Lemon Dill Salmon Cakes with Cucumber Tzatziki Sauce (Gluten-Free with Paleo Option!)

Wowzer!

I sure do go missing a lot. I have spurts of motivation, then I start working on something else, then I ……get sidetracked altogether, and here we are.

One thing I’d like to update you all on – if you didn’t know before, now ya do – I do Reiki sessions, and other energetic healing! If it’s not your cup of tea, I get it, but for those of you fabulous people that do, you can head on over to thedivine-house.com to check out what I do. I am working on the website, and what is more exciting, is that after getting my master certification in Herbalism earlier this year, I have been concocting cool stuff that I want to share with you too. Things like essential oil sprays, anointing oils, palo santo cleansing sprays… just to start.

Which leads me to my next point. This Saturday is a full moon, a blue moon (aka the second within a calendar month’s time), on Halloween. Days before Election Day, and the end of the current mercury retrograde. Is that not just the witchiest shit you’ve ever heard? Seriously. I’m so excited. Though a few of us are getting together to hide candy in random places in the little area next to the neighborhood for the kids, my real excitement will be bringing a blanket outside in the full moon, with all my crystals in tow, and a candle, to meditate in all my crunchy, spiritual, witchy, woo woo glory. At this point, (A friendly PSA: if you haven’t been vibing with this weirdness, you’ve either been missing out or you’re reading the wrong blog. Stay a while!)

So this full moon, and this astrological mind-warp black hole we’re in. I know you’ve been feeling it. We’ve entered Scorpio, which is very much an inner-angst, touchy-feely time. But! This full moon is one to bring about prosperity, albeit some intensity. It’s also a full moon situated in Taurus, which is super active and bright – totally opposite of the Scorpio times we’re in now. Though there’s a lot of opposition going on right now (lol), any full moon is a chance to cleanse and renew, releasing energy that is counterproductive to you. It may seem that we haven’t been making a lot of progress, seemingly even moving backwards (lol again), but this is just the pressure from both Mercury and Mars both being in retrograde – where those energies remain slow and stagnant. Interestingly enough, Mars returns correct on 11/3, which will calm a lot of unruly energy (last lol, promise. More of an eyeroll, if anything). The astrology for this time is absolutely nuts – while I don’t have the level of expertise that several do (studying it is just a hobby of mine), if you’re interested – please check out Elizabeth Frediani – an astrologer that a friend referred me to.

So what do we do in a time like this? I feel like everyone is fatigued – COVID fear, the holidays coming up, the election, general unrest…. How do we catch a break?

We take one. We deliberately choose to do so.

Whether it be getting your hair done, booking a massage, enjoying a day off, drinking your favorite wine (in moderation!), Zooming with family, or just getting outside and putting your bare feet in the grass while the weather still permits…. Now is a time where we have to be deliberate in taking time for ourselves. We have to be extra clear in our boundaries, extra clear in our beliefs, but also extra compassionate with those around us – but especially ourselves.

I think what was most refreshing about looking at astrology charts is that 2021 is expected to be largely positive, for pretty much everyone. Having that hope, whether it’s anecdotal or not, just makes me feel a bit more excited to move through the literal dumpster fire that is/was 2020.

So let’s eat. I have a few recipes that I’ll share this week, but this one is one of my favorites. I try to make as much food from other types of culture and cuisine as much as possible – I find it’s really helpful to understand flavor profiles of different spices. Also, while continuing to eat in a ketogenic, low/no carb fashion, I have to get pretty creative. This particular dinner was inspired by some of my absolute favorite food – GREEK FOOD, ugh. Love it.

These are super easy to pull off last minute, or to plan ahead for. I use boneless, skinless canned salmon, which you can keep in your cabinet for a long time. Mixing some fresh herbs into everything just makes it all so delicious.

Lemon Dill Salmon Cakes with Cucumber Tzatziki Sauce (Gluten-Free with Paleo Option!)

