Sunday, December 26, 2010

Menu Plan, Christmas to New Years Week Edition

We had a blessedly full marathon week. Fun with family, open presents, eat delicous food, repeat as necessary. And oh, did we repeat. Giftwise, I made out well in the kitchen appliances department - besides the aforementioned gift of a new toaster oven, I also received an ice cream maker and an immersion blender! I foresee a good deal of minimally-sweetened ice cream and creamy blended veggie soups in my future, once I get over the learning curve of using these.

Also a delightful surprise on Christmas, from my sister-in-law: A Vosges (= la-tee-dah French chocolate, pronounced vohzh) bar with itty bitty bits of bacon throughout. Unspeakably delicious.

The Sears oven repairman should be here tomorrow to install the new part that he ordered, so after three weeks without a functioning full size oven, I will be so grateful to be (hopefully!) roasting and baking again.

Having already practically maxed our food budget for the month, I look forward to eating as many leftovers and eggs as possible before I find myself in the position of having to grocery shop. Might even make it all the way to New Year's Day if we apply ourselves.

Breakfast - Toasted leftover Grain-Free Savory Country Biscuits via Life As A Plate, to mop up the runny yolks from some fried eggs. Very much recommend this biscuit recipe if you're looking for a savory bun/biscuit with a lot of flavor! (Thanks, AndreAnna!!)
Lunch - Leftover beef roast from my mother-in-law's Christmas dinner, soft-cooked carrots, leftover mashed potatoes from my mom
Dinner - Leftover slow-cooked chicken from Christmas Eve, in chicken salad form. Steamed artichokes with salted Kerrygold butter to dip. Clementines for dessert.

Breakfast - Mashed boiled eggs with Kerrygold butter
Lunch - Sauteed kale with bacon
Dinner - Cheesy spinach bacon dip (leftover from Christmas Day), rewarmed in a functioning oven, served with flax crackers.

Breakfast - Warm banana pudding
Lunch - Chicken soup with shallots and ginger
Dinner - Bacon and fried eggs

Breakfast - Omelette made with leftover cheese plate cheese and leftover veggie plate fresh cut peppers
Lunch - Any remaining leftovers, whatever form they may take
Dinner - Spaghetti squash with meaty marinara

Breakfast - Fried eggs and hash browns
Lunch - Creamy curried pumpkin soup, coconut bread for dipping
Dinner - Thawed/warmed cheesy chicken potato soup, leftover and subsequently frozen from Christmas Eve, plus more coconut bread for dipping

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Eve Dinner - Prep for Cheesy Chicken and Potato Soup

As I type this, the remains of a mirepoix simmer on the stove. The rest of the mirepoix has been ladeled over 3 chickens in 2 crockpots to cook on low overnight.

I'm adapting my mother-in-law's family tradition of potato soup at Christmastime. The original recipe, from her mother, called for skim milk and an irrational quantity of non-dairy creamer, which - you guessed it - is loaded with hydrogenated oils. In place of the skim and the non-dairy creamer, I'll use one or both of organic whole milk and/or organic heavy whipping cream.

The one neolithic ingredient of the soup that I'm willing to keep, especially since this recipe is a once-a-year thing, are cheese singles. In my mother-in-law's potato soup making heydey, she probably used Kraft; I'll be using Horizon organic singles for their stripped down ingredient list and smooth meltability.

For the mirepoix, I simmered salted Kerrygold butter, diced celery, diced white onions, diced carrots, halved mushrooms, minced parsley, and minced chives. Are you supposed to slow cook parsley and/or chives? I'm not sure, but I had a load of these fresh on hand because tomorrow I'm making AndreAnna's Grain-Free Savory Country Biscuits and at my grocery store you must buy about 10 times as much of the fresh parsley and chives as I'm planning to use in the biscuits. My extra bits of fresh celery and parsley have gone into a freezer bag for a future batch of broth or stock (see tips on making your own broth and stock here, and also here).

So, the to-do list for tomorrow, before we feed a crowd of 8 adults and 2 children dinner:
  • Grain-Free Savory Country Biscuits - in my convection toaster oven, the Christmas gift from my generous parents
  • Finish the Cheesy Chicken and Potato Soup - Remove 3 cooked chickens from the crockpots. Tear off the slow-cooked chicken meat into hearty chunks, add back into the broth in the crock pots. Add 1/2" cubes of potatoes to slow cook for a few hours more. Just before serving, add singles and stir to melt, along with by any cream or milk necessary.
I emailed tomorrow night's guests shamelessly soliciting primal-compatible indulgences for dessert and they gladly delivered, so dessert will be: nuts, chocolate, clementines. Yay for crockpot cooking and crowdsourcing making a (more or less) primal Christmas Eve a simpler task!

How are YOU adapting your Christmas Eve and Christmas Day celebration food to be more paleo / primal / gluten free / grain free / sugar free? If you're blogging about your adaptations, feel free to add your link!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Menu Plan, Christmas Week Edition

My oven is still (sob) out. A part had to be ordered which will be here - and thus the oven fixed - well after Christmas Day. I have been dying not being able to roast my veggies and meats because slow roasting is my go-to technique for surviving dinner planning with two kids under 3 underfoot.

But then a wonderful thing happened today. My mom and dad surprised us a week early with a Christmas gift: A rockin' toaster oven! It is roomy and has all sorts of fun functions, but most importantly I can do the cooking and baking that I planned to do this week! Since I'm hosting family Christmas Eve, it is such a relief to not have to totally revamp the menu to a crock-pot and stovetop only scenario. (I do have an old and rather small toaster oven, which will now be put out to pasture.) Thanks, Mom and Dad!

So here's the menu plan for this week.

Breakfast - Warm banana pudding topped with chopped walnuts
Lunch - Sliced cheese, cherries, fried eggs
Dinner - Beef pot roast, potatoes, veggies

Breakfast - Cottage cheese, fried cinnamon apples
Lunch - Leftover beef pot roast and veggies
Dinner - Cheddar and bacon quiche

Breakfast - Scrambled cheesy eggs
Lunch - Probably with friends at their house
Dinner - Baked chicken tenderloins, salad

Breakfast - Sausage, cheese, bananas for the girls
Lunch - Mashed boiled eggs, wasabi asparagus
Dinner - Spaghetti squash with meaty marinara

Friday/Christmas Eve:
Breakfast - Omelettes
Lunch - Yoghurt with honey, liverwurst, veggie sticks
Dinner - Chickens slow-cooked in the crock pot with vegetables, toaster oven baked sweet potatoes, Clementines, and my mom's bringing (gluten-free) peppermint meringues for a special treat

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Kerrygold (Pastured) Butter v. Organic Grain-Fed Butter

Pic not edited for color or contrast.

I had a little each of Kerrygold (which is from pastured cows) and organic butter (from grain-fed cows) which I had been integrating into the sweet potatoes that I brought for Thanksgiving. Look how the Kerrygold is practically glowing, nay, bioluminescent with the beta carotene and the fat-soluble goodness that comes from pastured cattle's cream. Meanwhile the grain-fed sample, quite literally, pales in comparison.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Menu Plan: A Chocolate / Coffee Abstention

I have some loooong overdue dental work coming up in a couple of weeks. Basically some bonds that had aged need to be replaced, but guess what? Once a bond is set in your mouth, it has a 5 year life, more or less. Whatever color the dentist chooses for your bond, therefore, is the brightest possible color that bond is destined to be for 5 years, because you cannot "tooth whiten" the composite used for bonds (as I understand it, the same composite used to make white fillings). Ironically, bonds can stain slowly with time (as with coffee, wine, etc.), but there's no simple way to whiten a bond short of replacing it. This means that if I whitened my teeth with one of those commercial kits sold at, say, Target, I'd have some whiter teeth - but the bonds would stay their original color and stick out like sore thumbs.

