Friday, May 27, 2011

Chicken Cacciatore

I don't really know what the "classic" version of chicken cacciatore is. All I know is that this takes less than 20 minutes to put together, it tastes good, and it makes for some good leftovers. Shout out to my momma who used to make this when I was a kid!

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (use dark meat if you prefer, just bake a bit longer)
1 yellow onion, halved and sliced
2 bell peppers (any color), sliced
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
at least 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1- 28oz can of crushed tomatoes in puree
1/2 a can of tomato paste
Any fresh or dried Italian-ish herbs 1-2 tsp. (herbs de provence, basil, parsley, thyme, rosemary, "italian seasoning")
Salt and pepper
Crushed red pepper

Preheat oven to 375.  Place onions in the bottom of a casserole dish, then layer the chicken (season with salt and pepper), bell peppers and garlic, and mushrooms.  In a bowl, mix together the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, herbs, a couple pinches of salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper (as much or as little as you like).  Pour the tomato mixture over the chicken and veggies, and bake for about an hour. I kinda mixed everything around and flipped the chicken after about 40 minutes. My oven tends to be on the cool side, so it takes me about 1hr 15 minutes.

No pics, again. Sorry!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A new, old favorite

This is going to be a quick, pic-less post. My apologies in advance. You'll just have to take my word on this one....

Roasted broccoli with garlic oil

Preheat oven to 375.  While it's preheating, chop a few cloves of garlic and put into a pot with a few tablespoons of olive oil.  Heat over low heat, just for a few minutes.  If it starts sizzling turn the heat off and just let it sit- you aren't trying to brown the garlic here.  Cut the florets off your head(s) of broccoli, place on a baking sheet and drizzle your garlic oil on it, but reserve the garlic.  Season with salt and pepper and toss so everything's evenly covered. Roast for 30 minutes, remove from oven, and toss with reserved garlic.

The broccoli should be nicely browned on the edges, and has a similar flavor to kale chips.  But this tastes even better than kale chips in my opinion because they are more..... toothsome. I'll try to remember to post a picture the next time I make this dish.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Braised Artichokes

This dish is based on a recipe I came across this weekend in a magazine. I spent the weekend in Vancouver and read cooking magazines en route, and I came across a lot of good stuff that I could easily make paleo friendly. So there will be lots more to come in the near future!

Quick-Braised Artichokes and Onions

Quartered artichoke hearts, or halved baby artichoke hearts (link to how to prep after recipe)
3/4 of a bag of frozen pearl onions (defrosted)
~4 T olive oil
2-4 cloves minced garlic
1/2 c water
juice of 1 lemon
~10 mint leaves
salt and pepper

Heat 2 T oil in a pan over medium-heat until it is screaming hot. If artichokes have been in lemon water (to prevent browning) pat them dry and add to pan. Brown for a couple minutes on each side, you should get some good color here. Add a little salt and pepper. Move artichokes to a bowl, add more oil to the pan if needed, and brown the onions.

Add the artichokes back into the pan with the garlic and cook for no longer than a minute. Add the water and lemon juice, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10-20 minutes (depending on the size of the artichokes). The artichokes are fork tender when done. Remove cover, add mint, and let cook for another couple of minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. Season with more salt and pepper if needed.

I didn't specify the amount of artichokes, because I just used what I harvested from our garden today (6 small artichokes) and supplemented with the pearl onions (because I happened to have them). If I had made a trip to the store, I would've used celery and braised that as well. As a matter of fact, I will probably make the same recipe with celery this weekend.

We ate this tonight with homemade sweet potato fries and a bun-less burger. The burger was a grilled pattie on top of a slice of tomato, with roasted garlic and avocado mashed on top.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Have you ever...?

