Monday, November 28, 2011

Holiday Sides for the Health Conscious

The holidays are tough with dishes full of heavy cream, butter, bread (mmm yummy bread) and all those things that the healthier set tries to limit or avoid.  What's a hungry holiday go-er to do?  How about cmoe prepared with your own tasty treats? Here are two of my favorites.

Brussel Sprouts with Tasso Ham and Smoked Cashews
1/2 lb Tasso Ham
1/2 Cup Smoked Cashews
1/2 Cup Chicken Stock
1lb Brussel Sprouts, shredded
1 Tbsp Peach Balsalmic Vinegar
1 Tbsp Garlic, minced

1. Cut fatty portion of tasso ham off, saute in large skillet to render fat; once it has cooked down add brussel sprouts and garlic and saute until sprouts begin to caramelize.
2. Add chicken stock and cook until sprouts are tender.
3. Once tender turn off heat, add vinegar and cashews.

Yes, tasso ham is a cured meat, defintiely not something you should have as an everyday food but in a side dish on occasion it's mighty tasty!   If you have a holiday ham this would be a great leftover ham recipe, just some of the tasty bits that are on/near the bone would be delicious if you don't have access to or can't get ahold of tasso.

Fancy Mashed Cauliflower
1 Large Head Cauliflower
1/4 Cup Shredded Sharp White Cheddar
1 Tbsp Vegan Butter
1 Tsp Chopped Fresh Rosemary
Salt & Pepper to Taste

1. Cut cauliflower into florets and steam until very tender.
2. Put cauliflower and butter in blender (or use a hand blender) and puree until desired texture.  I prefer it to have some texture and not be 100% smooth.
3. Mix in shredded cheddar, rosemary and seasoning.

Similar to the tasso ham which is a special occasion food, the cheese in this dish isn't strictly's definitely a cheat but for the holidays I feel ok making that addition.  If you don't then that's ok, you might want to add a little chicken broth/stock (very small amount) to your puree to add a little more flavor.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Gobble Gobble Graphics

While I'm more than outspoken on my hobbies, where I live and how I eat, I don't speak much about my job here.  It has been a concious choice, I'm not sure my job is always the most interesting but to give you all a glimpse of that other part of my life I am in marketing.  Nothing super glam, I manipulate data and help pick strategies based on what that data says.  That being said, since I'm a data junkie I love a good graphic.  If you're not familiar with the term infographic, all it means is using pictures to show off information in a more consumable format.  Yes I could show you charts all day long, but a pretty picture means so much more! 

In the spirit of the day and because I love a good infographic (yes I'm a big nerd) here two cool Thanksgiving infographics I've stumbled across this last week.

Happy Turkey Day!  Read these, cook good food, be thankful and enjoy your time with family and friends!

Originally found at Huffington Post

Originally found at Visual Economics

Monday, November 21, 2011

Yes, cavemen and women ate seafood

Eating like a caveman (ok cavewoman) sounds absurd, just the idea that you won't eat things that cave-folk were unable to eat.  Then you start thinking about it, that means no boxed/preserved food right? Not so crazy.  Yes, I miss Cheetoes...oh well. It also means no legumes, no dairy and no grains.  Again, you're probably thinking I'm crazy.  Maybe I am but I also am in the best shape I've been in in years, I recover substantially faster from tough workouts than I have ever and I'm learning that I have no limits, eating like a cavewoman is only a small piece of the puzzle but it's definitely helping.   So to keep myself interested in what I'm cooking and to keep what I'm doing from becoming 'routine' I have to stay creative, which means 'paleo-fying' recipes I already loved and finding new and interesting things. 

A lot of people who make major dietary changes look for ways to force their old tastes into the box of their new diet, I'm not sure I feel that is the best answer.  If this is going to stick it's better to make the switch, embrace it and on occasion allow myself a treat that is paleo but is paleo masquerading as non-paleo goodies.

In keeping with my love of the Farmers Market (and the whole, it should be wild thing that Paleo folks recoomend), I have been buying 99.9% of my seafood from a super vendor at my local market, K&S Seafood, they always have an amazing assortment of Gulf seafood, from shirmp and oysters to tuna, flounder or snapper.  All summer long I would pick up seafood from them almost on a weekly basis, for no reason other than the fact that everything I've gotten from them has been top notch.  So in the spirit of catching up on tasty things and bringing down the queue of recipes I haven't blogged here are two of my seafood delicious dishes from this past summer.

Crab Stuffed Zucchini
1 Large Zucchini, halved with the center scooped out
1/2 Pint Cherry Tomatoes, halved
1 Medium Sweet Onion, diced
1/3 Cup Dessicated Coconut (Unsweet)
1/2 Bunch Green Onions, chopped
1 lb Lump Crab Meat, separated to remove any bits of shell
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Once the oven is hot, place the zucchini halves in large glass baking dishes, put about 1 inch of water in the bottom of the dish and rub a small amount of olive oil along all exposed sides of the cut zucchini.  Salt and pepper zucchini and heat in oven until fork tender.
2. While zucchini is cooking, saute sweet onion until tender in a tsp of olive oil.  Then after onion is translucent, add remaining zucchini (what you scooped out of the center) and salt and pepper to taste.
3. Turn off heat, mix in cherry tomato halves, fold in crab meat.
4. Stuff zucchini with zucchini-onion-tomato mixture, top with coconut and green onions and put back in oven to brown.
5. Let zucchini brown, if the water has completely evaporated add another inch of water to keep things from drying out.

