365 Project: Easy, yummy vegan chocolate mousse recipe

Yummy vegan chocolate mousse
1-4 servings
This recipe is vegan, gluten-free, and sugar-free

2 tablespoons organic coconut oil
1/4-1/2 cup organic almond or coconut or almond/coconut milk
1/4 cup organic cocoa powder
1 organic avocado in big chunks
1 organic banana in big chunks
OPTIONAL: 1 tablespoon chopped nuts (almonds, peanuts, or pecans)

In this order,  put cocoa powder, coconut oil, then milk in a blender/vita mix. (NOTE: For a lighter mousse, add 1/2 cup milk, for denser mousse, add 1/4 cup milk.) Start on low to mix in the cocoa powder then blend on high until frothy and the coconut oil is liquified. Scrape down sides.  Add the avocado and banana. Blend until creamy.  Scrape down the sides then blend again.  Serve this mousse in ramekins for one serving or up to four dessert shots. Sprinkle with chopped nuts. Enjoy this guilt-free mousse, which in our family can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner!


  • Add sweetener as desired such as honey, agave, or stevia.  But, try it as is…you may be surprised how good it is without any sweetener at all!
  • Add 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter to create a slightly stiffer yet still creamy consistency. It also adds a slightly salty/sweet taste.
  • Serve with a dollop of your favorite whipped cream to gussy it up. 😉

365 Project – 316: Lemon dream tart…puckery sweet and gluten-free (November 11, 2012)

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I’ve posted pics of this tart before but, here’s the link again to this yummy gluten-free recipe. I make this a lot!

I made the lemon curd and crust the night before. The crust recipe made enough for one 9 inch tart pan and six 5 1/2″ oval creme brulee dishes so I modified the recipe to stretch out the filling since the lemon curd alone wasn’t enough to fill my tart AND tartlets.

I made the whipped cream ( a pint of heavy whipping cream, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract), whipped in 8 oz. of softened cream cheese, then once smooth I whipped in the lemon curd.

I froze the tart (s) then one hour before serving put them out to thaw. The raspberries can be added before serving or before putting in the freezer. As an option you can serve with additional whipped cream. This is my go-to fundraiser dessert, especially when they’re looking for a gluten-free dessert. It’s creamy, tasty and sooo pretty!:)

See more of my 365 Project: Untouched photos from my Nikon D5000 with 50mm lens

365 Project – 297: RECIPE: Easy filipino chicken adobo (October 24, 2012)

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Oh, I wish there was smell-a-vision so you could inhale this garlicky, vinegary, soy saucy perfume of happiness!! 🙂 Adobo is probably the most popular filipino dish in the States, and in my opinion, it’s one of the easiest to make. I wasn’t born in the Philippines but, fortunately I did learn how to cook some of my favorite filipino dishes. Here’s my version of adobo (there are TONS of adobo recipes out there). It’s a bit Americanized but, it’s still authentic enough and I have fans far and wide that love my adobo. I haven’t been great at sharing the recipe (I don’t measure…I tend to cook with my nose…seriously) but, I actually measured this morning so here goes!

Please be a recipe tester for me and let me know how it turns out for you!!!   I hope you come to love adobo as much as we do!


Serves: 4
Adobo is best if it’s served overnight or if you can make it in the morning to serve for dinner. It just gets better day after day.

9-10 chicken thighs (skin on, bone in)
1 head garlic, smashed and broken into whole cloves, skin on or off
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup red wine
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 – 3/4 cup soy sauce (per your preference of saltiness)
1/4 cup water
1-2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2-1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Suggested accompaniments
Pepperoncinis (for garnish)
White or brown rice
Steamed or sauteed green veggie (broccoli, swiss chard, kale, mustard greens,  etc.)

In large pot add all ingredients, except chicken, and bring to a medium boil. Heat up your frying pan on high. (Add oil if necessary just to prevent chicken from sticking to your pan; non-stick pans require no oil.) When pan is hot add the chicken thighs, skin side down first, ~ 3 minutes to brown on each side. Transfer browned chicken to pot. Bring mixture to a hard boil, with tongs move chicken around in pot to make sure all pieces get coated (all the chicken will NOT be submerged by the liquid.) Cover pot, reduce to simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
OPTIONAL: Halfway through cooking time rotate the chicken pieces, top to bottom, to help disperse the flavor more evenly.

Serving suggestions:
* Chicken is ready to eat after an hour but, if you can let it sit longer, up to a day or two, it tastes better.
* Adobo is traditionally served with steamed rice and a simple vegetable on the side, like steamed broccoli or mustard greens.
* Greek pepperoncinis served as a garnish are a great spicy/sour/acidy compliment to adobo. I HAVE to eat adobo with pepperoncinis! 🙂
* In the summer, a refreshing side is a mix of diced tomatoes, diced white onion, and cilantro tossed with a little olive oil and salt.
* My adobo recipe is saucy compared to others, like my papa’s version, which is less saucy (it’s fattier with pork AND chicken and, super tasty too!), so you’ll end up with leftover sauce.  So, after you quickly gobble up the chicken, SAVE your adobo sauce!  Just serving it on rice later is so yummy AND, truth be told, I have re-used my adobo sauce by browning up more chicken, adding it to the sauce, and getting another meal out of it. Don’t dump all that umami flavor down the drain!  Although, I wouldn’t re-use the sauce more than once. You can freeze the sauce too.
* This recipe serves 4 but, I recommend making a huge batch because it makes for GREAT leftovers and freezes really well.

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And, here’s what the adobo looks like when it’s done. Mmmmm….

See more of my 365 Project: Untouched photos from my Nikon D5000 with 50mm lens

365 Project – 257: RECIPE: Chicken Cacciatore from “Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook” (September 12, 2012)

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School’s started and the crockpot is one of my favorite and easiest ways to get a hot meal on the table at the end of the day. Not only do we end up with a homemade meal but, you walk in and the house smells heavenly and the cleanup is minimal.

I use a lot of recipes from “Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook” by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann. This, and other recipes from this cookbook, can be found by clicking on this link. Here’s my version of the recipe, adapted from this cookbook, which my family gobbled up last night. 🙂

Probably the main difference in my version is that I like to brown the chicken and saute the onions and garlic before putting them in the crockpot. I also didn’t have dry white wine on hand so I used an opened bottle of champagne instead, which worked fine. And, because it was easy and convenient, I used all chicken thighs instead of mixing it with drumsticks. The original recipe is a bit easier because everything goes into the crockpot, without any cooking on the stove, but, I like the texture and flavor of the chicken better with my added steps.

The original recipe suggests serving this over rice or noodles. I added potatoes so you can eat this as-is right out of the pot. To keep this gluten-free I omitted the flour and I served it up over polenta. I also made my own marinara sauce, which I consider pretty easy to do. I just recommend using San Marzano tomatoes, which you can buy in the can at any store. In my opinion, they just have a richer, sweeter tomato flavor. Lastly, I increased the portions a bit to make this a recipe for 6-8, instead of 4.  My family has big appetites. 🙂

I’m curious what you think of this recipe, compared to the original version.  Make it and come back to leave a comment with your take on this recipe.  Enjoy!

Serves 6

~ 4 cups homemade marinara sauce (see recipe below)
1 medium-size yellow onion, cut in half and sliced into half-moons
1 to 3 cloves garlic, to your taste, minced
1 medium-size green bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
1 tbsp coconut or canola oil
8-10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
6 ounces fresh mushrooms, quartered
~ 1/4 cup dry white wine or champagne
3 cups fingerling or red potatoes, in 1/2 inch chunks
Shredded parmesan cheese to garnish (optional)

1. In a skillet or fry pan, heat coconut or canola oil on medium high heat, add your chicken and brown about 1 minute on each side
2. Layer half of the marinara sauce and all of the bell pepper, and browned chicken in the crockpot.
3. To the skillet, on medium high, add the onion and saute 1 minute to slightly soften,  add the garlic and saute another minute (turn down the heat if the garlic starts browning), then add the wine or champagne. Heat on high and scrape up all the browned chicken bits. Let reduce a couple minutes then pour into the crockpot.
4. Add the potatoes, sprinkle the mushrooms on top and cover with the remaining marinara sauce.
5. Cover and cook until the chicken is tender and cooked through, 2 1/2 to 3 hours on HIGH or 6 to 7 hours on LOW.
6. Serve as-is or over rice, noodles or polenta. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese if desired.

Additional Notes: I love mushrooms in this recipe but, my daughter doesn’t so I’ve made this without them and it tastes just fine. I’ve also followed the original recipe, by skipping steps 1. and 3. but, I prefer this version with the extra steps of browning the chicken and sauteing the onions and garlic. For sure, I have ADDED steps to this recipe but, I still think it’s pretty easy. It took me about 30 minutes to prep and get this all into the crockpot, including the time it took to make the marinara sauce below.

1/3 cup olive oil
1 medium-size yellow onion finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 28-oz can San Marzano tomatoes
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1 – 2 tbsp agave syrup or sugar, to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

In medium size skillet saute the onion and garlic in 3 tablespoons of the olive oil until softened, ~ 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the salt and pepper. Heat until bubbly then reduce heat to a simmer. Stir, cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Puree with an immersion hand blender to break up whole tomatoes. Taste and season with salt and pepper. If using this sauce in the above chicken cacciatore recipe, the sauce is ready to use since the flavors will continue to develop in the crockpot. Otherwise, cover and let simmer another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sauce can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week or frozen for 2 months.

See more of my 365 Project: Untouched photos from my Nikon D5000 with 50mm lens

365 Project – 139: RECIPE: Lemon dream tart, topped with raspberries and kiwi, on gluten-free almond crust (May 17, 2012)

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For Mother’s Day weekend I made this lemon dream tart topped with fruit for our Sunday dinner as well as the lemon cream tartlets below for a dessert auction to raise money for our local farmer’s market. Because I used a gluten-free crust, I received many requests for this recipe. The recipe for the crust is from Oven Spoonful, a local catering company, who taught a gluten-free cooking class in my house for my birthday last year. These lemon tarts were one of the highlights  however, I did modify the recipe slightly which was a result of wanting more filling in my tart. Instead of just putting the lemon curd in the crust (which is tasty as-is), I folded in some whipped cream which made this my “lemon dream tart.” In the end, I actually ended up liking this filling better because it cut the tartness and even the sweetness of the lemon curd a bit. It also served to give me the volume I was looking for. And, the crust recipe is exactly the same. I am just adding some extra details to the instruction portion of this recipe. There are four recipes in this post: 1) lemon curd which you should make hours or the night before, 2) lemon dream filling, 3) gluten-free almond tart crust, and 4) fruit glaze. Here you go!


8 large egg yolks
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
1/2 cup plus 2 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
1 cup sugar
1/3 tsp salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 TBSP) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces

Combine yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar in a heavy-bottom saucepan; whisk to combine
Cook over medium=high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon (be sure to scrape the sides of the pan), until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, 8-10 minutes, and registers 160 degrees F on an instant read thermometer. Remove saucepan from heat.

Add salt and butter, one piece at a time, stirring until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve into a medium bowl.
Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming.
Refrigerate until chilled and set, at least 1 hour or up to 1 day

Fill your tartlets or tarts using the gluten-free almond crust below.
OPTIONAL: top with fruit brushed with fruit glaze (recipe below) and dollops of whipped cream. Grate lemon zest on top. 

