Pizza Fries (Paleo, and sometimes vegan!)

Greetings, y’all. It’s a windy, breezy day here and it’s only a crisp 79 degrees.. much more enjoyable than a belligerent heat wave.

I enjoyed a busy weekend filled with wedding activities, horses, sushi and cooking.  The wedding on Friday was absolutely beautiful – a hike up to Folino Estates Winery just outside of Allentown. I’d never been before, but I’d go again. I’ll go to great lengths to get some good wine…. Yes, I will.

Having said that, I’ll also go to great lengths to get some good pizza. The problem with pizza isn’t so much the dairy, or the acidity of the sauce, or possibly not even the gluten. That combo… gosh, it hurts me so. I just cannot live without it.

So…. I get a little creative. I had some sweet potatoes waiting to be eaten, and since I don’t often eat a carb-filled meal, they were sort of just sitting there, looking lonely. I cut them up into fries, marinated them in some Italian spices, and the rest is history.

Note! If you are not strict paleo, you can use real cheese. In fact, I encourage it! And for all my lactose-intolerant friends… I got you. Don’t worry.

Pizza Fries (Paleo, and sometimes vegan!)

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Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 50 min

Ingredients

For the fries

  • 3 large/long sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into preferred French fry size; the thinner the better (no big ass wedges!)
  • 1-2 tbsp preferred cooking oil – I like avocado
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • black pepper, to taste

For the toppings

  • ½ cup vegan/paleo cheese sauce, heated for easier drizzling; I used Siete Foods Spicy Queso Blanco
  • ½ cup marinara sauce
  • 10-12 pepperoni slices, quartered (omit if vegan!)
  • chopped basil for garnish, if desired

*note – hand-shredded mozzarella can be used if not strict paleo

Directions

  1. Optional to make ahead – add your oil, fry spices and sweet potatoes in a bag or bowl and toss to coat.. this is not necessary, I just imagine it makes it taste better.
  2. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.
  3. On a parchment lined or greased/foil-lined baking sheet, place your fries, evenly spaced (not too close so they can crisp!). Bake for 20 minutes – then flip them and continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes. If any are starting to brown too quickly – move them to the center of the pan so they don’t continue to burn.
  4. Once thoroughly cooked/crisped to your liking, remove from heat. Turn your oven to broil.
  5. On your same baking sheet, carefully arrange the fries into a pile, while still spread for maximum topping coverage. I do not recommend using your hands… just in case anyone needs to be told that.
  6. Next, drizzle your marinara sauce, followed by your heated cheese sauce over top. You can go as light or heavy as you want – but with any good pile of crunchy anything, more sauce = less crispy. If using real cheese instead, sprinkle with cheese.
  7. Lastly, sprinkle your chopped pepperoni across the fries, if using.
  8. Broil 3-5 minutes, until sauces are thoroughly melted and pepperoni is crisp. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Optional: garnish with basil if you feel fancy.

Enjoy!

-S

Seared Scallops with Bacon, Pepper and Chimichurri Relish (Paleo!)

It is hot, hot… HOT these days. Thank goodness for a grill, because I will NOT be turning on my oven these days.

I had off all last week! It started out as a 4th of July beach vacay with some fam/friends, and then ended as a staycation where I planned to clean, get up to speed on laundry, clean my daily diet back up and drink more water.

I did none of those things.

But I’m fine with that…. Trying to be nicer to myself for just living life. Especially since the latest new moon in Cancer has rolled around. This one is all about relationships – relationships with yourself, with others – significant others, close friends. This past Friday was a great opportunity to “press the restart button” – to really just start back to the good energy that healthy relationships start with. Since Cancer, being a water sign (a crab!), is associated with fluidity, emotions, intuition – all things that are dynamic and often change. Taking this time to be more gentle with yourself and with your relationships, allowing things to move slow and at whatever pace they need to.

