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Southwest Dinner Salad

Valentine’s Day, 2010. My husband (then-boyfriend) and I were attempting to not make a huge deal out of it. And by “not trying to make a huge deal out of it,” I mean that Ross made reservations for us at one of those places where you get a five star dinner while watching a show but didn’t realize until about an hour before we were supposed to leave that the place was in San Antonio (we were in Georgetown at the time). Oops. So we ran out to dinner to a place down the road and that was that.

Southwest Salad

And I got a “Santa Fe Salad.” Funny what you remember.

Anyway, I guess it was good since this salad a part of our dinner rotation ever since. I mean, the date was good, too. Obviously. During the hard-core Paleo years, we just nixed the cheese and corn and used sliced almonds instead of tortilla strips and it was still amazing. So this is totally kosher for clean eaters. Promise.

Southwest Salad 1

My favorite protein to use for this salad is grilled chicken, but salmon (or any other fish) is really great, too. When entertaining, I’ve even made a side salad version…just a tiny one without the protein. As for dressing, you can use anything you want–the original had what was basically a spicy ranch–but I loveLOVElove this avocado dressing with a little cayenne on top.

Here’s a good tutorial for roasting your peppers.

Southwest Dinner Salad
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
  • 1 head Romaine lettuce
  • 1-2 lbs of grilled chicken or fish, can be hot or cold
  • 2-3 roasted red bell peppers, sliced (see recommendation above)
  • 2 heirloom tomatoes, diced
  • 1 large red onion, sliced
  • 1 (14 oz) can of corn kernels, rinsed and drained
  • 2-3 avocados, pitted and sliced
  • 1 c grated cheddar and jack cheese
  • a few handfuls of corn tortilla chips, crushed
  • dressing of choice (see recommendation above)
Instructions
  1. Make a nice big bed of romaine in a large bowl or on individual plates. I made 5 salads with this recipe, if that helps.
  2. Arrange the ingredients on top of the lettuce, saving the cheese and chips for garnish.
  3. Dress and serve!

 

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This Week in Summer

Florida cruisin’.

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Front porch swingin’.

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Breakfast eatin’.

GF Granola from Serendipity GF French Toast from Serendipity photo 3 copy Banana Pancakes

Seriously. So much breakfast.

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Sister’s puppy lovin’.

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Aaaaaaaand that’s about it! Funemployment is great, isn’t it?

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Bacon Banana Pancakes

Ever mixed red and white wine together? You know, just to see what would happen? Yeah, don’t. Just know I made that sacrifice for you. Moving on.

Bacon Banana Pancakes

I just finished reading The Matchmaker last week—and yes, I cried (no, BAWLED) at the end…and for about three days after. Such a good book. I even made Ross help me plan a hypothetical trip to Nantucket, which would totally not have been hypothetical if we had disposable income at the moment. *Sigh*

Bacon Banana Pancakes 2

If nothing else, people on Nantucket seem to eat fresh made gourmet food all day long. Every day. I can’t stop thinking about Box having a breakfast of cheddar scones over coffee every morning at the waterside B&B whilst courting Danbey. I have resolved to make cheddar scones and eat them on my front porch as soon as we move into the new place. Only a few more weeks…crashing with your parents not cool. And way less cool when you’re married and are, like, 30 years old.

We spent last week in Florida, though, with my in-laws. Still crashing with parents, but when you’re in Florida it’s easier to pretend you have a Bayside vacation home. So being a *vacation*, I made pancakes all week long. Obviously. The only exception being a couple of trips to Serendipity…their French Toast and Cornmeal Pancakes are beyond words.

Ever since my mom got me a jumbo bag of Namaste Foods Perfect Flour Blend from Costco, I’ve been using that. Remember that, when cooking with gluten free flours, no two are really the same so if you’re using another brand, the measurements may differ slightly. I’ve made pancakes using other brands of GF AP flour and some with my own blends with success as well, but the important thing is to add a little at a time to make sure the consistency is good.

