Friday, February 7, 2014

Pumpkin Pecan Cake

My mom's birthday was January 14th, so about a month ago. Since Hubby and I had given up sugar and grain we knew we wouldn't be able to do a traditional cake. And we also know that, as a nurse, she always gets a bunch of sweets and cakes from her awesome coworkers at the hospital. So I knew if I made a paleo cake, she wouldn't be missing out, even if she didn't like the cake. And I wanted to surprise her and see if she actually liked it. 

My mama!
So I started looking up recipes online. I tend to stay away from recipes with more expensive ingredients or ingredients that I will use once and then they will expire. I also stayed away from all of the recipes that use a bunch of dates. I've tried that before and it's good, but not really exactly what I was hoping for. 

I happened to find a recipe on The Clothes Make The Girl, another great blog to follow if you're wanting some new reading material! :)

Credit: The Clothes Make the Girl

This recipe wasn't for a chocolate cake, which I was hoping to find because she absolutely loves chocolate. This recipe was a pumpkin gingerbread cake. I love pumpkin and I love gingerbread, and I know my mama does too. And for the frosting, which I thought would be impossible, there was a maple-vanilla concoction! It only took me about 0.004 seconds to decide that would be a really yummy combination and the ingredients checked out alright, so I decided to go for it and hope for the best. 

I got the ingredients and threw it all together according to the instructions. I did end up having to use butter in the frosting instead of coconut oil because I forgot to get more of that and I didn't have any cardamom, but otherwise all was good to go. I put it in the oven at their house and she kept asking what I was making. I told her it was a surprise, but it was smelling good, so I was hopeful it'd be a good surprise!!

I ended up misjudging the frosting. Coconut butter tends to melt very easily and I didn't wait long enough for the cake to cool before trying to put the frosting on top, so it was a little runny and I ended up just leaving it in the fridge to let the frosting settle. I also didn't cut them into little bars but just layered the frosting over the entire top of the cake, more like a traditional birthday cake.

Then came time to cut! My mom was anxious to try. She loves treats and especially loves trying new things. They are on a very non-paleo diet so it was a totally new thing for my mom and dad. My dad was not quite so eager I don't think, lol. 

Taste test: It was delicious. It tasted exactly how I hoped it would. It took Hubby a couple of bites, but then he was hooked. My mom loved it from the start too. My dad said it tasted like cardboard ... well, you can't please them all, lol. And 3 out of 4 ain't bad, especially since he isn't used to eating paleo and his palate is a bit different. I'm convinced it's a keeper!

But I'll let you be the judge. Try it for yourself and let me know what you think! Here's her recipe:




  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 cup Justin’s Maple Almond Butter (Can sub with plain almond butter + 1 tbsp maple syrup.)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest


  • 1/3 cup coconut butter
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  • Pecan halves or whole almonds for garnish


1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Make the cake. In a medium sized bowl, combine all the cake ingredients and mix thoroughly to combine. Pour into an 8×8 oven-safe baking dish. Bake until completely cooked through, about 30 minutes.

3. Make the frosting. Place the coconut butter and coconut oil in a microwave-safe dish and heat until softened, but not melted. The length of time you need to nuke it will depend on the temperature in your house, so start with 30-second increments and repeat until you get the right consistency. Place the coconut butter and oil in a large mixing bowl, then add the honey, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Beat until fluffy with a standing or hand mixer. If you don’t have a mixer, go at it with a whisk… and good luck to you!

NOTE: I almost always over-heat the coconut oil and coconut butter, and it gets liquidy. Here’s what to do: mix it per the instructions above, then let it sit at room temperature. As it cools, it will thicken a bit. When it’s the consistency of very thick honey, drizzle it on top of the cold cake. It will tighten up like a frosting glaze, then refrigerate.

4. Assemble! Allow the cake to cool completely. Completely. When you’re sure it’s cool, you may cut it into 9 or 16 squares. Dollop a spoonful of frosting onto each square and top with a nut.

5. Chill out. When all squares are frosted, cover lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The frosting will firm up in the fridge and the texture transforms into a confection. Serve the cake squares chilled or at room temperature.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Rollin' In The Dough

Ever since we got rid of the grains, the processed foods, and the dairy Hubby has had a hankering for some bread. I have to admit, I have too. We were are total carb junkies. Bagels were my best friend! Ahem, anyway, we like bread.

I happened to see a recipe posted from one of my favorite websites, Against All Grain, and I decided to check it out. I usually do a quick survey of the ingredients used before deciding whether to Yumprint the recipe. Yeah, pretty sure Yumprint is a verb now. If you don't know what Yumprint is, you can check out my review HERE!

This recipe seemed to be ok. I don't have a ton of specialized ingredients like coconut aminos or the really expensive spices so I try to find recipes without a lot of improvisation. This one worked. So I stored it and set it in my grocery list.

Grain-Free Paleo Bread

I was a little skeptical at first because I was thinking the nut butter would be overpowering, or maybe the coconut flour. I did end up using some peanut butter instead of the cashew butter. I know, I know. Not Whole30 compliant, but it's what we had and it's cheaper. Getting back to the flavor, it was pretty surprising... and in a good way. It tasted like bread. It was a little denser, which made me happy that I picked up some unsweetened almond milk to try, but otherwise it was delicious. I did the 2 tbsp. of honey instead of just 1/2 and didn't think it was too sweet to use for regular bread, but we did end up making french toast with it. I couldn't resist. Let me tell you, that bread is super filling, so I wouldn't make a ton like we did. It ended up being ok though because we had it for breakfast the next day too.

I haven't made it to use for sandwiches yet. Honestly, the first loaf I made did not last long at all. Not even 24 hours, lol. I think we were just so excited because we hadn't had bread in so long... plus, I made most of it into french toast so we had to get 'er done! I don't regret it.

So I can't vouch for how long it stores, but she says it will be good for a week. I don't think we'll ever find that out in our household, lol.


  • 1 cup smooth raw cashew butter at room temperature
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • ½ to 2 tablespoons honey (use 2tbl if you plan to use if for sweeter dishes like french toast)
  • 2.5 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup almond milk
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt


  1. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.  
  2. Line the bottom of an 8.5×4.5 loaf pan with parchment paper, then spread a very thin coating of coconut oil on the sides of the pan.
  3. Beat the cashew butter with the egg yolks, then add the honey, vinegar, and milk.
  4. Beat the egg whites in a separate bowl until peaks form.
  5. Combine the dry ingredients in another small bowl. Make sure your oven is completely preheated before adding the egg whites and the dry ingredients to the cashew butter mixture. You don’t want your whites to fall, and the baking soda will activate once it hits the eggs and vinegar.
  6. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, and beat until combined. This will result in more of a wet batter than a dough. Make sure to get all of the sticky butter mixture off of the bottom of the bowl so you don’t end up with clumps.
  7. Pour the beaten egg whites into the cashew butter mixture, beating again until just combined. You don’t have to be gentle with this, but don’t over mix.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, then immediately put it into the oven.
  9. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Don’t be tempted to open the oven door anytime before 40 minutes, as this will allow the steam to escape and you will not get a properly risen loaf.
  10. Remove from the oven, then let cool for 15-20 minutes. Use a knife to free the sides from the loaf pan, then flip it upside down and release the loaf onto a cooling rack. Cool right-side up for an hour before serving.
  11. Wrap the loaf up tightly and store in the fridge for 1 week.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Background and Meeting The Neighbors

This is more of "Get To Know Us" post, just because I feel like it, so I'll just jump on in...

Here's a little background on my hubby's situation. He grew up in a pretty large city, a suburban setting, with lots and lots of neighbors, although I don't think he really had much of a relationship with any of them. Then he went to college and did the whole apartment thing where everyone is pretty much in their own world. After college he got an apartment on his own ... and then that's when I showed up! : )
Summer of 2012
My background is pretty different. I grew up in the country. We had two neighbors, about 1/4 of a mile away or more. The neighbor on the left was older and had always been there. He was someone who would come down and plow the driveway when it snowed or bring us veggies from his garden and stop to chat on his way out to the fields. But the neighbor on the right was whoever happened to be renting the house. So we never really got to know any of those people. I went to college and stayed in the dorms for a while. I have to say I have never hated anything more. I am someone who enjoys her privacy, and there's no such thing as privacy while living in the dorms. So I went to an apartment as soon as I could and never really got to know any of the people around me. Then I graduated and found Hubs and eventually moved in with him. 

From Thanksgiving 2012

In our first apartment together, we knew the lady next to us because she happened to be a coworker of my hubby. But really we all kept to ourselves and did the polite nod or "Good morning!" if we happened to run into each other on the way out. 

In our second apartment, we knew no one. We eventually learned the name of the guy across the hall, Dennis. He was a nice guy; Hubby always called him the sheepdog of the apartment complex because he'd been there for over 10 years and was always keeping an eye on everything and everyone. He didn't talk much, but enjoyed helping people out. But again, he was a loner and the nods and polite greetings were as far as we got into it with him too. 

Ok, so now fast-forward a couple of years and we have a house. Our first house. Hopefully, our ONLY house. We're not "starter home" people. So, since we've never really had much of a relationship with any neighbors growing up, because when you're young it's your parents who have the relationships with the other adults, but we were expecting to go introduce ourselves to our new neighbors and that'd probably be the last we heard from them. 

We never even got a chance. I can't remember now how many days we'd been in the house, but suddenly there was a red pickup in our driveway and a man at my door. It was our new neighbor. He stopped by and chatted and offered help any time we needed it and even invited us to attend his church some time. He was very nice and I was excited to tell Hubby that one of our neighbors was friendly. Then a couple of days later, another couple stop over and we find out that it is our other neighbors, who live just across the road from Neighbor #1. They brought us cookies and were so friendly and gave us all of the numbers for trash pickup, Internet, propane, etc. Just a huge source of information and guidance to help us figure things out.

We do have one other neighbor, but they seem to be the shy ones, or maybe just uninterested. So we ended up sending them a Christmas card and said hello that way. But anyway, 2/3 was shocking! 

A few days later, I found out that one of my friends at church knows Neighbor #2, and we quickly become Facebook friends. After finding out about Gus, our cuddly bunny, they stopped by with some bunny treats for us too, which was very sweet.

Baby Gus, in our old apartment

We eventually made some snacks for our new neighbors and left them there with a New Year's note. I also included some cat treats for Neighbor #2 with 4 felines! : )

Fast forward to the Snowpocolypse #1 for our area and we were completely snowed in. I had to go out and help Hubby shovel the driveway a few times because he couldn't get out or in. But shortly afterwards, Neighbor #1 came back with his tractor and dug a path for us in our driveway. And he's been doing it every time it snows since then too. 

So the whole point of this post, I guess, was just to say that I freakin' LOVE our neighbors! We were worried that we'd be a pest or that we'd be a bother or even just be completely ignored by all of our neighbors since we are younger and just starting out, but it's been completely the opposite experience. We've gotten a few different invites to church (which we haven't been able to attend since Hubby plays in the band and I teach kids' church where we go) and we've been invited to dinner. Even on New Year's, when we were all alone in our house, Neighbor #2 decided to switch their lights on and off at midnight and we did the same, just for a sense of companionship and community. 

I have recently found Neighbor #3 on Facebook and have made a little progress there, and we probably should just go over and introduce ourselves properly, but we'll get to that some day. It's all been a little overwhelming so far, but interesting to see the differences between neighbors throughout our life. We'll get over to Neighbor #3 soon, but since this is our Forever Home... we've got a while! : )