Cherry Berry Vanilla Almond Granola

DFTSI Cherry Berry Granola_1095

You can customize this granola according to your preferences by adding in any sort of dried fruit or using different nuts in the recipe. I stumbled upon this gluten free recipe by Michelle Palin ~ My Gluten-free Kitchen and it soon became my favorite.
I recently made 12 batches of it to include in Valentines Day Care Packages sent to our graduated NCL Ticktockers that are away at college.  Enjoy!


  • 4 cups gluten-free oats (rolled or old-fashioned, NOT instant)
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup unrefined coconut oil (or melted unsalted butter or oil of your choice)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut – optional (I like wide sliced coconut from Sprouts)
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit – optional (I like Dried Berry Medley from Trader Joe’s)


  1. Preheat oven to 300°.
  2. Line a jelly roll pan (about 10.5″x15.5″) with parchment paper, or spray with nonstick cooking spray.DFTSI Cherry Berry Granola_1078
  3. In a large bowl, use a spatula to stir together oats, almonds, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon.DFTSI Cherry Berry Granola_1073
  4. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter or oil, honey and sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat stirring constantly with a whisk to get the sugar to dissolve and the mixture to come together. Once it comes together and simmers about 30 seconds, remove from heat. Whisk in the pure vanilla extract.
  5. Pour the hot liquid mixture over the oat mixture in the bowl. Stir well with a large spatula or wooden spoon. Spread granola on prepared jelly roll pan. Bake at 300° until golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. Once or twice during the baking time, pull out and stir well and put back in for the remainder of the baking.DFTSI Cherry Berry Granola_1054
  6. Transfer pan to a rack; If you want to add in dried fruit, add it now. Cool granola completely. If you want smaller chunks, stir several times while it cools so that it doesn’t harden into large chunks. If you want to add in mini chocolate chips, add them now after it has cooled completely.DFTSI Cherry Berry Granola_1089-1
  7. When cooled, use your hands to break apart to the size you want and store in an airtight container.

by Michelle Palin ~ My Gluten-free Kitchen


Roasted Grape Crostini


DFTSI Grape Crostini_9813YIELDS 12 SERVINGS

Roasted Grapes Crostini

Roasted Grapes Crostini caramelizes sweet grapes with a light balsamic dressing before nestling them on a savory bed of ricotta and crisp, buttery toast. This is one appetizer to remember!

20 min: Prep Time
15 min:  Cook Time
35 min: Total Tim Continue reading

Life Lessons from Dr. Seuss

I love how Dr. Seuss was able to use humor and rhyme to teach young and old alike great life lessons, this one, the art of decision making…

The Zode in the Road by Dr. Seuss

Did I ever tell you about the young Zode,
Who came to two signs at the fork in the road?
One said to Place One, and the other, Place Two.
So the Zode had to make up his mind what to do.
Well…the Zode scratched his head, and his chin and his pants.
And he said to himself, “I’ll be taking a chance
If I go to Place One. Now, that place may be hot!
And so, how do I know if I’ll like it or not?
On the other hand though, I’ll be sort of a fool
If I go to Place Two and find it too cool.
In that case I may catch a chill and turn blue!
So, maybe Place One is the best, not Place Two,
But then again, what if Place One is too high?
I may catch a terrible earache and die!
So Place Two may be best! On the other hand though…
What might happen to me if Place Two is too low?
I might get some very strange pain in my toe!
So Place One may be best,” and he started to go.
Then he stopped, and he said, “On the other hand
On the other hand…other hand…other hand though…”
And for 36 hours and a half that poor Zode
Made starts and made stops at the fork in the road.
Saying, “Don’t take a chance. No! You may not be
Then he got an idea that was wonderfully bright!
“Play safe!” cried the Zode. “I’ll play safe. I’m no dunce!
I’ll simply start out for both places at once!”
And that’s how the Zode who would not take a chance
Got no place at all with a split in his pants.

Lesson: Don’t over-analyze every decision.  Just do it!

