How to make vegan panna cotta (via abeautifulmess.com)  Panna Cotta with Pineapple Chia Glaze (via abeautifulmess.com) I am definitely a texture person when it comes to food. I love all manner of puddings, custards, cream pies, etc. If I ever lose my teeth, I'll be fine. It'll be all green smoothies and chocolate pudding from then on out. 

Just kidding. And also, WHAT MADE MY TEETH FALL OUT?!?! I've actually had that exact nightmare before. 

Anyway, let's focus. We've got something very important to talk about today and that's panna cotta. For the most part I think of panna cotta in much the same way I think of creme brûlée or pots de creme: namely, a fancy restaurant version of pudding. Of course, they are not all the same. Panna cotta is more often made with gelatin while those other two I listed are baked custards. But what they all have in common is a silky, smooth texture and the ability to make them well ahead of when you plan to serve them. 

So basically, they are a win win in my book. :)

How to make vegan panna cotta (via abeautifulmess.com)   I recently got a little bit obsessed with making panna cotta at home. It's not a difficult dish to make; it's actually super easy. But I also wanted to learn to make a vegan version. And I tried out a bunch of different toppings during those trial and error sessions. The result, other than me eating a bunch of panna cotta, is I've got some tips for you no matter which version you plan to make, and I've got a really fun, tropical topping suggestion as well. 

How to make vegan panna cotta (via abeautifulmess.com)Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta, serves 4-5.
Recipe and method first learned and adapted slightly from David Lebovitz

2 cups heavy whipping cream*
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean
1 packet gelatin (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
3 tablespoons cold water

*You can use heavy whipping cream for all 2 cups here for a truly decadent dessert. But I've found that this also works very well with a mix of half and half and heavy cream, or all half and half, or even all whole milk. It just depends on how rich you it to be. 

Scrape the seeds from inside the vanilla bean with a tip of a knife. Add these to a bowl with the sugar. Use your clean hands to blend together so the vanilla seeds get mixed into all the sugar. I find that this works better than simply whisking the seeds in after scraping as they sometimes tend to clump together.

In a medium to large size bowl, add the cold water (not hot, this will make your gelatin clump) and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Set aside.

In a medium sized pot, combine the cream, sugar, and vanilla seeds (which are already mixed into the sugar at this point). Heat the mixture over medium to high heat and whisk just until the sugar dissolves. The mixture should be quite warm, but not so hot that it is in danger of boiling. Pour the warm mixture over the gelatin and whisk together. Now pour into your ramekins or serving glasses and refrigerate for at least four hours or up to three days. 

How to make vegan panna cotta (via abeautifulmess.com) Vegan Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta, serves 4-5.
Recipe and method adapted from The Blenderist (If you're vegan, check out her site. It's really good.)

2 cups cashew milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean
1 1/2 teaspoons agar powder (sometimes called agar agar or kanten)
2 tablespoons hot water

The ingredient list looks very similar, but the cooking method is a little different as it's important to cook the agar powder much more than you would gelatin. If you don't, it will not set up and you'll be left with a weird, gloopy liquid. Eww. 

Start by scraping the seeds from the vanilla bean into a small bowl with the sugar. Use your clean hands to blend them together so no big masses of vanilla seeds are left. 

In a medium to large pot, combine the cashew milk and sugar with the vanilla seeds. Cook over medium/high heat, whisking to dissolve the sugar. 

While that is heating up, dissolve the agar powder in a small bowl with 2 tablespoons hot water. You want the water very hot here so the agar powder will dissolve. Now add this mixture to the pot with your cashew milk. Continue to cook over medium/high heat for another 5 minutes. The mixture will begin to thicken slightly and easily coat your spoon. 

Pour into your ramekins or serving glasses and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to three days. If you want to create a fun slanted look to your puddings, you can place your glass slanted in a muffin pan before pouring, the mixture will sit up in this position. 

Horned melonAs I mentioned, I made quite a few different toppings while I was testing out each of the panna cotta recipes. One of the toppings involved this fruit you see in the photo above. It's called cuke-asaurus, or horned melon. I randomly saw these in my grocery store and immediately wanted to try it because I'd never eaten one before. Turns out the inside is sort of like a cucumber meets pomegranate. It's filled with seeds (that are quite bland, but edible) and a sort of greenish gel that surrounds the seeds. I made a jelly from the gel, which took a lot of effort as it involved straining out the seeds. And in the end, I just didn't really like the taste of this fruit. And given that it's actually quite a bit of work to get any fruit out of it in the first place, I don't think I'll be buying these again. 

Random story, I know. Just thought I'd share. Have any of you guys tried one of these before? Thoughts?

