Saturday, August 31, 2013

Spaghetti Squash Carbonara

I've been making a tooon of recipes ever since starting this Paleo/Primal lifestyle. Sorry, I haven't posted them all. Some have been hits and some have been misses. I will definitely post some of my favorites soon. I have to say that I had my doubts concerning this Spaghetti Squash Carbonara that Health Bent posted on their blog. I thought it was going to be too simple, and not enough ingredients. But, it was seriously delicious. I don't know what it is, but I think red pepper flakes and garlic can really elevate a dish. I've never tried spaghetti squash before, but I have to say I really love it. I really can't believe I've never tried a recipe before with this particular ingredient. Where have I been??? Anyway, I really like this recipe and I know I will be making it again and again. Enjoy!

1 spaghetti squash
1 lb. bacon
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 handfuls of walnuts, roughly chopped
Parmesan cheese to taste (optional)
Red pepper flakes to taste
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cut your spaghetti squash in half and scrape out the seeds. Place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes. Then, flip the squash and roast for an additional 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and scrape out the squash and place in a serving bowl.

While the squash is roasting, take out a non-stick skillet and set to medium heat. Chop the bacon into 1/2 inch pieces and place in the pan. Cook until the bacon is nice and crispy about 5 to 10 minutes. Scrape out the bacon and place on a paper towel. Next, add the chopped onion and the minced garlic and cook until the onion is translucent about 5 minutes. I also added in the red pepper flakes at this point, too. Then, pour into the serving bowl. Heat the chopped walnuts in a skillet for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and into toss them into the serving bowl. Top with the chopped bacon and parmesan cheese if using. Toss together and enjoy.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Western Omelette To Go

So, now that I'm trying to follow a Paleo life-style; I'm having to eat more eggs. Yay. Eh, not really. I've never been an egg fan. Or, I should say a fan of egg yolks. Bleh. I don't like the texture or the flavor of egg yolks. However, I've realized that as long as the eggs are cooked, scrambled, etc then I can tolerate them a lot more. So, I've started looking for recipes that involve cooking such as quiches, omelettes, and scrambled. There's a cookbook I really want to buy from health-bent called Primal Cravings. Fortunately, good ol' amazon let's you look inside the book prior to purchasing. One of the recipes that's featured is this one for Western Omelette To Go. I thought it would be perfect for my lifestyle. I get up really early (5:45 am) and only give myself 45 minutes to get ready. So, I want to make something quick, or have something already made that I can pop in the microwave. Suffice it to say; these Omelettes fit the bill. I was able to make them on a Sunday, and since the serving size is about 6 "muffins" I have one for each day of the week, and one for the weekend. Plus, they turned out to be really delicious. One recommendation; do not microwave these little guys for more than 30 to 45 seconds. I think I microwaved mine for like a minute and a half and they ended up being pretty darn chewy. Bleh. Feel free to tweak the ingredients to your liking. Enjoy!

6 slices of ham
6 eggs
2 tbsp bell pepper, finely chopped (I used yellow)
2 tbsp yellow onion, finely chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste
I threw in some cheese as well.

Set your oven to 350 degrees. Take out your muffin pan and grease with some butter. Line the muffin pan with the sliced ham. Set aside. Next, take out a medium sized bowl; and combine your eggs, chopped pepper, and chopped onion. Toss in some salt and pepper. Stir well. I used an ice cream scoop to scoop out the egg mixture and gently pour into the muffin cups. Bake until the eggs are set...about 15 to 20 minutes.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Beef Chow Mein

I think I may like noodle dishes a bit too much. Ok, not as much as tacos, but a lot. Sesame noodles, spicy noodles, Thai noodles, or cold noodle salad, I’ll take them all. And that’s what drew me to this Beef Chow Mein recipe on The Creative Pot. The noodles look so tasty, with great umami flavor coming through, plus tender meat and crunchy veggies for a whole meal in a bowl. I bumped up the recipe a bit by adding jalapeno, onion, sesame oil, and some chili oil. I think it could still be rounded out a little more but it’s definitely a good base to start from. I also used ramen noodles instead of chinese egg noodles because I didn’t like the egg noodles the last time I used them, but I think if I make this again I’ll give them a shot. The ramen noodles were fine too but might not have soaked up the flavor the same way the egg noodles would have.

