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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Berries & Cream

I don't know why I never did this before, but it has become one of my favorite dessert/breakfast items. It's super easy to make and takes only three ingredients!

Maybe the reason I never tried berries and cream before I became Paleo was because I thought I didn't like berries. Now I know I have been missing out. A lot.

 The best part of this recipe is that it's vegan, soy free, tree nut free, grain free, egg free, peanut free, and sugar free! It's pretty much hypoallergenic. But I know some people are allergic to coconut. Man, I feel sorry for those people....

Anyways, I have to say that breakfast was a score this morning. On top of the berries and cream, I had a sweet potato scramble/hash thing (the recipe will be posted soon) which was uh-mazing!

It was a good thing breakfast was so great, because lately I've been in a recipe rut that I can't seem to get out of. I feel like I'm eating the same things over, and over, and over. I need to start experimenting more in the kitchen again!

For now, just enjoy the berries and cream..... ;)

1/3 c. cream of coconut (You can buy this at Trader Joe's, but you can also make some at home. Just stick a can of full-fat coconut milk in the fridge overnight and scoop the cream off the top.)
3 drops of stevia or other sweetener to taste

1. Put the coconut cream in a bowl and mix with the sweetener.
2. Stir in the berries and eat!

Inquiry of the Day:

Along with dessert recipe requests, do you guys have savory recipes that you would like me to re-create? 
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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Cake Batter Ice Cream

This has to be one of my best dessert recipes yet. I mean it.

What's better than cake batter? Obviously chocolate, but can you think of anything else?

I can't.

A few years ago, my family and I would go to this place called Ritter's. Except, they didn't serve ice cream exactly. They served frozen custard. If you've never had frozen custard I suggest you go buy yourself some, because it is delicious. My favorite flavor was cake batter. It was rich, creamy, and tasted like cake on a cone.

I haven't had cake batter ice cream in years, but this past week I finally decided it was time to make a healthier version of it. I did a quick Google search and came up with a ton of cake batter ice cream recipes all with actual cake mix in it. For some reason, that didn't really appeal to me so I had to get a little creative.

I knew I would be using vanilla and almond extract, but that didn't seem like it would be enough to perfectly replicate the cake batter flavor. And then I came across this recipe, took one quick look at the ingredients, did a little bit of experimenting, and bam! Cake batter ice cream.

14 oz. milk (I used a dab of full-fat coconut milk and the rest just lite coconut milk)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. almond extract
1/2 tsp. butter extract (if you're really against using butter extract, which is vegan, try a tablespoon or so of actual butter)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 vanilla bean (if you don't have a vanilla bean, use another teaspoon of vanilla)
1/4 c. honey or agave or maple syrup
pinch salt
as many sprinkles as your heart desires ;)
optional: chocolate chips, frosting, cake pieces, etc.

1. In a large measuring cup or bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Whisk to combine.
2. Pour into your ice cream maker and let it run for 15-20 minutes. During the last five minutes, pour in any additional add-ins.
3. Top with whipped coconut cream, fudge, or maybe even frosting. It's up to you!
4. Enjoy your delicious homemade cake batter ice cream.

Inquiry of the Day:

Have you ever tried frozen custard? If you did, what was your favorite flavor? If not, what's your favorite ice cream flavor?

I have two favorite ice cream flavors: the first is Moose tracks and the second is peppermint, the kind you can only during Christmas. Yum. :)
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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sticky Teriyaki Wings

Even if you don't eat meat, you have to try this recipe.

I don't care if you use tofu, vegetables, or any other vegetarian/vegan meat replacement. The sauce recipe is to die for.

Slightly sweet, slightly salty, and with a little bit of heat, these wings are a great change from the classic buffalo chicken wings. To be honest, I've never really been a fan of buffalo sauce. I always preferred the Asian sauces, Caribbean jerk, or just plain old honey barbeque.

These wings (I used drumettes actually) fit into the Asian category which is what I was in the mood for tonight. I served them with coleslaw, grilled baby carrots, and grilled pineapple for a delicious, filling meal.

Why so much grilling? We just bought a new grill and tonight we tested it out for the first time. We grilled pork chops, carrots, and pineapple. All of them were delicious. The pineapple was sweet and juicy, the grilling brought out the wonderful natural sweetness of the carrots, and the pork chops were tender and flavorful. Suffice to say, it was an amazing dinner. And did I mention how great the pineapple was? ;)

With all that grilling, the chicken drumettes were actually cooked in the oven. But the skin still got kinda crispy and the teriyaki had soaked into the chicken, so they were completely delicious. Next time I'll probably use chicken breasts instead, but really any cut of chicken would work. You don't even have to use chicken. Just make the sauce and pour it over whatever you want. It's that good.

