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Hiatus

I have dozens of posts, drafted and photographed (a 4 way mash-up competition to replace mashed potatoes! Awesome pub burger with portabella mushroom caps! Shepherd’s Pie! Bangers and Mash!) but alas, I need to set down the blog until March because I’m studying for the Oregon bar exam. I’d much rather be blogging! Catch you on the other side, my friends :) And wish me luck!

In the meanwhile, I saw this post on studying for a state bar exam and it pretty much sums up the experience haha, go check it out.

Sweet Potato Garlic Pub Fries

Baby, it’s cold outside! Winter time means comport food time. Time to cozy up to a fire at your local pub (or at home) with a pint and some warm hearty food. You can recreate your favorite pub food recipes with a clean, whole food, Paleo twist. Just a few easy substitutions, a bit of creativity, and . . . Bob’s your uncle. We are starting our Paleo Pub Crawl series with these yummy garlic fries, made with sweet potatoes, which are more nutritious and easier on your blood sugar than regular potatoes. This is an EXCELLENT accompaniment to our Paleo Pub Burger, coming up next.

Ingredients:

2 large sweet potatoes, cut into large wedges
2 tablespoons bacon fat or coconut oil, meltedSea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, or more or less, to taste (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, roughly chopped
4 – 6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cut the sweet potatoes into uniform large wedges, then toss with the melted fat, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper, until the wedges are evenly coated.

  3. Spread the wedges in a single layer on a cookie sheet. (If they are too crowded, they might get a bit soggy.)

  4. Bake for 30-40 minutes, turning a few times during baking, until the wedges are done and slightly crispy.
  5. While the wedges are baking, mix together the chopped parsley, minced garlic, and olive oil.

  6. Once the wedges are out of the oven, toss them with the garlic mixture and serve while hot.

Pomegranate Orange Cranberry Sauce

Every Thanksgiving, I make cranberry sauce, refining and improving the recipe over the years. But I think I can stop trying to improve it, because I honestly don’t think it gets any better than this! This sauce is tart, sweet (but not overly) and is an amazingly fresh, bright complement to an otherwise heavy meal. Time, sugar and cooking candy the orange peel to take out most of its bite. It is best to make the day before serving, to allow the flavors to blend and mellow.

Ingredients:

1 lb organic cranberries, picked over
1/2 cup water
2 oranges – 1 washed, unpeeled, seeded and cut into chunks, 1 for juice and zest3/4 cup coconut sugar, maple syrup or honey (or more, to taste. I ended up using about a cup.)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (optional)

Preparation:

Cook the cranberries, water, coconut sugar, spices, unpeeled orange chunks and juice from the second orange uncovered over medium heat until most of the berries pop and the sauce is thick, about 10 minutes.

Remove from heat when it is cooked down and looks like this:

Blend with an immersion blender, right in the pan (or remove to food processor or blender – the goal is keeping it chunky.) Remove and discard any remaining larger orange peel pieces.

Add orange zest and pomegranate seeds and chill in refrigerator at least several hours up to two days before serving. Enjoy!

Creamy Butternut Habanero Soup

This is a delicious hearty, smooth soup that is a variation on my Carrot Habanero soup. Perfect for warming you up on a cold evening. The sweetness and tartness of the apple and orange complement the creamy coconut milk and squash beautifully. For folks who don’t like spicy, I have made this soup without the peppers and it is still amazing. It doesn’t last long in my house either way. I love the fried sage garnish described in the wonderful Practical Paleo cookbook. It adds a nice crunchy herbal accent to the soup.