Poor Girl's Cioppino
1lb Snapper Filets, cut into 2 inch cubes
1 lb Lump Crab Meat, separated to remove any bits of shell

2 Fresh Hatch Chiles, seeded and stemmed
1 Bunch Green Onions, chopped
1 14.5oz cans of fire roasted chopped tomatoes
1 Medium Sweet Onion, Diced
1 Tbsp minced garlic
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1. Saute sweet onion and garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil until onion is translucent.
2. Once onion is cooked add 1 diced hatch chile and saute for about two minutes.
3. Add tomatoes and one can of water, let it come up to a boil.
4. Turn down heat so that broth/soup is simmering, let it simmer for 20 minutes.  Add salt/pepper to taste.
5. Add snapper and let it cook for about 5-10 minutes (depending on the size of the pieces you cut, you just want the fish to cook in the broth) then turn off soup and add crap in.
6. Serve topped with a slice of hatch chile and chopped green onions.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Apples to apples

Somewhere between Halloween, the time change and today I realized the holidays are about to come crashing down upon me.  Scary thought, 10 days to Thanksgiving...OMG what is a girl to do?  Well this girl will start arming herself with all forms of delicious veggie sides, some kind of turkey recipe (we usually turn to a brined turkey but maybe something new) and of course a dessert.  It doesn't seem so overwhelming yet but just wait, I'm sure the stress will start getting to me.

Before pilgrims, turkeys and cornucopias come flying my way I want to share some non-turkey influenced recipes centering around my favorite fall ingredients...apples!  I have always enjoyed apples in the fall, between caramel apples, apple cider, apple baked goodies and just plain delicious apples it feels like fall when they are around.  I was super excited the last few weeks to receive apples in my Farmhouse Delivery box, who can beat local apples after all?   For those of you unfamiliar with Farmhouse Delivery, they are a very cool service from here in Austin that delivers bi-weekly or weekly produce boxes to your home or office.  While I am slightly outside their delivery zone I get a weekly box delivered to my parents house; each Thursday. I greedily look forward to the contents of that box  starting long before pickup on Thursday and then happily share it with my family.  It is a constant reminder of the diversity of products available in this area.  On top of the produce that is routine (and ever changing) in each box, you can order meats, canned goods, eggs, cheese and other extra grocery goodies to be delivered as well.  It's amazing how a $39 box has decreased my grocery store trips!  The other neat perk to this is that while they will swap out items due to dietary constraints, having that box delivered with whatever is available, fresh and seasonal means you have to work with it.  Just like other CSA-type programs I have opened up my box to find everything from pears to grapefruits and greens or even turnips (no, I don't know what I'm doing with those yet).

Running backwards after my trip down the Farmhouse Delivery rabbit hole...the main event today, apples. 

First up, a twist on a Cooking Light recipe, Savory Baked Apples.

Stuffed Savory Apples
Inspired by Cooking Light

2/3 cup chicken broth
4 large Honeycrisp apples, cored
1 lb ground pork 
3/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
1/2 cup sharp white cheddar, shredded (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Using a small spoon, carefully scoop out centers of apples, leaving a 1/2-inch-thick shell, and chop apple flesh. Brush the inside of apples with a small amount of broth. Place apples on a baking sheet, and bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until just tender.
3. Preheat broiler to high.
4. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork, and sauté 5 minutes, stirring to crumble. Remove from pan; drain. Add chopped apple, onion, sage, salt and red pepper, sauté 4 minutes. Add garlic; sauté for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add pork, onion mixture, walnuts and divide mixture evenly among apples; top with cheese. Broil for 5 minutes or until golden.

This year the Honeycrisp apples have been delicious, I will eat two maybe three in a day (if they aren't the massively big ones).  Apples appear in stuffings (haven't found my 'paleo' alternative to the bread yet), soups, stews, baked with cinnamon and agave nectar over the top and now as a main dish.

Apart from the stuffed apples, I also made a mean pork-apple soup a few nights back.  I don't mind soups, as a rule I used to love them as an excuse to have a nice crusty loaf of bread around, I think that's part of why I've avoided having a lot of soup since switching to my mostly-paleo diet.  Frankly this soup was delicious and would've been tasty with some crusty warm bread but being a good girl there was none to be found!

Pork & Apple Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound pork sirloin, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
Salt and pepper
1 onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds, (optional)
4 cups chicken stock
1 cups water
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 pound green cabbage, shredded (about 2 cups)
2 tart green apples such as Granny Smith, unpeeled, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1. In a Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Toss pork with 2 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add meat to the pan, and brown, turning occasionally, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
2. Reduce heat to medium-low, add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, onion, and caraway seeds, if using, and cook until onion softens, about 3 minutes. Stir in stock, water, mustard, cabbage, pork, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Add apples, and continue cooking, covered, for 10 minutes.
3. Just before serving, stir in chopped parsley. Be careful not to simmer soup too long, extensive cooking will turn the pork tough.

The final recipe isn't as detailed, or even a recipe so much but instructions on making one of my favorite desserts.  It's quite simple really, core an apple (or two or three or pears or both), put it into an oven safe dish.  Put a few teaspoons of agave nectar or honey as well as flax seed granola (one of my favorite local finds - Flax Z Snacks) and then toss it in the oven (350F) until the fruit is tender.