Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Christmas Dinner (dumb easy style)

Guess what? For Christmas, I have no desire to do mini-Thanksgiving. I don't want to cook all day. If I do anything all day on Christmas, I hope that it's nap. Um, I mean, spread Christmas cheer and neighborly-ness to the weary and down-trodden. Or at least not scream at my kids. But also, hopefully, take a nap. My point (you didn't realize I had one, did you?) is that I like to keep Christmas dinner super simple.

Here's how:

1. This roast. In the crock pot. 6 hours later you eat. Done and done. It's all you really need, honestly. You can totally stop here. But just in case you don't want to, below you'll find a few more quick suggestions.
2. Croissants. Okay, these look hard and they do take forethought, but the actual hands on effort is minimal. I don't make them every year (in keeping with my absolute laziness policy on Christmas), but they're kind of fun if you want to. And sometimes I do.

3. Mock champagne. Again, tap water works fine is napping is your only Christmas wish. But this is pretty dang easy. Another idea. Take club soda and add apple juice concentrate for an easy homemade Martinelli's.
3. Cookies. From the stash in the freezer or your neighbor or whatever for dessert.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Molasses Curls

 Hello world. 

My newest young adult novel, Grey Lore, is out on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble!!! 

You can find the hardback HERE 
The paperback HERE
The Kindle version HERE 
Or if you're a Barnes and Noble fan, find it HERE

To celebrate, Zinnie (one of the characters) and I have created a new recipe. Kip wanted to call it lots of, um, interesting things. Cream burrito, Fluffy snaps, and Molassy Fluff were among those monikers not to make the final cut. But you can call them whatever you want. 

What's amazing about these cookies is... well, everything. They're super fancy and beautiful, but not outrageously difficult. They're perfect for Christmas (just like my book #shamelessmarketing). They are amazing fresh and that is how they're meant to be eaten--with a crispy outer cookie and that fluffy cream in the middle. But I left a few in the fridge and the cookie softened. Then it became something of an icebox cake--a perfect molasses-y, gingery icebox cake. And that little accident was just as delicious as the original cookie (maybe even more so). So pipe these fresh for a party. But don't be afraid to eat your leftovers either. 

Now, a little about my book. 

Grey Lore is really not at all about baking. It’s about  a girl whose mother dies so she’s whisked away to live with an aunt she’s never met. It’s about a boy who’s lived in fourteen states in the last three years. It’s about wanting to fit in and not fitting in at all. It’s about trying to find your place with people who care. Also, it’s about werewolves (because you were getting that from the rest of my description, right?) It’s about a sleepy little town buried in secrets, a town that starts to wake up as Ella and Sam discover things about their pasts and themselves.

But a lot of cookies get baked too. That’s because one of the main characters, Zinnie, seems to subsist only on cookies and herbal tea. In my first book, Grey Stone, she brought us these amazing Cinnamon Oatmeal Crispies.

In the companion book, Grey Lore, Zinnie is back, albeit somewhat changed. Her cookies are back too, although you can see they’ve altered over the years as well.

Some things grow even better with time.

Here’s a scene where Zinnie and Sam meet and make cookies (of course).

She got up and hobbled to what looked like a very old stove to retrieve the next batch of cookies. “You may call me Zinnie,” she said, even though Sam hadn’t tried to call her anything. “Now, what is your name?”
“Sam,” he said, clearing a spot for the cookies she was carrying.
The cookies were thin little things, like puddles on the pan. If Sam had pulled them out of the oven, he would have thrown them all in the garbage.

But the old woman didn’t. She handed Sam a dish towel, which he put on the table so Zinnie could set down the hot, flat cookies.
“Help me out, dear,” she said. Expertly, Zinnie took a cookie and, using the handle of a wooden spoon, she rolled the flat cookie around the handle so that it formed into a small cone while it was warm. She looked at Sam, waiting. “Give it a try,” she said, handing him the spoon. “It’s not that hard once you get used to it. And after we’re done, we’ll fill them with cream.”

Sam spent the next thirty minutes rolling delicate cookies into even more delicate tubes and then piping them full of whipped cream. By the time they were done, he was surprised to look out the window and see blue sky surfacing.
Zinnie smiled. “Go on, now, the rain has cleared. Every Friday I make cookies. Come whenever you want.”
Sam stood slowly, unsure of what to say.
“Go on,” she said. “I bet if you leave now you’ll catch the rainbow.”
Sam left, and as soon as he walked through the gates, there was a rainbow—doubled up—one stream of colors sitting fat above another. Tornado country—it had its perks.

