Saturday, January 30, 2016

Springtime Frittata

Most of my friend's Facebook pictures have been involving snow. We've had some rainy days here is Northern California, but otherwise it's been sunny and around 50 degrees. But I won't be a jerk and talk about it too much. The only alarming thing is that it was 45 degrees outside and I felt cold the other day. Cold. At 45 degrees. I'm from Indiana. I was born for the cold. What's going on with me? I think having lived 7 years in the South and now California have wrecked my ability to tolerate cold. I think I need to go to Tahoe and toughen up...

I'm sure all you snow-covered people are all thinking about spring. In honor of that, I'm calling this frittata recipe Springtime Frittata, with cauliflower for the snow and green peas poking through to remind you of grass that's to come in springtime....Just kidding. This frittata was inspired by a breakfast I had at Elmwood Cafe while visiting friends in Berkeley, CA. Their frittata had cauliflower along with several green veggies. What I really loved about it was the fresh thyme! I had it with a chai latte, which was perfectly spicy. 

But it does look fresh and spring-y doesn't it?

Hopefully you can make it to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients for this one!

Springtime Frittata

2 tsp avocado oil, or other oil of your choice
1/2 cup sliced green onion
1 1/2 thawed frozen cauliflower florets
1 cup thawed frozen peas
8 eggs, beaten
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 cup grated sharp white cheddar (can substitute Swiss chese)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Heat a medium oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until until softened. Add cauliflower and peas and warm through. 
3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, beat the eggs with the salt, pepper, and thyme. Fold in half the cheese. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables in the pan. Gently stir to distribute the vegetables. 
4. Cook the eggs without stirring for about 5 min or until the edges become solid. Top with remaining cheese.
5. Put the pan in the oven and cook for 15 min or until the center is cooked through. Rest for 5 min before sliding out of the pan onto another plate to cut (or just cut it while it's still in the pan). 

**optional prep method if you do not have an oven proof skillet: Preheat the oven as in step 1. Cook the vegetables as in step 2. Place in a greased 8x8"-9x9" pan. Prepare the eggs as in step 3, but pour them over the vegetable mixture in the pan. Top with remaining cheese. Place the pan in the oven and bake 30-35 min or until set in the middle. Rest 5 min before cutting and serving.

21 Day Fix containers for 1/4th of the recipe: 1 red, 1 yellow, 1/2 green, 1/2 tsp

Friday, January 29, 2016

Outfits of the Week (OOTW): January 24-30

Hey everyone! This has nothing to do with food, but I want to give you a better few of my day-to-day life. I love cooking, but I also love fashion! Both are forms of self expression for me. So I'm going to contribute my own #OOTW #fashionfriday material!

I would say my style is pretty eclectic. I love online boutiques because I seldom take the time to go out and shop. Every once and a while I get in the mood to dig around consignment shops, where you can find a lot of current and vintage pieces. I try to find comfortable pieces that are easy to mix-and-match so I can get the most wear out of them.

Some of these favorite items are from previous seasons, vintage, or one-of-a-kind, so I'll provide links when I can! Despite that, I hope you feel inspired.

I got these silver paisley earrings at a little shop I happened upon in Pacifica, CA while driving around during Thanksgiving. The lady who owns the shop re-purposes items into jewelry. She had so many to choose from, but amongst all of them, these earrings popped out. I love paisley print, and I also love the contrast between the silver and the gold moonstones. I read that moonstones protect travelers, so these were perfect since I was having an adventure traveling by myself around the northern California area (I should have done a post on that...would it be weird to post in January something I did in November? comment below). I feel like they look so special.

The paisley earrings go with a lot, and I paired them with one of my favorite sweaters. Navy is one of my favorite colors to wear, and I love the muted stripes on this one. I also have my FAVORITE new boots from Naturalizer. These boots are so comfortable. During my trip up the coast in November, I wore them with flannel shirts and a puffy vest.