Adapted from this recipe.

Bacon Banana Pancakes
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup GF flour blend (I use Namaste Foods Perfect Flour Blend these days)
  • 1 T baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1 c milk of choice (I used vanilla almond milk)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 2 thick slices of bacon
Instructions
  1. Cut the bacon into lardons.
  2. In a skillet over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until crisp.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the remaining ingredients into your batter.
  4. When the bacon is done, reduce heat to medium.
  5. Add the bacon AND the drippings (the drippings add the flavor and are why we don't need to add oil or butter to the batter).
  6. By ¼ to ⅓ cup-fulls, pour batter onto the hot skillet used to cook the bacon. Wait until bubbles form, then flip.
  7. Serve with maple syrup and toppings of choice!

 

 

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Cucumber Salad with Yogurt Dill Dressing

Cucumber Salad w Yogurt and Dill

What with being unemployed and all and not exactly having a place to live until August 1, hubs and I are spending a few weeks with my parents. The older we all get, I’m starting to have more and more respect for how my folks have handled life after the last kid left home 8 years ago. Dad has been 100% retired for most of it and has steadily accumulated projects and community stuff to stay busy whenever he isn’t out on the motorcycle. Motorcycle rallies–the kind with checkpoints and landmarks to find within a 24-72 hour time limit over some region of the country–are pretty much his purpose in life. Mom still works as a nurse but has managed to keep the 3, 12-hour shifts a week for over a decade. I can only hope I’ll be so lucky. She’s been a gardener her whole life but when kids came along and life got busy we didn’t have much besides the flower beds and a few vegetable patches, but the garden beds have multiplied in the last few years to include everything from cucumbers and squashes, corn, beans, herbs, winter veggies, and, to my surprise when I came home last week, collards and kale (“everyone at work was talking about how much they love this stuff called ‘kale’ so I went and got a pack of seeds…). With my dad as a handy helper (he does the garden building and vegetable eating part) and a really commendable renewed devotion to personal health on their part, we can always count on fresh produce at home. So, obviously that brings me to today’s recipe. With the exception of the yogurt, everything here has been freshly grown and that’s pretty darn cool if you ask me.

Since summer is, you know, hot and all, I’ve been doing a *lot* of salads and cold veggies with dinner instead of the typical warm side dishes. Saves time, that’s for sure–one of my husband’s favorite things to toss on a plate next to the main event is a sliced heirloom tomato with salt and a drizzle of melted butter (speaking of which, grilled tomato and butter sandwiches are the bomb and I could probably eat them every day forever).

I got a little…fancy…with last night’s salad, as you can see. The dill was calling my name, I couldn’t resist. I’ve got fantasies of doing this again with some smoked salmon later this week. Please tell me I’m not the only one who’s dying just thinking about it….?

Cucumber Salad with Yogurt Dill Dressing
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup (packed) fresh dill, minced
  • 3-4 large cucumbers, sliced and diced
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • about 2 cups of cherry or grape tomatoes
  • ¼ c apple cider vinegar
Instructions
  1. Toss all the veggies and the dill in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Whisk together the yogurt and vinegar, then pour over the veggies.
  3. Mix until well combined.
  4. Cover and let everything marinate for at least an hour before serving.

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This Week In Summer

So I have an unnatural affection for bread and butter pickles. I happened to mention this to my mom a couple nights ago and I woke up to this the next morning.

Pickling Table

Pickling at 7am. It’s clearly the only way.

Bread and Butter Pickles

Why, oh, why must the season of bikinis and shorts and crop tops (still can’t believe crop tops are a thing again…what is this, 1992!?) be the season of ice cold beer and ice cream and BBQ? The Universe is messing with me. We’re heading to Florida next week to see my in-laws, so between now and then I appointed my husband as my official health food Accountabilibuddy. So, like, lots of veggies. And manual labor. And grilling. And puppy play time.

