Tag: Breakfast recipe


Happy Birthday, Seven Stones!

PARTY! And by party, I mean read my book.

Seven Stones is one-year-old today! It’s really hard to believe that it was only one year ago that my first book was published by the most amazing folks at Riverplace Press. In that year, I went from novel novice to published author, went on a book tour, spoke at libraries, and met more incredible people along the way. This past year has been magical.

Dream come true!

Dream come true!

On this day last year was one of the most memorable, touching, and meaningful events of my life: the book release party. Honestly? I was terrified that no one would show up or that I would mess up the speech I had to deliver. Instead, I was overwhelmed by how many friends and family crowded into Prairie Bay and the scary speech went better than I could have hoped for. Such an amazing day, and I am grateful for every moment and book printed since then (Ahem, 3 printings in case you’re keeping track).

So much love!

So much love!

Thank you to everyone who made my dream a reality. Who listened to me, encouraged me, and never let me doubt myself. And a BIG thank you to all my readers! If you’ve read my book, you are on my list of favorite people. If you haven’t, check out what readers and critics have been saying, then check it out for yourself.

I have a lot more planned for my little book. Hopefully, I’ll have another book birthday to celebrate in the not-so-distant future!

To celebrate a year in my literary life, I made what Shane has dubbed, “the best things I’ve ever baked”: Cranberry Pistachio Scones.

I got the inspiration for these bad boys from my local tea shop. I went to Curiosi-Tea the other weekend and fell in love with their Pistachio Shortbread tea. One whiff of that buttery tea and I was hooked. I’ve been trying to get into baked goods ever since.

Now, if you’re not lucky enough to have pistachio tea around you, you could also try making this recipe with pistachio extract. Equally delicious. Also, don’t sweat it if you don’t have bread flour. Shane and I have been making all of our own bread since December, so we had it at home. If you have a different kind of flour—like all-purpose—feel free to sub.

The most important thing to do is make these scones. They are insanely delicious, fluffy, and just the right amount of sweet. So put the kettle on, grab a cozy blanket, and curl up with my cranberry pistachio scones. I hear they go great with Seven Stones.

Book Birthday Cranberry Pistachio Scones

Baked Pieces of Heaven

Baked Pieces of Heaven

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup unbleached bread flour

1 Tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp Pistachio Shortbread tea

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup almond milk

1/3 cup Sucanat

1 tsp vanilla

¼ cup sweetened dried cranberries

¼ cup pistachios, chopped


Preheat oven to 350°

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt, and tea. My tea was whole leaf, so I ground it to a fine powder in my mortar and pestle. Add the coconut oil to the dry ingredients and mix in with two forks or pastry cutter (if you’ve got fancy things like that. I don’t.) until the dough is nice and crumbly.

In a separate bowl, combine the almond milk, Sucanat, and vanilla. Fold in cranberries and pistachios. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir just until combined (don’t overmix). Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and flatten into a circle. Cut with a floured knife, dividing the dough into 8 equal wedges (like a pie).

Place wedges on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for about 13-15 minutes, until scones have started to brown and firm up.

Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. Once cool, drizzle with Pistachio Tea Glaze if desired (trust me, you’ll desire it).

Pistachio Tea Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar

3 Tbsp almond milk

¼ tsp Pistachio Shortbread tea, finely ground Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir until smooth. Add more icing sugar or milk to adjust the consistency if necessary.

Happy Monday!


Homemade Breakfast Cereal

My life for the past few weeks

Almost there. One class is completely done. Discussions are wrapped up. It is finals week, people! I have one last HUGE project to finish and I am FREE (for a whole month).

The struggle is real. The struggle I’m referring to, of course, is not allowing myself to become distracted by the internet. Like, for example, writing a blog post when you’re supposed to be working on your 20 page paper. Just a random example. But while I’m here, let’s talk about some cool stuff that’s been going on!

In between projects, papers, and finals, I’ve managed to have a lot of fun! Seven Stones was nominated for the Minnesota Book Award for Young People’s Literature–a dream come true!!! We’ll find out on January 30th if I make it to become a finalist! Keep your fingers crossed EXTRA tight!

Another great honor was being asked to be a member of the Multicultural Children’s Book Day Advisory Board. HOW COOL IS THAT?! The group is currently reviewing multicultural books to promote, and Seven Stones is one of them! I can’t wait to share the review. Stay tuned!!

