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

    Pumpkin Risotto with Fried Sage and Feta (Gluten-Free with Vegan Option!)

    Stop… pumpkin  time!

    Alright, here’s what’s up. The weather is cooling down, at least at night. All my fun pumpkin and other fall recipes are slowly creeping in. and let me tell you….. I’m excited. Honestly, I won’t spend all day here talking about the less important stuff, let’s get straight to the facts – Pumpkin is the law of the land from September 1 through November 30. This marks the time of year where I’m a little more lax on my food preferences, because I like to enjoy holidays to the fullest extent. Also, I tried making this recipe with cauliflower rice and it just wasn’t as indulgent.

    Cue: Pumpkin Risotto, The Food You Didn’t Know You Needed Until You Ate It. This is creamy, gluten-free, delicious, flavorful, and has a lot of room to make it super indulgent for your friends without dietary restrictions, and if you make too much, you can do what I did and make arancini with the leftovers J While I would’ve loved to make this paleo, I chose not to because I wanted to make sure I got the full effect of a good fall dish. If you’re going to use cauliflower rice as a substitute, proceed with caution. Cauliflower holds more water and less flavor – you may need to go a bit heavier on your seasonings if using cauliflower.

    Let’s jump in, shall we?

     

    Pumpkin Risotto with Fried Sage and Feta (Gluten-Free with Vegan Option!)

    prep time: 15 min

    cook time: 30 min

    Ingredients

    • 4 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth if making vegan)
    • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling!)
    • 3 tbsp ghee or butter, separated (vegan option: 2 tbsp coconut oil)
    • 1 large shallot, minced
    • 1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
    • ½ cup fresh sage, loosely chopped
    • 1 small garlic clove, minced or pressed
    • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
    • Small handful of fresh parsley, finely  chopped
    • sea salt to taste (be generous!)
    • Pinch of pepper
    • Pinch of pumpkin pie seasoning (a literal pinch – nothing more than to make fragrant)
    • 2/3 cup crumbled feta

    Directions

    1. In a large mixing cup, combine your pumpkin puree and whisk until smooth. Set aside.
    2. In a small skillet, heat 1-2 tbsp of your butter over medium heat. Gently add a piece of sage to test the temperature and see how long it takes your sage to brown. Once you’ve tested, arrange your sage leaves in a single layer, allowing to crisp, about 20-30 seconds, working in batches if necessary. Sage doesn’t contain a lot of water, so it doesn’t take a lot of time to crisp. If it turns completely brown, it’s fried too long. Set aside on a plate/napkin to let cool.
    3. Next, in a large sauce pan or pot, melt 2 tbsp of your butter (or oil) over medium heat, Add your shallot, garlic, and pinch of salt. Sauté until shallot becomes translucent, about 2-3 minutes.
    4. Add your thyme and uncooked rice, stirring to coat rice with mixture. Continue cooking, stirring frequently to prevent rice from browning too much.
    5. Turn your heat down to medium low. A half cup at a time, slowly add your pumpkin stock mixture until it evaporates. Add another half cup, allowing the liquid to absorb until you are out of liquid, all in all about 20 minutes. The rice should be cooked, not entirely al dente, but not gummy. It should still have a creamy texture. Do a taste test and adjust with salt and pepper. Remember – you will be adding additional sage and feta, so don’t go too heavy handed.
    6. Serve, and garnish with feta and sage.

    Enjoy!

    -S

    Orange Ginger Kale salad (Paleo, Vegan!)

    Hello, my food-loving friends! This week is especially exciting for me for a few reasons. Let’s break this down:

    It’s a new moon on July 31st, which is quite fitting for me at the moment. New starts, new opportunities (and a pair of new shoes that should be coming in the mail that day….). So this particular one aligns conjunct with Venus and square with Uranus, so… to all my hetero friends, be kind to your significant others. You’re likely going to want to roundhouse kick someone, and the battling masculine and feminine energy of this alignment is all it’s going to take for someone to get sassy. Also – with this confusion and battling balance between yin and yang energy, try not to impulse-buy or make major decisions without really thinking things through.

