Basic coconut milk panna cotta with ginger

12.31.2014

Happy New Year's Eve!

As you may have seen on Monday, I had a lot of fun putting together an NYE party shoot with some friends earlier this month. Inspired by the most successful recent New Year's Eves in our lives (spent at home or at friends' places with good food, a few friends, and games or other fun, relaxed activities), we did a games night theme, and each of us contributed to the decor and recipes. (Check out Jenni's main post and printables here and Kelsey's main post here.)

My recipe to share is one of my favorite light, refreshing desserts, with a festive twist. This is a basic coconut milk [dairy-free version of classic] panna cotta, which I served with candied ginger!

I had never made panna cotta until last year, when I found a Paleo version on a real food recipe blog. I'm not sure I even knew what it was until I put it together after that. Panna cotta is an Italian dessert traditionally made with cream, egg white or plain gelatin, and honey. Well, turns out it is delicious made with coconut milk instead!

I am not the first person to discover this, obviously. I've made this dish a few times, with some variations, but typically stick pretty closely to this recipe from Deliciously Organic or this recipe on The Detoxinista (smaller batch).

Basic coconut milk panna cotta - with candied ginger

Ingredients:

  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp honey (or other sweetener like coconut palm sugar, although it may change the color)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1¼ tsp unflavored gelatin (this brand is from grassfed cows)
  • 5-6 pieces candied ginger

    Instructions:


    1. Refer to original instructions by Deliciously Organic or this recipe on The Detoxinista. (I don't want want to steal their thunder for such great recipes!)
    2. Once panna cottas are chilled and plated (or served in dishes, as I did), chop 1-2 pieces of candied ginger into small pieces and sprinkle on top of each.
    3. Fold remaining 4 pieces of ginger and hook on edge of cups (or serve on plates).

    Makes 4 servings.

    Serve cool. These are so good, and not too heavy so perfect after a big, fun dinner!


    Definitely husband's favorite part of our photo shoot he so patiently posed in.



    Other great variations:


    Like I said, I've made variations on this recipe before! And I've tried others (like this chai tea vanilla panna cotta) and this fancy strawberry balsamic compote topping version). Once you get the hang of working with gelatin (this stuff is great) you'll feel comfortable making panna cottas all the time! I seriously wouldn't mind one right now. Plus, gelatin (especially from grassfed cows) is incredibly healthy and great for skin, joints, hair, just for starters. Plus it has a notable amount of protein, and the coconut milk in these recipes has healthy fats! It's really more of a health food than a dessert, right?? (Kidding. But you could do much worse.)

    • Melt dark chocolate into the panna cotta while heating; serve with toasted hazlenuts
    • Add cinnamon to the panna cotta; top with shaved dark chocolate
    • Lemon juice and/or zest in the panna cotta; serve with fresh blackberries or homemade blackberry sauce
    • Lime juice and/or zest in the panna cotta; serve with flaked coconut
    • Homemade strawberry sauce (made with honey) would be the perfect topping for this basic recipe!

    Gorgeous photos by Mary Boyden.


    Vintage Rentals: Something Borrowed - WebsiteFacebookInstagram
    Calligraphy: Kelsey of Ladies in Navy
    Printables: Jenni of A Well Crafted Party

    Kelsey of Ladies in Navy: BlogFacebookInstagram
    Jenni of A Well Crafted Party: BlogFacebookInstagram

    New Year's Eve! Gorgeous games night

    12.29.2014

    I had so much fun the other weekend putting together a gorgeous New Year's Eve party shoot with my friends Jenni and Kelsey, and our new photographer friend Mary Boyden (OMG, check out her work!). With Jenni's party-throwing skills, Kelsey's style and calligraphy, my house and dessert recipe, and some pretty furniture and pieces from Something Borrowed, we put together a lovely shoot for Mary to photograph!

    We did a games night theme because honestly, what do folks like us normally want to do on New Year's Eve? Rather than go out dancing or drinking in tight miniskirts and pointy heels, we're more likely to have friends over for delicious food and something simple like a games night. But there's no reason it can't be beautiful!!

    Jenni's been on an oyster kick recently. And she did a recipe for the topping for these--Oysters with Tabasco Shaved Ice.

    We did drink recipes, too. Check out Jenni's blog and Kelsey's blog for those this week!

    We were seeing so many black and gold NYE themed shoots and decor, so we decided to do something different and light. Very little gold, most of the sparkle from silver, white, and glass pieces. Including some amazing champagne glasses that were Kelsey's great-great grandmother's.

