Dairy Free Skillet Cornbread.

20161016_182003I apologize for the quality of this picture: I was in a hurry when I was taking it. So, while I took three separate pictures, none of them turned out very well.

Anyway, it’s getting to be a bit colder here, which is excellent chili weather. The best thing to eat with chili is cornbread (of course) so I make a lot of it. The trouble is that most recipes call for sour cream and milk, so I decided to try using some alternative ingredients.

This is the (super delicious) result. The recipe is a little bit of work, but it’s totally worth it.

Skillet Cornbread

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: intermediate
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11 1/4 ounces cornmeal (2 1/4 cups)
1 1/2 cups plain coconut milk yogurt
1/2 cup almond milk
1/4 cup avocado oil
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon teaspoon salt
2 large eggs

  1. Adjust oven racks to lower-middle and middle positions and heat oven to 450°F. Place a 10 inch skillet (preferably cast-iron) on the middle rack and heat for 10 minutes.
  2. Spread cornmeal on a rimmed baking sheet and toast on the bottom rack until fragrant and lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  3. Transfer toasted cornmeal to a large bowl and whisk in yogurt and milk. Set aside.
  4. When skillet is hot, add the avocado oil and heat for another 5 minutes.
  5. Using potholders, remove the skillet from the oven and add the coconut oil to the hot avocado oil, swirling gently to incorporate. Pour hot oil mixture into the cornmeal mixture and whisk until combined (resist the urge to scrape the extra oil out with a spatula). Whisk in baking powder, baking soda and salt. The batter will immediately start to rise. This is normal.
  6. Whisk in the eggs then pour the batter into the hot skillet and place on the middle rack with a clean cookie sheet underneath to catch any drips that may occur.
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the top begins to brown and crack and the sides are golden brown, rotating skillet halfway.
  8. Allow the bread to cool for 5 minutes in the skillet before flipping it out onto a cooling rack.
  9. Cool for 10 minutes and then serve.

Notes

  • This works best with yogurt that’s past it’s date, which basically means it is more sour than fresh yogurt. I usually keep an eye on the dairy discount section of the stores I frequent and make this whenever I pick up a tub of coconut milk yogurt that’s about to “go bad.”
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Gluten Free Peach Cobbler.

20160911_201718It’s peach season (sort of, it’s kind of the end of the season now) so we’ve got a lot of peaches. That means a lot of peach cobbler (and lots of frozen peaches). I’ve been experimenting with different recipes to get the perfect peach cobbler and I think I’ve done it. It’s perfectly bread-y, and just the right amount of sweet. This is one of those recipes that, if you didn’t say anything, no one would know it was gluten free. It’s also easy to make this vegan and, though I can’t personally vouch for this, I bet it’s equally delicious because coconut oil is amazing.

The first cobbler I made didn’t have enough cobbler base. It called for a 3 qt (I think) dish, so I looked on the bottom of my 9×13 pyrex and confirmed it was the proper size. I think what the recipe actually wanted me to use was something smaller with a higher lip. Anyway, what I ended up with was a cobbler that was good. It was reminiscent of the “graham” crackers I make sometimes in flavor, but it was just too thin.

20160911_201612The second cobbler was all oat flour and it was the perfect thickness in the 9×13 pan, but it called for a whopping 4 teaspoons of baking powder. When I was mixing everything together I thought, wow that is A LOT of baking powder! But gluten free cooking can be weird sometimes so i figured I’d just follow the recipe and see how it turned out. Well, it definitely had too much baking powder. You could taste the baking powder. Not good.

So the third (and fourth) cobbler(s) I made were a mix of the two recipes. This recipe is a winner. I took two photos of it, but I couldn’t pick which I liked best so I included both of them because I think they both show the texture of the cobbler accurately.