Tuesday's Pickin's

Painting

Gardening

Grill

Ghost

Around here they own the joint. Her sister is actually the Swamp Thing. If you’ve never seen a white dog turn green…well…it’s nasty.

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Alrighty, kiddos, we’re off to the Sunshine State for some…sunshine.

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Grilled Beef Heart w/ Lemon and Cracked Pepper Marinade

Grilled Heart w Lemon and Cracked Pepper

When you and your spouse are both funemployed at the same time you get to do some really awesome stuff together.  Like wake up late and sip coffee out on the deck on a Thursday.  Like make breakfast side by side without bitching at each other because one or the other is already running late.  Like just decide on a whim to go take a bike ride along the C&O.  Like head over to the butcher afterwards and freak out the whole place when you ask for a beef heart and the guy says he’ll go see what they’ve got in the back and promptly slams what is most certainly the heart of a wooley mammoth–not a cow–onto the counter. What can I say? We’ve got fertile land.

Beef Heart

“What is THAT??” asks the lady behind me.

“A beef heart!” my husband cheerfully replies. “They’re amazing. And cheap. And are, like, the beefiest beef you’ve ever had!” What we left unsaid was that by eating the cow’s heart we’d gain all of its strength and power.

Grilled Beef Hear with Lemon and Cracked Pepper

Usually the easiest thing to do with a heart is to toss it in the slow cooker—they’ve got enough fat on them that they stay really moist and will flavor whatever accessory vegetables you put in alongside it. A “fancier” way to use it is to cut it into strips or chunks and just do your thing like you would with any other cut of beef. Being a holiday weekend and all, I figured now was the time to take a stab at grilling the thing.

Unlike other organ meats there really isn’t the need to disguise the flavor at all—the heart is a muscle, and tastes like any other muscle meat. If there’s anything distinctive it’s the almost “beefier” taste, if that makes any sense. I’m pretty confident that as long as you cut it right you could serve it to a crowd without anyone being the wiser. This is good because I’m not a huge fan of drowning something in sauce or marinade if I don’t have to…especially not when we’re lucky enough to have our herds raised on sweet, sweet valley grass.

Grilled Beef Heart w/ Lemon and Cracked Pepper Marinade
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 beef heart, trimmed to your liking
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 T cracked pepper
  • 1 T coarse sea salt
  • 2 T olive oil
Instructions
  1. Cut the heart in half, then place each half in a bowl or dish for marinating.
  2. Whisk together the lemon juice, pepper, salt, and oil.
  3. Pour the marinade over the heart and marinate at least 4 hours.
  4. Grill, covered for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Remove from the grill and slice to serve.

 

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Gluten Free, Vegan Bread

We finally got all our stuff out of the Baltimore house yesterday—one thing I realized I miss from the Army was the fact that whenever you had to move, some moving company would just magically show up and four hours later, all your stuff was gone. Whether it would make it to where you needed to go was another story but considering we aren’t even taking possession of the new place for a month, I’m not thinking that far ahead. Either way. Moving yourself is awful. Righteously awful.

Fun fact…there is a Law of the Unviverse that states that no matter how hard you try, you will never—NEVER—fit all of your household goods inside your POD, despite more trips to Goodwill than I care to count and a pile of trash bags in the back alley I’m pretty sure could shield the place from a nuclear war. So, that was my weekend.

GFV Bread II

I know baking is probably the last thing anyone wants to do in the middle of the summer, except it’s the first thing I want to do every second of every day of the year so I’m posting this anyway. Y’all know I’ve been on my Vegan kick lately and I recently extended said Vegan kick into the realm of baked goods. I did try to make a Paleo/Vegan bread a while back (I’m still racking my brain for a way to make that happen) but for now I’m settling for this lovely creation.

GFV Bread

 

It’s seriously delicious, not to mention versatile. Dudes, I made French Toast and sandwiches and toast with butter and jam and PBJ andandand they all held up. The pain with GF baked goods of any kind is that they can really be dry and crumbly, and doubly so when you have to eliminate eggs and dairy from the mix. I don’t know what it is about this specific combo of ingredients but it works beautifully. I had to experiment a little—it took me one miserable failure and two not-so-miserable-but-still-imperfect attempts to figure out the magic behind it and here is what I found/the ONE change I made…

  1. When she says mix the ingredients until “just combined,” seriously, yo…do NOT overmix. Mix up all your dry ingredients REALLY well before you add the wet stud and mix by hand slowly and carefully until it comes together. Overmixing will produce a nasty sinkhole.
  2. Only let it rise 30 minutes. I know it says 30-45 but too long and a) it might overflow and/or b) it’ll sink whilst baking.
  3. I added a tablespoon of psyllium husk powder. I swear by this stuff.
  4. Does not freeze well.  I unthawed a loaf I had frozen fresh and it turned to sand.
  5. Let the loaf cool either upside down or on its side. I know some folks think this is an Old Wive’s Tale, but it makes me feel better. So there.

I seriously heart this bread. I don’t care how hot it is. Get the recipe here!

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Pan Seared Pork Belly with Rosemary and Thyme

This is the first time ever that my husband and I have been (f)unemployed at the same time. I give major bonus points, too, since it’s over the summer and we’ve got a pretty sweet vacation schedule lined up. Seriously, not having a job and not having to worry about money doesn’t really happen. Ever. Except it’s happening right now. These are the moments where, you know, being smart and saving cash for the past decade helps you out. And when the GI Bill is as awesome as ever. Five deployments between the two of us almost seems not as craptastic as before. Almost.

What I like about having a year off from school, too, is that I can let the brain fog lift a little and catch up on normal people stuff. Less zig-zaggy chemical figures and renal fluid balance diagrams, more reading books in the sunshine. Books that make me laugh instead of cry. Books I can discuss with my husband over coffee. And by discuss I mean bitch about how pissed I get every time Judd suppresses his feelings while my own husband makes agreeable noises whilst reading the news or intermittently wondering aloud whether it would be better to upgrade some software on some device I totally don’t care about.   If you missed the reference, I’m reading This is Where I Leave You—as soon as I saw that the movie was coming out and that Jane Fonda (love her) and the guys whose name I don’t know but who plays Adam on Girls (LOVE him) were in it I hadhadHAD to read the book. If nothing else, I love watching a movie based on a book and having read said book so I can complain about all the inconsistencies. Yes, I’m actually 80 years old.

Rosemary Thyme Seared Pork Belly

Ya, so pork belly. Delicious, obviously. And since I have tome on my hands to do things like read a real book I have time to make pork belly in any way other than in a slow cooker. While it required my attention for longer than did the slow cooker method, I actually found this way to be easier. I hope that makes sense…if nothing else this is a great way to prep a slab for cooking later.

Basically, you braise the thing for a few hours, let it cool in the fridge for a while, cut it up into chunks (or probably even leave it whole) and pan sear it. Boom.

This is going to be a thing. I did see a thing on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives the other day about pork belly on a stick. That’s going to need to happen soon, like, real soon.

Pan Seared Pork Belly with Rosemary and Thyme
Author: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
  • 1.5 to 2 lbs pork belly
  • 3-4 c chicken stock
  • 1 T coarse sea salt
  • 1 T rosemary
  • 1 T thyme
  • olive oil
Instructions
  1. Mix your seasonings together and rub them all over the pork belly, top and bottom.
  2. Place the pork belly in a baking dish and fill with about an inch of chicken stock.
  3. Cover tightly with foil and place in a 300 degree oven for 3 hours.
  4. Remove from the oven, pour off the chicken stock, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. This can also be done overnight to prepare the next day.
  5. Remove the cooled pork belly to a cutting board.
  6. Cut the pork into 1.5-2 inch cubes.
  7. Heat some olive oil over medium high heat.
  8. Using tongs, sear each pork belly cube on each side for a couple of minutes, until crispy.

