Making Espresso Drinks at Home

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After much experimentation in the kitchen, I have finally found a way to make frothy espresso drinks at home. The credit goes mostly to my lovely sister-in-law, Amy, who introduced me to this awesome little milk-frother that has basically changed my life. Confessions of a true coffee addict, right? She let me use hers several times while visiting family at Christmas, and I knew as soon as I got home I would be ordering one for myself. You can get them on IKEA’s website for just $2.49! I paid $6 on Amazon for mine (including shipping), so not bad at all.

I also have a little Krups espresso machine. Just a tiny one that sits on the countertop. It is very simple to use and only costs about $35 on Amazon. It has a milk steamer on the side that I sometimes use as opposed to the IKEA milk-frother, but it takes a little more practice to get the steaming technique down than the IKEA handheld version. If you don’t want to invest in an espresso machine, extra strong coffee works, too, although I wouldn’t suggest using coffee from a Keurig. I’ve tried it once or twice and the only way I can think to describe the taste is “weird”. Probably not what you want. Just your average coffeepot or a French press would do the job, as long as you have good quality coffee grounds to work with.

So how do I make my homemade espresso drinks?

I start by heating 6 ounces of milk (usually organic cow’s or non-GMO almond) in a pot over the stovetop. Sometimes I put non-GMO stevia or organic sugar, if I’m in the mood for a sweet drink. Meanwhile, I pour my water in the top of my espresso machine, put good quality grounds into the portafilter, tamp them down, lock it in, and turn the dial to the espresso option. Once the espresso is finished and the milk is heated to the right temperature, I set my espresso aside and pour the milk from the pot into a glass Pyrex measuring cup. I froth the milk with my nifty handheld device for about 12-15 seconds. I always beat my Pyrex glass against the counter a few times, just to make sure all the big bubbles are burst. Mine has a rubber ringed bottom, so I don’t feel like I’m hurting it or making too much noise. Then I pour my espresso into a coffee mug and pour the milk on top. I have big dreams of one day discovering how to make latte art, but I haven’t figured out how to do that quite yet. When I do, I will be sure to share it with you! I need a barista to teach me. YouTube isn’t working. At least not for me anyway.

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Well, I hope this has given you an idea of a few tools that will help you make delicious lattes at home. I remember thinking before the days of having these nifty little gadgets that if I wanted a latte, I would either have to go to Starbucks and spend five bucks or invest in one of those $2,000 machines that I had neither the money nor the room for in the kitchen. I am glad there are much more economical options for the frugal.

Homemade Whipped Cream

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A few days ago I saw this video on how to make whipped cream at home. I am a big fan of whipped cream, but knowing all the chemicals and artificial junk that are in most store bought brands, I had not had it in a while. I rarely have heavy cream in the fridge, but I just so happened to need it for a dinner recipe and had just enough leftover to give this a try. All you need is a mason jar and 1/2 cup of heavy cream, 1 Tbsp of powdered sugar, and a small drop or two of vanilla extract. Put your ingredients in the jar, secure the lid and shake for forty-five seconds.

I shook my little jar and then hesitantly pulled the lid off thinking, “There’s no way that this worked after only forty-five seconds.” But sure enough, I dipped my finger in and gave it a taste and discovered that I was holding a jar of whipped cream in my hand! And it was good! I had just made espresso and heated up some milk, so I frothed up a latte and put a dollop of my delicious whipped cream on top. This beats Starbucks any day, and think of all the time and money you are saving and the artificial ingredients that you are choosing not to pump into your body if you made this your morning routine instead of running through the Starbucks drive-thru?

