Sunday, December 30, 2012

Weekly Menu

Welcome back.

my parents' friends have some gorgeous chickens that lay beautiful eggs!
It was nice to have almost a week off from planning food, and I don't really want to think about it again yet, but I must.  Unless we want to fast for a few days, but I'm thinking that wouldn't be great for the kids, right?  Especially since I wouldn't exactly call us well fat adapted right now (we'd have some ugly sugar crashes), nearing the end of the 2012 holidays season and all.  I need to make a grocery list and go shopping.  I don't have to pack a lot of lunches this week (woo-hoo!) since the kids are out of school and I will be working some from home.  Let's hope we can stick to some sort of routine and have fun.

Breakfasts:
paleo breakfast bread
eggs & veggies (spinach, peppers, salsa)
fruit
coffee, raw milk

Lunches:
pizza dip (use up leftover cheese) with celery
tuna stuffed avocados
homemade paleo pretzels
odds & ends

Dinners:
Monday - herb roasted pork loin, green beans, salad with homemade paleo salad dressing
Tuesday - leftovers
Wednesday - baked asian-style salmon, sweet potatoes, salad
Thursday - paleo chicken nuggets, sour cream ranch dipping sauce, fresh veggies
Friday - bean-less chili, avocado
Saturday - balsamic roast beef, paleo coleslaw, sweet potatoes
Sunday - leftovers

Desserts:
OJ popsicles
banana-almond butter bites

Happy New Year!  Wishing you health and happiness in 2013!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Crock Pot Primal Chicken Tortilla Soup

just a few of the ingredients

SOOOO easy!  This is one of those fix it and forget it meals.  It is pretty frugal, too!  Thanks to my sister-in-law for sending it to me.



Ingredients:
  • 2 cans ro-tel (diced tomatoes and green chilis)
  • 1 (15oz) can Tomato Sauce
  • 1 c. salsa
  • 1 can corn*
  • chopped carrots, celery, and onion (the equivalent of 1 can of veggies)*
  • 2 to 4  boneless skinless chicken breasts, frozen or thawed
  • cumin, optional
  • cilantro, optional

Instructions:

Dump all ingredients in a crockpot and cook on low till ready to serve.  6 hours if breasts are thawed, 8 if frozen is about right.  The chicken meat just shreds in the pot with a fork.  I put in a bit of cumin in, too.  I also add some chopped fresh cilantro at the end, because I love it.  Serve with fresh avocado or guacamole!

*The original recipe calls for 2 cans of black beans, but I sub with other veggies.  Corn is not paleo, but I like the little sweetness it adds.

Update 1/21/13: I made this again, left out the corn and veggies, and subbed 1 can of plain diced tomatoes for 1 of the cans of ro-tel (in an effort to make it milder for my children), and it was still delish!

Cashew Cookie Babies

...that's what I call them!




(aka Cashew Cookie No Bakes, aka mock Cashew Cookie Larabars, inspired by these)

Anyhoo.  These were my paleo "cookies" that I made for my neighborly cookie exchange this year.  I did drizzle them drench them (quite ungracefully) in melted semisweet chocolate, which was not a primal touch.  And I actually wouldn't recommend it, either.  I was trying to make them look prettier (which did not happen since I drenched them), and it kind of distracted from the intended taste of the cookie.  So, what I'm saying is keep it simple.  Don't bother with a chocolate drizzle over top.

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups Medjool dates (source: Costco), pits removed
  • 2 cups cashew pieces (source: Trader Joe's)
  • salt (optional)

Instructions:

1. Grind the cashew pieces in a food processor or blender until finely ground.
2. Roughly chop the dates with a knife. (Be sure the pits are removed.)
3. Add the dates and salt (if desired, I omit) to the food processor.
4. Blend all the ingredients together. (Or, squish everything together in a bowl with your hands - my preferred method.)
5. Form into balls or press into a pan and slice.  Enjoy!



Food this Week

I'm not making a menu for the entire week since we'll be with family a lot... but here are some things we plan to eat in the down times...




