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November 2015, Page 2

stuffed carnival squash

if i could’ve, i would have named a child autumn. it’s that much that i love the season. i love the food, and based on internet recipe activity, i’m not alone.




warm things.  soft, fluffy things.  spicy things.  glowing, comforting things.  these all say autumn to me, and if i’m feeding my people, that’s how i want to feed them, too.



we discovered these adorable little squash on a recent trader joe’s run, and i knew i could stuff them with something good and have a yummy dinner in no time.  i was right; this stuffed squash is an all-in-one meal option (add a side salad?!), or a great side that can bake while you prep a warm soup or bigger salad (try this one!) to complement it.




do you have a favorite autumn dish that to you, spells comfort?  share, so i can give it a try!  in the meantime, make this one, and let me know what you think.


stuffed carnival squash
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
tender carnival squash stuffed with ground beef or venison and warming spices
Recipe type: paleo main dish
Serves: 4 side dish servings or two main dish servings
  • 2 small carnival squash, halved and seeded (may substitute)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef or venison
  • 1 tablespoon pressed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ¼ cup dried, unsweetened cranberries
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 bunch chopped green onions
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter, divided
  1. Place halved, seeded squash, cut side down, in a large baking dish with 1 cup water.
  2. Bake squash for thirty minutes at 350 degrees.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large deep skillet, saute garlic and onion in oil.
  4. Add ground beef or venison and cook, breaking up as you go.
  5. Stir in spices and herbs with salt and pepper.
  6. Stir in honey and cranberries; continue cooking for five minutes.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in parsley and green onions.
  8. Remove baked squash from oven; drain and turn cut-side-up.
  9. Scoop filling evenly into squash halves.
  10. Top each stuffed squash half with half a tablespoon butter.
  11. Return to oven and bake for ten minutes.
  12. Note: Feel free to substitute kabocha or other medium squash.
  13. Squash can be cooked in microwave safe dish, same technique, to save time.

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mushroom cauliflower risotto with lemon and basil {paleo Thanksgiving side dish}

so apparently i enjoy some cauliflower risotto.  because i’ve already shared this one.  but when you find a good thing you like… you can make it/order it/enjoy it over and over, or you can, like me, find a way to mix it up!



seriously, though… this “lightened up” version of risotto tastes anything but “light.”  it’s full of deep, buttery flavors brightened up with basil and lemon, and topped with crunchy pine nuts and crispy near-burnt mushrooms.




i think it’s the vision of many food-lovers who are on a restricted diet, to come up with dishes to share with friends and family that don’t feel like they’re “restricted.”  i’m pretty sure that whomever tries this dish will feel like they’re luxuriating in a seriously splurge-worthy dish.  and that’s the goal!




mushroom cauliflower risotto with lemon and basil {primal Thanksgiving side}
a rice-free risotto made with cauliflower, pine nuts, and basil with lemon.
Recipe type: vegetable side
Serves: 4-6 servings
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 2-3 "heads" cremini mushrooms
  • 2 shallots, peeled and halved
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 head of garlic cloves, separated and peeled
  • 2-3 sprigs rosemary
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup fresh basil (reserve several leaves for garnish)
  • ¼ - ½ cup olive oil, plus additional for roasting
  • ½ cup all-natural chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon grass-fed butter
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Rinse cauliflower and cut into florets.
  3. Slice half of one lemon and save remaining half.
  4. On a roasting pan lined with parchment and drizzled with olive oil, place cauliflower, mushrooms, shallots, sliced lemon, garlic, and rosemary.
  5. Drizzle with additional oil and season with salt and pepper; toss to coat.
  6. Place pan into preheated oven and roast approximately 30 minutes, turning occasionally.
  7. Meanwhile, in a mini food processor, blend basil, juice and zest from one lemon, and drizzle in ¼ - ½ cup olive oil, adding just enough to reach a thin puree.
  8. Season to taste with salt, and set aside.
  9. When vegetables are golden and beginning to char, remove from oven.
  10. Set aside 2-3 tablespoons mushrooms and the lemon slices.
  11. In batches (about three small batches), process vegetables in a food processor or high-speed blender until they just resemble "rice" sized pieces.
  12. In a large saucepan, bring broth to a boil.
  13. Reduce heat to simmer and add vegetables.
  14. Stir until warmed through, adding tablespoon butter and zest and juice from remaining lemon half.
  15. To serve: drizzle with basil puree and sprinkle with pine nuts.
  16. Top with a sprinkle of reserved mushrooms and garnish with roasted, sliced lemon.




make it.  eat it.  then tell me what you think!

this recipe from mark’s daily apple inspired me to take a peek at what kind of mushrooms to incorporate in to this recipe.  i’d actually never cooked with cremini before and they looked fun.  they are delicious!

what’s your favorite holiday side dish?


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fearless {book review eric blehm}

“the warrior function is… unmistakable in Scripture… Within the epistles, the mature believing man is often described in militant terms – a warrior equipped to battle mighty enemies and shatter satanic strongholds.

The heart of a Warrior is a protective heart.  The Warrior shields, defends, stands between, and guards… He invests himself in ‘the energy of self-disciplined, aggressive action.’  By Warrior I do not mean one who loves war or draws sadistic pleasure from fighting or bloodshed.  There is a difference between a warrior and a brute.  A warrior is a protector… Men stand taller when they are protecting and defending.” (Tender Warrior, by Stu Weber, as quoted in Fearless, by Eric Blehm)

recently, a friend and i were discussing life thoughts, and she asked me a question that sent me seeking answers for myself.  “how does your view of God line up with the idea of war?  of killing people?”  it was a good question, and one that isn’t new.  really, in all in life, how do we justify the actions that make up our world: a world where killing babies is applauded as motherly instinct is undermined, a world where billions of dollars protect wildlife but children starve and freeze; in short, a world that is broken.


tender warrior


i have a son who has reflected the above quote from my youngest memories of him as an articulate little boy.  once when his younger brother was allowed to briefly play outside while he was in his room, a discipline for some wayward action or another, he shouted in near panic, “do you have any idea what it’s like to be the only one in this family who’s concerned for everyone’s safety?!”  and this belief is deeply rooted in my man-boy… he has been gifted with a passion for protecting those in his life.  and while at times, he is broody and seemingly self-centered, i often remember that this is a burden he believes he carries daily.


recently, after praying for more insight into my son, i remembered a book i’d been given by the publisher for review.  sadly, more for that purpose than realizing it was the answer to my prayer, i opened Fearless, by Eric Blehm, and i couldn’t put it down.  the story of Adam Brown, a SEAL team operator, is at once poignant and awe-inspiring.  while i focus my “protective instincts” on praying for, and digging into/speaking wisdom over my family and those around me, this man devoted, literally, life and limb to the protection of the very freedoms we as americans flaunt and abuse.  the back-story of his faith, his commitment to uphold biblical conviction, and the self-sacrificing commitment of especially his wife, but also his extended family, was at once humbling and a dare to be brave myself – to live “all out” for what i’m called to.  and reading of the broken and tattered path of Adam’s youth also reminded me that each of us is imperfect, and desperately needs grace to get through our foolish choices and inadvertent addictions, but also that when we follow the One who created us, He promises to redeem each of those, either in the short-term or the long-term.


some time ago i wrote about the call i was sensing to live a life undaunted, and reading fearless drove me to remember the truths learned in my own journey.


reading the life story of this incredible man and the family who supported him, which was really an unashamed retelling of the faithfulness of the One who made him, Who chose him, and Who called him Home through self-sacrifice in the name of earthly freedom for others, helped me to identify more with the son who so quietly desires to protect that same freedom.  this is a book i can highly recommend not just to mamas of sons, but to those young men who are learning to be real men in a world where they are increasingly rare.


are you raising boys?  do you have the privilege of knowing a man who has the heart of a tender warrior?  i’d love to hear your words of wisdom…


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