Cranberry Blueberry Mini Galettes {gluten-free}

by amandapaa on November 23, 2015

Cran-Blueberry Mini Galettes {gluten-free}I have big love for pastry magicians and pie queens. Even after lots of practice making gluten-free crusts and baked goods of different kinds, working with a sheet of dough is still intimidating. So mini galettes to the rescue this Thanksgiving… rustic and juicy, with a flaky crust that doesn’t have to be carefully configured. My way of saying thanks for a little less imperfection in my life, and a whole lot to be grateful for.

Cranberry Blueberry Mini Galettes {gluten-free}Sure, we should count our blessings every day as some would say, not just the holidays. But I appreciate their power in making us all pause a bit, to reflect on why we’re so fortunate to be right where we are. To spend extra time together, to love a little harder.

This year I’m saying extra prayers for my restored health, and ability to live a full life that I wasn’t sure I’d ever have again – grateful to have healed the small intestinal bacterial overgrowth so I can eat what I love and embrace all that food brings to my life, including the people and a career I wouldn’t trade for the world. [click to continue…]

15 comments   • • •   as featured in:   Sweets, Winter

Chai Porridge with Roasted Kabocha Squash

by amandapaa on November 19, 2015

Chai Porridge with Roasted Kabocha Squash (vegan)At any point this week, you could have found me surrounded by nearly 20 pounds of squash – peeling, chopping, and roasting in anticipation of the Squash-tastic Side Dishes for Thanksgiving class I was teaching. Standing in my kitchen, packing up tools and ingredients, the feelings I wore for many years playing competitive golf came over me again. Excitement with a few nerves, wondering if I had prepared enough, wondering if those who attended would be inspired…..

As I introduced myself to the fifteen eager students and began making the Golden Curried Acorn Squash Hummus, they seemed to welcome me with open eyes and ears. The anxious feelings left, and it began to feel like we were a team. Next I showed them how to peel & cut a large butternut, and shared tips on how to safely handle all squash to take a little of the intimidation factor away. I dispelled the correlation between pasta and spaghetti squash, as many times this can trick our brains and not meet expectations. Instead, I think of it as the only vegetable that can spiralize itself.

And I also mentioned the many uses for leftover squash puree, like this Chai Porridge with Roasted Kabocha Squash.

Chai Porridge with Roasted Kabocha Squash (vegan)The four courses came and went, their questions created conversation, and the sound of forks scraping the plate hinted at approval of the recipes. Seeing the smiles on their faces as they left, and the kind words of, “I’m a squash convert!” spoken, I was humbled once again.

As I cleaned up that night, wiping the orange stains from the cupboards, and even a bit that decided to take residence on my cheek, I thought about the uniqueness of each of our paths, that lead us to our passion. Of which in writing probably sounds quite cliche, yet isn’t.

Chai Porridge with Roasted Kabocha Squash (via @amandapaa)Never would I have thought that what we put on our plate and the connections with others it brings would fill my cup every day. Not the golf course, not the marketing degree, or even the pharmaceutical job I held for many years. Somedays I wonder if I’m doing enough to pay the bills, to buy the really expensive artisan cheese at the market, but I know I’d wonder the same thing regardless of job title.

For now it could be queen of dirty dishes and squash whisperer, and I’m quite alright with that.

Chai Porridge with Roasted Kabocha Squash

serves 2

Oatmeal, or porridge as you see here is a great way to use up leftover squash puree, like the kabocha I had roasted earlier in the week. Naturally sweeter than pumpkin and super creamy, it makes any breakfast bowl nearly taste like dessert, especially when combined with chai spices. To make that happen, I simmered a mix of gluten-free grains with almond milk and a chai tea bag, then sweetened it with maple syrup. 

About 2/3 cup leftover squash puree, or 1 small kabocha squash (buttercup or red kuri squash would also work), cut in half and seeds removed
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 cups almond milk
1/2 cup water
1 organic chai tea bag
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3 tablespoons organic coconut sugar
2/3 cup mixed grains like oats, millet, and quinoa – I used this mix from Purely Elizabeth
pure maple syrup for drizzling

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rub the inside of squash half with the coconut oil the flesh with the coconut oil. (Use the other half for another meal.) Roast for 40 minutes or until squash is completely tender and can be easily scooped out of its skin.

