Grape, Sage, and Ricotta Toast

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So it turns out that we have grapes in our backyard.  Grapes.  I knew we had lemons, oranges, and rosemary, but I had no idea we had grapes.  It was a normal afternoon around here, and Chip was crawling all over things, falling down, standing up, falling down and then he had one too many falls and got real cranky.  And, like a lot of us, he needs a bit of fresh air when this happens, so we take a nature walk out in the back yard.

So we are walking, and I’m telling Chip all about what we can cook with these things that are growing in the yard, and Chip is listening and swatting at the lemons, and grabbing the leaves, and I look up and that’s when I see them.  Grapes.  Real, legit, grapes.  In our backyard!

And so I begin taking pictures, and as I’m inside contemplating what I’m going to do with all of these grapes, I see a recipe in Real Simple that seems easy enough, and so I get to work.  The recipe is easy, and it’s delicious.  It’s a win-win on all fronts.  And although I altered it a bit because of the things I had on hand, my joy in doing this project was not in the recipes.  It was in the photos.

You see, I’m a words girl.  I love to write.  And therefore, my default, I’m a pictures girl.  Because sometimes, there are not words to capture exactly what you are looking at.  Other times, words can only describe the way that you are feeling.  And this, is what I am passionate about.  This connection between words and photos, of beautiful food, people, and places.

The tagline for my blog has always been: “A reminder that unlikely things can come together and make something beautiful.”  And it’s true.  Baking is textures, colors, and flavors that seem to have nothing in common but when combined perfectly, they make something beautiful and delicious.  That’s why, after reading this Black & Decker B6000C bread maker review, I have a large Black & Decker B6000C bread machine in my kitchen.  I love the colors of food, the blessing we have that we live in a place and time that we can eat it, the occasions that people have to enjoy it, and the Biblical truths that food represents.  But I love mostly that it’s a reminder that sometimes life throws you curve balls, and we wake up to something new each day, and things don’t always seem to fit together, but if just give it some time, things usually turn out to be something beautiful.  And if it doesn’t?  We must remember that there is hope that it will.

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Recently, my husband has taken a new job as worship leader at a church and this has allowed me to stay at home with Chip.  We couldn’t be more excited about this new season.  And it’s in this new season that I hope my blog can be a place for these photos, to try new things in the realm of food photography and food styling, and a place for stories.  Words and photos, with a proof of beauty and the hope for it when we can’t always seem to find it.

Oh, and did I mention that I’m not that good at making up recipes?  I end up wasting too much food, and when I’m hungry, I’m hungry.  And frankly, I don’t have the patience with myself to try out new combinations.  I’d rather enjoy a well-seasoned recipe that has been tried and tested by someone whose gift is just that, and then I can indulge, cry over it (it’s happened), and then photograph it.

I know I have lots to learn, but I hope you’ll join me in this new adventure.  Thank you in advance for letting me walk with you and you doing the same for me.

Recipe barely adapted from Real Simple Magazine

Grape, Sage, and Ricotta Toast

Ingredients:

1 large bundle of Red Grapes, seedless (ours had seeds, but I just bit hard enough and pretended like I didn’t notice)

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

ricotta cheese for spreading (the amount will differ depending on one’s presence)

baguette of choice

salt to taste

pepper to taste

4-5 sprigs of sage

Directions:

Cut sage into small-ish pieces. Wash grapes, and then toss them in olive oil, sage, and salt and pepper. Pour all ingredients on to an un-greased cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about 8-10 minutes, or until the skin splits open. While baking, cut baguette into slices and toast them until golden brown. Remove grapes from oven and spread ricotta on to bread slices. Oh, if you intend to make your own bread at home, I would suggest browsing these best rated large bread machines. Top with grapes, sage, and salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil, and add a bit more salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

These would go wonderfully with a glass of dry white wine for an at-home happy hour.  

Clementine-Salted Turkey

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Christmas dinner usually means a nice, delicious ham because Thanksgiving has just passed, and people are usually turkey-ed out.  But, I can’t stand ham, and so my mom always also made a turkey.  Back then, it really seemed like no big deal, but now I see that she was pretty much a saint for accommodating to all of our needs.

