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Along Abbey Road | A Lifestyle And Family Blog : November 2013


Letting Go And Choosing Gratitude

"I like the concept of letting go. It’s mostly where I find joy, calm, peace and purpose. It’s so much easier than chasing. And so much more effective. Rather than chasing happiness, the Buddhist philosophy suggests that we simply choose to let go of that which makes us unhappy. The very notion of chasing something has a sense of urgency about it, doesn’t it? And, of course, with urgency comes anxiety. And with anxiety comes illness. And with illness comes unhappiness... 

Maybe it’s time to stop looking and simply let go of everything that isn’t us? When I let go of everything I am trying to do, be, create and own, there I am. And while I might do, be, create and own much in my life, I am none of those things and they are not me. I can’t be found in things. And neither can you."

Isn't that the truth? I happened upon those words while reading this article and I felt it to be so appropriate for this holiday weekend and my life in general lately. For one reason or another, I find myself running to do more, pushing myself to the next unnecessary level. And frankly, I'm running out of breath. I don't need more. In fact, I need less and to simplify.

I am so grateful for this time of year because it forces my materialistic and mopey attitude to take a swift one-eighty and to relish in the good. I have heaping amounts of things to be grateful for, and I truly feel so blessed with my life. Not my idea of what my life needs to look like, but for who and what I've become, and the people who have contributed in that molding and refining process. Life's a treasure.

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My Glam Casual Holiday Outfit

If you follow me on Instagram, you saw that I whipped up a tulle skirt over the weekend for my holiday outfit. I've been daydreaming about wearing it and humming and hawing over what to pair it with. I think I've nailed it in the version of this outfit -- casual and fabulous all in one merry, holiday bundle (perfect for a mama)! 

A button-up plaid shirt keeps it laid back, the clutch and bracelet add the right amount of sparkle, the booties give it a glamorous feel, and the red lipstick tops it off for a polished look.

What does your holiday outfit look like this year? Should you be in the need for some sparkles yourself like the diamond tennis bracelet above, our sponsor Anjolee is offering 5% off your entire purchase using code MP591. Tell your husbands, gals! Frost yourselves (name that movie)!

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To My Boys

Hourglass by Mindy Gledhill on Grooveshark

Litte boy, when you speak
I can't help but kiss your cheeks
I love the way you grab my hands
And tell me all about your plans

Rocket high, comets fly
You and I could hitch a ride
And fly away to Neverland
And give our best to Peter Pan

When you reach for the stars
Don't forget who you are
And please don't turn around and grow up way too fast
See the sand in my grasp
From the first to the last
Every grain becomes a memory of the past
Oh, life's an hourglass
Life's an hourglass

Story's read, prayers said
Close your eyes sleepyhead
While angels linger in your dreams
And hold you in their feathered wings
Just like you, I was small
Not that long ago at all
I wish you all the happiness
That God gives freely if you ask

When you reach for the stars
Don't forget who you are
And please don't turn around and grow up way too fast
See the sand in my grasp
From the first to the last
Every grain becomes a memory of the past
Oh, life's an hourglass
Life's an hourglass

"Hourglass" by Mindy Gledhill

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I Pretty Much Wear This Outfit Every Day

Denim Shirt: Target. Boyfriend Jeans: LOFT. Beanie: Target. Booties: JCPenney (similar). Watch: UO. Sunglasses: Target.

Say hello to the I'm-recovering-from-birth/getting-dressed-is-overrated momiform, in which I double as a walking advertisement for Target. It's truly the most comfortable outfit for a mom on the go with wee little ones. I highly recommend investing in a grip load of button-down shirts for easy access nursing, beanies to cover unkempt hair, a bright pair of comfy pants to add some kick, and ankle booties to keep it winter cool. Sunglasses are optional dependent on your level of sleep deprivation.



Churros Con Chocolate

Once upon a time, Matt and I had the ultimate pleasure of spending our morning lounging in a cafe in Malaga, Spain, dunking the most delectable churros into the most delicious hot chocolate I've ever tasted... Spanish hot chocolate to be precise. 

