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A recipe post, FINALLY!  As I promised earlier, here’s one of many recipes that I want to share.  My all time favorite cookie is oatmeal raisin and I think that this version is a pretty decent alternative.  It’s not grain free since it has quinoa in it but I think the quinoa lends more flavor than a boring oat.  I have been using a basic cookie recipe and changing the add-ins based on the flavor I want and this came out of that.  I will share the basic cookie dough recipe, and a chocolate chip version, in a future post.



Quinoa Raisin Cookies

Makes about 30 cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened (or coconut oil)

1 cup coconut sugar (or 1/2 cup coconut sugar, 1/2 up Zsweet)

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups almond meal or blanched almond flour

1 cup quinoa flakes

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup raisins

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together and set aside.
  3. Cream butter and sugar together.
  4. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
  5. Add dry ingredients to the butter mixture and beat well.
  6. Fold in raisins.
  7. Drop by the teaspoonful onto cookie sheet, flatten slightly, and bake for 8 to 10 minutes.
  8. Let cool for 10 minutes before moving to cookie rack.

Compared to some of my other recipes, this uses more sweetener.  I have played around with both the amount of sweetener and the form.  I’ve tried more coconut sugar but it was way too sweet.  I’ve tried less and paired it with stevia and didn’t like that combo much either.  The flavor and sweetness were fine but the texture was not the same.  Of course, the raisins are plenty sweet themselves so the cookies will still turn out if you cut the sugar by one-third or half.  Another note is that this recipe works well with either blanched almond flour or natural almond meal.  I ran out of almond flour and have been using Trader Joe’s almond meal and they bake equally well.  If you play around with the recipe, let me know how it works out for you.


This is one of my favorite cookies courtesy of the Barefoot Contessa.  It’s sweet, buttery, and crispy and so, so good.  I’ve been making it for years now, usually around the holidays, but it’s good any time of the year, really.  Like when you’ve scrubbed the floors and washed the dishes and wished you have one more thing to do, bake these.  The dough itself doesn’t require eggs and comes together very easily.  I didn’t mess with the recipe too much other than to switch out the flour and size the recipe down a bit.  I normally make it with fruit-sweetened raspberry and apricot jams but this time opted for a fig preserve.  Mmm…

Jam Thumbprint Cookies

Makes 24 cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup Zsweet

1/4 teaspoon stevia

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups blanched almond flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

3/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut

Jam of choice

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar then add the vanilla.
  3. Combine the almond flour and salt and add it to the butter and sugar.
  4. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls.
  5. Dip each ball into the egg wash and roll it in coconut.
  6. Place the balls on cookie sheet and press a light indentation into the top of each with your thumb.
  7. Drop 1/4 teaspoon of jam into each indentation.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes, until the coconut is a golden brown.
  9. Make a cup of tea and eat some jammy cookies.

Unlike the original recipe, I did not chill the dough before baking, I just proceeded to form the cookies and bake.  I didn’t notice any difference from skipping this step but if your dough gets too soft, it will probably help to stick it in the fridge.  Also, when pressing the center of the cookie with your thumb, be careful to make a well without any cracks, or you may end up with jam escaping the center during baking.  Enjoy!

This cake came about when I was on Amazon searching for a patio umbrella.  Makes total sense, I know.  As most of my searches turn out, I take massive detours and end up at an entirely different place than I had intended.  I found myself at This Is So Good… and realized I had all the ingredients for this pound cake.  Off to the kitchen I went and an hour later, tada, I had pound cake.  Except it’s not really a “pound” cake.  There isn’t a pound of anything in it and the texture is quite moist and spongy, not at all like a traditional pound cake.  For a coconut flour recipe, this has relatively few eggs and lots of liquid, which I think account for how moist the cake is.  But it’s good and not too sweet.  The fresh cranberries are pretty tart and I prefer them here over the dried, sweetened version. I had a slice right after it cooled but I think the flavors would be even better after a day or two.

Cranberry Orange Pound Cake (adapted from This Is So Good)

Makes one 8 1/2 x 4 3/8 loaf

5 eggs

1 cup coconut milk

1/2 cup butter, melted

2/3 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon stevia

1 cup coconut flour, sifted

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

zest of one orange

1 cup fresh cranberries

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease loaf pan.
  2. Mix wet ingredients together.
  3. Combine dry ingredients with the orange zest in a separate bowl.
  4. Add dry ingredients to the wet and beat well.
  5. Stir in fresh cranberries and pecans, reserving a small handful of each.
  6. Pour batter in loaf pan and artfully sprinkle remaining cranberries and pecans on top.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Let cool to room temperature before slicing.

