Perfect Summer Fruit Salad (Hello 4th of July BBQ!)

n my junior year of high school, my French class when to the Alliance Francaise in Chicago. My teacher had been coy about the whole trip, only saying that it would be a “cultural experience”, which is really such a French thing to say.

The Alliance Francaise is an organization focused on the promotion of the French language and culture. They regularly screen French films, host coffee clubs, offer Adult French language classes, and connect native and foreign French speakers with one another.

On this high school field trip, however, our focus was on seeing a French movie (In French, naturally), and participating in a French cooking class. Now, because I was super nerdy (still am, let’s be honest), I was totally into the whole idea of a French cooking class. The class was conducted in French, the ingredients and directions were listed in French, and the food was French.  I was prepared to make some classic French dish like beef bourguignon, a la Julia Child, but the instructor thought otherwise.

Looking back, the simple fruit salad the instructor chose was definitely appropriate for a group of high schoolers who regularly depended on EasyMac and Ramen for their afternoon snacks. I, of course, thought otherwise: I had been cooking with my dad and baking with my mom in the kitchen since I could walk. Fruit salad in my mind was not deserving of its own lesson. I mean, you essentially cut up fruit and put it in a bowl. How was a French fruit salad any different?

But I was wrong.

Our French cooking instructor told us that the secret to making a delicious fruit salad was not only cutting fruit in somewhat uniform pieces, but adding vanilla extract. Yes, vanilla. My mind was blown then, just as is continues to be now. The vanilla, essentially make a sweet syrup, coating all the fruit and drawing out all their natural flavors. Delicious. 



Ever since that class, when I have needed to take an easy to prepare dish to a party or a gathering, I take this. Every time, someone always comes up to me and asks: “what on Earth is in this? It is the best fruit salad I have ever had.” 

Ahhh, see. The French. Their cooking. They just know.

Some cook’s notes:

  • Your fruit can be cut in advance in stored in individual airtight containers to save on prep time the day of serving, however, many types of fruit will start to brown. Adding the lemon juice will delay the oxidation process and thus delay browning, but it will still happen with time.
  • I have made this fruit salad with many different types of fruit, depending on what is in season. Feel free to swap in an out what you find at the grocery store and what you have on hand- it will always end up fantastic!
  • Softer fruits like peaches, bananas, and kiwis will become very soft at a much faster rate. Be mindful of this while you choose your fruit to use. 
  • Be careful on how much vanilla extracts you add: too much can cause an overwhelming, somewhat bitter vanilla flavor. If you want a stronger vanilla flavor, add a tiny amount at a time, tasting along the way.
  • Make sure your slices of fruit are small enough to spear with a fork; trying to shove half an apple in your mouth with a fork is embarrassing at any party. (But alone is a-ok!)
  • Please make note of the serving size. If you are making this just for yourself, or even 2 people, halve or quarter the recipe. 

Perfect Summer Fruit Salad

Serves 6-8, as a side

  • 1 tbsp. Lemon Juice
  • 1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. high quality vanilla extract
  • 3 Apples
  • 16 oz. Strawberries
  • 4 oz. Blackberries
  • 2 Bananas
  • 1 Grapefruit
  • 2 Valencia Oranges
  • 2 Small Blood Oranges
  • 3 peaches
  • 4 Kiwis
  1. Cut all fruit into somewhat-uniform pieces.
  2. Place into a large bowl.
  3. Add vanilla, and thoroughly mix. Add more, to taste, but see note above.
  4. Serve immediately, or store in an airtight container.










Sunday Snaps, 06-07-2015









Oh, hi. Happy Sunday! If you area reading this, I survived May.

I am going to be concise here, but in May: CK finished up his master’s program, I finished up my school year, we went to 2 weddings, unexpectedly traveled through/across 7 states, accepted some contracting jobs which start over the summer, and hosted a visitor. I think I might go into details about all of these a little later; most of these deserve their own posts.

I still don’t know how I did all that, while still working. Granted, I was running on 5 hours of sleep a night, but I did it. And kept up this blog! (I deserve a high-5! Or a box of chocolates. Or something.)

