Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Weekly Menu

So, we didn't get to go snowshoeing up a mountain due to avalanche risk, so we hit the ski slopes, instead.  We visited with relatives.  Flew on jet planes and met cool people.  Ate paleo meals about 2/3 of the time, which I am pretty proud about.  It was a fun weekend.


Now, the madness continues.  Here is the abbreviated menu plan for the rest of the week.

Breakfasts:
bananas

Lunches:
dinner leftovers
carrots and guacamole
celery and pumpkin cream cheese dip
almonds and raisins

Dinners:
shawarma chicken, asparagus
"creamy" chicken tomato soup (repeat from last week)
arm roast, sauteed mushrooms, roasted broccoli
stuffed peppers
meaty marinara sauce over zucchini noodles

Aldi has been having stellar produce sales lately... I went today since we had *no* food in the house, but I may go again over the weekend since new sales start Wednesday.

Enjoy!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Alive

Hi there.  We just returned from a wild (fun) weekend.  The menu plan will be posted; it will just be a little late (not on Monday).  Hope you are having a good start to the week!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Super Lazy BBQ Pulled Pork

 
We all have those mornings where there's no time for dinner food prep.  You have to bust out a decent breakfast, get the family ready and run out the door.  Matching socks are optional.

Those are the days where I do my Super Lazy BBQ Pulled Pork for dinner.  It takes about 2 minutes to assemble in the crockpot.

The toddler was happily covered in BBQ sauce after smearing pork all over her face in a valiant (and successful) effort to eat her portion faster than anyone else at the table.

The Tools:

- 6 qt. crockpot.

- 2-3 lb. pork shoulder
- 2 cups (ish) BBQ sauce (There are plenty of fantastic Google-able paleo BBQ sauce recipes out there that you can make ahead of time OR I've managed to find some organic non-scary BBQ sauces in my specialty fancy-schmancy grocery stores that work really well.)

The Process:

Place pork shoulder in the crockpot.  Mine was mostly defrosted, but not totally.  As long as you cook it thoroughly, it shouldn't really matter.

Dump the BBQ sauce over it.

Cook on low for 8-10 hours.  Take two forks and pull the pork away from itself until it's in nice shreds.  I let mine soak for a few minutes longer to make sure it's all nice and sauce-y, and then it's ready to serve!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Weekly Menu



I have had a little recovery time this weekend, thank goodness.  So I am feeling a bit better.  Here's our plan for the week...


Breakfasts:
eggs and fruit
grain-free banana muffins (I use the updated version at the end.)

Lunches:
salami, pickles, and chedddar
chicken salad (chicken, almonds, grapes, a little sour cream)
carrots and guacamole
trail mix or fudge babies
apples, oranges, or grapefruit

Dinners:
crock pot roasted chicken, green beans
taco salad x2
shepherd's pie w/ sweet potatoes
"creamy" chicken tomato soup
dinner with family
out to eat

Have a great week!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Weekend Musings

I made some egg things for breakfast today which were not too bad.  Eggs, sautéed bell peppers, leftover chicken, oregano, salt, pepper, mozzarella, oregano, some milk.  Kind of just bits and pieces of leftovers.  Baked in a cupcake pan.

I am feeling like my nerves are a little fried from a crazy month here.  I hate that stressed out feeling.  I don't think I will get ahead on any of my responsibilities this weekend, but hopefully I will just keep trucking and stay healthy.  That is my goal.  Staying on the straight and narrow with my diet sure helps with that.

I swung by the usual stores today, Costco and Aldi.  Got our groceries for next week, spent right at $100, total.  I did get a convenience, non-paleo item that was on special: some teriyaki chicken which we can stir fry with some frozen broccoli.  I figure that for an alternative weekend splurge, it is cheaper and maybe still healthier than take-out?  (Edited to add: Yeah right, the teriyaki was nearly totally made of sugar.  And there was plenty of soy and some wheat in there, of course.  No wonder I had headaches the next 2 days.)

