Tips and tricks

Paleo Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer

I’m super excited about fall flavors. The pumpkin,  cinnamon, apples, spices- they are everywhere and I love them all. The temptations to dive into sugary, gluten filled treats is everywhere. So, to tame my cravings for everything pumpkin flavored, I made this Paleo Pumpkin Spice Coffee creamer. It uses hazelnut milk as a base, but you can really use any acceptable nut milk. I made my own & the process is super easy. Here’s a link if you want to try it out. Also, until recently I never used a real vanilla bean for anything. This tutorial from Chow helped me to figure out how to scrape a vanilla bean.  This is the method I used to make the coffee creamer.

3 dates, pitted, soaked for a few minutes then drained
1/3 cup pumpkin purée
1 vanilla bean scraped
1.5 cups hazelnut milk or milk of choice (I bet coconut milk would be good too)
1/2 tsp of pumpkin pie spice – I used one from Trader Joes

Blend all the ingredients in a blender until well combined. Store in the fridge for 2-3 days. Mix well before adding to coffee.

Paleo Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer

Although I say that this is a coffee creamer, this recipe is adaptable into other goodies. Some suggestions are to make a Pumpkin Spice smoothie. Blend a banana and a few ice cubes in a blender with the creamer as the base then sprinkle it with some cinnamon. Or how about making a chia seed pudding? I made one by simply mixing a couple of tablespoons of chia seeds into the creamer and letting the seeds do their thickening magic for about 20 minutes before topping with whipped coconut cream and some cinnamon.

Pumpkin Spice Chia Seed Pudding

Homemade Coffee Body Scrub

I’ve been making my own bath products for a while now. My husband and I actually make soap and body products to sell locally. I’m also someone who likes being as frugal as possible. When I make coffee I save the grounds and dry them out to add to soap and body scrubs. I also throw a lot of the grounds in our compost pile too. Since it is getting hot here in Virginia I’ve been making a lot of cold brew coffee concentrate but it’s leaving me with a lot of left over grounds. So I make a few large batches of scrub and keep some for us and give the rest away as gifts. It’s super simple and easy to do.

Coffee Body Scrub


Here is what I need:
1 cup used, dried coffee grounds- I spread the used grounds on a baking sheet and leave it out on the counter overnight to dry
1/2 cup course dead sea salt
1/4 cup coconut oil- melted
10 drops essential oil- optional I use some sweet orange or cinnamon most often

Just mix all ingredients together and store in airtight jars.

I keep mine for about 1 week in the sealed jars. In warmer weather I keep it in the fridge. Just as a note- I scrub down in the tub then try to collect any large, stray clumps of scrub and toss it in the trash before I turn on the water to rinse off. Also, make sure to wipe out the tub afterwards as the coconut oil can make the tub slippery.



Making Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate

Now that the weather is heating up I really only want to have cold drinks. For me, a great cup of iced coffee with some coconut cream really hits the spot each morning. I usually only do one smaller cup per day so I make only enough cold brew coffee concentrate to last 3 days at a time then I remake it every few days.  If you are used to drinking more than one cup per day or you have multiple people drinking it then you could easily double or triple this recipe.

Cold brew coffee

Here is what you will need:
1 cup of ground coffee of choice
3 cups room temperature water
A large pitcher, french press, mason jar, or bottle with lid (size will depend of if it is a single, double, or triple batch)
a fine mesh strainer

1. Place coffee grounds in the bottom of jar or pitcher

2. Add the water and wet the grounds thoroughly and use a spoon to mix well, making sure that all the grounds are adequately wet.

3. Place the lid on the jar and let sit at room temperature for 12-15 hours.

4. Using the mesh strainer, strain out the coffee grounds, reserving the liquid.

5. Place coffee concentrate in the fridge until ready to drink.

Cold Brew Concentrate before straining


The concentrate will last covered in the fridge for approximately 5 days.To make each cup, add one part of coffee concentrate to one part coconut cream, coconut milk, or water and serve over ice. Sometimes I add a Tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder with the coffee grounds before adding the water so I get a mocha flavored coffee. Each morning, I simply shake my coffee with equal parts coconut cream in a jar and add some ice and a dash of cinnamon. Shaking it in the jar leaves you with a frothy, caffeinated beverage. Here is what my morning glass usually looks like.

Cold Brew shaken with coconut cream with cinnamon

Grilled Artichokes

Grilled Artichokes with Roasted Garlic and Bacon Aioli



I absolutely love artichokes. In the past I’ve simply steamed the artichokes whole and then removed the undesired parts as I ate it. Since we are coming up on summer I wanted to play around with grilling artichokes.I didn’t want to grill them whole because I’m sure it would take forever.  I found this great video from Gourmet Magazine on how to trim artichokes.

Here is what you will need:
1/2 to 1 artichoke per person.
1 recipe of Roasted Garlic and Bacon Aioli
To make it vegetarian serve it with Roasted Garlic Aioli instead


1. Simply trim the artichokes as shown on the video (linked above) then cut them in half.

2. Steam the artichokes for 10-15 minutes. Remove from pan and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process then pat them dry.

3. Drizzle the artichokes with olive oil, salt, & pepper.

4. Grill the artichokes on heated grill for 3-5 minutes each side to char slightly.

5. Serve them with aioli.


Roasting Garlic

Roasting garlic is simple and easy. I love roasting garlic because it makes it soft, creamy and it brings out the sweetness of the garlic. Once roasted it can be added to sauces, condiments, or it can be used as a spread all on its own. Some people will roast an entire bulb of garlic at a time but I find I never need that much so I only roast the number of cloves I need at a time. If you do roast the entire bulb then you can slice off the top 1/4 inch off the tops so the cloves are exposed then adjust the roasting time to a bit longer- about 50-60 minutes. Recently I made some delicious Roasted Garlic Aioli and Roasted Garlic and Bacon Aioli with some of these roasted cloves.