A note about habanero peppers – many people are comfortable handling, cutting and deseeding them, but I like the technique of piercing them several times with a knife to infuse the heat into the soup without the intense burning. Increasing the number of peppers and time cooked will increase the heat. You can start with just one, and scoop it out after it has cooked a fraction of the time, and gradually increase your comfort zone in the future with handling the peppers if they are new to you but you want to experiment with this spicy food. I pierced 3 large habanero peppers for this last batch, sauteed them with the rest of the vegetables, then let them simmer in the slow cooker for about 6 hours with the rest of the soup and I have to tell you it was pretty hot. As in if I had it to do over again, I would have used maybe two and scooped them out after 2 hours. We still gobbled the soup up and took seconds in between sweating a bit and blowing our noses.

You can prepare this in a slow cooker or a Dutch oven or soup pot (if using a slow cooker, just scrape/ladle the veggies into the slow cooker after the deglazing stage, then add the remaining ingredients, cover and cook on low 6-8 hours.) If you use the slow cooker method, add 2 cups of water as it gets pretty thick. This yields about 6 large servings.

Ingredients

1.5 tablespoon fat (coconut oil, ghee, bacon grease or pasture butter (I used 1 tablespoon coconut oil, 1/2 tablespoon butter) plus about 1 tablespoon of fat to fry optional sage leaves for garnish
2 cups thinly sliced leeks (about 2 large, washed, white and pale green parts only)
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
1 cup chopped peeled carrots (about 2 medium)
1 cup chopped celery (about 2-3 stalks)
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1-3 whole habanero peppers, depending on desired heat (see above note)
1/4 cup dry white wine*
4 cups free range chicken broth (preferably home made)
Juice of one orange
1 teaspoon of orange zest (optional)
1 can coconut milk (14 ounces) reserving a few tablespoons for garnish if desired
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried sage or 4-5 fresh leaves, plus a few leaves extra per serving for frying later for garnish (optional)
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Preparation

  1. Heat the fat in a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add leek, butternut squash, carrots, celery, apples and garlic, and sauté 7-10 minutes or until tender and browning.

  3. Stir in the wine, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. (This is called deglazing the pan. See below for alcohol-free options.)
  4. Pierce the habaneros several times with a knife and add to the pot. (Transfer the vegetables to a slow cooker if you are using that.)
  5. Add the chicken stock, orange juice (and if juicing the orange, zest some of the peel) and coconut milk, then add spices, and stir to combine the ingredients.and bring to a boil.
  6. Partially cover, reduce heat and simmer 30-40 minutes. (Or add 2 cups of water and cook for 6-8 hours on low if using a slow cooker.)

  7. Remove and discard habaneros (see note above).
  8. Blend the ingredients using an immersion blender (or transfer in batches to a blender) until smooth.
  9. Ladle into bowls. Garnish with reserved coconut milk and fried sage if desired.

* If you are avoiding all alcohol for any reason, (Whole30, anyone?) you can use almost any liquid to deglaze the pan, such as stock and lemon juice or vinegar diluted in water. There are a lot of good alternatives discussed here.

Zucchini Noodles with Creamy Slow Roasted Tomato Sauce and Alpaca Sausage

I offered to do a food demo at GMO Free Josephine County Food Integrity Project kickoff event/gala tonight. (Side note – how cool is it that they are celebrating 10 local eateries that are offering GMO Free menu items? Not concerned about GMOs? RESEARCH THAT SHIT, SON! Watch Genetic Roulette and then we’ll talk :D ) I figured I would do zucchini “noodles” and cauliflower “rice” because they are such healthy substitutes for the original starchy grains.

But then I panicked – what sauce to use for my zoodles?? A foodie friend came to the rescue and suggested creamy slow roasted tomato sauce with coconut milk. That sounded delicious and guess what? It was! Slow roasting tomatoes with herbs, onions and garlic concentrates the flavors so beautifully. I topped the noodles with the sauce and added some pan fried alpaca sausage a friend gave me from the local Siskiyou Alpaca. Yes they are adorable but also so so tasty! (This recipe was inspired by She Cooks, She Cleans slow roasted tomatoes and vodka sauce.)

