Thanksgiving Afterglow

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Ahhh…nothing quite like the holiday afterglow.

The past week has been an absolute whirlwind. All of the photos in this post are courtesy of my phone…so bear with me, I think it’s been dropped 100 too many times.

The dogs are basking in the afterglow as well.

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I threw caution to to the wind this year and decorated for Christmas before Thanksgiving. Perk #10,452 of being an adult. I also got a head start on wrapping gifts. I am on the ball!

This is our Woodland themed tree in the family room. This year we’ll have two trees…but more about that in a bit.

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Romeo had surgery last week to remove a tumor from his cheek. We were so thankful to find out that it was benign.

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I would have to say that Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday meal.

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Lots of dairy free better, sea salt, and Bragg's Organic Sprinkle

An organic turkey from Organic Prairie, pricey but worth every penny. Lots of dairy free butter, sea salt, and Bragg’s Organic Sprinkle

There are few things better than stuffing, mashed potatoes and giblet gravy. Are you pro giblet or anti giblet?

Neck and "parts" simmering in bone broth while the turkey roasts.

Neck and “parts” simmering in bone broth while the turkey roasts.

I admit though, the Thanksgiving meal is my least favorite to prepare. I honestly have no idea how my grandma cooked for so many people for most of my life. Definitely a labor of love. I cooked for 4 people. Only four. By the end of dinner the kitchen looked like I cooked for an army.

Toasted stuffing cubes made with gluten free Udi's bread, olive oil, poultry seasoning, garlic, and sea salt.

Toasted stuffing cubes made with gluten free Udi’s bread, olive oil, poultry seasoning, garlic, and sea salt.

Organic bacon. Because bacon is the star of the stuffing.

Organic bacon. Because bacon is the star of the stuffing.

Brown the bacon first. Remove, and then fry the onion and celery in the bacon fat. Add back in the bacon. To. Die. For. Add to the toasted bread, a generous dollop of dairy free butter, organic broth...and you have an amazing gluten free and dairy free stuffing.

Brown the bacon first. Remove, and then fry the onion and celery in the bacon fat. Add back in the bacon. Add to the toasted bread, a generous dollop of dairy free butter, organic broth…and you have an amazing gluten free and dairy free stuffing.

Fresh organic cranberries, orange juice, orange rind, coconut sugar, and a pinch of ground cloves.

Fresh organic cranberries, orange juice, orange rind, coconut sugar, and a pinch of ground cloves.

It took two days of preparation and cooking, about 45 minutes of eating, and two hours of clean up. Clean up is the point where I think every person who hosts Thanksgiving wishes they had hired kitchen help. Imagine if you had someone there for those two days of prep who did nothing but clean and do dishes. Heavenly!

Organic sweet potatoes or yams...depending on where you're from. Peel, slice, pour a generous amount of melted dairy free butter over them, add pure maple syrup, sea salt, and a generous sprinkle of coconut sugar. Let rest over night. Then back with the turkey until they are soft and candied.

Organic sweet potatoes or yams…depending on where you’re from. Peel, slice, pour a generous amount of melted dairy free butter over them, add pure maple syrup, sea salt, and a generous sprinkle of coconut sugar. Let rest over night. Then bake with the turkey until they are soft and candied.

This is Brittany Angel's Club Angel paleo Coconut Flour Pie crust dough. You'll need to join the club ($14.99) to get the recipe. But believe me, she has amazing recipes and it's worth every penny! She also has all kinds of free recipes on her website that are worth a look see.

This is Brittany Angel’s Club Angel paleo Coconut Flour Pie crust dough. You’ll need to join the club ($14.99) to get the recipe. But believe me, she has amazing recipes and it’s worth every penny! She also has all kinds of free recipes on her website that are worth a look see.

Rolled out like "real" pie dough crust and was very easy to handle.

Rolled out like “real” pie dough crust and was very easy to handle.

I experimented with my pumpkin pie this year. It's a basic pumpkin recipe but I used half hemp milk and half heavy coconut milk and sweetened it with coconut sugar. It turned out very well, but next time I will add an extra egg and possibly just do all coconut milk.

I experimented with my pumpkin pie this year. It’s a basic pumpkin pie recipe but I used half hemp milk and half heavy coconut milk and sweetened it with coconut sugar. It turned out very well, but next time I will add an extra egg and possibly just do all coconut milk. I would also add coconut sugar to the crust.

