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Creamy Artichoke Basil Chicken Spaghetti (Squash)

5 Oct

Necessity is the mother of creation, isn’t that what they say? Chefs often say their favorite meals are the ones they whip up after a long shift from whatever ingredients are left in the kitchen. I’d like to pretend I’m always prepared– I try to keep a well-stocked pantry, I’m always flagging recipes in magazines or on Pinterest, and I go to the grocery store way too often. But sometimes I’m caught without a plan. More often than not I get into the kitchen and I improvise.

A few weeks later my boyfriend will say something like “Can you make those lamb chops again?” and I’ll have to admit that I really can’t because I only kinda sorta remember what I put on that lamb that one time.

So I’m very proud of myself this time. I created a recipe…and I wrote it down! Granted, this recipe had a little more brainstorming behind it. You see, on Monday I took advantage of the Whole Foods $6 rotisserie chicken special and bought two chickens. I figured my boyfriend could pretty much eat an entire one on his own (he really almost did!), but that still left plenty of chicken behind. What to do with all that chicken?

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I crafted this recipe in my head throughout the day as I ran around town doing errands. Most of the ingredients were things I already had on hand in my pantry. There were just a couple things I wanted and I swung by the store on my way home to pick up the last few essentials to what I hope would be a delicious dinner.

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Sometimes I get a little nervous serving meals like this to boyfriend. He always devours and praises the food I cook for him, but he recently admitted that his favorite food is pasta…which I obviously never cook for him! So when I present him with a plate of spaghetti squash with a dairy-free “cream” sauce, I worry a bit.

There was no need this time. This Creamy Artichoke Basil Chicken Spaghetti Squash was a bowl of warm, comforting, hearty and delicious food that we both gobbled up. Good thing I wrote down that recipe, because I’ll be wanting to make this again soon!

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Harvest Spice Apple Squash Muffins

2 Oct

Fall hit us with full force here in Portland. We were caught off-guard, blissfully sedated by the endless days of hot, cloudless weather we’d had for the past few months. One day it was 90°, our windows were thrown open and we had the fans going, then WHAM, it dropped down to 55°, the clouds barreled in and threw a stormy surprise in our faces. We quickly slammed our windows shut, threw the heavy comforters back on our beds, and put pants on for the first time since July.

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Welcome to fall!

“Don’t you love fall, though?” my hairdresser asked as she colored my locks an autumn-appropriate auburn red. “Yes, I do.” She knows me better than I thought. I love the crisp air, the smell of all the leaves on the ground, the excuse to bake and drink copious amounts of tea and cocoa. I love scarves and cozy sweaters and earth tones. I love boots.

I’ve created a plethora of fall-inspired treats over the years, chock full of pumpkin and pears, apples and cinnamon. But they’re not paleo! This needs to change, and change fast, as fall is most certainly upon us!

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The original version of these Harvest Spice Apple Squash Muffins appeared on my old blog exactly 2 years ago. I loved those spiced muffins so much, I actually developed this paleo version last year, but never shared it with the world. I gifted my mom with the recipe in her birthday card, however, and she adores them (right Mom?). I’m pretty sure she usually substitutes pumpkin for the butternut squash, so that’s definitely an option if pumpkin is what you have on hand. Try to find butternut if you can, though! Give the other squashes a chance!

These little muffins are a perfect taste of fall. Warm spices, tart apple, tender squash. And what a pretty orange hue!

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Going Paleo: my journey from whole-grains to no grains

17 Jul

My name is Carly, and I’m a serious foodie. My life revolves around food. I’ve always loved eating it, I love cooking and baking, and I went to culinary school so I could make a career out of it. I’ve been working as a pastry chef since 2010 and I love my job. I spend my days dipping my hands in buckets of flours and sugars.

Oh and by the way, I’m paleo.

This is a fairly recent development. Prior to fall 2012, I was a happy gluten-eating, whole-grain advocate. I believed that eating grains was what we, as healthy humans, were supposed to do. The recipes on my last blog, Tart to Heart, were all about recreating tasty treats with a blend of 100% whole grain flours. I was trying to do something good, and it never crossed my mind that I could be doing my body harm. Sure, sugary baked goods are always an indulgence, but at least I was making them with more fiber-, vitamin-, and protein-rich whole grain flours! In my opinion, I felt great– I didn’t suffer from stomach cramps or intestinal problems or any chronic health conditions. So why should I change my eating habits?

Meanwhile, my mother started following the paleo diet and I thought she was CRAZY. You’re not eating what?! You’re telling me grains and beans are bad for me? That everything we’ve ever heard about what’s healthy isn’t true? Cholesterol isn’t all bad, saturated fat isn’t a death sentence? I questioned all the facts she quoted from Rob Wolf and Loren Cordain. Hey, my minor in college was Biology, I needed some scientific evidence here!

So I fought this paleo premise for quite some time. I strove to be a healthy, happy person based on the conventional diet wisdom we all hear all the time– low fat, less calories, fewer meat products, more whole grains. But then it stopped working. Weight was creeping up on me, I went through a series of sugar highs and energy crashes all day, and came home from work starving even though I wasn’t truly hungry. I needed a new approach.

Reluctantly, I borrowed books about the paleo diet from my mom. I ordered a couple more online. I read a lot and then I started cutting non-paleo foods from my diet. Out with my daily bowl of cereal or oatmeal, goodbye sandwiches, no more sides of quinoa or brown rice with dinner. I stopped eating beans and legumes and I swapped out the canola oil with olive and coconut oils.

Long story short, I felt awesome! My energy levels were more stable, my cravings more manageable, and my digestion more regular. I completed a Whole 30 challenge and dropped 5 pounds even though I was eating way more fat than I had for years. Okay, mom, maybe there’s something to this whole paleo thing!

But I still love to bake! I realized that if I still wanted to eat muffins or cookies or pancakes I needed to learn how to re-make them with paleo-friendly ingredients. My old blog fell by the wayside for nearly a year, and now it’s time to start fresh! I’m excited by the recipes I’ve created and I’m ready to share them with the world. Whether you’re paleo or not, I promise everything I post on The Lucky Clover Kitchen will be delicious!