Jalapeño Cheddar Scalloped Potatoes (Gluten-Free, Vegan)

I’ve been a bit impulsive lately. Mainly with shopping, chores, and cooking, painting my toenails red – nothing dangerous (but if you knew me, my toes have never been anything other than white or French pink… so this is the real deal).

I bought a mandolin off of Amazon a few months ago. To be completely honest, I forgot I bought it, much like several other kitchen gadgets. I get excited, have an idea, buy a tool I need, get a recipe together, lose track of time, lose said-recipe, and *poof!* Just like that, a thought now gone far, far away.

I have been craving scalloped potatoes. I can remember my mom as a kid, making Betty Crocker boxed potatoes, and I absolutely loved it. I even tried to eat one of those dehydrated potatoes – PSA – they are not like potato chips. But, with the weird powder mix, the milk, the water…. It just didn’t really seem that appealing to me once I learned how to cook. As a potato connoisseur, I’m surprised I haven’t tried to make them sooner. A regular cheese sauce is easy… anyone can do that. But I wanted a challenge. After rummaging through my cabinet and finding a big old fat potahto, it came to me.

Homemade… dairy free.. why stop there!? Vegan scalloped potatoes, it was.

Now, everyone knows the best part of cheese is, well, cheese. It’s melty, delicious, can be put on pretty much anything. I am a cheese lover, and I don’t have a major sensitivity to dairy, but I respect that it should be used in moderation from a health standpoint… and moderation with cheese is just lame.

I ran to the store and grabbed the first dairy-free cheese that looked good – I landed on Follow Your Heart’s Vegan Cheddar Shreds, and hoped for the best. Let me just say…… this was the perfect choice, because the potatoes came out absolutely delicious.

Enough blabbering, you all need to make these ASAP.

 

Jalapeño Cheddar Scalloped Potatoes (Gluten-Free, Vegan)

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Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 40 min

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 3 medium-large baking potatoes, peeled
  • 1 can of full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 cup of Follow Your Heart’s cheddar shreds
  • ½ cup vegetable broth, plus more if needed
  • ½ tbsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tbsp paprika
  • ½ tsp salt, plus more to taste
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 large jalapeño, finely chopped – ribs and seeds removed

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Using a mandolin, slice your potatoes into about 1/4 to 1/8 inch slices. (If you are very skilled with a knife, you can use a knife, but please be careful)
  3. Place the potatoes on a plate or baking sheet and gently pat dry with a paper towel. Add a pinch of salt – not to give a lot of flavor, this is more to help them dry out as you cook your sauce.
  4. In a medium sized saucepan, bring your coconut milk and vegetable broth to a boil. Once bubbling, turn down to medium low heat. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, paprika and jalapeno and continue to stir.
  5. Add your cheese – you may need to turn the heat back up to medium if you don’t see it start to melt. Using a whisk, ensure the mixture stays piping hot but does not burn, so that the vegan cheese can melt. If you find the sauce starts to get too thick, you can add more vegetable broth, a splash at a time. At this point – taste your sauce. It should have a good kick, perhaps more than you’d normally season a sauce – remember, the potato starch will absorb a lot of it, so you want some flavor!
  6. As the sauce simmers, arrange your potatoes into an 8×8 baking dish – no need to grease, the coconut milk prevents the potatoes from sticking to the bottom. Arrange the potatoes in several layers so that each slice is mostly flat but stacked on top of each other. If you use a different sized baking pan, this is fine – your potatoes may not stack as deep but that shouldn’t be a problem.
  7. Pour the sauce over your potatoes so that they are almost completely covered. If you feel you need more sauce, you can add a splash of vegetable broth to the top, and poke potatoes around with a fork to gently mix the sauce. The potatoes will absorb a lot, so no need to worry about mixing the sauce uniformly if this is needed.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until top starts to get golden brown. Remove from heat and add a dash of salt and pepper to the top (this is added now rather than before, so that the potatoes don’t absorb and diffuse the salt right away upon cooking)
  9. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes and serve.

 

Enjoy!

-S

 

Black Eyed Pea Cakes with Adobo Cream Sauce (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

I have a question for all of you – have you noticed something?

There’s been a lot of turmoil lately, just in the air. Not necessarily in my life…. My job is alright, my pony is behaving himself, my friends and family are alright, but the world seems as though it’s in shambles.