My favorite topping for these turned out to be a  pineapple and chia glaze. It's very similar to my chia jam recipe, but not quite as thick in consistency. 

Pineapple glaze, can easily top 8-9 panna cotta servings, so feel free to cut in half if you need.

2 cups fresh pineapple, cubed (about 10 oz. or one small pineapple once the top, sides, and core are removed)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (or if you have left over vanilla beans, that could work well too)
2 teaspoons chia seeds

In a small pot, combine the cubed pineapple, sugar, and vanilla extract. Cook over medium heat, stirring so the sugar doesn't stick to the pot for 4-5 minutes until the pineapple releases lots of its juices and becomes soft enough to cut with the side of a fork easily. Use an immersion blender or transfer to a blender to puree. Place back in the pot but reduce the heat to low and add in the chia seeds. Cook for another 5-6 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken. Then allow to cool before you use, it will thicken up more as it cools. 

Panna Cotta with Pineapple Chia Glaze (via abeautifulmess.com)  Panna Cotta with Pineapple Chia Glaze (via abeautifulmess.com)   If you used ramekins or small bowls for your panna cotta and you want to unmold them before serving, simply run a knife along the inside edges and then submerge the sides (but not the top) of the dish in hot water. Place a serving dish over the top and flip over. You may need to give it a few taps, but it should come out pretty easily. 

If you don't want to bother with unmolding, you can simply serve in small juice or wine glasses, or even leave them in the ramekins. Totally up to you. 

Panna Cotta with Pineapple Chia Glaze (via abeautifulmess.com)    Top with the pineapple glaze, and you're good to go. The same day I bought those horned melons I also saw a small container or candied kumquats. I know! It was an adventurous grocery trip. I must have been in a mood. At any rate, I still had some, so I decided to halve them and serve over the top of this batch just because I thought it looked pretty. This is totally optional though. If you don't have candied kumquats but want to add a little something, try a maraschino cherry—then it's almost a Pina Colada panna cotta. :) Enjoy! xo. Emma

Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions

Messy Books from abeautifulmess.com Messy Books from abeautifulmess.com Messy Books from abeautifulmess.com   Today is a very special Scrapbook Sunday because we have a super exciting announcement to make: new Messy Books will be launching this week! Wahoo!!!!!! Even though they won't be available on our shop site until Wednesday (Feb 10th), we wanted to give you guys a sneak peek. 

In case you are new around here, Messy Books are our exclusive albums that you can use for scrapbooking or as a photo album. They are great for storing memories, and they will look beautiful on your shelf for years to come when you aren't looking through them. :) 

We are SO excited about this year's editions for two reasons:
1. We have new designs that I am super proud of and have been DYING to share with you guys.
2. Two of the designs come in a new, smaller size! For all you mini album enthusiasts out there. :)

Lets stay home album Stripe albumThe 4x4 mini album sizes feature a black + white "Let's Stay Home" pattern and a white + gold hand drawn stripe. 

Polka dot album Marble albumThe larger 9x12 albums come in two designs as well. One is a black + white hand drawn polka dot design and the other is a pink + purple marble. Swoon! 

Every Messy Book comes with a few page protectors already, but we've also (finally! yay!) restocked our shop with refills so you can get more if you need. 

We can't wait to see which albums you love the most! Be sure to check back later this week when they become available in our shop to get more details. xo. Elsie

Credits // Author: Elsie Larson. Photography: Janae Hardy. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess Actions

Before and After! Edited with A Color Story appHey, guys! Jeff Mindell here. I'm a freelance photographer based out in L.A., and I guess it's no secret I really like taking photos. I lead a fairly hectic (but fun!) life and am always on the go. I take so many photos on my phone and am always looking to streamline my editing process.

At this point, you can basically do anything you want editing-wise with mobile, but it wasn't until a few months ago when I started playing around with A Color Story (I was a part of the test group) that I realized how attention to color vibrancy was lacking in the app space. I'm pretty stoked at how user-friendly this app is along with the attention to detail when it comes to tools and image manipulation!

For me, I really love shooting bright and airy interior spaces (check out my #jminteriorspaces hashtag on Instagram!), and lately I've been using A Color Story to really help my images pop. Let's dive in!

Combo1Tip 1. Decide how you want your photo to look, lighting and color-wise, ahead of time.

If I'm shooting an interior space, I tend to selective adjust the whites of my image and either reduce the warmth or desaturate entirely. I find that removing even the faintest of color in a part of my image that I want to be a true white can make a huge difference! On the other hand, if you are someone who's wanting to embrace the natural warmth of sunlight for example, you might choose to retain the warmer tones of your image as it might lend to a different end result. Entirely up to you!

Combo5Tip 2. I always want my interiors to look bright and airy, but also as natural as possible.