We’ve also decorated for the holidays (nothing gets Shane happier than decorating a tree or setting up his Christmas village. Yes. It is HIS village and he is VERY proud of it), cheered on our Packers, and I’ve had so many cool things going on at the library it is hard to pick a favorite! This Wednesday is my big, 3-hour Star Wars: The Force Awakens party for 50+ kids, so wish me luck! I’ll definitely post pictures!

Before I scurry off to do more homework, I want to share a quick recipe: Homemade Breakfast Cereal. I love breakfast. I’ve never been the biggest fan of boxed cereals, however, because I never feel like they fill me up. Often, they are way too sugary and not very nutritious. During finals week, it is more important than ever that I get a good breakfast that will keep my brain fueled throughout the whole day. Enter, buckwheat.

Such a superfood, it should have a cape

Technically, it isn’t a cereal. Cereals are grains like oats, wheat, and barley. The main ingredient in this homemade breakfast cereal is buckwheat, which is a crazy nutritious seed that acts like a grain. It is packed full of protein and as a bonus is gluten-free! The best part of this buckwheat cereal is the taste: real maple, cinnamon, and vanilla combine to create a breakfast that is out of this world. Plus, while it is baking your entire apartment smells like Christmas! That’s what I call a win-win.

Make sure to plan ahead with this recipe, because it takes about 4 hours between the soaking and baking. I made a double-batch yesterday to last the whole week. I started baking in the morning, worked on my paper, went for a hike in the woods with Shane, and when we got back the cereal was done! Super easy, super delicious!

I got the recipe from one of my favorite food channels on YouTube called “Raw. Vegan. Not Gross.” The recipe below is simply a double of the original. To watch the how-to video (and for more tasty inspiration), click here!

Julia’s Favorite Cereal of POWER!


Delicious toasted cereal imbued with holiday spirit!

4 cups buckwheat groats, soaked in water for 1 hour
1 c maple syrup
4 t cinnamon
2 t salt
1/4 t stevia

1. Soak buckwheat groats for at least one hour, then rinse (soaking will get rid of starchiness and soften those groats up a bit)
2. Combine all remaining ingredients in a medium-sized bowl an mix like you mean it!
3. Spread on two baking sheets and let bake in oven at 200 degrees for 2-3 hours, rotating the pans and mixing groats around half-way through. At 2 hours, check your groats. They dry? Yes, take out of oven and let cool. No? Stick them back in until dry.
4. Crumble apart any large chunks of cereal. Pour into bowl. Pour any type of milk over the top. DEVOUR!

Happy Finals Week!


Caramel Apple Scones


I ate all my scones before I could get a good picture, but they looked just like these ones from oneingredientchef.com 🙂

I love the autumn. Crunchy leaves. That wonderful chill in the air. Scarves, sweaters, Halloween (my FAVORITE holiday). And the food. Oh, lordy, the food. In my opinion, it just doesn’t get better than the flavors of fall and those sweet-spiced treats you just can’t get enough of.

Like these caramel apple scones, for example.

You heard me right: caramel. apple. scones. The ooey-gooey-ness of caramel meets the sweet-tart of apple, and it’s all wrapped up in a fluffy scone. Can it get any better? YES! Because this recipe is ENTIRELY FREE OF REFINED SUGARS.

Wait, wait. A caramel sauce that’s free of refined sugars? But, how?! Surely, there must be some trick! You are right to be wary, but let me assure you that this is the real deal. Let me introduce you to my secret weapon: dates.


If you’ve never had a date before, you need to go to the store and buy a bag. Right now. In fact, you need to buy two because you will immediately want to make this caramel sauce. Dates are a sweet, succulent dried fruit that are essentially nature’s caramel. They are ooey. They are gooey. And they are the main ingredient in this homemade, no-cook caramel sauce.

Now, let’s talk about these scones. I usually dive head-first into pumpkin baking, but this year I wanted to explore the other flavors of fall as well (never fear, I’ll be posting a plethora a of pumpkin recipes before too long. Did I mention pumpkin is my favorite flavor EVER?). I adore caramel apples and look forward to them every year. However, the “caramel” you buy at the store–whether individually wrapped in plastic or in those white tubs–has a lot of questionable ingredients and is laced with scary chemicals. On the other hand, making a homemade caramel sauce is a PAIN (at least in my mind). I don’t have a candy thermometer, so I thought my caramel days were over.

