Tag Archive | cooking

Paleo Baked Spaghetti

I’ll admit that I go through food phases.  For a while I was all about grilling chicken thighs and I’m pretty sure I ate that every day for lunch and sometimes dinner for a good couple of months.  In the winter I get on a comfort food kick and make meatloaf, chili, and stew every week (or so it seems).  As the season changes from winter to spring and back to winter again because Mother Nature can’t seem to make up her mind in Indiana, I find myself wanting spaghetti (or maybe its simply because my race season has started and I always want spaghetti when I’m running.)  Either way – I’ve been playing around with using spaghetti squash, zucchini, and yellow squash as my noodles.  But all in all, it is the same variation of the same thing – squash noodles and sauce on top.  Then my friend sent me a link for baked pizza spaghetti  pie.  I thought I could do something like this but make it more like baked spaghetti and less like pizza plus add in my own favorite things.  It makes a ton and I plan on eating it for lunch every day this week so I suppose I’ll share the rest with my husband so it won’t go to waste.  Enjoy!

Lunch for the week!  Totally customizable for your specific taste buds too!

Lunch for the week! Totally customizable for your specific taste buds too!

Ingredients
1 large (or 2 small) spaghetti squash
1 pound grass-fed ground beef
1 yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 cup mushrooms (your choice of kid), sliced
1 small can black olives, sliced
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 cup – spaghetti sauce (no sugar added, I used Classico)
4 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper to taste

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8×8 glass baking dish, or I used a 2 quart dish which is a 7×11, either one will do, and set aside.
2. Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Remove seeds and threading.  Place spaghetti squash cut side down on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the skin of the squash gives when you press on it.
3.  Using a fork, shred the squash into a large bowl and set aside.
4.  Place a large pan over medium heat. Add ground beef, bell pepper, mushrooms, and onion. Cook until pink no longer remains in the beef and it is broken up into pieces.  Add in olives and mix together.
5.  Combine the beef mixture with the spaghetti squash in the bowl.  Add 1 cup of spaghetti sauce, salt and pepper.  Finally, add whisked eggs to the baking dish and mix everything together until you can no longer see the eggs.
6.  Evenly distribute the mixture into your baking dish and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until a slight crust forms on top of your baked spaghetti.  Let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Highly Addicting Chocolate Mousse

About 2 weeks ago my friend, Z, said she had tried this new chocolate mousse recipe that was dairy free and she had some to share with me.  I love anything chocolate/dessert and if it is dairy free and gluten free, count me in.  I drove over to her house to pick it up and literally I pulled the used spoon out of my lunch box and devoured the whole thing in my car on my way home from her house.  No – I am not ashamed.  I can’t tell you how good it was.  It was freaking AMAZING.  I HAD to have the recipe.  This was Friday evening.

Enter Sunday afternoon – I have now procured the recipe from my friend.  You can find her original recipe here.  So Sunday afternoon I gave it a whirl on my own.  The recipe was so easy and took less than 15 minutes from start to finish.  The worst part is waiting the few hours for the mousse to set so you can partake in the chocolatey rich goodness of it.  Anyway, I was able to make 5 1-cup ziplock plastic to-go containers out of 1 recipe.  Naturally, I ate one every day Monday – Thursday as an after school treat or after dinner dessert (I shared one with a friend).  That was on March 9th.

Since I had consumed my last chocolate mousse, I really haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.  I’ve never been addicted to anything so I’m not sure what that feels like but seriously I could not stop thinking about this mousse.  And now that I’m writing this (and eating my mousse at the same time) I didn’t realize that I just made this last week.  Still – not ashamed.

So tonight I caved and busted out my KitchenAide mixer and took a quick 15 minutes to make myself another heavenly batch of the highly addicting chocolate mousse.  You can thank me (or my friend, Z, later).  You’re welcome!

So good and so easy - you'll want to make it every week!

So good and so easy – you’ll want to make it every week!

Ingredients
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup Palm Sugar (coconut sugar)
1 cup mini chocolate chips (I use EnjoyLife)
4 eggs separated
1 can full-fat coconut milk (just the solid cream part, not the liquid)

Directions
1. Separate 4 eggs, place the whites in one bowl and the yolks in another
2. Open a can of coconut milk and drain all the water from it, making sure to keep the solid milk fat portion
3. Add water to a pot and heat until it is boiling
4. Reduce heat to medium-low and add the coconut sugar to the pan, whisking it in until it the sugar is dissolved
5. Move pot to another burner and allow it to cool for about five minutes
6. Add the chocolate chips to pot and whisk until melted
7. Whisk egg yolks until they are light yellow in color
8. With your mixer, whip egg whites until they form stiff peaks
9. Add the egg yolks into the same pot and whisk until the consistency of the chocolate mixture is smooth
10. Fold the egg whites into the pot containing the chocolate mixture and whisk until thoroughly combined
11. Add the can of drained coconut milk to the mixture and again, whisk until well combined and the mixture is smooth.
12. Place the chocolate mousse into containers, 1 used 5 1-cup ziplock disposable containers and evenly portioned them out.
13. Refrigerate overnight
14. Sprinkle a generous amount mini chocolate chips on top of mousse before serving and enjoy!

Toasted Coconut and Almonds

So today was the last day of ISTEP+ (or at least the first round of them) and I was looking to indulge a bit.  Yes, some days I can be an emotional eater.  I was looking forward to the rest of my fruit salad but with a whole lot of coconut whipped cream on top (more whipped cream and less fruit if you know what I mean).  But the whipped cream alone just wasn’t going to cut it tonight.  I wanted something more.  So I pulled some staples from my pantry and made a delicious topping for my whipped cream that tastes oh so sinful but it’s really not that bad for you at all.  I got this recipe from my friend, Z.  You can find the original recipe here.  It is so simple and it really takes your dessert to that next level.  Enjoy!

Ingredients
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1 cup coconut flakes
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
Directions
1. Mix the salt and cinnamon in a large bowl.
2. Heat a frying pan over high heat, add the coconut flakes in a single layer.  Keep an eye on them because they toast quickly!
3. Once the flakes are lightly toasted, put them in the bowl with the salt and cinnamon mixture and toss until coated.
4. Next put the almonds in the pan and toast until slightly brown – again keep a close eye on them because they also toast quickly!
5. Add the toasted almonds to the coconut flake mixture and toss.
6. Allow to cool, then store.
This picture was taken a while ago but by the time I thought about it, I had already eaten my entire dessert.  You get the idea though!

This picture was taken a while ago but by the time I thought about it, I had already eaten my entire dessert. You get the idea though!

On a Budget (and coconut whipped cream)

I’m a huge proponent of eating clean (when you can) and staying on a budget.  Let’s face it, eating healthy can be expensive.  Produce isn’t always cheap and because it can go bad, you are always stocking up your fridge for the week.  The key to saving money is finding the produce that is on sale and buying that for the week.  I used to just buy whatever I wanted for each week but when my grocery bills were exceeding $100 (for just 2 people), I was thinking my spending was getting out of hand.  PLUS, I was throwing some stuff away because I just couldn’t eat it fast enough.  Now that I’ve eliminated a bunch of things from my nutrition like dairy, legumes, and gluten (not for the trend but for health reasons), I find I’m able to eat more produce because I don’t have as many choices to choose from.

Anyway – Kroger was having this great sale on produce: Pineapples – $1.00, Strawberry Papayas – 2 for $5.00, 5-lb. bag Blood Oranges – $2.99, and Raspberries 2 pints – $5.00.  I also picked up a package of pre-sliced mangos for $4.99 (that wasn’t really bargain shopping but I LOVE mangoes and they were really ripe this week so I couldn’t pass it up).  So I picked up all of these things, took them home, chopped them up into bit-sized pieces and made myself this super delicious tropical fruit salad.  To take this fruit salad to the next level, I whipped up some super easy coconut whipped cream.  Yes – you really can make whipped cream from canned coconut milk.  It just takes a little bit of planning and a few minutes and you are all set.

Ingredients
1 can coconut milk (I use Thai Kitchen)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tablespoon powdered sugar (optional – if you like it to be a tad sweeter)

Directions
1. Place a metal mixing bowl in the freezer for at least 1 hour.  Place your coconut milk in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight if you really like to plan ahead.  This ensures that the cream separates from the liquid.

2. Separate the solid cream from the liquid.  Save the liquid for later or pour over your fruit salad to act as a liquid.  In your metal mixing bowl, add the solid coconut cream and vanilla extract (and powdered sugar if you are using it).  Mix with an electric mixer on high for 1-2 minutes or until thoroughly mixed through and it has a creamy consistency.

3. Add a huge dollop to your fruit salad and enjoy!

A delicious and guilt-free treat!

A delicious and guilt-free treat and on a budget too!

The actual fruit salad ingredients with their prices
1 small pineapple – $1.00
2 strawberry papayas – $5.00
1 container pre-sliced mangos – $4.99
1 pint raspberries – $2.50
2 blood oranges – $.74 (8 oranges for $2.99 = $0.37 an orange)
1 can coconut milk – $2.89
Total – $17.12
Makes about 10 servings (perfect for breakfast and lunch sides) = $1.71 per serving

My Latest Kitchen Gadget

Since my last few attempts at making spaghetti squash have been absolute fails (I’m still figuring out my new antiquated oven), my latest thing has been zucchini noodles. A few months ago I purchased a julienne peeler to make my noodles. While it does the job, it takes FOREVER and it wastes a lot of the zucchini. I feel bad wasting any food so I went a bought a mandolin slicer that has a julienne blade. Well, the worked too but I still couldn’t use most of the zucchini for fear of slicing my fingers off. The nifty finger guard only works of you are slicing it like chips and not like noodles. So that was kind of a bust (however it does work well for making sweet potato home fries but that’s another blog). Then I saw a picture in my new cookbook Against All Grains of a spiralizer. I had to have it.