So, all that said, I took the opportunity and the offer from my dentist of a free tooth whitening before I get the new bonds installed. Do you know what this means? It means, for the next two weeks:
  • Nothing that stains teeth. No coffee, no red wine, no dark teas, no chocolate. While, amazingly, I have a hard time considering abstaining from these just for the fact that I maybe should not be having them every day - I have no problem with the idea of abstaining for a two week period while my teeth are being whitened. I am not going to mess up the 5 years that I'll be wearing these soon-to-be installed new bonds - and so am going for optimum results.
  • I have these custom-molded trays in my mouth for a minimum of 4-6 hours each evening (or overnight). So basically, as soon as my husband arrives home and we get the girls in bed, I'm wearing this fabulous-looking implement for the entire evening...for the next two weeks.
Ergo, my biggest vices (coffee with heavy creamer, and dark chocolate) are off the menu for two weeks, as is polite evening conversation with my husband. I know, I know: who has the bright idea to schedule this kind of scenario in the two weeks before Christmas? But truth was: it was the only time that it could happen - and it just may save me some carbs and calories, maybe even more this time of year than other times.

(This doesn't really affect my general menu plan for the week. It does, however, give you an idea if you've been trying to shake a chocolate bender for a while: set yourself up for some expensive long-term-implications dental work that involves a couple of weeks of tooth whitening prep.)

And, by the way: my oven is still kaput, at least for the next week. Crockpot and stovetop cooking are the name of the game.

Here's the menu plan for the week:

Breakfast - Bananas, whole milk
Lunch - Eggs and bacon
Dinner - Crock pot tamari chicken thighs (Nature's Promise chicken drumsticks and thighs on sale at Giant this week)

Breakfast - Stir-fried bok choy, mashed boiled eggs
Lunch - Intermittent fast, perhaps
Dinner - Crock pot garlic ginger pork loin (pork loin's on sale at Giant) with cabbage and leeks

Breakfast - Banana cinnamon whole milk yoghurt smoothie (maybe with some whey protein in my case)
Lunch - Veggie soup with leftover pork loin, maybe seasoned with some star anise
Dinner - NY Strip (on sale at Giant this week), cut into pieces, marinated, stir-fried on the stovetop, topped with gorgonzola and tossed on a salad

Breakfast - Persimmons slow-cooked overnight in the crockpot, topped with autumn spices and Kerrygold and/or heavy cream (Persimmons are on sale at Giant this week!), prosciutto
Lunch - Scrambled eggs with gorgonzola
Dinner - Leftovers, whatever they may be

Breakfast - Cheese, sliced apples and almond butter
Lunch - Curried pumpkin soup
Dinner - Maybe out somewhere, like a Chipotle steak salad bol, or a bunless Five Guys burger? In any case it will result in meat and veggies, most likely :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Lunchbox #35

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Leftover creamy tomatoes and squash, with slices of nitrate-free ham
  • Clementine
  • Baby carrots

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Lunchbox #34

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Caprese salad: halved cherry tomatoes, rBGH free mozzarella
  • Fried egg (in pieces)
  • Almond butter (for apple dipping)
  • Laughing Cow cheese
  • Apple slices

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Oven OUT

Last night my oven's heating element suddenly pooped out. Wow, that throws my oven-oriented winter menus for a loop! I haven't figured out what I'm doing menu-wise yet this week (and it is driving me a little crazy...). Suddenly I have to contemplate some more stove-top friendly meals because I'm not efficient enough to get my crockpot cleaned out every night of the week. :)

Lunchbox #33

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Leftover roast chicken
  • Leftover mashed sweet potatoes with cinnamon
  • Ghirardelli chocolate
  • Leftover roasted Brussels sprouts
  • Caprese salad: halved cherry tomatoes, rBGH free mozzarella, fresh basil

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Primal / Paleo Grain-Free Gluten-Free Birthday Party Menu (That Even NonPrimal NonPaleo Company Enjoyed!)

See notes on this cake and The Food Lovers' Primal Palate recipe link here.
We recently hosted a first birthday party for my youngest daughter. Definitely wasn't a low-carb party, but it was still grain-free and there were plenty of low-carb options. We even had a guest from out of town who also eats to manage insulin, and she and I commiserated a bit about our long-term dynamics with avoiding wheat and sugar because of how they affect us physiologically and psychologically - refreshing for me because sometimes, a face-to-face chat with another living breathing human who attests to similar experiences gives me renewed resolve. We even talked almond butter and I sent her home with a single serving packet of Justin's Classic Almond Butter.

Here's the scoop on what was on the menu when we celebrated:

Caprese Skewers: I dreamt these up (though I'm sure they've been "done" in multiple iterations before). They are terrific eye-candy on a spread for company because of the multicolor/multitexture appeal. Take one cherry tomato (I had both red and yellow cherry tomatoes), skewer on a toothpick, top with a thumbprint-sized piece of fresh basil and a chunk of fresh mozzarella.

Crustless Quiches: Pick your "elements". Could be sauteed onions and/or peppers, sausage, bacon, shredded or raw cheeses. (I did sausage, bacon, and cheese.) Grease 12 paper cupcake liners with spray olive oil. Place 1-2 tablespoons of elements in the bottom of cupcake liners. Mix 1 cup of dairy (my choice is heavy cream) with 6 eggs and seasonings of choice (I used 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. ground nutmeg, and 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning mix). Pour egg/cream mix over elements in the cupcake liners. Bake for ~35 minutes at 350 F. Can be served chilled or at room temp.

Veggie Tray: Bought at Sam's. Carrots, cauliflower, baby peppers, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, ranch dip. Took out of container and put into fancier dishes. 'Nuff said.

Pistachios: Yum.

Almond-stuffed Dates: Exactly what they sound like. A quickly-assembled crowd-pleaser.

Individually-Wrapped Ghirardelli Chocolates, including Dark: Ditto to almond-stuffed dates.

A Dark Chocolate Fountain: Fuelled with Ghirardelli bittersweet and Enjoy Life semisweet (allergen-free) chips, pastured butter, and Nutiva coconut oil all melted together. For dipping:
  • Clementines
  • Honeydew Melon
  • Strawberries
  • Blackberries
Brussels Sprout Pops: Recipe here. Love these 'cause they're not heavily time-dependent because of slow-roasting in the oven. They are ready when you are!

Spiral-sliced Ham: Brought by my parents. Thanks, Mom & Dad! :)

And of course, the above pictured coconut flour based chocolate cake, courtesy of The Food Lovers' Primal Palate, along with some vanilla ice-cream. This cake garnered many compliments! (Thanks, Hayley and Bill!) I think many folks never even suspected that it didn't involve wheat. I made two of this recipe's double-layer cakes to feed our crowd of 23, but ended up with about three quarters of one cake left over. It is so rich and satisfying - even a small slice really hits the spot!

