Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Cocoa Brownies

The holiday season is upon us and the temptation to eat delicious sugar filled sweets is there to tempt us at every holiday party and family gathering in the upcoming weeks.   Fortunately, I am here to describe how you can have your cake (brownie) and eat it to!   Shared below is a Gluten Free / Vegan (optional) Cocoa Brownie recipe that will not disappoint.  You don’t have to worry about processed sugar because there is none!  The bananas create a moist brownie that is also naturally sweet so only a small amount of maple syrup is needed to create the perfect balance of sweetness.  If made right, I guarantee they will be a big success at your holiday party.  In fact, I prepared these brownies for a holiday party two years ago and was surprised to see how quickly they disappeared.  I spent a good part of the evening reciting the recipe off the top of my head to all the people who asked for it.   Next time, I shall simply refer them to this blog post.  😉   

Cocoa Brownies
Gluten Free, Vegan (optional)

Makes 18 small brownies

½ cup Coconut Flour
½ cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
½ tsp Salt
½ tsp Baking Soda
5 Bananas
¾ cup Maple Syrup (or Honey)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/3 cup Butter (or Coconut Oil), melted
2 Tbsp Coconut Milk (or Almond Milk)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

1.  Add all dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together.  This includes Coconut flour, Cocoa powder, salt and baking soda.

2.  In a separate bowl mix together all the wet ingredients.  This includes bananas, maple syrup, vanilla extract, melted butter and coconut milk.  Use a fork or potato masher to mash the bananas into a pulp.

3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and whisk thoroughly.  Optional: use food processor to get a smoother consistency.

4.  Grease the bottom and sides of a 9” baking pan with butter or coconut oil.  Add the brownie batter.

5.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Once the time is up, remove from oven and insert a toothpick into center of brownie mix and remove.  If brownies are done then the toothpick should come out clean.  Otherwise, if it comes out covered in brownie batter place your brownies back in the oven for a little longer checking randomly until it passes the toothpick test.  Try not to overcook, because this will dry out the brownies!  No bueno!  Your goal should be to achieve a fully cooked yet moist brownie!

These brownies will taste magnificent right out of the oven and they taste even better day two.  So, keep that in mind if you are preparing dessert for guests a day ahead of time!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Crockpot Chili

It’s getting cold outside, so it’s time to pull out the crockpot for some soul warming Chili!  I’ve experimented with several crockpot chili recipes and this is by far my favorite.   The acidity of the tomato sauce keeps the meat from drying out as it cooks over the course of several hours.  The flavors of the spices blend really well with the ground beef and beans.  You will notice the flavors really settle in day 2, so you get the advantage of looking forward to leftovers!  I hope you enjoy this and let me know what you think in the comments! 

Crockpot Chili 


1 lb Ground Beef
1 Stalk Celery, chopped
1 Onion, chopped
4 oz. Diced Green Chili’s
15 oz Tomato Sauce
15 oz. Diced Tomatoes
15 oz. Kidney Beans, with liquid
15 oz. Pinto Beans, with liquid
1 tbsp. Cumin Powder
2 tbsp. Chili Powder
2 tsp. Black Pepper
1 tsp. Fine Sea Salt
½ tbs. Cayenne Pepper (optional) 


Step 1 - Add Ground Beef to a lightly oiled pan and fry over medium heat, stirring frequently until evenly browned.

Step 2 - Add All ingredients, including cooked Ground Beef to the Crock Pot and stir until blended.  Do NOT drain the juices from canned beans.  The juices improve the flavor and texture of the end product!   Include Cayenne if you prefer the extra heat!

Step 3 – Cover and cook on High for 4-5 hours OR on Low for 8 hours. 

Step 4 – Serve up with shredded cheddar cheese and/or sour cream.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Pumpkin Soup

Here's a super easy Pumpkin Soup recipe that I'd like to share with you!  This particular recipe is part of my annual fall tradition.  Every year, just before Halloween, I buy several pumpkins that I keep in my home as fall decor.  Eventually, one my my pumpkins will end up roasted and turned into soup.  Pictured below is this years result!  It was delicious!


1/2 Cup Onion, chopped
3 tbsp. Butter
2 Cups Roasted Pumpkin, mashed
1 tbsp. Sea Salt
1 tbsp. Sugar
1/2 tsp. Ground Pepper
1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
3 Cups Vegetable Broth
1/2 Cup Half & Half

Place a large saucepan on your stove burner and turn the heat up to medium. When the pan is hot add butter and chopped onion and cook until the onions turn slightly brown. Next, add in your mashed pumpkin with the Salt, Sugar, Pepper, and Nutmeg. Give it a quick stir, then slowly begin to add the vegetable broth and allow heat through slightly.  Do not boil.

Ladle the soup into a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.  Last, pour the puree back into the pot and stir in the Half & Half.  The soup is complete!  Scoop into your favorite bowl and enjoy!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Roasted Vegetables and Fingerling Potatoes

Introducing my 'go to' side dish in the fall time.  The sweetness of the roasted red onion with yellow Squash and Zucchini is heavenly.  It's also so versatile, pairs well with animal proteins such as red meat, chicken or fish!  As an added bonus, I'll use the leftovers in my scrambled eggs the next morning!  Now that's a good way to start the day!