    Let’s start with my upcoming vacay. I’ll be off this Friday for a week, spending some time down at the beach with friends. SOOOO excited. Against my better judgment, I’ll be laying around like a baked potato by the pool, cooking, enjoying some fun time with friends. I have a ton of new recipes and several willing taste-testers, so be on the lookout on my Instagram (@thedivinekitchen) to see what I’ll be cooking and doing.

    Side note, as I’ve typed this, I need to share those shoes I bought. I’m a huge fan of Athleta, and I love those funky-looking Sorel Kinetic sneakers they use a lot in their ads. They’re edgy, different and apparently super comfortable. I’ve had my eye on them for about 2 years, but as a shoe-holic and sneaker junkie as it is, I figured I didn’t need a pair of play sneakers. Then, I saw Zappos was having a sale, and then a sale on top of a sale… so you bet your buns I caved and bought them. Go check them out and grab a pair while they’re still marked down! Link here.

    Now, onto the real excitement. I found out on Friday that I’ve qualified as a finalist in the Mushroom Festival’s Amateur Cook Off! The mushroom festival is a town festival in my hometown of Kennett Square, PA,  hosted to  celebrate our town’s claim to fame as the mushroom capital of the world. The winner wins some cash, bragging rights, and a ticket to the World Food Championships to compete again. Wow, talk about nerves! I never signed up for the show “Chopped” because it seems terrifying, and here I am trying to win and go to the World Food Championships. Ayeyeye. Maybe one step closer to being on the Food Network, my Guy-Fieri inspired outdoor kitchen, and having the horse farm of my dreams.

    My recipe is required to have mushrooms and this year’s sponsor item, Scaramuzza pasta. I will be making Ricotta Gnocchi with Sage, Pancetta and Mushroom in a garlic cream sauce. not paleo, but definitely tasty. I think I’ll be doing a lot of mushroom recipes as it gets closer to the festival so you guys can really appreciate mushroom recipes that aren’t weird. After all, it’s a fungi…. Eating fungus sounds gross in theory but mushroom recipes are delicious.

    All of that being said (and switching gears to something a lollbit healthier), try this delicious salad that’ll serve a crowd with some in-season summer goodies. Yum!

    Orange Ginger Kale salad (Paleo, Vegan!)

    Prep time: 15 min

    Cook time: 15-20 min for kale to absorb dressing

    Ingredients

    • 1 head of kale, ribs/stems removed, loosely chopped
    • 1/2 cup toasted pecans
    • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
    • dried white craisins
    • optional for non-paleo or non-vegans – 1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese

    For the dressing

    • juice of one orange, plus zest
    • 1 small clove of garlic, minced or pressed
    • 1/2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 2 tbsp champagne vinegar

    Directions

    1. In a medium-sized bowl, add your dressing ingredients and allow to flavors to infuse. Set aside.
    2. Add your kale to a large bowl.
    3. Stir your dressing once more, and pour through a fine strainer to catch the garlic and ginger chunks (no one wants an entire mouthful of garlic in a refreshing salad!)
    4. Stir to combine and allow to sit for 10-15 minutes, mixing gently every few minutes to let the dressing break the kale down a bit.
    5. Once ready to serve, add your pecans, shallot and goat cheese, if using.

    Enjoy!

    -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

    Arugula-Quinoa Salad with Lime Vinaigrette (Vegan, Gluten-Free!)

    Mondays. It’s sort of warm out, but it’s also sort of cloudy and a little sad. I’ve been perpetually hungry, too, so I’ve been trying to eat a lot more protein as I try to run more. Finding alternatives to animal sources of protein has been kinda hard since my go-to is usually chicken, but I’ve been wanting to incorporate a more plant-based approach to my diet.

     

    A few weeks ago, I had seen this recipe on one of those facebook videos. I usually scroll past them as they are typically fried, filled with cheese, beef, or weird combinations of meat. Don’t get me wrong, I love bacon…. But I don’t want to wrap a chicken breast loaf stuffed with Babybel cheeses wrapped in ham and ketchup. Exaggeration? Yes. But only a little, which is kind of gross.