Granted, I developed almost all of the recipes I’ve been posting lately in advance, so I really just had to post them and schedule them, which made things way way easier. To all you fellow bloggers out there, the “schedule in advance” option on most hosting platforms is a god-send.

I knew May was going to be busy (Although, things just happened to keep popping up last minute too.) so we actually froze a lot of meals in advance. I noted that earlier in a post, but I thought I would elaborate a little more.

Two blogs that I love, The Brown Eyed Baker and How Sweet It Is, recently just had babies, and leading up to their babies births, they froze a whole bunch of meals so they wouldn’t have to cook for awhile, and they would have fresh, homemade meals whenever they wanted. Now, I know what you’re thinking: I am comparing my busy month to having a baby?? Well….yes, sort of. I didn’t freeze 6 months worth of meals like one of those bloggers did (seriously), but I did make sure to have several staples so I could maintain paleo eating while being super busy. It really cut down on a lot of stress. I highly, highly recommend it. Here are some resources:

Aaannnndddd, here are some sneak-peaks of recipes coming to the blog soon. I am SUPER excited. Summer food is so easy and just so good:




I was really excited because I was going to share with you a ginger beer recipe, but then, my fermenting bottle EXPLODED. I was reading in the living room, and all of a sudden I heard a large pop and then a gush of water. I still have NO IDEA how this could have happened. I literally had just put everything in that bottle a couple hours prior at most. I was lucky I wasn’t in the kitchen when it happened; there were shards of glass and ginger literally flying through the air and crashing into the wall like darts headed for a bull’s-eye. I am so thankful no one was hurt, but let me tell you about the mess it made. It was very similar to mashmallow-gate of 2014. Only this was quite possibly worse because I had sugar water and ginger on every surface of my kitchen: floors, walls, ceiling. I am still finding some.

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The garden is doing extraordinarily well. I am shocked. I am not going to go into that much here, essentially because my last Sunday Snaps was me rambling on and on about gardening. Don’t want to bore you guys J



I have been on this s’mores obsession lately. Maybe its because its officially summer? Or maybe its because I’ve had these weird intense cravings for marshmallows the past year? (See here, here, and here.) Not sure. But of course, S’mores are different because, ummm hello, BARS OF CHOCOLATE.

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Chip the Fiat now has his very own succulent. <3 People laugh at me, but I think garden cars could totally be a thing.

You guys, cracked nut butter. As in Brownie Batter Nut Butter and Cookie Dough Nut Butter. They. Are. A. Thing. And really really good. I will have a tablespoon or two of this right from the jar if I am hungry but too busy to eat. (And did I mention brownie batter?) They also have a squeeze pouch, incase you’re too lazy for a spoon. (Guilty as charged.)

I have become obsessed with matcha over the past couple weeks. I never really liked matcha- it tasted too earthy to me- but then I tried a higher quality matcha and I was hooked. It has a great, clean, caffeine buzz without a crash, and the green color is just so vibrant:

If you guys haven't seen my iPhone photo tips for food bloggers, you definitely need to check it out. Here are some examples: 



As many of you know, I grew up in the Midwest, but spent the 3 years before moving to NM in D.C. I moved to NM at the end of July, just before August, so I spent a good portion of the summer still on the east coast. I haven’t yet spent a full summer her in the Land of Enchantment, but I can tell you already that I am really, really, really missing the beach. During my time in D.C., I definitely took for granted how easy it was to drive up to the beaches in New Jersey or Delaware, down to the beaches in Virginia, or across to the beaches in Maryland. One of my favorite spots was Assateague, which is most famous for its herds of while horses, which roam around the eastern shore, barrier island. CK and I went there last year, just before the move, and we actually camped on the beach. As well traveled as we both are, few things have come close to that night on the island, sleeping on the beach, watching wild horses gallop, listening to the waves crash against the shore, and gazing at the milky way all night. I hope we can go visit again soon!






As always, have a restful Sunday, and a great start to your week!


XOXO,

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​Summer Veggie and Egg Flatbread

So….

I created and photographed this recipe back in September, but then forgot all about it. Like totally, completely, utterly forgot about it until I had a dream about it. What?? No, really. I had a dream about flatbread.