My husband and I made this turkey this Thanksgiving, and it was delicious.  It was our first try at a turkey, and my husband did all of the work, I just read the instructions.  It was so moist, and the hint of orange was perfect, not too strong but definitely recognizable.  I was a bit intimidated to make a 20 pound turkey for our first go-round, but it was actually fairly simple.  Come on, I’ll show you:

What you will need:

1 18-20 lb fresh turkey

12 clementines

1/3 cup kosher salt

5 cups (or more if needed) low sodium chicken stock

2 medium onions, quartered

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 stick of unsalted butter (1/2 cup)

Pick out your turkey. This recipe and timings are good for a 18-20 lb turkey.  If your turkey is smaller or larger, please adjust cooking times.  Fresh turkeys are the way to go, I think. And my saint mother told me so too, so I pretty much just do what she says in the kitchen.

After taking insides and giblet bag out of turkey, peel 12 clementines, breaking into small pieces. Place clementines in air tight container or zip lock bag, refrigerate for use in the morning. Rub rind pieces together in medium bowl with 1/3 cup of Kosher Salt, so that the salt becomes a citrus flavor.  Set aside 1 tablespoon of rub for use in the morning.  Rub remaining salt and clementine rinds all over turkey, as well as inside of both neck and main cavity.  Place in large roasting pan, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

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This photo is from a later step, but the rub in the initial step will look the same, minus the pepper, cavity filling, or tied legs.

Remove turkey from refrigerator, and rinse off completely, including rinsing each cavity.  Pat dry.  Rinse and dry roasting pan, and place turkey in pan, letting sit at room temperature for one hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and set oven rack to the lowest position.  Cut 12 clementines into quarters, as well as 2 medium white or yellow onions.  Stuff main cavity with onions and clementines. Another way you can cook a turkey is with a pressure cooker. It may sound unusual but if you have a large enough cooker, you can cook up a juicy turkey. For starters, look through articles on how to cook with a pressure cooker and reviews of top pressure cookers. They’re a versatile kitchen tool that’s in my opinion very underrated. Where can you buy one? Definitely online because they have significant discounts. It’s not something you need to “try on” at the store so save time and money by buying online at sites like Amazon. Plus, they have been thoroughly reviewed online so it’s better than walking into the store without any idea of the thing that is on display. Our family uses a T-fal pressure cooker – http://www.cookwithpressure.com/t-fal-stainless-steel-6-3-quart-pressure-cooker-review/ –  and we love it. We paid around $100 for it and it’s SO worth it.

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Tie legs of turkey together loosely, so that the clementines and onions do not fall out.  Spread 1 stick of butter all over the turkey, making sure to cover the turkey like frosting.  Sprinkle remaining clementine rind and salt rub along with 1 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper on turkey.  Pour 3 cups of low sodium chicken broth in roasting pan.

Roast the turkey at 375 for 45 minutes basting with pan juices about every 10-15 minutes.  Then reduce the heat to 350 degrees, and put tin foil on turkey wings if they are starting to brown quickly.  Roast turkey at 350 degrees until internal temperature is at 165 degrees, read by sticking an instant-read thermometer into thickest part of turkey leg.  This process takes about 3 hours to 3 1/2 or 3 3/4 hours.  Be sure to baste turkey with pan juices about every 20 minutes.  I am pretty sure this is what made the turkey so moist and delicious; we basted like crazy.  Also, make sure to add more chicken stock to keep the juice level as high as when you first put the turkey in the oven, I added about 2 cups. Add more if needed, you don’t want the turkey to be dry.

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Once turkey has reached the correct temperature, remove from oven and place on serving tray, covering turkey with tin foil for about 30-45 minutes.  We continued to baste occasionally, once or twice. Use the remaining pan juices to make your gravy:

In a medium sauce pan, place equal parts butter and flour about 1/3 cup of each.  Placing over medium heat, allow butter to belt and mix with flour until a paste forms.  Slowly add turkey juices, and whisk occasionally allowing gravy to thicken.  Keep adding juices until desire texture and amount is reached, you can keep the pan on low heat until you are ready to serve. Using these turkey juices will also give the gravy a hint of citrus. Serve warm with turkey.

