Monday, January 2, 2012

Whole 30

Its been a bad few months. Fun, but not so healthy.

I haven't posted since July, the summer and fall were pretty ok eating wise. I cheated a bit on weekends and to make up for it I basically just ate meat during the week to make up for it - no interesting cooking.

But in the holiday season I did not treat myself well. Too much drinking, and way to much unhealthy eating. Even when I did cook delicious paleo meals I wasn't up to posting about them because I was eating crappily so much of the time. I've gained about 5 lbs back, my skin looks like crap, and I have less energy.

Its time for a Whole 30.

I'm starting today and will try to post a few times a week. This should be interesting.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Chocolate Covered Bananas

Since switching to the Paleo diet I have been really successful at avoiding sweets and any sort of bingeing. These chocolate covered bananas changed all that. These are straight up candy - yes made with all paleo approved food - but no doubt about it, candy none the less.

I made a batch of these a few nights ago and they are all gone now. There is a hard chocolate coating made from unsweetened bakers chocolate and sweetened slightly with the addition of coconut oil, raw cashews, and figs. These additions make it taste more like 85% chocolate which is pretty awesome given there is no sugar added.  But what really takes these over the edge is the sweet and creamy banana center.  By using super ripe bananas the bitterness of the chocolate is completely balanced.  Topped with a little something salty these candies were practically perfect. We literally couldn't resist them.

After they were gone Mike and I had a little discussion:

Sara: So, you liked the banana candy?
Mike: Umm. Yeah. They were just as good as regular candy
Sara: I know! But not really an ideal food, huh?
Mike: Seriously, I think we over did it a little.
Sara: Ok, the recipe will go in the reserved for special occasions file
Mike: Yeah, thats smart - but you better not forget about them!

So if you are the kind of person that can have one piece of candy and move on make these keep 'em in the fridge for a treat.  If your more like me, make these (maybe only a half batch) when you really need a treat and promise yourself a few months will go by before you indulge again.

Chocolate Covered Bananas, topped with Cashews or Bacon Salt. Bacon salt is ridiculous.  Its salt mixed with bacon. When I left my job a week ago my amazing cubemate gave me a little jar as a going away gift. It's been going on everything, but it was especially good on these candies.


10 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup raw cashew butter
1/4 cup fig and hazelnut spread (I used this, if you can't find it, or another fig spread that is sugar free you could just take either fresh or died figs, cook with a little bit of grape juice until syrupy and then puree)
2 very ripe bananas, you want the skins to be spotted but not black yet. These should be soft, but still able to hold their shape.
Garnishes: salted cashews, bacon salt, sea salt, coconut flakes

1) Peel bananas and slice into 1/3 inch thick discs. You want to cut these straight across like coins to make perfect little circles, not on the bias.
2) Cook first 4 ingredients on low heat or in a double boiler (I don't have a double boiler, low heat works fine, although your chocolate might not be as smooth, see picture :) ) stirring constantly
3) When the chocolate as all melted and everything is incorporated take off heat.
4) Dip banana slices one at a time into chocolate getting a thick coating on each piece. I used 2 spoon to do this - used one spoon to dip and the other to scoot the banana off and make sure it was totally covered.  After every 3 or 4 bananas put the chocolate back on the heat for about 15-20 seconds to ensure that it stays smooth and melty.
5) Line up chocolate coated bananas on a cookie sheet covered with wax or parchment paper. Top with salt or nuts. The salt you can just sprinkle on, the nuts you've gotta press in a little.
6) Put in freeze for 2 hours and then move to fridge. Eat, try to resist eating all at once.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Compound Butter

Do you want to impress people with almost no work? I do. 

I love having dinner parties and entertaining, but I'm known as a great cook among my friends so I alway feel the need to impress them. But sometimes I'm busy and I don't have time for anything complicated.

It's okay though, because I have a secret. Compound butter.

All compound butter is is butter mixed with other stuff. But when you roll it into a cylinder and serve beautiful slices on meat, on vegetables, or with bread for your non-paleo guests (boo) people are amazed.  

This week I made some basil compound butter just for me and Mike and we ate it on top of ribeyes and spinach. He was impressed and he knows my secrets ;)

Grilled Ribeye with Basil Compound Butter

Basil Compound Butter


1/2 stick of butter (or a quarter of a package of Kerry Gold... mmmm), room temp
1 cup basil leaves (or other herb)
1 clove garlic
salt to taste

1) Place basil, garlic, and salt in food processor and pulse until very finely chopped.
2) Add butter in and process for about 30 sec until everything is mixed
**you could do these step by hand, but it would take forevs**
3) Place butter on wax paper, parchment paper, or plastic warp (less than ideal) smoosh butter out a little and then roll into a cylinder and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours to firm. Slice and serve. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Smoked Salmon Roll Ups

So I had my first paleo faileo this evening (i'm not counting my lamb meat sauce, which had a hiccup, but ended up awesome) and it was really disappointing.

It stared out like this:

I was going for a paleo pizza with bagel topping. I thought it was going to be great. It looked great. I look at a punch of different paleo pizza crust recipes. I used all the advice I could find and ended up going with a mixtures of eggs, olive oil, almond flour, and coconut flour.  The texture was just wrong. It felt like a big crumbly cookie, and tasted like almonds. Maybe with other toppings it would have been better, and I made a tomato tart with an almond crust last week that was great (recipe coming soon).

I ended up taking all the toppings off and just eating a bunch of smoked salmon roll ups. True confession: I also ate a couple before dinner with I was waiting for the husbanator to get home.  They were yummy. Good snack. Easy breakfast. You should make them.

Also, I've been cooking a lot this week, but I started a new job on Monday and haven't really had time to post.  Look forward to broccoli slaw, compound butter, and my first paleo pancakes coming soon!


Smoked Salmon
Marscapone Cheese (this is just made with cream and acid, so while I don't do milk or cheese on the reg I let this in for special occasions)
Thinly sliced onions
Thinly sliced tomatoes

1) Take a piece of salmon, spread with a thin layer of cheese then top with onion, tomatoes, and capers.
2) Roll and pop in your mouth. If you are shame eating because of your giant kitchen failure chew as you make the next one. If not you could totally make a bunch, put them on a plate and then eat like a regular person. Whatever floats your boat.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Lemon Butter Chicken

When I was younger I was totally the only person in my family who couldn't cook. I would sometime help my mom, but I sort of made a mess of things a lot.  Mostly I just wasn't paying attention to what I was doing. It didn't really matter though my mom was an awesome cook and I ate really well every day. But when I got to college that all changed. I eventually got sick of eating chicken finger sandwiches and philly cheesesteak wraps every day and decided I wanted to learn how to cook.  At this point I wasn't really concerned about health (except when I was psychotically dieting, eating under 1000 calories a day and making myself miserable) I just wanted things to taste good.

Eventually I got pretty good, but according to my mother, mike, and pretty much anyone else who cooked with me or ate my food I overly relied on butter to make things tasty. I totally did do that. And at that point in my life I thought that was bad for me.  Now I still sometimes rely on butter to make things good, but I know its not bad for me. Yay!

This lemon butter chicken is something I would have made in those old days of butter dependence. It tastes totally decadent, but its a snap to put together. 


4 chicken thighs
2 lemons, zested and juiced
4 cloves of garlic finely diced
3 tablespoons butter, use the best you can afford, its the dominate flavor in the dish so quality counts
salt and pepper to taste
optional garnish: scallions, parsley - basically anything green

1) Cut chicken thighs into 2 bite size pieces, about 4 pieces per thigh
2) Mix the juice and zest of 1 lemon with the garlic, salt and pepper to taste and then use to marinate the chicken for at least 4 hours, up to 24.
3) Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a skillet over medium high heat, remove chicken from marinade and dry off.
4) Place chicken in skillet, don't touch for about 3-4 minutes until it is browned on one side.
5) Flip chicken to brown on other side, cook about 2-3 more minutes
6) Add remaining left over marinade, lemon juice, zest, and butter to pan. After butter melts, toss chicken and cook for another 2-3 minutes until the sauce thickens a bit and coats the chicken.
7) Serve right away with a vegetable of your choose (I chose blistered tomatoes.) Eat with no guilt over the obscene amount of butter or shame that you relied on its powers to make something amazing.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Blistered Tomatoes

The summer after 4th grade my parents took my sister and I on our first international trip.  We went to England, and of course being the type of person who thinks of each day based on what I ate, I remember the food we had pretty clearly. In particular the breakfasts, it was pretty similar at every B&B we stayed in, eggs, buttery toast, sausage, beans and warm tomatoes and mushrooms. I was always a pretty adventurous eater, but for some reason warm tomatoes seemed weird to me at the time and I didn't want to eat them. I didn't really connect them with tomato sauce - what do you want from me I was 10. 

But eventually I did try them, and they were amazing. Comforting and refreshing at the same time. Since then I've had a softness in my heart for slightly warmed tomatoes and when ever I eat them I am reminded of that trip to England -  not the boring walking tours, bus tours, museums, and history lessons (all of which I thoroughly enjoyed when I returned to the UK as an adult) but of the same satisfying breakfast we at every morning in B&B's around the country.

This week I decided to make warmed blistered grape tomatoes, not for breakfast but as a side for dinner.  They take about 3 minutes to make and are deliciously fresh tasting when made with the awesome tomatoes available right now.

Warm tomatoes . . . mmm.  Behind them you can see some lemon butter chicken peaking out.  I wasn't planning on sharing the chicken recipe with you when I made it, but it was so tasty and decadent that I feel I have to. Come back tomorrow and I'll have it posted.

1 pint grape tomatoes
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (or other fat of your choice)
2-4 cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole
salt and pepper to taste

1) Heat olive oil over medium high heat until it starts to shimmer, about 1 minute
2) Add garlic cloves to oil and cook for about 30 seconds
3) Throw tomatoes into pan, step back - it might sputter. Now don't touch at all for about 1 minute - you want the skins to get nice and blistered.
4) Toss tomatoes around in pan and then let cook for another minute - this should allow your tomatoes to warm threw a bit without popping and becoming a saucy mess
5) Season with salt and pepper and serve imminently*

*i was writing "immediately", but spell check changed it to "imminently" which sounded foreboding and stupid in a way that I really liked, so I kept it :)  

Monday, July 11, 2011

Cucumber Water

Since middle school I have been a total diet coke addict.  There were times in my life that I would drink at least 2 liters of the stuff everyday, including having a caffeine full glass right before bed.  In fact, here is a picture from behind my computer just 6 months ago:

I figured that it was good for me because it was calorie free. Totally wrong

Now I drink mostly water or espresso, maybe an iced coffee, and I try not to drink caffeine after 12 pm. But I get bored with water and coffee. Sometimes I want to drink something with a little flavor. In comes flavored water - not this crap.  Flavored water I make myself.  And its easy. I just place whatever flavorings I want to use in the bottom of my Brita filter, add water, and enjoy a few hours later.

My favorite is really simple - plain cucumber - but really there are endless options.  I've done strawberries and basil, honeydew melon and mint, orange and lavender, lemongrass and basil.

2 liters of water
1 medium cumber, sliced (whatever fruit or veg you are using you want about a cup of slices)
4 -5 sprigs of thyme(optional) (for fresh herbs use 1/3 of a cup, if you are using a dried herd, like lavender, use 1-2 tablespoons)
1) Place cucumber (and thyme if using) in the bottom of your brita filter or pitcher.  Pour water in.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, 24 is better. Strain. Serve over ice. Enjoy. Be refreshed!

For my grow up readers - this is super tasty mixed with gin or rum and a splash of seltzer!