Latte’s I Love (balancing bliss and facing the truth).

I love, love, LOVE coffee. I know, so do you. Who doesn’t (probably people with a strange genetic make-up that I certainly can’t relate to. At least I try, anyways 😏). Moving forward– my first cup wasn’t during, shall we say, a delightful time in my life. It was at my paternal grandmother’s funeral.

My mamaw– I was 6 when she died. The day my mother told me was the worst day of my young life. My mom sank to her knees as she placed her hands on either side of me and told me mamaw wasn’t going to wake up. I started crying so hard it felt like I’d split a hole through my throat– I was drowning and I was on fire. I stayed on the ocean blue carpet that floored my bedroom, unflinching– on my side for hours.

I remember being in the funeral home. I remember the white sailor’s blouse I was wearing under my candy apple red, floral printed, dress. I remember walking around between rooms and admiring the old wooden furniture. In the main foyer there was an extravagant buffet table. It was decorated with wax plants and styrofoam cups (the nice kind, with waves on them). There were stir sticks in fancy glass coffee cups with swoopy handles, sugar cubes in small white bowls with little tongs for picking, and best of all, in the center, was in an enormous clawfoot silver percolator. It sat atop white paper doilies atop actual lace doilies. It was the most magnificent thing I’d ever seen.

I don’t remember who intervened– I lost time as I doe-eyed-slack-jawed floated to the black shiney handle before me.

Someone must have– because next thing I knew I was ogling sugar cubes as I added powdered cream to my white, styrofoam cup (👊). Moments later my mother came and took me by the hand. I wanted to bring my coffee but she made me set it down. I don’t remember what happened next, but I know we walked into a large room where my eyes immediately fixed on my father kneeling at the front in front of a large, shiney, I think, black box. I held my mother’s hand loosely and said nothing. We walked to the front row and sat down behind him. It was the first time I saw my father cry. He was wearing a brown sports coat– a really nice one. He was so still. He had his head on his hands and he was bowing. I can only assume was praying. When he went to rise, he began to shake– ever so slightly– and then dropped his forehead to his right hand and then he cried. My uncle Dave (or maybe Mark?) appeared by his side and helped him rise. Next to me was my great uncle Joe. He held his hanky and, he too, was crying ( I sat next to him almost 20 years later at my Pappy’s funeral — he was on my left side that time). I don’t remember my Grandfather that day.

I brought a purple brooch with me that I wanted to leave in her coffin. I don’t know why I didn’t get to leave it– but I didn’t. I found it in my coat pocket, in it’s starburst acrylic case, at some point after the service. I was devastated. It was all I could think about. I didn’t send the brooch with her. It was my final gift. How could I have been so selfish. I shouldn’t have had that coffee. I wouldn’t have upset mother and I would’ve remembered to place the brooch at her side. Did I mention I was 6 when this happened? yeah– those were my 6 year old thoughts. I’m a freak.😳😂

Her first name is my middle. I love hearing my first and then middle name called. It seldom happens, but when it does, all seems right in the moment.

Balance is an important part of life. Speaking truthfully about pain, about joy, about discomfort, and about ease, it essential to living mindfully. You can do the same thing over and over and expect stay stuck, or, you can grow and maybe learn. Eventually I had to learn sometimes certain feelings are linked to inexplicable truths. I learned that it wasn’t forgetting to place the brooch in the coffin that upset me. I had realized every time I saw the brooch I would remember her–remember she’s gone, and then get sad all over again. Eventually I had to let it go (after I threw a tempter tantrum when I learned about the invention of nicorette a few years too late–maybe then she would’ve quit! Not the case– cancer starts with more than just smoking cigarettes. Read up.) Anyways–  I’m so grateful I knew her.

So! In conclusion, learning things like, OH! I can’t have coffee every single day, doesn’t bum me out. I know it could be much, much worse. I could lose the power to choose.

I went coffee free for 30 days. It was v difficult– at first. I learned, however, to look forward to my #fatisfying morning (or late night) lattes– cause hello caffeine free lattes are a thing!

The following recipes have three elements. Full on flavor. Satisfying healthy fats. AND NO ADDED SUGAR (hallelujah)!!!

I hope you can choose one to try for when you’re feeling up down or in between. I won’t tell you exactly how to use each, I want you to think for yourself, but I will tell you the features and benefits of each beverage so you can make an informed choice.

Dairy, Nut, and Seed Milks

You’ll want a 1/3 cup rich and creamy yum, yum of your choice. I have experimented with and enjoyed using 1. Pastured whole milk 2. Organic half and half 3. Unsweetened Organic Almond (my go to) 4. Hemp (fave in a matcha latte) 5. Soy (not gonna lie, not for me today) 6. Banana Milk (it’s a thing) 7. Coconut milk (full fat, canned is my jam) and 7. Buttermilk (relax, for cooking and marinades, not lattes). I had decided almond milk is what’s best for me if I’m going to make a latte. That doesn’t mean I’ll pass on other options on any given day– it just means 1 part frothed almond milk to 3 parts hot water is how I like my lattes on the reg. Experiment– do you.

Fatisfying

Healthy, organic fats to keep you satiated. There are dozens of options- -I’ll list a few I’ve tried, when I like to enjoy them, and why. Anytime I take in fat I try to pair it up with it’s bff –body building protein (or it’s frenemy acid– depending on what I’m doing) to help balance their corresponding effects. Here, we want them to help one another. The two playdate with your insides to deliver the nutrient dense bits to the parts  of you that need them the most (I mean, if you believe in Minding your mitochondria and shit). Yay science.

