Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Table for One

While TheHub was on extended business travel I went to Sprouts and bought a ton of salad fixings and other types of produce. I had mentally decided to eat salads and whatever I had on hand to grill as an entree, nothing exciting but certainly sustenance.  Life intervened and a little (OK a lot of) chaos ensued.  At the end of the day when I would finally head home, I'd realize I had consumed tons of coffee and nothing else, so I'd stop by Chipolte or Purple Onion where I can always find a paleo salad meal to bring home and eat. (Doesn't everyone traditionally eat their meal for the day at ten or eleven p.m.?)

One morning before I left the house I was looking through the fridge and realized I had to do something with all the lovely produce I had bought but had not even touched. Cooking green beans, broccoli and asparagus was easy to do, but some of the salad items required some serious restructuring.  I chopped some of them up added some olive oil and red wine vinegar to marinate for a bit.  A bit turned into the next day (ahh life!) so I had some super marinated veggies and a well thawed chicken breast.  Dinner for one was about to begin finally.

5 campari tomatoes cut in half (easy substitute: about 12 cherry tomatoes)
2 scallions sliced
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped yellow onion
1 very small clove garlic or 1/2 regular size clove, finely minced
1/2 small yellow pepper (for color only, green or red works the same for flavor), diced
10 or so fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste (I used one shake from the salt shaker and a good twist of the pepper mill)

Mix together in a small bowl with a lid.  Cover and let sit for at least 2 hours. (Or longer covered in the refrigerator)

1 small chicken breast cut in pieces
1 small bunch kale chopped (about 5 small leaves) de-veined and chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons water
1 small clove garlic or the other half of the regular sized clove
1 teaspoon olive oil (I used a non-stick ceramic pan, it might take more oil for a non-stick skillet)

raw zucchini "noodles"

Heat oil in the skillet until it is fairly hot, add the chicken and cook stirring almost constantly until no trace of pink shows on the chicken.  Remove the chicken from the pan, add the kale and garlic and wilt.  Turn the heat down and add the water. Place the chicken pieces on top of the kale, cover the pan and cook until the kale is soft and the chicken is cooked through.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove the chicken and kale with a slotted spoon and place it on a bed of raw zucchini noodles or cooked spaghetti.  Top immediately with the tomato mixture.  I confess I used a slotted spoon to arrange the tomatoes on top of the chicken for the picture, but poured all the delicious juice over it right before I ate.

This was so good and such an easy meal for one.  I probably had enough of the topping for 2 but I was very glad TheHub was out of town so I didn't have to share one tiny bite of it.  For 2 servings just double the chicken and kale.  Add another couple of very small tomatoes and a couple of extra basil leaves and it should make a pretty tasty meal for 2.

As much as I loved this with the chicken and kale, I have made the tomato topping twice since and served it over sprouts and also alone over zucchini shreds.  If I had to tell you in one word what it tastes like I would have to say it tastes like summer.  This is going to become one of my go-to hot night meals.

So go dive into summer with some delicious marinated tomatoes over whatever sounds best to you!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Old Fashioned Oatmeal Cookies

The other day while I was making the 2nd best cookies ever I decided since all my baking ingredients were on the counter anyway I might as well try a new to me recipe I had bookmarked.  After all the mixer was out, the oven was hot and I had already messed up the kitchen. I could see no reason to wait, other than the fact that 2 freshly baked recipes of cookies were way more than we needed. Luckily I have never been bound by logic, so here is a look at cookie recipe #2.

These were touted as delicious oatmeal cookies like your grandmother used to make.  I don't recall either of my grandmothers ever making cookies, so to me these would have to be more like cookies someone else's granny made. (Both of my grandmothers were cake and pie ladies not cookie gals.) The recipe looked intriguing so I followed it almost as it was written.  I  am including the link to Cooking Classy if you care to see the original, but am posting it here as I made it.

                                              Old Fashioned Iced Oatmeal Cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1 1/2 cup quick oats
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (I am not a nutmeg fan, the original recipe calls for 1/2 tsp)
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar (using some dark brown sugar increases the molasses taste)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Measure the quick oats and set aside.  Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.  With a mixer beat the butter until it is fluffy.  Add the sugars and beat until it is a uniform light color. Add the eggs and beat until it is very fluffy than add the vanilla and mix well.  Turn the mixer to low and slowly add the dry ingredients.  When they are blended and show no sign of raw flour, turn the mixer up and beat for about 1 minute.  Add the oatmeal and blend until it is thoroughly combined.

