Party: bison meatballs and beer cheese soup

I only wish I’d taken better photos of the food my friends and I worked for so long to make! This stuff really tasted like a gourmet, fancy-fancy meal. It took us nearly an hour and a half to make, but it was worth every bit of time spent drinking wine in the kitchen. We laughed and made joke after handjob joke about our pal’s ability to grate a huge block of cheese like a champ.

I was so nervous to have these ladies over to my house, as I am with letting anyone in my space, but moreso because I’m just getting to know these coworkers a little bit more outside of work. I have a hard time letting people into my space and wondering what they’ll think of my house. Will they like it? Will they notice that the trim along the baseboards isn’t yet the same paint color as the baseboards? Are my floors too dirty? Will they like my dogs, or think I’m utterly feral? What if I overcook the food, or it just sucks, or I forget something integral to the meal? My anxiety kicks into high gear when I let people into my very private space. It’s an intimacy with other people that I have a hard time creating.

I didn’t do any shoving-stuff-into-the-closet-at-the-last-minute maneuvers, but I do still get the tail-end of the “I just moved three months ago” excuse. I made my bed…what more could anyone hope for?


I found the recipe for these meatballs and the Greek yogurt-based sauce at the last second, thirty minutes before my pals were supposed to be at my house and I was still at the grocery store. I’m forever running late because I’m at the grocery store, now. We only made a few modifications to the recipe, as follows:

  • Instead of using cumin seeds and coriander seeds, I used the ground spices and whole fennel seeds without grinding them. It didn’t matter and the flavors blended nicely.
  • In the sauce, I used about a cup of cilantro instead of a cup and a half. I just didn’t have any more than that.
  • I used shredded-up gluten-free bread. It worked fine, but I wish I’d used a little more bread to hold the meatballs together a little better. I also used almond milk instead of cow milk, per the usual.
  • Instead of a jalapeno, I used a portion of an anaheim chile, because that’s what I had on hand.
  • I didn’t use extra cilantro or allspice in the meatballs, because there just wasn’t any.

And, of course, everything came out perfect. I’d highly recommend doubling or tripling the sauce recipe — I couldn’t get enough of it — and using it on salads, or as a dipping sauce for veggies. It was a cool, creamy, herby sauce and I can’t wait to make it again.


Remember when I said I accidentally learned to make beer cheese soup from Martha Stewart? Yeah, I just made a bigger pot of the stuff. It was just so rich, creamy, and beer-y. I barely made it through my bowl, and was happy that one of my pals took the rest home to her boyfriend. There was no way I could handle that dense of a soup twice within a few days.


Even my dog, Tiger Tail, got a meatball to celebrate her graduation from Pre-Agility and Performance Prep at her dog school. Isn’t she adorable? No more pinch collars for us! I feed my dogs high-quality dog food and give them mostly vegetable scraps as treats, but this time she deserved a little something special. 🙂


On the road: pizza and hummus and temptation

Armed with a new audiobook, I hit the road for my first 2015 road trip. I travel very often, and one of the barriers to my no-restaurants year was to negotiate being away from home and maintaining my restaurant abstinence. It was only six hours from home — and for a road trip warrior like me, that isn’t too bad — and I didn’t need to take a cooler or make much in the way of plans. I stopped a few hours from home for the best hummus in the whole wide world, some crackers, and a pile of groceries to enjoy with the pal I was headed to visit.


I wasn’t sure what to make, since we both have a few dietary restrictions and I wasn’t too familiar with her kitchen, but I found a solution in homemade pizzas. Everyone likes some sort of pizza, right? We giggled, and she’d never made one. I’d worked for Dominos when I was a bitty eighteen-year-old for $6.25 an hour, churning out a lot of great pizzas and a few intentional, edible mistakes. We had three pre-made crusts to work with, alfredo or pizza sauce to top with, grassfed ground beef, and sauteed some yellow sweet peppers, onion, and broccoli. My friend’s young son topped his slices with mozzarella only, and I piled on the alfredo sauce.

Late into the night, we talked and talked. I had such a privilege in enjoying a family that is so close to each other, and so very involved in each others’ lives. My friend deeply cares for her sons and her unconditional acceptance of her boys and others in her life is a treat to actually witness, late at night, deep in adult-level conversation. It was great to cook with her while her son hung out; in a way, I felt like we became closer through food. We’d both had devastating eating disorder issues for many years, and sometimes working those things out with another person who has had the same experience can be more detrimental than helpful. It used to be a big trigger of mine to cook or eat with others that had similar issues, but over the years, I’ve felt far less judged and worried about others’ opinions of how I eat, how I look when I eat, or what I choose to eat.

This time, my temptation wasn’t in disordered behavior, but in staying off the restaurant food! I mindlessly ordered some Steak ‘n Shake fries, if only because I was hungry, tired, and simply…forgot, for a few minutes while the kid ordered some food late at night. Being a perfectionist, I had a moment of sorrow at breaking my perfect streak of restaurantlessness. But in the end? I ate about 30 fries, and learning to roll with mistakes and imperfection is a good thing for me.

What an excellent road trip.

(And I very highly recommend the book!)

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Taco stuffed tomato brunch

Feeding another person is such a uniquely intimate act. It’s an extension of my own creativity, my resources and ability to collect and share food on a primal level, and an act of deeply caring for another person by satiating one of our strongest, deepest needs. Feeding others is selfless, as some also feel when they feed the homeless or wait a million years for a toddler to finish her Cheerios. By preparing food for others, I’m sort of asking people to accept a delicate piece of myself. The rejection many people feel when someone doesn’t like the food created for them is, in a way, an extension of feeling like the self has been rejected. Fortunately…my friend liked my food and said nice things! I cook for those I care about, to show them that I care about them.

My pal asked me out to eat on her lunch break. It was my first test of whether I could shoot down a restaurant offer, and we did find a good time to eat in my own kitchen instead. Unfortunately…I had no idea what to make, and my groceries were dwindling already. A quick browse through Instagram on my drive to the grocery store just one hour before my pal was expected over led me to a Whole30Recipes version of taco stuffed tomatoes. I grabbed most of what I needed, and we did have a really great lunch before she had to dart back to work.

My version of their recipe, below. I often modify recipes because of the small number of portions I need, or because I’m cooking only for myself and don’t need or want to use fancy ingredients.


Stuff you need:

  • 1lb grassfed beef or meat of choice (venison or bison sound awesome, too)
  • 3 carrots, shredded and raw
  • 1/3 white onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, deseeded and diced thin
  • 1/2 poblano (I should have used the whole pepper!), deseeded and diced thin
  • A bundle of fresh cilantro
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4-6 large tomatoes
  • 1 avocado, mashed with a tiny bit of lime juice
  • 12 cooked, cold shrimp
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt, black pepper
  • Cayenne
  • Cheater-cheater-pumpkin-eater taco seasoning of choice (I bet fajita seasoning would work, too)

Preheat oven to 400F. Cook beef on stovetop until it’s about half browned. Put in minced garlic, onion, some cilantro, jalapeno, poblano, about 25% of the taco seasoning packet, and about half of the tomato guts from coring and let the meat finish browning.

Core the tomatoes and scrape the inside guts out, being careful not to puncture the bottom or sides. Use a slotted spoon to fill tomatoes with taco mixture and place in a glass bottom dish. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Toss shrimp in cayenne, salt, garlic powder, and black pepper.

Pull tomatoes out of oven, top with raw carrots, mashed avocado, cilantro, and shrimp. I served vanilla yogurt with blueberries and agave drizzle on top.*

(Yes, I know yogurt isn’t Whole30 or Paleo compliant and that the post is tagged with those keywords, but I don’t claim to adhere entirely to a Paleo diet — only that that particular lifestyle is excellent for my vanity, excludes the grains I cannot digest, and aligns more fully with my values about what quality of food I prefer to ingest.)