Monday, September 30, 2019

Peanut Butter Walnut Blondies

Peanut Butter Walnut Blondies

     I am a blondie person, my sister is a brownie person. I appreciate brownies but I have always preferred my soft and gooey treats sans chocolate. My sister likes to experiment with many different brownie recipes. Right now she is on the hunt for the best paleo brownie. I decide to join in on her experiment, but make mine blondies. I love adding walnuts to baked goods. One of my favorite desserts of all time is the Walnut Maple Blondie from Applebee's. Super fancy, I know. I haven't been able to have that treat in seven years, but I still think about it! They bring out the blondie sizzling on a small cast iron skillet and top it with vanilla ice cream and a warm maple sauce. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
      I may try to recreate that dessert one day, but for now these dairy free, gluten free, refined sugar free blondies are a great replacement for me. They have that soft texture I was looking for and taste great with a scoop of dairy free ice cream on top! If you have some whipped maple butter from Trader Joe's on hand I bet that would be wonderful drizzled on top!


- 1 egg
- 1 cup organic peanut butter oil free ( I used Simple Truth brand from Kroger the only ingredients are peanuts and salt )
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 cup chopped walnuts


1) Pre-heat oven to 350.

2) Use parchment paper to line an 8x8 pan.

3) In a large bowl crack the egg and whisk well. Add the peanut butter, maple syrup, sea salt, baking soda and stir until ingredients are well combined.

4) Gently fold in the chopped walnuts.

5) Pour the batter into the lined baking dish. The batter will be thick so you will need to spread it with a spatula until it is even.

6) Bake for 18-20 minus until the top is golden brown. Allow the blondies to cool completely before cutting or removing from pan or they will start to crumble.

Place blondies in an air tight container or cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to 5 days. I think they taste best right out of the fridge with a  little scoop of dairy free ice cream on top!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Game Day Taco Soup

Game Day Taco Soup

      When my husband and I were first married we became the unofficial hosts in our family for all the Nebraska Cornhusker football games. I thought it was so fun to have both sets of our parents and occasionally other family members over for football games. I love cooking and hosting, so I had fun planning menus and making food everyone would enjoy! This recipe, which is from my mother-in-law, has to make an appearance every year for a game day. As soon as the weather is barely cool enough for chili my husband requests it.
     A lot has changed since I first started hosting game day at my house. We have a lot more dietary restrictions in our family, but most people can still eat this soup without the toppings. My sister, her husband and three boys usually come over for the game also so it's very loud! I also have become a little more relaxed with what I serve. I like to make things that can be finished cooking when we are ready to eat so that I don't have to spend the whole game in the kitchen. Even though this recipe is fairly simple it really is a delicous taco soup or chili.

Game Day Taco Soup
serves 6-8 


- 1 pound ground beef

- 1 envelope taco seasoning or homemade taco seasoning 
(I use homemade so that it's gluten free, recipe is at the end of the post)

-15 oz tomato sauce

- 1 jar medium pace picante (I know there are better salsas out there but trust me on this one, the peppers and onions in the sauce add so much to this and medium is the perfect spiciness without being too spicy once all the other ingredients are added!)

-2-3 cans reduced sodium black beans drained and rinsed ( I add more depending on how many people are coming over)

-1 30 oz can chili beans ( or use two 15 oz if you can't find a 30 oz)

-1 cup water 

Homemade taco seasoning if not using a package seasoning

1 TBSP chili powder 
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp parsley 
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt ( for tacos I use a whole tsp but I don't want to soup to be too salty)


1) Brown the ground beef in a large pan 

2) Add the taco seasoning and 1 cup of water to the pan and simmer for a minute to incorporate 

3) Pour the ground beef, tomato sauce, pace picante sauce, black beans,  and chili beans into a large crock pot

3) Cover the crock pot and cook on low for 5-6 hours until ready to serve

4) Top the taco soup with sour cream and cheese, we like to serve it with Fritos! 

I took a picture of the products I use to make the soup, I found all of these at Target. 