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Carve, and enjoy!

Recipe has been adapted from epicurious.com.

Clementine-Salted Turkey

Ingredients:

1 18-20 lb fresh turkey

12 clementines

1/3 cup kosher salt

5 cups (or more if needed) low sodium chicken stock

2 medium onions, quartered

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 stick of unsalted butter (1/2 cup)

Directions:

Pick out your turkey. This recipe and timings are good for a 18-20 lb turkey. If your turkey is smaller or larger, please adjust cooking times. Fresh turkeys are the way to go, I think. And my saint mother told me so too, so I pretty much just do what she says in the kitchen.

After taking insides and giblet bag out of turkey, peel 12 clementines, breaking into small pieces. Place clementines in air tight container or zip lock bag, refrigerate for use in the morning. Rub rind pieces together in medium bowl with 1/3 cup of Kosher Salt, so that the salt becomes a citrus flavor. Set aside 1 tablespoon of rub for use in the morning. Rub remaining salt and clementine rinds all over turkey, as well as inside of both neck and main cavity. Place in large roasting pan, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Remove turkey from refrigerator, and rinse off completely, including rinsing each cavity. Pat dry. Rinse and dry roasting pan, and place turkey in pan, letting sit at room temperature for one hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and set oven rack to the lowest position. Cut 12 clementines into quarters, as well as 2 medium white or yellow onions. Stuff main cavity with onions and clementines.

Tie legs of turkey together loosely, so that the clementines and onions do not fall out. Spread 1 stick of butter all over the turkey, making sure to cover the turkey like frosting. Sprinkle remaining clementine rind and salt rub along with 1 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper on turkey. Pour 3 cups of low sodium chicken broth in roasting pan.

Roast the turkey at 375 for 45 minutes basting with pan juices about every 10-15 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 350 degrees, and put tin foil on turkey wings if they are starting to brown quickly. Roast turkey at 350 degrees until internal temperature is at 165 degrees, read by sticking an instant-read thermometer into thickest part of turkey leg. This process takes about 3 hours to 3 1/2 or 3 3/4 hours. Be sure to baste turkey with pan juices about every 20 minutes. I am pretty sure this is what made the turkey so moist and delicious; we basted like crazy. Also, make sure to add more chicken stock to keep the juice level as high as when you first put the turkey in the oven, I added about 2 cups. Add more if needed, you don’t want the turkey to be dry.

Once turkey has reached the correct temperature, remove from oven and place on serving tray, covering turkey with tin foil for about 30-45 minutes. We continued to baste occasionally, once or twice. Use the remaining pan juices to make your gravy:

In a medium sauce pan, place equal parts butter and flour about 1/3 cup of each. Placing over medium heat, allow butter to belt and mix with flour until a paste forms. Slowly add turkey juices, and whisk occasionally allowing gravy to thicken. Keep adding juices until desire texture and amount is reached, you can keep the pan on low heat until you are ready to serve. Using these turkey juices will also give the gravy a hint of citrus. Serve warm with turkey.

Once turkey has reached the correct temperature, remove from oven and place on serving tray, covering turkey with tin foil for about 30-45 minutes. We continued to baste occasionally, once or twice. Use the remaining pan juices to make your gravy:

In a medium sauce pan, place equal parts butter and flour about 1/3 cup of each. Placing over medium heat, allow butter to belt and mix with flour until a paste forms. Slowly add turkey juices, and whisk occasionally allowing gravy to thicken. Keep adding juices until desire texture and amount is reached, you can keep the pan on low heat until you are ready to serve. Using these turkey juices will also give the gravy a hint of citrus. Serve warm with turkey.

Dark Chocolate Covered Frozen Banana Bites

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I am a runner.  I don’t usually run because I feel like I need to work out.  I mostly run because it’s the time that I feel most alive.  As my feet hit the pavement, I am able to let a few things out, and I imagine stomping my frustrations below my feet.  I like the feeling of getting somewhere fast, of getting nowhere, fast.  I run with our stroller, I run without it.  I run trails and I run pavement.