Earrings: Successories
Necklace: I don't know where I got it I've had it for a long time!
Sweater: Sonoma from Kohl's
Jeans: Sonoma from Kohl's
Boots: Naturalizer
Jacket: Magellan from Academy Sports

One of my favorite online boutiques is Dressing Your Truth. I discovered the program while working on some personal growth back in March 2015. Based on the information online, I assessed myself as a Type 2. I've been transitioning my wardrobe to include more Type 2 clothes, and it's made putting outfits together really easy!

Earrings: purchased from World Market last summer
Necklace: I don't know where I got it I've had it for a long time!
Shirt: by T-Party from Dressing Your Truth Type 2 Store
Jeans: Sonoma from Kohl's
Boots: Target a couple of seasons ago
Hairstyle: Instructions can be found here. I just didn't use extensions...or mermaid makeup.

Next is a jacket that I got for Christmas. It can be worn two different ways: as a moto-type jacket when zipped or as a flyaway when open.

Necklace: Old Navy on clearance several seasons ago
Scarf: Apt. 9 from Kohl's
Jacket: Apt. 9 from Kohl's
Camisole: Apt. 9 from Kohl's
Jeans: Sonoma  from Kohl's in black
Tall black boots: NaturalSoul by Naturalizer from Kohl's

This is another creation using pieces from the DYT Type 2 store. The scarf, with tones of brown, dark teal, and orange, really pulls this look together, in my opinion. The vest is so soft and feels really cozy, and I think it complements the dark teal top. I love the sparkly marbled detail in the necklace. I can attest to the comfort of these shoes. I had barely worn them when I took an impromptu trip to San Francisco and wore them all over the place without getting blisters.

Vest: Type 2 Winter Artisan Vest
Shirt: Soft-T in Starry Night
Necklace: Poised Pendant Necklace
Earrings: purchased from World Market last summer
Jeans: Sonoma from Kohl's
Shoes: Naturalizer

I hoped you enjoyed these Outfits of the Week and have a great weekend. What do you have planned? Are you cooking anything special? Comment below!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Brined Lemon-Herb Chicken

A few months ago, I bought Marie Kondo's book, The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up. It's taken me a while to apply her method, but I finally feel ready to take it on. I feel even more motivated because I'm about to move (again) and I would like to live a more minimalist lifestyle. I'm also motivated because I don't want to move so much crap from point A to point B again. I'd like my next place to have more open space and lack of clutter. I don't think I'm the kind of person that acquires random "stuff," and when I find excess in my life that no longer serves a purpose I happily donate it to Goodwill. I'm just seriously questioning what is necessary in my life and where I can trim off excess things that will go in a box and eventually be put back on a shelf. This is a learning process and a practice. I just want to use all that I have so that I can appreciate everything.

As I think about how I'm going to box up my kitchen stuff, I'm pretty proud of the fact that I didn't fill my cabinets up with a bunch of gadgets that only do one thing. Despite all my tidying up, the one kitchen gadget that only does one task that will always stick around is my wine bottle opener, of course.

Speaking of wine, this chicken really needs a nice white wine with it! I've been drinking a lot of Chardonnay since moving to California, which is really unusual for me. My go-to white is Sauvignon blanc, but an unoaked or lightly oaked Chardonnay has been hitting the spot lately. Both would be nice with this recipe.

For this recipe, I was inspired by "The Best Chicken You Will Ever Eat" recipe in the book Well Fed by Melissa Joulwan, which is one of my favorite Paleo cookbooks. Her recipe is for a heavily spiced brined chicken breast, and it's fantastic. Brining makes chicken tender and taste like it's from a fancy restaurant. As I was browsing the book the other night, I noticed a post-it to remind me to swap out the spices and make a fresh an herbal version, so here it is!

Look for "poultry blend" fresh herbs at the store. It's a mix of sage, thyme, and rosemary. That way you won't have to buy them separately. And before you freak out at the amount of salt, it doesn't make the chicken salty. It makes the magic happen.

