Under a Vacuum

I have a bit of an obsession with kitchen gadgets. We won’t even talk about how many whisks I have, or the fact every time a certain friend goes to the Le Creuset Factory Outlet I ask them to pick me up a whisk. The obsession does not stop at whisks, it goes to pots and pans, cool electronics, bakeware…the list is a mile long.

Last year I saw a Kickstarter campaign for this Sansaire Sous-Vide Immersion Circulator. Have you ever watched top chef and seen them vacuum seal food (meat) and put it in a water bath? That is sous vide. As soon as I saw the Kickstarter I was immediately interested, but arrived a little late to the campaign and was unable to procure a unit.

Then it happened. The Sur La Table catalogue came in the mail and on the front page…the Sansaire.  SOLD! Sur La Table has a military discount (those sweet sweet people) which made this an even more exciting procurement. I was completely geeking out with the store employees over this thing.

I picked up some steaks and got to work (the excitement in my kitchen was electric).


Sous Vide is French for “under vacuum”. You vacuum seal whatever food you want to cook and submerge it in water. The machine takes care of circulating the water and making sure it stays at the same temperature the entire time. The great thing about sous vide cooking is that if you want a medium rare steak, you get a medium rare steak, you can’t over cook it (the water stays at a constant temperature, the food will not go over that temp). I like my steaks a little on the rare side so this meant it was not going to be overcooked. Perfect steak, every time.

I had a never used a machine like this in my kitchen before so I figured steak would be a good place to start. I used some hickory salt and some fresh pepper, along with a sprig of thyme and rosemary and vacuum sealed each steak separately. I set the Sansaire to 52 degrees celsius and let it do what it does. Once the water bath was at 52 degrees, I dropped in the steaks. I let them cook for an hour and then pulled them out and seared them for about a minute (probably less because I am impatient).


I wish I had seared them better, but like I said…impatient. Maybe I should just get a blowtorch and torch them instead (that would be fun!)


This is not a good picture, but the steak was probably a medium rare. My lessons learned for my first experiment were that 1) for a rarer steak I need to turn the temperature down (I’d probably turn it to 48.8 degrees celsius) 2) do a better sear 3) patience.

Other than that, the steak was awesome. Everyone loved it and I was extremely impressed with how easy it was to use a device like this (as well as the result).

Next experiments – eggs and chicken (not at the same time). I’m completely hooked.

It Beets Broccoli

I have not always been a fan of beets. That purple nutrient dense superfood that can almost always be found gracing the shelves of our supermarkets. In fact, it was not until we went Paleo in January that I started eating them again. Three months in and my palate has done a 180 pivot.

Refined sugar is out, my body stopped craving it probably 30 days in. I stopped feeling like it was a necessity in my diet. Foods that were not sweet before I stopped eating refined sugar are now extremely sweet. Beets being one of those foods. They are like natures candy.

My friend at In Five Paragraphs or Less wrote a blog The Simple Truth About Vitamins about two months ago, which, after reading almost every Paleo book Amazon carries, still rings true and is still a conscious thought in my mind as I peruse the grocery store looking for foods to feed my family. They (the blog and the books) all talk about 1) variety (eating lots of color) 2) vitamins (making sure we are getting enough to sustain life). My husbands biggest struggle in the Paleo transition was that he was always hungry at first. The deal was that he would get his portion of protein (6oz per sitting) and then could have as many vegetables as he wanted. Which basically meant he was eating pounds upon pounds of vegetables. 3 months later, meals are 6 oz of protein and about a pound of vegetables which is very filling and sometimes a little too much.

In an effort to change our vegetables up, I have picked up purple cauliflower (which my kids found “SUPER COOL!!”, but were not sure they should eat), jicama, squash, and now…beets (we had been eating a lot of broccoli since it is my kids favorite thing to eat and I was tired of it). I had a beet salad while I was out to dinner a couple weeks ago and it was love at first bite. Recreating it was on the top of my list.

