Gluten Free Banana Bread

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2016-07-14 08.21.20The majority of the time, I’m grain free. But every now and then, I venture out and eat gluten free grains. You can make grain free banana bread too, and I’m sure somewhere out there someone has a recipe that you’ll love…but I have yet to find or create a grain free recipe that I love.

I made this banana bread with Mama’s Coconut Blend Flour and it was absolutely delicious. The flour is a blend of coconut, tapioca, potato starch, and rice flours. It had perfect texture, it was beautifully moist, held together well, and I was able to bake it in a normal bread pan rather than my tiny bread pan made for grain free breads.

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When you bake with gluten free grains, things come out fluffy and cushy and light. Most grain free baked items are a heavier and more temperamental. I’m not used to being able to make bread in a normal sized bread pan and have it rise over the top. That was a treat in itself!

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Of course, actually eating the banana bread warm with lots of dairy free butter was the real treat.

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Gluten Free Banana Bread

2 Cups of Mama’s Coconut Blencond Flour

1 teaspoon of Baking Soda

1 teaspoon of Double Acting Baking Powder

1/4 teaspoon of Sea Salt

1 teaspoon of Ground cinnamon

4 eggs

3 Very Ripe Large Bananas

3/4 Cup of Coconut Sugar

1/3 Cup of Avocado Oil

1 teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×5 in loaf pan generously with coconut oil and set aside.

Whisk all of the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. In another medium bowl whisk all of the wet ingredients and the sugar together until fully incorporated. Add the dry mix to the wet mix and fold gently, just until combined and dry ingredients are fully incorporated.

Bake for 40 minutes. (I use convection)

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Life Is Too Short Not To Eat Onion Rings

2 Comments

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It turns out that I’m not the only one that needs an onion ring every now and then. For those of us who can’t eat gluten and dairy, craving breaded fried foods can pose a problem. As you already know, that’s my goal here on this blog. Proving to people that an allergen free life doesn’t have to be boring and restrictive. While it may be a problem finding these types of foods when you’re eating out, it’s not a problem if you’re willing to make them at home.

Sometimes, it’s just necessary to eat comfort food and enjoy an onion ring…or 10. It’s as simple as that. Just like every now and then, I need a piece of cake for breakfast…but that’s a story for another time.

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I hadn’t planned on posting this so I don’t have any prep or process photos and the photos I do have are lacking excitement…or so I thought. I posted a couple pictures of last night’s dinner on my Gluten Free Zen Facebook page and on Instagram and received a few messages asking for the recipe. It’s a pretty simple recipe. There’s a few steps involved, but once you get that down, making them at home is worth every. single. bite.

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Gluten Free Dairy Free Onion Rings

*You’ll need a dutch oven or deep fryer and a deep fry/candy thermometer, 2 baking sheets lined with parchment or tin foil if you don’t want an oily mess, and 2 cooling racks that will fit on top of the baking sheets. You will also need a large slotted spoon or tongs.

50.7 ounces of Avocado Oil (About 1 1/2 bottles of Chosen Foods 100% Pure Avocado Oil, I buy mine at Costco)

5 Medium to Large Sweet Onions (Peeled and sliced save middles for something else)

3 plus 1 Cups of All Purpose Gluten Free Flour (I used Mama’s All Purpose Almond Flour Blend)

3 Tablespoons of Arrowroot

3 teaspoons of Garlic Powder

1  Tablespoon of Sea Salt plus more for sprinkling

1 1/2 teaspoons of Cayenne Pepper

3 teaspoons of Bragg’s Seasoning

2 teaspoons of Coconut Sugar

1 1/2 Cups of Gluten Free Beer (I used Green’s Amber Ale the dark ale would work well too)

1 Cup of Perrier (or any sparkling mineral water)

1 Large Egg

Pour the oil into the dutch oven, insert the thermometer, turn the burner on medium or slightly higher,  and heat to between 325-350 degrees. This will take some time.

(It’s easiest if you set up an ingredients “station” right next to the stove top.)

While the oil is heating measure the flour, arrowroot, garlic, sea salt, cayenne, Bragg’s, and sugar into a large bowl or baking dish. Whisk to combine. Reserve 1 cup of the flour mixture in a bowl and set aside. Dredge all of the onion slices in the larger amount of flour mixture and set aside on a paper towel or plate.

In a medium bowl combine the beer, sparkling water, and egg. Pour into the larger mixture of flour and whisk to combine.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees and place the prepared baking sheets in the oven.

Once the oil reaches temperature:

Remove the thermometer. Take an onion and dip in the liquid flour mix, then dredge quickly in the smaller dry reserved flour mix, dip quickly one more time into the liquid mix and then put into the oil. Repeat with 6-7 slices at a time but don’t overcrowd. I let the oil heat up a bit more between each wave of onions. The onion rings won’t brown as much as traditional onion rings. Allow to cook for about 1 1/2 minutes on each side, depending on how thick the onion slices are. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon or tongs onto the racks and season with more sea salt. Try a piece (or two) from the first batch and see if they’re crispy to your liking, then you can adjust the cooking time from there. Keep warm in the oven. Serve as soon as all the onions are done.

Dipping Sauce:

Olive oil mayo, ketchup, and sriracha. I use about 1/2 C of mayo, 1/4 C of ketchup, and a generous squeeze of sriracha. Amount will depend on how seasoned you like yours and how many people you’re feeding.

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Mixed Berry Tart with Goat Cheese & Coconut Cream

3 Comments

2016-07-04 13.59.07

I’ve been dreaming about and creating this dessert in my head for a while. Monday we celebrated America’s Independence Day so I had the perfect reason to make a special dessert. Not that I need a reason of course…but neither one of us like a lot of sweets lingering around the house as they become increasingly difficult to ignore.

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I’m very happy with the result. The flavors are exactly what I imagined in my head.  Believe me, I’ve dreamed up countless recipes in my head that didn’t translate well into real life, so when I get a perfect outcome the first try, I allow myself a little celebration and mental high fives.

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The only bummer was that it fell apart when I plated it. Only because I didn’t make it the day ahead and allow it to set in the fridge over night like I had planned. So when you make it, make it a day ahead and all will be well.

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My mother’s friend turned us on to a wonderful organic store just across the border in Idaho called Pilgrim’s.  When I was growing up Pilgrim’s focused just on supplements but now it’s turned into a very lovely health food grocery store. All the fruit on the tart came from Pilgrim’s and it was gorgeous. Not one yucky piece or under ripe morsel in the whole bunch.  It made me want to move right next door so I could wander around in there every day basking in the glow of what healthy produce should look like. They sell almost everything that Whole Foods sells, just on a smaller scale.  They also have a salad bar, hot food bar, and freshly baked GLUTEN FREE (can you believe it?) goods. It’s amazing and I think it’s well worth the 20 minute or so drive seeing that I typically have to go to three grocery stores in our own town to get what I need and it’s rarely very fresh.

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For the tart filling if you’re not bothered by cow’s milk dairy, you can use cream cheese instead of the goat cheese, regular heavy cream for the whipped cream instead of coconut milk, and regular vanilla yogurt (plain  will be too tart). If you’re vegan or don’t care for goat cheese, you can substitute the goat cheese with Diaya cream style cheese. You could also add pureed fruit to the filling for different flavors. You could make it a chocolate filling by adding cocoa powder to the yogurt and goat cheese mixture and maybe some dairy free chocolate chips to the filling. There are many options to fit different needs. The crust does have gluten free grains, but you could easily make it with a grain free cookie crust as well.

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Mixed Berry Tart with Goat Cheese & Coconut Cream

*For everything to come together properly, you’ll need to make the whipped cream ahead of time. The tart will set up more solid and plate better if allowed to chill in the fridge overnight or all day prior to serving.

