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Sarah Lawrence

Apple Walnut Muffins (gluten-dairy-egg free)

Apple season is upon us and the bushel of apples on my kitchen counter are calling to me to use them!  These apples are so beautiful that you can shine them up on your pant leg and sink your teeth right in for an oh-so-sweet-crisp-tangy-amazing bite and be at one with the apple bliss.  That's a given.  But, so are these... Cinnamon apples, apple chips, apple slices, apple granola, apple smoothies, apple sorbet, apple butter, apple pie, apple cake.... and, ah, apple muffins! I make mini muffins more than full size muffins not only because they're cuter, but because they are easier to pack in lunch boxes, easier to freeze and just the right size to have with a cup of tea.  Check out the alternative fruit and nut combinations and have fun making muffins with or for your loved ones!  Know that you're getting whole grains and healthy fats in these little gems. Apple Walnut Muffins [caption id="attachment_478" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Apple Walnut Mini Muffins"]Apple Walnut Mini Muffins[/caption] (yield 24 mini or 12 regular muffins) Flour blend: ½ cup sorghum flour ½ cup quinoa or millet flour ½ cup amaranth flour ½ cup arrowroot flour 1 tsp xanthan gum ½ tsp salt 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp baking powder 1 tsp gluten free vanilla powder (or add 2 tsp gluten free vanilla liquid extract to the liquid mix) Liquid blend: ½ cup rice syrup or 3 medool dates, softened in ½ cup water and blended until smooth or ½ cup maple syrup 1 Tbsp chia seed ¼ cup hot water ¼ cup coconut oil 1 ripe banana, mashed 1 tsp apple cider vinegar Fruit/nut mix*: 1 ½ cups apple, small diced ¾ cup walnuts, chopped *other fruit/nut combos to try are pear/almond, banana/pecan, peach/cashew.  Substitute these fruits for the apple at the 1 ½ cup portion, however, for great results make sure to choose very firm, almost under-ripe fruits since these are all juicier or more liquid forming than apples.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Line the muffin pan of your choice with paper liners.
  • Combine the flour blend in a mixing bowl.
  • Combine the chia and hot water in a small bowl and set aside until the chia absorbs the water.
  • Combine the chia gel with the remaining ingredients for the liquid blend in another mixing bowl.  Make sure that the banana is very well washed and everything is quite a smooth liquid.   If you aren’t partial to the nubby bite that chia adds to baked goods, you can blend the liquid mixture in a Vitamix or other blender until the chia is smooth.
  • Pour the liquid blend into the flour and stir well to combine.  Fold in the diced apples and nuts.
  • Scoop tablespoon size portions into mini muffin cups or ¼ cup portions into regular muffin cups. 
  • Bake the mini’s for 12 minutes or until golden; bake regular muffins for 18-20 minutes.
  • Check the done-ness of one muffin by inserting a wooden tooth pick into the center and pulling it out.  If there is a goo on the stick, you need to bake for a few minutes longer.
  • Remove the muffins from the oven and transfer them from the tin to a cooling rack.  Gluten free baked goods have a tendency to be more moist than glutenous baked goods, so allowing these muffins to cool and get great air flow underneath the papers will help ensure bottoms that aren’t soggy.
  • Serve or freeze (freeze on a baking sheet and then transfer the frozen muffins to a zip lock or freezer safe container).


