5 Great Paleo Recipes for Early Fall

5 Great Paleo Recipes for Early Fall

1: PaleOMG; 2: Against All Grain; 3: Detoxinista

These are the Paleo recipes we loved this summer and will continue to use as long as the grill isn’t covered by snow! These recipes maximize fresh ingredients and flavour “wow”s:

One. 4th of July Triple Protein Burger – PaleOMG

We haven’t decked out this burger quite like Juli has in this recipe (though why exactly, I’m not sure – it looks delish!). Mostly, we use her spice combo to wow our taste buds and our guests, whether or not we add cheese and bacon to the burgers. You’ll never want to add egg or bread crumbs to your homemade burger patties again!

Two. Grain-free Hamburger Buns – Against all Grain

Pair those burgers with these simple and tasty grain-free burger buns by Against All Grain. They don’t take long to make and they taste great.

Three. Grilled Zucchini – Food.com

This is the recipe we started with, but now I just sort of throw whatever into a ramekin with grapeseed or avocado oil. I always include salt and fresh pepper, and usually garlic powder and some dried chili flakes for a bit of kick. Or Italian seasoning. Then I brush the mixture generously onto both sides of the sliced zucchini and lay the slices onto a hot grill. I’m pretty sure I won over my non-zucchini-lover with this one!

Four. Flourless Chocolate Cake with whipped cream and berries – Detoxinista

You couldn’t imagine a simpler, richer, healthier, more moist, more chocolatey cake! We’ve served this to a few different non-Paleo groups and people have always gobbled up seconds! My favourite way to serve it is alongside some whipped cream (either with coconut milk or good-quality heavy cream) and fresh berries.

Five. Perfectly Seasoned Chicken – Well Fed by Melissa Joulwan

All of these recipes are simple, but this is the simplest and easiest to remember by far. And you will use it over and over and over and over! It’s great for both BBQ and oven cooking.

Grab your room-temp chicken (breasts or thighs, whatever) and generously (and I do mean generously!) sprinkle the following on all sides:

  • salt
  • garlic powder
  • paprika
  • freshly ground pepper

Oven: Place seasoned chicken pieces either on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or a glass or ceramic baking dish. Roast uncovered at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes.

BBQ: Place seasoned chicken pieces on preheated grill at approximately 475 degrees Fahrenheit. Flip after 7-10 minutes to get grill marks on the other side and for even cooking.

There you have them: five easy, Paleo, and fool-proof recipes that your guests will be raving about and begging you for! You’re welcome.

Happy eating!

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Whole30 Egg Salad

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I’m just going to jump in cold with this one, even though I haven’t written anything fresh here for over a year (don’t judge).

I’ve had a request for my exact Whole30 egg salad recipe, so I am happily acquiescing. I didn’t actually know my exact recipe, so I had to make it the other day to come up with an approximation that would work.

Without further ado, Whole30-compliant egg salad:

3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp. mayonnaise (make your own with this recipe)

1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp. paprika
sprinkle dried dill
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together and dig in!

Optional (and flavourful) add-ins: onion (of any type), celery or cucumber (for a bit of crunch), avocado! This last one should really not be in the optional section, because avocado makes everything better!

Adjust proportions to taste. Get creative. Try omitting the Dijon and paprika and adding curry powder or paste.

And let me know how you make out or what your other ideas are!

Avocado

Playing Favourites: Avocado

Did you know that there are “good fats” that we should be eating?

Coconut is one. Almond butter is another. They’re both pretty delicious.

But my favourite is avocado.

Avocado

Last night, I mashed up an avocado and squeezed some lemon juice into it to use as a sauce on a baked pork chop.

This morning, I cut up an avocado and a tomato and ate them in a bowl with two fried (Gingerich organic) eggs and salt and pepper on top.

I was introduced to avocado when I lived in Mexico. There, avocado is made into guacamole (which we all know and love), blended with peppers and other ingredients into a creamy salsa, sliced and put on sandwiches and hamburgers, blended with thick cream as a sauce for flautas, and so much more.

Avocado finds its way into my salads as well. Its creamy smoothness is a nice counterpart to something like onion or garlic.

A simple and absolutely delicious way to enjoy avocado is to make your own guacamole. You have probably had it at restaurants or purchased the powdered mix at stores, but I’m here to tell you that you should be ashamed of yourself. That is, if you have never tried to make it from scratch, from fresh ingredients, you should be ashamed of yourself. Please disregard this if you don’t even like avocado at all.

To make your own guacamole, you need a handful of ingredients:

guacamole ingredients

I usually use at least 2 avocados. You’ll want to add more if you’re making this for a party.

First, choose avocados that are dark, almost black, in colour, and have some give to them when you squeeze them gently. I would recommend buying avocados at least a day ahead of when you want to make your guacamole, to give the avocados a chance to ripen a bit more. The worst is when you crack open an unripe avocado and realize there’s no way you can mash it with a fork.

Cut the avocados in half, like the one pictured. Remove the pit. Scoop the avocado out of the skin with a spoon and into a bowl large enough to mix all of the ingredients.

Mash the avocado with a fork until any lumps are obliterated.

At this point, I usually add a few dashes of lime juice (or lemon juice if you don’t have lime), a few shakes of salt (I use free-running sea salt), and I press one clove of garlic into the bowl, then mix well. Then, I add finely chopped onion, diced tomato (cut as large or as small as you like. I like it chunky, but others prefer it smooth), and chopped cilantro.

Mix well.

Add more salt and lime juice to taste, and even more garlic if you’re that kind of person. For heat, you could add some finely chopped jalapeño or habanero or other hot pepper.

Et voila! Thick, healthy yummyness that you can dip raw veggies into, spread on a sandwich, put in a quesadilla or taco, eat with tortilla chips… the list goes on.

(photo source) (I didn’t want to make my own guacamole just to take a picture for this post. Sometime in the future I’ll make some and take a picture and put it here. 🙂 )

There are many other ways to use avocado. The sky is the limit!

Here are a few recipes I would like to try:

Ingredients

Whip it! How to Make {heathy} Mayonnaise.

My mayo!
My mayo!

I say may-uh-NAYze instead of MAY-uh-nayze. Does that make me weird?

Not that anybody but my boyfriend cares. He likes to make fun of me a wee tiny bit about it. Okay, truth is he doesn’t care, either.

Where was I?

As part of my newly turned-over healthy leaf, I am not eating any of the six store-bought salad dressings in my fridge. But I am eating lots of salad.

Last week, I made my own balsamic vinaigrette, tried it, enjoyed it, then promptly started wishing for other dressings. Specifically,  creamy dressings like Caesar and ranch.

(Mysteriously, I can’t find the recipe that I used for the balsamic vinaigrette, but here’s a great guide to dressings the Paleo way)

Now that I’d done hours upon hours of Internet research into Whole30 recipes, I was pretty sure that I could concoct something.

Most of those somethings started with mayonnaise.

Crap. I don’t have “kosher” mayonnaise.

Light bulb. I can make my own.

Duh.

I remember my mom making mayonnaise, and knew I had her recipe somewhere. My mom’s sister Hazel says that Grandma  would be proud of me, because she used to make her own mayonnaise when they were growing up.

Mom's Blender Mayo Recipe
Mom's "Blender Mayonnaise" Recipe, as she typed it on our first family computer (MS-DOS!)

Mom’s wasn’t quite up to my health par, though pretty close. Following this very helpful recipe that I will refer you to for tips and what-to-do-ifs, I bought a fairly cheap Extra Light Tasting olive oil to use instead of salad or vegetable oil.

You’ll notice that my mom’s recipe is a fast recipe. 15 seconds fast to be precise! I’m going to lead you (as I learned from my new friend Melissa) in a much slower direction. Hours slow. But worth it slow.