Molasses Curls
 (Zinnie and I would like to thank Pioneer Woman for her inspiration for these cookies, though neither of us is big on brandy, so it had to be adapted) 


1 stick (1/2 C) butter
½ C molasses
¼ C sugar
¼ C brown sugar, packed
2 tsp vanilla
¾ C flour
1/8 tsp salt
¼ tsp ginger


2 C heavy cream
1/3 C sugar
1 T vanilla
1 T cream cheese, softened to room temperature (this acts as a stabilizer)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Put butter, molasses, brown sugar, and white sugar in a skillet. Allow butter to melt, stirring constantly with heat proof whisk or a wooden spoon. Allow mixture to bubble and cook for one minute.

Remove from heat and add in the flour, ginger, and salt. Stir together quickly, then stir in vanilla.

Drop ½ tablespoon FAR APART on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper or a silicone pad. You’ll only fit about 6 cookies on at a time. They will spread A LOT.

Bake for 10 minutes. They should be bubbly and flat. Ours always ran together a little no matter how hard we tried to get them not to.

Remove from oven. Allow to cool three minutes. They should be pliable, but not stretch when you pull them off the pan.

Drape over cannoli mold (or the large metal handle of a whisk, which is what we used; anything thick and round will do; we used the handle of an ice cream scoop as well). It will drape over the edges and you’ll kind of form it into a cylinder shape. Set on parchment paper sealed side down and allow to cool completely. You have to work kind of quickly so they don’t get too brittle, but don’t panic. It’s not too hard.

Allow to cool and set completely.

Meanwhile, make whipped cream. Combine cream, sugar, vanilla, an softened cream cheese in a large bowl. Whip until stiff peaks form.

After all have cooled completely, use a frosting piping thing (or a Ziploc bag with a small hole cut out of the corner like we did in our apparently insufficiently stocked kitchen). Pipe the whipped cream into the cookies.

Trouble Shooting:
-Once we let our cookies cool too much and they were too brittle to form into cylinders. Life went on; we ate them anyway.
-Since you have to make these in batches, your batter will cool as you wait. That’s not a problem. Just scoop it onto the cookie sheet when it’s its turn and it will spread and bubble as it should.
-When we were folding these, they were very greasy and that worried me, but then the grease went away and wasn't a problem. So don't stress if they seem greasy. 
-As I said above, if you want these to be as they are supposed to be (crispy cookies), you need to pipe them right before eating, but they are so divine soft that if they sit in the fridge, your life might just become a little bit fuller. 

Monday, December 4, 2017

Pumpkin Eggnog Smoothie

In an attempt to keep my kids from utter malnourishment, we've started drinking a smoothie every day after school (give or take a few). The same few smoothies get old really quick. Plus, it's officially almost winter and I wanted to find something that had warm winter/fall flavors instead of all those perky berries (not that there's anything wrong with that...) 

One night we stumbled into this sleepy time smoothie that used milk, bananas, nutmeg, honey, and cinnamon. It was just the type of winter warm smoothie inspiration I'd been looking for. I mean, it was a cold smoothie, but something about that combo felt warm to me. As we started mixing it up, it started to feel a lot like eggnog--that milk, those spices. So in an '80s throwback move, I tossed in a few raw eggs (yes, I did) and then thought that it needed a vegetable--a nice fall/winter vegetable--like a little bit of pumpkin. This is extra interesting (well, as interesting as an entire discussion of smoothies can get), but I still hadn't found a pumpkin smoothie I was in love with. Until now. This one just has a really nice blend of warm spices, winter foods, and overall virtuousness. Into that, you can also toss some ground flax seed and some oats or oat flour. You can make it with regular milk or almond milk. Both are delicious. You can add more pumpkin if that's your thing. You can experiment with the spices. I like this best with more nutmeg and less cinnamon. A bit of cardamom probably wouldn't hurt either. You can cut those raw eggs if you want. Or make it without the honey. It's still plenty sweet from the bananas. 

Pumpkin Eggnog Smoothie
adapted from Raw Blend
Serves 4
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cost: $1.40
bananas: .40, milk: .25, pumpkin: .10, eggs: .20, honey: .15, flax: .15, oats: .10, other spices: .15

3 large frozen bananas
2 C milk
3 Tbsp pumpkin
2 eggs
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon (I like it with that, but like it better without)
1-2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp crushed flax, optional
2-4 Tbsp oats, optional

Put all into a blender and blend.

Sprinkle with extra nutmeg if that's your cup of nog.