Line baking sheets with parchment (Oh who am I kidding? I lined one pan with parchment and baked the remaining cookies on the same sheet of paper). Drop by tablespoons onto the parchment leaving a couple of inches between each cookie.  Bake 11-13 minutes for crisp cookies. (my oven took the entire 13 minutes) Cool for 1 minute then remove cookies from the pan to a rack to cool completely.  When all the cookies are baked and nicely cooled mix 1 cup of confectioners sugar with 1 tablespoon of milk and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.  Using a spoon swirl the frosting over the tops of the cookies while they are still on the rack.  Let them dry and enjoy.

I only iced 1/2 of the cookies because we do not eat iced cookies often.  The iced ones were very good.  It was a crisp cookie with hardened glaze on top.  I may have used a little too much glaze on each cookie, because I thought they were a little too sweet.  As a family we preferred the plain ones to the glazed ones, but either way they were delicious cookies.  These were good enough and simple enough to become everyday cookies for someone who needs to keep the cookie jar filled.  My granddaughter will be here in August and I plan on having a huge supply of them.  Maybe she can think of me as a grandmother who always has cookies.

Because I had just made the Levain knock off cookies the same day, we had cookies coming out of our ears.   I am a gooby person who keeps bakery bags on hand just in case I need to take something to another person. These cookies were easy to bag and get rid of give to someone who has helped me recently.* They would probably ship well also, since there is nothing that would melt during shipping.  I have a son and his family in the N.W.  I think I will make a batch and send it to them just to test how easily they do or do not ship.

So be a good grandmother (or practice being a grand something) and go bake cookies!

* And wouldn't you know, just as soon as I had given the cookies away TheHub came in the kitchen looking for them!

Monday, May 18, 2015

This week

This last week turned out to be a fairly difficult week.  Sometimes life turns topsy turvy and this is one of those times, so nothing on my to-do list got done and most likely it will not get done this week either. But, there are people who are so much more important than chores, and right now my time and heart are being spent with them.

1. Pasta with alfredo sauce
2. Lamb chops, rice (them) broccoli, tossed salad
3. Chicken with stir fried vegetables, cauliflower rice, pineapple slices
4. Hamburgers, cole slaw, sweet potato "fries"
5. Grilled chicken, grilled vegetables, tossed salad, grilled pineapple
6. Grilled fish, baked potato (them) baked sweet potato (me) cucumber, tomato and onion salad, grilled squash
7. Tacos (them)  taco salad(me)

Actual food
Bow tie pasta with alfredo sauce
Hamburger helper and coleslaw (found a box in the back of the pantry_just getting rid of it)
Variation of sweet and sour chicken with onions, bell pepper and pineapple over rice
grilled chicken, tomatoes, asparagus, tossed salad
grilled hamburger patty,grilled squash, tossed salad
hamburger (desperation fast food meal)
grilled pork tenderloin, tossed salad, watermelon

Upcoming week
This week TheHub is out of town and I will be spending massive amounts of time with the parents, so the food plan is virtually nonexistent. I hope to stay on a paleo  plan but it will be just catch as catch can.
salad, chicken
salad, something meaty
salad, something
salad, something
chicken salad
huge tossed salad
salad something grilled

Weekly to-do list
Help the folks however it is needed
Clean upstairs 
Help Mom with her house clean-up
Clean the pool (again) so laps can begin

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

2nd Best Cookies Ever

While we were in New York we had cookies from Levain Bakery.  It was the most delicious cookie I have ever put in my mouth and I knew I would have to try and mimic that deliciousness once I was home.  Since last Thursday I have been off the paleo diet and had already decided to give myself one full week  before hopping back on the caveman plan.  Well that week is up after today so I decided what better send off than knock off Levain cookies.