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 15 min

Ingredients

  • 2 cans of boneless, skinless salmon, drained
  • 1 egg
  • 1 heaping tbsp of flax meal
  • 1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • sprinkle of dried oregano
  • ½ tsp salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 tsp lemon zest

For the sauce

  • 1 cup of greek yoghurt, or sour cream (almond milk greek style yoghurt or sour cream is a good substitute for paleo!)
  • 1 heaping tsp of dried dill
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced or pressed
  • juice from one lemon
  • ½ cup of finely chopped cucumber (about half of a large cucumber)
  • salt, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or greased foil.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add your salmon, breaking apart with a fork. Add all of your salmon cake ingredients to the bowl, mixing thoroughly – EXCEPT your egg. Since canned salmon is already cooked, I do a quick taste test to see if it needs anything.
  3. Once I’ve added anything (salt, more dill, garlic, etc), then I whisk my egg into the mix, continuing to gently fold everything together.
  4. Shape into patties – you should be able to get about 6-8 patties, similar to crab cake sizes. If your mix is too sticky, feel free to add more flax seed, a tsp at a time. If your mix is too thick, a tsp of olive oil should loosen everything up. Space your patties 2-4 inches apart, depending on the size of your baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 12-15 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, in a smaller mixing bowl, whisk your yoghurt ingredients together – yoghurt, dill, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, and cucumber. Add preferred amount of salt. If you aren’t familiar with this type of flavor, I like to make sure mine is tangy from the lemon, zesty from the garlic, fresh tasting from the herbs, but cooling – I find that adding the salt last lets you control how bold of an overall flavor you get. I should note – additional zest from that lemon can always be used to add more flavor, if needed. Set aside in the fridge while the salmon patties continue to cook.
  6. Once the salmon patties are done, serve with a dollop of your tzatziki sauce. If you’re a sauce-heathen like me, just straight up drench them. Please know that I smothered mine, these photos don’t capture the accurate sauce to patty ratio. You can always pair them with a few nice salads, too…

Enjoy!

-S

The BEST Broccoli Salad (Vegan, with options!)

Hello my friends.

It’s Thursday, which means it’s almost Friday, which means it’s time to party! By myself.

Mars retrograde began yesterday – just another exciting moment for 2020. We all know that when Mercury is in retrograde, things go haywire, people act weird…. But Mars is a different breed, only going retrograde about every two years. Mars is masculine energy – moving, aggressive, and intense. However, in retrograde, things just move and happen slower… and these next two months will prove to be frustrating in needing to have a lot of patience.

Speaking of moving backward, since today is Thursday – it’s a throwback Thursday! Taking this recipe back from the past. I used to work as a sub shop as a teenager, down in the boonies of Landenberg. I made homemade chicken salad, deviled eggs, sandwiches.. and broccoli salad! I loved making this, but I haven’t had it in years. I made a few minor tweaks to keep it current, and above all else… vegan! Enjoy the last bits of warm weather with this side salad for your social-distancing BBQ.

The BEST Broccoli Salad (Vegan, with options!)

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: n/a

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 2 heads of broccoli, cut into small, bite size florets
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ of one small red onion, minced
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup of walnut pieces
  • 1 cup carrots, julienned
  • 1 cup vegan mayo, such as Vegenaise
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 heaping tbsp of coconut sugar, or 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp celery seed

Directions

  1. Whisk together mayo, sugar or maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, and celery seed in a small bowl. Place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, combine broccoli, walnuts, green onions, cranberries, carrots and red onion in a large serving dish.
  3. Toss the dressing with the rest of the salad ingredients and stir. Allow to sit for at least 30 min to an hour prior to serving to allow the dressing to absorb.

Enjoy!

-S

Bacon Wrapped Sweet Potato Wedges with Avocado Crema (PALEO!)

Sunday Funday! Except not, because we can’t really do anything.

Guys, I still have yams that I can’t seem to get rid of. When I bought so many, I really didn’t think about how creative I’d have to be to find ways to eat them… that weren’t super boring. Cue the bacon…

Though this year has been a lot different, I love going to the Kennett Square Farmers Market to get stuff like local produce, meats, etc. Though I don’t try to eat a lot of meat, I do prefer to know that it was responsibly farmed and that the animal lived as best a life as it could have. I like buying from Canter Hill Farm out of Malvern, PA – they take organic and animal welfare to the next level. I had some bacon in my freezer, and hot damn, it was the perfect thing to use with sweet potatoes. I’ve done a vegetable hash before, but I wanted to be ready with a great snack idea, once we’re all allowed to party again. Without further delay….

 

Bacon Wrapped Sweet Potato Wedges with Avocado Crema (PALEO!)

