Simple Stir Fry

This is a quick-n-dirty stir fry I threw together the first week back from vacation inspired by Thai flavors – without having to source a few specialty ingredients.

gluten-free, paleo

Simple Stir Fry

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts

Zucchini, sliced into half moons

Bell pepper, chopped bite sized

Yellow onion, sliced into thin half moons

Green beans, chopped bite sized

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 Tbsp fish sauce (check your labels for paleo & gluten free)

1 Tbsp coconut aminos or soy sauce

2 tsp chili garlic sauce

2 tsp ketjap manis (check your labels)

2 tsp molasses

Chop your veg. You are looking for about 5 – 6 cups total veg in whatever configuration you’ve got. Add to a large bowl.

Chop your chicken into bite sized pieces and add to the bowl.

In a small bowl, combine the sauces. Pour over the veg & meat and toss.

Preheat your air fryer to 400F for 3 mins.

Air fry your mixture for 8 or 9 minutes (I did 2 batches for a total of 19 minutes), tossing once or twice per go.

Serves 3 – 4 with no carbs; can easily stretch with carbs

Air Fryer Steak

We’ve been eating one of these steaks most nights we have been home these last few months – DH has perfected his method to a science. I just tried it and smoked the damn house out (again) 😂🙄🤷‍♀️.

gluten-free, paleo, keto

Air Fryer Steak

A steak – preferably ribeye or strip of about 12 – 14 ounces and an inch thick

A little butter

Your favorite seasoning (we use Lowry’s Seasoning Salt)

Preheat your air fryer on 400F for 3 minutes.

Season 1 side of your steak, add to the basket of the air fryer seasoning side down and season the other.

Let cook 3 minutes.

While that’s cooking, get a pan ripping hot. When DH does this, he uses the center burner of our stove – which apparently doesn’t get as hot as my favorite burner, which smoked the house out.

Cook 1:30 per side.

Remove from the heat, pop your little bit of butter on, and let rest a few minutes.

We slice ours into bite-sized pieces because we are heathens and have been having great fun with ‘kitchen steak’. Seats are for sides. 😆

Serves 2

Healthier Than Room Service Hotel Room Dining

This latest business trip has come in the midst of a health kick for both DH and I. We generally eat like poo (read: burritos for dinner every night, Starbucks lunches, 2 daily Starbucks drink breaks & buffet breakfasts) on this trip, as there is not a terrible lot to do and the Mexican options are so much better than where we live. Ooh. And our obligatory trip to Blaze Pizza for as much (halal but still awesome) Italian sausage as my cheese-less pizza can handle.

This last month, we’ve both been focusing our meals on protein first, generally eating low carb and for me at least – still veggies that (probably) won’t cause me issues. It’s not a terribly SMART goal (yet), but baby steps. One of us is digging out of a carb & cheese hole.

We have stayed at this hotel a bunch – but I forgot which one it was in the planning and was super sad to see there was no microwave. Life would be much easier with a microwave.

At least we’ve got a fridge, a kettle and fruit basket. I can work with that. Luckily, DH eats a big salad while at work and I’m generally full from breakfast (1 scoop of the curry of the day + 1 poached egg + 1 serving curry-supporting starch of the day + 2 scoops sautéed mushrooms is my go-to) until late afternoon. So, that makes things easier. We are both people who are happy with appetizers for dinner for the most part and we love a good snack.

The initial plan:

Sounds grand, doesn’t it? I even bought a little egg poaching dish and a covered silicone bowl for steaming sweet potatoes. I was excited.

Aaaaand then reality hit.

Hey, at least we didn’t get just a Keurig.

Thank goodness we also have (half) a mini fridge and can push all the mini bar options to the side.

On to the groceries! My first full day here I made myself grocery shop, sans 3/4 of my plan, and picked up an assortment of options. A little light on veg, but this is only week 1. Hopefully I’ll eventually get into the swing of things.

Cucumbers, bell peppers, baby carrots, an avocado, quick-cook low carb mung bean noodles, dashi starter, 2 kinds of canned tuna, 6 eggs, weird looking potato starch wraps, red pepper relish, beet & orange smoked salmon, cream cheese bites for DH, sliced turkey, sliced salami, mushroom soup mix, 3 types of flavored mixed nuts, banana chips.

This all to go with the things I brought from home & a few staples I swiped from our usual travel day room service club sandwich dinner cart.

My travel kit: 2 lidded silicone bowls, 2 full sets metal utensils, 1 paring knife with lid, soap sheets, soy sauce, black vinegar, oyster sauce, sesame seeds, furikake, mustard powder, garlic powder, red chili flakes, Tony’s creole seasoning & Tajin with a few things purloined from the room service tray: salt & pepper, butter, baby Tabasco, mayo, ketchup, mustard & a tiny spoon. I also picked up a small cutting board I may or may not end up incorporating into my kit at the grocery. It’s a bit bulky – if anyone knows of a good travel cutting board option, let me know!

Meal 1

I had intended on making deviled eggs with a side of salmon cukes for dinner, but forgot how long to cook eggs in a kettle for, was too grumpy about life to look it up, and ended up with not that.

So, I made 3 soft boiled eggs mixed into 1 of the cans of plain tuna with mayo, mustard powder, garlic powder, a little soy sauce, red pepper flakes, black pepper & sesame seeds as seasoning. It was fantastic. Would highly recommend. Was supposed to be 2 servings, but DH wasn’t hungry after all and I skipped any semblance of lunch, so … scoopable bowl of yummy mush for one, please.

There went half my eggs & half my cucumbers, though. Oops. Will rethink for my second dinner.

We also snacked on some of the mixed nuts & I had a banana from the gift fruit basket so I wouldn’t perish while unloading groceries and figuring out how to squirrel them away.

Meal 2

I made deviled eggs right this time with the last of the mayo pot, mustard powder, half the pot of mustard, pepper and garlic powder. I repurposed the guac from last night’s inevitable Mexican to spread on cukes with the beet & orange salmon, and layed out some cream cheese cubes for DH to have with his. A nice little snack spread for dinner – and a pleasant surprise for DH who was gaming and had zero idea what I was up to.

Meal 3

This one was off. Most of the components were good – potato wrap, (halal) chorizo, avocado; but it was either the smoked turkey or sundried tomato spread I wasn’t digging. Probably the turkey. DH grabbed himself some cream cheese & chorizo and made a few little pinwheel wraps for himself with a side of nuts.

Meal 4

This was an evening neither of us were starving – we’d had a big lunch out. Instant mushroom soup for me with mung bean noodles and chicken noodle for DH. Surprisingly good and just what we needed.

Meal 5

We liked the first night of properly boiled eggs, I repeated it for tonight’s dinner. I added garlic mayo we picked up at the grocery to the mix and it was a good add.

Meal 6

Lemon & black pepper tuna mixed with garlic mayo, minced cucumber and a little crushed red pepper. The rest of the cuke was sliced into ribbons (kinda – crappily), and tucked into the wrap for crunch. This worked well and was a filling lunch with a piece of fruit.

Meal 7

Potato wrap, halal chorizo, sliced cucumber, garlic mayo & mustard with a side of fruit basket grapes for lunch. Quick and satisfying.

Meal 8

Another round of a simple soup. Mung bean noodles & mushroom soup mix. Quick and satisfying, and a good opportunity to bust out my collapsible silicone bowl.

Meal 9

Mung bean noodles, plain tuna, cucumbers, soy sauce, oyster sauce, black vinegar, garlic mayo, furikake, sesame & red pepper flakes. I’ll be making this again, though I do wish I’d picked up some spinach to toss in.

