Sunday, October 31, 2010

Menu Plan

Breakfast - Mashed boiled eggs, bananas for my girls
Lunch - Nuts, cheese, carrots - finger foods!
Dinner - Steaks (on sale at Giant!) and wasabi asparagus on the grill

Breakfast - Pan-fried pears (on sale at Giant!) and cottage cheese
Lunch - Salad: Iceberg lettuce (on sale at Giant!), leftover steak strips, with a buttermilk ranch dressing, courtesy of Nourished Meadow
Dinner - Fish taco salads: seasoned fish, guacamole, salsa, sour cream, and oh, yes: more iceberg lettuce

Breakfast - Grain-free granola, bananas for the girls
Lunch - Omelettes
Dinner - Chicken vegetable soup (I'll probably crock pot a whole chicken with some veggies and reserve some chicken for Thursday lunch)

Breakfast - Cottage cheese topped with drizzle honey and cacao nibs
Lunch - Leftover chicken on a salad
Dinner - Bacon and onion quiche, autumn pear dessert with cinnamon and whipped cream

Breakfast - Warm banana pudding
Lunch - Leftover quiche
Dinner - Crock pot pork ribs, maybe

Preschool Lunch Ideas:
Lunchbox #23: Steak strips, dipping sauce, crudites
Lunchbox #24: Salsa Guac, parmesan crackers and veggie sticks to dip, cubed pear
Lunchbox #25: Chicken and veggies leftover from chicken vegetable soup, banana

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Lunchbox #22

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Two plums
  • Leftover salmon
  • Grapes
  • Cilantro coleslaw

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Lunchbox #21

This is a classic "no leftovers" lunchbox scenario. Fast and all finger foods!

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Two hard boiled eggs
  • Dessert: three dates stuffed with almonds
  • Baby carrots
  • Cherry tomatoes and a slice of Kerrygold Dubliner
  • A banana

Creamy Tarragon Asparagus Soup

I wish that I had a Vitamix. I also wish that I could throw around $400 willy nilly without blinking, but we all want things, right? I'm still working on getting the budgeting basics of primal eating down, so it suffices to say that the Vitamix that I would like to use for this recipe exists in some sort of utopian parallel dimension.

Another thing that I've wanted, but was reasonably within my means to acquire, was a hot bowl of asparagus soup. It wasn't as super-duper-velvety smooth as I would have liked, but my food processor is not a Vitamix. That didn't stop the soup from being tasty, though!

Tarragon is a rogue seasoning - one that pairs well with white meats like chicken and pork, seafoods like scallops and shrimp, and also vegetables like asparagus and mushrooms. Put another way: it has a vaguely licoricey taste that marries well with light, savory foodstuffs (and usually something creamy). I like using it when cooking for company because guests recognize it as different yet decidedly tasty.

Creamy Asparagus Tarragon Soup
Serves 2, as a starter course

1 package frozen asparagus - the kind that you can cook in-package in the microwave in about 5 minutes
1/2 c. whole milk (could substitute half'n'half, heavy cream, or coconut cream for this)
1 tablespoon butter (I used salted Kerrygold)
1 tablespoon dried tarragon
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
Creme fraiche to garnish (optional; could sub coconut cream also)

Cook the asparagus in the microwave as directed. Crush the tarragon between your fingers and put it in the bottom of your blender/food processor/Vitamix. Melt the butter and pour over the tarragon, and pulse briefly to combine the butter and tarragon. Add a bit of salt and pepper (go easy on the salt as you can always add more later) and the garlic powder, and pulse again. Add the cooked asparagus stalks to this (mine were very wilted), including any excess water, and the whole milk. Blend until the soup is as smooth as possible, then serve immediately while still hot, and garnish with creme fraiche or coconut cream if desired.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Lunchbox #20

Today my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):

5-Ingredient Green Curry Pot Roast

Mmmm beef. It just really hits the spot the way that nothing else quite can, y'know? This is my lazy woman's pot roast - a bit Southeast-Asian-reminiscent with its is-it-getting-hotter-in-here-or-is-that-just-me?, yet still hearkening to my paternal grandmother's way with a roast.

