the cauliflower bonzana: creamy soup + coconut rice

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You may have noticed that I’ve gotten a little cauliflower crazy around these parts. When gluten and dairy have been violently excised from your diet, one has to find alternatives. You should know that I lived a cauliflower-free life for the greater part of 37 years. It resembled a bleached-bone plant, and somehow I’d always associate the cruciferous vegetable with my mortal enemy, THE MUSHROOM.

KNOW NOW THAT I WILL NEVER CONSUME THE MUSHROOM. EVER.

But I digress. Lately, I’ve found a host of recipes that make inventive use of this veg, so much so that I uttered the phrase, You know you’re an addict when… after I found myself consuming cauliflower twice in one day.

For lunch, I hoovered this super-simple creamy soup. Don’t skimp on roasted cauliflower because it becomes tender and sweet, and melts beautifully when blitzed with coconut milk. My soup reminded me of mashed potatoes, but I’ll take it. Especially if I’m pairing it with homemade chicken tenders, which I dredged in almond meal and coconut flour. (SWOON!)

For dinner, I ran back with open arms to my beloved veggie burgers and paired them with blackened cauliflower rice, which is a fancy way of saying I burned the rice while answering emails. And naturally I played the part of a five-year-old, mashing up her veg burger and mixing it with the rice and getting all giddy and the like.

However, what’s on my mind, aside from the itch that has slightly abated, is the fact that I’ll be in SPAIN in less than a week! If you’ve been to Barcelona, Granada and Seville, please send all your tips.

On to the recipes!

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INGREDIENTS: Creamy Cauliflower Soup Recipe from The Paleo Kitchen, modified slightly
1 large head of cauliflower (2 1/4 lbs) cut into florets
1/4 cup melted coconut oil, divided
1/4 tsp of coarse salt, plus more for taste
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, diced
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
1 can full-fat coconut milk
freshly-ground black pepper, for taste
1/4 halved pecans + 1 tsp olive oil, for garnish

Note: I halved this recipe, since I only had a pound of cauliflower, and it worked beautifully!

DIRECTIONS
Pre-heat the oven to 450F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

Add the cauliflower to a large bowl, drizzle with two tablespoons of coconut oil, and sprinkle in salt. Toss to coat. Arrange the cauliflower in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes, or until tender and brown, stirring once after the 25-minute mark.

Heat the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot on medium heat. Add the onion + garlic and saute for five minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the cauliflower, broth, and water, and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and add the coconut milk, salt and pepper to taste. Blitz to smooth using an immersion blender or a standard blender. Serve in soup bowls with garnish + if you’re up for it, some chicken tenders (dredged in coconut flour + almond meal, flash-fried in a plan for color and finished off in the oven).

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INGREDIENTS: Cauliflower Rice Recipe from The Paleo Kitchen
1 large head of cauliflower (2 1/4 lbs) cut into florets
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/3 cup vegetable broth
Coarse sea salt + black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS
Since I’ve no idea how to use the shredding attachment on my food processor, I used a box grater to mince the florets into rice-sized pieces. It took forever. Note to self: learn how to use the attachments for the food processor.

Heat the coconut oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the cauliflower rice to the pan and stir for 10 seconds, then add the broth and stir until combined. Cover and cook for 5-8 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, mix well, uncovered, for 5 more minutes, stirring every minute or so to prevent the rice from sticking to the pan.

When done, serve with my FAVORITE VEGGIE BURGERS.

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chicken + chickpea green salad with creamy parsley dressing

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Let me tell you about the morning I had. I woke, dragged myself to the shower–can we call a spade a spade and say I limped–to get ready for a spin class I couldn’t cancel, lest I be charged $20. The reason for the geriatric hobble can be attributed to a brutal Core Fusion Extreme class, during which I questioned whether I’d make it out of the class alive. After what felt like a million squats, lunges, TRX planks, box jumps, and tears–oh, the tears, so many of them–I came home, collapsed face-down on the couch and slept the sleep of children.

Then I woke to soreness.

I should say that I lasted one full song during my spin class before I realized I was toast. I called it a day and limped to the market to pick up a pile of veg for my first week off Sakara and into the real world. Some people get bewitched by clothes; I become obsessed with herbs, leaves I’ve never heard of, and in-season vegetables. You should know that my fridge is 80% composed of vegetables in labeled bags (Exhibit A, below). Because this is my life. 80% of a plate covered in veg. Veg at every meal, so I’ve got to make these recipes desirable, sustaining and GOOD.

