Zesty Mac and Cheese (Vegan AND PALEO!)

So…. Let’s talk about fall. Let’s talk about….. how I have a closet full of sweaters, I’ve done really well and haven’t bought any new ones (because where the hell am I going, let’s be totally honest), but am bummed because normally I get to go to wineries, fun parties…. Who am I kidding, WORK is my fashion show. Even still, the little things I miss the most have gotten to me a bit… down.

So, I eat my feelings. Working on that…. But for now, we eat.

I’ve been trying to eat a lot less meat in general, and with that – I figure, why not reduce animal stuff altogether? It isn’t actually difficult once you know some basic swaps – vegetable broth for chicken broth, vegan mayo for regular, dairy-free milks (cashew, almond and oat for ones without flavor!)… even if you’re not looking to go “vegan” per se, I find that these little swaps are great ways to cut down cholesterol, sodium or calories in general, if you need to. That, and I have several friends that have dietary restrictions, so I love a challenge.

I was familiar with butternut squash as a sauce, but this was kind of a “winging it” type of thing. Some of these ingredients aren’t normal things one has in their kitchen, but they’re worth buying, and at least in my area, can be found pretty easily. If you have an immersion blender or regular blender, you’ll need it for tonight.

Please note… as good as this is, I realize that some of my friends reading this just want the real thing. Just shoot me an email if you want a real Pennsyl-tucky dairy filled Mac-and-cheese recipe…., my mama makes a mean recipe I also happen to know how to make…. 😉

Yum!

 

Zesty Mac and Cheese (Vegan with PALEO option!)

 

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 45 min

Serves 2-3

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups paleo-friendly noodles, like Jovial Cassava noodles
  • 2 cups of cubed butternut squash, fresh or frozen
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp vegan sour cream (I love this brand, search the link where to find it – omit if strict paleo!)
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • 1 heaping tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • Sprinkle of pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp vegan butter, or ghee
  • ½ cup of vegetable broth, plus more if needed for texture

optional – breadcrumbs:

  • 2 tbsp almond flour (if not paleo, panko breadcrumbs can be used)
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • sprinkle of sea salt
  • 1 tsp of parsley

 

Directions

  1. In a sauce pan, add a tbsp of your preferred cooking fat, your onion and squash. Sauté your onion and butternut squash until soft, about 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover with a lid to ensure steam stays in to soften them faster.
  2. Once soft, add your vegetable broth. Continue to simmer for another 2-3 minutes, adding some salt and pepper. Now, add your paprika, garlic, cumin and chili powder.
  3. At this step, you can either use your immersion blender to puree until smooth, or place into a blender and puree until smooth. The texture should be somewhat thick like cheese sauce and soupy, but not thick like veggies or thin like soup. Add vegetable broth accordingly to adjust texture. Set sauce aside so that the flavors can meld.
  4. In a separate put, bring water to a boil – add your noodles, and boil until al dente.
  5. While they’re boiling, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a skillet or pyrex dish (my skillet is an 8 inch mini Lodge skillet).
  6. Once noodles are cooked and drained according to cooking instruction, Mix them into your sauce. It may look like you have “too much sauce”, but it will absorb slightly into the noodles once baked. Place into your skillet or baking dish, and bake until golden, about 20-25 minutes.
  7. While your macaroni is baking, if using paleo breadcrumbs, mix together all breadcrumb ingredients in a dry small frying pan and toast slightly over medium heat until starting to brown. If using regular breadcrumbs – no need to pre-toast. With 5 minutes left of cooking, remove the mac and cheese and sprinkle your breadcrumbs over top – bake another 5 minutes until starting to brown further, but not burning.
  8. Serve while hot. 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

Cheddar Old Bay Biscuits (with vegan options!)

Hey everyone!

