Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Paleo Lamb Stew

With the weather getting colder, I'm always in the mood for soups and stews.  For me, it's just comfort food!  The other week, I was wanting to try a nice cold weather soup.  I had picked up some lamb from Whole Foods that week, intending to marinate and grill it... but with my penchant for soups, I decided to turn it into a lamb stew.  I hadn't made a lamb stew before, so I turned to pinterest.  There weren't any recipes that really caught my eye, so I decided to make up my own concoction.  So here's :
Paleo Lamb Stew
 * 1 1/2 lbs boneless lamb (I used butterflied leg of lamb)
* 1 qt beef stock
* 1 cup mushrooms
* 1 tbs thyme
* 1 small onion, diced
* 2 bay leaves
* 1/4 lb of bacon (3-4 strips)
* 1 cup of baby carrots- cut in half
* 1 cup white wine
* 4 cloves garlic, minced 

First, I cut the bacon into smallish chunks and threw them into the dutch oven to brown.  I had the heat on medium low so that it would cook slowly and not burn, but get nice and crispy. 

While the bacon was cooking, I cut up the lamb into bite sized pieces and seasoned it with salt and pepper.  Some people like big chunks of meat, so if you're one of those people, go ahead and make huge pieces.  I just typically take small bites and like small chunks of lamb.

After the bacon was nice and crispy, I took it out and set it aside, but left in the yummy bacon fat.  I added in the lamb and let it all brown up.  Also, I didn't trim any of the fat from the lamb because through the cooking process, it broke down and added delicious flavor to the meat.  Also, the fat is good for you since the lamb was grass fed. 

Once the meat was browned, I added in the onion and the garlic.  I just stirred everything up so that the onions and garlic were coated nicely with the bacon fat/lamb juices. I cooked it all until the onions were soft. 

Next, I added in the beef broth.  I used store bought broth because I didn't have any home made broth ready.  Anyway, I brought the whole thing to a boil, then, reduced the heat to medium low, covered it, and let it simmer for an hour and a half.

After the hour and a half, I added in the mushrooms, bay leaves, and carrots.  

I also added in the white wine and the reserved bacon.  Then, I covered it again and let it simmer for another half hour.  The veggies had a chance to soften up and soak up all the flavors from the stew.  

When it was all finished, the house smelled amazing.  The veggies were soft and the lamb was tender and delicious!

I loved this stew.  I'd never made lamb stew before, usually favoring the classic beef stew.  Next time, I might try adding in more veggies.  The stew was a little thin, which I like.  If you like a thicker soup, you can always thicken it up with a little bit of tapioca or potato flour.  Also, if you eat potatoes, you can serve the soup with a scoop of mashed potatoes to give it a bit more thickness. I hope you like it!!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Paleo Roasted Tomato Soup

The weather is starting to change.  I absolutely LOVE it.  Fall is, by far, my favorite season.  I love when the leaves start to change colors and the air becomes cool and crisp.  I also love the food that comes with fall. It's time to make the roasted pork loin, dishes with apples, anything with cinnamon, and soups!  I'm not a huge fan of tomatoes.  Actually, I'm not a fan of tomatoes at all.... but, I wanted to try making a roasted tomato soup.  I did some research and found a recipe from Tyler Florence.

I've talked before about how amazing local farmers markets are.  On Friday, I stopped by the farmer's market and picked up some good stuff, including all the ingredients to make this:

Paleo Roasted Tomato Soup

* 2 1/2 lbs mixed tomatoes - I used grape, heirloom, and some sort of orangey yellow thing
* 8 cloves of garlic
* 1/2 cup fresh basil
* 1 small yellow onion
* 1 qt chicken broth (that's why there's a frozen chicken in the background)
* 1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)
* 1/4 cup olive oil
* 1 tbs dried oregano
* salt and pepper

First, I made some chicken broth.  You definitely don't have to make it from scratch, but I think it's healthier and tastier if you do.  I didn't have a ton of extra veggies floating around, so I just threw the frozen stewing hen, a few black peppercorns, and a bay leaf into the pot with a bunch of water.  The stewing hen was frozen solid, so it didn't quite fit in the pot, but that's ok.  I turned the heat on high and brought the whole thing to a boil, then turned down the heat to medium low.  I let it simmer for a few hours.

