Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Muffin of the Week: Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Hello Friends,

Happy September!!!

Labor Day happened, so that means the muffin of the week is a day late.  Normally, I like the structure of having a schedule and meeting my goals, but when a holiday means adventures with my husband....
...adventures win. 

It was worth it.

Since I made you all wait until Tuesday, I decided to build a recipe that has been much requested!  It involves a lot of chocolate, so I do hope it doesn't disappoint.....

Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Gluten Free
Prep time: 10-15 Minutes
Total time: 30 Minutes
Makes: ~12 Muffins


Dry Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups gluten free all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Wet Ingredients:
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup milk
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed

Mix Ins:
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini, drained
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners or spray the pan it self and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt until well combined.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the oil, milk, eggs, vanilla, sugar, and brown sugar until smooth and well combined.
  4. Stir in the grated zucchini.
  5. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. *Be careful not to overmix.
  6. Fold in the chocolate chips. :)
  7. Fill the prepared muffin tin until the cups are full and bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of a muffin comes out clean.
  8. Cool for 5 minutes in the muffin tin, then remove the muffins to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Store the muffins at room temperature in an airtight container for 3-5 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

This is one of those recipes where they are even better the next day.  So give them a little patience and they will NOT disappoint.  May they fuel your adventures this week!  

Happy Pilgrimming!


Embrace your Struggles

Hello friends,

Welcome to September!

It was a busier weekend than normal....making a reprieve much appreciated...
or was it?  
We went hiking and I am more sore today than I have ever been in my entire life....well, except for after doing the obstacle course at the National Guard training center in Catoosa. That mountain beat every gym work out I have ever done....which, of course, made me question my work out routines....but that is a totally different topic for another day.

It was a five mile hike....that's it....but it was a difficult level trail...and, honestly, I am so stinking proud of us for making it to the top!  The view made it all so very worth it.  You want to know the thing that stuck with me most though?

It's the people that we encountered on the way up that had already made it, and were heading back down.  They were so happy, calm, not in pain at all, and encouraging.....BECAUSE THEY HAD MADE IT!  They had seen the amazing view and soaked up the therapy that it offered....they had felt the cool breeze....smelled the pine...sat on top and recharged....about an hour later, we were those people too!

It is September...a month designated to focus on the importance of self care...If that's not a lesson I need to learn, then I have no idea what is....Because I have always had a performance mentality....
I care what people think...
I care what people say...
I care about feeling accomplished...
I care about what message my looks project...

All I could care about on the way up that mountain yesterday was, "Man...people probably think I am so out of shape....I'm breathing so hard...I wonder if my face is red...If I take a water break, am I going to get judged?...I have dirt on my pants; people are going to know that I tripped....."  You know what?  I am pretty sure that I am the only person that was judging me all the way up!  Those people that were on their way down were probably not that different on the way up...they knew...they understood.  It was not until we made it that I realized this. 

Just because someone else looks like they have their life together does not mean they have not known the struggle.  That struggle is what makes us stronger, faster, and gain that "can do" mindset....because when you know what you just went through to get to where you are, you appreciate it more.  Like what Rachel Hollis says, "EMBRACE THE SUCK".  Without doing the work, there are no results, and that is soooo not the life that I want to live.  The next time I get to climb a mountain, this time of reflection if going to come to mind.....because I DO want to learn how to embrace the suck.

I want to encourage all of you that are reading this....don't let the knowledge that something you are about to do is something you are not in shape for...or practiced in...or whatever excuse your mind is telling you, stop you from actually doing it. 

Happy Pilgrimming, friends!


Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Natural Oven Cleaner

Hello friends,

I have been baking since my mom had my hands in the dough at 4 years old.  Of course it was with supervision and mom doing most of the work until I was old enough to handle it myself.....but I have always loved it.  That being said, I kick myself hard when I have a baking incident......and even harder when it SPILLS OVER IN THE OVEN.  Because the following ensues.......

It then bakes to the surface of the bottom of the oven...
Smoke pours into the house....
I'm flipping on fans....
Thanking God that the smoke detector is not in the kitchen......
Anybody else feel me?  

I am sure that many of you can also relate to the strong desire to not use all of the chemicals in the world to try and get the spill out of the oven.  This is where today's adventure led me....

Vinegar & Baking Soda:

Simple easy and done....just like that.

  1. First pour vinegar into an empty spray bottle
  2. Thoroughly spray down the inside of your oven.  
  3. Let it sit for a couple of minutes, and then sprinkle the spills with baking soda
  4. Proceed to douse with vinegar again and let the magic happen.
  5. Using a spatula, you should then be able to scrape up spills with ease. 
  6. Wipe it all down and then you are DONE
These are items that I have in my kitchen or laundry room at all times and are incredibly versatile....

They get stains out of your counters...
They get rid of odor...
They kill mold...
They are an egg replacement...(Not kidding.  I have the best chocolate cupcake recipe in the world that uses them in that capacity)...
...And so much more!!!
 Not everything has to be complicated.  Sometimes the most simple things in life are the most effective!  Embrace the simple.  And using good old elbow grease....

Happy Pilgrimming!


P.S.:  Now let's take a moment to appreciate my little writing buddy for the day:


Monday, August 26, 2019

Muffin of the Week: Lemon Blueberry

Happy Monday, friends!

It has been much cooler in the Carolinas the last couple of days, so I have had the windows open to air out the house!  I can not even begin to describe the fresh smells that have wafted through my kitchen in the early hours of this morning....it was enough to inspire this week's muffin of the week choice.........

Lemon Blueberry!!!!

I wrote this recipe originally when I was fresh out of high school....back when gluten was still a friend of mine.  So, this morning, I made the adjustments to adapt it to hold up in the challenges that the gluten free aspects can throw in the mix of things.  It can now be made either way and turn out fabulously, but for those gluten free folks reading.....this is a muffin that will make you feel like a normal human being again.  I have been eating gluten free for over two years now, and I have yet to taste a muffin that was this undetectable.  We are talking all of the fluffy, flavorful magic that just needs to be involved in a blueberry muffin.  If you are that person that is longing for a recipe to make you forget that you are on a GF diet; I KNOW that this recipe will bless your week! 

Before you get started, I do want to give you a heads up that this is a four phase recipe.  Most of the muffin recipes that I write are a three phase.  Like so:  1) Mix dry ingredients. 2)  Mix wet ingredients 3) Combine and add mix ins.  However this one has an extra pre-phase that is important to get started at the very beginning so that it has time to set.  The step is mixing the milk with vinegar and lemon juice and leaving it to curdle.  This simulates the buttermilk flavor and effect that just makes this recipe absolutely everything.  I actually use a lactose free dairy milk instead of a dairy free option for this very reason. 

Also, to get the right texture for this recipe, make sure that you whisk the dry ingredients thoroughly until you get a fluffy sifted texture.  This is huge in getting your muffins to rise properly!  It is my little cheat to avoid actually getting out the sifter and spending ten minutes running the flour through it.  Let's be honest...no one has time for that. :)

Without further adieu, here is this week's muffin...............................

Lemon Blueberry Muffins

Gluten Free, Soy Free
Prep time: 10-15 Minutes
Total time: 30 Minutes
Makes: 12 Muffins

Wet Ingredients Phase 1: 
Note: Mix these ingredients first and set aside to set while you make the rest of the recipe
1 cup milk
1 TBS white vinegar 
1/2 cup lemon juice

Dry Ingredients:
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour (regular or King Arthur All Purpose Gluten Free Flour)
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
Optional: 1 tsp lemon zest

Wet Ingredient Phase 2:
2/3 cup oil (canola or grapeseed)
2 tsp natural lemon flavoring
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs

Add-In Ingredients:
Approx. 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Spray muffin pan and set aside.
  2. Mix the phase one wet ingredients: milk, vinegar, & lemon juice and move to the side to set.
  3. Whisk together thoroughly all dry ingredients: flour, white sugar, salt, baking powder, & baking soda.  Zest lemon and add to the mix if desired.  
  4. In a separate bowl, beat together phase two wet ingredients: oil, lemon flavoring, vanilla extract, eggs.  Add in phase one wet ingredients, blend together, and then pour all wet ingredients into dry mixture while whisking.  Be careful not to over mix.
  5. Fold in blueberries
  6. Moving quickly, fill muffin cups to the top. 
  7. Bake 13-15 minutes

I used the Happy Home Natural Lemon Flavoring in these muffins.  I love to shop locally and there is the cutest little farmer's market a stone's throw from my house called Dink's Produce. It is run by one of the sweetest married couples that you will ever meet, and they have some awesome finds there.....like this lemon flavoring!  

May you have a wonderfully blessed week as you overcome the challenges of the new schedules that the school brings upon all of us.  If you are in the Carolinas, I know that it will get warmer later this week, but for now, let that fresh cool air soothe your soul, inspire your mind, and give you the refresh you need.  If you are in for as crazy as a Monday as I am headed into, it is going to be a wild one!  For me it is writing in the morning, folding the loads of laundry that have been sitting on my couch all weekend, hitting the gym, heading to the office, then three overlapping events that my husband and I need to hit after work. It's bound to be a very fulfilling day!  After all, life is a beautiful adventure and I get to go live it!

Happy Pilgrimming!


Friday, August 23, 2019

The Greens Smoothie That Actually Tastes Great

Hi Friends,

Today my husband and I are trying out a little cleanse and I think we might actually enjoy this one!  So many times these cleanses will feel like a punishment; when our goal is to achieve a healthier state.  I started with a greens smoothie and it was absolutely everything!  It wasn't bitter and my rather picky husband drank it to the lost drop....and enjoyed it.

Here is the recipe if you'd like to join us on this part of the journey...

The Greens Smoothie That Actually Tastes Great:

1 frozen banana
1 cup whole strawberries - de-stemmed 
8 oz. almond milk 
4 oz. pineapple juice
1 dash of pure maple syrup 
2 cups roughly chopped kale
1 cup spinach


  1. Prepare your produce by washing and doing necessary chopping
  2. Layer all ingredients in your blender
  3. Then blend on high until kale bits are obliterated.

Note:  I particularly emphasize the necessity to blend the smoothie as long as necessary to avoid having to chew.  

I am pretty sure I am not the only one that drinks ONE greens smoothie and feels like a total boss that can conquer anything.  One sip and I am hearing the Popeye cartoon theme song....

Now if you will excuse me, I am going to go harness these green queen vibes and take them to the gym while I feel like I am making healthy decisions.  It is an everyday effort that you think will get easier, but there are just so many spy shows out there to be watched....Also laundry, cleaning....you know......regular life alone that can be a distraction too to my health goals.  

Happy pilgrimming, friends!  It's a beautiful world out there to voyage!  It is full of wonderful people to bless!  Go be intentionally kind.  Conquer a workout goal.  Dream a little and don't give it up this time.  Make time to adventure.  You are absolutely amazing and able to do what you set your mind to.

Have a beautiful day!


Monday, August 19, 2019

Muffin of the Week: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip - Gluten Free + Vegan

Hi there friends!

Monday has struck yet again, and for most everyone, it is the first day of school!  The beginning of the school year was always an exciting time for me...but I would find myself pretending it was Fall to set the mood for studying.  That is why I wanted this week's muffin to give me all of the Autumn feels; because it is August, one billion degrees outside, and that is the only way I am going to get it.  You feel me?

Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Muffins

Gluten Free, Soy Free, Vegan
Prep time: 10 Minutes
Total time: 30 Minutes
Makes: 12 Muffins

Dry Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups King Arthur All Purpose Gluten Free Flour
4 tsp pumpkin spice (or 3 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp ground ginger)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar

Wet Ingredients:
2 Tbs. melted coconut oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup almond milk or water
1 cup pumpkin puree

Add-In Ingredients:
1 cup vegan dark chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray muffin pans and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: flour, spices, baking powder, baking soda, salt
    & sugar.
  3. Stir in oil, pumpkin, & vanilla extract.
  4. Optional, but highly recommended:  Add in chocolate chips.
  5. Fill muffin cups up evenly with a spoon.  Then, wetting the spoon, smooth out top of the muffins before baking.
  6. Bake for  18 -20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack. Serve immediately or store in airtight container.

Baking these guarantee your house smelling like a hug from the coming season and a blessing to your soul!  Have fun baking, friends!  

Happy pilgrimming!


Monday, August 12, 2019

Muffin of the Week: Zucchini Carrot Oatmeal

Hi friends,

Here I am again, on a Monday, and as excited as ever about this muffin of the week!  It is gluten free, dairy free and, as always, soy free!  My inspiration this week was a zucchini in my fridge that needed eaten.  So, with out further adieu, I present....

Zucchini Carrot Oatmeal Muffins

Prep time: 10 Minutes
Total time: 30 Minutes
Makes: 18 Muffins

Dry Ingredients:
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup almond flour
2 cups King Arthur All Purpose Gluten Free Flour
1 cup sugar
1 Tbs. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Wet Ingredients:
3 large eggs + 1 large egg white
3/4 oil
1 tsp. vanilla

Add-In Ingredients:
1 cup grated zucchini
1 cup grated carrot
3/4 cup raisins


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin pans and set aside.  
  2.  In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: oatmeal, almond flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  3. In a separate bowl beat together eggs, oil, and vanilla extract.
  4. Add the dry ingredients gradually and stir until combined.
  5. Add in grated zucchini, carrot, and raisins.
  6. Fill muffin cups up about 3/4 of the way and bake for 20 minutes.  Let cool in muffin pans for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.  Serve immediately or store in airtight container.  

These are a yummy breakfast treat, on the go snack, or a healthy dessert option, so I hope they fuel you this week to tackle those last bit of summer adventures.  It is hard to believe it is coming to a close and schools in my area go back today.  I pray blessings on each one of you!  Whether you be a mom with kids, a student, or just someone who is left to work those now understaffed shifts.  

Happy Pilgrimming!