One treat my sisters and I loved when we were little were what we referred to as “pie crust cookies.” Whenever my mom was making pies with a homemade oil pastry crust, we would use the leftover dough to spread with cinnamon and sugar and use cookie cutters to cut out shapes to bake into little cookies. We loved them so much we would often whip up a batch of oil pastry dough just to make into cookies, no pie crusts needed.

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This is a tradition that I’ve continued into my own home. I don’t make pies often, but in the winter I love a good homemade chicken pot pie. I would top the pie with my homemade oil pastry crust dough and bake the leftover bits into pie crust cookies, just like old times. After going gluten-free, I tried substituting different gf flour mixes into my regular pie crust recipe, but each turned out too crumbly or hard to roll out. Lately, I’ve really been craving some fresh strawberries with some homemade shortcrust cookies, so I experimented with different recipes and tweaks until I came up with one I liked. I haven’t tried baking this recipe into an actual pie crust, but I’m sure it would work great for that too.

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Gluten-free Strawberry Shortcrust


For the shortcrust:
– 1/2 cup brown rice flour
– 1/2 cup white rice flour
– 1/4 cup cornstarch
– 1 Tbsp turbinado sugar
– 1/8 tsp xanthan gum
– 1/8 tsp sea salt
– 6 Tbsp cold butter, cubed
– 1 small egg
– 2 Tbsp water

For the topping:
– turbinado sugar
– cinnamon

For serving:
– Fresh strawberries, sliced
– honey


1. In food processor, mix dry ingredients (brown rice flour, white rice flour, cornstarch, sugar, xanthan gum, salt).
2. Add cubed butter and pulse until crumbly.
3. Add egg, mix until combined, then add water and mix until combined.
4. Remove dough from food processor, roll into a ball, and wrap in plastic wrap.
5. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour.
6. When ready to bake, roll out chilled dough between two sheets of wax paper.
7. Transfer dough to baking sheet, spread with cinnamon & sugar mixture, and cut into squares.
8. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
9. Serve whole or crumbled with sliced strawberries that have been tossed with honey.


One of my favorite things to make with over-ripe bananas is banana bread. Back in my gluten-eating days, I had a delicious recipe that I always used. Now that I’m gluten-free (and cutting other things like processed oils and sugar out of my diet), this is my new go-to recipe. It is jam-packed with delicious ingredients and makes for one pretty healthy banana bread. Hope you enjoy!

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Healthy Banana Bread (gluten-free)
recipe adapted from this one

-1 1/2 cups mashed over-ripe bananas (about 4 bananas)
-1/2 cup honey (or maple syrup)
-3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
-2 eggs
-1 teaspoon vanilla
-1 1/2 cup oats, ground in food processor (a little more coarse than actual oat flour)
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-3/4 teaspoon baking soda
-1 teaspoon baking powder
-1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
-1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
-1/4 cup flaxseeds (whole or slightly ground)
-1/3 cup shredded coconut
-1 to 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts
-1/2 cup chocolate chips

1. Grease one large 9×5″ loaf pan and preheat the oven to 350º F.
2. In a large bowl, stir together first 5 ingredients (mashed bananas, honey, applesauce, eggs and vanilla).
3. In a separate bowl, combine the ground oats, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, flaxseeds, and coconut. Add to the wet ingredients.
4. Fold in the nuts and chocolate chips.
5. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake about one hour and fifteen minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean or with a few crumbs attached.
6. Let cool slightly and enjoy!

One of Drew and I’s favorite homemade weekend breakfasts include pancakes and crispy bacon. I had a good homemade pancake recipe down pat that I had used for several years, then I found out I needed to eat gluten-free. I’ve tried a ton of  GF pancake recipes since then and this one is one of my favorites. These pancakes really have a delicious, sweet, nutty flavor all on their own, but are great topped with maple syrup as well. They are fluffy, but also really filling, and are so much better than normal gluten pancakes, in my opinion. One thing I also love about this recipe is that it uses pretty basic GF ingredients that I always keep on hand (pecans, oats, brown rice flour) rather than a million different flours or expensive all-purpose GF flour mix.

