Unstuffed Indian-Spiced Eggplant

This past week, I was plagued blessed with a ginormous eggplant. How ginormous? Bigger than my freaking head. I happen to like eggplant, but my DH? Not so much. The last time I made him eggplant that wasn’t blended to obliteration or diced and fried, the poor guy put a bite into his mouth and it tumbled out toddler-style. The texture of any type of summer squash is tricky for him – eggplants quadruply so. But, we love CSAs. So I have to get tricky. This dish circumvents the eggplant sponginess by first baking it (like you would if you were making baba ganoush) and mixing it into the finished dish until it is almost indistinguishable from the rest of the ingredients. Win!

This is not a quick meal. If you are looking for a quick dinner, make the eggplant a day ahead. Bonus: if you have a bunch of eggplant, cook up a whole tray – eggplant “guts” can be used in a bunch of different dishes – like, say, this pasta sauce or Strange Flavor Eggplant dip).

Gluten-free, Paleo, and Whole30-compliant


Unstuffed Indian-Spiced Eggplant

1 Italian eggplant (the blackish purple kind)
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 an onion (about 1/2 a cup chopped)
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp. granulated garlic
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. ground cumin
Salt & black pepper
1/2 cup cashews
1 bunch kale
1/2 (14 ounce) can coconut milk

Cut the eggplant in half length-wise and salt. Let hang out in a colander 1 hour to release a bit of juice and kill the bitterness. Preheat your oven to 350 and prep a baking sheet with tinfoil.

Bake, face up, until soft and slumpy (about 20 mins – 1 hour, depending upon how large your eggplant is).

While your eggplant is working, tackle the stuffing. In a large pan, heat the coconut oil. Add the onions and sautee, stirring, 1-2 minutes or until they just start to go translucent. Add the beef and cook, breaking up into smaller and smaller bits, until mostly broken up. Add the spices, along with a few cracks black pepper and generous pinches salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned.

While the beef is going, crunch your cashews up and slice your kale into ribbons.

Now would be a great time for your eggplant to be done. When it is slumpy and soft, scoop the “guts” out.

Add the eggplant guts, cashews and kale to the pan with the beef and stir to combine until the kale starts to wilt and everything fits into the pan without spilling all over the stove.

Add the coconut milk, stir to combine and taste. Add more salt/spice if needed. Cook 5-7 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Finish with a sprinkle of citrus (I used the juice of 1/2 a lime). Serve.

Serves 2 for dinner + 1 for lunch. 

Chicken & Kale Zucchini Skillet with Harissa

Yay for recipes that use up a chunk of my weekly CSA haul + contain protein. This recipe came about from a Google search for zucchini + kale. I stumbled upon this great looking zoodle/chickpea/harissa/egg combo and altered it to fit my non-chickpea-eating, protein-desiring dinner needs.

Gluten-free, paleo, whole 30 (check your labels!), easily made ovo vegetarian (just omit the chicken)


Chicken & Kale Zucchini Skillet with Harissa

1 lb. chicken thighs
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
4 cloves garlic
1/4 c. red onion
1 (14 ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
3 Tbsp. harissa (I used spicy Mina brand, which is W30-compliant)
1 Tbsp. cumin
pinch saffron (optional)
1 bunch kale
Zucchini (I used 1 huge pattypan squash – about 4 c. shredded)
1 egg per person
Salt & pepper

Chop your chicken into bite-sized pieces. Season liberally with salt & pepper and sautee on medium-high heat in the coconut oil until browned and cooked through.

While the chicken is working, prep the veggies. Shred the zucchini (I used the shredding blade on my food processor, but zoodles would be great here), dice the garlic and onion, and chop the kale into thin ribbons.

When the chicken is done, remove with a spoon and set aside. Add the onion and garlic to the pan, reduce the heat to medium, and let sautee until just softened. Add the tomatoes, harissa, cumin, saffron, and a pinch of salt and pepper and let cook a few minutes.

Add the kale, stir, and let cook until the kale gets nice and wilted.

Add the zucchini and toss well to combine. Add the chicken back and let cook 3-5 minutes, or until the zucchini has softened a bit. Taste. Season with salt & pepper if needed.

Create little pockets for your eggs – 1 per person. Crack the eggs into the wells, cover the pan, and cook until the whites are just set (4-5 minutes).


Serves 2 for dinner + 1 for lunch (with 3 eggs). 

