Thursday, August 25, 2011

7 Spice Cauliflower

My Mom was in town visiting the other day and she knows that I love cauliflower.  So, while she was at our little co-op store she bought me a head of purple cauliflower and a head of yellow/orange cauliflower.  She's also been asking me everyday since then if I had made anything yet with them.  Well, tonight I finally did.  I decided to roast the cauliflower just like NomNomPaleo does.  I hadn't roasted cauliflower and it always looks so yummy when she puts her pics of it on her blog.  The only thing I did was change the spice.  She uses curry for her dish but I decided to go with 7 Spice simply because I had a couple of dishes last week that used curry and I wanted a break from it.  The 7 Spice was front and center in my little noodle because I emptied the package into a spice jar yesterday.  It smelled so wonderful and I knew I needed to make something with it.  The cauliflower was perfect for it!  It turned out wonderful.  Now I've got to figure out what I'm going to do with the purple cauliflower. 

I snapped a quick iPhone shot of the cauliflower (sorry but I didn't feel like hauling my camera out for it).  I tried to use my sister's Bloggie but it put a very orange hue on the photo.
Just toss the cauliflower with some oil and then add the spice (I used about 1 1/2t. of 7 spice) along with some salt and pepper.  Have your oven set a 450 degrees.  Cover the dish and roast for 15 minutes then remove the foil and stir.  Roast for another 20 minutes, taking the dish out a couple of times and tossing the florets about.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tostones filled with Cuban Pork Roast

Every now and then I make something that knocks my socks off. Maybe it's because I sometimes just wing it in the kitchen and perhaps it's because I'm trying new ingredients and don't know what to expect. But I just love it when it happens.

A few days ago I was checking out the new post at Modern Paleo Warfare and was completely inspired to try out a new ingredient, plantains.  Now, I think that I have tried a plantain before but since I can't really remember what I did with it, I'm not going to count it.  So for all intents and purposes I'm saying that this is the first time I've used a plantain.

I had decided that I wanted to pair the plantains with pork and I wanted to do something a little Cuban or Caribbean inspired.  I also had come across a site selling tostones (fried plantains) presses.  One of the presses would make little cups and I found these totally cute so I had to try!

I'm pretty sure that tostones are my new favorite thing.  I can't get over the chip like quality they had after frying.  These will take care of a chip craving if you are having one.  They would be perfect for salsa if you want chips and dip.  Plantains aren't sweet like bananas are and are quite starchy.  Perfect for chips, right?!  The green plantains (which are unripe plantains) aren't sweet at all and are perfect for frying.  Heck, for all I know the black (ripe) ones may fry up well too.  A few days ago I had read about soaking the green plantains in salt water and then peeling them and slicing but I had forgot all of that by the time I went out today and purchase them.  I got home and sliced them in about 1 inch chunks and then scored the peel and pulled it off.  I didn't have any problem at all with removing the peel.  I'm not sure why those recipes said to soak them first.  Perhaps it was for flavor and not ease of peeling.  Anyway, I did not soak them because I was really wanting to get started.  To make the plantain chunks into cups I just put each chunk (after frying it first) into a well of a mini muffin pan and using a tart shaper I pressed down until I formed a little cup.  I took them out and put them back in the oil for the second fry.  *Note: I found it easier to press the plantain chunks into cup form while the chunks were still hot from frying.*  Alright, enough babbling!!  Let's get on with a photo and the recipe!

Tostones filled with Cuban Pork Roast

For the pork:
1-2 pounds of pork roast cut into chunks
1 small onion, diced
1T of garlic, diced
1/2 of a tiny bottle of white wine (93 mL)
2t. cumin
1t  mexican oregano, crush it in your palms when you add it to the pot
1/2t. smoked paprika
1/2 C orange juice
juice from half a lime
juice from half a lemon
zest of one lime
zest of one lemon
1/2 C chicken stock
1/2 can of coconut milk (I used the cream and not the watery part of my can)
salt and pepper to taste
1T. chopped cilantro
1-2T of FOC (I prefer bacon grease or lard)

1. Heat the fat of your choice in a dutch oven.  Once hot add the pork in batches and sear until browned.  Remove from the pot to a plate with a slotted spoon.
2.  Add the onion and garlic to the pot and saute until it starts to soften.  Add the wine to deglaze the pot.
3.  Add the pork back to the pot with the onion and garlic.  Add the cumin, mexican oregano and smoked paprika to the pot and stir.
4.  Add the orange juice, lime juice, lemon juice, chicken stock and the zest to the pot.  Bring to boil and cover.  Simmer for about 20 minutes.
5.  Add the coconut cream and mix well.  Add salt and pepper. Cover and simmer another 10 minutes.
6.  Remove the lid and allow the mixture to cook at a fast simmer until most of the liquid evaporates and a thick sauce remains.
7.  Remove the chunks of meat with a slotted spoon to a cutting board.  Roughly chop the chunks to get a small bites of meat.  Add back to the sauce in the pot, add the cilantro and mix well to coat.

For the tostones:

3 unripe (green) plantains

1. Cut the plantains into 1 inch chunks (they should fit in the mini muffin well without sticking out the top).
2. When the fat/oil is hot, add the plantain chunks and fry until lightly golden.  Remove from grease to a paper towel.
3.  Place the fried plantain chunk into the muffin well and press down firmly with a tart shaper.  Remove the plantain cup and place it back in the oil for the second fry.
4.  Fry until they are a deep golden/lightly browned color and remove.
5.  Fill the tostones cups with the meat mixture and sprinkle with some extra cilantro and maybe a dab of fresh salsa or guacamole.

*I had plenty of meat leftover so you could buy a couple more plantains.
*Don't forget to press the plantain chunks while they are hot.  I found they pressed easier while hot.
*If you don't have Mexican Oregano don't worry about it.  However, please do not replace it with the old standard oregano.  They are completely different and you wouldn't want your Cuban feast to taste Italian would you?

Saturday, August 20, 2011


I found this recipe one day while hunting and gathering on the web (my favorite past time).  I've had it tucked away in my notebook and had forgot all about it.  I was digging around for another recipe when I flipped this over.  I decided to just make it as printed although I didn't have pomegranate molasses.  I did have molasses (probably not kosher paleo) and pomegranate juice so I pour a little of each in the skillet.  I have since learned that you can get a sugar free pomegranate molasses online or at a Mediterranean market.  The brand is Cortas and it doesn't list any ingredients except pomegranate juice on the label.  That's what I read anyway so I'll be looking into that for future recipes.
This recipe is apparently a mash up of two dishes, muhammara and shakshouka.  Muhammara is a hot pepper dip containing walnuts and spices.  Shakshouka features eggs cooked in a spicy tomato stew.  That being said, it wasn't a spicy dish.  So if you like heat then bumped up the spice.  It's a wonderful dish and something different for breakfast.  I made the stew base, which makes quite a bit, and stored it in the fridge.  Every morning I put a scoopful in a small skillet and heated it until it just starts to bubble.  Then I cracked my eggs on top of the mixture and covered the skillet until the eggs were poached to my liking.

Shakshouka (found at EatsWellWithOthers)

3 red bell peppers, roasted, skinned, and seeded
2 oz walnuts
4 cloves garlic
1 large onion
3 tbsp pomegranate molasses
28 oz canned diced tomatoes
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
pinch red pepper flakes
6 eggs
1/4 cup parsley
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Combine the roasted red peppers, walnuts, onion, and garlic in a food processor and process until the combined.

2. In a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, combine the red pepper blend, molasses, tomatoes, lemon juice, cumin, cinnamon, smoked paprika, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes so that flavors can meld. Add salt to taste.

3. Crack the eggs into the pan and into the sauce, gently, so that the yolks don't break. Cover and cook for 3-5 minutes or until set. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

*The original called for feta cheese which I omitted.

Roast Chicken

I love a roasted bird.  This is another one of those simple "back burner" sort of dishes.  I can just pop a bird in the oven and let it go while I work away on some other recipes that I'm testing out and require a little more attention.  Roast chickens are quite simple to make.  I change up my seasonings every time I make one because you really can't go wrong.  Then you just pop it in a 350 degree oven (breast side up) and roast it for about 2 hours.  Basically it's 20-25 minutes for every pound of chicken.  My bird was a little over 4 pounds.  The only thing you have to do is peek in the oven during the last half hour and if the bird looks like it's browning to much just cover it with a little foil to keep it from burning.  I'm not putting a recipe down because roast chickens are so simple.  Just season with whatever you have and roast for the time listed above.  I always rub a little olive oil or better yet bacon grease on the bird before putting it in the oven.  For the bird in the picture I mix all my spices into my solidified bacon grease and made a paste.  I pushed some of this up under the skin as well. Super simple and quite tasty!!