Topped with whipped full fat coconut milk, organic powdered sugar, and pure vanilla extract.

Topped with whipped full fat coconut milk, organic powdered sugar, and pure vanilla extract.

Sliced organic granny smith apples and wild huckleberries.

Sliced organic granny smith apples and wild huckleberries.

Apples, huckleberries, lemon juice, coconut sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Apples, huckleberries, lemon juice, coconut sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Gluten free organic oats, coconut sugar, sea salt, dairy free butter, and diced walnuts.

Gluten free organic oats, coconut sugar, sea salt, dairy free butter, and diced walnuts.

All in all, Thanksgiving turned out very well.

And of course, the absolute best part was being back in our home town and being able to celebrate and visit with family. And for that, we will be forever thankful.

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On Friday we managed to drag ourselves out of bed, hit Starbuck’s and take the dogs for a walk.

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Still so thankful for the wide open spaces here at home.

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New Hampshire has a dense forested beauty all its own, but boy did we miss the mountains and pine trees of Washington.

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Nothing quite like your fur babies peering over the edge of a cliff to wake you from your turkey fog.

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 Yesterday we woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed ready to head to Camden Ranch and cut tree number two.

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Perk #10,453 of being an adult…you can have as many Christmas trees as you want. Cutting our tree at Camden Ranch was our tradition for many years until we moved to New Hampshire for the past two years. It’s hard to believe that last year we were 3,000 miles from here cutting our Christmas tree in Maine!

Tree #1 is 7.5 feet tall and this tree that Tony is cutting for tree #2 is 11 feet tall!

Tree #1 is 7.5 feet tall and this tree that Tony is cutting for tree #2 is 11 feet tall!

Their property is huge and there are thousands upon thousands of trees to choose from. Different types and sizes.

Their property is huge and there are thousands of trees to choose from. Different types and sizes.

You cut your own tree with saws provided, bring it down to the road...sometimes not an easy feat! Then they tag it, give you a receipt and haul it down to the barn to shake it, bale it, and load it into your vehicle for you.

You cut your own tree with saws provided, bring it down to the road…sometimes not an easy feat when you’re carrying an 11 foot tree! Then they tag it, give you a receipt and haul it down to the barn to shake it, bale it, and load it into your vehicle for you.

They also give you a ride to and from the cutting area if you don't want to walk. There are bonfires at each end to keep you warm.

They also give you a ride to and from the cutting area if you don’t want to walk. There are bonfires at each end to keep you warm.

Tony having a cup of their complimentary hot cider.

Tony having a cup of their complimentary hot cider.

They have a very nice holiday gift shop with all kinds of decorative and edible fun things.

They have a very nice holiday gift shop with all kinds of decorative and edible fun things.

This gal is working on a fresh wreath for our front door. This is in the entrance of the gift shop and smells absolutely amazing.

This gal is working on a fresh wreath for our front door. This is in the entrance of the gift shop and smells absolutely amazing. They were very sweet and helpful with advice on which wreath would look the best with the color of our front door.

Right here in their gorgeous "barn" where they also host all kinds of events like weddings and parties, is where they shake the loose needles out of the trees with a machine and then bale the trees.

Right here in their gorgeous “barn” where they also host all kinds of events like weddings and parties, is where they shake the loose needles out of the trees with a machine and then bale the trees.

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I would say this tree will definitely be a focal point...ha They always end up being so much bigger when you get them in the house.

I would say this tree will definitely be a focal point…ha They always end up being so much bigger when you get them in the house.

 I may regret having two trees when it comes time to put everything away, but for now, they’re gorgeous and add so much Christmas spirit to the house.

This is what 1,950 lights looks like.

This is what 1,950 lights looks like.

After getting the tree arranged and the lights on last night we decided we’d made it to the end of our energy and would finish decorating it today.

I made a quick meal to tide us over until morning and we spent the rest of the evening relaxing in front of the fire watching movies.

Chebe Foccacia Mix (Paleo), vegan pesto, organic tomato paste, goat mozzarella, and goat parmesan.

Chebe Foccacia Mix, vegan pesto, organic tomato paste, Diaya cheddar, goat mozzarella, and goat parmesan.

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And finally, some rest and relaxation. Romeo has made it clear he doesn’t want me getting up and going anywhere.

