No-Bake Rum Balls

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Today marks the last day of our 24 days of togetherness. It’s been so fun and Jesse and I will definitely do it again next year. I filled you in last week through day 16, but here’s what was chosen for our remaining days (minus today):

Day 17: Watch Scrooged

Day 18: Partner smash, 5 minutes each (by “smash,” we mean myofascial release)

Day 19: Go out for a cocktail

Day 20: Share the top 3 things you want for Christmas (idea was to think BIG!)

Day 21: Go see Pioneer Square tree lights

Day 22: Go to the movies (again!)

Day 23: Go on an urban hike (we had to save it for today, so we’re hiking around nearby neighborhoods later to look at Christmas lights)

Day 24: TBD…I’m at work and it’s Jesse’s turn to pick! I won’t know until later.

Anyway, as I mentioned last week, we made paleo rum balls for day seven of our little game. I promised I would share the recipe, so here you have it. It may or may not be too late to make these for Christmas, but there’s always New Year’s! This was my first attempt at making rum balls of any sort and I think it was my first time tasting some too. Jesse and I both enjoyed the strong rum flavor and slight sweetness. The rum definitely stands out, especially since these don’t bake at all (and really, rum balls shouldn’t be baked). I even thought about renaming these boozy balls instead!

Happy Christmas Eve, everyone!

UPDATE: watch the replay of me HERE making these on live TV from December 16, 2016 on KATU Afternoon Live here in Portland!

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Adapted from this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup blanched almond flour (I like this brand)
  • Heaping 2/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • Dash of sea salt
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa or cacao powder
  • 1/4 cup gold rum (sometimes also called amber rum)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2-3 Tbsp raw honey or more to taste
  • Extra unsweetened shredded coconut or cocoa/cacao powder for rolling, optional

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor. Puree and blend everything into a thick, soft mixture.
  2. Roll into tablespoon-sized balls. Note, the oil from the rum balls will keep the dough from sticking to your fingers.
  3. Dust finished balls with shredded coconut or extra cocoa powder, if desired. Place on a plate and chill in the refrigerator before serving.

Yields: ~20 balls

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Cider Spiced Cranberries

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So, I know this isn’t a simple dinner recipe like I normally post on Fridays, but the recipe I tested out flat out failed, so I figured I’d share this holiday-inspired side dish instead. It could easily be part of a simple supper Friday meal — just pair it with veggies of choice and protein (I recommend poultry or pork with the cranberries). How about baked skin-on chicken breasts or thighs, broccoli with grass-fed butter (or maybe roasted Brussel sprouts) and these cranberries? Delicious and easy.

Anyway, I always enjoy having cranberries with my holiday meal and usually make a variation of my mom’s recipe, which you can view here. This year, I decided to try out a new recipe using whole cider spices, apple and dried currants. It made the house smell warm and cozy, and made me want to cuddle up on the sofa with a blanket and Christmas movie. Of course, that’s not what happened, but it’s a nice idea, right? Anyway, the cranberries turned out perfectly and just how I envisioned — tart, a little sweet, warm-spiced and chunky. Eat ’em hot, cold, on turkey, mixed into yogurt or even on their own, these cranberries are delightful and become even more flavorful after chilling. I hope this recipe makes an appearance on your holiday table.

Cheers and happy Friday!

Ingredients:

  • 13.5 oz pure orange juice (I used a small 13.5 oz bottle of Simply Orange)
  • 1/4 cup bulk cider spice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp raw honey (use up to 2 Tbsp more if you want it sweeter)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 quart fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened dried currants
  • 1 medium pippin apple or granny smith, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp grass-fed butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional

Directions:

  1. Combine orange juice and cider spices in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. Then, strain mixture and return the juice reduction back to the pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the water, raw honey and ground cinnamon, and stir until dissolved. Then, add the cranberries, dried currants and chopped apple. Stir and bring to a simmer.
  3. Cook fruit mixture for about 7 minutes or until most of the cranberries have popped. Once done, remove from heat to cool and stir in the butter and chopped pecans, if using.
  4. Chill in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight, before serving.

Hello and Welcome to 2013!

A picture our friend, Harmony took on her phone. Can you tell who's sober and who's not? I guess having a birthday on New Year's eve is a wicked combo.
A picture our friend, Harmony, took on her phone. Can you tell who’s sober and who’s not? I guess having a birthday on New Year’s eve is a wicked combo.

Happy New Year everyone! Last night was a bit unusual for me … Jesse and I went out to dinner with another couple (that part isn’t weird), I ordered a pulled pork dish and enjoyed it (I don’t really care much for pork, except bacon, so it’s surprising that I ordered this), went to two bars after dinner (I literally never go to bars. I only had two drinks all night though because I was a DD and don’t like to drink a lot), and rang in the New Year freezing my buns off at a park overlooking the city. Jesse enjoyed his birthday drinks and insisted that we all go to his favorite park, Overlook Park, and swing for a little bit and ring in the New Year there. We were only outside about 10 minutes — long enough to swing a little, countdown to the New Year, and smooch when 2013 rolled in. Then, it was time to go home. It’s what Jesse wanted and he was happy. Lucky for him, our friends and I played along. I will say though, Jesse didn’t have the best aim when kissing me at Midnight! It made us both laugh pretty hard!

