cauliflower cranberry sage stuffing

It's strangely quiet in the house. The gentle gurgling of the dishwasher and my dog's rhythmic breathing are the only noises cutting through the silence. I haven't been home alone in a good while. I'm conflicted between all the things I'd like to do. Having a good chunk of alone time feels unfamiliar. So much I want to do, yet I find myself utterly stuck as part of me just wants to lay on the couch and stare at the ceiling for a while. Alone time that doesn't demand anything of me is foreign.  

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Since I became a parent, especially a parent of two kids 3 years apart, I started functioning on a different level. A level I never thought was possible pre-kids. It's being on all the time. I don't mean constantly doing things, I mean my radar is always on.

Seeing the stuffed animal that is about to trip my daughter as she's walking backwards. Picking up the shirt my son left on the floor as he's running around dancing because hardwood floors and cloth of any kind, don't mix. That type of stuff. Inevitably, I find myself consistnetly planning, predicting and trying to prevent. But this only strikes me in moments of solitude. 

I also realized I adapt relatively well to chaos, maybe even thrive on it subconciously. In a way it drives and motivates me to keep moving to get things done. After all, that's what I know 95% of the time.

This recipe was created on a day when things were nothing short of chaos. But I was determined to make it despite the madness around me, and hoped it would turn out as I had envisioned. Sure enough it did. It's a simple recipe that can easily be made in the bustle of Thanksgiving.

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My suggestion would be to make your caulirice ahead as it will save you a good amount of time. Here are instructions for how to do it. If you're really strapped for time, you can order it on Amazon! Yes, I know...I love it too. 

But truly there's not much to stress over. It's cutting up a bunch of veggies and herbs and tossing them with cauliflower. If you're following a paleo way of eating or are gluten free, this is going to be a nice alternative for your Thanksgiving table. The vegetables work exceptionally well with the sweetness of the cranberries and the earthy taste of sage. It will not disappoint.

*If you're cooking for a larger group, double up on the recipe.

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  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cooking time: 25-30 minutes
  • Serves: 6-8

Ingredients

  •  1 head cauliflower (Find the recipe for caulirice here)
  • 3 large carrots cut into small pieces
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 2 stalks celery diced
  • 1/2 pint mushrooms diced
  • 1 tsp sage, finely chopped 
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp rosemary, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp cranberries 
  • 1/4 cup bone broth or regular broth
  • 1/2 tsp salt divided
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Equipment: 

  • laget heavy frying pan

Directions

Heat pan on medium. Add olive oil, carrots, celery, onion, 1/4 tsp salt and cook until veggies are soft - about 6-8 minutes. 

Next add mushrooms, caulirice, herbs and cranberries. Cook for 2 minutes until incorporated. Add broth and simmer for 15 minutes until all vegetables have softened. 

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Ingredients
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 3 large carrots cut into small pieces
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 2 stalks celery diced
  • 1/2 pint pint mushrooms diced
  • 1 tsp sage, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp rosemary, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp cranberries
  • 1/4 cup bone broth or regular broth
  • 1/2 tsp salt divided
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
Instructions
1. Heat pan on medium. Add olive oil, carrots, celery, onion, 1/4 tsp salt and cook until veggies are soft - about 6-8 minutes. 2. Next add mushrooms, caulirice, herbs and cranberries. Cook for 2 minutes until incorporated. Add broth and simmer for 15 minutes until all vegetables have softened.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 6-8

sweet potatoes with kale and caramelized onions

My drive to work is a lengthy one. Sixty miles of highway driving...and that's one way. Fortunately it's only twice a week. But I can't complain as I take full advantage of uninterrupted time to listen to music, podcasts and think. That's also the time when most of my ideas come to me. The trouble is my thoughts are fleeting and I'm unable to write anything down. But one of them in stayed with me. 

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It occurred to me that I have this underlying feeling of not completely fitting in. I've been living in the US now longer than I have in the other two countries, but part of me has always felt slightly misplaced. Perhaps this happens to all transplants who've had to up and leave most of their family, but it is very much a strange feeling. Not one I dwell on too often but it does come and go.

