Grain Free Biscuits ~ 2 Ways

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Happy Saturday! This week feels like it kind of went by in a whirlwind. Isn’t it strange how when you’re older life does that?

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Tony and I have been feeling kind of clunky the past two weeks so that has put a damper on things. Then, a couple of days ago I ended up with shingles. I haven’t had them in over a year and was really hoping that virus had gone dormant for good. Lyme Disease taxes the immune system and the reality is that along with it comes other unpleasant things. Throw in a little life stress and it’s the perfect storm.

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I’m not one to lie in bed sick unless I’m very, very, sick. I have a high tolerance for pain and illness. Not that I’m “special” or anything, I think that I’m just used to it, and I cannot stand being cooped up. So I’ve taken epsom salt baths, rested when I needed to, taken ibuprofen, slathered the shingles with Carmex (I’ve found it works great for pain and healing) and got on with life.

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I think that’s important when you have a chronic illness…the getting on with life part. I can choose to not do it, or I can choose to do it sick. So most of the time, I choose to do it sick and try my hardest to keep a positive attitude. Biscuits help.

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My husband was home a few more days than usual this week, which was nice. Thursday afternoon we drove to Steptoe Butte State Park so he could go hang gliding.

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He hasn’t been able to go much in the past two years so it’s important that he keeps up his skills.

Checking the wind speed and gusts.

Checking the wind speed and gusts.

Plus, we pay $5,000 extra per year on his life insurance policy because of the hang gliding. Go ahead and gasp, I did. And then some.

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So the goal is to get enough flights in every year to make it worth that ridiculous clause in his policy, not to mention the expense of the gear.

Takes about 30 minutes to set up the hang glider.

Takes about 30 minutes to set up the hang glider.

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My job is to help stabilize it now and then while he’s setting up so it doesn’t blow away. Then, when he’s ready for take off, I also need to help keep it balanced. The last time (my first time) we did this, it was gusty and the wind kept picking me up off the ground while I was trying to hold the hang glider down. We ended up having to scrap it because it was just too difficult and the weather was dangerous. Very nerve-wracking and made me question his sanity. But this time things went much more smoothly.

High tech wind direction equipment.

High tech wind direction equipment.

One more check for the best place to take off.

One last check for the best place to take off.

 

Suited up and ready. There's a parachute in the pack on his chest in case of an emergency.

Suited up and ready. There’s a parachute in the pack on his chest in case of an emergency.

I was shocked at how fast the wind took him up! I had planned to get step by step photos of his take off but before I knew it he was flying around.

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It wasn’t a too lengthy a flight this time because there wasn’t enough lift, but it was perfect for his first flight of the season. He had a safe landing, which is the important part. We ran out of time and wind for him to make another flight so we headed the hour and a half drive home so he could pack for another flight (on a plane) to LA the next day. He had been feeling wonky all day and unfortunately, some bug really got a hold of him because he was violently ill all night before his flight to California. Being the person he is, he mustered the energy to get on that plane Friday morning, and I don’t know how he did it.

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I would have been terrified I’d have to throw up in front of people.  A lesson for the rest of us…stock up on immune boosting aids when you get on a plane because you never know what someone is bringing on board.

But, one must earn a paycheck, so off he went.

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Romeo and Abigail had great fun running around in the field while Tony packed up the glider.

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I woke to Abigail’s feet in my face and song birds chirping this morning. We’ve been guaranteed to have a beautiful day and the next 10 days are supposed to be in the 60’s. Spring is early this year and you won’t get any complaints about that from me. I thought I would start the morning off with a batch of grain free biscuits. I had such luck with the first batch, I decided to experiment with another one.

And now I’m off to sun myself on the patio. Blue skies and sunshine. Food for the soul!

Grain Free Biscuits

*Makes 4 biscuits

1/2 Cup Coconut Flour

1/8 Cup Arrowroot

1 teaspoon Double Acting Baking Powder

1/8 teaspoon Sea Salt

1 Tablespoon Coconut Sugar

6 Tablespoons Cold Dairy Free Butter

3 Large Eggs, separated

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Measure all the dry ingredients into a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Measure the butter, and work through quickly with your fingers until it has a somewhat large mealy texture.

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 With a mixer and whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites on high until frothy and doubled in size, just before they hit soft peak stage. Add the yolks and whisk until thoroughly combined, about 20 seconds. Pour the egg mixture on top of the flour mixture.

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Fold with a spatula, just until combined.

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 At this point you will say, “April, there’s no way this runny mixture is going to turn into biscuit batter”, but it does. Let it sit for 5 minutes. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper. Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup or scoop to scoop out four biscuits.

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Bake for 17 minutes.

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Allow to cool for 20-30 minutes. They’re a bit fragile when they come out. You could probably safely cut them while warm after 15 minutes.

