Friday, September 30, 2011

Paleo Pumpkin Spiced Lattes


It's fall! It's fall! It's fall!

I want to simultaneously wear a sweater, sit in the sunshine, eat an apple, rake leaves into a neat little pile, kick leaves all over the place, make a good hearty soup and eat a lot of pumpkin-related stuff.

Mmmm.

Pumpkin.

I love those pumpkin spiced lattes you can get at those fancy-schmancy coffee shops.

But they just don't like me. Too much sugar. Dairy. And who knows what else.

SO!

Make them in your crockpot! And make them (mostly) paleo friendly!

(I say mostly because, c'mon people. We're making pumpkin lattes, which can only be paleo in the most non-literal meaning of the word possible.)

I have been working on a recipe for paleo pumpkin lattes for most of the week. We've had a few dud batches. Almond milk didn't really work. Too much agave nectar made it taste funny. This is the recipe I've settled on for the best latte possible, but I have to say, it still doesn't taste quite like the real thing. It's good, don't get me wrong. I just think that regular milk tastes a bit better with this particular recipe.

That being said, if you want to go more strict (non-dairy) paleo, go with the coconut milk. It's creamier and richer and works well with the pumpkin.

Enjoy!


The Tools:


- 2 qt. crockpot

- 1 can (14 oz) coconut milk (or 2 cups regular milk, if you're going the dairy route)
- 1 cup strong brewed coffee
- 3 T canned pumpkin
- 1 T agave nectar
- 2 T vanilla extract
- 1/4 t cinnamon
- 1/8 t cloves
- 1/8 t nutmeg
- dash of ginger

The Process:


Mix everything together in the crockpot.

Cook on low for 2-3 hours.

Drizzle in a bit of honey if you want your latte to be sweeter.

Paleo (ish) Hot and Sour Soup


I've been battling a cold since we got back from England.

And it's been raining.

And Will has to work all weekend so I need to feel better so I can manage by myself for another few days...

So I decided I needed some hot and sour soup.

I called this a paleo (ish) soup, because I sort of colored out of the lines a bit here. Tamari is wheat-free, but it's still not really paleo. Corn isn't really paleo, especially not the baby corn kind that comes in a can. Canned veggies were a bit of a stretch from our usual fresh-from-the-CSA variety.

But it's close enough, and it's not an everyday meal. Part of the fun of this blog is sharing some of my favorite ways to sort of cheat while not totally going out of (paleo) bounds.

And THIS RECIPE IS A WINNER.

You should totally make it.


The Tools:


- 4 qt. crockpot

- 1 cup chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup water
- 2 1/2 T tamari wheat-free soy sauce
- 2 1/2 T rice wine vinegar
- 2 t sesame oil
- 1 T red chili paste (you could also use red pepper flakes)
- 8 oz sliced baby bella mushrooms
- 8 oz can bamboo shoots, drained
- 8 oz can water chestnuts, drained
- 8 oz can baby corn, drained (I could only find the bigger can, so used half of it)

The Process:

Put everything in the crockpot.

Cook on low for 7-8 hours.

If you like your soup more hot, add some more chili paste. If you want it more sour, add some more rice vinegar. I ended up adding a bunch more spice (have I mentioned I'm sick?) and I can finally breathe through my nose again.

Awesome.

Herb and Olive Oil Rubbed Roast Whole Chicken


It was another one of those days. You know, with ballet, a produce CSA pickup, raining like crazy and a cranky sick baby.

So dinner had to be fast and furious.

Enter an olive oil and herb rubbed roasted whole chicken!

There's no real measurements for this one - you just open your cupboard and dump some stuff on the chicken, rub it in and walk away.

Perfect.

The Tools:

- 6 qt. crockpot

- Whole Chicken (mine was 4 lbs. and was that sort of defrosted state you get after leaving it in the back of the fridge in the coldest area for a day)
- Several "glugs" of olive oil
- Around ten vigorous shakes from the herb bottles of your choosing. I tend to go for thyme and rosemary.

The Process:

Put the chicken in the crockpot.

Dump the other ingredients over it.

Rub it all in the chicken.

Cook on low for 8-9 hours, or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Simple Fall Spiced Acorn Squash


We're back!

We were in England for the last ten or so days, and I'm just slowly getting back to the Boston time zone and catching up on all of those things that get out of hand when you travel.

Like laundry.

Ugh.


BUT we came back and immediately went to Trader Joe's (since the fridge only had olives in it) and FALL HAD ARRIVED WHILE WE WERE GONE!!!

So here you go. And you can all expect to see many squash and pumpkin recipes in the coming weeks... we're huge fall food people.

The Tools:

- 6 qt. crockpot

- acorn squash, cut in half
- 4 heaping T applesauce
- 2 1/2 T chopped walnuts (or pecans - whatever you prefer)
- 2 1/1 T dried cranberries
- 1/8 t cinnamon
- dash nutmeg

The Process:


Carefully chop your acorn squash. Plop it in the crock, fleshy parts facing up.

Mix the rest of the ingredients together and spoon them over the squash pieces in the crock.

Pour just a bit of water around the squash (no more than a cup or so) so the acorn squash doesn't dry out during cooking.

Cook on low for 4 hours. The squash should be easily pierced with a fork when done.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Weekly Menu

Breakfasts:
Smoothies (I've been making them with our raw milk lately.)
Paleo Pumpkin Muffins
Eggs and Fruit
Butternut Squash Puree (the kids love this) & Turkey Sausage

Lunches:
Salami & Cheese Roll-ups
Chicken, Celery, Grape, & Crispy Walnut Salad
Creamy Tomato Soup
Apples, Pears
Carrots
Date Balls
Fruit Leather*

Dinners:
Monday: Cashew Chicken Stir Fry
Tuesday: Spaghetti Squash with Meaty Marinara Sauce
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Shepherd's Pie (with squash, not potatoes)
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Spice Rub Crock Pot Chicken, Broccoli
Sunday: Hamburger Vegetable Soup (make it paleo)


*Fruit Leather: it's back at Costco!  At 21 cents a piece it is so easy to slip in the purse to have on hand as a treat/snack for the kids.  I even gave some out last Halloween, mixed in with chocolate options of course.


Have a great week!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Shopping

People. You don't need to shop at Whole Foods to eat paleo.  In fact, you shouldn't, at least not exclusively, if you need to mind a modest budget.  This week, I am shopping at Aldi and my local supermarket.  And maybe Costco later in the week, but only for some more produce since I may be there to get new tires (ouch!) anyways.  So, what did I get today?

At Aldi, I had a couple impulse buys: canned pumpkin (gotta snatch some or four up for 99 cents before they run out), roasted red peppers for like $1.65 or something a jar (a special item), and bagged spinach marked down because it is close to the due date (if I don't use it soon I will toss it in the freezer).  I wanted to go to Hy-Vee for some things, but decided they were close enough in price to Aldi that I would just make one stop.  The list: mustard, cocoa, 2 dozen eggs, 10 avocados (49 cents each!), 2 packages grape tomatoes, 3 hearts of romaine lettuce, 4 lbs. bananas, 3.5 lbs. frozen chicken breasts.  And I had promised my daughter a treat so we got one of those Bolthouse farms smoothies in a big bottle for $2.79 and split it 3 ways in the car.  A bit of a sugar rush, but not terrible for a treat.  Spent $37, including tax.  Oh, and I also got some organic blue corn tortilla chips.  Not purely paleo, but maybe we'll make some nachos out of leftover chili on the weekend.

At Price Chopper, we got 2 big spaghetti squash, 2 butternut squash, 3.5 lbs. apples, 2 lbs. pears, 2 bags of frozen green beans, and 2 bags of frozen peas & carrots.  None of it is organic.  Spent $17 including tax.  The squash were 50 cents/lb., the fruit 99 cents/lb., and the veggies 79 cents/lb.... so my receipt says saved $22 due to store specials.

Alright, I am too lazy to take or upload photos now.  So just use your imaginations if you want to see the food.  I gotta go study.  Goodnight :)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Weekly Menu

Hello!

You will see some repeats from last week because we ended up traveling over part of the weekend... I did get some eggs from pastured chickens at the farmer's market with my mom, for a great price of $2.50/dozen.

Breakfasts:
Eggs and Fruit
Paleo Pancakes (applesauce and almond butter version)
Apple-Chicken Sausages and Butternut Squash
Coconut Milk Smoothies
Bananas & Almond Butter

Lunches:
Hardboiled eggs
Lunchmeat and Cheese
Salmon Salad with Avocado
Apples
Carrots
Veggies Straws

Dinners:
Sunday - Meatloaf, Sweet Potatoes, Peas
Monday - Leftovers
Tuesday - Chicken & Spaghetti Squash, Salad
Wednesday - Leftovers
Thursday - Bean-less Chili
Friday - Leftovers
Saturday - Butternut Squash Soup
Sunday - Chicken & Green Bean Stir Fry with Cashews

Snacks and Treats I might make:

Crispy Walnuts and Raisins

And I'm making some paleo berry cobbler today :)  Have a good week!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Baked Sweet Potatoes



Yep, that's it.

Baked Sweet Potatoes.

In your crockpot.

I don't like making baked potatoes in the oven. I know it's technically faster than the crockpot, but I can't walk away and forget about it, I always seem to be knee-deep in a diaper change when the timer goes off, and I can't check on them while holding the baby while they are in the oven. The crockpot gives me wiggle room and also forgives my absent-mindedness and sleep-deprived goofs.

I've done this two nights in a row now, and Will LOVES it. You could rub some spices on the sweet potatoes before you put them in the crockpot, or you could just have them plain and simple like we do.

Sweet potatoes are super carby, so if you're trying to lose weight, you might want to limit your intake. If you have kiddos, they need lots of the starch and carbs, so make them every day! :-)

The Tools:

- 4 qt. crockpot

- 2 large sweet potatoes

The Process:

Wash off the sweet potatoes.

Don't dry them. You want the moisture in the crock.

Stab each sweet potato (carefully!!!) with a fork 5-6 times.

Plop them in the crockpot. Cover it.

Cook on low for 5-6 hours.

Enjoy!

Weekly Menu



Breakfasts:
Sausage and Fruit
Primal Banana Muffins
Paleo Pancakes
Hardboiled Eggs and Smoothies

Lunches (packed):
Meat and Cheese
Veggie Straws
Fruit

Lunches (home):
Clean-out-the-fridge

Dinners:
Monday - Spaghetti Squash & Meaty Marinara Sauce, Salad Greens
Tuesday - Leftovers for the family*
Wednesday - Sausage/Pepper/Pineapple Kabobs, Salad
Thursday - Leftovers
Friday - Salmon Burgers, Sweet Potatoes
Saturday - Meatloaf, Sweet Potatoes
Sunday  - Chicken & Green Bean Stir Fry with Cashews (kids' favorite)

Snacks:
Fuit and Nuts, Veggies and Dip

I found a new blog I like for paleo recipe inspiration... Health-Bent.  Some of the recipes have some sugar or sweetener which I mostly try to avoid since that is a slippery slope of me, but still a great resource for brainstorming.  I want to try the fish sticks.  I wonder if I could do them in the oven to be less messy and easier?

One fun find this past week was finding Medjool dates at Costco in the produce section.  It is easy to take the pits out, and they really work much better in blending with nuts (I used Aldi prunes in Fudge Babies before, and though they work and my kids like them, they taste very fruity).  With the dates, you don't taste them, just the sweet chocolate-ness! :)

Our Wal-Mart is so hit or miss.  I typically avoid going there, but I had to for work and so picked up a couple things for us while I was there.  Last time they didn't have any coconut milk without added sweeteners.  This time they did, for a great price of $1.29 a can, and so I bought several.


I was also happy to see spaghetti squash on sale for 69 cents/lb. at our local grocery store.  Yay for fall squash.


*Confession: It is my turn to cook for my Bible study group this week on Tuesday, and I am doing non-paleo and doing pasta (stuffed shells to be exact), salad, bread, cookies, and homemade ice cream.  (I feel bloated just writing that.) There are some things I miss making, and this is a chance to make them, especially since no one else there eats paleo.  I did do gluten-free the last time two times but decided to be a rebel this time.  I thought about doing spaghetti squash but decided they will prefer the cheesy shells.  I hope my stomach doesn't hurt after dinner.  Well, I kinda hope it does (it probably will) so I will be deterred from wanting any more in the future.  I haven't had an all out pasta meal since starting paleo last spring.

Hope everyone has a great week!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Philly Not-So-Cheesysteak Not-So-Sandwichy


There's a handful of different chains that all have their take on this classic: some sort of cut of beef, some veggies and some sort of cured ham on a toasted roll with a ton of cheese.

I love these sandwiches. I miss them.

But what's the best part of those, anyway? The perfectly seasoned meat and vegetable filling, of course.

And THAT is certainly paleo-friendly.

And super easy to make in your crockpot.

The Tools:

- 6 qt. crockpot

- 2 lbs ground beef
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 green pepper, chopped
- 1 red pepper, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 cup mushrooms
- 1 t black pepper
- 1 t cumin
- 1/2 t oregano
- sprinkle of red pepper flakes
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1/2 lb pepperoni or salami, cut into bite-sized pieces

The Process:
(serves 6)

Brown the beef with the spices, then dump in the crockpot.

Add the chopped veggies and cured pork product, mix it all together well and let it cook for 4-5 hours on low.

Serve plain, or in lettuce wraps. This would also rock in an egg scramble, if you have leftovers for breakfast the next day. Add black olives, hot peppers or some hot sauce. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Weekly (Plus Some) Menu Plan


Well, I didn't finish the menu plan through this last week, so I'll catch you up on what we've had for suppers at the end of the week:

Friday - Sundried Tomato & Spinach Sausage Skillet (made this up, was a little spicy for the kids), Salad
Saturday - Braised Balsamic Chicken, Roasted Green Beans, Salad (this was yum!)
Sunday - Chicken Italiano in the Crock Pot, Roasted Green Beans, Salad

Now on to the dinner plan for this week:

Monday (Labor Day) - Sausage/Pepper/Pineapple Kabobs, Salad
Tuesday - Marvelous Meatballs in the Crock Pot, Salad
Wednesday - Leftovers from the night before
Thursday - Bean-less Chili, Carrots Sticks and Guacamole
Friday - Rosemary Chicken, Broccoli
Saturday - Cashew Chicken
Sunday - Uh... Leftovers?

Packed lunch ideas for the kidinkydinks:
(preschool/fall work schedule starts this week!)
Cubed Chicken (cooked in homemade Italian dressing keeps it moist and flavorful)
Cheese Chunks
Veggie Straws (a compromise)
Fresh fruit: Bananas, Grapes, Cantaloupe, Apples

I like to pack them like homemade Lunchables, using these Ziploc containers.

And on those non-NON-nut days (due to preschool restrictions)... sub in some apples and almond butter, crispy nut trail mix, some homemade Larabars, or some carrots and walnut red pepper dip.

The adults get a mixture of all of the above, as well :)

And still going backwards: breakfasts.

Turkey Sausage (add onion) & Sweet Potato Hash Browns (pre-make these, then heat together the desired amount in a skillet with some butter or coconut oil at breakfast time)
Blueberry Crumble
Muffins
Eggs and Fruit
Smoothies

I doubt we will use all of these ideas, so we will save whatever ideas we don't use for the next week.

OK, enough details for ya? ;)  Seriously, I'd feel lost without this and would waste so much time thinking about it if I didn't write it down and get it out of my head.  Next week, I'll try to go in order.

Happy Labor Day weekend!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Thai Chicken Green Curry


Curries are wonderful for the crockpot, because the slow cooking allows the flavors to meld together so well.

Curries also rock for paleo cooking, since they're basically just a bunch of veggies with protein, coconut milk and spices. Perfect.

If you like a milder green curry, you'll love this dish. It's mild enough to serve to kiddos if you're looking for a family-friendly meal. And if you're like me and you need to have everything super spicy, you'll love it too, once you dump a bunch of Thai chili paste in there with it.

The Tools:

- 6 qt. crockpot

- 1 1/2 T green curry paste
- 1/4 cup chicken broth
- 1 14 oz can coconut milk
- 3 T fish sauce
- 2 T agave nectar
- 2 lbs chicken, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1/3 cup carrot matchsticks (see note and photo below for further instructions)
- 1 cup mushrooms, chopped
- 2 cups cauliflower florets, chopped

The Process: (serves 4)

Mix together first 5 ingredients in your crockpot to get your curry base.

Add the rest of the ingredients, mix them up and plug your crock in (you would think this would be a no-brainer, but I've actually forgotten to plug my crock in on multiple occassions...) and cook it on low for 6-7 hours. Be sure the chicken is cooked through, and enjoy! If I had been thinking, I would have steamed the green beans or broccoli I got from our CSA and served this curry over them, but of course, I wasn't thinking. It's been a weird day.

At least I managed to connect the fork and my mouth. :-)

Note: To make the carrot matchsticks, I found it was easiest to first cut the carrot into baby carrot-sized pieces, then cut them in half length-wise, and THEN chop them (carefully!!) into the matchstick pieces, as shown below.

Affordable Stainless Steel Cookware

Wanna see my new pots 'n' pans?

Here they are!


I've been wanting some new stainless steel cookware for awhile and finally just bit the bullet, using some of my birthday money.  I read about these a long time ago on Passionate Homemaking and judging from the reviews on Amazon, they seemed like a good deal.  When I saw the set for $112 ($400 full price) I decided to go for it.  So far (just 3 weeks in), I am very pleased.

I am still hanging onto my flat non-stick griddle pan for pancake making, etc.