The Blissful Blueberry

a journey into mindful living and wellness

Rustic, Spanish-Style Rabbit Stew (Paleo)

Rustic, Spanish Style Rabbit Stew (Paleo)

I made rabbit. It was delicious. End of story…or is it?

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Besides being 37 weeks pregnant (see above), I am also apparently a butcher. 

Rustic, Spanish Style Rabbit Stew (Paleo)

It all started with the Rome Farmers Market. I knew I wanted some local meat, but, when I saw a sign for rabbit, I might have had ambitions that were too big for lil’ me. Not a quick, easy meal could be found using rabbit, so I had to plan accordingly. Which meant that this rabbit hung out in my freezer for a few weeks. 

At least I didn’t have to skin it. Ick. But I did some minor butchering. And, just like a turkey, it came with all of its giblets! Freeze for bone broth? Yes, please. 

Rustic, Spanish Style Rabbit Stew (Paleo)

Not much meat on this little guy, but still some worthwhile pieces to be enjoyed! The smell was odd. I tried to ignore it. Sweet almost. With a hint of musk and spice. Quite odd for uncooked flesh. :) 
Rustic, Spanish Style Rabbit Stew (Paleo)

On to normal things! Onion slices! Easy. 
Rustic, Spanish Style Rabbit Stew (Paleo)

And the rest! Some garlic, crushed tomatoes, celery, spices, wine and parsley. Not a lot of prep involved luckily after the adventures in butchering. 

Rustic, Spanish Style Rabbit Stew (Paleo)

Get those succulent cute little rabbit pieces into the pan with some olive oil or coconut oil (for Paleo!). Brown ’em up! Then set ’em aside. 

Rustic, Spanish Style Rabbit Stew (Paleo)

Next up? Veggies and spices. Pile them into the pan and go at it!

Rustic, Spanish Style Rabbit Stew (Paleo)

It will begin to look quite lovely after a few minutes. 
Rustic, Spanish Style Rabbit Stew (Paleo)

Can I eat it now?

Rustic, Spanish Style Rabbit Stew (Paleo)

While that was cooking, I chopped some red potatoes and carefully selected a nice rustic cheese that I grabbed from the farmers market as well. Aged sheep’s milk. Oh so good. Musky. Smelly. Perfection. 

Rustic, Spanish Style Rabbit Stew (Paleo)

Accouterments! 
Rustic, Spanish Style Rabbit Stew (Paleo)

Delicious hand-picked garden parsley!

Rustic, Spanish Style Rabbit Stew (Paleo)

And it’s done. Just shove the mixture over the roasted potatoes (I microwaved them – then stuck them in the toaster oven with some coconut oil.) Add the cheese and parsley and yum, yum, done, done. 

Rustic, Spanish Style Rabbit Stew (Paleo)

Can I eat it again now? No. :( I have no idea when I’ll buy rabbit again. Fate will decide!

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Until then, I’ll just keep swimming. :) Good puppy watches over me in the pedalboat. I don’t want summer to end! (Pouty face.)

 

Rustic, Spanish Style Rabbit Stew (Paleo)

Rustic, Spanish Style Rabbit Stew (Paleo)
Serves 4
A Paleo-friendly rustic version of rabbit stewed in tomatoes. What makes it rustic? The fact that I ripped apart the rabbit and gathered ingredients from my garden. :0
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
2 hr 30 min
Total Time
2 hr 45 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
2 hr 30 min
Total Time
2 hr 45 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 whole rabbit
  2. 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  3. 2 onions, sliced or diced to your liking (I did thick slices.)
  4. 1 pound of hand-crushed garden-fresh tomatoes (or 16 oz. can)
  5. 1 bay leaf
  6. 1 tbs. tarragon (or fresh if you have it)
  7. 1 sprig thyme (or dried if you don’t have fresh)
  8. 2 large stalks celery, chopped
  9. 1 cup non-cooking wine (red or white) – or cooking wine if you’re not a snob. 
  10. 1/2 cup water
  11. salt and pepper to taste
  12. 1 sprig fresh-parsley
  13. extra virgin olive oil (or coconut oil if full Paleo)
Instructions
  1. Cut rabbit in small pieces (approximately 12-15 pieces). Chop onions, garlic and celery.
  2. Pour enough olive oil into the bottom of large, heavy frying pan and heat on medium high. When hot enough, place rabbit in pan and brown the pieces on all sides.
  3. Remove and set aside.
  4. Using the same pan, sauté the garlic, onion and crushed tomatoes for about 5 minutes
  5. Add the bay leaf, tarragon, thyme and chopped celery.
  6. Return the rabbit to the frying pan. Add the wine and stir. Turn the heat up to bring to a boil and reduce the liquid by a half or two-thirds. Then, add the water and stir.
  7. Reduce heat. Cover the pan and simmer gently until cooked – two hours-ish.
  8. While the meat is simmering, chop parsley.
  9. Adjust salt and pepper.
  10. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve hot in bowls with steamed/roasted potatoes with sheep’s milk cheese. Rustic bread if you’re not Paleo!
The Blissful Blueberry http://blissfulblueberry.com/
Rustic, Spanish Style Rabbit Stew (Paleo)

Easy Gender-neutral NAUTICAL Nursery

Easy gender neutral nautical nursery theme  
Every nursey needs a theme. Why? Because people crave this knowledge as soon as you tell them you’re pregnant. If you tell them you don’t have one, they look at you like: “Well, how the heck will I know what to buy you?”

While I didn’t want people to buy me decorations for the nursery (I’m picky!), I knew that if I didn’t nudge in a direction, I would get random things that wouldn’t go with what I imagined. I know, I sound horrible. :)

So, I said nautical. But to loved ones I said, “A nautical, ocean feel – not a theme.” I wanted it to whisper ocean – to hint to a feeling. Why again? Because themes bug me. They always end up taking over a space. You get “helmed” in by the efforts and it looks ridiculous. Then, if you happen to have something that doesn’t go, it looks really, really out of place. 
My feng shui can’t handle themes. :) 

Also, we are cheap. I wanted to work with what we had around the house. The less I had to buy the better. Phew. That was one of my major goals in the nursey: spend as little money as possible on decorating, equipping the space. 

By asking people not to get decorative items meant that they could focus on needs – car seat, cloth diapers, etc. A very practical approach to having a kid. In case you didn’t know, my husband is one of the most practical people I know. He might be rubbing off on me! Thanks goodness. 
Easy gender neutral nautical nursery theme

Well, I have a cricut machine and plenty of cardstock, so I went to work. This “E” actually came from a project where I wanted to help decorate for my baby shower. I thought it would be cute to have some homemade garland that was personalized. Also, I have plenty of twine. Decor number one! Quick, easy and oh so cheap. 

Easy gender neutral nautical nursery theme

This is the adorable first view of the room. The desk was already in there – as was the chair. It was oddly enough not being used as a room before the nursery. It was a garage. (We don’t have one.) The hubs tools and homebrewing supplies were on the left side and my desk was on the right.

The chair was in there because we didn’t really have room for it elsewhere. The fun side of merging two people’s worth of stuff into one house! 

The crib is obviously new. :) Thanks, mom-in-law! 

Easy gender neutral nautical nursery theme

Here’s part of the baby shower project. My sister picked resting birds as a theme for the shower – adorable! So I used my Cricut and got started cutting out hundreds of little birdies. Again, more twine.

Yellow, brown and black were the colors on the decor she picked out for the shower, but I knew I would want these to work double duty. So I went with colors that would work in the nursery. Yellow to match the shower and a light blue for the “theme.” 

Easy gender neutral nautical nursery theme

One of the first things that went into this room? Books. Lots of books. Between books my husband and I already had, the books I would pick up at Salvation Army, and two years’ worth of Cazenovia book sale finds, we are stocked. (The summer before I got knocked up, I looked for kids books.)

Easy gender neutral nautical nursery theme

One of my favorites: Shel Silverstein. AND an actual French copy of the The Little Prince AND If you give a mouse a cookie. Love, love, love books. 
Easy gender neutral nautical nursery theme

Here is the desk decor. (Although this has changed since the photos were taken. It now has my laptop and a TV on it for my work-from-home station. TV will work as my second screen. Fingers crossed that works out well!)

The little wooden bird was a gift from a previous boss from a trip to Delaware. The lamp was an extra lamp we had upstairs. And I thought a baby photo of our little Sheltie Hobo would work well in the room. 

Easy gender neutral nautical nursery theme

Once the shower was over, I had some decor hanging around. “Hello, baby!” now resides in the room. Can’t let good bunting go to waste. 

Easy gender neutral nautical nursery theme

My rocking chair. It does actually rock. It’s so cushy! Unknown fact: I HATE those glider chairs. They do not fit well into my style. They’re just too obvious. And they don’t grow with the room. They are only good for nursing and for old people. Too specific of a purpose. Also, I didn’t have to buy this chair. It already existed in the house. Yay! 

It is an odd color. Puce? But with gray walls and gray curtains being the only things in the room prior to starting the nursery, I knew I could work around it. The yellow-striped pillow is new. A TJ Maxx cheap find. I think it brings the stringed birds together with the puce of the chair. :) It really ties the room together. Plus it got me some nautical-essence stripes. AND I can stick it on that little table to put my feet up comfortably. 

Easy gender neutral nautical nursery theme

You can see little photos and knickknacks on the book shelving. One of them was made by Blake’s grandmother for him. Too cute! One I found at an indie craft fair. Narwhals! :)

Another item is a memento from Blake’s childhood: a San Diego Zoo mason jar in the shape of a koala bear. I filled it with seashells I collected while visiting my sister in Virginia and from a trip to Maine. 

There’s also a photo of my sister and me as little kids that was already in the room. I just kept it there. 

And the little duck is a decorative item I received from my best friend forever ago. Love it! Adds to the essence in here – since the cats kept knocking it off its location in the living room. Cattttttts! And it matches the pillow, which goes with the birds on string. 

Easy gender neutral nautical nursery theme

Now, for some practical stuff. I found this shelving unit on the side of the road after the village-wide garage sale that is held every year. I basically went trash picking Sunday evening. That’s me!

I was thinking we would stain it or something, but now I’m getting lazy, so it will probably stay unfinished. Too much to do around here with the re-construction of the house still going on!

So many books! A few toy items. I only asked for two on my registry. 😉 The stacking tower is actually my husband’s and that basket next to it is filled with blocks from the baby shower. People decorated, personalized little blocks. Too cute!

So many blankets! :) A basket full! The one in the front was made by my mother-in-law. Gorgeous colors! Some of those blankets are also my husband’s. 

Easy gender neutral nautical nursery theme

And one shelf of decorations. Starfish is from a previous boss’s trip to Delaware (a second trip of his!). The shells are from trips the hub and I took. Driftwood my husband had from somewhere. The creek where he grew up? The hilarious sign is from camp. (The husband wanted it in the bathrooom. Gross.) The lantern I’ve had forever. Easy, peasy, free!

Easy gender neutral nautical nursery theme

You can see the Tupperware ball of shapes on the top shelf. I bought that probably three years ago before I was sure we would even have kids. :) I had one growing up and looooooved it. 

And the Lands End bag is my hospital bag! But it looks nautical, so I put it on a shelf. :)

Easy gender neutral nautical nursery theme

Larger birds on string! These ones are dark blue and yellow. And much larger. Without a mobile, I still wanted something hanging in the room to add some visual interest to a lying down kid face. Although I do have a projector, sound machine in the room, too. Easy gender neutral nautical nursery theme

A basket full of regular diapers. 
Easy gender neutral nautical nursery theme

A basket full of cloth diapers. These will be primary!

The little table we bought forever ago thinking we would eat breakfast at it near a window. The quaint thoughts of young lovers! 

Easy gender neutral nautical nursery theme

Cloth diaper covers, a striped blanket over the changing table, and pee-pee teepees from a friend! Too cute!