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Grain Free Frosted Blueberry Orange Biscuits

1 Cup Coconut Flour

1/3 Cup Arrowroot

1/3 Cup Sweet Potato Flour

1/4 Cup Coconut Sugar

1 Tablespoon Double Acting Baking Powder

1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Soda

1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt

1/2 teaspoon Xanthan Gum

1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

3/4 Cup Cold Dairy Free Butter

2 Eggs, separated

Zest of 1 Medium Orange

Juice of 1 Medium Orange (1/4 Cup)

1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

1 1/2 Cups Frozen Blueberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a pie dish with parchment paper and spray (under and over).

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Measure all dry ingredients into a medium bowl and whisk. Measure butter. Work through with fingers quickly until combined and mealy.

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Whisk eggs in a stand mixer until they reach soft peak. Add egg yolks and whisk to combine. Add zest and orange juice.

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Pour we ingredients over dry ingredients. Fold just until combined.

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Quickly fold in frozen blueberries just until combined. The blueberries will stiffen the batter if you take it too slowly.

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With a 1/4 inch scoop, generously scoop 9 biscuits from the batter into the prepared pan starting in the middle.

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Bake for 27 minutes. You may have to lay a piece of tin foil over them the last 10 minutes.

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In a small bowl melt 1 Tablespoon of dairy free butter. Add the juice of 1/2 orange and 1 Cup of corn free powdered sugar. Stir until combined.

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Drizzle over the biscuits once they have cooled for 15 minutes.

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Allow to cool completely before serving.

Grain Free Garlic & Herb Twists

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These are the rolls on day two. I was so excited to eat them I forgot to take the opening shot the night before. Ha!

These are the rolls on day two. I was so excited to eat them I forgot to take the opening shot the night before. Just as delicious day two warmed, with a bit of dairy free butter.

Bread is finally back on our table and it has been a divine experience.

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I was worried there for a while when I took grains out of my diet, but not anymore. These Garlic & Herb Twists are delicious and I’d be willing to bet that 9/10 people wouldn’t have a clue that they are grain free and dairy free.

 They’re soft, have a very nice crumb, a good bounce like a “real” roll,  and are very flavorful with the perfect combination of herbs, sea salt, and olive oil. Most of us find such comfort in a good piece of bread.

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These could be made a variety of different ways with a variety of herbs and add ins. Get creative!

Grain Free Garlic & Herb Twists

*Grain Free *Gluten Free *Dairy Free *High Protein

1/3 Cup Arrowroot

3/4 Cup Sweet Potato Flour

1/2 Cup Coconut Flour

2 teaspoons Xanthan Gum

2 teaspoons Double Acting Baking Powder

1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt

1 1/2 Tablespoons Yeast

2 Tablespoons Coconut Sugar

1/3 Cup Dairy Free Butter

**

3 Eggs Separated

1 1/2 Tablespoons Grass Fed Gelatin

1/2 Cup Cool Water

1 1/2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar

**

1/4 Cup Olive Oil

1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder

1 Tablespoon Dried Oregano

1/2 Tablespoon Dried Basil

1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt

Measure all of the dry ingredients into a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Measure the dairy free butter into the flour mixture and work through with your fingers quickly until it has a large, mealy appearance. Set aside.

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Separate the eggs. Whites into a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, yolks into a small cup or ramekin. Beat the egg whites on high until they are very foamy and at least doubled in size, but not quite to soft peak stage. Add in the yolks and beat until completely combined, just a few seconds.

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Next, in a medium ramekin or in a glass measuring cup, add the 1/2 cup of cool water. Sprinkle the gelatin over the top and whisk in thoroughly with a fork. Microwave for 20 seconds. Set aside.

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Measure the vinegar into the egg mixture and turn the mixer on low. Very slowly drizzle the warmed gelatin mixture into the egg mixture until fully incorporated. Turn off the mixer and switch to the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and beat on medium for about 1 minute. The dough will be soft.

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Next, line a medium baking sheet with parchment and set aside. Flour a board or counter with arrowroot. Scoop dough onto the arrowroot and lightly flour the top. Very lightly knead the dough quickly to form a loaf, it will not get completely smooth, don’t over work it. Cut the loaf into 8 equal pieces.

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Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Working with one piece at a time and a little more arrowroot, lightly and quickly roll the dough into a strip about 6 inches or so and then roll into a spiral. Place on the parchment covered baking sheet and repeat for the remaining 7 pieces.

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Next, in a small bowl mix together the olive oil, garlic, herbs, and salt and set aside.

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Spray a piece of plastic wrap with oil and drape over the unseasoned twists. Drape with a tea towel and place on top of the stove (that is preheating) to rest and rise for 60 minutes.

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Remove the plastic and towel, brush the tops of the twists evenly and generously, using all of the topping. and bake for 15-20 minutes until browned. Don’t overcook!

After the rise.

After the rise.

After seasoning and prior to baking.

After seasoning and prior to baking.

I served mine with zucchini noodles and meatball sauce.

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The zucchini noodles are incredibly easy and delicious! You can go here for more information on the spiralizer.

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For the meatball sauce I made a super simple baked meatball and used 2 jars of gluten-free, organic, spaghetti sauce. 1 pound of ground beef,  egg, a couple of tablespoons of chopped onion, herbs of your choice (I used oregano and basil), garlic powder, and salt and pepper. Mix it all together, form small meatballs and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with  a little more salt, garlic powder, and oregano.

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 Bake them in a preheated 325 degree oven for about 25 minutes and then plop them into a pot with your sauce. Simmer for 2 hours. I also like to season the sauce a little at the end with herbs and a bit of garlic.

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Hot & Spicy Zucchini “Noodles”

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Just when you think there couldn’t possibly be another kitchen gadget you need, something else funky and fun comes along. This gadget isn’t new to the world of course, just to me. Well, relatively new. It’s been sitting in my pantry for 3 months waiting to be used. I think I felt like it was going to be more complicated and messy than it really is, so I kept putting it off for a day I felt like dealing with complicated and messy…which is never. I’m glad I finally decided to take another look and take it off the shelf over the weekend, because it’s not complicated and messy at all and now I’ve got all kinds of ideas dancing through my head.

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Once I decided to seriously do a grain free trial, I noticed lots and lots of the Paleo bloggers were eating zucchini and other vegetable noodles in place of grain noodles. My thought was….they look good and I like vegetables…but how can these people think that a vegetable “tastes just like the real thing” or they would, “rather have these than pasta any day!”

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That’s just crazy talk, because I’ve been down the spaghetti squash “noodle” road and no one is capable of convincing me that stringy stuff is an acceptable replacement for pasta.

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There are very few food things in this world that I would rather have more than a plate full of pasta siting in front of me. But, because of the grain free trial thing, I have to be flexible if I don’t want to lead a sad, noodle free life.

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So while zucchini noodles are not a plate full of soul soothing pasta, I have to admit, they are pretty darn good. I was impressed. And strangely enough, they do actually make a really decent replacement “noodle”.  They’re also fun to make.

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Last weekend Tony was on his annual guys ski trip in Deer Valley so I had four days to do whatever I felt like and to fiddle fart around the house and kitchen. These noodles, the Ginger Garlic Green Beans with Orange Zest, and the Sweet & Spicy Chicken Legs were what I made for Super Bowl Sunday snacks. I love the combination of sweet and spicy together, and because Tony wasn’t here, I could grate ginger into the food to my heart’s content and use cilantro and sweet chili sauce with reckless abandon, which he doesn’t really like. The “noodles” made it fun and I always think it’s exciting to try something new. Luckily the food was delicious because it ended up being the highlight of a very upsetting football game.

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Here’s a couple of things you need to remember when using zucchini for noodles:

1.  You can purchase a Spiralizer on Amazon. They are inexpensive and don’t take up much room. Easy to use, simple to clean.

2.  Zucchini cooks down. I used two medium/small zucchinis which cooked down to about maybe two medium sized servings. If you have a large family and you’re using it as a main dish, you’re going to need a lot of zucchini.

3.  Do not over cook it. I repeat, DO NOT over cook it. A quick saute (5-6 minutes tops) is all it needs. You want it to be slightly aldente, or you’ll end up with mush.

4.  You can peel or not peel, it’s up to you. Some people say that peeled tastes even more like pasta. If it’s peeled, it will cook faster, so keep an eye on it.

And that’s it! SO EASY. And fun.

Hot & Spicy Zucchini “Noodles”

2 Medium Zucchini

About 1/2 Cup Orange Bell Pepper, diced

3 Cloves of Garlic, peeled and minced

1/2 teaspoon of Crushed Red Pepper

2 Green Onions, sliced

1 1/2 Tablespoon of Cilantro, roughly chopped

About 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil

1/2 teaspoon of Sesame Oil

2 Tablespoons of Coconut Aminos (gluten free soy sauce replacement)

1 Tablespoon of Sweet Chili Sauce

sea salt

Saute the bell pepper with the olive oil, sesame oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper just until the bell pepper is aldente. Add the zucchini “noodles”, coconut aminos, and sweet chili sauce and toss until zucchini has softened. Not too soft! Add the green onion and cilantro, a pinch of sea salt, and toss to combine.

Ginger Garlic Green Beans with Orange Zest

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These green beans are so full of flavor and delicious, I ate the entire pound myself in two days! Half for dinner and half for breakfast the next day.

