Sunday, September 29, 2013

Paleo Chicken Fried "Rice"

I LOVE Chinese take-out.  However, when the doc said I needed to go Paleo/Primal I was like, “NO RICE?!”  And I had heard from others that cauliflower “rice” was great, but I was a total skeptic.  How could cauliflower even remotely resemble or taste like rice...BUT– I will try it and see.

So I found the below recipe and tweaked it so it was a little easier for busy ladies like myself.  

It came out FABULOUS!  I, in fact, would choose the below recipe over Chinese take-out  any day now.  I make it at least once a week so I can have it for dinner and then lunch at work as well.  It reheats in the microwave at work very well (I have had comments such as, "That smells SO good!  Where'd you get that??").  It is more filling than the traditional Chicken Fried Rice and you get a ton of veggies in for the day because it is mostly veggies!

You could replace the chicken with shrimp or roasted pork or leave it out all together and bulk up the veggies if you'd rather.  It looks daunting with all the ingredients but I truly suggest that you do your prep work before you start cooking (i.e.: chop your veggies or buy them chopped already, measure out your spices, and get out your separate bowls so they are ready to go for you to transfer your cooked eggs and chicken to them from the skillet.  Once that prep work is done, this is a breeze.)

Paleo Chicken Fried “Rice”

  • 1-1 ½ C frozen, ready to go grilled organic chicken
  • 1 slice fresh lemon
  • 1 small head organic cauliflower separated in florets
  • 2 organic eggs
  • 1T & 1t (separately) powdered ginger
  • 1 large garlic clove minced
  • 1 large shallot sliced
  • 1/2C sliced fresh mushroom
  • 1/2C diced carrots
  • 1/2C diced broccoli
  • (I have also thrown in some chopped celery and you can add colorful bell peppers – chopped – as well.  Whatever you like to bulk it up even more.)
  • 3 tablespoons coconut aminos 
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce

To “rice “ your cauliflower:
  1. Clean your cauliflower if its leaves
  2. Then wash it well and cut into florets
  3. Using a food processor, pulsate the cauliflower until the pieces are the size of rice. Set aside.  If you don't have a food processor you can use a cheese grater or a food chopper and do it by hand.  The food processor does make it go quickly though.

It will look like rice – totally for real!

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the two eggs. 
  2. Heat 1 teaspoon of EV coconut oil in a skillet ( I actually use a large saute pan and it worked great!) over medium heat. 
  3. Add eggs, scramble, and when cooked remove to a separate bowl
  4. Heat an additional 1 tablespoon of EV coconut oil in the skillet over medium high heat. 
  5. Add frozen chicken and add teaspoon of powdered ginger and lemon juice to chicken and cook until defrosted.  Remove to a cutting board and chop up some.  Then put in a separate bowl.
  6. Add one teaspoon of EV coconut oil, carrots,broccoli and any other veggies you might like to use to the skillet. Cook for 2 minutes. 
  7. Next add in shallot, garlic, ginger, mushroom, tamari, sesame oil and fish sauce to skillet. Continue cooking over medium heat for 3 more minutes.
  8. Add in cauliflower "rice" to skillet and mix.  Cover and cook for 3 minutes. 
  9. Add in cooked chicken and scrambled egg. Cover with lid and cook for 2-3 more minutes or until "rice" is tender (but not too mushy).
  10. Add in additional black pepper, tamari, sesame oil, and fish sauce to taste.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Pectin Free Peach Preserves!

I love peaches!  In fact most of my teen years were spent working the long island summers on a peach farm.  White, yellow, freestone and cling peaches - it's just that time of year.  And although they are only here for three months a year - you can keep them with you all year long!

Here's how - Peach Preserves!

14 medium peaches (peeled , pitted and cut up) - I used freestone b/c they are easiest and peeled the peaches like you peel an apple.
1 1/2 -2C sugar in the raw or organic sugar
1/4C organic lemon juice
1/2t cinnamon

1. Put the cut up peaches in the sauce pan you are going to use, pour the lemon juice over them and then pour the sugar over them.  Here's the hard part - let them just sit that way on the counter for 1-2hrs.

2. Meanwhile make sure you have your glass jars and lids washed and ready to go.

3. Then put your peaches on the stove and bring to a boil for 25-30mins.  As they are a cooking, use a potato masher and mash up the peaches until they look more preserves like.  Also stir constantly - do not leave the stove.  Since we are not using pectin they are more likely to burn if you leave them unattended.

4. By now they should be thickened up.  Take the pot off the stove and carefully fill your jars, wipe the rims clean and put on the lids.  Some people leave them on the counter and let the lids pop - I prefer to use the water bath canning method them.  You can also keep them in the fridge or put some in the freezer if using freezer safe containers.  YUM!!!

Friday, May 24, 2013

CSA Recipe #8 - Asparagus & Chicken Packages

This was SO good!  I found this recipe and modified so it would be soy free, egg free and gluten free.  Since it called for mayonnaise, which contains in all brands (even at whole foods) soy and eggs - I used the ONLY brand I can find in Nashville that doesn't contain either.  Also, I replaced panko bread crumbs with mashed up GF potato chips (look for GF potato chips because sometimes potato chips are not totally GF).

All that said, I am not usually a big asparagus gal and we got about two dozen of them in the last two weeks.  And Darren isn't a big saucy dish person.  However, I thought I would try this because it looked fancy, maybe a little French and not all that hard, which in the end it was all these things.

They came out DEE-LISH!  And this was an exclamation from both Darren and I, so I know it was a WIN!

It looks a little messy but SO GOOD!
Here you go:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (I used Follow Your Heart Soy Free Veganaise)
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
  • 2 teaspoons dried tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 16 spears fresh asparagus, trimmed
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 4 slices provolone cheese
  • 1 cup Kettle brand low fat lightly salted kettle chips, mashed up to crumbs

  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F (245 degrees C). Take the provolone out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature while you prep - this way it won't crumble when you are working with it.  Grease a glass baking dish. In a bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, lemon zest, tarragon, thyme, salt, and pepper until the mixture is well combined. Cover and put in the fridge for 30minutes.
  2. Cook asparagus in the microwave on High until bright green and just tender, 1 minutes (if using a steamer put 1T water in the bottom). Set the asparagus spears aside. Place a chicken breast between two sheets of heavy plastic (resealable freezer bags work well) on a solid, level surface. Firmly pound the chicken breast with the smooth side of a meat mallet to a thickness of about 1/4 inch. Repeat with the rest of the chicken breasts.  The thinner the chicken the easier it is to roll up.
  3. Place 1 slice of provolone on each chicken breast, and top the cheese with 4 asparagus spears per breast. Roll the chicken breasts around the asparagus and cheese, like a burrito.  Secure them with two toothpicks and place, seam side down, in the prepared baking dish. Salt and pepper the tops and then, with a pastry brush, schmear on the mayonnaise mixture to each chicken breast, and sprinkle each with potato chips.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven until the crumbs are browned and the chicken juices run clear, about 25 minutes.

SUPPER GOOD!  I served with boiled red potatoes dressed with ghee, s&p & parsley.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

CSA Recipe #7 - Super Goldilocks Green Smoothie and under 300 calories!

I have been trying to figure out how to make a low cal healthy smoothie that isn't fruit overload because of the sugar content in the fruit. I am not big on super sugary smoothies and juices.  So I had some veggies from my CSA this week and thought - let me try this...

So I took the below, blended it all together and it came out pretty good!  Not too sweet and super filling!  Not too sweet, not too savory - Just right!

This recipe will make 2 servings - according to "" - 1 serving is 187 calories.

Ingredients (layer in your blender in this order):
2C Kale (or other leafy green)
1/2 cucumber - peeled and chunked
2T flax seed meal
1 granny smith apple - peeled and chuncked
2C water
(at this point cover and puree for 1-2minutes)
then add in:
1/2 banana chunked
1/2 C fresh pineapple chunks
1/2 avocado
blend again for 2minutes

You may want to add 2-3 ice cubes if you like it thicker.

I have read you can pre-make smoothies by leaving out the ice cubes, putting these in mason jars with 1T of lemon juice on top.  Close, shake and stick in the fridge.  I am going to try this this week and will let you know if it works.

Enjoy a dairy free raw food breakfast or snack!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

CSA Recipe # 6 - Spiced Sweet Potato Cookies (Vegan and GF)

This is for all my new friends at the West End at Vine Farmer's Market that asked for the recipe so they could make their own.  If you'd like to save time and buy them, I will have them for sale at the Farmer's Market this coming Saturday by popular request!

