Last Minute Meatballs

I had forgotten to go to the grocery store, as is my wont, and needed to figure out something quick. I knew I had ground beef but I didn’t have the onion or tomato paste for my favorite meatloaf. It was chilly and I didn’t want to go outside for grilling, so no burgers. I then remembered that I had a “bag” of Hak’s One Pot Sauce in Korean BBQ and could whip up some meatballs using my Instant Pot. The house smelled amazing even three hours later when I went to bed. And it was as deeeeeelish as it smelled.


  • 1 package grass fed ground beef
  • 1 cup of dried mixed mushrooms soaked for 15 minutes in hot water
  • 1/4 cup of ground flax seed
  • 1/4 cup of panko breadcrumbs
  • salt / pepper
  • splash of red wine
  • 1 egg
  • 1 package of Hak’s One Pot Sauce in Korean BBQ


Mince drained mushrooms with hand blender and red wine. In bowl, mix beef, mushrooms, flax, panko, egg, 2 tablespoons of the Hak’s sauce, and salt and pepper.

Gently roll into 1.5″ balls.

Heat Instant Pot in saute mode until hot. Add olive oil generously to coat pan (these stick). Saute (in batches if necessary) meatballs, about 2 minutes on each side. Once all are seared, add them back to the Instant Pot, pour in remaining Hak’s sauce and close lid. Turn Instant Pot to Manual 10 minutes (ensure the valve is closed) an wait. Once the time is up, take off the top and leave on the counter in “stay warm” mode for 30 minutes, letting the sauce cook down, pouring the sauce over the meatballs occasionally.

Serve over rice or cauliflower rice or vegetables. It went well with a crisp cabbage and kale side salad.

Turkey Meatloaf

The hubs isn’t the biggest fan of meatloaf…but I love it. So when he goes away, I sometimes take that opportunity (if I’m not just snacking for meals – hello apples and peanut butter!) to make it! And meatloaf, when you take away some of the things that I can’t eat right now (bread, sugar, dairy, etc.) could end up dry. But not the way *I* cook it!

The secret ingredients? Mushrooms, ground flax seed, bacon grease, and tomato paste. Moist, flavorful, yummy! And totally Whole Life Challenge compliant…should that be your wont.

OH! And a few days ago I made my caramelized onion and mushroom marmalade (again, with no sugar) which makes the PERFECT topping for this meatloaf.



  • 1 package of ground turkey
  • Half of a large onion
  • 1 cup of large crimini mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons of leftover bacon grease (or butter…or the fat of your choosing)
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons of ground flax seed
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten or 3 tablespoons of egg white (I used egg white because it was what I had on hand today)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Splash of balsamic vinegar

This is soooo easy. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a food processor, pulverize the mushrooms and the onion…but not into a paste. Stop when the are in very small pieces.

On the stovetop, heat the bacon grease until melted and add the mushroom and onion mixture. As it cooks through, add the tomato paste, salt and pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook for about 5 minutes. Just before cooked, mix in the splash of balsamic vinegar.

Once cooked, in a large bowl, by hand gently mix the mushroom and onion mixture, the ground turkey, the flax seed, and the eggs. It will be wet…and this is a very good thing. The wetter the more moist it will be when cooked. Pour the bowl into a coated loaf pan (if you don’t have a loaf pan, you can shape the meatloaf into an oval on a silpat covered cookie sheet).

Cook for 40 minutes or until the internal temp is 160 degrees. While cooking, heat the onion and mushroom marmalade on the stovetop. Pour over the meatloaf slice and serve!


Salmon, grapefruit, avocado, and warm kale salad 

You guys. YOU GUYS! This salad I conjured up last night while trying to avoid cooking in front of Hubs (who is doing the master cleanse lemon/maple syrup/cayenne drink thing for 3 days) was spectacular. And so easy.

Ingredients (feeds 2):

  • 1 large grapefruit 
  • 1 large just ripe avocado
  • 1 can of sockeye salmon
  • 2 large handfuls of baby kale
  • Regular olive oil for cooking the kale
  • Meyer lemon olive oil for dressing
  • Fig balsamic vinegar for dressing
  • Half a lemon
  • Salt and pepper

Peel and segment the grapefruit. Put in large bowl. In a separate bowl, squeeze the juice of the inside of the grapefruit for the dressing.

In a hot pan, add the cooking olive oil and once shimmering, cook the kale until crispy and warmed through.

In the large bowl, cut the avocado into half inch chunks. Open the can of salmon (you can use fresh but this was intended to be quick), and after draining the juices, put it into the bowl. Once the kale is cooked through, add that to the large bowl. 

In the dressing bowl, add to the grapefruit juice a tablespoon of the Meyer lemon olive oil, two teaspoons of the fig balsamic, and salt and pepper to taste. Squeeze in half a lemon, as well. Whisk thoroughly. And toss the dressing with the salad. Voila! 

Back In The Game – Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

I haven’t really been cooking anything NEW recently. I’ve been cooking a lot but really just the same ol’, same ol’. Like cauliflower purée for a party, or beef stew for dinner, or baked chicken with roasted veggies. Great food…just nothing new.

And then my amazing friend Wes gave me an instant pot. And I’m experimenting. Tonight I made butternut squash soup.

It’s been raining for days and more than half of our house is sick…what is better than a rich, satisfying, warm soup? 

I’m not going to into too many details about cooking with the instant pot but instead I’ll tell you the ingredients. 


  • 2 lbs peeled and cubes butternut squash
  • 2 gala apples cubed (peel on)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2″ of fresh ginger
  • 2 tsps of nutmeg
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • 1 sprig of sage
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 cups of chicken stock 
  • A few strips of thick cut back cut into one inch pieces or lardons if available
  • Handful of spinach per person

I sautéed in olive oil the onions with the sage, salt and pepper, and half of the ginger. When soft I added in the butternut squash and the apples, the nutmeg and the rest of the ginger and let that cook for a bit to brown. I then added the stock and mixed it all up before pressure cooking the soup for 10 minutes. Once releasing the steam, I put in the lemon zest and juice and puréed the mixture with my immersion blender. It tastes outstanding. But to make it more of a meal, I cooked some bacon to put on top after pouring the soup over the spinach. Majorly delish and so quick with the instant pot. 

Zoodles with chicken, asparagus, corn and cherry tomatoes in avocado basil sauce

This one was spectacular. I almost slurped the sauce afterwards. It was filling and light at the same time. I will make this again and again.


Ingredients (feeds three adults):

  • 1 boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 large (straight) zucchinis
  • 1 cup of sweet corn kernals
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 15 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 large, very ripe avocado
  • 1 large dollop of plain yogurt
  • 1 handful of large basil leaves
  • 1 large lemon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Create the zoodles out of your large zucchini using a spiralizer and set aside.

Clean chicken pieces of extraneous fat and cut into equal sized pieces…about 3/4 inch.  Add salt and pepper and let that sit for a few minutes. In a medium/hot pan, add a bit of cooking fat (olive oil, butter, bacon fat – your choice) and once glistening, add the chicken. It will cook quickly so keep an eye on it. While that cooks (don’t forget to flip once the bottom side is lightly browned), cut the cleaned asparagus (tough ends snapped off) into 3/4 inch pieces.

When the chicken is finished cooking, set it aside in a bowl, leaving the cooking fat in the pan. Add the asparagus and let that cook until slightly softened. Add the corn to the pan, and then the halved cherry tomatoes. Add salt and pepper and mix. Let this sit and cook on medium heat. A few minutes before “done” add in the zoodles to soften.

While the vegetables cook, prepare the sauce. I used a hand blender this time but you can also use a food processor. Blend the avocado, the basil, salt and pepper to taste, and then the juice and zest of the lemon for a quick bit and then add, slowly, the two tablespoons of olive oil.

Once the vegetables are cooked through, mix in the sauce and the chicken. And serve! This would be really good with parmesan, but I’m currently avoiding dairy. So that one is up to you!


