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

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.

healthy-ish

(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

Bourbon

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.

gluten-free

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

Chinese Mustard Brussels

I was super shocked when this side was a huge hit with an International audience this Thanksgiving. I warned everyone that came that I had gotten carried away and spiced things to my taste – but … they still liked it. Aussies, French and Brits alike. 🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌

This side wasn’t the star my husband’s bourbon ham was (to be expected) … oooor the Chipotle sweet potatoes I 100% forgot to write any kind of recipe down for – but they were loved. I’ll take the win!

Boooooooooo – this picture sucks, but I forgot in the serving rush to take a better and didn’t end up with leftovers to shoot.

Chinese Mustard Brussels

1.5 lbs brussels sprouts, washed, de-stemmed and quartered

2 Tbsp mustard oil

2 Tbsp sesame oil

1 Tbsp rice vinegar

1 Tbsp smoked paprika

2 Tbsp Chinese mustard

4 Tbsp sesame seeds

4 Tbsp nutritional yeast

2 tsp red chili flakes

Salt & white pepper

First, prep your Brussels by washing them, cutting off the stem ends and quartering.

Preheat your air fryer on 400 for 3 minutes.

Toss the prepped Brussels with the oils, vinegar, paprika, and generous sprinkles salt & white pepper.

Air fry, tossing a few times, until nicely browned – about 15 mins.

When nice and roasted, toss with the mustard, sesame seeds, nutritional yeast and chili flakes to serve.

Makes a nice side for 6 in a Thanksgiving spread.

Flank Steak with Salsa

This is a fantastic – and quick – weeknight main.

gluten-free, paleo

Flank Steak with Salsa

1 lb. flank or flap steak

1 large tomato

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced and salted

1 green chili, minced

1/4 c parsley, chopped

1-2 tsp fresh thyme, picked and chopped

1/4 c smoked almonds, chopped

4 Tbsp flavored vinegar (I used ume plum but sherry would be good here)

2 anchovies

Salt, pepper & oil

First, make your salsa & sauce by adding half of the following to a blender & half to a bowl: chopped tomatoes, parsley, thyme and almonds; sliced and salted garlic, and vinegar. Add the sardines to the blender only.

Blend half the mix and toss the other. Set aside.

Heat a pan over high heat, and add a bit of high smoke point oil. Salt & pepper the steak and brush some of the blended sauce over. Sear on one side, flip, re-sauce and let cook a couple minutes (about halfway done). Flip again and sauce. Continue cooking until your desired doneness is reached. Re-sauce and let rest.

To serve, layer slices of steak over a bit of the blended sauce and top with the chunky salsa.

Serves 3-4

Tandoori Pan

This is a quick weeknight flavor Bomb that makes a great meal prep.

gluten-free, paleo

Tandoori Pan

1 lb chicken breasts or tenders

2-4 sweet potatoes, about 4 cups chopped

1/2 cup frozen peas

1 Tbsp ground cumin

1 Tbsp sweet paprika

1 Tbsp garlic powder

2.5 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp ground turmeric

3/4 tsp ground cardamom

1.5 Tbsp oil (I used mustard oil)

2 cups cilantro

2 cloves garlic

2 Tbsp lime juice

1 tsp sweetener (I used maple syrup)

1/2 avocado

Pinch red pepper flakes

Salt & pepper

Preheat your oven to 200C. Prep a baking sheet.

Chop the sweet potato and add to a large bowl.

In a small bowl, combine the spices.

Add 2/3 of the spice mix to the sweet potatoes and toss with 3/4 of the oil + good cracks of salt and pepper. Bake 20 minutes.

While the potatoes are working, toss the chicken and peas with the rest of the oil and spice mix.

Scooch the potatoes to the sides of the pan and add the chicken + peas in the center. Bake another 10-20 minutes or until the potatoes are nice and browned and the chicken is cooked through.

While that is going, blend the cilantro, garlic, lime, sweetener, avocado and red pepper with enough water to loosen. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4