Saturday, November 23, 2013

My New Favorite Mashed Cauliflower





When I first went Paleo, I tried making mashed cauliflower once and I miserably failed. It was gross, lumpy and watery at the same time, and didn’t taste good at all. I boiled it - ew. I used to love mashed potatoes and this was not an acceptable substitute. I was so turned off, I didn’t try again for at least a year and a half. Then the Urban Poser revealed the secret to the best mashed cauliflower with her Paleo Cauliflower Mash-Tinis. That woman is a genius, I swear. Go stalk her blog.

There is also a very similar method described in Beyond Bacon that uses lard, and I have made that version MANY MANY times as well. YUM. If you need a dairy-free recipe, I highly suggest you get that book! (hello, you need to get that book for Christmas!) Sadly, right now I don’t have a very good source for lard, so I am out. So I have come up with new flavorings that are my special touch on this already perfected method. I now love mashed cauliflower and make it once a week – at least. 

Ingredients:
1 large head of Organic Cauliflower
5 tablespoons of grassfed butter or ghee
1 ½ teaspoons of Tessemae’s Cracked Pepper Roasted Garlic Puree
1 tablespoon of chopped chives
Sea Salt to taste (usually 1-2 teaspoons)

Method:
11.  Trim all the “fluffy” parts of the cauliflower head, and reserve the “stalk-y” parts for something else. This step is crucial for a creamy result. You can read more about this in the Urban Poser’s recipe.
22.   Bring one inch of water to a boil in a pot, and steam the trimmed florets for 11-12 minutes until they can be pierced easily with a paring knife.
33. Quickly transfer the steamed florets to a food processor and puree together with the butter/ghee, roasted garlic puree, and salt. Scrape down the sides at least once, and puree until the mixture is completely creamy.
44.  Add the chives and pulse a few times to incorporate.
55. Serve immediately. I dare you not to lick the bowl clean!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Toasted (not) Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich 'Katybars'



Before you think I'm crazy, no - I haven't lost my mind and gone back to eating peanut butter. I'm pretty against peanuts and peanut butter now, but I used to love them. Now I just have too many reasons to avoid peanuts. For one, most peanut butter is loaded with sugar, which I don't eat anymore. Two - peanuts aren't really a nut, they are a legume, and I don't eat those anymore. Neither sugar nor legumes are part of a Paleo or Primal diet because they both cause inflammation, which leads to chronic illnesses. Have you read my post "What the heck is Paleo anyway?" If not, it might clear up some confusion you are having right now. If you aren't sold that peanuts are pretty bad for you, you can read these two articles from Mark's Daily Apple (1 & 2). He does a great job of explaining the science-y stuff!

BUT if you are already on the Paleo train with me, and get why we stay away from sugar and peanuts, you probably still miss a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich like I do. My paternal grandmother, Eloise, who I call "Gaga," used to make me the most special PB&J ever. She would lovingly cut off the crusts, lightly BUTTER the outside of the sandwich and stick the whole thing in the toaster oven until it was warm, crunchy and gooey. I thought she was a genius. I still do actually. She is an amazing woman, and without her I would not be the same person I am today. She has leopard print carpet in her house, and she was into animal prints and lime green way before Snooki was (unfortunately) a household name. She loves a party, she loves sunsets on the beach, and a good glass of red wine at the end of the day. Everyone who meets my grandmother can instantly tell that there is something special about her that radiates from her soul.

Ian and I had the privilege of living with my grandmother for a few years, and in that time, we became even closer, and she also came to genuinely love Ian. She would tell me all the time that he was the one I needed to hold onto for the rest of my life, and she was completely right. We moved in with my grandmother not long after my grandfather passed away from pancreatic cancer. My grandmother was in the early stages of dementia, and she referred to us as her "roommates." I miss that time so much, and I miss her. We live 7 hours away now, and her short term memory has gotten much worse, and she now has 24 hour care in her home. Every time I talk to her on the phone it is pretty hard because she asks over and over if me and Ian will come back to be her roommates again. Even though her memory has gotten pretty bad, she has never forgotten Ian's name, and she always tells me that she misses him too. She remembers that she could always tell when he came home from work because she could hear him singing on his way in the house.

Anyway, I know you guys just want to get to the recipe, but I just wanted to explain a little background of why this particular flavor of a toasted peanut butter and jelly sandwich is so special to me. Like that scene in Ratatouille where the food critic takes one bite and is immediately brought back to his mother's kitchen, when I first made and tested this new bar, the flavor was spot on like a toasted peanut butter and jelly sandwich that my grandmother used to make for me when I was a child.

