Monday, February 25, 2013

Super Soup!

This past Saturday, I picked some interesting chicken parts from my oh so favorite Seven Bridges Farms. I discovered that if I asked ahead of time, they'll get some of the innards that aren't always used and sell them for pretty cheap. By 'innards' I mean the gizzards, livers, hearts, necks and feet. Yes, I said feet! (I know they're not technically an innard, but chicken feet are pretty odd... and scary looking... like some sort of zombie, franken-feet...)

I only ended up buying the feet, livers and gizzards. The livers were saved to make some fried chicken livers, which, by the way, turned out to be a complete fail! It's not the flavor of the liver that's the problem. I'm not so good at frying foods...

Anyhoo, I did some research and found out that chicken feet make the best stock. I took my franken-feet and used my fave bone broth recipe to create just that. I then used the sauce to make a fantastic soup with the gizzards and stew beef.

Pressure Cooker Gizzard and Beef Soup

  • coconut oil
  • 1 lb chicken gizzards, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 lb stew beef
  • 3-4 cups spinach, roughly chopped
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 4 stalk celery, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 5-6 cups homemade broth
  • salt/pepper, to taste
  • Heat coconut oil in a pressure cooker over medium-high heat. Add the beef and gizzards and cook until browned. Remove and set aside.
  • Add a little more coconut oil to the pressure cooker, if necessary. Add the onions, carrots and celery, and cook until softened (3-5 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  • Add the broth, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, rosemary, parsley and a some salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and add the browned meat. Put the lid on the pressure cooker and increase the heat to high. Wait until the cooker comes to high pressure, then turn down the heat to the lowest possible setting to maintain high pressure. Cook for 25 minutes. Remove from heat. Turn the pressure valve to release the steam.
  • Take the lid off and remove the bay leaves, cinnamon stick and rosemary sprigs (the leaves should have fallen off). Move the pot back to medium heat. Add the spinach and let cook until wilted. Taste, adjust the seasonings.
  • Enjoy!
The beef and gizzards end up nice and tender. There's no real funk to the soup that you might expect. It's beautifully seasoned and a wonderfully herby/warm.  Fear not the weirdness that is the chicken gizzard! 

Tip: I must say that if you have the time, try making your own stock. When you hear people say that you should have some chicken noodle soup or chicken broth to help you feel better, they don't mean getting some canned stuff. You'll get the most benefit from making it yourself! Save the bones from rotisserie chickens, beef bones or go out and get some chicken feet. An easy recipe is to take the bones, some salt, a little apple cider vinegar, black peppercorns and a couple bay leaves, and throw them into a crock pot. Pour in enough water to just cover the bones. Cook on low for 24 hours. Strain the spices, bay leaves and bones from the broth. Voila! Homemade Stock! 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Home Cooking My Way

Throughout theses past few weeks, I feel as though I've been cooking up a storm! I think the last time Justin and I went out for a meal was we were together with his family at the start of February. It's become a little difficult to find a place to dine out when you've become as strict as I have with my diet. Yet, I'm still treating this as a learning experience and am soldiering on!

I've decided to try a take on a home-cooked classic for this weeks post: meatloaf. I will admit that my version is a little different than what you'd expect. I have been experimenting with adding more organ meats into my diet and this recipe has some in it... Don't run away or give that disgusted face. Flavor-wise, you'll hardly notice it's there.

Mighty Meatloaf!

I used this recipe, from the Paleo Mom, as the basis for my liver loaf. Sarah's website is an absolute treasure trove of information on the Paleo diet (especially one with an auto-immune slant)! I urge everyone to take a look there.

  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 1/2 lbs liver
  • 1 bag chopped mirepoix, from Wegmans (I was being lazy, you could also just chop up some onions, carrots and celery.)
  • 2-3 tbsp lard or coconut oil
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 1/2 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 Tbsp fresh chives
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • 2 tbsp coconut aminos
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Heat lard (or coconut oil) in a frying pan over medium high heat. Add the onion, celery and carrot and sauté until soft and starting to brown, about 8-10 minutes.
  • Grind liver in a food processor. (It'll look like pink sludge... don't worry, it's fine.)
  • Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Mix together very thoroughly with your hands. 
  • Press meat mixture into a large Loaf Pan. If you’re worried about juices spilling over, place the loaf pan on a cookie sheet or in a larger baking pan before placing in the oven.
  • Bake for 1 hour and 30-40 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.
  • Let it sit for 5-10 minutes before serving. 
This recipe turned out great! I've tried a different take on liver meatloaf, but it didn't quite turn out the same.  The ground beef adds a nice balance to the unctuousness that liver can sometimes have. All the herbs help to mask the flavor a little and the molasses brings a nice sweetness. I served mine up with some collard greens cooked with hame ends. All in all... tasty!