Overall, I’d say this meal prep was a success. Most nights one or both of us ate in, and had decently healthy meals. Could have had more veg, and the carrots and peppers were a miss – but loads better than delivery for every dinner & Starbucks sandwiches + chips for lunch. 10/10 would repeat again. Would love to add some precooked chicken slices, baby spinach, cherry tomatoes and hummus so I actually eat the carrots for next time. I’m glad we didn’t subsist wholly on delivery, Starbucks & unsatisfying candy masquerading as a protein bar. Go, us.

Pork Belly Meatballs

These babies are a riff on Lions Head meatballs and use up a chunk of the bounty pork belly my wonderful DH brought home last week. One can only have so many days of pork belly slices in a row.

gluten-free, paleo

Pork Belly Meatballs


500 – 600g pork belly, skin off

1 Tbsp soy sauce or coconut aminos

1 Tbsp oyster sauce (check your labels!)

2 tsp rice vinegar

1 tsp maple syrup

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp white pepper

1 inch ginger, peeled and chopped

2 cloves garlic

1 tsp sichuan pepper (I mashed 6 – 10 peppercorns with the butt of my knife to crush)

To form the meatballs, chuck all the ingredients in a food processor and work into a paste. Form into ping pong sized balls and set aside.

Simmer Sauce:

1.5 Tbsp oil

1 cube sugar

2 Tbsp ginger, minced

5 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp sichuan pepper

2 tsp 5-spice powder

2.5 c water

2.5 Tbsp soy sauce or coconut aminos

1/4 c mirin

2 tsp sweet soy (check your labels!)

1 Tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 1 Tbsp water

Bring all simmer sauce ingredients but the cornstarch to a hard simmer in a large pan. Let simmer 5 minutes to reduce a bit and get the flavors to start working together.

Add the cornstarch slurry and let cook, stirring, a minute or so until you think it’s beginning to thicken.

Nestle the meatballs in the pan and cook, covered, 5 minutes.

Add 1/2 a package snow peas, halved, and a couple bok choy, chopped.

Pop the lid back on and let go 3 minutes. Take the lid off and continue cooking another 2 – 3 minutes.

Serves 3 – 4 for dinner as a stand-alone, if fleshed out with a carb could stretch another serving

Air Fryer Pork Belly

This is a decadent dinner and can stretch – we found the fattiness of the pork meant we didn’t need a huge hunk for dinner. I expect this piece we did to last 4-5 servings, depending on what else we do with it.

gluten-free, paleo, keto

The back half looks a little brown – this was after the first smoking incident, caused by the oven. With a little more smoke. Still damn good though.

Air Fryer Pork Belly

500-600g pork belly

2 Tbsp rice vinegar, divided

1 tsp Chinese 5-spice (or any 5-spice kind of situation, really – I think mine isn’t strictly Chinese, but that is what I was going for)

Salt & pepper

Score the skin of your pork belly about every half inch or so.

Add to a shallow dish (I used one of my largest Tupperware). Sprinkle with half the rice vinegar and dust with the 5-spice. Add some pepper.

Flip, pat the skin dry and let sit uncovered in the fridge 4 hours to overnight.

Preheat your air fryer to 180C.

Flip the pork belly again, sprinkle with the rest of the vinegar and add a healthy amount of chunky salt.

Put on tinfoil, and fold/tuck the sides up to make a little tray.

Add to your air fryer and cook :45 – 1 hour.

Note: This may cause life to become smoky. I smoked the house out and have no idea why; the fat didn’t leak and nothing was burned.

Either way, brush the salt off the top.

If your life is smoky, finish off in the oven at 400 until the skin cracks.

If you managed to avoid such drama, crank the air fryer up to 400 and do the same. This should take 5 – 10 mins.

Enjoy! We have eaten this as-is alongside some parsnips one night and drizzled with a little sweet soy the next. I’m scheming a jammy wine sauce for a third night.

