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Recipe Review: Paleo Paprika Garlic Shrimp (Per Chance to Cook)

I came across this recipe a few weeks ago on Pinterest while looking for some paleo dinner ideas. It looked pretty yummy – shrimp, garlic, coconut milk, paprika… how could it NOT taste good?

A few months ago, during a visit, my mom had given me some shrimp that she’d frozen. I’d been looking for a good recipe that would make me actually WANT to peel and devein (a*k*a remove the yuck!) them and so I came across Per Chance to Cook.

Now, I always always ALWAYS have paprika. Not just one kind either! I usually have Spanish smoked paprika and regular paprika. Of course this is the one time that I have barely 1/2 a teaspoon of either one in my cupboard. How does that happen!? And I wasn’t about to make a run to the store! I just added that to my grocery list and kept it moving! But, let me say – this recipe was so good that I cannot imagine how much better it would have been with that right amount of paprika! I was concerned initially that using a whole head of garlic would be overwhelming, but it was perfect. I added a little ghee to the mixture and added extra coconut milk because my husband and I both enjoy sauciness in our foods. To keep it paleo, I used some arrowroot (instead of cornstarch) to thicken up the sauce a bit.

I served it over some cauli-rice that was sauteed in coconut oil. I added granulated garlic, ghee, kosher salt, fresh cracked black pepper, and light coconut milk to the cauliflower and let it soak it all up in the pan. Perfect compliment to the shrimp! I think that I will add some spinach next time for color and for nutrition and to round it out. Our home is never lacking in spinach (of all the things, right?) so I know I’ll have some on hand for that.

It was a delicious dish! My husband gave it the eyebrow of approval as he ate. I couldn’t help but smile as I watched this man eat cauliflower! The same man who turned his nose up at the thought of it now eats cauli rice regularly. I love it! The flavors were not overpowering and everything tasted great together.

Note: This recipe is clean as well as grain free, gluten free, dairy free, and paleo & contains healthy fats from the coconut oil and milk as well as great nutrition from the cauliflower. Adding broccoli or spinach adds to the nutrition and ensures you have a well rounded meal!

Latest Project: A Tiny Toddler Purse

Today, my sweet niece turned 3! I remember when she was first born, holding her when she was just a few months old, and now she’s an intelligent, sweet, caring, beautiful little girl!

I made her a couple of simple skirts last October, including a Minnie Mouse one. Since that has been several months, she’s outgrown them. When she was told that they needed to be put away since they no longer fit well, she was upset – “But aunt Jenn made those for me!” I knew what I had to do – I wanted to make her something new, something she wouldn’t outgrow as quickly.

I searched Pinterest for a tutorial or pattern for a child’s purse and I found the perfect one on Make It, Love It. I’d had experience making bags previously (see here) so I knew this would be pretty simple for me. I went to Joann Fabrics & purchased a couple of fat quarters. I’d stocked up on different types of interfacing several months ago when it was on sale so I didn’t need to purchase that.

It was a fairly simple project and easily completed in a few hours with a couple of breaks in between. The tutorial says it takes just an hour, but it definitely took me 3 times that (at least!). When I finished, I was surprised at just how tiny it is! It is the perfect size for a little girl. The tutorial was well written and SO easy to follow. There were a couple of instances where I was confused, but it was a ‘user error’!

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I can totally see myself making more of these in the future for the little girls in my life. As I do more of these, it will go a lot faster!

I can’t wait to give this to my niece as a gift from her uncle and aunt. I am sure she will fill it with all of the little girly things she can think of! :-)

Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten Free & Delicious!)

DSC06165One of my favorite go-to recipes for my husband, for friends, and for events is Tollhouse’s chocolate chip cookie recipe. I cannot tell you how many batches upon batches of cookies I have made in the past several years with that recipe! It always gets rave reviews and I always have to confess that it is no recipe concoction of my own! After I decided to bid gluten adieu, I tried the recipe using King Arthur’s GF multi purpose flour (& no xanthan gum, mind you) and ended up making some flat cookie patties! Ha! They tasted great, but sorely lacked dimension.

A close friend of mine, Enrica, sends me a lot of great gluten-free dessert pins, for which I am so thankful! One of the recipe pins she recommended a while ago was a recipe for chewy gluten-free chocolate chip cookies. What!? I was hesitant for a moment, breaking away from my tried & true Tollhouse recipe (I am still determined to make it work!), but I’d decided to try it. I purchased some gluten free oats, put them in my Ninja blender, and decided to try these out.

Note: Bob’s Red Mill does make a gluten free oat flour, but once I found out that oat flour is just oats ground into a powder, I decided to do it myself. It ended up being much less expensive & more economical for me to purchase a 2 pound bag of oats versus a 1 pound bag of oat flour. Tip: Bob’s Red Mill offers a $1 off coupon. Click here to access it!

