Chocolate Avocado Muffins

No Butter? No Problem!

I tried a recipe promising yummy muffins replacing the fat in a muffin recipe with avocado. The result was a little strange. So I decided to use my go to muffin recipe and make my own avocado muffin experiment. 4 mini muffins later, I decided that my second attempt was quite successful.


  • 1 avocado
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup vanilla yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp baking power
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips


  • Beat the avocado in mixer to mash, then add wet ingredients and mix well. Add dry ingredients and mix until blended (do not mix too much, just until blended thoroughly). Add chocolate chips.
  • Spray or line muffin tins, fill 3/4 full. We made 24 mini muffins.
  • Make 18-20 minutes at 350 degrees.

Overcoming Pie Crust

Chicken Pot Pie Success!

I have always been terrible at making pie crusts. I usually end up with a very ugly, dry, but holding the contents of my pie together. This past Thanksgiving I even bought pie crust and ended up with a mess.

My grandma loves chicken pot pies so I set out on a mission this week to conquer my nemesis. I’ll admit, I didn’t have great expectations.

The dreaded pie crust… I don’t know if it was my newfound recipe or God feeling bad for me, but here are my tips.

  1. Start your day by making the pie crusts. Then move onto the pot pie filling
  2. Don’t skip the shortening.
  3. Make one of your pie crust rounds slightly larger and use this as the bottom crust.
  4. Freeze your wrapped pie crust rounds if you only have 30 minutes, otherwise refrigerate for 2 hours.
  5. As you are placing your bottom crust into your pie plate, push the dough gently down towards the bottom. This will help keep your crust from shrinking.
  6. When you are sealing your top and bottom crusts, instead of trimming off all the excess, fold it under to make an extra thick edge. This will help the fluting hold its shape and minimize shrinking/filling spillage.
  • 2  1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening or lard
  • 1/2 cup cold butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup ice water
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  1. Whisk together the flour, salt and sugar in a medium bowl. With a pastry cutter, cut the shortening and butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse meal, with pea sized pieces of butter.
  2. Lightly beat the egg, then add it to the water and vinegar. Add the water to the dry ingredients and mix just until the dough comes together. If too sticky, add flour by the Tablespoon. Divide in half, then form into 2 discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze until cold.

Chicken Pot Pie Recipe

I decided to go with pre-cooked rotisserie chicken for my filling to make life a bit simpler.

  • 2 cups cooked, chunked chicken
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 1/3 cup onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup milk
  • 12 ounces frozen peas and carrots 
  • 2 9 inch unbaked pie crusts
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

  2.  Add onions, celery and butter to the saucepan and cook for a few minutes, until soft and translucent. Stir in the flour, salt, pepper and garlic powder.

  3. Slowly stir in the chicken stock and milk. Simmer over medium-low heat until thick.

  4. Add the chicken to the pot along with the frozen vegetables. Taste and season with more salt, pepper, or garlic powder if needed. **Note, your roux or cream sauce will be quite salty on its own. Once you add the veggies and chicken, this will mellow out the salt.

  5. Roll out bottom (larger) pie crust round to a least 12″ for a 9″ pie plate. Fold in half, then in half again and transfer to pie plate. Unfold to cover plate and gently press the pie crust dough toward the bottom of the plate. Pour mixture into bottom pie crust. Cover with top crust, seal edges, and cut away excess dough. Make a few small slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape.

  6. Bake for 30- 35 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cover the edges of the pie crust with tin foil too prevent over browning.

  7. Cool for at least 15-20 minutes before serving to allow your filling to set up.

If you are still reading – IT WORKED! I made pie crust and a delicious pot pie. I am so proud and everyone loved it. I will definitely make this again, but we will see if I am brave enough to tackle my pie love – French Silk Pie.

Soy Sauce Anyone?

When Takeout Isn’t an Option

I love Chinese takeout, but there isn’t a great option near me. So, I make my own! Or as best as this American with a Scandinavian heritage can muster. I prefer Jasmine rice for the base of my dishes and here is a secret – add extra water. To achiever fluffier rice I add around 1/2 cup extra water or 1 part rice to 2 parts water. The next key is that when the rice is still wet, but just starts to stick to the bottom of the pan TURN OFF THE HEAT and put on the lid. This allows the rice to absorb the extra water without half of your rice sticking to the bottom of the pan. Give it a fluff after 5-10 minutes and you will have achieved fluffy rice.

Mongolian beef is one of my favorite dishes, but making it at home takes some time. Last night I opted for Korean Beef that utilized ground beef vs steak slices. It was easy, fast and delicious.

Korean Beef Recipe

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
  1. Whisk together brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and ground ginger in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2.  In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown and crumble the lean ground beef until no longer pink. Drain if necessary. Add diced bell pepper and saute for 2-3 minutes. Stir in soy sauce mixture, allowing to simmer until most of the liquid has reduced, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.
  3. Serve immediately over steamed rice. Top with thinly sliced green onions.

