Easy Overnight Pickles! (Paleo, Vegan, GF… everything!)

Hello, hello!

Crazy to think some people are bracing for more snow… I am so glad we have some warmer weather coming up, which hopefully is here to stay. Spring is soon!

…which leads me to my complaining. Did anyone else have a particularly difficult time with adjusting to the time change? I’m not sure what it was, but I am still waking up confused, and confused that it’s dark out when I’m leaving for work. It’s like I  turn around when I’m home, and suddenly it’s time to go to bed. It doesn’t help that I just recently got back into Grey’s Anatomy, and now I feel like I need to watch two episodes at night and stay up even later, while feeling like I am waking up earlier. That aside, this Saturday is St. Patrick’s Day! I think I’m in the mood to cook some green things, Irish dishes… and drink beer. definitely on the agenda.

How is everyone’s March going? I hope you’re remembering to really act on your intentions and take action on what you want to see start happening. The time is now 🙂

In the meantime, why not make some pickles? These are the best addition to a good sandwich, burger, or to just eat out of a jar. You can doctor them up how you like, but this recipe is a great starting point for a basic pickle.

Easy Overnight Pickles! (Paleo, Vegan, GF… everything!)

prep time: 20 min

cook time: ~10 min

makes about 2 15 oz jar of pickles

Ingredients

  • 6 small cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • 1 small handful of dill, large stems removed
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • pinch of black pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Place cucumbers and dill in each mason jar (or one, if you’re using a large one).
  2. In a saucepan, add all other ingredients and whisk together. Bring to a boil, and remove from heat, allowing to cool for a few minutes before adding to the jars.
  3. Once the mixture has sat for 2-3 minutes, pour over the cucumbers. Leave the top off to allow to cool almost to room temperature before refrigerating overnight.
  4. Optional: Add 1 tsp cayenne and 1/2 tsp chipotle powder for spicy pickles. Shake to mix thoroughly before placing in the fridge.

Enjoy!

-S

Rosemary Garlic Mashed Potatoes (Paleo)

Everyone has a weakness… my biggest one happens to be food. Carbs, actually. Salty, starchy carbs.

Let’s cut to the chase… it’s potatoes. Potatoes make my world go ‘round.

I love them in literally any form. Chips, friends, mashed, baked, grilled, roasted, sliced, tater tots, latkes, in a soup… everything. I was dared to eat a potato raw, once. While I probably wouldn’t do it again, I definitely remember there being zero hesitation when I tried it the first time.

Over the years, I’ve become what I consider to be a mashed potato connoisseur. I love Thanksgiving and the fact that my family typically supplies ~10 lbs of mashed potatoes each year because they know I just need potatoes in my life. If I get married, I will be having a mashed potato bar. While I’ll never pass up a good heap of potahtoes, some just stand out better than others.

I’ve made Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, and they ended up fine. But let’s be honest, here… who wants potatoes that are *just* fine? I don’t like shortcuts, and I don’t want potatoes that are just “meh”. I like what I like, and that’s just what I like. I’ll only make mashed potatoes a certain way.

There’s something to be said about staying true to your preferences and quirks. So long as they don’t harm anyone, intentionally hurt anyone or impact your quality of life, let your inner weirdo out. Personally, I’m incredibly particular – I like things in a certain order, I prefer to eat things a certain way, I like to make things a certain way. Is it weird? Well, no, I’m sure there are more eyebrow-raising things out there I could be doing, but it’s definitely a noticeable “ism” that I have. These could be anything; physical, intellectual, spatial… anything that doesn’t sit right with you, on you or for you — it’s important to at least make an effort to understand why you’re wired that way, or why something drives you like it does.

With me — and food being most important — I keep my basics the same and rarely stray. All my best mashed potato recipes are made with red potatoes, skin on. I tell myself it adds some vitamins. For holidays, I do add full dairy to my potatoes, but I try to keep that as a treat. As for any other day, I try to limit that as much as possible. Don’t be afraid to add some herbs and spices to your potatoes! Fortunately, since potatoes are so starchy, they’re forgiving if you’re heavy handed. There’s different schools of thought with whether or not ghee fits into a paleo diet, and honestly, if you’re buying high-quality ghee, all the milk proteins, lactose and casein are removed (which by definition, is paleo)

Try these, and experiment with your flavor combos…. and remember, garlic is never wrong.

 

Rosemary Garlic Mashed Potatoes

fullsizeoutput_3f3

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 30 min

Serves 6-8

 

Ingredients

  • 8-10 medium sized red potatoes, washed/scrubbed
  • 2 cups unsweetened/unflavored almond milk
  • 1/3 cup high-quality ghee, or non-dairy butter alternative (if dairy-free)
  • 1 tbsp salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp pepper
  • 1 clove of garlic, pressed or very finely minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • pinch of paprika
  • 1 tbsp of fresh parsley, finely chopped

Directions

  1. Place potatoes in a large stockpot, just covering with water. Bring to a boil and cover. Allow to boil for 20-30 minutes, or until fork-tender.
  2. Drain potatoes and place back into the stockpot. Add ghee, almond milk, salt, pepper, paprika  and garlic. With a hand-masher or mixer, mash potatoes until no large chunks are left and potatoes start to take a smooth, creamy texture. Add additional almond milk as necessary, if potatoes are too stiff.
  3. Turn stove heat back to low, ensuring potatoes are stirred and don’t burn. Add rosemary and parsley and continue to stir thoroughly. If additional salt is needed, add as well. Serve, and enjoy!

