Super Simple, Super Chocolate Mousse

Can I just say that my 21DSD is really putting a cramp on my style?  I pride myself in rarely consuming sugars, but I never realized how much fruit and starch I took in.  Maybe a Whole30 would have been more appropriate?  But then again, this really is an eye-opening experience–and I’m one of those snotty Paleo geeks who thought she knew everything!–and I’m glad I’m doing it.  If nothing else, after a week I could swear I’m sleeping better and my cravings are *somewhat* better.  I’d still knife someone for a sweet potato, but whatevs.

So, this recipe.  NOT 21DSD approved.  It’s an oldie, but I guess I’m craving more than just sweet potatoes today.

This is such a rich and decadent treat…I mean, OMG.  I made it for the first time right after Ross left because I was sad and needed a shot of Chocolate Morphine.  And then I made it a bunch after that.  It’s only three ingredients (maybe four or five if you count any toppings…I’m a fan of even more chocolate chunks and cinnamon) and will leave you seeing chocolate stars without making you feel like you ate a brick the next morning.  OMG, people!!

INGREDIENTS

(Makes About 1 Cup, Serves 1-2)

1 can Full-Fat Coconut Milk

2-3 T Cocoa Powder (depending on how rich you want it)

2-3 T Raw Honey (depending on how sweet you want it)

Toppings: chocolate chips, shredded coconut, dollop of almond butter, cinnamon, etc…

INSTRUCTIONS

Chill the can of coconut milk, unopened, for a few hours or overnight.

Open the can and scrape out the solidified cream layer into a bowl.  Beat vigorously with a whisk or an electric mixer until softened.  Add the honey and cocoa and beat until light and fluffy.

Top with your garnishes of choice, and enjoy!

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Jamaican-Asian Braised Oxtail

Gotta love Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives…only there would I have gotten an idea like this.  I really wish I could say I’ve been recording and watching several episodes daily ONLY because my husband is halfway across the country for the summer, but this has been going on for months years.  Seriously I love the Food Network more than anything (well, maybe not Game of Thrones but I totally didn’t just say that) and DDD is one of my chief sources of inspiration for my food because of the sheer creativity and talent profiled every single time.  Besides, I never feel bad copying anything I see because they never share their secret recipes and I get to destroy my kitchen trying to replicate something I’ve never even tasted myself.

Huh…maybe that’s not a good thing?  Thankfully, Guy has an excellent vocabulary for food criticism and I was an English major.

If you’ve never cooked with oxtails before, know that they’re a pretty tough cut of meat and need to be either braised or tossed in the slow cooker to bring out the rich, buttery, bone-sucking texture we love so much.  Thankfully, those are probably the two easiest cooking methods out there, so go nuts with flavoring.  In this version, I braised my oxtails in a mixture of coconut milk, tomato puree, and some sweet and spicy seasoning that brought the islands and the Far East together.

INGREDIENTS

2 lbs Beef Oxtails

1 can Full-Fat Coconut Milk

1 c Tomato Puree or Prepared Tomato Sauce

1 Onion, roughly chopped

1 Bell Pepper, roughly chopped

2 t Cumin

2 t Chili Powder

2 T Coconut Aminos

Salt and Pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

Place the oxtails in a medium to large Dutch oven or deep oven-safe dish (like one of the bigger Corningware bowls with a lid).*

Whisk together the coconut milk, tomato sauce, veggies, and seasonings.  Pour over the oxtails and stir to combine.

Bake in the oven, covered, for 4-6 hours at 200 degrees (longer is better–it will continue to tenderize the meat and flavor the sauce).  Occasionally during the cooking process, stir to redistribute the sauce.

*This would also be lovely in a slow cooker.  Just toss everything in and set on low for at least 6 hours.

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Crockpot Asian-Style Carnitas

It’s like Mexican and Chinese takeout had a delicious baby.

You know the best thing about this dish?  It’s  even good cold and leftover when you’re drunk and stumbling around like an idiot looking for something to eat at midnight.  Thank God I found it before I found the bag of dark chocolate in the pantry.  Yeah, I know…who’s a winner?  THIS GIRL.

I was so hungover enough this morning that it hurt to blink.  OMG.  And I missed yoga, and missing yoga makes me cranky.  AND one of the dogs pooped on the floor and I had to shampoo the carpet…before I’d had coffee.  This is why it’s better to own, people.

Thankfully Paleo breakfasts are the single best thing for a hangover.  And coffee.  LOTS of coffee.

INGREDIENTS

3 lbs Pork Shoulder, cut into large cubes

1/4 c Sesame Oil

6 Cloves Garlic, minced

1/4 c Rice Vinegar

2 T Fresh Ginger, grated

1/4 c Fresh chives, chopped

1/4 c Coconut Aminos

Salt and Pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, ginger, chives, and coconut aminos with salt and pepper to taste.  Add the cubed pork and stir to combine.  Dump the whole thing in a slow cooker.  Cook on low for at least 6 hours.

