Monthly Archives: December 2015

Date sweetened Blondies (vegan and gluten-free)

This is posting a day earlier than normal so that you have it in time to get ingredients for a New Years Eve celebration if you decide to bring this tasty treat to share with a group. This is one of our family’s new favorite non-sugar treats. These blondies are so yummy and wonderful and no one can tell they’ve been sweetened with dates (I never tell anyone until after they’ve eaten something and liked it). Also, if you’re gluten-free and/or vegan, which I am not, though I have a sister who is, these blondies will work for you.

2015-12-22 12.57.36

If you’ve never cooked with dates before, here are a couple pictures I took to help you feel a little more comfortable, but it’s really not scary. I buy my dates from Costco in the produce section, but you can also get them from health food stores. The dates contain a hard pit in the center that you’ll want to remove. Take a sharp knife and slice it down one side and remove the pit. Once you have your 3/4 c of dates, pitted, soak them in hot water for about 5-10 minutes. I usually do this by putting dates in a small sauce pan with about 2 c water(or enough water to cover the dates), bringing it to a boil and then removing from the heat and letting sit another 5 minutes.

2015-12-16 14.42.53

While the dates soak,  place aluminum foil in the bottom of a 11x 7 inch baking dish (or an 8×8 inch). Spray with cooking spray and set aside. Combine the flour, soda and salt in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Once the dates have soaked in hot water, add them to your blender or food processor along with your melted coconut oil, almond butter, maple syrup and vanilla. You’ll want to blend them up until they form a ‘paste’ consistency. You may have to stop and scrape down the sides of the blender with a rubber spatula and then blend again.

2015-12-16 15.17.39

Add the date paste to the flour mix and combine. Add in your carob chips (or white or chocolate chips) and stir to combine.

2015-12-16 15.22.30

Use your rubber spatula to pat into your prepared baking dish (you may have to use your hands as well).

2015-12-16 15.28.17

2015-12-19 13.36.16

Bake for 10 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool for 20 minutes in pan. Cut into squares and serve.

2015-12-16 16.15.05

2015-12-16 16.17.25

2015-12-22 12.56.48

2015-12-22 12.57.36


Date sweetened Blondies(vegan and gluten-free)
*makes 1, 11×7 or 8×8 inch baking dish

¾ cup Medjool dates(about ten), pitted

2 1/4 c whole wheat flour (or gluten free by using 1 ½ cup oat flour & 3/4 c almond flour)

½ tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

3 TBSP almond butter

3 TBSP maple syrup

3 TBSP coconut oil, melted

1 tsp vanilla extract

½ cup carob chips (or white, or chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pitted dates in a saucepan and cover with water (about 2 c water). Turn on high heat and bring to a boil; immediately remove from heat and let the dates soak in the hot water for another 5 minutes. Place aluminum foil in bottom of a 11x 7 inch baking dish (or an 8×8 inch). Spray with cooking spray. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a  large bowl and stir until combined. Drain the dates and place in high powered blender or food processor and add in almond butter, maple syrup, melted coconut oil, and vanilla. Blend until fully combined(you might need to scrape down sides with a rubber spatula and go again). Stir wet ingredients into dry until barely combined (still a bit dusty looking; I alot of times will stir with a spoon and then get my hands in there and finish mixing because it’s not liquidy).  Add in chips and stir to combine. Put batter in pan, should be thick. Spread out with a spatula  and press down with hands until it fills the pan. Bake for 10 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool for 20 minutes in pan. Cut into squares and serve.


Leave a comment

Filed under Desserts, vegan


My dad was born and raised in Mexico, and my mom is from Washington state. They raised us in Washington but we had several Mexican traditions that we continued to do over the years. I remember quite a few Christmases when we’d sit down around the table (mostly the women in our family and some extended family) and pat masa into corn husks, making tamales. I think Christmas is the perfect day to make tamales because you have the family home and so there are lots of hands to help make each individual tamale. Scott and I made tamales last year on Christmas and we loved them so much that we’ve decided to continue that tradition with our family.

2014-12-25 18.09.53I am a vegetarian so we make some for me that are filled with mozarella cheese and some diced jalapeno, and some that are filled with shredded Mexican chicken.

2014-12-25 16.01.12

I found these corn husks in the produce area of our local grocery store, but you could also find them down the Mexican food aisle. Be sure you soak the corn husks in water, like I’m doing below in this picture. I just soak them for several minutes to soften them. I used this masa harina to make the masa, along with lard and water. The masa turns out like a cookie dough consistency, maybe just a tiny bit thinner.

2014-12-25 16.01.37

You pat the masa into a corn husk like so, leaving some space at the bottom. Sometimes I’ll stick two small corn husks together to make a large one. Here’s the veggie tamale just before we folded it in thirds and rolled it.

2014-12-25 16.09.10

And the chicken tamale

2014-12-25 16.11.20

Fold in thirds, like so:

2014-12-25 16.11.27

I steam our tamales in a large stock pot with a steamer attachment. We fit about 18 in here. I remember my aunt making some sort of a tinfoil contraption in the bottom of her stock pot that she used as a center piece and would lean tamales against it, and she could make a lot more that way.

2014-12-25 16.36.38

Tamales cook for awhile; around an hour and 2o minutes so plan ahead.

2014-12-25 16.36.46

But they are so worth the time. We sure love tamales!

2014-12-25 17.49.59

We like to eat our tamales with a side of rice and black beans. Merry Christmas!

2014-12-25 18.17.10


~makes about 18 tamales

1 1/2 c lard
4 c Masa
2 tsp sea salt
2 1/2-3 c  broth
1 Tbsp chili powder

-Chicken breast  in a red or green mexican sauce (I like this chicken recipe)
-Pork in a red or green sauce
-Thin stick of Mozarella cheese(or grated mozarella works too) with chopped  jalapeno (~1/2 tsp)

In a large mixing bowl, soak about 20 large corn husks for several minutes to soften them(if you don’t have enough large corn husks, you can put a couple smaller ones together). Bring a large stock pot with a steamer attached, to a boil; fill water up about half way because you’ll be steaming for about an hour an a half and you don’t want all your water to evaporate. Whip the lard until fluffy. Blend in everything else, adding enough water that the masa is not stiff and is easy to smear over husks, but not watery.  Smear a thin layer of masa, about 1/4 inch thick, over each husk, patting it in, and leaving a couple of inches at the bottom of the husk, without masa. Add 1-2 Tbsp of filling to the center. Fold in thirds over the filling, loosely sealing the ends of the masa by pressing together. Place in a large steamer, stacked, and steam until masa dough is firm, about 1 hour and a half. To check if done, open one of the larger ones and see if the masa has cooked through the middle; sometimes you’ll have to take out the smaller ones first and then cook the bigger ones another ten minutes or so.

Leave a comment

Filed under christmas, Dinner, vegetarian


2015-12-04 18.06.12

We’ve gotten about 2 feet of snow here over the past 24 hours and it has been chilly for quite a few weeks now, which means we’ve been eating lots of soups and chili. Last week when I made my usual cornbread recipe, I went to this blog recipe index to look it up and realized I had yet to post it on here! So today, I am going to share our cornbread recipe which is nutritious and delicious. All the ingredients are things you most likely have on hand, except maybe cornmeal…I always have cornmeal on hand because we make homemade pizza every week, but I’m not sure that others do :).

Here’s my only little trick I want to share for this recipe, and the rest is pretty easy and straightforward so just follow what I’ve typed up below: You can either use buttermilk, or you can make buttermilk using whole milk and lemon juice. To do that you measure 1 Tbsp of lemon juice and put it in a measuring dish and then fill it with milk until you reach 1 cup. Let it sit for 5 minutes to allow it to curdle, and you’ve got buttermilk.
2015-12-04 18.02.37

2015-12-04 18.01.00


*Serves 9

1 c whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 c cornmeal
1 egg
1 c buttermilk or unsweetened almond milk (can make own using 1 Tbsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar and then add milk to it until you reach 1 c; let stand 5 minutes to curdle)
1/4 c butter, softened (or melted coconut oil or applesauce)
1-2 Tbsp honey

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Stir together flour, salt and powder. Add cornmeal. Add egg, milk, butter and honey. Beat until smooth, about 1 minute. Bake in greased 8 inch square pan for 20-25 minutes. Serve warm with butter (or butter and honey!).

Leave a comment

Filed under Breads, sides, Snacks/Sides/Appetizers

Bean and Lentil Chili

We were able to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with my husband’s family in North Carolina which was wonderful. Any family time is wonderful! While there, his sister had us over for dinner one night and made a Bean and Lentil Chili that we loved. I got the recipe from her, made a couple of little changes and we had cornbread and chili for dinner this week which was perfect with our freezing temperatures here in Utah.

2015-12-04 18.14.07

It took me a little over half hour to make this, and while it cooked (cooks for 30 minutes), I threw together a cornbread recipe and got that cooking at the same time so that everything was ready together :). I will share that cornbread recipe next week so be sure to check back next Wednesday for that.

In the recipe, once I’ve cooked all the diced veggies and the lentils etc, I used my immersion blender to blend up and thicken the chili for about 15 seconds. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can either just leave it as is, or if you like it thicker like I do, put about half of the chili in your blender (be careful cuz it’s hot!), pulse it a few times and then dump it back in with the rest of your chili. I dice my veggies pretty fine because my kiddos don’t love big chunks of anything.

Serve with toppings of your choice like grated cheese, sour cream (and if you made it too hot for your liking, this will bring down the temp), sliced avocado, tortilla chips, etc.

2015-12-04 15.46.47


Bean and Lentil Chili
*serves about 8

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 white or yellow onion
2 stalks celery, diced
2 lg(or I use about 12 baby carrots) carrots, diced
2 tsp minced garlic (4 cloves)
4 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp paprika
1 tsp chipotle chili powder (or less if you like foods ‘mild’)
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cumin
6 c vegetable or chicken broth
2 c lentils, sorted and rinsed (any color)
1 small can tomato sauce

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can chick peas (garbanzo), drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp honey
optional: oven dried organic roma tomatoes, chopped
optional: 1 tsp tapatio hot sauce (this is if you like your chili with more of a kick; which my hubby and I do. My nose was running b/c of the heat :))

In a large pot, over medium high heat add the olive oil, onion, celery, and carrots. Saute until the onions have softened then add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add the spices and cook another 2 minutes until fragrant.

Add the broth, lentils and tomato sauce and raise the heat to high, bringing the broth to a boil. Once it boils, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 30 minutes until lentils are tender. If you have an immersion blender, put it in and blend for about 15-30 seconds, which will thicken the chili. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can put about 1/2 of the chili into a normal blender, puree, and then dump back into the pot; but be careful, because it’s hot.

Add the beans and honey and optional tomatoes and hot sauce. Serve warm in bowls with toppings of your choice. Some favorites are grated cheese, sour cream, avocado slices, tortilla chips. I also love to have this with a side of cornbread.

Leave a comment

Filed under Dinner, Soups, vegan, vegetarian


2015-10-30 17.34.48

This has been my “dessert of choice” for years, but I still only make it when there’s going to be a crowd because it makes a lot and they’re not exactly a health food, though I do use more whole foods ingredients in this recipe. These carmelitos are ooey-gooey and sweet but mixed with oats and finely chopped nuts,  and it’s just absolute perfection. I’ve been waiting to share this recipe because I wanted to come up with a caramel recipe from scratch, rather than using a jar from the grocery store (which you still can do, and I still do if I’m in a time crunch; but I think from scratch is always better tasting and better for you). And I have a good recipe for caramel now that I made those honey caramel apples! You follow that recipe for caramel exactly, until you get to the boiling part. Instead of boiling it until it reaches 260 degrees (hard ball stage) you boil it until it’s 235 degrees or in the soft ball stage. Then set it aside and get started on your carmelitos.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need. Because I don’t eat chocolate, I’ll usually use half dark chocolate chips and half white or butterscotch chips. And you can either buy a can of already chopped nuts, or you can chop them yourself. I chop them myself because I’ll always have lots of nuts on hand. And you can really use any kind of nut. Pictured below I have walnuts, almonds and pecans. You can do one type of nut or a variety.  2015-10-30 14.58.36

In a large mixing bowl combine flour, oats, brown sugar, soda and salt. Stir to combine and then add melted butter. Press 2/3 of this dough into the bottom of a 9×13 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

2015-10-30 15.26.09

Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips and chopped nuts.

2015-10-30 15.29.17

Stir together your caramel and the 5 Tbsp flour and pour over the top of the pan (avoid edges as it will cook to it).

2015-10-30 15.29.59

Crumble the remaining dough over the top and bake for another 20 minutes.

2015-10-30 15.34.28

Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan before serving. It still looks a bit gooey when it comes out, though the edges will look more done. That’s perfect! Once the chocolate and caramel cool for a bit, it won’t be quite as gooey.

2015-10-30 16.02.45

These are rich, so I usually cut this pan up in about 24  or so squares. Enjoy! (serve warm or at room temperature. I  keep them out on my counter, covered; they don’t last more than a couple of days in our house)


2015-10-30 17.34.29


*makes one 9×13 pan; serves

2 c whole white wheat flour
2 c rolled oats (quick or regular)
1 1/2 c brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 c melted butter

2 c chopped nuts
12 oz chocolate chips (or butterscotch, white chocolate etc)
1 jar Mrs Richardson’s caramel  (or can make your own by bringing to a boil 1 c heavy cream and 1 c honey. Boil for about 10 minutes until it reaches 235 degrees then remove from heat, and stir in 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1/4 tsp sea salt.  You can make this ahead of time. More detailed recipe here.)
5 Tbsp flour
1/3 of dough recipe from above

If you’re making caramel from scratch, do that first and set aside for use later in the recipe. In a large mixing bowl combine flour, oats, brown sugar, soda and salt. Stir to combine and then add melted butter. Press 2/3 of this dough into the bottom of a 9×13 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips and chopped nuts. Stir together your caramel and the 5 Tbsp flour and pour over the top of the pan (avoid edges as it will cook to it). Crumble the remaining dough over the top and bake for another 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan before serving.

Leave a comment

Filed under christmas, Desserts