So…. Last time I wrote, the world was normal, I was busy, and stuff was all status quo. Since then, a wild novel coronavirus has infiltrated every corner of the earth, I am stuck at home along with nearly 7.8 billion other people, watching Tiger King, praying I find toilet paper somewhere, and waiting for off-hours to log into my work computer because of network volumes. I am grateful to have a safe place to be, but I’d be lying if I said this was peaches and cream.

I’ve had a LOT of time on my hands in the last 3 weeks…. So why wouldn’t I take the time to post about food!??!

To be completely, honest, I’ve been down. I have been cooking a ton, but I haven’t been enjoying it all that much. I’ve felt guilty when I indulgently dump more shredded cheddar into a bowl (that I normally wouldn’t even eat), wondering if I should be more aware that I’ve still got a paycheck and should be more responsible with my resources. I go to the grocery store, holding my breath (literally) hoping that there’s vegetables there that I can think clearly enough to buy what I need and how to make it last so I’m not out and about, unnecessarily. I’ve left messes in my house, making me quite uncomfortable, so that I have “something to do” a few hours later in cleaning it up.

But it’ll get better – I am alive, healthy (as far as I know, for now), and I have luxuries that I still need to be appreciative of. Having said that, I am going to try to continue posting recipes to my blog, but with more awareness that right now, we’re all just doing the best we can. They may not be paleo, they may not be vegan or gluten free, but hopefully it gives you some inspiration to pass some time and think of everything we do still have until we can all frolic around town like a Disney movie and hug the townspeople.

If you have these things around and can tolerate a bit more lax of a diet, try out this treat for some normalcy, and to make friends with your quarantine buddies. Mine’s my dog, and she’ll eat anything….. but these will still please a picky eater!

Also, pardon this crappy picture of biscuits. Resources are a little stressed, and I ate the rest of them…. 🙂

*4/8/2020 note…. I just looked at my measurements, and they were super super wrong… like ‘worst typo ever’ wrong. Please see below for updated measurements!

Cheddar Old Bay Biscuits! (with vegan options!)

 

Prep time: 5 min

Cook time: 15 min

Makes 6-8 biscuits

 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp Old Bay seasoning, or a pinch more if you like zest
  • ½ cup cold salted butter (cut into cubes), plus ¼ cup melted butter – vegan butter is fine
  • 3/4 to 1 cup milk (non dairy is fine!)
  • ¾ cup shredded cheddar (vegan is fine)
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh, or dried parsley

(note: if you have Bisquick, you can swap the flour, baking powder, salt, cold salted butter and sugar for 2 cups of Bisquick and ¼ cup of melted butter)

 

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425° F.
  2. Pour the flour, baking powder, sugar, garlic powder, and 1 tsp of Old Bay seasoning in a food processor, then add the cold butter and pulse until the butter is chopped into small pieces. If a food processor isn’t available, mix the dry ingredients thoroughly by hand, then mixing the butter in by hand, pressing the dry mix into the butter thoroughly. (If using Bisquick, mix the Bisquick in a bowl with the garlic powder, Old Bay and melted butter and stir).
  3. Next, pour in the milk and shredded cheddar, then mix to combine. The mixture should be easily breakable by hand, somewhat sticky, neither runny or dry and crumbly. Add more flour or milk (or Bisquick) accordingly to achieve this consistency, if needed.
  4. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, or grease a foil-lined sheet. Use a scoop to place even portions of biscuit  (approximately 1/3 cup) batter onto the baking sheets, two inches apart.
  5. Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes, or until golden.
  6. Meanwhile, whisk the remaining melted butter and parsley together for the biscuit tops. Once the biscuits come out of the oven, brush them with melted butter.

 

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

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

Spicy Chipotle Turkey Meatballs in Gravy (Paleo!)

Well hey, y’all. Interestingly enough, a wild snowstorm appeared in the bushes and all of us are here waiting for it.  Some sources say 3-5 inches, some say 4-6, I say…. I’m wearing leggings, found a giant blanket, and I have my work laptop out with a cup of tea, a dog and two cats staring at me. Woo! Unexpected snowstorms. An interesting turn of events after a few days off from work followed by a day of intense work crises.

