Category Archives: sweet things

Orange Almond Muffins

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I should call these my procrastination muffins.   What do I do when I have a house full of drawers to clean out?  I bake.   I know how to bake.  Cleaning and organizing, however are not my strong suits.    We have about 2 months before we move to California for the school year and we are renting our house for that time.

Cleaning and organizing are going to be my MO …next month.

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Things will happen.   They will all come together.   And so for now, I bake.

I had a bowl of oranges that had to be used and two little mouths that love muffins for breakfast.   It made perfect sense.

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My kids were very eager to help, which isn’t always the case.  They actually followed through until the very end and were so good at taking turns pouring and mixing.  Their attention span used to last through the first couple steps and then they were off playing with their toys.   I used to pretty much get a –you’re doing great mom.  Let me know when they are ready to eat.     So this was a nice change.

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Strawberries with Mint and Balsamic Reduction

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Change. It can be scary. And exciting. Maybe a little bit uncomfortable. But it usually ends up being a good thing. You grow. You learn. You discover. You experience something new and different.

Next year is going to be all these things for my family.

We are going to be spending the school year in

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Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

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These are slightly addictive.  A  two thumbs up kind of bar, according to  my son, Max, which says a lot.    He calls them the best granola bars.  And yes,  that makes me a happy mama.

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It took a few tries because his skeptical mind wouldn’t allow him to like them on the first try.  He started with one thumb slightly tilted downwards and my heart sank slightly.   I have been working this this recipe for a couple weeks and it was really only his opinion that mattered.   But I asked him to try it again and he gave it a thumbs 3/4 of the way up.  And then he asked me for bar.   And then another bar and then…he have them 2 thumbs up.     It’s not that I want Max to eat granola bars all the time, but when he does I would prefer that he eats the one’s I make, where I can pronounce all the ingredients and know what exactly is in them.

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He is my picky eater.   Not just healthy food picky.   He is equally picky about his treats. Or just about trying new things.   We are working on having an open mind about things.  To go into a situation thinking you might possible like it, otherwise nothing stands a chance.    It’s a hard concept to grasp, even for adults.

But it is his lunch that I have to pack, his soccer practice snacks, his opinion that matters most.   Of course, I sincerely hope you all enjoy them too.   And I am happy that my husband, Eric, has taken such a liking to them.    There is currently one granola bar left in the jar in the refrigerator.    I wonder which of them will get to it first.

With this recipe,  I may forever be done buying store bought granola bars. Read the rest of this entry

Orange Dark Chocolate Almond Flour Scones

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This is what I plan on enjoying Christmas morning as I watch my kids tear open wrapping paper in a mad fury.  I can dip these scones in a cup of tea or coffee and read the paper…wait what?   I mean I can show my excitement for what Santa brought as I bite into this chocolate orange deliciousness.

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These are made with Almond Flour which is very nutritious and full of protein and fiber.   It is not a flour that can easily be substituted in other recipes though.   This recipe is from elanaspantry.com which is a recipe blog focused on baking with almond flour and other grain free recipes.    As someone who loves to bake but has been trying to move away from wheat flours and even gluten-free blends which are not very nutritious, this is the best news!   I just bought her cookbook Read the rest of this entry

Lima Bean, Kalamata Olive and Basil Salad

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I hope everyone has been enjoying their summer!  Mine has been great.  And busy.   Camping, picnics, music, guests,  birthday parties, shuffling kids to camps and activities, art shows, and finally, to really slow me down -back surgery.  It was long overdue and I am already feeling great.   No more hunching over in pain with a herniated disc while cooking over my stove.  I can walk with ease and it is such a great feeling!

So I am finally getting a new recipe on my site.     The kids are both in school and the transition I was worried about was almost too easy this morning!   Max is at his first day of Pre-K and has been really excited to start.   Cecilia has been less thrilled about going to school without her big brother but she was such a big girl this morning and there were no tears in sight.   Phew.

I don’t know where August went.  The first week was focused on Cecilia’s Birthday party which was all she could talk about this summer (she is so my daughter) . We had an Art Party and it was  a lot of fun and the finger painting was not as much of a mess as one might think.  But what are birthdays really about?   I mean you can have a great theme but what do the kids really want?  Cake.  It’s all about the cake.   And Cecilia talked about her birthday cake all summer.   If she was mad at Max, she would say, “your not going to get any of my birthday cake.”   That started in June!    She wanted a pink cake and she wanted a flower cake.   When I made her a pink cake in the shape of a flower, she asked, “where are the flowers?”  Sighhh.   “Honey, the cake IS a flower”   I made an ice box cake but instead of buying the Nabisco Chocolate Wafer cookies, I make my own using a variation of this recipe.  It  might be  my favorite cake ever.  Homemade chocolate wafers in between homemade whip cream.  I highly recommend trying this recipe. Read the rest of this entry

Lemon Blueberry Cake

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Eric and I have been talking about building a vegetable garden since we moved into this house about a year and a half ago and the weekend to start was finally here.   Our friend was remodeling a deck so Eric picked up the old redwood decking and we were ready to begin.   Now when I say “we”, I really mean Eric.  At this point with only thing I have done is watch.   Watch him rake the land and create a level spot, watch him saw wood, watch him hammer,  and really, I stopped watching after a short time and went on to do other stuff.  But I am so appreciative and am lucky to have such a willing husband!!  I will be actively participating once we get some soil and starters!

We were having some friends over that night so I was busy in the kitchen trying out some recipes and this is one I had to share.   It is the perfect summer dessert.  You could even get away with eating it for brunch.   This is a recipe I adapted from Ina Garten- The Barefoot Contessa.  I swapped some ingredients and added the blueberry twist.    I made this twice, once  with pastry flour and without added blueberries in the cake and the other time with blueberries in the cake batter and using a gluten free flour mix.  Both were great!  My son, Max, prefers it without blueberries but says “I looooooooove lemon cake.”

The party was fun and we had lots of food.  I made homemade foccacia with rosemary and grapes from smittenkitchen.com and some homemade egg rolls, Eric grilled up some shrimp and friends all brought dishes.   And for dessert, while the kids were busy make smores in the fire, the adults got to indulge in this cake.

Enjoy!

LEMON BLUEBERRY CAKE

(adapted from Ina Garten)

1 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour ( or use GF flour blend)

1/2 Cup Almond Flour

1 Cup Whole Milk Vanilla Yogurt

3 Farm Eggs

1/2 tsp Salt

1/2 cup Coconut Sugar

1/2 cup Sugar

1/2 Cup Coconut Oil, melted

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Zest of one Lemon

1/2 Cup Blueberries (optional)

For the Glaze

Juice of 2 Lemons

1 Cup Blueberries (frozen or fresh)

1/3 cup powdered sugar

TO MAKE:  Heat Oven to 350 degrees.   In a small bowl add the flours and salt and mix well.   In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, yogurt, sugars, oil, vanilla extract, and lemon zest.  Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and stir until well combined.   (Add 1/2 Cup of Blueberries if you so choose) Pour into a greases  pan ( I used a 8″ square pan but whatever you have is fine).    Bake for 40-45 minutes.

Here is one with blueberries added, and one without.  

Now for the Glaze…In a blender add 1/2 Cup Blueberries, Juice of 2 lemons and 1/3 Cup Powdered Sugar and blend until there are no chunks.  Once cake had cooled. spread the glaze over top.

Chocolate Orange Almond Biscotti

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I am a chocolate girl, dark chocolate that is.   I was going to try to have a chocolate recipe days ago, in time for Valentines Day but I am just not that organized.   I have actually spent the better part of the last week and a half on the couch with my son who is not feeling  well.   It’s been rough seeing our little guy in pain. But if I have to watch another Max & Ruby or Dinosaur Train show I am likely to go mad.   I had to take a break and get a little baking done.    The Trailhead Children’s Museum is having a bake sale this weekend and these yummy biscotti will be on the selling table!

I bought the kids a baking kit on Zulily, which is a discount website that I have a slight addiction to.  I am not allowing myself to make any more purchases for a while…well, unless they have an amazing deal on something I sort of need…I mean NO … I am not buying anything else for a while.  But I have gotten some really good deals on kid stuff as well as kitchen items, and maybe a couple of things just  for me:)  The kids were very excited for their kitchen tools and Cecilia helped me with this recipe.

