Health · Information · Recipes · Whole30

Whole30 + Ice Cubes

If you checked out my most recent recipe or follow me on Instagram, you may have picked up on some recent little grumblings about Whole30. It’s often referred to as the Whole30 challenge, but it’s essentially a 30 day elimination diet that sounds a lot like paleo on steroids… or I guess, paleo on definitely no steroids whatsoever. The Boyfriend and I completed a round of Whole30 in November of 2015 and despite the struggle of sticking to the rules through Thanksgiving and managing the lack of local/seasonal produce in the winter, it was an overwhelmingly positive experience. We learned so much about our bodies – well, my body mostly – like that I am super sensitive to soy, and for the sake of my skin as well as any living creature in my general vicinity, I should probably not consume dairy, even on slow carb’s allotted cheat days.

We’re coming up on two years since our first Whole30 and I have been itching for another one. If we could make it through a round in November, then summer – with farmers’ markets and damn near everything in bloom – should be a piece of cake (except actually not cake at all because it’s definitely not Whole30 approved).

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Poultry · Recipes · Whole30

Thai Red Curry Chicken

I don’t know what it is about Thai food, but I crave it constantly. Much to my dismay, rice noodles do not fit anywhere into our slow carb or Whole30 lives, so I’ve had to learn to cook some of the good stuff all on my own. This Thai Red Curry chicken is so easy and quick, this might be a new weekly event in our house!

I get our Thai Red Curry paste from a local brand called Thai & True, but any brand is fine as long as it is slow carb/paleo/Whole30 compliant (whichever one you need it to be). I also use a wok-style oil that’s infused with lemongrass and ginger, but this is just something I have on hand and like to use, any cooking fat will do just fine for this recipe! In general, I highly recommend avocado oil and beef tallow for most cooking needs (though beef tallow may not be the best choice for this particular recipe).

Equipment:  
Large non-stick pan
Spatula or stirring utensil

Ingredients: 
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 small onion, finely chopped
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
4 tbsp Thai Red Curry paste
1 13oz can coconut milk
1-2 tbsp fresh Thai basil, stemmed
1-2 tbsp fresh scallions, thinly sliced
1-2 tbsp cooking oil
1/2 tsp coriander
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

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Kid-Friendly · Party Food · Poultry · Recipes · Whole30

Default Wings: DIY

Wings are such a quick, easy, and often very cheap way to make everyone happy. They’re frequently labeled at the butcher counter as “party wings” and are already split up into the flat wing and the drumette, which is perfect for me because The Boyfriend prefers the drums and I want *all* the flats. For a little while I was preparing a new recipe each time we wanted wings, until I finally figured out my “go to” or The Default. If you love wings, but you and your meal buddy want different flavors, this is the recipe for you. The Default delivers perfectly crispy wings with a delicious dry rub every time, ready to be eaten as is or drenched in your sauce of choice.

Equipment:
Oven
Large glass pan
Tongs

Ingredients:
1-2 lbs “party wings”
2 tbsp cooking oil or animal fat of choice
1-2 tbsp granulated garlic
2-3 tsp Diamond Crystal salt

Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease one or two glass pans with your fat of choice, using a silicone brush or other preferred utensil to coat the whole bottom of the pan and up the sides. (You may need two pans if you are making more than one pound of wings, if they are too close together, it can overcrowd the pan and they won’t cook as well or as evenly).

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Recipes · Snacks · Vegetarian · Veggies + Side Dishes · Whole30

Just Beet It! Beet Purée

I’ll be honest, for most of my life beets have been a hard limit. No way, no how, they were not going in my mouth. The taste was fine, a little earthy, whatever; but the texture, ugh I could not get over that texture – and so I spent all my life pushing away my grandma’s borscht and every fancy beet salad at nice restaurants.

“What changed?” you ask. For one, taste buds evolve as you get older. There are so many foods that I used to despise as a child that I love now (mushrooms for one). This doesn’t really help if you have a thing with texture though, so let me just get to the beet story: I recently had the extreme pleasure of ordering my Passover Seder plate contents from authentic-Russian/Ukrainian Portland powerhouse Kachka. Let me just say, if you’re in Portland and looking for a place to eat – you will not be disappointed.