Granted, some of my dreams have involved food before, however, they usually involve things like cupcakes or cookies or brownies or dancing marshmallow fluff. Essentially, I only dream about incredibly unhealthy desserts. Except I sometimes will dream about coffee, but thats more like a nightmare that I ran out in the morning before work on a Monday.

Analyze that Freud.

Even though I have a really excellent memory, I still do forget things. It happens with stress, which is a typical reaction from most people. But guess what? Its May, which means Cherry Blossoms in D.C., intense thunderstorms in Iowa, 75 degree weather in the southwest, and…snow in Chicago. Ok, maybe not snow quite still snow-season in Chicago, but its happened before. (Sorry guys.) You cant be stressed with all this excellent weather on the horizon, literally. (Heh heh heh, get it??!)

This flatbread is very versatile: for being grain and gluten-free, it has an incredible texture that is both chewy near the middle and crispy around the edges. It is fantastic the way I styled it, with an egg and avocado, but lends itself well to piling high with other fresh veggies….dare I even say this could be your new favorite paleo flat-bread pizza crust?  Make sure to try this recipe alongside some fresh spring veggies and some fizzy drinks. And dont forget to grab those sunglasses while you eat this outside on your patio. It is almost summer!


Summer Veggie and Egg Flatbread

Serves 3

For crust:

  • 1/2 cup warmed water, divided  (about 100 degrees)
  • 1 packet dry active yeast
  • 1 cup tapioca starch, divided 
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. coconut flour
  • 1 tsp. freshly chopped thyme 
  • 2 tsp. freshly chopped basil 
  • ½ tsp. salt 
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast 
  • 2 tbsp. flax seed 
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil, plus additional for oiling

Toppings:

  • 2 tbsp. butter 
  • 1 tsp. fresh garlic 
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/8 cup Porcini mushrooms 
  • 1 small tomato, sliced
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • ½ cup nutritional yeast (or cheese of choice if you can tolerate dairy)
  • ½ cup fresh arugula 
  • 1 egg 
  1. In a large bowl, add ¼ cup warm water. Add packet of active yeast. Let sit for about 10 minutes until yeast has activated. It should be foamy. If water has not foamed, throw out yeast and start over; no foam means that yeast is not alive.
  2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  3. Add remaining water to bowl. Mix in tapioca starch, coconut flour, thyme, basil, salt, nutritional yeast, flax seed, and olive oil. Stir by hand until all ingredients are well combined and a dough begins to form.
  4. With oiled hands, form dough into a large bowl.
  5. Place a sheet of parchment paper over a baking sheet. Place ball of dough in center of sheet. Begin  to roll the dough out with an oiled rolling pin to create flatbread. Flatbread should be about ¼ inch thick.
  6. Place flatbread on middle rack of oven and bake at 450 degrees and bake for 6 minutes.
  7. After 6 minutes, reduce heat to 350 degrees and remove flatbread from oven.
  8. Top flatbread with butter, fresh garlic, and mushrooms. Return to middle rack of oven and continue to bake for 15 minutes.
  9. After 15 minutes, add basil, tomato, avocado, nutritional yeast or cheese, and arugula to the flatbread. Add the egg by cracking over the center of the flatbread, being careful not to break the yolk.
  10. Return to the middle rack of the oven and continue to bake for 7 minutes. 




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Merry Christmas and a Special Sweet Holiday Treat!

Merry Christmas!

Down here in New Mexico, I've pretty much given up on any hope of White Christmas this year. I guess thats what I get for picking up one day and suddenly moving to the southwest.

I actually don't know what to do with myself. I've never had a Christmas without snow or cold weather (my whole life has been in Chicago, Iowa, or D.C.) except for the one year my family was in Costa Rica for the holidays. With the exclusion of that year spent in Central America, even when we travel, the cold weather seems to follow us. In 2010, we spent Christmas in South Beach, where there were lows around the 60s that sent Miami residents running to buy parkas and sent my grandma and I to lounge on the beach in our swimsuits.

