Getting Our Yard Ready for Winter

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We had our first frost in Dallas a few days ago, and since it was right on average for a target date, I guess I have no reason to be surprised.  But it still was kind of jarring to wake up to such a cold morning! It didn’t get above 45 degrees this weekend. The first thing I did was to move my herb garden indoors to keep them from getting frost bite.

Luckily we already had a few projects in the works, and with a few days off for Thanksgiving, we started getting our yard ready for winter. I built hoop “green” houses for a few of my garden beds, using greenhouse plastic. I left a few of them open, because these are the ones I will be fertilizing first for spring planting. Crop rotation is a wonderful thing, if you have the space!

garden beds winterized

 

We already have a few winter veggies in the ground. These guys probably don’t even need the greenhouse plastic– they love the frost and cold, but we’ll see.IMG_8534

Shockingly, a few of my tomato and squash plants are still alive! A few leaves here and there have some frostbite from the other night, but they are still producing dozens of tomatoes, so maybe we can keep them alive a little longer 😉

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We also harvested quite a few squash!

Squash harvest

 

Here is the last of the winter crop to go in the ground. We’ve been growing these seedlings for weeks– it’s nice to finally be able to plant them!WInter garden seedlings

 

One of our final winterizing projects was to re-roof the chicken coop with tar paper underneath the corrugated roofing. With all the rain we get, we figured this would be a good investment. Roofing contractors Palm Beach county proved to be a very reliable roofing company. Now, we just have to repaint the whole thing to match our house!

Jesse chicken coop

 

As you can see, Gregory is very bonded to his “chickies”. He even has little nicknames for them in addition to their actual names. Sometimes he’ll say, “Oh, there goes my naughty one!”Gregory with chicken in mud kitchen

 

Gregory hugging the chicken

What projects have you done to get your yard ready for winter?

GAPS Recipes That We are LOVING

5 Favorite GAPS Diet Recipes

When I first started on the GAPS (gut-healing) diet a few weeks ago, I was extremely skeptical as to how things would taste and how on earth I was supposed to find anything that actually made me feel full. After all, we are also abstaining from meat.  In addition, dairy, grains, nuts AND beans are all forbidden on the GAPS diet. What’s left, you might ask??

Coming from someone who eats vegan 40% of the year due to all the Orthodox fast days, along with having avoided gluten, chocolate and potato like the plague for almost 2 years, the fact that the GAPS diet is intimidating for me means that it probably is for a lot of other people too. I’m already used to thinking outside the box and getting creative, but this was a whole new ball game for me, folks.

Over the past few weeks, I have scoured Pinterest, and here are the best 5 recipes that I’ve come across so far. These 5 are tried and true, meaning that not only did me and my husband enjoy them, but our picky 4 and under crowd did as well! Not only that, but they were all very filling.

Here they are, ending with the BEST one (you’ve gotta try it).

#5 Roasted Garlic and Sweet Potato Soup:

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Even the name sounds amazing, right? It is SO good.

#4 15 minute Miso Soup

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Gotta hand it to the Japanese, Miso soup is super yummy and soothing. We actually got a bunch of instant packets from Natural Grocers (our version of Whole Foods over here) for me to make a snack whenever I feel hungry.

#3 Sundried Tomato Alfredo “Pasta”

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You can do almost anything with a spaghetti squash in hand. We did a variation on this the other night, and if you’re wary of eating cashews (again, I have to stay away from nuts for right now), Daiya cheese is a good alternative.  Doesn’t this look amazing?? Who knew that under 10g of carbs could look so good, right?

#2 Avocado Soup

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This soup was so creamy and awesome. You can sub out the chicken broth for veggie broth, as always.

 

And the winner……(drumroll)…..

 

#1 Chicken and Cauliflower Fried Rice:

chicken cauliflower stir fry

I was skeptical that a bunch of cauliflower chopped up in the food processor could taste like rice, but it DOES! And it’s sooooo yummy. Salt is actually a good thing on the GAPS diet because it helps keep your electrolytes up, but they also sell low-sodium Tamari sauce if you want. By buying pre-cooked “Quorn” chicken to keep this vegan, and also microwaving our peas and carrots in a steamer bag, this recipe took around 15 minutes to make. So yummy, and so cheap!

Let me know if you try any of these recipes!

Vegan Gluten-Free Spinach Artichoke Pasta Recipe

Vegan Spinach Artichoke Pasta Recipe

I actually had a different post scheduled for today, but when I posted this picture of our Vegan Gluten-Free Spinach Artichoke Pasta Recipe on Facebook, I got a bunch of requests for the recipe. I basically threw this together with a few tricks, so here it goes! It’s not the cheapest dinner I’ve ever done– costs about $14 to make (which comes to $7 a meal for us, since it provides 8 servings), but IT IS SO YUMMY. I do not exaggerate when I say that if you served this to someone who didn’t watch you make it, they would have a hard time believing it wasn’t chock full of cream cheese. It’s SOO creamy and delicious and just all around wonderful!