For the tart shell:

1 Cup Mama’s All Purpose Almond Flour

1/4 Cup of Ground Buckwheat Groat Flour (I buy the groats and grind them in my VitaMix)

1/2 teaspoon of Xanthan Gum

1/2 teaspoon of Sea Salt

2 1/2 teaspoons of Pure Almond Extract

1/3 Cup of Coconut Sugar

1/2 Cup of Dairy Free Butter, cold

Measure the flours, xanthan gum, and sea salt into a bowl and whisk to combine. In a mixer, whip the butter and coconut sugar until fully combined and creamy scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times. Add the almond extract and the flour mixture and mix on medium high until combined and the mixture begins pulling away from the sides of the bowl.

Quickly press the dough into a removable bottom tart pan. Refrigerate for at least one hour until solid and chilled. Remove from fridge and poke holes throughout the tart with a fork. Bake at 325 degrees for about 20-25 minutes until crust is a light golden color. Remove and cool completely. (I cool completely and then chill for 15 minutes in the freezer before adding the filling.)

For the filling: 

1 oz. of Goat Cheese (the log is creamier and softer than a brick of goat cheese)

1 1/4 Cups of Coconut Milk Yogurt (you can use store bought, but you may want to cut it down to 3/4 – 1 cup as mine is thicker than store bought)

Sweetened Vanilla Coconut Whipped Cream made with 2 Boxes of 100% Coconut Milk – 2 Cups (Chilled over night and then whipped into coconut cream with vanilla and sugar. I think the whipped cream is more stable when it’s allowed to rest and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours. You could also make it a day ahead, then just pour off any amount of coconut water separation.)

Zest of 1 Lemon

About 3 Cups of Berries/Fruit For The Top Of The Tart

In a mixer with the whisk attachment, add the goat cheese and  yogurt and whip until smooth. Add the lemon zest and whip to combine. Remove the whisk and mixer bowl and gently fold in the whipped coconut cream. Pour into tart shell and smooth with a spatula. Top with desired fruits.

2016-07-04 13.59.07

Spicy Grilled Shrimp with Garlic Ginger Veggies

2 Comments

2016-06-07 17.40.58

This meal is super simple!

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In a large saute pan drizzle about 3 teaspoons of avocado oil and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil. Turn heat to medium/medium high and add 2 cups of cauliflower, 1 1/2 cups of broccoli, 1 package of cremini mushrooms sliced, 3 large minced cloves of garlic, 1 inch piece of peeled and grated ginger, a pinch of sea salt, and about 2 Tablespoons of coconut aminos. Saute until aldente.

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While the veggies are cooking, rinse the shrimp and remove the shells. Slide them onto skewers. In a small bowl, combine 2 teaspoons of coconut aminos, 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil, 1/2 teaspoon of avocado oil, 1 Tablespoon of your favorite BBQ sauce, 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of sriracha depending on how spicy you want it, 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon of dried cilantro, and 1/8 teaspoon of dried ginger. Whisk to combine and brush onto both sides of shrimp.

Preheat a grill on high.

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Grill the shrimp quickly, only a couple of minutes on each side.

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Plate the veggies, add the shrimp, and enjoy!

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Cherry Chocolate Chip Coconut Macaroons

4 Comments

2016-06-09 10.42.03

Sometimes you just need a little something. Rather than eat my way through the pantry trying to satiate that “something” I’m craving, I just usually go ahead and make what I know will satisfy it.

These are bite size macaroons. This recipe makes 32 miniature servings. They don’t require any added sugar because the chocolate chips and cherries are just the right balance of sweet and tart.

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It all comes together very quickly so they’d be easy to make in a pinch if company showed up or if you felt like I do today…in need of a bit of something!

I’d say about 5 minutes to mix the dough, a few minutes to scoop them out, 18 to bake, a couple minutes to cool…that means you can have a delicious treat in under 30 minutes. A satisfying treat that ends up being lower in overall thigh growth potential than grazing through the pantry trying to satisfy the longing for what you really want.