I feel like saying TGIF, but really, this is not going to be a weekend-ish weekend for me, holiday weekend and all.  I have lots of work and schoolwork to catch up on before it is over.  So, I'm going to get crackin'... So long for now :)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Paleo Crockpot Beef Bourguignon



Adapted from here and here.
It's not THE Julia Child dish, but it's really tasty and you don't have to spend an entire afternoon slaving over it.  Serve it plain or over some whipped potatoes or parsnips.
The leftovers are awesome.  This is a perfect dish to make on the weekends and nosh on all week long.
Serves 6.
The Tools:
- 6 qt. crockpot
- 2.5 lbs beef stew meat (a little more or a little less would work, too)
- 6 slices bacon
- 3 T melted butter (or olive oil, if you would prefer)
- 2-3 shallots, chopped
- 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup baby carrots (or sliced carrots)
- 1 T herbs de provence
- 1 t sea salt
- 1 t black pepper
- 1 T tomato paste
- sprinkle thyme (for a bit extra seasoning kick!)
- 2 cups red wine

The Process:
Melt your butter and plop it in the bottom of the crockpot, and swirl it around until it's coated nicely.  Then put three of the strips of bacon down on the bottom of the crock (no need to cook them.)  Add the garlic, shallots and then dump the meat on top.  Toss all of your herbs and spices in the crock with the tomato paste and shake it all up to make sure it's coated evenly.  Lay the last three pieces of bacon over it all, throw in your carrots and pour the wine over the top.
Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours.
Tip: If you so desire, you can ladle some of the juices out and reduce them on the stove with some arrowroot powder; this makes a fantastic gravy!
Tip: If you have extra time, sear the stew meat on the stove before placing in the crockpot for extra flavor.






Sunday, February 12, 2012

Weekly Menu

Happy Valentine's Day/week :)

Last week, I tried making paleo butternut squash lasagna with a few shortcuts: just using beef, jarred marinara sauce, and prepped squash.  It was OK, but I think the flavor would have been much better and savorier if I had actually followed the recipe and used the onion, red pepper, and sausage, and spices like it called for.  It also would have been better if I had not been in a rush when baking it.  The leftovers were better because the squash finally got fully cooked.

We also made our first paleo waffles that actually work (don't stick!) in the waffle maker from our pre-paleo days.  And, the recipe uses mostly eggs, some coconut flour (I just use the food processor on some dried coconut myself), and NO nuts, so that is nice for a change.  They don't really get crispy, which is what I would prefer, but that is OK.  They are pretty yummy (as long as you don't expect sweetness) when warm with fresh blueberries and bananas on top.  With our large waffle maker, making waffles is faster than making pancakes for a special weekend breakfast.

Here's the plan for this week...

Breakfasts:
eggs, roasted squash
raw milk smoothies
grain-free banana muffins

Lunches: 
chicken sausages
mozzarella cheese cubes
veggie chips (kids)
carrots w/ guacamole or celery w/ cream cheese
fruit (oranges, strawberries, blueberries, or bananas)
trail mix (pistachios, macadamias, banana chips, raisins)

Dinners:
steak, roasted asparagus
bean-less chili w/ guacamole x2
salmon burgers, peas
meatza*, roasted green beans x2
nitrate free hotdogs, roasted squash

Can you tell I like roasting vegetables?
Sometime, I want to try roasted brussels sprouts... maybe.  I don't know if I like brussels sprouts, but there is only one way to find out.

*For the meat crust/bottom layer, I use a recipe from Mark's Daily Apple (I think) which is currently undergoing maintenance.  Then, top with marinara and mozzarella.  Kind of similar to pizza meatloaf, if you've ever had that.  Speaking of pizza and cheese indulgences, I totally want to make these grilled squash/zucchini pizza slices this summer!

Find more menu plans at the Organizing Junkie... any other paleo pals over there?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Read: The Flinch by Julien Smith

Need a kick in the butt?  I like this book.  Not saying I like everything in it.  But it is a good book to read.  Super fast to read; I read it all in one sitting one evening.  It's free!  You can download a free kindle app to your PC or Mac if needed.  Go check it out on amazon!

Groceries: Shopping Paleo at Aldi, Costco, and Price Chopper

This weekend's shopping trips...


Aldi: $38 (Trying some of their conventional beef that was marked down because it was close to the sell by date.  Just a little tired of ground turkey, so got cheap beef instead.)


Costco: $37 (Also got toilet paper and dishwasher tabs that are not in the total and tires balanced and rotated.  Sometimes I include toiletries and stuff in our grocery budget, sometimes I take it from the household budget.  I usually wait till the end of the month and see.)

I plan to stop by Price Chopper spend about $12 for some steak and veggies on sale.  Later I will spend our weekly $12 on milk from the farm.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Reading + Eye Candy + Cooking Inspiration

Two cookbooks that I currently have from the library:


Paleo Comfort Foods
Paleo biscuits and gravy?  I'm impressed.

Make It Paleo
I like the photos (even the cheesy cover) and short-ingredient-list recipes.  Inspiring.  I've never been big on Greek food due to lack of exposure, but this really makes me want to get some grass-fed lamb from the local ranch and try some of the lamb recipes!  Might my favorite paleo cookbook so far, aside from the internet :)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Butternut Squash Lasanga Casserole


Ok, so I've been gone for awhile.  I'm sorry.  Paleo crockpot blogging just hasn't been at the top of my list for the last few months.

... because I've been busy being tired from being pregnant and not interested in anything other than extremely bland and super-non-blog-worthy foods.

So!  We're really psyched that baby #2 is on the way, and I'm really psyched to be feeling great in my second trimester.  I'm eating mostly Paleo, though I've stopped at all watching my fruit or sweet potato intake for carb or insulin moderation -- if I want it, I eat it!  :-)

But those pregnancy food cravings are a very real thing; I've been craving all sorts of random foods: fried chicken, lasagna, Sour Patch Kids... some I let myself have from time to time, some I talk myself out of and move on.  I will never be one of those pregnant women who harps over every morsel she puts in her mouth, but when I am having a craving, I don't totally ignore it.

Enter the latest creation!  I made this amazing recipe recently in the oven, and loved the end result.  But making this kind of meal on a daily basis right before dinner is just too much; the baby is always super cranky by that time of the day and doesn't take kindly to Mommy painstakingly slicing butternut squash into planks.

So I modified it, turned it into more of a casserole type dish, and threw it in the crockpot during naptime.  The end result will not look exactly like lasanga.  It will be sort of soupy, because the liquid won't evaporate like it does in the oven, and it will be best served in bowls.  BUT!!!  It WILL taste like lasanga!  And it will be absolutely delicious!

And that's all Will and I cared about.  We both gobbled up our bowls while watching the SuperBowl.

The Tools:

- 6 qt. crockpot

- 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed + whatever other chopped veggies you want (I threw a handful of leftover zucchini pieces I had in there as well)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 lb Hot Italian Sausage
- 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
- 1 1/2 T oregano
- 1 T basil
- 1/2 T paprika
- 1 t black pepper
- 1/2 t sea salt
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 whole roasted red pepper (mine was from a jar...)

The Process:

Cook the sausage in a skillet with the onions over low heat.

While that's simmering, toss the tomato sauce, olive oil, roasted red pepper(s) and all of the spices into a small blender or bowl and puree them together.  After the sausage is cooked through, add the tomato sauce to the skillet and let it all simmer together for a bit.  It will look heavenly.



While your sauce is simmering away, CAREFULLY peel and chop your butternut squash.

Now assemble!  Put a thin layer of the sauce on the bottom of the crockpot.  Top with cubes of butternut squash (and other veggies, if desired.) 


Repeat layers, making sure you end up with a layer of sauce on the very top.  I did three layers of sauce and two of butternut squash, and it turned out great.
Plug your crockpot in and leave it on LOW for 4 hours!

Enjoy!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Weekly Menu



Breakfasts:
eggs & fruit
grain-free pumpkin cranberry muffins
smoothies

Lunches:
roasted chicken -OR- nitrate-free hot dogs
-plus-
homemade trail mix* or fudge babies
leftover corn tortilla chips (kids)
fresh veggies with avocado salsa
fruit

Dinners:
paleo butternut squash lasagna (I'm going to make it with just 3 ingredients - details later.), green salad x2
paleo broccoli salad with roasted chicken added (may lightly steam broccoli first...) x2
paleo shepherd's pie (using mashed cauliflower)**, green salad x2
shrimp & roasted green beans

*ingredients: macadamias, pistachios, banana chips, and raisins

**We didn't get to this meal last week because I ended up making beef and veggie soup instead with a bunch of stuff I needed to use up (carrots, celery, spinach, tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, chicken stock, etc.)  And I am a little sick of sweet potatoes :) so we'll use mashed cauliflower as the topper since cauliflower is on sale at Aldi.