You know the hot chocolate from the movie Chocolat that makes your taste buds come alive and starts you drooling the moment those ribbons of thick, chocolatey goodness pour into the saucers? You can practically smell it through the screen! Well, to my good fortune, that cup of hot chocolate in that fab Spanish cafe was the hot chocolate of my dreams realized. It was a rather transcendent moment in my love affair with food, particularly that of the sugary variety.

I've successfully spent the last 3 years dreaming of the day we get to indulge in that experience once again, but have found a pretty spectacular alternative to satiate my chocolate-loving desires in the meantime. It's the perfect comfort food for this fall and winter season upon as, and easily boasts the makings of becoming a holiday breakfast or dessert tradition. I give you my go-to recipe for the almost authentic churros con chocolate!



1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup whole wheat flour (hey, I'm trying to make it a little healthier)
3 large eggs
vegetable oil, for frying
powdered sugar

Spanish Hot Chocolate
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 1/2 cups whole milk
3 oz (3 cubes) of unsweetened baking chocolate
1/2 cup sugar


In a small saucepan, combine butter and water and bring to a boil. Once mixture is boiling, add in flour and stir with a spoon until the dough comes together. Continue to stir and cook the dough for about 1 minute. Allow dough to cool off to a lukewarm temperature.

Transfer dough to a medium mixing bowl. Beat in the eggs one at a time, either by hand or with a mixer. Make sure each egg is well mixed in before adding the next. The batter may look wet before it comes together, but keep mixing and a smooth dough will form.

Transfer dough to a pastry bag fitted with a medium or large star tip. Pour about 2-inches of oil into a deep saucepan. Heat the oil over medium-high on the stove. 

Meanwhile, prepare the Spanish hot chocolate. Whisk together the cornstarch and milk. Add the milk mixture, chocolate, and sugar to a small saucepan. Barely bring it to a boil so the chocolate melts but the milk doesn't burn, stirring often, and cook until sauce has thickened. Remove from heat.

Pipe 5 to 6-inch pieces of churro dough into the hot oil and cook until golden brown, then flip and cook until golden on the second side (about 5-6 minutes total). Remove from oil and set on some paper towels to drain, then sprinkle with powdered sugar.

This recipe makes about 6-8 servings of Spanish hot chocolate and 20-25 churros.

Pour that glorious hot chocolate into small bowls or saucers and serve with a few churros on the side to dip. Enjoy the the chocolate coma that ensues and then get to planning your trip to Spain (trust me, it's worth it)!

*Recipe adapted from the Basic Bites food blog



Wesley Matthew's Birth

Tossing and turning in the quiet hours in the middle of the night, the cramps and tightening came on like a steady ebb and flow... at 2 am on Monday, October 28, to be exact.

I figured the uncomfortable pangs that were keeping me awake were just a stronger form of Braxton Hicks contractions preparing me for the big day, which was still another 3 weeks away. It couldn't be labor! 

Boy, was I terribly wrong.

To be sure I wasn't just being a boob and making things up in my mind, I began timing the pesky little contractions. The first one popped up lasting about 90 seconds. Hardly 5 minutes later, the next one sprang up... and the next at 7 minutes... and after that at 6 minutes. Not meticulously regular, but steady enough that I figured I ought to do something after an hour of laying and waiting in my bed. A shower sounded like a lovely idea. 

Standing there letting the hot water trickle down my back and the steam enwrap my body, I wondered if it was in fact the day we'd meet this little dude. But, there were so many items yet to be checked off on the new baby to do list! My hospital bag hadn't even been packed, for Pete's sake! We all know that was taken care of promptly with my OCD nesting instincts in overdrive.

Before I knew it, 5 am rolled around and I somehow miraculously fell back asleep for a couple of glorious hours. Matt went his usual way to work since I convinced myself this was simply false labor, but that changed, too, once we hit 10 am and I was still having contractions. All the water and rest in the world wasn't halting these suckers like the midwife recommended when I called in. It looked as if labor and delivery was the next stop on my ticket!

My sweet sister-in-law came to the rescue to pick up Luke for the day, Matt scurried home from work, and by 1 pm we found ourselves standing at the admissions desk of L&D saying, "Umm, I think I'm in labor?"