Speaking of patience, remember how I said I have been cooking on the grill? Yeah. I hate that you can’t see what’s inside the grill. Plus, I used a Himalayan salt block to grill my scallops, preheating it to about 600 degrees before grilling the scallops… it takes a good 20-30 minutes to slow-heat the salt block to just the right temperature. Having said that, the scallops ended up lightly seared, and over a bed of delicious peppers, onions, bacon and chimichurri sauce.

No need for a fancy salt block though – pan searing in a butter/olive oil mixture will do just fine! This is a multi-step dinner, so definitely not ideal for a weeknight… but I promise it’s worth it.

Seared Scallops with Bacon, Pepper and Chimichurri Relish (Paleo!)

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Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 15 min

Ingredients

  • 1 lb U12 (big) sea scallops, dry and trimmed
  • 2 cups (2-3 ears) cooked fresh sweet corn; canned will work if fresh isn’t available
  • 1/2 lb bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 of a large yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup chimichurri sauce
  • 2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 large tbsp block of butter (a little thicker… like 1.5 tbsp)
  • 1 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Some prep-work first… if you do not have it already prepared, put together your chimichurri sauce.
  2. Next, if not starting with bacon that you’ve already cooked – cook in oven or pan until well done and quite crisp.. it should be easily crumbled. Set aside to cool if not already cooked so that you can crumble or chop it finely.
  3. Now, in a large skillet, add your onion and preferred cooking oil over medium heat. Sauté until starting to become translucent – about 4-5 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper, and add your bell pepper and garlic, lightly seasoning again with a pinch of salt and pepper. Sauté another 3-4 minutes.
  4. Next, add your corn. Continue sautéing, turning the heat lower if onion cooks too quickly, until corn starts to brown. Check for seasoning, and add more salt and pepper if desired.
  5. Add your bacon crumbles in, occasionally stirring, allowing the flavors to meld. Once everything is browned, after another 2-3 minutes, turn to low and move to back burner to keep warm.
  6. In a separate, heavy bottomed skillet (preferably cast iron), heat your pan over medium high to high heat. Add your butter and grapeseed oil, and heat until shimmering. (a note – this will produce SOME smoke, as grapeseed oil has a much higher burn temp than others but the butter is included for some flavor – either open your windows or turn your range vent on!)
  7. Once at temperature, add your scallops. Season with salt and pepper. Let them sit, and do not touch them as they cook – I don’t actually know why, but I’ve been told this is the only way. Sear for 2 ish minutes, and turn once they are golden brown. Dash them again with a pinch of salt and pepper, and allow them to brown for another minute on the other side. Less time is needed, as the internal temp is already warmed and the surface will crisp more quickly than the prior side. Remove from heat and serve immediately.
  8. Plate your pepper corn bacon relish, placing your scallops overtop. Drizzle with chimichurri sauce, and enjoy!

-S

I have nothing else really to cover here, outside of the fact that I have cared for my bird problem. A friend advised that a rubber snake behind my car would deter the bird. 12 hours later, and my freshly washed car is still clean. Sarah: 1 – Bird: 0.

What else is there to do in this oppressive heat but sit in the air conditioning and eat? Lets cut right to the chase and talk about the food everyone loves: pizza. Minus the part that upsets my stomach – the crust. Though I do love me some bread, bread does not love me.

Cue… pizza… MUSHROOMS.

Stay with me. Mushrooms take on whatever flavor they’re near…. And with a little flake salt, they make a great base to smother some sauce and cheese on. It’s easy, quick, and delicious, with minimal prep time. Check it out!

Pizza-stuffed Baby Bella Mushrooms! (Gluten-Free!)

Pizza-stuffed Baby Bella Mushrooms! (Gluten-Free!)

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 25 min

Ingredients

  • 10-12 baby bella mushrooms, stems removed, washed and patted dry
  • 2/3 cup pizza sauce (I like to take canned tomato sauce and dress it up with minced garlic, salt pepper, oregano, basil and thyme!)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 8-10 slices of pepperoni, chopped
  • chopped basil, for garnish (optional)

Directions

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

  1. On a parchment lined or greased/foil-lined baking sheet, place your mushrooms face up, evenly spaced. Bake for ~10 minutes – this is to get the water out of them initially, so they aren’t soggy.
  2. Once partially cooked, remove from heat. They will likely have some water pooled in the center – take a paper towel and blot any excess water out. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Next, spoon tomato sauce, between 1 tsp and 1 tbsp, into the mushrooms. It will vary depending on size – but be generous, so there’s flavor.
  4. Next, add a generous amount of mozzarella cheese, packing into the mushroom if needed. It’s alright if some spills over, as it will melt over the side.
  5. Lastly, sprinkle your chopped pepperoni across the mushrooms, ensuring they’re placed so they won’t slide off as the cheese melts.
  6. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until cheese is thoroughly melted and pepperoni is crisp.

Garnish with basil, if desired.

Enjoy!

-S

I woke up and thought to myself yesterday… is there a full moon soon? I’ve had the weirdest thing happen. Not weird, actually… just inconvenient.

Some back-story that no one asked for… I really, really enjoy keeping my car clean. Well, the outside, anyway. My dad was meticulous about washing and keeping cars clean, as is my stepdad, so it just kind of took when I got my first nicer car. It’s never really been a problem, except when I’d go to the beach and the birds by the brush/woods would target the chrome accents on my Jeep like a B29 Superfortress, canvassing it in bird waste, and then smearing it everywhere as they tried to fight their own reflection like a total weirdo. I was excited that my newest car is blacked out and without any chrome…. a first-world problem now eliminated, right?

WRONG.

I back my car into the same spot every day, and behind it is this little wood-post fence, and some bucolic tall grass and wildflowers that sway in the breeze. I hear the birds chirping, and smile – how lovely!

I return from the car wash, having mooched the codes my stepdad gets every week from his own washes. All is right in the world, my car is mirror-shiny and sexy. Until I hear a chaotic tapping the moment I shut my car off. What’s in my trunk? Did I leave an animal back there? Surely Sydney’d make a bigger sound if that was a thing? Did I inherit a rodent from someone and forget?

WRONG, AGAIN!

Some weird bird has taken a liking to throwing himself into my trunk, pooping himself in his state of fury. This bird is really trying to do something too, because he’s used his beak to help smear bird poo into my car. Why? Why do you want that, bird? Am I being punished by nature for wasting precious water keeping this car too clean? Am I being punished for being a stickler about this particular parking spot, so now nature wants to rebel against me? Probably. I have no idea.

I did buy a plastic horned owl, hoping to deter these pesky flying potatoes from wanting to get near my car. So far it hasn’t stopped them. Could I move? Sure. I will not be bullied by a half-ounce song sparrow, though. I’ve tried to smack him away, but he’s too fast. I’ve considered other methods of elimination, but everything I think of is either frowned upon, or not nice…. so I can’t do them. It wouldn’t be very Snow-White of me. Not very yoga of me to disrupt nature, either.

I was trying to remember the point of this story… but I think this may be beyond what the full moon can be responsible for. This is the last super moon of 2021, and it’s in Capricorn – so emotions are heightened and confidence is at an all time high. Actually, this explains this bird’s beef with a 2-ton vehicle… very ballsy. This bird’s about to @#%& around and find out.

Carrying on the carrot theme here with a delicious take on a local restaurant’s soup I enjoyed last Friday! I was hoping to not tag Sovana Bistro in a post alongside my vendetta with a bird, but I guess that’s life… highs and lows, right? Anyway, this soup is delicious – theirs was flavorful, refreshing, and… VEGAN! Had a punch to it with some kimchi. I got so much of it, I had to take it home. Then, I left it out all night and had to pitch it 😦

From that, I decided to recreate my own version to pay homage to one of my favorite restaurants that’s now open again. This version may have a bit of creative license used, but I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! Cheers to a more peaceful Full Moon evening.

Coconut Carrot Soup with Kimchi, Lime and Chili Oil (Paleo, Vegan!)

Coconut Carrot Soup with Kimchi, Lime and Chili Oil (Paleo, Vegan!)