But, ack: We had forgotten about the shrimp cocktail tray that we had left to stay cool in the fridge! Oh, well. :)

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. Thanks for supporting Primal Kitchen at no additional cost to you!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Lunchboxes #30, #31, and #32

Good gravy, this is kind of embarassing.
I had to photo the lunchboxes this week using my Droid's camera because my Canon SLR's memory card is full after months of pictures - and I haven't yet archived them in my backup storage, so I hate to delete.

So, I thank you in advance for your tolerance of the bad lighting and lower picture quality. On the other hand, maybe it will make future SLR shots look that much better. :)

Tuesday, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • 2 Clementines
  • 2 slices cheddar
  • Leftover roast duck
  • Cottage cheese
  • Baby carrots

Wednesday, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Leftover spaghetti squash with ground beef and Trader Joe's organic vodka sauce
  • Apple (halved)
  • After Eight dinner mint

Thursday, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Baby carrots
  • 2 slices cheddar
  • Almonds, After Eight dinner mint
  • Half apple
  • Sliced avocado, which I nearly accidentally killed myself slicing, and which she did not eat. (Sigh.)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Menu Plan, and First Time Roasting Duck!

I didn't have plans to go to Whole Foods on Monday, but it happened - because I made an unexpected trip about 45 minutes away for another errand, and why pass up the chance when Whole Foods is right there and there isn't one near home?

I was perusing the meats and poultry when I came across fresh duck! Remembering a recent Mark's Daily Apple post on roasting duck with a honey tamari sauce, I picked one up on the fly. Turns out, this was a very simple process, one I'll definitely repeat.

First, I Googled, "How to Roast a Duck", and the very first results, a detail and picture-filled tutorial from The Amateur Gourmet, were a good starting point for me. I scored the fat on the duck on each side (used a basic steak knife to cut cross-shaped marks in the fat). Then, I used my mini food chopper (~$10 at WalMart) to blend honey, tamari, and a bit of juice from a Clementine. (I didn't copy the MDA recipe but I liked the general flavor profile so it was good inspiration.) I poured about 1/3 of the sauce over the duck on a roasting pan, roasted it for an hour at 300 F, flipped the duck, poured another 1/3 of the sauce, roasted another hour, flipped and added the rest of the sauce, roasted another half hour, and then broiled at 450 for 5 minutes to get the skin dark and crispy.

So in all: 2.5 hours total roasting time, flipping and saucing the duck every hour, plus 5 minutes broiling at the end. A very hands-off dish, and for a dark meat poultry lover like me, absolutely terrific final results. I used some of the duck drippings to roast some home fries that went into my husband's lunch today, and he pronounced them delicious when I happened to call while he was eating.

Here's the rest of the scoop on this week's menu plan. I'm trying to get the carbs lower because it feels like Thanksgiving has sent me on a bit carb craving roller coaster lately, and I'd like get more of a handle on the cravings.

Breakfast - Fried eggs, bananas for the girls
Lunch - Leftover grass fed ground beef with Trader Joe's organic vodka sauce
Dinner - Baked chicken, sweet potatoes (I may skip the sweet potatoes)

Breakfast - Almond butter cinnamon smoothie
Lunch - Maybe intermittent fast?
Dinner - Creamy tarragon asparagus soup, bacon on the side

Breakfast - Mashed boiled eggs, "egg nog" (this is really just a shot of heavy cream with some nutmeg sprinkled on top)
Lunch - Veggie soup with bacon
Dinner - Beef in the crock pot

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Primal Menu Plan, Thanksgiving Week Edition, Plus a Bonus Basic Mashed Sweet Potato Recipe

This is the first year since my husband and I married that we've ended up doing two different Thanksgiving celebrations - one this past weekend with my inlaws, and the other tomorrow at my brother and sister-in-law's place.

Believe it or not, one of my biggest weaknesses this time of year is a Clementine. (OK; not a - singular - Clementine, but rather mini binges of a few at a time...) Yes, despite the cookies, pies, cakes, candies, etc. floating around, instead I am more strongly called to the small sweet citrus fruits that sell 5 lb. for around four and a half bucks. For 7.5 grams of carbohydrates, I could have a few squares of Green & Black's 85% chocolate, or a Clementine, but it's a tough call. And this week, they went on sale for the first time at Giant, so if my weight loss stalls through till January (and there is a pile of Clementine crates that are stacked in the trash at the end of the driveway), I know exactly what to blame.

For the Thanksgiving celebrations on Thursday at my brother's place, we are contributing Sauteed Kale with Bacon and Mushrooms and Bill's Chiffon Pumpkin Pie from The Food Lovers' Primal Palate.

Also: mashed sweet potatoes. I volunteered to tackle the sweet potatoes because a) sweet potatoes I can eat! and b) the typical American way with them involves marshmallows and sometimes even a flour-based crust on top, which to me detract entirely from the goodness and flavor of the potatoes themselves. So mine will be basic and less inclined to skyrocket my postprandial blood glucose:
  • Bake'em 'til they're soft. (About an hour and a half or more.)
  • Peel.
  • Mash with butter. (I'll use Kerrygold.)
  • Season with: ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, ground cardamom, ground nutmeg.
  • Top with finely chopped nuts (toasted, if desired).
I have a few other ideas for things to bring, but it'll depend on how much time I have this week. But in the meantime until Thursday, the meals will be kept simple.

Breakfast - Leftover home fries, other leftovers
Lunch - Turkey veggie soup (using leftover turkey from this past weekend)
Dinner - Chicken roasted with tamari
Breakfast - Eggs scrambled with Kerrygold Ballyshannon cheddar, Clementines
Lunch - Chipotle (For me: a steak salad bol with guacamole...mmm! What a treat!)
Dinner - Leftovers
Breakfast - Cottage cheese and banana pudding
Lunch - Leftovers
Dinner - Steaks

Thanksgiving!! Happy Thanksgiving to one and all. :)
Leftovers, essentially. :)

One Preschool Lunch This Week:
Lunchbox #29: Finger foods: Clementines, cheese, leftover chicken, baby carrots

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Lunchbox #29

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • 2 Clementines
  • Kerrygold Ballyshannon cheddar
  • Leftover roast chicken
  • Baby carrots

Monday, November 22, 2010

Star Anise Bacon Soup

If you are a fan of pho and its complex licorice-y broth, you would enjoy giving this quickly-assembled soup a try. I like the bacon a little more tender and wilty than crisp in this case; if you like it crisp you should cook it as directed, then remove the bacon before adding the onions, and add the bacon back into the bowls right at the end when serving the soup.

Star Anise Bacon Soup
Serves 3-4

1-2 tbsp. butter (I used unsalted Kerrygold)
12 oz. bacon, cut into 1/2" pieces (I used kitchen shears to shortcut this)
1/2 - 1 c. onions (I used leeks and shallots here)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 bag cole slaw veggie mix (just shredded cabbage and carrots - no dressing!)
1/2 tsp. black pepper
5-6 dried star anise stars (mine came from the local international grocery store; see collage pic above)
2 c. or more other vegetables (I used 1 zucchini and 1 box of mushrooms here)
3 c. water
Salt or tamari to taste, if desired

To a large soup pot on high heat, add butter, bacon, onions, garlic powder, and ginger. Stir continuously until onions sizzle and turn translucent. Add cole slaw mix, black pepper, star anise stars, and continue to stir for about 2 more minutes. Add water and other vegetables, and cook an additional 10-15 minutes, or until all vegetables are tender. Pick out star anise stars, and serve hot.