1 package Chinese egg noodles
Vegetable oil
½ pound beef, cut into strips
1 medium carrots, peeled and cut into strips
1orange bell pepper, cut into strips 
½ white or yellow onion, cut into strips
1 jalapeno or Serrano, chopped small
4 spring onions, chopped
1/4 cup beansprouts
4 cloves minced garlic
3 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1-2 tsps chili oil (to taste)
1/4 cup water

Soak the egg noodles in hot water for 2-3 minutes, then drain and set aside. (Since we used ramen, we skipped this step and just made the noodles according to the package instructions). I also think if we make this again that we would add a little salt and pepper to the beef before browning. Heat your vegetable oil in a wok and add the beef in batches to brown. We used stir-fry beef from the store because the recipe didn’t specify what kind. Once your meat is browned remove it and set aside. Add a little more oil if necessary and cook the carrots for about 1-2 minutes before adding the bell pepper, onion, and jalapeno. Stir fry those for another 2 minutes or so. You don’t want them to get soft, but just a little more tender. Finally, add in the beansprouts and spring onions and cook for another minute before setting aside in a bowl.

The original recipe called for me to heat the garlic separately, but I forgot and added it into the sauce when I was gathering ingredients. Not sure it made much difference, but if you want to take that step, go for it. Heat a little more oil and fry the garlic for just under 30 seconds until fragrant but not burnt. Then pour in your oyster sauce, soy, sesame oil, chili oil, and water and stir. I actually premixed all of these to make it easier. Add in the noodles and turn the heat down to low as you mix them. You want to make sure that the noodles get fully cooked and that they soak up the flavors. Then add the beef and veggies back into the wok and toss everything together. Make sure everything is warmed through and you’re all set to serve!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Garlic Mushroom Cream Sauce

Garlic. Mushroom. Cream. Three amazingly delicious words. It’s not hard to see why I was drawn to this recipe when I found it on Sweet Paul. The recipe itself is incredibly simple, almost frighteningly so. I always worry with a really simple recipe that it’s going to end up bland. But when you have ingredients like garlic, mushrooms, and cream, it has to be good. And this was good. It was fine. I had two helpings. However, I feel like if something is going to be this bad for me (a cup and a half of cream! Yikes!) then it can’t just be good. It has to be so good. I want to marry it good. Rub it in my beard good. (Don’t worry, I don’t have a beard. It’s just an expression of mine.) It really has to blow me away. And this didn’t. But it was good, and worth a shot. It might just be a personal preference. Maybe you will want to rub it in your beard, and I’m not going to stop you!

2 Tbsps olive oil
½ pound mushrooms of choice (I used portobellos)
1 small onion
4 cloves garlic
1 ½ cup heavy cream
½ cup chicken stock
2 Tbsps fresh dill, chopped
Pasta of choice
Salt & Pepper

To start, roughly chop your mushrooms and then finely chop the onion and garlic. Heat the olive oil in a pan and sauté the mushrooms, onion and garlic until the mushrooms turn a golden brown, about five minutes. Next, pour in the cream and chicken stock, and add in the dill, stirring well. Let it simmer for about five minutes and then add salt and pepper to taste. We added a good amount of salt, and also felt like we wanted to invite our friend cayenne pepper to the meal so we added about a half-teaspoon of that as well. Pour the sauce over your cooked pasta and stir to combine, then serve topped with some parmesan cheese. I was hoping that the sauce might be a little thicker, but it never really seemed to thicken up. Not sure if maybe simmering for a bit longer, or cutting the amount of liquid might help.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Restaurant Style Hummus with Smoked Paprika

Here's my hummus post, and, man, is this a deeelicious recipe. I first tried making a jalapeno hummus, and it turned out quite awful. It wasn't a smooth consistency and lacked flavor. So, I decided to scope out my favorite cookbook Cook's Illustrated to see if they had any hummus recipes. Sure enough they did...and a scrumptious one at that. Now, making your own hummus can seem daunting, but it is really quite easy. One of the major steps to getting a smooth consistency is to peel the outer shell from the chickpeas. For me that is the most annoying part. So, what I do is park myself in front of the tv and gather two bowls. One for the empty shells and one for the shell-less chickpeas. It will help make the process go a lot quicker, and you'll end up with restaurant quality hummus. Enjoy!

