Hot Apple Pie Cider


I’ve been asked for this recipe a couple of times lately….I thought the recipe was already on my blog, but apparently I’d posted it on an old blog that I don’t use anymore.  So here it is!

This absolutely delicious drink makes frequent appearances at our Autumn dinners.   I usually quadruple the recipe and heat the cider and vodka in a crockpot. Its got just the right amount of booze to give you that warm glow, but not so much booze that it gets to your head.

Now, don’t go and screw this drink up by using store-bought whipped topping.  I’m so serious.  Make your own whipped cream.. it’s not hard to make… and the little bit of rum…. Oh!  So good.  Trust me.

Hot Apple Pie Cider


  • ½ c Butter, softened
  • ¼ c Light Brown Sugar, packed
  • 1 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Ground Cloves
  • 2 tsp Rum
  • 2 c Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 3 Tbsp Powdered Sugar


Heat the apple cider and whiskey (or vodka) in a small saucepan until warm. (You can also make a larger batch in a crockpot.)

Combine softened butter, brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. Whip until butter becomes creamy and the ingredients are fully incorporated.  Chill.

In a separate bowl combine rum and whipping cream, whisk until fluffy; add powdered sugar.

In a pretty footed coffee glass, place a spoonful of spiced butter.  Ladle the hot cider to fill the glass. Garnish with a dollop of rum-whipped topping. Serve warm.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

Last weekend I hosted my cousin’s bridal shower.  Finally.  I’ve been plotting this party since she got engaged two years ago.  Two years?!  I’m not the patient one, obviously.  Brian was really relieved to have the party over as well.  I’ve been buying and storing party items in our basement for over a year now.  The day after the party we cleaned the basement and packed away all the party decorations.  Who knew there was a floor in the basement?!  Brian.  He kept reminding me that there was, in fact, a floor in the basement, but it hadn’t been spotted in several months.

As usual, I had over bought the food.  CostCo freaks me out…. I get panicky about halfway through, as things start to spew out the top of the cart.  I start trying to calculate how much I’m about to spend…. and then I see the giant tub of peanut butter… and, yes, I add two tubs of peanut better to my cart…..’cause I’m sure I need that much peanut butter.  Yeah.  It just all seems like a good idea at the time.  Okay, it’s not entirely my fault.  Not everyone RSVP’d on time.  (Can you guess my biggest pet peeve?  Yeah, people who don’t RSVP!)   So I was kind of guesstimating the number of guest.  (People who don’t RSVP should be left outside to starve and watch the party through the window.  But of course, a good hostess wouldn’t do that…. so I always over-buy on food.)

Since I had leftovers, I decided to try to use everything up at Family Dinner Night.  Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole would use up the last of the sliced turkey, ham and swiss cheese from the Dollar Roll Sandwiches.  Normally I only use ham in the casserole, but since I had the turkey, I went a head and used it up.  No complaints from the family, but it didn’t make a big difference, so I wouldn’t bother doing it again.  I was just using up what I had.

I was also able to use up the rest of the lettuce in another salad (because you can’t buy 2 romaine hearts at CostCo, you have to buy SIX) and I chopped up the remaining chocolate clusters and tossed them into some homemade ice cream.  The very last of the leftovers went into lunches for the rest of the week.  Yay!

All in all, the party was a hit, but I am happy to have it safely and happily behind me and the leftovers out of my fridge no longer tempting me.


Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole



  • 1 large rotisserie chicken, meat removed and pulled (about 5-6 C)
  • 1/2 lb  Ham, chopped
  • 1/2 lb  Swiss Cheese


  • 4 Tbs Butter
  • 4 Tbs Cup4Cup Flour
  • 3 c Milk
  • 2 Tb Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tb Dijion Mustard
  • 1 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Pepper


  • 4 Tbs Butter, Melted
  • 2 c Crushed Cornflakes


Preheat oven to 350°  Spray a 9×13 casserole pan with nonstick spray.

