Month: July 2014

Graeyson’s 1st Birthday Party

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Please don’t be upset with me for being MIA last week! Still be my best friend, okay! We finally threw Graeyson’s first birthday party! His birthday was May 17th, but my husband was living in San Diego at the time and we wanted to wait until he could be here. It just seems like by the time you find out when people are available you are ready to plan the second birthday party!

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Throwing a party is not easy! Hoy vey! All week I was busy working away between meal planning, thinking about decorations, thinking about activities and then purchasing everything and putting it together! We had about 50 people that were in our home on Saturday. It was crazy hot sticky weather, thank goodness we have a pool! We had food in about 4 refrigerators! We made food in two different kitchens! It was so crazy. I don’t think I will ever have a party that large again!

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Graeyson’s theme was trains! It was actually pretty fun putting it all together and between my creative juices and my husband’s aunt, we had done pretty well if I do say so myself! She was here with my until 12:30 am the night before the party and then Graeyson decided to wake up at 5:15am the day of the party. Hoy, that definitely hurt as the day went on.

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We had taken butcher paper to lay down on the serving table and had made trains and cabooses out of those aluminum trays. We made tracks out of electrical tape and made little crossing figurines by gluing them to wine corks. It was so so cute! I was very pleased with how it all turned out. I also made a photo booth in the living room. There was trains on the wall and balloons. In the middle there was an open laundry basket that said “Loads of Fun.” I mean, really, how cute is that! We set up the camera so that people could take pictures out there on their own. I really wish I had taken more pictures of the before and the food, but I got way too busy!

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So the big question I am sure you want answered was what kind of food did we serve. For appetizers it was mainly different kinds of crackers, chips, dips, veggies, that kind of thing. For lunch we had barbecued chicken, ribs, my Oodles of Zucchini Noodles Lasagna, my Crack Kale Salad, Organic Berries, potato salad and barbecue green beans. We had so much food leftover, but you know the two things that were practically gone were my Oodles of Zucchini Noodles Lasagna and my Crack Kale. I had several people asking for the recipes and I got to say those magic words, “It’s on nilsenpantry.com.” Having this website has saved my life from having to write out recipes and if people lose the recipe it is right there online for them to easily print off again. JOY!

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We want to thank everyone that came and helped make Graeyson’s birthday happen! He had the best day ever. My favorite part was when we sang Happy Birthday to him! He just lit up and was smiling and clapping like crazy. It was so sweet!

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Thanks again everyone!

XO Nicole

Crack Kale Salad

 

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I know crack salad isn’t really an appropriate name, especially for a salad, but this salad really isn’t very appropriate. It is not appropriate for a kale salad to be so addicting!

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Every once in while I get on a big kick with something. Usually it’s a fad and I get over it and move on, but once I started eating kale I haven’t stopped eating it and adding it to my food. It is definitely not a bad thing to be addicted to. When I first had Graeyson, I was nursing all the time and I never had enough time to eat, let alone cook! I used to roast kale and eat it for dinner. I know it’s super pathetic, but really I couldn’t have cooked anything better!

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When I first started using kale in salads I was using the curly kale. This type of kale is much tougher and has a very strong, bitter taste to it. Now, I only use that type of kale when making kale chips. For salads I stick with lacinato kale. This is a much softer, milder kale.

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The dressing on this kale is what gives it the “crack.” It has a light and refreshing taste. There is some “zing” from the lemon and a nice punch of heat from the red pepper flakes.

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I am telling you, you will be eating this salad for the rest of your LIFE and hey that isn’t a bad thing!

Crack Kale Salad
Author: Nicole Nilsen
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 2-3
Ingredients
  • 1 bunch of lacinato kale (not curly kale)
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of almond meal
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted sunflower seeds or pine nuts, toasted–> toast in a pan with a little olive oil until lightly browned
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper chili flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon + small pinch of Himalayan salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. De-stem each stalk of kale (all the way to the top, you only want the leaf)
  2. Take a couple of the de-stemmed stalks of kale at a time and roll them up like a cigar (start at the thinner end and work your way to the other end {don’t roll from the fat ends})
  3. You are going to chop the kale cigars chiffonade style (ribbons)
  4. Once all of the kale is cut and placed in a large bowl, drizzle about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a very small pinch of salt into the bowl
  5. Using your hands massage the salt and oil into the kale for a couple minutes
  6. Set the kale in the fridge covered for at least 30 minutes
  7. Massaging and adding salt and oil to the kale will allow it to soften
  8. While the kale is setting, take out a small bowl for the dressing
  9. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the garlic, red pepper chili flakes, 1/4 of the salt and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper
  10. When you are ready to serve the salad top it with the dressing, almond meal, parmesan and toasted sunflower seeds

Brussels Sprout Wraps

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The best part about summer has to be the get togethers and barbecues! When you go over to someones house what do you usually bring over? Is there something you are especially amazing at making?

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As a food blogger, there is never a dull moment as to what I would bring! I rarely make the same thing twice because I am constantly trying out new recipes. Some days I think it would be easier to just rotate through the same old meals like we used to when I was growing up.

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When I was growing up we had taco night, spaghetti night, chicken night and lets not forget Hamburger Helper night! What were my parents thinking, seriously. Hamburger Helper? How bad can someones diet get? How boring would life be if we constantly did this same rotation for 70 years? Do you really want taco night every tuesday!? I mean I really love tacos, but come on there are other types of Mexican food as well!

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When people go out to eat they like to order things that they would never make at home or that would be too difficult to make at home. What if some of those spectacular appetizers could be made quickly right in your own kitchen! Think it’s impossible? It totally is! Today I present you with an extremely simple, delicious and beautiful appetizer that everyone will go crazy for. Yup, major, major, cray cray! I mean come on, it’s bacon! Who doesn’t go crazy for a little bacon?

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Brussels Sprout Wraps
Author: Nicole Nilsen
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 24 pieces
Ingredients
  • 12 brussels sprouts, ends cut off and halved lengthwise
  • 12 slices of turkey bacon (possibly more depending on the length of the bacon–> plan on a few extra)
  • 1/4 cup fig preserves
  • 24 toothpicks
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Take each brussels sprout and spread the flat side with fig preserve
  3. Wrap each sprout with bacon, ensuring the flat side of the brussels sprout remains down once it’s wrapped
  4. Take a toothpick and stick it in to hold it together (make sure it pokes all the way through)
  5. Set all of the finished sprouts on a cooling rack and set that on a baking sheet. This will help catch any juices that come from the bacon so it doesn’t get on the bottom of the oven.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until it’s perfectly crisp!

 

Chocolate Banana Bread

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I just love when babies start saying their first words. Graeyson is sputtering out words like crazy now! He says dog, apple, hi, bye, Lola (our dog) and doggie. Sometimes it is just bits of the words, but he is definitely trying to say them!

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He is even doing a bit of sign language. He can sign diaper, eat, milk, drink, please, thank you and all done. Little Graey is a smarty pants! Teaching him sign language, or at least the sign language that we know, has been such a huge help for us to communicate with Graey. We have less tantrums and less screaming because he is able to tell us what he wants. It has been our saving grace!

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While my little bundle of joy was sleeping today, I wanted to use up some of these sweet brown bananas. I was thinking banana and chocolate. Yes, banana and chocolate loaf! Yes, yes, yes! You guys, this is totally healthy too! No refined sugars, white flours or unhealthy chocolate. This loaf is so flakey and tender you wont believe its actually good for you. If you can’t eat it all in one sitting then you can freeze the other half for later, but I highly doubt you will need to do that!

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Chocolate Banana Bread
Author: Nicole Nilsen
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 2 cups spelt flour
  • 1/4 cup xylitol
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon Himalayan salt
  • 6 tablespoons cacao powder
  • 2 cups banana, mashed
  • 1/4 cup +2 tablespoons almond milk
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup agave
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 -3/4 cup chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Take out two bowls
  3. In one bowl mix together the dry ingredients (minus the chocolate chips)
  4. In the second bowl mix together the wet ingredients
  5. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients
  6. Grease a loaf pan and pour the mixture into the pan
  7. Bake for 50-55 minutes

I just

Sesame Edamame Salad

Happy Saturday everyone!

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My husband’s Grandmother is in town which means we are eating every hour and what we are eating is not what I would call “clean.” She lives in Norway and only comes out about once a year. Last time she was here I was 9 months pregnant with Graeyson. This is the first time she has met our little man and I must say she is in love!

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This salad has been my saving grace this week. Like I said before we haven’t been eating the best of the best! Everything is homemade, but there are a lot of creams, butter and oil. I know it’s not the best for you, but she twists your arm until it almost breaks! You just can’t say no to her.

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I have been eating my delicious Sesame Edamame Salad everyday for lunch to help get my veggies in. It is so good! So many flavors, crunchy veggies, yummy sesame sauce, mmm mmm all the way home!

