Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Three Months

Happy three months to our little James!

He's cooing, randomly shouting, spitting bubbles and I get a laugh out of him every so often.

He just keeps filling out and his little belly is too wide for a lot of his pants now!

We were starting to lose it again when James began waking up every two hours during the night after a nice hiatus of that. Then I did some research and found WeeBeeDreaming Blog  whose advice has been amazing and is really working. The idea that babies not only need but love sleep has really stuck with me. So instead of worrying more about getting enough food and play time, I've been focused on more sleep time and that's made for a much happier and calm baby (and parents!)

I start work, and he starts daycare, in a couple of days. Blah, I'm sure there will be a whole other post on that. But it's a necessity right now so it helps to know there's no other choice. I'm just planning on crying it out for the first couple of days and let's be honest, soothing my soul with ice cream.

Right now I feel so lucky and still slightly in denial that I'm a Mom. We made it to three months which feels like a huge accomplishment as well as no big deal. He's going to keep growing and changing so we just kind of have to jump on board and go along with it.

Here's what I'm excited for: our spring break trip to Cali and Austin, two months away! The end of the school year, another two months! And then starting the bakery business, indefinite! And I'm so curious about and excited to see James start to scoot and crawl, hear him laugh and babble and swim for the first time. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Dairy-Free Chocolate Chip Drizzle Banana Muffins

We're trying to save more money around here, especially since little James will start daycare in February and it's basically the price of a renting a small apartment on top of the mortgage we already have. Food is a huge part of where I spend money and so I've been trying hard to buy less and be okay with not having a stocked pantry and fridge at all times (I like choices). I made these muffins, peanut butter oatmeal cookies (they'll be up soon!) and cornbread, all starting with remnants I had in the kitchen that I wanted to use up before buying anything new. Finding something I need to use up is one of my favorite ways to start a recipe. It often helps me to be creative when I have some constraints.

To make these muffins I started with two lone frozen over-ripe bananas found in the freezer (my favorite way to store banana bread-worthy bananas), the last of a bag of chocolate chips, and then was inspired to make a dairy-free chocolate drizzle since the muffins are dairy-free to begin with. I used my Classic Banana Bread recipe, reduced the amount of coconut oil and added chocolate chips and a chocolate drizzle on top.

Dairy-Free Chocolate Chip Drizzle Banana Muffins
makes 12

2 over-ripe bananas
1/4 C melted coconut oil
1/4 C water (optional depending on how wet the batter is)
1/2 C honey
3 eggs
1 T vanilla
3 C blanched almond flour (add up to 1/2 C additional if the batter is very wet)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 C semi-sweet chocolate chips for the batter (you could, of course, add more or use a different kind of chocolate)
1/4 C + 1 T coconut oil for the drizzle

Preheat the oven to 350
Line a muffin pan with paper liners
Whisk the ripe bananas, cooled melted coconut oil, honey, eggs and vanilla
Then mix in the blanched almond flour, salt and baking soda
Add the 1/4 C of water if the batter is too thick, add up to 1/2 C additional almond flour if the batter is too thin
Mix in the 1/2 C chocolate chips
Use an ice cream scoop to fill the muffin pan and bake around 25 minutes until the the muffins are tan around the edges
Remove from the oven and let cool then remove from the pan and place muffins on a cooling rack on top of waxed paper (or any surface you'd like in order to drizzle the chocolate)
Slowly melt the 1/4 chocolate chips + 1 T coconut oil at 30 second increments, stirring in between
Then use a spoon and drizzle over the muffins
The chocolate drizzle will solidify slightly at room temperature and will harden in the fridge
I like to store these in the fridge and then heat them up for 20 seconds so that the chocolate chips and drizzle get gooey again

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Amazing Chocolate Cakes & Pies (Gluten Free, Grain Free, Paleo, Low-Carb, Natural Sugars)

I've been ordering boots with Christmas gift cards, planning out a uniform of clothes for when I go back to work (thankfully it's pretty casual and I can wear the same things at work as I do on the weekends), getting the guts up to chop off my hair (really not hard or brave in the big scheme of things), and craving, scheming and dreaming of chocolate cakes and pies. 

I can hear the little guy stirring now, and after he eats we're taking a little outing of Christmas returns and Pho; and then picking up eggs and dark chocolate so I can finally give myself the chocolate it's been begging for. I'm thinking some kind of chocolate layer cake with a ganache filling and a little buttercream topping. I want to slide my fork into that mess, cuddled on the couch with Clover as the winter sun sets through our back windows. Now that's one awesome Saturday night. 

Cashew-Cheesecake Bites by The Urban Poser

Chocolate Coffee Layer Cake by Dolly and Oatmeal 

Chocolate Buckwheat Cake by David Lebovitz

Chocolate Date Caramel Walnut Tart by Gourmande In The Kitchen

Chocolate Eclair Cake by All Day I Dream About Food

Chocolate Pudding Pie by Against All Grain

Chocolate Pie and Raw Graham Cracker Crust by The Spunky Coconut at NomNom Paleo

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Happy New Year! 2015's One Giant Goal and How I'll Get There

Open a gluten free Bakery- that's my one giant goal.

