I’ve Moved to Redeeming the Table Blog

Redeeming the TableI no longer write here, but you can come to Redeeming the Table, which is my new blog.  I write on hospitality, storytelling & food.  If you’ve subscribed to Evangitality via RSS or email, then come over & change it to Redeeming the Table.


You Say Goodbye & I Say Hello

It’s with immense joy that I get to say “Goodbye” to my beloved blog Evangitality.  I’ve been evaluating my life a lot and I keep running into clutter.  Whether it be my dresser top, my basement, my inbox…it’s always there.  It feels like it’s symbolic of the times with two young children (the creators of constant clutter trails); yet, I cannot help but find myself looking for a place of semblance, a quiet place I call my own.  Interesting isn’t it.  I long for a place, or an environment I can control.  Except, hospitality is anything but that.  I guess that’s why it’s so hard to truly extend hospitality.  Why so many of us want to give sacrificiously.  To give with everything we have to make the world a better place.  We want to give yet still control the world in which we live.  Unfortunately, we can’t have both.

I am on a journey to embrace this constant loving & giving word…idea.  It’s both noun & verb, they live side by side.  We cannot simply talk about this great idea of how to extend hospitality and leave it as noun; rather, we must allow the action…the verb…to marry the noun.  And that is where I’ve decided to say goodbye to Evangitality.

I’m not saying goodbye because I don’t want to embrace hospitality.  I’m saying goodbye to bring more cohesion to the story.  I feel my time at Evangitality has been fruitful and wonderful.  I’m thankful to have a place to share my heart for loving others, sharing stories & yum food.  But….

I’ve always been a bit annoyed with the name Evangitality.  Whenever I see someone in public they can never pronounce the name.  I’m big on correct pronunciation of words (and correct spelling), especially when the name is dear (as in someone’s first name, or something they love).  I’m never annoyed with the people who cannot pronounce the word Evangitality; rather, I’m annoyed with myself that I made it so difficult.

I felt like the name Evangitality is so limiting to what I can write about (because I have more than recipes & hospitality brewing in my head & heart).  I wanted to journey in a less cramped place (blog).

Another thing is I have a personal family blog that some of you don’t read.  I write little updates about my family, share videos, photos and basically (let’s face it) give grandparents a dose of their grandchildren.

I wanted to combine my worlds into one space.

I brood over possible names, Genuine Hospitality, Radical Hospitality, but those too were a bit too confine.  Then, I began thinking how I really love storytelling.  You know, that oral tradition that has almost died in our culture, but it’s kept alive by a couple of embers in the pit.  And not only do I love stories & storytelling, but I really like food.  It’s something people associate with me.  So call me crazy, but I thought I should incorporate that into the title.

I thought, Around the Fire sounded nice.  You know, we cook around the fire, oral tradition of telling stories around the fire, we commune around the fire, etc.  But, I wasn’t sold and when you type it in a search engine you get this weird movie that came out in the 90s, which I wouldn’t want my blog associated with.

My friend Hilary (who will be writing a guest post soon) suggested, Around the Table, recalling scenes from Moonstruck and the sacredness of the table.  I liked it, but wasn’t completely sold.  Then, I went back to look at my personal mission statement and there was one word that popped out to me.  I adore this word.  In fact, if Tayers had been a boy, her middle name would have been Ransom, which means Redemption.  When I look over my story, I see God’s redeeming hand in it all.  When I look at life, I’m always reminding of this word…Redemption/redeem/redeeming.  That’s why I am so happy saying goodbye to Evangitality and saying HELLO to:

 

Click on the picture to take you to Redeeming the Table

Join me in saying goodbye & saying hello.  I am thankful for you readers who keep coming back and even more thankful for those of you who encourage me in writing & posting (you are a source of my joy).


In Like a Lion

Hopefully March will be out like a lamb.  I’ve been bathing in 48 degree weather, which sounds terribly cold to this native Arizona, but the acclimated Washingtonian…it sounds incredible.  I’ve been relishing in time with Ben, my girls, friends & a nice visit with my mom.  Life is too short to feel tied to blogging (since I don’t do it for a living) or keep my incoming traffic here consistent.  I would be defined as a failure in blogging terms (i.e. don’t allow days at a time without a post), which is bull if my aim in life were to live for the stats & being popular.

But I suspect that I, like you, have other things in life that need to be lived and if that means taking a break; well, then a break it is.  I was recently on a date with Ben and he was talking about how much he needed to be surrounded by good music & books.  Then, he went on to say, “life’s too short to read boring books.”  Isn’t that true!  In so many areas of our life, I feel like we could sub the “read…books” part and put something else in.  It’s finding the areas that are enriching to our souls, mind & body.  Life truly is too short to read boring books, to short to watch crap shows/movies, to short to fill my time with life outside of my own reality.  Lent is this Wednesday, and again I’m reminded to quiet my soul & mind, in order for me to hear what is truly good.  To fill my body & soul with good & lovely things.  To know what life is worth living for (because it is shorter than I know).  Wherever you are on life’s journey, I hope you are finding those still & quiet moments to fill it with the truly good things.

 

I have a big surprise coming in my next post, which might come out tomorrow or Tuesday.  Stay tuned!


Final Thoughts on Mission Statements

 

In coming up with a mission statement, it’s good and easy to have one; yet, much more difficult to stick with it.  In Part 1, “what makes you unique?,” we address & answer that first, most vital question.  It’s the map that sets us on our journey.  In Part 2, “what’s your rally cry, your top priority?,” we address & answer how to eliminate stress by focusing on one area (rally cry) in our lives we can work on (& achieve in 2-6 months), which will help us stick to our journey.  Now, in Part 3, the final question remains.

Question #3: How do you talk about and use the answers to your questions?

It’s one thing to know what makes you unique.  It’s also another to know one area to focus on to eliminate stress & lack of vision/focus.  Yet, it’s another thing to know how you are going to accomplish it.  We could write a grandiose mission statements filled with our core values & strategic values.  We could have our rally cry that sings in unison with our soul & mind, creating a Zen-like space, free of clutter & distraction.  Better yet, picture yourself 50 lbs overweight.  You tell yourself, “I’m better than this.  I deserve more for my life!”  So, you go out and buy some exercise clothing, rid your house of the junk food and fill your fridge with clean, nutritious food.  You tell yourself, “By the end of the year, I’m going to be one hot mama/dude!”  You make the appointment with the gym and start your regime to better health.  After your first workout you think, “this is hard, I don’t know if I can do this.”  You look in your fridge and wonder, “salad with chicken doesn’t sound appetizing.” Your body says, “OH.MY.GOSH.  I didn’t know there were muscles here,” you’re in pain.  You go the next day to stick with the plan, because you remember your long-term goal.  Yet, by the second week, you sleep in…missing the gym.  You begin to buy a couple more food items away from what you intended.  You find yourself paying for a gym membership that isn’t being used.  Question 3 helps us continue going to the gym, eating healthily without letting the food rot and the exercise clothes sit clean in the drawer.  Here’s how…

1. Find a time every week to evaluate.

Spend 10 minutes every week (preferably on the same day) going over your ‘rally cry’ and the defining objectives & standard objectives.  Are you finding that your defining objectives might have been too vague (notice I redefined one of mine)?  Or did you try to over achieve?  Were the objectives too narrow that no one could fit through them?  If so, you might need to tweak it a bit.  If you find it hard doing this on your own, then maybe there is a trusted friend or spouse you could share your rally cry with and they can help you with accountability.

2. Keep it Visible

It’s one thing to have your mission statement, rally cry, & objectives written out.  It’s another thing to have them in clear view to see everyday.  Keep them posted for you to see and be reminded of who you are and where you are headed. Put them in a place you walk past every single day.

Kamille’s Scoreboard

1. What is my top priority right now?

My Rallying Cry: “Creating a gentle spirit that listens.”

Defining Objectives:

  1. Spend time in solitude every week (have scheduled internet times).
  2. Pray earnestly for the Spirit’s empowerment daily, begin with this each morning.
  3. Journal 3xs a week.
  4. Spend quality listening time with each family member everyday (start with five minutes).
  5. Cultivate a heart that allows interruptions, mess…play with the girls, embracing this daily.
  6. Update: Go to bed by 10:00, in order to have a well rested body & spirit.

Standard Objectives:

  1. Exercise & maintain health
  2. Marriage
  3. Home administration
  4. Girls & family fun (means our family of four)
  5. My Spiritual Life

2. What makes me unique?

I’ve been blessed with a sensitive spirit, which is moved into action by standing up for righteousness, especially for people. I value my relationship with Jesus and how he has imparted me with a storyteller’s heart and redeemed my story. Through this, I am called to encourage & empower my family & others to find their story and how to connect to others with it. I also value good, quality food and love creating nutritious & delicious food through cooking & baking. All of these have ignited a strong call to genuine hospitality within me.

3. How will I talk about and use the answers to this information?

I will spend time on Sunday afternoon evaluating how effective I have been in following the defining objectives.  I will include Ben on this conversation for accountability.  I will look over journal entries & track my sleep time as well for encouragement.

 

Where are you finding yourself among these questions?  Where in your life is asking to be your rally cry?  Which question seems the most discouraging or daunting?  Add to the conversation to impart your unique perspective.

 

Part 1, 2, & 3 have been influenced & inspired by Patrick Lencioni’s book The 3 Big Questions for a Frantic Family.
A Year Ago: Mascarpone Chocolate Cheesecake

A Mission Statement…Now What?


Part 1: What Makes You Unique?: Writing a Personal Mission Statement

Can I just say that I feel very “legit” and “organizational” writing up posts like this one and How to Write a Personal Mission Statement?  I’m a bit scared, not because it’s totally out of the ordinary, but how much I love this sort of thing and my nerdy side is coming out.  You might also be thinking, “how does writing a personal mission statement have anything to do with Evangitality?”  I would wage to say it has everything to do with it.  Whether, you are a free-spirit individual embracing spontaneity & labeled with a “P” on Myers-Briggs; or, you like a bit more structure, and direction of where you are headed with a “J” on Myers-Briggs…all of us need to have some element of intentionality in life.  We need to know what it is we value and who we are if we are going to show genuine love & hospitality to the many people we encounter.

So, maybe you finished your personal mission statement and are wondering what you do with it?  Or you haven’t started and you don’t know if you ever will, because let’s face it, there is still that box of old stories on tape that you promised your husband you would go through to declutter and bring order to your life (oops, maybe that’s just me?).  Either way, I believe having a mission statement is good for destination & keeping one on track.  However, a mission statement alone doesn’t help us navigate through the journey to get to the final destination, which is what question 2 of the Big 3 Questions addresses…

1. What is your rally cry?  What is your Top Priority?

It doesn’t take much to figure out your rally cry–really, it doesn’t.  Make a list of a couple things that you see right here and now as a hindrance to get to your destination.  It’s not a science.  Overthinkers need not apply.  Choose something that you can achieve within 2-6 months–that’s it.  It your rally cry can be fixed in a week, don’t choose it.  If it’s something that takes longer than 6 months…leave it alone.  Pick one thing to rally around.  Here was my list:

  1. Being gentle in my responses.
  2. Having an activity everyday for my girls.
  3. Do gross motor exercises with V everyday.
  4. Provide nutritious meals for my family.
  5. Provide spiritual growth opportunities for the girls.
  6. Develop storytelling curriculum.

As you can see, all of these happen to align with my personal mission statement.  And any of them would be good to pick.  I can stress (probably like others) about picking the best one, or wondering if I don’t pick the gross motor exercises for V then I’ll be throwing her further behind in her development.  Or if I don’t pick spiritual growth, then my girls might become spiritually destitute (a little dramatic flare thrown in for good measure).  But, when I boiled it down, I knew I wanted & needed a gentle spirit that listens above all else.  My rally cry is:

“Creating a gentle spirit that listens.”

2. Create Defining Objectives

Once you have picked your rally cry that can be accomplished in 2-6 months, write up five defining objectives on how you will get there.  These should be clear & concrete (and tangible).  Granted, my rally cry of creating a gentle spirit that listens isn’t as tangible (or even as measurable) as #2: Providing activities for my girls everyday; however, I think my rally cry is more essential to the person I desire to become.  Here are my Five Defining Objectives:

  1. Spend time in solitude every week (have scheduled internet times).
  2. Pray earnestly for the Spirit’s empowerment daily, begin with this each morning.
  3. Journal 3xs a week.
  4. Spend quality listening time with each family member everyday (start with five minutes).
  5. Cultivate a heart that allows interruptions, mess…play with the girls, embracing this daily.
  6. Update: Go to bed by 10:00, in order to have a well rested body & spirit.

Not easy, but doable.  Notice that I didn’t say I would journal everyday, or spend an hour (or even 1/2 hour) with each family member, it’s about scaling it to what I can do and building upon it.

3. Create Standard Objectives

Standard Objectives are those areas in your life that always need to get done while you focus on your rally cry.  Again, yours will look different from mine.

  1. Exercise & maintain health
  2. Marriage
  3. Home administration
  4. Girls & family fun (means our family of four)
  5. My Spiritual Life

Maybe after reading all of this you are feeling a bit overwhelmed?  I hope you give yourself grace as you walk through these steps.  Allow yourself the freedom to become intentional without legalism.  Look at your present, forgive yourself from your past failures and walk in freedom with your future.  When in doubt, watch What About Bob and begin chanting, “babysteps!”

A Year Ago: New Beginnings & Chockful Blondies and Homemade Graham Cracker Sandwiches

What Makes You Unique?: Writing a Personal Mission Statement

In the midst of life’s craziness, it would seem impossible to simply survive.  As a stay at home mom, I find myself trying to constantly balance out spending time with my girls, taking care of the house, making meals, caring for my relationship with Ben, finding time with close friends and find time for myself.  It sometimes feels like my life is like a gerbil in a spinning wheel losing sight of the goal.  Then, there are other times where I fixate on the end goal that I neglect the important right now realities of life (sound familiar to anyone?).

I began thinking & writing.  One can easily go to many of the “mom” or “homemaker” sights telling us how to bring organization to our life and maintain it (because isn’t the maintenance the hardest part).  These writers have great resources and have even inspired me.  Yet, sometimes it can be so hard to know where my unique voice is amidst the writer’s advice.  I find myself either thinking I need to be like that person, or feel completely inadequate and back to square one.  It got me thinking about who I am.  What am I about?  What is unique about me?  I went even further by asking myself, what do I want to accomplish here at Evangitality.

I had read this book, The 3 Big Questions for a Frantic Family by Patrick Lencioni, a while back.  The principles here are devising a family mission statement unique to your family, while addressing one family priority that needs to be worked on/fixed within a 2-6 month period (you work on one big issue at a time, not all of them at once).  These are the three questions  Lencioni addresses (I’m only going to address Question 1 today):

  1. What makes you unique?
  2. What is your family’s rally cry (i.e. the most important thing right now to address)?
  3. How do you talk about and use these answers to these questions?

Then, I got thinking about how I could easily write-up a personal mission statement using these principles.  My struggle is comparing myself to others & losing track of who I am.  I forget to listen to my unique voice and pay homage to it.  So, I needed something concrete & tangible to go back to when I find myself looking at what someone else is doing, or putting pressures on myself that don’t align with who I am.  Furthermore, I want to be a person who is genuine and encourages others to find who they are as well (not who I think they should be).  So, here is how I came up with my personal mission statement unique to me, Kamille.

