Mini Peanut Butter and Jelly Pop-Tarts

tiny DIY Pop-Tarts with only a handful of ingredients

Jason is a guy who loves breakfast junk food. Chocolate chip pancakes, gallons of syrup, full fat chocolate milk, waffles with a layer of chunky peanut butter 1-inch thick; an entire box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. It doesn’t bother me because he doesn’t eat like this on a regular basis. We’re all allowed our food vices.

Even if it did bother me, he’s the stubbornest husband in the world, so I could nag my head off and it wouldn’t make a lick of a difference.

Last week, he mentioned something about Pop-Tarts. I tucked it in the back of my mental food Filofax, but then I decided that it needed to be pushed up to the front. I didn’t want to make anything complicated, and these are simple as can be. They are actually rather low mess, which fit well with my goal of “oh-please-let-the-kitchen-be-clean-for-longer-than-30-minutes.” I didn’t have to leave the house for ingredients, as they were already tucked in various corners of my kitchen*. And lastly, it was Valentines Day and food is full-blown love gesture in my world.

He ate more than half of them within 20 minutes or so. That made me incredibly freaking happy. I love feeding my guy.

DIY Gluten Free Vegan Blueberry Poptarts

Frozen blueberries are one of my favorite ingredients.  I can’t say that I’m hypercreative with them — I cycle between smoothies and jam, smoothies and jam.  There’s no shame in this apparent redundancy — there are dozens of blueberry smoothie recipes and a plethora of ways to use jam.

I’ve been making frozen fruit and date jam for awhile now, and I like it because tastes better than store jam, and is simpler then pectin jam. You just throw dates and fruit in a saucepan and when it gets jut right, blend it up and you’re done.  It’s easier when you have an immersion blender, which I currently don’t. Mine burned out several months back I have yet to replace it. I gotta get on that because it’s winter and I’m backlogged on my creamy comforting soups.

Also, another thing about this jam — it’s less messy than other jams. That sounds very weird and suspicious and y’all aren’t believing me on this, but don’t know how else to describe it. See how the jelly is peeking out a little from the side of the crust? Well, when you bite into it, it doesn’t squirt out or anything (at room temp. no promises on hot jam). Maybe Hot Jam! should be me new exclamation. Hot Jam, it’s cold out! Hot Jam, you look cute those boots! Hot Jam, Annie’s a real nerd, isn’t she? 

vegan gluten free pop-tarts diy pop-tarts

Mini Peanut Butter and Jelly Poptarts

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 11-12 mini pop tarts

Serving Size: 1 pop tart


  • 1 cup of rolled oats, ground to flour
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 8 pitted dates, softened in hot water
  • pinch of salt
  • Jelly
  • 2 cups frozen Maine blueberries
  • 5 pitted dates
  • sprinkles
  • coarse flake sea salt
  • zest from one lemon


  1. Before you begin, set the blueberries out to defrost for about 1/2 hour.
  2. Crust
  3. Blend together the dates, the peanut butter, and the oat flour. It should ball up in your blender or food processor. I love this part because the sticky stuff gets on the ball and not the blender cup, making for easy cleanup. Yay!
  4. Roll the crust out to 1/8 inch thick, then cut rectangles that are 1 1/2 inch by 2 1/2 inches. should end up with 22-24 rectangles. If they get hard or crusty to roll at the end of the batch, roll the dough in your hands for a bit to warm up the pb oils.
  5. Jelly
  6. Place the defrosted blueberries and the five dates in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Cook, covered for 6 minutes and uncovered for 5 minutes. Imitiatley remove from heat. Allow to cool for a few minutes.
  7. Blend the blueberries to an even consistency.
  8. To assemble
  9. Place 1/2 to 3/4 of a tsp of jelly on a crust rectangle and cover gingerly with another rectangle. Don't pinch the ends together with a fork-- there's not enough room-- just press together gently with your fingers.
  10. Sprinkle lemon zest and a little bit of salt over top. If you want, use little cookie cutters to make the top more festive
  11. Serve with love


I used my omnigrid sewing square to make the rectangles just right. i think i use it more in the kitchen than i ever did when I sewed a lot. if you have one buried in your craft stuff, relocate it to the kitchen and store it with the cutting boards. you'll find yourself using it over and over! that said, if you don't have an omnigrid, a regular ruler will also do the job here.

