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

 

 

Shrimp Pad Thai (Gluten Free with Paleo and Vegan substitutes!)

Happy….Tuesday? These days blend together. I hope everyone reading this is healthy and safe at home!

I did wake up at “normal” time today, won’t be doing that again until stuff is open once again. It’s only fun to do when I have things to tend to, like getting dressed and going to the gym. Right now, I just leave here to either take my dog out for as long of walks as we can, or even less frequently, go to the store. I have been doing yoga once or twice a day, and I even skipped the wine and White Claw last night. I’m trying. It’s hard.

I put it off in favor of getting take out, eating an outdoorsy Easter dinner in my mom’s flowerbed with my own plates, fork and serving utensils (social distancing, y’all), as well as trying to stretch out my leftovers… but I FINALLY made my Pad Thai. It was worth the wait.

I’ve made this a few times and because I rarely go by a recipe, sometimes it turns out better than others. It’s never been bad, but last night’s edition was the best I’ve done. Fortunately, I wrote down most of it. Key word – “most”.

A lot of my best recipes are based off of improvisation. Outside of basic ingredients, when it comes to seasoning, my recipes tend to err on the  cautious side. I have a really high tolerance for spicy, and I LOVE love love salt, so when I piece these recipes together, it’s done for the masses who may not be able to tolerate the 7 teaspoons of red curry paste that I’m really using… so I only write in to use the 4 tsp that I started with, “plus more, if preferred”. It’s a good lesson for me to start writing down my recipes more accurately… but I’m always open to feedback!

Okay, on to the noodles. This recipe uses rice noodles from my local grocery store, but if you wanted a bonafide paleo recipe you could use shirataki noodles, zoodles (zucchini spiralized “noodles”), or the new Jovial Cassava pasta once it’s available.

 

Shrimp Pad Thai (Gluten Free with Paleo and Vegan substitutes!)

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 20 min

Serves 3-4

 

Ingredients

  • 1 package of rice noodles –  if preferred: shirataki noodles, any whole wheat or gluten-free spaghetti noodle or Jovial brand’s Cassava spaghetti noodles will do
  • 2 large carrots, julienned or shaved
  • 1 medium yellow onion, halved then sliced into ¼ inch thick semi circles
  • 1 cup of fresh or frozen sliced green beans, or snow peas
  • 1 tbsp fresh minced or pressed garlic
  • 1/3 to ½ lb of raw shrimp, peeled and tails removed (if vegan – sub tofu in, or your preferred veggies)
  • 1 handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tbsp plus one tsp fresh grated or chopped ginger
  • juice of ½ a lime

For the sauce:

  • 1 heaping tbsp peanut butter (or almond butter)
  • 1 tsp fish sauce (omit if making vegan)
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar, or apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup coconut aminos (can sub tamari or regular soy sauce), plus more if desired
  • 1/4 cup mild olive oil, or avocado oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or more if preferred
  • juice from the other half of your lime

 

  • Peanuts and additional sliced lime, for garnish

 

Directions

  1. In a mixing bowl, whisk together your nut butter, fish sauce, vinegar, coconut aminos, oil, crushed red pepper, lime juice and the tsp of fresh ginger. Do a taste test – if it’s too sweet (sometimes coconut aminos can be), add more lime, or rice vinegar. Set aside.
  2. Cook your noodles according to instructions. I typically start boiling the water at the same time I do my next step, as the water takes a bit to heat and the noodles vary in cook time. Cook until soft, drain, and set aside, watching to ensure they don’t dry out and get sticky.
  3. Meanwhile, as the noodles boil, in a frying pan with a tsp of your preferred cooking oil, add your onion, carrot and green beans over medium heat. Sauté for 5-6 min, stirring frequently, until starting to brown. Add your ginger, garlic and shrimp (or tofu) and continue to sauté for another 3-4 minutes, stirring, making sure shrimp does not overcook. Once shrimp has turned pink (or your tofu/veggies have browned), Add your noodles into your frying pan. With tongs, gently fold, mixing together.
  4. Next, pour your sauce over the noodles, gently mixing to coat. If your noodles are absorbing the sauce too quickly – no worries! Drizzle a tsp of additional oil in at a time until they’re smooth again. You can also add additional coconut aminos/soy for a punch of flavor.
  5. Gently mix in your chopped cilantro.
  6. Serve in a bowl with peanuts and lime for garnish.

 

Enjoy!

-S

 

 

WHIPPED Coffee, aka “Dalgona” Coffee! (Paleo, Vegan)

Hey y’all!

As it turns out, all I needed was a little globally-enforced R&R to feel rejuvenated and start churning out the recipes again.

I have been seeing a lot of videos and Facebook posts on this whole new “whipped coffee” trend. So… what am I to do with 16 hours of waking time in my house and nothing to do? I’m going to make the darned coffee.

I found out that it’s an Indian/Pakistani tradition and was popular long before these quaran-times…. I don’t know how we never found out about this until now.

No story time here, just going to give it to you straight. This recipe is PALEO! I’m doing my best to still eat healthy, but when there’s little else to do… I’ll eat whatever I’ve got. You can certainly sub this recipe out with regular granulated sugar, but it will definitely be sweeter. I drink my coffee black anyway, so I wanted minimal sweetness. The whole thing was different, I’d definitely try again!

A disclaimer…. This would be SUPER hard without a hand mixer of some sort. I had to whip it for about 5 minutes, and I’m not sure if it was because I didn’t use real sugar, but if you’re doing this by hand, be prepared for a workout!

Oh, and I also don’t recommend putting it in a champagne flute… but I didn’t want to waste any more almond milk than needed, gotta limit my trips to the store!

 

WHIPPED Coffee, aka “Dalgona” Coffee! (Paleo, Vegan)

 

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: n/a

Serves 2

 

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp instant coffee
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar (granulated regular sugar or really any other type will do just fine)
  • 2 tbsp very warm water
  • 8-10 oz piping hot almond milk (or other dairy/non dairy milk), or chilled with ice cubes if preferred

 

Directions

  1. In a mixing bowl, mix together the coffee, sugar and water. Whip until you have semi-stiff peaks, somewhat close to egg whites. Set aside.
  2. Over stovetop or microwave, heat your milk to preferred temperature and pour desired amount into your coffee cup or mug. If using chilled milk, pour over ice cubes into your cup.
  3. Spoon your whipped mix overtop, and 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

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

    Waste Not, Want Not – A modern Guide to Reducing Your Waste

    I was scrolling through Instagram the other day. I scrolled over a former college classmate’s picture, where she had recently been in Italy, and she snapped a photo with those strange, Velcro-hooved-ballerina-goats climbing up a near vertical wall. She talked about how fulfilling it was to travel so light, as she was actually *knitting* her clothes for the subsequent week’s travel. If memory serves me correctly, she was recently in Thailand and wrapped her snacks up in some sort of edible leaf as a baggie as she hiked.

    Ok. Let’s unpack this for a minute.

    My lovely friend has a motivation that I… don’t know that I’ll ever have, ripping leaves off trees to hold my cashews. Also, I don’t know that I’ll ever be in a situation where I need to knit my clothes as I go. Did they teach knitting at PSU?  I know they taught beerbrewing and tennis as extras. Not sure about knitting. Having said that, now more than ever, I think people are starting to ask themselves what we can do to reduce the waste we produce and how we can take small steps to cumulatively make a difference. If you’re out there thinking that you alone can’t impact a major reduction in producing waste, consider these facts (found at EPA.gov):

    • The US generated 262.4MM tons of municipal solid waste in 2015, which averaged nearly 4.5lbs of waste, per person, per day.
    • Paper and paperboard products are the largest % of things discarded, totaling about 25.9% of that
    • 137.7MM tons of waste were landfilled, with food making up  about 22% of that
    • In 2015, 34.5MM tons of plastic products were generated, coming from packaging and other containers

    What can we do about this? To start, there’s a few substitutions you can make around your home that, over time, can greatly reduce these numbers.

     

    Reusable straws

    If you haven’t seen the video of that person pulling a green Starbucks straw out of a sea turtle’s nose, you’re likely not as bothered by the rest of the world. I don’t particularly care about needing to use straws, but I do love the metal straw I bought from a local natural foods grocer a few years ago. For those that think that sipping coffee through a straw helps prevent your teeth from yellowing…. This is also a myth. If you’re not looking to haul around a pointy metal straw, Amazon also sells collapsible straws that fit just about anywhere. Happy sipping!

     

    VEHHE Stainless Steel Straws, 4 Pack – Brush and Storage Bag – $3.99 Amazon

    Collapsible BPA-Free Silicone Folding Straws with Case – 2 pack – $4.99 Amazon

     

    Reusable Shopping Bags

    This is one of the seemingly easy but also difficult things to stick with. Over the years, I’ve accumulated likely two dozen of those reusable bags from Whole Foods that I shove in my pantry, my car trunk, my coat closet. I have fold-up bags I make sure I keep in every purse. This is a habit that’s hard to break, but if you put into perspective how many plastic bags you use when you shop, it really adds up. Here are some of my favorites.

     

    Foldable Reusable Shopping Tote Bags – 10 pack – $14.99 Amazon

     

    Baggu Reusable Bags – 3 pack set, $36 – Baggu.com

     

    Replacement bags for Ziplocs 

    I used to use Ziploc bags for marinating, storing food to go, or bringing snacks to work. I would try to save them and reuse them every few days, but then I couldn’t remember what was in which bag, and it started to get kind of gross. Cue these bags…. They’re BPA free, wash and dry easily, and they don’t take up much space. I love them.

     

    Scouts Silicone Reusable Storage Bags – BPA Free $20.95, set of 4 Amazon

     

    Beeswax Kitchen Wraps 

    I’m in the kitchen a LOT. I often make larger quantities of food than I can eat in a day, so I’m loading up bowls or baking dishes and putting them in the freezer. A few months ago, I started using beeswax wraps for my cold storage. Beeswax is antimicrobial, can be washed with cool water and an eco-friendly dish soap, and can be reused for up to 2 years if cared for properly. I bought my wraps locally from the farmers market, but she has an online store. Other vendors I’ve found are women-owned or Fair Trade certified or tied to another NGO/non profit in support of environmental or humanitarian initiatives.

     

    Bee Our Guest beeswax food wraps – multi-size 3 pack, $20 Etsy

     

    SuperBee Food Wraps – $14.99 and up Amazon

     

    Reusable Keurig Filter

    OK… I boycotted getting a Keurig for a long time – it was easy to blame my non-coffee-drinking ways before, but I was met with an eye roll each time I’d mention that it was insult to injury that something so expensive also produce so much waste. Also, I’m not entirely sure what goes into manufacturing each plastic cup, but I knew I’d be drinking it. Cue this glorious little filter! It’s a BPA-free plastic and is made by Keurig, so you won’t run into any “this is not a real K-Cup so it doesn’t work, sucks to be you” message on your coffee maker. It’s foolproof for people like me who can’t make coffee properly – all you do is scoop roughly 2 tbsp into the pod, plop and brew as normal.

     

    My K-Cup Universal Reusable Pod Coffee Filter – $8.79 – Amazon

     

    There you have it! This is a great start to reducing your waste from your kitchen and every day life. Taking extra steps to reduce, reuse and recycle is a great way to help keep your environment clean, use less resources and reduce your carbon footprint. Cheers!

    -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

    Apple Cinnamon Muffins (Paleo!)

    It’s September!

     

    ‘Tis the season to no longer be ashamed of my basic love for all things PUMPKIN. And carbs. And SWEATERS. Apples! Crunchy leaves to step on when walking my dog! I have to stop here, I’m getting too overwhelmed.

     

    This weekend is the annual Mushroom Festival here in little ol’ Kennett Square. Here, you can find all things mushroom-related: décor, food, games, everything. I’ve been a lifelong spectator of the festival, but I’m extra excited for this year! I didn’t go into too much detail the last time I mentioned it, but I will be competing in the annual Amateur Mushroom Cook-off. This year’s special ingredient is Scaramuzza’s pasta – I will be making sage, pancetta and mushroom gnocchi in a garlic cream sauce. Definitely not paleo, gluten free, dairy free, or anything remotely *healthy*,  but it’s really tasty and I’m excited to make it! My first step to being on the Food Network…. hahaha. But no, really. Someone reading this, help me make that happen.  

     

    After taking a long weekend and having a lot more time to make some recipe ideas for you all, I’ve turned out a LOT of fall stuff. I’m going to make this quick so we can cut to the chase and get on to talking about food. This is a nice variation of something similar I’ve made before, but it’s SUPER easy to make and freeze to save for later. I wrap them individually in foil or wax paper, defrost it overnight and take one on my way to work. These are nice because they stay nice and moist – they pretty much never go stale… they are what my neighbor’s kids refer to as “wet muffins”. It’s innocent because a four-year-old says it, so I’ll stick with it.

     

    Apple Cinnamon Muffins (Paleo!)

    Prep time: 10 min

    Cook time: 25 min

    Makes 12 muffins

     

    Ingredients

    • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
    • 1 fuji or gala apple, core removed – peeled and diced
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1/8 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (unflavored is also fine)
    • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
    • 3 tbsp maple syrup
    • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1 tsp ground allspice
    • 2 cups almond flour
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1/8 tsp ground sea salt

    Directions:

    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease your muffin tin lightly with coconut oil.
    2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until smooth.
    3. Divide batter evenly among cups – the muffin cups should be about ¾ full so they don’t overflow and bake over the sides.
    4. Bake for about 25 minutes until starting to turn golden on top. Check if they are done by sticking a knife or toothpick into a middle muffin – if it’s clean, they’re finished. Let cool, and serve!

    Optional: if you’re feeling extra indulgent, spread a little ghee over them.

    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