     

    When I planned to make the salad, I was making my weekly Sunday Dinner. Since we already had a meat, I didn’t want meat in my salad, too. I actually swapped out the meat (which I think was seafood) for quinoa, and it was a welcome substitute. I don’t go out of my way to make quinoa because unless it’s really dressed up, it sort of tastes like shit. This has a lot of really great flavors, fun textures, and it keeps in the fridge really nicely when you have leftovers. Let’s just jump right into it. This salad isn’t the most beautiful dish on the table, but it sure does taste good!

     

    Arugula-Quinoa Salad with Lime Vinaigrette (Vegan, Gluten-Free!)

    Prep time: 20 min

    Cook time: 15 min (plus cooling time)

     

    Ingredients 

    • 1 cup dry quinoa (yields about 2.5-3 cups cooked)
    • 1 pkg (~10oz) of cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
    • 1/2 of a small red onion, finely chopped
    • 2 avocados, cut into 1/2 in cubes
    • 1 mango, diced into 1/2 in cubes
    • 1 cucumber, seeds and skin removed, diced into 1/2 in cubes
    • 2 heaping cups of arugula, roughly chopped
    • 1 big handful of cilantro, chopped

     

    For the dressing

    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 1 large garlic clove, pressed or very finely chopped
    • Zest of 1 lime
    • Juice of two limes
    • 1 tbsp of Apple Cider Vinegar
    • 1 tsp maple syrup

    Optional (not vegan!) – Feta, to taste

     

    Directions

    1. In a saucepan, heat 2 cups of water and 1 tsp sea salt  until boiling – add your quinoa and turn heat down to low. Simmer until quinoa is softened and water is absorbed, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat, add to a bowl to cool, and fluff with a fork occasionally to let the heat out. You can also do this step ahead and refrigerate your quinoa.
    1. While your quinoa is cooking, combine your halved tomatoes, chopped onion, diced avocadoes, diced mango, diced cucumber, cilantro and arugula in a bowl. Gently mix to combine, careful not to mash the avocado.
    1. Next, mix your dressing ingredients together in a large bowl, whisking until emulsified. If it separates while you’re preparing your dish, whisk to combine just before using.
    1. Once your quinoa is cooled, fluff with a fork once more and add to your mixing bowl, along with your dressing. Gently stir again to combine, careful so as to not crush the avocado.

    Serve, and enjoy!

    -S

    Caribbean Party Rice (Vegan, Gluten-Free!)

    Hey foodies. Half way through another week and the moon is now in Libra! To be honest, I don’t know that this would necessarily influence my life to the point where I stop and point it out to myself, but it’s nice to think about. I like to think that, similar to my actual birthday month, that this is my own little dedicated “me!” time, or that I should meditate or do more yoga during this time.

     

    I made a really fun dinner this past Sunday — I was inspired by the super bright and sunny day we had on Saturday and decided to make a Caribbean themed dinner. All I wanted was bright colors, spicy and earthy flavors, and… pineapple.

     

    I have a love/hate relationship with pineapple. It really does have a great flavor, but the texture is enough to make me gag and immediately spit it out. I think this stems back to my older sister force-feeding me pineapples after a stomach bug as a child. I’ll never fully recover.

     

    That doesn’t stop me from enjoying little bits of it every now and again though. While I used the majority of the pineapple in the rest of my recipes, I added a little dash to this dish. I saw a jerk spiced rice recipe with beans in it, but I wanted this to be a bit more fun and colorful. 

     

    Caribbean Party Rice (Vegan, Gluten-Free!)

     

    prep time: 30 min

    cook time: 30 min

    Serves 6-8

     

    Ingredients

     

    • 2.5 cups uncooked long-grain white rice
    • 1 13oz can of coconut milk
    • 1 cup pineapple juice
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped, seeds and ribs removed
    • 1 small yellow bell pepper, finely chopped, seeds and ribs removed
    • 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
    • 1/2 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
    • 1 large jalapeno, finely chopped, seeds and ribs removed
    • 3 stalks of scallions, thinly sliced, green and white parts added
    • 1.5 to 2 tsp of sea salt (to taste – I love salt but tend to intentionally under salt)
    • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
    • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

     