This may also have something to do with the 17 times I've moved since I was 9. But for a nomad at heart, I found it surreal to finally settle down, own a home and be in it with my family. Sometimes I look around and can't quite believe that it's mine (well the bank's until the mortgage is paid off in 6000 years). My family helps to indirectly remind me that yes, I do belong, even when those feelings start to bubble to the surface. 

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One other way I've found to create a bridge between the life I used to have and the one here, is through food. No matter where I lived, food was always an important component of daily life. And not just because obviously we need it to live. For me preparing food is much more than just throwing things together and making a meal. It's grounding and helps to connect me to the place where I am.

One of the nice things I find about living in the US is having access to a variety of food. I've mentioned this in previous posts but I was limited in terms of what food was available in Europe. An example being sweet potatoes. I more than make up for the years I didn't have them as they now go in most things I make: soups, curries, get roasted, baked, fried, etc. They're versatile and delicious.

Since we're on the brink of Thanksgiving, I decided to play around and put a little spin on the standard dishes I've had over the years. Whenever possible, I like to healthify (yes, I made up a word) dishes, this one being no exception. These sweet potatoes are roasted and tossed with kale and caramelized onions. Needless to say the combination is pretty damn delicious. 

So to bring it full circle, I realize that I can live perfectly well knowing that I'm never going to be 100% content anywhere I am...but always a little divided between the places where I've lived and the place I now call home. But I'm okay with that.

And on to the recipe. 

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cooking time: 30-35 minutes
  • Serves: 4-6

Ingredients

  • 3 large sweet potatoes cut into cubes
  • 1 bunch kale stems removed and chopped into bite size pieces
  • 1 large onion thinly sliced 
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or avocado oil divided
  • 1 tsp salt divided
  • 1/2 tsp pepper divided

Equipment:

  • roasting sheet
  • foil or parchment paper
  • heavy bottomed or cast iron pan

 Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line your roasting sheet with parchment paper or foil. Add sweet potatoes, 1 tbsp oil , 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Combine well and roast for 25-30 minutes until sweet potatoes are soft. Toss once half way. Remove and set aside. 

Meanwhile, preheat pan on medium low heat. Add the other 1 tbsp of oil, onion and 1/4 tsp of salt and cook stirring until soft. Turn heat to low and cook until onions start to caramelize, stirring occasionally - about 25 minutes. 

Next add the kale to the pan along with other 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper and cook for 5-10 minutes until leaves begin to wilt and soften. Add roasted sweet potatoes and toss everything together to combine. Feel free to add additional seasonings and a drizzle of olive oil. 

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sweet potatoes with kale and caramelized onions
Ingredients
  • 3 large sweet potatoes cut into cubes
  • 1 bunch kale stems removed and chopped into bite size pieces
  • 1 large onion thinly sliced 
  • 2 olive oil or avocado oil divided
  • 1 tsp salt divided
  • 1/2 tsp pepper divided
Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line your roasting sheet with parchment paper or foil. Add sweet potatoes, 1 tbsp oil , 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Combine well and roast for 25-30 minutes until sweet potatoes are soft. Toss once half way. Remove and set aside. 2. Meanwhile, preheat pan on medium low heat. Add the other 1 tbsp of oil, onion and 1/4 tsp of salt and cook stirring until soft. Turn heat to low and cook until onions start to caramelize, stirring occasionally - about 25 minutes. 3.Next add the kale to the pan along with other 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper and cook for 5-10 minutes until leaves begin to wilt and soften. Add roasted sweet potatoes and toss everything together to combine. Feel free to add additional seasonings and a drizzle of olive oil. 
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4-6

cardamom chicken curry

Ahh...feels good to finally write this out on a page. I have been trying to get this recipe written and shot for weeks. I tinkered around with it three times after initially making it and this weekend I was determined to finally get a photo shoot in. 

Saturday would be the day when I would be cooking and shooting and nothing would get in the way. Except for everything got in the way. Life is life and days don't always work out the way I had planned.

