Friday, April 15, 2016

Peanut Butter & Honey . . . Salad?

One of the most useful things I've learned about food since I cut out grains and cane sugar is that anything that makes a good sandwich can make a better salad!

Yes! It's true! Just think of your favorite sandwich combo, and then replace the bread with a bed of greens. Some of the possibilities here seem obvious . . . BLT, Philly Steak & Cheese, Meatball, Taco, etc . . . What wasn't so obvious to me was that this truth is not limited to savory sandwiches.

One of my favorites from my childhood was Peanut Butter and Honey. Especially if the peanut butter was crunchy. I liked smooth peanut butter with jam/jelly combos, but for some reason the combo of honey with nut chunks has always been extra yummy to me.

Since I've been married, yet before I discovered my digestive issues with bread, my family would often make peanut butter honey sandwiches for lunch. We discovered adding a layer of regular butter to the bread was key to making it extra good---Not too dry, and it kept the honey from soaking into the bread. (And Elvis: PB and Banana was also a family fave.)

After discovering that I couldn't eat bread anymore I gave up on the idea of enjoying this flavor combo for a few years. it was sad though, and hard. Then last Summer after watching my husband and kids still enjoying their PBHs I suddenly had the inspiration to try it out with my sandwich to salad theory. I had already been eating things like chili, stir-fry, stroganoff, bbq meat, and other such dinner menu items over salad. (It's also true that anything you can eat over pasta or rice is great on salad.)

Anyway, I tried it, and . . .  Surprise!!!!!
It was AMAZING!!! The nostalgic flavor I had missed was there in full force! It was even richer and more satisfying than a sandwich because I didn't have the flavor of bread competing with the PB and honey. Spinach is especially good and disappearing into the background and allowing other flavors to shine.  After enjoying this discovery for a few months I finally managed to take some photos to give some of you some inspiration of all the many possibilities this salad combo offers.

 Start with a bed of salad greens . . . in this case organic baby spinach, and organic Spring Mix from Costco.
 Put about a tablespoon each of peanut butter and butter into a small dish and place in the oven on warm until the butter is melty.
 Stir until you have a smooth peanut butter dressing.
 Top your salad with the dressing . . .
 Drizzle on some local raw honey . . .
 Here are some other optional toppings that you might enjoy to bulk things up: Nuts (almonds are shown because that it what I had at the time, but I think pecans are best because they are softer.), shredded unsweetened coconut, and organic dried fruit such as raisins (or chopped dates), organic fresh fruit such as bananas (remember the Elvis Presley?) or an organic apple. (Organic us recommend for these fruits because they are on the dirty dozen list.)
 If you are adding nuts, especially almonds, be sure to crush them so they are easier to eat over your salad.
 Slice you bananas . . .
 Add sliced apples if desired (I usually don't do the apples, I prefer the bananas by themselves. But you know, you can use what you have.)
 I always put salt and pepper on my salads, even my sweet ones because I like the way it enhances all the different flavors.
 Another possible seasoning that works well with PB and Honey is cinnamon. (If you can get real, fresh cinnamon, that will of course be a plus.)
 Mix it all together and enjoy!
Mmm, the taste of nostalgia blended with high nutrition and success are so very sweet!

Clean Chocolate "Ganache" Icing

Last September, I posted about Flourless Chocolate Zucchini Cake.   If you notice, I said in the recipe to divide the batter between three 9" pans. I actually only used two of those layers for the cake you see in the pictures on that post. That was on a weekday, so I actually saved the third layer for the weekend so I could serve my parents some cake when they had time to drop by.
Part of the reason for this decision was because on my daughters birthday, it was getting late and I figured after frosting two layers that it looked good enough, and we should just go ahead a light the candles so the kids could get to bed. (I think we were also low on frosting after those two layers.)

As I also mentioned in that post, when I talked about how to make the frosting, that I usually grind my coconut sugar in an effort to make the frosting more smooth. However, when it came time to frost the final layer on Saturday morning, I had the idea to melt the coconut sugar instead, when making new frosting.  We've made coconut syrup for pancakes before when we've been all out of honey or maple syrup and it is really good. So I figured, it ought to work. . . . Aaaaand . . . Happily . . . .

It totally worked!


I don't think I'll ever grind my coconut sugar again! This icing was so smooth and delectable!


Plus it was a lot quicker to melt the sugar than to grind it.


So here's the revised recipe with this new technique included.

Chocolate "Ganache" Icing
Ingredients
  • 1-2 cups of Coconut Palm Sugar 
  • 1 tsp of water or so
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 1/4 cups of Coconut Oil and/or Butter
  • 1/4 cup of Cocoa Powder (Or more for a darker chocolate.)
  • A dash of salt (if your butter is unsalted)

Instructions

  • Place the coconut sugar in a small saucepan with the water over low heat and stir until smooth
  • Remove from heat and add vanilla and butter/oil, stirring again stir till smooth.
  • Transfer syrup to a stand mixer or mixing bowl and beat in the salt, adding the cocoa a little at a time until well blended and smooth.
  • If the consistency is too runny, chill for 10-15 minutes then whip. 
  • Be sure the cake is well cooled before you ice it.
  • Top with fresh berries if desired and serve.

  • I think my parents were pretty impressed with how the cake turned out. Which is good, because I know they have had a hard time adjusting to my cleaner eating habits, and I think they have been doubtful in the past that clean desserts can really be as tasty as their processed counterparts. 


    This cake really was delicious though! So fudge and smooth and rich and chocolaty! 




    I hope this recipe proves useful to someone out there, and I hope you enjoy eating it as much as I did!

    Thanks so much for reading!

    ~Julie :}

    Thursday, April 7, 2016

    A Comprehensive List of My Wedding Theme Pinboards

    I love planning weddings! I helped both of my two older sisters plan/prepare for their weddings before I had the chance to plan my own, (almost eleven years ago now). 

    Since then, I've changed and learned so much about myself, so I think perhaps I feel like I want to help other brides really go for what they really like, instead of what they think is expected of them.


    For the past few years, since I joined Pinterest, I've had the opportunity (twice) to help a young bride plan her wedding day. . . I really adore coming up with, and collecting great ideas and themes for parties and weddings. I sometimes think I should have pursued a career in event planning!

    Still, I'm quite happy where I am, and am content to share my findings with others through the use of my pin boards.

    The only real problem with this is, I now have so many boards (seventeen wedding boards alone!) that it becomes  tricky to direct people who might be interested in seeing what I've collected, to find them.
    I realize that anyone who goes to my Pinterest profile could easily feel overwhelmed and lose interest in skimming through all my other boards before they ever find anything relevant. I know how it is to be busy and anxious about planning your wedding and not feel like you have the time to sort through a lot of non-relevant stuff. Thus, I have decided to create this post which will include a linked list of all of my wedding themed boards. This way a bride can skim through a comprehensive list and will only have to click on the boards that truly interest her.

    So, here we go!

    First off, we have my basic wedding board. "Ideas for the Ultimate Wedding"
    This one is not themed; it is simply a collection of cool, creative, smart ideas that could apply to any wedding to make it that much better.

    Then I have a board with inspirational Wedding Cake Ideas. These are unique and interesting cakes that I feel all have something a little bit special about each of them.

    Next we come to a board dedicated to bouquets & flowers, (or alternatives to flowers,) mainly focusing on the bridal bouquet, but also touching on possible types of flowers, color schemes, and possible centerpieces.

    Then, just because so many people are thinking outside of the box these days, I've dedicated an entire board to "Non-Traditional Wedding Ideas." Like my ultimate wedding board, these could apply to just about anyone, and are just some fun, creative ways to make your wedding your own.

    If the more casual or non-traditional ideas don't really appeal, and you want everything as luxurious and fancy as possible then you might like my "Ultra-Romantic/Lacey Details" board.
    This board features everything lacy, elegant, ruffly, frilly, fluffy, opulent and even downright gaudy. Satin, lace, pearls, bling and gold accents galore!

    On the opposite end of the scale, we have the "Country/Rustic/Boho" board for all things, quaint, rustic, casual, comfy and relaxed.

    If you feel like less is more, and just want things to be clean and simple, yet still with striking elegance, you might like my "Modern/Graphic/Asian"  inspired board. Paper lanterns, simple color schemes and graphic design elements all come together in this board to make a bold, yet classy statement.

    If the sleek modern look isn't your thing because you'd rather be out doors exploring an enchanted forest or secret garden, then you just might like my "Whimsical Woodland/Nature Themed" board.
    This board focuses on the beauties of nature, like birds, butterflies, and flowers (obviously) all accented with moss and natural wood accents.

    Taking slight turn from this theme, we tame the wildness of nature by bringing in some unexpected elements and quirky details with our "Vintage Shabby Chic" board.
    While still quite close to the beauty of nature, this fun theme brings in interesting everyday items, just as an antique typewriter, an old suitcase or even some vintage jewelry to dress things up with some old fashioned romance.

    Speaking of old fashioned romance, if you love classic novels and tea parties I have also created a lovely board called "High Contrast/Literary/Cameo Theme". This board is inspired by cameos, painted teacups, silhouettes and books in general. Whether you adore all things Austen, or are into the slightly more quirky Alice in Wonderland vibe, this board offers lovely ideas for decor and refreshments, and well as color schemes inspired by the printed word. Literally. Crafty decor made from book pages, or black silhouettes and accents against soft, pastel hues create an elegant yet cozy environment.


    Another theme inspired by paper is the Pinwheels Theme. This board also features other whimsical elements such as hot air balloons, bicycles, paper airplanes and kites. All colorful items that could create a fun-loving, breezy wedding environment for all invited.

    Similarly, another fun object to base a theme off of, is the simple key. My Keys Theme board features a lot of creative ways to integrate keys into your special day.

    I have some more generally themed boards based on the season. Most of my other boards could easily work for Spring, so I do not have a board specific to that season yet, but I have the other three seasons covered.




    Lastly, I have a board of ideas for Wedding Colors,

    as well as a board that lists a few recommended wedding venders local to the Salt Lake area.

    I sincerely hope that this collection of amazing wedding ideas can help many brides make their wedding day truly memorable, and may I congratulate every single one of you, and wish you joy!