Thursday, September 27, 2012

Take-it-Easy Spaghetti

Man, life can be hard sometimes, right? Full of tough decisions and lessons learned the hard way. The road can be more than rocky at times and some people get lost along the way. That stings, but life goes on and the stings slowly heal. We all get so busy these days, and sometimes we just need to stop, breathe and reevaluate what we really want out of life and what really makes us happy. I feel like such a hippie as I type this, plus I have been doing Yoga every Sunday so I feel like I am a bit more centered, but it's so true! That's where this recipe comes into play. While it simmers, take that time and actually STOP. I know it's hard because all we seem to do is go go go, but seriously stop and let your mind wander for a change. Not to mention there is something so calming about letting a big ol' pot of something cook all day. The aroma slowly filling your house and no sense of urgency. It's great. Give it a try!

Take-it-Easy Spaghetti
1 large spaghetti squash
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
1 green bell pepper
7 gloves garlic, minced
1 purple onion (again the onion is purple not red), chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 lbs. ground beef
1 lb ground Italian sausage
1 14.5 oz can of fire roasted tomatoes
1 28 oz. can of whole tomatoes
1 28oz. can of san marzano tomatoes
1 6oz. can of tomato paste
1 cup basil, chopped
3 Tbs. dried oregano
1/2 cup olive oil + 1 Tbs.
salt and pepper to taste



Preheat oven to 375. Take a sharp knife and puncture the squash all over (like you would if you were to bake a potato) and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for an hour or until you can insert the knife all the way through the squash EASILY. Let cool, then cut in half (length-wise) and scoop out the seeds. Finally, take a fork and scrape from one end of the squash to the other (this is how you get the "noodles") and continue until all the "noodles" are scraped out and all that's left is the shell of the squash.

Meanwhile...

In a large pot heat 1 Tbs. oil and then add in chopped bell pepper, mushrooms, and onions (on medium heat). Saute until veggies start to brown and become fragrant. Add in the ground beef and sausage, crumble meat and let brown. When meat is almost completely cooked, start adding in the tomatoes, combine with meat and veggies, then stir in chopped basil, dried oregano and remaining olive oil. Turn heat down to low and let simmer, stirring occasionally. I let this simmer for 3-4 hours and it turned out extremely flavorful.

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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Autumn Breakfast Casserole

Fall is in the air, don't you just love it? I do! In fact, if you read my last post I even talked about how nice it's been outside. Not surprisingly, it's hot as hell again but I'm used to it and it makes me appreciate those nice days even more. Fall is inspiring. Everything changes, colors, the trees, the plants, even the sky changes. There are so many different textures hay, pumpkins, dried vines, gourds, the smell of fall is hearty and spicy rich with cinnamon and herbs. It is visually and mentally stimulating and brings out my desire to cook even more, does it make you want to cook too?

Recently, I asked if anyone had any requests via Facebook and Carrie Pugh said she needed something different to make for breakfast. What a perfect suggestion for this time of the year! This casserole has a few components but it is worth it because it's pleasing to the taste buds AND this lasted us the entire work week so we weren't rushed to cook breakfast after our morning WOD, which we usually have to do. I hope Carrie and everyone else likes it!




Autumn Breakfast Casserole
1 acorn squash
3 Tbs.coconut oil, melted
2 Tbs. flax seed meal
1 1/2 cup coconut milk (canned)
1-2 Tbs. cinnamon + 1/8 tsp.
1 1/2 lbs. ground turkey sausage
1/2 Tbs. sage
1 green bell pepper diced
1 yellow onion diced
2 cups spinach
two pinches nutmeg
6 pieces bacon
Maple syrup


Preheat oven to 375. Place acorn squash on a cookie sheet and stab (with a knife) all over the squash , puncturing just as you would for baking a potato. Bake for about 45mins. or until it is soft all the way through. Remove from oven and let cool.