Lastly, one of the many things I’m thankful for is you! I am thankful you enjoy the blog and are always so kind and supportive!

Hope you have a restful, wonderful, week ahead that is full of blessings and endless reasons to give thanks.

Smoky Honey Habanero Chicken & Apple Cabbage Salad

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The evenings are getting shorter and I’m running out of photography light. I’m going to have to start getting creative. In the past I’ve researched lighting equipment and the “how-to’s” for making my own light boxes. But because I do this blog purely for fun and relaxation, I hate to get too serious about such things.

As we head into winter, you may have to endure some drab photography until I find my lighting sweet spot in this house.

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I bought three types of Spiceologist rubs from our local farmer’s market this summer. Smoky Honey Habanero, Raspberry Chipotle, and Greek Freak.

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I’ve used all but the Raspberry Chipotle, and although I think they are lacking in flavor just on their own, they’re quite good with a few simple additions.

Coat chicken pieces with olive oil, season well with sea salt and Bragg's Organic Sprinkle. Coat both sides of the chicken generously with the Smoky Honey Habanero rub. Wait for the olive oil to absorb it and repeat. Finish with another generous seasoning of sea salt.

Coat chicken pieces with olive oil, season both sides well with sea salt and Bragg’s Organic Sprinkle. Coat both sides of the chicken generously with the Smoky Honey Habanero rub. Wait for the olive oil to absorb it and repeat. Finish with another generous sprinkle of sea salt.

The sweet and tangy salad balanced out the hot and spicy flavors of the chicken very well.

Sliced red cabbage, chopped apple, diced onion, sunflower seeds, and raisins.

Sliced red cabbage, chopped apple, diced red onion, sunflower seeds, and raisins.

1/2 Cup of olive oil mayo, juice of 1 fresh lemon, 2 generous pinches of coconut sugar, several grinds of pepper.

1/2 Cup of olive oil mayo, juice of 1 fresh lemon, 2 generous pinches of coconut sugar, several grinds of pepper. Whisk until combined.

Thinly slice a half a head of red cabbage. Core and chop one small apple, and dice about 2 1/2 Tablespoons of red onion.

Thinly slice a half a head of red cabbage. Core and chop one small apple, and dice about 2 1/2 Tablespoons of red onion. Add it all to a large mixing bowl along with 2 Tablespoons of sunflower seeds, 2 Tablespoons of raisins, and toss well to coat with dressing. Spoon into a serving bowl and chill in refrigerator while chicken grills.

Heat grill to 300 degrees and grill chicken bone side down for 20 minutes.

Heat grill to 300 degrees and grill chicken bone side down for 20 minutes with lid closed.

Move chicken pieces to the middle of the grill skin side down, or wherever your grill is protected from the flame. Increase heat to 350 degrees. Grill for another 10-12 minutes or until skin is crisp.

Move chicken pieces to the middle of the grill skin side down, or wherever your grill is protected from the flame. Increase heat to 350 degrees. Grill for another 10-12 minutes or until skin is crisp. If you get too much flame up, grill with lid open and increase cooking time.

A very simple dinner with amazing flavors. We loved the balance of the hot and spicy chicken with the sweet and tangy salad.

Stuffed & Grilled Pork Tenderloin

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We had a bit of a catastrophe last night…

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We went grocery shopping, then out to dinner.

What’s so horrible about that you might ask?

Well, when we got home our son was here. He and I had purchased a special gift for Tony as a “back to work surprise”.

Still not seeing what is such a catastrophe, right?

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Brandon greeted us at the door and we all went in the house.

I was distracted, and Tony was distracted…and Brandon had no idea we had groceries in the back of the car, so even though he has a young, vibrant brain, he didn’t know to remind us.

We all visited and looked at Tony’s gift and enjoyed our time together.

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Brandon left, I headed to the bathtub with a book, and Tony went to bed to watch a bit of sports.

Not even an inkling that something was amiss.

Nothing.

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At 6:00 AM this morning, it suddenly occurred to me.

Oh no. No, no, no! We didn’t! 

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Yes we did.

I was mortified.

What was even more mortifying was that evidently my short-term memory is shot because I couldn’t even remember what perishables we had purchased as I bolted into the garage. I was thinking, “just vegetables, right??”

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But trust me, it all came screaming back to me as I un-bagged the groceries.

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Organic eggs and several types of organic meat. Along with a not so cheap dairy free cheese.