Franken Notato Salad with Sausages

It started with the best of intentions. I set out to make a nice little fauxtato salad – something along the lines of this one from Health-Bent. And then I started tinkering. There are a million different ways to make potato salad – and a million different flavor profiles to choose from – but when I think potato salad, I think of mustard and crunchy celery and hard boiled eggs and summer evenings spent picking bites of cold potato salad out of the fridge. And the deli potato salad from Food Lion. And Duke’s mayonnaise.

This is not that potato salad, but it filled a craving.

Behold: this monstrosity pile of yummy goodness. The franken salad. A dish that kind of tastes like a hybrid between german and Southern potato salads, but is definitely neither. This dish would be fantastic at a picnic or cookout, and is pretty freakin great on its own in a bowl for dinner.

Gluten-free, paleo and Whole30 compliant (check your labels/check with your butcher)


Franken Notato Salad with Sausages

2 large Hot Italian sausages
1 large fresh chorizo
Tokyo turnips (about 2 cups diced)
4 medium carrots (about 1 cup diced)
Half a Vidalia onion (about 1 cup diced)
2 hard boiled eggs
3-4 Tbsp. bacon fat
4 Tbsp. grainy mustard (I use Maille – check your label)
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. celery salt (check your label)
2 stalks celery
2 scallions
Optional toppers: olives, chopped garlic scapes, chopped parsley

First, get your eggs on to boil and prep your veggies. You want everything in a fairly small dice so it cooks nice and quick.

Uncase sausage and add to a large pan over medium heat. Cook, breaking the sausage up as you go, until browned. Remove from the pan and add to a large mixing bowl.

Add the bacon fat to the pan. Add the turnips, carrots, and onion. Sautee, stirring occasionally, until everything is softened and beginning to brown around the edges. (about 10-15 minutes)

While this is working, dice the celery and slice the scallions. Don’t forget your eggs, which should be finished sometime during this step.

Add the mustard, cider, celery, scallions, and celery salt to the sausage bowl and stir. When the veggies are done cooking, add those as well. Taste for seasoning and add more vinegar/salt as needed.

Chop your cooked, cooled and peeled egg and gently fold in.

Top with halved olives, chopped parsley and chopped garlic scapes if desired.

Serves 2 for dinner + 1 for lunch

Apple Sage Turkey Burgers with Caramelized Onions (paleo)

Mmmm…. sage and turkey and apples. In summer. I got a massive bouquet of fresh sage in my CSA box last week and have been using it in pretty much everything – and since sage goes brilliantly with turkey & apples, I thought a quick and easy turkey burger was in order.

Gluten-free, Paleo and Whole30-compliant (if you omit the maple syrup)


Apple Sage Turkey Burgers with Caramelized Onions

1 lb. ground turkey (dark meat is best!)
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage
2 Tbsp. minced onions
1 tsp. maple syrup
1 Tbsp. granulated garlic
1 Tbsp. Red Boat fish sauce
1/4 c. minced Fuji apple
Liberal sprinkles of salt & pepper
2 Tbsp. Fat of Choice (I used bacon fat)
Caramelized onions – optional – see recipe below
Ketchup for grownups – optional – recipe here

First, start your onions if you’re serving with caramelized onions. Second, prep your mise. Mince the apple and onion, and finely chop the sage. When your onions are about 3/4 of the way done, add all burger ingredients to a large bowl, mix well (hands are best), and form into 2-4 patties.

Heat your fat in a large pan over medium heat. Add the burgers and cook 5 minutes per side to ensure doneness. This is not the time for a medium-rare burger.

Serve with caramelized onions and Ketchup for Grownups.

Feeds 2-4.


Caramelized Onions

1/2 to 1 whole onion (any white variety will do)
1-2 tsp. Fat of Choice (I used coconut oil)
Big pinch salt
1/2 tsp. maple syrup

In a medium pan over medium low heat, add the fat and bring to a melt. While your fat is coming up to temperature, peel and very thinly slice your onion – I generally halve mine lengthwise first to make the slicing easier. Add to the pan, making sure to break the onion up as you toss it in.

Let cook gently 5 minutes or until just beginning to turn translucent. Add a liberal sprinkle of salt and 1/2 a teaspoon of maple syrup. Stir. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally to avoid burning, until the onions are deeply caramel colored. This is not quick. Allot a good 20/25 minutes to this process. The maple speeds it up a bit, but this is still not a speedy topping. It’s a labor of love.