And: I'm pretty sure that I'm commiting an "Asian Fusion" gaffe here or something by combining green curry and Japanese condiments, but this is really tasty served with a bit of wasabi paste.

5-Ingredient Green Curry Pot Roast
Serves 4-5

1 pot roast - at least 2.5 lb.
2 tablespoons bacon grease (or cooking oil of choice)
1/8 c. tamari (wheat-free soy sauce)
1.5 tablespoons (or to taste) green curry paste*
1-2 c. water

*Note that I use Thai Kitchen brand, which others rate as being weak in terms of heat and flavor for a green curry may do it if you are using a different brand! Thai Kitchen's curry paste contains: Green Chili, Garlic, Lemongrass, Galangal (Thai Ginger), Salt, Onion, Pepper, Coriander, Cumin, Kaffir Lime.

Melt bacon grease in a pan at high heat. Sear pot roast on all sides, then place in deep pot (or crock pot). Add tamari, green curry paste, and water. Cook on low for at least 6 hours, until meat is tender and easily pulls away with a fork.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Bacon and Crab Stuffed Peppers, Courtesy of Life As A Plate

You may have noticed these cute baby peppers
in my daughter's lunch last week.
They were at Sam's Club and so compelling.

It dawned on me that they would be the perfect stand-in for mushrooms in AndreAnna's Bacon and Crab Stuffed Mushrooms, because my husband has a longstanding issue with the texture of mushrooms. I whipped up the filling and stuffed my peppers.

I even happened to have enough pork rinds around to crush and sprinkle before baking. They have a TON of flavor, and after 20 minutes the peppers are just cooked enough to be tender-crisp, yielding to the warm filling. Perfect texture! I love the colors in these - would definitely add some Southwestern seasonings and make'em for Cinco de Mayo. :) Thanks, AndreAnna, for the inspiration!


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Menu Plan

My local Target has a modest grocery section (though it's not a SuperTarget), and I discovered that it was selling its free range cage free organic eggs for a sale price of $3/dozen. Wow! That's even cheaper than the $3.33 or so per dozen that you find at Sam's Club for organic eggs. Also, my Target has the cheapest price on organic half'n'half anywhere at $1.74/half pint.

Breakfast - Mashed boiled eggs
Lunch - Pears with ricotta
Dinner - Spaghetti squash with a meaty marinara

Breakfast - Mango yoghurt smoothies - more mangos for my girls, more yoghurt for me (Mangos on sale at Giant!)
Lunch - Leftover spaghetti or a big-ass salad
Dinner - Salmon fillets braised in a tamari sauce, creamy asparagus soup

Breakfast - Fried eggs, bananas for the girls
Lunch - Leftover salmon on a salad
Dinner - Baked chicken drumsticks and sweet potatoes

Breakfast - Blueberry custards
Lunch - Pumpkin spice smoothie
Dinner - My husband challenged me to get started on developing a primal chicken Wienerschnitzel recipe, and this might be the night I give it my first stab!

Breakfast - Warm banana pudding
Lunch - Curry pumpkin soup, coconut bread
Dinner - Pork chops with a creamy rosemary sauce, salads

Bonus Weekend Recipe: I am thinking of trying out this plum clafouti soon (plums on sale at Giant!), adapted by maybe using just a hint of honey instead of the relatively small amount of prescribed sugars. Could be a good Sunday morning breakfast.

Preschool Lunch Ideas:
Lunchbox #20 - Leftover spaghetti squash with meaty marinara, apple slices with almond butter
Lunchbox #21 - Leftover salmon, salad, almond-stuffed dates
Lunchbox #22 - Blueberry custard, Kerrygold Dubliner, leftover sweet potato, mashed

Shrimp and Veggie Stir-Fry

I love shrimp. They're tasty, they cook up really fast, and there are never complaints from the peanut gallery seated with me at the dinner table on shrimp nights. Here's a dish we had on Friday night.

