Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Perfect Paleo Gumbo

I love soups... chicken soup, beef soup, chili, mushroom soup, maryland crab soup, cioppino...  I love them all!  This past winter, I attempted to make some gumbo!  We have some good friends who are from New Orleans who KNOW how to make some authentic dishes.  One day, I was just craving some anduille sausage and figured I'd try my hand at some gumbo.  I shot a quick text message to Angele asking her for any tips when making gumbo.  She immediately called me back and asked me if I had a pen and paper to take notes!  I combined a bunch of different recipes and made a DELICIOUS gumbo.  Here's my version of

Pefect Paleo Gumbo

* 1 bag frozen chopped okra
* 1 whole roasting chicken
* 1 large onion, diced
* 1 lb peeled shrimp
* 1 lb anduille sausage
* 1 lb lump crabmeat
* 1/4 cup bacon grease
* 2 cups seafood stock
* 1 can diced tomatoes
* 3 ribs celery , diced
* 1 green pepper, diced
* 6 cloves garlic, minced
* 1/2 tsp cayenne
* 1 tsp paprika
* 2 tbs creole seasoning (I used Zatarains)

Before you get started, you'll want to cook the whole chicken.  I just threw the chicken in a big pot and covered it with cold water.  Then I put a pinch of salt and pepper in the water and coverfed the whole thing with a lid and let it boil.  It took a while to cook the whole thing, but you want to boil and cook the chicken.  Once it's cooked all the way, you can remove the chicken from the water (but save the water- you'll want the flavor for later!!!).  Then, pick through the chicken and set the meat aside because you will use this for your gumbo.

I started off the gumbo by putting the bacon grease in a large heavy bottom pot.  Once it was liquidy, I added in the okra.  I put it in still frozen because it will obviously thaw out once it cooks through.  You'll want to start this early because the okra needs to cook for a while.  As it cooks, you will notice that it's getting slimy... you can literally see the slime stuff on your spoon as you stir it up.  Don't fear! Keep going... the slimey stuff will eventually go away, leaving a deliciously flavored okra that helps to thicken the gumbo.

While the okra is cooking down, you can dice the onion and the garlic as well as the green pepper and the celery.  Once the okra is past the slimy part, you can add in the onions and the garlic. Let it cook down and get all soft and cooked.  This is definitely a slow process that you don't want to rush! 

Stir in the celery and the green peppers and cook everything down.  I didn't want any crunch in my gumbo, so I just kept adding in a bit of bacon grease when it all seemed to dry up.  I didn't have to add too much extra, just enough so that the veggies didn't brown and crisp up.  I just wanted them sauteed and soft.

Next, I added in the can of diced tomatoes.  I always use the organic, salt free tomatoes that are diced.  You could probably use fresh tomatoes if you want, but I just had canned... so that's what went in!  I mixed it all together and started seeing some promising results!

I added in the seafood stock (which I make from scratch, but you can certainly buy).  I like my soups very liquidy, so I added in about another 2-4 cups of the water that was reserved from cooking the chicken.  You can add in chicken broth, or skip this step altogether if you'd rather have yours more chunky. 

Then, in went the reserved chicken meat that I left in nice bite sized chunks.

I also threw in the shrimp and crabmeat.  The first time I made this gumbo, I used chicken, shrimp, and anduille sausage... unfortunately, the grocery store I went to didn't have anduille sausage... btutI remembereed Angele saying that she used crabmeat sometimes... so I took a trip to the seafood department and picked up a pound of crab meat!  Being a girl from the Md area, I love crab and decided that it would be a nice addition!  So in went some crab.

I stirred it all together and let the shrimp cook through (which only took a few minutes).  I then added in the cayenne and paprika. 

I also added in the creole seasoning. I love spices so I actually added in a lot more than 2 tbs, but you should really add it to your own personal taste.  There are tons of different creole spices you can use, but this stuff was what the store had, so in it went!  It was pretty darn tasty!


So here's the finished project!  Seafood gumbo!  It was soooo delicious... I'm definitely a fan of gumbo now :)  Now I will say that, traditionally, gumbos need a roux which is basically a cooked paste of flour and butter. Flour, as we know, is definitely not paleo, so I just omitted this part.  I thought it still tasted great and didn't miss it at all.  If you want to make the gumbo thicker, you could probably add in some tapioca starch or something gluten free... but I didn't think that the lack of a roux detracted in any way shape or form. 


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Breakfast Fritattas

So my computer has been acting totally off... I think I have a virus, but I don't know how to fix it... so all my personal settings are gone, as well as a lot of pictures that have disappeared somehow... including a bunch of food pictures. :(  I'm hoping to find some way to fix it and restore everything!

Anyway, I just thought I'd put up a quick posting of a weekly staple for me and Curt.  Breakfast frittata!  It can be hard to find a quick breakfast that's paleo friendly.  I tend to wake up early and make an omelette of some sort.  Curt, however, prefers to get on the road early and eat breakfast at the office, so I've started making him these little egg concoctions to just heat up and eat!  They are SUPER easy and very versatile... I change up the ingredients every week! 

Breakfast Frittatas!

* 1 dozen eggs
* 1 package of bacon (I don't know how much bacon is in a package... half a lb?)
* 1 box of frozen spinach (you could use fresh)
* 1/2 lb of breakfast sausage
* 1/2 onion, diced
* salt and pepper to taste


First, I browned all of the sausage in a pan... this only took a few minutes.  After it was cooked all the way through, I removed it, but left the oil in the pan.  You have to cook all of the ingredients first, or else they won't cook all the way when you bake it later!

Next, I added in the bacon.  I let it crisp up (I like CRISPY bacon).  Again, after it was cooked, I removed it, crumbled it, and put it aside.  I drained most of the bacon grease, but left about a tablespoon in the pan so that I could cook the onions in it, rather than have to add butter or something similar.

I threw in the onion and sauteed that until it was soft - remember Curt doesn't like tasting the texture of onions! :) haha... cook them as much or as little as you like!

Once the onions were browned, I added in the frozen spinach.  You could take the time to thaw it all out if you would like... but the water would eventually evaporate anyway, and I didn't think ahead when making this and hadn't thawed it out yet!  Basically, you just keep pushing it around and poking at it with a wooden spoon until it thaws, cooks, and the water evaporates.

Then, I added the sausage and the bacon back in and mixed everything up so that it was all nice and combined.  I added in a pinch of two of pepper (my new favorite and highly underrated spice!)  I didn't really add in any salt because the bacon and the sausage already have enough in it.

Once everything was combined thoroughly, I put in evenly into a baking dish.  I don't remember how big it was, but use your judgement.  I've seen people put them in cupcake tins so you have individual little egg cupcakes, like my good friend Caroline did Here  But for Curt's sake, I just bake it all together and then cut it into big serving sizes.

I then cracked the whole dozen eggs into a big container and whip up the whole lot of it.  Again... I add in some pepper, just for fun!

Then, I poured the egg mixture over the "toppings" and used a fork to swirl everything up.  You don't want to have all the yummy stuff in clumps on the bottom and just egg on top (I don't think you do at least).  So just mix it all up and pop it in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes.  You just let it cook until you can stick a toothpick in it and have it come out clean - like you would for a cake. :)  When it cooks, it will get all big and puffy, so make sure that whatever pan you use, there is at least an inch between the top of the egg mixture and the edge of the pan or else you might have some messy overflow!

I took it out of the oven and voila!  Deliciousness.

Here's a picture of what Curt eats almost every morning for breakfast while reading the Wall Street Journal.  Now, you can have it with fruit, or veggies... whatever you'd like.  I tend to get full on just this.  I break each of these "pans" down into 4 servings, so on average, it's about 3 eggs a day with a bunch of veggies and meats mixed in.

This is really a super simple recipe.  You can mix and match ingredients, spices, and amounts and it almost always turns out great.  Here are a few of my favorite combinations:

~ crab, asparagus (Curt wasn't a fan of the asparagus in it though)
~ chicken, spinach, mushrooms
~ spinach, mushrooms, onions, feta cheese, bacon, oregano (Greekish)
~ spinach, sweet potatoes, bacon
~ bacon, mushrooms, onions
~ broccoli, spinach, and bacon
~ tomatoes, oregano, basil, chicken (Italiany theme)

Get creative! You can almost have a different fritatta each week!