    I made a delish dessert, recipe coming up later this week!

    Jenni does the best printables, like this sweet framed sign. You can download all these party materials on her blog here! See Kelsey's post about the shoot here. I love her personal writing to go along with it, too.

    And of course we needed confetti!

    And party horns.

    Happy New Year!
    Gorgeous photos by Mary Boyden.

    Vintage Rentals: Something Borrowed - Website, Facebook, Instagram
    Cocktail Napkins: Hen House Linens— Website
    Love Print: Jen Ramos of MadeByGirl
    Calligraphy: Kelsey of Ladies in Navy
    Printables: Jenni of A Well Crafted Party

    Kelsey of Ladies in Navy: Blog, Facebook, Instagram
    Jenni of A Well Crafted Party: Blog, Facebook, Instagram

    MY BOOK! Title, cover, and pre-order! Announcing DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!

    12.22.2014

    You guys.
    I've been waiting to share this with you for... more than 2 years? This is a big day!!

    For ages now, I've been working away (some months more than others) on a sewing book very related to many of my favorite projects on this blog. Since I announced it in September 2012, I've kept things under wraps, but now the cat is out of the bag and I'm so excited to announce details about my book, which will be published in May of this year from C&T Publishing.

    My book, DIY Wardrobe Makeovers: Alter, Refresh & Refashion Your Clothes Step-by-Step Sewing Tutorials is now available for pre-order on Amazon!

    About My Book: DIY Wardrobe Makeovers


    I write about a lot of sewing, crafty, and other projects on this blog, but one of my skills I'm most proud to share is repairing and refashioning existing garments. I'm practical and thrifty, as well as a little picky about fit and style of my clothes, so with my years of sewing skills I've created quite a library of fixes in my head.

    So my book is about:

    Unlock your closet’s potential with simple wardrobe fixes and refashions to express your style. These basic alterations and step-by-step restyling tutorials will help you fit and reassemble garments into newfound faves. No sloppy shortcuts here—learn how to alter sweaters, pants, and everything in your wardrobe for a more flattering fit. Take it in, take it up, or let it out—all on your home sewing machine. Spend less, look better!

    It features basic sewing skills, some ideas and inspirations for how to remake your wardrobe, step-by-step instructions for how to modify garments for fit, and before/after style projects with step-by-step instructions. All the projects use basic and prototypical garments you may have in your closet, and many of them are classic projects you've probably wanted to try before! (One of my inspirations for this book was the sewing sessions I've had with friends going through their mending/tailoring piles!) The photos and instructions are more detailed than those in the projects on this blog because I wasn't limited as much by space and time. And the "after" styled photos for the re-style projects in the second half of the book were shot all over Portland in an amazing two-day shoot I did in September with the publisher's photographer and stylist.

    The Cover


    Excited to see the cover?!?! I was!! It is pretty much done at this point (may change slightly) but ready to be shared with you.

    I won't give it any introduction other than that. Pretend you just saw it at the bookstore shelf on on your Amazon recommendations. Ta-da!!

    I love these photos we took in a parking lot in downtown Portland. The look on the right features variations on two projects from the book: flared jeans-to-skinny jeans and shift dress-to-peplum top!

    The before/after view was something our photographer came up with. I bought two of each the dress and the jeans and remade one of each. So we shot the first dress as the "before" and then showed the peplum top in an outfit as the "after." The dress-to-peplum top is a very fun project, and I love the basic grey knit of this one.

    You're the first to know!


    I'd love to hear what you think! As a reader of this blog, you're among the first to see or hear anything about the book and cover designs. Besides my mom and husband, you're practically the first!

    What do you think of the cover, by the way? Do you "get" the before/after example images??

    Also wanted to shout out to the pre-order process. If you think you'd like a copy of the book... (I hope you do!!), pre-order is a great way to do it.

    • Pre-orders are very important to show Amazon how popular the book is, make it show up on search results, lower the price, etc.
    • If you pre-order now, you will automatically pay the lowest price when the book is for sale. Hopefully it will go down as more folks pre-order it!

    So, looking for a (very) last-minute holiday gift for someone who'd enjoy my book?? You can pre-order and print out the page! ;) Or if you want a copy yourself, drop a hint to someone who may still be looking for something to get you!

    I am so grateful for your support and readership, and appreciate your following along with this big news! Thank you!