1/4 cup water (or juice from the chickpea can)
3 tbsp lemon juice (Fresh)
6 tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste you can find at your local grocery store)
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil plus extra for drizzling
1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and de-shelled
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp smoked parika
Pinch cayenne pepper
2 tbsp toasted pine nuts (optional)
1 tbsp thinly sliced scallion greens (optional)

Take out a small bowl and combine chickpea juice (or water) and lemon juice. Set aside. Next, whisk together the tahini and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium-small bowl. Set aside. Now, take out your food processor and process the chickpeas, garlic, salt, cayenne, and smoked paprika for about 15 seconds. Scrape down the bowl with a spatula. Then, with the machine running (and lid attached), add lemon juice mixture in stead stream. Again, scrape down bowl with rubber spatula. Then process for an additional minute. With machine running, add in the tahini mixture in steady stream, continue to process until hummus is smooth and creamy, about 15 seconds. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Transfer hummus to a large serving bowl and garnish with 1 tbsp thinly sliced scallion greens (optional), 2 tbsp toasted pine nuts and olive oil. As you can tell in the picture I went a little overboard on the pine nuts. Oh well. Enjoy.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Chicken Citrus Salad

I've decided to try a new lifestyle. The reason for this new lifestyle is because I've had certain things pop up in my body that has caused irritation, pain, etc. I've been doing quite a bit of research on this "new" way of eating. Well, it's not really new; it's been around for thousands of years. I'm going back to how our ancestors ate: vegetables, protein, fat, fruit, etc. Now, I'll be the first one to admit that I don't have the healthiest of eating habits. I mean come on; look at how many pasta, dessert, and bread recipes I've posted on this blog. A. Lot. After reading about Paleo; I've decided to give it a shot for thirty days. If you're interested in it you can read about it here. It's quite fascinating and a lot of it makes sense. People think it's a modified Atkins diet. It is; sort of. This isn't a diet; it's a lifestyle change. You're allowed carbs, but you get it in the form of fruits and vegetables. And, Paleo really stresses no grains, legumes, or anything that comes in a package (man-made). I'm actually pretty excited about this; and I really hope it helps some of my body aches and irritations. So, aside for one post I have coming concerning hummus; I'll be posting a lot of Paleo recipes. Including this one from Against All Grain. This salad was very delicious. Normally, I'm starving after eating a salad, but the nuts, chicken, avocados, and fruit really helped to keep me satisfied. If you don't like fruit in your salad then feel free to skip the orange, but it really helps to make the salad. Enjoy.

For the Chicken:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 orange, juiced
1 lime, juiced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon chile powder
salt and pepper

For the dressing:
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/2 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/2 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup olive oil

For the Salad:
2 oranges, segmented
1 avocado, cubed
1 heirloom tomato, diced
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds, toasted on the stove over medium heat until browned
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
2 cups arugula
2 cups butter lettuce
salt and pepper

First, combine the juice from the orange, lime juice, olive oil, cumin, coriander, and salt and pepper into a small bowl. Stir well and then pour into a large zip-lock bag. Toss your chicken into the bag and let marinate for several hours or overnight. I only had time to marinate my chicken for an hour and a half and I thought that it came out just fine. Get your grill ready; and once the chicken is ready grill on medium-high heat (350 degrees) until the chicken reaches a temperature of 170 degrees or the juices run clear. Remove from grill and set aside to rest.
Next, gather a large bowl and add in all the salad ingredients. Then, take out a small bowl and combine all the ingredients for the salad dressing save the olive oil. Stir well and slowly pour in the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper if desired. Now, dice up your chicken and add to the salad and pour the dressing over the salad making sure not to over-dress the salad. Toss well and serve. Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Summer Squash Saute

As I mentioned in the previous post; I love to peruse Bon Appetit's Magazine on the weekends to find new recipes. The June issue of Bon Appetit was a good one. I pulled out several recipes including this one for Summer Squash Sautee. I love when squash is in season. There's so much you can do with it; saute, grill, fry, etc. You can spice it up by adding red pepper flakes, create a sauce for dipping, or add a little melted butter and eat it grilled. Well, I have to say this was awesome. It was spicy, crunchy, and just plain good. It was very simple to make and I highly recommend this as a side dish. Enjoy!