Inspired by this recipe

1/2 c. water
1/2 c. gluten-free soy sauce (I used Braggs Liquid Aminos)
1/2 c. honey or agave
2 T. pineapple juice
1/4 c. bacon grease or any other oil of choice
1 T. garlic, minced
1 T. fresh ginger, minced
1/4 tsp. cayenne 
1 1/2 lbs. chicken wings, drumsticks, drumettes, etc.

1. Combine all the ingredients, except the chicken, in a large bowl. Whisk well to combine.
2. Coat the chicken with the sauce. Make sure all of the chicken gets evenly coated. Let marinate for 1-4 hours. I marinated mine for about four hours and the chicken was tender and very flavorful.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a baking dish and arrange the chicken in the dish. Do NOT pour the rest of the marinade in.
4. Bake the chicken for about an hour or until preferred done-ness.
5. When your chicken has about 10-15 minutes of baking time left, pour the rest of the marinade in a small sauce pan and heat over medium heat. Let it come to a rapid bowl, so all the bacteria is cooked out of it.
6. Pour the leftover sauce into bowls for dipping.
7. Make sure you have a napkin nearby cuz you're gonna need it! Then enjoy. :)

Inquiry of the Day:

I'm really looking for recipes you guys want me to try to create. Or if you want to see more of a certain type of post (ex. writing, my life, etc.) then please tell me in the comments. Thanks! :D
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Monday, April 22, 2013

Becoming a Writer

(I just realized it's been a horrible month for posting on the blog. :\ I don't mean to neglect you guys, really! I'll try to be better about posting in May.)

Today I'm going to take a break from recipe posts and post one on writing. Not really on a specific topic about writing, just sort of babbling I guess. ;)

From Google

 I never really liked to write before the fourth grade. It wasn't until that year that I actually decided this was something I wanted to pursue. To this day I'm not really sure what changed my attitude about writing. All I can remember is that my teacher said we had to write at least two stories by the end of the year, because it counted as part of our grade. As you can imagine, I was not happy about that. But I wanted a good grade so I did some hard thinking on story ideas.

The first story I wrote was titled Janie and the Goblet of Dreams. It was slightly based off of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, I'll admit, but I was a fourth grader and all my ideas were pretty much variations of stuff I was interested in at the time.

Personally, I thought the Janie story was awful. But I showed it to a few friends and they thought it was fantastic and begged me to write more. I was shocked. I didn't even try to write a story people were interested in. It just- happened. And keep in mind, my friends were around the age of nine. Still, I couldn't shake off the feeling that writing might actually be something that I'm good at.

I wrote three stories that year. They were all part of Janie's adventures. Looking back at them, I feel embarrassed and think they're terrible. But it reminds me of how far I've come. I've even been selected as a finalist in a writing contest! Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would be chosen. But I was. And it makes all 30 of those long, hand-cramping days in November worthwhile.

It took me two months to decide if I really was going to participate in National Novel Writing Month. It sounded like a lot of work to write 50K words in only 30 days. It took a lot of motivation to pick up a pencil every single day that month and spew words to my story. It's taken even more motivation to go back and edit my way through the rough draft, which is becoming slightly less rougher every day.

But sometimes I just want to give up. I want to throw my novel across the room and leave it there. There are so many problems, so much to fix. Then I remember why I'm doing this. I'm doing it to share my story with others. It's not something I want cooped up in my house, with only a few friends reading it. I want to see other people that I don't even know reading it and enjoying the messages I have to say. That's probably the most thrilling thing to see as an author.

On a separate note, I'm running out of recipe ideas. I need inspiration, you guys! Please comment any recipe you want me to try to Paleo-ize, vegan-ize, health-ify or whatever. Hopefully I'll find some time this week or weekend to try it out.  :)

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Bacon Wrapped Dates

This is probably the best snack you will ever have.

Not to mention the easiest.

If you do a Google search on "bacon wrapped dates" all sorts of links will come up. Most of them require you to put the dates and bacon in the oven, but they taste great even if you don't. When I have more time I think I'll try it, though.

Now that I've got the basic recipe down, I can't wait to experiment with different ingredients! My mind is whirling with all sorts of ideas. You could dress this recipe up by stuffing the dates with nuts or maybe even chocolate but this recipe is really good as is. If you can call it a recipe. It's so simple!

