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.

Paleo…heard of it?

I’m aware that I have been fairly absent from here for the past few weeks.

I’ve been experimenting, again.

I’m not really ready to divulge all the things that have gone on in the past few weeks, but I will say that I’m over 3 weeks into a 30-day-trial of a paleo-style food plan.

“What’s Paleo?” you might be asking.  Yeah, me, too.  And I’m by no means an expert at this stage of things, but I have read a lot, tried several meal plans, read some more, bought a couple of books, scoured some blogs and forums, looked up some research data and then did a little more reading….so I feel like I know more now than I did three weeks ago, that’s for sure.

There’s quite a bit of information out there about a Paleo-based nutrition plan…but here are the places with my favorite explanations:

Mark’s Daily Apple

Robb Wolf’s Paleo Solution

The Whole 9 Life

I’ve been doing the Whole 30 Program from the Whole9 website…it’s part life-style change and part cleanse and I’m already astounded by the impact it is having on me.  In a good way.

So consider this a teaser post…as I’ll wrap up officially when the 30 days are up. But I can tell you I’m already planning on a short break and then starting right over again with another 30-day plan.

In the meantime, here’s some of the stuff I’ve been eating:

Sweet potato with broiled barramundi and zucchini, summer squash and peppers
Those are zucchini “noodles” made with a julienne peeler and steamed for just a few minutes.
Lots of roasted vegetables
Zucchini cakes
Homemade pesto…on eggs!
Lots of salads full of crazy vegetables (like this wrinkly cucumber!)
Tons of that roasted okra I’ve been raving about
Plenty of eggs, all styles (photo credit: clothesmakethegirl)
Grilled and roasted chicken (photo credit life ambrosia)
Steaks of all varieties (photo credit myrecipes)
and grilled shrimp – one of my favorites! (photo credit sunset)

I thought I’d show you that before we talk about all the things I HAVEN’T been eating!  Stay tuned for more on Paleo in the next few months…