five for friday: you need to eat like a dinosaur

Rat on a Stick, done as burgers, served with Zucchini Latke buns. I’m calling them Red Curry burgers because I can’t handle that name. *shudder*

I’ve been reading the Paleo Parent’s blog religiously since I found it early last fall. In fact, it was Stacey’s success story that convinced to stop researching paleo and start eating paleo. Along the way, I’ve fallen in love with their focus on family friendly ancestral eating and how hard they work to share what they’ve learned. I appreciate that they work so hard to create paleo treats and kid-happy meals, knowing that it’s not easy for anyone – especially kids – to make this transition.

It was a given I was going to have to pick up a copy of their book Eat Like a Dinosaur as soon as it came out.

Teriyaki Jerky – why did it take us so long to start making our own jerky!

This is more than a cookbook. There’s a lot of solid information about going paleo. There’s a great storybook section for younger kids to help them understand why they eat differently than their friends (my 3 year old nephew was enthalled with the illustrations). And there are the recipes.

I love a good recipe.

Kale, Bacon and Olive Pie – Easy, fast to throw together, delicious.

Even more than that, I love a good recipe that I can take and make my own. Every recipe I’ve made so far from Eat Like a Dinosaur is one that’s given me ideas for ways I can adapt it.

Golden Nuggets and Zucchini Latkes – a new family favorite

Those zucchini latkes? I made them twice. In three days. Instead of sweet as the recipe directed, I went savory – replacing the honey and spices with minced onion and garlic and a pinch of vadouvan (they’re divine and a perfect pairing with my chicken and cauliflower curry). The kale, bacon and olive pie? Swap out those items for sausage, mushrooms and spinach, or Canadian Bacon and diced artichoke hearts.

Chocolate Chip Cookies – you won’t believe they’re actually paleo

The only recipe that I don’t intend to play with is the Chocolate Chip cookies…and that’s because they’re perfect. Seriously. Better than the best “regular” chocolate chip cookies. That recipe alone is worth the price of this cookbook.

I still have a huge list of recipes to try (50/50 bacon burgers and frozen waffles are high on that list), and I can’t wait to cook my way through the rest of this book.

And I’m hoping they’re planning a sequel!

menu plan monday: 11.07.11

I’m behind.

Sooo behind.

I normally get my week of blog posts started and mostly done Sunday afternoons.

Yesterday afternoon, I did this:

Held my brand new baby niece for a few hours.

So I am behind, but it was totally worth it and I’ll share more on my sweet Katrina.

tomorrow.

This week’s seat-of-my-pants menu plan, which includes a few hold-overs from last week and two of my favorite crock pot recipes, plus one that might become a favorite:

Monday
Steak Tips with Roasted Veggies – a marinade I’ve been working on. I’ll share it once I get it just right.

Tuesday
Slow Cooker Chicken – crockpot
Roasted Rosemary Sweet Potatoes (so good!)
Green Salad

Wednesday – crock pot
Shredded Beef Taco Roast (served in lettuce wraps, sans cheese)
Some sort of veggie

Thursday
Leek and Sweet Potato Soup
Grilled Chicken Skewers

Friday
Firecracker chicken on zucchini noodles (hoping to share this one soon too – it’s a yummy, creamy paleo chicken and pasta type dish that is a family favorite)

Saturday
Heading to my brother’s house to snuggle the new niece some more and celebrate his birthday. The menu will probably include tri tip and a salad, but I’m not sure what else.

Sunday
Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore (working to adapt it for church potlucks) – crock pot
Green Salad

Shared at Org Junkie’s Menu Plan Monday and the Gluten Free Menu Swap at Angela’s Kitchen this week.

Homemade Waffles

Breakfast is a big deal at our house, especially when it's for dinner (which the Tom and the kids call brinner).  At least every other week (and sometimes once a week) something breakfast related makes it's way onto our table.  Omelets, pancakes, biscuits and gravy…they're all great, but right now our family favorite is these waffles.

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The only problem I've had with them?  You can't shape them into numbers like I normally do with birthday pancakes!  

Homemade Waffles
makes 6 – 8 waffes, depending on how thick you prefer your batter

2 c. all purpose flour (I like unbleaches)
1 T. white sugar (I've used sucanat and it's just fine)
4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 3/4 c. milk (plus a bit more if you like a thinner batter)
2 eggs
1/2 c. butter (or vegetable or coconut oil)
1/2 t. vanilla extract

Preheat waffle iron.

Beat eggs in a large bowl until fluffy. 

Beat in rest of ingredients until just smooth.

Pour about a half cup of batter (give or take) into preheated waffle iron and cook until golden brown.

Enjoy!

Notes:

  • I prepped several bags of the dry ingredients on my baking day, wrote the rest of the ingredients on the bag and threw them in the freezer.  When we want waffles, all I have to do is pull them out, beat the eggs and add everything else.  Just a little bit easier.
  • You can keep leftover batter in the refrigerator for a few days, but not too long.  It starts to look like a science experiment (mine started turning green after day 5).
  • I'm planning to experiment with adding a bit of whole wheat to the mix, but that will likely require a bit more liquid.
  • The recipe said to spray the waffle iron with a non-stick cooking spray.  I don't use it and don't even have any in my kitchen, and I've never had my waffles stick. 

This post is linked to: The Grocery Cart Challenge's Recipe Swap.

The Baking Day Regulars (with recipe links!)

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Today was my fourth round of baking days (although that picture was from my first a few months ago).  It's definitely getting easier – I seem to have found a flow and a rhythm that works really well for me.  Rather than shopping this morning like I normally do on a baking day, we were able to get it all done yesterday which worked out sooo great.  I was able to get beans, rice and muffins soaking overnight and threw a chicken in the crockpot to make stock… which saved me tons of time today and made it possible to get it all done in one day. 

I'm also finding that there are a few things that I do every month and for my own sanity, I'm listing them here with recipe links.  A few recipes are ones that I've been adapting, but haven't shared yet.  I'll try to get them up as soon as I can.

  • Brown rice (cooked, cooled and portioned into freezer bags – it freezes great!)
  • Black beans (same as above, except I just realized I didn't portion and freeze yet)
  • Tuscan Lemon Chicken (someday I'll try the Herbs de Provence one, but this one is sooo good)
  • Pork Chops (basic – olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic…sometimes I add a little lemon)
  • Fajita Steak (a long time favorite of ours)
  • Orange Beef and Broccoli (not well planned on my part.  The goal was to get the meat cut and bagged, and then to also get the marinade made and frozen but I didn't have all of the ingredients.  Next time!)
  • Chicken stock and cooked chicken
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (made with whole wheat flour and coconut oil so they're a bit more nourishing)
  • Breakfast Cake (in muffin form)
  • Blueberry Muffins (I'll try to get these shared soon)
  • Apple Walnut Muffins (a new recipe that was awesome with my experimentation)
  • Waffle Mix (all but the wet ingredients, which are written on the bags)
  • Tortillas (another one I need to share)
  • Sandwich Rolls (trying to get a little photo tutorial done on these one of these days!)

I put most things in freezer bags, portioned out for one dinner for our family of 4 and sometimes add in a bit extra for planned leftovers or lunches later on.  The key to success for me has been making sure I jot down every single bag in my Homemaking Binder.  It's also helpful to have a weekly meal plan, and to keep it posted somewhere I see all the time.  Knowing what we're having over the next few days makes it easier to make sure I have dinner components pulled out in advance to thaw in the fridge.

When I look at the list like that, it really doesn't seem like I did all that much.  There aren't any complete meals, but they are more than enough to give me a big head start!

Bowties with Bacon and Asparagus

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There are so many things I love about this recipe…it's from a family cookbook (always a plus), the spices are simple (ones I usually have in my spice drawer), it can be done is 2 pans (one to boil the pasta, the other to cook everything else in) and it's so easy, my 12 year old can make it with almost no help from Mom.

It's also a great base recipe.  Change out the bacon and asparagus for artichoke hearts and pancetta.  Use leftover cubed ham and peas.  Squash, broccoli, fresh tomatoes…whatever you've got too much of in the garden…totally flexible and easy to eat in season.   Boxed pasta, fresh pasta, whole wheat, gluten free – adapt it to whatever you prefer. 

Bowties with Bacon and Asparagus
Serves 4

1/2 lb. thick bacon, diced
1/2 lb. asparagus, ends trimmed and cut on the bias into 1 inch pieces
2 t. Italian seasoning
1/4 t. garlic salt
1/2 t. crushed red pepper
1 lb. bow tie pasta, cooked and drained
1/2 c. grated Romano cheese (or Parmesean…or Asiago…it's flexible)

  1. Cook bacon in large nonstick skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until crisp (5-6 minutes).
  2. Stir in asparagus, Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper and garlic salt.  Cook, stirring ocassionally, until asparagus is crisp-tender (5 minutes).
  3. Remove pan from heat and add cooked bow ties pasta.
  4. Toss, top with cheese and serve.

This post is linked to:

Orange Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry

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We saw this recipe on an episode of  Everyday Food a couple of weeks ago and knew we had to try it.  It was just as good as it looked on the show, even with my modifications.  And that picture just doesn't do it justice.

Orange Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry:
Serves 4

1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, (from 1 orange)
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce (we use Tamari)
1 tablespoon Sucanat
1 pound top or bottom round steak, cut into strips, 2 inches long and 1/4 inch thick
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 bunch (1 pound) broccoli, florets broken into small pieces (reserve stalks for another use)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red bell pepper, (ribs and seeds removed), cut into strips, 2 inches long and 1/4 inch wide
  1. In a small bowl or liquid-measuring cup, combine
    orange juice, vinegar, soy sauce, and Sucanat; set aside.
  2. In a medium
    bowl, toss beef with cornstarch; season with salt and pepper. Set
    aside.
  3. In a large skillet, combine broccoli with 1 cup
    water; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high;
    cook, partially covered, until broccoli is bright green and
    crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  4. Discard any water in
    skillet; wipe with paper towel.
  5. In same skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over high.
    When pan is very hot, add half the beef; cook until browned, 2 to 4
    minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer beef to plate with broccoli.
    Repeat with remaining oil and remaining beef, but leave beef in skillet.
  6. Return reserved beef and broccoli to skillet; add
    orange-juice mixture and bell pepper. Continue cooking over high heat
    until sauce thickens, 2 to 4 minutes.
  7. Serve over brown rice rice.

While the recipe as is was really good, here are a few changes I might make:

  • I think an onion sliced thick would be just as good as the bell pepper and would certainly be  more budget friendly.
  • The whole time I was eating it, mushrooms were on my mind.  I've decided some halved mushrooms would be really good.
  • I might increase the sauce a little bit next time…it was enough for the meat and veggies, but I'd like a little extra to soak into my brown rice.
  • I think I'd add a little heat…maybe a pinch of red pepper flakes.
  • It would be fairly easy to keep the sauce recipe and change out the meat and vegetables.  Chicken or pork, zucchini, cauliflower, carrots…I think the options are fairly limitless!

This recipe is shared at the following blogs:

Design's By Gollum's Foodie Fridays

Life as Mom's: Ultimate Recipe Swap

The Grocery Cart Challenge's Recipe Swap

Go find something new to enjoy!

Homemade Enchilada Sauce

Hello, my name is Samantha and I'm an enchilada addict.

They are comfort food for me…a taste of home…a reminder of childhood.

Shredded beef, cheese, ground beef, chicken, artichoke and mushroom (my favorite at Espana's in Los Banos)…the filling doesn't matter.  I love them all.

I will admit, though, that I'm sort of lazy when it comes to actually making them myself.  I generally make them casserole style, cutting the tortillas into strips and layering like lasagna rather than rolling each one.  Completed enchiladas freeze wonderfully, but I've also frozen the homemade sauce on it's own to have on hand in a pinch. 

In honor of my enchilada laziness and my lack of freezer space, I threw together this yummy enchilada casserole last week:

Enchiladas

I'd intended to get a photo before we ate…but didn't quite make it.

And that's probably not the most appetizing photo.

The secret to the best enchiladas?

Making the sauce from scratch.

It's not that difficult, time consuming, or even very expensive (and certainly not as expensive as the cans of it filled with who-knows-what at the grocery store!).

Enchilada sauce:

6 T. shortening
6T. flour
2.5 c. chicken stock or 2.5 c. hot water with 2-3 bouillon cubes
2.5 T. chili powder (or to taste)
1 t. cumin (optional)

Over medium heat, melt 6 T. shortening in a pan and add 6 T. flour in a saucepan.  Stir until there are no lumps.

Add 2.5 cups hot chicken stock (or 2.5 cups of hot water with 3 bouillon cubes dissolved in it) and chili powder to taste (I used 2.5 T.), as well as the teaspoon of cumin. 

Continue to cook.   The sauce will thicken, but not too much.

Notes:

  • I'm planning to try replacing the shortening with  olive oil next time to see what happens.
  • If you overcook the sauce, it can almost turn into a pudding. It can be thinned with a little more stock or broth, but be sure to check the spices again when doing that.
  • I don't generally add salt to this (especially if I've had to use a bouillon cube), but like all seasonings  that's a personal preference. 
  • My favorite thing about enchiladas?  They're a great way to use up odds and ends – leftover roast chicken or beef, bits of cheese or veggies…even tortillas.  When the last ones in the bag start to get a bit stale, I throw them in the freezer until I have enough for enchiladas.  I've found that cutting them up and making a layered enchilada moistens them back up just enough without getting soggy.
  • This recipe came from a cookbook my aunt put together a few years ago of my great-grandmother's recipes (which I'm convinced makes it all the better!).  My grandmother remembers making these as a child and using lettuce as the filling.  We still make them for family get-togethers and they are always a hit!

This recipe shared at: