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Archive for June, 2012

Chorizo and sweet potato breakfast casserole

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

One of my major difficulties in sticking with the Whole30 in the past was breakfast. I’ve always had the thought that breakfast should include cheese of some sort. Going dairy-free for breakfast is harder than any other meal. Eggs and cheese is a perfect combination. What a sad life it is without them.

Turns out I just wasn’t creative enough. This time, I was prepared. I spent a couple of weeks before I started poring through all of my favorite paleo recipe sites, putting every recipe that sounded remotely good into Pinterest so I could access them later. One that I found that sounded good was Everyday Paleo’s Southwestern Frittata. And really, the only way I could improve upon it was to make it more southwestern, by replacing the ground beef with homemade chorizo.

To make the chorizo, put two pounds of ground pork into a bowl. Add a tablespoon and a half of smoked sea salt; a tablespoon of ancho chile powder; a half-tablespoon each of paprika, chipotle chile powder, and minced garlic; and a half-teaspoon each of dried oregano, ground coriander, black pepper, and cumin. Mix it thoroughly with your hands. Add a tablespoon and a half of red wine vinegar, mix with your hands again until the meat is a uniform texture, and refrigerate for an hour.

While your chorizo is chilling, chop your jalapeños and onions, and shred your peeled sweet potatoes. Grease your baking dish with bacon grease. For the record, I doubled the recipe and it fit perfectly in a 13×9-inch casserole dish. I just had to bake it a bit longer.

Other than replacing the ground beef with chorizo, I followed the Everyday Paleo recipe exactly. And I cannot wait to have some of it tomorrow morning.

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Mofongo with ropa vieja

Saturday, June 16th, 2012

One of my coworkers just got back from a vacation in Puerto Rico and raved about a dish she had there called mofongo. She described it as a garlicky mashed plantain mound with whatever meat you wanted. I adore plantains–they were my favorite carb even before going paleo–ahead of bread, potatoes, rice, you name it. So I googled for a recipe. Turns out it’s pretty simple–fried then mashed slices of green plantain mixed with ground up pork rinds and minced raw garlic. It’s usually topped with some sort of stew. I HAD to make this.

I’ll start with the stew, because it takes the longest to make. I altered a version of the crockpot ropa vieja recipe from PaleOMG. First, remove the bones, if any, from your chuck roast, and save them for stock. Salt and pepper both sides of your roast and brown it on both sides in your pressure cooker.

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Remove the meat and add your peppers, onion, and spices–I added minced garlic here instead of inserting the garlic into the roast.

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When your vegetables soften, add the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce, along with some sliced pimento-stuffed olives (I don’t have the aversion to them that PaleOMG does, and they are really, really good in this dish) and the bay leaves. Put the meat back in, submerging it as much as possible, and cook on high pressure for an hour, allowing the steam to release naturally before opening the lid. Alternatively, you can do it in a crockpot, as PaleOMG suggests, or covered on the stovetop in a Dutch oven on a low simmer until the meat pulls apart easily.

When the meat is almost done, start the mofongo. Peel four green plantains. This is easier said than done–you’ll likely have to score the peels with a knife to remove them. Slice each plantain into 1/2-inch slices on the diagonal and soak the slices in a bowl of salted water for 15 minutes. Drain them and dry them before frying.

Coat the bottom of a frying pan with a layer of either olive or coconut oil, using medium heat. Add the plantains in batches and fry for five minutes per side. They should be golden but not brown. Put each batch in a large mixing bowl when it’s done.

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While the plantains are frying, grind up pork rinds or chicharrones in a food processor. You’ll want a cup of crumbs–just keep adding more until you get what you need. I think about 2-3 ounces will do it. Add the crumbs to the plantains.

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Using a potato masher or a food processor, mash together the plantains and pork rind crumbs. Add some olive oil if necessary. Mix in 4 cloves of minced raw garlic. Using your hands, mash the mixture into balls.

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Shred the meat from your stew into small chunks or strands and ladle it over the mofongo, making sure to get plenty of veggies and liquid.

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This was ridiculously good. All the flavors go together perfectly. If you want, you might want to try garnishing it with some sliced avocado, but it’s not at all necessary. It’s dense and filling–a little goes a long way. I doubled the recipe and it made enough for two dinners, a Preschooler plate, and eight good-sized lunch portions. And sorry, Coworker, but I’m not sharing!

Pressure cooker pot roast with carrot and parsnip gravy

Friday, June 15th, 2012

Husband just spent five days on a business trip, and likely did a lot of things to wreck his gut. I texted him as he was heading home to ask what he’d like for dinner, and he asked for something with bone broth. Being a good wife who is well aware of the health benefits of bone broth, I obliged.

You’ll begin this one by browning all sides of a seasoned (I used smoked sea salt and pepper) 2.5 pound roast of some sort. Mine was a heel of round, but this would work fine, possibly even better, with a chuck roast of some sort. You’ll want to brown it for about five minutes per side, in a tablespoon or so of coconut oil, olive oil, or bacon grease.

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While it’s browning, peel and coarsely chop a large onion and five small parsnips. When the roast is browned, remove it from the cooker and set it aside in a bowl or on a cutting board. Add the onion and parsnips to the cooker, along with a few handfuls of baby carrots, three cloves of minced garlic, a teaspoon of Italian seasoning, and some more salt and pepper. Cook them for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion starts to soften.

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Add two cups of bone broth and a teaspoon of coconut aminos, and return the roast to the pan, submerging it as much as possible. Put the lid of the pressure cooker on and cook at high pressure for an hour. Allow the pressure to go down naturally.

When you can open the cooker, remove the meat and set it aside. Use an immersion blender to blend the vegetables and broth into a smooth purée.

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If it’s not thick enough, boil it to reduce. I boiled it for about fifteen minutes while I was making some roasted asparagus. When the gravy is thick enough for you, reduce the heat to low and return the meat until it’s warmed back up. Serve the gravy over the meat. This one would be good with mashed cauliflower or cauliflower rice. I just served it in a bowl with a side of roasted asparagus and roasted garlic aioli for dipping.

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Baked eggs in bacon cups

Sunday, June 10th, 2012

As I mentioned before, I’m starting a Whole30 tomorrow, so my normal breakfast of egg cups is a no-go. I’ve tried them without cream and cheese before, and they’re pretty sad and flat. So I had to come up with something else that would be quick to reheat in the morning. Enter these. Bonus points for being really easy to make. Not counting salt and pepper, they have exactly two ingredients.

For each one of these, you’ll want a strip of bacon and an egg. Cook your bacon about halfway. It will start to brown and the fat will turn translucent, but it will still be pliable. When it gets to that point, drain them on paper towels, then wrap each slice around the outside of a muffin tin. If you’re not using the silicone kind, grease the tins a bit first. Or you could use a silicone muffin tin.

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Break an egg into each cup. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes, depending on your desired level of doneness.

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Cold sesame kelp noodles

Sunday, June 10th, 2012

I heard recently that kelp noodles are low-carb, low-calorie, and taste pretty decent, so I made Husband order some. It’s 90 degrees outside today, and I took Preschooler to the playground this morning while Husband mowed the lawn, so both of us were not interested in a hot lunch. I also had some leftover sliced cucumber and some cold salmon that needed to be used. Cold sesame noodles seemed like a great treat.

Start with a one-pound bag of kelp noodles. Rinse them off, shake them dry, and toss them with a teaspoon of toasted sesame oil. Put the bowl in the fridge while you make the dressing.

Put six tablespoons of tahini in a small bowl. To that add cold water, a tablespoon at a time, whisking after each addition. Do this until the texture is thick and creamy. I used probably five tablespoons of water total, but it depends on how oily your tahini is–mine was pretty thin to begin with. You’ll notice it actually thickens with the first couple of tablespoons of water, before eventually thinning out again as you add more.

In another small bowl, whisk together three tablespoons of coconut aminos, a tablespoon of rice wine vinegar or white vinegar, two cloves of minced garlic, and a tablespoon of grated fresh ginger root. If you can’t find coconut aminos, use an equal amount of wheat-free soy sauce (also called tamari) with a teaspoon or so of honey added. Whisk that mixture into your tahini. Add two minced scallions. Toss this with the kelp noodles and add half a sliced cucumber.

To serve, put the noodle and cucumber mixture into bowls and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and another minced scallion if desired. Add any cold leftover meat you want; I used salmon, but it would be great with shrimp, chicken, or sliced pork.

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Totally homemade grass-fed ghee

Sunday, June 10th, 2012

Husband and I have bought lovely grassfed ghee from Pure Indian Foods a number of times, but I’ve always wondered if it was economically feasible to make my own. And by make my own, I meant starting from cream and ending at ghee. I love the grassfed cream from Snowville Creamery in my area (and chances are you have someone doing something similar in yours), but it comes in half-gallons only, and I find it very difficult to use before it goes bad. Making butter is an easy way to use up cream that’s nearing its expiration date. Plus, I’m starting a Whole30 tomorrow, so having dairy around won’t do me any good.

For butter, all you need is cream and a blender or food processor. Fill your vessel up not much more than halfway (for a full half gallon, I do two batches), and blend. About a minute in, you’ll have nice whipped cream, if you want to stop and grab some for berries. Keep blending, and you’ll notice that the whipped cream will start to look a bit crumbly and yellow. That’s the beginnings of butter. Eventually it’ll separate into butter and thin whey. When the butter clumps together into a large ball, you can take it out. Drain the whey off by pouring your blender contents into a strainer set over a large bowl. Let it drain for about ten minutes, then turn on the sink and make sure the water is as cold as it can get. Roll the butter into a ball, getting any small scraps that may have been separate from the initial clump, and massage the butter under the water, then take it out and squeeze out all the water. Keep doing this until the water that comes out of the butter is clear–that’s how you know you’ve washed all the remaining whey out. At this point, you could add salt if you want salted butter, and just store it in the fridge.

But we’re making ghee. Stick your butterball into a heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat (I used my simmer burner for this). Very slowly allow it to melt and bring it to a boil. You’ll hear it crackle–that’s all the water cooking out of the butter from the butter-making process and from the milk solids that naturally occur in butter. Make sure it’s just barely boiling and the butter remains yellow; if it’s brown, you burnt it. The top will get very foamy.

Stir it occasionally. Eventually, about ten to fifteen minutes after it started boiling, when you stir the foam away you’ll be able to see to the bottom of the pan. That means your milk solids have all separated from the clarified butter. Turn off the heat and wait about 20 minutes, then pour it through a fine mesh strainer or a couple of layers of cheesecloth into a jar. It should look like liquid sunshine.

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I got a little less than three cups of ghee out of one $10 half-gallon of cream, which seems like a good deal. If you don’t have a good source of grassfed cream, you can always start with a few sticks of unsalted Kerrygold butter. The ghee will keep in your fridge for at least a couple of months. I’ve never had it go bad before using it all. Use it for cooking in place of butter. It also makes a great dip for seafood or artichokes when heated and sprinkled with a bit of sea salt.

Coconut-Free Chocolate Pudding

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

A friend of mine came to my office the other day to talk about the recipes I’d been posting on Facebook. “They seem good, but I’m allergic to nuts and coconut. Do you have to use coconut?” I mentioned that most of my uses of coconut oil could be replaced by olive oil or bacon grease or grassfed butter or ghee with no major changes in flavor. But my go-to chocolate pudding that I’d just posted simply couldn’t be done without coconut milk. I mentioned that I’d made chocolate pudding with avocado that was pretty good. She looked appropriately horrified–and to be honest, so was I the first time I saw this one. But it’s good, honest. The kiddo has her face in a bowl of it right now. Husband says he likes it better than the coconut milk version, although I think he’s a little crazy. Plus, it’s full of great nutrients, and no added sugar! And it’s dead simple–if you can operate a blender, stick blender, or food processor, you can make this.

To make enough for two grownups and one Preschooler, simply blend one ripe banana, one ripe avocado, a teaspoon of vanilla, and three to four tablespoons of cocoa powder. Scrape down the sides as necessary to fully blend it. If your banana is ripe enough, you need nothing else. If it’s not sweet enough, add a teaspoon of honey.

This recipe can be doubled, tripled, whatever. You’re limited only by the size of your blender. It’ll keep in the fridge for 2-3 days. Sure, your avocado will brown, but it’s chocolate pudding, so you won’t really notice.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Pudding

Monday, June 4th, 2012

No picture for this, as most pictures of brown things in a bowl look gross. But this is one of my favorite easy go-to paleo desserts. The kid loves it–I have pictures of her looking like she has a goatee from licking her bowl.

It’s really simple to make. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine a can of coconut milk and a cup of dark chocolate pieces. Whisk constantly until the chocolate is fully melted. Add a tablespoon of vanilla, a teaspoon of cinnamon, and several shakes of cayenne to taste. You can skip the cayenne if you want, but it really brings out the flavors without adding a notable amount of burn–Preschooler eats it and doesn’t even notice.

Pour it into small bowls or ramekins, put them in the fridge for at least two hours, and enjoy a yummy dessert that won’t make you feel gross afterwards.

Roasted leg of lamb and roasted radishes with radish greens

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

This is technically a Game of Thrones feast, but as the recipe was not a reworking of one specifically found in the book, I won’t count it as such.

You’ll want a 4-5 pound bone-in leg of lamb. About two hours before you plan on cooking it, mix three tablespoons of Dijon mustard, a tablespoon and a half of coconut sugar, a tablespoon and a half of minced garlic, a teaspoon of crushed dried rosemary, a teaspoon of salt, and a half-teaspoon of black pepper. Coat your lamb in this mixture and put it in the fridge until it’s ready to go on the grill.

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You’ll want to cook it over indirect heat at 350 degrees until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part reaches 125 degrees.

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For the radishes, you’ll want a bunch of radishes with greens attached per person. Trim the radishes at root and stem, reserving the greens. Wash both radishes and greens carefully, then coarsely chop the greens. In an ovenproof skillet, heat two tablespoons of olive oil until it shimmers, then toss in the radishes, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook for two minutes, stirring occasionally.

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Pop the whole pan in the oven and roast for fifteen minutes, turning the radishes once halfway through (I didn’t and probably should have). Put the pan back on the stovetop on medium heat and toss in two tablespoons of butter, stirring to coat the radishes. Then add the greens and toss until they’re wilted, about two minutes. Finish with a splash of lemon juice, about 1-2 tablespoons.

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Serve the radishes alongside thinly-sliced lamb, and enjoy eating your Dream of Spring.

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Pressure Cooker Chili

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

This recipe is great for make-ahead lunches. I like to make a big batch on Sunday–it gets me and Husband to Thursday before we need to think about lunch again. It’s also perfect if you just bought a bunch of grass-fed beef and need to get it out of your freezer.

Start with 1.5-2 pounds of stew meat. I cut up a bone-in chuck roast and saved the bones in my freezer bag of stock bones. Brown them in a tablespoon or two of coconut oil in your pressure cooker, sprinkling them with salt and pepper as soon as you put them in. You’ll want to do this in batches; if you crowd the pan you won’t get a nice browned crust on the meat.

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Remove the meat when it’s browned and set it aside. Add a chopped large onion to the pan and cook until it’s soft, stirring frequently, about 8 minutes. Add a tablespoon or two of minced garlic and cook for another minute. Pour in three cups of beef stock and boil until it’s reduced by half. Stir in two pounds of raw ground beef–it will break up and start to brown in the stock as you stir.

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Add four tablespoons of chili powder. I don’t mean generic stuff labeled “Chili Powder,” I mean ground, powdered chili peppers, particularly a kind that has the name of the type of chili on the label. I used Guajillo, but Ancho or even Chipotle would work. You can knock this down to three tablespoons if you don’t like spicy chili. Toss in a heaping tablespoon of cumin, a teaspoon of cinnamon, a teaspoon of salt, and several healthy grinds of black pepper, then add a large (28 ounce) can of crushed tomatoes, a can of diced tomatoes with green chiles (I used Muir Glen), and 3/4 cup of salsa verde. Put the browned meat back in the pot. Bring your pressure cooker up to high pressure (15 psi) and cook for an hour, then let the pressure reduce naturally before removing the lid.

This will make six healthy-sized bowls. Serve with sliced avocado for a nice Whole-30 meal.

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If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can do all this in a Dutch oven. After you put the meat back in, put a lid on it and simmer, stirring occasionally, for three hours.