Beets contain tons of antioxidants, which basically means, if you eat them, you will become superman/woman. If you want to test your digestive health, eat beets. If you have low stomach acid or weak digestion, you’ll have beeturia (otherwise knows as…pink pee). It is a magic vegetable.

Beet salad, like the one I am about to share is pretty simple to throw together. I will tell you what I used, but you add all kind of stuff.

beetsBeet Salad

4 beets, baked and skin removed
1 bag of baby spinach
Salad add-ins (cucumbers, tomatoes, hard boiled egg, shredded chicken, avocado, etc.)


I made a lemon vinaigrette to brighten up my salad, but any vinaigrette works.

Throw it all together and enjoy! Now that you’ve eaten this super healthy salad, you can have a cupcake! (Hahaha. I’m kidding…maybe…)

When it’s warm…

We grill.

Yesterday was a beautiful day here in Southern New England. The sun was out, the temperature was over 50 degrees, the birds were singing – you get the picture. I had been itching to pick up some charcoal and pull the grill out. I jumped at the opportunity yesterday to do a little pre-summer grilling.

I almost forgot how easy and mess free it is to throw a piece of meat on a grill, cut it up, put it on the table. Dinner last night was a breeze and I was grateful for that. Winter meals are always time consuming. Chili’s need to bubble away for hours. Soups need to simmer. Not only that but one hundred thousand vegetables need to be cut up. Spring and summer meals are meant to be a reprieve from that (right?).

Back to dinner. Carne Asada Burrito Bowls. Packed with flavor and bright colors.

Carne Asada Steak Marinade 

3/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup lime juice
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup coconut aminos
1 tsp chopped canned chipotle pepper
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 Tablespoon paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
1 Tablespoon black pepper
1 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 cup olive oil
3 lbs of flank steak

Place all of the ingredients, minus the steak into a blender and blend until smooth. Place the steak and marinate in a gallon size zip top bag and marinate for 4 hours in the refrigerator. Take the steak out of the refrigerator (and out of the bag), pat dry and grill (for about 4-5 minutes on each side for medium rare). Slice it up against the grain.

Grill up some of your favorite burrito vegetables. Toss on a bed of lettuce with guacamole and salsa and VOILA! Dinner!

Carne Asada Burrito Bowl

This life, it sparkles.

In June of 2004 a gentleman walked into my place of employment asking if we had any job openings. I can not remember if we did or did not, but he applied anyways. In the spot where you write your previous residence he wrote, Honolulu, Hawai’i.

No one in their right mind moves from Hawai’i to Maine. That’s just crazy. Anyone who does is clearly mental and therefore not employable (kidding…kind of). We hired him anyways (probably based on the fact he had come back in 150 times asking for a job, we were so fed up we just gave him a job) and made him work all of the shifts no one wanted. He basically did anything we asked him to and ended up being a great part of our team.

I ended up resigning from my job after receiving an opportunity for higher paying employment and lost touch with my old coworkers. One night in 2006 the mental gentlemen from Hawai’i found me on Myspace and struck up a conversation. Later we met up for drinks and chatted some more. He was a great friend, but I had been single for only a few months after my last boyfriend and was not looking for a new relationship (age old tale, the minute you stop looking is the minute you find someone).

He was such a great friend when I moved into a new apartment he bought me a housewarming gift (a bottle of Lindemann’s Framboise and some other awesome things). My roommates gave me a hard time saying, “He really likes you, no guy friend buys their girl friends housewarming gifts.” I laughed and shrugged them off. They had no idea what we were talking about.

He and I had a ton of fun. We went ‘mudding’ in his Jeep with no doors, top off. We hiked. We drove up ATV trails in his Jeep.

Cait Tub

I sat in bathtubs that we found in the middle of the woods. It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s…it’s a bathtub.


After driving up an ATV trail. (I just threw those shoes out and I may have donated the jeans at some point). That poor Jeep. It went through a lot before we sold it.

Somewhere amidst running around the state of Maine I started to agree with my roommates. We decided at some point in 2006 to start dating and see where it went. By 2007 we were engaged and about 3 months after we got engaged we got married (the Navy NEEDED my now husband back at sea).


(Not the greatest picture, but definitely one of my favorites)

In the past seven years, there have been two kids.


(c) Cogdell Photography

My oldest was born in 2007, 5 weeks before my husband deployed. To say our first year of marriage was the most difficult would have been an understatement. I was alone with a new (colicky) baby, living in a city where I thought if I had to get on the highway it would be a surefire way to get myself killed. I learned quickly to adapt, make friends, and also learned how to drive in crazy traffic. This child and I have clawed our way through many rough days (with the help of the San Diego Zoo, Sea World, Breakers Beach and Beard Papa’s). We have been very fortunate here in Rhode Island to find a child counselor who has helped her learned ways to cope when Dad is gone and taught me how to better help her stay confident when her life gets shaken up by Navy moves and deployments.


My youngest is what us Military Spouses refer to as a deployment baby. This child is my eternal optimist. She always reminds me that “everything will be okay, we just need cookies.”

Multiple pets:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(My dog, Danger. He got a little aggressive after my oldest was born and we found him another wonderful home)

241220_1930193248510_7159235_o(Admiral Thatcher, our adorable and loving yellow lab)

1374736_10201248899558521_244929124_n(Abby, the rabbit. Chillin’ with Admiral Thatcher, her BFF.)

There have been moves:

We started out in Maine. Moved to San Diego. From San Diego we moved to Hawaii. From Hawaii we moved to Rhode Island and we are currently on the countdown clock for our next Navy move.

There have been deployments:


As well as REFTRA’s, TAD’s, TDY’s, UNDERWAY’s, etc.


This was sent to me during a deployment. It cracks me up every time I look at it (I know it’s not kid friendly, but…it’s funny in a Navy Wife during deployment humor kind of way).

There have been promotions:



242398_1952077195595_4685128_oPromotion with the help of our kiddos.

This year brings him 19 years of Naval service. Pretty stellar for a farm kid from a little town in Washington who enlisted in the Navy with the intent to get out after 4 years. (Does anyone else see a trend with these pictures? The older he gets the younger he looks, the older I get the older I look. Must be the saltwater.)

There have been learning experiences:

My husband was deployed in 2008 when gas hit an all time high in Southern California. I think I was paying something like $5/gal to fill my SUV. After a $100 fill up, I had, had it. I emailed my husband to tell him I was going to trade the SUV in for a sedan with better mpg. I had never, ever gone to a dealership to buy a car. I somehow managed.

During that same deployment my kitchen faucet broke (this is a reoccurring event when my husband is away) as did one of the toilets. I quickly learned how to be a plumber.

I learned how to be married to a person that I rarely talked to face to face. Email is a beautiful thing, but it is hard to figure out how someone is saying something that is typed. Then, once I got the email communication figured out, we were on shore duty and had to figure out how to talk face to face (I think it’s the Navy’s way of ‘switching it up’ so we become excellent communicators).

I learned how to cook and bake, because pizza gets old after a couple months.

There have been tears:

We were at Sea World and someone stole my Maclaren stroller. I told my husband that I would just steal a Bugaboo stroller to make up for it. He said no. I was already in tears. The moral of that story ended up being ‘We’re not in Maine anymore’ (because people don’t steal strollers in Maine). Also, I probably would not have actually stolen someone else’s stroller. I would have been consumed with guilt, but I definitely had the thought (also, not an excuse, but I was pregnant with my youngest at the time and maybe a little hormonal).

In return for my stroller, Sea World gave my oldest child passes for Breakfast with Sesame Street which we used for her 1st birthday.


(Great picture!)


