London Fog (Earl Gray Latte)

I remember the first London Fog latte I ever drank. It was on our trip to Seattle in 2016 and the temperature unexpectedly dropped from 70ish degrees to about 40 degrees in September and we were not prepared. We stopped at a nearby Starbucks and I ordered a London Fog, which warmed my belly and was perfect for a cold day. For the past few days my allergies (at least I hope they’re just allergies) have been awful with so much drainage on top of it being super cold and frosty outside. This warm mug of deliciousness really hit the spot. Scroll to the bottom for some fun photos from our Seattle trip!

london fog earl gray latte with honey and cinnamon

London Fog Latte

Servings: 1


  • 1 cup hot brewed earl gray tea
  • 1/2 cup steamed milk of choice (I heat my milk in the microwave and then use this milk frother)
  • 2-3 teaspoons honey
  • few drops vanilla extract
  • cinnamon to taste


  • Combine tea, milk, honey, and vanilla. Dust with cinnamon if desired. Enjoy!





Paleo Gingerbread Men Cookies

One of my earliest memories is from Christmastime in preschool. We spent a whole day making gingerbread cookies. We mixed the dough together, rolled the dough out, cut out cookies, put them on a cookie sheet, and then popped them in the oven. We got them out of the oven, and set them in the school kitchenette to cool. Only when we went back to eat them, they were mysteriously gone! Can you believe that those little guys got up off the cookie sheet and walked away? We looked everywhere for them, finding gingerbread parts randomly strewn through the hallway – a crumb here, a Red Hot button there… Until we finally found them! We then proceeded to eat them all.

paleo gingerbread men cookiesIMG_6985

I don’t know why certain memories stand out in my mind, but this one fairly clear. It was definitely a great day, and a fun little trick/activity for us. I hadn’t had a real gingerbread man cookie in several years but the memory randomly popped into my mind a few weeks ago and I’ve been craving them ever since. After doing Whole30 diet for several weeks, I was in the mood for something sweet, but not too sweet. These cookies definitely have that perfect balance! They are also perfectly crunchy but still slightly chewy – so tasty!


Paleo Gingerbread Men Cookies

Servings: 18-24


  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot starch
  • 3/4 cup oat flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons blackstrap molasses
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • pinch salt


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • Mix together melted coconut oil, molasses, maple syrup, and egg.
  • Add in the almond flour, starch, oat flour, spices, and salt.
  • Mix together with an electric mixer until crumbly and starting to come together.
  • Combine together until it forms one large ball of dough.
  • Roll out on the counter or pastry board until 1/4 inch thick. Cut out gingerbread men with a cookie cutter and place on a cookie sheet.
  • Bake for around 12 minutes until just starting to turn golden around the edges.
  • Decorate with icing and enjoy!

Whole30-Approved Thai Coconut Green Curry

Who else has completed Whole 30? I had been toying with the idea for several months before I finally decided to take the plunge. I can’t decide if I picked the best time or the worst time of the year to do the challenge, and a challenge it has been. There are tons of holiday parties filled with treats and alcohol, and I can’t decide whether it’s good or bad that I’m missing out on the festivities. Our society as a whole, myself included, has such an extreme addiction to sugar. I definitely try to make healthier desserts and will try to lighten up a classic dessert, if I can. But it seems like for the past few months, I would eat at least one or two desserts every day. We had leftover Halloween candy at the house, and although I baked a lot of it in the brownies and took them to work, it still felt like there were piles and piles of it left. Every time I would walk by the bag in the kitchen, I would eat a fun sized candy. It just seemed to add up every day, a cookie at work, a piece of cake here, a sugary Starbucks drink here, etc. On stressful days, I would even come home and make a big bowl of edible cookie dough and eat the entire thing. Don’t get me wrong, I love desserts and think that sweets are great in moderation, but I was definitely not eating them in moderation. I definitely needed a lifestyle change. I have tried out paleo here and there, making alternative desserts – but I always find myself making the same thing except with oats or oat flower, honey, or maple syrup, substituting ingredients but not the habits themselves. That’s why I settled on the Whole30 Challenge. You can do almost any diet for a limited time, right? It’s only 30 days, how hard can it be?