Gluten Free Peach Cobbler

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 stick of unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
3/4 cup sucanat
1 cup flour blend
1 cup oat flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk (any kind, I used almond milk)
6 cups peaches

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°.
  2. Slice the peaches into a bowl. Peeling is optional.
  3. Mix batter together and pour into a greased 9×13 baking dish and spread to the edges using a spatula. The batter will start rising right after it’s mixed, this is normal, don’t worry!
  4. Pour in peaches, making sure they cover the entire surface of the batter and bake for 35-40 minutes until the cobbler is light brown.
  5. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
  6. Serve with heavy cream, ice cream, dairy free ice cream, or dairy free milk.

Fondant (that isn’t death by sugar).

20160827_135127When I asked Hamling what kind of party he wanted for his birthday this year he said he wanted an airplane party. While we were scrolling through the internet trying to pick out a cake he’d like to have he saw one that was made with fondant. I’ve never made fondant before, and I had only heard people say it was gross. Not only that, but any kind of frosting that takes as much powdered sugar as fondant gives me an unpleasant tickling feeling at the back of my throat just thinking about it. I wanted to make a fondant that was not as sweet, but still functioned fairly well. Impossible, right?

Challenge accepted.

I ended up with something that was still pretty sweet, but I was afraid to use any more starch than I already had. As far as frosting goes, this was pretty good, and it was very workable. Maybe I’ll practice my fondant smoothing skills next time I make it.

Fondant

  • Servings: 1 cake
  • Difficulty: medium
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1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (agar agar if making a vegan cake)
1/8 cup cold water
1/4 cup organic corn syrup
1 Tablespoon shortening or butter
1 1/2 cups tapioca starch
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

  1. Combine gelatin and water and let sit until thick. Place it on a double boiler to melt.
  2. Add the syrup and mix well. Add shortening or butter and mix until just melted. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Cool mixture until lukewarm.
  3. Put 1 cup of starch and 1 cup of powdered sugar into a bowl. Make a well in the center and pour the liquid gelatin mixture into the well. Stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Add the remaining starch and stir.
  4. Generously dust a flat surface with powdered sugar and pour out the sticky mess in your bowl onto the sugar. Knead in the remaining powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time until the fondant no longer sticks to your fingers.
  5. Roll out between two sheets of plastic wrap, brushing the top of the fondant with oil to prevent sticking.
  6. Apply to cake.

Notes:

  • If you want colored fondant and you’re using liquid coloring, add the color of your choice to the liquid before you mix it into the starch/sugar.
  • If your cake is going to be sitting out for a little bit, brush the entire surface with oil to keep the fondant from drying out and cracking.
  • This will store for up to a month in the fridge. If you find it’s dry when you take it out to use it, knead in some more oil.

Paleo Carrot Cake.

084The first thing you need for this recipe is homemade almond milk. Specifically the almond meal left from making the milk. To make the almond milk, soak 2 cups of almonds overnight. Strain and rinse the almonds then put them into a blender, one cup at a time with 2 cups of warm water. Blend for at least 1 minute. Strain through a muslin cloth. Dry the pulp for 12 hours in a warm oven. Once dry, run the pulp through a food processor until it is the consistency of flour. This should give you enough to make the cake.

When you use the leftover almond meal form making almond milk you get the bonus of having soaked almond flour. This will give you a better flavor and more nutrients.

This cake is worth the extra effort, but you could also use regular almond meal or flour.

There are no eggs in this, so if you switch the sweetener it would be vegan.

Paleo Carrot Cake

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: medium
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1 1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup shredded coconut
3 flax eggs
1/4 cup coconut butter
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 325° F. Oil an 8×8 cake pan.
  2. Combine the ingredients for the flax eggs and allow to sit.
  3. Combine dry ingredients.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the flax eggs and combine well.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Fold in the carrots.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  7. Allow to cool in the pan.

You can top this with a slice of Kerrygold butter and some honey for an extra amazing treat!

Day Late and a Dollar Short.

