Friday, June 29, 2012

Sabbath Adventures: Girls' Weekend

Two weekends ago I got away with my two besties to celebrate Kelly's 35th birthday. It had been a looong time (over four years) since we all got away, overnight, together. That's a whole other post in itself. Suffice it to say, we had a great time. 

We hung out in beautiful Napa Valley for two days and a night. We did some wine tasting. We ate some cheese. We lounged by the pool. We read. We laughed. We brunched. We toasted.

Instagrams by Suz:

We might have gone a little overboard on the cheese:

laughter at golden hour (and yes, I am wearing clothes):

my sweet, lovely, gifted, beautiful, wise, wonderful friends:

too bad we didn't have any room for dessert after the to-die-for brunch:

All three of us (in the strange yellow light cast by the restaurant's awning)!

I know that church planting can be a lonely place for many pastors and their wives. My life is SO FULL and these two ladies are a big part of that. Beyond grateful to my Heavenly Father who has given me two lifelong friends. Even though we all lead our own missional communities now, our relationships are as strong as ever. Can't imagine being on this journey without Suz and Kelly. Love you girls!

Hooray for Girls' Weekend!!!! 

(when can we go again?)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Mussels: Delighting the Senses

It was one of those defining moments of motherhood, an image of my children that will stay with me through the years: my kids, olive oil dripping from their chins and elbows, faces greasy and smiling, a platter of discarded mussel shells the only remains of what was dinner. I watched, mouth agape, as they used empty mussel shells to slurp up the remaining broth as though they were weary travelers at a desert oasis. 

I was not alone in my amusement that day; the owner of the restaurant laughed and in her native Italian (translated by our waiter) reminisced about the joy of discovering a new taste for the first time. She was pleased to see the restaurant's youngest patrons excitedly and loudly devour a serving of mussels faster than a football team after a Summer scrimmage.

I am a foodie, and I make no apologies for it. I love a good plate of food. I love a good photograph of food. I spend hours perusing recipes, planning meals, gazing at photographs and shopping for produce. It excites me, engages me and eats up my time like no other hobby. So the fact that I have two mini-foodies for kids should come at no surprise.

Yet they do surprise me. Their delight in trying new foods, the way they dive right in to complicated dishes and close their eyes to discern flavors, it simultaneously amazes me and strikes a familiar chord. We often joke that my five year-old daughter Maddie will either be a successful lobbyist (though I think that's mostly personality) or a chef, for her uncanny ability to identify specific tastes, herbs, and spices within a single dish.

That day in the restaurant left more than stains on their sleeves; it left such an impression on my heart I knew that I had to write about their experience, to preserve it outside of my memory. As oil coated their faces and hair, giving them the appearance of sunbathers smothered in Coppertone and lemon juice, the camera of my memory snapped away, capturing moment after moment of pure joy.

I've learned that every meal shared around our table is a chance to create lasting memories. There is something magical about a family gathered together each night, enjoying not only each other's company but good food as well. Our little table regularly expands to welcome friends, travelers, and visitors to dinner. We host large dinners, cooking most of the afternoon, popping open bottles of wine, lingering outside with the last light before the sun disappears behind Las Trampas. Everyone becomes family at the table. A shared meal binds us together and creates intimacy in a way that nothing else can.

We developed our own spin on the mussel dish a few weekends ago. Plans fell through with our friends who we invited to our table, leaving our family of four no choice but to finish off five pounds of steamed mussels. I can only hope that our local fishermen have mussels to offer this Saturday at the Farmer's Market, so you too can enjoy the delight that accompanies this plate of mussels, sitting in a tangy, bright broth bursting with fennel and citrus. Go, make memories.

Mussels in a White Wine Broth
serves 6 as an appetizer (or 2 adults and 2 children as dinner!)
adapted from Epicurious

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup onion, thinly sliced
4 large garlic cloves, chopped fine
3 teaspoons fennel seeds
dried crushed red pepper to taste (1/2 teaspoon if you aren't big on spice; we used 1 1/2 teaspoons)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon honey
1 cup white wine
half a lemon, sliced thin
2 1/2 pounds fresh mussels, scrubbed and debearded
freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup tomatoes, chopped

Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper and salt and cook until onion begins to brown, about 4-5 minutes. Pour honey over and allow to carmelize the onions and spices just slightly, about 1-2 minute more.

