2.12.2015

a little closure.

This post is a long time coming, but a hard one to write. It's my kinda, probably...goodbye... I think...post. You may have already guessed from my near complete disappearance over the last few months that I had moved away from the blog world, but I feel like I should confirm it. As if I'm some kind of celebrity who has to make an official statement or something, right? Ha. But it DOES feel like I need some kind of closure.

Thanks to Pinterest and Google and the crazy connecting world of the internet, I'm still getting 3,000-5,000 hits to this site A DAY (what?!?!) and have almost reached a MILLION total views. This blows my mind! And leads to a mix of emotions, from gratitude to discomfort. I never expected that many people to make their way to my little blog.

I put a lot of time and effort into the recipes and posts on here, and I'm so glad blogging was a thing -- albeit, a transient thing -- for me. Having this blog inspired me to try new things I wouldn't have otherwise tried, enhance my recipe development skills (that I still use often!), open up and share with the world in a new way, and connect with people I would have otherwise never known existed. I'm really grateful for these things. Plus, now I have an electronic compilation of most of favorite recipes! This definitely comes in handy :)

Okay, so then why am I stopping? Well, I said when I first started this blog (and several times after that) that I would blog for as long as I felt inspired to blog. That I would not turn this into a job or a duty or a hassle (I have enough of those). And the truth is, that inspiration has gradually gone away. I still feel passionate about health and wellness... but the process of measuring and recording and posting and linking to social media has become less enticing. When I WAS writing on this blog regularly, it felt fun and interesting and energizing... and it also felt authentic to me, at the time. But now? I just don't feel particularly genuine as a "healthy food blogger" anymore. I'm so glad that lots of people have found their way here and enjoyed my content, but that has also come with challenges that I didn't necessarily expect.. like regular comments asking about the exact number of calories in things or "clean eating meal plans." The truth is, while I've provided this type of information on the blog before, I just don't have any desire to do so anymore. I don't CARE about calorie counts or sticking to an eating plan. I just care about treating my body well, and listening to its cues. But more importantly, I care about enjoying a fulfilling, mindful, vital life filled with dinner dates at pizza joints and excursions to breweries and hikes in the mountains and meditation and pasta making and vacations. It started to feel like that part of me... the biggest part of me... wasn't alive on the blog. Instead, it began to feel like I was wearing someone else's stiff and ill-fitting and uncomfortable jacket -- and like I was only wearing the jacket so that others could see it. To me, this is a flashing red sign that I should move on. And only wear jackets that feel perfectly comfortable.

Could I transform the blog to be more in accordance with my true values? Sure. And maybe I will at some point. But for now, I most likely won't be posting anything new, at least for as far as I can see. I will also be slower to respond to comments or emails, if I do at all. I certainly plan to keep the site up for as long as possible though so that you (and I!!) can keep accessing the recipes.

Thanks for reading, friends. And I hope you all are wearing your perfect-fit jacket, too :)

xx Taylor

11.20.2014

the best beef & bean chili

I'm a big chili fan, especially during the cold fall and winter months. I love all kinds of different versions of chili -- vegetarian bean-filled kinds, white chicken chili with green chilies, or versions with nontraditional meats like chorizo. However, there is something to be said for that good old all-American ground beef and bean chili, am I right? Ya know, the kind that you eat while watching a football game, topped with shredded cheese and sour cream, and served with cornbread and a cold beer? Yep, that's the one.


So that's what this chili is, but I promise it's anything but boring. I would even like to go ahead and call this THE BEST in the category of traditional beef and bean chili (at least... of the many I've tried!). It's based off of a classic Bon Appetit version, but I (obviously) chose to shake things up a bit. Specifically, I amped up the flavors with chipotle peppers in adobo, a bit of cocoa powder, two types of beans, and extra jalapenos. Mmmhm. Then obviously topped it with hand-grated cheddar cheese and a scoop of sour cream. Perfecto!

I wasn't planning on blogging this recipe (hence the single, sad picture) since it's such a "standard" dish, but it was just too good. It's one to keep coming back to!

By the way, this chile is a healthy dish, chock full of protein and fiber. I'd recommend using grass-fed beef and all-natural, high-quality ingredients. Then, you can feel good about enjoying a big bowl of it (EVEN IF you add some decadence on top... let's live a little!)

Disclaimer: This chili is pretty spicy. My husband and I both agreed that it is actually THE PERFECT amount of spiciness (and we take spiciness ratings pretty seriously). However, if you're sensitive... be careful. Take the seeds out of the jalapenos or chill with the chipotle peppers in adobo. Or don't, and sweat your way through it like me! That's the best way.

:) Enjoy!


Spicy Beef & Bean Chili
For 8-12 servings

Ingredients
-1 tbsp olive oil
-1 large onion, chopped
-4 fresh jalapeno peppers, chopped (including seeds)
-6 garlic cloves, chopped
-3 or 4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (from canned), chopped
-2.25-2.5 lbs ground beef, 90% lean
-1/4 c. chili powder
-2 tbsp cumin
-1 tsp paprika
-2 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper
-1 tbsp cocoa powder
-1 tbsp sauce from the chipotle peppers in adobo
-1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
-1 15 oz. can kidney beans, drained (but not rinsed)
-1 15 oz. can pinto beans, drained (but not rinsed)
-2 to 4 cups beef stock or water (or a mix of the 2; use 2 cups for thicker/beefier chili, 4 cups for thinner/more "broth." I usually use a little over 2 cups because I like thicker chili)

Toppings (optional):
-Shredded cheese
-Sour cream
-Sliced green onions
-Crushed tortilla chips or tortilla strips

Directions
-Heat oil in a very large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until soft, about 5-6 minutes. Add the jalapenos, garlic, and chipotle peppers and saute for 1 minute.
-Add the beef. Cook, breaking up and stirring meat regularly. Once completely browned, add the spices and cocoa powder. Mix to combine.
-Add the adobo sauce, tomatoes, (including juice), beans, and broth. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil.
-Reduce heat and let chili simmer for 60-90 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

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11.06.2014

Thai pumpkin peanut soup

Helllooo friends!

I'm just popping in with a MUST. SHARE. recipe. Sometimes I make and eat things that I simply can't imagine not adding to my electronic compilation of recipes in the blogisphere.  This was one of them!

Thai pumpkin peanut soup. Soooo creamy. Soooo flavorful. It has one of our favorite fall/winter veggies - pumpkin! - plus traditional Thai flavors - coconut, curry paste, peanut, lime juice, a bit of fish sauce. This soup is a wonderful cold weather meal. It's creamy, spicy, and oh-so-flavorful.


A little story to support its awesomeness: I told my husband what we were having for dinner the afternoon before I made it - "pumpkin soup, plus some crusty fresh bread on the side" - and his response was, "Oh... okay... um... can you make sure there's plenty of bread?" Ha! He's not a huge fan of soups, especially vegetarian soups, so I guess the thought of pumpkin soup did a whole lot of nothing for him. But when he tasted it? I heard "MMMMM! Oh my god mmmmmm! This is unreal!" He could not stop raving about it as he devoured the bowl, then had more for lunch the next day. He has since asked for me to make it again. It really is that good.

Give it a try! It may look kinda fancy (why thank you) but it's really easy, and ready in 30-45 minutes, if you have a blender!


Thai Pumpkin Peanut Soup
For 4 servings

Ingredients
-1 can organic pumpkin puree
-1 can coconut milk
-2 cups organic chicken stock
-1/4 cup natural peanut butter
-2 tbsp thai red curry paste (find in the international aisle)
-2 tbsp butter
-1 small onion, roughly chopped or sliced
-2 cloves garlic, roughly minced
-3 tbsp honey
-1 tsp fish sauce
-1 tbsp lime juice
-1 tbsp sriracha (more or less based on your spiciness prefs)
-Salt and pepper

Toppings (optional):
-2 tbsp plain greek yogurt mixed with 2-4 tbsp almond milk (or milk of choice) until desired pour-able consistency is reached - this helps cool down the spiciness factor
-Fresh cilantro OR a handful of cilantro blended in a food processor with 2 tbsp each of olive oil and red wine vinegar (as pictured) - this adds some nice acidity

Directions
-Melt the butter in a medium or large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another 30-60 seconds.  Add the red curry paste and cook for about a minute, stirring. Add in the pumpkin and continue stirring for another minute.
-Pour in the coconut milk, chicken stock, peanut butter, honey, fish sauce, lime juice, and sriracha. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir to combine the ingredients. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring regularly.
-Carefully pour the hot soup into a blender. Cover and puree until completely blended. Return to pot. Continue cooking over low heat for 3-5 minutes until ready to serve. Add more salt and pepper to taste if needed.
-Pour into bowls and top with desired toppings.

Enjoy!
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9.25.2014

cajun shrimp and cauliflower and almond "grits"

Oh.... hello! Been a while, huh? I know, I have definitely been neglecting this little blog over the past few months. I'm not going to use the excuse of too little time, because clearly I used to find time for blogging even when I was super busy. I also can't blame a lack of cooking, because I've been cooking plenty. I guess my simplest explanation is this:

Perspectives change. Goals change. Priorities change.

And that's okay. In fact, that's more than okay... it's life! I'm rolling with the changes that accompany personal growth. I'm making conscious, purposeful choices to live the life I want to live, and sometimes blogging just doesn't fit in with those choices. Sometimes it does. Like today. But often it doesn't. So basically... I'm setting no rules for myself when it comes to a hobby like blogging. When I feel it, I choose it; when I don't, I choose something else. Simple!

Today though, I feel it. I made a fantastic recipe this week that I can't stand to hold onto all for myself. I woke up with an itch to return to the taylor made corner of the internet and share.

So what is it? Shrimp and grits! One of my favorite dishes.


This isn't your typical southern version of shrimp and grits though. The grits aren't actually grits at all.... they're made from cauliflower and ground almonds! Don't put your head in your hands yet though, Southerners. I promise it tastes pretty darn close to the real thing! Yes, we're amping up the veggies and cutting the carbs, but we're not eliminating the flavors and richness that must accompany shrimp and grits. Oh, and bacon. Bacon fat and bacon pieces. Can't be bad!


I'm typically skeptical of cauliflower recipes. Mashed potatoes made from cauliflower that taste just like the real thing? I meeaaan. Cauli mash is fine, but come on... it doesn't REALLY taste like mashed potatoes. And cauliflower pizza crust? Sorry, no. That is way too much effort for something that doesn't taste anywhere CLOSE to as good as actual dough crust. I'd much rather just eat a real pizza. 

So I wasn't exactly expecting the greatest when I tried to make these grits from cauliflower. But honestly, it works! Grits have very little flavor anyway, so all we really have to do is make the texture of the cauliflower resemble grits then add in the same flavors (i.e., butter and salt). We use almond flour to thicken it up and it works beautifully. Plus, anything topped with plump, spicy sautéed shrimp and bacon is probably gonna be pretty good.   

Even though you have to break out your food processor here, the whole dish can be ready in about half an hour. It is really simple. If you love shrimp and grits, you must try. If you're trying to eat paleo or low carb, this is definitely a dish you want to add to your repertoire. 



Cajun Shrimp and "Grits"
For about 4 servings
Adapted from Paleo Cupboard

Ingredients
For grits
-3 slices bacon, grease reserved
-About one head of raw cauliflower, chopped into florets
-1/2 onion, diced
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 to 1.25 cups almond flour (grind raw sliced almond in a food processor until fine if you don't have prepared almond flour)
-2 to 2.5 cups low sodium chicken broth
-Sea salt
-Pepper
-1 tbsp butter

 For shrimp
-1 lb. large, raw, de-tailed, de-veined shrimp, patted dry
-1/2 tsp sea salt
-1/2 tsp garlic powder
-1/4 tsp onion powder
-1 tsp paprika
-1/4 tsp cayenne (more or less depending on spice preference)
-1/2 tsp dried oregano
-1/2 tsp dried thyme
-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (more or less depending on spice preference)
-1 tbsp butter
-1 tbsp olive oil
-Juice of half a lemon

Directions
-Cook 3 slices of bacon in a medium saucepan. Once done, remove the bacon but reserve the pan with 2 tbsp of the bacon grease. Turn heat to low or off.
-Meanwhile, working in batches, pulse a few florets of cauliflower at a time in the food processor until the pieces are the size and shape of rice. Be careful not to over-blend. Work until you have about 3 cups of riced cauliflower.
-In the same saucepan with bacon grease,  turn heat to medium. Sauté the onion for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds. Add the riced cauliflower. Stir to combine. Add 2 cups of the chicken broth. Stir and combine. Bring to a boil. Add 1 cup of the almond flower and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Stir to combine and return to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  If the grits are too thin, add more chicken broth. If too thick, add more flour. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Once the grits are nearly done, stir in 1 tbsp butter.
-Meanwhile, combine all spices for the shrimp. Toss the shrimp in the spice mixture until coated.
-Heat the butter and olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat until hot. Add the shrimp and cook until slightly browned and cooked through (translucent), about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Squeeze with lemon juice.
-To serve, top a scoop of the "grits" with several cooked shrimp. Crumble the cooked bacon on top. Top with hot sauce if you'd like.


 Enjoy!

8.14.2014

kashmiri lamb korma

Cooking Indian food can seem scary if you've never done it, I know. There are spices you've never heard of (and don't know where to buy), the dishes look so different - and smell so different - than our typical American fare.... it can just feel out of your comfort zone. At least, that's how I felt before taking the plunge. But I have to say, that plunge is so worth it! Now when I cook Indian-inspired dishes, they tend to be my favorites. By using all different spices and cooking in a different way, you end up with dishes unlike anything else you've ever made. Which is exciting! One of the first Indian dishes I ever made (a dish I continue to love today) is my crockpot butter chicken. That is a good one to start with -- super easy and mild, but it will make you want to keep cooking with Indian flavors because it's so darn delicious. I also love chana saag (chickpeas, spinach, and tomatoes simmered with yogurt and Indian spices). Another new favorite is this one: kashmiri lamb korma. Wow.


This lamb korma is the real deal. Sooo flavorful and complex. The lamb becomes fall-apart tender after slow cooking on the stove for a couple of hours in this creamy, slightly sweet, spicy, AMAZING sauce. It's the perfect Sunday evening meal when you're in the mood for something comforting and different. Plus, your house will smell heavenly as you wait for dinner time. And guess what? Ryan said this was in his top 10 favorite meals ever. Yep, it's that good.


One of the great things is that this dish is made entirely of real, whole, ingredients -- we're even using vine ripe tomatoes instead of canned! (a choice I don't always make). Makes you feel good but it's honestly not much more work. It's also got a bit of coconut milk, onions, garlic, yogurt ginger, and an array of Indian spices. Don't let the recipe scare you -- as long as you have the ingredients, you're in action. Takes about 20 minutes of work then you just let it simmer and become tender and ridiculously delicious all on its own for the next two hours. Serve it over basmati rice with some hot-out-the-oven naan and a glass of red wine. You can thank me later.


Here's how to make it:


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