Broccoli Salad

Sorry for the delay on the rest of the paleo menu from last week… we were out of town and I (was unexpectedly without wi-fi) decided to take a mini-break from the internet while enjoying the cool mountain air of northern New Mexico and Colorado.

We rode an awesome train:

Train in Chama, NM Chama, NM

 

But we are home now…back to the heat…and I think I promised a post about my favorite broccoli salad ever. I think I could live on it. Really.

Recently I got a new cookbook (please don’t tell Ron…we sort of have an agreement about me NOT getting any more new cookbooks) from Deb over at Smitten Kitchen. Truly one of my favorite recipe/family/food perfectionist blogs. Way back in 2009 she posted about a broccoli slaw recipe and I never made it…and then it showed up in the cookbook, so I finally got around to it. I’m so sorry that I waited so long.

making broccoli salad When I say that I could live on it, I’m not kidding. As you can see, I make it in a huge batch so it will last for a few days. I think I had it for lunch for three days in a row. So delish.

It also rounded out a paleo-ish dinner with that roast I made:

Roast and broccoli salad

 

Here is the recipe as posted on the original blog:  Broccoli Slaw  (in keeping with the paleo thing, I reluctantly substitute almond milk for the buttermilk and use homemade mayo when I have it.)

Don’t wait as long as I did to try it. Trust me.

 

 

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Chicken Marsala

This evening I made a version of Chicken Marsala that made everyone happy. Including me because it is pretty easy.

You start out with chicken breasts…

chicken marsala  which get pounded down to an even thickness…

chicken marsala …and then salted and peppered heavily on both sides

chicken marsala …then are seared in butter or ghee very briefly (3-4 minutes) and removed from the pan.

chicken marsala  In the same pan mushrooms and shallots are sautéed in butter for several minutes…

chicken marsala …then chicken broth and Marsala wine are added, along with a rosemary sprig. After a few more minutes you add the chicken breasts back in, cover and let them cook for 8-10 minutes.  I took them out and sliced them up before topping them with the sauce – but that’s just because the boys like the smaller pieces. You should feel free to do what you like – they would be impressive served whole, too.

chicken marsala In keeping with our grain-free menu, I paired it with the with the spaghetti squash from last night and a big green salad. Delightful paleo feast. The boys ate it up (except for the mushrooms which they won’t eat because they are black. Silly kids, more for us!)

And yes, that’s a puzzle underneath the dishes. We are in the middle of one right now that takes up the whole table, so we just cover it up when it’s time to eat.  No, we’ll probably never finish it.

Still to go this week…chocolate chili, cauli-rice and the best broccoli salad ever. Such yumminess ahead!

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.

Roasted Okra

While it is getting harder and harder to find fresh, home-grown-style tomatoes at the farmer’s markets, one thing that is still available in abundance is okra. I was officially addicted to okra this summer.  We had tons of it in our CSA share every week…and while I’m a gumbo fan, I was really happy to discover how easy it is to just roast it.

Chopped, drizzled in olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper…25-35 minutes in a 425° oven…

 

…and the slime totally disappears!  The okra is almost crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside. Sometimes for lunch, it’s all I would eat. The whole pan, of course…

 

…and I also would add garlic or onion powder occasionally. There’s still time…run out and grab a bunch of okra and see if you can demonstrate a little more will power than I.

Happy Fall-is-almost-here Everyone!

 

Zucchini Bread

We are still enjoying the bounty of our CSA share every week. Honestly, I’m not sure what I’ll do with one more cucumber or squash (although my oldest is enjoying the pickles immensely.  Maybe I’ll post about those, too.)  The zucchini, however, doesn’t present a problem. I just keep making bread and sticking it in the freezer. I know there are other great things to do with zucchini – like roasting it – have you done that?  Yum.  But, I really like having loaves of bread stuck away for the future.

 

This particular recipe is a hybrid of about 3 other recipes that I kept toying with…and while I’m not going to say it’s “healthy,” I will say it is considerably healthier than any of the original recipes.  I cut the oil down by more than half and substituted applesauce. I nearly doubled the zucchini and reduced the sugar by about half as well.  (I omitted the walnuts…though that would be some extra protein and good fat…you could certainly add them in if that floats your boat.)

 

It freezes very well and also keeps in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. If you have an abundance of zucchini, I recommend making a double or triple batch for the freezer. The last time I made it I had left over batter that wasn’t quite enough for a loaf, so I made muffins.  They had all disappeared by the next morning. I only ate one. No one else is talking, of course. Suffice it to say, next time I’m making more muffins!

 

A lot of zucchini recipes will give you elaborate instructions for getting all the water out of the grated zucchini. I’m pretty lazy about stuff like that (see tomato sauce) and really don’t want to spend the time wringing water out of vegetables. So I don’t. I grate all the zucchini a day or two ahead of time, layer it lasagna-style in a bunch paper towels in a big Tupperware container and stick it in the fridge. The paper towels soak up most of the liquid and the zucchini is crisp and cold when it’s time to go into the batter. It seems to work out just fine.

 

 

This recipe has proven to be pretty flexible…so if you want it sweeter, add a little more sugar….moister, add more oil or applesauce. As long as the ratios stay pretty close it really turns out every time. So consider this a template for your own experimentations…enjoy!

 

Almost-Healthy Zucchini Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3 eggs

1/2 cup applesauce

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

3 teaspoons vanilla extract

2-3 cups grated zucchini (I use three)

Grease and flour two 8×4 inch loaf pans. Preheat oven to 325°. Sift together flour, salt, baking powder, soda, cinnamon in a bowl. Beat eggs, oil, applesauce, vanilla and sugars together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture and beat well. Stir in zucchini until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.  Bake for 50 minutes (up to 60…use tester until it comes out clean.) Cool in pan on rack for at least 15 minutes, then remove and cool completely.

Asparagus Tart

I think I promised someone I would post this recipe after Easter. As you can see, I’m really on top of my to-do list!

We had a lovely Easter potluck at my aunt’s house and one of the things I took was this tart.

So easy and delicious…and pretty!

Just a few steps…blanching asparagus, then a quick ice bath:

Roll out and pre-bake some puff pastry:

Spread the cheese mixture all over the pastry:

Lay out the cooled asparagus:

And it is ready for the oven. Really, it’s that easy.

I originally pinned this recipe on Pinterest as part of my “Holidays: Easter” board. And I’m happy to have it in my repertoire for it’s simplicity and because I love asparagus and having a new way to use it.

This tart is perfect at room temperature, so great for summer when you want don’t want to be serving things hot.

Asparagus and Cheese Tart  from FoodNetwork

  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry (about 1/2 pound), thawed
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 1 cup grated fontina cheese (about 3 ounces)
  • 1 cup grated gruyere cheese (about 3 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk (or almond milk)
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Fill a large bowl with ice water. Bring about 1 inch of water to a boil in a large skillet. Add the asparagus; cook until bright green and crisp-tender, 2 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the asparagus. Drain and transfer to the ice water to stop the cooking; drain and pat dry. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

 Roll out the puff pastry into a 10-by-16-inch rectangle on a floured surface. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and prick all over with a fork. Bake until light golden brown, about 12 minutes. Let cool slightly on the baking sheet.

 Meanwhile, mix the fontina, gruyere, shallot, egg yolks, milk, nutmeg and a pinch each of salt and pepper in a bowl until combined. Spread the cheese mixture evenly over the puff pastry, leaving a 1-inch border on all sides. Toss the asparagus with the olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Arrange the asparagus on the tart and bake until the cheese mixture is slightly puffy, 15 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle with the lemon zest. Serve warm or at room temperature.

The kitchen is overrun…and Father’s Day!

