Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter No-Bake Cookies

My kids (and their sweet grandma) made that plate you can see in the background for me for Christmas. It’s actually more of a platter and I’ve taken to leaving it out on my counter. I stack cookies on it, or let a loaf of bread, fresh from the oven, cool on it. I love seeing their handprints and they love seeing the gift they made proudly displayed on the kitchen island.

Speaking of the kids, they’ve been doing hot laps on their scooters around and around our patio, zigzagging the furniture, making jumps off the step. This morning Luke got a bunch of cardboard out of the recycling bin and started building some sort of contraption for more scooter tricks. Last night it was literally pitch black and pouring rain and they were still out there, shrieking and laughing, racing around and around. They bang on the slider door begging me to watch. I stop whatever I’m doing to laugh and cheer on their tricks and stunts.

I meant to get this cookie recipe posted a full week ago, but you know how life gets in the way sometimes. In all honesty, I’ve opened this page a handful of times, stumped by the empty screen. I swing wildly between wanting to document more day to day life (a little mommy blogging like the good ol’ days) and then immediately feeling vulnerable about it. The online world feels so tricky to navigate these days.

I have friends who regularly take breaks from social media, it just seems to hit a nerve where all the pretty (posed, planned and curated) pictures make them feel bad about their less than but (completely normal happy) perfect life. I have other friends who completely own and acknowledge their reliance on it. I feel like I’m somewhere in the world. It’s definitely an absent minded habit. I struggle with falling down the rabbit hole of scrolling. But I also find a ton of inspiration and connection on social media. I peek into friends and families lives that I otherwise wouldn’t have the pleasure of keeping up with. Not to mention that this little corner of the internet provides a needed creative outlet that no matter how many times I think I’m going to quit it, I just can’t seem to.

Anyway, lets talk cookies. I don’t really eat dairy anymore. It’s been almost a year. I occasionally eat it when I can’t get around it or something is just too yummy and amazing to pass up. I pay for it with terrible stomach aches but every once in a while its worth it. It was easier than I thought it would be to give up, but man, I miss a good cookies sometimes. A real cookie. I’m not going to lie to you, these are not the same as a real, fresh-from-the-oven, chocolate chip cookie. But they are really really good. And they hit the spot when it comes to a craving for a sweet treat. Even better, I don’t feel that bad eating them and letting my kids snack on them.

Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter No-Bake Cookies

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup coconut milk (from the can)
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

In a large sauce pan mix together the coconut oil, sugar, coconut milk and cocoa powder over low heat until no lumps remain and the sugar is dissolved. Allow to come to a boil and stir constantly for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the peanut butter and rolled oats. Stir in vanilla.

Allow the mixture to cool slightly. Using a spoon, drop the dough by the tablespoonful onto wax paper. Let cool until completely set. Store covered in the refrigerator.

(Makes about 3 dozen smallish cookies)


Spaghetti with Kale and Sausage


Evenings at our house can feel chaotic and a little zooey. From the moment backpacks hit the floor after school until lights finally go out several hours later, we are running at top speed. We’ve got homework and spelling, ballet, basketball, 4H and in just a few weeks soccer and baseball will get thrown into the mix. Not to mention the occasional late meetings, work trips, school functions and whatever else seems to fill our calendars these days.

We live on a small ranch with cows and chickens, dogs and a couple cats. Jackson and Luke are in charge of feeding all our animals. They start with the cows, breaking open the bales of hay and filling their feeding trough. They hoof it up from the bottom of our pasture to check on the chicken’s food and water and then hit the garage where our dogs and cats eat. They are mostly good sports about it, often spending a few minutes with each set of animals, chatting or petting them, throwing a ball or carrying a kitten around for a bit. (Full disclosure: they do NOT have awesome attitudes every day. Just keeping it real. HA!)

After one too many weeks of rushed dinners, plunked down on the table with a loud thud and the barked command of ‘eat, you only have a few minutes before we need to leave,’ I decided no more. There had to be a better way. I don’t have a magic solution but watching my boys do their chores and finding enjoyment out of it really inspired me. Weeknight dinners are going to be quick and squashed in between homework and activities, that won’t change, but they can absolutely be more pleasant.

One small change I’ve made is I try and make dinner earlier in the day. I use my Instant Pot or crock pot whenever possible and I make big batches of recipes like this one. I can quickly warm the dish up right there in the pot, maybe squeeze a little extra lemon juice over the pasta and dinner is ready when we are.

Whole Wheat Pasta with Sausage and Kale

  • 1 pound whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1 pound pork sweet Italian sausage (you could sub turkey sausage)
  • 1 bunch kale, washed and cut into pieces (about 5-6 cups)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lemon (zest and juice)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Dash of red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese

Set a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Salt liberally. When the water is at a rolling boil, add your noodles and cook to package instructions (usually about 8 minutes). When the pasta is finished cooking, drain noodles and set aside.

In a large sauté pan, cook the sausage in 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Break the sausage into small pieces, stirring until the meat is cooked through. When the meat is finished, line a dinner plate with paper towels and drain the sausage on the plate. Set aside.

Using the same pan, cook the garlic for 2 minutes over medium heat. Add the kale to the pan and stir constantly. You may need to add a small splash of water to the pan (about 2-3 tablespoons) to help the kale start to wilt. You want the kale to be bright green and soft but not mushy. Sprinkle liberally with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.

When the kale is finished cooking, turn off the heat. Combine the spaghetti noodles, sausage and garlic kale mixture. Zest the lemon and add it to the dish. Then cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice over the pasta. Stir well to incorporate the lemon flavor. Mix in the parmesan cheese. Salt and pepper again if necessary.

Hearty Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

I originally thought I would share a treat in honor of Valentine’s Day, but I figure between the candy bowl at work, the treats kids brought home from parties at school and the well-meaning boxes of chocolates that loved ones gifted us, we’re all a little sugared out.

And as much as it hasn’t really felt much like winter the last couple of weeks, it IS still winter. We came home from a gorgeous blue-bird (although a little icy) day on White Pass over the weekend with cold toes, soaking wet ski gear and absolutely ravenous appetites.

We needed one of those winter-staple meals to warm up, comfort our tired bones and take the edge off our hunger-fueled grumpiness. What hit the spot was a big pot of chili with all the fixings. And this chili evolves a little every time I make it.

That’s the beauty of chili — it’s incredibly forgiving. You can change it, swap in and out ingredients, and it remains delicious.

Don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients. It’s mostly cans of beans and tomatoes, some spices you likely have in your cupboard (and if you don’t have one or two, no problem), and a little chopping. It all goes in the pot to simmer for an hour or so, making your house smell amazing.

The result is a big pot of hearty soup that feeds a crowd. It’s slightly smoky from the cumin seeds and full of big, savory flavors. The green chilis and cayenne add a hint of heat to the soup without it being too spicy.

We load our bowls up and go crazy with the toppings. I usually chop cilantro, slice some avocado and put out a bowl of tortilla chips and shredded cheese. I always top mine with a few pickled jalapeños, but I never shy away from a little heat.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 red OR orange bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large sweet potato, cubed into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 4.5-ounce can green chilis
  • 2 14-ounce can organic black beans
  • 2 14-ounce cans fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 to 2 cups jarred salsa
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 pound grass-fed ground beef (cooked shredded roast beef or cubed stew meat work well, too)
  • 1 32-ounce box chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Start by browning your hamburger in a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan.

Break the meat up with a wooden spoon, stirring occasionally until it’s cooked through, about 5 to 8 minutes. If you prefer ground turkey, or happen to have some leftover roast beef from earlier in the week, use that instead.

You can always skip the meat completely and make this a vegetarian chili.

When the meat is finished cooking, drain on a paper towel-lined dinner plate and set to the side.

In a large pot, cook the onion, bell pepper and sweet potato in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat until the onion is translucent. Stir in the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

Salt and pepper the vegetables liberally. Add the green chilis, black beans, tomatoes, salsa, brown rice and chicken stock to the pot. Stir to combine. Carefully add the meat to the pot and stir in all seasonings.

Turn the heat to low and cover with a lid. Allow to cook at a slow boil for 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the rice is fully cooked and the sweet potatoes break apart easily, the chili is ready.

Use a wooden spoon or a potato masher to break the larger pieces of sweet potato apart as well as shred the meat. If the soup starts to get too thick, add more chicken stock (or water) a cup at a time until you get to your desired consistency.

Taste the soup and make sure it tastes right for you. Salt and pepper again if needed. Before serving, remove bay leaf.

Ladle chili into bowls. Top with chopped cilantro, avocado, corn chips and a big dollop of sour cream.


Roast Chicken with Mustardy Vegetables

As much as I love to cook, life sometimes gets in the way, and making time to cook a meal falls down the priority list. Maybe you can relate. But regardless of how busy life feels sometimes, I still want to sit down at the end of the day with the people I love and share a meal. Some nights it looks like frozen ravioli or fish tacos made from frozen fish sticks. Actually, a lot of nights look like that.

This week’s recipe is along those same lines; simple ingredients with just a few minutes of prep work. The whole meal cooks on one sheet pan. A whole roast chicken cooked on a bed of sweet potatoes, russet potatoes, onions and cauliflower comes together for a flavorful dinner you will want to make again and again. A perfectly browned bird with crispy skin on a big pile of potatoes, onions and cauliflower hits the spot.

Don’t be intimidated by a whole chicken. (Really truly, if I can do it, ANYBODY can do it). Learning to make a whole roast chicken is one of those ‘teach a man to fish skills.’ It can seem difficult or too complicated but once you know how to do it, you’ll be so glad to have a recipe like this up your sleeve.

Look for a four to five-pound roaster. The skin should be firm and unbroken with a white or light-yellow color. For best results, I recommend cooking this recipe in the oven. The skin on the chicken turns a beautiful brown color and the vegetables get crispy and toasty. However, if you’re short on time and happen to have an InstaantPot (pressure cooker), you can follow this recipe but throw the ingredients into it and set the timer for about 40 minutes. You’ll have tender juicy chicken and vegetables, they just won’t be as pretty if they cooked in the oven.

Roast Chicken with Mustardy Vegetables

  • 1 lemon
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 2 large russet potatoes, diced into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, diced into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2 heaping tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 whole chicken (4-5 pounds)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees with a rack in the center position.

Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into a large bowl. Set the lemon aside. Add the mustard, the leaves off 2 rosemary sprigs, olive oil and ½ teaspoon salt and pepper. Whisk with a fork and then stir in chopped onion, potatoes and cauliflower. Set aside.

Unwrap chicken and make sure you pull the giblets out from inside the chicken cavity. Use a sharp knife to trim any excess fat around the cavity and pat dry with paper towels. Liberally salt and pepper the chicken both inside and out. Stuff the cavity with the squeezed lemon halves, a rosemary sprig, garlic cloves and bay leaf.

On a sheet pan, spread the vegetables evenly on the tray. Position the chicken in the middle of the tray, breast side up with the vegetables nestled all around the chicken. If you have kitchen twine, tie the legs together but if you don’t have any, skip this step. Melt butter in a small dish in the microwave for 20 or 30 seconds. Carefully pour the butter over the chicken, making sure the entire bird is well-coated.

Roast the chicken and vegetables until a meat thermometer inserted into the thigh registers 145 degrees and the juices run clear when you pierce the thickest part of the thigh, about 1 ½ hours.

Remove the tray from the oven and allow the chicken to rest for 10 minutes before slicing into pieces and serving with the vegetables.

Crispy Ravioli with Peas and Bacon

As my preschooler was commandeering my phone during a well-child visit to our pediatrician last week, we came across a long-forgotten photo, a screen shot of a tortellini dish I had found on Instagram. She of course, scrolled right past in favor of looking at pictures of our animals, but just like that, I had inspiration on what to make for dinner later that night.

A little bit of searching and I quickly found the source of the dish, a great website called  A quick scan of the recipe revealed two things: this was a seriously adaptable recipe I could swap in and out ingredients based on what I had and what my family likes and it uses a technique to cook the pasta I had never tried before. By sautéing the frozen pasta in a little olive oil before steaming, the raviolis quickly crisp on the outside, keeping their texture and preventing the pasta from overcooking and becoming mushy. A little bit of water in the pan and a few minutes with the lid covering the pan, and the already crisp raviolis finish cooking quickly.

A splash of heavy cream and the brightness of lemon juice round out this easy dish. A sprinkle of fresh basil makes you think of spring and from the moment you tear open the package of frozen ravioli until you’re sitting down to eat is literally ten minutes.

This dish was a huge hit with my family and I loved that I could make a great dinner in just a few minutes. I threw a small green salad on the table for my husband and I and the kids ate apple slices (just keeping it real). But the point is, we sat at the table together, eating a meal we all liked, that didn’t take long to prepare, if that’s not a win in the dinner category then I don’t know what is.

The original recipe called for tortellini and prosciutto (which would be delicious) but I didn’t have either. You can always use cream fraiche or half and half in place of heavy cream and dried basil in place of fresh. Don’t skip the lemon though, that’s what brings the whole dish together. As always, use this recipe as a guide to adapt to your specific tastes. Enjoy!

Crispy Ravioli with Peas and Bacon

• 1 (16-20 ounce) package of frozen cheese ravioli (or tortellini)

• 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

• ½ cup water

• ½ cup peas

• 4 pieces center-cut bacon, diced

• ¼ cup heavy cream

• Juice of half a lemon

• 2 tablespoons basil leaves, thinly sliced

• 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

• Kosher salt and black pepper

In a large skilled pan (with a lid) heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook diced bacon for 3-5 minutes until the meat is cooked through. Remove bacon from pan and set aside on a plate lined with a paper towel.

Add the other tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and cook the frozen ravioli in a single layer until brown on one side. Flip them over and continue cooking until both sides are brown, stirring occasionally to keep the raviolis from sticking to the pan. Sprinkle in the frozen peas and ½ cup water. Put the lid on and let them cook for about five minutes. Remove the lid and give everything a stir.

The water should have completely cooked off and the raviolis will be plump and tender. Remove the pan from heat and stir the bacon in with the pasta. Pour the heavy cream and juice of half a lemon over the pasta, gently stirring until well-coated. Garnish with basil, parmesan cheese and a heavy sprinkle of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.

The Very Best Fudge Brownies


Do you listen to audio books? I’m listening to Exit West right now. I walk around the house with my phone in my pocket, listening to the book while I go about my day. It’s weird and awesome at the same time. I find I’m not as absorbed into the story as I would be if I was physically reading a book but I really like listening to the author’s voice and being able to fold laundry or make lunch or just in general multi-task at the same time.

I started the month with noble ideas of cutting out all refined sugar from my family’s diet for the month. And we did pretty good for a couple weeks. Last week, a new Yakima Magazine was published and the recipes I wrote in November were suddenly calling to me. Namely these decadent fudge brownies sprinkled with coarse salt.

I stumbled across a brownie recipe on Pinterest a couple years ago. Over time I’ve tweaked the recipe, adding instant espresso powder and vanilla to get it just right for me. The result is a rich, dense, deeply chocolate brownie with a crackly top and a soft fudgy interior. If you like a more cake-like brownie, you could always increase the flour by 1/3 cup.

I make these brownies for friends with a new baby or if I know someone is going through a hard time. I know we aren’t supposed to attach emotion to food, but if anything was going to cheer you up or help you through a rough patch, these brownies would do it. They literally take 5 minutes to prep and are just as easy as throwing a box mix together. The only difference is they taste 100 times better and you’ll never make a box mix again.


Fudge Brownies with Coarse Salt

  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar
  • ¾ cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee powder
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line the bottom of an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper. In a medium saucepan, combine butter, sugar, cocoa powder, instant coffee and salt over low heat. Stir until butter is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. When the mixture is warm but not hot stir in vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, stirring constantly until the batter looks thick and shiny. Add the flour and continue stirring for another full minute. Spread batter evenly into the lined pan. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the center of the batter is firm and a toothpick comes out clean. Sprinkle with coarse pink Himalayan salt and allow to cool completely before cutting into squares. If you can’t find coarse salt, Maldon sea salt will work well too. You just need a coarse grain salt.

Spicy Tomato and Cashew Whole Wheat Pasta

We took the plunge this year and bought season passes to White Pass Ski Area. Growing up in Spokane, Washington, many of my childhood memories surround being tossed into our lumbering old suburban for early morning treks to Schweitzer Mountain or Lookout Pass, both a solid two plus hour drive from where I grew up.

With White Pass just an hour away, I remind my children every time they complain in the car just how good they have it. And other than some minor car-whining, we are having a blast. All three kids love to ski and it is probably one of the highlights of my parenting journey so far to spend the day skiing as a family. Our five-year-old is probably the most enthusiastic and it has been such a joy to watch her take off.

And the best thing about coming home after a long day of skiing? An easy, fast and super-hearty meal everyone will gobble right up. Just like everyone else in January, I’m working hard to make good healthy meal choices for myself and my family this year. I’m looking for ways to add more vegetables to my children’s plates and reminding myself to reach for fresh, whole foods whenever possible.

This big pot of whole wheat pasta smothered in a creamy spicy tomato sauce checks all the boxes. The creaminess comes from blending cashews into the sauce. You don’t taste the nuts, but the resulting sauce is velvety smooth and deliciously decadent. Roasted cauliflower mixes in with the pasta and is almost undetectable by picky children while they unknowingly get a good dose of vitamin c and k. Whole wheat pasta is full of fiber and a better choice than regular pasta, but a gluten free or lentil pasta would work just fine in the recipe too. Most importantly, this recipe is super flexible and easy to adapt to your specific tastes. If you don’t like spice, skip the red pepper flakes. Want a completely vegetarian dish? Skip the bacon. Have a few other vegetables you need to clean out of the crisper? Roast them with the cauliflower.

Spicy Tomato Cashew Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower

• 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced

• 3 cloves garlic, finely diced

• 3 pieces center-cut bacon, diced

• 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

• 1 25-ounce jar marinara sauce (look for one with low sugar)

• 1 cup roasted cashews

• ½ cup water

• 1 head cauliflower, chopped into small florets

• 1 box whole wheat pasta

• 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

• 1 teaspoon dried basil

• Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Start by setting a big pot of heavily salted water to boil. When the water boils, cook the pasta to package instructions (usually about 8 minutes). When the pasta is finished cooking, drain the noodles and set aside.

In a blender, combine the cashews, water and jar of tomato sauce. Blend until completely smooth. Depending on the strength of your blender, this may take a couple minutes. Just keep going until the sauce is nice and smooth.

Layer the cauliflower evenly on a sheet pan. Drizzle with one tablespoon olive oil, making sure the vegetables are evenly coated and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast the vegetables in a 425-degree oven for about 20 minutes until the cauliflower is golden brown. Don’t forget to turn the vegetables at least once halfway through the cooking time, so they brown evenly on all sides.

In a sauté pan, cook the onion, garlic and bacon in the remaining one tablespoon of olive oil over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes or until the bacon is cooked through and the onion is translucent. Salt and pepper the mixture. Turn the heat to low and stir in the tomato cashew sauce. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and dried basil.

Combine the pasta, roasted cauliflower and sauce in a big bowl (or the pot you cooked the pasta in). Mix well, taste and add salt and pepper or more red pepper flakes if needed. Serve immediately. Leftovers will store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

*A sprinkle of crumbled goat cheese or parmesan cheese over the pasta is a lovely addition if you happen to have some.