Pumpkin Season

I’ve yet to indulge in a pumpkin spice latte this season (especially after reading that Food Babe article about some of the ingredients, yikes!), but we have been making some pumpkin treats at home.

One of my new favorite cookbooks is Against All Grain.  All recipes are dairy free and grain free, but absolutely delicious.
In the book, is a great recipe for some pumpkin spice muffins.  Here’s a batch I whipped up last week…

Yum!

Yum!

Today, I discovered another fab recipe for Pumpkin Spice Cookies on the Against All Grain blog that were equally delicious (and super easy to put together!).

Ingredients:
-2 1/2 cups almond flour
-2 TB coconut flour
-1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
-1/2 tsp ginger
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-1/2 tsp nutmeg
-1/4 tsp cardamom
-dash of sea salt
-1/3 cup Grade B maple syrup
-1/2 cup pumpkin puree
-1 egg
-1 tsp vanilla

All of these spices really give the cookies an amazing flavor...

All of these spices really give the cookies an amazing flavor…

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Mix together the dry ingredients in a small bowl
3. In a stand mixer or food processor (I used a food processor), combine the maple syrup, pumpkin puree, egg & vanilla
4. Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet
5. Scoop golf-ball size balls of dough onto a lined cookie sheet. Press down lightly to flatten them a bit.
6. Bake for 18 minutes

The original recipe can be found here and includes instructions for a vanilla cinnamon icing.  I didn’t make it today, but will definitely give it a try soon.

Have you been baking any fall favorites?  My next goal is to attempt baking a pie from scratch… wish me luck!

food

Remember once upon a time when I talked about weekly dinners and my plans to share recipe details and photos of all the amazing dishes I was whipping up at home?  Right.  Well, between cooking with a toddler semi-attached to my hip and trying to get dinner ready at a reasonable time before we have to start our bedtime routine, I have not been able to document many of my recent kitchen creations.
But, I promise that I have been cooking- a lot!

I’ve been on a bit of a food journey lately, trying to make sure I am eating good, whole, real foods– and that I am feeding those same things to Lincoln!  I had heard a lot about the Paleo diet, but didn’t give it too much thought.  Then, I stumbled upon the Whole30 plan and felt really compelled to give it a try.

The Whole30 (in case you haven’t heard about it) is a 30 day program during which you eliminate several types of food from your diet.  During the 30 days, you do not eat any dairy, sugar, alcohol, legumes (peas, lentils, peanuts, etc.) or grains of any kind.
So, basically, you exclusively eat  fruits, vegetables, and proteins – plus some healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil, etc. for one month (which in reality, is what we should probably be eating all the time anyway, right?)

I followed the Whole30 plan for the entire month of May, and about another 15 days into June.  It has really been a great change.  I am eating more vegetables than I have, maybe ever in my life and I am making almost every meal at home, from scratch.  I have more energy, I lost a few pounds and my skin looks really good.

I’ll admit, there is no way I can live the rest of my life without another bite of coconut milk ice cream or some dark chocolate, but this 30 day challenge has really changed the way that I approach food.  Now, if I can just convince my husband to adopt some of these healthy eating habits…

Here are a few photos of some recent meals (if you follow me on Instagram, you’ve already seen them)…

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Oh!  And I have to share this recipe for “Paleo Pancakes” that I came across.  They could technically work on the Whole30 plan, but it is not really recommended to eat a lot of paleo-ized baked goods while you are on the plan…  The point is to break your sugar cravings and simply replacing a regular muffin with a “Paleo” muffin isn’t really helping… (Check out the book, “It Starts With Food” for all of the plan details)

Anyway, I can’t recall where I found this recipe, but I jotted it down and made it for breakfast yesterday.  Easy, fast and super delicious!
(I don’t have any photos of the finished product, because Lincoln & I ate them all so quickly!)

3 bananas
3 eggs
1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
2 tablespoons almond butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Blend all ingredients together.
Grease skillet with coconut oil.
Cook over medium heat.