So here I am, on day 13 out of 30. I started the day after Thanksgiving and will finish the day before Christmas Eve. Withdrawing from sugar the weekend after Thanksgiving was definitely not fun, but my body seems to have adapted to going without by now. The one thing I will say is that people told me the sugar cravings would stop around the end of week two. Well here I am and let me tell you, I would kill for a doughnut. I’m trying to break that evening dessert habit but it’s been really hard.

So what does Whole30 entail? You can eat healthy meat, vegetables, seafood, fruit, and eggs. What should you avoid? The big things to avoid are alcohol, carbohydrates (corn, wheat, oats, flour, etc), any form of sugar (natural or processed), and dairy products. I have to say I don’t really miss the dairy itself. I usually like Greek yogurt or a glass of milk with something chocolatey, but I can do without. I like strong coffee anyways so I now actually prefer a splash of almond milk to a thicker creamer. There are a few foods which I think are fairly arbitrary – one of them being potatoes. I definitely do not think of white potatoes as a vegetable and everything I’ve learned about them has told me that they have about as much nutrition as any other starch. I say this, but eating only meat and vegetables leaves me full for an hour and then starving afterwards, so I’ve definitely embraced the potato, but prefer a sweet potato to your run of the mill white potato. The other thing that seems pretty arbitrary to me is that you cannot eat beans. They are natural, grown from the earth, filled with fiber, and if you get them raw, they shouldn’t be processed. Why are they excluded??? Confession: we ordered a Hellofresh Pork Chili. (On a related note, I can actually usually eat 2-3 of the Hellofresh options each week, with a modification or two.) The chili had beans in it and I still ate it. I guess it is cheating on the diet, but it was more out of convenience. My main addiction is sugar and desserts, and I would definitely feel like I had cheated if I had eaten something resembling dessert. The beans issue seems arbitrary, and in my opinion, they should be part of a healthy diet. I also have meat at restaurants, so I have no idea if there was sugar in a spice rub or soy sauce in a marinade, etc. I have to say that I am too busy to prepare every single meal from scratch. I just do the best I can while still being a normal busy human being with a full time job.

I would still say that my diet is 99% Whole30 compliant. If you are on the fence or thinking about Whole30-ing, I would definitely say go for it! YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU SET YOUR MIND TO!! I think I ate eggs with every meal my first week on the diet, and kind of burnt myself out. This breakfast porridge basically saved my life/sanity. Also this coconut curry is super delicious and filling. It was my first venture with cauliflower rice and I was really happy with it!


Whole30-Approved Thai Coconut Green Curry

Servings: 6-8


  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 pounds raw chicken breast, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 red bell pepper – chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper – chopped
  • 1 orange bell pepper – chopped
  • 2 cups coconut milk (can use canned, I used Sodelicious)
  • 2 zucchinis – chopped
  • 3 cups cut broccoli
  • 4 tablespoons green curry paste
  • 2-3 teaspoons fish sauce
  • red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • cauliflower rice (I used a frozen bag from Kroger)
  • cilantro


  • In a large pot, melt coconut oil. Add garlic and onion and cook until softened, 3-4 minutes. Add chicken and cook, stirring every few minutes for 3-4 minutes until starting to brown.
  • Add bell peppers, broccoli, and zucchini. Cook, stirring every few minutes for 3-4 minutes. Add green curry paste and stir around for 1-2 minutes until distributed.
  • Add coconut milk and fish sauce and bring to a simmer. Add red pepper flakes to taste (I added about 1 teaspoon). Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Simmer for 20-25 minutes or until vegetables have softened. Serve over cauliflower rice, topped with cilantro, if desired!

Fall Pumpkin Spiced Hot Chocolate

Seasonal affective disorder, what is it? It’s a form of depression, also called the “Winter Blues” where people feel sadder the winter time. Does anyone else feel this way? I am definitely happier when the sun is shining, and I can tend to feel out of sorts or jaded when it is cloudy and cold outside. It’s more common than people think, and in some countries, as many as 20-30% of people may be affected. There are special lights that people install in their houses and they will sit under them for a few minutes to hours every day to help with the condition, but I’ve never done this. The older I get, the more I am cognizant of my feelings, and can try to work through them. Over time, I have tried to learn to embrace the dreary cold days, finding ways to appreciate them. One of the things that definitely makes me happy is good food, so I try to find “depressing day” foods such as hot chocolate… grilled cheese with tomato soup… chili! (I mean, who doesn’t love chili?) It’s definitely not a perfect solution, but I think that taking time every day to appreciate the good things in my life and be grateful for what I have makes me a happier person in general. So here I am, dreary weather outside, fireplace on, snuggled up under a soft blanket with the hubster on the couch, and a fall spiced hot chocolate in my hand – life doesn’t get better.

