Month: April 2014

Almond, Lemon, Poppyseed Loaf



It is finally starting to feel like Summer! I love Summer until about July time and then I am over it. After that I just get tired of the sweaty/sticky grossness, no sheets sleeping, bathing suit only wearing, bug bite landing pad, downright this weather is too darn bright and hot! Bleh! I know that’s a lot for you to retain. Thank goodness its only April so you wont have to hear that rant for a few more months.


For now, the weather is perfect and Graeyson and I don’t have a care in the world this week, except posting some blogs! We will be reporting to you from sunny San Diego this week as per our usual routine of visiting the husband every other week. #when will this be over!!# We can’t wait to finally be in the same household again. And as it still seems so far away, we are almost there! I can taste it!


Speaking of tasting it. Looks below! I am telling you right now you need to make this immediately (okay, if you are being lazy at work and reading this you can wait until you get home, but if you are not then get in the kitchen!) because it is for sure one of the best things ever! I swear to you, your mind will be blown when you find out there is no butter, nasty oils, cream, or white flour in sight. The only dairy in here is greek yogurt. I am calling this the “Almond, Lemon, Poppyseed Loaf.” I should really call it poundcake or crack for short. It is that good. You are going to say to yourself, “Self, how is this healthy for me, it tastes amazing!!” I know because I had the same conversation with myself but, I made it and I wrote the recipe so I am telling you it is true. Every time I make this bad boy it is gone within a day. It will not last! Especially if you have a cookie monster Graeyson like me.


So enjoy it while you can because it is going to go fast!

Until next time!

x Nicole

Almond, Lemon, Poppyseed Loaf
Author: Nicole Nilsen
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8 slices
  • 2/3 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1 cup agave
  • 3 large eggs, beaten (MUST be room temperature, if you forget to set them out for a while before you start put them in a bowl of warm water until they are no longer cold)
  • 2/3 cup greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups spelt flour, sifted (MUST be sifted)
  • 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoons Xantham Gum
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt
  1. Preheat your oven to 295 degrees
  2. Grease a loaf pan (don’t use glass, it must be the metal one) and set aside
  3. Take out two large mixing bowls.
  4. In the first one mix together the oil, agave, eggs, greek yogurt, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons of the lemon zest and almond extract
  5. In the second bowl mix together the sifted spelt flour, baking soda, Xantham Gum, baking powder and salt
  6. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix well
  7. Fold in the poppy seeds
  8. Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake for 55 minutes uncovered and 10 minutes covered with foil. It will bake for a total of 1 hour and 5 minutes on 295 degrees.
  9. You can cover the loaf with foil as soon as it is the the right color you want. I found it to be at about 55 minutes.
  10. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before cutting and serving

Meat Lover’s Breakfast Strata


Somedays I am really lazy, I mean so lazy that I don’t even leave the house or change out of my pajamas. Those types of mornings I drag out of bed and cross my fingers that some magical fairy made something for me the night before and just threw it in my fridge. Wouldn’t that be nice? Oh magical fairy, where are you?


Since I can’t have a magical fairy or a husband that can make anything past a bowl of cereal, no offense babe, breakfast strata’s are the next best thing. You prepare it the night before, it soaks in all the yumminess while you are off counting sheep in the night and then bam all you have to do is preheat the oven and throw the strata in.


Okay, I can handle that. Two steps in the morning. Preheat oven and put in oven. That sounds like a caveman. I bet a caveman could even do this! There ought to be more meals like this. What an awesome lazy Saturday meal! Or Sunday, or Monday, or Tuesday… Okay lets just say Monday thru Sunday!


Breakfast strata typically has a lot more bread, but since my recipes are not “typical,” something had to change! Honestly, this is way better! I try to stay away from all the bread, plus it isn’t adding any flavor. This is where ham and sausage come in. I used a couple cups of our leftover Easter ham. I have made so many things with that ham and I still have more! You could really use whatever meat or vegetables you wanted. I just used what we had on hand. It’s kind of like the kitchen sink strata. Hmm that would be a good title for my next strata!



x Nicole

Meat Lover’s Breakfast Strata
Author: Nicole Nilsen
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8
This is a do ahead meal! It must set in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours!
  • 6 cups rosemary sourdough bread, cut into one inch cubes
  • 9 eggs (room temperature)
  • 3 Italian sausages, cooked and sliced
  • 2 cups leftover Easter ham, diced (can substitute for any other meat, but make sure the meat is cooked before adding it to the casserole)
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cups yellow onion, diced
  • 5 stalks of kale, stems removed and cut into thin ribbons (chiffonade)
  • 1 teaspoon Himalayan salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 2 1/2 – 3 cups smoked gouda, shredded (depending on how cheesy you like it)
  • Fresh thyme
  1. In a medium saucepan heat the coconut oil on medium heat
  2. When the oil has melted add in the onions, half of the salt, half of the pepper and all of the nutmeg
  3. Cook the onions until translucent, about 3-5 minutes
  4. Stir in the shredded kale and cook until the kale has had a chance to cook, about 3-5 minutes. Then set aside
  5. Grease a 3 quart baking dish and place 1/3 of the cubes of bread in the bottom, then 1/3 of the kale mixture, 1/3 of the smoked gouda shreds. Continue to layer two more times by starting with bread, then kale, then cheese. You will have a total of three layers and end with the cheese on top.
  6. Take out a large mixing bowl
  7. Mix together the eggs, almond milk, and the other half of salt and pepper
  8. Pour the mixture over the top of the casserole as evenly as possible
  9. Tightly cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it overnight (at least 8 hours)
  10. Pull the strata out of the refrigerator and then preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  11. Top the strata with fresh Thyme (about 1-2 teaspoons)
  12. Bake it for 45-50 minutes uncovered
  13. Poke it with a toothpick to make sure the egg has cooked through.
  14. Let it set for 5 minutes before serving
  15. Top with more Thyme if desired!

Sweet Potato, Sausage and Brussels Sprout Casserole

I used to work in the cheese department at Whole Foods Market. Did I ever mention that? It was a great experience and a lot of fun. I learned so much about cheese, obviously. I remember when my boss called to screen me for an interview and she asked me what my favorite cheeses were. I answered her with brie and cheddar. What a generic answer. Well, to tell you the truth I really knew nothing about cheese. I thought that curds and whey were just part of a nursery rhyme. I had no idea it was much more than a silly song!


Did you know how many different types of blue cheese, cheddars, goudas, bries and parmesans there are? Do you know how they make blue cheese blue? Or that they make cheese from many animals, not just cows! There is a whole big world out there, of cheese.


When I make recipes with cheese I try to go out of the comfort zone of mixed yellow and white cheese shreds. I found my love for smoked cheeses during this journey as well. It gives them a nice meaty, jerky, maple flavor that I love! In this recipe I am included a fabulous smoked cheddar and a danish fontina. Fontina can be a little stinky, but when it is cooked and mixed with another cheese it gives off such a wonderful flavor and really enhances whatever you add to it! If you don’t like these cheeses feel free to substitute, but I feel they go really well with this dish.


Give it a try!

Sweet Potato, Sausage and Brussels Sprouts Casserole
Author: Nicole Nilsen
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4-6
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 6 cups peeled and diced sweet potatoes (2 medium sized)
  • 3 cups of brussels sprouts, halved
  • 1 1/4 pound Italian sausages
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3 ounces shredded danish fontina
  • 3 ounces smoked chedder
  • (Plus more cheese for topping)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • 1/4 cup spelt flour
  • 2 cloves garlic
  2. Cook brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes about 15 minutes (with coconut oil, thyme, salt and pepper
  3. In a second skillet cook the sausages until browned
  4. Once they are both cooked, combine them and mix
  5. Pour them into a 9 inch square baking dish and pour the cheese sauce over the top. Add more grated cheese on top is desired
  6. Bake on 350 for 10 min
  7. SAUCE
  8. Heat almond milk and chicken broth
  9. Once hot, add the spelt flour
  10. When it has thickened add in the white wine, garlic, thyme, salt, pepper
  11. lastly add in the cheese
  12. Cook over medium heat until all the cheese is melted.


Coconut Milk Ranch Dressing

One of the most common things I have been asked to make is a healthy ranch. My sister asks for it every time I see her, seriously every time! No matter what I would make she would tell me it was good, but then would end the conversation with asking me if I had made a healthy ranch yet.


The day finally came where I would no longer have to listen to everyone asking me about a health ranch because here it is! My sister happily went home with a jar of ranch and a bag of carrots last week. She puts ranch on everything! Anything from pizza, to french fries, to salad, you name it she put ranch on it. Now she will have a healthy version that wont make her belly jiggle.


I love this ranch because its starts with a thick base, but you can thin it out as much as you want depending on what you are using it for. If you want it for a vegetable dip you can keep it nice and thick, but if you wanted it for a salad dressing you could thin it out with the liquid in the bottom of the can. In order to make the base for the ranch you need to put a can of Thai Kitchen Coconut Milk (not lower fat, use regular) in the refrigerator overnight. Once it has set overnight scoop out the thick cream and leave the liquid in the bottom. Use the liquid as needed to thin out the dressing after blending everything together.

Feel free to add whatever herbs you want to this ranch to change it up. I think it is perfect the way it is! Yum yum!!

Coconut Milk Ranch Dressing
Recipe Type: Salad
Author: Nicole Nilsen
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 16 ounces
Refrigerate one can of Thai Kitchen full fat coconut milk overnight. It needs to be this brand and it needs to be full fat to work. When you take the can of the refrigerator open the can and scoop out only the thick cream. Leave the liquid in the bottom for later. Once you add everything to the blender add some of the liquid to thin out the ranch as much as you would like.
  • 1 can of Thai Kitchen coconut milk (full fat), refrigerated overnight (SEE NOTE)
  • 1 tablespoon chives, chopped
  • One clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dry dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry basil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper to taste
  1. Mix all ingredients in a high powered blender and blend well. Then add more of the liquid if desired to get the consistency you would like.


Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

Who thought of the idea of having bunnies and eggs for Easter? Does that make any sense at all? This reminds me of the comedian Jim Gaffigan. If you don’t know who I am talking about please utube him and watch him while you eat this casserole. Having this casserole and Jim Gaffigan in the same day? It will be the best day of your life! In one of his series he goes off about holidays and how they don’t make any sense at all. He has this session on holiday traditions. Easter for instance, he talks about how the traditions of Easter were created. Was it just someone sitting around with some leftover hardboiled eggs and thinking hmmm these would be fun to hide. And then insert the bunny? A bunny? Really?
 To this day we continue with the tradition of scaring the pants off our kids by introducing them to a huge freaky rabbit and then reward them by letting them search for eggs. How does this make any sense? My Grandmother had a bunny suit and as soon as you were “of age,” which was code for big enough to fit in that ridiculously furry bunny, you could be the chosen one.
What are your Easter traditions? Do you have the Easter bunny come visit your house? What are all the other bunnies considered, regular bunnies?
 On Monday, I went shopping and picked up a basket, colorful plastic eggs and a few toys for Graey. When I came home he was out with his Farmor (code for Grandma in Norwegian). So suddenly I had this raging desire to want to stuff the basket and set it out for him so when he came home he would see it. I couldn’t wait six days, let alone a few hours. I filled it and started pacing. Searching around the corner every 2.5 minutes to see if he was coming. Alas, he finally came around the corner. He crawled straight to his basket, as if it had a neon signed that said Graeyson, and emptied out everything. I think he had more fun emptying out the basket than actually enjoying what was inside.
 Ok, enough of that. Let’s talk Chicken Cordon Bleu! Truth? Probably one of the best things I ever had and honestly it was super easy! It only took about 30 minutes out of my life and then into the oven it went. Out popped this cheesy, gooey dish of yum and I hardly had to work for it. It doesn’t even seem fair. Guest will seriously think you slaved over this and it wasn’t even difficult. My kind of meal and mind you it is pretty stinking healthy.
 This is a great was to get rid of any extra meat from Easter! You can use your leftover ham, turkey, chicken, whatever! Traditionally Chicken Cordon Bleu is all about the swiss cheese. But, lets face it, it stinks! I can’t stand swiss cheese for the life of me, so I switched it out for some creamy gouda.
Chicken Cordon Bleu
Author: Nicole Nilsen
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
  • 7 ounce package of ham (diced only) or turkey bacon (cooked and diced if using turkey bacon)
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, skinned and shredded
  • 6 slices of gouda or swiss (any cheese would be fine)
  • 1/4 cup spelt flour
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
  • 3 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons meyer lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • Pepper and salt to taste (I used 1/2 teaspoon salt, but try 1/4 first)
  • 1/4 + 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 3/4 cup bread crumbs (take any bread you have and pulse it in the food processor or blender)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste (I used 1/4 teaspoon salt)
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  2. Grease a 9X13 baking dish
  4. Layer the bottom with the shredded chicken
  5. After the chicken, layer it with the cut up ham (or cooked turkey bacon)
  6. Then layer with cheese
  7. Then the sauce
  8. Then the breadcrumb topping
  9. Bake for 40-45 minutes and then allow for about 5 minutes to cool before serving
  11. Pour the grapeseed oil in a medium to large pot and turn heat to medium-high
  12. Once the oil is heated add the spelt flour
  13. Turn the heat down to medium and allow for it to make a roux
  14. Don’t let it burn! Once it starts to bubble a little add the almond milk
  15. Once the sauce has thickened add the lemon juice, dijon mustard, salt and pepper
  16. Continue to let the sauce thicken for about five minutes. Keep it on medium heat though and continue stirring every minute or so.
  18. Add the coconut oil to a bowl and heat in the microwave
  19. Once the oil is melted add the bread crumbs, parsley and paprika.
  20. Mix well





Enchilada Pasta Casserole

Hey Mike, Mike, Mike, what day is it? Yup, it’s hump day! I love Wednesdays because you are in the clear from the “Monday’s,” but you are also just a hop, skip and a jump away from Friday!

This morning Graeyson decided 5:45 am was a great time to start the day. Ouch. My eyes hurt! I may not have actually had to get ready to go anywhere at that time, but it’s just the fact that I have to be up, standing, moving around and grabbing everything Graey puts in his mouth.

My child ate probably a handful of sand today at the park. He licked every stick possibly. What is wrong with boys. We went with two of his friends, Margot and Mary. They sit in the sand perfectly still and play with the sand toys. My child? Oh yes, he is the one taking off in the other direction with a mouthful of sticks and a handful of sand.


Speaking of a mouthful. Hello? Have you seen this new dish I made (look up or down). Deliciousness to the maximum! It took me two days to figure out what to call it and when people ask me to explain what I have been working on it takes forever! It’s taco, meets enchilada, meets italian, meets nachos, meets in my belly! Do I need to say more?


I told my father-in-law it reminded me of hamburger helper from when I was a kid and he looked at me totally disgusted. He said, “Noooooo this isn’t even in the same ballpark, it’s way better!” Ok I can live with that, but you know how hamburger helper had a meat, pasta, and sauce? So it is kind of like that, but adult version, rated “R”. Ok fine, babies can have it.

Until next time!

Mexican Pasta Casserole
Recipe Type: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican/Italian
Author: Nicole Nilsen
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 5-6
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 small onion diced
  • 1 1/4 pound dark turkey meat
  • 2 1/2 cups dry rotini brown rice pasta noodles (I use Tinkiyada)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can of Hatch Enchilada Sauce (14 oz)
  • 2 cups of cheese, I used cheddar but you could use any type of omit it to keep it non-dairy
  • 2 green onions, diced
  • 1 can black olives, drained
  1. Set your oven to broil
  2. In a cast iron skillet or a large pot, melt the coconut oil
  3. Add the garlic and onions to the skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes on medium heat
  4. Add the turkey meat and cook until browned
  5. Once the turkey meat is cooked add in the chicken stock, enchilada sauce and rotini noodles.
  6. Cook it for about ten minutes, right about when the noodles are still al dente. You don’t want them to be completely cooked
  7. Take it off the burner and let it sit covered for about five minutes
  8. Add in half of the cheese and mix
  9. If you aren’t already using a cast iron pour it into one now and top with cheese and olives
  10. Place it into the oven and allow it to broil about 3 minutes until it starts bubbling and is lightly browned on the top
  11. Pull it out of the oven and top it with green onions and sour cream or yogurt if desired
  12. Serve immediately!


Greek Yogurt Cheese Ball

So next week is Easter! This will be the first year we wont be doing the egg hunting. Now that we are getting mature and older. Okay lets face it, we had a kid and now it’s his turn to do the Easter egg hunting. I mean it would just be embarrassing to have him show us up in an egg hunting contest.

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It should be totally fun, except Graeyson can’t walk yet. So pretty much we will be dragging him around from one area to the next until we see that little goofy grin on his face that says “Ooo pretty, shiny!”


With Easter comes the tradition of food, just like every other holiday! Usually the host handles dinner, traditionally ham, and the guests bring appetizers. With that in mind I thought I would give you a healthier option to make and bring for your appetizer! I know you want the traditional pigs in a blanket, but lets face it we are what we eat. I don’t want to be a pig in a blanket, do you?


Typically cheese balls are made with cream cheese and more cheese. I decided to change it up and give it a little more flavor. The only cream used here is plain greek yogurt. This cheese ball has such a great texture and flavor. You bite into it and you’ve got the creaminess going on, then the onions, then the garlic and lastly a nice slightly salty crunch of almonds bits and turkey bacon. Can I hear a “Yum!”?

I made a batch of this and so many people wanted to try it that I had to start rationing it out. I would only let people have a tiny bite so that everyone was able to try it. It went really fast! It will definitely be an appetizer I will keep making again and again because it is a major crowd pleaser!


*Make sure to make this the night before or at least a good couple hours before you need it because it does need to chill in the fridge before you roll it into a ball.

Greek Yogurt Cheese Ball
Recipe Type: Appetizer
Author: Nicole Nilsen
Serves: 3-4
  • 4 slices turkey bacon, cooked and finely chopped
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1 green onion, finely diced
  • 1/2-1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup almonds, chopped, mixed with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and a pinch of salt, and placed in a 350 degree oven for about 8 minutes until lightly browned.
  1. In a medium sized bowl add your greek yogurt and cheese and mix well.
  2. Add in the green onions and garlic and mix
  3. Once the almonds and turkey bacon have cooled those can be added too
  4. Chill the mix for a couple hours
  5. Pull it out of the fridge and carefully roll the mixture into a ball and set on a platter
  6. Keep it in the refrigerator until ready to serve
  7. Serve with fruits, vegetables, bread, or crackers.


Crunchy Thai Quinoa Salad

Can you believe it is almost Summer! I know that we still have 2 months, but I am ready for it now. All this time in San Diego is making me want Summer like yesterday! With Summertime comes less clothing time, meaning we have got to get into shape! We have to start eating lots of veggies to make our tummies go away. I am so excited this year because I am not 1 month post-pregnancy. So I will actually be able to fit into shorts or a bathing suit.


I love everything about Summer! The BBQ’s, the late sunsets, the water and all of the fellowship that comes with it. What is your favorite part about summer?

Here is the perfect meal to help you cleanse and shed some of those unwanted love handles. Don’t be mistaken flavor is not lacking here. It is so crunchy, hearty, filling and has flavor pouring out the brim! This salad is packed with nutrition and I promise you wont even feel like it is “diet food.” This is a great summer food because it will keep you lean but it is also really cool and refreshing!

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Just make sure to pour the dressing on as needed so that it doesn’t get soggy!

Happy Friday everyone!!

Crunchy Thai Quinoa Salad
Recipe Type: Lunch/Dinner
Cuisine: Thai
Author: Nicole Nilsen
Serves: 4
  • For the salad:
  • 1 cup red cabbage, grated
  • 3/4 cup carrots, julienned
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, leaves chopped only
  • 1 cup edamame, shelled
  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked
  • 1 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1/3 cup unsalted almonds, smashed or cut up and toasted on 350 degrees with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and a pinch of salt for about 8 minutes until browned. Make sure to flip them every couple minutes
  • For the Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup Coconut Aminos
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon brown rice vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame chili oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon ginger, grated
  • 1 tablespoon agave
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Take out two large bowls and a whisk
  2. In the first bowl add all of the salad ingredients listed, except the almonds. (#1-6)
  3. In the second bowl add all of the sauce ingredients (#8-17) and whisk away!
  4. Pour the dressing on top just before serving (so it doesn’t get soggy!) or have everyone pour their own dressing.
  5. Top with the almonds.


Shrimp Carbonara

Happy Wednesday! Graeyson, who has become the official taste-tester of The Nilsen Pantry, and I caught a flight from San Francisco to San Diego last night to visit my husband. Yes, kind of a weird situation my husband and I have. He is in the military and so for now this is how our lives are! So, we will be reporting to you from sunny San Diego!

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I love the weather in San Diego! Even though it is only about 500 miles from where Graeyson and I live it sometimes it seems like a completely different world when it comes to the weather, especially in the winter. We spent our whole winter this year in San Diego and I believe it rained once and not even for an entire day! At home they had a couple of flash flood warnings! The humidity in San Diego is much higher as well. You could probably where shorts 365 days a year, okay maybe 363 days.


The food here is fabulous! I have never found a place with more variety, uniqueness and flavor. I usually go home with lots of inspiration for cooking in the kitchen when I leave San Diego.


Before we had Graey, we would go to nice restaurants occasionally and actually get to savor, chew and enjoy all the food we ordered. Now, I don’t even think I get the chance to swallow my food!

We used to go to this restaurant called Primavera in Coronado. It was a lovely, quaint, quiet restaurant. Super romantic! I always wanted them to prepare a dish that wasn’t on the menu! It was similar to this Shrimp Carbonara, however, I have made my health tweaks to this dish.


My Shrimp Carbonara tastes like Shrimp Scampi meets Alfredo meets Carbonara. I realize none of those are even healthy, but trust me this version is. I also use brown rice noodles, so it is gluten-free! It is creamy, garlicky, salty, sweet, meaty, yummy, seriously do you need me to keep going!

Enjoy and don’t be too jealous that Graey and I are sunning it up in sunny San Diego!

Shrimp Carbonara
Recipe Type: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Nicole Nilsen
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4-5
**Side Note: Cook the pasta a couple minutes less than the package instructions. You want it to be al dente because it is going to cook a little more once the heat from the bacon sets on there. You don’t want it to be mushy!
  • 1 pound fresh shrimp or prawns
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 scallion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 package of linguine (I used brown rice noodles)
  • 3 green onions, diced
  • 1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 eggs yolks
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (full-fat), mix cream and water in the can well before measuring out
  • 1 package of turkey bacon, cooked and diced
  • 1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Fill a large pot with water, a good pinch of salt and a couple splashes of olive oil. Once it begins to boil throw in your pasta and cook as directed. (See note in summary)
  2. While the pasta is cooking grab a medium sized bowl and add your eggs yolks, coconut milk, and 3/4 cup of the parmesan cheese and mix well. Set aside.
  3. Add half of the scallions, 2 garlic cloves and the chopped shallot to the cooked turkey bacon and cook for 2-3 minutes
  4. In a medium sized skillet melt 3 tablespoons of coconut oil.
  5. Add in the other two garlic cloves and the shrimp.
  6. Cook shrimp until it is pink
  7. Once the pasta is done cooking, drain the water but do not rinse.
  8. Add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pasta and mix it around the help separate the pasta.
  9. Add the cream mixture to the pasta and mix well
  10. Add in the ingredients that were in the skillet with the bacon and gently mix
  11. Pour the entire skillet with shrimp, liquid and all into the pasta pot and mix well.
  12. The oils from the shrimp skillet will help to keep the sauce thinner as well as add more flavor


Sticky Crock Pot Chicken with Colored Quinoa

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Have you ever tried making dinner with a child, or even worse children! It is so difficult. I was trying to make this while also occupying Graeyson. I close both doors to the kitchen so it is completely closed off and will throw a bunch of toys on the floor. However, he always seems to find something he is not supposed to play with. His toys occupy him for a few minutes, the pots and pans a few extra minutes and some puff cereal will possibly buy me a few more.


Being a food blogger is not all glimmer and glam! It is hard work, especially when you have little ones under your feet while you are trying to write down and calculate measurements. If I had to do math all over again I would probably get an “A” just because I had a peacefully quiet room and an entire hour to myself to take a test. When will I ever get that again? A whole hour to myself in the peace and quiet? Maybe in twenty years. For now it is going to be extra pots and pans on the floor with an 11-month-old.

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Luckily, this meal was super easy and quick! It didn’t require a lot of bribing with the baby. Once this is done cooking the chicken shreds so easily! It is so tender and moist. The coconut sugar gives the chicken a nice sweet caramelized flavor that is absolutely to die for! Pour it on top of some gorgeous colorful quinoa and you have dinner done in no time!

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Sticky Crock Pot Chicken with Colored Quinoa
Recipe Type: Dinner
Author: Nicole Nilsen
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4-5
  • 4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup zevia lemon- lime soda (sweetened with stevia)
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Aminos
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Arrowroot Powder
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes (or more if you like it really spicy)
  • 2 cups prepared colored quinoa (Cook with chicken broth and a pinch of salt)
  1. In a medium sized bowl mix together all of the ingredients (except the chicken)
  2. Place the chicken breasts in the crock pot and pour the sauce over the chicken
  3. Cook on low heat for 4-6 hours
  4. Shred the chicken up in the crockpot and serve on top of quinoa