Ten Tips for Meal Planning Success

10-tips-for-better-meal-planning2Join me at Modern Parents Messy Kids today for some tips on meal planning. I am definitely not the expert when it comes to putting meal planning into practice, so I really wrote this post for myself. Hopefully you can get some useful tips out of it, too. Happy planning! 🙂


Maple Bacon Donuts (Grain-Free, Gluten-Free, Paleo)



You guys, I bought a donut pan!

I found it at T.J. Maxx for like five bucks, so it basically jumped in my cart and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Now we can have donuts together every day!


I want to know who came up with the maple bacon combo first. I would like to shake that person’s hand. And then give them a hug that lasts too long and gets awkward. Because I love bacon and maple syrup together- it’s the work of a genius.


Maple bacon. Get on the bandwagon, friends!

As most of my treats have been lately, these are grain-free, gluten-free and paleo (as long as you use the appropriate sweeteners). These types of treats are probably supposed to be occasional.. but I ate two of them in one day. Just keepin’ it real for you. They’re good!


Are you guys enjoying the new recipes lately or did you prefer the old ones? I want to keep bringing you recipes that you would actually like to make some time. Can I get a little feedback? Be honest if you don’t like all the paleo stuff, but be kind. 🙂


These pictures keep making me lose my train of thought.. gah, these donuts were good! I love bacon and maple syrup and butter. The end.


5.0 from 4 reviews

Maple Bacon Donuts (Grain-Free, Gluten-Free, Paleo)

Recipe type: Breakfast, Baked Goods, Dessert
Serves: 6

  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup unrefined sugar (I used date sugar, you could try coconut sugar or maple sugar as well.)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon maple extract
  • 2 tablespoons applesauce
  • ½ cup coconut milk or cow’s milk
  • 6 tablespoons grass-fed butter (such as Kerrygold) at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon maple extract
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon (or more if you like)
  • 3-4 pieces of bacon, cooked

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a donut pan with butter or cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the coconut flour, baking soda and unrefined sugar. Make sure there are no lumps (break the lumps up with your fingers if you need to).
  3. In another bowl, whisk eggs, maple syrup, maple extract, applesauce and milk. Add to the coconut flour mixture and mix until thick and smooth.
  4. Spoon the batter into a piping bag and pipe the batter into the donut pan (You can spoon it in, but it will be messy- the piping bag makes it really easy to fill the pan). Bake the donuts for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack.
  5. While the donuts are cooling, make the maple buttercream. In a stand mixer, combine the butter, maple syrup, maple extract and cinnamon until well combined. When the donuts are completely cool, spread on the buttercream and top with bacon. Keep in an airtight container- the donuts are best eaten within a day or two.

Roasted Red Pepper Dip and Valentine’s Day Veggies


Veggies for Valentine’s Day! Let’s make it a thing.

It’s not exactly a box of chocolates, but it’s kid-friendly and pretty adorable. Who can say no to heart-shaped vegetables?


I made up this little tray for a kids’ Valentine’s Day party in under an hour this morning. That includes chopping, arranging the plate and making the dip. And I did it all with kids underfoot or in one of my arms. (Can I get a virtual high five?) Here’s how it went down:

  • Clean and prep all the veggies (I used cherry tomatoes, carrots and red peppers.)
  • To make the heart shaped carrots, peel them, cut a triangle in the top of the carrot and then trim the sides to make it look like a heart. Then chop the whole carrot into smaller hearts.
  • Put a few of each veggie into a muffin cup. (I used two since the pink one was not very sturdy, but you can get away with one. You could also use paper cups.)
  • Make the dip (recipe below).
  • Put the dip into a bowl and top with a tomato heart. (Cut two tomatoes on and angle and stick them together.)
  • Arrange on your plate and store in the fridge until you’re ready to go.


I made my dip with cream cheese, but if you’re dairy-free, you can substitute with a can of white beans. If you don’t eat beans or dairy, well.. I can’t think of a good substitution off the top of my head, so let me know in the comments if you have any ideas.

Whether you go the veggie route or the stuff-your-face-with-chocolate route for Valentine’s Day, I wish you a happy one. I know, I know.. not everyone is on-board with this holiday.  But me, I love an excuse to cut my food into shapes, so celebrate we will in this house. Enjoy the day with the ones you love!