Meanwhile, dice pepper and onion and heat skillet, place veggies along with the sausage and sage in the skillet and just before sausage is browned and the veggies have softened, mix spinach in and as it wilts, throw in nutmeg and the 1/8 tsp of cinnamon. Once meat, onion, pepper and spinach is cooked let cool.

The squash should be cooled now, so cut it in half and scoop out the seeds, then spoon out the insides and place in a large mixing bowl. Next, add coconut oil, flax seed, coconut milk and remaining cinnamon and using your hand or an immersion mixer, mix everything together until you have a creamy, almost whipped, texture.  Then spoon the mixture in a casserole dish, spreading evenly, then pile on the meat and veggies, last but not least top with the BACON and drizzle with maple syrup. Bake for about 35 mins or until bacon has reached the desired done-ness (you like that word?).

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Tequila Pesto Chicken Tacos

I have been in a chicken mood lately if you haven't noticed. This post will be short and sweet because I don't want to take up your time when you could be making these tacos instead--but with a grain-free modification of course! I got the idea from "What's Cookin, Chicago"

The point is I am in love with the pesto--in love. This special pesto has my favorite things in it: garlic, cilantro and tequila...yum! In fact, I ate this for breakfast the next day and no, that doesn't make me an alcoholic! The best part is, this is one half crock pot meal and the other half is pretty dang easy too. So here it is, make it! Hope you likey.


Chicken
1 whole chicken
salt and pepper to taste

Pesto
3 Tbs. almonds
1 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1/8 cup tequila
juice of one lime
3 Tbs. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, whole
1 Tbs. cumin
1/8 tsp. cayenne

Garnish
1 red bell pepper

Cover chicken with olive oil salt and pepper and put it in a crock pot. Roast for 8 hours, then remove and allow it to cool.

Preheat oven to 350. On a small baking sheet, roast 3 Tbs. of almonds until they turn dark brown (about 8 mins). Remove from oven and place in a food processor along with cilantro, tequila, lime juice, olive oil and garlic cloves and process until you have a smooth consistency. Then add cumin and cayenne and process for another 1-2 mins. Once the chicken has cooled, start shredding it and place meat in a large bowl. I used paleo flatbread in place of tortillas/taco shells. Smear pesto on the flatbread or you can use large-leaf of lettuce and pile on the chicken and top with bell peppers, purple onion or whatever else you prefer.

*You can leave out tequila and use more olive oil and a little water if you like.
** You can also use walnuts instead of almonds but they give a drier end-result, so you may want to add more oil and tequila.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Chicken Aioli

It feels so good outside today which is why I moved my office outside today. This is rare, even in the fall it's usually in the 90's. Not today though, and I know it's only 8am but it is nice and cool... I'd guess the high 70's to low 80's-ish. Wow, am I really talking about the weather? I just wanted to share with you all how great it is to be able to sit outside and not die of heat stroke, that's all. Next topic: This chicken. Delish. From what I hear, people want easy breezy recipes that they can whip up at a moments notice. This is pretty easy in my opinion. I made aioli a few days ago and decided it was too tasty not to incorporate into a recipe. If I were you, I would do like I did (that's confusing) and make the aioli ahead of time, maybe the day before? I hope you enjoy this dish and if you do, you could, just maybe, leave a comment. I really LOVE getting comments!



Chicken Aioli
3lbs. chicken breast
aioli sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Lay chicken on a baking sheet (with a lip) or baking dish. Liberally brush both sides with aioli, preserving a small amount for later. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake for about 35-45 min. or until juices run clear. Plate and top with a little aioli and serve :)

*I used bone-in chicken breasts (with skin)

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Aioli Sauce

In April we took a trip to Washington state which I blogged about in a previous post. We love it there for many reasons but in true foodee form, one of our highlights was Mor Mor Bistro in Poulsbo. HIGHLY recommended,  so highly, we ate there twice in the one-week trip. That says a lot because we are big on trying as many different types of food as we can when we travel. This place was GOOD, and best of all it had this a-maz-ing aioli that was pretty dang close to paleo as far as we could tell. We couldn't get enough of it so back in August I made some aioli for the BLT Skewers... It was just ok. It was very watery but it worked for what I was using it for. Since then I have been thinking of ways to make it have a better consistency-- more like the aioli I fell in love with on the trip, and I finally did it. I can't wait to make some sweet potato fries to dip it in...MMMMmmm... I did make a chicken dish using it and I will be posting that in a few days.


