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Creamy Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic Soup with Sausage, Bacon and Kale

Now that colder weather has arrived, I’m in the mood for foods that make me feel warm and cozy.  I absolutely hate the cold, and wish I could live in pajamas and warm fuzzy bathrobes all day (fuzzy bathrobes are the best kind of bathrobes, just sayin’).  While pajamas and bathrobes are currently not part of the dress code at my job, changing the dress code at work is one of my top priorities 😉  Until then, drinking hot tea at work to keep my hands (and body) warm will have to do, along with wrapping myself in warm blankets and ignoring the stares of fellow co-workers when I’m wrapped up in my blanket like I burrito.  But I digress.

 This recipe for cauliflower soup is sure to keep you warm and cozy on a cool fall/winter evening.  It’s packed full of flavor (you’ll just have to trust me on this one), and the addition of bacon grease (crazy, I know) takes it to another level entirely!

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This recipe is a fan favorite among friends, and is recipe I like to make for anyone, regardless of whether they follow a Paleo/gluten-free lifestyle.

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You may get words of love and adoration from friends and family after you make this recipe for them.  If you don’t, I hope they at least say thank you for the flavor party that is sure to be happening in their mouths.

If you try out this recipe, please let me know what you think.  I’d love to read your feedback!  What are some things you like to do to keep you warm during the cold season?

Creamy Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic Soup with Sausage, Bacon and Kale

Servings: serves 6-8


Ingredients (for the sausage):

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

Ingredients (for the soup):

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
  • 7 cups chicken broth
  • 1 large red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 head of kale, roughly chopped
  • 3-4 slices of bacon, cooked, drained and chopped (reserve 2 tablespoons of bacon grease)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (can sub with coconut milk to make dairy-free)
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of cooking fat (lard, avocado oil, butter, ghee, tallow)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions:

For the Sausage:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the sausage until everything has been fully incorporated.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the sausage to the skillet, and cook over medium heat until  sausage has browned and cooked through, approximately 10-12 minutes.  Drain excess fat once the sausage is thoroughly cooked, and then set aside.

 

For the Soup:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cauliflower and onion.
  4. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of cooking fat onto the cauliflower and onion, and toss to coat.
  5. Place the vegetables on the baking sheet in a single layer.
  6. Trim the top off the head of garlic.  Place the garlic on a small piece of aluminum foil.  Pour two teaspoons of cooking fat on top of the garlic.  Wrap the foil around the garlic so that it is completely sealed.
  7. Place the garlic wrapped in foil on a small corner of the baking sheet.
  8. Roast the cauliflower, onions and garlic in the oven for approximately 1 hour until they have softened, (you should be able to pierce the roasted vegetables easily with a fork).  Toss the cauliflower and onions halfway the cooking process.  Once the cauliflower, onions and garlic have finished roasting, remove the baking sheet from the oven.
  9. Allow the roasted garlic to cool, and then peel once you are able to safely handle it.
  10. Place a large cooking pot on the stove.  Pour the roasted cauliflower and onion into the pot, and then add 7 cups of chicken broth.
  11. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium low, letting the vegetables simmer in the chicken broth for approximately 30 minutes.
  12. Turn the stove off, and pour the roasted vegetables, chicken broth and peeled roasted garlic into a vitamix, and puree until smooth, approximately 2-3 minutes depending on your preference level.  If you don’t have a vitamix, a large high powered food processor should work.
  13. After the mixture has  pureed, pour the mixture back into the large cooking pot.
  14. Place the pot back on the stove, and reheat the pot using medium heat.  To the pot, add the heavy cream, sea salt, thyme, oregano, paprika, pepper, sausage, bacon, kale and bacon grease and stir until all the ingredients in the mixture are fully incorporated.
  15. Cook the soup over medium heat for 8-10 minutes.
  16. serve immediately and enjoy!

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Shepherd’s Pie with Cauliflower, Parsnip and Carrot Mash

Do you have one of those friends who makes you laugh hysterically, to the point were you feel like your’e about to pee your pants?  One of my best friend’s Olivia, is that kind of friend.  She’s smart (a whiz at numbers), has tons of great stories (she grew up with a bunch of sisters, so there are some doozies), and we have a similar backgrounds.  We also share a love for Moscato D’Asti, and can talk for hours over drinks (and dessert 😉 ).

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She’s a pretty mellow person, and has a very easy going personality.  That’s perfect for me, since I tend to stress about things a lot, and worry about every little detail.

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Olivia has also experienced both the highs and lows of my experimental cooking.  The lows include my attempt to bravely step out of my comfort zone by trying a recipe which included oxtail and coconut milk (we try to avoid mentioning that fiasco).

