Gluten-free and vegan chocolate covered oreos

Happiest of happy Halloweens! I hope your day is filled with fun-sized milky ways, plastic pumpkins, and face paint.

It's been a good week. Last Monday night I was fortunate enough to participate in a creative non-fiction writing exercise with the Ziji Collective. The experience was like tossing scarves into the wind on an autumn day; simultaneously cozy and freeing.

The exercise was to simply write out "I remember _______." They were truths, and often short little stories. For example:

I remember wanting to read the famous sex scene in Judy Blume's Forever, but not being able to because the book wasn't allowed in my middle school library. 

I remember entering a chat room for the first time. 

I remember when my high school history teacher threw a baby doll off the porch of our trailer-classroom in order to demonstrate what happened to unfit, Spartan babies. 

We took turns reading from a book of "I remembers" and then sharing our own. What came across was a sense of connection; many of us had eyeballed the weird looking old guy on the bus or re-visited a sex scene in some piece of fiction. We had once felt cool, and then stupid, and then cool once again, and then confused. 

As Halloween approaches, I'm sure we all have many "I remembers." This holiday is the launch pad into the fall season. It's when the walk home from school felt somewhat spookier and you sorted you candy for an elementary school activity. It's a party where they've somehow made hotdogs into sexy costumes and cupcakes with lime green frosting. 

In LA, we had our first lick of Fall yesterday. While I was babysitting, Dylan and I went on a walk, and we had to put on our long sleeves for the journey out into the surprisingly crisp weather of the Santa Monica late afternoon. His family is having a Halloween party tomorrow night, so we also made chocolate covered "oreos" for celebration munchies. Quotes are necessary because these oreos were of the gluten and dairy free variety so that mom could enjoy some as well. Halloween snacks are far more fun when everyone dive right in. (I remember how sad I was when it was the era of braces and I sat looking longingly at a plate of candy apples.)

Because everything was so damn precious, I had to take pictures. 

"Do you always take pictures when you bake things?" Dylan asked me.

"For the most part," I said. The shutter clicked. Dylan, ever curious, pulled out his dad's camera (a big fancy thing) and started to follow suit.  We had a nice time. 

Gluten and dairy-free chocolate covered oreos

One pack of gluten/dairy-free oreos (Newman's Own makes a good one.)

2 cups of dairy-free chocolate chips (I use Mini-Chips. They melt easier, too.) 

3 tablespoons coconut oil 

Decorative tasties! Sprinkles, frosting, whatever your heart desire. (optional, but not really)

Melt the chocolate and coconut oil in a double-boiler or in the microwave. If microwaving, cook in 30 minutes blast until fully melted, stirring in between. 

Lay out a piece of wax or parchment paper over a baking sheet. Using a pair of tongs, dip the cookies into the chocolate, fully coating each side,  and place onto the parchment paper.

If using sprinkles, start to decorate the oreos. If not, place them into the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.

Make or prep your frosting. I used this buttercream recipe and added orange food coloring for a spOOOOOOOky result! 

 

I think we'll remember that afternoon.  Enjoy your treats, friends! I'll be romping around as Aladdin Sane tonight, so keep your eye out for some sparkles. 

-stay cozy

Raw avocado cookie bars

Avocado, meet chocolate. Chocolate, avocado. I'll give you two some privacy.  

I heard rumors that avocados and dessert went hand-in-hand, and now I know them to be true. 

A few weeks ago, I took Weston over to a neighbor's house for a playdate with his friend Tanner. We were greeted by Tanner's nanny Blas, a middle-aged hispanic woman wearing a floral pink top and blue capri pants. She instantly welcomed us both in, squeezing in between her brown arms, and then leading us on tour around the house.  Part of said tour included a trip into the backyard, where a treehouse akin to those in 90s Nickelodeon sitcoms stood tall within the avocado tree. 

I had never seen a treehouse like this one, let alone one built into an avocado tree. Let's be honest; I've never seen an avocado tree. Those guys are LARGE. While the boys ran up into the treehouse to launch into imagination land, Blas began collecting up the fallen avocados.

"Look," She said, holding out an avocado that had several tiny teeth marks gnawed into it. She turned it around a few times and shook her head. "The squirrels get them."

Some of the avocados, however, were still very much in tact. Often times, they simply fell from the trees when they got too heavy. If they were lucky enough to avoid the squirrels, Blas would pick them up and hand them to me.

"For you," She said.

I asked her if she was sure. These were avocados, for pete's sake. These cost 99 cents each, and that was at Trader Joe's! Here I was getting fresh, fat avocados for simply dropping off a five-year-old. But Blas assured me that they had plenty, and continued to stuff my hands, and backpack, full of the dark green gems. When we made out way back to the kitchen, she even placed them in a brown paper bag with a white ribbon, adding beautiful presentation to an already splendid gift. I told her thank you over and over, and assured her that the avocados would go to good use, as my roommate and I loved guacamole. 

And guacamole we made. That night, I spilled the avocados on the table and got to work; when life hands you avocados, you make guacamole. But, dear readers, there were so MANY avocados, some of them not quite ripe, that I simply had to save a few for later avocado recipes. 

Such as these raw avocado cookie bars.

I've had raw desserts before, and while there's nothing like a brownie that's terrible for you, I love that combination of sweet and healthy. It's nice to eat a comfort food that doesn't make me want to pass out afterward. 

These bars have a cookie-like bottom with a mousse-like middle. The bananas really sweeten them up and the darkness of the cocoa adds a hint of sophistication. And since they green makes them look a little spooooooky, I brought them out to the our cemetery-meditation-picnic. It was chilly and fall-esque and we drank white wine while paying our respects to the super awesome gift of life. It's starting to look a lot like Halloween, folks. 


