Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Dairy-Free Chocolate Chunk Vanilla Muffins with Cinnamon Crumb Topping

Awhile back, I marked a recipe for vanilla muffins with cinnamon crumb topping to try from the Heavenly Homemakers site, but I hadn't made them yet.  Yesterday, my son had a snow day from school, so I stayed home from work with the kids.  Carson wanted to make some muffins, so I went looking through some recipes I had marked to try and came across this one.  I made some changes to make it dairy free and we mixed up a double batch of batter (so we'd have plenty to eat some now and freeze lots for later).  I made one pan (12 muffins) with just the plain vanilla muffin and cinnamon crumb topping.  For the other half of the batter (12 muffins), I mixed in some cinnamon and dairy-free/soy-free/nut-free chocolate chunks.  Both versions turned out delicious!!  Carson likes the ones with chocolate chunks in them best.  I think they are both equally good.  They had a perfect consistency - airy and soft, yet super moist.  The vanilla muffins are a great base recipe and we've already been brainstorming different varieties of muffins we could make, so I expect we'll be trying some out in the near future.  :) 

Dairy-Free Vanilla Muffins

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sucanat/organic cane sugar/organic brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
3/4 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1 cup dairy-free/soy-free/nut-free chocolate chunks (optional)

Cinnamon Crumb Topping

6 Tablespoons organic cane sugar or brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 Tablespoons coconut oil, softened

Mix the flour, sucanat/sugar, baking powder and sea salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add egg, vanilla, coconut oil and almond milk.  Mix until ingredients are well combined.  Stir in cinnamon and/or chocolate chunks, if you are using them.  Scoop into paper lined muffin tins. 

Meanwhile, mix together Cinnamon Crumb Topping ingredients and sprinkle on top of each muffin. 

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.  Remove and let cool. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!!  2013... Wow! I remember (back in 2000) thinking the twenty-teen years seemed a lifetime away. And in a way, they have been. A lot has changed in my life since then. Heck, a lot has changed in my life in 2012 alone! The birth of our second child - a daughter, my son's second year of preschool and his awesomeness at being a fantastic big brother, my husband's new job, I started up a photography business... And those are just the biggest accomplishments. We had tons of others, as well. 2012 was a fabulous year for us. I pray that 2013 will be the same!

I haven't really done an annual goals post in a couple of years or so, but I felt like doing one this year. These are not resolutions, but rather my goals and dreams for the year.


  • Support and encourage the growth of my children. 
    • Carson will be turning 5 and will be starting Kindergarten this year (yikes!!). We will be selecting a school for him to attend within the coming months. This will be a big change for all of us and I pray it goes well. We are starting to plan his 5th birthday party and look forward to doing as many fun things as possible on his non-preschool days... We want to make the most of our time together before he is in school all day, 5 days a week. 
    • Bristol will be turning 1 this summer. We'll have a big birthday party for her and look forward to helping her learn to crawl, walk, talk, etc. She has recently started solid foods and we look forward to introducing more foods over the next few months. We are avoiding all grains until her first birthday. This means no baby cereal. We started with sweet potatoes - and not puréed ones from a jar (though we will do some of those at times, too.)... Rather I just mashed up some sweet potatoes from our pot roast one night and started with those. No gagging, no choking, she did great with them! She has also had peas and carrots mixed with some homemade chicken broth. This is a totally different approach than I took with Carson, but so far it is working very well. 
  • Make an effort to do regular date nights with my husband. 
    • We are really bad at taking time for ourselves. Or rather I am really bad with it. Since I work so much, I feel guilty taking time away from my kids when I could be spending it with them. But Kevin and I both want (and need) some one-on-one time. So we are going to make more of an effort to do so. 
  • Plan some vacations and do lots of outings. 
    • We love new adventures and vacations and outings. So we do these things regularly. We've actually started doing some tentative planning already for our vacations this year. 
    • We'll be going to Wisconsin for an Elsesser family reunion. 
    • We'll be spending a long weekend up near the Platte River/Sleeping Bear Dunes in August for an Odykirk family reunion. 
    • We will be taking a big trip, too... Either to Arizona or Colorado. I am kind of thinking Arizona's timing isn't going to work out very well with a big project launch of Kevin's (at work), as well as some things that our friends have going on, but we'll see how things play out during these next few weeks. If it doesn't pan out, we will be going to Colorado after Kevin's big project has wrapped up in July. 
    • We would like to go camping one weekend per month this summer, as well. We can already make our June reservations (and very soon July), so we are working on that, too. I think we'll be going to Rifle River in June. We're also hoping to go camping with Kevin's sister's family now that they are into camping, too. 
    • In addition to the vacations and trips, we want to do lots of outings... Calvin basketball game(s), children's museums and science centers, zoos, festivals, hiking, sledding, boating, etc. 
    • We also look forward to biking again this summer. We hope to do some day trips to go biking and explore new areas.

  • Form a small group. 
    • We officially joined a church in 2012. I want to get a little more involved, form some good friendships, and grow in our faith. One step will be forming a small group, which I have been working with our adult discipleship leaders and some friends on. I think we may have a group. So I will be getting the details finalized in January. We'll meet once a month to start (3rd Tuesday of each month) and go from there. 
  • Get involved in other church activities. 
    • I'd like for us to get involved in other church activities, as well. There are basketball leagues that Kevin might enjoy, Sunday school for all of us, and a soccer team that would be fun for me (and maybe Kevin), too.  
    • I'd like to attend some of the young adult/young family events. Things like game nights, dinners, Bible studies, etc. 
    • We'll work into some of this stuff gradually. Kevin has already expressed some concerns (over time commitments) about the small group. So he will definitely take some easing into all of this. But hopefully throughout the year, we'll get more involved. 

  • Continue a healthy lifestyle and lose more weight. 
    • I lost over 40 pounds in 2012. But I still have a long way to go. I'm not really focusing on the number on the scale, but I do know I want to lose at least another 40 pounds. Even at that point, I won't be within the doctor recommended healthy weight range, but we'll see how I feel physically at that point and go from there. 
    • That being said, I am not dieting or following a strict exercise program or anything. I'm just doing as much as I can, eating real foods, and trying to live as naturally as possible. We tend to just like eating a mostly paleo diet, so that will make up the majority of my meals, but I've never been hard core/strict about it and don't intend to start. 
    • I would like to give CrossFit a try at some point, but we'll see when it works out. I'm not following a strict exercise schedule, but I do try to be as active as possible, try to walk at least one mile daily (on work days), and try to get a workout in 2-3 nights a week at home. I'd like to be doing a workout 4-5 nights, but I will do my best. 

  • Do some major spring cleaning. 
    • We have way too much stuff. I want to get rid of a lot of it - the stuff we never use - and organize the stuff we do use. I'm having a thirty-one party in a few weeks and hope to get some home organization stuff to help out with this effort - cute bins, under bed storage, etc.  
    • I've already got a small start on this during the last couple of days. I've been working on cleaning out the kids' rooms. Bristol's is done and Carson's will be done today. Next I want to tackle our master bedroom, which is just a dumping ground of stuff. I also want to get the Christmas decorations and tree down today. And we will be going through some toys to get rid of, as well. 

  • Grow my photography business. 
    • Like I mentioned above, I started up a photography business in 2012. For only working a couple of months out of the year, I think I did pretty well. Especially considering I had a newborn and am working my day job. I want to grow my business in 2013. Not a lot, since I want it to remain part-time, but I would like to grow it some. I have been working on a business plan and some marketing ideas. We'll see where they take me. 
    • I will be doing a new website for my business soon and will hopefully get my branding established within a couple of months, too. 

So that is my list... at least my list of my biggest goals for the year.  Are you setting goals for the new year?  I'd love to hear them if you are!