Molasses Cookies

Molasses cookies are my absolute favorite Christmas cookie. They are slightly spicy from the ground ginger, warm from the cinnamon and cloves and they are SOFT. They are super easy to make and they are very fast. You could easily make these in about 20 or 30 minutes start to finish. 

These molasses cookies are also great for kids since they are so soft. I actually brought these in for my daughter’s birthday treat at her preschool because the teacher told me that they all just lick the icing off of cupcakes anyway – ha! The kids LOVED them! 

I also like to use blackstrap molasses which has lots of vitamins and nutrients from the sugar cane plant that are lost in the process of making sugar. Actually when my daughter was anemic, I used to give her a teaspoon of blackstrap molasses every morning to boost her iron. 


3/4 cup melted butter 

1/4 cup blackstrap molasses

1 egg

1 cup brown sugar 

2 1/4 cup flour

2 tsp baking soda 

1/2 tsp kosher salt 

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger 

1 tsp cloves 

3-5 tablespoons granulated sugar 

(Use all organic ingredients if possible!)


1. Preheat oven to 375. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. 

2. In a large bowl, whisk together melted butter, brown sugar, egg, and blackstrap molasses. 

3. Add in flour, baking soda, and spices. Mix well. You’ll end up with a really smooth brown dough. 

4. Put your granulated sugar in a separate bowl so you can roll the cookies in it before baking. 

5. Form small (about 1 or 1.5 inch) balls and roll them in the sugar before putting them on the cookie sheet. 

6. Bake for 8 minutes at 375 degrees. Cool completely before moving the cookies. They come out looking like this. 

These are what Santa will be getting this year!! Hope he likes them! 


Hummus is one of my favorite snacks. It’s so healthy, everyone in my family loves it, and it’s a great way to get everyone to eat some veggies as a dipping device! It also doesn’t take a lot of forethought because I also also have chickpeas in my pantry and tahini in my refrigerator.   I have been making this hummus recipe for years. My friend from high school, who is Lebanese, wrote out her rough recipe for me and I’ve perfected it over the years. 

You’ll need some kind of food processor. A mini food processor or a ninja would work perfectly. Also, I really love Target’s simply balanced organic chickpeas. With all the news about BPA in cans being cancer causing and endocrine disrupters, I like to buy my beans in paper boxes whenever possible. Also, if you don’t already have tahini, you can find it in most grocery stores. It’s a sesame paste and it will last in your fridge for a while. If you have a fresh lemon or lime, that is always best, but you can use bottled juice in this hummus recipe and barely notice. 


1 can or box of chickpeas (garbanzo beans)

1 tablespoon tahini 

1 tablespoon lemon (or lime) juice 

1-2 garlic cloves, smashed 

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 

Cracked black pepper

1. Drain chickpeas into a cup or bowl. You’ll use the drained liquid. 

2. In your food processor, mix chickpeas, garlic, salt and pepper, and 3 tablespoons of the reserved chickpea liquid. Blend until you reach your desired smooth texture. If it still looks like there’s too many chunks, add more of the reserved liquid. Today, I ended up adding 2 more tablespoons. So I used a total of 5 tablespoons in my hummus. 

3. Check the flavor and add salt and pepper if needed and your lemon juice. Pulse a couple more times to combine. This is also the time that you can play and add whatever other spices you want. Cumin or chili powder and cayenne are fun. Or you can do jarred red peppers or sundries tomatoes. Blend again. Have fun! 

Serve with whatever you want. We love baby carrots, cucumbers and pretzels. 

Thanksgiving donations 

Recently at church, we were able to take  brown grocery bags with a grocery shopping list on it to collect thanksgiving donations for a local shelter. Basically, it is the ultimate way of showing LOVE via FOOD. So many times in my life it’s been easier to just write a check or toss a $20 towards a charity or fundraiser, but this ministry was one I wanted to be personally involved in. I went to my favorite grocery store with my list in hand and set out only for the items on it. I already did my grocery shop for my family for the week, so this trip was truly dedicated only to my Thanksgiving donation bag. It was such a good feeling picking out food for those in my community who can’t afford it this holiday season. I bought stuffing mix, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, corn, green beans, a pie crust, pumpkin pie filling, evaporated milk, macaroni and cheese, cranberry sauce, and cornbread mix for my Thanksgiving donation bag. I know how much it means to me to sit around the table and enjoy these things with my family, so I love being able to pay it forward and allows some others in my community to do the same with their loved ones. 
I’m not the best Christian in the world. We only make it to church once or twice a month. But honestly this opportunity to help others and show them love and compassion by providing them with food really spoke to me and made my heart feel full. The Operation Turkey coordinator at my church told me that we donated over 900 lbs of food and $745 towards buying turkeys for people in our community. That, my friends, is love. Via food. 

