Recipe: Baked French Toast

Merry Christmas, lovely people! I hope today finds you happy and healthy and surrounded with family and friends. And food. Lots of yummy food!

You know I typically like healthy, whole food recipes. But balance is the spice of life! This morning, my family kicked things off right with this easy baked French toast. The recipe theoretically serves 9-12, but the four of us ate the whole pan. 😳 We weren’t stuffing ourselves by any stretch, either. So plan on using a super deep dish and doubling, or use a denser bread than wonder bread. Ha!

riginal recipe is an overnight French toast recipe from, but we prepared and baked the whole dish right away and skipped the overnight part with no problem. If you use a denser loaf of bread, you may want to prepare it and let it sit in the fridge overnight. Or, if you'd rather not fuss with everything in the morning, you can layer and prepare everything the night before, then pour on the egg and milk mixture before it goes in the oven in the morning. Either way, expect this recipe to poof up in the oven quite a bit. It will flatten once removed from the oven during resting time.

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  • Servings: "4-6"
  • Difficulty: "easy"
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fied from:<<<<
cup butter<<<<
lices white bread, crusts cut off if desired<<<<
cup brown sugar<<<<
aspoon cinnamon<<<<
gs, whisked together<<<<
2 cups milk<<<<
lt butter in the bottom of a 9×13 pan.<<<<
ver the bottom of the pan with 6 slices of bread.<<<<
rinkle half of the brown sugar and cinnamon over the bread.<<<<
d another layer of 6 slices of bread.<<<<
a bowl, combine eggs and milk until well blended.<<<<
ur over bread, sprinkle with remaining sugar and cinnamon.<<<<
ke covered at 350F for 30 minutes, uncover and bake for 15-30 minutes longer, until set and browned.<<<<

Winter Hot Chocolate Round Up!

One of my favorite indulgences this time of year is a cozy mug of hot chocolate.  There’s something so comforting about the chocolate-y warming goodness.  Since I strive to avoid highly processed white sugar, and limit my sugar intake overall, that pretty much eliminates the packets of hot chocolate available from the grocery store.  Sigh.  Sometimes I miss the convenience, but honestly, making a mug from scratch is not even that hard!

I’ll share my personal favorite no sugar hot chocolate recipe with you next week ON CHRISTMAS DAY.  Is anyone else panicking a little bit over the fact that Christmas will be here in one short week?!?  And I’m working all the way up to Friday!  Holy smokes!  When is it all going to get done?  Deep. Breathing.  In 1-2-3, out 1-2-3.

I’ve had to be very intentional this year about enjoying  holiday time.  It seems that life is so busy and we cram so many things in, all with good intentions.  But one of the vital things on my to do list this season is to spend time appreciating simple holiday pleasures.  Like looking at my Christmas tree ornaments when the lights are on and the house is dark and enjoying the magic.  Or taking the time to pause and enjoy silly and sentimental Christmas songs.  Or, spending an hour reading a Christmas novel with my feet up and a hot beverage at my side.

I asked some of my friends to share with me what their favorite hot chocolate or other warming winter beverages are, and here are the top 5 that they shared with me, in no particular order!


Alexa’s Feel Good Turmeric Latte


Alexa’s Feel Good Turmeric Latte

This turmeric latte was so much fun to make, and was the perfect excuse I needed to finally get a french press.  Ha!  Alexa recommends using the french press to it’s full advantage for foaming your milk, and that’s such a good hack!  I will be using that tip more often, for sure! And I didn’t make a shot of hot espresso for this drink, but I did use a packet of instant espresso powder, and that worked great.

Feel Good Turmeric Latte

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Credit: Alexa Peduzzi


  • 2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. – 1 Tbsp. sweetener of choice (I really like honey)
  • optional: 1-2 oz. hot espresso or strong hot tea


  1. Add almond milk. cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, and coconut oil to a small pot. Heat over medium-high, whisking frequently, until it boils. Add sweetener, whisk to combine, and remove from heat.
  2. Pour into a french press. Insert the press and quickly push it down, then pull it up continuously for 15-25 seconds, or until the latte is frothed to your liking. I like a lot of froth, so I do this for the full 25 seconds.
  3. Add optional espresso or tea to the bottom of a large mug, and then pour frothed milk into the mug. Don’t lift the press while you’re pouring – it’ll strain out the grainy spices. Enjoy immediately.

Sep’s Golden Milk Hot Chocolate


Sep’s Golden Milk Hot Chocolate

This lovely hot chocolate includes the ever popular turmeric powder as well, and is just the right consistency and sweetness.  And thanks to Sep, I tried organic cacao powder, the less processed version of cocoa powder and now I’m hooked!

Sep's Golden Milk Hot Chocolate

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
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Credit: Sepidah from


  • 1 Cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (coconut milk may also be used) + 2 Tbsp almond milk to make a paste
  • 1/2 tsp (add 1 full teaspoon if you don’t mind the flavor) ground turmeric
  • small pinch of black pepper (this helps your body absorb the nutrients in turmeric!)
  • 2 tsp raw cacao powder (this is different than cocoa powder which has been more heavily processed)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3-4 tsp of maple syrup or raw honey (amount can be adjusted to your taste)


  1. Pour the 1 Cup of almond milk into a saucepan and heat gently over medium heat. Keep an eye on the milk and make sure it doesn’t burn or bubble over.
  2. While the milk is heating up, prepare the chocolate paste. In a small bowl, combine the turmeric, cacao powder, and cinnamon. Whisk as you slowly add 2 Tbsp of almond milk to transform the powder into a paste.
  3. Once the almond milk is hot but not boiling (if you dip a metal spoon into the liquid, steam should come off of the spoon) gently pour the hot liquid over the paste, whisking continuously to get a smooth mixture.
  4. Add the desired amount of maple syrup or honey 1 teaspoon at a time, tasting to get the sweetness that you prefer.

Kendall’s Chestnut Hot Chocolate


Kendall’s Chestnut Hot Chocolate

I love trying new things, and this recipe had me trying chestnuts for the first time in my life!  I recommend getting them already roasted and peeled, because it saves a lot of time!  This is the richest, thickest hot chocolate I have ever made, and it was like drinking dessert!  So if you are in the mood to really indulge, try this recipe! If you want it less thick, add fewer chestnuts and more milk. If you are going to make this recipe, don’t skimp on the real vanilla bean and for sure add the orange zest.

Kendall's Chestnut Hot Chocolate

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Credit: Kendall Vanderslice of


  • 5 oz pre-cooked chestnuts (about 1/2 cup)
  • 12 oz milk, (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 oz dark chocolate
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • mini marshmallows, optional


  1. Finely chop the chestnuts and place in a saucepan. Add the milk.
  2. Cut the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the pulp. Add orange zest, and cinnamon to the saucepan.
  3. Bring to a boil while stirring constantly, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  4. Finely chop the chocolate and add to the saucepan, stirring until it is completely melted. Add the honey and stir to combine.
  5. Blend the mixture in a food processor or blender until completely smooth, and divide between two mugs. Top with marshmallows if you like, and serve immediately.

Sebrina’s Feel-Good Peppermint Hot Chocolate


Sebrina’s Feel-Good Peppermint Hot Chocolate

I’m really picky about mint.  As in, I only adore peppermint, and can’t stand any other kind.  So peppermint hot chocolate is right up my alley.  I love that Sebrina uses peppermint tea in this recipe, and the peppermint whipped cream is not to be missed,  so don’t skip that part!

Feel-Good Peppermint Hot Chocolate

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Credit: Sebrina from


  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 2 peppermint tea bags
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon raw cacao powder
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar, honey or maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons 72% dark chocolate
  • 1/2 cup organic whipping cream, (or coconut cream)
  • 6 drops peppermint extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon honey (optional)


  1. Steep 2 peppermint tea bags in a cup of water for 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Combine peppermint tea, coconut milk, coconut sugar, and cacao powder in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the sugar and cacao powder dissolve and the milk is hot. Do not boil.
  3. Whisk in chocolate pieces until melted.
  4. For the peppermint whipped cream, pour ½ cup organic whipping cream in a glass container. With a hand blender, start blending the cream, when it starts to thicken add 6 drops peppermint extract and honey.
  5. Pour into two mugs and top with peppermint whipped cream.

Lauren’s Creamy Gingerbread Cashew Coffee


Lauren’s Creamy Gingerbread Cashew Coffee

This might just well be my new favorite thing!  If you know me at all, you know that I thrive on my coffee in the morning.  Which is  just a nice way to say that I am probably (definitely) caffeine addicted and you can pry my coffee out of my cold dead hands.  Wow, that got serious fast.  Ha!  BUT.  You might might convince me to swap my regular morning coffee for this delicious coffee, instead.  Seriously, I’m a gingerbread nut, and you have to try this!

