Recipes

Ratatouille

No, this post is not about the most incredible Pixar animated movie Ratatouille, but it does have to do with the dish that’s in it!  There is nothing better than slow-cooked vegetables in a beautifully decadent tomato sauce with a side of roasted vegetables (I’m obsessed with roasted broccoli, FYI.)

Picture this: perfectly ripe eggplant, crisp zucchini, plump tomatoes, onion, garlic, a dash of salt, garlic, a pinch of parmesan cheese… YASSSS HONEY!  I stumbled upon this recipe by trying to make something different, apparently Troy wanted a dish similar to eggplant parm, but he said “You know, the stew thing with the eggplant.” Needless to say, this went over just fine (and is great with rice, but tonight, we go sans starch).

I prep by cutting relatively thick slices of eggplant and zucchini, then dice up a full yellow onion and 2 cloves garlic, and two tbsp of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) in a dutch oven.  Let the oil get hot then add the eggplant, Toss for several minutes until the eggplant is a little tender and brown.  Repeat the same for the zucchini.  This allows the oil at the bottom of the dutch oven to absorb some of the flavors from the veggies.  I add the onion and garlic and until fragrant and translucent.

In goes the marinara and Roma tomatoes, salt, garlic powder, a bit of parmesan, and add back the eggplant and zucchini.  This sits on low heat for a while (or until the eggplant is really tender and “stew” consistency); at this point, I prep the broccoli and brussel sprouts by trimming and cutting as needed.  I toss in some EVOO and spread on a pre-greased pan.  Sprinkle fresh ground pepper and sea salt, bake in the oven for 15-20m and then layer cheese of your choice to broil until browned on top.  Voila! Ratatouille a la Morgan 🙂 Enjoy!

Ratatouille

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 8

Ingredients

  • 2 jars of low sugar marinara sauce
  • 1 large eggplant sliced then quartered
  • 2 medium zucchini or one large sliced then quartered
  • 2 medium Roma tomatoes diced
  • 5 tbsp EVOO
  • 2 cloves garlic diced
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 bag pre-washed broccoli
  • 1 bag pre-washed brussel sprouts

Instructions

  1. Chop and quarter the eggplant and zucchini and put them in separate bowls. Dice the onion and garlic and set aside.
  2. Add 2 tbsp of oil to the dutch oven (or deep pan) and heat on medium-high heat. Add eggplant and stir until most of the eggplant has turned a darker color (and is fragrant). Don't worry if the eggplant absorbs a lot of the oil, it will still cook! After 4-5 minutes, take out eggplant and add another tbsp of oil to the dutch oven. Pour in zucchini and sauté until lightly brown. Take out and set aside.Add another tbsp of oil to the pan and sauté onion and garlic. Lower heat to medium and continue to stir until translucent and fragrant. Add the marinara sauce, Roma tomatoes, and the sautéed eggplant and zucchini. Stir.
  3. Add fresh grated parmesan if desired and season with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer on low heat for 45 minutes.
  4. Slice brussel sprouts and broccoli and add to bowl with 2 tbsp oil. Toss to ensure all veggies are coated. Lay on a pre-greased pan and season with salt and pepper. Place in middle rack of oven and bake for 15m at 350*
  5. After the vegetables bake for 15-20m, turn the oven to broil and sprinkle cheese of your choice and broil for 5 minutes or until the cheese is brown.
  6. Serve immediately.

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.

Cassava Flour Chicken Parmigiana

What comes to mind when you think of chicken parmigiana?  The crispy, buttery, breading-coated chicken cutlet, adorned with drool-inspiring fresh mozzarella cheese topped with marinara sauce and draped in basil.  *wipes drool from face*.

This version is a modernized and healthier twist on the classic Chick Parm. It doesn’t have breadcrumbs, it does use loads of butter and avocado oil, and fresh made “summer sauce” like my mom used to make.  It starts with the tomatoes.  I always choose fresh, organic Roma tomatoes to stew down in some oil and garlic, to bring the aromas to life.  They stew for at least an hour to allow for the skins to break away from the meat of the tomato.  I like to add in some chopped basil towards the end of the simmering tomatoes as it adds beautiful aromas and color, as well as basil tastes great so why not?  After a solid 40 minutes of the tomatoes simmering, the skins should be pretty much pulled back and will look like a “sauce” – this is what you want!  This will layer on top of the chicken and mozzarella too.

What I love about using cassava flour is that it is ground yucca root and while it is a bit carb-y, it’s still paleo friendly and digests quicker than other flours and obviously better than using breadcrumbs.  I will always love a good cutlet, but cassava flour really makes the chicken ultra juicy and tender.  My preferred brand of cassava is Otto’s Cassava Flour: I just find it to be super milled and light, it has a very mild taste as well and I like to put the flour in a large mason jar with some dried oregano, rosemary, and parsley to add the “italiano” flavorings (Thank you to my incredible friend and mentor Andrea aka The Enlightened Culinist for showing me how this is done.

*sidenote, if you really want to be uber inspired I recommend going over to her instagram account @theenlightenedculinist for incredible food and her journey*

Battering the chicken with this flour could not be easier as you just filet the breasts (I tend to use Bell and Evan’s organic chicken breasts and filet them to make two from one) and then place them in the flour on a plate.  Let them absorb the flour as much as possible and let them sit for a few minutes.  I usually cut the mozzarella at this time so that once the chicken is done cooking, I can layer the cheese on top and allow it to slowly melt on the chicken, hence the “parmigiana” of the dish.

After the chicken is done, assemble the parm!  First, lay the mozz down, then ladle a generous amount of the summer sauce on top of the chicken.  You can pair this with sautéed zucchini (as pictured) roasted broccoli, cauliflower, pasta even!  I love this dish as it’s so versatile and is done rather quickly.  I’m ready for dinner now…bon appetit!

Cassava Flour Chicken Parmigiana

Cassava Flour Chicken Parmigiana
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 3

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs organic chicken breast
  • 1/2 c cassava flour I like Otto's Cassava Flour --> found on Amazon
  • 1 ball of fresh Mozzarella cheese - sliced
  • 3 tbsp butter more if needed for frying
  • 6-8 organic Roma tomatoes - sliced in four
  • 4 tbsp avocado or coconut oil
  • 3 cloves garlic - sliced
  • Basil - handful
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Instructions

  1. Pour oil of choice into a deep frying pan. Turn heat onto medium to let oil heat up. Slice tomatoes into four (oblong shape) and place tomatoes in the pan. Stir tomatoes around until they're nice and coated with oil. Cover and let sit on a medium low flame for 20 minutes. Peel and slice up three cloves of garlic and add the garlic after the tomatoes stew for 20 minutes. Chop and add the basil.
  2. Rinse and filet the chicken breasts so that they are thin. Trim the fat off the breasts. Season the chicken with a generous amount of salt and pepper (I use pink himalayan sea salt and fresh cracked pepper). Pour the cassava flour onto a plate and gently place the chicken breasts one by one into the flour. Turn the chicken over and repeat to other side. Place on separate plate or at one side of the flour plate. Let sit.
  3. Stir and "smash" the tomatoes so they become soft and more like a sauce, the skins should be off the tomatoes at this time. Let sit for another 20minutes and stir occasionally to ensure it does not burn. Add salt if desired.
  4. In a medium fry pan, add the butter and melt over a medium heat. Add two pieces of chicken at a time, 7-8 minutes on each side (you want the chicken to really resemble 'breadcrumbs' so the chicken being a little dark is totally fine.). Repeat for the remaining chicken and place on a dish. Add the sliced mozzarella (one slice per chicken) so it begins to soften.
  5. Ladle the tomato sauce on top of the chicken and serve with your favorite veggie or pasta. Add a little extra basil for garnish if desired. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

I tend to eyeball with measurements so if you need more oil, add more. If you need more butter for frying the chicken, do it.