Beef Bourguignon

What to do with tough old stew meat?  Slow simmer it for hours in wine and herbs.  I pulled the old Betty Crocker cookbook off the shelf because it has all these standards in it.  And 'ol Betty done good.  The chunks of beef were super tender and had great flavor.  I was pretty pleased with it and it was really easy to make.  When I'm cooking all my meals for the weekend it's nice to have a couple of dishes that sit on the back burner while I busy myself with other recipes.

Beef Bourguignon

1 pound stew beef
1 1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small bottle red wine (187mL)
1C broth
2 bay leaves
1t thyme
3/4t marjoram
1C mushrooms, chopped
5 carrots, cut into 1 inch chunks
3-4 strips bacon, chopped

1.  Add some fat of choice to a dutch oven and heat.  Add the beef and sear on all sides.  Remove from skillet and set aside.
2.  Add the onion and garlic to the dutch oven and saute until they just begin to soften. 
3.  Add the meat back to the dutch oven.  Add the wine, broth and herbs.  Simmer, covered for about 45 minutes.
4.  Add the carrots and mushrooms.  Simmer for 30 minutes or until the carrots are soft. 
5.  While the carrots are cooking, add the bacon to a skillet and cook until crispy.
6.  When the carrots are soft, turn off the heat and add the bacon. Stir to incorporate.  Serve!

Korean Fried Collards

For a little tongue in cheek humour, I'm calling it KFC.  You know, the collard ranks right up there with cauliflower for me.  In case you don't know, I love cauliflower.  I went my whole life not eating greens...hard to believe.  I took a chance one day on a bundle of collards and I pretty much think that they're the best thing, sliced bread.  Now, in all my previous collard making experiences I made them by chopping  up some bacon and getting it crispy then throwing the collards in and tossing.  Simply delightful!  Last night I did something different.  I had this recipe in hand for Korean seasoned spinach.  Well, I didn't have spinach but I did have collards.  So, I risked ruining my beloved collards by subbing them in to the recipe but I was sure it would turn out.  And man did it!  They are super yummy and I can't wait to gobble down my lunch today.  I paired my KFC with some roast chicken and it is going to be awesome!  * was awesome!  I wish I made more.
Korean Fried Collards

1 bunch of collards (next time I'm getting at least 3 bunches)
1 1/2 T Red Boat fish sauce
3/4 T Coconut Aminos
1T. sesame oil
1 T. sesame seeds, toasted
1 1/2 t. chopped garlic
1/2 t. coconut sugar

1.  Chop up the collards and rinse in a colander.
2.  In a skillet place a very tiny amount of the fat of your choice.  (I had a skillet that I had cooked bacon in and I just drained all the grease out.)  Once your skillet is hot add the collards.  Toss frequently. 
3.  When they just start to change color add all the ingredients and toss to incorporate.
4.  Remove from heat and serve! 

Hawaiian Meatballs

I just call these Hawaiian meatballs because it's catchy.  I suppose the only thing that makes 'em remotely Hawaiian is the addition of pineapple in the sauce.  But one thing about it, they're pretty tasty.  Slightly sweet from the pineapple with a little kick on your taste buds from the red pepper flakes, plus a little savory or perhaps "umami" from the fish sauce. 

I had two recipes that I didn't quite have the ingredients for and as I was looking at them trying to decide which on to make I thought I would pull a little bit from each.  I'm trying these with ground pork the next time but I had to use chicken and turkey since it's what I had on hand.  One thing I wish I had was a little arrowroot to thicken the sauce some but really it's quite fine without it.  A thicker sauce is simply more visually appealing.

This recipe just sort of came together over the stove so I might tweak it a little the next time.  Perhaps bump up the heat a little or add some more pineapple.  But at any rate this gives you a good jumping off point.

Hawaiian Meatballs

For the meatballs:
2 lbs of ground meat (pork, chicken, turkey, etc)
2T Red Boat fish sauce
2T Coconut Aminos
2t. curry powder
2 green onions, diced
1t. ginger, minced
1t. cilantro, chopped
salt & pepper to taste

For the sauce:
1 can coconut milk
1C chicken broth
1 t. Red Boat fish sauce
1t. Coconut Aminos
1/2 t. curry powder
1 green onion, diced
1/2 T. red pepper flakes (more if you like it hot)
juice from 1/2 lime
juice from 1/2 lemon
2T. crushed pineapple
3T pineapple juice
2t. basil, chopped

1.  Mix all the ingredient for the meatballs in a bowl and then form into meatballs.  Make them whatever size you like.
2.  Put a little fat of your choice in a large skillet and fry up the meatballs.  I like them to be a little crispy on the outside.
3.  Remove from skillet.  Then add the ingredients for the sauce to the skillet. 
4.  Stir and bring to a simmer.  Add the meatballs and simmer in the sauce for 10 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


So, things have been a little tough for me the past couple of weeks.  I sort of just let things (Paleo things) go to the wayside.  Not totally but about 40 percent.  Between my normal work hours and heading out of town to do my usual stint at the folks plus helping my friend pack her home, I've been lucky to sleep in my own bed.  Today was the first day to myself and I made good use of it.  I've been totally Paleo today and even managed to take a mile run in my new Invisible Shoes (huaraches for the minimalist shoe camp) and went to the pool to swim some laps.  It was a great day and aside from my feet being a little tender from the huaraches (I'm just starting out in them) I feel great.

I just had some leftover babybacks that I grilled up for a dinner party Sunday night.  They were awesome.  Here's my iPhone pick of them smoking away on the barbie.

Life is good kids!  I'm glad to have a chance to regroup and get my Paleo life back in order.  I'll be cooking up some meals for my weekend on and will get them posted.  I'm also going to start blogging a little about my attempts to exercise.  Hopefully I can keep myself healthy for that.  I tend to over do it and end up a hurting unit but maybe I can keep it together.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

I lost my mojo

For about one month now I've been less than inspired.  I haven't fallen off the wagon (well not completely) but it's been a bumpy ride.  I suppose it all started when I hit my third month of zero weight loss.  I don't understand why this is happening and it does take it's toll on my psyche.  I am not concentrating on weight loss but still I want it to needs to happen.  Other mitigating circumstances may be that in July I moved.  It wasn't very taxing and the move went well but there was some distraction and loss of internet for a time.  Previously I would spend quite a bit of time immersing myself in the Paleo world by visiting blogs and recipe gathering.  I haven't done that for about a month (my last post was July 12th and it was simply pictures).  I did, at least, start working out during this time (C25K, rowing and swimming) but suffered some musculo-skeletal pain/soreness.  It has ended up requiring chiropractor visits and regular doses of muscle relaxants and pain relievers (stuff I never take) as well as liniments and hot/cold packs.  I haven't been able to workout for the past week while I recoop but look forward to starting back up the end of this week. 

While my main meals have been Paleo and I continue to prepare my meals, I have been snacking on non Paleo foodstuffs.  Mini candy bars are a main source of cheating and I've also had a few handfuls of chip during this month.  I've eaten 4 non paleo meals and certainly paid a price for that.  It may not seem like much for the time frame but it feels considerable to me. 

I have been reflecting on what has happened.  I've made it 6 months living Paleo and enjoy it.  I love how I feel and the way I'm beginning to look.  I loved the control I was able to exert over my life.  But it's been slipping this past month.  I really think the fact that I haven't been totally immersed in Paleo is a major factor.  Sometimes being the only Paleo person in my household and within my circle is isolating.  Maybe my lone wolf personality needs a pack sometimes.

Lately I've been seeing facebook updates from Paleoites about the AHS convention.  Tonight I finally put some effort into visiting some of the Paleo blogs I follow and read their recaps of the symposium.  I have to say that I'm feeling quite inspired.  I enjoyed reading about people finally meeting some of the bloggers they've been following and listening to the speakers and just immersing theirselves in Paleo.  I'm really looking forward to getting dedicated to my lifestyle choice.  I want to stay up late at night visiting all the blogs I used to stop by.  I'm looking forward to re-energizing my meal choices and my weekly menu.  I'm excited about rebooting my exercise program. 

I just realized that it all comes down to effort.  I haven't been putting forth the same level of effort that I used to.  I've simply been on cruise control for the past month.  Only putting forth the minimal effort needing to stay marginally Paleo.  I'm going to reinvigorate myself and my outlook and get this life back in gear!