Easy gender neutral nautical nursery theme

Oh, the closet. Total mess! You can see some of the hangers overlapping. I probably should have straightened them or even taken some out just for the sake of a good picture – but I thought I would keep it real. :)

0-6 months was killed at the baby shower. I think I will most definitely have enough clothes for the first 6 months! :)

I had been going to Salvation Army to buy clothes, though, before the shower. Because, well, I felt the need to. I had to buy SOMETHING! :)

Easy gender neutral nautical nursery theme

To keep it all organized, I made little tags for the bars. 

Easy gender neutral nautical nursery theme

You can see little baby Gap denim in there! Salvation Army finds. Between family 1/2 off day and a $7 off coupon, I’ve made out like a bandit there. Easy gender neutral nautical nursery theme

Here’s the crib! Whispers of nautical anchors on the sheets. An already owned blanket or two. A rug already in the house. Presto, chango!

Easy gender neutral nautical nursery theme

My own little bunting project. At the dollar store, I found a book of contemporary “art” prints. Quite a few nautical, seaside, ocean-essence items in there! Stick them on some string with clothespins and we’re good!

Easy gender neutral nautical nursery theme

So the room ended up so cute that I can’t even handle it. My husband will look around the house for me, yet he will frequently find me in this room. Sitting in the chair. Sniffing clothes. Folding and re-folding things. Organizing clothes. I’m obsessed with how cozy and relaxing it is. 

I couldn’t have equipped it without the love and generosity of my friends and family. Thanks, everyone! 

I’m also glad that this room will grow really well. The crib is changeable into a toddler bed and a twin bed, so that will just need changing out. The rest is completely feasible as a toddler, tween, teen? room. :)

Maybe some personalization will happen along the way. Maybe. Or maybe he’ll have my flair for decorating. :)

Easy gender neutral nautical nursery theme

 

 

Grain-free, low-carb, high-protein pancakes

Grain-free high-protein cream cheese pancakes

I admit fully that I took this recipe from my mother-in-law. And it’s great! :) I love when people I love are health conscious. 

Just like my last post, I’m on a hunt for quick and easy food that won’t leave me too full (This little unborn baby is taking up large amounts of my trunk.) but that are still nutritious. 

I HAD been staying away from dairy for the most part, and – besides my daily Greek yogurt – I still steer clear of it the rest of the day. BUT this recipe is delicious. And I need more opportunities to shove fat into my diet to keep baby brain at bay. 

Grain-free high-protein cream cheese pancakes

Eggs and cream cheese? That’s it? Yep. I did whipped cream cheese since it needing whipping anyway. Full fat, duh. 

Grain-free high-protein cream cheese pancakes

Put 4 eggs and approximately 4 oz. of cream cheese in my ninja processor and waited for the smoothness. You can add in vanilla extra or berries or chives or whatever the heck you’d like. But these taste great plain!

magnetic laundry system

Oh, and while I was cooking, I had a load of laundry going using my new magnetic laundry system. NO detergent required. So environmentally perfect! Another lovely gift from my mother-in-law. I had been using soapstones, which were working well, but this is more of a permanent, less annoying switch. Worth the investment!

Central New York half moon cookies Utica

And another thing worth celebrating? My two-year annivesary. We bought half-moon cookies from Holland Farms, which is what we had instead of cake at our wedding. The one of the left is his carrot cake, and mine is the vanilla bottom half-moon. I could eat them all day. But, I won’t, because – gluten. 

Grain-free high-protein cream cheese pancakes

Back to pancakes! Pour it into a skillet or griddle (very runny) with a little coconut oil or ghee and let it sit like you would a normal pancake. Bubbles will form. You can use a mini spreader to pop up the corners a bit if you’re using a skillet like I did. 

Grain-free high-protein cream cheese pancakes

Then grab a giant spatula to flip! And let it go a few minutes on the other side. 

Grain-free high-protein cream cheese pancakes

Mine are a little puffy and not as crepe-like because I used a lot of batter in a little skillet, but you can make them in any size or thickness you would like! Play around. Add some pure local maple syrup to it and you’re in heaven. Like this little guy below. 

cats have it made

That’s it! That was my Saturday breakfast! 

Curry eggs

This was last weekend’s fine breakfast! Curry sauce eggs I made using leftover sauce from my Basil Curry Chicken recipe. Fantastico! What’s your go-to high-protein, low/no-carb breakfast? 

Grain-free high-protein cream cheese pancakes

Low-carb, grain-free, high-protein cream cheese pancakes
Serves 2
A quick and easy 2-ingredient recipe for a grain-free breakfast that will leave you full all day. Try adding in some chives or toss some berries on top depending on what you have in your fridge. So yummy!
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Prep Time
1 min
Cook Time
4 min
Total Time
5 min
Prep Time
1 min
Cook Time
4 min
Total Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 eggs
  2. 4 oz. cream cheese (I used whipped full-fat)
  3. Optional: vanilla extract, berries, maple syrup, chives, other finishings.
Instructions
  1. Blend eggs and cream cheese (and any flavor options!) in blender or whip with beaters until creamy.
  2. Let sit while you heat a griddle or pan. Add butter or oil to pan.
  3. Cook for a couple of minutes on each side.
  4. Add whatever toppings you'd like!
Adapted from Mom-in-law
Adapted from Mom-in-law
The Blissful Blueberry http://blissfulblueberry.com/

Fast & healthy basil chicken curry

Fast & healthy basil chicken curry

I love curry! And delicious sauces that I can use for anything. Like simmering eggs in, which is just what I did with a little bit of this leftover curry sauce – divine!

I have needed, lately, recipes that were so fast they practically make themselves. This is one of those. Minimal prep time. A cook time that requires you not to watch it. And presto! Food. 

Fast & healthy basil chicken curry

These little beauties are my inspiration for the story. Lil’ babies are all grown up – and ready to be eaten! I have them growing in multiple spots both inside and outside of the house. Bugs are only getting to them a bit, but I haven’t had time to make a batch of organic bug spray. 

Blargh. I feel like Jessie Spano from Saved by the Bell: “There’s no time. There’s never any time!” but without all of the caffeine pill addiction and “I’m so scared.”

Fast & healthy basil chicken curry

First up: the curry spice mix! You can use whatever combo of spices, in whatever quantities, you would like. A curry spice is basically cumin, cardamom, coriander, turmeric (or saffron if you’re nasty), and cayenne. This one I used all of those and added salt, cloves, cinammon and black pepper. 

Fast & healthy basil chicken curry

Next up: chopping up veggies. Really fast work. Large slices of onions and a quick mince of a jalapeno (or 2) if you like heat like I do! :) 

Fast & healthy basil chicken curry

Heat some oil in a skillet and add those bad boys to the pool. Hot pool. Char those little guys! For a few minutes at least. :)

Fast & healthy basil chicken curry

Get your other accouterments ready! Ginger, garlic and your pre-made spice blend. Toss them on in!

Fast & healthy basil chicken curry

Yum! Spice blend perfection!

Fast & healthy basil chicken curry

Once you have that going all nice and pretty, add in some coconut milk!

Fast & healthy basil chicken curry

Drop in some meat! You can actually use whatever kind of meat you want. I like chicken and curry. I really, really like chicken thighs for the extra vitamin and minerals boost – and flavor boost. I even leave the skin in the mix because – well, because it’s good. 

Fast & healthy basil chicken curry

Sauce! The whole house smells divine at this point – and the husband will wander in and ask how much longer. That’s inevitable. 😉 Tell him not long and go have fun for 1/2 hour or so while NOT watching the pot. Just let it simmer with a lid on while you work on whatever. Cleaning? Sure. Laundry? Probably. Then it’s ready!

Fast & healthy basil chicken curry

Like I said, easy. Just add some brown rice if you’re not Paleo and some watermelon – again – just because. Well, watermelon is awesome and is cheap right now, so, yes, add your watermelon dessert. :)

Done and done. El fin. You might also have leftover sauce that you can use to simmer your morning eggs in. Trust me, you’ll want to!  

Fast & healthy basil chicken curry
Serves 4
This basil chicken curry is so fast and healthy that you can enjoy it 7 days a week! :)
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
For the spice mix
  1. 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  2. 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  3. 1 teaspoon cumin
  4. 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground gloves
  5. 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  6. 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  7. 1 teaspoon black pepper
  8. 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  9. 1 teaspoon turmeric
For the meat
  1. 4 large chicken thighs, de-boned (I kept the skin in the meat mix but you can always discard it)
For the sauce
  1. 1 sweet onion sliced, not chopped
  2. 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  3. 2 tablespoons sliced, minced or chopped fresh ginger
  4. 2 jalapenos, minced (leave seeds for more heat; discard for less)
  5. 3 tablespoons coconut oil or ghee
  6. 1 can of coconut milk (full or low-fat)
  7. 2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice (or 1 tablespoon concentrate if you don't have fresh)
  8. 20-ish basil leaves, fresh with large ones torn
Optional side
  1. Cooked brown rice (If you aren't low-carb or totally grain-free) - I used one boil-in-a-bag.
  2. Watermelon slices
Instructions
  1. For spice mix, stir all the spices into a bowl. You can double or triple the recipe to save some for later if you'd like!
  2. Using a wok (or whatever large pan you have), heat the coconut oil or ghee over high heat until smoke forms.
  3. Add the onions and peppers. Sear the veggies for 5 minutes, stirring just enough to keep them from burning.
  4. Add garlic, ginger and spice mix. Stir. Cook for 2 minutes.
  5. Add coconut milk and chicken. Stir. Cook until simmering. Reduce heat, cover and let it go for 25 minutes. Take the cover off toward the end (5 minutes or so) to let the sauce reduce a bit.
  6. When chicken is cooked, remove pan and add basil and lime juice.
  7. Serve with your accouterments. Add a salad if you haven't had one for lunch. :)
The Blissful Blueberry http://blissfulblueberry.com/

Fast & healthy basil chicken curry

 

 

 

Sweet potato, avocado ice cream (dairy-free and processed-sugar free)

Sweet potato avocado ice cream. A dairy-free and sugar-free delight!

I was challenged by a co-worker to make this recipe! They are doing the NoSugarTODAY challenge from the Today Show and saw this ice cream featured. 

Everyone knew I had previously made those delightful avocado cocoa bomb cookies, so they knew I was up for making a non-traditional item. I’m not sure she thought I’d actually do it though. :) Friends know I don’t turn down a dare – even not in dare form. 

I tried to find a recipe that was sugar-free, dairy-free and all-natural, but still would taste not (too) healthy. That proved difficult. So I created a hodge-podge of ones already out there. 

Sweet potato avocado ice cream. A dairy-free and sugar-free delight!

And only 5 ingredients – plus extracts for a little extra flavor! 

Sweet potato avocado ice cream. A dairy-free and sugar-free delight!

A really important step? Don’t forget to de-pit and soak your dates. I bought pitted because – ease. 

Sweet potato avocado ice cream. A dairy-free and sugar-free delight!

My favorite ingredient? The avocado, the all-time best ingredient to add to ANYTHING! Healthy fat…which helps stop baby brain (Babies suck out your fat cells in your brain to create their own healthy bodies.), and an easy creaminess factor without dairy. 

Sweet potato avocado ice cream. A dairy-free and sugar-free delight!

Shove it all in a blender. I use a Ninja. 😉

Sweet potato avocado ice cream. A dairy-free and sugar-free delight!

Finished product! Easy, healthy and it works for those who are detoxing and following a no-sugar diet. Even the cat loved it!

Here’s the coverage on air! 

Sweet potato avocado ice cream
 

 

Sweet potato, avocado ice cream
Serves 10
A sugar-free, dairy-free delightful frozen dessert
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Total Time
40 min
Total Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup mashed sweet potato flesh
  2. 1 can full fat unsweetened coconut milk
  3. 1/2 medium avocado
  4. 6-8 dates, pitted and soaked until plump
  5. 1/4 cup almond milk
  6. 1 tbs. vanilla extract (make sure they are all-natural and sugar-free)
  7. 1 tsp. raspberry extract
  8. 1 tbs. maple extract
  9. Optional mint garnish
Instructions
  1. Remove pits from dates. Soak in water.
  2. Blend all ingredients in blender until smooth and creamy.
  3. Refrigerate overnight.
  4. Add mixture to ice cream maker and freeze according to its directions. (I did 40 minutes' worth of blending)
  5. Serve immediately with fresh mint garnish. (I used my own garden mint!)
The Blissful Blueberry http://blissfulblueberry.com/

 

How to pack for 10 days using only a carry-on bag: The art of Chinese folding

2-bags-and-done

I took a vacation! A much-needed vacation.

We packed up and headed to the in-laws in Harlingen, Texas, for a whole week! We also made a quick stop in San Antonio on the way down for some river-walkin’ fun.

Now that my waistline is expanding rapidly and I’m not sure what will feel comfortable from one day to the next, I wanted to make sure I packed plenty of clothing options.

Also, I knew it would be 88-92-ish degrees the whole time I was down there, but I also needed to factor in air conditioning.

Also, also, I love variety when it comes to clothes and dislike having to wear something twice.

So, I packed for 10 days. I also packed 3 bathing suits because they have a pool, and there’s nothing worse than putting on a wet bathing suit… :)

i-packed-all-this

Here’s what I packed!

The chair to the right has my travel-day outfit: a comfy pair of $5 faux Keds, silky stretchy-waist pants, a loose tank top, a long-ish white sweater and a lightweight denim jacket. Because airport and plane temperatures can be crazy! As are Central New York temperatures at 5 in the morning (departure from house time).

Here’s what went into the bag for clothes:

  • 4 pairs of shoes (flip-flops, ballet flats, sneakers and nicer sandals)
  • 3 bathing suits (2 two-pieces and 1 one-piece)
  • 6 dresses (4 sleeveless, 2 short-sleeved)
  • 1 skirt
  • 3 tank tops
  • 1 pair of jean shorts with belt
  • 2 pairs of dressy pants
  • 1 cardigan
  • 1 button-down shirt
  • 2 t-shirts
  • 1 nightgown
  • 1 pair of workout shorts
  • 1 pair of workout/sleep capris
  • 1 sun hat
  • underwear, socks and bras

Other items packed:

  • quart Ziploc of liquids
  • lots o’ snacks (meat sticks, Paleo snack bars and almonds)
  • sunglasses
  • 3 books
  • tablet and cord and headphones
  • 2 cell phones (1 work, 1 me) and cord
  • 1 inflatable neck travel pillow (a fun purchase! Usually the travel pillows are too big for my little head)
  • swim cap and earplugs

I think that’s it. But I didn’t write things down either. Obviously the typical stuff like makeup and a hair brush.

Things I didn’t pack: a hair dryer. Vacation is for air-drying hair! Give it a break! A laptop – because my job is computers and I needed a total break from using one. Uh…that’s all I didn’t pack that normal people might I guess.

Now, it’s worth noting that my carry-on is, technically, a professional’s weekend bag. It has a slot for folders and a laptop. so, it’s really smaller than a carry-on.

Also, worth nothing: I think that’s way more than 10 days of clothes.

How did I fit it all in?

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

This beauty taught me all I need to know to make the most out of small spaces.

The key for packing? Folding!

 Here’s how jeans look all folded.

folding-jeans

And here’s a closeup of jeans in a drawer!

jeans

Here’s a tank top!

sturdy-fold

And here’s a finished drawer of shirts!

shirt-drawer-all

You can even make your sock drawer pretty using the tips in the book. There’s a lot of discussion of “How would you feel if you were one of your socks? Wouldn’t you rather breathe and be free…?” I like the idea that my “stuff” might need some happiness, too.

socks

And here’s how using that folding technique worked for packing. Crazy, I know!

I tucked socks, underwear and bras into my sneakers.

it-all-fits-in-the-smaller-

My personal item fit my purse, my tech devices, books and my hat! Oh, and snacks for the way there, of course!

personal-bag

So, if you’re planning a trip soon, or if you’d like to de-clutter your dresser drawers, check out the Chinese folding techniques to help save some space – and save on ironing.

The book goes into how to de-clutter your entire house to keep your spirit light and your mind at ease. Once I’m done being pregnant, I plan to put it into action to clear out the house and my closet. I’ll probably do a post on creating a “capsule wardrobe” at that point, too! Scandinavian-style!

I promise I’ll start cooking again. It’s been crazy with work! :)

Next weekend will involve a big foodie fest for blogging purposes. I guarantee it!

What are your tips for packing? Let me know! I love a good tip!

How-to-pack-for-10-days-usi

Mobile gardening with window boxes and containers – for movers and shakers

Window box and container gardening for movers and shakers. Need to be able to move your garden around? Here's your solution!

I waited until exactly Memorial Day weekend to start gardening. Part of it was because of frost warnings – but most of it was because I couldn’t start any seeds. Why? Uncertain future. :)

We were, and still are, contemplating moving, so I didn’t want to start a garden if I had to just up and leave it this summer. 

On the flip side, if we weren’t going to move, we had some major construction to do at the house, which would be near the garden – and possibly involve destruction of the garden. 

Window box and container gardening for movers and shakers

Step one of construction. The hubs ripped out a back entry. I haven’t taken any recent photos, but all of that decking is now gone as well. Goodbye staining! 

Attached to that decking is the garden area. 

Window box and container gardening for movers and shakers. Need to be able to move your garden around? Here's your solution!

It’s fenced in to keep out the furries, but I didn’t bother to prep it because I knew I wouldn’t use it.

Until I am told to move these suckers, though, the containers stay for safe keeping! But, they are containers, so I’ll just move them around the yard – probably close to the rain barrel – if I have to. 

I went to a local greenhouse to pick up some plants. Usually I start from seed, but, alas, unclear future led to waiting and a need for sturdy starters. 

The vegetables and herbs came in groups of 6.  I had difficulty finding enough containers that were large enough! I have 6 zucchini, 6 squash, 6 tomatoes, and soooo many herbs. 

Window box and container gardening for movers and shakers. Need to be able to move your garden around? Here's your solution!

The herb garden is out of the way – for now – so I planted some items where I did last year. Spinach, 2 tomato plants, basil, and parsley. Last year’s rosemary, sage and thyme were all doing well and recovering from winter. Yay!

You can see where the hubs will be doing work later on the house, so I hope these guys will be safe. :) 

Window box and container gardening for movers and shakers. Need to be able to move your garden around? Here's your solution!

Here’s my off-to-a-great-start sage plant that survived winter. It was a proud moment when I took the pine needles off the herb garden and this guy was all ready to go!

Herb-Window box and container gardening for movers and shakers. Need to be able to move your garden around? Here's your solution!

Pinwheels help keep the woodchucks away. Or so I like to believe. 😛

Window box and container gardening for movers and shakers. Need to be able to move your garden around? Here's your solution!

A plant that grows like weeds is mint. I could probably put this anywhere and it would take off. It reliably comes back every year stronger and bushier than ever. This is off to the side of the house with a few of the squashes and butterfly bushes. Great for tea! 

Window box and container gardening for movers and shakers. Need to be able to move your garden around? Here's your solution!

And here is the part I am most excited about! Even though the front deck will also be completely ripped out, I thought I should still try to make it pretty up front. So, window boxes! Last year I put creeping jenny in the them and the year before that I had ivy. 

But, this year, with limited vegetable real estate, I went crazy and put green leaf lettuce right outside the downstairs bedroom windows. 

Window box and container gardening for movers and shakers. Need to be able to move your garden around? Here's your solution!

And mixed greens went outside the dining room and kitchen windows. Without a front deck, I’ll have to water them all from the inside, but that will be so easy! So will harvest! Yay!

Window box and container gardening for movers and shakers. Need to be able to move your garden around? Here's your solution!

I’ll just pluck – and tuck my head back inside. 

curry-simmering-sauce

In case you need food porn, I ate this for breakfast. It’s last night’s curry sauce (with carrots and sweet peas). I poached two eggs in it and served it over gluten-free toast. Heaven! I need to keep simmering sauces around just for this very purpose!

Back to gardening.

So, if you are thinking about moving this summer – or if your house will be undergoing major construction – think about using containers and window boxes for your gardening needs instead of giving up on the garden altogether. 

You can still get your fresh foods, but without the possibility of losing it all to mayhem and sadness.

Or, if you’re clever, and want an easy way to make a salad at dinnertime, plant greens in the window boxes right outside your kitchen!

 Happy harvesting!

Window box and container gardening for movers and shakers. Need to be able to move your garden around? Here's your solution!

Thai-inspired spicy chicken slowcooker stew

Delicious and easy Thai spiced chicken slowcooker stew

Couldn’t be easier. Those are the magic words when it comes to dinner lately. 

6 months preggos and feeling great, but the sleepiness holds. As does the 9 1/2 hour work day at the new gig. All of this -and more!- makes for a difficult dinner process. 

 

baby

But I must keep up with eating in general – even without time for it! This guy needs to grow!

doggie

But this guy wants to play, so I must make time for him, too! I even had time to give him a bath. He looks adorable and shaggy afterward. 

But, lo! The power of the crockpot. :) Fanciful magic in a tiny pot. No oven. No extra heat in the kitchen on these increasingly warmer spring days. No waiting for a preheat to ding. No making sure you’re home so the house doesn’t burn down. No slaving over a hot stove.

None of that. Why? Because you have a $25 crockpot, duh. And you use it. 

This particular meal I decided to use for my Sunday batch of cooking that suffices for my weekly lunch-at-my-desk food. Some comfort of a warm meal while typing away for the masses. 

Delicious and easy Thai spiced chicken slowcooker stew

Prepping veggies is the most time-consuming part, so I did that the night before. Some po-tay-toes. 

Delicious and easy Thai spiced chicken slowcooker stew

Some pretty big onions. (Note the use of “some.” I don’t measure. I just look into the larder and cupboards and cull.)

Delicious and easy Thai spiced chicken slowcooker stew

Some carrots. 

Delicious and easy Thai spiced chicken slowcooker stew

Presto.

Delicious and easy Thai spiced chicken slowcooker stew

Change-o. Chopped. 

Delicious and easy Thai spiced chicken slowcooker stew

The fun stuff was up next. All-natural peanut butter. Can do almond butter if full-on Paleo. I had run out at this point, so I pilfered from the husband’s supply of Peter Pan. 

I added some red pepper flakes and some chili pepper flakes. The “some” can be to your liking. :)

Delicious and easy Thai spiced chicken slowcooker stew

And the rest. Sriracha hot sauce. Thai fish sauce. Sesame seed oil. Tomato sauce. Coconut milk. Ginger! The best umami in the my fridge at that moment! :) 

Delicious and easy Thai spiced chicken slowcooker stew

With the luscious boneless (skinless optional) chicken thighs on the bottom, I added the chopped veggies from last night and the umami cocktail from the morning.  

Delicious and easy Thai spiced chicken slowcooker stew

Simmering divinity after 5 hours.  It’s not even the work week yet, but I want to eat it all! Well, of course it needing sampling before being packed away into 5 little glass containers. 

Delicious and easy Thai spiced chicken slowcooker stew

Sample size. I still got 5 little containers out of the rest, so this wasn’t a bad sample choice. :) 

If you need something to soak up the flavor and don’t mind adding in more carbs, you could put it over rice. Or if you want more vegetables to soak up the flavor, you could vegetti a squash and put it over that, too!

For non-gluten-free-ers, you could soak it up with some flax seed pitas or naan bread. But I just ate it as is, though, and was thoroughly full. 

Thai-inspired spicy slowcooker chicken stew
Serves 6
An easy way to have dinner ready on the table or meals for a whole week without slaving over a hot oven or stove this summer. Lots of ways to add vegetables from the garden, too! Spicy and creamy all at once!
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
5 hr
Total Time
5 hr 10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
5 hr
Total Time
5 hr 10 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 large chicken thighs (I used boneless, skinless frozen thighs that were almost all-the-way thawed upon adding them to the crock.)
  2. 6 small carrots
  3. 2 potatoes
  4. 1 onion
  5. 3 tbs nut butter
  6. 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  7. 1/2 tsp chili pepper flakes
  8. 1 cube (1/2 tsp) ginger (not ground)
  9. 2 tsp sriracha
  10. 1 tbs fish sauce
  11. 3 tbs sauce or tomato paste
  12. 1/2 cup coconut milk
  13. 1 tbs sesame seed oil
  14. salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Thaw or prep chicken. Add to bottom of crockpot.
  2. Cut up veggies. Add on top of chicken.
  3. Combine rest of ingredients in bowl. Make a saucy paste. Add on top of veggies.
  4. Cook on low for 5-6 hours. Enjoy!
The Blissful Blueberry http://blissfulblueberry.com/
Delicious and easy Thai-inspired spicy chicken slowcooker stew

 

 

 

Homemade honey cinnamon almond butter

Homemade honey cinnamon almond butter

I’ve been obsessed with nut butters since pregnancy kicked into overtime. Visible belly, insane hunger and thirst – and all around happiness. :)

The problem: almond butter is expensive. Especially the all-natural kind that has no sugar – just almonds and salt. So I didn’t buy it for a while to “fix” my habit. 

But then I just got into the hub’s Peter Pan peanut butter. I finished a jar – almost by myself – in a week. I tried not to look at ingredients. I just had to keep peeking though. 

Blargh! To quote Peter Pan’s website: 

“Peter Pan Peanut Butter complies with U.S. Standards of Identity for peanut butter by containing more than 90 percent select roasted peanuts. It also contains extremely small amounts of vegetable oil stabilizers, which improve smoothness and prevent the natural peanut oils from separating from the product and rising to the top of the jar. To enhance the flavor, Peter Pan Peanut Butter also contains sugar and salt.”

But that vegetable oil stabilizer is hydrogenated oils.  Blech. And that sugar is corn syrup solids. More blech. And, oddly, soy. I looked it up: commercial peanut butter is 60% peanuts. Silly, silly peanut butter.

I needed to get back on the almond butter train. But now I was back on the sugar train. :( Time to wean! 

And here’s where this almond butter came in. 

Homemade honey cinnamon almond butter

I would normally have just gone straight to the pure form. Almonds, roast, salt, blend. But I had tasted the super-processed stuff and my brain had re-wired. 

The process is the same though if you want purity and sugar-free. Start with these guys. Or any almonds. Pre-roasted, raw, doesn’t matter much. 

Homemade honey cinnamon almond butter

Spread them out on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Steal a few off the sheet (you know, so they don’t crowd each other). 
Homemade honey cinnamon almond butter

Put them in a 350 degree oven for approximately 10 minutes. I used 2 cups’ worth. 

Homemade honey cinnamon almond butter

They’ll be a little darker and a little fragrant. Perfect! And steamy!

Homemade honey cinnamon almond butter

Toss them into your mixer of choice. I used a food processor so I could go hands free – as opposed to my Ninja blender. Throw in a bit of coarse sea salt. Or any salt. I’m not a snob. 

Homemade honey cinnamon almond butter

Do the processing in spurts. You don’t want to hurt your motor. This is phase 1 after approximately 2 minutes of mixing. REST the motor. Grab a drink. Pet the animals. 

Homemade honey cinnamon almond butter

This is approximately 5 minutes in. You could stop here and have super heavy, dry nut butter. But you shouldn’t. 

Homemade honey cinnamon almond butter

Here’s where I added some honey. But this is optional. I did approximately 1 tablespoon. Add or subtract based on your own sugar preference. You can also use maple syrup for low FODMAP, but I’d advise against any other kind of sugar because the liquid helps loosen the nut oils. 

If you skip the sugar, you might need to blend for a full 10 minutes. I was able to stop at 8. 

Homemade honey cinnamon almond butter

If you’re going and going and it’s getting past ten minutes and you’re getting impatient, you can add in a little oil. Liquid coconut oil or canola oil are best if you have those on hand. But that decreases the percentage of actual nut in the nut butter. Boo to that. 

Homemade honey cinnamon almond butter

I wanted mine a little textured so I popped in the rest of the almonds from the giant bag. I also tapped in some cinnamon at this point. About 2 teaspoons. 

Homemade honey cinnamon almond butter

Perfection! Creamy, but with a little crunch! Sweet, but not too sweet, with the perfect amount of cinnamon!

Homemade honey cinnamon almond butter

After a tablespoon or two of tasting (for quality control purposes), it fit into a tall mason jar glass and was ready to go in the cupboard!

So, if you have a processed peanut butter fetish, you must try this. Better for your heart, your gut and your soul! 

Don’t hide behind the fear that it can’t be done cheaply and easily! Get out and try it! :0 

Cat in a trunk

Homemade Honey Cinnamon Almond Butter

Homemade honey cinnamon almond butter
A homemade delicious, easy and inexpensive way to make your own all natural nut butter at home. Feel free to turn it into whatever you need: cashew butter, cocoa-flavored, etc.
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Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups almonds (or any kind of nut)
  2. Coarse sea salt to taste
  3. 1 tbs. honey
  4. 2 tsps. cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Roast almonds in a single layer in the oven at 350 degree for 10 minutes
  2. Place almonds and sea salt in mixer. Mix with frequent rests for 8 - 10 minutes adding in honey, cinnamon and extra nuts (if wanted) in final round of mixing.
  3. Enjoy!
The Blissful Blueberry http://blissfulblueberry.com/

 

Quinoa and salmon healthy fried “rice”

Quinoa and salmon healthy fried "rice" - delicious and easy meal or side dish that you can make with staples from your cupboard.

Oh.my.word. I can’t get enough food these days. Perhaps it’s the unrelenting winter or perhaps it’s the pregnancy. :) Who really knows? 

But, as I have been staying away from all grain for a while now and feel the need to sneak some back in comfort-wise, I thought I would try out something with the quinoa I had stored in the cupboard from a recent trip to the Little Falls Co-op. 

Something to stick to my ribs was what this frigid Saturday called for. It was 10 degrees if that, and, even with a fire going, I was all bundled up in two pairs of socks and the largest fuzziest sweater I could find (my husband’s). 

Quinoa and salmon healthy fried "rice" - delicious and easy meal or side dish that you can make with staples from your cupboard.

Sad to say how cold it has been–even though on the first day of Spring I was able to take this guy for a warm 30-degree walk without freezing my buttinsky off.

Back to food. I’m getting hungry.

Frequently, my meals center around what needs to be eaten up in the crisper. I buy a lot of vegetables during my weekly grocery trip, but have difficulty using them all up. Like a whole head of cabbage from St. Patrick’s Day. 

So, this meal was born. I call them garbage meals. Before things go into the garbage, cook them up!

I did a Pinterest search for quinoa and came across a recipe from Feed Me Phoebe for Easy Fried Rice with Quinoa

It had carrots in it, which I had, but that was about it. But, basically, all I needed was the timing and water ratio for the quinoa. So I used it! 

It called for one cup of quinoa and two cups of water, so I got that boiling and started a-chopping! 

I had carrots, cabbage and onions in the larder. Chop, chop, chop. 

I didn’t think I was going to blog this so I didn’t get a chance to do all of those fancy measured mise-en-place photos. Instead, I started with this one because I quickly realized it was going to taste soooooo good. 

Quinoa and salmon healthy fried "rice" - delicious and easy meal or side dish that you can make with staples from your cupboard.

All it took was some coconut oil going in the wok with the veggies and my head was spinning with possibilities. What else was in the fridge that could use some attention?

Quinoa and salmon healthy fried "rice" - delicious and easy meal or side dish that you can make with staples from your cupboard.

Well, hello jalapenos. :) My trusty meal kicker. 

The carrots were getting an excellent crust. Nicely sugaring.  Added some coarse sea salt in at this point. 

Also, tossed in two frozen ginger cubes I keep around with minced garlic. I never bother to measure the garlic–just tap the jar on the side of the wok and see what pops up. 

After this cooked down for a few minutes, I added in coconut aminos, sesame oil and Thai and True! A lucky find in a suburban Seattle grocery store. 

Quinoa and salmon healthy fried "rice" - delicious and easy meal or side dish that you can make with staples from your cupboard.

So, so glad I bought it. Well, I buy hot sauce while on vacation like people buy t-shirts or magnets. 

Quinoa and salmon healthy fried "rice" - delicious and easy meal or side dish that you can make with staples from your cupboard.

Now, I needed some meat. I buy frozen fish whenever it’s on sale, but I usually save it for fish tacos. Since I hadn’t eaten grains (including corn) in a long time, I knew there was some salmon in there at risk of developing frostbite. Perfect protein addition.

I actually had white fish I needed to use up, too, so I used both. :) Double fish. 

Quinoa and salmon healthy fried "rice" - delicious and easy meal or side dish that you can make with staples from your cupboard.

Once that cooked down, I added the quinoa back in to absorb some juices. Pushed that around for a bit–then pushed it to the side to cook up three beaten eggs. I did this really quickly so I couldn’t spare a hand to photograph it. :)

Quinoa and salmon healthy fried "rice" - delicious and easy meal or side dish that you can make with staples from your cupboard.

Once it started to set, I pulled it off the heat and plated it with those pretty little oranges that also needed to be eaten. 

Quinoa and salmon healthy fried "rice" - delicious and easy meal or side dish that you can make with staples from your cupboard.

So, whether you’re gluten-free, a health nut or just looking for a high-quality protein-based carb, you should check this recipe out.

Add in whatever vegetables and protein are about to “turn” on you and spice it with your favorite hot items. It’s such an easy, customize-able dish. :) 

It hit that hunger spot near my ribs right on. 

Quinoa and salmon healthy fried "rice"

 

And don’t forget to head over to the Battle of the Breads post to see which winning combination of ingredients (and delicious toppings) won this tasty battle.

Battle of the gluten-free breads

 

Q

Quinoa and salmon healthy fried "rice"
Serves 4
A fantastically healthy, gluten-free side dish or meal that can be cooked quickly and customized with whatever you have in your cupboards or refrigerator.
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup quinoa
  2. 2 cups water
  3. 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  4. 4 carrots
  5. 1 onion
  6. 1/4 head of cabbage
  7. 1/4 cup sliced jalapenos
  8. Coarse sea salt
  9. Some minced garlic
  10. Some minced ginger
  11. 2 tablespoons coconut aminos
  12. 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  13. 2 tablespoons hot whatever-sauce
  14. 4 filet of salmon or any fish
  15. 3 beaten eggs
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the quinoa and water and bring to a boil.
  2. Cover, turn the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, until the quinoa is done.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large wok.
  4. Saute the carrots, onion and cabbage over high heat until soft and beginning to brown, about 6 minutes.
  5. Add jalapenos. Season with coarse sea salt.
  6. Add the garlic and ginger and stir fry until fragrant, another 2 minutes.
  7. Add the quinoa and stir fry until well-coated in the vegetable mixture and beginning to toast, 3 minutes.
  8. Stir in the coconut aminos, sesame oil and hot sauce.
  9. Add the fish of your choice and cook until nearly done.
  10. Push the quinoa to the side of the pan to create a well. Pour the eggs into the well and cook, stirring gently, until nearly set.
  11. Toss the quinoa mixture with the eggs.
  12. Transfer the quinoa to bowls and serve right away.
Adapted from Feed Me Phoebe
Adapted from Feed Me Phoebe
The Blissful Blueberry http://blissfulblueberry.com/

 

 

 

 

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