I know, I know... this isn't exactly a classic meatloaf.  Just give it a try and I'm sure you'll be pleasantly surprised at how good it tastes. You get all the benefits of a nutrient dense organ meat and a yummy meal to boot!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Tea for Dinner

In the process of being on the Autoimmune Protocol, I decided to give up my beloved coffee. I've tried to quit my caffeine addiction a few times now with no real success. I think the longest I've gone without a good coffee buzz before now, is a couple weeks... I am bound and determined to make this the last time I quit the stuff! I'm allowing myself to a have a "treat" cup every once in a while, but I have to make it over a month first. 

Anyhoo, I've been doing well and have found an adequate substitute in tea. I've discovered that I love tea! Who knew? My favorite flavors right now are decaf green, rooibos (pronounced roy-bus), and camomile. I find the whole process of boiling the water and letting the tea steep to be quite relaxing and pleasant.

Along with drinking my new fave beverage, I have given much thought to how to use tea for other purposes... like cooking. I particularly felt that the rooibos would lend itself well to flavor some sort of meat dish. Yet, I was hesitant to create a new recipe using it.

This past weekend, Justin and I were watching an episode of Iron Chef in which the secret ingredient was  tea! I saw several protein/tea applications that made me realize that my original instincts were correct. If an Iron chef could create some delicious main dishes with tea, then I was going to as well. 

Rooibos Tea Chuck Roast

  • fat of choice (coconut oil/lard)
  • 1 chuck roast
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2" piece of ginger, grated
  • 3 tbsp loose leaf rooibos tea
  • 1 cup beef broth (I used bone broth)
  • a 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • salt/pepper (leave out the pepper if strict autoimmune)
  • Combine tea, garlic, salt, pepper and tea, in a small bowl to create a paste. Rub the mixture over the roast.
  • Heat fat of choice in a large pan over medium-high heat.
  • Add the roast and sear on all sides, until browned.
  • Throw the onions in the bottom of a slow cooker. Add the seared roast on top. Pour on the broth.
  • Cook on low for 8-10 hours.
  • Taste, adjust seasonings and serve with your favorite roasted veggies.
The flavor of this roast exceeded my expectations! The rooibos tea pairs really well with this hearty cut of beef. The vanilla adds just a hint of sweetness and the ginger creates a little tang. I served mine up along with a side of yummy mashed sweet potatoes. A match made in heaven! From now on, I'm going to trust my instincts and simply create!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Little Bunny in my Tummy!

It's been a little while since I've written last. I've been doing ok on my Auto-immune protocol, albeit with a good sized slip-up. It apparently never occurred to me that in cutting out seeds from my diet that I'd have to cut out seed based spices as well.  Aka, cumin, coriander and fennel.... Spices that I've been using in almost every recipe I've made over the past two weeks. This basically means that I get so start the protocol over again... No big deal. I can handle it (as I make a grimacing face...)

Anyways, this past weekend I found myself searching through Palmer's market trying to find something interesting to make for dinner. I needed to try a new meat to try to cheer myself up. I aimlessly wandered until I stumbled across a rare find indeed: RABBIT. Yup... Rabbit. Little bunny Foo Foo, hoppin' through the forrest... and right into my large dutch oven!

Rabbit and Beef Stew

(I used this recipe, from Paleo Periodical, as the basis for my stew)

  • a few slices of bacon
  • 1 rabbit, cut into pieces
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups precooked beef (I used the meat leftover from cooking neck bones for my broth. Feel free to omit this or use some other stew beef/meat)
  • salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • several medium bunches bok choy, separated by leaves
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp dry rubbed sage
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3-4 cups broth (just to cover rabbit)
  • lemon
  • Add bacon to large pot over medium-high heat and cook until crisp. Remove bacon to a plate, crumble into small pieces and set aside. 
  • Add the rabbit pieces, and brown them in the rendered bacon grease for about 4-5 minutes per side. Remove from pot and set aside on plate with bacon.
  • Add the carrots and onion to pot and sauté until onions are translucent, 5-7 minutes. 
  • Add garlic, thyme and sage, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute. 
  • Add the bok choy and cook until wilted.
  • Return rabbit and bacon to pot, add bay leaf, cooked beef and broth, just to cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cover the pot. Stew for 1 hour. 
  • Remove the rabbit pieces and pull off all of the meat. Return to the pot and heat until everything is warm.
  • Adjust salt/pepper/seasonings, if necessary. Serve in big bowls with a spritz of lemon juice and enjoy!
I'll admit that I was a bit apprehensive about what to expect taste-wise. I never thought that I would ever see the day when I'd cook up one of these little furry guys (whose meat, by the way, is really affordable... $2.99/lb). Upon tasting of the stew, I was pleasantly surprised. Rabbit tastes great! It's not too gamey and really tastes more like chicken. The sage and thyme lend themselves very well to the flavor profile.

I can now officially say I've eaten rabbit... and enjoyed it! You can too... so don't be afraid and try some yummy bunny today!