Archives for category: Meat

Wedding gifts are amazing.

A cast iron dutch oven is a prime example of why wedding gifts are amazing.

O Great Bearded One... or Colin.

So, here’s a quick shout out to our friend Colin who purchased said item in honor of our nuptials! Putting it to use was simple enough. I set out to create a delicious Paleo-fied Shepherd’s Pie. Below are the fruits (or pie) of my labor.

This particular pie was topped with a kabocha squash mash, but you could use any squash (or yam) you have on hand.

Kabocha Shepherd’s Pie

1 1/2 lbs. grass-fed ground beef
1 c. diced eggplant
1/2 bell pepper, diced
3 celery ribs, chopped
1/2 onion, diced
2 shiitake mushrooms, diced
4 whole, peeled tomatoes, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. oregano
pinch cayenne

Topping

1/2 onion, caramelized
1 large kabocha squash (about 3 cups of flesh)

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Caramelize onions by slicing thin half moons and cooking on LOW heat for 20 mins or until onions are soft and brown (not brown and crispy). Stir occasionally
  3.  Cut squash in half and take out the seeds. Place face down on a baking sheet and roast for 20-25 mins. Done when skin gives easily when pressed.
  4. Let the squash cool and then scoop out flesh into a food processor.

    mash it up!

  5. Add caramelized onions and some salt and pepper to taste. Blend until smooth and set aside.
  6. Lower oven temp to 300.
  7. In a cast iron dutch oven or large skillet over medium heat,  saute onion, celery, and mushrooms for 2-3 min. Add beef.

    celery, pepper, and eggplant

  8. Stir until beef begins to brown.
  9. Add bell pepper, eggplant, tomatoes, garlic, and spices.
  10. Heat until beef is cooked through and vegetables are beginning to get soft.

    gettin steamy

  11. Spread topping over the top of the meat mixture in the dutch oven. If using a baking pan, transfer meat mixture to baking pan first, then spread the topping on the meat.

    Rustic

  12. Bake for 20 mins or until squash topping begins to brown.

Just got back from all my wedding festivities! Spent two weeks away on our honeymoon instead of one and I was quite thankful for the flexibility on our schedules to accommodate such a long vacation.

The new Mister and Missus

Awwwwww!

We stayed in a beach condo for two weeks so I had multiple opportunities to create fun and interesting recipes all day long. Here is the first of many that I will be sharing on this blog.

Add a little side salad and you have a complete meal.

For this recipe, buy all natural and uncured bacon. No nitrates or nitrites added. That stuff is no bueno. Also, go and find a kabocha squash. They are not hard to find and if you’ve never had one, YOU MUST TRY IT! It’s so delicious that my HUSBAND (see how I snuck that in there?!) insists that we always make it when we have visitors because he wants to share his favorite squash with everyone. Here’s what a kabocha looks like.

You can eat the skin too!

Bacon Wrapped Drumsticks with Grilled Kabocha Wedges

5-6 Chicken drumsticks
10-12 slices of bacon (nitrate and nitrite free), about 2 slices per drumstick
1 kabocha squash (also known as a Japanese Pumpkin), seeded and sliced into wedges
2 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

  1. Light up your grill on medium heat
  2. On a cutting board, wrap the drumstick from top to bottom with bacon strips. Set aside.

    It's like decorating your chicken.

  3. Place kabocha slices in a bowl. Drizzle coconut oil over along with the salt and spices. According to your taste you can make it more salty or more spicy.
  4. Place kabocha on the grill, about 5-6 mins per side depending on the heat of your BBQ. They are done when easily squished or broken. They become quite tender if cooked too long.
  5. Put chicken on the grill and turn halfway through. They should cook about as long as the squash. Be careful for flare ups from the bacon grease dripping into the grill. When the bacon is nice and crispy, take off the grill and serve.

    Crispy and Juicy

Serves 2-3 people

 

 

 

This one is from the hallowed Paleo grounds of Mark’s Daily Apple. In fact, it’s one of the recipes from the Primal Blueprint Reader Cookbook. I’ve made this dish a couple times. It’s so lovely and aromatic as welll as FILLING. This last time I only dished it over a 1/4 of the acorn squash. But for those with hearty appetites, go ahead and serve it in a half a squash. It’s a beautiful presentation either way.

For the folks who are uber-sensitive to dairy: swap out the butter for coconut oil and omit the yogurt. Enjoy!