All thrown into the garbage.

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Normally, I would have probably just put it all in the freezer and not worried about it, minus the eggs of course. But we are having unseasonably hot weather and even our garage stays steamy.

I just couldn’t do it. It was all very warm. 

The last thing we need is food poisoning.

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So off to the store I went… again… to purchase the same perishable items. Scolding myself for being so ridiculously and easily distracted the entire time I was shopping.

I even tattled on myself to the cashier. Who was like 12 of course, and really didn’t see the absolute horror in throwing away very expensive, organic items. 

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Such a waste in so many ways.

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Sigh.

Lesson learned. 

Stuffed & Grilled Pork Tenderloin

1 Pork Tenderloin, organic if you can find it (which more often than not, splits in two loins upon opening)

About 1 Cup of Chopped Organic Spinach

About 1/4 Cup Chopped Organic Red Onion

About 4-5 Organic Crimini Mushrooms, Chopped

2 Large Organic Cloves of Garlic, Diced

About 1/2 Cup of Goat or Sheep’s Milk Cheese Grated or Crumbled, use your favorite

Organic Olive Oil

Himalayan Salt

Freshly Ground Pepper

Bragg’s Organic Sprinkle

Skewers (lots)

Butterfly the tenderloin pieces. Mine ended up being kind of a disaster, they were not cooperative. Chop and dice the vegetables and garlic. Layer on top of the tenderloin. Drizzle with olive oil. Salt and pepper generously. Sprinkle grated cheese on top. If you’re able to roll your tenderloin, roll it closed and secure with the skewers. I wasn’t able to so I just closed mine up like a taco, worked fine. Drizzle with more olive oil, season again generously with salt and pepper and the Bragg seasoning.

Heat grill to 375 degrees and grill until done.  About 10 minutes on each side. I like mine pink (or medium rare), you can grill it longer of course, but not too long!

Remove from grill. Let it rest about 10 minutes and slice. Serve with roasted, seasoned, potatoes.

 

A Walk In The Park & Chocolate Pots De Creme

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How was your weekend? Hopefully it was filled with fun and relaxation. We originally had plans for company but had to cancel because I’ve been feeling under the weather. I couldn’t muster the energy to entertain a house full of people. Typically unlike me because I love that kind of thing, but Lyme Disease changes the rules now and then. I’ve had to learn how to reconsider plans and be honest when I don’t think my energy level is up to certain activities. Doing that without feeling weird and guilty is harder than you would think!

Nishinomiya Japanese Garden ~ Manito Park

Nishinomiya Japanese Garden ~ Manito Park

When I’m having an illness flare up, energy is hard to come by and being bombarded with flu-like symptoms and joint pain make it difficult to visit or do anything but mill around the house and rest. But thankfully, by Sunday I was feeling a little better and wanting  to get out of the house for some fresh air regardless of some lingering symptoms.

The Japanese Gardens symbolize a friendship between our home town and Nishinomiya Japan.

The Japanese Gardens symbolize a friendship between our home town and Nishinomiya Japan.

Lyme flare ups can last anywhere from a couple of days to weeks, to months, and for some people, even years. It’s unsettling, because it’s not like the flu or a cold which you’re pretty much assured will be completely resolved in a week. So when I have a flare up I have to try really hard not to listen to that panicked voice that tries to tell me I could feel like that forever.

There's a huge Koi pond in the middle of the Japanese Gardens.

There’s a huge Koi pond in the middle of the Japanese Gardens.

Luckily, I also have that other voice that has the need to fight it and only give it enough acknowledgement for a very hot shower, some essential oils for nausea, and a potent anti-inflammatory. Maybe some vertigo stretches and possibly a neck massage from my husband. Then I give it the middle finger, and I plan something to do. Even if it’s just that I muster enough energy for a small walk with the dogs to get some fresh air and remind myself there’s a world going on outside of my head.

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People with chronic illnesses often have some level of feeling sick and gross every day. I am in that boat, but I’ve gotten used to it and unless I’m having a major flare up, I can usually get past it and typically no one is the wiser. Once I got up and moving on Sunday and drank one of my favorite healthy smoothies, I had talked myself and my husband into a relaxing and beautiful walk at Manito Park with the dogs.

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I realized when we moved to NH that I took pictures of all kinds of local, interesting, places, but had very rarely done that in our home town! Nothing like moving away for a couple of years to help you to appreciate the beauty in your own backyard.