Spiced Cranberry Sauce

DFTSI Spice Cranberry Sauce

Spiced Apple Cranberry Sauce


  • 1 orange
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tart apple, such as Granny Smith, pippin or McIntosh
  • 3 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves


Use a potato peeler to peel the orange rind of the orange. Cut the orange in half and squeeze the juice from 1/2 of the orange and set the juice aside. In a small saucepan over high heat, combine the rind and the water and bring to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes, then drain and set aside.

Peel, core and quarter the apple. Cut into 1/2-inch dice and place in a saucepan. Sort the cranberries, discarding any soft ones. Add to the apples along with the orange juice, orange rind, sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to low and cover the pan partially. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, the apple is tender and the cranberries have burst, 10 to 15 minutes.

Transfer the cranberry sauce to a heatproof bowl and let cool for 1 hour before serving. Or cover and refrigerate; bring to room temperature before serving. Transfer the cranberry sauce to a sauceboat and pass at the table.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library Series, Thanksgiving & Christmas, by Chuck Williams (Time-Life Books, 1993).
Servings: 10-12


Skinny Lasagna

DFTSI - Skinny Lasagna_9601

Thin sliced zucchini instead of lasagna noodles turns this into a delicious yet hearty low carb meal.  You won’t even miss the pasta!

Skinny Lasagna

Cook Time: under 60 minutes        /            Serves: 4


  • 1 lb. 85% lean ground beef
  • kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 – 24 oz jar tomato basil pasta sauce ( I like Bertolli)
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil (plus a few leaves for garnish (optional)
  • 5 shakes of italien  herbs (about 1/2 tsp.)
  • 1 large or two medium zucchini (sliced 1/8″ thick using a mandolin)
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1-2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Continue reading

Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken

DFTSI - Lemongrass Chicken - 9533

Vietnamese food is full of mouth watering flavors and this recipe is sure not to disappoint.  I found it while browsing on Pinterest.  I adapted the recipe from an original post in October 2007 from Food and Wine Magazine.

Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken

Serves 4
Dinner is ready in 20-30 minutes (don’t forget to marinate chicken before)


2 tablespoons fish sauce
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon curry powder ( I use madras)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces (thighs work too)
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons coconut oil
2 fresh lemongrass stalks, tender inner white bulbs only, minced finely
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
3 red chilies, seeded and minced
1 scallion thinly sliced for garnishing (optional)
cilantro sprigs for garnishing (optional)

  1.  Marinate the chicken: In a bowl, combine the fish sauce, garlic, curry powder, salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of the sugar. Add the chicken meat to coat. Marinade for at least two hours.
  2. Make the caramel: In a small skillet, mix the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar with 1 tablespoon of the water and cook over high heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Cook without stirring until a deep amber caramel forms about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of water. Transfer to a small bowl.
  3. Cook the chicken: Heat a wok or large frying pan over high heat. Add the coconut oil and heat until shimmering. Add the lemongrass, shallot, and chilies and stir-fry until fragrant about 1 minute. Add the chicken and caramel and stir-fry until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is slightly thickened about 8 minutes.  Transfer to a serving dish and top with the scallions and cilantro. Serve with steamed white rice.

Apricot Bites with Goat Cheese and Pistachio

Looking for a healthy low carb appetizer for your next party?  Try this simple recipe.  It has just 4 ingredients and is a perfect snack or appetizer.  Dried apricots topped with creamy goat cheese, nutty pistachios and just a drizzle of honey make a perfect combination.

18 dried apricots (I like the larger Turkish ones)
2 oz. goat cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped pistachios
1-2 T of honey, for drizzling


  1. Place apricots on a platter or serving tray
  2. With the back of a spoon, spread a small dollop of goat cheese onto each apricot
  3. Sprinkle a pinch or two of crushed pistachios onto each
  4. Drizzle with honey*
  5. Enjoy!

Tip: To avoid putting too much honey on each apricot bite, place honey in a ziplock plastic baggy.  Cut off a small corner of the baggie and squeeze honey from the hole onto each apricot to add just the amount of sweetness to each bite.


Creds to Jess @ for this yummy recipe.  Her recipe is for a larger crowd and yields 3 dozen of these yummy treats.  I simply cut the recipe in half.  Check out all her other easy recipes.