I’m not sure who had more fun, the kid or the husband.

There was another time when my husband was gone. There was a centipede in my oldest daughters bed, I had not slept in days thanks to the mongoose that was running around in my attic, and the geckos were chirping non-stop. There were tears and tongs (to eradicate the centipede). There were also flying cockroaches. That was Hawai’i. I will not be going back there.

Then there was homecoming in 2008 where I was horrified that I might have to sit on the pier for hours and wait for my husband. As a pretty introverted person, standing amongst people I hardly knew was almost debilitating (I’m way better at dealing with strangers now). I think I cried for a week until I figured out a way to pick him up without having to stand on the pier. I parked at the commissary across the street and made him walk. I had to go grocery shopping anyways, might as well kill two birds with one stone.

There have been laughs:

My husband and I have an incredible amount of fun together. No matter where we are, we always have fun. We joke and we make each other laugh. To this day I don’t know anyone who has made me laugh more than he has.


Here he is brushing a Pony’s hair before leaving for work. The kids did his hair by placing a lobster on his head.

Through all of this, there has always been the two of us. We work hard to balance time for just us with time that we spend together with the kids. We have dinner after the kids go to bed and watch a movie or just sit and talk or read in each others company. We go out to nice dinners. We have great adventures while leaving the kids with a sitter for the day. We have gone to amazing concerts. I soak up all of the time we spend together and store it in my memory for the days he is away and I’m having a rough day, because it’s special.

(c) Winegeart Photography

(c) Winegeart Photography

Today is our anniversary and I can honestly say that I love my husband more today than I did when we got married. We have had such an adventure and I can’t wait to see what the future holds. I am so grateful for that man that walked in almost 10 years ago inquiring about a job. He has blessed my life in so many ways.

When all my faith has gone, you bring it back to me. You make it real for me.


It’s a Cake Walk.

My oldest daughter had an ‘Arts Night’ at school. It’s a super cute production her school puts on to show off kids art. I love seeing all of the creative imaginative things they do in her class and all of the things her and her classmates come up with.

They had a couple other activities going on during Arts night, one being a cake walk.

I have not participated in a cake walk in years, definitely over 15. The school had asked for donations of cake, cupcakes, and cookies to give out to the winners. I pondered over what to make. I didn’t have many conventional ingredients left and I did not want to buy more. So…back to the paleo cookbooks.

Goodness. I’m going to be that weird mom that shows up with goodies made out of grass. 


No Bake Chocolate Chip ‘Peanut Butter’ Cookies
Adapted from Paleo Chocolate Lovers’ Cookbook.

Did I forget to mention, they also had to be easy to make since I have had a bit of a busy week. Need cookies in a hurry? Here’s your cookie…you’re welcome.

1/2 a cup of Medjool Dates (for my local readers, BJ’s has huge boxes of these)
1/2 a cup of Organic Sunbutter (sugar free)
1 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup Mini Chocolate Chips (I used Enjoy Life, they have a little bit of sugar in them, but they are nut, dairy and soy free)

Put the dates and sunbutter in a food processor and mix until they two are blended, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the coconut, vanilla and salt and blend again until everything is sticking together (about a minute or so). Take the dough out of the food processor bowl and fold in the chocolate chips.

Using a small cookie scoop. Scoop the dough and roll it into balls. Place in the refrigerator to set. These cookies need to be refrigerated (if they last that long).

I whipped these up and threw them (literally, haha) in the refrigerator in less than 20 minutes. I then told my oldest daughter that she better win them back during the cake walk.

cookie 2

She did not win the cake walk at all (parents collective sigh…phew!) and these cookies were taken first (yay for not feeling like a weirdo!)

Built Fire with Sticks. Made Empanadas.

I love pie (we have covered this but I thought I would reiterate). Flaky buttery crust. Delicious fillings. Yum.

I have been working my way through a couple different paleo cookbooks, basically trying to learn the ins and outs of cooking and baking paleo. I had baked cakes for so long and made foods that were filled with gluten that I was not sure how to make or bake things without it. It’s been a pretty great learning experience. I also read every Paleo/Primal book I could get my hands on. (The Paleo Manifesto by John Durant…life changer and one of my favorites so far. He is not preachy, nor does he come off like a snob. It’s a fantastic read. I love books that make me think.)

So, I’ve learned a lot. The more puzzle pieces I put together, the more I understand how this lifestyle works and why it works. Also, ways to maintain it (I do go out to dinner from time to time. It has become infinitely easier to figure out what to order off a menu.)

Anyways, back to the pie. To be more specific, Chicken Enchilada Empanada’s from Primal Cravings. Not really Pie, but close enough.

Enchilada Empanada


My kids went absolutely bonkers for these delicious little pockets and I have to say, I was blown away. We made a double batch so that we would have leftovers and I think the leftovers were even better than the batch directly out of the oven. They were a bit time consuming to to make (rolling out 40 little circles of dough…super fun), but well worth the time it took.

Chicken Enchilada Empanadas
Adapted from Primal Cravings


15 ounces of tomato sauce (we buy HUGE cans of this since we go through it so fast, but one 15 ounce can will get you there)
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 Tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon powdered onion
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 lb. chicken breast, cubed into 1/2 inch or smaller cubes

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and prepare a baking sheet with a silpat or unbleached parchment paper.

In a large saucepan mix all of the filling ingredients and let simmer for 20 minutes.


2 cups tapioca flour
1/2 cup potato flour (not to be confused with potato starch)
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup water
2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 large eggs

Take out two bowls. In one mix all of the dry ingredients together (minus the gelatin). In the second bowl, mix the gelatin and water together and allow the gelatin to bloom for about a minute. Mix in the rest of the wet ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until they form a ball. Knead a couple times for good measure. Divide the ball into 20 uniform balls (about 35-37 oz each) and press them into thin discs.

On the baking sheet place one disc. In the center of that put 3 tablespoons of filling and top with a second disc (this is where things get messy). Press and roll the sides to create a seal. Do this with the other 18 discs.

Make an egg wash consisting of 1 egg yolk and 1 Tablespoon of water. Brush the top of the completed empanadas. Bake on the center rack for 28 minutes.

The best part of these was that I could throw them in my husband and daughters lunch boxes and it was like a pocket sandwich. Win-win.

This crust would also be fantastic filled with some pizza sauce and sausage (maybe a little pepperoni?) and mushrooms. It’s on my list of things to do.

Pickled Silly.

The first time I opened the Nom Nom Paleo cookbook, I saw them.

Pickled Carrots.

I had no idea such a thing existed, but I had to make them. The first time I attempted them I thought I would use my mandoline to julienne the carrots. That turned out to be a bust. I sliced one of my fingers.

For my birthday my mom and stepdad bought me a Julienne Peeler (I love kitchen stuff!) and I set out making the carrot strings once again, this time without cutting my fingers.

carrot strings

These are super quick and super easy. They make a great lunch time side. If you are over eating tuna fish (like me), try it a different way with these on top in a lettuce cup. SUPER yummy!

Quick Pickled Carrot Strings
Adapted from Nom Nom Paleo

1/4 cup apple juice
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3 carrots (you can julienne them or even cut them into thin circles)

Put all the ingredients in a bowl, make sure the carrots are covered by the liquid and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (I refrigerated mine overnight and they were delicious). Enjoy!

Today I am trying something new, fermented ketchup. The Domestic Man posted the recipe yesterday, along with the history of ketchup and I quickly gathered all of the ingredients so that I could start it today. I’m kind of excited (in a geeky foodie kind of way).


Refrigeration Organization and Eating Paleo on a Budget

Before we started Whole30 we purged everything out of our refrigerator and pantry by way of eating it. I know the book probably says not to do that, but I was not going to waste it. Once we started, we had a clean slate.

It’s no secret that eating ‘clean’ or ‘green’ can be a little bit expensive. As a wife to a hungry sailor and mom of two with a grocery budget, I have tried hard to stay within the confines of that budget while continuing on the paleo lifestyle road. I have a couple tricks.

1.) Stay ultra-organized.

Here is my refrigerator:


 (Sorry for the fuzzy photo, my camera does not want to play nice)fridge door

Everything has its place and I can see everything that it in there. We keep all of our meat in the freezer and take it out as needed. This means nothing spoils and at the end of the week our refrigerator is pretty bare.

2.) Buy in bulk.

My kids (eh hem, husband) eat an enormous amount. Due to the nature of the paleo diet that means a lot of meats and vegetables are consumed. A LOT.

If you are buying from small farms a really great way to get the best price is to buy in bulk. Here in Rhode Island there are farmers that sell grass-fed beef for $5/lb as long as you buy at least 20 lbs. That’s kind of a no-brainer.

At WholeFoods, if you buy more than 3 lbs from their butcher section you can get .50 off per pound. Not only that, but if you buy a case of almost any product they carry, they will give you 10% off. (No joke, a case of Paleonola at Wholefoods rings in at about $86.30, that’s $7.19 per bag!! Go in with a friend and pay half that or buy two flavors and trade half of them.)

If those options are still above your budget there are still the box stores. Buying bulk packages of ground beef is around $3.39/lb and boneless chicken breast is around $1.99/lb.

We tend to frequent BJs for produce as well (we purchase our Applegate Beef Hot Dogs there because it is two packs for basically the price of one). They have a large variety of organic fruits and vegetables to choose from at a great price. We purchase their enormous bags of frozen organic broccoli (since it is pretty much the only thing my youngest will eat) for $6.99.

And of course there are the CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture). Support your local farmers and get a huge discount on vegetables. Make friends with your farmer at the same time. Win-win.

We go through 5 dozen eggs, 12 lbs of apples, 12 lbs of ground beef, 6 lbs of boneless chicken, 3 lbs of ground pork, 2 lbs of ground veal, 3 lbs London Broil (for jerky), 4 lbs of frozen broccoli, 3-4 heads of cauliflower, 3-4 lbs of carrots, 4 lbs of green beans, 3 lbs of onions, 5 heads of garlic, 4 lbs of bananas, 4 lbs of grapes, and 2 lbs of strawberries every two weeks. Buying in bulk definitely helps.

3.) Make your own flour.

After the third bag of Almond flour my husband had, had it. $7-$10+ for a bag that would last maybe a week? Forget about it.

Pull out your food processor, or high speed blender and make it yourself. Wholefoods sells Almonds for $6.99/lb, which makes an obnoxious amount of almond flour. There are a zillion how to videos on YouTube to help you in this venture. It’s worth it.

I do not make my own Tapioca flour because well, let’s face it, it’s $2.50 a box and probably more of a headache than that to make it.

4.) Make your own milk.

The only things I use the canned coconut milk for are baked goods. If my family is having cereal and putting coconut or almond milk on it, I make it myself.

For almond milk I soak my almonds overnight. Why soak them? Because they are way to difficult to digest if I don’t. How to Sprout Raw Almonds.

I soak one cup of almonds and then the next morning I mix it in my Vitamix with two cups of water. Then I drain it through a Nut Milk Bag and VOILA! Almond milk. I use the paste left over in the bag as almond flour (spread it on the fruit letter sheet and dehydrate on low until it’s dry. Throw it in your blender and blend until it is flour consistency).

Coconut milk is basically the same, minus the overnight soaking. I use two cups of organic unsweetened shredded coconut (it’s $3.00/lb at our local health food store) and put it in my Vitamix with 4 cups of not quite boiling water (195 degrees Fahrenheit). I blend it for a couple minutes and then pour it through the Nut Milk Bag (though a fine mesh sieve works just as well). I pour it into a quart size mason jar and store it in my refrigerator (there is none in the photo because we had run out that morning). I use the left over pulp from the coconut milk to make coconut flour, just like the almond flour.

5.) Make a menu

It seems like a no-brainer, but it has helped us stay on track at the grocery store. It also keeps me firm when my kids do not want to eat something. They don’t have a choice because there is nothing else. We usually make double batches so that my husband and oldest can have it for lunch the next day (my youngest is a grazer like me, I have given up on trying to get her to eat lunch during the day, she basically picks at fruit, veggies, nuts, and lunch meat during the day).

My husband wrote this weeks menu (hence why it is barely legible)(the right side is usually our grocery list for the next week, we do not eat dog food). We usually write only write what we are having as a protein and cycle through vegetables (broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, asparagus, carrots, salad etc.)

grocery list 1

Have any other tips? Please share!

3-2-1! It’s my birthday!

This has been the best year ever. Ever ever. I am so incredibly blessed to have so many amazing, loving, awesome people in my life that have made this year the highlight of my entire life thus far. I am grateful for every single one of them.

This past year in review.

There have been belly laughs.
Laughing so hard I’m crying laughs.
There have been wine nights with girlfriends.
There have been hugs.
There have been, “You’re having a bad day, give me your kids” days.
There has been sarcastic hilarity (my personal favorite).
There has been The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon!!!
There have been books, a lot of books.
There have been late night dinners with my favorite husband.
There have been beautiful drawings from my kids.
There have been “Get your self up and dust yourself off” days.
There has been yarn, shopping, eating therapy.
There have been “learn from this and grow” moments.
There have been lunches and dinners with friends.
There have been impromptu dance parties with my kids.
There have been big decisions. Big Navy decisions.
There has been sending my oldest to kindergarten.
There have been knit nights, knit days, knit 24 hours a day, days.
There have been friends. Old friends and new friends.

I have loved every minute of this past year.

Of course to celebrate another year there needs to be cake.


Chocolate Layer Cake
Adapted from Against All Grain

6 eggs at room temp (if they are cold you can put them in a bowl of warm water for a couple minutes)
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup almond flour
1/3 cup coconut flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup chocolate chips

Set your oven to 325 degrees and grease two 6 inch cake pans with palm shortening. Put a circle of parchment in the bottom of each and grease that as well.

Place all of the wet ingredients in a blender and blend on low until ingredients are combined. Add in the dry ingredients, minus the chocolate chips and blend again until smooth. Transfer the cake batter to a medium size bowl and set aside for 10 minutes. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Divide the batter between the two cake pans (about 380 grams per pan if you weigh your batter like me). Bake for 28-30 minutes. Let cook on a wire rack for about 20 minutes and then invert each cake. Peel off the parchment and flip each cake right side up. Allow to cool completely. Once they are cooled wrap in plastic wrap and set in the refrigerator.

Vanilla Frosting
Adapted from Against All Grain

3/4 cup palm shortening
1 can of coconut milk refrigerated overnight
1/2 cup honey
3 tsp coconut flour
1 tsp vanilla extract

Scoop 1/2 cup of the cold coconut cream off the top of the can and put it in a medium sized bowl. Add the palm shortening and with a hand held beater, blend until it is thick (about 3-5 minutes). Mix in the honey, coconut flour, and vanilla and mix again with hand held beater until smooth. Refrigerator for about 20 minutes.

Take the cake out of the refrigerator and slice it in half horizontally to make 4 layers. Place one layer on a 6″ cake round and spread about 1/4 cup of the vanilla frosting on top. Add the next layer and repeat, until you get to the top layer. You should have enough left over to make a crumb coat around the cake. Place the cake back in the refrigerator to firm up the layers.

