Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Menu Plan, and First Time Roasting Duck!

I didn't have plans to go to Whole Foods on Monday, but it happened - because I made an unexpected trip about 45 minutes away for another errand, and why pass up the chance when Whole Foods is right there and there isn't one near home?

I was perusing the meats and poultry when I came across fresh duck! Remembering a recent Mark's Daily Apple post on roasting duck with a honey tamari sauce, I picked one up on the fly. Turns out, this was a very simple process, one I'll definitely repeat.

First, I Googled, "How to Roast a Duck", and the very first results, a detail and picture-filled tutorial from The Amateur Gourmet, were a good starting point for me. I scored the fat on the duck on each side (used a basic steak knife to cut cross-shaped marks in the fat). Then, I used my mini food chopper (~$10 at WalMart) to blend honey, tamari, and a bit of juice from a Clementine. (I didn't copy the MDA recipe but I liked the general flavor profile so it was good inspiration.) I poured about 1/3 of the sauce over the duck on a roasting pan, roasted it for an hour at 300 F, flipped the duck, poured another 1/3 of the sauce, roasted another hour, flipped and added the rest of the sauce, roasted another half hour, and then broiled at 450 for 5 minutes to get the skin dark and crispy.

So in all: 2.5 hours total roasting time, flipping and saucing the duck every hour, plus 5 minutes broiling at the end. A very hands-off dish, and for a dark meat poultry lover like me, absolutely terrific final results. I used some of the duck drippings to roast some home fries that went into my husband's lunch today, and he pronounced them delicious when I happened to call while he was eating.

Here's the rest of the scoop on this week's menu plan. I'm trying to get the carbs lower because it feels like Thanksgiving has sent me on a bit carb craving roller coaster lately, and I'd like get more of a handle on the cravings.

Breakfast - Fried eggs, bananas for the girls
Lunch - Leftover grass fed ground beef with Trader Joe's organic vodka sauce
Dinner - Baked chicken, sweet potatoes (I may skip the sweet potatoes)

Breakfast - Almond butter cinnamon smoothie
Lunch - Maybe intermittent fast?
Dinner - Creamy tarragon asparagus soup, bacon on the side

Breakfast - Mashed boiled eggs, "egg nog" (this is really just a shot of heavy cream with some nutmeg sprinkled on top)
Lunch - Veggie soup with bacon
Dinner - Beef in the crock pot

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Primal Menu Plan, Thanksgiving Week Edition, Plus a Bonus Basic Mashed Sweet Potato Recipe

This is the first year since my husband and I married that we've ended up doing two different Thanksgiving celebrations - one this past weekend with my inlaws, and the other tomorrow at my brother and sister-in-law's place.

Believe it or not, one of my biggest weaknesses this time of year is a Clementine. (OK; not a - singular - Clementine, but rather mini binges of a few at a time...) Yes, despite the cookies, pies, cakes, candies, etc. floating around, instead I am more strongly called to the small sweet citrus fruits that sell 5 lb. for around four and a half bucks. For 7.5 grams of carbohydrates, I could have a few squares of Green & Black's 85% chocolate, or a Clementine, but it's a tough call. And this week, they went on sale for the first time at Giant, so if my weight loss stalls through till January (and there is a pile of Clementine crates that are stacked in the trash at the end of the driveway), I know exactly what to blame.

For the Thanksgiving celebrations on Thursday at my brother's place, we are contributing Sauteed Kale with Bacon and Mushrooms and Bill's Chiffon Pumpkin Pie from The Food Lovers' Primal Palate.

Also: mashed sweet potatoes. I volunteered to tackle the sweet potatoes because a) sweet potatoes I can eat! and b) the typical American way with them involves marshmallows and sometimes even a flour-based crust on top, which to me detract entirely from the goodness and flavor of the potatoes themselves. So mine will be basic and less inclined to skyrocket my postprandial blood glucose:
  • Bake'em 'til they're soft. (About an hour and a half or more.)
  • Peel.
  • Mash with butter. (I'll use Kerrygold.)
  • Season with: ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, ground cardamom, ground nutmeg.
  • Top with finely chopped nuts (toasted, if desired).
I have a few other ideas for things to bring, but it'll depend on how much time I have this week. But in the meantime until Thursday, the meals will be kept simple.

