Tuesday, February 26, 2013

3 Absolute MUST HAVE Kitchen Splurges

Three recent purchases have completely revolutionized the way I cook.  I could not be happier.  If you are not in possession of these items, go out and get them pronto.
Silicone Baking Mat:  I go through a ton of parchment paper.  I use every single time something goes in the oven, unless I'm broiling something.  And now that I have a silpat, I still use parchment for odd sized things (lining a loaf pan for instance) but this silpat is a game-changer.  Bake cookies, cakes, scones, chicken, fish, cauli pizza, vegetables, roasted whatever you got, it's amazeballsUSA.  When you're done, rinse it off and stow it away.  No more going through aluminum foil like it's going out of style, or spending oodles on pricey parchment.  It's a god send.  Stop wasting time scouring baking sheets and losing half your cookie because the bottom is stuck to the pan.  Get a silpat.

Big Bad Cutting Board:  I have a nice little collection of cutting boards.  A flexible plastic one that's nice for chopping veggies and then siphoning into your pot or pan, but that's seen much better days, a thick plastic board, a small wooden cutting board, and a medium cutting board.  But my new giant cutting board is on a totally different playing field.  It stays where it is, I don't move it.  I cut veggies on it, put eggs I'm about to bake with in the grooves so they don't go rolling around, roll out cookie dough, assemble seasoning mixes so I don't get my countertops dirty, cut fruit, make snacks for S, and pile things on so I can clean the rest of the kitchen.  It's big, so I don't move it around, which means cutting up healthy stuff is easier, more convenient, and requires less steps.  It is large enough to accomodate my biggest mixing bowl, so that when I'm stirring I don't get raw batter all over if it spills over the edge.  It makes prep work and clean-up so much faster and easier.  It also means that the rare instances when MKG is going to cut something up, he doesn't make an enormous mess and leave it for me to deal with.  Of course, if you are putting raw meat/fish/poultry on it you need to sanitize it, but other than that a quick wipe will do.  It's amazing.  And it was only $13 at HomeGoods.  Similarly sized boards at Williams Sonoma I recently saw for $98.  No thanks.

Extra Virgin White Truffle Olive Oil:  If you distill heaven into a liquid, you'd have truffle olive oil.  This stuff is gold.  It has made plain, steamed vegetables a delight and something I look forward to.  Boring steamed cauli, broccoli, green beans, in just a few minutes you turn a bland veggie into something rich and extraordinary.  You don't need a lot, just drizzle a bit and you're good to go.  It's incredible over plain, raw arugula and baby spinach.  With some sea salt sprinkled on top, you are seriously going to have a culinary meltdown.  So simple and so good.  It's not as expensive as you'd think.  Whole foods sells little bottles like this for $5.  I'm not quite sure how they bottle "truffle aroma" but they do and it's f*cking delicious.  Get some.  

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Seafood Soup

This seafood blend is a wonderful product.  Shrimp, calamari, and little baby scallops.  Throw in some fish, or some extra shrimp, and you have a ton of protein for an easy, quick meal.  I've made this seafood soup twice in two weeks now, and served it once to company.  It is a yummy and filling soup for any seafood lover.

Seafood Soup
1 32. oz container fish stock
1 can light coconut milk (or regular)
2 cans water
1 onion, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
3 large carrots, diced
2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup fish sauce, like red boat
salt and pepper to taste
1 bag trader joe's seafood blend
1 bag shrimp, chopped fish, langostinos, etc
1 bag frozen cauliflower florets

Saute your veggies in some EVOO until translucent, 5-7 minutes, in a large stock pot.  Pour in your seafood stock, coconut milk, and water, and add your garlic and salt and pepper.  Bring to a simmer.  Add your fish sauce, and taste.  Add more, or more seasoning, to taste.  When you've gotten it right, add in your frozen seafood and cauli.  Bring back up to a simmer and you're done!  This tastes great right away, and really good after a day in the fridge.   Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Paleo Banana Bread, Nut-Free, Dairy-Free, Sugar-Free, Grain and Gluten-Free

I am kind of weirded that I don't have a banana bread recipe up on the blog.  Banana bread used to be a staple chez GFG.  I would make it a few times a month, with regular SAD ingredients, or sometimes half whole wheat flour and half AP, or even a tablespoon or two of flax meal and think I was really badass.  Well, times have changed, and there's a new banana bread recipe in town y'all.  This recipe is so stinkin' easy and so stinkin' good.  It does not have a weird mealy coconut texture like so many coconut flour baked good can have.  It is delicious, and sugar free to boot.  It is sweetened with the bannas themselves, and stevia.  Think stevia isn't paleo?  It is.  Check out Mark's Daily Apple if you don't believe me.  And it is safe for diabetics.  I have tested it on myself, and I have pretty much no insulin.  So there.  This would make a great dessert, but frankly, I'll be giving it to S for breakfast, as it is perfectly healthy.

Paleo Banana Bread
2 medium bananas, mashed
4 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup walnut or coconut oil
3/4 cup nutmilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp butter extract (optional)
4 droppers nunaturals alcohol free liquid stevia
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup coconut flour

Mash your bananas in a large bowl, add in your eggs, extracts, stevia, milk, and oil, stir well.  Add in your dry ingredients (try to get coconut flour lumps out prior to adding) and combine well.  I lined my loaf pan with parchment, but you can grease yours if you prefer.  Pour your batter into the loaf pan and drop on the countertop a few times to get out any air bubbles.  Sprinkle the top with cinnamon if you like!  When a knife comes out just clean, take it out.  It will firm up a bit as it cools.  Mine was still pretty squishy in the center.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.  This is now your go-to, easy peasy, one bowl banana bread recipe.  Enjoy!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Pizza Kale Chips


Kale chips are a fun, easy, delish way to shovel in lots and lots of veggies.  I like the plain old EVOO and salt kind as much as the next guy, but when I recently saw a recipe for pizza kale chips, I knew I had to try them out.

Here's the thing about kale chips though.  It bugs me that most recipes call for large quantities of cashews.  I eat enough nuts throughout the week, I don't want to drown my veggies in them too.  I get that the creaminess is needed for that cheesy coating that we all love, but seriously, I just don't need MORE nuts in my diet, trust me!  I get enough as it is.

So I decided to try the recipe without cashews.  It works great.  I imagine even better if you had a proper dehydrator.  But no matter, you can have nut-free pizza kale chips any time you like.

Pizza Kale Chips
1 bag washed/chopped kale, from Trader Joe's for instance
1 6 oz. can organic tomato paste
1 tbsp oregano
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/4 cup EVOO

In a mixing bowl, combine your paste and seasonings and EVOO.  Dump your kale onto a baking sheet, and then dollop the pizza sauce onto the kale by the spoonful.  Using your hands, work the sauce into the kale, making sure to coat all the leaves evenly.  Bake at 400 until crisp.  This will depend on how much you have, how big your baking sheet, etc.  Took me about 20 minutes.  These will taste even better the next day!

In other news, I decided to get a juicer.  I am primarily a 2 meal a day kinda gal, and I admit it can be tough to get in enough veggies in two meals.  Plus, I am hoping I can get my family to partake too, although I doubt either of them will drink straight veggies like I plan to.  But hopefully with a little apple or some berries thrown in food good measure, I can get everyone on board.

I researched juicers for about a week.  It was clear to me in the end that the best kind was probably the Omega J8006.  But for about $250 or so, kind of a steep entry point for someone that doesn't even know if they'll like the stuff.  Finally, I settled on a clearance juicer from BBB, and I figure, I'll learn on it and see if it's something I even want to do on a regular basis.  If it is, I will upgrade to a nicer one, and if not, it wasn't too big of an investment.

I had my first juice experience today, and it wasn't bad!  Actually, wayyyy sweeter than I was expecting.  I used too many tomatoes and too many carrots, because I was running low on veggies.  But it was fun and clean up wasn't too terrible.  Unfortunately S was not a fan, and spilled more than she drank.  Ahh well.

I also tried my hand at some stevia sweetened chocolate truffles this week, in honor of Valentines Day. Surprisingly, using nunaturals liquid (alcohol free) stevia produces a really decent flavor.  I am just as shocked as you are!  They are in the freezer right no, firming up for later.

I hope you all had a great vday and enjoyed no matter how it was spent!  Hallmark holiday or not, we could all use a little more LOVE in our lives amirite?

XoXoGFG

Friday, February 8, 2013

Paleo Sauteed Chicken Hearts


Hmmm...  Ok, so this pic is truly one of the most unappetizing pics I have probably ever posted.  Sorry about that.  The arugula looks tasty at least, right?  Yikes.

Anywho.  Chicken hearts are a fantastic source of nutrients.  They are HEARTS after all!  Containing very high quantities of the following nutrients, you really can't argue with 'em:


And for those of you who aren't big fans of liver, hearts have a much milder flavor and are also way less chewy and dense.  I suspect broiling or grilling them would be amazeballs.

I picked up about 1 lb and three quarters of the stuff at Whole Paycheck for about $1.40.  Certainly enough for two people, with leftovers for the dog.  At such a low price point, may as well give it a shot right?  Preparation is a snap.

I know it sounds weird.  But when you eat a paleo, primal, or ancestral diet, focusing on getting lots of protein, you really have to branch out sometimes.  And I am not a big steak eater, so that basically means poultry, fish, seafood, and some pork occasionally.  Sh*t gets old eventually.  So what the heck?  Try something new.

Paleo Chicken Hearts
1.5-2 lbs chicken hearts
1 yellow onion
garlic powder
salt
pepper
EVOO, or ghee

Saute your yellow onion in EVOO until its translucent.  Season with salt and a bit of pepper.  Add in your chicken hearts, and season liberally with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Cook for about 7-9 minutes until hearts are completely cooked through.

Easy peasy folks.  You've got nothing to lose! Try it out!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Paleo Spicy Asian Cole Slaw


I dig coleslaw.  I dig asian flavors.  I really dig cabbage.  Cabbage is cheap.  Do you agree with these statements?  Good.  Then try this yummy asian slaw.  We had ours with some of nom nom paleo's delish damn fine chicken, second time i've made it in as many weeks.

As you may have noticed, I am really not much for measuring, especially in recipes like this.  I'd rather eyeball everything and taste as I go.  So this is not so much a recipe as it is guidelines.  But spiceyness is such a personal thing anyways!

Paleo Spicy Asian Coleslaw
half a bag shredded carrots (about 1 1/2 cups)
small-med head of cabbage (or use red if you like)
1 small red onion, chopped/diced
3 tbsp EVOO
salt and pepper
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp (or more!) sriracha.  There are paleo varieties out there, or you could make your own.  Again, nomnompaleo.com to the rescue.  I probably used more like 2 tbsp sriracha, but I really like spicy foods.
10 drops alcohol free liquid stevia- NuNaturals is best

In a small bowl, mix your wet ingredients.  Taste it!  Is it yum? Want it sweeter?  Spicier? Tangier?  Adjust accordingly.  Now is the time to do it, before adding to your slaw.  Pour over your chopped/shredded cabbage, onion, and carrots.  Season, and mix well.  Depending on the size of your cabbage you may need a bit more liquid.  Let this sit in the fridge for a few hours so the flavors can come together.  It is really good folks.

I know I haven't been awesome in the full disclosure department.  January has been.... interesting.  Honesty and truthiness aren't at the top of my list right now.  Hope that's cool.

How has your January been?  2013 treating you right so far?  Anyone doing any cleanses or detoxes worth sharing?  I myself am dying to do one of those 3 day veggie juice cleanses, but the juice can be quite carby, and no protein, so I'm not sure it's a good idea.  Thoughts?

Thanks GFGs.  Much love!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Crispy Paleo Pumpkin Seed and Almond Honey Cookies (Dairy free and egg free too)

Sometimes you just want to throw some ingredients in the food processor and make some cookies.  Minimal measuring, minimal ingredients, minimal bowls to clean.  Minimal.  It would be nice if life could be more minimal sometimes wouldn't it?  Well, with these cookies, you can start.

I've had a bag of salted pumpkin seeds in the pantry for awhile.  I snacked on them for a week or so and then got tired of them.  I'm more of a cashew kind of girl to be honest.   So into the food processor they went.  I've seen cookies made before with sunflower seeds, so why not pumpkin seeds? 

They came out great.  Thin and crispy, salty and sweet, the perfect snack or treat.

Try them!  Pumpkin seeds are much cheaper than nuts, and quite nutritive.

Crispy Paleo Pumpkin Seed and Almond Honey Cookies (Dairy and Egg Free)
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sliced and blanched almonds
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
3 1/2 tbsp raw honey
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
3 1/2 tbsp walnut or coconut oil

Process your pumpkin seeds and almonds until you have a fine flour.  While the motor is running, pour in your honey, oil, vanilla, and pinch of salt.  Once the "dough" starts to form a ball, it's ready to be spooned onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.  This will take a minute or two, perhaps longer, depending on the speed of your machine. 

Use a tbsp to form little balls, and flatten well with your fingertips.  These cookies will not spread, so flatten them out pretty good.  Bake at 350 for about 5 minutes, until the edges brown.  These will cook super fast!  Watch them carefully!

I am baking more with honey, since I don't eat baked goods anyways, may as well spare S and MKG all my sugar free concoctions and just feed them, whole, real foods, like molasses and raw honey, and dates.  I am quite sure you could sub dates for the honey in this recipe, 5 should do it.  Did you know that per tbsp, molasses has about 60 calories, and is a great source of potassium, B6, and magnesium?  It also has 15 grams of carbs, which may make a not so great choice for diabetics, but if you don't have any problems with sugar, this is certainly a better choice.

Were I to make these for myself, I would probably opt for about 20-30 drops of NuNaturals Alcohol Free Liquid Stevia, a wonderful, non-bitter, non-aftertaste giving sweetener that I just adore.  It has such a clean flavor. 

Hope you're all having a pleasant week.  Believe it or not, it got into the mid 70's here in KC yesterday, breaking all kinds of records.  I spent the day inside the office so don't have any fun outdoorsy stories to tell, but the weather sure is nutty right now.  I love spring as much as the next guy, but I can't say it isn't a little disconcerting. 

XoXoGFG