Raw avocado cookie bars

Bottom layer

2 cups shredded coconut

2 tbsp raw cocoa powder

2 tbsp honey 

½ cup virgin coconut oil, melted

2 tbsp almond butter

1 tbsp vanilla extract

Middle layer

1 large avocado

2 medium bananas

½ cup coconut oil, melted

½ cup slivered almonds

1 tbsp vanilla extract

Top layer

¼ cup raw cocoa powder

¼ cup coconut oil, melted

1 tbsp honey syrup

1 tbsp stevia powder (optional)

1/2 cup finely shredded coconut 

Bottom layer - Pour all the ingredients in a bowl or stand mixer. Blend until fully incorporated. Transfer the mixture into a 9x9 plastic wrap-lined pan. Using your fingers, gently flatten and smooth the coconut mixture evenly throughout the pan. Transfer to fridge.

Middle layer - Slice the bananas and dice the avocado. Add to a bowl or stand mixer with the rest of the middle layer ingredients. Blend until you have a mousse-like consistency. Using a rubber spatula, spread the mixture on top of the first layer. Place back into the fridge. 

Top Layer - In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder with the honey and coconut oil. Add stevia if you think the chocolate is too bitter. Using a spoon or whisk, lightly drizzle the chocolate over the avocado layer. Sprinkle with the remaining coconut. Chill for at least 20 minutes and serve. 

Note! The bars taste amazing even a few days after, but the avocado and banana start to oxidize about an hour or so after they've been made, so they"ll lose their pretty green color. Just keep this in mind if you're bringing to an event and want to keep the color consistent. :)

They were originally found over at SweetAsHoney's blog, which is full of adorable and healthy treats. 

 Avocado cookies from an avocado tree. Never underestimate the power of a stranger's kindness, friends.

-stay cozy 

 

 

gluten-free chocolate and cinnamon scones

There's a fine line between sick days and playing hooky, and I like to walk it. 

In the outstanding cinema experience that is Space Jam, there is a moment where Daffy Duck gets hit in the face with a basketball and begins to see swirling, cartoon stars. In this snapshot of hilarity, he spins, and cries, "But Mommy, I don't want to go to school today; I want to stay home and bake cookies with you."

Ah, yes, Daffy.  I also longed to stay at home and bake cookies with my mother. It was fun. We would both wear aprons and powder our hands with all-purpose flour. Scents of cinnamon and vanilla would waft through the kitchen, and I was thankful for the oven light that allowed me to constantly check in on our creations. And even though sometimes  I was not-faking-it-even-a-little-bit-but-actually-sick,  I still thought it fun to take the day off and spend some quality time learning about the relationship goin' on between milk and cookies. 

Dylan and I share a softness for sick days. He is almost nine and I am almost 24, and we both also have a softness for Junie B. Jones. 

"Don't you just LOVE getting sick?!" He asked me one day. "You get to stay in your pajamas, you get to watch TV, you get to eat your favorite foods...."

Dylan and Daffy are correct. Staying home from school on a day that doesn't start with S is a real treat. And lucky for Dylan, he gets one of those days. It's called, "Random Thursday the 25th When The Santa Monica School System Gives Kids The Day Off."

For us, this day meant all sorts of good things. We went to the Peterson Car Museum. (Which was AWESOME by the way. I got to see some of the first ever RVs and my heart sort of completely melted all over the floor.) And then we decided to bake things.

As I've mentioned before, Dylan's mom has a gluten and dairy intolerance. And though both Dylan and Weston are free to consume as much yeasty cheesy goodness as their young hearts desire, they're sensitive to the fact that she can't. So when it comes time to fill the house with sugar and spice and everything nice, we go for the GF option.

And while cookies are the stereotypical "hooky" food, we were feeling adventures. We were feeling English. We were feeling LIKE SCONES.

Namely, chocolate cinnamon scones.

These are savory and indulgent. They're not as sweet as cookies; they're sort of like biscuits studded with the occasional drop of chocolate. We dusted half with cinnamon sugar and half with maple glaze. Both were wonderful, and I highly recommend them with tea or coffee.  They aren't sweet enough for small children, but I think they would work well for adult tea parties. Or adult hooky days. 

gluten-free chocolate cinnamon scones

scones

1  cups almond flour

3/4 potato flour

1/3 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon chia seeds

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup coconut oil

3/4 cup carob chips

2 large eggs

1/3 cup cold plain almond milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

cinnamon and sugar blend

maple glaze

1/2 cup powdered sugar

2 teaspoons melted vegan butter

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 tablespoon almond milk 

Preheat oven to 400˚F.  Grease a baking sheet with coconut oil or line with parchment paper.

In a bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, chia seeds, and salt.  Add the coconut oil. Using your hands, blend the ingredients together. Pour in the chocolate chips and mix them into the rest of the bater. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and vanilla until light and frothy.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir together until completely combined.

Drop the dough by the 1/3 cupful onto the baking sheet.  If using cinnamon sugar dusting, sprinkle the mixture on top of the scones. Allow them to rest for 15 minutes. 

If using the glaze, whisk the powdered sugar, vegan butter, maple syrup, and almond milk in a mixing bowl. Set aside. 

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until nice and toasty.  Allow to cool before adding the glaze.

Place the scones on top of a piece of parchment paper.  Using the whisk, lightly drizzle the scones with the glaze. 

You can eat them now!!

This recipe was adapted from Spoon With Me, which is probably one of the most adorable blog titles I've ever heard. 

Happy Friday, friends. I'm spending my weekend on all sorts of lovely adventures that I can't wait to share with you...I won't get specific yet, but the words "desert camping" and "vegetarian hobo packets" and  "please bring costumes" were all included in the same event description. And there's gonna be a drum circle. And yellow cake. 

-stay cozy