I said yesterday that I often post and talk about the moon. While I’ve not had anyone openly object to my doing so, I figured I’d at least share why I believe it to be so important. Have you ever heard the word “lunatic”? While it’s an antiquated way to refer to someone who is behaving erratically or is mentally ill, the word has roots in a deeper meaning. Philosophers like Aristotle believed that those with bipolar disorder or other mental illnesses were triggered by the moon. Though in modern days, there’s evidence on both sides that the moon impacts human behavior, I’m here for the fun stuff. The “I Can’t Explain It But I Know Something’s Different” stuff. The far-out, woo-woo stuff.

Though it’s really anecdotal evidence, I find that days where the full moon is expected are not the same. Perhaps it’s that it really is just brighter outside, and you notice all the little leaves blowing about. Perhaps it’s just that it’s something bigger in the sky to look at, and triggers a series of thoughts about what’s really out there, thoughts of existentialism, or how there’s so much more going on than we can see. I’m a believer in the moon’s influence, but I realize its not for everyone.

That having been said, this moon comes at an interesting time. The “Snow Supermoon”, as they’re calling it, came just on the brink of a major snowstorm. It comes at a particular time of year where people are coming out of their fog, eager for what’s next. Bonus season just ended for a lot of employers, which is a precursor to a lot of job changes, new adventures, and the like. But on a more personal level, Spring is just around the corner. Daylight savings is, too. There’s a lot of change on the horizon politically and economically. So, how does this particular moon really have anything to do with that?

This  particular moon, falling within 0 degrees of Virgo, is said to strengthen our intuition and emotional side, but also creates the space for us to really take ownership of how to make real what our intentions are. This is really the time for one to lay groundwork and get organized – to set up the logistics to get what it is they really desire. This full moon falls during a great shift in awareness, so it can feel really intense to suddenly realize, “Wow, I have REALLY got to get moving.” Just don’t forget to set aside time to have fun, to relax, and above all, to de-stress your mind.

What better way to de-stress than to enjoy some good ol’ comfort food? Little meatballs! Maybe I should call them moon-balls. I don’t think people would eat them if I did. I guess we’ll stick with meatballs.

Enjoy these paleo-friendly Spicy Chipotle Turkey Meatballs – recipe below!

 

Spicy Chipotle Turkey Meatballs in Gravy (Paleo!)

 

Prep time: 25 min

Cook time: 40 min

 

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 4oz can of adobo sauce
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped; stems and seeds removed
  • 1 medium-sized yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 can of full fat coconut milk
  • 1 tsp coconut flour or tapioca flour (for thickening), plus more if needed

 

Directions

  1. In a large skillet, add splash if your preferred cooking fat as well as your chopped onion. Sauté over medium heat until translucent, about 4-5 minutes.
  2. In the same skillet, also over medium heat, add your garlic and bell pepper. Sauté until the peppers have cooked out much of their water and onions start to brown – another 5-6 minutes. Season with a small pinch of salt.
  3. Remove from heat, leaving half of your onion/pepper mixture in your pan and set aside – you will move the remaining half into a large mixing bowl.
  4. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  5. Within your mixing bowl, add your ground turkey, egg, almond flour, 2 tbsp of adobo sauce, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly. If mixture is too wet, add more almond flour, 1 tbsp at a time. Turkey tends to be less stiff when raw than ground beef or other ground meat, so you don’t want to add too much more flour – they will be dry once cooked.
  6. Once thoroughly mixed, use your hands (or a melon baller/cookie scooper for consistency) to roll mixture into 1-1 1/2 inch balls. Arrange on a greased, foiled or parchment lined baking sheet, evenly spacing 2-3 inches apart. Bake until they start to brown, about 20-25 minutes. It may be more or less time, depending on the size of the meatballs.
  7. Meanwhile, as your meatballs are cooking, place your skillet with onion and peppers back over medium heat. Once brought to temperature, add your coconut milk and another 2 tbsp of adobo sauce, allowing pepper and onion to simmer. Add salt and pepper, to taste. If more adobo is needed, continue to add, 1 tbsp at a time, to ensure appropriate spiciness. Once simmering, if still quite thin, add your tsp of coconut or tapioca flour and stir until well combined. To avoid burning, turn the heat to low and allow to simmer.
  8. Once meatballs are finished cooking, gently remove from  your baking sheet and add to your skillet, stirring to coat meatballs in your gravy. I like to cover it and let it simmer so the meatballs stay tender/juicy for about 3-4 minutes.

