This recipe doubles as hand care. How many recipes can you say that about?

It’s a floor wax AND a dessert topping!


Notes about the ingredients

If you’re as last minute as me, the big gigantic bag of prewashed, precut kale is awesome. Don’t worry, once you try this (and its olive oil/shredded parmesan counterpart), you’ll use up the bag of kale pretty quickly. Also, if you want to save money, get the coconut oil at Aldi, where the same jar that’s $7.99 at Kroger or Giant Eagle is only $4.99.


  • Kale
  • Coconut oil
  • Shredded coconut
  • Sea salt
  • Ginger powder


Preheat oven to 325° F.

  1. On a cookie sheet, spread out a generous amount of kale. It won’t lay flat, but keep it to a single layer so it can all get crispy.
  2. Scoop out a cherry-sized spoonful of coconut oil into your clean hands.
  3. Warm the coconut oil by rubbing it between your hands, then massage the kale with it. (I heard that massaging the kale removes bitterness.)
  4. Bonus: This is the step that doubles as hand care! Rub excess coconut oil into your skin. It smells great and makes your skin soft!
  5. Sprinkle with shredded coconut to taste.
  6. Sprinkle with sea salt to taste, and add tiny dashes of ginger powder.
  7. Bake at 325° F for 10 minutes, turning the pan around partway in case there are hot spots.

It’s done when at least half the kale feels crispy to the touch. It looks like a lot, but the crispy parts melt in your mouth, so it can disappear fast!

I wasn’t sure how this would be, so when it turned out pretty yummy, I decided I’d better write down what I did before I forget. The remains don’t look as appetizing as it did when I first made it, so I’ll add pictures when I make it again.


  • 1/2 cup of Della 4 Grain Rice Blend
  • 1 cup of water
  • sea salt to taste
  • 2 or 3 dashes of nutmeg
  • 1 or 2 teaspoons of rosemary
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • sea salt and mixed peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup of thinly sliced and chopped sweet onion
  • 1/4 cup of thin baby carrot slices
  • 1 and 1/2 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced thinly
  • 1 or 2 cups of broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup or more of walnuts (I like to leave them big)
  • 1/8 to 1/4 cup of ancient hard raisins (you can use fresh ones if you have them, but it’s a good way to use up ancient ones, as the steam plumps them back up)

Make rice

Follow directions on the bag of rice, adding sea salt, nutmeg, and rosemary.

Make veggies

  1. In a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat (5 and a half out of 10), make a couple of swirls of olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste. (You can always add more later after tasting it.)
  2. As the oil heats, add onions and carrots and stir once in a while, adding zucchini as you chop it.
  3. Poke the veggies with a fork once in a while to test doneness, and when the zucchini is getting soft, add the broccoli and walnuts and raisins.
  4. Stir a bit until the zucchini begins to get a few brown spots and the onions are translucent, then cover with a lid to steam the broccoli for a few minutes. (I used the lid from my rice, which was smaller than the skillet, but gathered the broccoli under it.)
  5. Check the broccoli for bright-green tenderness and the raisins for miraculous plumpness, and then dump the whole shebang into the rice.
  6. Stir, taste, and add salt and pepper to taste.

I made these for my mom for Mother’s Day, but judging by how many disappeared into the kids, they’re a hit all around!


I got Aldi’s new gluten free brownie mix, and added the cream cheese surprise! (I copied the cream cheese part from Bob’s Red Mill, and then realized the Aldi mix is four ounces smaller, and had to run out for a second box!) If you use another brand, just follow the instructions on the box for mixing up the brownies.

This made 24 cupcakes for me, and I filled them almost to the top. Brownies don’t rise a whole lot during baking. These are sooo rich that you could probably make them smaller, but no one left any behind.


  • 2 boxes of liveGfree Brownie Mix from Aldi (17 oz.)
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 c oil
  • 4 T water
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 1 package cream cheese (8 oz.)
  • about a third to a half bag of chocolate chips
  • 24 cupcake liners


  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F and put cupcake liners in muffin tins.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat one egg with the sugar and cream cheese until light and fluffy.
  3. Stir in the chocolate chips and set aside.
  4. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, water, and remaining eggs until blended.
  5. Add the two boxes of brownie mix to the mixing bowl and stir until just moistened.

Assemble and Bake

  1. Spoon about a generous tablespoon of brownie mix into the bottom of each cupcake liner.
  2. Top each with a generous tablespoon of cream cheese batter.
  3. Top each with another generous tablespoon of brownie mix.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes to half an hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean (unless you hit a chocolate chip!)

I forgot to take a picture! I’ll go see if there are any left at Mom and Dad’s. 🙂

This is the result of my third doctoring of the recipe I got from the Gluten Free Goddess, African Bean Sweet Potato Soup. The first doctoring got rid of the bell peppers (blech) and all but the black beans, but now it’s a whole different animal with four-grain rice, more spices, and a cinnamon stick! It’s very thick and hearty, so I’m calling it stew now. I’ll add a picture next time I make it.


Spices Veggies & Liquids Stir Ins
1 T olive oil

1+ T Panang curry paste

1/2 t or 1 stick cinnamon

pinch cloves

pinch nutmeg

1/2 t crushed red pepper
2 t minced garlic

1 medium onion, diced

2 medium or 3 small sweet potatoes, diced

1 medium zucchini, diced

1 quart light broth

1/2 c peanut butter melted in 1/2 c hot water
4 Grain Rice, cooked

2 T cilantro, chopped

juice from one lime

1 T brown sugar

salt and pepper to taste

cilantro for garnish

Heat Up Some Flavor

(and make your kitchen smell really good)

  1. Heat olive oil in a big stew pot and add all ingredients from the Spices column. Stir to infuse the oil (and the air around you) with spicy goodness.
  2. Add garlic and diced veggies. Cook on medium 5 to 7 minutes, stirring several times, until softened. At this point, the combined aromas of spices and sweet potatoes will make your mouth water.
  3. Stir in broth and peanut butter melt, heat to a high simmer, cover, and lower heat. Simmer 20 to 25 minutes.
  4. Stir in rice and cilantro and simmer another 5 minutes.
  5. Add lime juice, brown sugar, salt and pepper, warm through and serve garnished with cilantro.

This stuff smells and tastes so good! For some reason, the zucchini, having no real flavor of its own, tastes almost like baked apples in this recipe. The rice adds texture that makes it more of a stew than a soup. But the true heart of it is the combination of peanut butter, Thai spices, and sweet potatoes. Thank you, Gluten Free Goddess!

I’ve been all about purple sweet potatoes since I saw them in a bin at the Westgate Import Market this summer. They’re so beautiful, but I think I forgot to take a picture of them in candied form! Ah, there they are, in the purplish pink bowl. They’re not as brilliant of a purple candied as they are when you just nuke them and eat them plain, but they are so yummy! As my niece said, “I don’t like sweet potatoes, but these taste like Christmas should smell!”


  • 2 pounds of purple sweet potatoes
    (or regular, if you can’t find purple at an Asian market)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of pecans
  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 1/2 cup of orange juice
  • 4 tablespoons of honey
  • 2/3 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla


  1. Without peeling, cover whole sweet potatoes in water in a big pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes until sweet potatoes are softening, but still firm.
  3. Cool, peel, and cut into chunks or slices into a baking dish.
  4. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  5. In a saucepan, add all other ingredients and bring to a boil, then pour over sweet potatoes.
  6. Bake for 40 minutes.
  7. Serve in a bowl, spooning sauce over any dry sweet potatoes.


I adapted this recipe from one for regular sweet potatoes that called for maple syrup (yick!) for which I substituted orange juice and honey, and then added cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. I haven’t done a test drive on the amounts above for several reasons:

  1. I have no idea how many pounds of purple sweet potatoes I had. There were two big ones shaped like a human heart (with swirly patterns of purple and pale purple inside) and two long skinny ones (that looked like a purple tree trunk inside).
  2. I first made it with half the sauce ingredients, then realized that I’d forgotten the pecans and that it didn’t look like much sauce, so I made more sauce with the pecans without really measuring. it might not have been quite double the original amount.

Next time I make this, I’ll measure and update if necessary. I might even put the whole bag of pecans in. Yum!

Another cool thing: the sauce takes on this lovely berry color from the sweet potatoes. They look very dark in the picture, but you can definitely still tell that they’re purple!

I discovered purple yams at my new favorite little Thai grocery store and restaurant. Mostly I just nuke them and eat them as they are, like in this picture, but today I wanted something with coconut milk and curry. I set out to make soup, and landed on mashed sweet potatoes instead!

  • 1 large purple yam (diced, in pan with water to cover)
  • 1/2 can coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon panaeng curry paste (canned)
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut

Cook the yams

In a covered saucepan, heat the yams until the water boils, then reduce heat and simmer until softened, but not complete mush (like they’re easy to stick a fork in, but don’t fall apart much). Drain, even though I hate throwing out all of those antioxidants and vitamin A in that purple water! Transfer to a serving bowl that you can mix them in.

Make the sauce

Shake up the coconut milk to mix the cream and the thin milk. This is only important when you use half the can. Pour half into the saucepan, and add a tablespoon (more if you like really hot stuff) of the panaeng curry paste. Bring to a boil, stirring to mix the curry completely with the coconut milk. It turns a pale pinkish peachy color with bits of red chili, and begins to thicken.

Mix and texturize

To the bowl of yams, add the sauce and the coconut. I’m not sure how much I actually used, but you can do it to taste. I might’ve used more than half a cup… Ideally, I’d use a potato masher, but since I don’t have one, I used a mixer, first mashing the potatoes down a bit with the beaters. Mix on medium until the biggest chunks are gone, then turn it up–you might even get a purple-splotched countertop for your troubles! I like them with nice purple chunks of sweet potato and shredded coconut all through to give them a lot of texture, but again, it’s to taste.

Mmm, lightly spicy, lightly sweet, coconutty texture and flavor, and PURPLE!!! What could be better?

I’ll get a picture sometime when the light is right.


So I’ve finally managed to cook something that both of my kids will eat, and that grownups will also eat. The first time I made it with this much crushed red pepper, I thought for sure that the kids wouldn’t eat it, but that’s apparently what makes it good!

*edited down the amount of spices–i eyeballed the measurements this time and found that even 1+ tablespoon made it pretty darned spicy!


  • 1 box of lasagna noodles
  • 1 15 oz. tub of ricotta cheese
  • about 2 teaspoons+ of crushed red pepper
  • about 1 teaspoon+ of dried oregano
  • about 1 teaspoon of dried basil
  • 2 jars of spaghetti sauce
  • 2 8 oz. bags of shredded Italian blend cheese
  • 1 8 oz. ball of fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1 5 oz. tub of shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 5 oz. tub of shredded romano cheese

Some Assembly Required

  1. In a roughly cauldron-sized pot, boil the lasagna noodles according to the package directions minus one minute.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, dump the tub of ricotta, and then shake on about ten times as much crushed red pepper as you think would be good. Seriously! Shake it on until you can no longer see any white! It seems like too much, but add a little more.
  3. Shake out a tablespoon plus a bit more of dried oregano into your palm, and then use your fingers to crush it over the ricotta. This releases more of the flavor.
  4. Do the same with the basil, but maybe a little less so the oregano can make it all Italiany.
  5. Stir the pepper flakes and herbs until they’re blended into the ricotta so that it looks like this. (See? Told you it could take a lot of crushed red pepper!)

  1. Drain the noodles and leave them in a strainer to cool until you can handle them.
  2. In a rectangular baking pan (9″ x 13″?), pour about a half a cup of spaghetti sauce, then tilt the pan around until it coats the bottom. This keeps the noodles from sticking to it.
  3. Lay out three lasagna noodles–they should just fit side-by-side. (This pan’s a little big–Mom gave me the “official” lasagna pan to use instead of the cake pan I’d been using.)
  4. Plop a heaping tablespoon of the ricotta mixture on one of the noodles, and, anchoring the near end of the noodle with a finger, spread it down the length of the noodle. It doesn’t need to be very thick, as we’ll have a bunch of layers. Repeat for the other two noodles.


  1. Sprinkle on a layer of the Italian shredded cheese mix (five or six cheese blend–usually includes several of the other cheeses we’re adding–hence the name of the recipe) until you have the ricotta pretty well covered, like this.

  1. Sprinkle on a thin layer of the shredded parmesan and another of the shredded romano cheese. This layer’s a lot thinner than the previous cheese layer.

  1. Spoon on some sauce. I do a couple of tablespoons down each noodle, and another tablespoon between each of those lines, then spread it out with the back of the spoon. If the cheese sticks to the spoon a lot, you need a little more sauce.


  1. Repeat each of these layers until you run out of noodles.
  2. On the top layer, after you add the sauce, slice up the ball of fresh mozzarella, and lay the slices on top of the whole lasagna.


  1. Cover with foil and bake at 350F for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes.

Let it cool for at least ten minutes before cutting and serving.