Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Meat Sauce

Spaghetti Squash with Meat Sauce
I have a friend that is always telling me, "Spaghetti sauce is so simple to make. I don't know why anyone buys canned/jarred crap." *excuse me while I sneak off to hide my jars of spaghetti sauce*

Yes, yes, spaghetti sauce is crazy simple to make. It takes time though. Lots and lots of time if you are making it from scratch. Lots and lots of tomatoes, too. I don't grow a garden because A) my apartment patio is the size of a postage stamp and B) I have the black thumb of death. I can breathe on plants and kill them.

Enter the quick meat sauce using *gasp* canned tomatoes. *cue the sarcasm* Oh, the horror.

1 lb extra lean ground chuck
1 medium onion, finely chopped (I cheat and use dried minced onion which means I can skip a step)
2 medium zucchini, chopped
10.75 oz can tomato puree
10 oz can Ro-Tel diced tomatoes and chiles (Mild or Hot depending on taste)
14.5 oz can peeled, whole tomatoes
1 T rice vinegar
2 T fresh lime juice (or 1/2 a lime, squeezed)
1 t sea salt
1 t black pepper
1 t dry mustard
1/4 t cumin
  1. In a large dutch oven, brown the beef.
  2. While browning, combine the tomatoes, vinegar, lime juice, and seasonings in a blender or food processor.
  3. Blend smooth.
  4. Add the onion to the beef.
  5. Cook until soft.
  6. Add the tomato mixture and zucchini to the beef.
  7. Simmer 30 minutes.
You can reduce the sauce and make something like sloppy joes by browning the beef, cooking the onions, and then pouring all the ingredients into a crock pot and cooking on low for 2-3 hours.

The original recipe is at TGIPaleo.

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe is originally from Never Bashful with Butter which is now defunct.

3/4 cup butter (if dough is dry, add up to 1/4 cup more)
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon hazelnut or almond extract (optional)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups bacon bits **Be sure to use real bacon bits, not Bacos**

You can make your own bacon bits! 2 lbs bacon cooked crisp, drained well, and patted dry will make 2 cups bacon bits when chopped finely.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
  2. Beat together the butter, sugars, flavouring and eggs until creamy.
  3. In another bowl, sift together the dry ingredients.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and stir together.
  5. Dough will be slightly soft. If you want a cakier cookie, add another half cup of flour.
  6. Add in chocolate chips and bacon bits.
  7. Stir until well integrated.
  8. Place dough on a sheet of waxed paper and refrigerate at least an hour.
  9. Remove dough from fridge, pinch off 1 1/2 inch pieces of dough and roll into balls.
  10. Set dough balls about 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  11. Flatten dough balls slightly with your fingers in the center.
  12. Bake cookies for about 10 minutes, or until the dough starts to turn golden brown.
  13. Allow cookies to cool on a cooling rack while you ready the glaze.
Maple cinnamon glaze

2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon maple extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon (use less if desired)
  1. Mix all ingredients together until smooth -- no lumps!
  2. Spread a small amount of the glaze on the top of each cookie.
  3. Top with a small piece of crisp cooked bacon.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Vinaigrette Base

If you know vinaigrettes, you know it's oil + acid + herbs/spices/etc. The general rule of thumb is 1 part acid to 3 parts oil. From there, the world is your oyster! Here's my usual base:

Extra Virgin Light Tasting Olive Oil
White Balsamic Vinegar or lemon juice or Balsamic Vinegar

Here's how I normally build my salads:
  1. Take lettuce from fridge.
  2. Wash thoroughly.
  3. Dry with cloth towel.
  4. Set aside. (I don't like lettuce cold from the fridge. I like it to be crisp; but lightly chilled)
  5. Fix main course.
  6. While protein is resting -- because every meal I eat has some protein -- tear the lettuce into a big bowl.
  7. Top with some additional veg and/or fruit -- like bell pepper, olives, beets, etc and/or dried cherries, apple, pear, etc
  8. Top with nuts (sometimes).
  9. Combine vinaigrette ingredients in a small jar -- I have a leftover jelly jar that is the perfect size for this -- close with the lid.
  10. Shake the dickens out of the vinaigrette.
  11. Pour over the salad and toss.
I usually make enough dressing for one salad...and my salad is usually huge.

Paleo Diet Lifestyle has an excellent list of vinaigrette recipes.
Delish has a ton of vinaigrette recipes.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Golden Beet and Apple Salad

3 Golden Beets
4-6 C water
5 C Spring Mix Salad Greens
1 Fuji Apple, chopped
1/3 C Almonds, Slivered
2 t Avocado Oil
1 T White Balsamic Vinegar
  1. Thoroughly scrub beets clean under cold water.
  2. Place beets in a large pot of water, and boil until fork tender (about 45 minutes).
  3. Remove skin from beets, then chop into bite-sized pieces.
  4. Allow to cool before adding to the salad.
  5. Rinse and chop the Fuji apple.
  6. Toss spring mix greens with the apple and slivered almonds.
  7. Add in the cooked beet chunks.
  8. Drizzle salad with avocado oil and white balsamic vinegar, and serve.
The skin of the beets should easily peel off if cooked for the proper amount of time.
The original recipe can be found at the 30 Day Intro to Paleo Meal Plan.

Butternut Squash Soup

Serves: 6–8

2 T Coconut Oil, Organic
1 whole Onion, chopped
1 t Ground Cinnamon
1/2 t Ground Nutmeg
1 t Salt
1 whole Butternut Squash, peeled and chopped
1 qt Chicken Stock (Free Range, Organic)
  1. Sauté chopped onion in coconut oil in a large pot.
  2. Add in cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
  3. Add chopped butternut squash to pot, and pour in broth.
  4. Boil the butternut squash in the broth until tender.
  5. Puree soup in a food processor or high-speed blender until smooth.
  6. Garnish with a sprinkling of cinnamon and chopped walnuts (2 T).
The original recipe can be found at the 30 Day Intro to Paleo Meal Plan.

    Vegetable Scramble

    30 Day Challenge - Day 1 - Veggie Scramble

    Serves: 2

    1/2 T Coconut Oil
    1/2 C halved, roasted Brussel Sprouts
    1/2 C diced Green Onion
    1/4 C diced Green Bell Peppers
    4 Eggs
    1-2 Cherry Tomatoes, diced, for garnish
    1/4 Avocado, diced, for garnish
    1. Heat coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat.
    2. Sauté the vegetables for 3 minutes, or until tender.
    3. In a small mixing bowl, whisk eggs.
    4. Pour the eggs over the vegetables and stir.
    5. Stir frequently to scramble.
    6. Season with a dash of salt and pepper, top with diced tomato and avocado.
    The original recipe can be found at the 30 Day Intro to Paleo Meal Plan.

    Paleo, an experiment

    On May 28th, I started a 30-day Paleo challenge.  What is Paleo, you ask? This infographic is the best I've seen for explaining Paleo. This is a great blog post. For a thorough explanation, check out Robb Wolf.  There's also Paleo 2.0, Primal, and Weston A. Price that follow an "ancestral" eating/living style.  There's variation and restrictions depending on what guru you read.  I chose to follow the basics of Paleo:

    No grains.
    No legumes.
    No dairy.
    No added sugar.
    No starches (ixnay on the otatoespay).
    Pastured (preferred) protein sources.
    Healthy oils and fats (coconut, avocado, olive).
    8+ hours of sleep in a dark room.
    Some sun exposure.
    Exercise (this should be mostly lifting heavy things and some running around; but I did all "running" around).

    Monday will be the start of the fourth week in the challenge.  I thought I'd post some of the recipes I've used for the last three weeks.  Before that though, a little reflection:
    • Within the first week (two to three days, actually) of ditching grains, dairy, and legumes, I was no longer getting out of bed stiff.  I have also been able to sleep better because my back, hips, and knees do not ache.
    • I lost five pounds the first week.  I didn't lose anything the second.  If my luck holds, I will show a two pound loss on Monday.
    • I'm less hungry.  Or maybe I'm recognizing hunger signals again.
    • Paleo = cooking...unless you are ordering grilled meats, steamed/grilled veggies, and salads with lemon juice and no croutons and no cheese.  Cooking is just easier for me.  Less temptation. More focus on what I should be eating. Complete control over what goes in my body.
    • Water is boring; but it does a body good.
    So, why Paleo?  The short answer: a friend tried it with raging success; and I am sick and tired of being stiff, achy, and low on energy. The long(er) answer: I had been flirting with the idea of following Ideal Protein; but the cost is sky high and it relies on protein drinks/snacks, and over-processed food-like items.  I have worked really hard at ditching processed foods; and do not want to fall back on eating them again.  It's bad enough that I'd fallen into the fast food trap again.

    Now the recipes!  Happy cooking!

    Thursday, March 01, 2012

    Buttermilk Basil Sherbet

    1 1/3 cup(s) sugar, granulated, divided
    2/3 cup(s) water
    1 cup(s) basil, fresh, cut into ribbons, minced
    4 cup(s) buttermilk
    3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
    2 tsp lime zest, finely minced

    To make basil syrup, combine 2/3 cup sugar with 2/3 cup of water in a small saucepan; bring to a boil for 1 minute. Reduce heat to low, add basil and simmer for 5 minutes; set aside to cool.

    Heat lime juice and remaining 2/3 cup sugar until sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool.

    In a large bowl, combine buttermilk, zest, and syrups and mix thoroughly.  If the basil is not minced well (and I did not mince mine well), puree the mixture before you freeze it.

    Run sherbet mixture through an ice cream maker according to its package directions. Transfer sorbet to a container and freeze for 12 to 24 hours before serving. Yields about 1/2 cup per serving.

    Note: If you do not have an ice cream maker, don't despair! Puree the ingredients and pour into shallow dish. Set in freezer for 45 minutes. Take out and stir vigorously. Return to freezer. Check every 30 minutes and stir vigorously each time for 2-3 hours.

    Saturday, February 04, 2012

    Broccoli Salad from Penzey's

    1 large head fresh broccoli, Steams discarded, cut into bite sized pieces
    1/2 cup raisins
    1/4 cup diced onions
    1 T Italian salad dressing base (Penzey spice)
    1 T water
    1 cup mayonnaise
    2 T vinegar
    1/4 cup sugar
    8 slices bacon, crisply fried
    1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
    1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

    1. Combine the broccoli, raisins, and onion in a serving bowl.
    2. In a small bowl, mix together the Italian Dressing base and water.
    3. Let stand 5 minutes and then add the mayonnaise, vinegar and sugar and whisk to combine.
    4. Pour over the broccoli mix.
    5. Refrigerate 3-4 hours or longer (I recommend overnight) to soften the raw broccoli and blend the flavors. This can be made a day ahead.
    6. When ready to serve, crumble the bacon on top and sprinkle with shredded cheese.
    7. Shake on ground pepper.