Serves 2-4, depending upon how much onion you cut and how much you like on your burger. 

Paleo Pork Picadillo

Picadillo is a Cuban dish that can be made a million different ways, but generally includes ground meat (generally beef), some sort of sweet something (raisins or dried apricots or both), tomatoes, and olives. To me, the combination is magical. The brine of the olives gets under my skin, leaving me craving more for days to come. Luckily, the other half of this household is olive-adverse, so more for me.

Paleo, gluten-free and Whole30-compliant


Paleo Pork Picadillo

2c. chopped butternut squash
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
2 tsp. dried oregano, divided
1 lb. ground pork
1 yellow onion
4 cloves garlic
1 bell pepper (any color)
1 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. capers
1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes
Hand full of golden raisins (or more, if you’re a raisin lover)
1/2 cup olives (or more, if you’re an olive lover)
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. olive juice
Kosher salt

Preheat your oven to 400. Dice the butternut squash and spread out on a cookie sheet. Toss with 1 Tbsp. coconut oil, 1 tsp. oregano and a few pinches salt. Bake 20-35 minutes, or until tender. You’ll want to turn the squash a few times during cooking to avoid burning.

Heat the other Tbsp. coconut oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the pork and cook until browned, breaking up as you go along. Hit with a big sprinkle of salt.

While the pork is working, dice the onion, garlic and pepper. Add to the pan and sautee until the onion is translucent.

Add the second tsp. oregano, cumin, chili powder, cinnamon and capers plus another big pinch of salt. Sautee 1-2 minutes to let the spices bloom.

Add the diced tomatoes, raisins, olives, vinegar, and olive juice. Bring to a boil. Taste for salt and add more if needed. Drop the heat to a simmer and let go 5-10 minutes.

Serve the picadillo over the butternut squash.

Serves 2 for dinner + 1 for lunch. 


Crunchy Kale & Cabbage Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing

Yeah, yeah, yeah – another salad. I’m on a homemade salad kick lately, and inspiration seems to be striking hardest during lunch. So: salads. This particular rendition combines my favorite salad green – kale – with sweet peppers, crunchy cabbage and a nice kicky, fatty dressing for something that is both healthy feeling and hearty enough to carry you through the afternoon.

Paleo, gluten-free and Whole 30 compliant


Crunchy Kale & Cabbage Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing

5 ounces or so chopped kale (I used half a bag of the organic chopped kale from Trader Joe’s)
1 medium carrot
1 orange pepper
1.5 – 2 cups shredded cabbage (red would be fantastic here, but all they had at the store was regular green – which was also tasty)


2 Tbsp. tahini
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar (Bragg’s ftw)
Juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp. grapeseed oil
3 big pinches citrus salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 clove garlic
2-3 Tbsp. water

Julienne your pepper & carrot (I used a mandoline), chop your kale if needed, shred your cabbage and mince the garlic. Combine the veggies in a large bowl and all dressing ingredients in a shaker or bowl. Whisk or shake the dressing ingredients to combine, adding more water if needed to reach a pourable consistency.

I like to massage my dressing into my greens when I’m having a hearty green like this.

Optional add-ins: roast chicken, hard boiled eggs, sliced scallions, some sort of nut. I had chicken the first day for lunch and eggs the second. Scallions would have been great here, and nuts may or may not have added anything worthwhile to the party.

Makes 2 big lunch salads

Kale Pesto & Chicken Sweet Potato Noodle “Pasta”

I finally broke down and bought a spiral slicer. I got the GEFU Spirelli and after making this dish two ways – once with my speed peeler and once with the spiralizer, I’ve got to say I’m digging the spiralizer. It feels a lot less dangerous in my hands, and while there is some waste – it’s pretty much on-par with the speed peel method (at least for me – I’m kind of a sharp object hazard).

This dish is satisfying on many levels – the pesto is great, the noodles (when spiralized carefully) can just about be twirled, and the chicken lends a great fattiness to the dish that really brings it all together. A knockout weeknight meal.

These sweet potato noodles can also be used a thousand different ways – I see them becoming a staple in this household; maybe yours, too. Serve with bacon, garlic & sauteed spinach; with a bright popped tomato sauce; alongside mini-meatballs; carbonara-style; with briny olives and creamy goat cheese; with sliced steak and chimichurri … and that’s just off the top of my head.

