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Veggie packed, gluten-free (or gluten light, dending on your enchilada sauce), rich, cheesy, spicy magic! The satisying texture of a lasagna with a southwestern bite. This is my kind of comfort food!

mexican inspired casserole

Mexican Inspired Casserole with Roasted Corn & Peppers
via a pinch of yum

2 red bell peppers
2 green bell peppers
1 jalapeno or 2 chipotle peppers (optional – just for more kick)
½ red onion
2 cups frozen corn
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoon cumin
salt to taste (about 1 teaspoon)
2 cups shredded cheese (I used a cheddar & pepperjack blend)
10 medium corn tortillas
1 can refried beans
2 cups red enchilada sauce
cilantro, guacamole, or sour cream for topping

Dice the peppers and mince the onions. Heat a large nonstick skillet with a little bit of oil over high heat. Add the onion and peppers, sprinkle with chili and cumin, and stir, rest, stir, rest until you get a nice browning on the outside of the peppers. Remove and set aside. Repeat the roasting process with the corn, sprinkling with chili and cumin, removing from the heat when browned and roasted on the outside. Sprinkle the roasted veggies with a little bit of salt and toss to coat.
Grease a 9×13 inch baking pan and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the tortillas into thin strips. Put the refried beans in a bowl and mix with a little bit of water to make them easier to spread. Spread a little bit of sauce on the bottom of the pan. Layer in order: half of the tortilla strips, all the beans, half of the veggies, half of the sauce, half of the cheese. Cover with the other half of the tortilla strips, veggies, sauce, and cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is melted (I broiled mine for the last 3 minutes to get the top nice and bubbly). Serve with guacamole, fresh cilantro and sour cream!

Wow! We really don’t make enough fish. This recipe is amazing, and enough to convince me to stop being so scared of fish dishes and bring a little more into my life. Sometimes I feel like living in the northwest, I get a little burned out on all the salmon around here (crazy! I know!), but this recipe has just enough kick and is such a departure from the usual – it made me fall in love with salmon all over again. Plus, the avocado salsa here could be my new favorite topping. Seriously. This is fantastic, folks. Did I mention this is also paleo and whole30 friendly? I didn’t even realize it until after I’d already scarfed it all down.

grilled spiced salmon with avocado salsa

Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salsa
via the cookie rookie 

2 lbs salmon, cut into 4 pieces
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika powder
1 tsp onion powder
½ tsp ancho chili powder
1 tsp black pepper

for the Avocado salsa:
1 avocado, sliced
½ small red onion, sliced
Juice from 2 limes
2 tbs finely chopped cilantro
Salt to taste

Mix the salt, chili powder, cumin, paprika, onion and black pepper together, rub the salmon fillets with olive oil and this seasoning mix. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Pre-heat the grill. Combine the avocado, onion, cilantro, lime juice, and salt in a bowl and mix well, chill until ready to use. Grill the salmon to desired doneness (our took about 7-8 minutes). Top with avocado salsa and enjoy!

Trying to get back on the paleo wagon this week with a hearty stew to start us off. Fresh, meaty and bright! The lemon added just the right amount of acid to this hearty, delicious dish.

chicken-meatballs-with-braised-lemon-and-kale

Chicken Meatballs with Braised Lemon and Kale
via bon appétit

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 medium shallots, minced, divided
1 scallion, minced (all parts), plus thinly sliced green tops for garnish
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound ground chicken meat (or turkey)
1 teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, plus more
1 lemon, very thinly sliced and seeds removed
2 cups chicken broth
1 large bunch curly kale, destemmed

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add shallot, scallion, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring constantly until softened and fragrant, about 6 minutes. Add 1/3 of ground chicken and cook just until cooked through, breaking up any clumps. Transfer to a medium bowl and let cool slightly. Add remaining chicken meat, salt, and several grindings of black pepper. Mix just to combine. Wipe out the pot and add the remaining tbsp oil. Heat over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Form meat mixture into 8 meatballs each about 2 to 2 1/2 inches in diameter and add to pot (mixture will be soft). Cook until light golden brown on all sides, 6-8 minutes total. Remove meatballs to a plate; set aside.
Add remaining shallot and lemon slices and cook until lemon slices are tender and starting to turn light golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add chicken broth and return meatballs to pot. Bring to simmer, lower heat and cover. Cook meatballs until cooked through, 8-10 minutes. Add kale to pot, and cook until tender and bright green, 4-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat. Divide kale and sauce among 4 shallow bowls, topping with meatballs and lemon slices. Garnish with sliced scallion tops and serve.