Every time I make her a meal (which is typically weekly), I get her to rank that particular meal based on the other recipes I have made for her.  Some of her favorite/highly ranked meals include the Chicken Pad Thai recipe from Primal Palate, Crash Hot Sweet Potatoes from the Creek Side Cook, roasted vegetables with bacon (one of her favorites), and anything involving fried plantain.

About two weeks ago, I made this recipe for her, not knowing what her opinion was on Shepherd’s Pie.  She took one bite, and said hands down this is the best meal I’ve made for her so far.  Coming from Olivia, who doesn’t eat a Paleo/Primal/Gluten-free diet, I know that means it’s good!

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This recipe has some of her favorites, roasted vegetables and bacon, and I’m sure she would have been over the moon if I’d managed to find a way to add fried plantain to the mixture.  Not sure how I’d do it, but if you have any suggestions, please feel free to share!

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I hope you like the recipe as much as she does!  Feel free to share your favorite Paleo/Primal/gluten-free/healthy recipes in the comments below.

Shepherd’s Pie with Cauliflower, Parsnip and Carrot Mash

Servings: approximately 6-8


Ingredients:

For the Cauliflower, Parsnip and Carrot Mash:

  • 1 large head cauliflower, chopped into florets (approximately 1-1.5 pounds)
  • 3 large turnips, chopped into 2 inch pieces (approximately 3/4 pounds – 1 pound)
  • 3 large carrots, chopped into 2 inch pieces (approximately 1/2 pound)
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk (canned)
  • 1/4 cup cooking fat (i.e., lard, coconut oil, avocado oil)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • 1 head garlic
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

For the Pie Filling:

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped
  • 2 cups frozen peas and carrots
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Instructions for the Cauliflower, Parsnip Carrot Mash:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cauliflower florets, carrots and parsnip.
  4. Drizzle 1/4 cup of cooking fat onto the vegetables, and toss to coat.
  5. Place the vegetables on the baking sheet in a single layer.
  6. Trim the top off the head of garlic.  Place the garlic on a small piece of aluminum foil.  Pour two teaspoons on top of the garlic.  Wrap the foil around the garlic so that it is completely sealed.
  7. Place the garlic wrapped in foil on a small corner of the baking sheet.
  8. Roast the vegetables and garlic for approximately 1 hour, flipping the vegetables halfway though.  Roast the vegetables until they have softened (you should be able to pierce the roasted vegetables easily with a fork).  Once the vegetables have completed roasted, remove the baking sheet from the oven.
  9. Allow the roasted garlic to cool, and then peel once you are able to handle it.
  10. Pour the roasted vegetables into the bowl of a large food processor.  Add the coconut milk, dried thyme, ghee, roasted garlic, sea salt and ground black pepper.
  11. Puree until smooth, with no visible lumps.

 

Instructions for the Shepherd’s Pie:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Add chopped bacon to the skillet, and sautee until cooked through.  Place the bacon on plate lined with paper towels.  Reserving 1 tablespoon of bacon grease, remove the excess grease from the skillet.
  4. Place the large skillet back over-medium high heat, and add 1 tablespoon of the reserved bacon grease to the skillet.  Once the skillet is hot, add the diced onions and sautee until translucent, approximately 8-10 minutes.
  5. Add ground beef to the skillet and cook through until the meat has browned.
  6. After the meat has browned, stir in the beef broth, bacon, tomato paste, garlic, bay leaves, salt and pepper and cook on medium heat until the liquid in the skillet is reduced by half.
  7. Remove skillet from heat.
  8. Remove bay leaves from the skillet.  Add frozen peas and carrots to the skillet and mix in with the beef mixture until combined.
  9. Spread the  beef mixture evenly into a 9 x 13 baking pan.
  10. Spread the cauliflower, parsnip and carrot mash evenly on top of the beef mixture.
  11. Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes.
  12. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving.


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Supreme Pizza Egg Muffins

I’m a person who loves convenience when it comes to breakfast during the work week.  I typically workout in the mornings, and by the time I come home from the gym to get ready for work, the last thing I want to do is try and start cooking breakfast.  As a result, my go-to-meals for breakfast in the morning are usually egg muffins.

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They are easy to make, and packed full of flavor.   I like to make a large batch of egg muffins on Sundays while I am meal prepping for the week.  I portion the egg muffins into ziplock bags and then throw them in the freezer.  During the week, it’s a simple task of me throwing a pre-portioned bag of frozen egg muffins into my lunch bag before I head off to work.

