Paleolithic Parsnips: Sour Cream & Onion Matchsticks

I am, as a rule, not one to jump on ban wagons and follow trendy fads.  But due to my pancreas issues, the Paleo Diet has captured my attention.  While it is an amazing diet for losing weight my goal is to stabilize my blood sugar, spikes and drops of which leave me weak as a kitten.  I’m generally not a fan of meat but I tolerate some chicken cut up on top of my salads etc.  The real pull of this diet, however, are the constraints and the culinary creativity required to create exciting and enticing meals.

That being said prepare yourself for Paleo friendly snacking with my Paleolithic Parsnips, a take on the addicting sour cream and onion chip without ANY guilt…NONE.

Also prepare yourself for few measurements, the beauty of this recipe is to season “to taste”.  Just take it easy on the salt, while there’s no real limit to the salt you can add the parsnips have this beautiful sweet earthy flavor that about two healthy pinches of salt enhance.  Don’t mask the beautiful nature of your foods!

Ingredients

Parsnips (cut down into matchstick sizes, variation is okay as this will add texture later on)

1/4 cup coconut oil (melted)

To taste: salt, pepper, onion powder, a healthy squeeze of lemon juice

Method

1. Preheat Oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Combine all the other ingredients, mix well using your hands (before washing off the oil I rub it in for a few minutes, the spices and salt act like exfoliates and the coconut oil is moisturizing…PALEO)

3. Spread parsnip bits into a single layer on your baking sheet.

4. Bake 15 minutes, remove from oven, stir around the bits and redistribute into a single layer.  Bake an additional 10 minutes.  Keep an eye on your parsnips, I prefer mine with some burned bits as they add an interesting flavor/texture, but remove yours when they start to brown a bit if you must.

5. LET THEM COOL A BIT, I burnt my tongue eating them fresh out of the oven!

I sprinkle these on top of my salads or use for a snack while I’m on a Netflix Binge (did you know they have ten seasons of Friends on there? Yeah…)

Enjoy!

xx

DIY Mason Jar Sewing Kit

As I grow older I’m realizing the magic of Christmas is in the love and thought put into each gift, not the monetary value.  This year I decided to go on a crafting spree, since my obsession with mason jars is more intense than ever, I went on an Pinterest scavenger hunt until I came across the perfect gift for my sister: an adorable sewing kit.

 

Hand Painted Chevron Accent Wall

 

I’m one of those weird people that thrive on a serious challenge.  Staring at my bright orange walls one morning I decided I needed to paint.   I’ve been obsessed with turquoise and grey for a while now and the chevron pattern has begun accenting many aspects of my life, from my phone case to my sheets.  So I figured why not paint it on a wall.

 

The method seemed obvious to me, measure out a grid pattern of dots on my wall (I settled on thirty inches horizontally and five inches vertically) and basically “connect the dots” in the chevron pattern.  The tricky part was when I reached the bottom and had some partial lines to make, but I solved that by making small triangles five inches from the line above.  Once it was all taped out I painted the turquoise over the grey I’d picked out but AS IF THAT WEREN’T ENOUGH I took it a step further and hand painted a tiny line of a glossy, muted yellow on the bottom of each chevron.  Following you’ll see my masterpiece.  I wake up every day, look at this wall, and pat myself on the back, it’s a total ego boost to be able to be proud of yourself at least once a day.

 

What’s that smell?! The low-down on telling whether or not your once fresh and bountiful produce is still edible.

It happened today around 3:30 pm, a hankering for a delicious, social network post worthy smoothie.   I opened the fridge and began digging round for a mish-mosh of vitamin packed veggies and fruits to blend together into a smoothie that will, god willing, yield a vibrant color I can enhance with LoFi and post to every social media outlet.

During my rummaging some questions came to mind; how long ago did I buy that? How much mold really is too much mold? What’s that smell?

After settling on some questionable strawberries and spinach that left something to be desired, I blended (after taking about thirty pictures of my ingredients pre and post blend and feeling superior to everyone having chips or popcorn for a snack) and decided to get to the bottom of these questions I haven’t had the guts to look into.  I have a sneaking suspicion I’ve eaten something spoiled from every food group, secretly I hope you have too, and here are my findings.

Info gathered from the USDA website http://www.fsis.usda.gov/

#1 fact learned: one rotten apple does not spoil the bunch! Just because you find one spoiled fruit in your bunch doesn’t mean everything else in the bag has gone bad, depending on your gag reflex you can, in theory, eat every other piece of fruit immediately and be fine.  My tactic: freeze, blend, and give away everything you can.

Our first question, how much mold is too much mold?!   Cue gag reflex, mold isn’t like bacteria which is too small to be seen, mold is made up of so many cells which form roots that burrow into your produce and sprout stalks with spores above the surface they can be seen with the naked eye.  Credit where credit is due I must admit the USDA did find a beautiful way of describing how these spores spread “When airborne, the spores spread the mold from place to place like dandelion seeds blowing across a meadow.”  Lovely.

Okay, mold is gross, but is it dangerous? It can cause allergic responses and respiratory problems and some carry mycotoxins that are poisonous and make you sick.  If you find a moldy food item DO NOT SNIFF IT, that’s what it wants you to do.   Properly discard or use the moldy food, clean the area of the fridge where you found it and check the rest of your food, we don’t want a bunch of dandelions popping up all over the place!

Here is your guide on handling moldy foods:

  •  lunch meats, bacon, hot dogs DISCARD
  • hard salami and dry-cured country hams USE (scrub off that mold and don’t tell anyone!)
  • cooked leftover meat DISCARD
  • cooked casseroles DISCARD
  • cooked grain and pasta DISCARD
  •  hard cheese USE (I’ve heard it tastes better ;] simply cut one inch around and below mold spot, don’t touch the knife to any of the mold due to cross-contamination, and re wrap a little tighter this time)
  •  soft cheeses DISCARD
  •  yogurt, sour cream, jams, jellies DISCARD (that wasn’t a tasty bit of avocado in my sour cream as it turns out)
  •  peanut butter, legumes, nuts, bread and baked goods DISCARD (my god the mold I’ve eaten)
  • soft fruits and veggies such as cucumbers and peaches DISCARD
  • hard (hehe) fruits and veggies such as carrots and cabbage USE (cut around it one inch just like the cheese taking care not to cross-contaminate and ask the person that consumes it if they think it was aged appropriately).

Next, expiration dates, does anyone really follow them? Well as it turns out you should, for a more lengthy list of the food-borne pathogens that can be lurking in expired or improperly stored food go to the USDA website.  From that list a few I could actually pronounce and recognize were: staph infection, salmonella (over 2,300 types WOWZA), and noroviruses.

To avoid illness, make sure all your products have expiration/packing dates and if they don’t, use a Sharpie and write the date you bought it.  Trust me I just started doing this and I already feel better than everyone else.

A cursory glance at my refrigerator and I found these guidelines most helpful based on what was in there

  • leftovers, cooked veggies, soups and stews, 3-4 days
  • cooked chicken or turkey 1-2 days; opened package of lunch meat 3-5 days unopened 2 weeks
  • hamburger and ground meats 1-2 days
  • bacon 7 days

According to the USDA the golden rule is “when in doubt throw it out!” If it’s slimy, smelly, or, damn, you just can’t remember where that came from, toss it.

Finally, what is that smell?  After employing visual check for mold, checking the expiration date, and it smells kind of funny, ask a loved one.  If they agree it stinks and it’s not some paranoid delusion in your head, toss it and store it better next time! I’ll still love you :] I promise.

Salted Caramel Apple Crisp Bars

Nothing makes the fat kid inside me squeal louder than Pillsbury products, I’m pretty sure the Dough Boy is my spirit animal.  That being said I found a wonderful recipe on the back of the cake box, it was for apple crumble, and Dough Boy logic says: if there are fresh apples hidden in the cake mix, it’s good for you.  Here’s the squeal inducing method for Salted Caramel Apple Crisp Bars.

  • No-Stick Cooking Spray
  • 1 package Pillsbury® Moist Supreme® Caramel Apple Flavored Premium Cake Mix
  • 1 cup quick rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups peeled and diced Granny Smith apple
  • 1/3 cup Pillsbury® Creamy Supreme® Caramel Apple Flavored Frosting
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt

 

  1. Gather and prepare your ingredients Rachel Ray Style (everything in tiny cups ready to be dumped together quickly), this is my favorite way to bake because I find the entire process incredibly stressful. The recipe calls for two cups of Chopped apples but I used about three( plus a pear) because that’s my favorite part.  GREASE YOUR PAN (9 inch square) and set your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare your crumble! I prefer a manual potato smasher; get the cake mix, oats, cinnamon, (I added a bit of nutmeg because I’m fancy), butter and egg together. Take one cup of the mixture out and press the rest into the bottom of the pan.
  3. Bake 15 minutes or until edges brown, I found at the end it was really important to make sure the base was baked properly or these won’t come out in adorable squares like they could.
  4. Add in all the apple chunks and top with the cup of crumble you reserved to the side and bake about 20 or 25 minutes, or until the top browns. I baked for extra time for two reasons, one is that I had a lot of apples in there, the second is that I forgot I was baking as I was engrossed in making some cookies as “garnish”.
    1. If you’re feeling ambitious, while everything is baking make some acorn no bake cookies! You just stick a Hershey’s Kiss to a mini ‘Nilla Wafter and top with a chocolate chip. I use peanut butter but you can totally use the leftover frosting if that floats your boat. I also took this time to make the note for my “presentation”.
  5. When the top is golden brown, take out of the oven and set on top of the stove to cool. In the couple minutes it’s cooling prepare the salted caramel topping delight.  Put 1/3 cup of the frosting into a microwave safe dish and heat it until it’s really soupy.  Drizzle over the top of the crumble cake thing and sprinkle with your coarse sea salt.
  6. Prepare your presentation, nothing says pretentious at a work meeting like an apple crumble with acorn cookies and a hand written note/drawing. I made this for one of my mom’s meetings and it was appreciated.  Once everything cools down just cut up the bars, there should be “twenty four” but let’s be real here, I made about half that.  Of course mine needed to be served and eaten with spoons because I was a little impatient with the whole baking process but it tasted good.
  7. No, that pan DOES NOT need to soak, wash it.