I can't afford and don't have the experience I'd want to open a bakery storefront (yet). So I'm going to bake out of a certified kitchen. It will be wholesale and I'd like to sell at a Farmer's Market. It also means that I may be able to do mail-order and local deliveries (think CSA with neighborhood pick-up spots). And how cool if I'm able to sell at local shops, cafes and yoga studios! I found a food incubator in D.C. that looks really promising, I've simplified the recipes I'll bake but have a bunch on the back burner in case it makes sense to expand, and I'm more clear on the necessary steps to make it a legal and licensed business. I've also got something in the works to re-brand my blog and the soon-to-be business with a new name and a new design. Something that speaks more to being bold and happy.

My time line is to start in July and to get there I'm going to:
SIMPLIFY (buy less, use what I have, know where stuff is, get rid of stuff that makes it harder)
CONNECT (with businesses and people that are cool and inspiring, local and online)
ACCEPT CHAOS (hello- new baby, paying for daycare, working full-time, getting back in shape, researching and starting a new business)
and also,
SAVE AS MUCH MONEY as I possibly can (for so many reasons)

This will all take work and I'm sure I will hit bumps in the road, get totally stressed out and have melt-downs here and there. But ultimately each of these steps and goals are doable and are not that hard. There is a lot that I don't know about running a bakery business, working out of a certified kitchen or selling wholesale. But if I let that stop me then this will never happen. And I have to make it happen.

I'll leave you with this:
"If you love something and you're good at it, then you must do it."
(Thank you The Bletchley Circle, one of my many Netflix binges during maternity leave)

And these:
What Do You Want With Your Life?
Clarity, Part 1
Clarity, Part 2
Who I Am and Who I Want to Become
What Scares Me
My Dream Bakery

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Almond Flower's Top Ten Recipes of 2014

Oh man, I'm excited for 2015. Like, ants in my pants let's get this year started.
We have our awesome little man, I'm purging a lot of my things and simplifying, I'm painting just for fun, I got an awesome pair of chords on sale at Anthro, and I'm working on plans to start my gluten free bakery business. Bring on the chaos.

Looking back on my top ten recipes from this year, I felt happy and proud.
These are all yummy, some are comforting, some are decadent, and most are simple. I love that. My reason for starting all of this was to make grain free, natural sugars baked goods that I wasn't finding anywhere else. And amazingly I'm still making them with lots of new ideas stuffed in my back pockets. If I can bake things that other people enjoy and that make them happy, then I really am so fulfilled and happy. 

I hope you enjoy looking over these recipes and trying a few. And I hope you get excited for the new year, do the things that you need and love to feel your best, and jump into the chaos.

The Almond Flower's Top Ten Recipes of 2014

Some of my Apple Recipes for ya'

Chocolate Trail Mix Cookies

Chocolate Raspberry Crumble Bars (On a Chocolate Crust and A Vegan Option)

Nina Cake (Grain Free Yellow Cake with Classic Fudge Frosting)

Dairy Free Cinnamon Swirl Muffins (made with coconut oil and blanched almond flour)

Cardamom Bundt Cake with Lime Coconut Butter

Peaches & "Brown Sugar" Cream Pie

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie (Gluten Free, Grain Free, Sweetened with Honey and Stevia)

Grain Free Carrot Cake with Classic Cream Cheese Frosting

Grain Free Zucchini Bread

Monday, December 22, 2014

Two Months (& Happy Winter!)

This sweet, calm, cuddly, adorable chunker is two months old.

Sad because my maternity leave is ending in a month.

Amazing because he's sleeping longer through the night now and he is so much better at breastfeeding!

He smiles and coos, almost laughs- I can hear it starting to form in his little sounds.

He's got big old hands and chunky little thighs.

It's the best thing when he catches our eyes and smiles at us, and he's started to recognize Clover when she comes close to lick him up.

I'm really looking forward to all of the winter hikes we'll do. We're taking him out a lot and hoping that he'll appreciate the cool weather and fresh air.

As for me, I'm feeling stronger and and trying to enjoy all of the quiet time. I want to savor my daytime feedings with him since he'll be at daycare soon, and hold him more since he'll only get bigger.

I'm also trying to enjoy this time to be creative. I've gotten a lot of new ideas that feel so exciting and that bring me back to what I feel is truly myself. I want to hold onto them and jump in while I have the time.

Winter always sneaks up on me and the Holidays are always a blur. We're getting away to Virginia Beach for Christmas and then taking a little trip to Charlottesville. We'll eat at diners, take little hikes and drive home along the Skyline Drive. It's amazing how much we need to get away and how good we feel even after just a few days. And I especially need the renewal that comes with being outside, walking amongst the trees and cold air, and not hearing the din of cars and planes.

At a time that is often gray, wet and cold I'm trying to embrace the quiet and use the time to listen to myself, and do the things that I love. So I hope you have a happy holiday, and happy winter!

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.