Roasted Cauliflower

June 1, 2016

Roasted cauliflower is my latest vegetable obsession. I can’t get enough of it roasted with herbs, onions, and garlic. So delicious! I love that it is healthy, but also hearty. It is substantial enough to almost be a meal by itself!
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Roasted Cauliflower with Onions and Garlic
adapted from this recipe, makes 3-4 servings as a side dish

Ingredients:
-1 head cauliflower
-1 medium onion, sliced into 1/2 inch thick slices
-1-2 tsp thyme or Italian seasoning (I just throw in a little of both)
-6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
-3 Tbsp olive oil
-salt & pepper to taste
-fresh Parmesan cheese, optional

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 425°F and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Wash and remove leaves from cauliflower. Place cauliflower head on a cutting board and slice top-down into 1/3 inch slices. Break up cauliflower slices into florets and place into large bowl.
3. Add sliced onions, whole garlic cloves, herbs, olive oil, salt, and pepper to bowl with cauliflower. Mix well.
4. Spread cauliflower mixture into a single layer on prepared baking sheet.
5. Roast in 425 degree oven, tossing occasionally, until cauliflower is tender and browned at the edges, or about 30 minutes.
6. If desired, sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top and return to oven for another 5 minutes to melt.

Enjoy!

Green Smoothies

May 30, 2016

Recently, I’ve been trying to eat more Paleo (basically eat more veggies and less carbs). That wasn’t difficult to incorporate into my lunch and dinner plans, but breakfast really stumped me. My usual breakfast was cereal (usually Honey Nut Cheerios) with almond milk or oatmeal. Both are a very carb/sugar rich way to start my day that I wasn’t super happy with. My diet is further limited that I can’t eat wheat, eggs, or much dairy (I’m gluten-intolerant and eggs and dairy also agitate my digestive system). I tried a few other Paleo breakfasts – including a potato/sweet potato/onion/bacon hash and pumpkin/banana pancakes. Both were great, but time consuming to make — so not sustainable for regular workday breakfasts.

At the perfect timing for my life, one of the blogs I read posted about incorporating green smoothies into her diet. I’d obviously heard of green smoothies before, but I don’t know why it hadn’t occurred to me before to try them for my breakfasts. My sister Kelsey makes a similar smoothie for her breakfast occasionally. But it started the wheels in motion and I’ve been green smoothie-ing for breakfast for a couple weeks now and LOVING it!

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Part of the reason I hadn’t tried this sooner is that we didn’t have a blender (Drew broke ours trying to blend a spoon in it while making daiquiris for a party he threw a few years ago when I was out of town, lol!). I tried to blend my first smoothie in our food processor and that turned out terribly! I did a little research on small blenders perfect for smoothies and narrowed it down to these two: NutriBullet ($79.99) & Bella Rocket Blender ($24.99). The NutriBullet is a little more expensive and probably better for the long run, but since I wasn’t even sure I was going to like smoothies, I went with the cheaper, but still well-reviewed Bella Rocket Blender. So far, I’m perfectly happy with my choice! At just under $25, it has been working great (and I’ve been using it daily for the last few weeks). It is super easy to clean, comes with multiple cups, and even includes an extra grinding blade for grinding small seeds and such. I like that it is small enough to leave out for daily use and the design is simple and looks nice.

P.S. Feel free to use your regular blender if you have one! No need to buy a specific smoothie blender for this! I will say though, that the super easy to clean design of this is what has made me actually stick to it. If I had to take a blender apart every day to clean it, I wouldn’t do it (Drew washes the dishes in this house!).

There are a million ways that you can make green smoothies, but this is the recipe that I’ve found perfect for my daily use:

Banana Spinach Green Smoothie
makes one single-serving smoothie

Ingredients: (all rough measurements – feel free to modify as you wish!)
-1 cup packed fresh spinach leaves (probably more, I use a generous cupful)
-1 cup unsweetened almond milk
-1/2 tsp honey (if your bananas are super ripe, you can omit honey)
-1 tsp ground flax, chia, and hemp seeds (I pre-grind these myself and keep on hand to use throughout the week)
-1 Tbsp almond butter
-1 banana (fresh or frozen)
-3 strawberries (sometimes I leave these out if I don’t have on hand)

Other ingredient ideas:
-raspberries, blueberries, peaches, pineapple, pear, apples (fresh or frozen)
-coconut milk
-nuts or other nut butters
-cinnamon
-dates
-avocado
-vanilla
-cocoa powder
-oats
-coconut

Directions:
1. Place spinach, almond milk, honey, and ground seeds into blender cup and blend until well blended. (I’ve read that mixing the spinach and liquid together first before adding other fruits helps to get a smoother blend and avoid small bits of spinach in your smoothie).
2. Add banana, almond butter, and other fruit or mix-ins as desired. Blend until well blended.
3. Enjoy!

Notes:
Using frozen bananas or other fruit will make the smoothie thicker and colder. Using fresh bananas will make it thinner. I like both, but might almost prefer the thinner, easier to drink, result of using fresh bananas.

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I honestly can’t believe what a difference this has made so far in my routine. It is still quick and easy to make and drink (the small smoothie blender makes it so quick and easy!). It doesn’t take any longer than making and eating a bowl of cereal! But I feel SO MUCH BETTER! I’ve noticed that I have so much more energy lately and this is just such a refreshing way to start my day. I like feeling like I’m being better and healthier to my body. I’ve even started to crave and look forward to my morning smoothie — so much so that I’ve even had another for an afternoon snack some days! I’ve been drinking a bag of spinach a week!

This is my own take on a dish my family would always have at holiday meals. It seems like most families (in the Midwest especially) have their own take on this dish – called Texas Potatoes, Funeral Potatoes, or as I like it simply put, Cheesy Potato Casserole. It had been years since I’d had it, mostly because I can’t have cream of chicken soup (its not gluten-free!). I think condensed soups are an odd ingredient in food anyway, and I would prefer to avoid them, gluten-free or not. So here is my more whole foods version of this family staple. Drew and I don’t make it often, but it is the perfect thing to bring to potluck family or work meals when you need something cheap, easy, transportable, and that stays warm or reheats easily.

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Cheesy Potato Casserole
makes one 9x13in casserole

Ingredients:
-2 lbs (32 oz) Southern style frozen hash browns/diced potatoes, thawed
-2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
-2 cups sour cream
-1/2 cup water mixed with 2 tsp chicken broth base/bullion
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1/2 tsp garlic powder
-1/2 tsp onion powder
-1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
-2 cups cornflakes (make sure they are gluten-free if making gf)
-1/2 stick (4 Tbsp) salted butter

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix together potatoes, cheese, sour cream, water/broth base, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and Italian seasoning in large bowl.
3. Spread mixture into a 9×13 inch glass baking dish.
4. Sprinkle cornflakes on top.
5. Cut 1/2 stick butter into slices and spread slices out across the top of casserole.
6. Bake in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes, or until golden and bubbly.

Enjoy!

Beef Barbacoa

May 28, 2016

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Beef Barbacoa

Ingredients:
-3.5 lb beef roast (de-fatted, if fatty)
-1 med/large onion, chopped
-3 Tbsp butter
-2 cups beef broth
-1 cup water
-salt & pepper to season roast

For seasoning paste:
-6-8 cloves garlic, finely minced
-2 chipotle peppers (sliced open, de-seeded, and finely chopped)
-2 tsp salt
-1 tsp ground black pepper
-1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
-1 tsp chili powder
-1 Tbsp cumin
-2 Tbsp Adobo sauce (from chipotle peppers)
-1 Tbsp tomato paste
-3 Tbsp fresh lime juice

Optional ingredients for serving:
-cilantro
-sour cream
-lime juice
-avocado
-hot sauce
-salsa
-black beans
-Mexican rice
-white corn tortillas

Directions:
1. In a small bowl, mix minced garlic, de-seeded and chopped chipotle peppers, salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, adobo sauce, tomato paste, and lime juice to form a seasoning paste.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3. In dutch oven, melt butter. Lightly salt and pepper both sides of beef roast. Sear the roast on both sides in melted butter until browned.
4. Add chopped onion to the sides of beef roast in dutch oven and lightly saute.
5. Rub seasoning paste over all sides of roast.
6. Add water and beef broth to pan, pouring beside meat, leaving seasoning paste intact on top.
7. Put lid on dutch oven, and cook in 350 degree oven for around 4 hours, or until tender.
8. Shred with a fork (I usually shred it around 3 1/2 hours in and let cook for another 30 min after) and serve!

Enjoy!

P.S. You can also make this in a crock pot, cooking on low for 8-1o hours. 

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bedroom design

Over a year ago, I posted this inspiration board for our bedroom:

bedroom inspiration board.inddAnd finally, our bedroom is starting to feel the way I want it to! Pretty and relaxing, soft, but with some contrast. I love black, white, and gold with pops of jewel-toned colors. (see the before, hereI think it could still use some quirky accessories and some more patterned textiles, but I thought it was finally time for an update:

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cait nightstand 31

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i love you pillow 21

bed vi lights 21

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chair 21

Last December we painted the headboard wall Semi-Sweet (by Valspar at Lowes), the same color as the small hallway outside our bedroom that connects it to the bathroom. Then I hand painted the geometric pattern with a gold Sharpie paint pen (and a ruler and level!). It was really quick and easy actually! I followed this tutorial by Mandi at Vintage Revivals. The rest of the walls in here are painted Grey Ghost (by Olympic at Lowes).

We finally updated our nightstands with super simple ones we found on Craigslist for $30 (total for both!). We had mis-matched ones for years in here while I was searching for the right ones (this is a small space for them to fit in and they had to be short enough to fit under the headboard overhang). I really, really wanted these ones. For the longest time they were out of stock. When they did finally come back in stock, I couldn’t justify spending $230 a piece plus shipping for them. I was hoping they would go on sale, but they didn’t and I got tired of waiting (although it looks like they are finally on sale now — a year later!). I stalked Craigslist like crazy to find anything that would be a suitable replacement for the odd and mis-matched ones we had, until I found these. They are real wood and a great size for our small bedroom. Ideally they would have a drawer and be a little deeper, but for the price I’m not complaining. Drew has a basket on his shelf and I have that black and white inlaid box on mine to take the place of a drawer, which is working out just fine.

We also got new bedding. I’d been eyeing West Elm’s Jacquard Leaf Duvet Cover and Shams for a while (you know me and quatrefoils!) and I finally got them last summer on sale. I really loved the Onyx color (black) but the contrast was a tan/cream color, not white. So I went with the Flax/White ones. I’d also been eyeing those plus sheets from Target for a while and I ended up waiting too long to buy them and they were sold out of a queen size. I bought the only size they had left (on sale) – a California King set. The pillows and flat sheet work just fine (I’ll probably trim the sheet eventually, but I actually like that it hangs over the bed farther than a queen), but the fitted sheet is obviously way too big. We are just using a plain white fitted sheet for now. The “I Love You” pillow I made out of fabric I ordered in a design of mine. That’s my handwriting!

I would like to replace the curtains with simple white ones (the current white ones are too short and the cream ones are too long and too yellow). I bought some plain white sheets to make into curtains for in here (I need 6 panels!), but I haven’t gotten around to making them. I would also like to eventually layer in some more block printed textiles to the bedding – either adding some more of my patterns or some of Kerry Cassill’s block printed textiles. I love our white mattelasse/coverlet, but I would really like one in a bigger King size. I like having it drop farther over the side of the bed (and Drew is less likely to pull the covers off of me in the middle of the night!). We also really need a new bed skirt – ours is ripped on one side! I could also see adding a different rug (fluffy and soft Moroccan? flat weave patterned? vintage kilim?) and maybe a simple upholstered headboard. I’m happy for now with how far this room has come!

Headboard we made from an old door (see here and here), dresser was Drew’s childhood dresser that we refinished, gold pharmacy lamps are from HomeGoods, gold I LOVE YOU banner is from Target, floral painting is by Lulie Wallace, girl with flowers print is by Raven Roxanne, geometric canister is from Hobby Lobby, ceramic dishes were made by my ceramics teacher in college – Sarah House, pink chair is from World Market, geometric pillow is from H&M, black floor lamp is from Target, jewelry stand, white elephant, and black and white inlaid box were all Christmas gifts from my sister, shelving is the IKEA Expedit, sheets are from Target, duvet and shams are from West Elm, copper twinkle lights are from Amazon, nightstands are vintage, art above Drew’s nightstand is by Emily McDowell, art above mine is a handwritten note from Drew. :)

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