A Charcuterie Board Christmas Party – Hors d’oeuvres Stations + Two Winter Cocktails

I love me a good charcuterie board. And really who doesn’t? So this Christmas I planned a party with boards & platters scattered about the house. The dining table held the largest selection of meats and cheeses. And though this was a party meant for mingling, I left the chairs. Have a few morsels from one board, then move to a new table or chair! See the recipes below for a Smokey Old Fashioned and an Amarula Coffee – both are guaranteed to warm you up this winter.

Smokey Old Fashioned

  • 1 tsp Smoked Maple syrup
  • Bourbon of choice (Michter’s is Josh’s choice)
  • 1 dash of aromatic bitters
  • 2 dashes citrus bitters
  • 1 Filthy black cherry (NOT maraschino)

Stir the above ingredients until maple syrup dissolves. Then pour over a large ice cube and stir again.

Coffee with Amarula + homemade whipped cream

  • Brewed coffee (regular or decaf)
  • Amarula (It’s a South African cream liqueur)
  • cinnamon sugar in a salt shaker
  • 1 c. Heavy whipping cream whipped until peaks form with 1 Tbsp Maple syrup

Mix the coffee and Amarula in a carafe to your preference. Try a ratio of 3 parts coffee to 1 part liqueur. Guests can pour their drink and top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar.

*I forgot a picture of the dessert board but it held bite sized brownies and chocolates along with some cookies a guest brought. (You can see it on the table beneath the TV that showed photos from past Christmases).

My Little Girl’s 4th Birthday Tea Party

My parties keep getting smaller and smaller. If I spend less on food to feed a crowd I feel justified spending more on the fun extras!

This was G’s first “friends party” instead of a family & friends party. I decided family would make a way to celebrate with her, but I wanted to do something fun that was just for her and her little friends. Introducing a “garden” tea party.

I use the term “garden” loosely.

It was outside.

In our front yard.

Which shamefully needs a gardeners assistance.


Banana Nut Muffins – No White Flour

Let me start by saying my expectations for banana nut muffins are very high. I have always said my mom makes THE best banana muffins in the world. The. World. They are so moist they practically melt in your mouth, and she always makes them into mini muffins which makes them even more delectable. Yum. There aren’t any pieces of nuts. I guess she grinds them pretty  fine so you still get the flavor of the nuts, but with the capability of warm melty-ness in your mouth. So you get the picture. I’m in love with them. For that reason, I’ve never attempted banana nut muffins. If perfection has already been attained, why try to top it? Well, I don’t know her ingredients, but I’m guessing she uses white flour. That calls for an attempt at “healthier” banana nut muffins on my part.

Continue reading “Banana Nut Muffins – No White Flour”

Best Ever Pumpkin Muffins

And they are healthy! Boom! How did that happen? I have no idea. I have tried to make pumpkin muffins and bread so many times before and they were never pumpkin-y enough. or moist enough. Or they just lacked flavor and Oomph, ya know? I had resigned myself to paying for a Starbucks Pumpkin loaf because nothing else that I made ever hit the spot.

Enter the Spelt Pumpkin Muffin.IMG_7743


It is the best pumpkin muffin I’ve ever made. So soft and moist. Perfect flavor. and light. (If you want dense, go for the Starbucks loaf).

So here’s how it happened. I stumbled upon the 100daysofrealfood blog. Check it out. Good stuff. All about cutting out processed food. I’ve made the whole wheat muffins twice. And they’re good, but whole wheat is a strong flavor. My kid eats them and loves them though, so I’ll keep experimenting. A healthy snack is a healthy snack. Plus, with an iced coffee, it works. But when I saw the pumpkin muffin recipe that calls for Whole Spelt flour I was intrigued. Milder flavor, she says? Oh yeah! These muffins taste better than any pumpkin recipe I’ve tried using all purpose flour. And instead of sugar – honey!

I’m eating deliciousness, and it’s not bad for me!!!


Here’s the thing: I added my own extra little topping. It’s like the icing on the cake. The muffin would be incomplete without it. (Personally, I think all muffins should have a topping. Don’t you?)