So–protein! You have Collagen Hydrolysate . It’s a universally adaptable powder. It dissolves into any liquid, at any temp, at any time. Forever on point, it’s the 2001 Britney Spears VMA performance of collagen powders. I like to use it in everything from lattes to full fat greek yogurt parfaits to amping up my P r o t e i n s m o o t h i e s and B u t t e r b r o t h, Collagen Hydrosolate is my jam.

And the skinny on F a t from two experts I’ve grown to trust (once I’ve spoken to most of wikipedia, and of course, in my dreams, this guy).

Yak milk, coconut milk, grass fed butter, MCT oil, olive oil, nut or seed butter, avocado, heavy cream, coconut meat– I could go on forever, baby. Any of them can be used as a base for adding richness and healthy, omega rich fats to lattes (not to mention dreamy, creaminess ❤ ) You’ll want to use anywhere from 1 teaspoon (a lightweight base, good for teas, tonics and broths) to 2 tablespoons (think Bulletproof  C o f f e e more a solid meal). You’ll experiment and learn when to do what. I’ll tell you this, in the morning or at least 1.5 hours before a work out– I’ll do a medium base paired with  high protein. If I do hot yoga early in the morning, I drink TONS of water for an hour then drink equal parts protein and fat. Unless you’re working towards ketosis, I would not recommend an indefinite fat fast.  You need to balance your intake with your activity. I already feel like I’ve said too much–

Flava Faves

I’m on a chai kick these almost springlike (yeah right) days– and while I need to cut back on the caffeine a little since I’ve reintroduced butter coffee to my diet, I still enjoy more tea lattes than I do coffee or espresso. To Make Your Own Chai Do This. You can also experiment with turmeric, vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom, fennel, cayenne, clove, black pepper, raw cacao, essential oils– I could go on and on. Of course the fat you choose and milk will contribute to the flavor profile as well– it’s magical and limitless. Notice what I didn’t add? Sugar. Nough said. Capeesh?

“Okay, great. So how do I make one of these unicorn drinks”

I’m so glad you asked.

Bulletproof Style Coffee with a French Press

ingredients:

16 oz mug or vacuum sealed cup

 

10 oz just boiling water

3 tablespoons excellent coffee (need to order more of this) ground for a press

10-16 oz (I have one of these but the model I have is no longer in production. Yeah, it’s about 8 years old 😳 Silver lining; I trust the brand as far as durability is concerned)

1 tablespoon GFB (grass fed butter) brought to room temperature

1-2 tablespoons MCT oil 

1 scoop of collagen

1 tablespoon full fat coconut milk from a can at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

what to do:

Heat water in a kettle until whistling. Remove from heat.

Add 3 tablespoons of coffee to an 10-16 oz french press.

Add water.

Agitate water with a small whisk for 30-45 seconds. Let rest then repeat.

set a timer for 4 minutes.

To a blender add the remaining 4 ingredients.

Once the timer goes of push down the handle on the press. Pour the coffee in the blender and place the lid on top. Be sure to keep one hand on the lid when to start the blender.

Blend until a medium tan color and creamy consistency, 30-90 seconds.

Pour in a mug, sip, and come alive 😍👊☕️

 

Dirty Chai Latte

Your favorite mug (hopefully it’s heftier than a tea cup)

1 shot of espresso from a maker, stovetop percolator, or machine.

1/2 teaspoon homemade chai spice

1 scoop of collagen

1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

1 teaspoon mct oil or coconut oil

small whisk

8 oz hot water

spoon

1/3 cup milk of choice steamed, frothed, or made warm and foamy in the microwave

what to do:

Place espresso, chai spice, VBP, and oil in your mug. Whisk rigorously for 30-45 seconds or until well incorporated.

Add hot water and stir with a spoon.

Use spoon to add foam to mug. Pour in the remaining milk.

Top with whipped coconut cream and chai spice.

Enjoy.

Nighttime Turmeric Latte

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon chai spice

1/4 teaspoon adaptogen of your choice

a few dashes freshly ground black pepper

8oz milk of choice

small sauce pan

1 teaspoon coconut oil

1 tablespoon full fat canned coconut milk, at room temperature.

1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

2 oz just boiling water (optional)

more black pepper for serving

what to do:

Place first 6 ingredients in saucepan and simmer on med-low heat for 10 minutes, stirring often.

Remove from heat and whisk in coconut oil, coconut milk, VBP for 30-45 seconds. Add hot water to desired consistency/temperature.

Top with black pepper and relax 💆

Matcha Latte

16 oz mug or vacuum sealed cup

1 teaspoon matcha powder

1 scoop of collagen

1/2 teaspoon chai spice

1 teaspoon- 1 tablespoon MCT oil

small whisk

8 oz just boiling water

1/3 cup milk of choice warmed with a steamer, microwave, or frother.

what to do:

Place first 4 ingredients in mug or cup and top with 2 oz hot water. Whisk.

Add remaining water and MCT oil. Whisk.

Top with foam and add remaining milk.

Sip and feel rejuvenated.

Been working on backing up iphoto today– that’s why I’m updating so late. I still have some editing to so to look for the photo journal to be added this week ❤

#livewhatyoulove #dowhatyoulove #butalsosleep 🙏 #guerillawelfare.

Iced Matcha Chai Latte

16-32 oz jar or shaker with lid

2 teaspoons matcha powder (make sure there isn’t any sugar added. Look for 💯% pure matcha powder!)

1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

1/4 teaspoon chai spice

MCT oil (1 teaspoon- 2 tablespoons)

Collagen powder (1 scoop)

2 oz hot water

6-8 ice cubes

1/2 cup milk of choice

what to do:

Place first 5 ingredients in shaker or jar. Top with 2 oz hot water.

