Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cocoa caramelized onions, plus 10 ways to enjoy chocolate on Whole30!

Cocoa caramelized onions with grainy mustard on chicken andouille, along with some lacinato kale and a fried egg.
Apparently, whether or not to give unsweetened cocoa the Whole30 seal of approval was a subject of debate. You can read a detailed discussion of the pros and cons here, or you can read an elegant summation in this comment. It seems that the final verdict is that cocoa is fine as a spice, but not if it is used to duplicate chocolate desserts, even if said sweets are made using Whole30 compliant ingredients like fruit. Personally, I am crazy about chocolate, and I love learning to enjoy it as an ingredient that adds richness and depth to entrees instead of relegating it to dessert. Given that a lot of folks are doing a January Whole30 to ring in the new year, I present you with a new recipe, along with...

10 Ways to Enjoy Chocolate on a Whole30
  1. Cocoa caramelized onions (pictured above)
    I love the natural vegetal sweetness of caramelized onions. They take a while to cook, so sometimes I'll make a big batch on a Sunday to have around and add to eggs, meat, and other dishes. They marry perfectly with cocoa powder. You can serve these on a spicy sausage like I did, or they'd be great on steak, pork chops, burgers...pretty much anything!

    Directions: Just halve an onion pole to pole and thinly slice both halves. Heat a bit of coconut oil or ghee in a skillet on medium heat and add your onion. Sprinkle it with salt, cook until onions begin to soften, then turn down the heat to medium-low and cook until dark brown and sticky. When done, turn the heat to high, deglaze the pan with a tablespoon of water, then add a teaspoon of dark cocoa powder. Stir well and serve!
  2. Slow cooker chicken mole
    Make a big batch of shredded chicken meat, then keep it around to eat on taco salads, with Mexican "rice", or in fiesta bowls
  3. Chocolate Chili from The Clothes Make the Girl

    I've made this recipe dozens of times, and it never disappoints. Instead of simmering on the stove top, I put it in the crock pot on low, and just start with less liquid.
  4. Cocoa toasted cauliflower, also from The Clothes Make the Girl
  5. Brewed chocolate

    I found this when I was looking to cut back on my caffeine consumption but still wanted a hot coffee-esque drink. Brewed chocolate is to hot cocoa as wine is to grape juice. It's cacao nibs and husks brewed in a French press for a complex chocolatey flavor. It is NOT sweet, thick, and creamy like Swiss Miss, it's much more subtle. It's especially nice with a bit of coconut creamer. I've had Crio Bru but you can also buy it from Choffy or Chocolate Alchemy.
  6. Cocoa chili rubbed scallops with chocolate citrus vinaigrette

    If I made this as a meal instead of an appetizer, I'd probably just serve them over a salad instead of making endive boats.
  7. Cacao nib crusted steak
  8. Mixed green salad with whole citrus and cacao nib vinaigrette
  9. Seared pork tenderloin with cocoa spice rub
  10. Cocoa-infused sweet potatoes from PaleOMG

    If, like me, you don't really do sweet potatoes, I'm sure you could substitute some kind of orange squash.
  11. This is #11 because it is too close to a dessert to be Whole30 approved, but it is a nice "sensible indulgence" to have after the fact: frozen bananas pureed with cocoa for chocolate banana "soft serve"!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Chocolate cakes with sea salt and olive oil (grain/dairy/sugar free)

I don't post too many treat recipes on this site. When I do, it's generally because I get an idea that gets stuck in my head that I just have to try. I was inspired by this recipe; I love salted chocolate and olive oil seems like an interesting twist, particularly to eat after a Mediterranean-inspired meal. I love the fudgy texture of chocolate cake made with almond flour; in fact, it was my staple chocolate cake even before going grain-free. I used olive oil in place of butter, Truvia with unsweetened chocolate, and topped it with a dairy-free ganache. I also drizzled some additional olive oil on the warm ganache and sprinkled the top with fleur de sel.

If the idea of olive oil with chocolate grosses you out (though I assure you it was delicious!), you can certainly choose a different fat. Ghee, coconut oil, butter, or macadamia oil would all work well. Or, make a batch of bacon salt, reserving the bacon grease. Then bake the cakes with bacon grease and sprinkle the bacon salt on top, perhaps adding a tablespoon of espresso or Kahlua to the cake batter.

I thought the cakes tasted even better the next day after they had chilled, though I thought the ganache was better when it was warm and freshly-made. The ganache is easy enough that you can make it at the last minute, even when serving company. I do not recommend Truvia or erythritol for the ganache, as it can become gritty as it cools. I used stevia extract, though you could use powdered xylitol or just use regular sweetened chocolate.

Makes about 4 individual cakes or one 8"-9" cake


For the cake:
  • 1 bar (about 4 oz) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 5 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 Tbs Grand Marnier or 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Sweetener of choice to equal 1/2 cup sugar (I used Truvia). If you use any granular sweetener, powder it in a blender or spice grinder first.
  • 1/2 cup (56 grams) almond flour
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • Fleur de sel or other coarse sea salt, for sprinkling
For the ganache:
  • 1 bar (about 4 oz) unsweetened chocolate + stevia extract to equal 1/2 cup sugar, OR use 4 oz semisweet chocolate
  • 1 mini 5.5 oz can Thai Kitchen coconut milk (or 1/3 cup coconut milk), stirred
  • 1 Tbs coconut oil or ghee
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Grease 4 ramekins or one 8"-9" springform pan. Measure out all your ingredients and have them ready to go!
  2. Melt the chocolate. I used the microwave, initially for 1 minute on high, then I stir and microwave on medium at 30 second intervals until smooth. Stir in the olive oil and Grand Marnier or vanilla. Stir in the sweetener and almond flour, then beat in the egg yolks one at a time. Set aside.
  3. Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form. Vigorously stir about 1/4 of the beaten whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the rest. Make sure it is thoroughly combined but take care to not deflate the whites.
  4. Pour the batter into the cake pan or divide among ramekins. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean. This should be about 45 minutes for a single cake or about 15-25 minutes for individual cakes (check on them after 15 minutes). 
  5. For the ganache, chop up the chocolate. Bring the coconut to a boil on the stovetop or by microwaving for 1-2 minutes. Pour the hot coconut milk over the chopped chocolate and stir until smooth and melted. Stir in the coconut oil or ghee and the sweetener, if using. 
  6. To serve, slice a thin layer off the top of the cake(s) to form a flat surface, then invert. Pour some of the ganache over the top and either spread it with the back of a spoon or rotate the cake around to distribute it. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on top and sprinkle with sea salt.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Spanish frittata with caramelized onions

Seems that I'm back up and running :) I am all moved in to a new house with a new kitchen that has tons of natural light for great food photography! So here is my first recipe from my new location.