Yum, yum!

August already?!

Well almost anyway…

July simply flew by.  We drove down to Bend for a weekend visit.  We spent about five days in Chicago visiting friends and family there.  And in between, Lincoln went to some Kindermusik classes, played outside a lot and grew into some sort of climbing, monkey boy (he is suddenly able to climb onto our couch completely unassisted).

Here are some pictures from the month…
(La Crosses– Why didn’t we insist on taking some family pictures at the BBQ?! I didn’t get any pictures of Lincoln with any of the kids… Next time I guess…)

early this month, we pulled out Lincoln's kiddie pool for the first time..

early this month, we pulled out Lincoln’s kiddie pool for the first time..

on the 4th of July, Lincoln took a little tumble and scraped up his face... but he recovered very quickly

on the 4th of July, Lincoln took a little tumble and scraped up his face… but he recovered very quickly

also, he began pretending that everything is a telephone...

also, he began pretending that everything is a telephone…

we played some tennis with the kids in Bend...

we played some tennis with the kids in Bend…

and Lincoln met Papa for the first time

and, while in Bend, Lincoln met Papa for the first time

during our visit to Chicago, Lincoln spent some time at the park with Grandpa

during our visit to Chicago, Lincoln spent some time at the park with Grandpa

and at another park, you can see Lincoln signing for "more" as soon as he comes down the slide...

and at another park, you can see Lincoln signing for “more” as soon as he comes down the slide…

all of our wonderful friends out in Spokane are girls, so I think Lincoln was pretty excited to play with my friend Meredith's adorable son, Will

all of our wonderful friends out in Spokane are girls, so I think Lincoln was pretty excited to play with my friend Meredith’s adorable son, Will

... but, Will's little sister Paige also had to join in on some of the fun

… but, Will’s little sister Paige also had to join in on some of the fun

and we finished off the month with some messy blueberries...

and we finished off the month with some messy blueberries at home…

it’s Friday!

Woo-hoo!  A little round up of what’s going on out here…

* Lincoln’s 1st birthday is just around the corner.  Eeek!  So, I’ve been starting to think about his 1st birthday party.  It won’t be anything big, but Nani & Popi, my brother and sister-in-law and their kids are coming into town to celebrate, so I want to plan something.  I’m starting with some decorating ideas.  I’m sure Lincoln will appreciate all of the effort I am putting into choosing a color scheme 😉  I just ordered some bunting from this fun site Yellow Bird, Yellow Beard that I’m going to use.  And I have some awesome felt balls on the way that I am going to string and make into garland.  I am now on the hunt for a good, semi-healthy cake recipe.  I want Lincoln to have the classic “smash cake”, but I also don’t want to send him into a sugar induced coma on his 1st birthday.  I know you can sweeten baked goods with applesauce… If anyone has a good recipe, let me know!

* I mentioned before that I was going to learn more about essential oils.  Well, I went to two meetings led by a doTERRA rep and I just got my first kit with a bunch of oils.  I’ve already been using many of them.  There is a great blend called ‘”Breathe” that you can mix with a little coconut oil and use as an all-natural, psuedo-Vick’s Vapor Rub.  It’s been really helpful with Lincoln’s runny nose that he’s had for the last week or so.

my collection so far...

my collection so far…

* Remember when I said I planned on making weekly dinners.  Oh what a nice plan that was… Sadly, life (read: Lincoln) has made it a bit challenging to get much cooking done.  However, my lovely friend Victoria has been posting some delicious recipes over on her blog Frankfully.  Butternut squash bisque and veggie fajitas… yum, yum!

* In my continued quest to make friends here, I am going to a mommy & me meet up at an arboretum here in Spokane this weekend.  I’m excited.  Hopefully Lincoln has fun too.

And here are a few of my favorite, recent Lincoln pictures that I’ve shared on Instagram.  Have a great weekend!

