Quickie Breakie

It may seem as if I have an unlimited amount of time to cook.  This is simply not true for me.  It is, however, easier for me to cook earlier in the week having lots of leftovers when the weekend comes and we are super busy with family stuff.  My total time in the kitchen today is 20 minutes.  I’ll have a smoothie with the left over egg whites from yesterday’s Pot de Creme for lunch and leftovers for dinner.  Many mornings I get up for my 5:30 runs at 4:30 and need breakfast to be ready in a flash.  This particular morning my husband was going to need to be out of the door shortly after I got back so I made Spinach Bacon Egg Cups.  When my alarm went off this morning I stumbled into the kitchen and started the bacon and coffee, while my egg cups cooked I got dressed and had a cup of coffe.  I was ready to go by 5:15 and breakfast was resting on the counter for my family to dig into when they got up.  You have probably seen some version of this elsewhere but here’s how I get it done.

Spinach Bacon Egg Cups

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6 strips bacon (I like Pederson’s uncured bacon)

8 whole eggs

5-6 C fresh spinach chopped roughly

heavy pinch of salt and fresh cracked pepper

Method:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Fry bacon on the stove top.  While that is going I chop the spinach and whir the eggs with salt and pepper for a few seconds in the blender.  Doing this makes the eggs fluffy, it’s also super fast.  When the bacon is cooked reserve the bacon grease and sauté the spinach in the same pan.  While the spinach cooks grease the insides of a 12 cup muffin tin with the bacon grease and a silicon basting brush.  You can also use silicon muffin cups which make pretty scalloped edges If you have them.  Pour the egg mixture into the muffin cups, top with spinach and crumbled bacon.  Bake the eggs for 8-10 minutes until just set in the center. Top with guacamole.  I’d also like to note that my 3 year old daughter ate three of these this morning and my 16 month old ate one too.  I feel like I’m winning starting my kids day with spinach.  I like to get creative with this.  You can put anything in it, leftover roasted sweet potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini, pulled pork, roast chicken…the world is your oyster.

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Love is in the air

My husband has been super supportive in my new blogging efforts.  He’s my proof reader and first follower. Thanks honey!!  So I guess I’m feeling a little romantic today.  What about a little early Valentine Day menu?  Sure!

I’ve made a couple really traditional dishes that are Paleofied, grain free and dairy free.  They do however make use of wine and chocolate so these are not Whole30approved.  When I was doing the Whole30 a little over a week ago my husband and I went to a super fabulous restaurant here in town that boasts a fabulous Paleo menu, Corner Table.  He had the bolognese over spaghetti squash.  I took pics of our food and posted them to Facebook.  A few people asked me how I made them which I didn’t do.  I have however made bolognese, a classic Italian meat sauce many times and love to cook a big batch for freezing.  This makes 4 dinners (minus the squash) for two adults and two kiddos.  This recipe will take 30 minutes hands on time and 1 hour hands free cooking.

Bolognese with Spaghetti Squash

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1 spaghetti squash

2 lbs grass fed ground beef

2 lbs grass fed ground pork

2 medium yellow onions, chopped small

4-5 garlic cloves, minced

4 large carrots shredded (in a food processor for time)

1 C homemade chicken stock

3 jars tomato paste

2 cups red wine

1 tsp red chili flake

2 T fresh minced oregano

salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Heat oven to 350 degrees and place whole spaghetti squash in oven for about an hour.  This can be done ahead of time, even the day before.  While the squash is cooking, brown the meat in a large Dutch oven on medium high heat.  Add the onion, garlic, carrot and large pinch kosher salt and cook, stirring occasionally until onion is translucent.  Add in tomato paste and stir to incorporate evenly for 3 minutes.  Deglaze with red wine and chicken stock.  Add in oregano and chili flake and a few turns of fresh ground pepper, bring to a simmer for 1 hour (or all day), check for seasoning and adjust accordingly.  Bolognese should be thick.  After your squash has been in the oven for an hour, check for softness. It should easily be pierced with a knife.  Let the squash cool before cutting it open.  Gently scoop out the seeds and then scrape the ‘spaghetti’ into a bowl, toss with good quality olive oil, a pinch of salt and top with your bolognese, garnish with chiffonade (French word for cut into ribbons) basil.  As always, check for seasoning first.

So now I’ll tell you about the chocolate.  I’ll bet you’ve been wondering about that.  I made dairy free dark chocolate pot de creme.  I got the inspiration to make this from NomNom Paleo and adapted a recipe from an old culinary school textbook.  It’s been said custards are the ‘chef’s dessert’.  They don’t require exact measurements and are usually fool proof, unlike baking.  This is a standard ratio recipe and can be adapted for a variety of recipes, including creme brûlée.  A custard, is a custard, is a custard.  This recipe will take 10 minutes hands on time and 30 minutes total time.

Dark Chocolate Pot De Creme

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500 ml full fat coconut milk (slightly more than 1 can)

7 egg yolks

1tsp vanilla extract

2 bars 85% dark chocolate (180 g total)

Method:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and prepare a tea kettle of hot water.  Heat coconut milk in a small sauce pan until just simmering and remove from heat.  Add in broken up chocolate and vanilla and stir until chocolate is melted.  Whisk egg yolks in a heat proof bowl (glass or metal).  Slowly drizzle in the chocolate mixture, whisking constantly until all is mixed together.  This can get tricky because you obviously only have two hands.  Place a kitchen towel in a drawer and put the bowl in it, shutting the drawer so it holds it in place and while leaning against the drawer you can then use one hand to drizzle in and the other to whisk.  Clever, right?  Place 6, 2oz ramekins in a shallow dish.  Pour custard through a fine mesh strainer into a Pyrex cup.  Use the cup to fill the ramekins– it may take two fills depending on the size of your Pyrex.  Place the pan with ramekins in the oven at 325 degrees and pour hot water around the ramekins after they are on the oven rack to make a water bath.  Cook until the center is just ‘jiggly’ or 175 degrees on an instant read thermometer, about 18 minutes.  Cool for 4 hours in refrigerator.  Top with whipped coconut cream and berries or nothing at all.

Snow Day in HTX

It’s a snow day here in Houston, TX.  Say what??? Yeah, yesterday evening, almost all public services were announced to be closed for today.  This morning after the whole city had loaded up on rations (Costco ran out of organic chicken) we woke to 41 degrees and NO SNOW!  So since everything has come to a screeching halt here you guys are getting another blog post right away.  I might be just a little excited about my new hobby too.

Once upon a time I spent a couple of years in culinary school, worked in a couple notable Houston restaurants and even had my own business as a personal chef and caterer.  Then I had a family.  I must say that cooking for my loved ones is by far more enjoyable for me than cooking professionally and I have no desire to go back to that.  It was, however, a good learning experience and turned my life long love of cooking into something people (yeah, you) might be interested in reading about.

In the spirit of snowmageddon I have made Winter Beef Stew with Pearl’s beef and Atkinson farms root vegetables.  I source 75% of my meat and produce locally through Urban Harvest Farmers Market and Rice University Farmers Market.  More about that later.

Winter Beef Stew

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This stew could take up to 4 hours to be ready, about 45 minutes hands on time the rest in the oven.  It’s a good snow day recipe or weekend recipe when you have more time.  This should also make plenty to eat for a couple of days and freeze a bit so your time is not wasted because it saves you from cooking at least two more nights.  I also like to start this early in the day, usually nap time for my son, so it is ready to go in plenty of time.  Don’t be afraid to put this in the oven and go run your errands and such.  I’m a big fan of food that ‘cooks itself’ while am doing more important things like buying more food!!

Ingredients:

4-5 lbs chuck roast cut into cubes and salted with kosher salt

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 T tomato paste (I use jarred, organic to avoid the BPA)

1 pound carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 bunch golden beets, 1 inch pieces

1 bunch turnips, 1 inch pieces

2 C stock (I used chicken, homemade because that’s what I have.  Boxed is fine, beef, vegetable or whatever will work)

water

1 tsp fresh rosemary, minced

1 tsp fresh oregano, minced

1 tsp fresh thyme, minced

2-3 bay leaves

salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Heat large Dutch oven to medium high heat with fat of choice.  I’m using grass-fed lard I got from Shiner Farms in Shiner, TX.  They sell heritage pork here in Houston at several farmers markets.  Add cubed beef in batches careful to not overcrowd the pan, turning cubes to get a good sear on most sides, 2 or 3 is fine.  Do not be alarmed if a thick black coating accumulates in the bottom of the pan, add a touch more fat and continue searing the meat.  The black stuff is flavor.  Once all the meat is seared and reserved on a separate plate add the onion, a pinch of salt and then the garlic one or two minutes later stirring to keep from burning.  Now add the tomato paste and pincer (French word meaning ‘to fry’) two minutes, stirring continuously.  Add the stock and deglaze the pan with wooden spoon or spatula, scraping the bottom of the pan until all those yummy black bits are removed.  Now add back in the beef, cut up root vegetables, and herbs and a few turns of fresh ground black pepper.  At this point you want the liquid to be 3/4 of the way up in the pan.  It should look like you do not have enough liquid, if you want you can add a bit of water to get it to 3/4 of the way up, resist the urges to cover everything in liquid.  Bring to a simmer and cover, remove to a 275 degree oven and leave alone for 2 hours.  Check the stew 2 hours later and stir.  Check meat for tenderness and taste for seasoning adding salt and black pepper to taste.  If the beef isn’t tender put it back in the oven for another 1-2 hours.

Rebound from a whole30 derailment.

In an effort to clean up my diet after three vacations, four holidays and carb loading for my first marathon I began my third Whole30 in a year on January 3. I was posting daily pictures on Facebook, basically rocking it and having a great time.  On January 19th I volunteered at the Houston Marathon and basically got dehydrated on a hotter than usual day after I accidentally (on purpose) ran 12 miles myself.  I ended up eating a few easily digestible carbs and having a bit of sports drink in an effort to revive my system and derailed my Whole30.  Failure?  NOT AT ALL!  I thoroughly enjoyed the attempt and through that journey I decided to start this blog.  This is my first day back at strict paleo and have decided to not do another official whole30 because I don’t think I need it.

A little more about me…

I am married and have two children, a girl, almost 4 and a boy, 16 months.  I run, do yoga, mess around with some weights here and there and swim when I have time.  I began eating paleo when I was injured and my Ortho told me my bones were inflamed and I should try eating paleo.  It just so happened that a good friend of mine had been talking my ear off about the whole30 she was planning on starting the very next day so I decided right then and there to do it and I was hooked.

So, here’s what I made for dinner.  I know, that’s what you’ve been waiting for right?  This meal is whole30 compliant.

Thai Green Curry with chicken, sweet potato and spinach over yellow cauliflower ‘rice’

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Recipe:

Thai curry paste:

3 medium Thai green chilies

2 cloves garlic

1/2 yellow onion

2 inch piece fresh ginger

small bunch cilantro (stems and tops)

2 stalks lemongrass (white part only)

zest and juice of 1 lime

8 kaffir lime leaves

4-6  Thai basil leaves (regular will work in a pinch)

1tsp coriander seeds crushed

1tsp ground cumin

2tsp Red Boat fish sauce

Add all ingredients to your blender and whir into a paste.  If you need a little more liquid you can add some coconut milk, just enough to make it move in the blender.  I used my Nutri Bullet.

You can use any protein and veggies you like but here’s what I used to complete my recipe.

2lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs (cut into strips and salted with kosher salt)

1 can full fat coconut milk.

Two medium sweet potatoes (peeled and cubed)

4 cups fresh spinach

one head yellow cauliflower (any color will do)

salt and pepper to taste

Simply brown cut up chicken thighs in some coconut oil, remove to a clean plate.  Sauté spinach in same pan, add curry paste (start with half) and coconut milk and stir to incorporate.  Add in the potatoes, chicken and bring to a simmer.  Lower heat and cover for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, in your food processor add cauliflower florets and pulse into ‘rice’.  I do this in 3-4 batches as to not over fill the work bowl.  Heat a pan and add some coconut oil, add in riced cauliflower and a heavy pinch of salt, stir and cover on medium low heat for 5-10 minutes until ‘rice’ is tender.  Check your curry, taste for heat, level of curry flavor and salt.  Adjust by adding more curry paste and Red Boat fish sauce.  Serve over cauliflower rice and enjoy.

(you can try getting the Asian ingredients at your local Asian market, the internet is also a trusty source)