Layer the shredded chicken in the bottom of the pan, followed by the ham.   Finally, layer the swiss cheese on top.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Whisk in the Cup4Cup flour to form a rue.  Allow rue to begin to bubble, but not brown.  Slowly add the milk until smooth.  Continue whisking as the sauce bubbles and thickens.  Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice, mustard and spices.  Pour the finished sauce over the base layer.

Melt the butter in a small bowl then add the crushed cornflakes.  Toss the cornflakes in the butter until completely coated.   Sprinkle over the top of the dish and bake for 45 minutes.

Avocado Brownies

Brian and I hosted our first Gluten Free Living: Dinner & Discovery event last night.  It was even better than I’d hoped!

We had six guests, old friends and new friends, some totally new to the lifestyle and some who have been living it for a while now.   We spent a great evening cooking, eating, chatting and learning.  It is so nice to be able to share the excitement and frustration of living Gluten Free with others who are on the same path.  We all had tips and questions and ideas to share…. it was wonderful!IMG_6965

We started dinner off with appetizers and sharing our stories about how we had each come to be (or consider becoming) Gluten Free. While everyone was snacking on fresh guacamole and corn tortilla chips Brian demonstrated how to make Avocado Brownies.  (MINI Food Processor: Black & Decker HC306 1-1/2-Cup One-Touch Electric Chopper …. buy one, you will love it!)

One of the things we want to do with these Dinner & Discovery parties is showcase the products and tools that we’ve found to be really useful for cooking Gluten Free. Remember, we’re not getting most of our food out of a box anymore, we’re making it.

We also want to share the recipes that we KNOW work.  When we first went Gluten Free, Brian and I ruined so many recipes because we either didn’t have the right tools (ever try putting one avocado in the full sized food processor?) or we didn’t understand the new foods (hello, coconut flour) that we were working with.

Once the brownies went into the oven, I grabbed the roasted spaghetti squash and demonstrated the way they should look and feel when they are done.  I also showed everyone how easy it was to go from squash to spaghetti…. something I hadn’t quite believed would be so easy when I first started making spaghetti squash.

With the demonstrations done, we headed to the dinner table and dug in.  Conversations wandered from food to travel and families and back again…. it was wonderful.  Good friends and good food…. good for the body and good for the soul.



Avocado Brownies


  • 1 large, Ripe Avocado
  • ¼ c Butter
  • ½ c Honey
  • 4 oz Bittersweet Baking Chocolate
  • 1 tbsp Coconut Oil
  • ¼ c Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla
  • 1 tbsp Coconut Flour (sifted)
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • ½ tsp Fine Sea Salt
  • ¼ c Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (to sprinkle on top)


Preheat oven to 350°

Cut avocado in half, peel and add to mini food processor.  Process until VERY smooth.

Melt the dark chocolate and coconut oil together in the microwave or over a double boiler.

In a stand mixer, combine avocado and all remaining ingredients (except chocolate chips) and whip until very fluffy (3-5 minutes).

Spread batter into greased 8×8 or 9×9 and sprinkle the top with chocolate chips.

Bake for 30 – 35 minutes.  Remove when toothpick comes out clean.

Avocado Truffles

Avocado Truffles

Avocado Truffles


  • 6 oz. dark chocolate
  • ⅓ cup mashed avocado (about 1 small avocado)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans, for rolling (optional)


  1. Combine the chocolate, vanilla extract and pinch of salt over a double boiler, and melt until completely smooth. Mash the avocado with a fork until no lumps are visible, then stir it into the melted chocolate mixture until smooth and thickened. Place in the fridge to set for 20 minutes, or until slightly firm to the touch. (NOT overnight… I left mine in overnight and had to warm it back up to get them to scoop.)
  2. Next, use a small cookie scoop* to scoop the chocolate into 12 balls. Roll the balls between the palms of your hand to create a smooth surface.
  3. Roll each truffle in the chopped pecan and chocolate chips mixture until evenly coated.  Serve at room temperature, but store in the fridge.

* I use this cookie scoop: Norpro Stainless Steel Scoop, 1 Tablespoon, 35mm

*Original Recipe: The Detoxinista

Wildtree Launch

Brian and I held our first Wildtree parties this weekend.  Wildtree suggests that you hold two launch parties, back to back, to give all your friends and family a IMG_6846chance to join in the fun.  It is also a great chance to try out all the products in the hostess samples and experience a Wildtree party from the hostesses’ perspective.

First off, we discovered that we like pretty darn much everything from Wildtree. There had been a couple of the samples in the hostess packs that I wasn’t too interested in…. then I got to try them…. Oh, Yum!  Like the Dill Dip…. I’m okay with dill dip… I just don’t usually buy/use dip, so I wasn’t expecting to get excited about it.  Wow!  Everybody at the party went wild for the Dill Dip.  I was more excited about using the leftover dip than using it as a “dip.”  I used some of the leftover samples from the first party to experiment with a few new recipes.  Crunchy Dill Chicken Bites Recipe… coming soon!

I fell in LOVE with the Hearty Spaghetti Sauce Blend.  Holy cats!  Just add a can of crushed tomatoes and let simmer…. SO good!  Good-Bye spaghetti sauce in a jar!

Brian really liked the Taco Seasoning.  We’re kinda nacho fanatics…. so we’ll be adding that to our pantry too!

IMG_6854I wasn’t crazy about the Heavenly Chocolate Mousse at first… the directions say to let it sit for a couple of hours before serving… so I made it the day before and let it sit….but it still tasted bitter to me.  I almost didn’t serve it at the second party, but I tried it once more and “whew” it was good!  I’m not sure if it was something I did, or if it just needed more time for the sugars and chocolate to “meld.”  I might have developed a little bit of an addiction for the Chocolate Mousse and Annie’s Organics GF Cocoa and Vanilla Bunnies!

We are so thankful to all our friends and family that came to our parties to support our new endeavor.  Spending time with friends and family (and meeting new friends) was a huge portion of the reason we joined Wildtree.  Dinner parties!  What better excuse to get together and hang out?


Family Dinner Night Meatloaf

Every Tuesday night Brian and I host Family Dinner Night at our house.  We could have anywhere from 7 to 15 people around the table.  In-laws, Out-laws, Halfs, Steps, and sometimes a random friend shows up…. we take the “Family” part fairly loosely…. Blood relation isn’t really required.

Grandpa just turned 90 and since Grandma passed he has been doing much of his own cooking… he asked for one of my crock-pots (I did have seven…. so I could spare one.)… He seems to be enjoying his crockpot concoctions, but it does make me feel good to make a full, home cooked meal for him every week.

It is also nice to have the whole family together fairly often.  I’ve never understood why some families only get together on holidays.  I mean, I get it, if you live far away or something…. but if you live in the same general area?  What is the big damn deal about getting together on a certain calendar date?  I’m reasonably available most of the year…. if you want to see me…. call.  Have you noticed how miserable those winter holidays are because you are “stuck” attending events with relatives that if they actually gave a damn, could see you most anytime of the year?  It’s not special if it’s an obligation, people.  I just don’t get it… If family is important to you… then you need to make the effort to see them.

Anyway…. this is the meatloaf I made for Family Dinner Night this week.  It’s gluten-free (I don’t know why people add breadcrumbs anyway,) and filled with yummy veggies.  If Mom got to choose, we’d never have meatloaf, but ever-so-often I like to make a “manly” meal.  I cheated and didn’t make mashed potatoes…. since Brian and I are trying to stay low-carb I try to keep FDN’s low-carb and gluten-free too.  I did make (GF) Corn Pudding though….  so they’ll get carbs…. And everyone’s favorite Autumn Salad.





  • 2 lbs Ground Hamburger
  • 1 lb Turkey Sausage
  • 3 Carrots
  • 4 Celery Stalks
  • 1 Onion
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Tbs Garlic (More or less to taste)
  • 1 tsp WildTree’s Garam Masala Blend (More or less to taste)


Clean carrots, celery and onion.  Chop into big chunks and chop in food processor until diced fairly small (not a paste…. should still be slightly chunky).  Combine veggie mix, hamburger, sausage and eggs.  (I tossed everything in the Kitchen Aid mixer.)  Next add your chopped garlic and the Garam Masala Blend.  (I used a big glob of garlic and just sprinkled the spices in…. This a a more or less to your personal taste kind of thing.)

Dump the mixture into a 13×9 pan and  shape into a loaf.

Bake at 375º for 90 minutes.

Avocado Lime Cheesecake

 I’ve been wanting to create a dessert tasting menu for…. forever!  I’ve been collecting “tasting” cups and glasses every time I see them on sale.  I found a couple of sets at TJ Maxx after the holidays on clearance!  So when my cousin graduated from high school this weekend, I decided that this was the perfect opportunity.  We created a whole line up of desserts in cute little mini dishes. We had a BBQ out by the pool and then set up the dessert bar… because if we set it up before Aunt Rosie would have snuck off with all the desserts!  (She is worse than I am about cute little cups and desserts!)

Avocado Dessert Bar

Every good menu has a theme, right?  The theme here?  Avocado!  Every dessert was made with avocado.  We didn’t say a word until everyone had polished off their desserts.   I’ve got some pretty picky eaters in my group and no one seemed to notice our secret ingredient.  I have to admit, I was impressed with these Avocado Lime Cheesecakes cups.  The avocado is pretty overpowered by the lime…. I think you could serve this and no one would ever know.

I wanted to keep all the desserts gluten-free.  Since I was serving these in cups, I didn’t bother with a “crust”.  I just ground come pecans and put them in the bottom of the glass.  With each spoonful you got a little bit of pecan..yum!

Avocado Lime Cheesecake

Avocado Key Lime PieIngredients

  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 3/4 cup cream
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 TBSP sugar
  • 3/4  ripe Haas avocados, pitted
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • pinch of salt


  1. In a mini food processor*, chop 1/2 cup pecans.  Spoon pecans into glasses.
  2. Heat cream in a small saucepan until warmed, but not boiling. Add sugar and stir until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  3. In the mini food processor , and add the avocado and cream cheese. Pulse to combine. Add lime juice and a pinch of salt and pulse until smooth. Add cooled cream mixture and pulse just to combine.
  4. Using an icing bag or Zip-Loc, pipe avocado/cream cheese mixture into the glasses. Place in freezer for several hours or overnight.
  5.  Garnish with lime zest or whipped cream if you like, and allow to thaw a bit before serving.

Yield: 8 Servings

* If you want to make a whole pie, just double this recipe or check out the original recipe HERE.

*I use this mini food processor: Black & Decker HC306 1-1/2-Cup One-Touch Electric Chopper

* I used these glasses: Libbey Just Desserts Parfait Glass with Minaiture Stainless Steel Spoon 25-Piece

Chocolate Spa Day

A few time a year I like to organize a field-trip or special event for my friends and yoga students.  Usually I plan something around the holidays, but this year just got away from me…
IMG_2065My friend and Massage Therapist, Kim and I had been talking about doing a spa day for months.  Since Brian and I have finally finished renovating the house and basement I decided to host a BIG spa day  at my house.  With Valentine’s day approaching we decided to go with a chocolate theme.

We asked some of our other friends in the spa/healing practice to join us.

We had a great line up of teachers, practitioners, artist and therapists:

  • Massage Therapy
  • Esthetician (Facials)
  • Manicurist
  • Numerologist
  • Jewelry
  • Qi Gong
  • Yoga
  • Stampin’ Up


IMG_2073Brian and I  turned our basement into spa area.  We hung curtains (queen sized, flat sheets) from the ceiling beams and put tension rods in between the pillars so that we could create a sliding door for each spa “room” . We moved one of the couches out and created a waiting area….  It actually turned out pretty nice…. Maybe we need to just turn the basement into a spa!?


