White Chocolate + Macadamia Almond Meal Cookies (Gluten Free!)

White Chocolate + Macadamia Almond Meal Cookies (Gluten Free!) | Sarah J. Hauser #cookies #glutenfree #almond #whitechocolate

It’s been a heavy couple months. Does anyone else feel like that? Then again, the weight of the news, struggles with friends, and the heaviness of our own souls seem all too common. Grief, at least on some level, is always close at hand.

The Christian’s life is to be a thing of truth and also a thing of beauty in the midst of a lost and despairing world.
— Francis Schaeffer

So what’s the point of little things like this? What’s the point of baking cookies or writing on a food blog or sharing ordinary pieces of our lives on the Internet? I’ve wrestled with this often over the years, and I don’t think there’s a simple answer. Sometimes, for me, I do have to set my creative work aside to deal with deeper heartache in front of me. But other times mixing dough and taking photos, moving our hands and tasting what’s sweet...sometimes that’s exactly what we need when the world feels dark.

A few years ago as I wrestled with the purpose of my own work, I came across Francis Schaeffer’s book, Art and the Bible. He asks, “Is the creative part of our life committed to Christ? Christ is the Lord of our whole life and the Christian life should produce not only truth—flaming truth—but also beauty.”

In the midst of grief, heartache, and a dark and despairing world, we have to be people who speak truth—but we also have to proclaim beauty. It’s not about conforming to the world’s standards of beauty but about reflecting the beauty of our Creator God through what we create.

No, it’s not always the time to bake cookies. It’s not always the time to take photographs or play around in the kitchen. But sometimes it is. Sometimes you have to stop and literally taste once again that even in the darkness, God is still good.

White Chocolate + Macadamia Almond Meal Cookies (Gluten Free!) | Sarah J. Hauser #cookies #glutenfree #almond #whitechocolate
White Chocolate + Macadamia Almond Meal Cookies (Gluten Free!) | Sarah J. Hauser #cookies #glutenfree #almond #whitechocolate
White Chocolate + Macadamia Almond Meal Cookies (Gluten Free!) | Sarah J. Hauser #cookies #glutenfree #almond #whitechocolate
White Chocolate + Macadamia Almond Meal Cookies (Gluten Free!) | Sarah J. Hauser #cookies #glutenfree #almond #whitechocolate
White Chocolate + Macadamia Almond Meal Cookies (Gluten Free!) | Sarah J. Hauser #cookies #glutenfree #almond #whitechocolate
White Chocolate + Macadamia Almond Meal Cookies (Gluten Free!) | Sarah J. Hauser #cookies #glutenfree #almond #whitechocolate
White Chocolate + Macadamia Almond Meal Cookies (Gluten Free!) | Sarah J. Hauser #cookies #glutenfree #almond #whitechocolate
White Chocolate + Macadamia Almond Meal Cookies (Gluten Free!) | Sarah J. Hauser #cookies #glutenfree #almond #whitechocolate
White Chocolate + Macadamia Almond Meal Cookies (Gluten Free!) | Sarah J. Hauser #cookies #glutenfree #almond #whitechocolate
White Chocolate + Macadamia Almond Meal Cookies (Gluten Free!) | Sarah J. Hauser #cookies #glutenfree #almond #whitechocolate
White Chocolate + Macadamia Almond Meal Cookies (Gluten Free!) | Sarah J. Hauser #cookies #glutenfree #almond #whitechocolate
White Chocolate + Macadamia Almond Meal Cookies (Gluten Free!) | Sarah J. Hauser #cookies #glutenfree #almond #whitechocolate

Most recipes I’ve come across that use almond flour or almond meal include it as a substitute for a traditional flour. Sara Forte’s “Almond Meal Cookies with Coconut and Cacao Nibs” from The Sprouted Kitchen: A Tastier Take on Whole Foods is one of the first that actually celebrates almond meal. Rather than being disguised as a traditional flour, these cookies embrace the texture and nuttiness of almond meal.

My recipe below uses hers as inspiration, changing up the flavors a bit with ingredients like macadamia nuts and white chocolate.


White Chocolate + Macadamia Almond Meal Cookies (Gluten Free!)
Yields about 12-14 cookies
Adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen

1¼ cups almond meal
½ cup chopped macadamia nuts
⅓ chopped dried cherries (optional)*
¼ cup chopped white chocolate
¼ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
½ teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg
3 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, mix together the almond meal, macadamia nuts, cherries (if using), white chocolate, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg until it’s uniform in color. Whisk in the coconut oil and vanilla extract.

Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix just until combined. Cover and put the bowl in the refrigerator for at least 20-30 minutes.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375. Form the dough into balls, slightly smaller than a golf ball. Set them on a baking sheet about two inches apart. Gently press down the tops to flatten them slightly.

Bake for about 10-13 minutes, or until the edges are slightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool. Serve and enjoy!

*I made one batch with the cherries and one batch without. I honestly couldn’t decide which I preferred. The cherries add quite a bit of sweetness to the cookie, so if you want to tone down the sweetness, leave them out. But if you’ve got a sweet tooth, go ahead and add ‘em!


Easiest Chicken Salad [Two Ways!]

Easiest Chicken Salad [Two Ways!] | Sarah J. Hauser #lunch #weeknightdinner #chickensalad

Years ago when I used to blog on an old site (back in the ancient days of blogging), I spent a lot of time trying to come up with unique, fancy-ish recipes. They were still realistic for that stage of my life, because I didn’t have kids and spent a lot more time in the kitchen creating and experimenting. But so much of that has changed in the last four years. I still want to embrace my love for cooking and make room to create in the kitchen, but the way I do that looks a little more ordinary, a little more realistic, a little more simple.

I used to think that was a bad thing—as if complicated always meant better or if it’d been done before I couldn’t do it, too. Well, sometimes simplicity is a gift, and as it turns out, it’s all been done before. That’s no longer crippling to me but totally freeing. I get to share what I love to eat from my point of view without expecting it to be completely new and original. Believe me, I am fully aware that chicken salad is neither new nor original. All it takes is a quick Google search to find that out.

But this is a recipe we eat all the time, and we love it. So I’m sharing it.

Its simplicity means I can make it off the cuff when I need a last minute brunch, lunch, or even dinner. If you want to get a little creative, try experimenting with other additions like curry powder, apples, walnuts, or basil. Use leftover roasted chicken or freshly baked chicken breasts instead of the canned stuff, and serve it with bread for sandwiches or on top of greens for salad. Or, dig into leftovers the next day with your favorite crackers. Simple. Flexible. Easy.

Scroll down to get the recipe!

What’s your go-to easy lunch or dinner? Let me know in the comments!

P.S. You can get a beautifully designed printable version of this recipe alongside a roundup of brunch ideas for our upcoming Coffee + Crumbs Mother’s Day Brunch! Learn more about that and sign up here.

Easiest Chicken Salad [Two Ways!] | Sarah J. Hauser #lunch #weeknightdinner #chickensalad
Easiest Chicken Salad [Two Ways!] | Sarah J. Hauser #lunch #weeknightdinner #chickensalad
Easiest Chicken Salad [Two Ways!] | Sarah J. Hauser #lunch #weeknightdinner #chickensalad
Easiest Chicken Salad [Two Ways!] | Sarah J. Hauser #lunch #weeknightdinner #chickensalad
Easiest Chicken Salad [Two Ways!] | Sarah J. Hauser #lunch #weeknightdinner #chickensalad
Easiest Chicken Salad [Two Ways!] | Sarah J. Hauser #lunch #weeknightdinner #chickensalad
Easiest Chicken Salad [Two Ways!] | Sarah J. Hauser #lunch #weeknightdinner #chickensalad

Easiest Chicken Salad (Two Ways)
Yields about 6 servings

2 (12.5 ounce) cans of chicken (or about 3 cups of chopped cooked chicken)*
8-10 ounces red grapes, halved (about 1 ½ - 1 ¾ cups when halved)
1 ½ cups chopped celery
¼ cup mayonnaise
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Croissants, Dijon mustard, and arugula (optional for sandwich)
Arugula, diced avocado, and balsamic vinegar (optional for salad)**

If using canned chicken, drain the chicken. In a large bowl, mix together the chicken, grapes, celery, and mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve on a croissant, slice the croissant in half and spread each half with Dijon mustard. Add greens such as arugula and a large spoonful of chicken salad.

For a “chicken salad salad” version, serve a couple spoonfuls over a bed of arugula. Add diced avocado, drizzle with balsamic vinegar, and enjoy!

*Not all canned chicken is created equal. Try to find some without additional flavorings or preservatives. I like using Trader Joe’s Premium Chunk White Chicken in Water.

**This salad version is gluten-free, dairy-free, and Whole30 compliant!


French Toast with Cherry Compote + Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream [plus an essay about being seen and an invite to the C+C Mother's Day Brunch!]

French Toast with Cherry Compote + Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream #breakfast #brunch #frenchtoast

We slide into the diner booth, scooting along the faux leather benches as our server hands us an impossibly large menu. My husband sits next to me and my dad in the seat across from us. Going to a place like this reminds me of my childhood. I grew up in New Jersey where diners are about as common as Starbucks in the Chicago suburbs. There's one on every corner, each with giant, plastic-covered menus showcasing all kinds of omelettes, skillets, French toast, crepes, sandwiches, and anything else you could possibly think to eat for breakfast or lunch.

I scan the menu as we catch up about my husband’s job and my dad’s new house. I try to keep the conversation light, but my heart feels heavy—maybe even a little guilty. Having my dad and stepmom in town is a gift, but over the last week I’ve been so weary that I feel like I’ve missed out on being with them. I take another sip of my coffee and internally lament the fact that my stepmom had to stay home with my kids just so I could have a few minutes of uninterrupted conversation with my dad.

Our plates arrive, and we drizzle on syrup and request refills of coffee. My dad looks at me and asks the question I hoped to avoid. “How are you doing? Really?”

It’s the “really” that gets me. The addition of that little word tells me I can’t get away with a scripted answer. My emotions sit too close to the surface, and any effort to hide them proves futile.

Keep reading and get the recipe at Coffee + Crumbs.

French Toast with Cherry Compote + Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream #breakfast #brunch #frenchtoast
French Toast with Cherry Compote + Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream #breakfast #brunch #frenchtoast
French Toast with Cherry Compote + Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream #breakfast #brunch #frenchtoast
French Toast with Cherry Compote + Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream #breakfast #brunch #frenchtoast
French Toast with Cherry Compote + Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream #breakfast #brunch #frenchtoast
French Toast with Cherry Compote + Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream #breakfast #brunch #frenchtoast
French Toast with Cherry Compote + Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream #breakfast #brunch #frenchtoast
French Toast with Cherry Compote + Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream #breakfast #brunch #frenchtoast
French Toast with Cherry Compote + Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream #breakfast #brunch #frenchtoast

Read the full essay and get the recipe at Coffee + Crumbs.


Orange, Tea Tree + Cocoa Butter Cold Process Soap

Orange, Tea Tree + Cocoa Butter Cold Process Soap | Sarah J. Hauser

I’m switching gears for a minute and bringing you a recipe for cold process soap! I set this hobby aside while focusing more on food and writing (and chasing my kids around), but I’ve been wanting to get back into it. I’ve been using store-bought soap lately, and to be honest, it does not compare to the good, homemade stuff. I also feel like I’ve been in a creative rut with food and writing, and my temptation is often to forgo creating altogether. When I do that, though, I find I get “creatively stale.” I don’t know if that’s a real phrase, but I’m going to go with it.

To avoid getting stale, I have to switch to a different creative outlet—play music instead of write recipes, read fiction in between theology books, or in this case, make soap instead of food. It keeps me doing what I love—creating—but it gives my brain a break from the norm.

The beauty of soap-making is that you can make one batch, set your supplies in the closet for a few months, and return to it whenever you can. And most of the recipes I write yield 16 four-ounce bars, so you’re stocked for awhile (or you can use them for gifting!).

Soap-making is sort of like baking. There’s a chemistry to it, and you have to play by the rules in order for it to work. But within those rules, there’s so much creativity that can happen. I love experimenting with different base oils, using a variety of essential oils, or mixing in additives like vanilla. This recipe includes only the basic ingredients and not full instructions, so if you’re new to soap-making, be sure to read more about the full process here.

Orange, Tea Tree + Cocoa Butter Cold Process Soap | Sarah J. Hauser
Orange, Tea Tree + Cocoa Butter Cold Process Soap | Sarah J. Hauser
Orange, Tea Tree + Cocoa Butter Cold Process Soap | Sarah J. Hauser
Orange, Tea Tree + Cocoa Butter Cold Process Soap | Sarah J. Hauser

Orange, Tea Tree + Cocoa Butter Cold Process Soap
Makes about 16 (4-ounce) bars of soap

This recipe is bright and refreshing. I used a mix of orange essential oil and tea tree oil, and the base oils include cocoa butter, making the soap feel extra luxurious. If you are new to soap-making, visit this post for more info.

Base Oils
16 ounces olive oil
12 ounces coconut oil
6 ounces cocoa butter
6 ounces avocado oil
3 ounces jojoba oil

Lye Solution
12 ounces water
5.75 ounces lye

Additives
Add 1.25 ounces of tea tree oil and 2 ounces of orange essential oil before the mixture reaches trace.*

Remember to let your soaps cure for 4-6 weeks before using or gifting!

*The scent may seem strong at first, but it will mellow as it cures.