Ok, this one may be a little cliche. We’ve long since passed the point where people figured out how to make their own Larabars…got it.
But (according to my husband, at least) these are the best he’s had, homemade or no. As a guy who, working construction, subsists on a diet of trail mix, larabars, and Justin’s nut butter packs…I think I’ll take that as a compliment.
So I happened to find myself at a loss of dinner ideas, and for once Pinterest really wasn’t helping. I texted my husband asking what he wanted for dinner, and he responded “Swedish meatballs.”
I took a double take. Did he mean the ones like at Ikea with all the brown gravy? Or the ones my parents’ friends used to have in a crockpot at parties in the ’80s? You know, the ones with the reddish brown sauce that was so freaking addictive? The ones that aren’t actually Swedish meatballs at all but we call them that because we have absolutely no clue what they are? Yeah. he meant those.
I found a bunch of recipes for cocktail meatballs that fit the profile. Thank goodness I’m not the only one who loves them so much…except they’ve all got gobs of sugar and apparently a lot of recipes use grape jelly. I mean, sounds absolutely delightful but not really my cup of tea these days. At least, not on a weeknight. So I came up with these…and as usually I feel the need to apologize for my crappy photography skills. I wish I could do them justice. Hard to do when the dish is such a sloppy mess…which is part of the reason they’re so freaking good. And totally worth the shame of your husband walking through the door and catching you spooning the sauce out of the pan into your mouth. I know. So classy.
So, remember my Cheezey Spaghetti? Well, if Pinterest is to be trusted, the new big thing in dairy free “cheese”-making is butternut squash. Its got that hint of sweetness but takes on a really nice savory quality without being overpowering, which made it the perfect substitute for the cashews in my original “cheeze” recipe. Hell, it’s even got the perfect color, right?
Good lord…these pictures are gross. That’s what I get for using a crap camera. And for eating at 9 at night.
This recipe really reminds me of those casseroles of old my mom used to make with Velveeta…*sigh*. Epic. What we’ve ended up with here is a pretty rich plate of goodness that is probably one of the most nutrient dense meals you can put together in 30 minutes that isn’t, like, plain chicken and vegetables. And, obviously, without velveeta. Whole30? 21DSD? GAPS? Autoimmune? Yep, gotcha. Don’t like chicken? My next little experiment is going to be with some ground beef…I’m thinking a kind of cheeseburger casserole kind of thing? Enchiladas? Vegan option? I’m dying, you guys. Possibilities. Endless.
Soooo if you could just stop whatever it is you’re doing right this minute and get your oven ready for a little Valentine’s love, that’d be great.
I had a snow day yesterday (and another one today, in fact) thanks to Snowmageddon. Seriously, I grew up just an hour west of here and we have *never* had a winter like this. I mean, sure, every couple of years we’d get a big snowstorm…but it was A snowstorm…not A BAZILLION snow storms. We’d get single digit temperatures…but not single digit temperatures for days on end. Whatever. Anyway. Snow day.
I had a few comments on my avocado brownies expressing some…concern…that they didn’t come out as good as they should have. I’ve been blogging long enough to realize that this is just going to happen from time to time, and I do take a genuine interest in failed attempts at my recipes, or just things people don’t like about them that I can address with stuff I make down the road. As far as the brownies are concerned, some folks didn’t like the texture (which many others claim to love, so not sure what to do there), thought they weren’t sweet enough (to which I say just add more honey or use pre-sweetened baking chocolate), or…and I guess this was just one but it stuck with me…that the taste of eggs came through a little too much. So, that was a noodle scratcher. Thankfully I had a whole day to waste…and it only took a couple of tries to get a brownie that is not only egg-free, but that is probably the most dense, fudgey, rich chocolaty thing I’ve ever made. Score.
As far as substitutions go, I use sunflower seed butter when I want that “peanutty” flavor, but any kind of nut butter will do. For a more neutral flavor, I love cashew butter…it’s great for a smooth, almost yellow cake-like taste. For a nut and seed free option, coconut manna is great–I’ve used it in past brownie recipes and it provides a subtle coconut flavor that gives a little extra sweetness without any more sugar. Also, if you don’t have/don’t want to use avocados, one ripe banana will do the job.
Know what happened to me yesterday? I was doing homework and reached into my bag to grab my Orgo notes and *almost completed* homework assignment when I realized it wasn’t there. Panic ensued. THEN I realized I *may* have left it in the student lounge in my physics building so I drove all the way to campus. Doors locked. Not to be thwarted, I walked the entire perimeter of the building until I found a delivery entrance that was open. Then navigated through the basement maze till I found a stairwell that was open. Then made it to the lounge where I saw my notebook and homework sitting untouched on the table…through the glass of the locked door. Cue tantrum. Echos of my displeasure rang down the empty halls. No janitors to be found. The lock was resistant to being picked by a hairpin. Or pens. Or my car keys.
So…I had to print a new copy of the assignment (due first thing Monday…I was not going to chance the lounge still being locked at 7am). I’d already done it once, how bad could it be? Yup…genius I am that bitch took me 3 hours. Cue tantrum #2.
