I still had all that delicious leftover peach grilling sauce from this recipe sitting in my freezer. And I had chicken breasts. And I realized: easiest delicious meal ever!
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thawed
2 c. peach grilling sauce (recipe linked above)
2 bell peppers, chopped (I used one orange and one green)
1 onion, chopped
1-2 jalapeños, seeded and diced (or not seeded—as you wish)
3 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
2 t. cumin
1 t. coriander
Place all ingredients into slow cooker. Chicken first, then veggies, and finally the sauce. You want to make sure the sauce covers all of the vegetables so they don’t dry out.
Cover with lid and cook on low for about 6 hours. (I started mine around 10am, so it was done in time for dinner with time to spare.) After 6 hours, remove lid, turn cooker on high and break up chicken with a spoon or two forks. At this point, I also added 2 t. of cumin and 1 t. of coriander for added depth, brightness, and intensity of flavor. Let simmer uncovered for about 15-20 minutes more in order to thicken sauce.
Neither quite a dessert nor quite a side-dish, this old family recipe falls somewhere in the genre of sweet potato casserole. And it’s a great addition to Thanksgiving dinner. Or, you know, any meal. Or snack. Or random afternoon. And now available in paleo.
Coconut, as you may or may not know, is the darling of the paleo community. You can read why here. In making this recipe paleo-friendly, I rely heavily on coconut products. Since the original recipe does call for shredded coconut, I haven’t compromised the spirit of the recipe. And without further ado:
2 c. cooked, pureed pumpkin (I used my leftovers from this recipe), or 1 16 oz. can of pumpkin puree
1/3 c. raw agave nectar
½ t. salt
4 heaping tablespoons of coconut flour
1 can of coconut milk (not the lite stuff)
1 t. vanilla
3 eggs, slightly beaten
¾ c. shredded coconut (preferably unsweetened)
coconut oil (for greasing the pan)
First, combine the pumpkin, agave nectar, salt, and coconut flour and mix well. Next, add coconut milk, vanilla, eggs and shredded coconut, mixing well again.
Pour into 8x8 baking dish, greased with coconut oil. Bake in 400 degree oven for 50-60 minutes or until firm.
Super delicious. (Is it just me, or is there an awful lot of yellow food on this blog? We’ll blame it on fall, but really, someone remind me to make something a different color soon.)
I love Mexican food. A whole lot. But since going paleo, I generally avoid things like tortillas and corn chips. Luckily, Mexican cuisine, with all its fresh flavors and vegetables, translates easily and well into salad form. Tonight I made chicken fajitas—the salad edition.
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
1 onion, sliced
1 small jalapeño, seeded and diced
2 small bell peppers, sliced (I used one yellow and one red)
4 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
1 bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped
lettuce, chopped—any kind you like
1 avocado, pitted and diced
1 tomato, diced
3 green onions/scallions, sliced
sliced black olives
salsa—any kind you like, or homemade, if you’re ambitious
sour cream, if desired
1 T. coconut oil
The following spices, to taste:
First, melt the coconut oil over medium heat in a large skillet. (I used my electric skillet for this simply because it’s so large.) Add chicken and stir to avoid sticking. When chicken is no longer showing pink, add onion, garlic, jalapeño, and bell peppers.
When soft, add the juice of one lime, the cilantro and your seasonings. (Don’t be afraid to go heavy on the cumin, salt, and chili powder!) Stir fry for a couple minutes, then turn down the heat and cover.
Next, assemble the cold part of the salad: lettuce, tomato, avocado, scallions, olives. Add warm fajita meat/veggies, and finally, top off with salsa and, if desired, sour cream.
There you have it: Sunday supper comfort food, paleo style. Aaaahhhh.
'Tis the season for pumpkin delectables! I had a sudden, out-of-nowhere craving today for pumpkin cheesecake. Honestly, I don't think I've ever even HAD pumpkin cheesecake. But at about 3pm today, in the middle of my Thursday-workday afternoon, nothing sounded better. And when a craving like that grabs me, well, I just go with it. And so here we are.
