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Butternut squash has fall written all over it and nothing is more comforting than a warm cup of soup in this cold weather. I love butternut squash; mashed, sauteed with some sage and butter, baked in the oven with some olive oil, I might even try it in this pumpkin pie recipe. My favorite, though, is: butternut squash soup. You can add a whole bunch of vegetables to it and blend the whole thing in a food processor, and you’ve got yourself a really good cup of soup.

The trouble with soup is that it needs croutons. Yes, it’s very hard for me to eat soup without some crunch in it. So I decided to pair this soup with some roasted chestnuts, which turned out really nicely. I love the combination of flavors and the texture the chestnuts add to the soup.

Here’s what I gathered to make the soup:

  • 1 butternut squash, about 11/2 lbs
  • 1-2 Tblspn butter or olive oil or a combination of both
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 Carrots, chopped into very small pieces
  • 1/2-3/4 coconut milk
  • 1/2-1 tsppn dried thyme (you can also use fresh)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 cups water (you might need more) or chicken broth
  • 1/4 lb chestnuts
  • Fresh sage leaves (optional) for garnish.
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1-Peel the squash with a vegetable peeler, cut it in half, then into small cubes. Preheat the oven to 400˚. Make small cuts into the chestnuts with a pairing knife (this is very important so they don’t explode while cooking) and roast in the oven for about 25 minutes or until they open up.

2- Heat up the butter and oil, add the chopped onions and sautee until softened.

3- Add the chopped garlic, celery, butternut squash, half of the carrots, bay leaf, thyme, salt, and pepper.

4- Stir everything together then add water or chicken broth.

5- Bring everything to a boil then lower the heat to simmer. Cover the pot and let cook until the vegetables are nice and soft.

6- Once the vegetables are cooked, about 20-30 minutes, put all the ingredients in a food processor or a blender (I used a blender), blend until it’s very smooth and creamy. You might need to do that in 2 or 3 batches to puree the whole thing.

7- Transfer the soup back to the pot, adjust the seasoning. Add more thyme if you want. Then add the coconut milk and the rest of the carrots, let it simmer for few more minutes until the carrots are soft. Peel and chop the chestnuts.

8- Serve with some chestnuts and fried sage.

Few weeks ago, my lovely neighbors, Ben and Alisa, came over for dinner, but they sure did not come empty handed, they brought dinner with them! (hey, I made dessert) Alisa made the most delicious chicken from The New Basics cookbook. The chicken was juicy, the sweet flavors of the dates combined with the tang of the lemons and olives rendered a well balanced, yummy dish that left us and our bellies very happy and thankful for our wonderful neighbors and friends :-)

I made the chicken the other day and again, the recipe did not disappoint. Here’s what you’ll need to serve about 4 “healthy” people:

Spice Mixture

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 TB extra virgin olive oil (you can also use ghee)
  • 11/2 tspn ground cumin
  • 1 tspn ground ginger
  • 1 tspn kosher salt
  • 1/2 tspn ground turmeric
  • 1 tspn paprika
  • 1/2 tspn ground cinnamon
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 4 chicken legs, rinsed well, patted dry drumsticks and thighs, separated (I used a whole cut up chicken)
  • 1 preserved lemon (you can also use a fresh lemon)
  • 1 cup mixed Greek olives, pitted
  • 10 dried dates, pitted and halved lengthwise

Directions:

  1. Combine all the ingredients for the spice mixture in a large bowl. Add the chicken pieces and coat them well with the mixture. Let the chicken stand, loosely covered for an hour (or more)
  2. Place a deep heavy skillet over medium heat, and add the chicken, skin side down. Cover and cook for 20 minutes (the chicken will cook in its own juices).
  3. Meanwhile, discard the preserved lemon pulp, and cut the peel crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick strips.
  4. Turn the chicken pieces over, and sprinkle them with the lemon peel, olives, and dates. Cover, and cook another 20 minutes, adding a small amount of water or broth if the mixture is too dry. Serve immediately.

Here’s a picture of the dessert in case you’re curious.

I haven’t been paying any attention to updating this blog at all since I moved from Wordpress! I’m still trying to figure it all out. I’m back though with a wonderful gluten-free and Paleo Apple Streusel muffins. After searching the web for some recipes, I found this and also this one from one of my favorite Paleo cookbooks. I came up with a variation of the first one and we all loved it. It’s also been tested by my wonderful neighbor and Paleo enthusiast, Alisa, thank you for taking the time and tasting all my mishaps in the kitchen. I promise one of those days, I’ll stop force-feeding you!

Here’s what I finally gathered to make the muffins:

  • 1 cup Almond meal (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 3 Tbspn Coconut flour
  • 2 Tbspn Maple Syrup
  • 1/2 tspn salt
  • 1 tspn Baking Soda
  • 2 tspn cinnamon
  • 1/2 tspn Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 coconut oil or butter
  • 1 tspn Vanilla extract
  • 1 large Granny Smith apple, cored, peeled and cubed into small cubes

For the Streusel topping:

  • 3/4 c Almond meal
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 2 tspn cinnamon
  • 2 Tbspn Coconut Sugar
  • 2 Tbspn Cold butter (you might need a little more)

Steps:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F and line a muffin pan with paper muffin cups.
  2. Combine the almond meal, coconut flour, salt, cinnamon,  and baking soda into a medium sized mixing bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs, the melted coconut oil, and the vinegar. Add the vanilla extract.
  4. Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until well incorporated, do not over mix. Add in the chopped apple and scoop the mixture into the muffin pan. You should end up with 10-12 muffins(I used a 1/4 to fill the muffin pan)
  5. In a food processor, combine the walnuts, almond meal, cinnamon, and coconut sugar. Pulse it a few times until incorporated then add the cold butter, you should end up with a crumbly consistency.
  6. Scoop the streusel on the muffins and bake for 20-25 min.

Let me know how it comes out!

One of my go-to weeknight dinners is: stew. I love how easy everything comes together, and you end up with a wholesome, delicious, one pot meal. My only problem with stew is its very name! It doesn’t sound very exciting so I’d like to shake things up a little and give my stew names like: braised lamb with vegetables, lamb Tagine..etc. You get the idea; give your dinner an exciting name and you’ll look forward to eating and cooking it . I feel once I add the word braised, sauteed, or seared, all of a sudden, my family has a deeper appreciation of the time I spend in the kitchen.

Moving on to the “tagine”, I follow the exact same procedure with any type of meat whether it’s lamb, beef or chicken. In this recipe, I used lamb necks. I ordered the meat from Whole Earth meats (will tell you later about their amazing meats )with the intention of making broth but changed my mind, and I’m glad I did.

Here’s what I did:

I used a Moroccan Spice blend from World market , dusted it on the lamb pieces. I browned the lamb on all sides in a heated dutch oven with a tablespoon of butter .

I took the meat out then added a chopped onion, some smashed garlic, carrots, butternut squash, and celery and gave it a nice stir. You can also throw in a bay leaf and a cinnamon stick.

I returned the meat to the pot and opened a can of diced tomatoes, threw in some prunes and a little broth and put everything in 300F oven for about 2 hours.

You’ll end up with the yummiest, most succulent meat!

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Here’s a delicious recipe from my very special friend, Sumiya, a.k.a the dessert queen :) I love Sumiya’s food, especially her desserts. She puts on such great presentation that it’s very hard not to go for seconds (and thirds). She’s also an amazing party planner, she threw my graduation party! And it was Moroccan themed, y’all! With amazing food, tea, and tagine favors! She had some other amazing ladies give her a hand, too. My CT friends are awesome like that. So many lovely memories:))

Here’s what Sumiya told me about this recipe, “Here is a recipe for your blog, I thought it would be appropriate for Paleo enthusiasts since its flour free (except for a tiny amount).” So yes, you can certainly try variations with almond or coconut flour, coconut sugar or even maple syrup. I’m telling you this recipe is yummy and gorgeous. A simple, yet impressive, dessert to bring to a potluck, a dinner party, or share with your neighbors during this holiday season!

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Adapted from recipe on Cooking.com
Makes 10 servings

The crust for this tart is chewy like a giant almond macaroon, and the
filling is like a raspberry-flavored chocolate truffle.

INGREDIENTS
For the Crust:
All-purpose flour
1 cups whole almonds (about 5 ounces), toasted
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, beaten to blend
1/4 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract

For the Filling:
1 12-ounce package frozen unsweetened raspberries, thawed, strained
3 tablespoons seedless raspberry preserves
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon honey
2 1/2-pints baskets (about) fresh raspberries (or other berries)

Garnish: Shredded coconut (optional)

DIRECTIONS
FOR THE CRUST:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom with heavy-duty foil,
pressing foil into scalloped sides of pan. Grease foil and dust with flour.
Finely grind almonds, sugar, cinnamon and salt in food processor. Add half
of beaten egg (about 1 1/2 tablespoons; reserve remaining egg for another
use) and extract and blend until dough holds together. Using moistened
fingertips, press dough over bottom and up sides of prepared pan.

Bake crust 10 minutes. Wrap fingertips with paper towels and gently, but
quickly, press puffed crust to original shape. Continue to bake crust until
pale golden, about 3 minutes longer. Again, gently press crust to original
shape. Cool crust completely (crust will crisp as it cools). Turn crust out
of pan and carefully peel off foil. Return crust to pan.

FOR THE FILLING:
Puree thawed raspberries in food processor until smooth. Brush bottom of
crust with 1 tablespoon preserves. Melt butter  in heavy medium saucepan
over medium-low heat. Add chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth.
Remove pan from heat; whisk in 2/3 cup raspberry puree and honey. Pour
chocolate filling into crust; smooth top. Refrigerate tart until filling is
firm, at least 3 hours.

