Sunday, December 22, 2013

Easy Artichoke Party Dip!

The opportunity to bring a dish to a party is simultaneously exciting and nerve wracking. Exciting because I love to share food. Nerve wracking because because I have to a make decision about what to bring and decisions aren't my strong suit. Should I make my baked ham and cheese sliders? Or maybe a delicious fruit pizza? My bacon wrapped shrimp always go over well. And my German potato salad is my absolute favorite for summer BBQs. But for the holidays, I want something warm, cheesy and delicious. Also, since my time management skills get even worse with the holidays rapidly approaching, making something that requires minimal effort but yields amazing results is pretty high on my wish list. 

This 4 ingredient recipe comes from my friend, Parisse. She brought it to my house for my holiday wreath decorating party and everyone gathered around and it and didn't move until it was gone. You could even make it paleo by using homemade mayonnaise. I simply had to give homemade mayo a try, despite the whole point of this appetizer being that it would have minimal prep time. I just can't help complicating things. I used Against All Grain's recipe from her cookbook. While it was overall pretty easy, it did take me two tries. I really should have paid more attention to the note about a small blender or food processor being key. My second batch turned out nice. I used a mix of roasted garlic avocado oil, walnut oil, and olive oil. Whether you choose to make your own mayo or use store bought, this dip is delicious and so easy to throw together when your indecision and time management skills get the best of you. 

Easy Artichoke Party Dip

Serves 6-10

1 14 oz can artichoke hearts
1 4 oz can chopped green chiles 
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 - 1 cup shredded parmesan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Drain artichoke hearts and roughly chop them up and place them in a small to medium baking dish. Add the green chiles, mayonnaise and 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese. Mix well. Top mixture with remaining cheese and bake for 30 minutes. Turning up to broil in the last few minutes if you want the cheese to brown up more.

Serve with chips, pita chips, carrots, or whatever else you like! 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Lemon and Basil Roasted Cauliflower

I'm very bad at time management. Not something I would openly admit in a job interview, but we are all friends here and I trust you to keep my little secret. Plus, it's not that I really suck at time management per se... [Don't mind Adam shaking his head over here], it's more that I think I can accomplish an impossible amount in a short amount of time. Every morning I am convinced that I can sleep in till 7:00, take a shower, pet the dog, blow dry my hair, get back in bed to cuddle with the dog, check Facebok, put on makeup, pay some bills, walk the dog, make breakfast, and leave the house by 7:30 - no problem! And no matter how often this is proved wrong (every, single time), I continue to try. I like to call that tenacity.

One Sunday I decided to have Adam's parents over for dinner. A somewhat fancy dinner. Roast chicken, gravy, salad with homemade dressing, mashed potatoes, and some kind of side dish. So naturally, like anyone preparing for a busy day, I sleep in and finally get my butt moving around noon. (This is what happens when Adam has to work on the weekends.) I then decide that I have plenty of time to go to Cost Plus World Market and obsess over which place mats and cloth napkins to get for over an hour.  Then, of course, I decide I'll just swing by Lowes to pick up some supplies for grouting our tile backsplash in the kitchen, and while I'm in that neck of the woods I might as well swing by Trader Joe's, and after that, the pet store to return a collar I bought for Penny and then decided against (have I mentioned I'm not good at making decisions?). And then once I get home, at 3:30 mind you, I decide I have PLENTY of time to start grouting the backsplash project, cook dinner, and shower all before my in-laws arrive at 6:00. Easy peasy. I can get all that done in three hours, right? Wrong. Turns out grouting backsplash is really a project that you should set aside at least 4 hours for. And it's messy, so maybe you shouldn't do it when you need to use your kitchen to cook in immediately after. Or when you want to look presentable to your in-laws and you may or may not have left yourself enough time to shower.

I often find myself in these kinds of pickles. So, you see, saving time in the kitchen is sometimes very welcome for me. That's where Dorot comes in and their line of pre-packaged herbs. I needed a quick side dish to impress my not so vegetable-y inclined in-laws and was pretty sure I could turn a head of cauliflower fresh from my farmer's box into something they could dig, or at the very least try.

With the help of these cute little frozen cubes of chopped basil and garlic, I quickly turned a simple head of cauliflower into a roasted delight. Seriously, this was some tasty cauliflower. Outside of my cauliflower crust pizza, you probably never knew cauliflower could taste this good. My mother-in-law even went back for seconds and was shocked at herself! (Now we know who Adam gets it from!)

Lemon and Basil Roasted Cauliflower 

Serves 4-6 as a side dish

1 head of cauliflower
1 cube of Dorot chopped basil
1 cube of Dorot crushed garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
squeeze of lemon juice - probably about 1/2 tablespoon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or more or less to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste 
chopped chives as a garnish, if desired

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Rinse and dry cauliflower. Cut cauliflower into florets, trying to maintain somewhat even sized florets. 

Over very low heat in small saucepan, add 1 cube of Dorot chopped basil and 1 cube of Dorot crushed garlic. Add olive oil. Heat until herb cubes break up, stirring often. Turn off heat and add lemon zest and lemon juice to olive oil mixture.

In a large bowl toss cauliflower florets with olive oil mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss again. Place cauliflower in a single layer on a tin foil lined baking sheet.

Roast in pre-heated oven for 30-40 minutes. Toss once during cooking time. I like mine a little bit crispy so I lean towards 40 minutes.

Sprinkle with chopped chives if desired. Serve warm.

*This post is sponsored by Dorot, but all opinions expressed are my own. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash [Paleo and Gluten-Free]

I just asked my husband if I could put this on my "Picky Husband Approved" page and his response - "Oh yeah, big fan!" This is shocking to me since I'm not even sure he knows what an acorn squash is, but he ate this up real quick and went back for seconds and thirds. Besides the miraculous response from my non foodie husband, I'm also excited to share this recipe with you because it is the perfect fall side dish. It's excellent for breakfast and it would make an amazing gluten-free substitute for Thanksgiving day stuffing or dressing. Seriously, this is all your paleo, gluten-free side dish dreams come true. 

If you don't make this as a gluten-free Thanksgiving side dish, then I highly recommend you make it for the morning after Thanksgiving. This is one dish that brings together all the warm and delicious flavors of fall. It's healthy, it's filling, and it is delicious. Seriously, if Adam endorses it then you don't want to miss out. 

Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash
Serves 4 

1 acorn squash
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
garlic powder
1 lb quality pork breakfast sausage (I get mine from Sprouts)
6 fresh sage leaves - chopped
1/4 cup coarsely shredded parmesan cheese (optional)
1/4 cup roasted pepitas 
red pepper flakes to taste 
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 diced onion 

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Cut acorn squash in half. Scoop out the seeds. A melon baller works well for this. Rub cut sides of squash with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Place squash cut side down on a tin foil lined baking sheet. Bake for 30-40 minutes until soft.

Meanwhile, dice onion. Heat olive oil in a large pan. Add onion and saute for about 2 minutes. Crumble breakfast sausage and add to the pan. Add red pepper to taste. 

When sausage is pretty much cooked all the way through, add chopped sage and garlic. Cook for 2 more minutes. Turn off heat and add pepitas and parmesan (if using). 

Once squash is done roasting, place squash halves cut side up in a glass baking dish. Turn oven down to 350 degrees. Using a spoon or melon baller, scoop out squash flesh (leaving enough to keep shells standing up) and add squash to pan with sausage. Mix well. Scoop sausage and squash mixture into the acorn squash shells. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve warm. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Taco Shepherd's Pie [Paleo and Gluten-Free]

This post is a long time coming. I've really, really been holding out on you. This Taco Shepherd's Pie is the perfect paleo meal. Easy to make and delicious. It makes a perfect lunch to go (Adam eats it cold) and it reheats well. You should pretty much hate me for not sharing this with you sooner. (Please don't hate me!) And to make matters worse I've frequently mentioned how this dish is in pretty constant rotation at our house and yet it has taken me until now to share it with you. Not because I was trying to perfect it, oh no, this baby was perfect from the get go. But because, this dish always gets gobbled up before I even have a chance to take pictures. And also, because I almost never really follow a "recipe" when I make it, which makes it hard to share the recipe. 

This also made it onto Adam's list of Top Favorite Things I Make! Which is quite an accomplishment considering my husband isn't much to talk about food. I know, such a sad pairing when you are a food blogger. Our dinner conversations usually go like this: Me - "Soooo, what do you think?" Adam - "It's good." Me - "Like good, good? You mean great, right? Like amazing great, right?" Adam - "Sure." Me - "Ok, tell me if it sucks. I can take it." Adam - [surprised] "No! It's good. I really like it! I do." I'm probably scaring you away from all my food right now by making it sound like my very own husband only has average feelings about my cooking. But trust me, he's just not a food lover like you and me. Also, apparently he did a very good job of blocking out his meals from bachelorhood.

Basically, this is my Veggie Packed Taco Meat with my Quick Mashed Sweet Potatoes on top. So easy! I toyed with adding cheddar cheese to the sweet potato mash topping, but in the end I found it wasn't really necessarily and didn't enhance the flavor any. I recommend serving this with avocado slices, or guacamole. Or if you eat dairy I love a dollop of Greek yogurt in lieu of sour cream on top.

Paleo Taco Shepherd's Pie

Inspired by Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice  
Makes 4-6 Servings

Taco Meat Filling:

1 lb lean grass-fed ground beef (or turkey!)
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 bell pepper (any color), finely chopped
2 carrots, shredded (using a food processor or hand held cheese grater)
1 large zucchin, shredded (using a food processor or hand held cheese grater)
1 teaspoon olive oil 
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes and green chiles
1/2  packet Trader Joe's taco seasoning OR 1 packets your favorite seasoning OR make your own seasoning
1/2  (6 oz) can tomato paste (you may use less depending on your taste)*
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste if needed 
1/4 cup water (if needed)

Heat a large pan on the stove. Prep your veggies. Dice your onion and bell pepper. Using a fine grater, shred your carrots and zucchini.

Add the teaspoon of olive oil to the pan and allow to heat up. Add the onions, bell pepper, and carrots to the pan. I then immediately add the meat to the pan and allow the fat from the meat to help cook the veggies. Using a spatula to break up the meat as you go.

Once the meat is browned, drain the fat off the meat if needed. Add the shredded zucchini. Stir. Add the can of fire roasted tomatoes and green chiles and your seasoning mix. Stir.

Add the tomato paste and water if needed. I often just add the tomato paste and stir well and find that the juices from the fire roasted tomatoes are enough to mix the paste in. But if you are having trouble mixing in your tomato paste, add 1/4 cup water. You may want to start with a spoonful of tomato paste, taste, and add more as you like.  

Let simmer for 3-5 minutes to get the flavors to mingle. Place meat in a medium glass baking dish. An 8x11 2 quart baking dish works well. 

Sweet Potato Topping:

2 medium sweet potatoes 
1/4 cup greek yogurt (or you could use a couple tablespoons of chicken broth or coconut milk if you are avoiding dairy)
dash of cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Bake sweet potatoes in oven at 350 until tender and soft. Scoop out the flesh of the baked sweet potatoes and add to a bowl. Add spices and greek yogurt if using. Mash with a fork, wooden spoon or potato masher until a smooth consistency is reached. If you are forgoing the dairy add chicken broth or coconut milk a tablespoon at a time until you get the desired consistency you like. 

Using a rubber spatula spread the mashed sweet potatoes over the taco meat evenly. Bake in a 350 degree pre-heating oven for 30 min. Top with sliced green onions and serve with guacamole, sour cream, or greek yogurt as a sour cream substitute. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Summer Vegetable Enchiladas with Homemade Verde Sauce

Oh hi! Are you still there? I hope so. It's been a while (again). Let me show you some pictures of things that are happening in my kitchen and beg your forgiveness.

{The fridge will go where the washer and dryer used to be with cabinets around it and the counter top will extend where the fridge used to be.}

And by the way, all this happened by my hands. Well, not really MY hands, more like my Dad and Adam's hands. But I did do some light sanding, some protecting of my floors, and some major supervising. Stick to what your good at, right? I also picked out granite and cabinets!!! Yipeee! This involved really putting on my decision making hat and let me tell you that hat doesn't fit my head very well. Luckily, I found granite that spoke to me the minute I saw it. It said, "Hey Michelle. I'm your granite. I'm the one for you. I'm your true love. Leave Adam for me. Oh, you want to keep Adam. Ok, I can work with that." So that part was easy. The hard part with the cabinets was price. I new I wanted white and something close to a shaker style door. I'm really happy with what I picked out and I can't wait till they arrive in August! Then we just have to keep our fingers crossed that Adam and I (with the help of our handyman) have a knack for installing cabinets. Eeek!

{Our Granite! It's so pretty in person!}

{Penny found a new favorite spot while we replaced our pantry door}

So, anyways. Kitchen renovating is stressful. (Unless you are Penny and you just sit inside the pantry all day.) What relieves stress? Enchiladas. Yes, yes they do. While at the grocery store picking up a can of delicious green enchilada sauce so I could quickly whip up a batch of cheesy gooey stress relieving goodness, I happened to do the darnedest thing. I read the back of the can. Duh, duh, DUH. Corn Syrup? No thank you. Corn Starch? I could do without it. MSG? NO thank you. Other things I can't pronounce. I'd rather skip. Next thing I knew I was picking up 1.5  pounds of tomatillos, some Anaheim chilies, cilantro (even though I hate the stuff), and $4.28 later I was well on my way to some homemade green enchilada sauce. 

Let me tell you this stuff is liquid green gold. It is well worth the effort and I have already doubled the recipe (causing my food processor to nearly explode despite breaking it into two blending batches) and have 3 jars of homemade verde sauce chillin' in my freezer for when the kitchen renovation stress hits another high and a  hankering for enchiladas kicks in. Hopefully I still have the oven hooked up when that happens.

Oh! And I find it worth mentioning that Adam has put this on his list of Top 5 favorite things I make!* Look at him! Vegetable enchiladas made it into this Top 5. I'm such a proud wifey. Added bonus - the enchilada sauce is paleo. So even if enchiladas aren't really paleo, at least the sauce is! 

How do you make your own green enchilada sauce? Easy, peasy. It's a little broiling, sauteing and blending. It may seem like a lot of steps, but trust. It IS worth it! My first batch I cooked down after I blended it to allow the flavors to "mingle." But honestly, I think this step can be skipped and that's what I did for my second batch. I'm not opposed to cooking it down to really develop the flavor, but sometimes it's already 9:30 at night and you have to lay cardboard on your kitchen floor to protect it from falling beams that are happening the next day and your bedtime is 10:30 and you have to make sacrifices. So believe me when I say, skipping the step of cooking the sauce down after blending is a sacrifice that does not sacrifice the flavor of this enchilada sauce. Did that make sense? Probably not. Here's the recipe.

Summer Vegetable Enchiladas with Homemade Verde Sauce

Serves 4 

For the Enchiladas:
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 medium zucchini, diced small
3/4 cup corn
1 tablespoon olive oil

10-14 corn tortillas (check ingredients to make sure they are gluten-free if need be)
2 cups shredded colby jack, or mexican blend cheese

For the Green Enchilada Sauce:

3 large Anaheim Chilies
1.5 pounds of tomatillos, husked and washed
1 yellow onion, diced
1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 to 1/2  a bunch of clilantro (leaves and small stems only) (the amount of cilantro is up to you, I hate the stuff so the fact that it even made it in this recipe is pretty amazing) 
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
sprinkle of cayenne if desired
1 1/2 - 2 cups chicken broth or veggie broth

Make the Enchilada Sauce:

Move your oven rack close to the broiler. Turn your oven on broil to high. Husk and wash your tomatillos. Wash your chilies. Dry the tomatillos and chilies and place them in a single layer on a foil lined baking sheet.

Broil chilies and tomatillos. Turn often to ensure even browning. You may have to take some of the tomatillos off the tray before the chilies. Broiling can take 10-15 minutes depending on your broiler. I turn my chilies and tomatillos at least 4 times. Place broiled tomatillos in a bowl. Place broiled chilies in a plastic bag and seal.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a medium pan. Add the diced onion and saute until onions become translucent. This should take about the same time the broiling takes, so I start the two at the same time. Once onions start to become translucent add a heaping tablespoon of minced garlic. Stir. Allow garlic to brown for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Once chilies are cool enough to handle, remove them from the bag and peel away the skins. Pull away the membranes and seeds. This should be very easy to do if your chilies were properly browned all the way around. I like to rinse the seeds off in running water. Set chilies aside.

In a blender, or in two batches in a food processor, add your chilies, tomatillos with roasting juices, onion and garlic mixture, cilantro, salt, pepper, cumin, and cayenne (if desired). Blend well. There should be no large chunks. Add chicken or veggie broth as needed to reach desired consistency. You will most likely need close to 2 cups to reach a sauce like consistency. The first time I made this I used 2 cups of chicken broth and then put the whole thing in a large pot and reduced it by about 1/8 on the stove for 30 minutes. The second time I used about 1 1/2 cups of broth and skipped the second cooking time. I think both batches turned out equally good. So I'm leaving it up to you if you want to cook it down a second time after blending! 

You should have enough enchilada sauce to make a large batch of enchiladas and even then some! You can freeze the extra or save for another smaller round of enchiladas later in the week.* Or use it as salsa for your eggs, quesadillas, chips, whatever - it's so good! 

Prepare Enchiladas::

In a large saute pan, heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add diced onion and bell pepper. Saute until onions start to soften, add cherry tomatoes (cut in half) and diced zucchini. Cook for about 3-4 more minutes until all vegetables begin to soften. Add corn, either fresh, from a can, or thawed if using frozen. Cook for 1 more minute. Remove from heat and set aside.

Pre-heat oven to 350. Spray the bottom of a large baking dish with a little oil, I use coconut oil or olive oil (available in spray cans and Trader Joes). Then pour a layer of sauce on the bottom of the pan. Warm your tortillas up by either placing them in the oven that is heating up or microwaving them for 30 seconds. Warming the tortillas will help make them more flexible so they don't crack and break when you try to roll them. 

Take a tortilla and place a large spoonful or two of the vegetable mixture in the middle of the tortilla. Sprinkle with a little cheese and carefully roll the tortilla up and place the tortilla seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas until your dish is full and you run out of vegetable mixture. You can always start another smaller baking dish if you wish. Most of the time I can fit about 10 in my large baking dish and then I do another 4 in a smaller baking dish.

Spoon or pour a good amount of sauce over the top of the enchiladas. The amount is really up to you and personal preference. I like things a little more on the saucy side, but I also don't put too much where it makes the enchiladas turn into mush. One interesting thing I noticed with homemade enchilada sauce versus canned enchilada sauce is that the canned stuff was making my enchiladas turn into a pile of mush after baking. (Maybe I was using too much?) But with the homemade stuff I can put a bunch of sauce on and the enchiladas hold together still! (Not to mention, that they taste better!)

Sprinkle remaining, or desired amount, of cheese on top. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Then enjoy! And listen to your "vegetable-hating" husband gush about how freaking good these things are.

**I recommend making  a double batch and freezing the extra sauce to make quick weeknight enchiladas! 

*Adam's Top 5 (in no particular order):
-Summer Vegetable Enchiladas with Homemade Verde Sauce
-Cauliflower Crust Pizza 
-Michelle's Meatballs 
-Taco Shepherd's Pie (Recipe Coming Soon)
-White Chicken Chili with Sweet Potatoes 

Love, Luck, and Happiness!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Paleo Recipe Roundup and Thoughts on Eating Paleo

The Paleo lifestyle.
Some people think it's the newest "diet" fad. Some people don't even know what it means. Some people have never heard of it. Some people take it too far (sorry!). Some people do it for legitimate health reasons. Some people just want to give it a try. If I'm honest, I'm not entirely sure what category I fall into. My husband and I have been eating about 80 % paleo when at home and closer to 50% paleo when out since April of 2012. We haven't had bread, pasta, or rice in our house for well over a year. We threw out our toaster and I haven't missed it for a second. I am by no means am a perfect paleo eater. And I am fine with that. But I do want to explain why I chose to eat the way I do and why this blog tows the line between being paleo and being not paleo.

{Braised Paprika Chicken - so yummy you don't even needs a side dish}

But first, what does paleo mean? I'm not going to be able to explain it perfectly, so don't fault me. There are plenty of blogs that have great definitions of being paleo, and I encourage you to do a Google search if you desire more than my basic definition of what eating paleo means to ME. Also, here is a link to a wonderful pdf from Practical Paleo that breaks down the basics of eating paleo. Basically it means not eating processed foods, all grains - yes that includes, oatmeal, whole wheat, quinoa, brown rice, etc., legumes (like beans, lentils, etc.), refined sugar, processed snack food, drinks, etc., processed oils like vegetable and canola, and in the truest definition also dairy.

{Pulled Pork with Homemade No Sugar Added BBQ Sauce - worth the effort and you won't want to use a bottle of BBQ again.}

Here is what eating paleo means to ME. At it's core, it means avoiding processed foods. That includes breads, rice, cereals, sugar, and (sadly) pasta. I've always been wary of processed foods, so this part of being paleo was a logical step in my quest to eating healthier. For Adam, this meant giving up his longstanding ritual of a turkey sandwich for lunch every, single work day, and going through about 4 boxes of crackers a week. For me, I started discovering that things I ate regularly and thought were healthy, or at least fine for me, like jarred tomato sauce and salad dressings, were actually packed full of ingredients that I don't want in my body. Transitioning to eating paleo has been easy and hard. If that makes sense. I already didn't drink soda, or any drink with added sugar. I've never been a huge fan of sweets, and neither has Adam so our house almost never has any dessert or sweet items in it. I don't consume any fake sugar, except for an occasional small amount of stevia. I'm not a big snacker, so giving up things like crackers and chips wasn't hard for me. A little bit harder for Adam. Here is what has been hard - discovering items like enchilada sauce, salad dressings, jarred tomato sauce, and other convenient cooking ingredient type items are just not that good for you or at the very least have sneaky ingredients in them. Even boxed chicken broth! Which I still use on the regular (sorry).

{Brown Butter Pork Chops with Apples and Onions - yep, there is butter in this. See below.}

Here is where we stray from the strict definition of paleo, and apparently fall more into the "primal" definition. We have not cut out dairy and I don't intend to.We have definitely cut down on dairy. It's hard to have a grilled cheese or a cheese quesadilla when you don't eat bread or tortillas. I now use butter from grass-fed cows (Kerrygold), and try to buy raw cheddar cheese (I find it a Trader Joe's). I still eat plain greek yogurt on occasion and really enjoy Parmesan cheese. Adam feels that he "doesn't really need cheese" (weirdo) so dairy is not a sticking point for him. For some reason ever since I've lived on my own I've never kept milk in the house, so I generally use store bought almond milk or coconut milk. The next step is to make my own. But I'm not quite there yet. Oh, also we drink beer still, lots of beer. Sorry I'm not sorry.

{Balsamic and Beer Braised Short Ribs with Parnsip Puree}

When it comes to what we do eat, well, first let me say I'm not perfect, and this is a progression. Every month I get deeper and deeper into integrating healthier ingredients into our household.  We try to eat healthy meats. That means, grass-fed beef, and sometimes I don't buy grass-fed beef, but I would say 80% of the beef we consume is grass-fed. I recently began buying organic chicken, but if I'm honest most of the time I just buy regular chicken.  We eat a good amount of nitrate free bacon. Bacon is still bacon, but we love it. We cut out deli meats, which are packed with nitrates. We eat fresh veggies, sometimes organic, a little bit of fruit, Adam eats lots of almonds, I eat some. I don't sweat it when I eat some rice if I'm out for sushi. And I still use corn tortillas on occasion to make enchiladas (which are my favorite food). I also don't criticize myself too much if I eat legumes, like beans, chickpeas, or lentils. Which I actually never eat lentils and have no desire to, but I do still enjoy an occasional side of beans or chickpeas on my salad. We still eat potatoes, regular white potatoes, which are a grey area for most paleo peeps. We do eat a lot more sweet potatoes than white potatoes though. Like I said, butter from grass-fed cows, some cheeses, healthy fats like coconut oil, avocados, and olive oil. Adam still eats a lot of bars, like luna protein bars, but I've got to give him something.

{Paleo Bean Free Chili}

This may surprise some of you, but eating paleo has made meal planning easier. And, best of all, we feel a lot better. Eliminated gluten and heavy non nutrient dense foods like wheat and other grains has made a big difference in our over all well being and some stomach issues I was experiencing. I also find I'm not on the merry-go round of being super full and then starving only a few hours later only to stuff myself again and fall back into the cycle. Often we just throw some chicken and a vegetable on the grill and call it a day. We love taco meat made from grass-fed beef and we don't even miss the taco shells. I make a great paleo taco shepherd's pie topped with mashed sweet potatoes, I've been meaning to post that on the blog! Breakfast is normally eggs and bacon or eggs and chicken sausage. Lunch is hard because my work caters food everyday and I'm a sucker for free food.

{Paleo Espresso Mini Muffins with Chocolate Ganache}

I guess my goal isn't to be perfectly paleo. Sorry, I still heat up olive oil, which is apparently a no-no. But my goal is to eat foods, real foods, foods that DON'T have ingredients that I can't pronounce, and to eat what makes me feel good and what makes me feel healthy and vibrant. Without restricting myself to the point where I can't keep it up. :)

Wow! I really didn't mean for this post to be so long! But if you are new to paleo and I've intrigued you to try it out, give any of the above recipes a try! Also if you aren't paleo and just enjoy good food, give any of the above recipes a try! Seriously guys, the point of this blog is that you don't have to be paleo to love it! Good food is good food.

{Grain and Dairy Free Cauliflower Crust Pizza}

And feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions, I will do my best to answer them. Just remember everyone has their own individual needs to fit their bodies and their lifestyles.

Love, Luck, and Happiness! 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The BEST Mayo Free Tuna Salad

Hi my little pennies! I have missed you so much! I'm sorry for the long absence. Life has been insane. I know I say that a lot, but this time I really, really mean it. DIY home remodeling is intense. INTENSE. And I don't really have much to show for it yet! Eek. We removed the popcorn ceilings in most the house (ourselves with my Dad's help, by the way) and let me tell you, the next time I buy a house - TOP of my priority list is NO popcorn ceilings. Seriously. That shit is nasty, especially when you remove it and it is all over your house for 4 weeks and until you clean every crevice of your house twenty-five times. 

But who wants to relive that mess. Let's get to the food. This quick and easy no mayo tuna salad has been a life saver during this busy time. It is so easy to throw together and so much better than traditional tuna salad with all that mayo. This tuna salad is inspired by an amazing salad that I love from The Artisan Cheese Gallery in Studio City. I've been making this no mayo tuna salad for a quick lunch for some time now and never thought to share it until I saw a similar recipe on Eat, Live, Run.

So no more holding out on you! Olive oil packed tuna is so flavorful and so much better than the water packed stuff, that there is no need for mayo in this tuna salad. Roasted red peppers and artichokes add flavor and something special to this unique tuna salad. Make this for lunch and I'm pretty sure you will forgive me for the long absence!

No Mayo Italian Tuna Salad  

Serves 1

1 - 5 oz can olive oil packed tuna
1 large whole roasted red pepper from the jar (about 1/3 cup chopped)
6 marinated artichokes from the jar (about 1/3 cup or more chopped)
Juice from half a lemon
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Drain tuna. Place tuna in a bowl. Chop roasted red pepper and artichokes and add them to the bowl. Honestly use as much or as little red peppers and artichokes as you like. Add garlic powder, dijon mustard and lemon juice. Mix and season with salt and pepper as desired. 


Love, Luck, and Happiness! 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Paleo Snickerdoodle Cookies {Gluten and Grain Free!} [from Rubies & Radishes]

Hey Lucky Penny readers! I am Arsy of the Paleo recipe and lifestyle blog, Rubies & Radishes. I met Michelle a while ago through blogging and quickly found that we had a lot in common, and we even have some mutual friends! It really is such a small world. I am also a huge fan of her blog. I love how Michelle's recipes are not only healthy, but also very appetizing!
Michelle is busy working on her new house, and as many of us know, buying a house is really exciting and rewarding, but it's soooo much work! While she is busy with that, I am thrilled to be here sharing a recipe with you all! I worked on a whole new recipe over the weekend. I wanted to create something that you can share with others, that shows them healthy eating doesn't have to be limiting, but it is actually pleasurable!

And what's more pleasurable than cookies? I went with snickerdoodles because that was my favorite cookie growing up, but I haven't had them in ages. This recipe is based on my friend, Simone from Zenbelly's chocolate chip cookie recipe. Which, by the way, are the best Paleo chocolate chip cookies ever. I really liked her use of arrowroot flour, as it lightens the cookie.

Paleo Snickerdoodles

1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup arrowroot flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Wet1 large egg
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup coconut palm sugar
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl combine dry ingredients: almond flour, arrowroot flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together egg, melted butter, maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon until well combined.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, use a fork to mix together until well combined.
  5. Drop by spoonfuls (about 1 tablespoon) on to a baking sheet.
  6. Sprinkle the tops with additional cinnamon.
  7. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until lightly golden.
  8. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes.


Monday, May 27, 2013

The BEST Dairy Free Cauliflower Pizza Crust!

Alright, alright, here it is! The best dairy free cauliflower pizza crust! You've hoped, you've dreamed, and you've begged for it (really you've just left a few comments on my BEST Cauliflower Pizza Crust Recipe, but same thing) and I have finally delivered!

Since posting my Best Cauliflower Crust Pizza Recipe you guys have left so many nice comments saying how much you've enjoyed the recipe! I especially love when I get tagged in Instagram pics of the cauliflower crust pizzas that you've made and I get to see the amazing toppings you all have come up with. There are some beautiful cauliflower crust pizzas out there! But there is one question that keeps popping up in the comments, and that is how to make the crust without cheese. Fear not, my friends! It's easy and just as delicious to make a cauliflower pizza crust with no cheese! And guess what? No cheese, no flour, no grains means it pretty much perfectly paleo. A yummy delicious paleo pizza crust, it's a dream come true. And yes, it does still hold up to being picked up like a regular slice of pizza, just like my other cauliflower crust. Although, this piece was a little weighed down by the sheer amount of deliciousness I threw on top. More on that later.

The keys to this cheese-less cauliflower crust are pretty much the same as my regular cauliflower pizza crust. Preheat your pizza stone or baking sheet in the oven first, wring the water out of the cauliflower, and cook your pizza on oiled parchment or tinfoil. But here's some more deets on how I did it without the cheese. I followed my normal method of using the food processor to make cauliflower "snow," or "rice" as some people call it, but I think "snow" is so much more fun to say. I microwaved it for 4 minutes, I don't know exactly why 4 minutes, but this number seems to work for me. Three minutes would probably work also. A few of you commented that you don't microwave your food. Some have had luck squeezing the water out without microwaving it or cooking it a pan instead. Once the cauliflower was cool enough to handle, I placed in a tea towel and wringed the water out. You could go crazy with this step, one commentor even said they ripped their tea towel! But honestly you don't have to get every single last drop of water out. Just give it a few good wrings to get most of the water out. The cauliflower will now look more like powder, almost like grainy flour. Next I added my other ingredients - minus the cheese of course! I added my spices, 2 tablespoons almond flour, some nutritional yeast for cheesy flavor, but not a lot since I'm still on the fence about how I feel about nutritional yeast (I'm new to using it), an egg, and a tablespoon of olive oil to help with the binding in lieu of the cheese. I shaped my crust on an oiled sheet of parchment paper and slid it into the oven and onto the hot pizza stone using a thin plastic cutting board, a pizza peel would work also if you are fancy and own one of those! One note about the cooking time, I pre-baked the crust longer than I did with my cauliflower crust that uses cheese. I wanted this crust to get crispy and golden brown and without the cheese in it, it needed a longer cooking time. I also knew that my second cooking time would be less since I wouldn't be melting cheese and I would be using toppings that I already heated up before placing them on the pizza.

Now about those toppings! I went heavy on my toppings to make up for the lack of cheese on the pizza, although you will see a light dusting of freshly grated Parmesan on my pizza. I'm sorry. I couldn't help it. It was like a cheese loving robot took over my body and grabbed the mircroplane and wedge of parm and kept repeating "MUST HAVE CHEESE" very loudly while I mentally protested, "No, you can't! It's supposed to be a cheese free pizza!" Damn cheese-loving-body-taking-over-robot. But basically, you can top your cheese free cauliflower pizza crust with whatever you want, assuming you don't have a cheese-loving-body-taking-over-robot lurking in your kitchen somewhere, but I will include my recipe for this delicious BBQ pork pizza, because it was damn delicious and I think you should make it. The cheese loving robot also thinks you should make it, even if you make it with no cheese on top. Any leftover shredded meat would be good on this pizza, but I recommend my pulled pork with homemade BBQ sauce.

But before I give you the recipe, the cheese loving robot would like to add, "MAKE THIS CRUST NOW. TOP IT WITH WHATEVER YOU LIKE, EVEN IF YOU DON'T LIKE CHEESE, WEIRDO."
Geez, cheese loving robot, there is no need to yell! And some people just can't eat cheese. Have a heart. 

Ok, this is getting weird. Recipe here.....

The BEST Dairy Free Cauliflower Pizza Crust 

Makes approx. 1 - 10 inch pizza crust 

1 medium sized head of cauliflower - should yield close to 3 cups once processed
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil (crush it even more between your fingers)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (crust it even more between you fingers)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
optional a few shakes of crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons almond meal
1 tablespoon (or more if desired) nutritional yeast (you could also omit this entirely if you like)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 egg

nonstick cooking oil

Place a pizza stone in the oven, or baking sheet if you don't have a pizza stone. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On a cutting board, place a large piece of parchment paper and spray it with nonstick cooking oil or brush the parchment with olive oil. 

Wash and throughly dry a small head of cauliflower. Don't get one the size of your head unless you are planning on making 2 pizzas. Cut off the florets, you don't need much stem. Just stick with the florets. Pulse in your food processor for about 30 seconds, until you get powdery snow like cauliflower. See above photo. You should end up with about 3 cups cauliflower "snow". Place the cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl and cover. Microwave for 4 minutes. Dump cooked cauliflower onto a clean tea towel and allow to cool for a bit before attempting the next step.

Once cauliflower is cool enough to handle, wrap it up in the dish towel and wring the water out of it. You want to squeeze out as much water as possible. This will ensure you get a chewy pizza like crust instead of a crumbly mess. 

Dumped cauliflower into a bowl. Now add all your spices, your almond meal, your nutritional yeast (if using), and your olive oil. Mix the mixture to incorporate all the ingredients. Now add your egg and mix away again. Hands tend to work best. 

Once mixed together, use your hands to form the dough into a crust on your oiled parchment paper. Pat it down thoroughly, you want it nice and tightly formed together. Don't make it too thick or thin either.

Using a cutting board slide the parchment paper onto your hot pizza stone or baking sheet in the oven. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until it starts to turn golden brown and the edges crisp up. Remove from oven.

***UPDATE - My new oven requires that I pre-cook the crust for closer to 15 to 20 minutes to get it a nice golden brown. Go off of looks rather than time! You want the edges to start to be crispy brown but not too much so that when you cook it again after adding toppings it will burn. 

Add your toppings (I recommend already cooked toppings, like shredded meat or sautéed veggies) and slide parchment with topped pizza back in the hot oven and cook for another 5 minutes until the toppings are warm. If using cheese for a topping, you can pop the pizza under the broiler to get the cheese melted fast without burning the crust. 

Test your patience and allow it to cool for a minute or two. Probably closer to two. Then using a pizza cutter and a spatula serve up your delicious grain and dairy cauliflower crust pizza!

To top the pizza you can make your own 30 minute pizza sauce using my recipe! Or to make the pizza in these pictures, caramelize half a sliced up onion on the stove in olive oil for about 30 minutes. Tip: I add chicken broth or sometimes even just water to my caramelized onions to keep them from burning and to reduce the amount of oil I need to use. Once your onions are caramelized, add any cooked shredded meat you have to the onions to reheat the meat. My pulled pork would be amazing!  Then, simply top your cauliflower crust with desired amount of BBQ sauce, I recommend using the cooked version of my homemade BBQ sauce, and the meat and onion mix. Add 1 diced up roasted red pepper, and a dusting of parmesan if desired. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and top with 1 diced up avocado. 


P.S. Remember my story about not having an egg when I made this cauliflower crust for you before? Yeah, well that happened again. Luckily it was on a weekend and not the morning before a work day and I made my husband run out and get me eggs. He also came back with beer. Perfect lunch? I think so.