It's a spice extravaganza!

Butter Chicken

4 lbs. chicken thighs, chopped into 1 inch cubes
6 garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons garam masala
3 teaspoons ground coriander
3 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon paprika
3/4 cup Greek-style (thick) yogurt
7 tablespoons butter, chopped
1 tablespoon white vinegar
3 tablespoons tomato paste
4 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped (or 1 can diced tomatoes, unsalted)
6 cardamom pods (crush pods slightly to release seeds and more flavor)
1 cinnamon stick
1 1/2 cup cream or coconut milk
1/2 cup fresh coriander, coarsely chopped

  1. Combine chicken, garlic, spices and yogurt in a covered container. Refrigerate for an hour or two.
  2. Melt butter in a deep pan. Add vinegar, tomato paste, tomatoes, cardamom and cinnamon. Boil rapidly, stirring until sauce is thick (approximately 20 minutes).
  3. Reduce heat to a simmer and add chicken. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally until chicken is cooked through. Add cream or coconut milk, simmer a few minutes more, and garnish with chopped cilantro.

Roasted Acorn Squash

2 small acorn squash, halved and seeded
Coconut oil to grease baking sheet

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Grease a baking sheet with coconut oil.
  3. Place squash halves face down on the sheet.
  4. Bake for 30 mins, until the squash is tender and the lip of the opening is browned.

An unfortunate picture of a delicious dish!

This recipe was a complete accident… something that happens more often than not, actually.

I work for a family and cook for them every night and the other day I found myself standing in front of the refrigerator trying to decide how to use the random ingredients available to me. The pesto burger stack was born. Being the Paleo Chef that I am, I was not about to try to wrap this burger in a bun but I wanted this dish to have a sense of completeness that is often lacking when you put a burger patty on a plate with a side of whatever. By grilling the butternut rounds with the burgers I created a harmonious visual presentation as well as a protein/starch element that helps the dish have some complexity. And let me say, the mixture of the sweet squash with the salty pesto is heavenly.

The Stack

Pesto Burger Stack

Pesto

3 c. fresh basil leaves

2-3 cloves garlic

¼ c. walnuts

¼ c. parmesan cheese

½ c. olive oil

1 tsp. salt

Stack

                1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into rounds

                1 lb. grass-fed ground beef

                1 small red onion, minced

                1-2 cloves of garlic, minced

Directions

  1. In a blender or food processor, add all pesto ingredients and puree until desired consistency, taste to adjust for more salt, garlic, or basil flavor as you desire.
  2. In a bowl, mix together red onion, beef, and garlic.
  3. Shape into patties about the same size as the butternut rounds.
  4. Oil the butternut rounds and put on a preheated grill on medium heat. About 5-10 min. each side depending on thickness. Test done-ness with a fork.
  5. Grill the burgers, about 5 min. each side on medium heat 
  6. Once the squash and burgers are done, arrange stacks on a plate. Squash on the plate, then spread pesto on squash and top with burger.  

 Option: top burger stack with some shaved parmesan.

I recently heard that there is a “cute food” movement brewing right now. Cute food? Well, see picture below.

Aren't they cute?!

So, I decided to put my cute food skills to task and create some animal related tiny foods for us all to OOOOoo and AAAhhh over.

They are bacon and egg cups. While they may not look like animals, they are definitely made out of animals. They are also yummy and a great thing to make in advance if you prefer to run out the door in the morning rather than leisurely chop and sauté omelets and paleo pancakes all morning long.

Nothing much to them, just some bacon and then some egg.

SOAP BOX ALERT:

Okay kids, when purchasing bacon you need to be really sure that it is natural and free from nitrates and nitrites. This is not a difficult thing to determine. Most of the time the package will say NO PRESERVATIVES or ALL NATURAL. But the best way to be sure is to look at the ingredients. SIDE NOTE: While you’re at it, if you are buying any prepackaged food, make sure you read the ingredients. Things (and by “things” I mean “crap that you shouldn’t be eating”) have a way of making their way into any and all packaged food. If the bacon has said preservatives in it, then you must pass on the purchase. Here’s why…

Sodium Nitrate, Potassium Nitrate and Sodium Nitrate all share some common evils:

1. many people have undiscovered sensitivities to these chemicals, symptoms include; migraines, dizziness, nausea, abdominal pain, and difficulty breathing

2. It’s toxic and 1g-2g of sodium nitrate is lethal. It also inhibits your body’s ability to transport oxygen to your bodily tissues.