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 30 min

Ingredients

  • 8-10 large carrots, rinsed, stems removed (peeled if the skin has blemishes), and cut into ~2 inch pieces
  • 1 small onion, cut into 1-2 inch pieces (no need to dice!)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, peeled, chopped
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tsp red curry powder
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt, to taste (I likely used ~1 tsp in total)
  • ~1 cup kimchi, finely chopped (can vary depending how much garnish you’re serving with each helping)
  • chopped cilantro, for garnish
  • optional: chili oil, for garnish

Directions

  1. Add your carrots, onion, ginger,  1/2 tsp curry powder and garlic to a stockpot, covering with your vegetable broth, over medium high heat. Sprinkle with salt to impart some flavor into the vegetables. Add more broth, if necessary to cover. Bring to a low boil, and cover.
  2. Simmer your carrots until tender, approximately 15-20 minutes. They should be somewhat fork-tender. Remove from heat and drain, reserving your vegetable broth to the side.
  3. In a blender, add your vegetables, your remaining 1/2 tsp of curry powder and your coconut milk. Blend until smooth (remember to be careful – hot stuff expands in a contained blender!)
  4. Once pureed, return to your mix to your pot, allowing the flavors to meld.
  5. If the soup is too thick, use your leftover vegetable broth, adding 1/4 cup at a time to achieve desired thickness. Since it’s summer, I don’t like this as thick as, say, a pumpkin bisque, so I like to thin it out just a bit. Once you achieve your desired thickness, check for salt needed. I don’t do this until after, because adding the vegetable broth adds hidden sodium flavor.
  6. Allow to simmer for another 4-5 minutes. Once finished, add your lime juice, stirring together.
  7. Serve topped with a tbsp or two of kimchi, cilantro, and a drizzle of chili oil.

Enjoy!

-S

I spent a lot of time thinking today about, now that things are opening up, how quickly summer has been going by. I remember this time last year – I was admittedly too much of a scaredy-cat to *go* places that weren’t outside, and it just feels so good to have some normalcy again. I’ve been spending most of my weekends poolside, or grilling, or grilling poolside. I used to get really anxious when I’d think about how much time is passing, as its passing. Almost as if I was experiencing a real-time FOMO, but I wasn’t aware of what it was that I was missing. No matter how much “work” I do on myself, it’s always really eye opening to learn of something new I need to work on. It was then that I realized I needed to figure out what it meant to live in the present, and to actually do it. That sounds so lofty, doesn’t it? “bE pReSEnT!!!” One of those silly “Live, Laugh, Love” type of mantras you’d find on a Starbucks cup. However, when I really think about it, being present just means to let the world happen, and to receive what happens without attachment. I don’t think that means “be a dead fish with no emotions” – here are some examples. Something amazing and life changing, like getting married, buying a house, getting a new job? Celebrate, but don’t idealize what “could be”, years from now. Enjoy it as it comes. Something tragic, such a loss or setback? Don’t catastrophize, and remember that everything changes and is only temporary. Plan where needed, but accept changes with dignity and patience. This is what I envision when I tell myself to be present. In this moment, I am VERY much enjoying carrots. Sydney eats the raw ones (she’s on a little bit of a diet, has had too many dog cookies….. oops), I prefer cooked. These have a delicious spicy twist on them, with a rich umami flavor, perfect to complement some grilled snacks.

Miso Sesame Glazed Carrots (Paleo, Vegan!)

img_1161-2Prep time: 10 min Cook time: 40 min

Ingredients

  • 7-8 large carrots, rinsed, stems removed (peeled if the skin has blemishes)
  • 1 heaping tbsp miso (red or yellow is fine)
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together your remaining ingredients (miso, sesame oil, chili powder, garlic powder, and salt/pepper) until smooth. It should be thin enough to brush on the carrots, but not enough to cake onto the carrots.
  3. On a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, lay your carrots out evenly. Brush with your miso glaze, reserving a third of it for once they’re finished.
  4. Roast until starting to brown – about 35-40 min. Remove from heat, and brush with remaining glaze. Serve immediately.
Enjoy! -S