One of the components of the Seder plate is commonly a shank bone or lamb chop, but vegetarians often use root vegetables. Kachka’s z’roah was a phenomenal lamb chop with a beetroot purée. Guys, listen to me when I tell you, this was the most amazing vegetable item I had ever put in my mouth. I licked my plate clean… and the container the purée came in, and the Seder plate, and The Boyfriend’s plate. Revelation: I love beets, and have been on a mission to recreate the recipe since this discovery (took me about… four days). Kachka let me know that their recipe uses a bit of honey which I have obviously omitted as it is not a slow carb compliant ingredient, but feel free to add some in on cheat day or if you’re eating paleo!

If you have never worked with beets before, don’t panic! I hadn’t either, but it was very easy!

For this recipe, you will need: 
Clean kitchen gloves (or two pairs disposable gloves)
Large pot with lid
Strainer (optional, but recommended)
Blender or food processor

Ingredients: 
1 bunch red beets (3-4 large beets)
1-2 tsp olive oil
~ 2 tbsp warm water
Salt, to taste

While wearing gloves, remove greens from beets. Leave the beets whole including the roots (the long skinny part) and about 2″ of the stem – this will help keep the red color from going all over the place. Place the beets in a pot, season with salt to taste, and cover with water.

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Cover pot with lid and bring water to a boil. Allow beets to boil until tender, about 40-45 minutes (very large beets may need some more time). Immediately drain beets and rinse them in cold water for 1-2 minutes. While wearing gloves, gently peel the skins off the beets – they should just slip right off along with the root, no peelers needed!

Allow beets to cool on a cutting board for at least 15 minutes. I gently cut the beets into a few large pieces so the insides would cool as well.

Once beets are cool to the touch, add them to the bowl of your blender or food processor with salt, olive oil, and 1 tbsp warm water. Blend until smooth or desired texture. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed – if your purée is very thick, you may need to add a bit more water or oil – and blend again.

Serve as is, or refrigerate and serve cool (I like it cold). Eat within 2-3 days.

Recipes · Sauces · Vegetarian · Veggies + Side Dishes · Whole30

Sweet Hundos: Oven-Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce

Courtesy of our lovely next-door neighbors, late last week I found myself with close to four pounds of cherry tomatoes in the kitchen, mostly of the irresistibly orange Sweet 100 variety. We couldn’t possibly eat them all, and soup was out of the question – have you ever peeled that many tiny tomatoes? I certainly wasn’t going to. So here it is, oven-roasted cherry tomato sauce: so good, I literally ate half the jar before it had cooled enough to put away.

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For this recipe, you will need: 
Large baking pan (glass recommended)
Food processor
Heat-safe jar (glass recommended)
Plastic bags for freezing (optional)

Ingredients:
2-3 lbs cherry tomatoes (Sweet 100, or other variety)
6-8 cloves garlic, peeled
1-2 tsp onion powder
2-3 tbsp high quality oil (olive or avocado)
~ 0.5 oz fresh basil (10-15 g)

Gently remove stems from all tomatoes and rinse with cold water (I saw a hobo spider while out in the garden, so I made sure to wash them really well).

Pour 1-2 tbsp oil in a glass pan, tilting the pan to cover most of the bottom. Add tomatoes, garlic, onion powder, and an additional 1-2 tbsp of oil and carefully toss – you want to be gentle so the tomatoes don’t break, but you also want them to be coated with the onion powder and in a flat layer.

Roast in the oven for 30-35 minutes, until tomatoes are soft and wrinkly and liquid is lightly boiling. Remove from oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes.

Oven ready!
Oven ready!

Transfer full contents of the pan (including any liquid) to a food processor. Add fresh basil, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste. Blend for 1-2 minutes or until desired texture is reached (some people like it chunky, but I like it pretty smooth).

