Berry-lemon coconut milk panna cottas with frozen Oregon berries! Dairy-free, Paleo recipe

3.31.2016

I love harvesting my own food by season, and over the summer we picked tons of raspberries, blackberries, marionberries, and blueberries at one of our favorite farms. Now it's early spring and not much is growing just yet... but I froze most of the berries we picked last summer and I came up with this recipe for using frozen berries!

I had never made panna cotta at all until a few years ago, and now it's my go-to fancy-looking dessert! I'm getting creative with what I put in it, and wanted to try it with frozen berries and lemon for an extra special citrus/winter spin. (See my basic Paleo panna cotta with candied ginger here. This recipe makes a little bigger servings and of course has lemon in it! As well as the fruit integration technique (dropping berries into the dishes, but it felt fancy at the time).)

I love having a use for the frozen berries that I picked, but of course you can also buy locally grown frozen berries at specialty food stores.

Berry-lemon coconut milk panna cotta

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cans (13.5 oz each) full fat coconut milk
  • 3 tbsp honey or other sweetener (I used xylitol this time)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp unflavored gelatin from grassfed cows (this brand is great, or this one which has higher protein content)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • About 3/4 cup frozen berries (I used raspberries and blueberries--great with the lemon flavor!)

Makes 4 servings.

    Instructions:


    1. Heat coconut milk into a small saucepan on low heat. Sprinkle the powdered gelatin on top and allow it to "bloom" for about 5 minutes. 
    2. Whisk together saucepan mixture with honey or xylitol, vanilla, and lemon juice until everything is completely blended. Do not boil.
    3. Pour evenly into four dessert dishes or jars.
    4. Add not quite 1/4 cup of frozen berries of choice into dishes. Some will sink to the bottom, others will stay closer to the top.
    5. Cool in refrigerator about 4 hours or until completely set. Once set, distribute lemon zest on tops.
    Serve cold. Feel extra fancy despite how easy that was to make!!

    Now that winter is over I'm ready for summer again so I can pick more berries!!

    Swingy lace top - I've been craving texture and movement!

    3.23.2016

    Happy spring! I'm so glad it's time to transition away from all the grey, black, and navy I've been wearing and switch to some lighter colors. But unfortunately.. the other weekend when I was getting dressed for something social I realized I've pared my wardrobe down so much, I hardly have anything that isn't a very basic piece in a neutral color. Seriously, I have an aqua t-shirt and an orange t-shirt, and the orange one has a hole in it. I have some colored layering tank tops. Pretty much rest of my wardrobe is neutral and has no texture or interest. I really wanted to wear something long, something lacy, something not knit or denim.

    So, I pulled out a few cuts of fabric from my stash over the weekend and am working on giving myself some options!! I put together this lace top in only an hour and a half or so of sewing time (not cutting the time I spent cutting it out while watching Fixer Upper).

    I used a simple top pattern, Simplicity 1693. I thought about modifying one of my favorite dress patterns, like I did on this peplum top, which might have had a better neckline... and I didn't use the length of the top pattern for the lining or the lace layer. Oh, well.

    How cool is that lace?? It was left over from this dress. I used a really nice, very tightly woven off-white cotton shirting for the lining.

    I didn't have to do any special finish on the armholes since I used the lining.

    I paired it with the olive cargo jacket I wear at least once/week (mine is ancient J.Crew but Old Navy has a very similar one this season!) and some black stretchy jeans I recently distressed. It felt very refreshing to wear this transitionally springy outfit during a sun break over the weekend!

    Pattern: Simplicity 1693
    Modifications:
    • Cut the outer layer longer but didn't hem it; used the edge of the lace
    • Gave it a short lining

    I feel very proud of DIYs like this that are so wearable and work with pieces I already own and wear a lot. I rounded up some similar pieces here for the rest of the outfit!



    Upping my slipcover game! Two new DIY slipcovers

    3.16.2016

    Phew! What an accomplishment! This weekend I crossed a major to-do off my list: Update my amazing vintage slipper chairs with new covers, since the slightly too-thin white canvas ones I made in 2010 (!) were getting pretty tired. They never fit perfectly, and I didn't have a good solution for the bottom edge so I just left them hanging, mostly covering the fabric, and they were a little too tight so it worked... but it was time for an upgrade.

    Part of the reason I didn't upgrade sooner was that the home decor selection at most fabric stores is pretty limited if you want a basic color. There are tons of fancy prints, sure, but if I wanted a solid color, the best choice is the canvas-ey stuff I used back in 2010 (it comes in lots of colors) and it's just not strong enough. So when Organic Cotton Plus wanted to work with me on another project, I thought using one of their many durable, upholstery-weight fabrics would be perfect!

    I asked Yasmin at Organic Cotton Plus which fabrics would be good for upholstery--she recommended their canvas, duck (including finished duck which is noticeably softer and pre-shrunk), natural denim, and the colorgrowns. I really liked several of the choices and colors, so Yasmin helped me choose the denim for the chairs, since it's super soft and still very strong, so it would be the most comfortable choice while still holding up to plenty of use over time. (Organic Cotton Plus sent me the fabric for this post.)

    Again I used the previous slipcover pieces for my pattern, but had to add and subtract inches here and there to make them fit better. For the bottom edge, I found a super strong corded elastic and made a casing for it to keep things in place.

