Cranberry Pie – With Easy Crust

So it’s been a while. A long while. Life is flying by. The days a very long, yet seem so short. But the Effkens are still alive. So don’t worry.

Things are only busier with Christmas. I love this time of year; but I know few people who don’t love this time of year. Tis the season to turn your oven on to keep the house warm – and maybe bake something while you’re at it. IMG_0352 (2)

I have to share one of my favorite recipes – cranberry pie. I love cranberries for several reasons. First, they are beautiful. Nothing brightens up your kitchen or dinner table like those beautiful deep red berries. I also love them for their tart taste. They are often baked in items that are sweet. I don’t like overly sweet things. In fact, I cut the sugar by half in about every recipe I make. Cranberries offer the perfect balance in sweet desserts. And lastly, I love cranberries because they are nostalgic. We ate cranberry sauce for the holidays when I was growing up, and I’ve always loved them.

So this cranberry pie is delicious – and it’s not too bad for your either. I started baking it years ago for the sheer fact that I didn’t have to roll out the crust. I attempted roll-out crust once 6 years ago and it was a disaster. It ended with a tearful phone call to my mom and a run to the grocery store for refrigerated, pre-made pie crust. One of these days I’ll try again. But the wounds are still raw.

So this pie… it’s from Eat Good 4 Life. I’ve made several of her recipes and they’re all fantastic. This pie is the perfect combo of sweet and tart and it’s SO easy! Also, for those who care – it’s dairy-free.

Cranberry Pie

Crust and topping

2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cups unrefined sugar [I use a little less]
1/2 cup oats
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup coconut oil
1-2 teaspoons cinnamon


12 oz fresh cranberries
4 tablespoons orange juice
1/4 cup unrefined sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon cinnamon


Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a mixing bowl mix the crust and topping ingredients. Reserve one to 1 and 1/2 cups of the mixture and press the remainder on a 9 inch pie plate.

Mix filling ingredients in a bowl and pour over the crust. Top with reserved crumb mixture.

Bake for 50-60 minutes or until top is golden brown. Cool down and serve.



Beet Greens. It’s What’s For Dinner.


My adorable sous-chef

This is our first year with a vegetable garden. Some crops thrived while others did little-to-nothing. Beets, thankfully, thrived. Beets were something I ate often as a child but wasn’t introduced to eating the greens until recently. They are peppery, delicious and good raw or cooked.

With an abundance of beet greens in the house and little of anything else, I pulled together this super simple and healthy dinner. I supposed you could substitute the beets greens for another leafy green if needed.

Happy cooking!


Beet Green Pasta

  • 10 oz pasta, cooked according to the package
  • Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup currants
  • 2-4 garlic cloves (depending on how garlicy you want it)
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced thinly
  • 3 cups beet greens, coarsely chopped
  • Salt
  • Pepper

In a larger skillet add a couple tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Cook red onion for 7-10 minutes. Grate garlic into the skillet, add the salt and pepper to taste and cook for 1 minute. Add currants, cook for another minute. Add beet greens and saute until wilted.

Add pasta to the skillet and mix together. Add a little more olive oil and salt and pepper if desired.

Carrot Cake… for Breakfast?

I mean, who doesn’t love carrot cake? And who doesn’t love cookies? And who doesn’t love to eat cake and cookies for breakfast?? IMG_0095If you answered no to any of these questions, just stop reading.

Actually, I have a confession to make. I got mad one time at Chris for eating cake for breakfast.

I also got mad at Chris because Grace and I started to make these cookies – only to find that he took the entire jar of applesauce for his lunch. Very frustrating. So we finished making them a couple days later after Grace had a major meltdown. I like to bake cookies when I have a meltdown, and it seem so does she.

This recipe is from the blog Oh She Glows and it’s one of my favorite! They are delicious, filling and easy to grab and go. Also, they are SO good you wouldn’t have any idea how healthy they are.

In case you care about such things, they are vegan and absent of processed sugar!

Oh Mega Carrot Cake Breakfast Cookies

Yield: 13 cookies


  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 3/4 cup ground flax
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup regular rolled oats
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1 cup lightly packed shredded carrots (use finest grate)
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup (other liquid sweeteners should work)
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger


1. Preheat the oven to 325F and toast the pecans for 10-11 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the batter. In a large bowl, mix together the flax, flour, oats, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and raisins.

2. Grate the carrots and ginger using the finest grate. In a smaller bowl, melt the coconut oil in the microwave for about 45-60 seconds. You want the oil hot so it doesn’t clump up when adding the cold wet ingredients. Now add in the maple syrup, carrots, applesauce, grated ginger, and vanilla. Stir well.

3. Remove pecans from the oven and add to the dry ingredients. Increase oven temp to 350F. Now add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well. The dough will be very sticky, so not to worry.

4. With a spoon, scoop about 13 cookies onto a lined baking sheet. They don’t spread much so you can put them an inch apart. Bake for 14-15 minutes at 350F and allow to cool on baking sheet.

Nutritional info (Per cookie, makes 13 cookies): 186 kcals, 9 grams fat, 24 grams carbs, 5 grams fibre, 10 grams sugar, 4 grams protein. You also get 620 mg Omega-6 and 31 mg Omega-3 fatty acids per cookie thanks to all the flax!



Chicken Sausage, Sweet Potato and White Bean Soup


My adorable sous-chef

My life’s motto: Ain’t nobody got time for time. I say it at least once a day. Makeup? Ain’t nobody got time for that. Washing the baby poop from under my fingernails? Ain’t no body got time for that. Making dinner? Ain’t no body got time for that.