1. What makes you unique?  Part 1: Core Values

Take a piece of paper and write Core Values on one side & Strategy Values on the other, draw a line between the two.  Core values are those attributes that are undeniable about your person.  You’ve never been able to escape them.  Think back over your life and you’ll be sure to see these core values in you even as a child.  They make you who you are–they make you…YOU!  This list should only be about five-six items and then narrow it down to two or three. Here was my short Core Values list:

  • Empathetic to others needs
  • Stand up for people
  • dramatic–storyteller
  • seeks truth
  • sensitivity/sensitive spirit
  • diplomatic in dealings
  • strong opinions

I took this list and narrowed it down and redefined, because you don’t want to use vague/general words (loyalty, love, caring) and came up with Dramatic Storyteller, Sensitive Spirit, & Seeks Righteousness (combination of justice & honesty).

2. What makes you unique? Part 2: Strategy Values

Under Strategy Values, write everything that is true about you.  This list can be as expansive as you’d like.  My list was very long.  My list included: *baker, *singer, *mom, *wife, *likes making lists, *kids under four, etc.  Then, when you’re done with the strategy values, find themes throughout.  I found that my themes were Family, People Oriented, Food & Connection.

3. Writing Your Personal Mission Statement: Putting it altogether

Take your finalized list of Core Values & Strategy Values and write a unique mission statement that describes you.  It doesn’t have to be eloquent or wordy.  It simply needs to echo who you are.  Don’t try to sound like me, or someone else.  Use your words, your language, your voice.  Your personal mission statement should be describing you.  Think of it as a map to guide you where you are headed.  You might even find yourself changing your personal mission statement when your Strategy Values change (and that’s okay).  Obviously, my mission will look different when my children are grown & out of the house.  Here is what I came up for me at this present moment in time:

I’ve been blessed with a sensitive spirit, which is moved into action by standing up for righteousness, especially for people. I value my relationship with Jesus and how he has imparted me with a storyteller’s heart and redeemed my story. Through this, I am called to encourage & empower my family & others to find their story and how to connect to others with it. I also value good, quality food and love creating nutritious & delicious food through cooking & baking. All of these have ignited a strong call to genuine hospitality within me.

I want to encourage you to find time to write-up your own personal mission statement if you don’t have one already.  I would love for you to come back here and share what you’ve come up with.  It will be exciting to see how different we all are as reflective in our Personal Mission Statements.

A Year Ago: Crafting Hospitality


Lime Roasted Sweet Potatoes

We just returned from a family getaway.  Ben had planned a surprise adventure for our family for the earlier part of January.  Unfortunately for us, we needed to reschedule to do a bit of a tornado hitting his work staff all at once, leaving Ben to tend to work.  We stayed on Discovery Bay between Sequim & Port Townsend.   The place we stayed had a kitchen, so it made meals so much easier and healthy.  There was also an indoor pool, which Tayers thought was the “big adventure,” and whenever we drove somewhere she would cry out, “I want to go on the big adventure!”

Our family time was relaxed, filled with laughter, reflection, and many joyful moments.  It was the probably the best family vacation we’ve ever been on (and I hope many follow suit).  We also experienced some breathtaking sunrises (the kind you wake up just to make sure you don’t miss it). 

I played my guitar, read, and wrote a personal mission statement, as well.  This little break helped clear my head, refocus and evaluate who I am and what I, Kamille, am called to do in this life.  It was good, so very good and yet so simple too.  It’s kind of like these Lime Roasted Sweet Potatoes.  They aren’t fussy, pretty straightforward and simplistic.  Yet, sure to dance on your palate in such a way, which leaves you looking forward to the next time you get to eat them.  I have some great things in store for Evangitality this year and I hope you will continue to join me or better yet, add to the discussion:)

A Year Ago: Banana Macadamia Praline Scones

Lime Roasted Sweet Potatoes (printable recipe)

Ingredients:
2-3 lbs sweet potatoes, scrubbed & peeled, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
2 tsp coconut oil
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup cilantro, fresh and finely chopped
Zest of one lime
Juice of one lime

Directions: Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment and put the sweet potatoes in an even layer on top. Add the coconut oil and thoroughly coat, using your hands, the sweet potatoes. Sprinkle with 1 tsp of salt. Roast for 20-25 minutes.

While the potatoes are roasting, combine lime juice, lime zest, additional 1/2 tsp salt & cilantro. Once sweet potatoes are done, transfer to a serving bowl and pour the lime/cilantro mixture over them while hot. Gently mix to combine and serve.