You see, I couldn't be sure because I was induced with Luke from a faulty amniotic sac AKA my water broke and I didn't know it. Was this or wasn't this the real deal? Labor is a tricky little thing, I must say.

On came the fetal and contraction monitors and there I sat scrolling through garbage afternoon TV on those chunky plastic hospital controllers with the giant buttons. Sure enough, tiny, steady mountains appeared on the monitor. The contractions were definitely not a figment of my imagination and they progressively became more strong. In 3 hours I had gone from barely a soft cervix to a dilation of 3, and any dilation meant we'd be meeting our little man very soon. The stubborn babe was still breech, which of course called for a c-section. I am sure the nurse thought I was a psycho as a fired my c-section questions at her like a torpedo.

"I am very prone to panic attacks, especially in hospitals... Will I be able to breathe?... Oh dear, what if I pass out?... Maybe we should just knock me out cold?... How big is the scar?... What if I feel it?...  Can I have a heart to heart with the anesthesiologist?"

Heart to heart the blessed anesthesiologist and I had -- that Dr. G. should consider a career in counseling should he ever decide to stop mixing sedative cocktails. He pinpointed my worries and concerns and even dug deeper on a psychological level, suggesting my fears stemmed from the need for control and a whole other bag of deep-rooted crazy lady issues adding to my apprehension. A modern day Freud, I tell you!

The clock struck 4:45 pm, Matt suited up in his white bunny suit and off they rolled me into the blinding florescent lights of the sterile operating room. Dr. G. had me hunch over on the small operating table and within 30 seconds my lower half was uselessly numb and limp. And I could breathe! I felt marvelously warm and relaxed, actually. It was like being wrapped in a blanket freshly pulled from the dryer. Dr. Brody then came in next and before I knew it, my insides were being shuffled around a bit (a strange feeling) and admired. She literally shouted out, "You have beautiful innards!" Why thank you, I thought in reply. I keep them nice and healthy with a strict diet of sugar, you know ;) 

Then that sound I'd been waiting the last 9 months for rang like a beautiful melody in my ears. Our sweet boy entered the world with a shrill cry of itty bitty helplessness at precisely 5:19 pm. To our surprise and happiness, his cord wasn't wrapped, my uterus was shaped normally, and our baby hadn't flipped head down because he was doing the full-on splits (quite the acrobat!). They lowered the drape, and I was able to take a peek at his perfectly round and gorgeous head before whisking him away to clear his lungs and wrap him all snug. Meanwhile, my impeccably shining innards were being returned to their rightful places and I laid there in a silly, impenetrable state of bliss. He was here safe and sound. Everything was just so serene and fulfilling, and as far away from the drama I initially imagined it to be.

Within 20 minutes the nurse rolled me into my recovery room where I was able to finally cuddle and nurse that darling new child of ours. Matt and I just stared and stared at this incredible new life in our arms. His cheeks and lips were kissably perfect and he had the roundest, softest baby head I have truly ever seen. The nurse weighed and measured him, with his stats ringing in at an ideal 7 lbs, 8 oz and 19.5 inches long, and a whopping Apgar score of 9.9 to boot! Practically perfect in every way.

Wesley Matthew Rodriguez, you are a gem and we are so lucky to be blessed as your parents. There is just something about you, kid. I can already tell you've a mind of your own, a strong sense of conviction and a special purpose in this world. You are golden and our lives radiate even brighter now that you're a part of our clan. We love you, Dubs.

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Finding "Balance" As A Parent

I can't think of a greater way to end this series of mama posts! I would like to introduce you to Anna of In Honor Of Design (whom you probably already know... she's kind of a big deal). Anna is one of my absolute favorite lifestyle bloggers where you can be sure to find amazing mama style inspiration, recipes, DIY tutorials, and all things beautiful in general. Oh, and she has an awesome new branding business for bloggers and entrepreneurs alike, called The Brand Market. Check it all out, you will love it!

After you have a baby, your life naturally shifts and adjusts. You need to reassess every few months to see if every one is doing okay and if anything needs to change. After Max came along, I tried to juggle everything I was doing before he came and still give the best of me to each of my children and my husband. I am sure you can guess how that went. It resulted in a lot tears… from both my kids and I… and a breaking point which forced me to evaluate my full plate and what had to go.