2 c. almond meal
1 T. cinnamon
½ c. coconut oil, melted
1 small baking pumpkin, roasted and pureed—about 2 cups (see directions below) (You can, of course, use a 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree if you wish. I just decided to go whole hog—and figured fresh pumpkin would be tastier!)
3 (8 oz.) packages of cream cheese, softened
3 eggs, plus 1 yolk
¼ c. sour cream
½ c. agave nectar
1 ½ t. cinnamon
¼ t. nutmeg
1 t. ground ginger
1/8 t. ground cloves
1 c. heavy whipping cream, whipped with a tablespoon of honey and a teaspoon of cinnamon, for topping
For the pumpkin: Slice pumpkin in half and scoop out seeds. Place, cut side down, in large pan filled with about ¾ inch of water and bake at 400 degrees for approximately 40 minutes. Scoop out with a spoon and puree.
You’ll want to puree your pumpkin using something with a blade—your hand mixer won’t get rid of the strings, and you want this as smooth as possible for the cheesecake. Using an immersion blender, standing blender, or food processor ought to get you there; I used my immersion blender (Thanks, Aunt Rosa!)
For the crust: Combine almond meal, cinnamon and coconut oil. Press into 9 inch springform pan. Bake for about 10 minutes to harden and brown—I just threw mine in with the roasting pumpkin.
(Preheat oven to 350.)
For the filling: Beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add pumpkin, eggs, sour cream, agave nectar, and spices, and mix until smooth. Pour into crust and bake, at 350 degrees, for one hour, or until a knife or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
After about 15-20 minutes, run a table knife around the edge of the pan to unstick. Let cool before serving. Preferably, refrigerate overnight before serving. Top with whipped cream and enjoy!
Mmmmm. Oh, how I love fall! (Okay, not so much the rain and disappearance of warm weather, but I’ll definitely take winter veggies, chili, Oktoberfest beer, and cozy scarves!)
Last week I cooked a chicken in the crockpot with carrots and onions to take to work for my lunches. I like to cook big batches of things, and divvy it up into smaller tupperware to make it easy to grab as I—inevitably—rush out of the house in the morning. At this point, however, I’ve grown a bit tired this dish, and so decided to repackage it. And so: chicken shepherd’s pie. Easy-peas-y. Literally. I simply added peas, onion, garlic, mushrooms, and a mashed cauliflower topping.
I started with about 3-4 cups work of cooked chicken (shredded), onions, and carrots.
1 head of cauliflower, separated into florets
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup of mushrooms, sliced
1 cup of fresh peas
2-3 T. butter
Pre-heat oven to 350.
First put cauliflower on to steam. In the meantime, prepare/slice/dice your other ingredients. Add onions and garlic to an oiled skillet, over medium heat. As onions soften, add peas. Last, add mushrooms and thyme, season with salt and pepper to taste. Lower heat.
Back to the cauliflower: transfer to food processor and blend. Add butter, salt, pepper, and thyme, and blend again. Now to assemble the “pie”: first my leftover chicken, et. al. went into a glass casserole dish. Next, the onions, peas, and mushroom mixture. Finally, top with mashed cauliflower, cover with foil, and cook for 20 minutes. Remove foil and cook for 10 more minutes to brown top.
Caramelized onions with eggplant, mushrooms, and sun-dried tomatoes
Tonight is another re-run night. I’m having one of my leftover pork chops and, needing a side dish, decided to do something with all that leftover eggplant that didn’t get used in this recipe. Since the eggplant was already thinly-sliced, having been initially intended for use as lasagna noodles, my options were limited. Sauteed? Yes, I think so, but with what? Well, I have all that leftover basil… which is sweet… hmm… BY GEORGE, I THINK I’VE GOT IT! A caramelized onion dish, methinks. And sundried tomatoes are sweet and seem logical with eggplant… Here goes!
3 large onions, halved and sliced
½ an eggplant, thinly sliced and cut into 1 inch strips
1 ½ c. baby portabella mushrooms, halved and sliced
½ c. sundried tomatoes (dry-packed, not in olive oil)
3 T. fresh basil, finely chopped
4 large cloves of garlic, minced/pressed
butter or ghee
Preheat a sauce- or sauté-pan with a large, flat bottom. I used my electric skillet for this one, as it has a broad cooking surface. Coat the bottom of the pan with a generous tablespoon each of olive oil and butter or ghee. When the oil is shimmering, add your onions and stir to coat.
Monitoring the temperature closely—do turn it down if the onions are browning too quickly—let onions cook, stirring every few minutes. After about 10 minutes, sprinkle with salt and about 1 teaspoon of sugar to help with caramelization. Continue to cook for 20-30 more minutes, until onions are brown (but not crispy!)
When onions reach nearly their desired state, add eggplant, mushrooms, garlic, and sundried tomatoes. At this point, it seemed a bit dry to me, so I added another drizzle of olive oil, a couple tablespoons of water, and covered the skillet for a few minutes to retain the moisture. Cook until soft—the eggplant should become translucent and the mushrooms should plump and become soft. Add basil and salt to taste. (Note: you may need more salt than you anticipate; we’re working with some pretty absorbent veggies here.)
Serve warm, accompanying your main dish—in my case, this leftover porkchop. (I wrapped the chop in foil and put it in the oven on low heat—275—for the duration of the preparation of the onions and eggplant. The slow heat ensures that it doesn’t overcook, and the foil lets it stew in its own juices, remaining moist. And yes, yes I did re-warm some of that tangy peach grilling sauce to top it! And served with that same dry white wine. Yum!
I know, I know, we’re all tired of butternut squash… or ARE we? I had the last bit of my leftover squash AND a flash of inspiration this morning. I love the chance to make brunch on a late weekend morning. And I love, love hash browns. So I decided to turn my remaining butternut squash into a kickass hash brown Sunday brunch. Here’s how it went down:
1/2 butternut squash, shredded
1/2 onion, diced
1 small jalapeno, diced (and seeded if you prefer)
2 cloves of garlic, pressed/minced
2-3 strips of bacon, diced (minimally processed, nitrate- and nitrite-free, of course)
fresh thyme, finely chopped
cumin, salt, pepper to taste
Squash tends to have more water in it than potatoes do, so after you’ve shredded it, you’ll want to press it between paper towels in order to absorb some of that excess water.
Next, add your bacon to a preheated pan. I used my trusty cast iron skillet over medium heat. As the bacon starts to approach the crispiness you prefer (I prefer softer bacon) add the onions, jalapeno, and garlic. When the onions begin to soften, add the shredded squash.
As with traditional hash browns, these will stick to the pan a bit. You want to let them stick enough to get a little of that delicious browned crust, but not so much that you it burns (or that you make a big mess of the pan to have to scrub later).
At this point, I put 2 eggs on to fry, to go along with my ‘browns. Also at this point, add your thyme, cumin, salt and pepper. Stir and serve. The flavor of these was wonderful—no need to drown it out with ketchup. A little hot sauce’ll do ya.
I had dinner with my dear friend Jordan tonight. He currently lives in DC, but comes to the general Chicago area from time to time for conferences and such. It’s always a real treat to see him and catch up. He’s truly a kindred spirit.
We ate at Hamburger Mary’s in Andersonville on Chicago’s North Side. This place has its own microbrews, which is enough to make me happy, but FURTHERMORE, its extensive menu of burgers (et cetera) comes with the option of being served on… wait for it… LETTUCE CUPS! Now, this may not seem like such a big deal, and presumably, one could order bunless anything, anywhere. But the mere fact of its being offered *on the menu* is a sweet respite from having to twist and wrangle and finagle a menu’s offerings to try to fit a grain-free lifestyle. And so: a great, big, PALEO shout-out to HAMBURGER MARY’S! You win! (We all win! Wheeee!)
Yowza! Grilled pork chops in tangy peach sauce. And butternut makes another appearance!
We’ve had a lovely Indian Summer in Chicago the past week or so, but I’m afraid the 70s and 80s are about to leave us again until… oh, about May, probably. And so: time to grill! (Now don’t misunderstand—I have no qualms about winter grilling. But this seems like a nice farewell to summer.) On the menu: thick-cut boneless pork chops grilled with a tangy peach sauce, and balsamic-marinated butternut squash (again) also on the grill. We’ll start with the squash, since that needs to marinate.
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into ~1/2 inch slices
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
5 cloves garlic, minced
The marinade can be prepared by hand or in the food processor. I chose the latter because it’s so much easier. Throw everything together and blend. (I used fresh thyme and basil, eyeballing for about 1 T. thyme and 2 T. basil.) Throw the squash slices into a large ziplock bag with the marinade and refrigerate for an hour or so. (Reserve some of the marinade for tossing later as the squash comes off of the grill.
On to the grilling sauce! This is a semi-paleo’d version of a recipe I found in Edible Chicago magazine. I say semi because, while I’ve cut down the sugar quite a bit, it still has too much to qualify as strictly paleo. But hey, we’ve all got to splurge a little every now and then, right?
1 t. ground coriander
1 t. ground cumin
1 onion, finely chopped
6 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
½ c. dry white wine
3 T. soy sauce (or tamari, if you’re gluten-free)
2 t. hot sauce (whatever you like or have on hand—my fave is Texas Pete)
2 t. Dijon mustard
2 lbs. of any stone fruit (I used 6 average-sized peaches because they were cheap at Trader Joe’s.), halved and pitted
1 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. agave nectar (If you’re unfamiliar, this is a natural, plant-derived sweetener. Since it is sweeter than sugar, you can use less of it, making it popular among the paleo crowd.)
2 c. apple cider vinegar
2. T. butter or ghee
1/8 c. raw, organic honey
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add onions, garlic and spices and cook until onions are soft.
Add the wine and simmer for 3 minutes or so to boil off the alcohol. (And pour yourself a glass—we’re cooking, people!)
Add the remaining ingredients and simmer, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes. (This depends on the ripeness of your fruit. My peaches were still a little hard and needed the extra time.)
(At this point in the game, my kitchen is a mess. Typical. Observed in the kitchen, I’ve been referred to as “Hurricane Sarah.” But I like to clean as I go, and I have some time to clean before the next step!)
Let sauce cool and puree in a standing blender or with a hand-held immersion blender. Your sauce should be roughly the consistency of a thick barbecue sauce. At this point your sauce can be refrigerated and saved for later—but why spoil the fun?
I figure you can use this sauce on any number of things: chicken, a hearty fish, or even—dare I say it?—butternut or other winter squash. I went with pork chops. (Also, this makes quite a bit of sauce—give or take 4 cups. Have a good amount to grill, or halve the recipe, or freeze some for later!)
Low heat is probably best for both items, to try to get some good caramelization going. Why let all that sugar go to waste, right?
Lessons and notes:
Never overcook your chops. It’s perfectly okay—and, in fact, preferable—for a thick-cut pork chop to be a little pink in the middle.
Be sure to toss the squash in the remaining marinade thoroughly when you take it off the grill—that makes all the difference.
The grilling sauce makes a delicious dipping sauce as well.
Low heat. Low and slow, low and slow, low and slow.
If storing leftover squash, you probably want to lift it out of the marinade and store them separately; drizzle the marinade over the squash when it’s time for re-runs.
I tend not to like white wine much. But it sure does go nicely with this meal.
Asparagus. Asparagus would have improved this meal tremendously. Or a spinach and strawberry salad. Ah, well, next time, yes?
I accidentally erased my first recipe, so I’m recreating it here.
Sauteed Kale with Bacon and Butternut Squash
1/2 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
1 bunch of kale, trimmed and chopped into bite-size pieces
1/2 lb. bacon, diced (I like organic, nitrite- and nitrate-free from Trader Joe’s.)
1 small onion, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed or minced
salt, pepper, cumin to taste
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Drop squash—cubed to 1/2 -3/4 of an inch—in to boil for 5-7 minutes. While squash is boiling, brown bacon in large skillet over medium-high heat. (I like my cast iron skillet for this.) As bacon begins to brown, add onions, jalapeno, and garlic. The onions should become translucent around the same time the squash is fork tender. Remove and drain squash. Add kale and squash, tossing until kale is wilted. Add salt, pepper, and cumin to taste. Toss and serve warm. Enjoy!
One of my favorite ways to cook is to consult several different recipes for whatever it is I want to make and then cherry-pick, taking elements that I like from multiple recipes and combining them to make my own creation. Enter: paleo lasagna.
Butternut squash is looking like it’s going to be the ingredient of the week. Eh, what are you gonna do? It was on sale—this is real life, people. So when, perusing butternut squash recipes, I came across a lasagna recipe that used thin planks of it instead of noodles, I was inspired. But I wanted eggplant, too. So in this recipe I alternate, using both eggplant and butternut squash, thinly sliced, as my “noodles.” And really, the purpose of lasagna noodles is mostly structure; to keep it from being just a casserole. Many things could work: zucchini, perhaps, or even egg and water, whisked and thinly fried and sliced to mimic noodles. Anyway, BN squash and eggplant in mine this time.
½ large eggplant, peeled and thinly sliced
½ butternut squash, peeled, seeded, quartered, sliced into thin planks
1 pkg of whatever sausage you like
1 large can of tomato sauce
1 red onion, diced
6 cloves garlic (or less, if you’re not a garlic fiend)
Begin by preparing your “noodles.” Peel and slice squash and eggplant and set them aside.
Next, dice onion and jalapeno. (Since I used mild Italian turkey sausage this time, I didn’t seed my jalapeno. I also like a little kick. You decide. Peel and press garlic.
Don’t forget to preheat your oven to 425.
Next, squeeze sausage from its casing into a skillet over medium-high heat, and break it up as it browns. When almost brown, add onions, jalapeno, and garlic.
When onions have softened, add tomato sauce to mixture and turn off heat. (Side note: Since Trader Joe’s has massive packages of fresh basil, I pulled some large leaves to use as a layer in the lasagna and chopped some smaller leaves, which I added to the sauce mixture at this point.
Now time to start layering. Because I don’t have a glass casserole dish, I like to line my metal one with foil. Remember to start with the sauce, so it doesn’t stick, and away you go: sauce mixture, squash, mushrooms, cheese, sauce, eggplant, basil, sauce, squash, cheese. Or however you like, for however many layers you like—just remember that a wet layer has to be next to a “noodle” layer in order to help your noodles soften and cook.
Cover tightly with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil, checking for tenderness with a table knife. Cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes more to brown cheese. Voila!
The squash adds a richness and sweetness that make up for the absence of the customary ricotta, which I skipped in order to cut down on the dairy. But it sure does hold the heat, so watch out!
I usually make a black olive tapenade for one of my lasagna layers. I skipped that this time, thinking the flavor wouldn’t mesh well with the sweetness of the squash. In hindsight, though, I think kalamatas would work quite nicely.
Also, I sliced much more squash and eggplant than I needed (1/2 of each ought to work—I did one of each), so expect them both to pop up in other recipes soon!
Multiple people in my life have been telling me for months that I ought to write a cookbook, start blogging, something, in order to keep a record of all my kitchen inventions. I love to cook: it’s my hobby; it soothes me after a hard day, wakes me up after a slow one, makes me feel successful and capable. So here it is: my blog, a place to gather all my recipes. Or at least the successful ones. Unless there is a lesson to be learned from the unsuccessful ones, that is.
I adopted a paleo lifestyle back in June. This means no grains, no legumes, no processed food, little to no sugar, and dairy only in moderation. I tend to consume starchy veggies only in moderation as well. I’ve always loved to try new recipes, but a delightful side effect of going paleo (besides losing roughly 3 sizes in 2 months) was being forced into new ingredients, experiments with substitutions, and a sort of recalibration of my brain—or at least the part of it which is a cook. Rice used to be a staple in my diet, for instance. And instead of giving those favorite recipes up, I’ve found that I can “rice” cauliflower in the food processor for a reasonable substitute. Nut flours can often substitute for grain flours. There are, in fact, all sorts of wonderful foods out there that fit within a paleo diet. (If you haven’t yet, give it a try. I’m willing to bet that it won’t be as hard as you think AND that you lose weight and feel great.)