Sunday, December 26, 2010

Apple Cranberry Crumble (Pie)

I started out intending to make a pie.  But, I got a little careless with the crust and it turned out more like a crumble.  I'm sure you could make a pie with no problem:)  In either case, it turned out fantastic -- sweet & tart, with a nice buttery crunch.

  • 1 1/2 cups soaked macadamia nuts
  • 4 Tbs ghee (or coconut oil)
  • 1 1/4 cup coconut milk (get the kind with no added "junk")
  • 1/2 cup frozen apple juice concentrate (get the kind with no added sugar -- 100% apple juice)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh cranberries (I used 1/2 cup)
  • 4-5 small/medium apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a food processor, blend nuts until they make a meal or flour consistency.
  3. Mix with ghee (or coconut oil) and mash into the bottom of a pie plate.
  4. Bake for about 10 minutes (you want the nuts to brown, but not burn).
  5. In a saucepan large enough to fit the apple filling, combine coconut milk, apple juice concentrate, cinnamon, ginger, and cranberries.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until cranberries begin to break down.
  6. Add apples and coat in liquid mixture.
  7. Add to baked pie crust, then bake for another 30-40 minutes, watching to make sure your apples don't burn.
Part of Real Food Wednesday and Pennywise Platter.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sweet & Savory Celery Root Hash

Three months ago, I didn't know what celery root was.  The first time I saw it, I didn't want anything to do with it.  Even though I've acquired a love of a lot of new veggies, including Brussels sprouts, spinach, collards, and okra, celery is still one veggie that I don't really like.  Aside from not really liking celery, I was a little, well, turned off by celery root's ugly appearance.  The first time I tried celery root was with this Ugly Duckling Salad (which is totally awesome, by the way).  Amazingly enough, after I tried it, I decided celery root is pretty good -- a lot more mild than celery -- kind of a mix between celery and potato. If you haven't given it a try, you should.  After that recipe, I got brave and decided to try my own creation.  This makes a great dinner or breakfast (I had it with over-easy eggs the next morning). 

  • 4 oz prosciutto (you could sub bacon) 
  • 1/2 - 1 Tbs ghee or other fat of choice (coconut oil might be really good)
  • 1 celery root, peeled and diced
  • 1 small apple (I used a Honeycrisp), washed and diced
  1. Start by browning prosciutto until it has begun to render its fat, but is not yet crispy (mine didn't have a lot of fat).
  2. Add ghee (if yours has sufficient fat, you can skip this step...or if you use bacon, you won't need ghee as well).
  3. Add diced celery root and cook for about 10 minutes.
  4. Add apple.
  5. Cook until prosciutto is crisp and celery root and apples are tender.
  6. Serve and enjoy.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Buffalo Beef Chili

I'm a big fan of Frank's red hot sauce.  I use it on chicken, beef, pretty much whatever (I know, call me weird!).  When I stumbled across this recipe from Rachel Ray for Buffalo Chicken Chili, I just knew I had to try it!  Problem was, I didn't have several of the ingredients (chicken, tomato sauce).  So, here's my adaptation.  If I would have had other veggies in my fridge (bell peppers, etc.), they would have also gone in the mix. (Not my finest hour as a photographer, sorry:).)

  • 2 Tbs ghee (I think I could have used a little less and been as happy)
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 ribs celery, chopped
  • 5 large cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 Tbs paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups chicken (or beef) stock
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup hot sauce (I used 1/2 cup Frank's Red Hot Sauce)
  • 1 15-oz can diced tomatoes & green chile (I used Muir Glen)
  • 2 Tbs tomato paste (as a thickener)
  • Salt and pepper (if needed)
  1. Place large pot over medium-high heat and add ghee.
  2. Once melted, add the ground beef.  Cook until browned, about 5-6 minutes.
  3. Add carrot, onion, celery, garlic, paprika, and bay leaf.  Cook, stirring frequently, about 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add the stock, hot sauce, and tomatoes.  Bring to a simmer.
  5. Simmer for about 15 minutes to let sauce reduce and bring flavors together.
  6. Remove bay leaf.
  7. Taste.  Adjust seasonings if necessary and serve.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sweet Potato Fries

This isn't a typical dish for me.  I don't generally eat a lot of sweet potatoes -- not because they aren't nutritious, but because they are a little carb dense for someone still working on body composition.  And, I haven't used my fryer in about, oh, 7 years.  But, it's my mom's birthday.  She's a good sport, eating everything I make, without complaint (even the flops!).  Truthfully, though, my real food/Paleo ways are not her cup of tea.  Thus, for her birthday, I wanted something she would enjoy, but made in a way that I felt was "okay" to eat.  Sweet potato fries were my answer...and boy, were they awesome!  I haven't had fast food since I converted, but homemade fries are SO much better...I can't imagine eating them at a fast food place again.  Also, I read that fries retain at least a 1/4 less oil when cooked in beef fat than vegetable oil.  Amazingly enough, they are also pretty easy to make (if your fat is already rendered, the only difficult part is cleaning up the fryer).

  • 2 sweet potatoes (peeled or unpeeled, depending upon your preference)
  • Rendered beef fat (enough for your fryer or deep pan) [I rendered the fat myself...that's an adventure to share for another post!]
  • Kosher salt
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Cinnamon
  1. Wash and peel (if applicable) sweet potatoes.  Cut into "steak" fries (thick wedges).  
  2. Place in a bowl.  Cover with ice water and let sit 15-30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat oil in your fryer (or pan) to 325 degrees F.
  4. Once the oil has reached temperature, dry potatoes and, working in batches, drop into your oil for 3-4 minutes.
  5. After each batch is finished, remove from the fryer and place on towels to drain excess grease.
  6. After all of the potatoes are cooked once, turn the temperature up to 375 degrees F.
  7. Working in batches, fry for another 3-4 minutes until potatoes are crisp.
  8. Remove from oil and immediately season with salt, cayenne pepper, and a little cinnamon.
  9. Best served hot.
Part of Real Food Wednesday.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Spiced Carrot Mash (Simple Carrot Halwa)

I didn't set out to make halwa, I simply wanted to use some ingredients I had in the 'fridge.  If you wanted to make a more elaborate version, add some raisins and nuts.  Traditionally, sugar is added to the mix, but I think carrots are sweet enough without additional sugar.  This is great as a side dish for dinner or perhaps even a light dessert.

  • 5 large carrots, peeled and cubed
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup coconut milk (make sure there is no added "junk" in the milk)
  • 1 Tbs ghee
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • Pinch of cinnamon powder
  1. Boil carrots in water until soft.  Drain and return carrots to pan (or food processor).
  2. Add coconut milk (amount depends upon how many carrots you used and how creamy you want the mixture), ghee, curry, ginger, and cinnamon.  Mash (or blend/puree).  Taste and add additional seasonings as needed.
  3. Serve warm or cold (yum...both versions were good!) and enjoy.
Part of Real Food Wednesday, Pennywise Platter, and Fight Back Friday.  Inspiration abounds, check out some other good ideas.

    Sunday, November 14, 2010

    Testing for Thanksgiving: Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Squash, and Cranberries

    While I'm planning to recreate some of the "classics" for our Thanksgiving dinner, I wanted something new and delicious that celebrates my new attitude and appreciation toward food.  This dish has two vegetables I used to avoid like the plague:  brussels sprouts and squash.  Will you also be shocked to know that I don't know that I've ever had fresh cranberries (my only exposure has been the canned cranberry jelly)?  Finally, I used duck fat that I rendered myself.  I never imagined that I'd ever eat duck fat, let alone render it myself:)  This got two thumbs up from the husband.  I think I could have eaten one entire pan myself!  Also, I was worried that the cranberries would be too sour without any sugar, but they mellow a lot in the baking process, are tempered by the sweet squash, and provide just a little bit of tartness to the dish.

    • 1 butternut squash
    • 1 pound fresh brussels sprouts
    • 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
    • 2/3 to 1 cup duck fat (melted) (or other available fat of your choice -- I think chicken fat would be good as well)
    • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
    1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
    2. Prepare the veggies.  Remove skin, membrane, and seeds (reserve for future use) from squash.  Cut squash into cubes.  Trim and halve brussels sprouts.
    3. Combine squash, sprouts, and cranberries in a large baking dish (I split it into two since I don't have a really large pan).  Sprinkle salt on top and then add duck fat.  Stir to combine.
    4. Place baking dish in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the veggies are beginning to brown, stirring once or twice.
    5. After 25 minutes or so, reduce heat to 350 degrees F and cook another 25-30 minutes until the veggies (especially the brussels sprouts) are cooked to desired tenderness.
    6. Serve and devour.

    Sunday, November 7, 2010

    Testing for Thanksgiving: Chocolate Coconut Pots de Creme Pie

    This will be our first major holiday eating real food and Paleo.  Not only will I be cooking for my husband and mom, but my brother-in-law and his girlfriend are coming in from out of town.  My husband and mom are worried that I'm going to ruin one of their favorite holiday meals (and scare away the girlfriend with my "crazy" eating habits:)).  Oh, ye of little faith...  At any rate, in order to allay their fears, I'm testing possible recipes.  Starting backwards with dessert, I present to you:  Chocolate Coconut Pots de Creme Pie!  I was actually going for a chocolate cream pie, which is what I made for Thanksgiving in a former life (it was one of those "healthy" pies -- low fat, etc.).  But, all of the cream recipes I found (and there was a lot of time searching on the internet) were made with cornstarch (and quite a lot, at that) ingredient I try to avoid.  So, instead, I took a french chocolate pudding mixture (pots de creme) and added in a few ingredients from a traditional cream pie (ghee [well, okay, usually butter, but dairy doesn't agree with ghee it is], and vanilla).  Simply divine, if I do say so myself:)  

    [A side note here:  although I've done my best by using real food and/or high quality ingredients, this should still be considered a treat or special occasion food.  And, if you are like me and still working on your body composition, take it easy on the pie.  Eat as much high-quality meat and veggies as you can first, then savor and enjoy your slice of pie, each delicious bite by delicious bite -- with absolutely no regrets.  I hope that this is sufficiently decadent that one small piece will prove satisfactory.]

    Pudding Ingredients:
    • 2 cups coconut cream (the cream portion of the canned coconut milk (don't shake the can!) -- save the remaining "water" for another use; watch that your coconut milk doesn't have a lot of additional "gunk")
    • 6 (pastured) egg yolks (save the egg whites for another use...or make a meringue for this pie)
    • 9 ounces extremely high quality chocolate, finely chopped
    • 2 Tbs ghee
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    Crust Ingredients:
    • 1 cup soaked nuts of your choice (I used hazelnuts)
    • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
    • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
    • 2 Tbs chocolate chips (I used these ones, which are dairy-,soy-, and gluten-free)

    First, start with the pudding.
    1. In a medium saucepan, bring the coconut milk to a simmer over moderately high heat.
    2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks until combined.
    3. Slowly wisk in about 1/2 cup of the hot milk to temper the egg yolks, then transfer the mixture to the saucepan.  [Take your time with this step -- you do NOT want scrambled eggs!]
    4. Cook the custard over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until mixture is slightly thick, about 2 minutes or so.
    5. Add the chocolate, ghee, and vanilla, then remove the saucepan from the heat.
    6. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted, then strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl.
    7. Return mixture to the saucepan.  Return the saucepan to the stove over low heat and stir until mixture is fairly thick (for me, this took about 25 minutes or so).
    8. Pour the chocolate pudding into a small bowl, place plastic wrap or natural wax paper on the surface of the pudding (to prevent a "skin" from forming) and refrigerate until the pudding is chilled, at least 6 hours or overnight.  [If, after chilling, your pudding has gotten too thick, simply heat it gently with a water bath or a few seconds in the microwave until desired consistency is reached.]
    Next, make the pie crust.
    1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
    2. Pulverize the nuts in your food processor until crumbs are formed (not quite a flour).
    3. Add in coconut flakes and melted oil.  Pulse a few more times.
    4. Melt chocolate chips and add to the mixture.  Pulse a few times until chocolate is mixed.
    5. Press mixture into a pie pan.
    6. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
    7. Let cool.
    Finally, ready to eat.
    1. Pour pudding mixture into the crust.
    2. Serve and enjoy.  [Optional:  Homemade whipped coconut cream on top.

    Sunday, October 31, 2010

    Pumpkin Pancakes

    What can I say?  I love pumpkin!  I woke up today with the notion to make pumpkin pancakes.  These got two thumbs up from the mostly-paleo husband and not-so-paleo mom.  The inspiration for these comes from these totally awesome chocolate pancakes and a similar recipe in Robb Wolf's Paleo Solution.

    • 2 pastured eggs
    • 1/4 cup shredded (unsweetened) coconut flakes
    • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (if using canned, make sure the only ingredient is pumpkin)
    • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond or other nut butter (if you have a nut allergy, you might try unsweetened sunbutter)
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
    • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
    • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
    • Coconut oil (for cooking)
    1. Heat griddle or pan.
    2. Whisk the ingredients together until a smooth batter is formed.
    3. Drop some coconut oil onto griddle or into pan.  Allow to melt.
    4. Add pancake batter and cook on one side until bubbles start to form on the top and around the edge, and bottom is lightly golden.  Flip and cook another minute or two.
    5. Serve with fruit, unsweetened jelly, maple syrup, or other condiment of choice (also good plain or with a little coconut butter on top).

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010

    CrockPot Beef with New Mexico Red Chile Sauce

    One of my favorite foods is the New Mexico chile pepper.  Red or green, it doesn't generally matter, I love them both.  This recipe is a slight adaptation of one of my favorite dishes - carne adovada - pork in a red chile sauce.  I've made a slight variation of this recipe many times with great success.  I've changed things up to use grass-fed beef and cook it in the crock-pot.  

    Warning:  in order for the flavors to fully develop, you need to allow at least 24 hours or more for marinating time.

    • 3-4 pounds grass-fed beef (I used a roast)
    • 16 New Mexico dried red chile pods
    • 4 cloves garlic
    • 1/2 Tbs kosher salt (more or less, to taste)
    • 1/8 tsp oregano
    1. Broil chiles in the oven for about 30 seconds each side, until they are black and blistered.  Leave oven door slightly cracked, and be mindful of the fumes.
    2. Once the chiles are cooked, soak them in boiling water for 45-60 minutes (again, be mindful of the fumes).   Reserve this water, as you'll use it to make the sauce. Then, transfer them to cool water.
    3. While chiles are soaking, cut beef into cubes (about the size of stew meat).
    4. Once the chiles have cooled enough, use your hands to remove the outer skin and the seeds (if desired; the seeds are where the heat is, so use to your taste).  I recommend some gloves during this process.  Please be careful of touching your eyes after you handle the chiles.
    5. Place the chiles, garlic, salt, oregano, and about 2 cups of the water in a blender or food processor.  Blend until a nice sauce has formed.
    6. Place the meat into a plastic ziplock bag or other device appropriate for marinating meat.  Add sauce and make sure all of the meat is covered.
    7. Marinate in the refrigerator at least 24 hours.  I marinated around 36 hours.
    8. Place meat in a crock-pot.  Set time for low, 8 hours.
    9. Serve and enjoy!  The meat should be really tender, with a flavorful red sauce.
    Part of Real Food Wednesday  by Kelly the Kitchen Kop.  If you are looking for more real food ideas, check out the other links!

    Tuesday, October 19, 2010

    Savory Beef and Squash Pie

    Holy cow, Batman, this dish was so good that I couldn't wait to share it with you.  The squash is slightly sweet, counteracting the spicy and savory goodies underneath.  I love this recipe because you could use whatever veggies you have on hand.  Don't have those I used?  No worries, toss in whatever you have in your 'fridge.  Great way to use up leftover veggies.

    The funny thing is, a year ago (okay, seven months ago even), I wouldn't have touched squash with a ten-foot pole.  I most certainly would not have thought squash tasted "sweet".  How the mighty have fallen:)  Our taste buds can, and do, change when you stop the processed food and continue to try new things!

    • Butternut Squash - 1 decent size or 2 small
    • Coconut oil (or ghee) - 1 Tbs or so
    • Leeks (or onions), diced - 1 cup or so
    • Sliced mushrooms - 8 oz or so
    • Ground beef (grass fed; or other combination of ground meat) - 2 lbs
    • Emeril's Creole Seasoning (note:  I use a lot less salt than the recipe calls for, you may need to adjust depending upon your preference for salt) - 3-4 Tbs (to taste - you probably want to start with less and add until it tastes good to you)
    • Garlic powder - 1 Tbs (to taste)
    • Onion powder - 1 tsp (to taste)
    • Kosher salt - 1/4 tsp (to taste) (if you use the Emeril Creole Seasoning per the recipe, you'll probably want to omit the salt here)
    • 2 tomatoes, diced
    • Tomato paste, 1 Tbs
    • Fresh spinach - 2 to 3 cups
    • Coconut Butter - 2 Tbs (this will depend upon how much squash you have)
    • Coconut Milk (canned, get the kind without the "gunk") - 1/2 cup (again, this will depend on your squash, use less and add more as needed)
    • Cayenne pepper - 1/4 tsp (maybe a little more if you like things spicy)
    • Cinnamon - 1-2 tsp
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  
    2. Cut squash in half.  Remove seeds and membranes.  Put in a pan to roast.  Roast for 350 degrees for about 50 minutes (you can also use water in the roasting process, but this worked for me and seemed easier).
    3. Heat oil over medium heat.  Once heated, add leeks (or onions).  After a few minutes, add mushrooms.  Cook until tender, maybe 5-10 minutes.
    4. Add ground beef and cook until no longer pink.
    5. Add spices (Emeril though salt), tomatoes, and tomato paste.  Cook for a few minutes until tomatoes begin to release their juices.  Then add the spinach.  Cook until spinach is wilted.
    6. Put ground beef mixture in the bottom of your roasting pan.
    7. Remove cooked squash flesh from the skin.  With the flesh, puree the coconut butter, coconut milk, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon until desired consistency is reached (I put this all in the food processor for a few quick whirls; you could also use a hand blender or hand-held potato masher...whatever you have that works).  Spread squash puree over the tom of the ground beef mixture.
    8. Bake about 20 minutes.
    Use curry powder instead of Creole seasoning; add fresh ginger and some type of spicy pepper to meat mixture; and add a little powdered ginger to squash.

    Part of the Real Food Wednesday carnival at Kelly the Kitchen Kop; there are some great website you should check out! 

    Saturday, October 16, 2010

    Flat Bread

    Bread?  Have I gone mad?  Maybe I need to review the foods one eats while enjoying the Paleo lifestyle?  'Cause eating Paleo, one doesn't eat bread unless it's a rare indulgence (and you aren't gluten intolerant!).  And if it's made with nut flours, well, that's a pass too, at least most days.  

    But hold on a minute before you stop reading about this totally awesome recipe I found here.  With only 3 (yes, 3) ingredients, one of which is a vegetable, you are going to be blown away.   Well, maybe not blown away in the same way you would with a fresh loaf of bread baked in a French bakery you found while walking down the streets of Paris...but pretty good, actually:)  I must admit I had doubts, but I was pleasantly surprised.  Another bonus:  an extra touch of veggies.  Although I'm lucky in that my family loves veggies, if you have kiddos or others who don't, this might be a great way to sneak in some extra veggies.  These come out thin and airy, but surprisingly sturdy (although I'm not sure you'd want them for say, sloppy joes).  Stay tuned for what I do with these bad boys in future posts (besides just eat them out of the pan...yum).

    • 1/3 cup cooked, drained, and pureed veggies (you can probably use about anything; I used cauliflower)
    • 4 egg yolks
    • 6 egg whites (save the extra 2 yolks for something else)
    • 1 tsp salt (I think next time I'll use 3/4 tsp)
    • Ghee or oil to grease pans
    1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
    2. Cook and puree veggies.  If you already have leftover veggies, go ahead and puree them.  I tried to get a nice, smooth consistency.  You want the mash to be pretty thick, so make sure you drain your veggies first before you puree.
    3. Separate eggs.  Beat egg whites with salt until they are stiff.
    4. Mix yolks with veggies.
    5. Carefully fold veggie/yolk mixture with egg white mixture until blended.
    6. Grease the dickens out of a pan (or use Silpat, which I don't have...but may need some day:)).  Seriously, this is important.  I didn't grease my first batch well enough (though I thought I did at the time) and I lost half of my "bread" to the bottom of the pan.
    7. Either spread mixture over pan (which I did) or create pancake-like shapes (for hamburger "buns" perhaps).  Cook until top is lightly golden browned, about 30 minutes.
    8. Serve and enjoy.

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    Berry Muffins

    Early this summer, I  followed the Whole30 program designed by Dallas and Melissa over at Whole9.  As part of the Whole30, they decree we "do not try to shove our old, crappy diet into a shiny new mold.  This means no “Paleo-fying” existing less-than-healthy recipes – no “Paleo” pancakes, pizza or Fudge Babies".   As advertised, the Whole30 program completed changed my life.  Seriously -- it's that good of a program.  Indeed, I have almost completely let go of emotional eating (hate to say it, but shoving mouth-fulls of broccoli mindlessly into the pie hole doesn't work at all the same as Cheetos do) and have eliminated my awful sweet cravings.  If you haven't given it a go, you really should.  And now, even months after the Whole30, I eat pretty much the same as I did before (okay, maybe a little more bacon or brisket, but other than that, pretty much the same:)).  However, my dear husband and mother, who are will go on through most of this Paleo journey with me, are not willing to shake everything.  Sweet treats being one of them.   Breakfast being another.  While they don't mind eggs for breakfast, they aren't willing to go with me on leftovers (I don't know why....I think it's all the marketing we've been subjected to telling us what foods are "breakfast" foods versus "dinner" foods...but I digress) and occasionally request something muffins.  If they are going to eat these kinds of foods, then I prefer them to be made with better ingredients...hence, the muffin recipe.  And with only 1-2 T of sugar, and 12 muffins, they aren't really that bad for them.

    I've had to tinker with this quite a bit to get the right consistency (either way too dry or way too moist).  But, by George, I think I've finally got it.  Let me just add, if you are working to lose weight, I'd stay clear of these until you either really need a treat (and then I'd probably make my way over to these cookies or something similar) or are closer to your ideal body composition.  Similarly, if you are working to overthrow your sweet demon, I'd hold off on these.

    • 6 eggs
    • 1/2 cup coconut butter (I like it softened, at "room temperature")
    • 1-2 T honey
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1/2 cup coconut milk (I use the "cream" part from canned coconut milk -- don't shake the can before you open it and the "cream" will rise to the top)
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 cup coconut flour
    • Frozen berries (no need to defrost), small bag, no sugar added (blueberries are probably my husband's favorite)
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    2. Mix together eggs, coconut butter, honey, vanilla, and coconut milk.  Set aside.
    3. Sift together salt, baking powder, and coconut flour.
    4. Slowly stir in dry ingredients with wet ingredients.
    5. Fold in frozen berries.
    6. Fill muffin tins with mixture (I got 12 muffins).
    7. Optional - sprinkle top with a little bit of coconut butter (that's the white stuff you see in the picture above -- it didn't melt, but the natives didn't seem to mind:)).
    8. Cook about 33 minutes or until knife comes out clean (your oven might be different, so start checking around 30 minutes or so).
    9. Let cool slightly and then serve.

    Monday, October 11, 2010

    Cocoa-Rubbed Steaks

    This isn't really the most novel recipe for a steak rub, but it was sure good!  I personally love steak any which way.  Salt and pepper work just fine.  But every now and then, I'm looking for something different.  I saw some old Bobby Flay episode on the food network, where he was making coffee-rubbed steak, and thought how great a nice cocoa-rubbed steak would be (I use different spices than he does, but I would think that his recipe, where cocoa is subbed for the coffee, would be great as well).  We don't drink coffee, you see, and so I had to move on to something we did have on hand (I know we are the 2 weirdest folks on the planet -- but there you have it).

    • 1 large steak (preferably some type of grass-fed meat)
    • 1-2 T coconut oil
    • 1 1/2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1/4 tsp each:  salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, and cinnamon
    • 1/8 tsp ground ginger

    1. Heat skillet.
    2. Mix spices (cocoa powder through ginger) together.
    3. Rub one side of the steak with coconut oil and spice mixture.
    4. Place in screaming hot skillet to sear.  Meanwhile, but other side of steak with coconut oil and spice mixture (careful here not to burn yourself).
    5. Sear other side.
    6. Reduce heat to low and cook through under cooked to your liking.

    Sunday, October 10, 2010

    Pumpkin Custard Cups

    Okay, so a bit of warning before I get into this recipe.  I don't each much sweet food anymore; a bit of fruit every now and again (though less now that we're moving away from summer).  For this reason, it doesn't take much for me to think something is sweet.  I also rarely crave "sweet" food these days (hooray for conquering the sweet demon!) and don't generally eat foods that encourage my dormant sweet tooth (although I will probably indulge in the chocolate cake I'm planning for my dear husband's birthday...but that'll be another post for another day).  Pumpkin and coconut are naturally sweet ingredients to me, so I didn't add any additional sweetener.  Depending upon your taste, you might add some fruit (pureed (ripe) banana or dates) or other sugar (honey, maple syrup, coconut crystals, etc. -- maybe 1 -2 T).

    Anyway, pumpkin is a quintessential fall food in my mind.  I love it from October through December (okay, any time of the year really, but especially so this time of the year:)).  With all of the lovely pumpkins in the store, and a crisp to the air (finally), I couldn't help but make something that makes the most of one of my favorite vegetables.  This recipe is super-duper easy AND tastey (at least I thought so).  In my mind, a perfect breakfast (with a side of buffalo andouille sausage) and I can't wait for breakfast again tomorrow.

    • 1 can pumpkin (15 oz can or about 1.5-2 cups mashed pumpkin; make sure if you get the canned kind the only ingredient is pumpkin)
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/4 cup coconut butter (you want it to be softened, but not melted...think room temperature butter)
    • 1/2 cup coconut milk (if you use the canned kind, you want the "cream" portion that rises to the top if you don't shake the can)
    • 1-3 Tbs cinnamon (yes, I really love cinnamon!)
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1/4 tsp each, ground: nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and cardamon
    1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees (don't worry, we'll turn it down!).
    2. Mix ingredients together until they are all completely combined (you want them mixed up well so that you have a pie consistency, and don't get chunks of "scrambled eggs").
    3. Pour into muffin cups (I got  6 very full muffin cups).  You could put this into a pie pan (you'll probably need to adjust your baking time), but I wanted a "grab and go" breakfast this week.
    4. Put in the oven at bake for 10 minutes.  Then, turn down the oven to 350 degrees and bake another 40 minutes or so.  When your knife comes out clean, your cups are done.  Note:  your oven may well cook differently.  You may want to check the doneness after 30 minutes or so.
    5. Let cool before attempting to remove from the muffin pans (unless you don't care what it looks like...which I didn't when I wanted to taste one this morning).