Ingredients
Ingredients (Check back here tomorrow to learn where I got this beautiful big brown egg!)

So. What you’ll need:

  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice (or vinegar would work as well)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard* (pretty sure there’s stuff in that I shouldn’t eat, but I decided I didn’t care)
  • 1 1/4 cup light-tasting olive oil
  • A blender or food processor that can operate at a low speed

Possibly the most important thing you need to do is make sure that everything is at room temperature. Everything. I say again: nothing should be cold. Go ahead and leave the eggs and lemon juice out for a few hours!

Another very important thing to remember is that this recipe works best if you think LOW and SLOW. For the ingredients to emulsify, they need time. So, set your food processor on low and keep it there.

SLOW: In mayonnaise-making, as in many other aspects of life (though not all), slow and steady wins the race. Blogger Melissa says it very well when she says to pour “the skinniest drizzle you can manage and still have movement in the oil”. Why would I try to re-write that helpful visual? So I won’t.

Now you’ve been prepared. Here are your steps. Go:

1. Make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature.

2. Make sure all of your utensils are very clean. (Yes, it matters. So I’m told.)

3. Crack the egg into the blender. Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar. Let them hang out there for maybe 30 minutes to make sure they are good and room-temp.

4. Add the salt and dry mustard and 1/4 cup oil and blend until well-mixed, 20-30 seconds. Use your judgement.

5. Do some hand exercises to get ready for several minutes of slow and steady pouring. I kid you not. My hands shook for several minutes afterwards.

6. Get the machine going on low. Slowly and steadily pour the remaining 1 cup of oil into the whirring mixture. After a few minutes, you will notice the colour get lighter and you will actually hear the machine start to work harder as the soon-to-be-mayo emulsifies.

7. Remember my mom’s tip: if when all the oil has been added, a pool of it has gathered at the top, increase the speed to high for 3 seconds.

8. Turn the machine off and give your hand a rest.

9. Pat yourself on the back.

Voila! You should have a very smooth and creamy, slightly yellow mayonnaise.

Here's what it should look like, more or less
Here's what it should look like, more or less

So. Room temperature ingredients. Light-tasting olive oil (I repeat: don’t get extra virgin). Low setting on the food processor or blender. Slowly pour the oil in.

Do you feel like you deserve the Suzie Homemaker crown? You should!

Updated March 28, 2012: If your mayo flops, follow my mom’s advice: pour out 3/4 of your mixture into another container, add one more (room temp) egg to the remaining 1/4, blend, then slowly add the rest of the oily gloppy remainder. After the initial heartbreak of the flop, you should be delighted to find your mayo more delicious than you imagined!

Of course, for me, the mayonnaise wasn’t enough. I wanted salad dressing.

After some more Internet searching, I came up with an idea for a ranch dressing from this very out-of-date but informative page.

Instead of adding dried dill and garlic separately, I realized I had an Epicure dill seasoning mix in my cupboard that already had garlic in it. Huzzah!

Ranch dressing with homemade mayo
Ranch dressing with homemade mayo

Whole30-friendly Ranch Dressing:

1/2 cup “Paleo” mayonnaise
1/2 cup almond or coconut milk* (I used coconut)
1 Tbsp. dry dill weed
1 clove garlic, chopped finely
ground pepper to taste

Use as a dip or a dressing. Will keep for… a while. (Use discretion, people!)

Now you can feel even better about your salads and dips… or whatever it is you use your mayonnaise for.

Bravo!

*Note: I learned after I made this mayo and wrote this post that I should be avoiding sulfites as well as carageenans and MSG. The mustard that I used  did not have an ingredients list, but I can be fairly certain it contained one of these three common additives. My bad. Also, some coconut products contain sulfites as well. Basically, if there are more than a few ingredients, or if there is anything listed in the ingredients that you can’t pronounce, look for something else.

black rice pudding

Thai Sticky Black Rice Pudding

If you’ve never had Thai black rice pudding, you really must either make some, or go find a chef to make you some. The black rice doesn’t look like it could possibly be delicious, but each grain sort of pops in your mouth, like a tapioca pearl (bead? I don’t know what you call them) that is sweet and smooth and a bit chewy… mmmm!

black rice pudding
Thai sticky black rice pudding, ready to eat!

