69 posts categorized "Baking" Feed

Lavender Strawberry Ice Cream Cake, grain-free, low-carb

     Lavender Strawberry Icecream cake Storybook Woods 1

    My sister and I always have a tea for my mother on Mother's day. I wanted to make her something extra special and this ice cream cake was a big hit. Because my mother's is diabetic, and does not do dairy (except for butter), I made the cake grain free. The base of the cake is my lavender infused brownies, where you infuse the butter with herbs and then use that butter to make a chocolatey brownies (no cocoa powder here, all bittersweet chocolate :-) . Topped with strawberry ice cream and then lavender ganache. This cake was a BIG hit!! A little time consuming, but so worth the work!

Lavender Strawberry Icecream cake Storybook Woods

Lavender Strawberry Ice Cream Cake, grain-free, low-carb

Base, 1 Lavender Infused Butter Brownie Cake baked in a spring-form pan * see notes

1 pint (or so) strawberry ice cream, I made vegan ice cream but feel free to use what ice cream you love.

Dark Chocolate Lavender ganache


Assemble cake; let brownie base cool for 30 minutes after baking. Cover brownie with ice cream (if ice cream is frozen hard let it sit on your counter, or pop in microwave a minute, to soften a bit). Set cake in freezer and make ganache. Pour ganache over the ice cream. Cover pan with heavy foil and set cake in freezer. Freeze until ice cream is solid. Serve and enjoy!


Vegan Strawberries Ice Cream

1 1/2 cup cold coconut cream

1 cup cold coconut milk

1/2 cup sugar, I used coconut sugar

1 1/2 cups ripe strawberries

pinch of sea salt


Blend all ingredients with a blender stick or in a blender until smooth. Run in ice cream maker for 30 minutes and store in freezer until ready to assemble cake. I make the ice cream when I pull out the cake, so the ice cream is ready when the brownie is cool and the ice cream is still soft enough to spread over the brownie.


Lavender Ganache

1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate
1/2 cup cream
1 TBL lavender buds ** see note

Heat the cream, chocolate and lavender over low heat until chocolate is melted. Do NOT let the mixture boil. Set chocolate aside for 15 minutes, then strain out lavender buds through a sieve. Discard lavender.



* Bake your brownie in a spring form pan. It makes it easier to serve the cake. Normally I under cook my brownies but for this recipe make sure the brownies are fully cooked

** You can also use food grade lavender oil, I use Young Living, instead of lavender buds. 3-5 drops depending on your taste.

Lavender Strawberry Icecream cake Storybook Woods 5











Snowball Cookies, Grain-Free and Vegan

Grain-free snowball cookies 3 storybook woods
   I am re-posting this because the old link got deleted. I have to say this is still a favorite of mine!

   I have several family members and friends who cannot eat gluten and are doing low-carb, so I like to have a few recipes tucked away for them. Honestly, even though my family is not gluten sensitive, I make these cookies for us because they are so insanely good. Enjoy!

  Grain free snowball cookies 202 storybook woods

Snowball Cookies, Grain-Free and Vegan

Makes a baker’s dozen


1 ¼ cup almond flour

¼ cup coconut flour

½ tsp arrow root powder (doing low-carb like me, I use psyllium husk powder instead)

½ tsp salt

½ tsp vanilla extract

½ cup sugar, I use coconut sugar

½ cup melted virgin coconut oil

1-2 TBL mild tasting olive oil

Powdered sugar


Pre-heat oven 325◦F

Melt coconut oil and set aside. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or silicone pad.

In a mixer bowl add all ingredients except the oils and powdered sugar. Mix together, then with the paddle on slow setting, slowly add the coconut oil. Next slowly add olive oil. You should be able to gently squeeze dough into a ball. If not, slow add a bit more oil until you can. You really cannot roll this dough, but you can gently squeeze it into a ball. It does not have to be a perfect shaped ball!  

Bake 15-20 minutes, until slightly golden around the edges.. Let cookies cool on baking sheet 5 minutes and then shift some powdered sugar over them. Do not move cookies, because they will brake. But when they are completely cooled then you can store them in an airtight container or enjoy!.



Gluten/grain free baked items tend to be crumbly, so leave them on the cookie sheet (this is why you want the parchment paper) until they have fully cooled.

When you serve them if they are not powdery enough, you can sift some more sugar over the cookies.

You can make them smaller for more of a bite size, but I would not make them bigger.

These cookies store well for a few days, if you put them in an airtight container.

Grain-free snowball cookies storybook woods


Soda Bread, grain-free

Grain free soda bread storybook woods

    I do this every year. I make a loaf of soda bread for Saint Paddy’s day, love it and scold myself for not making it more often. I mean their is easy to make, keeps well unbaked in the freezer and is delish. I am determined to keep mini loaves in the freezer. I tried a grain-free version and even my family loved it, so I thought I would share with you. It is a bit different then the other GF recipes floating around. I know there is a long list of tips but please read through them. Fist off, I feel like if a cook can explain their recipe to you, if they understand it, then one can trust the recipe more. Second, if you are new to grain free baking some of the tips might help you!


Soda Bread, grain-free

Makes 4 individual soda breads or 12 small biscuits


Dry ingredients

 2 cups almond flour

¼ cup coconut flour

1 tsp. xanthan gum

2 tsp. sweetener, I use coconut sugar

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda


4 TBL. cold butter, cut into small cubes


Wet ingredients

⅟₈ cup dried currents

Zest of one large lemon peel or 5 drops of food grade lemon oil, I use Young Living

1 large egg

½ cup buttermilk

Put all dry ingredients in a food processor (or can be done by hand with a bowl). Pulse all dry ingredients together. Add cubed butter and pulse butter until it is pea size. Rule on the size of the butter being too big, you can fix those big pieces in the next step.

Dump flour/butter mixture in a large bowl. Feel around for pieces of butter that feels bigger than a pea. Smear them into the flour with your fingers. Add currents and toss, so they do not stick together.

In a separate small bowl whisk together buttermilk, egg and lemon zest or oil and add to flour.

Cover a cookie sheet with a piece of parchment paper. Divide dough into four balls. Using wet hands shape each ball into a flatten disk and cut a cross into the dough.

You need your butter to harden before baking, so I pop the cookie sheet into the freezer for ½ hour while the oven pre-heats. You can completely freeze these (I keep bags of them in the freezer) and you can bake them off frozen.

Pre-heat oven 300◦F Bake 20-30 minutes. If they are fully frozen, they make take a few minutes longer. Plus depending on how your oven runs. Just start checking them about 20 hour minutes. Let cool before eating.


1. The reason why these are not all almond flour is by adding a bit of coconut flour, it gives these a more stable biscuit. They do not crumble quite as much, which is a problem with grain-free baking.

2. Also the xanthan gum give a bread feel to the biscuit and gives more of a texture of regular soda bread. But a little gum goes a long way, so do not think if some is good, more is great.

3. Feel free to leave out the sweetener, I just personally like it that way.

4. Flavors, I like lemon peel and currants is what I like but you could add any spice or dried fruit you like. They are also good plain! Also I do not know why by the lemon flavor seems to get lost, so do use more zest than you normally would.

5. Do not have buttermilk on hand? Soured whole milk is what I use.

6. This comes together as wet dough, using wet hands to scoop up a 1/4 of the dough and shape the loaves work best.

7. Remember that coconut flour absorbs 3 times it weight. So in a minute or two the dough will firm up a bit.

8. It is important to keep the loves not too big and bake on a lower temp. They are basically ground almonds and nuts can burn. By keeping them smaller, they will bake quicker.

9. Do not move them off the cookie sheet until they have cooled. Like I mentioned before, grain-free baked items tend to be crumbly. Letting them cool before moving them helps.


Café Cookies, grain-free

Café cookie insta Storybook Woods

    I am a HUGE fan of slice n' bake cookies kept in the freezer. They are easy to put together, freeze well and whenever you need a treat or visitors are stopping by, you can just slice off a few and bake them off frozen as needed. It is hard to find grain-free baked treats that are both yummy and not time consuming. I found these amazing grain-free Rosemary Shortbread cookies that have become my go to cookie. I played with the recipe and came up with my contribution, chocolate/coffee version. You cannot go wrong with these! Especially when my picky eater even loved them, then I knew I had a hit!

Café cookies Storybook Woods

Café Cookies, grain free

Make about 2 dozen


1 ¾ cup almond flour

¼ cup coco powder

1-2 tsp. instant coffee, depending on the coffee and how strong you like it

½ cup unsalted butter, softened

3 TBL. sugar (I used coconut) *see note about amounts

1 tsp. salt


Put all ingredients except the butter in a food processor and with the pulse button mix together. Cut butter into small cubes and added to dry mixture. Pulse to start mixing the butter and flour together. Then mix until the dough rolls into a ball. If after a minute if the dough does not come together, sprinkle a bit of water. The dough should be like a soft play dough. On a piece of parchment or wax paper, shape dough into a long log. Wrap and set in fridge for an hour or the freeze.

Pre-heat oven 300◦F  Slice cold dough into ¼ inch slices. Set cookies on parchment paper. Bake 12-15 minutes. Let cookies cool on the cookies sheet. They will crumble if you try to move them warm. Then enjoy!!

Note about sugar. These cookies are slightly bitter and not sweet. I need to consume as little sugar as possible, so this the amount of sweetener I use. Depending in how bitter your instant coffee is you can change the amount to suite your liking. Also the sugar amount could be upped all the way to a 1/3 cup. You could also use regular sugar if you like. I use coconut because it is so low on the glycemic level. Play with the amounts of coffee/sugar and enjoy!!

Café cookie! Storybook Woods

Roasted Pear Sauce Cake, grain-free


    So I posted last week about my Roasted Pear Sauce , which I have to say is brilliant (and I am not bragging, I took some to my mom and she LOVED it)! It is amazing all on it's own. With potato pancakes, homemade yogurt or shortbread cookies but I wanted ot create a recipe using the pear sauce. I mentioned on FB (as I often post what I am cooking for dinner) I had made this amazing cake using the pear sauce. Everyone wanted the recipe, so here we are. It is grain-free (because that is what I can only eat but you can use the pear sauce with any apple sauce cake recipe) and easy but please read all my notes below the recipe. Not that I am trying to make the recipe harder but I think if you understand a recipe, what you are trying to create, you will have a better produce in the end. Plus if someone cannot explain to me what and how their recipe is all about, I am weary of their recipe. Enjoy!!



Roasted Pear Sauce Cake, grain and dairy free

Makes 8’ round cake

Please read all my notes before making the cake.


2 ½ cup almond flour
2 TBL. psyllium husk powder
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ cup sugar
⅟ᴣ cup coconut oil, melted
2 eggs
1 cup roasted pear sauce

Pre-heat oven 300◦F

Grease a round cake pan (or a loaf pan). Start by melting your coconut oil and then set aside. In a large bowl shift all dry ingredients. In a small bowl whisk together wet ingredients and then add them to dry. Stir the wet and dry together. Scrap batter into pan. Bake 40-50 minutes (see notes on how to tell when the cake is cooked). Let cool in pan and then enjoy! The cake is good and moist for at least 3 days.



1. Now about how to tell when the cake is cooked? I will be honest, it is hard to tell. This is a veryyy moist cake. Plus almond flour cakes have no gluten and do not bake up firm like a regular cakes. This is what I look for when baking; the center to feel like the edges. The cake will rise a bit but it is still soft. Not totally mushy like when it is first baking. Since the edges cook first, I look for the center to be similar to the edge. Also let the cake completely cool in the pan. It will fall apart if not.

2. You will see there are no spices or vanilla in the recipe. That is because my pear sauce already has so much flavor and I want to highlight that. If you are using a sauce with no spices, you would want to add them to the batter.