Serves 4 – 5

Spiced Meatballs

These baby meatballs are inspired by a Moroccan meatball dish I heard about somewhere on YouTube and are delicious. I’ve eaten them as-is, with chunky potato, topped with a fried egg, and alongside parsnips. All versions were great.

gluten-free, paleo

Spiced Meatballs

1 lb ground beef

2 Tbsp grated onion

2 Tbsp minced onion

3 Tbsp parsley, minced

3 Tbsp cilantro, minced

1.5 tsp sweet paprika

1.5 tsp cumin

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp turmeric

Mix together and roll into tiny big marble sized balls. Ish. Try to go for smaller than a ping pong ball if possible. Set aside while you make the sauce.

For the sauce:

350g jar plain tomato sauce or marinara

1/2 onion, chopped pretty fine

1 bell pepper, chopped pretty fine

4 cloves garlic, chopped pretty fine

1 chili pepper, chopped pretty fine

2 Tbsp cilantro, minced

2 Tbsp parsley, minced

1 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp pepper

2 tsp salt

2 tsp sweet paprika

2 tsp cumin

1 Tbsp oil

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the peppers, onion, chili and garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent.

Add the cilantro, parsley, oregano, pepper, salt, paprika and cumin and let meld until the spices bloom and become fragrant.

Add the tomato sauce and half a can of water if the mix looks like it may be too dry.

Let simmer 10 – 15 minutes or until the volume reduces back down to half.

Add your meatballs in a single layer and sauté 10 – 15 minutes, covered.

Serve with olives, eggs, whatever tubers you have lying around, polenta or cous cous.

Serves 4

Peanut Butter Onion Salad Toast

Here I am with another weird one, this time from Sudan. This dish sounds bizarre, but is actually quite tasty and filling. I ended up eating half for lunch one day as pictured, and spread the other half over some thinly sliced deli roast beef in a sandwich with mayo the second day. Ah-may-zing. I will have to make this again!

gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan

Peanut Butter Onion Salad Toast

1 small red onion, sliced wafer thin

2 Tbsp no sugar added peanut butter – crunchy is great here

1-2 Tbsp lime juice

1 Tbsp chopped cilantro

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Add your thinly sliced onion to a bowl and cover with cold water. Massage with a generous pinch salt and let soak 20 minutes.

Drain well and add to a bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Mix well to combine.

Serve over toast with or without roast beef.

Serves 2

Overnight Protein Cheesecake Breakfast

This is a good one. One of my girlfriends shared the recipe, and she was right – this is a breakfast to look forward to.

gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan

Overnight Protein Cheesecake Breakfast

1.5 medium bananas (about 120g)

60g quick oats

1 tsp maple syrup

2 tsp ground cinnamon

Big pinch salt

145g package vegan cream cheese (if your cream cheese will soften, soften it – I did not and I had lumps)

120g Skyr or Greek style vegan yogurt

Juice of 1/2 lemon – about 1 – 3 Tbsp, depending on your dairy and how tart you want your cheesecake

4 servings your favorite plain protein powder

125g package blueberries

1 tsp vanilla

Mash your banana with the oats, maple syrup, cinnamon and salt.

Mush into the bottom of 4 containers (or 1 big one and cut into 1/4 to serve).

Mix the cream cheese, yogurt, lemon juice, protein powder and vanilla together until smooth (or as smooth as you can get it – see above). Fold in the blueberries.

Distribute evenly to the containers and spread in a thick layer.

Let refrigerate overnight.

Serves 4

(Nearly) Weeknight Wellington

I tried every which way from Sunday to screw this dish up. I let the meat thaw too long, wrapped it halfway and let it sit for a day, took little care in the actual cooking, and then added insult to injury by not eating it for a day after.

And it was still damn delicious, despite the disrespect.


(Nearly) Weeknight Wellington

3-ish pound beef tenderloin

Package filo or puff pastry dough

250g mixed mushrooms

2 tsp beef stock starter

1/2 tsp dry thyme

1 tsp soy sauce


Olive oil

Salt & pepper

1 package proscuitto

Chinese hot mustard

1 egg

Preheat your oven to 400F/200C.

Rub your tenderloin with oil, salt & pepper generously. Put on a roasting pan and bake 10 minutes to brown a bit.

While the beef is working, chop the mushrooms very fine.

Sauté in 1 Tbsp olive oil until softened. Add 2 tsp beef stock starter, 1/2 tsp dried thyme, 1 tsp soy sauce, a splash of bourbon and 1/3 cup water. Let cook, stirring often, until the liquid is absorbed.

When the beef is finished, remove and let cool completely.

Remove the mushrooms from the heat and let cool as well.

Lay some Saran Wrap down (or a layer of aluminum foil + a layer of baking paper if you, like me, didn’t get your ish together). Layer the prosciutto over top in a single layer with no gaps showing.

Spread the mushrooms over top in a thinish layer to almost the edges.

Slater the top of the beef generously with the mustard and lay down over the mushrooms mustard side down.

Roll the ham around the beef, using the wrapping to do so, tightly. Chill at least :30 (I let mine go overnight and it was fine).

When you’re ready to cook, preheat the oven again to 400F/200C.

Prepare a baking sheet. Roll the dough over the sheet into a flat rectangle.

Unwrap the beef roll and place onto the edge of the dough. Wrap the beef in the dough, ending up seam side down.

Brush the seam with the egg (beaten) to seal. Tuck the ends under as well to make a package.

Make some small slashes in the top to let steam escape. Brush with beaten egg.

Bake :30 for rare-mid rare; longer for more doneness.

Serves 4? 5? 6? You decide how far you want to stretch it

Less Sweet Pumpkin Oat Bread

This recipe started life as a roasted Kabocha cake sent in a newsletter by Aran Goyoaga from Cannelle et Vanille and ran rampant from there. That cake was fabulous, but with the amount of sweet things I made for the rest of Thanksgiving (I went for maple pecan as the theme) and the amount of leftovers I still had – I couldn’t handle the sweet for days on end for breakfast.

So I tinkered.

Now, I don’t bake. I hate baking. I’m not a “rules” person and don’t have a clue what ratios are proper in baking to make things work. Super not confident there, but I decided to charge ahead anyways with my newfound beginners luck (I heavily modified the recipe the first time I made it because of fancy thickeners and the like I couldn’t find here either at all or for under a Kings ransom).

I boldly went. Aaaaaaaaaand attempt 1 was gar-baage. Too much baking soda(?) Cornstarch(?) One bite absolutely killed my palate and made all things taste like weird basic metals for like half the day. Oops.

Attempt 2 was much more successful, despite the fact that I think I overcooked mine a bit. The taste is good, but I would caution with this bread to cook until just set for a moist cake like texture. Mine ended up still moist – mostly – but also crumbly around the edges and kinda dry.

I may do a version 4 with applesauce and more oats if I ever actually figure out what I’m doing.


Less Sweet Pumpkin Oat Bread

1 c roasted or canned pumpkin (I used roasted butternut squash in 2 versions and canned pumpkin in 1 and think I preferred the butternut)

1/4 c maple syrup

1/4 c brown sugar

3 eggs

3/4 c oil (I had grape seed on hand but olive would be much more cost effective)

1 c roasted rice flour (I have no idea if other flours would work – the original recipe called for superfine rice flour and I was surprised to see rice flour is super cheap where I live – check the Indian aisle if you are lucky enough to have one in your grocery)

2 Tbsp cornstarch

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 c rolled oats

1 Tbsp turmeric

1 Tbsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

2 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp cardamom

Big pinch salt

Pumpkin seeds

Preheat your oven to 200C, grease a loaf pan and cut a strip of baking paper long enough to hang over the sides of your pan lengthwise so you have a good handle to lift the cake with.

In a large bowl, mash the orange squash of your choice with the maple syrup, sugar, eggs and oil. Whisk until smooth.

Add the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, oats, spices and salt. Whisk together until well incorporated.

Pour the batter into the pan and sprinkle with a generous helping pumpkin seeds.

Cover with tinfoil and bake 40 – 50 mins or until just set.

Serves 6 – 8