Category Archives: Uncategorized

Listen to The Witch!

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In my pantry today:

  • 5-6 c mixed greens (collards, turnip, mustard, kale)
  • 7 oz kielbasa, diced
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 2 c chicken/bone broth
  • 1/4 c minced garlic
  • 1/3 c minced onion
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • dash asafoetida
  • salt to taste

Not only did I have a taste for greens this week, having that craving deposited in my peripheral conscious a continual loop of the Witch’s “Beans Rap” from Into the Woods:

My wife was recently The Witch in a production of Into the Woods, and is the reason I have been so sorely Sondheimed.

Greens, greens, and nothing but greens:
Parsley, peppers, cabbages and celery,
Asparagus and watercress and
Fiddleferns and lettuce–!

Luckily, this is an easy craving to fix. Start with your sausage (or preferred meat) in a cold stock pot heating to M. You can cut this up however you like to have it go into your mouth; I cut mine into 1/2″ chunks.

As the pan and its contents heat, scrape the pan periodically to keep the brown flavors free. Once the outsides of your [chunks, bits, balls, or logs] are brown, remove into a bowl and set aside. Making sure you’ve locked in some of the flavor and texture  here is key — you want what’s in there to keep seeping flavor once it goes back into the pot.

Untitled-2Turn heat to ML and add your oil, garlic, and onions. Add turmeric as they begin to succumb to the heat, then Paprika to cheer everyone back up.

Start folding in your greens so that everything gets coated in oil. If it’s a messy prospect, start adding your broth slowly to even the playing field. Turn heat back up to M, make sure all the broth is in there then cover the pot.

mealAfter 5 minutes, check and stir. Repeat this process until everything is wilted but remains green. Add sausage back, stir in asafoetida, reduce heat to L and walk away. The longer it cooks, the more flavorful it gets. It was great yesterday, and even better as lunch this afternoon. Serve with rice if’n you need something to sop up the broth.

What I did wrong:

  • Kielbasa is straight up processed food and I could’ve chosen better which animals to invite to this party.

What I did right:

  • Greens!
  • Remembered the fart powder this time (asafoetida: the friend of every married couple at bedtime)

I’d be remiss not to close with this stunning photo of my beautiful wife as the sinister witch. You’re welcome honey!

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Photo by Kara DeFelice Pound

“Spaghetti” and Meatballs

IMG_20150708_201708329In My Pantry:

  • 5 L vine-ripe beefsteak (or like) tomatoes
  • 1-2 c canned crushed tomatoes
  • 3-4 TBSP minced garlic
  • 1/4-1/3 c olive oil
  • 1/4 c minced fresh basil
  • 8 oz grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 cage-free egg
  • 1/4 c ground flax
  • 1 TBSP minced garlic
  • 1 TBSP minced fresh basil
  • 2 L zucchini in the form of noodles
  • pinch sea salt

I don’t think I’m fooling anyone with quotation marks around “spaghetti;” we all know that those four apostrophes are a not-so-secret translation for the less appetizing announcement of “WARNING: VEGETABLES.”

Because a good marinara is the goal with, well, any marinara, start 4 T minced garlic out in 1/3 c olive oil on M heat in a wide pot or deep pan. In one minute, turn the heat to L and walk away. Does the idea of using that much olive oil give you pause? Shush those concerns — olive oil is a good fat, and you’re having no-carb noodles.

Mix your second five ingredients and put it in the fridge to ruminate for 10-20m before its transformation into many small balls.

Boil water in a large stock pot. Have a big bowl of ice water handy. Once bubbles appear, gently drop in your beautiful, meaty tomatoes. Watch for the skins to split — as soon as a tomato appears to be getting undressed, shut down its party with a full ice bath. Remove the skins and dice the flesh; set aside.

meatballsOh, don’t forget to turn your zucchini into noodles and set in a colander; refrigerate (we’ll get back to those).

Ok, now you can regard your garlic. Toss lots of basil into the pan; stir. Turn heat up to M, and before garlic begins to brown, fold in tomatoes. Let them cook over M for a minute or two, then add crushed tomatoes. Stir everything while it returns to a kind boil, then reduce the heat to ML and let it continue to simmer.