I spent a couple of hours searching the internet for knock off recipes and then read all the comments on each to see what had and had not worked.  I took what I guessed was the best of each recipe including several people's trial and error suggestions and mixed it up last night.  You have to portion the dough and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight, so we had no cookies until tonight.  Oh my, was it ever worth the wait.

Almost Levain Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 sticks cold butter cut in chunks
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
3 1/4 plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 tablespoon corn starch
3/4 teaspoon salt (use plain old salt from the blue box)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups chocolate chips (use the best you can afford preferably Guittard)
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Put the sugars in a mixing bowl.  Using the beaters of a hand mixer or paddle of a stand mixer combine the sugars well.  Add the butter and beat slowly at first increasing the speed as the butter and sugar incorporates.  You want a light fluffy butter/sugar mix.  Turn the speed down and beat in the eggs, one at a time until they are well blended.
In a small bowl add the flour, cornstarch, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  Stir with a fork to combine well.
Slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and start the mixer on a very slow speed. Increase it only after the flour mix is all incorporated and only beat long enough to have a smooth dough with no flour visible.
With a wooden spoon, stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts to evenly incorporate them throughout the dough.
Roll the dough into balls that are about 4 ounces each. (I actually weighed the first one to see what 4 ounces of cookie dough looked like and then I eyeballed the rest) You should get 12-13 dough balls out of this recipe. I cut strips of parchment paper and wrapped it around each ball before putting them in a ziploc bag then into the refrigerator.  They stayed there for about 13 hours before I baked them.

My oven is pretty true to temp and I have a baked goods convection setting.  I set it for a standard 350 degree setting to preheat.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (important) and place the cold dough on it. (I could only bake 5 cookies* at a time on my largest cookie sheet) Bake for about 17 minutes, remove from the parchment and place on a rack to cool until warm enough to eat without burning your mouth on the melted chocolate. (5 or so minutes)  The cookies are crispy on the outside and ooey gooey chocolate deliciousness on the inside.  I suggest a large glass of milk or cup of hot coffee on the side.  One cookie is more than enough for any human, except for TheHub who not only ate 2 of them, but then argued with me when I told him he had just eaten at least 8 ounces of cookie dough. ( How would I even know that, all I did was bake them, right?)

For an honest comparison I would have to have one of the original cookies to do a taste/texture test. Since I don't have access to one I am having to rely on my memory of that cookie and to be honest these are pretty darn close.  I used Nestle's chocolate chips and there was a difference in the taste and texture of the chocolate.  I don't know if they use Guittard or not but those are the best chocolate chips I have ever used and I think they would be much better.  The texture of the cookie itself was pretty much spot on. It had a nice crisp outer coating and a very tender gooey cookie interior.

I can see making these regularly, because it is the only time I have ever eaten just one cookie (OK so the cookie is only slightly smaller than a standard hamburger bun, I still count it as eating just 1!)

If you feel like indulging try this.  You just might like love it.  Next up__Levain Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies!  Unfortunately there will not be another non-paleo week until sometime in mid to late June. Singing like Carley Simon

Monday, May 11, 2015

And Now the Week is Done

We left for New York early Thursday morning, so early that we could enjoy the sunrise from our plane seats.  It is worth getting up crazy early since it was a direct flight, which is an oddity from our airport. Most flights from here seem to lead to connections in either Atlanta or Charlotte.  We arrived, yawning, at LGA before 10:15.

As an added bonus when we got to the hotel, our room was ready about 3 hours before check-in.  A special thanks to The Empire.  We were not expecting the early room! That was a true gift and we were able to unpack, iron our wrinkled duds, and have a cup of coffee before Son3 was out of class and could meet us for lunch.

This trip was specifically a jazz excursion and we really did not venture below the park, but stayed mainly in the Upper West Side. Other than scoring some street fair items there was no shopping and other than hearing some very good jazz no additional entertainment.

Where we ate: (and none of this was paleo)
The Smith, 63rd and Broadway, lunch  American, good food, alfresco dining but priced high
Dizzy's, Columbus Circle, dinner, Cover charge plus food/drink minimum, food was so/so but the experience was fantastic and worth it. Excellent non obtrusive service also.
Guantanamera, 55th and 8th, lunch, affordable, Cuban food, absolutely delicious! Will go back often!
Cafe Fiorello, 63rd and Broadway, pricey Italian, good food, but won't go back, not friendly
P.J. Clarke's, 63rd and Columbus, little on the high side. good food, nice atmosphere, great late night place
Ed's Chowder House 63rd Street, pricey, breakfast, very good food, HUGE portions
Amber, 69th and Broadway, reasonable, Asian/Thai, really tasty, will return!
Levain Bakery 74th Street, The Best Cookies in the World!

So obviously I did not do a lot of cooking at all last week and everything I did was just using what was on hand.

This week it is back to the regular grind, Boo!

Menu possibilities for the week:

1. Pasta with alfredo sauce
2. Lamb chops, rice (them) broccoli, tossed salad
3. Chicken with stir fried vegetables, cauliflower rice, pineapple slices
4. Hamburgers, cole slaw, sweet potato "fries"
5. Grilled chicken, grilled vegetables, tossed salad, grilled pineapple
6. Grilled fish, baked potato (them) baked sweet potato (me) cucumber, tomato and onion salad, grilled squash
7. Tacos (them)  taco salad(me)

To-Do's for the week:
volunteer time
another paint job at the lake
stain bench
create shelving solutions in lake closet
clean music room completely
finish refashioning all clothing items in the pile
help parents

Sunday, May 10, 2015

sloppy joes with a paleo twist

The only thing keeping me sane on this paleo food plan is to mix up what I am eating and to try and keep it as close to "normal" food as possible.  That requires a lot of recipe juggling, trials  and errors. Lots of errors! But honestly I don't share many of the errors here.  After all who wants to read a blog about food and have the concluding sentence say "Oh BTW don't eat this, it's really bad"?  But do trust me when I tell you everything is NOT successful or tasty.  The downside of experimentation is if it tastes bad we still have to eat it for dinner.  I simply make a promise not to repeat that particular mistake again. Oh, but there are so many error possibilities I haven't made yet.  Now who wants to come eat here?

Friday we were headed to the lake for a work weekend.  I have learned it is best if I pack whatever we are having for dinner that night already prepared. For what seems like forever I have been taking a dense spaghetti meat sauce. All I have to do is warm it and cook a little pasta.  Throw in a tossed salad and we call it done.  But now the weather is much warmer and the days much longer  and brighter and spaghetti just seemed like a heavy meal.

Enter the Sloppy Joe experiment.  I think Sloppy Joe's were part of the first complete meal I ever cooked when I was a kid and I don't so much follow a recipe as I do just throw things in a pan and adjust by the taste method.  Since I knew I would be sharing this, I actually measured the amounts of everything I used.

2 lbs, lean ground beef
1 onion finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 medium small zucchini, grated (about 2 cups)
1 can tomato paste
1/2 cup ketchup (paleo ketchup recipe here)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (paleo recipe here)
1  1/2  tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
1 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon dried parsley
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pan brown the ground beef until almost done.  Add the onion and wilt, add the garlic and let it wilt.  Drain the fat from the pan and add the zucchini.  Cook until the zucchini is wilted.  Put everything in the pan in a slow cooker. Add the tomato paste, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce. mustards, salt and pepper. Stir it well. Cook on low for 4-5 hours.  Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. (I stirred in a little additional Worcestershire sauce and yellow mustard. A teaspoon of each) Serve over buns, toast or as a paleo thing on top of cole slaw.

Add pickles and enjoy.  This was a fun, easy and easy to transport dinner.  Everyone liked it and asked to add it to our rotation.  I can see that this will be an easy Friday night lake dinner.  Since I had also pre-made the coleslaw I had dinner on the table as fast as I could heat the Sloppy Joe's and toast buns (for them).

This came together so quickly and clean up was a minimum so there was still time after dinner for a little fishing at dusk. And that is what my family calls a winning combination.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Chicken Scampi (Yep, Another Paleo Thing)

I have been looking through my traditional methods of preparing foods and remaking them to fit a paleo food plan.  For the most part it is not difficult, but I will be honest and say the results vary. Some dishes do not transition as well as others.  This is one that did, but I also learned a few things I will change next time.

Normally when I make scampi, I use butter.  There seems to be differing opinions on whether butter is paleo or not, and since I can't find a definitive answer I am not using it.  Because of that, the sauce is not as rich or velvety as it normally would be, so I had to amp up some of the ingredients a bit for added flavors.

                                          Chicken Scampi with a Twist of Paleo

2 tablespoons ghee*
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 chicken tenderloins or 3 boneless skinless breasts (cut these in pieces and it will look nicer)
1 large onion chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 heaping teaspoon Italian seasonings (fresh minced basil, oregano and rosemary if available)
salt and pepper to taste (I never post amounts for main dishes because I don't like much salt)
1/4 cup chicken broth or vegetable broth
juice of 2 small lemons
2 tablespoons almond milk** (paleo only)

Heat the ghee and oil and quickly brown the chicken . (I got lazy and did not cut mine into bite sized pieces.  It is a much more appealing dish with smaller bits)  Remove the chicken from the pan and turn the heat down to a medium low.  Cook the onions until they are wilted.  Turn the heat down a little lower and cook them until they are a caramel color. (It keeps the finished dish from looking anemic).  Turn the heat back to mid high and add the garlic, cooking just long enough to wilt it, but not long enough for a color change.  Toss on all the seasonings, the broth and the lemon juice.  Add the chicken back to the pan and cook until the chicken is cooked through. (Should take about 5-7 minutes if the pieces are smaller) Stir often and add more liquid if necessary.  If using no butter, add a couple of tablespoons of almond milk and let it cook until it is reduced by about half.  Serve hot over pasta or in the paleo world over spiral cut zucchini. (Which tastes absolutely nothing like pasta, but it does make a rather nice "bed" for the chicken to sit on)  Spoon any pan liquids over the chicken and enjoy.

This tastes pretty close to a standard chicken scampi dish, but it has a different mouth feel. The sauce sticking to the chicken pieces is usually smoother and creamier.  I added the almond milk to try and copy the creaminess and it fell short.  Maybe if I had used coconut oil rather than ghee it might have felt more like butter, but then I would have had that cloying coconut sweetness that I don't like in savory foods.  6 of one half a dozen of the other, I guess.  So pick your battles or use butter and say to heck with it!

* If you use butter instead of ghee use 3 tablespoons plus the additional 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
** If you are not doing paleo don't add the almond milk.  It will add nothing, plus you're already getting the flavor and consistency from the butter.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Pity Party, Not A Well Done Day

You know those days that start out bad and just don't get better?  Not worse, just not better?  This is one of those days.

 This morning I was up early to drop TheHub off at his office. (For those of you who go to bed at a regular time 5:15 might be normal.  I go to sleep between 2-3 am and anything before 7 seems just unholy.) He was leaving mid-morning for a business trip, then flying from Georgia to meet me in NYC, and didn't want to leave his car in the office parking lot for so many days.  Fair enough, and I understand his reasoning. Since he was packing for 2 different places, requiring different types of clothes, he was a little distracted and we left for his office at 7 rather than 6:30 as planned.  Irritating to me because it put me in the middle of rush hour in the worst part of town for traffic. (A 40 minute round trip became 1:15 minutes)

It was still not a huge issue.  Even with the longer commute, I still had time to get to class by 9:30. All was fine until I was 1 mile from my exit.  The traffic stalled, I stalled, the guy behind me didn't and plowed into my rear.  Crap!  After waiting on the side of the road for the police and official report for another 1 hour and 10 minutes I was getting a little testy.  (If you ever hear the universe telling you to do something, no matter how subtle the hint is, LISTEN!  Normally I would have thrown on whatever I was wearing last night and looked like death warmed over to drive TheHub. This morning I actually had my hair somewhat done, no residual eye makeup, and was wearing coordinated clothes. It made standing on the shoulder of the interstate slightly less assaulting to the gozillion cars that passed.)

No one was injured and both cars were drivable but class was a moot point. Still not a major problem. Since I am going to NYC I was debating skipping it anyway.

About the time I got in the house and settled down for a cup of coffee, Son3 called to tell me the tickets he thought were comped would not actually be, so I needed to call the venue and reserve seats. Now remember I am going early and TheHub will not be there until Friday, and he planned to only see the Saturday show.  Which is sold out.  I was able to get tickets for me Thursday, but TheHub is SOL.  There is a chance he/we can get standby tickets if we get to the venue 1 1/2 hours before showtime. If not, we will have spent a small fortune only to say hello to Son3, eat out a few times and sleep in a hotel for a few nights.

Since then, nearly everything I have touched has messed up some how or another. The garbage bag burst and stuff went everywhere, I found a liquified errant zucchini in the crisper, missed the recycling pick-up (waiting for policeman), got stung by a flying critter and stumped my toe.   I am hoping that this is the odd day for the week and it will end when I go to sleep.

Instead of leaving tonight I'm glad I am flying dark o'thirty in the morning.

p.s I should have told everyone about Sonya Ann's giveaway but forgot to.  It is over, but pop in at her place here.  She has a wonderful way of looking at the world!  Also go to Amazon and pick up her book.  I have just started reading it and am really enjoying it.

Monday, May 4, 2015

And Another Week Bites The Dust

Menu possibilities I was supposed to cook last 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

And what really happened in the kitchen:

1. Coq Au Vin cauliflower mashed potatoes, tossed salad
2. Hamburger patty with onions, savory mashed sweet potatoes, green beans, waldorf salad
3. Sloppy Joe's  cole slaw pineapple slices
4. Chicken scampi, zucchini noodles, roasted brussels sprouts
5. Grilled pork chops,broccoli, tossed salad, baked sweet potato
6. Pizza, salad (non-paleo day at the lake and I fell off the wagon with frozen pizza?)
7. Hamburger (another non-paleo day at the lake and I ate the whole bun...oops!)

                                                              To do's for the week:

1. Make sure all laundry is done
2. Pack
3. Go to New York
4. Visit Son3
5. Eat paleo as much as possible*
6. See a play
7. Go to Dizzy's
8. Come home, do laundry, do more laundry
9. Get upstairs spruced up for summer guests

Menu Ideas for the week:
We are not leaving until mid-week so I should actually cook something a couple of days. I imagine the week will look something like this:

1. leftovers with salad
2. leftovers with fruit salad
3. out to eat
4. out to eat
5. out to eat
6. out to eat
7. out to eat

*Cookies from Levain Bakery are calling my name, and if they call loud enough it would be rude of me to ignore them.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Coq Au Vin, Paleo Style

That day was one of those days that I eased into, and after reading way too long it was well into the morning. Since I had done very little of my daily routine anyway, I decided to plan dinner and run to the store specifically for extra chicken breasts. ( $1.49 a pound is fantastic here and the sale ended the next day.) I had mushrooms, a bottle of opened burgandy and enough time so I decided Coq Au Vin would be a good way to use what I had on hand. I only needed the chicken and a head of cauliflower for some fakey potatoes and all would be good.

After shopping I went down to the parents house to visit with them for a while.  Suddenly the afternoon was gone and I had not begun cooking. I am so glad TheHub worked late and then had a few errands, because this really does need a little time to cook.

I used my very standard Coq Au Vin recipe and changed it very little so it would be paleo.

                                                                Coq Au Vin

2 slices bacon, cooked crisp, reserve pan drippings (optional)
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
4 chicken breasts, bone in skin removed (optional)
1 cup coarsely chopped onions or 1 lb pearl onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 whole carrots, peeled with tops removed
2 cups mushrooms, whole (or if they're like mine and right at the verge of dying, chunked)
1 cup chopped fresh parsley or 1/4 cup dried parsley)
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons thyme (or a nice hunk of fresh thyme)
1 cup burgundy
1 cup chicken stock (I had none so I used veggie stock)
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder*

For the sake of the recipe I am going to write this using the bacon (I didn't because I forgot about it)

In a large pan cook the bacon until crisp.  Remove from the pan leaving all the drippings.  Add the olive oil to the pan and heat until hot.  Quickly sear the chicken on both sides until very light brown on the skin side.  Remove form the pan and add the onions, cook until wilted. Without removing the onions, toss the garlic in the pan and give it a couple of quick stirs before adding the carrots and mushrooms.  Add the burgundy and broth, then the seasonings and swirl it around to combine the vegetables and liquids. Place the chicken pieces on top of everything, put a lid on the pan and cook it on a mid low heat for about 1 hour.  Check occasionally and add more broth or wine as needed.  When the chicken is well done, remove it and the vegetables from the pan.  Make a slurry of 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder and 3 tablespoons water.  Pour about 1/2 of the slurry in the broth left in the pan and cook until it thickens.  If it does not thicken to your liking in about 1 1/2 minutes, add a little more of the arrowroot slurry and continue to cook.  Serve the chicken with the vegetables to the side.   (If you used the bacon, crumble it and sprinkle it over the vegetables) Pour a little of the sauce over the chicken  (the vegetables also if you like) and also over rice, mashed potatoes, or fake mashed potatoes.