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My husband was busy working on some projects that pulled him away from home all weekend. No problem - I could handle the whole "entertaining kids, rolling on the floor, writing, cooking and whatever else I needed to do" business. But the day kept sliding by with more and more things popping up. My son had a burning desire to play board games, my daughter was moody and whiney and the pile of errands and chores kept growing. I felt stressed and frustrated. I felt my rigidity give way to anxiety and anxiety turn to disappointment. 

I quickly realized that our last errand would mean that this shoot wasn't going to take place that day. It was our usual trip to our local farm where I get raw milk for my kids and eggs. About a 40 minute round trip. It's something we do twice a week and truly enjoy it. I know you're thinking: "you're insane for driving 40 minutes for milk and eggs". But yes, it's true.

While driving, I thought about our tendency to overcomplicate things and burden ourselves with many shoulds. The shoulds and to do lists we have in today's world can be immobilizing. There are just too many choices and things we have to get to. Navigating this relatively new world of seemingly endless to-dos can be overwhelming. 

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So on our way back from the farm with daylight fading fast, my daughter fell asleep in the car. As any parent knows, rule #1 says: "never wake up a sleeping child". So I handed my 4 year old my phone and sat in the driveway watching leaves fall from a tree. 

I hadn't been this still in a long time. Even my meditation sessions don't exceed 10 minutes as I'm continuously reminded of the amount of stuff I have to get to. But in that moment, it just didn't matter. Everything slowed down. Leaves took their time, swirling through the air; fiery colors piercing the last rays of the setting sun. What a concept - watching nature and not doing. No phone, no music, no distractions. I was able to fully connect with the present moment. 

Needless to say, the chicken curry did get made, it just had to be shot the next day and it worked out perfectly fine. So after that longwinded digression, bottom line is - things will get done, stop rushing them. 

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cooking time: 25
  • Serves: 4-6

Ingredients

For curry:

  • 1 lb chicken breast cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil divided
  • 3/4 tsp salt divided into 1/2 and 1/4
  • 4 large carrots cut into 2" strips 
  • 1 red bell pepper cut into strips
  • 2 zucchini cut into 2" strips
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh thai or regular basil chopped

For cardamom sauce: 

  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 cup cashew, almond or coconut milk
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp thai red curry paste (you can add more if you like it spicy)
  • 1/2 tsp fresh minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp almond butter (you can use peanut if not paleo)
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • zest of one lime
  • 1 tsp lime juice

Equipment

  • blender

Directions

Preheat pan over medium heat. Add one tbsp coconut oil along with chicken and 1/2 tsp salt. Cook chicken stirring regularly until chicken is cooked through (about 8-10 minutes). Meanwhile, cut your veggies if you haven't done so already. 

Once chicken is cooked, remove with slotted spoon and let rest on a plate. Add the other tbsp of coconut oil and garlic. Cook for 30 seconds stirring continuously. Add vegetables 1/4 tsp salt and cook for 10 minutes stirring regularly until veggies begin to soften. I don't like mine mushy so check for doneness. 

While the veggies are cooking, add all ingredients under cardamom sauce to blender and blend until incorporated. Once vegetables are finished cooking, add sauce and chicken and warm through for another 5 minutes. 

Add basil and check flavoring. You can always add a little more salt if you wish. 

*You can serve this over rice, caulirice, zoodles or quinoa or enjoy it on its own. 

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cardamom chicken curry
Ingredients
  • 1 lb chicken breast cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil divided
  • 3/4 tsp salt divided into 1/2 and 1/4
  • 4 large carrots cut into 2" strips
  • 1 red bell pepper cut into strips
  • 2 zucchini cut into 2" strips
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh thai or regular basil chopped
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 cup cashew, almond or coconut milk
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardomom
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp thai red curry paste (you can add more if you like it spicy)
  • 1/2 tsp fresh minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp almond butter (you can use peanut if not paleo)
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • zest of one lime
  • 1 tsp lime juice
Instructions
1. Preheat pan over medium heat. Add one tbsp coconut oil along with chicken and 1/2 tsp salt. Cook chicken stirring regularly until chicken is cooked through (about 8-10 minutes). Meanwhile, cut your veggies if you haven't done so already. 2. Once chicken is cooked, remove with slotted spoon and let rest on a plate. Add the other tbsp of coconut oil and add the garlic. Cook for 30 seconds stirring continuously. Add vegetables 1/4 tsp salt and cook for 10 minutes stirring regularly until veggies begin to soften. I don't like mine mushy so check for doneness. 3. While the veggies are cooking, add all ingredients under cardamom sauce to blender and blend until incorporated. Once vegetables are finished cooking, add sauce and chicken and warm through for another 5 minutes. 4. Add basil and check flavoring. You can always add a little more salt if you wish. 5. You can serve this over rice, caulirice, zoodles or quinoa or enjoy it on its own.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4-6

5 ingredient chocolate hazelnut bites

Growing up in Germany I ate a ton of Ferrero Rocher. You can say my whole family had a bit of an obsession with them. While they taste fantastic, they're no longer on my indulgence list. With ingredients such as modified palm oil, wheat flour, whey powder just to name a few, I would be paying a hefty price if I wanted to indulge in them.

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But when I think back on eating these truffles, I don't think of the chocolatey goodness itself, but rather the memories around them. As these guys were a staple in any German household, especially around the holidays, that's mostly what I associate them with. Sitting in a cozy house on a snowy street in the village we lived in, watching my little brother build intricate lego structures while I worked diligently on my sticker collection. My parents in the next room, drinking coffee and chain smoking cigarettes.

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The village we lived in, Burglasach, had a population of about a thousand. A picturesque little place that shows up only in my dreams these days and google images. There was no main grocery store aside from a tiny corner one called Edeka. If you wanted actual groceries you had to get in the car and drive a good distance.

Whenever my parents would make the trip, it felt like a special occasion. I was enthralled with everything this giant store had to offer, particularly chocolate goodies. Since I was raised in communist Romania during the 80s, I saw chocolate maybe three times in nine years. Not something we easily had access to. Even tropical fruit was a rarity. I recall having bananas and oranges a handful of times as one would have to go to great lengths to get foods the local farmer couldn't grow.

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But back to chocolate. Since I have such fond memories of these little chocolate hazelnut truffles, I decided to make my own. I try to be practical in my baking and decided to make them using only 4 ingredients. And you know what? They're pretty damn delicious. The only ingredients that go into them are Medjool dates, toasted hazelnuts, coconut butter and 100% cacao. Easy enough, right? Easier still is that all you have to do is just plop everything in a food processor, get everything good and incorporated, roll them into little balls and chill. They're dense, have the perfect amount of sweetness and will be a perfect addition to any holiday table. 

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Chilling time: 1 hour+
  • Makes: 16-20 balls

Ingredients

  • 1 cup toasted hazelnuts (if you can't find them locally, Amazon is a good option)
  • 10 medjool dates
  • 2 tbsp coconut butter
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil 
  • 3 tbsp cocoa 

*Alternatively you can use just 4 tbsp coconut oil if you don't have coconut butter on hand. 

Equipment

  • food processor

Directions

To toast hazelnuts, simply place them on a sheet pan for 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven tossing them once half way. 

Next, combine all ingredients in food processor for about a minute until everything is incorporated. Carefully start rolling the mixture in your hand, pressing the balls into shape rather than rolling. Form 1" balls. You may find the mixture to fall apart if you try and roll it like a meatball.

You're better off gently pressing the ball in the palm of your hand until a ball is formed. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Store in the refrigerator for well over a week (if you have self control). 

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5 ingredient chocolate hazelnut bites
Ingredients
  • 1 cup hazelnuts
  • 10 medjool dates
  • 2 tbsp coconut butter
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 3 tbsp cocoa
Instructions
1. Combine all ingredients in food processor for about a minute until everything is incorporated. Carefully start rolling the mixture in your hand, pressing the balls into shape rather than rolling. Form 1" balls. You may find the mixture to fall apart if you try and roll it like a meatball.2. You're better off gently pressing the ball in the palm of your hand until a ball is formed. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Store in the refrigerator for well over a week (if you have self control).
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 16-20