Jesse and I shared this appetizer. It had a clever name for New Year's ... I think it was Find a New Job. It was a boneless chicken thigh wrapped in prosciutto with greens and balsamic.
Jesse and I shared this appetizer. It had a clever name for New Year’s … I think it was, “Find a New Job.” It was a boneless chicken thigh wrapped in prosciutto and sage with greens and balsamic. It was supposed to come with mascarpone, but we got it without.
Pork shoulder braised with cinnamon and cumin, served with greens and avocado. It was supposed to come with black beans but I ordered it without and asked for extra greens instead. I forget the clever New Year's name this dish had.
My entree, pork shoulder braised with cinnamon and cumin, served with greens and avocado. It was supposed to come with black beans but I ordered it without and asked for extra greens instead. This dish had the clever name of, “Take a Class.”

Anyway, moving into 2013, here are some things I’m looking forward to:

  1. Completing my fitness technology and healthy older adult fitness education at PCC. I have to go to school through the summer, so I won’t be done until August or September. It’s not that far away, but there’s a lot of work to be done to get there! I remind myself everyday to enjoy the process. There are definitely some perks to being a student again anyway. Live it up!
  2. Getting married! We’re not having a big traditional wedding, but plan to have a private ceremony out here in the late spring with an officiant and two witnesses (we already know who we’re going to ask to be witnesses and we conveniently have a friend that’s an officiant). I’m thinking a park up in the hills, called Council Crest. It’s where Jesse first told me he loved me. Then, in late August or early September, we’re having a party with family and close friends back in Michigan. It’s going to be fantastic!
  3. Cooking and creating more original recipes. Enough said.
  4. Learning more blog stuff. Really, I need to get a WordPress book. Recommendations anyone?
  5. Further developing my role at Recreate, once I’m done with school. I hope to be more involved and attain a handful of private clients.
  6. Meeting new friends and followers through my blog. I’m already amazed at all the relationships I’ve developed and how many people I’ve met by way of my blog. Additionally, many people have reached out to me privately seeking advice, insight, and asking questions. It’s so humbling and really, I love it.
  7. Learning more about myself. I really surprised myself in 2012. During the second half of 2012, after I was laid off, I took more risks, worried less, and paved the way to pursue my passions. I didn’t know I was capable of being so happy and life has never felt so right. I can’t wait to see where I take myself in 2013!
  8. Growing stronger, both physically and mentally. With every challenge I encounter, I have the power to decide how I want to be. I can create what I want for myself and that’s an incredible power. It’s a gift that’s in all of us, but it’s a matter of activating the power and seizing opportunities. Grab the bull by the horns, right?
Here's another. I wanted Jesse to pose nice, but it was hopeless.
Here’s another. I wanted Jesse to pose nice, but it was hopeless. This was toward the end of the night, just before we left for the park.

New Year’s Eve and a Birthday Celebration

(Photo credit: solution4computer.com)
Tonight, we roll into 2013. (Photo credit: solution4computer.com)

A year always goes by in the blink of an eye, doesn’t it? It’s hard to believe it’s already the last day of the year. I think I say this nearly every year, but it’s always true. I was blessed with many opportunities and gifts in 2012 and I look forward to what 2013 brings. Tonight, I’ll be enjoying an evening out with Jesse and a couple of our friends. The night will start with dinner at Equinox and where it takes us from there, nobody knows.

On another note, I want to wish my dear fiancee (so weird to say that!), Jesse, a happy birthday! Cheers to 32 years young! I love you dearly and because I love you so much, I decided to pay homage to you in pictures. I can’t wait to celebrate with you and our friends tonight.

Meanwhile, what are all of you — my friends, family and followers — doing to roll in the New Year? Whatever it may be, I hope it’s meaningful to you, whether it’s a night out on the town or cuddled up at home on the sofa. I hope it includes good food (and maybe drink) too.

Oh, and after all the holiday stuff wraps up, I will post more pictures from Hawaii … promise!

Happy birthday to you, Jesse. I love you and can't wait to marry you!
Happy birthday to you, Jesse. I can’t wait to marry you, despite the images below. Note, this is from our recent trip to Honolulu.
I love you, even when you make yourself look creepy, like this.
I love you, even when you make yourself look creepy, like this.
Your strength makes up for any creepy look though.
Luckily, your strength makes up for any creepy look though.
And I love you when you fight with other boys like this.
I also love you when you fight with other boys like this.
At least you know how to accessorize yourself.
At least you know how to accessorize yourself, and choose really crummy beverages. Again though, creepy facial hair.
But you're adventurous, fun...
But you’re adventurous, fun, smart, handsome…
and you take good care of me, even when I drink too much on my birthday (my 24th birthday, to be exact).
and you take good care of me, even when I drink too much on my birthday (my 24th birthday, to be exact). This picture is from that night, back in 2009.