I love the simplicity of tortilla espanola. Just eggs and potatoes cooked in olive oil and served in chunks or wedges. When I went to Spain, I loved that you could go to pretty much any restaurant at any time and know that you could get a glass of red wine and a hunk of omelette. This is the version that I make at home. Instead of potatoes, I use caramelized onions. I got the idea from Nacho Rubio's primal blueprint recipe contest entry. His version is still potato-based, but I think it's just as good (maybe even better!) if you leave them out. 

You can eat this for breakfast or a light dinner, but my favorite way to serve it is to cut it into cubes, stick a few with toothpicks, and serve it chilled tapas-style.

Serves about 2 as a light meal or several as tapas


  • 4-6 eggs (I used 4 large duck eggs, use 5-6 for chicken eggs)
  • 2 small onions, thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil
  1. Heat a bit of olive oil on medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and just barely starting to brown. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking until sticky and thoroughly caramelized.
  2. Meanwhile, beat the eggs with a generous amount of salt and pepper. When they are done cooking, add the onions to the beaten egg mixture and combine thoroughly. 
  3. Add some more olive oil to a nonstick or cast iron pan. Pour in the egg mixture, ensuring that the onions are distributed evenly. Cover and cook over medium-low until the bottom is lightly browned. You can use a silicone spatula to check underneath.
  4. If using a cast iron skillet, finish by running it under the broiler. With a nonstick pan, transfer it to a plate, then invert it back onto the skillet to cook the other side.
  5. Serve chilled or at room temperature cut into chunks or wedges.
  6. OPTIONAL: Since the onions are so sweet, I like to get some contrast by sprinkling the top with coarse salt. I used truffle salt since I had some, fleur de sel would be lovely but regular Kosher or sea salt is fine too!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Quick update

No recipe, but I wanted to give you all a quick update since I haven't posted in a while. As you may know if you have been following my Facebook page, I recently moved from Florida to California. This entailed packing up my kitchen, then driving cross-country, and now my kitchen is still not fully unpacked. I thought that I would be up and running sooner, but unfortunately sometimes life gets in the way. I will try to reply to the backlog of comments today, and I should start posting recipes this week :)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A week of freeze-ahead crock pot meals (Whole30 approved!)

Back in October, I posted a menu with a month's worth of freezer meals. You can read about that here. However, a lot of people noted (rightfully so!) that it is an awful lot of work. So, I created a scaled-down alternative. This will give you a week's worth of meals, rather than a whole month. There's an added bonus, too: these meals require no cooking on your prep day. Each meal is cooked in the crock pot the day you want to serve it for dinner. Like the larger menu, all of these recipes are Whole30 compliant.

Once A Month Mom classifies these as "dump recipes". Essentially, these are recipes where you combine everything in a freezer bag and then just dump it into your slow cooker the morning you wish to eat it. You can thaw it in advance but I never do, I just increase the cooking time and put everything in there still frozen, stirring it halfway through.

I did not include breakfast or lunch, but you can feel free to add on from the full OAMC freezer menu. In particular, the meat and veggie mini-frittatas are a great way of using up any meat and vegetables that are left over after you do all your other prep.

This menu makes five hearty dinners with four servings each. You may have enough leftovers to stretch it to seven days for a family of four. Or, you may only be cooking for one or two people, and thus have enough for two weeks!


Instructions for your big cooking day are available in this Google Doc.
The grocery list for the entire menu is available at this Google Doc spreadsheet.

Are you a person who likes to see menus visually? Check out the menu on Pinterest.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Rosemary root vegetable hash browns

I had some leftover root veggies from making mega-veggie beef stew, so I created this recipe to use them up. What kind of jerk would I be if I gave you a recipe that calls for HALF a rutabaga without providing another recipe for the other half?? Plus I had to buy the carrots and parsnips in bunches.

I used a food processor for all my veggie prep. You can chop and grate everything by hand, but it will take a lot longer. I recommend using a food processor if you have one.

These came out a tad soft because I didn't want them to be completely drenched in oil. Feel free to add more fat if that tickles your fancy. I don't recommend using less than specified by the recipe, though, or it will just be a saute and won't get crispy at all.

Serves about 4

  • 2 Tbs fat of choice (I used coconut oil, bacon grease or duck fat would be awesome!), plus a bit extra for sauteeing the onion
  • Half a rutabaga, peeled
  • 2 carrots, peeled
  • 4 parsnips, peeeled
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 Tbs minced fresh rosemary or 1 tsp dried
  • Salt and pepper to taste (I used about 1/2 tsp each)
  1. Cut the onion into big chunks and pulse in a food processor until chopped. Set aside in a separate bowl.
  2. Heat a bit of oil over medium-high heat and add the onion. Saute until translucent but not brown. Add the garlic and saute another 30 seconds. Transfer the onion to a bowl off heat.
  3. While the onion is cooking, fit the food processor with a shredding disk (no need to wash it out) and shred the rutabaga, carrots, and parsnips.
  4. Heat the 2 Tbs oil over medium-high until shimmering and very hot. Add the shredded root veggies and cook until crisp. If you can leave them alone in the pan and only turn them once, that is ideal to get maximum crispiness. 
  5. Once the veggies are cook, mix in the cooked onion mixture, rosemary, and salt and pepper. Saute for a minute to heat through and serve immediately.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving burgers with cranberry sauce

Well, I was going to post this recipe earlier as a way to use up leftover cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving. But I procrastinated; instead, let's say it's a way to take advantage of the fresh cranberries being sold on clearance post turkey day :) My favorite all-time sandwich is leftover turkey/stuffing/cranberry on rye. This has similar flavors, but in bunless burger form. There's no stuffing, but I combined ground turkey with sauteed veggies, fresh herbs, pecans, and spices that give it a stuffing-like flavor. I topped it with cranberry sauce and also added some spicy, grainy mustard at the table.

Serves about 4

  • About a pound of 93% lean ground turkey (I used 1.25 lbs)
  • 1/2 cup finely diced celery
  • Half a sweet onion, finely diced
  • 4 oz crimini or button mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 oz pecans, ground in a spice grinder or food processor (it's fine if it's still a bit chunky). OR substitute 2-4 Tbs almond meal.
  • Fat of choice for sauteeing (I used olive oil)
  • 1 package of fresh poultry herb blend (usually a mix of sage, rosemary, and thyme), leaves only, finely minced. If you can't find this just use about a tablespoon of fresh sage and a bit of dried rosemary and thyme. 
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 recipe tart cranberry sauce. I used this one because I liked the simplicity. Alternately you can make my cranberry chutney, or make the Whole30-compliant recipe from this page.
  • Grainy mustard, for serving
  1. Saute the onion, celery, and mushrooms in a bit of oil over medium-high heat. Saute until quite soft but not brown. Add the garlic and saute an additional 30 seconds. Sprinkle the ground pecans over the mixture and combine well. If using almond meal instead of pecans, sprinkle 2 Tbs over the veggie mixture and add a bit more if necessary to soak up all the liquid. Transfer the veggie mixture to a bowl and let cool thoroughly (I put it in the freezer to speed it up).
  2. Combine the ground turkey with the herbs, fennel seeds, paprika, pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper. Add the cooled veggie mixture and combine thoroughly with your hands. Form into four big patties.
  3. Cook the patties in a pan on the stove top until firm to the touch. I sear them over medium-high until browned, then reduce heat to low and cover until cooked through.
  4. Top with cranberry sauce and pass mustard at the table.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Gingerbread latte coffee creamer

This is a coffee creamer recipe inspired by Starbucks gingerbread lattes. I prefer flavored creamer to a latte because the coffee:cream ratio is more favorable. I used Patti's infamous primal non-dairy creamer recipe as a base and added the relevant spices and seasonings. This recipe has a teaspoon of blackstrap molasses, which is really just for flavor rather than sweetness. However, if you are doing Whole30 or similar, you can use a soaked date instead for a brown sugar type flavor.

