New Favorites

Hey guys!  I have a couple of new favorite recipes you have to try.  Whether you’re new to Whole30 or Paleo, or you’re a seasoned veteran like us, both of these recipes are super yummy.

The first one is the Layered Taco Casserole from Living Loving Paleo.  If you use just-ripe plantains that are sweet but still firm, you end up with an amazing flavor paired with the spices in the ground beef.  I made guacamole on my Sunday cook-day to go along with this one and portioned it out in small plasticware cups so it could be added after the meals were heated.  We also added a dollop of lactose-free sour cream to it when we had it for dinner, which really took the flavor up another notch.  Spanish cauli-rice pairs nicely with this one too.

The second actually came about during one of my famous “E.J’s hungry, wants something different, and I didn’t prepare anything specific to eat” days.  We had pork chops and apples that needed to be used, and while I had originally intended to do something in the oven with them, I made Wiener Schnitzel instead.   It’s a bit messy in the kitchen, like all fried meals, but the flavors really shine, especially when I topped them with quick homemade applesauce:

{Super Cheating Quick Applesauce recipe:  peel and core 3-5 granny smith apples and chop into 1/2-ish chunks.  Put in microwave safe container and cover, microwave for 6 minutes.  Transfer to blender and blend.   If serving with savory dishes, nothing else is needed.  Otherwise you can add cinnamon and/or coconut sugar to ramp up the sweet factor.}

Served with a salad topped with oil and balsamic vinegar, this meal turned boring pork chops into restaurant-quality yum!

I’ve added these to the Favorites page, so be sure to check them out if you’re looking for something new to try!

Back to “Normal”

I apologize, dear readers, for the long hiatus.  I don’t really have any good excuses, other than the fact that I simply didn’t feel like I had much to share the last few weeks.

The weekend after E.J. was released from his active duty with the National Guard, he and I headed to Austin for a lovely couple of days enjoying a little adventure and a cozy bed & breakfast. While we thoroughly enjoyed our mini-vacation, I caught the cold/flu thing my mom had had the week before, and spent much of the weekend and the week after feeling very tired and sniffly.  E.J. of course caught it and came down with it the next weekend, so we spent last weekend being a bit lazy and just trying to rest so we could feel ourselves again.

Then yesterday I got to spend the day looking for the dress I’ll be wearing to the Marine Corps and Army balls in Nov & Dec, and came home after a relaxing pedicure to a belated surprise 40th birthday party for yours truly.  Thanks to the time that passed and my friends’ excellent deflection & distraction skills, I was thoroughly surprised.  Not only was there a full spread of party food, but it was all paleo-friendly…  I have some really awesome friends (and husband, of course, who continues to make me swoon with sweet gestures all of the time).

Due to all of the sick and lazy, and just plain tired I was feeling the last few weeks, I didn’t do a lot of experimenting with meals.  Instead I stuck to a handful of favorites from my recipes page and relied more than I should on restaurant fare.

But today is October 1 – the beginning of my favorite time of the year.  The weather is starting to cool off, pumpkin spices are everywhere, and all of my favorite holidays and activities are lined up through New Years.  I’m ready to snap back to “normal”, and looking forward to the foods and festivities of the season.

So here are some of the new recipes I’ve been playing with:

  • BBQ Chicken Casserole – this one is similar to another version I tried about a year ago, but was less than happy with.  This one was much tastier and will probably make it onto our favorites page.
  • Sauteed Red Cabbage with Apples – E.J. was craving red cabbage the other day, so I decided to see if I could find a paleo-friendly version that would work.  This one more than worked.  It was fantastic!  Hot or cold, this side dish is just a tiny bit sweet from the apples, and makes a lovely pairing with smoked or roasted meats.
  • Honey Ginger Apple Shredded Pork – Even though it’s still a bit warm outside, I couldn’t resist going for some of the flavors of the season.  The ginger, cinnamon, and apples made the house smell amazing while the crock pot was going.
  • “Cheesy” Broccoli Cauliflower Casserole – I adapted this recipe which uses quinoa and replaced it instead with sauteed cauliflower.  I don’t know if I’d really call it “cheesy”, but it tastes pretty good, and I think satisfies well enough as an alternative to simple roasted veggies.