Sloppy Joes

[caption id="attachment_283" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Lentil Sloppy Joe with Vegan Cheese and Steamed Broccoli"]Lentil Sloppy Joe[/caption] I have fond memories of the sweet and tangy sloppy joe sauce that my dad made.  It was the stuff of finger licking legend.  Though I don't make my sloppy joes with ground meat, I love the hearty bite that the lentils give and the earthy balance of the portobello mushrooms.  Not to brag, but I think my sloppy joe sauce is good enough to earn a place in my children's culinary memory and in your recipe file.  Only time will tell!  But if clean plates and requests for seconds are any indication, I think I'm on the right track! The real key to incredible flavor for this meal is the smoked paprika... click on it in the ingredients list and you can order it from Penzey's if you don't have it in your cabinet. Enjoy! Lentil Sloppy Joes This multi step process is worth the effort.  You’ll be spending about an hour in the kitchen to get this done, but the batch is HUGE and makes plenty of leftovers that you can package up and bump into the freezer for a meal next week and the week after! Using you food processor or mad knife skills, mince the following: 1 large onion, minced 2 cloves garlic, minced 4 carrots, minced 4 celery stalks, minced 10 oz Portobello mushrooms, minced Add the minced veggies to a large stockpot in which you’ve warmed a tsp of olive oil.  Stir the veg while they brown and soften, about 10 minutes.  They will become super fragrant. Add: 2 cups lentils * 6-8 cups water *(I usually use brown or green lentils, but you can use red lentils too.  Reduce your liquid by a cup if you use red lentils.  They cook faster, so watch your time too!) Stir the pot and simmer for 40 minutes until the lentils are till tender and the liquid is absorbed.  (If your liquid is not absorbed after 40 minutes try the quinoa/millet add in noted in the next step.)  Stir in: 1 cup uncooked millet or quinoa (optional, adds nutritional value & helps if your lentils are liquidy!) 7 oz jar organic tomato paste 1 cup tomato sauce 1 cup ketchup (or a 2nd cup of tomato sauce) 1 Tbsp chipotle chili powder 1 Tbsp oregano 3 Tbsp smoked paprika (This is the key to fabulous flavor!!!) 1 Tbsp cumin 1 Tbsp cinnamon 2 Tbsp prepared mustard (I used a grainy mustard that has a nice vinegar kick) 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar Sweeten: 4 medool dates, pitted OR 1 Tbsp brown sugar (I prefer my sugars to be from whole foods, but if you don’t have dates then brown sugar will do) If you've added the quinoa or millet your pot will need about 10 -15 minutes more to simmer while those seeds absorb their liquids.  If you're not using the seeds just proceed.  Remove 1 cup and blend it in the food processor with the 4 pitted dates until smooth.  Add back into the pot and stir to combine. Serve your sloppy lentil ragout on a roll of your choice or just on a plate with a side of steamed broccoli and some fresh greens. [caption id="attachment_284" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Lentil Sloppy Joes without the bun are an easy Gluten Free Vegan meal!"]Lentil Sloppy Joes without the bun[/caption] Leftovers are even better.  You can also take half of your leftovers and season them with more chipotle chile and some diced tomato to make a good taco filling.  Top with fresh guac, crisp lettuce and sliced peppers and you’re on your way to another easy meal. ***Check out Lentil Sloppy Joes v2 by clicking here!


Luscious Lemon Bars (feel free to eat the whole pan because you can!)

Today is a day that you are going to be glad you're reading my blog.  Yes-sir-ee!  Good day in the kitchen!  The Meyer Lemons in my fridge have been begging me to use them, so I went for the lemon bar.  Having tried a sweet lemon bar recipe a while back from Isa C. (who is a phenom in the vegan kitch world), I had a plan.  I am also pretty particular with my sweets.  I don't like anything too sweet... so there's that!  I like my lemon bars lemony rather than super sweet and I need a base that's gluten free... it's a bit of a departure from a normal lemon bar recipe!  I need something worthy of a cuppa tea.   Right, the result of my crust experiment is nothing short of buttery, amazingly flaky shortbread that you totally should write home to mom about.  Actually, I suggest you make a batch and bring some to mom and have an afternoon of tea and biscuits!  If she's not close, mail them!  If she's no longer with us, grab your bestie and share!  So much potential for this shortbread biscuit crust.  I can't wait to experiment with it and share more ideas with you! The lemon layer is akin to jelled lemon curd.  Getting the right level of jell is the tricky part.  You don't want something that's wiggly like unset jello, but you don't want something with no give at all.  Enter agar agar and arrowroot!  These guys are like a dream team when it comes to vegan jelling.  If you haven't worked with agar agar before, know that it's a great thing.  It has jelling properties that rival gelatin but it's seaweed based rather than animal based.  Eden Foods brand of agar agar is what I use.  [caption id="attachment_271" align="alignright" width="300" caption="GFV Lemon Bars"]GFV Lemon Bars[/caption]    GFV Lemon Bars Crust 1 cup amaranth flour 1 cup almond meal ½ cup powdered sugar ½ cup arrowroot powder 1 cup vegan margarine, like Earth Balance
 Filling 1 1/3 cups water 3 Tbsp agar agar flakes 1/3 cup sugar + 4 packets stevia or 2/3 cup sugar 1/8 teaspoon turmeric (gives the brilliant yellow color while not adding any flavor) 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice (I used meyer lemons ~ yum!) 3 Tbsp arrowroot powder 1 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest (from two large ORGANIC lemons)* OR 1 tsp lemon extract if your lemons are not organic 1/2 cup almond milk 
 *I only zest my citrus if I can find organic because of the high level of pesticide use on non organic citrus fruits.  Do what makes you comfortable. Preheat your oven to 400 F. Lightly grease a 13 x 9 inch baking pan. [caption id="attachment_275" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="the flours"]the flours[/caption] 
 To prepare the crust: Pulse the flours, sugar, arrowroot and Earth Balance in your food processor. The dough is not crumbly, it is moist but not pourable.  You will need to scoop the dough out of the food processor and scrape the sides to get it all out!  Moisten your hands and press the dough into the corners of your prepared baking dish.  Then try to get an even layer that covers the bottom of the pan.  Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool. [caption id="attachment_272" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="shortbread crust dough"]shortbread crust dough[/caption] [caption id="attachment_273" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="dough in the pan"]dough in the pan[/caption] 
 [caption id="attachment_274" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="golden crust"]golden crust[/caption] To prepare the luscious lemon filling: Start by soaking your agar agar flakes in the water for 10 minutes. I sprinkle mine over the top of the water and walk away.  Get your lemons zested and juiced.  Measure out 2/3 cup of the fresh lemon juice and mix your arrowroot powder until it dissolves.
 When the agar has been soaking for 10 minutes go ahead and put the pot on the burner.  We are looking to boil this mixture so the softened agar dissolves.  This usually takes me 10, sometimes 15 minutes.   When the agar is dissolved, add the turmeric and your sugar/stevia or whatever combo you’ve chosen to use.  Stir this wildly yellow mixture until everything is dissolved and there are no lumps.   Now it’s time to lower the heat so we’re just barely bubbling... anything more than a light bubble and we’re going to end up with a mess!   Add the arrowroot/lemon juice mixture and whisk.  Raise the heat a hair and keep whisking.  You will feel the mixture start to thicken as it comes to a low boil. Again, AND I STRESS, we are not aiming for a bubbling cauldron here!  Do that and the arrowroot will lose its gelling power.  Exercise a little restraint with the heat… go slow and your labor will pay off!  Otherwise, you will have a super tasty lemon sauce that you can drizzle over berries and such, but you won’t have anything that will thicken worth a dime!  Okay.  Back to business:  Add your zest or lemon extract and the almond milk. Whisk these into the thickened mixture.  You may want to taste this now.  The safe way to do it is to get a clean spoon and dip it into the hot lemon liquid, then take it out, blow on it for a moment and then swipe your finger over the spoon… then lick your finger.  You should have cooled your sample enough that you won’t burn yourself.  If you need to adjust the sweetness, go ahead.  You know your tastes.  I like my lemon bars lemony with a bit of a kick.
 Remove your pan with the cooked lemon mixture from the burner.  It’s time to cool this a bit.  Give it about 10-15 minutes to come to room temperature.  Cooling happens quicker when we’re not near the residual heat of the stove.  I put mine on a metal trivet on the counter in the coolest part of my kitchen. Pour the cooled lemon mixture over the cooled crust, refrigerate.  We’re aiming for 2 hours of chill time minimum to ensure that the filling sets.  If you can leave it for a bit longer that will be better.  Also, if you used a smaller baking dish than 9 x 13 you will have to chill longer to accommodate the thicker lemon layer. [caption id="attachment_276" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="lemon layer"]lemon layer[/caption] If you want to make the tops of these bars look fancy you can sprinkle powdered sugar over top through a fine mesh strainer.  You just tip in about 3 Tbsp of powdered sugar and then tap the side of the sifter to get a snow like dusting.  Not necessary by any stretch, but it sure does look pretty! You’ve done well and are in the home stretch… it’s time to slice the bars into squares and serve them.  Size is your choice.  Sometimes I go the dainty one bite square root.  Today I am slicing tea worthy bars.  You should make them the size that makes you smile.   (Heck, if you just took a fork to the pan and scooped out a bite I won’t tell!) [caption id="attachment_277" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Luscious lemon goodness!"]Luscious lemon goodness![/caption]