Coconut Lime Macaroons

So I mentioned to save those six egg whites from the Sour Cherry Grand Marnier Creme Brulee, but it’s taken a while to post a recipe.  But that seems to be life.  I’ve been in a post New Year’s state making lists of what I value, writing up a personal mission statement and embracing how life is so good.  In July I was dredging through the seas of anxiety & fear, while September came and it was more like wading.  Fear has plagued me in the past(I’m probably not the only one), and it crept up its little head again.

What I have been embracing is the present.

Looking at the little things that bring joy into my life.  Those little things when you add them all up they are exponentially greater than any fear trying to budge its way into your heart & mind.

Little things…infectious laughter of my two year old, the smile on my four year old when I pick her up from the bus, the warmth of Ben’s hand on my back, special snapshot moments with friends that remind me of heaven and sharing these little macaroons with friends while watching Anne of Green Gables.  What little things remind you of joy in this present?

A Year Ago: Grapefruit Yogurt Loaf Cake & Palace Temple & Hospitality

Coconut Lime Macaroons (printable recipe)

These little gems are perfect after you finished making the sour cherry creme brûlée, due to the leftover egg whites.  I love limes and I love coconut, so they are pretty much a great combination.  Plus, they’re a non-fuss sort of treat.

Ingredients:

6 egg whites, room temperature

1/2 cup agave nectar, or raw honey

2 cups almond flour

2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut

zest of one lime

1/4 tsp lime oil

Frosting:

1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

zest of 1/2 lime

juice of 1/2 lime

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  In the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on high speed until the egg whites are medium peaks.  Add the agave nectar or honey and salt and whip again until stiff peaks.

In a separate bowl, combine the almond flour, unsweetened coconut, lime zest & lime oil.  Combine.  Pour 1/3 of dry ingredients into whipped egg whites and fold it into the egg whites.  Continue with remaining 2/3 (in 1/3 portions) until the wet & dry ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Using a cookie scoop (about 2 Tb), scoop dough and place on the lined baking sheet 1 inch apart.  Bake for 15 minutes (look for slightly browned parts on the top, but overall white).  Cool on the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Make the frosting: Sift the powdered sugar.  Add in the butter and blend it all together using a fork.  Add the lime juice & zest.  Mix until it’s creamed together.  Taste.  If you need a bit more lime taste, then add a bit more zest.

Frost the tops of cooled macaroons.  Serve and eat!

If you want to opt out with the frosting, then up the agave or honey to 3/4 cup in the macaroons.

Sour Cherry with Grand Marnier Creme Brulee

I recall having a traditional creme brûlée years ago and not liking it. I don’t remember where, just that this raved upon dessert tasted a bit like an eggy mess.  It turned me off completely.  Then, one Valentine’s Day, six years ago my dear sweet friend and old neighbor Allison brought Valentine desserts over to Ben and me.  Allison has this knack of having mismatched, yet whimsical, plates, bowls & cups and other trinkets in her home.  She converted me to forgoing paper napkins, due to her assortment of linen napkins I would find her using with her lunch, or serving me with a cookie on it.

There she was with two little black foiled containers filled with creme brulee sitting on one eclectic small plate; along with a cut out paper heart placed on those white paper doilies.  Allison and I shared the love of eating fine food and here she was sharing this delectable creamy treat with us. As she stood there describing her love of these specific creme brulees (from a local bakery), I stood there smiling with a very thankful heart.  What I didn’t tell her was what I was thinking, which was, “Oh, how incredibly thoughtful, but I don’t like creme brulee.  I won’t let Allison know.”  I placed the plate on the table and gave Allison a big thankful hug and said goodbye.

After I shut the door I said, “Ben, Allison brought over some dessert for us for Valentine’s Day,” to which he replied, “that’s nice.”  “Yes, it was, but do you know what she brought? (because Ben knew I wasn’t fond of creme brulee),” I said, “Creme Brulee!”  I recall Ben laughing at my predicament and then asked, “well, are you going to try it?”  Like any good foodie, regardless if past experience went awry, I responded with an astounding “Yes!”

I got two spoons and dipped my spoon to remove just a little bit.  And what I tasted was nothing like scrambled eggs mixed in cream.  It was simply heavenly.  All Ben heard was, “MMM, OHH!  Ben! (another bite) This is amazing!  You have to try this! (another bite) I could eat yours if you want!”  I was transformed.  So when my dear friend Talia was coming over for a little birthday celebration, I knew I needed to make her creme brulee.  Except, I wanted to put a spin on it by adding the sour cherry with Grand Marnier filling on the bottom.  I recommend ensuring that the creme is very cold while the brulee is warm when you serve–it’s the best way to eat it in my opinion (plus, did you know sweet is more pronounced when it is warmed up, so the cold creme doesn’t allow the sugar to become overbearing).  You’ll be sure to win over even the biggest anti-creme brulee person with this dessert.

A Year Ago: Spicy Caramel Popcorn

Sour Cherry Creme Brulee with Grand Marnier (printable recipe)

Keep the egg whites to use for another recipe. And if you stay tuned, I’ll share a Coconut Lime Macaroon recipe to utilize them.  If you don’t have a blow torch, then put your cooked & chilled creme brulee ramekins in 9×13 pan (or roasting pan) and fill it with ice, in order to keep the custards VERY cold.  Turn your broiler on and put your ramekins (with the sugar on top) sitting in the ice bath directly under the broiler for only 30 seconds.  Check the sugar (brulee) to ensure it doesn’t get too burnt.  If you need it to cook a bit more, then put it back in for another 15 seconds and continue until it reaches your desired burnt sugar liking.

Sour Cherry Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 pound fresh/frozen sour cherries ( I used frozen sour cherries that were fresh in the summer)
  • 1-2 Tb raw honey
  • 1 Tb arrowroot powder
  • 2-4 Tb Grand Marnier

Creme Brulee Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup evaporated cane juice sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out
  • 1 tsp Grand Marnier (optional)
  • 6 egg yolks, large eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar for brulee part

Sour Cherry Filling:

Put all of the cherries, along with the juices into a heavy-bottomed saucepan (ensure there are no seeds in the cherries). Turn the heat to medium. If your cherries are frozen, wait before adding any of the other ingredients until the cherries are completely thawed. If your cherries are thawed or fresh, add 1 Tb of honey and allow to bubble, stirring occasionally. Keep it in this stage for about 10 minutes. You are working towards a nice filling consistency.

Sprinkle the arrowroot over the cherries and mix thoroughly. If the mixture is bubbling rapidly, turn the heat down, in order to avoid burning. You want it to simmer/bubble. The filling should start to set as you stir occasionally. Taste throughout to see where the filling sweetness is at. If you feel that the filling needs another tablespoon of honey, add it now. Once the filling has thickened (dip a metal spoon in the filling and it should coat it), add two tablespoon of Grand Marnier (I used 2 Tb). Adding more than two tablespoons will make the filling taste more boozy; however, once the filling is added to the ramekins and cooked with the creme, the Grand Marnier burns off a bit with just two tablespoons. Cook on stove top for an additional minute, then remove from heat to cool.

Creme Brulee Ingredients:

Combine the milk, cream, sugar, salt, and vanilla bean in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until it reaches the boiling point. Set aside to steep until it cools down.

Preheat oven to 300 F, and adjust a rack slightly lower than center.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks & optional 1 tsp of Grand Marnier briefly. Add the cream mixture very slowly into the yolks, whisking well with each addition. Once blended, strain the mixture through a fine sieve. Put cherry filling into 8 or 9 (4-ounce) shallow ramekins (about 2 inches high) to cover bottom (about 2 tsp), then pour the custard mixture on top of the cherry filling, and bake them in a water bath for 35 to 45 minutes, until centers are softly set. “Remove from oven and cool in water bath until comfortable to handle. Cover the dishes and refrigerate for 2 hours. These can be stored for 1 or 2 days before serving.

