National Cookie Day sneaked past me yesterday while I was out doing my Christmas shopping. Not to worry though, cookies are tasty every day!
I haven’t had shortbread in years and this maple walnut shortbread was delicious with my cup of morning tea. It’s so simple too – you could easily whip these up on short notice as a tasty gift or when company arrives unexpectedly and you’d like something sweet and flaky to serve with hot beverages. The maple extract adds amazing flavor your guests will love!
Maple Walnut Shortbread
1/2 Cup of Dairy Free Butter
1/3 Cup of Powdered Sugar
1/2 teaspoon of Pure Maple Extract
1/4 teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract
Pinch of Sea Salt
1 1/2 Cups of Mama’s Almond Blend All Purpose Gluten Free Flour
For The Frosting:
1 1/4 Cups of Powdered Sugar
1 teaspoon of Pure Maple Extract
Pinch of Sea Salt
2 Tablespoons of Almond Milk
1/4 Cup of Finely Chopped Walnuts
Preheat oven to 325 degrees
For the shortbread, cream the butter and sugar together. Add the extracts, sea salt, and flour and blend on low just until incorporated and the dough comes together. Lightly flour a piece of parchment, pat the dough into a circle, and roll the dough into about an 8 inch circle, smoothing the edges with your fingers. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 16 triangles. Press a fork lightly along the edges. I also used a scalloped cookie cutter for more design on top of the cookie. (Or you can use cookie cutters and cut out shapes, or roll the dough into a rectangle and cut squares…)
Transfer the shortbread dough WITH the parchment onto a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and run a sharp knife down the previous cuts. Let the shortbread cool completely, then move to a wire cooling rack for frosting.
For the frosting, whisk the sugar, extract, sea salt, and almond milk until smooth and of drizzling consistency. Drizzle each cookie and sprinkle with walnuts one at a time (otherwise the drizzle will set and the nuts won’t stick).
Serve with hot tea, coffee, or hot buttered rum (recipe coming soon!).
At one point before we moved across the country, I had close to 100 cookbooks. I loved each and every one, but needed to downsize so I didn’t have 15 boxes of books that had to be hauled to the other side of the US. I kept my absolute favorites and donated the rest. Below are my top 10 favorites that yes, I own and use. Each have their own style, unique flavors and techniques.
Farm House Cookbook
Comfort food at its best from family farms across rural America.
Ready Or Not Nom Nom Paleo
150 Plus mouth watering recipes with step by step photos. Very visual, fun to read!
Gluten Free Artisan Bread In 5 Minutes A Day
Gorgeous, delicious, easy recipes for homemade gluten free breads.
Rose’s Christmas Cookies
Every delicious cookie you can imagine in one place.
Down South Paleo
Delicious southern recipes for gluten free and paleo eaters.
Every Last Crumb
She has some really interesting and delicious recipes with variations for people with multiple food allergies.
The Complete Mexican, South American, & Caribbean Cookbook
Full of fabulous recipes that I’ve used for dinner parties and gatherings. So flavorful!
Mouth watering, rustic, recipes that are full of flavor and even if you never try a single recipe, this cookbook is packed with wonderful stories, photos, and information.
Old Fashioned Home Baking
If I had to choose my top all time favorite baking cookbook, I think this would be it. Brings back memories of my grandma’s style of baking.
My Paleo Patisserie
This cookbook is absolutely stunning!! Both in the photos and the recipes. Two decades of traditional and modern patisserie baking that has been converted for the gluten free and paleo diet. A beautiful coffee table book that your guests will love thumbing through as well!
Kindle $9.99 / Hardcover $35.46
Christmas is right around the corner! Do you have your lists prepared, wrapping ready, and your holiday baking list all ready to go? Me either, but I’m getting closer. I do love to be organized so I can enjoy the holidays without feeling stressed and rushed. So today is the day I will sit down with my holiday notebook and map it all out! I write down meal plans, grocery lists, gift lists, baking lists and recipes, and gift ideas I run across that I think might be a good fit for the people on my giving list.
I love a good gift idea list! It’s always nice to get some fresh ideas and integrate them where you can. I often get asked about my favorite products. So I thought I’d start with my favorite store-bought skin care products that can fit very nicely under the tree and in your favorite someone’s stocking. If you’d like some ideas for homemade skin care products you can go to my holiday list for Healthy Homemade Body Products.
~~~~ For The Bath and Shower ~~~~
Dry brushing should be done before a bath or shower and is wonderful for lymphatic circulation, skin elasticity, and for preparing your skin to absorb moisture.