Also, this really isn't a vegan or vegetarian recipe. You could try it with a vegetarian bacon alternative, but I doubt the taste would be the same. By all means, try it, though! And please report back if you do. I'm sure my other vegan readers would love to know. :)

*This recipe is really only for one person. Normally, a half a piece of bacon wraps nicely around one date so if serving for a large crowd I would use maybe 30-40 pieces of bacon, depending on how many people you will be serving.

2 pieces of bacon
4 dates, pitted
optional: chocolate, almond butter, pistachios, almonds, etc.

1. If bacon is pre-cooked, but cold or frozen reheat in the microwave. If you bacon isn't cooked, cook some!
2. Wrap each date in half a piece of bacon, using a toothpick to hold it together, and micro-wave for about 10 seconds or until date is soft.
3. That's it! You're done! Enjoy you're amazingly delicious snack. :)

Inquiry of the Day:

Do you have any favorite snacks that are super easy?

I love potato chips and it doesn't get any easier than reaching in a bag for some. ;) But I try to keep my potato chip consumption to a minimum and go for healthier snacks with more fat and protein.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Paleo Cookie Dough Porridge

I was getting a little bored with my regular CoCo Wheats, so I figured it was time to change it up a little bit. That got me thinking about oatmeal and all the different flavors you can make with it. I decided to go with cookie dough. (For regular cookie dough oatmeal see this post.)

And the end result was amazing.

A hint of brown sugar, a little bit of almond extract, vanilla, and some chocolate chips on top. The almond extract is really what makes this. Whenever I make chocolate chip cookies I make sure to add almond extract. I can't explain it, but the almond just makes the cookies taste so much better. I highly recommend you add it the next time you make cookies. If you don't already, that is. 

But this post isn't about chocolate chip cookies. (Unfortunately.) It's about cookie dough hot cereal, or  porridge, whatever you want to call it.

The best part is that this recipe is easy to adjust to your liking. Too sweet? Cut back on the sugar. Too almond-y? Take away a bit of the almond extract. Not enough vanilla? Add a little more. And it really doesn't matter what kind of nuts you use. I've used pecans and almonds before and I think I like it even better than the walnuts.

It was raining this morning, so the quality of my photos aren't the best, but don't let them fool you...

*Based off Elana Amsterdam's recipe 

1/4 c. walnuts
2 T. shredded coconut
1 T. pumpkin seeds
1 T. chia seeds
1 T. flax seed meal
pinch of salt
1/2 T. sucanat (You can sub with brown sugar or any other brown sugar type substitute)
2 dates, chopped
scant 1/2 tsp. almond extract
scant 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 c. boiling water
optional add-ins: chocolate chips, shredded coconut, nuts, sprinkle of cocoa powder, etc.

1. Add all of the dry ingredients (not including the dates) to a blender. Blend until all the ingredients turn in to a fine"meal".
2. Bring the water to a boil. While the water is boiling, add the dates and extracts to the blender.
3. Once the water is boiling, add to the blender and blend until smooth.
4. Pour into a bowl, then make sure to clean out the blender because flax and chia will turn into cement if you wait too long.
5. Serve with whatever toppings you want.

Inquiry of the Day:

Do you normally add almond extract to your chocolate chip cookies?

My grandma adds almond extract to everything. Cookies, biscuits for strawberry shortcake, you name it. I love it in strawberry short cake. It makes the biscuits have a richer flavor. :)

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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Vanilla Chai Iced "Frappe"

Chai tea is just one of those comforting drinks. One of those drinks that you could drink all day if you wanted. And there are so many varieties! Vanilla, cinnamon, coconut..... the list continues.

I love chai tea hot, but on a wonderful 70 degree day like today, I wanted something cooler. I wanted it sweet like a fancy Starbucks drink, with foam on top, and cold. This drink meets all three requirements. It's cheaper than Starbucks, easy to make, and uses only three ingredients.

Amazing, right?

You can personalize this drink however you choose. You can leave out the sweetener, switch up the type of tea, or experiment with different extracts and spices. So many ideas are already starting to form in my mind... Coconut ginger tea anyone? ;)

Before I give you the recipe I just have to say how amazing this warm weather is! It's been sunny for the past week or so now with highs in the 70s and it even got up to 80 a few days ago! It's been wonderful. :) I really hope it doesn't go away and summer is here to stay. With Midwest weather you never really know....