I just made some of these grain free gingerbread cookies with the kids!  They are not super sweet so we definitely like them with frosting... I have been noticing that some things lately seem to hurt my stomach for a little while (these cookies, corn chips, etc.) Am I becoming more sensitive to them by abstaining from them?  It  will be good for me in the long run.  I guess it will keep me sticking to other options (or just choosing to pay the price - ha!)

I will probably make a gluten free baked ziti pasta dish for when all the little cousins are over - they think we eat weird enough as it is, I am sure.  (I like how I have no craving for these things anymore.)

Right now I am listening to Bing Crosby Holiday station on Pandora... the best and least annoying one to me.

Enough about me. I hope all of you have a peaceful and joyous week and get to spend time with loved ones.  Mwah!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie


Back when our first child was just a little baby, and I was back at work full time, I made a Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie almost every weekend.  It was so easy to take to work for lunches or reheat for dinners throughout the week, and it's one of my husband's favorite meals.  I'd never made it in the crockpot until now, though, and I am really glad I finally tweaked the recipe to work in a slow cooker.

This is the same great comfort food I would make every week, made even simpler by my handy crockpot.

Yum!

Serves 4.

The Tools:

-4 qt. crockpot (any bigger will cook faster, so keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn!)

-3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
-1 lb. lamb, beef or turkey (I think lamb is the tastiest)
-2 cups frozen peas and carrots (see note below if you want to use fresh instead)
-1 onion
-2 cloves garlic
-1 T herbs de provence
-1/2 cup beef broth (or water)

The Process:

Brown your meat on the stove with the onions, adding the garlic and the herbs towards the end.

Drain a bit of the fat and plop the meat mixture in the crockpot.  Stir in your frozen vegetables and mix well.

(Note: Of course you could use fresh instead.  If you don't do peas, you could easily substitute fresh carrots and fresh celery here.  I would actually just toss any fresh veggies I was using in with the onions when I was browning my meat.)

Pour beef broth (or water) over the mixture.  Using a rubber spatula, spread the mashed sweet potatoes over the top of the beef.

Cook on LOW for 5-6 hours.  If you're using frozen veggies, you're just letting this warm up and letting the flavors all run together since you already cooked your meat, so you could cheat and end a bit early.  If you're using fresh veggies, you'll need to let them cook through in the crockpot so you'll need the whole cook time.

Turn the crockpot to HIGH and take off the lid.  Let sit for 30 more minutes to make the sweet potatoes all crusty and yummy.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Honey Balsamic Pork Chops


Tired of making complicated dishes?

Need another simple and tasty meal you can assemble in less than three minutes and let cook all day?

Want something sweet and tangy and oh-so-delicious?

BAM.

Done.

The Tools:

-4 qt. crockpot

-3-4 pork chops
-4 T honey
-3 T balsamic vinegar
-salt
-black pepper

The Process:

Place pork chops in the bottom of the crockpot.  Sprinkle some black pepper and salt over them.

Mix honey and balsamic vinegar together in a bowl.  Dump mixture over pork chops.

Cook on LOW for 5-6 hours, checking to be sure pork has been cooked thoroughly.

Enjoy!


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Weekly Menu

I just have to give a shout out to two recipes from last week that we all loved.

Balsamic Roast Beef = awesome.   I was worried about this, because whenever I do a roast in the crock pot, it always gets overdone and tough.  This was everything the source claimed it would be.  I look forward to making it again.  We used a rump roast.  I didn't use any Worcestershire because I've been out for quite awhile, and when I read the ingredients one time I wasn't enthused to buy it again.  I did use honey and soy sauce.  The authentically brewed soy sauce doesn't seem to bother anyone in my family.