.Epsom salt baths are a healthy way to absorb magnesium, relax, and get your lymph moving. It’s also great for soaking aches and pains, scratches, and shingles. You can find them at any drug store, pricing varies
These soaking salts are heavenly and come in Aveda’s fabulous signature scent. If you are a Pure Privileged Reward Member at Aveda (you don’t have to purchase much to earn points) you can often get this $42 value for FREE! They are very generous with their free points products and often give full size products.
I’ve tried all kinds of different types of soaps. Organic, natural, essential oil, herbal, bar, liquid…you name it. I always keep coming back to Dove. It’s gluten-free, inexpensive, doesn’t upset my more delicate areas, and leaves my skin feeling soft and moisturized.
We absolutely LOVE this product! First of all the smell…invigorating and healthy! I use it on my body and my husband uses it all over. The best part is that one 33oz bottle lasted both of us an entire year. You can buy it on their website or Nordstrom (they carry they whole Jack Black line).
~~~~ For Moisturizing The Body ~~~~
Hands down my absolute favorite shea butter! It differs in texture from the more popular sold shea that originates in West Africa. This East African shea has a mild aroma and is naturally rich in vitamins A, E, and F. It is smooth as silk and when you combine it with the Shea Moisture body lotion below, it will cure you of ever having dry skin again! I love to mix a dollop of each after I towel off from the shower. Leaves your skin moisturized and fabulous.
This lotion mixed with a dollop of the shea butter above, is your cure-all for parched alligator skin, chapped hands, and any other area of your skin that may need a healthy dose of TLC. All Shea products are free of parabens, phthalates, mineral oil, DEA, petroleum, formaldehyde, and propylene. They are also natural, organic, and sustainably produced. The best part though…they ARE AFFORDABLE! You can find their hair and body products at almost all pharmacy stores and Target.
If you’re looking for a lighter body lotion, this goes on like silk and smells fantastic (but not too strong).
I keep this on my bedside table and use it on my feet, hands, and elbows at night. It’s rather pricey and luxurious so I don’t use it on my whole body. It has a light frankincense scent and makes your hands, feet, and elbows feel very pampered!
When inhaled, frankincense has been shown to reduce heart rate and high blood pressure. It’s anti inflammatory, antibacterial, strengthens and improves skin tone, acts as a sleep aid, and helps reduce pain.
~~~~ For The Face, Neck, & Lips ~~~~
A bit on the pricey side (although this is the less expensive Clarisonic choice). However, I’ve had mine for almost 7 years and have never had one issue and have only had to order a replacement brush once. You can order different types of brushes to fit your skin’s needs. They can also be used in the shower!
I’ve been using this jojoba oil (they are not all created equal!) to remove my waterproof mascara for many years. It leaves my lashes nourished and keeps them healthy and thick. It can also be rubbed between your hands and pulled through dry hair as an extra moisturizer, and you can use it as a shower oil or just rub a little on elbows and hands. Very versatile.
Gentle enough to use every day, leaves skin feeling soft and moisturized, and is affordable! I even use it with my Clarisonic.
Jack Black is a men’s skin care line…but I have hijacked it and use it for myself! I love the scents they use, they’re healthy, and their products work really well and don’t upset my skin. I use this face buff 3x a week in the shower and it leaves my skin feeling smooth and invigorated!
Another fantastic product from Jack Black! My husband received a free facial at Nordstrom with all the Jack Black products and I could not believe the difference in his skin after that one visit. I use these Power Peel pads at least 4 nights a week before applying my moisturizer.
I like to keep these handy for puffy eye days or to use on self-care spa days when my skin needs a little pampering. You can also keep them in the fridge. They feel fabulous and will leave your under eyes de-puffed and nourished.
I use this after I use the Power Peel Pads. My skin loves it and it’s gentle enough to use twice a day if you’d like.
Another great product from Shea Moisture! I use this in my morning regimen. Smells fabulous and leaves my skin silky soft. On days where I feel like my skin needs a bit of extra moisture, I combine this with a tiny dollop of Wise Owl Organics Shea Butter. Keeps my skin moisturized and glowing all day long.
I use this moisturizer at night and combined with the Power Peel Pads & the Vitamin C Serum, I really notice a difference in my skin texture and notice my age spots disappearing.
This oil is just pure bliss! I was able to get the oil free with my points and then purchased the brush, but you can buy the kit all in one. The oil smells absolutely heavenly and I’ve used it all different kinds of ways! Sometimes I layer it on in a hot shower after I do the Jack Black Face Buff and just let it sit for a few minutes while I’m washing up and shaving. Other times I’ve used it in the mornings on a clean, dry, face with the brush and it leaves my skin rosy and healthy and nourished. I’ve also used it as a cuticle oil and a hair oil!
