Back on the wagon…

Well, I certainly haven’t been here as much as I like to be…and I haven’t been in the kitchen as much as I need to be, either!  The summer has  been lots of fun so far…I’m enjoying a lighter work schedule and the occasional day to sleep in (shhhhhh, don’t tell anyone) BUT I’ve really struggled with meal planning and cooking this summer. And anyone who has ever tried to maintain the whole Paleo-thing for any amount of time knows that the devil is in the details (of meal planning.) I finally got fed up with too-much-junk in the house last week and decided that my little vacation from the kitchen was over. And, in case you didn’t know it already, blogging here helps keep me accountable…so, here I am!

I spent a little time creating a week’s worth of meals so I could participate in this awesome project (there’s still room to join in, by the way) and then decided to go ahead and jump back on the wagon this week.

I’m going to be gone several nights this week, so I knew I would have to cook some stuff ahead – I got started on those this afternoon. This first one is a crockpot meal that is a big hit around here… Balsamic Roast

Spices for Balsamic RoastYou start with a spice rub that includes salt, pepper, smoked paprika, onion powder and garlic powder.

Spices and meat for Balsamic RoastYou place the top round roast of your choice in a crockpot (on top of some onion slices) and then rub the spices into it.

Ready to get happy for 6-8 hours, Balsamic RoastThen you pour in a tomato paste-balsamic vinegar mixture, a little white wine and cover and let the magic happen for 6-8 hours (or until the meat is sufficiently falling apart.) It has a nice tangy flavor and, like most roasts, is just as good the next day or two, so it’s perfect to make ahead or use for lunches. (pictured here with my favorite broccoli salad)

I also made some spaghetti squash that I’ll need for two other recipes this week. I don’t know if you have made friends yet with spaghetti squash, but seriously, this stuff is a hero to me. And with certain meals, I actually prefer it to pasta. (Don’t get me wrong, spaghetti squash doesn’t taste like pasta…but it has a very similar texture and you can swirl it around your fork and sauces can cling to it…it’s a very happy stand-in.)

I know that you can microwave it and I have done that when in a pinch but, trust me when I tell you that the texture is much, much better if you have the time to roast it. It’s not as mushy, closer to al dente, if you can swing the 35 minutes in the oven.

Spaghetti Squash in halfCut a whole squash in half lengthwise…

Spaghetti Squash, cleaned…scrape out the pulp and seeds (and put in your garden for the birds, if so inclined…that’s where these were going.)

Spaghetti Squash ready for ovenLine a baking sheet with parchment paper, place squash cut-side down and sprinkle the paper with about 3TB of water before placing in a 375° oven for 35 minutes.

Spaghetti Squash, ready to shredWhen they are finished, allow them to cool on a rack until you are able to handle them. (Or, if you are cooking them ahead of time like I was, just let them cool completely.)

Spaghetti Squash all doneOnce cooled, use a fork to separate the strands of squash and scrape out the “spaghetti.” Since I’m not using mine until Tuesday/Thursday, I put it in some Tupperware and stored it in the fridge. This is going to go under some Chicken Marsala and as a side for Chocolate Chili later this week.

Then finally, what we were having for dinner tonight: Meatballs and a Radicchio Salad

This recipe is from Sarah Fragoso’s new book Everyday Paleo Around the World: Italian Cuisine. I just got it recently and am very excited to have some of the results of her Italian adventure on the menu for this week. Meatballs are an easy homerun in this house and I have several recipes I like, so it’s always fun to try a new one.

Meatball ingredients ready  The ingredients all ready to go…Meatballs ready to mix … grass-fed beef, pastured eggs, organic spinach, sage, garlic, salt and pepper

Meatballs ready for the stove …mixed, formed and ready for the skillet. My oldest came into the kitchen while I was working on these and asked if they had grass in them.  (It wilts quite a bit while cooking, so it won’t always look like grass!)

Meatballs finished in a sauce  They cook relatively quickly in a large skillet on the stove top and stay nice and juicy.

Meatballs finished They are nestled in a paleo-fied “Béchamel sauce” that is made with white sweet potatoes (instead of flour) and coconut creme (instead of heavy cream.) It was a yummy sauce, but the coconut flavor came through a little too much for me to feel like I was eating a French-mother sauce. Very good, but I think I will still tweak it a bit…or just use it as a coconut sauce. I kept thinking about shrimp or even a nice white fish in it – that would have been perfect!

Lastly was a radicchio salad that I very much enjoyed in spite of how bitter I usually think it is.

radicchio salad This was very easy to make. A small head of radicchio shredded and spread out on a plate. Shallots, pancetta and garlic sautéed in butter and then whisked, while still warm, with olive oil, white wine vinegar and oregano get drizzled over the whole plate. Season with salt and pepper and voilà! I also think this dressing would be divine on spinach or maybe a combination of the two – especially if you want something in there to cut a little bit of the radicchio bitterness – but overall, it was delish!

The Balsamic Roast recipe is below…and for more of Sarah’s meatballs, check out her site here. And, as for me, I’m back on the wagon so I’ll be back with the rest of the menus this week!  Happy Summer everyone…

Balsamic Roast

Prep: 15min

Cook: 6-8hours

2 pounds top round beef (or your roast of choice)

1 TB salt

1 TB smoked paprika

1 TB garlic powder

1 TB onion powder

1 TB black pepper

2 TB coconut oil

1 large sweet onion, sliced

½ cup balsamic vinegar

8 oz tomato sauce

½ cup water

2 TB white wine

Mix spices in a small bowl and season roast generously on all sides.

Heat coconut oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Sear each side of the roast for 3-4 minutes. Place the sliced onions in the bottom of a crockpot and put seared roast on top of the onions. (I have made this plenty of times when I skipped the searing part and just put the spice-rubbed meat straight into the crockpot. I do think you lose a little bit of flavor but if you are really in hurry, doesn’t hurt to skip it.)

Combine vinegar and tomato sauce, mix well, and pour over the roast. Add the water and white wine to the pan to deglaze (gather up the brown bits of flavor) and pour this mixture in the crock pot as well.

Cover. Set to low for 7-8 hours.

4 thoughts on “Back on the wagon…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s