    Pre-order on Amazon my book, DIY Wardrobe Makeovers: Alter, Refresh & Refashion Your Clothes Step-by-Step Sewing Tutorials!

    Holiday party appetizer recipes: My first stuffed mushrooms - with bell peppers & bacon

    12.18.2014

    I made three delicious real food appetizer recipes for our festive natural greenery holiday party, DIYs, and Paleo-friendly recipes --this is #3!

    It was probably the most delicious, although definitely the least photogenic. I've never made stuffed mushrooms before, but I understand now you could stuff them with absolutely anything if you can get it to hold together. This flavor combination I ended up with was amazing, although not gorgeous in the brown mushrooms, so I'll have to remember it for other dishes in the future, too!

    They did hold together pretty well, though, despite not having cream cheese or other cheesy or bread-ey binder in them. Read on!

    They went well with the dried cranberry pork meatballs (here) and prosciutto-wrapped dried figs (here)! See the whole shoot here.


    Grain-Free, Dairy-Free Stuffed Mushrooms with Bell Pepper and Bacon

    Ingredients:

    • 12 fresh mushrooms (I used organic criminis)
    • 1/2 lb. bacon, chopped small--I use scissors! (Bacon ends and pieces are perfect for this)
    • 1/2 c. onion, finely chopped (I used red)
    • 1/2 c. bell pepper, finely chopped (I used yellow)
    • 1/2 c. almond meal (you can grind your own, see my tutorial here)
    • Sea salt and black pepper

    Makes 12 mushroom caps. Double this recipe for a large group!

    Instructions:


    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    2. Chop ends of mushrooms (and use a small, sharp spoon to scoop out all of the stem base); chop stems.
    3. Cook bacon pieces in a small frying pan.
    4. In bacon fat, saute onion, pepper, mushroom stems, and salt and pepper.
    5. Add almond meal to veggie/bacon mixture (in pan or in a bowl) and press into mushroom cups. The bacon fat and almond meal dust help everything stick together.
    6. Bake in pan or deep cookie tray with about 1/4" of water in the bottom of the tray for 20-25 minutes.

    Serve hot! These are ridiculously delicious but they are even better hot!


    I guess some meatballs have flour or breadcrumbs in them, but since my time eating bread and my time eating meat haven't overlapped since I was a kid, I don't know what it's like to make that kind. The almond flour worked like a charm and gave a great texture! See my tutorial here to make your own or buy it online! You could also use cashew flour/meal or sunflower seed flour/meal for a nut-free option.

    Practical Person's Gift Guide: Books

    12.16.2014

    As you may have seen in my gift guides this year, I'm focused on the practical but also the beautiful. I've learned the best gifts are often very personal, selected based on your relationship with the receiver, but are also general enough they can be enjoyed even if you miss the mark a little. As pretty as they are, I don't love giving trinkets and coffee table books that won't be used. So my gift guides this year are for the practical giver and receiver. Written by a practical person, intended for the relatively practical people in your life.

    I did a general (or random, I guess) gift guide (with plenty of my actual Christmas list mixed in) and a kitchen stuff gift guide, and here's a great last-minute gift one: books.

    This book list includes some faves I've read or my family members have enjoyed plus some I'd like to check out. There's something on here for moms, dads, babies, siblings, friends, and yourself!

    (Including some I may have bought for family and friends this year--stop reading, Mom!!!)

    You can see lots of my favorite books in my Amazon store here (click on the type of book you're interested in on the left), but here are some that are great gifts this holiday season!

    1. Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography just came out December 12. My mom read me the Little House books and I'm sure she'd like getting this book of Laura's autobiography (annotated by a team of researchers) as something we could enjoy together.
    2. Eat the Yolks is hilarious and interesting and a great overview of food lies and truths. Liz is the best.
    3. Mediterranean Paleo Cooking looks gorgeous and great for my non-Paleo eater friends because the recipes sound so delicious and interesting! 
    4. Becoming a Supple Leopard is a fave of husband's and mine, and his dad had to have a copy once he flipped through ours. Even my dad, not big into fitness the way we are, wanted one after looking at it. It's textbook sized but easy to read. Great gift!!
    5. A funny autobiography. Depending who you're buying for... I've heard good things about As You WishNPH, and Yes Please, all new this year.
    6. Overwhelmed--see my review here! I thought about so many of my friends and female relatives when reading this book, and while it's not always super happy, I would give it out of love.
    7. Meals Made Simple is the new beautiful tome by Danielle Walker of Against All Grain. (Second book after her first, Against All Grain, which is also amazing but a little more complex so better for a more advanced chef.)
    8. The Hormone Cure is another not super fun one, but one that made me think about my loved ones and wish them the best. Could be great for someone who is interested in learning about how we can change our health through how we eat, sleep, move, and supplement. Dr. Sara Gottfried is a Harvard-educated OBGYN who had her own issues and learned to ask the hard questions and find logical solutions.
    9. Super Nutrition for Babies is the coolest!! I've heard it recommended multiple times from nutritionists and moms, but not till I ordered it for a friend with a little one did I flip through. It talks about nutritional needs for babies at different phases of their development and includes some really fun historic information about how people feed babies. A great gift for new parents (maybe along with a bib or something cute!).
    Another great thing about books? They're flat, they're easy to wrap and pack, and you can buy them anywhere. I love giving and receiving books at the holidays!