5.0 from 1 reviews

Roasted Red Pepper Dip
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Recipe type: Dip
Serves: 8

  • 1 block full-fat cream cheese or 1 can cannellini/white beans, drained
  • ½ cup chopped roasted red peppers (drained if using jarred peppers)
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon paprika (I prefer smoked paprika)
  • cracked black pepper to taste

  1. In a food processor or mixing bowl with the paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese until smooth (use the food processor if you’re using the beans). Add the peppers and spices and process until smooth.
  2. Store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve.


Pumpkin Streusel Muffins (Paleo, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free)



It’s been a rainy morning here in GA today. Even the clouds know it’s a Monday.

Though it’s pretty sad-looking outside, the rain has not deterred us from having a lovely morning so far. I am still on my happy-husband-high from a weekend away (at Chateau Elan, ooh la la!) and I will ride it as long as it lasts!

Our answer to this dreary weather is muffins. Pumpkin streusel muffins.


I do my fair share of baking, but I am not the main muffin baker of my family- that title goes to my mom. Nana loves a good muffin, particularly if it’s stuffed with nuts/fruit until it’s bursting out of the wrapper. She loves to make a giant batch of her Morning Muffins when we come home to visit and she has a stainless steel bowl for mixing her batters that is bigger than.. well, it’s just huge.

She is probably going to text me as soon as she sees this and ask me to freeze a few for her next visit.

(Hi, Mom! We can make some more while you’re here.)


I went with pumpkin simply because we had some pumpkin puree leftover from pumpkin pancakes a few days ago. I added the streusel because I (have no self-control and) cannot resist that sweet crunch. If I’m going to make muffins, I’m gonna do it up.

The muffins are grain-free, gluten-free, refined-sugar free and paleo. The main ingredients are pumpkin, eggs, coconut flour, and butter/coconut oil. The recipe is pretty easy to pull together and they’d still be yummy without the streusel if you want to save some time.


I had a question on Facebook about alternative flours and I’d like to say a little bit about them in case these new ingredients are freaking you out. I debated for a long time about investing in these new ingredients because 1) they’re expensive in small quantities and 2) I was so used to wheat flour and didn’t want to adapt. I started by transitioning to a gluten-free flour mix first (King Arthur has one you can find easily) and then started experimenting with grain-free flours.

Coconut flour, almond flour and other grain-free/nut flours do not act the same as traditional wheat flour- they do not contain gluten, so they need binders like eggs or flax seed to make successful batters. Recipes using these flours are dense- they don’t rise up the way that wheat flour does, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t tasty. They also have the added benefit of fiber and other nutrients that wheat flour does not. If you are new to baking with these flours, I suggest following your first few recipes closely before you start experimenting with substitutions.

I buy my almond flour from Honeyville and my coconut flour from Tropical Traditions. Both companies have sales and bulk purchasing that you can take advantage of to save some money.


And P.S. That heart-shaped butter is just a coincidence, but consider it a happy Valentine’s-Day-related coincidence. Love you guys!

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins (Paleo, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free)
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Recipe type: Breakfast, Baked Goods
Serves: 12

  • For the streusel:
  • ¼ cup softened butter or coconut oil
  • ¼ cup almond flour
  • 2 tablespoons unrefined sugar of choice
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup nuts, chopped (I used half walnuts and half macadamia nuts. Pecans or almonds would be great, too. If you like chunkier streusel, you don’t have to pre-chop the nuts.)
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut chips or shredded coconut
  • For the muffins:
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup melted coconut oil or butter
  • 6 eggs
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup coconut flour

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a muffin tin or line it with 12 muffin liners.
  2. To make the streusel topping, combine the butter/coconut oil, almond flour, unrefined sugar, sea salt, nuts and coconut in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the ingredients are loosely combined. Set aside.
  3. To make the batter, whisk pumpkin, coconut oil/butter, eggs, maple syrup and vanilla. Add spices, baking soda and coconut flour and whisk until it thickens up.
  4. Spoon the batter into 12 muffin cups. Top with the streusel. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 10-20 minutes. (To make sure the streusel doesn’t get too brown, you can top the muffins with some foil about half way through baking.)


Quick Chocolate Avocado Pudding with Coconut Topping



Raise your hand if you ate pudding cups when you were a kid. (Hand raised.)

Raise your hand if you ate pudding cups when you were in college. (Hand raised- no shame.)

Raise your hand if you still eat pudding cups as an adult? (I wish. Where do I find refined-sugar free, corn syrup-free, soy-free, dairy-free pudding cups?)

No pudding cups for me. So sad.

Unless.. (quick Google/Pinterest search..) chocolate avocado pudding?

My thorough internet research tells me that there’s a let’s-make-dessert-out-of-avocados-and-see-what-happens trend happening and among those desserts is chocolate avocado pudding. Sounds weird. Really, weird. Especially if you’re used to seeing avocado do it’s normal, savory, guac-related thing.


Luckily, I have already warmed up to avocado and chocolate as a pair (remember my Avocado Banana Bread with chocolate chips?). ‘Cause when your belly says “Chocolate Pudding, NOW” at 10PM, you have to (put aside your fears that it will taste like chocolate guacamole and) listen.

The recipe takes less than 10 minutes to prepare and doesn’t need any time chilling, unless you want to. You can eat it straight out of the bowl, you can top it with coconut whip, coconut chips, fresh fruit, nuts- just do what your belly tells you to do.

My belly told me not to share, so if yours says that, too, it’s completely normal.


So long, pudding cups. You’ve been replaced!


5.0 from 2 reviews

Quick Chocolate Avocado Pudding with Coconut Topping
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Grain-free, Gluten-free, Nut-free, Egg-Free, Paleo, Dairy-Free.
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 2

  • 1 ripe avocado (should be soft to the touch so that it will blend easily)
  • ⅓- 1/2 cup good quality cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2-4 tablespoons maple syrup or honey (or a few drops of liquid stevia)
  • 2-4 tablespoons coconut milk or other milk of choice (cow’s, almond, etc)
  • whipped coconut cream, yogurt or whipped cream, for serving
  • shredded coconut, coconut chips, nuts or fresh fruit, for serving

  1. Scoop the flesh of the avocado into a food processor or blender. Process until smooth.
  2. Add ⅓ cup cocoa powder, vanilla, 2 tablespoons of your sweetener and 2 tablespoons of your milk. Process until ingredients are fully mixed. If it’s too runny, add some more cocoa powder. If it’s too thick, add more milk.
  3. Taste it- if it’s too sweet, add some more cocoa powder. If it’s too bitter, add some more of your sweetener.
  4. Serve immediately with your desired toppings or store in the refrigerator.


Welcome to the New Oven Love!


The new Oven Love is finally here, darlings. (!!!!!!!!!!!)

That is a smile of excitement and anticipation (but mostly relief).

Come on in! Have a cookie.


I’m sure you will join me in my relief now that there is no red background. Everyone should be able to read the new blog. (Hallelujah! Miracle of miracles!) I appreciate the concern from all of you and you are the reason that I decided to take the plunge and invest in ovenloveblog.com.

To say that it’s been a labor of love might not be accurate. There has been plenty of labor, but I haven’t always loved it. I am baffled by people who choose to do things like write computer code or sit in front of the computer all day- kudos to all of you. It’s a miracle that I can handle regular blog posting!


So now it’s time to update your RSS feed and your readers and explore the new site! Check out the helpful recipe and special diet tabs, the about me section, the search bar.. my little blog looks so grown up!


I have huge, gigantic thank you for Andrew Sterling Photography for the new photos- check out his work on his blog or on Facebook, especially if you’re in the Atlanta area. He’s a great talent!

Another thank you goes to Heath from MissioTech, Inc.- a dear friend who agreed to help me get the new site up and running and unknowingly agreed to answer all of my silly questions. Email heath@missiotech.com if you’re web-illiterate like me (and even if you’re not). He’s your guy.

Many thanks go to the lovely Shay Bocks for my new header, as well. I love the softer look.

And most importantly, thank you to my wondrous husband. He’s the best and he knows why.

Thanks for coming to visit me in my new little corner of the interwebs!

Rosemary Roasted Fingerlings and Brussel Sprouts


This new blog feels like a giant, open room that I can’t wait to furnish. I am excited to fill this blog with new, fresh recipes.. maybe some old favorites, too.. I am loving it!

This recipe is a little bit old and a little bit new. I’ve always (I mean, since I’ve been a grown adult and learned how to roast vegetables) loved brussel sprouts and potatoes, but adding in fresh herbs takes it up a notch in  sophistication. Luckily, it doesn’t increase the work much. What is it about fresh herbs that seems so fancy?

I’m planning on fashioning a special herb garden for myself this season- I’ll keep you updated on how that goes (or if it goes at all- I’m notorious for not keeping up with plants). My little man is eager to help me- maybe he’ll be the key to keeping things green this year. (Lord knows he loves a watering can.)

Sometimes the easiest recipes are the most satisfying. (Thank goodness!!) What are your favorite ways to use fresh herbs?





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  • 1 small bag brussel sprouts, rinsed and halved
  • 1 small bag fingerling potatoes, rinsed and halved (or quartered)
  • melted butter or olive oil to coat
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • cracked black pepper to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a 9x13inch baking dish, combine brussel sprouts, potatoes and butter or olive oil and toss to coat.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the salt, rosemary, thyme and pepper and crush together with your fingers. Sprinkle over the vegetables and toss again.
  4. Roast for 45 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender and the brussel sprouts are starting to caramelize and turn brown.
  5. Let cool a bit and serve along side your favorite main dish.


The Nap Date (for busy parents)


Today I’m sharing my favorite secret weapon for dating your spouse after you have kids: the nap date! Come see how I put it together in under 30 minutes!

Dark Chocolate Coconut Bites


Let me take you back for a second- imagine it’s Halloween in the early 90s. I’m probably dressed as a black cat (it was my thing). I come home with a pillowcase full of candy and start my sorting ritual with my mom. I would hoard the peanut butter cups and Hershey bars, and I would hand over the Mounds and Almond Joys directly to my mom. Who would want to eat something horrible like coconut?? Not early 90s me, that’s for sure. Wouldn’t get near the stuff.


But now.. coconut and I are BFFs. I couldn’t make it through the day without some coconut oil, coconut butter, coconut chips, you name it. And add some chocolate? I am puddy in your hands.


If you love Mounds or Almond Joy, you’ll be on board with these. Would you be surprised if I said next time I’m going to top them with crumbled bacon? (If you’re surprised, this must be your first time here- so welcome! We eat a lot of chocolate and bacon here.)

Dark Chocolate Coconut Bites
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slightly adapted from Tasty Yummies- http://tasty-yummies.com/2012/03/05/dark-chocolate-coconut-treats-vegan-gluten-free-refined-sugar-free/
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 16

  • 1¼ cup shredded (desiccated) coconut
  • ¼ cup melted coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces dark chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • thick cut coconut, almonds or pecans for garnish

  1. In a medium bowl, mix coconut, coconut oil, honey or maple syrup and vanilla extract. Press into mini muffin tins (should make 12-16 bites). Let cool in the freezer for 30 minutes.
  2. While the coconut cools, melt the dark chocolate and coconut oil. Spoon the chocolate into the molds over top of the coconut mixture. Top with the coconut or nuts and freeze again until firm. Keep frozen. When you’re ready to eat, let cool for a few minutes and then enjoy.


Crispy Prosciutto Snacks (Paleo)

Did you ever make a great discovery in the kitchen, forget all about it, and then rediscover it later on? This happens to me sometimes, since I don’t repeat many recipes, but I still gravitate toward the same flavors and types of food (I’m looking at you, brunch.)
That’s totally what happened to me here. Almost 2 years ago (uh, where did the time go?), I posted up a great brunch recipe for a spinach cheddar strata with crispy ham, raved about the ham and its salty, crispy goodness, and promptly forgot all about it.
Well, welcome to the party, crispy prosciutto! You are crispy ham’s cooler, more sophisticated older brother. A delicious (paleo-friendly) snack that doesn’t take 100 years to make. (You’ve definitely got bacon beat there.) Pair it with some sliced avocado, maybe some melon when it’s in season.. heck, grab some fancy cheese and get crazy.
New favorite!


Crispy Prosciutto Snacks (Paleo)
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Recipe type: Snack

  • a few slices of prosciutto, ham, or other thin-sliced deli meat
  • cracked black pepper, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika or other spice of your choice (optional) *Note- don’t add any more salt- prosciutto is naturally very salty already.*

  1. Preheat your broiler. Add a bit of butter, oil or cooking spray to a baking pan. Line the pan with slices of prosciutto in a single layer and add spices, if using.
  2. Broil the slices for 3-5 minutes, watching them closely so they don’t burn. Let cool and enjoy.