I prefer making this with coconut milk that does not contain guar gum. If it has guar gum it will get REALLY thick in the fridge. Unfortunately most brands without guar gum contain sulfites. If you are doing Whole30 or are sensitive to sulfites, you can try making your own coconut milk using a recipe such as this one. Or use a brand with guar gum, just be aware that the result will be quite thick like sour cream.

This is not sweet like a Starbucks gingerbread latte. If you want sugary sweetness you will have to add additional sweetener to your cup of coffee. Stevia or unrefined sugar would be good choices.

Makes about a pint

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 Tbs coconut oil, melted
  • 1 can coconut milk, stirred
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract OR seed scrapings from of 1" vanilla bean
  • 1 tsp blackstrap molasses OR 1 date, soaked in water for an hour
  • 1 Tbs powdered ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Dash allspice
  • Dash ground cloves
  1. Put the egg yolk in a food processor with the molasses or soaked date and puree until smooth. 
  2. With the motor running, drizzle in the coconut oil.
  3. Dump in all the remaining ingredients and puree until smooth. Store refrigerated in a covered container. Spices will settle to the bottom, so be sure to shake or stir well before serving.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Mega-veggie freezer beef stew

The finished product!
Photo via; not my recipe.
I love make-ahead freezer recipes that require no pre-cooking and little prep. I was inspired by this recipe for freezer beef stew. I love that you can just toss all the ingredients in a gallon bag and then dump it in the crock pot the day you are ready to eat. I didn't snap my own picture with everything in the bag, but I snagged a shot of the inspiring recipe and included that. To make this a one-dish meal, I packed it with veggies: rutabaga, parsnips, carrot, mushrooms, and hearty winter greens. I think that cut string beans would have worked too, but I forgot to buy them, oops.

I added a tablespoon of arrowroot at the end for thickening. You won't get the rich gravy that you see with a flour-based roux, but this was a way to minimize the starch and keep it grain-free.

I never bother thawing anything before putting it in the crock pot, I just increase cooking time. You just have to make sure to stir it after a couple hours to break everything up. Everything was in a big frozen mass when I initially dumped it in the crock pot. I cut away the bag on the sides to get it out more easily. I cut everything into fairly large chunks to avoid overcooking.

All in all, a great emergency dinner to keep on hand, particularly now that the weather is cooler!

Serves 6-8

  • About 2.5 lbs beef stew meat, or a beef roast cut into chunks
  • 1 can beef broth
  • 2 Tbs tomato paste
  • 2 Tbs soy sauce, tamari, or coconut aminos
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed 
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 4 oz baby portobello mushrooms, quartered OR 4 oz portobello mushroom caps, cut into chunks
  • Half a large rutabaga, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • Half a bag of frozen diced onion, unthawed, OR 1 large onion, diced,
  • 8 oz frozen chopped winter greens (I used collard greens), unthawed
  • 1 Tbs arrowroot or tapioca starch 
  • 1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a small bowl, thoroughly combine the soy sauce (or alternative), thyme, tomato paste, and garlic.
  2. Put the beef chunks in the bottom of a large zipper close bag and pour the soy sauce mixture over it. Toss to combine. Add all of the vegetables. Seal and freeze until ready to cook.
  3. The morning that you want to eat the stew, dump the contents of the freezer bag into your slow cooker. Pour the can of beef broth over it, season with salt and pepper, and cook on low for about 8-9 hours or until beef is tender. Stir once after a couple hours. Taste and add more salt and/or pepper, if desired. Stir in the tablespoon of balsamic vinegar.
  4. Put the arrowroot or tapioca in a small heatproof bowl. Gradually whisk in a ladle of hot broth from the stew (about 1/4 cup), ensuring that there are no lumps. Add the starch/broth mixture back to the slow cooker with the stew and stir to combine. Serve.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sour cream and onion spaghetti squash gratin (dairy free!)

 I wanted to post a new spaghetti squash recipe in time for Thanksgiving. Everyone expects some sort of orange vegetable; usually that means sweet potatoes, but spaghetti squash is a very low-carb alternative. Last time I posted a recipe for spaghetti squash with ricotta, sage, and pignoli as a creamy alternative to sweet potato casserole. However, I wanted to add a savory recipe that is dairy-free. Most squash recipes go either sweet or cheesy, and I didn't want to take either route. I was inspired by this recipe from Our Life In Food for a gratin incorporating sour cream. I recently made dairy-free coconut "sour cream" when I made fish taco bowls. After some experimentation, I devised a casserole with the aforementioned sour cream, onions, chives, and parsley. The result is definitely worthy of serving to company, and you won't miss marshmallow-encrusted sweet potatoes one bit ;)

Serves 4-8

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • Half a large onion (or 1 small onion), sliced
  • 1 can coconut milk (I recommend Thai Kitchen brand), chilled in the refrigerator
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbs fresh minced parsley
  • 2 Tbs fresh minced chives, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 tsp cold coconut oil or ghee, plus more for sauteeing
  • Dash of garlic powder
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Paprika for sprinkling
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Split the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Sometimes it's easier to cut if you microwave the spaghetti squash whole for 2-3 minutes first. Put the halves cut side down on an oiled baking sheet. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until tender. Do not turn off the oven. Let cool thoroughly, then separate the strands using the tines of a fork and scoop out the flesh into a casserole dish.
  2.  Meanwhile, saute the sliced onion in a skillet over medium-high heat in your fat of choice. Cook until translucent but not browned. Set aside.
  3. Combine the coconut milk solids, lemon juice, and salt as per this tutorial to make sour cream. Be sure to see the photo tutorial!
  4. Combine the squash with the sour cream, onion, parsley, chives, garlic powder, and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding salt if necessary. 
  5. Smooth the top, sprinkle with paprika, and dot with the cold oil or ghee. Return the dish to the oven and cook for 20-30 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Let cool and sprinkle with extra chives just before serving.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Apple butter BBQ turkey meat loaf

Pictured with mashed fauxtatoes
I like making meat loaf because it's yummy, the leftovers taste good, it's easy to reheat, and you really have to try hard to mess it up. I love the apple butter BBQ sauce from my chicken drumsticks recipe, so I decided to use it in meat loaf for an interesting flavor twist. I thought it would pair well with ground turkey moreso than beef. I also added some tasty spices and sauteed veggies.

I hate using alternative flours as a binder. Almond meal doesn't really work to hold it together unless you add a LOT, coconut flour dries it out, flax or chia can make it slimy, and so forth. I just add an extra egg and powder some dried mushrooms in a spice grinder. The mushrooms add flavor and help hold everything together without drying out the meat. You could experiment with other dried vegetables or even sweet potato chips. If you eat dairy, parmesan cheese works great. Or, don't use any binder and pack everything into a loaf pan, though the slices will be a bit crumbly.

Usually I pack everything for meat loaf into a loaf pan, but I wanted to get a nice BBQ glaze on as much surface area as possible. So, I baked it free-form and brushed it with a few coats of sauce.

Serves about 4

  • Half a red onion, chopped
  • Half a red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 Tbs Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, or coconut aminos (use coconut aminos for Whole30)
  • 2 eggs, beaten (can use 1/2 cup liquid egg whites if you prefer)
  • About 1.25 lbs ground turkey (anywhere from 1-1.5 lbs should work)
  • 0.5 oz (weight) dried mushrooms, powdered in a spice grinder
  • 1 tsp fat of choice for sauteeing
  • 1 Tbs BBQ seasoning (recipe follows) or Penzeys 33rd and Galena spice
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Batch of apple butter BBQ sauce (recipe here; use only the ingredients for the barbecue sauce and perform steps 1 and 2)
For the BBQ seasoning: (note: this makes more than you need for this recipe, but it's nice to have extra around!)
  • 1 Tbs ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbs paprika
  • 1 Tbs onion powder
  • 1/2 Tbs chili powder
  • 1/2 Tbs salt
  • 1/4 tsp rubbed sage
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Make the BBQ sauce and let it simmer while preparing the meat loaf.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high. Add the onion and saute until translucent but not brown. Add the bell pepper and garlic, and saute until the pepper is soft. Let cool.
  4. Beat the eggs in a large bowl with the mustard, Worcestershire sauce or substitute, BBQ seasoning, salt, and pepper. Add the ground turkey and sauteed veggies, and combine thoroughly with your hands. Add in the mushroom powder, thoroughly combine, and let it sit for a minute or two to absorb some of the liquid.
  5. Shape the meat mixture into a loaf on a lightly oiled slotted broiler pan. Pour some of the BBQ into a small bowl (to avoid cross-contamination) and brush a thick coat onto the loaf.
  6. Bake for 35 minutes, then brush with another coat of sauce, and bake for 20 more minutes.
  7. Remove from oven, brush with a third coat of sauce, and let sit for about 5 minutes before slicing. Serve, passing extra sauce on the side.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Rosemary mashed fauxtatoes, without a steamer

Pictured with BBQ turkey meatloaf; I will post the recipe for that tomorrow!

I love cauliflower mashed "fauxtatoes". This has always been my standard preparation; the use of a vegetable steamer basket is vital to prevent the cauliflower from getting soggy and waterlogged. After seeing this recipe from A Veggie Venture (one of my favorite blogs!), I got an idea for a technique that would no longer necessitate a steamer. It was convenient as well because I got a half pound of turnips in my CSA box. I put the turnips in boiling water to cover, then added the cauliflower florets on top. This way the turnips boil and get tender while the cauliflower steams, using the turnips as a rack. Then everything gets drained and pureed together.

The original recipe used sage, but I had some rosemary in my garden so I went with that. You can substitute other fresh herbs, but I don't think I'd use dried for this. I also modified the recipe to be dairy-free.

I pureed everything in my food processor to get it creamy and smooth; you can use a potato masher if you'd like but it will be lumpy and the cauliflower will be more detectable.

Makes about 4 cups

  • 1 medium-sized head of cauliflower, stemmed and cut into uniform florets
  • About 1/2 lb turnips, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
  • 1 Tbs fresh minced rosemary or other herb
  • 1 Tbs ghee (can substitute olive oil or butter)
  • 1 Tbs coconut milk (can substitute heavy cream, or just leave it out, though it will be less creamy)
  • 1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Generous amount of salt, to taste
  • Optional: truffle salt, for sprinkling (if you happen to have it on hand)
  1. Bring an inch of water to a boil in a saucepan just large enough to hold the turnip chunks in a single layer. Add a generous pinch of salt, add the turnips, then layer the cauliflower on top. Sprinkle with salt, cover, and cook until very tender and just slightly overcooked. Drain in a colander.
  2. When cool enough to handle, add the veggies to a food processor with the remaining ingredients. Depending on the size of your food processor, you may have to partially process half of them before you can add the rest. Process until completely smooth. Taste and add salt if desired.
  3. Serve warm, optionally sprinkled with truffle salt.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Cranberry, apple, & onion chutney

Cranberry sauce is the hardest Thanksgiving item to de-sugar-ify. Unsweetened cranberries are so unpleasantly tart that you really need an awful lot of sweetener to balance it out. I previously posted a recipe for sugar-free cranberry-grapefruit sauce, but it has 3/4 cup artificial sweetener, and thus I wanted a different option.

First and foremost, I wanted to reduce the amount of overall sweetener for a relish that is naturally tart with just enough extra sweetness. I thought it made sense to go the savory route and make a spicy chutney with onions. That way, it seems more intentional that it is tart. If it was just a fruity side dish, I think that people would be unpleasantly surprised when biting in. This isn't a traditional dessert-like cranberry sauce, but instead provides a nice foil to roasted turkey or ham. I served it with pork chops that I grilled with Penzeys Singapore seasoning for a quick weeknight supper.

The onion and apple provide a nice base of natural sweetness, but I did end up adding a bit of extra sweetener. It tastes even better the next day.

Serves 8 to 10

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 apple (I used Honeycrisp), peeled, cored, and cut into chunky dice
  • 12 oz bag fresh raw cranberries
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tbs red wine vinegar
  • Juice and zest from 1 orange
  • 2 Tbs fresh grated ginger or 3/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper or 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • Sweetener of choice to equal 1-2 Tbs sugar or to taste (I used the stevia equivalent of 2 Tbs but I think I could have gotten away with less)
  1. Saute the onion in a bit of oil until translucent and just starting to brown.
  2. Add all the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries have all popped and the whole sauce is magenta.
  3. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired. You can serve right away at room temperature, but it is better when it sits for a day.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Cauliflower "wild rice" and sausage stuffing

It's late October, so in food blogger time, that means it's basically Thanksgiving. I've already started getting lots of hits from search terms related to Thanksgiving, so I figured I'd devise a few new recipes. I've previously posted an entire menu, but many of the dishes rely on dairy and artificial sweetener, so I'd like to add some alternatives. And better photos.

