October 20, 2014

Weekend in the Mountains

We are so grateful to have such kind and generous friends here in NC that are always welcoming us into whatever they do.  This past weekend our friends headed up into the mountains of North Carolina, near Blowing Rock, and asked us to tag along. I've always loved being outdoors, getting fresh air and exercise, but never have been much of a mountain gal. However, after this weekend, I am sure that this is a place I can't wait to go back to. It was SO incredibly beautiful, peaceful and relaxing - even with 7 kids in all. 

We started the day with a beautiful hike around a lake that all the kids navigated perfectly. It was a bit rough and muddy, but everyone made it just fine. Afterwards we headed back to their cabin, located in 7 Devils, which was breathtaking. The view, the colors, the silence - it was magical. The kids and adults had lots of laughs, good food and drink. We are so lucky to have enjoyed such a great day.

October 16, 2014

Good Eats: Cauliflower Pizza Crust

 Recently my husband has been on a starch free diet for health reasons (thought to reduce inflammation in the type of condition he suffers from) and it has been tricky to say the least. Hard for him because he is a hungry guy with a big appetite and hard for me to know what to make. Starch is EVERYWHERE! If you think gluten free is tough, add in all starches and you are left scratching you head with what's left to eat. To be honest, meal time isn't the hardest, but snacking has proven painful for him. I make a batch of guac, what does he dip into it? I make hummus or cheese platters and what does he put it on? Carrots are a starch too, so that leaves them out. Almonds? Nope! They have starch in them too!

I do love a food challenge however and really enjoy learning more about what we are putting into our bodies. Recently I watched Food Inc on Netflix and let's just say my mind is BLOWN. I will not preach to you about how you should live or eat, but it is so important for us all to be aware and educated about where our food is coming from and how it is processed. I am telling you, if you haven't watched this documentary before, and it is certainly not new, it is a must see. It 100% reaffirmed for me how much it is financially worth spending a 20-30 extra dollars a week to get as many organic products as possible (I rely on Trader Joe's for 90% of our organic foods. It has the best prices by far! Usually it's less than $1 more to buy the organic option). None of us can be perfect, but we can try our best to nourish our bodies with food that is actually good for our bodies.

 I could go on forever about this topic, but back to the pizza.  Pizza is a weekly meal around here and obviously the hubby couldn't go with the traditional crust.  I had seen a few recipes for a cauliflower pizza crust, so I thought I'd give it a whirl and see how it tastes. I combined two recipes I found online and came up with this one.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

-1 12 ounce bag of cauliflower
-2 eggs, beaten lightly 
-2 cups of cheese (mozzarella or an Italian blend works too)
-2 teaspoons dried oregano
-1 large clove of garlic, minced
-1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Start by "ricing" your cauliflower. I used a bag, so it was already cut off the stem. If you have a head, you'll need to remove the stems and leaves. A 12 oz bag is about 2 cups of riced cauliflower for reference.  I used a blender, but a food processor would work better. If you use a blender, put in one piece at a time rather than the entire bag. This is the consistency you should have.

Cheese cloth would work best, but hey, work with what your mama gave you. I had paper towels, so I put the cauliflower, in batches, into a few paper towels and rang it out a few times. Cauliflower contains a lot of water, so you'll want to remove as much as you can to prevent the crust from being soggy. I'd like to experiment on this step a little more to find other methods of drying the cauliflower. 

Combine the cheese and cauliflower in a bowl.

Beat two eggs and add them to the mixture. 

Now the spices. 

Once you've mixed all the ingredients together, spray a sheet pan with cooking spray.  I have a pizza stone, but was making my kids a pizza on it at the time. Dump the mixture onto the pan and form it into a crust. Smoosh it down so it's not too thick and is consistent all the way around and bakes evenly. 

Put it in a 400 degree oven and bake for about 35 minutes. It should be firm and crispy on the outsides. 

Here I took it out of the oven, used a spatula to make sure it wasn't stuck to the pan, then let it cool for about 30 minutes. I thought this would help firm it up some more. Then once it was cool I added homemade sauce, I always use this recipe and keep extra in the freezer, buffalo mozzarella and pepperoni.

I stuck it back in the oven for about 10 minutes or so so the cheese would melt and it would heat through. Let it sit for another 10 minutes outside the oven and slice and serve!

I have to say, I was really impressed with the taste of the crust and it complimented the toppings nicely. The outside was quite crispy, and while the middle was not as firm, we could still slice it and eat it with our hands rather than a knife and fork. 

So, that's my little experiment with cauliflower crust and I would love to hear any of your tips or tricks if you've made one before! I also plan to start a gluten/starch free Pinterest page, so I'll let you know when I have that up and running!

October 15, 2014

Trend Spotting: High Top Fashion

Lately I've seen a lot of high top sneakers out there in the fashion world. Last year the sneaker/wedge type shoe was very popular (like style 1 below), but this Fall I see more of the traditional type high top.  I fondly remember my first pair of high tops, in I believe Kindergarten, which were white leather Reeboks with velcro.  I also remember having the same style in red as well.  

Nowadays however there is a huge array of styles, patterns and materials in the high top world. Everyone from Converse to Nike and Ferragamo are on the bandwagon.  No longer is is a style just for men or the basketball court - it is on runways and the style pages across the fashion world. Here are some top looks I pulled so you can get a feel of how the modern high top shoe is styled. Wether paired with leggings, leather pants or denim, they are really growing on me!

Here are a bevy of high tops for you to peruse! Click below for the links and prices. Love all of them and of course, the $695 pair of Giuseppe Zanotti ones (#6) are my favorite! DARN!

High Top Fashion