I was working the same hours in my graphic design job which I loved, and was pulling in that extra income we needed. I was starting a new business, running the blog, and attempting to have the house clean and dinner made by 5:30. Every minute of every day was occupied. I didn’t take the time to rest that you should be doing after you have a new baby. Reality called. 

Go go go, work and play, and do it all with a smile. I think in truth we were not meant to be so busy. Our bodies are not designed to handle loads of activity and stress. Sure, we may adapt and adjust and do just fine, but at the end of the day, the majority of us suffer as a result of putting all the BUSY in front of our own needs and our families real needs. 

My husband reminded me that if I was losing my sanity in the process of “balancing it all”, than something was out of order. Our children really just need our love. They need the best of us… not our leftovers after serving everything else on our plate. Even if everything else on that plate are all good things, it can still consume you, and over take those things that are most important. 

I since have parted ways with my graphic design job. Even though I loved the work and the additional income was a security for us, I have to trust it will be for the benefit of my family. I have gotten back into a time of prayer in the morning, and exercise at night. These simple changes have freed my spirit and mind in drastic ways, and as a result, I am a more patient mama and a more present wife. Not perfect… far from it, but hopefully improving each day. 

We all need maintenance every once in a while. A time to take a look at our lives and see what is front and center. I am fighting. Each day I am fighting the temptation to be busy and overfill my day. I am learning to say no, and learning to say yes to needing help more often. I am especially learning to just be. Hold my baby and stare at him as much as possible, have art project time with Veronica uninterrupted (she eats up the attention), ask Gabriel about his train station masterpieces he builds, sitting and listening about my husband's day, etc. etc. Being PRESENT in our loved ones life is the greatest gift we can give them.



Life With Two

It's here.

I am a mom of two.

It has been here for a whole 2 weeks and 1 day now! Me, Abbey, a mother of multiple children. Can you tell I am going through a bit of a surreal moment? I keep thinking over and over again of my 13-year old days, babysitting for married couples with budding, young families and thinking that they were a) old people and b) so... grown up. In the most cliche of words, it seems like it was practically yesterday. And now here I am, a part of that "old" married couple clan with a budding family of my own! What?! Pinch me, people. When did I grow up?

I had my fears and apprehensions about making enough room in my heart for two kids, but that is old news. I admit, I occasionally find myself missing the Luke and Abbey only days, because it is just... different. But different in the best way possible. Wrinkly grannies and seasoned mothers used to spout off on how "you won't be able to remember how it was before they came, dearie!" and I truthfully didn't feel that way when we had Luke. I fondly reminisced about my carefree days of walking out the door, unbound from car seats and diaper bags. And oh, the sleep! How I longed for the sleep that would forever be robbed of me for the next 18+ years. But not this time around. Luke settled us in to the whole parenthood gig beautifully, and welcoming Wesley was nothing short of spectacular. I honestly cannot remember what life was like without him, and I am happy to finally know that feeling (I was beginning to think there was something wrong with my motherhood emotions!).

Our home is more abundantly filled with love. Life is immensely more rich and complete. Everything makes just a little more sense, and I am living the ideal I never fully understood I wanted until now.

Thank you, Luke and Wes. You're my dreams realized.

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4 Wardrobe Basics For Moms

sweater: anthropologie | empire waist dress: thrifted | sunglasses: madewell

Meet Whitney from Lines of Best Fit. Her blog and family are just dreamy! Today Whitney is giving you some foolproof mama styling tips to keep you feeling comfortable and on-trend while keeping up with your little ones.

My style hasn't changed much over the years, even after having a baby. If anything, becoming a mother has only solidfied my love of comfortable, easy-to-wear (who has time to iron?!) dresses and lots of layers. My go-to places to shop are Madewell and Anthropologie, although I love finding local stores when we're traveling and etsy has some great vintage shops that offer a well-maintained variety of clothes and make thrifting for vintage pieces doable from home and a lot easier, especially with a baby.
Now when I shop, I am always looking for things that I could wear with a bump, too. Elastic waist bands on skirts, stretchy material and empire waist dresses make clothes wearable before, after and during a baby. 

Here are a few of my new mama must-haves: 

A good button down or two: My collection of button downs grew dramatically after I had Lyla. I nursed her for a year and there is just nothing easier or more comfortable than cute button downs like this one, which you could wear out to dinner or this flannel one which I practically live in. 

Comfortable dresses: I wore a lot of my dresses before, during and after having Lyla. I am always on the look-out for loose fitting dresses like this one or this one that you can feel great in no matter what stage your body is in. I also love empire waist dresses (like the one I am wearing in this post) for this reason, as well. 

A light-weight, go-with-everything scarf: Scarves are great, especially with a newborn because they can cover up just about everything that inevitably ends up on your shirt. Spit-up has finally met its match. You can wear a good light-weight scarf any time of year and it doesn't just function as a cover-up, it can transform jeans and any ol' t-shirt into something cute and fun. I like this infinity scarf. This one and this one are cute, too. 

Dria Nursing Cover: Last, but not least... the Dria Nursing Cover. By the time Lyla was 19 weeks old, she had been on 19 flights and at the time, we were living in Boston where we were out and about often, so I lived and died by this nursing cover. It is so great because it doesn't scream "I'M NURSING!" and you can use it so many different ways, plus it looks really cute on even when you're not nursing. It's especially wonderful those first few weeks when you feel like you're doing nothing but nursing. Pair it with a nursing tank (like this one) and its perfect for lounging at home and snuggling that sweet new baby all day. 

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DIY Baby Shoes

Hello! I'm Kenzie of THE WANDER YEARS, a lifestyle blog I started as an outlet for personal style and DIY projects when I was pregnant with my two month old daughter Maxine. The hope of 'THE WANDER YEARS is to inspire young family and all things creative and thrifted. Abbey and I have been blog pals for the last few months, and I was so honored when she asked me to guest post for her while she takes care of sweet, sweet Wesley. Isn't he the absolute cutest!?

When Abbey asked me to share a baby DIY project, my mind started spinning a million miles a minute trying to land the perfect project for the blog and the thing that kept coming up was baby shoes, the one thing I have been dying to try to make. So I got out a few thrifted materials and made it happen. I will not lie to you, the first shoe took quite some time for me to figure out (much longer than any mom of a newborn should spend on a project), but once I knew what I was doing and how the design should look I flew through the second one in maybe 20 minutes tops. And this is coming from someone who has zero ability to sew a straight line on the sewing machine, so I promise it can be done. These shoes are definitely girly with the lace detail I added, but take some twine and make them fit for a boy or ditch the laces and they kind of look like tiny TOMS.

**My dimensions: heel- 5 1/2in x 2in, sole- 5in x 2 1/2in, top/ toe- 5in x 3 1/2 in, laces- 7in.

1. Start by cutting out your pieces (see photo one). Two rectangles for the heel, two ovals for the sole, & two oddly shaped cut outs for the top or toe of the shoe.

2. Sew rectangles together on the sides and top and reverse so sewn edges are facing in. Sew the two strange pieces together on the top side and reverse. (Photo two).

3. Next take the rectangle piece that will be your heel and pin the center of it to the center of the oval sole (photo three) with the outside pieces both facing inward. Finish pinning heel to sole before stitching, working the pins all the way around the perimeter of the heel. Sew & reverse back to correct way to check for errors.

4. Flip shoe inside out again to pin and sew the top piece/ toe of the shoe. (The piece that has been sewn will be the top of the shoe by the laces and will not be stitched over again.) Just like with the heel take the middle of the curve and beginning pinning to the front, middle of the sole. Curve around with your pins. Now you should have at least two extra inches of the top of the shoe which you will fold over to create a simple gather on each side. Stitch around the perimeter of the toe.

5. Sew or hot glue the laces to the inside corners.

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Feeding New Moms: Leek, Spinach And Pancetta Quiche

Hey everyone! My name is Erin Collins and I blog about gluten-free food over at Meaningful Eats. I’m a lover of all things food; especially chocolate, dinner salads,  Sunday comfort food, and birthday cakes. I’m also a wife and mother to one very busy 2-year-old! I find joy making food for the people I love. 