Shrimp = love.  I was feeling to lazy for this recipe -zesting a lemon and all that strenuous stuff :), so I opened my trusty red plaid BHG cookbook thinking there surely must be a quick shrimp sauté recipe.  And there was!  Husband loved this.  Sooo easy: butter, garlic, shrimp, and a bit of sherry and parsley thrown in at the end.  It is actually quite similar to the one I had linked to and intended to use, minus the lemon stuff.  So maybe I will try the original one next time, provided I have a lemon!  I had a gift card to an upperscale grocery store that was about to expire... so I quickly hit up the sales on organic apples ($1/pound), organic salad greens (BOGO, but still not as good of a deal as at Costco), and US shrimp ($8/pound).  I wish I could afford good shrimp more often!

Anyways... onward.  This week is here.  I did my shopping at Aldi and Trader Joe's.  Keeping the total around $115 this week - yay!  Next weekend I will go to Costco and Whole Foods

The plan for this week...

Breakfasts:
scrambled eggs with spinach and/or goat cheese
fruit
coffee, raw milk

Lunches:
primal tuna salad, celery, tomato soup x2
cranberry muffins* and cottage cheese
primal chicken salad lettuce wraps x2
meatballs, fruit x2
dinner leftovers

Dinners:
Monday - sausage & sweet potato hash
Tuesday - paleo chicken parmesan (no cheese), roasted green beans
Wednesday - corn tortilla pizzadillas, marinara for dipping (not hard core paleo, but thought they looked fun for a change, hopefully we won't get bellyaches from the corn)
Thursday - some kind of buffalo chicken dip with celery (yes, for dinner)
Friday - leftovers
Saturday - meatloaf, peas
Sunday - leftovers

Cheese?  Yes.  A minor concession considering we've been doing really well with all the parties this month.  The party yesterday was cancelled due to illness, but had we gone, this is what I was planning on taking, in case you are curious.  A crockpot full of balsamic-glazed drumsticks... and some chocolate chip cheesecake brownies made with Trader Joe's gluten free basic brownie mix (since I like to bake and my kids said, "Mom, please take a dessert so we can have some!")  We ended up making the drumsticks for supper and I am saving the brownie mix for another time.

*The last time I made these muffins, I replaced all of the pumpkin and maple syrup with some homemade super tart applesauce from my freezer... I think I actually used close to 2 cups.  They turned out great, so I will probably try it again.

That's all for now!  Have a good Sunday!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Paleo Honey Sesame Chicken


More Chinese food!  

I'm having a blast re-creating all of my old takeout favorites, paleo-style, in the crockpot.  Coconut aminos is totally awesome.  And not much beats a bowl of warm, spicy Chinese food on a dark, rainy winter night.  Especially when that bowl of Chinese food doesn't come with soy, gluten or MSG or any other yucky additives that make you feel awful afterwards.

Serves 3.

The Tools:

-6 qt. crockpot

-6-8 (ish) chicken thighs (approx. 2 lbs.)
-salt
-freshly ground black pepper
-1 small onion, diced
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1 cup honey
-1/4 cup tomato paste
-1/2 cup coconut aminos (or gluten free soy sauce if you're not too strict)
-1/2 tsp red chili paste (red chili fla kes would work, too)
-2 T arrowroot powder
-sesame seeds

The Process:

Plop your chicken thighs in the bottom of the crockpot.  Sprinkle some salt and black pepper over the top.  Maybe like a teaspoon of each.  Or a half teaspoon-ish.  You know, whatever.

Mix together remaining ingredients except arrowroot powder and sesame seeds in a large bowl.  Then dump the mixture over the chicken.

Cook on LOW for 7-8 hours, or until chicken is thoroughly cooked through.  Remove a small amount of the liquid from the crockpot and mix in arrowroot powder until it is totally dissolved.  Add the liquid back to the crockpot and cook on HIGH for another fifteen minutes with the lid off to let the liquid thicken.

I served mine over steamed cauliflower and broccoli (once again made in my handy new steamer) but this would be fantastic either by itself or served over cauliflower rice.  This recipe has a lot of liquid, so find your preferred way of using it.

(and now I'm off to my paleo apple crisp for dessert.... yum!)

Enjoy!

pictured below - the newest love of my kitchen appliance life:




Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Simple Sesame Beef


My Paleo Mongolian Beef recipe has been hot stuff these past few weeks.  Like, getting well over double the hits that all the other recipes are getting.  You people really like you some paleo-ified crockpot Chinese food, apparently.  

So here you go!  This is another recipe that takes about four minutes to throw together in the morning and makes you look totally awesome at dinner time.  It's an adaptation from a recipe I found on Six Sisters' Stuff, a great blog to read as their recipes are quite often easily paleo-ified.  

My husband and two year old both had huge servings quite happily.  I served it over steamed broccoli and cauliflower I made in my brand new digital steamer, which is totally awesome and might just come in a close second in terms of appliance radness.  (Behind the crockpots, of course.)




Serves 6.

The Tools:

-4-6 qt. crockpot 
-2 lbs. boneless beef chuck roast, sliced into thin strips (or pulled apart)*

-1 cup beef broth
-1/2 cup oyster sauce**
-1/4 cup coconut aminos (or gluten free soy sauce)
-pinch ground ginger
-2 heaping T arrowroot powder

-Broccoli (steamed)
-Cauliflower (either steamed or riced)
-Sesame Seeds


*OK, so I totally cheated and didn't actually cut my chuck roast into thin strips.  I just threw it in the crockpot and  covered it with the rest of the ingredients and walked away.  About an hour before I served it, I took two forks and pulled the meat apart just like I would do for my Super Lazy BBQ Pulled Pork.  And you know what?  It was still delicious and tasted amazing.  And I didn't spend an extra ten minutes painstakingly slicing meat in the morning.  (I spent it changing diapers instead.)


**I finally found oyster sauce I could use in one of the fancier grocery stores around here.  Be careful!  A lot of the "oyster flavored sauce" has MSG, gluten, soy AND dairy in it.  I finally found a brand (WOK MEI) that worked well enough for me, even though it has some cornstarch and caramel coloring in it.  We're not 100% super strict around here, so we have some fudge room with things like this.  If you're super sensitive to cornstarch or additives and don't want to mess with a new questionable ingredient, try using extra coconut aminos with a pinch of ginger instead of the oyster sauce:  It won't be exactly the same, but it should still be really tasty.

The Process:


Place beef in crockpot, either whole like I did, or cut up into thin strips.


Pour beef broth, oyster sauce and coconut aminos over it.  Add pinch of ginger.


Cover and cook on LOW for 7-8 hours.  If you're doing the Sarah-Super-Lazy method, about an hour before you're ready to eat, pull the beef apart with two forks and let the meat soak up the liquid.


About 15 minutes before mealtime, ladle a bit of the juices from the crockpot into a separate bowl.  Add your arrowroot powder and stir it together until dissolved.  Add back to the crockpot and leave the lid off.  The juice will thicken a bit.


Right before you serve it, add the steamed broccoli.  I also served mine over steamed cauliflower.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and enjoy!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Weekly Menu

lunch today


Well, this is just linktastic.  Here's the plan.

Breakfasts:
cranberry orange smoothies
paleo breakfast bread
scrambled eggs
coffee, raw milk

Lunches:
cottage cheese & pineapple
turkey or almond butter apple sandwiches
hot dogs
leftovers
carrots and homemade ranch
paleo trail mix
clementines

Dinners:
garlic lemon butter shrimp, broccoli & carrots, salad
P.F. Chang's lettuce wraps x2
balsamic roast beef, sweet potatoes, salad x2
shawarma chicken salad
party - taking ???
korean beef (paleofied) and green beans

Dessert:
almond butter banana bites

Have a super week, everyone!

I find more recipe inspiration here!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Chicken Thighs with Almonds and Olives


Quick side note/rant.  I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with all of the baking for the holidays going on around me.  Every mom's group I go to, there are trays and trays of cookies, brownies and other cake-type snacks.  I don't bake much, since baking isn't really paleo.  And anyways, blanched almond flour and honey are sure expensive ingredients to use all the time... in any case, I decided I wanted a simple chicken crockpot dish with simple, savory flavors for dinner tonight.

