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. 

Ginger Molasses Chocolate Chip Cookies

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It’s that time of year when spicy comfort foods start making their way into the kitchen. Although, we’re still having warmer weather than usual, we’ve started having chilly mornings and evenings.

So chilly in fact, that rather than give up our evenings on the back patio, we purchased a fire pit. Now we can enjoy the chilly evenings and extend patio sitting hopefully well into the end of October…maybe even into November if we’re lucky and willing to bundle up.

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I was feeling under the weather Tuesday and Wednesday and didn’t do much but run an errand or two in the morning Wednesday. That tuckered me out so I spent the remainder of the day horizontal on the couch, drinking tons of water and watching movies with the husband. I’m only good for that for about one day unless I’m feeling really terrible. Then I start to feel antsy and the to-do list starts creeping in outweighing the need for rest.

The dough is very sticky and spreads quite a bit while baking.

The dough is very sticky and spreads quite a bit while baking.

Thankfully, once I got up and moving this morning, I realized I was feeling much better. Still clunky, but not nearly enough to endure another horizontal day.

They'll puff in the oven, flatten toward the end of baking time, and then crackle on top.

They’ll puff in the oven, flatten toward the end of baking time, and then crackle on top.

I managed to roast an organic turkey, put the sliced meat in the freezer for sandwiches and turkey pieces in the freezer for soups. Then I wrestled with the carcass and put it in the crockpot for bone broth which will simmer for 24 hours. It’s so good for you, it’s worth the wrestling and once you get it taken apart and into the crockpot, it’s easy peasy from there.

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Once that was done and the dogs and I had filled our tummies on little turkey pieces (and that salty skin of course…SO good), I was craving a cookie…which of course, we didn’t have. The only sweet thing I have in the house is a bag full of dairy free chocolate chips and maybe a bag of prunes. Not liking the sound of prunes as my sweet snack I mustered the energy to bake a quick batch of these fabulous Ginger Molasses Chocolate Chip Cookies.

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A productive and tasty day and not too bad for coming off of a couple of sick days.

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Enjoy!

Lightly crisp on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside.

Lightly crisp on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside.

Ginger Molasses Chocolate Chip Cookies 

This recipe was adapted from gourmandeinthekitchen and is gluten-free, dairy free, and paleo.

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees, makes 15 cookies

1 Cup of Organic Cashew Butter (or any nut butter)

3 Tablespoons of Unsulphered Molasses

2 Organic Eggs

2 1/2 teaspoons of Freshly Grated Ginger (peeled)

3/4 Cup of Coconut Sugar

1/4 Cup of Coconut Flour

1 teaspoon of Baking Soda

1 1/4 teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon of Ground Allspice

1/2 teaspoon of Iodized Sea Salt

2 Grinds of Fresh Pepper

1/2 Cup of Dairy Free Mini Chocolate Chips 

Mix the cashew butter, molasses, eggs, and ginger in a stand mixer until fully combined and smooth. In a medium bowl whisk together the sugar, flour, soda, cinnamon, allspice, sea salt, and pepper. With mixer on low, mix the dry with the wet ingredients just until combined, scrape down sides. Add the chocolate chips and beat on medium high for 10-15 seconds until combined. 

Drop dough by rounded tablespoon onto parchment covered baking sheets. 7-8 per sheet. Bake for 6-8 minutes until edges are just barely beginning to turn golden. Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes and transfer to cooling rack.

Powerhouse Candybars

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These candy bars are packed with protein and all kinds of ingredients that are not only delicious, but extremely good for you.

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They’re simple to make. You know how I am about fussy recipes. I avoid them if I can.

Just make sure you don’t spill your chocolate all over after you’ve weighed it when you’re opening the honey like I did…that added a little extra work for me.

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Chocolate on the floor.

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Don’t be put off by the mixture of ingredients.

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They fit together like best friends.

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Just a small piece will satisfy that sweet craving that hits in mid afternoon. That time of day when you’re looking for that little something to hold you over until dinner.

