Saturday, September 13, 2014

Almond Satay

As I was perusing recipes this morning, I ran across Satay....a wonderful Thai peanut sauce to serve with grilled chicken...very Thai....very good.



Except, on Whole 30 peanuts are a no no. As is the soy sauce and brown sugar. Both prohibited on Whole 30. So I wondered long and hard...could I make a Satay using almond butter instead?
Why not? I thought. It may not be as sweet as the original peanut satay, but I've been doing Whole 30 for a while now and sweetness is not a requirement any longer. I'm happy to say I prefer flavorful over sweet, any day.


So I got to work finding a satay recipe that had minimal sugars in it, and ended up taking the best of four separate satay recipes and combining them then  adding my own touches.


I am happy to report this satay turned out beautifully. The fiance loved it (who is also doing Whole30) and remarked that while it may not be as sweet as the original, it definitely is a keeper. According to him, there's a huge shortage of dipping sauces for Whole30 participants. And he's right.
This satay is smooth and flavorful and has a bit of a kick. So what's not to love about that?



Almond Satay

1 T olive oil
1 T Sesame Oil
1 tsp Red pepper flakes (more if you like it really spicy)
1/2 - 2/3 c diced white onion (if you like onion flavor, use 2/3)
3 cloves garlic, minced (I used a fine grater)
1 1/2 t minced ginger (or 1 tsp ground)
1/2 tsp Franks Red Hot Sauce (optional)

Add to a small pot and cook over medium heat until onions are tender. Maybe 5 mins.
Then add:

1 T balsamic vinegar
1/2 c Almond butter (no sugar)
1/2 cup water*
1 small tomato, diced really really fine
2 tsp lime juice

Mix well,,,,use a stick blender if you have one. If not, you can use a food processor or Ninja type blender.
* water is to thin out the sauce as almond butter tends to be very thick. You can add a little more or a little less, depending on how fluid you wish your sauce to be.

Once blended, serve warm (or cool) with slices of grilled chicken. Fabulous!


Friday, September 12, 2014

I love chicken. I do. Really. I mean, I love chicken a lot.  Especially chicken breasts. Oh la la! Many people dislike chicken because it is plain. Oh Contraire!
What I've found is that chicken takes on the flavor of what you cook with it.
Some people complain that chicken breasts are dry. Nope! Wrong again. (Well, I guess they *could* be right....if they cook it too long.)
Treat chicken nice, and it will be a thing of beauty that will melt in your mouth.

Being on Whole30, chicken is a blessing because it is low in calories. Unfortunately, you are almost relegated to dry rubs and grilling. Not so any longer!


Tonight I was craving something a little on the sweet side. But I also wanted it a tad bit spicy. And once I rolled those tasty tidbits in unsweetened coconut? Oh my giddy aunt what a treat!
Served with a side of steamed broccoli and dinner was easy peasy.

Healthy Coconut Chicken Bites

1 chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
2 eggs
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1 tsp Franks Red Hot Sauce
1/4 cup arrowroot powder

(serves 2-3 people)

After cutting up the chicken, set up an assembly line. Three bowls. One with the arrowroot powder, one with eggs and the other with the coconut.

Add the hot sauce to the eggs and beat until combined.
Then, coat the chicken in the arrowroot powder, dip in the egg, and finally the coconut.
Place pieces onto parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees until chicken is no longer pink, about 30-35 minutes.

Serve with a side of your favorite vegetable and a salad and you have a wonderful Whole30, gluten free, paleo dinner!



Saturday, September 6, 2014

I had a whole chicken just sitting in my freezer for the *longest* time. I figured I had better cook that baby up! So I slow roasted it in the oven over a four-hour period. It was so darn good! I immediately realized my mistake...I should have taken pictures!

This time...mind you, it's only been two days since I made the first roasted chicken, and today sent my fiance go get another whole chicken for me to roast for pictures....I took pictures! The chicken comes out so tender, it is already falling off the bone when you pull it out of the oven.