Creamy Gingerbread Cashew Coffee

  • Servings: 2-4, depending on how big your mug is!
  • Difficulty: easy
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Credit: Lauren from


  • 4 ½ cups freshly brewed coffee
  • 1 cup raw, unsalted cashews
  • 1 tablespoon unsulphered molasses
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Optional: agave to taste


  1. Carefully transfer hot coffee to blender. Add cashews, molasses, and spices. The cashews do not need to soak before blending, the hot coffee will take care of softening them so the blend up fine.
  2. Blend on high for a full 5 to 8 minutes, depending on the strength of your blender.
  3. Optional: add agave, or a dash of your preferred sweeter, to taste.

    -If your life is cold brew or die, soak the cashews for 2 hours before blending. Be sure to drain and rinse before adding to the blender.
  • The blend time will vary depending on the strength of your blender. You can also substitute a food processor, but be sure not to overfill. Splashing hot coffee everywhere is definitely NOT recommended.
  • If storing in the refrigerator overnight for iced coffee in the morning, the cashew cream will separate. Just give it a thorough shake in the morning and you’ll be good to go.

Recipe: Cranberry Sauce


Your search for the perfect cranberry sauce has ended, because here is what I like to call Christmas in a Jar.  The spices are seasonally on-point, and the color is just gorgeous.  It really is so easy, too!  There’s no reason to open a gloppy congealed can of cranberries when you can have this fresh, citrus-y sweet and tart combination.


My favorite way to eat cranberry sauce leftovers- in yogurt for breakfast!

My old recipe called for 2 cups of sugar, which is just an absolute ton!  It was so sweet that it overpowered the tartness of the cranberry.  I’m really trying to cut out all refined sweeteners and just stick to significantly smaller amounts of the more natural ones, like honey or maple syrup.  So this recipe lightens up the amount of sweetener to just a third of a cup of maple syrup.

My ten year old niece, who was a devoted cranberry-from-a-can fan, tried this when I brought it to Thanksgiving and she loved it!  She loved the cinnamon in it.  I was trying to play it cool on the outside, while secretly rejoicing inside!


I love my new bowl from Mud Pies Pottery in Salado!

So the next time you are headed out for a holiday meal, bring this homemade cranberry sauce.  People will be so impressed and think that it was so hard.  It’s okay, you don’t have to tell them how easy it really is!

Cranberry Sauce

  • Servings: 2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
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Christmas in a jar!

This recipe is lower on the sweetness side than regular, so I recommend making it as is, tasting, and then adding extra sweetener to taste.


  • 1 bag, or 4 cups, fresh cranberries
  • 1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice, or the juice from two small oranges
  • zest from one orange
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice


  1. In a medium pot, combine all items and cook over medium high heat until the cranberries pop, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes.
  2. Lower heat to medium, and cook for another 20 minutes while the sauce thickens and reduces, stirring frequently.
  3. Let cool and store in the fridge to chill until serving. This can be served at room temperature or chilled.

Recipe: Tahini Sauce

Tahini Sauce2-2

I’m a huge fan of peanut sauce.  I could eat it every week.  But sometimes, it’s good to mix things up!  So for the sake of variety, I’ve been playing around with a tahini sauce recipe.  I didn’t know what tahini was for the longest time… come to find out, it’s just a paste made from sesame seeds!  It’s kinda like peanut butter, but made with sesame seeds instead.  So the tahini paste becomes the basis of this mild and smoky sauce.


I’ve been loving it on my roasted vegetables.  In fact, I may have found a new obsession in roasted eggplant.  Move over roasted broccoli!  Just kidding, broccoli, I will love you forever.


This sauce can be made thicker for dipping veggies into, or thinner for drizzling over roasted veggies, like I did for my lunches last week.  A sprinkle of smoked paprika over the top adds an even deeper smoky flavor.


Tahini Sauce

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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A mild sauce perfect for roasted vegetables.

This recipe can be made thicker using less water if you are wanting to use it as a dip. For a true drizzle-style sauce, add more water.


  • 4-5 roasted garlic cloves, or 1/2 t. powdered garlic
  • 1/4 c. tahini paste
  • 1/4 c. very warm water
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • 1/4 t. fresh lemon zest
  • 1/4 t. ground cumin
  • pinch of salt, or more to taste


  1. In a wide mouthed container that will fit an immersion blender, add all ingredients except water.
  2. Slowly add water and blend until it is the consistency that you desire.
  3. Store covered in the fridge until ready to use. This will be good for up to a week.