The last two days have been packed with things and I didn’t realize I hadn’t written until my head hit the pillow last night. If it had been earlier than 11 I might have gotten back up to post, but I figured I’d just write in the morning instead.

One day I’ll get organized. Maybe.

Anyway, I wanted to share my favorite crock pot meal. I found the original recipe on a website called “skinny” something, or at least it had some iteration of “low fat” in the name. I’m not a fan of low fat stuff, but the recipe seemed decent. So I changed it around a bit and came up with something super delicious (with plenty of good fat).

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I need a new camera…

This makes enough for our family of 3.5 (one of us isn’t eating food yet) to eat at least 4 meals. I haven’t tried freezing it yet because it’s so good I actually look forward to eating it for lunch or a second dinner.

Tip to make this even easier:
If you’re cooking something that calls for a partial onion, dice the remaining onion and store in a tupperware in your fridge while you’re cooking. This way you can just dump the onion into the pot when you’re ready to start the crock pot.

Santa Fe Chicken

  • Servings: 8-12
  • Difficulty: easy
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2 chicken breasts
1 medium onion, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 bell pepper (any color), diced
28 oz diced tomatoes
16 oz black beans (drained)
4 oz diced green chilies
1.5 cups bone broth
1 cup frozen corn
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
1.5 teaspoons cumin
dash cayenne
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (for garnish)
1-2 avocadoes

  1. Combine everything but the cilantro and avocado in your crock pot. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 4-6.
  2. 30 minutes before serving, shred the chicken.
  3. Serve over white rice.

Two Pot Beef Shepherd’s Pie!

IMG_0915Shepherd’s pie is a staple at our house. It’s hearty, it’s easy to cook, and it’s delicious, so I make it often. Not to mention the amount of leftovers we get out of it. This dish is a great way to stretch that expensive grass-fed ground beef.

I also take this to friends who are in need of a meal. I’ll pick up one of those disposable barbecue pans and bake it in there. If you’re going to do that, just cook everything in a large pan and transfer to the disposable pan for baking before adding the frozen veggies.

Beef Shepherd's Pie

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 lb grass-fed ground beef
4-6 medium carrots, diced
1/2 large red onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup green beans
1/2 cup broth

6 large potatoes
1/2 – 1 cup broth
1/4 – 1/2 cup butter
salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a 3 qt cast iron dutch oven melt your cooking fat over medium heat. When it starts to shimmer add the onions. Cook until the onions are slightly translucent and add the carrots. Cook for 1 minute before adding the beef. Cook until all of the beef is brown, about 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, bring water to a boil in a large pot. Cut the potatoes (and peel them if you like). When the water is at a rolling boil add the potatoes, reduce heat to medium-high and set a timer for 20 minutes.
  3. Right after adding the potatoes pour broth into the dutch oven with the meat. Add the garlic and fresh green beans (if using frozen green beans, do not add them now). Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer while the potatoes boil.
  4. Preheat the oven to 420°F when your timer is at 10 minutes.
  5. When the timer goes off strain the potatoes. Let them cool for a second in the strainer while you add your frozen veggies to the dutch oven.
  6. Return the potatoes to the pot with butter and broth starting with the lowest measurement. Mash, adding butter or broth as needed for a creamy, spreadable consistency. If you need this to bee 100% dairy free you can use lard or olive oil instead.
  7. Spread the potatoes over the shepherd’s pie mixture in the dutch oven. Start at the edges and work in.
  8. Pop the dutch oven in the oven once it’s preheated and bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes, or until the peaks of the potatoes start to brown.
  9. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Notes:
If you’re avoiding nightshades you can try mashed cauliflower, parsnip or sweet potato instead of regular potatoes.

No-Bake Vegan Mini “Cheesecake”

IMG_0726I’m generally not a fan of vegan things because, in my opinion, the vegan diet is unsustainable health wise. I think it’s an awesome reset diet, but not something that should be practiced long-term, and certainly not something you should be doing while pregnant. But that’s just my opinion. The reason I made these this Christmas is there are people in my family who have a hard time with dairy and eggs. I wanted to make a cheesecake, but I wanted everyone to be able to eat it. I had made a cashew-based “cheesecake” before with decent results, so I found a different recipe and modified it a bit.

These desserts are pretty amazing, because even vegan food can be amazing if you know what you’re doing. To top that off, they’re also really easy to make. All you need is a food processor and a little time.

Vegan Mini Cheesecake

  • Servings: 12-18
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
Crust:
1 cup pitted dates, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes and drained
1 cup soaked and dried almonds
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (or to taste)
Filling:
1 1/2 cups “raw” cashew pieces
Juice of 1 medium-sized lemon
Generous 1/2 cup coconut cream
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
Ganache:
Equal parts coconut cream and semi-sweet chocolate chips.

  1. Soak almonds in salt water overnight. Drain and dry in a 170 °F oven until crispy (about 8 hours).
  2. Pour boiling water over the cashew pieces and let soak for 1 hour.
  3. Process almonds and cinnamon in food processor until you have a very coarse meal and add the drained dates. Process until a loose dough forms. Add dates or almonds as needed to adjust the consistency. As a general rule, start with more almonds/less dates and add dates if the dough is too dry.
  4. Grease a muffin pan (and a half, there will be extra batter) or line with paper liners. The paper liners are easier to remove, but greasing works reasonably well, just make sure your muffin pans fit in your freezer.
  5. Pack about 1/2 tablespoon of the crust into the bottom of the muffin cups. A spoon works really well for this.
  6. Rinse the food processor bowl and add the drained cashew pieces. Process until they start to form a dough.
  7. Add the lemon juice and process until smooth. Repeat with each ingredient, one at a time. This helps the texture of the final product. If you add everything at once you have a greater chance that the cheesecakes will be mealy rather than smooth.
  8. Pour into muffin cups, leaving some room on top.
  9. In a small saucepan add the coconut cream and heat until barely hot. Turn off the heat and add the chocolate chips. Stir until smooth. Using a small spoon (I used a sugar spoon, or a baby food spoon works as well) portion the ganache onto the cakes. Swirl with a toothpick.
  10. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for a minimum of 4 hours in the freezer (8 in the fridge, overnight is even better). If you just greased your muffin tins (no paper liners) you need to freeze these for removal. To remove the frozen cakes, just slide a butter knife in the edge and pop them out. If some of the crust stays behind, scrape it out and re-squish it to the bottom of the cake.
  11. Enjoy!

I used what was left of my coconut cream from the can I bought for the ganache: the solid contents of the can were slightly more than what I needed for the filling. I just weighed it on my kitchen scale. If I remember correctly I had about 1.6 ounces of cream. That was the perfect amount for all of the cakes and a little extra for me to enjoy after I was finished making them.

For this recipe, do not mix the coconut cream with the water in the can. Only use the solid part. If you shake your can and it sounds like the entire thing is liquid, pop it in the fridge while the almonds are soaking/drying (at least overnight) and it will separate nicely.

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This recipe is adapted from here.

Gluten Free “Graham” Crackers.

IMG_20150915_181344It’s been a long time since I’ve eaten a real graham cracker, so I can’t reliably say whether these taste exactly like real graham crackers or not but I’m pretty sure they’re really close. I made them for fun after buying a bag to gluten free graham crackers from Vitamin Cottage that weren’t that great. I wanted to see if I could make a better graham cracker than the ones in the store, and I succeeded! Which is good because the ones from the store were expensive.

I made two batches of these. One just to see if they were worth making and another for a marshmallow roasting party we threw for hubby’s coworkers last Friday. So now you know why there wasn’t an entry last week: I’m a slacker and I basically just got ready for the party. Heh..

Gluten Free 'Graham' Crackers

  • Servings: about 12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1/4 cup potato starch (tapioca starch works for those avoiding nightshades)
1/4 cup arrowroot starch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons butter, cold and cubed
6 tablespoons milk
1/3 cup sucanat
3 tablespoons honey

  1. Combine the sucanat and milk and set aside. This dissolves the sucanat, which is an important step for this recipe. Stir occasionally until completely dissolved, or do this the night before and keep it in an airtight container in the fridge.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor equipped with the dough blade and pulse a few times to mix. Add in the butter and pulse until there are no more large pieces left. Add milk mixture and honey and pulse until the dough forms.
  3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured sheet of parchment, shaping into a rough rectangle and dusting with more flour. Cover with another sheet of parchment and roll the dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Carefully peel off the top sheet of parchment.
  4. Slide the parchment with the dough onto a baking pan and cut into squares using a pizza cutter. Prick holes in the dough with a fork.
  5. Chill dough for 10 minutes.
  6. While dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 350°F.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the dough is a light brown. Remove the crackers from the oven and allow to cool completely on a baking rack before breaking them apart.
  8. For extra awesome crackers, place the lighter ones back on the baking sheet and toast 5 minutes more, or until they become a darker brown.

Soaked Gluten Free Chocolate Cake.

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Please pardon the baking tray in the background, we frosted the cake during the party so the meatball trays were still out.

When the wee one told me he wanted to have a train party for his birthday I got a crazy idea about making a 3-D train cake. So, I took to the interwebs to see if this was something I could do on my own and of course Pinterest was the place I found the answer. I found these instructions there and decided I’d give it a whirl.

When it came time to bake a test cake I realized my original plan to bake in a coffee can was foiled because the coffee can we had on hand was not actually metal, but cardboard. So I tried using a quart mason jar. That worked just fine, so I’ll include the directions with the recipe.

For the actual cake recipe I knew I’d need to make adjustments, but I’ve never done a sculpted (if you can call this sculpted) cake before so I wasn’t sure what kind of adjustments to make to the batter. I’d read to reduce the oil, but that was for regular cake batter, not gluten-free. Gluten-free cake is a whole other beast. So I talked with my sister-in-law and she suggested adding eggs. I combined the two adjustments for the practice cake and hoped for the best.

What I ended up with was a chocolate cake that was slightly more dense than usual making it very similar to a cake brownie. This cake was like a compromise between chocolate cake-dom and brownie-hood. It held together very well and it tasted great, so I ditched my back-up plan of buying a train shaped cake pan and decided to make the 3-D train for the party.

To bake a cake in a mason jar you’ll need to thoroughly oil the inside of the jar and cut out some parchment paper to line the bottom. Then oil the parchment for good measure. I filled the jar to the 1 cup line and set it in a water bath (a loaf pan works really well for this) and baked at the normal temperature. The water bath makes it take a bit longer, so start checking on the jar cake 5 minutes past the normal baking time.
To remove the cake from the jar, slice a little piece off of the bottom, taking it out with the knife. Shake the rest of the cake out.

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake (for “sculpting”)

1/4 cup coconut oil
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 ounces (2/3 cup )unsweetened cocoa powder
7 ounces (1 1/3 cups plus 1/4 cup) GF flour blend
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
5 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
5 1/4 ounces (3/4 cup) sucanat
1 cup whole milk
1 Tablespoon whey or other acid
4 cups frosting

  1. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, milk and whey/acid in a glass bowl. Mix well, cover and let sit on the counter overnight.
  2. In the morning, melt the chocolate in the oil and set aside to cool. In a separate bowl, mix baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt together. Adjust the oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat to 350°F.
  3. Oil two loaf pans (and a mason jar) and line the bottoms with parchment, oiling the top of the parchment as well.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk eggs and vanilla. Whisk in sucanat until well combined (it won’t be smooth). Whisk in cooled chocolate mixture until combined. Mix in the dry ingredients then add the flour/cocoa/milk mixture and whisk until the batter is smooth.
  5. Divide batter evenly between the loaf pans, leaving enough to fill the mason jar to the 1 cup (or higher) line. Put the mason jar in a water bath. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 30-32 minutes, rotating pans halfway. Check the mason jar and add extra time as needed (about 10 minutes).
  6. Let cakes cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edges and remove the cakes from the pans, allowing them to cool completely on the rack before frosting or storing in an airtight container on the counter (DO NOT refrigerate).
  7. Frost the cake before serving.