 

And now for the main course! Lamb and a spicy twist on gorgeous classic sprouts for our New Year’s Eve dinner party. Alas, my dear friend winged it on this amazing lamb that paired so perfectly with these curried brussel sprouts. Fortunately, I’m a sucker for rules and always have all the steps laid out for every dish I make. Voila! Simple steps for quite the side.

spiced lemony brussels sprouts with lamb

Spiced Lemony Brussels Sprouts
via martha stewart

2 pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or other cooking oil
1/2 teaspoon hot or regular curry powder
Coarse salt
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with racks in middle and lower third. Divide brussels sprouts between two rimmed baking sheets and toss each with oil and curry powder. Season with salt. Roast until browned in spots and tender when pierced with a knife, about 20 minutes, stirring and rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer to a serving dish and top with lemon zest and lemon juice.

Some nights I’m in for a big, complex meal. I love spending time in the kitchen, but it’s not always one of those nights. Sometimes we’re short on energy, but still want something homemade and delicious. On those nights I head over to Stonesoup; it’s full of simple, fresh, whole food recipes.
I love this recipe for it’s simplicity and it’s versatility. I’m thinking next time we might add brussels sprouts. We often toss whatever’s on hand in a baking pan and roast it in the oven for a hour, but this recipe has a great balance of flavors and is a perfect starting point for different combinations.

roasted sausage onions and butternut squash

Magic Sausage Supper
via stonesoup

1/2 butternut squash
2 medium onions, quartered lengthwise
1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes
4 thick sausages (we used kielbasa)
1 small bunch flat leaf parsley, leaves picked

Preheat your oven to 350F. Halve the squash crosswise then chop into wedges. Place pumpkin, onion, chili and sausages in a roasting dish. Drizzle generously with olive oil. Roast for about an hour, stirring at the half way mark. It’s ready when everything is golden and tender. Serve with parsley leaves sprinkled over the top.

This dinner turned out a be a little more prep that I was originally imagining, but when it was all said and done, it was definitely worth the extra effort. In the end, it was almost 2 hours including prep and cooking time (thankfully I attempted this on a Sunday!). Next time I make this, I might try using a bag of frozen pearl onions instead of boiling the fresh cipolline ones to save a little time.
The flavor was the perfect balance of tangy and sweet. Sometimes I shy away from recipes calling for raisins or other sweet flavors, but with the vinegar and salt, they were just right. I ate every single one off my plate!

vinegar braised chicken and onions

Vinegar-Braised Chicken and Onions
via bon appetit

2 pounds cipolline or pearl onions
Kosher salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces pancetta (Italian bacon), cut into 1/4-inch pieces
4 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed
5 pounds skin-on bone-in chicken pieces (breasts, thighs, and/or legs; breasts halved crosswise)
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 bay leaves

Cook the onions in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and let cool. Trim root ends; peel.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add pancetta to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until fat is rendered and pancetta is brown, 8-10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to a large bowl. Add onions to same pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 8-10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Transfer onions and garlic to bowl with pancetta.
Season chicken with salt and pepper. Working in batches, add chicken to pot skin side down and cook, turning, until browned on all sides, 10-15 minutes per batch; transfer to bowl with onions.
Carefully drain fat from pot and return to medium-high heat. Add both vinegars to pot and bring to a boil, stirring and scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pot. Add broth, raisins, bay leaves, and reserved chicken, pancetta, onions, and garlic to pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, until chicken is fork-tender, 35-40 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken and onions to a large platter. Skim fat from cooking liquid and discard. Remove bay leaves, and season sauce with salt and pepper. Spoon sauce over chicken and onions.

Why haven’t I made this before?! Simple and delicious. Just meat and veggies. My aunt said it was my grandpa’s favorite, and I can see why. I love vegetables when they’re been cooking in delicious cooking liquids all day (I can’t wait for the ones from in the turkey at Thanksgiving). And pickling spice? So good! I think I might try making my own next time too!

corned beef and cabbage

Corned Beef and Cabbage
via martha stewart

2 celery stalks, cut into 3-inch pieces
3 carrots, cut into 3-inch pieces
1 small yellow onion, cut into 1-inch wedges (root end left intact)
1/2 pound small potatoes, halved if large
6 sprigs thyme
1 corned beef brisket (about 3 pounds), plus pickling spice packet or 1 tablespoon pickling spice
1/2 head Savoy cabbage, cut into 1 1/2-inch wedges
Grainy mustard, for serving

In a 5-to-6-quart slow cooker, place celery, carrots, onion, potatoes, and thyme. Place corned beef, fat side up, on top of vegetables and sprinkle with pickling spice; add enough water to almost cover meat (4 to 6 cups). Cover and cook on high until corned beef is tender, 4 1/4 hours (or 8 1/2 hours on low). Arrange cabbage over corned beef, cover, and continue cooking until cabbage is tender, 45 minutes (or 1 1/2 hours on low). Thinly slice corned beef against the grain and serve with vegetables, cooking liquid, and grainy mustard.

Simply delicious. Mondays are our night for slow cooker meals. Husband leaves work a bit early to get ready for his hockey game and it’s nice when there’s a meal ready, as he usually has little time at home before he heads out. This pork ragù was simple, hearty and over rice it’s perfect for a pre-game meal. I served mine over a roasted spaghetti squash to keep it paleo, and the combination was dreamy. Definitely my favorite alternative the traditional noodles.

pork ragu

Slow Cook Pork Ragu
adapted from damn delicious

2 tablespoons olive oil or other cooking oil
2 1/2 pound boneless pork loin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 onion, diced
1/3 cup finely grated carrots
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup red wine
1 cup uncooked rice
1 tablespoon minced fresh parlsey

Season pork loin with orgeano, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper, rubbing in thoroughly on all sides. Heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add pork loin and sear both sides until browned, about 3-4 minutes per side. Place pork loin into a slow cooker and top with crushed tomatoes, chicken stock, onion, carrots, garlic, bay leaf, and wine. Cover and cook on low heat for 8 hours or high for 4-5 hours. Remove pork loin and bay leaf from the slow cooker and shred the meat before returning to the pot with the juices; season with additional salt and pepper, to taste. Cover and keep warm for an additional 30 minutes. Cook rice according to directions. Serve immediately topped with pork mixture and fresh parsley.

This is the paleo dish I’ve been hearing about over and over, so I knew we had to try it. And it is everything they’ve all been saying! This is super-satisfying, veggie-packed, starch-free deliciousness. It’s fried rice plus wow. Also, bacon! I can’t remember the last time I put bacon in anything. It’s terrible. What have I been doing? Of course, you could leave out the bacon and make this totally vegetarian, too. I imagine it’s perfect about a thousand different ways.

cauliflower fried rice

Cauliflower Fried Rice
adapted from just pinch me

1 small head of cauliflower, separated in florets
3 slices of uncured bacon, cut into small dice
3 large eggs
1-inch knob of ginger, grated (about 1 tablespoon)
1 small onion, diced
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 small zucchini, diced
3 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons of chopped basil
1 tablespoon of chopped mint
2 tablespoons olive oil or other cooking oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon rice vinegar (optional)
1 teaspoon soy sauce (optional)

Pulse the cauliflower florets in a food processor until the pieces are about the size of rice, and set aside. Toss the diced bacon in a large skillet over medium heat and fry until crispy. Remove bacon from pan and set aside. Whisk the eggs with a little pepper and pour into the skillet. The eggs will spread out and make a very thin fried omelet. Cook for a minute on one side then flip over. When eggs are done remove from the pan, cut into thin bite size strips and set aside.
Turn up the pan to medium-high heat and add the oil. Add the onion, cook about 5 minutes until softened. Add the mushrooms and zucchini and cook until just browned. Add the ginger while stirring, then the cauliflower pieces. Reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add the fish sauce (and any other sauces), salt and pepper to taste. Finish by adding the bacon, fried egg strips, herbs and the sliced green onions. Stir well and enjoy!

My friend and I were chatting the other day, and she mentioned she was going to give the Paleo diet a 4 week run. While I’m really not one for dieting, I do appreciate cutting certain things out of my diet temporarily to see if it is beneficial to me. Back in 2008 I was diagnosed with some seriously gnarly heart burn, and spent time cutting most things out of my diet for the better part of the year: meat, dairy, spicy food, alcohol, soy, the list goes on. While I have introduced all of these things back in, I have seen the benefit of moderation in all also. The one thing I have never truly given a break to is my love of starchy goodness, particularly bread, pasta & white potatoes. And so I have agreed, from this past Thursday until Thanksgiving, I’ll give Paleo a go, since these sorts of things are most successful with a partner in crime! My first baby step here, is a no-noodle lasagna. Although I did add a bit of cheese! Truly, a little bit in moderation isn’t so bad, right?

paleo zucchini lasagna

Zucchini Lasagna
adapted from awesome paleo recipes

 

1 lb ground beef or ground turkey
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3-4 small zucchini, sliced thinly
1 lb cremini mushrooms, sliced
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)
1 cup mozzarella cheese (optional)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil or other cooking fat

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat a pot over a medium heat and cook the onion and bell pepper in a tablespoon of oil sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add the ground beef or turkey and cook until browned. Season the mixture to taste with salt and pepper and add the dried oregano and crushed red pepper. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, bring to a boil and then remove from heat. Place a thin layer of the sauce in a baking dish. Layer the zucchini over the sauce and then the mushrooms (then mozzarella, if using). Repeat alternating layers of sauce, zucchini and mushrooms. Finish with a layer of mozzarella and parmesan (if using). Cover with foil. Place in the oven to bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes.