Caramel Bites

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I should never plan an exact day to post a recipe. I have a habit of promising that on Instagram and I swear, it’s like I jinx myself every time. It never happens when I say it’s going to happen. Which is SO unlike my personality.

I swear.

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This recipe was supposed to go up yesterday but…more baking happened, then I decided to make a big roast with veggies for Linner, then all of a sudden it was 5:00 and I realized I hadn’t even showered yet! We needed to deliver Christmas treats to some of our friends because fresh is best you know especially for the deliverer, so I quickly cleaned up and off we went. After we visited with friends here and there, we decided to do a Christmas light tour around town. After being busy for  14 hours straight, by the time we got home I was so worn out my husband took my boots off for me.

Recipe postponed until today.

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I woke at the crack o’ dawn this morning to work on all the recipes I promised to share and wouldn’t you know it…the dropbox “thingy” (don’t roll your eyes at me) didn’t work right and my one hundred and something holiday baking photos didn’t upload to my computer. I have a new computer my son gave me and it doesn’t have all the ports my old one had to plug my phone in so…gasp in horror…I had to figure out the whole dropbox glitch by myself. You know when you have technical problems and you try 45 random different things to make it work the way you want it to? Well, I did that and for some reason I was able to get selected photos to upload. Hopefully that same issue won’t happen again because I don’t have the slightest idea how I figured it out.

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To top it off, once the photos were finally finished uploading,  I sat down to begin the recipe post – and had to let both dogs outside not once, but five different times. There must have been deer out there that I couldn’t see because the dogs didn’t even mind braving the rain over and over again. I guess I just need to keep in mind that life happens and recipes will be posted when they get posted.

One day late isn’t too bad and this recipe is well worth the wait. It combines all the yummy things into one delicious bite.

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Gluten Free & Dairy Free Caramel Bites

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 9×11 pan with tinfoil (sprayed) and parchment paper.

For The Crust:

1 Box of S’Moreables Gluten Free Graham Style Crackers

6 Tablespoons of Dairy Free Butter, melted

1/3 Cup Coconut Sugar

1/2 teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon

For The Topping:

1/2 Cup of Dairy Free Butter

3/4 Cup of Packed Brown Sugar

1 teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon

1 teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract

2 1/2 Cups of Miniature Marshmallows

3/4 Cup of Sliced Almonds

1 Cup of Unsweetened Flaked Coconut (I used Let’s Do Organic)

Pulse the graham crackers in a food processor until they turn into fine crumbs. Add the 6 Tablespoons of melted butter, the sugar, and the cinnamon and pulse until it all comes together.

Press the crust tightly into the pan (I used my fingers and then went over it with the bottom of a glass), sprinkle the marshmallows, almonds, and coconut over and set aside.

In a medium sauce pan melt the 1/2 cup of butter, the brown sugar, and the cinnamon over medium heat. Whisk until the butter and sugar are melted, it is ready when the mixture is thoroughly combined (no butter floating on top) and the sugar is no longer grainy. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla. Drizzle over the top of the marshmallows, almonds, and coconut.


Bake for 20 minutes until the top is lightly golden. Cool completely. When ready to slice, remove the mixture from the pan with the tin foil. Fold down the sides of the foil and parchment and cut into bite sized pieces with a sharp knife.

These bars are very rich and I often mail them and deliver them to friends in goodie boxes so after cutting them, I like to place them on a couple of paper towels for 30 minutes (no more than 30 minutes though because they’ll stick) before boxing. It helps remove any extra butter that may transfer in the packaging.

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Apple Dutch Baby & A New Look For The Blog

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When the cold weather hits, thoughts of juicing, avocado toast, and omelettes filled with fresh vegetables seem to dance right out of my head. Then visions of baked goodies, chai lattes, hot tea, skillet dishes, and hearty comfort foods come dancing onto the scene.