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Maple Pecan Pancakes (gluten-free)

Recipe adapted from original, here. Makes about 6 normal-sized (but very filling) pancakes.

-1/2 cup chopped pecans
-1/2 cup oat flour (you can use store-bought or pulse oats in food processor until it forms a flour)
-1/2 cup brown rice flour
-1 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-1/2 tsp salt
-3/4 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
-1 large egg
-2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
-1 Tablespoon water

1. In a food processor, pulse chopped pecans until they form a course, meal-like consistency. (Don’t pulse too long or you’ll end up with pecan butter/paste!)
2. In large bowl, mix pecan meal with oat flour, brown rice flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3. In smaller bowl, stir together egg, sour cream/yogurt, maple syrup, and water.
4. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix well.
5. Scoop about 1/4 cup batter out for each pancake onto heated, buttered, pancake griddle or skillet.
6. Cook several minutes on each side, until done.


P.S. Best and Easiest Way to Cook Crispy Bacon

As I stated yesterday in my post about Portland, I absolutely fell in love with Tula Gluten-Free Bakery and their Lemon Ricotta Muffins. So delicious. I just couldn’t live without them. So as soon as I was back home, I looked into making my own. Luckily, I found this recipe from With Style and Grace blog (one of my favorite gluten free blogs!) and it did not disappoint. She was also inspired by Tula Bakery.

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This recipe adds blueberries which are a great addition! I love the lemon and blueberry together and the ricotta makes the muffins dense and moist and just so good! If you are a muffin lover (which I definitely am! I grew up making blueberry muffins all the time!), then you must try this recipe!

Blueberry Lemon Ricotta Muffins (Gluten-Free)

makes 12 muffins, recipe originally from here 


-1 3/4 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour (I ran out and substituted part gluten-free flour mix and part organic local brown rice flour and a little xanthan gum and they turned out great. If you aren’t gluten-free, you could also use regular wheat flour.)
3/4 cup sugar (I used local organic raw cane sugar, but you could also use turbinado sugar or granulated white sugar if you must.)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
zest of 3 lemons
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2-3/4 cup fresh blueberries
Turbinado sugar for topping


1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a well in center.
2. In a separate bowl, combine ricotta, water, lemon juice, olive oil, lemon zest, vanilla extract and egg.
3. Add the wet to dry mixture and stir just until moist.
4. Grease muffin cups or add liners to muffin cups.
5. Fill each muffin cup half way. Add about 4-5 blueberries to each and then top it off until it’s about 3/4 or all the way full. Sprinkle turbinado sugar over the muffins.
6. Bake in a 375° oven for 16-20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
7. Cool 5 minutes in pan on a wire rack.
8. Enjoy!

I’m back for the second day in a row! I just couldn’t wait to share this cookie recipe, it is just SO good!


I’ve baked a lot of different recipes of chocolate chip cookies and these by far are the absolute best. I dare you to try them. You won’t want to go back to another cookie recipe after tasting these!

New York Times Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes about 18 large cookies
recipe found here, originally from here.


2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds chocolate chips (My favorite are Ghirardelli chocolate chips and I use half semi-sweet, half milk chocolate)
Sea salt


1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
2. In a mixer, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.
3. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds.
4. Stir in chocolate chips.
5. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours. **The chilling step is very important! It will lead to a much better cookie!!**
6. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
7. Scoop dough into 3 1/2 ounce balls (the size of generous golf balls) and place onto baking sheets.
8. Sprinkle dough balls lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes.
9. Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a little longer.
10. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day.


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These cookies are big! Here is my hand in comparison. That is one of the secrets to them though. They are big enough that the outside can get a little crunchy, but the inside still stays a little soft and gooey. Perfect combination if you ask me.