3. The amount of sugar is somewhat reflective of the sweetness of your sauce. If it is very sweet you could cut down the amount of sugar to a ⅟ᴣ cup and if it is not sweet at all you could add a bit more. It is really about what you like and how sweet the pear sauce is. I use coconut sugar but brown sugar would be really good in this.

4. The cake can be made with apples sauce too. I try to look for fruit that is ripe and smells good BUT still a bit firm.

5. If I have ripe pears on-hand I cut them into bite size squares. Set them in the pan and pour/spread the batter over them.

6. If you cannot get your hands on psyllium husk powder, you can use coconut flour too. I do not like it as well but in a pinch it will work.

7. I also make these in muffin tins. They will make about 12 muffins and bake more like 30 minutes.

No-Knead Buttermilk Sandwich Bread


    Chloe got braces and this means she cannot eat my artisan bread, the crust to too much for her. So ... (I shutter to share this) I indulged her for a while and bought, (gross and cheap) squishy white bread. But indulgences (and hot summer weather) is over. For years I have been making Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day bread. I keep a big bucket of dough in the fridge and make a loaf of boule every other day. It is sooo easy, even a four year old can make it. But I have never made Buttermilk Sandwich Bread (in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a day book, page 207) with this method and I have to say is was a big success. Also it is just as easy. I am not not going to post the recipe here because the author has not but check your library and see if they have the book. If you really cannot get your hands on the book, look around others have blogged it. So here are some notes and reasons why you should make your own sandwich bread!!


  • First off bread is expensive, especially is you are looking for organic!! It cost pennies to make a loaf bread. I like to use that money I saved to buy French cheese ;-)
  • If you need soft bread like I do for Chloe the buttermilk version really helps create a softer product.
  • Notes about buttermilk. Number one use whole fat buttermilk! It is the fat that gives you the softer dough. What if you do not have buttermilk on hand like I did not, you can use any of these: soured whole milk, yogurt (just thin it a bit with a TBL or so of water) or kiefer from yogurt or making cheese (mine is from making ricotta). I have not tried sour cream, it might or might not work (again thin it a bit with water). So the fat/acid combo is what you want for soft bread!
  • Like I said it takes like a minute to put together. 2 hours to rise, 30 seconds to shape and 30 minutes to bake. There are tons of tutorials on the subject but here is a great one for shaping the dough for a loaf pan.
  • Note, my favorite pan for making loaf bread is Norpro because I like the bumpy sides (instead of smooth) which allows little pockets of air to get in and makes it easier to remove the loaf from the pan.
  • If you have children, this is a great family project. Actually my daughters will start making this from now on because really the bread is for them.
  • Lastly once you master this dough. you can make a ton of things from it. I made some cinnamon rolls, amazing!! One dough on-hand=lots of options (and money saved)!!



Chocolate Lavender Butter Brownies, grain-free


    The summer issue of Gatherings is out (and I made the cover, woohoo ;-). Sadly this is our finally issue. I am sorry to see Gatherings end but I think we are ending on our best work yet and that is a beautiful way to end. I learned so much being a food editor. Working with Annetta Bosakova (all the photos are her work) and Heather Spriggs Thompson has been such a learning experience and I grew quite close to both of them. Heather has always trusted my "food vision" for the magazine and I cannot tell you how much that means to me. Annetta is always able to take what is in my minds eye and make it come to life. That is not an easy task but then she is very gifted.


  The summer issue has a recipe for making Herb Infused Butter (which is very different from herb butter. I keep jars of it in my fridge for cooking). There is also two recipes using the butter: Grilled Chicken with Bay Butter/Honey Glaze and Lavender Butter Chocolate Brownies. I am always looking for new way to use fresh herbs!

    These brownies can be made gluten free, whole wheat or regular but I wanted to post a grain-free version here on the blog, for anyone struggling with high blood sugar like me. This brownie is a twist of my daughter’s all-time favorite dessert, all chocolate brownies. There is no coco powder in this recipe; it is all chopped chocolate, butter and not a lot of flour,. They are rich, dense and a small bite goes a long way. The twist is I first infused the butter with lavender before making the brownies. It is a simple way to give them a little something! I bet they will become a family favorite for you too!


Chocolate Lavender Butter Brownies  

Makes 8x8 pan


1 cup bittersweet, 60-80 percent dark chocolate, chips or chopped

½ cup lavender infused butter, see notes below

1 ½ cup sugar

3 eggs

½ tsp. salt

1 cup almond flour

2 TBL coconut flour


If you do not have lavender butter on-hand, make butter first.

Pre-heat oven 350°F and grease an 8x8 baking pan.

In a sauce pan set on the lowest setting of your stove gently melt chocolate and butter until the chocolate is melts. Then whisk in sugar. Next whisk in eggs, one at a time. Stir in salt, almond and coconut flours. The batter is thick but pourable. Fill greased pan and bake 15-20 minutes. Just until the side puff up a bit and the center is not runny. I like my brownies very soft, so I bake 15 minutes. Let cool in pan.


Lavender Infused Butter

Makes ½ cup


1 stick (1/2 cup) butter. I use unsalted, grass-fed butter

5-7 fresh lavender heads (you can use the steams too. I use a bit of both)


Set butter and lavender in a small sauce pan, gentlying melting butter on the lowest setting of your stove. If butter starts to sizzle or brown, pull it off the heat. You are just trying to melt the butter without breaking the butter fat, so you do not want the butter to boil or fry. When butter is melted, pull pan off heat and let the butter and lavender sit for half an hour. If butter has hardened, re-melt, strain out the herbs and pour butter into a container. Butter will keep 2 weeks refrigerated.



Please use organic unsprayed lavender.

Mint or anise hyssop would be good herbs to use in this recipe. You can use dried lavender too, about a TBL but fresh is so much better.

Feel free to try these brownies without herb infused butter. This is just a pain old good brownie recipe and our family favorite for years.

A regular or gluten-free version of this recipe and the grilled chicken and herb infused butter is in the Summer 2014 Gatherings Magazine

Pantry Urn


  Most of you know I have a large kitchen. Two rooms in fact! One room was a breakfast nook but I turned it into a baking pantry. I suspected having a space with all my grains, equipment and supplies, organized and easy to reach would inspire me to bake more and I was right.


   Now I realize I am a lucky girl to have such a big kitchen and most of you do not have a whole room just for baking but hopefully some of my organization tips will help and inspire you.


    My latest idea is to take my whisks, rolling pin, baking spatulas, etc. and put them all in an old silver urn I was gifted. I found when I was in the middle of baking, my hands covered in flour, it was hard to open a draw and search through it for what I forgot to grab before I started baking. This way it is right where I can see it without getting dough all over everything. Everything easy to find, easy to grab. Plus it looks so pretty, an extra!


A few other baking organization tips.

1. I have 2 sets of baking cups and spoons. One set for wet, one for dry.

2. I buy in bulk and keep everything in glass jars on shelves, so I can easily see everything.

3. I group my gluten free on one shelf.

4. I have 2 sifters, one for flour and one for coco powder, so I do not have to rinse the coco one.

5. If you have room a low, long chest of drawers makes perfect storage for cookie sheets and pans.

6. I find being able to see everything helps me. So I try to make art out of my storage. Pretty and useful is my goal in my kitchen!

Largurn cut

Decorating Your Pie


    I do not know you but even though I make pies year around, Thanksgiving is all about pies to me. Christmas is more about decadent mousses or frozen treats, Easter is about fruit and Thanksgiving is pies! I will admit I am a bit lazy about my pies. I throw the crust in the pan and do a quick crimped edge. Which is fine for everyday but I think I need to bling up my pies a bit for the holidays. If you feel the same way, here is some fun ideas for the top of your pie!



Top image






second image

Molasses Pecan Pie w/ Pumpkin

Pecan pumpie

    Pecan pie is a family favorite but I wanted to take it in a different direction. With Thanksgiving coming up I thought something with a pumpkin and gingerbread flavors would be interesting. So this is my take on pecan pie, slightly pumpkin, very molasses tasting, almost gingerbread like in flavor. Please know this is not a pumpkin pie with molasses and pecans, it is pecan pie, soft and slightly runny with pumpkin and molasses. Two very different pies!  I think this pie will become a family must every Thanksgiving in our house!

Molasses Pecan Pie w/ Pumpkin

3/4 cup pumpkin, cooked and pureed
1/3 cup molasses, I use black strap molasses but you can use a milder flavored one.
3 TBL butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup coconut sugar or brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla paste or 2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 TBL dark rum or apple cider
1 tsp salt
1tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1 1/2-2 cups pecan halves, lightly toasted
one uncooked pie crust, you can use a gluten free crust of you like

Pre-heat oven 350◦F
In a large bowl add all ingredients except the pecans and crust. Whisk all together and pour into uncooked crust. Then set toasted pecans on top in a pretty pattern, or just tossed them in ;-)
Bake 35-45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Pull out pie and let cool at least thirty minutes. The pie is delicious served with a dollop of homemade whipped cream!


1. This pie is not very sweet and has a strong molasses flavor. If that does not appeal to you, you can use 1/4 cup molasses and 1/4 cup maple. The small increase in liquid will not affect the filling.

2. Using fresh cooked pumpkin taste so much better than canned pumpkin. It is easy to cook and puree a pumpkin. I keep small amounts of cooked pumpkin in my freezer, ready to use. You can read about how to cook you pumpkin here.

3. Please toast your pecans before making your pie. It makes all the difference in the world, as I learned with my first pie, when I did not toast the pecans, thinking they would just toast as the pie baked. They did NOT!

4. Feel free to play with spices you love but I will tell you I found too many spices over shadowed the pie. Also fresh, ground nutmeg adds so much flavor than the dried stuff.


No-Knead Rosemary Focaccia w/ Grape Trick

Grape 00

    I bake some form of bread just about every day of my life! But it is easy and that is because I make no-knead dough. I keep a big buck of pre-made dough in my fridge so that I can make bread any time I want. I highly recommend this method and one of my favorite things to make is focaccia. You can put any topping on it from plain salt to pizza topping or in this case rosemary and grapes. I especially like making this on busy weekends. 2 hours or more before we eat I quickly pull together this focaccia. If I do not have dough on-hand it only takes a minute or so to mix together and 2 hours sitting. It is very easy and there is NO kneading.

    Now onto my grape trick! It is very simple really, I just keep grapes in the freezer. I pop them on the dough frozen. Grapes keep beautifully in the freezer. I just add some fresh chopped rosemary that I have year around and this is a side dish that I always have on-hand!


No-Knead Rosemary Focaccia w/ Grape Trick

Makes one pan


A batch of no-knead dough, see below

Sprinkle some good sea salt on dough

I like to sprinkle a bit for dried, granulated garlic

1-2 TBL finely chopped, fresh rosemary

12 or so frozen grapes, just push them down in the dough


Pour about ½ cup of olive oil in a 6"x10" pan (but any size will work, just do not use a really small or big pan). You can use more or less oil if you want, I actually do not measure. You want to generously cover the dough with enough oil pooling a bit in the holes you press down. Take your dough and set it in oil, turning it over a few times. You want to make sure the doudh is completly coated in oil. Then press out the dough and push down in spots, making small holes in the dough. If it looks like there is not enough oil, drizzle a bit more. Then add your toppings, leave dough uncovered until ready to bake.


If using fresh made dough, pre-heat oven now and let focaccia sit 1 hour and then bake.


If using dough from fridge, cold dough, you can let the focaccia sit anywhere from 1-4 hours. If you have the time, let the dough sit and warm up. If not, you can bake it after one hour of resting. Pre-heat oven at lest 45 minutes,



Pre-heat oven 400◦F for an hour. Set an empty pan off to the side in the oven when you first turn on the oven. When ready to bake set focaccia in oven and quickly pour 1 cup of cold water in the empty, hot pan and close the oven door. This creates steam and helps the dough rise. Bake 20-30 minutes, until bread is golden brown. Enjoy!             




No-Knead Dough


2 ½ cup all purpose flour

1 tsp dried yeast

1 tsp sugar

½ tsp sea salt (if using kosher salt, use 1 tsp.)

⅟₈ cup olive oil

Water, should feel warm to your wrist but not hot, start w/ 1 cup and drizzle in more as needed

In a large bowl stir well together flour, yeast, sugar and salt. To center of flour pour 1 cup water and the ⅟₈ cup olive oil. Stir with a dough whisk or large spoon. Dough should come together in a loose ball. If there is still lots of flour left, mix in more water. Do not worry if there is a small amount of flour on the sides. Cover the bowl with a lid or plate. You want it covered but not air tight. Set aside in a warm place for 2 hours. Then make focaccia or set bowl covered in fridge until ready to use. The dough will last a week in fridge.



The picture above is a pan of focaccia I had just assembled. It is before it rises, before I baked it, so you can see what I am describing in the directions.

I actually make 4 times the amount of no-knead dough and keep that is the fridge. It last me anywhere from a week to a week and half.

You can make anything from this dough: baguette, French bread, cinnamon rolls and so much more.

Also in the picture there is probably more oil then I have in the recipe. As I said, I do NOT measure, more is fine, less is too. It just depends on how crispy and greasy you want it ;-)


Simple Grain-Free Peanut Butter Cookies

    Peanut cookie

    So my new addiction is grain-free peanut butter cookies! There is no flour in them at all and they are incredibly easy to make. The recipe has been around for a long time but I cut the amount of sugar down and used coconut sugar, although any sugar will work. Basically these are dump, mix and bake cookie. Perfect for a busy day!!

    PS. In the picture I have made mini ice cream sandwiches with two peanut butter cookies and a tiny scoop of vanilla ice cream. It was heavenly xox

PSS. Isn't the sweet nest made by Vintage Rabbit Acres lovely? I met Joy my last trip to CA and we became fast friends!!

Peanut cookie1

Simple Grain-Free Peanut Butter Cookies

Make a dozen cookies

1 cup creamy peanut butter (I found chunky does bind as well)*

3/4 cup coconut sugar or brown sugar or whatever you eat (but I would not use a liquid sweetener like honey or maple)

1 egg

salt, a pinch to a tsp. depending how much salt you like

1 tsp vanilla extract


Pre-heat oven 350˚F

In a mixer with a paddle (or you can use a food processor) add all ingredients. Mix about a minute until it comes together, kind of like play dough. Roll or gently squeeze dough into small balls, set on a cookies sheet lined with parchment paper. Press down center of dough with thumb. Bake 12 minutes. Let cool and enjoy!

*A note about the consistency. Since I know all you readers are amazing cooks, you know nut butters variety in constancy. Some are very oily and some are very dry. I have used both and both made a yummy cookie but each with a different texture. I would not worry too much about an oily butter but if you are using a crumbly, dry butter you might want to add a TBL or so of a mild flavored olive oil to the dough. The perfect consistency would be a soft play dough but do not worry about it too much. As long as you can gently roll/squeeze the dough into a ball.

Simply, Rich Pumpkin Pie (dairy free, GF or not!!)

    Simp pump

    A friend of mine asked about how I make pumpkin pie. She is trying to perfect her's and had read soooo many recipes. Some used milk, some evaporated, some honey, so many recipes and well ... so confusing. I realized as I chatted with her I have not posted my pumpkin pie recipe, which is very simple and rich. But I will share with you what I think is the secret to a good pumpkin pie. It is the ingredients, really more than a recipe. First and for most is the pumpkin. Canned pumpkin will not cut it. You have to use, fresh pumpkin. You also have to use a good cooking pumpkin. Those big carving pumpkins are stringy, not sweet and watery. A good cooking pumpkin is sweet, creamy and does not put out a lot of water. There are more and more kinds of cooking pumpkins out there, so do your research. You can cook and freeze your pumpkin ahead of time. As a mater of fact, you can freeze this filling ahead of time too. I have my uncooked pie crust and filling in the freezer, ready to pull out, defrost, pour filling in shell and bake!!

    Second I think you need good cream, fresh eggs and fresh spices. The fresher and less messed with the better (Like can condensed milk, I am sorry but I do not get that stuff. It does not replace good cream at all). Also how fresh are your dried spices? Is there dust on the bottle? Are they more that a year old? If so, dump it! If you are lucky enough to have a store that sells spices in bulk, then buy small amounts. It is so, so much cheaper and tastes better. I listed the spices in this recipe I like but add/change to your liking. I go a bit light with spice because I do not want to cover up the yummy pumpkin flavor. And I think that is the point. If you hate the taste of the pumpkin, you are using the wrong pumpkin, not the wrong recipe. I have to say, I have had several people tell me they hate pumpkin pie but love mine. So if that helps sell it ;-P


Simply, rich pumpkin pie

Makes one pie

2 cups cooked puréed pumpkin *note
generous 1/2 cup sugar, evaporated cain or coconut sugar
scant 1/4 cup molasses
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups cream or coconut milk **
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp dried ginger, ground
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup brandy or dark rum, I basically in pour a big splosh!

one pie crust ***

Pre-heat oven to 350˚F

In a large bowl mix all together with a whisk or blender stick, until mixed. Pour into pre-paired pie crust and bake for 45-55 minutes. Until center is cooked and crust is browned. Please see note below about making it gluten free.



* My favorite baking pie is long pie, it looks like a giant zucchini. It starts off green but as you get more into December is will turn orange. It is fine to use green but the long you wait, the sweeter it gets. You can also make this with any winter squash or sweet potatoes.

** To make your pie dairy free use coconut milk. You can use any milk or cream but the higher the fat, the richer it is (and in my opinion the better. Heck the holidays only come once a year!!).

*** To make this dish gluten free simple cook in without the crust, like a pudding. I cook mine in a bain marie at 325˚F for 1-1 1/2 hours until the center is cooked. By cooking it in a bain marie and a low temps it keeps the custard soft and silky. You can bake the filling in one big pan or small ramekins. Obviously if you do ramekins, the pudding will cook in a shorter time!

In the picture I have two bowls of filling I am preparing for the freezer. One is regular, which I will bake in a pie shell on Thanksgiving. The other is the GF and DF filling, which I will bake like a pudding. Simple and easy but a delicious alternative for everyone!


Fruitcake Reminder


Well it is that time of year, fruitcake!!! I will be making ours in a week. I always make my chocolate cherry fruitcake. It would not be Christmas without it. If you are not a big fruitcake fan, then you probably will like this one. It does not have a lot of citron (which is what most people hate).My friend Angie makes an amazing fruitcake with lots of dried fruit, it is very different from mine, based off Clear Creek Distillery recipe. Check out her post, she has some great fruitcake tips too.We both swap cakes, so we have a bit of each. It is fun to share. So do you love fruitcake?? If so what kind do you love?

Fruitcake 125

Some Frugal Baking Tips

Armory kit

Welcome first day of fall and that means baking, well to me it does. My freezer is empty and needs to be refilled. Here are some frugal and helpful baking tips for me and you!!!

1: A tip for appliances storage that is out in the open, start using pillow cases to protect your appliances. I have a new kitchen cabinet that stores bigger appliances but it is open. I have all hardwood floors (plus I am terrible housekeeper  :-) and dust is a big issue in my house. So I started using old pillow cases to protect my appliances. It is easy to just slip the pillow case over an appliance. If the case is too big, just cut it down on two side and sew it back up to make a smaller bag. Works great!!!

2: When I am making things like cookies, muffins or mini cakes I count out the chocolate chips and add them to the top or middle. For example when I make chocolate chip cookies, I count out 4 chips (I used the bittersweet ones and they are bigger) and push them into the scoop of raw dough on the cookie sheet before baking them off. I find 1, I use less chocolate and 2, then everyone gets the same amount of chocolate. Which is really, really important. No cookies with a ton and some with almost nothing. This also works great with berries. I just made blueberry muffins this morning. I fill each cup half way, set in 5 frozen blueberries and finished filling the cups with more dough. Equal amounts, use less and no blueberry streaks. I call that a win/win!!

3: This is not a new idea (I have blogged about it numerous times) but I freeze unbaked items like muffins, small cakes, scones, biscuits, cookies, ect. When I want some I pull out exactly what I want (which is usually 1-2 per-person) and bake it off frozen. Frozen muffin fit right back in the tin and bake off just fine. It might take 2-5 minutes longer but not much. This way I always have on-hand items for busy days, fresh baked always taste better (as opposed to baked, than frozen, than defrosted) and I can control how much we eat. Because in my family, if I bake a whole batch of cookies we will eat them all :-o

4: I keep a big bag of yeast in the freezer. I have found it lasts me 2-3 years!!

5: Instead of keeping oat flour on-hand, I just keep oats (thick rolled is my fav.) on hand. I grind up oats in a food processor or blender. If it is a small amount I use my coffee grinder. Easy and one less thing to store.

6: Soaking and then drying dark, skinned nuts is healthier and makes for a better tasting nut. My husband hates walnuts, he finds them bitter but by soaking them and drying them in a dehydrator, he loves them! They also have this nice crispness about them. Here is a video about why soaking brown skinned nuts makes them healthier.

7: I find unsalted, sweet butter can be less expensive than salted butter and it is better for cooking. I buy butter in large quantities (like Costco), cut it up into 1/2 cup pieces myself, wrap it in freezer paper and then keep that in a freezer baggie in the freezer. I still buy salted butter but we only use that for eating.

8: Lastly vanilla bean paste. It is my new best friend!!! How did I not know about this? I was at T J Max and saw some in the food section. I thought it would be a think paste but it is not, more like a glycerin gel with vanilla (seeds and all). It has an intense, lovely flavor and a little goes a long way. I just use the tip of a knife to scoop of a small bit. So this means it is also a frugal choice. I will get dozens of uses out of this small jar. Just think how many vanilla beans that would be and how much that would cost. I paid half price too because I got it at a discount store. So check those food isles!!!

PS. if you are new to my blog. I have more posts on frugal baking and cooking. You can read them here.

A Pumpkin Pie Reminder


Lily bake

     Wren sits at her worn, wooden table making a Thanksgiving list. She has learned that her lists are usually too ambitious but she is determined to be organized this year. “Let’s see.” She hums to herself. “Well turkey of course. Seth and Devlin will go hunting this Saturday for a wild turkey. I am so glad Seth will be smoking it. He does such an amazing job with his prized hams. Oh, I need to remind Thayer to get some fresh oranges for me when he is in Boston for the brine. I harvested plenty of shallots. With the fresh orange juice, I think it will make a wonderful brine for the turkey.”

     She stands and pulls the singing kettle off the stove. Then pours the hot water in a cup filled with fresh apple peels, a dash of grated nutmeg and a sliver of candied ginger. Her new favorite tea! With all the apple dishes she has been making, it is a nice way to use the peel. Covering the cup with a small plate, she continues on with her list as the peels steeps.

     “Devlin wants me to make stuffing with apple-sausages and chestnuts. I think I will make some rosemary bread for the stuffing. Mash potatoes and gravy is a must! The boys will be so sad if we do not make any. I am making Mimi’s cranberries in port wine tomorrow. It will keep for a week. I think steamed green beans with olive oil and lemon zest will brighten up the meal a bit and a salad of bitter greens to clean the palette is in order. Mary is making an apple/cheddar soup and buttermilk pie for dessert.”

     Straining out the peel and spices, Wren adds a dash of honey and takes her cup to the front sitting room. She sits down at Grace’s table with the floral mother of pearl inlay and looks out the window. This has been her favorite spot lately. She looks out over the fruit orchards, which is bare now, but she can see the lake and the rolling hills beyond filled with deep reds and flaming gold. Autumn is putting on a quite a show this year. Wren can see the cows out in the field and the steam coming from their nostrils. They will get culled apples for Thanksgiving. Last year Lily put a bow on each apple, which the cows ate. Seth was not happy!

     She continues to write. “Lily and I are going to make apples stuffed with dried cranberries, walnuts and butter. Add some maple syrup and cream drizzled on top, yum! So what can I do today? I baked and pureed the long pie pumpkins yesterday. I think I will make a double batch of pumpkin pie filling and freeze it in the ice house. That and the pie crust. Then on Thanksgiving all I have to do is pull out the crust and filling, defrost and bake away. Plus I will have extra for another night. Or maybe I will take a pie to Miss. Larkin? She always has a wonderful book for me to check out of the library.”

     After making a reminder to cut herbs from Grace’s garden early Thanksgiving morning, Wren feels like she has a plan and that helps her to relax. After a delicious dinner of ham, apple, potato pie with a cheddar crust, Devlin watches Wren glue slips of paper’s around feathers. She writes the name of a person on the paper.

     “What are you doing my dear?” Devlin is always amazed at how Wren uses what she has.

     “They are for the Thanksgiving table. I thought each person could write what they are thankful for this year on the back of the paper. Then they would have a keepsake.”

     She looks him with those wide, gray eyes, waiting for him to laugh at her. Instead he leans over, kissing her neck and whispers. “I know what I am thankful for this year!”

Dear readers, this is a great time to make pie filling and crust for the holidays. One to-do, checked off your list xox

Image from Wildflower photos


Chocolate Cherry Fruitcake

Choccherry cake

    Well it is time for a fruitcake reminder!!! There is only a few items I make year after year and my cherry chocolate fruitcake is one on them. It is a favorite and if you do not like fruitcake, you will love this one. This fruitcake has both sweet and sour cherries, dried figs (because they have a bit of a cherry flavor themselves), a hint of orange to perk things up and hunks of bittersweet chocolate to gild the lily. I find the reason most people do not like fruitcake is because of the candied citron. This recipe does not have citron but it does have candied orange peel. If you do not like candied peels you can leave them out and use the zest of two oranges instead. Feel free to play with the combo of fruits, just end up with the same total amount, 2 cups. The same goes with the nuts.

Choccherry cak

    I like to use bittersweet chocolate and sour cherries to make up for all those sweet candied cherries. Even though they are very sweet, they are Christmas'y to me. Of course the better the chocolate you use, the better your fruitcake will be. I use port wine because it mirrors the taste of dried cherries, figs, raisins, etc. and helps add a depth of flavor. You can use good old rum or brandy too. I have gotten a lot of feedback since I first posted this recipe 5 years ago and I have gotten nothing but rave reviews. So I encourage you to give it a try xox

Choccherry cake 202

Chocolate Cherry Fruitcake

Makes 2 loafs or 4 mini loafs


¼ cup golden raisin

½ cup sour dried cherries, cut in half

½ cup candied cherries, cut in half

¼ cup dried figs, cut in small cubes

½ cup candied orange peel or the zest of two oranges

1 generous cup bittersweet chocolate, chopped or chips

½ cup hazelnuts, toasted, skinned and chopped

½ cup pecans, toasted and chopped

½ cup (one stick) softened butter

2 eggs

¾ cup sugar

1 TBL. vanilla extract

¼ cup port (or milk)

¾ cup milk

1 ½ cups all pourpus flour

¼ cup coco powder

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

bottle of port


Pre-heat oven 350˚F

1. In a large bowl mix all fruit, nuts and chopped chocolate.

2. In a mixer bowl cream butter and sugar together.

3. Then mix in eggs and vanilla, scrap down sides.

4. Sift in separate bowl flour, coco, baking powder, and salt.

5. Mix milk and port together.

6. Add in half flour mixture to the butter. Then add milk, then the rest of four. Now add fruit and nut mixture to the batter.

7. Spoon into greased 2 -8 inch round pans or 2 loaf pans or 6 mini loaf pans (that is what I use). Bake until center when poked comes clean, 60 minutes or so. Let cool 10 minutes then un-mold.

When cakes are completely cooled, wrap each fruitcake in piece of cheese cloth and set in container to keep. Brush top and sides with port. Next day turn over and brush bottom with port. Next day turn over and keep repeating for a week. Once a week brush with port, unless you feel the cake it feeling too wet then stop.

Keep covered in a tight container until you are ready to enjoy. The cakes will keep about three months.

Tea Gingerbread with Cream Cheese Frosting

Cold tea ginger 2

    I think my favorite thing about fall is baking. I am so inspired right now to fill my freezer with on-hand unbaked items. It is nice to have unbaked items in the freezer, in case a friend is sick or you get invited to an impromptu tea party for two!! Chloe adores gingerbread and so we tried a different version. I was inspired by Jam Hands cold-tea gingerbread. I did tweak it a bit.

I used oat and whole pastry flour. Added a dash of whiskey!! Also do you remember my baking trick of using a butter/oil combo? Butter adds flavor and oil adds moisture. Gingerbread's can be dry, so I upped the the butter/oil amount a bit. I added different spices for a more complex flavor. This gingerbread is not real gingery. It is almost more of a spiced bread but with the tangy cream cheese frosting and yummy tea in the batter, this is a real winner. One we will be baking again.


 Tea Gingerbread with Cream Cheese Frosting

½ cup oat flour * a tip, if you do not have oat flour, grind up rolled oats in a food processor until you have a powder.

¾ cup whole wheat pastry or all purpose white flour (I think you could easily make a gluten free version too)

1 tsp. dried ground ginger

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. fresh ground nutmeg

¼ tsp ground allspice

1/2 tsp. salt

1/3 cup butter

1/3 cup mild flavored olive oil or raw coconut oil

1/2 cup rapadura or brown sugar

1/2 cup molasses

1/2 cup steeped tea, I like earl grey because of the orange flavor the bergamot oil gives

1 tsp. baking soda

2 TBL. whiskey or brandy or apple juice

1 egg, beaten


Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Coat a loaf pan with vegetable spray.

Sift together all dry in ingredients.

Melt butter or coconut oil, molasses and rapadura on low in a small sauce pan. You do not want to boil the mixture, just melt together and pull off stove.

In a large bowl add sifted flour, make a well in the center of the flour and add melted butter miture and stir together. Then add tea and whiskey, mix together, then add egg and mix together.

Pour batter into prepaired loaf pan. Bake in center of oven for 35-45 minutes, or until tester inserted into loaf comes out clean. Cool cake in pan for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and invert cake to cool on a rack. Frost when cool.  


Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz cream cheese at room temp, pull out if fridge when you make the gingerbread.

¼ cup evaporated cain or sugar

Pinch of salt

½ tsp. vanilla extract

1/8 cup or more of cream or whole milk


With an electric mixer cream together cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Add salt, vanilla and 1/8 cup of cream. Mix, scrape down sides of bowl and mix again. If the frosting is not cream enough add bits of cream, mix and scrap until you get the constancy you want.

Cut loaf in half and spread half the frosting on the bottom half of the gingerbread. Then set the top on the frosting and frost the top.

Chocolate Raspberry Cobbler in a Jar

Choco cobbler 

I have been fascinated with baking in jars for a while, mini pies, cakes, etc. Their cute, small (so I do not eat as much :-) and a great way to serve individual desserts. I have been making lots of treats with raspberries lately and am thrilled with this creation.

Choco cobbler 5 

It can be made with any berry, fresh or frozen. This cobbler is basically is a chocolate biscuit made from a soft dough, baked over raspberries and bits of chocolate. The berries and chocolate make a sauce on the bottom for the biscuit. I served it with raspberry ice cream I had made the other day but a scoop of homemade whipped cream with fresh raspberries would be wonderful too. If you have the small wide mouth jars, they would be better but I did not have any. Really this idea could be translated a dozen different ways, so have fun and play with the recipe xoxo

Choco cobbler 4  

Chocolate Raspberry Cobbler in a Jar

Makes 8 jars (or what I did was make four and then I froze, uncooked, the other four disks of dough for future cobblers. I will bake the biscuits off frozen. They will take 5 minutes longer.)


Fresh or frozen raspberries, if you use frozen do not defrost.

Dark chocolate chips or pieces

Wide mouth canning jars

 Choco dough

Chocolate dough

1 cup flour, all purpose or whole wheat pastry

½ cup coco powder

¼ cup sugar

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

¼ cup (1/2 stick) hard butter, cut in cubes

½ - ¾ cup heavy cream or whole milk

Make dough: In a food processor add all dry ingredients and mix a second or two. Then chop in butter with the pulse button. Add a ¼ cup cream at a time until you get dough soft like play dough. Put dough in fridge for 30 minutes to firm it up. You can flatten the disks now and chill, if you want.

Pre-heat oven 350˚F. In the canning jars add berries and chocolate. I added six berries and six chips but you can add what you want, just leave room for the dough. My berries were sweet, so I did not add any sugar. You could sprinkle a TBL. of sugar over the berries if you want. Divide dough in 8 pieces and flatten into small disks, that will fit into the jar, if you have not done so earlier. Set disk on top of the berries. You can top with sanding sugar if you like.

Bake jars 30 minutes, uncovered. You can make them earlier in the day and warm at time of serving. Set in a 350˚F oven uncovered for five minutes. I served the cobbler with a scoop of homemade raspberry ice cream!!

Choco cobbler 1 

Caramelly S`More Brownies

Samores brownie 101 

    You know when you have made something your family loves, when they decimate the pan, lick their dish clean and ask when you are going to make it again ;-)  I can say with certainty, these brownies fall into that category. To say these were a big hit, is an understatement. I know they sound fussy but it is just lots of small, simple steps. This is the basic brownie recipe I use for everything. It is a one-bowl brownie and I tend to undercooked them but if you like a more cooked brownie, go for it! The graham crackers stay crisp and by toasting the marshmallows when you serve it, you get a warm, gooey top. I think your family will enjoy these!  xoxoxo


Caramelly S`More Brownies

graham crackers

1 batch of brownies

1 batch of caramel sauce

mini-marshmallows, about 1/2 cup

toasted, roughly chopped walnuts or pecans, about 1/2 cup (You can toast the nuts while you bake the brownies)

1 batch of chocolate  ganache sauce


Pre-heat oven 350°F and grease a 8x8 baking pan. Line bottom of pan with a single layer of graham crackers. Pour brownie batter over crackers and bake 20-25 minutes. Until edges puff up but center still a bit soft.

Let brownies sit 1/2 hour, then make caramel sauce and pour over brownies. Dot the top of the sauce with marshmallows and nuts.

When ready to serve, make ganache sauce. Set brownies under broiler and broil until marshmallows are toasted, then cut into squares. Serve with warm ganache sauce drizzled over the top and enjoy!!



1 cup dark chocolate, chips or chopped

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter

1 1/2 cup sugar

3 eggs

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup flour, all purpose or whole wheat pastry or combo of the two

In a microwaveable bowl melt chocolate, butter and sugar two minutes. Butter should be melted, stir chocolate until it is melted. Quikly whisk in one egg at a time. Add vanilla and salt. Stir in flour. It is a thick but pourable batter.

Caramel sauce (make half this recipe) or for a quick version, microwave 30 unwrapped caramels with 3 TBL. of cream in a microwavable bowl for 2 minutes, stir and microwave another minute until melted.

Ganache sauce

In a sauce pan add 1/2 cup dark chocolate (chopped or chips) and 1/8 cup heavy cream. Heat on medium heat, stirring until melted. You want a thick but pourable sauce. Adjust chocolate or cream to get this consistency.


Alison Uttley Easter Cakes

Alison uttley 2 


     "When Good Friday was near we had great preparations, for often visitors, relations and friends came to see us to tell us the news and enjoy the food. My mother baked hot cross buns for they were not sold in the village. Also she made Easter cakes, similar to those that were sold in the shops and made at the little market towns in the hills. We made our own Easter cakes as follows, but we often bought a few delicate thin trifles which were more professional than our own."

by Alison Uttley from Recipes from an Old Farmhouse

Easter Cakes

A happy and blessed Easter, dear readers xoxo



Does A Booty Good Cookies

 Booty cookie 2

At Christmas my sister, Laurie, gifted me with some gourmet cupcakes but what I loved the most about them was the box. I have it sitting on my scale and knew I needed to create some "Does A Booty Good" cookies. Then I remember these grand marnier cream cheese chocolate chip cookies. These are the first recipe I ever had published (in a small church cookbook), I was 19 I think. Gosh, grand marnier,19 and a church cookbook, well, I will not comment  ;-)

Boy, nothing does your booty better than cream cheese, chocolate and grand marnier!!!!  Now being a spoiled brat that I was at 19 (I did not have to pay for that grand marnier, thank you daddy for letting me use yours for the cookies!!) I thought nothing of using a 1/4 cup. But I am a big girl now (and have to buy my own) and wow, the stuff is expensive. I am posting the recipe the original way I wrote it but between me and you, now, I would NEVER waste good, incredibly expensive grand marnier on cookies. Instead I would use an inexpensive orange liqueur and save the grand marnier to have with the cookie!!. Enjoy xoxo

Does A Booty Good or Grand Marnier Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies

½ cup butter

6 oz. cream cheese

½ cup evaporated cain or granulated sugar

½ cup rapadura or brown sugar

2 eggs

1 TSP grated orange peel

1 tsp vanilla

¼ cup Grand Marnier (or cheap triple sec or orange juice)

2 cups flour (whole pastry or all-purpose)

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 cup dark chocolate, chopped or chips


Pre-heat oven 350

Cream butter, cheese and sugars together. 

Add eggs, peel, vanilla and Grand Marnier; beat well. 

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture. Stir in chocolate.  Drop from teaspoon 2 inches apart on un-greased cookie sheet. 

Bake about 10-12 minutes, until edges start to brown and center puffs up a bit.  

5 Baking Mistakes

Notagic kitchen 

    As you all know, I love food. Really, all food, well, except processed food (I can taste all the artificial stuff they put in it). But real, homemade food, love it. I have learned over time to say I do not like something. Because what I usually mean is do not like how this dish was prepared, which is usually poorly. Often times I have had people say to me, I thought I hated this but I never had it this way. Now this I love. (I had a friend say this about roasted pumpkin, she hates pumpkin pie but loved my pasta w/ balsamic roasted pumpkin)

    So I am always up for trying what other people prepare (although everyone is terrified to cook for me ;-)  Do NOT be, by the way). I have to say I know lots of amazing cooks, even though they do not think they are amazing. But I do see a trend in the same mistakes when it comes to baking. BUT let me say something before I list my 5 baking mistakes. First this list is just my opinion, you may disagree with me and that is just fine. And second as I ALWAYS say, suit your palette. Cook food the way you like it, not the way I like it.


5 Baking Mistakes

   1. Trusting recipe times of baking (another words overcooking)

Over-baked items I would say is the biggest mistake I see. When I chat with the person who baked, lets us say cookies, I always get, well the recipes said 15 minutes. I ask if they check the cookies at 10 minutes and I always get, no. Again the recipe said. Yes baking is a science but there are too many variables to be able to write an exact recipe. NO cook can tell you it will cook exactly in so many minutes. So use the time they tell you as a gauge but start checking sooner than the recipe say and pull it out the minute it is cooked!! When I can smell what I am baking, is when I start checking. This is why you will see in my recipes a span of time, to give you an idea of about how long it will take. If I ever write a true cookbook, it will probably be titled something like why I cannot give an exact recipe   :-P


    2. Salt

Salt is a really important component to baking. If left out, you will have a flat, boring tasting cake or whatever you bake. Salt makes sweet things taste sweeter. It adds complexity and is very important. So use salt!  I even dare to say use a generous amount of salt. A pinch of salt in a cookie recipe is not enough. Now I have a reader of this blog (I will not say who she is) who cannot stand salt in her baked items and feels it makes them taste bitter. I do not think that this is the norm for most people but again I tell her to suit her own palette.


     3. Oven temp

This sort of goes back to rule 1. You need to know if your oven runs hotter or colder or right on temp. I think most people’s ovens run hotter. So again if they are baking cookies and the oven is really baking at 365°F, instead of 350°F, it is already cooking faster than the recipe had called for. I have two ovens, one bakes way hotter. I turn down the heat by at lest 25 degrees, when I use that oven. An inexpensive oven thermometer will tell you the temp of your oven. So know your oven and feel free to adjust the heat. Play with it, until you know exactly how your oven temps work.


    4. The oil/butter combo

This is actually sort of not a mistake but more of a trick I have learned over time. Because another issue I see in things like muffins and quick breads is they are too dry. If you are baking items such as muffin, quick breads, cookies or cakes that use melted butter, using a combo of melted butter and oil will give you much more of a moist crumb. Butter gives you the flavor and richness (I adore butter. Just had to say it) but oil will give you moisture.Try using 2/3 butter and 1/3 oil and see what you think. I think you will be happy with the results.


   5. Fearlessly playing with a recipe

Lastly the second biggest mistake (well maybe it is the biggest) is not being fearless. Since I love talking food, I have had lots of conversations with people about cooking. Most people I meet are intimated and afraid to veer from a recipe. Usually they do not understand what they are cooking and worry too much about doing something different. Well I hate to say this but to be a good cook, you have to be fearless, you have to be willing to make mistakes, to ruin dishes that only your dog is willing eat, to think out of the box and to play. Cooking should be fun. I know we are all on tight budgets and do not want to waste money or food. But think of it as investment, like college. It is in your mistakes you will learn (you should see alllllll the mistakes and awful food I have made over the years). Really it is in your mistakes you learn to be a better cook, not your successes. Try learning one idea and then think of how you can add that to what you are already cooking. For example I learned last month all garbanzo bean flour in the cookies I was making was terrible. Really bitter, I can only use a in small amount with other flours. I have found most recipes for cakes, muffins, cookies, etc are actually pretty forgiving. You can adjust the fat, sugar, spices, etc. Now you may not get exactly what the person who wrote the recipe planned but it does not mean you will not get something delicious in the end. Plus the more you bake and play, the more you will understand a recipe when you read it and be able to change it to suit you and that is the whole point of cooking!!

A thank you to Niki for letting me use her a photo of her kitchen. I have been a long time reader and adore her house and kitchen!!


Maple Pudding Cake

Fall picnic photo 

Yesterday I was looking for a dessert to sever with my roasted apple sauce (It is also in Wren Bay). I love those pudding cakes where you make the batter and then pour the boiling water over them. The cake floats to the top and makes a sauce below. Well I found a maple version and it sounded perfect. I posted a link to the recipe on my facebook wall but when I went to make it I could see they were making the recipe wayyyyy harder than it needs to be. Sighhhh, I hate it when they do that. So I promised everyone on FB I would rewrite a simpler, healthier version of the cake. I figured I might as well share it with all of you. By the way I served the cake with the apple sauce and a dollop of greek yogurt on top. It was heaven xoxo


Maple Pudding Cake


1 ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose white flour (lately I have been replacing 1/2 cup of flour w/ oat flour)

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

¼ cup butter, half a stick

½ cup rapadura (which is a less refined sugar w/ a strong molasses taste) or brown sugar

½ cup buttermilk*



1 ½ cups water

½ cup maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla

Pinch of salt


Pre-heat oven 350˚F

In a sauce pan heat water, syrup, vanilla and salt to a boil, then set pan aside.

While water/syrup is heating, cream butter and rapadura togther in a mixer. Add flour, baking soda and salt to butter and mix together. Lastley add buttermilk. You should have a thick batter. Butter an 9x12  baking dish (or cake pan). Spread batter on bottom of the pan. Pour hot water/syrup over the batter and set in oven for 30-40 minutes, until the cake when inserted with a skewer comes out clean.

Let cake sit 5 minutes before serving.

 *Cooking Trick

I was out of buttermilk and like to use a whole fat buttermilk. So I used heavy cream w/ a tsp. of cider vinegar. It worked great


Caramel Apple Muffin

Apple carmel muffin2 

Well I am feeling Autumn calling me. Fall to me is leaves, books, knitting, apples and lots of baking. I am starting to refill my freezer with wholesome goodies to bake off as needed. Today I made caramel apple muffins. Full of whole grains, apples and a touch sweet. As with all my muffin, I freeze them unbaked in paper liner and pull out as many as I want and I bake them frozen. While they are baking I make the caramel sauce. The minute they are out of the oven, I make a hole in the top of the muffin with a spoon and pour in some sauce. This way as they cool, they soak up the delish caramel. So what are you hoping to cook this fall? xoxo


IMG_8384 cropped

Caramel Apple Muffin

makes about a dozen


Dry ingredients

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose white flour

½ cup oat flour

½ spelt flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp each cinnamon, mace, nutmeg or the spices you like


Wet ingredients

¾ cup rapadura or brown sugar, not packed

1 egg

1 cup buttermilk, whole fat is better!!

½ cup oil, I like mild flavored olive oil

2 large apples, cored, not peeled and finely chopped or grated. (I use a food processor to grate my apples)


Pre-heat oven 350oF and set paper liners in muffin tin or use a silicone muffin pan.

In a large bowl mix dry ingredients. In a small bowl whisk wet ingredients together. Chop or grate apples. Add wet ingredients and apples to dry ingredients. You should have a thick but pourable batter. Fill muffin liners ¾ of the way. Bake 20-30 minutes. Until when a toothpick is inserted into the center of the muffin and comes out clean. Immediately with a spoon make a whole in the center of the muffin and spoon in some caramel sauce*. Then let completely cool before unmolding.


*Caramel Sauce

In a small sauce pan put 1/3 cup heavy cream, 1 TBL butter, 1/3 cup rapadura or brown sugar, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp vanilla. Bring to a boil (always keep an eye on the pan, never leave it. It can boil over.) Boil a few minutes till everything melts and it looks a bit thicker.

Lavender Honey Drop Cookies

Lavender almond cookie2

Thank you for all the well wishes. I am still having stomach bug issues but I am trying to keep life simple (trying).

I had to share these yummy cookies with you. I promise this will be the last almond flour recipe for a while. I know it is pricey and something most of you are not cooking with. I want to keep my recipes relevant to you. But at the risk of repeating myself I really love working with the almond flour. These cookies like the last recipe are just mix, roll and bake. So easy. What I also love about these cookies is they have lavender honey. I make herb/lavender honey every year  and love to find ways to use it. Here the honey both sweetens and flavors the cookies. Also I find the almond cookies stay fresh and moist several days. So that is nice.