Upstairs we set out jewelry and handmade scarf displays and a table of Stampin Up crafts and stamps.  I served a ton of chocolate treats and teas…. and then the crowds arrived!



We shopped and snacked, gossiped and pampered ourselves. It was a great day!




Milkaholic Party

So, like I said, I think birthdays always require a party.  My in-laws think I am crazy…. but they haven’t kicked me out yet… and I DO like to cook, so they tolerate my tendency to go a bit overboard …. Momma Lynn did draw the line at monkeys though… (Yes, I did have a party with real monkeys…. but it was just that one time… well… twice… but they were a huge hit!)

Brian’s mom and sister both have birthdays in the same month (Why didn’t they plan ahead?  January birthdays are SO hard.  I was born a whole month late so I could have a May birthday… babies need to plan better!)  Anyway… January…. We’ve just survived the holidays and been eating and parting since October … what would be fresh and fun?  Different?

A Milkaholic – Cow Party, of course!

It’s a bit of a joke to Brian’s side how much I HATE milk… I was allergic to it as a kid.  I’m better now, but I just never developed a love for it.  Not so with their crew though!  They LOVE milk.  To top it off, Sis-in-Law works with dairies (I’m not sure if that made it better or worse that it was a cow party…..) so they are all Milkaholics.

I saw this months ago on The Hostess with the Mostess‘ Blog and I’d bookmarked because it was just so cute…. I didn’t know what I would use it for, but it was just so adorable!  Half Baked – the Cake Blog actually hosted the party and they were sharing their great printables.

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Half Baked had the great idea of using Starbucks frappuccino bottles for the milk bottles.  I’ve seen where you can order the bottles online, but I like the mocha frappuccinos…. so it wasn’t exactly a chore to have to drink them.  I found Target also has frappauccino drinks in cute little bottles too for just a little bit cheaper.  After I drank all the frappuccuinos (I’d recommend planning ahead and not trying to drink 8 in a weekend like I did) I put all the bottles in a sink of very hot water to get the labels to come off.  Next I ran them through the dishwasher’s sanitize cycle.  You could probably just boil them to save yourself a step or two.

I found these cute straws at Target to use as favors.  You just slurp the milk through the straw and it flavors the milk!  They had chocolate, cookies and cream and strawberry.

To add a bit of interest to the table, I used a sheet of black & white damask wrapping paper as a table runner.  After Christmas I bought a ton of wrapping paper (at Target… yes, I am a shopaholic).  I try to get the non-Christmas-y looking paper so I can use it throughout the rest of the year.  A lot of party sites suggest using scrapbook paper, but that stuff is usually $1 a sheet…. the wrapping paper goes so much further for a much better price.  So that is why you will find me in Target the week after Christmas with a cart full of wrapping paper…. you never know what colors or styles you will want by June!

I hung tissue paper pom-poms from the chandelier to bring the colors up.  You want to bring your party colors into the room, but you don’t want to have to re-decorate your whole dining room.  Red tablecloths in the kitchen and red chargers (another after Christmas item to stock up on) in the dining room completed the look.

The cake was another blog find that I’d bookmarked and been holding on to for a while.  (Now I have Pinterest to hold all these great ideas.) iambaker created this beautiful rose cake.  It is so simple, yet so stunning!  I was feeling pretty proud of my cake…. until I squished a few roses with the cake carrier…. it still tasted great though!  Brian is in charge of making the icing (we take turns decorating).  He discovered this AMAZING recipe for Snow White Buttercream from Wilton…. it is very light and fluffy but still strong enough for most (not roses) decorating.

This party was a huge conglomeration of ideas that I’d been hording and I think most everything worked well together…. My in-laws still aren’t quite sure what to do with me….. but I think they liked it.  Now I need to start plotting next year’s party!