Happy Fall, y’all!

More Keto Goodies

While Keto is treating me well from a meal planning and meal enjoyment perspective, I find I’m really struggling to stay in ketosis.  Our big system upgrade happened last weekend, and between the prep, the aftermath, and the one giant FUBAR that had me pulling an all-nighter Wednesday night, staying strict enough on the diet this week wasn’t really an option.  So, I compromised, sliding over to Paleo, and maybe a little beyond when a no-added-sugar hard cider sounded like a really good idea.  But all in all, I’m holding fairly steady, and that’s not bad, considering.

This week, I made some new keto friendly dishes and revisited the Quiche Lorraine from a few weeks ago, since E.J. didn’t get a chance to enjoy it the first time.  First we had some folks over for dinner last night and served sausage with keto coleslaw and this Loaded Cauliflower which got rave reviews.

Then for lunches this week, I made this Keto Meatloaf recipe that uses pork rinds as a binder… who would have guessed?  Then I made this Deconstructed Pizza Casserole recipe and this Easy Cashew Chicken.

I’m actually really looking forward to our lunches this week now, and hopefully I’ll be able to slide back into ketosis again when things calm down a bit.

Iron Chef: Freezer Edition

With E.J. off at Annual Training for the next 2 weeks, I am taking the opportunity to inventory my freezer this week so that I can do a massive defrosting next weekend.  We actually have 2 freezers, and the large one in the laundry room is not the kind that is frostless, so about twice a year, you have to go old school and pull everything out to thaw out the massive ice buildup.

While the project is always a massive pain, it’s a good opportunity to go through everything and throw out things that are too freezer burned, or otherwise undesirable to make room for the good stuff.  In order to minimize the amount of ice and ice chest space I need, I’m trying to “Iron Chef” it this week with whatever I can find.

On Friday, I did a version of these Paleo Enchiladas using some frozen pulled pork for the meat and some Siete tortillas.  The sauce was actually delicious, and I would like to try this full recipe someday.   Then on Saturday, I did I wanted to use the last of the cherries I had in the fridge and some beef and pork , so I made this Meatballs with Cherry Sauce dish.  Mom and Brendon really liked that one.

Last night, I pulled out an old favorite to use up some frozen salmon.  This one is always a winner.   And tonight I used up a couple of lbs of shrimp by sauteing them with onions and bell peppers in a Jamaican jerk rub with butter.  It was a little spicier than I had intended, but otherwise really good.

I’m about to go diving back into the freezer to figure out what we’re going to have tomorrow night…. your guess is as good as mine!

Paleo Cherry Chipotle BBQ Sauce

Our good friends Kenny & Elaine got a new smoker recently and were gracious enough to share their first bounty with us – some lovely smoked brisket.  As I was gathering produce for the side dishes I planned to make to accompany it, I couldn’t help grabbing another bag of fresh sweet cherries.  I know they won’t be in season for much longer, and I really enjoyed the chicken recipe this week for lunches.

I came across this recipe from The Joyful Foodie, and used it as a starting point.  The rest was inspired by an awesome cherry chipotle rub that E.J. and I used to use before we went Paleo. Enjoy!

Paleo Cherry Chipotle BBQ Sauce

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Sweet and spicy BBQ sauce made with seasonal sweet cherries


Ingredients

  • 1 tsp coconut oil (or other friendly oil)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 small can tomato paste
  • 1 cup pitted sweet cherries
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp chipotle powder
  • salt & pepper to taste


Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat,  add oil and saute onion until soft
  2. Add garlic and cook for a minute or so until fragrant
  3. Stir in tomato paste and cook 2-3 minutes
  4. Reduce heat and add cherries and paprika, breaking up the cherries as the soften. Cook for 10-12 minutes until cherries release their juice
  5. Add vinegar and cook 1-2 mins more
  6. Remove from heat and add honey, chipotle powder, salt & pepper
  7. Let the mixture cool, and then transfer to a blender.  Blend until smooth.


Summer Fruit

It’s hot out there, guys.  Generally speaking, this is my least favorite time of the year, mostly because from mid-July to mid-September, Houston is pretty much a sweltering, sweat-inducing, swamp of a city.  While most Americans hibernate during cold winter months, we hibernate in the summer, running from A/C blasted cars to frigidly cold A/C buildings and trying not to sweat completely through whatever we’re wearing in between.

The only positive thing that comes around this time of year is an abundance of fresh and flavorful fruits – and while fruit should generally be enjoyed in moderation on a Paleo diet, there are lots of ways to incorporate the flavors into your main dishes to make them a little brighter without any additional sugars added.

This week, I made 2 dishes that used fresh fruits that IMG_2815.JPGwere calling my name.  The first was a Cherry Balsamic Roasted Chicken.  For this recipe, I used boneless skinless breasts and thighs in a large Pyrex dish, just so I could make a bigger batch.  It was actually one of the easiest dishes I’ve put together and I’m looking forward to trying it for lunches this week.  The second one came across as a suggested post on my Facebook last week, and I have to admit to being insanely curious – who ever heard of blueberry sausage?  But Blueberry Breakfast Muffins were paired with some grilled summer squash this week for a hearty meatball/loaf lunch option.

While I had the smoker going with some ribs that were on sale, I also made this Sausage Egg Roll in a Bowl recipe, and just heard back from E.J. that it was a hit.  So even if it’s too hot to enjoy the weather, at least we can enjoy some summer flavors!

Summer Party Fare

This weekend, in addition to E.J.’s 50th, we also celebrated 6 or 7 other summer birthdays with our annual Summer pool party.  We had quite a large, diverse group in attendance, and still managed to keep the party very Paleo-friendly while offering tasty summer-season flavors that received a ton of compliments.  I was actually feeling a bit under the weather going into the party, but with the help of the A-Team (my awesome friends Annie, Anita, and Amber), we had a fabulous banquet for all to enjoy.

Here were the new dishes we tried for the party:

Watermelon Feta Bites – Annie put these together with some festive party picks for a light and refreshing appetizer.  The sweet of the watermelon nicely offset the salty feta, and the balsamic drizzle was a nice touch.  Annie and her son Noah put this one together and he apparently enjoyed snacking during assembly 🙂

Cherry Orange Salsa – Annie also brought this one, and it was a huge hit.  It was a departure from the standard chips and salsa and seasonal sweet cherries were fabulous with the jalepenos.  We served the salsa with Siete tortilla chips, and people were surprised at how good it was.  E.J. and I ended up grilling some pork chops afterward and making a meal of the salsa on the chops for an easy packed lunch this week.

Bacon Wrapped Prawns, Stuffed with Jalapeno Cream Cheese and Drenched with Honey – How awesome does this sound?  It tastes even better.   I know cheese is off-limits for Paleo, but I picked up some lactose-free cream cheese from Whole Foods to help offset the negative effects, and these flew off the plate.  For the record, I only used jalepenos and kept the serrano out, but yum!

Spicy Salmon Cucumber Bites – I had some cucumbers that needed to be used, and decided to consume them with this easy recipe.  Instead of baking the fish, we smoked the salmon first, which was not only yummy, but also pretty with the cute red tomato bits on top.

Bacon-Wrapped Pineapple – it doesn’t get any simpler that this folks.  Amber brought this one and it was the first dish to be cleared.

Hooray for Healthy and Happy Summer Party guests!!