Each year at about this time I have one of my favorite “problems.”  Remember this? Well this year we have the bounty of our CSA share, a generous co-worker and my in-laws’ incredible garden (they have tomato plants growing “wild” in their compost pile that are producing more tomatoes than any plants in my garden ever have – true story.) I feel kind of fortunate, actually, that my garden is full of weeds at the moment – we never made the time to get anything in it before it got too hot…you know, back in February – because I don’t know what I’d do with any more vegetables!

Tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, peppers, basil , squash, and more tomatoes. I’ve made zucchini cakes and zucchini bread…two kinds of pickles…squash casserole and even pickled some peppers. But we’re not talking about any of that today. Tomatoes are what we are talking about today. I’m not a huge fan of canning, though I wish I were. But I do like to make big batches of things and freeze them. Like tomato sauce.

I read a bunch of different recipes for tomato sauce and settled on a combination of two, with some adjustments for my own laziness. I’m not going to peel tomatoes. I’m just not going to do it. And I sort of seeded them…if you count cutting them in half and quickly squeezing them over the sink as “seeding.” What can I say? I like to cook, but come on, I also have a million other things I must get to before midnight.

So with those exceptions, I generally followed the recipes and wound up with a tomato sauce that my husband said was one of the best he’s ever tasted – and that included all those trips to Italy…I was sure to clarify that.  He made sure I kept my notes. And also wanted to know how much of a stash was going in the freezer. Oh, and could he please have this for Father’s Day over gnocchi followed by blueberry pie?

This sauce is not unlike the Bolognese sauce…but without the meat. And I only reduced twice instead of three times.  Oh, another thing the recipe does not call for is the blender. I added that part to make up for the fact that I did not peel them.  And also because I think it looks prettier when it’s all smooth like that.

I think it clings to the pasta and meatballs better when it’s smooth like this… divine!

And so went Father’s Day dinner…and the boys liked it as much as he did, so that’s a bonus.  (I didn’t tell them about all the other vegetables that were in there!)

Followed up by blueberry pie with “yuck” cream (as we call it in our house thanks to my younger brother’s honesty at a semi-fancy restaurant one time when we were little. The chef asked him how he liked it just as my brother skimmed a big spoonful of real whipped cream, sans sugar, off the top of his dessert…disappointed and confused that it didn’t taste like CoolWhip as he’d expected, he looked up and said, “It’s YUCK.” Cue: my mother’s mortification. My brother has never lived it down. However, that chef would be pleased to know that CoolWhip has rarely, if ever, been in my house, I just can’t eat the stuff, and I happily whip fresh cream when we need it…with a little bit of sugar and vanilla, just in case my brother shows up.)

A perfect pie for the Fourth of July, if you are so inclined.  The recipe can be found here.

And finally, tomato sauce…

Tomato Sauce

6-8 pounds of fresh tomatoes

2 TB olive oil

2 TB butter

8-10 cloves of garlic, minced

1 large onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

4-6 carrots, chopped

2 cups vegetable stock

2 bay leaves

2 cups red wine

1/4 – 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped (depending on taste)

Cut tomatoes in halves or quarters and squeeze out as many seeds as you can. Coarsely chop tomatoes and set aside.

In a large stock pot over medium heat, melt butter and add olive oil. Add garlic, onions, bell pepper and carrots and cook until they start to soften, 5-8 minutes. Add tomatoes, vegetable stock and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a low simmer and let reduce for at least 90 minutes. (Watch for the lines on the inside of the pot to tell how much liquid has cooked off – it should be at least an inch, two is better.)  Repeat with the wine and reduce for 2 hours. Add chopped basil for the last 10 minutes and remove bay leaves. Allow to cool enough to go into a blender (or use an immersion blender in the pot) and process until smooth.

If freezing, be sure to cool completely before placing in bags for freezer.  Also, I made this the following week with the next batch of tomatoes and I omitted the peppers and carrots…simpler flavor, but just as yummy.