When I get to work, I heat the egg muffins in the microwave in my company’s office (they re-heat really well).  I get several comments from co-workers about how wonderful the eggs muffins smell in the mornings while they are warming up.  Those comments also include strong hints to share my breakfast(which I ignore, because I’m hungry).  I may share my cookies with you, but don’t touch my breakfast 😉

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Although this recipe includes ingredients found as toppings on a supreme pizza, feel free to play around with ingredients and spices.  Try making taco egg muffins by using ground beef, cheddar cheese, taco seasoning, onions and peppers.  I’ve also made egg muffins with baked chicken, bacon, caramelized onions, mozzarella and artichoke.  Those were the bomb!

Please share some go to tips you have for making easy breakfasts during the week,and your favorite egg muffin combinations in the comments below!

Supreme Pizza Egg Muffins

Servings: makes approximately 24


Ingredients:

For the Muffins:

  • 13 eggs
  • 1 pound ground pork sausage
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (canned)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (optional, omit to make dairy-free)
  • 4 ounces pepperoni slices, chopped
  • 4 ounce can portobello mushrooms, drained
  • 2.25 ounce can black olives, drained
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cooking fat

For the Pizza Sauce:

  • 8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 3 ounces of tomato paste (1/2 of a 6 ounce can)
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add sausage to the skillet, and cook until the meat has browned and is in crumbles.
  3. After the sausage has cooked, drain the excess fat (reserving 1 teaspoon), place the sausage in a large bowl and set aside.
  4. Heat 1 teaspoon of fat from sausage over medium-high heat.  Added diced red onion and saute for 5 to 6 minutes.
  5. Add the diced green bell peppers to the skillet and saute with the onions for an additional 3 to 4 minutes.
  6. Remove the skillet from heat, place the peppers and onions in to the bowl with the ground beef, and set aside to cool.
  7. In a small separate bowl, mix together the pizza sauce ingredients thoroughly until completely combined. Set aside.
  8. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the eggs, coconut milk, Italian seasoning, sea salt, garlic powder and ground black pepper.
  9. Once the peppers/onion/sausage mixture has cooled, to the large bowl add chopped pepperoni slices, black olives, portobello mushrooms and 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese and mix together.
  10. Line two 12 serving cupcake pans with liners (or grease the muffin cups with cooking fat).
  11. Fill each cupcake liner half way with the egg/coconut milk mixture, and then fill each liner with approximately 2 tablespoons of the supreme pizza topping mixture.
  12.  Dollop a tablespoon of pizza sauce over each cupcake liner.
  13. Take the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese, and sprinkle a pinch of mozzarella cheese on top of each cupcake liner.
  14. Place the cupcake pans in the oven and bake for approximately 30-35 minutes until firm (a knife inserted into the egg muffins should come out clean), rotating the pans half way through (and also making sure to rotate the pans from top to bottom).
  15. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving.


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Chicken Teriyaki

I was in a deep committed relationship for 11 years.  It had its ups and downs, but overall I was happy.  And then recently, I noticed things weren’t going as well.  There was failure to communicate.  It began to feel like a relationship with lots of stops and starts, and the reliability and consistency wasn’t there anymore.  My family and friends had been begging me for months to let go, but it was hard to give up after investing in the relationship for so long.  However, I eventually made the difficult decision to end it.

After 11 years, I finally decided to trade in my car for a SUV.  It wasn’t an easy decision, and I still miss my old car.  You know what I also miss? Not having car payments :/  However, I do love the knowledge that I have a safe and reliable car!

Before trading in my old car, I went through and cleaned out all junk inside.  It was like a treasure drove in there (actually, more like a junk yard)!  I found at least $3.00 worth of coins.

However, I hit the jackpot when I found my first cell phone from 2002.  I must have been on a roll, because a little later I found the second cell phone I ever owned.

And then I hit it big again when I found my first iphone.

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The all important lesson I learned after cleaning out my old car?  I’m a phone hoarder.  Now you know my deepest darkest secret 😉

This post is all about sharing, and today I’m also sharing with you my recipe for Chicken Teriyaki!

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This meal is packed full of different types of vegetables.  To keep it lower on the carb spectrum, I prepared a side of cauliflower rice to go with the meal, and I was on a veggie cloud 9!

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 I learned a new technique for cooking chicken in a stir-fry that makes the meat tender and moist.  It’s called “velveting” chicken, and involves marinating the chicken in an arrowroot powder/egg wash coating, and then boiling the chicken prior to adding it to the stir-fry. (Detailed instructions for implementing the technique are below).

I would love to read your tried and true techniques for making your favorite stir-fry meals.  Please feel free to share in the comments below!

