Pumpkin Lamb Sweet Potatoes

Wow.  That really doesn’t sound tasty.  Good thing all of those ingredients were in separate dishes this week.

All of the paleosphere has been atwitter with articles about “How to stay Paleo during the holidays.”  I kind of dismissed them, like, um, just eat the turkey, make a salad, man up, man!  But, after going through Thanksgiving, I have to say, maybe I should have taken those articles more to heart.  Holidays do a number on you psychologically.  You have all these comfort foods that you only eat once or twice a year, then you add in the short days (which for me increases my sugar cravings), then you compound the situation by being away from your house and your healthfully-stocked cupboards.  Next thing you know, you are drinking wine and eating cheese curds chased down with dark chocolate M&Ms at 9:45AM.  *Sigh*

So, yeah, the holidays have been pretty bad for me so far.  BUT, today is a new day, and I’ve been eating perfectly so far.  Granted, it’s only 11AM, but still.  Small wins, man, small wins.

I tried a few recipes over the past few weeks.  One was great, one was OK, and one was, well, OK, but less than OK than the other one that was just OK.

Lemon Lamb Meatballs:   I made these last night, and they were delicious.  They tasted a lot like gyro meat.  They were incredibly easy and quick to make too.  The only drawback is that ground lamb locally costs $9.50 PER POUND.  Yikes.

Pumpkin Bread French Toast:  This is the recipe that turned out not as OK as the other OK recipe.  First of all, I printed out the recipe the day it was posted, so I didn’t realize that the author forgot to list eggs in the ingredient list until I made the dough, and it was the consistency of paste.  I thought it didn’t look right, and I was also confused about whether the 2 T of coconut oil listed in the recipe included the 1 T of coconut oil used to toast the pepitas.  So  I looked up the comments and found out I needed to add 3 eggs.  No one asked about the coconut oil, so I added about 1.5 T of oil, just to be on the safe side.  Don’t misundertand me.  I’m not complaining about the recipe being wrong.  The writer of that blog posts free recipes almost daily, and I am grateful for that.    Anyway, back to the bread.  It was very DENSE.  And very spicy!  The recipe called for a T of cinnamon!  That seemed like a lot to me, but I like to follow recipes very meticulously, so I added it.  Between the cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, however, the bread was too spicy for the Timmy Tee.

I liked the bread OK as a bread, but when I made it into french toast, I was not a fan.  It made the bread too pasty.  It was almost as if we were eating pumpkin bread pudding.  Maybe I did add too much oil…  I definitely added too much oil to the pan while cooking the french toast.  When I flipped the toast, I got sprayed with a healthy dose of searing hot coconut oil.  Blast.

Crockpot Sweet Potato Basil Soup:  This soup was good (OK), albeit pretty thick.  If I were to make it again, I would add 2 cups of broth instead of one.  I also browned a pound of ground pork and added that to the soup, which made it even thicker.  Overall, I liked the taste – it was a nice detour  from the usual sauteed veggies with a side of meat standby.  But, I have a 2 inch binder that is bursting at the seams, full of recipes, so I think I’ll toss this one to make room for another one we might like better.

I also tried my hand at making bone broth this weekend.  Saturday morning I tossed a bunch of random bones from the freezer (duck bones, chicken bones, pork bones) into the Nesco Roaster, added some thyme, apple cider vinegar, carrots, onions, celery, etc., filled the roaster to the top with filtered water and then let it cook until this morning.  The broth turned out a lovely golden color.  It tastes pretty good, but maybe a little bitter?  I think it will serve well as stock, and hopefully it will cure the Timmy Tee and me of all our knee complaints.  We ran the local Turkey Trot Five Miler on Thursday and both came out of it with busted knees.  Tim’s got better on his own, but I had to sit in a super hot eucalyptus epsom salt bath for an hour.  Then I was pretty much right as rain.

And that’s all the new recipes for the week!  I’m trying a couple of new ones today (home-made Lara bars and Salmon with Citrus Salsa), but I’ll save those write-ups for next time.

In the meantime, have a fantastic, healthy week!

Holiday Weekend Cooking Bonanza

Bananza?  Bonanza?  Bonanza doesn’t look right, but Bananza gets red squiggles under it.  I guess I’ll go with Bonanza.

So, Sunday was Duck Day!  I popped that sucker in around 8 or 9 and followed the recipe almost to a T.  Three comments of note: 1.  I didn’t pull off all the quills.  I pulled off a few and then got bored and tired and stopped.  We just ended up not eating most of the skin.  2.  The molasses in our cupboard, come to find out, expired in 2010.   I had to improvise.  Instead of of 1/4 cup honey and 1/4 cup of molasses, I went with all honey. I also had no Sriracha, so I used Tapatio.  We were in a whiskey kind of mood on Sunday (we started out the festivities with a shot of Templeton Rye), so I added a couple tablespoons of Jack.  I don’t have a pastry brush, so I just poured the glaze on the duck.  The glaze was so tasty, however, that we scooped up the leftovers from the bottom of the pan and dipped the duck pieces in it.  3.  I think I overcooked it.  The recipe said to cook the duck for 4 hours, but it didn’t specify what size of duck to use.  Mine was around 5 lbs.  The legs were tasty, but the breast meat was a little dry.  We ate most of the bird for lunch, and I pulled off all the leftover meat.  For breakfast I chopped it up and sauteed it in duck fat with some veggies.  We ate it with avocado and scramby eggs.  Muy bueno!!!

So, would I do it again?  Yeah, I sure would.  It was an Event!  The duck was tasty, I got almost 2 cups of rendered duck fat, and I was able to spam all my Instagram followers with hourly photos of a duck cooking.  Good times.

For dessert, I made Love You Long Time Chocolate Cupcakes.  These things are so good.  You don’t even know.  Unfortunately, being wiped from slaving over the duck all day (and from drinking a couple of whiskey and sodas), when I was putting the pan of cupcakes into the oven, I hit the shelf and ended up spilling half the batter on the open oven door.  ARGH!!  I was able to salvage about half of them, and they ended up delicious.  They have no added sugar – just ripe bananas to make them sweet.  Tim and I loved them.  I’m not sure if someone who is used to eating a lot of sugar would think they were as good, but we’ll definitely make them again.

Speaking of sugar, I also made Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies to take into the office.  You make regular PB cookies, but then you make this filling of PB, vanilla, and milk, and then you make peanut butter cookie sandwiches out of it.  They were wicked good.  I felt a little bad making them and unloading them on my coworkers, because I just read this article.  Sugar is poison.  Sweet, delicious, hideous poison.  If you want to poison your friends and family, let me know in the comments, and I’ll send you the recipe.

For supper last night I tried another new recipe:  Apple and Butternut Squash Hash.  This recipe was super simple, yet super delicious.  We had it for supper last night, and I ate it for breakfast and lunch today, and there is enough left for breakfast tomorrow.

For supper tonight I made Low Carb Italian Wedding Soup accompanied by Coconut Flour Muffins (from The 21 Day Sugar Detox).  The soup turned out really tasty.  I dirtied about 1/2 of our dishes though and had a run-in with a ziploc baggie of frozen chicken broth.  I ended up breaking a bowl and burning some of the precious duck fat whilst wraggling with the baggie.  But, well, you know.  It’s all over now, and we had delicious soup with MUFFINS!  Paleo muffins though – no sugar – just coconut flour, eggs, coconut milk, coconut flour, baking powder and salt.  Tim said they tasted like macaroons (did I mention they have coconut in them?).  I broke mine up and added it to the soup. It was nice to have a bread-ish texture with the soup.  I think they would taste fantastic with some raisins and/or dark chocolate chips.

So that’s all my recipes for the past few days – lots of winners and will-make-agains in there.

Oh, and we didn’t just EAT all weekend.  We also biked 15 miles and ran 5, raked the lawn, and cleaned the house.  So we burned off some of the energy at least!

Take care, and I’ll let you know how the rest of the week’s recipes pan out.

It’s Novembeeeeer

Wow.  It’s been like 3 weeks since I’ve posted.  It’s been a busy time.  I went to Florida and Des Moines for work, then I went to NYC for play (visit the bros), and now I’m finally back home for a few solid weeks.  I have another trip to Des Moines in early December (Business Analyst Boot Camp) and then no more trips on the horizon.  Which makes me both happy and sad.  I’ve found that I’m rarely ever in exactly one mood or feel one way about anything.  I’m happy tinged with sadness or looking forward to an event and looking forward to it being over, so I can be at  home in bed.  You get the idea.  Anyway, I digress.

Due to the traveling and getting used to the new season/lack of light, I’ve gained about 3-5 lbs over the past few weeks.  I’ve been eating out more, drinking more delicious beer, and not exercising as much.  It’s a dangerous combination.  I’m pretty sure that if I reign in the cheats (alcohol, chocolate, donuts at work, etc.), I’ll normalize pretty quickly.  At least, I’m hoping so.  This will be my first winter fully paleo.  In reading the paleo blogs and posts, I was looking forward to pure bliss over these short days – no winter blues for Hlo this year! HA!  The winter blues have hit me harder than I ever remember.  I blame it on a confluence of events.  1.  I was outside A LOT this summer – more than any other year.  My body got used to copious amounts of sunshine, and when that sunshine went away, so did my good spirits.  2.  For a variety of reasons, it’s been a stressful month, which  is hard on the disposition 3.  I’ve not been following the paleo diet strictly.  I’ve been eating more dairy than usual and drinking more beer (gluten!) than usual.  That exacerbates my allergies and throws me out of whack.

But now that I’ve identified what I think to be the culprits, I can go about fixing them.  Right now I am sitting in front of my Light Therapy light, which really does seem to help.  I just planned out a week’s worth of 100% paleo meals, and today we biked and raked, so I got some vitamin D and some exercise.  We’ll see what a difference this makes.

I haven’t been all bad, though.  I have made a couple of tasty recipes lately.

I made Garlic Pulled Pork again.  This time I put the garlic rub on the meat the night before and then stuck the roast in the Nesco Roaster on about 200 for about 5 hours.  I also didn’t put the fresh garlic INTO the meat.  It turned out FANTASTIC.  We ate it last night with cauliflower and spinach sauteed in coconut oil.  We also ate some for breakfast.  I sauteed it with coconut oil, fried some eggs, and covered it all with avocado.  Amazing.

I also made 5 Ingredient Breakfast Stuffed Acorn Squash.  This turned out good, but next time I would NOT crack the egg in the squash and bake it in the oven.  I left it in the oven FOREVER, and the egg still did not bake.  I had to scoop the mess out and fry it on the stove top.  I don’t think it’s necessary to stuff everything back into the acorn squash skin and bake it, unless you are into presentation, which I’m not.  I just am into tasty food.  This was tasty, but next time I’ll make it the easy way.

I also made Cream Chicken Casserole.  As you can see, I’m a big fan of paleomg.com!  She has great recipes.  This recipe made a TON of food.  We ate it for supper, breakfast, lunch, supper, and still had some leftover. Tim even liked it, even though the base is made from coconut milk.  I did notice that my stomach was a little upset after eating it – maybe due to the coconut milk and hot spices?  Tim noticed it as well, so the next time we ate it, he had toast with it.  That seemed to help.

And that’s it for tasty recipes as of late.  I’m attempting to cook a duck tomorrow.  Wish me luck!