So Super Bowl! Actually, I’m not sure if I’m allowed to use the actual name of the event without infringing copyright or something. It’s true. No, really. Ever wonder why all the TV commercials just call it “The Big Game?” The NFL is protective like that.
This it fortunately or unfortnately one of those years where I have no legitimate preference for either team–Seattle and Denver both have awesome programs, great coaching, great cities, and hot quarterbacks. I guess I’ll pick Denver, though, since I actually lived there for a year. Fair? Good. Let’s go eat football food.
For those of you who may be skeptical, I admit collards don’t have the best reputation. I mean, generally they come out straight up *boiled*…goopy, bland, and just plain nasty. These are not like that. Sauteeing them with all this simple goodness not only lets the flavor permeate and keep the texture right where it should be, but actually keeps too many of the oh-so-lovely nutrients in these deep green leaves from leaching out and getting thrown away. Whoever thought it was ok to boil leafy greens…ew. Just ew.
My winter break was almost seven weeks long. Seriously. I have never…in my LIFE…had this much time off to do absolutely nothing. Maybe it would be OK if I was like all of my classmates and took a trip somewhere? Or if I was capable of sleeping 14 hours a day? Except no.
The house is cleaner than it’s been or will be for decades. I’ve put in a bazillion hours of MCAT prep. I volunteered at the hospital. The pups have gotten more walking in the last 6 weeks than they had all last year. Ate a few too many of those chocolate covered acai berries (the ones from Costco…dangerous). Too much…*way* too much…has been spent at Target. I don’t know what else to do, you guys.
Class starts next week and it’s the home stretch…4 more months of pre-med and then…well, I’ll let you know. Maybe. Lots of *life plans* in the works and I’m honestly not necessarily sure how it’s going to pan out. Not gonna jinx it. Nope nope. I can tell you, though, that we will be…moving…again. Since I left college I have moved through 3 different states, 1 year-long deployment to Iraq, 5 different homes. Six if you count my CHU in Iraq but I really don’t think that counts. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone unless you have some weird desire to live in a big tin box and sleep on a plastic mattress that smells like mothballs. Blech.
Enough of that…how about I make you dinner? Following my weird BBQ fetish, I’ve been doing a lot of Asian cooking lately. And by that I mean I’ve been putting fish sauce and coconut aminos in *everything.* I recommend it.
This dish can be made meatless or with chicken, shrimp, beef, pork…or all of the above. We like options, don’t we?
I don’t know what it is but I’ve had this wicked craving for barbecue for the last few weeks. Which is totally weird because…at least I’m pretty sure…that’s summer food and we just got snowed on for the zillionth time the other day. I had a 7am shift at the hospital, too…meaning I got to drive down St. Paul while it was still dark, negative degrees out, and before anything had been plowed or salted. And, sorry Maryland drivers…but you’re not very good at driving even when it’s sunny and 75. Not cool.
So anyway, the thing about the sauce. It’s totally a cop-out to waste a whole post on a sauce. I’m fully aware. But for realsies I love this sauce. It also happens to be sugar-free, which is always a good thing, but is kinda important since we’re on the 21DSD at the moment. Notice I didn’t add an optional tablespoon of honey or molasses though…and that’s because this stuff is crazy good without it. On anything…and I mean anything, like steaks, eggs or even on veggies or as a dipping sauce for (Paleo) chicken nuggets. Spoiler alert…I made a little something with this stuff I’m going to share tomorrow that Ross and I have been inhaling all day. Lovely mental image, I’m sure, but I think you’ll be OK with it
I made some health-related New Years Resolutions this year. Hey, even on a Paleo diet it’s easy to fall into a rut when you get a little too cozy with all the junk food that seems like a good idea just because it’s “Paleo.” Live and learn.
The theme of the dietary stuff is to get more veggies. It’s pretty simple, and if ANY diet can agree on anything it’s that we could always get more veggies. So my biggest resolution is to include something green at every meal…I’m also committing to at least one meatless meal a week. Too easy.
Ross and I are also doing a 21DSD this month. Which means I’m going to be really cranky for the next week, then totally high on life. I love Diane’s program…more than anything it’s a great wakeup call. Unlike a generic Paleo challenge or even a Whole30, it hits you hard by cutting out anything that contains sugar…to include fruit sugar…and get your system back on track. I feel like other challenges–while great and highly effective for folks new and/or skeptical of the whole Paleo thing–offer a little too much room for error since you’re allowed fruit and starch. And I also like that the sugar detox is only 21 days…that extra week makes a difference
So here’s a quick side I threw together. I made an ass-ton, since I’ve had this weird craving for summery food even though it’s 7 degrees outside. It’s great for any meal of the day, too…try it with eggs in the morning, on a salad for lunch, and just as-is for dinner and I’ve met my green veggie goal for the day. Another bonus? I didn’t have to make home-made mayo. I love it SO much but it’s more work than I have energy for at the moment. And that’s probably because I’m balls deep in my sugar detox hangover. Yeesh.