Do any of you have charities that you support that really speak to your heart over the holiday season?  Pleas Share them with me! It’s so important to give back and teach our kids to do the same. Xoxo

Sausage Asparagus Parmesan Pasta 

This sausage asparagus parmesan pasta was a “throw together” dinner. I had thawed out some ground sausage to make over the weekend and never got around to it. I also had some asparagus in the fridge that needed to be used. This was super easy and ready in 20 minutes which made it perfect for midweek dinner. 

We really don’t eat a lot of sausage, but when we do, it’s from my favorite farm in Southwest VA called Polyface. I love the way that the farmer, Joel Salitin, treats animals and environment. I feel better knowing that the pigs got to roam freely in the pastures, enjoy the sunshine and live how pigs are supposed to live. If you don’t already have a local farmer that you love and know, I urge you to check out your local farmers market and find one that you want to support. I feel good supporting farms who grow food the way it’s supposed to be, feeding my family healthier and organic meat without nitrites, preservatives and additives, and taking less of a toll on the environment as Polyface’s farming practices are sustainable. 
Sausage asparagus parmesan pasta 


1 bunch of asparagus, cleaned and trimmed

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided 

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 

1 lb box pasta of your choice (I picked an organic whole wheat penne) 

1 lb ground sausage (mild, hot or breakfast sausage are all fine)

Salt and pepper 

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a baking sheet, add your trimmed asparagus, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste (about 1/2 tsp of each). Roast for 20 minutes. 

2. While the asparagus is roasting, boil your water and cook pasta according to the instructions on the box. Add 1/2 tsp of salt to the pot to season the pasta from the inside. 

3. Also while the asparagus is roasting and your pasta is boiling, brown the sausage in a frying pan over medium high heat. Once it is browned, transfer it to a plate or bowl that is lined with paper towels to absorb some of the grease. 

4. Check the pasta for doneness. When you reach al dente, drain it and return it to the pot. DO NOT RINSE IT!! You want some of the starch to bind with the cheese. 

5. When the asparagus is done, cut it into bite size pieces. Add asparagus, sausage, and parmesan to the pot. Add 1 tablespoons olive oil and stir. I don’t recommend adding salt and pepper until testing your season at this point. You may already have enough salt from the asparagus, sausage and cheese and enough pepper from the sausage. If not, add salt and pepper to your liking at this point. 

Vegan brownies

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My best friend Maggi has been dairy and egg free for 7 months because she is breastfeeding her son who has severe allergies to both. So while we are not religious vegans, I have been creating a lot of vegan treats for her. These vegan brownies are delicious and so easy and fast to make. They are perfect if you have a last minute invitation and you want to bring something yummy. You basically just need to preheat the oven, spend a couple minutes mixing the ingredients and 20 minutes to bake. Voila – you’re done and have delicious vegan brownies! I also have chosen to make them a little bit healthier with extra virgin olive oil instead of canola or GMO laden vegetable oil. Don’t worry, no one will ever know! 

Give these vegan brownies a try for your vegan and non vegan friends alike and I promise that no one will complain! Let me know how they turn out for you. 
Dry ingredients:

1 1/3 cup organic flour 

1 cup organic sugar 

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp baking powder 
Wet ingredients:

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 

1/2 cup water 

1 tsp vanilla extract 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9 x 9 pan with cooking spray. 

2. Put all your dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk it to combine. 

3. Add your wet ingredients and whisk everything together. 

4. Press your batter down with a spatula to flatten. 

5.Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting. 

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Have you heard about all the benefits of coconut oil but you just stare at the jar and wonder how the heck you’re supposed to cook with it?  These roasted sweet potatoes are a great “gateway recipe” for you to get your feet wet with coconut oil.  I recommend trying it out now for a weeknight dinner, and if you like it, it is a perfect side dish to add to your Thanksgiving Dinner menu. 

This roasted sweet potatoes recipe is super simple and loaded with superfoods.  I love roasting sweet potatoes in the oven with coconut oil for a little bit of natural sweetness, rosemary for a fragrant woodsy heartiness, and salt and pepper to balance it out and make it savory.  It’s so fun to make something so healthy that tastes delicious and feels decadent.