2 lb. summer squash and/or zucchini, cut into matchsticks
1 tsp kosher salt plus more
1/4 cup sliced almonds
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced (I minced mine)
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or a half teaspoon more if you like spicy)
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
Freshly ground black pepper

Cut your squash into matchsticks, and place in a colander. Toss with a teaspoon of salt. Let stand for 10 minutes, then squeeze well to remove as much excess water as possible (do not rinse). Next, toast almonds in a skillet over medium heat. Toss occasionally until lightly browned. Remove from heat and transfer to a plate. Then, heat oil in the same skillet. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring often, until fragrant but not browned. About a minute or two. Add squash and cook, tossing occasionally, until crisp and tender, about 5 minutes. Fold in Parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Fold in almonds. Serve and enjoy!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Sesame Noodles with Chili Oil and Scallions

One of my favorite things to do on my weekends is to peruse magazines while eating my breakfast. I subscribe to many magazines. Granted, most of them are fashion, but I also subscribe to Entertainment Weekly and Bon Appetit. I love Bon Appetit. If I come across a recipe that sounds interesting I'll rip out the page and tuck it in one of my notebooks. In the June issue of Bon Appetit; I came across this recipe for Sesame Noodles. Now, I know Wormfood already posted this recipe, but to me Bon Appetit's version is completely different. Sure, it has sesame oil but that's really where the similarities end. Okay, fine. It also has soy sauce, but what asian recipe doesn't? Ha. Anyway, I thought this recipe was pretty darn good. It wasn't as spicy as I would have thought, but it had a lot of flavor. Also, I wish I had waited till the noodles had cooled down, because I feel like it made the sauce kind of weird. It's hard to explain, but I think if I had let the noodles cool the sauce would have been silkier. I used an Habanero pepper as I didn't have a sichuan pepper handy. And, I was kind of confused as to what to do with the oil mixture, but if I had followed the directions I would have realized that I was making my own chili oil. Instead, when I made the dressing I used chili oil I had in the cabinet. Whoops. Anyway, it still turned out great. I can't wait for my next copy of Bon Appetit. Enjoy!

4 scallions, whites and greens separated, thinly sliced
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 tsp sesame seeds
2 tsp Sichuan pepper, coarsely chopped (I used an Habanero from my garden)
12 oz. think ramen noodles or spaghettini (I used spaghetti)
Kosher salt
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
3 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp sugar

Take out a small sauce pan, and cook the scallion whites, vegetable oil, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, and pepper in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir occasionally. Once oil is sizzling and scallions are golden brown (12 to 15 minutes) remove from heat and let cool. Don't forget to turn off the stove. Next, cook your noodles in a large pot of salted, boiling water until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water. Now, take out a large bowl and whisk in the tahini, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and 2 to 3 tablespoons of the chili oil you had set aside earlier. Season with salt. Add noodles and toss to coat. Top with scallion greens and drizzle with more chili oil if you so desire. Enjoy.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Garlic Herb Marinated Pork Chops

Don’t you just hate it when a recipe looks really good, it sounds really good, and it looks delicious when it’s marinating, and even after it’s cooked it looks mouthwatering and then, after all that… it kinda sucks? Yeah, I hate that too. Unfortunately that’s the story with these pork chops. I mean, look at these puppies in the marinade.

I mean, that looks fantastic, doesn’t it? I was looking at this all day, just imagining how good it was going to taste. And then we grilled it and it looked unbelievable! I was all ready for some garlicky, herby goodness. But sadly the only flavor I really got was burnt garlic. No herb flavor came through at all. I don’t blame the grill master, because these are thick chops that need a lot of time on the grill, so I’m not sure there is any way around getting a little char from the bits of garlic. I have to assume that the problem is the marinade itself. We let it sit for a good eight hours, so there’s no reason why no flavor should have gotten into the pork. Maybe we left too much marinade on the pork when we grilled it, but I think scraping it away would have just gotten rid of what little taste it did have. Anyway, here’s the recipe if you’d like to try it yourself. I found it on a blog called Everyday Maven. Maybe you’ll have better luck.

2 Thick cut pork chops
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
10 medium cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 Tablespoon finely chopped sage leaves (about 8 leaves)
¾ teaspoon finely chopped thyme
¾ teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1½ teaspoons whole black peppercorns, crushed

Start by mixing up your marinade in a small bowl. Combine olive oil, garlic, all the herbs, salt and red pepper. I crushed my peppercorns with a meat hammer (which was fun!) but you can also use the bottom of a saucepan. Just be careful not to send peppercorns flying all over your kitchen! Add the crushed peppercorns into the marinade as well and mix. Then spoon your marinade on top of each chop, rubbing it in. Then flip and repeat on the other side.

To grill, start with two minutes with the lid open and eight closed, then flip and do another two minutes open, eight closed. Finish it off with another few minutes open until the meat is cooked through, then remove from the grill and let it rest for around ten minutes before serving.