Orange Creamsicle Smoothie

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I am currently home recovering from a weeklong vacation and my 31st birthday.  Our house is a train wreck, we have about 5 loads of laundry to do, and mail is stacked so high that I feel like I need to take deep cleansing breaths every time I even look at it.  Then there is my garden that needs to be weeded and the debris all over our yard from a bad storm we had just before returning from vacation.

So obviously, here I am blogging, avoiding everything on the to do list.  My poor husband.

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Creamsicle smoothies are more important anyways.  My goal for this one was to have a super thick and creamy vanilla smoothie with a hint of orange.  The secret to this is frozen milk cubes.  I usually rely on frozen banana to make thick and creamy shakes, but I didn’t want the banana flavor in this one so I only used a half of a banana.  Instead, I poured coconut cream and almond milk into an ice cube tray the night before.  I also can’t promise this will work in any blender other than a Vitamix.  I had to use the tamper a lot to blend up all of the frozen ingredients and get it super thick.  So if you don’t have a Vitamix, you won’t be able to get that thick texture, but it should still taste good.

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Creamsicle Smoothie

1.25 c unsweetened vanilla almond milk

2 T frozen coconut cream (I use an ice cube tray)

4 almond milk ice cubes

1 t vanilla extract

1 navel orange, segmented and frozen

1/2 frozen chopped banana

*Blend all ingredients in a Vitamix, using the tamper.  (If you don’t have a Vitamix, I would recommend eliminating the milk ice cubes for a more liquid smoothie.)

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I see you.

Egg BLT with Tomato Jam

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After being really passionate about this blog since April, for some reason I just haven’t been able to get into my groove the last couple of weeks.  I forced the last couple of blog posts out half heartedly, I’ve forced myself to test a couple of recipes, I’ve forgotten to take pictures of half of them and I just haven’t had my head in the game.

I’m not really sure what happened.  Part of the reason I was really excited about summer break was the fact that I would have so much time to devote to this blog.  I couldn’t have been more wrong about that one.  We’ve been arguably busier than during the school year- going here, going there, meeting up with so and so, delving into house projects, crossing off our summer bucket list, running and taking classes at the Y trying to get back in shape, etc. Here are just a few things we’ve been up to…

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Fishing with cousins
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Busch Gardens
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Trip to the ER. He’s okay 🙂
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Annual Smith Mountain Lake family vacation

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Overcoming a fear of water? Maybe not so much…
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A lot of missed naps= pass out right at dinner time.
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Lots and lots of time with long lost cousins visiting from Italy!

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Our meals have also been totally out of whack as we have been invited to go out to dinner or eat with family multiple times a week. We’ve had potluck type meals at our house for special occasions too and then all the food gets left at our house leaving us eating the leftovers for the next 3 days.  On top of that we’ve had vacations here and there.  The uncertainty of it all has made me hesitant to buy anything at the grocery store for fear that it will just go bad.  I’ve also stopped planning meals because I feel like every time I plan one, something else comes up.

I actually really miss meal planning and cooking.  It helps me stay on track and eat healthier.  This last month has been a whirl of carbs and sugar- both things that definitely don’t make me feel my best, especially in a bathing suit…..  At this moment, I feel like I don’t even want to look at another slice of white bread and the thought of a bowl of ice cream makes me wanna hurl.  Yep, when you get to that point, that’s when you know you’ve overdone it lately.

So while I haven’t had much time in the kitchen, I still have 6 or 7 recipes that I made over a month ago needing to be shared.   Today is the first time in 2 weeks that I’ve felt the motivation to post them.  So here I am, and judging by how much I just wrote, I had more to say than I thought I did :).

You’re wondering why you need a recipe for an egg BLT, aren’t you?  Just slap some eggs, bacon, tomato and spinach on a couple slices of bread and you’re golden.  This is true.  BUT, this is not just any egg BLT.  This one features a lovely, savory tomato jam.  As is the case with many things I post, I’ve never actually had a tomato jam before.  This is simply my interpretation of how I would expect tomato jam to taste- slightly sweet and tangy with hints of warm cloves and ginger.

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I served it on an Ezekial English Muffin with arugula, bacon and an egg cooked over easy.  It was bliss and it was definitely NOT your typical BLT.

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Tomato Jam (recipe adapted from Food Network Kitchen)

2 c chopped tomatoes

6 oz tomato paste

1 t lemon

1 t red wine vinegar

2 t molasses

3 t turbinado (or brown sugar)

pinch red pepper flakes

1/2 t cinnamon

1/2 t ginger

1/4 t cloves

*Start by cooking your chopped tomatoes in a small saucepan on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes.  They will soften and release their juices.  Add the rest of the ingredients and stir together.  Allow it to come to a bubble, then turn the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.  Store in a jar in the refrigerator.

Egg BLT with Tomato Jam

1 Ezekial English Muffin, toasted

Tomato Jam

Small handful of arugula

1 piece of bacon

1 egg, cooked over easy

*To assemble your sandwich, spread tomato jam on the inside of the both slices of your toated English muffin.  Pile some arugula on to the bottom half.  Break your slice of bacon in half and lay it across the arugula.  Gently place your cooked egg on top of the bacon, then top it off with the top half of your English muffin.  Grab a napkin (it’s gonna get messy) and devour only in front of nonjudgmental people (no joke-it’s gonna get messy!)

Lincoln’s Staple Sunbutter

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Ever since finding out about Lincoln’s food allergies when he was just 6 months old, Sunbutter has been a staple food in our house.  I am so grateful for this allergy friendly alternative.  It got me through 8 months of having to give up peanut butter while I continued nursing Lincoln.  Then, as Lincoln entered toddlerhood, he began also relying on it as a substitute for peanut butter.  I pack Sunbutter sandwiches for Lincoln’s lunch more than I care to admit.  He also loves to dip his apples and bananas in it.  Sometimes he even eats it straight off the spoon!  Hmmm… who did he learn that from, I wonder? 😉

Unfortunately, Sunbutter costs about double what I normally pay for a jar of peanut butter.  The cheapest Sunbutter I have found is $5 per 16 oz. jar at Trader Joe’s.   Not terrible… but considering how often we go through a jar, that can add up.

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I don’t know what in the world took me so long to make my own.  One day as I was perusing at Trader Joe’s I noticed that a 16 oz. bag of roasted sunflower seeds would only put me back $1.99!  I am still trying to gain confidence in my nut/seedbutter making skills, but I figured at only $1.99 it was worth a shot!  And you know what?  It could NOT have been any easier to make.  All I did was dump the sunflower seeds into the food processor and allow it to process until it was completely smooth.  I stopped and scraped the sides a couple of times.  It only took me about 7-8 minutes total to achieve smooth, creamy sunbutter.  I also added a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of coconut sugar at the end to sweeten it.  At the end of the day, I saved $2.50 and Lincoln never knew any different!  Bonus- I felt proud of myself because I made it!

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Lincoln’s Staple Sunbutter

2 c roasted unsalted sunflower seeds

1 T coconut sugar

1/2 t salt

~Process the sunflower seeds in a food processor until completely smooth, pausing to scrape the sides as needed.  This took about 7-8 minutes in my food processor.  Add your coconut sugar and salt.  Process another 20 seconds until incorporated.

Lemon Ginger Chicken Stir Fry w/ Red Quinoa

What can I say about this recipe?  The husband raved.  The kids devoured.  I found my happy place.

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I just ask that you forgive the sad looking pictures.  I was too busy eating my dinner.

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Here is a cuter picture for you.  It just oozes cuteness!

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You’re just going to have to trust that this meal tastes better than I was able to make it look in my hungry, impatient state of mine.  Here is the recipe!

Lemon Ginger Chicken Stir Fry w/ Red Quinoa

  • 1 T coconut oil
  • 2 lbs chicken thighs
  • 2 lg. cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 c fresh green beans, snapped
  • 1/2 c mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled & sliced
  • Lemon Ginger Sauce:  Mix together-juice & zest of 1 lemon, 1/4 c tamari, 1 T honey, 1.5c chicken broth, 2 T cornstarch
  • 1/4 c green onion, chopped
  • 1/4 c cilantro, chopped
  • Red Quinoa, cooked, to serve

Heat coconut oil in a large pan over medium high heat.  Add your chicken thighs and sauté about 5 minutes until golden brown.  (It does not have to be cooked through at this point.  It will cook more in the sauce.)  Add garlic, green beans, mushrooms and carrots and sauté another 3-4 minutes.  Pour in your lemon ginger sauce and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down to low and simmer another 10 minutes.  Top with green onion and cilantro.  Serve over red quinoa.

Homemade Nutella

One of my favorite things about being a food blogger is the challenge of mastering a recipe that I created all on my own.  I always found it very rewarding to open up my trusty cookbooks and fix something mind-blowingly delicious.  But as great as that felt, it is nothing compared to fixing something mind-blowing that you came up with entirely on your own…  Using your own creativity…  Using your own ingredients.  And for that reason, I have a very strict policy (as should any food blogger) of not copying someone else’s recipes.

Sometimes it can be hard not to copy someone else’s recipe because there are already recipes floating out there for things I want to make.  So when that happens, I have a rule of thumb that I don’t “cheat” by looking at anyone else’s recipe when I’m creating my own.

Now I don’t always waltz into the kitchen with an idea and blow it out of the park the very first time.  Occasionally I do, and that’s exciting, but more often than not I know I’m CLOSE, but tweaks need to be made.

So with that in mind, let me tell you the story of this Nutella.  I have been wanting to create Nutella and various other nut butter combinations I’ve invented in my head for a long time, but I’ve always been scared.  I’ve tried a couple of nut/seed butter combo’s before and the texture just never came out that great.  But I decided to give it another try.  Nutella is worth another try, is it not?

So I set off to make my Nutella without “cheating” by looking at someone else’s recipe.  I purchased my expensive hazelnuts.  I roasted them.  I rubbed the skins off.  And I put them in my food processor, took a deep breath and hoped for the best.  I expected that it would take an eternity for them to turn into hazelnut butter, but much to my surprise it happened FAST.  I think it was under 3 minutes fast, and I had the texture of nut butter that one buys at the grocery store.  Oh, I was so excited.  SO excited.  I couldn’t believe I was staring at my own homemade smooth, creamy hazelnut butter.  SEE??!!

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So I began excitedly adding the other ingredients.  In went the cocoa powder.  In went the vanilla extract.  The sea salt.  And last, the maple syrup.  This time I hit blend with the utmost confidence!

…….And watched in horror as it began to clump up into a ball.  Trying not to panic, I began to add a little of this and a little of that, writing down everything I did so that when it turned back into the perfect nutbutter, I’d have the perfect recipe to share.  But sadly it just got worse and worse and worse.  Until it looked like this.

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Nutella Attempt #1

Throws in the towel.

Now I know I said I don’t like to look at other people’s recipes because I consider it “cheating”… but I thought that perhaps a little research wouldn’t hurt???  One Google search later and I realized that adding liquid sweeteners causes nut butters to thicken.  Well dang.

Did I let that ruin my night?  Of course not!  Proof:

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Plus even failure Nutella can serve a purpose or two:



Husband’s late night snack attacks…….

Oh yes.  Failed Nutella > No Nutella.

Not one to give up after the first try, I marched straight down to the grocery store to purchase more hazelnuts once my next paycheck came in.  I put on my thinking cap.  I modified.  And I… SUCCEEDED!

Back into the food processor we go.

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Best enjoyed straight off the spoon!

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Homemade Nutella

2 c roasted hazelnuts

2 T cocoa powder

1 T coconut sugar

1/4 t sea salt

1/4 t vanilla

~Process your hazelnuts in a food processor until completely smooth.  Depending on your food processor, this could take 5-10 minutes and you may need to scrape the sides of the food processor bowl every couple of minutes.  Once the hazelnuts are the right consistency, add in the rest of the ingredients.  Process about 10-15 seconds, only until everything is mixed in thoroughly.


Limoncello Soda

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You know how sometimes you buy a certain ingredient for a recipe and then have no use for it whatsoever after that?  Well, that’s how this came about.

I’ve had a bottle of Fabrizia Limoncello sitting in my refrigerator door for years….

That’s embarrassing to type for just anyone in the world to see.  Yes, it’s true:  I don’t always clean out my fridge.

Equally embarrassing: I consumed it.  But the good news is, I am still alive!!

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In an effort to use some of this Limoncello, I mixed it with some Perrier sparkling mineral water and a touch of fresh lemon juice.  The result was a cool, refreshing grown up drink 🙂


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Limoncello Soda

8-10 oz. sparkling mineral water (like Perrier)

3-4 oz. limoncello liquor

2 T lemon juice

~Mix all ingredients together and serve over ice with a slice of lemon for garnish.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

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I am combining two things I love in this recipe:  hummus and roasted red peppers.  This roasted red pepper hummus takes less than 5 minutes to throw together.  I suppose you could go all out and roast your own peppers, but I have no problem with the jarred ones, especially if they are just going to be blended up in a dip anyways.  It is perfect slathered on some homemade pita bread or as a dip for raw veggies.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained & rinsed
  • 1/4 c roasted red peppers
  • juice 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 T minced garlic
  • 1/4 c fresh parsley
  • 2 T tahini
  • 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
  • s&p, to taste

Mix all ingredients in a food processor until smooth.


Peach Cobbler Milkshake

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A shout out to the fast food restaurant Cookout for inspiring this milkshake.  Also, a shout out to my fragile stomach for inspiring me to make a dairy free, healthier version.  I used to LIVE for junk food sweets.  It didn’t matter how much dinner I ate or how full I was, I ALWAYS had room for dessert.  When I was breastfeeding Luke I used to eat sweets recklessly.  I justified this with the fact that I was burning off every calorie I ate and then some.  Somebody brought a birthday cake into the teacher workroom, I ate it.  A box of doughnuts?  That’s a second breakfast.  Ice cream craving late at night?  I fulfilled it.

What I never thought about at the time was how even though I couldn’t seem to keep weight on when I was nursing that hungry little boy, I was not being healthy or doing my body any favors on the inside.  It was not until after I began having stomach issues a couple of years ago that I learned more about how important it is to eat healthy food.

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While I sometimes miss being able to eat anything I want with no repercussions, I am grateful that I’ve learned just how damaging it can be to my body to fill it with processed junk.  Now I just try to recreate healthier versions of my favorite treats at home.  In most cases, I don’t even miss the original version.  I certainly don’t miss how it made me feel after eating it.

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If you’ve never had one of Cookout’s cobbler milkshakes, they are BOMB…. but they are not healthy.  They are full of dairy and I don’t even want to know how much sugar is involved.  I was thrilled with how my healthier version came out.  It has fresh ripe peaches and I even recreated the little cobbler bits mixed in!  What it does NOT have is dairy, refined sugar or gluten.  It is the perfect summertime treat to cure those late night ice cream cravings!

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Peach Cobbler Milkshake

(Serves 1-2)

Cobbler bits:  (mix together 1/4 c oats, 1/4 c oat flour, pinch salt, 1 T melted coconut oil, 1 T coconut sugar)

1 c almond milk (or other nondairy milk)

2 frozen bananas, chopped

4 ice cubes

1 t vanilla

2 small or 1 large very ripe peach, diced (reserve about 2 T diced peach to top your milkshake)

To make:  First make your cobbler bits, roll them into little balls and set them aside.  Mix the remaining ingredients in a blender.  Top your milkshake with cobbler bits and diced peaches.

Banana Pudding Parfait w/ Sugar Cookie Crumbles

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I had the idea to make a healthy banana pudding after my last go around with a package of tofu.  I used it to make a Peanut Butter Pie and Sunbutter Protein Pudding for Lincoln.  I was so pleased with how those came out that I knew I was not done with tofu yet.  I know tofu is not exactly known for being a delicious food, but trust me, as a pudding or pie filling it WORKS.  It takes on the flavor of whatever you are combining it with while adding a thick and creamy texture.  It takes no time at all to prepare.  By using tofu, you end up with a pudding that is low in calories and fat, yet high in protein.  Obviously that means you can it these puddings and pie for breakfast.  That’s my logic and I’m sticking to it.

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Banana pudding is total comfort food and I would be lying if I did not confess that my favorite part of banana pudding is the whipped cream and vanilla wafers layered throughout.  So, I knew those were a must in my version, but not just ANY old whipped cream and vanilla wafers.  I wanted them homemade, dairy free, gluten free, and using minimal sugar.  The coconut whipped cream was a piece of cake.  I’ve made it a thousand times and could do it with my eyes closed.  Vanilla wafers- another story.  I set out to make my own gluten free vanilla wafers and they totally just ended up being sugar cookies.  Maybe that is because I adapted them from a sugar cookie recipe.  Duh.  I was disappointed, knowing this would mean I’d be rolling up my sleeves and figuring out how to make vanilla wafers.  The sugar cookies were delicious however, so I layered and crumbled them throughout my parfait anyways.  And you know what?  It worked beautifully.  They were slightly crumbly and slightly chewy and went perfectly with everything else.  I couldn’t imagine another cookie being more delicious in my pudding parfait, so I’m not messing with it.

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We could talk about how I was dodging little hands wanting to grab cookie pieces the whole time I tried to take pictures.  We could also talk about how the boys and I each grabbed a spoon and polished this off in about 2 minutes flat (and kept that overflowing pudding from dripping to the ground.)  OR…. I could just give you the recipe…….

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Vegan & Gluten Free Sugar Cookies

Adapted from Minimalist Baker


-1 stick or 1/2 c Earth Balance or other Vegan butter

-1/2 c sugar

-1/4 c turbinado (brown sugar would also work)

-1 t vanilla extract

-1 flax egg (3 T water mixed with 1 T flax meal)

-1 c GF flour blend

-1/2 c oat flour

-1 t baking powder

-1/2 t baking soda

-1/2 t salt

Cream the Earth Balance in a large bowl with a mixer.  Add the sugar, turbinado, vanilla extract and flax egg and blend until well incorporated.  In another bowl, mix the gluten free flour, oat flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing a little at a time.  Freeze dough for 15 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Drop  heaping tablespoons of cookie dough onto the baking sheet, spaced 2 inches apart.  Bake 10-12 minutes, then allow to cool completely.

Coconut Whipped Cream


-1 can full fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight

-2 T maple syrup

-1 t vanilla extract

Scrape the solidified coconut cream from the top of the can into a mixing bowl.  Reserve the remaining coconut water at the bottom for another recipe (smoothies!).  Beat the coconut cream at full speed until it is whipped with stiff peaks.  Add 2 T maple syrup and 1 t vanilla.  Mix again to combine.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Banana Pudding

-2 medium bananas (they should be perfectly YELLOW- no green and no brown spotting)

-7-8 oz firm tofu

-1.5 T maple syrup (or honey if not vegan)

-1 t vanilla extract

-pinch salt

Blend all ingredients in a blender until completely smooth.

Banana Pudding Parfaits

-Banana Pudding (see above)

-Vegan & Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies (see above)

-Coconut Whipped Cream (see above)

-extra sliced bananas

*This is where you get to have some fun!  There is no right or wrong way to do this.  Simply layer banana pudding, whipped cream, sliced bananas and sugar cookies to build your parfait.  Dig in and enjoy!

High Protein PB2 Refrigerator Oatmeal

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I’ve been going through phases with my breakfasts lately.  First, it was a protein shake kick.  That one lasted MONTHS.  When I got tired of that, I moved on to baked oatmeal.  Next up was green smoothies.  After that was banana ice cream.  Finally, I decided to give my blender a break and moved on to oatmeal.  There are a couple of things that you should know about me and oatmeal: 1) I LOVE OATMEAL.  2) One of my pet peeves is instant oatmeal loaded with sugar.  It is SO much more fun and delicious to make your own flavor combos at home.  3) When it is cold outside, I like my oatmeal hot.  When it is hot outside, I like my oatmeal cold.

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If the concept of cold oatmeal is new to you, just imagine you are eating oatmeal cookie dough.  You make it the night before and the oats soak up all the liquid and soften so you don’t even have to cook it.

This was one of those mornings that I totally needed a cold oatmeal.  With a high of 95 today, by the time I set out to run this morning at 8AM, it was already pushing 85 degrees and muggy.  After a 5 mile run on an empty stomach, I was dripping in sweat and ready to eat all the cold things.  I spotted my refrigerator oatmeal in the fridge and began to shovel it in.  Okay, so I snapped a few super crappy photos first.  Patience is not my strongpoint.

Then I shoveled.

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Cold, high in protein, and super filling.  It was the perfect post-run breakfast.

High Protein PB2 Refrigerator Oatmeal

1/2 c regular oats

1 T chia seeds (thickens it)

2 T PB2

1/4 c unsweetened applesauce

1/2 c unsweetened cashew milk

1/2 t vanilla

pinch salt

*Stir all ingredients together, then allow it to sit overnight.  I like to mix mine in a mason jar and give the mason jar a good shake before putting it in the fridge.  When you wake up, breakfast is waiting for you.

**Optional, but highly recommended toppings:  peanuts & a drizzle of honey