I did some experimenting with this recipe, as far as the sugar/fat ratio.   My first challenge was trying to get them to look like biscotti instead of regular cookies and then I wanted to make a more wholesome recipe.   These are softer than traditional biscotti, but you could cook them longer if you want.     I am including two recipes in this post (3 counting my Gluten Free Flour Blend) – a more decadent version and a slightly healthier version.   The first batch was very low in fat, but high in sugar, and the final batch has more fat and less sugar.

I remember in high school when all the “fat-free” products came on the market.  My friends and I would buy boxes of Snackwell’s cookies and eat Swedish Fish by the handful.   I mean, they were fat-free after all.   Little did I realize that in taking out the fat, they just added more and more sugar.   Hydrogenated fat is bad,  Period.  But healthy fats are good for us and we shouldn’t be scared of some good healthy fats in our diet.

Baking at 9,000 feet can be challenging.  You usually need about half the leavening as the recipe calls for, a little less sugar and a little more flour.    But Gluten Free Baking at 9,000 feet can be down right frustrating.   It takes some experimenting and some disappointments but one important thing is not to add too much leavening (baking powder/soda).   I started making my own Gluten Free Flour Mix but if you don’t want to do that, Pamela’s  has a nice one as well as Bob’s Red Mill.   I read a great article on gluten the other day by Dr. Mark Hyman explaining how wheat has changed in the last 50 years and why it is contributing to so many diseases.  Click here to read the article.    A lot of people don’t understand why suddenly everyone seems to have a wheat allergy.    The wheat we are all eating is not the same wheat our great grandparents ate.

Of course, if  you want to eat wheat, you can just use regular flour instead of the GF variety.

Happy Baking!

Decadent Chocolate Orange Biscotti Recipe

1 3/4 Cups Gluten Free Flour Mix *

1/4 Cup Date Sugar

3/4 Cup evaporated Cane Sugar

1/4 Cup Brown Sugar

1/2 cup dutch Processes or Raw Cocoa

3/4 tsp baking powder (1 1/2 if you are at sea level)

1/8 tsp baking powder (1/4 if you are at sea level)

1/4 tsp salt

3 Eggs

1 Egg White

Zest of 1 Orange

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/2 tsp Orange Extract

1/2 Cup slivered Almonds, pistachios, or your favorite nut (optional)

1/2 Cup Dark Chocolate Chips

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.    In a large mixing bowls, combine flour, sugars, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt.    Mix well.   In another bowl, add Eggs, Orange Zest, Vanilla and Orange Extract.  Mix well.   Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well.   Let batter sit for a few minutes or put in the Fridge for about 10 minutes.   It will be sticky.   On a lined baking sheet, spread out half the batter into a long thin log…about 12 inched long x 3 inches wide.

Bake for 20 minutes.   Delicately and with a serrated knife, mark the biscotti at an angle into 1 inch wide pieces.   Bake for another 10-15 minutes.

Wholesome Chocolate Orange Biscotti

1 3/4 Cups (+ 2 TBS at high altitude) Gluten Free Flour Blend *

1/2 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa

1 tsp Baking Powder (double if at sea level)

1/8 tsp Baking Soda (double if at sea level)

1 tsp Salt

1/4 Cup Brown Sugar

2 Eggs

2 TBS Ground Flax Seed

6 TBS Water

1/2 Cup Rice Bran Oil ( Coconut or Vegetable Oil)

1/2 Cup Honey

Zest of 1 Orange

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/4 tsp Orange Extract

Preheat the Oven to 350.   In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and brown sugar.  Mix well.   In a small bowl, add the ground flax-seed and water.   Mix well and let sit for a few minutes.  In another bowl, add the eggs, orange zest, honey, oil, vanilla and orange extract and the flax-seed mix. Mix together well.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until well mixed.  Let sit for about 5 minutes.   The batter will be sticky.   On a lined baking sheet, spread out half the batter into a long thin log…about 12 inched long x 3 inches wide.

Bake for 20 minutes.   Delicately and with a serrated knife, mark the biscotti at an angle into 1 inch wide pieces.   Bake for another 10-15 minutes. Let cool and slice all the way through.

Gluten Free Flour blend
I make a big batch and store it in a glass container in the fridge.

4 Cups Brown Rice Flour

2 Cups Almond Flour

1 Cup Tapioca Flour

1 Cup Sweet Sorghum Flour

1/2 Cup Cornmeal

1/3 Cup Coconut Flour

1 tbs Xanthum Gum