Auron’s [apple] AwesomeSauce

My son likes to hang out in the kitchen with me.  He’s pretty dern tall for his age, but he STILL likes to stand on a chair and watch me cook.  He towers over me, casts a major shadow on my workspace, and is always asking if he can help.  It’s awesome.  He’s awesome.

He loves Granny Smith apples, so we picked up a few the other day.  Once we got home, he asked if we could make applesauce.  I told him of course we could, but HE had to develop the recipe and name it.  I let him smell several spices to see what he might want to incorporate, and he also helped chop the apples.  We had a great time and ended up with a super simple applesauce that I will probably make regularly from now on.  There was a little bit of an argument about whether or not we should add ghee, but Mommy won that one (and later he agreed that it was a good move).  The ghee added a little more depth and nuttiness to the finished product.  This recipe yields about 3 cups, and I’ll be honest – it didn’t last very long in our house.  In fact, I think Auron is finishing it as I type.  Makes a nutritious after-school snack or dessert, even if you are following The 21 Day Sugar Detox (which I completed earlier this year and plan to do again soon – hopefully this time with my husband on board).

Auron’s [apple] AwesomeSauceAuron's AwesomeSauce
makes approx. 3 cups

ingredients
4 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
1 tsp orange zest
1 Tbsp grass-fed ghee

directions
Mix all ingredients in a large saucepan and simmer for about 20 minutes, until apples are soft.  Mash mixture to desired consistency (we like ours a little chunkier, and this favorite tool of mine worked brilliantly!).   Cool and store in a covered glass container in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.  Sauce will thicken a bit as it cools.

We hope you enjoy his “awesome” apple sauce!

Always,
Abbey (& Auron)

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Strawberry Lemonade Chia Cups

My family and I had a fantastic play date in Dallas on Saturday.  We finally checked out HG Sply Co. for a great paleo lunch, hung out for a while at Klyde Warren Park, then finished our day listening to great music by our friends Rahim and Thiago at Ascension Coffee in the Dallas Design District.  It was one of those days that just makes me smile when I think about it.

A week or so ago, I was inspired by Vanessa at Plaid & Paleo, to finally try my hand at chia pudding.  She posted a simple recipe for Paleo Cranberry Chia Cups that caught my attention.  Since I have didn’t all the ingredients she used, I got creative with what I had on hand as I reminisced about my family’s sunny and smiley weekend together.  I still definitely plan on trying Vanessa’s recipe since I LOVE cranberries, but for now, we have Strawberry Lemonade Chia Cups.  Topped with fresh strawberries and packed with calcium, vit C, antioxidants, omega 3’s, etc., they are a wonderful and healthful treat my son and I are enjoying together today.

Strawberry Lemonade Chia Cups

Strawberry Lemonade Chia Cups
serves 4

ingredients
13.5 oz. can of full-fat coconut milk
Zest and juice from 2 lemons, + 2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup chia seeds
1 Tbsp local honey
2 cups organic strawberries, chopped
2 Tbsp filtered water
1 tsp grass-fed gelatin
1 cup organic strawberries, diced (optional)

directions
Combine coconut milk, lemon zest and juice from two lemons, honey, and chia seeds in a bowl.  Stir and pour into small containers (these worked great).  Refrigerator 1 hour until set.

Once pudding is set, simmer chopped strawberries, water, and remaining 2 Tbsp lemon juice in small pan for 20 minutes.  Puree strawberries in blender or food processor then return to pan.  Stir in gelatin until dissolved.  Let cool for a few minutes, then gently pour or spoon strawberry mixture atop each pudding cup.  Refrigerate 4 hours, or overnight.

Top with diced strawberries to serve.

Since this is my first time experimenting with chia seeds, I’d love to know how others use them.  What is your favorite way to use chia?

Always,
Abbey

A Valentine’s Day Menu

Growing up, Valentine’s Day was always made special in our home.  My parents got married on Valentine’s Day thirty years ago (my dad is a hopeless romantic and my mom loves hearts) and they have never failed to get me some form of gift – as a child, it was always a heart-shaped box of Reese’s PB Cups, but now it is usually some themed socks and a kitchen towel (which I love!).  Valentine’s Day is also special because it is the day my husband proposed to me ten years ago.  Wanna hear that story?  Sure you do!

Michael and I had gone to look at rings together a few months prior to Feb. 14, 2004, but I had no idea when he was going to ask me to marry him.  Okay, maybe I kind of had an idea… BUT I didn’t know the exact time or details.  Waking up that morning, we looked outside together and it was just beautiful.  The ground was covered in snow, which was a pretty rare site in Texas.  After my shower, I exited the bathroom to find a music stand with a little yellow note taped to it, but Michael was nowhere to be found.  Thus began the Yellow Note Scavenger Hunt.  For the next hour or so, I drove around town going from yellow note to yellow note, deciphering clues and smiling.  At the last destination, I walked up to a teddy bear with the final clue tucked into his I AM LOVED sweater.  Then Michael walked out from behind a pillar, got down on one knee, and asked me to marry him – right as it started snowing (which is one of my favorite details).  And here we are ten years later.

We cooked our Val-Day meal a day early.  I wanted to have a meal that made me feel, well, sexy.  The last meal that did that was at Gordon Ramsay Steak in Las Vegas, so I figured it best to let that meal inspire this one.

A Valentine’s Day Menu (recipes below)
HeartBeet Salad, with arugula, herb-crusted goat cheese, and jalepeno-infused olive oil
Garlic Rubbed New York Strip with a Rosemary Mushroom Sauce, Lemon Steamed Broccoli
Chocolate Soup, Fennel Vanilla Panna Cotta with Balsamic & Black Pepper Pomegranate Strawberries

HeartBeet SaladHeartBeet Salad
serves 1-2, best to share and maybe feed to each other

ingredients
2 organic beets, peeled, cooked, and cooled (I used Love Beets)
1/4 cup fresh arugula
Herb-Crusted Goat Cheese (see below)
Jalepeno-infused olive oil (see below)
Sea Salt
Cracked Black Pepper

For the jalepeno-infused olive oil, you will need:
1 jalepeno, membrane and seeds removed, sliced
3/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil.

Pour olive oil into a jar or bowl with lid.  Add jalepeno slices.  Seal and let sit for at least 1.5 hours before serving.
*This oil will have a slight, lingering spice to it – just enough to leave you wanting a little more.

For the Herb-Crusted Goat Cheese, you will need:
1 tbsp each of the following fresh herbs, finely chopped: Tarragon, Thyme, Rosemary, Italian Parsley
Zest of one lemon
Pinch of sea salt
4 oz. goat cheese

Mix the herbs, zest, and salt in a small bowl.  With your hands, roll goat cheese into several little balls, approx. 3/4″ in diameter.  Roll the goat cheese balls into the herb mixture.  Place on a dish and refrigerator for at 1 hour before serving.

Assemble your salad:
directions
Arrange arugula on plate.

Slice beets into 1/4″ thick slices.  Using a small heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut beets into hearts.  Some slices will not be large enough, and that’s okay.  This is intended to be a very light starter salad.

Place beet hearts and herb-crusted goat cheese on top of arugula.  Drizzle with jalepeno infused olive oil.

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Garlic Rubbed New York StripGarlic Rubbed New York Strip

ingredients
2 good sized grass-fed NY strip steaks, 1.5″ thick
4 garlic cloves
2 tbsp ghee, melted
Sea salt
Cracked black pepper

directions
Heat oven to 200 degrees.  Preheat grill pan on medium for 10-15 minutes, until very hot.

Place steaks on cutting board and rub each side with one pressed garlic clove.  Let steaks sit for about 20 minutes, then add plenty of sea salt and cracked black pepper to all sides right before you are ready to cook.

Grill steaks in pan approx. 2 minutes per side.  You can also turn the steaks on the side and grill them if you’d like.  Place pan in oven for about 15-20 minutes, until steaks are cooked to medium-rare.  If you’d like to use a thermometer, aim for an internal temp of 135 degrees.

Remove steaks from oven and let rest at least 10 minutes before cutting.
Note: I served our steaks with a Rosemary Mushroom Sauce that still needs some tweaking.  Once perfected, I will edit this post.

Lemon Steamed Broccoli
Slice one lemon and add slices to 1″ of water in a saucepan.  Place 2 cups of broccoli florets in a steamer basket in saucepan and cover.  Steam until bright green and tender crisp.  Toss will sea salt and additional lemon juice if you prefer.

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Chocolate Soup, Fennel Vanilla Panna Cotta with Balsamic & Black Pepper Pomegranate Strawberries
serves
3-4

As I told my Instagram followers, I’ve never been terribly talented in the area of desserts.  I can follow a recipe, just not yet completely confident in creating my own.  I decided to bring a couple different recipes together for this very successful sweet and sexy ending.

ingredients
Fennel Vanilla Panna Cotta, by Empowered Sustenance (GAPS, Paleo – bonus!)Chocolate Soup, Fennel Vanilla Panna Cotta
Chocolate Soup (see below)
Balsamic & Black Pepper Pomegranate Strawberries (see below)

For the Chocolate Soup:
I used the recipe for Bittersweet Hot Cocoa from The 21 Day Sugar Detox by Diane Sanfilippo, and added 2-1/2 tbsp of grade B Maple Syrup.  I chilled the mixture and stirred it before serving.

Balsamic & Black Pepper Pomegranate Strawberries

ingredients
1/2 cup organic strawberries, stems removed, diced
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper

directions
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour.  The balsamic vinegar and the fruit sugars will mix to form a syrup.

Assemble your dessert:
Place Panna Cotta in the center of a shallow bowl. Ladle Chocolate Soup around Panna Cotta, being careful not to drip on the Panna Cotta.  Top Panna Cotta with Balsamic &  Black Pepper Pomegranate Strawberries.

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Always,
Abbey

Pork, Sweet Potato, & Cabbage Stew with Avocado Pesto Cream

I really wasn’t trying to post another soup recipe so soon, but this was so good that I wanted to go ahead and share it with you.   Plus, it was still quite cold and a wee bit icy in Dallas last night, so a soup or stew just made sense.   Today, however, the sun is out – and I’m thrilled!

I mentioned on my Instagram account last night that I would be coming up with a different recipe for this stew since I had used the last of George Bryant’s amazing CrockPot Pulled Pork as the protein.  I thought long and hard about this as I ate my leftovers earlier today and realized that you shouldn’t always mess with perfection (sometimes you should, but this isn’t one of those times), and his pulled pork recipe is pretty much perfection.  I honestly couldn’t imagine this soup any differently.  It is spicy, smoky, and earthy, with the brightness and strength of the pesto cream as the most wonderful compliment.  Enjoy!

Pork, Sweet Potato, & Cabbage Stew with Avocado Pesto Cream
serves 4 – 6

ingredients
1 lb leftover CrockPot Pulled Pork (or you could use your favorite pulled pork recipe, but I can’t promise the flavors will work as well)
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed (3/4” cubes)
2 cups red cabbage, coarsely chopped
3 cups homemade beef stock/broth
1 cup filtered water
Zest of (1) lime
2 tsp of lime juice
3 slices lime
2 Tbsp sunbutter
1/3 cup full-fat coconut milk

directions
Add all ingredients, except coconut milk, to slow cooker and cook on HIGH 2 hours.  Switch heat to LOW and continue cooking for approximately 4 hours.  About an hour prior to serving, slowly incorporate milk, stirring constantly, until thoroughly mixed.  Continue to heat on KEEP WARM setting if your slow cooker allows.  If not, LOW should work just fine.  Top with Avocado Pesto Cream (recipe below).

 Avocado Pesto Cream
makes approx. 1 cup

1 small bunch fresh cilantro
1/2 cup walnuts
Juice of half a lime
1 garlic clove
1/2 tsp sea salt (more to taste, if necessary)
1-1/2 tbsp EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
1/4 cup light olive oil
1/2 ripe avocado, cubed

Combine cilantro, walnuts, lime juice, garlic, sea salt, and EVOO in food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped .  Add light olive oil and process until until fully incorporated and smooth.  If using immediately, add avocado and process until avocado is smooth.  If you plan to freeze it for future use, leave out the avocado for now, then thaw mixture when you’re ready and process with avocado prior to serving.

Note: this pesto is a wonderful addition to hardboiled eggs as well (I might have eaten that as a late-night snack…)

Always,
Abbey

What did one snowman say to the other snowman?

“It smells like carrots.”

Apparently I have been on some kind of nerdy, subconscious Lost kick lately. In the last two days I have captured the following TV moments on my handy iPhone because I got a little too excited:

The Man in Black on Law & Order SVU
The Man in Black on Law & Order SVU
Yes, this guy is named Richard Alpert.  I shall henceforth call him Richardus.
Yes, this guy is named Richard Alpert. I shall henceforth call him Richardus.

It SNOWED in Dallas yesterday. Okay, it wasn’t the amazing, powdery, gorgeous whiteness that I was hoping for – it was more like the stab-you-in-the-face-with-needles cold with some decent flurries, but it still SNOWED.  So after some wonderful peppermint coffee and a pretty simple lunch, I was in the mood to cook.  And the feel and smell of the cold air (yes, it has a distinct smell) made me want soup.   Guess what kind of soup I made?  (Hint: re-read the riddle above – the one about snowmen)

What else do you do when you have a 10lb bag of organic carrots from Costco that you need to use up?
What else do you do when you have a 10lb bag of organic carrots from Costco that you need to use?

And here you have it folks – my first ever blogged recipe.  It was husband-, son-, and parent-approved, and believe me… they are all VERY honest about my cooking.  It isn’t a super sweet carrot soup, which often bothers me about some I’ve had in the past.  It has a wee bit of spice to it, which you could easily eliminate if you don’t like spice or if you are following Autoimmune protocol.  It also is completely dairy free and uses raw cashews for the creamy element, rather than coconut milk – but you could most certainly use that if that is what you’ve got on hand.  I just happened to be out of coconut milk, but did have raw cashews.  Score!

Creamy Carrot Soup with Bacon, Cilantro, & Pecans
serves 4-6 hungry people

ingredients
2 pieces nitrate-free bacon, chopped (I prefer to use this to chop, because it is easier)
2 lbs organic carrots, peeled and chopped into 1″ish pieces
2 cups bone broth (chicken is best)
2 cups water (or you could use more broth)
1 medium yellow onion (I like to use this chopper so I don’t cry/for stress relief)
4 cloves garlic, chopped or pressedIMG_7523[1]
1/2 tsp coriander
1 tsp ginger
3/4 tsp cumin
3/4 tsp oregano
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp good sea salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
juice of 1 lime or lemon
1/2 cup raw cashews (soaked if you prefer)

Recommended toppings for soup:
bacon
chopped fresh cilantro
chopped pecans
avocado would also be divine because it always is.

directions
Add chopped carrots, bone broth, and water to a medium pan and bring to a boil.  Boil for 15-20 minutes until carrots are VERY tender.

While carrots are boiling, add chopped bacon to a cool skillet and render out the fat on med-low until the bacon is crisp.  Remove the delicious meaty bits with a slotted spoon and place them on a paper towel to cool.

Return your skillet with all the lovely bacon fat to the heat and add the chopped onion.  Sauté the onion for 2-3 minutes, until it begins to become translucent.  Add garlic, spices, and salt, and continue cooking for 8-10 minutes, until onion is soft.

Remove carrots from their pan, but reserve liquid.  Add onion mix, carrots, lime juice, and cashews to a blender or food processor, along with some of the broth/water in which you boiled the carrots.  The amount of liquid you add will depend on the consistency you’d like your soup.  I actually used all the liquid and the soup was still nice and thick.

Ladle soup into bowls and please top with bacon, chopped pecans, and fresh cilantro, because that is what finished everything off perfectly.  I did not add chopped avocado this time as recommended above, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing that from now on.  Carrots and avocados are really good friends at my house.

I hope you love it as much as my family did.  I’m excited for the leftovers because I’m pretty sure I’ll have this for breakfast :-).  Oh, and this is Whole30 and 21DSD approved!

Always,
Abbey

Creamy Carrot Soup with Bacon, Cilantro, & Pecans
Creamy Carrot Soup with Bacon, Cilantro, & Pecans

Tonight’s the night.

I relish the transformation process.  Tonight, I make my first post and ask you to come along with me.  This blog will be a collection of recipes, portfolio entries, and whatever else tickles my fancy in the moment.

Growing up, I watched my dad remodel our own home (constantly and still, to this day) and I always looked in wonder as the space transformed right before my brown eyes.  I think I fought becoming a designer for a while, but alas, it happened.  And I design.  I design Kitchens, I design Bathrooms, and I design plates.  Not literally dishes, but I compose meals.  I love food and cooking and have as long as I can remember.  I create, and it is pretty awesome.

“Tonight’s the night. It’s going to happen again and again.” – Dexter Morgan