I busted it out for the first time tonight to make some real zucchini noodles and let me tell you, my life is now complete. I spiralized 4 large zucchini in roughly 5 minutes! And out came these long beautiful noodles. I cooked them in some olive oil and dumped some pasta sauce on top. It was magnificent. I could twirl my zucchini noodles like real noodles. It was awesome! I will probably never julienne my zucchini or squash ever again. It’s the spiralizer all the way.

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Tom Yam Gung (Shrimp and Lemongrass Soup)

Do you ever have those days where you simply crave something from your childhood?  That is exactly what happened to me.  Most of the time people crave some type of comfort food like mom’s mac & cheese or meatloaf or even an apple pie.  But today, that wasn’t the case.  Today I was seriously craving something Asian and not your average run of the mill Chinese takeout (which is completely Americanized).  I wasn’t something that you really can’t get at a restaurant.  You can only get it from someone’s house who knows how to cook authentic Asian cuisine.  Since my mom lives in Pennsylvania and I live in Indiana, my only solution was to call her up on the phone, ask her what I needed, and take a trip to the local Asia Mart.

The freshness from the lemongrass make this probably one of the most popular Thai soups out there.  And if you really want to eat it authentically, you pour a little on your jasmine rice as flavoring.  But if you don’t eat grains, you can eat a big bowl of this broth-y soup either with your meal or as a light meal by itself.  Due to the pungent flavor of the lime leaves and lemongrass, this soup is perfect for all seasons.  It’s a refreshing summer soup but since it’s hot it makes a great winter treat too!  I’ve made it with shrimp but my mom said you can also make it with chicken if you’d prefer.

For any of you who do Whole30 or follow the Paleo diet, I’ve made sure that this recipe is 100% compliant.  Enjoy!

Serves 4

Ingredients
4 1/2 cups chicken stock
4 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped
4-inch piece of tender lemongrass, roughly chopped (you don’t want to eat this)
1-2 limes, freshly squeezed to taste
6 tablespoons fish sauce (I use Red Boat which doesn’t have sugar)
1-2 small fresh red or green chilies, roughly chopped (optional – I don’t like the heat so I don’t use them)
16 straw mushrooms, cut in half (canned mushrooms will do)
1/2 pound raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined

Directions
1. In a pot, heat the stock and add the lime leaves, lemongrass, fresh lime juice, fish sauce, and chilies (if you are using them).  At this point I would taste the broth to determine if it has enough lemon/lime flavor to the broth.  If not – add more lime juice.   Bring it to a boil and simmer for two minutes.  Stir in the mushrooms and shrimp and cook for a further two to three minutes, or until the shrimp are cooked through.  Be sure not to overcook your shrimp!

2. Pour into soup bowls and serve.

A little taste of home

A little taste of home

Gluten Free & Dairy Free Biscuits and Gravy

My husband has been begging me to make biscuits and gravy for him for who knows how long.  I have resisted making them because I can’t eat biscuits and I can’t eat the gravy that goes on them.  So really, why would I waste all that precious prep and cook time in the kitchen to make something that smells delicious but then I can’t eat it.  Exactly – you see my point.

Enter in gluten free Bisquick.  Normally a large box of Bisquick is pretty cheap but as most of you know, nothing gluten free is ever cheap.  A small box of gluten free Bisquick runs about $4.59 at Walmart.  Now, could I make homemade gluten free biscuits on my own?  Sure.  Do I want to?  Not particularly.  So in this instance, I completely justified using a pre-made box mix to help me out and save me some time.  Can you blame me?

To make the biscuits, all you have to do is follow the directions on the box.  It really is that simple.  Now that we have gotten over that part, it is time to move onto the delicious sausage gravy that you generously dump all over the biscuits.  My mouth is literally watering just thinking about it.

Ingredients
1 pound ground pork or turkey
1 tablespoon almond flour/meal
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
1 can coconut milk
2 teaspoons sage
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup chicken stock (if needed)
salt & pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Saute the sausage in a large skillet until completely cooked.  Remove sausage from the pan, saving about 2 tablespoons of the drippings from the sausage.  Keep these drippings in the pan.
  2. Add the almond flour and arrowroot powder to the skillet and whisk with the sausage fat over medium-low heat, until a paste is formed, working to scrape up some of the sausage drippings.  Be careful not to burn this.  Patience is a virtue in this case.
  3. Pour in about 1/4 of the coconut milk, the sage, and paprika at this time and bring it up to medium heat, stirring often.  It is key to get all of those delicious browned sausage bits into your gravy.
  4. Add the remaining coconut milk, stirring as you go to avoid lumps, and bring to a light simmer.  Add your sausage back in, and simmer until gravy reaches your desired thickness.  If your gravy becomes too thick for your liking, add some chicken stock to thin it out.
  5. Generously pour over your sliced biscuits and serve.
Perfect for a cold winter morning or your Sunday brunch!

Perfect for a cold winter morning or your Sunday brunch!