Serve, and enjoy!

-S

 

 

Bacon-Wrapped Pepper Bites with Guacamole (Paleo!)

I need to step my game up. I feel like every time I make a post, it has to do with either the full moon or new moon…. which means I am not posting all that much. I don’t know why I’m so busy, but I do know that it’s from running around like crazy. 

 

So one thing I’m going to start doing more of this year is Reiki. I’m definitely going to do a whole post on the practice, benefits and effects of it, but for now, my priority is to get a plan together for continuing to practice. Stay tuned for more of that if that interests you.

 

Onto more of the GOOD STUFF…. I have a lot of recipes I’ve been saving and just haven’t gotten around to posting because I like to put up what I think people are most interested in seeing. There are definitely times where a recipe idea jumps out at me and I have to make it and post it, and let me tell you… this is definitely one of those times. These things came out just as good as I hoped they would, which is excellent — I love bacon. If you have a party coming up, these are perfect for the guacamole lovers in your life. I’m not even kidding when I say you should probably make a double batch though, because you won’t want to give any away.

 

Bacon-Wrapped Pepper Bites with Guacamole (Paleo!)

prep time: 20 min

cook time: 20 min

 Ingredients

  • 1 lb nitrate-free bacon, kept chilled until use (I recommend Butcher Box, or Wellshire!)
  • 1 large bag of mini sweet peppers – yields about 18-24 peppers
  • handful of toothpicks, soaked in water for 15-20 minutes
  • 2 large ripe avocados
  • 1 tbsp red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 roma or vine tomato, finely chopped (this part is important!)
  • 2 heaping tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • juice from 1/2 lime (or more, to taste)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Ziploc bag or pastry bag, for filling peppers

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cover a baking sheet with foil.
  1. Cut the top off of each pepper, discarding the stem, seeds and ribs from the inside. Make sure the pepper is cut so that it can stand on its own, flat side down, when placed on the baking sheet.
  1. Starting from the uncut side, carefully wrap each pepper with bacon completely. Depending on the size of the pepper, you may want to start with a half-slice of bacon. If you happen to do multiple layers, it’s alright too – the bacon will still crisp because it isn’t lying flat on the baking sheet. 
  1. Once wrapped, secure the bacon to the pepper by poking the toothpick across the pepper, near the flat side. This will keep the bacon from unwrapping as it cooks.
  1. Place your bacon wrapped peppers in the oven, spaced apart evenly, and bake until the bacon is thoroughly browned, about 20-25 minutes.
  1. Meanwhile, as your peppers cook, prep your guacamole. In a medium sized mixing bowl, gently mash your avocado thoroughly, ensuring there are minimal chunks left. You don’t want to beat it too hard though, as it will start to become runny.
  1. Next, add your onion, tomato, cilantro, lime and seasoning. Mix thoroughly, adjusting salt and pepper to taste.
  1. Once peppers are done, remove from heat and set aside, leaving toothpicks in place until partially cooled. Once cooled, add your guacamole mixture to your bag. If using a Ziploc bag, place guac into the bag before cutting a small part (about 1/2 in across) of the corner off your bag. If you don’t cut enough, you can always cut more off.
  1. Squeeze your guacamole into your peppers until just filled. Arrange on a plate, and enjoy!

 

-S