Preheat the oven to 350° and line a deep pan with foil or parchment paper. Take your meat out of the fridge and make slightly-smaller-than-golf balls and line them on the pan. Bake for 15m, then remove and transfer into sauce. Stir everything and let the sauce continue to simmer for as long as you can take it (the more patient you are, the better it’ll be).

IMG_20150708_201058591_HDR-(1)When dinnertime approaches, preheat a large pan over M. When it gets hot, drop in a tsp of olive oil, your noodles, and a dash of salt. Stir-fry until as warm and as cooked as you’d like, then serve slathered in saucy balls.

  • What I did right: No-carb pasta, grass-fed beef, cage-free eggs, fresh basil
  • What I did wrong: I did sprinkle a little Parmesan cheese on the final product because I’m nobody’s hero.

“Rice” Bowls with Chicken and Slawcamole

IMG_20150630_201050785_HDRIn my pantry:

  • 1 L boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 M head cauliflower (3-4c processed to “rice”)
  • 3 c shredded cabbage
  • 1 M avocado
  • 1.5 c sliced onion (+1 TBSP minced)
  • 2 TBSP frozen corn kernals
  • .5 c yellow bell pepper, sliced thin
  • 4-6 cloves garlic
  • 1 S-M jalapeno, minced
  • 1/2-1 c cilantro
  • 1/2 c diced tomatoes
  • 1/2-1 c chicken stock
  • 1.5 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 lime
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • chili powder, cumin, paprika to taste
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • pinch asafoetida
  • sea salt to taste

Let’s begin with the Slawcamole (thusly named because it is as though coleslaw and guacamole got together and had the most deliciou… er, beautiful baby). Avocados are a good fat, and Cabbage is a cruciferous king — together with fresh garlic, cilantro, jalapeno, and lime, they create the ultimate in gastric royalty. I wobbled gleefully on that fine line between mincing and slicing for this: reassure yourself that there’s no wrong way to cut the cabbage. Set aside.

Untitled-2In a food processor, throw in the innards of one avocado, 2-3 cloves of garlic (depending on their size; ultimately you want what will be the equivalent of about a TBSP of minced garlic), 1/4c cilantro (stems are fine), about 1 TBSP of minced jalapeno, the juice of 1/2 a lime, a tiny dash of asafoetida, and a sprinkle of sea salt. Puree that mess then fold it in with the cabbage. Cover and refrigerate until 10-15m before dinner.

Cut up your chicken and mix the pieces with cumin, chili powder, and paprika. Refrigerate.

Wash the food processor then turn your cauliflower into 3-4 c of “rice.” Set aside.

In a M-L pan, brown 4 tsp minced garlic, 1 TBSP each minced onion and jalapeno over ML heat for 5 minutes, then dial the stove to M and add cumin, chili powder, turmeric, paprika, and asafoetida. After about 30 seconds, add the tomatoes and cook for another minute or so. Add “rice” and stock; bring to a low boil, toss in corn, then reduce heat to L, cover and plan to eat when the texture becomes pleasing.

IMG_20150630_200441933_HDR-(1)You’ll still have time to brown those slices of onion and bell bell pepper over MH heat for 2-3 minutes, then mix in some balsamic vinegar, a sprinkle of salt, and cover the pan. Wait another minute then turn off the burner and let it rest while you cook the chicken.

Raw to Cooked

Raw to Cooked

Last but not least, sear the little chunks of chicken in 2 tsp olive oil over MH-heat. When solid on all sides, throw 1 TBSP of stock into the pan, cover, turn off the stove but leave the pan on the burner.

It’s at this point that you can wait for dinner, or pull the slaw out of the fridge if you’ll be ready to chow down in 10 minutes. You can certainly serve each dish individually, but you’ll find nothing unappetizing about these flavors were they to mingle in a single bowl.

  • What I did right: Cauliflower instead of rice cuts carbs, adds phytonutrients / Included many different types of produce in one meal
  • What I did wrong: Bone broth would have been better than regular stock / Not everything is organic in my recipe, but you don’t have to make the same mistake

Cauliflower to the Stage!

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In my pantry today:

  • 1 M head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1.5 c frozen peas
  • 4 cloves garlic, chunked
  • 1 M-L red onion, chunked
  • 1 M-L jalapeno, chunked w/seeds
  • 1.5 c parsley w/stems
  • 1/2 c cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1.5 c chicken broth (bone broth if’n you got it)
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1.5 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 cumin
  • dash asafoetida

I was in the mood for Indian. Specifically, cauliflower and peas. If I wanted this meal to be culturally relevant, it’d be served over rice and/or with naan… but, y’know, carbs. Thankfully cauliflower is a too open-minded piece of produce to let this be a delicious pipe dream: it will star in the show both playing itself, and in the role of rice.

garliconionjalFirst thing: Haphazardly dice garlic, onion, and jalapeno. Don’t hurt yourself, but enjoy knowing that it doesn’t matter how pretty these look before heading into a food processor. Put them in the pan with both oils, turn heat up to M for 10m then reduce to ML. Add parsley, mix. Let them mingle until translucency happens.

caulTake your cauliflower florets to the food processor first. In small batches, pulse only enough to break it up into near-rice consistency. Pour it all into a bowl and set aside.

Return to the pan, increase heat to M and add your spices. Coat everything and let it cook for about a minute. Turn off heat, let the pan cool for a minute then throw it all in the food processor until all that remains is a wet paste. Return it to the pan, add diced cherry tomatoes, broth, and peas. Bring to boil over M then reduce heat to L. Stir in cauliflower. Bring it back up to ML while you fold it all together, then when it returns to a simmer cover and turn to L. Walk away for 15-20m, then come back and… CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE:

  • Turn off the stove and let it sit for the day in its own warm mess until dinner
  • Turn the heat back up to M until your desired consistency is reached, serve
  • Turn off stove for an hour. Decide you’re hungry, cook a quick chicken breast and have dinner for lunch.

Untitled-2This ended up being better than I’d initially hoped, with all the right levels of spice (for me: if you’re generally a wimp, check your jalapeno seeds at the door). I couldn’t wait until the dinner hour to eat a hearty portion.

What I did right: Cauliflower as its own rice means more phytonutrients and less sugar. I’m always happy to include turmeric and coconut oil in any reasonable fashion, and hiding parsley was a win-win.

What I did wrong: Forgot to marinate a chicken breast in advance, thinking “since this is for later I’ll wait on choosing/cooking a protein.”

What I might do next time: Pulse the cauliflower even more lightly so it’s chunkier. Add a little chili powder and/or fenugreek.

Meatless Monday*

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Zucchini noodles w/ garlic, baby tomatoes, and spinach topped with garlic-Parmesan tofu

In my pantry today:

  • 2 M zucchini
  • 2 c cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1.5 c fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 block extra firm tofu, pressed and cubed
  • 1/3 c minced garlic
  • 1/2 c olive oil
  • 1/2 c vegetable broth
  • 1/2 tsp. Tamari
  • 1/2-3/4c Parmesan-Romano-Asiago blend
  • 1 tsp dried basil (fresh would’ve been preferable)
  • cracked black pepper to taste

First thing’s first: marinate that tofu for at least 15m in the vegetable broth, Tamari, a little pepper, and 1-2 tbsp of minced garlic. Stick it back in the fridge and assure it that patience is a virtue.

Vegetti.slicer

At first I lolled, then I loved.

Turn a large pan onto ML, add 2/3 of your oil and put the remaining garlic in with your tomatoes; they’ll get the party started. Go ahead and throw in the basil while everyone’s mingling.

Next, use your Vegetti to entice noodles from your zucchini. Let them sit in a drainer for a few minutes in case they happen to be of the soppier squash ilk. This gives everyone else a few more minutes to get to know one another. Heck, add some pepper: this is a par-tay.

If it’s been at least 15 minutes (or up to 30), you can heat the rest of your oil in another small pan over M. Once heat is achieved in earnest, add your tofu chunks one by one (so as not to get any liquid in the pan). After a minute or three, flip each piece to brown the opposite side. If you hate the simpering white sides for staring at you, rotate the pieces onto every flat surface available… I like to do this for as long as I can stand being over a hot stove, but there’s not real right or wrong here: your tofu can technically be eaten raw.

While the tofu cooks, turn the other pan up to M and add spinach. When that starts to wilt, add zucchini noodles and toss until well coated (about a minute). Cover pan and turn to L, let everything sit for 5 minutes.

When the tofu pieces are mottled brown on all the sides you desire, put them in a dish and toss with the cheese blend until well-coated. Serve on top of “noodles.” Feeds 2 more than adequately.

  • What I did right: gluten-free, vegetable heavy, no carbs, good fats (olive oil), no additional salt on the vegetables, cooked tofu even my wife wanted more of
  • What I did wrong: cheese is a no-no, and tofu isn’t far behind it (it is at least organic/GMO-free). I’d prefer to eat vegetarian all the time, but animal protein is too important a part of this diet — most nights, there’ll be something’s baby on a plate.
  • What I might do next time: Add a little turmeric to the olive oil and tomatoes; serve with chicken

*I actually made this last night, but since today is Monday…

Dinner for pesTwo

In my pantry today:

  • 2 c [spinach or chopped fresh broccoli, stems ‘n all]
  • 1/2 c walnut halves/pieces
  • 1/2 c Parmesan cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 c olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

spinachpestoIt’s probably a lot easier than you might’ve imagined (if you haven’t been doing it all the time anyway) to make an excellent pesto.

Those ingredients up there?

Throw them all in the food processor and turn it on.

Toss with your choice of pasta, chicken or fish.  Above is actually the spinach pesto tossed with linguine and some steamed broccoli florets. Last night we got home from an afternoon of errands and were too tired to make a big fuss. I was able to get the pesto ready by the time our box of mini-pierogies were done.  My wife drained them and handed me back the empty, still-fuming pot. I spooned inabout half the food processor’s aromatic goods and smeared it around to heat/loosen it up (feel free to add an extra dollop of oil if you find it too stiff).

broccoli-pesto

broccoli pesto on mini-pierogies

Then, with the pasta: drain the linguine while al dente, and put it back into pot; mix. With the pierogies, we just spooned the broccoli pesto atop their delicate, easily-offended skins.

This new addition to my current recipe lexicon gets 5 spoons with applause for being so easy, delicious and full of protein/good fats and phytonutrients. Tonight I’m using the other half of last night’s broccoli pesto — the other half of the food processor’s insides never seem to make it to the freezer.

Spicy Peanut Stew

In my pantry today:

  • 1 lg sweet potato in 1-2″ chunks
  • 1 14 oz can black beans
  • 1 tbsp grapeseed oil (Olive is totes fine too)
  • 1 c minced onion
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 celery stalk in 1/2″-1″ bits
  • 3/4 c frozen corn
  • 1/2 c minced kale
  • 1/2 c creamy peanut butter
  • 1 14 oz can diced/crushed tomatoes w/ green chile
  • 1-2 c vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • dash of asafoetida

peanut-stewIt’s a strange winter that’s seen a lot of beautiful spring days and a few notably polar ones. If it’s going to be cold any particular evening, a soup or stew is what to have on the stove. Not to get all June Cleaver on y’alls tails, but I love knowing something will be ready the minute my darling returns from a long day of work. Stews’ll let you have that. Tonight I’m trying a West African-inspired peanut stew that made friends with the inside of my cupboard.

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RIP, Barbara Billingsly

When your oil in a large pot reaches the high side of medium-low, add your seasonings to the oil and mix it into a paste. Then mix in the kale onion, garlic and celery. Let that cook for 5-10 minutes, and upon your return add the tomatoes peanut butter, stirring it in until smooth. Add the can of beans (liquid ‘n all) and as much broth as your taste permits. Put diced sweet potato in pot and let it come to a leisurely boil on M before covering it, turning the burner to L and walking away until your sweet potatoes are tender (At least 45 minutes).

This is a gluten-free and vegan recipe, but… wait, come back! You didn’t let me finish.

This is a gluten-free and vegan recipe, but use chicken instead of vegetable broth or, heck, add actual chicken and you’ve got an inarguably good dinner at 5 spoons.

TNP, vol. IV(egan) – Pumpkin Stew

  • 1 c mashed pumpkin, chunky
  • 1 can lentil soup
  • 2 c cherry tomatoes
  • 3-4 L kale leaves or 1/2 c blanched/squeezed
  • 1.5 c vegetable broth
  • 4 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 M onion, diced
  • 1 S-M jalapeno, diced (with seeds)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp rock salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

pumpkin-lentil-stewI know what you’re thinking — “you have an 11lb pumpkin’s worth of pumpkin and all you can do is puss out with soups?” And for that I’ve got three responses:

  1. A stew is an entirely different animal than a soup. Well, not entirely. It’s just much more about the solids than the liquid.
  2. I also made pumpkin oatmeal, which is a good step above soup.
  3. Be gentle; this is my first pumpkin.

Preheat oven to 425. Start your garlic and onions on ML in the coconut and 3 tbsp olive oil. While they become friends go ahead and blanch your kale and ready those cherry tomatoes (I wasn’t planning on using them but by Thor’s Hammer I was not about to let them get a day wrinklier on the counter). Toss cherry tomatoes with 1 tsp olive oil and place in a baking pan. Sprinkle with sea salt and put in the oven for 20m, or until their skins begin to split.

While those roast, go back to the pan and turn heat to M. When hot, add spices and jalapeno and stir for no longer than 1 minute. Add pumpkin; mix. Add lentil soup and kale, mix gently until hot. When done add the tomatoes to the pot and serve. I did a pretty good job covering up that inside-of-an-aluminum-can taste that no soup on a grocery store shelf can hide… even with a little processed food in its foundation, this stew gets 5 spoons! The chunky pumpkin is an excellent stand-in for the potatoes usually found in this recipe and the cherry tomatoes provide an unexpectedly flavorful bite. Make sure, however, to look for a low-sodium can of soup to offset that sea salt.

There is still 1/2 c puree in the fridge, and a quart of cubes in the freezer… something else will have to be made. I will continue to sally forth, roughly handling gourds wherever I go.

TNP, vol. III – Chicken-Coconut Soup w/ Pumpkin & Penne

In my pantry today:

  • 1 12oz can coconut milk
  • 3 c broth of roasted chicken carcass
  • 2 c meat of aforementioned carcass
  • 3 c pumpkin in 2″ cubes
  • 1 c penne pasta, cooked to al dente
  • 1/4 c cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 c roasted pumpkin seeds

coconutchickensoupThe wonderful thing about having a whole, roasted animal in the house is that the meal-yield (say that five times fast) is better than above board. With all of the seasonings had by our bird, adding anything more would have been an irrelevant waste of good spices.

Combine broth and coconut milk, and bring to a near-rolling boil. Add pumpkin and reduce heat to L until fork-tender. Add penne and chicken in; stir until warm. Serve garnished with cilantro and seeds. Then eat the seeds first, because they ended up being pretty for presentation but quickly became unhappily chewy. Other than that learning experience, this gets 5 spoons!

TNP, vol. II – Loaded Baked Punk-tato Soup

In my pantry today:

  • 2-3 c 2″ pumpkin cubes
  • 4 medium Russet potatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp minced onion
  • 1 tbsp bacon grease
  • 3 slices thick-cut bacon
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1-3 c chicken broth (depending on how “soupy” you want it)
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • dash asafoetida
  • 1/4 c shredded muenster cheese
pumptatoandbaconsoup

Is it cold where you live, and do you care about bacon?

Boil all of your pumpkin and potato (I leave potato skins on since there’s more nutrients in the skin than there is in the rest of the tater) in as much tandem as possible with cooking your bacon. When your bacon comes out of the oven, set the strips aside to cool on a paper towel and immediately spoon a tbsp of the pan drippings into the pot which where our finished product will ultimately live. In fact, the garlic and onions are already at the place!

Start with ML for 5m, then reduce to L after a minute or two. Stir in turmeric, pepper, salt and asafoetida Let it simmer another minute or five while you ready your handy food processor. The potatoes/pumpkin should both be from fork- to falling-apart tender, and should turn easily into a uniform mash; transfer from food processor to soup pot. Mix in nutritional yeast. Stir in broth until the soup is the consistency you like.

For serving: Crumble bacon on top of dish and sprinkle with muenster cheese. 5 spoons and a big thank you to pumpkins everywhere!