Monday, November 24, 2014

My Favorite Drinking Chocolate

You may have seen this bad boy on my Instagram not too long ago.  It's a nice simple recipe for my absolute favorite hot chocolate! When I was younger, I discovered Angelina Hot Chocolate, which comes from the Angelina Cafe in Paris.  It is in pellet form in the bag and melts down with just a bit of milk or water to create this thick, nutty, decadents hot chocolate.  It is truly what you'd imagine when someone says "drinking chocolate." It has become difficult since that experience to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate in its watery powdery state.  As I'm sure you can imagine.

And so I have found the best thing to do it make it myself.  This is a Lia-fied version of my favorite childhood drink.

Lia's Favorite Drinking Chocolate

  • 1 Round of Taza Stone Ground Chocolate Ginger
  • 2 Cups Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Can Coconut Milk (full fat)
  • 1 Tbs Coconut Sugar

  1. Pour Almond Milk into a small pot and heat on medium flame
  2. Grate the Taza chocolate and whisk to incorporate throughout the grating process
  3. Add the vanilla and ONLY the cream on the top of the coconut milk can.  The key is to not shake the can and spoon out the cream.
  4. Whisk in the sugar and allow to simmer until it has a thick creamy consistency
  5. Serve in a small mug or shot glass with a sprinkle of cinnamon

Friday, November 21, 2014

Gluten Free Plum Cake with Cardamom Glaze

Hello Again!

I've had a fun morning baking, successfully, some tasty coffee cake.  I say successfully because I made an apple crumb cake that some would call an utter failure, others would call an apple pudding cake due to its pudding like consistency.  Welp, here is the much more texturally appropriate coffee cake.

Feel free to sub any fruit on top.  Just be aware if you use a very wet fruit, it will change the rise in the top of your cake.

Gluten Free Plum Cake with Cardamom Glaze
Adapted from Katie's Good Life Eats recipe

Ingredients for the Cake

  • 4 small/medium Plums
  • 1 1/4 cup Hazelnut Flour
  • 1/4 cup Teff Flour
  • 1/4 cup All Purpose GF Flour
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 Tbs Cinnamon
  • 1/8 cup Organic Cane Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Blackstrap Molasses
  • 1/4 cup Melted Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 cup Unsweetened or Homemade Almond Milk
  • 1/4 cup Unfiltered Apple Cider
  • 2 Pasture Raised Chicken Eggs
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract or the Scrapings of 1/2 Vanilla Bean

Ingredients for the Glaze

  • 1 tsp Ground Coriander
  • 1/4 cup Organic Powder Sugar
  • 1 Tbs Unsweetened Almond Milk


  1. Preheat oven to 325F
  2. Grease a shallow baking pan (8x8) with butter or coconut oil and set aside.
  3. Mix all dry ingredients together until evenly combined
  4. In a separate container, whisk together the liquid ingredients
  5. Add the wet to the dry until evenly mixed and pour into greased baking dish
  6. Scatter the chopped plums over top and bake for 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean from the center.
  7. Allow to THOROUGHLY cool before removing from pan - it should come out easily
  8. As the cake cools, whisk together the powder sugar and cardamom adding the almond milk slowly until a thick but pourable texture is reached.  Add more almond milk if necessary
  9. Drizzle glaze over top and enjoy with some tea!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Gluten Free Apple Cranberry Muffins

First I wanted to say a big thank you for the many messages on and off the blog regarding my last post.  It was a pretty exposing one, and I appreciate the support so so much.  You guys are strong loving people and you make my days that much brighter!  Thank again for your love.
I've been back in the kitchen finally playing with recipes and have found myself on a bit of a baking spree.  A friend of my roommate donated a HUGE laundry bin full of baking stuff, so I have been unofficially put in charge of feeding everyone with delicious baked things.  We also had a whole bunch of apples and so many cranberries from the local produce share that we organize each week.  We work with local farmers and put together awesome produce and fruit shares for people in Chicago to order and collect every Saturday.

And so I bring to you these Gluten Free Apple Cranberry Muffins!  They are moist, just sweet enough, hearty, and have a lovely crunch from the chopped pecans!  Enjoy!

Gluten Free Apple Cranberry Muffins
Makes 12


  • 1.5 cups Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten Free Flour (or blend of choice)
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/3 cup melted grass-fed butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 pasture raised chicken eggs
  • 4 Tbs apple cider or to consistency
  • 1 cup finely chopped apples (choose a sweeter variety like honey crisp)
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup halved fresh cranberries


  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Butter muffin tins
  3. In a large bowl mix all dry ingredients until uniform
  4. Add all wet ingredients excluding apples, cranberries, and pecans
  5. Mix thoroughly adding in the apples, cranberries, and pecans until evenly distributed throughout batter
  6. Spoon batter into greased muffin tins to about 3/4 full
  7. Bake for 25 minutes
  8. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before removing from tins or just go for it if your mouth needs to taste the hot goodness right away.
  9. Serve with butter and jam!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Fall and Shedding

Hello World!!

This is a total bounce off post from Carla Birnberg's post.  She really got me thinking and, as happens so often with her blurbs, when I start to think of a comment to leave it turns into something much bigger and grander.  Something that often turns into a blog post of my own.  I've been having a rough month or 2 or 3 as some of you know, and I wanted a way to talk about it and also move forward from it. Carla did just that for me.  Thanks, you're the best!

The end of summer/beginning of autumn brought with it a lot of change and chaos.  My boyfriend at the time, who I was living with and had been trying to break up with all summer, gave me an unintentional black eye, we broke up, I quit my jobs, packed up our apartment, moved back home with my parents in CT, cried a lot, ate a lot of chocolate, lost weight, gained weight, started talking to a psychologist, which I highly recommend, was told I have mild PTSD and am dealing with flashbacks, a friend from Camp died unexpectedly as I was moving back to Chicago, moved back to Chicago after rerouting North to attend his service, and now I'm here and the leaves are almost all gone.

I feel like the trees in a lot of ways, stripped bare of my former glory, little to no protection.  I cry easily and am often seen jumping from the smallest noises or movements.  But I also feel like those trees in a different way, like I am shedding that which does not serve me anymore.

After my tumultuous last few months, it is a relief to feel the season shifting. The letting go of the old, that which once gave us life and energy but has become a burden, and embracing the sterility, the clean slate, provided by the winter.  Thus, providing the idea, the symbol, of being able to grow something fresh and new and more beautiful this next time around.  I can look back and ask "why?" and see the answers better. The air is clearer in the cold, and it's easier to look back and understand the whys and hows.

My good friend Laura and I were talking about how Fall is a time of death.  It is when life returns to the earth after the warmth and security of summer to avoid the stifling coldness of winter.  It is a time when animals, and many people, migrate south, migrate away.  Leave.  And those of us who are left are a little more bare and, at the end of winter, a little worse for wear.  But, with that bareness and loneliness we have the opportunity to decide how to grow internally, as winter is iconically an internal season.  For me, I am shedding my fears this autumn. I have faced many of them and am learning to let them go now. I am learning to be increasingly true to myself without hesitation.

The man who died, his name is Abe or Ryan depending how you knew him, was so unabashedly and COMPLETELY unapologetically himself in every way it's mind boggling, but I respect him so much for that and can actively learn from the example he set.  I only saw a snibbit of his living life, but have seen so much more of it since he passed because of all the stories people have shared.  He is a legend, and an example to strive toward.  He has been a slap in the face for me to stop being afraid to really live my life and an incentive to really show my love for the people I care for.

I can feel my roots digging deeper into the ground, stabilizing me in a way only a rough year can, and when my leaves are ready to bloom again, though it will take a while, they will be grander, greener, and more glorious than before.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

There is No Day One

The Realities of Change

Today is not the first day of anything.  It is the next day of my life.  It is a continuation of a path toward a life I want to live, toward a Lia that I want to be.  And yet is it?  If I'm bumming around, as I've been bumming around for the last week, wondering what to do with myself, then is it a day that brings me toward a Lia that I want to be?  Why am I not that Lia right now?  I am, in fact, that Lia.  I am a yoga practicing, psychology reading, backpacking, life loving, cautiously risk-taking, Lia.  And so are you.  Well, any variety of adjectives and action words that you choose.  And you know what makes you that version of yourself right now?  By doing those things right now.  If you want to be a yogi, go practice yoga. If you want to be healthy, you can actually make a small change today.  If you want to quit smoking, you can have one less cigarette.  But why would you?

We forget that we are truly and absolutely only accountable to ourselves.  It is no one's fault for your lack of activity or lack of initiative on your dreams.  It's your own fault and it is your fault for your steps toward who you want to be.  It is your responsibility to take care of you.  Nobody else's, and in case you hadn't figured it out yet, society is NOT going to take care of you.  You are accountable to what makes you happy.  So what makes you happy?  And how can you hold yourself accountable? I've found, for example, that saying I'm going to do something on my blog does NOT make me feel accountable.  Sorry guys, but I just have never really felt compelled to do things because other people expect me to (except my family).  BUT when I write out an accountability checklist that I tick off at the end of everyday, knowing that if I check all those items off I'll feel accomplished and fulfilled with my day, I am accountable and I follow through.  I actually do those things consistently and then guess what?  I'm being the Lia I want to be.  Because, the fact remains, she has always been here.  SO find your method of accountability.  Hold yourself accountable.  You're not working toward a future version of yourself because that version is already here.

I write this in leu of the many changes in my life.  The reality of changing everything is not pretty. It's not easy, but it has led me to some amazing places and lessons.  The blessing here, for me, is that I essentially wiped the slate clean.  I'm single, jobless, and without a binding living arrangement.  This means that I can properly start over.  Most people I know dream about this opportunity.  And so, I've decided to do what I believe in and use my happiness, that true internal glow, as my compass in making my future decisions.  I spent a good 2 months wallowing and moping about.  My excitement for life has been seriously wavering and is still nowhere near where it was.  My energy levels have been steady but low, and I just haven't been caring all that much about all that much.  It will take a while for me to get excited about love again, and about so many other things, but I know I'll balance out.  Everything is temporary, including this, BUT it is time to hold myself accountable for being the Lia I already am.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Midwest Moments

Thank you all so much for your amazing feedback from my last post. It really meant so much to me to receive your comments, emails, and fbook messages. Reminds me that I'm doing something right! I've been back in the Midwest for 3 weeks and have various pictures to portray my time. I'm posting this from my phone on the tail end of my 2nd 8hr Megabus journey, so pardon any layout issues. Enjoy my visual adventures!

Amazing times at Stone House Farm in Paw Paw, IL cooking with some of my favorite people for yogis and music fans!
Friends and puppies in Chicago!
Taught lots of private cooking classes and made some amazing dishes!
Lots of time spent with the Edible Alchemy crew at their home in Pilsen with their cat. Got to fashion show a few dresses so I would have something to wear to a wedding I got to be a date to last minute in Lansing, MI. I wish I had more pictures, but my dress modeling will have to represent the whole experience. I got to pet pigs and scratch donkeys. Lots of fun. Ate the best donuts of my life at Fork in the Road. Went to the Camp Warren reunion and met people from my past who I love dearly and forever. And finally spent a total of 25 hrs on Megabus in 5 days.

A few more days here then back east! 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Homeless and Happy

Hello Friends and Family!

It's been a while I know.  It's also been exceptionally interesting and somewhat dramatic.  I'm a story teller, so I will be telling my stories on here.  Some people don't approve of my candidness at times, but it is a huge part of who I am.  So, my story.  It may ramble, and it may be a bit longer than usual, read as you like.  Let's start where we left off.

I did complete that Flirty in 30 challenge and my after pictures show some nice results.  Considering my traveling and not super strict diet.  I ate well, but certainly enjoyed a few farmer's market treats every week.  I was really happy with the whole month though simply because I love dancing and weight lifting.  It was great.  I even LOVED that feeling of working hard and knocking out at the end of the day.  3 hours of classes will do that.  I'd have loved to continue at Flirty Girl.  I did get a free month and a bunch of other awesome gifts for being one of the first 30 people to complete the challenge, but then my life got a tad dramatic.

I'm not usually one to share the dramatics of my personal life publicly, but this time around it became very appropriate.  As you know, I gave a past relationship another chance, but as my private cooking client so aptly said "Sometimes giving someone a second chance is like giving them an extra bullet for their gun when they missed you the first time."  This was like the 4th chance or something.  You'd think I would have learned.  I've been asked about my sudden departure from Chicago by many so I thought having it in one place would be convenient.

This is almost 2 weeks after I got my first proper, sealed shut black eye, couldn't work or see dimensions. My poor mom doesn't need to see the full thing again.  Let's just say it was a nasty black eye.  Now, my ex-boyfriend wasn't aiming for my face he was aiming for someone else's face and I tried to stop him from beating up someone who had nothing to do with me or with my ex.  Poor guy, just happened to be in front of my ex's face at the wrong time.  Long story short, I got a black eye, poor random coworker got a mouth full of blood and a concussion.

Domestic violence and abuse are not just about angry couple screaming at each other and hitting each other or one hitting the other.  If one party is destructive and constantly puts the other at risk for injury or death, aka indirectly causes injury to the other, it is violence and abusive.  There really is no excuse, even though I gave so many throughout, I'm never going to be okay with abusive behavior again.  Understanding, ok, but staying with, not so much. Guilting is the easiest form of manipulation that people learn as children and can use to their advantage as adults.  After this whole debacle for example, my ex blamed me for pouring his drinks too strong, for not paying him enough attention at this goodbye party (one of my work friends was leaving.  We were saying goodbye), for not being there for him when I should have been (if I had known there was any issue or tension or drama, I totally would have been).  That night was actually an amazing night with friends and coworkers. We were all very happy and relaxed.  One person was not, and he needed to make sure everyone else got on the same page as him.  Angry, insecure, and destructive.

So my amazing dad flew out here, helped me pack everything up, shipped it out to CT where him and my mom live, and basically keep me company so I didn't curl up in a ball for days on end.  I couldn't work at the restaurant, so I just told them not to schedule me anymore since I had to leave Chicago.  I got out of my lease easily because of domestic violence laws, and now I'm free as a bird.  My ex lost his job, his apartment, and his girlfriend all in one fell swoop.  I hope he learns, but considering things, he is very good at repeating his old patterns. I hope he learns anyway.

I'm not really homeless obviously.  I'm loving my life right now.  I'm happier than I've been in about a year.  Life is beautiful again and I'm excited about everything.  I'm looking forward to my days and evenings, to the people I choose to associate with, and the work I'm doing.  I'm really glad that all of this happened.  I got rid of all of my main stressors in one move.

I spent a week with my parents to stay away from the ex because I honestly did not trust myself not to see him or want to hold him again.  It's twisted, but it also makes sense in a way.  Psychology stuff.  I knew I needed to block communication and get far away, and that's what I did.  It worked well enough.  The safety and security of my family was a privileged treat.

I had an event just outside of Chicago that I had been working on with my friends at Edible Alchemy so I returned to Chicago after my wallow week at home. I spent a week in nature cooking and working with food.  I met amazing people who are full of positivity and honesty, and it was the perfect therapy for me.  I was able to really start processing and working through what had just happened.  How I had let a person like him into my life, kept him there, and even shared a home with him.  In the end you question yourself.  Where was my rational mind when I needed it?  Why did I keep giving him chances?  What did I believe about the relationship?  Never be with someone for who they want to be.  Be with them for who they are.  Even if they beg you.  Especially if they beg you actually.  I'm glad I'm out, and hopefully I won't fool myself like that again.

So now what?  I have no idea, and I love it.  Before, when I was stressed all the time, sad, not myself, I was craving stability and a clear path for work.  Now, I'm so happy to have no bills, no debt, lots of friends willing to help me and I help them, some potentially great opportunities for work this coming year, and for adventures out west next summer. I'm not worried about much these days, and that feels great.  I have my own schedule, a very modest lifestyle, but so satisfying.  I'm in no rush to enter the system of work eat sleep consume, follow expectations of society.  Just not in the mood for that right now.  And it feels GOOOOOOOOOOD!