Sunday, October 28, 2012

Jamaican Me Crazy Plate

It's a dreary Sunday afternoon here in Rochester. After an eventful morning helping my Mom move all of my Grandmother's furniture, Justin and I are attempting to relax and catch up on some quality horror flicks. (I have a serious addiction to the Horror genre; though I particularly fancy the old school cult classics and foreign varieties. The Italians and Asians are the BEST at doing the whole visually intense, creepy stuff!)

Anyways, our slothfulness creates an intense craving for some sloppy comfort food. Generally, that means a 'Garbage Plate' (or some form of it) is in our future. Thinking of that oh so delicious combo of hot dog/hamburger and meat sauce over fries and mac salad makes my mouth water! Alas, I have not had a true plate in quite some time... I can get close, but being Paleo means cutting the mac salad and fries. The easiest way for Justin and I to get this magical feast is make it ourselves and Paleo-fy it. Enter the:

Jamaican Curry Garbage Plate

  • 4 hot dogs, cut into rings
  • leftover Jamaican Beef Curry
  • spaghetti squash, roasted and 'shredded'
  • 1 large bunch kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • lime
  • cilantro
  • coconut oil
  • salt/pepper, to taste
  • hot sauce, to taste
  • dill relish (optional, I know it seems weird on this dish... but it works!)

  • Heat a little more coconut oil in a pot over medium high heat. Add the hot dog rings and cook until they brown. Set aside. Add the leftover curry to the same pot and let it heat up. Add the browned hot dogs, reduce the heat and keep warm. 
  • Meanwhile, heat coconut oil in a large skillet, over medium high heat. Add the minced garlic and cook for about a minute, being careful not to let it burn. Add the kale and stir, until the leaves wilt. Add the apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper, and let cook for another few minutes, until the kale is tender.
  • While waiting, pop the pre-roasted and shredded spaghetti squash in the microwave and heat until warm.
  • To assemble: divy the squash up the halves of 2 plates. Divy the kale up on the other halves of the plates. 

  • Pour the curry/hot dog mix over the squash and kale. 

  • Garnish with diced onion, hot sauce, lime juice and cilantro.
Now I know I'm taking some major creative liberties by calling this a 'Garbage Plate,' but it is a plate! It's my plate and it's delicious! 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

You Had Me at Pork Fat!

It's been another one of those crazy weekends! 

First off, I went to an all day Paleo workshop with the fabulous Diane Sanfilippo of Balanced Bites and author of Practical Paleo (which, by the way, is one of the best books I currently own) and partner Liz Wolfe of Cave Girl Eats and soon to be author. I already love listening to these two talk in their podcast on the Balanced Bites website and found their workshop to be very informative.

Secondly, I ran the oh so dreaded Mudslog! Let's just say it was a 12k full of mud, trails, mud, tough obstacles, mud, an extremely cold pond and more mud... I ended up finished with a pretty decent time, only a few minor scrapes and surprisingly clean. 
(Yay crazy running outfit! Note the lack of mud...)

Despite all of this mayhem, I managed to find some time to hearken back to the good ol' days and make something that I doubt many today ever think about. 

When you cook a meal and need to use some sort of fat to brown meat/ saute veggies, your first instinct is probably to go for some olive oil (or maybe some butter or coconut oil). I've discovered that, while olive oil is great, it's not really the best oil for the high temperature cooking. Butter and coconut oil are generally better for this method. Bacon fat (I heart bacon fat!), tallow (rendered beef fat) and schmaltz (yes, it is a real word! It just happens to be rendered chicken fat) are even better. 

While I love cooking with bacon fat and butter, my new favorite cooking fat is LARD! Hurray for rendered pig fat! (I can just hear everyone screaming, "Oh no! You can't use that! It'll clog your arteries!" Don't get too worried about saturated fats. This stuff is culinary gold!)  The only problem is that you can't just pick this stuff up at the corner grocery store. Sure some farmer's markets may carry it, but the best way to get it is to make it yourself:

Rendering Lard
(Good reference site is here)
  • pork fat (enough to fill your crock pot)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Cut the pork fat into small pieces (as small as you can cut... or better yet, grind it up!)
  • Pour the water into a crock pot. This is an important step as it will prevent the fat from burning.
  • Add the cut up (or ground) fat to the crock pot and turn the heat to low.
  • Check the crock pot after an hour or so. You'll notice that the fat has started to melt. Give everything a stir and let the whole thing continue to melt. The chunks of fat (cracklings) will continue to render their awesomeness, don't worry. 
  • The whole thing will be done when the fat has rendered down to mostly liquid and the cracklings have settled to the bottom of the crock pot. Mine took about 3 hours.
  • Ladle the cracklings/fat into a fine mesh sieve or a cheese cloth lined strainer over a bowl. From here, you can pour the liquid into glass jars and let it cool to room temperature. Cover the jars and stick 'em in the fridge. The strained liquid will be a light yellow color and will turn creamy white and thick when chilled.
  • You can take the cracklings and put them back into the crock pot and let them continue to cook on low until they get crispy (or you can toss them). The flavor of these is quite intense, but taste really good on salads! Any more liquid rendered from the cracklings can also be saved and used for cooking, but it will have a stronger porky flavor.

 (Before refrigeration)             (After refrigeration)  

Your end product should be creamy white. (I know mine ended up slightly darker. The lighting in that photo was also pretty bad!) It doesn't smell porky and has the texture of shortening. Don't be put off by the idea of cooking with this stuff! It melts beautifully, has a high smoke point and makes the BEST pie crusts!

So, my friends, be not afraid of the goodness that is lard! It's a wonderful cooking fat and is easy to make!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Curry in a Hurry!

Over the course of my recipe hoarding career, I've discovered that one of my favorite cuisines to emulate is Asian. I absolutely LOVE a good nutty/coconut curry! Simple, fast and tasty! If ever I'm having one of those days where I have a bunch of random veggies, some ground meat and am in no mood for to make anything elaborate, chances are, I'm making some sort of quick Asian curry.

With all of the above being said, today is one of those days... Had an intense Crossfit Bootcamp class this morning, shopped til I dopped (for both clothes and groceries), and am now famished! Enter:

Indonesian Ground Pork with Green Beans and Crushed Almonds

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, divided
  • 1 lb ground pastured-pork
  • 3 tbsp coconut aminos/wheat free soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 lb fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into thirds
  • 1 can coconut milk (full fat is best)
  • 2 8oz pkgs sliced mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, minced (~2 tbsp)
  • 2 tsp chile-garlic sauce
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 4 tbsp crushed dry-roasted almonds
  • lime
  • cilantro
  • Heat 1 tbsp coconut oil in wok or large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  • Add ground pork, and cook until mostly browned.
  • Add mushrooms; stir fry until softened.
  • Add green beans; stir-fry 4 minutes or until beginning to brown.
  • Add coconut milk, almond butter, garlic, chile-garlic sauce, ground cloves, 6 tbsp. coconut aminos/wheat free soy sauce; let simmer for 5-6 minutes, or until the green beans are tender.
  • Serve over cauli-rice, kelp noodles or regular rice.
  • Garnish with crushed almonds, freshly squeezed lime juice and cilantro.
The recipe was originally inspired by a dish I used to make all the time, when Justin was vegetarian (
All I did was sub in meat for the tempeh, substitute mushrooms for the water chestnuts and use coconut aminos for the soy sauce. Truth be told, I like my meat version a little better... but then again, I have a serious addiction to all things pork...

Anyhoo, this amazing curry has a smooth creamy, yet spicy, taste. The almond butter and coconut milk add some richness, while the ground gloves add that 'je ne sais quoi'. Throw in some citrusy brightness from the lime and HELLO Asian sensation for your tastebuds!

Craving some curry in a hurry? I suggest you give this baby a try!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Two for the Price of One!

Sorry everyone for going so long without a post! I've been spending the majority of my weekend trying out some new recipes with varying success:

Firstly, my attempt at creating a 'Paleo Pumpkin Walnut Semifreddo' turned out to be a flop. It has a decent flavor, but the texture is nowhere near that of what it should be. A good semifreddo should soft and light, not grainy and like an ice cube (like mine!).

Then, there's my attempt at making an 'Offal Stew' using beef liver and heart... I have no problem with the flavor and texture (I even find it to be quite tasty); however, Justin, doesn't find it as appealing. He says it's good... in small doses... I appreciate the honesty, yet feel disappointed at the same time. I know, I know... liver and heart are not for everyone. It just stinks knowing that I spent a decent amount of time and effort (and money) making the darn thing, only to have it be described as 'Just okay.'

