Two moms. Five daughters. Opposite ends of the globe.

Two moms. Five daughters. A friendship that spans opposite ends of the globe.

We have been best friends for ages with a shared love for good food. A desire of good health for ourselves and our families have lead us to exploring the paleo lifestyle together. Enjoy our adventure!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Most Awesome Meatloaf

I couldn't decide what to call this... it is hands down by far the best meatloaf ever...and I have tried a LOT. Just about every paleo blogger has their own version...and I've made several of them. They are all good - so what makes this the best? Well, a few things. First - what to use to keep it moist, and take the place of breadcrumbs? Most people use almond or some other nut meal. I like almond meal fine in meatloaf and meatballs, but frankly I don't need the calories. Second - basic meatloaf is well, boring... I've been adding my other secret ingredient in increasing amounts so not to overwhelm the loaf. Totally got it perfect tonight... moist, rich, flavorful... So good, we were all fighting over seconds. So, what are these two fantastic additions? Read on:

My super-awesome, totally-yummy, "keep your hands off my seconds" nut-free Meatloaf!

1 zucchini, grated
1 teaspoon salt

2 lbs grass-fed ground beef
1 diced onion
2-4 minced garlic cloves
1/2 cup fresh herbs - basil, oregano, marjoram, or a mix.
1 teaspoon dried herbs. (oregano or any italian mix)
2 eggs
3 Tablespoons tomato paste (1 foil pack)
1 can diced tomatoes (optional)

4-6 oz marinated liver, grated, or diced very fine if not frozen
(I mentioned this in my last recipe- liver is worlds upon worlds better if you marinate it in lemon juice for at least 30 minutes & up to a day. I cook some of it on its own, and freeze the rest in approximately 5 oz chunks to use later in meatballs or meatloaf.)

What to do:

First, grate the zucchini and salt it. Use your hands to mix the salt in well, then leave it while you get everything else ready. Grate the liver into a separate bowl. Be careful if its frozen that you don't get frost bite on your hands. (trust me!)

Scoop the zucchini up in both hands and squeeeeeeeeze. Squeeze some more. I dump that onto a doubled paper towel and gently squeeze again to get all the water out. Don't skip this, or you won't have a loaf so much as a soup. It starts out as about 2 cups grated zucchini, and ends up about a cup after all the water is out.

Get your slow-cooker ready with a light swipe of oil.

Mix all the ingredients by hand thoroughly and form into a loaf to fit your slow cooker. I get it close, drop it in, and then push the sides in all around to make it a little taller than I want. It will settle a little while cooking.

Sometimes I add a can of chopped tomato over the top. Its not really necessary, but it makes a great sauce that can be served over veggies.

Cook 5-7 hours on low... plus or minus depending on when you want dinner and how your cooker cooks. I usually start on high for an hour and then turn it down for another 4-6.

Serve with veggies, roasted root veggies, or mashed rutabagas...

Friday, July 29, 2011

Smothered Liver and Roasted Cauliflower

How many of you used to have to eat liver as a kid, and the ONLY way you could choke it down was to smother it with ketchup? In my house, we couldn't leave the table until the plate was clean...even if it was mom's overcooked (sorry, mom!) liver. Well, now I'm older (ouch!) and wiser (yea!) and have figured out that liver is not only GREAT for you, but that with a trick or two, can be pretty yummy as well! My pre-cooking google search (I do this almost every night) revealed that several liver recipes called for thyme... hmmm... I like it plain, but figured so many in agreement must be on to something, so I sprinkled it on some cauliflower with some garlic cloves and oil to roast as a side. As always, substitute as needed, posts are just a guide. Bon appetite!

Smother Liver with Roasted Cauliflower:

Roasted Cauliflower with Thyme

Pre-heat over to 200C or close to 400F. Chop florets from 1/2 a cauliflower and toss with a few peeled garlic cloves, oil of choice, and dried or fresh thyme and S&P to taste. Roast in oven for 30-40 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Smothered Liver

TIP #1. THE most important step for liver neophytes. MARINATE THE LIVER IN LEMON JUICE! It makes a difference...really! If you think you hate liver but want to try to eat it because you KNOW you SHOULD...try this tip. 24 hours is best, so plan ahead... even 30 minutes makes a difference....

TIP #2. Don't overcook! I guess if you have a true aversion to pink and feel compulsive about cooking to "well done," then go for it... but I cannot stress how much better this dish is when only cooked to medium...or medium rare if you dare.

1 large lemon
Liver - a pound or close to it to serve 2 - diced to 1/2 - 3/4 inch cubes
oil of choice
1 onion - diced
1/2 cup diced mushrooms (optional)
1/2 cup beef stock
1 foil pack tomato paste (2-3 T)

Squeeze lemon juice over liver an marinate at least 30 minutes, up to a day. 24 hours is optimal if you have the time.

While cauliflower is roasting:
Dice onion fine and liver to bite size. Dice mushrooms if using and heat oil in pan. (beef tallow is a plus.)
Saute onions and mushrooms until onion is softened and crisping on the edges. You want it to be almost done before you go on.
Toss in diced liver and sear for a minute. After a minute, give a quick stir and flip any pieces that didn't flip on their own. Sear for 1 more minute. At this point, either stir-fry to desired doneness...or if you have no aversions to nightshades, stir in a few tablespoons of tomato paste and 1/2 cup beef stock. Continue to stir-fry until as done as you need it to be. Medium is better than you'd think - especially if you think you don't like liver, but cooking it longer won't hurt anything either.

Serve hot with cauliflower. So yummy - the DH and kiddos all ate some without complaining. (Even I'm surprised!)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What to cook for picky kids - Hamburger cut-outs

Usually I hate cooking multiple meals for the family and avoid it as much as I can, but the reality is: DH and I love spicy food but the kiddos are 5 (picky,) 5 (picky,) and 7 (picky) and tend to want meals a little more simple. Luckily, they have taken to the standard veggie plate that starts almost every meal, and tonight's cooking lended itself to "spicy for us" and "simple for them" quite easily. For us? A rockin' penang curry made with ground grass-fed beef and whatever veggies I could find. I keep lime leaves in the freezer so I always have those on hand... See Angie's fabulous post for thai curry basics!
After I grabbed the ground beef I needed for the curry, I put the rest in a large zip-lock bag and pressed it flat (around 1/2 inch thick or less) and popped it in the freezer. By the time the curry was simmering away, the rest of the ground beef was firm, the veggies were almost gone, and I grabbed cookie-cutters and cut out some hearts and initials for the girls.
Difficult? No! Recipe needed? No! But if any of you have picky kids like I do, or are worried about what to feed them, sometimes all it takes is a little creativity. Besides, you need to find a use for all the cookie cutters, ice-cream scoops, and cupcake tins that you really don't need anymore!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Jet-Lag Special

I've gotten really good with short-cuts while cooking since having kids, but this morning I woke up at 3:30 am so I had a little extra time to do things right. Today's cooking goal? To make beef stock. Usually I just use raw soup bones I get from the grass-fed beef vendor at our market, and whatever veggies I can find in the fridge. This morning I decided to roast the bones first. It really makes for a good stock, and as a bonus-if you line your tray with foil and turn up the edges, you can save all the awesome fat that renders from the marrow. Most of that I saved for future use, but I took a few teaspoons of it, fried a julienned purple carrot in it, and ended up with a super yummy "hash." Add a fried egg on top, and viola!
The picture didn't turn out as well as I would have liked, but it sure was delish. I would absolutely add some onion next time, but I haven't re-stocked the refrigerator yet and didn't have any.

Purple Carrot Hash

1 carrot per person
(I know this will be even better next time with onion)
marrow fat! or whatever fat you like
S&P to taste
1 or 2 eggs per person

Julienne, slice, or dice your veggies
Fry in the marrow or other fat until soft and starting to crisp up.
Move hash to plates and use the same pan to fry eggs to your liking.
Serve egg over the hash with S&P. Who needs potatoes anyway?

Mixed Seafood Red Curry

On the tail of my previous post about making a perfect Thai Coconut Curry, I thought I'd give an example of the deliciousness you can create with a little imagination. This rich red curry is so gorgeous, I serve it plain and always want to eat the whole batch in a single sitting.

  • 1 T coconut oil
  • 2 T red curry paste 
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • kaffir lime leaves (optional)
  • 1 Japanese eggplant, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup fresh green beans, end trimmed and cut in half
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into chunks
  • 2 heads baby bok choy, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup baby tomatoes, whole
  • 1/4 pound salmon, cut into chunks
  • 3 sea scallops, cut in half
  • 3 large prawns, peeled and deveined
  • 1 1/2 tsp fish sauce
  • 3 tsp lime juice
  • 2-3 cilantro, chopped

  1. Heat oil in a wok or pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add curry paste and fry for 2-3 minutes. The paste will become fragrant and may begin popping and sizzling.
  3. Add about 1/3 can of coconut milk and kaffir limes leaves (if using) and mix well with the curry paste and oil. Fry for 5-10 minutes or until an oily sheen appears the coconut milks begins to separate.
  4. Add the vegetables and fry 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add the seafood and fry 1-2 minutes.
  6. Add the remaining 2/3 can of coconut milk along with the fish sauce and lime juice. Cook 5 minutes, or until the seafood is cooked through and the vegetables are at a desired doneness.
  7. Taste and adjust. Too mild? Add more curry paste. Too bland? Add more fish sauce and/or lime juice. Too thick? Add a little water. Continue adjusting until you reach that taste of ultimate yumminess.
  8. Stir in cilantro and serve immediately.

A Perfect Thai Coconut Curry

Thai Curry is probably the most frequently cooked dish in my house. I could make a different curry each night of the week and would never get tired of the creamy deliciousness! The basic ingredients of a Thai Curry are curry paste, coconut milk, and protein and/or veggies. From there, you can mix and match to create an endless variety of gorgeous meals.

Here's an overview of the different types of Thai curries (from mild to spicy) and the most common combinations:
  • Yellow Curry (Kaeng Kari). This is generally a mild Thai curry and turmeric in the paste results in a bright yellow color. Yellow curry is most often made with chicken, onion, and potatoes. For a paleo version of this basic recipe, I substitute rutabaga or other paleo-friendly root vegetables for the potatoes. I also like making a yellow curry with shrimp and baby sweet tomatoes.
  • Massaman Curry (Kaeng Matsaman). This Thai curry is Muslim in origin and the paste contains "warming" spices like cardamom, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, and nutmeg. Massaman curry is a great winter curry and is most often made with beef, nuts, onion, and potatoes. I generally make massaman curry with beef, onion, and cashews then serve it over mixed raw cut veggies although again, paleo-friendly root vegetables can be substituted for the potatoes.
  • Panang Curry (Panaeng). This Thai curry is one of my favorites and can range from quite mild to fiery hot. Panang curry paste has similar ingredients to red curry paste (and in some cases, recipes even call for red curry paste), but the preparation of a panang curry makes it distinct. While the other curries tend to be served in a bowl with a creamy coconut gravy, panang is a "dry" curry made it less coconut milk and served on a plate. Panang curry is often made with beef or chicken and peanuts. I like substituting cashews for the peanuts and I think pretty much any veggie tastes great in a panang curry.
  • Red Curry (Kaeng Phet). This is a spicier Thai curry made with red chilies and is usually prepared with chicken or seafood and bamboo shoots. I like adding red bell peppers, carrots, and broccoli although like the panang, I will use any veggie in a red curry.
  • Green Curry (Kaeng Khiao Wan). This is one of the spiciest Thai curries made with green chilies and I believe the most common in Thailand. It is made with a variety of meats but almost always contains eggplant. In addition to eggplant, I like making it with chicken and adding other green vegatables like fresh green beans, zucchini, baby bok choy and broccoli.

Note that I do not make my own curry paste. There are plenty of recipes for each type of curry paste, but most pre-packaged pastes are paleo-friendly (but read the ingredients to be sure) and I've never been quite able to attain the same tastes with my homemade curry paste. So I take the easy road here.

  • 1 T coconut oil
  • 1 "scoop" curry paste of choice (start with 1-2 tsp - you can add more later)
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • kaffir lime leaves (optional)
  • chilies or sambal oelek for more kick (optional)
  • 2-3 cups vegetable(s) of choice, chopped
  • 1 pound meat of choice, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1-2 tsp fish sauce
  • 2-4 tsp lime juice
  • 2-3 T fresh basil or cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • cashews (optional)

  1. Heat oil in a wok or pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add curry paste and fry for 2-3 minutes. The paste will become fragrant and may begin popping and sizzling.
  3. Add about 1/3 can of coconut milk and kaffir limes leaves (if using) and mix well with the curry paste and oil. Fry for 5-10 minutes or until an oily sheen appears the coconut milks begins to separate.
  4. Add the vegetables and fry 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add the meat and fry 1-2 minutes.
  6. Add the remaining 2/3 can of coconut milk along with the fish sauce and lime juice. Cook 5 minutes, or until the meat is cooked through and the vegetables are at a desired doneness.
  7. Taste and adjust. Too mild? Add more curry paste. Too bland? Add more fish sauce and/or lime juice. Too thick? Add a little water. Continue adjusting until you reach that taste of ultimate yumminess.
  8. Stir in basil or cilantro and cashews (if using).
  9. Serve immediately over Cauliflower Rice, Spaghetti Squash, or a mix of chopped raw vegetables.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Pork Vindaloo and Cauliflower Rice

Vindaloo is typically known as a fiery hot Indian curry. It was first introduced to the Goan region by the Portuguese as a meat stew flavored with wine and garlic. The Indians created their own version by switching out the wine for vinegar and adding plenty of spice from red chillies. A spicy Pork Vindaloo is one of the hottest dishes served in most Indian restaurants but if you really want to set yourself on fire, keep your eyes open for the even spicier Tindaloo. This is a mild and creamy Vindaloo, but feel free to adjust the heat with by throwing in some extra chillies!

Pork Vindaloo Ingredients:
  • 3 T coconut oil
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 onion, cut into chunks
  • 3 T grainy mustard
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp turmeric (or curry powder)
  • 1/2 to 2 tsp cayenne powder
  • 2 T red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 pounds pork, cubed
  • 1 can coconut milk

Pork Vindaloo Directions:
  1. Heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add whole garlic cloves and fry until lightly browned.  (If not using a pressure cooker, I crush the garlic).
  2. Add onions and fry until lightly browned, stirring as needed.
  3. Make a paste by mixing the mustard, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, and vinegar.  Stir in to the onions and garlic and mix well.
  4. Stir in the meat and coconut milk.
  5. Cover and bring to high pressure in the cooker.  Reduce heat and cook with pressure for 20 minutes.  If using a normal stovepot pan, simmer until the meat is cooked through, approximately 60 minutes.
  6. Serve immediately over Cauliflower Rice or raw chopped veggies.

Cauliflower Rice: There are many ways to prepare Cauliflower Rice and this is my favorite. Finely chop or grate one head of raw cauliflower. Spread thinly on a cookie sheet then drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until browned. Stir halfway through to brown the cauliflower more evenly. Serve immediately or it tends to get a bit soft.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Polish Sałatka (Polish Potato Salad - Paleo Style)

Another day another cook-out. I used to love potato salad, so imagine my delight when searching polish food recipes to stumble across "sałatka." Its potato salad, and so much of course to make it paleo I made it so much less (-potatoes, sugar, and non-paleo dressings) and a new fav was born!

Polish Sałatka (the "ł" is like our "w." - but you can just call it yummy!)

1 large rutabega or a few small ones
1 parsnip
1 celery root

1 turnip
2 carrots

2-3 celery stalks
2-3 polish dill pickles
(any other veggie you have on hand and like(d) in potato salad - green or red peppers?)

2 hard boiled eggs, cut into bite-sized pieces
Mayo - probably homemade or any that is actually paleo

What to do??

Peel and cut all veggies to bite size. (I diced the non-boiled veggies smaller - my personal preference.) The ones in the first group (rutabegas, parsnips, celery root) you want to boil until tender.

The veggies in the second group (carrot, turnip) you could boil, but I hate mushy turnips, so I quickly blanched these.

The veggies in the last group (celery, pickles) leave raw.

Dump it all in a big bowl, and dress with as much paleo mayo you like. Add a little mustard and S&P to taste, and voila! A paleo potato salad everyone will love!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Power outage!

I was getting really REALLY tired of chicken... SO, I was paging thru my new cookbook ("Everyday PALEO" by Sarah Fragoso) that Angie gave me (thanks again, Ange!) and stumbled across Salmon Cakes with Ginger Mayo. I did a double take, and then remembered.... I've made those. And better yet, the kids loved those! Believe me, I had my doubts. Canned salmon? I like salmon, but canned salmon? Bleh-it stinks! I'm not sure why I ever tried them in the first place, but I am so SO glad I did. (I was probably being lazy and trying to avoid a trip to the store.) Now here comes the fun part... I was at my mom's house and a storm was coming. I made the mayo first, and that was good, because within seconds after finishing it the power went out. I was literally scooping the mayo out of the blender in the dark. Luckily, mom has a gas stove top. I feel strongly that gas is better for cooking than electric---never more so than when the power is OUT. Kinda modern-day paleo to be cooking by lamplight!

Now, this is Sarah's recipe, so I won't post it again. (click the link here or above to get her recipe.) I will say, Don't worry if you have to substitute. Mom didn't have dried dill, but did have ancient dill seeds so I just chopped them a little to release some flavor. Sarah didn't mention how big the cans of salmon were, so I assumed small and used one big 14.5 ounce can. I also totally forgot to put mustard in the mayo. Still great. To make up for that-the green onions were fresh from dad's garden! The only bad thing about these salmon cakes is I forgot the leftovers at mom's house and can't have one right now!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sassy Green Devils

This recipe is one you've seen all over, just search "paleo" + "deviled eggs." Yes, you can make regular deviled eggs paleo if you make your own mayo, but I had neither the time or the equipment. I also have made these before and think I actually prefer them to the old version. There are many, many versions of this recipe all over the internet, but I'm giving credit to and linking to this site because Jessica called them green devils, which I just like... and I love her recipe exactly as is. BUT, I also like more of a kick, so I added lime juice the second time I made them, and then a chopped up jalapeno the third... I think I now have the best possible combination....and they are fantastic! Enjoy!

Sassy Green Devils
  • 6 hard boiled eggs
  • 1 avocado
  • handful cilantro, chopped
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • S&P
Cut eggs in half, remove yolks, set whites aside. Take the yolks and smush them up with the remaining ingredients. Scoop the filling back into the egg white halves. You can garnish with paprika or cayenne if you like...but while a regular deviled egg really needs the sprinkle of red to spruce it up, the little green guys are fine on their own.

Curry Chicken Satay and Garlic Broccoli Stir-Fry

Skewers! I could take my kids' least favorite food, stick it on a skewer, and they would gobble it up like a birthday dinner. This summer, I've spent a lot of time experimenting with paleo-friendly marinades and sauces for grilled items. Surprise, surprise... this one with Indian flavors has risen above the others as a family favorite. My oldest daughter is not crazy about cooked vegetables... except for this stir-fry. She can make an entire meal out of the garlic broccoli alone!

Curry Chicken Satay Ingredients:
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 T fresh ginger, grated
  • 2-3 T curry powder
  • 2-3 T lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts or thighs, cut into strips

Garlic Broccoli Ingredients:
  • 2 T coconut oil (or oil of choice)
  • 6-10 garlic cloves, chopped (yes, this recipe is for garlic lovers only!)
  • 1 bunch cilantro - stems only, chopped
  • 2 bunches broccoli, chopped
  • 2 T coconut aminos

Curry Chicken Satay Directions:
  1. Mix all ingredients in a glass bowl and let sit for at least 30 minutes.
  2. While chicken marinades, soak wooden skewers in water to prevent burning.
  3. Put chicken on skewers and grill until done. I use leftover marinade to baste the chicken during the first few minutes of cooking.
 Garlic Broccoli Directions:
  1. Heat oil in a wok or pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add garlic and cilantro stems and fry until golden brown.
  3. Add broccoli and stir well to distribute the oil, garlic, and cilantro throughout. Fry 3 to 5 minutes or until broccoli begins to soften.
  4. Add coconut aminos. This should slightly steam the broccoli.
  5. Remove from heat when broccoli reaches a desired tenderness.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cilantro-Lime Grilled Chicken

One of the toughest challenges I find trying to cook healthy is when I'm visiting family and am out of my own kitchen. Over the weekend we were headed to a cookout, so I took a family trick of dumping a jar of salad dressing over a bag of frozen chicken and made my own version from what I could find in the fridge. When I first tasted the mix I had some doubts, but after marinating and cooking it turned out fantastic!

Cilantro-Lime Grilled Chicken
Juice of 2 limes
large handful cilantro, chopped fine
small bunch of basil, chopped fine. (10-12 leaves)
½ red onion - chopped fine
olive oil (same amount as the juice you got from your limes.)
½ teaspoon (or more) ground cumin
I finely diced hot chili. (jalapeno, Serrano, ect… I used a Hungarian wax pepper from my dad’s garden and left the seeds in.)
S&P to taste.
Chicken breasts or tenderloins to serve 4 (usually I get free-range chickens from the Saturday market down the street - but in a pinch I'm willing to use frozen!)
Mix all ingredients and marinate at least 30 mins, or until chicken is thawed. Remove chicken from marinade and grill. While chicken is grilling, boil down the remaining marinade until liquid is almost gone and the mixture is like a chutney. (If that bothers you, then absolutely make extra to boil down, the taste was worth the effort.)
I served the chicken with avocado slices, the reduced marinade, and a side salad. I asked for criticism to help me out, but all I got were rave reviews!