Thursday, June 13, 2013

Progress and Yumminess!

I'm proud to say that I'm making some more progress with my knee. I can walk, rather slowly, sans crutches and immobilizing brace. I can bend it close to 90 degrees with very little pain. I can also lift my leg up onto one of the steps on my staircase; however, I'm not able to bear my full weight on that leg to actually take the step up. Considering the fact that I couldn't lift my leg last week, this is huge! I even had enough stamina to make it to the Public Market this past weekend.

Seeing as this was the first chance I had to walk around the Market (and not have to rely on Justin), I made it a point to stock up on meats from my fave farmers, Seven Bridges. I managed to come away with a treasure trove of goodies for my culinary adventures this week. One of these goodies is a bit of meat that many Americans may not venture to try to make. (No, it's NOT organ meat... While I love the stuff, I'm going to spare you guys this week.) I give you:

Pressure Cooker Braised Oxtails

  • grass fed butter or coconut oil
  • 2 oxtails, trimmed and cut into 2" pieces
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 5-6 carrots, cut into large chunks
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 oz collard greens, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 14.5 oz can tomatoes
  • 1- 1 1/2 cups broth (all I had was veggie stock, but bone broth would do too)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 tsp rubbed sage
  • 1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (I'm guessing on this... I just wanted to add some acid to brighten the dish.)
  • red chili flakes, to taste
  • salt/pepper, to taste
  • Heat a pressure cooker over medium high heat. Add some butter or coconut oil. Add the oxtails and cook until browned. You may need to do this in two batches. Remove the meat and set it aside.
  • Add a little more butter or coconut oil, if need. Toss in the carrots and cook for a few minutes. Add in the onions and cook until softened. Add garlic, cook for another minute or so.
  • Add the collard greens and stir them into the mix until wilted.
  • Return oxtail pieces to pressure cooker. Add bay leaf, thyme, sage, broth, tomatoes, salt, pepper, chili flakes and balsamic vinegar. Put the lid on and bring it to high pressure. Reduce the temperature enough to maintain high pressure and cook for 40-45 minutes. Use the quick release method to release the pressure.
  • Open the lid, remove the bay leaf, taste and adjust seasonings.
  • Serve over roasted spaghetti, zucchini noodles, kelp noodles or pasta.
Can I just say how much I love oxtails?! They're such an underrated cut of meat! This recipe highlights just how yummy they are. The oxtails little fatty and a little cumbersome to eat. But... I think it's fun to suck the meat off the bones. (I just treat them like the beefy version of chicken wings. You could also cut the meat off of the bones. The pressure cooker makes it so that it's tender and pretty much falls off by itself.) The carrots are sweet and delicious. The collards are slightly bitter and the balsamic creates a wonderful brightness. I served this all over some roasted spaghetti squash. All in all, fantastic!

For those of you scared to try oxtails, don't be! They're great and their cheap! If you want to try this and don't have a pressure cooker, you could brown the meat and the add everything to a slow cooker. Set it on low and cook for 8-10 hours.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Homemade Barbecue

I was all bummed out last week as I found out that I'm going to need surgery to repair the partially torn ligament on the side of my knee and to reconstruct the cartilage under the kneecap. I also found out that in order to have said surgery, I need to do physical therapy to the point where I can ride a stationary bike. While I am happy that I have and answer to my knee issue and know that there's a solution, the whole having to wait and go through some rather unpleasant pre-surgery rehab is not exactly my idea of fun.

In addition to this news, my laptop randomly died on me. I tried ordering a new hard drive and replacing the one I had. That didn't work. I brought it to the Apple store and discovered that the cable connecting the hard drive to the logic board needed to be replaced. It was and order was once again restored to the universe. (I've realized just how attached I've become to my laptop when I have to spend a week without it...)

These two incidents, coupled with the lack of my usual physical activity and less than stellar sleep, have made me start to stress eat, crave sugary foods, and consume slightly more alcohol than I'd normally go for. Not cool. I decided that I was going to start another round of the 21 Day Sugar Detox, starting June 3rd, to bash my recent sugar sweet binge and get back on track.

I started thinking about my detox over the weekend when I was craving some barbecue. Justin and I picked up some ribs from Wegmans and went to check out the pre-made sauces. After reading the label on every different brand, I realized that they all contained some sort of sugar and that the only way I'd be able to get a good sauce was to make it myself. I then started searching high and low on the interwebs for a sugar free sauce and couldn't really find one. I did, however, find a tasty sounding one that only contained pineapple and decided that I could probably adapt it to be detox compliant.

21 Day Sugar Detox BBQ Ribs

  • 3-4 pounds pork ribs

Dry Rub:
  • 1 tbsp each of salt
  • 1 tbsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tsp each of cayenne
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
BBQ Sauce:
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 6 ounce can of tomato paste
  • 1 cup bone broth
  • 2 tbsp sugar free, spicy brown mustard
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped (I know you're only supposed to eat 1 per day, but you don't use that much sauce on these ribs... Just a little slather towards the end. Plus, this is for multiple people/servings.)
  • Combine all of the dry rub ingredients in a small bowl. Wipe off the ribs and massage the spice mix onto them. Place the seasoned ribs onto the tin foil. Tear off another sheet of tin foil and lay this over the top of the ribs. Tightly crimp the edges of the two sheets of foil together to create a seal. Stick the baking sheet in the fridge to let the ribs marinate for a half an hour or more (you could probably let them sit overnight).
  • When you're ready to cook the ribs, preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Throw in the meat and let it cook for 2 1/2 - 3 hours, turning occasionally. The meat should be shrinking away from the bones.
  • In the meantime, you can make the sauce. Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a sauce pot or dutch oven, over medium heat. Bring this up to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for an hour. Take the pot off the heat. Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. (Alternately, you could puree this in batches in a regular blender.) Keep the sauce warm until you're ready to use it or store in a container for later use.
  • Once the ribs are done, take them out of the oven. Set your oven to broil and move the rack to 4-6 inches from the heating element. Let the ribs rest for 10 minutes. Open up the foil and slather on a little of the barbecue sauce onto the ribs. Place them back in the oven and broil for 2 minutes. Flip the ribs over, brush them with a little more sauce and broil for another 2 minutes. Take the ribs out and serve with your favorite side.
  • Enjoy!
(Mmmm... Barbecue sauce...)

I used the recipe from the Paleo Cupboard as the basis for the dry rub and cooking technique for the ribs (I haven't spent a ton of time on her site, but from what I've seen, she's totally legit). The sauce recipe was modified slightly from the Civilized Caveman (I LOVE his website!! The man is a genius when it comes to creating delicious recipes. Seriously... check him out!)

This recipe turned out absolutely FANTASTIC!! The meat was so tender, it just fell off the bones! They had just the right amount of heat from the cayenne and just a hint of sweetness from the apples. I honestly used to be scared of trying to cook ribs in the oven and left it up to places like Dinosaur BBQ. Not anymore! These are going to become a new staple in my house.

Try these out and you'll be completely satisfied!