Sugar-Free (Almost) Chocolate Oatmeal No Bake Cookies

almost sugar free chocolate no bake cookies 2

Do you remember these chocolately no-bake cookies from your childhood?

My Grandma’s friend and neighbor, Audrey, used to make these in the summer, and I loved them.

almost sugar free chocolate no bake cookies 3

I hadn’t thought about them or had them in a long time.  Then I noticed my friend, Janet, posted this healthy, no-sugar version on her Facebook page.

Yesterday was our first day home from vacation, and there were no cookies in the house.  That is something that doesn’t happen often around here! 

Knowing we were heading over to our oldest son’s and daughter-in-law’s house for a visit, I didn’t want to go empty handed, so I thought I would give this recipe a try.

almost sugar free chocolate no bake cookies 1

The original recipe from my childhood calls for 2 cups of sugar, 1/2 cup of butter and 1/2 cup of milk.

This recipe has NO sugar (except for what is in my peanut butter – but if you used natural peanut butter, it would have NONE!).  Honey is used instead, and I use local honey (Molinaro Apiaries here in Mars).  Have you heard that using local honey can help treat those with allergies as you ingest small doses of pollen the bees carry that is local to you and builds antibodies like getting a “vaccine?”

This recipe has no butter.  It uses healthy coconut oil instead.  And it uses no milk.

And best of all…. these “healthy” cookies taste DELISH!

almost sugar free chocolate no bake cookies 4

And… they take only minutes to make.

They are best eaten right out of the freezer on hot summer days.

The recipe Janet shared is from 12 Tomatoes, and they say the recipes makes three dozen cookies.

WHY do I always only get HALF the number of cookies any cookie recipe calls for?  I got exactly 18…. One and one half dozen.  Do I really make my cookies TWICE as big as everyone else!?!!???  🙂

It was good to be back in the kitchen – even if only briefly – and not really baking!

But it was even better to be with our “kids.”  And I played ladder golf for the first time.  Us girls ALMOST won!

Sugar Free (Almost) Chocolate Oatmeal No Bake Cookies

  • Servings: 1-1/2 - 3 dozen
  • Print


  • 3 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 2/3 cup natural peanut butter (I didn’t have “natural” so used Jif – thus the “almost” sugar free reference)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine honey, peanut butter and coconut oil, stirring until well blended and smooth.
  3. Stir in oats, cocoa powder, vanilla and salt and mix well.
  4. Drop cookies by tablespoonful onto parchment-lined baking sheets
  5. Place in freezer for at least 15 minutes to set.
  6. Store in an airtight container or Ziploc bag either in the fridge or freezer.


Cheers & Hugs,

My New ( and very first) Art Journal

journal red leather cover

On our recent vacation to New Orleans, I kept scoping out little book stores and gift shops as we sauntered around the French Quarter and the Garden District for one particular thing I wanted for myself… an art journal.

I’ve been wanting to get one to practice drawing and sketching and painting in, and I thought it would be a great “souvenir” to bring back from NOLA.

I was so excited when I found this little gem bound in bright red leather and filled with handmade cotton paper.  It is about 5×7 inches with about 50 luxurious sheets of paper held shut with an elastic band.

It fits perfectly in my purse, and I couldn’t wait to use it.


I got nervous.

It is so beautiful, and I really don’t know how to draw very well.
What would I draw on the very first page of this beautiful little book?
It had to be something fabulous or memorable.

I was frozen in indecisiveness and carried it around for days without daring to draw.

I visited many art galleries while wandering around in the French Quarter, but one made the most profound impact on me…

the Alex Beard Studio on Julia Street.

When I walked in, I asked the friendly gentleman if he was Alex?

He kindly told me that Alex had just left, but he would be back tomorrow, and he asked if there was anything he could help me with.

We struck up a brief conversation where he inquired if I was an artist.

Well – “not really,” I replied, but I would love to be and am “dabbling.”

He told me that Alex welcomes anyone to come and join him in his studio to sketch or paint or draw any time they would like.  He loves to share his space.

How fun would that be?

I then told this sweet young man, “I did just buy this beautiful little sketchbook (which I proceeded to show him).  He caressed it just like I did when I first found it, and admired the beautiful handmade sheets of paper.

He was drawing himself when I interrupted him, and I inquired about what he was using and what he was making.

He was making a birthday card.


I told him how I make all my own homemade cards.

He told me how he does too, and how if he ever sends a store-bought card to a friend or relative, they know he must be really busy, because he always makes homemade cards.

Anyway – to make a short story long ….

I told him I was nervous to start drawing in my new art journal.

I said, “I don’t know what to draw on the first page….. it needs to be something significant, and I’m afraid to just draw in it.”

He gave me the best advice ever, and I so wish I could remember his name, for he was such a sweet soul…

He simply said,

“Well then start on the second page.”

Brilliant – eh?

Well – I didn’t get enough nerve up to draw in my new art journal until the second leg of our flight home several days later.  From New York to Pittsburgh, the flight was only about 1/3 full.


journal first drawing

Hubby and I spread out and each took our own row.

I stretched out, and I opened up my little art journal, and this is the first thing I drew….

…on Page 3.

journal gin cocktail nola

My journey has begun.

gin cocktail at wwii museum nola

Gin Cocktail at The American Sector Restaurant, WWII Museum, NOLA

Cheers & Hugs,

10 Years Later… Hurricane Katrina

katrina memorial scrap house 10 years later

As you may have realized from the photos and posts this past week, I was fortunate to spend a week-long vacation with hubby in New Orleans, Louisiana.

On the last day of our vacation yesterday – after more amazing food and drink, fun and celebrating, exploring and experiencing, art and culture, people and places, sun and heat than we could have imagined – we decided to spend our last day on a tour of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, which just happens to have occurred 10 years ago today.

It was heartbreaking to see the destruction and the devastation that still remains in many places.  It was also encouraging and uplifting to see and hear of the wonderful stories of rebuilding and humanitarianism that have occurred and are still occurring.  (In fact, as I type this at midnight in our hotel room, I can still hear the music and cheers of the crowds outside and 11 floors below as Lil’ Wayne, a Rap Artist Entertainer, who was born and raised in the 9th Ward (which is the area that was most devastated by Hurricane Katrina), is hosting a benefit concert right outside the Superdome where an estimated 35,000 evacuees fled for a “shelter of last resort.”

The photo above is the “Scrap House” Memorial to Hurricane Katrina that was built by New Orleans artist Sally Heller and unveiled on the fourth anniversary of the storm on August 29, 2009.  It stands across the street from the city’s convention center, where many refugees lived after their homes were destroyed.

The battered house sits in a tree whose bark is made of metal scraps from salvaged 55 gallon oil drums.

Heller was inspired to create this monument after seeing boats in trees and house on top of cars in the aftermath of the storm.

I am sharing the photo below (which is one of at least 50 photos I took yesterday), because this plaque really struck me to the core as I learned so much more about this horrific disaster.

floodwall sign katrina nola

Today, I recognize and honor all those that suffered such horrendous destruction and loss ten years ago.  I also celebrate their courage, spirit of survival, rebuilding, and perseverance.

I am forever changed, forever humbled, forever grateful.


Before I Die…

Before I die I want to wall

Before I Die is a public art project that invites people to reflect on their lives and share their personal aspirations in a public space.  Originally created by New Orleans artist Candy Chang in 2011 on an abandoned house in her neighborhood after losing someone she loved, the wall has been recreated by residents around the world.  Today there are over 350 walls in 60 countries and 25 languages.

The wall shown here, installed by Chang in the Warehouse District of New Orleans, Louisiana, celebrates the project in the city where it all began and is the first wall in New Orleans since the original abandoned house has become someone’s home again.

before I die I want to 2

I enjoyed pondering along this wall and reading the comments…  Some serious, some silly, but certainly makes you think.

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You can learn more about the project here.

How would you finish the sentence?

Before I die, I want to ___________________________________________________________.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Cheers & Hugs,

You are beautiful

you are beautiful building mississippi river new orleans

Can you imagine
the pleasant surprise

to float by this building
and read this message

on a recent dinner cruise along the Mississippi River
while visiting New Orleans?

I love to think about the person or persons that took the time to do this.
I can almost envision the beauty in their eyes, their hands, their heart.

There is something beautiful to be found in everything –
Absolutely everything.

Just open your eyes…
and your heart.

You are beautiful!

Cheers & Hugs,

Chocolate Chunk and Fresh Red Raspberry Chocolate Muffins

raspberry chocolate chunk chocolate muffins

Last week I wrote about “perfect pairs.

But seriously…

does anything “pair” better than the divine taste of rich, creamy semi-sweet chocolate and the tangy, sweet, juiciness of fresh red raspberries?

raspberry chocolate chunk chocolate muffins 1

Oh these muffins!

raspberry chocolate chunk chocolate muffins 2

They are pretty much heaven in a paper liner!

raspberry chocolate chunk chocolate muffins 3

If you are looking for an amazing muffin recipe that goes as wonderfully with coffee in the morning for a decadent breakfast treat as it does with red wine or milk for dessert or as a snack, look no further.  Here is a recipe I slightly adapted from Creme de la Crumb.  ENJOY!

Chocolate Chunk and Fresh Red Raspberry Chocolate Muffins

raspberry chocolate chunk chocolate muffins

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chunks or chips
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup red raspberry Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup Half & Half
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup semi sweet chocolate chunks or chips
  • 1 pint fresh red raspberries


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line muffin pan with liners.
  • Combine flour, sugar, 1 cup chocolate chunks or chips, cocoa powder, and baking soda in a large bowl.
  • Whisk egg, yogurt, milk, and vegetable oil in another bowl until smooth.
  • Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
  • Scoop into muffin pan.
  • Divide raspberries and remaining ¼ cup chocolate chunks among the muffins (just sprinkle the chocolate chips on the tops of the batter and gently press the raspberries into the top – I used 3 raspberries per muffin)
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before removing.

Cheers & Hugs,

Lovely as a Tree

PP259 Lovely as a Tree Masculine Birthday Card
It’s Sunday again, and that means design team inspiration for The Paper Players!

This week’s challenge (#PP259) is a sketch challenge, and here is the sketch we were to use to design a card from:

I needed a birthday card this past week for a dear friend who is hitting one of those biggie decade birthdays so thought I would use the design to make his card.

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I used my ALL TIME favorite most versatile stamp set in the entire world (I might be exaggerating a teensy bit, but hopefully you get my point).  Lovely as a Tree from StampinUp was one of my very first stamps I bought, and one that I still use often – Winter, Fall, Summer, Christmas, Masculine, Feminine.  Such great versatility.

pp259 3

I think I did pretty good sticking close to the design sketch and like how this birthday card turned out for our special friend.

Play along with us – any of you paper players!  I’d love to see what you design with this sketch.

Cheers & Hugs,