12 oz. water
4 chai tea bags (Or other type of tea, maybe black or red?)
sweetener, to taste
milk or cream, to taste (I used Silk Original almond milk)
6-7 ice cubes

1. Boil your water then let the tea bags steep for about four minutes.
2. Squeeze out your tea bags, toss 'em, then add your sweetener and milk.
3. Pour the tea into your blender and add the ice cubes. Blend until smooth.
4. Serve over ice and with a fun straw. ;)

Inquiry of the Day:

Has summer arrived where you live?

It took forever but summer is finally here in Indiana. (Hopefully....) Things could change though, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it doesn't leave. 

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Fajita Salad

For lunch yesterday I was in the mood for something Mexican. And I got to thinking about when I go to a Mexican restaurant and order fajitas. When they bring out this steaming hot plate of grilled peppers, onions, and meat with just the right amount of spiciness. Just thinking about it started to make me drool.

So I knew that I was having Mexican for lunch. There was no doubt about that, but did I have the ingredients.......

Why yes. Yes I did. ;)

So that was how the fajita salad was born. And it was delicious. Sweet bell peppers, crispy onions, tender chicken and shrimp all on a bed of lettuce with salsa. That is what I call an amazing lunch.

This isn't really much of recipe, though. I didn't measure ingredients so I'll just give you the gist. I used frozen peppers and onions, by the way. You can buy them at Trader Joe's and they taste just as good as the fresh.

2 oz. (pre-cooked or raw) chicken breast- try tempeh, tofu, or black beans for vegetarian
about 1/2-3/4 c. frozen bell peppers and onions
5-6 shrimp (We buy this already peeled and cooked in the frozen section at Kroger)
taco seasoning, to taste (We also make our own taco seasoning, but you can use cumin, chili powder, cayenne, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt to taste.)
2 c. lettuce (Ice berg, romaine, Boston, or any other crispy lettuce will work best)
sour cream, tortilla chips, cheese, guacamole, etc. 

1. Heat a medium-sized pan over medium heat.
2. Once it's hot, grease with fat of choice. Add frozen chicken and cover for a few minutes.
3. After the chicken is semi-thawed or cooked, add the frozen pepper and onions.
4. Meanwhile, add your lettuce to a bowl. I like to cut off the stems of romaine lettuce and slice it into strips. If I'm using Boston or ice berg I just tear it apart with my hands.
5. Once those are all thawed and cooked, add your shrimp and sprinkle with taco seasoning. Add as much seasoning as you like.
6. Dump your fajita mixture on top of your lettuce and top with whatever you want. I just used salsa, but, if I could, I'd use sour cream.

Inquiry of the Day:

What do you get when you go out to eat Mexican?

I  normally get the fajitas and split them with my family. Sometimes I'll cheat and have corn tortillas, but truthfully the fajitas are good on their own.

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Fixing Major Problems: Step Two of Revising

Finally, after many months (or what feels like years) I have finished the first read through. And I am rejoicing! That is probably the most painful thing I have ever had to do. I just wanted to rush through it and start revising. But I couldn't. The most painful part was towards the end when I had basically figured out all the main problems of the story, yet still had to read to the very end. Hopefully, this will be the most painful read through and the next couple won't be so treacherous. 

I learned a lot, though. So that's the good side of things. Unfortunately, the things I learned will be very time consuming and hard to fix. Good thing school is winding down for the year. :)

Okay, onto step two of revising:

Major Problems:

Major problems are not grammar, spelling, word choice, or any of the other itty bitty details. Those come last. At this point, I'm still looking at the whole picture.

So after I wrote down all the problems that I noticed, I sorted them all into chart by chapters. In each chart, there are three columns- one for things to add, another for things to remove, and the last for things to fix.

I've already gone through several revisions for the first chapter due to the contest I am a finalist in *insert girly squeal here*. Since I had to submit in a proposal I had to go back and revise the first chapter. And that was particularly painful. Revising the beginning required a lot of re-writing, coming up with names, introducing characters, foreshadowing events, etc. But I did it. I had about three or four people edit it (a new person for each set of revisions) and even showed someone outside of my family and friends the chapter. Scary!

Anyways, after I corrected each thing, I marked it off my list, put it into the binder in Scrivener titled "Done" and moved on to the next chapter.

Even though I go through each chapter separately, I tend to tackle the bigger problems first, such as, going back and adding the MC's thoughts and feelings. Once I have those off my chest, the rest of the revisions are like a piece of cake.