Being on the Whole30 Lifestyle, I knew I couldn't add anything unapproved. And why would I want to? This is more than enough food for the two of us, and two growing boys.


Chicken in the Pot

Chicken immediately out of the oven
When I made my first roasted chicken this way, I was basically 'winging' it. (Get it? I crack myself up!) I knew I wanted potatoes, but I also needed a veggie too. So I cut up some new red and yellow potatoes, onions, carrots, and yes, even some apples, and tossed them in the bottom of the pot. Here I'm using a fabulous enameled cast iron dutch oven my mother bought me for my birthday last year. Then I set the chicken on top of the taters.

I needed some spice to this, so I added some dried rosemary (I dehydrate my own), ground sage, and tossed on some whole peppercorns.
I put the lid on it and tossed it into the oven at 250 degrees for a minimum of 3 hours.


Falling off the bone already!

For the last hour / hour and a half of cooking, I upped the oven to 300 degrees, keeping the lid on at all times. After about 3.5 - 4 hours, I switched it to a LO broil, took the lid off, and let it toast up the top for about 4 minutes.
It came out fabulously. Tender, juicy, flavorful and the apples added just a hint of sweetness. I also used arrowroot powder to thicken the juices into a nice sauce.

Such a pretty sight with new red potatoes and some sauce

Is this not just gorgeous looking? Yeah, I know I have no carrots on my plate. I don't like cooked carrots (just raw). But trust me...you can totally throw in carrots and eat them too. Just not me. :)

Don't you wish you could eat this right now?
 I love this picture...so dark and mysterious...ok- no, that's just the afternoon sun leaving my kitchen. Sorry. But it is still tasty, shadows or not!
Oh, so pretty and tender.

 Here's a better picture without the shadows... all sitting nice and pretty and ready to be gobbled up. I really think this dish might be on my weekly rotation I love it *that* much. Oh, and the best news? You can use the leftover bones and tidbits of meat to make bone broth. Winning!
All pretty with potatoes, onions, apples and sauce

RECIPE:
(Side note- I'm sure you could do this in a crockpot, I just haven't tried it so I'm not sure how it will turn out- I'm assuming fabulous...just give it at least 8 hours instead of 4.5 with an oven.)

1 whole chicken
8 or so new red potatoes (and yellow if you like variety), quartered
1 onion, quartered
1 (or 2) apples, peeled, cored and diced (keep the core! and toss it in too! remove it before eating)
4 carrots, peeled and sliced lengthwise in 2-3 inch pieces.
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried rubbed sage
1 tsp (full) whole peppercorns
2 tsp arrowroot powder

Place veggies and taters in dutch oven. Place chicken on top. Sprinkle spices on chicken.
Bake, lid on, at 250 degrees for 2.5-3 hours.
Then turn up the heat to 300 degrees for the last hour of cooking.
Remove lid, switch to BROIL (LO) for 4 minutes.

Remove from oven. Place chicken on carving plate, remove potatoes and veggies and place in serving bowl, and set dutch oven on stove. Heat on low. Remove fat from juices. Remove 1/2 cup juices and add the arrowroot powder, mix well. Return to pot, mixing into remaining juice. Mix well. Heat until sauce starts to thicken, but is not a gravy (I guess you can turn it into a gravy, but I like a sauce better).
When sauce is done, strain through cheesecloth into sauce bowl / server and serve with sliced chicken and the veggies.

We bought a dehydrator a while back...like, over a year ago.....and I have been a dehydrating fool ever since. I love it! And when dehydrating, my basement smells fantastic! Especially when I have peaches or strawberries going.

A couple months ago I dehydrated onions. A neighbor (we live in a 4-unit townhouse) knocked on my door and asked if I smelled onions because he could in his basement....um..yeah...that's me. Sorry!
He wasn't upset...he just couldn't figure out where the smell came from. Ever since then, I've tried to keep the 'strong' smelling items going during the week when he's not home, and the good stuff like fruits dehydrating on the weekends when he is.