Add wine and lemon slices to pan, stir well, and bring to a boil. Add mussels. Cover pot with lid and allow to cook 5-6 minutes or until most of the shells have opened. Remove mussels from broth with a slotted spoon and place in a large, shallow bowl.

Cook broth for about 3-5 minutes more, or until reduced to 1 cup. Season to taste with pepper and stir in tomatoes. Serve with crusty bread for dipping.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Grain-Free Goodness: Cacao Roasted Almonds

Nuts! They are an essential part of the grain-free lifestyle. Nut flours, nuts for snacking, nuts as a substitute for oats in granola--so many helpful uses for nuts! Today I bring you a delightful treat. Behold, the ridged and crunchy treat known as the almond:

 Like the grains of a tree or lines in a fingerprint, no two almonds are the same. It's hard not to be tantalized by the sweet, nutty flavor of marzipan or the richness of an orgeat steamer. Yet regardless of the name or method of delivery, the complex flavors of the almond are worth our admiration.

The inspiration for these sinfully tasty almonds came from Joy Wilson's cookbook. I've sneaked them into the movies in order to avoid overpriced, sugary treats and I've doused them in almond milk as a granola alternative. Chocolatey, crunchy, and hard to resist, they won't last a week in my house.

Cacao Roasted Almonds
makes about 4 cups
adapted from Joy the Baker

3 C. raw almonds
6 TBS. unsalted butter
2 large egg whites
1 tsp. salt
3/4 C. honehy
1/4 C. cacao nibs, ground fine
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 350F.

Roast almonds on a baking sheet for 15 minutes in oven. Remove to a separate bowl and allow to cool.

Place butter in baking sheet and melt in oven.

In bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites and 1/2 tsp of salt, on medium speed, until frothy. Gradually add in honey. Increase mixer speed to medium-high and beat until white, glossy, and whites hold almost stiff peaks.

With rubber spatula, fold into egg whites remaining 1/2 tsp. salt, cacao nib powder, and cayenne pepper.

Pour egg mixture over toasted almonds and toss well. Spoon mixture over melted butter in pan and bake for 20-25 minutes. Stir every 8-10 minutes.

Allow almonds to cool completely. Can keep in an airtight container for up to one week.

**One morning for breakfast, I had the awesome thought of these treats as granola. Simply take desired amount of nuts and pulse in food processor until they resemble the size of oats. Pour in your favorite dairy or non-dairy beverage and enjoy chocolate almond granola! Add pitted cherries or sliced strawberries for a real treat.

Friday, June 22, 2012

good eats/good reads

It's time for another roundup of happy things 'round the internet! Looking forward to a great weekend ahead: dinner with friends, baptism & celebration service with our church, encouraging a young couple about to get married, & meeting up with my wonderful parents in Napa for a night. For your weekend reading pleasure:

good eats

I finally got around to making Urban Poser's beet chips with homemade tzakizi dipping sauce. Oh. My. If you love beets and miss potato chips, this is the way to go. Make these soon.

It's that season where watermelon and feta recipes are hopping up all over the place. I can't eat feta or grains, but how delicious does this quinoa salad look over at Annie's Eats?

 The Vintage Mixer's recent posts on Italy make me want to crawl inside my computer and eat my way out. (Does that happen to anyone else?) But it was this gorgeous frittata in the blue enamel pan that really caught my eye. I just love a good frittata.

good reads

If you are interested in learning more about cooking with almond flour, Urban Poser did an awesome post on the how and what and when of this delicious and versatile ingredient. Check it out.

There are so many amazing bloggers out there. Sometimes I wonder how they manage to keep it all together, managing family, business, blogging, etc. Then someone like Sarah at Whoorl keeps it real with a post like this. Good to know I'm not alone.

I've got to try this. I really, really hope it works. It's a full-time job picking up after my kids (and/or nagging them to do the job themselves).

Word. That's all I need to say.

Happy weekend, dear readers! What's on your agenda for the next few days?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Grain-Free Goodness: Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad

Dinner with friends: divine. This dinneralfresco, with friends, and an amazing rose´: a perfect Spring evening.

Starting with rose´ is totally optional, but honestly, why not?