Attach the lid and shake vigorously.

Add ice cubes.

Replace lid and shake.

Add almond milk.

Replace lid and shake.

Pour into a glass and enjoyyyyy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Wellbein g ❤

An Ode to Parchment (Spanish Salmon atop Cruciferous Vegetables with Bacon <B) 

Parchment

Featherlite and crisp

You are just as you should be

You cradle my bread

You release it with ease

You fold with care

You look good in twine

You lay like a lady on cookie sheets and plates

And you are as versatile as you are lovely

Parchment, I’m so grateful you’re mine

❤ I really love parchment paper, y’all. IMO, it’s the most handy of the wrapping things a kitchen has to offer (you know, between foil, glad wrap etc.) It bakes. It’s great for portioning meats and veggies. It can be used to make candies, cookies, and quick breads without any mess to clean up. It can be used as last minute gift wrap!

I love parchment.

Moving on: I’ve never actually been to Spain. Based on what I know about the whitewashed, technicolor country– I feel like I’d thrive there.

World cuisine played a huge role in my upbringing. One could say my first  Geography class was taught to me in the kitchen. From an early age– I was drawn to all things West of the Pacific. Mediterranean style cooking, in particular, mystified me. It was at the same time concise and abstract– playing like a finely tuned symphony of old world technique and “ahhhfuhgeddaboudit” attitude. Don’t get me wrong,  If you don’t have flour (be it gluten free or not) you’re not making pasta while on the contrary– if you don’t have anchovies, you can add capers. It’s science and it’s art– finger painting and math. What’s more beautiful than that?
As I began exploring the kitchen as an adult– I quickly learned it was impossible to improvise a classic dish without having established which ingredients or techniques were necessary to its composition vs. what could be modified or replaced. Each component plays a part, yes, but some are more vital than others. For example– What makes porridge “porridge”? Let’s see– you’ll need grains, seeds, or oats, cooking liquid, a pot, a heating element, and a spoon. once everything is in the pot, you turn it to simmer and stir the contents intermittently until a magnificent mush has appeared! With that basic formula, you’re able to produce an array of comforting meals not limited to but including; lemongrass coconut congee with ginger chicken , cinnamon apple oatmeal with vanilla bean creme, and caccio y pepe risotto with wilted greens. It’s incredible, really. You learn a formula, find a flavor to explore, and then expand. Salmon en papillote is one such formula– and it utilizes one of my most favorite (and necessary) kitchen essentials: parchment paper!

Traditionally a french dish,  Salmon en papillote (meaning paper in French) entails cooking salmon in paper (papillote!) with herbs, spices, and fat. Historically this would mean taking a piece of salmon (seasoned with salt and pepper) placing it atop a piece  of parchment paper– roughly the size of a baking dish. Then topping it with lemon, butter, and herbs; think fresh dill, parsley, sage. Next, you’d fold the parchment up and around the fish, securing it with twine or not, and bake it at 375 for 15-20 minutes. The bag acts as a vessel to perfectly steam bake the fish. Also- a time saving dish- You’re seasoning the fish and making a sauce all at once. This technique produces a quick and elegant meal. Unwrap it tableside, and prepare a visual feast followed by olfactory overload– and it only took you 25 minutes! (Dannnnnnng)

Try the aforementioned a few times– It’s truly foolproof

Here is another one for when you’re ready to party.

Spanish Salmon atop Cruciferous Vegetables with Bacon <B

tools:

Parchment paper ❤ ❤ ❤

baking tray

small mixing bowl

large mixing bowl

ingredients:

wild caught salmon filet, preferably sockeye

1 cup frozen cauliflower

1 cup frozen broccoli

3 tablespoons avocado oil

1 tablespoon cumin + 1 teaspoon

1 tablespoon paprika + 1 teaspoon

2 teaspoons Jacobsen Sea Co. sea salt + 1/2 teaspoon

6-8 scallions, chopped

2 pieces of extra crispy baked bacon, no sugar added, uncured, such as Pederson’s

1 inch of a jalapeno pepper, de-seeded and minced

chopped cilantro

lime wedges

1 tsp EVOO

1 tablespoon grass fed butter (such as Vital Farms) at room temp

extra herbs — for garnish

extra jalapeno– for garnish

what to do:

  1. pre-heat the oven to 375
  2. cut the parchment paper into 2– 24 inch sheets and lay them one on top of the other.
  3. steam the broccoli and cauliflower until almost entirely defrosted (internal temp should feel cool to the touch).
  4. place the cruciferous vegetables into the mixing bowl. Toss with avocado oil, cumin, paprika, and sea salt.
  5. place towards the center back half of the parchment.
  6. place a layer of bacon and herbs over the veggies.
  7. place the salmon skin side down in the mixing bowl and rub to distribute remaining spice blend onto skin. Place atop bacon and herbs.
  8. mix EVOO and butter in small mixing bowl until smooth. Add in cumin, paprika, green onion, cilantro, and sea salt. Spread over salmon.
  9.  garnish with remaining bacon and herbs.
  10. Bake for 15-20 minutes depending on preferred done-ness.

to serve:

lime wedges

fresh green onion

fresh cilantro

fresh jalapeno

topo chico

green salad

Happy wellbein   g ❤

All Day Coconut Milk Braised Pork Shoulder with Ginger and Lemon

I love a good Crock Pot recipe.

Who doesn’t? The idea of crossing multiple items off my to-do list while my supper cooks sends me into a cloud nine euphoric state. I have tried, tested (ruined), and critiqued numerous crock pot recipes over the years and in the process, have learned a few truths that preside over the each of the ones I keep coming back to again and again.

Those same truths have allowed me to experiment with creating my own recipes. That’s how I came up with this simple, decadent, Coconut Milk Braised Pork Shoulder. A fusion of beloved Thai flavors and my Texas roots, this is a dish I will be serving friends and family for years to come. you can adjust the seasoning to your preference. I think I may try adding lemongrass or fresh ginger in the future. Some fish sauce would compliment this, as well.

Before we dive in, here are the truths that apply to a dish when it’s going to be cooked in a crock pot.

1. Not everything has to go into the pot at the same time!

Seriously– You can start or roast at 7am, toss in your veggies at noon, and then add the fresh herbs the last 1/2 hour it cooks, around 4:30. This let’s the ingredients break down properly, or on the contrary, keeps them from getting lost in the dish. Like herbs, for example, they don’t turn limp and bitter. They stay vibrant, they brighten the dish.

2. You absolutely should place a folded dish towel under the lid to prevent condensation from gathering, hence, diluting your dish.

Don’t care what kind you use. I recommend a thin, cotton cloth– but that’s just what works for my crock pot. You do you.

3. Save the juice.

In the matter of roasts and braises, don’t dump the juice! You can serve it alongside the dish or with a side of crispy bread. You can chill it in the fridge overnight, in an airtight container, and then skim the fat from the top first thing in the morning. That shizz is liquid to solid to liquid cooking GOLD.

tools:

A trusty slow cooker

Tongs to turn meat intermittently during the braise

a large spoon for basting

a casserole dish

2 forks

ingredients:

3-5 lb pork shoulder with good marbling

1 can full fat coconut milk

1/2 cup low sodium chicken stock (organic, not from concentrate)

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

1 tablespoon sea salt

1 tsp powdered ginger

1 tsp red chili flakes

10-15 peeled whole cloves of garlic, crushed

6 bay leaves

1 bunch fresh basil, cilantro, or parsley stemmed and chopped– Chef’s choice

to serve:

I served this with sliced citrus, chopped green onion, and sliced avocado. You can enjoy it with whatever you’re craving– this shizz is versatile

sideline:

bacon fat fried cauliflower rice

stir fried bell peppers

what to do:

  1. Place all ingredients save your fresh chopped herb of choice into the pot and braise for 7 hours, turning every 2. Baste and redistribute garlic cloves and bay leaves atop meat.
  2. The last 1/2 hour, toss in your fresh herbs and check the braise for seasoning. Add sea salt and cayenne pepper to taste.
  3. Remove pork shoulder from pan and set in a glass baking dish. Allow to rest for at least 15 minutes before shredding with two fork

Serve alongside braising liquid with fresh herbs, sliced lemon or lime, veggies, crusty bread, whatever. And (if you can find it) Aardvark Secret Sauce.

Save your meat and use it throughout the week in stir frys and taco’s. The braising liquid can be strained and stored. The fat can be skimmed and saved for future use (like the fudge recipe I’m going to link to– here in a few weeks), the broth served over cauli-rice, with basmati and veggies, stirred into soup, or mixed into stir frys.

Happy wellbeing ❤

So I have a food blog in 2017

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Happy New Year.

It’s been 7 months since I’ve posted here.

I visit the blog often. I re-read my posts. I tear them apart piece by piece and swear I’m never writing again. Then I read a line or two I agree with and think “That there is pretty good..” Self critique is a never ending Jekyll and Hyde.

I’m in the kitchen 7 days a week. I reimagine recipes, test various techniques, and write about it because it brings me joy. I feed my family and interview them based on their experience because I’m curious. I experiment with pushing the boundaries of my kitchen for no other reason than I’m curious to know what will happen. I maintain a journal and I take out my camera as often as I can. I love to cook. I love to make things pretty. I love to create. Experimentation and design make me feel alive– so tell me;

WHY IS THIS SO HARD?

For me, the new year starts in August– around the time I was born. I’ve never really been a fan of New Year’s or the manufactured resolutions one is expected to make. In fact, the only one I ever heard and agreed with was made by a dear friend of mine many years ago. She resolved to wear more dresses, which I thought was brilliant. Other than that, the idea of setting an arbitrary goal because everyone says I’m supposed to has never much appealed to me.

“Great! Let me feign interest in this thing this time of year because everyone else is doing it.”

Thanks, but no thanks. Holding myself accountable everyday based on measureable results works better for me. Around my birthday has always been the best time for me to  analyze what’s changed, what’s stayed the same, and what could be different.

Last year I set 5 goals (1. Practice 300 days of yoga 2. Get my GED 3. Take an online class 4. Start a food blog 5. Get my passport). So far I’ve made a great deal of progress on (and in some cases already achieved) each of these five goals. The truth is I have a lot to learn. I’m still becoming the person I want to be. It takes honesty. It takes patience. My truth used to scare the shit out of me– but those days are long gone. I’ve grown to embrace who I am and where I want to go. I know it’s okay to move at my own pace. I am grateful to have learned this lesson early on in life. On top of it all I have an amazing support system. My friends and family are terribly encouraging– my boyfriend empowering.

So– Why the fuck am I more discouraged by this blog than I am motivated by it? I made it. It’s alive on the internet. Why can’t I keep up with it. Why do I dread looking at it. Oh wait.. I know this one…

Fear.

Fear is why I avoided the gym in my 20’s. Fear is why I didn’t sing more in high school. Fear is why I never learned to play the guitar, or speak up in meetings. Fear is why I left the world of cosmetology. Fear is why I quit.

Well, I’m through quitting. I’ve whittled down the wood that my world is built upon and I know what matters. I know the difference between when it’s time to quit and when I’m afraid.

This is all new to me. I have no idea what I’m doing. There is a lot to learn. I don’t know when to work on it. I don’t know how it fits into my life or how to ask my boyfriend to sit still so I can take a picture. I don’t know how to stage a shot or what kind of lens I need to invest in for my camera. I don’t know how to use editing software or anything about backend web design. But I can learn if I don’t quit.

I have to keep learning. I have to keep challenging myself. I can’t let

fear

take hold of me.

Art is hard. Breaking the mold seems impossible. Doing something for yourself feels wrong. Where you see value others may see folly– and that is scary.

If you have set a resolution, don’t give in and don’t give up. Don’t let what I’ve said about resolutions being arbitrary scare you. Do you. If you’ve never set a goal, start now. It’s never too late to start doing something different. You can choose who you want to be and when you want to be it. You don’t have to quit.

It isn’t going to be easy and you’re going to face great challenges along the way, but you have to do it. It’s the only way to find true happiness in this broken world– you have to create it.

It’s 2017 and I have a food blog. It doesn’t get a lot of traffic. It hasn’t won any awards. It is simple and it’s free. It may never go anywhere. It may never do anything. But I’m going to learn a lot working on it. I’m going to use it as a vessel to take me someplace new. I’m not going to rely on anyone or anything to get me there. I’m going to do the work and see where it takes me.

I guess there is one thing I’m going to quit today. I’m going to quit letting fear dictate what I want to do and who I want to be. I’m going to let it reside in my conscious mind and I’m going to move past it. I hope if something or someone is holding you back today, you are able to choose to bring it into your conscious and let it go. Quit because you choose to, not because you’re afraid.

〈〈〈

I look forward to sharing more in 2017 than I did before.

〉〉〉

Happy wellbeing ❤

 

 

Good Morning Blueberry Buckwheat Muffins (with Honey Butter Glazed Tops <3)

Phew.

After taking a week off to enjoy time with family–getting back to my routine has been… difficult (and by difficult I mean it’s been a real bitch). I just want to drink wine and be surrounded by the people I love all the time 😥

Then again, I suppose that is what makes the time you share with the people you love (and wine) so magical. They are mindful little treasure troves that remind you why it’s so important to be your best self in life. I digress…

While the fam was in town we took them to our favourite local coffee shop. This place is amazing. They roast their own beans next door to the cafe, they host a slew of local artists and performers on the reg, and they have a scratch bakery on site. Their motto is “Art for the sake of art. Coffee for the sake of coffee” (although I think it should be “This cinnamon roll will change your life”).

I love everything about this place. The aesthetic, the smell when you walk in the door, the team serving you the elixir that fuels your brain, it’s all good. Their espresso is so ridiculously (really, really, ridiculously) smooth. Their signature roast is dark, rich, and even a little sweet. My would-be sister in law proclaimed it was some of the best coffee she’d ever had. Including that she was surprised it was so good with just a touch of almond milk and cinnamon. It’s one of the few spots I feel I can get a cup of coffee better than I make at home (and I have mastered how I take my coffee at home).

Aside from the mind-altering cinnamon rolls, this place offers up a whimsical blueberry muffin. I’ve always shunned muffins. Not quite dessert, not quite breakfast, they just made me a little bit frustrated. Loaded with sugar and typically no better for you (if not worse) than a donut, I simply didn’t see the point.

Boyfriend is a fan of blueberry muffins. His mom made them for him growing up and I’ve heard his sister talk about serving them up to her kiddos. On a recent trip to our spot, I caved and we ordered a blueberry muffin (warmed with butter, duh). I set aside the guilt I was feeling and decided one blueberry muffin wasn’t going to turn me into a muffin (that’s dumb). One bite in and sure enough, I can see why people love blueberry muffins! If they’re anything like what I was experiencing at that moment, it would be hard not to. It was pillowy. It was sweet. It was like snuggling under the covers for five more minutes without making yourself late for anything. The little crevices– they were holding onto chilled pieces of butter and slowly letting them melt away into rich, fatty goodness. I couldn’t believe how perfectly it paired with my coffee! Of course I knew deep down one of the reasons this little morsel was so addictive;

Sugar.

So! I set out to make a more wholesome muffin. A grab and go breakfast option we could feel good about. One with more whole grain and less sugar than the delectable little blueberry temptress we’d succumbed to at the coffee shop.

And guess what!? I have in fact managed to perfect what I think is the perfect, wholesome little blueberry muffin (And! it only took me three tries!)

I started by choosing buckwheat flour as my base. Buckwheat flour is a whole grain flour ground from the Fagopyrum esculentum fruit, more commonly known as buckwheat. Although treated as a grain buckwheat is not a cereal or grass, and, is not related to wheat. It is suitable for those with a gluten intolerance. To distinguish it from grains, it is sometimes called a pseudo cereal. Other pseudo cereals include quinoa and amaranth.

Buckwheat is an excellent source of fiber. Fiber keeps you fuller longer and keeps your gut happy. A happy gut makes for a happy body because it means you’re eliminating waste effectively. Cool!

I use buckwheat flour in my homemade pizza dough as well as other goodies. Anytime I can choose ingredients that are more nutrient dense than their more popular counterparts, I do.

Once I knew I wanted to use buckwheat flour I did what anyone curious millennial wanting to get things done would do; I turned to google.

My google search boasted a slew of results. Mostly gluten-free (which I anticipated) I was having a hard time finding a basic recipe to jooge and recreate. Then, I struck gold. Cooking.nytimes.com . I love the Times cooking section. It’s solid. The contributors are honest to goodness cooks and bakers who create great food for the sake of great food (see what I did there? 😉 ) The recipes are easy to follow (and easy to modify). The frame work for my muffins came from this recipe here ⇒ Gluten-Free Buckwheat, Poppy seed and Blueberry muffins. I never did make these, but one day perhaps I’ll try.

