Zesty Chimichurri

4 May
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put this on everything :)

It’s been a WHILE since I’ve tried any new recipes worthy of sharing with the world!  I have been in a winter slump in a lot of ways, and I am so thankful that this Kansas winter has lifted!  A good friend of mine–who happens to be a chef–recently hosted a small get together, and she served this chimichurri sauce with grilled chicken.  I just about fell out of my chair.  It was so zesty and fragrant, and bright.  It made me rediscover my passion to go home and make good food.  Thanks for sharing, Valentine ;)!!

Chimichurri complements any protein beautifully.  I served mine with pulled pork today, it was a great change-up from barbecue sauce.  It would taste awesome with a juicy grilled steak.  All 3 of my children loved this.  It delivers a true summer flair to the plate.

1/2 c olive oil
1/8 c white (or red) wine vinegar
juice of 1 lime
1 large shallot
1 garlic clove
2 seeded jalapenos
1 1/2 c fresh cilantro
1 1/2 c fresh italian parsley
1/4 c shelled pistachios
3/4 tsp kosher salt

Place ingredients in a blender or food processor in the order listed.  Blend until it reaches desired consistency.   Refrigerate leftovers.  

Enjoy!
Leigh

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Sweetly Spiced Tilapia with Grapefruit Salsa

15 Apr

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It’s been a while since I’ve made something new. I can sense a lack of eagerness in the house–for school, cooking, creative efforts, etc. Maybe it’s the early warm spring weather tricking us into thinking summer is around the corner. Maybe it’s just busy schedules and recovering from spring break outings. So, in the spirit of reviving our days, here is what I came up with for dinner the other day.

The cancer fighting properties of grapefruit coupled with the anti-inflammatory and heart healthy properties of both avocado and fish make this dinner a nutritional powerhouse. It’s also refreshing for the warm weather to come, and for your last fish Friday. Enjoy!

Tilapia 

  • 6-8 tilapia filets, or wild caught salmon (open links for info about choosing the best and safest fish, there is even an app to download)
  • 3/4 cup juice (I used 2 oranges, and the remaining juice from the grapefruit scraps)
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp liquid aminos (or gluten-free soy sauce)
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • crushed red pepper to your liking

Place filets in 9×13 baking dish. Combine remaining ingredients. Pour over fish. Let sit while you prepare the salsa and cauliflower. Preheat oven to 375. Bake for 15-20 minutes until done. Broil for the last few minutes if you want the top layer to be a bit crispy. Serve with grapefruit salsa and cauliflower rice.

Grapefruit Salsa

  • 2 pink grapefruits, peeled, white pith removed, chopped
  • 2 avocados, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 Tbs chopped cilantro
  • 1/8 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 jalapeño, de-seeded and finely diced
  • 1 sweet pepper, diced
  • 1 tsp ancho chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Prepare ingredients. Mash avocado to desired consistency in bowl, add chopped grapefruit and remainder of ingredients. Stir to combine. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve or refrigerate for later use.

Cauliflower Rice (the easy way!)

  • 1 large head cauliflower, cleaned and roughly chopped
  • Finely diced brocoli, carrots, and/or cabbage (optional but makes it look more appetizing)
  • Olive oil or grass-fed butter to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste

This is by far the easiest and tastiest way to make cauliflower rice–no food processor necessary! Steam veggies until fork tender. I use my veggie steamer basket in a medium pot with lid. Drain water, use masher to”rice” veggies. Add butter and/or oil, and spices to taste. Too easy!

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 “One can make a day of any size.” -John Muir

Best,

Heather

Bacon Biscuits

13 Mar

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I whipped up these yummy biscuits last night to go with some leftover ham bone soup. The idea came from fastPaleo and the medium was one of my favorites: cauliflower. I loved that they were packed with meat and veggies, rather than a ton of almond flour. My kids loved that they were super tasty and spongy. Enjoy!

1 package nitrate free bacon
1 head cauliflower, cleaned and roughly chopped
3/4 cup almond flour or cashew meal
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp pepper
2 eggs

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Preheat oven to 375. Place bacon and chopped cauliflower on foil lined baking sheet. Bake in oven until bacon is cooked and cauliflower is nicely roasted–about 15-20 minutes. Halfway through, mix to coat cauliflower with bacon grease. Once done and slightly cooled, place contents of pan in food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Keep yourself from eating too much straight out of the food processor! Spoon into mixing bowl. Add the remainder of the ingredients and stir to combine. Spoon onto parchment lined baking sheet into rounds. Bake for 15-18 minutes until nicely browned. Serve! Refrigerate leftovers. They would be perfect with eggs the next morning or alone as a quick snack.

Happy Thursday,

Heather

Happy Hearts Day

15 Feb

I didn’t have any new bright ideas for paleo/primal-friendly desserts for Valentine’s Day this year.  Instead of baking hearts, we ate a heart.  From a cow.  Really.

Let me be clear…this is new territory.  In the past three years of exploring the primal diet and lifestyle, I have been avoiding the organs.  There’s just so much else out there that is more easily palatable, I figured, why bother?

We are coming to the end of our 1/2 cow we bought last year and one of the remaining items was its heart, almost four pounds of nutrient dense meat.  The numerous benefits of organ meat are hard to ignore: higher protein content, abundant vitamins and minerals, double elastin and collagen content, metabolism boosters, rich in dynamic antioxidant CoQ10, source of the “X factor” Vitamin K2, and more.  The question is how to prepare it in a way that the rest of the family (and me!) will enjoy it.  Valentine’s Day seemed the perfect catalyst to dive in and give the heart a chance.

To start the adventure, I consulted one of my favorite cookbooks that my husband gave me a couple years ago, Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon. Sally explores many unique sources of natural nutrition and has a lifetime of great ideas in one collection.  To prepare beef heart, she recommends a Peruvian Antichuchos recipe starting with a long marinade. This is what I came up with:

Beef heart

  • 1 beef heart, trimmed and cleaned of hard parts and excess fat, cut in cubes
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup vinegar (I used half raw apple cider, half white balsamic)
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced

Balsamic Glaze

  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp raw honey

Start with partially frozen (half thawed) beef heart for easier cutting. Trim excess fat and hard parts that don’t look appetizing. Cut into small cubes. Combine marinade ingredients in bag or bowl, add meat and marinade for at least 4 hours or up to 24. Place meat on skewers and grill on outdoor grill or sauté in pan over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes. Ensure not to over-cook. Transfer meat to plate. In same pan, add wine, balsamic vinegar and honey. Bring to quick boil and simmer for a few minutes until liquids start to evaporate. Pour over beef heart cubes.  Serve with toothpicks as an appetizer or as a main dish with a plate of cauliflower rice or your favorite roasted veggies.

The results were interesting. It was like a dense steak with a stronger flavor, but it wasn’t as potent as liver.  The biggest surprise was my five year old eating at least 1/4 of the plate – he ignored the beef stew I made (as a back-up!) and ate bite after bite of beef heart. Later he asked if he could have it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner so he could get super strong.

Overall, we enjoyed trying something new and uniquely wholesome.  In the end, the consensus was we probably won’t go out searching for beef heart as a regular staple, but we certainly won’t be afraid to use it with the next cow! For other ideas try: subbing for beef cubes in a stew recipe or grinding it up in the food processor with some of the extra trimmed fat and making burgers. If you don’t want to use the whole heart at a time, freeze cubes or ground heart in small batches to sneak in recipes for an extra nutrient boost to your regular beef recipes.

If you’re feeling adventurous, give it a try! Let us know how you liked it in the comments below. If you’re already a heart lover, what are your favorite ways to prepare it?

Share your heart with someone you love, 

Heather

Super Bowl Snackies

31 Jan

Super Bowl weekend is here, which will usher-in America’s first official pig-out holiday since we all got back on the good food bandwagon.  This may be a welcome opportunity to indulge in junk food that is totally worth the cheat.  But, it doesn’t have to be a time to undo a strong clean-eating streak.

Allow me to highlight some of Heather’s and my favorite appetizers and treats which will help you continue to eat clean while celebrating your team.  Or…pretending to care about football for one night a year, as it were.  My menu will include Chunky Chipotle Chili, the ubiquitous kale and brussels sprouts salad, and stove-popped olive oil and sea salt popcorn.  Yum.

Marinated Flank Steak

Marinated Flank Steak Strips

Kofta Kebab Lamb Meatballs

Kofta Kebab Lamb Meatballs

Coconut Flour Pizza

Coconut Flour Pizza

Guacamole Deviled Eggs

Guacamole Deviled Eggs

Bacon Wrapped Dates

Bacon Wrapped Dates

Sweet Pepper Poppers

Sweet Pepper Poppers

Sesame Date Crisps

Sesame Date Crisps

Mango Salsa

Mango Salsa

No-Bake Delights

No-Bake Delights

Chocolate Kahlua Torte

Chocolate Kahlua Torte

Enjoy your time with family and friends!  I hope you have a wonderful and safe weekend!

Leigh

The Love Pursuit

23 Jan

I never really checked on my Azerbaijani neighbor, Ruslan, all year.  He is a Shia Muslim, a man of few words, and he lived without his family, in Kansas, for the entire year.  I had excuses like, he probably doesn’t want to talk to women…he wouldn’t want to eat any of my wacked-out paleo concoctions…and I will ask him too many ignorant questions about his country.

In a gesture of generosity, he once left a bag of 5 dying catfish on my doorknob that dripped a pool of blood onto my floor.  I thanked him, assured him we would enjoy them, and chalked it up to a cultural miscommunication.  I should have returned the favor.  With brownies.  We always said hello, but I never really reached out to him, revealed true American hospitality, or made sure he didn’t need anything.  We just said goodbye forever on Monday, and I felt a tremendous amount of shame for not loving him well during his time here.

What a missed opportunity for both of us.

I’ve been mulling the concept of real love.  It’s such an overused and undervalued word loaded with varied meanings!  I continually pursue optimal nutrition, fitness, and even spirituality…but I haven’t given extra thought to the concept of love.  What is it good for?  After all, it’s the second greatest commandment!  It’s more than fondness, or admiration, or saying “I am sending good thoughts your way” (or its Christian cousin “I’ll pray for you”).

Love–the kind that impacts lives–has another name: charity.  Charity is not a word we use very often in our culture.  It seems faceless, institutional, and connotes throwing money at someone else’s problem.  But after a brief word study, I can see that charity is simply LOVE in ACTION, altruism.  That’s what it is good for.

After my disappointing past year, I’ve been stalled in this area.  But I have to be very careful not to let this legitimate hurt turn into the devil’s playground.  This hurt–and lingering disappointment–impaired my vision to extend charity to my neighbors; and  honestly, I hadn’t consciously recognized it.  Until Ruslan left.  It hit me that day like a ton of bricks: we are supposed to love well during our disappointing times.  That is hard to admit publicly.  If the enemy can take our eye off our brother, then he has completely succeeded in snuffing out our positive influence upon our world”  Dr. Larry Crabb, 66 Love Letters.

While I was waiting around to feel whole again, my external influence became stagnant water.  Truth is, I will never be whole in this world–too many disappointments.  I was living with the mindset that once I am whole, then I will be able to love others well.  But iChristcharity can overflow now, because I WILL be whole again one day…and soon. 

The race to achieve self-fulfillment is the religion of our culture, which is like trying hold water in a sieve.  What if our culture instead began to practice systematic charity right outside our front doors?  Our neighborhoods would burst with vibrance and vitality.   And I imagine all of our hearts would be much fuller.  Join me in looking out for opportunities to meet a need.  It just might be the grace someone needs for their moment.  

overflow

A few examples of relevant charity:

Encouraging words (Hebrews 3:13, Ephesians 4:29)
Standing in the gap for those who have lost/are separated from loved ones.  (Deuteronomy 10:18)
Keeping your schedule fluid enough to be available for people.  (Psalms 82:3-4)
Taking initiative to meet others’ needs (Galatians 6:2)
Being a reliable neighbor (bloom where planted)
Offering a patient, listening ear to someone hurting
Sharing possessions (Acts 2:45)
Keeping negative comments quiet (Psalm 141:3)
Welcoming people into your home. (Romans 12:13)

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.  And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
1 Corinthians 13:12-13 KJV.  I just love this verse in that translation!

Honestly reflecting,
Leigh

Chunky Chipotle Chili

12 Jan
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The whole pot–see the 3 different types of meat? Yum.

Chili is boring.   I have never tried to come up with my own because it all tastes the same to me.  When I do make it, I’ve made the one on Melissa Joulwan’s blog for years (and it is very good), but I never get excited about chili night. 

Until now.  I guess it’s only honest to reveal my source and concede–Veronica (my pastelon and sofrito guru) graciously said I could post this, but it does feel like cheating.  I can’t help myself, time and again she just feeds me delicious, Latin-infused food.  And with my mouth full, I shamelessly say “Awesome, all my friends will love this…can I put it on my blog?”

So what’s the big deal?  It’s chili!  Well…aside from the meat trifecta, there is something so amazing about this chili…je ne sais quoi…oh yeah.  The adobo chipotles.  These can be overpowering, so more is not better.  Two plus some sauce is plenty to give it the undertones it needs to be, well, awesome.  I don’t really know what else to say, other than…Eat. This. Now.  And it couldn’t be simpler to throw together.

1 lb ground beef
1 lb italian sausage
1 lb steak, cut into 1/2” cubes
two onions (diced)
handful of garlic, minced
2 bell peppers diced
2 chipotles in adobo with a little of the sauce
2 cans diced tomatoes
large can of tomato sauce
1/2 can water
3 tbsp cumin
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp coriander
salt, pepper to taste
diced green onions and cilantro for garnish and color

In a large stock pot, brown the ground beef and italian sausage.  Remove ground meat and set aside.  Brown the steak to medium rare, and set it aside.  With the remaining meat juices in the pot, sautee the onions, peppers and garlic until soft.  While those are cooking, blend the chipotles with the tomato sauce, water and spices in a blender or food processor.  Add the 3 meats back to the veggies, and pour the chipotle-tomato sauce mixture over the whole thing.  Add the two cans of tomatoes, salt and pepper.  Stir until well blended.  Simmer on low heat (1-2 bubbles per second) and garnish with green onion and cilantro if desired.

Thanks again, dear Roni.  I will make this for the rest of my life!
Leigh

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Consider using the remaining chipotles in this awesome chipotle cream sauce.  :)

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