The other night, after an-I-walked-three-miles-in-three-inch-heels, 14 hour kind of work day, I was fighting the urge to get takeout. Takeout was made for these kind of days. Takeout on Whole30 is Chipotle and since we don’t live in the suburbs, I knew that I could cook something faster than I could drive to grab a carnitas bowl and the thought of having to put on shoes again brought tears to my eyes.
I looked at the week’s menu and decided I “deserved” something tastier than lettuce wrapped tacos (yeah, I get that’s a mental food habit that I need to break – I’m doing Whole30, stop lecturing me).
But something magical happened in my oh-so-tired brain and a culinary genius idea was birthed. World, may I introduce to you:
Loaded Potachos (serves 2)
2 Large russet potatoes (sliced SUPER thin – if you have a mandoline, use it)
1lb Meat of choice (pictured here carnitas)
Homemade taco seasoning (I used to use a recipe, but now, I just throw in some chili, cumin, oregano, paprika, cayenne, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper and we have a party)
Whatever toppings you fancy. I went with: chopped romaine, red onion, cilantro, green onion, Cholula hot sauce, and of course, guacamole.
Let’s get to business:
Preheat oven to 425 while you chop all the veggies. Place thinly sliced potatoes on a pan, brush with olive oil, and sprinkle with cracked sea salt. Bake for 15-16 minutes, turning once.
While potatoes are baking, cook the meat and add taco seasoning. And then make your guacamole. Guac isn’t an optional topping on these. Guac should never be optional.
When the potatoes are done, plate them and load them up. Go ahead and get a fork proactively. No need to get up again.
Y’all this is simple and so tasty. It was far better (and quicker) than getting takeout. The only downside is that there are dishes, but I have a cute dish fairy, so really, this was a total win for me.
I’ve decided to resurrect Food Day Friday blogs.
“Why are you doing this Allison?” You ask.
Thanks so much for asking! You always ask the best questions. I’m doing this for a few reasons:
- I’m hoping this will encourage me to write more often. I like writing, I have just gotten out of the habit.
- I love cooking. It’s like good therapy that I get to eat. And I do love eating my feelings. Which brings me to point 3:
- Go ahead and roll your eyes. Just do it preemptively. I’m doing Whole30 (along with the rest of America right now). Adam and I pioneered it for the first time in November and my body loved it. I’m not trying to be a Whole30Evangelist here, but seriously, my head, stomach, and sleep adored it. So, after Gorge30 (that’s December in case that reference was too obscure), we’re back on it. And since I’m cooking up all sorts of #fresh food (Fresh is my OneWord for 2017), I thought I might share it. Please share good things back with me. This is how the internet works (for better or for worse – here’s looking at you election season). I share, you share, we all share together.
I’m bad at mornings. Anyone who knows me, or who has shared a house with me knows this full well. I stay in bed until the last possible second (often later than the last possible second) and then rush around in a state of panic. I do this every day. Try as I may, I cannot fix this about myself. I love sleep and I hate mornings. That is my truth.
Because of morning chaos, I need breakfast that I can grab and go. This often looks like grabbing a Larabar or heating up a piece of egg bake. Real talk: egg bakes without cheese are not egg bakes I want to be part of. I’m still experimenting (this is a good place to insert your recipes for dairy-free egg bakes).
One Sunday in November, after a spinach-heavy gag bake, I mean egg bake disaster week, I was wracking my brain for something else I could eat for breakfast. I pieced together what I had in the pantry and holy smokes, this savory hash has become a Whole30 morning staple. It’s got so many holiday-esque flavors that I still feel like I’m getting to gorge while not feeling bad about or after eating it.
Holiday Breakfast Hash
2-3 large sweet potatoes peeled and diced
1 lb of brussels sprouts halved
½ red onion diced
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (or oil of choice)
Fresh cracked salt and pepper to taste
1 lb ground pork or turkey
1 teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dry sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon dried rosemary
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon (or more depending on your heat preference) cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon (or more depending on your heat preference) red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 425 while you dice your veggies. Place sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, and red onion on a baking pan. Drizzle veggies with olive oil and top with fresh cracked salt and pepper. Roast for 20-30 minutes turning at least once. (Roast time depends on how big you’ve diced your potatoes and how crispy you like your veggies. I do a small dice but prefer my veggies to have a little crisp to them!)