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Grain Free Naturally Sweetened Banana Muffins

Grain Free Naturally Sweetened Banana Muffins


     These muffins have no sugar, sweetener, or artificial sweetener added! They are subtly sweet and good for those who have cut sugar out of their diet but really miss a baked good. Judah loved these when he was a baby. I will admit he still likes them but since he has experienced a real muffin he prefers his with a little jelly or nut butter on it. I love how easy these muffins are to make and have on hand for snacks or a quick breakfast in the morning. I like to cut them in half and add peanut butter. I have been known to take them along in a bag for a snack when I'm running errands. This recipe is based on the Banana Bread Muffin Recipe from Wellness Mama. I found that the addition of a little nut butter helps them to have a better texture and crumb!

 Grain Free Naturally Sweetened Banana Muffins


- 2 very ripe bananas
- 1/4 cup melted or very soft coconut oil
- 5 eggs
- 1/4 cup peanut butter or other nut butter
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 cup coconut flour
-1 tsp vanilla extract ( optional just adds little flavor)


1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray a 12 count muffin tin with cooking spray or fill with muffin liners

2) In a large bowl ( if you are using an immersion blender) or a blender add all ingredients and blend until batter is very smooth and well mixed, about 30 seconds.

3) Pour batter evenly into all 12 muffin cups

4) Bake for 13-16 minutes until tops begin to brown and the muffins are set ( in my oven 15 minutes is the perfect amount)

5) Allow to cool completely before serving for better texture, serve with nut butter, jelly, or honey! I think they taste best cold right out of the fridge!

A few notes:
These are coconut flour based so will have a different texture than most regular flour muffins.

Since there are no added sweeteners the sweetness of the muffins depends on how ripe your bananas are! Make sure they are VERY ripe with a lot of black spots! If you are used to eating sugar these will most likely not satisfy your craving for a muffin, but for those with diet restrictions they are a wonderful option and really satisfying!

Store in an airtight container or bag in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

recipe adapted from

Monday, September 16, 2019

Game Day Crock Pot or Instant Pot Sausage and Peppers

Game Day Crock Pot Sausage and Peppers

     Every summer when we would visit my grandparents in Kansas City my mom would take us to a little Italian bakery and restaurant called Mario's where they served meatball and sausage sandwiches called grinders. She grew up eating them and taught us to love them too! This reminds me of those sandwiches. The flavor of the sauce is so complex even though it only has a few ingredients, most of the flavor comes from the dish cooking all day in the slow cooker with the sausages. I like to serve this on Rotella's Hoagie Buns ( I use gluten free hot dog buns for those who need gluten free) and with cheese for those who can have it that way. The leftovers are also good over gluten free pasta. This dish has become a game day staple the past few years in our home when we have family over to watch the Husker football games. I like that you can get all the prep work and mess out of the way before guests come and they are greeted with the delicious smell of onion, garlic, and peppers cooking all day when they walk in the door!

Serves 6-8 depending on size of hunger

* 12 mild Italian Sausage Links ( I have used Kroger brand, Fresh Thyme, and Johnsonville)
* 1 TBSP olive oil ( may need more)
* 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
* 15 oz can tomato sauce
* 1 yellow onion cut into thin slices
* 3 red peppers sliced into strips
* 3 garlic cloves minced
* 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
* salt and pepper
* 1 tsp dried basil
* 1 tsp dried parsley


1. In a large crock pot empty the crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce

2. In a large skillet over medium heat add 1/2 tbsp of the olive oil and six of the sausages. Brown the sausages on all sides, about a minute or two per side. They do not need to be cooked through as they will cook in the slow cooker. The browning adds flavor and a better texture! Once browned place in the crock pot. Repeat the browning process with the remaining sausages and then place them in the crock pot.

3. Add the onions to the already heated skillet, add more olive oil if needed. Cook the onions for 4 minutes or until they start to brown. Season with a salt and pepper and then place in the crock pot.

4. Add the red bell peppers to the skillet and cook for 5 minutes until soft, add the garlic the last minute and then add the cooked peppers and garlic to the crock pot.

5.  Add the red pepper flakes, dried basil, and parsley to the crock pot and stir gently until the ingredients are well incorporated.

6. Cook on low for 6 hours. The sausages will be very tender and might even start to fall apart!

7. Serve on toasted buns with Mozzarella cheese or over pasta!

For the Instant pot:
Skip direction 1 and follow directions 2-4 on the saute function of the instant pot browning the sausages and removing them, browning the peppers and onions and removing them also.
Combine all the rest of the ingredients for the sauce and add all of the peppers, onions, and nestle the sausages back into the instant pot. 

Cook on manual for 20 minutes, release pressure and then serve!


Recipe adapted from

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Fennel Spiced Chicken Nuggets

Fennel Spiced Chicken Nuggets
     I have a confession. I really, really disliked fennel until about two weeks ago. I would search grocery stores for Italian sausage that didn't contain it. If a restaurant had fennel listed on the menu I avoided that dish. There aren't many foods or spices I dislike but for some reason the licorice type smell of it was not appealing to me. Right now I'm very limited in what spices I can use due to some health issues. My beloved onion, garlic, chili powder, and black pepper have had to retire. 
     I decided to give fennel another chance, maybe I would like it now that all my spicy foods that I lived off of were no longer an option, and anything had to taste better than chicken just seasoned with salt. I bought a high quality dried whole fennel seed and decided to make chicken nuggets using it. They were DELICIOUS! I LOVE fennel now! I like to make a batch of these to have on hand for lunches for the week, or even as a high protein snack. They reheat well in the air fryer or microwave and go well with gluten free pasta or potatoes! I like to dip them in dairy free pesto or tahini. 

Fennel Spiced Chicken Nuggets

1 pound ground chicken
1 tsp salt
1 egg well beaten
1 TBSP coconut flour
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 1/2 tsp dried whole fennel seed divided (half will go on top)
olive oil or olive oil cooking spray


Preheat oven to 400 degrees

1. In a large bowl crack the egg and whisk with a fork until the yolk and white are well mixed

2. Add the ground chicken, salt, coconut flour, dried basil, and 1tsp dried fennel, mix until ingredient are well incorporated

3. Using a large cookie scoop or tablespoon portion the meat mixture into balls and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper

4. Using the back of a fork gently press each mound of chicken down to flatten

5. Spray each chicken nugget lightly with 100% olive oil cooking spray or use a pastry brush to brush olive oil on each nugget

6. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 tsp of fennel seed on top of the nuggets

7. Bake for 7 minutes, take out of the oven and flip the nuggets over and bake for another 7-10 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165


A few notes
* The coconut flour and egg are optional but I have found that adding them to chicken makes the nuggets stay together and the coconut flour absorbs extra juices from the chicken as they bake making for a better texture. I have made them without coconut flour and I end up with a pan of chicken juices. ha ha
* You can use this base recipe and add whatever spices you like! If you don't like fennel you can use something else!
* Adding the fennel to the top makes these have an extra roasted fennel taste!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Cookies (egg free!)

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Cookies 

     When I was testing this recipe I forgot that when you mix sunbutter and baking soda together in a cookie the cookies will turn green from the chlorophyll in the sunflower seeds in the sunbutter. My first batch of cookies I made were green! They tasted really good, smelled like fall, but the color didn't scream pumpkin spice. I decided to leave the baking soda out the second time around and they made a much more appealing cookie! These pumpkin spice cookies are slightly sweet, have the fall spices we all love, but the sunbutter gives them a melt in your mouth texture and holds the cookies together without the use of eggs! 

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Cookies
Makes 10-12 depending on size


-1 cup oats
-1/2 cup canned pumpkin
-1/4 cup sunbutter (you can also use almond butter or cashew but peanut butter overpowers the spices)
-1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
-1/4 tsp sea salt
-3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice ( If you want a stronger pumpkin spice flavor add a whole tsp)


1. Pre-heat oven to 350
2. In a large bowl combine oats, pumpkin, sunbutter, maple syrup, sea salt, and pumpkin pie spice
3. Stir ingredients until well incorporated
4. Using a large cookie scoop or tablespoon scoop the cookie batter onto a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper
5. Push each cookie slightly down with your hand or the back of a spatula (cookies will not spread so this step is important unless you want round cookies!)
6. Bake cookies for 13-15 minutes until they are brown on the bottom
Allow cookies to cool completely before removing them from the pan or they may break.