A key to this delicious, flavor-packed meal is the lightly charred romaine. Oh my.

Add to the grilled romaine some tender grilled chicken, handmade croutons (not if you're grain-free like me), and a dressing so good it had me licking the spatula clean (a la` cake batter), and you have one unforgettable Caesar Salad.


Oh, and let me mention the encore: homemade strawberry frozen yogurt and coconut milk mint-chip ice cream? Recipes forthcoming...

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad
Adapted from

Serves 6-8

1/2 C freshly grated parmesan cheese (can do in food processor with grater blade)
8 anchovy fillets
3 TBS fresh lemon juice
3 garlic cloves
2 TBS Dijon mustard
3/4 C olive oil
Salt & pepper

4 breasts of chicken
olive oil
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
Salt & pepper

3 Tbs olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
3 3/4-inch-thick slices whole grain bread, crusts removed, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (4 cups)
Salt & pepper

3 hearts of romaine, sliced in half lengthwise
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Cracked black pepper

For dressing:
Combine all ingredients other than olive oil in a food processor; blend well. With processor running, add olive oil in a slow stream. Season with salt and pepper.

For croutons:
Preheat oven to 325F. Heat 3 TBS olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and fresh herbs and saute until fragrant, about one minute. Remove from heat and add bread cubes; toss to coat. Spread out bread cubes on a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until croutons are golden, about 15-18 minutes, stirring occasionally.

For grilled chicken & romaine:
Preheat grill to high heat. Spray with cooking oil.

Smother chicken breasts with a little olive oil. Season evenly with fresh herbs, salt & pepper.

Grill chicken over high heat until cooked all the way through, or until internal temperature reaches 165F, about 4-6 minutes per side. After flipping chicken halfway through cooking, brush olive oil over cut sides of romaine. Place romaine, cut side down, on grill and cook until just charred, about 2-3 minutes.

To assemble salad:

On a large platter, arrange romaine leaves, cut/charred side up. Slice chicken breast and lay on top of romaine. Top with 1/2 cup grated parmesan, croutons, and cracked black pepper.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Joy the Baker giveaway winner!

Kim Cory, you're the lucky winner of the Joy the Baker cookbook giveaway! Happy Baking, friend!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Ode to Joy: Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies

Yes, you read that right. Peanut Butter. BACON. Cookies. I was skeptical, I admit, but there is something to be said about the salty, fatty goodness of these out-of-the-ordinary cookies.

The original recipe called for both granulated sugar and molasses, both of which were substituted with honey. Rather than a crumbly cookie dough, these were sticky and soft. Also, I used smoker-cooked bacon which added a sultry, smoky flavor to the cookies. (FYI: If you happen to have a smoker, I couldn't recommend this bacon-cooking method any more highly. It is amazing. Bacon Candy.)

If you like peanut butter cookies, imagine your favorite recipe with the added awesomeness of (smoked) bacon. And that's what we have here. Make at your own risk.

Yet another day, another recipe from Joy's cookbook. If you'd like the chance to have your own copy, it's not too late to leave a comment on the original post.

Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies
adapted from original recipe by Joy Wilson
makes about 2 dozen

8 slices bacon
1 C. all-natural peanut butter
1 1/4 C. honey
1 large egg
1 tsp. baking soda
generous pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 C. coarsely chopped roasted & salted peanuts

Place a wire rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 350F. Line a baking sheet with foil and place bacon slices in a single layer. Bake bacon until cooked through and crisp, 12-15 minutes. (Alternatively, place on a preheated 450F smoker and smoke bacon until cooked through, 12-15 minutes). Remove from the oven (leaving oven on), let cool slightly, then transfer to paper towels. When cool enough to handle, coarsely chop the bacon and set aside.

Line a clean cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the peanut butter and honey until thoroughly combined, about 2 minutes. Add the egg, baking soda and nutmeg, and mix on medium speed for another 2 minutes.

Remove the paddle attachment and the bowl and use a wooden spoon to fold in the bacon and peanuts. Scoop the dough into heaping tablespoons and place on the prepared cookie sheet. Dough will be sticky.

Bake for 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Maddie: 65 Months

My Dear Maddie-Girl,

Another month has passed as you approach 5 1/2. Every day I see more and more of the baby girl you were slipping away as this mature, lovely & creative young girl emerges. It is hard work for a mama, both grieving the child that once was, caring for the child that is, and nurturing the person that is to come. Every day is a delicate balance, a teetering of prayer, hard work, and hopeful expectation.

This month you graduated preschool. I watched with wonder as you hugged your yellow room teachers goodbye, pausing to look over the cheery room with its small chairs, work stations, silkworm habitat and carefully decorated walls. Goodbye private Christian preschool, hello public Kindergarten. Yikes! But I must trust in the decision Daddy and I have made. You have the heart of an evangelist; you love to tell people about Jesus and pray for their salvation. You are a shining light; Christ is with you wherever you go, in your compassion, your wisdom, your desire to help, and in your cheerful spirit. It is our prayer that as we release you into the big world, and thus trust that God is sovereign and able to work in you and through you, all of these gifts will be used for his glory and your development.

For every way that you are changing and maturing into a little lady, there are still elements of babyhood that remain. Take, for instance, eating a cupcake (or any mealtime, really). How you manage to both wear and distribute your food all around your eating area is still a mystery. From that first taste of rice cereal to breakfast this morning, I can expect that your face will bear witness to the yumminess of your last meal. Funny girl.

You continue to love to draw and create. Some of your latest creations come from a rich, deep place within your imagination. No longer do you copy things you've seen but dream up and create these happy, colorful, detailed characters. It is so fun to see your love of drawing as it develops. I've secretly hoped for years that you and Sam would get the artistic gene that comes through Daddy's family. It appears my hopes have been answered! 

One thing that's been especially fun this past month is your gymnastics class. After many months of waiting for a tae kwon do class to pan out, only to have it cancelled, gymnastics was your next choice. And what a pleasant experience it's been! Your body is so strong and lithe and capable. I LOVE to watch as you try something for the first time and power through it with ease and joy. Yet I also love to watch as you try, fail, and try again and again. The frustration that plagues your tendency toward perfection falls away at gymnastics. When something doesn't come easily or quickly, you jump right back in with gusto and keep at it. 

Last week you were practicing your cartwheels when a little boy remarked that they were "horrible." You smiled, assumed the starting position, and said, "but I will keep practicing and practicing until I get it right! I will be able to do this!" It was like the heavens parted, angels trumpeted, and your Mama's heart leaped within her chest! All those prayers for you not to be crushed by failure but to persevere with joy and intention, all the times you've given up out of frustration, all the times I've told you, "keep trying, you will get it!"-- it was God himself quieting my soul and enabling you to find your worth not in failure, not in someone's opinion of you, but deep within a peace and centeredness that enabled you to turn away from criticism, smile, and tumble in the grass. Praise God!

My prayers will continue, that you find great joy and purpose in Christ, and not in your own abilities or inabilities. I will pour my love out over you in order to point you to the love of Christ. I will celebrate your developments and point out your uniqueness as God's beloved child. I love you, my sweet big girl.



Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Ode to Joy: Becky's BLTA

If the biscuits weren't enough goodness on their own, then let me just take them to the next flavor level for you. Who doesn't love a good BLTA--bacon, lettuce, tomato & avocado? 

Realizing the potential of the bacon already in those biscuits and having both a perfectly ripe and surprisingly sweet grape tomatoes on hand, I whipped up this non-traditional sandwich in less than five minutes and finished it even quicker.

And while you're dreaming of bacon, be sure to comment on the giveaway page to be entered in a chance to with Joy's cookbook.

Becky's BLTA
serves 1

1 bacon-cheddar biscuit (recipe here)
half of an avocado
lettuce leaves
tomato, sliced (or chopped, in the case of grape tomatoes)
salt & pepper

My non-traditional option was made by combining chopped grape tomatoes, diced avocado, mayo, salt & pepper in a bowl and then spreading it on the biscuit for an open-faced sandwich.

Traditionalists can use sliced tomato and avocado with a spread of mayo on one half.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Ode to Joy: Honey-Mustard Cashews

I love a good snack. This, my friends, is the perfect poolside snack with a large, sparkling beverage. Tangy, sweet and a little bit of bite, these cashews take care of all my summertime cravings. Another tip of the hat to Joy the Baker!

As long as you're here, be sure to check out the awesome giveaway and leave a comment to enter! If you win, you'll have these recipes plus so much more in your hot little hands.

Honey-Mustard Cashews
barely adapted from original recipe by JoyWilson
makes 2 cups

1/4 C. honey
1 TBS oil (vegetable, olive, grapeseed)
1-2 tsp ground, dried mustard
1/2 tsp yellow mustard
2 cups raw cashews
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375F. LIne a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together honey, oil and mustard. Add cashews to the bowl and toss to coat, until every cashew is coated in the honey mixture.

Spread nuts out into a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Top with black pepper and bake for 15-20 minutes, removing the nuts once or twice during baking to toss. Remove from oven and cool. Once cool, store in an airtight, at room temperature, for up to one week.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sunday Brunch: Ode to Joy

You may remember that last weekend I had the pleasure of meeting the talented, funny Joy of Joy the Baker fame. She gave a lovely brunch demonstration and today I'm sharing my own grain-free rendition of her delicious recipes. And, dear readers, an awesome giveaway!

Joy thinks a good brunch should include coffee, bacon, and a savory bread. I couldn't agree more! Her original menu included Cheddar, Chive & Jalapeno Biscuits, Coffee Bacon, and Kale, Spinach, Banana & PB smoothies. Yum. After some trial and error, I give you a few updates:

I cooked the bacon in a syrup made of coffee and honey, then incorporated the bits into an almond flour biscuit with cheddar, green onions, and red pepper for a little bite.

My hubby contributed amazing iced coffee, and I whirled together kale, spinach, banana, almond milk, and OJ for a nutritious smoothie. Thanks Joy for the wonderful inspiration!!!

Today, because I love ya (shout out to PW), because it's Sunday, because I'm on a much-needed girls' weekend, & just because baking is fun, I have a signed copy of Joy the Baker's cookbook to give away!

To be entered in the giveaway, just leave a comment on this post answering the following question by Sunday the 17th of June. Winner will be announced in the next installment of Sunday Brunch at as the noonday!

What is your favorite brunch?

Bacon Cheddar Biscuits
recipe inspired by Elana Amsterdam and Joy the Baker
makes 12 biscuits

2 1/2 C. blanched almond flour
1/4 tsp. sea salt plus 1/4 tsp. for sprinkling
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 C. cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes (sub grapeseed oil, see below)
1/4 C. honey
2 large eggs
1/2 C. sharp cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes
1/4 C. chopped green onion
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

4 slices bacon
1/2 C. brewed coffee
1/4 C. honey

Preheat oven to 350.

To make coffee bacon:
In a skillet over medium heat, simmer coffee and honey together until reduced and syrupy, about 5-6 minutes. Add bacon to pan and cook, turning regularly, until browned and crisp. Set aside. When cool enough to handle, chop into small pieces.

To make biscuits:
Combine first three ingredients in a large bowl. Using fingers, "cut" butter into flour mixture, breaking cubes into smaller and smaller pieces. Continue until mixture resembles coarse meal. Make a well in the  dry ingredients.

In another bowl, mix together honey and eggs. Pour into dry ingredients and mix well with a fork. Mix in cheese, onion, pepper flakes, and bacon. Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. coarse sea salt.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, until golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.


For a dairy-free version, you can substitute 1/4 cup grapeseed oil for the butter. No "cutting" will be necessary. Just mix the oil in with the honey and eggs and combine with dry ingredients. The crumb will be less flaky, but softer and chewier. (picture below)


Iced Coffee
makes 5 cups concentrate

1/2 pound coffee, coarsely ground
5 cups cold water

almond milk

Combine coffee and water in a large pitcher (or large french press, if you have one). Put in the refrigerator overnight. 

In the morning, strain the coffee through a fine mesh sieve. 

Mix equal parts coffee concentrate and almond milk in a glass. Add sweetener to taste. Fill with ice cubes. Chow!


Kale, Spinach & Banana Smoothie
based on original recipe by Joy the Baker
Makes 1 large or 2 small smoothies

1 C. kale (any variety)
1 C. spinach
1 1/2 C. almond milk
1 banana, sliced
Splash of freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tsp. honey

Combine ingredients in a blender until thoroughly combined.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Samuel: 39 Months

Oh my little Sambo (Sam + Rambo),

What a month it's been, you crazy boy! I feel like I can hardly get you to sit down (unless a show is on). You are a whirling dervish of a boy, full of life and energy, karate moves and sound effects. What a treat it is to have a boy!

And thus, a tribute. To all things boy.


If I had a dollar for every stick I removed from my car, the back yard, garage, front porch and surrounding areas, I'd have a lot of money for pedicures. You are constantly collecting sticks and using them in a variety of sword-fighting and light saber-wielding adventures. No stick is safe from your grasp.


Around 5:00 each evening, no matter what we've done, where we've gone, or what you've consumed, your face is always a sticky, dirty mess. It's like Pig Pen from Charlie Brown. The mess follows you. Sand sticks in every crevice and collects by the inchful in your boots and pockets. You're not afraid to stick your toes in something sticky or your head in something wet. It's remarkable, really.


Here you are, happy as can be, in the back of a police cruiser. Let's just hope it's the last ride you ever take. :) You talk about policemen and firemen non-stop, but when we had our chance last Saturday to talk to some real, live heroes, you shut up like a clam. No words, no excitement, just utter and complete shock. Even after getting the sticker badges, riding in a cruiser, and getting complimented by some sweet firefighters about your fire boots, you still remained silent. (That is, until we walked away. Then we couldn't get you to stop talking).

Here is a little montage of you dancing to the Vintage Music Collective last weekend. Once you opened up, you got right down to business with your very own dance moves. The booty shifting, leg raising Sam dance.


You've never really played organized sports before, but at church on Sunday the dads arranged you kiddos for a game of Steal the Bacon. When it was your turn, with a little coaching, you dominated! Grabbed that pigskin, took off sprinting, and carried it across your line with a smile on your face. I could hardly believe my baby was dashing across that field, long legs pumping, arms gripping that football tightly. When did you get so big?

And then, when it wasn't your turn anymore, you pouted and shrugged your shoulders and sat out in the shade. If the above two pictures don't perfectly capture what it is to be 3, then I'm not sure how else to spell it out. Pure, enthusiastic joy one minute; pouting frustration the next.

You still love to snuggle. As a matter of fact, the last two nights you've made your way in between Daddy and I early in the night. Generally, I'm alert enough to notice you come in, and I walk you back to your own bed. You've been coming in earlier and earlier (midnight, maybe?) and I'm so dead asleep I don't notice until a limb makes its way to my face. Then it's pretty difficult to deny your long-legged existence in our smallish queen bed. Yet I don't think Daddy or I is in any hurry to boot you out, not when you snuggle in close, lovingly stroke a cheek or an arm, and breathe quietly beside us.

You're such a wonderful, spunky, ornery, friendly, happy, crazy, funny little guy. Here's hoping that for every run down the football field, we've got another snuggle coming our way. At least for now.

Love you, sweet boy.


Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Grain-Free Goodness: Thai Steak Salad

And it seems, with hardly a break, that I'm back with another Thai-inspired meal. Turns out, most meals that catch my eye as I flip through magazines and pore over blogs are Asian, full of fish sauce and lime juice, ginger and garlic. I just can't help myself when it comes down to the umami of these delicious, nutritious, vegetable- and flavor-packed recipes.

I don't know how Thai this salad really is, but it is delicious and comes together quite quickly. We had this for lunch on a warm day and it really hit the spot!

Thai Steak Salad
inspired by Cooking Light

6 ounces leftover steak, cold (I used three slices of barbecue-flavored, smoked tri-tip)

1/4 tsp black pepper
dash of salt
1 clove garlic, minced
2 TBS lime juice
1 TBS honey
1 TBS coconut aminos (substitute soy sauce or tamari)
1 1/2 tsp fish sauce
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced cabbage
1/2 cup julienne-cut carrots (or just shave off pieces with the vegetable peeler)
a few leaves of each mint, basil and cilantro, sliced

For the dressing:
Combine first 6 ingredients (pepper through fish sauce) in a small bowl or jar with a lid. Mix well.

For the salad:
Split cabbage, carrots and fresh herbs evenly between two plates. 

To serve:
Drizzle dressing over salad plates. Top with slices of beef. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

all about as the noonday

Well, hello there, dear readers.

I'm Becky, author of this here blog. The above picture was taken in Kauai, my happy place (if you couldn't already tell by the excitement on my face and in my bulging neck veins).

I was born July 9, 1978 to an Eskimo family in the great Alaskan wilderness.

Just kidding. I think that's just some fancy photo props. I lived almost my entire childhood on an idyllic, verdant 33-acre property in Sandy, Oregon. I have the best family in the whole world.

I'm married to Ben. We'll be celebrating 12 years of wedded bliss in just a few weeks. Being married twelve years makes me sound old, but we were just young'ns when we tied the knot. He is my best friend and just about the smartest person I've ever met. He also makes me laugh and scratches my back when it's itchy.

I have two kids: Maddie is 5 and Sam is 3. Maddie is compassionate, smart, energetic, talkative, sensitive, witty, creative & funny. Every day occurrences include: drawing pictures, helping her little brother, feeding her pet fish Paz and talking my ears off. Sam is all boy, athletic, funny, loud, cuddly, sweet, ornery & affectionate. If you were to follow him around, you'd probably vacillate between, "Aw, isn't that cute?" and, "OH MY GOSH, he's going to kill himself trying that!"

I'm a stay at home Mama and church planter. My hubby and I recently planted Soma Communities of San Ramon Valley. He's the pastor, I'm his number-one support person, and we are quite a team. We love Jesus, adore our community, and feel like we won the lottery every day we get to journey closely with folks in passionate pursuit of Christ, as well as those who've never encountered his radical grace.

I love writing, baking, trying new recipes, taking pictures, instagram (username: beckyjoyce), hiking, hanging out with friends, hosting barbecues, drinking wine, staying healthy, reading, sitting in the sunshine, vacation, and family.

If you've managed to follow all that, please take a minute to notice my new option of following this blog.

If you've been reading my posts for a while or just a bit, would you consider being a follower?

I'd love to know who's out there, reading these random bits of information. And I'd love the chance to follow you, too.



Monday, June 04, 2012

Sabbath Adventures: Blogger Nerdiness Exposed

On Saturday my sister-in-law Jennie and I went to the Sunset (magazine) Celebration in Menlo Park. Jennie was exposed to my extreme blogger nerdiness, I'm afraid, but she was an awesome sport. First up: see Joy the Baker give a brunch demonstration.

Joy the Baker--if you've been following along, you know that I love her. She has a unique, funny blogging voice, beautiful photos, & delicious recipes. Just a few weeks back I made a grain-free version of her asparagus tart. I liked it so much, I turned it into breakfast the next day. :)

This was one of those cases in which meeting the real person was even better than reading her blog. Joy is funny in person. Really funny. She had me cracking up with her self-effacing & witty running commentary. The brunch recipes she shared sounded tasty and simple: cheddar-chive biscuits, coffee bacon, and a kale-spinach-banana-PB smoothie.

And the awesome blogger bonus: Tracy Shutterbean was there, too! Joy pointed her out and I totally blog-stalked her after the presentation. And here we are:

The blurry photo is totally my bad. I had my camera focus set to the center point and didn't warn Jennie. Blurry or not, you have the evidence in front of you. I loved every minute of getting to visit with this talented local.

After buddying up stalking she of shutterbean fame, I headed over to the book signing tent to meet 1:1 with the lovely Joy.

In line I talked for a while with a super sweet food blogger Tiffany who is making her way through Joy's cookbook. I just love meeting other bloggers! And we had more than just food in common. So fun!

Here is Joy, signing my book: "Becky, big loves! happy baking! you're major! xo Joy"
She totally called me "major." :) Oh yeah.

I told Joy how much I love her site with its beautiful photos and scrumptious recipes. I told her about my grain-free version of her tart and told her she always inspires me to try new things based on her ideas. 

And then Jennie took my picture with the lovely baker:

After walking away, a representative from Sunset's publishing firm approached me and asked some questions about my blog. I explained that I'm totally small fry but write about all kinds of topics: food, faith, family, grain-free cooking, and adventures. She gave me her card and told me they are always on the lookout for up-and-coming blogs, asking me to forward my link. Yikes! How exciting!

 Stay tuned for a really, really awesome post and giveaway concerning Joy. It's gonna be epic!!!