Chocolate Coconut PB Banana Smoothie Recipe

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I had a chocolate and peanut butter craving the other day. What else is new? That’s basically an every day occurrence. Anyway, I started brainstorming a chocolate peanut butter smoothie recipe that I could whip up in a few seconds with ingredients I had at home. Here’s what I came up with, and let me tell you, I’ve already made it a couple times. It’s really good, if I do say so myself. 😉

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 cup almond milk (GMO-free)
  • 1 organic banana, fresh or frozen (I recommend frozen slices to make your smoothie colder)
  • 4 pitted dates
  • 2 Tbsp organic peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp all-natural unsweetened cocoa powder (I used dark chocolate)
  • 2 Tbsp all-natural unsweetened shredded coconut
  • small handful of all-natural dark chocolate chips
  • extra coconut and chocolate chips for topping

Throw all of this in a blender and you get a delicious and healthy chocolate peanut butter smoothie! Enjoy!

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Homemade Laundry Detergent

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A few years ago I was teaching at a Child Development Center. There was a little boy in the class next door who had red dots all over his body that he constantly itched. His whole family had them on their bodies, and they tried for a long time to figure out what was causing them. They finally switched laundry detergent brands and the spots and itching went away. After I found this out I started wondering, “What is in laundry detergent that would make someone’s whole body be filled with a constantly itchy rash?” I started reading up on ingredients in laundry detergent and I was amazed that pretty much every ingredient in Tide, Gain, All, etc. are toxic and carcinogenic (cancer-causing). Standard laundry detergent ingredients have been linked to damage on the central nervous system, lungs, kidneys, heart, and blood vessels, as well as allergies and skin and eye irritation. And they biodegrade slowly causing environmental damage.

I can see some of you rolling your eyes reading this, thinking, “I’m fine and most of the people I know are fine and we all use typical laundry detergent.” But if I gave you a recipe for a natural detergent that you can make really quickly and easily and it would save you lots of money, does it sound worth it to avoid the risks? Go into your laundry room, or next time you are at the store look at the back of the laundry detergent bottle, and you will see that there isn’t really an ingredients list. There may be a sentence or two telling you a few of the things it contains, but most if not all won’t even tell you everything that’s in it. If they have to hide from you what you are washing your clothes with and wearing next to your body every day, does that concern you at all? Maybe it’s just me.

Anyway, here’s a recipe for a more natural laundry detergent that I made a few months ago and I love. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but my clothes come out smelling really good and they get really clean, so no worries. You’ll need:

  • 1 bar of all-natural soap
  • 1/2 cup of borax
  • 1/2 cup of washing soda
  • Optional: 1 capful of Purex Crystals Laundry Enhancer. This is 87% natural. I bought it for my first time making this recipe because I was nervous that my clothes were not going to smell clean, but with the soap that I chose, I’m not worried about that anymore. I think that once I run out of this, I probably won’t buy it again.

Steps:

  1. Cut your bar of soap into a few sections, and then grate it in the food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a cheese grater. (It does make it way easier if you have a food processor.)
  2. Next, mix your finely grated soap with 1/2 cup borax, 1/2 cup washing soda, and if using, 1 capful of Purex Crystals in a container. Just dump it all into a mason jar or plastic container with a lid and shake it up.
  3. Use 3 Tablespoons for a regular load or 4 for a super large load. The more you use it, the better feel you’ll get for how much you’ll need for each load size.

This amount really doesn’t make much, but it lasted me a few months with just two of us. If you have a larger family or just want to mix more so it will last longer, feel free to double or triple the recipe. And if you decide for whatever reason that making your own detergent isn’t for you, check out Seventh Generation or Ecos Detergents. I’ve used both and have been happy with these brands as well. Happy homemade detergent making! 🙂

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I found this recipe at condoblues.com.

Paleo Chocolate Avocado Smoothie Recipe

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I love avocados. It’s not unusual for me to buy 4 or 5 every time I do my weekly grocery shopping. But last week I had a few in the fridge and I did not want to eat them! I guess I burned myself out on them. I kept trying to muster up enough of an appetite for one before they went bad, but they just weren’t appealing to me. So after putting a few in my hair for No-Poo deep conditioning treatments, 😉 I started looking at Paleo recipes where I could use them up but maybe not have a strong avocado taste. I found a recipe for Paleo chocolate avocado mousse and it was disgusting…basically if you sprinkled unsweetened cocoa powder on a plain avocado and ate it, that’s what it tasted like. Yuck! 

