Coconut Fudge Bars

Whether it’s because I’m getting older or getting healthier, my body no longer handles sugar well.  This is a great problem to have, obviously.  I’m really quite grateful, as I used to eat wayyyyyyyy too much sugar.  But what is a chocolate lover to do when she has a chocolate craving?  Suck on a bar of unsweetened chocolate?  Mmmm, no.

Chocolate Whipped Cream on Strawberries to the rescue.  Also, last week I played with my Chewy Granola Bars recipe.  I used to make them with chocolate chips – but that obviously adds extra sugar.  This time, I came up with a dark chocolate variety that is only lightly sweet, super coconuty, and oh so chocolaty rich.

Coconut Fudge Bars

1/2 cup peanut butter or sunbutter
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut oil (or another oil of your choice)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

In a medium sized saucepan, melt together peanut butter, honey, coconut oil, and cocoa.  Remove from heat and stir in oats and coconut flakes.  Spread mixture into a 9×9 inch pan.  Chill for 2 hours before serving.  Makes 8-16 bars, depending on how big/small you cut them.

Coconut Fudge Bars

These store best in the fridge, otherwise they are melty and will get chocolate all over your hands and face.  If this is not a problem for you, by all means, store them on the countertop.  If you want to pack these in a lunch, I recommend wrapping them individually, freezing them, and sending a spoon or fork along to make them less messy for the consumer.  If having chocolate all over your child’s hands and face at school is not a problem for you, by all means, send them without a utensil.

These are super rich and only barely sweet.  Feel free to add more honey if you prefer.

So tell me:  Are you a dark chocolate fan?

Orange Creamsicle Recipe

Did you like the Strawberry Creamsicle recipe I shared?  How about an Orange Creamsicle recipe to add some variety?  For that matter, you can sub just about any fruit you like to make creamsicles.  Such a refreshing treat!

Orange Creamsicle Recipe

2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup orange juice concentrate
1 Tablespoon real maple syrup (or about 10 drops liquid stevia)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth and creamy.  Pour mixture into popsicle molds or 3-ounce cups.  If using 3-ounce cups, place a popsicle stick into the middle of each after these have been in the freezer for about 30 minutes.  Freeze for about 2 hours before serving.  Makes about 12 small creamsicles.

Orange Creamsicles

Strawberry Creamsicle Recipe

Strawberry Creamsicles in Muffin Tins

Tis the season to enjoy cold, sweet treats.  Tis the season to find refreshment in a frozen snack after a hard day of work or play.  Tis the season to drip syrupy red or blue food dye down the chin, staining the teeth, the tongue, and the swim shirt in the process.

No, wait.  Not that last one.  Let’s skip the food dye and syrupy fake sweetness of high fructose corn syrup, and instead enjoy a real food treat.  Although do feel free to let this Strawberry Creamsicle melt and drip down your chin.  After all, what’s summer without messy, sticky chins and swim suits?  Seriously, you should watch me eat a slice a watermelon.  It’s like I’m a three year old, slurping and grinning and ignoring the watermelon juice as it runs all the way down my neck while I stand at the kitchen sink taking bite after bite.  Hey, there’s no shame in enjoying a treat while ignoring the napkin.

Sometimes you just really don’t know what to say or do with the things I tell you about myself, do you?  Oh c’mon.  Live a little.  Grab some watermelon and make some Strawberry Creamsicles.  Grin and slurp.  Be a kid again.

Strawberry Creamsicles

2 cups frozen strawberries
2 cups whole milk (or coconut milk)
2 Tablespoons real maple syrup (or about 10 drops liquid stevia)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth and creamy.  Pour mixture into popsicle molds or 3-ounce cups.  If using 3-ounce cups, place a popsicle stick into the middle of each.  Freeze for about 2 hours before serving.

Strawberry Creamsicles

Nothing fake – all natural sweetness, just perfect for a summer treat!  I can’t think of anything I’d rather have running down my chin.

#whoneedsnapkins  #lifestooshort  #grinandslurp

Quick and Easy Crepes (and 8-Piece Pyrex Bowl Set With Lids Only $13.49!!)

Welcome to a typical crepe conversation with my children:

Boy: What’s for breakfast?
Mom: Crepes.
Boy:  Is that it?
Mom:  Isn’t that enough?
Boy:  I’m gonna still be hungry.
Mom:  What’s new?
Boy:  Can’t we have something else too?  I just don’t get full on grapes.

Every time.  You’d think I’d recognize the difficulty by now in hearing the difference between the words grape and crepe, but they rhyme and confuse the children.  Then they confuse the mother.  And then the entire conversation is confusing.

Crepes.  They are very different than grapes.  They are easy, filling, and very tasty.  My recipe has three simple, whole food ingredients.  Crepes make a great breakfast, lunch, snack, or light dinner.  We love crepes!  (And grapes.  But as I said before, we’re talking about crepes, not grapes.  Okedokee.)

Quick and Easy Crepes

Quick and Easy Crepes

6 eggs
3 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream
100% fruit jelly

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and cream until well combined.  Pour about 1/4 cup of mixture into a well greased, hot skillet.  I find that medium/high heat works best.  Cook the crepe until it begins to bubble and thicken, then flip it to cook the reverse side until lightly browned.  Remove from heat.  Spread a little jelly on one flat side of the crepe, roll it up, and serve.  Repeat process until all crepes have been cooked.  Makes about 10 small crepes.

I usually double or triple this recipe to fill my family.  Yes, sometimes we actually go through 18 eggs in one sitting.  And sometimes we also eat grapes.  But not usually at the same time as crepes.  Although I should totally do that sometime – just to throw everyone off.  Hmmm….

What’s your favorite kind of crepe filling?

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Look what I just found this morning!  This super useful 8-piece Pyrex Bowl Set With Lids is only $13.49.  That’s an amazing price and I’m snatching it up.  I posted about it last time it was on sale but it got bought out before I got mine.  No guarantees on how long this price will last so grab it now!  This set is super useful for prepping and storing tossed salads, cole slaw, potato salad, fresh fruits and veggies – so many great ways to use these.  Click our Amazon Deals page to purchase.

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Easy Cheesy Bean Dip

Need an easy and filling lunch, dinner, or snack?

No Laura, what we actually need is a complicated recipe filled with weird ingredients that our family will hate.

Okay, fine.  The question above was rhetorical.  Did you know that sometimes I like to be sarcastic? (also rhetorical)

Well anyway, my family loves this recipe and I think yours will too.  It’s great to throw together at lunchtime and serve with organic corn chips and fresh fruit.  Or, you could smear this dip in a whole wheat tortilla and wrap it up to take on the go.  You could take it to serve at a party.  You could make it for a game night.  You could make it for a simple evening meal.  You could make it for breakfast.  Really?  Well, sure, if you really want to.  Would the breakfast police actually show up and arrest you for serving bean dip with your morning coffee?  Don’t answer that.  It’s rhetorical.

Easy Cheesy Bean Dip

Easy Cheesy Bean Dip

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
4 cups refried beans
3 Tablespoons taco seasoning mix
3 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

Mix cream cheese and sour cream in a large bowl.  Stir in refried beans and taco seasoning.  Spread mixture into a 9×13 inch baking pan.  Sprinkle cheese over the top.  Bake in a 350° oven for 25-30 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Serve with organic corn chips and salsa if you like.

What are your favorite quick meals to serve?  (I’d like you to answer that question.  That one is not rhetorical.)

Flourless Fudge Cookies

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You can’t go wrong with a recipe that has the word “fudge” in its name.  These cookies are very easy to make and live up to their name.  Mmm, fudgy cookies.  Yes please.

Flourless Fudge Cookies

2 1/4 cups sucanat powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup cocoa powder
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put 2 1/4 cups of sucanat into a blender.  Process until sugar has become powdered.  (Here is a post with picture tutorial showing you how easy this is!)  In a bowl, mix sucanat powdered sugar with the remaining ingredients.  Scoop teaspoon sized balls of batter onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet (very important).  Bake in a 350° oven for 8-10 minutes.  Allow the cookies to cool completely while on the cookie sheet.

If you bake them on a baking stone or try to remove them before they are completely cooled, you’ll end up with this:

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See below, how the cookies sit patiently and cool on their parchment paper so that they will come off the pan nicely?

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Ah yes, that is the way to do it.  These cookies are worth the wait!

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Have you ever made your own powdered sugar with sucanat?  It’s very easy – and these cookies are a great way to experiment with that idea!

Homemade Chocolate Caramel Cups

Chocolate Caramel Cups

Can I interest you in a Chocolate Caramel Cup recipe to go along with the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup recipe I shared earlier this week?

Upon typing that sentence, I am suddenly reminded of Mrs. Hendricks, my really, really old 2nd grade teacher.  Seriously, she had to have been at least 33.  She taught us how to carry the 1 when adding double digits and she would never let any of us say the word can.

We would frequently forget this rule, saying in our best whiny 7 year old voices, “Mrs. Hendricks?  Can I get a drink of water?” And she would say, “I don’t know.  Can you?”  We would then roll our eyes without her seeing us because we were really sneaky and cunning and besides at her age, surely her failing eyesight wouldn’t allow her to see our facial expressions clearly.  Obligingly we would come back with, “I mean, may I get a drink of water?”  I believe those of us who shall remain nameless who were really sweet and running for teacher’s pet of the year award also added a please in there too.

To this day, I am not able to say can I without switching to may I and I think I might also roll my eyes a little bit while I’m saying it.  Old habits die hard.

So, can I interest you in this wonderful recipe to go along with the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup recipe?  And together, with all of the second graders and Mrs. Hendricks we say, “I don’t know.  Can you?”

Chocolate Caramel Cups 

1 cup chocolate chips
2 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup homemade caramel sauce

First, whisk together a batch of Homemade Caramel Sauce.  You won’t need it all for this recipe, but get yourself some vanilla ice cream and you’ll be serving the best caramel sundaes with the leftovers.

Prepare 6 regular sized or 16 mini-sized muffin cups with paper liners.  In a small saucepan, heat chocolate chips and butter, stirring until melted.  Spoon half of the melted chocolate mixture into the prepared paper-lined muffin cups.

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Place a spoonful of caramel sauce (hot or cold) into each cup, dividing the mixture evenly among the cups.  Top each with the remaining chocolate, smoothing it the best you can to cover the caramel.

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Refrigerate for two hours until solid. (Or place in the freezer for about thirty minutes to speed the process.)  Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

caramel_cups_4

Can I challenge you to refrain from eating these all in one sitting?  {I don’t know.  Can you?}

Crustless Pizza

crustless_pizza_1

Do you like how I cleaned up the crusty baked-on edges of the pie plate before snapping the shot?
Oh my bad.  I was thinking of another picture I didn’t take.

Sometimes, I just don’t feel the need to have grains or carbs with every meal.  I’ve been learning to listen more to my body and to give it what it needs – or to not give it what it doesn’t need.

I have especially become more aware of my body’s nutritional needs since I began working out regularly.  There are times I find my body screaming for protein.  Other times, I can tell that if I don’t get some carbs in me, I am not going to feel well.  Later, I might be craving a huge salad or an orange.

I’m not sure how to explain away yesterday’s chocolate chip cookie.  Cookies.  Plural.  Did my body need them?  Yes I think so.  But of course, not really.

One day recently, while making pizza for my family, I found that I was not hungry for the crust.  That day, I was just in it for the meat and veggies.  Therefore, I cooked up some hamburger meat with mushrooms, sweet peppers and onions, stirred in some sauce, spread it in a pie plate, and topped it with cheese.  I put it into the oven with the regular pizzas I had made, just long enough to melt the cheese the way I wanted it.

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In case you ever find yourself short on time and not able to make a crust, or if you simply don’t want a pizza crust on your pizza – I highly recommend the Crustless Pizza.  So incredibly tasty.

Ever tried this before? 

 

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

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What’s great about having a recipe that is flourless?  If you have run out of flour, you can still make this cookie.

Profound.

But there’s more.  Because these don’t have flour in them, they turn out super moist and chewy.  Trust me when I say that there is much yum in one of these cookies.  (Or in three or more of these cookies if you just can’t control yourself.)

And…if you’re someone who eats gluten free or you’re baking for someone who eats gluten free, these cookies fit the bill.  I have no idea what the phrase “fit the bill” means.  Are we talking about a dollar bill, or the bill of a hat?  Or maybe we’re talking about a duck?  I went to school with a boy named Bill.  As far as I know, he can eat flour.  But I’m guessing he would still really like these cookies.

Anyway, I should look up the phrase “fit the bill” someday when I have spare time, which will be never, since I typically spend my free time rambling about ducks, hats, and my classmates who like cookies.  Come to think of it, I don’t remember Bill ever wearing a hat.

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup natural peanut butter (I use homemade)
1 cup sucanat or brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Cream together peanut butter, sucanat, egg, vanilla, and baking soda.  Fold in chocolate chips.

Place 1 1/2 inch balls of dough about two inches apart on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.  Bake in a 350° oven for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cookies will firm up as they cool, so do not overbake.  Allow the cookies to sit on the cookie sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.  Makes about 18 cookies.

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You will love how easy these cookies are to make.  If you need to, you can prepare this dough up to five days in advance, pulling out the dough and baking as needed.  How very handy.  You can also mix up the dough, shape it into balls, and freeze them unbaked.  Then, when you need a cookie fix or you need to quickly bake cookies for an event, all you have to do is put them on a pan and bake them as directed.

I’m telling you, if you’re looking for an easy, delicious cookie, these really hit the nail on the head (because I just hate to use the phrase ”fit the bill” twice in one post).

And for the record, I couldn’t resist.  I took the time to look up where the phrase “fit the bill” comes from.  Turns out, “Fit the bill” is a British, American and Australian idiom which means to have the qualities or experience which are needed. Thank you online search engine.  I already understood what it meant.  I just didn’t understand its origin.

Well, I guess we’ll never know.  Maybe I should just ask Bill.  He was, after all, our class Valedictorian.

Why I’m Thankful to Know How to Cook Gluten Free (Plus 115 Healthy Gluten Free Recipes)

My family eats gluten. 

I buy wheat in abundance and grind it several times a week to make flour for our baking needs.  We eat regular oats frequently, and the occasional barley or rye.  We experimented with eating gluten free a couple of years ago to see if it would help our son’s eczema.  (It didn’t.)

But thanks to that experiment and the time I’ve spent learning from my friend Kim (who has been cooking gluten free for several years and who helped me put these books together) – I am well informed about how to prepare gluten free foods.  I know how to keep food safe for those who can’t have gluten.  I have in my head a big list of food options that are gluten free.  I have many foods on hand in my kitchen at all times that are just fine for serving to the gluten sensitive.  It’s really not difficult.

I really hadn’t thought much about the importance of having gluten free recipes and knowledge until last week. 

We had invited some college students over for a meal after church.  On Saturday, I had prepared in advance two big dishes of Italian Pasta Bake, and a double batch of Whole Wheat Butterhorns.  The next morning, right before we left for church, Asa came down and said, “Mom, you know what I just realized?  I remember from camp that one of the girls coming over today can’t have gluten or dairy.” 

Umm…Italian Pasta Bake and Whole Wheat Butterhorns are both very full of gluten and dairy.  I knew that at least she could eat the salad and green beans I had planned to go with our meal.  But what else?  And with that thought in mind…we headed off for church.

We caught the young lady after worship to let her know we were so glad she was coming and we asked about her food sensitivities.  She told us not to worry about her and assured us that she was used to not eating when she went places and that she’d just come hang out.

Oh nonononono.  Not at my house.  I aim to please!  Thou shalt not eat a meager little salad and a few green beans when dining at my table if I can help it.

Without even having to try, and because I had Tinkyada rice pasta on hand (yay!), I was able to quickly throw together a gluten free, cheeseless Italian Pasta Bake for her while I was tossing the salad and baking the rolls.  I was very careful not to cross contaminate any of the foods (because Kim taught me well).  I loved being able to present her with plenty of food that day so that she didn’t have to just sit there and watch us all eat.

That’s just one story to explain why I am so thankful to know how to cook gluten free foods.  I can’t tell you how often this knowledge comes in handy.  We’ve got friends coming to stay with us for several days this summer who can’t have gluten.  When we were in Denver last month, staying with someone who couldn’t have gluten, I was easily able to help cook.  Our boys have a gluten sensitive friend who has come over for a birthday party and I was able to have food for him.  I made gluten free food when I hosted bunco because one of my friends in the group has Celiac.  And on and on it goes.  It is not hard to cook gluten free food once you know for sure which foods to avoid.
 

Chocolate Mint Soother

In preparation for our guests this summer, I recently took the time to update my Gluten Free Recipes page.  Would you believe that 115 of the recipes on my site are naturally gluten free??  Naturally – as in, that’s how I make those recipes on any given day when I’m not thinking about gluten or non-gluten.  There are no special ingredients or products needed.  You can make many gluten free recipes with the ingredients you already have in your kitchen!!  I love this.

Check out my Gluten Free Recipes page, and bookmark it or pin it so that you have easy access to it.  Then you will also be well prepared to serve food to someone who can’t have gluten.  Feel confident, knowing that many, many regular pantry and refrigerator staples are naturally gluten free.  My page of 115 recipes proves it!

How comfortable do you feel preparing gluten free foods?  Have any gluten free recipes to share?