So here I am, basking in the southwest sunshine in a bit of a confused haze. The past couple weeks, I've been celebrating Christmas the only way I know how: by listening to Christmas music, decorating the tree, watching Love Actually, drinking paleo hot chocolate, and lighting lots of fires in the fireplace, subsequently making my house really really hot.

There's one other thing though.

I've been eating a lot of ice cream, since temperatures aren't in the teens like I'm used to. Ice cream in December? So much better than Ice cream in July. Out with the old Christmas sugar cookies, in with the new..... ice cream.

Happy Holidays everyone!


Paleo Chocolate "Ice Cream" with Peppermint Mocha Marshmallow Swirl

  • 1 recipe of your favorite chocolate ice cream recipe (I like this one…because its mine ;) )
  • ¾ cup peppermint-mocha marshmallow fluff *
  1. Follow directions to make ice cream according to your recipe.
  2. Once ice cream mixture is ready, place in your ice cream maker and churn to your manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Watch churning ice cream slowly, and as ice cream starts to harden, add your marshmallow fluff in ¼ cup increments as mixer is still turning.
  4. Once ice cream is finished churning, scoop out and place in an airtight container.
  5. Put ice cream in freezer and let harden for about 2-3 more hours, at least, before eat.

*Marshmallow fluff is derived from making the peppermint-mocha marshmallow recipe, and instead of letting the fluff set (to turn into marshmallows), use the fluff immediately to mix into this ice cream recipe.








Bet you didn't know this paleo dessert existed

Remember how I said last week that it didn’t feel at all like fall yet since the temperature wasn’t dropping? Well, just after that, the highs of 101 dropped to 85, then to 80. Just like that. But then, the highs crept right back up to 100 and 101. Essentially, still no fall boots for me.

In the short of it, I realize that most people are begrudgingly transitioning into fall (P.S. I talked to Emily- she’s already wearing her fall boots), but here in the southwest, I am enjoying an extended summer.  So much so, that the other day, Christopher and I bought a whole watermelon because it was on super sale; the end of summer is the season for extra large melons. (Heh, heh, heh…) Someone once told me that the best way to choose a melon is to knock on it, like you’re knocking on someone’s front door, and listen for a hollow sound. If its hollow that means the fruit is ripe. Well, without Google verifying this, Christopher and I dug headfirst into the watermelon box, knocking all the melons. Every. Single. One.  We spent probably 20 minutes in this box of Watermelons, and it almost reminded me of one of those ball pits in Chuckie Cheese, but with far more bruising at the end. After deadlifting 30-pound fruit for 20 minutes, we really decided that we needed to get back into Crossfit or some sort of weight-lifting regimen. In the end, we got the hollow-est sounding watermelon of the bunch.

So there we were, now at home with a gigantic watermelon. Here’s the kicker: I don’t even like watermelon that much. (Or melons in general, really.) In college, the cafeteria filled their fruit quota as much as possible from honeydew and cantaloupe. (I’m guessing because it’s the cheapest to buy in bulk.) I ate so many melons those years, that I haven’t enjoyed them much since. Another fun fact? Cantaloupe is called Muskmelon in Iowa and the Dakotas. Muskmelon! What a funny word.

In short, I set out experimenting with watermelon to figure out a way to enjoy the fruit since I was now in possession of approximately 30 pounds of it.  I eventually decided to try creating a reduction with both blueberries and balsamic as a watermelon topping, since balsamic reductions really bring out wonderful flavors in fruit, and blueberries are also in their peak at the end of summer. I had made both berry reductions and balsamic reductions independently before, so this time, I mapped out what I thought would be a good combination of the two. The end result was a blueberry-lime balsamic reduction that pairs exceptionally well with watermelon: the tartness of blueberries balances out the sweetness of ripe watermelon, and the lime adds a little zest. Everything ties together nicely. The balsamic reduction can be used as a dip for watermelon, but my favorite way to enjoy it was as a drizzle over a watermelon round, cut into eighths to resemble a “fruit pizza”.

When making the reduction, it is important to note that the concoction needs to be watched closely and stirred frequently, as it can stick and burn easily. If you doubt your ability to correctly make a reduction, do not fret! You can take the process slower by simmering on a lower heat to ensure that there is a lesser risk for burning. Just know this this significantly increases the time to complete the task.


Paleo Blueberry-Lime Balsamic Reduction

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, or can be frozen for later use

  • 2 cups of fresh blueberries, washed with stems removed
  • 1 cup balsamic vinaigrette
  • 1/3 cup raw honey*
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • Juice from 1/2 of a lime
  1. In a saucepan, melt honey on low heat, and be careful not to burn.
  2. Add balsamic and blueberries, increase to medium heat to bring mixture to a simmer, stirring frequently.
  3. Reduce heat to medium low, add limejuice and vanilla, and then stir.
  4. Let reduce on medium low heat for approximately 30 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid burning or scalding. Reduction will be done when mixture is syrupy and has reduced in volume by about half.
  5. Let cool completely before handling.

*This reduction is tart, so if you prefer something sweeter, up the honey to ½ cup, or potentially even ¾ cup. (Although ¾ of a cup might be very sweet. I haven’t tried this yet, so if you do, let me know how it turns out.)


Paleo Fruit Pizza

Serves 2-5 (Varies greatly on your watermelon size)

  • ¼ cup Paleo Blueberry-Lime Balsamic Reduction
  • 1 round of watermelon, about 12 inches across
  • Berries, lime quarters, or lime peels for garnish (optional)
  1. Create a round of watermelon by cutting your watermelon first in half through the center, then cutting another piece from the half about 3 inches thick. Cutting a round directly from the center ensures the biggest diameter, however, you may choose to cut from the end to serve a smaller pizza. Note that if you slice a round with a smaller diameter, do not use as much of the reduction. If you don’t adjust this, your pizza will be much too tart.
  2. Place the watermelon round (Should just be one big watermelon circle) on your serving platter, tray, or board. Drizzle the blueberry balsamic reduction over the watermelon. For better presentation, you may choose to drizzle some reduction on your serving piece. (See below.)
  3. Using a pizza cutter, slice watermelon into pieces, like you would do to a pizza. You of course can do quarters or sixths, but I prefer eighths.
  4. Garnish with berries, lime peels, or lime quarters. (Optional)




Dog Days of Summer

I have a confession to make, and it’s a weird one. Strangely, I’ve heard of several other people who have this same problem. (Hi, Sandra!)

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Are you ready for it?? I don’t like raw tomatoes, BUT I am obsessed with homemade tomato sauces, tomato soup, cooked diced tomatoes, salsa, stewed tomatoes, and sundried tomatoes. Ketchup really isn’t my thing (It’s the Chicago in me), but sometimes my tomato cravings get so intense that I will walk to the nearest store to pick up tomato-based goodies. My tomato cravings happen especially when it comes to tomato soup. Right around 2nd or 3rd grade, my tomato-obsessed friend, Justine, and I would go over to her house after school to play. Before our playtime commenced, we would demand tomato soup and popcorn as a snack. What oddball kids we were.

Clearly, I have no problem with cooked tomatoes in any way; I think raw, uncooked tomatoes have a totally different flavor. Raw tomatoes are brighter, tangy, acidic, and juicy in a not-so-great, want-to-throw-up kind of way. So when my boyfriend excitedly showed up with 15 Roma tomatoes, because he got them all for $1, I didn’t know what to do. Roma tomatoes are notoriously great for making Salsa, but I’m not sure if gnawing on some Romas is appropriate. 

Tomatoes are in season in the heat of summer, and one of my favorite things to do is go look at the mounds and heaps of tomatoes at farmer’s markets. There’s just something about the stacks of the round, juicy, bright orbs that makes me happy. To me, they seem to signify the end of summer, the start of a transition into fall, which is arguably my favorite time of year. (Changing leaves, football, corn mazes, pumpkins, crisp mornings, and Thanksgiving all in one season.)

Sometimes there are so many tomatoes at the farmers market in August that it is not uncommon for vendors to let you take home a whole basket for only a couple bucks. They would rather them go to a happy family and get eaten than have them rot for the sake of a profit. Farmers are good people. Its one of the things I miss about living in Iowa the most.