Breakfast - Leftover home fries, other leftovers
Lunch - Turkey veggie soup (using leftover turkey from this past weekend)
Dinner - Chicken roasted with tamari
Breakfast - Eggs scrambled with Kerrygold Ballyshannon cheddar, Clementines
Lunch - Chipotle (For me: a steak salad bol with guacamole...mmm! What a treat!)
Dinner - Leftovers
Breakfast - Cottage cheese and banana pudding
Lunch - Leftovers
Dinner - Steaks

Thanksgiving!! Happy Thanksgiving to one and all. :)
Leftovers, essentially. :)

One Preschool Lunch This Week:
Lunchbox #29: Finger foods: Clementines, cheese, leftover chicken, baby carrots

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Lunchbox #29

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • 2 Clementines
  • Kerrygold Ballyshannon cheddar
  • Leftover roast chicken
  • Baby carrots

Monday, November 22, 2010

Star Anise Bacon Soup

If you are a fan of pho and its complex licorice-y broth, you would enjoy giving this quickly-assembled soup a try. I like the bacon a little more tender and wilty than crisp in this case; if you like it crisp you should cook it as directed, then remove the bacon before adding the onions, and add the bacon back into the bowls right at the end when serving the soup.

Star Anise Bacon Soup
Serves 3-4

1-2 tbsp. butter (I used unsalted Kerrygold)
12 oz. bacon, cut into 1/2" pieces (I used kitchen shears to shortcut this)
1/2 - 1 c. onions (I used leeks and shallots here)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 bag cole slaw veggie mix (just shredded cabbage and carrots - no dressing!)
1/2 tsp. black pepper
5-6 dried star anise stars (mine came from the local international grocery store; see collage pic above)
2 c. or more other vegetables (I used 1 zucchini and 1 box of mushrooms here)
3 c. water
Salt or tamari to taste, if desired

To a large soup pot on high heat, add butter, bacon, onions, garlic powder, and ginger. Stir continuously until onions sizzle and turn translucent. Add cole slaw mix, black pepper, star anise stars, and continue to stir for about 2 more minutes. Add water and other vegetables, and cook an additional 10-15 minutes, or until all vegetables are tender. Pick out star anise stars, and serve hot.

Disclosure: This post contains an Amazon affiliate link. Thanks for supporting Primal Kitchen at no additional cost to you!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Early Primal / Paleo Thanksgiving with the Inlaws

We had an early Thanksgiving with my inlaws this weekend before they head out of state to spend actual Thanksgiving with family. The meal was primal and dee-licious. My mother-in-law graciously sought out appetizers that I could also enjoy - like bacon-wrapped scallops and shrimp cocktail. Also on the menu?
  • The turkey, basted in butter and broth
  • Roasted asparagus
  • Roasted Brussels sprouts
  • Tossed salad
  • Mashed sweet potatoes topped with walnuts
And a gorgeous jewel-toned fruit salad for dessert:

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Brussels Sprout Pops

In my experience with nonprimal friends and family, even those who haven't warmed to Brussels sprouts in the past, one introduction to these babies and they'll be singing a different tune. Gone is the strong taste - the slow roasting makes them soft and mellow, crispy on the outside, and buttery and yielding on the inside. The toothpick convenience and nonprecision of the cooking time makes them a unexpectedly party-compatible appetizer.

Brussels Sprout Pops
Makes 20-30, depending on the size of your stalk

1 stalk Brussels sprouts (or buy 20-30 in a container if that's how they're sold at your grocer)
Butter to coat (I used 4 tablespoons salted)
Generous dash garlic powder, to coat

Wash stalk of sprouts, and then snap sprouts off of stalk into a large bowl. Melt butter with garlic powder, and then pour it over the sprouts. Stir vigorously to ensure that the butter mix fully coats the sprouts. Spread sprouts in a shallow baking pan and roast at 400 degrees for at least an hour (an hour and a half is better), until dark and crispy on the outside and very tender in the middle. Stick one toothpick in each sprout and serve immediately.