While the veggies are baking, brown your meat. Then add all of the spices to make homemade sausage (shout out to this recipe). I’ve modified the recipe to use dried spices because it’s winter and I don’t have a growing herb garden in my backyard nor an unlimited herb budget. Dried herbs work great for this sausage!
If you’re doing this as part of your weekly food prep, let the veggies and sausage cool. Then, add half of the sausage to the veggie mix and put in a Tupperware container. (Freeze the other half of the sausage for another week unless you like a super sausage-heavy meal and then by all means, add all of it!).
Each day, I crack one egg into a frying pan. While the egg cooks, I scoop out about ¾ of a cup of the hash mixture into a bowl and heat it up for 1 minute. By the time the microwave beeps, my egg is perfectly sunny-side-up cooked. I place the egg atop my hash, stab it with a fork so I can watch the yolk run all over the other stuff, and then run out the door, breakfast in hand, to eat while I commute.
I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I do! What are your on-the-go, prep ahead breakfast staples?
Gingersnaps are my fall kryptonite. I love them and once I make them, I can’t stop making them because I can’t stop eating them.
Recently, I went gluten-free, and to be totally honest, I’ve been disappointed in gluten-free baked goods. There are plenty of naturally gluten-free meals, so my main courses aren’t suffering terribly, but cookies and cakes that are gluten-free are lacking. Gluten is apparently is what puts the good in baked goods.
BUT since it’s not fall without gingersnaps in my house, I decided to try my favorite gingersnap recipe with my trusty Trader Joe’s gluten-free flour last week. And guess what? Gluten-free gingersnaps are actually good! Like really, really good. Even one day and two day and three days later. Usually gluten-free cookies get super crumbly after a day or two, but not these guys. I’ve been singing the hallelujah chorus and eating gingersnaps all day every day since. (Not really – but almost really).
So when I found myself eating gingersnaps for breakfast last week, I decided I needed an intervention. But instead I worked on an invention:
(For all my Celiac friends, I know oatmeal is taboo, I hope you can find a good gf brand of oatmeal and give this a whirl because it’s so darn good).
1/4 cup quick-cook oats
1/2 cup water
1 tsp Grandma’s Molasses (I’m convinced the key to perfect gingersnaps is in the right molasses)
1 tsp Brown Sugar
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
1 pinch each of cinnamon, ginger, cloves
Put it all in a bowl and heat it in the microwave and dust with brown sugar. Judge me if you wish, but you dip gingersnap cookie dough balls in sugar before you bake it so this is my version of best practices with gingersnap fidelity.
This smells divine and tastes so close to a cookie. Enjoy this fall/winter treat!
I haven’t blogged about it yet, maybe because I am still processing it a little, maybe because I’m still downplaying it a little, or probably mostly because I don’t want to be a pain in the butt… but I’m gluten free now. Have been for a over month.
And I’m feeling so much better.
My stomach has been uncooperative for years, and I noticed that anytime I did a no-carb diet, my belly was quite happy. So me and the doc started talking about a year ago and turns out, I’ve got a gluten allergy.
I hem-hawed around the implications of cutting all gluten out of my diet, and I wavered. I would cut it mostly out, but then cave for a cookie or a bowl of pasta and I would get sick. Every time.
So after one fabulous night of bruschetta on Italian loaf and breaded chicken on our vibey patio, and two full days of sickness to follow, I decided it was time.
I’ve done enough no-carb/low-carb/detoxes that it’s not absolutely terrible. But really is a whole lifestyle change for both me and Adam.
The hardest parts are (not necessarily in any particular order):
1. Inconveniencing Others: Going to friends’ homes for dinner and either picking around a meal because I didn’t tell them my restrictions, or feeling like a pain for pre-telling and asking them to accommodate. There is something so holy about “breaking bread” (ah the irony of that phrase in this post) with others. I love the community that takes place around a shared meal. I love being invited into others’ homes and learning about their cultures and dishes. I feel like this impacts that, for sure, and I hate that.
2. Others’ Reactions: Telling people and having them act like you’re on a trendy new diet. I know a lot of people are going gluten-free now, but there’s a reason: A lot of us have bad bellies. Gluten-free is not a diet, it’s an intolerance or allergy (or even more, if celiac is involved, a serious auto-immune issue). I had less compassion before I became gluten-free, so I get it. For all of you with gluten-free friends, though, don’t make light of it, and please don’t act like your friends are being a pain. They hate it, too.
3. Impact on my Spouse: Don’t get me wrong, Adam can eat whatever he wants, I’m not a food-dictator, but I don’t cook 2 separate meals when we’re eating at home, which means some of his faves either don’t get made anymore, or they are modified. (pesto over rice pasta ain’t the same as pesto over whole wheat pasta – and that’s the truth). Where we go out to eat has been altered, as well. Chinese food makes me sick consistently, and I watched Adam’s face the other night and he disappointingly ate gluten free pizza. He hasn’t once complained, mind you, mostly because he’s amazing and a doll, but I know this has been an adjustment for him.
4. Convenience: Being gluten-free takes intention and planning. We are usually really intentional and planful about food over here at Casa Buzard, but there are nights when I work super late or weekends that we didn’t get around to grocery shopping or road trips to be taken, and it’s just plain difficult with restrictions. It’s not impossible, but it’s not easy.
5. Snacking: My coworkers bring in food for each other a lot. And it’s good stuff; like cookies and donuts. No more grazing. No more “how did I eat 3 cookies today?” for me. This one isn’t a bad one for me, as snacking has been the arch-enemy of weight loss for me for years. But once in a blue moon, I want a cookie. I can have one, but I have to make it myself or brave the traffic to get to Whole Foods.
6. Love of Cooking: I love love love love love to cook. Sometimes I make yummy food, too, if I do say so myself. This whole food restriction thing has put a bit of a damper on my love of cooking. It’s been harder to embrace permanent changes in my cooking. I think that the low-carb diets were fun to embrace because I knew they were for a season, but since this is for the long-haul, I feel a little like someone punched my love of cooking square in the gut. This week, I feel a little spring in my knives, so maybe I’m turning a corner.
7. Budget: It’s more expensive to eat gluten-free. Even if we aren’t buying the gluten-free substitutes for carby-things, veggies, fruits, and meats almost exclusively gets pricey. Since this has forced us to eat out differently, the food costs are probably evening out, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the financial impact this has, as well.
This post feels totally selfish, probably because it is. It’s all about me and how food changes are affecting me. As someone who cares deeply about justice and the environment and my brothers and sisters around the world, this seems a totally small thing. And it really is.
I know it’s all about perspective.
1. I only have a gluten allergy, I don’t have celiac. If I eat gluten, all I get is a really angry tummy and maybe a sick day. I don’t have to worry about cross-contamination, and I can eat out at most restaurants. It could be so much worse.
2. There are people in other countries that don’t have enough food to worry whether they have a food allergy. I really do get that. (By the way “thank you” to that person who pointed this out to me when I told you about my allergy – But my reality is that I do have food choices and I don’t like my stomach hurting.) I’m grateful to live in a country that has lots of food and medical care, and the ability to eat in such a way that I am well.
3. I have options. So many food distributors and restaurants are being sensitive to the gluten-free world. With a little investigating and a little more cash, I can still eat most everything I’m craving.
At the end of the day, life is not bad, I am ok, and best of all, I’m feeling so much better. I guess I just thought it was time to confess. So, if you’re planning to ask me over for dinner, please know that I come with baggage. You know I’m always happy to help with cooking. Mostly, I just want to hang out with you, I care much more about the company than the food, but I just can’t eat some things anymore.
It’s summer time (I dare you to be the first nerd to point out that it’s technically still spring, dare you. It hit mid 90’s this week, it’s summer, mmmkkkk?).
So, back to it being summer time. The days are hot, but the nights cool off and we often find ourselves sitting on our super fun vibe-y back porch with friends. We have spent so many nights enjoying good conversation, laughter, wisdom, perspective, and sangria out here. I honestly can’t think of a better twinkle light porch drink than sangria.
I was first introduced to Sangria in Spain in 2008. Adam’s parents took us on this amazing trip to Southern Spain, and we enjoyed the sights, the language, the food, the dance, and the drinks! I mean, we got to drink pitchers of Sangria on the beach, does it get more vacation-y than that? (yeah, that’s a real picture we took on the trip). Also, if you ever want to hear a great story about our 4th Anniversary and Sangria, ask us in person, it’s a good one. I thought good Sangria was isolated to Spain, and then I met Ky. And she made her family’s recipe, and I was transported back to Sevilla. I felt like I was on vacation all over again, except I was in my kitchen in St. Louis. Thankfully she’s kind, and she shared her recipe, and I make it often, especially during summers. It’s been such a hit with friends lately, that I thought I’d share the recipe with you, so that you, too can unlock Spain wherever you are.