Almonds and olives seemed like a weird flavor combination to me, but sometime last year, I vaguely remember seeing roast chicken with almond and olives on a menu somewhere.  I remember because it seemed to me like an odd flavor combination.

Olives are paleo. So are almonds. So I figured why not try it out?

And I'm glad I did. This was delicious!

Serves 2-3. (you could easily double or triple this recipe, but my husband hates olives, so I only made enough for me and the toddler to eat)

The Tools:

- 4 qt. crockpot

- 1 T olive oil
- 8-12 large olives (mine were stuffed with pimentos)
- 1/2 cup whole raw almonds
- 1 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 onion, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 t black pepper
- 1/2 t cumin
- 1/2 t chili powder
- 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or chicken breasts)

The Process:

Grease your crockpot with the olive oil.

Mix together all remaining ingredients sans chicken in the crockpot.

Plop the chicken in the crockpot and swirl it all around.

Cook on LOW for 8 hours, or until chicken is done.

I served this with a half of a roasted butternut squash.  As my two year old said: "Mommy, it's TASTY!"

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Grocery Shopping List

Tales from the stores...
(warning:  oversharing ahead)

I did our shopping on Monday (Costco and Trader Joe's with the kids in tow) and Tuesday (Aldi by myself).  This was my plan with the estimate costs listed at the top of each list and actual costs listed at the bottom.  Of course I made some changes to my lists while I was in the stores, and I've put those in italics.

The main pain was the original Costco I went to didn't have the mini chicken sausages, the meatballs, or the avocados!  What?  So I settled for other sausages (which my kids don't like and cost more - boo), no avocados and instead Trader Joe's guacamole, and getting the meatballs the next day when I got out of class and was near the other Costco.

Cotsco: $70
organic ground beef
dates
avocados
chicken sausages
sour cream
celery
meatballs
pirate booty

actual: $68

...................

Trader Joe's: $26
soup
2 cans tuna
apple cider vinegar
cranberries
tomato sauce
ro-tel
sweet corn for soup
2 gf pizzas
bananas
apples
guacamole

actual: $32

...................

Aldi: $35
cashews
apples
bananas
pineapple
chicken
sweet potatoes
carrots
fruit leather
spinach
monterrey jack
cottage cheese
dried onion
2 ro-tel

actual: $32 and pictured here... (except for the carrots and sweet potatoes -- ???)


.................

plus...

5 dozen farm eggs: $10

1 gallon raw milk: $4 (turning in an extra jar)

5 lbs. clementines on Thursday (today): $5

This week's actual total = $151 = not bad! :)

So frozen pizzas are not a staple for us, but when I saw that TJ has gluten-free ones for $5 a pop it was just too handy to pick up a few to have on hand for babysitters, etc.

And as promised, here are the meatballs I am taking to a party on Friday.  Imperfections: they definitely contain some sugar and are browned in vegetable oil.  But so easy and so good!  The jalepeno mango ones are too spicy for my kids, but they liked the carmelized onion ones.  Hubs and I like both.  I will probably stick them in a crock pot and maybe make some dipping sauce on the side for our gathering.



Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Salmon Chowder


My husband grew up Catholic, and so he naturally craves fish and chowders during this time of the year.  While your average chowder will be packed full of dairy and flour, this one has neither of those ingredients.  And yet it's still delicious!  Dare I say... it's even TASTIER?

I used canned salmon in my chowder, because as I've mentioned before, we are quite poor right now with Will back in school.  And a soup is such a great way to use the more bland canned food, since there are so many other flavors in it to "help" it out.  You could use fresh, of course, but I thought it tasted great with the canned.

In any case, this is a great cold weather, rainy day kind of recipe.  (I live in Seattle now, so I seem to have a lot of those days.)

Note: this recipe also calls for white potatoes, which we also eat due to budgetary restraints.  If white potatoes aren't in your diet, consider using leeks, celery or more carrots to "bulk up" your stew.