5-6 medium or 2-3 large sweet potatoes

1.5 tablespoons organic virgin coconut oil (cold pressed)

1 tablespoon fresh or dried rosemary, chopped

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper



  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Scoop out 1.5 tablespoons of coconut oil onto your baking sheet.  (I like to cover mine with aluminum foil for easy clean up).  If you’re new to cooking with coconut oil, the weird part about it is that it changes form with the temperature.  In the summer, your coconut oil might be completely liquefied.  In the winter, it might be rock hard!  The good news is that it’s very malleable and you can soften hardened coconut oil in your hands easily.
  3. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into pieces somewhere between 1/2-1 inch.  You are going for 2 things here: size uniformity so that they cook evenly and a size that looks pleasant to bite into.
  4. Add your cubed sweet potatoes to the baking sheet.  Sprinkle salt, pepper, and rosemary over them.  I love using rosemary from my garden, but dried rosemary works great too.  Thyme works perfectly here too.  This is where you will get your hands dirty.  If the coconut oil is solidified, work it in your hands for a minute first to soften it.  Toss with your hands to coat all the sweet potatoes completely. Try and get them all in an even layer. 
  5. Roast at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes.  Halfway through, take them out and turn them with a spatula so that they caramelize evenly.  They are done when you see them start to brown on the outside and the inside is tender.

Do you have any healthy recipes that feel like a cheat? Share them with me in the comments! 

Slow Cooker Chicken and Rice Soup 

Slow Cooker Chicken and Rice Soup is one of those quintessential meals for the fall and winter months. It’s a delicious comfort food that is healthy and very easy to whip up! It give the same satisfaction as chicken noodle soup, but it’s gluten free and honestly it’s just easier.  

I’m not going to lie. I am one of those strange people who gets so much satisfaction from roasting a whole chicken, and then using the carcass to make chicken stock and then using the stock for a soup. There is something so gratifying about getting all you can out of that chicken with as little waste as possible. I also get whole chickens from my favorite local farm ( and I know the chickens live a happy life pecking around in the sunshine, the way it’s supposed to be. But I digress… even though I enjoy cooking that way, I also work full time and have a baby and a toddler. So a lot of days, aint nobody got time for dat.

This Slow Cooker Chicken and Rice Soup recipe is a perfect throw together FAST dinner with minimal prep work. Also, you can totally use frozen chicken breasts for it. How often have you thought oh CRAP, I forgot to defrost the chicken. What am I going to make dinner?? By the way, you can definitely use frozen chicken breasts in the slow cooker. I used to wonder about that. Age old mystery solved. 

If you’re not already buying organic frozen chicken breasts, you need to start. I usually pick them up at Trader Joe’s and keep them in my freezer to have on hand. This is a cost effective way to feed your family organic food. This bag was less than $15 for 2.5 lbs of chicken breasts (or about 6 breasts). With the USDA organic label, I feel good knowing the chickens weren’t fed GMOs and there are no antibiotics or growth hormones used. 

 While I’m on the subject of Trader Joe’s, I also love the frozen organic brown rice. The box has 3 individually packaged 10 oz portions and it comes in handy all the time. Several retailers sell these, so look in the freezer section at your favorite store. 

This slow cooker chicken and rice soup recipe is great for those families on a budget who want to eat organic. Try it out and let me know what you think! 


3-4 frozen chicken breasts 

1 small onion, roughly chopped 

4 celery stalks, chopped

20-30 baby carrots, halved 

4 cups or 1 quart organic chicken broth

2 cups water

1 10 oz frozen organic rice packet 

1 tsp kosher salt

2 tsp Italian seasoning

1/4 tsp cracked black pepper 

1. Chop your veggies. Throw them in the slow cooker with your frozen chicken breasts and spices. 

2. Pour your chicken broth and water over your chicken and veggies. 

3. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 8-9 hours. 

4. Shred chicken with 2 forks. 

5. Add frozen rice packet (still frozen) and turn the crockpot to the warm setting. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes before serving. 

Side note: I tried to strain the chicken and vegetables for my 3 year old to try and keep my kitchen semi-clean. She forced me to give her the broth anyway. Ha, nice try mom! 

Oatmeal Apple Cinnamon Muffins 

Oatmeal apple cinnamon muffins are an easy grab-and-go breakfast that are perfect for the fall. I love them because they are made with all organic whole ingredients. There’s no added sugar or flour. And my toddler loves them because they are delicious and they have the perfect amount of  natural sweetness and spices. Plus she calls them cupcakes, so whatever. Perception is reality, girl. Ha!

I originally created this recipe for my friend Maggi who is breastfeeding her son  Daniel. He has a severe dairy and egg allergy and she’s always looking for easy meals that are Daniel-friendly. But the more I started talking to my mom friends, the more and more I realize people are really in need of dairy, egg and gluten free recipes. Whether it’s for a kid or a breastfeeding mom who is avoiding eggs, dairy and/or gluten, these Oatmeal Apple Cinnamon Muffins are a perfect treat that won’t leave you feeling elimination diet deprivation. 

These also freeze well and travel well. I made a few batches this summer and brought them to Michigan with us for an easy grab-and-go breakfast. I like to make them on Sunday night so we have them for the week. 

Try them out and let me know what you think! This recipe will make 12 Muffins. 

