2015 & Pear Crostata

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I think 2015 was the most challenging, yet rewarding year I’ve had.

Challenging in that I was forced to make some tough decisions regarding my future, but rewarding because those decisions brought me where I am today and I couldn’t be happier.

I learned so much about myself this past year, and made a lot of mistakes in the process, so I’ve created a list of the top 15 things I learned this year. I could probably come up with tons more, but 15 sounds like plenty.

  1. Imperfections are beautiful. I’ve spent so much of my life sulking over not being, or looking perfect (as do most women) but I’m starting to love the cards I was dealt.
  2. You can’t make everyone happy. Striving to please everyone is a lost cause, so it’s okay to be selfish sometimes and think about yourself.
  3. Negativity gets you nowhere. I’ve been known to be quite the pessimist in life, but NO MORE. For obvious reasons.
  4. Make time for people you care about. Spending time with family is something I always cherished, but I need to make more of an effort to get home and do that. Even just a phone call.
  5.  Let the small things go. I tend to worry about the stupidest things, so I’m going to start stressing less over a missed workout, or people being late to dinner. Just as long as no one died, everything is fine :/
  6. No one’s diet is perfect. Food is a huge stress in my life. With such an unhappy gut 75% of the time I need to focus more on not eating foods that I know will cause that, but also not beat myself up when I do. Tomorrow’s a new day.
  7. Home cooked meals cure all. I spent my entire childhood eating a home cooked meal every night from my mom, but I never really realized how lucky I was until college. I’m vowing to put more effort into cooking real recipes instead of eating the same old scrambled eggs and veggies every night.
  8. You can’t actively search for love. A lady once said that you should spend your college years solely searching for a significant other because after college it’s impossible. Well that idea sat with my for 3 years and now I’m saying no. I’m done searching for “the one.” He’ll come when he’s ready 🙂
  9. Support other women. Why do women always have to beat each other down to feel better about themselves? Believe me, you won’t feel any better. Compliments and kindness go a long way sometimes.
  10. Brunch with friends is a must, sometimes. Contrary to what I said for #7, sometimes you just need to eat out. I love nothing more than getting together with friends and family in the morning, and spending hours noshing on eggs and potatoes of all varieties. The occasional pancake too.
  11. Spend money on experiences and not items. After traveling Europe for 4 months, and taking countless vacations; it has finally sunk in that I value seeing the world more than that cute J. Crew sweater. One Burberry scarf can get you 3 Ryanair flights from Dublin to Croatia. Let that sink in.
  12. My body can go without food for at least 4 days. Now this is definitely something I learned in 2015, but I definitely don’t recommend it. Read about it here.
  13. Going to work should never be dreaded. I’ve had so many jobs I didn’t enjoy in my lifetime, so since graduating college I’ve vowed to follow my dream of opening a bakery (read about it here). Stay tuned for what I learn doing that.
  14. I can’t drink like I used to. Freshman year of college was a whirlwind. I could drink my weight in sugary alcohol concoctions and feel chipper as ever the next morning. That is far from the case now. One glass of wine has me waking up feeling like I got in 10 bar fights the night before, minus the bruising.
  15. Stop beating around the bush. I’m notorious for not saying exactly how I feel or telling people what I want. My motto was, “What you don’t know won’t hurt you.” Well it has hurt me every time, so I’m done. This year is about asking for what I want, and being upfront and honest.

Your reward for reading all of that is this delicious Pear Crostata I whipped up a few days ago. It’s super super simple and a delicious dessert that everyone will enjoy.

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Pear Crostata

Pie Crust recipe

Filling:
2 pears, thinly sliced
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon

// Preheat oven to 350.
Mix all filling ingredients in a bowl until pears are evenly coated.
Roll out pie crust in large circle on parchment paper.
Line the pears up on the crust, leaving 1 1/2 inch border of crust.
Fold the crust edges up and over the pears.
Bake for 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Buttermilk Biscuits

With the wonderful holidays over (besides New Year’s) it’s hard to revert back to not eating cookies for 3 meals a day, but if it wasn’t for my gut issues I don’t think I would go back. Desserts all day, 365 days a year? Please!

Wouldn’t that be the life? Provided the sugar didn’t rot your brain and insides…

Before I say a final goodbye to the wonderful Christmas season I want to tell you all about it (well the food at least). To start off, on Christmas Eve me aunt made a Porchetta that she bought at Trader Joes!! I tell ya, that place can do no wrong! Everyone at the table was thoroughly impressed, and of course it allowed me to educate people on what Porchetta actually is. Basically it’s pork heaven that originated in an Italian region, that’s really the gist of it, but my explanation to them was much more in-depth 😉

I then woke up Christmas morning with a serious pork hangover, but nothing some good family time, and gift opening can’t cure 🙂

I decided to add some biscuits to our usual Sunday brunch spread, because Minnesota is basically Georgia, right? Yeah I’m a bit off, but I don’t care because they were absolutely delicious, especially when smeared with my homemade honey, vanilla butter!

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The Fam bam then headed to Gram’s for a nice dinner of fondue. Yes, that’s our Scandinavian Christmas tradition, fondue. Then came the cookies and corn syrup laden popcorn balls. And I wonder why I feel like death while I write this. It will take me weeks to recover from all that, but I’m completely fine with that because Christmas is a time to say yes to every food (and alcohol) item thrown your way.

Those biscuits sure helped soak up the mimosas during brunch, which is a definite win!

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Buttermilk Biscuits (from Carla Hall on The Chew)

2 cups flour (+ more for counter)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter (very cold and cut in cubes)
1 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp butter, melted

// Preheat oven to 450.
Whisk flour, baking soda and powder, salt together in a large bowl.
Add butter cubes and use a dough cutter or fingers to “pinch” butter into the flour mix until butter is in small chunks.
Mix in buttermilk with a wooden spoon until just combined.
Pour dough out onto a floured surface and put flour on top too. Pat down until about 3/4 inch thick.
Cut dough into biscuits with a biscuit cutter and place on a baking sheet.
Brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle salt on top (optional).
Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Honey, Vanilla Butter

1/2 stick of butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tbsp honey

// Mix all ingredients and serve in a small ramekin.

It’s all puppy approved 🙂

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Sandwich bread (grain, dairy, sugar-free, paleo)

More cassava flour experiments goin’ down.

I’m kind of in love with this flour, and the flaky and chewy texture you get from using it. I found a recipe for bread using it this time and immediately got baking.

I’ve been making coconut flour breads (here and here) for awhile now, but I’m not the biggest fan of the eggy texture that results from using coconut flour. I also like using almond flour, but unfortunately almond flour does not like me, so that rules that out. So with the discovery of this new flour made from yucca, I don’t miss the other options I felt that I was stuck with. If there’s one thing I learned about paleo eating, it’s that you can never feel “stuck” eating something. You have to enjoy everything, and not feel like you’re being restricted to certain foods.

Sometimes I just need a piece of crostata. I may not feel great after I eat it, but it makes my heart happy sometimes. The pain after it proves to me why I eat the foods I eat, too, so I can feel great when I wake up in the morning instead of hitting the snooze 40 times to avoid the grogginess.

I’m slowly healing myself one loaf of cassava flour bread at a time 🙂

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Cassava Flour Sandwich Bread (recipe adapted from Cook It Up Paleo)

6 eggs
1/3 cup mashed banana (applesauce works too)
4 tbsp ghee
3/4 cup Cassava Flour
1/4 cup psyllium husk powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

// Preheat oven to 375.
Grease a loaf pan with coconut oil, ghee or butter (not paleo).
In a large bowl mix the eggs and banana.
Add the cassava flour, psyllium husk powder and salt and mix until there’s no lumps.
Combine baking soda and apple cider vinegar and then pour it into the bowl and mix again.
Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and bake for 30-35 min.

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Paleo dumplings

So I impulse bought a bag of cassava flour from Amazon. If you don’t know what cassava flour is, it’s yucca that is dehydrated and then ground into a flour. That bag then sat in my cupboard for 4 months. I blame my lack of experimentation with paleo baking lately, but this weekend I finally peeled the bag open and started cooking.

I started with the SUPER simple dough recipe from Predominantly Paleo. She also has tons of other delicious recipes so check out her blog.

The great thing about the recipe I used is that it’s so versatile. Just make the dough base and go from there. You can add cinnamon for a sweet dough and fill it with some chocolate chips, or even mashed banana. OR you could add herbs like thyme or some cayenne pepper to make more savory dumplings, and then fill them with meat and/or cheese.

For my first time, I just stuck with the base dough recipe and added some pork (that was on sale) I had cooked in my crockpot earlier* (easiest recipe ever) for the filling. I was very pleasantly surprised at the texture of the dumplings. They were almost flaky, and they have a nice chew to them which I really enjoyed.

I will definitely be using more Cassava Flour in my life.

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Cassava Flour Dumplings (recipe from Predominantly Paleo)

1 cup cassava flour
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil (ghee or butter)
pinch of salt

// Preheat oven to 350.
Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
Flatten out dough on parchment paper until 1/4 inch thick.
Use a cup or round cutter and cut out discs.
Fill the discs with any filling your heart desires.
Fold the dough over into a half moon shape and place on parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake for 20 min, then sauté in a pan with ghee to crisp up the outside.

* Crockpot pork recipe: Throw 8 (or so) boneless pork chops in the crockpot with a can of tomato sauce and a can of water. Add some dried thyme, salt and pepper and cook for 6-8 hours.

 

Pupusas?

You guys know all about my tamale addiction (not the hot tamale candies, ick!!), so when I stumbled upon a place that specializes in a tamale-like food I had to try it.

People like to think that Minneapolis doesn’t have a great ethnic food scene, but I really beg to differ. I’ve eaten all kinds of food all over the country (and world) and rarely do I find ethnic food that can beat something in Minneapolis. It’s just as good as anything you can find anywhere else, but I can only do so much convincing from a blog! Come to Minneapolis and see for yourself, everyone, but wait until at least March because, ya know, it’s cold!!

Anyways back to my food discovery. I’ve known what a Pupusa is for quite awhile, but I couldn’t for the life of me find somewhere that makes them. Then low and behold I found a place that even has Pupusa even in their name… Pupuseria La Palmera.

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First let me fill you in on what a Pupusa is. It’s a South American dish where corn flour (masa) is mixed with warm water to make dough and then the ball is hollowed out and filled with meats and/or cheeses. The ball is then flattened and griddled! It’s basically a stuffed tortilla. Honestly, I would take these over tacos any day.

So my friend and I both crave tamales at all times, so when she wanted to celebrate the end of the semester (or college in general for me), I decided to take her to get Pupusas. It was the easiest sell though, because they also make delicious tamales, so if we didn’t end up liking the Pupusas we just eat our weight in tamales. Win, Win!

I highly suggest you find a Pupusa somewhere around you and stuff your face, or even try making them because honestly it’s not that hard. I just much prefer the authentic-ness of real El Salvadorians making mine.

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Post Pupusa happiness

Last Day of School Forever (& Recipe)

I woke up this morning feeling very nostalgic. Up until last night it hadn’t even occurred to me that today would be the last day I would ever attend class. I don’t know how that thought just slipped my mind, oh wait, yeah I do… Thoughts about what I plan to do after school have been taking over my mind! It left no room for me to think about this monumental day in the life of a student. Whoops!

Now that I’ve realized what today is, and how weirdly sad I am to close this chapter of my life. I’m also using today to really reflect on all the great times I’ve had in the last 16 years. From dreading those 6:30 am wake up calls from Mom only to always come downstairs to find my homemade breakfast of choice EVERY. DAY. My mom truly is the greatest!!

Then came college…

I definitely had a crazy fun freshman year, but thank the lawdddd I mellowed out after that because I don’t think my body would have survived 3 more years of that behavior!

I don’t regret anything that’s happened in the last 16 years because all of those experiences brought me to this point. Though I’m still unsure of the future, I have the greatest support system behind me, and really, what else do I need?

If you’re like me and celebrating a milestone in life today (or any day, ever), you should definitely make this pudding/frosting/”just eat it out of the jar.” It’s absolutely delicious and super easy to whip up when you’re craving something sweet and creamy, yet you’re avoiding all those gut irritating foods.

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Paleo Chocolate Cream

1 can coconut cream (You can also use a can of coconut milk, but refrigerate it over night and then scoop the cream off the top. You’ll need 2 cans of the milk then)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tbsp maple syrup (Use more if you want it sweeter)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt

// Whip the coconut cream with an electric mixer.
Add all the other ingredients and whip until combined.

** This isn’t a single serving recipe (as coconut cream is very fat heavy), but sometimes life calls for a spoon and a jar of chocolate pudding.

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Happy Friday

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I’ve been making a very conscious effort to be positive about everything lately. With so much going on in my life right now, and a huge transition about to happen in a week (I graduate for good, EEEK), I want to make sure I’m not getting stressed over the little things when I should be enjoying my last bit of college.

The college years were some of the best I had, and it can only go up from here, right? RIGHT! Well just because I’m graduating a bit early doesn’t mean I should pretend like I’m 40 years old and work my behind off.

So I took inspiration from a fantastic blogger, It’s me, Charlotte. She literally has the greatest life. She, like me, has been dealing with stomach issues for awhile, but has found a diet that works for her and she posts recipes that follow that and look AH-MAZING! BUT she also realized that her stomach issues were not going to disappear so she chose to not let it take over her life. She even decided to become a “digital nomad” and move to from Portland to Copenhagen (my dream!!) and just enjoy the beauty of life while exploring the beautiful city.

So with inspiration from Charlotte, I wanted to sit down this Friday and think of all the little things in life that make me happy lately…

+ a big mug of mulled wine

+ a good sweaty hot yoga class (or anything but a cardio machine)

+ lighting a candle and turning on Christmas lights & music

+ watching the Grinch (who doesn’t love baby Grinch?)

+ get a new haircut

+ wear my new favorite sweater from Banana Republic (it’s black, of course)

+ get coffee with a friend I haven’t seen in awhile

+ explore an outdoor market

+ splurge on a nice meal at one of Minneapolis’ top restaurants

+ breakfast at Colossal Cafe

+ eat Tamales from literally anywhere (kinda)

+ baking literally anything and being able to sit and enjoy eating it

+ drive around and look at all the Christmas lights at night

+ eating pineapple (reminds me of warmer days)

Just thinking about these things cheers me up when the cold temperatures and life events get me down.

So stay positive, people, because even something like a good breakfast can instantly make a better day & attitude.

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