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Ginger Garlic Green Beans with Orange Zest

1 lb of Fresh Green Beans

1 teaspoon of Finely Grated (with a nutmeg grater) Fresh Ginger

1/2 Jalapeno, seeds and membrane removed

2 teaspoons of Orange Zest

2 Cloves of Garlic, minced

Avocado Oil

Sea Salt

Trim ends off of the green beans. Heat about 1 1/2 Tablespoons of avocado oil in a medium skillet on medium-low heat. (The beans will take a while to get to the aldente stage, you don’t want to cook them or the garlic too quickly.) Add the beans, ginger, jalapeno, orange zest, and garlic. Toss frequently while sauteing until aldente, about 15-20 minutes. Season generously with sea salt.

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Simple Cabbage Salad & Roasted Chicken Lunch

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Once you really focus on cleaning up your diet, it’s very interesting to listen to your body’s cravings. When you remove all the “noise”, like snacking mindlessly and eating to satisfy sugar cravings or your mood, you can hear your body telling you what it really needs. May sound like hocus pocus, but I swear it’s true. Lately for me, it’s cruciferous vegetables, coconut milk kefir, bone broth, and the activated nuts and seeds I made last week.

 I took all grains, legumes, potatoes, eggs, refined sugar, goat and sheep cheese, nuts, and seeds out of my diet a few weeks ago and have recently been adding things in one at a time over several days to see how my body reacts.

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I’m not following any one diet necessarily, other than strictly abstaining from dairy and gluten of course, because I already know I’m allergic to those. I’ve been focusing on getting a minimum of 6 cups of organic colorful vegetables per day, increasing my protein, and increasing the healthy fats like coconut oil, avocado oil, and olive oil. Basically, just trying to eat an extremely nutrient dense diet whenever I can.

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A bit restrictive yes, but when I really feel like eating something on that list (within reason), I do. The downside, or the upside I guess depending on how you look at it, is that now when I do that, I know exactly what foods my body doesn’t like. Before the “extreme clean” of my diet, I was eating those foods a few times a week. When you eat foods that your body is sensitive to on a regular basis and cannot process correctly, there’s no down time for you to understand the signals you’re being sent. Now those signals are blatant. Think of it like this: a clear bowl of fresh water (your clean diet) that you’ve just squeezed a drop of red dye (a re-introduced food) into. If the bowl was full of murky water, the dye would still have an impact, but how would you be able to determine what size of an impact when your body is already struggling to get the “water” clean?

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White potatoes make me swell within an hour, goat cheese gave me a horrible migraine, refined sugar makes my heart pound uncomfortably, makes my ears ring worse and dramatically increases joint pain. I can no longer tolerate nuts and seeds that haven’t been activated. Eggs seem to be OK I think (thank goodness!!). The jury is still out on gluten free grains and seed flours. Buckwheat and quinoa seem to be the friendliest. Digestive enzymes help. Even Paleo breads if I eat them too often cause an increase in joint pain and make me feel sluggish. My body prefers arrowroot over tapioca. I miss rice, but am waiting one more week to give it a try. I would have never been able to root through these symptoms had I not eliminated them for a while and then re-introduced them.

It may seem like a hassle, or a lot of work to do an “extreme clean” of your diet. And I’m not going to lie, you have to be pretty diligent. Truthfully, if I wasn’t having health issues with the Lyme Disease, I would have less motivation to really look at my diet. For me, my diet has a massive impact on how I feel on a daily basis. Trying to avoid the things my body struggles with, allows for easier handling of the LD symptoms and a more enjoyable life for me and everyone around me.

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I can promise you that working hard toward a healthy body and lifestyle whether you have a chronic illness or not is well worth the hassle. The hassle fades quickly and being diligent about your diet becomes a lifestyle choice. You won’t regret it. Understanding the link between how you feel and what you eat is huge. It can determine how you feel physically and emotionally and by understanding that and being mindful of it, you can greatly improve the quality of your life.

Simple Cabbage Salad & Roasted Chicken Lunch

*3-4 Servings

Cabbage Salad:

3 1/2 Cups of Cabbage, sliced thinly (your choice, you could even do greens)

1/4 Cup of Red Onion, sliced very thinly

Juice of 2 Fresh Limes

6 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 Tablespoons of Coconut Sugar (or Pure Maple Syrup)

A Pinch of Ground Ginger (Or 1/4 teaspoon of freshly grated)

In a medium bowl whisk the lime juice, EVOO, coconut sugar and ginger until combined and coconut sugar is dissolved, set aside. Slice the cabbage and red onion into a medium bowl and toss with dressing. Refrigerate while chicken is roasting. Toss again before serving.

For the Chicken:

Preheat oven to 350

2 Chicken Breasts

Seasoning of Choice (I used EVOO, sea salt, garlic powder and Bragg’s Organic Sprinkle)

Roast for 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for 10 minutes. Slice and serve with the cabbage salad.

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.