You can make this cake dairy-free by using water kefir instead of milk. Or water with lemon/vinegar instead of whey. The acid you use doesn’t particularly matter because the chocolate masks the acidic flavor really well. No one will ever know.
The cupcakes in the picture are made with water kefir, and they turned out awesomely!

Party Prep When Preggo.

IMG_0277I have a limited amount of energy to draw from on a daily basis and being pregnant just exacerbates that. When I want to host something, I try to give myself plenty of time to work so that I won’t be running around like an angry chicken the day of the event. My goal is to make the hour or two before the first guest arrives as stress-free as possible.

We also had guests stay from Saturday to Sunday, which added extra prep so I was more diligent about my cleaning schedule and it really paid off: we thoroughly enjoyed their visit because I didn’t have to stress about party food prep.

It helped that my parents came to town for the wee one’s birthday and my mom cleaned the kitchen/breakfast bar for me, but with this schedule I think I could have pulled it off. I would have been a little more stressed, but I think getting the kitchen done would have been possible.

Here’s what I did for the little one’s birthday:

Monday. Clean the upstairs and downstairs bathrooms. This includes toilets, sinks and sweeping. The upstairs bath tub was clean from the week before, and if it hadn’t been clean, that’s what the shower curtain is for.

Tuesday. Laundry. This meant sheets in the guest room and clothes. Also tidying the bedrooms in general. I also added the T.V. room to the day because there were toys scattered all over.

Wednesday. Living room and errands. We have a giant fur factory of a dog, so cleaning the living room means spraying down the rug under our piano with vinegar water and actually brushing the fur out of it with one of those plastic bristle brushes because vacuuming doesn’t touch the hair. I started sprouting chickpeas for hummus in the morning, we also swept, tidied the toys and other surfaces like the piano and roll-top desk. I picked up all the party foodstuffs and general grocery needs. Then we went to dinner with an old friend of hubby’s, which was a nice break.

Thursday. Kitchen time! This is the day I did all of the food prep I could do ahead of time: I made the deviled eggs without filling them, mixed up 4 pounds of bacon meatball goodness and made 6 cups of coconut milk for tapioca pudding. I also cleaned the kitchen a little, but you really couldn’t tell by the end of the day. Part of the reason the kitchen didn’t get cleaned that day was that I discovered our wonderful cat had revenge peed on the wall in our craft room, so we spent a good portion of Thursday cleaning out the craft room.

Friday. On Friday I made the tapioca pudding, cooked the chickpeas and generally sat around after revisiting some places for cleaning. That evening we went out to dinner with my parents for the little one’s actual birthday. After dinner I started the cake batter (for soaking) and fed the sourdough starter for Sunday pancakes.

Saturday. I baked the cake (recipe next week!) while my mom cleaned the kitchen the rest of the way and I made hummus. Our company arrived around 5, so I spent the rest of the day visiting. In the evening I started the pancake batter.

Sunday. The day of the event! Pancake breakfast and then church. My mom got balloons and cleared off the breakfast bar while we were at mass, which was super helpful. When we got home we had an hour and a half to put everything together and we almost made it. The second round of meatballs were baking by the time the second round of guests arrived. My sister-in-law made frosting, so we frosted the cake when she arrived.

Overall everything went very smoothly. I had help which reduced the stress level by a lot, but the largest factor in stress reduction was definitely splitting up the chores throughout the week beforehand. I definitely recommend doing that for any event you’re planning!