Sunday, October 30, 2011

Weekly Menu

We were almost out of meat, eggs, and fresh produce yesterday.  Kind of a problem when you are eating paleo.  So, after picking up our monthly beef order late in the afternoon, I sucked it up and went to Costco and Aldi on a Saturday evening with the kids.  We had a snack of Trader Joe's banana chips (latest indulgence) in the car, so everyone was pretty happy (amazingly) until we got home and heated up some leftover beef stew.  All that is to say that it went surprisingly well when it very easily could have been a disaster.

I doubt it is shocking to anyone to say that the next two months will be pricey for us.  Many once a year expenses on top of the holidays.  Not that we spend a ton on the holidays, but we do spend some extra.  So, I will be trying to keep the grocery spending in check as much as I can without going insane to try to leave some additional money in the monthly budget.

This week...

turkey sausage and sweet potato hash x3
egg cupcakes x2
berry cobbler (I tried this with apple last week and it does not work.  Much better with berries!)

Lunches (packed):
salami & cheese
veggie straws
pistachios or fruit leather for a treat on those non-nut days

sausage/pineapple/bell pepper stir fry
fish taco salad
chicken tortilla soup (no beans/corn/tortillas, add extra veggies) x2
marvelous meatballs & green beans x2
salmon burgers and oven sweet potatoes fries
balsamic chicken & broccoli

--carrots and ranch or salad greens with dressing as a side with dinners--

With the craziness of fall, I have not been doing as well on my workouts, but at least trying to get in a good one with some sprinting the weekend and a few other shorter ones throughout the week.  It is crazy how I used to feel soooooo out of shape if I didn't run 4+ times a week and now I am totally OK with it, and feel better than I did when I was into running that much.  Did the "filthy fifty" today.  On of my favs.  Pick 10 exercises (squats, push-ups, tuck jumps, toes to bar, etc.).  Do 50 reps of each for a total of 500.  What is your favorite workout?

It is just about the time of year (typically November) that my hand and foot joint irritation flares up with the change in weather.  This is motivation to stick to the paleo plan to see if it helps!  I'll let you know.

Happy Halloween and have a good week!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Maple Cranberry Apple Chicken with Sweet Potatoes

I need to do dishes, obviously.

OK, so I don't know what happened, and I don't know exactly who to blame, but it appears that someone, SOMEONE, canceled fall.  It snowed yesterday.  Like the actual fluffy white stuff.

I don't dislike winter too terribly, but I was so enjoying our lovely fall weather.

So I'm in denial.  And I made the most fall flavored dish I possibly could out of a combination of denial and protest.

And it's very tasty, if I do say so myself.

The Tools:

- 6 qt. crockpot

- 1 lb. chicken thighs (boneless and skinless work best in the crockpot)
- 1 medium white onion
- 2 medium sweet potatoes
- 2 medium apples
- 3/4 cup fresh cranberries
- 2 T olive oil
- 3 t maple syrup
- 1 t pumpkin pie spice
- extra dash nutmeg
- dash salt
- dash pepper

The Process:

Coat the bottom of the crock with the olive oil.

Plop your chicken on top of it.

Add the maple syrup and spices to the crock.

Peel the sweet potatoes and apples and chop them into bite-sized pieces.  Chop the onion.

Add the sweet potato, apple, onion and cranberries to the crockpot.  Cook on LOW for 4-5 hours, and then using a large spoon, mix well.  Continue cooking on low for another 30 minutes or until the chicken is completely cooked.

There will be quite a bit of liquid from the cooking in the crockpot.  It's your choice: eat it or don't eat it.  Either way will be quite tasty!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pumpkin Soup Stock

Yes, you read the title correctly.  I want you to make soup stock out of the pumpkin skin and guts!
I'm a big believer in using every part of a whole chicken when I get it.  I cook the organs and blend them into soups with the skin.  I make stock out of the bones.  We eat every tiny little piece.  And we do this with all the meat we get.  So when I was making lamb stock the other night after I roasted a leg of lamb, I happened to also be roasting a pumpkin, and I thought to myself: why not try to make a stock from all the pumpkin leftovers I had smeared across the counter?

So I did.  And it's bubbling away in a batch of Pumpkin Cranberry Apple Soup right now.

This is a great way to add a different flavor to your soups while also saving money AND managing to find yet another use for the food you already have in the house.  Huzzah!

The Tools:

- 2 qt. crockpot (or whatever size you want - depends how much stock you want and how flavorful you want it to be)

- Guts, skin and general leftovers from a pumpkin after the seeds have been picked out

The Process:

After you've gotten the roasted flesh scraped out of your pumpkin and picked the seeds out for roasting, dump the rest of the guts and skin in a crockpot and fill it full of water.

Cook on low for 8-10 hours.  I let mine bubble away overnight, and by morning it was perfect and ready to go into today's soup!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Butter Honey Roasted Walnuts

You know that smell from the pushcarts that roast nuts out at carnivals and fairs?

That's how my entire house smells right now.

This recipe does use butter, and in my opinion, it's pretty essential.  If you're totally strict Paleo and can't do butter, I'm sorry and I hope you don't live downwind of me.

The Tools:

- 2 qt. crockpot

- 3 T grassfed butter
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 t vanilla extract
- 1/2 t pumpkin pie spice (or combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger to taste)
- 2 heaping cup of raw walnuts

The Process:

Plop the butter in the crock, cover and turn on HIGH until the butter melts.  It should only take a few minutes.

Add the honey, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice to the melted butter and mix well.  Pour the walnuts in the mixture and using a big spoon, toss them until they are coated as evenly as possible.

Cook them on HIGH for another 1-2 hours, BUT make sure you're around.  This is a recipe that you'll need to break the "never take the lid off during cooking" rule.  You need to stir the walnuts around every 30 minutes or so to prevent the ones on the bottom from burning.

I cooked mine on HIGH for about 1 1/2 hours, and they were perfectly done.  If you don't eat them all right away (which if you're like me, you probably will) be sure to store them in an airtight container in the fridge.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Plan or Lack Of

Hi!  I think we will just used some of the things from last week that we haven't made yet as our "menu plan" for this week, like the beef stew, paleo chicken pot pie, maybe some nitrate-free hot dogs and sweet potatoes, and perhaps a (non-paleo) take & bake pizza as a treat.  Gotta run!  Have a good week!

Pumpkin Turkey Chili

My Dad was at the supermarket recently, and attached to one of the coupon booklets by the front door was a recipe for Pumpkin Turkey Chili.  Thinking it would be something I might want to try, he grabbed it for me.

I had to really paleo-ify the recipe, but the idea for it still came from a Baker's Supermarket circular in Omaha, Nebraska.  Just goes to show you that inspiration for fantastic paleo meals can come from unlikely sources!  I would never have thought that pumpkin puree and diced tomatoes could taste so good together, but they do.

This is a creamy, hearty chili full of flavor.  I'm totally making this again, probably with shredded turkey post-Thanksgiving.

The Tools:

- 4 qt. crockpot

- 14.5 oz can pure pumpkin puree
- 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
- 2 bell peppers (I used one green and one red, but any color combination would work)
- 1 medium sized onion
- 3-4 cloves garlic
- 1 lb. ground turkey
- 1 1/2 T chili powder (or more to taste)
- 1/2 t black pepper
- dash cumin
- dash salt
- 1/2 cup water

The Process:

Toss some olive oil in a saute pan and brown the ground turkey.

While it's slowly browning, chop up the bell peppers, onion and garlic.  When the turkey is mostly browned, add the veggies to the pan and cook for 5-7 minutes until they've softened.

Dump the turkey and veggies in the crockpot.  Add the remaining ingredients to the crockpot.

Let it cook on low for 5-6 hours.  Sprinkle some cheese on top if you so desire, or stir in some more chili powder for an extra kick.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Paleo Crockpot Brownie-In-A-Mug!

Today was most definitely a brownie kind of day.

It was raining.  The baby woke up - most definitely - on the wrong side of the crib.  She was fussy and cranky and crying and I couldn't fix it.  

(Not even with BACON for breakfast.)

So it's been a long, rainy day and I decided I needed to make me some brownies.  Some paleo brownies, of course.  And in my crockpot.

I've been a little soup-crazed these past few weeks, so most of my Pyrex is currently full of soup in the freezer.  I would normally bake in those in the crockpot.  So that's when I turned to the Googler and found this awesome brownie-in-a-mug concept.  (You could also use jars, but I liked the idea of having a handle on my brownie-delivery-vehicle.)

This is an awesome dessert, and the recipe, which I adapted from another adaption (see link below), is an absolute winner.  My version below will make two or three mugfulls, so double (or triple - I won't tell) to your hearts content.

The Tools:

- 4 qt. crockpot
- 2 - 3 mugs (the kind you got from your realtor that you really don't care about)

- 1/2 cup almond butter
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/8 cup cocoa powder
- 1 t vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- dash salt
- 1/4 t baking soda
- dash pumpkin pie spice
- dash ground ginger (optional - use if you like an extra spicy kick to your brownie)

The Process:

Tell yourself you deserve a lovely paleo chocolate brownie.  You totally do.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  

Grease your mugs with some coconut oil, so your brownie doesn't get stuck all over the sides of the mug.

Pour even amounts of the batter in your mugs, and set them inside your crockpot.  Don't fill the mugs any more than about halfway full; the batter will REALLY rise and bubble over if you fill the mugs too full.

Cook on HIGH for somewhere between 1 hour and 15 minutes and 1 hour and 45 minutes.  It will depend on how fast your crockpot cooks and how gooey (or cakey) you like your brownies.  We like our brownies a bit gooier (is that a word?) and so I cooked it for right at 1 hour and 20 minutes.  A knife was mostly clean when I inserted it.

When they are done, turn your crockpot off, take the lid off and just let them cool.

If you can't wait until your mug is cool, carefully dig out your brownie with a spoon and eat it.  But I wouldn't know anything about people who are impatient brownie-eaters....


Monday, October 17, 2011

Paleo Pumpkin Butter!

A perfect paleo toddler snack!

I've been seeing jars of pumpkin butter on the shelves at various grocery stores, and have been thinking I should give it a try in the pot that is a crock.

This was ridiculously easy, and tastes so incredibly yummy.  If you're looking for a nice homemade gift for the holidays, look no further!

The Tools:

- 2 qt. crockpot

- 1 can (15 oz) pure pumpkin (you could also use 15 oz. fresh pumpkin puree)
- 1/3 cup apple cider (then go make Mulled Apple Cider with the rest of it!)
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 heaping tsp. pumpkin pie spice

The Process:

Mix everything together well in your tiny crockpot.

Cook on low for 4 hours.  It will still be liquid-y and runny when it's technically done, but it firms up when you cool it down in the fridge.

Store it in the refrigerator and enjoy with apples, on cold chicken leftovers, on top of cooked squash or just straight on a spoon!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Weekly Menu

... Paleo Suppers...

Do you say "dinner" or "supper" for your evening meal?  I use them interchangeably.

I don't know what we'll have when, yet.  But assuming I get to the stores (Costco & Aldi), this plan should last us through the weekend, at least.

And, of course, since I can never follow a recipe exactly, I'm sure I will tweak these based on what we like/what I have on hand.

Here are the ideas.  I basically just went here and browsed until I came up with enough dinners ideas.  Thanks, guys.  They have some unique/ethnic/fancy-in-my-book/gourmet type stuff that my family may not like OR would just be too much work for me, so I tried to pick out some of the simpler/more regular recipes.

Paleo Chicken Pot Pie
Paleo Orange Chicken & Broccoli
Meatza (make a standard, non-Tex-Mex version)
Bean-less Chili
Primal Chili Cheese Dogs
Beef Stew (if I am feeling confident that I won't ruin the meat)

I will let you know how they turn out!

Speaking of turning out, yesterday I made some homemade Italian sausage to go in the red pepper sauce with our spaghetti squash.  I did it just like the breakfast sausage I make, just with different seasonings.  Browned some ground turkey.  I dumped in a bunch of Italian seasoning, some dried onion, some garlic powder, and some salt.  I didn't have any fennel or I would have added that, too.  It wasn't spicy or super flavorful (I'd rate it as quite mild Italian sausage), but my kids liked it and that's the most important thing.

Have a great week!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Spiced Sweet Potato, Pork & Apple Cider Stew

I had an idea for a stew like this awhile back when the fall vegetables really started coming in and we got apple cider in the produce CSA haul one week, but I originally thought I would use chicken.

Pork was SO MUCH BETTER.  I don't know why I don't cook with more pork more often.  It's awesome.

This stew takes about twenty minutes to throw together, and it's savory and sweet all at the same time.  Because I could only have eight ingredients (except the pork and "pantry staples" such as salt, etc.) I creatively made do with poultry seasoning and pumpkin pie spice.  The vanilla and apple cider vinegar play well with each other, and round out the stew well with great depth of flavor.

And, like most stews, it tastes even better the next day.

The Tools:

2 medium sweet potatoes
1 large Granny Smith apple
1 cup red onion
1 lb pork chops, thawed
3 cups apple cider
1 cup water
1 T poultry seasoning
1 t pumpkin pie spice 
1/2 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
1 T apple cider vinegar
1 t vanilla extract

The Process:

Peel and chop the sweet potatoes and apple into bite-sized pieces.  Dump them into the crockpot.  Chop enough of a red onion to fill your measuring cup, and then plop the onion in the crock as well.

Definitely remember to wash your hands now.  (And definitely DON'T scratch your eye and then flail around the kitchen doing that oh-crud-I-got-onion-in-my-eye squealy dance.)

Using a pair of sharp kitchen scissors, cut the pork chops into bite-sized pieces and place them in the crockpot.

Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.  Cover and cook on LOW for 6 hours.

Weekend Ramblings

Who wants to tell me what to cook next week?  I am feeling uninspired.  I got behind on sleep last week (through no fault but my own) and then never got caught up.  I am thankful for a little bit of a restful weekend to keep me sane....

I know there are lots of paleo/primal stories out there, and I read some every week, but this one in particular moved me (to tears! -not common for me).  I guess because it shows you don't have to give up on life as you age.  I know that before we went paleo, I didn't feel like there was anything wrong with my health.  But I still experienced such a renewed sense of vitality and energy, that I don't want to go back!  It is one of those things you may not appreciate until you do it.  I think that is why paleo people are so eager to share the lifestyle with others.

I guess I better figure out something for us to eat this week :)  But a bigger goal will be no computer time after 9pm, unless I'm listening to a podcast as I fold laundry.  Or watching a movie with my husband.  But we have to start it by 8:30.  Wait, that is too many freaking rules.  I don't think there is going to be time for a movie this week, anyways.  How about just go to bed by 10pm?  That will be huge.

P.S. Any meal ideas are welcome.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

(Kid Friendly) Curried Butternut Squash, Apple & Ginger Soup

One of the best meals I've come up with in the last few months has been the Curried Sweet Potato, Apple & Ginger Soup.  Will LOVED it.  He's still talking about it.

So when I volunteered to bring dinner to a family that just adopted their seventh (yes, that's right - seventh) child, I thought I would make them something like this.  But it needed to be a bit more kid friendly, so I made some modifications.  Butternut squash instead of sweet potato, less curry powder, no cumin, add cinnamon and nutmeg, an additional apple.

It's still very tasty and hearty, but it's definitely a bit lighter and sweeter.  It's very velvety and creamy.

Will loved this recipe, too.  I don't think I can go wrong when it comes to fall foods and him, though.

The Tools:

- 6 qt. crockpot

- 1 medium to large butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 2 medium tart-ish (think Granny Smith) apples, peeled and cubed
- 1 small white onion, chopped into small chunks
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 1 t curry powder
- 1/2 t cinnamon
- 1/4 t nutmeg
- 1 t sea salt
- dash black pepper
- 1 T ground ginger (I was out of fresh, but it would work just as well - use a bit more than a T of fresh)
- 1 14.5 oz can coconut milk

The Process:

Combine everything except the coconut milk in the crockpot, and mix somewhat thoroughly.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Using an immersion blender (or CAREFULLY in batches in a regular blender,) blend until smooth.

Add the coconut milk, blend once more and serve.  All sorts of garnishes would be fun here: cilantro, roasted butternut squash seeds, a dash of cinnamon... etc.


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Weekly Menu

The banana bread was a hit last week, but making just 2 recipes used up my entire large $6 jar of almond butter from Costco, just fyi.  Here's the plan for this go 'round... looks to be another busy week here!

Eggs and Turkey Sausage, Bananas
Blueberry Cobbler with Raw Milk

Chicken Fingers (trying out this breading)
Carrots and Homemade Ranch (no mayo, up the sour cream and seasonings)

Monday - Meatloaf, Salad with Italian Dressing
Tuesday - Leftovers
Wednesday - Nitrate-free Hot Dogs & Homemade Sweet Potato Oven Fries
Thursday - Chicken & Green Bean Stir Fry with Cashews
Friday - Paleo Fish Sticks, Peas
Saturday - Spaghetti Squash with Italian Sausage (maybe homemade?  will let you know) and Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Sunday - Leftovers

Hope you have a good week!

Primal Pancakes

So, I wanted pancakes this morning, but only had 3 eggs and had 3 mouths to feed. I took this recipe, improvised a little, and the results were pleasant!

(A note: I've never purchased almond flour, I just attempt to make my own in the food processor. It is probably more like a fine almond meal than a true flour, but it works.)

  • 1 ½ c almond flour
  • ½ c raw milk (more if needed to thin)
  • 1 generous splash maple syrup
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 3 eggs
  • 2-3 T coconut oil (totally guessing here, I just scooped 2 heaping Tablespoons worth)
  • butter for cooking
Blend all the ingredients in your blender or food processor. Set griddle to medium heat and melt some of your butter. Ladle the batter into whatever size you’d like. Once tiny, little bubbles form around the edges of the pancake, it’s ready to flip.  Re-grease your griddle with butter between batches.

I found these pancakes to be suprisingly light for a nut-based pancake.  My kids and I are weird, we eat them plain, with bananas on the side and milk to drink.

I had a few leftovers in the fridge, so I took picture just for you.  The butter, cinnamon, and vanilla make the house smell yummy!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Mulled Apple Cider

 It looks like Halloween to me, because the star anise looks like a spider!

My awesome friend Nora from NYC took the bus after work to Boston tonight.  I'm escaping to Vermont for the weekend with her, and I'm really excited.  We're going apple picking and Nora's found all these awesome fall festival-type events for us to check out, and it's also THE FIRST TIME I will be away from the baby for the night.  In fifteen months.

I will probably be really sad, but I'm also looking forward to 36 hours of freedom.

Anyways, her bus gets in at like, oh-dark-hundred tonight, so I made some mulled apple cider and it'll be waiting for us in the crockpot when she finally gets here.

And then we're off to Vermont for the weekend come morning!  I think it's safe to say that there will be lots of apple-themed crockpot dishes on here in the coming week.

The Tools:

- 2 qt crockpot

- 4 cups apple cider (we got ours at the farmer's market last week!!)
- 8 whole cloves
- 1 whole star anise (I just bought these and they are SO COOL)
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 medium orange, peeled and pulled into segments

The Process:

Put all the ingredients in the crockpot.

Let it sit on low for 3-4 hours.

Serve garnished with an orange slice.  Enjoy!

Paleo Crockpot Italian Sausage and Peppers

We got these amazing Hot Italian Sausages from our Meat CSA this month, and I instantly thought to myself:  Sausage and Peppers.  A paleo version.  CrockPot.  DO IT.

My pepper plant looks like it will yield about one more pepper, and then it will be done.  The grocery stores will start shipping them in again from other areas of the country, but before that happens, make sure to cook with some local peppers just one last time!

This is a great meal, and there's enough liquid that it's almost a little soupy.  It was delicious on a cool fall evening.

The Tools:

- 6 qt crockpot

- 1 T olive oil
- 1 1/2 lbs. Italian sausage (mine was HOT)
- 2 onions, chopped
- 3 bell peppers (I had one of each: yellow, orange, red)
- 4-5 cloves of garlic, finely minced
- 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes
- 1/2 t red pepper flakes
- 1 t salt

The Process:

Pour the olive oil in a saute pan, and slowly brown the sausage on both sides.  I let mine go for awhile; it wasn't totally cooked through, but that's okay.  Place it on a plate and let it cool.

Chop up all of the bell peppers and onions, and put them in the pan.  I took a picture because it was just oh-so-pretty.

When they're almost cooked, add the minced garlic.  Let cook for a minute or two longer and then transfer everything to the crockpot.

Once the sausage has cooled, chop it up into bite-sized pieces and dump them in the crockpot with the veggies.

Add the rest of the ingredients.  Mix well and walk away.  (After you've turned the crockpot on low, of course.  And plugged it in.  You laugh, but I've done this.  More than once.)

Let it cook on low for 4-5 hours.

You're welcome.

Honey Dijon Glazed Salmon

Why salmon?

It was time for a break from soup.

I got an email from a fried recently who discovered, thanks to this blog, that you can cook FISH IN THE CROCKPOT! Why, yes! You most certainly can!

And I did. And so should you. Because unlike other dishes, fish the crockpot is really easy, and only needs about two hours to cook. So if you have a crazy busy morning one day and won't be able to cook until the mid-afternoon, as long as your salmon has thawed out in the fridge overnight, you're good to go.

It doesn't hurt that it's super tasty, very moist, not oily and leaves virtually no mess in the crock.

The Tools:

- 6 qt crockpot
- 1 parchment paper packet

- 2 filets of salmon, thawed
- 3 T honey
- 2 T olive oil
- 1 t Dijon mustard
- 1 t ground ginger (I was out of fresh, but you could use fresh if you want - just use a bit more)
- several dashes of crushed red pepper flakes, to taste

The Process:

Rinse the salmon off and place aside.

Mix the remaining ingredients together until you have a nice thick glaze.

(I know, I know. I cheated. A glaze should really be reduced on the stove. But I had to go pick up my produce CSA and we had ballet in the morning and I was having too much fun cooking with the baby in the play kitchen. So I cut that corner and just made the "glaze" thicker so I didn't have to reduce it. And you know what? It was still very tasty.)

Cover the salmon with your glaze, and slide into parchment paper packet.

For pictures that show you the best way I've found to do this, check out this post.

Cook on low for about 2 hours.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Paleo Garlicky Tomato Puree

Tomato season is almost gone.

I would be sadder about this if it weren't for apple and butternut squash season.

I got these beautiful heirloom tomatoes from my produce CSA share last week, and it just was a little too cold outside to make my normal gazpacho. As usual, I had a lot of garlic in the house, so I figured I would try my hand at a garlic-infused tomato puree.

My hand was quite good at this, if I do say so myself.

The Tools:

- 2 qt. crockpot

- 3 medium sized heirloom tomatoes
- 8-10 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 small white onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 t sea salt
- dash balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup green pepper
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro

The Process:

Chop up your tomatoes, and then plop them in your crockpot. Using an immersion blender (you really need to get one if you don't have one already!) blend the tomatoes until you have a nice liquid.

After you've minced the garlic and chopped the onions, heat a bit of oil in a pan and saute the onions until they are translucent. Add the garlic and let it simmer for no more than 60 seconds -- you don't want the garlic to burn, you just want the flavor to come out a bit.

Add them to the crockpot. And then add the rest of the ingredients.

Using that oh-so-necessary immersion blender, blend until smooth.

Let it simmer on low for 3-4 hours, stirring every now and then, and serve garnished with more cilantro. I love how the crockpot lets flavors meld together so nicely. The garlic was pronounced, but not overpowering. This was a very solid fall soup.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Cinnamon Spiced Pumpkin & Apple Soup

It was raining today.

And Will took the car and was gone from 5 AM until almost 9 PM.

And I had some homemade chicken stock that needed to be used up.

So I rummaged through my cabinets and the fridge to see what else I could use, keeping in mind that we've had quite a few curries lately and I should probably give the cumin a break.

The result was this light and sweet paleo soup. We liked it, and I think I will have the leftovers in a mug for an afternoon snack tomorrow. I did secretly miss all my curry spices and powders, though. I just really like all of my food burning-spicy hot.

(I think Will was thankful for the break!)

The Tools:

- 4 qt crockpot

- 1 can (14.5 oz) pumpkin puree
- 1 onion
- 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
- 1 large golden delicious (or other sweet-tangy) apple, peeled and chopped
- 2 T minced fresh ginger
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1/2 t cinannmon
- 1/4 t nutmeg
- 1/4 t cloves

The Process:

Plop some olive oil in a pan and saute the onion for a few minutes until it's somewhat translucent.

Add the rest of the ingredients to the crockpot and mix well.

Cook on low for 4-5 hours. Using an immersion blender, carefully blend the soup until it's creamy. (If you don't have an immersion blender, send an email to your mom and let her know that's what you want this year for the holidays. Because they are AWESOME. And then carefully blend it in batches using lots of hot pads and oven mitts in your blender.)

I let mine sit on warm for several more hours until Will finally got home, and then I served it garnished with pumpkin seeds, because I'm super creative like that.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Butternut Squash and Cashew Curry

More fall foods!

I'll just give you a nice heads up: if you don't like squash, sweet potato or apple, you best just stop visiting this blog until at least December.

This was a great curry. Just a bit of spice, but the sweetness from the butternut squash really rounded it out nicely. I would imagine that getting kids to eat it wouldn't be too tough, though the baby only had sausage and cantaloupe for dinner tonight. And a pear. She carried it around the living room (because she's walking now) and munched on it like a big person.

I sort of got teary eyed.

The Tools:

- 6 qt. crockpot

- Medium to Large (ish) Butternut Squash, cubed
- 1 medium red onion, chopped into smaller chunks
- 1 cup whole raw cashews
- 1 can (14.5 oz) coconut milk
- 1 T curry powder
- 1/2 t cumin
- 1/2 t red chili paste
- 1 T ginger, freshly grated
- 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
- juice of one lime
- pinch of black pepper

The Process:

Give yourself some time to peel and cube the butternut squash; it usually takes me about 10 minutes start to finish. (And be careful!)

Make your curry sauce first: put the coconut milk in the crockpot and add the garlic, ginger, lime and spices. Mix well.

Add the chopped onion to the mix and then dump the butternut squash over the top. You'll want to sort of mix the butternut squash in with your curry sauce, but don't worry about getting it totally sauced up.

Let your veggies steam away on low for 5-6 hours. Longer probably wouldn't hurt, but eventually the butternut squash will just become really squashy and will be a lot more like soup as opposed to a curry.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Weekly Menu

Here is the plan for the week...

Blueberry Cobbler with Raw Milk
Turkey Sausage & Eggs
Paleo Banana Bread

Packed Lunch Options:
Turkey Breast & Tillamook Cheddar
Hardboiled Eggs
Veggie Chips for the kids
Homemade Larabars
Fruit Leather

Monday - Bean-less Chili, toppings
Tuesday - Leftovers
Wednesday - Salmon and Avocado Salad
Thursday - Braised Balsamic Chicken, Spaghetti Squash, Salad with Dressing
Friday - Leftovers
Saturday - Hamburger Vegetable Soup, made paleo-friendly (didn't have it this past week; made chicken taco salad, instead)
Sunday - Leftovers

For fun:
Maple Pumpkin Custard, anyone?
Also, I never made the Primal Fudge last week!

Baking season is about here... how will I handle it this year?  This is my first fall and holiday season being paleo.  Any advice is welcome.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Curried Sweet Potato, Apple & Ginger Soup

Have I mentioned lately how gosh darn happy we are that fall is finally here?

It's that magical time of the year where squash and pumpkin and sweet potatoes are plentiful. And apples. Lots and lots of apples.

I made this soup. AND IT WAS AWESOME. It will absolutely be made again.

AND! Here's the compliment of the week! Will said it was one of his most favorite meals that I have EVER made him. And considering I've been cooking for him basically every day for the last 3+ years (since he doesn't cook at all, really) that really means something.

The Tools:

- 4 qt. crockpot (or 6 qt. would work, too - soup is more forgiving)

- 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 medium white onion, diced
- 1 large golden delicious apple, peeled and cut into chunks
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 T ginger, grated
- 1 T curry powder
- 1/2 t red chili paste
- juice of one lime
- 2 T cilantro, chopped
- 1 14.5 oz can coconut milk

The Process:

Put everything except the cilantro and coconut milk in the crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours. The vegetables should be tender.

NOTE: There will NOT be enough liquid to cover all of the vegetables. That's okay. Just keep the lid on tight and the veggies not covered in chicken broth will be steamed and cook just fine.

After the veggies are all cooked, using an immersion blender, carefully blend the soup until it's smooth. (If you don't have an immersion blender, carefully blend in batches with lots of hot pads and oven mitts so you don't burn yourself.)

Add the coconut milk; blend until it's all creamy and wonderful.

Have your one year old "help" sprinkle the cilantro over the soup and serve it and eat it and make lots of "yummy smacking" noises so the baby giggles.

Happy Fall!!

Shopping Paleo at Costco

It seems to me that shopping at Costco is convenient and saves money when cooking paleo-style for our family.  The other place that I frequently shop is Aldi.  Though if you don't have Aldi, Trader Joe's might be the next best option, just slightly pricier.  This is what seems to work for our family.  Your experiences may vary, though, depending on where you live, among other things.

My Costco list yesterday:
  • lunchmeat: roasted turkey breast (Ugh, I only recently started buying lunchmeat, and this is not 100% paleo - it says browned in vegetable oil, but I need something when packing approximately 15 lunches a week.  Same with the cheese.)
  • cheddar (I buy Tillamook so I know it is not from cows given growth hormone.)
  • sour cream (Once again, not 100% paleo, but this Daisy brand is good quality and it helps the kids eat their chili.  I also like to make ranch dip out of it for the kids.  Ingredients: cultured cream.)
  • organic salad greens (Can't beat the price and lasts for several meals.  My 2 year old suddenly loves salads.)
  • Medjool dates (These are awesome for making Larabars/Fudge Babies.  Removing the pits is easy.  I noticed that Aldi has some unsweetened dates as a seasonal item in the baking section.  They might be cheaper and worth a shot, too!)
  • frozen strawberries (for smoothies)
  • frozen blueberries (for smoothies and cobblers)
  • almond butter (Essential for almost any paleo baking.  Also great with apples!)
  • raw almonds (Use for Larabars/Fudge Babies or grind up into almond meal or flour for baking. Best price around.)
  • pistachios (A treat; kinda expensive, but good for a quick snack.  We all love these.)
  • organic lemon juice (Not sure what all we use this for, but we go through it surprisingly fast.)
  • organic eggs (Not the greatest, but I happily realized that they are omega-3 enriched, and also since they are organic, that means the hens are not fed GMO soy.)
Total: $105, including freaking nearly 10% tax

Is there anything on this list that I could buy better quality for less money?  I don't think so, at least not in this area, based on my experiences.  That is why I continue shopping at Costco.  But you have to be vigilant, there is just so much that could lure you in.  What's your experience?

I didn't buy meat since typically, all our ground beef comes from a local, grass-feeding source.  Whole chickens come from the farm.  (As does our raw milk.)  Chicken breasts usually come from sales at our local grocery store or a bag from Aldi.  To add in some variety, I sometimes buy specialty sausages from the Costco deli case, but I didn't today.

Later in the weekend or at the start of the week I will swing by our hometown grocery store for some squash that are on sale.  I also plan to go to Aldi for some other odds and ends.  Planning ahead is a must, and it is worth it!  Time to write out the menu now!

For more of my paleo grocery shopping documentation, go here.