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Archive for the ‘Whole30 approved’ Category

Cod with Bacon Sauce

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

During the description of this recipe, I will tell you how I screwed it up. I’m not perfect; some of my experiments are failures that range from minor to epic. This one was minor. This cod is not as good as it could be. I’ll tell you what I did wrong, and hopefully give you a couple of ways to avoid my pitfall.

I had a frozen package of cod that was 26 ounces. The recipe I was using as a base to kick this off called for 16-20 ounces. If you just have a pound of cod, fry up 4 strips of bacon to start. If you have more, like I did, fry up 6. Get them nice and crispy, then drain them on paper towels and set them aside.

Here’s where I went wrong. The original recipe said to dredge the cod in flour and sprinkle with salt and pepper. I figured coconut flour would work best in this application. I was totally wrong; it just got soggy. No crisp at all. Thankfully, everything else tastes so good that this wasn’t too big of a deal. So either skip that step completely and just cook the cod in the bacon grease with a tablespoon of ghee added for 2-3 minutes per side, or until it flakes easily with a fork, or dredge in almond flour instead of coconut.

When the fish is done, remove it from the pan and keep it warm. Remove the grease and wipe the pan clean. Return it to the heat and melt four tablespoons of ghee. Thinly slice an entire bunch of green onions, the green and white parts, and cook the white parts in the ghee for two minutes, then add the green parts and cook for another 2-3 minutes. While that’s cooking, crumble the reserved bacon. When the green onions are done, add the crumbled bacon, two tablespoons of lemon juice, and a tablespoon and a half of capers. Whisk it a few times to combine, then serve it on top of the cod.

This was actually really yummy. I just wish I hadn’t used coconut flour.

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Sausage and Crawfish Jambalaya

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

The saga of cleaning out the fridge before the cow is ready (on the 18th, yikes!) continues. This weekend, among other things, I thawed out a pound of crawfish. There are exactly three things that should be made when one has a pound of crawfish, and all of them are Cajun. Today, I decided to make a version of jambalaya, using cauliflower rice. Tomorrow, it might be étouffée (Paleo Comfort Foods has a great version), or maybe gumbo.

The first thing you’ll want is a pound of pre-cooked andouille sausage. Wellshire makes a good brand with minimal fillers. If you don’t like spicy, you can sub some cubed chicken breast–just make sure to cook it in some fat, as you’ll need it later. For the sausage, you can simply slice and fry. Use a big pot, because this is a two-pot meal and it’ll all end up in this one eventually.

When the sausage slices are brown, add one diced onion, one diced green pepper, and two large stalks of celery, also diced. There should be enough rendered grease from the sausage to cook them in. If not, add some fat of choice. When the veggies have softened, add some garlic (four or five cloves, minced) and cook for another minute or so. Then add a 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes, a 6-ounce can of tomato paste, three cups of chicken stock, a tablespoon of Creole seasoning, two teaspoons of chili powder, a few pinches of salt, a half-teaspoon of dried thyme, and cayenne and black pepper to taste. Let this simmer for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in another large skillet, heat up a tablespoon or two of oil. In that, sweat a small minced onion, a diced green pepper, and a minced shallot. When they are soft and the onion and shallot are starting to turn golden, add a head of grated cauliflower. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes or until cauliflower is soft. Stir in a tablespoon of Creole seasoning. If your seasoning is salt-free, add salt to taste.

By this point, hopefully your jambalaya is done. Add a pound of crawfish tails to the pot and simmer for 3-5 minutes. Stir in the cauliflower rice and serve.

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Sous vide flank steak with dairy-free creamed spinach

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

So I finished my Whole30, if you can call it finished seeing as I haven’t gone back to my old ways. I’ve lost 8 pounds, an inch off my waist and an inch and a half off my hips, and gained a great deal of energy and a much better attitude. I don’t even miss dairy all that much, especially when I can find great substitutes like I did tonight.

But I’ll begin with the flank steak, and tell you a little story about the girl with no freezer space. We’re getting half a grassfed cow again next week–something that generally fills up our chest freezer at least halfway. But then on Monday, I noticed that my favorite pastured pork provider actually had availability for the first time in ages. I ordered some skin, chops (best chops on Earth), ground pork, and spare ribs. And I might have gotten a little carried away. I have a freezer that’s…pretty full. And it has to be decidedly less full in a week and a half. Eep. When I put the pork in, I took out some other stuff–a chicken, some sausages I got from my organic grocery delivery service, and a flank steak.

Sous vide is a great way of cooking lean meats like flank steak. For this one, you’ll need some sort of immersion cooker–there are ways to hack a cooler into a decent sous vide machine, but that’s for shorter times than this will require. You’ll want either a Sous Vide Supreme or the less expensive Sous Vide Magic which turns crock pots or rice cookers into sous vide cookers. I asked for the Magic last Christmas, but got the Supreme Demi, because Husband is just that awesome.

To make the flank steak, rub it with a bit of the green stuff or some salt and pepper, put it in a vacuum-sealed bag, and put it in your sous vide at 131 degrees. You can even put it in fully frozen if you want–I did. That temperature gets you medium-rare. If you want rare, try about 127. If you want it more cooked than medium-rare, you’re nuts and should probably just go be a vegan or something. 24 hours later (mine was more like 27, and it would probably still be good up to 48 hours later), take it out, pat it dry, and either sear it on very high heat for a minute per side or take your kitchen torch to the outside of it. When the outside is seared to your liking, slice it thinly against the grain. It ends up with an awesome texture–mine had some gristle in it that I was worried would make it too chewy, but it just pulled right apart, and the gristle was all gelatin.

For the creamed spinach, I used the raw cashew “cream” sauce base from Against All Grain, replacing the basil with dried parsley and ignoring the rest of the (admittedly delicious-looking) recipe. Whiz your soaked cashews and reserved soaking water in the food processor. It’ll look runny, but it eventually sets up. Add the salt, pepper, garlic, and lemon juice and whiz it again until it’s smooth. Add a little bit of it to some sautéed baby spinach and stir until it’s warmed through. You may also want to add some extra salt. The rest of the sauce will keep in the fridge for a few days. I plan on tossing it with some broccoli tomorrow.

Doesn’t that look awesome? I can attest that it was. I don’t miss the dairy in the least.

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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.

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.