1 bottle of white wine (I like Pinot Grigio)
1 bottle of red wine (a Cab or Shiraz is good)
1 cup Brandy
1 Liter Ginger Ale
1 cup Sugar
Fresh Fruit (I like apples, oranges, limes, lemons, and blueberries, Adam loves when I add peaches)
Best Practices for Sangria Making: slice up fruit, add brandy, and soak overnight. Then, about 2 hours before consumption time, add the rest of the ingredients, stir, and chill. The brandy soaked fruit is ridiculously good. BUT, sometimes porch sits with friends are spontaneous, and when you mix all this up and chill it for an hour, it’s still ridiculously good.
Also, if you’ll notice, we love to use some good old 2 buck Chuck (God Bless Trader Joe’s). The Sangria is still ridiculously good, even with cheap wine, so don’t spend an arm and a leg on pricey wine, unless money is no object to you and then, I guess go for it!
So, make a pitcher and celebrate some people you love.
If you can, find a great porch, it makes the sangria taste even better. Ole!
Adam and I are real bad at mornings – Like, dysfunctional bad. Getting out of bed on time, getting ready in time, and successfully getting coffee and lunches together before heading out the door on time is a very real trial every day. As you can imagine, we’re not make a nice breakfast and sit and savor it with a paper in the morning kind of people.
Breakfast is a must, but since we’re scrambling every morning to get out the door, breakfast has to be quick. Smoothies have been the “go-to” for a few years now, but since Adam started working out in the mornings, he needs something with a little more oomph to hold him over til lunch.
So I created the baked omelette. Every Sunday, I concoct a baked omelette and we eat that most mornings all week – unless I get smoothie inspired. We just cut a piece and microwave it for a minute or so. It’s not a breakfast casserole- there are no carbs involved. It’s just eggs, veggies, cheese, and sometimes meat. I switch up the ingredients and the toppings so we don’t get too bored with it. We’ve been eating baked omelette for a few months now and are still happy. So I thought I’d pass on the happiness to you!
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of veggies/meat (if meat is desired)
1 cup shredded cheese
Whisk eggs, add salt and pepper to taste, add veggies/meat and 1/2 of the cheese. Pour into greased casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Cool and then chill. Slice piece in the morning, heat for one minute, and top with favorite sauce/garnish.
Some of my favorite combinations are:
* Sauteed red, yellow, orange, and green bell peppers and red onion with sharp cheddar garnished with Tiger Sauce
* Chorizo, green peppers, green onion, cilantro, and jalapenos with Monterrey Jack cheese garnished with salsa, sour cream, cilantro, green onions, and avocado
* Mushroom, caramelized onion and Swiss cheese garnished with salsa
* Bacon and spinach with Monterrey Jack cheese garnished with salsa and avocado
What combinations would you make?
So Adam and I have been eating Paleo (ish) for the last three weeks. We are a little more flexible on weekends meaning haven’t turned down invites to Mexican, but during the week and the majority of the weekends, we have really adapted our eating habits. I’ve learned a few things:
1. I don’t miss cheese as much as I thought I would.
2. Almond milk tastes like almonds. I’m having a really hard time switching from soy milk to almond milk (yes, this is a small problem in the grand scheme of life, I’m just having a moment).
3. Banana “ice cream” still tastes a whole lot like bananas. Don’t believe all the pinterest hype. I like bananas, and in fact, when I’m just needing a sweet fix, this’ll do, but I want you to know that you will be eating a chocolate/banana/almond tasting sweet treat. Consider this your Paleo PSA.
4. I feel so much better when I eat this way. My belly is one happy camper! So, I’ll deal with banana ice cream and almond milk if I can feel this good!