And that's pretty much all there is to fixing the major problems. Easier said than done, though. ;)

By the way, I'm planning on releasing some information about my novel soon. The only reason I'm hesitant to is because I don't have it patented. I trust all you guys, but- you never know. Until I have confirmed how it will be published, I won't be posting anything specific about the novel. Be patient and I promise the information will come. :)
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Friday, April 5, 2013

No-Mayo Slaw

As the warmer weather draws near, I love having salads. Whether in addition to a meal, or as the main dish. They require little prep work and our probably one of the most versatile meals out there. You can even make salad without spinach or lettuce, such as, the lovely coleslaw.

Most coleslaw recipes that I've tried have mayonnaise in them. I'll admit that I like mayo, but, being Paleo, that means we have to make our own. And it has to be with raw eggs. As much as raw eggs are supposed to be good for you, I have trouble eating them. Except in cake or muffin or brownie batter. Then it's okay. ;)

Anyways, my mom found a recipe for mayonnaise made with ground flax seed and it's delicious! But that's just another thing to make, so, when it comes to coleslaw, making it sans-mayonnaise takes a little bit of creativity.

But I can't take all the credit for the recipe. A relative passed this recipe onto my grandma and I had it at her house recently. I fell in love with it! It's definitely one of the better coleslaws I've tried- with or without mayonnaise. Unfortunately, it called for quite a bit of sugar. However, I love to try to Paleo-ize recipes. It's fun to me. I always enjoy a challenge. ;)

But this really wasn't much of a challenge. The recipe was easy to convert into a Paleo recipe, and I added my own little twist to it. Score! :)

Also, if making for a larger crowd, I would recommend doubling or tripling the recipe.

1/2 head green cabbage
1/2 small onion
2 medium-sized carrots, peeled
4 small bell peppers of any color or 2 large ones

1/4 c. olive oil
2 T. agave
1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1. Shred cabbage, onion, and carrots in a food processor.
2. Slice your pepper into whatever size pieces you want. Stir into the shredded cabbage, onion, and carrot.
3. In a jar, add the olive oil, agave, apple cider vinegar, salt, and garlic powder. Shake well until it's thoroughly combined.
4. Pour onto your shredded veggies, and stir to combine.
5. That's it! You're done!

Inquiry of the Day:

Do you enjoy adapting recipes so they suit you're dietary needs? I know a lot of readers are vegan, so do you adapt old recipes to make them vegan? Or do you go without?
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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

2 Ingredient Chocolate Pancakes!

Yesterday I meant to post an April Fool's Day post, but obviously that didn't happen. So instead, I come with a new recipe today! And trust me, it's a good one.

Paleo pancakes are probably one of the hardest things to make. Either they're too dense, they never cook through, or they burn within the few seconds of cooking. But with two ingredients you can make super duper awesome pancakes! Not to mention, they're gluten, grain, soy, dairy, nut, and sugar free!

Two ingredient pancake recipes have been floating around the blogosphere for some time and I just finally got to making some myself. Since one of the main ingredients in these pancakes is bananas, I had to find a way to mask their flavor a little bit. (I don't really like the taste of bananas for some reason. :\ ) And chocolate and bananas are a heavenly combination so, why not add some chocolate? It sure did it's job, too. The banana flavor is hidden pretty well.

They're moist, soak up maple syrup perfectly, and make a ton of pancakes. Though you can easily go through half a batch if you're not careful. ;)

Note: As a general rule, use one banana for every two eggs

2 bananas, extremely ripe
4 eggs (For vegan, maybe try an egg replacer or flax or chia egg)
1/4 tsp. baking powder (optional, I didn't use it)
1 T. cocoa powder
Optional: chocolate chips, peanut butter, any nut or seed butter, walnuts, shredded coconut, etc.
fat for cooking (I used coconut oil)

1. Add ingredients to blender. Blend until smooth. (If using chocolate chips, nuts, or shredded coconut stir in after blending.)
2.  Grease your griddle or whatever you're cooking the pancakes. Ladle about a tablespoon on the griddle for each pancake.
3. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then flip and cook for additional minute. (These make better silver dollar pancakes then regular-sized ones.) Repeat until all your batter is gone.
4. Serve with chocolate syrup, maple syrup, whipped cream, butter, spread with sunflower seed butter- use your imagination!

Inquiry of the Day:

Did you have a great Easter?

I had a very lazy Easter. Though I did talk a walk after dinner to help digest all that food I ate. ;) It was 60 degrees outside and sunny! That's amazing weather right now. But then the next day it was 40. :\ Oh well, beggar's can't be choosers.

For Easter dinner, we had asparagus, sweet potatoes, gluten free rolls, gluten/dairy free mac n' cheese, ham, salad, bean salad, and chocolate pie and cake for dessert. It was a very filling meal. 

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