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Gluten Free Vegan Poptarts

crust adapted from the first mess


Salty Peanut Crumble Chocolate Chip Muffins

aka Pretty Ugly Muffins

Peanut Chocolate Chip Muffins

Do you like coffee cake?

Annnnnd do you like peanut butter chocolate things?

These are a lot like coffee cake, but instead of the traditional cinnamon-thick crumble, you use a salty peanut crumble. The results are pretty fantastic. And there’s chocolate chips in there too, because chocolate and peanut butter tend to make folks happy.

peanut crumble

Unfortunately, they are kinda ugly too. If I were a better photographer, I could have made them look like the hottest thang since um…Paul Newman?  Or maybe the guy who plays Neville Longbottom? Elizabeth Moss?

Elizabeth Moss, definitely. Though I’ve never seen a single episode of Mad Men, I’ve long admired her seemingly effortless sensuality. Don’t judge me for not having watched Mad Men!  Sorry. I know I’m getting off topic here, but it’s been a long week and I just need a bit of unstructured narration to loosen my mind.

shelled peanuts

In-shell peanuts were on sale this week, a huge bag for merely a dollar. Superbowl overstock, I suppose. You don’t have to start out with unshelled peanuts, but they honestly don’t take all that long to shell, especially once you get into a rhythm. And like I said, they’re much cheaper than canned nuts.

To make the crumble, you just take a handful of nuts (teehee) and pulse them with some oatmeal till it begins to crumple and clump. Then just add a few extra nuts in there for fun.

Also, for fun and to distract from the ugly muffins — a cute little Mickey. I found him at the flea market for 88 cents and he was just like one I had when I was a kiddo. He was sat on the kitchen counter when I was shooting, looking all optimistic.

And since I’ve personally been feeling a lot better lately, I thought optimism is in good order. I feel like pushing sunshine on others is aggressive and counterproductive, so you feel free to ignore Mickey’s optimism. But don’t ignore the salty peanut chocolate chip muffins. I don’t need to give you any rationale here, saltypeanutchocolate wins its own case.

happy weekend y’all

Salty Peanut Crumble Chocolate Chip Muffins

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 12 muffins


    for the crumble
  • 1 1/2 cups of lightly salted raw peanuts d
  • 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • for the muffins
  • 1 1/2 cups of cup-to-cup gluten free flour (I used Bob's in the blue bag)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 flax eggs (3 tbsp flaxmeal plus 9 tbsp water)
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips


    for the crumble
  1. set aside 1/4 cup of the nuts
  2. Pulse the remaining 1 1/4 cups of peanuts, the oatmeal, the brown sugar, and the salt, until you get a mixture that's both clumpy and crumbly. if you were to grab a fistfull, it would clump together into a ball, but if you drop the ball back into the bowl, it should crack and fall apart.
  3. set crumble aside and preheat oven to 350
  4. for the muffins
  5. Make your flax eggs.
  6. Combine the flour, the brown sugar, the baking soda, the salt, and the baking powder.
  7. Combine the flax eggs, the coconut oil, the vanilla, and the milk.
  8. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and stir well.
  9. Allow the mix to sit on the counter for about 8-10 min, then stir in the chocolate chips.
  10. Like a 12-cup muffin pan and press about 1/2 tbsp of the crumble mix into the bottom of the liners. Divide the batter evenly among the cups, and then divide the remaining crumble evenly over the batter. You might have some crumble left over.
  11. Bake for 22-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  12. enjoy


1 1/2 cups shelled peanuts is about 5 cups of in-shell peanuts

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muffin batter adapted slightly from damn delicious 

peanut chocolate chip muffins

Baked Honey Ricotta Pancake

Baked Honey Ricotta Pancake

I’ve loved ricotta from a very young age. Only I didn’t know it was ricotta, I just called it “that white pie that Nana makes at Easter.” She put little bits of canned cherries in there, and it was my favorite part of the Easter meal. Other than the rolls, obvs.

Other ways I love eating ricotta

  • In a bowl with fruit and nuts and honey
  • in pancakes
  • in ice cream
  • cookies

Baked Honey Ricotta Pancake

This is a bit of a combination of pancakes and pie, but it’s easier than either of them.  There’s no need to guard the griddle or flip this pancake. Flipping regular pancakes is requires care and attention, but flipping ricotta pancakes is a delicate art. An art that I have perhaps not studied enough.

Ricotta pie can be simple, but it can also be complicated — recipes ranging anywhere from 4 eggs to 12 eggs, heaps of sugar, cream, liquors. I never glanced at Nana’s recipe, so I can’t tell you how fussy it was, but I can tell you that it never tasted overwrought. It tasted simple and comforting.

And then there’s always the pie crust to contend with, enemy of even the most veteran baker.

Baked Honey Ricotta Pancake

This humble cake has five simple ingredients. The fruit topping is purely optional — you can omit it and drizzle on some honey instead, or just eat it plain. I chose raspberry because I have been on a major raspberry drive lately. I just want raspberries in everything and on everything, especially when they are bright and tart.

Fresh out of the oven, the texture of this cake is soft and cake-like, egginess noteable but not overpowering.

If you leave it to mellow, the next day you will find it sweeter, with the vanilla more present, and carrying a definite custard texture.

Wonderful either way.

You can mix this cake in less than five minutes, but it takes about 40 to bake. This is a gift. Get up, make the cake, and spend the cooking time cuddling in bed. hello sunshine.

Baked Honey Ricotta Pancake

Baked Honey Ricotta Pancake

Prep Time: 4 minutes

Cook Time: 42 minutes

Yield: 1 6 1/2" cake (serves 2-4)


  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup light ricotta*
  • 11/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 tbsp honey, plus 1 tbsp for drizzling on top
  • 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
  • optional topping
  • 1/2 cup frozen raspberries
  • nuts
  • honey


  1. preheat the oven to 375
  2. lightly grease a small casserole or pie pan (6 1/2 inch).
  3. Combine eggs, vanilla, ricotta, and honey. Beat on medium for about a minute or so, until well combined.
  4. Stir in the oats.
  5. Pour into the pan and drizzle additional honey on top
  6. Bake 38-42 minutes, until golden. It will still look a little wobbly when you take it out of the oven.
  7. Allow to cool slightly
  8. for the optional topping
  9. defrost the rasberries and mash them with a little honey. Spoon over top of the cake and sprinkle with nuts. serve with love


*light ricotta and part-skim ricotta are not the same thing.

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Easy Baked Ricotta Honey Pancake

Mardi Gras Smoothie Bowl

Mardi Gras Smoothie Bowl

I once knew a girl from New Orleans. She was spunky and smart and worked at the zoo, but what I remember most about her is that really knew how to have fun.  Once, she had a little Mardi-Gras get together, but instead of calling it Marti Gras, she called it Stephanie Gras. It was funny because she was the teeniest person, and in no way gras. She’s probably forgotten about it, but it still makes me chuckle. I like to use it as a somewhat annoying term of endearment — Jason Gras. teehee

Mardi Gras may still be a few weeks away, but I am totally ready for spring party colors right now. Tout de suite.  That, and I have a few deliciously gras-ening recipes coming up, so I thought I’d preempt them with this nice, clean, fruit bowl.  Bright blueberries, tart little raspberries all topped with sweet sliced mangoes, carambola, and kiwi. Doesn’t that make you want to throw confetti up in the air? Okay, well maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But it is refreshing and energizing, which is kinda the same thing.

Speaking of throwing confetti up in the air, I realized it’s been a while since I’ve done a round-up of interweb goodies that have made me cheer. Thus, I present Vol IV of Cookies and Coffee with Friends:

Mardi Gras Smoothie Bowl

Shelly’s unicorn bars!  Sprinkles and sugar cookies are the absolute magic cure for the winter blues

Sally’s Salted Maple Roasted Almond Butter This is how I feel about it: 😮! 😍 😛!

Speaking of almond butters, I admired Erin’s Dreamy Almond Butter Chia Pudding. Chia pudding is back with a vengeance, and if you need further proof, just take a look at this citrusy dream from Jeanie & Co: Sunshine Citrus Chia Bowls. After seeing Erin’s pudding, I ended up making chia pudding for breakfast for the next three days. Using her approximate proportions, I made something wonderful. I mixed 3/4 cup of almond milk with 3 tbsp chia seeds, and added a little almond extract and brown sugar. Then I defrosted 1/2 cup of blueberries and 1/2 cup of raspberries, and mixed 1 tbsp into each of those. Layered it into a jar and popped it in the fridge. Yum. But……I didn’t really like the way the picture came out. ⬆️

Which leads me to Kristen’s 366 Imperfect Photography Project. I often feel like I have no idea what I’m doing, but this post gave me a little sense of solidarity. I only just got my camera at Christmas, so I’m still learning how to use DSLR . Before, I used my phone or Jason’s old point-and-shoot. This means my photos are going to be imperfect. I will strive to improve them. One day, I will be pleased with them. It’s okay if today is not that day.

I have got to try Karen’s 5-ingredient Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. Quick, practical, and thrifty.

Carla’s cheery Lemon Drop Cream Soda is just plain wonderful. This is what I want to be sippin’ on this weekend, and the weekend after that too.

Y’all know I can’t say no to roasted cruciferous veggies. I will stink up my kitchen all day for Beth’s Roasted Cabbage Wedges with Garlic Tahini.

What goodies did y’all like this week? Share something that you made that you’re proud of (or share someone else’s treats, if you’re so inclined)

Power Up!

Mardi Gras Smoothie Bowl

Mardi Gras Smoothie Bowl


  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup frozen banana
  • little bit of almond milk
  • 1 banana
  • 1 kiwi
  • 1/2 mango
  • 1 starfruit


  1. Slice up the kiwi, mango, and starfruit
  2. Blend up the blueberries and banana with just enough almond milk to make the blades move
  3. Blend up the rasberries with just enough almond milk to make the blades move
  4. Pour the blueberry mix into a bowl, and swirl the raspberries over top.
  5. Arrange the kiwi, mango and starfruit over the bowl.
  6. Enjoy!


tip: to keep the bright color of the raspberries, defrost them first so that you need less almond milk.


Dark Chocolate Blackberry Oatmeal

Dark Chocolate Blackberry Oatmeal

Blackberries were on sale this week! I know that some people will frown on me for having bought them because seasonal/local yadda yadda, but if we eat tomatoes from Mexico during the winter (boo winter tomatoes 😫), then why not blackberries? Besides, blackberries are still in season down there, brudder. Er…..hermano.

I was excited and purchased plenty, with plans for salad and baking and all kinds of wonderful things, but then ended up eating most of them by the handful. Guess I’ll have to go get more, oh darn. One of my favorite things ways to eat them is with salted almonds and chocolate chips.  While this combination makes a wonderful snack, it does not make a very good breakfast. I had some of it before class and was rather hangry by 11. So  this good little snack needed a hearty upgrade,  which is where the oatmeal comes in.

In the past few years, fancy oatmeals have become suuuuupper popular. Um, I’m not sure this falls into the category of fancy, but it’s not your powdery-apples-in-a-paper-package oatmeal. Not that there’s anything wrong with powdery apple oatmeal, but I just like this a lot better. I hesitate to even introduce the word fancy because this oatmeal actually comes together rather quickly. You can even microwave the oats and save yourself a pot scrub, if you wish.

Dark Chocolate Blackberry Oatmeal

If you don’t finish all of it (I might have overshot on the hearty part just a little), you can put in in the fridge and the chocolate-maple sauce turns to fudge. Fudge, I tell you. Speaking of fudge, how many times are y’all planning on watching A Christmas Story? We run Roku instead of cable, which means no TBS. However, Netflix holds a wealth of terrible-wonderful-terrible Christmas movies. The Mistletones, anyone?

My mamabear came to see me and she brought me a huge bundle of fresh herbs. My aunt works on a little New Jersey farm and sent them over to me.  I put a little sage in with the almonds, it gives it just a little bit of a Christmas note. I think I like the holidays best this way: start with subtle notes, and then build to to a song, and then the whole show.


Dark Chocolate Blackberry Oatmeal

Serving Size: 1 hearty bowl


    for the topping
  • 5 medium-large fresh sage leaves
  • 2 tbsp slivered almonds
  • 2/3 cup blackberries, divided
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 1/2 tbsp chocolate chips
  • for the oatmeal
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup water or almond milk
  • pinch of salt


  1. Chop up the sage. You should end up with a scant teaspoon. Bring a small skillet to medium heat, and add the slivered almonds and the sage. Toast for about 4 -4.5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until almonds darken.
  2. Move the almonds and sage onto a plate, give the skillet a quick wipe-down, and then return it to the stovetop without ever turning off the heat.
  3. Add 1/3 cup of the blackberries to the skillet with the 2 tbsp water. Cover the skillet and allow the berries to turn scarlet, about 1.5 - 2 minutes. Add the maple syrup, cover again for 1.5 - 2 min. Smash the berries if they haven't already liquefied, and then stir for another 30 seconds. Mixture will start to thicken. Remove from heat and immediately stir in the chocolate chips.
  4. Bring the water to a boil, stir in the oatmeal, cinnamon, and vanilla, and allow oats to cook over medium heat, about 5 minutes. You can also do this in the microwave.
  5. Top the oats with the blackberry chocolate sauce, the almond-sage mix, and the remaining blackberries. Enjoy.

P.S. it’s finals week (ugh what the crab) and I have a project that needs some finishing touches. I might be out for a few days while I focus on, ugh, priorities. Please cook up a lot of goodies so I can daydream about them on my study breaks. ❤️



Cheesy Caraway Pesto Pasta

cheesy carraway pesto pasta

I usually don’t make pesto, because I find if far too addicting. If there’s pesto in the house, I will go at it with a spoon — or a piece of crusty bread and olive oil.  But my week has been insane and I wanted something that would come together fast. And pesto is fast. You don’t even have to boil it, like tomato sauce, or stir it or anything.  You just put in in your blender and it makes itself.

That, and the fact that I wasn’t going to be home enough to eat it all, so I was safe. Sort of.

I have been going through a caraway phase — sprinkling it on roasted veggies and other things. But sometimes the little seeds get stabby going down your throat and that’s not a pleasant feeling. So I decided to make them into a pesto. Stab me? I’ll grind to a pulp.

Um, I’m not actually a violent person.

Cheesy Caraway Pesto Pasta

I need to save just a little of this cause my mom’s coming into town and she loves pesto. Are y’all ready for your folks to come trooping into town?

This will be the first full-sized Thanksgiving in about 5 years. Lately it’s been just me and my mom, or just me, my mom, and Jason. And for the past two years, this has been the main course for me and my mom, with ground turkey tacos for Jas. Now that we live in Ohio, we’re going to have a big family Thanksgiving — my first with his family. I’m kinda glad that I have to work Thanksgiving morning so that I don’t have time to freak out. I like Jason’s family a lot, but sometimes being around a lot of people makes me nervous, no matter who they are. If I go to a party, I’ll spend most of my time talking to the little kids or the dogs. You know the type.  Lucky for me, there are going to be a lot of little kids there. Last time there was a big party, I got to play with plastic farm animals and a pop gun. Talk about fun 😀

Cheesy Caraway Pesto Pasta

Serving Size: 4


  • 3 tbsp caraway seeds
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp lemon zest
  • 3 tbsp pecan pieces
  • 2 cups packed parsley
  • 1 huge garlic clove, or 2 medium garlic cloves
  • salt to taste
  • pasta
  • 4 servings of pasta (I used GF)
  • 8 oz sharp cheddar


    for the pesto:
  1. Combine the olive oil and lemon juice. Add the caraway seeds and let them soak in the liquids for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the rest of the pesto ingredients and blend till combined. Add salt to taste.
  3. for the pasta
  4. Prepare pasta according to package directions.
  5. Grate the cheese
  6. Toss the cheese, pesto, and pasta together, until cheese is melted. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and serve.