The chef/owner at one of my favourite restaurants, which also happens to be a seasonal place of work for me, the ArtSee Cafe & Bistro in Bayfield, Ontario, gave me some black rice to try to make my own, since I love his so much. He makes a mango sticky black rice pudding for dessert when he makes Thai food for his Culinary Expeditions dinners, and it is to die for. Or at least drool over. The other servers and I always beg a taste.

Finally, months after I put the rice away in my cupboard, I decided to complement my boyfriend’s yellow Thai curry with a black sticky rice pudding. So I did an Internet search and came up with an easy recipe.

First, put 1 cup of black rice in a big saucepan with 3 cups of water and 1/4 tsp. salt.

black rice
Look at that! Black rice!

Bring it to a boil, then let it simmer, tightly covered, on low for 45 minutes. The rice will be cooked, but still wet.

steamy put full of black rice
Steaming pot of black rice...

Add these ingredients:

1/4 tsp. saltcoconut milk1/2 sugar
Quarter of a teaspoon of salt, a half cup of sugar, and a cup and a half of coconut milk.

Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.

spoonful of pudding
Spoonful of pudding

And voila: delicious!!

The version that the chef at the ArtSee serves includes pieces of mango stirred in at the end, but a friend of mine and fellow sticky rice pudding-lover says that almost any fruit would be good. Try it and let me know what you think!

Yummy Thai black rice pudding!
Yummy Thai black rice pudding!

The recipe:

1 cup black rice (which you should be able to find at an Asian foods store)
3 cups water
1/2 tsp. salt (divided in half)
1/2 cup sugar
1 (13 – 15 oz/400 mL) can unsweetened coconut milk, stirred well

Bring rice and water and 1/4 tsp. salt to boil in a large heavy saucepan.
Reduce heat, cover tightly, and let simmer for 45 minutes. Rice should be cooked but still wet.

Stir in sugar, a “scant” 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1 1/2 cups coconut milk.
Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thick and rice is tender but still slightly chewy (think “al dente”), about 30 minutes.

Remove from heat and cool to warm or room temperature, stirring occasionally, at least 30 minutes.

Just before serving, stir pudding and divide into portions (up to 8). Stir remaining coconut milk and drizzle over pudding.

Keeps, covered, up to 5 days.

(Recipe source)

Recipes and Memories: Mom’s Cream of Broccoli Soup

My mother used to make the most amazing cream of broccoli soup. Everyone loved it. Except those that didn’t like broccoli soup, I suppose. But a nice bowl of thick creamy broccoli soup, topped with cheese and salt and pepper… mmm!

I have wanted to try to make mom’s broccoli soup for years, but have never gotten around to it – until today.

As with most of her best recipes, this one was typed and printed back in the nineties, on our family’s first computer, a good old MS-DOS version with a crude word processing program.

Broccoli Soup Recipe

Of course, 4 servings was never enough for my family, so this recipe was always quadrupled.

First step: Broccoli.

broccoli bunch

Rinse. And chop:

chopped broccoli

I don’t think it needed to be chopped so fine… but live and learn.

The recipe calls for 2 cups, so naturally I chopped 8.

measured broccoli

I didn’t intend to quadruple it… but I did. I have always done better at cooking for several rather than one or two.

Put in a big pot with hot water, chicken bouillon (I used packets instead of cubes), a bay leaf, and chopped onion.

bay leaves

Bring to a boil and allow to simmer until tender, about 15 minutes.

broccoli soup stock

Meanwhile, start the white sauce that will make the soup creamy. Melt butter in a saucepan:

melting butter

Add milk or cream to the butter. I only had skim milk, which I wouldn’t recommend. Or, if I were to use it again, I would use less than it calls for, so the white sauce is thicker.

milk

Then, stir in some flour. I only had whole wheat flour, which, again, is less than ideal for a soup like this, but I feel better knowing it’s at least healthier.

flour

When the broccoli stock is tender, puree it in a blender, then add the stock to the white sauce and reheat.

soup cooking

All that remains is to serve and enjoy!

bowl of soup

I ate mine with grated sharp cheddar, and salt and pepper.

Mmm.

Here’s the recipe so you can enjoy it yourself:

recipe

 

 

Mom’s Way… to make Apple Crisp

Tonight, I bragged on Facebook about how much I love having my mom’s recipes.

For the uninitiated, my mom died of breast cancer in January of 2008. Her passing changed my life in many ways, one of them being that I had to get my own place for the first time. When my siblings and I split up my mom’s belongings, I somehow ended up with a mother lode: her recipes!

Mom wouldn’t have called herself a good cook, but she was. She had the ability to combine everyday ingredients into unforgettable dishes. Friends and family still ask me for her soup and casserole recipes.

When she found a recipe that she liked, she held onto it, adapted it to make it better, and used it over and over again, so that the best of her findings were locked into our (her kids’) culinary memories. The best potato salad? Mom’s. The best homemade macaroni & cheese? Mom’s. The best broccoli soup? You guessed.

Time and again, I get inspired to try to re-create one of those memorable recipes. I dive into books and boxes and folders of recipes, looking until I find what I’m looking for. Someday I’ll organize them so I can easily locate the one I’m looking for, but until then, when I find the recipe I need, I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot.

Tonight, I wanted to make apple crisp for my boyfriend. He’s a lucky man to get introduced to all of mom’s recipes! The last time I tried to make him this dish, I winged it and it wasn’t as good as I remembered, so I knew I had to find mom’s recipe.

apple crisp

It was in the file folder where all of her most recently-used recipes are. Jackpot!!

Sharing my excitement on Facebook led to a request for the recipe. And why not? So here it is.

I should note that this recipe actually came to my mom, Doreen, from her sister, my aunt Hazel, from whom a lot of mom’s best baking recipes came.

Well, enjoy!

Recipe:

Fruit Mix:

  • 4 cups apples (peeled & sliced)
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Topping: (double this if you’re using a 9 x 13″ pan)

  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats (Mom used large flake oats)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup melted butter

Directions:

  • Combine apples and sugar in a buttered pan (9 x 9″)
  • Combine topping ingredients, mix until crumbly
  • Sprinkle over apples
  • Bake at 370 (F) for 30 minutes or until apples are tender

Makes 6 servings.

 

How Freakin’ Fabulous Am I? (rhetorical question)

There are a few things I’d like to say:

1. I suck for having procrastinated from writing for ever so long. You may not care, but I know the truth: I officially suck for not taking the time to record all of the freakin’ fabulous thoughts I’ve had over the last several months. Some of the blame can be laid on the following inconsequential pastimes: work, two bands plus other music projects, and being there for my family.

2. While I initially anticipated the arrival of winter with fear and trepidation, now that it has been asserting its climatic domination of my area for weeks, I’ve mostly gotten used to it. I had some noteworthy help from a few contributors: the Fionas (my amazing knee-high, sexy black leather boots), elbow-length black leather gloves, snow tires, and CAA, with an honourable mention to hemp hearts and espresso.

3. At the risk of sounding blasphemous, I have a new bible that has very little to do with spirituality but everything to do with great taste. As happens with many great things, I stumbled upon this book in a local store that I hadn’t set foot in for a long while, and I can’t get enough of it. My new bible is written by What Not To Wear‘s Clinton Kelly, and it’s called: Freakin’ Fabulous: How to Dress, Speak, Behave, Eat, Drink, Entertain, Decorate, and Generally be Better Than Everyone Else.