Brined Lemon-Herb Chicken
Printable Recipe

8 cups water
3 tbsp of salt
4 garlic cloves, slightly crushed but whole
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 3 to 4 chicken breasts)
zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp minced fresh sage
1 tsp minced fresh rosemary
1 tsp minced fresh thyme leaves
8 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp black pepper

1. Add water to a large zip-top bag placed within a large bowl. Add water and salt to the bag and mix to dissolve. Add garlic, peppercorns, and chicken and seal the bag. Place in refrigerator 2 hours to overnight. Rinse chicken well and dry well with paper towels.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line baking tray with foil.
3. In a small bowl, blend juice, zest, sage, rosemary, thyme, oil, and pepper. Massage over dried chicken. Place chicken on the tray. Roast for approximately 35 min, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat reaches 165 degrees F. Remove from oven and rest at least 5 min before serving. Serve with pan juices drizzled on top.

Makes 8 servings. 21 Day Fix containers per serving: 1 red, 1 tsp

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

What I Ate Wednesday: 21 Day Fix with Paleo Meals (1/27/2016)

I stopped by the side of the road and took pictures of poppies today. Sorry to all of the rest of you in the frozen tundra otherwise known as the US. I hope I'm not the only person in town that took notice of these beauties, but I might be the only person who bothered stopped to take pictures of observational skills are both what make me special and really weird. But flowers in January?? That deserves to be celebrated.

Today was a busy day for me simply because last night I felt inspired to re-evaluate my to-do list system. Therefore I got a lot of tasks done! I decided instead of keeping a big running list of stuff all the time, even if I prioritize the most important thing, I need to maintain blocks of time. I struggle with work and fun bleeding into one another, which is something I've struggled with. I can be a workaholic, grinding away at a task until it's done instead of breaking it up into manageable chunks. Listening to to book Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy on Audible has helped give me tips, especially the fact that if you get your gnarliest task done early on in the day (your frog), then you won't have to worry about it for the rest of the day. But budgeting my time more strictly also helped me a lot today and I'm going to continue it.

Despite all my work, I still got my healthy meals in. They're pretty simple meals, too. Without further ado, here's what I ate Wednesday!

Started the day with my workout, Max Hammer Strength and 10 Minute Ab Hammer, along with a cup of tea with lemon and lots of water.

Breakfast was leftover frittata. The recipe will be posted soon! I also had an orange.

1 red, 1 yellow, 1/2 green, 1/2 tsp, 1 purple, 1 blue

My mid-morning snack was 1 purple of Cuties and 1 orange of pumpkin seeds.

1 purple, 1 orange

Lunch was extremely simple. I use Pyrex glass bowls and divide my leftovers into multiple meals. I have chicken breast (recipe soon to come!), cauliflower, and peas.

1 red, 1 yellow, 1 green, 1 tsp

Mid-afternoon I had a protein pick-me-up with vanilla Shakeology blended with 4 ice cubes and cold decaf coffee. Apparently poppies are the theme of the day...

1 red

I was lacking in veggies, so dinner was a huge chopped salad! Baby kale, spinach, and butter lettuce, mixed cherry and grape tomatoes, purple onion, and cucumber. Protein was chicken seasoned with Montreal Chicken Seasoning and paprika. I made some basic roasted sweet potatoes (bonus recipe on Facebook!), and tossed the whole thing together with the last of my teaspoons of oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. My friend Misha got me hooked on just lemon and oil dressing. I love it! While I cooked my chicken, I prepared a soup recipe that'll be on the blog, too! Lots of posts coming your way! Dessert was an apple.

1 red, 1 yellow, 2 1/2 green, 2 1/2 tsp, 1 purple

Throughout the day I had lots of water and decaf green tea. These meals are simple, but your meals don't have to be complex to succeed. What was on your menu today? Comment below!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Paleo French-Style Salad Dressing

The week is going by way too fast. I have so many projects going on, and I have a hard time doing bits and pieces of them. I just want to dive in a cross them off my list. Maybe it's because I'm working on some fun projects.

Besides coming up with recipes, I'm preserving some memories in the form of a t-shirt quilt. Throughout my travels I've collected many Hard Rock Cafe t-shirts and I've worn them to the point that they have holes in the armpits. They have no use as items covering my body, so I cut them up and I'm going to sew them together into a quilt. I've never made a quilt before, and honestly several times during this process I've asked myself "why the hell am I doing this?" but I keep at it. Mainly because the shirts are ruined and there's no going back now...but it will be pretty awesome once it comes together.

Onto the recipe! It took a while to transition into, but when I dress salads now, I just drizzle on some oil and vinegar or lemon juice and sprinkle over salt and pepper and toss everything together. Simple. However every once and a while I crave the sweet bottled dressings I used to buy before I dedicated myself to not buying them anymore. One of my old favorites from when I was a kid was French dressing, particularly Kraft Catalina or Mullins French, which are sweet and tangy tomato-y dressings. I wanted to invent my own French dressing with whole ingredients.

I was inspired to add applesauce to the dressing because it's sweet and a little tart and because it adds a lot of body to the dressing without adding gums and stabilizers, like the bottled kind. I always keep little cups of applesauce in my pantry to add to baked goods. Lately I've been topping sweet potato waffles with applesauce and cinnamon instead of maple syrup, and it's a delicious combination! I had some extra applesauce in my fridge, so it was the perfect ingredient to provide most of the sweetness to the dressing.

This stuff was so good I was taking leaves of spinach and dipping them into the blender to scrape out the last little bits. Though it's been years since I dressed my salad with French dressing, this stuff is pretty close to how I remember it!

Paleo French-Style Salad Dressing
Printable Recipe

1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tbsp grated sweet onion
4 tsp honey
1/2 tsp yellow mustard
1 tbsp water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup avocado oil, or other light-tasting oil

1. Add all the ingredients except the oil to a blender and blend until smooth.
2. Remove the center of the blender lid, cover with a cloth, and turn on. Once the blender is running, slowing drizzle the oil through the opening in the lid. When the oil is emulsified, transfer the dressing to another container. Allow to chill at least 1 hour before serving so the flavors can meld.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

What I Ate Wednesday: 21 Day Fix with Paleo Meals (1/20/2016)

I'm not sure why it's so fascinating, but I love reading about what people ate in a day on my favorite blogs. I think part of it is just non-recipe based inspiration. So foods that aren't part of a recipe, but are an interesting combination to add novelty to what I'm already eating.

I thought I'd create some of my own "what I ate in a day" posts, so today's my first What I Ate Wednesday (WIAW). A bit of background on how I've been eating: I started doing the 21 Day Fix in October because I wanted more guidance on portion control. Eating Paleo has gotten me a long way in terms of health, but there's so many interpretations as well as no prescribed fitness program. I did a lot of biohacking, trying different kinds of macros, especially dabbling in the keto and low-carb sector. But my sleep gets really disturbed when I go too low on carbs. I also was plateaued in my weight loss and I couldn't jump start it no matter what macros I tried. I was tired of guessing, so I ordered the 21 Day Fix program, which uses simple containers and a 30-min/per day exercise program, so a lot of the guess work was taken care of. The scale started moving, and I starting seeing non-scale goals, like increased strength and baggy clothes. 

I'm happy that I could fit Paleo and 21 Day Fix together. Both focus on whole foods, I just have a little less selection for the yellow container (carbohydrates). I mostly stick to yams and sweet potatoes, but occasionally I eat Paleo grey-area carbs, like quinoa and white potatoes. Since starting, I decided to become a Beach Body coach so I can support others on their fitness journey. Now I've switched to the new Hammer and Chisel workout program, and I really love it! I'm in the middle of week 2 and I've seen a rapid increase in strength. I'm subbing resistance bands for the pull-up bar, and I've already had to bump up the band to a thicker one in just a week!

So now that I've given that background, here's what I ate in a day:

Last night I went shopping at Grocery Outlet. I'm not sure if they have them in other places besides California, but you can get so many deals on high-quality, organic foods! Breakfast was two nitrate-free sausages, an egg, and leftover baked sweet potatoes that I cubed and cooked in a little olive oil. I also had some raspberry tea.

1 red, 1 yellow, 1 tsp 

My morning snack was an apple and grass-fed cheddar cheese.

1 blue, 1 purple

Lunch was a salad with different veggies, chicken breast, and a new salad dressing recipe that'll be on the blog soon!

2 green, 1 red, 1 orange

I was still a little bit hungry after my salad, so I had a pear and my last 3 teaspoons of the day, with sunflower seed butter. I also had one of my favorite herbal teas from Stash.

1 purple, 3 tsp

My workout of the day was Chisel Agility, so lots of jumping around, but in a fun way. Working out in the afternoon is best for me. I feel like my mind is really into it.

After my workout I got a dose of protein with strawberry Shakeology blended with frozen mango and unsweetened vanilla coconut milk (carton-style).

1 red, 1 purple, 1 yellow

Dinner wasn't planned, I just threw together what I had. I made a stir-fry with onion, spiralized carrot, celery, green beans, and shrimp. I seasoned it with minced garlic, Mrs. Dash Lemon Pepper, and a mixture of about 1 tbsp each water and wheat-free tamari with about a teaspoon each honey and arrowroot powder. After everything was cooked, I dumped the sauce on and stir-fried it for a minute or so for the starch to glaze everything. On the side I had more leftover sweet potatoes.

2 green, 1 red, 1 yellow

That's it for my meals! Comment below if you enjoy this new addition to the blog and if they inspire you to try new food combinations.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Dairy-Free Chocolate Pecan Fudge

This recipe didn't go how I planned at all, but the results are delicious! I planned to make a layered dairy-free chocolate pecan toffee inspired by a YouTube video. The final step, where the chocolate chips are added, didn't work. There wasn't enough heat to melt them (or perhaps I got impatient...)! Then the chips started sinking into the syrup, which was thinner than in the video because I changed the ingredients quite a bit. So I said to hell with it and stirred it all together. I ended up with a silky, dairy-free fudge with all kinds of flavors going on! Caramel, maple, vanilla, sea salt, coconut, pecans, chocolate. Even though this didn't turn out at all what I expected, like the video says, this is a good one to have at the end of the evening with a cup of hot tea or coffee. It'll warm you right up on a cold night.

For a nut-free version, you could try substituting large, unsweetened coconut flakes for the pecans.

Dairy-Free Chocolate Pecan Fudge
Printable Recipe

1/4 cup virgin coconut oil, plus more for greasing
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1 cup canned coconut milk, well-combined
1/4 c maple syrup
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips (Enjoy Life is a dairy-free brand)

1. Prepare 8" x 8" pan by lining with foil and greasing with extra coconut oil or cooking spray.
2. Melt oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add sugar, coconut milk, and maple syrup. Cook over medium heat about 10-12 min, allowing the mixture to simmer, until thickened slightly. Stir frequently. Remove from heat and add sea salt, vanilla, pecans, and chocolate.
2. Pour into pan and smooth. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate at least 3 hrs. Lift foil out of pan to easily cut the fudge into cubes. I suggest using a large knife and pressing downward rather than sawing the knife back and forth.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Caramelized Onion Turkey Meatballs

Caramelized onions are one of the most delicious recipe additions. On top of a burger, in French onion soup, breakfast casserole...delicious. They should be in more recipes, and in an effort to make that happen, I added them to turkey meatballs. Turkey is one of those meats that is really complemented by sweet flavors.

Take your time caramelizing the onions since they are a major source of flavor and provide moisture to the meatballs to keep them tender. I was meal prepping when I made them, so I let them hang out in the skillet, deepening in color, for 45 min. Since these onions take a little extra effort, you might want to double or triple the batch and use them in a different recipe or freeze for later!

Feel free to substitute ground pork or chicken with this recipe. Both would be great options.

Serve these as a main course, over mashed regular or sweet potatoes with a side of veggies. Another option is to make small ones and serve them as a hot appetizer, which is really nice for winter parties.

Caramelized Onion Turkey Meatballs
Printable Recipe

4 tsp oil, divided
2 cups red or sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
pinch of nutmeg
1 lb ground turkey (I used 93% lean)
1 tsp arrowroot powder
1 cup low-sodium chicken, turkey, or vegetable broth
salt and pepper

1. Heat half the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent. Add the honey and keep cooking until they develop a brown color. Add water as necessary to keep the onions from sticking. Remove from pan to the side and allow to cool slightly. Wipe out the pan to remove onion bits that might scorch so the pan is ready to brown the meatballs. Onions can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated until use.
2. Once the onions are cool enough to handle, blend in the sage, garlic and onion powders, rosemary, nutmeg, turkey, and salt and pepper, to taste. Roll into any size meatballs you prefer.
3. Heat remaining oil over medium heat. Brown the meatballs on all sides and cook through. Remove to the side to rest. Blend arrowroot with broth and deglaze the pan with the mixture. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat to thicken and reduce to half, then pour over the meatballs. You can strain the sauce by pouring it through a wire mesh strainer to make it smoother, if you prefer.

4 servings. 21 Day Fix containers per serving: 1 red, 1/2 green, 1 tsp

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Steak Salad with Walnuts and Blue Cheese

I made it back to California! Though it was hard to leave my family, I was looking forward to getting back because I love it here. On the way from Indy to Chicago I had a delay so I had to Oprah power walk to my gate (I couldn't run since my bag kept flipping over because my laptop case was throwing off the weight). They had already started boarding. At least I didn't miss the flight! But all the delays and running around made me extra antsy to get off the plane.

Besides unpacking, the first order of business the next day was to get meat out of the freezer and stock the fridge! Breakfast was slim pickings. Luckily I had some red potatoes, so I microwaved and peeled them and turned into a sort of hash brown, with some Jones' sausages on the side. Thankfully my freezer had some protein to rely on! I topped off the potatoes with hot sauce to add flavor and make them pretty.

These photos were taken with my birthday present, my new DSLR camera! I've been wanting one (and apparently talking about wanting one) for a while. I knew it would improve my photography on the blog, but I also love taking nature photos and I know this camera is going to do a much better job than my iPhone! I still have a lot to figure out, so I'll keep practicing my macro shots of food. I think the quality of these photos is a dramatic improvement from my other food photos.

The next day, the first order of business, besides unpacking, was to stock the fridge! I already decided last week that I wanted to make one of my favorite salads. The recipe is modeled after a salad Panera had on their menu many years ago. It was a steak salad with blue cheese and walnuts, and I loved it. Blue cheese and steak are a perfect match. With so many fruity and candied pecan salads (not that I don't love them!) the robust flavor of this salad is a great change of pace. I frequently make this salad when I have leftover steak, not bothering to heat it and slicing it thinly before placing it on the salad. By all means, substitute leftover steak for cooked steak here.

This recipe is 21 Day Fix compatible, too! Also, I've noticed that the tastiest salads include my orange and blue containers. Those two containers are my most precious ones because they add so much flavor and variety to my meals. I typically split the blue container, as I did here, between some cheese and nuts to make the salad more flavorful.

This recipe also shows my favorite way to cook steak as well. Basically I oil the meat and not the pan because it can smoke really badly. I sear the first side on high heat, and then when I flip the steak to sear the second side, I focus on cooking it through carefully. I accomplish this by turning down the heat to medium once I get it flipped. I feel turning down the heat gives me control to cook the steak to my liking while still getting nice browning on the outside.

Steak Salad with Walnuts and Blue Cheese
Printable Recipe

1 lb lean steak (ex: tri-tip, flank, London broil, top round, eye of round)
4 tsp avocado oil, or other oil of your choice
4 cups (packed) spring mix
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup sliced red onion
1/2 cup sliced radishes
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp honey
a few pinches herbes de province
16 walnut halves, chopped
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Heat a skillet over high heat. Rub steaks with oil and season on both sides with salt and pepper. Add steaks, searing on the first side. Flip steaks and reduce heat to medium, searing the second side and cooking to desired doneness. Remove from pan to rest 5 min.
3. Add spring mix, tomatoes, radishes, and onion to a large bowl bowl.
2. Blend oil, balsamic, honey, some salt and pepper, and a little herbes de province in a small bowl. Toss half the dressing with the salad. Salad can be left in the bowl or divided between plates.
4. Slice steaks. Arrange on salad. Sprinkle over walnuts and blue cheese. Drizzle with remaining dressing. Serve.

Serves 4. Per serving: 1 1/2 green, 1 blue, 1 orange, 1 red, 1 tsp

Monday, January 4, 2016

Monday Musings: Finding Value in Things Forgotten

While staying at my parents house over the holidays, I got the urge to go through some of my old papers that were in my closest. I found a folder with construction paper and little drawings and poems. I even had pen pal letters from 3rd grade, where we corresponded with undergraduates in elementary ed. At the time, they seemed like such big kids, but now it's funny to think that I'm older than they were at that time!

I came across a couple of things I was really proud of. One was a drawing and the other was 3-page play. I'm not sure how old the drawing was, but the play was from 1999 (8th grade). It was like I was seeing these items for the first time because it had been so long since I last saw them. The thing is, they were really good. It got me to thinking about all the stuff we criticize ourselves about. I probably picked at these projects back then, not realizing or appreciating my talent. I'm sure 15 years from now, I won't even remember the stuff I pick at myself about now, and if I rediscover some thesis draft or little picture I've drawn somewhere, I might really admire my younger self. If that's true, then maybe we should go ahead and cut ourselves some slack now and realize how talented and fascinating we are in the present. One of these days we will run out of 15 years of waiting time and have spent a decade and a half not appreciating our unique gifts.

Don't waste time. Appreciate your gifts now.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Grain-Free Maple Butter Brownies

Happy New Year! Happy Birthday to this blog (7 years old!), and Happy Birthday to ME!

I woke up to the smell of bacon today, so I knew it was going to be an awesome birthday. As much as I love to cook, it's really awesome to wake up to someone else making breakfast. That's one of the nicest things about being home. I feel taken care of.

After breakfast I had to adult for a little while and get my eyes checked at the eye doctor. Though I'm a year older, thankfully my very minimal prescription hasn't changed! Plus my new glasses are awesome. One of the pairs makes me feel intellectual, so if I'm not on my A-game one of these days I can sport those bad boys and fake it till I make it.  Tonight is a special dinner out with my family and then I'm going to Baskin Robbins to have one of their 31 flavors since I turned the big 3-1 today!

I hardly ever make sweets on this blog, but my birthday seems like the appropriate time to do so!

I have a lot of dessert recipes I've come up with, but I've never tested of posted them here. One of them is the following recipe, which is loosely based on a non-gluten-free butterscotch brownie recipe I found 2 years ago. One of my most favorite flavors in the world is maple, which is right up there next to chocolate, so its about time for them to be merged into brownie deliciousness!

Maple Butter Brownies
Printable Recipe

1/4 cup coconut flour, sifted
1/4 + 1 tbsp cup cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for the pan
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 8"x 8" square baking pan.
2. In a medium bowl, blend coconut flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
3. In a small bowl, blend melted butter with maple syrup, vanilla, and eggs.
4. With a fork or spoon, blend maple mixture into the cocoa mixture until smooth. Fold in walnuts and chocolate chips.
5. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 30 min, or until the edges start to pull away from the pan slightly and the center is set but still soft. Let rest 10 min before serving, warm, or cool completely and serve.

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