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A couple spoonfuls before they’re set up won’t hurt you either.

You know, just to taste and make sure they’re good before they go into the fridge…

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When they come out of the fridge they’ll be solid, but not so hard that you can’t very easily enjoy them cold.

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Even my non-nut-loving husband enjoyed them.

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Powerhouse Candy Bars

1 Cup of Organic Cashew Butter

1/3 Cup of Raw Organic Honey

1/4 Cup of Organic Coconut Oil

6 Ounces of 70% Dark Belgian Chocolate, chopped

2 Cups of Organic Unsweetened Coconut Flakes

2 Tablespoons of Organic Dried Cranberries

2 Tablespoons of Organic Dried Tart Cherries

1/4 Cup of Dry Roasted Salted Almonds

2 Tablespoons of Organic Raw Pumpkin Seeds

2 Tablespoons of Organic Chia Seeds

1/2 heaping teaspoon of Organic Turmeric

1 teaspoon of Organic Cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon of Organic Ground Ginger

In a medium saucepan melt the cashew butter, raw honey, and coconut oil. Do not boil. Turn off the heat and add the chopped chocolate. Stir until completely melted. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until fully incorporated. Spoon into the prepared dish, smooth, and refrigerate until partially set, 1-2 hours. Remove from fridge and score into about 1 1/2 to 2 inch squares. Return to the fridge to set completely (4 hours or overnight). Run knife along sides of pan and lift chocolate bars out of pan with parchment paper. Using a sharp butcher knife or large knife, cut into bars. Store in the fridge in an airtight container.

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Stack between a layer of parchment and store in the fridge.

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When In Doubt ~ Go Flourless

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Are you as unimpressed with grain free living as I am?

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Do you just want to make a quick batch of fresh cookies after dinner that doesn’t require 12 different ingredients and the unsettling chance that no one will like them?

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Well then, flourless cookies are a safe bet. I’ve never been disappointed in a flourless cookie.

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They’re simple, I mean super simple.

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They don’t require fussy flours, a ton of your time, or major cleanup. You’ll have your sweet tooth satisfied and everyone will love them.

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You can use any type of nut butter you love and add any kind of chocolate, dried fruit, or anything else that tickles your fancy and they will still be simple and deliciously satisfying.

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Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 Cup of Organic Crunchy Peanut Butter (stir it first  if the oil is at the top)

1/4 Cup of Raw Organic Honey

1 Organic Egg

1/2 teaspoon of Baking Soda

1/4 teaspoon of Iodized Sea Salt

1/2 Cup of Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips or Dark Chocolate chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl stir all ingredients except the chips until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips. Spoon by heaping Tablespoon onto parchment and bake for 8-9 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool and set  for 10 minutes. Makes about 12.

Simple Chicken Dinner & A Fabulous Fallen Cake

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Simple is my middle name these days. I used to just relish working on recipes that had a gazillion steps and were a labor of love to create.

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Now, I still aim for fabulous and crave fantastic, but the first thought on my mind is “simple”.

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Something simple that won’t take me hours to make, where the cleanup won’t exhaust me, that really anyone with basic cooking skills can make, and still have it be delicious and not taste or look simple.

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Both the chicken dish and the spicy cauliflower and broccoli dish are extremely easy with very few ingredients.

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The dinner had a prep time of 20 minutes and cook time of about 35 minutes.

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Delicious, simple, fantastic.

The chicken has amazing layers of flavor. The onion, garlic, and sundried tomatoes work perfectly together. Distinct flavors, but not so much that they overpower the chicken. The spicy cauliflower and broccoli has just enough spice to contrast the sweetness of the cauliflower but not too much heat to take away from the flavors of the chicken.

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The not so fantastic part? Enjoying it on the patio overlooking our dirt back yard. 

Yep.

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Landscaping was supposed to start Tuesday, now it’s Friday…they “think” they’ll be able to start the sprinkler system on Monday then it will take “about” 10 days to complete all the landscaping. At this point, I’m convinced that the majority of construction and landscape laborers live in an alternate universe where time is of no consequence.

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As many of you already know I’m doing a grain free trial run. Baking grain free has been a challenge to say the least. So far I haven’t been impressed with even one bread recipe I’ve tried. But I’ll save that post for later.

For now we’ll discuss the flourless fallen cake.

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I tweaked the recipe a bit like I said I would. Added more chocolate and a bit more coconut oil. Also baked it in a regular sized cake pan rather than two tart pans. Turned out much more moist and now has the perfect balance of chocolate. However, with the fear of over cooking it and having it be too dry, I believe I may have under cooked it just a touch. It looked wonderful coming out of the oven…and then.

You may be wondering why I’m calling it fabulous… Of course I didn’t know it was fabulous when I was taking pictures of it. So I took my shots and then set it aside and ignored it while it cooled.

I’ve seen tons of recipes on Pinterest for Paleo frosting made with avocado. So I found one that looked promising from Gourmet Innovations and tweaked it to suit my needs.

Behold, the Fabulous Fallen Cake.

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Amazingly enough….FABULOUS in every way.

Even the avocado frosting. Not weird at all.

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Both the cake and the frosting are very rich but in a light and airy way. The cake was perfectly moist and now I’m convinced that the fallen aspect is no big deal and just gives it rustic character.

I like rustic character.

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Fabulous Fallen Cake

*Instructions in bold are what have been updated from my previous recipe

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooling time: 1 hour

Cook time: 34 minutes (Maybe add another 5…)

(Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cakes)

4 Tablespoons of Raw Unrefined Organic Coconut Oil

8 ounces of 70%  Dark Belgian Chocolate, chopped (or Enjoy Life chips)

6 Large Organic Eggs, yolks and whites separated

1 Cup of Organic Coconut Sugar Crystals

1 teaspoon of Instant Coffee or Espresso Powder (decaf is fine!)

2 Pinches of Iodized Sea Salt (1 for the chocolate mixture and 1 for the egg whites)

2 teaspoons of Pure Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees (I use convection). Line the bottom of one 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper and rub the paper and pans with coconut oil or spray with coconut oil. Place the 4 Tablespoons of coconut oil and chopped chocolate in a small glass bowl over a steaming pan of hot water. Stir until combined and fully melted. 

Remove bowl from steaming pan, wipe bottom of bowl with a towel to avoid any water dripping into the chocolate. Set aside. In the bowl of your mixer, beat the egg yolks and 1/2 cup of coconut sugar crystals on medium high until thick and fluffy and crystals have dissolved completely.  Add the instant coffee or espresso powder, salt, and beat until combined and coffee has dissolved. Add the vanilla and slowly drizzle the melted chocolate mixture in and beat for about 1 minute until combined.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites and a pinch of salt until foamy. Increase beating to high and slowly add the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar crystals in small batches. Continue beating on high until stiff peak (close to 5 minutes). Gently fold the egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture. Pour batter evenly in one 9 inch pan. 

Bake for 34 minutes, remove and cool completely on baking rack.

Chocolate Avocado Frosting

Prep time: 3-5 minutes

Mix time: 5 minutes

(Adapted from Gourmet Innovations)

1 Organic Avocado, pitted & scooped out

1/4 Cup of Organic Cocoa Powder

2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of Pure Maple Syrup

1 teaspoon of Organic Coconut Sugar Crystals

1 Tablespoon of Dairy Free Butter

Place all ingredients into a food processor. Process until smooth and fluffy, scraping down sides several times. 

Frost cake when it is completely cooled. After serving, store lightly covered in fridge. 

Simple Chicken Dinner

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 35 minutes

5-6 Organic Boneless, Skinless, Chicken Thighs

1 Organic Medium Onion, peeled and sliced thinly

2 Organic Cloves of Garlic, peeled & pressed or shredded over chicken

About 1 teaspoon of Organic Dried Thyme

3 Sun Dried Tomatoes In Oil, chopped

Paprika

Sea Salt

Organic Olive Oil

Place chicken thighs in an 8×8 baking dish. Layer sliced onion on top, in between, and under thighs. Shred garlic cloves over chicken (I used a zester). Sprinkle the thyme over the chicken, disperse the chopped tomatoes. Sprinkle with a little paprika and sea salt. Drizzle somewhat generously with olive oil.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 35 minutes.

Spicy Cauliflower & Broccoli

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20-25 minutes

About 1 1/2 Cups of Organic Cauliflower, large stalks removed and heads broken into small bite size pieces

About 1 1/2 Cups of Organic Broccoli, large stalks removed and heads broken into small bite size pieces

1/4 of A WHOLE Jalapeno, membrane and seeds intact, diced

Organic Olive Oil

Sea Salt

In a medium saute pan add the cauliflower, broccoli, and jalapeno. Drizzle with olive oil. Saute on Medium Low for about 20-25 minutes until aldente. Season with sea salt. (I added another drizzle of olive oil toward the end of the cooking process).

Firemen & a Fabulous Dessert

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We had a visit from the fire department on Tuesday morning.

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Our fire alarms started and the automated system was saying, “fire, fire, fire”. We searched and searched and couldn’t figure out where this supposed fire was burning. After 25 minutes, some very freaked out dogs, and no sign of fire…the alarms were still blaring. Fearful that there was an electrical fire within a wall somewhere in the house I made a call to the fire department after calling the construction supervisor of our neighborhood to see if he had any ideas.

Dairy Free Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Base with Coconut Milk & Maple Syrup

Dairy Free Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Base with Coconut Milk & Maple Syrup

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The fire department of course told me to call 911. Which I felt uncomfortable doing because there wasn’t a fire, but did it anyway. Meanwhile, the construction supervisor showed up and began removing all of the alarms one by one. In every single room and hallway.

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The noise was deafening. I’ve never heard fire alarms blare so loudly.

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We’ll certainly never sleep through them if we have a fire in the middle of the night. In fact, the people in the town next to us won’t either. Dogs were moved to the garage where there aren’t any fire alarms. (I made a mental note of that fact.)  Abigail rested quietly on her dog bed in Tony’s “man cave” area of the garage while Romeo hid behind the truck, shaking like it was the end of the world.

The Beginnings of a Honey & Coconut Milk Caramel Sauce

The Beginnings of a Honey & Coconut Milk Caramel Sauce

So the fireman arrived. Extremely friendly and very good looking as all firemen are. Of course we had just returned from walking the dogs and I was dressed in exercise clothing, sweaty, and didn’t have a stitch of makeup on. They searched high and low and used some fancy equipment to test for hot spots in the walls, smoke, and any sign of gas leakage.

Nothing.

A Low Boiling For 7 Minutes.

A Low Boiling For 7 Minutes.

The construction superintendent assured us his electrician would be here at 1:00 PM and then he exited the house as quickly as he came to probably try to recover what was left of his hearing.

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The firemen assured us there wasn’t anything fishy going on. And then they were off to battle real emergencies. We were left wondering if our system really works, and pondering questions like, “how safe are we really?”

  But at least it was quiet again.

Sitting Out At Room Temperature Until Cooled.

Sitting Out At Room Temperature Until Cooled.

Well, 1:00 PM rolled around, then 2:00, then 3:30, then 4:30. I’m sensing a pattern in this neighborhood with the “construction” people and their inability to look at their watches. So I called the construction superintendent and left him a voicemail to let him know that his electrician never showed up.

After A Night of Refrigeration. Glorious!!

After A Night of Refrigeration. Glorious!!