Then, I met dates and my life changed forever.

*Cue romantic music*

I discovered that if you soak dates and throw them in a food processor (or blender) with some vanilla, milk, and salt it becomes INSTANT CARAMEL SAUCE. It really does taste like traditional caramel, and yes it is FANTASTIC to dip apples in. I’ve been snacking on caramel apples all week, and feel good about it because I’m essentially getting two servings of fruit instead of tons of artificial ingredients and empty calories.

My recipe tester (aka, Shane) is a notorious scone-hater, but he has been raving about my caramel apple scones. They taste like heavenly dessert, but are healthy enough to eat for breakfast. Now that’s what I call a win-win.

Julia’s Caramel Apple Scones


2 small-medium apples, coarsely grated

2 cups white whole wheat flour + enough to dust work surface and hands

½ cup Sucanat

1 Tbsp baking powder

1 Tbsp cinnamon

½ tsp ground coriander

½ tsp ground nutmeg

½ tsp ground ginger

pinch salt, optional and to taste

½ cup coconut oil, cold

1 large egg

½ cup plain Greek yogurt

1 tsp vanilla extract

Caramel Sauce

1 cup Medjool dates (they’re the most caramelly), soaked (note: make sure your dates are pitted! You can buy most with the pits already removed)

¼ tsp sea salt, or more to taste

1 tsp lemon juice

¼ cup milk, plus more to add for texture

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 Tbsp coconut oil

For the Scones:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
  2. Grate the apples using the coarsest blade of a box grater and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, add 2 cups flour, Sucanat, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, optional salt, and whisk to combine.
  4. Add the coconut oil, and with a pastry cutter or two forks, cut the butter in. I smoosh the butter with forks and when it’s the size of large marbles, I use my hands and knead it in. It will feel like semi-wet, cool sand. Some larger pea-sized butter clumps are okay.
  5. Add the egg, yogurt, vanilla, to the apples and whisk together
  6. Pour wet mixture over dry, and fold until just combined. That’s enough. Good job. The dough will be wet and soggy. You want that.
  7. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons flour over a clean work surface and lightly coat hands.
  8. Turn dough out onto surface and shape it into a 8-inch round, approximately. Dough is very moist, wet, sticky, and tacky, but if it’s being too stubborn or too wet to come together, sprinkle with flour 1 tablespoon at a time until you get it to come together and into a round.
  9. With a large knife (coating the knife in flour helps), slice the round into 8 equal-sized wedges.
  10. Using a flat spatula or pie turner, carefully transfer wedges (aka, curse and yell as the scones stick to the work surface) to prepared baking sheet spaced at least 2-inches apart. Do not crowd because scones puff and spread while baking. Bake for about 20 to 24 minutes, or until scones are very lightly golden and cooked through. Because they’re baking in quite a hot oven, watch them closely starting after about 15 minutes to ensure the bottoms aren’t getting too browned.
  11. While the scones cool, make the sauce!

For the Sauce:

Drain water from the soaking dates. Dump all the ingredients into a blender or food processor. Blend. Add more milk. Blend some more. Add more milk. Blend again. Blend until you get the creamy, delicious texture you want for your caramel sauce. Lick the spatula. Heck, lick the blender. I won’t judge. Okay, you’re done.

Slather the warm apple scones with the date caramel sauce and enter to autumnal baking heaven!

Suggested Pairing

A mug of pumpkin coffee and a winding trail through fall foliage

Happy Monday!



Friday Favorites!

Having Monday off really made this week fly by! I feel like we just got back from our mini-vacation and it is already Friday. Not that I’m complaining–this weekend will be filled with good food, fun, friends, and fireworks! All the important “fs.” I’m looking forward to kicking back and enjoying a relaxing weekend before continuing my book tour next weekend at Cherry Street Books in Alexandria, MN. Before I do that, here’s a list of my favorite things from this past week:


Of course our mini-vacation to Lake Tomahawk, Minocqua, and Duluth is on my list of favorites for the week! We arrived back home Monday night, and the whole week was transformed by just a little break. And I’m still dreaming of that ice cream! If you missed it, here are the pictures and stories from our magical weekend. I hope this weekend is just as good!


