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Espresso and Cream Behind the Scenes // The Newsletter!

July 25, 2018

At the beginning of the year I had a LONG bucket list of items that I wanted to complete. Half way (over half way) through the year I’m afraid to say that I have a lot of work left to do in order to check those items off said list, but I’m working on it. One of the things that is LONG overdue for the blog is creating an e-newsletter to share behind-the-scenes content for you all. Basically, if you’re a reader of E&C and like the content that goes up on the site, then you’ll find the newsletter to be even better.

I’ve been trying to do a better job of meal planning and prepping each week, and, spoiler alert, it’s been SAVING my life over the last month. Maybe that sounds dramatic, but it’s true. The dinnertime hour had become SO stressful for our family (okay, for me) and doing a little weekly meal plan, some simple prep for the week on Sundays, and the amount of stress it’s saved me at dinnertime has been unreal.

Let me be clear, I am NOT cooking from a recipe each night of the week. In fact, I’m hardly ever cooking from a recipe. I’ve just been sketching out general plans with easy-to-make proteins, vegetables and some sort of whole grain/carb to round out the meal. While our meals aren’t fancy on any given week, it’s been so great to have a healthy and balanced meal planned out and shopped for, with a few things prepared in advance to toss on the plate.

I’m hoping to share more of our meal planning and prepping process along the way. I can’t promise it will be polished and pretty, but it will be useful, honest and hopefully make your life easier like it’s made mine! I’ll be share some beauty tips and tricks, recipes, and other behind-the-scenes content along the way as well.

You can sign up HERE.

Madison

Family

Grilling Pizza + Rosé Wine

July 23, 2018

This post is sponsored by Olema Wines. Well, they didn’t pay me to write the post, but they did send me some yummy wine in hopes that I would love it enough to talk about it and guess what? It was awesome, so I’m sharing it with you today! Thanks for supporting the brands that support Espresso and Cream! 

Summer has gone so quickly this year! Anyone else? I think it’s due in large part to the fact that we have been working on our patio project ALL summer long and this weekend we finally got it finished! I guess saying “finished” is a little misleading because now our yard looks like a hot mess filled with dirt and piles of rock and we haven’t even started the landscaping around the patio, but the actual patio is finished and I am SO proud of Joe for all the hard work he put into making this possible. He worked alongside a friend who had some landscaping experience and helped with the technical parts of the patio, but the amount of dirt-moving and manual labor that Joe put into this patio is crazy. It also helped us save a LOT of money doing so much work ourselves. A full patio project recap is now in the works, but in the meantime., I’m going to talk about pizza and wine, mmmkay?

We christened our new patio by having a few friends over for grilled pizza + wine and every time I make grilled pizzas for a group I’m reminded why we need to do so more often. We’ve been grilling pizzas for years, and while it’s a little more hands-on than, say, grilling meat, it’s definitely fun to do something different outside of the typical burgers + brats + chicken, etc on the grill. By the end of the summer, we are ready for something fresh. Sitting under our patio table umbrella, drinking some really great rosé wine from Olema Wines, and eating grilled pizza, salad, fresh green beans and mixed berries felt almost like we were transported somewhere much fancier than our house, minus the giant dirt piles and general disarray of our yard. Ha!

While I’m typically a red wine drinker, the hottest months of the summer really do make chilled white and rosé wine my go-to when entertaining. Actually, I tend to think a rosé on the drier side, like this 2017 Olema Rosé, really are the perfect wines to serve at a party since they tend to be crowd-pleasing and ultra refreshing. Plus, the price point ($16/bottle) is about what Joe and I tend to spend on a bottle of wine – bridging the gap between price consciousness and the quality that we expect when drinking wine. I’m not the most knowledgable wine drinker but I do know what I like! 🙂

I will say that I have *no* idea if rosé wine is a good pairing with grilled pizza from an expert’s perspective, but I thought the entire meal was delicious! So let’s talk a bit about grilling pizza, shall we?

A few tips I’ve learned to help make grilling pizzas better + easier + tastier:

  1. Make sure your grill is HOT. Like 450°F – 500°F hot and that your grill grates are clean. Sometimes I’ll get the grill really hot first and then give the grates one more cleaning with a grill brush to make sure they are super clean. Dirty grill grates will stick to the pizza dough and leave you with a mess.
  2. Put together a “toppings tray” ahead of time. We’re talking everything you need to top your pizzas, including olive oil + pastry brush, pizza sauce, cheese + fresh basil and whatever else you want to use for pizza toppings. Grilling pizza at a high temp on the grill goes FAST so you need to be ready to top the pizzas quickly.
  3. Don’t top the pizzas too heavily. The thin dough doesn’t need a lot of sauce and toppings. In fact, it’s better if you use a light hand when topping with sauce, cheese and toppings as to not overwhelm the dough.
  4. Be sure to stretch the dough thin enough. You want to stretch it out as thin as you comfortably can without ripping holes in the dough. The grill is HOT meaning you can’t leave the dough on too long before it burns. A little char is good, too much isn’t, so you want the dough thin enough that it cooks through before you need to remove the pizza from the grill.

Perfect Grilled Pizza Dough
Serves: 4 personal pizzas
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup warm water
  • ½ teaspoon instant dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
Instructions
  1. Place warm water in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with the yeast and allow the yeast to dissolve for a minute. Whisk together to combine. (Important Note: You should see some bubbles in the water, which means that the yeast is active, if you don't see any bubbles you may have old yeast or the water was too warm and it killed the yeast.)
  2. Add the salt and 2½ cups of the all-purpose flour to the water mixture and use a rubber spatula to combine. Transfer mixture to a lightly-floured surface and gradually kneed in the remaining ½ cup flour over the course of a couple minutes, adding a little at a time. The dough should be smooth and elastic, and just the tiniest bit sticky but not so sticky that it easily sticks to your hands. Add additional flour if necessary, a tiny bit at a time.
  3. Transfer dough to a lightly greased mixing bowl and cover with a towel. Allow to sit in a draft-free location to rise for 2 to 3 hours, until dough is doubled in size.
  4. Punch down dough and cut into four pieces. Form each piece into a round. Stretch each round into a thin disc (see note above in the tips) using extra flour if you need to prevent sticking.
  5. To Grill:
  6. Heat grill to the hottest it will go - around 450°F to 500°F. Once grill grates are good and hot, brush dough lightly with olive oil. Place the oiled side on grill grates. Cover and cook 2 to 3 minutes until dough is charred and bubbly. Brush uncooked side of dough with olive oil and flip. Quickly top with sauce, cheese and desired toppings. Cover and cook 2 to 4 minutes more until cheese is melted and dough is cooked through. Transfer to a cutting board and top with fresh basil, grated Parmesan cheese and crushed red pepper, if desired. Cut into strips to serve.

Madison

Family

Boosting My Immunity + ACV Slushy

June 17, 2018

It’s not shock to most of you that since having kids I’ve been sick a LOT. Recurrent sinus issues, cold after cold, I even had the stomach flu three times one winter when Ainsley was little – probably because my gut health was compromised thanks to all the antibiotics I had to take to help my sinus infections. I had sinus surgery back in the fall of last year, and while it did help to some degree, just a few weeks ago I got my first sinus infection after having the surgery, followed quickly by another cold and yet another sinus infection.

The whole experience left me feeling really discouraged. I was hoping that I would be healthy following my sinus surgery and getting sick + a couple rounds of antibiotics left me feeling a little down about my overall health and immunity.

Now don’t get me wrong, I expected to get colds after my surgery. Colds happen, I know, but my body’s constant inability to fight off those colds and the resulting complications was starting to make me question what I was doing wrong that was leaving my immune system in such a weak place.

I decided that things had to change, so after doing some research and a little talking with my husband about my lifestyle these days, I landed on a few major changes that might be of help to you, too!

Get More Sleep // I put this first because I think it’s the biggest contributing factor to my recurrent illnesses. I have not been sleeping enough. By the time the girls go down to bed, I’m craving some down time with Joe. We have been pushing bed time back later and later while working on this patio project and other projects around our home. The mornings are MY time, and time that I’m not willing to sacrifice. I love being up early, before everyone else wakes up. Between the later evenings and early mornings I was getting around 6 hours of sleep per night. I didn’t feel tired, per se, but I was definitely weakening my immunity. So setting a goal to get at least 7 if not 8 hours per night is the new norm.

Improve My Supplement Game // I have really fallen off my consistent supplement game, so I’m re-committing to the supplements I already take and adding in a few additional supplements to help specifically boost immunity. Those being:

*Seeking Health Optimal Prenatal / Packed with methylated B vitamins and a host of other important nutrients for optimal health

*Garden of Life D Supplement / There is a strong link between sufficient vitamin D and a high functioning immune system. Even in the summer months, chances are I’m not getting enough vitamin D from the sun alone.

*Plexus ProBio 5 and Bio Cleanse / For gut health! Especially after taking antibiotics, I know it’s important to rebuild gut health. I’m sure there are other probiotics that may get recommended or be superior, but this has worked well for me, it’s easy to access and easy to take when I actually remember to do so. (I’ve linked to our babysitter Karli’s site in the link above.)

*Iron / Since I’m vegetarian, I know that in addition to a healthy diet taking an iron supplement is also important. I’ve read a few articles that link lower iron levels to weakened immunity, so I’m hoping to ward that off.

Exercise Smarter // I’ll admit that I’ve probably been pushing my body a little too hard lately in terms of exercise. Half marathon training + 80 Day Obsession + being active with the girls + getting too little sleep + working a little too hard + trying to do ALL THE THINGS hasn’t really benefitted my immune system. I’m taking part in the free Mind, Body, Pilates Challenge starting this week with my friend, Robin, and I’m excited to embrace a slower and smarter way of working out.

After the challenge, I’m excited to try the new program from Beachbody – Lift 4 – which is a new program I’m so excited about. It’s only four days of the week and the workouts are around 30 minutes in length. Perfect for my schedule and much easier to do than the longer workouts I had done previously as part of 80 Day Obsession.

Use a Humidifier at Night // People swear by using a humidifier in their bedroom to aid with sinus issues and combat colds. I’ve never embraced the idea previously because I didn’t think it could possibly really make a difference, but hearing so many people tell me that it helped gave me the nudge to finally bite the bullet and give it a try. I just bought this one and will report back!

Continue On With… // Things that I’m already doing, like drinking water, drinking apple cider vinegar, eating lots of vegetables and healthy food, etc.

PS: If you want a stellar summer slushy using Apple Cider Vinegar, the girls and I have been loving this during the hot summer days! See the “recipe” below.

ACV Slushy
Serves: 2 to 3 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 8 to 12 ounces sparkling water
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 1 cup frozen pineapple chunks
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • Splash of lemon juice
  • Stevia to taste
Instructions
  1. Combine the water, ice cubes, pineapple chunks, apple cider vinegar and lemon juice in a high powered blender. Blend on high for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until very smooth and ice is blended well. Add stevia to taste. Serve immediately.

 

Protein Peanut Butter Toast

May 22, 2018

Good morning and happy Tuesday, friends! I shared this photo on my Instagram this week but also wanted to take a minute and put down the “recipe” if you will so others can recreate what is now my favorite new breakfast. It may sound a little strange, but trust me when I say that this combination is super yummy, satisfying and packed with protein and healthy carbs.

I make a lot of “strange” things like this for breakfast, healthy snacks, lunch and more. Joe says I’m always making things like this, and it’s true. They may sound or look a little strange, but I promise that they’re tasty and good for you. That’s the thing – as someone who loves carbs and has a sweet tooth – most of these strange little recipes taste decadent and sweet but are still good for you and don’t leave you with a sugar hangover.

Protein Peanut Butter Toast
Serves: 1 serving
 
Ingredients
  • 2 slices sprouted grain toast (I like Ezekiel brand)
  • ¼ cup powdered peanut butter (like PB2)
  • ½ scoop vanilla protein powder (I use Vegan Vanilla Shakeology)
  • Unsweetened almond milk
  • ¼ to ½ cup raspberries or other berry of choice (bananas are great, too)
  • Honey and chia seeds (optional)
Instructions
  1. Toast the sprouted grain bread.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine the peanut butter powder, vanilla protein powder, and enough almond milk to reach a thick yet spreadable consistency. Spread the peanut butter mixture on the toasted bread. Top with the berries or banana. Drizzle very lightly with honey, if desired, and sprinkle with chia seeds.

 

Healthy Chocolate-Peanut Butter Truffles

March 20, 2018

I’m the queen of healthy snacks that taste a little indulgent without totally busting your clean eating plan. I’ll be the first to admit that I just have to have a little something sweet at the end of the night but rarely does that “something sweet” include truly indulgent choices. I’ve found over the years that the less sugar I consume, the less I can handle refined sugars. So I try to steer clear of them as much as possible.

Instead, I’ve found a number of easy-to-make and tasty “treats” that don’t leave you feeling heavy, weighed down or with a nasty sugar crash after the fact. I’m hoping to share more of my sweet treat hacks on the blog, since I’m guessing that I’m not the only person reading who likes to enjoy something like this at the end of the day.

A few notes about this recipe: The truffles are made with creamy peanut butter of the traditional variety of peanut butter (Skippy Natural, to be exact) not the looser, grainy “natural” peanut butters that you might have in your pantry. You’re welcome to try using that kind, but I can’t vouch it will work. The protein powder I used was a 100% whey protein that is just barely sweetened. If your protein powder has a lot of natural or artificial sweetener in it, you may find that these are pretty sweet with the honey. However, the honey is necessary to maintain the truffle consistency.

Healthy Chocolate-Peanut Butter Truffles
Serves: 18
 
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup creamy peanut butter
  • ½ cup powdered peanut butter (PB2 or similar)
  • ½ cup chocolate whey protein powder
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup honey
  • Pinch of salt
  • Additional cocoa powder for rolling truffles (if desired)
Instructions
  1. In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the peanut butter, powdered peanut butter, protein powder, cocoa powder, honey and salt. Mix 1 to 2 minutes on medium speed until mixture is well combined and starts to come together in clumps. Scoop by heaping tablespoons and roll between your hands to form a ball. Roll each ball in additional cocoa powder to coat. Enjoy right away or store in the refrigerator in a zip-top bag or resealable storage container until ready to eat.