***And for those of you that are wondering, yes I am still sticking to the health plan that I talked about before, so no I can’t eat more than a bite of these since they contain both gluten/flours and white sugar. I’ve been doing great and feeling so much better since starting that health plan. When Drew and I started it at the beginning of January, we boxed up all the wheat/sugar/processed food products in our pantry that we couldn’t eat. They have been sitting in our hallway since then unused and we weren’t sure what to do with them. It is a lot of stuff, so I didn’t want to just throw it away. The last few weekends we have been invited to get-togethers where we had to bring a dish to share, so we’ve been putting all that stuff we can’t eat to good use feeding other people! Drew made these cookies to take to a Craft Beer Bottleshare he went to tonight. Hope the boys like them!

My husband’s mom and dad have been in New Orleans visiting us for the past week. We’ve been busy doing all kinds of things around the city and traveling to other places close-by (we took a day trip to Grand Isle and spent the 4th of July on the beach in Gulf Shores). Today was my mother-in-law’s birthday and also their last day here before they head home in the morning, so Drew and I decided that we would make them dinner and bake his mom a birthday cake.

I actually had never baked a cake from scratch before. I’ve always wanted to, but just never really had the chance. I’m not a huge cake baker (I’m more of a cookie and other dessert person– cake isn’t my dessert of choice). It is usually just Drew and I here, so baking an entire cake on any normal day would mean that the two of us have an entire cake to eat. I don’t like wasting food, so I usually stick to baking cookies, that way we can only cook how many we will eat then, and then freeze the rest to bake later. (I have helped my mom bake many cakes before though!)

So, I did some searching online to find the best cake recipe that sounded like something Susie would like. As soon as I stumbled across this cake with “praline” in the title, I knew I had found the right one. How perfect to make a chocolate praline cake for her birthday being celebrated in New Orleans?! (Which is famous for its pralines, in case you didn’t know.)

This cake turned out amazing. It was delicious! So very rich and the praline topping was fantastic! Susie said it tasted like a candy bar! I will definitely be making this cake again. New birthday cake tradition, perhaps?

Chocolate Praline Cake

original recipe from here.


1/2 cup Butter (1 stick)
1 cup Brown Sugar
1 can (14 ounces) Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 cup Chopped Pecans
2 cups All-Purpose Flour
3/4 cup Unsweetened Cocoa
2 cups Granulated Sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Salt
2 large Eggs
1 cup Sour Cream
1/2 cup Canola Oil
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon White Vinegar
1 cup hot Water
1/2 cup Fudge Topping
1/2 cup Chocolate Chips, melted
Chocolate Icing


To make the cake:
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottoms of two 9-inch round cake pans and fit a circle of parchment paper large enough to cover 1 inch up the side of each cake pan.
2. Heat the butter, brown sugar, and sweetened condensed milk in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat until the butter melts and the sugar is dissolved. Do not boil.
3. Divide the sugar mixture between the prepared pans. Sprinkle 3/4 cup pecans over sugar mixture and set aside to cool.
4. In a large bowl, combine together the flour, cocoa, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
5. In a smaller bowl, combine the eggs, sour cream, oil, vanilla, vinegar, and hot water.
6. Mix wet ingredients into dry with a wooden spoon until batter is smooth.
7. Pour the batter into the cake pans — over sugar mixture — and bake until a wooden skewer inserted into the cake center comes out clean — 35 to 40 minutes.
8. Cool cakes in the pans for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pans and turn cakes out onto a cooling rack. Remove the paper and cool completely.

To assemble the cake:
1. Place bottom cake layer on plate or cake stand with the praline sugar mixture side facing up.
2. Spread the fudge topping over the praline sugar mixture side of bottom cake layer.
3. Place the second layer over the first and drizzle the top with the melted chocolate and the remaining 1/4 cup pecans.
4. Frost the cake sides with your favorite chocolate icing.


P.S. — The chocolate cake this recipe makes is really excellent. I’ll definitely be using this recipe as my go-to chocolate cake recipe for when I’m making just a plain chocolate cake as well! 🙂

When I was 14, I moved to St. Louis, MO for the summer to live with my older sister and be a nanny to my baby niece, Evie. Often on Saturday mornings, we would get up and go walk around and get fresh produce from the Soulard farmers market. I have many fond memories of that summer, farmers market included.

Just a couple weekends ago, Drew and I tried out the Saturday farmers market in New Orleans. I had wanted to go for a while, we just hadn’t because it is downtown, not close to our house, and only open for a couple hours on Saturday morning. Saturday morning is Drew’s day to sleep in and then get fresh croissants from the Patisserie upon waking at 2 in the afternoon. 😉 It was much smaller than I expected (not anything like I remember from St. Louis), but it was definitely worth waking up earlier for.

We ended up with a bouquet of fresh cut zinnias, creole tomatoes, fresh peaches, blueberries and several pots of fresh herbs to plant in our windowbox. Everything we bought was delicious. It so makes me miss living in the country and having a garden! For the city, it’s the next best thing.

With all the fresh blueberries we have, I’ve made blueberry walnut muffins with fresh lemon zest several times the last two weeks! So delicious! This muffin recipe is really great. My mom always uses this recipe too and it can easily be adapted for whatever kind of muffins you want to make.

blueberry walnut muffins with fresh lemon zest (or whatever kind you want to make)


-1 3/4 cup flour
-1/3 cup sugar
-2 tsp baking powder
-1/4 tsp salt
-3/4 cup milk
-1/4 cup oil
-1 beaten egg

for blueberry/walnut/lemon:
-3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
-1/2 cup chopped walnuts (I like nuts, so I usually use closer to 1 cup)
-fresh zest from 1 lemon (or less, according to taste)

for banana/nut:
-reduce milk above to 1/2 cup
-3/4 cup mashed bananas
-1/2 cup chopped walnuts or other nuts (again I use more like 1 cup)

for cinnamon/peach:
-3/4 cup diced peaches
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1/2 tsp nutmeg (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin cups.
2. Mix dry ingredients together.
3. Mix wet ingredients together in separate bowl.
4. Add wet ingredients into dry and add in fruit/nut mix-ins. Stir just until moistened. Batter should be lumpy.
**Important–do not overmix your muffin dough or your muffins won’t be as fluffy and will have a tougher texture.
5. Fill greased muffin cups 2/3 full.
6. Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees.


P.S. Don’t those peaches look fabulous in that yellow bowl? I love that bright sunny pop of yellow in the kitchen! That bowl, along with the rest of its set in different colors, was a wedding gift from my friend, Jessica. Love them! 🙂

This past weekend, Drew, my friend Jessica, and I were busy working on a craft project for the wedding. While we were working, I made these brownies for us to snack on. My mom used to make these and it had been so long since I had had them. They are delicious!

The Most Amazing Brownies

-one box fudge brownie mix (including oil & eggs, per package directions)
-1 jar marshmallow creme
-1 cup peanut butter
-1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (I prefer a mix of milk chocolate and semi-sweet, but whatever your preference is)
-1 Tbsp butter
-2 cups crisp rice cereal

1. Mix up your brownie mix according to the package directions. Bake as directed, using a 9×13 pan.
2. Let cool completely, then spread marshmallow creme on top of brownie layer.
3. In a saucepan, melt butter, peanut butter, and chocolate chips.
4. Add in crisp rice cereal and mix well.
5. Spread chocolate/peanut butter coated cereal on top of marshmallow creme layer.
6. Enjoy! (P.S. The brownies cut nicer if refrigerated until chilled before cutting.)

These really are the perfect mixture of gooey, soft and crunchy! So delicious!

P.S. In completely unrelated to brownie news, our wedding is exactly 2 months away today!!! It is getting so close! I’m so excited! 🙂

***Thank you all for your kind thoughts and prayers for my hometown last week after the tornado they went through. Please continue to keep them in your hearts as they mourn those lost and as they pick up the pieces to re-build their homes and lives.***

While doing our grocery shopping last week, we spotted a good deal on a flat of strawberries.

Lately I’d been craving some homemade strawberry jam, so I figured what better an opportunity to make some. Growing up, my mom always had a container of strawberry freezer jam in the fridge and several more in the freezer. It’s just so delicious!

The main difference between freezer jam and your regular canned jam, is that freezer jam is much quicker and easier without all the specificity of the canning process and the jam tastes much more like fresh strawberries than with regular canned jam (which tastes more like cooked strawberries). Although, of course, since it isn’t canned and pressure sealed, it must be stored in the fridge or freezer.

It is super simple to make. Just pick up a box of fruit pectin at the grocery store (in the canning aisle) that looks like this:

Inside, you will find a whole little booklet with recipes for every kind of jam or jelly you could think of.

Regardless of which kind you choose to make, you will need containers for your jam. My mom always used small plastic containers, but I don’t like how plastic can crack after its been in the freezer for a while, so I got glass jelly jars (make sure they say freezer safe).

I ended up making two batches since I had so many strawberries (although now I have enough jam to last me the rest of my life) and in my experience, one batch of strawberry jam will fill twelve, 4 oz jelly jars and one 8 oz jelly jar, or if you use all 8 oz jars, it will fill six with a tiny bit leftover. And yes, that does mean that I now have twelve small jars of jam and 7 bigger jars of jam. If you live in the New Orleans area and are fresh out of jam, no worries, I will gladly give you some.

Anyway, here is how you make it:

Strawberry Freezer Jam

2 pt. strawberries, crushed (equal to 2 cups)
4 cups sugar
1 box fruit pectin
3/4 cup water

1. Wash and rinse containers. Make sure you have tight fitting lids.

2. Discard strawberry stems. Crush strawberries, either using a potato masher or a food processor (do not puree!), you want small chunks of fruit.

3. Measure fruit into large bowl. Stir in sugar and mix well. (exact amounts! substitutions will result in set failures) Let strawberry/sugar mixture sit for 10 minutes.

4. Stir pectin and water in small saucepan. Bring to a boil on high heat, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute, continuing to stir constantly. Remove from heat.

5. Stir pectin mixture into fruit/sugar mixture. Stir constantly until sugar is completely dissolved and no longer grainy, about 3 minutes.

6. Pour into prepared containers, leaving 1/2 of space at the top for expansion during freezing. Cover.

7. Let stand at room temperature 24 hours until set.

8. Refrigerate up to 3 weeks or store in freezer for up to 1 year. Thaw in refrigerator.


P.S. It was great on my almond flour biscuits!

Yes, you read that right. Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies. Healthy as in, no sugar, definitely no nasty sugar substitutes, no flour, no eggs and no butter. You can make these completely vegan and also gluten free.

Really. Plus they taste really awesome. You can eat a few and not even feel guilty. You should try it. 🙂


3 large, ripe bananas, well mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut oil, barely warm – so it isn’t solid (or alternately, olive oil or grapeseed oil)
2 cups rolled oats
2/3 cup almond meal
1/3 cup coconut, finely shredded & unsweetened
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 – 7 ounces chocolate chips or dark chocolate bar chopped


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl combine the bananas, vanilla extract, and coconut oil. Set aside. In another bowl whisk together the oats, almond meal, shredded coconut, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined. Fold in the chocolate chunks/chips. Scoop dough with a cookie scoop or drop in dollops onto a cookie sheet, an inch apart. Bake for about 13-15 minutes, watching closely. They might be done a bit sooner depending on your oven and the size of your cookies.


If you want to make these completely gluten free, make sure that you buy gluten free oats– that weren’t processed along with flour products. I used milk chocolate chips, but if you want to make them completely vegan, use chocolate without milk in it. I bought almond flour at the grocery store in the organic aisle, but if you can make your own almond meal by pulsing almonds in a food processor until they are the texture of sand – but be really careful and don’t go too far or you’ll end up with almond butter.

Oh, and definitely make sure that your bananas are very ripe. I got so excited about these cookies that the first time I made them I went to the store, got bananas, and made them that night while the bananas were still a tiny bit yellow-green. Yeah, don’t do that. Since the bananas are the sweetener, they will taste nasty if the bananas aren’t sweet enough. Now every time I make them I wait until the bananas are really overripe–almost completely black on the outside–that will give you the sweetest cookies.

original recipe from here.