Mexican Casserole

This Mexican Casserole makes a quick and tasty meal.
Mexican Casserole
Yield: 8 servings
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 (16 oz) container salsa (I use Newman Own's medium salsa)
  • ½ green bell pepper, chopped (about ½ cup)
  • 1 (15 oz.) can organic sweet corn, drained
  • 1 (16 oz.) can chili beans, not drained
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 2 cups crushed organic corn chips
  • 1 cup firmly packed fresh kale (or spinach)
  • 1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained well (or about 1 cups fresh chopped tomatoes)
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  1. Place the beef and onion in a skillet with a few tablespoons of olive oil. Cook until browned; strain and rinse.
  2. Return the cooked beef to the skillet and add the remaining ingredients. Bring the mixture to a simmer.
  3. Place the crushed corn chips on the bottom of a greased 9" by 13" baking dish.
  4. Spoon half the bean mixture over the chips. Spread the kale (or spinach) on top. Add the remaining bean mixture. Sprinkle on the diced tomatoes.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Sprinkle on the cheddar cheese and cook another 5 minutes. The casserole should be warm and bubbling.
  6. Serve with sour cream and chopped fresh cilantro if desired.

Apple Tortilla Pie

Have I ever mentioned that I love Mexican food? Well, I do. So much so, that I even allow tortillas to infiltrate my apple pies. But don’t worry, it’s a good infiltration.

Apple Tortilla Pie

The result is this delicious layered apple pie that’s simple and not too sweet. I like throwing it together, whenever I have leftover whole wheat tortillas on hand, and serving it warm. I’ve yet to have a scoop of vanilla ice cream to accompany it–it’s tough living in an ice cream free home!–but it’s still good without it. I can’t complain.

Apple Tortilla Pie
Yield: 8 servings
  • 4 Tbs butter
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • ½ cup sucanat (or brown sugar)
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 cups peeled and chopped apples
  • 3 whole wheat flour tortillas (I use this recipe)
  1. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the remaining ingredients (except apples and tortillas) and stir until combined.
  2. Reserve a few tablespoons of the sauce for later. Stir in the chopped apples.
  3. Grease a 9" pie pan. Place a tortilla in the base of the pan. Layer on ½ of the apple filling. Place the second tortilla on top. Layer on the remaining apple filling and top with the third tortilla. Spread the reserved sauce on top of the tortilla.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until bubbly and the apples are tender.
  5. Serve warm or cooled.

Orange-Spiced Muffins

Orange flavored muffins–the idea sounded delectable. Was it worth a try? After some contemplation I decided it was. The result led me to a great mathematical discovery:

Oranges + Muffins = Deliciousness

I’m not the only one that agrees with that equation. My mom and other members of my family back it up too. Consequently, these muffins don’t last long around the house. (Maybe I should have doubled the recipe. Hmm. I didn’t think of that!)

Muffin recipe x 2 = lots more muffins

Now we’re talking!

Moist, orange flavored muffins–dairy-free and delicious!
Orange-Spiced Muffins
Yield: 1 dozen
  • 1¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 heaping Tbs ground flax seed
  • 1 Tbs baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup vanilla almond milk
  • ¼ cup sucanat (or brown sugar)
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • 1 Tbs orange zest
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract (increase to ½ tsp if using regular milk)
  • ⅓ cup chopped pecans
  • 2 Tbs flaked coconut
  • 2 Tbs sucanat (or brown sugar)
  • 1 Tbs melted coconut oil
  • 1 Tbs orange zest
  1. Whisk together the flour, flax seed, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In a saucepan, heat the coconut oil until melted. Stir in the almond milk, sucanat, and honey until combined. The mixture should be warm to touch (not hot).
  3. In a large bowl, combine the heated coconut mixture with the applesauce, orange zest, and vanilla; blend until combined. Mix in the dry ingredients.
  4. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with muffin liners. Divide the batter evenly in the muffin cups.
  5. Stir together the pecans, coconut, sucanat, coconut oil and orange zest and sprinkle on top of the muffins. Lightly press the topping into the batter.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for 18 minutes, or until golden. Serve warm or cooled.

Homemade Pizza

Homemade Pizza
Simple, doughy homemade pizza!
Homemade Pizza
Yield: 3 medium pizzas
  • 2 cups warm water (I use the warmest water from the tap; about 105 degrees)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 7-8 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tbs yeast
  • cornmeal for sprinkling
  • 1 (24 oz) can tomato sauce (I use Classico Tomato & Basil)
  • 1 lb. cooked ground beef
  • 16 oz shredded cheddar cheese
  • dried basil and oregano, to taste
  • pineapple tidbits
  1. Combine water, oil, salt, 3 cups of flour, and yeast; mix until combined. Add another 2 cups of flour and knead, gradually add additional flour as needed until the dough stops sticking to the bowl. Knead an additional 5 minutes.
  2. Divide the dough into three balls. Roll each ball of dough on pizza stones sprinkled with cornmeal. Roll up the edges to form a crust.
  3. Spread the tomato sauce on the dough (I use about ¾ cup per pizza).Top with ground beef, pineapple tidbits, or other desired toppings. Sprinkle with dried basil and oregano. Let rest for about 15 minutes.
  4. Bake each pizza for 400 degrees for 9 minutes, sprinkle on the cheese (I use about 2 cups per pizza), and then bake for another 9 minutes.
  5. Slice and serve.

Homemade Whole Wheat Bread

I love the smell of whole-wheat bread baking in the oven. What’s even better is a thick warm slice of it slathered with butter. Mmm…

Thankfully, I get that treat every week.

For the past seven years I’ve been the family bread baker. Baking bread has become second nature to me. It’ something I do without hardly thinking now, but it wasn’t always that way.

As much I love bread, there have definitely been times when my relationship with it has been disastrous. The early days of experimenting with unpredictable bread machines yielded “delectable” things that we nicknamed “goulash” or “puffywuff.”

Over the years I’ve gotten much better. Even though I still have much to learn, here are some tips I’ve learned:

Tips for Great Bread:

  • Use warm water but not hot water. Warm water activates the yeast; hot water kills it. (The water shouldn’t be hotter than 110 degrees.)
  • Store yeast in the refrigerator (storing it in the freezer will kill it). If your yeast is old, you might want to try proofing it.
  • Lightly grease your hands with olive oil when kneading or shaping the dough to reduce sticking.
  • Remember that dough rises best in warm places.
  • And lastly, have fun! Making bread can be challenging at first, but with time, it becomes second nature. If one recipe fails, don’t give up. Look around for other bread recipes and more tips about the great art of bread making.

And without further ado, here is my trusty whole-wheat bread recipe:

5.0 from 1 reviews
Homemade Whole Wheat Bread
dairy-free, sugar-free, and soy-free
Yield: 4 loaves
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • ⅔ cup honey (or ½ cup)
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 4 cups warm water (I use the warmest water from the tap; about 105 degrees)
  • 13-14 cups whole wheat flour (I use freshly milled organic white wheat)
  • 2 Tbs yeast
  1. In a mixer with a dough hook attachment, combine the oil, honey, salt, and water. Add about 8 cups of four and the yeast. Mix until combined.
  2. Add about 4 more cups of flour.Mix until combined, then turn the mixer to the next speed and knead for a couple of minutes, adding additional flour as needed (about 1 or 2 more cups) until the dough no longer sticks to the bowl of the mixer.
  3. Once the dough is no longer sticking to the bowl, knead for 8-10 more minutes or until the dough is stretchy and elastic.
  4. Cover the dough and let it rise for about 30 minutes, or until the dough is doubled in size. Line four bread pans with parchment paper.
  5. Punch down the dough with your fists and divide it into 4 lumps. On a clean surface, knead each lump of bread individually by hand for about a minute or so until the dough is deflated. (I rub about 1 tsp of olive oil on my hands to prevent the dough from sticking.) Shape the kneaded dough into a loaf and place it in a parchment paper lined bread pan. Repeat with each loaf of bread.
  6. Cover the loaves with a towel and allow to rise for about 40 minutes or until the loaves are doubled in size.
  7. Remove the towel and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place loaves in preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown. (I usually bake mine for 30 minutes in a convection oven).
  8. Allow bread to cool for about 10 minutes before removing from pans. Slice and serve warm, or allow to cool completely and store in plastic bags*. (I use twist-tie bags.)
*To check if the dough is elastic: Grab a clump of dough, stretch it out between your hands in front of a sunny window (or some type of light source). If you can see light shining through the stretched dough before it breaks apart, then the dough is elastic and done kneading.

Since this bread does not have preservatives in it, it will only keep for about five days. It will get drier as the days go by, so I like to store extra loaves in the freezer if I know they're not going to be eaten soon.

Easy Salsa Salad

I throw this salad together with whatever I have at hand. It’s simple, and makes a delicious lunch. :)


  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup canned sweetcorn, drained (about half a 15 oz. can)
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomato
  • 1/2 cup salsa (I used Newman’s Own pineapple salsa)
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tsp cajun seasoning
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Additional Toppings:

  • fresh parsley or cilantro
  • tortilla chips


Stir together all the ingredients. Garnish with fresh parsley or cilantro and serve with tortilla chips.

Baked Apple Oatmeal

Moist baked oatmeal, spiced with apples and cinnamon and topped with flax and pecans.


  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp mace (or nutmeg)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/4 cup sucanat (or brown sugar)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup peeled and chopped apple (about 1 medium apple)


  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 Tbs ground flaxseed (or flour)
  • 1 Tbs sucanat
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbs melted butter


Stir together the oats, baking powder, cinnamon, mace, and salt. In a separate bowl, blend the eggs, buttermilk, applesauce, sucanat, and honey. Mix in the dry ingredients. Stir in the apples. Pour into a greased 8″ by 8″ baking dish. Combine the topping ingredients and sprinkle over the oatmeal. Gently press the topping into the oatmeal. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Serve warm or cooled.

Serves 8

Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup

Warm, soothing, and delicious--this Chicken Noodle Soup is perfect for cold winter nights.
Warm, soothing, and delicious–this Chicken Noodle Soup is perfect for cold winter nights.


  • 1.5 lbs chopped cooked chicken breast (4 cups)
  • 2 (32 oz) containers of chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
  • 1 (32 oz) container of vegetable broth
  • 2 cups chopped carrots, (about 6 small whole carrots)
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped celery (about 6 small celery sticks)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste (I did 1 tsp of each)
  • a heaping 1/4 cup of chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 1 (13.25 oz) box whole wheat rotini noodles


Stir together all the ingredients (except for the bay leaves and noodles) in a 6-quart slow cooker. Place the bay leaves on top of the soup. Cook on high for 3-4 hours. Remove the bay leaves and stir in the noodles. Cook on high for 1 more hour.

Double Chocolate Muffins

These vegan Double Chocolate Muffins–spiced with vanilla, coconut, and banana–are moist and delicious!

It was almost nine o’clock at night. The perfect time to whip together a batch of chocolate muffins, right? Well, that’s what I thought the other night as I started jotting down a rough draft of the recipe. (Am I the only one that likes to write “first drafts” of recipes and then “edit” them until I’m pleased? Sigh…I guess I write too much.)

My first objective was to create slightly sweet chocolate muffins for breakfast. The first try was a success. The muffins were moist and great for a light snack or breakfast. The next objective: chocolate dessert muffins. I added extra sweetener and more chocolate chips (why not?), and the end result was an extra moist and delightfully richer dessert version. I’ve shown how to make both kinds in the recipe below. Either way, they’re good, it just depends on your preference.

Double Chocolate Muffins

  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 heaping Tbsp of ground flaxseed (or more flour)
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 large ripe banana (or 1 1/2 small bananas)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 cup sucanat (or 3/4 cup for dessert muffins)
  • 2 tsp vanilla (increase  to 1 Tbsp if using regular almond milk)
  • 1/3 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips (or 1/2 cup for dessert muffins)

Whisk together the flour, cocoa, flaxseed, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, puree the banana with a mixer. In a small saucepan melt the coconut oil over medium-low heat. Once the oil is melted, stir in the sucanat, almond milk, and vanilla. Heat until warm (not hot). Pour into the bowl with the mashed banana and mix until combined. Blend in the flour mixture until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with muffin liners. Pour the batter evenly into the cups. Bake at 375 for 15-17 minutes or until the tops are set (they should feel springy but not gooey). Cool a few minutes in the pan before removing the muffins from the tin and placing them on a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or cooled.

makes 1 dozen

Joy’s Cornbread

Simple, moist cornbread!


  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 2 Tbs baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbs honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 stick softened butter
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 (15 oz) can organic sweet corn, drained


Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. Add the remaining ingredients (except the corn) and mix until combined. Stir in the corn. Pour into a greased 9″ by 13″ baking dish. Bake at 400 degrees for 25-27 minutes or until golden and set. Serve warm.