Either way, I am dehydrating all the time. A couple weeks ago, I started making my own trail mix. Boy! Is there a difference between store bought and home made. Store bought is harder...crispier....mostly because (as I found out), they tend to deep fry their fruits before they dehydrate them. Yuck! How unhealthy is that?

I like my fruit hard, but with some chew in the middle. That's where all the flavor seems to concentrate. It's wonderful! Most fruits I dehydrate at 125 for 12 hours. It depends on how thick I cut my fruit. (Any questions you can always check out my Pinterest board ) I have several links to how to do different fruits and veggies.

Well, I titled this post Trail Mix not 'listen to me gush about my dehydrator' so here's my trail mix:


Lovely, isn't it?
I used raw cashews, slivered almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, unsweetened coconut flakes, raisins, and my dehydrated fruits of strawberries, bananas, peaches and apples.
Even though there is no sugar in this trail mix, it was plenty sweet enough with the dehydrated fruit, and salty because of the salt on the cashews. In a word, fabulous!

Dehydrating:
Bananas- slice 1/8 in thick, dehydrate at 135 for 12 hours.
Strawberries- slice 1/4" thick. Dehydrate at 135 for 10-12 hrs
Peaches- slice 1/8" thick, dehydrate at 135 for 12-16 hrs
Apples- slice 1/4" thick, soak in citric acid water ( 1 tsp to 1/2 gal water) for 5 mins, then dehydrate at 135 for 10-12 hrs.

*You can also soak the banana's in citric acid water before dehydrating- doing so will inhibit the 'darkness' of the banana as it dehydrates. (You know banana's---they like to turn brown every chance they get!)
**Side note- you can use a lemon lime soda instead of the citric acid water. :)

***I've had people ask about oven dehydrating. Yes, you can do this using your oven if you don't have a dehydrator. Of course, using the oven speeds up the process because your oven can't go to as low a temp as your dehydrator can. The only drawback to using your oven is the speed. Especially with fruits, the slower you dehydrate something, the less chance of browning, or darkening, of the fruit. It's visually less appealing. Plus, you can only do one or two items at a time. With a dehydrator, you can do several trays of different fruits at the same time because you're using the same temp.  I have 10 trays for my dehydrator. I can do LOTS of stuff at once.
****So if using your oven, dehydrate on a parchment lined baking tray at  250 degrees until fruit is done.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I know Whole30 doesn't want you drinking your calories. And Paleo doesn't really care, so long as you get your fruit. Both diets just do not want you adding sugar. To ANYTHING.
I have found that I cannot carry large quantities of food around with me on my day-to-day business. I found that out when I didn't eat breakfast one morning and by the time I was able to eat, it was too late. I got sick instead. Having a fruit smoothie is a great pick-me-up or snack when I rush out of the house without breakfast and can't sit down for lunch. Don't worry, I don't skip lunch...I just usually have to eat it on the run. Okay, more like I eat it in pieces. I may have some protein at 1pm, some veggies around 1:45 and not finish the meal in its entirety until 3pm.
I eat enough to keep me going.

I did some prep first. With this particular smoothie, I used frozen strawberries. With other smoothies, like my Watermelon lime, I cut the watermelon into pieces and freeze them in advance. But either way, these are easy and take no time at all to prepare.


TROPICAL SMOOTHIE

6 small strawberries (or 3 large)
Juice of one lime
1/2 a round/slice of 1/4" thick fresh pineapple
1/2 medium banana

Put all in a blender, with 3/4 cup water. If not using frozen fruit, add 4 or 5 ice cubes. Blend. And put in your to-go cup and walk out the door!

Friday, August 15, 2014

I started the Whole30 challenge 5 days ago. [sigh] I really miss bread.....

But - it has forced me to change the way I think about food. So far, I've not had the grumpies, or anything else most people go through on their first four days. I guess I'm lucky on that.
The fiance' is also benefiting from my culinary adventures....he has liked what I've cooked so far.