Meanwhile, bring almond milk, water, chai tea bag, cinnamon, nutmeg and coconut sugar to a boil. Press tea bag with back of spoon to coax flavors out, add grains, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 5 more minutes, remove tea bag after pressing on with back of spoon once more, then cook for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until it is the consistency you would like it.

When squash is finished roasting, scoop flesh out and add to food processor with three tablespoons of water, then puree until smooth. Add a few more tablespoons of water if you would like it to be a thinner consistency. Stir about 1/3 cup puree into each serving of oatmeal and drizzle with pure maple syrup to the sweetness you desire.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links, which I make a small commission on to pay for my giant grocery bill if you happen to purchase something. 

8 comments   • • •   as featured in:   Breakfast, Fall, Sweets, Winter

Natural Winter Skincare TipsWe all know it’s coming……. super dry air, harsh winds, and bone-chilling cold. Living in a northern state, our skin is certainly at a disadvantage. It seems every winter, my bare white legs can’t hold the moisture I give them, and the hot showers that feel so good only make it worse. My face seems to have trouble finding balance, and to no avail, I’m always fighting dry, flaky skin.

As part of my new column here on the blog, Well + Good, I’m excited to be sharing more natural skincare ideas with you, and DIY beauty “recipes” (here’s the easy Hand Repair Cream in case you missed it). And today it’s all about keeping your skin feeling invigorated, fresh and soft throughout the winter months, naturally.

As I’ve mentioned before, this year I took a long hard look at the products I was using on my body. I started from scratch with my medicine cabinet and makeup bag in seeking out natural ways to nourish my skin, I connected with Elena & Kim from Luminance Skincare. Just as the story behind food is important to me, I feel a similar pull towards many things, whether that be a scarf I’m wearing or in this case, what I’m putting on my skin. I was taken back by Kim’s (the founder) story, and embraced their philosophy of creating handmade, raw organic products without anything synthetic or toxic. From the hydrating moisturizer (my favorite!) to the sunscreen, skin butter and eye serum, they’re all made with high quality oils that have essential fatty acids, exactly what our skin needs.

With the change in skincare, my face has become soft, clear, and refreshed. Hence, the no make-up picture above.

Luminance Skincare (raw, vegan, organic)So today I’m talking with Kim to share his passionate thoughts on skincare, dispell common myths, and prepare with natural winter skincare tips. PLUS THERE’S A GIVEAWAY FOR THESE FOUR PRODUCTS, MY MUST-HAVES! 

  • What inspired you to start Luminance Skincare, and how does your passion continue to blossom?

After years of battling migraines, we discovered that my wife’s pain was being triggered by the synthetic, and largely toxic ingredients found in almost all commercially available products and many of the so called “hand crafted and natural” skincare products, especially the synthetic fragrances, used in making them. Even “unscented” products use toxic Masking Scent to cover all the nasty smells of the awful commercial ingredients (it’s why most unscented products smell the same regardless of what’s in them or who makes them). Regardless of claims and declarations of purity most products from companies large and small, many contain synthetic fragrances and preservatives to a wide range of petrochemical derivative oils, and animal part derived gums. It really is a mess.

An engineer by trade, I decided we were going to embark on a journey to create safe, clean, and nourishing products, that are perceived by the skin as nutrients, and do no harm to anyone or anything. I took to the extreme and put on my engineering hat, studying skincare used in ancient times, throwing out conventional wisdom, and getting back to basics. Everything is organic, vegan and raw. Without anything synthetic. Toxic. Or harmful in any way, all handmade by me.

kim luminance

  • What does our skin crave most?

Water! And good nutrition. And fatty acids, which is why you’ll notice that all of our products are made with nourishing oils like Tamarind, Kukui, Argan, Avocado, Apricot Kernel, Tamanu and Borage.