Shrimp Veggie Stir-Fry
Serves 4

2 lb. raw shrimp, tails and shells off, deveined
2 carrots, sliced into very thin coins (they must be thin if they will cook at the same rate as the shrimp)
1/2 green pepper, sliced into thin 1 inch pieces
2 yellow mini peppers (or 1/2 yellow peppers), sliced thin into 1 inch pieces
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. tamari
2 tbsp. coconut oil

Combine all ingredients except coconut oil, and stir to combine. Heat coconut oil in a large pan at high heat until melted, then add shrimp and vegetables. Stir fry for a few minutes, until all shrimp are pink. Remove pan from heat to avoid overcooking the shrimp, and serve immediately.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bacon Spinach Leek Sauté

This one came together in a desparate bid for a quick Saturday lunch. It turned out tasty - the bacon, tamari and Worchestershire give it a hearty, smoky base, and the lime juice cuts it just enough with the bright citrus note.

Bacon Spinach Leek Sauté
Serves 4 as a main course

1 pack bacon (I used 12 oz. pack of Nature's Promise), cut into 1" x 1/2" pieces
3 large leeks, the white part cut into 1/4" thick coins
2 cups loosely-packed baby spinach leaves, stems removed, torn into smaller bites
Juice of 1 lime
Dash tamari (wheat-free soy sauce)
Dash Worchestershire sauce

Put bacon and leeks in deep pot on high heat, and sauté, stirring continuously for a few minutes, until the bacon has reached your desired crispness. Add lime juice, tamari, and Worchestershire, and stir continuously for about 2 more minutes. Toss spinach in and stir to combine. Serve immediately, while spinach is bright green and just wilted.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Lunchbox #19

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Leftover quiche
  • 2 slices soft gouda
  • 1/2 slice dried pineapple
  • Leftover brussels sprouts 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Lunchbox #18

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Leftover beef pot roast
  • Diced nectarine
  • Baby spinach salad with carrots and tomatoes
  • Two baby peppers, and a wasabi sour cream dip

Monday, October 18, 2010

Menu Plan, and Grocery Shopping Primally at Sam's Club

We hit up Sam's Club this weekend. I have mixed feelings about Sam's - good for the primal budget, but also makes bulk-packaged items a little too available. Here's an example:

Pro: Raw almonds are the cheapest per pound that I've seen anywhere - 48 oz. (3 lb.) for around $11.
Con: 48 ounces of raw almonds in a big resealable bag. Seriously? How long do you really expect those to last in our household?

Other things I can get for the cheapest at Sam's compared with my local grocery store:
  • Organic Omega-3 eggs, around $3.33/doz.
  • Dates, 3 lb., less than $10
  • Organic baby carrots, at close to $1/lb.
  • Organic greens and organic baby spinach, around $3.50 for a huge clamshell container
  • Gigantic 3-liter bottle of extra virgin olive oil, $11ish
By the way, if you grocery shop at Giant (a mid-Atlantic grocery chain), my go-to bacon - Nature's Promise nitrate-free antibiotic-free hormone-free bacon - is on sale for $3.59/pack (retail $4.49/pack). Expiry dates on the packs went as late as December 5 at my store, so you could stock up on several weeks' worth of bacon while saving about 20%.

Here's the scoop for this week.

Breakfast - Fried eggs, bananas for the girls
Lunch - Apples, gouda, grain-free granola
Dinner - Green curry beef pot roast, and stewed veggies - will be posting my lazy-woman's South Asian twist on conventional pot roast soon. Also, pot roast is on sale at Giant this week.

Breakfast - Warm banana pudding
Lunch - Leftover beef roast and veggies
Dinner - Bacon quiche, roast Brussels sprouts, salads

Breakfast - Oeufs Boursin (This is really just eggs mixed and scrambled with Boursin. Be sure to really tweak the nasal "n" for extra cheesiness.)
Lunch - Leftover quiche and salads
Dinner - Primal Matriarch night: Bacon and Crab Somethingorother and Primal Mini Apple Pie Bake* *Forgive me, AndreAnna, but my husband has a lifelong mouthfeel issue with shrooms! I plan on baking your bacon-crab filling stuffed in some other type of veggie. Perhaps stuffed in cabbage leaves? Or as a dip with some parmesan cheese baked grain-free crackers?

Breakfast - Leftover apple pie bake with mascarpone
Lunch - Big-ass salad, possibly some bacon-crab stuffed leftovers
Dinner - Spaghetti squash with a carbonara-style sauce

Breakfast - Joyful Abode's Grain-Free Granola Bars, made Wednesday night, ideally
Lunch - Baked chicken drumsticks OR leftover spaghetti squash, salads
Dinner - Butter-glazed shrimp with hot butter-lime dressing over a salad (shrimp is on sale at Giant!)

Preschool Lunch Ideas:
Lunchbox #18: Leftover pot roast with a wasabi sour cream dip, salad, fresh mini peppers, diced nectarines
Lunchbox #19: Miniquiches, leftover Brussels sprouts, carrots with Boursin for dipping, almond-stuffed dates
Lunchbox #20: Leftover spaghetti squash, half-banana, grain-free granola bars

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday Grok-Friendly Recipe Hunt - Primal Matriarch

This Friday's Grok-Friendly Recipe Hunt hunted up AndreAnna's blog Primal Matriarch. I am a fan of AndreAnna's very forthright style and especially her desire to recreate classics for her family (including young children) that results in primal fare! Here are some of AndreAnna's recipes that have caught my eye lately:

Primal Mini Apple Pie Bake - Can't wait to try these as the holidays approach. Plus, who doesn't love their own ramekin?

Sweet and Savory Morroccan Beef Stew - I love trying new exotic flavor combos so this one is on my hot list for the next time I get stew meat on sale.

Grain-Free and Gluten-Free Cheez-Its - 'Nuff said.|

Twice-Cooked Chicken and Cabbage Stir-Fry - I am craving Asian food like mad, and my skills haven't yet caught up with my demanding taste buds. Thus I'll rely on AndreAnna's and her husband's acquired skills. :)

Bacon and Crab Stuffed Mushrooms - Superbowl 2011, here I come.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Lunchbox #17

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Leftover carnitas
  • Grapes
  • A chocolate mousse (avocado + cocoa + just a hint of honey/palm sugar), as inspired by Girl Gone Primal
  • Zucchini sticks
  • Carrot sticks

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lunchbox #16

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise, more or less):
  • Zucchini sticks
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Braunschweiger Liverwurst (1 small slice, in pieces, upper right)
  • Date and walnut custard
  • Almond butter, for dipping
  • Mustard-yoghurt sauce, for dipping
  • Apple slices

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Lunchbox #15

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):

Bleu Double Moo

I seem to be on a bit of a beef and cheese theme here lately, but for good reason. On Sunday night I braised some steaks in tamari (350 F for a couple of hours in the oven until very tender), and topped them with triple cream bleu cheese out of the oven. If you've never tried a roast or steak (or any beef for that matter) topped with a blue-veined cheese like bleu, Roquefort, or gorgonzola, then you should definitely give it a go. Your taste buds will sing with delight!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Menu Plan, Columbus Day Edition and September Primal Challenge final results

Well, the Primal Blueprint September Challenge is officially over. Between September 1 and my latest weigh-in yesterday, I dropped 5.4 lb. - not bad for 6.5 weeks, especially when I hadn't done much exercise the last half of the challenge due to allowing a sprained ankle to recover.

I am learning a whole lot about how my body responds to micronutrient loads. For example, dark chocolate is a terminal weakness of mine and generally allowed in moderation, but if I eat too much, I can feel its physiological impact in many ways: for example, my recuperating ankle starts to swell and hurt more (inflammation), and my moods start to darken. When I go a couple of days without chocolate or refined sugars, I feel more even keel and my outlook is much more positive. Until this challenge I had no idea how much these things could affect my daily life (aside from how it impacts my weight).

On a side note, while at my in-laws' a while back, I went to the cabinet where my mother-in-law has her usual stash of dark chocolate. There wasn't any of the higher-quality dark chocolate that she typically has, but there were some sort of Wi11y W0nka domed candies that were labeled "dark chocolate" - the kind that come in a big bag for Halloween distribution. I nibbled a corner of one cautiously and ack was it nasty. It tasted like wax and chalk together - like fillers, in other words! I had no problem throwing that piece in the trash - it's mainly Green & Black's and Lindt that call to me.

So here's this week's primal menu plan. Wild caught Alaskan salmon is on sale for $9.99/lb. at Giant this week, so I will be taking advantage.

Breakfast - Strawberries and whipped cream (did I mention that strawberries were also on sale at Giant?)
Lunch - Leftover braised steak from Sunday night, carrot sticks
Dinner - Baked chicken thighs and brussels sprouts

Breakfast - Scrambled bleu cheese eggs (I discovered this triple cream bleu cheese that is off. the. hook!)
Lunch - Creamy leek and sweet potato soup, leftover chicken
Dinner - Eggplant lasagna, baked dates and apples (while the oven's going, y'know!)

Breakfast - Cottage cheese and fruit
Lunch - Liverwurst (Robb Wolf gave it the OK)
Dinner - Broiled salmon, asparagus

Breakfast - Apples with almond butter
Lunch - Leftover salmon, salad
Dinner - Crock pot pork carnitas with salsa, guacamole (might make Joyful Abode's pancakes earlier in the day for wrapping these soft taco style)

Breakfast - Coconut banana smoothies
Lunch - Leftover carnitas
Dinner - Bacon and eggs

Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday Grok-Friendly Recipe Hunt - What I Crave

For this week's Friday Grok-Friendly Recipe Hunt, I am crushing on Carrol's primal blog What I Crave. Carrol has a knack for sussing out fresh new tastes, and also for adaptations of neolithic faves when you get homesick (say, for a bagel).

I am really excited to try some of her recipes in the future. Some that caught my eye recently:

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Lunchbox #14

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Quartered strawberries
  • Leftover coconut bread
  • Leftover "Cheezapalooza"
  • Butternut squash pudding with raisins

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Lunchbox #13

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Carrot sticks
  • Mozzarella sticks
  • Piece of dried pineapple
  • Leftover roast chicken (dip container contains a teaspoon or two of curry - gasp! - ketchup)
  • Half a banana

Primal / Paleo Halloween Ideas

A thread on PaleoHacks got me thinking about Halloween, with minimal sugar. Here are some ideas I came up with:

If you know your neighborhood's general amount of trick-or-treater traffic, consider giving out:
  • Nonchokable toys (remember the kids still have younger siblings). Bonus points if they're fitness oriented. Just don't give the costumed mites some kettlebells. Save the kettlebell giveaways for the Christmas stockings! ;op
  • Dark chocolate (as dark as you can find). I can imagine the looks on kids' faces if I managed to track down single-square packs of Lindt 99% dark. Anybody know where to find 99% single squares?
  • Single-serve packs of trail mix, if you can find'em. (Consider Amazon or Sam's Club/Costco for this...). Have a couple of alternatives if kids with allergies show up.
  • Single serve packets of almond butter (you can get these on Amazon)
Paleo-Friendly Halloween Activities and Menu Ideas:
  • Bobbing for bags of sug-....errr... organic apples
  • Pumpkin carving and associated pumpkin's seed-roasting
  • Chili (this is my family's traditional Halloween meal) or pumpkin soup. If you do paleo baking, you could make some coconut bread or muffins to go with.
  • A game of "go fish" with someone behind the silkscreen attaching Halloween tchotchkes (no candy) to the fishing line
  • Card games! A good game of poker could be enjoyed by older kids (tweens and up). Offer to trade poker chips for candy at the start before the cards are even dealt.
  • Offer to "buy" your kids' candy at a nickel or a dime (or whatever) per piece.
How are you going to "do" Halloween this year?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Lunchbox #12

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):

Monday, October 4, 2010

Shrimp Po' Boys

OK, I gave it the college try:

Looks tasty, right? The problem is, the coconut bread recipe, while delicious, is like a dense pound cake, so it didn't really hold up consistency-wise to the required "sandwichyness" needed for a po' boy. But my husband said that he would be just as delighted to eat the same coconut crusted fried shrimp over a bed of salad greens, with a couple of mini slices of the coconut bread on the side. So: note to future self.

