A Big Tight Hug & An Amazing Avocado Dressing


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On Monday we found out that my schizophrenic aunt, Nan, had been evicted from her apartment a week prior and had been taken to a shelter by the apartment management. The management had my mother’s phone number in her file and never bothered to tell anyone what they had done. Her things were packed and stored and will be kept for 45 days. Then, at 45 days the manager told me they usually “dispose of it”. Her apartment was filled with her mother’s, my grandmother’s, family heirlooms and antiques and everything Nan owns in this world. We were also told we would either need Nan’s notarized signature or a court order to remove any of her things from their storage.

After trying to track her down, Tuesday we found out that she was not at the shelter that the apartment manager supposedly said they took her to, nor at any other shelter in town, and we were advised to file a missing person’s report.

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The authorities told us that if “they happened to see her” they would pick her up, but they wouldn’t seek her out. Tuesday morning came and took us all on a fast track in the direction of the worst possible scenarios… that try as you might, you absolutely cannot get out of your head. I grabbed mom and we ran errands in hopes of trying to control the worry welling inside of us. Samantha, her oldest daughter, had to deal with these feelings while in training for a new job in Seattle and handling phone calls from the sheriff and mom and I. And the youngest daughter, Amanda, I’m assuming was trying to figure out the impossible task of concentrating in class in her first semester in college.

Yesterday, after a fitful night of sleep I decided to post a bit of the story and prayer requests here on the blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook. I had already been praying of course, but when people band together, miraculous things can happen. “For where two or three are gathered in My name, there I am among them”. ~ Matthew 18:20 This is where my BIG TIGHT HUG to all of you comes in. I was so blessed and amazed by all of the support, kind words, and prayers. You will never know what it means to our family that you took time from your own lives, busy schedules, and your own issues, to pray for our family and to pray for Nan’s safety. Your comments here and on Facebook kept the panic from getting completely out of control. Within 2 hours of posting those prayer requests, a story that could have ended in any number of terrible and life changing ways for our family, has a happy ending.

There were some conflicting stories with the complex management yesterday, but luckily my mother took matters into her own hands and visited the police station. An extremely kind detective sat with her for over an hour and did some serious detective work to try to figure out what had happened. Long story short, she had changed hands between a few police officers, shelters, and a hospital. She was dropped at a shelter by police, but then was not cooperating. New officers took her to the psyche unit at the hospital where she was evaluated. Then the hospital moved her to another psychiatric facility which I’m guessing is run by the state.

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She is safe and she is in a psychiatric facility where they are evaluating her. The facility was given her daughter’s number so that if Nan chose to, she could call us. With the current mental health laws, family members are at a complete loss when it comes to helping another family member with mental illness unless that person requests help. They wouldn’t even tell us the exact facility where she was being held.

The great news? Nan called Samantha yesterday afternoon. They are stabilizing her meds, she was thinking clearly, and she asked for help. Samantha also mentioned that Nan told her she loved her numerous times. Something Samantha hasn’t heard in a very, very, long time. Nan agreed to sign the paperwork so we could get her things that are being held by the apartment complex. Sam will be coming this weekend and Nan is looking forward to the visit. The facility will not let her leave until she has housing. All huge blessings and prayers answered.

There’s always a reason for everything. I have a difficult time remembering that when something so seemingly impossible to handle comes along. There is a huge dark cloud, but it definitely has a silver lining. The dark cloud of course, is that this isn’t the first time and most likely won’t be the last time we will have challenges with my aunt because this type of mental illness is relentless and evil.  The silver lining, is that had she not run out of money, had she not stopped paying her rent, had they not evicted her, and had the police not been involved, she wouldn’t be getting the help that she is getting right now.

The state does not intervene in any way unless someone is broke  and has proven to be dangerous to themselves or others. Now that she is homeless, broke and mentally ill (some of all of our worst nightmares rolled into one)…where you would think that prevention instead of waiting until things are in their worst possible state would be the way to go… this backward process of helping the mentally ill, will now after about 15 years of hell, be helpful to her. She will be assigned a case worker and will hopefully begin to get the counseling, medication monitoring, and housing that she so desperately needs. And this time thankfully, all of the pieces came together quickly and the outcome is so much better than what we were bracing ourselves for.

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Every. Thing. Happens. For. A. Reason. Even when it seems awful, even when it is awful. Even when it doesn’t happen the exact way you want it to or the timeline or the details don’t make sense. Things must work out a certain way to fulfill God’s plan for our lives. That is a simple enough statement to understand, yet an enormously complex reality when you’re in the thick of something terrible.

Thank you again for your generosity of heart and prayers. From those of you we know well, and those of you we have never met. You will never know the depth and impact that kind of love has on us.

Blessings and Big Tight Hugs, from my family to you.

~ April

Cilantro Lime Avocado Dressing

This recipe is adapted from my mom’s recipe.

2 Ripe Avocados

1 1/2 Cups of Cilantro

Juice of 1 Lime

3 Cloves of Garlic

1/2 Cup of EVOO

2-3 Tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar, depending on how tart you like your dressing

1 1/2 teaspoons of Coconut Sugar

1/2 teaspoon of Sea Salt

1/2 Cup (maybe a bit more to thin it out) of Filtered Water

Place all the ingredients in a Nutribullet, blender, or food processor and blend until smooth. You may have to shake and scrape the sides once or twice to get it all incorporated. Serve on anything you like, it’s absolutely delicious!

42 Gluten Free & Dairy Free Super Bowl Celebration Ideas


 We’re so proud of our Seahawk’s and excited that they’ve made it to the Super Bowl for the second year in a row!

NFC Championship Football

(photo courtesy of columbian.com)


(photo courtesy of imgkid.com)

The Seahawk fans, otherwise known as the 12th Man or the 12’s, take a lot of pride in supporting their team. All around the state you can see 12 banners hung everywhere. In home windows, on porches, businesses, on the Space Needle, and even in my home town on the downtown clock tower.


(photo courtesy of blog.seattlepi.com)


(photo courtesy of swxrightnow.com)

It’s fun to see such excitement all around the city. It’s just buzzing with anticipation. Everyone is talking about it, wearing their Seahawk’s jersey’s, shirts, and jackets, and the stores this morning were full of people planning their Super Bowl menus. I don’t know about you, but any day that revolves around food and fun, is my kind of day.

As I was thinking about what I was going to make for Super Bowl Sunday, I thought I’d share a list of ideas with you. Sometimes when you’re new to the allergen free world or just limited in what you can eat, planning a celebration menu can leave you feeling deflated.

No worries, I’ve got you covered!

Pesto Bruschetta


Focaccia Bread with Balsamic & Olive Oil


Zucchini Corn Fritters


Cheesy Muffins with Roasted Red Peppers


Oven Fried Zucchini 


Loaded Potato Skins


Grilled Stuffed Jalapenos


Garlic & Thyme Roasted Potato Wedges


Sweet Potato Fries with Spicy Dipping Sauce


Italian Stuffed Mushrooms


Spicy Bean Dip


Baked Oysters


Kick Ass Flatbread Crackers & Dip


Twice Baked Potatoes


Black Bean Dip


Smoky Honey Habanero Chicken


Steak Kabobs


Swordfish Skewers with Spicy Kumquat & Mango Salsa


Simple Tostadas


Chicken Tamales with Pablano Peppers & Sun Dried Tomatoes



Asian Lettuce Wraps


Spicy Asian Chicken Wings


Shrimp & Sausage Skewers


Asian Shrimp Skewers


Italian Sausage & Pesto Roll Ups


Mini Spinach Tarts


Three Bean Salad 


Mediterranean Salad


Kale Salad


Corn Salad with Queso Fresco


Chili & Cinnamon Rolls


No Bake Peanut Butter Cookies


Mud Pie Ice Cream Pops


Clementine Carrot Cookies


Powerhouse Candy Bars

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Gooey Caramel Corn


Chocolate Mousse With Coconut Cream


Coconut Cake with Raspberry Filling


Mud Pie


Chocolate Chunk Cookies


Toasted Coconut & Pecan Haystacks


Peanut Butter Balls


A Little Story of Love & Some Kick Ass Flatbread Crackers and Dip



Both of the dogs are depressed. Tails are tucked under, ears are floppy, and there has been a lot of napping and sighing going on.

Tony took a flight out of town last night and is now in full work and travel mode.

The dogs have done nothing but mope around and look at me like, “Where is he and when is he coming back?”


I think I may be a little depressed about the whole thing too. It’s a bittersweet kind of thing, I suppose.

I believe he left his job in New Hampshire sometime in March and then only physically worked for the company here for about a month before being laid off.



That means that we have been able to spend about 9 months of true, quality time together. It’s only been one day and I miss our time together already.



That’s the most consecutive time we’ve spent together without him having to travel out of town in the entire 23 years we’ve been married.


