Four Layer Taco Dip

Who doesn’t love a good dip?  I sure do.  For as long as I can remember, this dip has been a staple at SuperBowl parties (and I’ve been told I can’t come unless I bring it, so it’s kind of a big deal…) and is always a hit.  It can be served cold sans melted cheese, or it can be broiled to melt the cheese just enough that it’s not burnt.

Let’s talk about the layers:  sour cream, ground beef, mild salsa, and Mexican cheese. The first layer is sour cream.  I swear by Wallaby’s cultured organic sour cream because it has such a thick, rich flavor and is incredibly low in sugar, but high in the good stuff. I found a great salsa to pair as well with easy ingredients and paleo-approved.  Lastly, the cheese tops this monster of a dip (I don’t get fancy with the cheese… Sargento is great for this).

I start out with browning the meat like you would for tacos, adding the seasoning about halfway through (when the meat is 75% browned).  I add a 1/4c of water to the meat, then the seasoning, lower the flame to low and stir around.  I let it sit uncovered on a low heat just until the water is absorbed and remove it from the heat.  Add the sour cream at the bottom of any corning wear or pyrex dish (be generous), then add the meat, the salsa, and then the cheese.  Melt cheese or not melt cheese?  The choice is yours 🙂

This dip is very high in good fats and is Ketogenic-friendly.  I’ve dabbled in the Keto diet before it was a thing and found that while I LOVE me some bacon, avocado, and butter, I missed having a ton of veggies on my plate (keto is incredibly low-carb and, as you already know, vegetables pack some carbs regardless if they’re a vegetable.  All in moderation and balance right friends?  I decided tonight was a good night to roast some asparagus tossed in EVOO sprinkled with pink sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. Mmmm, I already ate and am still drooling.

Four Layer Taco Dip

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 1 16 oz package ground beef
  • 3 cups sour cream
  • 1 container salsa
  • 1/4 c water
  • 3 cups Mexican blend cheese
  • Taco seasoning
  • Tortilla chips

Instructions

  1. In a medium sauce pan, turn heat to medium and brown the ground beef until 75% of the beef is browned. Add 1/4c of water to the meat, then stir in seasoning. Bring heat down to low and continue to cook and stir in seasoning until water is fully absorbed. Turn heat off and let sit.
  2. In your dish of choice, assemble the dip with sour cream at the bottom, adding the ground beef atop of the sour cream. Pour salsa and spread evenly across the ground beef, and sprinkle cheese to cover the top of the meat. Broil for 10m at 325 degrees. (or serve as is!). Serve with tortilla chips, pita chips, or solo.

Bolognese with Sweet Potato and Garlic Butter Zucchini

Alright, I must admit, this is not my recipe. *GASP*.  It’s my husband’s recipe and in fact when he makes it, his version always tastes better (you’re welcome babe.) Bolognese is something that can’t be done in 15-20m, but it’s possible in an hour.  The slow simmer of the meat and sauté of fresh veggies filling the air with scents that remind me of vacation in Florence.  The faint scent of sweet potato in the oven brings so much happiness to my belly and to my pooch who LOVES sweet potato (side note: sweet potato is one of the best starches for all species, more on that in a different post…)

What’s fun about bolognese is that it can be done with a variety of ingredients. We’re rather traditional and like our meat sauce to be marinara or tomato-based with fresh garlic (I throw in minced garlic too for the flavor), oregano, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder.  I start with browning the meat first as traditional bolognese sits on a low flame for hours and grows saturated with all the flavors.  I prefer to cook with grass-fed beef.  My reason? The quality, the taste, the COLOR is so much richer than conventional beef, and the animal it comes from is treated in a humane way and literally only fed grass, as they’re supposed to.  I usually buy my beef/chicken from Whole Foods or ButcherBox and their grass-fed beef is 10/10 every time.  I brown the meat in some oil with minced garlic and then add some jarred low sugar marinara sauce, stir it around and then add spices (oregano, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, and sea salt – can either be fresh or dried.. I use dried). Once this simmers for 15 minutes, I add my parmesan and creamer – this will thicken the bolognese and make it creamier! I like to use coconut creamer from Trader Joe’s because it just has a nice smooth texture with not a lot of coconut flavoring.  Continue to simmer for another 30 minutes. note: the bolognese can get salty and oily quickly, mind your oil and salt here!