In the middle of the photography session, my kid decided that she could wait not a second longer and went for it.  That’s why you see her pudgy mitt in the picture.  Oh, well.  I still don’t have a patio umbrella but at least now I can eat cake while I keep shopping 🙂

I made a cake the other day with the ripening pears on my counter to serve as a quick snack.  It was pretty good but the whole time I was eating it, I thought it needed more pear and less cake.  Pears are plentiful this time of year and whether they are fresh and crunchy or ripe and juicy, they are full of flavor and taste great cooked.  So I decided to change the fruit-to-cake ratio and turn the recipe into one for a cobbler.  Mmm!  The result was lots of chunky, baked fruit with the cinnamony pears and the tart blackberries, and just enough cakey topping to complete the ensemble.  I served this dessert after dinner with my in-laws and parents and no one could tell that it did not contain any wheat.  My dad, who isn’t big on sweets had a second helping.

Pear and Blackberry Cobbler

Makes one 9 x 13 dish


6 pears (8 – 9 cups)

10 ounce bag of frozen blackberries (1.5 cups)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons honey

1/4 teaspoon stevia

2 tablespoons arrowroot

1/3 cup water


2 1/2 cups blanched almond flour

1/4 cup coconut sugar

1/4 teaspoon stevia

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup butter, cold

2 eggs

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter a 9 x 13 baking dish.
  2. Wash, peel and core pears, then cut into 1/2 inch cubes.
  3. Combine pears, blackberries and cinnamon in the baking dish.
  4. Mix honey, stevia, arrowroot, and water together and pour over the fruit.
  5. In food processor, pulse almond flour, coconut sugar, stevia and salt just until combined.
  6. Cube the cold butter and add to processor and pulse to a coarse meal.
  7. Add the eggs and pulse again just until combined.
  8. Spoon the batter over the fruit and smooth slightly.
  9. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until pears and blackberries are bubbly.
  10. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes until the top is golden brown.
  11. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.

The fruit takes center stage in this dessert so not much sweetening is needed.  Either the coconut sugar or the stevia can be omitted if you have really ripe pears.  Other fruit can be used also, like apples or peaches, or any combination of berries.  There’s just something so homey and comforting, though, about baked pears that I’ll keep making it this way for a while.

I can scarcely believe that two weeks has gone by since my last post.  I’m writing this in my hotel room in Portland, OR, with the howling wind and the steady rain outside.  It may seem like the blog has just been sitting idle in that time but it’s hardly been far from my mind.  I’ve been busy with work and business travel and keeping up with home life when I am actually at home that it has kept me from posting new content but my mind is constantly running through various food ideas.  I applaud all of you bloggers, especially the mommy ones, who keep up with fresh and exciting posts.

Being in the Pacific Northwest is really getting me ready for the holidays.  And by being ready I mean, of course, being ready for all the treats of the season.  The weather here is cold (brrrrrr) and it’s driving me to turn into one of the many corner cafes in search of something hot to drink.  Oh, and I have to have something to nibble on as well.  Which brings me to sharing this recipe for a chocolate biscotti inspired by Elana’s Pantry (also featured in her cookbook).  This crunchy cookie, paired with a steaming hot cup of tea, makes a great afternoon reprieve from work, travel, or holiday preparations.

Chocolate Chunk Hazelnut Biscotti

Makes 24 cookies

2 1/2 cups blanched almond flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup Zsweet (or 1/2 teaspoon pure stevia)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 cup hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Combine dry ingredients.
  3. Mix wet ingredients together.
  4. Combine with dry ingredients and mix well.
  5. Fold in the chopped dark chocolate and hazelnuts.
  6. Divide dough into 2 portions and form flattened logs on lined baking sheets.
  7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes then let cool for about 30 minutes.
  8. Cut the biscotti into 1/2 inch slices and lay each cookie on its side on the baking sheets.
  9. Lower oven temperature to 300 degrees F and bake for 15 minutes.
  10. Flip the cookies over and bake for another 15 minutes or until they are dry and no longer soft in the middle.

These are crunchiest when they have cooled but when they are slightly warm, the chocolate is still gooey and melty and crazy good.

So far, I am really enjoying my stay in Portland.  It’s really easy to navigate on foot or with its convenient light rail system.  There are some fantastic restaurants in the downtown area and it’s been fun exploring the Pearl District.  I hope to see some of the Columbia River Gorge and Multnomah Falls, if the rain lets up.  But I will be very happy to go home at the end of the week and get finally back into the kitchen.

When October rolls around and the weather cools, I get a recurring condition for which I have not found a cure: buy-too-much-pumpkinanitis.  I see the displays in the stores and drive by the pumpkin patches and my BTMP flares up and becomes uncontrollable.  I start to collect pumpkins in all forms – fresh, canned; green, orange; jack-o-lanterns and sugar pies.  Then the BTMP spreads and I get the pumpkin cousins – butternut and acorn and kabocha squashes.  I have cans and cans of pumpkin in my pantry and I have cooked squash in my fridge and I’m seriously running out of storage space.  Luckily, I like pumpkin and so does hubby and the munchkin, so I’ve been trying to keep up with the madness and using the orange stuff where I can.

Today, I give you creamy pumpkin custard.  I love custard in all forms and my all time favorite dessert is creme brulee.  This pumpkin custard tastes like a cross between creme brulee and pumpkin pie.  The heavy cream and egg yolks make it rich and smooth and there’s no crust to get in the way.  For another pumpkin recipe, check out my pumpkin biscuits.

Creamy Pumpkin Custard

Makes 6 servings

1 cup pumpkin puree, fresh or canned

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

2/3 cup heavy cream

1 1/3 cup milk or coconut milk

1/2 cup coconut sugar

1/4 teaspoon stevia

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Boil some water for a water bath (or bain-marie if you speaka zee frrrench)
  2. Whisk all ingredients together until smooth.
  3. Divide custard into 6 6-ounce ramekins or oven-safe cups.
  4. Place cups in large baking dish and fill the dish half way with hot water.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes or until center of custard is set and not jiggly.
  6. Let custards cool to room temperature then refrigerate for 2 hours or more.

I don’t know if BTMP is a unique affliction or if there are others out there like me.  If you are prone to hoarding pumpkin, let me know what you do with all that excess squash.  I need more ideas!

Being Chinese, tea drinking is big in my culture.  You drink it boiling hot, strong and straight up.  No sugar, no milk – just tea leaves and burn-your-tongue hot water.  So when I tried chai for the first time, I hated it.  Sure, I used to drink coffee with a ton of cream and would let the white sugar pour into the cup, but milk in tea is just wrong.  Even when the whole boba milk tea craze was in full swing, I just couldn’t get into it.  Every time I tried it, I thought, maybe this time it’ll taste better.  Nope, still don’t like it.

I do like spices, though, and, strangely, love the heady scent of hot chai so I went searching for the same flavors in a different form.  And what I found was this.  Could I actually like chai?  In a cake?

Heck, yeah!

So once I had a recipe to start with, I picked it apart and came up with a version that didn’t include wheat or refined sugar.  This grain-free, gluten-free chai cake is spongy, fragrant and delicious.

Chai Cake

Makes one 8 x 8 square cake or 12 cupcakes

3/4 cup coconut milk, full fat

3 chai tea bags (I used rooibos chai tea)

6 eggs

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1/4 to 1/3 cup honey

1/2 teaspoon stevia

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

3/4 cup almond flour

1/2 cup coconut flour

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease or line cake or muffin pan.
  2. Steep tea bags in coconut milk over low heat for 5 – 10 minutes.
  3. Mix wet ingredients together.  Slowly add tea infused coconut milk.
  4. Mix dry ingredients together.  Combine wet and dry ingredients thoroughly.
  5. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes for 8 x 8 cake or 18 minutes for cupcakes.  Because honey tends to burn, check the cake periodically and adjust the temperature as necessary.

For me, this cake is sweet enough on its own and I don’t normally use frosting.  But I made it over the weekend for my cousin Emma’s baby shower (she’s having a boy next month, yay!!!) and wanted to dress it up for the special occasion.  The honey ginger cream was a perfect fit.  Unlike the original recipe, this version of the frosting lacks the powdered sugar so it will be much softer and will need to be refrigerated if you are not eating it right away.

Honey Ginger Cream

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1/4 cup raw honey

1/2 teaspoon stevia

1/2 teaspoon of fresh ginger, grated

  1. Combine everything and beat until smooth.
  2. Frost after cake has completely cooled.

Final verdict: chai tea = yucky, chai cake = yummy!