Christmas Recap

Hey all, I had this for Christmas dinner. What did you have?
Hey all, I had this for Christmas dinner. What did you have?

Christmas always flies by in the blink of an eye, doesn’t it? I love the holiday season and am always a little blue when it’s over, but thankfully, there’s still New Year’s to look forward to (also, New Year’s eve is Jesse’s birthday!).

Our Christmas was very low key because it was just the two of us at home, but still eventful in my book. I got up just before 7:30 and made homemade turkey breakfast sausage (recipe to come!) and granola, all in the glow of the Christmas lights and my new holiday Scentsy plug-in (which I adore, by the way). It was dark, peaceful and magical with the glow of the lights. I also took it upon myself to play Santa and sneak some goodies into Jesse’s stocking. We agreed that our trip was our Christmas present to each other, so didn’t buy any actual gifts to open, but I couldn’t stand the thought of an empty stocking. I filled his stocking with a dark chocolate caramel sea salt bar, a locally made candy bar of dark chocolate, honey, hazelnuts and nougat, and some locally made creme de Earl Grey loose-leaf tea (this stuff is amazing). Jesse was pleasantly surprised to find a stocking filled with goodies.

Grain-free granola, fresh out of the oven. I added a little pecans too since I had a package open.
Grain-free granola, fresh out of the oven. I added a little pecans too since I had a package open.
Homemade turkey breakfast patties. For our scramble, I took four of the patties and broke them up in the pan. Once cooked, I added the eggs and some frozen kale.
Homemade turkey breakfast patties. For our scramble, I took four of the patties and broke them up into the pan. Once cooked, I added the eggs and some frozen kale.
Scramble with pastured eggs and homemade breakfast sausage, avocado, and a small dish of homemade yogurt with fresh granola.
Scramble with pastured eggs and homemade breakfast sausage, avocado, and a small dish of homemade yogurt with fresh granola.

I woke Jesse up when breakfast was ready, around 8:15 or 8:30. He walked out to a place setting with a sausage and kale scramble and avocado, homemade 24-hour yogurt with fresh granola, and a glass of grapefruit juice. Jesse always has a glass of grapefruit juice first thing in the morning. It’s his ritual. After we ate, we both sipped on some heated cold-brew coffee (mine bulletproof-style with grass-fed butter and coconut oil) and then Skyped with my parents and sister for nearly an hour! We had a lot to chat about, especially with the recent news of our engagement. Everyone is pretty darn excited!

We gave the cats some cat nip (Belly Rubs). Dutch doesn't care much about it, but Mila loves it. You should have seen her rubbing all around in it and then going crazy and grabbing at her tail.
We gave the cats some cat nip (Belly Rubs) to celebrate Christmas day. Dutch doesn’t care much about it, but Mila loves it. You should have seen her rubbing all around in it and then going crazy and grabbing at her tail. Note, those are Dutch’s boxes behind Mila. It’s his favorite place to nest and dig.

The rest of the day consisted of discussing wedding plans, making lists, looking at invitations online, cooking and eating dinner, and watching Love Actually. Christmas is much different when it’s just the two of us versus when we’re back in Michigan with family. This year was especially different because our recent engagement was very much on my mind, and that’s why I took it upon myself to start jotting down ideas.

I had to mash my cauliflower old school style. There's something wrong with the motor in my food processor, so the blade doesn't spin properly. It's probably my fault because it's just a small, 4-cup processor that I often over-pack. For things like mashed cauliflower, I have to work in batches.
I had to mash my cauliflower old school style. There’s something wrong with the motor in my food processor, so the blade doesn’t spin properly. It’s probably my fault because it’s just a small, 4-cup processor that I often over-pack. For things like mashed cauliflower, I have to work in batches.
Green beans with sauteed chanterelles and shallots.
Green beans with sauteed chanterelles and shallots. We also had this for Thanksgiving.
Jesse looks like he's praying here, but he's actually not. He was sitting there giggling and pretending he was. Really, he just wanted me to stop taking pictures, so he could eat.
Jesse looks like he’s praying here, but he’s actually not. He was sitting there giggling and pretending he was. Really, he just wanted me to stop taking pictures, so he could eat.

For dinner, we had spice-rubbed turkey legs, root veggies roasted with coconut oil and thyme, green beans with sauteed chanterelles and shallots, and mashed cauliflower. For dessert, homemade dark chocolate ice cream (recipe to come!).

My dinner plate. Our turkey legs were so big that we only ate about half.
My dinner plate. The turkey legs were so big that we each only ate about half.
Okay, so it's not the most flattering picture, but I thought it was kinda funny, actually. I was a couple bites into my turkey leg, trying to tear the delicious crispy skin with my teeth.
Okay, so it’s not the most flattering picture, but I thought it was kinda funny, actually. I was a couple bites into my turkey leg, trying to tear the delicious crispy skin with my teeth. I am hard at work, as you can see.
Homemade dark chocolate ice cream. This stuff is strong!
Homemade dark chocolate ice cream for dessert. This stuff is strong and kept me up at night because of the caffeine!