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I should also confess that I shamefully succumed to the horror that is VEGENAISE. This is a weakness, friends, because in real life I LOATHE MAYONNAISE. Not as much as the WRETCHED MUSHROOM, but my hate is vociferous and real. But yet, I had a hard time recreating the DELICIOUS creamy dressings Sakara sent with my meals, and since getting their recipes is akin to breaking into Fort Knox, I’m left to my own devices.

GWYNETH PALTROW. Listen, people, a woman needs to survive. My beloved pasta, bread, bananas, cheese, turkey, sweet potatoes and a fucking laundry list of food have been stolen from me. I need to adapt. I need to succumb, and I succumbed to the damn cookbook that delivers seriously good recipes. I thought I would hate this creamy parsley dressing when in fact I do not.

I LOVE IT.

This is a HUGE salad, but it will keep you full until dinner, and it’s SO SO healthy and SO SO good.

INGREDIENTS
For the salad
1/2 cup lacinato kale, de-veined roughly chopped
1 cup spinach
1 cup Amaranth leaves
2 radishes, finely sliced
1/2 cup shredded carrots
2 sweet peppers, sliced into thin strips
1/3 can of chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and sauteed in a small pan with 1 tsp of olive oil, salt and pepper for 2-3 minutes

For the chicken
3 pieces of chicken breast tenders (total weight shouldn’t exceed 4oz)
1 large egg
1 cup gluten-free cornmeal
1 tbsp slivered almonds
1 tsp coarse salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp of olive oil

For the creamy parsley dressing: Recipe from Gwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Good
1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup organic Vegenaise
3 tbsp water
½ tsp coarse sea salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

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DIRECTIONS
First, make the chicken. Pre-heat the oven to 400F. I had the luxury of having a whole tub of pre-made chicken tenders I cooked from the previous evening (it pays to prepare!), which I chopped into chunks. However, if you’re just making the chicken now, set up an assembly station: 1 bowl of the beaten egg, 1 bowl of the cornmeal, almond and seasoning, and one oven-ready bowl for cooking the tenders in the oven. Dip each tender into the egg to coat and then toss in the cornmeal mixture. In a medium skillet set to medium, add the olive oil. When the pan is hot, add your tenders, spacing them evenly apart and cook for three minutes a side. Once the tenders have a nice, crunchy coating, transfer them to the oven-safe bowl and cook them in the oven for 5 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, combine all ingredients for the creamy dressing in a blender until completely pureed. Keeps well in a jar with a fitted lid for up to one week, as you’ll only need a tbsp or so for this recipe.

Assemble the items for the salad. Note, this is what I love. Add the veggies that you love–there are endless combinations. I used what I had on hand and what was lovely at the market.

Once the chicken is done, let cool for 5 minutes, chop into chunks, and add the lot to one huge bowl and toss with the dressing.

DIVE IN.

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meat, chicken + fish recipes salad recipes savory recipes

chicken + beef koftas with spinach, pomegranate, dill + cilantro salad

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I love my friend Sarah, really love her. We met while working in book publishing, and bonded over the fact that our offices bookended an editor who believed life was lived by yelling on volume 10. We were bookish, slightly acerbic, women about to publish memoirs, and what started as chit chat amongst office mates turned into a seven-year friendship. Sarah is my people, and we’ll spend horrors watching 70s horror movies, dissecting yoga poses (she’s an ashtanga teacher), and talking about books in the way that writers love to talk about books–obsessively. We’re often oddly in the same orbit; we occupy one other’s headspace, and even today, right as I was about to tell her I discovered Sarah Wilson’s blog, she tells me about a granola she made, and pulls Sarah’s book off her shelf. We laugh as we normally do, and talk about everything and anything over brewed tea.

Your home smells like a yoga studio, I say, distracted by the rows of books on her shelves, a carefully-cultivated collection she and her book agent husband have amassed. And by way of entry, she hands me a mug, gives me a hug and I want to stand there and hold her longer.

Today we talked about a lot of things, in particular, the shape of this blog. It recently occurred to me that I’ve spent so much time creating a beautiful space that I rarely get to enjoy. Over the past few months, I’ve scanned my cookbooks and bake things based on what I have on hand, rather than immersing myself in books as a means to get inspired, to create. There is a difference between the two. It’s like listening only to wait for your turn to speak versus leaning in, breathing, allowing your friend to finish their sentences. I want this space to reflect the things that excite me–albeit a book, recipe, or pretty bauble on my wrist.

To that end, I’ve resolved to not post every day. I’ll post a few times a week, and only with recipes with which I’ve fallen in love. Only when I’m inspired. Only when I’ve got something real to say instead of filling a space with a pretty picture.

I ADORE JANE COXWELL, not only as a person (I’m privileged to know her in real life), but as an arbiter of taste. I admire the way in which she’s able to create a symphony with the recipes she creates. I found this chicken and beef koftas (consider them Middle Eastern meatballs), and was smitten by how much flavor they pack and how they’re slightly more virtuous than their Italian pork, beef and veal counterpart. I fixed the koftas over a simple herbed green salad, and can I say that I am excited to be COOKING WITH DILL?

INGREDIENTS: Recipe from Jane Coxwell’s Fresh Happy Tasty (one of THE best cookbooks I own)
For the chicken + beef koftas: Serves 4
1/2 lb organic ground beef
1/2 lb organic ground free-range chicken
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
zest of 1/2 lemon
3 tbsp chopped red onions (I opted to use one large shallot)
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 egg yolk
Maldon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 oz crumbled feta cheese (I nixed this as I’m going dairy-free)
2 tbsp safflower or grapeseed oil

For the Spinach, Pomegranate, Dill + Cilantro Chopped Salad: Serves 2
2 handfuls of spinach leaves
1 large handful of fresh cilantro leaves
1 handful of fresh dill leaves
1 garlic clove
Agave nectar (I nixed this)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
Maldon salt/Fresh black pepper

For the chicken + beef koftas: Put the beef, chicken, cumin, coriander, cilantro, lemon zest, onion, and garlic in a large bowl and mix well with your hands. Add the egg yolk, a couple of good pinches of salt/pepper to taste and mix again. Add the feta (if using) and gently mix again. Wrap the mixture in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least ten minutes to up two hours.

Pre-heat an oven to 350F.

Remove the meat from the fridge and form into small meatballs. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat until the pan is very hot. Working in batches if necessary (I worked in two batches as I got 12 meatballs out of my batch), add the meatballs to the hot pan and cook on all sides for about 3 minutes total. Ensure they’re brown on all sides. Remove the koftas from the pan and place in a sheet of aluminum foil to form a small parcel. Pop them in the oven for another five minutes to finish them off. Serve hot over the delicious salad!

For the salad: Put the greens and garlic on a cutting board and roughly chop. Transfer to a bowl. Add agave to taste (I’d venture you’d need 1/2 tsp), the olive oil, lemon juice and pomegranate seeds. Season with salt + pepper. Give it a toss with your hands and serve it with the meatballs.

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dairy-free recipes meat, chicken + fish recipes mindful health journey salad recipes savory recipes

lentil salad with chicken + mustard vinaigrette

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Feasting on a different dish is easy when you have oceans of time to spend at home, cooking. Since I don’t lead a Gwyneth Paltrow lifestyle, where one has hours to putter about the house and chop things, my meals have to be simple, yet abundant. Especially for the days when I’m in the office, sitting through back-to-back meetings. One needs nourishment, a meal that has the ability to cut through the length of the day.

I’m on-site with a client three days a week, and typically I’ve vacillated between making bad choices in the company cafeteria–telling myself that I’ll make it up at dinner but I never do–or packing simple, carb-rich lunches. Pasta with bolognese, that sort of thing. Part of what I’m learning is that I can’t just leave things to chance; I’ve got to have a plan and a back-up plan for the day. To that end, I’ve revamped my packing list for the week. Sunday afternoons are now spent making dishes and packing tupperwares with snacks and delicious foods for an easy grab-and-go situation when I’m bleary-eyed in the morning.

This week, I’m packing this delicious lentil salad, which I found in the lovely Sophie Dahl’s cookbook. I’ve punched up the original recipe with some chicken, and I plan to either bring a prepped side salad or soup to round out the veggie mix.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe from Sophie Dahl’s Very Fond of Food (modified slightly)
For the salad
1 1/4 cup/225g French puy lentils
a handful of cherry tomatoes, finely chopped (I nixed the tomatoes)
2 celery sticks, chopped
1 cup/150g feta, crumbled (I opted not to use the feta as I’m off dairy for the month)
a handful of fresh parsley, chopped
1 lb/16oz of chicken breasts, sauteed, + cut into bite-sized chunks
Salt/pepper for seasoning

For the dressing
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped

DIRECTIONS
Place the lentils in a pan, add water to cover and simmer over a low heat for 20 minutes. Drain. In a serving bowl, mix the lentils, tomatoes, celery, cooked chicken, and feta. To make the dressing, whisk all the ingredients together, dress the salad and toss with the parsley.

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meat, chicken + fish recipes mindful health journey salad recipes savory recipes

because it's not pasta: a woman makes homemade beef tacos

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Ever wake one morning and say, This is enough. I’m done with this nonsense? Over the past year I’ve been in this cycle where I keep eating dairy, believing that this intolerance will magically go away, that I’ll suddenly return to a time where I can devour sour cream, cheese, and oceans of milk {granted, I hate milk, but you know what I mean} without feeling as if my life would be better if my stomach were somehow excised from my body. After another night of writhing on the floor as a result of having consumed cheddar, and after another day of lapping up rice pudding — blithely aware of the sickness that will invariably ensue — I decided to just get real with myself and admit that I can’t eat dairy like I used to. There’s no point in making yourself sick just to replicate the person you used to be.

At the same time I confronted a new, burgeoning addiction. This white lady was cruel and taunting, and paired perfectly with the most delicate and richest of sauces, and she did not take well to being abandoned. Recently, I had a long talk with my doctor–who had noticed an uptick in my sugar intake–and while I’m able to speak freely about overcoming my predilection for drugs and alcohol, would you believe me if I told you that I was ASHAMED to tell my doctor that I was addicted to PASTA? That I secretly eat pasta EVERY SINGLE DAY? That I created this bizarre logic that if I had a kale shake it would somehow negate a bowl of white pasta with pesto? I cleaved to this insanity for too long, and last week I woke and said that I’ve got to quit it with the pasta and dairy.

I’m about to give you some real truth here: over the past week I finally don’t look like I’m pregnant. I’m finally sleeping through the night and not waking every three hours. I’m feeling less sluggish and more energized for my workouts. And while I feel the strongest I’ve ever been as a result of making fitness a real part of my life, I also know that my journey to strength, health and mindfulness is not a game of how long I can hold a forearm plank or how low I can squat or how high I could jump, rather it’s a mix of training and being smart about what goes into my body. Treating my body as if it were a house in which I plan to spend my life, and don’t I want this house to be feel like a home? Don’t I deserve to feel good and awake and alive every moment of every day?

This week a friend of mine told me about a woman who nearly fainted in her fitness class. After some probing, the woman revealed that she’d be watching her weight, and as a result, she hadn’t anything to eat for breakfast and only had coffee to drink. No water, no food–just a house in disrepair, a home unkempt. My friend shook her head and said, You need to eat so you have calories to lose.

It’s odd that these two examples of the extremes–a woman who denied herself, and another who consumed to excess–would force me to open my eyes. After careful thought, I plan on committing myself to a diverse, balanced diet coupled with the fitness lifestyle I’ve grown to love. To that end, I’m investing in a few sessions with a nutritionist, who can help me map out a menu of healthy options for the days when I come home late and all I want to do is fall into the couch and fondle my cat. I’ve stocked my fridge and cupboards with healthier snacks, and for the next month I’m eliminating pasta from my diet so I can crack the addiction and introduce it back into my diet slowly, allow for that indulgence to have meaning {homemade lasagna instead of a bowl of limp noodles}.

To that end, I found this delicious taco recipe in Cook’s Illustrated’s {I’m finally a subscriber!} compilation of their best recipes over the past 25 years, and can I just say that this dish is EVERYTHING. It’s filling, homemade, spicy and I feel proud that I’ve finally made a lunch that’s not a photocopy of the dozens that came before. Know that I also plan on a veg variation that will include chickpeas, lentils, and cauliflower. More to come, friends!