...made your own sausage? Sausage can be a great protein option for your paleo(ish) diet. However, if you check the ingredient list of most store bought brands you will find some very un-paleo things... corn syrup or sugar, preservatives, fillers, gluten. Luckily you can make your own! If you're fortunate enough to have a stand up mixer with a meat grinder and sausage stuffer, you're really in for a good time, but there is plenty you can make with some pre-ground meat and spices.

Last week I experimented with making some breakfast sausage patties, cooking them, then freezing them so I could have them as a quick breakfast throughout the week. It worked out great! The recipe is based on one I found on The only difference is that I don't really measure, but that's not so important unless you are baking. I kept the proportions about the same.

Breakfast Sausage Patties (all spices/herbs are dried)

~1 lb ground meat (I used pork, but turkey would work fine here)
1/2 T salt
1/2 t sage
1/3 t savory (the ONLY reason I used this is because it came in a pre-filled spice rack, so I happened to have it on hand. I'm pretty sure you can leave it out if you don't have it)
1/8 t nutmeg
2/3 t marjoram
1/3 t ground black pepper

Just mix everything in a bowl and form into patties. I like to crush the herbs in my hand before throwing in, to get the oils flowing and whatnot. Fresh ground meat makes a HUGE difference here. The first time I made this I think I ground in some extra pork fat which made all the difference. Ground pork and ground turkey tend to be a bit dry since they're so lean.

I browned the patties on both sides, about 2-4 minutes per side depending on the size of the patties. Let cool and store two at a time in zip top bags in the freezer. I put a bag in the fridge the night before I want to have them for breakfast and then reheat in a pan or in the microwave.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Some Good Stuff

A couple of good articles I've come across lately.....

Five "Bad" Foods That Are Actually Good For You

A couple of good recipes to share....

Ropa Viejo is a Cuban beef stew with red peppers, onions, and green olives. This version literally takes 10 minutes to put together, and a you just let it go on the stove for a couple of hours. I eat this over mashed rutabagas while my housemates enjoy it over rice.

Taco Chicken Wings The genius of this recipe is the idea of dipping these oven broiled hot wings in guacamole. I'm all for any excuse to eat guacamole, and this is one of the more delicious vehicles I've come across. I've also used the spice mix as a rub for ribs!

Crab Stuffed Salmon We made this a couple weeks ago as a birthday dinner for Dato's mom. I was expecting it to be delicious... but it was even better. This was not a cheap meal, but cheaper than going out to dinner. I think it was about $90 total to feed 6 people.

If anyone has any links to articles, website recommendations, or recipes they would like to share.... please post to comments!

Friday, May 6, 2011

BLT Chicken Salad

This is one of my best ideas, if I do say so myself. I just finished eating about 15 minutes ago and I was so excited, I had to post it right away. Now, I don't condone wrapping burgers in lettuce because they are too darn juicy, but lettuce is a great vehicle for tuna/chicken/egg salad, etc. I like the hydroponic butter lettuce because it lasts a long time in the fridge.

1 lb cooked chicken breast
5 slices cooked bacon
1/2-1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1/4 cup almond mayo or other homemade mayo, thinned out
Avocado slices
Butter lettuce leaves
Salt and pepper

Cut the chicken and the bacon into bite size pieces. I like my pieces of bacon to be about twice the size of the chicken. Combine chicken and bacon in a large bowl with tomatoes. Thin out mayo with 2 T of water, or your fat of choice (I used warm bacon fat! But that's just me...) and add to chicken. Mix well, add salt and pepper to taste- I found it didn't really need much salt because of all the bacon (and bacon fat). Serve it in butter lettuce leaves with a couple of slices of avocado on top, and eat it like a taco!

If you don't want to make the mayo, you could probably substitute a vinaigrette made from Dijon mustard, lemon juice or red wine vinegar, and olive oil. I also think this would be wonderful with hardboiled eggs instead of chicken.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Have you ever...?

...made your own mayo? One of the headaches of the Paleo-ish diet is diligently checking labels and coming to the realization that there isn't much in the way of store-bought sauces, condiments, and marinades that is Paleo friendly. Ok, fine. You can eat your salad with oil and vinegar 29 days out of the month.... but sometimes, don't you miss those creamy mayo based dressings? Now, you're probably not eating mayo on a sandwich anymore, but what about some aioli (fancy garlic mayo!) on grilled artichokes?

I've made mayo plenty of times with egg yolks, lemon juice, and oil- pretty much the classic way. However, the mayo you are used to eating is made with some sort of vegetable oil that is high in Omega-6's, which you probably are trying to cut out of your diet. So when I've made mayo, I've used olive oil which has a very strong flavor. This is fine if I'm making aioli, which has garlic blended right in, but otherwise it's a little much.

Another problem for some people is the fact that it usually uses raw eggs. I personally don't mind, but some do.

So I found another way to make "mayo"....

1 cup slivered almonds (I was just shy of a cup, so I used some macadamia nuts, too)
1/3-1/2 cup olive oil
2/3 cup water
1/4-1/2 t salt (optional)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Put almonds, olive oil, half the water, and salt into a food processor or blender and let it go on high for a couple of minutes, until smooth. Add the lemon juice and the rest of the water and blend until combined. Transfer to a container and chill for a couple of hours.

This won't have the same texture as mayo, it's a little grainy. But it works! And the nuttiness masks the strong olive oil flavor. I used it this evening to make a salad dressing- just thinned it out with lemon juice and water, and added some fresh herbs. I've used this recipe before (subbed honey for agave syrup) and I liked it as well- a little tangier.

The rest of dinner consisted of grilled lamb chops with charmoula, and zucchini and tomatoes stuffed with crab and scallops.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


I made a batch of this on Friday, and I have been eating it on just about everything since. I just keep it in a sealed container in the fridge and it makes the same meats and veggies that I eat daily a little more exciting.

There are a couple of ingredients in a classic pesto that I leave out. Parmesan cheese, obviously left out since it is not paleo, and pine nuts, left out because they are SO FREAKIN' EXPENSIVE. I don't just restrict myself to basil, although that is what I made for the most recent batch.

1 bunch of basil
1/2 cup walnuts
1-3 cloves of garlic (depending how you like it, and I like it garlicky)
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

Put walnuts, garlic, lemon juice, and leaves of one whole bunch of basil in the food processor. Pulse and then blend on high until a paste is formed. With food processor running, slowly drizzle olive oil in until it is a consistency you like. I keep mine pretty thick. Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking.

The basic formula for this paleo pesto is as follows:
  • leafy green
  • nut
  • garlic
  • oil
  • lemon
Choose almost any herb(s) or baby leafy green. I've used basil and cilantro; parsley; arugula; baby spinach.

As far as nuts go, if you want to spend the money you could go with pinenuts. I like walnuts the best but you can try cashews, macadamia nuts, or pecans.

Here are some ideas of how to eat it:
  • On top of/mixed into scrambled eggs
  • On chicken breast
  • A spoonful mixed in with steamed or sauteed veggies
  • Mixed with spaghetti squash
  • On top of a hamburger patty
  • Thin out with a little water and use as a salad dressing
  • On top of baked salmon (my favorite!)
And there are surely more uses than that!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Snack Attack

I had been thinking about doing this post for a while, and was inspired to actually do it when I saw Crossfit Cadence's Facebook page the other day on just this topic. When people are curious about the Paleo diet one of the first things they ask about is snacks. It's a tough one. You can only snack on raw almonds for so many days in a row. And it was easier waaaaay back in the day (you know, before November) when I could just have some pretzels or some string cheese if I was a little hungry (read:BORED).

So I would really appreciate it if people could comment with ideas/recipes for snacks. Here are mine:

  • I try to snack on the same kinds of protein I would have for a meal. This is satisfying if I really am hungry, but we all know that most of the time we're snacking is not because we're actually hungry. I always have leftovers so I can have a couple of slices of a chicken breast, a hardboiled egg, a little piece of steak or a pork chop. Honestly though, since going Paleo-ish in November I don't have the desire to snack nearly as much as I used to.