Garlic ClovesFoil PacketRoasted Garlic Cloves

Follow these simple steps to making some great roasted garlic:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Place desired number of cloves of garlic (peels still on) onto a sheet of foil and drizzle them with a little olive oil and a small sprinkle of kosher salt and a grind or two of black pepper.

3. Fold the foil into a packet and place in the preheated oven.

4. Roast the garlic in the oven for approximately 35 minutes or until the garlic is soft and slightly browned.

5. Let the garlic cool for a little while before popping the cloves from the peels. Then you can smash or chop as desired to add to the recipe of choice.

Quick Marinated Red Onions

Marinated onions are awesome. The recipe is simple no matter the style you want- thinly sliced onions and marinated them in a mixture of vinegar and seasonings with just a touch of sweetness. I made some delicious marinated yellow onions to top my Vietnamese Shaking Beef Salad. I plan on playing around with the recipe a bit to make different styles. I usually use marinated onions on salads but they would be equally great on sandwiches or on a appetizer tray- think olives, pickles, meats, veggies and maybe some dips.


Quick Marinated Red Onion

Quick Marinated Red Onions

Date paste of 1 date
½ cup white wine vinegar
¼ cup water
1 red onion thinly sliced into rings
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Soak the date in a little hot water to soften. Once softened, drain the excess water. Blend with a stick blender or in blender to get a smooth paste.

As a note: I usually blend a batch of dates, usually 8-10 per time and store the finished paste in an airtight container in my refrigerator. When I have a recipe that needs date paste I usually measure about a Tablespoon per date needed in the recipe. Of course you can adjust the sweetness of any recipe by either adding more or leaving a little out.

  1. Combine the date paste, vinegar, water, salt, & pepper. Mix well to incorporate the dates into the liquid.
  2. Add the onions and make sure to coat well with the vinegar.

Place into the refrigerator and let marinate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

Here they are on a Mediterranean Grilled Chicken Salad.

Mediterranean Grilled Chicken Salad

As you can see if you compare the color of the onions shown on the salad versus the picture of the onions by themselves- the longer the onions marinate the more the color changes from purplish on the outside and white on the inside to a uniform pink color. The picture with just the onions had been marinating about 2-3 days before I took the picture. The onions on the salad were only marinating about 45 minutes before I took the picture. They taste great either way.

Everyday Seasoning Mix

My husband and I love making pre-made seasonings. It is nice to go into the cabinet and pick out one shaker and not have to go searching for much else. We made this blend of seasonings as a basic spice blend. We use it on just about everything like chicken, potatoes, and veggies. So in our house we started calling it “everyday seasoning” for just that reason. I like this seasoning because it is basic enough for a variety of dishes but it gives a slightly smoky, almost barbecue flavor.

Just as a note, we usually buy our spices from the bulk section in our grocery store- mostly we go to Whole Foods for this. We find the spices are fresher and are less expensive than buying an entire bottle in the spice section.


Everyday seasoning mix


Everyday seasoning

1 Tablespoon Garlic powder
1 Tablespoon onion powder
1 Tablespoon parsley flakes
1 Tablespoon smoked Paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon Dried mustard powder
1 teaspoon celery salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Pepper to taste

Mix all the seasonings together and place in an airtight jar. Then sprinkle it on everything!

Peeling Lots of Garlic Quickly & Easily

I cook with a fair amount of garlic. Sometimes I find that the peels are difficult to get off of very small or very large cloves. I came up with this quick way to take the peels off of the garlic with minimal work.

All you need to do is put individual cloves into a mason jar with a lid and shake well for a little while. That’s it. Perfectly peeled garlic cloves. If the cloves are small or have particularly tough skins, you may need to shake it a bit move vigorously.




Perfectly Boiled Eggs


There are tons of methods out there for making boiled eggs- they are mostly addressing the problem people have with the eggs not peeling well. Some say you need older eggs, some say you need to add the eggs to cold water than bring it all to a boil, some methods are steamed, or even baked. I’ve been making eggs this way for a while now and haven’t had any trouble with peeling them. I’ve used old eggs and new eggs and I have done it with brown eggs too. You know where this is leading- I’m going to tell you how I make my eggs easily peel-able and cooked to perfection. I also experimented a little with the length of time cooked to get the type of egg you want. Just as a note if you use brown eggs some of the color from the shell may peel off. It must have something to do with the vinegar in the water but I haven’t found a definitive answer on why this happens.

So here is what you need:

Small sauce pan with lid
2-3 Tablespoons of white vinegar
A spoon
Bowl of ice water

Put the pan of water on the stove and bring to a boil. Add the vinegar. Once the water is at a rolling boil lower the eggs into the pot with the spoon. Cover the pot with the lid then turn the burner off.


For soft boiled eggs with a nice runny yolk, cook for 4 minutes.

For a medium, more set slightly runny yolk, cook for 7 minutes.


For a boiled egg with a creamy yolk, cook 10 minutes.


For a firmly cooked yolk, cook for 13 minutes.


Once you’ve reached the time to get the type of egg you want, transfer eggs into the bowl of ice water. Once cooled, peel and enjoy as desired.