Paleo, Gluten-free, Grain-free, Whole30


Kale Pesto & Chicken Sweet Potato Noodle “Pasta”

Adapted from Gourmande In the Kitchen’s Sweet Potato Noodles with Kale Pesto

1 longer than it is fat sweet potato per person
2-3 chicken thighs per person (I prefer boneless/skinless)
2 big hands chopped kale (I used half a 10 ounce bag of Trader Joe’s organic cut kale)
Handful parsley
Big hand full almonds
1 clove garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
Big pinch red pepper flakes
Pinch kosher salt
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. Red Boat fish sauce
Coconut or olive oil for cooking
Salt & pepper
Extra Virgin olive oil to serve
Pecorino Romano or Parmesan to serve (completely optional)

First, put a large pot of salted water on to boil. When the water is boiling, add your kale and blanch 2 minutes. Drain and let sit in the drainer while you prep everything else.

Next, get your chicken working. If you’re using boneless/skinless, chop into roughly bite-sized pieces and season with salt and pepper. Put into a large pan with 1-2 Tbsp. coconut or olive oil. Sautee over medium to medium-high heat until cooked through. Set aside when done.

While the chicken is cooking away, prep your sweet potatoes. Wash and peel and either shave with your vegetable peeler into ribbons or use a spiralizer for long curly strands. Set aside until the chicken is finished. When the chicken is done, add the sweet potato noodles to the leftover fat in the pan – adding a little more coconut or olive oil if needed (you want 2-3 Tbsp. here). Sautee 3-5 minutes, or until the noodles are softened and just beginning to brown.

On to the pesto. Toast your almonds in a dry pan and add to the bowl of a food processor when done, along with the garlic, parsley, drained kale, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, fish sauce and salt. Blitz to combine, adding the oil in a steady drizzle as you go. If the mixture is too dry, add a Tablespoon or so water.

To serve, add the chicken and some pesto (2-3 Tbsp. per person) to the sweet potato pan and toss (gently!) to combine. Serve sprinkled with a nice stout cheese if you eat cheese (Pecorino Romano and Parmesan make good serving buddies) and finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Serves 2 if you use 2 potatoes & 6 small chicken thighs – with enough pesto leftover for 3-4 more servings. Could easily serve 4-6 with enough sweet potato noodles & chicken.


Whole30 Slow Cooker Balsamic Beef

This recipe is tasty. Not quite what I had envisioned (I had visions of sticky almost tart beef dancing in my head), but good. A great ‘cook once and use as the backbone for many meals’ recipe.

I’ve served over brussels sprouts, eaten straight of the container, and paired with mashed cauliflower this week – I’m also dying to try it as a “pizza” topper, as a “taco” filling, and with more and varied greens. Yum.


Whole30 Slow Cooker Balsamic Beef

Adapted from Balsamic Roast Beef by Add A Pinch – thanks go out to one of my husband’s Facebook friends who posted the recipe that got the obsession rolling

2-4 pound boneless beef roast (chuck or one of the rounds – I used top round)
1 cup beef broth (check your labels!)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar (check your labels!)
2 Tbsp. Red Boat fish sauce
2 Tbsp. coconut aminos
1/2 a date, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
Big pinch red pepper flakes

Plop your meat into a slow cooker. Combine all other ingredients and pour over top. Cook on High 4-8 hours. When your beef can shred with a fork, it’s done. Remove to a platter and go to town.

Place the cooking liquid into a pan and reduce by half for a nicely flavored gravy. Drizzle with extra balsamic before serving for an extra kick of taste. (and if you have some sticky aged balsamic? Heaven.)

4-8 hours? Can you be more specific? Here’s what happened: The original recipe calls for 4 hours on High or 6-8 hours on Low. This is the second time using my new crock pot and we weren’t sure if we needed to latch the lid down while cooking or if that would cause some sort of meatsplosion, so we left it unlatched. Came back 4 hours later and the meat was about half done. So we latched the lid and put it on for another 4. If you know how to operate your crock pot properly, I’d go with the original cooking directions and work from there.

Makes a bunch. I’ve gotten at least 2 dinners for two out of it + 3-4 lunches and I still have 1-2 days’ worth of lunch portions leftover. 

Arugula & Orange Salad with Pulled Pork and Tomato

This salad came about because, here in January, I couldn’t stand not eating tomato any longer. Enter Fresh Direct. They tempted me with a beefsteak tomato – that while fairly costly, was actually fresh and actually tasted like tomato. Not sure if it was hot house (there was no mention in the description and it certainly didn’t taste like it), magic fairy house, or teleported from somewhere warm – but it was delicious. Just the breath of warm I was craving.