Aioli
3/4 cup olive oil (not extra virgin)
2 egg yolks (at room temp if possible)
2 tsp. dijion mustard
3 gloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Separate egg yolks from the whites, but keep the whites to use in something else; breakfast the next morning? Put the yolks in a large mixing bowl or using a stand mixer like I did and beat until yolks are a pale yellow and have a creamy consistency. Next with your mixer on a medium to high speed, VERY VERY SLOWLY mix in olive oil, I mean a tiny drizzle at a time, this step took me at least 10-15 mins. I poured in the oil in a steady slow thin stream for about 1 min. then I would wait a minute so the oil could mix with the yolks. I did this over and over until all the oil was mixed in, then I let the mixer continue to beat the oil in for another 5 mins. FINALLY one by one, add in all other ingredients, stopping to let each one mix evenly before adding the next. After everything has been thoroughly mixed, whip the mixture for a few more mins then pour in a serving bowl or jar and refrigerate until needed. You should have a very pale yellow creamy somewhat thick sauce. It should also be VERY tasty.

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Molten Chocolate Lava Cake

Casey's birthday was yesterday; the big 29! Oh, this post is going to be mushy-gushy-lovie-dovie so if that makes you want to vomit, just skip ahead to the recipe.

Like I was saying, he is such a good husband, best friend and everything in between not to mention he is my blog editor and webmaster. He helps me run this blog which is no easy task since I can't spell to save my life. If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you probably notice more mistakes there. I also have the tendency to ramble on and on but he is patient enough to sift through all my botched up posts to make something that a normal person can read and understand. He also helps run all my social media outlets, which I kicked and screamed about doing until he taught (Editor's Note: Forced) me to learn how to use them to my advantage. Casey never (Editor's Note: Never ever) complains about having to taste EVERYTHING that I put in front of him, I know that sounds like a fun job but I'm sure it gets old, especially when it's a recipe that didn't make the cut. I adore him! I could not ask for more support; he always supports me in everything I do including any harebrained idea that I have, which is pretty much a daily occurrence.  I have openly admitted that I am obsessive, bossy, controlling and annoying at times (Editor's Note: You know what? I'll stop now.) and I know that it can not be easy to deal with me all the time but he does anyway. Then there is the added perk of his brilliant mind which I would be lost without, and his dashing good looks, which I would be sad without. It feels so good to know that not only do I adore him but I KNOW he adores me, that may sound a little arrogant but oh well. Everyone wants to be adored and I am not ashamed to admit that he makes me feel on top of the world. Behind closed doors, I am a completely goofy idiot and he loves me anyway. There is one more thing I want to point out then I'll get to the recipe. We have an equal partnership... We both prefer it that way. I do most of the cooking because I LOVE to cook, not because he is a man and thinks it's my job to cook based on the fact that I have uterus. I love that most about him, NOTHING is expected of me because of my sex. We are equals and I know that that can be difficult to find, especially in the old school south that we call home. OK OK I'll stop! I made him Molten chocolate lave cake for his birthday and here it is.


Molten Chocolate Lava Cake
3/4 cup coconut flour
1 cup maple syrup (Grade B!)
6 eggs + 6 egg yolks
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
12 oz. chopped 100% chocolate
1/2 cup coconut oil
2 tsp. apple pie spice

Preheat oven to 400. Using a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, mix together the coconut flour, maple syrup, eggs, yolks, vanilla and almond extract until mixture is smooth and looks like batter. Next, in a small sauce pan, combine chocolate, oil and apple pie spices, whisking constantly. Once chocolate is melted, combine with the batter and mix until your golden batter turns into chocolate cake batter. Divide batter in 6 greased ramekins and bake for 10-12 mins. DO NOT COOK TOO LONG! Molten lava cake is cake that is still uncooked in the middle for that "gooey" effect.