All in chicken and veg salad

We went to a friend’s tonight for a BBQ and, as we are in the last weeks of the Whole Life Challenge still, I brought a salad that those of us eating that way could eat, no guilt involved. I didn’t go to the store so this was mostly veg that needed to be used and frozen veg…a clean out the fridge affair.

Ingredients (serves 5-8)

  • Four boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded so that all breasts are evenly thick
  • One Vidalia onion, peeled and cut first into thin rings and then into halves
  • About 10 mini portobello mushrooms, cut thinly lengthwise, stem to top
  • One zucchini, cut into half inch discs and then quartered
  • One package frozen, cubed butternut squash, defrosted
  • Four pre-roasted beets, sliced into half inch rounds and quartered 
  • Ten baby carrots, cut lengthwise and then into thirds
  • Half a bag of Trader Joe’s roasted corn
  • Three large handfuls of baby spinach 
  • A quarter of a cup of pine nuts
  • One large fresh peach 
  • Leftover bacon lard or butter/oil of your choice
  • Dressing: olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, dried Italian herb mix, salt, pepper (to taste)

First things first, brine the boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to even thickness, for about 30 minutes. While that brines, get the onion/mushroom base of the salad ready.

On medium/low heat, add some bacon fat to the warm pan. First add the thinly sliced then quartered onions to the pan when the fat is hot. When they become translucent, add the mushrooms. Let them cook, stirring often. Add some salt and pepper and keep stirring. The water will release and you’ll think it’s ruined but keep cooking. That will dry out and the onions and mushrooms will get a nice crust on them. Cook until the mushrooms have shriveled and are browning.

In a separate pan or after the onion/mushroom mixture is done, start the rest of the veg. Salt the zucchini and dry off the butternut squash. Get a pan hot and add the fat of your choice. Then cook those three ingredients until the butternut squash is cooked through and browning. Add the beets and corn. Cook until warmed through.

The onions should be done now. Clean out the pan, get the same pan (on which you can put a tight lid) hot again, and then add some more fat. Dry the chicken well with paper towels. Add salt and pepper. When the pan is warmed and coating the pan, put the chicken breasts in the pan for about a minute or until the chicken is lightly browned on one side. Once the chicken is browned, flip the chicken, turn the heat to medium/low and put a lid on. Do not remove the lid until 10 minutes later (don’t cheat! The chicken cooks in its own juices and needs that lid on). Using an insta temp, check the chicken temp. Remove from heat at 160. Let it rest for 5 min. If your pan isn’t big enough, you may need to do it in two batches.

Put the uncooked baby spinach into a large bowl, add the cooked veggies on top. Slice the rested chicken into bite size pieces and add on top of the spinach veggie mix.

Toast the pine nuts and cut the peach into small chunks. Add to salad. Add dressing and toss. Serve warm or cold – both are delicious!

(I don’t have any pictures but it was really yummy – and a bit of a hit!)

Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai (Sort Of) with Chicken Satay

We are trying to get ourselves back on track after a VERY naughty holiday season…I’m talking Thanksgiving THROUGH the New Year. NAUGHTY!

So this week I’ve been a cooking machine. On Monday, teriyaki shrimp with grilled pineapple, red peppers and broccoli over cauliflower rice. On Tuesday, zucchini noodles and sauteed chard with turkey meatballs and kale pesto. And then last night. Oh, last night! It was DELICIOUS! I made a variation of this recipe that was sort of pad thai, sort of chicken satay salad. I didn’t have tamarind and wasn’t sure I would have the time to make or buy the ingredients…so that is when I veered away from pad thai…and went more towards the Thai peanut sauce I had in the fridge. I also upped the veggie content. Mama needs some green in her din-din. Also, our new nanny is vegetarian so it is challenging me to not only make more strictly vegetarian meals, but meals that can be eaten both vegetarian and high in meat proteins. Always up for a challenge.


Ingredients (for four people):

  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • 2 large carrots
  • four scallions or green onions
  • 1 bag of bean sprouts
  • extra large handful of spinach
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 3 large eggs, whisked
  • about 6-8 chicken tenders
  •  1 package of extra firm tofu
  • Thai Peanut Sauce
  • peanut oil
  • corn starch
  • chopped peanuts
  • cilantro
  • lime wedges

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare all of the ingredients mis en plas prior to cooking as once you start cooking, it will go quickly.

While the oven heats, cut the spaghetti squash lengthwise (stem to stern), scoop out the seeds and innards, cover both sides with olive oil, and sprinkle the insides of the squash with salt and pepper. If you have a dish large enough, you can put them side-by-side, face down in a pan. I don’t, so I put them in two pans. Then add about a 1/4 inch of water to the pan. Depending on your oven, it could take about 30-40 minutes. You’ll know when they are done when you poke at the top and the side collapses a bit. Be wary of the steam when opening the oven. The water makes that first burst of steam VERY hot. [Side note: I used a convection oven so it cut down the time to about 20 minutes.]  [Side note(2): You can do this the night before to save time…spaghetti squash does well in the refrigerator for a few days.]

During the time the spaghetti squash is cooking, prep everything else. Cut your tofu into cubes and sprinkle with about two tablespoons of corn starch. Mix these together and let sit. Skewer the chicken and sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Make ribbons of the carrots using a veggie peeler. Roughly chop the spinach. Thinly slice your yellow onion (I used a sprializer to make the process fast and easy). Whisk your eggs. Prepare your green onions by cutting off the white ends and chopping them on the bias…about quarter to half inch pieces. Have everything ready in bowls next to your stove.

This is also a good time to sear the chicken skewers. If you have a grill pan, use it. If not, a shallow pan works best (maybe something you use for pancakes).  Spray the pan with oil and sear both sides of the skewers until both sides are golden brown where it touches the pan and the interior is beginning to turn white. You will put them in the oven to cook through when the spaghetti squash is out.

Put a wok or large pan on the stove on high heat. Set two large bowls to the side of the stove for the cooked food. We’ll do this in steps. When the wok is hot, add a few teaspoons of peanut oil and coat the pan. Add the tofu and cook until all sides are golden brown. Put into the bowl when finished. Keeping the pan hot, add a bit more peanut oil and cook the onions until slightly browned and softened. Add these to the bowl with the tofu when cooked. Add a bit more oil, then pour in the eggs, rolling it around the pan making a thin omelette. My experience had me letting the center “set” a bit instead of continually moving it around the pan. Once it begins to set, cut it with your tongs into small pieces and it will finish cooking quickly. Add this to the bowl on top of the tofu and onions. Turn off the heat for the pan and check the spaghetti squash.

At this point it should be softening. If so, remove the pans from the oven and let them cool while you begin cooking the other veggies. Don’t cook the veggies until the spaghetti squash is ready because you’ll want the veggies warm and don’t want to overcook them. When the spaghetti squash has slightly cooled, drain the water from the pan(s) and turn them over using either a fork or a oven mitt. Using a fork, shred the inside into “noodles.”

Put the seared chicken skewers in the (now dry) pan the spaghetti squash was in and into the hot oven (still at 400 degrees) with the skewer part covered in tinfoil. These will be ready by the time everything else cooks. Use a meat thermometer to double check, though.

Turn the heat back up on the wok and add a splash of peanut oil. Add the carrots, bean sprouts, and green onions to the pan. After a minute or two, turning the veggies often, add the spinach, mixing the spinach in with the rest of the veggies. Add those veggies to the second bowl and set aside. In the hot wok add just a splash more peanut oil, coat the pant, and put the spaghetti squash noodles into the pan in a even layer around the pan. Let them sit for a bit to get some crunch. Stir again and let sit.

While that sits, add three or four tablespoons of the peanut sauce to a bowl and add a splash of hot water to thin out the sauce. Pour some of this sauce around the edge of the pan and mix it into the spaghetti squash. Once well mixed, add all of the other ingredients and stir in the remaining sauce. Check the chicken. Remove when finished

Plate the dish and finish with chopped peanuts, chopped cilantro, and two lime wedges. Drizzle the peanut sauce (not thinned) over the whole plate. Ta da! Enjoy!