I ate this for lunch on my second day of Whole30 Take 2 – and didn’t feel deprived in the least.


Arugula & Orange Salad with Pulled Pork and Tomato

2 cups arugula
1 tomato – I used a big beefsteak
1 orange – I used a Cava Cava orange, which was delicious – blood orange would also be great here, or clementine — any orange with a lot of taste
2 Tbsp. gremolata
2 tsp. grapeseed oil
4 ounces leftover pulled pork 

Supreme (cut off the outer rind and slice out each wedge individually – for video instructions, click here) your orange and cut the pieces into bite-sized chunks.

Cut the tomato into bite-sized chunks.

Warm your pork if needed.

Chuck the arugula, pork, tomato and orange into a big bowl and toss to combine.

Sprinkle with gremolata, the juice from the orange middle, and grapeseed oil.

Serves 1 for lunch.

Bread-Free Pork & Sweet Potato Stuffing

Mmmm… stuffing. Some people seem to go bugnutty over stuffing this time of year. I think Stove Top has addressed this issue properly in their holiday 2013 spots – hilarious. I remember just such “wars” breaking out at Thanksgiving when I was a kid. My family was divided – some preferred Stove Top, some Pepperidge Farms, and some my grandmother’s oyster dressing made with wild rice (which, to be fair, was always served alongside stuffing – and was gross).

Me? I’ve never been too crazy about stuffing. Or dressing, for that matter. I loved bread as much as the next kid – but dressing, not so much. And stuffing in the bird always freaked me right out. About the only part of the whole stuffing/dressing issue I dug were the two bites of almost burnt, butter-drenched bites on the top (or bottom – depends on who was doing the scooping) of the bowl (but only if it had a lot of celery) and that’s about it. Mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and that infernal canned cranberry jelly were really where it was always at for me. Don’t get me started on cranberry sauce vs. cranberry jelly. I realize the stuff in the can is possibly radioactive and only maybe once met a cranberry somewhere way back in its past – but yum. Gelatinous tart and sweet tastiness. “Fancy” cranberry sauce is just wrong.

Enter adulthood, and my own Turkey Day traditions – and nary a stuffing or dressing in sight. I still do a green bean, usually some sort of gravy (sadly, not my grandmother’s giblet gravy – that recipe I don’t have and can’t find), a bevy of potatoes, and generally some sort of decadent pork dish at the center.

This paleo-ified and gluten-free stuffing would make the perfect holiday get-together side – and makes a darn tasty dinner in and of itself. Plus, any leftovers can be transformed into a luxurious lunch with the addition of — wait for it — you’ll never guess — an egg.


Bread-Free Pork & Sweet Potato Stuffing 

1 pound ground pork
4 ribs celery
1/4 c. chopped pecan bits
1 Tbsp. fresh picked thyme
5 small cloves garlic
1 Tbsp. granulated garlic
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 Tbsp. unsalted grass-fed butter (Kerrygold)
2 small sweet potatoes (about 2 cups when diced)
Kosher salt & cracked black pepper

Heat the coconut oil in a large pan over medium – medium-high heat. Add the pork and start breaking up with a spatula. Sautee until deeply browned, mashing and stirring frequently to break up into as tiny pieces as possible and avoid over-browning.

While that is working, peel and petite dice the sweet potatoes. Chop the celery and garlic. Pick the thyme and chop.

When the pork is done, remove to a paper towel lined bowl to hang out for awhile (keep the fat in the pan to use for the veggies).

Add the potatoes, celery & garlic to the pan. If there is less than a Tablespoon or so of fat in the pan, add a little coconut oil. Add the onion powder, thyme, a few pinches salt and a few cracks of black pepper. Sautee the veggies, stirring frequently and turning the heat down to medium if necessary until the celery is beginning to soften and the potatoes have gone soft and golden in spots. This should take 5-10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.

While the potatoes are cooking, heat a smallish pan over medium heat and add the butter. Add the pecans and cook until beginning to brown.

To serve, mix all components – the reserved browned pork niblets, potato mixture and pecans and chow down.

Makes enough to feed 2 for dinner as a main dish + 1 for lunch bolstered with a couple of eggs. If you want to serve a whole gathering, scale up – keeping the ratio of thyme-heaviness, celery and onion powder appropriate to your amount of sweet potatoes.