What's on your menu this week?

***********************************************************************************

----Possible Temptation Alert----

Sidenote (non-paleo, but related): I made some killer gluten-free cupcakes for my Bible study girls last week.  I had never made anything from a gluten-free cake mix before, so I asked my friend C for help.  At her suggestion, I added some dry pudding mix plus a little extra water to help keep them moist.  I made sure the cake batter was beat super well before baking the cupcakes for the shortest time period suggested.  After baking, I piped seedless raspberry jam into the middle and adapted a new frosting recipe for the top that was incredible.  (Thanks, Pinterest.)  Maybe it had just been a long time since I'd had cupcakes, and my expectations were really low or something.  Or maybe they were just really yummy!  Thanks, C!!  Now, I will no longer be a afraid to use gluten-free cake mix for those special occasions like birthdays and such!  Yes, the cake mix costs $5, but have you checked out the ingredients?  Yes, it obviously contains some  grains (non-wheat) and of course sugar, but the ingredient list is like 30 ingredients less than the conventional mixes which contain things I cannot pronounce.  Amazing!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Easy Paleo Appetizer

Football finger-food, anyone?

Want to convince someone that eating paleo is still tasty?

Make Rachael Ray's  Bacon Wrapped Pineapple Shrimp!

Notes:
I have not made these on skewers, although I have eaten all 3 items together (I am seriously lazy and didn't want to assemble them.)  The resulting flavor combination was delicious!  I like my bacon crispy, so if I were making these with the bacon wrapped around the shrimp & pineapple (per the instructions) I would probably partially precook my bacon ahead of time in hopes that it would reach the next level of crispy-doneness while being sautéed with the shrimp.

If you get the ingredients at Aldi (not counting toothpicks/skewers) your total should be around $10, not on sale.


I realize that the shrimp pictured above is precooked medium shrimp, not raw jumbo shrimp as called for in the recipe.  We could just pretend I like to know my shrimp is very thoroughly cooked.  Or, I could tell you that I am not making this recipe right now, but I set out these items that I happen to have to give you a visual because that's the teacher in me.

Can you tell it is my day-off and I am procrastinating on doing any housework, homework, or other work-at-home work today? TGIF!

Don't toss it; Freeze it!

Did you know...


...that if you have pre-washed spinach that is near the expiration date, you can throw it in the freezer?  Later you can add it to any dish that can use frozen spinach (crumble it in the bag while still frozen if you want "chopped" spinach!)  Or, try it in a green smoothie!

...that you can freeze avocados?  I am going to try the "safest" route and mash them up with some lemon juice before putting them in airtight bags.  I hear you can freeze them whole or in halves, but that the consistency is never the same.  So, if I am going to end up mashing them, I may as well do it now.


...that you can freeze ripe, whole tomatoes?  Just cut off the stems.  Later, upon removal from the freezer, rinse under tepid water and the skin peels right off.  Chop and use in any dish that calls for cooked (or canned/diced) tomatoes.

... that you can freeze diced onions, celery, and bell peppers?  It will make your prep time go much faster later when you are making a stew or stir fry.

...and of course, you can never have too many frozen banana chunks or berries for use in smoothies or paleo ice cream... or just to pop in your mouth :)

What other produce have you successfully frozen without cooking first?

Groceries: Shopping Paleo at Aldi and Costco

It's shopping day.   Here are the lists.

Aldi: $46
dry roasted unsalted almonds
raisins
dates
eggs (2 dozen)
bacon
canned salmon
canned pumpkin
marinara sauce
cauliflower (2) --99 cents ea.
broccoli (2) --99 cents ea.
tomatoes (2 pkgs.) -- 99 cents ea.
avocados (8) --still 29 cents ea.
oranges --4lbs./$1.48
frozen green beans
frozen ground turkey (2)
frozen whole chicken
frozen shrimp

Costco: $38
cubed butternut squash (2 pkgs.)
salad
bananas (3 bags)
almond butter
pistachios

And here are the goods.


It was a less-than-fun shopping trip with the kids, fyi, just in case you care.  At least now it is done.  I'm excited to try some new recipes next week.

I may stop at Trader Joe's later in the week for some things I want to get for Valentine gifts and pick up a few more things for us (macadamias, organic apples) while I am there.

Up next, some easy freezing ideas for making the most of produce before it goes bad.