As I made a few new recipes for you all, an ad came on during a Seinfeld commercial break. It was some guy, Tom Steyer, that Google apparently names as a “leftist CNN-supporting billionaire against Trump”. I don’t claim to support this man – in fact, I only found out who he was a mere 20 minutes ago, and that descriptive quote I pulled was straight out of Google. Without discussing politics, where you stand on the political spectrum, or whose beliefs you support, I just wanted to bring up the concept of moral identity. And as this man’s commercial praised “following your moral compass”, it still carried a morose undertone that I just can’t ignore, even though it opposes a man that ruffles more feathers I can even convey.

What makes me think of “moral identity” are two particular old memories that I can’t seem to get rid of. The first of two was an awkward run-in with an elementary school bully. She took issue with me because I was scrawny, and obsessed with horses, had teeth that grew in before anything else on my body, and that I never felt it necessary to defend myself when she poked fun at me. I never needed my friends to defend me, but I also wondered why they never took issue with anything this nasty little girl said to me. Was it the by-stander effect? Were they afraid she might target them? I wasn’t quite sure. Years passed, I haven’t seen her, but it still bums me out that people carry that kind of energy with them where they get their strength by bringing down others.

Another time, many years later, I had a class with a girl who never seemed to have the awareness that others might not “jive” with her jokes, her hobbies or social quirks. Was that her problem? Absolutely not, it was ours. Yet, I knew how it felt to have everyone’s eyes on you, everyone waiting for you to take another misstep – I made sure to never say anything mean to this girl, because it’s just cruel.

There was a History class we had, with a teacher that may have not gotten his revenge on high school bullies, himself – he allowed the most asinine badgering, bullying and taunting, right during his lesson plans. I remember it like it was yesterday – he held a debate, and we got to choose our side. It ended up being the entire class against this same girl, who, while she didn’t agree, wanted to make a point by arguing “devil’s advocate”.  She was wicked smart – you could tell she may not have agreed with what she was arguing for, but she made a darn good convincing argument for the sake of seeing the other side. After a few jabs back and forth, one punk decided to make his argument personal, bridging the divide between our classroom prompt, and her personal life. As he made his comment and looked behind him for support, each person gathered the confidence to make another small jab themselves – none were stopped by our teacher. This went on for what felt like an eternity, but after only a few minutes, I remember standing up and asking, ‘what the hell is wrong with all of you? Are you all serious, right now?’

Now, I don’t want anyone sitting here thinking I was some classroom hero – my brief bout of confidence was quickly shattered by my classmates telling me I was overreacting, that they were just kidding, and that maybe I needed the jokes towards myself so I would have thicker skin. It really didn’t feel that way in the moment, though. I truly remember that day like it was yesterday, and it makes me sick. It was really that moment where I drew a line in the sand with myself and what I felt was right vs. wrong, and it established that anything crossing that line was unacceptable to me. By doing so, it was up to me to stand up for something that I felt was morally unacceptable.

Do you know what makes me feel that same way? The divisive nature of almost everything I see, on every news outlet, everywhere.

I try to take a more humanistic approach – help those who need it by doing your best to teach them independence and self-sustainability. I’ve taken up volunteering, so that I feel as though I’m making at least whatever small change I can towards causes I feel passionate about. I know that I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t love lower taxes, less worry about people I don’t know, and less money going out the door – but what’s our end result that we’re seeking? Are we really trying to help the greater good? Again – I am not taking side with any political party as they stand today… but when is the last time you removed yourself from the equation, looked around you, and said to yourself, “What is really going to help us all have a better day tomorrow?”

This seems idealistic, but I’m just yearning to see more compassion as I look around today. I want to see people helping each other, people acknowledging each other’s best qualities, and respecting each other’s flaws. Should you take a strong stance on any issue, I just hope that you bring it upon yourself to respect, acknowledge, and explore someone else’s opposing opinion before you disregard it.

On a lighter note, this recipe kind of signifies “looking at another perspective”, and respecting it as it is. Beans and Legumes are not paleo – in fact, I don’t like to eat beans anyway, because… they’re a bit noisy. But they do have their health benefits, and I know that someone somewhere out there likes them. If you make the portions smaller, you could even make these as an appetizer!

If you’re still reading – I’m glad you’re able to respect someone else’s viewpoint if you happen to stand on the other side of the fence. There’s a serious energetic shift going on right now – people are growing tired of the same-old. I truly hope we take this opportunity to put kindness first – I think all of us can use it.

Black Eyed Pea Cakes with Adobo Cream Sauce (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

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Ingredients

  •  1 4oz can of coconut cream, refrigerated
  • 1 teaspoon adobo sauce
  • 2 (14oz) cans no-salt-added black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1 cup plaintain chips, finely crushed
  • 1 tablespoon onion, chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, finely chopped; seeds and ribs removed
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 cups raw spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp ghee

 

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, combine coconut cream, pinch of salt and adobo sauce. Once thoroughly mixed, place into the refrigerator to chill and prevent from melting.
  2. In a large frying pan, add onion, bell pepper and ghee. Sauté on medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and spinach, and continue to cook until onions start to brown, another 4-5 minutes. (do not cover the pan, as you want to allow the water to evaporate out of the spinach). Once finished, remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, drain and rinse one of the cans of beans, and pulse in food processor until completely mashed into a paste – you may need to add a pinch of olive oil to keep the mixture from sticking to the sides. Separately, drain, rinse and place other can of beans into a large bowl, and lightly mash with fork. You want to keep about half of the beans in this portion still intact for added texture.
  4. Once beans are finished in the food processor, mix both portions of beans together in the bowl, along with almond flour, onion, pepper, spinach, garlic, egg and spices. The mixture, at room temperature, should be sort of thick and sticky, like cookie dough. To make sure it’s easier to form, place in freezer for 15-20 minutes, so that mixture can hold a shape when formed.
  5. As the mixture chills, pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees F. Once the mix is removed from the freezer, take a small lime-sized scoop of it, and shape each scoop into a 1/2-inch-thick patty. Roll the patty in plantain chips, ensuring it’s fully coated.
  6. Place each patty on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for ~25 minutes, or until crust starts to brown. About 10 minutes before the cakes are finished, remove the adobo cream sauce from the fridge, stirring occasionally.
  7. Top each cake with a spoonful of adobo cream mixture and serve… perhaps with some Garlic-Tahini Kale Salad? J

 

Enjoy,

S

8 Easy Paleo Alternatives To Your Every Day Diet

As a follower of the Paleo diet*, I try to adhere to the basic principles as best I can, unless I absolutely must eat French fries and drink beer. I have zero dietary allergies or restrictions, but do this more to maintain a healthy lifestyle with some flexibility.

A lot of people as why I care so much about eating things that follow the Paleolithic diet, and why I think it’s a relevant lifestyle in 2017. Let’s be honest, if it were 45,000 BCE and I were wearing a mammoth loincloth, running around barefoot and gathering nuts, seeds and berries for my young…. I probably wouldn’t be ordering Coconaise off of Amazon, or eating Dijon Crusted Chicken (which you should definitely try….).

But… that was then, this is now, and we have OPTIONS! Woo! The concept of the Paleolithic diet is to eat things in the purest form your body can tolerate. I don’t recommend tearing at raw meat as I’m sure someone out there does, but you don’t want to eat processed and refined foods if you can help it. The idea is to avoid an overabundance of carbs from the wrong sources, or to eat anything that inherently impacts the digestive system of an omnivore/carnivore. This part is debated — I am not a scientist, an anthropologist or anything certified to make assumptions about the human body– I have done my own research and have concluded that I feel best when eating this way, except with limited red meat.

So, how easy is it to make the swap on your favorite things? Easier than you think. Don’t be afraid to get creative, and as always, load up on the spices. Always. Bland is only ok when you’re sick! Bring on the zest!

 

Milk

almond-milk

While I used to drink milk as a kid in my cereal, I have really grown out of the idea of dairy as a whole, but most importantly, no milk. My mom only ever bought skim anyway, so there wasn’t anything big as far as taste. If you’re dairy-sensitive, vegan, or just don’t feel like drinking another animal’s by-product, you can enjoy plant-based milks. I find almond milk to be the most versatile when cooking dinner, but specific ones can be used depending on your need. Almond, flax or rice milk work best in desserts, whereas coconut milk and cream work best when making a “cream-based” dish, like this Caprese Chicken recipe.