INGREDIENTS: Recipe courtesy of Cooks Illustrated
For the beef filling
2 tsp canola or safflower oil
1 small onion, chopped small (about 2/3 cup)
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
1½ tbsp chili powder {the original recipe calls for 2 tbsp. As a result, my tacos were insanely spicy}
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 pound 90 percent lean (or leaner) ground beef
½ cup plain tomato sauce (see note)
½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp vinegar, preferably cider vinegar {I used apple cider, and it as fine}
Salt + pepper to taste

Cook’s Illustrated Note: Tomato sauce is sold in cans in the same aisle that carries canned whole tomatoes. Do not use jarred pasta sauce in its place. We prefer to let diners top their own tacos with whatever fillings they prefer. There’s no need to prepare all of the toppings listed below, but cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes are, in our opinion, essential.

For the shells + toppings: I really veered off the original recipe because I really wanted a simple taco. I peeled + shucked 3 ears of corn and sauteed them in a pan with 2 tsp olive oil until they were charred + brown. I add some cheese + parsley, and it was divine. However, if you want to rock all the fixings, click here for the original recipe.
¾ cup corn, vegetable, or canola oil
8 (6 inch) corn tortillas
4 ounces shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese (1 cup) {I used shredded mozzarella instead}
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley leaves

DIRECTIONS
For the beef filling: Heat oil in medium skillet over medium heat until hot and shimmering but not smoking. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, spices, and ½ teaspoon salt; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add ground beef and cook, breaking meat up with wooden spoon and scraping pan bottom to prevent scorching, until beef is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce, chicken broth, brown sugar, and vinegar; bring to simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently and breaking meat up so that no chunks remain, until liquid has reduced and thickened (mixture should not be completely dry), about 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.

For the taco shells: The taco shells can be fried before you make the filling and rewarmed in a 200-degree oven for about 10 minutes before serving.

Heat oil in 8-inch heavy-bottomed skilled over medium heat to 350 degrees, about 5 minutes (oil should bubble when small piece of tortilla is dropped in; tortilla piece should rise to surface in 2 seconds and be light golden brown in about 1 ½ minutes). Meanwhile, line rimmed baking sheet with double thickness paper towels.

Using tongs to hold tortilla, slip half of tortilla into hot oil. With metal spatula in other hand, keep half of tortilla submerged in oil. Fry until set but not brown, about 30 seconds.

Flip tortilla; hold tortilla open about 2 inches while keeping bottom submerged in oil. Fry until golden brown, about 1 ½ minutes. Flip again and fry other side until golden brown, about 30 seconds.

Transfer shell upside down to prepared baking sheet to drain. Repeat with remaining tortillas, adjusting heat as necessary to keep oil between 350 and 375 degrees.

For assembly: Using a wide, shallow spoon, divide filling evenly among prepared taco shells; place 2 tacos on individual plates. Serve immediately, passing toppings separately.

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meat, chicken + fish recipes savory recipes

brunch for two: lemon chicken + roasted veg salad

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LEMON CHICKEN INGREDIENTS: 2 large {or 4 small} chicken cutlets pounded to 1/2 inch thick | 1 cup whole wheat flour | 1 tsp cracked black pepper +1 tsp sea salt| Zest + juice of one lemon | 1 lemon sliced thin | 2 tbsp butter + 1 tbsp olive oil |

LEMON CHICKEN DIRECTIONS: Mix the salt, pepper, lemon zest, and flour in a large bowl | Dredge the cutlets so both sides are covered | In a large pan melt the butter + olive oil | Add the chicken and lemon juice | Fry for 3-5 minutes per side | Remove the chicken from the pan, and add them to a bed of your roasted veggie salad {I added 2 cups of kale + an additional tbsp of oil to the original recipe} and add the sliced lemon, and fry for a minute on each side until the slices are golden brown | Add the slices and remaining juices to your culets | Serve pipping hot!

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almond crusted chicken

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Lately, I’ve been thinking about my body. Not the shape of it, not the slope of a hip, but I’ve been thinking about my insides. At the same time I read an insipid blog post about a woman who just turned 31, and her greatest lamentation in life was her inability to remain effortlessly bone-thin whilst hoovering chicken fingers at a rapid clip. The post put me to thinking of a girl I knew in college who ate the most horrifying food — arteries clogged or bust was her mantra, as she stewed everything in a vat of margarine — yet remained lithe. Once I joked and said, I may have ten pounds on you but you’ll be dead in thirty years. It was all ha ha, and let’s toss back another drink, but now I think less about the size of my hips and more about the kind of food that’s going in my body.

