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

Nacho Kale Chips (Paleo, Vegan!)

Today’s the first day of school!

I don’t have kids, so the only reason this is significant to me is because traffic gets heavier and there are school buses everywhere. I get into my job very early in an attempt to miss work traffic, but I end up getting caught in school traffic. Always something. 

Ok – so having said that, I’ve been using any bit of spare time to create recipe ideas for fall, because Labor Day is coming. Soon it will be socially acceptable to turn into a pumpkin and sprinkle cinnamon and cloves on everything I touch. Can’t WAIT! I don’t drink caffeine if I can help it so I am not a pumpkin spice latte kind of girl, but I have already started buying sweaters and writing down recipes for soups, stews and things you can make in the oven. We’ve had a little taste of cooler weather recently and it’s been lovely. I even have a hair appointment next week for lowlights for cooler weather. When I say I am ready, I aint lyin’.

So, a lot of my posts are centric around the moon – I wanted to take this time to mention this coming Friday’s “Super Moon” new moon. The moon is something unanimously understood, even if it at a really basic level. I would imagine that not nearly as many people are going to relate to the fact that this new moon is conjunct with Mars, or that the Sun and Mars trine Uranus. While it’s significant, the moon is a universal touchpoint for people to understand astrological or cosmic influence and have it be relatable. New moons represent new beginnings – this one is considered a “super moon” because of how close (and large) it will be, though we won’t be able to see it that well if at all. Similar to the recent full moon, this particular phase is aligned similarly – an abundance of creativity because there’s a lot of masculine and feminine energy from surrounding planet alignments. Laymen’s terms – start something fun! Pick up a new healthy habit, start a craft, or kick off a project you’ve been meaning to get to. 

Switching gears. I’ve been doing recipes with a plan recently, trying to get the last of summer. I had one initially planned but then I decided to buy another giant bunch of kale, forgetting I already had one at home. What does one do when they have too much kale? Since I can’t give it to my dog (FYI, y’all – kale is high in calcium oxalate which can cause kidney stones in dogs), I was just going to make a bunch of salads and give them all away. Then it dawned it me. I’m going to make kale chips.

I love kale chips, but let’s be honest. They’re expensive when you buy them. They break and crumble. Oh, also – I am sort of cheap. Why am I paying $8 for a box of kale crumbs? I definitely should be able to make these? So it took about 14 seconds to decide that I wanted nacho kale chips. Vegan nacho kale chips. 

These were really easy, I was surprised. There wasn’t a whole lot of experimenting, so I think I lucked out here. They turned out delicious. Next time you want to buy 2 huge bunches of kale, keep this recipe in the back of your mind!

 

Nacho Kale Chips (Paleo, Vegan!)

 

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 20 min

Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch of kale, ribs removed, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground sea salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus more if needed

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet or two with foil and spray, or use parchment paper to line the sheet.
  1. In a small mixing bowl, add your tahini and spices. Whisk your oil in, slowly. Mixture should be thinner than straight tahini but not quite runny. Add more olive oil in if needed, 1 tsp at a time to get the right consistency. Adjust flavors to taste – it should be pretty zesty with a noticeably salty flavor. 
  1. In a large mixing bowl, add your kale (ensuring it’s dry first!). Drizzle your dressing over the kale. With clean or gloved hands, thoroughly mix the kale, pressing the dressing into the leaves to break them down.
  1. On your cookie sheet(s), spread your kale out in an even single layer, ensuring pieces aren’t overlapped.
  1. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until thoroughly crispy but not burnt.

Enjoy!

-S

Restaurant-Style Spicy Mayo (Paleo, with Vegan option!)

We’re in a heat wave. 

This is about that time of year where I’ve gotten my summer vacations out of the way, and my next low-key excitement is buying sweaters from WHBM… so I get tired of the heat pretty quickly. My birthday is in the fall and as much as I try to hide my love for all things pumpkin, I really just can’t. Mums, pumpkins, sweaters, apples, pumpkins next to mums, Dogfish Head Punkin Ale, roasting veggies while wearing a sweater and drinking Punkin Ale, arranging mums while stacking pumpkins while drinking a Punkin Ale, more pumpkins, ugh. It’s too good. Now that I think of it, 2 years ago I bought mums way too early and they just chose to leave me and die because of the heat. After replacing them twice, I decided I need more patience.

We aren’t there yet! It’s still hot, and I still have nice people bringing me fruit, tomatoes, peppers, etc from their gardens. A lady gave me a zucchini the other day the size of a baby. Little hot peppers, cute little radishes, herbs – I should appreciate this time of year more than I do. Having said that, a lot of this stuff translates well into different types of cuisines. Mexican food? Dice those tomatoes and make some guac. Jalapenos? Make a fun sauce. Lots of parsley, basil and cilantro? Make chimichurri! With all good end-of-summer recipes though, you need a good sauce. Fish tacos, roasted veggies, burgers, sandwiches, you need something to bring the heat and complement your food.

You know that delicious spicy mayo they make at sushi restaurants? That sauce that has just the right amount of flavor, and if you’re feeling sassy you order like 2 sides of it? Well, good news! I made a recipe that is probably nothing close to what they’re actually making, but it tastes pretty darn close and is easy to make. Put it on everything. This also puts that huge jar of Mother In Law’s Gochugaru Chili Flakes you may have bought for my last recipe to good use. I actually smothered those Cajun Artichoke Turkey Burgers with this spicy mayo and my chimichurri sauce in a lettuce wrap and a slice of grilled red onion. Yum 🙂

Restaurant-Style Spicy Mayo (Paleo, with Vegan option!)

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: n/a

Makes ~1 cup

Ingredients

  • ¾ Paleo-friendly mayo, or Veganaise
  • ¼ cup Sriracha, adjust for heat preference. Get the chicken-bottle stuff, keep it authentic J
  • 1 tsp coconut aminos (soy sauce, if not strict paleo)
  • 1 tsp paleo-friendly Worcestershire-style sauce – I like Primal Kitchen’s Steak Sauce. Annie’s also makes a vegan Worcestershire sauce (or use regular, if you aren’t strict)
  • 1 tsp gochugaru chili flakes

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Easy peasy.

Can be stored in the fridge for as long as the expiration date on your mayo says – I doubt it’ll last that long because you’ll definite eat it all!

 

Enjoy!

-S

Chimichurri Sauce (Paleo, Vegan, Gluten-Free, EVERYTHING)

I’m a little late on posting this. And, by a little, I mean a lot. I really wanted to post it last Wednesday, but time got away from me.

So! This most recent full moon (in Aquarius) was directly opposite of Venus, which calls love and relationships front and center and puts you directly in front of whatever you’ve been facing in the background. Because of how strong this position is, until the new moon, ensure that important decisions you make are done so with logic and understanding, and not just emotion. The open window for opportunity is also here, so if there’s something to shake up and change, now would be the time.

That’s one thing I like to think about when it’s a full moon. I look at new moons as though they’re a beginning to a new chapter, and full moons as sort of a “pulse check” to make sure your intentions are where they should be by shining literal and figurative light on everything around you.

So about those turkey burgers I posted last week. It seems a lot of people were as jazzed about them as I was, which is always awesome. I definitely need to share with you this sauce concoction I made while I was at the beach. It’s called Chimichurri sauce – most often found in South American food, I’ve seen it served with steak. Personally, I’d eat it on everything and anything. When I’ve had it before, it’s been a bit more heavy on the oil, so I lightened it up this time and while the texture/consistency is different, I HIGHLY recommend keeping this on hand pretty much all the time. Put it on your breakfast, put it on your burger, put it on your chicken, your tacos, your fish, anything you’re eating, this pretty much takes what you’re eating from a 2 to like an 11. Delicious. Make it your own, too – my version has some zip to it, but you can change yours up to add whatever other common herbs you have on hand too (oregano, mint, etc).

Chimichurri Sauce (Paleo, Vegan, Gluten-Free, EVERYTHING)

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: n/a

 

Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch of cilantro, stems removed
  • 2 handfuls of fresh basil
  • 1 large bunch of fresh parsley, stems removed

(at this point, I should be honest, you don’t need specific ratios, just a medium sized mixing bowl filled with fresh herbs… just go heavy on the parsley)

  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil, plus more if needed
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1/3 of a red or yellow onion
  • 1 1/2 tsp gochugaru chili flakes (I like Mother In Law’s Korean Chili Flakes)
  • Sea salt, to taste (I used ~1 tsp)

 

Directions

  1. In a food processor, add your herbs, garlic and onion. Start blending, slowly pouring in your olive oil until you achieve a thinner consistency.
  2. Once the herbs are finely blended, add your lime juice, salt and chili flakes. Continue to blend. The consistency should be thin, almost runny, but not watery.
  3. Do a quick taste test – this should be herby but not taste like a mouth full of grass… it should be tangy, salty and flavorful. Add more lime juice, chili flakes or salt if needed, and blend for another 10-15 seconds.
  4. Serve and enjoy! I keep mine in the fridge for up to 5 days after. It may slightly dull in color over time but it’s still tasty, don’t worry!

-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