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 30-40 min

 

Ingredients

  • 2-3 large sweet potatoes, cut into about 8 wedges each
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 lb thick cut (preferably local!) bacon

for the crema:

  • 1 small container of Greek-style dairy free yogurt, or regular Greek yogurt if not strict paleo
  • 1 avocado, ripe/bright green
  • Juice from 1 lime, or 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • salt, to taste

Important supplies – a wire baking rack for your sheet (so the bacon doesn’t get soggy)

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease/spray your wire backing rack, and place on a foil-lined baking sheet (foil for easy clean up!).
  2. In a small mixing bowl, mix together your paprika, garlic and chili powder, with just a pinch of salt. On each wedge, sprinkle the seasoning on both sides of the wedge, and wrap the bacon around the wedge like a spiral, starting at one end and working your way to the other end.
  3. Repeat this for each of the wedges, placing them evenly spaced on the wire rack/baking sheet.
  4. If you have any leftover seasoning mix, sprinkle over the wedges.
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until bacon starts to brown. It’s best to flip them halfway through, so that the bottom side is able to brown just as the top does.
  6. Meanwhile, while they’re baking, mash your avocado in a mixing bowl, so that no chunks remain. If you like particularly smooth avocado puree, you can do this step in a food processor. Quite frankly, I did mine by hand because it was 8:30pm and I didn’t want to dirty another dish, so it worked just fine.
  7. Once the avocado is mashed or pureed, mix in your Greek yogurt, lime juice and pinch of salt. Continue to mix until smooth. Place in refrigerator until use.
  8. Once your sweet potato wedges are cooked, serve immediately while hot, with your crema on the side.

 

Enjoy!

-S

Sweet Potato Medallions topped with Pesto Chicken (PALEO!)

Holy moly! This weather. Maybe it’s because my “desk” at home looks right out the window, so I’m super aware of every rain drop that falls outside. The most excitement I’m having these days.

Question for you all – how adventurous are you with ingredients? Will you make a substitution for something you really wanted to make, but don’t have all the ingredients? I wanted to make pesto, but didn’t have everything I needed…. I made some substitutes, and it turned out GREAT. Swapped out pine nuts because I didn’t have them, used walnuts. Wanted parmesan, didn’t have it, used nutritional yeast. Like, I may have eaten a spoonful of it by itself because it was so good, and because I am disgusting. Between that, and the sweet potatoes on my counter that were about to turn, everything was about to be disgusting. Until I had an idea.

I got out my Instant Pot, made some chicken, shredded it, and threw it together on some sweet potatoes. I couldn’t finish them all, so I threw the plate in the fridge with some foil and ate them for breakfast at 645am. Keeping the disgust going, that’s right.

Though the way I made them is more appetizer-style, these are just tasty when made as a regular baked sweet potato stuffed with this mixture. Highly recommend.

 

Sweet Potato Medallions topped with Pesto Chicken (PALEO!)

 

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 40 min (total)

 

Ingredients

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, skin on, sliced into rounds
  • 2 large chicken breasts

 

For the pesto:

  • 1 large bunch of basil, stems removed (approx. 2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes (if not strict paleo, you can sub for two heaping tbsp of shredded parmesan or pecorino cheese)
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup walnuts (or pine nuts)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • sea salt, to taste

 

Directions

  1. Cook chicken breast by preferred method – I used my Instant Pot on the “Meat” setting for 14 minutes, but you can also bake in a pyrex dish at 375 degrees F for 30-35 min with a cup of water, salt and pepper. Once cooked, place in a bowl and shred with forks until no large chunks remain.
  2. In the meantime while the chicken is cooking, prepare the pesto. In a food processor, add your basil, garlic, walnuts, lemon zest/juice, salt, and red pepper flakes. Pulse until no large chunks remain, about 30-40 seconds total. Once emulsified, while the food processor is running, drizzle your olive oil in until fully mixed. Do a quick taste test, add more salt if needed.
  3. If you didn’t use it already to cook the chicken, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. On a greased or parchment lined baking sheet, brush your sweet potato medallions with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until golden, about 15-20 minutes, flipping halfway through. Remove from heat once finished, leaving oven on.
  4. Once the pesto is finished, mix 1/3 to 1/2 cup of pesto into your cooked/shredded chicken and mix thoroughly. Chicken should be thoroughly coated – add a teaspoon at a time if it appears dry. Spoon the chicken mixture neatly onto your sweet potato medallions, and place back into the oven for another 5-7 minutes, reheating thoroughly.
  5. Optional: garnish with a small dollop of pesto. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

-S

Crab Flatbread with Honey, Balsamic and Fresh Basil

After a quick little stint at the beach, I am back, working, and already primed and ready for a weekend.

I think what I miss the most about this whole “don’t hang out with anybody” era is being able to laugh over drinks and enjoying new restaurants… as a group activity. I really considered myself an introvert (a loud one, but still). Now that I CAN’T actually be with people, it’s like a tired child that needs to go to bed but doesn’t want to. I don’t want to stay home, because now I’m being forced to. But…. It’s the right thing to do to slow this whole thing down until we have more information and more options, so this is what I’ll do.

I have more time than ever to make recipes, but I am feeling so UNMOTIVATED, it’s painful. My focus has been trying to eat less, workout more (not going into a gym for months really did a number on my body composition), and generally be kinder to myself. I normally am totally fine with working until the point of burnout and exhaustion, but now there is a visceral reaction to doing so – almost as if my mind and body are conspiring with the universe to force me to slow down, in every sense of the term. So, for now – I am trying to work with when I get little bursts of motivation. If I eat my recipe before I take a nice picture of it? Whatever, I’ll make it again. I’m going to devote more mindspace and time to ensuring I’m keeping myself up and motivated, but being patient when I’m not.

I’ve been doing a lot of work, a lot of thinking on what I want the next few years of my life to look like… I’ve recently taken this back seat to my own life and moving forward, and I realized that living passively is no way to live – we shouldn’t do stuff just to “get by”, unless survival depends on it. This recipe had me thinking as I was buying the ingredients. I was really into seafood, and wanted to make something a little indulgent – I immediately thought of crab. I was digging my heels in at spending money on a can of jumbo lump crab meat, but I figured I’d splurge. It’s worth it after all, right? Have you ever sat down and picked crab meat? That shit is HARD. You get your fingers all torn up, sometimes you can’t get it all out in a clean piece, it takes a long time, and it’s really not a lot of meat for the effort. But man, when you keep digging and pull out a huge chunk of backfin meat, it’s all worth it.

That had me thinking about working towards what I want whatever my next step in life looks like. Taking one step isn’t going to move me a whole lot, but each tiny step, though small, is a necessary. It sounds so cliché, really, but sometimes all you need to do is make a little jump on a new idea and stuff just starts to snowball. I think that’s what I’m going to do. Of course, you guys won’t see a finished product for a while, but…. Just know I’m trying to make something cool out of my passion project.

Ok, so RECIPE. This is indulgent, definitely party food, it could be subbed with gluten-free flatbread, but this was just an easy store-bought flatbread. Literally, one of the easiest things I’ve ever made. Perhaps if I remake it and experiment with a paleo or gluten free flatbread, I’ll share!

 

Crab Flatbread with Honey, Balsamic and Fresh Basil

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 20 min

Serves 2

 

Ingredients

  • 1 large flatbread (the one I used was approx.. 12 in by 8 in, about the size of a piece of paper)
  • ½ cup of jumbo lump crab meat
  • 1 tbsp balsamic glaze (I like Whole Foods’ organic store brand!)
  • 1 tsp honey (local, if you can find it)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or melted ghee
  • 1 tbsp finely minced shallot or yellow onion
  • 1 heaping tbsp of fresh chopped basil
  • pinch of ground himilayan or sea salt

 

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. On a greased, foil lined baking sheet or pizza stone, place your flatbread. Drizzle olive oil over the flatbread, and add a pinch of salt. Sprinkle your onion, ensuring the flatbread is evenly covered. Next, carefully sprinkle your crab, ensuring any clumps (NOT the lumps!) stuck together are separated so the crab is evenly distributed.
  3. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until thoroughly heated and slightly crisped – you don’t want your flatbread to brown or get too crispy and turn into a rock.
  4. Once removed, Immediately drizzle with your honey. Let cool for a few minutes, then drizzle with your balsamic glaze.
  5. Lastly, garnish with your basil. Slice into even pieces, serve, and enjoy!

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-S

 

 

Best Ever Simple Margaritas (Not Paleo, but vegan and gluten free!)

Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

Apparently only people outside of Mexico celebrate Cinco de Mayo… pero cuando estamos en cuarentena, bebemos.

Hello, yes. It’s me. Sad to say I haven’t been cooking as much because I’ve been limiting my trips to the grocery store to as few as possible (and only the one closest store). I’m back, right in time for a festive reason to beber (drink)!

I hope everyone has been quarantining responsibly. I take a few days off every now and then just so I don’t turn into a bottle of wine, myself. Alcohol is not paleo…. but then again, COVID-19 doesn’t care about paleo. Stay safe.

This is a refreshing and light way to make a Margarita on the rocks, and as healthy as possible. I don’t like them too sweet, so I love that you can add as much or as little simple syrup when they’re made at home.

Let’s cut to the chase – here’s the recipe. The easiest way to remember… the 3-2-1-1 ratio.

 

Best Ever Simple Margaritas (Not Paleo, but vegan and gluten free!)

 

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: none! It’s a drink

Makes 1 drink

 

Ingredients

  • 3 oz silver tequila
  • 2 oz fresh squeezed lime juice (about 3 limes)
  • 1 oz orange liqueur
  • 1 oz simple syrup (directions below if you don’t have any on hand)
  • salt or sugar, for the rim (optional)

For the Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1 cup water

 

  • additional cut lime, for garnish

 

 

Directions

  1. To make the simple sugar ahead of time, add the water and sugar into a small pot or sauce pan, over medium heat. Stir until sugar is melted and water starts to bubble – about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature before using. You can store it for up to a month in a container in the fridge.
  2. On a plate, sprinkle about 1-2 tsp of sugar or salt. Using a cut piece of lime, press around the rim of your class to wet the edges, then dip the rim into your sugar or salt. Set aside.
  3. In a shaker, add your ice – about 7-8 cubes. Then add your tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice and simple syrup.
  4. Shake, and pour into your glass, adding more ice if preferred. Add a wedge of lime for garnish, if preferred.

You can adjust the ratio to your preference, but this hits right every time 🙂

To make a larger batch, double, triple, etc the recipe.

Enjoy!

-S

Authentic Maryland-style Crab Cake, but Paleo!

Alright y’all, I’ve been newly inspired.

This past weekend, I felt compelled to go buy a pound of jumbo lump crab meat. Why, you ask? Because apparently my greatest indulgences happen at the grocery store. I live a wildly dangerous life.

Anyway, I had been menu-surfing restaurants out of town for an upcoming work trip (does everyone do this?) and I came across a very seafood-centric restaurant that had what looked like the most beautifully made crab cake, ever. I love seafood, but I am particularly…. particular… when it comes to crab cakes. I grew up in the Mid Atlantic – we’re blessed to be a short drive from the beach, whether it be New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland or the Chesapeake Bay.  Having said that, I’ve grown up to be a bit more  discerning with my seafood sources than someone that doesn’t live near water. (Shameless unpaid plug – if you want the best crab cake on the east coast, Woody’s in North East, MD has it, hands down. Not even up for debate).

So this whole “being-around-Maryland” thing. I have a deep appreciation for the price of crab meat, after actually knowing what it takes to pick enough jumbo lump meat to fill a container. I was probably 17, visiting OCMD for the White Marlin Open that year. At the marina, this petite elderly woman sat in a chair at the end of the dock – we had time to kill, so we stood near her as she picked at the crab with the thimbles on her thumbs and tossed the shells aside. She asked us if we had any good crab recipes, and if we didn’t, did we want one? Without hesitation, she summoned me to find a paper to write her recipe down – I grabbed a Walmart receipt out of my pocket and scribbled it down. I’ll tell you – that recipe is THE ONLY crab cake recipe I’ll ever want to know. It’s indulgent but not heavy, and it will please even the snobbiest of crab-cake connoisseurs.

For a friend with gluten-free needs, I adjusted the recipe and I have to say – it turned out fab. A few more paleo-friendly tweaks and it still turned out really well. I thought I’d share. You can cook them a few different ways – I normally bake mine (so they stay nice and tall and round), but they’re pictured pan-fried. You can make smaller portions for an hors d‘oeuvres, or larger for a dinner. Enjoy!

 

Authentic Maryland-style Crab Cake, but Paleo!