On the plus side, I have become quite proficient at making two awesome edibles that are quickly becoming staples in our diet:

Pressure Cooker Bone Broth

(Pic taken with my beautiful swiss chard and brussel sprouts from the Public Market)

  • 1 large onion, cut into large chunks
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2.5 pounds of assorted bones (I use whatever I can get from the market, usually a mix of soup bones, neck bones,  or oxtails. A gnarly nuckle bone would also work nicely here.)
  • 8 cups of water (enough to cover the bones but not more than 2/3rd the capacity of the pressure cooker)
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • Dump the onion and garlic into the pressure cooker (make sure it’s at least 6-quarts), toss in your bones (frozen is fine), cover with water (make sure you don’t fill more than 2/3rds capacity!), add the vinegar and fish sauce.
  • Lock on the lid and turn the dial to high pressure. Place the pot on a burner set on high heat. Once the indicator pops up showing that the contents of the pot have reached high pressure, immediately decrease the temperature to the lowest possible setting to maintain high pressure (low is normally adequate).
  • Set the timer for 30 minutes (I let it go for 50 minutes if I’m cooking meaty shanks or oxtails).
  • When the timer dings, turn off the burner and remove the pot from the heat. Let the pressure release naturally (10-15 minutes).
  • Remove the lid, skim of the scum (if you desire), and strain the broth.
  • I don’t parboil the bones to decrease the scum because I’m lazy. Plus, there really isn’t that much left after you strain it.
I got this recipe from Nom Nom Paleo ( and just subbed in the onion/garlic for the leeks and carrots. (FYI, this recipe could also be done in a slow cooker. Throw everything in and let it cook low and slow for 24 hours YES, 24 HOURS! You want all that cartilage and marrow to break down and release their rich, goodness into the broth...) The broth is gelatinous, rich and wonderful! Plus, you get to eat all the leftover marrow and meat that just melts in your mouth... I just sip on some as it is and then save rest to use in soups, stews and other dishes. Definitely a keeper for anyone!


Oven Roasted Chicken

  • one 3 to 5 pound pasture-raised chicken
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 1/2 bag baby carrots
  • 2 turnips, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces 
  • ~2 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • ~ 1/2 tsp paprika
  • ~ 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • generous dash unrefined sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh bone broth (see what I mean about using it in other recipes?)
  • Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.
  • Rinse the chicken and pat it dry. 
  • Sprinkle the inside with salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika.
  • Take some of the veggies and place them inside the chicken, being sure to leave room for 1/2 of the lemon and one of the sprigs of rosemary.
  • Squeeze a little lemon juice inside the chicken and place 2 quarters inside, along with 1 sprig rosemary.
  • Truss the chicken (I used this video for help:
  • Drizzle olive oil over the chicken and sprinkle the bird generously with salt, black pepper, garlic powder and paprika.
  • Strip the remaining sprig of rosemary of it's needles and rub them onto the chicken. 
  • Place the remaining veggies into a clay baker or baking dish, place the trussed chicken on top, and add 1/2 cup bone broth to the bottom of the pan. Squeeze the juice of the remaining 2 quarters of lemon onto the chicken and throw them into the pan as well.
  • Place the chicken in the oven, covered, and roast for about three hours. 
  • Increase the heat to 375 degrees F and continue roasting for about thirty to forty-five minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and allow the bird to rest five to ten minutes before carving.
  • Serve with roasted veggies from the pan.
  • Save the chicken’s frame to make roast chicken stock.
I use this as the base recipe:, adding the lemon, rosemary, paprika and veggies. You could really use any spice/herb combos to suit your personal tastes. The thing I love is that this is so unbelievably simple and tastes so good! The chicken just falls off the bones and the veggies are amazing! You'll never want to buy one of those rotisserie chickens from the store again!

Yay getting two recipes in one post! (I'm not being lazy I swear!)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Hopeful Halloween Goodies!