Chicken Teriyaki

Servings: serves 3-4


Ingredients (Velvet Chicken):

  • 1 pound chicken breast, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 large egg white, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot flour
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Ingredients (Chicken Teriyaki):

  • 4 cups broccoli
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, sliced
  • 2 cups snap peas
  • 4 scallions, sliced thinly
  • 3/4 cup coconut aminos
  • 1/4 cup orange juice, plus the zest of 1/2 an orange
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced plus 2 cloves of garlic, minced, divided
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
  • 4 teaspoons water
  • 2 teaspoons arrowroot powder

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together egg white, arrowroot powder, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, salt and pepper until thoroughly combined.  Then, add the chicken pieces to the mixture and stir to coat.
  2. Marinate chicken in coating for 30 minutes.
  3. While the chicken is marinating, in a medium sized saucepan mix together the coconut aminos, orange juice, orange zest, coconut sugar, honey, 3 cloves of minced garlic, 1 teaspoon ginger and 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil.
  4. Place saucepan on stove over medium high heat, and bring sauce to a boil.
  5. Once the sauce has come to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for 7 to 8 minutes.
  6. While the sauce is simmering, in a small bowl mix together the water and arrowroot powder.
  7. After the sauce has simmered for 7 to 8 minutes, reduce temperature to low and add the arrowroot/water mixture to the saucepan, stirring to incorporate.
  8. Continue to stir the teriyaki sauce for 1 to 2 minutes on low until the teriyaki sauce has thickened.  Once the sauce has  thickened,  remove from heat and set aside.
  9. Take the marinated chicken, and drain any excess coating.
  10. In a large skillet, heat 1 to 2 inches of water and 1 tablespoon of sesame oil over high heat until boiling.
  11. After the water has come to a boil, place the chicken pieces in the water (making sure each piece is fully submerged), and cook for 2 minutes.  If necessary, stir the chicken with a slotted spoon to make sure the pieces don’t stick together.
  12. After 2 minutes, remove chicken from the water with a slotted spoon, drain and set aside.
  13. In a large skillet, heat 1 1/2 teaspoons of sesame oil on medium high heat.  Once the oil is hot, add 2 cloves of minced garlic and 1 teaspoon of ginger, and stir continuously for 10 to 20 seconds.
  14. Add chicken to the garlic/ginger mixture and stir-fry until cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes.
  15. Take the chicken out of the skillet and set aside.
  16. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons of sesame oil on medium high heat.  Once the oil is hot, add the broccoli, red bell pepper, snap peas and onions, and stir-fry for 4 to 5 minutes.
  17. Add the chicken to the vegetables in the skillet, and turn the heat off.
  18. Pour the teriyaki sauce over the chicken and vegetables, and mix together to combine.
  19. Pour the chicken teriyaki into a serving bowl, and sprinkle the scallions on top.
  20. You can serve this meal with cauliflower rice, white rice or even kelp noodles.

 

Notes:

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Paleo Pumpkin Chocolate Layered Bread with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts

It’s pumpkin season ya’ll (yes, I just typed that word), and the interwebs are bursting with recipe after recipe using pumpkin puree, pumpkin spice, and all things pumpkin.  I decided to jump on the bandwagon by creating this Paleo Pumpkin Chocolate Layered Bread with Dark Chocolate Chips and Walnuts.

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Guess what?  I’m always nervous about trying to create a recipe for baked goods.  When making non-baked foods, it’s easy for me to adjust and tweak things to taste during the cooking/ recipe development process.  With baking, I usually have one shot to make things right before it goes into the oven.  After that, I have to start from scratch in order to perfect a recipe after a failed attempt (which can get pricey, especially with the higher cost of Paleo baking supplies).  This first time I made this, it was delicious, but had too much moisture.  It was more like eating bread pudding than a simple loaf of pumpkin bread.

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I tweaked the recipe by substituting different flours, adding additional ingredients, and reducing others.  As past experience, I’ve had to make several batches of some cookies before getting it right (and for one particular recipe, I didn’t get the consistency I wanted even after 5 batches), and I wasn’t sure how many versions of this I would have to make before it came out.  But, as it turns out second time was the charm!

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And now I get to share this recipe with you guys, which I am excited to do.  If you love chocolate and pumpkin (which, if you’ve managed to read this entire blog post, I assume you do 😉 ), you are going to love this recipe.

I have lots of pumpkin puree at my disposal, so if you guys have any requests for recipes using pumpkin (or other fall fruits) please let me know so that I can whip something up to share with you.  Enjoy!