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I’ve been working on a grain free Dutch Baby pancake but haven’t been able to find that perfect sweet spot. This Apple Dutch Baby is gluten free and dairy free but not grain free. As soon as I can get my grain free recipe to behave properly, you’ll be the first to know.

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If you’ve visited the blog lately you’ll see that it has a fresh new look – and it’s snowing! Love that little addition that WordPress adds during the holidays. I’d love to hear your opinion, so pop over and let me know how you like the new look! If you receive my posts via email or view it with your mobile device, you won’t see the new format, just a generic format. To view the new format, either click the link to the blog in your email or, if you view the blog using Chrome on your phone, you can click the 3 vertical dots at the top right of your mobile screen and click Request Mobile Site.

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I have a lot of fresh baking ideas planned for the next couple of weeks along with some of my traditional favorites, so stay tuned!

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Gluten Free & Dairy Free Apple Dutch Baby

For The Batter:

3 Large Eggs

3/4 Cup of Full Fat Coconut Milk

3/4 Cup of Mama’s All Purpose Almond Flour Blend

1/4 teaspoon of Xanthan Gum

1/4 teaspoon of Sea Salt

1/2 teaspoon of Ceylon Cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon of Nutmeg

For The Apples:

4 Tablespoons of Dairy Free Butter (set aside 2 Tablespoons)

1 Large Honey Crisp Apple, cored and thinly sliced

1 1/2 teaspoons of Ceylon Cinnamon

2 Tablespoons of Coconut Sugar

*Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Whisk eggs, milk, flour, xanthan, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg until smooth.

Melt 2 Tablespoons of the dairy free butter on medium heat in an oven proof skillet (about 9.5-10 inches). Add the apple, coconut sugar, and cinnamon, tossing often until apples are coated and softened, about 7-10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Rinse the skillet well and wipe dry. Place in the oven and heat the skillet for 10 minutes.

Remove (carefully!) from oven and melt the remaining 2 Tablespoons of dairy free butter swirling around to coat all the edges and up the sides of the pan. Add the apples and any coconut sugar sauce to the middle of the pan and pour the batter over.

Bake until pancake is puffed and golden brown around the edges and the center is set, but still jiggles a bit like custard. About 12-15 minutes.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and serve with a drizzle of maple syrup.

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Say Goodbye To Your Holiday Stress


I LOVE the holidays. The change in seasons, music, crisp air, baking, shopping, light displays, gatherings, the hustle and bustle downtown, and of course celebrating the real meaning of Christmas. Sadly, I often hear people say how much they dread the holidays! The commercialization, crowds, cost, numerous family issues, and the overall rush and stress of having to prepare for what is such a big holiday for many of us.

After celebrating 48 seasons of this favorite holiday, a few of which were quite stressful even for an “all things holiday” lover like me – I know why you may be feeling overwhelmed and I can help.

Tip #1 – Organize

I create a holiday calendar. It doesn’t have to be pretty (mine isn’t), just effective. I sort out appointments and plans that have already been made and balance those out with my to-do list for the month. I figure out which days I’ll spend shopping, wrapping, baking, buying groceries, and food prepping. I put everything in one binder. Calendar, menus, baking ideas, recipes, gift lists, gift receipts, reminders, and grocery lists.

I also schedule me time (manicures & pedicures, hiking with the dogs, catching up with friends, baths and books, prayer time in the mornings), fun time (movies, dinners out with the hubby, light viewing, travel) exercise time, family time, and blog time (sharing recipes here with you, on Instagram, and managing my GFZ Facebook page). If you don’t make time, it won’t happen.

May seem a bit over the top, but I promise you – there is nothing like having a peaceful night’s rest because my brain is not spinning trying to keep track of a to-do list in my head. Once it’s on paper, it’s out of  my head and my mind can focus on the present moment.

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Tip #2 – Meal Plans & Baking Plans

I plan my menus based on my energy/health level and keep in mind that I TOO want to enjoy the holiday. As much as I enjoy cooking and baking, I do not enjoy catering to a house full of people who are relaxing and having fun while I am chained to the kitchen.