To me, cooking is all about showing love and taking care of people. And nobody needs to be taken care of more than a new Mom! New moms need to be pampered and looked after so they can focus on the most important job of all - taking care of their new baby! When our son was born, it was such a magical and special time. It really was the beginning of a whole new adventure! I was so grateful to all the people that helped me out during those first few weeks.

My favorite kitchen "helper"! Now if only he'd stop growing...
When I was a brand new mother I remember that I wanted comfort food, but not anything really heavy. New nursing moms also have a unique set of nutritional needs. I think it is so cool that our bodies can make the ideal food for babies! Rest, water, and good food really help get that milk going.

One of my favorite things to make for a new mom is quiche. It is a great portable dish that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I remember life was really chaotic when our son was born, and we ate at the most random times. With the quiche, you can just put it in the refrigerator then heat up a slice as needed! Quiche is also full of healthy fats and protein, which is great for nursing mothers.

Leek, spinach, and pancetta is one of my favorite quiche combinations! This quiche is baked in a toasty, almond flour crust, which has the most amazing, buttery-flavor. Another reason I love almond flour crust is that it is so easy to make! You just pulse the ingredients together in a food processor then press the dough into a pie pan. No chilling or rolling needed! This is good for me because my pie rolling and shaping skills are unimpressive, to say the least. If you don’t usually bake with almond flour, you can find almond meal at Trader Joe’s, Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal in the baking section of most grocery stores, or you can buy it from Honeyville on Amazon.

This quiche is fantastic with the addition of goat cheese, but if you have a dairy-allergy it is still delicious and super flavorful without it. I know many mothers who have had to be dairy-free while nursing because their baby had a dairy sensitivity. This quiche is perfect if that is the case!

Some of my other favorite foods to bring to new moms are:

Casserole-Style Dishes (Portable and reheat wonderfully):
Enchiladas Verde - My favorite enchilada recipe. Comforting, but not too heavy.
Baked Ziti - This is Cook’s Illustrated Baked Ziti recipe and it is the best you’ll ever have! Way better than lasagna in my opinion.

Soups (Again portable, and reheatable):
Butternut Squash - Luscious and creamy with no added cream.
Chicken Tortilla - A family favorite! This is based on Ina Garten’s amazing recipe.

Muffins (Great for snacking and having around the house):
Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins - Comforting and perfect for this time of year!
Gluten-Free Apple Crumb Muffins - A favorite at our house.
Grain-Free Zucchini Muffins - A reader’s favorite on my blog. Sweetened with banana and full of protein.

Smoothies (New moms need to stay hydrated. You have never know thirst until you’ve nursed a baby!):
Strawberry Almond Coconut Water Smoothie - Full of hydrating coconut water and whole-food protein.
Chocolate Banana Avocado Smoothie - Another reader favorite. A light and creamy, healthy treat!

Leek, Spinach, and Pancetta Quiche
For the crust:
2 cups almond flour
2 tablespoons coconut oil or butter, softened
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the quiche:
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 ounces pancetta (or bacon), sliced into small pieces
1 leek, white and light green parts washed and sliced into half moons
3 ounces spinach, roughly chopped
6 eggs
1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese (optional)

1. For the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 F. In the bowl of the food processor, pulse the almond flour and salt together. Add the coconut oil and egg and process until the mixture forms a ball. Press the dough evenly into a greased 9-inch pie plate. Pre-bake the crust for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool slightly while you prepare the rest of the quiche. Reduce the oven heat to 325 F.

2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until crispy, about 8-10 minutes. Remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon and place on a paper-towel-lined plate. Pour all but 1 tablespoon of the grease out of the skillet. Add the leeks to the pancetta fat and cook until softened, 6-8 minutes. Add the spinach to the leeks and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool.

3. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, coconut milk, nutmeg, salt and pepper. When the pancetta and leek mixture are cool, add them to the eggs and whisk to combine. Stir in the goat cheese. Pour the mixture into the prepared pie crust and bake at 325 F for 25-30 minutes, until the center is set. Cool completely before serving. Store leftovers in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

Crust recipe adapted from The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook