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Paleo Without Pity-Chicken Meatballs (And My Sitter is Better Than Your Sitter)

Everyone knows that the secret to sanity as a parent is to have a good baby sitter so you can go on dates with your spouse, which helps keep the marriage happy.  We have always been pretty lucky to have good sitters that we have found though the Daycare, but our sitter Lisa is really the tops!

She not only watches the kids and does fun art projects with them, but when we go away for family trips she house and dog sits as well.  Our dog is happy because she is not in the kennel, and we are happy because the kennel is expensive and Lucy is always mad at us after she goes there.

In addition to taking care of the house and dog, Lisa often cooks for us and leaves things in the fridge.  Before we went Paleo we used to come home to a couple dozen fresh baked chocolate chip cookies, but this time when we came home, we came home to awesome chicken meatballs and eggs and veggies in muffin cups.  I don’t have the egg recipe yet, but I have these perfectly paleo meatballs.

So Lisa, thanks for your awesomeness!  We will miss you when we move!

Turkey/Chicken Vegetable Meatballs (Serves 4-6)

1lb ground turkey or chicken

2 medium carrots (or a handful of baby carrots)

1 bell pepper (you choose the color)

5 large white mushrooms

handful of fresh parsley

1/2 yellow onion

2 cloves garlic

2TBS Italian Seasoning

1/2 tsp ground pepper

2tsp garlic salt (optional)

1. Heat oven to 350

2. Combine all veggies in a food processor or blender and process until small chopped

3. Empty veggies in lage bowl, add meat and seasonings, mix completely

4. Form into balls and bake on an ungreased baking sheet for 25 minutes, or until golden brown all over and fragrant.

I liked the meatballs as is, although the veggie chunks were too obvious for the kids.  I would not cook these for a long time in sauce unless you want a meat & veggie sauce, but I added a can of diced tomatoes to the meatballs in the fridge and microwave them briefly to warm and the tomatoes really add some nice flavor.

So there you go, perfectly paleo meatballs and indisputable proof that my sitter is better than yours (sticks out tongue)

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Paleo Without Pity-Slow Cooker Roasted Artichokes

Artichokes are super good for you, with a whole (very filling) medium artichoke having 64 calories, 10 whopping grams of fiber, with no fat and 3 grams of protein.  However, ordering the “Fire Roasted Artichoke” from the Cheesecake Factory is a caloric nightmare, and even the “Light” artichoke is not good for you either.

I usually roast artichokes in the oven, throwing it in to slow roast with some meat.  If you do want to use the oven, its 75-90 minutes at 425.  However, with the warmer weather approaching I don’t want to have the oven on heating up my kitchen.  The slow cooker can be invaluable at times like these.

Artichokes are in season now.  When at the grocery store you can pick the freshest artichokes by squeezing the “leaves”  Really fresh artichokes will squeak when squeezed.

Since I am the only person in the family who eats artichokes I used my smallest slow cooker (I have 3-don’t judge).  However you could make this for a crowd and it would not take a lot of work.
Ingredients
Artichoke
2 cloves of peeled garlic per choke
1/2 lemon per choke
foil
olive oil
sea salt (Optional)

To Roast:

1. For each artichoke, cut off the stem and 1/3 of the top.  Trim the tops of the other leaves with a scissor
3. Shove the garlic cloves inside the top of the garlic clove
4. Oil or spray the foil with cooking spray, place the artichoke in the middle
5. Drizzle oil on the choke, sprinkle with salt and squeeze the lemon 1/2 on it.
6. Wrap the choke in the foil, sealing the foil and place in the oven
7. Cook for 4-6 hours on high 7-9 hours on low.
8. Remove and when the foil is cool enough to handle, remove foil and serve.

When you roast the artichokes they come out tender and delicious and you do not need any butter or garlickly mayo sauce.

 

Paleo Without Pity-Mango Curry Chicken and Tostones

I saw this recipe in Clean Eating Magazine with Beef and Peanuts, but I subbed in chicken and almonds, since I sometimes find stir fry beef to be a little chewy.

This meal is delicious and pretty easy to prepare.  With the exception of the plantains, I had everything in my freezer or pantry already.

Mango Curry Chicken and Tostones (Serves 4)

Mango Curry Chicken

1 teaspoon of olive or coconut oil.  (Add a little more or cooking spray if the pan looks dry)

1 large or two small yellow onions chopped

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces

3 Gloves Garlic, minced (I use a press)

1 C Frozen Mango

2 teaspoons curry powder

2 T sliced almonds

Sea Salt and Pepper to Taste

Tostones

1 T olive or coconut oil

2 yellow plantains cut into 1/4 in pieces

 

Chicken:

Heat oil in pan and cook onion for 5 minutes or until translucent

Add chicken and garlic cook for 5 minutes or chicken looks mostly cooked through

Add curry and mango, cook for five minutes or until the mango is warm

Remove from heat and add almonds, taste and adjust salt and pepper, cover to keep warm until serving

Tostones

Heat oil in separate pan, place tostones in pan with room for them to breathe and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Using Tongs, turn over, careful not to touch the hot tostone with your fingers, there by teaching your six year old new and exciting words.

Cook for another 2-3 minutes, please on paper towel to blot gently and serve with chicken.

Note: If using beef, drain in a colander before adding the mango.

This was a great dish.  I had it done from start to finish in less than 1/2 an hour.

Next time I make it I might serve it with a spinach salad or a touch of avocado to mellow the curry.

I did not attempt to serve this to my kids as they are not big curry lovers.  I also find that while I love and appreciate the value of a full family dinner, once a week its nice to feed the kids a little earlier and have a peaceful meal with just my husband.  Its nice to eat at a relaxing pace without having to worry about correcting table manners or watching people make faces when unfamiliar food is served.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paleo Without Pity-Spicy Hungarian Beef Stew

We have been Paleo for a month now, and still working on finding yummy dishes to have for dinner, that make nice leftovers for me to have for lunch, since salads will get pretty old, pretty soon for me.

While persuing Stephanie O’Dea’s More Make it Fast, Cook it Slow, I found lots of great recipes, that with minor adjustments could be Paleo. (She also has an awesome blog, A Year of Slow Cooking.  Since her family follows a gluten free diet, her recipes have done a lot of the heavy lifting, Paleo wise.  You just have to work around the dairy (if you are dairy free paleo) and the suggested sides.

I made this awesome beef stew the other day, with just a few adjustments.  It was easy, made the house smell WONDERFUL, and best of all, delicious and very microwavable the next day.

Spicy Hungarian Beef Stew (Serves 6)

3 lbs stew meat

2 chopped, seeded green peppers

2 onions, peeled & rough chopped

4 peeled garlic cloves

2 chilies in adobo

1 6oz can tomato paste

2 teaspoons kosher salt (optional)

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup water

Place stew meat in 6qt  slow cooker

Combine all other ingredients in food processor or blender (do in batches if you have to) and pulse until well mixed and a sauce forms.

Pour sauce over meat

Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours, or until meat can be cut with a spoon.

Thoughts:

Hubby and the kids loved it and it microwaved really well the next day.  It took  me less than 1o minutes to get it into the slow cooker and the house smelled AMAZING.

Also, no one had any clue that there were green peppers in there.

 

Cooking Without Drama-Paleo Roasted Root Vegetables

We have just rounded into week 4 of our 3 month Paleo Challenge.  While I am still getting overwhelming cravings for bread, (especially a nice crusty sourdough), and potatoes, I am finding the biggest challenge coming up with side dishes to go with the lean proteins since the rice, biscuits, rolls, garlic toast, mac-n-cheese, pastas, polentas, potato dishes are now off limit.

What I have discovered in its place are other root vegetables.  Sure, I’ve always enjoyed a sweet potato, but I have never tried turnips, rutabagas or parsnips.  Well the other day I did.

I saw the original recipe on the Wegmans website and adjusted it to fit within the confines of the Paleo Challenge.

Paleo Honey Roasted Root Vegetables (Serves 4 as a hearty side, 6 as a small side and two as a meatless dish)

1/2 medium rutabaga, peeled, cut in 1-inch pieces on bias or 2 cups Cleaned & Cut Rutabaga
1 medium (6 oz) turnip, peeled, cut in 1-inch pieces on bias (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 large  Organic Carrots, peeled, cut in 1-inch pieces on bias (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 large (6 oz) parsnip, peeled, cut in 1-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 Tbsp Olive  Oil
Sea Salt and pepper to taste  (I did not use salt, as the challenge does not allow)
2 Tbsp Coconut Oil, melted
2 Tbsp Raw Honey, melted

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees 

  1. Toss rutabaga, turnip, carrots and parsnips with basting oil; arrange in a single layer on baking sheet. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Roast 25 min; remove from oven.
  2. Combine melted coconut oil and honey to make glaze. Drizzle over vegetables and carefully toss until completely coated.
  3. Return veggies to oven. Roast 8-10 min until glaze just begins to bubble.
 I actually cooked them at 350 degrees for 45 minutes because I had a turkey breast in there as well, and jacked up the heat for the last bit while the turkey breast rested.
They were delicious and reheated well.

 

MCAS Day

Since we live in Massachusetts its the week my son takes the MCAS-The Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System. This means he has no homework this week, except to “get a good night’s sleep” and “eat a healthy breakfast”. Which annoys me because 1st off they are coddling the kids. If i have an important meeting or presentation at work, it does not mean that the dest of my work stops. And 2nd, shouldn’t I be making sure my kids get a food night sleep and a healthy breakfast every day? It’s annoying enough that I almost want to keep my kid up to all hours and then give him a ‘pop’ themed breakfast of soda pop, tarts of pop and pop rocks as an appetizer.

I really hate the focus on standardized testing. I feel it hampers the teachers and they spend time teaching kids how to do well on the MCAS and less time teaching more critical thinking.

I also hate how the ratings on a standardized test then define the school district. With the exception of one teacher that should have retired, my son has had wonderful, engaged teachers and caring support staff.

However, since the MCAS scores are not good, the school district is not good. And since the school district is not “good” then the whole town is considered a less than desirable place to live.

Which is a lot to be determined from some kids filling out bubbles on a sheet.

Cooking Without Drama-Paleo Stuffed Peppers

Growing up, stuffed peppers were awesome with the bite of the pepper mellowed by tomato sauce and slow roasting and the mixtutre of spices, sausage, rice, breadcrumbs, and cheeses mixed into the pepper.  However since I’m on a Paleo Challenge at my Crossfit Box, I needed to learn to make these delights without the sausage, the rice and the cheese.

Also, since I like dinner on the table within 30 minutes of walking in the door, how can I make it easier?

Answer- Slow Cooker of course!  When I made these beauties, I prepared the stuffing, cleaned out the & stuffed the peppers and made the sauce the night before, then all I had to do the next day was assemble and turn the slow cooker on.  When I got home…the house smelled awesome and dinner was on the table in the 10 minutes it took to make a side salad.

Paleo Stuffed Peppers (Serves 4)

4 Green Bell Peppers

1lb Meatloaf/Meatball Mix (Get the beef/pork/veal mix-its the moistest)

8 oz sliced baby bella mushrooms

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2 T dried Basil

1 T dried oregano

1/2 t black pepper

1 t crushed red pepper

c cloves crushed garlic

28oz Can Crushed Tomatoes

1 Cup Red Pepper Puree (Recipe Follows)

1. Prepare peppers:  Remove tops of pepper and chop up useable part of top.  Clean out the seeds and membranes and discard.

2. Prepare filling: Place baby bellas in food processor or blender and process until finely chopped, add to pan

3.  Crumble meatloaf/meatball mixture into hot pan with pepper pieces, onions, and spices

4. Let mixture brown, and then drain.

5. Stuff peppers and set aside.

6. Make Sauce: Open Can of Crushed tomatoes and place in a bowl.  Add red pepper puree and mix well.

7. Prepare to cook.  Add 1/2 the sauce to bottom of the slow cooker.  Add peppers to the slow cooker.  Top each pepper with some sauce and pour the rest of the sauce into the slow cooker.

8. Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours.

Enjoy

Red Pepper Puree

For every two peppers you plan to roast use 1 head garlic.  Drizzle some olive oil on the cut head of garlic and wrap in foil.  Place the peppers and garlic in a pan and roast at 425 for at least an hour or until the garlic yields when given a gentle squeeze.  Place the peppers in a ceramic or plastic bowl (not metal-it messes with the acidity) cover with plastic wrap and let sit 20 minutes.  Peel peppers and remove seeds.  Add peppers into blender and squeeze in roasted garlic.  Puree, adding a drizzle of evoo if the peppers are not moving.

This freezes really well.