There are tons of recipes out there for homemade larabars, but this is my addition to the growing pile. These are nut and peanut free, as I have used sunflower seeds, and they are also made with raisins, instead of dates, so they are a little more affordable. Since they are nut free, you can probably make them to take to school if your child is in a nut-free classroom.

Toasted (not) Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich 'Katybars'

Ingredients:

16 oz of raw sunflower seeds (I used Trader Joe's Brand)
16 oz of Organic Thomson Seedless Raisins (again, I used Trader Joe's Brand)
1 tablespoon of grassfed butter or ghee (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt

Directions:

1. In a large saute pan or skillet, melt the butter or ghee. Add the sunflower seeds and toast over medium heat for about ten minutes, stirring constantly to prevent burning. (**If you do not eat butter because you have a milk allergy, you can omit the butter and just toast the sunflower seeds the same way, but dry, without any added oil. It is not necessary, it just adds to the toasted flavor!)
2. Once the sunflower seeds are toasted, add them into a large food processor, and process for about 30 seconds.
3. Add in the raisins and salt, and process another few minutes until the mixture comes together in a sticky ball.
4. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spread out the mixture onto a third of the pan.
5. Place another peiece of parchment paper on the top, and using a roling pin, smooth out the top so that you have one even layer.
6. Place in the fridge for 10-20 minutes, then use a sharp knife to cut into bars. You can also use cookie cutters to cut out fun shapes if you like.
7. This makes about 20 bars, depending on how large you cut them. Store in the fridge if you used the butter, or store in an airtight container on the counter if not.

I hope you guys love these as much as I do! If you grandmother is somewhere close by, go hug her for me, since I can't hug mine! I implore you guys to always be patient with someone suffering from short term memory problems. They are going to repeat things over and over, and I encourage you to just keep responding as if they haven't already told you that story. Their words are just as important, even if they aren't brand new each time. Even though my grandmother repeats herself all day, she has such a passion for life, and she refuses to give up, no matter how hard life has been for her at times. She has definitely made her life count, and I hope that someday I can be as good a grandmother to my grand kids as she was to me.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Fall Party Salad



Most people who "go paleo" are making pretty good choices when they are at home, but they get nervous when venturing out of their cave. What do I do when I go to a party? Am I going to be able to eat anything? If I don't eat something that everyone else is, will I look weird or rude?

Here's the solution: offer to bring something, and make sure it's something you can eat. There are tons of options, but I really like to bring a salad. I know, you must think I'm crazy for bringing a bunch of leaves and vegetables and thinking that it will be a hit -- but guess what? Every time I bring a salad people go nuts! I don't just go to the store and pick up one of those pre-made salads that's boring--I make a hand-crafted, artisan style salad that has enough elegance that people just HAVE to try it.

If you are just now joining me and haven't read all my posts, my caveman just recently got a new job and we moved to Virginia Beach. The people on his team at work, and his boss, and his boss's boss, are all AWESOME fun people. Everyone is a little different, from different age groups, different ethnicity, but all of them have a great sense of humor and love a party. This is the busy season for Ian's particular field, and to kick off the season, a month or so ago his boss had a cookout at her house, and invited everyone and their families. I asked if I could bring something, and she told me what a few other people were bringing. One of the couples was bringing their signature dish of Spanish Rice and Beans, which had their own flare because they are originally from the Dominican Republic. She mentioned a few other dishes, and I decided to make my Cuban Salad with fresh Avocado Vinaigrette. The only difference to the original recipe was that I added some hard chorizo, so that the salad had a little protein in it. That way, if I was unsure about eating anything else, I knew I could eat my dish, and be satisfied. Everyone absolutely LOVED the salad, and especially the dressing. It was different, but also had some familiar aspects that people were comfortable with, and just about everyone asked for the recipe for the dressing. The Dominican couple even took the leftover dressing home! Big success.

Fast forward to this month, and Ian's boss threw another party and this time ASKED me to bring a salad! "The one you made last time was so good!" So this time, I decided to make a fall salad inspired by what was fresh at the market on Saturday morning.



This salad is meant to feed a crowd, so if you are just making it for your family, cut the recipe in half. Or, make the whole amount, and then you can keep it in your fridge for a few days and serve on the side of a couple of meals.
 

Fall Party Salad

For the Salad
2 bags of Organic, pre-washed Arugula (I used Trader Joe's)
1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
2 small, or one large butternut squash, large diced (about 4 cups - you can also buy pre-cut butternut squash in a lot of stores now if you want to take a shortcut)
1 cup of organic raisins
1 teaspoon of melted coconut oil
1 teaspoon of maple syrup
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of sea salt

1. Pre-heat your oven to 400. Combine the diced butternut squash with coconut oil, maple syrup, cinnamon and sea salt and toss well to coat.
2. Roast the squash on a cookie sheet in a single layer for 30-45 minutes until the squash is starting to brown on the edges and is cooked through. Cool on the counter while assembling the rest of the salad.

For the toppings:



Spiced Pepitas
2 cups of raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 teaspoon of coconut oil
1 teaspoon of maple syrup
2 teaspoons of my House Rub
1 teaspoon of salt

1. Combine all the ingredients and spread out in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Toast in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 400 until the seeds are toasted and brown, but not burnt. Keep and eye on them and stir a few times during cooking. *I did this step while also cooking the butternut squash.

Prosciutto Wrapped Pears
2 4oz. packages of prosciutto
3 pears, cored and sliced into wedges

1. Cut the prosciutto slices into 3-4 strips per peice, using kitchen shears.
2. Wrap one strip of prosciutto around each pear slice, and layer the pears on a serving platter in a fan.

Manchego Cheese Shavings
3-4 oz block of Manchego Cheese
vegetable peeler

Manchego cheese is like a Spanish version of Parmesan, but made from sheep's milk and aged for a LONG time. It's nutty like Parmesan, but it can be easier on the tummy since it is made from sheep's milk instead of cow's. I found it at Trader Joe's, but I have also seen it in lots of "nice" grocery stores in their specialty cheese section. Use a vegetable peeler to shave the block of cheese into delicate shaves, and serve on the side of the salad in a bowl as an "optional" topping for those who like cheese. You can also substitute Parmesan if you can't find Manchego.

Maple Mustard Balsamic Dressing

3 tablespoons of whole grain mustard
3 tablespoons of maple syrup
2 tablespoons of minced shallots, or red onions
1 tablespoon of minced fresh garlic
3/4 cup of aged balsamic vinegar
1 1/4 cups of extra virgin olive oil
1-2 teaspoons of salt, based on your taste
lots of fresh ground pepper

1. Mix together all the ingredients but the oil in a large bowl. Let this sit for five minutes. The vinegar will disolve the salt and start to soften the shallots and garlic.
2. Slowly, whisk in the olive oil in a steady stream. You can also do this step in a blender if you prefer.
3. Store the salad dressing in a glass mason jar for up to a week.

Whenever I bring a salad, I either arrange the toppings in groups like I did with the Cuban Salad, or I put some on the side like with this salad. That way, if someone doesn't do pork, dairy, or seeds, they can leave those things off the salad.

I hope you enjoy this fall party salad as much as we did! Making an artisan salad is so much fun, and your guests don't even have to know that it is technically "paleo" or "primal." They will just enjoy a gourmet dish that looks and tastes like it came from a fancy restaurant. You will be surprised how many people will eat a fun salad, even if they claim they don't like vegetables. And if they don't? MORE FOR YOU! This salad keeps great to have as leftovers! But more often than not, when you bring any kind of homemade dish, paleo or not, people appreciate the effort you went to prepare real food, so don't be shy to bring a paleo dish to a party. Take real food, prepared with love, and take it with confidence! Have a great week everybody!


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Recipes from Baconpalooza 2013



 Photo Courtesy of Molly Peterson

So this post is a little late. I'm so very sorry. I have had a LOT going on lately. I started a new job, which has been stressful, time consuming and very draining. It's definitely not my dream job, but as Anne Hathaway said in "The Devil Wears Prada,"-- "Here's to jobs that pay the rent." That's all I'm going to say about that right now. *** UPDATE: I no longer work at that awful job, and now I am the Lead Assistant for The Paleo Parents! Yay! I now work from home for Stacy and Matt and I love my job! See? All things work out for the best!***

So back to things I love spending time and energy on, like cooking and eating bacon. A little less than a month ago I participated in the Paleo Bacon Cook-Off for Baconpalooza. I promised to post the recipe the following week, but I immediately started my new job, and this got postponed. I am doing a guest post later this week on Paleo Parents (eek! first guest post EVER!) to re-cap all the fun details of the event, but here are the recipes I promised from my entry.


Photo Courtesy of Molly Peterson



You guys already have access to that fabulous BBQ sauce, and so I will divulge the simple secrets to the rest of the dish.

For the meat of the dish, I slowly braised a combination of pork butt, jowl, and belly for 8 hours. I used this combination of cuts to achieve a truly luscious blend of meat. The belly and the jowl are both fattier cuts than a butt or a shoulder, and they also tend to have more flavor. I also wanted to make a "whole hog" BBQ, so I mixed and matched cuts. This makes a HUGE batch, but you can certainly pair it down and only use a butt or a shoulder with the same method, and less rub with similar results for a smaller recipe.  



For the Pulled Pork:

2 bone-in Boston Butts
1 Pork Jowl, the top layer of fat trimmed down as much as possible (reserve for another use, like to make lard!)
1 Pork Belly, again, the top layer of fat trimmed down as much as possible
1 cup of purified water

1. Thoroughly coat all of the pieces of pork in the rub. Really massage it into that lucious pork! Refridgerate overnight.


2. The next day, place all of the pork in a LARGE dutch oven (I used my trusty Le Creuset) and cook for 7-8 hours in the oven at 225, until the meat is falling apart and tender. **You could probably also cook this in a crock pot, but alas, I don't have one!
3. Carefully remove the pork to drain off the excess fat and liquid. I placed the pork on top of a cookie rack, which was placed over a cookie sheet.
4. Allow the pork to cool enough to handle it, and then carefully and methodically shred the meat with two forks. This took me quite a while for all this meat.
5. Now you can store the shredded meat in the fridge until you are ready to combine it with the sauce.

Next, I combined the shredded pork with the Pete's Paleo bacon. Let me just say, this bacon is hands down, THE BEST you will find. I might be a little partial, because Pete is one of my friends and fellow classmates from culinary school, but seriously, you guys HAVE to try this stuff. One of the fabulous things about Pete's bacon, is that it's extra smoky with goes really well with my BBQ flavors. In addition, Pete ships his bacon out in SLABS instead of pre-sliced, allowing you to decided how thick you want your bacon! I decided to cut it into lardons, which is a fancy french word for a medium dice. Boy did my hand hurt after cubing up 4 pounds of bacon! I then cooked the bacon lardons in my trusty cast iron skillet, reserving the bacon grease in a jar for my own use later. ;) Perks of the job, you know! In the end, my BBQ mixture was about 60% pulled pork and 40% bacon lardons. If you are trying to pair down the recipe to feed a smaller crowd, just use this ratio. You could also just cut up any bacon of your choosing, fry it up, and add it to your pulled pork mixture.

Next, I whipped up a quadruple batch of my Paleo Carolina Gold BBQ Sauce. YUM! I combined this with the luscious pulled pork/bacon lardon mixture at the contest. That was one HUGE pot of BBQ! Mustard BBQ doesn't always look super appetizing (or photograph well on it's own), but it is insanely good. If you like honey mustard, and you like BBQ, you will love Mustard Based sauce, also known as Carolina Gold.



I also made a simple Peach Jalapeno Salsa:
Makes TWO large Mason Jars



12 ripe peaches, diced
8 jalapenos, de-seeded, and small diced
1 bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
2 teaspoons of chili powder
a few good pinches of sea salt

1. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, then transfer to your mason jars. This is a fresh salsa that should be eaten within a few days of making.

Lastly, the pickled onions! So easy, so delicious

 Photo Courtesy of Molly Peterson

Pickled Onions

4 red onions, thinly sliced
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon of honey
1 tablespoon of sea salt

1. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, then transfer to mason jars, and store in the fridge. These will keep much longer in the fridge, up to a month. They are good on EVERYTHING from these tacos, to salads, to sardines!

The last element of the appetizer was the raw jicama shell. I got the idea from Zen Belly Blog, so head over to her post to see how its done!

That's all I am going to say for now about Baconpalooza, but be sure to look for my guest post soon!



  Photo Courtesy of Molly Peterson

  Photo Courtesy of Molly Peterson

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sausage and Kale Soup



A week or so ago I was on Facebook and one of my favorite bloggers, Arsy from Rubies and Radishes, asked her followers, "What is your favorite fall soup?" I immediately responded with "Sausage and Kale soup, topped with hot sauce." She replied, "Recipe?" and I realized that I had to blog this recipe, because when kale is in season, I make this soup at least once a week.

I have found an awesome stand at one of the farmer's markets that I shop at in Chesapeake, that is run by a group of women who call themselves "Farmchicksproduce." They have wonderful eggs for only $3 a dozen, and tons of seasonal produce. They caught my eye because they are the busiest booth at this particular market. They have recently been selling kale, and the first week I only bought one pound. The next week I went ahead and bought two pounds. This week I bought three. That's how much I love kale! I know that dark leafy greens are incredibly good for us, but I am not a big fan of spinach. It's just not my thing. I love that kale is more tender than collard greens and less bitter than mustard greens, but still earthy and leafy. To me, greens just HAVE to be paired with pork in some way. It's simply just the way it must be in the South, and since I was raised in the South, that's the way I do it!

So here it is, the most simple, but satisfying fall soup recipe you will find. You can use any kind of sausage you want, and in fact, I've made it with everything from chorizo, to hot italian, to smoked polish, to keilbasa, to chicken sausage. It doesn't have to be a hard sausage either -- you can certainly use loose sausage too. Just make sure that the sausage is from a good source, that is free of chemicals and added sugar, and preferably from a pasture raised source that you trust.

Sausage and Kale Soup

Ingredients:

1 pound of Sausage, any variety
1 pound of Kale, ribs removed and torn into medium pieces
1 large yellow onion, small diced
2 cups small diced carrots
1 cup small diced celery
4 cloves of garlic, minced
6 cups of bone broth/stock, preferably homemade (you can use chicken, pork or beef)
2-3 tablespoons of bacon grease or lard
Salt and pepper to taste
Hot Sauce, or a dash of vinegar, to serve (if desired)

Directions:

1. In a large, heavy bottomed soup pot (I used my trusty Le Creuset) brown the sausage. If you are using hard sausage, dice it into bite size pieces before browning. If you are using loose sausage, simply brown and break up like you would hamburger meat. My sausage was fatty enough that I did not need to add any fat to the pan, but if you use chicken sausage, you will need to add some bacon fat or lard. When the sausage is browned and cooked through, remove with a slotted spoon and reserve in a bowl to add back in later. Leave the grease in the pan.
2. In the sausage grease, add the onions, carrots and celery, and a good sprinkle of salt and pepper. Let these veggies cook for at least 15 minutes to soften and develop their flavor.
3. After the veggies have softened, add 1 more tablespoon of bacon grease or lard, and then add in the pound of kale,the minced garlic, and another large pinch of salt. Use tongs to toss the kale and veggies around so that everything is evenly distributed, and the kale is coated in the fat. The kale will be huge at first and seem like it won't all fit, but it will wilt down. Cook for 4-6 minutes until you can smell and see that the garlic has cooked, and the greens are wilted.
4. Add the sausage back into the pot, toss to evenly distribute, and add in all of your stock. Let the soup simmer for 30 minutes, and taste to check for seasoning. Add more salt if necessary.
5. Serve with a good dash of hot sauce on top, if hot sauce is your thing. I think it goes especially great with the greens because it adds a vinegary, spicy element that is perfect with sausage and kale. If you can't handle hot sauce because you are staying away from nightshades, I still suggest adding a dash of vinegar to the soup to still achieve that tang that is so great with greens.

*As a side note, look for hot sauces that have simple ingredients, with no added xantham gum or guar gum as thickeners. Both of those gums are known to cause intestinal issues, and they are also often made from GMO corn. Ew. Let's stay away from that stuff, mmkay? I have recently been digging Melinda's Habenero Hot Sauce.  Their ingredients are clean, and read like a recipe, rather than a science experiment, which makes me happy!  



So Happy Fall everyone! Special thanks to FarmChicksProduce for your hard work, and also to Arsy for the Facebook and Instagram love you have been showing me lately! Much love and appreciation to you both.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Oven Roasted Wings 2.0 with Honey Hot Sauce



My very first post was about oven roasted chicken wings. Ian grew up in South Carolina, and those crazy South Carolinians love their wings. I stopped making them for a while when we were in Danville, because our apartment's fire alarm would go off if I cooked anything over 400 degrees in the oven. It was irritating. So now that we are in a new apartment with a fire alarm that isn't so tempremetal, I started making oven roasted wings again. I have slightly improved the recipe from the orginial, so here is the 2.0 version, just in time for football season!

Oven Roasted Wings 2.0 with Honey Hot Sauce
Serves 2 Very Hungry Lovebirds

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons of Katy's House Rub
24 chicken wings, mix of drumettes and flats
1/3 cup Tessamae's Hot Sauce
1/3 cup of melted Grassfed butter, such as Smjor or Kerrygold
2 tablespoons of honey, preferably local

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, evenly coat all the wings in the rub, mix together thorougly and marinate in the fridge for at least and hour, and up to half a day.
2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, and spread the wings out on a cookie sheet.
3. Roast the wings for 30 minutes.
4. Flip the wings and roast for another 20 to 30 minutes until the wings are cooked through and starting to blacken on the edges a bit. If they are starting to look dry at the halfway point, brush them with a little melted butter.
5. While the wings are cooking, whisk together the honey, Tessamae's hot sauce and melted butter until thorougly combined.
6. When the wings are done roasting, toss them in a bowl with the sauce and serve with plenty of paper towels and lots of water!

** Want this recipe less spicy? Try using Tessamae's Medium Hot Sauce instead! 

I also suggest a nice crisp salad as a side item to this spicy dish! Maybe my Paleo Cuban Salad with Avocado Vinaigrette? Just sayin'!




Hope you guys enjoy this FANTASTIC wing recipe! Happy Sunday!

*Note: I have not received any commissions or compensation for the products I have suggested in this post. But I do highly recommend them!


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Braised Grassfed Lengua with Cabbage and Tessamaes Hot Sauce



So remember when I went on a rant about the whole Sally Fallon WAPF thing and bragged about my grassfed cow tounge in my freezer? Well I guess it was time this week to step up to the plate and cook the damn thing.

I first heard of "lengua" when I was in culinary school. One of my classmates was Mexican, and she told us about how eating tongue was popular in most Central and South American countries. She shared this tidbit while we were in Meat Fabrication class, and most of the class balked at the idea of eating tongue. She claimed that when it was prepared properly, it tasted just like roast beef. Well, I really like roast beef, so I thought, "What the hell, I'll try it at least once!"

Her family owned a string of authentic Mexican restaurants in Atlanta, and she said that Tacos de Lengua was not only on their menu, but a very popular item. She offered to cook a tongue, and then bring it in to show us how it was done.

She didn't go into detail about her family's secret recipe, but I remember her saying that it braised for a long time. She brought it in after it was cooked and then she taught us how to slice through the outer layer, and peel off the taste buds. She said, "You know, just like a plantain." I know you are thinking what I thought at the time. A plantain doesn't have freaking taste buds! You are expecting me to eat that?!? Well, I had to prove that I was man enough, or well, woman enough to eat tongue, and what I found was that she was completely right. Lengua does taste exactly like extremely rich and moist roast beef.

Fast forward many years later and I find myself trying to include more offal into my Paleo diet. I walked into Virginia Organic Garden Grocery, where they have a whole cooler full of Polyface grassfed and pastured meats, and a little sign above it saying, "We also have tongue and other organ meats in our back up cooler. If you are interested, please ask us at the register." So of course I did. I came home with a huge freaking TONGUE, and promptly stuck it in my freezer. There it sat for a few weeks. After I made a batch of especially delicious bone broth, Ian looked at me and said, "It's time to cook that tongue."

So here is what I did:

Braised Grassfed Cow Tongue

Ingredients:
1 grassfed cow tongue
8 cups of stock, preferably homemade (any kind will do, I used chicken stock, but you could also use pork or beef stock as well)
1 onion, any variety, halved
3 stalks of organic celery, chunked
3 organic carrots, chunked
1 head of garlic, cut in half 
2 tablespoons of sea salt
2 teaspoons fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon paparika
2 teaspoons of chili powder
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
2 teaspoons of ground corriander
2 teaspoons of ground cumin
4 bay leaves

Instructions:

1. Place all of the veggies and seasoning in a large dutch oven. I used my trusty Le Crueset.
2. Place the thawed tongue on top, and fill the pot with the stock.
3. Braise in the oven at 225 degrees Fahrenheit for 8-9 hours. I put mine in the oven when I was headed to bed.
4. When you wake up in the morning, take the dutch oven out of the oven, and then place on a trivet in your fridge to cool. I left it there to cool all day while I was at work.



*** I bet you could do all of this in a crock pot, but I don't know because I don't have one. But I really bet it would work just the same. Just try it on low for the same amount of time, and please leave a comment if you try it in your crock pot and it works!***


Ok, now you've got your cooked and cooled tongue. Next, put your big girl panties on, and prepare to peel that tongue. You can do it, I promise. It builds character, and you will feel awesome for conquering your fear of the unknown.

So next, do just what my Mexican friend suggested, and treat it like a plantain. Using a paring knife, slit it lengthwise through the outer layer, and peel off that layer along with those icky taste buds. Underneath you will find BEAUTIFUL braised meat, that looks just like roast beef. Shred that and either set it aside, or store it until you are ready to cook dinner.




Now you are certainly welcome to use your shredded lengua and make tacos, but I had something else in mind. My MIL loves ground beef sauteed with cabbage, onions and drizzled with hot sauce. It's crazy simple, and also INCREDIBLY good. Doesn't sound like it would be, and certainly doesn't look like anything special, but it is really good. So I decided to step that idea up with my freshly braised tongue. I also decided to add some carrot ribbons to the dish for a few carbs, and for a little color. To make carrot ribbons, use your peeler to peel your carrot... and just keep on going with the peeler. Super easy, and no fancy tools required.




Braised Grassfed Lengua with Cabbage and Tessamaes Hot Sauce
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

1 braised grassfed cow tongue, shredded
1 organic head of cabbage, with the core removed, and sliced into shreds
1 red onion, juliened
4 organic carrots, ribboned (see above)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of grassfed butter (like Kerrygold)
2 tablespoons of lard, or other healthy fat
salt and pepper to taste
Tessamaes Hot Sauce to taste

Directions:

1. Melt one tablespoon each of butter and lard in a very large skillet, or cast iron pan. Brown the onions on medium high for 5 minutes, and season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
2. Add the carrot ribbons to the pan, season again and cook for another 5 minutes.
3. Add the shredded cabbage, season with a LARGE pinch of salt, some pepper, and cook for about 10-15 minutes, until the cabbage has wilted and has started to brown.
4. Push all the veggies to the side, and add the rest of the butter and lard to the empty side of the pan. Once melted and bubbling, add the braised tongue and saute to heat the tongue through, and also to caramelize just a bit, about 3-5 minutes. 
5. Mix together the veggies and the tongue, and add the minced garlic and continue to cook for another 3-5 minutes until the garlic is cooked and fragrant.
6. Serve up this delicious, albiet seemingly humble and odd dish with a drizzle of your favorite hot sauce. I have recently took the plunge and jumped on the bandwagon and bought Tessamaes (sold at Whole Foods), and I highly recommend it! Not only is it Paleo friendly, but it is really tasty on any number of foods, from wings to eggs to lengua.

So there you have it! My take on tongue. Moral of the story? It's delicious and nutritious, so just man up and try it already. Ok, now I have to go to spend time with my man. I've neglected him long enough to share this recipe with ya'll, but even he agrees that it is the stuff that crazy dreams are made of, and it had to be shared. So man up and eat up, yo.




Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Macadamia Nut Cookie Sweet Potato Hash Browns

Have you tried Nikki's Coconut Butter? This stuff is truly awesome. This cool little company makes 5 really delicious flavors of coconut butter from wholesome, paleo-friendly ingredients. All of their flavors are naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, and sweetened with only natural sweeteners like maple syrup, honey, and dates. Ian's mom is so sweet, and for my birthday she sent me (really she sent us) a sampler box of every flavor. So what did my creative chef mind come up with using this awesome ingredient? Um... nothing. The first sampler set we just simply ate with a spoon.... straight out of the jar. We. Just. Couldn't. Stop. True story. It's that good.



So she sent us another one as a house warming present when we moved into our new digs. I vowed to actually cook some things with this set, rather than eating it straight from the jar. I sorta suceeded. The Midnight Mocha flavor didn't quite make it. That's my favorite flavor by the way -- go order some right this second.

My second favorite flavor is the Macadamia Nut Cookie, and so I came up with this wonderful recipe. I hope you guys like it!



Macadamia Nut Cookie Sweet Potato Hash Browns
Serves 2-4

Ingredients

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 cup of lard for frying ( you could also use coconut oil)
2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 tablespoon of Macadamia Nut Cookie Nikki's Coconut Butter

Directions

1. In a large cast iron pan, melt the lard (or coconut oil) to 350 degrees.
2. Add in the cubed sweet potatoes, and fry for 10-15 minutes, stirring often to promote even browning. It's ok if they aren't fully submerged in oil, just make sure to keep stirring.
3. When the sweet potatoes are done and browned evenly on all sides, remove to a large glass or metal bowl. It's ok if some of the lard comes with the sweet potatoes because you will need it.
4. Toss the sweet potato hash browns with salt, cinnamon, and the tablespoon of coconut butter.
5. Once the coconut butter hits the hot hash browns and lard, it will melt and you will be able to easily coat all the sweet potatoes in a thin layer of coconut butter. Trust me, all you need is that one tablespoon!



If you don't have Nikki's coconut butter, I suppose you could just use a plain coconut butter and then chop some toasted macadamia nuts to go with the dish. BUT Nikki's Coconut Butter will seriously change your life. It's very rich, so it will last you a long time, and you only need to add a spoonful to recipes to add an enormous amount of richness and flavor.

There are already some recipes on Nikki's site, and Ian's mom made the Mary's Carrot Cake which features the Honey Pecan Pie flavor in the cake and the Vanilla Cake Batter in the frosting. She came and visited us this past weekend, and was absolutely raving about that recipe, and in particular the frosting. I had already planned to make the Carrot Cake Cream Pies from Primal Cravings, and instead of making their recipe for a dairy free cream, I decided to be a little naughty and use the frosting recipe that Ian's mom raved about. OMG amazing. First of all, the soft cakes were so delicious. I won't reveal the recipe out of respect for the authors, but I highly suggest that book. So many amazing recipes. Someday soon I will do a full review of the book. Secondly, THAT FROSTING! Crazy fluffy and good. We thoroughly enjoyed this treat, and they were even better the next morning after they had been refrigerated.



I know, these aren't great photos, but I was more concerned with EATING the cream pies, than food styling and lighting. And I may have been drinking a little wine at the time too. :P Because what goes better with baking than wine, right?

Anyway, I hope you guys give Nikki Coconut Butter a try, and I also suggest you check out Primal Cravings by the cute couple at Health Bent. Nope, neither has paid me to say these things or create this recipe, they are just a few things I am interested in right now, and I wanted to share! Until next time...

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Don't judge me until you've looked in my fridge, Sally.

Usually I just write posts about a recipe. This is not one of those posts. I wanted to add my two cents to a discussion about the recent Weston A. Price vs. Paleo debacle. The Weston A. Price Foundation is an organization that promotes a traditional diet, that focuses on nutrient dense foods, properly raised and cultivated, and also properly prepared. Their dietary guidelines can be found here. Quarterly, they put out a newsletter, and in the most recent issue, their President, Sally Fallon Morell, wrote an article entitled "MYTH: THE WAPF DIET IS LIKE THE PALEO DIET". (To see that article, just scroll down a bit on that page) It would be an understatement to say that I was offended.

My blog is not meant to be a rebuttle of that argument. It has already been done by many bloggers, inlcuding in  this post from The Paleo Mom. She sums it up quite well. I highly suggest you read it. She said everything that my brain was screaming after I read the offensive WAPF article.

So the first of my two cents is this:

1. I am used to my "Paleo Diet" being attacked by the general SAD (Standard American Diet) eating public. That I can deal with. Honestly, I know it's usually not their fault. They just don't have all the information I do, and they have been misinformed their whole lives, so when they tell me that my delicious lard will clog my arteries, I just smile and nod. It was a slap in the face, however to be disregarded and so poorly misrepresented by the leader of an organization that I respected, and that I thought was on "my team." The real food team, that is.


My second cent:

2. This debate reminds me a little of the Chick-fil-A scandal that was in the news recently. You remember, when everyone was up in arms because the founder, S. Truett Cathy, was giving money to anit-gay organizations? It was a big deal, wasn't it? Now, I gave up eating Chick-fil-A long ago, and it had nothing to do with the politics, and more about cutting out all fast food from my diet, but of course I followed the issue a little because I have a few close friends who are gay. At first, I understood why so many people were boycotting Chick-fil-A. They obviously didn't want their money going to fund an anti-gay cause. Makes sense. Then I read a note posted on facebook by one of their employees that I didn't necessarily know, but I knew of through friends. In the note, he wrote about how the scandal was affecting him and his family. He owns a Chick-fil-A and he was hurt. Because S. Truett Cathy was seemingly anti-gay, people assumed he and his family were too just because he worked for the company. People were boycotting his particular restaurant because of politics, but it felt to him more like they were boycotting his livelihood over a cause that he didn't agree with either, as he also has several close friends that are gay. He encouraged the readers to see Chick-fil-A as an organization made up of many different people, many who hold different opinions on the issue of sexuality from Cathy.

The WAPF organization is completely different from the fast food chain, obviously, but the sentiment is the same. There are many card carrying members of the organization that are probably just as angry about the article as I am. They are probably irritated that because Sally drew a line in the sand between WAPF and Paleo, that they are now viewed as having the same opinion as her, when that may not necessarily be true. Just as it was pretty stupid for Sally to make blanket assumptions about "us," the Paleo community, lets not make the same mistake and make assumptions about "them," the WAPF community. We really do agree with each other about 95% about what we should be eating to stay healthy.

Just as I visit many WAPF sites and blogs, I suspect that many WAPF dieters also enjoy Paleo sites and food blogs. I would wager a guess that many of "them" understand "us" a hell of a lot better than Sally seemingly does.

So basically what I am saying is this: Sally, you owe all of us an apology. You misrepresented us very poorly, but you also misrepresented your own just as poorly. 

Oh, and it just has to be said: Sally, I'd like you to know that I have five jars of pastured pork lard in my fridge, and a grassfed cow tongue in my freezer that happens to be sitting next to a bag of bones for my next batch of bone broth. Just sayin'. Don't judge me until you've looked in my fridge. Ok, vent off.
 
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