Brush filling with 1 tablespoon preserves. Arrange enough berries, side by
side, atop filling to cover completely, pressing berries lightly into
preserves to anchor. If desired, stir remaining 1 tablespoon preserves in
small saucepan over low heat until melted. Brush tops of berries with warm
preserves to glaze. Sprinkle shredded coconut over berries as garnish if
desired. Refrigerate tart uncovered up to 8 hours before serving.

DO-AHEAD TIP:
Tart can be prepared 3 days ahead before decorated with fresh raspberries.
Cover and keep refrigerated.

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I love all types and varieties of sweet potatoes. They’re all yummy and have been a great way to incorporate better, smarter carbohydrates into my diet. My typical breakfast consists of eggs, some greens, and sweet potatoes or yams (mashed, hashed, or baked)

I’ve been playing with this recipe for a while. I’ve tried it with yams, experimented with different types of herbs. You really can’t go wrong with it.  You can use any veggies you like as well, I love zucchini fritters with dill and a little Parmesan cheese (if dairy is not an issue), also cauliflower is great when steamed, mashed into chunks and cooked as a pancake! Whatever veggies you try, let me know in the comments what you come up with.

These are very easy and my kids love anything that looks like a pancake! You can have these for breakfast with some fried eggs, lunch or dinner.

Yields: About 15-18, 2 inch fritters.

Ingredients*:

  • 1 large Sweet Potato (white)
  • 2 carrots
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder, cumin, paprika, garam masala.
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon, red pepper flakes, turmeric.
  • 1 Tbsp Coconut flour
  • 1 Tbsp Madras Curry (or any curry variety)
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2-4 Tbsp Coconut oil, for frying
  • Mango Chutney, for dipping (optional)

Directions:

  1. Peel the sweet potato and carrots cut into chunks. In a food processor with the grater attachment, grate the vegetables and put them in a big mixing bowl.
  2. Add all the spices, coconut flour, salt and pepper to the vegetables and stir very well.Image
  3. Mix in the eggs very well. Use your clean hands to get all the carrots and the sweet potato well coated with the egg mixture. Your mixture should be sort of wet. If it’s dry, let it sit for 10 minutes, it should be wet and ready to be fried. Prepare a cast iron or a non-stick pan with 1-2 Tbs coconut oil on medium heat until hot.Image
  4. Using a 1/4 size measuring cup or an ice-cream scooper, scoop the mixture and press it well with a wooden spoon or a spatula then flip it into your prepared pan on medium heat. The fritters will need 3-5 minutes on each side depending on your stove.ImageImage
  5. Using a spatula or a wooden spoon, flatten the fritters a little so they cook evenly. Don’t flip the fritters until they’re evenly browned.
  6. Serve with chutney. ImageImage

* You can increase the spices I used depending on your taste preferences. I increase or decrease the spices in most of my recipes depending on how I feel :-) Hope you enjoy this recipe!

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Here’s a fast and easy Friday night dinner for ya. I got the idea from Melissa Clarke’s chili nachos.  I used whatever meat I had on hand and followed her recipe with a few adjustments.

 

Here’s what I gathered to make this yummy dish:

·      1 bag of Trader Joe’s Sweet Potato chips

·      ½ lb ground beef

·      ½ lb ground turkey

·      Homemade guacamole

·      Cheddar cheese

·      TJ Chipotle salsa

·      Sour cream (optional)

·      Cilantro

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After the meat was cooked, I assembled the dish:

1.     Spread the chips on a large baking sheet

2.     Top with the meat

3.     Spread about ½ c of cheese then put under the broiler for about 60 seconds (don’t burn the chips, I almost burned mine)

4.     Dress your nachos with whatever you please: guacamole, salsa, shredded lettuce, sour cream (if using), and of course, the huge flavor booster: cilantro!

I think Sandra Lee would definitely be proud of my semi-homemade creation!

Enjoy!

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I first came across this recipe while browsing through my new favorite food website nomnompaleo. Yes, I’m trying to eat a Paleo diet..more on that later! If you like Brussel Sprouts, then you’ll love this recipe. They make a great crunchy healthy snack! Well, I’m sold! I’m starting to make them every time I buy brussel sprouts, which has been a lot recently. My son is in love with brussel sprouts, I mean he begs for them when we’re at the grocery store…I know, right? And what mom in her right mind would say no to such request!

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of Brussels sprouts
  • 1-2 tblspns of melted butter, coconut oil, or olive oil.
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A pinch Cumin and/or paprika

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350˚
  2. Peel the outer leaves off the Brussels Sprouts.
  3. Combine the leaves, oil, salt, pepper, and spices (if using) in a big bowl, and mix with hands until well incorporated.
  4. Spread on baking sheet lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper and bake for 9-11 minutes. Check on them occasionally so they don’t burn.

Enjoy!