**Pro-Tip!** If making mashed potatoes as part of a larger meal, you can make them first and keep them warm for a long time as you continue to cook. Place a large flat-bottomed steel mixing bowl on the stove, and place your stockpot within the bowl. Fill the bowl with just enough water to cover most of the content within your stockpot. Allow water to warm over medium high heat, which will keep the stockpot hot, then turn to low/simmer. Make sure you’re still checking what’s in the pot occasionally so it doesn’t burn! and a CAUTION: allow water within the bowl to cool prior to removing from stove, as bowl and water will remain hot for a while.

Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms (Vegan, Paleo)

What an interesting few days. Interesting in that “Gosh, this doesn’t seem right” kind of way, but I wish it was interesting in a more upbeat kind of way.  It’s the start of Fall, for cryin’ out loud! Still…. I was angry yesterday. I woke up angry on Saturday, too. The more I think of it, I woke up angry pretty much every day this week. I thought to myself, this is not a good look. Stop it.

But instead of figuring out why I was angry in the first place, I just told myself to get over it and keep going about my day. Well, here’s the problem. Anger is a crazy, blood thirsty demon beast thing. It can escalate, quickly, like a volcano erupting with no notice. What’s left in the wake of anger often times isn’t pleasant. I found this out when a man cut me off in traffic on my way to work last week. And let me tell you. Do not try this at home.

I’m driving through a somewhat-congested city block, and a man cuts me off in traffic, across 2 lanes, to come to a stop in a turning lane. Angry still, I somehow manage to internalize my rage after a morning filled with dog-mess, forgetting my breakfast, forgetting my lunch, and realizing I also desperately need gas in my car but no time to get it.

This man decided it was rightly time to roll his window down, and to yell at me about not letting him immediately cross 2 lanes of traffic when he needed to get somewhere. After about 10 seconds (maybe 3 seconds) of ignoring him, I roll my window down, ask if he really wants to get where he’s going or if he wants to, throw in a few fun expletives, show some She-Rage, and the man promptly rolls his window back up, looking bewildered and surprised. He drives off immediately. I pause, and cry as I enter the parking garage, riddled with guilt for yelling at a stranger.

Now, before anyone tells me that this person could’ve been a psycho and I shouldn’t have indulged, that’s the very point of anger. It’s not waiting for you to use your manners, be reasonable, or to think it out before acting. It’s a primal emotion that comes from a source that needs to be acknowledged. If you ignore it for too long, it will bite you.

However, there’s always a silver lining. Anger is just the root of something we feel about ourselves, even if the anger is aimed elsewhere. Chances are, if you’ve reached the point where something seemingly small angers you, you’ve just uncovered your next lesson on what you need to heal, what you need to work on and where you need to focus your strength on.

You could be harboring beliefs that are actually undermining you, or you could be weighing yourself down with things that, while they seem good for now, they really aren’t helping you move forward. This could be a toxic friend, a well-paying but depressing job, or even just a temporary change of scenery to gain some clarity.

The thing about anger is that it’s everywhere, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Anger should never justify violence towards someone, or other harm, but the sentiment itself should not be shamed. We see it everywhere – an angered animal defending its safety, mother nature wreaking havoc on countries that needed a leg up to begin with. it’s truly a part of everything in this world. However – if you can turn it around and take one lesson away from the pain, your anger will start to diminish and show up less and less. Let it out, and make no room for it to come back by filling that space with happiness. Sounds hard, but it’s as easy as saying no to a pushy friend, stopping yourself from your negative thoughts, or taking a walk and thinking about what to do differently next time.

Give it some thought!

 

Paleo/Vegan Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

fullsizeoutput_3b7

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 large portabella mushrooms, washed, stems and gills removed
  • 8 oz vegan cream cheese, softened (can use regular cream cheese if not dairy-free)
  • 16 oz frozen cut leaf spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped artichoke hearts
  • 1/2 tsp Himalayan sea salt, or more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • ¼ cup gluten-free Italian breadcrumbs
  • 2/3 cup vegan parmesan, or more to taste
  • *optional* 2/3 cup finely shredded fresh parmesan, or more to taste (for non-dairy-free friends)
*note* I used real parmesan on top of them because we had a wedge of it on hand – real cheese is pictured above

Directions:

  1. Brush the cleaned mushrooms with olive oil on both sides and place on baking pan in middle of the oven. Broil on high for 5 minutes each side, or until tender.
  2. Once removed from the oven, drain the liquid from them, place back on a parchment lined cookie sheet stem side up, and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Turn oven down to bake at 375 degrees F.
  3. In a frying pan, sauté the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent and starting to brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, mix together the cream cheese, spinach, artichoke hearts, onion, garlic, salt, olive oil, bread crumbs and red pepper flakes. Taste, and add salt or pepper if needed. Remember – the mushrooms absorb a lot of the sodium from the mixture – it’s ok to add a pinch more of spices! If the mixture has too much moisture, add more breadcrumbs 1 tbsp at a time. If it’s too dry, add a tsp of olive oil until mixture has a good consistency.
  5. Using a spoon, place approximately half a cup of spinach mixture into each mushroom, pressing it down to make sure it fills the entire cap. If any mixture is leftover, distribute evenly among the mushrooms.
  6. Sprinkle each mushroom with your preferred parmesan. At this point… the more, the merrier.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until filling is bubbling and starts to brown.

Enjoy!

-S

 

Back to Basics… Garlic Parmesan Orzo

fullsizeoutput_254.jpeg

I’m really not a pasta person. Orzo though, let’s talk about that for a moment. Those cute little flat jawnies are really adorable, honestly. Not too starchy, and they mix well with other ingredients to make a flavorful side dish. I’ve got a  ton of orzo recipes, but this weekend I was in need of a basic side that wouldn’t overpower our main dish (which I will be sharing soon!), and this is my go-to. While this is definitely not paleo, it’s a favorite of mine that I want to share with you all.

I’ve been running around a lot recently, doing my normal routine… you know, over-booking myself, trying to re-create the wheel for no reason, wasting time doing things I know can be done by others… pretty run-of-the-mill for me. As I was scrambling to make this dinner that had so many steps and parts to it, I realized I didn’t leave a lot of  time to make a hearty side dish that would feed all of the people eating dinner. Not only did I not have the brain power left to think of something in 15 seconds, I didn’t want it to be crazy strong in flavor and compete with my chicken. This is where one of my essentials comes in: a basic, yet tasty, side dish with orzo.

I always keep a big jar of it on hand because it’s quick and easy, but there’s so much else you can do with it. This little side dish only took about 20 min total to finish, and it has all of my favorite things…. Garlic, garlic…. And a smidge (a heap, really) of Parmesan. (Note: Vegan parmesan can be substituted, but since it isn’t actually dairy-based, it won’t melt the same way. This could be remedied with adding a bit more olive oil, but you want to be careful that you don’t end up with “greasy” orzo.)

I love adding fresh Parsley from my little herb boxes on my balcony (that I now realize I’ve neglected in this heat…. Hope they aren’t upstairs all sad and crunchy L), which really adds to the colors in the dish. Orzo keeps well in the fridge too, and I love throwing it in a pan with some chicken the next day to make a little stir-fry.

Case in point – sometimes it’s just not worth trying to make things complicated. Going the simple route, which can be the easy route, is hard for some people, including myself. This is not just limited to cooking, but can also be your job, your friends, your relationship, or your education. We’ve been trained to believe that “if it’s easy, it isn’t worth it, and if it’s worth it, it isn’t easy.” While that definitely holds true for some things, why go through your life thinking that this mantra applies to everything?

Here’s some homework. Aside from making this simple little orzo dish, I want you to take one thing you do daily or weekly, and re-evaluate it. Can it be done more easily, or can it be done differently so that you enjoy it? Are you stuck doing it because it’s a habit; does it actually serve you? If you can simplify one thing, no matter how small, you’re on the right track. Literally, there is nothing to small. Personally, I switched to a pencil eyeliner this summer, because it’s too hot to stand there and use my liquid eye liner. I don’t want my wings to melt off the side of my eyes in this 95 degree heat, I don’t feel like standing there waiting for it to dry… small victory, but a victory no less.

Garlic Parmesan Orzo

Serves 6-8

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups orzo
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 2  gloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
  • ½ cup grated or shredded good quality Parmesan
  • ~1/2 to 1 tsp salt, to taste. Start with a ½, and continue to add if more is needed
  • ½ tsp black pepper

Directions

  1. In a large frying pan, add 1 tbsp olive oil and onion. Sauté the onion for about 3-4 minutes on medium heat, until it starts to brown. Add garlic and orzo and a pinch of salt, cooking for another 3-4 minutes until slightly browned (but not burnt!).
  2. Add chicken broth, and bring to a boil. Turn to low and cover, allowing to simmer for about 15 minutes. I never ignore the pan though – I’ve found that different brands of orzo take different times to absorb, so more water may be needed. The orzo should be al dente; not chewy, but not super mushy. If you find it’s done but you still have too much moisture, turn the heat back up to medium, sautéing and stirring with the lid off until most of the liquid burns off…. Then put back down to low heat.
  3. Add parsley, salt and pepper – stir to combine. If you used low-sodium broth, you may need to continue adding salt until you get some flavor. Always start with less, so that you don’t over salt 🙂
  4. Right before serving, add Parmesan, stirring throughout to ensure consistency. Optional: Add some fresh parsley to garnish.

Enjoy!

-S