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I’ve found that a chronic illness also helps you to appreciate all kinds of things that are so easily taken for granted. Even the tiniest of things, like a walk in the park and this beautiful scenery.

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So anyhoo, we’re still having absolutely fantastic weather for September. 89 degrees! I can’t remember a time when we had consistent summer weather throughout September. It’s been a wonderful, long, season. And thoroughly enjoyed I might add, without the horrific bug population we had in New Hampshire.

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At the park we strolled, and looked at flowers, and smelled the roses in the rose garden.

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Without even bending down to smell the roses the entire garden was filled with all types of heady scents.

My iPhone does not do it justice.

My iPhone does not do it justice.

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We strolled, and smelled, and soaked in the late summer sun…and  tried to keep the dogs from chasing squirrels. Romeo at one point didn’t even care that he was on leash. Good thing he has a strong neck and Tony has a strong shoulder. After that episode the extendo leash became a short leash.

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A small outdoor cafe to grab a snack or a bite to eat for lunch.

A small outdoor cafe to grab a snack or a bite to eat for lunch.

The other half of the park which includes an enormous duck pond, picnic areas, and play areas for children was being worked on. The pond was being drained and reinforced. We’ll have to show you pictures of that area next spring.

Here’s a picture of the pond I found online.

Photo courtesy of Sondahl.com

Photo courtesy of Sondahl.com

Even the storage cottages are beautiful.

Even the storage cottages are beautiful.

There’s a large greenhouse which does not allow pets so I couldn’t take you in there on this visit. It’s really something to see and experience. They have all types of flowers and plants and there are even plants that have been there since I was a child. They decorate for the holidays and do seasonal flowers as well. And the smell…just heavenly. I’ll have to make sure to post pictures during the holidays.

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Here’s a peek into the greenhouse I found online.

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A very large perennial and butterfly garden.

A very large perennial and butterfly garden behind the greenhouse.

After the beautiful stroll through the park we went to a local grocery store/deli/cafe in that same are of town for a few groceries and some soothing hot soup and antipasto salad for lunch. We ate in the car because we certainly could not leave the dogs in the car in the heat and we were so hungry I forgot to take pictures of the food! Once home the husband went straight to the television to watch the Seahawk’s and Broncos play and I tried to figure out something easy we could have later for dinner and dessert. Dinner was flat bread pizza made with Chebe Focaccia Mix. So good and easy. I order it by the case on Amazon. They sell GF DF (and they are Paleo), mixes.  If you go to the recipe area on their website you can find all kinds of delicious ideas and ways to tweak their recipes to fit your needs.

Make the mix according to the directions (minus the cheese), add a Tablespoon each of dried oregano, basil, and a couple teaspoons of dried garlic. Roll out flat onto a pizza pan. Pre-bake the crust for 12 minutes, add your favorite toppings, and bake for 20 minutes.

Make the mix according to the directions (minus the cheese), add a Tablespoon each of dried oregano, basil, and a couple teaspoons of dried garlic. Roll out flat onto a pizza pan. Pre-bake the crust for 12 minutes, add your favorite sauce toppings, and bake for 20 minutes. Our toppings were tomato paste with herbs, vegan pesto, Diaya cheddar “cheese”, spinach, crumbled sheep feta, GF DF spicy sausage, red onion, mushrooms, bell pepper, goat mozzarella, and GF DF pepperoni.

Dessert was the most simple chocolate pots de creme ever. I mean seriously, maybe 7 minutes prep and then two hours to set in the fridge.

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I adapted the Food Network’s recipe for Chocolate Pots De Creme to fit my allergen needs. I love how versatile coconut milk can be. This pudding turned out incredibly creamy and rich.

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I was amazed by the whipped coconut cream. This is the first time I’ve used this brand, and it whipped up exactly like regular heavy cow’s cream. In the past when I’ve tried to make coconut whipped cream it’s been a struggle to get it to hold together.

This is a picture of the whipped cream on the 2nd day. It settled only a tiny bit and was still fluffy and creamy. So impressed with it!

This is a picture of the whipped cream on the 2nd day. It settled only a tiny bit and was still fluffy and creamy. So impressed with it!