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The recipe was certainly easy, didn’t call for other flours, and required no xanthan gum. And the taste of the cookies – outstanding! The texture was assuredly different from the Tollhouse cookies due to the oats, but I didn’t care – they were delicious! They passed the husband test too! I brought some to our church for our staff and they enjoyed them as well. I have made them a few of times since the first, sending some to my family and they were a hit with them too. These cookies are not ‘good for gluten-free’; they’re just good!

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The only thing I would do different is refrigerate the dough, but that’s it! Even without chilling the dough, they came out wonderfully!

The Homemade Hummus Adventure

One of my continued goals with our home is learning how to make things from scratch. Sometimes, when I look at shelf stable items and all of their dyes and preservatives, it bothers me that those things go in our bodies. I’ve wanted to slowly eliminate processed foods and learn how to make the things my husband I both enjoy. Also, I have found that it is better economically, too. I will share more about that later on.

A snack my husband and I both enjoy is hummus! I knew that this was something that I wanted to learn to make. After seeing this pin on Pinterest a couple of months ago, my mind was set to conquer it! So, on my last grocery trip, I grabbed a bag of dried garbanzo beans (chickpeas) and almost grabbed some tahini paste until I saw the price of it! The least expensive jar I could find was $6. Not wanting to pay this much, I googled ‘tahini paste recipe’ and saw that quite a few of them were the same – sesame seeds & olive oil. What?! That’s it?! I settled on this recipe, put that jar down and went to the bulk section, snagging 1/2 a pound of sesame seeds for $2. I must say, I felt overly ambitious at one point. This was a new arena for me, but I was determined to at least try it! And so, I did! If you’re wondering why I didn’t use chickpeas in a can, the thought of eating uncooked peas/beans from a can was totally unappealing to me. Also, since my goal was to go ‘processed free’, cooking my own chickpeas was the way to go.

After I’d made my tahini paste, cooked my chickpeas, I was set to make my hummus. I pulled out my Ninja blender, laid out all of my ingredients, and started making my hummus according to this recipe.

garlic, lemon, tahini paste, kosher salt, chickpeas, olive oil, cumin... let's go!

garlic, lemon, tahini paste, kosher salt, chickpeas, olive oil, cumin… let’s go!

prepped & ready!

prepped & ready!

In the recipe, it says you can skin your chickpeas, but um – I was not going to do that! That would have been quite time consuming and it doesn’t seem to make too much difference in the texture. After about 10-15 minutes of adding, scraping down the sides of the pitcher, and blending, I had myself some homemade hummus.

fresh hummus in the blender

fresh hummus in the blender

I was so excited! I couldn’t believe that I had made my own hummus… and it actually looked like hummus too! The true test was to taste it, so I grabbed some pretzel crisps and did just that.

time to taste it

*drumroll* time to taste it!

It was so good! The homemade tahini paste made a huge difference and the taste really came through. It tasted fresh and yes, it tasted authentic. Will I make it again? Absolutely! Was it time consuming? Not really. The longest part was cooking the beans, 1 hour for a quick soak and 2.5 hours to cook, but that’s not a big deal since it does not require you to sit and watch them the entire time. I am looking forward to trying different flavor combinations in the future, and am glad I decided to try this!

Holiday Cleaning: Our Keurig

One of the things that I really enjoy about Pinterest is that there are SO many D.I.Y. pins! From creating to cooking to modifying to cleaning, doing it yourself has become much easier. Some months back, I pinned information on cleaning your Keurig coffee maker. Ours started behaving strangely only a few months after we got it last year so we went back to the good old-fashioned coffee pot! Since I am normally off work on Wednesdays and Thursdays, I like to use my time to get cleaning done. I decided that last Wednesday would be the day that I cleaned the Keurig and hopefully get it working like new again. I grabbed the pin from my “Keeping it Clean” board and gathered everything that I needed to get started.

dish soap, all purpose cleaner, microfiber towel, toothbrush, and of course - our Keurig!

dish soap, white vinegar, all-purpose cleaner, microfiber towel, toothbrush, and of course – our Keurig!

In the post, she says to use pure white vinegar. I had distilled so that is what I used! Also, her Keurig is totally different from ours (her reservoir detaches; ours does not) so I had to adapt it our model. It was a very easy process to follow.

wiping out the k cup holder

wiping out the k cup holder

waiting for the 'vinegar brew'

waiting for the ‘vinegar brew’

here it comes!

here it comes!

The most time-consuming part of it all was brewing cup after cup (after cup… after cup… lol) of water to make sure that the vinegar was completely rinsed out. I think I ‘brewed’ at least 10 cups! And you know what? It works now!

With the holidays upon us, that means lots of company along with coffee, great conversation, (and sweets!) Now, we can use our Keurig again & they can brew their own beverage of choice! I am looking forward to grabbing some K Cups during my next grocery trip so that we can put our Keurig back to good use.

all fresh and clean!

all fresh and clean!

Sunday Night Beef and Broccoli

Whenever I go grocery shopping (which is every other week), I start by meal planning. I plan out my meals for the next two weeks and base my grocery list on that, trying not to deviate too much when I actually go to the store! Wanting to try some new recipes, I reviewed my Pinterest page as well as one of my favorite recipe sites, Brown Eyed Baker. I was so excited to find some new recipes that did not require me to buy TOO many ingredients! One of those was beef & broccoli. Now, my beloved and I enjoy Chinese food occasionally so I thought this would be a great addition to our meal rotation. I hit the store, grabbed some oyster sauce along with some rice vinegar, flank steak, sesame oil, and a few other necessities for the meal, and I was set! So yesterday, after Sunday evening service, I got ready to prepare it, excited about trying something new!

I’d never done a recipe with sesame oil or oyster sauce so I got small quantities of each item. I really enjoy shopping on the ethnic / international aisle at our local HEB. I always see so many things that I am unfamiliar with and it always reminds me that there is a whole world of cooking that I am just not familiar with!

It's beef & broccoli time!

It’s beef & broccoli time!

I got all my ingredients together (dark brown sugar, vegetable oil, ginger, garlic, corn starch, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, broccoli florets, and flank steak) and started by cutting up my flank steak.

Getting it ready to marinate

Getting it ready to marinate

Making the marinade was super quick and easy!

Marinade all whisked away! :-)

Marinade all whisked away! :-)

I placed the steak in a bag to marinate, got my florets steamed, & made my sauce. As I opened the oyster sauce, I noticed it had MSG (monosodium glutamate). I thought, It will be okay. How often do I have MSG anyway? Not often! I checked with my husband and he let me know he had no sensitivity to it so I proceeded! I cooked my beef, adding in the fresh garlic and ginger, removed it, then added my sauce to the pan so that it could thicken. Our home smelled like an Asian cuisine restaurant! I added the beef and broccoli to my thickened sauce, stirred it, and served it up over white rice.

Beef & broccoli up!

Beef & broccoli up!

The taste was magnificent! It tasted authentic! We loved it! And then an hour later came…

The Headache

Yes, I got an MSG headache! I couldn’t believe it! I went to bed with a headache and woke up with one. My husband was affected as well. Needless to say, the MSG laden oyster sauce went into the trash and so did the leftovers. As delicious as it was, as great of a recipe as it was, it wasn’t worth the side effects.

This dish is definitely a winner, but next time, an MSG free oyster sauce will be used! I look forward to making this and serving it to friends! It was quick, it was delicious, and it tasted authentic! Win!

My Latest Sewing Project: A Messenger Bag!

In my quest to continue to grow in my sewing skills & knowledge, I decided to attempt this messenger bag tutorial by Amber at Crazy Little Projects. My husband graciously accompanied me to Joann’s on Saturday and helped me pick out my fabric. After I picked the main fabric, I was a little stuck while looking for a good coordinating fabric. David was so helpful that I proclaimed him as my “fabric advisor” and vowed to ask him to come with me every time I need to pick out fabrics!

This was my first time working with fusible fleece, and my first time attempting a project of this magnitude. I am so glad I did! There is nothing like wearing or using something that you made yourself!

Let's get ready to rumble!

Let’s get ready to rumble!

I cut my pieces on Monday and finished assembling my bag this morning. I got stuck on a few parts here and there while I was working on it, but Amber was quick to respond to my questions. After I’d stepped away and come back to it, the things that had me stuck ended up making perfect sense! This morning, when I finished my bag, I was so excited! I danced, jumped up & down, & squealed with joy! I couldn’t wait to show my husband!

For those that are interested in the cost for this project, here is the breakdown:
1 yard of fusible fleece$5.09 (normally $8.49, but it was 40% off)
1 yard of flourish flower print$6.99 (normally $9.99, but it was 30% off)
1 yard of baroque damask plum print$5.59 (normally $7.99, but it was 30% off)
Total = $17.67

Coupons and sales definitely help to keep costs down! Having these amounts in my mind will definitely prepare me for future bags that I may want to make (and I do plan to make many more!) I do plan to make other messenger bags, but I will make them smaller! This bag is a little large compared to what I normally prefer, but I still am absolutely fond of it! It is super versatile and can be used as a book bag, diaper bag, a fancy gym bag, & so much more!

Alas! On to the pictures!

My newly finished messenger bag

My newly finished messenger bag!

The inside coordinating fabric

The inside coordinating fabric!

Inside pocket!

Inside pocket for my phone, pens, and pocket change!

Yay!

Yay!