    Directions

    1. In a large saucepan, add your coconut milk, cloves, cayenne pepper, pineapple juice, water and rice. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and cover. allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes, checking to ensure rice is not stuck to the bottom of the pan. Stir, check that it’s cooked (should be soft, no al dente rice!) and allow to air out, fluffing as it dries.
    1. Meanwhile, as you’re waiting for the rice to cook, add your bell pepper, red onion and garlic to a large frying pan with your preferred cooking fat, over medium heat. Sauté until onion stars to become translucent, about 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add your garlic and continue to sauté for another 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat until you’re able to add your rice (if it isn’t finished cooking).
    1. Once your rice has finished cooking, add it to your skillet, over a medium low heat. Add your fresh jalapenos and stir, adding additional seasoning if desired. Don’t be afraid to kick up the spices in this one — if you want flavorful rice, you must be generous with your spices!
    1. Continue sautéing until rice is thoroughly mixed, brought back to temperature and browned in some spots. Once finished, remove from heat and stir in your cilantro. Serve immediately.

     

    Enjoy!

    -S

    BBQ Cauliflower “Wings” (Paleo, with vegan option!)

    Happy Monday!

    I don’t know how the weekend went so fast, but it was MUCH needed. Though it was technically a short week last week due to Monday being off and Wednesday being a snow day, it felt like the longest week ever. I’m ready for another vacation. While I was home on Wednesday, I got to experiment a bit with some really good  BBQ recipes. Example – cauliflower.

    Yes, you read that right.

    No, it isn’t gross. 

    No, you shouldn’t tell picky eaters what it is until after they eat it.

    They were like cute little  boneless wings, all crispy and delicious. If I made them again, I’d definitely tweak a few things… so here is my recommendation!

     

    BBQ Cauliflower “Wings” (Paleo, with vegan option!)

    prep time: 30 min

    Cook time: 45-50 min total

    Ingredients

    For the cauliflower:

    • 1 small head of cauliflower florets, trimmed into bite-size but still somewhat large pieces
    • 1 cup of tapioca flour
    • 2 tsp salt, divided
    • 2 tsp garlic powder, divided
    • ½ tsp chili powder
    • ½ tsp black pepper
    • 3 eggs (vegan option: 1 tbsp flax meal, pinch of salt and 3 tbsp hot water, stirred thoroughly)
    • 3/4 cup almond flour
    • 1/4 cup cassava flour
    • 1 tsp dried parsley

    For the BBQ sauce:

    • 2/3 cup organic ketchup
    • ¼ cup sriracha sauce
    • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
    • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
    • 1 tsp maple syrup
    • ½ tsp paprika
    • 1 tsp garlic powder
    • ¼ tsp cayenne powder
    • 1 tsp onion powder
    • Salt and pepper, to taste

    Directions

    1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. In three separate mixing bowls, add your tapioca flour with a tsp of salt to one bowl, your eggs (or flax egg mixture) to another, and then your almond flour, cassava flour, tsp of salt and parsley to the last one. Make sure the contents of each bowl are mixed thoroughly.
    1. Dredge your cauliflower first in your tapioca flour, tapping to dust off any excess, but not too hard so that all the flour comes off. Next, dip into your egg/”egg” mixture, thoroughly coating. Lastly, dredge your piece of cauliflower in your almond flour/breadcrumb mixture. Place on a greased/lined baking sheet spaced evenly apart, and repeat for the rest of the cauliflower pieces. Once finished, bake until golden brown, about 35-40 minutes.
    1. Meanwhile, as your cauliflower is baking, add your ketchup, vinegar, sugar, maple syrup, paprika, garlic, cayenne and onion powder to a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Once brought to a boil, reduce heat to low and allow to simmer and thicken for 15-20 minutes. Test for salt/pepper needed, and add to taste. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
    1. Once your cauliflower is cooked, remove from heat and add to a large mixing bowl.  Set your oven to broil. Generously brush your sauce over the cauliflower bites in the bowl, gently stirring to coat. Once coated, add back to your baking sheet, spreading into a single layer, evenly spaced.
    1. Broil until cauliflower starts to crisp again. Remove from heat, and serve.

     

    Enjoy!

    -S