Eggplant Hummus with Dill Pesto

This is a fantastic way to hide some eggplant and use up a big hunk of pesto. I’ve served this on toast, with eggs, as the base of a sandwich, and would absolutely love the pesto swirled into some mashed potatoes. The hummus, too, tbh. Ooh. Would also be nice thinned with a bit of oil or water and tossed with pasta. I need to make a second batch.

gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan

Eggplant Hummus with Dill Pesto


1 smallish eggplant, roasted

1 can chickpeas, drained

2 Tbsp. olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

2 Tbsp. tahini

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. red pepper


To make, combine all ingredients in a food processor and whiz. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or acid as necessary.

Dill Pesto

1 huge hand dill (about 1/3 of a cup packed)

About 1/3 of a cup smoked almonds, chopped

1 big clove garlic

3-4 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. water

Zest of 1 lemon


To make, combine all ingredients in a food processor and whiz. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or acid as necessary.

Makes about a cup of hummus and half – 3/4 a cup of pesto

Dutch-Style Shrimp Deviled Eggs

This simple appetizer is quick to put together, serves a crowd, and gives a bit different flavor to an old favorite (at least for my American readers).

A note for those American readers: If you’re a fan of American-style deviled eggs, you’re going to think that these yolks will never hold together with this amount of mayonnaise. Resist the urge to add more – it *does* work. Don’t go into auto-pilot. Be strong: the difference in taste is worth it.

Gluten-free, Paleo, pescatarian

Dutch-Style Shrimp Deviled Eggs

12 large eggs
8 ounces tiny sized shrimp (canned is fine)
3 Tbsp. mayonnaise or aioli (I used Kewpie mayo)
3 tsp. ketchup (I used American-style)
3 tsp. whiskey
Salt & pepper
Chives for garnish

First, hard boil and peel the eggs. Halve lengthwise and add the yolks to a bowl.

Add the mayo, ketchup & whiskey. Chop the shrimp into small bits, reserving 1 per egg half for garnish. Add the chopped shrimp to the bowl.

Mix to combine, taste, and add salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon the mixture into each egg half, top with a whole shrimp, and snip chives to garnish.

Serves a party

Beer Cheese – aka ‘Man Dip’

So… this recipe isn’t healthy, and it sure isn’t paleo. But it *is* tasty, and it *did* make a great ‘manly’ dip for my hubby’s UFC PPV viewing party. I’m glad I was out to dinner with my best friend who just happened to be in town – I have a feeling I would have had an aching stomach from eating too much dairy had I been there.


Beer Cheese – aka ‘Man Dip’

1/4 pound extra sharp white cheddar cheese
8 ounces cream cheese (the full fat stuff)
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. onion powder
4 ounces beer (I used Sixpoint Diesel brown ale, but your favorite beer will do just fine)

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pot over medium heat. Stir fairly continuously until the cheeses are melted; once the cheeses are melted and look like a gross gloopy mess, whisk to break up the lumps until you get a nice glossy mixture. If your cheese isn’t liquid enough, add a few more splashes of beer and whisk to combine.

Serves a bunch – makes a small bowl full

Game Day Nibbles: Paleo-Friendly Slider Meatballs

As I said last week, I know nothing about football, but I sure do like snacks. So when the Superbowl rolled around, I was more than happy to stay home eating “man food”.

The paleo nachos I posted last weekend were fabulous, but my DH was lamenting the bread hiatus in this house come game time (two of his favorite game snacks are on a bun: sliders and my mom’s ham & cheese sammitches), so I tried my hand at making that same great slider taste; just in a more paleo-friendly format. I think I did pretty well. The meatballs were very tasty – I had mine with some of my favorite tomato jam*; he had his with some store-bought pub cheese.

*If you’re going strict paleo and want to make this jam, substitute maple syrup for the sugar (I’d use about half the amount). You could probably also swap out the apple cider vinegar for some extra citrus juice, but I love the taste too much to do without. As always, check your labels for gluten if you’re intolerant.


Paleo-Friendly Slider Meatballs

1 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 lb. ground beef (grass fed)
2 Tbsp. onion powder
2 Tbsp. granulated garlic powder
1 Tbsp. umami paste (or Worcestershire)
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
2 Tbsp. coconut aminos
2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. black pepper

Add all ingredients but the coconut oil to a medium sized bowl.

In a large pan over medium heat, warm the coconut oil.

While the coconut oil warms, combine the bowl ingredients (I used my hands). When the oil is ready, form the beef into ping pong sized balls, placing into the pan as you go. I got about 13 out of my beef.

Brown on both sides and serve with everything you’d serve a slider with – pickles, cheese if you’re partaking, ketchup (or tomato relish), mustard … the toppings are endless.

Game Day Nibbles: Paleo Nachos

I know nothing about sports, despite growing up in not 1, but 2 households full of baseball watching, baseball listening to, baseball game visiting, and even softball playing sport people (my mother was also very into college basketball, but not until after I left for college and my cousin started attending Duke University). Also, I come from a big football state. And I spent an awful lot of my formative years in a college basketball obsessed state. Pig ball I know not. (I do however, enjoy the occasional baseball game – even though I only know the very basic rules. And hockey. No idea what’s happening, but I like the drama)

Needless to say, I couldn’t give two rats’ asses about the Superbowl. It happened last weekend, and all I remember about the game was Beyonce, some amount of complaining about a blackout, and that we were ostensibly rooting for the Ravens due to a: their proximity, and b: someone on the other team recently coming under fire for homophobic remarks.

But snacks, snacks I like; and any excuse to make “man snacks” is a-okay in my book. This year, I made a variation of one of my staples (sliders) and what has become a new favorite – paleo nachos. During the game, I managed to finish planning our spring vacation (go me!) and design a few cards for upcoming holidays.

The nacho recipe is below. Sliders to come soon.


Paleo Nachos

1 lb. ground beef (grass fed)
2 tsp. coconut oil
4 Tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. chipotle powder
2 Tbsp. granulated garlic powder
2 Tbsp. onion powder
2 tsp. sea salt
Black pepper
TJ Guacamole (recipe follows)
Salsa (optional)
2 scallions
Sweet potato chips (I used store bought because I failed at home made)

In a large pan, warm the coconut oil over medium – medium-high heat. Add the beef and break up with a spoon. Add the spices, salt & pepper and cook until deeply browned. Drain.

While this is cooking, make your guacamole and slice the scallions into thin medallions.

When the beef is browned and drained, assemble your nachos. 1st layer chips, 2nd layer beef, top with guacamole, scallions and salsa (if using). Enjoy.

Serves 4-6 easily. We took down a bag of chips and still had enough leftover meat and guac that we could both have another big plate.

TJ Guacamole

This guacamole is straight from Trader Joe’s guacamole kit. I originally added 3 strips of applewood smoked bacon to mine, but couldn’t taste it in the final product at all. If you want some porky goodness, try upping the quotient to 5 strips of bacon.

2 ripe avocados
1 Roma tomato, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
1 tiny onion, diced
Juice of 1 lime
Big pinch salt

Mash all ingredients together with a potato masher (or fork, if you want a workout).

Eastern North Carolina Cheese Biscuits

Awwww… look. The shape was totally unplanned, but I do heart these biscuits.

I’ve been a bit nostalgic for one of the places I’ve called home lately. It started with a listing I ran across of Saveur Magazine’s Top 100. Biscuitville made the list! I love Biscuitville! I miss biscuits! We don’t really have Southern-style biscuits in Miami.

This led to a Facebook conversation with an old friend about the biscuits we loved from my college days in Eastern North Carolina. These biscuits were the bomb-diggety and almost ubiquitous on campus, as well as in little local gas stations and breakfast joints (the top examples for me being the The Wright Place on East Carolina University’s main campus and a little ghetto gas station on the outskirts of known town we used to frequent just for the biscuits and cheap cigarettes). This led the Facebook friend and I on an Internet-wide search for the perfect Eastern North Carolina biscuit, which in turn led to stumbling upon a fight that has been raging for ages on the subject on Chowhound. It seems no one can agree on a recipe, or even if the hyper-local biscuits even exist. They *do* exist. And apparently we aren’t the only ex-East Carolinians who remember them with fondness.

These are not Red Lobster-style cheddar biscuits, though (as legend has it) those hail from the Carolinas too. These biscuits are huge (bigger than your hand or cat head sized as some call it), have a nice dense crumb with slightly crispy outside from touching the sides of the pan and come with a thick layer of gooey cheddar-like orange melty cheese in the center. Not, I repeat, Not mixed in with the batter. Those are indeed some great biscuits, but not what I’m talking about here. You might ask, what’s the big freaking deal? They’re biscuits with cheese in the middle. Pop open a can of Pillsbury and be done with it. To which I’d retort, blasphemer! Those aren’t the same thing at. all. These, aside from dipped in nostalgia, are flaky yet toothsome, gooey from the cheese, almost greasy to the touch, and satisfying to the core. These are cheese biscuits that don’t even need a fried egg, country ham or bacon to be good. And that, my friends, is a feat in and of itself.

A note on cheese: Proponents of the biscuit gospel call for something called a “hoop cheese”. According to Wikipedia, hoop cheese is a firm dry cheese made from milk alone and is popular throughout the rural South. I can believe this, though the cheese I remember is more cheddar-like, so I found a nice stout cheddar to slice. What you’re looking for is a good melty cheese that can stand up to a buttermilk biscuit without becoming molten when heated. Something that would taste good wrapped on waxed paper after it has oozed out the side of your biscuit and solidified.

A note on lightness & flakiness: The original author of this recipe likes her biscuits a bit more flaky and light than I was looking for, so I kneaded my dough a bit more than she called for. I wanted a somewhat dense biscuit; if you, like my DH, want lighter biscuits, knead less.

Eastern North Carolina Cheese Biscuits
Adapted from thoroughly researched and vetted recipe for Appalacian Cat Head Biscuits

2 1/4 c. All Purpose flour
3/4 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
4 1/2 Tbsp. chilled unsalted butter
1 c. buttermilk
Stout cheddar-like cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F and spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray.

Mix the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

Add the butter a piece at a time to the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter until you have a mixture the consistency of coarse cornmeal. Although I’m sure the writer of the original recipe would cringe, I very rarely bake, don’t own a pastry cutter, and no one in my life trusts me to dual-wield knives without losing a finger or two like the recipe called for alternately. So, I beat the crap out of the butter with a metal potato masher and hands that I periodically chilled in the freezer until the right consistency was reached. Whatever works.

Make a well in the center of the dry mixture and add the buttermilk. Gently scrape the sides of the bowl and fold the mixture until barely combined. Don’t mix it to death, just incorporate all the dry wispy bits of flour from the sides of the bowl. The dough will be lumpy, sticky in places and shaggy around the edges. This dough is not pretty and to the baking uninitiated like me, will look like it is not going to work. Pick the dough up and knead it carefully in the bowl, turning over with each pass, 3-5 times (I did 5, the original author stuck to 3), until almost all the mixture forms a cohesive mass. Don’t knead any more, or you will get hockey pucks.

To form the biscuits, pinch off a ball of dough about 2 1/2 inches around and form into a thick free-form patty. This recipe should yield 6 large biscuits. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Slice and serve with sturdy cheddar-like cheese, heating in the microwave until just-melted.