Fourth of July Panna Cotta

Fourth of July is only five days away! Can you believe it? I’m never totally ready for it to come because summer always seems to fly by in the blink of an eye after the Fourth is over. We don’t have any plans other than working a little that morning (I am anyway — not sure about Jesse) and keeping our kitties company in the evening. Our cat, Frankie, is terrified of fireworks and loud noises in general, but our other cat, Dutch doesn’t seem to mind much. Anyway, we want to be there for Frankie since she gets so stressed out. Poor kitty. During the day, maybe we’ll go for a bike ride or something. We’re playing it by ear.

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a festive, healthy, and patriotic dessert to make, look no further. I’ve got you covered with this non-dairy Fourth of July panna cotta featuring coconut milk, blueberries, and raspberries. It has a hint of lemon flavor thanks to the lemon essential oil and tastes wonderful with the fresh berries.  If you don’t have access to the lemon essential oil, you can substitute lemon extract instead (1 tsp is probably enough, but it depends how lemony you want it). Strawberries would also be a great addition to this dessert if you want to add some extra red color and more berry flavor.

On another note, I went back on KATU Afternoon Live yesterday and made my summer “grain” salad with lemon tahini dressing. Watch the replay of the segment HERE.

Ingredients:

  • 13.5 oz can full-fat coconut milk (this brand is great and has no gums)
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp cold filtered water
  • 1-1/4 tsp gelatin powder, preferably grass-fed (I recommend this one or this one)
  • 1-2 Tbsp raw honey, or more if you want it sweeter
  • 4 drops high-quality, dietary-safe lemon essential oil (learn where to get therapeutic grade oils here)
  • Fresh blueberries and raspberries or strawberries, for serving
  • Toasted slivered almonds, for serving
  • Unsweetened coconut flakes or chips, for serving

Directions:

  1. Pour water into a small bowl and sprinkle in the gelatin powder, allowing it to bloom. Set aside.
  2. Pour the coconut milk into a small saucepan and heat on the stove over medium heat. Whisk in the vanilla and honey. Once the honey is fully dissolved, add the gelatin mixture and whisk until dissolved. Remove from heat and whisk in the lemon essential oil.
  3. Divide mixture equally among three individual size glasses or small bowls (small mason jars also work well). Place in fridge to set for at least 4 hours.
  4. Once set, top with desired amount of fresh blueberries and raspberries. Garnish with the slivered almonds and coconut.

Yields: 3 servings

Catching Up and 24 Days of Togetherness

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Happy Monday, everyone! I am thrilled to have a more relaxing day after a hectic weekend of Christmas shopping and work on both days (though work wasn’t the hectic part). I don’t work today, but do need to finish wrapping my gifts and then get to UPS to ship everything out. I guess the UPS part could be a little bit chaotic, but I gotta get it done if I want my family to receive their gifts by Christmas Eve.

I really wish Jesse and I could both go home for Christmas, especially because it’s the first year in a long time that all the cousins will be together at my family Christmas with my mom’s side. As we’ve grown older, that rarely happens anymore. Not only that, but I’d love to see my grandparents and family on the other side too. My grandma, who is 88, was just diagnosed with breast cancer and had surgery last week — there will be more surgery to come too. I don’t normally ask for this kind of stuff, but if you don’t mind, will you please send out some positive thoughts and prayers for her and my family? It would really mean a lot and I would be most appreciative.

I also would love to go home because it’s a winter wonderland back there and the snow is so beautiful! I’ve been seeing pictures and it makes me want to go out and play! I’d especially love to play with my little nephews in the snow. Plane tickets are just too expensive this year and it’s not within our budget (or even close). On the bright side, it’s giving us the chance to start some of our own traditions and have a Christmas tree too, which we wouldn’t have gotten if we had travel plans. Not having to deal with the crazy airport and possible delays is nice too. I’m still very grateful this holiday season and happy to be celebrating in our own way.