I had some wicked GINORMOUS sweet taters in my first 2 CSA boxes.  I think I gave away four of them and still had a cool half dozen.  And what to do?  They are kind of a fall veggie and you can only eat so many oven fries or baked sweet potato…  So I looked around and found a recipe that I modified and VOILA sweet potato cookies! GLUTEN FREE!

And may I say, I love that I can cook and teach vocal lessons at the same time when it involves roasting things (i.e.: squashes and sweet potatoes) b/c they take about an hour and if I throw the squash or potato in at the beginning of a lesson it’s done by the time my student is ready to leave…but like last night, my one student kept asking, “What is that I smell?”  I say, “Sweet potato”.  And then they look longingly at my kitchen and say, “Oh I love sweet potato.  I am getting McDonalds on the way home…(sigh)”  I told her to drop by the Farmer’s Market Saturday if she wanted to try one of these cookies I was making with the sweet potatoes.
Anyway – here we go..
  • 2 cups Gluten Free Oat Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine Sea Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup (1 large) mashed Sweet Potato
  • 1/2 cup Virgin Coconut Oil, melted
  • 3/4 cup Light Unsweetened Coconut Milk
  • 1 ½ T coconut sugar
  • 1/4 C Agave Maple Syrup
To deal with your Sweet Potato:
Preheat the oven to 400.  Wash and clean your sweet potato(s).  Then poke it a bunch of times with a fork (just like you do with a regular potato.)  Then line a cookie sheet with foil, place the potato(s) on there and bake for 45-60mins – until you can easily piece the potato with a fork.  Once done, let cool for 30mins.  Then peel and mash.  I will do a couple potatoes at a time and then freeze the mash for later use.
For the cookies:
In the bowl of a stand mixer (or the bowl you will do the most work in) – mix together all dry ingredients.  In a 2nd bowl blend together the wet ingredients.  Add wet to dry and then blend on low with your electric stand mixer (or a handheld) for about 2-3minutes.  Make sure it is mixed well.
Then using a cookie scoop or 2 teaspoons drop batter on to parchment lined or well grease baking sheets or a cooking stone.  Bake for 20mins and check.  If still wet bake in 2 min intervals until done.  Cool on foil or bakers racks.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

CSA Recipe #5 - Ham & Sweet Potato Kabobs in Mustard Bourbon Marinade

I made this one up on the fly.  I am on CSA box number 2 and in both boxes I got about six ginormous sweet potatoes - I started giving them away!  I know they are good for me and all but there are only so many ways you can cook one - baked, oven fries, casserole - but it is getting to be summer and we want to grill out.  So I pondered...

Then I got my order from Peaceful Pastures, a farm that treats their animals well, produces pasture fed meats that are organic and dee-lish!  Plus you get a bar of homemade soap (not sure of the connection but it's quite nice) with each order.  Well, when we got home and went through our order - I found that I received ham cubes...  Not the pre-cooked small chopped ham from the grocery.  I am talking chunks of really good quality ham.  So I asked around what to do with these?  Then I thought we should skewer them and grill them!  What goes with ham better than sweet potatoes?!  And thus this recipe was born.

It is gluten and dairy free, as well as clean eating friendly!

For the meat maranade:

  • 3T maple syrup
  • 6T Dijon Mustard (the kind with the white wine worked well)
  • 3T bourbon (Since I am in TN - we used good o'Jack Daniels!)
  • 3T Coconut Aminos (if you are ok with gluten you can use reduced sodium soy sauce here)
  • 1lb Ham cubes (or you can cut a pork tenderloin into bite sized cubes and use them.

Combine all of the above in either a tightly sealed plastic container or a zip top baggie.  Make sure everything is mixed and coated well and then pop it in the fridge for at least 2hrs.

For the Sweet taters:

  • 1 large or 2 medium sweet taters - peeled and cut into bite sized cubes
  • 2T Maple Syrup
  • 2t ghee (if you are good with dairy use a table spoon of real butter)
  • 1t cinnamon
  • 3T water

In a microwave safe dish that has a lid, put your sweet taters and the water.  Cover and cook for 3mins. When done, drain them and then add the maple syrup, cinnamon and ghee - toss until well mixed and ghee is melted.

Whats left:

You will just need 1 can of pineapple chunks - in juice drained

If you are using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 5mins before putting your kabobs together.

When you're ready to assemble - alternate ham, sweet taters and pineapple - the grill them for about 10-15minutes - rotating half way through.

I served it all over rice and boy oh boy SO good!  I am probably going to soak a whole pork loin in the marinade next!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Recipes for Relaxation!

Hello My Little Maters!  I am still in the kitchen cooking up great grub but what I also can cook up some great spa products in the kitchen too!  And I can make these "clean" too - so I have started making sugar scrubs and body butters.  I love these things.

They have three ingredients and you will recognize all of them!  In my scrubs are sugar, olive oil and either vanilla extract or organic peppermint oil.  In my whipped body butters, coconut oil, olive oil and either peppermint or organic lavender oil.

I have gotten my feet into summer sandal shape with the vanilla scrub and lavender whipped body butter and thought I should share with you!

Vanilla Sugar Scrub & Lavender Whipped Body Butter
I am offering them for $7 for an 8oz jar or 2 for $12.  If you'd like to order please email me at    Unless we have another weekend downpour, this Saturday I will be at the West End at Vine Farmer's Market this Saturday selling them.  Come down and treat your feet to a spa treatment or get a set for Mom if you need a last minute Mother's Day gift!

I will also be doing a cooking demo to share with you what to do with all those veggies in your CSA share!  We will be sampling a Roasted Beet and Feta salad and Gluten Free Vegan Sweet Potato Cookies!  FREE tastes and recipes will be given away!

Friday, April 19, 2013

CSA Recipe #4 - Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

I always wanted to cook squash but I thought it was too hard to do or didn't know what to when I found three butternut squash in my CSA box I was a little concerned.  However, I thought, I have conquered a spaghetti squash!  I can do this!  So, I persevered!  I asked around and again, Foodie Friend Kim shared this recipe with me.  I thought it would be difficult to do all this but honestly, it was pretty easy.  I prepped the squash and popped it in the oven, then I taught a voice lesson and then it was done!  And then I made the soup and it was quite a pleasant experience.

Of course I made this dairy free (it's gluten free by nature) but you would never know.  I had it for dinner tonight and it was lovely!  Creamy and just divine!

Here's to recipe #4!  I am no longer afraid of squash!


    • 2 medium whole butternut squash, halved lengthwise and seeds removed
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick) (I used ghee - to make it dairy free)
    • 1 medium Granny Smith apple (about 8 ounces)
    • 1/2 medium yellow onion
    • 8 fresh sage leaves
    • 2 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
    • 2 1/2 cups water
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
    • 1/3 cup heavy cream ( I used unsweetened coconut milk or you could use unflavored coconut coffee creamer to make it dairy free like I did)
    • 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds, for garnish (optional)


    1. Heat the oven to 425°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
    2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the squash pieces cut-side up on the baking sheet. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and brush all of it over the tops and insides of the squash halves (alternatively, you can rub it on evenly with your fingers). Season generously with salt and pepper. Roast until knife tender, about 50 minutes to 1 hour.
    3. Meanwhile, peel, core, and cut the apple into medium dice. Cut the onion into medium dice. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the apple, onion, and sage, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
    4. When the squash is ready, set the baking sheet on a wire rack until the squash is cool enough to handle. Using a large spoon, scoop the flesh into the saucepan with the sauteed apples and onions; discard the skins.
    5. Add the broth, water, and measured salt and pepper, stir to combine, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally and breaking up any large pieces of squash, until the flavors meld, about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cream.
    6. Using a blender, purée the soup in batches until smooth, removing the small cap from the blender lid (the pour lid) and covering the space with a kitchen towel (this allows steam to escape and prevents the lid from popping off). Alternatively, use an immersion blender. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve garnished with the pumpkin seeds, if using.
  • This was really good - more of an Autumn type of thing but it was still great flavor!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

CSA Recipe #3 - Rustic Tuscan Cannelloni Bean and Kale Soup!

Kale is the new "IT" food for smoothies and what not but I wanted to try something else.  So I found a recipe for Tuscan Soup and modified it a bit.  I do think I will make it again and add some garlic, but for now here it is.

I enjoyed this hearty soup - it was super filling and a lot of flavor.  Darren wasn't sure about it but said he didn't dislike it.  That is was something that he had never had before.  Growing up in an Italian household, these flavors were more up my alley and I am still on the "MORE GARLIC" subject with it around the house.

That said - it is a great weeknight meal - about 60minutes from fridge to table and served with a crusty Italian or Sourdough bread and a glass of Vini Verdi, a dry sparkling white wine, it was good!  

Since I have left over kale I may try it again with the extra garlic and will update if that does the trick!

YUMMY Peaceful Pastures Bacon!
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 8 slices thick cut farm fresh bacon (I get mine in TN at Peaceful Pastures – grass fed, humanely raised etc.)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans organic diced tomatoes (I used the ones with italian spices in there already), undrained
  • 2C organic chicken broth (I used Better than Bouillon organic)
  • 6 cups loosely packed chopped kale

Simmerin' in the pot!
  1. In a dutoven (I used my ceramic coated cast iron pot), cook and stir bacon on medium heat until crisp. 
  2. Remove bacon from pan with slotted spoon; drain on paper towels. 
  3. Discard all but 1 Tbsp. bacon drippings from pan. 
  4. Add onions to pan; cook and stir 5 min. or until crisp-tender. 
  5. Crumble the bacon and return bacon to pan along with the beans, tomatoes, broth and 1/4 cup of the remaining cheese; stir. Simmer on medium-low heat 20 min., stirring occasionally. 
  6. Add kale; cook 10 min.


Serve with a crusty bread dipped in olive oil and YUMMY!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

CSA recipe #2! - Kim's Famous Collard Greens!

Since I am a southern New Yorker, descended from Southern Italians but not a Southerner, I thought, I want to eat these collard greens I got in my first CSA box ever but had no idea at how to start or where.  

So I was at work and I hollered out, “Does anyone know what to do with collard greens?” in my office.  And got several, “I love those!” and then one lone voice from across the room, “I am famous for mine.  If you want, I can take them, make them and then bring them in for us all to try.”  I said SURE!  So long as I can take pictures and get your recipe for my blog.  Since Kim, my office mate and fellow foodie loves this kind of thing – she is my guest home chef recipe for this one.

Now I have had collards before and a lot of times they are very tangy or that je ne sais quoi that is just a little left of center of my taste buds.  HOWEVER, Kim's were AMAZING!  All of us lovely ladies at the office chowed down on some fabulous southern fare at lunch and I got Kim's recipe and am sharing it here with you.  I swear – if you didn't like collards before you will now!  Another plus - this recipe (when made with your right choices) is paleo friendly, gluten free and dairy free!

Here's what they look like alone
  • About 3 heads of collards
  • 4T – Vegetable Oil (I am thinking Olive would be good)
  • 6 slices bacon (real or turkey) or a whole ham hock
  • 4C warm water
  • ½t garlic salt (Kim says – don't get fancy and try fresh garlic b/c it won't taste the same)
  • 1t red pepper flakes
  • ½t ground black pepper

(NOTE: if you use real bacon you may want to half the amount of garlic salt) 

This was our lunch - grilled chicken, black-eyed peas &
Kim's Famous Collards!!  YUMMY SCRUMCIOUS!
  1. Soak the greens in a sink of cold water for a few minutes, to rinse off the dirt/debris.
  2. Place on dry towel and allow to air dry for about 15 minutes.
  3. Clean greens by removing the leaves from the ribbing, discard ribbing.
  4. In large pot, add 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
  5. Render meat in oil until brown (turkey bacon/bacon should be diced, ham hock left whole.)
  6. Add 4 cups of warm water to pot and bring to boil.
  7. Add ½ of greens, tearing them in pieces as adding to pot.
  8. Sprinkle greens with garlic salt, red pepper flake and ground black pepper.
  9. Add the remainder of the greens.
  10. Sprinkle 2nd batch of greens with garlic salt, red pepper flake and ground black pepper.
  11. Make sure greens are covered with water, so add more if needed.
  12. After greens boil for 10 minutes, turn heat down to low boil or simmer.
  13. Cook for about 2 hours, stirring them occasionally.