He returned my call to let me know he had sent a text to my husband two and half hours earlier to let him know it would need to be rescheduled to Wednesday morning. My husband was upstairs in his office. Of course he didn’t let me know about the text until 2 1/2 hours later…right after I called the construction superintendent in my mother voice. I wondered quietly to myself how they get through life with such a glaring lack of communication skills.

I Really Wanted Fluted Edges So Baked The Cake In A Tart Pan. The Half Full One Will Be Saved For Non-Guests Only and Late Night Snacks.

I Really Wanted Fluted Edges So Baked The Cake In A Tart Pan. The Half Full One Will Be Saved For Non-Guests Only and Late Night Snacks.

So along comes Wednesday, which was my 46th birthday and the reason for the fabulous dessert. The electrician showed up in the morning, late of course, but he did show up. And as I had guessed, after checking all of the alarms and the electrical, had absolutely no clue as to why they went off the day before.

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Then he actually asked me for the fire alarm manual. Which he then read out loud to us along with 1,000 meanings as to why they flash a red light every 30 seconds, randomly, or continually and when the green light is going to be on and why, and how to reset them….and on and on and on.

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At that point I had checked out. I had enough of late people and no answers and was annoyed quite frankly by the very presence of multiple men who don’t know what they are doing.

A Taste Test of The Half Full Cake.

A Taste Test of The Half Full Cake.

So as I stood there in physical form, my brain had checked out and instead of listening to a grown man read me instructions that I could easily read myself, I sent thank you notes on Facebook to people who were wishing me a happy birthday. Smart phones and Facebook…the all natural relaxation remedy. Amen.

I Placed The Cake in A Cake Dish To Steam To Assure It Would Remain Moist.

After cooling for 15 minutes, I Placed The Cake in A Cake Dish To Steam To Assure It Would Remain Moist.

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 So the electrician left and we had no answers as usual.

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We moved on to enjoy a very pleasant birthday lunch with my mother in law and our son. I made simple chicken and vegetable kabobs and a coleslaw salad. We finished with a flourless cake, coconut milk ice cream, and an impressive dairy free caramel sauce made with organic raw honey.

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Romeo had been ill all day (intestinally) and we figured it was from the stress of the alarms the prior day, considering flies and bees will send him running for cover. But by afternoon, it hadn’t stopped. And then vomiting and panting began. At 5 minutes to 5:00 I called the vet to see what to do. They were closing in 5 minutes and said we needed to take him to the emergency vet on the other side of town because the combination of diarrhea, vomiting, and panting is serious business. So off Brandon and I went. Tony had to submit some paperwork for something or other to someone so he didn’t accompany us.

Absolutely Fabulous Vanilla Bean Coconut Milk Ice Cream.

Absolutely Fabulous Vanilla Bean Coconut Milk Ice Cream.

The vet visit turned out fine, nothing horrible thank God… besides the bill of course. $700.00 for blood work and x-rays to make sure nothing of extreme emergency was going on. The doctor said that Romeo’s blood work was SO fantastic that he actually had never seen test results so great. They gave him an anti nausea injection, an antibiotic injection, sent us home with antibiotic pills and recommend ice chips and water for the rest of the night. They also had no answers and figured that he had “eaten or drank something on our walk the previous day that didn’t agree with him”.  After I paid that horrific bill I then felt nauseated and wondered why they didn’t send me home with a prescription included in that price, or at least a cocktail.

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So at 7:30 PM after being up and on my feet since 4:00 AM, I dropped the kiddo off at his house who was kind enough to come with me, even though he had been suffering from a terrible headache all day.

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I then hauled Romeo home, but not before sitting in front of the gate to our neighborhood trying to find the stupid code I had typed in my notes area of my phone. I finally arrived in our garage just in time to have the fact pointed out to me, that the gate opener to the neighborhood was right above my head, on the visor in the truck, all along.

Upon walking in the house I was faced with the luncheon mess that hadn’t cleaned itself up and kitchen that needed cleaning.