Ingredients:

2-3 medium zucchinis
8-10 medium tomatoes
8-10 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 onion, cut into large chunks
1 bunch fresh herbs of choice (I used oregano and parsley for the roasting, then added fresh basil right before serving
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 can (13-15 ounces) coconut milk
1/2 pound of sausage (alpaca optional)
1 tablespoon pasture butter or ghee

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees (you can cook them lower and slower)
  2. Wash and core the top of the tomatoes, then cut them into quarters and put in a nonreactive dish (glass or stainless steel works well, 10 tomatoes can fill up 2 dishes – you want them in a single layer.)
  3. Peel the garlic cloves, cut the onion and herbs, and toss them with the tomatoes and olive oil until everything is evenly coated in the oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper and cook for 2-3 hours. I cooked for 2 hours, then lowered the temperature to 200 degrees and kept cooking them for another 40 minutes or so. Your house is going to smell fantastic!

  4. Scrape the gooey tomato garlic onion herb mixture into a large sauce pan or stock pot over medium heat. Add the coconut milk and stir until heated. Either put the sauce in a blender or (my preferred method) use an immersion blender right in the pot to make it smooth and creamy.

  5. Make your zucchinis into noodles using a Spiralizer, mandoline or vegetable peeler, and saute them with a bit of the butter, salt and pepper.

  6. Pan fry your sausage in the butter, cut up and serve it on top of the noodles and sauce!

Foolproof Whole Roasted Chicken

I make this variation of Ina Garten’s (the Barefoot Contessa) Perfect Roast Chicken recipe all the time, it is so tasty! Mmmmm comfort food. And the best part is how many meals this makes, particularly because once all the meat is off the bones, you will want to throw the carcass (appetizing word, no?) in a slow cooker with about 8 cups of water, the herbs from the roasted chicken, some garlic, onions and carrots and cook on low 6-8 hours. Strain into some big mason jars and you have yourself some free range chicken stock as a base for more meals. Eating Paleo and organic is expensive, y’all; you gotta stretch those dollars!!

Ingredients:

1 (5 to 6 pound) roasting chicken
Sea salt
Coarsely ground black pepper
1 large bunch fresh thyme
1 large bunch fresh sage
1 large bunch fresh rosemary
1 lemon, halved
1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
2 tablespoons ghee (or 1/4 stick butter), softened or melted
1 large or 2 small yellow onion, thickly sliced
About a dozen mushrooms, (I used baby bellas) halved
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks (you can also use carrots)
2 tablespoons Coconut oil

 Preparation:

  •  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Place the onions, mushrooms and sweet potatoes in a roasting pan. Toss with salt, pepper, coconut oil, and 1/2 of the bunches each of the thyme, sage and rosemary until the vegetables are evenly coated with the oil. Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan.

  • Remove the chicken giblets and rinse the chicken inside and out. Cut off any excess fat and make sure all pin feathers are off. Pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the remaining herbs, both halves of the lemon, and all of the garlic. Brush or rub the outside of the chicken with the ghee or butter, and sprinkle again with salt and pepper on both sides. Place the chicken on top of the vegetables or on a roasting rack above them. (Ina says to tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken . . . I can never find my twine and the chicken is too slippery to handle so whatevs; it still turns out amazing.)

  • Roast for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes to let the meat rest. Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve it with the vegetables. Then make your chicken stock! :)

Spotlight On: MCT Oil

No, it doesn’t stand for Magical Coconut Tree Oil, but it should. Instead, MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides which are naturally found in coconut and palm kernel oils.

Because of its light flavor and nutritional benefits, I use it for salad dressings, put it in my coffee or superfood tea, and make an excellent mayonnaise with it. I just get it on Amazon but they also sell it at my local health food store for a few dollars more.

Smarter sciency people [wiki here] will tell you all about MCT Oil’s benefits, such as:

  • It is more easily and rapidly digested than other fats, making it good for malabsorption issues (no bile or energy needed to digest.)
  • It can help support a fat burning, instead of a sugar burning metabolism (more and sustained energy.)
  • It is purported to stave off neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, by bypassing the liver and directly fueling the brain with ketones/triglycerides that the brain is lacking and needs to function.
  • It can help you lose or manage your weight and increase your metabolism.
  • Um, did I mention it makes an excellent mayo?

So slip some in Grandma’s (and your own) coffee every day, be smarter, faster and leaner, and enjoy ;)

Carrot Habanero Soup

This is the best soup I’ve ever made, hands down. I ordered carrot habanero soup at one of my favorite little hangouts, the Circle J Cafe, and it was amazing! Sweet, savory, spicy, smooth. I could taste the ginger and citrus and heat, and it was in a creamy coconut milk base. I HAD to try to recreate it. I think I did a great job, if I do say so myself! :) This is delicious served hot or chilled. I adapted (“paleofied”) the recipe found in Cooking Light.

A note about habanero peppers: I was considering cutting them, de-seeding and de-veining etc. to take out the excessive heat (they are hundreds of times hotter than jalapeno peppers!) and then sauteing them with the other vegetables but decided against it after researching it and saw the recommendations about wearing gloves and goggles and handling them outside for safety reasons. I was too chicken for all that so tried another recommended method, which is piercing them several times with a knife to infuse the heat into the soup without overpowering it. The first time I made this soup, I just used one pepper, and it had a nice warmth to it. The last time I made it with three peppers and it had a bit more kick so that was perfect for me!

You can also prepare this in a slow cooker instead of a Dutch oven or soup pot (just scrape/ladle the veggies after deglazing into a slow cooker, then add the remaining ingredients, cover and cook on low 6-8 hours.) If you use that method, add 2 more cups of water as it gets pretty thick. This yields 6 servings.

That lemon should be an orange
That lemon should be an orange

Ingredients

1.5 tablespoon coconut oil, ghee, or pasture butter (or combination. I used 1 tablespoon coconut oil, 1/2 tablespoon butter)
1 cup thinly sliced leek (about 1 large, washed)
1/2 cup chopped onion (about 1/2 medium onion)
1 pound carrots, (about 7-8 medium chopped)
2 cups sweet potato, peeled and chopped (about 1/2 large sweet potato)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-3 whole habanero peppers depending on desired heat
1/4 cup dry white wine*
4 cups water
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon of orange zest (optional)
1 can coconut milk (14 ounces) reserving a few tablespoons for garnish if desired
1 tablespoon coconut aminos (optional)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric (optional)
Fresh dill, chopped, for garnish (optional)

Preparation

  1. Heat the fat in a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add leek, onion, sweet potatoes, carrots, ginger and garlic, and sauté 7-10 minutes or until tender and browning.
  3. Stir in the wine, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. (This is called deglazing the pan. See below for alcohol-free options.)

    Deglazing the pan
    Deglazing the pan
  4. Pierce the habaneros several times with a knife and add to the pot.
  5. Add the water, orange juice, (and if juicing the orange, zest some of the peel) coconut milk and coconut aminos, and bring to a boil.
  6. Partially cover, reduce heat and simmer 30-40 minutes.
  7. Add ground coriander, sea salt and turmeric, and stir to combine the ingredients.

    Simmering
    Simmering
  8. Remove and discard habaneros.
  9. Blend the ingredients using an immersion blender until smooth.

  10. Ladle into bowls. Garnish with reserved coconut milk and fresh dill, if desired.

* If you are avoiding all alcohol for any reason, (Whole30, anyone?) you can use almost any liquid to deglaze the pan, such as stock and lemon juice or vinegar diluted in water. There are a lot of good alternatives discussed here.

Spicy Kale Chips

I love kale chips. I am embarrassed to admit how much I will pay for a tiny bag of these things! Why do I do this when they are so easy to make? Excellent question. I like this version because it’s a little spicy and “cheesy” (from the nutritional yeast) but you can make this recipe seasoned just with salt and pepper or any other of your favorite savory seasonings.

Ingredients

1 large bunch of kale, pretty much any kind. I have used curly in the past but chose Lacinato this time because it looked good.
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon coconut aminos
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more or less to taste, also optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Rinse kale leaves and pat dry with a towel.
  3. Cut out or pull off stems (a handy trick is to start at the base where the stem is thickest, start tearing each side up the stem a little bit, then pull the leaf part away from the stem.) The stems (especially at the base) are too tough to really want to eat.

    Pulling the leaves away from the stem
    Pulling the leaves away from the stem
  4. Chop or tear the leaves into large pieces.
  5. Mix the ingredients together until blended, then pour over kale pieces. Gently massage the oil mixture to evenly coat the leaves.

    Dressing the kale
    Dressing the kale
  6. Spread the coated leaves in a single layer on 2 baking sheets.

    Laying out the chips before baking
    Laying out the chips before baking
  7. Bake 15-20 minutes or until crispy. Check after about 10 minutes and use a spatula or tongs to scrape free any pieces that are sticking to the pans.
  8. Let cool a little and then eat. They will not last long. I’m talking more stuffing them in your face wise more than storage-wise.

Chicken Satay

I brought these meat treats on a stick to a GMO Free Josephine County potluck and they disappeared in seconds. So much flavor! I have included more commonly found ingredients, along with more traditional Thai ingredients in parentheses below. I wish I could find local fresh galangal, the flavor really isn’t identical to ginger, but we work with what we can find.

Ingredients:

6-8 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into thin strips
1 package wooden skewers

Marinade:
Juice of 1/2 large lime, about 2 tablespoons (or 3 tablespoons minced fresh lemongrass)
1 shallot OR 1/2 small onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste (or 1 fresh red chilies, sliced)
1 tablespoon ground ginger (or 1 thumb-size piece galangal root OR ginger root, thinly sliced)
1/2 teaspoon dried turmeric (or 1 teaspoon minced fresh turmeric)
1 tablespoon  ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons coconut aminos
4 tablespoons fish sauce (all the Paleo hipsters use Red Boat brand. I used Tiparos because that is what I could find)
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

Dipping Sauce:
I used the Sunshine Sauce recipe from the amazing cookbook Well Fed. You can also find the recipe on Melissa’s blog The Clothes Make the Girl. Didn’t change a single ingredient. Whipped it up in a mason jar with an immersion blender (adding coconut milk last–don’t want coconut whipped cream this time) and it is creamy, spicy, tangy perfection.

Ingredients listed here for your convenience, (but please check out Melissa’s blog): you will need 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon), 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, 1 tablespoon coconut aminos, 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger, 1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar, 1/4 cup sunflower seed butter, dash ground cayenne pepper (optional),  and 1/4 cup coconut milk.

Preparation:

  1. Cut chicken into thin strips and place in a large ziplock plastic bag.
  2. Place all marinade ingredients in a mason jar to use an immersion blender, or place in a food processor or regular blender. Blend well.
  3. Taste the marinade. Traditionally some sugar is used, but I believe the coconut aminos provide plenty of sweetness. Add more of whatever flavor or spice you want to highlight.
  4. Pour the marinade over the meat in the ziplock back and knead it around to combine. Allow the chicken to marinade in the fridge 1-24 hours.
  5. Soak your bamboo skewers in water (to prevent scorching) for at least 30 minutes before cooking.

  6. When ready to cook, thread meat onto the skewers, leaving the lower half empty to easily pick up for cooking and eating. (I inserted then deleted a picture of the skewered raw chicken. You’re welcome. It looks so gross raw!)
  7. Broil the satay in the oven, turning every 5 minutes, or grill them on the BBQ until cooked, about 20 minutes.
  8. Prepare your dipping sauce while the satay is cooking.