Chocolate Swiss Meringue
Adapted from Against All Grain

3/4 cup honey
4 large egg whites
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp lemon juice
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
3/4 cup palm shortening (softened)
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
3.5 oz dark chocolate, melted and brought to room temp. (I used an Equal Exchange Bar per recommendation from The Paleo Chocolate Lovers Cookbook)

Make a double boiler with a saucepan and the bowl of a stand mixer. Bring the water to a simmer. In the bowl add the honey, egg whites, and salt. Stir. Bring this mixture to about 150 degrees.

Remove the bowl and attach it to your stand mixer. Add the lemon juice. Mix on high for about 12 minutes until the mixture has cooled completely and stiff glossy peaks have formed. Turn to low and mix in the cocoa powder. Add the shortening, one spoonful at a time. The frosting may curdle, but after mixing it will come back together. Add the vanilla and beat for another 10 minutes or so. Refrigerate the frosting in the bowl for about 20 minutes.

Place the bowl back on the stand mixer and mixing on low, drizzle the chocolate in. Beat until the chocolate has been combined and the frosting is thick enough to spread.

Take the cake out of the refrigerator and frost with the chocolate frosting. Refrigerate to firm the cake. Take it out an hour before serving to bring it to room temperature.




For breakfast this morning I had coconut yogurt that I made (third try was a charm), with berries on top. It was the perfect start to another amazing year that is sure to be full of adventure.

coconut yogurt



Shake Me.

I have an aversion to pork. Anything pig that is not bacon or sausage basically makes me gag (okay, I will eat ribs too). It probably comes from never mastering the art of cooking a pork chop. Eating dry pork chops is akin to eating dry wall. I have never eaten dry wall, so I’m not sure how it tastes, but I imagine it is dry, chalky, and cardboard-like.

All that being said, I love Shake ‘n Bake (the original flavor). It has always been the only way I will willingly eat pork chops.

We were non-stop all weekend. Hockey games both Friday and Saturday night meant late nights for the two kiddos. By Sunday we were wiped out and looking forward to a relaxing day to kick back and do absolutely nothing (other than normal Sunday activities such as, laundry…). We usually meal plan and grocery shop on Sunday, but since we had been running around all weekend, I had planned ahead and gone grocery shopping on Thursday. Of course, no meal planning meant I had no idea what to make.

To the cookbook cupboard I went.

menu planning

Judging by the ode to Shake N’ Bake above, you have probably figured out that I made pork chops with some type of ‘breading’. You are not wrong.

We decided on Shaken and Baked Pork Chops out of the Beyond Bacon cookbook. Of course, the one recipe we did not actually have the protein on hand for.

Pork chops purchased I was excited to try these.

Shaken and Baked Pork Chops
Adapted from Beyond Bacon: Paleo Recipes that Respect the Whole Hog

4 pork chops, around 3/4 inch thick each, bones removed
1/2 cup olive oil in a shallow bowl
1 cup almond flour (it calls for blanched, but I make my own using raw almonds and it has never caused an issue)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried tarragon
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 white pepper

Dry the pork chops (we are a ‘un-paper towel’ family, so I use a clean dish towel and then throw it in the wash so no one mistakenly uses it to dry their hands). Combine all of the ingredients with the exception of the olive oil and pork chops in a gallon size plastic bag. Dip the pork chops into the olive oil and make sure to coat on both sides. Allow any excess to drip off and then place the pork chop in the bag of dry ingredients and shake (see? Just like shake ‘n bake!). Place a wire rack on top of a baking sheet and place the pork chops on that after they are coated. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until they are cooked through (140-160 degrees for pork chops).

pork chopsWe had a side of unsweetened applesauce as well, not pictured because I was running out of daylight.

These were so flavorful. My tastebuds could not tell it was almond flour and not bread crumbs. These will definitely be on my Paleo Favorites list. Yum. Even my extremely picky (as of late) 5 year old ate them AND asked for seconds. That’s pretty much unheard of for that kid.