Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes with Blueberries and Chocolate Chips

Eric and I love eating leisurely Sunday breakfasts together, and pancakes seemed to fit the bill today. I used this recipe from All Recipes for some inspiration to make healthier pancakes from scratch.

To make this recipe gluten-free, use gluten-free flour like Bob’s Red Mill, oats that were processed in a gluten-free facility (again like Bob’s Red Mill), and Rumford baking powder.

whole wheat oatmeal pancakes 2

I began by combining a half cup of whole wheat flour (instead of all-purpose) and a half cup of rolled oats in the food processor. I added baking soda, Rumford baking powder, sugar, salt, and vanilla extract to the mix.

oatmeal pancakes ingredients  oatmeal pancakes in the food processor

Next up: organic whole milk instead of buttermilk, coconut oil instead of vegetable oil, and an egg. I blended it all together to make the pancake mix.

oatmeal pancakes in the food processor with egg and coconut oil  oatmeal pancake mix

I used a 1/4 measuring cup to pour the mix into a hot pan coated with coconut butter. I added dark chocolate chips and blueberries on top. When I flipped them, they had turned a lovely golden-brown on the bottom.

oatmeal pancakes with blueberries and chocolate chips in the frying pan  oatmeal pancakes golden brown in the frying pan

This recipe made 8 pancakes, using the 1/4 measuring cup. I drizzled mine with maple syrup, while Eric preferred nutella. Needless to say, there were no leftovers. 🙂

oatmeal pancakes, done!  oatmeal pancakes ready to eat!

I will end with this adorable shot of Leia, our Sheltie puppy, doing her best to be cute for a bite! (Sorry girl.)


What are some of your favorite breakfast recipes?


Wednesday Wedding Thoughts: Practical Money-saving Tips

When Eric and I got married, we had a specific amount of money to spend on the wedding. We had both taken out student loans. Eric was in his last year of physical therapy school, and I had only been working for one year as a speech therapist. It was very important to us to stick to a budget.

Many websites out there offer good money-saving tips, such as:

  1. Get married in the off-season, or in the afternoon on a weekday.
  2. Limit your guest list, and don’t allow people to bring dates.
  3. Get married in a park or public space.
  4. Buy a used wedding dress, and let your bridesmaids pick their own dresses.
  5. Serve appetizers and/or desserts, not a full catered meal.

We didn’t follow any of these rules, and yet we still managed to stay within our budget. Here are some practical money-saving tips from personal experience.

1. We got married on a Sunday afternoon in August, and ended the reception around 4:30. Afternoons were simply cheaper. Since many of our guests traveled 1-2 hours to get there, an early wedding also allowed them extra time to get home for work the next day.

2. Similarly, we served a late lunch around 1:00, which was less expensive than dinner prices.

3. I bought my wedding dress in December for less than $500. After Christmas was great time to buy because stores were getting ready for the spring collection. I bought my veil from this Ebay store for less than $20.

wedding dress

Wedding dress shot

4. Littleborroweddress.com. This wonderful website allowed my bridesmaids to rent their dresses for $50, plus shipping. I chose the color, and I allowed them to choose the style/neckline they wanted. Since a few of them lived in the same area, they shared the shipping fee.


Gowns from Little Borrowed Dress

5. I used Hobby Lobby 40% off coupons religiously. I love the Retail Me Not app, and I literally went to Hobby Lobby every single day to use that coupon. I bought props for the photo booth, rolls of tulle, a garter, string, cords and rings for our unity ceremony, place card holders, craft paper, double-sided tape, and even thank you cards. Fyi, Jo Ann’s and Michael’s also accept competitor’s coupons.

unity cords

Braiding the cords for our unity ceremony

paper hearts

Paper hearts that I made from old books

wedding centerpieces

Book-themed centerpieces, with paper flowers that we made from old books

6. We bought a small display cake from Harding’s, a local grocery store, and ordered three large sheet cakes. It cost us less than $200. It did entail a $35 delivery fee, but it was still less expensive than ordering from a specialty bakery.

wedding cake

Wedding cake on display

What are your money-saving tips for planning a wedding?

Hearty Buddha Bowls with Quinoa, Garbanzos, and Roasted Vegetables

For last night’s dinner, I was inspired by a few blog posts (here and here) to create my own version of a Buddha bowl, or health bowl. You start with a grain (like brown rice, quinoa, or barley), add veggies, perhaps some greens and seeds, a protein (beans, chicken, or fish), and a simple dressing.  I read online that the name may originate from Buddhist monks going from door to door to ask for food. Whatever the origin, I am a fan.

The building blocks: Quinoa + garbanzo beans + roasted veggies + olive oil, rosemary, thyme = Buddha bowl!

I started by soaking 3/4 cup of garbanzo beans overnight (they expanded to make a little over a cup). I threw them in the pot, brought it to a boil, and reduced the heat. It only took about 20 minutes for them to soften, and they had a great texture that popped right when I bit into one. I set them aside for later.

garbanzo beans

Garbanzo beans, aka chickpeas

After the garbanzos were done, I used the same pot to make quinoa. I added two cups of water for one cup of quinoa, brought it to a boil, and reduced the heat. I covered the pot, and in 15 minutes, I had light and fluffy quinoa! I did let it sit for a few minutes to absorb excess moisture.

quinoa cooked

Quinoa, cooked and fluffed

In the meantime, I had been cutting up veggies to roast in the oven: white onion, carrots, potatoes, zucchini, and brussel sprouts. I cut the veggies evenly and at an angle to allow for more surface area, and consequently, more flavor. Then I minced up a few cloves of garlic and added cherry tomatoes. I drizzled olive oil on top, sprinkled thyme and rosemary into the mix, gently mixed everything together in a roasting pan, and stuck it in the oven at 375 degrees for one hour. (Inspiration for roasted veggies found here.)

veggies, pre-roasted

Veggies, pre-roasted

During that hour, the house smelled amazing – of garlic, caramelizing onions and carrots, and aromatic herbs. When I took it out, the veggies had cooked perfectly. (Notice how they shrank just a bit.)

veggies, post-roast

Veggies, after they roasted. I love these colors.

Eric and I combined the quinoa, garbanzos, and roasted veggies into a bowl for our dinner. We both had seconds, and there was enough Eric’s lunch the next day.

I love Buddha bowls because they’re super easy, readily customizable, and very forgiving – its hard to go wrong roasting vegetables. This combination of ingredients had a heartier flavor, and would definitely hit the spot during winter time. For a more summer-time feel, I might add kale or wilted spinach, avocado, and take away the potatoes. There are so many possibilities when it comes to Buddha bowls!

buddha bowls

Dinner’s ready! I definitely love tomatoes more than Eric does.

Have you ever made a Buddha bowl? What ingredients did you use?

Vegan Macaroni and Cheese from The Guilt-Free Gourmet

As a bridal shower gift, my mom gave me a series of cookbooks called The Guilt-free Gourmet by Vicki Griffin. There are some great vegan recipes in these books, although it was hard for a beginner like me to follow the recipes, especially with no pictures or detailed instructions. I decided to try an old favorite: mac and cheese, but with a twist. Since the book includes only vegan recipes, this recipe replaces the cheese with cashews.


I started by cooking small shell pasta. I kept a close eye on it because I didn’t want it to get too water-logged, since the recipe bakes in the oven later.


Small shell pasta, drained

In the meantime, I gathered the ingredients for the cheese sauce: raw cashews from the freezer, sesame tahini, lemon juice and water, nutritional yeast flakes, garlic cloves, and a small jar of pimientos (not pictured).


Ingredients for the “cheese” sauce – except I forgot the pimientos

I blended it all together in the food processor, and this is what I got.


Vegan cheese sauce. I can’t believe I got this from cashews and tahini.

I poured the “cheese” sauce into a baking dish, then added the shells. I topped it with Panko breadcrumbs and frozen peas, and stuck it in the oven for 30 minutes.


Vegan mac and cheese, pre-baked

This is what I got!


Vegan mac and cheese, out of the oven!

Eric said it tasted like Korean Shin Ramyun, I think because of the pimientos. Not exactly typical macaroni and cheese, but a much healthier and tasty substitute!


Have you guys ever tried vegan cashew cheese?

Wednesday Wedding Thoughts: The Registry

While Eric and I planned our wedding, something we really looked forward to was the wedding registry. It seemed like a piece of cake: go to the store, go shopping (!), and point the clicker at plates, bedding, towels, and gadgets. In reality, we forgot a TON of stuff – mostly the less glamorous items, like home organization items and cleaning supplies. Luckily, we could assess our registry online and added (and deleted!) several things. Here are a few.

These Glasslock containers are absolute lifesavers. After we cooked dinner with our fancy new pots and pans, we realized that we needed a place to store leftovers. We bought two sets, and they’re microwave and dishwasher-safe and basically unbreakable. We also take our lunches to work in them, and it works like a charm.

glasslock containers

We had a lengthy debate over our shower curtain.. and of course forgot that we couldn’t hang it without hooks and a liner.

shower hooks shower liner

Similarly, something else you can live without – until you can’t: an ice cube tray.

oxo good grips ice cube tray

We also added a bathroom scale , as well as a bottle brush to clean water bottles, vases, and other narrow items.

taylor glass scale      oxo good grips bottle brush

What are some other easy-to-forget items to add to a wedding registry?

Raw Almond Butter Cups from Oh She Glows

I have a longstanding love for dark chocolate, but I don’t love the calories from all the enticing fudge-y, gooey desserts out there. This recipe from Angela Liddon at Oh She Glows is a great and delicious alternative to those calorie-dense desserts.

I started by making the base for the almond butter cups. I combined raw almonds and rolled oats in the food processor.

almond butter cups flour ingredients

Raw almonds and rolled oats in the food processor

After I blended it, it had a “meal-like” consistency. I then blended in almond butter, coconut oil, pure maple syrup, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and a pinch of kosher salt. The dough was fairly sticky, sort of like a loose cookie dough.

almond butter cups almond and oatmeal processed

Almonds and oats, blended into a meal

I put the base aside and melted some dark chocolate chips for the topping. (The recipe called for cocoa powder, but dark chocolate worked just fine.) I added more coconut oil and maple syrup, plus another pinch of salt, whisked it together, and it combined to make a smooth and decadent chocolate sauce.

almond butter cups chocolate frosting

Chocolate sauce from melted dark chocolate, coconut oil, maple syrup, and salt

I spooned the almond-oatmeal base into paper liners in a muffin pan, then drizzled the chocolate sauce on top. I stuck the pan into the freezer (make sure the pan is flat, and not tilted!) and waited for about 30 minutes.

almond butter cups in the pan

Almond-oatmeal base, plus a drizzle of the chocolate sauce, in the pan

The cups were melt-in-your-mouth delicious, sort of like a Reese’s peanut butter cup – but so much healthier! If you’re like me, I sometimes equate “healthy” with “tasteless” or “bland.” These almond butter cups are anything but. The almonds give the cups a smooth, creamy taste, and the chocolate sauce added buttery richness – just what you’d want from a delectable dessert.

almond butter cups finished

Finished product. Good enough to share!

This recipe from Oh She Glows is simple to make. Its perfect for a hot day because it requires no baking, no hot oven, and not too much waiting :). What dishes do you make on hot, humid days?

Favorite Kitchen Organizers

I love shopping – not for clothes – but for home organization solutions. Creating a beautiful space doesn’t always mean boxes, drawer organizers, and matching canisters lining your pantry. Here are some simple solutions to keep your kitchen space clean and tidy when you’re cooking.

Oxo Good Grips stainless steel mixing bowls are some of my favorites. Nesting bowls are automatically easy to store, and they are multifunctional: you can use them for meal prep, and they’re pretty enough for serving. I use mine to mix ingredients for baking, toss salads, whip up sauces, and even eat popcorn.

oxo good grips nesting bowls

I love Pyrex’s glass measuring cups for the same reason – their many uses! I use them to measure out ingredients and keep sauces and reductions until needed. Plus I store my cooking spoons in them so the spoons don’t drip on the stove. Because they’re glass, they can handle the heat better than plastic.

pyrex measuring cups

Lastly, these magnetic measuring spoons by Progressive and stainless steel measuring cups by Oxo Good Grips are super efficient and pretty. The measuring spoons, especially, because they stay together neatly and have two ends – a narrow end to fit into spice jars, plus a rounded end for everything else.

Image  Image

I use these to stay organized in the kitchen. What are some products that you like to use?