Anyway, here’s a little update as to what’s been going on with our 24 days of togetherness:

Day 1: Go out for breakfast or dinner

This was my breakfast on Sunday, after choosing the slip of paper above. Veggie hash (carrots, shallot, mushrooms, Brussel sprouts) with poached eggs and bacon.
Breakfast at The Daily Cafe: hash of carrots, shallot, mushrooms, Brussel sprouts with poached eggs and bacon.

Day 2: Share your first memory of one another

Day 3: Take a walk and get a coffee or tea

Americanos!
Americanos!

Day 4: Share a favorite Christmas memory

Day 5: Buy a small gift for one another

Oddly enough, we both bought a pair of socks, and of the same brand too!
Oddly enough, we both bought a pair of socks and of the same brand too!

Day 6: Drink a hot adult beverage

We made hot buttered rum at home. It was just grass-fed butter, spices, a little raw honey, rum and cinnamon sticks.
We made hot buttered rum at home. It was grass-fed butter, spices, raw honey, rum and cinnamon sticks.

Day 7: Make paleo rum balls (recipe to come!)

Day 8: Go out to see a movie (we went and saw Catching Fire)

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Day 9: Pick out a new Christmas ornament

We picked a classic Santa ornament.
We picked a classic Santa ornament.

Day 10: Workout together for a week (on a 3-day split)

Day 11: Watch Elf

Day 12: Make breakfast for dinner (we had bacon with an Italian chicken sausage and broccoli scramble)

Day 13: Share 5 things we like about our relationship (funny/cute things)

Day 14: Wild card

Day 15: Put a small surprise in each other’s stocking and don’t open until Christmas day

Day 16: Find and learn a game we can both enjoy (2 player card game, board game or otherwise)

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Meanwhile, I’m slacking on recipes a bit. I feel like I got back into a rut after Thanksgiving. I’ve been making things that I’ve already shared before or that aren’t really worthy of sharing because they are so straight forward (like steamed veggies with butter and chicken sausage). If you have suggestions of recipes or the types of dishes you’d like to see, please let me know! I am totally open to ideas and feedback. Thanks in advance!

Decorating for the Holidays and 24 Days of Togetherness

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Along with celebrating Thanksgiving, Jesse and I decorated the house for Christmas over the holiday weekend. We even got our first Christmas tree, which I was really excited about (and still am, actually). We strung up lights around the house, hung our stockings, decorated the tree, played Christmas music and drank wine. It was wonderful and cozy.

Picking out an Elf tree. It's our first tree, so we started small to see how the cats would handle it.
Picking out an Elf tree. It’s our first tree, so we started small to see how the cats would handle it.
I joked with Jesse that we should've tied the tree to the top of the car.
I joked with Jesse that we should have tied our 2-foot tree to the top of the car.
Buying more lights and drinking wine while decorating is a must.
Buying more lights…and wine. Drinking wine while decorating is a must.
We even hung lights around the molding of the kitchen cabinets this year.
We even hung lights around the molding of the kitchen cabinets this year.
Stockings are hung! You can see the reflection of the lights around the window in the glass too.
Stockings are hung! The lights around the window reflect in the glass of the hutch.
Tree is lit and decorated, but now we need a little tree skirt and topper of sorts.
Tree is lit and decorated, but now we need a little tree skirt and topper of sorts.

24 Days of Togetherness

We decided to do something new and sort of cheesy this year too: 24 Days of Togetherness. I discovered this idea from Tina of Carrots ‘N’ Cake and thought it seemed like a fun holiday idea. Like Tina and her husband did this year, Jesse and I decided to pick 12 days together and then pick 6 on our own, that would be a surprise for each other. We also tried to choose things that are doable on most days and inexpensive or free. I’ll do a full recap on this once it’s over, but if you want to partake (don’t worry if you don’t do the full 24 days — just do however many days are left leading up to Christmas) and need some ideas, here’s some of the things that we chose together:

  • Go out for breakfast or dinner
  • Watch Elf
  • Go for a walk and get a tea or coffee
  • Have a hot adult beverage (make it at home or go out)
  • Go see the Christmas tree at night in Pioneer Square
  • Make rum balls (a paleo version, of course)
  • Share 5 things we love about our relationship (funny things)
  • Go out for a cocktail
  • Workout together for a week (on a 3-day split…we’re very specific)
  • Pick out a new ornament
  • Buy each other a small gift