 

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A Change of Pace

So I dropped my “brand.”  Seriously.  New site, new name, but still all of my old posts.  Aaaaaaaand that means what, exactly?

OK, here’s the deal.  This last year was nuts.  I got out of the Army, went back to school, got my pre-med certificate, and almost lost my mind along the way.  Post-bac programs are wonderful in that they take non-traditional students like me who either haven’t been in school for a while or have non-science majors (me again, on both counts) and put them through all the pre-reqs and then the MCAT.  In 12 months.  It was insane and I can safely say I’ve never worked so hard in my life.  And then there’s my dearest husband.  Who  also happens to be a prodigy–the man applied to two of the top business schools on the country a week before applications closed.  On a whim.  And then got in.

Long story short, we had a bunch of married-people-discussions and are now moving down to Charlottesville so he can start at B-school while I take a year off.  So yeah, I am now a housewife.  Next year, however, I will be a First Year in medical school–I had been accepted in the spring and the school was kind enough to grant a deferral.

What does this have to do with TGIPaleo, Paleo, or food in general?  In all its craziness, I guess I just lost the energy to care as much as I did about all The Rules.  This isn’t meant to be an “I Quit Paleo” post, because I’m not.  Well, not quite.

I still think the Paleo framework is awesome and can change people’s lives for the better.  I still think that good food fuels the mind, body, and soul and that the Standard American Diet is crap.  I still think certain foods or, more specifically, certain ingredients should be avoided (i.e. sugar and gluten).  I am going to be a doctor one day, and I want to be the best possible example of good health for my patients.  Part of that “good health” is sound mental health.

Listen, Paleo has a lot of great points working in its favor.  So do plenty of other ways of eating.  I think you’ve all probably taken note of my recent foray into Vegan cooking lately.  But you back yourself into a corner when you try to put labels on everything, including yourself.  I love food.  I love cooking.  I like trying to be healthy most of the time.  I do NOT like being obsessed with food to the point of insanity and that’s the problem I have with a lot of the mainstream Paleo movement.  A trip into some popular forums is like a peek into an insane asylum full of people pulling their hair out wondering whether or not they “failed” their 30-Day Paleo challenge on Day 29 because someone put breadcrumbs in the meatloaf.

Avoiding processed and packaged food, making meals at home, paying attention to what makes you feel good and what doesn’t, eating the best quality food you can afford (lots of veggies, people!), and doing your honest best is good enough.

I thought I could at least convey this message on the blog and try to temper some of my admittedly more die-hard posts of the past.  But at the end of the day, I was the proprietor of a “Paleo Blog” and was held to some invisible standard.  As a Paleo brand, suddenly I was being scrutinized constantly–maybe because I posted pictures of non-Paleo food on Facebook or Instagram (GF cupcakes…oops) or because I posted recipes that skirted the definition of “Strict Paleo” (apparently rice makes people angry).  I mean, seriously?  I love how some people clearly have nothing better to do than to troll the internet for excuses to be asshats.  Oh, and now there are sites out there whose sole purpose in life is–literally–to bash other people.  So you know what?  Screw it.

Hi.  I’m Camilla and my diet has no label.  I eat what I want, when I want, where I want.  There is nothing else you need to know.

From now on, I’ll show you what I’m cooking and baking, maybe some clothes and makeup I like, too.  I might talk about my latest ventures in housewifery.  You know, things I care about and that make me happy.  No labels.

 

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We Got a Facelift!

Hey guys!

Maybe you noticed, maybe you didn’t, but I’m telling you anyway.  Not only is the sight slightly re-formatted (no surprises, I swear…I am definitely not that competent with computery stuffs) but I’ve dropped the TGIPaleo brand name and adopted a new one, The Not So Desperate Housewife.

More details to come–right now I’m going through and making some formatting tweaks for some stuff that didn’t make it through in one piece.

Otherwise, everything should be unchanged.  All the old posts are there, all the old recipes intact, and if you search TGIPaleo, it will still direct you here.

We’ll talk soon, k?

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