By that, I mean that I want to keep my shadows dark and my highlights at a slightly reduced level. (For me, there is a fine line between the perfect amount of highlights and the image becoming too 'hot' or overexposed. Use this tool sparingly! The idea is to keep the space generally as is, just bringing out the really good features. When using A Color Story, pick a filter that works for your photo by brightening and/or smoothing your whites, but keep in mind those highlights! Maybe bring the filter intensity down to 50-60% and reevaluate. (If you're comfortable using it, the Curves edit option under the 'Tools' menu is awesome!) One more note is that I generally always push the image just a smidge brighter at the last minute before posting. Just be sure to compensate that brightness with lowered highlights to balance everything out!

Combo2Tip 3. Composition is key.

I always try to find balance when shooting an interior space. You want the image to draw the viewer in and be aesthetically pleasing. I pay attention to natural lines in a space, vanishing points, and also the rule of thirds. (After I am done with the editing and manipulation of the image's colors and tones, I often use Instagram's built-in guide lines to help me with that last part!)

Combo4 copyTip 4. Let your colors pop!

Until you saturate to the point of no return and your image no longer looks realistic, I say the more colorful the better. ACS is awesome for this as well. Depending on the image I'm working on, some of my favorite filters are Punchy, Everyday, Lipstick, and Fresh Air (at a medium intensity). Fortunately, there are so many great filters the ABM team built into this app, so the best thing to do is experiment and figure out your ideal editing 'recipe'. 

Edited with A Color StoryTip 5. Take many, many photos of what you are shooting!

For every interior space I share, I most likely will have taken 20-30 images of that same environment before I choose my final frame. Might as well have more to choose from later, right? ;)

Let me know if you have any questions! -Jeff

Note from Elsie—Hey, guys! I hope you are enjoying these A Color Story tips posts every Saturday. If you have any topics you'd like us to cover, we'd love to hear your requests! :D 

So pretty! Hanging Flower Heart DIY (click through for tutorial)          I have always loved Valentine's Day. Maybe it's because my middle name is literally Valentine (Yes, Laura Valentine Gummerman. It's on my driver's license, I swear!), but I think it's also because of all the sweets and shades of pink that float around this time of year. I'm a total sucker for it. I've had a lot of fun doing decorations for intimate Valentine's Day dinners in years past, and this year I thought it would be fun to make some hanging decor to hang over our pink breakfast nook table. I love to use the inexpensive faux flowers from dollar stores to make a block of texture, and I thought they would be the perfect choice for a large floating heart above the table.

So pretty! Hanging Flower Heart DIY (click through for tutorial)             Supplies:
- faux flowers (I used about 12 bunches total. Pick the big ones—they'll fill the heart faster!)
- hot glue gun
- sheets of styrofoam
- serrated bread knife/electric turkey carver/jig saw to cut the styrofoam
cup hooks
- clear fishing line
- command hooks
- balsa wood
- glitter paper

So pretty! Hanging Flower Heart DIY (click through for tutorial)             First you'll want to trace your heart onto your styrofoam. If you don't feel confident to do this freehand, you can always sketch it out on a large piece of craft paper first and then trace it onto the styrofoam. You can see that in order to fit the size of heart I wanted, I had to cut off a corner of one piece and glue it onto the bottom to fit the tail of the heart. Use your hot glue gun to attach the pieces of styrofoam together to make one solid shape.

So pretty! Hanging Flower Heart DIY (click through for tutorial)             Next, use a serrated bread knife, electric turkey carver, or a jig saw to cut out your shape from the styrofoam. If you go the bread knife route, you may want to wait to glue the pieces together until after you cut them since it's a little rougher on the material. The jig saw cut through the styrofoam like a hot knife through butter, which is another reason I keep telling you guys you should get one!!!!

So pretty! Hanging Flower Heart DIY (click through for tutorial)             When your heart is cut out, pull or cut your flowers off of the stems and use the hot glue to attach the flowers directly onto the heart. Notice how your faux flower is assembled though—sometimes they will fall apart if you cut them off the stem in the wrong area. Since I got three colors of pink for a gradient effect, I filled the lightest flowers in on the top third first, then filled in the bottom third with the darkest, and then completed the middle section last. 

So pretty! Hanging Flower Heart DIY (click through for tutorial)             You can also cover the sides with flowers if you want to, but you'll want to buy smaller varieties in the same color so they don't stick way over the sides and make your shape definition a little mushy.

So pretty! Hanging Flower Heart DIY (click through for tutorial)             So pretty! Hanging Flower Heart DIY (click through for tutorial)             I made an arrow and arrow tail out of balsa wood, and then cut pieces of glitter paper the same size and hot glued them all together.