Paleo Pumpkin Chocolate Layered Bread with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts

Servings: makes 12-15


Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/2 cup butter (melted and cooled)
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips plus 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips, divided
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour (sifted)
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tbs coconut oil (to grease the pan)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a 9 x 5 x 3 inch bread pan with coconut oil (you can also use butter), and then line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.
  3. Place 1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips in a small bowl.  Place the bowl in the microwave, and heat on high for 25-30 seconds. Remove bowl from the microwave and stir the dark chocolate chips.  Place the bowl back in the microwave and heat an additional 25-30 seconds.  Continuing the process of heating and stirring the dark chocolate chips until the dark chocolate chips have melted completely.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, add almond flour, tapioca flour, coconut flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, baking powder and sea salt.  Stir to combine.  Set aside
  5. In a separate bowl, add eggs, pumpkin puree, honey and vanilla extract.  Stir to combine.  Then add the melted and cooled butter, and stir to combine.
  6. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients, and stir the mixture thoroughly to combine.
  7. Let the batter sit on the counter for 3-4 minutes (this lets the coconut mixture soak up the moisture).
  8. Measure 1 cup of the batter, and pour it into the small bowl of chocolate.  Mix the batter and chocolate together until fully incorporated.
  9. To the remaining batter, add 1/4 cup of the dark chocolate chips and 1/4 cup chopped walnuts.
  10. Take half of the regular batter, and place it in the bottom of the pan.  Use a spatula to smooth out the batter evenly along the bottom of the pan.
  11. Take half of the chocolate batter, and place it in the bread pan on top of the regular batter.  Use a spatula to smooth out the batter evenly.
  12. Continue layering regular batter and the chocolate batter in the bread pan.
  13. Once you have finished layering the batter, place the bread pan in the preheated oven and bake the bread for 50-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the bread comes out clean.
  14. Once the bread is finished, remove from the oven and let cool on the counter for 5 to 10 minutes before removing the loaf of bread from the bread pan to cool further.
  15. Serve and enjoy!

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Spaghetti Squash with Sun-dried Tomato Basil Walnut Pesto

Sometimes I burn things.  Okay, what you read may have sounded somewhat creepy.  Let me clarify.  To be more specific, sometimes I unintentionally burn the food I’m cooking.  I may leave something on the stove and forget to check it, only to come back later and find said food “cooked” to an inedible crisp.  Or, I may overestimate how long something is suppose to bake, and cook it until its at a point where even my best guy friends won’t touch it.  It’s somewhat frustrating, but comes with the territory, at least in my world.  When I cook something, I look forward to sampling the different food combinations that make up a recipe.  When that meal happens to burn (sometimes a fiery flame of death), my heart hurts, and my soul gets crushed just a little.

On the other hand, I have somewhat of an unlikely love of “burnt” Brussels Sprouts and broccoli.  My favorite part when roasting these vegetables is the little extra crispy bites.  I don’t burn them until they are completely unrecognizable, but the vegetables are usually a lot more crispy then most people prefer.  Therefore, I usually only crisp them up in the comfort of my own home, in a meal that won’t be shared with others (mainly, because I don’t want to share 😉 ).

Why this long talk about burning food?  Well, it gives a little background for last week’s fiasco.  I invited my friend Olivia over for grilled steaks, Brussels Sprouts roasted with chopped bacon, and mashed sweet potatoes.  Olivia asked that her steak be cooked well-done (horrible, I know), which request I fully intended to comply with.  What I failed to realize is that by warming up the grill as the sun was setting, I wouldn’t actually be grilling the steaks until it was night time.  This wouldn’t be a problem, except that I have poor lighting in my backyard.  I wasn’t able to visually check the steaks because of the bad lighting, and they cooked longer than necessary, well past the point of preference for either one of us.

Olivia asked for a well-done steak, but I ended up cooking her steak so long that she couldn’t eat most of it because it was too tough.  It’s a good think she enjoyed the vegetables, because that ended up being the majority of her dinner for the night.

Thankfully, this recipe for Spaghetti Squash with Sun-dried Tomato Basil Walnut Pesto came out great, and no food was harmed in the making of this meal.

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I made chicken to go along with the spaghetti squash using my chicken marinade recipe, and these meal was made to rave reviews.

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Try it out, and let me know what you think in the comments below!

Spaghetti Squash With Sun-dried Tomato Basil Walnut Pesto

Servings: serves 5-6


Ingredients:

  • 1 large Spaghetti Squash
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup shredded Manchego cheese*
  • 1/2 cup raw walnuts
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Chop spaghetti squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds.  Quick tip, to make the spaghetti squash easier to cut, microwave for 1-2 minutes.  This makes the shell a little softer, so that you don’t have to hammer away at it like your hacking down a tree.
  4. Place the spaghetti squash cut side down, and bake in the oven for approximately 40-45 minutes.
  5. Once cooked, take the spaghetti squash out of the oven, flip the halves over and let cool.
  6. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with an S blade, place the basil, sun-dried tomato, manchego cheese, walnuts, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper.
  7. Turn the food processor on, and pulse 5 or 6 times, for 2-3 seconds each time.  Scrap down the sides of the bowl if necessary.
  8. Then turn the food processor on, and while the food processor is running, slowly pour in the extra virgin olive oil and continue running the food processor until the pesto ingredients have fully combined.
  9. Once the spaghetti squash has cooled enough to handle, use a fork to scrap the squash noodles into a large bowl.
  10. Pour the pesto over the spaghetti squash noodles, and stir the  pesto with the squash noodles until fully incorporated.
  11. Plate and enjoy!

