Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Butternut Squash + Tahini Spread (March Cookbook Club)

I'm back for another installment of the Cookbook Club series I'm doing in collaboration with my friend Allie over at Key Ingredients. This month's book is Jerusalem, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, former residents of Jerusalem and now well-acclaimed London restaurateurs and chefs. It's is filled with mouth watering Middle Easter recipes and I want to make them all. Next to Italian and Mediterranean food, Middle Eastern cuisine is my runner up. 

I've seen very few cookbooks that are as stunning as this one. The pages are filled with authentic and unique recipes. Some are easy and some require a little more work, but if you're into cooking and this type of cuisine, this book is a must add to your cookbook shelf. 

I went to bed thinking about this dip and woke still thinking about it. I want to find everything I can and dip it in this spread. Hummus is a favorite around here, but I love mixing it up. And since beans are a legume and a bit harder on the digestive system, using butternut squash here is a nice break from the heaviness of beans. 

The roasted squash and cinnamon caramelizes just enough to give this a sweet yet slightly smokey flavor. I opted out of the date paste drizzle on top and swapped it for a simple maple syrup swirl on top just before serving. I think it added a little sweetness without being too much. You better believe I will be making this again and trying the date paste, too. If sesame seeds aren't your thing, leave those off (I did). I also garnished with a tiny handful of cilantro. To make this dip dairy free, grab your favorite dairy free yogurt or use full fat coconut cream as an alternative. 

Enjoy this spread as an starter with warm laffah bread or use it as the base in a hummus bowl. The options are endless! 

Butternut Squash + Tahini Spread

1 large butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
5 Tbsp. tahini paste
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tsp. mixed black and white sesame seeds (optional)
1 1/2 tsp. maple syrup (or date syrup)
2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spread squash out onto a roasting pan. Toss with olive oil, sprinkle with the cinnamon and 1/2 tsp of salt. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil. Roast for 60-70 minutes, tossing halfway through. Remove squash from oven and let cool.

Transfer squash to food processor, along with tahini, yogurt and garlic. Pulse until it reaches your desired consistency. I opted for a smoother spread, but you can leave it chunkier if you like! I added a little more olive oil as I was processing.

Serve in a bowl or on a flat plate. Drizzle with maple syrup and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

Grab the link below and add your recipe to our linkup! Thank you for coking along with us

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Salmon Burgers

Salmon cakes? Salmon burgers? Salmon patties!? Whatever you want to call them, here's my new favorite recipe. I've scrolled right past these SO MANY TIMES but decided to finally give them a try. Why did we wait so long!? Mark asked the same thing after the first time I made these. We are loving these lately! The flavor is great and if you don't love that fishy flavor you are in luck because these burgers are super mild. 

It turns out that canned salmon is a thing and it's much less scary than it sounds. You could certainly use fresh salmon, cook and form into patties, I love the quick and easy route when using the stuff right out of the can. Bonus points because this also makes it a very budget friendly meal. Cannot get enough of these and they make for the BEST lunch the next day. Serve them on top of a salad with a side of sweet potato wedges and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. 

Thanks to my friend Allison for sharing this recipe with me! 

Salmon Burgers

2 6oz. cans wild salmon, drained
2 eggs, beaten
2 Tablespoons minced shallots
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons green onions, finely chopped
1 tsp. salt/herb mix (I used salt + herbs de provence)
2 tsp. whole grain or brown mustard
2-3 tsp. coconut flour
1/4 cup coconut oil

Combine all ingredients except coconut flour and oil in a mixing bowl. Add coconut flour in 1 tsp. increments until the mixture isn't "wet". 

In a large pan over medium heat, melt coconut oil. Form salmon mixture into patties and place in the pan of hot oil. Allow patties to brown before flipping- about 5-6 minutes on each side. Cook all the way through and serve. 

Monday, March 5, 2018

Monday Trader Joe's Haul

Monday, Monday! We are still riding the weekend high, coming off of a wonderful few days with family. We spent almost the entire weekend outside, except while we were sleeping, and it was glorious. We had a wonderful time.

I went a little crazy on my Instastories today sharing my favorite Trader Joe's finds of the day.  My sister called me out and I said just you wait- next week I'll do a LIVE UN-BAGGING! Totally kidding but then again, maybe not. I always enjoy seeing what everyone else picks up at Trader Joe's- that place is such a gold mine! When I walk in, it's so hard to not ditch the list and get only what I came in for. Like, why don't I just let Joe tell me what I NEED!? 

Here are a few new things I picked up this week!


I already ripped these open for my 3pm snack break and they are delicious! The perfect little bite sized snack and they come individually packed inside the big bag. No strange ingredients and I think Will and Kate will love them, too.

This cauliflower tabbouleh did not disappoint! I've had this on my radar for awhile and finally remembered to pick it up today. I had some for lunch with the jalapeno chicken sausage from Trader Joe's (another favorite).

We have been on a citrus kick at our house all Winter so I always make sure that we have plenty. These mini mandarins are tiny and perfect for little hands and super sweet, too! Also great for kid lunches and snacks on the go.

Cold brew coffee chocolate bar WHAT!? I can't wait to try this. I know it's going to be a winner.

I don't always drink white wine, but the warmer days make me want to swap out my usual red blends for Pinot Grigios or Sauvignon Blancs. This one came highly recommended by a friend and I have it chilling in the fridge now in preparation for tonight's MOST DRAMATIC BACHELOR FINALE EVER. 

Here's the last of my haul! This cauliflower fried rice situation looks like such an easy weeknight meal! Just add in some protein and we will be good to go. Excited to give this a try. I love these small cans of wine. I always get the pinot grigio but picked up the rose to have, too. It's the perfect single serving and great for when you don't want to commit to drinking a bottle over a few nights during the week. The coconut lime mints were an impulse cash register find! Cannot wait to make these shishito peppers tonight with our salmon burgers! And since I'm a product junkie, the hair mask had to come home with me, too. 

And lastly, because I can't leave Trader's without some fresh flowers!

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Paleo Asian Lettuce Wraps

Another Instagram post, another recipe. I love scrolling through all of the delicious dinner posts I see on Instagram and I've been posting our dinners on my stories more. I seriously get so many questions when I post pictures of our dinners so why not post them here with the recipes included!

These Asian Lettuce Wraps are from 2011 and were a favorite staple dinner in our Illinois kitchen. I loved the PF Changs version so much that I found a copycat recipe online years ago and always found myself wanting to make them. They are easy, fairly healthy and full of flavor. The addition of Hoisin sauce adds wonderful flavor but unfortunately, lots of added sugar and sodium. 

Several years ago, I cleaned up my lettuce wrap recipe for what I'm posting here. Lean turkey, lots of veggies and coconut aminos make this a wonderful Paleo and Whole30 alternative! Ground chicken and lean beef work equally as well with this recipe- I used good quality ground turkey this week and it was delicious. You can also add whatever veggies you have on hand! We love the combo of onions, carrots, mushrooms and water chestnuts. Iceburg lettuce used to be my go-to for the wraps but lately I've been buying Boston bibb and it works so much better! If you want that slightly nutty flavor that you miss without the Hoisin sauce, a Tablespoon or two of almond butter in here gives it just that! 

These are delicious on their own, or served with an asian cucumber salad on the side! Just toss the cukes with some coconut aminos, rice wine vinegar and sesame seeds (another PF Changs recipe replica!)


Paleo Asian Lettuce Wraps

1 lb. lean ground turkey
1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 can chopped water chestnuts
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. ground ginger
1/4 cup coconut aminos 
Olive Oil
Bibb lettuce, for serving

Coat the bottom of a large skillet/saute pan with a few swirls of olive oil and place on medium heat.

Add garlic, onions, carrots and ground ginger and saute until the vegetables start to get soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Adding the ground ginger early on allows for the flavor to get nice and toasted and really amplifies it! Add mushrooms and cook for an addition 5 minutes. Season with a little bit of salt and pepper and transfer cooked vegetables to another bowl. 

Keep heat at medium and add ground turkey. Break up the turkey as it cooks. Once meat is cooked through, add the vegetables back in and add the can of water chestnuts. Add coconut aminos and toss it all together. 

Remove from burner and serve in lettuce cups! 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Oven Roasted Lemon Caper Cod

Fresh week- fresh menu and fresh fish recipe! I almost always do my grocery shopping on Mondays and we almost always have fish on Mondays. No special reason, it's just become habit! 

I posted last night's dinner on my Instagram stories and got tons of questions about my fish and how I cooked it. I always have hopes of having time to photograph dinners with my big girl camera but it almost never happens. I snapped this photo quickly before we ate so this is what we are rolling with. 

We LOVE cod in our house. It's a flaky and mild fish and it takes on pretty much any flavor you cook with it (it's also mu favorite fish for fish tacos!) This is wild caught fresh cod from Harris Teeter and it was delicious. I've done previously frozen fillets before and though they are a little more budget friendly, it's just not as good. This recipe couldn't be easier! I'm a lemon lover and it's my favorite flavor with fish. The capers get slightly roasted and crunchy at the end adding in the perfect salty bite. I served this with sauteed broccolini and roasted red potatoes. Easy, simple and healthy!

Oven Roasted Lemon Caper Cod

1 lb. fillet fresh cod
Salt + pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. butter (I like Kerrygold), cut into thin slices
2 Tbsp. capers
Olive oil, for drizzling

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet or baking dish with parchment paper.

Place fish fillet on prepared baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Top with minced garlic, followed by butter slices and finish with the lemon slices on top. Add a quick drizzle of olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes, remove from the oven and add capers on top, then cook for an additional 5 minutes or until the fish is cooked through and flaky. 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Paleo-ish + National Margarita Day

Popping in on this gorgeous Thursday to say hi! The weather here has been insane this week and you would think we are in the middle of Spring. We are Olympics obsessed in our house and it's strange watching these Winter sports while wearing shorts and flip flops! I wouldn't be upset if Brad Panovich said that we were getting one more snow storm to round out the Winter next week but if it stays like this, I definitely won't complain. We all need a little more vitamin D!

Nearly two months into 2018 and we are crushing the dinner menus in our house! Our eating is by no means perfectly clean, but the majority of our dinners during the week are either Paleo or Whole30. This works well for us and is easy to stick to. We always have leftovers, too which is perfect for lunches. Breakfast for me us usually two eggs over easy with fruit. And my giant mug of coffee. I've tried tons of new recipes the past several weeks and am linking some of our favorites below. The salmon cakes were the surprise hit this week and I'll post the recipe next week. These would be a great item to make ahead and have throughout the week for lunches. I'm obsessed with them. 

Defined Dish Basil Thai Beef

Paleo Turmeric Chicken Meatballs with Green Tahini Sauce

Pan Roasted Greek Chicken Thighs

Paleo Chicken Piccata

Spaghetti Squash Pizza Pasta

SALMON CAKES!!! (posting my recipe next week but this recipe from No Crumbs Left is sure to be a winner)

And while we are on the Paleo kick, I've been using NutPods in my coffee and I have to say, I'm a fan! It doesn't add that thick and creamy consistency like my beloved half and half, but I'm getting used to it. With the NutPods and a scoop of my Collagen Peptides, I'm good to go in the mornings! I order both my NutPods and Collagen Peptides on Amazon (linked above).

Lastly, today is National Margarita Day! I can get behind this random food holiday. This recipe that we fondly refer to The Markarita in our house will always be our number one favorite drink to make. If you're celebrating today, try my recipe! It's so fresh and SO GOOD. 

Happy Friday Eve!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Cookbook Club: Cooking for Jeffrey

Happy love day and happy first day of the Cookbook Club linkup! We're so excited to have you here and see what you all have cooked from Ina's book. Don't forget to use the linkup tool at the bottom of this post to participate in the linkup and share your recipe! 

This Maple Roasted Carrot Salad has been on my radar for awhile and I was excited to give it a try. Ina is my go-to girl in the kitchen, especially when it comes to salads. Ina said this may be her "favorite salad ever". Twist my arm! Ina, all of your salads are my favorites ever. I love that her salads are always filled with simple ingredients and TONS of flavor. Fresh greens, sweet roasted carrots and a simple vinaigrette? What's not to love.

I served this with a roasted pork tenderloin and roasted baby red potatoes. It was the perfect salad and added beautiful color on our plates. This would be a great salad to serve at a dinner party. I skipped on the goat cheese and almonds because I forgot to add them to my grocery list this week but it was still delicious! I also added some chopped romaine to thicken it up. There are so many layers of flavor going on here and I'm completely smitten with this salad. You better believe I will add those in the next time I make this- which will be soon! 

The recipe below comes straight from the book. I cut back on the amounts as I only made enough for two servings. I also subbed baby carrots for the regular size ones because that's what I had on hand. Enjoy!

Maple Roasted Carrot Salad
recipe via Ina Garten's Cooking for Jeffrey

2 pounds carrots
Good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup pure grade A maple syrup
2/3 cup dried cranberries
2/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (2 oranges)
3 Tbsp. sherry wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, grated on a Mircoplane
6 ounces baby arugula
6 ounces goat cheese
2/3 cup roasted, salted Marcona almonds

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Trim and scrub the carrots and cut them in half lengthwise, then cut them into large diagonal slices. Place them in a bowl with 1/4 cup olive oil, a little salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Transfer to a sheet pan, making sure they have room to spread out. Use two sheet pans if necessary. Roast for 20 minutes, tossing halfway through. 

Once they are done, toss right on the sheet pan with the maple syrup and roast for another 10-15 minutes until the edges are caramelized. Be sure to watch them every few minutes. Toss them with a spatula and let them sit aside for 10 minutes. 

Combine the cranberries and orange juice in a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer, then set aside for 10 minutes. 

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Whisk in 3 Tablespoons of olive oil. Place the arugula in a large bowl. Add the cranberries (with their liquid), goat cheese, almonds and the vinaigrette. Toss together and sprinkle with salt if needed. Serve at room temperature. 

In case you are planners like we are, we have chosen the cookbooks for the next two months! March's book will be Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.  April's book will be Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. I'm so excited to cook from both of these books! 

Thank you for participating this month and we look forward to meeting you all back here in March! 

Happy Valentine's Day!