Day Two…Liver

LIVER

Liver is probably the most common organ meat–at least for me.  Sooo maybe using liver as an Offal Week ingredient is kind’ve a kop-out.  I mean, who hasn’t heard old people talking about Liver n’ Onions their whole life?  And yeah, we all thought it just sounded nasty.  I only started eating liver this year after I literally guilted myself into it after reading so many articles championing its nutritional value.  But I actually liked it.  A lot.  And for several months liver has been a mainstay in our house–lucky for you I decided to get a little more creative with the recipe because, honestly, sometimes it doesn’t matter how healthy something is if it just grosses people out.

Why Should I Eat It??

Nature’s Multivitamin.  ‘Nuff said.  Plus it’s CHEAP.

Flavor and Texture…What to Expect?

Raw liver is tough to handle.  Its sliminess makes it both unappetizing to look at and hard to hold onto (that’s what she said).  It’s a pain in the ass to cut raw, too.  When cooked, it’s got a smooth, almost “creamy” texture–which is why it’s breaded in a lot of conventional recipes to get a nice textural contrast.  It’s a unique flavor that, for me, was surprisingly good–savory without being terribly “beefy,” and almost a hint of sweet.

Special Instructions…

Liver cooks pretty quickly.  I generally buy mine pre-sliced thin (because it’s all I can find), so if you’re putting it on the cooktop you only need a couple minutes per side on a moderate heat to make sure it’s cooked through.  Be careful not to burn it, either…at least in my experience, burnt liver tastes and feels like charcoal.

Today’s Recipe: Creamy Liver and Sausage Gravy

This is a bit of a different take on your run-of-the-mill sausage gravy or creamed chipped beef.  I wanted something that would be a versatile (and sneaky!) way to get some liver into one’s diet.  I made a ton of the stuff for myself and had it over zucchini pancakes one night, on sweet potato fries as a sort of poutin another, and over eggs for breakfast…all with delicious success!

INGREDIENTS

1 lb Ground Pork Sausage

2 Links Andouille Sausage, sliced

1 lb Liver

1 Can Full Fat Coconut Milk

2 T Arrowroot Powder, dissolved in 2 T Water

1 t Rosemary

1 t Oregano

Salt and Pepper to taste

Chicken Stock, as needed

INSTRUCTIONS

Chop the liver until it is the consistency of ground meat (a food processor works well here).

In a large saucepan over medium heat, brown the sausages and liver in some oil.  Pour the coconut milk over the meat, scraping down the sides of the pan.  Add the seasonings and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.

Whisk in the arrowroot powder and stir until the gravy is thickened.  If it gets too thick, thin it out a bit with some of the chicken stock.

Serve over eggs, starchy veggies, Paleo Biscuits, or any way you’d like!

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Day One…Kidneys

KIDNEY

I’m kicking off Offal week with an item I’ve shied from my whole life (despite my severe obsession with English food).  I haven’t seen kidneys around as much as some organ meats, and I was a little hesitant just because…well…kidneys make pee and that just sounds gross.  But hang with me, now.  We can get through this together…

Why Should I Eat It??

Kidneys have a metric asston of all your B-Vitamins (“asston” is a real unit of measure, btw), selenium, iron, phosphorous, and zinc.  There’s also a good dose of calcium, magnesium, manganese, and potassium.  Not to mention these babies are CHEAP.

Flavor and Texture…What to Expect?

If you’ve ever had liver, you’ll be fine.  Kidneys, at least to me, were extremely similar to liver in texture and consistency–soft with a sort of “creamy” mouth-feel.  There are small pockets of fat–never an issue for me–and the whole thing is made up of little bulbs of meat you have to separate before cooking.  There are also some tubes running through them and admittedly that weirded me out a bit but if you cut them up to cook you’ll never notice.  As far as taste goes, it definitely tasted more beef-y than liver, which should be a good thing.  The cooked texture is a little more firm than liver but shares that “creamy” quality.

Special Instructions…

As I mentioned before, kidneys are extremely similar to liver in texture and consistency, so I treat them the same when cooking.  Keep the cuts thin and make sure not to put them over heat that’t too high to avoid charring them.