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I love the crispy coconut mixed with the soft, tart cherries and the sweetness that comes from the chocolate. A perfect, satisfying, balance!

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Cherry Chocolate Chip Macaroons

2 Cups of Organic Unsweetened Shredded Coconut

1 Cup of Organic Unsweetened Flaked Coconut

1/2 Cup of Organic Dried Cherries, chopped

3/4 Cup of Enjoy Life Mini Chocolate Chips

1/8 teaspoon of Sea Salt

1 teaspoon of Organic Pure Almond Extract

1 teaspoon of Organic Pure Vanilla Extract

4 Organic Egg Whites

4 Tablespoons of Arroy D 100% Coconut Milk

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment.

Measure all ingredients into a medium bowl and mix well with a spoon or spatula until fully incorporated. Scoop dough out a Tablespoon at a time and bake for 18 minutes. Allow to cool before transferring from baking sheet.

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The Great Pizza Roll Experiment

4 Comments

2016-06-03 08.06.44

I have a huge binder of recipe ideas for this blog full of all different types of sweets and savories. I love to look through it and be inspired, but I rarely actually use it! I guess food blogging feels more exciting to me when it’s somewhat spontaneous where I can experiment with random ideas and things that sound good right then and there.

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That’s where The Great Pizza Roll Experiment Comes onto the scene. I’m always looking for ways to create those comfort foods we all crave but don’t get to eat because they’re usually full of all the things we’re allergic or sensitive to.

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I wasn’t going to post this recipe until I made it twice so I could tweak it here and there and perfect it. But who needs perfect? I like rustic and beautiful comfort food that’s off the cuff that doesn’t look like it’s manufactured. Hand made, from the heart of the kitchen. That’s my kind of soul food.

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There are two things I want to try differently the next few times I make this. One, the portions were big and I think I would like a little less bread, so next time I’ll try them a bit smaller. Pat the dough out thinner, but stick with the same amount of filling.

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I was also thinking I’d like to try a pie version where I would pat half the dough into a rectangle, layer all the fillings, and then roll out and add the top dough, crimping the edges.

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Another idea I thought would be really pretty and great for guests, is to do it in two long rectangular braided loaves similarly constructed like my cherry braids. The only concern would be that my bread dough is very light and fluffy, so it needs a lot of extra arrowroot flour if I’m going to work with it with my hands like a cherry braid needs. That may change the texture, if so, I’ll let you know the next time I make it.

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Then of course, the filling options are endless. You could do sweet or savory. Mexican, Italian, German…OH YES…now see, I’m already having visions of kielbasa and sauteed onions with a fabulous sauce hanging out in those buns….

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Any way you choose to experiment with the recipe, you won’t be disappointed. Like I said, this was my first run on this recipe and it got the two thumbs up “WOW” factor from both my husband and I. Incredibly flavorful, definitely rustic comfort food, it looked fabulous plated…I’m looking forward to more experimenting.

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Grain Free Pizza Rolls

*This recipe makes 6 large servings

1 Batch of My Grain Free & Dairy Free Dinner Roll Dough

Extra Arrowroot Flour or Sweet Potato Flour for patting (arrowroot is less expensive to use on hands!) 

1 Batch of My Vegan Spinach & Basil Pesto

About 12 ounces of Goat Mozzarella,  cubed or sliced

About 24 Large Pepperoni Slices

1 Small Can of Tomato Paste

Dried Oregano for Sprinkling

Olive Oil, Oregano, Basil, Garlic Powder, and Rosemary to brush on the tops.

Organic Garlic & Herb Marinara Sauce (for dipping)

Turn the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment.

Using half the bread dough and floured hands, pat out 6 rounds of dough onto the parchment. Divide the can of tomato paste equally between the rounds and spread with a spoon. Squeeze a little pesto onto each one. (I freeze my pesto in ziplock baggies and then thaw when I’m ready to use. I snip the end and squeeze it out of the baggie.)