Roasted Vegetables and Fingerling Potatoes

4 servings

*  6-9 small fingerling potatoes, quartered
* 1 Red Onion, cut in half and sliced
* 1 Green Zucchini, cut into half moon slices
* 1 Yellow Squash,  cut into half moon slices
* 1/2 tablespoon dried (or fresh) Thyme
*1/2 Tablespoon dried (or fresh) Rosemary
*2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
*Salt and Pepper (to taste)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

1.  Place the quartered potatoes in a large bowl and add up to 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil and stir in the salt and pepper to taste (I add about 1/2 teaspoon of each).

2.  Arrange the potatoes in a lightly oiled baking tray and place in preheated oven for 10 minutes.

3.  Once the potatoes are in the oven place the sliced Zucchini, Yellow Squash and Red Onion in a bowl and stir in the remaining 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil.  Add the Thyme and Rosemary, plus salt and pepper to taste.

4.  When the potatoes are done, carefully remove from oven and add in the vegetables.  Stir until blended and place back in the oven for 30 minutes.  Be sure to stir about halfway through.

5.  Serve with your protein of choice.  Enjoy!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Fresh Spring Rolls w/ Peanut Sriracha Sauce

Oh, boy!  These spring rolls are a real treat in the summer time when you want to eat light but still feel full.  Even though it's fall now, I feel it's important I include this recipe to my list because it was a real hit when I prepared it for friends by the lake in Bella Vista, Arkansas this last summer,  just a short 2 months ago!  Time flies!  I should note that it's vegan and gluten free for my health conscious readers.  Enjoy! 

Fresh Spring Rolls w/ Peanut Sriracha Sauce


Spring Roll

1 Red Pepper, julienned
1 Carrots, julienned
1 Cucumber, julienned
3 Green Onions, thinly sliced
Handful of Spinach, thinly sliced
1/4 Cup Peanuts, chopped
1/8 Cup Sesame Seeds
5-10 Rice Paper Wrappers

Dipping Sauce
3 Tablespoons Peanut Butter
2 Teaspoons Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoon Sriracha Sauce
1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup
1 Tablespoon Sesame Seeds
2-3 Tablespoons Water to thin


1.  First, mix all of the Dipping Sauce Ingredients together and place to the side or covered in the fridge.

2.  Next,  line up the the first 7 Spring Roll ingredients on a plate or other clean surface for easy access.

3.  Fill up a pot with water, about a 1/2 inch deep, and heat until warm, just before boiling temperature.  Drop in a Rice Paper Wrapper and let soak for 30 seconds.  Carefully remove with a fork or tongs and place on a flat clean surface.  Let cool for 30 seconds and then begin adding about a spoonful of each of the spring roll ingredients to the center of the wrapper.

4.  Now, that the spring roll ingredients are neatly place in the center, take one side of the wrapper and fold over.  Then, take the opposite side of the wrapper and fold it over, then the adjacent corner, finally roll it like you are wrapping a gift.  The rice paper is sticky and will cling to itself holding the ingredients inside if done properly.

5.  Repeat process until all the ingredients are gone.

6.  Fill a bowl with the Peanut Sriracha sauce and place the completed rolls on a plate.  You are ready to enjoy an amazing treat!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Best Apple Pie

This apple pie recipe was a new discovery for me.  Normally, I'm not big on sweets but after a trip to Fishkill Farms Apple Orchard in upstate NY, I knew I needed to make a traditional apple pie just so I could say I tried it.  To my amazement the pie ended up being the best I ever tasted!  Now I will share the recipe for 'The Best Apple Pie' with you.



*2 Cups All Purpose Flour
*1/2 Teaspoon Salt
*2/3 Cups Shortening
*6 Tablespoons Cold Water
*5 Tablespoons Water, as needed


*5 Jonagold Apples, peeled, cored and sliced
*1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice (approx. 1/2 a lemon)
*1/2 Cup Raw Cane Sugar
*1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
*1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
*1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
*1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg
*1 Tablespoon Butter
*1 Egg
*Salt (to taste)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

1.  For the Piecrust, mix together the All Purpose Flour and Salt together in a mixing bowl.  Cut in the shortening and 6 Tablespoons water with your hands or a pastry cutter.  Push the mix to the side in the bowl and add the remaining water until it is moistened and well combined.  Roll into one large ball and divide in half.  Wrap each half separately in saran wrap and place in the fridge.    

2.  In a large bowl mix the apples and lemon juice.  Now, add the next 5 ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Set mixture aside.

3.  Take the dough out of the fridge.  Place one roll on a lightly floured surface and with a rolling pin roll the dough until just wide enough to fit inside a 9" Pie Dish.  

4.  Next, pour the apple mixture into the dough lined pie dish.  Cut small cubes of the butter and place on top of the apple mixture.  Now, take the 2nd ball of dough and place on a lightly floured surface and roll until you have a 11 inch circumference.  Lay on top of the pie and 'seal' and 'flute' the edge.  Take a knife a cut a small cross in the center.  Then, make approximately 8 incisions about 1/2 inch each in the dough so that it looks like sun rays radiating from the center.  The incisions allow steam to escape from the inside while it bakes. 

5.  Make an egg wash.  Crack an egg in a bowl, add a pinch of salt and whisk together.  Take a small basting brush and rub the egg wash across the top of the pie.  Next, take tin foil and cover the top of your pie.  Place the pie in the oven for 25 mins.  Afterwards, take the foil off the pie and bake an additional 25 mins until crust is golden and apples are tender.

6.  Cut and serve by itself OR add a dollop of Vanilla Ice Cream and be prepared to enter a food coma.