10 Days Until Christmas: Festive Centerpieces

TEN DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS. Holy Moly. My list of things to do seems longer now than it did a week ago!

Our Christmas decorations have been up for a couple of weeks now, but I’m still missing a centerpiece for the table (I’m also hosting Christmas Breakfast at my house). Here are some easy centerpieces that still look elegant and festive.

Supplies you may need:

  • Jars
  • Vases of varying sizes
  • Candles
  • Ornaments
  • Cranberries
  • Flowers
  • Pine cones
  • Pine branches/sprigs
  • Ribbon (anyone else LOVE ribbon?)

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No-Fail, No-Knead Bread for Thanksgiving (or any occasion)

Crusty loaf ready to eat!

I was recruited to make the bread for the Thanksgiving celebration with my in-laws. I’ve made bread a few times – every single time using the no-knead bread recipe that is all over the internet. Since I haven’t yet made it (waiting for the last possible minute so that maybe I can bring the bread warm!), I don’t have any pictures (haven’t made it in such a long time since we have been eating mostly grain-free!).

The classic recipe was made popular by the New York Times, as adapted from Sullivan Street Bakery. Here are the ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
  • ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt
  • 1 5/8 cups water
  • Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed (optional)

I like to make it a little more different to add some flavor. Here’s my version of the no-fail, no-knead bread:

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Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas with Green Sauce

While my husband and I are for the most part, grain-free, we do allow ourselves cheats or treats occasionally. Chicken Enchiladas are one of our favorite leftover-chicken-meals and it’s quick, easy, and flavorful.

Disclaimer: These are white girl enchiladas, but I still maintain that they taste pretty good.

Chicken Enchiladas with Green Sauce

A small batch on Enchiladas before going into the oven.

Exact measurements aren’t important when it comes to making these. You can make as little or as much as you want, just adjust the ingredient amounts. I have listed the amounts we usually use, but these are in no way, the only amounts in which to make enchiladas. Play around with what works for you!

Ingredients:

  • Leftover chicken, shredded (approx. 1/2-1 full size chicken)
  • 1 jar salsa verde, divided (we like the one from Trader Joes)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream + more for serving
  • 1/2-1 lb pepper jack cheese, shredded and divided
  • Flour tortillas (Depends on size, but we usually use 3-8 tortillas)
  • Optional: Seasonings for chicken (Cumin, garlic, chili powder, etc.)
  • Other optional ingredients: Green chiles, olives, and veggies

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease pirex dish or other pan.
  • Mix shredded chicken, 1/4 cup sour cream, 1/3 jar salsa verde, 1/4-1/2 amount of cheese, and any other seasonings or ingredients.
  • Spoon into center or tortilla, and roll tortilla. Place tortilla roll seam side down in dish. Continue until you use all of the chicken mixture.
  • Spread 1/3 jar of salsa verde on top of enchiladas and the sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top.
  • Bake 10-15 minutes or until cheese it melted and enchiladas are cooked all the way through.
  • Serve with sour cream and green sauce.

This small batch on Enchiladas uses 3 large sprouted tortillas and has green chiles in the filling

Quick and easy retro hairstyle

The internet can be a wonderful thing. Whenever you want to learn how to do something all you have to do is open up your computer and type in your search. One day I was browsing rockabilly and vintage hairstyles on YouTube and came across a great tutorial for how to do faux victory rolls. This hairstyle is often my go-to do and works great for next-day hair. Unfortunately, I went to look for it and I can not find it! I couldn’t find anything like it on YouTube, so perhaps it doesn’t exist, or I am just not looking for it correctly.

I know it’s not as fantastic as a video, but here is how to do a fake victory-roll inspired hair-do via pictures and instructions: (please forgive the awkward photos and facial expressions)

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Gazpacho Recipes

We picked up our CSA box yesterday; it was full of an assortment of vegetables and fruit and even a very tasty watermelon. The weekly newsletter included two recipes for gazpacho. I’ve never made gazpacho before, but it seemed like a great way to use several different vegetables at once.

There was a recipe for Watermelon Gazpacho from All Recipes, and a recipe for Gazpacho Soup from Raw Foods Diet Center.

The Watermelon Gazpacho had a lot more ingredients so I decided to try the Gazpacho Soup.

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Berry Good Goat Cheese Tarts

Gluten-free goat cheese tarts with blueberry compote

I bought goat cheese at the store the other today in hopes of recreating a magical coconut goat cheese tart I had a couple weeks ago. I haven’t bought the coconut yet, but I still wanted to bake something. I also didn’t want to spend a long time over a hot oven in the middle of summer. I opted for mini tarts and no-bake cheese cake filling with goat cheese. And because I still have a ton of blueberries left, I also whipped up a quick batch of blueberry compote.

The little tarts taste even better after being in the fridge and completely chilled, but eating them warm won’t do any harm either.

Quick Gluten-Free Cheesecake Tarts with Goat Cheese and Blueberries
Makes 10 mini-tarts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Grease muffin tins – I like to then put a little strip of tinfoil in the cups (where the ends reach above the cup) and grease that as well, so that when the tarts are cooked, the strips can be pulled up to release the cups easily.

Tart Crusts:
3/4 cups almond meal
1/2 cups coconut flour
4 TBSP butter, cut into chunks
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp maple syrup
3-5 tsp of water

Mix almond meal and coconut flour together in a bowl. Using a pastry cutter, a fork, your hands, or whatever works for you, cut cold butter into flour mixture until crumbly.  Mix in vanilla and maple syrup. Add water, one tsp at a time until mixture becomes a dough consistency and can be formed into a ball. Press dough into greased muffin tin. Poke bottom of each dough cup with a fork a couple of times to prevent dough from rising. Bake 8-10 minutes or until they start to brown and are firm to touch.  Let stand for a couple of minutes and carefully remove crusts and let them finish cooling on a wire rack.

Blueberry Compote
3/4 cup blueberries
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp honey
1/2 tsp arrowroot

In a small sauce pan, combine all ingredients. Cook on med heat, stirring occasionally. Smash berries and cook for approximately 8 minutes or so, while you prepare the cheesecake filling and finish baking the tart crusts. Place in bowl and let cool in the refrigerator.

Cheesecake Filling:
8 oz goat cheese (I used goat cheese w/honey)
3 tbsp cream
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp coconut butter
2 tsp maple syrup
2 tsp honey
1/2 tsp arrowroot

Using a stand mixer, mix all ingredients  for 3 minutes or until perfectly smooth and creamy.

Assembly:

After the tarts have cooled, gently spoon cheesecake mixture into crusts. Place mini-tarts in the fridge and allow to set for at least an hour, or until firm. Serve with a spoonful of blueberry compote on top.

Variations:

Add lemon juice or other flavor to cheese mixture
Make different fruit compotes – strawberry, blackberry, or a mixed berry, apricot, cherry, the options are endless
Use cheesecake filling for cupcake fillings or even as frosting – just add additional liquid for desired consistency
Mix fruit and cheese mixtures and use for pancake topping

 

How to Make a Hair Flower or Brooch Clip

Here I use two small flowers

I wear a lot of hair flowers. I also see a lot of them on sale for outrageous amounts; that’s why I make my own. You can too! Never buy a hair flower again – make your own hair flowers that can double as a brooch! It’s easy, inexpensive, and has endless varieties.

Supplies:

Silk or fabric flowers (a flat flower works best, such as daisies or orchids)
Alligator Brooch Clips
Hot glue gun
Fabric or felt scraps
Pliers or metal cutters (to trim flowers)

Find flowers that are fairly flat and the size you want

Directions:

Remove flower from stems and cut as close to flower as possible – you want the flower to have as flat of a back as possible. You may have to glue some flower layers back together.

Depending on how flat the flower is, you may or may not need to use a pad under the clip. If needed, glue a piece of fabric or felt the same size or slightly bigger than the clip where you will glue the clip onto.

If you use fabric, the cloth may fray with use. Felt is a better option if you have any.

Glue the clip to the back of flower

Or you can glue the clip straight to the flower

And after it dries – congrats! You have your own hair flower/brooch! Wear in your hair, pin to your sweater or bag!

Add feathers under the petals, use vintage flowers, add or remove different petal layers from different flowers, or put a cab into the center of the flower for more variety.

How to wear hair flowers:

I like to wear the flowers either with my hair half up and the flower to the side (as pictured above), behind the ear when my hair is down (like my avatar photo), or to the side of my “poof” as shown below. If you are wearing a low pony tail, you can also clip the flower on the side of the ponytail (wearing a low side ponytail looks cute this way). If you want more ideas for flower and how to wear them, you can just do a search on Etsy, and see how other people are making and wearing them.

Fabric flower with feathers, worn to the side of a "poof" (and not a very good poof on that day)