Today’s Recipe:  Steak and Kidney Pie

INGREDIENTS

1 lb Beef Stew Meat

1 lb Beef Kidneys, cleaned and separated

1 Onion, chopped

2 c Sliced Mushrooms

4 Thick Slices Bacon, diced

2 c Beef Stock

2 T Coconut Aminos

Salt and Pepper to taste

2 T Arrowroot Powder

Crust:

1/2 Large Head Cauliflower

1/4 c Flax Meal

1/4 c Almond Meal

2 Eggs + 1 Egg Yolk

1 t Salt

1 t Pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

In a large skillet or pot, brown the stew meat and kidneys in some olive oil over medium-high heat.  Set Aside.

Add the bacon to the drippings and cook until browned, then add the onions and mushrooms.  Saute until onions are translucent.  Add the stock and coconut aminos, scraping down the sides of the pan.  Whisk in the arrowroot powder and reduce heat.  Continue to stir the gravy until thickened.

For the crust, grate the cauliflower and place in a microwave-safe dish.  Nuke for 4-6 minutes, or until soft.  Allow to cool, then add the eggs, flax, almond flour, and seasoning.

In a 3 QT dish, combine the stew meat, kidneys, gravy, and vegetables.  Stir to coat the meat with all the gravy, then spoon the crust on top to cover.

Bake the pie at 350 degrees for 35-45 minute, until crust is browned.

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Introducing…tgipaleo’s Offal Week!

At the risk of driving away pretty  much everyone who’s ever read my blog, I’ve taken on a little project.  I’m of the camp that wholeheartedly believes we simply do not consume enough organ meat…for a variety of reasons.  It’s sustainable, it’s nutritious as hell, it’s so cheap it hurts, and it’s effing delicious.  At least I think so, at least, but nobody listens to me.

OK, ok.  I was totally grossed out by the thought of eating organ meats, too.  I mean…they’re ORGANS!!!!  Have you SEEN the Saw movies?!  That sh*t is just gross…except that all meat is technically an organ meat and eating skeletal muscle tissue is just as gross if we wanna get all scientific about it.  I digress…

It’s OK.  Despite having a very Lithuanian mother who was all about the gizzards and brains, I’d never touched the stuff until earlier this year after  husband guilted me into trying liver for the first time.  It’s hard to turn down Nature’s Multivitamin.  And I will even admit that the texture and appearance threw me for a loop at first.  Ditto with hearts and tongues.  But they were all deceptively delicious…and so Offal Week was born.

Over the next five days, I’ll be posting recipes for a handful of organ meats I’d never have thought to touch before.  I tried my best to mix it up a little and give you guys some ideas that will not only make said organ meat more appealing and appetizing, but also to give a little bit of a heads up–or at least as much as I can via the Interwebs–of what to expect from the taste and texture.

I will not try to tell you the stuff tastes like chicken.  There are some…”unique” culinary experiences ahead of you.  But for those of you up for something different (and cheap!  and SO good for you!), I hope I can help you along.  For the other 99.999% of you who will never visit my blog again, it’s been a pleasure…

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Choco-Cherry Upside-Down Banana Bread

Say that five times fast…

So Colorado Springs is officially on fire.  As I was driving home from the airport on Monday you could see the smoke coming up over the mountain.  A little worried.  Plus side is that everything smells like BBQ.

And if the fires don’t kill me, this heat just might.  OMG I miss central air.  We have two window units but they’re not helping much.  Mostly because we have horozontal sliding windows and the units don’t have extensions long enough to fit–so I kinda gerry-rigged it with styrofoam.  Well, I tried.  Home improvement isn’t exactly my forte.

So I baked for you!!

PS…baking in105 degree heat with no AC?  Capital S-STUPID.  But delicious.  Oh, so delicious.

INGREDIENTS

1/2 c Coconut Flour

1 t Salt

1 t Baking Soda

2 t Cinnamon

1/2 c Flax

6 Eggs

3 Mashed Bananas

2 t Vanilla

1 1/2 c Whole Cherries

2 T Cocoa Powder

1 T Coconut Milk

INSTRUCTIONS

Start with the dirty work–pit all your cherries and chop them roughly.  Set aside.

Whisk all your dry ingredients–EXCEPT THE COCOA POWDER AND COCONUT MILK–together.  In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and add the mashed bananas.  Add the dry ingredients a bit at a time until well blended.

Spread the cherries out on the bottom of a greased loaf pan.  Add 2/3 of the batter.