I’m a sucker for zucchini in all forms, but sliced, sautéed in butter with garlic is my ultimate favorite.  I try to stick with organic or local produce as much as possible.  I am a firm believer that local is better and supporting small farms in the area really benefits more than just my family, but theirs and our community. These are from Whole Foods and were perfectly crisp as I sliced them. I sautéed in butter (#kerrygoldFTW) and sprinkled garlic powder right when they turned translucent (approx. 10m on med-low heat, covered).IMG_3649

The last few months I have tried to stay away from rice and pastas (heavier carbs and I are not BFFL anymore) so I find alternatives…alas, the sweet potato!  I love the bright orange color and how this potato is versatile: mashed, sautéed, fried, baked, the possibilities are endless!  I start with slicing them rather thin (1/4in), then cut the slices into quarters – they bake easier.  I toss in some avocado oil, lay on a pre-oiled pan, sprinkle some sea salt, and place in the middle rack of the oven.  I suck at timing things, but I’d say it takes about 15 minutes (on 325*) to really get the potatoes just soft enough to taste awesome. Enjoy this recipe y’all.. it’s one of my favs 🙂

 

Bolognese with Sweet Potato and Garlic Butter Zucchini

Bolognese with Sweet Potato and Garlic Butter Zucchini
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 2

Ingredients

  • 1 lb grass-fed or whatever you have available beef
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes sliced then quartered
  • 2 medium zucchini sliced thin
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 3 tbs butter
  • 2 tbsp oil for beef
  • Cooking spray for pan for sweet potato
  • 1 jar low-sugar marinara sauce
  • 1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 c cream or nondairy creamer
  • Oregano - to taste
  • Red pepper flakes - to taste
  • Garlic powder - to taste for beef and for zucchini
  • Sea salt

Instructions

  1. In a large pan, heat oil on medium heat. Add beef and break up into smaller pieces/to your liking. Stir the meat until 90% is browned. Here, add minced and chopped garlic. Continue to stir. Pour in marinara and stir around to coat the ground beef. Mix in your seasonings (red pepper flakes, salt, garlic powder, and oregano) and stir it all in! Let simmer for 15 minutes on medium low heat. After 15 minutes are up, pour in your creamer and parmesan cheese.
  2. Turn oven on to 325 degrees. Rinse and slice your potatoes to 1/4in circles, then cut the slices into quarters. Throw into a bowl and toss with your favorite oil (I like avocado or EVOO). Pour over a pre-greased pan and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 15 minutes on 325 (can lower heat if it's cooking too quick to 300) in middle rack of oven.
  3. Turn another pan onto medium heat with 3 tbsp butter to melt. Place zucchini slices into pan, toss to coat zucchini evenly. Let sauté for 5 minutes, toss again. Cover pan and let sit. Continue to check on zucchini ever 2-3 minutes as it will become translucent fast and start to burn. When most rounds are see-through, add garlic powder and turn down heat to low. Cover and cook for another 5-7 minutes, checking every so often to toss and stir. Once most pieces are tender, turn off flame and plate separate from the bolognese and sweet potato.
  4. Assemble bolognese with sweet potato at bottom, ladle two scoops of bolognese on top, and sprinkle with garnish such as cheese, more grated parm, or leave as is 🙂 Bon Appétit!

Recipe Notes

You do NOT need to add creamer if you don't want to! Please make this recipe your own. Add in different spices like coriander or maybe even cinnamon to give it a different taste. Making dinner for a larger family? Double the recipe (2lbs of meat instead of 1, etc.)

Maple Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Fat Bombs with Crushed Walnuts

I’ve always had an irrational fear of nuts.  I am allergic to cashews and pistachios (slightly to peanut) but all others I can eat.  Why was I so nervous to eat them you ask?  Not sure, again hence the word “irrational.”  In my quest to find an alternative nut butter, I decided to try and swap peanut butter for almond butter with not-so-good results… until I found Justin’s.  Justin’s almond butter has such a beautiful consistency and texture, along with a really powerful taste. This makes for a perfect snack.  For the last few month’s I thought about ways to incorporate almond butter into a sweet snack or dessert without making brownies or using flours. During research on high-fat, low-carb desserts, I came across the concept of a “fat bomb.

What exactly is a “fat bomb?”  It’s a dessert made predominately out of healthy fats.  Healthy fats are really integral for proper brain and digestive functioning, and I think as a society we’ve become so dependent on protein with almost always forgetting to incorporate fats into our meals. Well, think again sister!  This fat bomb is made from almond butter, brain octane oil (the highest form of coconut oil which will increase energy and brain performance), avocado oil, raw cacao and dark chocolate chips, and crushed walnuts on the outside.  For more of a kick, I added half a scoop of collagen powder. Collagen supports bone health as well as hair, skin, and nail growth.  For this recipe, I tampered around with the texture and added a bit of oil here, a dash of sea salt there, until I found a perfect harmony between the ingredients.fds.jpg

I started by crushing the walnuts as finely as possible (if you need to re-crush them by all means do so).  I laid them on a plate and put them aside for when I rolled the fat bomb into them.  For the mixture I used two bowls: one for the oils and maple syrup, the other for the almond butter and chocolate chips.  Scoop one cup of almond butter (be generous here) into a bowl and poured in the chocolate chips. I hand mixed these two ingredients around, then added in the brain octane and maple syrup and mixed again.  Afterwards, I poured in one tbsp of avocado oil to add more creaminess to the mixture as well as the cacao powder and collagen.  Last, pinch of sea salt and combined all ingredients until it formed a “flour-like” consistency.