For these Romas, I decided to dehydrate them and make them into a chip, an incredibly healthy and savory snack food. Since the dehydrator merely draws out moisture, these tomatoes are, shockingly uncooked yet extremely palatable. They’re similar to sundried tomatoes, but they can be made overnight in your home instead of drying them outside with the use of a sundial and guard to keep away pesks. ;) Please note that because of the high moisture content, these take awhile to dehydrate, so plan accordingly. These chips will also shrink in size considerably; they won’t make as much as you think, but don’t worry, they’re still worth it.



Paleo Roma Dill Chips

Makes 1 bowl of chips

  • 15 Roma tomatoes
  • 1.5 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. dried dill, or 3 tbsp. fresh chopped dill
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp. dried chili powder (I use hatch chili powder, yummmm)
  1. Slice tomatoes about ¾ inch thick and place them in a strainer or colander. Place colander in the sink and let the water/juice naturally drain away from the tomato slices for about 10 minutes. Shake occasionally to let additional juices drain.
  2. In a bowl, mix all spices with the olive oil.
  3. Add tomatoes and coat all slices evenly with olive oil mixture by stirring with a spoon or using your hands.
  4. Place slices onto dehydrator, being careful not to overlap. Turn on dehydrator and let dehydrate until slightly chewy but dried. My own dehydrator takes about 8 hours, or overnight, but follow the manufacturer directions for your particular model.


Zoe Takes Tastee-Freez

Growing up, I lived approximately 1.5 blocks away from the prized landmark of my small Chicago suburb: Tastee-Freez.

In summer, I would walk with my mom with some change in my pocket to the small, wooden ice cream house, and wait in a line that sometimes stretched three blocks down the street. Families would come to Tastee-Freez after dinner, after a soccer game, before bed, at sunset, after a long day of work, with their grandkids, because it was a Monday, because it didn’t rain that day, because it did rain that day, or because it just seemed like a pretty great idea at the time. (Isn’t any time a good time for ice cream?)  

Grayslake's very own Tastee-Freez

Grayslake's very own Tastee-Freez

My mom and I would wait in line, where I would agonize over what I would order. A vanilla shake? An M&M freeze? A half and half? Sprinkles? Extra sprinkles? (As you can probably guess, my orders almost always consisted of extra sprinkles.) My mom and I would always see someone we knew in line: my classmate, a fellow Girl-Scout, a coworker. One night, my golden retriever Zoe, a free spirit, ran away from our yard and took herself to Tastee-Freez. It wasn’t until the owner of the ice cream shop called our house that we noticed Zoe was missing. We soon learned that our dog had sprinted to the shop, stood on her hind legs, placed her paws on the counter, and stuck her nose in the window as if she was there to order her own hot fudge sundae. They gave her a pup-cup (Vanilla soft-serve in a cup with a dog treat garnish) and lots of love until we came and brought her home.

Doesn't Zoe look innocent?

Doesn't Zoe look innocent?


Revenge is sweet

Revenge is sweet


Zoe in her younger days, about 1 year old.

Zoe in her younger days, about 1 year old.

Tastee-Freez was always a fun journey, and on the last night of summer before the new school year started, my mom would take me to Tastee-Freez where I could have ice cream for dinner; a tradition I continued for myself even through graduate school. Now, ice cream for dinner to me always marks the end of summer. It so gracefully wraps up gobs of free time, the sprinkles of adventure, and the sweetness to be savored until the next summer break rolls around.

In the ice cream for dinner tradition, I present to you my own version of Paleo Death by Chocolate Ice Cream. Its very rich, doesn’t contain dairy, and doesn’t have a speck of refined sugar. I hope you savor this one!


4-Ingredient, Paleo Death by Chocolate Ice Cream

Makes 1 pint of ice cream

Can be stored for up to 30 days in the freezer, but tastes best if consumed within 1 week.