Monday, November 20, 2017

No Cook Chocolate Mousse Pie--Photo Redo

Once upon a time, I made the most delicious, dumb-easy chocolate mousse pie in the world. It was so good that I just couldn't wait to get the awesomeness in my mouth. I shoved it into some ramekins and my family gobbled it up. This story was repeated several times. Never once did I stop to pause and actually make this food look beautiful. The first time I posted this I could barely stop licking my fingers long enough to get any pictures taken at all. Well, this weekend, we were invited to a pie party (why, yes, I do have the best types of friends, why do you ask?). So I made my pie. And I couldn't eat it all right away. Because, you know, it would have looked bad to show up at the pie party with no pie and chocolate smeared all over my face. I had to wait. And in waiting, I created an actual opportunity for me to take an actual picture of this pie that didn't look like a bunch of chocolate got dumped in a ramekin by someone who was actively licking her fingers. You're welcome, universe (and fellow pie-party-goers). 

This recipe takes between 10-15 minutes to whip up. So if you're needing a dumb easy chocolate fix this holiday season, I've got your back. 

You'll notice that since this picture was taken post-pie-party, the whipped cream towers were a little less towering. I smeared them around and found the effect perfectly lovely as well. And as I was fixing my non-peaked cream, I realized that this dish could also be sprinkled with seasonally colored sprinkles or shaves of chocolate or, heck sugared cranberries if dumb-easy isn't your holiday thing. 

Bon apetit. 

You'll find the recipe HERE


Need some turkey tips. Check them out here. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Almond Joy Yogurt

In honor of the Halloween candy that was, but isn't anymore... Or for those trying to wean themselves off of their Halloween candy dependence... Or for people still trying to figure out the yogurt craze.. This post is for you. 

It's pretty healthy, but it feels utterly indulgent. If I could always live my life that way, it'd be pretty much perfect. I've been eating this for breakfast almost every day. It's so so good. It feels like dessert, but with dark chocolate and healthy nuts, it's so nutritious. 

Also, simple as heck. 

(Does it look like a cloud of pure deliciousness to you? Because it is.) 

Here's what you do. 

1. Get some thick, full-fat Greek yogurt. Or make your own in the crock pot
2. Add dark chocolate chips, coconut (sweetened or unsweetened), and almonds (or another type of nut). If that's still too stoic for you, add a sprinkle of sugar or a bit of honey. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Paleo Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Some posts you drool while you type, remembering how good that food was. This is one of those posts.

If you know me, you know that I am not exactly devoted to a paleo diet. No, I made these because they sounded heavenly. Now I'm posting them because they tasted heavenly. 

Sure, sure, they're great for your paleo diet should you be on such a thing. And if you're trying to eat more natural proteins and less processed sugar, they're great for that too. But they're also great if you just want a really delicious cookie (or breakfast cookie because that's when I ate these babies). 

Paleo Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 12 cookies
prep time: 10 minutes
cook time: 10-12 minutes
Cost: $4.50
pecans: 2.50, dates: .75, coconut: .25, egg: .10, chocolate chips: .80, other stuff: .10

1 1/2 C partly crushed pecans (walnuts work too)
12-14 medjool dates, pitted
1/4 C shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened are both fine)
1 egg
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 t vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 C chocolate chips (if you're really going paleo, you'll need an appropriately paleo chip, but I just used Ghiradelli, and did not regret my choice)

Using a food processor, blend the pecans, coconut, baking soda, and salt until they are a fine, sandy texture. 

Add dates and blend fully. It might clump a bit. Don't stress. Just keep pulsing (and maybe scraping the processor) until it's blended nicely. 

Add the egg. Blend. 

Add the chocolate chips. Pulse a time or two. 

Scoop onto a baking sheet and press flat (they won't spread like cookies with butter do, so they need to be pressed down.) 

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. 

Cool. And eat. 

(Note: These are good warm, but I stored these in the refrigerator and thought that cold they were the most divine things on earth--the sweet, nutty cookie with that cold crunch of chocolate chip. Oops. There I go drooling again.)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Things to Make with Apples

In my stores, fresh apples are just arriving. If you're looking for some inspiration about how to use them, here you go.

(Also, do I seriously not have a decent picture of Apple Crisp. I seriously do not. This needs immediate remedying.)

1. Apple sauce. I make it in the crock pot most of the time and it's dumb easy.

2. Apple Crisp. Easier and sweeter than apple pie.

3. Crock Pot Apple Cider. So good. Makes your house smell like heaven swallowed cinnamon. 

4. Apple Cinnamon Rolls. Really lovely take on the classic rolls.

5. Classic (and amazing) Apple Pie. And if you're looking for something a little simpler or slightly healthier, there's this apple tart.