Place a couple of slices of mozzarella on top of the rounds and top with two slices of pepperoni. Sprinkle with oregano. Then top with a little more pesto, two more slices of cheese, two more slices of pepperoni, and sprinkle again with a little oregano. 

With floured hands, pat out the top dough on your palm and place it over the filling topped rounds. Press the edges down and lightly cup your hand over the dough and tuck the edges under all around.

Spray a piece of plastic wrap with non-stick spray and lightly lay over the top of the buns. Top with a kitchen towel and set on top of the stove to rise for 35 minutes.

While the bread is rising, warm the marinara sauce on medium low in a small pan. Then, in a small bowl, add about 1/8 Cup of olive oil and about 1 teaspoon each of oregano and basil, about 1/2 teaspoon of rosemary, about 2 teaspoons of powdered garlic, and about 1/2-1 teaspoon of sea salt. Whisk together with a fork and brush liberally over the buns right before they go into the oven.

After 35 minutes, remove the towel and plastic from the pizza rolls and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned. 

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Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake

8 Comments

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Yesterday was Memorial Day.

Evidently there’s a bit of controversy about it on the internet because some people get angry when people tell each other, “Happy Memorial Day!” I guess some people don’t feel it’s appropriate to express happiness for their freedom.

I for one AM happy to remember all of the brave people who fought for my freedom. It IS a happy day. Because without them, and their willingness to fight for what they believed in and for the freedom of people who can’t fight or don’t fight, our lives would look entirely different. I know people miss their loved ones who gave their lives, that’s understood. So while we mourn for those relationships lost, we can still celebrate their bravery and character.

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My mother’s father was killed in a motorcycle accident when my grandma was pregnant with her. Prior to that, he was a POW. He was missing for quite some time. Little did anyone know that he would come home only to be killed in a hit and run accident. Little did anyone know that her future second husband would be part of the first group into that POW camp to rescue him.

My mother and I didn’t have the opportunity to get to know her father of course, but the man who freed him ended up being a wonderful father to my mother and her brothers and the  best grandpa I could have ever hoped for. He loved me dearly. He taught me how to ride a bike and he let me dig around in his tools in the garage. He took care of me when he fed me too many tacos and I threw up all night long. I got to sit in a rocker on the porch with him and take sips of salted beer during long, hot, summers. He let me ask questions. He was patient with me and always happy to see me. Their house was my favorite place to be in the entire world. I took afternoon naps on the couch with him and Punkin, their weiner dog. I got up when it was still dark to eat smiley face chocolate chip pancakes and bacon with him before he left for work in the mornings.

The best part about my grandpa was his character. I’ve never met anyone who rivaled it. He wasn’t perfect, they swore like truckers in the garage when he and his friends worked on cars together, sometimes he was a little prejudice. He was born in a different time and a different world.  He was real and not afraid to show he cared or to show he was angry or to say he was sorry. He loved “his girls” and I never once doubted it even when he got so ill with leukemia and it tried even his nerves of steel and made him grumpy.

He taught me what love looks like. True, imperfect, love. He and my grandma were a wonderful team. They worked together like a well oiled machine. Smooth and humming along. All parts working together to keep it whole. He worshiped her. He willingly and lovingly raised her three children alongside her and believe me, it wasn’t an easy task.  He was the backbone of our family. This man who rescued my mother’s father from torture and certain death. Amazing! I wish everyone in the world could have the opportunity to have a man in their life like that. What a different world it would be.

Without the bravery of my grandpa, my mother’s father likely would not have made it out of that POW camp alive, he was in very bad shape. I remember my grandma saying that when he finally came home he could only stomach ice cream. No one was allowed to touch him to wake him or to startle him. He needed lots of healing.

Imagine if none of that had ever happened? My mother wouldn’t even exist and neither would I. That series of seemingly terrible yet brave events, created an entire life for us.

I love how God always  has all the details worked out.

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So when I say, “Happy Memorial Day!” I mean it in the best of ways. And I am consistently reminded when I take the time to pay attention, that everything happens for good reason whether we understand it or whether it hurts initially.

We spent the early morning washing windows and tending to a few chores. The afternoon was spent on the patio in the sunlight and fabulous weather enjoying a lovely lunch of assorted goat cheeses, hummus, a cucumber and tomato salad with avocado, and two varieties of gluten free crackers. We found a new flat bread cracker that was delicious!

When I think about the abundance of that, I’m reminded of the story my grandma told me about how my mother’s father had made friends with a guard in that POW camp. The guard would bring him bits of bread and food and tell him when they were doing inspections so he could hide whatever he needed to hide. My grandpa and his fellow soldiers were always working on a plan of escape. That guard was also the reason my grandma finally found out through the grapevine on the radio and through letters from people all over the country, that my grandpa was no longer missing in action.  That guard relayed notes to someone who spread the news…wouldn’t it be fantastic to figure out who that was?

They survived on bits of bread and tiny scraps….a sharp contrast to the abundance we have. We have that because of the people who fought for our freedom. Imagine if we weren’t happy about that? Celebrating it? Then what on earth was it all for?

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We finished the day with a steak dinner and delicious dessert. Because in my family, food and gathering together and celebrations, always went hand in hand. My grandpa would have wanted us to celebrate the bravery of others. To remember and be respectful but not mourn to the point that we can’t celebrate the opportunities and doors opened that their bravery provided us.

This chocolate cake is AMAZING. Versatile for cupcakes, snack cakes, birthday cakes, trifles, or whatever you like. It’s incredible moist and delicate but holds together very well and is wonderfully flavorful without being overly sweet.

For The Strawberries:

Stem and slice 2 cups of fresh organic strawberries. Sprinkle with 2-3 generous Tablespoons of coconut sugar and set aside stirring occasionally for a few hours. You can also do it the night before and refrigerate them.

For The Coconut Whipped Cream

Pour 2 cups of chilled (overnight) 100% coconut milk  into a stand mixer and attach the whisk. Whisk on high (you may need to cover your mixer with a hand towel) until it thickens to medium peak. Add 2-3 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract and 3-4 Tablespoons of powdered sugar. (You can also use powdered coconut sugar…but your whipped cream will be a tan color. Or, you could add a couple teaspoons of cocoa powder and do chocolate whipped cream.) Continue whisking on high about 2-3 additional minutes until thickened and chill in the fridge until ready to use. Sometimes it will separate just a bit at the bottom after being refrigerated but it doesn’t ruin the consistency or taste of the whipped cream. Just pour it off!

Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake

*This recipe is grain free and dairy free. It will make two 8×8 square pans or two 8 inch cake pans, or 24 cupcakes. For this recipe I did the 8×8 pans and stuck one in the freezer for later use. One 8×8 pan yields 9 servings.

*This recipe is adapted from Satisfying Eats

Preheat oven to 350° line two 8×8 inch square pans with parchment and spray with coconut oil. 

1 Cup of Organic Coconut Flour

3/4 Cup of Organic Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

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

8 Organic Eggs

1/2 Cup of Earth Balance Soy Free Dairy Free Butter

2 Tablespoons of Pure Vanilla Extract

1 Cup + 1/2 Cup of Organic Full Fat Coconut Milk (set 1/2 cup aside)

1 Tablespoon of Decaf Instant Coffee

1/4 Cup of Dairy Free Chocolate Chips or Chopped Dairy Free Dark Chocolate

Add the dry ingredients to a stand mixing bowl and whisk together. Add the coffee to the coconut milk and stir to dissolve. Add the eggs, butter, vanilla, and 1 Cup of the coconut coffee milk. Mix on medium to blend well, scraping down sides. Let the batter rest for 5 minutes. Add the 1/2 Cup of coconut milk  and mix on medium just until combined.

Bake for 25-27  minutes. Cool completely before serving.

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