5. I’m still really enjoying cooking and creating given the paleo restrictions. I wanted to share my newest favorite creation with you today:
Delicioso Burgers Asada with Chili Lime Sweet Potato Fries and Guacamole
Ingredients for Sweet Potato Fries
2 large sweet potatoes
2 TBSP grapeseed oil (more or less depending on size of potatoes)
1tsp chili powder
Fresh cracked sea salt
1 TBSP lime juice
Instructions for Sweet Potato Fries
Preheat oven to 425. Slice fries to desired size and shape. For this recipe (cooking time) I cut my fries into thickness of an asparagus stalk. If you make your fries thicker, like steak fries, allow more time for cooking). Brush fries with grapeseed oil. Shake chili powder onto fries, brush to spread spice. Crack sea salt on top to taste. Bake for 25 minutes (or longer if you wish them to be crispy), turning once. Squeeze a little lime juice on top after baking.
Ingredients for Burgers:
1 clove minced garlic
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1 – 1.5 lbs lean ground sirloin/beef*
(I’ve tried this with ground turkey and it’s much less flavorful)
Instructions for Burgers:
Mix spices into meat, form into patties. Grill or cook in pan.
While everything is cooking, make guacamole. If you want to get super fancy, you can save a few slivers of avocado, red onion, and tomato and place “deconstructed guacamole” atop your burger. If you are going to do this deconstructed guac topping, you have to call the meal by it’s full name:
Delicioso Burgers Asada with Deconstructed Guacamole and Chili Lime Sweet Potato Fries with Guacamole for Dipping.
Adam and I are back to eating healthy. I’m still making yummy food, it’s just super clean yummy food. For example, last night, I made beef medallions with balsamic reduction, grilled asparagus, and whipped sweet potatoes. Not shabby for “diet” food, eh? We derailed from the health train over Christmas and are just now getting back on track. The threat of spring taking away bulky sweaters that cover my growing caboose may or may not have reminded me of the need for this.
Anyway… one of my favorite “grain free” meals, that I’ve loved for years (thanks to my South Beach Diet days) are chicken lettuce wraps. If we’re being totally honest, no, they are not as good as PF Changs, but they aren’t fried, they are low fat, they are easy, and they truly are yummy. Comparing PF Changs to these bad boys is like comparing apples and red peppers – they look pseudo similar but taste pretty different.
Trust me, though, these chicken lettuce wraps are “off the (PF) Chang“
I’ve adapted them over the course of the last few years from various recipes but here’s how I make them:
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts (cut into very small pieces (size of blueberries or smaller)
1 bunch celery
1 can sliced water chestnuts
3 cloves garlic minced
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp ground ginger (or fresh if you have it on hand)
1/4 – 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (depending on your spice preference)
2 Tbsp Hoisin Sauce
2 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
1 large head Bibb Lettuce
Crushed Peanuts for Garnish
Saute chicken in oil of choice, brown slightly. While chicken is cooking, cut celery and water chestnuts into tiny pieces. Remove chicken from heat and place in bowl. Add celery, water chestnuts, garlic, ginger, and pepper to the pan. Saute until slightly browned. Add chicken. Add hoisin sauce and red wine vinegar and let simmer for 5 minutes. Serve in lettuce and garnish with crushed peanuts.
What are your favorite lettuce wrapped meals?
My mom made them every year as a Valentine’s Seasonal food, and I have kept up the tradition.
I don’t know where I got my sugar cookie recipe, I think it was actually from my college roomie’s mom. (What would I do without Candy Hull’s cookie recipe stash?)
There are a few keys to the perfect sugar cookie:
1. Chill the dough. I talk about this with every cookie recipe I post, but if you’re a cookie baker, you should really listen to this NPR chat from a chemist about the science of a perfect cookie. It will change your baking.
2. Don’t roll the dough too thin. Very few people in the world like a crunchy cookie. If you are one of those people, roll these sugar cookies thin, but for the rest of us, make them a little thicker (maybe 1/4 or 1/3 inch) and don’t let them bake too long. You have to test them, because you don’t want them undercooked . You’ll thank me later.
3. Invite a cute kid or two over to help you decorate. My sweet niece, Addison came over last week to decorate cookies with me and Captain Awesome and they turned out much more imaginative than I would have decorated them (wouldn’t you agree? Her work above).
Here’s my recipe:
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
Mix butter, sugar, vanilla, and eggs. Then add dry ingredients. Chill for 2-4 hours. Roll out and cut. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes. Let cool, and ice with your favorite icing.
Happy Snacking and Happy Valentine’s Day!