Cafe Culture

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I’ve been achingly nostalgic this week about Europe and every piece of me wants to go back as soon as I can.  When talking to Matty about it, the biggest pull for me has been the cafe culture that I saw everywhere while in France and Italy earlier this spring. I miss the rows of colorful chairs, the outdoor heaters, the coffee in the morning, espressos at mid-day, and wine in the evenings – all enjoyed slowly and with friends.  The mindset of sitting down and enjoying a cappuccino or espresso instead of putting it in a paper cup and running off to work is what got me thinking about how I can maybe enjoy my own little slice of cafe culture here at home.

I have an espresso maker, so I got the idea late last week to indulge a little in an afternoon espresso…. after all, who couldn’t use an afternoon pick-me-up? I will admit however, as non-European as it is, that I can’t drink espresso plain.  Because I’m a wimp. So, I created the most perfect little mid-day sipper that I’m sure will become a new favorite with the most surprising ingredient.

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Whole 30 Sangria

whole 30 cocktail

Ok, I’m going to disappoint a lot of you here, but this Sangria has no alcohol. WHAT?!?! Yes, you read that right.  Sans alcohol, alcohol free, virgin. Which leads you to your second thought… why in the world would you want to drink a cocktail without the best part? Well, mostly because Matt and I are smack in the midst of another Whole 30.  So, we haven’t been drinking for the last 20 days.  In that 20 days, I got really really nostalgic about summer happy hour. I was just drinking my sparkling water with lime and was a little underwhelmed. I also have a few pregnant friends right now, and I think they were feeling a little underwhelmed with their drink choices too, so I whipped this recipe up.

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Here is how the idea came to me, I was minding my own business at the grocery store last week and picked up a bottle of Kombucha (which is Whole 30 friendly) and thought that although it’s super trendy and that kind of bothers me, I’d give it a try anyway.   I immediately wondered where this had been all my life and why I had been reluctant.  It’s my new favorite thing – whole 30 or not.

The Kombucha (if you’ve never had it) is a fermented tea that has live and active cultures (like yogurt, but I detest yogurt).  When I opened that first bottle, I was pleasantly surprised that it’s lightly effervescent, and has a little bit of an acidic kick (like other fermented things (sauerkraut, kimchi… wine?!?!)). The idea of wine popped right into my head and I thought, this would make an amazing sangria.  A sangria that is alcohol free, low in sugar, and has those active cultures?!  Sign me up. [Read more…]

Margarita Popsicles

margarita popsicles

It’s summertime!!  Well… technically not until after this weekend, but I like to start early.  Usually, I’m not a huge popsicle fan… I know, crazy…but I just feel like it’s kind of a waste of calories.  If I’m having something ice cold, I would like it to be a cocktail. This genius recipe blends both of these summertime favorites into one delectable cocktail on a stick.  And what is better than food on a stick?  Cocktails on a stick, that’s what.  Specifically, a margarita on a stick.

The best part about this recipe is that it’s crazy easy and pretty fool proof.  It utilizes store-bought margarita mix (I prefer all natural Tres Agaves) so there really isn’t much mixing required.  There is one small spin on this recipe that makes it tart and not too sweet (like most mixes can be). This little addition made all the difference in the world. [Read more…]

Healthy + Heavenly Chocolate Ice Cream

paleo chocolate ice cream

I suppose you can’t technically call this ‘ice cream’ since there isn’t a bit of cream in the recipe.  There is, however, a bit of almond milk, so I’m going forward calling it ice cream. Last summer when I was doing the whole 30, I kept a lot of the habits I learned during those 30 days and still like to make a lot of recipes that are dairy, soy, and grain free.  This week, I was craving some ice cream and although I didn’t have any in the freezer, I knew I had a few things on hand that would make a good (and good for me) ice cream in about 10 minutes. There are a couple secrets in this sauce, so to speak, and I think one of them might freak you out a little… How’s that for a segue?  [Read more…]

Ciao Bella! Italian Limoncello Recipe

italiano limoncello recipe

It’s been a week since I’ve been back from Italy and the warm weather we’ve been having has been giving me some serious nostalgia about the Italian coast.  Part of the nostalgia is the lemon everything we encountered while on in Positano – especially the limoncello. While in Monterosso (further north up the coast), I did a little limoncello tasting at a small shop which made their own and the woman actually gave me her recipe.  I think she knew full well that I wouldn’t have access to the same ingredients (Mediterranean lemons, that is), so I wouldn’t be a huge danger to her business.  Needless to say, I got right home and flexed my lemon liquor muscles and since it takes some time to make, we need to get yours started now.

If you’ve never had limoncello, it’s an aperitif and it’s tart, sweet, and strong!  In Italy, a lot of restaurants just bring it to your table after the meal totally for gratis… and believe me, it’s appreciated.  Like I said, it takes some time to make (about a month and a half or longer) said the woman in Monterosso and you can let it steep for longer if you’re able to stand it.  There are recipes online that take a lot less time, but let me say… if it seems to be too good to be true, it is.  And good things take time… all of those cliches hold true with limoncello. [Read more…]