I love chocolate.  And I love cake.  And thanks to a clever recipe I found, I can have a grain-free version.  I have made these a few times now and each time I’ve tried these on gluten-lovin’ taste testers, they have no idea that the cupcakes are grain-free.  What’s more is that they are really surprised to learn what the secret ingredient is. 

Beans.  Yep.

This recipe is adapted from one on The Spunky Coconut.  Thanks Kelly!

Grain-Free Chocolate Cupcakes

Makes 12 cupcakes

1 1/2 cups cooked beans (I used garbanzo)

6 eggs

1/2 teaspoon pure stevia extract

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup honey

1/4 cup coconut oil

2 ounces dark chocolate (about half of a chocolate bar, 85% cocoa)

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking soda

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Puree beans, eggs, stevia, vanilla and honey together.
  3. Melt coconut oil and dark chocolate.  Add to other wet ingredients and blend.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and blend again. 
  5. Pour batter into greased or lined muffin tin and bake for 20 minutes.

These were enjoyed all on their own, without adornment, but I am definitely looking for a good chocolate frosting recipe to pair with the cupcakes for the next special occasion.  Since they contain beans, these little cakes are not primal.  But if you’re a fan of Mark’s Daily Apple, you are well aware of the 80/20 principle.  So here’s to the 20!

To aqdequately describe these cookies, I should probably rename them “chocolaty crack” because I cannot stop eating them.  They are addicting.  So much so that when I tasted the original raw cookie version I bought from Whole Foods, I just had to reproduce them.  That and I can’t justify paying the $5 price tag every time I want a cookie.

Because the original version is raw, it wasn’t too hard to figure this recipe out.  Since I am not opposed to cooking my food, I baked the crackers because that was the quickest way to get a finished product.  I could try putting it in the dehydrator next time but I am an instant-gratification kind of gal so that’s not high on the list right now.  These crackers are coconutty, sesame seedy and cocoa-licious. 

Here is the list of ingredients, and my inspiration, from the store bought, raw cookies: Organic Coconut (Unsulphured), Sprouted Organic Sesame Seeds, Organic Date, Raw Organic Agave Nectar, Raw Organic Cacao

Chocolaty Crackers

3/4 cup shredded coconut

1/4 cup sesame seeds

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 medjool dates, pitted

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1.5 tablespoons cocoa powder

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Puree the dates and maple syrup in food processor until a paste forms.  If needed, add a few drops of water to get it going.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse until the dough comes together.  Alternatively, fold everything in by hand.
  4. Roll dough in between two pieces of silpat or parchment paper to 1/8 inch and cut into bite-sized squares or use cookie cutters. 
  5. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes or until crackers feel dry to the touch.  Crackers will continue to crisp up as they cool on the sheet.

This chocolaty crack never lasts more than a day so I’m not sure what their true shelf life would be.  They can get a little soft and chewy the next day so if that happens, either pop them in the oven for a few minutes or enjoy the different texture.

I love chocolate – dark chocolate that is.  There are probably people out there who don’t like chocolate but I don’t know any of them.  I like it so much I buy bars of the stuff at a time and my pantry, as well as my purse, desk drawer and work bag, are never without it.  Most of the time I just break off pieces and savor the chocolate as is but when I crave something a little more involved, I try to incorporate all that dark chocolaty goodness in a recipe.

So for my first post, I am sharing a simple, spicy chocolate that’s a little exotic and really yummy.  Like, really yummy.

Spicy Dark Chocolate:

4 oz dark chocolate, broken into pieces

(I use equal parts 72% and 85% cocoa content)

1/4 to 1/2 tsp chile pepper

pinch of salt

  1. Melt chocolate over double boiler.
  2. Stir in chile pepper and salt.
  3. Pour into candy mold or free form on a silpat-lined cookie sheet and refrigerate until firm.

Mmmm.  The high cocoa content is very pronounced but the heat from chile is subtle and lingers.  I used a mix of cayenne pepper and a mild New Mexico chile powder with a smoky flavor.  Because I’m kind of a wimp when it comes to hot stuff, I started out with just a pinch of pepper.  But the bitter chocolate really calls for more heat to balance out the flavor.  Then I sprinkled some Maldon flake sea salt on the chocolate just because I wanted something salty.  Even though my husband didn’t care for the salt, my 15-month old daughter happily ate her piece.  Chocolate mustache, anyone?

While chocolate isn’t exactly primal, dark chocolate is lower in refined sugar and is a nice treat once in a while.  Now, I just need to work out the “once-in-a-while” part.