I hope you have a relaxing Mothers Day. I will not be having mine till next month. Life is too crazy, I want to feel well and enjoy it. Remember to not feel pressured to do anything you do not want to do. If this is a bad weekend, put if off, till a good weekend. Your family is counting on you and you need to take time for you. So you can recharge and be the loving you, your family needs. Motherhood can be a veryyyy thankless job. Two year old's tend not to say "Why thank you mother for putting up with all you have had to." So much of what we do does not even get noticed or appreciated, except by other mothers. Who understand. But there are rewards that YOU can not see yet, that are invisible to you. Keep loving your children unconditionally, have faith in them and take care of yourself xoxox


Lavender Honey Drop Cookies

1/3 cup lavender honey

4 TBL. unsalted butter

1 tsp. vanilla

1/8 tsp. of sea salt

1/4 tsp. of baking soda

2 cups almond flour


Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.

Melt the butter and honey together.

Combine with other ingredients in a mixing bowl, till dough comes together like playdough. I found the dough a bit too wet and need a bit more flour. Just keep adding a bit and stir it in.


Set small balls of dough on parchment paper or greased baking sheet.


With three fingers flatten cookie a bit. Bake for 15 minutes. Lower temp of the oven to 175. Bake the cookies for another 10 minutes. Let cool.

Chocolate Sunshine


My mother has been making a lot of yummy dishes out of almond flour and they are really good. I have to say part of it is because of this flour. We tasted tested several almond flours and this was by far the best. It was Paula who told us about it,  thank you Paula xoxox

I love it because it is so easy. It is NOT cheap but is very easy to work with. Also a nice gluten alternative. I made these little treats the other day and they were a big hit. I do not know you but I would rather have a little bit of something amazing, then a whole lot of so-so.

I do not usually use my microwave to cook in but I have found it make a really good and easy lemon curd. I do add more zest then it calls for but that is what I like. Remember suit your palette. Also run the curd through a sieve to catch any lumps. Lemon curd keeps for a good week and is a nice thing to have on-hand, for a last minute dessert. Just add some fruit and yumm.

I also love this recipe because you can make the curd up to a week ahead, the crust takes a minute to put together. It is an oil crust, so it is just mix and go. If you want more chocolate on your crust, just use more. It is easy to let the heat do all the work. I tell you almond crust+dark chocolate+lemon curd=heaven

Thank you everyone fro letting me know your house is not perfect.  Now I do not feel completely lame, just a little ;-)   xoxox


Chocolate Sunshine

1 batch of almond crust or regular crust, by the way I used olive oil, instead of grape seed

bittersweet chocolate

microwave lemon curd

Press small balls of dough into the bottom of muffin tins and up the sides  a bit. Bake according to directions. As soon as you pull crusts from oven, set chocolate on hot crusts. Wait five minutes and let chocolate melt. Then with a spatula spread chocolate. Let completely cool and fill with curd, top with a berry.

Chocolate Rocks


Well I am starting to bake again, my freezer is soooo bare. I made these chocolate scones and my girls went crazy over them. They are easy enough to freeze. Set the scones uncooked on a baking sheet and set in the freezer. After they freeze, transfer the frozen scones to freezer bags. Just pull out a few at a time a bake them off frozen. Do NOT defrost. They might take a few more minutes but not much. You can make these with all with white flour or pastry. I just like to mix it up and use lots of different flours. Also normally with scorns I just use a lot of butter. Here I experimented with butter and a little oil. It made them a bit softer and moister. I am still playing, I encourge you to do the same thing.

So is everybody ready for Easter? Do I dare confess, I think we will not be doing much. My hubby works, I have no other family except my mom and the girls told me they would rather have a little good dark chocolate, then an Easter basket. Where do they get this from ;-) I think Easter may be a good movie and tea, sighhh. We did not even decorate this year. We are soooo lame in my house right now. Enjoy the rocks and if you make them please let me know what you think, remember be honest xoxoxox

Chocolate Rocks (scones)

make 12 scones

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 and 3/4 cup assorted whole grain flours, I used brown rice, quinoa and spelt

1/4 cup coco powder

2 cups rolled oats, I used thick. Do not use instant

1/2 evaporated cain or any sweetener

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1/2 cup butter

1/4 cup oil

1 TBL. vanilla

1 cup or more of buttermilk

1 cup chopped dark chocolate

Pre heat over 375

In a food processor or bowl add all dry ingredients and sugar, chop butter in till it is the size of small peas. Add one cup of buttermilk. Whole grain flour can absorb more liquid, so look at the dough, you should be a able to grab balls of dough. If too dry and crumbly, add some more buttermilk. Add chocolate, scoop big balls of dough and set on a greased pan. It is sort of like drop biscuits. They can be close, but not touching. They do not spread a lot.

Bake 15-20 minutes till when inserted with a skewer, they come clean.


Individual Bouche De Noel

Woodland cakeeeee 

Well I had all you facebook readers grossed out, when I said I was creating something with chocolate, whipped cream and mushrooms. That does sound like an oh-so-interesting combination. But what would a woodland themed Christmas be without a yule log cake, Bouche De Noel ? I decided liked the idea of making individual Bouche De Noel. I also wanted to figure out how I could make it, but do most of the work ahead of time. I always try to pick recipes for the holidays were I can do a lot of the cooking ahead. It keeps me from doing too much last minute and therefor I am a happy hostess.

Wood cake

1. I decided instead of making a rolled, filled cake, I would just made a chocolate mayo cake and cut it into small individual cakes with a biscuit cutter. I made these a week ahead and froze them. I will pull them out on Christmas morning. I also made chocolate curls the same day and am keeping them in the fridge.

2. On Christmas morning, besides pulling out the cakes, I will set up all the dessert plate with pieces of wax paper to catch all the extra whipped cream and coco powder. I also will make the whipped cream. Homemade whipped cream made with heavy cream will hold all day in the fridge.

3. After dinner, I will get a few people to help and we will set up a assembly line.

4. Take your cake and set it in the center of the wax paper pieces.  Start spreading the whipped cream on the side but NOT the top * then take coco powder and a sieve and dust the whipped cream. Run a fork up the side of the cream to make lines.

* one thing I learned doing this cake is the coco powder that gets on the top of the cake, makes it hard to spread the whipped cream on top. So I suggest cutting a circle from wax paper and set it on the top while you do the coco powder part.

5. Now spread whipped cream over the top. I put a few chocolate chips in a sandwich baggie and zapped it in the microwave 40 second to melt it. I cut off the tip of the baggie and pipe circles of chocolate on the top.

6. CAREFULLY pull out the wax paper pieces, one at a time and throw away. Add chocolate curls and mushrooms. About the mushrooms, I am lucky to have a grocery store with a large Asian section that has chocolate mushrooms and that is what I used.

Woodland cake

I know this sounds complicated, but really with some ahead prep time and a couple of friends it is very easy. As you can see I did not try to make it perfect, I did not stress about frosting and if some of these steps seem like too much just skip it. Make is fun for you, work with what is comfortable for you. That is a big part of cooking and entertaining. I hope you are not burned out on woodland ideas, I only have two more to share xoxoxo 

So Remember The Book That Changed My Life

55 bread

So remember the book that changed my life, Artisan Bread In 5 Minutes A Day, well it is soo true. Even a year an half or so later, I am still baking a loaf just about every day. The one down side, it is white bread. Before the 5 minute bread I was making only whole wheat bread, but I was not getting it done half the time. So I decided white bread everyday was better then no bread. But now Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francios have a new book. Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes A Day. I have been breathlessly waiting since they announced the book. I could not wait to get it into my hot little hands and I was not disappointed. It is easy to understand, well explained and full of yummy and inspiring recipes (as all cookbook should be, but sadly some are not).

It is still the same easy, quick technique just using whole grains. There are soo many I want to try but I will start with the flax rosemary baguette's or maybe the chocolate espresso whole wheat bread. Well I will figure it out. There is even a gluten free section. I encourage you to look into 5 minute bread, if you have not. Just think of the easy, yummy, healthy bread you can make and how much more money you will save. Then you can buy more chocolate !!!!  If you have the 5 minutes book, I am sure the healthy 5 minute book will inspire you even more. Thank you Jeff and Zoe xoxoxo

But I Do Not Want To Throw The Cup Away


I love this antique wedgewood cup but it has a fine crack that leaks liquid. I did not want to throw it away. I realized it works perfect as a scoop in my big flour bucket.

Speaking of flour I have to say I have been doing the 5-minute bread for over a year now. I bake a loaf of bread just about every day and it has changed my world. If you have not looking into 5-minute bread I encourage you to do so. Thanks to Paula, I found out there is video showing you just how easy it is.

Also thanks to Jody, I found another video showing how to shape different styles of bread. Thank you ladies xoxox

Really it is all so easy but seeing someone do it can really help. I wish I could just have all of you over and we could bake bread together. This will have to do instead.

Have a wonderful weekend. I know it is a holiday for most of you. My hubby works, so it is not really a holiday for us but we are having a weekend of sun, so that alone makes the weekend feel special. Thank you also thank you for your kind comments about my jewelry and Bessie bag. Eat something yummy and think of me  xox


Espressoo doodles[1]

I have to say a steak is much more my hubbies liking then cookies, but he LOVED these. So I guess they are a keeper. This is just snickerdoodles but instead of using cinnamon sugar you use espresso sugar. Let them cool, you will taste the espresso much more. Snickerdoodles are sugar cookie dough rolled in sugar. So if you have a sugar dough recipe you love, use that. Enjoy and if you make it, let me know what you think!!


Makes about 2 dozen


2 1/2 cup flour, white or whole wheat pastry

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. baking powder

1 cup soften butter, 2 sticks

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1/3 cup espresso sugar


Pre-heat oven 350◦F

In a mixing bowl cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Scrap down bowl, add flour, salt and baking powder. Mix till dough comes together.

Roll dough in balls the size of a walnut and roll in espresso sugar. Set on greased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart, the cookies do spread. Bake 9-12 minutes till edges start to brown and center is risen. Let cool on cookies sheet 5 minutes, then transfer to rack to cool.


Lemon Ricotta Cake w/ Strawberry Sauce

Lemon ricoota cake 2

This spring I have been craving things like asparagus, lemons, stuffed Easter eggs, fresh peas and rhubarb. I always want light and fresh food in the spring. I am sodone with Beef Bourgougnon and am throwing lemon peel in everything. This cake is very spring to me, light, creamy and lemony.

I created this eaiser ricotta cake recipe becuase lot of ricotta cakes have whipped whites and I just did not feel like whipping whites. How do I kept the cake light? I use very little flour and lots of eggs, also of course ricotta. The texture is a bit hard to explain it is different from any other cake. This cake is extremely moist, a bit crumbly and as I said before very light.

I served it with strawberry sauce but Chloe loved it plain. I think orange or lime zest added to the batter would be good too!

Lemon ricoota cake 1


Lemon Ricotta Cake w/ Strawberry Sauce



1 cup ricotta

1/2 cup sugar

3 eggs

1 TBL vanilla

the zest from one lemon

a pinch of salt

1/2 cup flour, white or whole wheat pastry (and no this is not a miss print, it is only a 1/2 cup )

1 TBL. baking powder

Pre-heat oven 325˚F

In a electric mixing bowl beat together ricotta, sugar, eggs, lemon peel, vanilla and salt. Sift flour and baking powder and add to batter. Pour into a greased 9" round cake pan and bake till center when inserted with a skewer comes clean, about 25-35 minutes.


Strawberry Sauce

Combine one cup of fresh or frozen strawberries and 1/4 cup of sugar in a small sauce pan. Simmer until strawberries have collapsed and juices are running. Taste and see if you need more sugar. Add that and simmer a minute or two more until sugar has melted. Cool and then refrigerate.

Menu Of The Week


For my home-brewing hubby's birthday, I decided to do a menu using a different beer in each dish. I was not sure if the girls would like it, but I have to say they LOVED everything. I also have to say that I think David's favorite part was picking the beer !!!!