6. Bonus: Apple Cake (Yes, I just recently posted a photo re-do, but in case you need another reminder, make this because it will change your life.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Favorite Pumpkin Recipes

Because it's almost October, here are a few of my favorite pumpkin recipes from the blog.

1. Pumpkin Oat Breakfast Cookies. The BEST.

2. Not-for-breakfast Pumpkin Cookies. (Though if you eat them for breakfast, I won't tell; I'm not your mom.)

3. Pumpkin Refrigerator Oatmeal. And we're back to breakfast.

4. Pumpkin Alfredo. In case you don't just eat breakfast and dessert.

5. Pumpkin Spice Muffins.

6. Pumpkin Muffins with Cream Cheese Filling. Because...more muffins.

7. Self Frosting Nutella and Pumpkin Muffins. Because...even more muffins.

8. that classic...Pumpkin Pie.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Apple Cake--Photo Redo

This is the best apple cake in the world with the best butter sauce in the world. Because of that, it's hard to get a good picture since swarms of hungry savages descend upon it and eat it before you get the chance (or maybe it's just me, hiding in a closet and scooping it out with my hands). Either way, it goes quick, so my last picture just didn't do it justice.

You can eat it plain and it's fabulous.

Or with this pure evil butter sauce up on top. 

You can find the recipe (and original not-great picture) HERE.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Back-to-School Multi-Grain Cookies

(These are actually little mini-cookies.)

These cookies were discovered, as so many good things are, by accident. This weekend in preparation for the Sunday school lesson for the kids at my church, I was trying to make some "manna." Now I'm not claiming to know what manna was, but I'm just going to say that God certainly couldn't have gone too wrong if He'd made these cookies. Sweet with a touch of honey and a variety of grains. And I'll be darned if they don't vanish by the time the sun gets hot (Exod. 16:21 if you're not getting that super clever allusion there). 

Now since we don't have to hang out in the wilderness for 40 years, and since not everyone is on board with Moses and manna, I should tell you that these also make really excellent back-to-school cookies.

They're good to send in lunches; they're great for after school. They can even be eaten for breakfast in a pinch (though I should warn you that they pack a fairly sugary punch). They are not purely nutritious, but they're not without their virtues either.

Make them, eat them, love them. You'll become a believer.

Back-to-School Multi-Grain Cookies
adapted from Rae's Books and Recipes
Make about 24
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 8-10 minutes
Cost: $1.70 ($.07/per cookie)
butter: .60, honey: .40, sugar: .10, eggs: .20, oat flour: .05, whole wheat flour: .10, flax: .15, white flour: .10

1/2 C (1 stick) butter, somewhat soft
1/2 tsp vanilla (and almond extract would kill it in these too)
1/4 C honey
3/4 C sugar
2 eggs (or 3 egg yolks)
3/4 C all-purpose flour
1/2 C oat flour
1/2 C whole wheat flour
1/4 C whatever fun flour or nut flour you'd like to add. I used ground flax seed
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Beat honey and sugar into butter. Add eggs. Add flours and baking powder. Mix until combined.

Roll into 1-inch balls. Bake on cookie sheet at 375 for 7-10 minutes. (Note: I made mine miniature and therefore am sort of guessing on time for the bigger cookies.

Let cool. Eat.


Monday, August 14, 2017

After School Snacks

Okay, folks, time for some honesty. I rarely do after school snacks. When my kids get home from school, I'm either staring at my computer screen, taking a nap, or racing them home after some errands. I know, I have a really interesting life. But even though I stink at this, I occasionally turn out something pretty awesome. And I'm always happy when I do. So I'm writing this post to inspire all of us if inspiring is what we need. Many of these are simple. Many of them are even healthy. And I really should get better because my kids are always STARVING when they get home and usually end up scavenging through cupboards until they find some year-old marshmallows or some equally unhealthy and generally horrible option to munch on.

We'll go from healthiest to least healthy.

1. Sweet Potato Chips. My biggest problem with these is that I end up eating most of them off the pan and then no one else gets any. Also, know that slicing them is the hardest part--you gotta get em thin. But when you do, they're sooo delicious.

2. Kettle corn. Easy, quick, good. If you have brave eaters who are popcorn lovers, you could try this even healthier option for homemade popcorn--Curried Popcorn.

3. Homemade Larabars. These can be really filling, so don't serve them right before dinner. Also, they're quite sweet, so just know that.

4. Whole Wheat Banana Bread (or muffins). At this time of year, we always have tons of spotty bananas hanging around. Not into bananas? Try this awesome chocolate zucchini bread.

