Bruschetta from Mason Jar Salads and More

In late August, the tomato plants in our garden are literally dropping ripe fruit. I have so many tomatoes, I can barely keep up with them.


That isn’t a bad thing though, because I love little more than sitting on the deck, nibbling on bruschetta, made with tomatoes & basil, fresh from the garden.


And while reading through a copy of the recently released cookbook, Mason Jar Salads and More: 50 Layered Lunches to Grab and Go, I saw a simple recipe for Bruschetta. While designed for an easy to take lunch/snack, it also works great at home.


The recipes are designed to be tucked into jars, sealed, and grabbed for on the go. Be it at work, school, on the road or even for lunch as you walk upstairs. There is a mix of cold and hot meals, with so much to choose from – and vegetables are the star.




  • 5 vine-ripened tomatoes
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 8 large basil leaves, julienne-cut into strips
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Ground black pepper
  • Fine sea salt


Core the tomatoes and dice. Mix tomatoes together with garlic, basil, olive oil and pepper and salt to taste. Chill for at least 30 minutes for the flavors to come together, then transfer to half-pint mason jars, and seal, storing in refrigerator.


While bruschetta is normally used as a topping on toasted bread slices, honestly it goes on top of so much wonderfully. Boring veggie burger? Smother it. Leftover rice or pasta? A big dollop on top. Spoon on top of cucumber slices. Use as a dip with tortilla or pita chips. Or eat it with a spoon like I do….

FTC Disclosure: We received an advance copy of the book for potential review.

Coconut Cream Pie

I had been waiting for Camilla Saulsbury’s latest cookbook to come out. A cookbook just on this? Yes. The Complete Coconut Cookbook: 200 Gluten-free, Grain-free and Nut-free Vegan Recipes Using Coconut Flour, Oil, Sugar and More.


An entire book of recipes that my youngest son can eat?  Pretty much. Gluten-free, Grain-free, Nut-free and Vegan. It is plant-based diet heaven in this massive cookbook. I did slightly cheat though – I used a favorite frozen pie shell, instead of using the Coconut Flour Pie Crust recipe on page 284 – I am not comfortable using pysllium husks as an ingredient, for Alistaire yet, so I went with a crust I knew he could have.


Coconut Cream Pie (From page 286)


  • 1 prepared pie shell, cooled
  • ½ cup Coconut Sugar
  • 1/3 cup Potato Starch
  • 2¾ cups canned coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp virgin coconut oil
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Whipped coconut cream or whipped cream
  • Toasted coconut flakes, if desired


To prepare pie shell, follow package directions for baking, set aside to cool.

In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, stir together coconut sugar, potato starch, coconut milk and coconut oil. Cook, until the mixture just begins to bubble. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking, for 4 to 5 minutes, or until mixture is thickened. Remove from heat and whisk in salt and vanilla.

Pour filling into prepared pie crust. (The recipe calls for plastic wrap on top, to prevent pudding skin. Since I like pudding skin, I didn’t do this step.) Place in refrigerator to chill for at least 3 hours. Top with whipped cream, if desired, and toasted coconut.

Eat pie within 2 days.

Notes: This recipe takes about 1½ cans coconut milk. While the recipe called for full fat, I used Trader Joe’s Lite Coconut Milk and found the flavor/texture to be great. Do not though use coconut milk beverage, it will be too thin and not creamy enough. Be sure to read canned coconut milk carefully, many brands have stabilizers and preservatives added now. These are not needed, and more so, if you want to make whipped coconut cream, it won’t work unless you use unadulterated milk.

FTC Disclosure: We received a review copy. 

Single Serving Petite Pea Soup

Camilla V. Saulsbury is one of my favorite cookbook authors, and 250 Best Meals in a Mug: Delicious Homemade Microwave Meals in Minutes is a fun book to wander through.


All one needs is a microwave and a large microwave safe mug – and an appetite. This is the cookbook for solo eaters, dorm livers, travelers living in hotel rooms and anyone craving a quick meal – that is real food! Camilla lays it out in an easy to follow method.


My choice was this incredibly pretty green soup. Green peas are a great source of protein and somehow, this summer, I have been awarded basil plants that are healthy by the gardening gods. If you love basil, you will want to have this soup every day. It was tasty cold even! The recipe does need a blender, so you can smooth soup.

Single Serving Petite Pea Soup


  • ¾ cup frozen petite peas, thawed
  • ¼ cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • ½ cup vegetable broth (or chicken if non-vegan)
  • ½ tsp lemon juice
  • Ground black pepper


In a blender, combine peas, basil and broth, puree until smooth.

Transfer puree to mug. Microwave on high for 1 to 2 minutes (checking at 1) or until heated through. Stir in lemon juice and season to taste with pepper.

Serves 1.

PS: A bowl also works well for heating the soup in. It is also delicious served over a bed of rice, as a sauce.

FTC Disclosure: We received a review copy of the book.

Vegan Ice Cream Sandwiches: Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Sandwiches

Awhile back I had received a review copy of Vegan Ice Cream Sandwiches: Cool Recipes for Delicious Dairy-Free Ice Creams and Cookies, but only got around to reading it recently. The heat wave we had of late convinced me to haul my ice cream machine back out!


The authoress, Kris Holecheck Peters, wrote another of my favorite books, Vegan Desserts in Jars: Adorably Delicious Pies, Cakes, Puddings, and Much More. If you remember my review of it, I really love her style of recipes. And oh, why did I wait? The cookies are fab-u-lous, the ice creams are thick and creamy! And even if it is summer, the thought of warm spicy cinnamon and pumpkin ice cream was soooo good. I couldn’t keep the kids out of them!

Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Sandwiches


Snickerdoodle Cookies


  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt
  • 1¾ cups granulated sugar, divided
  • ½ cup non-dairy margarine (such as Earth Balance Buttery stick), at room temperature
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened coconut milk beverage (see notes below)
  • 2 Tbsp ground cinnamon


Preheat oven to 375°, line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, cream together 1½ cups of the sugar and margarine. Add the vanilla and coconut milk, and mix until well combined (I used a hand mixer). Add dry ingredients to the wet in batches and mix until smooth.

Note: I found I needed 5 Tablespoons milk for the dough. Use what it takes, until your dough just comes together.

Make balls with a 1 Tablespoon Scoop/Disher, put on a plate. Shake remaining granulated sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. Roll each ball in the sugar to coat, place 12 per cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until cookies are cracked on top and look done. Let cool, then transfer to a cooling rack. Once cool, store in a sealed, airtight container.

Makes about 34 cookies.


Pumpkin Coconut Ice Cream


  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 (13.5 ounce) can full fat coconut milk
  • ¾ cup coconut milk beverage
  • ½ cup canned pumpkin puree
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract


In a large saucepan, combine the sugar and both coconut milks, whisking. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil, whisking often. Add the pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg, whisk in. Lower heat to medium-low, and cook for 5 minutes, whisking often. Take off heat, whisk in vanilla.

Transfer to a heat safe bowl, let chill in refrigerator (I let mine sit overnight). Whisk again, to combine. Pour into ice cream machine, follow machine’s directions for freezing (my machine takes 30 minutes). Transfer to a freezer safe container, freeze for at least 2 hours before making sandwiches.

Makes about 1 quart.

To Make The Sandwiches:

Pull out the ice cream and let soften for a few minutes. Scoop up a generous amount, about 1/3 cup and place on top of one cookie, set another cookie on top and press down gently. Wrap each sandwich in plastic wrap or parchment paper, and freeze.

Let sit for a few minutes on the counter before serving.

Makes 16 sandwiches.

FTC Disclaimer: We received a review copy.

Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal & 2 Free Days For Oats Gone Wild

Thursday & Friday, June 12 & 13th, the Kindle version of Oats Gone Wild will be free for download on Amazon!


It is 75+ recipes for plant-based oatmeal, half which are stove top and half are baked oatmeal. Baked oatmeal is great for summer. Make a big batch and eat all week – and only heat up your kitchen once. The recipe below is one my favorites from the book, as it makes individual bowls. Easy serving!


Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal (Page 83)


  • 1½ cups old-fashioned oats
  • 2 Tbsp dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbsp finely sliced honey almonds (see below)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 4-ounce jars stage 2 baby bananas, preferably organic, or ¾ cup mashed ripe bananas
  • ¾ cup unsweetened coconut milk beverage
  • ¼ cup raw almond butter
  • ¼ cup raw honey, raw agave or maple syrup
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt


Preheat oven to 375° and place 4 oven-safe dishes or ramekins on a baking sheet (or use a muffin tin if you have none). Light oil dishes.

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Whisk the wet in a medium bowl, add to dry and stir. Let sit for 5 minutes, then divide between the dishes.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Serve warm or refrigerate for later. Reheat for a minute in the microwave.

Serves 4.

Go. Get Your Copy of Oats Gone Wild! And if you love it, remember it is in old-school paper as well. And share this post so everyone can enjoy a copy!

Book Review: 3 New Takes on Asian Cookery


The Everything Stir-Fry Cookbook: The Everything Series are solid cookbooks – minimalist, with no photos, but thick with recipes. I often use them for inspiration – to get my mind wandering. Stir-fry’s are easy, fast and fun for dinner.


The Everything Thai Cookbook: And…here is another one. Thai food is something I love but with Alistaire’s allergies, has become something I can’t have very often (just too high risk of peanuts and allergies in the food). With a guide, I can recreate dishes but use sunflowers and sesame instead. I worked for a Thai importer for a few years, and developed a real love of spicy meals 😉 And don’t forget, many Thai meals are naturally gluten-free as well!


Banh Mi: 75 Banh Mi Recipes for Authentic and Delicious Vietnamese Sandwiches: Bahn Mi should be everywhere! That weirdly comforting blend of French and Vietnamese foods makes a sandwich unlike anything else. Here in the PNW, finding a good Vietnamese joint is easy, for the rest of the States? Probably not so much. Learn how to make these crunchy and delicious sandwiches, springrolls, Vietnamese Coffee and so much more as well.

FTC Disclaimer: We received advance copies.

Slow-Cooker Vegetable Chili

It has been a very busy month, with a lot of work for me to get through. Which has led me to using my slow cooker (Crock-Pot SCV401TR 4-Quart Oval Manual Slow Cooker, Red) more in the past few weeks than I think it has in its whole time of being in my house….


Flipping through The Healthy Slow Cooker: 135 Gluten-Free Recipes for Health and Wellness, I went through the Vegetarian Mains section and decided to try out Judith’s Vegetable Chili, on page 251. I doubled the beans and served it over spaghetti (kinda Cincinnati style…OK, maybe not). Your pasta can be gluten-free or regular. It would also be great over baked potatoes!


Slow-Cooker Vegetable Chili (As adapted from page 251)


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, diced
  • 4 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp cracker black peppercorns
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 28 ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 2 15 ounce cans pinto beans, drained
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cups corn kernels (if frozen, thaw first)
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 1 Jalapeño, seeded and diced
  • Sour cream & grated cheese, if desired.


In a skillet, heat oil over medium. Add onions, celery and carrots, cook for about 7 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, peppercorns and cumin and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, with juice, and bring to a boil.

Transfer to the stoneware crock. Stir in beans. Cover and cook on Low for 6 hours or on High for 3 hours.

Stir chili powder into lemon juice, then into chili. Add in corn, bell peppers and jalapeño and stir well. Cover and cook on High for 30 minutes, until peppers are tender.

Top chili with sour cream and chili, if desired. For a carb boost, serve over hot pasta (I cooked up a pound of gluten-free spaghetti).

With pasta it serves 6 to 8.


For more spice, leave in some, or all of the jalapeño seeds.

FTC Disclaimer: We received a review copy of the book.

Book Review: Rosehips on the Kitchen Table


Wether you choose to forage (which I love doing on trails and in town) or you find oddities at a local farmers market,Rosehips on the Kitchen Table is a wonderful and very pretty cookbook. While it is a British book, it covers nearly everything one can find in many parts of the Unites States.

I chose this tasty one pot pasta simply for the color and variety it offered. There is something that is so good when you combine pasta and potatoes. I made the portions bigger than the book called for, but that was the beauty of it – since it was only a guide, it was easily scaled up. Enough for dinner AND lunch the next day that way 😉


Beans with New Potatoes, Pesto and Spaghetti (Adapted from page 91)


  • 1 pound green beans
  • 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1 pound spaghetti, broken in half
  • 1 batch prepared pesto (see below)
  • Half of a can black olives, sliced
  • Ground black pepper
  • Grated Parmesan cheese


Top and tail the beans. Cut potatoes into bite size pieces.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add in green beans, cook for about 5 minutes, until just fork tender. Scoop out beans with a strainer, setting aside. Chop beans into bite size pieces, stash in a large mixing bowl, cover to keep warm.

Bring water back to a boil, add in potatoes, cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until also for tender. Scoop out with a strainer, add into bowl with beans.

Return water to a boil, add in spaghetti, cook as directed on package. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, drain spaghetti.

Add in pesto to hot pasta pot and half the reserved water, stir smooth. Toss with spaghetti, adding as much water as needed to coat (I used all of the water). Gently fold in green beans, potatoes and olives. Season to taste and serve with Parmesan cheese.


Pesto is simple enough to make. For most people. Fresh basil, pine nuts, olive oil and a few other things. But lets take on two things: fresh basil is very, very expensive in the PNW out of season (and by “in season”, well that only occurs in June-August at Farmers Markets!). To make fresh basil, the basil would be around $4. Yes, $4. Ouch. That is not affordable. And then the nuts. I have never been a fan of pine nuts, and while one can use most any nut in pesto, once you start talking allergies, then you had best start making your own!

Dried basil gets sneered at, yet it has a lot of potential. If you have bulk bins of spices nearby, the dried basil, even in organic, will only cost you 50 to 75 cents. Dried herbs are often treated as second class citizens, yet there is potential to them if they are cooked with properly. Oil allows the flavor to release. As well, this pesto is nowhere as oily as commercial pesto is. It can be as smooth as you wish, or leave some texture in, which coats the pasta in a wonderful green way.

Dried Basil & Sunflower Pesto


  • ½ cup dried basil (will fill a 4 ounce spice jar tightly)
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds
  • 3 tsp granulated garlic
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil


Add basil, sunflower seeds, garlic and Parmesan cheese in a food processor. Process until seeds are ground finely, scrape sides.

With processor on low, slowly pour in olive oil, scraping sides as needed, until blended.

Let rest for at least 30 minutes before using, for basil to hydrate.

Store in refrigerator tightly sealed.

Makes about ¾ cup pesto.

FTC Disclaimer: We received a review copy.

Starting From Scratch: Quick and Simple Pasta Sauce


Starting From Scratch: What You Should Know about Food and Cooking is a food manifesto that helps young readers relate to what they eat, inspiring both budding chefs and budding food lovers in the process. Beginning with an exploration of taste and how it works, author and food activist Sarah Elton explains how ingredients have been on the move for centuries, resulting in the unique fusion of flavors we love today. She breaks down the science of food and cooking into bite-sized and easily digestible pieces of information that cover the chemistry of heat versus cold, fat versus acid, and salt versus sweet. Both practical and philosophical in its approach, Starting from Scratch demystifies food and cooking by boiling it down to the basics. Young chefs learn to make sense of recipes, measure and substitute ingredients, and stock a pantry, and discover that food is more than just a prepackaged meal. Using simple and universal examples, Starting from Scratch inspires children to eat better, try new flavors, and understand what’s on their plate. Even reluctant chefs will gain an improved sense of where food comes from and be able to join in on a conversation that continues from snack time to dinnertime.

After reading through the book, and sharing it with Walker (who has become my helper in the kitchen), we decided to try the Quick and Simple Pasta Sauce recipe, and adapt it to our taste. Fun, easy and yes, it tasted great! Even at 3 or 4 years old, children can be in the kitchen learning from us.


Quick and Simple Pasta Sauce (As adapted from page 90)



  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 28-ounce can whole or diced tomatoes (used unsalted with basil)
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning blend
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
  • Pinch sugar, to taste
  • Fine sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste



Finely chop the onion and garlic. Heat a large saucepan over medium, add oil, onions and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

Add tomatoes (with any liquid) to the pan. Add Italian seasoning, vinegar, capers and pinch of salt. Break up tomatoes with a potato masher. Cook over medium-low, on a low simmer, for 20 or so minutes, stirring often. Season to taste with sugar (to cut the bite of the acid in tomatoes), salt and pepper, to taste.

Dresses 16 ounces of cooked spaghetti.

FTC Disclosure: We received a review copy.

Banana Bread Cobbler via Comfort Food Made Easy

Love gorgeous full color photos? One for every recipe? Comfort food with a gourmet twist? While Southern Living Comfort Food Made Easy: Hearty homestyle dishes for busy cooks may be meat-centric, I still found plenty of recipes to tempt me.


I’ll admit when I saw Banana Bread Cobbler, I paused. And had to make it. It was so different sounding. So that Alistaire could enjoy it with us, I swapped in LouAna Coconut Oil for the butter called, used unsweetened coconut milk beverage instead of dairy milk, but most of all, swapped roasted sunflower seeds for the pecans. Yes, it would have been better I am sure with pecans! I truly hope that someday he can enjoy a pecan!


Banana Bread Cobbler (As adapted from pages 260-261)


  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (or dairy milk)
  • ½ cup coconut oil, melted (or butter)
  • 4 medium ripe bananas, sliced
  • 1 batch streusel topping

Streusel Topping:

  • ¾ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup self-rising flour
  • ½ cup coconut oil, room temperature (or softened butter)
  • 1 cup uncooked old-fashioned oats
  • ½ cup toasted sunflower seeds, finely chopped (or chopped pecans)


Preheat oven to 375°. Whisk together flour, sugar and milk. Whisk in melted coconut oil. Lightly oil a 8×8″ glass baking dish (recipe called for a 11×7″, which I don’t have), spread batter in it, top with banana slices. Top with struesel evenly. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.

To make streusel topping:

Stir together brown sugar and flour, add in coconut oil, work in with fingers until mixture is crumbly. Stir in oats and sunflower seeds.

FTC Disclosure: We received a review copy of the book and ingredients used in the recipe.

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