I cleaned the kitchen and dining room, ate leftover chicken and vegetables for a late dinner in front of my computer, and thanked all of the amazing people on my friends list who had sent me the most heart-felt, loving, birthday notes that made me cry.

I slathered myself in Lavender oil, and went to bed.

I prayed for rest, and thanked God that Romeo wasn’t suffering from anything serious, said my thank yous that our house was still standing and my health is still holding, and finally… that I had made it through another year.

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Flourless Chocolate Cake

A light and airy texture, but not as intense or moist as I would have liked. Still delicious and very good with the ice cream and caramel sauce. Next time I will experiment with more coconut oil and more chocolate.

(Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cakes)

3 Tablespoons of Raw Unrefined Organic Coconut Oil

6 ounces of 70%  Dark Belgian Chocolate, chopped

6 Large Organic Eggs, yokes and whites separated

1 Cup of Organic Coconut Sugar Crystals

1 teaspoon of Instant Coffee or Espresso Powder (decaf is fine!)

A Pinch of Iodized Sea Salt

2 teaspoons of Pure Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees (I use convection). Line the bottoms of 2 tart pans or one 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper and rub the paper and pans with coconut oil. Place the 3 Tablespoons of coconut oil and chopped chocolate in a small glass bowl over a steaming pan of hot water. Stir until combined and fully melted. 

Remove bowl from steaming pan, wipe bottom of bowl with a towel to avoid any water dripping into the chocolate. Set aside. In the bowl of your mixer, beat the egg yolks and 1/2 cup of coconut crystals on medium high until thick and fluffy and crystals have dissolved completely.  Add the instant coffee or espresso powder, salt, and beat until combined and coffee has dissolved. Add the vanilla and slowly drizzle the melted chocolate mixture and beat for about 1 minute until combined.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites and a pinch of salt until foamy. Increase beating to high and slowly add the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar crystals in small batches. Continue beating on high until stiff peak. Gently fold the egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture in multiple batches. I did three. Pour batter evenly in one 9 inch pan or 2 tart pans. 

Bake at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until middle is just set when jiggled. Cool and cover until ready to serve. I warmed ours slightly (15-20 seconds) before topping with ice cream and caramel sauce.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with Coconut Milk & Pure Maple Syrup

So far, this is my favorite dairy free ice cream recipe…and I have tried several. The egg yolks make all the difference!

(Adapted from Against All Grain)

27 ounces of Full Fat Organic BPA Free Coconut Milk

3 Large Vanilla Beans, slit and scraped

1/2 Cup Pure Maple Syrup (Use New Hampshire or Vermont, they’re the best!)

4 Organic Egg Yolks

2 teaspoons of Pure Vanilla Extract

In a cold saucepan add the coconut milk, vanilla pods and scrapings, maple syrup, and egg yolks. Whisk to combine. Heat over medium low, stirring constantly until the mixture coats the back of the spoon, about 10-15 minutes. Do not let boil.

Transfer to a large, shallow dish, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on liquid to prevent condensation and refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours. I always refrigerate over night. When chilled, remove the vanilla pods, pour the liquid into an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. I use the ice cream attachment for my KitchenAid mixer. LOVE it.

When it reaches a thick soft serve consistency, spoon into an airtight container and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the ice cream under the lid to prevent freezer burn. 

Allow the ice cream to sit at room temperature for 10-20 minutes before serving with an ice cream scoop.

Dairy Free Caramel Sauce

This  has a delicious intense honey flavor with the consistency of caramel. Wonderful!

(Adapted from Against All Grain)

1 Cup of Raw Organic Honey

3 Tablespoons of Spectrum Shortening 

1 Cup of Organic BPA Free Full Fat Coconut Milk

1/2 teaspoon of Iodized Sea Salt

Boil the honey on medium heat in a deep saucepan. Simmer for 5-7 minutes swirling the pan occasionally to ensure even browning. Remove from heat and carefully whisk in the shortening, coconut milk, and salt. Return to heat and continue cooking for 15 minutes stirring occasionally to ensure the coconut milk doesn’t scorch on the bottom of the pan. You may need to lower heat slightly.

Pour into a glass container and allow to cool at room temperature, uncovered. Chill in refrigerator over night before serving. Will keep refrigerated for 2 weeks.

*When I checked it in the morning, the honey had slightly separated at the bottom of the glass dish and the caramel sauce seemed too thick. I stirred it thoroughly with a spoon put it back in the fridge for a bit and it turned out fabulous! Hasn’t separated since.

Vegan Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

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Paleo Chocolate Chip Peppermint Ice Cream

Paleo Chocolate Chip Peppermint Ice Cream

I absolutely love cookbooks. Don’t you?

 When I buy a new cookbook, I go through it page by page and place a sticky note on the recipes that interest me. My cookbooks get dog-eared, spilled on, written in. You know…used properly.

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 Against All Grain has a lot of delicious looking and interesting recipes.

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A few days ago I made her banana bread. Yesterday I made a tweaked version of her mint chocolate chip ice cream. SO easy.

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If you don’t have an ice cream maker and you own a Kitchenaid mixer, I would highly recommend the ice cream maker attachment. You pop it in your freezer over night, attach it to the mixer, and in 20 minutes you have soft serve ice cream. Leave it in longer and it will become more solid or you can put the ice cream in your freezer and it will firm up in a couple of hours.

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Paleo/ Vegan Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

1 13.5 ounce can of full fat coconut milk

1/2 Cup of organic raw honey

2 Cups of  organic unsweetened almond milk

1 1/4 teaspoons of pure peppermint extract

1/2 Cup of ripe organic avocado

1 Tablespoon of melted organic unrefined coconut oil

3/4 Cup of Enjoy Life chocolate chips (you can also use chopped dark chocolate)

Measure the coconut milk into a small saucepan and heat until bubbles form around the perimeter of the pan. Remove from heat and whisk in the honey. Stir in the almond milk and the peppermint extract. Pour into a bowl and place in the refrigerator to chill for 4 hours.

Pour the chilled mixture into a blender and add the avocado, blend until smooth. Pour in an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. When it reaches a soft serve consistency (or a bit thicker), stir in the chocolate chips, spoon into a freezer safe container and freeze for about two hours. If you’re going to eat it later, let it defrost in the fridge for 1 hour before serving.

Look at the sunrise this morning. Pretty neat coming over that hill. Bright orange though because there’s also a fire in the mountains nearby. Right now it’s not threatening any houses, let’s hope it stays that way.

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Notice anything else? Besides the clouds of dirt billowing up behind the dogs….

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You guessed it. The fence guys didn’t show up yesterday. After a kind but direct phone call to them this morning, I’ve been told they’ll arrive this afternoon. We’ll see.

Luckily I had other things to occupy my mind and hands instead of fuming over the fence last night. I made the ice cream and then I potted and added some tall plants with the help of our son, to the “formal” living room and several other plants around the house. I put formal in parenthesis because we are anything but formal. Ha. We like to be relaxed and comfortable.

So much more cozy with the addition of more greenery. I read online that a minimum of 15 plants are required for optimal house air health. We have far exceeded that amount, so bring on the healthy air!

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When we looked at this house (several times before deciding to buy it), I was concerned about all of the dark colors. Dark floors, cabinets, doors and moldings, carpet, counter tops, tile, bathroom counters, etc. It’s a big difference from the bright and lightly colored house we had in New Hampshire.

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But now that we’re getting settled in, I love the rich, dark, colors.

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The open floor plan on this level allows for plenty of light throughout the day. I’m really enjoying the quartz counter tops. So easy to work with and take care of.

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 That’s all for now. I’m feeling like I may need a nap but instead I’m off to figure out something for dinner and maybe work on a good paleo bread recipe.

Hope you’re having a happy Wednesday! See you soon ~ April