To the other third of the batter still in the bowl, add the 2 T of cocoa and 1 T of coconut milk.     Pour the chocolate batter into the pan and swirl with a knife.

Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes, or until a knife inserted comes out clean.  Cool completely, then CAREFULLY remove the loaf from the pan and serve Cherry-Side-Up.  Enjoy!!

**I have now added a new category for my baked goods and other treats.  When you see “No Sugar Added,” I have added no extra sugars in the form of honey, palm sugar, or maple syrup.  If there is any sweetness in these products, it will be from fruit, sweet potatoes, etc.**

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Peach Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake

Peaches are here!  I very well may have overdone it just a little when I came home from Whole Foods on Friday with two dozen peaches, but I guess that just means I have to get creative.  Damn.

So this recipe wasn’t completely my idea.  Thanks, Pinterest…again.  What can I say?  Makes the work day go by faster.  Wait, what?

I consider this cake quite the accomplishment–Paleo baking of any kind can be a pretty tedious process.  Getting a good texture that’s not too dry or gritty or goopey takes some trial and error.  And then there’s the challenge of getting an entire cake to bake evenly over muffins or even splitting the batter between two, 9-inch pans…and making sure the texture of the batter and the cooking time are sufficient to get the damn thing out of a ribbed bundt pan intact…yeah, ok, I’ll stop.  But know that this cake was a labor of love.  A lot of good peaches went in and will never come back…

What I ended up with is a sinfully rich, not-too-sweet, summery cake with a moist, fine texture.  Nope, no grittiness here!  I also appreciate how peach chunks kind of melt into the batter as it bakes and marbles the whole thing…giving us some AH-mazing little pockets of peachy goodness.  (I really do wish the outside was a lighter golden brown like the wheat-based original, but coconut flour is like that sometimes…and the flavor definitely did NOT suffer).  If you don’t have a bundt pan, just go ahead and bake it into a loaf (it’ll be a helluva lot easier to get out of the pan).  While you’re at it, I bet you could cut it into slice and make a pretty bangin’ almond butter and honey sandwich.  Or French toast…Oh.  Hell.  Yes.

One thing you absolutely cannot change in this cake is the ridiculous amount of butter.  Don’t be Pansy-Bakers.  The butter is what makes this cake.  Butter is what makes life worth living.

INGREDIENTS

3/4 c Coconut Flour

2 T Arrowroot Powder

10 Eggs

1 c Pastured Butter (or Palm Shortening if dairy-free)

1/3 c Raw Honey

4 Ripe Peaches

1 t Sea Salt

1 t Baking Soda

1 Vanilla Bean, split

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk your dry ingredients together and set aside.

Take two of your peaches and cut into chunks.  Using a food processor or blender, puree until you have a peachy slush.  If needed, add a couple of tablespoons of water to help things along.  Cube the other two peaches and set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and honey.  Add the eggs one at a time and beat until frothy and well combined.  Add the peach puree.

Bit by bit, add the dry mixture and continue blending.  With a spoon, mix in the vanilla bean and the last two peaches.

Generously grease a 10-inch bundt pan (or loaf pan) with coconut oil.  Spoon the batter into the pan and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a knife inserted comes out clean.

Serve with coffee.  Lots of coffee.

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The Baconana

Bacon is Life.  Gluten is Death.  Easy.

I should be thankful I get as many long weekends as I do.  Really.  But something about having 4 days off with no complicated plans makes me…well…want to putz around with no complicated plans for the rest of my life.  All I did this weekend was eat, watch reruns of Glee, and do yoga.  And make sweet, sweet love to this cheesecake.  I love my life sometimes.

Oh!  Good news it that I’ve only got a 3-day week.  OK, sometimes I do love my job (though I need to hurry up and publish my Great American Novel so I can just work from home forever)…I’m heading out to Miami for another long weekend.  And after that, I have a very special surprise coming up–some of you will love me, some of you will hate me.  I’m not sorry.  I’m actually getting into it.  Just doing my part for Paleo and the sustainable food movement.  Yep, that’s me!

OK now for the abomination I just pulled out of my toaster oven.  And when I say “abomination,” I really mean “Transgalactically Foodgasmic”.  Not really sure what prompted the wrapping of a banana in bacon at 6:30am.  I’d put it on the same level as putting GI Joes in the microwave–you know, just to see what happens.  Except this is about a bajillion times more edible.  And please don’t try to do it in the microwave.