I know this is a recipe blog, but I can't help sharing something with everyone that makes me excited. Now, I'm not one of those people that will enter into any random giveaway/raffle that comes my way. As a card dealer in my dad's casino gaming experience company ( ... that's right folks, shameless plug here...), I know that the odds are generally not in my favor. I never have a problem winning when I'm part of "the House" and, consequently, never having a problem losing when I'm playing against the dealer. However, despite my seeming lack of confidence, I feel that this time will be different. I've had a few things happen that should help my chances:

A.) This morning I used my awesome new Halloween mug

B.) I had a black cat cross my path this morning. Yup... walked outside my front door and a large black cat ran right in front of me... I know this usually leads to bad luck, but I'm thinking that I can use the bad mojo from the cat to negate the unluckiness I have with contests.

C.) This is a Halloween giveaway and Halloween is my FAVORITE holiday! I'm one of those people that plan my costume(s) out months in advance and will totally have my future home decked out in a way that will make any young child afraid to come ask me for candy.

With all of these things said, I think I can win this! Enter the Primal Toad giveaway:

First off, I thoroughly enjoy Primal Toad site. Secondly, the first thing on the list of goods is a squatty potty! For those not informed of said device, I suggest you go here: It's essentially a step-stool like object that allows you to maintain the proper position for easy eliminations. Fear not anyone with issues in this arena! The Squatty Potty is here to save the day! Also, the cookbooks they're giving away are totally worth it! I've been eyeing every one of these up for quite some time and am dying to try out the recipes in them. 

So for everyone out there looking to snag some new stuff, take a look at this frightfully good Halloween giveaway and take a chance!

I Heart Chicken Wings!

As the title of this post suggests, I love chicken wings... so does Justin, for that matter. They've pretty much become a once a week staple for the two of us. The only problem I have with this is that they can get get kinda pricey and places don't always make a consistently good wing (except for Dinosaur BBQ and maybe Marvin Mozzeroni's...) Because of said problem, I made it my mission to conquer the homemade, oven-fried, crispy wing. It took a while of searching... but then I stumbled upon perfect recipe:

Oven Fried Buffalo Wings

(That's right! I took that photo!)

  • 4 pounds chicken wings, cut into drumettes and flats*
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter*
  • 1 cup Frank's RedHot Sauce
  • Blue cheese dressing
  • Celery sticks
  • Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, and set a wire cooling rack inside. 
  • Carefully dry chicken wings with paper towels. Place 1/3 of wings in large bowl, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1 teaspoon salt, and toss until thoroughly and evenly coated. Place on rack, leaving slight space between each wing. Repeat with remaining two batches of wings.
  • Place the baking sheet with wings in the refrigerator and allow to rest, uncovered, at least 8 hours, and up to 18 hours.
  • Adjust the top oven rack to upper-middle position and preheat oven to 450°F. Add the chicken wings and cook for 20 minutes. Flip the wings and continue to cook until crisp and golden brown, 15 to 25 minutes longer.
  • Meanwhile, combine butter and hot sauce in small saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking until combined. Transfer wings to large bowl, add sauce, toss to thoroughly coat, and serve immediately with blue cheese dressing and celery sticks, conspicuously shunning anyone who says that real buffalo wings must be fried.
The recipe above is the original from the Serious Eats. I usually make a half recipe of this, but that's the only thing I change from this. I feel it doesn't really need tweaking 'cuz it works every time. 

  • The key for the sauce, in my opinion, is the butter. It adds some richness to the flavor of the wings that make them seem all the tastier. This being said, I splurge and use some grass-fed Kerrygold Butter (sooo tastey!) Being paleo, I'm technically not allowed to have butter; however, I'll make an exception for the good stuff. For those following a more strict diet, I'm sure leaving the butter out is fine. You could also sub in some coconut oil or coconut butter... or bacon fat (mmm... bacon...)
  • Also, I find using organic, pastured chicken wings instead of the usual grocery store brand produce a more pronounced chicken-y taste to the wings, something that Justin and I tend to prefer. (Yes, I know they're more expensive... But in all reality, these still end up being cheaper than buying wings from the local pizza shop. Plus, they taste better, have more meat on them and aren't shot full of hormones. Happy chickens = yummy wings!) 

As far as the time and effort of these... Most of this recipe involves inactive prep. I find the easiest way make these suckers, and not wanna pull all the hair out of my head, is to get the chicken in the fridge the night before. The next day, all you've really gotta do is preheat the oven and bake the wings. The sauce can be made in the microwave in a large microwave safe bowl. I usually do a 1 1/2 minutes on high, just before the wings are done. From here, you throw the wings into the sauce bowl, toss and serve. Easy peasy! 