I sprayed my hands with cooking spray (I use Trader Joe’s coconut spray) to form the balls.  I rolled each ball into the crushed walnuts and placed in a bowl, then onto a pre-greased tray.

After freezing them for a half hour, they came out nice a firm and were incredible! The bite of the chocolate chip alongside the crunch of the walnut really go hand in hand.  Let’s not forget the taste of the almond butter with the chocolate, #winning.  I can’t wait to experiment with more fat bomb concoctions: possibly some mint?  Enjoy!IMG_3681

Maple Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Fat Bombs with Crushed Walnuts

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 9 medium sized balls, or 12 small

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Justin's almond butter be generous!
  • 1 tbsp Bulletproof Brain Octane or high quality coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp Primal Kitchen's avocado oil
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 scoop cacao powder
  • 1/2 c chocolate chips - small size I used dark chocolate
  • 1/2 scoop Bulletproof collagen powder
  • Pinch of sea salt

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, add brain octane and maple syrup. Set aside. Pour walnuts into a ziplock bag; using the bottom of a can or a meat-cleaver, crush walnuts until desired consistency and size.
  2. In a medium bowl, scoop out the almond butter and add to bowl with chocolate chips. Mix by hand and add in avocado oil. Hand mix again and add in octane/syrup blend, cacao, collagen, sea salt. Continue to mix until all ingredients combine and form a "flour" consistency.
  3. Spray hands with cooking spray and form medium to small-sized balls, roll them into the crushed walnuts, and place on a tray or in a bowl (tray needs to be pre-greased). Place in freezer for 30-45 minutes. Serve immediately.

When in Europe, eat everything! Part III: London

I always wanted to visit London…

I went to an international camp where a lot of my counselors were from the United Kingdom and their accents swooned me.  I said to myself, “I am definitely going to visit one day.” Our final stop on our Eurotrip was London.  We stayed in Shoreditch, which is the Williamsburg of London; it was very artsy and hip and everyone had tattoos and dressed for themselves, not to impress others.  That’s what I loved about my time there.  Unfortunately, we had a bad experience with an AirBnB and needed to find different accommodations –> ACE Hotel in Shoreditch, THANK YOU! This hotel was super cool, had a chill vibe, and was still located in the heart of such a modernized area.  Now onto the food:  it was cool.  I mean listen, London isn’t known for food like Italy is, but we went on a serious food tour and had some of the best bites in London, ended up at a great pub for the BEST burger and shepherd’s pie, AND visited three food halls/ food markets. So yeah, we ate well 🙂

*Disclaimer:  There’s a lot of pictures of food below, please use caution, you will become ravenously hungry.


London

  • Eating London Food Tour: Alright, if you ever visit London, you really need to look this up.  The idea of this tour is to walk around the area (it was an East End food tour so basically the Bangladesh area and Shoreditch where we stayed).  We started at the Old Spitalfields Market (which was a hospital ground for the war…hence ‘spital).  Our guide Emily was AMAZE. She knew so much and had such a dry sense of humor (and we bonded over custard).
    • First stop: St. John’s –> bacon sandwich (my fav)
    • Second stop: The English Breakfast pub (one of the oldest in the area) for bread and butter pudding
    • Third stop: a charcuterie (I wasn’t a fan, so no pics).
    • Fourth stop: Poppie’s Fish and Chips
    • Fifth stop: the first pub in Shoreditch for some beer and cider
    • Sixth stop: Aladin for some traditional bangladeshi curry
    • Seventh stop: Beigel Bake (salt beef on a bagel with mustard and a gherkin)
    • Eighth and last stop: PizzaEast for salted caramel tart with chocolate ganache and tea

       

  • Dishoom:  Funny enough, my sister in law and her fiancé were in London the same time my hubs and I were so we decided to go to dinner together.  We tried Dishoom: a very popular Bombay style Indian food (London is particularly known for Indian foods and spices).  We weren’t really sure what to expect, but we had easily our favorite meal here.  We ordered at least 12 dishes (split before four of us which was plenty) including two different curries, samosas, three different breads, rice, daal, tikka masala, and more.  It was incredible! Also, their plates are baked with different quotes and phrases of former visitors to keep the feel of the Bombay cafe’s alive <3 IMG_3429
  • Camden Market: I heard about this from my sister and from Buzzfeed; when I realized there was a cheese bar the decision was made: we were going here.  We had finally understood how to use the underground and made our way there after Covent Gardens (sans anything fancy). We went to the Cheese Bar which is tucked away toward the back and to the right, known for its wall of different cheeses and grilled cheese.  Obviously, I had the grilled cheese — Troy had the mac and cheese, and we split the mozzarella sticks.  Also, their rosemary lemonade gave me life.  This is a must visit.
  • Crosstown Doughnuts: To be real, I’m not much of a doughnut person, but these babies looked bangin’.  I mean, they’re sourdough doughnuts and anyone that knows me understands how much I LOVE sourdough bread. They’re made fresh daily, and there are a few locations in London.  We visited the one in Shoreditch on our last day in Europe. Troy had the banana cream and he described it as “You can taste the banana is real banana” and I had the cinnamon scroll (like a traditional cinnamon roll) which was to die for.IMG_3580
  • Borough Market: We stumbled here after touring the Tower Bridge, London Bridge, and all things you’re supposed to do as a tourist (Buckingham Palace, included).  This is very similar to Smorgasburg in brooklyn and we were not disappointed.  Lots of different choices here, we landed on a bratwurst with kraut and mustard/mayo combo, and chicken-rice Ethiopian food.  Must go!  It’s right down the block from the London Bridge. so it’s worth finding.
  • Windmill Mayfair: After having not such a good experience with Italian food the night prior, I told Troy he was in charge of finding food for our last night in London.  He did NOT disappoint.  We had to go near Piccadilly Circus, which was fine because it was fun to travel back that direction at night.  We walked for some while until we reached this swanky looking street with this swanky looking bar.  We sat ourselves down and ordered drinks: a cider for moi, a beer for hubs.  We ordered: Dorset Lamb shepherd’s pie, a burger, and a side of creamed spinach (I was DYING for some greens).  The food here was ridiculous.  Hands down the best burger I’ve ever consumed, as well as the spinach (i’ll be attempting to recreate this soon).  Troy said the shepherd’s pie was unreal as well.  Job well done, babe.

     

PHEW, that was a lot of food pictures and reliving the amazing things we ate on vacation!  I hope these Europe posts inspire you to travel, to enjoy food with great company, and to smile the entire time.

When in Europe, eat everything! Part II: Amsterdam

Proust!

That’s how you say “cheers” in Dutch, as Ian our incredible tour guide told us while we had seven (yes, SEVEN) beers at the Heineken Experience in Amsterdam last week.

I would be remiss if I did not vouch for how beautiful and charming of a city Amsterdam is.  Of course there’s the taboo “coffeeshops” and the Red Light District, but if I’m honest, the food was really spot on and I loved everything we ate during our time in ‘Dam.

*P.S.: I had fries every day in Amsterdam. No shame.*


Amsterdam

  • Loetje Restaurant: This spot was literally right outside of Amsterdam Centraal station and of course we got lost finding it.  We were so hungry!!  After finally stumbling in (and passing it twice…) we sat at the bar: Troy ordered his Heineken and I ordered my champs (shocker, I know).  We sat and ordered the infamous Bitterballen (fried balls of some sort of bechamel sauce with beef in them), Kaasstengels (fried cheese sticks), and burgers with frites in a MAYO. DIPPING. SAUCE. Let me repeat for those in the back…MAYO DIPPING SAUCE.
  • De Foodhallen:  This is incredibly similar to Dekalb Market Hall or Smorgasburg (only indoors).  So many local and delicious vendors rent space to showcase their foods in the south of Amsterdam.  We figured why not, we love food and love walking so let’s combine the two and venture about an hour from the Anne Frank House to eat some food… YASSS. *pictured in order: Shanghai dumplings, pulled pork sandwich on sourdough with slaw, “Fresh and Funky Dog” with tzatziki sauce and relish, chicken kebab pita with the fixings.
  •  Mook Pancakes: We were in need of some sweet and blog-worthy pancakes (or waffles) and research brought us here.  We LOVED our pancakes.  Three large stacks of buttermilk pancakes with banana/chocolate/PB and the other (mine) with grated coconut/banana/strawberries/blueberries. I had to be like the cool kids and get a fresh pressed ginger shot (which nearly killed me) and a cappuccino. So yum!
  • Heineken Experience: Now, this did not involve food but it was one of the highlights of our Eurotrip.  We opted for the VIP tour (#ballin) and got a private tasting in a private bar.  It was unreal.  We learned the history of the beer, the production, how secretive their “A” yeast is, and that really fresh, cold Heineken actually tastes good.  Planning a trip to Amsterdam? You must go here.

     

    Stay tuned for Eurotrip Part III: London…where our AirBnB was a hot mess and we ate at three (yep, three) different food markets!