The end result?  Like…Bananas Foster meets…well, bacon.  And Bacon is Life.

INGREDIENTS

(Makes 1 Baconana)

1 Large Banana

2 Thick Slices of Bacon

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat your oven or toaster oven to 400 degrees F.

Carefully wrap your banana with the bacon and secure with toothpicks.

Place Baconana on a baking sheet and into the oven.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until bacon is nice and crisp around the edges.

Enjoy!

**Do yourself a favor and toss a nice, runny egg on the side.  You won’t be sorry.  And drizzle with a little maple syrup if you’re feelin’ a little frisky.**

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Rutabaga Fries

I really wish the “Food and Drink” section of Pinterest wasn’t full of outlandishly decadent desserts all the friggin time.  It’s killing me.  We’ve got a wedding in Miami next weekend–during which I will be wearing skimpy summertime clothes…and a swimsuit–and it’s fracking killing me.  I’m surprisingly fine without fruit–I’m even good without the green apple and pumpkin ration.  But someone PLEASE GOD IN HEAVEN GIVE ME A TRAY OF PEANUT BUTTER S’MORES BARS.  Or I might kill someone.

On a mildly related note, does it piss anyone else off as much as me the number of things labeled as “healthy”?  Like “ZOMG HEALTHY BREAKFAST IDEA!!!!” under a pic of some sugar and starch laden bastardization of a brownie?  Just because it has oatmeal and peanut butter in it does not make something “healthy.”  “Low fat” is not healthy.  And for the love of God, stop calling sh*t “low calorie”…especially desserts…if it’s a damn dessert it’s going to be bad for you, end of story.  Unless it’s fruit.  But fruit is not a dessert.  Accept your damn cheat meal and move on with your life.  And if you have a board chock full of outlandish desserts, that’s fine, but goddamnit do NOT tell me you ALSO have a “Fitness Inspiration” board full of half naked women with little mantras like, “Never give up!  You will have your dream body one day!” or “To hear the words, ‘Have you lost weight?’” or “Butt-kicking fat loss system!!”  OMG, people.  Are you for real?

Camilla’s Pet Pinterest Peeves.  OK, I’m done.

So I’m actually going to dedicate part of this post to m rutabaga fries.  So good.  I got a bunch of rutabagas by accident the other day–I was looking for turnips and somehow ended up with these.  I’m so smart.  The cashier so kindly offered to let me bring them back but I hate making a scene.  OK, that’s not true.  BUT I took them home and figured, when in doubt, slather them in fat and toss ‘em in the oven.

INGREDIENTS

2 Large Rutabagas

1/4 c Oil or Fat (I used rendered duck fat from earlier in the week)

Coarse Sea Salt

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Wash and dry your rutabagas and trim any roots.  Cut into fries, about 1/4-1/2 inch thick.

Toss the fries in a bowl with fat and salt to taste.  Arrange on baking sheets, no more than 1/2 inch apart.  Bake for 20-25 minutes (depending on how crispy you like them), flipping halfway through.

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Roast Duck w/ Sesame-Ginger Glaze

It was none other than the great Julia Child who taught me to roast a duck.  There’s something so refined about a roast duck–kinda like, “Oh, yeah, I had some time this evening so I ROASTED A DUCK.  And I’m going to serve it on my FINE CHINA with a perfectly paired WINE and CLOTH NAPKINS!”  Never mind that I was all by my lonesome.  And there was neither fine china nor wine nor cloth napkins with which to serve my lovely bird.

When I mentioned it to a co-worker he gave me this look that was part disbelief and part sheer pity.  Whatever, I roast ducks by myself on Friday nights.  That’s the moral of the story.  At least I’m eating well (Mom).  I need to make some friends.

So, duck.  It’s a lot more versatile than most people seem to think…it’s like a really fatty chicken, really, so I wish it wasn’t so intimidating.  Expensive, yes…intimidating, no.  Personally, I’m a fan of duck in sweeter sauces–Julia has a recipe for duck with peaches that I’m DYING to try as soon as they start selling them at our Farmers’ Market–but just a nice marinade of red wine or lemon juice with a little oil, salt, and pepper will turn our beautifully.