    Monday, October 4, 2010

    Make-ahead Beef in a Spicy Tomato Sauce (Chhoyala)

         I don't know if I've mentioned it, but my dear husband is from Nepal.  More specifically, he is from the Kathmandu valley and is a Newar.  According to my good friends at Wikipedia (they know everything, right?), the term Newar applies roughly to the descendants of citizens of Medieval Nepal (consisting of Kathmandu Valley as the capital and the ever changing territory with the farthest extent being Gandaki river to the west and the Koshi river to the east, Tibet to the north and Terai to the south).  They are united by their common language, which is Newari.  

         Anyway, this is a dish introduced to me by my sister-in-law during Thanksgiving one year.  Basically, it's beef in a spicy tomato sauce.  Yum.   Chhoyala (don't ask me how to pronounce this - my Nepali and Newari are terrible - even my husband can barely understand me, even when he knows what I'm trying to say) is a traditional party dish, typically made early in the day and served later.  One thing about the Newars, they love to party.  There is a festival and feast for everything you can imagine. Yes, feasts.  Newars are big on feasts, or big parties, with lots of food.  Much of the food is simple to prepare, yet very tasty -- my kind of food!  Chhoyala is more than likely to be a snack food or appetizer, but I like it as a main dish.

         It's a perfect make-ahead on Sunday afternoon when I'm in the mood to cook.  And little prep the night before, and voila, dinner ready for Monday night, when I'm dragging myself home from work and thegym and don't feel like cooking...but sure feel like eating:)  Although you can eat it right after it's finished, it tastes WAY better the next day after the flavors have a chance to meld and the tomatoes have time to break-down (tenderize) the meat.  

         In the Kathmandu valley, one would typically make Chhoyala with water buff.  Since I can't find water buff here (okay, I've not yet had buff, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't taste like chicken), I used beef stew meat, but you could use pork, lamb, chicken, buffalo, etc.  You would typically eat this with beaten rice (and have some rice wine), but since I rarely indulge in rice, I serve it with cauliflower rice or shredded cabbage.


    • Stew meat, 2 lbs (use any meat you have on hand - if you are using another type of meat, you'll want to cut it into cubes)
    • Turmeric powder, 2 tsp
    • Salt, 1/4 tsp (or to taste)
    • 4-5 large tomatoes (you can also use canned, but make sure you get the fire roasted tomatoes, preferably without salt) 
    • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
    • 1/4-1/2 tsp fresh ginger, chopped
    • 1 Tbs cayenne pepper, or to taste (alternatively, if you have jalapenos or other peppers, you could use those as your heat component)
    • 1 Tbs oil 
    • 1 tsp fenugreek (also known as methi seed) (optional)
    1. Roast tomatoes if using fresh.  I pop mine under the broiler of my toaster oven.  You could also put them on your stove if you have a gas range or throw them on the grill.  Roast until blistered, turning as necessary to ensure blistering on all sides.
    2. Coat meat with turmeric powder and salt.  You have two choices with the meat:  either boil it in a little water until cooked or brown until no longer pink (or to desired doneness).  Both taste really good.  I like them both equally well.  Once cooked, remove from heat and reserve.
    3. Once tomatoes are roasted, transfer to a food processor.  Add garlic, ginger, and cayenne pepper (or peppers).  Blend until mixed.
    4. If you are using the fenugreek, heat oil in a pan.  Add fenugreek and cook until blackened.  The dish tastes fine without the fenugreek - but if you have it - then use it.  I'll introduce you to other recipes that use fenugreek if you have an interest in trying it, but don't want to waste the money for a "one-time" spice.
    5. Add fenugreek (if using) and oil to the tomato mixture.  Mix again.  Taste, adjust seasonings as necessary (you may need a little bit of salt here).
    6. Once pureed, mix the tomato mixture with the beef.  Refrigerate at least 8 hours, but preferably overnight.  Tastes great cold or reheated.

    Sunday, October 3, 2010

    Nepali Wedding Soup

    It's cold outside today.  About a 25 degree drop in temperature compared to yesterday;  indeed, today is the first day it has actually felt like fall!  What better way to celebrate the change in seasons than a steaming bowl of soup?  

    This is a different take on one of my favorite soups -- the Italian wedding soup -- modified to include traditional Nepali flavors and zucchini instead of pasta.

    For the soup:
    • Ghee or oil
    • 3/4 onion, diced
    • 1 red bell pepper, diced (optional - I had one that needed to be used before it went bad)
    • 2-3 T curry powder, or to taste (start on the low end, you can always add more as you cook)
    • 1 T garlic, minced
    • 1 T ginger, minced (you can store your ginger in the refrigerator to keep it on hand; but, if you don't have any, sub ginger powder, maybe about 1 tsp)
    • 2 tomatoes, chopped
    • 1 or 2 carrots, chopped
    • 1 zucchini, cut in rounds or long, like noodles
    • 4 cups homemade beef or chicken stock
    • 1 jalapeno pepper, kept whole, but sliced lengthwise (it's going to act like a bay leaf)
    • Meatballs (see below)
    • Spinach
    For the meatballs:
    • 2 lb ground meat (you can use any combination; I'm particularly fond of beef/pork)
    • 1/4 onion, VERY finely diced (you don't want to be eating large chunks of onion in your meatballs)
    • 1/2 cup cilantro, diced
    • 1 tsp garlic, finely diced
    • 1 tsp ginger, finely diced (again, you could use ginger powder if you don't have fresh)
    • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
    • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
    • 1/2 tsp black pepper
    • 1 jalapeno pepper, VERY finely diced (for less heat, omit the seeds)
    1. Heat ghee/oil in a soup pan.  Add onion and red bell pepper.  Cook until onions are translucent, but not browned.
    2. Add curry powder, garlic, ginger, and tomatoes.  Mix with onions and peppers and cook another minute or so.
    3. Add carrots, zucchini, stock, and jalapeno.
    4. Bring to a simmer.
    5. Meanwhile, mix all ingredients for meatballs (ground meat through jalapeno pepper).  Form into meatballs.
    6. Add meatballs to soup.  Let cook about 5-10 minutes, until vegetables are tender and meatballs are cooked through.
    7. Add spinach and cook until spinach is wilted.
    8. Taste, and adjust seasonings as necessary.
    9. Remove jalapeno pepper and serve.

    Tuesday, September 28, 2010

    The Proof is in the Pudding: This Paleo Stuff Works

    For the most part, my intent with this blog is to share tasty Paleo recipes that others might enjoy.  But, I just had to share today's exciting news.  This Paleo stuff works!  Now, I already knew that it helped with body re-composition (i.e., weight loss), because I've lost a fair number of inches and my husband lost his belly.  And I already knew that it helped my performance in the gym -- both lifting and CrossFit metcons.  And I knew that it helped alleviate my PCOS symptoms.  But even with all that, most people attribute it to plain ol' diet changes -- you know, that it's really that I just decreased my calories (although I actually eat more calories now than before, but whatever).  I know different, but it's hard to prove that food composition really matters.  

    But today, I have some tangible proof (okay, maybe people will make the same arguments...).  My husband has had high cholesterol the entire time we've been married -- it started at the ripe old age of 22 for him (me, though overweight most of my life, great cholesterol, go figure).  I cooked for him the way you are supposed to according to the American Heart Association.  You know, low-fat, lots of fiber through whole grains, etc.  He's always been active and pretty much at his ideal weight (even with a small beer gut in the last year or two).  But always the cholesterol.  We figured it must be hereditary...not much else we could do, right?  Lipitor was in his future.  

    Fast forward to 6 months of primarily Paleo eating for the hubby, and guess what the results showed today?  Cholesterol that is in the normal range.  Seriously -- only 6 months of generally eating Paleo and we've accomplished something that 12 years of the SAD couldn't accomplish.  For me, the proof is in the pudding...or should I say lab work?

    I imagine if you've somehow found my little blog that you're already interested in Paleo.  But if you're sitting on the fence, wondering if you can really make this kind of commitment, I encourage you to give it a try.  What do you have to lose (except for inches and some points on the bad cholesterol)?

    A quick and easy recipe coming your way soon.  Lots of traveling this week, which means no cooking at home or recipes to share.

    Friday, September 24, 2010

    Baked "Spaghetti"

    My sweetie traveled all week and said his stomach hurt from all of the eating out.  This was my creation for his "welcome home" dinner.  I really wanted to try a chicken satay, but didn't get my chicken marinating (maybe tomorrow?).  Of course, his rental had a flat and he didn't get home until late...but he thought it was a great lunch today:)  I'm always looking for inspiration and this one comes from a baked spaghetti dish my best friend's mom made.

    • Ghee or other oil 
    • 1 onion, diced
    • 2 bell peppers, diced (I used one red and one orange)
    • Mushrooms, diced, about 8 oz or so
    • 1.5 pounds sausage (look for a kind with no nitrates, and if you can find it, no sugar)
    • Olives, sliced or diced (I had about 10 sitting in the 'fridge)
    • 3-4 cups spaghetti sauce (homemade or jarred -- if jarred, look for one with no sugar, and if you're really hardcore, no alcohol)
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste
    • 3-4 zucchinis, sliced lengthwise
    • 2/3 cup macadamia nuts, crushed
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    2. Heat ghee or oil in a large skillet or pot (big enough for veggies, meat, and sauce)
    3. Chop veggies (onion, peppers, mushrooms).
    4. Saute veggies until they are tender, but not brown.
    5. Add sausage and cook until no longer pink.
    6. Add olives, spaghetti sauce, garlic, and red pepper flakes.
    7. Simmer for a few minutes to allow the flavor to meld.
    8. Slice zucchinis.  If you have a mandolin, you can make pretty fast work of this.  I cut them longways (is that even a word?), for a long "noodle".
    9. Crush macadamia nuts.  You could whirl them fast in your food processor or take out the stress of the day and use a meat mallet
    10. Pour a ladle-full of sauce on the bottom of your baking dish.  Put a layer of zucchini "noodles".  Then add more sauce.  Layer until you are finished, ending with a layer of sauce and covering all of the zucchini.  Top with nuts.
    11. Put in the oven and bake between 15-20 minutes, or until nuts are browned, but not burnt.  Then, cover loosely with foil and bake another 15-20 minutes.  Remove, serve, and enjoy.  It might be a little "saucey", depending upon how thick your sauce is.

    Wednesday, September 22, 2010

    Browned Cabbage with Hot Pepper

    I get a lot of questions asking what I eat for breakfast.  My usual response is: "uh, food?".  I don't know if folks think I eat small children and pets or if they just can't fathom life without milk & cereal; toast & jelly; bagels & cream cheese; etc.  After I mention the food part, I move to the basic explanation: "meat, good fat, and veggies".  That usually leads to the question: "so, what do eat"?  (I'm not kidding here.)  In response to that question, the answer for today is eggs and browned cabbage.  The cabbage (and eggs) is great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  It come straight from A Fresh Taste of Italy, although it's so simple, I can't believe I needed a recipe:)

    • 1 large head of cabbage (about 3 pounds)
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 4 large cloves of garlic, chopped
    • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper, or to taste
    • Kosher salt, to taste (optional)
    1. Cut cabbage into 1-inch pieces.
    2. Heat oil, garlic, and peppers in a large pot over medium-low heat.  Cook until garlic is fragrant, but not brown.
    3. Add cabbage and stir to coat cabbage with oil.  Cover and cook, stirring often, for about 20 minutes or so.  Cabbage should be lightly browned and tender.
    4. Sprinkle lightly with salt, if needed.

    Tuesday, September 21, 2010

    Curried Ground Meat (Keema, Part 2)

    Sorry about the title, inspiration left me.  Anyway, my real inspiration came from one of the recipes in Robb Wolf's new book The Paleo Solution.  As an aside, if you haven't read Robb's new book, you really should.  It's good.  He's funny.  It's a nice blend of the science from the Paleo Diet and the fun writing style of The Primal Blueprint.  Even if you're a Paleo expert, I think you could gain something from the book.  Anyway, back to the recipe.  As I looked at the recipe for Curried Pork, I thought, wow, that looks like a simplified version of Keema, with an added can of coconut milk and some fresh spinach.  But that's one thing I love about making Paleo foods -- the possibilities are endless, and the recipes can be as simple or complex as your little heart desires.  [I made a "double" batch so we'd have leftovers, but you can easily cut this recipe in half.]

    • 1 Tbs coconut oil
    • 1 onion, diced (optional)
    • 1 lb ground beef
    • 1 lb ground pork (use any combination of ground meat that you want)
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 can diced tomatoes (get the no salt added kind) or 2 firm tomatoes, diced (optional)
    • 1 Tbs ginger (optional)
    • 2-4 Tbs curry powder
    • 1 tsp minced hot pepper (optional)
    • 1 can coconut milk (get the full-fat variety)
    • Spinach (I had a big tub)

    Heat oil over medium heat until hot.  Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the meat and cook until no longer pink.  Add the garlic, tomatoes, ginger, curry powder, hot peppers, coconut milk, and spinach.  Cook for a few minutes until blended together (maybe about another 5 minutes).  Cook about another 10 or 15 minutes until sauce has boiled down.  Taste and add more curry powder if needed.

    Monday, September 20, 2010

    Grandma's Beef Salad Salad

    When I was growing up, we had a lot of beef roasts.  I don't really know why, but I think it was because the meat was fairly inexpensive and they didn't take a lot of on-hands cooking time (my grandma didn't really like to cook, although she always had dinner prepared for us.  Love you grandma!).  One of my favorite things was what she did with the leftover roast.  Basically, we had "beef salad sandwiches".  In other words, leftover beef, mixed with mayo, and onion, then spread on a sandwich and topped with lettuce and tomato.  If we had celery, pickles, and hard-boiled eggs, we might add that to the mixture.  Who knows why I liked it - certainly nothing special or fancy.  Anyway, today the idea came to me when thinking about what to do with the leftover roast from yesterday.  I remembered how my grandma made the beef salad, but swapped out the mayo with avocado.   I also stuffed the meat mixture into a tomato and served it on spinach. You could use many different ingredients and come up with the salad that fits your palate (and what you have in the 'fridge!).

    • Cooked meat, chopped (I used beef roast)
    • Avocados
    • Cayenne pepper (if I would have had a defrosted New Mexico green chile or jalapeno, I would have added that instead)
    • Diced onion
    • Tomatoes, insides removed (or, you could just slice the tomato on put on top of the salad)
    • Spinach and/or other salad fixings
    1. Dice meat.
    2. Dice onion.
    3. Core tomatoes for stuffing (or slice).
    4. Mash avocados until they are creamy.  Add cayenne pepper and diced onion.  Then add meat.
    5. Stuff avocados with meat mixture.  Serve on a bed of spinach.

    Sunday, September 19, 2010

    Beef Roast

    I've always liked beef, including beef roasts.  The problem was, the roasts we had growing up, were, well, dry (sorry, grandma!).  When I got to college, I thought that the solution was to top it with a can of cream of mushroom soup.  Now adays, I like to think I've progressed to something better.  There's a nice crust on top, but the meat is exceptionally tender.  Even my husband, who has never typically liked beef roast, thinks this version turns out pretty good.  

    You'll want to adjust the seasonings for your taste and the size of your roast.  I had a pretty big roast.

    • 1 beef roast
    • 1/4 to 1/2 Tbs kosher salt
    • 1/2 Tbs black pepper
    • 2 Tbs garlic powder
    • 1/2 to 1 Tbs onion powder
    • Juice of 1 lemon or lime
    • Optional: vegetables (e.g., carrots, turnips, brussels sprouts, etc.)
    1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
    2. Mix salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.  Then mix in lemon or lime juice to form a paste.
    3. Coat the top and sides of roast with paste.  Put roast in cooking pan and add vegetables (if using)
    4. Put roast in oven and cook for about 5-6 hours (cooking time will vary depending upon the size and thickness of your roast as well your oven).
    5. You'll know your roast is done when it falls apart with a fork and the paste has formed a nice crust.  If it's still tough when you pull it out of the oven, pop it back in and cook some more.