I love my coconut flour "cornbread" stuffing; I've made it several times for company and no one has been able to detect a difference. However, I wanted to offer an option based on whole foods and veggies rather than an alternative flour. A lot of people make poultry stuffing based on a wild rice blend, so given my penchant for cauliflower "rice", this seemed like a good starting point. I baked it in a casserole dish, but you could likely stuff it inside a bird if you prefer (though I believe there's an inherent salmonella risk in doing so, so try it at your own risk). Chipped pecans gave it a taste and textural contrast that mimicked wild rice surprisingly well. Chopped pecans would work too, but the chips really had a perfect texture. Since rice normally clumps together a bit because of the starch, I added a beaten egg, though if you have an egg allergy or similar I am certain you could leave it out.

Serves 4-8

  • 1 head cauliflower, separated into florets and run through the shredding disk of a food processor for "rice"
  • 1/2 lb bulk sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 4 oz (weight) crimini mushrooms, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2 Tbs minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • Dash cayenne
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecan chips
  • 1 egg, beaten (optional; see recipe description)
  • 1 tsp cold coconut oil, ghee, or butter (I used ghee)
  • Salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Brown the sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat, crumbling with a wooden spoon. When no longer pink, remove it from the skillet using a slotted spoon.
  3. Saute the onion in the sausage grease (there should be about a teaspoon) until just starting to soften, then add the celery and mushrooms. Saute until all the vegetables are soft. Add the garlic and saute for another minute or so. Remove from heat and stir in the parsley, thyme, cayenne, and pecans.
  4. In a casserole dish, stir the cauliflower with salt to taste, using a pretty generous amount. Using a fork, toss it with the beaten egg, then thoroughly combine with sausage and the veggie mixture. Smooth the top and dot it with tiny pieces of the cold fat.
  5. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until lightly golden browned on top. Serve with roast chicken, turkey, or Cornish hens.
(I have not tried these personally, but I definitely think they would work!)
  • Add a diced green apple along with the veggies
  • Add 2 Tbs dried fruit such as Craisins, cherries, apricots, golden raisins, or currants
  • Use a different nut instead of or in addition to the pecans, such as hazelnuts, pistachios, or pine nuts

Friday, October 19, 2012

Moroccan-spiced pumpkin hummus

I go through a tub of guacamole pretty much every week because I put it on everything. Particularly since deciding to scale way back on my cheese consumption, it's my go-to condiment when I want to add something rich and luscious to my eggs, grilled chicken, veggies, even meatballs. So, I wanted to find an alternative creamy spread that I could use as a change of pace. Enter pumpkin hummus. I've made this several times already as I just can't get enough of it. I got the idea from this page, so apparently it is a traditional middle eastern dish. Maybe?? Well, the internet says it is. In any case, that pumpkin/cumin/tahini combo creates a perfect harmony. I also add some ras el hanout, but you can leave it out and it will still be delicious.

Makes about 2 generous cups

  • 1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1/4 cup roasted tahini
  • 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp ras el hanout (optional; I used this recipe)
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbs lemon or lime juice
  • 1 Tbs fresh minced cilantro or flat-leaf parsley (I've used both successfully, it's just a matter of preference)
  1. Put everything in a food processor.
  2. Blend! You're done!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

CPK-style Thai chicken meatza

I love California Pizza Kitchen's Thai chicken pizza. I hate how I feel after eating a floury crust topped with cheese and sugary peanut sauce. This is my solution. I've been loving meatza lately for its simplicity. While I could have made an alternative crust and topped it with chicken chunks, I decided to instead relegate the meat to the crust and then pile on the toppings.

Instead of peanut sauce, I used the Sunshine Sauce recipe from Well Fed, which is based on sunflower seed butter. I loved it, though bear in mind that it is NOT like the sweet, gloppy peanut sauce you get at restaurants. It's light and refreshing with a fairly strong lime juice flavor. If you want a conventional peanut sauce flavor, add a tablespoon of honey or two packets of sweetener such as stevia. This recipe only needs one or two tablespoons of sunshine sauce, but make the whole batch anyway because it's yummy! I've been dipping jicama sticks in the leftovers.

I didn't measure any of the toppings, so feel free to just sprinkle on however much you like. The amounts I give are approximations. Oh, and I got confirmation from Tom Denham of Whole9 that bean sprouts are indeed Whole30 approved and are not considered a legume.

Serves 2-4

  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbs Thai red curry paste
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt or Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs shredded carrot
  • 1/4 cup bean sprouts
  • 1-2 scallions, sliced thinly
  • 1 Tbs minced cilantro leaves
  • 1 Tbs chopped roasted salted cashews
  • 1-2 Tbs sunshine sauce 
  1. Preheat oven to 450 F
  2. Beat the egg with the curry paste and salt. Mix it thoroughly with the ground chicken.
  3. Lightly grease a large pan (I used a 10" round cake pan). Pack the meat into the pan, making it slightly thicker at the outer edges to resemble a crust. Bake for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove the meatza crust from the oven (do not turn the oven off) and drain and/or blot off any accumulated liquid. Spread sunshine sauce on top, then sprinkle on the carrots, bean sprouts, and scallions. Bake for another 5 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle it with cilantro and chopped cashews. Let cool for a couple minutes, then slice into wedges and serve with extra sunshine sauce on the side.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Dairy-free mini cheesecakes with bacon-apple topping

I recently learned that one can go to Sonic and buy an order of three cheesecake bites. Just three little cubes of cheesecake, rolled in cereal crumbs and deep-fried. I love the idea of being able to just get a little something sweet, and I especially love cheesecake, so I set out to make a healthier version.

There are lots of recipes for Greek yogurt cheesecake. They are light and fluffy, and while I love a rich, dense slab of cheesecake, I thought that a less heavy base would be nice for this use. Most of the dairy-free cheesecake recipes I've seen use a base of cashews and/or coconut butter, but given the wide availability of coconut yogurt, I decided to go ahead with that. I also kept it crustless to lower calories and keep preparation simple. 

Normally I like cheesecake with fresh raw berries, but since they are out of season I picked up a Honeycrisp apple. I'm not a fan of gloppy cooked-to-death fruit so I sauteed it simply with a bit of bacon and some chopped hazelnuts. 

Stuff I did that was annoying and I'm not sure if it actually benefitted the recipe:
  1. Since Greek yogurt is just regular yogurt with some of the whey drained out, I got the idea from this recipe to try to drain the coconut yogurt myself. I let it sit in a sieve lined with a coffee filter for about 24 hours and I didn't think that it made too much of a difference in the texture. I just added some extra coconut flour to thicken it and it worked fine. So, you may be able to omit this step and just use a 6 oz container of regular yogurt. By the way, I used So Delicious plain coconut yogurt, but it does have some funky ingredients including added cane juice so if you prefer, you can make your own in a crock pot!
  2. I put the muffin tin in a water bath while baking, but I'm not sure if that actually matters. 
So it's up to you if you want to take those steps or just throw caution to the wind.