Fall pumpkin spiced hot chocolate

Fall Pumpkin Spiced Hot Chocolate

Servings: 1 (can double for two servings)


  • 8 ounces of milk of choice
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar of choice
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice
  • 1-2 drops of vanilla extract
  • dash of salt
  • cinnamon sticks, star anise, etc. for serving


  • Heat milk in a microwave-safe container until hot, around 2-3 minutes depending on your microwave. Add the cocoa powder, sugar, pumpkin spice, vanilla, and salt and combine. I used a milk frother to combine the ingredients together.

Leftover Halloween Candy Brownies

Hi everyone! It has been a while since my last post as we have been super busy. We went on a vacation to Austin (more on that later), and we also spent a few glorious days at home with family before returning to Tennessee.

We came back to our house and it was almost immediately Halloween. We do not usually get a lot of trick or treaters but I asked John to buy a small bag of candy anyways. He then proceeded to come home with what I can only describe to be an industrial-sized bag of candy. We then had 3 trick or treaters at our house. Needless to say, we have a TON of leftover Halloween candy. I was trying to brain storm what to do with it all, because I cannot should not eat all of this candy. I then decided to combine two of my favorite things, brownies and candy! These brownies are super dark chocolatey and not too sweet in order to offset the super sweet Halloween candy. Also, if you’re caught up on Stranger things, I will tell you that I used 3 musketeers so these brownies are Dart-approved.

Leftover Halloween Candy Brownies

Servings: 16-20


  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • Various chocolate Halloween candies, cut into 1/2 or 1/3. All of the candies I used were mini rather than fun-sized. (I used 6 Reese’s mini peanut butter cups, 6 mini Snickers, 6 mini Milky Ways, 6 mini 3 Musketeers, 6 mini Twix, topped with m&m’s)


  • Preheat oven to 350 degeees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9 x 13 pan and set aside.
  • Heat butter in microwave until entirely melted (45-60 seconds). Stir in sugar and beat for a few seconds until combined. Add in vanilla, eggs, and salt and stir to incorporate.
  • Add cocoa and flour and stir well but do not overmix.
  • Fold in candy of choice. Pour into baking pan. Top with more candies if desired.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean. Let set for at least 20-30 min before serving.

Simple Apple and Almond Tart

I convinced the hubs to go apple picking recently. We headed out to the Jones Orchard with an apple picker and a bucket and got to work. Well, first we got lost at the orchard. We ended up driving around the country grass trails, through the pear and peach trees that were withering away until next year’s harvest. It was a day full of happy accidents – first we stumbled upon a seemingly never-ending cotton field, and then we were immersed in a forest of majestic fruit trees. We spent the morning trying to find the best and biggest apples, which of course were at the very top or middle of the trees. And after managing to knock them down, they would fall on the ground, forcing us to play a fun game of “Wait, which one was it?” amongst the many apples on the ground.

apple picking jones orchard tennesseeapple picking jones orchard tennesseeIMG_6274

I had never used store bought puff pastry before this recipe, to be honest. I always think that if something is going to be good that it has to be home made. I have made puff pastry more times than I can count and I am just not great at it, now matter how hard I try. I can’t ever get the layers to be crunchy and perfect, exactly like a store bought croissant. After using frozen puff pastry, I don’t think I’ll ever try making it myself again. It was so delicious and flaky and so EASY! I also absolutely love almond paste croissants and tarts, so I wanted to try making the almond paste filling. To be honest, I wasn’t sure how the almond, apple, honey combination was going to taste. Spoiler alert: it was even better than I expected.