 

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 15 min

Makes 6-8 crab cakes, or 15-18 small bites

 

Ingredients

  • 16 oz jumbo lump crab meat
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup paleo-friendly mayonnaise, such as Primal Kitchen
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1 tsp old bay seasoning
  • Pinch of Fines Herbs seasoning, or dried parsley
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1tsp Grey Poupon (I only use this brand!)
  • 1 tsp paleo Steak or Worcestershire Sauce (I love Primal Kitchen’s Steak Sauce for this)
  • ~1tbsp ghee (or salted butter, if not strict Paleo)
  • Pinch of salt (optional, if making with ghee)

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or if using foil, grease your pan with spray or butter.
  2. In a small bowl, pick through the crabmeat to ensure there are no shells.
  3. In a separate, medium sized bowl, whisk your egg. Add your mayonnaise, continuing to combine.
  4. Next, add your breadcrumbs, old bay, herbs and garlic powder, and stir thoroughly. Add your Dijon and Worcestershire, and stir until combined. Lastly, add your crabmeat and gently stir in, careful not to break apart the lump meat.
  5. Form into 6-8 crab cakes, and space evenly (2-3 in) apart on the baking sheet. If using ghee, melt and add pinch of salt, drizzling a bit over each crab cake. If using butter, add a very thin pat of salted butter to the top to make a nice golden crust.
  6. Bake for 14-16 minutes, or until they start to turn golden brown.

 

Enjoy!

-S

Roasted Dijon Winter Vegetable Medley with Pancetta (Paleo!)

Hello all, and happy 2020. 

I’ve been… for lack of a better word, dormant, so far this winter. I’ve been physically tired, trying to do a lot all at once, have been trying to balance work with fitting in time to cook, and that’s always really hard around the holidays. There was DEFINITELY not a shortage of food, which would be the reason for my favorite jeans being a bit tighter than my preference…. Hoping that with some water, more exercise and more sleep I’ll be back to my old self.

It’s been a whirlwind of a month so far, too. Out in the world there’s some whack shit goin’ down…. Plus we had a full moon that I swear made people turn into wild animals. I was talking with a friend about how this particular moon happened to coincide with a lot of feelings of anxiety, unrest and just general discontentment. I don’t like to feel stagnant – and I think that’s just what I’ve been feeling. I have a few goals, not New Year’s resolutions – I want these to carry on indefinitely, not just for the first six weeks. Although, I am doing Dry January and for those of you that love your red wine the way I do…. It’s been less than stellar but I’m getting by.

Goal #1 – get myself back to my best physical state. I don’t mean crash dieting, “getting thin”, etc. I’ve always been fairly thin, but I want my body to reflect how hard I’ve worked, and I want to feel my best. I dropped the ball at the end of last year…. I plan to continue lifting, and I signed back up for unlimited monthly yoga. My  first hot yoga class of the year was last night, and it was HARD.

Goal #2 – speaking of yoga, I want to take my practice more seriously. I want to be able to handle intense strength movement, and I plan to build upon that. Maybe a few new pairs of tights will be a good incentive.

Goal #3 – indulge in less wine. I’ve cut out all wine for the month of January, which is surprisingly a lot harder than I thought. In noticing this, I realized that my social drinking on weekends crept into a glass with dinner, which turned into one with and one after dinner, which became a lot more frequent that I ultimately want. Learning what is moderation for me and sticking to it will be most important.

Goal #4 – make time for mental clarity. This one is big. My self-proclaimed title as a workaholic is not a humble brag, or any badge of honor. In fact, I often feel shame if I am not working as much as I can – like somehow, I’m Less-Than if I’m not burning the candle at both ends. I don’t like to sit still, be idle, or not have a mental inventory of accomplishments that I can draw from to make sure I’m “still working hard enough”. What’s that even mean, anyway? Working “hard” enough? I’m an accomplished professional, I work long hours… I’ve had at least 2 jobs since I was 10, why am I still trying to check a box? Feeling burnt out already at my age is probably not a sign of good trajectory here, so I plan to take more Me-Time without the shame. I’m giving myself permission to bum it every now and again. 

Goal #5 – lower my expectations. Being realistic, optimistic, pessimistic… those are all still expectations. 2019 was a hard year – I went in feeling like it would be my best year yet, and it was far from it. I’m going into 2020 with the intent to be happy – however that looks, I’ll know in 12 months. Expecting things to go a certain way will set me up for disappointment, which I am not trying to fall into.

I think these are pretty realistic goals…they happen to coincide with the new year, but there’s something icky about calling them New Year’s Resolutions. Maybe it’s the idea that a new year must mean huge changes, and anything less than that means you’re falling short. I’m over that crap, I don’t want to go on thinking I’m failing some sort of test.

I’ve held on to this recipe for a while, and it’s actually really simple… just makes for a really nice combo for your winter meals. Enjoy!

 

Roasted Dijon Winter Vegetable Medley with Pancetta (Paleo)

 

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 45 min

 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 1 large shallot, sliced but left in larger pieces
  • 2 cups fresh butternut squash, cubed
  • 1 cup fresh parsnip, peeled and cubed
  • 2/3 cup pancetta, diced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • For the sauce:
    • 1 clove garlic
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 2 tsp dijon
    • ½ tsp paprika
    • Pinch of coconut sugar (to cut the acidity of the dijon)

     

    Directions

    1. In a large skillet over medium heat, add your shallot and pancetta. Sauté 8-10 minutes, until shallots and pancetta are somewhat brown – then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside, leaving remaining fat behind in the pan.
    1. Still at medium high heat, add your squash, parsnip and brussels, ensuring as many pieces are in contact with the bottom of the pan to crisp. Cover with a lid – this allows steam build up so that the vegetables can cook a bit faster. Stir occasionally – you don’t want the pieces to break apart, but you want them to thoroughly brown on all sides.
    2. Allow to sauté for about 10-12 minutes covered – once things are starting to brown, turn your heat down to medium low and continue to sauté uncovered and allow to crisp for another 20-25 min.. Season with salt and pepper, only stirring occasionally. Adjust heat as needed.
    1. Meanwhile, whisk together your sauce ingredients in a small bowl until emulsified. Set aside.
    1. Checking back with the vegetables, they should have started to caramelize – stir to ensure consistent exposure to the bottom of the pan. Add your pancetta and shallot back, continuing to gently mix. Add your sauce, drizzling over the contents of the pan, gently mixing.
    1. Remove from heat and serve. Delish 🙂

     

    -S

    Crispy Roasted Plantains with Cilantro Lime Aioli (Paleo, Vegan!)

    Hey y’all!

    It’s definitely been a while, I know I need to make an effort to post more. I’ve been cooking, I’ve just been terrible about documenting everything. Some fun stuff, some un-fun stuff, busy with work, the whole nine. I’m headed to the beach late next week, followed by a trip to Philly to see KHALID! (thanks work!), and I plan to just eat… NON STOP. I’ll have to fit some running in there, I think.

    Guess what today is! It’s the start of Leo.  Where are my LEO’s at?! A lot of people near and dear to my heart are born under this sign, and I definitely feel a complete shift in energy, for the better. Interesting about this particular time is that when we are dead in the middle of this fixed Fire sign, there’s a lot more intensity, energy, creativity and overall happiness. People are back in their element. I like that, because all of those warm-weather summer projects are calling. Oh, and that intense heatwave is done, so I no longer have to carry my giant dog across the pavement to the grass for her to go to the bathroom.  It’ll only get better when mercury retrograde is done on July 31, when all the confusion and A.D.D.  slows down.

    Let’s get to it! Who loves to dip stuff into..stuff? I do. My latest obsession is plantains. They’re the older brother of the banana… less sweet, starchier, can go sweet or savory. Though I feel like I’ll never live down the nasty, bouncy-ball, chewy charcoal briquette plantain slices I made a few months ago, my tribe… they’re good sports. They’ll try these again.

    The key to making this dish is RIPE plantains. Borderline brown. Slice them down the middle, gently, and carefully peel them. They’re just so wonderful.

     

    Crispy Roasted Plantains with Cilantro Lime Aioli (Paleo, Vegan!)

    Prep time: 20 min

    Cook time: 40 min

     

    Ingredients

    • 3 large plantains, peeled, sliced into ½ inch pieces on a diagonal
    • 2 tbsp ghee
    • sprinkle of garlic powder
    • sprinkle of onion powder
    • salt and pepper, to taste

    For the aioli

    • 2/3 cup paleo or vegan friendly mayo – i like soy-free Vegenaise
    • juice of 1/2 of a lime
    • 1 small garlic glove, pressed or finely minced
    • 1 heaping tbsp of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
    • pinch of Himalayan salt
    • 1 tbsp olive oil

     

    Directions

    1. In a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat, add 1 tbsp of ghee. Once up to temperature, add plantains, spacing evenly. Sauté until golden brown on each side, about 3-4 minutes per side. Use your remaining tbsp of ghee once you flip the plantains to the 2nd side, to ensure a consistent golden brown crust.
    2. As plantains are cooking, mix together your aioli ingredients and add to a small serving bowl.
    3. Once plantains are thoroughly cooked, tender and brown on both sides, transfer to a paper-towel covered plate to drain excess oil. Serve immediately while still hot.
    4. Garnish with cilantro, lime and one last dusting of salt.

     

    Enjoy!

    -S

    Gorgonzola Chive Hummus (Gluten-Free!)

    Hello friends!

    To say it’s been a while would be an UNDERSTATEMENT.

    So much so, I don’t even know what I last shared with you. Unfortunately, I can’t say I’ve done a ton of cooking. I moved in June, have been absolutely slammed with work (#RemediationQueen, I’ll fix your problems, get at me), slammed with errands…. Who would have thought finding furnishings for a new humble abode was so time consuming? And expensive? Wtf. Figure out what new TV you want, check. Tell the guy at Costco the only reason you’re buying a TV is so your dog can watch it while you’re at work, check. Try to find a nice TV console/stand that’s not as expensive as the TV itself? WHERE? Ugh.

     

    In all of this, though, I’ve tried to set aside some time to make some food that was worth sharing. As busy as I’ve been, I turned to all my old-faithful recipes that are quick, tasty and I can make on autopilot. Though they’ve been mostly paleo and vegetarian, I was at a local restaurant last week and had something I really liked and wanted to create. I’ll share that later, obvi. For now, let’s talk about some moon stuff.

     

    Tomorrow is the New Moon for July – its in Cancer. Shout out to all my Cancer friends – and boy, y’all decided to be born at the same time. I have like 8 friends, and 7 of you have birthdays coming up. Just kidding.. but no really. The interesting thing about this moon is that it coincides with a total solar eclipse. The last total solar eclipse was two years ago, in August 2017 – do you all remember burning your retinas and worrying you’d be permanently blind like I did? Well, our friends in the southern hemisphere will get that fun tomorrow. This New Moon will mean a lot for people’s emotions and frustration. Falling within Cancer, which is one of the four cardinal zodiac signs, means a lot of buried emotions can’t hide any longer and will dig themselves out of the sand – like a crab on the beach would. This action will set off many reactions, and those afflicted will be acting with emotions first, logic second. Like the beach, it’s good to remember that even in a matter of hours – the tide rises and falls. So will our concerns. If your emotions last more than just a few days, perhaps it’s something to wait and think about with your non-emotional, logical side. As with any New Moon, use tomorrow as a “reset” button if you need it – you can shed the past, and start fresh – one step, one day at a time.

     

    Back to food! I went to a local restaurant recently, and their hummus and bread was just… delicious. I loved it. While I’m pretty lax right now and paired it with some naan bread, it would be so good with some gluten free goodies such as cut veggies, cauliflower bread, you name it. I definitely altered this quite a bit (theirs was a dark, almost purple color… I have no idea how they did it). Without further delay, here’s my rendition of the most delicious hummus I’ve had in a long time.

     

    Gorgonzola Chive Hummus (Gluten-Free!)

     

    Prep time: 15 min

    Cook time: n/a

    Makes about 2 cups (good appetizer for 6-8 people)

     

    Ingredients

    • 1 13oz can of organic garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
    • juice from half of a lemon
    • ½ of a yellow onion, loosely quartered (to easily break up in the good processor)
    • 2 tbsp organic olive oil
    • 1 tbsp organic tahini
    • 1 large clove of garlic
    • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, rinsed
    • 1/2 cup fresh chives (no need to chop… just shove em in there)
    • 2/3 cup high quality crumbled gorgonzola (I love Rogue Creamery brand from Wegmans)
    • ~1 tsp ground Himalayan sea salt, or more to taste
    • water, as needed (to thin the hummus)

     

    Directions

    1. In a food processor, first add your garbanzo beans, onion, tahini, lemon and garlic. Puree for 15-20 seconds, slowly pouring in your olive oil as it mixes (if your food processor doesn’t have a lid, add one tbsp at a time).
    2. Once somewhat smooth, add your parsley, chives, gorgonzola and sea salt. Continue to puree – mixture should be smooth. If the mixture needs thinning, add your water, 1 tsp at a time. Taste test, add more salt or lemon if needed.
    3. Once finished, serve in a small bowl. Garnish with additional chives.

     

    Enjoy!

    -S