Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Tacoless Taco Salad

It seems that the weekend comes and then right as I am getting settled into it, it goes. I can remember when I was younger there seemed to be so much time between Friday afternoon and Sunday night. What happened?  Is it just getting old or is it because now the weekend means additional work we don't get done during the week.  I vote for a Friday-Sunday moratorium on anything but fun.  Who's in?

We had to run down to the lake today to check on a few things. We came back home to do a few pesky chores and suddenly it was time to cook__again. I was in the mood for some intense flavors and a little heat, and the others were hungry for something quick and easy to eat, so they could get back to the TV and basketball playoffs.  When I looked at my menu, I saw I had planned a taco meal, I had everything I needed, (I thought) and could easily make mine paleo.

I found this at a place called Paleo Leap, read it and took what worked for me and kind of ignored the rest. So this uses the bones of the recipe, but, at the same time, it is different.

1 1/2 pound very lean ground beef
1 small onion chopped
1 small can diced chili peppers, drained
2 medium zucchini, peeled and grated (for additional vegetables, but optional)*
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon chipotle powder ( I like food hot so consider this optional)
1/2 teaspoon powdered coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pan begin to brown the ground beef until it loses its color, add the onions and zucchini and cook until they are both wilted.  Add the chili peppers and stir to mix well.  Stir in all the spices and blend well.  Cook on low heat for about 30 minutes.

Toppings:  Use as desired
chopped tomatoes
chopped onions
chopped green onions*
shredded lettuce
chopped green peppers
chopped jalapeno peppers
shredded cheese (non-paleo)
chopped avocado
black beans (non-paleo)
refried beans (non-paleo)
sour cream (non-paleo)
pico de gallo
salsa verde

I am not going to insult you by telling you to crisp your taco shells (non-paleo) in the oven, or to warm your tortillas (non-paleo) before serving.  If you are paleo and want an almost taco shell  check out this cauliflower based option.  I intended to make this for me, but the head of cauliflower I thought was in the crisper turned out to be a head of cabbage, so I had to punt (yes, punting again!) and have mine over leftover tossed salad.  And you know what?  It was fantastic!  This is one of the tastiest meals I have had since beginning the paleo plan.  It had nice spice, decent heat, crunch, coolness and creaminess (thanks to the avocados). Additionally it had a fabulous taste!

I added the zucchini and chili peppers just to add more vegetables to the dish.  I wish I had tried this using the chopping blade of the food processor when my sons were small.  They would have never known vegetables were in it and would have thought I was great for serving tacos more often.  The next time I make them whether I am still eating paleo foods or not, I am going to chop the zucchini very fine and also add grated carrots.  I might as well sneak in as many vegetables as possible, right?

This is something everyone could enjoy, and I recommend it highly.  It was chowing down on good for you not so junky food, and I am not sure it gets any better than that!  Go try it, you might love it too!

Does anyone but me immediately think "Booker T & The MG's when they see the words green onions?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

What Should Have Happened vs. What Did

Last week's possibilities that mostly didn't happen:

1.Buffalo chicken breasts, coleslaw, "cauliflotato" salad
2.Some TexMex Paleo casserole, salad, green beans
3.Turkey, cauliflower dressing, fakey gravy, asparagus, waldorf salad  bird still resides in the freezer
4.turkey leftovers, cranberry relish? sweet potatoes, green bean casserole?
5.steak, tossed salad, baked sweet potato
6.paleo tacos (regular tacos for others) taco fixings, chopped salad
7. stuffed peppers, coleslaw, cooked carrots, pineapple slices

What Really Did Happen

1. Buffalo Chicken Breasts, cauliflotato salad, green beans
2. Out to eat (Forgot book club__ dinner out)
3. *Chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy (takeout) (At the lake painting)
4. *WonTon soup with egg roll (takeout) (At the lake painting till the sun started down and the mosquitos came out)
5.  Grilled steak, tossed salad, baked sweet potato
6. Taco salad with tomato, green onions, avocado, and salsa verde
7. Gyro salad

I actually knocked all the big to do items off my list last week, with the exception of scrubbing the screened porch at the lake.  I got hung up on the other lake project and it took a little longer than I thought it should. I mentioned I was painting there and  wanted to share a peek at the finished project with some before and after photos.

Basement exterior wall before: Ugly yellow green painted cinder block

                                Same ugly cinder block wall painted to look like stone.  I like it much better!

                                                                   Same wall a few steps back

I painted the foundation at the back of the house in addition to a 10 foot retaining wall.  It looks so much better!  Now the rest of the exterior siding is begging me to paint it grayish brown or brownish gray.  It is so over being yellow-green!