6174617936_IMG_1205simple almond puff pastry apple tart6174617936_IMG_1207simple apple almond tart with puff pastrysimple apple almond tart with puff pastrysimple almond puff pastry apple tart

Simple Apple and Almond Tart


  • 2 sheets (1 box) of frozen puff pastry, thawed in the refrigerator overnight
  • 3-4 apples of choice
  • juice of half of a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • dash of salt
  • 1 egg beaten and halved (see below)
  • 1 teaspoon milk
  • 4 ounces almond paste
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature and cut into cubes
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Coarse sugar
  • Slivered almonds and honey, if desired


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Cover a large cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  • Core apples and cut into thin slices, and toss into a bowl. Add brown sugar, dash of salt, cinnamon, and lemon juice and toss to combine. Set aside
  • Set pastry on a large working surface and dust lightly with flour. Pinch the two ends together of the two sheets and roll lightly with a rolling pin to combine. Roll the entire large sheet of pastry lightly, flattening out the creases. Fold up the ends all around and press with a fork.
  • My pastry was getting a little soft at this point so I put it in the fridge for a few minutes while making the almond paste mixture. Beat an egg into a small bowl or ramekin and set aside. In mixer or a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat together the almond paste, sugar, and flour. Add in half of the beaten egg (save the rest for your egg wash) and the other egg (for a total of 1 1/2 eggs). Add in softened butter and vanilla and beat until there are no lumps.
  • Take pastry out of refrigerator. Add 1 teaspoon of milk to your half egg mixture to form an egg wash. Brush a thin over the entire pastry. Spread almond mixture over center of pastry (staying inside of folded edges).
  • Arrange apples on center of pastry, overlapping the edges. Sprinkle with course sugar and slivered almonds (if using).
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes or until pastry is golden brown. Cool for 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving. Top with honey (if desired) and enjoy!
  • simple apple almond tart apple picking jones orchard tennessee puff pastry

Boo-ternut Squash and Roasted Red Pepper Soup (Vegan)

Butternut squash soup is one of my favorite fall comfort meals. I make it several times once the weather starts getting cold outside every year. The only problem is that my husband is not a big fan of butternut squash. He doesn’t like the hint of sweet of butternut squash or sweet potatoes. I have tried multiple different recipes, including adding a little more heat to the recipe to cut the sweetness, but he still isn’t a fan. I finally realized that I just had to create a recipe I thought he might like. He happens to love Thai food, including coconut curry. This vegan butternut squash soup has a hint of curry flavoring without being too overpowering, and it goes perfectly with the butternut squash. I also happen to love a good grilled cheese sandwich and roasted red pepper soup in the fall, so I threw in some roasted red pepper to also cut the butternut squash sweetness. The result is phenomenal.

Vegan butternut squash and roasted red pepper soup

Vegan Boo-ternut Squash and Roasted Red Pepper Soup


  • 1 butternut squash, halved longways
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 shallot (or 1/2 yellow onion), chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • pepper to taste
  • olive oil
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup coconut milk* (or half and half, see below)


  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a cookie sheet with foil and grease.
  • Scoop out the seeds of the butternut squash. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place face down on the greased cookie sheet and bake for ~45 minutes total until tender (take out after 30 minutes and add red pepper as described below).
  • Cut a red bell pepper into 1-2 inch pieces. Drizzle with small amount of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add to butternut squash pan once the butternut squash has cooked for ~30 minutes, so that you roast the red bell pepper for around 15 minutes.
  • Heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium in a large pot. Add shallot and garlic and cook until translucent, 5-6 minutes. Add roasted bell pepper and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and curry powder. Stir for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
  • Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Scoop butternut squash out of the butternut squash skin and add to the pot, bringing to a boil again. Boil for 10-15 minutes or until liquid has somewhat reduced.
  • Add salt and pepper. Transfer to a blender or use an immersion blender to blend until there are no lumps. Transfer back to the pan and add the coconut milk.
  • Bring to a boil and cook on medium-low until soup is reduced to preferred consistency, 5-10 minutes.
  • *Edit: I suggested adding a cup of coconut milk, but I love coconut and prefer a creamier soup, so I added the whole can. You may just have to cook it for 5-10 minutes longer after adding the extra coconut milk to reduce the soup so it is thicker. If you don’t like coconut and aren’t vegan, you could substitute half and half instead.vegan boo-ternut squash soup butternut squash bisque.jpg

Pumpkin Pie Bars with Cheesecake Topping

You cannot go wrong with pumpkin pie + cheesecake. I like pumpkin anything, including pumpkin cheesecake, but every pumpkin cheesecake I’ve tasted just doesn’t have the full pumpkin flavor of pumpkin pie. The flavor, while tasty in its own right, seems to be diluted by all of the cream cheese. These super easy bars solve that problem. You get the savory pumpkin pie flavor combined with actual cheeeecake baked on top. You can even swirl the cheesecake into the top layer of the pumpkin bar layer for another delicious variation.