Honey Garlic Chicken With Broccoli

Tonight I still had Asian cuisine on the brain so we went for a honey garlic chicken with roasted broccoli over rice. I prefer roasted vegetables, so I start by chopping my head of broccoli into bite size pieces and toss them in olive oil, salt and pepper. I place the broccoli on a rimmed baking sheet and set it aside while I work on my chicken. Before we dive in on the steps, here is what you need.

  • 1-2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 cups broccoli florets (or 1 head)
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth or water
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 egg, stirred
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Prep your sauce by mixing the soy sauce, broth, honey and garlic. Microwave for 30 seconds, then stir. Set aside.
  2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Next heat 1-2 Tablespoons of oil in your pan, enough to coat the bottom, medium heat should be plenty to warm things up. I like to use sunflower oil as it is good for high heat.
  4. Once my chicken is cut into bite size pieces, I toss it in the cornstarch. Then I add my egg and make sure all the pieces are coated. With the oil hot, place the chicken pieces in the pan. I usually do this in two rounds so as not to overcrowd the pan. You want the pieces to be lightly brown on each side, then transfer them to an oven safe baking dish. It’s ok if they are not cooked through.
  5. When all of your chicken has been sauted, pour the sauce over your chicken. Give it a good stir, then put your chicken and pan of broccoli in the oven for 30 minutes.
  6. While your oven is going, make the rice.
  7. After 30 minutes, mix your chicken and broccoli. Serve over rice.


Chowder Recipe and Tips

Corn Potato Ham Chowder – Let’s Get Cooking!

Earlier this week I posted a video on Instagram (@lifeinreview) of me prepping veggies for a variety of meals. So far we’ve had tortilla soup and corn chowder, yum! I’ll be honest I completely winged the tortilla soup. I used shredded carrots and diced onions and celery as the base for both soups. I still had leftover pork shoulder from last week’s slow cooker meal prep recipe so I used that instead of chicken. I also used a seasoning pouch that I had from Frontera. The great thing about soups is their flexibility.

One of my favorite tortilla soup recipes is by the lovely Pioneer Woman. You can check it out here:

Ok, onto the corn chowder! I love the Simple Truth line of products at Kroger. Not all are organic, but they all are natural/limited ingredient. I recently stumbled across cooked, uncured ham which is perfect for making chowder. I can’t eat nitrates, and they really aren’t good for you, so I was super excited to find uncured, nitrate free ham! With the veggies pre-sliced, a frozen package of corn and the packaged ham, all I had left was to dice up my organic gold potatoes. Gold potatoes cook faster than Russet and you don’t have to peel the skin off, both of which are great time savers.







Here is the chowder I based by meal off of:

I didn’t feel the need to add the heavy cream or sour cream at the end as my roux made the chowder plenty thick. I did add a little cheese and green onions to the top. Mmmmmm.

Hope you all are staying warm! Now go make some soup.

Life & Cinnamon Bread

When things get hard, make something beautiful.

2019 started off with unexpected medical diagnoses for my family. When you are facing something that you can’t change or overcome it is hard to process. I decided to take my grief and turn it into creativity. Bread making is definitely not my strength, but an art I look forward to learning more about. The patience involved is often rewarded with a light, airy and intricately crafted treat that can only be achieved with time. Cinnamon wrapped in layers of soft bread was the goal.

I started with a basic dough and let it slowly rise in my garage, which has been much like a refrigerator these days. Once the dough had warmed up a bit on the kitchen counter, my munchkin helped me roll out the soft dough and then cover it with softened butter, cinnamon and sugar. After carefully rolling into a log, we sliced perfect little spirals and then gently placed them into two loaf pans. There were about 3″ of snow outside beckoning an ever adventurous child, so we briefly warmed the oven and let the dough in the loaf pans rise while we played outside.

Once our noses were thoroughly frozen and our bums were wet from snow angels, we baked the bread.  The smell of cinnamon wafting through the house was tantalizing. After the agonizing wait for the bread to cool we finished one loaf with cream cheese frosting.

Rustic, simple, delicious.


Meal Prep Round 1

Slow Cooker Pork, Squash Bread and Brussel Sprouts

Inspired by the book Whole30 Slow Cooker by Melissa Hartwig, two other moms joined me in a day of prepping 4 meals. Each of these we bagged and froze.

The first meal was pork with butternut squash. Everything from the recipe went in a gallon size plastic bag and then into the freezer. I put the contents of the bag into my slow cooker frozen. I cooked it three hours on high and three hours on low, the time will need to be adjusted based on the size of your pork. A meat thermometer is a great tool for gauging the doneness of meat.

  • 2-3 lbs pork shoulder
  • 2 bags frozen, cubed butternut squash
  • 1/3 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup apple cider (or juice)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp dried thyme

Once cooked, I removed the butternut squash from the slow cooker (I used a slotted spoon to leave the liquid). I then used the butternut squash to make “corn” bread.

Butternut Squash Cornbread Recipe

I used the liquid in my slow cooker to make gravy.

Pork Roast Gravy

I also decided to make roasted brussel sprouts (I quarter mine for faster cooking) and tossed them in balsamic vinegar.