Makes a dozen minis

For the cheesecake:
  • 3/4 cup homemade coconut Greek yogurt (see item #1 in the above list) or regular dairy Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbs coconut flour (omit if using dairy Greek yogurt)
  • 1 Tbs arrowroot or tapioca starch
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • Tiny pinch salt
  • Sweetener to taste* 
For the apple topping:
  • 1 strip bacon, chopped into 1/4" pieces
  • 1 apple (preferably Honeycrisp), diced small
  • 1 Tbs chopped toasted hazelnuts (you can substitute any nut you'd like, I use hazelnuts because of the favorable fatty acid profile. Or use coconut flakes to make it nut-free.)
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch salt (I used bacon salt!)
 *The So Delicious brand yogurt already had some sweetener so it didn't need much. I used one packet of stevia; alternately, a tablespoon of honey or maple syrup would complement the apple topping nicely. If your yogurt is completely unsweetened, you'll want sweetener equivalent of about 1/3 cup sugar (guide).

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Combine all of the cheesecake ingredients in a food processor and puree until completely smooth, scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula as necessary.
  3. Line 12 mini-muffin cups and distribute the cheesecake batter among them, filling each cup about 3/4 of the way full.
  4. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until firm. Chill very thoroughly before serving, at least an hour.
  5. While the cheesecakes are baking, make the topping. Cook the chopped bacon in a skillet over medium-low heat. Remove the bacon with a fork or slotted spoon, then saute the apples with cinnamon and salt in the bacon grease until golden and tender. Stir in the hazelnuts and let the mixture cool thoroughly in a bowl off heat. Spoon it over the cheesecakes before serving.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A month of Whole30 make-ahead freezer meals

I added a new page to the site: a month's worth of make-ahead freezer meals that are Whole30 compliant! Check it out here:

Friday, October 5, 2012

Ridiculously easy sausage, peppers, and onions in the crock pot

It's time for a ridiculously easy recipe! I don't even really know what to say about this since it is so simple. There's sausage in it. Peppers and onions, too. It's filling and yummy. Go make it! And if you don't want to eat it right now, make it anyway because there are directions for freezing!

Serves about 4

  • One 12-16 oz package of sausages (Aidells organic basil & garlic sausage is widely-available and has no added sugar, nitrates, or dairy. But you can use whatever you like!)
  • Bag of frozen pepper and onion stir-fry veggies (I used this kind)
  • 15 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Tbs dried Italian herb mix
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • Salt and pepper to taste (you may not need salt if your sausage and canned tomatoes are salty)
  • Your favorite pasta substitute for serving (I used half of a large spaghetti squash, and cooked it according to this photo tutorial)
  • Optional: grated Parmesan and/or shredded mozzarella cheese for topping
  1. Combine the crushed tomatoes with the garlic and herbs. Cut the sausage into bite-sized chunks and mix it with the tomato mixture.
  2. Put half the peppers and onions (unthawed) into the bottom of your slow cooker. Dump the sausage mixture on top, then the rest of the peppers and onions. Add salt and pepper and cook on low for 6 hours. Serve atop your pasta substitute of choice.
Make-ahead directions: Freeze the sausage/tomato/garlic/herb mixture. You can also add the frozen veggies but there's no need since they're already bagged and frozen. When ready to cook, just dump everything into the crock pot, no need to thaw first. You may need to add an hour or two to the total cook time. You can also freeze cooked spaghetti squash flesh in muffin cups.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Protein pumpkin bread French toast

Topped with cinnamon and a blob of coconut butter -- reminiscent of frosting!
This was inspired by a recipe for banana bread French toast. If it can be done with banana bread, why not pumpkin? It's a perfect breakfast for an autumn morning.

I opted to use protein powder as my primary flour substitute. It worked great, although the texture of protein powder based baked goods tends to be very smooth and a bit gummy. I think that almond flour yields a nicer crumb, so if you don't care about macros you can make a different pumpkin bread recipe such as this one. However, I was willing to compromise for a more satiating breakfast. I also added a bit of golden flax meal to improve the texture and also add some extra fiber. And of course there are also eggs and coconut oil. So it's French toast, but you're also getting plenty of protein, healthy fats, fiber, and even a veggie serving from the pumpkin!

This recipe is kinda-sorta dairy-free. I used whey protein isolate, which has all of the lactose and casein removed. Most people who eschew dairy avoid it because of one or both of those compounds, so even if you don't eat dairy you might be okay with this particular protein powder. If not, you can try egg white protein or rice protein.

I baked it in a petite loaf pan so that it would rise like bread, rather than getting little rectangles like you would get in a conventional loaf pan. They are easy to find; I saw foil ones at Wal-Mart for a little over a buck. You can bake it in a regular loaf pan, you just might need to adjust the cooking time and the slices will not look as nice.

I doubled up on the pumpkin by adding pumpkin puree to the egg wash mixture as well. If you prefer a fluffy French toast, you can make this recipe for the bread but use the pumpkin egg batter and add extra spices. This is more dense than fluffy, as is characteristic of any quick bread. I try not to eat very sweet things, so I just topped it with coconut butter and cinnamon. However it would be terrific with a drizzle of maple syrup, either the real stuff or make your own sugar-free version.

Makes 8 thick slices, or 12 thin ones


For the bread:
  • 2 scoops vanilla whey protein isolate (True Nutrition WPI in natural premium vanilla or Jay Robb brand are stevia-sweetened)
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 Tbs milled golden flax seed
  • 4 Tbs melted coconut oil
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbs pumpkin pie spice (or combine 2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp allspice, and 1/4 tsp nutmeg)
For the egg batter:
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup canned coconut milk, stirred
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Coconut oil or ghee for cooking
  1.  Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Combine the flax meal with 1/4 cup water in a small bowl. Set aside to soak while you mix the other ingredients.
  3. Combine the protein powder, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice in a small bowl. In a larger separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, coconut oil, and pumpkin. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix thoroughly. Add the flax mixture and stir to combine.
  4. Grease a loaf pan (preferably a mini pan) and pour in the batter. Bake at 350 for about 35 minutes or until solid. Let cool thoroughly before slicing, at least an hour. Ideally, chill it in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.
  5. When ready to make French toast, preheat a nonstick skillet over medium heat until quite hot. Whisk together the egg batter ingredients except for the oil. Working in batches, dip slices of pumpkin bread in the batter, then cook over medium heat in coconut oil or ghee until both sides are golden brown, turning only once. Serve.
Freezing directions:  Let cool, freeze in ziploc bags, and keep frozen until ready to eat. To serve, place in toaster oven or microwave for 1-2 minutes.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Fish taco bowl

San Diego is (apparently) known for its fish tacos. This article describes them as, "a humble assemblage of ingredients: a lump of fried or grilled fish, shredded cabbage, salsa fresca and white sauce in a corn tortilla, with a wedge of lime perched on top". The sauce is what really makes them unique, as it's a sort of spicy tartar sauce that complements the fish perfectly. I decided to make my own, replacing the taco shell with a bowl of veggies, blackening the fish instead of deep frying, and making a creamy but dairy-free sauce.

I used this recipe pretty much exactly for the sauce, except I wanted to use a dairy-free substitute for the sour cream. What's with all the dairy-free stuff lately? Well, dairy gives me a stuffy nose. I don't normally post a whole lot about boxing on here, but after years of sparring and fighting my nose is just a mess. Internally, it's probably the nose equivalent of one of those houses you see on Hoarders. It's all swollen and filled with scar tissue and dried blood and probably bits of leather and my teammates' hair or something, so if I have the sniffles on top of that I'm basically forced to breathe through my mouth sooooo...less dairy. Plus a lot of my readers following a paleo lifestyle avoid dairy so this way, everybody wins. I'm not completely giving it up, just trying to reduce, particularly during the week when I am boxing a lot.

For an easy dairy-free sour cream I was inspired by this tutorial from Oh She Glows. First, take a little can of coconut milk and let it sit in the fridge for overnight or longer. This may not work with all brands, but it definitely works with Thai Kitchen and will probably work with any brand which contains guar gum. I used one of the mini 5.5 oz cans which was perfect for this recipe. Flip it upside down and use a can opener to remove the bottom of the can. This will reveal a watery liquid that has separated from the solid coconut cream.

Pour off the liquidy layer. Discard it or save it to use in smoothies

Spoon out the solid coconut cream into a bowl...

...then add 1 tsp lemon juice and a big pinch (about 1/8 tsp salt) to the coconut cream and mix thoroughly.

There you have it! Dairy-free sour cream.

Serves 4

  • 1 bag angel hair cole slaw or about a pound of cabbage, finely shredded
  • 6 radishes, sliced
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 4 skinless fish fillets (I used cod; tilapia or mahi would work very well but you may need to adjust cooking time)
  • Old Bay or other seafood seasoning or blackening seasoning
  • 1-2 Tbs ghee or other high-heat fat of choice
  • 1 batch fish taco sauce (recipe). For dairy-free, substitute the sour cream with the coconut-based recipe above. For lower calorie, use reduced-fat mayo and Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.
  • Minced cilantro and lime wedges for serving
  • Fresh salsa for serving (optional; I always make this recipe)
  1. Make the fish taco sauce and chill until ready to serve.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. 
  3. Heat the ghee or oil in a large cast iron skillet over high heat until very, very hot. Meanwhile, season the fish liberally with Old Bay on one side. Cook the fillets on the unseasoned side for 1 minute, then flip and cook on the seasoned side for 2 minutes. Put the skillet directly into the oven and cook for 8 minutes or until flaky.
  4. Meanwhile, distribute the cabbage, radishes, scallions, and avocado evenly among four plates. Top with the fish, drizzle with sauce, and serve with lime wedges and fresh salsa.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Bacon and blue cheese slider kebabs

Usually when I eat burgers, I eat them bunless atop a salad. However, I think that part of the appeal of a burger on a bun is that all the toppings and condiments are together in a neat little package and you taste everything in each bite. Hence, slider kebabs were born. They are like eating a cute little hamburger, but without the bread.

I wrapped the slider patties with bacon. It didn't get too crisp in the oven, but you can easily sear the bacon after baking the patties. I used my kitchen torch but a hot cast iron skillet would work as well. Alternately, you can just pre-cook the bacon slices and slide them onto the skewer. Or omit the bacon altogether!

I made a blue cheese and horseradish dipping sauce. Dairy-free readers can just combine horseradish and mayo, or use something else altogether. I think that bacon-wrapped turkey sliders with guacamole for dipping would be delicious.

Makes 12 skewers


  • 1 lb ground beef (I used 90% lean grass-fed)
  • Steak seasoning for the burgers (I used Penzeys English prime rib rub; McCormick Montreal steak seasoning is widely available at supermarkets and would also be great. I also think the ingredients in these umami slider burgers would be great, but in a pinch just salt & pepper will work.)
  • 6 strips bacon, cut in half crosswise
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, halved crosswise
  • Red onion, cut into 1" chunks
  • Romaine lettuce, cut into chunks
  • 12 mini bamboo skewers
For the blue cheese dipping sauce:
  • 2 Tbs blue cheese crumbles
  • 2 Tbs Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
  • 1 Tbs mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbs grated horseradish (get it from the refrigerated section near the pickles. The kind of the shelf in the condiments aisle always has corn syrup and soybean oil)
  • Pinch of garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F
  2. Season the ground beef liberally with your spices of choice and combine using your hands. Shape it into twelve uniform patties.
  3. Wrap each slider patty with half a slice of bacon and arrange them on a slotted broiler pan. Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes.
  4. If desired, crisp the bacon using a kitchen torch or in a piping-hot cast iron skillet.
  5. On each skewer, thread half a cherry tomato, the burger patty, a chunk of red onion, and a piece of lettuce (in that order).
  6. Combine all the dipping sauce ingredients, mashing the blue cheese crumbles with a fork. Serve the skewers with the dipping sauce on the side.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Brie, apple, and arugula omelette

I love eggs with fruit. I know that it sounds weird, but it's a great way to get a hint of sweetness with breakfast without eating a pastry or smoothie. One decadent combination is an omelette with bananas and almond butter, to which you can even add a sprinkling of dark chocolate chips. Or, the scramble suggested in It Starts With Food: "egg scramble with peaches, spinach, fresh basil, and chopped pecans". This one is simple, fantastic, and seems fancy but is easy to make. I love the combination of brie with apples. Fresh arugula adds a subtle bitterness that complements the richness of the cheese. You can definitely play around with this a bit: use a different soft cheese instead of the brie, a different variety of apples, or substitute baby spinach for the arugula.

Serves 1

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • About 1 oz (weight) brie slices (no need to measure, you can just eyeball it)
  • About 1 oz (weight) Granny Smith apple, sliced very thin (again, no need to measure)
  • Small handful of arugula leaves
  • Optional: sprinkle of truffle salt
  • Butter or other fat of choice for cooking
  1. Heat a small skillet over medium.
  2. Add the butter and swirl to coat. Add the eggs and cook until the bottom seems solid but the top is still a bit wet. Add the apple, brie, and arugula on one side of the omelette. Sprinkle on a bit of truffle salt, if using. Fold the omelette over, cover, and turn off the heat. Let it sit for a few minutes (I leave it on the burner) until cheese is melted.
  3. Take off heat and serve!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Chopped liver with schmaltz and gribenes (aka Jewish bacon)

If you're a Mark's Daily Apple Reader, you may have seen this on Monday when it was posted for the 2012 recipe video contest. In any case, some people asked for a text version of the recipe, so here you go.