Remove cooked pork and spread out in a large baking dish.  Broil for 8-10 minutes until each piece is browned and slightly crispy.

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Salmon Tarts

OMG OMG OMG.

GAME OF THRONES COOKBOOK!!

As soon as I found out that such a thing, indeed, was possible I had it on pre-order.  AND.  IT’S.  HERE!!!

And yeah, the whole thing is pretty Geek-a-Licious.  I spent a soild hour and a half just perusing the intro and reading all the regional descriptions and double checking everything on my handy dandy map of Westeros.  Do not judge me…I have a thing, OK?!

THEN I started getting into the recipes themselves.  I love how almost every recipe comes in two parts–a medieval version and a modern version.  There’s some wacky stuff (pidgeon pie…that calls for pidgeons) but also some recipes I’d be proud to serve to a crown (honey roasted chicken with currants…holy crap I almost ate the photo).

So last night was originally a leftovers night–with said leftovers being the remnants of a baked salmon fillet–but I was dying…DYING!…to try something out.  Needless to say there isn’t much that’s Paleo but thankfully medieval recipes are pretty un-complicated and all I had to do was get creative with some substitutions.

I honed in on the Fish Tarts because, well, I had fish in the house that needed to be eaten.  Plus anything in tart or pie form is delicious. Which is reason number 5734875345785 that I love this book, because those Song of Ice and Fire folks ate a lot of stuff in pie or tart form.  I had to find a Paleo-friendly pastry dough, which I did over at The Nutty Kitchen (only change I made was not adding shredded coconut and nixing the honey)…side note-BEST Paleo pie crust I’ve ever had.  Seriously…OMG.  Plus I got to use my brand new tart pan!  Thanks Mike & Missy!!

The original recipe also calls for dates and figs to be added to the tarts, but I nixed those thanks to the 21DSD.  I’d also note that tart pans come in all shapes and sizes, so monitor the cooking time a bit depending on the difference.  The pan I used has four, 4-inch tarts.  What I ended up with was a pretty simple recipe but damn if it wasn’t delicious.  Kinda like fancy-schmancy-grown-up comfort food!

INGREDIENTS

Crust (adapted from the Nutty Kitchen):

1/4 c Butter, softened

2 T Coconut Oil, softened

1 c Coconut flour

3 Eggs, beaten

1/4 t Salt

1 T Cold Water

Filling:

1 lb Salmon, cooked and flaked

1/2 Onion, diced fine

1 Egg

2 T Fresh chives, chopped

1/2 t Paprika

Salt and Pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

For the crust…

Whisk the dry ingredients together.  To this, add the butter and oil and with either a fork or food processor, mix until you have a coarse meal.  Add the eggs and water and knead until you have a smooth ball of dough (it will be a little more crumbly than wheat-based pie crusts).  Press into tart molds.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes, or until a light golden brown.

For the filling and assembly…

Combine the salmon, egg, and seasonings.  When the crusts are done baking, remove from the oven.  Spoon the filling evenly among the tart shells.

Return to the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Garnish with fresh chopped parsley.

Enjoy!

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Lebanese Lamb Loaf

I will never, ever, ever, EVER post a meatloaf recipe on this blog.  NEVER.  For one, it’s not exactly a complicated recipe and I sincerely doubt I’m cheating anyone out of a good meal.  Google it, you’ll be OK.  For another, my very dear husband has refined his mother’s recipe into such Foodgasmic Meatloaf Perfection that I have absolutely zero desire to make anything else.  And zero desire to share it with the general public.  Sorry, guys.

However!!!  This isn’t your typical meatloaf–it’s a LambLoaf.  With all kinds of fun stuff baked in to give it a distinct and exotic flavor…and a sweet carmelized glaze on top…**SWOON**

Way too exotic for Sunday Supper.  In fact, I made it on a Thursday.  Booyah.

This recipe was actually the result of a few botched attempts at making kibbeh, believe it or not…I mean, kibbeh are just mini stuffed meatloaves and I pretty much said f*ck it and made a big one.  Sometimes, you just need a big block of meat.  Whatever, I was tired.

Ingredients

2 lbs Ground Lamb

1 lb Ground Beef

1/2 c Pine Nuts

1/2 c Dates

1 Sweet Onion, diced

3 Eggs

1 t Cinnamon

1 t Cumin

1 t Allspice

Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions

In a food processor, pulse the pine nuts until you’ve got a coarse meal–don’t make them too fine, though, because you want a nice textural diversity in the finished product.  Do the same with the dates so that they are finely diced.

In a large bowl, combine the lamb, beef, onion, eggs, dates, pine nuts, and seasonings.  Press into a large, well greased loaf pan.  (You can also form into a loaf in a large baking dish or pan).

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, 15 minutes or until cooked through.

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Sweet Potato Hummus

This weekend has been unbelievably lonely.  And not only is work going to suck extra hard after a long weekend but the Hubs left yesterday morning to spend the summer in Boston.  Yeah, I cried like a baaaaaaaby.  And ate a LOTTTTTTT of bacon brownies.  If you haven’t made these yet I’m really, really upset with you.

So I’m starting a 21 Day Sugar Detox this week.  I know, I know…after my little fiasco with my New Years Whole30, I’m skeptical, too.  Cut me some slack, OK??  There’s a lot to be said for cutting the crap and resetting your system from time to time, especially if your husband is out of town all summer and you’ve got no one to cook for but yourself.  Except I guess that means I need to kill the rest of this hummus, like, today…

There have been a few variations of this stuff floating around on Pinterest lately–God, I love Pinterest–but they’re all raw and vegan and full of weird sh*t like liquid smoke and stevia and don’t let you bake the sweet potatoes.  I don’t do raw potatoes.  You might as well eat sand.  Nosirrrreeeee, Bob….not gonna happen.

Ingredients

1 Large Sweet Potato

Juice of 1 Lemon

1/4 c Tahini

2 Cloves Garlic

Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions

Bake and peel your sweet potato.  You want this sucker to be SOFT–I baked mine in foil at 425 for 90 minutes.  Once it’s done baking, allow to cool slightly and the skin should slide right off.

Toss in a food processor with the remaining ingredients.  Pulse until very smooth.

Serve with veggies, on salad, with these chips, or just spoon into your face.

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Ginger-Lemon Sweet Potato Salad

Soooooo yay for long weekends!  Long weekends mean I actually get to sleep.  And socialize.  I’m such a hermit…that’s what you get when you work 14 hour days.  Except that my hours here are SO much better than in Texas and I live 10 minutes from work instead of 60.  So I guess I’m just a loser.  OH!  Double yay for Ross being home for a few days before heading up to Boston for the summer…no big plans but there will definitely be good food and outdoors time for all.

To kick off the official beginning of summer I wanted to offer up some picnic food.  Seriously, my neighborhood smells like barbeque and charcoal and smoke.  It’s driving me crazy it’s so good.  But I really don’t need to talk about burgers and brats and steaks because everyone does those and cooking out is like, the single most Paleo-friendly social event ever.  But sides…what to do about the sides…I’ve literally been to outdoor parties where all I could eat was meat.  And maybe some crudités.  Which is fine but sometimes you need a little color on your plate so I’ve been working on some good picnic food this week, whether you need something to bring to a potluck or just to have on hand for a summery meal.

I threw together a big batch of this potato salad earlier this week to have as a convenient side and found that it packs up nicely to bring out for a picnic or cookout.  Besides being visually appealing—summer colors!—it’s a fresh and light tasting staple for any Paleo picnic plate.

Ingredients

5 Large Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cubed

1/4 c Olive Oil

3 Cloves Garlic, minced

Juice of 3 Lemons

1 t Salt

1 t Fresh Ginger

1/4 t Chinese Five Spice

1 T Coconut Aminos

Chopped Fresh Parsley

1/3 c Pine Nuts

Instructions

Place the cubed sweet potatoes in a pot of cold water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat slightly and simmer for 10 minutes until potatoes are tender but not mushy.  Drain and cool.

Meanwhile, combine oil, lemon juice, seasonings and coconut aminos in a bowl and whisk until combined.  Pour over cooled potatoes and stir to combine.  Garnish with fresh parsley and pine nuts.

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Triple Fudge Bacon Brownies

Did I get your attention?

Yes, there is TRIPLE fudge. Not single fudge. Not double fudge. And yes, there is BACON.

You see, it’s been too long since I had a good dessert in the house…well, other than plain old dark chocolate. Seriously, is there anything more dangerous than Enjoy Life Chocolate Chunks? OK, these brownies might just be it…but at least they take a little bit of effort to make so they feel a little more “special” than shoving chocolate chunks in face while I’m watching Fashion Police.

I seriously love Joan Rivers. And Kelly Osbourne. I want them to be my Mom and Big Sister…then maybe I could leave the house once in a while without looking like a total disaster. Maybe once I’d leave the house in something other than yoga pants. The last time I attempted to dress up was at my own wedding, which even I will admit is a very inappropriate scenario for yoga pants.

Anyway, the brownies. Don’t get all freaked by the bacon part. It’s highly necessary. It provides not only a nice textural contrast–you get a nice little crunch in the midst of ooey-gooey brownie-ness–but a nice bite of salt to go with the rich sweetness. If you’re really going to get your panties in a knot over it, leave out the bacon but know that I’ll be highly disappointed in you. And yes, I eat my brownies with a fork. Don’t judge.

And trust me, these babies are RICH. They aren’t the least bit cake-y (I mean, aren’t cake-y brownies just chocolate cake??) but just be aware that they’ll still be really gooey when they’re done baking. They need to be COOLED COMPLETELY before serving. OK? Or you can do what I did and just dig into hot gooey chocolate-y goodness. It’s just not nearly as pretty and will inevitably end up all over your face. But I’m OK with that.

Ingredients

1 c Coconut Butter

1/2 c Full Fat Canned Coconut Milk (the light stuff will not work)

2 Eggs, beaten

1 T Vanilla

4 oz Baking Chocolate, melted in 1 T Coconut Oil

1/3 c Raw Honey

1/4 c Cocoa Powder

1/2 t Salt

1 T Arrowroot Powder

2 c Chocolate Chips (yes, I said TWO cups)

3 Thick Slices Bacon

Instructions

Fry bacon until very crisp (but not burned) and let cool and drain on paper towels. Chop into very small bits and set aside.

Beat the coconut butter, eggs, coconut milk, vanilla, melted chocolate, honey, cocoa, salt, and arrowroot powder with an electric mixer.

(I used my brand-spanking new stand mixer. Thanks, Karin!!).

Stir in the bacon bits and chocolate chips. Pour into a greased 8 x 8 inch pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Remember, they will still be gooey after baking thanks to the massive amount of melted chocolate in them. Cool completely before cutting into squares and serving.

Enjoy!

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Lithuanian Kraut

Fermented food is really good for you.  No one is denying it.  But let’s be honest, plain old sauerkraut can get real old, real quick.  Thanks to my Baltic heritage, though, I grew up loving the stuff because we figured out a long time ago how to make it awesome.  I mean…my Mom’s kraut has BACON in it for goodness sake.  If you can’t choke down a bottle of kombucha on a daily basis, this is a great way to get your prebiotics, probiotics, and everything in between.

This is a great side for any meal of the day…I even like it with eggs in the morning!  The apple takes some of the bite out of it and I’m convinced that even people who can’t stand the uber-vinegary flavor would like this version.  And yes, if you’re not in the mood to go crazy with the stuff, it goes great with brats…who doesn’t love brats with sauerkraut?

Ingredients

1 Jar Sauerkraut (28 oz)

2 Granny Smith Apples, chopped

6 Slices Bacon, fried crisp and diced

2 t Fennel Seed

1 t Black Pepper

Instructions

Combine all ingredients in a suacepan over medium-low heat.  Allow to simmer for at least 3 hours before serving.  More time is better!  This stuff keeps incredibly well and is even good cold.

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Microwave Protein Muffin

Probably the worst thing you can do to me is put me in a situation where I can neither eat good food nor have an opportunity to cook for myself.  I get really, really cranky.  Food is my thing, OK?

I spent an entire year living in an aluminum box in the desert with nothing but a microwave and a Liddle Griddle, subsisting on rice, canned fish, and gluten-free pancake mix (thank the Lord for Amazon…) for most of it.  Yummy!

Believe it or not, though, this recipe was one of my deployment staples and for some god-awful reason I kept making it from time to time after I got back.  The only change I have made was adding real eggs–clearly not available to the poor folks on FOBs in northern Iraq.  I had to settle for a tip I learned from the Vegans (blasphemy!) and use “flax eggs.”  They work fine, too, so feel free to try it but the texture is a LOT more palatable for me with the real deal.  This recipe makes one HUGE muffin, so cut it in half if you want.  Also, feel free to add anything else, like nuts or raisins or coconut–if you’d like!

It’s definitely tasty but most importantly, because it’s easy to make with stuff I always have on hand.  Like this morning, when I awoke to a bare kitchen (as I do most Sunday mornings).  I was starving but SO not willing to go shopping at 6:30am…

Ingredients

1/4 c Coconut Flour

2 Eggs

1/2 t Baking Soda

1 Mashed Banana

1/2 t Cinnamon

Instructions

Whisk together all of the ingredients.  Your “batter” should be pretty thick.

Press the batter/dough into a microwave-safe bowl–a cereal bowl works best for me.  Pop in the microwave and cook on high for 3 minute increments (to avoid an explosion) for 6-9 minutes, or until firm in the center.  Allow to rest for a minute or two, then gently remove from the bowl, loosening the edges with a knife if necessary.

Schmear with almond butter and enjoy!

Remember, every microwave is a little different, so it may take more or less time depending on the individual settings.

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