This makes a substantial and quite tasty dinner.  It is so filling and flavorful, for a few minutes you forget you are doing paleo.  It is so similar in taste and texture to my non-paleo method that no one noticed any difference other than my usual rice as a side was missing and in it's place was fake potatoes.  I consider this extreme success.  Since I am doing paleo for the long haul (with the exception of a few non-paleo days) this will be in our rotation for sure.  I only wish I had added a few brussels sprouts to the pan when simmering!

If you feel like getting your French or even getting your freak on, this is a delicious way to do it.  So throw on that beret or French maid outfit and have a little French fun mid-week!

* If you are not doing paleo I beg you to use cornstarch rather than arrowroot.  While arrowroot is paleo acceptable, it has a funny consistency that is almost slimy.  Cornstarch produces a smoother traditional gravy.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Gathering the Fragments: Broccoli for Breakfast

You know those mornings when you get busy doing odds and ends and all of a sudden it is nearly 11 and you realized you've had nothing but coffee?  No wonder I was hungry, but at 11 who wants to eat breakfast food.  Fortunately I had been cleaning the fridge and knew I had about a cup of  twice re-warmed broccoli that had to be eaten within the day. (Since I have doing the paleo thing  and am buying so much fresh produce, I am acutely aware of how much it costs. I don't want to waste even a bite.) So my only issue was how to process the very over cooked green stuff so it would have some flavor and minimize the mush factor.

I had recently gone to a ladies luncheon type thing and they served a raw broccoli and grape salad. I don't remember exactly what was in it, but I thought it might be worth trying to make it, especially since I also had about a cup of red seedless grapes and green onions in the refrigerator.  In addition to the produce, I had 2 strips of bacon I had cooked late last week that could be heated and crisped.

                                             Broccoli, Grape and Bacon Salad

Not a recipe, but a method:

I started by draining the broccoli in a large sieve. I pressed lightly on it with the back of a wooden spoon.  Some liquid came out, but it was so overcooked that any further pressing would have left me with broccoli baby food. (Not appealing!)

I put the somewhat drained broccoli in a small bowl with the  grapes, and sliced onions and poured about a teaspoon and a half of red wine vinegar over it all. Then I added about a teaspoon of mayonnaise and a teaspoon of whole grain mustard, salt and pepper and the chopped very crisp bacon.  Before I stirred it together I saw a bag of pecan halves and grabbed 4 or 5, broke them in pieces and tossed them in the bowl.  A very quick stir was all it took to coat every thing with the mayo/vinegar.  It was ready to eat, but I was taking a picture of it so I put it in a clean bowl and threw 5 more grapes on the top. (Truth be told, I took 5 grapes out of the salad and rinsed them off, patted them dry, and stuck them on the top just for the picture.  I know, I am lame and forgot to hold any out for a garnish.)

This was good, but not as good as I remember the one I ate before.  I am sure mushy cooked broccoli paled in comparison to the fresh, finely chopped raw broccoli.  But I will admit it was still a pretty good way to use and eat that broccoli.  If I have about the same amount left over again I will do the exact same thing and it will be a pretty tasty, filling meal plus it has a nice serving of vegetables.  The bacon was delicious (that would be because it's BACON!) but I think as a side salad it would be really good without it.

I will make this intentionally using fresh broccoli the next time it is on sale. I thought about snagging some when I went to the grocery store today but it was considerably higher than my usual price point so I didn't get any.  If you are tired of salad greens and want something a little different this might be the thing to try.

Try something unexpected with your leftovers; it might just be the beginning of a whole new way to look at the refrigerator.