I used to be a strict recipe follower. I would never deviate from instructions until after I made the recipe at least once to see how I might make it better. Now… I seriously don’t have time to follow a recipe. Instead, I read recipes and use them as a blueprint for making something easy and fast.

This soup was the first thing I made after Grace was born. I couldn’t believe she sat in her seat long enough for me to make it. Granted – by the time it was done she was screaming her head off – but the soup was completed. Here’s the recipe I used as a blueprint. In case you care about such things, the blueprint recipe and my recipe are gluten free and dairy free.

Chicken Sausage, Sweet Potato and White Bean Soup

1 lb. Chicken SausageIMG_0077

Olive Oil

1 Medium Red Onion, diced

1 Medium Sweet potato, diced

2 Cloves of Garlic, minced

3/4 cup Salsa Verde

2 cups Chicken Broth

2 cans Great Northern Beans

Juice from 1/2 a lime


In a large pot or dutch oven, heat some olive oil and cook chicken sausage. When it’s about half way finished add the red onion. Cook until chicken is completely done. Stir in sweet potatoes and garlic. Then add salsa verde, chicken broth and great northern beans. Bring to boil them simmer for about 20 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are done. Remove from heat and stir in the juice of half a lime.

Serve with cilantro sprinkled on top – and avocado, if you’d like!

PS – I promise I will learn to take better food pictures. I bet taking them during the day would help. But ain’t nobody got time for that.

Bacon and Blue Cheese Pies

For years I thought I hated blue cheese. My whole childhood was spent thinking blue cheese was disgusting. I blame my mom for this. She hates blue cheese. (I should note that she also hates beer, but I was not disillusioned by her opinion on that subject.) My dad and my sister love blue cheese – but I just thought that since my mom didn’t like it it couldn’t be good.

This recipe combines three of my favorite things: apples, blue cheese and bacon. Bacon is the reason I could never be a vegetarian – but I’m sure I’ll go into that in a different post. These bacon and blue cheese pies are so easy, fast and delicious, but they taste like you slaved.

After a series of Better Homes and Gardens recipe fails, this one was a winner. I’ve made it a couple times and love it so much I had to share.

Bacon and Blue Cheese PiesIMG_9501

4 slices bacon
1 8 1/2 ounce package corn muffin mix
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup blue cheese crumbles (I use more – because why not?)
1 large Granny Smith apple, cored and thinly sliced
 Fresh Thyme (optional, but highly recommended)

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease two baking sheets or line with parchment paper; set aside. In a skillet cook bacon until crisp. Drain; reserve 2 tablespoons drippings. Chop bacon.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine muffin mix, flour, chili powder, egg, and milk with a fork. Use your hands to knead dough until it comes together. Divide dough into four portions. Place two portions on each prepared baking sheet and press to 6-inch circles using floured hands.
  3. Top each circle with half of the cheese and a layer of apple slices, leaving a 1-inch border. Fold edges around apple slices, using floured hands if necessary. Brush apples and crust with 1 to 2 tablespoons reserved bacon drippings.
  4. Place baking sheets on separate oven racks. Bake for 10 minutes. Top each pie with remaining blue cheese and the bacon; return to separate racks and bake for 5 to 7 minutes more until edges are golden. If desired, sprinkle with thyme.

Two Bean and Kale Soup

I am hungry all the time. This is not an exaggeration. When I wake up to pee 2 times a night – I’m hungry. When I am done with my third morning snack – I’m hungry. So, because I eat all the time I try to eat as healthy as possible when  I am stuffing my face.

This last week I was in NY to visit my family and had a baby shower for little Grace. I ate a ton. And while it wasn’t necessarily unhealthy – it wasn’t my normal, fairly meatless diet. So I am in recovery mode.

This soup is an Effken household favorite. It’s healthy, inexpensive and hearty. Not to mention it has kale. And I LOVE kale. You’ll notice, as I post recipes, that I tend to favor Cooking Light. When you find the right recipe, it’s typically pretty easy and delicious. Anyway, here’s a link to the two bean and kale soup recipe. Enjoy!


Granola Love

Let me preface this post by saying I’m currently obsessed with cereal. If I could have cereal for every meal of the day I would be happy – but would also have some sort of nutritional deficiency. And that’s not good for Baby E. So I eat other things in addition to a daily helping of cereal.

Here’s my problem with cereal… it’s super expensive. Even the crappy sugar cereal is expensive. I especially love granola and THAT is crazy expensive. I have a dear friend who moved out of her parents’ house a few years ago for the first time, and on her first trip to the grocery store living independently she sent me a text to ask for my granola recipe because it was too expensive to buy.

I’ve got several granola recipes that I love. The more “unhealthy” one is found in the Joy the Baker cookbook. It’s a chocolate granola that is SUPER yummy. You’ll have to get the cookbook for that recipe. Another is a gingerbread granola from Cookie + Kate (but I leave out the candied ginger). The recipe I will share is a basic granola recipe. This recipe is from Cooking Light, but with a couple small modifications.





  • 6 cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup orange juice (i just use the juice from 1 orange)
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried apricots


  1. Preheat oven to 300°.
  2. Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Add syrup, honey, juice, and almond extract; toss well. Spread mixture evenly onto a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 300° for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Stir in cranberries and apricots. Cool completely. Store in a zip-top plastic bag or air tight container.


Special Notes:

  • The key to cheap granola is buying in bulk. I go to Sprouts or Whole Foods and purchase from their bulk section.
  • Use a light colored pan, as it will help the granola not burn.
  • Keep a close eye on this the last 15 mins. You might use less time.

You’ll be eating this for weeks, so hope you enjoy it!