Spiked Oatmeal Cake

Spiked Oatmeal Cake -- Gluten Free

Living in a rainy climate like we do here in Oregon means lots of indoor days. I’m not used to this, and the girls aren’t used to this. We’re trained to expect a daily trek outside that ends up at the local grocery shop, random park, or the beach. Living on a student family budget also means we don’t get to cheat by stocking up on museum passes and extra-curricular activities. Luckily there’s always baking. 

Spiked Oatmeal Cake -- Gluten Free

I had to be strict not letting the girls lick the spoons after the the final steps of this cake had been completed as it’s magical flavor comes from rum soaked oats. Although they saw it was cruel and unusual punishment, they forgave me when we moved on to prepping the frosting and I let them have at it with as many finger scoopin’ tastes they wanted.

Spiked Oatmeal Cake -- Gluten Free

Being pregnant, my feelings towards food change constantly and are irritatingly unpredictable. That’s why I turned to this cake for our latest bake, because cinnamon rum spiked oats and can never ever be wrong.

Spiked Oatmeal Cake -- Gluten Free

I most certainly did excuse a cold square of this cake for breakfast the next few days because, ca’mon, I’m not going to wait until the afternoon to taste it again, and the extra punch of sugar than I’m used to does a sleepy preg-body some good.

Spiked Oatmeal Cake -- Gluten Free

In other non-food related updates, we know this next offspring of ours will be a boy. Yay for teeny-weenies! I am considering calling in retirement after this one because now we’ve secured our little bub I don’t have to worry about any future “I wonder… what if…”

Andrea and her family have finished their stay in France and have taken temporary harbor in Canada, the beautiful Motherland. Speaking of which, I am trying to perfect the Nanaimo bar, and a variety of other Canadian specialty foods that Phil misses constantly. If any of you have a Canadian food requests, please send it my way as I’m in the zone right now figuring out these new wonders until thisMontreal Boy of mine give is the big approval. When that Nanaimo bar is ready, I promise to be kind and share the love here.

Spiked Oatmeal Cake
Recipe type: desert cake
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 1¼ cups water
  • 1½ cups gluten free flour (regular flour can be used)
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons of bourbon
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cubed-at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1¼ cups brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons of cinnamon
  • (ca’mon, if you have it add a pinch of cardamom!)
  • ————-
  • 8 ounces chopped pecans
  • ½ teaspoon bourbon
  • 2 tablespoons GF flour
  • ————-
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature
  • 6 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Grease a 9″x13″ baking pan.
  2. This first step is not only to add flavor, but it helps the nuts from all sinking to the bottom of the pan: Begin by tossing the chopped pecans with ½ teaspoon bourbon in a small bowl. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of GF flour over the nuts and toss until coated. Set aside for later.
  3. Place the oats and butter in a large bowl. Bring 1¼ cups water to boil. Pour boiling water over oats and butter. Wait 30 seconds, then stir to moisten oats and melt the butter. Add the 2 tablespoons of bourbon. Set aside to soak for 30 minutes. *I’d recommend you lean over the bowl several times during this 30 minute period and take a massive whiff of the warm butter/bourbon/oat magic.
  4. Whisk together eggs, the sugars, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. You’ll probably have to tap your fingers here for a moment waiting for the oats to soak; or you can be diligent and clean up the mess so far like a pro would. I’ll also remind you to make sure the butter and cream cheese is sitting on the counter for the frosting later.
  5. When the timer is up on those oats, fold all these remaining mixed ingredients in with the oatmeal, stirring until well combined.
  6. Lastly fold in 1½ cups flour and the prepped pecans. Pour batter into greased pan.
  7. Bake 40-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool raised on a rack about 30 minutes.
  8. For the FROSTING: Beat room temp butter until smooth. Add cream cheese and beat until combined. Add bit by bit the powdered sugar, cinnamon, & vanilla extract until smooth.
  9. Frost the cake and enjoy both fresh and cold from the fridge! Top with extra chopped pecans and cinnamon if you’re a gourmand like me.


Posted on by Tawny in Cakes and Cupcakes, Desserts, Gluten-Free Meals We truly love to hear from you, Please Leave Us a Comment.

Light Chicken Lettuce Wraps — PF Chang Style

It’s been a good 3 months since I’ve last posted, I had to leave the goodness in Andrea’s capable hands for a time. But I’m back, I’m alive, I’m here! Three months… hmmm…. why would I avoid food-blogging for that specific amount of time? Oui, Oui, the obvious, I’m “with child” yet again! A majority of the women that exist in the world who’ve done it I’m sure can agree on one thing: food is the enemy for a minimum of 3 months. The kitchen is the enemy. Anything with flavor or smell within a 10 mile radius is the enemy.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps, PF Chang Style, Gluten Free

The food you see above I refused to touch with a ten foot pole. Had I posted something before now it might be titled “Look How Much I Love Grazing on these Cardboard Crackers.” Unfortunately my family insists on eating every single day, THREE times a day no less, so I was forced into the kitchen to make food stuffs. I doubt it tasted any good because I wasn’t testing it along the way myself…

This was my survival method. Not a joke. Ninja style. It’s very uncomfortable and difficult to breath as a grossed-out ninja. It goes without saying there were many buttered toast and sliced fruit dinners for the fam-damly.

Then about a week ago I got interesting in doing the whole chef thing again. Finally! I’d been resurrected. Pregnancy is so weird and irritating. Any-hoo, I started off cautiously by following a few saved recipes from some of my favorite fellow food-bloggers just to make sure I still knew how to chop, fry, and mix ingredients together. First was a veggie filled white bean casserole  from my number one blog crush, An Edible Mosaic. If humans could marry blogs, I might go for this one. (This was easy to make GF, simple replacement)

The second attempt at dinner was also a success, and the idea came from a new found blog I’ve been very much enjoying called Urban Baker. These Mini Gluten Free Corn Dogs were FUN to make and a huge hit with the family–particularly with Phil. They were surprisingly easy &  satisfying. As she recommended,  I froze the left-overs and used them in Teya’s school lunch later that week. I really like smart people….. Thank you smart people, you make us all very happy. (I was also able to make this sans gluten and without eggs, using EnerG Egg replacement)

Now back to that intro pic. Comfortably back in the saddle, Phil and I worked in tandem tonight to come up with a chicken wrap that mimics one of our favorite places, PF Changs. We’ve made these several times before, but they’ve always tasted a tad too Ammrrrcn. With the use of some new ingredients true to traditional Japanese cuisine and flavors, and cutting out items they’d never use like peanut butter, this time we hit it on the money. They’re very light and healthy when made true to form. Using just one chicken breast instead of two and then throwing in a heaping pile of  sugar snap peas in place also improved upon the weight of this meal.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps, PF Chang Style, Gluten Free

You know those white crispy rice noodles called Maifun rice sticks? Don’t skip on those! Not only do they add the necessary dry crisp, they’re a total blast to fry. It’s like a magic trick in your kitchen; a surprising confusing magical trick to make the burliest of manly men giggle. I witness it. Really, they’re in the Asian section of any store (bottom shelf usually) and only a couple bucks. Invest in the fun. When you fry them, make sure the oil is blazing hot (400 degrees) or no magic happens. Test one little noodle at a time: if it sinks its not ready, if it explodes in the blink of an eye it’s ready.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps, PF Chang Style, Gluten Free

Chicken Lettuce Wraps, PF Chang Style, Gluten Free

This meal is extremely simple to prepare. It looks like a long list of ingredients, but that’s mostly sauces and spices which mix up in a jiffy. Yes, jiffy is still a cool word to use. The 90′s are making a comeback, don’t ya know. When it comes down to it this meal took no more than 30 mins from beginning to end. Bon appétit…  or in true Japanese fashion, douzo meshiagare!


Chicken Lettuce Wraps, PF Chang Style, Gluten Free

Chicken Lettuce Wraps, PF Chang Style, Gluten Free

Light Chicken Lettuce Wraps — PF Chang Style
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Japanese
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • For the Stir-Fry:
  • 3 tablespoons Bragg Liquid Aminos or soy sauce*
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 tablespoons mirin**
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • about 3 tablespoons coconut oil- used in separate intervals
  • 1 chicken breast
  • one 8-ounce can water chestnuts, drained and minced
  • sugar snap peas
  • 1 cup mushrooms, diced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste (or freshly grated, ½tsp if using powder)
  • 3 tablespoons green onion, chopped
  • ½ bag of maifun rice sticks, fried**
  • large leaf lettuce for the cups, either iceberg, butter, etc.
  • For the Dipping Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons agave (regular sugar can be used)
  • ½ cup water
  • 3 tablespoons Braggs Liquid Amino or soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons green onions, chopped
  • a smidgen of spicy mustard
  • a small splash of mirin sauce
  • 1 – 3 teaspoons siracha chili sauce, depending on your level of heat pref.
  1. Begin with the chicken breast. In your saute pan/wok, fry it up on med-high in a couple tablespoons of coconut oil, 4 to 5 minutes each side until it’s nearly finished. When it’s done, set on a plate to rest and cool as you work on frying the veggies.
  2. While the chicken is cooling, prep the stir-fry sauce by whisking all the ingredients together in a bowl (this doesn’t include the coconut oil).
  3. Dice the water chestnuts, snap peas, and mushrooms. When the chicken is cool enough to touch, dice it as well (very small bits). Now add another tablespoon of coconut oil to the saute pan/wok over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the chicken, water chestnuts, peas, mushrooms, and garlic to the pan. Cook the mixture for 2 minutes, stirring often.
  4. Add the stir-fry sauce to the pan and saute for a couple more minutes, then stir in the green onions at the very end before removing from the heat.
  5. Fry the maifun sticks according to instructions on bag — usually in just a couple inches of oil (we use coconut here) on super high, 400 degrees, for a few seconds. Flip once so the other side of the noodles can explode. Let cool on a paper-towel or rag. TIP- the sticks are crazy stiff before fried, use kitchen scissors to cut them in half before frying. You’ll only need to use half the bag, save the other half for next time.
  6. Whisk together the ingredients for the dipping sauce in a serving bowl.
  7. Serve the chicken with a side of lettuce cups and the sauce drizzled on top with loads of crunchy maifun sticks.
  8. *If you’re unfamiliar with Braggs Liquid Aminos, it’s a gluten free soy sauce replacement, tastes practically the same.
  9. **Mirin is also easy to find in the Asian isle and only a couple $ per bottle. It’s sweet, and slightly alcoholic, so use lightly in dishes, but it’s quite necessary when going for a balanced authentic Japanese flavor. It’s also always used in teriyaki sauce, so there’s another good use for it once you’ve bought it.


Posted on by Tawny in Dairy Free, Gluten-Free Meals, Main Dishes, Travel Inspired We truly love to hear from you, Please Leave Us a Comment.

Dark Almond Buddies


Andrea did it! She survived! That’s one great big Check Mark on the list of “Things To Do Before You Die” list: Have a baby in France. Baby Ira is ridiculously handsome already, which in my opinion is a rare thing for baby boys… I mean, they can be cute as in Old Man Cute, but Ira is the real-kine legit cute with out the old man face. And they’re both doing really well.

Dark Almond Buddies, alternate to muddy buddies, a fantastically satisfying crunchy chocolaty sweet treat when you're eating light and healthy.

Our family also survived…. a less impressive feat than having a baby, but a feat none the less: both our girls’ b-days, cousin Chloe’s b-day, Christmas, a trip to Flagstaff, the husband had a month off school (come on, all women know having a man around the house 24/7 is ten times the work and effort than kids are…) and this was all in just a months time. Thus the near month absence from blogworld. Eden, now 2 yrs, believes that “fêtes” are daily routine and won’t stop requesting cakes, candles and cadeaux. It’s time to tell her the truth how life really works.

Dark Almond Buddies, alternate to muddy buddies, a fantastically satisfying crunchy chocolaty sweet treat when you're eating light and healthy. Click here to Read More

Posted on by Tawny in Cookies and Candies, Desserts, Snacks and Healthy Treats We truly love to hear from you, Please Leave Us a Comment.

The Secret to Perfect Sushi

I’ve been on a bit of a French kick lately, and rightly so. We need to indulge and vicariously live through our food while Andrea is living there. However, after the big Thanksgiving bash shared with my side of the family, all foods consumed were heavy American classics, I’ve been feeling like a light cleanse is in order while my body prepares for the next barrage of feats…. to happen during Christmas vacation with the man’s side of the family.

In preparation for the next calorie dense party week, two things can be found on my menu: alternate between warm veggie laden soups and Eastern meals with fish as the star. Namely, Sushi!  It’s neither difficult or scary to make yourself at home. In truth there’s only one trick…. Click here to Read More

Posted on by Tawny in Back to Basics, Gluten-Free Meals, Main Dishes, Seafood We truly love to hear from you, Please Leave Us a Comment.

The Great Croque Madame et Monsieur

I’d start by telling you a cool story about my life here in Salem, but I haven’t gathered any. I guess Thanksgiving was last week, that happened… with family in Utah. Hm, I’ll let Andrea to the story telling for the next little bit as she’s got the goods right now. So on to to this weeks drool fest:

Mr. Crunchy. That’s what it is, a “Croque Monsieur” literally means Mr. Crunchy… and although the name must extend from the bread used, the sandwich has enough sauce and cheese and goo to make any melted sandwich look weak in comparison.  The only difference between the Monsieur and the Madame is the soft fried egg on top — all these years, in my own mind, I distinguished the two by viewing the egg as a ladies hat (the massive rimmed sort worn to the Kentucky derby.) Come to find out, the resemblance of a large hat is exactly why it was dubbed the lady-wich.

Croque Madame Monsieur traditional french sandwich authentic recipe` Click here to Read More

Posted on by Tawny in Main Dishes, Sandwiches We truly love to hear from you, Please Leave Us a Comment.

The Eternal Breakfast — Autumnal Oatmeal Bake

I call this the eternal breakfast because I don’t see myself getting tired of it anytime soon, and that is mostly because the recipe is flexible enough to change as the seasons and the cravings and palates do.  Yes, it’s the same breakfast oatmeal bake idea I shared not too long ago when we first arrived in Oregon, but this one has been vamped and altered to fit the changing mentality that happens when it gets cold all of the sudden outside.

Now, here’s where I greatly hesitated to share this recipe. It has a bit of pumpkin puree in it. Let me explain. I have a thing, it’s called “anti-sheep-mentality.” That’s the official name I’ve given it. In short (and NOT because I’m better smarter or cooler than anyone out there–because that’s obviously not the case) I can’t bring myself to do anything that seems to be the group mentality movement of the moment. I don’t like to do something just because it’s expected, everyone else loves it, or it’s all the craze. For example: I was obsessed with the idea of putting a feather in my hair two years ago because secretly inside I think I’m a Native American, and then it became the trend and the idea died for me; I used to do my nails all one color except for my thumbs a contrasting one, now it’s the craze and I can no longer bring myself to do it; being fantastically “intimate” on V-day or Birthdays makes me barf because it’s expected; I don’t even like following sidewalks or paths, I usually look for an alternate route that cuts across some obscure different way.  Whatever is selling like hot-cakes and making people go ga-ga at the time, I’ll look the opposite way to make sure I don’t get trapped. My husband tells me I’d be a terrible businesswoman.

Every recipe that has ever existed is being transmogrified into a “pumpkin pie version” of that recipe across blogs and pinterest like the plague, and even though they all sound heavenly to me and I’m as much a fan of pumpkin as the next squash lover, I’ve made a conscious vow to NOT pumpkin-ize this blog so that it blends with the movement.  I ain’t no hater, and it’s not pride — I don’t think — it’s that feeling of being one of crowd that is hard for me to jive with. I wouldn’t feel like it was genuinely my idea.

But the human body senses the seasons changing, and the ground gives us larges gourd-like squash in order to thrive during the winter, and try as I may I will surrender and give in to this one pumpkin spiked meal. It’s not overpowering and it doesn’t taste like pie, but it’s thick and moist, deep and rich the way a pumpkin recipe should be.    And it’ still healthy.

Pears are the other quintessential fruit of the changing seasons, even their variety in color seems to resemble those exactly of the falling leaves. Pairing them together was a no-brainer. As by now I’ve done enough typing for one day, I give you the altered-ego of my “Basic Oatmeal Bake Brekkie” in the form of Pumpkin & Pear Oatmeal Bake.

The Eternal Breakfast — Autumnal Oatmeal Bake
Recipe type: Breakfast
Notes: * Remember you can add anything you typically like adding to your oatmeal. Your options are practically endless. Fresh fruit of course is best added later on the day of. *The good news: this is very difficult to over-bake. I stepped out of the house for the last batch and the man forgot to remove it from the oven for an extra 20 minutes! It was FINE and tasted all the same. * Try and pour a bit of milk and maple syrup on top of your square the day of.
  • 2 cups oats (best NOT to use instant, old fashioned gives better body)
  • 1 apple, grated
  • 1 pear, grated
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cups milk of choice (I used the coconut/almond combo)
  • 1-2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ⅓ cup pumpkin seeds
  • ⅓ cup sliced almonds
  • ⅓ shredded coconut (unsweetened)
  • 2-3 Tablespoons chia seeds
  • extra water as needed
  1. Heat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease an 8×8 pan — I use coconut oil, smear it around the bottom and edges, it lends to the flavor and keeps it healthy.
  3. In a bowl, grate the apple and pear down to the core. Add the pumpkin puree and mix together. Then in the same bowl add the the oats, vanilla, spices, and all the additions. Hold off on the milk for another step…
  4. Mix together and pour into the 8×8 pan. Level out evenly.
  5. Pour in the milk last once it’s ready in the pan. Watch the level of liquid, add water if needed to bring the liquid just even to the top of the oats mixture. With the thickness of the pumpkin, you may need to help coax the milk into the dish by gently sliding around a butter knife
  6. Pop it in the oven for 30 minutes.
  7. Done is done! Enjoy hot and cold, day after day.




Posted on by Tawny in Breakfast, Dairy Free, Gluten-Free Meals We truly love to hear from you, Please Leave Us a Comment.

Thai Dessert: Coconut Mango Sticky Rice

Yesterday I was all ready to be a big-fat-grump and share my pessimistic thoughts on the concept of perfection. Luckily I couldn’t finish this post in time, ironically I read some similar thoughts (but in nicer words) from a favorite food blogger of mine, and then I slept on it.

Well I woke up on the right side of the bed today. Fewf! Mind you I still feel the same way, I just don’t feel as inclined to spew all my blabbering thoughts onto this space Andrea and I share. Just in case you’re curious, I’ll still give you the cliff-notes and you can let me know if you’ve ever felt the same way:

I hail from a land where achieving perfection in all walks of life is greatly stressed. It’s a combo of religious pressure and micro-cultural social pressure. Confessional: I do try for perfection in the things I’m passionate about.     But I wish I didn’t.    It irritates me.  I almost hate letting other people see my paintings because to me, they’re never finished… there’s always something imperfect about it that “if I just spent more time on it” I could improve.     But in my point of view, imperfection is better, in a way, when I’m seeing other people and the fruits of their labors. Click here to Read More

Posted on by Tawny in Dairy Free, Desserts, Gluten-Free Meals, Travel Inspired We truly love to hear from you, Please Leave Us a Comment.

Samoan Cocoa Rice Drink

Samoan Cocoa Rice Drink

I know the word cocoa and chocolate are the most frequent flavors mentioned in my post titles… but hey, such is life. C’est la vie!

And you’ll thank me for this one.

Samoan Cocoa Rice Drink

Look at this Geode of cocoa-ness…

I am dedicating this post to my dear friend and neighbor from Hawaii, Ripeka Fruean. She is the one who taught me this treasure of a recipe… so I take that back, don’t thank me, thank Ripeka. Click here to Read More

Posted on by Tawny in Drinks, Travel Inspired We truly love to hear from you, Please Leave Us a Comment.

Gougeres, aka Cheese Puff Pastries (GF)

I’ve been very reminiscent lately. Mainly on Bordeaux. With Andreea and her family moving there, my mind and my heart are frequently exploring all the memories I cherish from the time I also called that beautiful city home. I’m looking forward to hearing all about Andrea’s adventures and stories she will have over there, I think we ALL are. But until she settles into life and we can hear from her again, I’ll keep rambling on about my “back days” (the term my daughter uses to talk about the past). Everyone had a period in their life when they sort of “discover” themselves or “become who they are,” and for me it was Bordeaux…. (well, split that 50/50 with the summer before in the Peruvian Amazonian Rain-forest with the indigenous tribes, but thats another story.)

Gougeres, aka Cheese Puff Pastry

So once again I’m resurrecting some knock out recipes gathered from the good old days when I had a French grandmother looking over each one of my shoulders instructing me on the methods, history, and secret signatures of their favorites. Today we’re making something special to go with dinner: Gougères. (said goojer with your best French accent!) Click here to Read More

Posted on by Tawny in Breads, Sides, Travel Inspired We truly love to hear from you, Please Leave Us a Comment.

Chocolate Roulade with Blackberry & Lemon Zest Cream (GF)

Blackberry Chocolate Roulade

Let’s talk French. After all, Andrea is living up her first week in her new home of Bordeaux, France, so I think the occasion calls for it!

We’ve decided to raise our children with solely French in the home. But the trick is Teya, 6 yrs old, wasn’t introduced to intense French until Eden was born. Eden, on the other hand, has heard only French since the day she was born. I’ve been asked a lot WHY?! Why take it on when it’s not my mother tongue, when Teya would be starting from ground zero at 4 years old, when it’s “not useful in America” (as so many people have told me), and when it takes so much darned effort all day long???

Blackberry Chocolate Roulade

Let’s start with the number one reason: I’m passionate about language. If granted three wishes, the first would be fluency in every language of the world. Reason enough. But I also believe Click here to Read More

Posted on by Tawny in Cakes and Cupcakes, Desserts, Gluten-Free Meals We truly love to hear from you, Please Leave Us a Comment.