NOTE: save your egg whites up to 3 days in the refrigerator or freeze them in ice cube trays.  make egg white omelettes, meringues, pavlovas, angel food cake, etc.  don’t throw them away! 🙂


1/2- 1 cup of pre-made whipped cream or make this one from Food Network
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
Lemon curd – chilled at least an hour (see above)

Whip the vanilla extract into your whipped cream.  Fold  this whipped cream into your lemon curd to your preference of puckerness or firmness; the whipped cream dilutes the lemon flavor and you may need more time for your filling to firm up.  The filling will not be firm like a gelatin, it will be slightly soft because of the cream.  But, it should not be runny.
Fill your tartlets or tart and let chill at least an hour. Overnight is recommended.
OPTIONAL: Top with fresh fruit and brush with fruit glaze (recipe below); if possible add the fruit and glaze as close to serving time as possible.  It is also fine to add the fruit and glaze up to a night before.

iPhone photo of lemon dream tarts; these tarts were baked in a muffin pan


2 cups almonds – finely chopped
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup sugar
4 oz. butter – softened

Grind the almonds in the food processor until finely chopped but, not to an almond flour; some coarsely chopped almonds are okay
Add the flour and sugar to the food processor and pulse; add the butter 1 oz. at a time until mixed
*Press into ungreased tart shells or a tart pan
Bake at preheated oven at 350 degrees until nuts are toasted; in tart shells or muffin pan: 8-10 min., tart pan: 12-20 min.
Let sit in pan(s) at least 5 minutes before gently removing tarts and transferring to wire rack. Let cool completely until filling.

* This makes approximately 10 tartlets or an 8″ or 9″ tart. To make it easier to transport your tart, cut out a circle of parchment paper a little bigger than the bottom of your tart pan so that the paper goes up the sides a bit. Press your crust on top of the paper.
* If you don’t have tart pans you can press the crust into an ungreased muffin tin; press halfway up the sides of each muffin cup. I used ~ 3/4 of  a standard sized ice cream scoop for each muffin cup. When pressing the crust up the sides use a substantial amount to give your tart more structure and make it easier to remove from the pan. Your tart may crumble if the sides of your crust are too thin. To loosen from the muffin pan, gently use a butter knife in one spot to start the loosen and lift the tart out of the pan.
* Baked tarts can also be refrigerated or frozen to be used later.


Heat 1/4 cup of jelly with 2 tablespoons with water in a saucepan and mix until jelly is diluted.
Cool completely before brushing glaze on your fruit with a pastry brush.

* The fruit glaze is optional but, it adds a nice sheen to the fruit and it also adds some sweetness to fruit which may not be fully ripe. In the tart photo above I made the mistake of using a marionberry fruit glaze on the kiwi fruit. It was great for the raspberries and tasted wonderful but, a lighter colored jelly would have been a better choice for the kiwi slices. Maybe an apricot or apple jelly would be better for a lighter colored fruit glaze. When choosing a jelly, keep in mind the flavor of the fresh fruit you’re using and pick a complementary flavor and color.

Enjoy these recipes.  If you try them out, please come back and let me know how they turned out! Share your photos on my food photography flickr page here!

See more of my 365 Project: Untouched photos from my Nikon D5000 with 50mm lens

365 Project – 75 : RECIPE: Quinoa tabouleh (gluten-free) (March 15, 2012)

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Tabouleh is such an easy salad…AND, I think it also photographs well! LOL I don’t normally food-blog for these 365 Project posts but, this is an easy recipe so why not?

In the past I typically used couscous but, since I’m trying to go gluten-free I decided to use quinoa, which is a staple in my freezer (you don’t have to freeze it but, since I get the large bag from Costco I freeze it.) Because of the high protein value in the quinoa and the feta cheese, this salad can be sufficient as a vegetarian entree, or it makes for a colorful, complementary side to any simply prepared or mediterranean-spiced meat dish. Here’s the fast, easy recipe:


Quinoa: Follow package instructions to prepare 1 cup uncooked quinoa cooked in 1 3/4 cups broth/water. Package directions will tell you to use 2 cups of water. I find that makes for a soggier tabouleh. Make sure all the liquid is absorbed before removing from the heat.


1 minced garlic clove
1/4 cup oil
juice of one lemon
1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt (salt to taste but, keep in mind the feta cheese will also add salt to this dish)
dash of ground cumin powder

1/2 cup diced cherry tomatoes (~ 12 cherry tomatoes sliced in quarters)
1 cucumber seeded, peeled and diced*
1 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Prepare the quinoa, fluff with a fork then set aside and let cool slightly. While the quinoa cooks, whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients in a salad bowl. Add the tomatoes, cucumber and parsley to the vinagrette and toss to marinate. 20 minutes before serving, add the cooled quinoa to the veggies, toss well. Lightly toss in the crumbled feta cheese right before serving. Serve immediately at room temperature.

* To seed your cucumber, peel it then slice it lengthwise.  Scoop out the seeds like you’d scoop them out of a canteloupe.  Then dice.  This is an optional step but, it really makes for a nice crunchy bite to your salad.

MAKE AHEAD: You can make the vinaigrette up to a day before. You can marinate the veggies up to an hour ahead of time. Quinoa can be prepared a few hours before serving. Make sure to fluff the quinoa and refrigerate.

See more of my 365 Project: Untouched photos from my Nikon D5000 with 50mm lens

RECIPE: Ina Garten’s “Perfect Roast Chicken” (gluten-free)

This really IS the perfect roast chicken recipe.  It’s easy, quintessential comfort food and the juicy chicken just falls off the bone.  Serve it with mashed potatoes and for something different saute’ brussels sprouts with apples.  It’s simple.  Drizzle the brussel sprouts with olive oil, add a little salt and pepper, saute’ until starting to brown, then add the apples and cook until still slightly crisp.  Enjoy!

Perfect Roast Chicken
from Ina Garten’s “Barefoot Contessa”

Note: The Barefoot Contessa cookbook includes gravy as part of this recipe but, to make this a gluten-free recipe the gravy instructions are not mentioned here. My family isn’t into gravy and this chicken doesn’t need it. So, without those 2 tablespoons of flour in the gravy, this meal is completely gluten-free! 🙂 And, I’ve also made this recipe without the carrots and fennel when I’m rushed or lacking the ingredients. It’s still FABULOUS! Don’t omit any of the other ingredients though.


  • 1 (5 to 6 pound) roasting chicken

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 large bunch fresh thyme, plus 20 sprigs (in a pinch i’ve used ~ 5 tablespoons of dried thyme rubbed inside the chicken)

  • 1 lemon, halved

  • 1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise

  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, melted

  • 1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced

  • 4 carrots cut into 2-inch chunks

  • 1 bulb of fennel, tops removed, and cut into wedges

  • Olive oil


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pin feathers and pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, both halves of lemon, and all the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place the onions, carrots, and fennel in a roasting pan. Toss with salt, pepper, 20 sprigs of thyme, and olive oil. Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan and place the chicken on top.

Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes. Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve it with the vegetables.

RECIPE: Gluten-free Spritz Cookies

Gluten-free Spritz Cookies
Makes 5 dozen cookies.

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/4 c Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-free All Purpose Flour
heaping 1/2 tsp xanthum gum
1 tsp almond or vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix the butter and sugar. Stir in the remaining ingredients.

Place dough in cookie press; forming desired shapes on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake until set but not brown, 6-7 minutes (in my oven, as i made several batches it took less time to bake). Immediately remove from cookie sheet.

Decorating the cookies

Immediately after removing the cookies to a wire rack, sprinkle with decorating sugars. The faster you sprinkle the better chance the sugars will actually stick to the cookies. As an option, at the last minute of baking you could quickly sprinkle the cookies with decorating sugars.

I love Spritz because the different shapes are so festive and they make small holiday bites. They can be a bit dry so I like to decorate or dip them in chocolate or white chocolate. In the microwave or in a double-boiler (my preferred method) melt semi-sweet chocolate chips or chocolate baking bars. My decorating method is organic and NOT refined. I take either a spoon or toothpick an drizzle or “paint” the chocolate on the cookies. My daughter is at the ready to decorate so the sprinkles adhere to the melted chocolate. Although not pictured here, I like to double dip the spritz with dark chocolate on one side and white chocolate on the other. Leave as is or lightly sprinkle. Get creative, make it a fun holiday activity, or like us, make it an annual tradition. These cookies make great homemade holiday gifts. Happy baking, decorating, eating and giving!