1 tbsp flax meal, 2 tbsp water 

2 cups organic gluten free oats 

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon 

1/4 tsp nutmeg (optional)

1/4 tsp kosher salt 

1 cup organic rice milk (or any milk or your choice) 

1/2 cup applesauce (or if you’re a toddler mom, 1.5 Kirkland applesauce pouches)

2 tbsp honey

1 apple of your choice – peeled and diced 

(Use all organic ingredients if possible)

1. Preheat oven to 375. 

2. Combine flax meal and water in a small bowl and set aside for 5 minutes to set. Flax eggs are so amazing for baking. I use them for pumpkin bread even though we don’t have egg allergies in my house! You can also just use one egg here if it’s easier for you. 

3. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. (By the time you add everything to the bowl, the flax meal and water mixture should be ready) 

4. Line muffin tin with muffin liners and spray cups with cooking spray. Scoop evenly into 12 cups. (I like using an ice cream scoop)

5. Bake 22 minutes. Cool completely and enjoy! 

Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyard

Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyard might literally have the most picturesque view on earth.  The Blue Ridge mountains, rolling hills, wild flowers and herb and vegetable garden can be seen from the porch where there are tables and 4 tasting bars set up.  We arrived at 11am when they opened as my Charlottesville local friends told me they get extremely crowded on the weekends.  We were able to score a table on the porch where we could enjoy the view, delicious farm-to-table fare, and try their wines.


My best friends from college and I planned this day as an afternoon kid free getaway.  When we all get together with our (8 and a 9th on the way) kids, it’s rare to finish a thought or a conversation.  Being together just us to catch up on life, and enjoy all that Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyard has to offer was truly a treat that we cherished.


Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyard focuses on local, in season, sustainably grown food and wine.  Their garden is harvested daily and they have fall vegetables growing now. I loved this board inside the winery that shows what was currently being harvested and what veggies are still growing. 

To share, we snacked on a delectable cheese board with local cheeses, dried fruit and nuts and French bread. Hummus and pita was also a big hit. 

For lunch, I loved the heirloom tomato and goat’s milk burrata salad. The basil was grown in Pippin Hill’s garden. 

I truly appreciate places that make local and sustainable food a priority. The farm-to-table concept at Pippin Hill coupled with their amazing view creates an unparalleled experience. The service was also outstanding. 

My favorite wines were the Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Rosé.  If you are planning to visit the Charlottesville area to go wine tasting on the Monticello Wine trail, definitely visit Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyard! 

By the way, they were setting up for a wedding as we were leaving. Can you imagine having this backdrop in your wedding photos?? 

Have you enjoyed any good vineyards lately? Or just a nice place to get together with friends? Drop me a line in the comments so I can try out your favorite places too! 

Veggie Quesadillas

Veggie Quesadillas are an awesome mid week meal because it’s FAST, everyone in the family will eat it, and you know you’re eating your veggies!  

My friend Karen brought over some bell peppers and onions this weekend from a local farm called House in the Woods Farm in Adamstown, MD.  This is a certified organic farm and their mission is to grow produce in a way that is sustainable for the farmer, consumer, and the soil.  SWOON.  Their veggies were the perfect inspiration for this vegetarian dinner.  I love throwing vegetarian meals into our mix because it’s healthy for my family and also good for the environment. Win-win.  

Side note – as if I needed any reasons to love Target even MORE, their Simply Balanced line has a lot of affordable organic products.  I am using their organic tortillas and cooking spray because I know they aren’t filled with junk and GMOs.  



3-4 small or 2 large bell peppers

1/2 medium yellow or purple onion

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp kosher salt

cracked black pepper to taste

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cumin

1 cup shredded cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, mexican blend – anything will work)

4 large tortillas

cooking spray



1. Chop your veggies.  Extra points if your toddler eats them raw while you chop!

2. Over medium heat, heat olive oil and add peppers and onions.  Add salt, pepper, chili powder and cumin and stir often until peppers are soft and onions are translucent.  Set veggie mixture aside to cool a bit.

3. Heat another pan over medium heat.  Spray one side of a tortilla with cooking spray and put the sprayed side down in the your frying pan. Scoop 1/3 cup of your veggie mixture on one half of the tortilla.  Top with 1/4 cup of shredded cheese and fold the tortilla over.  Spray another tortilla for the other half of your pan.  Repeat the veggie mixture and cheese process and fold over.  VERY CAREFULLY flip your quesadillas after about 4 minutes.  Check for when it becomes golden brown.

4. Cut into thirds for adults, or smaller for toddlers.

You could easily add black beans or other veggies to this recipe.  I just used peppers and onions because I needed to use them.  Serve with salsa or guacamole!  I hope you enjoy this veggie quesadilla recipe. What are some of your favorite vegetarian dinner recipes? Please share on my Facebook page!