I've posted healthier versions of traditional Jewish dishes before such as blintzes and Passover macaroons. This one is far from low-calorie, but chicken livers are incredibly nutrient-dense and hey, at least it's low-carb! If you'd like to try your hand at making organ meats but are intimidated to do so, this is the perfect "offal wuss" recipe: everything gets thrown in the food processor at the end, and any mistakes can be covered up with luscious chicken fat! I cooked some diced chicken fat to make schmaltz (rendered liquid fat) and gribenes (cracklings). If you don't want to bother with this, duck fat or ghee would make an ideal substitute, and even cooking oil can be used in a pinch. Of course that means that you won't be able to top it with gribenes -- "Jewish bacon" -- but it will still be delicious. I like to scoop it up with celery sticks, but you can be adventurous and make crackers or faux rye bread.

If you're still intimidated, I made an instructional video so that you can see what it should look like at each step of the process:

Question: Would you like to see more video blogs? Please let me know in the comments! The production quality on this one is admittedly low because I had to make the contest deadline and uh, I procrastinated. Future videos would be more polished with better lighting. If you have any examples of your favorite cooking videos on other sites, please let me know and I'll check them out for inspiration.

In any case, here's the recipe!

Serves 6-8 people as an appetizer*

  • 1 lb chicken livers (preferably Kosher, they taste better)
  • 2 yellow onions, thinly sliced (I used the slicing disk of my food processor)
  • 4 eggs, boiled and peeled
  • Fat and skin from one or more chickens, diced small or snipped into small pieces with kitchen shears (optional: see recipe description for substitutes)
  • Minced parsley leaves for garnish (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. If using chicken fat, place it in a cold skillet on low heat. Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring if it starts to stick together, until the liquid fat is rendered and the cracklings are crisp. Strain to separate the schmaltz and gribenes and set both aside.
  2. Heat some of the chicken fat over medium heat in a Dutch oven. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to brown. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook until sticky and thoroughly caramelized.
  3. Saute the chicken livers over medium-high heat in a skillet in some of the chicken fat. Set aside to cool slightly.
  4. Transfer the livers and eggs to a food processor bowl with lots of salt and pepper. Pulse until coarsely chopped but still spreadable, scraping down the sides as needed. 
  5. Transfer to a mixing bowl and combine the mixture with the onions as well as any remaining chicken fat. Taste and correct seasoning.
  6. To serve, mound it on a plate and top with the gribenes (cracklings) and parsley. Serve with celery sticks or crackers for dipping.
*Serves 6-8 normal people. In my family (including my chopped-liver-crazed indoctrinated-goy husband) it serves maybe one person.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Bacon salt

Yes, bacon salt. I've seen lots of flavored salts out there: saffron salt, truffle salt...why not bacon?? It's a great way to easily add that smoky, porky flavor to anything you cook. I have seen commercial bacon salt for sale but you know what ISN'T in it?? BACON. That is unacceptable. So, I decided to make my own.

I decided to use a combination of smoked salt and regular, as the smoked salt made the bacon flavor stand out more. You can use just regular sea salt or kosher salt, but it will be much more subtle.

I made this batch a while ago and I use it all the time. Finally I got around to posting it! Some standouts that I have made with it include:
  • Bacon roasted broccoli: Cut a head of broccoli into florets and toss with a tablespoon of melted bacon grease. Roast at 450 for 20 minutes, then sprinkle with bacon salt. This works with all kinds of veggies: cauliflower, green beans, Brussels sprouts, sweet potato wedges, chunks of cabbage...just adjust the cooking time if necessary.
  • Beat it into your eggs before scrambling them -- it is INCREDIBLE with eggs!
  • Sprinkle it on cooked hearty greens such as kale, collards, mustard greens, and so forth.
  • Dessert! Make salted chocolate truffles using a sprinkle of bacon salt. I've also made a single-serving microwave brownie with half a chocolate-caramel square in the middle, then sprinkled it with bacon salt for a bacon salted caramel brownie (mmm...)
Makes about 1/2 cup

  • 6 strips bacon
  • 3 Tbs smoked salt (I used VSpicery applewood smoked; Williams Sonoma carries a few varieties)
  • 4 Tbs coarse sea salt or Kosher salt
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 400 F.
  2. Lay bacon slices on a shallow baking pan. Roast until fat begins to render, about 5 to 6 minutes. Rotate pan and continue roasting for another 5-6 minutes or until bacon is very crisp and brown. You do not want soft or chewy bacon for this. Transfer with tongs to paper towel-lined plate.
  3. When bacon is completely cool, transfer to a spice grinder and pulse until powdery. If you don't have a spice grinder, you can hand chop with a knife, though it may take a while.
  4. Combine the bacon with the salts. Store in the refrigerator in a covered container.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Make-ahead Italian brunch bake

I saw this recipe for "Zesty Italian Brunch Bake" over at What I Gather and I knew I had to try it. I've made egg muffins dozens of times, so I really liked the idea of a layered dish just as a change of pace. I also wanted to see how it would hold up to freezing and reheating. It worked out great, so now I have a new make-ahead breakfast option! I snapped the above picture after reheating a frozen piece.

Here is what it looks like frozen, before nuking.
I made only a couple changes. I used yellow squash instead of zucchini, because that's what I got from my CSA. I think that zucchini would be prettier since the yellow squash blended in with the color of the eggs. I also precooked the onions because I was paranoid that they would be raw if I didn't, and I beat the seasonings into the eggs. All in all, this was a winner and I loved the look of the layers.

Serves 4-6

  • 16 oz jar roasted red peppers (whole or big pieces, not sliced or chopped), drained and patted dry with paper towels
  • Half a yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 zucchini or yellow squash, thinly sliced
  • 4 oz sliced crimini or white mushrooms (criminis are more nutritious)
  • 1/2 lb ground beef or Italian sausage (I used bulk spicy Italian sausage; turkey sausage would definitely work too!)
  • 1 tsp dried Italian herb mix
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 4 eggs
  • Olive oil for sauteeing
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Saute the onion in a bit of oil over medium-high heat until translucent. Set aside. Wipe out pan and brown the sausage or ground beef until no longer pink. Drain off excess fat and set aside off heat.
  3. Line the bottom of a lightly-oiled 8x8 baking dish with the roasted red peppers, slightly overlapping.
  4. Add a layer of onions, then zucchini, then mushrooms, then meat.
  5. Beat the eggs with Italian herb mix, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Evenly pour it over the casserole. Shake the pan a bit to ensure even distribution.
  6. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until eggs are cooked through and no longer jiggly.
Make-ahead directions: When completely cool, cut into squares. Use a spatula to lift squares out of the casserole dish and set them on a baking sheet, pieces not touching each other. Freeze overnight. Individually wrap the frozen squares in plastic wrap and store in a freezer bag. To serve, microwave 2-3 minutes on high or until hot.

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