I use this about once a month. It draws out all the yucky toxins from your skin wherever you put it! Just mix a bit of the powder with a little warm water (using a non-metal utensil), pat it on, let it dry, and wash off. Leaves the face with a rosy glow and a healthy little tingle. Because it draws out impurities, I’ve also used it on mosquito bites and other bug bites.
I use this mask about once a week! I love the way it leaves my skin feeling super clean and moisturized.
Once you use these, you’ll never go back to any other lip balm. They. Are. Heavenly.
Stay Tuned For My Next Holiday Post with My Favorite Kitchen Tools!
This gingerbread is FABULOUS! It’s full of flavor, versatile, freezes well, will make your house smell wonderful, and your guests will be in awe when they figure out it’s grain free and dairy free. Well…that is if you tell them!
You can serve it with coconut milk whipped cream and a little sprinkle of cinnamon like I did here, or you can warm the gingerbread and serve it with dairy free vanilla ice cream (my favorite brand is Coconut Bliss Vanilla Island).
You can also just sprinkle it with powdered sugar, or if you’re looking for a dessert to serve after a holiday dinner, you can incorporate the gingerbread into my individual Gingerbread Trifles.
It’s very versatile, and because it can be made ahead and stores well in the freezer, it’s nice to have on hand during the busy holidays when people tend to stop by unannounced. I also like to keep a couple of boxes of chilled coconut milk in my fridge and have powdered sugar and pure vanilla extract on hand so I can whip up some cream on a moments notice.
Grain Free & Dairy Free Gingerbread
**This is best when served on day two or three – when the flavors have a chance to mingle and the gingerbread becomes more moist and dense. Or, you can freeze it up to a month and then defrost and serve**
1 1/4 Cups of Coconut Flour
3/4 Cup of Sweet Potato Flour
1 1/2 Cups of Coconut Sugar
2 teaspoons of Double Acting Baking Powder
2 teaspoons of Baking Soda
1/8 teaspoon of Sea Salt
2 teaspoons of Ceylon Cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons of Ground Ginger
1 teaspoon of Ground Cloves
1/2 Cup of Dairy Free Soy Free Butter
2 Tablespoons of Pure Vanilla Extract
1 Cup of Unsulphured Molasses
1 Cups of Full Fat Coconut Milk
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees (I use convection so cooking time may vary) Spray two 8×8 square pans with non stick spray and set aside. This can also be made in one 8 1/2 x 11 pan or two 8-9 inch round pans.
Measure the dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the butter (cool but not cold) and the remaining wet ingredients. Whisk thoroughly until fluffy and combined.
Divide evenly among pans and bake for 25-30 minutes. *Cool and cover with plastic wrap. Serve on day 2 or 3 or cool and cover with plastic wrap and tinfoil and freeze up to 30 days.*
The holidays are just around the corner! Are you ready? I’ve purchased a few gifts but I’m nowhere near ready. I really love taking in the whole holiday season, so I try not to jump too far ahead. I love all the shopping with crowds and Christmas music playing in the background. The crisp air, the food, the light and window displays. What I love most though, is choosing a gift each year to give that’s a little crafty.
Sometimes it’s just a nice Christmas treat tray or box that’s decorated nicely for family and neighbors. Other years I’ve gone all out and made lotions, scrubs, lip balms, facial toners…all kinds of fun self-care items with my own personal touch.
I thought I’d share some of those items in case you’re in need of some easy but fun homemade gifts. If you’re not really crafty, no need to worry. Throughout November and December I’ll be sharing my “Favorite Things” from skincare to supplements, to kitchen tools. Lots of ideas for great items to slip under the tree and into your special someone’s stocking.
These rolls are inspired by My Gluten-Free Kitchen’s Pull Apart Dinner Rolls. I have made her fabulous rolls many, many times using her gluten-free recipe and we absolutely love them! They turn out perfect every time.
I strive to be about 90% grain free and save the gluten-free goodies for maybe a Sunday dinner or special occasions. So when the cold weather hit and I started craving all things comfort food…I worked with the recipe a bit to come up with a grain free option. Still super easy and still delicious!
They’re not just for dinner either! I love to toast leftovers for breakfast or use the buns for sandwiches. My next attempt with the recipe will be to see how the batter holds up for chicken and dumplings, so stay tuned!
Grain Free Dinner Rolls
2 3/4 Cups Bob’s Red Mill Paleo Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of Xanthan Gum
2 1/2 teaspoons of SAF Instant Yeast
1/4 Cup of Granulated Sugar (You can use white or coconut sugar – coconut sugar will make the rolls look more like a whole wheat roll)
1 teaspoon of Celtic Sea Salt
1 Cup of Warm Filtered Water
2 1/2 Tablespoons of Earth Balance Soy Free Butter, plus extra for roll tops after baking
1 Large Organic Egg
1 teaspoon of Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar
Spray a 9″ round pie plate, set aside.
Add the dry ingredients to your stand mixer. Heat the water and add the butter, let it sit until it melts. Turn the mixer on low and add the water and butter, the egg, and the vinegar. Mix on low until combined, scraping down the sides once. Beat on high for 1 minute. Scrape down sides. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop out 9 mounds of dough into the pie plate. The dough will be soft. You can leave them for a rustic baked look or you can wet your fingers and gently smooth out the tops.
Set the oven to 375 degrees Spray a piece of plastic wrap and gently lay it over the top of the pie plate. Cover loosely with a light kitchen towel, and let rest for 45 minutes. I do mine on top of the stove where it’s warm.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. (I use convection for all of my cooking – if you use conventional, set your oven at 400 degrees and start keeping an eye on the rolls around 25 minutes). Let the rolls cool for 10 minutes before brushing the tops lightly with melted dairy free butter.
Here I’ve used the buns for lunch and for a breakfast sandwich. Delicious!
You haven’t had the true “Maple Experience” unless you’ve been to New England during maple sugaring season. I guarantee you that fall in New England should have an important place on your bucket list. I wrote a little bit about our “sugar shack” experiences HERE.
New England in general has such a special feel. It really can’t be explained and has to be experienced for the full effect. Everyone knows it has a stunning Fall reputation, but there’s so much more than just the fabulous colors. The people are wonderful, the scenery is stunning – from the forests to the houses to the coastline. And the “sugar shacks” as we lovingly called them, are a do not miss. There are fancier ones like in the blog post I linked above, but then there are also little shacks on people’s home properties that really give you the New England experience. There are a total of 110 maple producers in New Hampshire alone! If you’re still stuck on the Aunt Jamima or Log Cabin syrup from your youth – shame on you. You deserve better.
Did I mention the maple aromas? Oh. My. Word. They heat it to evaporate the water and then boil it – and let me tell you, that sweetness fills the air and it is heavenly! They are also very generous with tastes when you visit their sugar houses. New England was where I was introduced to pure maple sugar and maple cream. You must experience maple cream at least once in your life. They also make maple sugar cotton candy and yes, it’s as wonderful as it sounds. Add that to your bucket list too!
Until you’re able to tackle your bucket list, you can nibble on these maple delights.
Maple Sugar Cookies
(This dough needs to be chilled over night and makes about 30 – 2″ sandwich cookies)
2 1/2 Cups of Mamas Almond Blend All Purpose Gluten Free Flour (plus more for rolling)
1 teaspoon of Double Acting Baking Powder
3/4 teaspoon of Xanthan Gum
1/2 teaspoon of Celtic Sea Salt
1/3 Cup of Dairy Free Butter
1/3 Cup of Spectrum Shortening
3/4 Cup of Coombs Organic Maple Sugar
1 teaspoon of Vanilla
Whisk the dry ingredients (except maple sugar) together and set aside. In a mixer, cream the butter and shortening then add the maple sugar and cream until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until creamy. Mix in the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined. Scoop into a ziplock bag and flatten and refrigerate over night.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Line work surface with parchment and flour. Dust your rolling pin and separate the dough into thirds. Keep what you’re not using in the fridge. Sprinkle flour on the dough and roll out, cutting shapes of your choice. Bake for 7 minutes (don’t let the edges get too golden), let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks. Repeat with the remaining dough. Cool completely before frosting.
1/4 Cup of Dairy Free Butter
5 Cups of Powdered Sugar
Pinch of Celtic Sea Salt
4 Tablespoons of Pure Maple Syrup
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
1 – 1 1/2 Tablespoons of Water (for spreading consistency)
Cream the butter, 2 Cups of the powdered sugar, salt, and 2 Tablespoons of the maple syrup. Add the lemon juice, the other two Tablespoons of syrup, and the remaining 3 cups of powdered sugar. Mix until it comes together. It will be very thick and clay like. Add the water 1/2 Tablespoon at a time until you reach a smooth but thick frosting that won’t leak out of the middle of the cookies.
I used the back of a teaspoon to gather a dollop of frosting. Then put it in the middle of the bottom cookie (use the underside of the cookie) and then carefully squished it down to spread it with the top cookie.