Local Foods: Mushroom & Lambs Quarters Quiche

When I picked up our CSA cooler this week, I scanned the list of produce and stopped in my tracks. Lamb Quarters? I knew the little organic farm raises chickens and cows, but I hadn’t heard anything about lambs. Is there seriously a quarter of a lamb in my cooler?

While I did receive spinach, spicy greens, lettuce greens, radishes, radish greens, a loaf of homemade onion bread, and honey, there was definitely no lamb. Turns out, Lambs Quarters are a wild plant that, when cooked, taste even better than and can replace spinach in dishes. Luckily, our farm newsletter included a drool-worthy recipe that I just had to try: quiche.

I’ve never made quiche before because they tend to be full of heavy cream and–to me, at least–pretty bland. Not this quiche! I share with you my adapted version of the Northern Lights Farm Lambs Quarters Quiche!

Mushroom & Lambs Quarters Quiche

Oatmeal Crust

2 cups regular rolled oats

1 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup unrefined coconut oil

1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp Sucanat, or other granulated sweetener

Quiche Filling

1 Tbsp olive oil

4 cups chopped Lambs Quarters (or spinach)

1 small onion, chopped

8 oz. chopped crimini mushrooms

1 Tbsp flour

3 eggs

1 1/2 cup milk

Enough shredded cheese to cover the bottom of the crust (the original recipe called for 2 cups. That was way too much for me, so I probably used about 1/2 cup shredded Gouda)

salt & pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit

1. Make the crust: put all ingredients for the crust in a blender or food processor and blend until the mixture turns into crumbly goodness.

2. Place a round of parchment paper in the bottom of a pie pan and press the crust into the pan and up the sides until all is covered. Note: this crust is very crumbly and delicious! You can use a regular flour crust for a firm pie, but the oatmeal soaks up the liquid from the quiche beautifully!

3. Make the filling: Sauté the onion in the olive oil until translucent. Add mushrooms and Lambs Quarters. Sauté until tender.

4. Add the flour, salt & pepper (to taste). Remove from heat.

5. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Add egg mixture to Lambs Quarters mixture.

6. Sprinkle cheese onto the bottom of the pie crust. Then, add pour filling over the top of the cheese.

7. The original recipe says bake at 325 for 45 minutes. I’d say it took our quiche more like an hour to firm up. The key here is to check the quiche and wiggle it around. If the middle looks liquidy, it needs more time.

8. DEVOUR! 🙂


Evening Horse Ride!


I was lucky enough for one of my good friends to ask me if I wanted to join her for an evening ride this past Wednesday. I’ve ridden before, but sporadically and not for many years. Fortunately for me, Kori is basically the Horse Whisperer and her horses couldn’t be more sweet. I got to ride her horse, Firefly, through the beautiful woods of the state park at dusk. It was perfect. I felt all the stress of the day evaporate as we rode. Afterwards, also got to play with the barn cats and kittens (who were just balls of adorable fluff). The 12-year-old girl in me has never been more happy! I love summer! I hope there are many more rides to come!


Book of the Week: Enchantment Lake: A Northwoods Mystery by Margi Preus

A disturbing call from her great aunts Astrid and Jeannette sends seventeen-year-old Francie far from her new home in New York into a tangle of mysteries. Ditching an audition in a Manhattan theater, Francie travels to a remote lake in the northwoods where her aunts’ neighbors are “dropping like flies” from strange accidents. But are they accidents?

On the shores of Enchantment Lake in the woods of northern Minnesota, something ominous is afoot, and as Francie begins to investigate, the mysteries multiply: a poisoned hot dish, a puzzling confession, eerie noises in the bog, and a legendary treasure that is said to be under enchantment—or is that under Enchantment, as in under the lake? At the center of everything is a suddenly booming business in cabin sales and a road not everyone wants built.

This is the first of my Author Festival books that I’ve been waiting to dive into! I got to meet Margi Preus at Beagle & Wolf Books and Bindery’s Author Festival on June 20th, and just had to get this book. A fellow YA author, Margi was fantastic to chat with and her writing is incredibly engaging! Living in northern Minnesota makes this read even more enjoyable, as I recognize many of the ‘oddities’ that Francie does upon meeting the people of the small town she’s stuck in. It is a fun read that I plan on enjoying outside, curled up in a lawn chair, with an iced coffee by my side. 🙂


Word Count

638. I had a feeling it was going to be low this week. That’s what I get for going on vacation. I played catch-up to get all the stuff done that I hadn’t been able to this weekend. Totally worth it, though. I do feel like what I wrote is “keeper worthy,” and I also spent a great deal of time hashing out details. But it’s July, people. Time to get the lead out. Goal for next week is staying at 3,000 words. I’m going to hit it one of these times!