Disclosure: This post contains an Amazon affiliate link. Thanks for supporting Primal Kitchen at no additional cost to you!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Smoky Autumn Beef Brisket Soup

This soup came about early last week for a lunch after I realized that not only did we come home from our weekend trip with an abundance of my parents' produce, but also to some leftover beef brisket in the fridge. It also kicked off a soup streak for me this week - you'll see bacon-based clear broth variation later this week, as well.

Smoky Autumn Beef Brisket Soup
Serves 3-4

1 lb. or more slow-cooked beef brisket (leftovers work really well in this case!)
At least 1 c. of diced onions - you may use yellow or white onions, or scallions, leeks, shallots, etc. or any combination
(The above pictured soup had diced white onions and leeks)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1-2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses (optional, but adds the smoky depth)
At least 2 c. of other diced vegetables (Above shows 1 sliced zucchini and 1 box - 8 oz. - sliced mushrooms.)
1 standard can (~14/15 oz.) pureed pumpkin, plus 1 can's worth of water
1/2 c. heavy cream
Tamari, to garnish

In a large soup pot, combine beef, butter, onions, and garlic powder, and heat on high, stirring constantly, until onions are sizzling and turning translucent. Add molasses, and stir to combine over high heat as the onions caramelize. Add vegetables, stirring continuously for about 2 minutes, and then add water, heavy cream, and canned pumpkin. Turn heat to low, allow to simmer about 10-15 minutes or until vegetables are tender, and then serve hot, with tamari to season.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lunchbox #28

Today my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Fruit salad of blueberries, raspberries, and diced pears
  • 2 slices mozzarella cheese
  • Banana pudding, chilled
  • Slices cucumber and slices of green pepper

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Lunchbox #27

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Leftover Smoky Autumn Beef Brisket Soup (liquid drained away)
  • Trail mix - nuts and dried fruit
  • Baby carrots and Kerrygold Ballyshannon cheddar
  • Cucumbers and yoghurt dip

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Sample from Crisco

I keep up with a series of money-saving blogs, and frequently sign up for freebies via the deals announced by these blogs. As a way to track my freebies' origins (and the origins of any spam/junk mail that unintentionally results), I usually sign up for a freebie using the name Valued*nameofgiveaway* Customer. But of course, these freebies and samples often take weeks, even months to arrive. So you can imagine my surprise when I opened my mailbox and found a packet addressed to:

Valuedfreecrisco Customer

Crisco!? I went primal in June; how could it have been that I had signed up for Crisco? Then it all came clear:

Who's da widdle boddle of owive oil?

Seriously, though: I have a terminal weakness for miniaturized versions of things, and this teensy weensy sample of extra virgin olive oil is perfect for me to stow in my diaper bag or purse - like the times when I'm stuck in a restaurant like Panera and a naked Greek salad is the only primal offering. Mix the olive oil with a to-go packet of tamari and BAM! A little spontaneous creation of sugar-free salad dressing to add some satiety factor. Just wish that I could get about 100 of these sample-sized oil bottles, in various types - avocado oil, macadamia oil, etc.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Menu Plan, Pre-Primal / Paleo Thanksgiving Leftovers Edition

I had a sort of a wacky idea tonight. We're heading to a relatives' house for Thanksgiving dinner later this month, so I'm not anticipating a lot of leftover turkey (or any leftovers, really) coming out of that evening. But turkey is so CHEAP right now; $0.47/lb. at Giant! And why is it precisely that folks don't make turkey more often? Burnout! They're always trying to do it on a day when they have 100 other dishes to cover as well. So I'm thinking of trying to thaw and roast a frozen turkey from Giant, and then putting the cooked leftovers in the freezer for future use in soups.

One other wacky idea: I'm going to bake a whole bunch of sweet potatoes, mash'em, and freeze the leftovers in portions.