In short... these homemade wings ROCK! They're easy, cheap and absolutely delicious!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Going Stew Crazy!

It's the first week of October and the weather has turned from a nice and warm to the typical Rochester gray and rainy. This makes me seriously crave something stew-like or smothered in some sort of gravy. I've combined these two thoughts into a hearty stew that'll knock your socks off!

Hearty Sausage and Kale Stew


  • 16 oz. italian pork sausage (I used hot sausage)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large bunch kale, shredded (or roughly chopped, if you're lazy)
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 1/2 cups beef broth (I used bone broth... chicken/beef broth will work too)
  • 1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp dried, rubbed sage
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (I ended up using a little more, as I like spicy foods)
  • salt/pepper, to taste
  • coconut oil
  • Heat the coconut oil in a large pot, or dutch oven, over medium high heat.
  • Crumble the italian sausage into the pot (If the sausage is in casings, slit them down the middle, peel away and discard). Add the peppers and onions. Cook until the sausage is browned and the onions/peppers are softened, about 10 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  • Add the coconut milk, broth and spices. Bring up to a boil. 
  • Add the kale slowly, handful by handful, stirring them in so that they wilt down and make room for more.
  • Put a lid on the pot and turn the heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the kale is tender.
  • Taste and add more salt/pepper if necessary.
  • Serve with rice, pasta, cauliflower rice, or on top of roasted root veggies (I used roasted beets and cauliflower).
The real inspiration for this recipe came from the combo of a 'Collard Greens and Chorizo' stew that I've made on several occasions and a 'Paleo Biscuits and Gravy' recipe (from The resulting dish is phenomenal! The sausage and coconut milk add a rich fattiness and the kale is tender, yet oh so good! It's spicy and savory and awesome served over some roasted veggies or even some grits. 

In sum, if you enjoy sausage and greens, you'll LOVE this recipe!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Typical Weekend Fare

I love to use my time on the weekends to make the recipes that require a little more effort and planning. This past weekend, I bought some awesome looking flank steak from my fave vendor and scored on getting more beets and cauliflower than I know what to do with (for really cheap no less!!) I took some of the flank steak and made it into homemade jerky. The rest evolved into this plate of awesomeness:

Marinated Flank Steak with a Lemon Tahini Slaw and Turmeric Roasted Beets/Cauliflower

Flank Steak Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 lb grass fed flank steak
  • 1/4 cup Bragg's Liquid Aminos
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp chipotle powder
  • 1/4 cup olive oil + a little more for the pan
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • Place all of the ingredients into a gallon sized ziploc bag, let all of the air out, seal and shake everything up. Let sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours (I let mine marinade for a full 24. Trust me, it's worth the wait!)
  • Take the meat out and let it come to room temp for 30 minutes (This step is crucial, in my opinion. Allowing the meat to come to room temp allows for a more even cooking time)
  • Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat until smoking. Pour in a little olive oil.
  • Place the steak in the hot pan and let cook 4-5 minutes per side, depending on how you prefer your steak cooked (Justin and I tend to prefer 4 minutes and have our steak more on the rare side). Remove, cover with foil and let the meat rest for 10 minutes.
Roasted Beets/Cauliflower Ingredients:
  • 1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 3 large beets, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • salt/pepper, to taste
  • good quality olive oil
  • Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spread the cauliflower and beets into a large oven-proof dish (or  two, in my case). Drizzle with olive oil and toss with all of the spices. Add salt/pepper to taste. 
  • Place dish in the oven and roast for 30-35 minutes, or until the veggies are lightly browned and tender.
 Lemon Tahini Slaw:
  • 1 bag shredded red cabbage
  • 1 cucumber shredded
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • salt/pepper, to taste
  • Toss everything in a bowl and let sit for several hours (I let mine sit overnight).
See what I mean about labor intensive? Yes, this meal requires more planning and prep... but... it results in something that tastes AMAZING! The flank steak has this intense, toasty spice profile (and is tender as any filet could be), the beets/cauliflower have a roasted earthy goodness, and the slaw adds some citrusy brightness to create the ultimate flavor combo for your palate.