So! Recipe inspo in hand (on screen) I opened my fridge to see what I had.

I was going to have to make some swaps and modifications (duh). Kefir for buttermilk. Avocado oil for grapeseed oil. Lose the poppy seeds. Add more blueberries… and perhaps a dash of nutmeg? Cardamom? Idk.

The third time was in fact the charm! The first batch was a little too dense. I started with 1 part buckwheat flour to a ratio of 3/4 Bob’s Red Mill Gluten free baking mix cut with some cornmeal. I wasn’t sure if it was my choice of flours or the way I added the fat that made my muffins dense, so, I did some reading.

Turns out I had a little too much leavening happening what with the baking powder and baking soda ratios. According to thekitchn.com you really only need 1 tsp Baking Powder OR 1/4 tsp backing soda for each cup of flour you use. I knew I needed the soda to cut to tang of the kefir, So, I cut back on each for round two, and swapped out my gluten free baking mix for organic Whole Wheat Pastry Flour. From what I read, pastry flour is better for breads, muffins and baking because of it’s finely milled consistency and protein content. Furthermore, my girlfriend, who’s mama has a sensitive tum, told me when she bakes she chooses organic whole wheat flour because it seems to be easier for her to digest. Armed with this information, I decided to enjoy the best of both world’s and settled on Whole Wheat Organic Pastry Flour. I got mine from the bulk foods section. I always buy baking supplies on bulk. You can get what you need and save $$$ 🙂

The second batch were in fact fluffier! But still not quite what I had in mind. I found that when I tumbled them onto the cooling rack they were collapsing under the pressure and losing they’re gusto (so sad 😦 )

So!

Round 3. Swap 1 part of the avocado oil for grass-fed butter. Cream it at room temperature so it melts through during the bake and creates happy fat pockets for my muffins. Also, get rid of the cooling rack. Tumble them onto a clean kitchen towel instead.

Drummmmm roollllll puh-leassseeee…

〉〉〉 ∴ 〈〈〈

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrmmmmmmmm brrrmmmmmmmmm brmmmmmm…

Thanks, Tom.

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Ta dah! Good Morning Blueberry Buckwheat Muffins with Grass-Fed Butter ❤

Tools:

12 cup muffin pan (or 2 – 6 cup muffin pans, like I do) I love my USA Pans bakeware a little too much.

Large mixing bowl (dry ingredients)

Medium mixing bowl (wet ingredients)

Small mixing bowl (to whisk eggs)

Sifter or colander to shake dry ingredients through ( I do the latter, like this)

Whisk or hand mixer

Liquid measuring cup

Measuring cups

Measuring spoons

Basting brush (for glaze, optional)

Clean kitchen towel (to tumble cooked muffins onto<3)

Ingredients:

Dry:

1 1/4 cup buckwheat flour (organic if you can)

3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour (organic if you can)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 rounded teaspoon salt (meaning it’s okay if it’s a little more than a half teaspoon)

Wet:

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons avocado oil

(NOTE: You can use grapeseed, canola, or whatever other oil you have on hand. I like avocado oil because of it’s health benefits and ability to withstand high heat. Avocado oil can be expensive but costco has it as a great value if you or someone you know has a membership.)

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons grass-fed butter, at room temperature

1/3 cup raw honey

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups grass-fed kefir (I keep kefir on hand for its probiotic benefits)

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

And finally!

1 1/2 cups organic blueberries (in summer opt for fresh although I’m sure frozen would work as well)

To glaze (optional):

1 part raw honey whisked with 1 part melted grass-fed butter

What to do:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 375 with the rack positioned in the center of the stove
  2. Grease your muffin pan(s) with grassfed butter (or drop a little pat in each and let it hang out while you work on the batter, like I do).
  3. If using a sifter, place it in the large mixing bowl and begin to add dry ingredients. Sift until evenly incorporated. If using the no-sifter sifting method, place colander in large bowl. Add dry ingredients and shake your colander until incorporated. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl place room temperature butter, oil, and honey. Whisk until smooth (don’t over mix).
  5. In a small bowl, hand whisk eggies with a fork until white is indistinguishable. Fold into butter mixture.
  6. Fold the kefir into the wet ingredients.
  7. Season with vanilla and grated nutmeg. Fold.
  8. Slowly add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, mixing on low. Mix until flour is fully incorporated.
  9. Fold in the blueberries.
  10. Make sure your muffin pan(s) are evenly greased with buttuh.
  11. Using a spoon or ice cream scoop, fill the muffin pan(s) to the brim with batter.
  12. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out dry and tops are golden.
  13. If using the honey butter glaze, apply to the tops the last 5 minutes of baking
  14. Remove from stove. Gently turn muffin pan over onto a clean kitchen towel. If muffins release easily (if you’re using a USA pan and butter, they will) tumble out to cool. If they stick, give them a few moments to cool then try again.
  15. Enjoy!

I store mine in a paper towel lined freezer bag. If I’m serving them straight from there, I pop them into the microwave for 45 seconds wrapped in a paper towel and they’re good as new. They would also stay in the fridge in an airtight container up to 3 days. They never last longer than a week in our house 🙂

 

Enjoy.

 

Happy wellbeing ❤

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Breakfast Pizza for Dinner Inspired by Pasta Carbonara (w/ Bacon <3)

I’m tired, yo!
〉〉 Tools, ingredients, and the inspiration behind this whimsical little number coming to you live Tuesday Eve ❤

Psyche! It’s Tuesday afternoon.