5. Sour Patch Grapes (pictured at top). Regular grapes are healthier, sure. But these are sooo fun. Also, they're a great way to use up sour or otherwise lousy grapes.

And if you're looking for that classic cookie recipe, here it is:

6. Katie's Chocolate Chip Cookies. Or--for a healthier version of that old classic, try these whole grain, lower sugar chocolate chip cookies

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Natural Gatorade

I guess I better confess and say that I can't exactly call this natural Gatorade because what is Gatorade exactly? It's like watered-down Koolaid with electrolytes mixed in, right? And this isn't really an natural version of that sugared, electrolyted drink. What it IS is water that's been pimped up with some natural electrolytes. 

That's right. I just told you that today's recipe is water. Maybe I should feel embarrassed about the state of my lameness, but the truth is that this drink is really very lovely and kind of addicting. I find that I now crave it when I've been out in the heat or had a really hard workout or both (nothing better after hot yoga). You get the hydration and the electrolytes without drinking a lot of sugars and/or sweeteners and food dyes. 

And I do feel that it has more oomph and helps me recover more quickly than plain water. Sometimes after a hot or hard workout, I get headaches and this seems to help with that. I'm not going to call it a miracle tonic, but maybe it kind of is. 

And is it dumb easy? Yes

And is it super cheap? Yes. ($.25 at its highest price compared to the $.99 of Gatorade)

And is it tasty? Surprisingly. 

Half the time when I take a swig of Gatorade, I want to spit it out. It just tastes so fake and almost thick to me. This natural Gatorade is just so refreshing. Note: If you drink Gatorade because you like sweet, red/blue/purple/orange drinks, then you won't get that sweetness from this drink and you might find that disappointing. This isn't sweet. It's a barely flavored water, but what it lacks in sweetness, it makes up for in refreshingness (totally a word). 

Now I'm going to warn you: In this drink I'll instruct you to add salt to your water. And you'll go, "Ew, gross. Who puts salt in your water?" Um, you do if you drink any type of Powerade or Gatorade or probably any other number of processed drinks (Gatorade checks in with a whopping 11% of your daily sodium intake--270 mg). But that's not the point. The point is that we're going to add salt, but this still won't taste salty. It's just a pinch. Even alone in the water, you probably wouldn't notice it, but with that lemon, it's actually a really nice complement. Just be sure to mix it in (or you'll get a somewhat nasty last swig of water). Also, you MUST use a natural salt. First of all, it supposedly has more benefits (the naturalists will tell you that iodized salt is really just a processed food), but perhaps even more importantly--it tastes better. There's not that little hint of iodine that you can sometimes taste in regular table salt.

Natural Gatorade
Cost: $.28
lemon: .25 (I can usually get my lemons for cheaper, especially from somewhere like an Asian market), salt: .03

2 C water
1 pinch (or 1-2 grinds) natural sea salt (I used pink Himalayan because I had a tiny sample from a market, but any natural sea salt will work)
juice from 1/2 lemon or lime

Mix it all together. Be sure to get the salt dissolved and mixed in (just stir it a few times) or you will taste a big swig of saltiness at the bottom. 

Drink it. That's right. It's not the rocket science of recipes, but try it. I'd love to hear what you think of it after a workout. If it works for you, leave a comment below. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

High Energy Snacks for Your Pregnant/Nursing/Ironman Friends

Now there's a title that will get all of zero searches...

But seriously, recently a friend of mine just had a baby. We took her these Magic Sevens because they are her favorite. I'm not sure if it was a good thing to do to a new mom or an evil thing to do to a new mom. But it did get me thinking of all the virtuously hearty snacks I could have brought her, but didn't, because I'm one of those evil-good friends.

And then our other friend completed his first Ironman. I didn't bring him any food, but I did ask how his sunburn was. Which I think we can all agree is insufficient consolation for not bringing high energy snacks to his house. #badfriend

Since I am clearly a bad person, I thought I'd try to make it up to everyone by posting some really great snacks for people who need healthy foods in those healthy bods that are burning calories like crazy. (Note: Posting recipes does not make up for not bringing food to people. This only confirms my bad person status. I apologize.)

1. Little Balls of Nutty Energy. I think the title says enough. 

2. Granola Balls. A similar theme to the nutty balls (wait, that doesn't sound how I meant it to sound...), but less nutty, more oaty.

3. Cheapskate Larabars. I love these with my soul.

4. Oat Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies. Some of the best breakfast cookies on my blog.

5. Honey Lemon Tumeric Energy Bites. If you want to be trendy and natural and awesome.


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