Transfer sauce to a heat safe container like a mason jar and let cool before storing in the fridge.

Serve with… basically everything. I put it in my roast chicken and even in a sausage and pepper stir-fry! Or just eat it with a spoon, ’cause it’s really that good.

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This recipe makes about one quart of sauce. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week or frozen in a ziplock bag for 1-2 months (to defrost, place bag in a bowl of warm water).

Beef · CrockPot · Health · Kid-Friendly · Recipes · Soup · Whole30

Rosemary Bone Broth

I have written, deleted, and re-written this post like 10 times now. There is just so much information about the endless benefits of drinking bone broth, I’m kicking myself for not trying it earlier. It’s delicious, it’s super easy, and it’s really really good for you – what more do you need? Just ask your butcher for a few pounds of beef soup bones – femurs or knuckles – and get cookin!

No, but seriously – the list of health benefits is astounding. Bone broth is packed with nutrients and minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium as well as amino acids like glycine and proline which promote a healthy gut, and aid in digestion, growth, even muscle repair. I could write about all the good stuff in bone broth for ages, but let’s just get to how you can make it at home and then you can see all the benefits for yourself!

Special Equipment/Appliances: 
Large slow cooker/crock pot
Fine mesh strainer
Cheese cloth (optional but recommended)
Mason jar or other glass container(s), for storage

Ingredients: 
2 lbs beef soup/marrow bones (femur or knuckle)
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
~ 4 L cold water (about 16 cups)

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Add marrow bones to slow cooker. Cover with water by at least 3″ – this took about 3.5L (~14 cups) for my 5 quart crockpot. Add 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar and 3 large sprigs fresh rosemary (the rosemary will be removed after the first 12 hours, so if you are using dried herbs or smaller pieces, I recommend placing them in a spice bag or using a string to tie them). Note: Do not, I repeat DO NOT, add salt. As the broth reduces, the salt will likely become too concentrated and will ruin you broth – it is best to add other herbs and seasoning later, in individual portions, when serving.

Set on low for 36-48 hours.

After the first 12 hours, remove the rosemary. Left in for longer, it will become bitter and start to disintegrate.

After 24 hours, add back some of the water that has evaporated. You still want to keep the water line about 3″ over the top of the bones.

The longer you let it simmer, the better it will be, but I am impatient and only managed 42 hours before I had to have it!

Line your mesh strainer with a thin piece of cheesecloth (one or two layers) and place it over a large bowl or mason jar. My strainer is quite large so I had to do this over a bowl and then pour it into the mason jars for storage.

Using a large ladle, run the bone broth through the strainer and cheesecloth – this ensures there will be no muck or bone fragments in your pretty broth! If you used a separate bowl like I did, carefully transfer your broth into your storage containers (I used large 1/2 gallon and quart mason jars). If you have a smaller strainer, you can place this over the top of your mason jar to strain it one final time – not necessary, but certainly won’t hurt.

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Leave uncovered on the counter to cool. As the fat comes to the top and solidifies, you can remove it with a spoon if so compelled, but it will render back down when microwaved so feel free to leave it in if you like it! Store in the fridge for up to one week.

Just be mindful, when you take it out of the fridge, it will act and look like jello. You made cow jello, and it is amazing!

To serve, season with salt and pepper and microwave about two minutes per mug. This would also make a great base for French onion soup, but we quite like it as is.

Enjoy!

Pork · Recipes · Skills/Techniques · Vegetarian · Whole30

Kimchi Fried Cauli-Rice

A few months ago, The Boyfriend and I took a little trip through Seattle and Vancouver, BC to celebrate his 30th birthday. While in Vancouver, we had the good fortune to grab seats at the bar at one of the renowned Guu Izakaya restaurants. The special that evening just happened to be kimchi fried rice with pork intestine… and we’ve been talking about it ever since.