Breakfast - Pumpkin custards
Lunch - Caprese salad - rBGH-free mozzarella, tomatoes, fresh basil, salt, pepper, olive oil, on top of greens, with a bit of liverwurst
Dinner - Bacon zucchini quiche, salad

Breakfast - Fried eggs, bananas for the girls
Lunch - Apple slices with almond butter, leftover quiche
Dinner - Slow cooked pork roast with carrots, leeks, potatoes

Breakfast - Blueberries (on sale at Giant!) with whole fat yoghurt
Lunch - Lunch at preschool with my daughter for a "Thanksgiving Feast"
Dinner - Leftover pork roast; baked/mashed sweet potatoes

Breakfast - Cheesy scrambled eggs
Lunch - Bananamandeln smoothies
Dinner - Shrimp and asparagus over spaghetti squash with a white wine reduction

Breakfast - Mixed berries, cottage cheese
Lunch - Packed to eat with a friend; boiled eggs, apples, nuts, raisins, etc.
Dinner - Roast turkey, wasabi asparagus (on sale this week at Giant for $1.99/lb.!)

Preschool Lunch Ideas:
Lunchbox #27: Pumpkin custard, liverwurst, quiche
Lunchbox #28: Blueberries, wasabi asparagus spears, slices of Kerrygold cheese, apple slices with almond butter

A First Birthday Cake Test Run

I have fallen deeply in love with a primal cake recipe. I've been scouting one for my daughter's first birthday party in a few weeks, and The Food Lovers' Primal Palate recently published a coconut-flour-based chocolate cake recipe that is not only way more than "acceptable" as an analogue to traditional cake, but truly very delicious in its own right, with a delightfully smooth, moist consistency that takes to a thin layer of Joyful Abode's dark chocolate ganache very well. I made it this weekend while visiting with (nonprimal) family a few hours away, and my guinea pigs agreed that it was terrific. The main substitution that I made to the cake recipe was melted coconut oil instead of grapeseed oil, which is probably how I'll always make the recipe since I loved it so much. So thanks, Primal Palate and Joyful Abode, for the inspiration!

Note: I also test-ran this in a muffin tin to give it a go as cupcakes, but the texture was a little chewier and more muffin-y, so I will likely stick with the 8" round double-layer cake format for the birthday party to keep its texture cakey.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Lunchbox #26

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Gala apple
  • Baby carrots
  • Trail mix: Raw almonds, raw walnuts, some mini dark chocolate chips
  • Slices Kerrygold Dubliner cheese

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lunchbox #25

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Fried eggs
  • Cherry tomatoes and leftover vodka sauce/butter-glazed shrimp
  • Whole milk yoghurt with frozen wild blueberries stirred in
  • Honeydew melon, cubed

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Menu Plan - "The Cod Incident" Ex Post Facto

In the first year that my husband and I were married, by a series of very strange coincidences, we ended up eating some form or another of pork for seven days in a row - and we are not overtly "pork people" (bacon is a different story). Long story short, I made pork on a Friday or Saturday, we went to my parents' place that same weekend (where pork was served), they sent us home with a whole lot of leftovers, and by the next weekend we went to my inlaws' place, where my mother-in-law proudly announced upon our arrival, "I made something that I don't usually make: Pork chops!" My husband and I exchanged knowing glances, yet still managed to eat her lovingly-prepared dinner without telling her and bursting her bubble. (We told her about it a long time after the fact.)

We didn't eat pork for weeks afterward.
ANYWHOO, all this to say, sometimes you just have weeks that are culinary black holes.

And thus: Last week was a bit of a culinary black hole. I had an absolutely disastrous culinary encounter with approximately one metric tonne of cod. I mean - if something seems reasonably tasty to me, I'm prone to photograph/post it as my time allows. But this cod just took over the middle of the week with its own gravitational pull and would not go away.

*Ahem.* Mistakes made in "The Cod Incident":
  • I've never made cod. Experimenting with new tastes is one of my favorite things, but I got cocky and just assumed that it would be more or less like buying and preparing tilapia. Wrong-O! Turns out that cod fillets are a lot bigger than tilapia fillets, which brings me to the next mistake...
  • I bought too much. I didn't realize how big the fresh fillets were until I had them home and unwrapped into the baking pan. Egads! One fillet would have fed me for two meals easily. And I had bought six.
  • My husband and 3-year-old daughter did not like the "non-taste". I'm sure that there are ways to prepare cod (not to mention better-sourced cod) that are way tastier, but this was sooooo bland. Even worse?
  • I had phoned in the seasoning. Normally when I dump some coconut milk and garam masala over chicken to bake, it's really tasty. Not so with this cod! The cod didn't "take" the garam masala the way that chicken does, so it was bland coated in bland sauce.
  • Gross alert: Some cod "juice" leaked into the fridge cooling drawer before I cooked it, so even after my husband cleaned out that drawer our fridge and freezer STILL smell like...you guessed it...cod! So even after the threat of eating it is gone the spectre of its smell is around to remind us of "The Cod Incident". Arrrrrrrgh!
Ugh, and after that first dinner I still had over half of it left! (Normally on fish nights we all scarf tilapia, but this barely-touched and cooling pan of cod accused us from the center of the table.)

The next night, in a bid to not waste food, I actually rinsed the bland coconut sauce off of the cod and tried to start fresh, conjuring up a saltier butter cream sauce. Certainly better, but still the bland blah of the fish itself. (How can such a blah fish have make our fridge and freezer smell so pungently?!?)

See? Aren't you glad that I didn't subject you to the photos and attempted recipe writeups of that?? Needless to say, unless I ever come across a cod recipe that says, "You MUST make this recipe or your quality of life is forfeit!"...cod won't be on the menu again any time soon.

What is on the menu this week:

Breakfast - Warm bananas
Lunch - Leftover spaghetti squash, chicken and Trader Joe's vodka sauce
Dinner - Butter-glazed shrimp, salads, honeydew melon

Breakfast - Scrambled eggs, sliced pear
Lunch - Apple slices with almond butter, Kerrygold Dubliner cheese
Dinner - BLT salad with boiled egg, dark meat chicken, and avocadoes

Breakfast - Whole milk yoghurt with honeydew melon
Lunch - Banamandeln smoothie
Dinner - Bacon spinach gouda quiche, leftover honeydew

Breakfast - Pumpkin custards
Lunch - Joyful Abode's Gluten-Free Chocolate Banana Bread
Dinner - Crock pot chicken soup (I know that this was last week, too, but what can I say? It hits the spot with the cold, rainy weather lately!)

Breakfast - Mashed boiled eggs
Lunch - Sauteed kale with bacon and mushrooms
Dinner - Steaks, salads

Preschool Lunch Ideas:
Lunchbox #25: Apple slices and almond butter, Dubliner, boiled eggs
Lunchbox #26: Honeydew with yoghurt, BLT salad
Lunchbox #27: Chocolate banana bread, pumpkin custard

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Spicy Sausage with Tomatoes, Broccolini, and Garlic Cream Sauce

This resulted from another session of weekend experimentation. My husband and preschooler reported that their main regret was that there wasn't more!

Spicy Sausage with Tomatoes, Broccolini, and Garlic Cream Sauce
Serves 2 very generously

5-pack brat-style sausages (I used Nature's Promise spicy Italian pork sausage from Giant)
Generous handful cherry tomatoes, sliced into thirds
1 bunch broccolini (enough to hold with one hand), sliced into 2" chunts
3/4 c. organic heavy cream
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
Salt, to taste
1 tablespoon coconut flour (optional; for thickening the sauce at the end)

Heat a large pan to medium-high heat. Using kitchen shears and working quickly, slice brat sausages into 1/2" long chunks into the pan. Stir about as sausage bits begin to brown (about 3 minutes), and then add sliced cherry tomatoes. Once the juice from the tomatoes and the grease from the cooking sausage begins to combine, add garlic powder, cream, and salt, and stir to combine, about 2 minutes. At this point, you may add coconut flour to thicken the sauce. Add broccolini last, stir continuously, and remove the pan from heat once the broccolini becomes just tender after a few minutes. Serve immediately.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Lunchbox #24

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Soft-cooked carrots
  • Gala apple
  • Cucumber slices with creme fraiche to dip
  • Slow-cooked crock-pot chicken

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Lunchbox #23

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Banana, halved
  • Guacamole
  • Baby carrots
  • Steak strips and mustard to dip
  • The world's teeniest tinyest square (~1"x1"x0.5") of white rice Rice Krispy treat (it's a loooong story)
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