Dangerous Paleo Treat

My coworker introduced me to this fantastic recipe:  Chocolate Coconut Bars.  He said they taste just like dark chocolate Mounds.  I have to say, he is correct, only I think these actually taste better!  They are super easy to make and dangerously delicious.  I think I could easily eat the whole pan.  Next time I make them, however, I’m going to double the chocolate for the topping and add a smidge more salt to the coconut mixture.  I’m afraid these alterations will make them even more delicious though.  Going forward I can only make these for company because I cannot be trusted around these things.  Sure, they are paleo, technically, but they have 1/4 cup of honey plus 1/2 cup of chocolate chips, so they have a lot of sugar/carbs in them.  But, boy.  Are they ever tasty!!

Hotter than Hell Barbacoa

Perhaps Tim and I are pantywaists, but I made this recipe tonight, Leftovers: Barbacoa, and our mouths are STILL on fire.  I super appreciate Juli posting recipes free on her blog, so I’m hesitant to express any dissatisfaction, but holy hell!  This barbacoa was SOOOO spicy.  AND.  AND.  I used an extra pound of meat, above what was called for in the recipe!

I should have remembered that Juli likes her food spicy.  I made something else from her, and Tim and I had to cut it down with several extra cans of tomatoes to tame it down.  I think if I cut down the spices by at least half, it would still be plenty spicy.

We now have about 3 lbs of ultra-spicy barbacoa marinating in fridge.  I’m hoping that overnight the flavors will mellow, and it will be all kinds of delicious in the morning.  Tim and I are trying to save about $300/month out of our food budget, so we can’t afford to NOT eat this.

Tonight we ate it over baked sweet potatoes.  I think we’re going to try it with eggs and then maybe over spaghetti squash.  Wish us luck!

Trying my hand at fish

For some reason, I’m intimidated by cooking fish.  Maybe it is because there is such a slim margin for error – cook it a little too long, and it’s all dry and nasty.  Maybe it’s because it’s usually expensive, and so it really sucks when you cook it too long, and it’s all dry and nasty.  Maybe it’s because I grew up in Monticello, IA, 1000 miles from the ocean.  Fish and me are not familiar creatures.

Well, fish is an important part of the primal diet, so I need to get over my fears (fear is the mind killer, you know).  So I started with this recipe:  Tilapia Puttanesca. (Thanks, Diane, for the recipe!).  I made it for my hubby, Tim, and my friend, Michael.  They both totally loved it, as did I.  I used frozen fish from Target (Market Pantry brand), defrosted for 30 minutes in a bowl of water.  The recipe is super simple, yet delicious.  We ate it with a side of spinach salad.  I will definitely be making this again.

Here are a few other recipes I’ve made over the past two weeks that have turned out good.

21 Day Sugar Detox Roasted Spaghetti Squash – You can get this, and many other sugar-free recipes, here.  Not to steal the recipe, but basically you cut a spaghetti squash in half (which is no small feat), rub it down with coconut oil, splash on some salt and pepper, bake that baby at 375 FOREVER (at least 45 minutes depending on the size of the squash), and then shred the squash.  Since this took so much longer to bake than I anticipated, we ended up eating the rest of supper and then using the squash over the next few days in breakfast scrambles.  It smelled magnificent while cooking due to the coconut oil, and it held up really well in the scrambles. Once Tim feels up to tackling another slippery, wicked hard, oblong, rolly object, I’ll make this again.  I know there is a dirty innuendo in there somewhere, but I just can’t quite put my finger on it…

Spaghetti Squash Primavera – This is what I was baking the spaghetti squash for.  We ended up just eating the veggies with some sautéed ground pork.  It was delicious, especially with the dressing called for in the recipe – very tart and delicious.  I love leeks, so I used a whole leek.

Today I am cooking a turkey breast in the Nesco roaster.  This is another new recipe, so hopefully all will turn out well!  None of the bastard grocery stores are open today, so if the recipe bombs, we’ll be eating olives and capers and beer, which is pretty much all we have in the fridge at the moment.

For my next venture into unexplored territory, I think I am going to try making soap and/or lotion.  A lot of the blogs I follow have been writing about using more natural products on your face and skin.  We spend so much time and money on the food we put into our bodies; now the paleosphere has decided we should start to pay attention to the stuff we put ON our bodies (skin is the largest organ, you know).  My cousin-in-law just gave me some soap which smells amazing and also shared some of her recipes with me, so I have a good foundation to start with.  I just need to order some supplies from Amazon and take the plunge.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Hope you are having a great day with your families!

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!