We decided we would take turns picking each day and pick first thing in the morning, so we can plan for it or do it that morning, if appropriate. So far, we’re having fun with it, even if it is a little cheesy. On Sunday, I chose the “go out for breakfast or dinner,” so we met up for breakfast after we both got done working that morning. Yesterday, Jesse chose one of that I made, “share your first memory of each other.” It’s fun to do something like this and focus on spending time together in other ways.

Each morning, we give this tin a shake, take off the lid and pull out a folded slip of paper to see what we're doing together that day.
Each morning, we give this tin a shake, take off the lid and pull out a folded slip of paper to see what we’re doing together that day.
We used scrap paper to write on, but if you want, you can use red and green construction paper.
We used scrap paper to write on, but if you want, you can use red and green construction paper.
This was my breakfast on Sunday, after choosing the slip of paper above. Veggie hash (carrots, shallot, mushrooms, Brussel sprouts) with poached eggs and bacon.
This was my breakfast on Sunday, after choosing the slip of paper above. Veggie hash (carrots, shallot, mushrooms, Brussel sprouts) with poached eggs and bacon.

Fourth of July Recap

English: Fireworks on the Fourth of July
English: Fireworks on the Fourth of July (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hello friends! Please pardon my lack of posts this week. My computer is out of commission right now, but I’m hoping to have it back by Monday. I had a recipe to share for today, but all the pictures for it are saved on my computer, so it’ll have to wait. Meanwhile, Jesse let me borrow his laptop, so I thought I’d share a little bit about our holiday yesterday.

First off, I don’t know it’s because of the magnesium I took before bed, the white noise from the fan or my decision to sleep in, but I had the best night’s sleep on the eve of the fourth. I woke up yesterday morning refreshed and well rested, and even slept until 8 am! I decided to take a bit of a recovery day, so opted out of going to early morning yoga or doing the holiday workout at Recreate. Instead though, I went for a lovely walk upon waking. It felt SO good and the temperature was perfect. I even broke up my walk with some duck unders (the u-shaped bike racks are great for this, permitting you have the hip mobility), push-ups and play at a nearby park playground. Thankfully, because of the holiday and it being earlier in the morning, there was no kids at the playground, which is a rarity! Afterward, I ran a couple errands and then made a stellar breakfast (you know…bacon, farm-fresh eggs from Jason Seib’s chickens, sauerkraut, veggies, local berries).

Moving forward into the day, Jesse and I went out for a biking adventure. We rode up and down hills, through neighborhoods and then found a nice outdoor patio, where we enjoyed some libations. We enjoyed each other’s company and conversation for a while and then rode home to eat dinner. Thankfully, I had prepped most everything earlier in the day, so things came together quickly.

For dinner, we had grilled vidalia onions, beef and mushroom kabobs and a creamy zucchini salad. For the kabobs, I marinated sirloin cubes in coconut oil, thyme, garlic, oregano and sea salt. Then, I assembled them on skewers with crimini mushrooms. I used Strictly Paleo…ish’s recipe for the salad, but used fresh basil instead of parsley and roughly 3/4 – one cup of mayo instead of 2 cups. I also made my homemade mayo from half coconut oil and half extra virgin olive oil, which turned out fantastic! It was my first time using coconut oil in mayo, and it worked great. Normally, I use avocado oil or macadamia nut oil, but had neither on hand and refuse to use straight up extra virgin olive oil for mayo. I did that once and it tasted awful — burned my throat! Anyway, the mayo tastes very buttery and is out of this world. I will definitely make it this way again.

Mmm...kabobs and grilled, buttery sweet onions.
Mmm…kabobs and grilled, buttery sweet onions.
Creamy zucchini salad with coconut oil mayo and basil. So delicious, crunchy and refreshing!
Creamy zucchini salad with coconut oil mayo and basil. Delicious, crunchy and refreshing!

For dessert, we had fresh blueberries and peaches with coconut milk whipped cream and some chopped TCHO 99% dark chocolate (just pure chocolate…nothing else!).

We didn’t watch any fireworks, but could here them going off from every direction in the neighborhood, and could smell them too. The kitties didn’t like it too much and Mila, our Siamese feline, hid under the bed most of the night!

Dessert: berries, coconut milk whipped cream, 99% dark chocolate.
Dessert: berries, peaches, coconut milk whipped cream, 99% dark chocolate.

What did you do for the Fourth of July? Did you eat anything especially delicious?

Easter Eats 2013

It’s hard to believe I go back to school already today, but then again, I did only have one week off. Anyway, I feel settled in again after my trip home to Michigan, and had a lovely weekend. It felt so good to not have any schoolwork and besides that, the weather was in the 70s! It felt incredible and I did my best to soak up the vitamin-D!

Look at all those daffodils in our back yard!
Look at all those daffodils in our back yard! Sun and green grass too! Hooray for spring!

Because this is already going to be a lengthier post, I’m going to recap about our Easter dinner and then talk about my Saturday in Tuesday’s post. Here’s a little precursor about Saturday though: sauerkraut tasting!

I mentioned on Friday that I was thinking of making deviled eggs, and so I did. I didn’t want to make a big batch, so I made just enough for Jesse and me to eat. I had never made deviled eggs before, but have looked at many recipes and eaten them before, so I knew the basic idea. These turned out great, and Jesse and I sat out on the patio in shorts and t-shirts while eating them. We also enjoyed some chardonnay in our new wine glasses that my aunt and cousin sent as a shower gift, and had some pleasant conversation.

For dinner, we had a petite ham from US Wellness Meats with a homemade glaze, pineapple chutney, a spinach salad and cooked asparagus. We had a cake for dessert, which you’ll see my note about at the bottom of the post. Recipes are listed below.

For the small-batch deviled eggs:

  • 4 hard-cooked pastured eggs, peeled
  • 1.5 Tbsp macadamia nut oil mayo
  • 1/2 tsp yellow mustard
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp dried dill
  • Paprika for garnish, optional
  1. Slice eggs in half, lengthwise and carefully scoop the yolks out into a bowl. Mash the yolks with a fork and then add the remaining ingredients, except the paprika. Mix well and spoon into a small zip-lock baggie.
  2. Snip one of the corners from the baggie and pipe yolk mixture back into the egg cavity.
  3. Before serving, garnish with paprika, if using.
Small-batch deviled eggs.
Small-batch deviled eggs.

For the ham and glaze:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place ham in a foil-lined roasting pan and bake for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk together the glaze ingredients. After 30 minutes, brush half the glaze on the ham. Roast for 10 minutes, then remove from oven and brush on the remaining glaze. Bake for another 10 minutes.

The chutney was inspired by a Whole Foods recipe, but modified to my liking. It was a wonderful accompaniment to the ham and together, it was out of this world (and the glaze was not overpowering or super sweet). I hadn’t tasted ham probably since early high school and boy, was it good! I’d buy this US Wellness Meats ham again in a heartbeat! Compassionate-raised pasture ham is hard to come by, especially one that is both sugar-free and nitrate-free. This is a major win.

For the chutney:

  • 1 cup fresh pineapple, cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1/2 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2/3 cup orange juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  1. Place all the ingredients in a medium-sized saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Continue to simmer for 10-20 minutes, until mixture has thickened.
  2. Remove cinnamon stick and serve warm atop of ham.
Glazed ham with chutney, spinach salad and caramelized asparagus.
Glazed ham with chutney, spinach salad and browned asparagus.

The salad idea came together while grocery shopping for Easter dinner…on Easter Sunday. Ha, we never made it to the store on Saturday, like we usually do, so we had to go on actual Easter day. I expanded upon my salad idea as I assembled it at home, and the result was refreshing and summer-like.

For the spinach salad:

  • 2 cups raw spinach
  • 1/2 cup curley parsley, chopped
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup sliced strawberries
  • 2 Tbsp chopped raw cashews
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp Tessemae’s lemon garlic dressing (Whole Foods carries this line now! So excited!)

In a large bowl, mix together everything, but the dressing. Just before serving, mix in the dressing.

Easter dinner.
Easter dinner.

If you really want to know what I did for the asparagus, I melted 2 Tbsp of grass-fed butter over medium heat. Then, I added a bundle of asparagus (woody ends removed) and seasoned with sea salt and pepper. I tossed the asparagus occasionally and allowed it to brown and caramelize a bit. Once tender, after 5-7 minutes, I removed from heat.

We had a delicious chocolate cake for dessert that I will post about later in the week. I think there’s enough recipes here for one day!

I’d love to hear about your Easter, and what you cooked and ate! Feel free to share!

Thanksgiving 2012 Recap

My first turkey! Pardon the nasty flash.

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving and my very first turkey turned out fantastic! I kid you not when I say it was the best I ever tasted. Honestly, I didn’t know turkey could taste that good. Growing up, I always slathered it in gravy or cranberries because it tended to be so bland and tasteless. This turkey needed nothing and was so moist and flavorful. I brined it for over 24 hours, then rubbed homemade herb butter (grass-fed butter blended with fresh sage & thyme) all over the outside and under the skin. I stuffed the cavity with a quartered onion, leftover fresh herbs and one lemon (cut in half). The skin came out brown and crispy, just the way I like it (I can’t stand flabby skin — that’s when I won’t eat it) and I could taste flavors of the wine (from the brine) on the meat and skin. This will now be my go-to recipe for turkey! The rest of our meal consisted of roasted brussel spouts tossed with bacon and dried cranberries (apple juice sweetened), fresh green beans with sautéed shallots and chantrelle mushrooms (this tasted just like green bean casserole, but better!), my mom’s spiced cranberry relish, mashed buttercup squash, homemade neck/gizzard gravy, and almond flour biscuits (though neither of us ate one with dinner). For dessert, crustless pumpkin pie with 24-hour half-and-half yogurt as our (thick) whipped topping.

In the morning, before all the eating happened, Jesse went to Jiu-Jitsu and I got a workout in at Recreate. It was a fun Thanksgiving workout with 45+ others. A good time was had by all. After we got home (Jesse was there too because he helped coach class), I made us homemade almond flour biscuits with bacon, sunny-side up eggs and avocado. Then after eating, we Skyped with my parents back in Michigan and later, I got to Skype with my grandparents. Yay for technology! Anyway, here’s a photo recap of our Thanksgiving.

All slathered with herb butter and stuffed with herbs and aromatics.
I sautéed carrots, onion and celery in some ghee with sea salt and pepper, and then added it to my slow cooker with bone broth (enough to cover everything), a bay leaf, and the neck and gizzard from my turkey. 6 hours later, I had the base for a gravy. I took the meat off the vertebrae and chopped up the gizzard. Everything went into the blender with some pan drippings. Minutes later, it turned into a fantastic, flavorful and nutrient-dense gravy.
In the slow cooker, ready to simmer for the next six hours.
The pumpkin pie!
In the afternoon, we roasted some chestnuts to nibble on (and pair with our mead — honey wine). Here, Jesse is peeling the cooled chestnuts. They’re so tasty and look like little brains!
Checking the turkey. Nope, it wasn’t done. Back into the oven it went.
I gave Dutch a new box to play in (compliments of my mom for the goodies she sent me from her Austria trip). He loved tearing up the tissue paper inside and enjoyed napping in here all day long. Mila, our Siamese cat, doesn’t care about boxes, so Dutch gets to have it all to himself.
Jesse slicing the turkey. He got too hot because of all the heat coming from the kitchen, which is why he is shirtless.
Our spread.
Jesse getting impatient while I snapped photos. He was still hot, so ate dinner shirtless.
My plate. There ended up being a lot more gravy involved than what you see here. It’s so good that I kept ladling it on!
Dessert, homemade pumpkin pie with 24-hour half-and-half yogurt.