Happy Friday! Safe travels for the 4th!


Friday Favorites: Mother’s Day Lavender Lemon Tea Cake

Although I’ll be far away from my mom this Mother’s Day, I wanted to send her a big blog hug. My mom and I have always been really close. I’m able to talk to her about anything, she’s there whenever I need her, and she’s one of my biggest cheerleaders. As a kid, my mom would encourage us to dream big and her support helps me believe that I can accomplish anything. She was the very first person to read my roughest draft of what would someday become Seven Stones. Though I was only a high school student at the time, my mom treated my writing seriously and made me feel like a real author before I ever was one. It was her love and faith in me that’s gotten me where I am today, and I can’t thank her enough.

My mom at her prom in 1974

My mom at her prom in 1974

Most importantly to a book worm like me, my mom not only taught me how to read, she taught me to love to read. An avid reader, she let my reading run rampant and never told me I wasn’t allowed to read this or shouldn’t read that. We’d spend hours just reading together, eating snacks, and talking about books.

At the book release party!

At the book release party!

My mom also taught me to love food. As a stay-at-home mother of five children, she had the daunting task of feeding her small army on a pretty small budget. I loved being in the kitchen while she cooked homemade meals and baked cookies for our lunches. Helping my mom in the kitchen stirring sauces, peeling potatoes, and cutting vegetables were some of my favorite chores. Those times with my mom made me into the food lover you see before you, so what better tribute than a delicious homemade treat?

If you want to wow your mom this Mother’s Day (or any day), this Lemon-Lavender Tea Cake will definitely do the trick! If you are intimidated by cooking with lavender, I am here to tell you to fear not! The lemon-lavender combination is refreshing and springy, and the glaze is out of this WORLD! Best of all, you get to give your mom (or yourself) a treat without refined sugars, oils, and is made with wholefood goodness. She’ll be so proud.

Lemon-Lavender Tea Cake

1 1/2 cups white whole-wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup plain organic yogurt

1 cup Sucanat (or other granulated sweetener of your choice)

3 extra-large eggs

2 teaspoons grated organic lemon zest

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ cup organic cold-pressed sunflower or olive oil

*Note: You could try substituting applesauce for the oil, but I’m not sure what that would do to the texture. Feel free to experiment!*


1/3 cup lemon juice (squeeze that lemon you used for zest)

1/3 cup Sucanat

2 tsp lavender buds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 5 ½ by 9 inch loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.

In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup Sucanat, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla.

Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.  With a rubber spatula, fold the sunflower oil into the batter, making sure it’s all incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick poked in the center of the loaf pan comes out clean. After it’s cooled for about 10 minutes, remove cake from pan and put it on a baking sheet because this next part is going to get MESSY in the most delicious way possible.

MEANWHILE: While the cake is baking, heat the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup Sucanat and 2 tsp lavender buds in a small pan until the sugar dissolves. Set aside for about 20 minutes (so if you make this while the cake is still baking, it will be perfect!).

I like to leave the lavender buds in the glaze, but you can also strain them out after 20 minutes if you prefer. Pour the warm glaze over the warm cake and let it soak in all that goodness.

Cut into slices, if you have willpower. If not, eat half the cake while no one is looking.

Pairing Suggestion:

A pot of Earl Grey Tea, your mom, and a whole afternoon to enjoy

Happy Mother’s Day!


Earl Grey Scones with Lemon Icing

earl grey

This past weekend, Shane ran in his first 10K on Saturday in sunny 60 degree weather (and got 3rd place! Woohoo!), and I was out in my garden plot, tilling and prepping the soil for planting. Today, it is snowing. SNOWING. But that’s Minnesota for you.

But the snow isn’t going to bother me. Why? Because I am glowing! My publishers just told me that Seven Stones is going to a second print!!! That’s right, we’ve almost sold out of the first printing, so my publishers need to print more books!!! I feel like doing cartwheels–if I hadn’t thrown my back out ripping up soil. Instead, I’ll just do a mini-happy dance on my couch. YAY!

THANK YOU to everyone who has bought a copy of the novel, told their friends about it, or wrote a review. Word of mouth is HUGE and I just can’t thank you enough. If you’ve read the book, I’d LOVE to know what you think! You can post reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and LibraryThing. Or just send me a message! 🙂

In just a few minutes, I’ll be off to Brainerd for meetings with my publishers, publicist, and a TV interview! I’ll be sure to let you guys know how everything went in my Wednesday post, but until then I’d like to share a delicious spring recipe and my new obsession: Earl Grey Scones with Lemon Icing.

My favorite breakfast is a hot cup of tea and a warm, fluffy scone. One day, I wondered if I could combine my two loves into one delicious pastry. After much experimentation, I bring you Earl Grey scones! They are light, slightly sweet, and are topped with a tangy lemon icing that will melt in your mouth. As an added bonus, my recipe calls for coconut oil and whole wheat flour, so you can feel a little better about indulging in this spring inspired treat. Even if it is snowing outside, you can still have a little spring in your day with these sweet and tart scones!

Earl Grey Scones with Lemon Icing

2 cups white whole wheat flour (soft white spring wheat is what I use)

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

3 tsp loose leaf Earl Grey Tea, crushed (or the contents of 2-3 tea bags)

½ cup coconut oil (or Earth Balance)

½ cup milk (I found that either dairy or non-dairy work perfectly)

2 eggs (or vegan substitute)

1/3 cup Sucanat

2 tsp vanilla

Lemon Icing:

1 cup organic powdered sugar

3 TBSP milk

1-2 tsp lemon extract

*Note: I like mine tangy, so I used 2 tsp. Just keep adding a bit at a time and tasting until it is lemony enough for you!*


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and the Earl Grey tea leaves. Add the coconut oil or Earth Balance to the dry ingredients and mix in with a fork or pastry cutter until the dough is crumbly. *Note: I used my hands to squish it all together. It’s messy, but fun and effective!*

In a separate bowl, combine the milk, Sucanat, and vanilla. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir just until combined. The dough will be very sticky. Scoop the dough out onto a floured surface and pat it into a flat circle, about 2 inches thick. No need to knead. The less flour you incorporate into the sticky dough, the better as moist dough makes moist scones

Cut the circle with a floured knife into eight equal wedges (like a pie). Place wedges on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, until scones have started to brown and firm up.

Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. Once cool, drizzle with lemon icing.

Pairing Suggestion: Enjoy with a cup of—what else?—Earl Grey tea

Happy Monday!

What is your favorite spring flavor?


The Best Muffin Recipe: Double Coconut Banana


The book release party is three days away.

I feel like grabbing a megaphone and announcing it for all to hear: THREE DAYS!!!! And in case you didn’t see the post on Facebook, you can now preorder copies of Seven Stones through my publisher’s website (coming to Amazon soon, but we prefer people buy direct from the RiverPlace Book Store because then we don’t have to share the profits with anyone else ;)). And yes, I will sign copies ordered through our website.

Two other great things happened over the weekend: I finally turned the corner and am feeling much better. I’ll probably be a little sniffly for the party, but I’ll take it over what I went through last week. I was exhausted. All I could do was go to work and sleep. I’d get home at 6pm and crash on my couch. Game over. This week, my energy is back, so I can get properly excited for the party!

Second great thing: I am done with midterms! I don’t know how I did yet, but I feel that they went very well. In any case, they are behind me and I can focus on what is truly important. THE BOOK RELEASE!

Oh, and there is a final great thing to share: one of my best friends from high school is coming from Maryland to spend the week with me! She flew in last night to Minneapolis, rented a car and then drove the four hours up to Bemidji, all to be here for me during book release week. I am beyond excited to spend time with her; it means so much that she will be here for the release. YAY!

To celebrate all these good things, I am going to share with you my favorite muffin recipe: my double coconut banana muffins. They have all sorts of goodness in them: coconut, banana, lemon, steel-cut oats, and honey. A yummy and refreshing way to start your day (or, as an afternoon snack). I adapted my recipe from this one that I found last year. Through many trial and error batches, I now bring you the perfect celebration muffins. Enjoy!

