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

    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

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

    We’re in a heat wave. 

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

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

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

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

    Prep time: 10 min

    Cook time: n/a

    Makes ~1 cup

    Ingredients

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

    Directions

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

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

     

    Enjoy!

    -S

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Prep time: 15 min

    Cook time: n/a

     

    Ingredients

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

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

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

     

    Directions

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

    -S