  • Deviled eggs. Slice some hardboiled eggs in half lengthwise and scoop out the yolks in a bowl. I mix mine with Dijon mustard (check the label to make sure there's no sugar in it!) and olive oil, then stuff it back in the egg whites by the spoonful. Sprinkle with paprika, cause it's not a deviled egg unless there's paprika on it!

  • Take half an avocado. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, or hot sauce, or olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Eat with a spoon.

  • Angie and I experimented with paleo-friendly hummus (faux hummus, or "fummus" as we call it). We used macadamia nuts and zucchini instead of garbanzo beans, and we had great success with adding roasted red peppers or roasted garlic. She documented it here.

  • Unsweetened coconut flakes. These actually make you feel like you're snacking. Just pour some into a bowl and mindlessly munch away. You can find them in the bulk section of Whole Foods, and Bob's Red Mill makes some which I like because they are really big pieces. I put a small handful of the flakes, ~1/2 a box of raisins, and some nuts into a bowl to make a trail mix.

  • Berries/fruit with coconut milk. I eat this because it is kinda like yogurt, kinda like a dessert, all good. I use FULL FAT coconut milk, usually Thai Kitchen brand cause there are no preservatives. You just gotta make sure to shake the can very well. I put some berries or slice a banana into a bowl and just dump some on. No measurement, just whatever I feel like.
Please, please, please chime in with what works for you when it comes to snacking!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Chicken Saltimbocca

I have made many different variations of this dish, and when I did a quick Google search to see what the classic version was, it seems that all you really need for a dish to be called saltimbocca is chicken (or veal), sage, and prosciutto. You can make this as simple or as complicated as you'd like. Here's what I did earlier this week:

3 chicken breasts, cut into thirds, pounded to about 1/4 inch thick
1 package of proscuttio (8 slices?), cut in half
1 large shallot, sliced
2 cloves of garlic
~1 tsp dried sage, or 1 fresh leaf for each piece of chicken
8oz mushrooms (optional), sliced
2 T capers (optional)
1/3 c chicken stock
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper

Slice the chicken breasts in thirds on a diagonal, basically making the pieces as evenly sized as possible. Take a ziploc freezer bag and drip a few drops of water in it- this will keep the chicken from sticking to the bag as you pound it. Put one piece of chicken in the bag at a time and do not seal. I use a heavy pan to evenly and gradually pound the chicken until it is ~ 1/4 inch thick.

After all the chicken is pounded, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and sage. Sage is a pretty strong herb, so use as much or as little as you like. If you are using fresh sage, just place one leaf on each piece of chicken, and then a piece of prosciutto on top. Otherwise, just put a piece of prosciutto on top of each piece.

Once all the chicken is prepped, heat a very large skillet over medium-high heat with whatever fat you want to cook with. I used olive oil. Once the pan gets really hot place a few pieces of chicken in the pan prosciutto side down. It is very important that the pan is very hot so the prosciutto will sear onto the chicken. Don't move the chicken for a couple of minutes, then flip and sear on the other side for about 2 minutes. The chicken is thin, so it should cook pretty quickly. You will have to do this in batches, I did 3 pieces of chicken at a time.

When all the chicken is cooked and removed to a plate, add more oil if needed, and throw in the shallots and garlic. Sautee for about 30 seconds, then add the mushrooms. We got some oyster mushrooms from an asian market (only $3 for 8 0z instead of at least double that price at a grocery store), but you could use whatever you'd like- white button, cremini. Cook until soft then, with the pan still very hot, pour in the chicken broth to get all the delicious bits off the bottom of the pan. Let the liquid come up to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. It will start to thicken up. Add a squeeze of lemon right at the end, and the capers. At this point you can serve the sauce right over the chicken, or add the chicken back into the pan to reheat.