Julia’s Double Coconut Banana Muffins of Joy

2 cups white whole wheat flour

1 cup steel cut oats

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

zest of 1 lemon, grated

1/2 cup virgin coconut oil, melted

3 ripe bananas, mashed

1/2 cup honey

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup shredded coconut, plus more for sprinkling

Sucanat, for sprinkling

1. Preheat over to 375 degrees. Grease a muffin tin with coconut oil. Not gonna lie, most recipes say they yield 12 muffins. The way I make muffins, this recipe makes six GINORMOUS muffins. I like muffins the size of my face.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Then pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until combined.

4. Once the batter is divided into the muffin tins, sprinkle the tops with shredded coconut and Sucanat.

6. Bake for 20 minutes. Once out of the oven, make sure to let these bad boys cool for about 10 minutes before diving in (the coconut oil needs time to cool and harden or your muffins will fall apart). DEVOUR!


Suggested Pairing:

A cup of organic Ethiopian coffee and your best friend

Happy Wednesday!!!

What is your favorite muffin flavor?



Spiced Pear and Hazelnut Baked Oatmeal

pear oatmeal 2

I hope wherever you are reading this from is warm with tropcial breezes and sandy beaches. Where I am,  it is cold. Beyond cold. The kind that literally takes your breath away and makes you think, “HOW CAN ANYTHING BE THIS COLD?”

Welcome to Minnesota.

​Just like last week, I’ve been making more baked breakfast recipes. I need extra motivation to get out of my warm bed in the morning, and this Spiced Pear and Hazelnut Baked Oatmeal does the trick. This week, I had a bag of Bosc pears I’d bought on sale and thought, “I could probably make something with these.” Oh, did I ever! I tossed together my favorite spices (cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg), and added some chopped hazelnuts for protein and flavor. Enter, Spiced Pear and Hazelnut Baked Oatmeal. The best oatmeal you will ever eat.

You could say that I am kind of a connoisseur of baked oatmeals. It all began back in 2008, when I was hired at The Sweet Spot during my college days at UW-Whitewater. If you’ve never had the pleasure of eating at The Sweet Spot, it is a cafe/bakery that has some of the best food I’ve ever eaten–no exaggeration. One of the dishes that gets baked prior to opening each morning was baked oatmeal. Layers of spiced fruit, nuts, and oats combine to make a meal that you will actually be happy getting out of bed for. I’ve made this for people who detest oatmeal but shoveled the baked version in because baking the oats keeps them from getting mushy. Give this recipe a try. It is a warm, satisfying way to start your day that’s packed with whole food nutrition.

Pears not your favorite fruit? That’s one of the great things about baked oatmeal: you can swap out virtually any flavor combinations! Apple/Cranberry/Walnut, Blueberry/Almond, Peach, and Strawberry/Rhubarb are some of my favorite standard flavors. If sweet isn’t your thing, try a savory oatmeal. The only limit on flavor possibilities for this wholesome breakfast dish are your palette,  imagination, and the laws of nature! Have fun!

Spiced Pear and Hazelnut Baked Oatmeal

9×13 glass baking pan

Enough Earth Balance to grease the pan (or butter)

6 cups regular rolled oats

2.5 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup hazelnuts, crushed

4 eggs

1/2 cup applesauce

1/2 cup maple syrup

2 cups milk

2 tsp vanilla

1 Tablespoon cinnamon

1/2 Tablespoon cardamom

1/2 Tablespoon nutmeg

Sucanat for sprinkling (optional)

6-8 very ripe pears, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1. Cut and core pears (I like to keep the skins on) and put them directly into the prepared glass baking pan. Sprinkle with a few handfuls of Sucanat, to taste. Add cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg. Toss everything together and set to the side.

2. Mix dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients together.

3. Add the crushed hazelnuts to the dry ingredients. Note: The best method I’ve tried is not chopping nuts but “crushing” them with the side of a chef’s knife. Very quick and easy!

4. Add the wet ingredients to the try ingredients and mix well.

5. Pour the oatmeal mixture over the pears and spread with a spatula.

6. Pop the delicious pan of unbaked goodness into the oven for about 25 minutes.

DEVOUR! Cut into squares and serve warm with hot or cold milk poured over the top.

Photo courtesy of the tasty kitchen blog

Photo courtesy of the tasty kitchen blog

Happy Eating!