3. It converts to nitrosamines in the body, which are mutagens that promote cancer growth.

4. Really?! you need 4 reasons. What about 1-3 is not convincing enough?

Seriously guys, this stuff is bad news. So much so that the USDA tried to ban its use in the 1970’s, but (unsurprisingly) this ban met a great amount of opposition by the US meat industry .

Try to find a good local source of uncured natural bacon and pork. Organic… good. preservative-free… good. Trader Joe’s carries some great preservative-free bacon at a great price. Applegate Farms does the same for lots of meat products like bacon, sausages, deli meats (check those labels!)

Final product... unfortunate plates, i know.

Bacon and Egg Cups

bacon, either strips or ends and pieces from Trader Joe’s. enough to cover the bottom and sides of a muffin tin.

eggs, one for each cup

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Place bacon in muffin tin so that is creates a “holder” for the egg.

making the cup

3. Crack an egg into each cup.

4 Bake for 8-15 mins depending on how thick your bacon is and how runny/well-done you want your egg. 

Variations include:

  • using Canadian bacon rounds instead of bacon
  • putting some sweet potato on the bottom
  • chopping up the bacon and whipping the eggs so that they are more like crustless-quiche.

It’s so confusing… yam or sweet potato? Well, here’s the deal. Call it whatever you want, I just call it delicious and the perfect breakfast food. Yams, technically speaking, are the typical orange-colored and muddy red/brown-skinned tubers that are the basis for things like sweet potato pie or candied yams.

Sweet Potatoes can vary in color but most often you see them with white flesh and beige/brown skin. There are also Okinawan Sweet Potatoes (aka. heaven) which are white skinned with deep purple flesh. These would also be delish in any of these recipes, however, they are harder to find in supermarkets, farmer’s markets, etc. Best bet is an Asian market for those babies.

That being said, I use the names interchangeably.

Crispy Sweet Breakfast

Crispy Sweet Breakfast

Eggs on a Placemat

2 lbs. Sweet Potatoes or Yams, washed, peeled, and grated
1 medium onion, chopped or grated
3-4 links of turkey sausage, casing removed and crumbled
6 eggs
sea salt
pepper
crushed red pepper
1Tbsp ghee, grass-fed butter (like KerryGold), or Coconut oil for greasing the baking sheet.

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F

2. Peel the yams and grate by hand or in a food processor with the grater attachment. 

3. Place potatoes in a nut milk bag, paper towels, or dish towel and squeeze out the extra moisture. This will go a long way to help the potatoes brown in the oven.

3. Chop the onion or grate similar to the potatoes

4. In a large bowl mix yams, onion, and seasonings until evenly combined. Spread out mixture onto a well-greased baking sheet. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until they are looking dry and close to crisping.

5. Remove from the oven and crack the eggs right on the top. Sprinkle the sausage crumbles and bake for another 8-10 minutes. You will have to check on the eggs to see if they are cooked to taste.

6. Garnish with some avocado, salsa, or some sautéed veggies.

Optional: a sprinkle of some organic pastured cheese.  

 recipe adapted from The Little Yellow Kitchen

Menu

The Feast

Honey Mustard Baked Chicken

 Grapefruit Fennel Salad

Steamed Artichoke with Olive Oil Aioli

Coconut Honey Custard with Fresh Strawberries

 

Usually dinner consists of some pretty easy/thrown together/stuff in the fridge ingredients. But sometimesI feel like making an actual “planned” meal. Dessert and all. Here are the recipes and pictures to prove it’s awesomeness.

Skin On.

Skin On.

Honey Mustard Baked Chicken

 2 Organic, Free-Range Chicken Breasts, skin on

1/2 c. mustard

1/2 c. olive oil

1/4 c. honey

1 clove garlic

2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

 fresh ground pepper and sea salt to taste

 

 

 1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees

2. In a blender, add mustard, oil, vinegar, honey, garlic, pepepr, and salt. Blend until smooth.

3. Using a spoon or spatula, spread the honey mustard sauce over the chicken. Bake for 25-35 mins until cooked through and the skin/sauce has begun to carmelize.
 
Fennel and Citrus should get married

Fennel and Citrus should get married.

Grapefruit Fennel Salad

 2-3 c. baby salad greens

1 fennel bulb, sliced thinly

1/2 red onion, sliced thinly

 1-2 grapefruits, supremed (reserve liquid)

 1/4 c. olive oil Juice and zest of 1 lemon

sea salt to taste

 

 

 

 1. Place sliced onion in a bowl with some water, let it soak for 20 mins. Then pat dry.

 2. In a blender, mix juice, zest, and salt. On the lowest setting, slowly add the olive oil to incorporate evenly.

 3. Toss greens, dressing, onion, and fennel. Add avocado for garnish (and because it’s awesome).

It's fun to play with this food!

It's fun to play with this food!

Steamed Artichoke with Olive Oil Aioli

 1-2 artichokes, trimmed

2 egg yolks

 1/2 c. olive oil

Juice of 1/2 lemon, some zest.

3-4 cloves of crushed garlic (HINT: roast the garlic for an even better flavor!)

sea salt to taste  

 

 

 

 1. In a pot, place artichokes stem down and fill with about 2-3 inches of water. Cover and turn heat on med-high and steam for 35-40 mins.

 2.In a blender  or whisk by hand all remaining ingredients, except the olive oil. Add slowly, like the dressing while whisking (or blending).

Imagine some chopped strawberries and a light dusting of cocoa on top.

Imagine some chopped strawberries and a light dusting of cocoa on top.

Coconut Custard with Fresh Strawberries  

4 Eggs

 2 c. Coconut Milk

1/3 c. Honey

1 Tbsp. Vanilla extract

Sea Salt

 5 strawberries, chopped for garnish

 

 

1. Preheat oven to 350

2. Blend all ingredients except strawberries.

2. Divide custard into oven-safe ramekins and place on a baking sheet/pan. Fill the baking with water and bake for 1 hour.

Another simple and tasty ethnic meal.

Indian Style Chicken with Kale and Sweet Potatoes

1 – 2 lb. chicken thighs, cut into 1″ pieces

1 medium onion, quartered and thinly sliced

2Tbsp. fresh ginger, minced

3 medium cloves garlic, pressed

1 Tbsp. chicken broth

1 tsp. garam masala

5 c. kale, finely chopped

3 c. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes

1 c. chicken broth

salt and pepper to taste

The ingredients

1. Heat broth in a large skillet or braising pot. Add Chicken, onion, ginger, and garlic. Stir frequently for 8 mins.

2. Add garam masala and stir again for 30 sec.

3. Add broth and stir in sweet potatoes and kale.

4. Simmer on low/medium heat for 15-20 mins until chicken is cooked through and the potatoes are tender.

Adding the potatoes and kale

I absolutely love ethnic food. Latin American, Japanese, Ethiopian, Thai, Cameroonian, etc. These cuisines all have exotic and distinct flavors, ties to cultural and social norms, as well as vibrant history of healing and fueling their people. Oftentimes, when shopping or eating out, I find that ethnic food is also the most clean, unprocessed and health supportive. Unfortunately, many ethnic markets, restaurants, and homes have been polluted by American food standards and western dietary influence. Japanese food in the States is a faint resemblance to the wholesome meals of Okinawa. A trip to Buca di Beppo, aka “Italian food”, is a far cry from the pure wholefoods found in the hills of Tuscany. I am increasingly appalled as I venture into Asian, Latin, and Middle Eastern markets here in Los Angeles and find products laden with hydrogenated oil, high fructose corn syrup, MSG, and many other “food-like” substances. Sugar is added to everything from coconut milk to sauces. Wheat and corn derivatives are in all kinds of marinades, nothing is organic, everything is refined.

In order to get “back to the beginning” of human eating we need to take a second look at these places and their historical culinary traditions so that we may shed light on where they began to fall away from their original design. I’ve found that the best way to get some really good, unadulterated ethnic meals is, 1. Go to the country of origin and find a family and let them cook for you– or– 2. Make it yourself.

Since I’ve recently been dubbed “Chef Nikki”, I suppose option number 2 is certainly within my reach. Thus, the following recipe.

It is a venture into fusion cooking (a venture I travel all too often). It combines the goodness of American comfort food with the celebration of flavors from Mexico. All the while, remaining Paleo compliant and friendly to all the gluten and lac-tarded people out there.

Meatloaf with Almond and Ancho Mole

The Loaf

Turkey Meatloaf and Ancho Mole Sauce

Meatloaf

1 lb. organic, wild, or kosher ground turkey

1/2 head large cauliflower, chopped finely into “rice”

6-7 shiitake mushrooms, chopped finely

1/2 medium white onion, chopped finely

3  garlic cloves, minced

salt and pepper

1 1/2  c. Almond and Ancho Mole sauce, reserve remaining sauce for finished loaf.

1. Preheat oven to 375

2. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl  and press into a greased loaf pan.

3. Bake 30 mins and then cover. Bake an additional 30 mins or until middle is done.

4. Let it set/cool for 10-20 mins. Serve with remaining sauce.

Almond and Ancho Mole Sauce

1 c. whole almonds (blanched)

2 medium dried ancho chilis (seeds and stems discarded)

2 c. vegetable stock

1 medium tomato (quartered and seeded)

1/2 medium white onion (use the other half of the meatloaf onion)

2 Tbsp. raisins

2 -3 medium cloves of garlic

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp. anise

1/2 tsp. coriander

4 allspice berries, crushed

1 Tbsp. cooking fat (rendered fat, coconut oil, grapeseed oil, or ghee)

1 . Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. `Spread the almonds out on a dry baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 mins, stirring once or twice until almonds are light tan.

toasting the almonds

2. Heat a dry heavy bottom skillet or cast iron griddle and tear the ancho chilis into large pieces. Toast for 1-2 mins occassionally pressing down on them with a spatula. They should blister and begin to lighten in color. Be careful not to inhale the fumes.

3. In a blender, puree chilis, almonds, stock, tomato, onion, raisins, garlic and salt.

4. Add ground spices into the blender and puree thoroughly. You may add some stock if its too thick to blend.

5. Add the cooking fat to a heated skillet and add the sauce, reduce until desired consistency. Use immediately or cool and refrigerate.

I’m HUNGRY! What do I eat? No chips, no bean dip, no sandwiches, no quesadillas, no hummus! Does this sound familiar?

 When starting out a paleo lifestyle, sometimes it seems as though there are very few options in the way of clean, fast, easy snack foods. I mean, who has time to steam a fish and stir fry some perfectly julienned vegetables on your 15 min work break? I mean, really? For those who feel no desire or inclination to imtermittently fast between luxurious time slots of kitchen cooking (riiiight.) you will need some quick and easy Paleo snack suggestions. Keep in mind, some of these snacks can and should be prepared ahead of time (during those kitchen times) and packaged accordingly.

Here are some wonderful suggestions. Some are Nikki originals, other’s not so much, but take note and be filled.

  • Hard Boiled Eggs – Everyone has a method.
  • Guacamole and Salsa with vegetable dippers i.e. cucumber slices, endive spoons, carrot slices, jicama, etc.
  • Turkey, Beef, Bison, Salmon Jerky (see recipe below)
  • Oysters canned in Olive oil with hot sauce and lemon juice
  • Nut butter on fruit
  • Avocado, halve it, spice it, eat it. Alternatives: spoon some canned shrimp in avo and a squeeze some lime, sprinkle some salt. and enjoy.
  • Make your own trail mix, my favorite is cashews, macadamia nuts, goji berries, coconut flakes, cacao nibs. Just mix in a huge bag and portion (think 1/4 -1/2 c.) in baggies or other containers of choice.
  • Blanched broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus holds up well in the fridge and can be dipped or seasoned
  • Make your own olive tapenade
  • Lunch meat wraps (please consider the quality of the lunch meat). Roll with some lettuce, avocado, mustard, tomato, sauerkraut, etc.
  • Sweet Potato Fudge (see last post)
  • Bacon (Did i mention that Trader Joe’s just got in Beef Bacon?)

As you can see, the possibilities are somewhat endless. Enjoy your snack time everyone!

Turkey Jerky

1 organic turkey breast
1/2 c. Gluten – Free Tamari (available at New Leaf/Whole Foods, Staff of Life)
1/4 c. grapeseed or sesame oil
1 Tbsp. crushed garlic
1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
1-2 Tbsp. sesame seeds
  1. Trim off all fat, skin, and ligaments from the turkey and slice into 1/8 inch slices against the grain.
  2. Place turkey in a plastic bag and add the remaining ingredients. Seal the bag and massage the meat with the marinade. Refrigerate overnight.
  3. Lay turkey slices on the dehydrator sheets and turn on the dehydrator to 135-140 degrees. Should take 7-10 hours.

Note: Partially freeze turkey breast for easy and even slicing.
Option for tamari-free marinade: use pineapple juice, chili oil, ginger and garlic.