Sunday Snaps, 7-13-2014

I’m trying something new here on the blog, and I’m a bit excited about it. Mostly because I get to write more blog posts, but also because it’s a surefire way to avoid writer’s block.  (According to my fellow bloggers, anyway. I’ll let you know if their advice is true J )

I’ve decided to create a weekly post, “Sunday Snaps”, where I will share all the fun, random snapshots I’ve taken throughout the week that perhaps don’t make it onto the blog during my regular posts. I’m surprised I haven’t done this earlier, because everyone knows that I love taking pictures of things. Camera phones were probably not supposed to fall into the hands of people like me.  

But seriously. Really.

Without further ado, I present to you the inaugural Sunday Snaps! 


Sunday Snaps, 7-13-14

I went to a birthday BBQ , where the birthday boy was turning a certain age. Here was his eloquent banner, and I think it deserves a regular place in their home:

And they have the cutest dog….who I kept slipping food to under the table. If you’re reading this Dianne and Todd, sorry about that. I just couldn’t resist this face:

My best friend was going through her parent’s basement this week, and found this darling photo of us. We have been looking for evidence of this night for many years, and this is the only piece of evidence we have of our clever but embarrassing Halloween costumes circa 2000? 2001? Not sure, but they are AWESOME:

The past week in D.C., its been extremely sunny and humid during the day with severe thunderstorms in the evening. One night, just after it stopped down pouring, amid all the warning to “take cover” and “stay inside”, I ventured up to my roof and saw this:

I am pet sitting my friend’s fish while she is on her honeymoon with her husband in Italy. Their pictures I’ve seen from their trip are To. Die. For. Pasta and gelato for days, my friends. Beautiful.

While they have been exploring Roman ruins and sunning on the Amalfi coast, I’ve been taking pictures of Betta Fish Azul next to pictures of them in Italy. So Azul won’t get too homesick. I know, I’m so smart….

photo 9.jpg


Like the rest of the world, I’ve been obsessed with OITNB. So obsessed, that when the second season came out, I stayed up all night watching episodes for week. I was like a zombie at work, and when people asked me why I was so sleep deprived, all I could say was: “So there’s this T.V show on Netflix…” And now I feel like this:

One of the hardest things for me about becoming Paleo was giving up cheese. I still eat fermented cheese occasionally, but I don't have fresh cheese too often. Except, sometimes I just can't resist. Like with this tomato mozzarella salad I made myself the other day. Bellissimo! 

Happy Sunday SoVs! (South of Vanilla-ers) 

 

 

 

That's Amore

I love pasta. Not just any pasta- a good, high quality Italian-made steaming pile of buttery pasta. In college, my roommate and I would eat a plate of pasta whenever we were feeling a little blue. Once, when I was traveling through Italy with friends, we stayed in Rome for about a week. One night, dazed and exhausted from 10 hours of gazing at ancient art and palatial ruins, we stumbled across a hole-in-the-wall restaurant nestled down a side street. It only had one small sign, was under a creaky fire-escape-esque flight of stairs, and the restaurant itself was cavernous and lit by candles and some flickering wall sconces. (Why we thought it was a good idea to eat here, I still don't know.) This restaurant, Alfredo's, was a little slice of heaven. To this day, the best pasta I have ever had has been at this restaurant. We tried others while in Rome, of course, and I've spent time traveling throughout Europe, and other parts of Italy. But Alfredo's? The greatest. I even fondly remember their glasses of house wine being cheaper than their water. Alfredo's: a modern-day Roman paradise. By the time we were done with our time in Rome, the restaurant staff knew us as the Midwestern kids lining up for dinner at 5 (How wholesome of us.) who dutifully tried every pasta on the menu. We even got to meet Mr. Alfredo himself.

Rome, January 2011

Rome, January 2011

Rome, January 2011

Rome, January 2011

Rome, January 2011

Rome, January 2011


These days, I don't really get to enjoy pasta. Pasta has never been the same for me post-European adventures (ugh, that sounds much snootier than I mean it to), and on the occasional time where I veer off of Paleo and do have some pasta, I usually regret it. My system has adjusting to not consuming grains, so when I do have them, I pay dearly. Its just not worth feeling sick over, the belly bloat, or the brain fog. Instead, I've created this pasta alternative, which I enjoy immensely, although it definitely doesn’t fully replace the whole thing. I love making a huge batch of this and packing it in advance for lunches- its a great afternoon pick-me-up.

 

A trick I learned while traveling in Italy, is that the pasta sauces there are made with both butter and olive oil. This creates a richness in the taste, feel, and complexity of the sauce. I've applied that knowledge here, and fresh basil here is an absolute necessity.  Bon appetit!


 

Paleo Basil Spaghetti 

Serves 4


  • 2 lbs. spaghetti squash
  • 1 lb. organic, grass-fed, pasture raised ground beef
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. bacon fat, or fat of your choice (ex: ghee, duck fat, etc.)
  • 5 tbsp. fresh, chopped basil. Divided
  • 2 tbsp. chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp. parsley
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 tsp. red chili flakes (optional)
  • 2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1-cup tomato spaghetti sauce of your choice

 

  1. To soften your squash, you need to roast your squash in the oven. First, ventilate your squash (if you can) with some fork holes. (No exploding squash here, please.) Place your squash on the top rack in your oven at 375 degrees. Roast for about 40 minutes to soften. (I've found that it takes approximately 20 minutes per pound of squash.)
  2. Remove from oven and let cool. Slice open lengthwise, remove the seeds, and scoop the meat of the squash away from the hard outside layer. (An ice cream scoop works very well.) Try to get as much of the meat out as possible. All that should be left are the seeds and the firm skin when you're done. As you scrape the squash, the squash should be stringy like spaghetti- this is where this squash gets its name.                                  
  3. Break up any clumps of squash that you may have so the result is all stringy goodness. Set aside.
  4. In a skillet, heat your bacon fat, onion powder, chili flakes, 1 tbsp. of olive oil, and 2 tbsp. of basil. Heat until just shimmering, add garlic, and brown slightly. Add in ground beef and brown. Once brown, remove immediately from heat and set aside.
  5. In a large pot, heat 2 tbsp. basil, parsley, remaining 1 tbsp. olive oil, and butter. Once melted, add squash and cook until soft, but still slightly firm. Stir frequently to ensure that the sauce is coated with the herb butter mixture. Add in content from ground beef skillet. Stir until incorporated.
  6. Pour in tomato pasta sauce, cover pot, and let simmer for 10 minutes.
  7. When done, squash should be soft but not limp. Remove from heat, and garnish with the rest of your fresh basil and freshly ground pepper. 


Notes

For the spaghetti sauce, you can use your own homemade sauce if you would like, or use your favorite store bought version. I use store bought when I don't have any homemade sauce on hand. This is just fine, but make sure that it is Paleo friendly- i.e. no added sugar, limited preservatives if you can find it. My favorite is Trader Joe's Basil Tomato (Can you tell I love Basil?). Its not 100% Paleo because it does have added dairy, but it does have limited preservatives, and is all organic.

If you want to increase the amount of "pasta" you make, start by adjusting the size of the spaghetti squash first. Make sure to pay attention to the increased roasting time you will need for the squash in the initial steps.

Steps 1-3 can be done ahead to allow for faster meal prep time. Spaghetti squash refrigerates well once roasted, but make sure to not let it sit for more than 3 days. Any more and it starts to release some of its water, making it mushy.