Beer marinated grilled buffalo steak *

Mac and Cheese with ale

(I just substituted one cup of milk with beer in my mac and cheese recipe)

Cabbage, carrot, green onion slaw with pilsner vinaigrette **

Stout cream cheese brownies



1/2 cup pale ale

1/8 cup soy sauce

1 TBL. pepper

3 roughly chopped garlic cloves

mix all in a zip-lock baggie and add steaks

** Pilsner vinaigrette

1/2 cup mild flavored oil

1/8 cup pilsner

1 TBL honey or agave

3 TBL. cider vinegar or to taste

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 TBL. Dijon mustard

salt and pepper to taste



PS. Tracey at Frugal Luxuries Foodhas a great post on the secret to good pie crust. Check it out xoxox


PSS. Jody asked about the picture. This is the Glass Bridge of Chihuly glass at the Glass museum in Tacoma. The photo is looking above my head.

Candy-Cane Soaked Cake

Heart cakee

    We have been enjoying the candy cane syrup on chocolate mouse, in hot chocolate, over vanilla ice cream but I wanted to come up with some more recipes. I was thinking about those cakes that you soak with a lemon sauce and thought, why could I not do the same with this. I made the mayo chocolate cake.  Hot right out of the over, I carefully poked holes all around the cake, then I just keep spooning the candy cane syrup over the cake until it looked like I had coated the whole cake. I will say, you will be surprised how much syrup that cake can absorbed. I think I could have spooned more syrup over the cake, so be generous.  It was yummy and the syrup made the cake really moist.

Heart cake

How to do a heart stencil :

It is really easy, just fold a paper in half and cut out half a heart, open paper and set on cake. Sift powdered sugar over the opening and carefully lift the paper away.

Another tip, I have a heart silicon pan. I LOVE baking with silicon. It is a little different and does take a bit to get use to. The big thing is you let the baked item cool, so you can roll the pan away from the cake. Target has heart cake pans in their $2.50 section, so run to Target xox

A Well Working Pantry


Well it seems one of the things on my blog everyone loves is my pantry, me to. It has been 8 months since I set it up and I have to say, even thought I baked a lot before, I really bake a lot now. Having a space set aside, organized, has made baking easier and more inspiring.


Baking has become even more of a frugal and healthy way to feed my family. Not just for dessert, but breakfast, snacks, side dishes. I can make healthy, organic, delicious items quicker now. By having the space I have more of an assortment of grains, sweeteners, spices, etc. to keep thing new and different. I tend to use the same recipes but change things up with different ingredients.

There are few things I have done that make things easier. And to be honest, I have discovered the easier, more accessible, the more I will bake. For example I have my flour and sugar in glass cigar humidors. What I love about these is they has a wide opening, so I can scoop the flour right out of the jar. Before I had it in jars with a smaller opening and if I had to scoop out a large quantity, I could not easily get my full measuring cup in. Now I have plenty of room. I encourage you to look for wide opening containers.

Flour 6

I also now have two sets of measuring cups. One for wet, one for dry. I keep the dry set next to my flour and sugar. I keep the wet set in my kitchen queen. This also saves time and confusion. 

I have also found shakers work well for spices I use a lot like, cinnamon and ginger. A lot of things I make, spices do not need to be measure. By being able to grab the spices and just shake some in, makes it very handy. 

Flour 4

I encourage you to think out of the box to carve a baking center. If you have a dining room that is not really used, maybe you can use that. Or start eating you dinners there and use you kitchen eating space as a baking center. My baking pantry was a breakfast room. Do you use cabinets to hold kitchen items you do not use a lot? Can you move those items to another spot, to open space ?  Manuela, took an unused shower and made a pantry out of it. Brilliant idea Manuela xoxoxo

When planning my pantry I looked at what I used the most and focused on making that accessible. Believe it or not, I have a second baking area in my kitchen for items I do not use as much. You do not have to have kitchen cabinets. I used shelving, a table and a low dresser. The dresser I did not think was going to work well. But since I needed to use what I already had, it was suppose to be temporary. But I have to say it works well. Cookie sheets really fit in the long, low drawers. I keep foil, parchment paper, plastic wrap and baggies in the other drawer.

Flour 5

Look at the ingredients you use most in baking. Do you have them grouped together? Are they easily accessible? Can you put them in containers that would make them easier to us? Can you take some of those baking items you do not use as much and put them in something like a old suitcase, to make room for what you do use? Think about the open space under your table. Maybe an old chest or box can go there, to hold items. Also if you have room for a bigger table, maybe one end can hold you mixer, measuring cups, flour, sugar. The other can be your work space.

Having area for just my baking, having everything I use all the time in easy access, thinking out of the box for storage and containers, has made baking much easier. Which means I am baking more and more xoxox

Chocolate Mayo Cake

18 Auberne

One of our birthday rules is you get whatever you want for breakfast in bed and dinner. This is what my sweet girl wanted. She is my foodie girl xox

From Auberne` on her 18th birthday. "Thank you for all the happy birthday's and for letting me know I am normal, for having a hard time adjusting to changes." 



brie, chocolate, basil panini


orange juice



wild mushroom, panchetta (Italian bacon, yes, more bacon), bechamel lasagna

Cesar salad

olive oil bread

chocolate mayo cake with vanilla buttercream, lots of buttercream !!!


Chocolate Mayo Cake

Makes one thick layer or two thin ones. If you end up adding more water or mayo, use two pans.

I like a very moist, dense cake. I would not say this cake is dense but very moist. What I like about this recipe is it is very easy to make. It is one of the first cakes Chloe learned to make. No creaming butter, scraping bowl, fussy ingredients. A good beginner's cake.

2 cups flour

1/2 cup coco powder

2 tsp. baking soda

1 TBL. instant espresso powder

1 cup sugar

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup water *see note

1 tsp. vanilla

Pre-heat oven 350F.

Grease and flour a cake pan. Sift together flour, coco powder, espresso powder and baking soda in a mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredient's. Mix on medium speed till batter comes together. Pour into pre-pared pans. Bake 20-30 minutes, until when toothpick inserted in cake comes clean. Gently unmold from pan and set on rack to cool. After the cake has cooled ice with buttercream.

I really like Magnolias buttercream recipe.  


Since writing this recipe, I have changed the mayo I use and have found the recipe does not work as well. I did not think change the mayo would make a blog difference but I guess it does. You batter should be pourable, if it is not you can up the water a ⅟ᴣ cup. If your batter is still very thick trying adding up to a ⅟ᴣ of mayo! Because of this your baking time may be longer than the recipe call for!





Orange Chocolate Muffin

Autum cup2 

The other day I had a friend and her three piXies over for tea. My girls adore hers, so it was such a fun afternoon. It is amazing to watch seven females all talk at once, all afternoon and all understand everything that was said. I made a Orange Chocolate Loaf cake. This is actually muffin recipe, but after I had filled all the muffin tins (for the freezer) I still had batter left. So I filled up a loaf pan and froze it. I just baked it off frozen (uncovered). It took a little longer, but it worked out just fine. It must have been good, there was not a crumb left ;-) xoxox

Orange Chocolate Muffin
2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or a combo of flours. I used a 1/2 cup of brown rice, oat and whole wheat, 1 cup white)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, 2-3 oranges
orange zest from the oranges you used.
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup of melted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease 12 muffin cups or line with paper baking cups (if you can get those silicone muffin tins, in a metal rack they are amazing. But you let the muffin full cool before pulling them out) . Zest and juice 2 or 3 medium oranges, measure out juice and zest; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the center and add  beaten eggs, buttermilk, orange juice/zest, oil, melted butter, sugar, and vanilla. Whisk together well. Stir in wet ingredients just until all the flour has been incorporated. Add chocolate.

Fill each muffin cup almost to the top. Put the muffins in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 30 minutes or until center is cooked. Do no over bake. Check to see if they are done by inserting a toothpick into the center of a muffin. If the toothpick comes out clean, they are done.

A Leaf Day

Leaf cookie 

We had a leaf day the other day. Which is perfect because I have to say the fall color this year is amazing. We waxed leaves that we had pick and pressed, a couple of days before. We put them on our window with museum wax. We also made Spiced Semolina leaves. They were really good. The semolina and corn starch give them a nice crisp texture. They are spicy, but lightly. The coriander gives them a slight orange flavor. We will makes these again.

Leaf window

Spiced Semolina Leaf Cookies

3/4 cup white flour

1/4 cup semolina flour

2 TBL. corn starch

1/2 tsp. ground coriander, ginger, cinnamon

1/2 tsp. salt

1 stick of butter, softened

1/2 cup evaporated cain or sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

Sift together flours, spices, corn starch, salt and set aside.

In a mixing bowl cream together butter and sugar. Scrap down bowl and add vanilla. Scrap down bowl and add dry ingredient. Mix till comes together.

Roll out 1/4 inch think, cut with cookie cutter and set on a greased cookie sheet. You can re-roll a second time. Set cookie sheets in fridge for 1/2 hour to re-chill butter (this is important or you cookies will spread too much)

Pre-heat oven 350. Bake 8-10 minutes. Till edges lightly brown. Transfer to cooling rack. When completely cool ice.

Make about a dozen cookies


1 cup confectioners sugar, 1/2 tsp. vanilla and drops of water till you have a thick but creamy constancy.

Banana Coco-nib Bread

Banana coco nibs

It is that time of year, we are filling our freezer up with lots of unbaked items.  I was gifted with some coco-nibs. I wanted to find a way to really highlight them. I like the flavor of the bananas with the roasted earthiness of the coco nibs. Now I, personally would like this bread with just the coco nibs and no chocolate but they are not sweet and I did not think my family would like the bread with only the nibs, So I added some chopped chocolate to sweeten things up a bit. Actually the crunch of the nibs with the creamy chocolate go really nice together. 

I made two small loaf and froze one loaf unbaked. I will bake it frozen, it only add 5-10 minutes more. Enjoy!

Banana Coco-nib Bread


3 ripe bananas

1 cup evaporated cain or sugar

2 eggs

1 TBL vanilla

1/4 cup mild flavored olive oil

1/4 cup melted butter, cooled 

1/2 cup buttermilk



1 cup all purpose flour

1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt 


1/2 cup bittersweet chopped chocolate or chips

3 TBL coco nibs 

Pre-heat oven 325 ˚F

In a large bowl, sift together dry ingredients.

In another bowl mashed bananas and sugar together. Then add the rest of wet ingredients. Stir together and add to dry ingredients. Stir in chocolate and coco nibs. Grease one large or two small loaf pans. Pour batter in pans and bake 45-55 minutes. until center inserted with a skewer and  comes out clean. Let cool 5 minutes and then remove from pan.

Breakfast Cookie

Breakfast cookie

Okay, can you handle another healthy recipe? I got this recipe from Angie, who got it from Uprising Cookbook. It is yummy, easy and keeps well. The batter is made ahead. It says let sit one hour, but you could let it sit in the fridge overnight. One nice thing about this recipe, is if you are looking for baked items with no dairy or eggs, this has none. It is good for breakfast but really good anytime.

Breakfast Cookies

In a large bowl combine:

4 cup rolled oats (not instant, you can also use gluten free oats)

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or almond flour for a gluten free verson)

1 tsp. salt

1 1/3 cup roughly chopped, toasted nuts (Angie really likes pecans, I really like pistachios)

2/3 cup roughly chopped dates ( I used half dates and half dried cherries)

Mix in a smaller bowl:

1/3 cup mild flavored olive oil

3/4 cup rice syrup

1 cup maple syrup (I use half maple, half agave, you could also use honey)

1  1/3 cup water

Mix liquid in dry ingredients. This mixture will be soupy. Let sit one hour or so. the oats will soak up the liquid and binds the dough together.

Pre-heat oven to 325˚F

Form dough into one inch balls and place on a greased cookie sheet. Press down to 1/4 inch thickness. They do not spread, so you can set them close together on a cookie sheet.

Bake 20-25 minutes, until just firm in the center.

Hospital-i-Tea Blog-a-Thon: The-Sweet-And-Savory-Of-Yummy


This week on Gracious Hospital-i-Tea Blog-a-Thon the theme is The-Sweet-And-Savory-Of-Yummy. Share you favorites tea time recipe for sweet or savory. This is actually new recipe I created for the blog-a-thon. Spiced chocolate scones with a strusel topping. It is a soft chocolate flavor with pronounced spice flavors. If you perfer it more chocolaty, cut back on the spices and added chopped chocolate to the dough. Enjoy !!!

Well I dropped my lap-top and have to send into the fix-my-lap-top-and-give-me-back-my-life hospital. It will be a good week and half till I get my lap-top back. We do have a computer but I have to mud wrestle the girls to use it. So my "access" to the computer is limited. As seems to be the way things are going, my posts will be scattered. If I do not come by your blog and say hello or I am late in getting back to an e-mail, that is why. 



Spiced Chocolate Scones

1 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup coco powder
1/3 cup evaporated cane or sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground dried ginger

1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled, cubed butter
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup buttermilk

Streusel Topping

1/4 cup toasted pecans (does not need to be chopped processor will do it)
1/4 cup
 rapadura or brown sugar
3 TBL. white flour
2 TBL cubed, cold butter
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground dried ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg 

Pre-heat oven 375.

Mix dry ingredient in a food processor and add butter. Pulse till butter is the size of small peas. Put dried ingredients in bowl, add wet and mix. Dough should be a shaggy, wet and you should see bits of butter throughout the dough (see picture above).

For streusel put sugar, butter, flour and spices to in food processor you just used and process till crumbly. Then added nuts and process for 30 seconds.

Grease a cookie sheet or large baking pan. Spoon dough on cookie sheet and pat into a circle about an inch or so thick (you can use with wet hands). Sprinkle strudel topping on top (see picture abouve). Bake 25-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes clean. Cool five minutes and then cut into 8 wedges.

This book Will Change Your Life


If you have made no-kneed bread, if you want to make artisans bread but do not know how, if you want lovely bread but do not want to work too hard at it and if you love the idea of having dough all ready, on-hand whenever you want, keep on reading !!!


Because of my champagne taste and beer budget, I make all my own bread. But I am already cooking so much I try to make it as easy as I can. I have been making the no-kneed bread for a while and love it. But there is still planning to it and there was the problem of not having bread when I wanted it. Then I read Artisan Breads In 5 Minutes A Day By Jeff Hertzberg. Now I tell you I really do not buy a lot of cookbooks. I read a lot of them but do not actually own a lot. This book is one I would love to buy for all my friends. It is sooo simple and the bread is amazing. It only takes five minutes to make the dough (no kneading), two hours to let it sit, refridge overnight and then you have enough dough for four loves of bread. You can keep the dough in the fridge for 5 days and pull of a ball of dough as needed. Rise, bake, cool and in 2 hours, wha-la bread.

Do not worry if you do not know much about making bread. In some ways you will do better then a long-time baker, because this method is almost counter-intuitive. The lovely thing is Jeff Hertzberg has several master recipes all based on the same method and then lots of version of those recipes. One of my friends was looking at the book and said she really liked how it was written. Very clear instructions and helpful information. You can read more at the Blog. I have made the Rye bred recipe and it is wonderful as you can see above !!!

PS. I realized that I did not mention, there is a few loaf recipes and those take more time to rise. About an hour and half. But most of the recipes do not.

Saint Nicholas Day


I am so sorry I am behind on posting pictures of my house. I am so busy with having Christmas fun, I have no time to post. The only thing I do not like about Christmas, is trying to cram this much fun and joy in only four weeks !!!!

Last Saturday we celebrated Saint Nicholas Day. The girls left their shoes under the tree and Santa left vintage goodies (I think Santa shops at the Christmas House too, such a smart man ;-) and homemade fudge. My mother came for a tea party (I will show my girly tea table and blinged out deer soon). We made the best cookies, spoon cookies, Lasikkaleivat. But they should really be called browned-butter cookies, because you brown the butter and this is what gives it this deep carmelly taste. Please watch the video, because there is a little trick to shaping the cookies. But these will be made again in our family. Also in my opinion (you know how I have opinions about cooking and recipes) should be made with peach jam, because peach jam will go so well with that browned-butter, carmelly taste.

We also had so much making Feather Your Nest's mittens. Thank you Dawn for the wonderful idea and your inspiring blog. I wish we lived closer and I could bring you some cookies xoxoxoxo

Pumpkin Tiramisu


Well we had a lovely and yummy Thanksgiving. I have to say it all went smooth, no drama (which is always welcomed). Everything was sooo delicious. My sisters marsela wild mushroom soup was perfection. The farro stuffing was a lot like a wild rice stuffing and it is long gone. I really loved Aubern'es chocolate pecan pie. I do not like turkey, so I could not say a lot about it. But it was very moist. My favorite dish of all was my mothers Caesar salad with polenta croutons. I could have ate all of it. I especially loved the dressing, it is very lemony and garlic. We did not fry the croutons but baked them, and they were perfect.

Baked Polenta Crouton

Pre-heat oven 450

Cube polenta and coat each cube in olive oil. Set on cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes, till bottom is crisped. Let croutons cool 20 minutes before removing from cookie sheet. You could makes these a couple of hours before. I will be making this salad a lot. 


The pumpkin tiramasiu was wonderful. I keep the coffee a bit light because I still wanted to pumpkin to come through. Now you should make this dish with marscapone and heavy cream, but with my budget I had to chose between either marscapone or the amarettini cookies. So this is what I did. I put my money into the cookies and made cream fraiche instead and whipped it into cream cheese. Both marscapone and cream fraiche have a tang to them. So I was able to get a similar flavor. But if I was making this and had the money I would use the marscapone instead. The lovely thing is the cream fraiche is made a day or two before. Feel free to e-mail me if I am not making sense. Also thank you Janet for the acorns, they were perfect with my brown and red table xoxoxox


Pumpkin Tiramisu

1 1/2 cup cream fraiche
3/4 cup sugar
1 8-ounce cream cheese, a room temperature
2 cups puree pumpkin
3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or 1/4 teaspoon each cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tap. vanilla
1 package of 24 ladyfingers
1/4 cup rum
1/4 cup water
1 tsp espresso powder
crushed amarettini cookies

In a mixer cream, cream cheese and sugar together. Add pumpkin, spices, salt, vanilla and beat just until is smooth. Put in a large bowl and wash and clean mixing. Whip cream fresh, till firm peeks. Then gently fold cream fresh into pumpkin mixture.

Bring water to a boil and add, rum and espresso powder. Dip each ladyfinger in rum mixture and fill first layer if dish. Then spread half of pumpkin mixture, then cover with amarettini cookies.
Repeat with second layer ladyfingers, spread rest of pumpkin mixture and cover top with cookies. Wrap tightly in plastic, then foil. Chill overnight

Pumpkin-Pie Bars

 Punpkin pie bars

We made a yummy treat the other day, Pumpkin-Pie bars. If you love pumpkin pie, you will love these. It is a crispy crust with a deep pumpkin filling, just like the pie. Enjoy !!!!!


Pumpkin-Pie Bars

3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup spelt or whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup chopped toasted pecans
1/2 cup of rapadura or brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (one teaspoon for crust, one for batter)
1/2 cup melted butter
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin 
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350. In mixing bowl, combine flours, nuts, sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Add butter, mix until crumbly. Reserve 1/3 of the mixture. Pat remaining mixture on bottom of 13x9-inch baking pan (you can use a bit smaller pan, it will just be a deeper bar and cook a bit longer)

Meanwhile, in large mixing bowl combine pumpkin, heavy cream, eggs, cinnamon, spices, maple, vanilla and salt. Mix well. Pour evenly over crust ad sprinkle reserved crust over pumpkin mixture.

Bake 40-50 minutes or until set

My Over-night Maple Rolls


My good friend Susan, shared her grandmother's version of over-night dough, that can be made into cinnamon rolls. Thank you Susan. I love overnight things, so I do not have to cook as much in the morning ;-)

I changed Susan's recipe a bit because I wanted make a maple version. I added maple syrup to the dough and made a maple glaze. I also added toasted pecans, because I think they go so well with maple. But feel free to play with what you like. I listed my ingredients and Susan's, so you can see both and see what you would like bestI did want to say I changed the baking time. I baked mine at 325% for 5-10 minutes longer and found the rolls cooked without the edges burning and I did not need to cover with foil. So as I have said before, everybody's oven is different, but try baking these at 325 instead of 350 and hopefully that will work better for you

PS. Look at these baby shoes filled with baby tears plan. I saw at the fair and I thought these were so sweet. What a wonderful way to use those outgrown baby shoes !!!!!

My Over-night Maple Rolls

2 cups water

1 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup butter, 1 stick

1 tsp. salt

1 pkg. yeast

2 eggs, well beaten

3 cup whole wheat pastry flour

3-5 cup all-purpose white flour

Spread dough with 1/4 cup soft butter, 2 cups chopped, toasted pecans, 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon.Follow directions below to make and bake dough. This make two rolls, eight pieces each. I cooked one roll and put one roll in the freezer. I just set the frozen rolls in a pan about 5 at night and they were ready in the morning to bake.

Maple Glaze

Drizzle maple syrup in 1 cup confectioner sugar until you get desired consistency.

Susan's Overnight Rolls
4 c. water
2 c. sugar
1 c. shortening (butter)
1 T. salt
1 cake or 2 pkgs. Yeast
4 eggs, well-beaten
12-15 c. flour

Boil water and sugar 5 minutes. Add shortening (butter). Remove from heat. Cool to lukewarm (you can hurry this by placing in the fridge, but don't let it *overcool*). Stir in salt, yeast, eggs. Add flour a cup or two at a time, slowing down when dough approaches a nice soft (not sticky) * dough texture. You may not need to use all of the flour (don't get to the point where the dough is heavy). Knead.

Make dough at 2 p.m. Let rise, covered, in a large, clean, oiled bowl til 5 p.m. You can use two bowls if you don't have a large bread bowl. Gently knead down. Let rise again, covered, til 8 or 9 p.m. Shape into buns. Place in greased pans. Let rest on counter overnight. Bake in morning at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes. ( You may need to cover with foil partway through baking if rolls are browning quickly).

I simply spread butter over the rectangle of dough and sprinkle liberally with a mixture of sugar and cinnamon (I don’t add soaked raisins or nuts, but you could). Roll up the rectangle. Seal the end. Slice into rolls a good two inches wide (high). Place them an inch or so apart on cookie sheets or in pans (metal works best). In the morning, bakes as directed above, but make sure they’ve cooked long enough to be done. You really don’t want them *too* done—they’re just so soft and moist and delicious when done right. Mix a glaze (almost a frosting) with some butter and powdered sugar and enough milk to make it between pourable and spreadable (oh, and add some vanilla, too). I glop some of this on each roll, spreading with the back of the spoon so that it touches the entire exposed surface of the roll. Use plenty (this is not a health food!). It runs all down through the spirals of the rolls

* I noticed this recipe says to not have sticky dough but with adding the maple syrup instead of sugar the dough will be sticky. I also leave my doughs on the wetter side, because as they rise they loose the stickiness and make a moister bread.