But, running makes me hungry. Like, really really hungry.  And I have a major sweet tooth, which I have my mother to blame.  She claims that she ate lots of sweets when I was being formed, so this is all her fault.  Think that’s a myth?  My doctor told me that after 13 weeks I could have one cup of coffee a day as long as I had an extra glass of water that day as well.  My two year old?  Love the taste of coffee.  I only know this because I caught him drinking it, followed by a loud “YUM!” when my back was turned.

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Thankfully, this little snack is about as healthy as it gets for a sweet treat.  It’s bananas, dark chocolate, walnuts and then a few sprinkles for good measure.  This way I can run, and pop some of these into my mouth to satisfy my sweet craving, but not feel weighted down and lethargic.

Plus, Chip and I made these together, and had tons of fun.  They are super easy and a good, healthy treat for the little ones as well!

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Chocolate Covered Frozen Banana Bites

Prep Time: 3 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes, plus freezing

Ingredients:

1-3 ripe bananas (just yellow)
1 cup dark chocolate (75% or higher) squares
nuts of your choosing for sprinkling
sprinkles for fun

Directions:

Set up a double boiler but filling up one sauce pan half-way with water and then placing a small pan inside. Place both sauce pans on stove and turn heat to high. Place dark chocolate squares in top sauce pan and allow water to boil. The dark chocolate will begin to melt slowly. Stir occasionally to keep chocolate from getting too hot.

While water is boiling and chocolate is melting, place one piece of parchment paper onto a baking sheet. Then, slick your bananas about 1/4 inch (thinner or thicker if you’d like) and place on your baking sheet on top of parchment paper.

Once chocolate has been melted, turn down heat to low. Using tongs, pick up each piece of banana and drop into melted chocolate, and turn over so the banana slice is fully covered. Once covered, place back on baking sheet with parchment paper. Repeat for all remaining slices. Warning this chocolate dries quickly, so I would put your sprinkles and nuts on at this step so that they stick. If you have any chocolate left over, I’d recommend just drizzling it on top of slices, and either adding your nuts and chocolate here, or doing it before hand. The nuts and sprinkles will only stick to chocolate that has not hardened, so it depends on how many fixin’s you want on there!

Place entire tray into freezer and allow to freeze completely. You can leave them on there, or to save space, place them into a freezer bag! Take them out one by one and enjoy!

Gluten Free Coconut Lemon Pancakes

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I woke up this morning and was craving a big breakfast. The problem, however, is that big breakfasts generally don’t sit well with me.  I always feel full, bloated, and super tired no matter how many cups of coffee I have.  It’s those dang carbs! They taste oh, so good but they feel oh, so bad! I’ve been Gluten Free for a few weeks now, and the other day I had some gluten for dinner and my body was in shock after. As good as it tasted going down, I swore I would never have gluten again!

These pancakes are made with gluten free flour and coconut flour, and they tasted IN-credible! They are fluffy, light, and full of flavor. I added the juice of a whole lemon and coconut extract to give these babies an extra kick.  These are the perfect pancake for spring, and give you a little break from the ordinary buttermilk.  I also used coconut sugar instead of refined sugar, and coconut milk as well.  Natural sugar and non-dairy milk also help in allowing  your food nourish you instead of feeling full, tired, and unsatisfied.

And to change the pace for the syrup, I made mixed berry syrup and served it warm.  The berries were the perfect addition to the lemon flavor, and I think next time I may get real crazy and add some powered sugar!  Livin’ on the edge over here.

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I hope you enjoy these pancakes and please let me know if you feel a difference in your energy and digestive track! :)

Gluten Free Coconut Lemon Pancakes

Yield: about 9, 6-inch pancakes

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 5 mines

This blog post was inspired by Amazing Paleo’s Coconut-Lemon Paleo Pancakes

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose gluten free flour (I used Trader Joe’s)
1/2 cup coconut flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill Coconut Flour)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon coconut sugar
2 tablespoons plus one teaspoons coconut oil, divided
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
juice from one medium sized lemon
1/2-1 teaspoon coconut extract

For the syrup:
1 cup 100% pure maple syrup
1/3 cup frozen mixed berries

Directions:

Mix together all dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Measure out two tablespoons coconut oil and then heat in microwave until melted. Add coconut oil, eegs, milk, lemon juice, and coconut extract to the dry ingredients. Mix until completely combined. Place large skillet on stove top, add the two teaspoons coconut oil, and set to medium heat. Once coconut oil has melted, turn the pan around to make sure that the entire bottom is coated. Now, using a 1/3 measuring cup, measure two to three pancakes into pan and cook until you see bubbles on the top of the pancake and edges begin to golden. Flip and cook until it is cooked through. Cook as many as you’d like, serve and enjoy!