This time, I opted for an Asian-style marinade.  It’s nothing crazy and came out tangy and sweet while the skin of the duck was lightly crisped and the meat melt-in-your-mouth-tender.  Obviously, cooking time will differ depending on the size of the duck (mine was almost 5 pounds exactly).  Julia has a nice table of cooking times in her book, but I’ve found that you kind’ve have to eyeball it a little because every oven (and, as I’m learning, altitude) is different.  My 5-pounder took an hour and a half and I let it rest about 10 minutes before I stared carving.  if you’re bird is 4 1/2 pounds, for example, I’d subtract about 10 minutes and test it for doneness.  To tell if it’s cooked through, give the thigh a poke–you want juice that’s either a really light pink (medium-rare) or yellow (well-done).

One last note…SAVE THE FAT!!!  I’ll be posting an extra special duck fat-laden recipe later this week ;)

INGREDIENTS

1 Whole Duck, about 4-6 pounds

1 Medium Onion, quartered

1/4 c Coconut Aminos

1/4 c Rice Vinegar

2 t Fresh Ginger

2 Garlic Cloves, minced

1/4 c Sesame Oil

1/4 t Dry Mustard

INSTRUCTIONS

Wash the duck and pat dry.  Remove the gizzards and the neck (they’re great to toss in a stock or make a pate).  With a sharp fork or knife, prick the skin all over.

Whisk together your oil, vinegar, coconut aminos, ginger, and seasonings.  Brush a quarter of the marinade all over the duck (generously) and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Remove the duck from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature (about 15 minutes).  Place in a large roasting pan, place the onion inside the cavity, and truss the legs with twine.  Brush with another light layer of the marinade.

Place in the oven for 1 hour and 30 minutes (give or take depending on the weight of the bird and oven strength).  Every 20-30 minutes, remove the duck and brush with the remainder of your marinade and baste with rendered fat.  When it is done roasting, remove from the oven, cover with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.

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Paleo Protein Bars

I will never be Crossfit Games caliber.  It’s just the cold, hard truth.  BUT that does NOT mean I’m still not an overly combetitive individual trying every day to get better.  I want to be stronger, I want to be faster, and of course I want to look better (I’m a very superficial person).

In an attempt to take my training a little more seriously I’m honing in on diet (and recovery!) like I never have before–I’ll be continuing to play with principles of the 21DSD and perhaps a summertime Whole30 is on the agenda as well.  I’m enough of a purist that I’m avoiding the protein powders and supplements (I only take Vitamin D and liquid fish oil) and trying to worry less about partitioning nutrients at certain times of day than about the overall quality of my diet.  That being said, a search for the perfect post-workout shot of protein and carbs is a high priority at the moment, especially since it’s a tough nut to crack when you’re looking for whole food items that will keep for a few hours in the car or at the office.  A popular option for a lot of folks in my shoes are nut and nut butter-based snacks, but I’m also wary of consuming too many nuts and nut products because of the high omega-6 content.  Besides, relatively speaking, the protein content of nuts isn’t that high and they have a little too much fat for a PWO fuel.  Everybody is different, but if I get too much fat PWO I feel like I’m going to puke, especially after a tough metcon.  These last few weeks I’ve been doing a hard-boiled eggs and coconut water, which I think is working pretty well but got old after like, a day and a half.

So, this weekend, I started playing around with some good PWO fuel options that I could bake into something portable.  These aren’t anything fancy but they give you a nice hit of protein and starchy carbs (with cinnamon to help with insulin sensitivity!) and can be tossed in a ziploc baggie or tupperware for easy access.

I almost never do macronutrient breakdowns, but in the interest of fitness and the meticulous science that is the PWO fuel debate, I went all the way over to FatSecret and did the legwork for you:

Per bar (based on recipe yielding 12 bars): 101 Calories, 4 g Fat, 22.3 g Carbohydrate, and 6.1 g Protein

INGREDIENTS

(makes 12 bars)

2 Large Yams, shredded

6 Eggs, beaten

2 T Coconut Flour

2 t Cinnamon

1 t Vanilla

1 t Salt

INSTRUCTIONS

In a large bowl, combine the yams with the eggs, coconut flour, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla.  Press the mixture down into a greased 4.8 QT (15x10x2) baking dish.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is browned and there are no liquid bubbles.  Cool completely before cutting into bars.

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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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