Spicy love

Wow, February has been busy in my house!  It's Valentine's Day already... can you believe that?!  Yikes!  Well, Valentines day seems to me to be about sweet treats and indulgence and expressing love with fun foods.  My kids are certainly not strangers to treats, but we definitely don't do refined sugar in the way that we used to.  Today I made cinnamon rolls my way and loved them! A couple things make my cinnamon rolls different from the massive cinnabon style buns.  First, my guys aren't sickly sweet.  They are citrus spiced and subtly sweetened with dates.  Oranges, whole, juicy oranges provide the liquid mass for this dough.  It's whole food goodness with no milk or oil fillers and fat to cloud the flavor of the ingredients.  The gluten free flours tend to lend an earthier quality than white wheat flour, but teff, sorghum and amaranth are among the earthier alternative flours out there.  These are not rolls that will leave you feeling gluttonous, rather, these are treats that are meant to be enjoyed as a component of a healthy breakfast... not as breakfast alone.  I'm talking about having one cinnamon roll alongside a fruit salad and a cup of tea.  The rolls are balanced... and that may be why I love them. Here are two variations on the same basic roll.  I've made this recipe with a few different flour combinations to show you how you can change things up to suit your taste and also to work with what's in your pantry.  The first is a roll roll, and is great with a meal or with a cup of tea.  The second is the cinnamon roll.  It is versatile and lightly sweet and also makes a great biscuit/cookie!
[caption id="attachment_238" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Spiced Orange Rolls"]Spiced Orange Rolls[/caption]   Spiced Orange Rolls Ingredients 1 Tbsp Yeast 3 cups Sorghum flour ¾  cup Teff flour ¼ cup Tapioca flour 2 Tbsp chai spice or 2 tsp Cardamom, ground 12-oz orange puree (from about 3 oranges) 1 tsp. Lecithin 4 dates, pitted ½ cup Water (use if needed to get a moist but not sticky dough) ½  cup Raisins Preheat oven to 345 degrees.  Put oranges and dates into the food processor and process until smooth.  [caption id="attachment_239" align="alignright" width="300" caption="orange and date blend"]orange and date blend[/caption] You’ll have a pulpy juice mixture and the dates should be well incorporated.  Keeping your raisins aside, add the remaining ingredients and pulse until a dough forms.  Add a bit of water as you go if your dough seems dry.  We don’t want a wet or sticky dough, but it shouldn’t be crumbly either. Let’s turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board.  I used Sorghum flour since it’s lighter than the teff.  Put the raisins on top of the dough and knead them in.  Once they are relatively uniformly distributed pat the dough out into a rectangle that is about 12 inches long and 6 inches wide.  [caption id="attachment_240" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Spiced Orange Dough studded with Raisins"]Spiced Orange Dough[/caption] Using a knife, score the dough in half lengthwise and then make 6 cuts spanning the width so we have 12 equal pieces.  Take each piece and roll it into a ball in your hands, then make flatten the bottom for a cute roll shape.  Place your formed rolls onto a parchment lined baking sheet or onto preheated baking stones in the oven. [caption id="attachment_241" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="heading into the oven"]heading into the oven[/caption] Bake for about 25 minutes.   Cinnamon Orange Rolls Ingredients Filling 1 cup pecans 6 dates 1 Tbsp ground Cinnamon 1 tsp vanilla powder Dough 12-oz orange puree (from about 3 oranges) 4 dates, pitted 1 Tbsp Yeast 2 cups Amaranth flour 1 cup Arrowroot flour ½  cup Teff flour 1 Tbsp ground Cinnamon 1 Tbsp vanilla powder 1 tsp. Lecithin Equipment you’ll need: 2 bowls food processor rolling pin Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  First things first, we need to make the filling.  Dump all of the filling ingredients into the bowl of your food processor and pulse it until everything is combined and you've got a sticky paste.  Tip the mixture out into a bowl and give the food processor a quick swish with water so we can get going on the dough. [caption id="attachment_245" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="date nut filling"]date nut filling[/caption] Down to business: put your 3 oranges and 4 pitted dates into the food processor and process until smooth.  [caption id="attachment_242" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="We start with whole foods"]Oranges and dates[/caption] You’ll have a pulpy juice mixture and the dates should be well incorporated.  Add the remaining dough ingredients and pulse until a dough forms.  You will likely need to scrape the sides of your food processor several times during the process to ensure uniform mixing. [caption id="attachment_243" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="amaranth dough"]amaranth dough[/caption] Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  I used Amaranth flour since it’s the main flour in this dough.  Knead the dough a turn or two and then grab your rolling pin.  Make sure that your work surface is well floured or this dough will stick!  Roll out a rectangle about 24 inches long and 12 inches wide.   [caption id="attachment_244" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Even though it's a tender dough, it rolls out beautifully."]rolled out[/caption] Scoop the filling out its bowl and drop it in clumps down the center of the rolled out dough.  Using a spatula or flat knife spread out the filling until the surface of the dough is covered.  You will have a thin coating of the nut mixture. spread out the filling Now it’s time to roll this guy.  Starting at the long edge that is closest to you, begin to roll the dough.  Think jelly roll, think rolling a sleeping bag… we are rolling the dough over onto itself until it is one long rolled log.  Mission accomplished with the roll, so we’re going to use a serrated knife to slice 1.5 inch pieces of dough.  I ended up with 16 equal pieces.     [caption id="attachment_247" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="snug as a bug!"]cinnamon rolls[/caption] Place your sliced rolls in the pan of your choice.  They don’t rise very much so you need not leave a ton of room between them… in fact, you can pack them in like snug little bugs.  The only real prerequisite  is that you lightly oil your pan or line it with parchment. Bake for about 35 minutes. [caption id="attachment_248" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="fresh from the oven"]fresh from the oven[/caption]   Alternative: Slice the roll into cookie thickness, about ¼ inch thick and bake on a hot baking stone or parchment lined cookie sheet for 12-15 minutes.  Super, super crunchy and tasty treats.  Heck, make some into cinnamon rolls and some into cookies.  These are great with a cup of tea.