Clinton’s approach is very humourous, but truly, truly fabulous. These pages are chock-full of common-sensical advice, from how to match patterns to how-to recipes for great appetizers to good manners. I love it, and possibly not platonically! I’ve been accused of being too proper, caring too much about grammar, and being picky about lighting, and now I find myself vindicated by Mr. Kelly. Alleluia!

I simply can’t leave it at that, I’m sorry. This book will likely stay on my coffee table for decades to come, and all of you who care will be able to leaf through it and glean its wisdom for yourself. Honestly, where else can you find all of this basic good advice in one very fun, well-published, entertaining format?

This is the book that I’ve been waiting to discover for all of my adult life. Or, at least since I discovered how fabulous one can be and my true potential for achieving it.

A great paragraph:

When throwing a party, you must sanitize and guest-proof your bathroom. If the bathroom that will be used by your guests is not absolutely spotless, you will quickly get a reputation as a dirty birdy. And then, nobody will eat the food you’ve made because they’re afraid of catching hepatitis.

Just sayin’: great writing, right?

Here’s another tidbit:

If chopping onions makes you cry, hold a few unlit matches in your mouth. The sulfur is supposed to absorb some of the onion fumes. You can also hold a slice of white bread in your mouth. Either way, you’ll look like an idiot. Also, try throwing the onion in the freezer for a bit before you chop it. The colder the onion, the less fumes. Personally, I don’t mind a good cry. In fact, if I cry while chopping the onions, I’ll run to the bathroom mirror and recite one of my favorite lines from Poltergeist: “Don’t you touch my babies!!!” It’s the part where the kids are being sucked into the bedroom closet for the second time and JoBeth Wiliams is at HER WIT’S END! It’s very dramatic. (Hi, JoBeth, if you’re reading this!!!)

I mean, come on! Mixing great advice with self-deprecating humour and pop-culture references? What could be better in a self-help book?

4. I have to go now. I have some more reading to do before I’ll be ready to host any freakin’ fabulous Christmas parties. Ta Ta.

Treasure Chest: Skor Wannabes

This is a very simple recipe that always (well, almost always) delights the palates of those that try them… and now you can evoke culinary bliss on your friends, family, and guests!

Skor Wannabes (aka “Cracker Candy”, “Bark”, etc.)

Salted Saltine (Soda) Crackers
1 cup butter (don’t use margarine, people – stick with the real stuff!)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 F.
Cover 2 small/medium or 1 large jelly roll pan(s) (cookie sheets with sides) in aluminum foil.
Lay as many crackers as possible on the pan(s).
Melt together over low/medium heat the butter and sugar, stirring regularly. Once they are both melted, you will find that the butter sorts of sits on top of the thicker sugar. Stir agressively until they are blended smoothly.
Pour butter/sugar mixture onto cookie sheets, dividing evenly between the pans. Spread evenly over crackers. NOTE: For a crunchier result, just barely cover crackers with the butter/sugar mixture. For a more chewy result, be generous with it!
Bake for about 7 minutes or until it’s all bubbling lively!
Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over cracker/candy layer, use butter knife to spread ’til melted.
When slightly cooler, place in freezer until completely hardened. Break into pieces, store in airtight container.
Serve and enjoy!

Treasure Chest: Super Easy Tortilla Chip Dip

So I had this random thought that perhaps there is other wisdom I might share with the elite few that peruse these pages and they can then pass it on to others as they deem fit.

And I was just making some Super Easy Tortilla Chip Dip and thought of all you that haven’t been so blessed in your life:

Put a big spoonful of Cheese Whiz (or something similar) in a microwaveable bowl and microwave just long enough for it to melt.

Add some globs of your favourite salsa (proportionately, you probably want a little more than the cheese) and stir.

Enjoy with your tortilla chips of choice, or be creative and use to dip other things!