*I used coconut oil to grease my ramekins/mugs
**My ramekins are very small so I also used oven-proof coffee mugs.
***If your ramekins are small you made need to bake for a shorter amount of time to insure that it stays raw in the middle.

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Lemon-Garlic Salad Dressing

I live in what is affectionately refereed to as "The Grove." We have pecan trees everywhere, hence the name. It is a cute little town, very neat and clean. Most of the houses are old, including ours, which was built in 1956--the same year my mother was born as a matter of fact. While Groves offers a lot of charm and character, it does not offer much culture, our major claim to fame is right down the road from where we live, a super cute, locally owned, very authentic Italian restaurant, that sadly has nothing for us to eat anymore :( Although if I were going to have a MAJOR cheat I would go there but I would be sick for days I'm sure. It's nice to know we have a little taste of something besides fast food or chain restaurants. Their sauce is traditional, meaning it has brown sugar in it which is a crying shame because I could drink their meatsauce! Aside from their many scrumptious menu items, they have a house salad dressing that will have you tasting garlic for days. I crave it. It is amazing, and people rant and rave about it and although this doesn't taste just like it; it's close, real close.

Vampires, beware.
Lemon-Garlic Salad Dressing
1/2 cup olive oil
juice of one lemon
1/4 tsp. sea salt
8-10 cloves minced garlic
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
any dried herb goes nicely too

Whisk together all ingredients and store in a olive oil dispenser and refrigerate.
Take out 15 mins. before serving or run the bottle under hot water for a minute, so the oil will liquefy.

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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Chocolate Dipping Sauce

Our coaches Lauren and Burt got married recently, and we threw Lauren a Crossfit Shower at my house. It was so much fun to shower her with love and houseware, plus we got to have some major girl time! We borrowed kettle bells from the box, tied balloons to them and lined the walkway, so cute! It was a lot of fun!

To add to the fun and cuteness of it all I made this chocolate dipping sauce, poured it in wine glasses and garnished the glass with strawberries and I'll just say it was well-received. I love this kind of stuff! I think this would be a perfect dessert or hors d'oeuvres for any party and I hate to be the one to say this but the holidays are coming up. So whip this up and let me know what you think, I would LOVE to hear from you!

It doesn't get classier than this.


Chocolate Dipping Sauce
1 1/4 cup 100% chocolate, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup coconut oil, melted
3/4 cup honey
splash of vanilla
pinch of sea salt

Chop up chocolate into small chunks then toss it in a small saucepan and heat on low. Melt coconut oil and add it along with the honey into the sauce pan just as the chocolate is beginning to melt. Whisk it constantly so the chocolate doesn't burn. When the chocolate is melted and the oil is mixed evenly, add a splash of vanilla and a pinch or two of sea salt then whisk to combine. Continue to heat on low for about 5-8 mins, then transport the pan (with sauce in it) to the freezer and let sit for 5 minutes. Pour in a bowl or get totally fancy and fill wine glasses with sauce, put a fondue skewer in the glass and line the rim with fruit, bacon or whatever else you want to dip in heavenly chocolate.

*I put the pan in the freezer to thicken up the sauce so it would be perfect for dipping.
**I'm so glad I went with wine glasses instead of bowls it was really cute, plus your guests won't need a plate.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Mojito

So obviously alcohol isn't Paleo; we all know that. Drinking on the reg is a bad idea if you are training for the bigger picture, i.e. competitions, or if you have any fat to shed and muscle to gain. If you want to feel like crap every day than drinking every day is for you, but I like to feel alert and refreshed so alcohol is just not that important to me.  Even though I'm not big drinker, I do like to enjoy a refreshing adult beverage from time to time.  I prefer wine but like I mentioned before, I live in southeast Texas, (in other words, it is so freaking hot, it's ridiculous) and an ice cold mixed drink seems so much more appropriate. Here's the problem, you can't just order a mixed drink without it coming out full of crap that is really not Paleo, like simple syrup, sweet 'n sour, soda and don't forget sugar, sugar, SUGARRRR! When we go out and I really wanted a drink I would order 2 shots of tequila on ice and ask for a bowl of limes, squeeze all the lime juice in my tequila, add a little honey (previously agave until I found out how naughty it was) and BAM,  it was my version of Robb Wolf's Norcal Margarita. While tequila will always be my first love, 2012 has been the summer of Mojito. My Crossfitting/Paleoing friend (and cousin) Jamie says "Why drink when you can eat," but I am a responsible adult and I certainly know my limits and I, too indulge on occasion. I have been working on this recipe for awhile now and I have to say it's pretty refreshing, just sweet enough and strong enough for a man but gentle enough for a woman. I always hated that slogan...

Mojito
3/4 cup coconut water
2 limes
handful of fresh mint
1/3 cup rum
slices of pineapple for garnish

In a cocktail shaker, mix coconut water and rum, juice both limes and add the juice in the shaker. Rinse mint and peel the leaves from the stem, take a handful of the leaves and place in with the liquor. Add ice and with a muddler grind the mint leaves in like you are trying to smash them to the bottom of the shaker. If you don't have a muddler you can use a wooden spoon and get the same effect OR watch the video below, I will be doing this from now on. Put the lid on the shaker and shake it like a Polaroid picture. Put a few pieces of pineapple in the bottom of a glass and fill with mojito, add a few mint leaves and drink up!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RKvuIn25ms
*I used coconut water with pineapple puree in it.
**I also strained the liquid out of the shaker so the mint would stay in my shaker.
***I found a brand of rum that has mint extract in it but I can no longer find it, so look for it and if you find it please let me know.

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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Pineapple Guac Buffalo Burgers

I have been fantasizing about making this burger for a week. Are you like that? Do you eat to live or live to eat? I definitely live to eat but understand the importance of what we eat in terms of living better. Well, this burger will make your life better and it's just in time for Labor Day so you've got the time to cook it up. No excuses, just get to cookin', especially if you want to have a better life. Ok, all your problems won't disappear and your mortgage company isn't going to call and say "Hey, don't worry about that pesky house note this month," but it's a dang good burger and you have worked hard all week, you deserve it!

Side note: I'm working on being a better photographer. Bear with me please.

Pineapple Guac Buffalo Burgers

2lbs. Ground buffalo
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon + 1/4 tsp.
1 tsp. hot smoked paprika
1 tsp. cardamom
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
liberal amount of salt and pepper

4-6 Portabella mushrooms
balsamic vinegar
olive oil
sea salt
1 pineapple
1/4 chili powder
1-2 Tbs. coconut oil

4 avocados
 1 12oz package pre-made pico


 Heat up your grill. Mix 1 1/2 tsp. of the cinnamon, paprika, cardamom, garlic, salt and pepper into the ground meat and make into patties, roughly 4-6. Next, take a damp cloth and wipe both sides of the mushrooms. Take out olive oil and balsamic vinegar and brush on a liberal amount of each on both sides of mushrooms, then sprinkle with sea salt and set aside. Slice pineapple into rings, making sure to core each ring. Melt coconut oil in a small bowl and mix in the remaining cinnamon along with chili powder and brush oil mixture on each ring.
Once grill is heated, place mushrooms and burgers on grill. Grill 8-10 mins* per side. Very carefully place pineapple on grill trying on not to break them and cook 3-4 mins per side. While burgers, mushroom and pineapple are cooking, make the guacamole by spooning out avocados and adding the entire package of pico in a large bowl and mix together with two forks (or your hands) until you have the preferred consistency.

Once everything is grilled to perfection, place mushrooms on plates, put the meat pattie on top, then pineapple ring and then top with a generous amount of gauc**. Grind a little cracked pepper on top for garnish then devour.

* Every grill is different, we used a charcoal grill. Cooking time may vary.
**Sliced avocado would be great on top if you don't like guacamole.

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