I’m thankful we didn’t allow the stress of it to gobble us up. We didn’t end up resenting one another’s presence and getting on each other’s nerves…too much. You hear that a lot about couples who lose their jobs or retire.


We’ve even had people say it to us when we’ve told them about our life over the last year, “Oh good, and you’re still together”, they say.  Tony’s answer to that is, “Well, I’m an exceptional husband.”

Which always gets a good snicker of course.


This time we’ve had has made me look forward even more to retirement. It was something I actually thought about in the past. “Will we like spending all that time together when he retires?” “Will he drive me nuts?” “What will we do?”


I can tell you I wasn’t bored one time during the last 9 months. We found all kinds of enjoyable stuff to do together and there were only a few tense moments. Those moments were really only due to the fact that he makes noise and watches TV more than I do. Prior to him being off work for so long, I was used to a very quiet house. Evidently I have plenty of noise going on in my head without adding anything to it.


Overall I think we are better off after this time spent together. In fact, our relationship is stronger than ever. That’s saying something after being together for a total of 26 years…that a marriage can get even better.


Even when there’s mass quantities of stress and frustrations that are seemingly out of our control. In my mind, in a world full of divorce and all kinds of issues, the fact that a relationship can continue to grow and strengthen after 26 years just seems like a massive blessing.

We’ve definitely put the “T” in Teamwork over the past couple of years. We’ve had a lot of career stress, major extended family issues, and I’ve had and continue to have a battle with Lyme Disease. Even one of those circumstances happening would make the strongest of folks wobble at least a little.

We’ve faced them all at once.


What I cherish and wish I would remember at the beginning of every stressful season of life, because there will be more…is that when you’re coming out the other side of it and you can look back…not only did you live through it which is celebration enough, but in so many ways you’re better for it.

That’s like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. As if the rainbow after the storm wasn’t beautiful enough!

So although it’s easy to whine about how I wish I didn’t have a traveling husband and many other things, there’s been so much positive to come out of these 2 years of complete and absolute craziness that I never expected, it’s hard to complain too much because I just really feel so incredibly thankful.


Thankful for a working, loving, husband and friend. Thankful that I have Romeo and Abigail to mope around with me. Thankful that we’re back in town and 1.5  miles from my mom and our son instead of 2,700 miles away.  Thankful that we took some incredible leaps of faith. Thankful that we made some unbelievably tough decisions. Thankful that even when some issues aren’t resolved there’s still plenty of good pouring over into each day. Thankful for the joy I get from food blogging and hearing from all of you.  Thankful as I sit here in my cozy little library and office that’s just for me. Thankful that as I look out the window I’m being presented right this minute with yet another amazing and beautiful sunset that is filling the sky with bright reds and pinks. And mostly really, I’m just thankful that I have the ability to recognize a blessing and that I have so many, I can’t count them all.

“Blessed is he who is not offended that no man receives what he deserves…blessed is he who gets that joke, who sees that miracle.” ~ Buechner

Herbed Flatbread Crisps

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

1 Box of Chebe Foccacia Mix

1 1/2 Tablespoons of Fresh Chives, snipped

2 teaspoons of Fresh Rosemary, snipped

1 1/2 teaspoons of Fresh Thyme Leaves

1 1/2 teaspoons of Garlic Powder

1 Tablespoon of Chia Seeds

3/4 teaspoons of Sea Salt

6 Grinds of Fresh Pepper

1 Egg

3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

1/2 Cup of Unsweetened Hemp Milk

Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit a baking sheet. Mix all ingredients together with a fork in a medium bowl until combined. Knead with hand until smooth. Roll out thinly on the parchment to fit as much of the cut parchment as possible. Slide the parchment and dough onto a baking sheet. Bake (I use convection) for 25 minutes. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes before tearing or cutting into pieces.

Sundried Tomato & Spinach Bean Spread

1 15 oz. can of Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas)

1 Cup of Baby Spinach, packed

2 Large Garlic Cloves, peeled

2 Tablespoons of Bragg’s Organic Sprinkle 

5 Sun Dried Tomatoes in Oil

1/2 teaspoon of Sea Salt

8 Grinds of Pepper

Juice of 1 Fresh Lemon

3/4 Cup of Avocado Oil

Place all ingredients except avocado oil  in food processor. Pulse about 20 times until ingredients are chopped. Turn on High and slowly drizzle the avocado into the mixture. Continue mixing on High for 2 minutes. 

Sunday Snackin’



My husband’s work schedule is hectic, so like many people, we cherish the weekends.