Friday, April 12, 2013

CSA recipe #1 - Garlic Broccolini Pasta with Tomatoes - Clean Eating, gluten free, dairy free

When I picked up my first CSA box last Saturday the first thing I saw was the broccolini and I was like - I got this one!  I love Broccolini (aka Broccoli RabeRabe or baby broccoli).  It tastes like broccoli but not as strong and acts like asparagus when you cook it. 
Here is my broccolini after I trimmed it
Now the traditional route is to put it with sausage but I (a) wanted something different and (b) we didn't have any sausage.  So - I went with what I had - left over grilled chicken.  You can make this meat free if you are a veggie or vegan and it will still be awesome.  I also thought if you'd rather shrimp - that would be great too.  So here it goes:

2T Olive Oil
3 cloves garlic - sliced thin
2 medium tomatoes - diced
2C broccolini - washed and snipped to about 3-4inches from the tops
2t ghee (this is clarified butter for those of us who can't have dairy but if you can have dairy use 1T REAL butter)
1 boneless skinless chicken breast - grilled and diced (optional or can replace with shrimp)
1/4C white wine
1-2T lemon juice
1lb thin spaghetti (i used rice pasta - gluten free)
Here is were everything is cooking up!
1. heat oil in a saute pan and put in the garlic mash while sauteing - do not burn.
2. swirl in ghee (butter) until melted
3. Add the tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes
4. cook pasta as directed
5. add wine and lemon juice and simmer for 3-5 minutes
6. When you have 5mins left until your pasta is done - throw in the broccolini
7. Drain pasta when finished and then toss together with your saute.

OMG!  So yummy!  Darren isn't big on green veggies but went back twice - SO it had to be just as good as I thought it was. Add a glass of pinot grigio and a lovely summer meal.  

Sunday, April 7, 2013

My Spring CSA Adventure!

First - you may ask - What is a CSA? It's Community Supported Agriculture. At the beginning of the season, you buy in a share and then over the harvesting (about 8-12wks depending on your CSA) you get about a bushel a week of what is harvested.

I decided we were going to try one this Spring and whatever was in the box, we would use. Well Here's my box: Collards, Kale, Scallions, Sweet Potatoes, Butternut Squash & Broccoli Rabe. So I have NEVER eaten all of that except Sweet Potatoes and Broccoli Rabe. So I am going to attempt some new things. With my Kale I will make a Tuscan soup, my Broccoli Rabe a pasta dish and my Collards - something southern. I will post my recipes and let you know how I liked them.

Hopefully this will inspire you to challenge your tastebuds and support your local farmer as well. :) Welcome to Spring my little maters!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

40 Cloves and a Chicken - SUCCESS!

I tried a version of this last year and it was an epic fail.  It took me about a year to get up the gumption to try again.  And I thought about it, would Julia Child use a crockpot?  Non! Non! Non!  I could hear her saying to me.  Find your cast iron enameled pot and kick it old school!  (Not sure she would use that phrase but that's what I told myself).  It was a much better experience.

I had gone a little overboard at the grocery one week.  Four grass fed organic chicken legs for less than $4 a pack?!  WHOOPIE!  Takes so little to excite me...I got two packages.  Then I got home and was like – what the heck am I going to do with eight chicken legs...  Then I remembered I wanted to retry the Chicken and 40 cloves.  

Normally, you are supposed to get a whole chicken and cut it in eight pieces but I had eight chicken legs instead.  So I thought ok – one little modification won't kill me.  And so here it goes....

  • 8 pieces of chicken – bone in (so use legs, breasts, a whole chicken cut up - what have you)
  • 40 cloves of garlic – 3-4 bulbs yields 40.  Peeled (you can buy them already peeled but I cut my own b/c it's fresher and my Aunt would kill me if I used bottled.
  • 2T Olive Oil - used to brown the chicken in
  • 1/2C Olive Oil - used for cooking it in the oven
  • 10 (or a handful) of fresh Thyme – washed and patted dry

This is before - not sprinkle in the garlic so it flavors the chicken evenly

SUPER easy – I think the hardest thing is peeling the garlic. Maybe not hard – but tedious.

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Sprinkle the chicken with salt & pepper
  • In your cast iron pot (or a saute pan) put the 2 table spoons Olive Oil – heat on medium heat.  
  • Then brown the chicken on both sides.  You may have to do this in batches – I couldn't fit all the chicken in the pot at once.
  • If you are using the cast iron pot, When you're done browning, take the pot off the heat.  Put all the chicken in the pot, put the garlic in the pot al over the chicken and then put in the thyme.  Then pour in the 1/2C Olive oil.  Cover and put in the oven for 1 ½ hours.
  • If you are using a fry pan to brown your chicken – put all the chicken in an oven safe dish that has a cover, follow the above from putting the chicken, garlic, thyme and oil in the dish, cover and into the oven for 1 ½ hr.
  • When it's done - take it out of the oven and let it rest for 5-10 minutes.  Poor chicken is tired after all that cooking!
This is how it will look when you take it out of the oven

I served it with wild rice seasoned with ghee, garlic and thyme and Italian green beans but you can make your own sides.

YUM!  And it is paleo & virgin diet friendly.  Gluten free, dairy free, Fabulous!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Meatless Mondays! Veggie Chili...

Meatless Monday: Veggie Chili (or as Darren calls it Goulash)…
As we try to get healthy this year, we are attempting to adopt “Meatless Monday”.  Meatless Monday, if you’ve not heard, is making a meatless dinner on Monday night.  Why would anyone who isn’t Vegan or Vegetarian do this?  Well, several reasons…
First, as many of my faithful Mater friends know, we’ve been watching and reading a lot about the benefits of a plant based diet.  The endorsers of this way of eating say it lowers blood pressure, chances of cancer, diabetes, etc – lots of good benefits.  Second, going meatless at least one night a week can really save you money.  On your next trip to the grocery – look at your receipt when you get in the car (before you are driving of course) and check out what the priceiest items are.  I bet at least some of them are your meat items – not your fresh fruits and veggies.  Example – I joined a CSA this week (stands for Consumer Supported Agriculture – more on this in another post).  The total cost for the CSA was $125.  I will get a half bushel, about a brown grocery bag full, of seasonal fresh organic local fruits and veggies every other week for 8 weeks.  I can use them immediately or fresh freeze them for the winter or later use.  So lets do the math.  Let’s do the math - $125 for the CSA over/8 weeks = $15.62 a week for all my veggies.  That breaks down to less than $2 per DAY for fresh/organic fruits and veggies.
Now, Darren, much like most dudes, LOVES his meat.  I am a chicken gal myself but let’s focus on red meat…  Darren especially loves ribeye steaks.  The cheapest ribeye I’ve found recently was a 4 pack at Costco for about $36 ($36 /4 = $9ea).  So we are at $9 (wholesale store mind you – and not organic, not grassfed, just plain old ribeye) for ONE person at ONE meal – even at the cheapest way of doing it – meat is more than three times more expensive than plant based foods.  And much to contrary belief, you can obtain fantastic amounts of good quality protein from plan based foods…  Again info for another post. 
 Let’s do some more math… if you normally ate a modest steak dinner on Mondays and switched to a meatless dish just once a week – you would save at least $20 a week x 52 wks = $1040 a year – and that’s just based on a two person household!  That’s an extra house payment or a good start to a fun vacation fund! 
So you see – there are some GREAT benefits to Meatless Monday.  Remember – Meatless Monday doesn’t mean you have to go TOTALLY vegetarian or Vegan.  Broths and bullions are great inexpensive flavorings if you do not totally want to go plant based or are trying to transition but not cold turkey.
I have gotten Darren to try some veggies he normally wouldn’t eat and he LOVES them!  We are both evolving.  He trying things he thought he didn’t like and finding out he’s been missing out.  I have been learning to cook with healthier better quality ingredients AND supporting local farming at the same time.  It’s a total win-win.
So a recipe to get you started!
Veggie Chili (Darren calls it Goulash because he doesn’t want to lie to himself he says)
·        1 large Portobello mushroom caps – stem removed & brown accordion like things scraped out.  Then dice or chop finely so that it kinda will look like ground beef.
·        1 zucchini – diced
·        1 can red kidney beans – rinsed and drained
·        1 can black beans rinsed and drained
·        1 can corn drained
·        1 can diced chilies
·        1 can diced tomatoes
·        1 cups fresh salsa (or 1 jar of prepackages)
·        1 recipe for Chili Spice Mix
·        1 cup of beef or vegetable broth (add a second cup if you like soupier chili)
Place everything into the slow cooker and simmer on low for 6-8hrs.
Top with cheese, sour cream, fresh avocado and other chili fixin’s.  Also a great topping for veggie nachos as a follow up leftovers meal.
1.      I usually will do a batch on the weekend and then freeze it in quart sized containers for quick Meatless Monday or other day meals.  
2.      Also, remember always buy the best quality items you can afford.   I know everyone can’t do all organic / non GMO but I would suggest if you can please do.  Also, read your ingredients – the same thing (like canned beans) may have different ingredients from brand to brand.  Remember – the less ingredients the better for your health.  If it says “Black beans” on the front you really should not see anything more than beans, water, salt and maybe one other thing on the ingredient label. 
Happy Monday my little maters!