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Sticky Chocolate Gingerbread

T'was Christmas Day and all through the house wafted the smell of  Chocolate...

Oh Yeah!

I love chocolate!  Chocolate dipped strawberries... raspberries in chocolate sauce... chocolate chip cookies...
And this time of year is an excellent excuse to indulge.

A chocolate gingerbread just seemed so... perfect.  This is the same recipe as for the Black Sticky Gingerbread, minus the pepper, with the addition of cocoa.  And it is delightful!  Yum!


Black Sticky Gingerbread

Oh the weather outside is... well, rather tame actually.  It isn't looking like a white Christmas here in New England.  And I'm a bit out of sync with the season.  I've done the bulk of my Christmas shopping this week.  Christmas cards too.  And the Christmas baking.

I've been collecting interesting gingerbread recipes and ideas.  And today I finally got around to making two of them.  Yay!

Sticky Chocolate and Black Sticky Gingerbread


Strawberry Vanilla Jam

Strawberry Vanilla Jam

 My favorite fruit in the whole world, contrary to popular belief, is not mango.  It is strawberries.  I have fond memories of eating wild strawberries at my grandparents house.  Eating until I was absolutely stuffed!

Absolutely my favorite. Now that being said my favorite fruit combination would have to be strawberry, mango and pineapple.  Mmmm that may have to be jam for another day.  You'll come back, won't you, for that one?

But we're not playing with mangoes today.  Focus... or you'll miss this one.  And you don't want to miss this one.  Strawberry and vanilla blend to make a taste sensation that will make your taste buds sing.  And your friends rave. 

Ginger Spice Cookies (Rice Free)

Let the Christmas baking begin!  Shortly after moving into our new house, one of our new neighbors invited me to the annual Christmas cookie swap and then comes the bake sale at school.  Fantastic, except, I haven't made Christmas cookies, per se, for years.  So I began going through old recipes and thinking.  As I was growing up, my family always made lots and lots of cookies at Christmas: ginger snaps, molasses crinkles, lemon bars, cherry pinwheels, raspberry turnovers, sugar cookies, etc.  What to make... and how much tweaking do I want to do?

Ginger Spice cookies


Apple Butter

This is one of those posts that was put on the back burner due to life.  Fall in New England is apple time.  And we do love apples in this house.  The kids eat apples sliced with their favorite butter (peanut or sunflower depending on the kid), we make pies, crumbles and more.   But the apple butter is a family favorite and I thought I'd share it with you.  Not only is it great on biscuits, or, simply, on a spoon... but stir 1/2 cup into spice cake or chocolate brownies and up the "Yum"!
Apples ready to be made into apples butter


Vanilla Pear Jam

My friend, Tree, brought this to my attention several months ago.  She had made it and was enjoying it with a biscuit and Irish cheddar.  *sigh*  How I wish she lived closer!!

She found the recipe on the Food in Jars website.  It is a great website to check out especially if you are into canning.  I found recipes for pear lavender jam, pear with brown sugar and cardamom, and strawberry vanilla as well as the vanilla pear made here.

Vanilla Pear Jam- flecks of vanilla bean.  Yum!

A move and finally some new recipes coming

My apologies to all of you.  I got caught up in life and have neglected to post.  My husband was transferred over the summer and my time was split between work, kids and trying to get things organized to move to western Massachusetts.  We moved on weekends starting in October and are now settling in and getting back into our routines.

That doesn't mean we haven't been eating though!  And I have been taking pictures of the new things we've eaten so there are several new recipes coming.  Some of them will be a bit out of season and I apologize for that.

On the home front look at the kitchen we found!

Our new kitchen!  Yay!

It is fantastic!  Very inspiring and great to cook in.  There is so much more to come.  I have recently been exploring roasting. And should have some great recipes for you shortly.

Thank you for your patience!  And I'll be posting recipes soon.  Later today in fact!



Fall Spice Brown Rice Pudding

I'm trying to eat more brown rice these days.  It's good for you, so I've read.  I've been reading a book on macrobiotics.  There is a lot to macrobiotics.  It is more than just what you eat.  It is how you interact with the world around you.  The energies that flows through everything and how to balance that for better health.  Nutritionally macrobiotics seems to be based on brown rice, beans, soy and vegetables.  Soy doesn't work in our family.  But beans, brown rice and vegetables do.  So I'm moved to do something with brown rice.

Fall Spice Brown Rice Pudding with dried cranberries

I'm also trying to eat breakfast more often.  I'm not really a breakfast person... well unless there is a chocolate cake sitting on the counter.


Crispy Treats

Life in the summer is made to be simple.  And simple recipes are appreciated anytime of the year, right?  Especially ones that kids and adults enjoy. 

When you go gluten free deserts can be tough.  And when you are also dairy, egg and soy free it gets tougher.  We are also pineapple, citrus and cranberry free.  (Although I do keep them around once in awhile so those of us who can eat them have that choice, I don't usually make anything with them.)  Pies, cakes and crumbles all have to be tweaked, sometimes completely revamped.  It gets complicated.

But there is one simple desert.  A favorite treat using a cereal and a campfire staple.  The original recipe had dairy in it but here is a just-as-simple tweaked version.  A favorite treat tweaked to fit our dairy free life- simply.

Who doesn't love Crispy Rice Treats?


Mango, black bean quinoa salad

Sometimes you just need something fresh, different, a taste sensation that surprises.  Something different from your "normal" but not too far from your comfort zone.  Something, in fact, that could become comfort food... maybe?

Mango, black bean and quinoa salad with fresh mint.

You're tired of eating rice and decide to cook quinoa.  Fantastic!  Now what??  Well... You just happen to have a mango that needs to be eaten.  And you have mint taking over the garden 'cause everything else died from the mint strangling it.  Okay maybe you don't but I did.  (Imagine that, I had a mango.)


Beef Burgers

This is from my very first post but I decided to separate it out so that the burger recipe could be found a little more easily.

Spiced burger in an arepa with chips and Bunny BBQ

Spiced Beef Burgers
2 lbs ground beef
½  sweet white onion thinly sliced
½ tsp. Cumin
1 tsp Oregano
Black pepper
In in a bowl place the onions the meat and mix with ½ tsp cumin, 1 tsp oregano, a dash of salt and a heavy dash of pepper.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Cook in an electric skillet set at 350F or on a skillet on the stove set on medium high, or on the grill.  Cook the meat until the hamburgers are cooked through.

Spiced Burger in a taco shell

Salt and Vinegar Potato Salad

Okay, yum.  I had seen this recipe around the web in several sites and finally decided to try it.  A potato salad that gets away from the heavy egg-y mayo.  I'm picky about potato salad. I don't like tons of dill.  I don't like pickle relish in it.  I don't like heavy mayo but I've never liked other potato salad dressed with anything else either.  (Eww to German potato salad.  For a girl who likes hash browns with her eggs and bacon, I don't like bacon in my potato salad.)    I haven't had a good potato salad since we went egg free.

Salt and vinegar potato salad



Perfect place to sip a pina colada and enjoy the ocean breeze.

Our family vacation this year was an escape to a tropical paradise.  And it was sorely needed.  This summer is crazy... and stressful.  We are trying to sell our house (so not happening in this market apparently), repair our rental house and put it on the market (thank goodness for fantastic friends who pitched in and did more in a weekend than we could have gotten done in a month of weekends!) all the while Mark works full time and travels for his job.  And I work part time.  Plus the kids are out of school...

View from our room

We had planned on going on a two week cruise of the Eastern Mediterranean.  We were going to visit Italy, Greece, Israel, Turkey and Egypt. Visit the area of the world where six major religions were born, see the ancient centers of western art, architecture, philosophy and science.  Glassblowing, metal work, volcanoes and pyramids-- it was going to be a vacation to remember.  And it was going to be busy, busy, busy!