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another week, another dinner

I got a bit off track with these weekly posts.  Thanksgiving and our trip out of town threw me off…

Anyway, here’s my latest kitchen creation.  It’s from a cookbook I have that is a compilation of recipes from Real Simple magazine called “Meals Made Easy”… The recipe is for ‘Not-So-Sloppy Joes’ and here are the ingredients…

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 pound ground beef
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 hamburger buns, toasted
1/2 cup grated Cheddar cheese (optional)
1/2 cup sour cream (optional)

I substituted ground turkey for the ground beef and, sadly, had to opt out of the Cheddar and sour cream…  This dish was super easy to put together and took less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Instead of using just one regular bell pepper, I used a bunch of these mini peppers that I had.

Also, instead of using just one regular bell pepper, I used a bunch of these mini peppers that I had.

1.  Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat.

2.  Add the onion, garlic and bell pepper.  Cook until softened, about 3 minutes.

I have to admit I usually cheat and use this garlic already chopped!

I have to admit I usually cheat and use this garlic already chopped!

3.  Add the beef (or turkey) and cook, crumbling with a spoon, until no trace of pink remains, about 7 minutes.  Spoon off and discard any excess fat.

4.  Stir in the tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, black pepper, cinnamon and salt.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens slightly, about 12 minutes.

almost done!

almost done!

5.  Spoon the mixture onto the bottom half of each bun and top with the Cheddar and dollop of sour cream (if using).  Sandwich with the top half of each bun.

And that’s it!

Yes, I topped my sloppy joe with avocado.  Strange combination?  Perhaps.  Delicious?  Definitely.

Yes, I topped my sloppy joe with avocado. Strange combination? Perhaps. Delicious? Definitely.

Oh, and a good tip from the cookbook, don’t forget to toast the buns!  It’s a quick step that makes sure the bread doesn’t turn to mush.

And a quick Lincoln update… he is crawling all over the place and is now OBSESSED with pulling himself up to stand.  It is literally the first thing he wants to do as soon as he wakes up, and is pretty much all he wants to do throughout the day.  My crazy boy…

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weekly dinners…

It is my dream to become a fabulous cook, who whips up delicious homemade dinners 7 nights a week…

Currently, I am more of a “good-at-following-recipes” cook, who only finds time to make a ‘real’ dinner about once a week… (the other six nights dinners include salads, quick sandwiches and frozen Amy’s entrees… eek!)

I am by no means attempting to become a food blogger, but I thought I’d start sharing my attempts at cooking… Posting my efforts here will (hopefully) keep me on track and ensure I am trying new recipes and following through on my goal of cooking dinner once a week (at least) 🙂

So, first up was an easy pasta dish that I found on Design*Sponge some time ago.  It uses a different technique to cook the pasta, rather than boiling….

Here is the ingredient list in its original form (and here’s a link to the full recipe)–

3/4 lb. penne
2 or 3 shallots, finely sliced, or half of a small yellow onion, finely diced
2-4 slices of pancetta, chopped
1 bunch asparagus
1/4 lb. Feta cheese
Zest of one lemon
4 cups Chicken stock
Kosher salt and freshly-ground pepper
2 tablespoons Olive Oil

I’m not much of a meat eater so I eliminated the pancetta and sadly, due to some tummy issues Lincoln was having, I am currently not eating dairy, so no Feta cheese for me this time 😦

my ingredients… I used whole wheat penne, fyi…

Here are my slightly abbreviated directions.  Again you can visit this link for the full recipe…

1.  Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat.

2. Snap off the ends of the asparagus. Cut each stalk into angled pieces and keep the tips separate from the stalks.

3.  Add the sliced shallots to the pan and sauté until they start to soften. Add in the dry pasta and stir it around for one minute to coat it in the oil and shallots.

4.  Pour in 2.5 or 3 cups of chicken stock and stir (the pasta should be nearly covered). Bring to a simmer and then reduce the heat to keep it from boiling. Cook for five to seven minutes, stirring occasionally.

5.  When the pasta is about half done, stir in the asparagus stalks. Stir more frequently for two minutes as the stock cooks away.  When the pasta seems to be getting close to done, add the asparagus tips.

6.  Cook another minute or two, stirring constantly, until al dente.

7.  Remove from the heat and stir in three-quarters of the lemon zest. Season to taste.

To serve, top each portion with a bit of lemon zest (as well as Feta and pancetta if you are using), and voila!  Quick, easy dinner.

the finished product

Yum!

In future food posts, I’ll try to take more pictures of the steps along the way, like the real food bloggers do 🙂

Oh, and here are some cute pictures of Lincoln.  Enjoy!

Loving the puzzle/name stool… thanks Meredith!

and, as with everything else, he must explore it with his mouth…

my forgotten love…

Yes, this is a non-Lincoln related post… mostly anyway…

While I’ve been spending my days nursing, changing diapers and trying to get baby Lincoln to nap, I have completely abandoned the website that occupied so many hours of my life pre-baby… Pinterest!

Well, I logged on today and my love was reignited 🙂

Although I don’t have much time right now to devote to recreating home decorating ideas I find or putting together any inspiring outfits, I am always on the lookout for new recipes.

Not a lot of cooking has been going on the past six weeks (aside from some grilling that my lovely husband has been handling), but I want to get back to it soon… And although I think it will be awhile before Lincoln has any sense of our daily routines, I do want to be sure that we are a family that sits down at the table and has dinner together every night.

I currently do not own a slow cooker, but have plans to get one soon.  Although it may not make the most fancy meals, I feel like it might be a great way to make some easy dinners, when I don’t have a ton of free time on my hands.  So, here are a few delicious looking ‘crock pot’ recipes I found today…

Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken

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Crock Pot Salsa Chicken  (this one looks super easy…)

Crock Pot Chicken Fajitas

Apparently I am in the mood for some Mexican food… If you have any good slow cooker recipes, please let me know!

A quick Lincoln update… baby boy is six weeks old already!  I have moments where I think, “Wow!  How have six weeks already gone by?!” … and then again, I have moments (often when I am attempting to rock a screaming baby to sleep) when I think, “It’s ONLY been six weeks?!” 😉

I know in the long run, these early weeks will seem like such a blur.  So, I try to focus on the peaceful moments with Lincoln, rather than those loud screaming in my ear moments 🙂

last weekend…

The husband and I had what will probably be our last weekend of just the two of us.  It was nice and low key….

Lazy morning with a sleepy kitty…

A very, very delicious breakfast at Madeleine’s downtown…

Lounging on the deck and catching up on some important reading…

Little dog enjoying the sunshine…

Giant onion rings at dinner…

Making sure those hospital bags are packed…

A very sweet Mother’s Day gift from husband…

And of course, watching this big belly grow…

Today is baby boy’s official due date… hopefully he will be making an appearance soon 🙂

food!

Luckily I have not suffered from any cravings that are too crazy during my pregnancy… no pickles and ice cream or any other stereotypical food combinations.

However, my sweet tooth does seem to be on overdrive most days.  I am finding excuses to include Nutella in almost every meal…  Although I know it will be a bad idea, I have plans to try out this recipe later in the week… Nutella Rice Krispy Treats

I say it’s a bad idea because I will undoubtedly eat the entire pan by myself, possibly within a 24 hour period.  But come on, how amazing do these look?

Yum! from this blog

In an effort to balance out my blood sugar, I am trying to eat a lot of fruit and vegetables as well.  I have discovered an amazing little cafe here in Spokane which has some delicious (semi) healthy options.  It’s a little place called the Maple Street Bistro.  Two of my favorite items I’ve had so far are their artichoke and leek soup, and veggie delight sandwich…

artichoke and leek

veggie delight on focaccia

Of course I may have also sampled their chocolate chip scones, carrot cake and mint mocha latte… but only after eating some veggies first 😉