There’s a lot of little things in life out there waiting to be appreciated that we often take for granted. Even when you’re feeling under the weather it’s possible to focus on the positive and enjoy whatever little adventures the days bring.  I’d say that even though our weekend hadn’t ended up as planned, it still turned out to be enjoyable and delicious.

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Chocolate Pots De Creme

1 -10 ounce Bag of Dairy Free Mini Chocolate Chips (Enjoy Life)

3 Cups of Full Fat Coconut Milk (Native Forest Unsweetened Coconut Milk-Classic)

6 Large Organic Egg Yolks

5 Tablespoons of Coconut Crystals (or granulated sugar or powdered sugar but it won’t be low glycemic)

1/2 teaspoon of instant coffee or espresso granules (I use decaf)

1/4 teaspoon of Sea Salt

Place the chocolate in a blender. Whisk the milk, 3 cups of coconut milk, egg yolks, coconut sugar, coffee granules, and salt in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the spatula and almost boiling, 5 to 6 minutes.

Immediately pour the milk mixture over the chocolate in the blender. Let it sit for about 3-4 minutes. Cover and hold the lid with a thick kitchen towel; blend until combined and smooth. Divide the chocolate mixture among ramekins or small cups and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.

For the Coconut Milk Whipped Cream: 

Two cans of Full Fat Coconut Milk (I used the Native Forest) Refrigerated for at least 2 hours

2-3 teaspoons of Coconut Crystals 

1 1/2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract.

Open the cans of coconut milk carefully and scoop out ONLY the solid coconut at the top of each can into a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Mine went about 1/3 of the way into the can. (Save the coconut water for smoothies!) Turn the mixer on medium high and whip until it starts getting thick. Add the sugar and vanilla and whip until the sugar is melted, maybe one minute or less. I put leftovers in the fridge and it remained set up and hadn’t separated at all the next day when we had a second helping. This is perfect for making ahead when having guests. 

Grilled Salmon & Vegetable Quinoa

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Yes, I know. Quinoa is considered a grain.

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The internet says this, “Quinoa, a species of goosefoot, is a grain crop grown primarily for its edible seeds. It is a pseudocereal rather than a true cereal, as it is not a member of the true grass family.”  

So irritating when they fold your salmon at the store! It tears up the middle of what would have been a perfectly gorgeous filet.

So irritating when they fold your salmon at the store! It tears up the middle of what would have been a perfectly gorgeous filet.

After reading this, I have no bloody idea what quinoa is. (Read in English accent, it will make you laugh.)

Grain, seed, grass, pseudocereal?

Heat your grill to 350 degrees and season salmon with olive oil, garlic powder, dried dill, sea salt, and pepper.

Heat your grill to 350 degrees and season salmon with olive oil, garlic powder, dried dill, sea salt, and pepper. I do mine on foil because I don’t like to have a fishy grill.

Who knows.

All I know is that it made a very tasty bed to lay my salmon on, and I’m thankful for that.

Cook Quinoa according to directions. Typically, one cup of Quinoa to two cups of water or broth.

Cook Quinoa according to directions. Typically, one cup of Quinoa to two cups of water or broth. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes or until the liquid has been soaked up.

After being off of grains for a several weeks now, I’m not entirely convinced that grains were leading to more joint issues for me. I’ve eaten rice twice and had one adverse reaction. Both times were at two different restaurants. The first time was a small Asian restaurant near us that “swears” the dishes I order are gluten free. However, the last two times we’ve eaten there, even prior to going grain free it made me sick. Achey, major migraine headache, etc.

Saute your favorite vegetables in olive oil. I used broccoli, onion, mushrooms, and red bell pepper.

Saute your favorite vegetables in olive oil. I used broccoli, onion, mushrooms, and red bell pepper.

The second time I had grains during my grain free trial was a few days ago at PF Chang’s. We ordered off of their gluten free menu and every- single-thing, was fabulous. I wish I would have taken pictures for you!

When the veggies are aldente, add a heaping couple of handfuls of fresh spinach and grate a clove of garlic over it.

When the veggies are aldente, add a heaping couple of handfuls of fresh spinach and grate a clove of garlic over it.

But long story short, I had zero reaction to that food and ate probably a half a cup of brown rice along with gluten free condiments, seasonings, etc. So I’m guessing the restuarant near us, is not as gluten free as they claim to be.

Toss until it's all wilted.

Toss until it’s all wilted.

Add a few pinches of your favorite seasoning.

Add a few pinches of your favorite seasoning.

The possible silver lining to this food allergy cloud is that I may be able to enter grains (occasionally) back into my diet with no adverse effects.

We’ll see.

Fluff the quinoa with a fork.

Fluff the quinoa with a fork.

Add the quinoa to the vegetable mixture and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the quinoa to the vegetable mixture and season with salt and pepper to taste.

I’ve been very truthful about how I feel about the whole grain free and Paleo “thing”. It’s annoying to say the least. And so far during this grain free trial, I notice the blanched almond flour bothers my joints more than anything. Yesterday we had paleo pasta made with almond flour (I’ll post a review soon) and paleo chocolate chip cookie dough made with almond flour. I felt terrible when I woke up this morning. Swollen, painful, hands and knees, headache, puffy. The typical allergy response to something your body doesn’t care for.

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At first when I went off of the grains I noticed a major difference in joint swelling and pain. However, the main flour I was using was Mama’s All Purpose Almond Flour. There are other ingredients as well, so I just assumed it was the rice and the thought that I may possibly be bothered by almonds never even crossed my mind. I guess I’ll never know for sure until I’m tested. Another thing to go on the “to-do” list when we are properly insured.

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So I’ll start experimenting a little at a time. A healthy, happy, food balance is all I’m looking for.

Aren’t we all!

Veggie & Chicken Goat Cheese Melt

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Last weekend at the farmer’s market just down the road from us, we stumbled upon a local goat’s milk cheesemaker.

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He had lots of samples which is always fantastic and I came away with two different types of goat cheese.

A spreadable garlic dill cheese and a goat mozzarella. We used the goat mozzarella on pizza a few days ago and it was delicious. Melted perfectly without being too moist. I think I even prefer it over buffalo mozzarella.

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I decided to use the garlic dill goat cheese and another cheese I found at our local grocery store for the melts. The garlic dill is incredibly flavorful. The dill really stands out and I love the balance of garlic and salt. The Beemster goat cheese tastes similar to a  light swiss cheese.  Alone, or together, they are fabulous.

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I sliced up an onion, pepper, a couple of mushrooms, chopped a clove of garlic, and sautéed them in olive oil.  When they were almost finished I added three chopped sun-dried tomatoes (in oil) and tossed them around until they melted nicely.

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Then I cut a piece of french bread in half and toasted it under the broiler.

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This is such an easy lunch.

I then spread the garlic dill cheese on the toasted bread, added a layer of sautéed veggies, then a few slices of left over chicken breast.

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Then, another layer of veggies, a drizzle of olive oil on each…

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and a generous amount of grated Beemster cheese.

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Popped it under a 500 degree broiler until the cheese started to bubble…

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Easy as that.

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Fabulous and full of flavor. I served mine with a side of spicy mustard.

Delicious!

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Halibut & Shrimp Tacos

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Years ago when I heard someone mention how delicious the fish tacos were they had eaten at a restaurant downtown, I thought it was the most appalling thing I’d heard in a long while.

Fish tacos? Ugh.

But then…

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I realized I had the form of a traditional taco stuck in my head, with fish. No one would like that.

Fresh Pico with cherry tomatoes, red onion, pineapple, cilantro, garlic, jalapeno, and fresh squeezed lime juice.

Fresh Pico with cherry tomatoes, red onion, pineapple, cilantro, garlic, jalapeno, and fresh squeezed lime juice.

Finally, I was talked into trying them and there was no turning back.

I was hooked.

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Ha, no pun intended.

Fish tacos when made correctly, are bright and light and absolutely full of fresh flavors.

Creamy broccoli slaw with olive oil mayo, apple cider vinegar, freshly ground pepper, and a generous pinch of coconut sugar crystals.

Creamy broccoli slaw with olive oil mayo, apple cider vinegar, freshly ground pepper, and a generous pinch of coconut sugar crystals.

There’s texture and flavor contrasts, which are an absolute must in a fabulous fish and shrimp taco.

A lightly fried corn tortilla brings all of the flavors and textures together.

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Just a couple of seconds in avocado oil  is all it takes. If you’ve never fried corn tortillas, you’re missing out on fabulous comfort food.

They are fried quickly, just a couple of seconds on each side in very hot oil. This leaves them soft and supple and they have such an amazing aroma and flavor. I make traditional tacos like this as well.

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The halibut is steamed so it turns out flaky and gorgeous.

Oil pan with olive oil and top halibut with garlic powder & sea salt.

Oil pan with olive oil and top halibut with garlic powder & sea salt.

Once it was finished steaming, I gave it a good squeeze of fresh lemon.

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The shrimp is sautéed quickly in olive oil and pressed garlic, and finished with fresh parsley.

These were HUGE shrimp. I cleaned them and sliced them down the middle.

These were HUGE shrimp. I cleaned them and sliced them down the middle.

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Once they were done, I sliced them again in half.

Once they were done, I sliced them again in half.

It may look labor intensive, but the entire meal comes together very quickly.

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Make the broccoli slaw and pico first. Then while the shrimp is sauteing and the halibut is steaming, fry your tortillas. Keep a close eye on your shrimp though, it cooks very quickly and you don’t want it being over done. It will cook faster than the halibut.

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When it was just at the done point I quickly removed it from the heat and set it on the back burner while the halibut finished and the tortillas fried.

You can make it as casual or as fancy as you’d like. We went casual. Served it right off the kitchen counter and we ate while watching a movie.

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This is a great summer meal for company as well. Larger quantities of course, but you could make a taco bar on the deck or patio and enjoy an outdoor meal. A Lemon Lime Margarita would be the perfect touch.

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Broccoli Slaw

1 10 oz bag of Organic Broccoli Slaw

About 1/2 Cup of Olive Oil Mayonnaise

About 1/8-1/4 Cup of Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

A Generous Pinch of Organic Coconut Sugar Crystals

Ground Pepper

Whisk the mayo, vinegar, and sugar together. Pour over slaw and add ground pepper. Toss well to coat. Refrigerate.

Pico De Gallo

14 Organic Cherry Tomatoes (I used red and orange), chopped with seeds and juice

About 3 Tablespoons of Organic Red Onion, chopped

1/4 Cup of Fresh Pineapple, chopped

2 Tablespoons of Organic Fresh Cilantro, chopped

1 Large Clove of Organic Garlic, minced

1 Whole Jalapeno, diced (if you don’t like spicy, remove the seeds and membrane before dicing)

Juice of 2 Organic Large Fresh Limes

Pinch of Organic Coconut Sugar Crystals

Add all ingredients to a bowl and toss. Refrigerate.

Fried Corn Tortillas

*Be careful to check the ingredients on the tortillas, I ran across a bag the other day that was a combination of flour and corn and they looked exactly like the plain corn tortillas

1 Package of Corn Tortillas, they are small…I would do 3-4 per person

Avocado Oil

Medium Saute Pan

Tongs

Several Paper Towels

*Hot oi is extremely dangerous and of course, children and pets should be kept out of the kitchen while making the tortillas

Place a plate next to the area where you’re going to be frying. Tear off several layers of paper towels and set aside. (Don’t catch them on fire with the gas flame like I did…Ha.)

Fill the saute pan 1/4 to 1/2 way with the oil. Heat on medium high. When oil is hot, carefully dip the tortilla in the oil and fry for about 2 seconds. Quickly flip the tortilla with the tongs and fry for another 2 seconds. Remove tortilla to paper towel and cover with another paper towel. Repeat until all tortillas are cooked. It’s important to make sure the oil is hot. The tortillas should start frying immediately when they touch the oil.

Allow the oil to cool completely and then dispose. I pour mine in the garbage can…not a good idea to pour it down the sink.

Halibut & Shrimp Tacos

1 lb of Wild Caught Halibut

1 lb of Wild Caught Shrimp, shelled and cleaned

1 Tablespoon of Freshly Chopped Parsley

Garlic Powder

Sea Salt

Olive Oil

2 Cloves of Fresh Garlic, pressed

Fresh Lemon for Squeezing

1/8-1/4 cup of Water

Oil two medium-large skillets with olive oil and heat to medium. Add the shrimp to one and the halibut to the other. Add the pressed garlic to the shrimp and a pinch or two of sea salt. Saute for just a few minutes until the shrimp curls and is pink. While the shrimp is sauteing, sprinkle garlic powder across the top of the halibut and add a pinch or two of sea salt. Add about 1/8 cup of water and cover, steaming for 10 minutes. If you’re using very large shrimp, slice them down the middle as if you were butterflying them but all the way through. After sauteing, cut them again, but in half.