I also like to heat my oven to 350 and put the pancakes I’ve cooked into a serving dish with a lid into the oven while the others cook. That way, my first batch doesn’t get cold and we can all eat at the same time.

While pancakes are cooking, place maple syrup and frozen berries in sauce pan on stove. Turn to medium high heat and allow berries to melt, smashing them into the syrup occasionally to spread the flavor. Once syrup begins to boil, turn to the lowest setting. Serve warm.

Vegan and Paleo Ice Cream Pie

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Today I have a special treat (no pun intended) for you!  My sister in law Mariel has an amazing Paleo food blog.  I have been so inspired by her creations that this week I made a Vegan and Paleo Ice Cream Pie, and she offered to have me guest post on her site!  Here is an excerpt from the full post:

At what point in our lives do we go from having opinions to have convictions?  An old pastor of mine once said that as he got older, his list of convictions got shorter and his list of opinions got longer.  I guess this means that as he learned more and more he allowed his mind to be changed, and things that he once felt very rigid about became a part of a category in which he held his thoughts loosely.  On the other hand, his list of convictions were few, but that much stronger.

You see, the thing about opinions and convictions are that opinions are often determined by our life circumstances while convictions are time-tested, well thought out, I’d-die-on-that-hill, beliefs.  It takes a strong person to have well-educated opinions and an even stronger one to have firmly established convictions.

DIY: Frozen Breakfast Burritos

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I’m a firm believer in starting the morning with protein.  I’ve been known to shed a tear over the need, and sight, of bacon.  In fact, just the other day, I spotted some blueberry maple bacon at Whole Foods and lost it.  My two year old looked alarmed and said “weird”.  Fair enough child, fair enough.

I digress.

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You can put bacon in these, all veggies, cheese, beans…anything you want!  I did scrambled eggs with spinach, avocados, chicken sausage, black beans, and cheese.  They re-heat so very easily, just three minutes in the microwave oven.  Perfect for a quick breakfast on your way out the door, or just because you have a toddler who wakes up too early and you stayed up too late watching a TV show on Netflix acting like you are twenty-one again.

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Fill ‘er up. Roll ‘er up. Wrap ‘er up.

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DIY Frozen Breakfast Burritos

Yield: 10-12 burritos, depending on amount of tortillas you use

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

This recipe was inspired by Frozen Burritos on Tracy’s blog, Shutterbean. I used her technique only made them into Breakfast Burritos instead!

Ingredients:

Your choice here! Below is the list and ratio of what I used, but be creative and make your own stellar combinations!

1 dozen eggs (approximately one per burritos)
1 cup spinach, chopped
1 can black beans
2-4 avocados, depending on how much you want in each one
1-2 cups of shredded cheese (your choice of blend)
1 package large flour tortillas
tin foil, cut into large enough pieces to wrap each burrito successfully
Gallon bags if you think that your burritos will not be eaten in a quick period of time
Sour cream (optional) for placing on top after you heat it up.

Directions:

Scramble eggs according to your liking. I chopped up the spinach and put them into the eggs to fool my toddler. :) (It worked!) Once eggs are cooked, set aside. Cook sausage or meat of choice according to your liking, and set aside. Open all other ingredients and set them out so that it’s easy for you to grab a small amount and place them in each burrito.

Wet a thin kitchen towel and ring out so that it’s still damp, but not dripping wet. Wrap the damp towel around all of the tortillas at once and microwave on high for 1 minute. This allows the tortillas to be folder easier and prevents breaking. Unwrap towel and begin your assembly line! Don’t put too much in each burrito, or you will have too much filling and your burrito will break. Fold up that baby like you’ve seen them do so many times at chipotle, being careful to fold in the sides and then wrap up the burrito in a piece of tin foil. Mark each burrito with the date so you are aware of when you made them, place in plastic bag, and place in freezer.

To heat up these burritos: Remove form tin foil and heat on high for 3 minutes. Done! Add sour cream if you feel so inclined!

Date Nut Smoothie

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Thirteen point one.  That’s how many miles I ran yesterday with my husband in a local half marathon.  As my feet pounded on that pavement, one foot in front of the other, I realized that there is no point in counting down the miles that are left as I hit each marker.  Because until you are at mile 8, the number of miles left is daunting.  So you have to take it one step at a time.  One breath in and another out. You have to learn to settle in and enjoy the ride.

I’ve been a runner since high school and although it may have been my motivation at one point, numbers on the scale is not what gets me to clock seven, eight, or nine miles. Running, like the Good Word, sets you free.  It is designed to let us tune into our natural instincts, set our feet on the ground beneath us, and allow ourselves to go forward.  Fast. Slow. Paced. But going forward none the less.  And as my husband and I took one step after another this weekend, I was reminded of the reason that I run.  I run because it reminds me to take life in the same way I conquer the long distances; one step at a time, remembering to breathe, and that when I get to those hills-I keep my eyes only a few feet in front of me.

Our training is over, but like a true runner at heart, I can hardly wait to get in my Vibrams again and go for a long run.  I know my body needs at least one day of rest (according to the advice from the pros, maybe even a week…or two) but rest is not something that I am necessarily good at.  Chip still naps and I am so grateful because it’s a few hours each day that I’ve had to learn the art of resting.  It’s a discipline that I’ve really had to teach myself over the past two years and I’ve gone from being a person that got little to no sleep and hardly did anything for fun, to a person who needs to rest and recharge in order to preserve my sanity.

My times of rest aren’t necessarily times of sleep, but of exploring and doing things that are life giving and cultivate joy.  And on one of these moments of rest, I made a shake.  My feet had just finished pounding the pavement on yet another long run, and I wanted something sweet, yet life giving.  So chocolate, although desired, would not rejuvenate my body.  But it was nature’s candy  (dates!) that did the trick.

And those dates turned out to be a good choice on many levels.  The sweetness they provide matches perfectly with the coconut milk and fall spices of this smoothie.  It’s a genuine sweetness that’s not contrived, altered, or fake.  It’s a natural and free flavor in which I’m reminded that we all are at our best when we are ourselves.  And after doing a bit of researching about the food that I was consuming (and feeding my family), I found a quality about dates that reinforced my discipline to rest.

You see, the date tree takes it’s time before it produces any fruit.  Anywhere from four to eight years in fact.  It grows, strengthens, and waits until the timing is just perfect before it shows it’s sweetness to the world.  It’s patient, and even goes through four stages of ripeness each with their own unique qualities, both good and bad.  At what stage they are picked depends on who is eating it, of course.  And after they begin producing fruit, they will continue to do so for the next ten years.

And while I’m absolutely not waiting four to eight years until I run again, I am remembering that there is something to be said about gaining strength and taking time to rest.  Because when I do, my next run is always stronger.  My feet remain one in front of the other, but the power behind them is that much greater.  I run with a new excitement, and my stamina not only in the moment, but in the months of training ahead is much, much greater.  I am stronger.  I am rested.  I am free.  And the success of each race is just that much sweeter.

Date Nut Smoothie

Yield: 2 smoothies

Ingredients:

2 cups unsweetened coconut milk, or any nut milk will do

1 banana

5 (or more) dates, pitted (The number of dates you put in here will determine how sweet your smoothie is,)

1/2-1 teaspoon nutmeg (depends on how much spice you want)

1/2-1 teaspoon cinnamon (again, depends on how much spice you want)

4-6 ice cubs

Directions:

Pit the dates by making a small but downy he middle and removing the seed. Place all ingredients in the blender, with the milk on the bottom and the ice on the top and blend according to manufacturer’s instructions. If you have a frozen banana that will work as well. My blender is a BlendTex blender so the date were not chunky. If your blender is not as powerful, just simply chop the dates up into small pieces before putting them in the blender. Enjoy!

Country Breakfast Pot Pie

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My parents just celebrated their 42nd wedding anniversary, which also means their 42nd year visiting a sweet beach city.  They have never missed a summer, and I have not either.  It’s our family and our dear family friends that attend year after year.  It’s the same people, dedicated to early mornings filled with the aroma of coffee and breakfast. Dedicated to packing up the car, rubbing on the sunscreen, and heading out to the sandy shore.  It’s a small town that hasn’t changed too much over the years; the same coffee shops, flower stands, and pizza joints are things we look forward to each summer.

It’s the smell of summer.  In the morning where the fog hasn’t lifted and even the sea gulls seem to step a bit quieter, the waves crash with a bit of hesitance because the tide is still so far out.  The expanse of the beach is huge at the early morning hours and our goal is to find one thing: sand dollars.  It’s the currency of our vacation, and while we search the shores, we feel so very small again; a feeling that I know is an essential part of my worldview.  It’s still at that hour.  As I step on that beach each day during our vacation I breathe deeply in and count my blessings.  There’s something magical about this place. All debts are forgiven at the beach.

On this particular morning we pulled up to our beach home and I could smell the delicious breakfast that was being prepared inside.  We quickly set the table, distributed the coffee, and sat down together.  Meals together.  With no television.  No electronic devices.  No newspapers.  Just us.  Friends.  Family.  Loved ones.  Our gestures and conversations are filled with years and years of stories and memories.  There is a trust that is deep, a love that is tangible, and as we each dig into our dishes, we are reminded of the goodness of food, the deliciousness of friendships, and how good it feels to be stuffed to the brim with both.

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We dove into an egg dish prepared by making scrambled eggs the way we enjoy.  We added cheese, spinach, zucchini, and sausage.   And then we placed all of it, plus a bit of extra cheese into a puff pastry and baked it accordingly.  It’s such a wonder and totally refreshing that the eggs don’t overcook when wrapped up in the pastry goodness. A reminder of the necessity of having close friends and families to keep you warm and wrapped up, while allowing you to be yourself.  It’s a bit crispy on the outside and the eggs are cooked perfectly on the inside.  The cheese holds it together and separates in that gooey, delicious way that you only see on commercials with that perfect grilled cheese.

We talked, we laughed and we made the plans for the day.  Under the table are bare feet and little speckles of sand that we dragged in from the beach.  We cleaned up, and the kids of the group, which are the kids of our parents, decided we would go on a run.  And we ran.  Up highway 101, onto a trail which gives the most breathtaking view of the ocean I have ever seen.  There were hills that were hard, but my husband led the way, and our friend Andy picked up the rear with the girls in the middle.  And we made it.  We fought through the hills, we stopped and took in the scenery, we ran on the beach, and we grew tired.  But we also were invigorated.  We were together, and we were fueled by the history we all have, the future we all hold together, and the food inside our bellies.

My cup runneth over.

Country Breakfast Pot Pie

Yield: 6-8 servings

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 25 mintes

Total Time: 50 minutes

adapted from Pillsbury

Ingredients:

9-11 eggs (The number of eggs will be determined by the number of other ingredients you put into your eggs. We made two, one with only vegetables in which we used 8 eggs and one with vegetables and sausage in which we used 11 eggs)

Many other ingredients of your choosing. How much of these ingredients you put in here is totally your choice! Some options are:

spinach
onions
cheese
summer squash or other seasonal vegetables
chicken sausage
any additional seasonings

1 package pillsbury crescent rolls
1 tablespoon butter

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 11 x 13 baking dish and set aside.

Place all eggs into a large bowl, and whisk until egg yolks and whites are combined. Using a large skillet, heat butter over medium heat until completely melted. Add eggs to skillet and let sit for three or four minutes. Nothing will happen immediately, but as the eggs get a bit thicker, begin to stir in order to make a scramble. Add ingredients one by one until the various ingredients are cooked completely. Note: if you are using onions, brown the onions with the butter before adding any eggs.

While the eggs are cooking, pul out one package of pillsbury crescent rolls and lay them out in a star shape, by separating the triangles by the perforated edges and placing all the flat edges in the center and the pointed edges outwards into a star formation into a 11 x 13 baking dish. Remove the eggs from the heat, and place into the middle of the star formation, Take the pointed edges of the star formation and fold them over the center of the eggs, covering all sides of the eggs so that they do not spill out.

Bake for 25 minutes, checking after 15 and then every five minutes later. The dough should be golden brown on top yet cooked all the way through. Serve and enjoy!

Homemade Cough Syrup for Babies

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Our son got sick a week or so ago.  He feel asleep in my husband’s arms holding an uneaten cracker.  I wrote about how hard it is to see your child sick.  And, with babies, you feel a bit helpless when what you can give them is very limited.

As he was on the mend, he spent his nap times and night times coughing up a storm, which meant he got no sleep, which of course served to be a few, really long, days.  Anytime I can, I’d rather give our family home remedies instead of medication.  Of course, if the home remedy doesn’t work, then I’m all for the tylenol/advil/etc.

But, in this case, I’m stoked to say that the home remedy was AWESOME.  Seriously.  Cough was gone in about a day in a half, and I only had to give him maybe 4 teaspoons of this in that time.

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I found this recipe on a myriad of websites, but was sold on the idea off of LIVESTRONG, which of course, means that Lance himself approves, right?  I mean basically it’s safe to say that this cough syrup got him through the Tour de France.

I KNOW.

And here’s the deal people.  This has two ingredients: onions and sugar.  Yes, I just said that.  Let’s be real for a minute though.  IT TASTES LIKE ONIONS.  Everyone on the internets is saying that this doesn’t taste like onions, but it does.  How could it not?  But, my son still drank it and actually really liked it.  According to Lance, onions have components that thin phlegm (sick word) and cause coughing which forces your throat to get rid of it’s congestion that’s blocking your lungs and clear up rapidly.

I used this along with a humidifier during Chip’s naps and night times for 2 days, and it worked like a charm!

Homemade Cough Syrup for Babies

Prep Time: 3 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

1 medium sized onion

1 cup granulated sugar

fine mesh strainer

funnel

air tight bottle for storing

Directions:

Chip onion into a few pieces and place into small pot. Add one cup of sugar and put over medium heat. Allow mixture to boil, and stir frequently. Reduce to a simmer for about 20 minutes, and continue to stir frequently. The juices of the onion are being extracted during this process and combining with the sugar to create a syrup. Once finished, and syrup has formed and is thick, pour through a fine mesh strainer so that onion pieces are not in syrup. Using a funnel, our into an air tight container. Lasts for a week in the refrigerator.

Chip is one and I used one teaspoon per dose.

Dairy Free Weekend Smoothie

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I don’t make New Years resolutions, because I feel like if I want to change my life, I should just get up, and do so.  I have no idea though, when that became so hard, or when I became so old.  Chip never wakes up and then groggily says, “Please, mom, just 5 more minutes.”  But I literally am peeling myself off my sheets in the morning to get up.

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And I honestly wish that it was different.  That I was a morning person.  But the truth is, is that I’m not a morning person or a night person really.  So I’ve implemented a few things to give myself more energy.

Such as, eating dinner earlier.

Such as, more protein.

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Such as, a smoothie every day.

Ugh I’m tired of typing “such as.”  Isn’t there a video of a beauty queen saying “such as” too much?

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And of course, a little surprises in my day gives me more energy.  Yes, this smoothie has oats! Not cooked.  Just blended!

What do you do for more energy?

Dairy Free Weekend Smoothie

Yield: 2 smoothies

Prep Time: 3 minutes

Cook Time: 2 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

1 banana

2 heaping scoops of some sort of peanut buttery type food. I used sunflower butter.

1 cup rice milk (or other milk if you prefer)

1/2 cup quick cooking oats

honey to taste (optional)

Directions:

Pour all ingredients except honey into blender, and blend for 1-2 minutes to ensure that the oats get blended real well. Add honey if you deserve for smoothie to be sweeter and blend again. Enjoy!