Winding Down Summer

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Like a true Californian, I want all the perks of fall time without the weather becoming too much colder. We have some exiting things coming up like : a double date with our friends, an Ohio State football game, and apple picking. I’m looking forward to these events, though still wishing that the warm weather won’t be leaving us.

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Even though I have grown quite fond of the Buckeye state, it is hard for me to reconcile with the impending doom of winter. Earlier in the week, my mom sent me a picture of a shirt that said: “I bake because punching people is frowned upon.” I, of course, laughed… but then I thought a little deeper about it and my love for baking. When the weather changes, I really do go into baking mode, and you can find me in the kitchen almost every day working on a new treat. I always thought that it was because I liked to be by the warm oven while it is cooling off outside. Here is my new theory though, the kitchen is where my expertise in baking collides with irreconcilable mourning of summer.

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I don’t know how or when I will stop longing for sunshine. Of course, I am the one who made the decision to stay out here in Ohio, so there must have been a good reason for leaving California. But like most decisions, we forget why we make the changes we do. We choose to see the past through the most flattering of lenses. Even though I know this, the weather still tugs on my heart strings and makes me question where I live and why I can’t go back to the golden state. So, I bake. I measure, I read recipes, I focus… it is where what I don’t know collides with what I do know.

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My mind is clear when I am in the kitchen. I carefully read instructions, take care when using specific tools, and improve my technique when I can. Baking is some thing that, when you follow the instructions and do the best you can, you will always get a perfect result. In life, [or at least in my own life] the reaction is almost always opposite. You can try your best, do every thing “right” and things may still not work out. I can control the speed on my mixer, but what I can’t control is every element affecting my everyday life. And so, I bake…

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Last week was a blur of trying to get caught up with housework. We all have weeks like that. The one good thing was that I was able to get together with some local moms, and have them over in our new house for some coffee and donuts.
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I had been having a tough week with Cora, the house was a wreck, and I had a friend hurt my feelings. I was a hormonal, emotional wreck. The local community of moms had no idea how I was feeling and yet just their presence, lighthearted conversation and fellowship completely cheered me up. As much as I struggle living outside of the Golden State, those are the moments that remind me why I decided to settle here in the first place.

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In other news, Cora is basically crawling. She can army crawl like a banshee, and can crawl short distances on her knees. Physically, she is so far ahead of where Sophie was at this age. She impresses us every day! Who knows what God has in store for a girl with her determination…

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One of the cons of such determination is that it makes her a fighter against every thing. We have had to resort to “crying it out” with her at nap and bed time. Sophie was easily soothed by my voice or my touch; Cora screams whether she is being held or left in a crib. Crying it out allows her to work through her tantrum and gives me the permission to separate myself from her fits. It helps me to calm down and not take her screaming rage personally. In fact, I would even go so far as to say the CIO method has made me more patient and loving toward her. We let her cry in 10 minute increments before going in to pat her on the back for a few minutes.  We repeat the cycle until she falls asleep. The longest she has cried is 50 minutes, but it has gotten to be less and less time the more we have practiced letting her cry it out.
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When she is awake she is such a happy, charismatic kid! There are many families in our little community who have kids around her and Sophie’s age, so I can’t wait to strengthen some of my own relationships with other moms, which will hopefully lead to solid friendships for my kids.

How do you expand your network of local parents?

Plum Upside Down Cake

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You know when you want to have a cheat meal without really cheating? That was the predicament I was in yesterday, when I desperately wanted to bake some thing in celebration of mine and J’s anniversary without totally ruining the liver cleanse I’m doing with my nutritionist. I still had a few “cheat” ingredients that don’t completely fit into my cleanse [hence, me calling it a “cheat”] but this recipe is 100% Paleo and delicious!

I got the recipe from Paleomg.com which is a fantastic resource for delicious clean food for every occasion. She uses peaches, but all I had on hand were plums. It was still delicious, and dare I say I may even prefer the plumbs! There were a few other modifications I used that I will highlight below.

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For the Plum topping:

  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 3 plums, halved and sliced
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
For the batter:
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • ½ cups tapioca flour
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon powdered ginger
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs at room temperature, whisked
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 3 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • ½ cup almond milk (unsweetened)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium sauce pan, combine the coconut oil and sugar until sugar dissolves, then toss the plums in the sugar mixture until they are soft. Set plums aside to cool. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients for your cake batter. In a medium bowl, whisk together all your wet ingredients until the sugar has dissolved. Mix both wet and dry ingredients together. In a round cake pan, spray with coconut oil and lie down a piece of parchment paper. Carefully arrange your plums on the bottom, then pour the cake batter on top, smoothing evenly with a spatula. Bake for 35 minutes, then check on the cake. The top should have a brown crust beginning to form. Leave in the oven for 10 more minutes if it does not seem finished. Let cool for 10 minutes before flipping over your cake to reveal the plum topping! Enjoy.

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Yes, I made a small version for myself… for taste testing purposes! Have a good weekend, y’all!

Honey Garlic Chicken

 

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This is the easiest dinner ever, yintz! I put all the ingredients in a bag ahead of time, before Cora was born, so that I had it on hand for a night when I didn’t know what to cook. The best part of this recipe, is that it actually doesn’t require you to do any cooking. You dump these chicken thighs into a crock pot for 6 hours, and you’re ready to go!

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It has been tough trying to narrow down Cora’s allergy, and while I think it’s mostly a sensitivity to dairy that upsets her tummy, I have been eating meals free of: wheat, dairy, eggs, fish, soy , and peanuts. It has really limited my options of meal helpers and other processed foods that I used to be able to quickly throw in the microwave as a side to a meal. Luckily, this meal met all my requirements and was also delicious! I paired it with “fried rice” only I substituted the actual rice with quinoa I had leftover from another meal that was in danger of expiring. This chicken is also fantastic with green beans, and while it can be made in the crock pot, it’s also a fantastic stove top recipe.

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So, here’s what you need:

Spray your crock pot with non-stick spray (I used Trader Joe’s coconut oil spray) and lay the chicken thighs on the bottom. Whisk together the rest of the ingredients and pour over the chicken. Put the crock pot on high and cook for 6 hours. SO EASY. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can cook the chicken in a skillet on the stove, and pour the sauce over it once the chicken has cooked thoroughly. This is also a tasty variation!

So tender… ENJOY!

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Guacamole

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This guac is SO good, we made it twice in 3 days. The first time, we shared it with friends over dinner, the next time we hoarded it all for ourselves. So, in honor of our trip to California, I want to share my favorite guacamole recipe with you all. \

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What you need:
-4 avocados
-1/2 c. of onion
-3 Tbs of cilantro
-1 jalapeno
-2 roma tomatos
-1/2 lime
-salt

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Cut avocados in half and carefully remove the pits. Cube the avocado, scoop out of the skin and place in a bowl. Squeeze lime juice from half the lime over the avocado and sprinkle with salt, toss to coat. Smash avocado with fork. Finely chop the rest of the ingredients and fold into the avocado mixture. Serve with tortilla chips! Personally, we put a dollop on top of some piping hot quesadillas. Enjoy!

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Turkey Bacon Burgers with Sweet Apple and Onion

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It’s fall y’all! You should have expected an apple recipe to soon follow my post about our trip to the apple orchards, so here it is! If you think this post may sound familiar, then you could be thinking of my more savory apple turkey burgers, but I promise, this burger I am about to share has a whole new flavor profile. When I say “sweet” and “apple” don’t think of pie, think of barbecue and smoked applewood. While this burger isn’t as savory as my last turkey burger, it’s definitely a fall must-try recipe that I don’t want you to be turned off to. I paired these burgers with this side, except, to tie into the sweet side of the burgers, I added some diced yams in with the rest of my potatoes. SO GOOD.

What you need:
– 1 lb. ground turkey
– 3-4 strips of bacon
– 1 apple peeled and chopped
– 1/4 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
– 1/4 c. bread crumbs [I used glutino’s gluten free panko]
– 1/2 Tbs rosemary
– 2 tsp salt
-2 tsp pepper

In a skillet, start cooking your bacon until the edges begin to curl up. Add your apples and onion to the skillet, and cook until soft. Remove everything from the skillet, leaving in some bacon grease [you’ll use to cook the burgers in later]. Chop up your cooked bacon into tiny pieces and mix together with the apple and onion. In a large bowl, mix together your meat, spices, and bread crumbs. Add 2/3 of your apple-bacon mixture to your meat mixture. Form patties and cook in your bacon skillet.

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When your burgers have cooked, turn to low heat, and top them with the remainder of the apple-bacon mixture and lay a piece of cheese on top to melt. I swear that apple, onion, bacon mix is so good I could’ve eaten it straight from the bowl

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I dressed our burgers with swiss cheese and baby kale, on a toasted bun, smeared with mayo. Feel free to mix and match whatever toppings you want and as always, ENJOY!

Baby Pouch DIY

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I don’t think there is anything wrong with buying pre-made baby food from the store. In fact, there are a lot of organic options nowadays for baby food. Like most other organic things, it’s usually more expensive. Luckily for my baby, my husband and I are slow produce eaters. Yes, we buy the finest organic produce, but we’re human, we’re going to grab for the bacon before we grab for some fruit in the morning. That being said, I really needed to find a way to get my babe to eat more leafy green AND use up all the produce we buy before it spoils.

You can buy reusable pouches online, but some of them come with some kind of filling contraption in order to get the food into the tiny hole at the top of the pouch. If that works for you, great, but I for one rarely use appliances that have more than 2 pieces, so I knew if this was some thing I was going to commit to doing on a weekly basis, it was going to have to be easy.

Hubs and I found these pouches that actually have a wide opening on the bottom of the pouch, so you can easily pour or scoop a puree into them. If you don’t want pouches that open at the bottom [I’ll admit I was skeptical at first] you can always use an icing/piping bag to fill your pouches with puree.

In any case, here’s what you need:
-reusable pouches
-food processor
-2 apples, peeled and chopped
-1.5 cups of spinach
-.25 cup of organic yogurt
-1 Tbs of ground flax [optional]

In a skillet over medium heat, cook the apples and spinach until both are tender. Add to food processor with remaining ingredients, and pulse until everything is smooth. Pour into pouches and refrigerate.

Did I mention the pouches we got can also be stored in the freezer? Like I said…. it’s a solution to using up produce before it goes bad!