Life intervened... as it often does.  And what looked at first like a disappointment ended up being... well, perfect.  We crashed on a lovely white sand beach, swam in warm turquoise waters, and enjoyed the tropical weather of Jamaica in July.  Paradise!  It was so very relaxing and fun.  And just what we needed.


Recipes inspired by Jamaica are in the pipeline.  So sip a pina colada and come back for mango banana bread, jerk chicken and more.


Ice Cream Trifecta!

Mmmm, it was a good time in ice cream world around here over the weekend.  Oh, baby!  Vanilla, cinnamon and a wicked dark chocolate.  Pull up a chair.  Let me tell ya about them...

Wicked dark chocolate, cinnamon and vanilla

Vanilla Ice Cream

Vanilla ice cream was a tough one for me.  I tried a couple of recipes that weren't good.  I think part of it is that those of us who could eat ice cream at one point have a well ingrained memory of what vanilla ice cream should be.  Plus vanilla is a complex but delicate flavor.  Unlike chocolate, where the strong flavor of the chocolate can hide a multitude of "sins", vanilla can be easily overpowered.

I tried hemp milk for the first attempt.  It had a really bitter aftertaste.  Yick.  The second batch had sucanat in it.  Blech.  The taste of the sucunat overpowered the vanilla.  While we like sucunat in quinoa chocolate chip cookies and banana bread, it was too much for the vanilla. The third attempt was better but still had a strong taste from the demara sugar that my younger son didn't like.  (He poured chocolate sauce over the ice cream and ate it anyway.  It didn't slow him down too much.)   But, really, is a stand alone vanilla too much to ask?  

So fourth time's a charm...

Cinnamon Ice Cream

In starting down the road of vegan non-dairy frozen deserts (or "ice cream" for short around here), I asked my kids what type they wanted me to try to make.  Never shy, they hollered:  "Vanilla!", "Chocolate!", "Cinnamon Vanilla!"  Wait... What?  Cinnamon vanilla?  Where did that one come from?  (Hmmm...probably from the cinnamon rolls there were eating at the moment.)

So the second flavor of our trifecta is cinnamon vanilla

Cinnamon (and vanilla in the shadow)



"Wicked Dark" Chocolate

I'm not a native New Englander.  But the New England use of the word "wicked" to mean "very" is one I'll have until I die probably.  It grew on me and stuck

Dark chocolate ice cream... with a sprig of mint.

The third of today's trifecta is a dark chocolate.  A wicked good dark chocolate.  This one almost didn't make it into the freezer.  I tasted the mix before freezing it to see if anything needed to be balanced.  It is like a liquid dark chocolate cake batter.


Banana Bread

We go through periods of intense banana consumption followed by a period of reduced banana consumption and then no banana consumption.  Sometimes there is no warning and all of a sudden I have bananas that are dark and not very appetizing looking.  What to do with the bananas that have ripened so far no one wants to eat them? 

Banana bread hot out of the oven!

Make banana bread! Yummy, yum, yum!


Champagne Mango Ice Cream

Did you know that there are over 50 varieties of mangoes?  And that mango is the most consumed fruit in the world?  (The last comes from Fruit Ninja's fruit facts... so take it with a grain of salt, or a slice of mango.)

Champagne mango ice cream.


Avocado Salad

Today I am feeling lazy.  I took the kids shopping last night after work and we went out to eat.  So today I am tired, run down, lazy if you will.  Wheat makes me sleepy.  I'm sensitive to gluten.  Not to the extent of the rest of my family... but a sandwich makes me, urm, relaxed (sluggish) and a big bowl of pasta puts me down for a nap.  And sometimes the next day I'm still lethargic.  Today is warm and muggy.  Not helping the lethargy...

Avocado salad

Fresh Mint Ice cream for the summertime!

I've been quiet... for almost 2 months.  Did you miss me?  We've been busy here.  Mark's job is taking us to Massachusetts.  Which means that we have to sell the house.  That means that we had to clean the house top to bottom and sort through... stuff.  Lots and lots of stuff.  We've only been here for 5 years.  How did we get so much stuff?

But now it is just wait and see... Who wants to buy a house?

Fresh Mint and Chocolate Chip ice cream

In the meantime I have a small problem.  One son who loves ice cream... and can't eat milk or eggs.  So we need vegan ice cream.  And he can't eat soy which is how most vegan ice cream is made.  (Technically it isn't ice cream unless it has cream in it.  But non-dairy frozen desert sounds rather unappetizing doesn't it?)  And it is summertime.  Summertime demands ice cream...


Chocolate Avocado Cake

So why the cake?  April 1st is a dear friend's birthday.  Very cool right?  It was my older son's due date, although he couldn't wait that long.  And for other reasons April first is a day that we celebrate fondly.  Thus a cake was needed.

Chocolate avocado cake
This idea of avocados and chocolate comes from Joy the Baker's blog. She uses avocados in wonderful ways and I'm sure more of her recipes will be spring boards for some gluten free goodies here too.  I know you're thinking "Weird" right?  Actually "Yum!" is the word for this rich moist chocolate cake.


Cinnamon Crisps

Perfect for tea!  Crispy, crunchy, sinnamon, er, cinnamon-y little delights.  Mmmm.

Cinnamon crisp cookies and tea.


Split Pea Soup

Sunday was beautiful spring day here in the northeast!  But still a bit of a chill so the day's menu included split pea soup.

Split pea soup and corn bread


Ranch Dressing

My family's favorite dressing was, for a long time, Buttermilk Ranch.  Since the allergy test results, dressings have become a challenge.  When you take away dairy, sesame, soy, garlic, eggs, vinegar (distilled is the only vinegar we can use), and lemon juice, there isn't much choice.  And when it is required to taste good... that narrows the choices even further.

Ranch Dressing- Vegan and Soy free but still delicious!

The kids liked ranch dressing better than any other type of dressing.  They ate it with everything:


Creme Brulee Anyone?

One of my favorites: milky, eggy, creamy with a crust of sugar on top.  *Sigh* and yum.

Creme Brulee- dairy, egg and soy free

But dairy-free and egg-free creme brulee?  Without tofu? Is it possible? 

Chocolate chip cookies- Ah!

Mmmm the slightly crisp outside, chewy inside and soft gooey chips.  So yummy hot out of the oven that they don't last long in my house

 Quinoa chocolate chip cookies hot from the oven!

Living life gluten free and dairy free makes for interesting baking.  Being egg free as well brings another whole level of interesting to baking. 



Who doesn't love chips/crisps?  Light little crisps of potato or corn cooked to golden perfection. Yum.

Hot from the fryer

We do, but when there is an issue with soy and peanuts in the family,


Arepas first, then story?  Or story and then arepas?  Mmmm.  Story first I think.  Then arepas (and spiced beef burgers) and you can chow.

Mark and I started this blog as a way to answer the question we are often asked: "What do you eat?"  We usually answer "Lots. Everything." and then falter with "Well we tweak things a bit.  We make almost everything..." and after a bit more stumbling around, we just shut our mouths and smile.  It is a bit awkward at best, confusing to every one more often.  But it is becoming a question we answer more and more often.

Our friends are noticing the changes in all of us and saying..."Hey, what do you eat?  What did



So, I used to be a good cook. I used to know what I was doing in a kitchen. Homemade breads, pastas, cheese dishes, and veggies galore (with sauces)! Then I married someone with a dairy allergy. Rough stuff since I had seven kinds of cheese in my fridge.
I went looking for good dairy free recipes, but in the wrong places. I went with recipes that gave substitutions but didn’t really take into account the difference between milk and water or juice. I gave up the stroganoff, alfredo, lasagna, ice cream, and other dairy heavy recipes I was used to making. We experimented with soy ice creams (Yick!), soy milk for puddings (ha! didn’t work!) and eventually just gave them up. Not the end of the world, but it was difficult to avoid dairy completely. What we didn’t know was that lurking in our future were some more food allergies. Gluten (egads!), still the dairy, and yeast (huh? people are allergic to yeast? Are you kidding me?). And not one type of yeast but