So pretty! Hanging Flower Heart DIY (click through for tutorial)             To hang the heart, I glued a cup hook into the top of each of the heart "humps" and stuck 2 command hooks onto the ceiling where I wanted the heart to hang (about the same distance apart that the cup hooks are). Then I tied the heart to the hooks with fishing wire for an "invisible" look.

So pretty! Hanging Flower Heart DIY (click through for tutorial)             Once the heart was hanging, I stuck each half of the arrow in opposite ends of the heart, and my work was done!

So pretty! Hanging Flower Heart DIY (click through for tutorial)             So pretty! Hanging Flower Heart DIY (click through for tutorial)             I LOVE how this turned out! It's such a big statement piece, and since they are faux flowers, you can leave it up as long as you like or even save it for next year. This would also be really cute as a photo booth backdrop for a Valentine's Day party. Hope you find an occasion to make this pretty project! I totally won't blame you if the 14th comes and goes and you just "forget" to take this one down...xo. Laura

Credits // Author and Photography: Laura Gummerman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

Kale pasta with easy garlic sauce (via abeautifulmess.com)  About three years ago, Trey got me a set of pasta making attachments for my KitchenAid mixer—and everything changed. 

OK, not everything. But I did learn to make and appreciate fresh homemade pasta. The texture is out of this world! I love dry pasta too, as it certainly takes WAY less time to throw a meal together using it, but fresh pasta is worth the effort when you have the time to make it. 

Somehow I pretty much always end up making homemade pasta at least once or twice around this time of year. I think with Valentine's on my mind, I just figure February is the month to spend a few nights making an extra special homemade meal if you're into that kind of thing. And I'm WAY in it. :)

Kale pasta with easy garlic sauce (via abeautifulmess.com)   This dish features pasta made with a whole cup of kale! It gets topped with a two minute butter, oil, and garlic situation. Then you throw on some Parmesan cheese and a big squeeze of lemon, and you're in business. The pasta takes time to make, but everything else about this meal comes together in minutes! I love that the topping on this dish just enhances the flavor and texture of the fresh pasta. 

Have I convinced you to make this yet? Good, let's do this. 

How to make homemade pastaKale Pasta with Easy Garlic Sauce, makes 4 generous servings.

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour*
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 yolks
1/2 cup kale juice**

For the sauce:
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves of garlic
1 lemon
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Let's address those asterisks first. I used 1/2 cup of whole wheat pastry flour in this pasta, but if you prefer to use only all-purpose, you can easily use 2 full cups instead of the 1 1/2 listed. 

Next, what is kale juice? Is that something only Whole Foods sells? (Maybe.) I made 1/2 cup of kale juice by blending together 1 cup (about 1.75 oz.) of raw kale, large veins removed, and 1/3 cup water. You can do this in a good blender (I used my Vitamix) or a food processor. You could also make real kale juice with a juicer. No matter your method, you want the juice to be, well, very liquid. You do NOT want large pieces of raw kale still present as this will not make for that smooth pasta texture we're going for. 

Homemade kale pastaIn a large mixing bowl combine the flours, oil, yolks, and kale juice. Stir together until a loose dough ball forms. Then knead together with your clean hands. If your dough does not hold together and is still very crumbly, it may need more moisture. Just add a teaspoon or two of water at a time until you are able to press it into a ball. You don't want excessive amounts of moisture here, but it does need to hold together. 

Now you can roll and cut pasta by hand, but I've already revealed that this is not what I do. :) I have a pasta roller that attaches to my KitchenAid mixer. I simply follow the manufacturer's instructions to roll out the dough, and then I use a fettuccine attachment to cut. Have a plan for how you are going to hang your pasta so it won't stick together while you get your water ready, or for where you will dry it out so you can store it in the refrigerator. A pasta rack is great, but you can also just get creative. 

You can read more details on rolling, cutting, and drying pasta here.

Homemade kale pasta (via abeautifulmess.com)Now you've made kale pasta! Hooray!

If you are cooking your pasta the same day you make it, then get some salted water boiling! Fresh pasta will cook faster than dry; I cooked mine for about 5-6 minutes. 

While the pasta is boiling, get your sauce ready. Mince the garlic. In a small saucepan melt the butter and oil together over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute, just until it begins to brown and becomes very fragrant. 

Toss the sauce over the cooked, drained pasta. 

Kale pasta with easy garlic sauce (via abeautifulmess.com) Top with salt, pepper, Parmesan, and a few fresh herbs if you have them (I used parsley and thought it went great with this!). Serve with a lemon wedge to be squeezed over everything just before eating. I know, I'm getting a bit bossy here, but trust me! The bright pop of lemon juice goes great with the subtle kale flavor in this dish. Happy pasta making! xo. Emma

Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions

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