    You can check out all my gift guides here.

    Christmas tree shopping and holiday party-having

    12.15.2014

    We are fully committed to the holiday season over at my house after this weekend! This seemed to be the big party weekend, with several family, friends, and work things to go to--something fun every day. We had friends over for our second annual holiday potluck, and was so exciting to share our home with friends this cozy time of year.

    Our tree and house are fully decked out after Christmas tree chopping the other weekend!

    I did simple tree decorations this year, and I love how the house was pretty much almost entirely decorated for the party already once we got the tree up!

    Here are a few shots from our party that I took before everyone arrived. I also used the greenery (and mini tree!) that Orchard Supply Hardware provided for the holiday party/table shoot I did recently.

    It was so cozy and relaxing sitting around during downtime this weekend with a lit tree with presents and stockings nearby.

    I have one more week of work before I get a holiday break! Grateful that we got to start the festivities this weekend and still have plenty of time to enjoy the tree and decorations!

    Practical Person's Gift Guide: Kitchen Stuff

    12.11.2014

    A follow-up to my "Practical Person's Gift Guide" of a couple weeks ago--this one's also written by a practical person, intended for the relatively practical people in your life, but with some of my favorite practical and beautiful kitchen goodies.

    Over only the past two years, I've been learning to cook, and I've gotten really comfortable with and excited about a few tools and processes in particular. I love to share things I'm passionate about, and it would be great if I could share some of my new love of cooking real, whole, nutrient-dense foods for my family through personal gifts to friends.

    Isn't it just the most perfect to find a pretty, useful, valuable gift specific to each friend? I hope this gift guide can help you with that! Here's my gift guide of kitchen stuff that will inspire and nourish.

    You'll recognize a few of these kitchen faves in my Amazon shop here, but here are a few that would make great gifts!

    A practical person's gift guide - for the cook or food lover!



    1. Cuisinart mini food processor. We use ours all the time for sauces and smaller dishes, and it's much easier to store than a full-size food processor.
    2. Cast iron Dutch oven. How beautiful are these Dutch ovens from West Elm? Unfortunately/fortunately, they're on sale, so they may not be around for long. There is also this classic Lodge Dutch oven - 3.5 quart or 6 quart. I had never used a Dutch oven until last year but now I'm hooked. Stove-to-oven-to-table-to-fridge!
    3. THE CLASSIC cast iron skillet. This one comes with the handy perfect-fit rubber handle. (Bonus to include: home-rendered lard or tallow to cook in and season it with! See how and why to make your own here, here, here, and here.)
    4. Enameled cast iron skillet (or this West Elm one, which is on sale). We have a small enameled cast iron skillet we use for eggs all. the. time. and they never stick!
    5. Really good, programmable slow cooker. We got this one for a wedding gift and use it several times every week. It's on right now, actually. It's great for setting when you leave the house or need something cooked then kept warm during the night. 
    6. BIG butter dish for grassfed or European butter. You'd be surprised how hard it is to find butter dishes big enough for Kerrygold butter!! We bought ourselves one of these, plus a gift for my in-laws, who also buy the good stuff.
    7. Stick blender. Great specialized, small kitchen item. This is great for soups, sauces, and Bulletproof® Coffee (if you hold the cup or jar, don't leave it on the table if it's full).
    8. Spiral slicer. I know it may seem like a lot of appliance for one function, but if you've ever tried to make zucchini noodles, sweet potato noodles, and squash noodles over the same few-week period with the little handheld one (like I have, ahem) you'll find yourself wishing for a dedicated, more functional machine. The little ones work for skinny zucchini but nothing bigger or firmer. Spiralized noodles are delicious and a great base for just about any dish - plus they fit extra veggies into the meal!
    I'm serious about the cast iron--there's a reason it's been used forever!! We've given a cast iron pan along with a jar of home-rendered lard (seriously, check out those links above) as gifts before and people love trying new things (new classic, old things).

    I'm sure my tips for kitchen goodies will evolve with my cooking skills, but I love to stick mostly to the basics like some of these above!

    Check out all my gift guides here.

    Easy holiday potluck party decor!

    12.10.2014

    This will be our third Christmas in our new house. Since we moved in and began to feel really settled in our space and proud to share it with family and friends (and since we finally had room for more than a couple people to be over at once!), we've really enjoyed having friends for dinner and - scary - having parties!

    Last Christmas we had our first holiday potluck. I hope it will become an annual tradition! It's so hard because there are so many family, work, and friend parties and commitments leading up to Christmas, but we really wanted to put something on the calendar so we chose a Friday evening (this week!).

    I picked out some party invites from Zazzle and they gave them to me, along with a bunch of cool printed goodies. It was hard to choose between the designs, but I wanted something very low-key and simple. It's not going to be a fancy party, just a relaxed, cozy evening in!

    I went with some holiday botanical print invitations (these here). I loved the simple two-color look and natural elements!

    I contacted the invite designer on Zazzle (Dulce Events) and she put together not only the cards but all kinds of other fun coordinating items, more than I could have imagined.

    She made these thank you stickers I can use on favors (I made these chocolate peppermint coconut macaroons last year for friends and packaged them like this...), even matching brown/white print tissue paper!

    I wanted coordinating everything--stamps as well as potluck dish cards, maybe some pre-printed table place cards, maybe even cloth napkins (which you can order in ANY color!!).

    Imagine our buffet table looking a little like this!

    I love having cute cards for people to write the names of their dishes on.

    I don't really need them for the potluck, but I couldn't resist these pretty name cards. I'll find some use for them sometime. 

    What a fun, fresh (and complete) party suite I ended up with!

    Other favorite invites on Zazzle (some of which would totally work for a New Year's party after the holiday!):


    Another Zazzle shop I love is Hooray Creative, and also check out Blush Printables for some gorgeous gold and glam pretty things.

    Zazzle is having a big sale today (Wednesday 12/10) where you can save 80% off invitations & 20% off site-wide with code: FUNCHEER4ALL

    Here's to simple potlucks to celebrate family and friends this season!!

    Holiday party appetizer recipes: Prosciutto-Wrapped Dried Figs with Walnuts

    12.08.2014

    Recipe #2 from our festive natural greenery holiday party, DIYs, and Paleo-friendly recipes! A simple and fun prosciutto-wrapped dried fig, stuffed with walnut pieces.

    The bacon-wrapped date is a party classic and favorite, but I wanted to try something a little different. I'm very new to fancy meat appetizers, but dried fruits do seem to usually go well with cured pork, right? And I wanted to use figs, although they're not fresh anymore so dried is the best I had. I see a lot of dried fruit/meat appetizers with cheese or goat cheese, but I don't do dairy most of the time so I wanted to do something tasty and interesting that was also dairy-free.

    I buy dried figs and walnuts in the bulk foods section of the grocery store, and this was actually the first time I've ever bought prosciutto--one package was more than enough for plenty of these treats, so it's not too expensive, either.

    Here they are as listed in our holiday party shoot, with a few other appetizers (including these dried cranberry/pork meatballs and another one I'll post about soon!).

    Prosciutto-Wrapped Dried Figs with Walnuts

    Ingredients:

    • 18 dried figs
    • 18 dried walnut halves or quarters (depending on size/variety of figs)
    • 9 pieces of prosciutto, sliced in half lengthwise
    • 18 toothpicks

    Instructions:


    1. Cut stems off figs and make incision into fig from cut end.
    2. Push walnut halves or quarters (my figs were small so I used quarters) into figs.
    3. Wrap each fig in small slice of prosciutto and poke a toothpick all the way through.
    4. Optional (I did not do this): put some lard, butter, or coconut oil in a skillet and pan fry the wrapped figs, flipping as they sear. Or, roast in a 400 degree oven for 8-10 minutes. (I thought mine were prettier cold so I didn't cook or bake them!)

    Serve cold if you don't cook them, and serve immediately after frying or baking if you do.

    You could also try it with pecans or other nuts if they are local to you!

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