I do make a fabulous Tomato Basil Soup- my own copy of Noodles & Co.'s version...and I like mine better. But tonight I tried making a recipe I found on another blogger's site...then realized that I didn't have all the ingredients they used. And I was being too lazy to go to the store.

Which means I kinda 'winged' it. And know what? It turned out fabulous! I really think this is going to go in the 'keeper' file of soups I love. Now, I know pepperoni is not Whole30 compliant. That's ok. I didn't put it in my portion, but I did leave it and listed it as an *added ingredient (for those of you not on the Whole30 program). For those of us who are, please read the labels of the canned items you are using. Some brands are compliant, some are not. READ YOUR LABELS!

Yummy Fire-y Crock pot Tomato Soup


FIRE-Y CROCK-POT TOMATO SOUP

1 28oz can diced tomatoes
1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 T olive oil - enough to saute the veggies, but not too much.
1 t black pepper
1 t oregano
1 t red pepper flakes
1 14.5 oz can fire roasted tomatoes
1 14.5 oz can beef broth
6 slices deli pepperoni, diced


First- take your canned tomatoes and put them in the crock pot. Turn on the crock-pot on low.
Saute the onions, celery, and carrots in olive oil until tender. Add garlic and saute two minutes more.
Add to crock-pot.
Put the lid on the crock-pot and walk away for 4 hours.
When you come back, add the spices and stir.
Using a stick blender (or regular blender if that's what you have), blend all ingredients until desired consistency. I like mine smooth with some chunky pieces hanging out.
Add enough of the beef broth to smooth out the soup. I used the whole can.
Put lid back on and let simmer for 1  hour more.

DONE!

Now, if you are not on Whole30- you can add the pepperoni for the last hour of simmer, or just before serving if you don't want to 'ruin' your diet leftovers!



Tuesday, July 29, 2014


A while back my better half won free plane tickets (and because they dragged their feet, free car rental, too!) to anywhere in the continental USA. Where did we go? Well, where else? Virginia.
Not because we love Virginia, but because we are big history nerds and wanted to see Jamestown (the original, not the tourist trap one), Williamsburg and Yorktown.
And because my brother lives near there, we crashed at his place. So other than food (which we would eat no matter where we were), our trip was free!

We had a blast walking around old ruins, cemetery's and churches. One place in particular in Yorktown was this restaurant called The Carrot Tree Restaurant in the historic Cole Diggs House. Read about them here and their FB page here.

It was nearing the end of our trip and our food money was getting low, so we decided to just order an appetizer and share it. It was a good call! 


Simple biscuits with Virginia Smoked Ham and some sort of sauce. I was in love. So when we got home I set out to try and recreate that wonderful appetizer. And I think I've got pretty darn close. My biscuits need a bit more tweaking, but overall, I got this!

Without further ado, my biscuit recipe (adapted from a Cook's Country version), and my Major Grey's Chutney Dressing Sauce. Oh, the ham? Yeah, you'll have to buy that online. Unless you live in Virginia.


Drop Biscuits:
3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 stick (1/4 lb, or 8 T) butter, melted.

Mix the dry ingredients together. Add the melted butter to the buttermilk, then pour into dry ingredients and mix well. Scoop onto baking sheet. Use a little melted butter to brush over the top, if you wish. Of course I did!
Bake for 15 mins at 475 degrees. Done. 



Major Grey's Chutney Dressing Sauce:


8 oz plain yogurt
1/4 c sour cream
1/3 c major grey's chutney (I make my own, but you should be able to purchase it)
2 t orange vinegar
1 t lemon juice
1/4 t allspice
1/8 t white pepper

Mix together. Stick blend if you want.
Serve cold with rolls or biscuits.

So- when I put everything together, it turned out fabulous. I mean, I have forgotten how good Virginia Ham really is...but you better like salt...but it is salty!
I don't like salt, but I love this ham once in a while. It's a guilty pleasure about once a year.




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