday route with spices and citrus? Or do you combine chocolate and spice, chocolate and citrus, and do you use buttercream frosting or go without? Really important questions at 9pm last night guys.

Happy Holiday Baking!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Vegetarian, Dairy Free, Grain Free Holiday Meal Menu

Every month or so a group of us get together for dinner. It's a small group of women who've been brought together and just happen to really get along. We're a mix of work friends, friends from College, couple friends and friends of friends and we comfort each other, confide in each other, crack each other up and inspire each other. I think everyone looks forward to the dinners as much as I do. It's the kind of group that every gal needs in her adult life and to accommodate the different food needs of ladies in the group our meals end up being gluten free, vegetarian, dairy free and often times Paleo or grain free. There's always kale and in the Fall and Winter there's always sweet potato or butternut squash. So I thought I'd put together a little meal menu of things we might eat!

Friday, November 28, 2014

One Month

He weighs 11.5 pounds and his arms, legs and hands are really filling out

He's peed through his clothes onto my shirts almost every other day

Our nights are very sleepless and I think I'm about to just sleep with him in the bed next to us without a co-sleeper, last resort

He's starting to smile and tracks us when we talk or come into the room

When he's nursing he balls his hands up and puts them under his chin or they fly up and his arms just lay there straightened out

We swaddle him for sleep time and he's so comfortable and trusting when we hold him on his side like a little burrito baby

Sometimes he sucks so much breastmilk that he coos and his eyes roll back in his head

He loves tummy time, especially when laying on us. He lifts his head and back up really high and did it right out of the womb. His eyes get so wide, he purses his lips and he stretches out his neck, I think he looks like a little turtle. 

Even though our nights are frustrating and hard, I love love love seeing him, holding him and just being around him in the morning

I am so thankful that I have maternity leave to be at home and take care of him without the stress of work.

I still can't quite believe it all happened, that he's real and is ours, and at the same time mothering him feels so simple and natural. 

My favorite thing is to hold him and cuddle him. I would do it all day. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Some Thanksgiving Pies

As you may know, we just had a baby who's now one month old! My job is to take care of the little guy, feed him enough and take it easy on myself too while I heal and recuperate. I usually get excited to plan the Thanksgiving menu and cook and bake, but this year I don't think I have it in me. Pre-made all the way. Whole Foods, Boston Market, veggies in those microwaved bags, I don't even care. These pies look so tasty though and maybe, just maybe, I'll get around to making one in time for Turkey day.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Cookie Collection (And a Gluten Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Recipe)

Sorry for the long absence! Baby James is sweet as pie and we've just been hunkering down at home. Chris is back to work, I've been feeling better and I've had a little time to think about what kind of posts I want to do now that I'm at home on maternity leave with a new baby. Finding the time to take photos in good light and post recipes is just too much right now, I mean it takes me three days to fold laundry! So collections it is! I can show case other people's lovely photos and tasty recipes, and be inspired while I'm at it. For this Cookie Collection I included recipes that are pretty simple and not overly chocolatey. I've been craving oatmeal cookies, which happen to be helpful with producing breast milk and I've made this adaptation of Martha Stewart's recipe three times already. They're that good that I'm finding the time to bake in between never ending feedings and diaper changing! 

Gluten Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (Adapted from Gluten-Free Oatmeal Cookies from Martha Stewart)
makes 36

3 C gluten free rolled oats
1 1/2 C blanched almond flour
2 T arrowroot or tapiocha starch (or omit)
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C melted coconut oil
1/2 C honey
1/2 C coconut palm sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 C organic raisins
optional- 3/4 C chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper
Mix the gluten free rolled oats, blanched almond flour, starch, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a bowl
In a separate bowl mix the cooled melted coconut oil, honey, palm sugar, eggs and vanilla and whisk until well blended
Mix the wet into the dry ingredients and then add in the raisins (and chocolate chips if desired)
Use a mini ice cream scoop to place 9 cookie scoops on each sheet and bake 12-15 minutes
Remove and cool on a rack then repeat with the rest of the dough

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Welcome Baby James August Mahon

Two weeks ago today we went to the hospital and little James was born Wednesday, October 22!

He's so sweet, lovable, little and immediately felt like mine.

He makes these weird grunts and squeaks and loves to use his arms and hands.

I'm feeling better and stronger every day and I love holding him, napping with him and breastfeeding him (now that we're both better at it).

Soon I'll leave the house on my own, go for walks with him in a carrier and find a little more time in the day to bake, blog and hopefully paint a little.

But my priorities are this little baby and feeling healthy and strong. I have three months maternity leave and I'm going to cherish and savor everyday before I return to work. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

My Best Pumpkin Recipes

Pumpkin Pumpkin everywhere and I love it!
I don't always love everything pumpkin- like pumpkin ice cream and pumpkin yogurt aren't for me. But I LOVE pumpkin baked goods. I've been making alternating batches of my Banana Muffins and Cream Cheese Pumpkin Muffins (above, with chocolate chips added) for the past few weeks now and they're still so good and heart warming.
I've saved some of the batches to freeze so that I have a few of my healthier and energy-giving foods for when we're first home with the baby. But then I think I'll start baking again as soon as I can.
And then it will be time for Thanksgiving and Christmas and I think I should just do all pies this time around!

For some more ideas:
Some of My Apple Recipes for Ya'
Grain Free Pumpkin Inspiration
Grain Free Carrot Cake with Classic Cream Cheese Frosting
Grain Free Zucchini Bread

Have a fantastic Fall Week!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Thoughts on my Pregnancy (Before I Have this Baby!)

I love thinking, "this is my only first pregnancy and first baby!"

It was easier than I thought

I was not as healthy an eater (Cheetos and fruit snacks...) and did not exercise as much as I thought I would. I did walk everyday and I consider walking up and down our steep row house stairs part of my exercise!

I didn't really have strong food cravings . In the beginning I wasn't very hungry and didn't have any food preferences. Then I had to eat smaller meals more often, but they ended up just being lighter, snack foods. And now at the end I'm much hungrier and I wake up in the early morning hours because I'm hungry. But there was really only one day recently when I craved steak and a couple of days I've craved milk and chocolate ice cream. It's more like I just preferred certain things and then was over them- like I wanted grapes for a week and then I'd had enough.

I thought the baby moving inside of me would feel more monumental. It kind of just feels like some lumpy thing that I'm aware of.

I weighed more than I wanted to when pregnancy began so I ended up focusing on my weight more than I wanted to.

Then, even though I gained weight, it was all in the belly and I actually lost fat from all my extra fat parts (arms, thighs, bum).

A lot of my cute "loose" shirts from before actually still fit me now.

Not until the last month has it felt uncomfortable to sit, lay down, walk, or take the stairs.

This last month feels way different. The baby feels bigger, I started waddling and I just feel like I'm chock full of baby.

I really really really value comfortable shoes and pedicures with great foot massages.

I didn't think about how hard it would be to tie my shoes. I simply can not do it.

I've been thinking a lot on how I want my body to look and feel after pregnancy and I really want to get lean and mean.

I CAN NOT imagine being pregnant and having other children!

I've loved being pregnant while teaching. The teachers are all really sweet and concerned and the kids are especially sweet and excited. I have to answer the same questions twenty times a day, but it's worth it. They're so loving and I'm so happy I get to experience that with them. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Things I'd Like to do this Fall

Sit on my back deck in the cool morning hours with a hot cup of tea

Go for lots of small hikes

Bake lots of pumpkin and apple recipes, and have plenty of biscuits around to eat with apple butter

Crack the window while I read a few good books

Finish tidying, organizing and purging from the house so that we can just maintain for a while

Remember to take it in and enjoy the Fall and change in season because winter comes pretty quickly and lasts a lot longer

Think on this quote, "Be happy with what you have while working for what you want."

Drink as much apple cider and eat as many honey crisp apples as I can stand

Buy or find some cute, comfy slip on boots

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Grain Free Pumpkin Inspiration

I had big plans this weekend- to make pumpkin donuts, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cheesecake. Instead we finished eating the double batch of banana muffins I made two weeks ago, half of which were meant to be given away as gifts. I love my Banana Bread so it was fine, but I definitely have not felt on top of things in the kitchen or for the blog.

The baby's due in less than a month now and Chris and I are tackling a few to-do lists, but I'm also trying to enjoy these last few weeks by being outside in this amazing weather and not stressing too much. Saturday I went to Crafty Bastards with my friend Sara and saw a bunch of artsy vendors, ran into my midwife, had the most amazing gf butterscotch pudding from RIS inside Union Market and bought the perfect Dream Tent Print from LauraGeoge. You can see pictures of the other vendors on my instagram. Chris and I finished the day with a little hike in Rock Creek where you can barely believe you're in the middle of D.C. and ate AMAZING gf pizza from Pizzeria Paradiso.  They offer all of their pizzas on a 9" gf crust for $2- not bad. We got the Macellaio and the Genovese and loved them.

Enjoy these Grain Free Pumpkin Recipes, maybe I'll actually make one of them!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Baby Update: 36 Weeks!

A pic from my shower with my loves from College (I was more like 32 weeks in this picture)

So I'm four weeks away from my due date now and that is crazy!

I still feel like I can't believe I'm pregnant. I've always wanted to have a baby. I've wanted to be pregnant and feel what it's like to grow a baby inside of me, and I've wanted to hold and raise a baby of my own. But to actually be here now, experience it and know that we'll have a baby in a few weeks, it's amazing and also so weird. I've had some issues along the way- headaches in the beginning, allergies in the beginning and again now, interrupted sleep, sore hips and shortness of breath, sometimes weird digestion. But overall I've felt really comfortable with being pregnant and I love that you can basically just let go and the baby will still grow and get everything it needs to thrive inside of you.

We're getting there, but still have a few things to do before the baby comes. Some of these are things I thought of and some are pieces of advice from other moms.

Clean my car and scrub down the seats and windows before the car seat goes in
Clean the house in all of the nooks, baseboards and under the furniture (I don't want to clean it but I'd like it to be cleaned- important difference)
Clean out the fridge and freezer and prep a couple of my kind of meals and baked goods
Get a pedi and mani (it's not really advised because there are some spots when massaged that may induce labor- but I realllllly want them)
Buy a few more nursing bras and tanks. Also getting my head around breastfeeding a new little baby every two hours
Figure out where to attach a toilet sprayer for cloth diapering in our three level house- basement bathroom near the washer and dryer, or top level bathroom near our bedroom?
And I just realized, we're going to have a real baby newborn with us pretty soon- how the heck do you take care of them! So I've been reading up on that as well.

But really, it's all fine. If none of that happens before the baby comes, we'll do it when we can. And if we don't know something, I have more than willing to help friends and family, and google is only a click away.

Some things kids have said at school (for most of the students they knew I was pregnant and saw that I had a belly last June at the end of the school year. Now of course, my belly is bigger and for Kindergarteners they are just learning that I'm pregnant):

"Did you have your baby? Are you having another one?"

"But how does the baby get in there?"

"But how does the baby come out?"

"Did you eat your baby? Can I eat a baby? I'M GONNA EAT A BABY!!!"

"Um, your belly's big. Are you having a baby?"

"Hi Baby!" (On the way into class)
"Bye Baby!" (On the way out of class)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Grain Free Carrot Cake with Classic Cream Cheese Frosting

I've been thinking a lot about starting my gluten free bakery. Key word thinking and also talking my husband's head off with the same thoughts every couple of weeks like they're new ideas. Recently I've been stuck on the things I don't know about or that seem overwhelming- taxes, paying employees, paying rent on a space, getting a lawyer, you know- real big business stuff. But as my good at focusing husband said, none of that matters if I'm not actually making a product and selling it. Which, by the way, I've read a bunch of times in crafty business books and in Etsy seller interviews. It's good advice that seems pretty obvious. I just need to start making food and selling it.

The good thing is I'm stuck on those unknowns of the bakery because I feel pretty settled and confident about the other stuff. I can envision the style of the bakery, the logo and branding, the packaging and types of coffee and tea, the color of the walls and window decorations, the cake stands I'd display my muffins on, and of course all of the baked goods I'd offer. I feel good and confident about my style of baking. That it begins with nutritious ingredients that also taste really great and that sometimes I use real sugar for frostings because there's just no other substitute for the real thing.

Like this recipe. I just had to have real cream cheese frosting with carrot cake guys. For a sugar free option you could try my Cream Cheese Topping made with honey or you could skip the cream cheese idea and try a Merengue topping made with honey like this one from Health Home Happy- the only downside is that in my experience merengue has to be eaten immediately and does not keep well in the fridge. This carrot cake recipe also includes the traditional walnuts and raisins, but you could certainly leave out one or the other and I think next time I'll chop the walnuts much smaller.

Grain Free Carrot Cake with Classic Cream Cheese Frosting
serves 8-10

Grain Free Carrot Cake
2 1/2 C blanched almond flour
1 1/2 C shredded carrot (from 3 medium carrots)
1/2 C honey (or you could use 3/4 C honey and omit the stevia)
20 drops liquid stevia
1/2 C raisins
1/2 C walnuts
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 C melted butter (or coconut oil)
1 T cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla

Classic Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8oz. bar of softened cream cheese
1/2 C (1 stick) butter softened
1 tsp vanilla
4 C (1 lb. bag) of powdered sugar
1/4 C water (if needed)

Preheat the oven to 350
Grease a round spring form pan and lay down an 8" parchment circle
Make the cake batter by whisking the eggs, cooled melted butter, honey, stevia, and vanilla
Mix in the shredded carrot and raisins (I like to let the raisins soak a little while)
In a separate bowl mix the blanched almond flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and walnuts
Mix the wet into the dry until well blended and then pour into the prepared cake pan
Bake 55-60 minutes until the edges are browned and the top is not too jiggly
Remove from the oven and let cool
To remove from the spring form pan, use a small offset spatula or thin knife to loosen the edges, pop open the pan and have two plates ready
Lay a plate on top of the cake, turn upside down and carefully peel away the bottom of the pan and the parchment circle
Then turn the cake onto your other plate or cake stand to frost and serve
Make sure the cake is completely cooled before topping with the Cream Cheese Frosting

To make the Frosting,
Make sure the cream cheese and butter are softened to room temperature
Add the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in a large bowl and combine with a hand mixer
Add 1 C of the powdered sugar and mix, scrape down the sides
Repeat until all of the powdered sugar is added and the frosting is completely mixed
Add the 1/4 C of water in small amounts to thin out the frosting at the last step of mixing, it can get pretty thick

This will make extra frosting and you can frost just the top of the cake or be bold and slice the cake in half with a thin bread knife to frost in the middle as well. Fair warning though, because of the walnuts and raisins I did not get a smooth cut and created lots of crumbs and chunks of cake falling off!
When covered this cake lasts a while in the fridge.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What Scares Me (and Other Things)

So much gray hair

stretch marks

my dog dying

my husband dying

my lady parts after giving birth

taxes, payroll, legal food issues, paying rent and then paying our mortgage (when I open a gf bakery)



losing my computer pictures

What doesn't scare me

little kids


baking and cooking

making yummy food for my gf bakery

most animals

What I don't Care About

blowdrying my hair

folding fitted sheets


a big house or a big car

dressing professionally

smelly lotions

What I'd like more of


dainty rings

comfy cute shoes

hikes and country drives

green juices

open windows

good reads

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Welcome September

I've been reading Rebecca Egbert's blog lately.

I found it through andKathleen from BraidCreative and I like it because it's a mothering blog that's not all homemade lunches and back to school outfits (even though those are cute too!). Plus, she's a bad ass. Our baby will be coming this season and I wanted to find sources that offered support and strength, and I've found it with Rebecca Egbert. Most recently I read her post Begin Again and it was exactly what I needed. A little push to start anew with the end of summer, the last stretches of my pregnancy and the beginning of my (tenth!) school year.

She read reports on the new moon in September and says, 

"The reports told me that it was a time of new beginnings, and acknowledging endings that no longer help or serve you. It was time to let the things die that need to die off, and birth the new.

Makes sense with the “back to school” energy all around, harvests happening whether in the backyard or in large fields. It’s September and it is time for rejuvenation. A time to slow down. A time to regroup and set some intentions for the completion of 2014, because anything you put into place right now and start moving forward will set the tone for what’s to come."

I'm interested in  new moons and moon cycles, but I know nothing more about them than just skimming the surface. I read Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier this summer and I like the idea of living a life more in tune with the cycles of nature. So this idea of new beginnings, acknowledging endings that don't help you, letting go of some things; and getting excited and working for other things- this has really hit home. 

This summer I ended up spending most of my time finishing house projects. Our home is in really good shape but there were projects that were looming over our heads. I wanted to use this time of energy and excitement to get things settled the way we like before the baby comes. I know we'll still have time here and there to do stuff, but I wanted to do the things we could now so that our house looks good and feels comfortable. 

I had hoped I would do more baking and blogging of recipes and posts, but it takes a lot more time than I planned for. It was good to realize just how little I did and how if it's something I want to pursue, which it is, I need to carve out time to bake, photograph and write in the way that I want.  

What ended up sitting on the back burner was painting for my Etsy shop. I just didn't have time to fit it in and I wasn't even that inspired. I'm not giving up on painting, but I need fewer thing to focus on for a while I get myself centered, start the new school year and prepare for the baby.

I'm letting the things that are fading anyway fade, I'm preparing for new beginnings in a way that makes me comfortable and I'm thinking of what I really want so that when opportunities come I'll feel ready. I'm also feeling really happy with where things stand right now in life and in work. I've worked hard for them, organized and prepped and now things are running pretty smoothly.

So here are my intentions for the completion of 2014:

- set up baby things in the house 
- finish decorating and house projects
- prepare and educate myself on a happy birth and caring for a newborn
- rest, eat snacks and healthy meals
- keep baking and blogging
- teach with this quote in mind, "Teach with passion but manage with compassion."
- trust that the things I want and work for will happen
- and towards the end of Fall we'll have a baby (!) so I don't have any plans after that except to nest and nurture myself, the baby, my husband and our dog. I'll be going back to work in the new year and I don't want to fill this new, special, irreplaceable time with lots of expectations, to-do lists and projects.