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Sesame Edamame Salad
Author: Nicole Nilsen
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • SALAD
  • 4 radishes
  • 3 celery ribs
  • 1/2 parsnip
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 3 cups edamame (shelled)
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/4-1/2 cup cilantro (depending on your taste preference for cilantro), leaves only finely chopped
  • 3 kale leaves, stems removed and leaves chopped (use only the leaves, not the stems)
  • DRESSING
  • 1 teaspoon sesame chili oil
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup brown rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 2 teaspoon coconut aminos
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds (white or black)
Instructions
  1. Using a Cuisinart with the slicing blade intact slice the radishes, celery, parsnip and bell pepper
  2. In a large bowl pour all of the salad ingredients in and mix until everything is evenly dispersed
  3. In a small bowl add all of the dressing ingredients and mix well
  4. Pour over the salad and mix well
  5. Serve!

 

Shrimp Ceviche Stacks

IMG_2768 Welcome back!

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We have got a full house this week, let me tell you. No seriously–> I am going to tell you. First, you have me and my hubby, our baby, the in-laws, the grandmother, the brother and sister-in-law and three beds. Hmm… How it this going to work?

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The fridge is so full you don’t want to even make anything because you won’t have room for the leftovers! There are 72 people in the kitchen, people in the bathroom, people in the bedrooms. I am telling you it’s cray cray ville! Plus, I am going on 5 hours of sleep the past who even knows how long!

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Oh well, you gotta enjoy everyone together. It doesn’t happen often enough.

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When Bobby and I were young and free (When was that again?), we went to this restaurant in San Diego called Peohe’s. They have awesome, gorgeous, tasty food. I always love everything I get from Peohe’s. We love getting their crab stack starter. It has a crab meat salad on the top, mango salsa in the middle and then avocado on the bottom. They serve it with these thin, crunchy parmesan crostini’s. Oh man it is so good!

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I had a bunch of shrimp in the freezer so I wanted to make something like the Peohe’s appetizer with them. I made a delicious shrimp ceviche, mango salsa, guacamole and stacked them all on top of each other. We ate this for lunch with sweet potato chips and tortilla chips.

If you don’t make this you are missing out!

Shrimp Ceviche Stacks
Author: Nicole Nilsen
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: Makes 2 stacks or 6 filled avocados; feeds about 6-8 for an appetizer
Ingredients
  • SHRIMP CEVICHE
  • 1/2 pound rock shrimp (raw, no tails)
  • 1 teaspoon lime + 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt (I used Santa Maria from Whole Foods Market)
  • 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup english cucumber cut into 1/4 inch thick pieces and then cut into quarters
  • 1/2 cup tomatoes (cut the same way as the cucumber)
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • MANGO SALSA
  • 1 mango, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon jalapeno, very finely chopped (seeds removed for less spicy, keep seeds in if you like it spicy!)
  • GUACAMOLE
  • 3 avocados + the shells (you will end up with 6 halves, save them if you are going to stuff the shells)
  • 1 tablespoon + 1/2 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon jalapeno, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Optional: If you are doing the stack method you will need two cans, remove both ends of the can with a can opener and dry it completely
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet heat up 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
  2. Once it is melted add in your shrimp
  3. Season with 1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt and 1 teaspoon lime juice
  4. Cook the shrimp until it is cooked (needs to be completely pink, usually about 4-5 minutes)
  5. When the shrimp is done place it in a bowl and add 1/4 cup lime juice
  6. Stir the shrimp so that the lime juice gets all over the shrimp
  7. Wrap the shrimp and set it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes up to overnight
  8. While the shrimp is marinating make the salsas!
  9. Grab two bowls; one for the guacamole and one for the mango salsa
  10. In one bowl mix all of the mango salsa ingredients well, cover and store in the fridge
  11. In the second bowl mash the avocado
  12. Add all of the remaining guacamole ingredients to the bowl and mix well
  13. If using the stack method take the serving plate you will be using and place a small piece of saran wrap on the plate
  14. Place the can on top of the saran wrap and cover the bottom of the can with the saran wrap
  15. Take a rubberband and put it around the saran wrapped part to help hold it in place
  16. Stuff the bottom with about 1 inch of guacamole, then 1 inch of mango salsa, then 1 inch guacamole again and finally on the top place about 1 inch of shrimp ceviche (make sure to drain the liquid from the spoon (with mango salsa and shrimp ceviche) before putting it in the can
  17. Make sure everything is packed tightly
  18. Set the can in the fridge for at LEAST ONE HOUR if possible to allow time for it to solidify together
  19. Repeat with the second can
  20. Once you are ready to serve the stacks take the serving plate(s) out of the fridge and gently lift the can while slowly pulling the saran wrap out for under the can and then set the stack back down on the serving plate
  21. If you are using the avocado shells then you can layer guacamole, then mango salsa and finally shrimp ceviche on the top
  22. Serve with chips of your choice; we enjoy it with sweet potato chips or tortilla chips

 

Almond Crusted Cod

Hey there!

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How was everyones 4th of July? Did you see any fireworks? There are a lot of areas now that don’t allow them. I can’t really blame them. They are pretty dangerous, but they are still a lot of fun to watch. We haven’t seen them for the last two years –> hello baby. He can’t stay awake later than 8pm, so that doesn’t work out so well for a 9:30 pm fireworks show! Maybe next year he will be able to stay awake for it.

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As you all may know by now, I married into a Norwegian family. Norwegians constantly are eating fish and potatoes. Usually they will boil cod or fry it up. I wanted to try a healthier version using coconut oil, spelt flour and almond meal.

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I honestly think I like this version way better than the original version. The almond meal just gives the cod such a nice sweet, nutty crunch. And the coconut oil gives it a lovely tropical flavor. Add a dash of lemon juice and man oh man you have yourself an incredibly satisfying meal!

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Almond Crusted Cod
Author: Nicole Nilsen
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 3
Ingredients
  • (3) 4-6 ounce cod filets
  • 1/4 cup spelt flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1 large egg, whisked
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt (I used Santa Maria from Whole Foods Market)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • Additional salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Take out two plates and one bowl
  2. On one plate mix the almond meal and 1/4 teaspoon of the seasoning salt
  3. On the second plate add the flour and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of the seasoning salt
  4. In the bowl, whisk the egg
  5. After patting the cod dry, coat each one in the spelt flour, then coat it in the egg and finally coat each in almond meal
  6. Add the coconut oil to the pan and turn the heat to medium
  7. Add the crusted cod to the pan and cook for about 3 minutes on each side until lightly browned
  8. Remove from the pan immediately, so it doesn’t continue to cook and serve with your favorite veggies and potatoes!

 

Thai Andouille Soup

You know most times you have a love/hate with food? For example, cookies, there is a total love/hate, right? I love the cookies, but I hate the jiggle jaggle it creates on my booty. So, what’s my point? The point is that when it comes to Thai food it is all love, no hate. I adore Thai food! Is that weird? I mean is it weird to adore food –> maybe that’s a food blogger thing.

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I was only recently, a few years ago, introduced to Thai food. I was always scared to try it because of the curry. I am not a fan of Indian food and I thought it was the same thing, but it’s NOT! Thai food is decently good for you and has so much KaBlam (is that a word –> well it is now) flavor. I always leave a Thai restaurant beyond satisfied.

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I have made Pad Thai  before and Tom Kah Gai. If you haven’t tried these, they are a must! Very good and very easy! I honestly think they are better than what you will find at a Thai restaurant. I wanted to change it up a bit. I had some andouille sausage leftover in the freezer and I started thinking soup and then thai. Before I knew it I had the crockpot out and was throwing ingredients in.

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I love using the crockpot because I feel like it saves me so much time and it saves me from cleaning a pile of pots and pans. Plus, I just think the food is much more tender and flavorful!

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I hope you guys enjoy this Thai soup twist!

Slow Cooker Thai Andouille Soup
Author: Nicole Nilsen
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
In the very center on the bottom of the lemongrass stalk is the “goods.” What you want to do is peel off a couple of the dead looking leaves and then cut the top half part of the stalk and set it aside. Take your knife and cut the bottom half of the stalk down the center (the long way) and scoop out the little bit of fleshy part you see. Smash the flesh and mince it. Then cut the rest of the stalk into 1-2 inch pieces. Don’t eat these they are just going to help give the soup flavor.
Ingredients
  • 2.5 pounds of andouille sausage, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices and cooked in a skillet (doesn’t need to be completely cooked all the way)
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, see note above for instructions
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips (seeds and stem removed)
  • 2 tablespoons of ginger, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • 5-8 ounces of shitake mushrooms, cut into bite sized pieces (depending on how much you like them- I’m not a huge fan!)
  • 1 can of full fat unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves, give the leaves a nice chiffonade cut
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 4 Thai Bird’s Eye Chili (This will be a little spicy, so add less if you don’t like it spicy!)
Instructions
  1. Add the sausage, lemongrass, red curry paste, chicken stock, garlic, onion, bell pepper, ginger and fish sauce to the crockpot
  2. Turn the crockpot to high heat and cook for 90 minutes
  3. While that is cooking cut up your mushrooms and basil leaves
  4. After the 90 minutes turn the crockpot down to low and add the mushrooms, coconut milk, lime juice, basil leaves and Thai Bird’s Eye Chili
  5. Cook for an additional 30 minutes on low
  6. Serve!