 

Butter

ghee.jpg

Though this isn’t a great swap for vegans, I love using ghee when cooking, whenever I can. It lends a nice richness to the dish, and is a good saturated fat, just like avocado. It’s good for people who have casein or lactose sensitivities, and it’s a great source of vitamin E. Also, it has a higher smoke point than butter, so it’s great for the frying pan.

 

Bread

sweet potato

Who doesn’t love a fresh hot French baguette out of the oven? I mean, I do. But honestly, since I could and would probably eat an entire one myself, I’m glad to stick to a paleo regimen that avoids bread. If I’m making a burger, or want to eat a little crostini, I love to roast sweet potato or eggplant until crisp so that I can use it as a bun. If you want something a little more wild, put whatever you’re eating between a roasted slab of bell pepper.

 

Flour

flour

This one can be tricky, and you have to get creative. There’s a ton of alternatives to all-purpose wheat flour, and sticking to a paleo diet is great if you have a gluten sensitivity or allergy. I tend to stick to almond flour, as it’s a 1:1 ratio to all-purpose flour, but depending on how “wet” the other ingredients are, sometimes it requires more egg or another binding agent. so the recipe might need to be altered. Cassava flour is also 1:1 and a great alternative. Coconut flour is on the rise, but is MUCH more absorbent than its counterparts. For a cup of regular flour, you’ll only need to use 1/4-1/3 of coconut flour. Typically, you’ll need to add more liquid or eggs. While baking, this usually means more eggs.

 

Breadcrumbs

breadcrumbs

Again…. I love bread, so it’s a disappointment when I have to think about giving it up. Especially panko bread crumbs! A great alternative to breading things with breadcrumbs is crushed plantains, flax meal, or crushed almonds. If you’re adding breadcrumbs to a recipe like meatballs, almond flour is a good alternative.

 

Soy Sauce

soy-sauce

This is for all my sushi lovers and marinade fans out there. I LOVE the nutty flavor of a good soy sauce or Tamari, but neither are 100% gluten free. This is where coconut aminos comes in – I love this stuff, and it only has two ingredients. Soy sauce, while tasty, contains phytoestrogens – these are unfavorable because of their association with hormonal disruption and disease. A little bit here and there won’t cause you immediate harm, but coconut aminos are a safe alternative.

 

Rice

rice

Rice…. The unfortunately delicious part of sushi. While I have yet to make “sushi” with cauliflower rice, I do like throwing it in the food processor and then a frying pan with some lemon, garlic and parsley. It’s light, a good alternative to rice, and a perfect standalone side dish when you add some flavor. The good thing is you can make it into pretty much anything – Mexican, Asian, Indian… add the right spices and you’ve got yourself a good staple.

 

Noodles

zoodles

Ever heard of a “Vegetti”? Think it sounds dirty? Because it does. Once you stop giggling about its name, it’s a lifesaver of a spiralizer when you want some noodles. Throw a zucchini on this thing and you’ve got yourself some delicious pasta! Another alternative, which I’ve made before but doesn’t absorb flavor as much (but is still good!) are kelp noodles. Both of which have the same texture as cooked spaghetti, so load on the spices and you’ve got yourself a great Paleo alternative.

 

Chips

plantain chips

Potato Chips. I love them. Honestly, I can remember when I was younger and they came out with Ketchup flavored potato chips, and I toured the Herr’s factory when they were giving out samples to see if the public liked them. They were gross, as expected, but there are so many other good flavors…. I’m drooling. The good news is, if you go get yourself a mandolin, you can make a chip out of just about anything. I prefer sweet potatoes, kale, parsnips, and really any other root veggie. Salt em a little with some sea salt and olive oil, and put them in the oven at 250 degrees F until they start to brown just slightly.

And there you have it! Not so hard – and you’ll find you get creative to start prepping things the way you like them. If you’ve made a swap for something paleo, gluten free or vegan and want to share, post in the comments!

Don’t forget to head over to my Instagram (@thedivinekitchen) and Facebook (facebook.com/thedivinekitchenblog) and like both if you’re a fan 🙂

Enjoy!

-S

*Note – Products or foods recommended on this blog are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. I am not a medical doctor, licensed healthcare professional, or dietician, and should you have any concerns regarding your health, contact a healthcare practitioner.

Pumpkin Chai Spiced Cheesecake (Paleo, Vegan)

I’ve had some really great ideas lately for things I want to start doing with this blog. My ultimate goal is to have a cookbook (working on it!), but I want to add a few other cool things to my repertoire too. I have so many little recipes for natural household cleaners with essential oils, herb infused cooking ingredients, the whole nine. Once I get some more time, I will definitely be sharing!

On a side note, Thanksgiving is 2 weeks away, and I’m left wondering where 2017 went. I think I can speak for most when I say that 2016 was just a lengthy and traumatic, so we were all waiting for 2017 to be a nice transition to figure all of our shit out.

I don’t think that happened, because it’s November and I’m not sure what I’ve done for the last 10.5 months. And I only drank a *few* beers.

Regardless, I plan on spending the rest of this year making my time count – I have a lot I want to accomplish, and I’m tired of letting time pass me by. To start, I want 2018 to have newsletters, updates, and I want to share with you all whatever it is you’re looking for when you walk into your kitchen and want to be inspired.

This post is short and sweet, didn’t take a lot of time… much like this recipe J I have another variation of this that I’ll have to post, but I wanted you all to have a delicious, gluten free/vegan alternative to bring to the Thanksgiving table next week! For a person that doesn’t really eat desserts… this one takes the cake. Pun intended.

Pumpkin Spiced Cheesecake (Gluten Free, Vegan)

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prep time: 25 min

cook time: n/a

Serves 12

Ingredients:

Crust

  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1¼ cup Medjool dates, pits removed
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Filling

  • 1½ cup raw cashews, soaked and drained**
  • ½ cup coconut cream
  • ½ cup agave nectar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup liquid virgin coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3 tsp chai tea leaves (approx. 2-3 tea bags)

**soaking the cashews for 4-5 hours is best, but you can also soak for about 20-25 minutes in a bowl of boiling water)

 

INSTRUCTIONS

For the crust:

  1. Add dates, cinnamon and almonds to food processor and pulse on high for 1-2 minutes until finely chopped and mixture starts to become sticky when you pinch it together. If the mixture is too dry, add more dates. If it’s too sticky, add more almonds, a small handful at a time.
  2. Transfer your crust to an 8″ springform pan. Firmly press crust into the bottom of the baking dish, ensuring that it is packed evenly around the entire dish and no air bubbles remain. Set aside.

For the cheesecake:

  1. In a blender, add cashews, coconut cream, agave nectar, vanilla extract, pumpkin, coconut oil and pumpkin pie seasoning. Blend on high until filling is very smooth and appears creamy, about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Pour half of the batter over the crust, making sure to get rid of any bubbles and that it’s covered evenly. Place in the freezer while you work with the remaining batter.
  3. Add the chai tea leaves to the last half of the batter and blend for another minute or so, making sure the entire mix is evenly blended.
  4. Gently pour the chai batter over the first batter slowly, so as to not mix the two. Tap  the sides of the dish to ensure the layer is evenly covering the rest, and to get rid of any air bubbles.
  5. Place cake in freezer for at least 2 hours to set. Before serving, remove from freeze for about 15 minutes to allow to thaw.

Enjoy!

-S

Full Moons and Moussaka

Remember how I said the weather turned, and I dug out all my sweaters? It was a fluke. It was 60 degrees yesterday, maybe warmer in the sun. I still wore a sweater, and it was the complete opposite of fun. It was un-fun. My building at work had the heat on, too. Because it’s November, right? It should be cold, right? No, because it’s 2017 and we are very much into global warming right now. Yet — today, I walked out of my house in a light shirt, only to find I need the same warm type of sweater now that I thought I needed yesterday.

This weekend was also a full moon. Every time a full moon comes along, I have every intention of doing something special – doing yoga outside, doing some sort of special meditation, or cooking some earthy dish to complement a beautiful night with a bright, clear moon. I end up doing none of those things, but I do notice that without fail, stuff gets weird around a full moon.

The logic in me says, “This is just confirmation bias! Nothing weird happens on a night with a full moon.” The logic needs to be quiet, because that’s no fun, whatsoever. While crazy stuff can happen all the time, I have always found that people act particularly strange and noticeably different during this moon phase.
Since full and new moons happen when the sun, earth and moon are all in alignment, this impacts the tides more than normal, making them stronger and in turn, falling higher and lower. While we don’t notice it on land, don’t you think it’d be a little silly to not consider what impact it has on us if it can move trillions of gallons of water in a cyclical motion? We are more aware and in tune with the vibrations going on around us during a full moon, which, quite literally, is able to illuminate things more than usual.

November is already a powerful month with the vibration of the number 11, so it’s not surprising that people are getting quirky when the entire moon is exposed. As a double digit of the same number, 11 is thought of as a “master number” — so anything occurring during this time is magnified.. both good and bad, because with a double number like this, there’s also balance. This particular full moon could’ve potentially been very confusing — a full moon is the end of a revolving cycle — yet the number 1 has a common understanding of beginnings.  Truthfully, you can take from it what you want. Moon phases are consistent and cyclical, and people tend to see the moon as feminine because of this. At this point in time, the entire moon is exposed, bright and clear – which could be symbolic of moving energy, unearthing problems, concerns, chores or tasks, and approaching them with full clarity.

Whatever the case may be, it is truly beautiful. You can see the little craters, and just thinking how there are footsteps that remain untouched since the landing on the moon is really surreal. Something so still, quiet, and distant can have such an impact on the world around us, to the point where people’s moods change.. it is really cool, is it not? A little floating sky rock moves water next to us from hundreds of thousands of miles away.

We tried to  come up with something we’ve never made this weekend — we landed on Greek cuisine. Fitting for a full moon, as some of the greatest discoveries in astronomy and moon phases happened in ancient Greek culture… things like Ptolemy, Hipparchus, Aristarchus… all the things you learned about but forgot how brilliant these minds were. Greek culture is so rich, so our tribute to that for the full moon was the heartiest and most flavorful dish we could think of — Moussaka! While I know it’s not made by your family Yia Yia, I think Greek grandmas everywhere might say we did pretty well.

Make a note to keep an eye out for everything around you on the next full moon – you might be surprised with what you notice. In the meantime, as it gets colder (and hopefully stays colder), enjoy this delicious dinner 🙂

 

Moussaka

note: this picture was taken from healthyfood.co.uk, which reserves all rights to the photo. Unfortunately, the kitchen was dark and people ravaged the moussaka before I could get a good picture of it. Mine did resemble this image almost identically (in person), and I promise it looks this delicious when you make it.

Prep time: 40 min

Cook time: 30 min

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

Eggplant and Lamb

  • 8 garlic cloves, finely grated, divided
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp chopped mint
  • 3 tbsp chopped oregano
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 3 medium eggplants (about 3½ pounds total), sliced in half lengthwise and then cut into ½-inch-thick rounds
  • 2½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 2 lb ground lamb
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 large jalapeño, finely chopped (ribs and seeds removed)
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes

Béchamel

  • 3/4 stick of unsalted butter (if using salted butter, add a pinch less of salt once mixed)
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2½ cups whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 8 oz of farmer’s cheese, crumbled
  • 4 oz grated Pecorino, grated
  • 3 large egg yolks

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Whisk half of the garlic, ½ cup oil, 1 tbsp mint and 1 tbsp oregano in a small bowl.
  2. Thoroughly coat the eggplant rounds with the mixture and season with salt and pepper. Transfer eggplant to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and roast until tender and browned, about 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 400°.
  3. Meanwhile, add about 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Cook lamb and ground beef, breaking up with a spoon, until browned and liquid starts to evaporate, about 12–16 minutes. Drain fat from the meat and transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  4. In the same pan, add another tsp of oil and allow to heat. Add onion, garlic, ~2½ tsp. salt, and ½ tsp pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 8–10 minutes. Add jalapeño and cinnamon and continue to cook, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until onion has browned, about 3-4 minutes.
  5. Add paprika, cinnamon and tomato paste and allow to cook for about 1 minute.
  6. Add wine, stirring to mix thoroughly, until reduced and alcohol burns off — about 3 minutes.
  7. Add tomatoes and all of the juice. Carefully break up the tomatoes with a spoon or spatula into smaller pieces… as they heat, they will pop, so be aware.
  8. Add lamb and remainder of mint and oregano and stir to combine. Allow to cook until most of the liquid is evaporated, and remove from heat.

 

Béchamel

  1. Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium until completely melted and starting to froth. Add flour and cook, whisking quickly and constantly, until combined, about 1 minute.
  2. Whisk in milk, slowly and a little at a time, and continue to heat, allowing to bubble. Whisk often, until mixture becomes very thick (like pudding), about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Stir in salt. Remove from heat and whisk in farmer cheese and half of the Pecorino. Let sit 10 minutes for cheese to melt, then add egg yolks and vigorously whisk until combined and béchamel is golden yellow.
  4. Brush a 13×9″ baking pan with 1 tbsp olive oil. Layer half of eggplant pieces in the pan, covering the bottom entirely. Spread half of lamb/beef mixture over eggplant in an even layer. Repeat with remaining eggplant and lamb/beef to make another layer of each.
  5. Top with béchamel and smooth surface; sprinkle with remaining Pecorino cheese.
  6. Bake moussaka until bubbling and béchamel topping starts to brown, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

-S

Paleo Coconut Curry Chicken Meatballs

What weather!!!!

We went from having 80 degree days, to 40 degree nights. I can’t lie, this is my favorite part of the year. Sweaters, jackets, boots, scarves, AHH. And pumpkins! We are having a neighborhood potluck this Saturday, and I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with. I will definitely be enjoying some pumpkin beer.

I’ve been traveling a lot lately – far away cities for work, traveling back to my alma mater (WE ARE! #2 in the country, go PSU football!), and more or less, not getting enough sleep. Not getting any sleep, for that matter. It was fun putting on nice clothes, a ton of makeup, curling my hair and pretending I was in college again. It was not fun walking around in heels everywhere, though… I’d likely do it again. Kids these days don’t know what life was like before Uber when your campus was huge, your shoes were awfully uncomfortable, taxis were too expensive and subzero temperatures were just brutal.. but you didn’t care, because it was college, and you already had 14 shots so you were still warm.

The only bad thing about traveling is that, unless you’re doing an Airbnb and have full access to every amenity you have at home, you just can’t get a home cooked meal. Though I did get to eat some really delicious things, like shrimp and jalapeno cheddar grits, a real kobe beef burger, jicama fries, tostones, s’mores in a can, Better Cheddar dip, campfire ahi tuna…. among others, I really just wanted to cook myself a dinner and watch tv with my dog.

And that’s exactly what I did last night. I was inspired by hearing someone talk about meatballs on the radio, but… I just don’t like beef meatballs and red sauce. I don’t really like any standard pasta in red sauce, or any accessories that go with it. I wanted something light, but spicy, definitely flavorful, and not time consuming.

Chicken it was!

I thought about doing something like cauliflower rice to make the whole thing paleo, but a good basmati rice is just delicious…. You can definitely put this over something like veggies or cauliflower if you’re strict, though. These lil babes are delicious, full of protein and pretty filling, and they keep well for lunch the next day. And so, it is – Paleo Coconut Curry Chicken Meatballs for you.

 

Paleo Coconut Curry Chicken Meatballs

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Prep Time: 30 min

Cook Time: 20 min

Serves 2-3

 

Ingredients

For the meatballs:

  • 1 lb ground chicken breast
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 1 heaping tbsp red curry paste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp almond flour

For the sauce:

  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 tbsp red curry paste, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, ribs/seeds removed, minced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste

Optional: 1 cup of basmati rice, OR cauliflower rice, if strict paleo

 

Directions

  1. In a medium skillet, heat coconut oil over medium high heat. Add first half of onion, and sauté until browning, about 8-10 minutes. Stir to ensure they do not burn. Set aside and let cool a bit.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F as you prep the meatballs.
  3. In a large bowl, add chicken, almond flour, ginger, red curry paste, salt, cayenne, garlic powder, paprika, onion and cilantro and mix thoroughly. The mix should have a slightly red tint to it — if you’re brave and like spice, feel free to add another tsp of red curry paste.
  4. Roll into 1-1.5 inch balls and place on a greased/parchment-lined baking sheet. I covered my hands in a bit of coconut oil first, because chicken sticking to my fingers freaks me out a bit (oh, also.. it’s easier to roll them…)
  5. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until they start to brown.
  6. Meanwhile, add rest of onion and red pepper to pan with a splash of oil over medium high heat, stirring to coat. allow to brown, about 10-12 minutes. Once cooked, add tomato paste, red curry paste, garlic powder and salt – stir to mix thoroughly.
  7. Once the mixture is coated with the curry and tomato paste, add coconut milk. Stir thoroughly, allowing to bubble and simmer.
  8. Remove meatballs from oven, and add to the skillet with the sauce — let simmer while moving onto the next step.
  9. Lastly, for the rice – bring 1 1/2 cups of water, 1 tbsp oil and a pinch of salt to a boil. add rice, and turn down to a simmer, allowing to cook for 15-20 minutes, or until water dissipates. Fluff with a fork. If using cauliflower, cut core of cauliflower head out/most of the bulky stem, and pulse the remaining through a food processor until rice-like consistency – heat with 1 tbsp coconut oil over medium high heat until tender, about 4-6 minutes.
  10. Serve meatballs and sauce over the rice in a bowl.

Enjoy!

-S

 

Paleo Pumpkin Ginger Spiced Muffins

I am not a baker. While I feel as though many of my best recipes are desserts, I think it’s because they’re a version of something everyone already likes… with a healthy twist. It’s like getting the best of both worlds.

In my attempt to fill my life with as many seasonally appropriate things as possible, I’ve studied Pinterest religiously, and canvassed the house with mums and Indian corn. I bought all of my cans of organic pumpkin puree BEFORE the mad Fall rush, and I have even thought of my outfits ahead of time, according to what sweater I want to wear that day. This last one is a fail because the weather is unseasonably warm, but I am determined to fill the house with smells of fall recipes and pumpkins, and spice.

Once the weather cools down, I’ll tackle more fall soups, salads and main dishes, but for now — I will continue my hand in baking. I grew up on carrot cakes,  ginger snaps and potpourri, but I never really had a sweet tooth. I’m not sure what happened between then and now, but I really enjoy baking.

These ‘lil beauts happened after much trial and error, and after a few rounds of bland muffins, I decided to dump in  a bunch of my favorite spices, sub in some pumpkin for apple sauce, and lo and behold, the perfect little breakfast muffin was born. Though they don’t need to be limited to breakfast, I find it’s just enough sweetness with the spice to satisfy. I use unsulphured/unsweetened molasses, which gives them a really nice earthy flavor.

I guess, the moral of the story here is that there are things in life that we don’t think we’re good at, but really, it’s just that we don’t give ourselves the opportunity to succeed. If you were to ask me if I’m a great baker, I’d probably say that I’m terrible… a “baking dunce”, if you will. When I think about it though, I should give myself at least a little credit for the things that ended up being pretty good.

This can really go for anything. A sport, playing an instrument, singing, etc. A few weeks ago, I decided I wanted to drive a manual transmission. I thought I was always terrible at it — I couldn’t remember the last time I drove one. I got in, drove away, completely forgetting why I thought I couldn’t do it. Sometimes, you just need to remind yourself that you’re capable of whatever you want to do — sometimes you just need to try it.

Go make these muffins — they’re a delicious and healthy alternative to normal fall cakes and cookies. Yum!

Paleo Pumpkin Ginger Spiced Muffins

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Prep Time 15 minutes

Cook Time 20 minutes

Makes 12 muffins

 

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup of canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup of full fat canned coconut milk, mixed/shaken thoroughly
  • 1/4 cup organic coconut sugar
  • 3 Tbsp organic molasses
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot powder
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp allspice
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of fine ground Himalayan sea salt

 

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F. Grease a non-stick 12 cup muffin pan. You can use liners, but I find they get a nice shape when directly in the pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin puree, coconut milk, coconut sugar, maple syrup, molasses and vanilla until blended.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients – almond flour, coconut flour, arrowroot starch, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, baking soda and salt. Mix thoroughly.
  4. Slowly add the dry mixture into the wet mixture until just combined – since the flours aren’t wheat based, allow to set for about 5 minutes so everything  can absorb.
  5. Spoon the batter evenly into the muffin cups, about 1/2 to 2/3 full. The batter will rise at it cooks.
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until starting to brown. You can test the doneness by sticking a toothpick in a few of the center muffins — nothing should stick to the toothpick.
  7. Remove from oven, allow the muffins to cool in the pan for 2 minutes or so before carefully removing them to cool.

 

Optional – if you prefer a more decadent muffin, feel free to mix some leftover coconut milk, maple syrup, pinch of cinnamon, ginger and allspice and drizzle over the top.

 

Enjoy!