To serve, sprinkle each top with about 1 1/2 teaspoons of brulee sugar and torch to caramelize. For thicker caramelized crunch, use more sugar.


Gluten-free Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

Does anyone else feel like there is something altogether wonderful & magical about snow falling in the middle of the night, creating a quiet peace that is incomparable to any other? I wasn’t acquainted with this mystery in the deserts of Arizona. It wasn’t until I visited a high school friend during my freshman year Spring break in Providence, RI. It was a Friday, and all the students on the campus had left for their Spring break. Not only
was the campus and surrounding area quiet, but we soon found ourselves inside looking out to what would seem a snow globe world. Picturesque.

It reminds me of Arizona’s desert night sky. When you look up at the open clear sky, all you see is the infinite expanse of stars. Or what I refer to as “the stars beyond the stars.” Snow falling and covering the world at night creates the silence of peace beyond the silence. It reminds me of how finite I am amidst the vast accompaniment of sound. That’s a bit how I feel with every birthday celebrated, especially my kids’ birthday. This finite person, gets to relish in these moments of seeing the stars beyond the stars. Yet I get distracted or overwhelmed by the greatness of it all…the mystery. I would rather spend my time marveling and rejoicing over the unknown, the stillness of the fallen snow, or simply being given the pleasure to be still with the moment.

These moments, these treasures that I wish I could put in a locket and wear around my neck to serve as a reminder that life is worth living to its fullest.  When I see my daughters laugh and hug one another, when I see the white flag of humility waving, or when I see Veronica’s progress developmentally and she isn’t even aware she has a delay (because she sees the stars beyond the stars).  Oh how wonderful it is to look at the world like that.  I think having Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes also makes it easier for a four years old (or 30, 40, 50 yrs).

A Year Ago: Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes, Split Pea Soup, & Mustard Roasted Cauliflower

Gluten-free Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes (printable recipe)

This recipe has been adapted from my non-GF recipe.  Both are wonderful and they are a sure hit at kid’s parties and the adults like to eat them too.  A note about measuring almond flour.  I use a blanched almond flour and I scoop it out with a spoon and put it in my measuring cup.  I encourage you to use a scale, which will get the most accurate results; however, I know that is not always an option.  Do NOT scoop out with your measuring cup, because it will yield a higher weight than what my recipe requires.

Cupcakes Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups (180 g) almond flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (120 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (65 g) light agave nectar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup (170 g) whole milk
  • 1/4 cup (30 g) multi-colored confetti sprinkles
  • 12 cupcake GF sugar wafer cones

Whipped Cream Frosting

  • 1 cup cold heavy whipping cream
  • 1-2 Tb light agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 350.  Place the wafer cones in the muffin pan.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter & sugar until well blended.  Beat in the egg and vanilla until light.  With the mixer on low speed, gradually add half of the almond flour mixture, then the milk and then the rest of the flour mixture until well blended.  Fold in the confetti sprinkles into the batter.  Using a small ice cream scooper/cookie dough scooper, divide the batter evenly among the 12 cupcake cones.
  • Bake the cupcake cones for 20-25 minutes.  When you press lightly in the middle of the cone, they should spring back.  Let them cool on a cooling rack until they’re completely cooled.
  • While the cupcakes are in the oven.  Put your metal mixing bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer.  Allow them to get cold (about 15 minutes).  Remove the bowl & whisk attachment.  Add cold heavy whipping cream to the bowl.  Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form.  Add the agave nectar & vanilla and beat on low speed a bit more, just until they are mixed throughout the whipped cream.  If you want to add a color to it, do so now and fold it in with a rubber spatula.
  • Prepare a pastry bag fitted with a star tip.  Twist the bag right above the tip and push it gently inside the tip, in order to avoid the frosting from coming out.  Turn down the opened end of the bag one inch down.  Place the pastry bag, tip side down, into a glass.  Using a rubber spatula, fill the bag with the whipped cream frosting.  Twist the bag, in order to keep the frosting from squeezing out.  Pipe the whipped cream frosting onto the cupcakes and sprinkle with additional confetti sprinkles.