Serves 6.

The Tools: 

-6 qt. crockpot

-1 14.5 oz can salmon (or similar amount of fresh salmon)
-1 14.5 oz can coconut milk
-4 cups turkey stock (or chicken stock - I just happened to have turkey stock around since we're just past Thanksgiving)
-12 oz. bacon
-5 russet potatoes, chopped into bite-sized pieces
-3 carrots, chopped
-1/2 onion, chopped
-2 cloves garlic, diced
-1 bay leaf
-1 T dill
-1 t black pepper
-1 t sea salt
-1 t thyme
-1/2 t red pepper flakes

The Process:

Fry bacon on stove top until crispy.  Remove from heat, let cool.  Chop into small pieces and plop in crockpot.

Add all other ingredients except salmon.

Cook on LOW for 6 hours.

Open your can of salmon and drain it.  Thoroughly check it over for bones and then add to the chowder.

Cook on HIGH for 1 more hour.

Serve with a bit of dill for garnish if you desire to make it bit more fancy.  Enjoy!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Weekly Menu

festive

I think we should have some yummy food this week, I am looking forward to it.  Using a pork loin from the freezer and trying to keep costs down since I am spending $$ on some paleo party food and ingredients for a cookie exchange next weekend.  I'm gonna be weird and make paleo cookies for that (truly paleo, not just gluten free or grain free).

I'm working on being less of a paleo hypocrite.  Might be quitting the raw milk soon... we'll see.

Breakfasts:
farm fresh eggs
bananas
coffee
smoothies

Lunches:
mini chicken sausages
roasted red pepper & tomato soup
tuna salad
celery or carrots with homemade ranch
apples
fudge babies

Dinners:
Monday - leftovers
Tuesday - jerk seasoned roasted pork loin, pineapple, green beans
Wednesday - leftovers
Thursday - sundried tomato meatballs, broccoli, roasted sweet potatoes
Friday - leftovers/party (taking meatballs)/gf pizza for the kids
Saturday - easy crockpot chicken tortilla soup (need to photog. and share this)
Sunday - leftovers (cookie exchange day - will share afterwards)

Happy December :)

Need an appetizer idea?  Check out this yummy looking gluten free buffalo chicken dip! (& other recipes) at Musings of a Housewife!

P.S. I haven't shopped yet, so maybe I'll post my list on here in a bit...

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Goodbye November!

(aka partial brain dump...)

Wow, that was a little sad... I only posted 3 times in November!  And only the menu plans, at that.  I guess that tells you a little about life lately! :)  But hey, at least I made the plans and followed them.  That was definitely helpful to me, even if I didn't throw much else out there to be read!

While December won't exactly be a walk in the park, I do intend to enjoy the slowing down that winter encourages.  Colder weather, dark evenings, some time off work and school over the holidays... mmm, hibernating sounds nice :)  Here's to seeking some rejuvenation for the new year.

Rolling out of bed for a predawn run just isn't enticing in the wintertime, but a morning workout is the only kind that happens around here... SOooooo that is that.  The tweaks for me are there will be some (even more) lifting, some (even less) running.  And when spring rolls around, it will feel so good to get out and moving more frequently again... right? Yes.

Allright.  I'm still making it a goal to sticking to the food budget this month, even with the parties thrown in.  I found some meatballs I LOVE.  From Costco, deli section.  No sauce needed.  Don't remember the name but I'll take a photo after I get some to take to a party next weekend.

Stay strong amidst the holiday food, paleo peeps.  Don't test your willpower too much.  Remember, willpower may be a finite resource that dwindles the more it is exercised.  So protect yourself so you have to use it as little as possible.  A huge part of that is taking responsibility for your own food - always have healthy food around so if you get hungry, you have no excuse to choose something else.  And I may be wrong, but if you do get caught in a circumstance with no healthy choices, going hungry for an extra hour or two won't hurt too much... especially if you are already a fat burner.

Hello December!...