There’s just something about fried rice – it’s both exotic and comforting, simple and complex. I could philosophize for ages, but let’s just get to the cooking.  I’ve made cauliflower rice before, so switching out regular rice for the cauli-good-stuff was no big deal. I had originally intended for this part of dinner to last us at least two days, but that just didn’t happen. Thankfully, cauliflower is packed with far more nutrients and other healthy goodies than rice so no real harm in filling up, other than the lack of leftovers. Guess I’ll just have to make it again!

Ingredients: 
1 large head cauliflower
8 oz kimchi
5 slices bacon (optional*)
3 large eggs
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste

Appliances/Special Equipment: 
Food processor or food mill
Large non-stick pan
1 small bowl

* if you are not using bacon for dietary or personal preferences, you will need about 3 tbsp of oil (avocado recommended) to replace the bacon grease.

Wash and clean the cauliflower, chop into medium-sized florets, and set on a paper towel to dry. Working in small batches, pulse the cauliflower in a food processor or run it through a food mill until it resembles rice (you can see the full length recipe in detailhere). Place cauliflower “rice” in a large microwave safe bowl, microwave for 60 seconds, and set aside.

Using a very sharp knife, chop 8 oz kimchi into smaller pieces (I make them just slightly larger than “bite size”) and set aside. Again using a sharp knife, slice bacon strips into smaller, bite-size pieces. Finally, using a fork or whisk, scramble three eggs together in a small bowl.

Heat a large non-stick pan on medium-high heat (~ 8/10). Add about half of the bacon pieces, using tongs or a spatula to make sure they don’ t stick together. After about 2 minutes, add the rest of the bacon pieces – varying the cooking times makes for a fun change in texture and keeps everybody happy (The Boyfriend prefers the crispiest of bacon, I’m less excited by this). Continue cooking bacon for 3-5 minutes, stirring/flipping often to insure even cooking and that pieces don’t stick together.

Add all 8 oz of kimchi to the pan, stirring frequently for about 3 minutes or until cabbage begins to soften. Dump the entire batch of cauli-rice into the pan, stirring immediately so it’s not just sitting on top of the bacon and kimchi (it will start to burn this way). Continue cooking cauliflower mixture, stirring often, for about 7 minutes or until cauliflower begins to brown. Finally, dump the scrambled eggs over the cauliflower mixture, stirring/flipping all contents of the pan (so the eggs are fully incorporated) for about 3 minutes or until eggs are no longer raw.

Remove contents of pan to a large bowl and serve immediately.

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Recipes · Sauces · Skills/Techniques · Vegetarian · Whole30

Stomping Grounds: Five Minute Mustard (sort of)

Mmmmustard. So yummy. So much sugar… at least, in all the good store-bought varieties, and I’ve had enough! It’s probably the easiest condiment to make, and yet it’s constantly packed full of sugar and other crap no one needs to eat. Don’t recognize an ingredient? Neither will your body.

Right, sorry for that little rant. Back to the mustard. This is, in all seriousness, the easiest condiment to make at home and completely, 100% slow carb. It’ll take just a few minutes to pull together, then let it ripen on the counter for a few hours and you’ve got a spicy, pungent mustard way better than that $12 bottle on your shelf.

This recipe makes about 4 servings (two dinners for The Boyfriend and myself), we had the first half tonight mixed with a touch of mayonnaise for my Whatsername Fish Tacos.
Adjust proportions accordingly for a bigger group – this stuff is gonna fly away fast!

Ingredients: 
1 tbsp yellow mustard seed
1 tbsp black or brown mustard seed
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp + 1 tsp water
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp mustard powder

Special Equipment: 
Mortar & pestle/molcajete (recommended) or equivalent, such as a spice grinder
Mason jar or other canning jar

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Using your mortar and pestle, grind the mustard seeds to desired size. I prefer them quite coarse, but to each their own. Keep in mind: the finer your ground, the spicier and more potent your mustard will be.

Add ground mustard seeds to your jar of choice, and add in remaining ingredients. Mix well with a fork (forks have become my preferred mixing tool as the tines prevent too much product loss, unlike all the good stuff that would get stuck to a spoon).

Let the ripening process begin!
Let the ripening process begin!