Since the coconut bread turned out so much like a dense cake, it got my wheels turning for the possibility of using it as a birthday cake. More on this later - when one of us actually has a birthday to celebrate.

Also, the shrimp was more or less off-the-cuff (when I was cooking, I didn't pull up the MDA recipe that I originally meant to use as a reference point), and since I would gladly repeat - I'll record what I did here for future reference.

Coconut Crusted Shrimp
Serves 4 generously

1.5 lb. raw shrimp - peeled, deveined, tails off
All-purpose seasoning in the tradition of Old Bay - without sugar, MSG, etc. (Salt, paprika, and other seasonings, generally.)
3 eggs, scrambled
2 cups finely shredded unsweetened coconut (I used Let's Do Organic)
3/4 c. coconut flour (I used Tropical Traditions)
1 c. coconut oil

Put shrimp in a large bowl, and season a bit. Add a bit of seasoning to the egg wash as well, then pour it over the seasoned shrimp, and stir to coat.

To a shallow dish, add shredded coconut, coconut flour, and another shake of seasoning, and toss to combine.

Add large spoonful of coconut oil to a medium-to-large pan on medium-high heat. Once the oil has melted, pull an "egged" shrimp from the large bowl and toss it in the shallow dish of coconut crust until it's coated. Place the shrimp in the hot pan, and work quickly around the pan, adding shrimp. (I start at the "12 o'clock" position in the pan and work clockwise.) Once the pan is full, the first shrimp to go in will have cooked on one side, so being flipping each shrimp - they should be golden brown once the underside is flipped side up. Cook an additional 2 minutes, then place in a shallow dish on a paper towel. Scrape old oil and debris from pan, add more fresh coconut oil, and start again, frying the shrimp this way in batches until all are fried. Serve immediately.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Menu Plan

I did the happy dance this weekend when a box from Tropical Traditions arrived on my doorstep! I had some Amazon credits and ordered from Tropical Traditions via Amazon - coconut flour. It is so fine, I wouldn't be able to distinguish it visually from wheat flour. It wasn't in our house half an hour before I was busting out a double batch of Joyful Abode's grain-free pancakes. SO TASTY. I very much recommend! The flapjacks have a great flavor, and a versatile half-pancake half-crepe quality - very flippable (and you'll recall that I tend to mangle flippable breakfast items). Joyful Abode's pancakes could lend themselves very well to wrapping or sandwiching meaty fillings. The leftovers went into the fridge for this morning's breakfast.

Breakfast - Scrambled eggs, plus bananas for the girls
Lunch - Baked brussels sprouts and chicken breasts
Dinner - Shrimp po'boys, shrimp based loosely on this, and the bun based on the coconut bread recipe here, baked in miniloaf pans

Breakfast - Boiled eggs, plus grapes for the girls
Lunch - Blueberry Coconut Smoothie
Dinner - Roast chicken, loaded salads

Breakfast - Gorgonzola spinach omelettes
Lunch - Avocado Ginger smoothie
Dinner - Cheeseburger soup (if it's tasty I'll post details)

Breakfast - Whole milk yoghurt (drizzled with honey for my 3-year-old)
Lunch - Loaded "big ass" salad with leftover roast chicken
Dinner - Miso-glazed salmon adapted Primally (hey, if Melissa McEwen can do it...), stir-fry veggies

Breakfast - Banana pancakes (I'll sub baby food - aka banana puree - for some of the milk in Joyful Abode's pancakes recipe, and add a pinch of nutmeg, 'cause I'm a nutmeg freak)
Lunch - Leftover cheeseburger soup
Dinner - Loaded cobb salads (Boiled egg, bacon, veggies, cheese, chopped walnuts, etc. over greens)

Preschool lunch ideas:
Lunch #12: Leftover shrimp or chicken, mozzarella and tomato salad, leftover coconut bread
Lunch #13: Coconut banana custard, veggie crudites with dip, dates
Lunch #14: Nut butter muffins, cheese crisps and guacamole to dip

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Primal Kitchen Chili

This is actually quite simple. You sautee a bunch of veggies, onions, and peppers - your pick on the type - then combine with a large can (~30 oz.) of crushed tomatoes, and season with chili powder, cumin, cayenne, etc. to taste. Add browned ground beef after all the rest has simmered for at least half an hour. Garnish with creme fraiche or sour cream. The next day the flavors should be even more deliciously melded, so make enough for leftovers!

P.S. - A fellow student from my grad school program - a Mexican lady - once told me (vaguely recalling here), "Americans think that all Mexican food is CUMIN. Cumin, cumin, CUMIN!"

Heh - I think she was referring to the dominant cumin taste in American-Mexican cuisine (analagous to the American-bastardized creations of fortune cookies and chop suey when it comes to Chinese cuisine). So if you want your chili kind of Taco Bell-ish, feel free to be liberal with the cumin. If not, go easy on it and let other flavors take center stage.

Here's the long version:

Primal Kitchen Chili
Serves 4 adults generously

2 lb. ground beef
1 large (~30 oz.) can crushed tomatoes (I used one with added basil)
2-4 cups of 1/2"-1" cubed fresh veggies - in my case I like zucchini and yellow squash, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, etc.
1-2 finely chopped jalapeno or other peppers, if you like it spicier
Butter or other stable cooking oil, to sautee the veggies and peppers
Broth, if you want to make your chili a bit thinner
If you do dairy, creme fraiche or sour cream (or cheese) to top

Seasonings to taste:
Cumin (this is the traditional American interpretation Mexican seasoning)
Cilantro (if using fresh, stir in just at the end or use to top as a garnish)
Dried chipotle peppers
Cayenne (Be careful! A little goes a LONG way!)
Paprika (this, especially sweet paprika, will take your chili in a "goulasch" direction the more you add)
Garlic powder

In a large pan over medium-high heat, add onions and peppers and sautee in butter or other cooking oil until the onions start to brown and turn translucent. Add other veggies, and stir continuously for about 10 minutes to ensure that everything gets an even shot at being browned/sauteed. Add veggies and canned crushed tomatoes together in a crock pot on low, and then brown the ground beef. Season the ground beef as it browns, tasting along the way to make sure that the seasoning is to your liking, and then add this to the crock pot when it's mostly brown (especially if this is grass-fed ground beef, which is easier to overcook). Stir contents of crock pot through, allowing to warm for a few more minutes. Garnish with any of the following: sour creme or creme fraiche, cheese, and fresh cilantro.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Friday Grok-Friendly Recipe Hunt - Simply Sugar and Gluten Free

This week's Friday Grok-Friendly Recipe Hunt brought me to Amy Green's blog Simply Sugar and Gluten Free. I love Amy's laid-back style and her evident passion for crafting quality dishes. She's even training as a chef! She lost over 60 pounds after giving up white sugar and gluten, so that enough is reason to check out her finely-tuned recipes. Also, her blog has a lot of innovative twists on substitutes in a world without gluten or sugar, so of course I'm inspired by her creativity.

In particular, she offers a lot in the realm of desserts which I will probably peruse in the event of very special occasions - though much of her baking contains non-gluten grain flours, I wouldn't mind baking up some of her teff-flour gingerbread cupcakes for my preschooler's birthday classroom cupcake treat to share with her friends, as my primary goal is avoiding gluten and refined sugar. (I've made them once before, substituting palm sugar for the agave.)

Amy also has a terrific "How To" lineup:
Here are some primal-adaptable Simply Sugar and Gluten Free recipes of Amy's that I'm dying to try:
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