So one of my boyfriends guilty pleasures (despite having a girlfriend who cooks erraryday) is Papa John’s Pizza. The first time he told me this my inner food snob sneered and walked away. The person I show the world smiled and said “yeah, they’re not bad.” I felt like I’d betrayed my tribe.

A few weeks later I had him over for dinner and a movie with the intention of helping him discover truly well made pizza (i.e. to set him straight). The movie was The Black Cauldron, the pizza was some boutique-y local shit. I honestly don’t remember. What I remember is his face at the end of the movie, how much I enjoyed talking and laughing with him, and how I’d painfully listened to him debate the truly great thing about Papa John’s pizza;

  1. It’s consistency
  2. The garlic sauce (truth)

Meanwhile, I continued to turn my internal nose up. I waved my white flag “agree to disagree..” I thought.

Here we are a year later and I actually prefer Papa John’s pizza to others! It is consistent. And since we only order it every so often, it’s a kind of special occasion for us when it happens (usually when I’m working late or all weekend ;-))

Well after a recent Papa’s splurge I wanted to challenge myself to making an artisan pizza at home that was both consistent and unique. I wanted to do it with primarily ingredients I already had on hand and I didn’t want to fuss with lots of prep and cook time (normally when I make pizza at home I’m making my own dough, roasting various veggies, rendering fats from meats, shredding cheeses, and making Basic Fresh Tomato Sauce — which is worth every ounce of time when you have it– but yeah, I go hard). So…

I started by using fresh take and bake dough from our local market rather than making my own. Our local grocer is fantastic. Their house brand products are reliable and use fresh, local ingredients. This dough was basically Semolina flour, salt, and extra virgin olive oil.

I bought some shredded mozzarella and made my way to the check out with only two of the components I needed to make my pizza pie. The anticipation of what the hell I was going to do had me tapping my toes as I waited in line.

When I got home I placed the dough and cheese on the shelf in the fridge and took a peek at what I had. Bacon, eggs, bell peppers, green onion, walla walla onions, garlic, kefir, coconut milk and chilies.

Took a peak in the freezer. Peas, grass-fed butter, sausage, chicken carcusses.

Hmmm. Bacon, eggs, and cheese. Italian. Carbonara! Carbonara is, in my mind, the quintessential silken italian pasta dish. Unlike alfredo, carbonara relies on pasta water, parmesan, and egg to create the luxurious sauce rather than heavy cream. In the version I make (using the recipe above as a guideline) I add frozen peas, chopped green onion, and fresh parsley to cut the richness of the dish. The taste it leaves on your palette is a beautiful foil of flavor. Clean yet buttery. Fresh yet creamy.

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〉〉〉∴〈〈〈

With inspiration in mind I googled Carbonara Pizza and this is what I found:

With a point of reference in mind, my pizza came to life ❤

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〈〈 Bacon and eggs makes everything better 〉〉

Tools:

Sautee pan

Cutting board

Chefs knife

2 bowls

Baking sheet

Work space to dress pizza

Ingredients:

For the sauce:

Store bought take and bake pizza dough, brought to room temperature.

8 slices thick cut nitrate free bacon

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 onion, diced

1 clove of garlic, minced

salt

red chile flakes

1 tsp paprika

For topping:

Shredded mozzarella

chopped bacon

3 pastured eggs, at room temperature

chopped green onion

  1. Preheat oven according to doughs baking instructions
  2. Roll your dough out on a floured surface. It should roll out to the size of the cookie sheet you’re going to use. Place on cooking sheet.
  3. Cook bacon in a pan on medium heat, turning occasionally, until extra crispy.
  4. remove bacon and drain on paper towels.
  5. Place diced peppers and onions in bacon fat. Season with salt, chile, and paprika. Cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook additional 4 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat and transfer contents into a bowl.
  7. Chop the bacon into small pieces
  8. With a brush, brush the seasoned oil from the peppers and onions all over the dough, to the edges.
  9. Spoon the peppers and onions into the center of the dough and spread outwards.
  10. Top with 1/2 the chopped bacon
  11. Top with half the cheese (as much or as little as you like)
  12. Top with remaining bacon
  13. Finish with cheese
  14. Bake according to the directions on the dough within 4 minutes of done time
  15. Remove from oven and crack 3 eggs onto pizza
  16. Return to oven and bake until eggs are set
  17. Remove from oven and season eggs with salt and pepper, parmesan if you have it.
  18. Garnish with chopped green onions and serve with your favorite hot sauce ❤

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Wellbeing ❤

Suprise! Indian Beef Masala?

If there is one thing I know for certain it’s that alignment is only temporary. One day everything feels cohesive the next it’s crumbling. That’s okay! It’s how you choose to play with what you have that determines the outcome. Enter, Surprise! Indian Beef Masala? ❤

〉〉∴〈〈

I had been working non-stop all day and was really looking forward to the beef fajitas I’d planned on making for dinner. I headed into the kitchen and got to work. I was moving pretty slowly so you’d think I was being extra careful, but, the truth is, my mind was someplace else entirely. I placed my sliced peppers and onions in a large glass bowl and dressed them with avocado oil and a little salt. I reached for (what I thought was) the cumin and eyeballed a tablespoon into the mix.

All the f-bombs.

It was Garam Masala!!! An earthy, warm spice blend indigent to the middle east. It’s very fragrant and because of the presence of clove. It’s unmistakably Indian. Not Mexican.

I felt defeated. I was so tired. The last thing I wanted to do was reimagine dinner. I quickly went into flight mode and started thinking about what I had on hand that could turn this simple (life changing) mistake into a success.