Leave your mustard uncovered on the counter to ripen for at least one hour, up to eight hours (your mustard will stop ripening once refrigerated). I’ve read that you can actually cure it for several days at room temperature (covered of course), but have yet to try this – perhaps next time.

If you want to get really creative, replace the water with a dry white wine or even beer for a deeper, more complex flavor (haven’t tried this yet either, but one of the benefits of making small batches is plenty of opportunity to experiment!)

Store unused mustard in the refrigerator.

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Breakfast · Kid-Friendly · Recipes · Snacks · Whole30

The Perfect Boiled Egg

From a distance, boiling an egg seems like the simplest task of all things food. I’m here to tell you this is false. In my years of egg loving and eating, there have been many an overcooked yolk, exploded shells, and deformed whites. Properly boiling an egg is damn near a science, and I’ve finally figured it out.

Whether it’s soft-, medium-, or hard-boiled eggs you’re after, I’ve got the answer for you right here. No matter what I’m making, this is the process I follow and it’s served me well e

Ingredients: 
6 large eggs, preferably a week old (farm fresh if possible)
1/2 tsp baking soda

Equipment: 
1 medium-sized pot

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Sprinkle with coarse salt and dig in!

Place the eggs in the bottom of the pot, coat with 1/2 tsp baking soda, and cover with water at least 2″ over the eggs. Bring water to a boil over medium-high heat. Allow water to continue boiling for the following times:

Soft-boiled eggs: 3 minutes
Medium-boiled: 5-6 minutes (pictured)
Hard-boiled: 8+ minutes

If you are boiling eggs for something like my Top Secret Deviled Eggs, I usually let them go for about 10 minutes.

Immediately remove pot from heat and place in the sink. Run cold water over the eggs for about two minutes. Alternatively, remove eggs from the pot using a slotted spoon and place into a bowl of cold water and ice (prepare ahead of time).

Peel the eggs – the sooner the better. I do this by lightly tapping them on the edge of the sink or the counter, starting at the top and going down around the whole egg lengthwise. Repeat this process across the width of the egg (horizontal).

Date Night · Party Food · Poultry · Recipes · Whole30

Hold the Sizzle: Fiery Chicken Fajitas

If you’re anything like me, you really love fajitas. You love fajitas almost as much as you hate burning your fingers on the damn cast iron skillet that restaurants insist on serving your food on. Every time, they tell me, “don’t touch the plate, it’s hot” and every time, I burn myself one way or another. Never again!

Ingredients: 
3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 jalapeño peppers, or equivalent
3 tbsp avocado oil
1 tbsp rice vinegar

Seasoning: 
3 tsp cilantro
1 tsp chipotle powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp True Lime (or 1 tbsp fresh lime juice)

Necessary Appliances/Special Equipment: 
1 medium-sized bowl
1 small bowl for mixing spices
1 large non-stick pan
1 rubber baking spatula or equivalent (large spoon, etc)

Slice chicken breasts into strips, about 1/2″ thick by 1″-2″ long and place into a medium-sized bowl. Remove seeds from hot peppers and slice into thin strips, add these to the bowl as well.

In a small bowl, combine all the herbs/spices and stir with a fork (if using fresh lime juice, do not add this in yet). Add 3 tbsp avocado oil, 1 tbsp rice vinegar, 1 tbsp lime juice (if using), and all herbs/spices to the bowl of chicken and peppers. Mix gently but thoroughly with rubber spatula or spoon, making sure chicken is evenly coated. Allow chicken and peppers to marinate at room temperature for 15-20 minutes.

Marinate at room temperature for 15-20 minutes.
Marinate at room temperature for 15-20 minutes.

Heat a large non-stick pan on medium heat – you won’t need to add more oil since the chicken has been marinated in some. Dump entire bowl of chicken/pepper mixture into the pan. Sautee over medium heat until chicken is fully cooked through – since the pieces are small, it will be difficult to check the internal temperature, so I usually cut one of the larger pieces in half to make sure the inside is fully cooked.

Serve immediately.