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Next I tried this one, and it was soooo good! I didn’t have all the ingredients for it, so I ended up doing my own thing. Here’s what I came up with:

  • 8 oz. almond milk
  • 1 banana
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp almond butter (I technically used organic PB, which isn’t Paleo but I’m waiting for almond butter to go on sale…it’s double the price of organic PB! Not cool.) 
  • a small handful of dark chocolate cocoa nibs

Blend all of your ingredients in a blender until smooth and you get…

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…this amazingness! I promise you can’t taste the avocado at all! It’s so rich and creamy and filling that I had half for breakfast, couldn’t finish it, and had the other half for lunch. (And now of course I’m craving one and don’t have any more avocados.) 🙂

Enjoy!

 

I got the idea for this recipe at againstallgrain.com.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Spread

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This is going to be a short post because it’s very simple and only uses four ingredients. It’s really good…I’ve been eating a lot of it because it is so easy to throw together and be done. Anyone who knows me or has been following my blog won’t be surprised when I say that chocolate, peanut butter, and bananas are three of my favorite foods. 🙂 

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup organic peanut butter
  • 1 banana (frozen slices) 
  • 1 Tbsp organic agave nectar (or honey)
  • 1 Tbsp all-natural unsweetened cocoa powder

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Method: Throw frozen banana slices into a food processor. Add peanut butter, agave nectar and cocoa powder. Turn on food processor and pulse until creamy. Store in a glass jar and refrigerate. 

It’s that simple! And very delicious! I love putting it in on fruit, especially apple slices, but it’s good on toast, too. Enjoy! 

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Paleo Bison Meatballs

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I did something last week I’ve never done. I bought bison meat from the grocery store. Since we are trying to eat Paleo as much as we can, I’m trying to explore/experiment with different meats. Bison meat was on sale so I grabbed some and went home to research recipes. We had bison meatballs yesterday for lunch, and it was the first time I’d ever eaten bison. Growing up I always felt weird about it, since Buffaloe is my maiden name. (One of those irrational things you come up with in your head as a child.) Anyway, bison meat is some good stuff! If you haven’t tried it, you should. Here’s a recipe to get you started. 

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Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 pound ground bison (all-natural, grass fed, hormone and antibiotic free)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 egg (all-natural, hormone and antibiotic free)
  • 2-3 Tbsp softened or melted organic butter (if not organic, make sure it’s hormone free) 

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Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix spices together. In a large bowl, add combined spices, egg and melted butter to your ground meat.
  3. Mix all ingredients with your hands like you’re playing with play dough. It’s messy, but it’s the easiest way to do it. 
  4. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop out meat and level off so that your meatballs will all be the same size. Form into balls and place evenly apart on a baking sheet. If you have any leftover meat in your bowl, you can add small amounts evenly to your already formed meatballs. 
  5. Cook for 15 minutes. 
  6. Once your meatballs come out of the oven, there will be grease and fat around them. (Gross, I know.) Cut that away and place your meatballs in a separate bowl or on a platter. 

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These meatballs were so good! Such a great flavor and really easy and quick to put together. We got eight meatballs from this amount of meat. I know eight may not sound like a lot, but they are pretty big and very filling, so it was a perfect amount for the two of us. (We had leftovers!) You could always double the recipe if you are serving more people. I served this over spaghetti squash, which is also a new thing for me since starting our transition to Paleo. I made it for the first time last week. Once I perfect my spaghetti squash making skills, I’ll have to blog about that, but not quite there yet. It’s good though, and really easy, too!   

 

 

I adapted this recipe from http://divinehealthfromtheinsideout.com/2012/02/lamb-meatballs/.