Prosciutto, Mint, and Melon Appetizers (Or A Baby Shower Brunch Idea!)

Yesterday, I was playing around with prosciutto to see if perhaps I might want to do a proscuitto, melon, and mint appetizer for my friend’s baby shower on Saturday.

There's melon in there somewhere.

There’s melon in there somewhere.

I was wrapping mint leaves and the cured meat around balls of cantaloup, when I received word that the shower was off.

Yup, you guessed it… another baby shower canceled due to the early arrival of another baby boy!

Finnie is a big brother now! Yay!!!

Declan is happy and healthy, and so is his mommy, and while I’m disappointed we won’t be stuffing our faces with pork products in his honor this weekend, I’m looking forward to holding him instead really soon!

Also?

I’ll never forget his birthday because he now shares one with my baby who turned four yesterday. ❤

SO not the same thing as a human baby. I know.

SO not the same thing, but I love him with all my heart. And that counts for something, right?

XOXO

Happy Birthday, Bubba! (Or Paleo Cilantro Chicken for the Birthday Boy!)

Today is my dog’s fourth birthday. And while I’m tempted to get out my glittery markers to make him a hat, I think he’d prefer kisses and a fistful of meat instead.

What's this I'm hearing about a hat?

What’s this I’m hearing about a hat?

Last night I made a super delicious chicken dish, and I saved some chicken scraps for him. Maybe we’ll sing “Happy Birthday” and make it a proper celebration with candles and everything. (I need help. Clearly.)

Or maybe we’ll just go for a hike and snuggle on the couch together.

I hate snuggling. Just give me chicken.

I hate snuggling. Just give me chicken.

If you want to know why he’s so fixated on the chicken, here’s why:

It's somewhere under that pile of pears, cilantro, and celery. I swear.

It’s somewhere under that pile of pears, cilantro, and celery. I swear.

I found the recipe in this great gallery of 22 Paleo-friendly recipes from Bon Appetit.

I’ll be honest, though, I didn’t really follow it closely when it came to the ratio of lime juice, cilantro, celery, or pears. I just piled it all on. (I look at savory recipes like speed limits — polite suggestions for minimizing mayhem and mishaps.)

So basically my version just goes like this.

Celery, Cilantro, and Pear Chicken with Lime

4 celery stalks, sliced
2 Asian pears, thinly sliced
A heaping pile of cilantro leaves
Juice from 1 fresh lime
2 chicken breasts
Olive oil

Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Don’t bother pounding them. I think it yields a negligible benefit, frankly. Cook the chicken breasts in a cast iron skillet with a little bit of olive oil — in the stove at 350 or on the burner — whatever your preferred method. (I’d give you cooking times but my stove is whack so it wouldn’t be useful. Just don’t overcook them. Chicken seriously sucks when it’s dry.)

Meanwhile, slice the pear and celery. Squeeze lime juice over the sliced stuff, throw in cilantro, and season with salt and pepper to taste. (This limey salad can be made the night before if you’d like. It’s almost better the next day, actually.)

Remove chicken from heat, cover in fruity, veggie lime mixture. Devour.

And maybe save some of the chicken scraps for your birthday boy.

You owe me more than scraps for this, woman.

You owe me more than scraps for this, woman.

Already Getting My Happy Bunny On! (Or Fresh Pea Soup for Easter… Maybe)

Wanna know something?

Caspari paper products make me happy — particularly their holiday themed hankies. When I noticed that they had Easter options at the grocery store today, I got giddy… and bought some.

Duh.

Bunnies! I die.

It’s going to be like carrying Peter Rabbit in my purse for the next month!

YAY!!!

Wanna know something else?

I prefer Easter to Christmas.

There. I said it. That probably sounds whacked, but whatever. I don’t care.

It all started in 2002….

It was my first Easter in Los Angeles, and my first Easter away from home. I didn’t have actual biological family to celebrate with, so my roommate and I decided to throw a family dinner for our friends.

We both gave stuff up for Lent and couldn’t wait to let loose when it was over. She gave up chocolate, but I swear I suffered more because I gave up alcohol AND went to Vegas with her for St. Patrick’s Day. I’m not even kidding. It was my first time EVER in Vegas, and I didn’t have a drop of anything — not even communion wine — even though St. Paddy’s fell on a Sunday that year.

For 24 hours I watched all of America chain smoke, binge drink, and gamble away their 401Ks — sober. On a stool. I felt like an anthropologist studying monkeys that were flinging poo at the zoo. If I’m being honest with you, I think the hardest part of the trip may have been surviving the sheets at the Stratosphere stone. cold. sober.

Anyway… I digress.

Family dinners! That’s where I was. We decided to throw one for our friends because we were away from our own families, and that dinner marked the beginning of a beautiful tradition celebrating the friends who have become family. It’s a tradition I love. Deeply.

BTW.. and just for the record… I know the season is not entirely about the end of my suffering because nothing I give up could ever come close to the sacrifice that we celebrate this time of year, so I really look at it as a celebration of my amazing friendships and a chance for new beginnings for all of us. ❤

Since I’m trying to keep my philosophizing to a minimum on this blog, you can find more of my thoughts on Easter/religion/life/death/sex/and/basically everything in between on my other blog here.

Back to Easter dinner…

Over the years the menu and the venue has has gone through many iterations, but the one thing that has remained constant is that I make a lot of food as a way of saying, “I super like you. Want me to show you how much by force-feeding you pig products?”

This year my friend Nicole and I are talking about doing a traditional spread with a spiral ham, my fennel scalloped potatoes, and her darling lamb-shaped butter! It’s all still TBD, but it’s never too early to get excited about eating PIG!

Since ham can be salty and heavy, I want to have some light, fresh dishes to accompany it. I recently made a fresh pea soup with mint, and I’ve been thinking it might be a fun, fresh addition to the menu this year.

A confession…

I don’t love peas by themselves, but for some reason I SUPER LOVE them in this soup.

See?

Mmm, minty peas!

Mmm, minty fresh peas!

Here’s the recipe, just in case you want to get into it….

Minty Pea Soup

3 T unsalted butter (it’s also good with 3 T coconut oil)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 16-oz packages of frozen peas
4-6 C of chicken broth
1/2 C of mint
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter. Cook onions until tender but do not allow them to brown. (About 6-8 minutes.) Add 2 C of broth. Bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer. Add peas. Cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Add mint and puree with remaining broth. Add broth by 1/2 C to achieve desired consistency. (I recommend an immersion blender for this.)

Salt and pepper to taste. Can be served hot or cold. I add extra mint for garnish.

It’s based on this Bon Appetit recipe from Epicurious, which is also very good. My version is more Paleo-friendly.

OK, I’m off to finish my script. My long lost Melissa is back in LA, and I owe her my fourth draft. It’s kinda sorta done. I just need to read through it a few times to do some polishing for her.

YAY!!!

So Good I Eat ‘Em With a Spoon (Or Low Carb Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes)

This morning I’m munching on my delicious cookie dough breakfast balls, sipping my whole milk latte, and listening to Tritonal’s “Seraphic” absolutely on repeat. If you don’t know it, you should.

The song is helping me write my script. It’s also perfect for dancing alone in my living room because nothing unlocks me — or the emotions I’m usually not in touch with — like music.

ANYWAY, enough about Tritonal, my emotional retardation, and my addiction to cookie dough breakfast balls. It’s time to talk about cauliflower mash.

Cauliflower mash is SO FREAKING GOOD I can eat it by itself. Cold. With a spoon.

I made it to go with my maple chili pork chops, but I made extra and I’ve been eating it all week — with almost everything. Or by itself. Cold. With a spoon. (Are you picking up on my obsession yet?)

Wanna see the mash in all its glory?

Fluffy. Creamy. Beyond.

Fluffy. Creamy. Beyond.

I ate the maple chili pork chop two nights in a row. Why not? (There were two in the package, and I live alone, so…)

The second night I added a little of the maple glaze to the mashed potatoes and they went from amazing to EXTRA amazing. Another time I added a little sour cream to them at lunch to make them a full meal.

Whatever turns you on, right?

Here’s the recipe.

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

1 head of steamed cauliflower
3 small red skinned potatoes, steamed, skin-on
1 T cream cheese
Approximately 1/3 C of chicken broth, or to desired consistency
Sea salt and cracked black pepper, to taste.

Steam the cauliflower and potatoes in separate pots, and then combine into one. (They have separate cooking times.)

Add cream cheese while the vegetables are still warm. Add chicken broth and blend everything together. I used an immersion blender to puree because I’m in love with mine. I’m sure a mixer would work too.

*If you want to make them more Paleo-friendly you could skip the creamed cheese and the three red skinned potatoes, but it’s up to you. 

Blend. Devour.

That is all.

Maple Chili Pork Chops (Or Sweet, Sweet Meaty Sin!)

I made things. Meaty things. With maple syrup.

It was such sweet, sweet sin.

See?

This bone-in business is beyond.

This bone-in business is beyond.

I live for spicy, and while the recipe for maple chili pork chops didn’t push my spicy envelope, it had a nice kick. The maple adds a sweet zing without overpowering the meat or the heat. It’s also not crazy on the glycemic index if you’re concerned with that sort of thing. (So actually not so sinful after all….)

My only confusion is that the recipe calls for ground red pepper AND cayenne, and all of my research indicates they’re one in the same. I opted for 1 tsp of cayenne, but I’m sure it would be fine with 1 1/2 tsp of cayenne. I also used kosher salt instead of table salt because it seemed like a lot of salt otherwise.

It was delicious. The recipe is here in case you want to make it yourself. It’s another PaleOMG recipe because I just can’t stop when it comes to that site. I’m like this with her recipes.

I’ll hook you up with my cauliflower mash recipe later. You’re welcome for that. In advance.

In other news, the bubba seems to be feeling better, and he’s finally ready for yoga.

You want me to do WHAT with this block?

You want me to do WHAT with this block?

OK, maybe he isn’t ready for yoga, but I am.

I’m off to CorePower now.

Kisses. Cauliflower mash later. I promise.

XOXO

Cookie Dough Protein Balls from PaleOMG (Or OMG, Balls for Breakfast!)