Disclosure: This post contains an Amazon affiliate link. Thanks for supporting Primal Kitchen at no additional cost to you!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Early Primal / Paleo Thanksgiving with the Inlaws

We had an early Thanksgiving with my inlaws this weekend before they head out of state to spend actual Thanksgiving with family. The meal was primal and dee-licious. My mother-in-law graciously sought out appetizers that I could also enjoy - like bacon-wrapped scallops and shrimp cocktail. Also on the menu?
  • The turkey, basted in butter and broth
  • Roasted asparagus
  • Roasted Brussels sprouts
  • Tossed salad
  • Mashed sweet potatoes topped with walnuts
And a gorgeous jewel-toned fruit salad for dessert:

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Brussels Sprout Pops

In my experience with nonprimal friends and family, even those who haven't warmed to Brussels sprouts in the past, one introduction to these babies and they'll be singing a different tune. Gone is the strong taste - the slow roasting makes them soft and mellow, crispy on the outside, and buttery and yielding on the inside. The toothpick convenience and nonprecision of the cooking time makes them a unexpectedly party-compatible appetizer.

Brussels Sprout Pops
Makes 20-30, depending on the size of your stalk

1 stalk Brussels sprouts (or buy 20-30 in a container if that's how they're sold at your grocer)
Butter to coat (I used 4 tablespoons salted)
Generous dash garlic powder, to coat

Wash stalk of sprouts, and then snap sprouts off of stalk into a large bowl. Melt butter with garlic powder, and then pour it over the sprouts. Stir vigorously to ensure that the butter mix fully coats the sprouts. Spread sprouts in a shallow baking pan and roast at 400 degrees for at least an hour (an hour and a half is better), until dark and crispy on the outside and very tender in the middle. Stick one toothpick in each sprout and serve immediately.


Disclosure: This post contains an Amazon affiliate link. Thanks for supporting Primal Kitchen at no additional cost to you!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Smoky Autumn Beef Brisket Soup

This soup came about early last week for a lunch after I realized that not only did we come home from our weekend trip with an abundance of my parents' produce, but also to some leftover beef brisket in the fridge. It also kicked off a soup streak for me this week - you'll see bacon-based clear broth variation later this week, as well.

Smoky Autumn Beef Brisket Soup
Serves 3-4

1 lb. or more slow-cooked beef brisket (leftovers work really well in this case!)
At least 1 c. of diced onions - you may use yellow or white onions, or scallions, leeks, shallots, etc. or any combination
(The above pictured soup had diced white onions and leeks)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1-2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses (optional, but adds the smoky depth)
At least 2 c. of other diced vegetables (Above shows 1 sliced zucchini and 1 box - 8 oz. - sliced mushrooms.)
1 standard can (~14/15 oz.) pureed pumpkin, plus 1 can's worth of water
1/2 c. heavy cream
Tamari, to garnish

In a large soup pot, combine beef, butter, onions, and garlic powder, and heat on high, stirring constantly, until onions are sizzling and turning translucent. Add molasses, and stir to combine over high heat as the onions caramelize. Add vegetables, stirring continuously for about 2 minutes, and then add water, heavy cream, and canned pumpkin. Turn heat to low, allow to simmer about 10-15 minutes or until vegetables are tender, and then serve hot, with tamari to season.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lunchbox #28

Today my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Fruit salad of blueberries, raspberries, and diced pears
  • 2 slices mozzarella cheese
  • Banana pudding, chilled
  • Slices cucumber and slices of green pepper

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Lunchbox #27

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Leftover Smoky Autumn Beef Brisket Soup (liquid drained away)
  • Trail mix - nuts and dried fruit
  • Baby carrots and Kerrygold Ballyshannon cheddar
  • Cucumbers and yoghurt dip

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Sample from Crisco

I keep up with a series of money-saving blogs, and frequently sign up for freebies via the deals announced by these blogs. As a way to track my freebies' origins (and the origins of any spam/junk mail that unintentionally results), I usually sign up for a freebie using the name Valued*nameofgiveaway* Customer. But of course, these freebies and samples often take weeks, even months to arrive. So you can imagine my surprise when I opened my mailbox and found a packet addressed to:

Valuedfreecrisco Customer

Crisco!? I went primal in June; how could it have been that I had signed up for Crisco? Then it all came clear:

Who's da widdle boddle of owive oil?

Seriously, though: I have a terminal weakness for miniaturized versions of things, and this teensy weensy sample of extra virgin olive oil is perfect for me to stow in my diaper bag or purse - like the times when I'm stuck in a restaurant like Panera and a naked Greek salad is the only primal offering. Mix the olive oil with a to-go packet of tamari and BAM! A little spontaneous creation of sugar-free salad dressing to add some satiety factor. Just wish that I could get about 100 of these sample-sized oil bottles, in various types - avocado oil, macadamia oil, etc.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Menu Plan, Pre-Primal / Paleo Thanksgiving Leftovers Edition

I had a sort of a wacky idea tonight. We're heading to a relatives' house for Thanksgiving dinner later this month, so I'm not anticipating a lot of leftover turkey (or any leftovers, really) coming out of that evening. But turkey is so CHEAP right now; $0.47/lb. at Giant! And why is it precisely that folks don't make turkey more often? Burnout! They're always trying to do it on a day when they have 100 other dishes to cover as well. So I'm thinking of trying to thaw and roast a frozen turkey from Giant, and then putting the cooked leftovers in the freezer for future use in soups.

One other wacky idea: I'm going to bake a whole bunch of sweet potatoes, mash'em, and freeze the leftovers in portions.

Breakfast - Pumpkin custards
Lunch - Caprese salad - rBGH-free mozzarella, tomatoes, fresh basil, salt, pepper, olive oil, on top of greens, with a bit of liverwurst
Dinner - Bacon zucchini quiche, salad

Breakfast - Fried eggs, bananas for the girls
Lunch - Apple slices with almond butter, leftover quiche
Dinner - Slow cooked pork roast with carrots, leeks, potatoes

Breakfast - Blueberries (on sale at Giant!) with whole fat yoghurt
Lunch - Lunch at preschool with my daughter for a "Thanksgiving Feast"
Dinner - Leftover pork roast; baked/mashed sweet potatoes

Breakfast - Cheesy scrambled eggs
Lunch - Bananamandeln smoothies
Dinner - Shrimp and asparagus over spaghetti squash with a white wine reduction

Breakfast - Mixed berries, cottage cheese
Lunch - Packed to eat with a friend; boiled eggs, apples, nuts, raisins, etc.
Dinner - Roast turkey, wasabi asparagus (on sale this week at Giant for $1.99/lb.!)