The geek in me is fascinated by the fact that our skin is a self replicating, a dynamic protective membrane from what it senses from our outside world, and what we’re putting into it. It recreates to protect us.

  • What innocent mistakes do you typically see when people are trying to treat their skin naturally?

When most people decide to dabble in natural skincare, they typically turn to coconut oil based products. Our bodies love to digest the good fats and nutrition benefits of coconut, but only via eating it. Topically used, coconut oil coagulates and actually clogs pores, sitting on top of the skin and never getting deep enough to moisturize.

Luminance Rosewater: important step to correcting dry facial skin, oily facial skin or skin that vacillates between the two

  • And finally what are your top winter skincare tips, besides moving to California like you ;)?

1. In really dry climates, it’s especially important to prep your skin beforehand by balancing the PH. This allows it to absorb the nutrients you’re feeding it, and provide a steady base. This can easily and quickly be done with a few sprays of rosewater, which also feels fresh and invigorating.

2. Cleansing is a must, but gently. You don’t want to strip away the natural oils. Our delicate cleanser is a very pure handmade liquid soap with it’s pH naturally adjusted with carefully selected organic ingredients to compliment and nourish your skin.

Funny thing about soap. There’s no better way to cleanse your facial skin than a properly made and properly pH balanced soap. When people say “Don’t put soap on your face” it’s because they don’t really understand skin. What they should be saying is don’t use anything on your skin that challenges the natural pH balance of your skin.

Luminance Skin Butter: Profound in its simplicity; Argan, Kukui and Avocado oils whipped over a couple of days into a silky, delicate mouse.3. Moisturizing is critical to keep your skin balanced, feeding it with the nutrients in needs to replicate. Our deep hyrdation lotion is rich with Tamarind Seed and Tamanu Oils; together acting very much like collagen to help your skin retain moisture and regain elasticity. It all starts with a base of Organic Lavender Water; a very calming antioxidant, and is blended with the oils of Argan, Kukui Nut, Borage, Sunflower and Meadow Foam.

Perhaps what’s best is the quick complete penetration leaving your skin silky and smooth. Never greasy, allowing make up application in a minute or two. And when the cold, dry air just gets to be too much, our skin butter will be your best friend. Or if you struggle with eczema, psoriasis or dermatitis. While it won’t cure the condition, it will help with the itching and the scaliness. Also, swimmers, desert or high mountain dwellers swear by it.

luminance skincare

Talk about learning a lot from an expert. You can certainly hear, and feel his passion.

It was such a pleasure to interview Kim, and together we’d like to give one of you this set: the Rosewater Toner, Delicate Cleanser, Deep Hydration Lotion, and Skin Butter – for ultimate winter skincare love. Enter the easy giveaway below, open to US residents only. Plus, use code “heartbeet” for 15% off all products in their shop!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

41 comments   • • •   as featured in:   Well + Good

Smoked Salmon & Horseradish Crema Potato Chip BitesIt’s been years since I’ve been sidelined from a bad cold, but a little bug turned into a giant wollop this week. I’m having to miss a special dinner with girlfriends tonight, one last feast with our favorite chef who is on his way out. Grab me a kleenex for those tears, along with another for the runny nose….

I’ve temporarily lost my sense of smell and taste because of these nasties, such a good reminder of how important each of the five are every moment of the day. They help up experience, understand, delight, and survive in this world.

Smoked Salmon Potato Chip Bites 2When I asked myself which sense I’d miss the most, it came down to sight and smell, it was smell. There is nothing else so attached with memories, emotions, and instincts. And when smell is gone, so is taste.

I can’t even imagine living in a world like that.

Smoked Salmon & Horseradish Ricotta Potato Chip Bites (5 minute appetizer)The scent of certain foods can transport me to an exact time and place, and every time it happens, I pinch myself after the deja-vu feeling…

{5 minute} Smoked Salmon & Horseradish Ricotta Potato Chip Bites The smell of yeast and flour as i walk through a bakery bring me right back to grandma’s kitchen, watching her pull a loaf of homemade, fluffy white bread from the oven.

{5 minute} Smoked Salmon & Horseradish Ricotta Potato Chip Bites - recipeThe forward smell of fermented cabbage reminds has me sitting at my other grandma’s table for a sunday supper of roasted pork, sauerkraut, and dumplings.

{5 minute} Smoked Salmon & Horseradish Ricotta Potato Chip Bites - recipePerfectly popped popcorn, the sweet cream butter she drizzled it in, that was Mom & I’s bedtime snack.

Hoppy malted milk powder and the not so chocolate smelling Hershey’s syrup, and all of a sudden there I am standing on the step stool helping dad make the thickest malts.

Smoky, cured salmon – well, I’ll forever think of the conversation I had with the fishermen and fisherwomen of Cordova, Alaska while we shared a salmon feast. The wild salmon I used here is what I brought back from my trip, via Copper River Seafoods, run by Juraj and his sweet wife, Adrianna.

Hence the inspiration for this quick and easy appetizer, perfect timing for the holidays which are right around the corner (already?!).

Smoked Salmon & Horseradish Ricotta Potato Chip Bites (5 minute appetizer)My partner in crime, Jackson’s Honest Chips, has a new flavor too, Black Pepper & Sea Salt, which totally amps up the “how did you make these?” factor. You might want to  be prepared to answer that when you bring these to a party.

The horseradish, although not dominant, adds a little extra zip to creamy ricotta, just the right contrast to the crunchy chips. And the chives add a pop of color, along with a little garlic flavor. Instead of the old baked brie and jam play, I say go for these 4 ingredient, colorful beauties.

Smoked Salmon & Horseradish Ricotta Potato Chip Bites via @amandapaaAfter all, who knew a potato chip could be so fancy looking?

Many thanks to Jackson’s Honest for sponsoring this post, a company I regularly use in my kitchen and am so happy to partner with. And thank you for understanding that I carefully choose the brands I work with that help make this site possible. All opinions are 100% my own.

Easy Smoked Salmon & Horseradish Ricotta Potato Chip Bites (gluten-free)

inspired by Martha

serves 12

1/2 cup ricotta cheese (full fat)
2-3 teaspoons prepared horseradish (more if you like it a lot of horseradish)
5 ounces smoked wild salmon
1 bag of Jackson’s Honest Sea Salt & Black Pepper Potato Chips
finely chopped chives
extra black pepper for garnish

Mix ricotta and horseradish together. Place one thinly sliced piece of salmon, about 2 inches, (slightly rolled if possible) onto chip. Then top with a teaspoon of ricotta mixture and a few chives. Enjoy immediately.


15 comments   • • •   as featured in:   Appetizer, Recipe Box

Travel Scenes: Glamping at Camp Wandawega

by amandapaa on November 4, 2015

 Glamping at Camp Wandawega via @amandapaa

Camp Wandawega ~ Elkhorn, WisconsinTwo years ago I stumbled upon Crista’s blog: Peace, Love, Quinoa, then proceeded to chat with her via Twitter about the Minnesota charm she missed, where she lived before moving to Chicago and Denver. She was a hair stylist, I was a marketer, yet we both loved cooking, plants, and fun adventures. When she mentioned she’d be visiting Minneapolis that summer, we met for drinks and dinner, and talked like we’d known each other since high school.

Little did I know that was the beginning of one of my most cherished friendships, and that it would also gain me another amazing friend, Laura.

Nor did I know that the three of us would embark on a roadtrip to southern Wisconsin (fueled by stopping at cheese shops along the way), and spend the weekend “glamping” at Camp Wandawega.

Apple Barn & Winery: Lake Geneva, WisconsinCamp Wandawega mainWe started planning this glorified camping trip about 4 months ago, as we stalked Camp Wandawega’s Instagram account, their Kinfolk collaboration, and several other features like this one on Apartment Therapy. This modern-vintage retreat (which began as a speakeasy in the 1920’s) looked and sounded like the best of times, so we jumped on the chance to secure the tiny cabin shown above. (Their main focus is private events, so opportunities to stay as individual guests are only put “up for grabs” on AirB&B as they become available.) [click to continue…]

17 comments   • • •   as featured in:   Fall, Travel