Guys, guess what? It’s Ash Wednesday! (Or the day everyone in LA tells me I have stuff on my face.)

See?

Excuse my hair situation. I woke up at 5:30 to get stuff on my face.

Stuff on my face.

It might seem strange that I get excited to let something go for Lent, but I love this time of year. I really do. There’s something about celebrating a season of new beginnings on Easter after 40 days of sacrifice and contemplation that just feels super cleansing. But maybe that’s just me. (More on that here.)

If you’re wondering why I’m wearing a purple Tinkerbell apron it’s because it matches my sweater (true story), and also because the photo was taken moments before I got into some Paleo-approved magic in my kitchen.

My friend Mike sent me this recipe for PaleOMG’s Protein Cookie Dough Balls*, and given that cookie dough is kinda like my kryptonite I figured they were worth a shot.

I’ll spare you the suspense… they were.

They can't stop.

Even my dinos were way into them.

I think these just might be my new breakfast obsession. I’m running the numbers, and I think they win the affordability battle over Luna Bars.

Besides, they’re balls. out. delicious.

*Full disclosure:

I didn’t use the protein powder in the recipe (which is why they’re dark). I opted for Trader Joe’s vanilla flavored hemp protein because everything’s cheaper at Trader Joe’s, and I refuse to go traipsing all over LA to find a protein powder that probably costs 9X as much somewhere else. Hemp is gluten free, so I’m not sure why the protein powder isn’t labeled as such, but I’m not losing any sleep over it.

I also used Kroger mini-chocolate chips because I already had them in the house. (Most semi-sweet chocolate is gluten free anyway.)

Finally, I used 1 1/2 T of coconut oil instead of 2T of coconut butter because I had the former and could not rationalize investing in the latter for just one recipe. 

All of THAT boils down to THIS: my frugality didn’t wreck the recipe. They’re delicious.

Adventures! (Or Love and Laughs)

My westside Valentine’s Day weekend was so much fun! There were some curveballs adventures, along the way, but whatever. Isn’t life basically just a series of beautiful messes events that don’t go exactly as planned?

I had an Australian guest staying at my place while I was gone, and I wanted to make sure my bedding was laundered by proper professionals for her, and that was the first thing that didn’t go exactly as planned. The short version of that cluster f*#$ involved me borrowing extra bedding from my friend Anna, and some serious discounts from a very contrite crew at my neighborhood cleaners. When I went to Anna’s to get her bedding, she handed it over along with the delicious breakfast sandwich she made especially for me!

Isn’t that the sweetest?

It had fresh squeezed lemon and shredded cucumbers in it. It was so yummy that I even cheated on my caveman diet for it.

It involved fresh squeezed lemon and shredded cucumbers. It was so yummy that I even cheated on my caveman meal plan and got into the bread like a beast.

Shortly after rectifying the bed situation, I heard from my Australian friend that she had missed her connecting flight and would not be landing until after midnight. This meant I didn’t get to my friends’ spot in Culver City until after 2 am. They left the keys outside for me, but they have a tricky door….

The first time I tried to put the key into the lock, the entire lock assembly came out in. my. hand. I’ll spare you the rest of the details that involve me sleeping in my car and peeing in their yard twice… and I’ll just cut to my 5:30 am rescue.

My friends found me wearing two layers of clothes, wrapped in a yoga blanket, and covered with a dog bed in the front seat of my car.

IMG_1142

Obviously, I had my own pillow with me.

We laughed. A lot.

Once I got inside, I was greeted by this darling towel display from my friend, Nicole.

Don't you wish your friends were this cute?

Don’t you wish your friends were this cute?

There were a lot of laughs all weekend, a trip to the movies, the bar for Valentine’s Day, game night in the marina, and even a trip to Surfas.

Surfas is a restaurant supply store, and their selection of sprinkles gives me evil genius ideas.

It’s like the Roy G Biv of candied sugar up in here.

For game night, I made my now famous peanut butter dip. I molded it into a heart because peanut butter dip can be shaped into anything.

Who knew?

It turns out peanut butter dip is more fun to shape than clay.

It’s like clay, only SO much better ‘cuz you can cover it in sprinkles and eat it with a spoon.

Everyone at game night was ALL ABOUT IT.

IMG_1144

Here’s Bryan waiting patiently for permission to attack it like a savage.

I also got to meet my friend Tony’s twins for the first time. They’re scrumptious! My photos don’t do darling Beau and Bay justice, so you’re just going to have to wait to see that double baby goodness another time. (Post here.)

Now I’m home with my own baby who ate something strange at daycare, and he’s having tummy issues. I keep kissing his head and telling him to puke on my exposed concrete floor instead of my $800 Anthropologie rug.

Don't worry, Boo, I love you more than any Anthropologie rug. Forever and ever. I promise.

Don’t worry, Boo, I love you more than any $800 rug on the planet. Forever and ever. I promise.

I’m staying home from my writers’ group tonight to keep an eye on my monkey and make sure he’s happy — all while making myself a spicy paleo pork chop with maple syrup.

More on that later. (Story here.)

XOXO