In 2004, I remember cleaning out my kitchen cabinets and nearly having a stroke after reading all the labels. The foods that I had perceived to be healthy — Nutri-Grain bars, granola cereals — were filled with sugar, preservatives and the evil HFCS. Since then, I’ve eaten clean {as much as I can control}, and lately I’ve been devoting more thought toward sugar, and how I can winnow out simple carbohydrates.

Can I tell you that my weakness, my proverbial Achilles heel, is pasta? Dressed in pesto, baked in bechamel, this white goddess is a predator posing as a house pet, and my doctor told me, in no uncertain terms, that I have to chill. Over the past year, it’s been a battle, especially in those stressful moments, to be mindful of food diversity. Not only do I cook and bake with alternative ingredients {coconut oils, gluten-free flours}, but I’ve made an effort to make simple swaps in my day {protein-packed smoothies versus bagels, apples and palm oil-free almond butters instead of cereal bars}, and I’ve absolved to imbue my diet with lean protein.

While it’s true that I made chicken with a bit of butter, I swapped out the canola oil for coconut {perfection with the almonds} and used a gluten-free panko instead of breadcrumbs, and while I’d normally be eating a second dinner after having pasta, I’m SO FULL, POST CHICKEN.

I invite you to make this recipe because it’s perfect for those nights when you want to face-plant into the nearest cushion, and it’s salvation for those nights when you want to eat pasta out of the pot.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart, with slight modifications, via The Budget Babe
3/4 cup panko {I used the gluten-free kind}
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 large eggs
2 tsp water
2 whole boneless skinless chicken breasts (1 1/2 to 2 pounds), split
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds, broken into pieces
1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp coconut oil

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, season bread crumbs with salt and pepper. Place eggs in a small bowl with 2 teaspoons water, and beat lightly. Dip chicken in egg, wiping away excess with your fingers, and dip in bread-crumb mixture. Dredge until lightly coated. Dip in egg again, and coat thoroughly with almonds.

Heat butter and oil in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Saute chicken until nicely browned, about 3 minutes, and turn over. Cook 1 minute more; then transfer pan to oven, and bake until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.

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one-pot chorizo, spinach + lemon risotto

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Remember risotto? The simply, yet arduous dish that required you to linger? One false move and invariably you’ll end up torching the rice? Remember the dish that gave you an bicep workout? I certainly do, and never did I think that I can shove a pot in the oven and twenty minutes later, voilà!, creamy, satiny arborio rice.

Today, I’m making dinner for two, and I decided on this simple dish from Australian television show host + cookbook author, Janelle Bloom. Her book is chockfull of simple, delicious dishes that don’t require a laundry list of ingredients. Sticky ribs, pizzas, lasagnes, protein-packed salads, and sumptuous sides and divine desserts, Janelle reminds me of the old Ina Garten, before Ina phoned in her recipes. {heaves sigh} I’ll be making quite a few more savory dishes from this book as the dessert section is a tad light, but for now enjoy this easy-peasy one-pot risotto.

Merry Christmas!

INGREDIENTS: Adapted from Janelle Bloom’s Fast Fresh & Fabulous
4 chorizo sausages (approximately 1lb/16oz)
1 shallot, roughly chopped
2 cups (400g) arborio rice, rinsed
4 cups (1qt) chicken stock
1 handful spinach, roughly chopped
2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
zest from one lemon
1/2 cup parmesan (or pecorino romano) cheese
Salt/pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS
Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F. Use a knife to split the sausage casings and peel each chorizo sausage. Discard casings. Roughly chop the sausages and set aside.

Heat the oil in an overproof saucepan (I used a Dutch oven) over medium heat. Add the sausage meat and shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, 4-5 minutes, until lightly golden. Add the rice and stir to coat. Add the stock and bring the mixture to a boil.

Remove the pan from the heat, cover with a tight-fitting lid or foil. Transfer to the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes or until the stock is almost absorbed. Remove from the oven.

Stir in the spinach and parsley. Cover and stand for 1-2 minutes until the spinach has wilted. Stir in the lemon zest and cheese and season with salt + pepper. Serve pipping hot!

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thai beef with basil

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Don’t you love it when you start your day one way, and it ends up falling beautifully into something other? After a string of morning meetings, I met up with my dear friend and business partner, and that long coffee led to me cheering on her son’s performance in a grade school musical (yes, I’m that embarrassing friend who whistles and fist pumps), which led us to a long lunch on my deck.

As my yearnings for pasta have been greater than alcohol, coke, and chocolate combined, I’ve been amassing a trove of recipes that won’t leave me fantasizing about bolognese spilling over hot pots and baked noodles bubbling in Dutch ovens. Much like Dante’s journey through hell, my third day without pasta has all the makings of a Shakespearian drama.

After twenty minutes of sauteeing beef in chilis and garlic, fluffing basmati rice with a fork, and whisking fish and soy sauces with fresh lime juice, I presented my dear friend (and myself) with a rich, filling, DELICIOUS (OMIGOD, I DIDN’T THINK OF PASTA FOR TWO HOURS) meal. Naturally, I blitzed up some kale smoothies, and we spent the afternoon hatching plans for 2014.

If Bon Appetit were a grade school performance, you’d find me in front of the aisle, shaking my shimmy and snapping pics of the glory.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit
2 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 red chiles, thinly sliced, seeded for less heat if desired, divided
1 pound ground beef
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
3 cups fresh basil leaves, divided
2 medium carrots, julienned or coarsely grated
2 scallions, thinly sliced
4 tbsp fresh lime juice, divided
2 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
1 tsp sugar
Steamed rice and lime wedges (for serving)

DIRECTIONS
Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add garlic and 1 chile and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add beef, season with salt and pepper, and cook, breaking up with a spoon and pressing down firmly to help brown, until cooked through and nicely crisped in spots, 8–10 minutes.

Add broth and 2 cups basil and cook, stirring, until basil is wilted, about 2 minutes.

Toss carrots, scallions, 1 Tbsp. lime juice, and remaining chile, 1 cup basil leaves, and 1 Tbsp. oil in a small bowl.

Mix soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, and remaining 3 Tbsp. lime juice in another small bowl until sugar dissolves.

Top rice with beef and slaw and drizzle with soy dressing. Serve lime wedges alongside for squeezing over.

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meat, chicken + fish recipes savory recipes

file under wow the crowd: one tray italian bake

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Today I woke to a signed consulting contract and a slew of wonderful emails from old friends and new. I celebrated by toasting a crumb cake and coffee with my business partner as we made our plans for the week. Already the week is off to a magical start, and I plan to design each day and live through it, ferociously.

Speaking of ferocity, this one-pan wonder was a ceremonious HIT at last night’s dinner soiree. I had the boys over, and not only did they love the simplicity of the dish (juicy chicken and tender sausage — hello!), I fixed some millet with sundried tomatoes, olive oil and a touch of cheese, and started off our dinner with a fresh berry salad spritzed with lemon.

Naturally, we closed our meals with chocolate and conversation. If you’re looking for a simple dish that will elicit awe, trust me on this. TRUST.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Nigellissima, with modifications.
3 large Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 lb of chicken*
1 lb of sweet Italian sausages
6-7 sprigs rosemary
Zest of one lemon
1 tsp kosher salt
Ground pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

Notes in the margins: You can use a mix of thigh, legs + breast, however, ensure that the meat is on the bone. Do not use skinless, boneless chicken breasts unless you want a dry piece of chicken. For my guests, I opted for three breasts on the bone and they cooked wonderfully. Also, don’t use a deep, high rise shallow pan. Initially, I was going to use my turkey roasting pan, however, the chicken wouldn’t crisp up, and the texture will end up rubbery and soggy. Instead, I used a baking dish lined with tin foil and it did the job beautifully.

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 425F. Place the diced potatoes into a sheet pan or large, shallow roasting pan and add the chicken and sausages.

Arrange 4 sprigs of rosemary among the chicken and sausages, then finely chop the needles of another two sprigs to give you 2 teaspoons of finely chopped rosemary, and sprinkle those on as well.

Zest the lemon over everything, and season with salt and pepper.

Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until chicken skin and sausages are golden and potatoes pieces are cooked through. Let stand at least 5 minutes after cooking, and you can let it stand for up to 30 minutes before serving.

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meat, chicken + fish recipes savory recipes