We try our hardest to set aside time to hike with the dogs, do a little sight-seeing, and most importantly, relax and try to refuel for the week ahead. This weekend we were able to fit in several nice walks with the dogs, some leaf peeping, and a nice relaxing Sunday afternoon in front of the fire watching football.

During the pre-empty nester years, I was often focused on making a big Sunday meal and dessert. But these days, we’ve learned to kind of wing it and do whatever sounds good on the weekends. Sometimes I cook a big meal, sometimes we go out, sometimes we don’t eat dinner at all and are happy with linner in town around 2:30. And sometimes, it’s nice to just have a snacky afternoon in front of the fire with the sounds of football in the background.

What you’ll need for a snacky afternoon:

I didn’t measure anything, so I’ll give just give you the basics and then you can add your own flair.

Chicken Wings

Chicken Wings, Your Favorite BBQ Sauce, Rice Wine Vinegar, Sriracha, Garlic Powder, Salt & Pepper. Grill them slowly so they don’t burn.


Loaded Potato Skins

Baking Potatoes, Salt & Pepper, Old Bay Seasoning, Dairy Free Butter, Goat Cheese, Olive Oil Mayo, Dried Dill, Apple Cider Vinegar, Sugar, Diaya Cheese, Chives, Leftover Bacon.

Prick the potatoes with a fork and bake until done at 400 for about 1 hour. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Slice in half and scoop 3/4 of the potato out and save for another recipe. Baste the inside and outside with butter and garlic powder. Sprinkle inside and out with salt and pepper and Old Bay seasoning. Place under broiler insides up first and broil until lightly brown and slightly crisp, turn over and do the same to the underside. Fill with cheese and bacon and place under broiler to melt.

While cheese is melting add a bit of goat cheese, mayo, and apple cider vinegar to a small bowl. Whisk and mash with fork until combined. Add a little sugar and dried dill and mix. Dollop a bit on top of the potatoes when they’re done and top with the chives.


Your favorite Kielbasa or Sausage, BBQ Sauce, Tabasco, Maple Syrup.

Slice the meat into a small saucepan, add the BBQ sauce, a few (or many) dashes of Tabasco, a little Maple Syrup and simmer very slowly for 30 minutes.


And a nice veggie salad with a crisp vinaigrette to balance it all out.

I just grated carrots and chopped red bell pepper, spinach, romaine, and tomato. I made a light dressing with olive oil, fresh lime juice, a bit of Dijon mustard, sugar, and salt and pepper.


Lemon Lime Margarita




*Makes 2 Margaritas

4 ounces of 1800 Silver Tequila

Juice of 1/2 Lime

6 ounces of Limeade (I used Santa Cruz Organic Limeade)


San Pellegrino Limonata Sparkling Lemon


Kosher Salt


True Lime Crystallized Lime

Mix a few Tablespoons of kosher salt, sugar, and the crystallized lime together on a plate. Run the lime around the edges of your glasses and dip in the mixture. 

Add the tequila, lime juice, limeade, and about 1 cup of ice to your shaker. Shake vigorously. Fill each glass 3/4 full. Finish with the San Pellegrino Limonata.

Garnish with sliced lime and serve with pico de gallo, guacamole, and blue chips.

A few days ago I posted a gluten-free, dairy free, Cherry Braid and for some reason it didn’t go out to any of my email followers. Here’s a picture and a link in case you missed it!

( p.s.   …they were SO good! )

Cherry Braids


Terrine de Foies de Volaille



Or in other words…Chicken Liver Pate

Now don’t freak out.

Chicken liver is delicious!


I have a deep love for chicken liver.

I like calves liver, but in my opinion it can’t hold a candle to chicken liver.

There are a couple of different “traditional” ways to make chicken liver pate. I also ran across many recipes where people just added what they felt like adding. I like that mindset. I thought that the addition of hard-boiled eggs sounded unappealing, so I left them out.


I know that bacon fat goes very well with chicken liver, so I used that instead of dairy free butter. I thought caramelized onions and apple sounded like it would be tasty on top.

And it was.


I keep a large ramekin full of bacon fat in the refrigerator.

Doesn’t everyone?

And by large I mean this isn’t one of those baby ramekins. This is cereal bowl size, folks. Oh yeah.


If you don’t have bacon fat on hand, this recipe is the perfect excuse for you to make yourself bacon for breakfast. You could also use butter I suppose.


Keep in mind that chicken livers and bacon fat were meant to be together.

You won’t be disappointed.


I allow myself fried chicken livers with sautéed onions, mashed potatoes, and gravy twice a year.

Pure Heaven on a fork.

If you haven’t ever tried it you should. They are so tender on the inside and crispy on the outside, salty. Not shocking liver-ee just the right amount of flavor. Amazing. I also like chicken livers chopped up in my Thanksgiving & Christmas gravy.

Pate is a good place to start if you haven’t ever dabbled in chicken livers. Then you can move on to fried chicken livers and before you know it, you’ll be a convert and you won’t be able to live without them in your gravy.

So no more wrinkling of the nose when you hear the words “chicken liver”.

Chicken Liver Pate with Carmelized Apples & Onions

About 1 Pound of Organic Chicken Livers, drained (liver filters the body, better to not have hormones, pesticides, etc . in the chicken)

1 Medium Sweet Onion, diced

3 Generous Tablespoons of Bacon Fat

1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher Salt

A Few Grinds of Fresh Pepper

2 Bay Leaves

About 1/3 Cup Dessert Wine (I used a late harvest Semillon)

1 Granny Smith Apple, diced skin on

1 Medium Sweet Onion, sliced thinly

1 Generous Tablespoon of Dairy Free Butter

Small Pinch of Kosher Salt

Saute the diced onions and bay leaves in the bacon fat until the onion is translucent.

Add chicken livers, salt, and pepper.


Cover with a splatter guard and saute until browned, about 8 minutes or so. Deglaze with the wine and reduce by about half. Set aside.


Lightly caramelize the sliced onion and apple in the butter and salt. Cooking on medium low it will take about 20 minutes or so. Set aside.



Remove bay leaves from liver mixture, add to food processor. Blend until smooth. Season to taste.


Serve with toasted bread or crackers topped with the apple/onion saute.

I sliced gluten free french bread, buttered it (non-dairy) and toasted it under the broiler on each side.


I spread the pate into different ramekins. It will last in the fridge for two to three days and can also be frozen for use at a later time.


Oven Fried Zucchini with Homemade Pizza Sauce



This recipe has been floating around Facebook for a while now. I’m a fan of pretty much anything fried (who isn’t?) so I thought I’d tweak it and give it a try.


I would change two basic things the next time I make it:

#1. I would dip the zucchini in dairy free butter instead of almond milk prior to breading.

#2. I would shpritz the breaded zucchini lightly with a good olive oil before placing them in the oven.

If you want to keep it healthy you can just follow the recipe below and it will taste just fine. But I think that the butter and olive oil would add more flavor and moisture to the breading so it would crisp properly. And keep in mind that although the addition of butter and olive oil will increase the fat content, it’s not by much. Certainly not as much as if you were to deep fry them.

Oven Fried Zucchini

1/2 – 3/4 Cup Gluten Free Breadcrumbs

1/4 Cup Dairy Free Parmesan

1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt

1 teaspoon Garlic Powder

Several Grinds of Pepper

About 1/4 Cup Almond Milk

1 1/2 – 2 Medium sized Zucchini, sliced about 1/4 inch thick

Non Stick Spray

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with tin foil and spray an oven safe cooling rack with non stick spray. Lay the cooling rack on the baking sheet covered with foil.

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a shallow baking dish and stir to combine.

Pour milk into a cereal sized bowl. Dip the zucchini slices in the milk and then dredge well in the breadcrumb mixture. Place each slice on prepared cooling rack, don’t allow sides to touch.

Bake for 35-40 minutes until lightly browned, outside is crisp and middle is tender.

There’s so many different ways you could make this. You could add Italian seasonings to the breading mixture and dip them in a meat sauce. You could add Mexican seasonings and dip them in a spicy chipotle mayo, you could add fresh herbs and dip them in a lemon vinaigrette…

*Don’t stack them while hot like I’ve done for this photo. The steam will make them soft. If you’re serving them to a crowd, allow them to cook just a bit longer to become extra crisp and then you should be able to place them on a platter without them becoming soft. If you’re just serving them to your family, leave them on the rack and family can help themselves.


Homemade Pizza Sauce

I don’t have a written recipe for this sauce, I just wing it each time. So I’ll give you my basics and then you can add your own flair.

Canned Fire Roasted Tomatoes

Canned Tomato Paste

Sun Dried Tomatoes

Dried Basil (or fresh if I have it)

Dried Oregano (or fresh if I have it)

Minced Garlic

Kosher Salt and a Little Pepper to Taste

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until somewhat smooth.