I break my menus down. I make grocery lists and a prep timeline. Anything I can either prep or fully make a day ahead or more, I do. I keep my prep timeline handy and I highlight everything I’ve completed as I’m going. I also use the prep list when guests arrive, then I can focus on the guests without worrying I’ve forgotten something.

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Tip #3 – Prioritize

Do you want to have fun and enjoy the season or do you want it to be filled with angst, resentment, exhaustion, and debt? Not many people would willingly choose the latter…but we often do without even recognizing it!

You know how awful you feel every time you say yes to something when you really want to say no? Keep THAT in mind throughout the entire holiday season. Saying “NO” pertains to family, friends, co workers, gifts, parties, overindulging in food and alcohol, and your TIME. If you really hate visiting 6 different houses on Christmas and would really like to just enjoy a peaceful holiday at home, do it or consider hosting a big potluck and having everyone at your home instead. One stop for everyone! People will forgive you and if they don’t… well, that’s a post for another time about setting better boundaries.

Get your shopping and wrapping done early. I made a pact with myself this year that I’d have all gift shopping and wrapping done by the first week in December. If you don’t like to shop, you can buy almost anything online. If you dread wrapping, consider paying someone to do your wrapping. Or, here’s a concept so many of us forget – ask for help! Let go of the mindset that you are responsible for all the shopping, wrapping, and providing everyone except yourself with a meaningful holiday. Remember this – most people are not concerned with AND rarely notice, 90% of the things you think are absolutely necessary for a happy holiday – pare down! You really CAN relax and have fun.

Consider picking names out of a hat instead of buying for everyone, or do a homemade or Pinterest crafty Christmas. If you enjoy attending a party or two but can’t wrap your mind around the 10 invitations sitting on your kitchen counter, choose the parties you really look forward to attending and politely pass on the rest. Even if for just one year! You can also head out of town for the holiday. We have done that twice in the past 10 years and it was a really refreshing change of pace.


Tip #4 – Focus on Self Care

We know what the real meaning of Christmas is about, however, it’s easy to get caught up in all the extras. If you whip yourself into a complete frazzle, you miss out on all of the peace and magic the holiday season has to offer. The only way around holiday stress is to focus on self-care. Focusing on the true meaning, prioritizing, staying organized, being honest with yourself and others, and most importantly, taking care of your health. Once you’re stressed, it all slides downhill very quickly. Countless people are ill this time of year. We consume more sugar in the winter, get less sun (vitamin D levels drop even further), drink less water so we’re dehydrated which lowers the immune system, and we have the tendency to want to curl up and hibernate rather than getting fresh air and exercise.

Indulge in all the fun things – but in moderation and stick to your normal health routine. Say NO when you mean no, knowing that it is what is best for your health and your sanity. Make a list of all the things you’ve always wanted to do during the holidays but never had the time for – and make them happen! Celebrate! Tell your inner perfectionist worry wart to take a hike. And for crying out loud, take a pass on another holiday spent with your inappropriate uncle Fred and pot stirring aunt Sally.

Such a special time was not intended to be stressful and dreaded. You do deserve a peaceful, joy filled, holiday surrounded by the blessings in your life that have been so freely given.

It’s up to you to make it happen!


Dairy Free Rum Nog


Last year I swore I would come up with a dairy free eggnog that would satisfy my cravings, but you know how that goes…the holidays came speeding up and then things got very busy and before I knew it I was running behind on even just my regular holiday to-do list.

Well not this year!

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I made a pact with myself that I would have all of the decorating, shopping, and wrapping completed by the first week of December. That way, I could focus on all of the things I love so much about the holidays and actually fully enjoy them as stress free as possible.

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What a concept, right? I should have been doing this every year!