Sadly, no matter how hard you try, you won’t have this jolly cook to share it with. I pity you, He’s a real treat 🙂

Gregory cooking

Vegan Gluten Free Spinach Artichoke Pasta Recipe

Serves 6-8, 20 minutes of prep and cooking time

Ingredients

1 large bag of gluten-free pasta (I used corn, but get quinoa to make it healthier if you want)

1 large bag of pre-washed spinach

8 tbsp. vegan butter (earth balance, or your choice)

4 cloves of garlic

1 1/2 cups of almond milk

1 cup of gluten-free flour

2 cups of veggie broth

2 normal sized cans of artichoke hearts (I got the organic ones from TJ’s)

1 bag of Daiya mozzarella (or the soy-free dairy-free mozzarella at TJ’s, it’s cheaper)

1 tsp. ground cayenne pepper

salt and pepper

crush red pepper flakes

gluten-free panko bread crumbs

 

Directions

Step 1: Start the pasta boiling in a large pot of water.

Step 2: Melt 2 tbsp. of the butter in your largest skillet. Mince the garlic and add it in. Stir it constantly to keep it from burning.

Step 3: Add ALL of your spinach and stir it around. Watch it wilt and shrivel dramatically. After 2 minutes of pushing it around in the butter/garlic, set it aside on a plate.

Step 4: Add 2 more tbsp. of the butter into the pan (yes, the same one), and stir in the artichoke hearts (you can cut them up into smaller pieces if you want). After 5-6 minutes, set it aside on a plate.

Step 5: Add the last 4 tbsp. of the butter (yes, the same one), let it melt, then add in the almond milk. Add half of the flour slowly, stirring it into a thick paste.  Add half of the veggie broth, using a whisk to stir it. Then dump the rest of the flour and veggie broth.

Step 6: Add salt and pepper. Dump the entire bag of mozzarella cheese in. Add the cayenne pepper.

Step 7: Drain the pasta and add to the “cheese” mixture. Add the artichoke hearts, stir for 3 minutes. Last, fold in the spinach.

Step 8: Season with red pepper flakes and panko crumbs!

Enjoy! Bon Appetit!


My 5 Favorite Restaurants

Recently I was asked to blog about my 5 Favorite Restaurants from anywhere in the world. I have been quite a few places in the world, but when I was traveling overseas I was a poor student on a budget, and I ate “street food”, mostly (which is how I ended up with camphylobactor once– darn the gypsies and their chicken!). Since becoming an adult in my 20s, however, I’ve grown up a bit in my tastes. I have found 5 wonderful restaurants along the way, and should you ever happen to visit these parts, you should also eat here!

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#1 Thomas Hill Organics— Paso Robles, CA $30-40/person

I’ve never been to a more unique and wonderful restaurant. Their menu changes once or twice a month because everything they buy is grown locally and organically. Their wine selection is absolutely incredible (hello Wine Country!), and everything is absolutely delish. This was Jesse’s and my go-to fancy date night restaurant back when we lived on the Central Coast. Expect extravagant soups and meats, paired with unique vegetables and fruits.

And, I forgot to mention, the ambiance is INCREDIBLE, complete with loungers and couches instead of chairs, exposed brick walls, and hanging string lights in the garden/terrace area.

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#2 Storyville Coffee— Seattle $5-15/personStoryville coffeeThis is the coffee shop that all Seattle-ites want you to know about. Amazing coffee, downtown views, open loft seating area with an indoor fireplace…what’s not to love? And their desserts and baked goods are flat out incredible. They even have a gluten-free section! Look for this little shop right near Pike Place Market, near the wharf.

3. Astoria Caffe and Wine Bar— Addison, TX $10-30/person

Are you sensing a coffee and wine theme on this blog yet? This is a little place in downtown Addison circle, a hipster/young adult populated neck of the woods in North Dallas. They sell amazing coffee/liquer combos, along with amazing desserts and entrees, in a hip and sultry environment. If you’re looking for a place to meet people or go on a date in North Dallas, Astoria is your place! Jesse and I went here for our 8th Anniversary and loved what an incredible find it was!

4. Uncle Yu’s At the Vineyard, Downtown Livermore, CA $30-50/person

Jesse and I had a rehearsal dinner for a wedding I was in this last Spring. Situated up in Wine Country near Napa Valley, downtown Livermore is already the place to be. Add in this Chinese restaurant with a special gluten-free menu (the chef actually PRIDES himself in making world-class gluten-free food!!), and you have magic. I have never eaten tastier Chinese food, and the wine pairings put a CA spin (literally) on things! I cried tears of joy when I tasted the gluten-free orange-seared shrimp– it was, to date, the best gluten-free food I’ve ever eaten, and made me feel like I could, at long last, enjoy tasty delicacies for dinner.

Jesse and Kelly on dance floor

 

#5 Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House— Bath, England

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Okay, totally a brag-worthy moment right now. On one of my two trips to Europe, a few people from my group got a special reservation at this place, one of the oldest houses in all of Bath, England (which is saying something, since the Romans founded it!). We had a 4 course “tea”, and it was absolutely delicious, enough so that I still remember it to this day, 9 years later! If you are touring England, you will probably make it to Bath (or, at least, you SHOULD!), and this little restaurant is very close to the Jane Austen center. You know, if you’re into stuff like that 😉 Make sure to get reservations, as it’s VERY popular!

 

Thank you for reading about my 5 Favorite Restaurants! Stay tuned for a list of restaurants that I am DYING to try, but haven’t yet!