Preschool Lunch Ideas:
Lunchbox #27: Pumpkin custard, liverwurst, quiche
Lunchbox #28: Blueberries, wasabi asparagus spears, slices of Kerrygold cheese, apple slices with almond butter

A First Birthday Cake Test Run

I have fallen deeply in love with a primal cake recipe. I've been scouting one for my daughter's first birthday party in a few weeks, and The Food Lovers' Primal Palate recently published a coconut-flour-based chocolate cake recipe that is not only way more than "acceptable" as an analogue to traditional cake, but truly very delicious in its own right, with a delightfully smooth, moist consistency that takes to a thin layer of Joyful Abode's dark chocolate ganache very well. I made it this weekend while visiting with (nonprimal) family a few hours away, and my guinea pigs agreed that it was terrific. The main substitution that I made to the cake recipe was melted coconut oil instead of grapeseed oil, which is probably how I'll always make the recipe since I loved it so much. So thanks, Primal Palate and Joyful Abode, for the inspiration!

Note: I also test-ran this in a muffin tin to give it a go as cupcakes, but the texture was a little chewier and more muffin-y, so I will likely stick with the 8" round double-layer cake format for the birthday party to keep its texture cakey.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Lunchbox #26

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Gala apple
  • Baby carrots
  • Trail mix: Raw almonds, raw walnuts, some mini dark chocolate chips
  • Slices Kerrygold Dubliner cheese

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lunchbox #25

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Fried eggs
  • Cherry tomatoes and leftover vodka sauce/butter-glazed shrimp
  • Whole milk yoghurt with frozen wild blueberries stirred in
  • Honeydew melon, cubed

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Menu Plan - "The Cod Incident" Ex Post Facto

In the first year that my husband and I were married, by a series of very strange coincidences, we ended up eating some form or another of pork for seven days in a row - and we are not overtly "pork people" (bacon is a different story). Long story short, I made pork on a Friday or Saturday, we went to my parents' place that same weekend (where pork was served), they sent us home with a whole lot of leftovers, and by the next weekend we went to my inlaws' place, where my mother-in-law proudly announced upon our arrival, "I made something that I don't usually make: Pork chops!" My husband and I exchanged knowing glances, yet still managed to eat her lovingly-prepared dinner without telling her and bursting her bubble. (We told her about it a long time after the fact.)

We didn't eat pork for weeks afterward.
ANYWHOO, all this to say, sometimes you just have weeks that are culinary black holes.

And thus: Last week was a bit of a culinary black hole. I had an absolutely disastrous culinary encounter with approximately one metric tonne of cod. I mean - if something seems reasonably tasty to me, I'm prone to photograph/post it as my time allows. But this cod just took over the middle of the week with its own gravitational pull and would not go away.

*Ahem.* Mistakes made in "The Cod Incident":
  • I've never made cod. Experimenting with new tastes is one of my favorite things, but I got cocky and just assumed that it would be more or less like buying and preparing tilapia. Wrong-O! Turns out that cod fillets are a lot bigger than tilapia fillets, which brings me to the next mistake...
  • I bought too much. I didn't realize how big the fresh fillets were until I had them home and unwrapped into the baking pan. Egads! One fillet would have fed me for two meals easily. And I had bought six.
  • My husband and 3-year-old daughter did not like the "non-taste". I'm sure that there are ways to prepare cod (not to mention better-sourced cod) that are way tastier, but this was sooooo bland. Even worse?
  • I had phoned in the seasoning. Normally when I dump some coconut milk and garam masala over chicken to bake, it's really tasty. Not so with this cod! The cod didn't "take" the garam masala the way that chicken does, so it was bland coated in bland sauce.
  • Gross alert: Some cod "juice" leaked into the fridge cooling drawer before I cooked it, so even after my husband cleaned out that drawer our fridge and freezer STILL smell guessed it...cod! So even after the threat of eating it is gone the spectre of its smell is around to remind us of "The Cod Incident". Arrrrrrrgh!
Ugh, and after that first dinner I still had over half of it left! (Normally on fish nights we all scarf tilapia, but this barely-touched and cooling pan of cod accused us from the center of the table.)

The next night, in a bid to not waste food, I actually rinsed the bland coconut sauce off of the cod and tried to start fresh, conjuring up a saltier butter cream sauce. Certainly better, but still the bland blah of the fish itself. (How can such a blah fish have make our fridge and freezer smell so pungently?!?)

See? Aren't you glad that I didn't subject you to the photos and attempted recipe writeups of that?? Needless to say, unless I ever come across a cod recipe that says, "You MUST make this recipe or your quality of life is forfeit!"...cod won't be on the menu again any time soon.

What is on the menu this week:

Breakfast - Warm bananas
Lunch - Leftover spaghetti squash, chicken and Trader Joe's vodka sauce
Dinner - Butter-glazed shrimp, salads, honeydew melon

Breakfast - Scrambled eggs, sliced pear
Lunch - Apple slices with almond butter, Kerrygold Dubliner cheese
Dinner - BLT salad with boiled egg, dark meat chicken, and avocadoes

Breakfast - Whole milk yoghurt with honeydew melon
Lunch - Banamandeln smoothie
Dinner - Bacon spinach gouda quiche, leftover honeydew

Breakfast - Pumpkin custards
Lunch - Joyful Abode's Gluten-Free Chocolate Banana Bread
Dinner - Crock pot chicken soup (I know that this was last week, too, but what can I say? It hits the spot with the cold, rainy weather lately!)

Breakfast - Mashed boiled eggs
Lunch - Sauteed kale with bacon and mushrooms
Dinner - Steaks, salads

Preschool Lunch Ideas:
Lunchbox #25: Apple slices and almond butter, Dubliner, boiled eggs
Lunchbox #26: Honeydew with yoghurt, BLT salad
Lunchbox #27: Chocolate banana bread, pumpkin custard

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Spicy Sausage with Tomatoes, Broccolini, and Garlic Cream Sauce

This resulted from another session of weekend experimentation. My husband and preschooler reported that their main regret was that there wasn't more!

Spicy Sausage with Tomatoes, Broccolini, and Garlic Cream Sauce
Serves 2 very generously

5-pack brat-style sausages (I used Nature's Promise spicy Italian pork sausage from Giant)
Generous handful cherry tomatoes, sliced into thirds
1 bunch broccolini (enough to hold with one hand), sliced into 2" chunts
3/4 c. organic heavy cream
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
Salt, to taste
1 tablespoon coconut flour (optional; for thickening the sauce at the end)

Heat a large pan to medium-high heat. Using kitchen shears and working quickly, slice brat sausages into 1/2" long chunks into the pan. Stir about as sausage bits begin to brown (about 3 minutes), and then add sliced cherry tomatoes. Once the juice from the tomatoes and the grease from the cooking sausage begins to combine, add garlic powder, cream, and salt, and stir to combine, about 2 minutes. At this point, you may add coconut flour to thicken the sauce. Add broccolini last, stir continuously, and remove the pan from heat once the broccolini becomes just tender after a few minutes. Serve immediately.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Lunchbox #24

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Soft-cooked carrots
  • Gala apple
  • Cucumber slices with creme fraiche to dip
  • Slow-cooked crock-pot chicken

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Lunchbox #23

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Banana, halved
  • Guacamole
  • Baby carrots
  • Steak strips and mustard to dip
  • The world's teeniest tinyest square (~1"x1"x0.5") of white rice Rice Krispy treat (it's a loooong story)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Menu Plan

Breakfast - Mashed boiled eggs, bananas for my girls
Lunch - Nuts, cheese, carrots - finger foods!
Dinner - Steaks (on sale at Giant!) and wasabi asparagus on the grill

Breakfast - Pan-fried pears (on sale at Giant!) and cottage cheese
Lunch - Salad: Iceberg lettuce (on sale at Giant!), leftover steak strips, with a buttermilk ranch dressing, courtesy of Nourished Meadow
Dinner - Fish taco salads: seasoned fish, guacamole, salsa, sour cream, and oh, yes: more iceberg lettuce

Breakfast - Grain-free granola, bananas for the girls
Lunch - Omelettes
Dinner - Chicken vegetable soup (I'll probably crock pot a whole chicken with some veggies and reserve some chicken for Thursday lunch)

Breakfast - Cottage cheese topped with drizzle honey and cacao nibs
Lunch - Leftover chicken on a salad
Dinner - Bacon and onion quiche, autumn pear dessert with cinnamon and whipped cream

Breakfast - Warm banana pudding
Lunch - Leftover quiche
Dinner - Crock pot pork ribs, maybe

Preschool Lunch Ideas:
Lunchbox #23: Steak strips, dipping sauce, crudites
Lunchbox #24: Salsa Guac, parmesan crackers and veggie sticks to dip, cubed pear
Lunchbox #25: Chicken and veggies leftover from chicken vegetable soup, banana

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Lunchbox #22

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Two plums
  • Leftover salmon
  • Grapes
  • Cilantro coleslaw

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Lunchbox #21

This is a classic "no leftovers" lunchbox scenario. Fast and all finger foods!

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Two hard boiled eggs
  • Dessert: three dates stuffed with almonds
  • Baby carrots
  • Cherry tomatoes and a slice of Kerrygold Dubliner
  • A banana

Creamy Tarragon Asparagus Soup

I wish that I had a Vitamix. I also wish that I could throw around $400 willy nilly without blinking, but we all want things, right? I'm still working on getting the budgeting basics of primal eating down, so it suffices to say that the Vitamix that I would like to use for this recipe exists in some sort of utopian parallel dimension.

Another thing that I've wanted, but was reasonably within my means to acquire, was a hot bowl of asparagus soup. It wasn't as super-duper-velvety smooth as I would have liked, but my food processor is not a Vitamix. That didn't stop the soup from being tasty, though!

Tarragon is a rogue seasoning - one that pairs well with white meats like chicken and pork, seafoods like scallops and shrimp, and also vegetables like asparagus and mushrooms. Put another way: it has a vaguely licoricey taste that marries well with light, savory foodstuffs (and usually something creamy). I like using it when cooking for company because guests recognize it as different yet decidedly tasty.

Creamy Asparagus Tarragon Soup
Serves 2, as a starter course

1 package frozen asparagus - the kind that you can cook in-package in the microwave in about 5 minutes
1/2 c. whole milk (could substitute half'n'half, heavy cream, or coconut cream for this)
1 tablespoon butter (I used salted Kerrygold)
1 tablespoon dried tarragon
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
Creme fraiche to garnish (optional; could sub coconut cream also)

Cook the asparagus in the microwave as directed. Crush the tarragon between your fingers and put it in the bottom of your blender/food processor/Vitamix. Melt the butter and pour over the tarragon, and pulse briefly to combine the butter and tarragon. Add a bit of salt and pepper (go easy on the salt as you can always add more later) and the garlic powder, and pulse again. Add the cooked asparagus stalks to this (mine were very wilted), including any excess water, and the whole milk. Blend until the soup is as smooth as possible, then serve immediately while still hot, and garnish with creme fraiche or coconut cream if desired.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Lunchbox #20

Today my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):

5-Ingredient Green Curry Pot Roast

Mmmm beef. It just really hits the spot the way that nothing else quite can, y'know? This is my lazy woman's pot roast - a bit Southeast-Asian-reminiscent with its is-it-getting-hotter-in-here-or-is-that-just-me?, yet still hearkening to my paternal grandmother's way with a roast.

And: I'm pretty sure that I'm commiting an "Asian Fusion" gaffe here or something by combining green curry and Japanese condiments, but this is really tasty served with a bit of wasabi paste.

5-Ingredient Green Curry Pot Roast
Serves 4-5

1 pot roast - at least 2.5 lb.
2 tablespoons bacon grease (or cooking oil of choice)
1/8 c. tamari (wheat-free soy sauce)
1.5 tablespoons (or to taste) green curry paste*
1-2 c. water

*Note that I use Thai Kitchen brand, which others rate as being weak in terms of heat and flavor for a green curry may do it if you are using a different brand! Thai Kitchen's curry paste contains: Green Chili, Garlic, Lemongrass, Galangal (Thai Ginger), Salt, Onion, Pepper, Coriander, Cumin, Kaffir Lime.

Melt bacon grease in a pan at high heat. Sear pot roast on all sides, then place in deep pot (or crock pot). Add tamari, green curry paste, and water. Cook on low for at least 6 hours, until meat is tender and easily pulls away with a fork.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Bacon and Crab Stuffed Peppers, Courtesy of Life As A Plate

You may have noticed these cute baby peppers
in my daughter's lunch last week.
They were at Sam's Club and so compelling.

It dawned on me that they would be the perfect stand-in for mushrooms in AndreAnna's Bacon and Crab Stuffed Mushrooms, because my husband has a longstanding issue with the texture of mushrooms. I whipped up the filling and stuffed my peppers.

I even happened to have enough pork rinds around to crush and sprinkle before baking. They have a TON of flavor, and after 20 minutes the peppers are just cooked enough to be tender-crisp, yielding to the warm filling. Perfect texture! I love the colors in these - would definitely add some Southwestern seasonings and make'em for Cinco de Mayo. :) Thanks, AndreAnna, for the inspiration!


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Menu Plan

My local Target has a modest grocery section (though it's not a SuperTarget), and I discovered that it was selling its free range cage free organic eggs for a sale price of $3/dozen. Wow! That's even cheaper than the $3.33 or so per dozen that you find at Sam's Club for organic eggs. Also, my Target has the cheapest price on organic half'n'half anywhere at $1.74/half pint.

Breakfast - Mashed boiled eggs
Lunch - Pears with ricotta
Dinner - Spaghetti squash with a meaty marinara

Breakfast - Mango yoghurt smoothies - more mangos for my girls, more yoghurt for me (Mangos on sale at Giant!)
Lunch - Leftover spaghetti or a big-ass salad
Dinner - Salmon fillets braised in a tamari sauce, creamy asparagus soup

Breakfast - Fried eggs, bananas for the girls
Lunch - Leftover salmon on a salad
Dinner - Baked chicken drumsticks and sweet potatoes

Breakfast - Blueberry custards
Lunch - Pumpkin spice smoothie
Dinner - My husband challenged me to get started on developing a primal chicken Wienerschnitzel recipe, and this might be the night I give it my first stab!

Breakfast - Warm banana pudding
Lunch - Curry pumpkin soup, coconut bread
Dinner - Pork chops with a creamy rosemary sauce, salads

Bonus Weekend Recipe: I am thinking of trying out this plum clafouti soon (plums on sale at Giant!), adapted by maybe using just a hint of honey instead of the relatively small amount of prescribed sugars. Could be a good Sunday morning breakfast.

Preschool Lunch Ideas:
Lunchbox #20 - Leftover spaghetti squash with meaty marinara, apple slices with almond butter
Lunchbox #21 - Leftover salmon, salad, almond-stuffed dates
Lunchbox #22 - Blueberry custard, Kerrygold Dubliner, leftover sweet potato, mashed

Shrimp and Veggie Stir-Fry

I love shrimp. They're tasty, they cook up really fast, and there are never complaints from the peanut gallery seated with me at the dinner table on shrimp nights. Here's a dish we had on Friday night.

Shrimp Veggie Stir-Fry
Serves 4

2 lb. raw shrimp, tails and shells off, deveined
2 carrots, sliced into very thin coins (they must be thin if they will cook at the same rate as the shrimp)
1/2 green pepper, sliced into thin 1 inch pieces
2 yellow mini peppers (or 1/2 yellow peppers), sliced thin into 1 inch pieces
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. tamari
2 tbsp. coconut oil

Combine all ingredients except coconut oil, and stir to combine. Heat coconut oil in a large pan at high heat until melted, then add shrimp and vegetables. Stir fry for a few minutes, until all shrimp are pink. Remove pan from heat to avoid overcooking the shrimp, and serve immediately.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bacon Spinach Leek Sauté

This one came together in a desparate bid for a quick Saturday lunch. It turned out tasty - the bacon, tamari and Worchestershire give it a hearty, smoky base, and the lime juice cuts it just enough with the bright citrus note.

Bacon Spinach Leek Sauté
Serves 4 as a main course

1 pack bacon (I used 12 oz. pack of Nature's Promise), cut into 1" x 1/2" pieces
3 large leeks, the white part cut into 1/4" thick coins
2 cups loosely-packed baby spinach leaves, stems removed, torn into smaller bites
Juice of 1 lime
Dash tamari (wheat-free soy sauce)
Dash Worchestershire sauce

Put bacon and leeks in deep pot on high heat, and sauté, stirring continuously for a few minutes, until the bacon has reached your desired crispness. Add lime juice, tamari, and Worchestershire, and stir continuously for about 2 more minutes. Toss spinach in and stir to combine. Serve immediately, while spinach is bright green and just wilted.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Lunchbox #19

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Leftover quiche
  • 2 slices soft gouda
  • 1/2 slice dried pineapple
  • Leftover brussels sprouts 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Lunchbox #18

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Leftover beef pot roast
  • Diced nectarine
  • Baby spinach salad with carrots and tomatoes
  • Two baby peppers, and a wasabi sour cream dip

Monday, October 18, 2010

Menu Plan, and Grocery Shopping Primally at Sam's Club

We hit up Sam's Club this weekend. I have mixed feelings about Sam's - good for the primal budget, but also makes bulk-packaged items a little too available. Here's an example:

Pro: Raw almonds are the cheapest per pound that I've seen anywhere - 48 oz. (3 lb.) for around $11.
Con: 48 ounces of raw almonds in a big resealable bag. Seriously? How long do you really expect those to last in our household?

Other things I can get for the cheapest at Sam's compared with my local grocery store:
  • Organic Omega-3 eggs, around $3.33/doz.
  • Dates, 3 lb., less than $10
  • Organic baby carrots, at close to $1/lb.
  • Organic greens and organic baby spinach, around $3.50 for a huge clamshell container
  • Gigantic 3-liter bottle of extra virgin olive oil, $11ish
By the way, if you grocery shop at Giant (a mid-Atlantic grocery chain), my go-to bacon - Nature's Promise nitrate-free antibiotic-free hormone-free bacon - is on sale for $3.59/pack (retail $4.49/pack). Expiry dates on the packs went as late as December 5 at my store, so you could stock up on several weeks' worth of bacon while saving about 20%.

Here's the scoop for this week.

Breakfast - Fried eggs, bananas for the girls
Lunch - Apples, gouda, grain-free granola
Dinner - Green curry beef pot roast, and stewed veggies - will be posting my lazy-woman's South Asian twist on conventional pot roast soon. Also, pot roast is on sale at Giant this week.

Breakfast - Warm banana pudding
Lunch - Leftover beef roast and veggies
Dinner - Bacon quiche, roast Brussels sprouts, salads

Breakfast - Oeufs Boursin (This is really just eggs mixed and scrambled with Boursin. Be sure to really tweak the nasal "n" for extra cheesiness.)
Lunch - Leftover quiche and salads
Dinner - Primal Matriarch night: Bacon and Crab Somethingorother and Primal Mini Apple Pie Bake* *Forgive me, AndreAnna, but my husband has a lifelong mouthfeel issue with shrooms! I plan on baking your bacon-crab filling stuffed in some other type of veggie. Perhaps stuffed in cabbage leaves? Or as a dip with some parmesan cheese baked grain-free crackers?

Breakfast - Leftover apple pie bake with mascarpone
Lunch - Big-ass salad, possibly some bacon-crab stuffed leftovers
Dinner - Spaghetti squash with a carbonara-style sauce

Breakfast - Joyful Abode's Grain-Free Granola Bars, made Wednesday night, ideally
Lunch - Baked chicken drumsticks OR leftover spaghetti squash, salads
Dinner - Butter-glazed shrimp with hot butter-lime dressing over a salad (shrimp is on sale at Giant!)

Preschool Lunch Ideas:
Lunchbox #18: Leftover pot roast with a wasabi sour cream dip, salad, fresh mini peppers, diced nectarines
Lunchbox #19: Miniquiches, leftover Brussels sprouts, carrots with Boursin for dipping, almond-stuffed dates
Lunchbox #20: Leftover spaghetti squash, half-banana, grain-free granola bars

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday Grok-Friendly Recipe Hunt - Primal Matriarch

This Friday's Grok-Friendly Recipe Hunt hunted up AndreAnna's blog Primal Matriarch. I am a fan of AndreAnna's very forthright style and especially her desire to recreate classics for her family (including young children) that results in primal fare! Here are some of AndreAnna's recipes that have caught my eye lately:

Primal Mini Apple Pie Bake - Can't wait to try these as the holidays approach. Plus, who doesn't love their own ramekin?

Sweet and Savory Morroccan Beef Stew - I love trying new exotic flavor combos so this one is on my hot list for the next time I get stew meat on sale.

Grain-Free and Gluten-Free Cheez-Its - 'Nuff said.|

Twice-Cooked Chicken and Cabbage Stir-Fry - I am craving Asian food like mad, and my skills haven't yet caught up with my demanding taste buds. Thus I'll rely on AndreAnna's and her husband's acquired skills. :)

Bacon and Crab Stuffed Mushrooms - Superbowl 2011, here I come.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Lunchbox #17

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Leftover carnitas
  • Grapes
  • A chocolate mousse (avocado + cocoa + just a hint of honey/palm sugar), as inspired by Girl Gone Primal
  • Zucchini sticks
  • Carrot sticks

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lunchbox #16

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise, more or less):
  • Zucchini sticks
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Braunschweiger Liverwurst (1 small slice, in pieces, upper right)
  • Date and walnut custard
  • Almond butter, for dipping
  • Mustard-yoghurt sauce, for dipping
  • Apple slices

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Lunchbox #15

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):

Bleu Double Moo

I seem to be on a bit of a beef and cheese theme here lately, but for good reason. On Sunday night I braised some steaks in tamari (350 F for a couple of hours in the oven until very tender), and topped them with triple cream bleu cheese out of the oven. If you've never tried a roast or steak (or any beef for that matter) topped with a blue-veined cheese like bleu, Roquefort, or gorgonzola, then you should definitely give it a go. Your taste buds will sing with delight!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Menu Plan, Columbus Day Edition and September Primal Challenge final results

Well, the Primal Blueprint September Challenge is officially over. Between September 1 and my latest weigh-in yesterday, I dropped 5.4 lb. - not bad for 6.5 weeks, especially when I hadn't done much exercise the last half of the challenge due to allowing a sprained ankle to recover.

I am learning a whole lot about how my body responds to micronutrient loads. For example, dark chocolate is a terminal weakness of mine and generally allowed in moderation, but if I eat too much, I can feel its physiological impact in many ways: for example, my recuperating ankle starts to swell and hurt more (inflammation), and my moods start to darken. When I go a couple of days without chocolate or refined sugars, I feel more even keel and my outlook is much more positive. Until this challenge I had no idea how much these things could affect my daily life (aside from how it impacts my weight).

On a side note, while at my in-laws' a while back, I went to the cabinet where my mother-in-law has her usual stash of dark chocolate. There wasn't any of the higher-quality dark chocolate that she typically has, but there were some sort of Wi11y W0nka domed candies that were labeled "dark chocolate" - the kind that come in a big bag for Halloween distribution. I nibbled a corner of one cautiously and ack was it nasty. It tasted like wax and chalk together - like fillers, in other words! I had no problem throwing that piece in the trash - it's mainly Green & Black's and Lindt that call to me.

So here's this week's primal menu plan. Wild caught Alaskan salmon is on sale for $9.99/lb. at Giant this week, so I will be taking advantage.

Breakfast - Strawberries and whipped cream (did I mention that strawberries were also on sale at Giant?)
Lunch - Leftover braised steak from Sunday night, carrot sticks
Dinner - Baked chicken thighs and brussels sprouts

Breakfast - Scrambled bleu cheese eggs (I discovered this triple cream bleu cheese that is off. the. hook!)
Lunch - Creamy leek and sweet potato soup, leftover chicken
Dinner - Eggplant lasagna, baked dates and apples (while the oven's going, y'know!)

Breakfast - Cottage cheese and fruit
Lunch - Liverwurst (Robb Wolf gave it the OK)
Dinner - Broiled salmon, asparagus

Breakfast - Apples with almond butter
Lunch - Leftover salmon, salad
Dinner - Crock pot pork carnitas with salsa, guacamole (might make Joyful Abode's pancakes earlier in the day for wrapping these soft taco style)

Breakfast - Coconut banana smoothies
Lunch - Leftover carnitas
Dinner - Bacon and eggs

Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday Grok-Friendly Recipe Hunt - What I Crave

For this week's Friday Grok-Friendly Recipe Hunt, I am crushing on Carrol's primal blog What I Crave. Carrol has a knack for sussing out fresh new tastes, and also for adaptations of neolithic faves when you get homesick (say, for a bagel).

I am really excited to try some of her recipes in the future. Some that caught my eye recently:

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Lunchbox #14

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Quartered strawberries
  • Leftover coconut bread
  • Leftover "Cheezapalooza"
  • Butternut squash pudding with raisins

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Lunchbox #13

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Carrot sticks
  • Mozzarella sticks
  • Piece of dried pineapple
  • Leftover roast chicken (dip container contains a teaspoon or two of curry - gasp! - ketchup)
  • Half a banana

Primal / Paleo Halloween Ideas

A thread on PaleoHacks got me thinking about Halloween, with minimal sugar. Here are some ideas I came up with:

If you know your neighborhood's general amount of trick-or-treater traffic, consider giving out:
  • Nonchokable toys (remember the kids still have younger siblings). Bonus points if they're fitness oriented. Just don't give the costumed mites some kettlebells. Save the kettlebell giveaways for the Christmas stockings! ;op
  • Dark chocolate (as dark as you can find). I can imagine the looks on kids' faces if I managed to track down single-square packs of Lindt 99% dark. Anybody know where to find 99% single squares?
  • Single-serve packs of trail mix, if you can find'em. (Consider Amazon or Sam's Club/Costco for this...). Have a couple of alternatives if kids with allergies show up.
  • Single serve packets of almond butter (you can get these on Amazon)
Paleo-Friendly Halloween Activities and Menu Ideas:
  • Bobbing for bags of sug-....errr... organic apples
  • Pumpkin carving and associated pumpkin's seed-roasting
  • Chili (this is my family's traditional Halloween meal) or pumpkin soup. If you do paleo baking, you could make some coconut bread or muffins to go with.
  • A game of "go fish" with someone behind the silkscreen attaching Halloween tchotchkes (no candy) to the fishing line
  • Card games! A good game of poker could be enjoyed by older kids (tweens and up). Offer to trade poker chips for candy at the start before the cards are even dealt.
  • Offer to "buy" your kids' candy at a nickel or a dime (or whatever) per piece.
How are you going to "do" Halloween this year?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Lunchbox #12

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):

Monday, October 4, 2010

Shrimp Po' Boys

OK, I gave it the college try:

Looks tasty, right? The problem is, the coconut bread recipe, while delicious, is like a dense pound cake, so it didn't really hold up consistency-wise to the required "sandwichyness" needed for a po' boy. But my husband said that he would be just as delighted to eat the same coconut crusted fried shrimp over a bed of salad greens, with a couple of mini slices of the coconut bread on the side. So: note to future self.

Since the coconut bread turned out so much like a dense cake, it got my wheels turning for the possibility of using it as a birthday cake. More on this later - when one of us actually has a birthday to celebrate.

Also, the shrimp was more or less off-the-cuff (when I was cooking, I didn't pull up the MDA recipe that I originally meant to use as a reference point), and since I would gladly repeat - I'll record what I did here for future reference.

Coconut Crusted Shrimp
Serves 4 generously

1.5 lb. raw shrimp - peeled, deveined, tails off
All-purpose seasoning in the tradition of Old Bay - without sugar, MSG, etc. (Salt, paprika, and other seasonings, generally.)
3 eggs, scrambled
2 cups finely shredded unsweetened coconut (I used Let's Do Organic)
3/4 c. coconut flour (I used Tropical Traditions)
1 c. coconut oil

Put shrimp in a large bowl, and season a bit. Add a bit of seasoning to the egg wash as well, then pour it over the seasoned shrimp, and stir to coat.

To a shallow dish, add shredded coconut, coconut flour, and another shake of seasoning, and toss to combine.

Add large spoonful of coconut oil to a medium-to-large pan on medium-high heat. Once the oil has melted, pull an "egged" shrimp from the large bowl and toss it in the shallow dish of coconut crust until it's coated. Place the shrimp in the hot pan, and work quickly around the pan, adding shrimp. (I start at the "12 o'clock" position in the pan and work clockwise.) Once the pan is full, the first shrimp to go in will have cooked on one side, so being flipping each shrimp - they should be golden brown once the underside is flipped side up. Cook an additional 2 minutes, then place in a shallow dish on a paper towel. Scrape old oil and debris from pan, add more fresh coconut oil, and start again, frying the shrimp this way in batches until all are fried. Serve immediately.
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