  • 2 cans, or 24 oz. coconut cream
  • 2/3 cup raw honey
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla
  • 7 oz. dark chocolate, divided
  1. Combine coconut cream, honey, vanilla, and 4 oz. dark chocolate in a saucepan. Heat on low, whisking constantly, until all ingredients have melted and are combined. Be careful not to scald or burn. It is best to watch your pan very closely.
  2. Remove from heat, and place mixture in a covered bowl. Chill in back of refrigerator for at least 12 hours, until very cold.
  3. Melt remaining chocolate and set aside.
  4. Remove the chocolate ice cream mixture from the fridge and pour into your ice cream maker. Following the manufacturer instructions for your ice cream maker, and churn until mixture has turned into ice cream.
  5. Slowly pour melted chocolate into ice cream while still churning. This will create specks or small chips of hardened chocolate into your ice cream. (Like stracciatella.)
  6. Remove ice cream from maker and enjoy immediately if you enjoy a soft consistency.  Store in an airtight container in freezer if you would like a harder consistency.

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Someone has gotten great at posing for photos.&nbsp;

Someone has gotten great at posing for photos. 


Suspicious of snow. Aren't we all?

Suspicious of snow. Aren't we all?



A Home is not a Home Without a Rhino

I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t get anything done in the week. By the time I wake up late (every morning), I am stressfully hurrying from one thing to another until perhaps the hour before my bedtime where I force myself to chill the heck out so I can actually fall asleep:

 

The past few weeks have been so hectic for me (half marathons, visitors, traveling) that I have not updated this blog as much as I wanted to. I was just talking to a friend this past week (over Cinco de Mayo margs after we ditched the gym, naturally) about how we feel tricked about real life. Kathy and I met in grad school, when our lives were consumed with taking 10 hours to write an evaluation, spending late nights/early morning in libraries, and spending the 3 weeks surrounding midterms and finals on a coffee IV. Luckily, we survived, and have moved onto spending time together doing more fun things. Like buying these necessary animal busts for our homes:

Horse bust takes on D.C.&nbsp;

Horse bust takes on D.C. 

Kathy and I assumed that after we graduated, we would have enormous amounts of free time after our day jobs. We could work out everyday! We could go to happy hour whenever we wanted! We could go on all the trips we've been dying to do! Ha. Hahahaha. No.

We feel tricked by life. Lies. Complete lies! Whoever has a rockin’, balanced life outside of a 40 hour a week workday is one talented soul. I am so non-productive outside of work that I rely on my weekends to do things like food prep, recipe creation, apartment cleaning, and just generally having a social life. I am so dependent on my time off on weekends, that when I need to go into work over a weekend, my following week is filled with baby carrots, avocados, and wine for dinner. Because that’s obviously how you stay Paleo when on a time crunch  ;)

Amidst the workweek chaos, I’ve been trying to up my vegetable intake lately. This has been a challenge. A couple weeks ago I almost broke down at lunch when I remembered that I had packed myself a.n.o.t.h.e.r. s.a.l.a.d. Since then, I’ve realized that I need to trick myself into eating my vegetables in less obvious ways than just downing a plate of leaves. (I’m 26 going on 6 sometimes.) Recently, I’ve realized that I can drink my vegetables in smoothie form. (Ummm duh, I am clearly late on this trend.) Smoothies are perfect because I can make a ton at one time, they freeze well, and I can grab one as a literally am running out the door in the morning. Since the weather is starting to change from spring to summer, here is one of my new favorite creations, and you can’t even taste the vegetables:

Paleo Spinach Pina Colada

Serves 2

  • 2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • ½ cup coconut cream or coconut milk
  • 1 ½ cup whole spinach leaves
  • 1 cup frozen pineapple*
  • ¾  cup frozen strawberries*
  • ¼ cup ice cubes

*You can swap out fresh fruit instead of frozen if you have that on hand. Just make sure to increase the ice to ensure that you smoothie is icy and cold.

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender with the ice and fruit at the bottom of the blender.
  2. Pulse until most of the ice and fruit has been broken into small pieces.
  3. Stop blending and stir with a large spoon every few second to ensure that all the spinach leaves incorporate and blend into the drink. Once everything has started to break down a bit more, blend on higher speeds until well blended and frothy.

 


*As you can see, I styled my drink with a lemon wedge, when it absolutely has no lemon in it. Why? Because it looked cute and I used all my strawberries and pineapples before I thought of the necessity of a garnish. I am full of logic, I know.