 

Notes:

  • You can sub shredded Parmesan cheese for manchego cheese if this type of cheese is difficult to locate, or omit the cheese entirely to make the recipe dairy free and Whole30 friendly.

 


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Sausage Sweet Potato Hash

It seems that over the past couple of months, babies have been everywhere.  I have many friends having babies, friends who are pregnant, and friends who I have diagnosed with baby fever.  This is quite evident at my gym at CrossFit405.  Several of our female coaches, and the wives of our male coaches are pregnant (I think something is in the water, which is why I fill up my water bottle at home before I head to the gym 😉 ).

The first CrossFit405 bundle of joy to arrive was the son of Matthew and Lori Spaid, Gabriel River Spaid (Matthew is one of our coaches at CrossFit405)!

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It’s their first child, and they are completely in love with him (but who wouldn’t be, with such a stinkin’ cute baby?).  Several friends from my gym have volunteered to help out the Spaids by providing home cooked meals during the first couple of weeks while they adjust to parenthood.  The Spaids were open to a variety of meal ideas, but requested that the meals be gluten-free, and have tons of meat and veggies.  When I learned of the type of meals they would enjoy, I knew just the meal to prepare, my Sausage Sweet Potato Hash!  Loaded with tons of protein and veggies, this meal is a clean and healthy dish with loads of flavor.

I brought the meal over to the Spaids on Labor Day, and got to spend time with Lori and her adorable son.

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Now I’m excited to share this dish with you guys!

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This meal is especially great for those off you who are doing a Paleo Challenge, such as the Whole30 or the Lurong Challenge, due to its simplicity, and minimally proceeded ingredients.  I hope you guys enjoy!

Sausage Sweet Potato Hash

Servings: serves 5-6


Ingredients:

For the Sausage

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cooking fat
  • 1 tablespoon sage
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

For the Sweet Potato Hash

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into small cubes
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cooking fat
  • salt and pepper

Instructions:

Sausage

  1. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, ground pork, sage, fennel seeds, sea salt, pepper, thyme, garlic cloves, ground black pepper, and red pepper flakes (if using).
  2. In a large skillet, heat a teaspoon of cooking fat over medium heat (for cooking fat, you can use lard, butter, coconut oil, tallow, etc.).  Once the fat is heated through, add the chopped onion and cook until the onion is translucent, 8-10 minutes.
  3. Once the onion is translucent, added the meat to the pan, and brown the meat over medium heat until cooked through, approximately 15-20 minutes.  Drain excess fat once the meat has been cooked.

 

Sweet Potato Hash

  1. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of cooking fat over medium heat.
  2. Once the oil has been heated, add the sweet potatoes, red bell peppers and green bell peppers to the large skillet.  Cook the vegetables over medium  to medium-low heat, stirring periodically until the vegetables are cooked through, 40-45 minutes.
  3.  Once the vegetables are done cooking, salt and pepper to taste.
  4. After the vegetables have been cooked, pour the sausage and veggie mixture into a large bowl, and stir to combine.
  5. Sprinkle  thinly sliced scallions on top of the  sausage sweet potato has before serving.

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Peppermint Chocolate Coconut Cashew Butter (Tastes like Thin Mint cookies in a jar!)

Creating recipes to share on this blog is fun, and I’ve got some great recipes to share with you guys in the coming weeks.  I’m excited to share the yummy creations I’ve been whipping up in the kitchen.

A lot of the recipes I create make several servings, and there is no way that I can polish them off by myself (especially the dessert/treat recipes).  What’s a girl to do?  Thankfully, I have an amazing group of friends at my local crossfit box in Oklahoma City, CrossFit405, who help me polish off my creations.

I’ve been doing CrossFit for about 3 years, and I love the way it makes me feel.  I love lifting heavy, and hitting PRs (personal records).  I go to the 5:30 a.m. class during the week.  Getting up that early is hard, but knowing I have a group of friends who are there to motivate and encourage me really helps!  The ladies of 405 have become some of my best friends.

We hang out together:

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work out together:

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and attend local competitions together – even on different teams we cheer and encourage one another.

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These ladies have been generous enough to volunteer to be by recipe testers 😉  Their opinions mean a lot to me, since I don’t want to share something on this blog that I’m not 100% confident in.  I want you readers to feel comfort in knowing that several of these recipes are extensively tested, and given the thumbs up by several of these beautiful ladies.  I think your taste buds will be just as happy as theirs were when you sample this Peppermint Chocolate Coconut Cashew Butter, which I think tastes like Thin Mint cookies in a jar!

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Peppermint Chocolate Coconut Cashew Butter (Tastes like Thin Mint cookies in a jar!)


Ingredients:

  • 3 cups unsweetened coconut chips
  • 2 cup roasted cashews
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips (I used enjoy life brand)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon peppermint oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:

  1. Add all of the ingredients to the bowl of the food processor,  Using an S blade, turn the food processor on and process all of the ingredients together until it forms a creamy butter spread, approximately 8-10 minutes.  You may need to scrape the sides of the food processor every 2-3 minutes.  If you want the mixture to be very smooth, continue processing the mixture another 5-7 minutes until it reaches your desired consistency.
  2. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 weeks.

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Do you have people that motivate and encourage you to workout and stay healthy?  I’d love to read about it in the comments section.  If you try this recipe, let me know what you think!


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Balsamic Vinegar Glazed Caramelized Onion, Bacon and Goat Cheese Quiche

There are certain foods that I really love.  If you have been reading my blog for a while, you already know about my love of roasted Brussels sprouts.  However, I promise not wax eloquently about those crunchy bits of roasted deliciousness.  These favored foods always seem to end up in my recipes, even when I try to break it up and try something new (if you haven’t figured it out already, bacon will be featured heavily in this blog 😉 ).

But this time, I decided to put all of the things I love into one dish, just to see what would happen.  The results are magical!

For this recipe, you’ll need to start with a pre-made pie crust.  I prepared a pastry crust from Danielle Walker’s cookbook Against All Grain. It’s very simple to make, and the pastry crust can be used for both savory and sweet dishes.  If you don’t have this book already, I highly recommend you get it!  It’s packed with tons of great recipes, and you really can’t go wrong with the wide variety of recipes her cookbook has to offer.

However, if you don’t have access to that particular recipe, there are tons of great gluten-free/grain-free pie crust options on-line (check out a  pie crust from the Elena’s Pantry here).

You’ll also need the following: 8 eggs, one large onion, 4-6 slices bacon, 3/4 cup coconut milk, 2 oz goat cheese (chopped), 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 1/2 tablespoon butter, 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, 2 teaspoons dried thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper (if you want to skip past the step-by-step instructions and get to the good part, feel free to scroll to the bottom!).

Begin by preheating a large skillet over medium heat, and then adding in 1/2 tablespoon of butter and 1/2 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.  While the butter/oil mixture is heating up, chop the onion in half and remove the skin.  Then shop each half of the onion into thin slices.

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Spread the onion slices onto the preheated skillet, and stir until the slices are evenly coated with the butter/oil mixture.  Continue  stirring regularly for 5 to 10 minutes until the onions begin to soften.

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Then, turn the heat to low, and continue to cook the onions, stirring every few minutes.  The onions will begin to brown.

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It will take sometime to caramelize the onion (about 45-55 minutes), so you’ll have to be patient.  But trust me, it’s worth it.  After the onions have finished caramelizing, stir in one tablespoon of balsamic vinegar into the caramelized onions, and continue cooking the onions for 3-5 more minutes at low heat (along with adding a subtly sweet flavor to the dish, this also helps to deglaze the skillet).  Remove from heat and scoop the caramelized onions into a small bowl.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Wipe down the skillet and return it  to the stove.  Using medium to low heat, cook 4-6 slices of bacon in the skillet until cooked through to desired texture (I cooked my bacon until it was on the verge of being crispy).

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Once the bacon has cooked, set the bacon slices on paper towels to drain.  After the bacon has been drained, chop the bacon into small pieces.

In the bottom of the  pre-made pie crust, add the caramelized onions.  Then add the chopped bacon.  Finally, sprinkle on the goat cheese.

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In a large bowl, whisk together 8 eggs, 2 teaspoons thyme, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Add the coconut milk to the egg mixture, and whisk further to combine.  Pour the egg/coconut mixture into the pie pan over the onion/bacon/goat cheese mixture.

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Place the dish in the middle of the oven, and bake until firm, approximately 40- 50 minutes.  Once it is done, take out of the oven and let cool before serving.

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I’ve made this recipe several times, and it never fails to please.  If you want to take the recipe up a notch, try adding 1 head of roasted garlic.  It adds a unique flavor, without being too overpowering.

Balsamic Vinegar Glazed Caramelized Onion, Bacon and Goat Cheese Quiche

Servings: serves 6-8


Ingredients:

  • pre-made pie crust
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 4-6 slices bacon
  • 2 oz goat cheese (chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • one head roasted garlic, mashed (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat a large skillet over medium heat
  2. Add a 1/2 tablespoon of butter and 1/2 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to the skillet.
  3. While the butter/oil mixture is heating up, chop the onion in half and remove the skin.  Then shop each half of the onion into thin slices.
  4. Spread the onion slices onto the preheated skillet, and stir until the slices are evenly coated with the butter/oil mixture.  Continue to stir regularly for 5 to 10 minutes until the onions begin to soften.
  5. Then, turn the heat to low, and continue to cook the onions, stirring every few minutes.  The onions will begin to brown
  6. It will take sometime to caramelize the onion (about 45-55 minutes).
  7. After the onions have finished caramelizing, stir in one tablespoon of balsamic vinegar into the caramelized onions, and continue cooking the onions for 3-5 more minutes at low heat.  Remove from heat and scoop the caramelized onions into a small bowl.
  8. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  9. Wipe down the skillet and return it  to the stove.  Using medium to low heat, cook 4-6 slices of bacon in the skillet until cooked through to desired texture (I cooked my bacon until it was on the verge of being crispy).
  10. Once the bacon has cooked, set the bacon slices on paper towels to drain.  Then chop the bacon into small pieces.
  11. Spread the caramelized onions along the bottom of the pre-made pie crust.  Then add the chopped bacon and goat cheese.
  12. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, thyme, salt and pepper (if using roasted garlic, mix together with the eggs at this time).
  13. Add the coconut milk to the egg mixture, and whisk further to combine.
  14. Pour the egg/coconut mixture into the pie pan over the pie filling.
  15. Place the dish in the middle of the oven, and bake until firm, approximately 40- 50 minutes.  Once it is done, take out of the oven and let cool before serving.

I’d love to know your thoughts if you try this recipe.   Feel free to comment below!


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Sweet and Salty Balsamic Chicken Marinade

I have a secret.  It’s not really a well kept secret (does that still make it a secret?), but I like to think I’m somewhat discreet about it. Actually, to be honest, it’s not really a secret.  When I say discreet, I really mean posting multiple pictures on Facebook and Instagram about it.  Okay, I’m blathering on.  Want to know what it is?

I have an addiction to kitchen appliances.  If it’s shiny, metallic, sharp, and can be used in the kitchen, I want it.  If it has a motor and needs to be plugged in, I want it even more.  I’m not going to admit exactly what gadgets I have (no need to face my addiction head on), but I will tell you that many kitchen drawers that were empty when I moved into my house last year have now been filled with new finds.

Here is a real secret, one I’m sure you can figure out pretty easily.  I don’t use all my kitchen appliances.  It’s kind of like that new shirt you thought you wanted, and then bought it and wore it a couple of times, only to relegate it to the back of your closet. That’s kind of how it was with one of my biggest purchases, an outdoor grill.  I spent months saving money, reading reviews, and researching the best grill to buy within my budget.  After I made my decision, I “volunteered” one of my friends to help me pick it up.  After I got it home, I then proceeded to let it sit in my backyard for several months without use.

I only ever used it when my friends came over to grill, and then someone else was always the one doing the grilling.  However, after visiting my family in Houston over Memorial Day weekend, and enjoying the yummy goodness my dad grilled for the family, I decided to utilize my grill more frequently, with pretty spectacular results.

One of my favorite things to grill this summer has been marinated chicken thighs.  They are flavorful, and the meat stays tender and retains its moister longer than white meat, even if you have the unfortunate experience of cooking them a little longer than intended (which I have a habit of doing).

I have created a marinade for chicken that is packed with different flavors, and the salty and sweet combination is sure to make your taste buds happy.  I hope you enjoy!

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Sweet and Salty Balsamic Chicken Marinade

Servings: serves 4-6


Ingredients:

  • approximately 2 pounds of skinless boneless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut aminos
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
  • 3 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients other than the chicken in a large bowl, and whisk to combine.
  2. Place the chicken thighs in a resealable bag.  Pour the marinade over the chicken thighs to coat.
  3. Remove as much air from the bag as possible before sealing the bag closed.
  4. Marinate the chicken thighs for at least one hour in the fridge (can marinate overnight).
  5. Once you are ready to cook the chicken, preheat the grill.
  6. Once the grill is preheated, reduce the heat to medium low, and place the chicken thighs on the grill.  Cook the chicken thighs approximately 10 to 12 minutes on each side until cooked through (the chicken should reach an internal temperature of about 180 degrees).
  7. Remove from grill and serve.

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