    I also sanded, filled, stained, and finished the wood! It was really looking shabby but I hadn't taken the time before. It really makes them look much better!

    The "before"...

    ...and the "after." Fixed the wood, made the slipcovers!

    Much better fit this time.

    They looked so plain without throw pillows on them, but my pillows are pure white and grey--do they clash with the off-white, or is it okay because everything else in the room is also a neutral?

    I love these vintage chairs so much (I paid $5 each for them at Goodwill Outlet in 2008 or 2009, I kid you not... they rolled them out onto the floor and my friend and I pointed to them and said "We'll take them!") and am so glad to have them looking good again!

    Thanks to Organic Cotton Plus for sending me the fabric for these slipcovers!

    Soup season: mussel and clam chowder-inspired recipe

    3.09.2016

    I've really been into soup lately! I guess it's the black clouds and huge rain drops we get in between patches of sun in Oregon early spring.

    I've been getting pretty creative with soups, too. The other day I bought some mussels in the frozen section of our local store--first time, actually, because I've been wanting to eat more seafood and they were a great price. And it's great, because they are not only high in protein, they're also nutrient-dense sources of Omega-3 fats EPA and DHA, zinc, and other minerals.

    Husband was not too sure about my idea of a seafood chowder for dinner, but I won him over with this savory, satisfying, slightly creamy soup! (I looked up the definition of "chowder"--they are not always cream-based but they are usually thickened with crackers or flour, so this soup is not technically a chowder! It's gluten-free and grain-free and the thickness comes from the potatoes and coconut milk. So it's also dairy-free and Paleo- or Whole 30-friendly. [White potatoes are largely considered Paleo of late.])

    Paleo Mussel & Clam Chowder Recipe


    Ingredients:


    • 1/2 lb bacon
    • 1 medium yellow onion
    • 2 cloves garlic
    • 2 stalks celery
    • Sea salt
    • 1 tbsp dried basil
    • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
    • 1-1.5 lbs red potatoes
    • 2 c. chicken broth (I used homemade)
    • 1/4 c. cooking sherry or dry white wine
    • 1/2 c. full fat coconut milk
    • 3 cans (6.5 oz. each) cooked clams and juice
    • 1 lb. cooked mussels

      Instructions:


      1. In a heavy-bottomed pot (this Dutch oven is perfect)... chop bacon strips into chunks and cook until a good amount of the fat is released. 
      2. Take bacon pieces out and add chopped onion, minced garlic, and chopped celery to the pot. Add some sea salt and basil and thyme. 
      3. Chop potatoes and add to the pan; saute a little so some of the edges get a little brown.
      4. Add broth, cooking, sherry, coconut milk, cans of clams with juice, and mussels. (You can cut the mussels in half to disguise them if you're serving to picky eaters who are used to clam-only chowder!)
      5. Cook on medium-low 20-30 minutes until potatoes are fully cooked.

      Makes 4-6 servings (and each packs a ton of protein!). If my calculations are correct... one fifth of this recipe has a whopping 36.6 grams of protein, plus 24 grams of carbohydrate and 15 grams of fat. What a balanced dish!

      Serve with a fresh green salad with some crunchy red pepper or tomatoes for a perfect rainy spring meal.

      "Chowder-ey"--you know what I mean, right?? ;)

      Amazing remodeled homes--and a giveaway!

      3.03.2016

      I visited Street of Dreams last summer for the first time in years and husband and I had so much fun admiring the construction, marveling at the master closets, and thinking about what our dream home would look like. It was definitely overwhelming, seeing so many massively expensive homes all on one street. But we did learn a few things that might translate to our own home goals!

      This spring, a similar event is going on in the Portland area: the Tour of Remodeled Homes, an annual show of decor and craftsmanship on regular people's homes--like, these homes are not 5,000 square feet and are actually inhabited by the owners while they are in the show. There are 9 very impressive remodels in the show and they're all normal homes you can imagine yourself living in.

      Here's my favorite photo from the 2015 remodels! The lights! The handles! The tile backsplash!

      Tour of Remodeled Homes is giving away TWO sets of two tickets to my readers! The show is March 12-13, a week from this coming weekend, and you can visit any of the homes during that time. They're all over the Portland area and you can use your ticket any time the days of the show. (You have to start at one of the three "starter homes" to get a magazine and directions to the other homes--see map here.)

      Here are some of my favorite "after" photos from this year's homes!

      This is from home 8, a Tudor style home from the 1920's in NE Portland. I grew up in a historic home and I've always appreciated when renovations keep the original spirit of the home intact. From the description it sounds like this one definitely did honor the home's style and add some quality touches (penny tile in the bathroom? I want to see it!).

      This one is from home 9, another historic home in NE Portland (I guess I have a "type"...) which included a basement remodel, kitchen expansion, and patio improvements.

      This one, home 7, was a one-story home and the remodel included adding the entire second story!

      There are remodels of homes as new as the 2000s and a couple from the 1970s-1980s that look like gems in the rough from the "before" pictures, and like some homes I've seen in real estate listings and at estate sales. I love seeing homes of all kinds and I think we'll definitely learn a lot from touring some of these!

      Again, the Tour of Remodeled Homes runs from March 12-13, 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM and my giveaway of two sets of two tickets will end next Tuesday the 8th at 11:59pm PST. If you don't win, you can buy an advance ticket here, or buy at one of the starter homes during the show.

      Enter here! Maybe I'll see you there!


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