This little beauty is topped with Trader Joe’s honey roasted sliced almonds and a tiny bit of cinnamon sugar. Not healthy? Whatever. I’m all for eating sugar in moderation. If this isn’t moderation, I don’t know what is!

So you probably have a few questions, like what is spelt? Basically it’s an ancient whole grain. Been around forever. It’s a type of wheat.

Why is it good for me? Because it’s not processed and refined like a white flour so you’re body actually gets nutrients from it.

And THAT is the purpose of food. To give our body nutrients. When food is delicious, AND my body is actually benefitting from it, I am a very happy girl 🙂



yields 12 muffins

  • 1½ cups whole spelt flour
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice blend
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup honey
  • ⅓ cup melted butter
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 -2 tsp cinnamon sugar
  • 2 Tbsp sliced almonds (honey roasted or plain)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with liners and set aside.
  2. Using a whisk or fork mix together the flour, pumpkin spice, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and drop in the eggs, honey, and melted butter. Incorporate the flour mixture into the wet ingredients a little at a time using a spatula (or spoonula). Mix together until well combined. Fold in the pumpkin puree. Do not overmix.
  4. Scoop the batter into the muffin pan so it’s evenly distributed. (
  5. Top with sliced almonds and cinnamon sugar. You may want to use 2 tsp of cinnamon sugar if using plain almonds.
  6. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean, about 18 – 20 minutes.
  7. Enjoy with an iced coffee! Store at room temperature or freeze for later.


Healthy Fruit & Nut Couscous

I just have to share this recipe. It’s about as healthy as you can get and it is SO good. No added sugars, whole wheat couscous, plus dried fruit and nuts. It makes a great breakfast, but you can eat it anytime and probably even use it as a side dish in a meal. I enjoy it because it’s kind of like an alternative to oatmeal, but BETTER! (mostly because the cous cous is like chewy little pasta balls 🙂 Yum!


  • Whole wheat couscous
  • Dried apricots (unsulfured)
  • Almonds (or any nuts you prefer)

Prepare the couscous according to the package directions. I make 1 cup which equals 2 to 2.5 cups when cooked and can be used for a couple days.

Toast the almonds. You can do this in a dry skillet on the stove, but I do it in a toaster oven for about 7 minutes. You’ll know they’re toasted when you can smell them. (I also toast a bunch at one time and store them in a container)

Chop the dried apricots and almonds and mix into the couscous.

For one serving of couscous I use 2-3 apricots and 4-6 almonds. I just keep the prepared couscous in the fridge so I don’t have to make it on the stove each morning. Then I mix in the fruit and nuts each morning so I can change it daily! You can eat this at any temperature, but I like it best when it’s hot.


Other variations to try:
dried cranberries and walnuts
cashews and dried strawberries
fresh fruit
try incorporating 2 or 3 kinds of fruit with 2 or 3 kinds of nuts


Chocolate Croissants 2.0

I tested out some different ideas for chocolate croissants a few weeks back. I used chocolate chips in some and nutella in others… Nutella definitely wins!

So I made them again this week!

This is so super simple and it is so yummy. It’s like eating at a coffee shop but you get 8 croissants for the price of one!

8 made at home chocolate croissants > 1 chocolate croissant from coffee shop

Here’s my super simple recipe:

1 can of reduced fat pillsbury crescent rolls
1 jar of nutella

*note: you will not use the whole jar of nutella… Unless of course you scarf it down while you wait on the croissants to bake.

**note: I used reduced fat crescent rolls because you ate all that nutella!

Unroll the crescent roll dough and separate the triangles. I use a small spatula and spread nutella on one whole side of a triangle. Spread extra nutella on the wide end and loosely roll up from that side. Place on a baking sheet and bake according to the directions on the crescent roll package. How easy is that?! I watch the cute lil things until they’re golden on top but still pale yellow in places. That’s when they’re fluffy and moist inside (but not doughy!) And you don’t want to over cook them because they will be dried out. Just sprinkle with powdered sugar to make them extra cute and wallah! You’re finished!

Paired with a cup of coffee, this is delicious! Coffee and chocolate croissants are a brilliant food combination!