Menu possibilities for the week:
1. Coq au vin, tossed salad, cauliflower "mashed potatoes"
2. Steak or pork chop, grilled, tossed salad, baked sweet potato
3. Chicken scampi, mashed sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, waldorf salad
4. Sloppy Joe's, cole slaw, green beans, carrot sticks
5. Hamburger's, cauliflotato salad, some other green veggie,
6. Grilled fish, grilled vegetables (zucchini, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes), tossed salad
7. Spaghetti sauce with zucchini noodles, huge salad

Big Ticket To-Do's:
Sand Grandmother's old porch rocker and re-paint
Repair the seat of the rocker
Cut shrubbery at the lake house
Trim shrubbery at house
plant raised bed garden
clean and re-paint all container pots
clean out guest room closet
touch up paint around house interior
touch up paint at lake place interior
Bake for I.P.
Volunteer at I.P.
Be kind
Take Dad shopping

*The lake place is 13 miles from the nearest food sources.  Since I was painting and Son2 was doing heavy yard work we decided we did not want to cook.  Take out is limited to 3 options, all of which are fast food.  The only paleo option was a green salad and I was much hungrier than just a salad. I got the second best option that was available. The next night we headed home at about dinner time.  All I wanted was a long hot shower and a bowl of soup, so once again I ate non paleo takeout.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Egg Cupcakes

I know when you hear the term cupcakes you most often think of something delicious with a mound of sugary icing (Yes, it's icing not frosting!  I am truly Southern.) and maybe even a few sprinkles. If that is what you think of then quit reading because these are breakfast cupcakes.  Nice savory egg cupcakes.

Once again rather than a recipe, I am just going to tell you the amounts.  Whatever you choose to put in them is totally up to you using whatever is available. 

                                                            Egg Cupcakes

These were made with green peppers, onions, broccoli, and mushrooms for the 3 cups of vegetables.
I had a little leftover smoked sausage (about 1/3 cup chopped) and used it for the meat

Preheat oven to 375 degrees 

8 large eggs
3 cups  diced vegetables (onions, mushrooms, broccoli, green peppers, tomatoes, spinach, kale, zucchini, asparagus__really whatever combination you like)
1/2 cup diced cooked meat (sausage, bacon, ham, beef, chicken, chorizo, pork, fish*__whatever you want)
salt and pepper to taste
whatever other spices or herbs you want to add (like red pepper flakes!)

In a large bowl beat the eggs with a fork until they are a little foamy. Add the diced vegetables and the meat. Stir to blend.  Stir in the seasonings.  Spray the top of a regular size muffin tin with non-stick spray. (Don't worry about spraying the wells.) Place cupcake liners in each well then spray them with a non-stick spray and fill to the top with the egg mixture.  It should be enough to fill all 12 completely full with none remaining.
Pop them into the oven and bake about 15 minutes.  Enjoy piping hot for breakfast.  This make enough for 4 servings.  Who hasn't wanted to eat 3 cupcakes at one sitting?  If you are not sharing them with friends and family simply place the cupcakes on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer until they are nearly frozen.  Remove the cupcake liners and place in a ziploc freezer bag.  When you are ready to eat them remove and let them come to room temp before zapping them in the microwave to warm them. If I think about it far enough ahead of time I take them out the night before and put them (covered) in the refrigerator to thaw overnight. Then I zap them the next morning.  I can't tell you how long they will keep in the freezer because mine have never lasted beyond a month.  It is a quick grab and go breakfast and has a really good taste and a great mouth feel. (Though I personally think some cheese would be a splendid addition in place of some of the vegetables. Blasted paleo and its no dairy stance!)

*Before you come chasing me with pitchforks for including fish as a possibility let me explain. When he was a young boy TheHubs family ate no meat on Fridays and would often eat tuna and eggs.  He swears it was delicious so I am including it for anyone brave enough to try it.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Cauliflotato Salad and Wingless Buffalo Chicken

I don't even know how to begin this post.  I have been feeling guilty because I am publicly creating a menu for the week and straying so far from it, that anyone who reads this can see that doing one is mostly pointless.  I truly do not understand how anyone knows what they want to eat tomorrow, much less for the entire week.  If I were smarter I would just have a rudimentary plan "2 beef meals, 1 pork meal, 3 chicken meals, 1 leftover meal, broccoli, asparagus, salad, green beans, coleslaw, sweet potatoes, yada, yada. yada.  That way I could just leave an idea of what I have available to work with and then I could enjoy the surprise of whatever crossed my mind as I started cooking.

As it is I really do try to look at the plan and I honestly intend to stick with it, but then prep time comes and whatever I had meant to make just doesn't sound appealing.  So I do what I do best and most often__punt. The other day, though, all the planets were in almost perfect alignment and I actually cooked a meal that was very close to what I had planned.  So far this week I am batting 1 for 5 in the "sticking with the menu" success category.  Bummer.

A gozillion years ago I was doing a now defunct diet that was very similar to Weight Watcher's, but they had zero added fats in the diet.  It was very hard to stay on it for many reasons, but one of the worst was this fake mayonnaise that was central to about half of their recipe ideas.  I really don't remember the recipe.  Gelatin and dry milk powder were 2 of its central ingredients and I remember keeping it on hand at all times.  I also remember it was horrid, but I used it when I made their various recipes (For the record, that particular diet did not last long with me or the rest of the country.)

One of the recipes I made regularly during that season of diet Hell was their version of potato salad that used cauliflower in place of the potato.  I remembered it being one of the more tolerable foods they had, and since I am doing paleo right now and make paleo acceptable mayo weekly, I thought why not try and recreate it. (Plus I had cauliflower and a lot of mayo to either use or toss.  This homemade stuff has a pretty short shelf life.)

My version of the forgotten diet's cauliflower potato salad which I renamed Cauliflotato Salad because I like the way it made it look like an official recipe. (It's not)

I small head cauliflower, steamed tender, drained, blotted and cut into small pieces
3 tablespoons  mayo (add more or less to your  taste)
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
2 teaspoons dill relish (use sweet relish or chopped pickles if you'd rather)
3 ribs of celery, chopped
2 slices sweet onion, minced
1 boiled egg, chopped very fine
salt and pepper to taste

After steaming and draining the cauliflower blot it with a clean kitchen towel to get it as dry as possible. Cut it into small pieces and set aside.  In a small bowl mix the mayo, mustard and dill relish.  Set it aside.  Put the celery, onion, and egg in a large bowl and mix well.  Add the mayo mixture and stir well. Add the salt and pepper. (I tend to under salt because I do not like a lot of it, so I used maybe 1/8 teaspoon) After everything is well mixed add the cauliflower and toss just enough to coat the bits with the mayo mixture.  Cover and refrigerate until it is cold.  Serve chilled.

I served this to both paleo and non-paleo folks and believe it or not everyone really did like it.  I can't even tell you who liked it more.  This is going to be a mainstay this summer for meals at the lake.  It can be made ahead of time, and should transport easily.  If you like potato salad this is a delicious alternative.  I believe it would adapt to almost any favorite recipe for potato salad.  I may even try it with my old standby hot potato salad recipe just to see how it works for that.  I think this is an equal to recipe rather than an almost as good as recipe.  Win!

As an aside I am sharing the "How To" for the wingless Buffaloish chicken.  (I read this, clicked off of it and moved on. A couple of days later I decided to make it, but by then I had erased my browsing history.  Apologies to whomever it was, I would have liked to link this to you. Also I hope I remembered your seasonings correctly)

Grease the bottom of a baking dish with olive oil. Pour about 1/2 inch of olive oil in a small shallow bowl. Coat the chicken pieces completely with oil and place skin side down in the prepared dish. Sprinkle the chicken with paprika, chili powder, chipotle powder, salt, pepper, thyme, onion powder and garlic powder.  If you are particularly daring sprinkle a little cinnamon on them also.  I did on half of ours and we were not fond of the chicken with the cinnamon.  Pop in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Turn over, sprinkle with the same ingredients. Cook until done (this will depend on the chicken pieces you use)  Spoon a little of the oil from the bottom of the pan over the top of the chicken and let it cook a couple of extra minutes to crisp the skin.

I am giving the chicken an A for ease of prep, and a solid B for taste, but I am giving it a D as a Buffalo substitute.  I will make it the same way next time (no cinnamon for us) but after it is completely done, I will melt some ghee and add a decent amount of Texas Pete's hot sauce to it, then toss the chicken pieces in it just before serving.  I believe that will make it taste/feel a little more like traditional Buffalo chicken.

Go crazy in the kitchen and use a non-traditional ingredient in place of something ordinary and let me know how it works.  I am all for playing with my food!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Paleo Chocolate Fix

When I began this paleo thing a while back, I decided I would make whatever was required to enjoy my food limitations a little better.  For instance, I was Hell bent on finding a decent substitute for traditional BBQ sauce.  I am from the South and BBQ is a fact of life here.  And I did find something that is acceptable.  It is not quite what I would prefer, but it is a decent alternative.  I have learned to eat  baked sweet potatoes and I am even learning that cucumber salted and sprinkled with red pepper flakes slices make a decent snack.  Even so there has been one item I love that I have not been able to replicate__Chocolate!

I found this all over the internet, in fact just about every  Paleo blog has some variation of this, so I am not linking to any of them. There are called everything from truffles to raw brownies, I just call it fake chocolate.  This is not so much a recipe as it is a how-to

1 1/2 cups walnuts
1 cup dried dates (pitted)
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
pinch salt
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
few drops of water, as needed

Turn a blender on low and slowly add the walnuts until they are ground. (You get to decide how fine you want them. I opted for some chunky pieces because I like texture. Remember there is a fine line between ground walnuts  and walnut butter, which is not good)  Add the dates and blend in pulses until they are all pretty finely ground.  Add the vanilla, salt and cocoa powder and whirl until everything is mixed well.  Roll into large marble sized balls, adding drops of water if the mixture feels too dry.  Cover and stick in the refrigerator until they are very cold.  Enjoy when you need a quick chocolate fix.

I think these are ok and the are close to a chocolate candy, not quite there, but close.  My beloved sister and I call this Paleo thing a diet of almosts.  Everything I make tastes and feels almost like the real thing.

Almost is the operative word.  So it continues with this.  It almost tastes like a truffle, but has a drastically different mouth feel.  There is something grainy about the texture of the dates that my tongue is not thrilled about, but this is an on diet way for me to have a little chocolate, so it works for me.  I have found I really do not want more than 1 a day (at most) so I am keeping them stored in the freezer.  If I want it that day, I just need to take it out for about 5 minutes prior to eating it.  I can see
keeping these on hand while I am doing Paleo.  They really do help with the chocolate cravings, but they are not so delicious you are tempted to over indulge.

Next time I make them I am going to roll the finished balls in some ground coconut.  I think that might be pretty tasty, as might rolling them in cocoa powder.

Give them a try, they might do the trick for you.

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Week's Possibilities

What I thought sounded good at the beginning of the week:

1.Something with leftover shredded chicken (no clue what but the chicken is thawed)
2.Pork tenderloin with coleslaw, tomatoes, and riced cauliflower
3.Weird paleo pizza stuffed bell peppers, tossed salad, carrots, and some other vegetable
4.Stir fry chicken with broccoli, carrots and mushrooms
5.Grilled chicken, cole slaw, green beans, grilled fruits
6.Grilled steak, baked sweet potato, sauteed brussels sprouts, tossed salad
7.Paleo Buffalo "wings" coleslaw, fakin potato salad made with cauliflower

And the reason I have no idea why I bother with a list:

1. shredded chicken became a veggie dense chicken salad with a side of broccoli
2. pork tenderloin and salad
3. paleo meatloaf baked potatoes (sweet potato for me) cole slaw, green beans
4 zucchinighetti with meat sauce, (shredded zucchini "noodles") tossed salad
5. steak, huge tossed salad
6 leftover pork tenderloin, sliced vegetables (everything cold straight from the fridge)
7. Something that I don't even remember eating so it must have been a bad and tasteless leftover meal

This week's possibilities that may or may not happen:

1.Buffalo chicken breasts, coleslaw, "cauliflotato" salad
2.Some TexMex Paleo casserole, salad, green beans
3.Turkey, cauliflower dressing, fakey gravy, asparagus, waldorf salad
4.turkey leftovers, cranberry relish? sweet potatoes, green bean casserole?
5.steak, tossed salad, baked sweet potato
6.paleo tacos (regular tacos for others) taco fixings, chopped salad
7. stuffed peppers, coleslaw, cooked carrots, pineapple slices

                                                  Major to-do's this week


paint outside brick wall at lake
scrub deck and screened porch at lake (de pollen, should be the last time)
scrub deck and screened porch at home (ditto)
completely clean upstairs den
finish anything left over from this week

Adding yet another "F" this week.  Finish, Focus and Fine Tune.  It is now time for some of the finishing touches that have been neglected. Ugh, like silver polishing.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Meatloaf, Paleo Variety

The other day I was in the mood for some comfort food and thought how delicious a meatloaf would be.  Meatloaf, mashed potatoes with butter, green beans and apple pie a la mode, what a delicious dream that was.  Of course, it would be a paleo nightmare, since the only cave man approved item on the list would be green beans.  The mashed potatoes were totally out but I could substitute a baked sweet potato, and I could have apple pie a la mode as long as it was minus the crust, sugar, and everything dairy.  Green beans were perfectly acceptable as they were, which only left a major reworking of the traditional meat loaf recipe.  To be honest I had no idea if this would work or not, but figured the taste would be fine.  I am very happy I tried it because it turned out fairly well.

                                   Caveman Meatloaf

2 pounds ground beef
1 onion, chopped
4 carrots minced
1/4 cup chopped red pepper
1 zucchini, shredded
1/2 carton mushrooms chopped finely
2 eggs
1/3 cup ketchup ( I used paleo ketchup but any would do)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon dried parsley
dash red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together well.  Put the meat mixture in a mound in the bottom center of a 9x13 baking pan.  Form the mound into a loaf.  I will be a little under half the width of the pan and will be about 11 inches long.  You want/need a bit of airspace around it just so it will be a bit sturdier when the cooking is done.  Cook uncovered for about 35 minutes and check for doneness.  The top should feel uniformly solid and should not give much (if any) when touched. Remove from the oven and let it rest about 10 minutes before cutting.  Make sure to use a large metal spatula when serving the meatloaf.  Since this has no bread or oatmeal as a binder it is a little delicate and hard to remove. Of the 3 slices plated, I only managed to keep 2 of them intact.

The taste of this was spot on.  The non- paleo people here loved it and said they would like to have this again soon. I might add a tablespoon or so of coconut flour just to see if that helps hold it together a little better. Or maybe not!  Since I know it is fragile I can just take extreme care when plating it.

This was a veggie dense main dish, but I had been a vegetable slacker all day so I served it with cole slaw, green beans, and a white sweet potato.  If you have never had the white sweet potato before I strongly recommend it.  It is a little less sweet, but still has the same lower starch feel that a traditional one has.  It is also much more fibrous than a white potato.  Maybe it was all mental and just the absence of the orange flesh, but I enjoyed it much more than usual.

And what about that apple pie, well I am just going to save that for a non-paleo day and eat the real thing.  Some things ARE worth waiting for!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Blueberry Pie for Breakfast?

I am still  eating like a caveman on a regular basis, but must admit I have really been craving muffins or pie or cake or anything to satisfy an intense need to chew something other than a meat or a vegetable.  I don't mind substituting zucchini "noodles" for pasta, or eating cauliflower "rice" with Asian dishes.  I am ok making my own Worcestershire sauce and ketchup, and understand if it comes in a box or package most likely I can't eat it. I have even found a gozillion dollar loaf of paleo bread at Organic Harvest, that I actually bought and froze to use, meagerly, one slice at a time. I am sorry but Sloppy Joe's on a lettuce leaf just doesn't cut it.  Even though I am doing all those things I still miss an occasional sweet indulgence.

Voila! I found a blueberry pie recipe online and tweaked it into a form I was comfortable eating.  I understand technically I can have maple syrup and honey as sweeteners while doing this, but I also know that sweets are my downfall, so I am keeping those natural sugars out of my diet almost all of the time.

We all know that there is no way this is going to taste just like a pie loaded with sugar and maybe topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, but it is still a pretty delicious alternative.  It has more the mouth feel of a cakey cobbler than a traditional pie, but it was still quite palatable.

.  If you feel the need for this to be sweeter add a tablespoon of maple syrup to both the berries and the egg mixture.

                                               Paleo Blueberry Breakfast Pie

1 cup blueberries (use the sweetest juiciest you can find)
2 eggs
1 1/2 tablespoon coconut flour
3/8 cup full fat coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a small circular oven proof pan/dish  (Remember those old Corningware pans with lids?  That is what I used.) Put the blueberries in the bottom of the pan. In a small bowl beat the eggs well.  Add the coconut milk (I always heat the can slightly in warm water to get the fat melted so it will stir back into the liquid.) Add the coconut flour  and vanilla and stir well.  Pour over the blueberries and bake until the egg mixture is set and the top is brown and puffy. (About 20 minutes)  Serve hot!  This is a single serving and believe me, there is something very satisfying about getting to eat a whole pie with no guilt.

If you want to make this for 2 people, double everything and cook it in a traditional pie pan. It would also serve 4 as a part of the meal.

I am so going to try this again soon (maybe even tomorrow morning).  Though I think it would be equally good with strawberries or blackberries, I just don't know for certain.  Because I care about each of you  and don't want you leaping into the unknown, I am willing to be the guinea pig and have pie for breakfast at least 2 more times really soon.  I am just self sacrificing like that I guess.

Go out on a limb and try something different this week.  You might just find a "keeper". And if not, it's just a meal.

Update:  I tried this using strawberries, almond milk, almond flour and 1 Stevia pack.  It was quite good, but not as good as using the coconut flour and coconut milk.  I was at the lake and didn't have them so I had to punt.  I kept the same proportions for the flours and milks, but I did double everything because I just have one baking dish at the lake.  It worked out well and 3 of us ate it for breakfast.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

I Need Suggestions__Sweet Potato Fail

I have read comments from a couple of you who had assumed that punt days are always successful.  That would be because I haven't posted the things that didn't work, so I decided I would start talking about some of the failures.  I just didn't realize the opportunity would come so quickly. (That night!)

TheHub has been out of town on a retreat, and I did not have to plan a meals around his likes or dislikes.  In fact, I did not have to plan a meal at all.  I could just look through the fridge and pull out odds and ends of whatever was available and have that.  It sounded perfect.  I wrangled up 3 leftover pieces of Conecuh sausage, a piece of a leftover bell pepper and a few slices of onion. 

I also have been cleaning out the freezer to make room for then soon to happen summer harvest. ( I got an email that my favorite U-pick strawberry place opens today, so I did not clean it out one moment too soon)  Cleaning it means also using the food in it as quickly as possible.  At some point I bought a steam and serve bag of sweet potatoes and decided to prepare them to go with the sausage.  Naturally I could not just steam and mash them and leave well enough alone.  No, not me!

After they were mashed, I remembered my dad using leftover regular mashed potatoes to make lovely puffs of potato deliciousness.  He occasionally cooked on the weekends when we were kids and these were one of his specialities. Now, did I call him and ask him how he made them first?  Of course not, I just started mixing and cooking.

                                            Unsuccessful Sweet Potato Pancakes 

          For your frame of reference this plate is a breakfast plate, so the pancakes were pretty small.

1/2  of a 24 ounce frozen steam and serve bag of sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 medium bell pepper, chopped
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon thyme
salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs
coconut oil

Now in theory this is what should have happened.  In a large bowl, stir everything together until it is well blended.  Heat coconut oil in the bottom of a non-stick pan until it is hot.  Drop?Pour? pancake shaped blobs of the sweet potato mixture into the oil.  Flip when brown on the bottom and cook on the other side until well browned.  Serve immediately

In reality these broke apart pretty much as soon as they hit the oil.  I threw out 3 pans of these before I had three that actually held together during the cooking process. I am thinking 3 eggs might have worked better as a binder and I probably should have also added a tablespoon of coconut flour. Not sure and not sure I will never find out, because I thought these were way more trouble than the pay off. 

As for the taste, they were pretty dang delicious, but I was teed off by the time I ate them and did not enjoy it like I would have if I had been successful.  I am really glad I was the only one eating, because after tossing so many, I only had enough for 1 person.

If you have any paleo options that would work fixing these, please let me know.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

It's a Tuesday, Monday Kind of Thing

I have decided I really hate making a weekly to-do list on Mondays, so I am going to have mine on Tuesdays.  It gives me Monday to sort out the kinks left over from the weekend, and also see what need my folks might have for the week without having to think about what I have planned. I truly believe I am better doing this late Monday night when I actually have all the parts of the week in order.  From now on anything you see as a Tuesday list really
happened in the wee hours before I go to sleep Monday.

What I planned and what really happened

Meal 1:  Paleo chicken "fingers", romaine/mandarin orange salad, squash, asparagus
Meal 2:  Paleo stuffed bell peppers, salad, baked sweet potatoes
Meal 3:  Crock pot chicken in spicy mustard sauce, broccoli, waldorf salad
Meal 4:  Grilled chicken, grilled onions, sauteed mushrooms, tomato and cuke salad, green beans
Meal 5:  Steak, sweet potato oven"fries", tossed salad, brussels sprouts
Meal 6:  Gathering the fragments (leftovers) slaw or salad
Meal 7: Eat out

chicken fingers, squash. romain/mandarin salad/ grilled asparagus
smoked sausage with broccoli cauliflower carrots and onions
steak baked potato mixed greens salad
pork chop vegetable medley with steamed apple slices
Dinner out
leftover smoked sausage with sweet potato pancakes
Taco bell!?!?!?!

To be honest TheHub left for a golf/business meeting and will not be home until Wednesday night, so I am just eating whatever I feel like eating, hence the Taco Bell drive through.  I had decided to have a Game of Thrones theme meal Sunday night, but got slammed with a huge case of indifference. Instead I watched GOT while drinking tea.  After it was over there was no point in cooking, much less cooking a theme meal, so I hit the drive through.  Since Taco Bell was the only non hamburger joint still open it won by default.

I am still using "Finish" as my word of the week.  Somethings are completely done, some are still in progress and I have none nothing more than thinking about washing the living room, foyer, and dining room walls.  I am deluding myself by claiming I am going to wait until the pollen is completely through falling before I was them. (Has nothing to do with just not wanting to do it, right?)

In addition to delaying certain chores, I am slightly ADD.  In the middle of one chore I will decide to randomly go clean the freezer, or reorganize the butler's pantry.  I have been paying more attention to this habit and am adding another F word..."Focus".  I hope it will work because my bedroom is completely torn apart in various stages of deep cleaning and it really need to be completed today.

Now I am off to the bedroom to tackle the half done chores, I just hope I don't see anything shiny on the way!

p.s. and Rats!  I forgot to create some menu I will not follow:

Tonight, something with leftover shredded chicken (no clue what but it is thawed so I have to use it)

Pork tenderloin with coleslaw, tomatoes, and riced cauliflower

Weird paleo pizza stuffed bell peppers, tossed salad, carrots, and some other vegetable

Stir fry chicken with broccoli, carrots and mushrooms

Grilled chicken, cole slaw, green beans, grilled fruits

Grilled steak, baked sweet potato, sauteed brussels sprouts, tossed salad

Paleo Buffalo "wings" coleslaw, fakin potato salad made with cauliflower

Monday, April 13, 2015

Avocado Untwists

I don't normally post a breakfast or snack idea, but I have been seeing this all over Pinterest and thought I would give it a try.  It is simply avocado wedges wrapped with bacon and sprinkled with chili powder.  I have no idea where the people who posted pictures of this got their avocados, but it definitely was not Alabama in the spring.  The avocados here were, at best, pear sized, so I used what was available and had to change it a little to fit the smaller wedges. Instead of doing the lovely spiral wrap for each wedge,  I used a half slice of bacon and wrapped it so the ends overlapped on the back side .  I placed them on a cookie sheet with an edge all around (like a smaller jelly roll pan) and baked at 350 until the bacon was crisp. (I forgot the chili powder until right before I was going to eat them.  Sprinkle it before hand.) And that was all there is to it.

The verdict:  These were tasty, but a tad bland.  I think I would like them better with both the chili and additional sprinkled hot sauce or siracha, but I like heat in my food.  If I have intense flavors when I eat I am much more satisfied and less likely to want to eat anything for a longer period of time.  The creamy avocado was a nice contrast to the crunchy bacon, and I have been craving ANYTHING but eggs for breakfast.  I don't even like eggs and eating them daily is driving me nuts.
This was as filling as eating an egg dish but...

...The  downside of having these for breakfast was the lack of vegetable matter.  Since avocado is so high in fat content I could not really count it as a vegetable. So, in addition to bacon avocado wedges, I had a chopped salad on the side.  Not what I wanted! (That is the upside of eating horrid eggs. I can add a ton of vegetables and call it an omelet)
I might make these again, but I will rethink when I eat them.  These might be better as  snacks or hors d'oeuvres than as the main component of a meal.

If you like bacon and avocado give it a try, it might be what you have been looking for and bacon wrapped anything can't be all wrong!

If you are in Birmingham and have not gone to Bottle and Bone to buy their bacon, what are you waiting for?  The flavored bacons are delicious and their plain bacon is out of this world, so go and buy.  Except for the slightly higher price you won't be sorry!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Pork Chop Veggie Medley (Paleo)

The day before yesterday I had pulled some pork chops out of the freezer to thaw for last night's dinner. Because I am not as good labeling my freezer packages, I thawed breakfast pork chops rather than regular chops.  Oops! Of course I had no idea until I was ready to cook. They are much, much thinner than a standard pork chop and require much less cooking time.  Also, because they are so thin, it meant we were not going to have a lot of protein with our meal and I would have to pad it with something other than a salad.  So, my plans for grilling them went flying out the window and, typical for me, I had to punt. Thank goodness I had loaded up on produce this week!

I think I have said before, I like having dense vegetable dishes, for a couple of reasons. First is the clean up issue. I had much rather clean one pan than several, that is just a no brainer. Secondly, if the vegetables and protein cook in the same pan, the vegetables pick up some of the delicious meat/fowl juices and the flavor of both components is magnified. (My exception to the one dish meal is fish, and I love fish cooked without additional ingredients altering its texture and flavor)

                                      Pork Chops and Vegetables with Crisped Bacon

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 pork chops
2 large onions, sliced
1 pound brussels sprouts, halved
4 carrots, peeled and cut into coins
1/2 pound mushrooms, halved
4 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon thyme
1 1/2 cup broth (Use what you have, I had vegetable broth) more if needed
1/4 cup , broth or water
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder* (use cornstarch if not doing paleo)
1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar ( to taste, adjust to what you like)
salt and pepper to taste
4 slices very crisp bacon

In a large pan with a lid, heat the oil than quickly brown the chops. Remove and set aside.  Saute the onions until they are slightly caramelized, then add the brussels sprouts. Lower the heat and cook with the lid on until the sprouts are slightly wilted.  Sprinkle with a little salt and place the browned pork chops on top of the sprouts and onions. Place the carrots celery and mushrooms on top of the chops, and pour the broth over all.  Sprinkle with the thyme, put the lid back on and cook until the chops are done and the carrots are tender.  With a slotted spoon remove the chops and vegetables to a bowl.Put the chops to one side and stir the veggies together into one happy medley.  (Taste for saltiness and add more if needed.)  Sprinkle with fresh ground black pepper.

In a small bowl stir the arrowroot and water/broth until smooth.  If you do not have about a cup of liquid in the pan, add water or additional broth to equal a cup. (Doesn't have to be exact so just eyeball it.) Stir in the balsamic vinegar and the arrowroot mixture.  Cook until it is thickened.  Put a chop on each plate, top with vegetables, spoon the sauce over all and add a slice of crumbled bacon as both garnish and deliciousness.

This was absolutely fantastic.  All the flavors melded and though each retained its own personality each was enhanced by the others. I am especially glad I decided to finish cooking the chops on top of the brussels sprouts and onions. The pork flavor totally infused each of them and only amplified their natural goodness.

I thought I had enough vegetables, so rather than serve a side salad, I lightly steamed crisp apple slices and served that as a side. (Use crisp somewhat tart apples for this). This reminds me of a fall/winter dish and since our temperatures have begun to climb rapidly, I will say goodbye to this dish until next fall. But you can rest assured that this will often be in our food rotation then.

What do you do when your menu plan changes abruptly?

*If you are not doing paleo, I would strongly recommend using cornstarch as a thickener. The arrowroot is a little more viscous than I like, but it's a legal paleo thickener, so I use it (just not very often).

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Needed: Inspiration, Motivation,Perspiration

I am not sure what is wrong with me, but I am sorely lacking the inspiration and inclination to get anything finished.  I started last week with a list and lofty aims to knock every single thing off the list, Now a week plus a day later I am left with the same list.  It seems that last week I fell into this "start 'er but don't get 'er done" vortex. Now I have all of these projects that I started , but very few are completed. Which leaves me with a single word for my
list for the week.


Last weeks menu and what really happened;

Monday: Red curried chicken, riced cauliflower, tossed salad
Tuesday: Grilled chicken, tossed salad, steamed broccoli, fruit compote Out to eat
Wednesday: Spaghetti, tossed salad
Thursday: Braised pork steaks, with carrots, sweet potatoes, onions and mushrooms, coleslaw Chicken and pork stir fry
Friday: Paleo tacos, with assorted fixings, tossed salad  grilled burgers, tossed salad, chips (them)
Saturday: Grilled hamburgers, sweet potato oven fries, tossed salad take out
Sunday: Easter dinner with extended family (everyone brings a dish, no idea yet what they want me to make) Mom decided she wanted to do it all by herself for a mid day meal. Ham, sweet potatoes yadda, yadda.
             Night meal: Pulled smoked pork sandwiches (frozen about a month ago) pickles, slaw.

Suggested menu for the week

Meal 1:  Paleo chicken "fingers", romaine/mandarin orange salad, squash, asparagus
Meal 2:  Paleo stuffed bell peppers, salad, baked sweet potatoes
Meal 3:  Crock pot chicken in spicy mustard sauce, broccoli, waldorf salad
Meal 4:  Grilled chicken, grilled onions, sauteed mushrooms, tomato and cuke salad, green beans
Meal 5:  Steak, sweet potato oven"fries", tossed salad, brussels sprouts
Meal 6:  Gathering the fragments (leftovers) slaw or salad
Meal 7: Eat out

Now, off the computer and on to doing (which is going to be hard because I started a book last night and really do want to finish it today)


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Freezer Clean Out Stir Fry, Paleo Style

This morning I got dressed and ran around doing a few errands before meeting some friends for lunch. Usually when I leave I take something out of the freezer and stick it in a small insulated bag so it will be nearly thawed by the time I get home. Today I forgot to do that.

I had a few other things to do after lunch and wound up getting home a little later than I intended. When I finally came home I did the late afternoon unthinkable, I picked up a book.  Yikes!  Forgot about thawing or planning.

Tonight at about 6 I finally thought about dinner.  Honestly, I did not think about it as much as I heard TheHub ask what was for dinner when he called before he left work. Then I did think and all I thought was "Hmmm, I have no earthly idea what I am going to cook for dinner."  I thought it might be a good idea to run check  the freezer and fridge for whatever I could cook in a hurry.

Since I have been trying to eat from the freezer to clear it out before summer, I have used all of my packages of 2 or 3 chicken breasts, chops and steaks. I only had the multi pound packages left. They were solidly frozen it would have taken a while to get them to thaw, even using the microwave.
But I did find 1 pack with a single boneless chicken breast and a pack with 1 large pork chop so out they came. I put them in the microwave to thaw for just 3 minutes.

Having 2 proteins for dinner just screamed to be cooked as a stir fry. While they were still icy and easier to slice thin, I cut the chicken crossways in 1/4 inch thick slices.  I cut the pork chop in 1/8 inch slices and then looked in the crisper and the laundry room refrigerator to see what I could put with them.

I had a half of a bag of kale left from Wednesday's lunch, onions and garlic, (I always have these on hand) fresh ginger (ditto), a new bag of carrots, and a container of mushrooms that had gotten pushed to the back of the shelf.  I also had about a cup of chicken broth that needed to be used immediately.

Before I did another thing I put on a pot of rice to cook.  Rice takes about 22 minutes no matter what, and I figured by the time I chopped and cooked, the stir fry and rice should be ready at about the same time.

                                                              Freezer Clean Out Stir Fry

1 tablespoon oil
1 chicken breast sliced thin
1 pork chop sliced very thin

1 1/2 tablespoon oil
1 onion sliced
4 medium carrots cut in coins
1 inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
3 cloves garlic minced
1 small package of mushrooms, quartered
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 bag also
1 tablespoon coconut aminos or soy sauce*
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder or 2 teaspoons corn starch**

In a large pan heat the oil until it is almost smoking.  Add the pork and chicken slices and stir like a mad man. The meat/chicken will be cooked through in about 2 or 3 minutes, so it really is important to keep stirring so it will not stick or burn.  Remove to a plate and add the remaining oil to the same hot skillet.  Immediately add the onions and carrots stirring until both are wilted but not brown. Add the ginger and cook it for an additional minute, then add the garlic.  As soon as the garlic wilts ( about 45 seconds) add the mushrooms and broth. Add the chicken and pork back to the pan and stir to combine well.  Place the kale on top of the veggie mix and put a lid on the pan. (I had to let  1/2 of the kale cook down and then I added the other half because it would not all fit uncooked.) When the kale is wilted and cooked through, stir in the coconut aminos or soy sauce.  Mix the arrowroot with the water to make a paste and stir it into the pan to thicken the broth. (Make sure you have enough liquid left in your pan before doing this. If you don't see about 1/2 inch of liquid at the bottom of the pan add a bit of water).  Stir well to make sure everything is coated.  Serve over a bed of rice, unless you are doing the paleo thing.  If you are doing paleo serve over cauliflower rice or spaghetti squash.

This was a really tasty last minute meal.  It is much like a traditional asian stir fry, but I am not sure kale would be a traditional ingredient.  You could easily make this using just about any vegetable you had rattling around your crisper.  It is an easy way to use up whatever has seen better days ( like the well hidden mushrooms)  I guess, I knew this was going to be a keeper when Son2 slipped a bite while taking the plates to the table. I liked it because in addition to tasting really good, it was a vegetable dense meal and I didn't have to eat a salad to get enough vegetables with my meal. And for those of us what are eating salad every single meal that is a win. (And yes, I am even eating salad at breakfast.)

What do you cook when you have nothing planned or prepared?

* Soy is not a paleo food so I use the coconut aminos
**Neither is corn starch but it is a much better thickening agent.