Here's what it looked like after a few hours.  You can see how yellow the broth is from all the flavor.  Can you say "yum!"?   

I took the chicken out and shredded it to use in a different meal.  I also strained the broth and froze some of it since it made about 2-3 quarts. I put 1 quart back into the pot. 

Meanwhile, I cut up the tomatoes and onion into big chunks.  I also peeled and crushed the garlic and put it on a foil lined pan.  I tossed everything in the olive oil and sprinkled some salt and pepper over the whole thing. Then, I thew it in the oven at 450 for about 15-20 minutes, or until everything looked like it was starting to caramelize.  

  Here's how great the tomatoes and the onions and garlic looked after roasting.  It just brings out this delicious flavor! 

Next, I threw all of the roasted veggies in the pot with the chicken broth and the basil leaves.  I turned the heat to medium high and let everything simmer/boil until the liquid was reduced to about 1/3 of what it was. 

So here is what it looks like when it had reduced a bit.  When you reduce a soup, you're basically letting a lot of the water evaporate out.  This leaves all of the flavor in the soup and just makes a more concentrated flavor.   

At this point, I used an immersion blender and pureed everything up.  I'm sure it would have been good if all the tomatoes were cut into bite sized chunks, but, again, I'm not a fan of tomatoes and wanted it all to be pureed.  You could always throw everything into a blender if you don't have an immersion blender. 

After pureeing, I added in the heavy cream (which is totally optional if you don't like/can't handle dairy).  The original recipe didn't call for oregano, but when I tasted it, I thought it needed a bit more flavor, so I added in some dried oregano.  Next time, I'll add in the oregano when I add in the basil.   

So here's the finished product.  I added a little bit of parmesan cheese to the top, which just made it taste that much better.  The final result?  Curt LOVED it.  He's not a huge soup fan, but he definitely had a few bowls of it.  I loved it too.  It had the flavors of a yummy pasta sauce, but it was a soup.  I think it's a big success if you don't like tomatoes, but like this soup. It's just perfect for a crisp fall day!  It's also a great way to use up some of those summer tomatoes that you might have left over.



Sunday, September 23, 2012

Paleo Beef and Lamb Meatballs with goat cheese

My hubby is Italian, meaning that before we went paleo, he LOVED eating a big bowl of pasta with meat sauce, lasagna, ravioli, or any other form of pasta.  I loved it too, but we made a choice to change our eating habits.  One of the good things, though, is that meatballs are still a delicious paleo treat!  I just decided to get a bit creative.  Instead of serving the meatballs over spaghetti squash (which is definitely a yummy alternative), I served these over a bed of sauteed spinach.  I also made a cream sauce rather than a marinara sauce.  My little baby is still growing and needs the grass fed, full fat dairy, so I added a bit with the goat cheese and the cream sauce.  To make these "true paleo," just make a different sauce and don't add in the goat cheese.

Paleo Beef and Lamb Meatballs
 with Goat Cheese

* 1 lb ground beef
* 1 lb ground lamb
* 1 cup minced onions
* 2 egg whites
* 3 tbs minced garlic
* 1 tbs parsley flakes
* 1 tsp salt
* 1 tsp pepper
* 1 tbs garlic powder
* 1 tbs onion powder
* 8 oz goat cheese (optional)

For the sauce
* 1 pint heavy cream
* 1 tsp salt
* 1 tsp pepper
* 1 tbs garlic powder
* 1/2 cup parmesan cheese (grated)

First, I mixed pretty much everything up in a big glass bowl.  I mixed the ground beef, lamb (I like the taste of both mixed together, but you can certainly change it up with pork or just using all lamb or all beef... whatever you like). I also added in the onions, garlic, spices, and egg whites.  You could also use a whole egg, but I had egg whites that I needed to use. I just used my hands and mixed everything up.  Make sure not to work the mixture too much because the last thing you want is the meat turning rubbery and tough.

Most people add some sort of breadcrumb, white bread soaked in milk, or some other jazz... I've made several batches of meatballs without them and really haven't missed them.  These are moist enough without having to add bread to make them soft.

Once everything was thoroughly mixed, I took the goat cheese and put it into a small dish, getting it ready to stuff these bad little meatballs!  Like I said before, if you don't do well with dairy or don't like it, then just leave this part out.  The meatballs will still be delicious without the goat cheese.  You could probably use a different type of cheese here too.  Those little buccatini (mozzarella balls) would be perfect for this! I don't know why I didn't think of it before, but now I want to try it... I'll save that for another post, though!

Next, I took a small bit of goat cheese and rolled it into a little ball. 

Then, I took a pretty good amount of the meat mixture, rolled it into a ball, then flattened it so the goat cheese ball would fit in the middle.  

 Next, I put the goat cheese ball in the middle of the meat mixture.  I then wrapped the meat mixture around the goat cheese.  You have to make sure that there is enough meat to cover the whole thing because you don't want the goat cheese to melt and leak out of the meatball when you cook it.

I just repeated this process until I was out of goat cheese and meat mixture.  I lined them all up on a foil lined cookie sheet to get all situated.   

These meatballs turned out to be HUGE, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. 

You can bake these in the oven, but I like mine browned on the stove.  I didn't even need to add any butter or oil to the pan because the meat had enough.  I just turned the stove to Medium High and threw in a few meatballs at a time.  I let them brown and kept moving them so they would cook evenly and not burn.

 So here are the yummy little meatballs, just waiting to be eaten.

As I mentioned before, I served these over a bed of sauteed spinach.  I just threw the fresh spinach in the same pan that I cooked the meatballs.  That way, it didn't need any oil or butter.  It just cooked in the leftover juices from the meatballs.... talk about delicious flavor!

Here's what they look like with the cream sauce.  If you want to make the sauce, it's super easy.  Basically, you put the heavy cream, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a small saucepan and heat everything on Medium heat.  Keep stirring it all so that the sauce won't burn on the bottom (which can happen quickly if you aren't careful).  Eventually, the cheese melts and you have a yummy alfredo sauce that is amazing with the spinach and the meatballs.

I loved this dish.  It was delicious and it was relatively simple.  The best thing about this is that you can double or triple the batch of meatballs and freeze them before you cook them.  Our little Peanut is due to arrive in two weeks (so any time now).  I'm planning to make a batch of these suckers and freeze them so we'll have some food during those first few hectic weeks. 


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Paleo Mexican Chicken Soup

It's always important to eat healthy and to nourish your body. Being preggers, I'm even more conscious of what I eat.  I definitely want our little Peanut to grow healthy and strong.  One of the best things to eat is bone broth.  Rather than buying canned chicken broth, it's super easy and super cheap to make it yourself. 

With it being summer, I'm not too terribly in the mood for super thick stews, but more brothy soups.  I've always loved Chicken Tortilla Soup, however, the way I always used to make it was filled with corn, beans, tortilla chips, and cheese.  Being pretty much paleo now, I can't really eat the corn, beans, or tortilla chips.  So.... I decided to create this recipe for Mexican Chicken Soup!

Paleo Mexican Chicken Soup

My baby bump is so big that I can't hide it from the camera anymore...
 you can see the black bump at the bottom of the picture! sorry :)

* 1 whole free range chicken
* 1 tbs fat (bacon fat, butter, olive oil) - I used bacon fat
* 1 red onion, minced
* 2 cans of diced tomatoes
* 1 zucchini
* 4 tbs minced garlic
* 1 jalapeno
* 1 poblano pepper
* 1 red pepper, diced
*1/2 cup of chpped mushrooms
* 1 small can of diced green chiles
* 2 tbs ground cumin
* 1 tbs paprika
*1 tbs chili powder
* 1 tbs. garlic powder
* * 1 tbs dried oregano

The first thing I did was chop up all the veggies and garlic. I wanted to cut all of my veggies up pretty small.  You can definitely leave some of the veggies in bigger chunks, but when I eat soup, I like having a little bit of a bunch of different veggies on my spoon.  But, if you're one of those people who likes big chunks, go ahead and leave big pieces of them in the soup!   

Once all of the veggies were cut, I but the bacon fat into a big soup pot and turned the heat to medium.  Once the fat was melted, I threw the veggies into the pot and let everything start to soften. 

Notice that I left the jalapeno in big chunks.  I wasn't sure how spicy everything would be, so I left them big enough to pull out just in case!

Next, I put the whole chicken into the same pot as the veggies.  Make sure you take all of the organs and stuff like that out of the chicken!  I did season it a little bit withsome salt and pepper, but that's it! After I put the chicken in, I filled the pot with regular old water.  You are essentially making your own chicken stock.

I then stirred up the veggies a tiny bit so that they weren't squished under the chicken.  Then, I covereed it all up with the lid and turned the heat to medium high.  Once the soup came to a boil, I turned the heat down to medium low and let it simmer for a few hours.  If you want, I'm sure that you could throw the whole thing into a crock pot and leave it for a few hours. 

After the soup simmerred for a few hours, the whole chicken should be thoroughly cooked.  I took the chicken out of the pot (very carefully!!!) Then, I let the chicken cool because it was super hot after being in soup for hours!  

Once the chicken was cooled, I shredded all of the whole thing.  This was the part where the dog sat drooling and staring at me for a while.  :)  Once it was all shredded, I threw it back into the pot with the diced tomatoes.  At this point, I had a pretty nice chicken and vegetable soup, but I wanted the yummy Mexican flavors... so I added in the spices - cumin, chili powders, oregano, paprika, and garlic.   I let everything simmer for a little bit longer so the flavors would have a chance to meld together.

So here's the soup!  The whole thing was sooo flavorful!  I garnished the whole thing with some chopped up avocado. It wsa delicious.   I thought it was great and will definitely be making it again.  It was full of vegetables, chicken, and all of the great nutrients of the bone broth.  I loved it and hope you do too!


Friday, August 3, 2012

Super Simple Slightly Spicy Shrimp Skewers

With my pregnancy, I've been SUPER lucky to not really have any morning sickness!  I've heard horror stories of friends who are sick every day... I guess this baby is just cooperating and taking it easy on me.  While I never actually felt sick, I did have a few food aversions.  The idea of protein just grossed me out.  I could only eat a few bites of chicken or a tiny little slice of steak.  This could really be a problem for someone who typically only eats protein and veggies!  Luckily, even when I was feeling sick, I could almost ALWAYS eat shrimp!  My local Whole Foods sells frozen wild caught key west shrimp.  I'm not really sure what a key west shrimp is, but it was the only frozen option that was wild caught. Each week, I would buy at least one huge bag of frozen shrimp, so that if I was feeling queasy, I could quickly thaw out and cook up a few shrimp.  This recipe is one of the most simple recipes ever!

Slightly Spicy Grilled Shrimp Skewers

*  1 lb of shrimp - preferably wild caught
* 6 cloves of garlic
* 2 tsp paprika
* 1 tsp chili powder
* 1 tsp red chili flakes
* 1 tsp cumin
* 2 tbs olive oil

Some people like to have shrimp with the tail on because it makes a nice little handle when you go to pick them up.  Curt, however, doesn't need or want an extra step between him and food, so I usually just take the tail off and devein the shrimp while I'm  at it. 

 Next, you just throw all of the ingredients in the bowl with the shrimp and mix it all up so that the shrimp have a nice coating.  I usually use my hands because, for me, that's the best way to make sure that everything is thoroughly mixed and that every little shrimp is covered in the flavor.

I let the shrimp marinate for a few hours.  I prepped this in the morning, then just let it sit through the whole day and grilled up the little suckers at night.  You probably don't need to marinate them very long at all since it's more of a dry marinade and would probably stick to the shrimp even if it was only for a few minutes.  

That night when I got home, I took the shrimp out of the fridge and started skewering the bad boys.  I'm sure that if you didn't feel like skewering and grilling, you could just bake them, or saute them in a little bit of fat over the stove.  Coconut oil or some butter would probably work just fine.  I like mine grilled though since it's summer... how many times throughout the year can you really enjoy grilling, right?!

So here are my little skewers all ready to go.  I turned on the grill and let it heat up a bit.  

This is the best part about grilling shrimp.... it only takes a few minutes to cook!  I let them sit for about 3 minutes on each side.  You just want to make sure that you keep an eye on them because overcooked shrimp are rubbery and dry!

So here they are! Yummy grilled shrimp!

I served them with some creamed spinach. Yes, I know that dairy isn't paleo, however, when you're preggers, full fat dairy from grass fed cows is great for the little one... so I've been loading up! If you don't do dairy, you can always find a billion other sides.... some cauliflower rice, sauteed spinach, or even a green salad would be great with these skewers.

I loved this dish.  It was super easy, it was fast, it was delicious, and it filled me up while providing me with some protein.