Hi, I'm Sara Chai Butler. I make websites — meaning: content strategy, UI design, graphic design and web development.

Chai's Beef Stew w/ Butternut Squash

2 lbs beef stew meat, cut into large chunks
2 tbsp flour
1 onion, diced finely
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
4-5 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, cut into spears
3 cups chicken broth
3 oz tomato paste
1 lb butternut squash, cubed


  1. In a large mixing bowl, evenly coat the meat with the flour. Don't skip this step! Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  2. In a large pot, brown the garlic and onions very well. Add a 1/2 tsp of salt to get the party started. Add more salt as needed when you taste the stew going forward. Add the fresh herbs. Add pepper.
  3. In a large pan, brown the meat very well on all sides, over high heat. Don't be lazy. Get the beef nice and dark and crispy even! It should really look delicious. You might have to do it in batches. Once the pan is empty, deglaze with a splash of chicken stock.
  4. Add the beef and pan liquids to the pot, stir and cook over low-medium heat.
  5. Meanwhile, chop the carrots and celery and add to the pot as ready.
  6. Cover and cook over low-medium heat for a bit until it starts smelling and looking tasty and flavorful and integrated. Like maybe 10-20 minutes, feel it out. Stir it from time to time.
  7. Once it kinda looks and smells delicious enough to eat as-is, add the chicken broth, enough to cover the meat. 
  8. Once the chicken broth is simmering, stir in the tomato paste thoroughly.
  9. Cover and cook for about 1.5-2 hours, stirring occasionally. You want to add the butternut squash somewhere in the last 30ish minutes. If you don't mind the squash being broken down, there's leeway. Start checking on the meat after about 1.5 hours of cooking and continue monitoring its tenderness. The meat will go from barely edible to acceptable to fall off fork tender quickly in the last half hour. Once it's tender, it's done. Cooking too long has a parabolic effect whereby the tissues break down too much and the meat loses its moisture.
  10. Serve with parmesan cheese!


Chana Masala, Deluxe-est Version


good-quality olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp garam masala*
1 tsp paprika**
3 cardamom pods, lightly crushed –or– 1 pinch ground cardamom
28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes –or– 2–4 tomatoes
1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
2 x 15 ounce cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
6–8 tbsp plain whole-milk yogurt (optional)
lemon wedges (optional)

Film the bottom of a large saucepan for dutch oven with olive oil, and place the pan over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook, stirring frequently, until it is deeply caramelized and even charred in some spots. Be patient. The more color, the more full-flavored the final dish will be.

Reduce the heat to low. Add the garlic, stirring, and add a bit more oil if the pan seems dry. Add the cumin seeds, coriander, ginger, garam masala, and cardamom pods, and fry them, stirring constantly, until fragrant and toasty, about 30 seconds. Add 1/4 cup water, and stir to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until the water has evaporated away completely. Pour in the juice from can of tomatoes, followed by the tomatoes themselves, using your hands to break them apart as you add them; alternatively, add them whole and crush them in the pot with a potato masher. Add the salt.

Raise the heat to medium, and bring the pot to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, add the cilantro and cayenne, and simmer the sauce gently, stirring occasionally, until it reduces a bit and begins to thicken. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Add the chickpeas, stirring well, and cook over low heat for about five minutes. Add 2 tbsp water, and cook for another five minutes. Add another 2 tbsp water, and cook until the water is absorbed, a few minutes more. This process of adding and cooking off water helps to concentrate the sauce's flavor and makes the chickpeas more tender and toothsome. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

Stir in the yogurt, if you like, or garnish with lemon wedges and cilantro. Serve.

Yield: About four servings.

* added more at end
** Chai's addition

Hummus Without Hummus

2 peeled and cut zucchini
3/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
4 cloves garlic
2.5 tsp sea salt
1/2 tbsp ground cumin

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend thoroughly.
Eat it.

Red Lentil Dahl Soup

1 cup dried red lentils
3 1/3 – 4 cups water
1 tsp turmeric
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp lemon juice

Place lentils in a pot with water, turmeric, cinnamon and bay leaf.
Simmer about 20 minutes until the lentils are tender. If the lentils absorb a lot of water and you prefer a thinner dahl, add more along the way. If you prefer a thicker version, add less water from the start.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a pan for 1–2 minutes over high heat. Add cumin and fennel seeds and cook for about 2 minutes until they start to pop. Be careful not to burn them!
Add the ground coriander, chopped tomatoes, and tomato paste to the pan and cook for at least 5 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. When the tomatoes are cooked to your liking, add the tomato mixture in the pan to the pot with the lentils. Add the lemon juice and stir in 2-3 handfuls of baby spinach until it cooks just a bit. Season with salt and pepper.

Mystery Banana Loaf

10 tbsp + 1 tsp butter
~4 mashed bananas
1/2 cup yogurt
2 eggs
1.5 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat 350 degrees
Lightly grease pan with 1 tsp butter
Puree banana, yogurt, eggs, and vanilla
Cake flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt
Add 10 tbsp butter and mix
Add banana mix in 3 batches
Pour into pan and bake until lightly brown and bounces back to touch. ~1 hour 10 minutes
Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes.

Ma's Curry Potatoes

1/2 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 large onion
4–6 tomatoes
4 potatoes
5 tsp curry powder
2 tsp brown sugar
dash of MSG
1 can chickpeas
cilantro to taste

Turn stove on high large pan
Pour olive oil into pan
Put 1 tsp salt to stop oil popping
Put in garlic; wait edges brown
Put in all onions; turn down flame to medium. Coat all onions w/ oil. Turn flame to high again for 8–10 minutes. Stir now and then.
Dump in tomatoes and cook for 2–3 minutes.
Add 2 cups of water.
Add potatoes. Mix it gently.
Add the curry and sugar.
Partially cover.
Wait for it to really start boiling then turn flame to low (but not too low). Cook for 15 minutes.
Add MSG.
Taste, stir, add salt?
Add chickpeas and more water if you want and cook for 8 minutes.
Turn flame to really low and add cilantro. Cook for 8 more minutes.

Chana Masala

1 tbsp butter
1 clove garlic
1/2 onion
1/2 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
3 tbsp chopped tomatoes
1 can of chickpeas
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp salt
some lemon juice
1 tsp ginger

On medium heat, brown garlic and onions in the butter.
Add the coriander, cumin and turmeric and toast for about 30 seconds.
Add the tomatoes. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes.
Add the drained chickpeas and 1/2 cup of water. Boil, then reduce the heat to simmer.
Add the paprika, garam masala, salt and lemon juice. Cook covered for 10 minutes.
Add the ginger and cook for another minute.

Ma's Soupy Tomato Basil Penne

5 tomatoes
a good amount of basil
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
penne (not a lot...)

Over medium heat, add the garlic and salt to the hot oil. Brown the garlic really good.
Add the tomatoes and cook with the lid half covered for 15–20 minutes.
Reduce the heat to low and add more salt. Cook for another 20 minutes while you make the pasta. 
3–4 minutes before the end of cooking, add the basil.
Serve with all the sauce, the parmesan cheese on top.


3 large eggs
3 oz cream cheese (do not soften)
1/8 tsp cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Separate the eggs.
Add the cream cheese to the yolks and mix.
In a separate bowl, combine egg whites and the cream of tartar, and whip the egg whites to stiff peaks.
Using a spatula, gradually fold the yolk mix into the whites, being careful not to break down the whites. 
Butter up a cookie sheet and very gently spoon the mixture onto the sheet, making six mounds.
Flatten each mound slightly.
Bake about 30 minutes (you want them slightly softer, not crumbly).
Let cool on the sheet for a few minutes, then remove to a cooling rack.
Store in a loosely open sack and allow to rest on the counter before use (otherwise they might get too moist). They can be frozen.

Homemade Ketchup

14 oz can tomato sauce
6 oz can tomato paste
2 tsp vinegar
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp allspice
pinch of ground cloves

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan and simmer for 10–15 minutes.
Let cool and transfer to container and then into fridge.

EZ Coconut Griddle Cakes

1/4 cup ground coconut
2 eggs
bit of milk
1 cup ground coconut
1–2 eggs

Cook that shit.

Jon's Kale and Bacon

4 bushels of Lacinato Kale
1 package of Bacon
3 cloves of Garlic
Balsamic Vinegar to taste
Salt to taste
Ice for blanching

Stem the kale.
Blanch* the kale and set aside.
Chop and fry the bacon in a large pan, then remove and set aside.
In the same pan, add olive oil if needed and sautee some garlic.
Add the kale and add back the bacon and sautee until kale is bright green.
Drizzle some balsamic vinegar and mix through to finish.

*Blanching: Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, add salt to taste and the kale. Blanch for 3 minutes, then transfer to a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking, and drain. Take the blanched kale up by the handful and squeeze hard to expel excess water.

Paleohacks Low-Ingredient Meatballs

1–1.5 lbs ground beef
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup milk
1 egg
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt

Form into balls at 1/4 cup each.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10–12 minutes. 


Chai's One-Pot EZ Meatballs w/ Zucchini Noodles

2 lbs ground beef, turkey, or chicken
2 eggs
1 cup frozen spinach or kale
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese
1.5 teaspoons of salt
black pepper
1-2 types of dried herbs to taste — either oregano, thyme, sage, basil would be delicious
fresh basil
1 jar of tomato sauce (or you can make your own with a can of tomatoes, sauteed garlic and onions, herbs mentioned above, salt and pepper)
a little butter
4 zucchinis

Get tomato sauce and butter simmering in a large pot.
In a mixing bowl, combine all the other ingredients (except the zucchini) with a fork or your hands. Make sure it's mixed really well. 
Form the mixture into 1.5 inch balls. Honestly this part is a little tricky because the mix is a bit watery without the breadcrumbs, but it's doable and they turn out well. Place each gently into the simmering sauce. Try to not have them touching each other. 
Cover and cook on low for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, spiralize the zucchinis into noodles. 
5 minutes before the meatballs are done, toss in the noodles. 
Cook uncovered until the noodles are not too firm.

Chai's Chili

3 lbs ground beef, turkey or chicken
6 cloves minced garlic
1 diced onion
1-1.5 tsp salt
black pepper
chili powder
cocoa powder
brown sugar
1-2 bay leaves
28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
tomato paste
chicken stock (optional)
14 oz can beans (optional)

Brown the garlic and onions (add garlic first), really brown, adding 1/2 tsp of salt and some pepper along the way.
Add the spices and get them nice and toasted with the onions and garlic for a good amount of time.
Add a splash of stock to unstick everything from the bottom of the pan.
Cook the beef almost all the way through on medium heat.
Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and mix.
Add a splash of stock and the bay leaf.
Simmer partially covered for 10-20 minutes or so.
Add thoroughly rinsed beans.
Add salt to taste.
Turn off heat and let it chill a little uncovered.
After stirring nicely, serve with Greek yogurt or sour cream, and maybe shredded cheese. 🧀

Miso Ginger Chicken

1.5-2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
A lot of ginger
6 Cloves Garlic
1 Onion
1 heaping tablespoon of red miso paste

Fry the garlic nice and crispy then add the onion and brown it really good.
Add the ginger and get it sizzling.
Trim and chop the thighs into 1-inch pieces and add to the pot.
Mix the miso with 1/4-1/3 cup of hot water and pour on top of the chicken.
Mix it all together really good.
Gently cook the chicken on low-medium heat.

Delicious with cauliflower rice and simple sauteed green veg!

Frittata Ideas

  • Ground chicken/turkey
  • Breakfast sausage
  • Kale/spinach/broccoli
  • Cheese (goat, cheddar, parmesan)
  • Leftover chili
  • Spinach
  • Cauliflower
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