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For the next couple of weeks I’ll be soaking in the Christmas Spirit with light gazing and  dinners and movies downtown in the hustle and bustle of holiday shoppers.

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Hopefully some long walks in the falling snow (if we ever get some), also a bit of travel, a whole lot of baking (stay tuned!), and of course – I’ll be treating myself to Rum Nog and spiced wine to my heart’s content!

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Dairy Free Holiday Rum Nog 

5 Eggs – separated, reserve 3 whites & freeze the remainder for another use

1/2 Cup of Granulated Sugar Plus 2 teaspoons – or raw sugar or coconut sugar but they will darken the color of your nog

2 Cups of Full Fat Coconut Milk

1 Cup of Filtered Water

1 teaspoon of Nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon of Ceylon Cinnamon

Pinch of Sea Salt

1/2 teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract

3 Tablespoons of Spiced Rum (or more of course, whatever you like!)

In a medium pan whisk the egg yolks and 1/2 cup of sugar until smooth and creamy yellow. Add ONE cup of the coconut milk and the water, whisk to combine. Heat on medium, stirring constantly until the mixture begins to thicken and coats the back of the spoon. About 7-8 minutes or so. Don’t heat too quickly or the eggs will scramble and your eggnog will be lumpy. Remove from heat and add the last cup of coconut milk, whisk to combine.

Add the nutmeg, cinnamon, sea salt, vanilla, and rum and whisk to combine. Set aside to cool.

While the eggnog is cooling, in a mixer beat the egg whites and granulated sugar to stiff peak. Be careful, they go from soft peak to stiff and then powdery and overworked very quickly. Fold the egg whites into the eggnog, pour into a container, and refrigerate over night.

The egg whites may rise to the top over night. You can whisk them into the eggnog for a  more fluffy consistency, or you can scoop them to the side, fill the glasses with the eggnog and then dollop a bit of egg white nog on top of each. Or, you can leave out the egg whites altogether. Top with a sprinkle of nutmeg and serve.


Cranberry Walnut Cookies

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*Grain Free *Dairy Free *Egg Free

Cranberry Walnut Cookies

*Makes About 24 Cookies

(preheat oven to 350 degrees)

2/3 Cup of Dried Cranberries, roughly chopped

2/3 Cup of Walnuts, finely chopped

1/3 Cup Plus 2 Tablespoons of Coconut Butter, melted

3 Tablespoons of Coconut Oil

3/8 Cup of Coconut Sugar

1/2 Cup of Coconut Milk

2/3 Cup Sweet Potato Flour

3/8 Cup of Arrowroot

3/8 Cup of Coconut Flour

1/4 teaspoon of Kosher Salt

1 1/2 teaspoons of Ceylon Cinnamon

1 teaspoon of Freshly Grated Ginger

1 teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract

Chop the cranberries and walnuts and set aside. Cream the coconut butter, coconut oil, and coconut sugar together until fully incorporated. Add the coconut milk and beat, scraping down the bowl. Add the remaining dry ingredients and vanilla and mix well.

Using about 1-2 Tablespoons of dough, roll into a ball and flatten with fingers into a circle on parchment covered baking sheets. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove to cooling racks and frost when cooled.

For The Frosting:

For the frosting I just put together a simple glaze with powdered sugar, melted dairy free butter, a pinch of kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract, and maple syrup. You’ll only need about a finished 1/2 cup for drizzling. Whisk until smooth and drizzling consistency.

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Maple Sugar Pecan Cookies

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This is fall wrapped up in a cookie.

Before I lose those of you who can’t stand anything pumpkin spice, you can rest easy because there’s no pumpkin or spice in this cookie just  a whole lot of amazing maple goodness.

When we lived in New Hampshire I discovered maple sugar. OMG. I had no idea there was even such a thing! Yes, it tastes and smells as wonderful as you would think it would. Pure maple syrup in the form of granulated sugar.



I do love pumpkin spice, but even I get bored with it. So while I was going over ideas for our neighborhood block party, I knew I didn’t want my contributions to involve anything really predictable in those types of fall gatherings…like pumpkin spice everything. Plus, it’s a gamble. It’s like cilantro. It’s either a love or hate relationship for people.

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So I settled on my Raspberry & Apricot Pie Dough Pastries and these Maple Sugar Pecan Cookies. The perfect cookie to satisfy my love for all things maple and to get away from the expected.

And then there’s the sugared nuts on top which are a special treat themselves…oh my.

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Maple Sugar Pecan Cookies

For the sugared pecans:

About 1 1/2 Cups of pecans, roughly chopped (You will also need another 1/2 cup of pecans for the cookie dough)

1/2 Cup of Maple Sugar

1/4 Cup of Dark Brown Sugar, packed

1 teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract

2 Tablespoons of Dairy Free Butter

Pinch of Kosher Salt

Measure all ingredients into a medium frying pan (non stick!). Cook on medium stirring regularly until sugar is melted (but thick), and nuts are coated, about 7 minutes. Pour out onto a couple of sheets of parchment and immediately separate with two spoons. Allow to cool completely and then break apart the larger pieces. Set aside.

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For the cookies:

(Makes about 32 cookies)

1 Cup of Dairy Free Butter

1/2 Cup of Maple Sugar

1/2 Cup of Packed Brown Sugar

1 Large Egg

1 teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract

2 1/2 Cups of Mamas Almond Flour Blend

1/2 teaspoon of Baking Soda

1/4 teaspoon of Kosher Salt

1 teaspoon of Xanthan Gum

1/2 Cup of Finely Chopped Pecans

In a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy scraping down sides once or twice. Add the egg and vanilla and beat. Add the dry in ingredients and finely chopped pecans and mix until thoroughly combined. Chill for 45 minutes (or longer).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line three baking sheets with parchment. Shape into about 1″ balls and place a couple of inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes or until set and very lightly browned on the edges. (Don’t overcook or they’ll become too crispy.) Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling racks.

For The Frosting:

For the frosting I just used a basic powdered sugar mix with dairy free butter and powdered sugar. About 3 Cups of powdered sugar and about 1/4 Cup of melted dairy free butter. Stir that together and to thin it, instead of adding a little water, I added Pure Maple syrup to get it to the consistency I liked for spreading on top of the cookies. Sprinkle each cookie with a generous amount of the sugared pecans. 


Apple Tart

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We have one more day of somewhat summer weather this week and then we start the road to fall. We spent much of August socked in with terrible smoke conditions due to all of the fires in Washington, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Canada. All of that time spent with the windows closed and the air conditioning running 24/7 made my brain think the seasons had already changed. I found myself making soup and comfort foods like this delicious apple tart.

Now that summer is winding down, my vegetable garden has been cleaned out, and the mornings are calling for sweaters, I find myself day dreaming about all of the wonderful options for fall baking and cooking.

Stay tuned!

Apple Tart

1 Pie Crust From Heaven Crust Portion

6 Cups of Your Favorite Apples, sliced

Juice of 1 Whole Lemon

3/4 Cup of Coconut Sugar

1/4 teaspoon of Kosher Salt

1 1/2 teaspoons of Ceylon Cinnamon

2 teaspoons of Pure Vanillla Extract

6 teaspoons of Dairy Free Butter

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Add the sliced apples, lemon juice, coconut sugar, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla to a large bowl and let sit for one hour, tossing every 15 minutes.

While the apples are marinating, press the dough into a 9×1 inch tart pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Overlap the apples in a circle starting at the outside edge and work your way to the middle. Drizzle half of the marinating sauce over the apples. Dollop the butter over the top of the apples.

Bake for 50-60 minutes (it will depend on your oven) until apples are fork tender. Cover the tart with loosely with foil at the 30 minute mark so that the apple tips don’t burn. Drizzle the tart with the remaining marinade and cool before serving.