I quickly googled something along the lines of “garam masala beef indian curry stove top” and looked for options that weren’t A) super time consuming and B) overloaded with ingredients. I ended up finding a recipe for Madras Beef Curry that seemed promising.

While I didn’t have all of the ingredients on-hand, I had enough of them to improvise a meal. With my beef and veggies already prepped, the option to play with what I had was favorable to the others I was considering at the time (Pizza. I wanted to order all the pizza.)

The dish took 25 minutes active time and then simmered on the stove top fo5 1.5. The aroma that filled the house was magical. After the first 30 minutes, I reached for my wooden spoon and (hesitantly) stirred the dish to check for seasoned. I replaced the lid and walked to the sink. I lifted the spoon and licked the back. As I relaxed my jaw and swirled my tongue to taste my made up meal I was pleasantly surprised. It was rich and satisfying without being overly spicy. I went back to the stove top and removed the lid yet again and sliced a small piece of beef. With little to no effort, the knife fell through the meat like it buttuh. I did a happy dance and replace the lid for the next half hour. In the meantime I did some reading, and folded laundry. At the final half hour mark I proceeded to round out the meal with a quick celery and cumin raita, rice, and a flour tortilla with butter and garlic (intending to replicate naan).

I was catastrophically proud of this dish. I was so excited to share it with my boyfriend (look what I can do!)

When I went to wake him up from his nap I quickly realized that wasn’t happening. Sleep is a very precious commodity in our house ♥ Instead of pouting (like I may have in the past) I turned on some Michael Buble, admired what I felt was a lovely table setting, and enjoyed what may have been some of the best Indian inspired food I’ve ever had.

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Knowing my other half would be enjoying his meal later on, I left the rice in my rice cooker slash slow cooker slash steamer  (brilliant) and added in what was left of the Surprise! Beef. I inserted the steam basket on top and nestled the “naan” in wrapped up in a napkin to prevent it from becoming mushy. The food stayed warm and ready to be enjoyed the remainder of the evening 🙂

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〉 〉 〉 ∴ After cooking it on the stove top, I incorporated it with the rice and kept it warm in the slow cooker ∴〈〈〈

Life is silly. Sometimes you’re thinking gouda when it’s clearly brie baby 😉 That’s okay. It’s okay. It always has been and always will be. Now, let’s learn how to pick up the pieces and make that Madras Beef turned Surprise! Beef Masala? (I say “Masala”? because even I don’t know what exactly I made).

TOOLS:

Large sautee pan with a lid

Large glass bowl (for dressing your veggies)

Small glass bowl (for mixing your spices)

Medium bowl

Chefs knife

Cutting board

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon Garam Masala (–what started it all)

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced (Remove the top. Slice once in half lengthwise and then into thin slices width wise)

2 small onions, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon of avocado, coconut, or olive oil

*2 tablespoons ground coriander

*1 tablespoon ground cumin

*1 teaspoon ground turmeric

*1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

*2 cloves of garlic, minced

*One 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, minced

*Freshly squeezed lime juice from one small lime

1 tablespoon of grass-fed butter

1 lb flat iron steak, preferably grass fed, sliced into 1-1 1/2 cubes (you could use stew meat or chuck if you wish but I can’t guarantee the same results)

salt and pepper

1/2 cup chicken stock (I like this)

1/2 cup full fat coconut milk from a can

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

 

What to do:

  1. Before slicing the beef generously with salt and pepper and bring it to room temperature by allowing it to rest on a plate for 30 minutes. Slice into 1-1 1/2 inch cubes.
  2. In a large glass bowl, toss the sliced red bell pepper, onion, oil, and garam masala until evenly coated. Season with salt and toss again.
  3. In a small bowl, combine ingredients with an asterisk and make a paste. Set aside.
  4. Warm the grass-fed butter over high heat in your skillet (remember, this is a one pot meal so it should be sizable and it should have a lid).
  5. Once the butter is melted, add the beef. Sear on all sides, stirring every so often for 5 minutes (it will finish cooking in the stew)
  6. Remove the beef and it’s juices and set aside in a medium bowl
  7. Immediately add the peppers and onions to the skillet. Saute until softened (about 1o minutes)
  8. Add the spice mixture and cook to release the aromatics (about 2 minutes)
  9. Reintroduce the beef and saute for  an additional 5 minutes
  10. Add in the stock, coconut milk and cayenne. Bring to a boil.
  11. Reduce the heat to medium low (3ish on an electric range) and cover. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring every so often.

Serve with white rice, celery raita, and tortilla naan.

Celery Raita (For when you didn’t plan on making indian food)

6 oz full fat grass fed greek yogurt 

1 oz full fat kefir

1 celery stalk thinly sliced (the thinner the better)

1/4 of a small white onion, thinly sliced (”                   “)

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

lots of cracked black pepper

salt

1 tablespoon cumin (more to taste)

What to do:

Mix it all up and chill for 1 hour prior to serving. I made this after my food was prepped before I started cooking.

Naan (NaanT)

1 medium flour tortilla

1/2 tablespoon grass-fed butter

1 teaspoon minced garlic (add as much as your little heart desires)

dash of salt

What to do:

  1. Turn the broiler on high
  2. Warm your tortilla for a few moments, watching carefully
  3. Remove your tortilla from the broiler
  4. Spread the butter on your tortilla and sprinkle with garlic
  5. Place back in broiler and watch for it to brown, varies. Just watch it. You have the time.
  6. Remove from the broiler and fold in half. Place in a towel to keep warm.

Happy wellbeing ❤