Pumpkin pie cheesecake bars

Pumpkin Pie Bars with Cheesecake Topping

Makes a 9 x 13 inch pan


For the bars

  • 15 ounce can of pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Morena sugar (or another 1/4 cup brown sugar)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • dash of salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

For the cheesecake layer:

  • 1 block of cream cheese (I used Greek yogurt cream cheese), softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9 x 13 pan and set aside.
  • Combine canned pumpkin, sugars, egg, and butter in a large bowl. Add in salt and vanilla and stir.
  • Add spices, flour, baking powder, and baking soda and mix batter together. Batter may be slightly lumpy.
  • Pour into prepared pan and spread as evenly as possible.
  • With a whisk attachment, beat together cream cheese and sugar. Add in egg and vanilla and combine. Spread in a thin layer over pumpkin mixture. Swirl lightly with a knife if desired.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes or until cheesecake is set.
  • Cool for at least 4-6 hours in the refrigerator or overnight before cutting into squares and serving.
  • pumpkin pie bars with cheesecake topping

Maple Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Crunchy Oat Topping

If it’s fall, you can pretty much bet that there is a pumpkin-flavored baked good in my house. I eat so much pumpkin in a 3 month period, that by Christmas, I’ve burnt myself out completely until the next fall. I’ve made a lot of pumpkin muffin recipes: pumpkin chocolate chip, pumpkin streusel, vegan pumpkin, pumpkin pie muffins, etc. I have to say I’m a big fan of the pumpkin streusel, because that sweet crumb topping can make pretty much anything taste better. But then an hour later, I’m on crash from the sugar and I regret eating them. These muffins have a streusel-inspired topping that gives the impression of the streusel topping without the flour and loads of butter and sugar. Also, replacing much of the oil with applesauce lightens up this recipe even more! Recipe can be doubled if you have a bigger crowd.

Healthy maple pumpkin spice muffins with crunchy Oat ToppingHealthy maple pumpkin spice muffins with crunchy Oat Topping

Maple Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Crunchy Oat Topping

Servings: 4

Healthy maple pumpkin spice muffins with crunchy Oat ToppingHealthy maple pumpkin spice muffins with crunchy Oat Topping


For the muffins:

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (I used Agave maple syrup)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk of choice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup All purpose flour (or another 1/2 cup whole wheat flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

For the topping:

  • 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil or butter
  • if using coconut oil, add dash of salt
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a Muffin tin and set aside.
  • Mix together pumpkin and applesauce. Add melted coconut oil and combine. Whisk in maple syrup, egg, vanilla, and milk.
  • Add in flours, baking soda, salt, and spices. Mix to combine, but do not over-mix.
  • Use a cupcake scoop to divide the batter evenly between eight muffin cups.
  • Combine melted butter or coconut oil, salt (if using), brown sugar, oats, and cinnamon. Sprinkle on top of unbaked cupcakes.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until muffin springs back to touch. Wait 4-5 minutes until slightly cooled to remove from pan.
  • maple pumpkin spice muffins with crunchy oat topping

Banana Pancakes – Two Ways

It’s the weekend. Which means it’s time for banana pancakes. I love banana anything: banana bread, banana muffins, banana pudding, and especially banana pancakes. The nice thing about pancakes is that you can add whatever toppings you like depending on your taste buds. I make these with pecans and a dash of cinnamon for my pancake-hating husband, and he will gobble them down. Personally, I much prefer chocolate chips in my pancakes.


Banana Pancakes – Two Ways

Servings: 2-3


  • 1 small ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon melted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon Morena sugar
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Chocolate chips or pecans


  • Heat a griddle or non-stick pan over medium heat. Add in 1-2 teaspoons of butter until pan is mostly coated.
  • Mash banana with a fork or potato masher. Add in melted butter and stir to combine. Whisk in egg, milk of choice, sugar, salt, and vanilla extract. Fold in flour and baking powder.
  • Drop batter onto heated greased pan. After 20-30 seconds once batter has settled, add pecans or chocolate chips. Once you see small bubbles forming and one side of the pancake has started to brown, flip with a spatula.
  • I usually cook the chocolate chip pancakes first, then stir a dash of cinnamon into the remaining batter before cooking the pecan pancakes. Enjoy!
  • banana pancakes