March 29, 2012

Spinach Shiitake Burgers



Finally, time for a new recipe! It's so convenient that I had to be in class today (instead of work) and in order to get there I didn't have to leave until 12.30 PM. That way I had lots of time to enjoy myself in the kitchen in the AM.
A few months ago, I found this recipe for 'Green Pork & Shiitake Sliders' on'the Nom Nom Paleo website. After reading it, I decided I wanted to make these burgers. However, a few things needed to be adapted because I can't get any Red Boat Fish Sauce nor Coconut Aminos over here. (Note to self: bring some from my next trip to the USA)
Oh and I'm not really into celery either, and more importantly: I'm intolerant to pork. I only make an exception for bacon every now and then, because that's just worth it. I'm still praying this is just a temporary intolerance.
All in all, I had to make some major changes to the recipe so I decided to make my own version. It worked! It doesn't cost nearly as much time to make these, and they're well worth the effort. I'll be making these again, that's for sure.
Spinach Shiitake Burgers (serves 4)
Ingredients:
- 3 large handfulls of fresh spinach
- 1 medium red onion, minced
- 5 large shiitake mushrooms, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 500g ground beef
- 1 egg
- 8g fresh cilantro (a small bunch), finely chopped
- 3 heaping tablespoons desiccated coconut
- 1/2 tsp salt
- freshly ground peppercorns to taste
- 1 tsp garlic powder
1. Heat 1 tsp of the coconut oil in a skillet and stir-fry the spinach until just wilted. Transfer to a plate and allow to cool for a few minutes.
2. Heat 2 tsp of the coconut oil in the skillet and stir-fry the minced onion and shiitakes until soft, this will only take a few minutes.
3. Finely chop the spinach with a sharp knife.
4. Add the ground beef along with the spinach, onions and shiitakes, egg, cilantro, coconut, salt and pepper and garlic to a large bowl.
5. Mix everything with your hands until well-combined.
6. Divide the mixture into 4-8 equal pieces, rol each piece into a ball and flatten them on a plate to make burgers.
7. Heat the remaining coconut oil in a frying pan and fry the burgers for 3-5 minutes on eacht side (depending on the thickness of your burgers) over medium heat until browned and cooked.
8. Serve with veggies of your choice and enjoy!

March 15, 2012

[CrockPot] Moroccan chicken stew



Today I used my CrockPot slowcooker for the 2nd time. I loved coming home to a hot meal, ready to eat. Especially since it tasted good too!
For the recipe, I basically threw some chicken and veggies in that were lying around in my fridge, added some spices and it actually worked out really well.
It's completely Paleo, it tastes good and it only took me 10 minutes to make just because I had to chop the vegetables. It doesn't get easier than that! Moreover, who says cooking paleo meals is time-consuming? Just invest in a slowcooker and you'll have a number of meals before you know it. All you have to do is put it on and in the mean time you can go about your daily business. No cooking stress whatsoever!
[CrockPot] Moroccan chicken stew (serves 2)
Ingredients:
- 2 chicken breasts (approx. 200g each)
- 2 onions, cut in half and thinly sliced
- 1 zucchini, diced
- 1 eggplant, diced
- 150g cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 tsp Ras Al Hanout
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp powdered garlic
- 1/4 tsp curcuma
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp creamed coconut concentrate, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
1. Put the chicken breasts on the bottom of the Crockpot and divide the onions over them. Throw in the dried herbs and spices, and the chopped coconut cream concentrate.
2. Divide the other vegetables over the chicken and put the lid on.
3. Cook on low for 8 hours.
4. Shred the chicken with a fork at the end of the cooking time and mix well.
5. Divide the dish over 2 plates and garnish with fresh cilantro. Enjoy!

March 12, 2012

Stuffed peppers




I aquired a 'thing' for peppers lately. I love them! Oven roasted or sauteed over low heat with some onions.
Today I made stuffed peppers. The recipe below serves 1 person, but of course you can make as many as you wish; just double the recipe.
These peppers are very convenient to serve when hosting a dinner. They look impressive, are easy to prepare and you don't have to worry about them while they're in the oven. (in the mean time you can whip up some side dishes, or if you're well-prepared, chat with your guests)
I'm keeping today's post short. I'm about to head to bed, after all, sleep is important.
Stuffed peppers (serves 1)
Ingredients:
- 1 large, red bell pepper
- 150g ground beef
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 tbsp raisins
- 1/2 tsp curry powder
- 1/4 tsp beef seasoning
- 1 handful fresh spinach leaves
- 1 egg
1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
2. Rinse pepper, cut off the top and remove the seeds. Put the pepper in a shallow oven dish and bake for 15 minutes.
3. In the mean time, chop up the top of the pepper, except for the stem.
4. Heat a skillet over high heat and brown the ground beef. Add the chopped onion, pieces of pepper and spices and sautee until the veggies are softening.
5. Add raisins and stir in the spinach until it's starting to wilt. Remove the pan from the heat to cool.
6. After approx. 10 minutes, stir the egg into the beef mixture.
7. Remove the pepper from the oven and stuff it with the beef and egg mixture. Put it back into the oven and bake for approx. 50 minutes until soft and done.
8. Serve hot and enjoy!

March 11, 2012

Homemade bacon


Today, I'm not posting a recipe of my own, but something I made for the first time last week. And it was a succes.

Bacon!

Up until 2 days ago, I was convinced everyone loves bacon. Except for vegetarians and vegans, but even they sometimes eat fake bacon. Yet, I was wrong!
During lunch at work, one of my colleagues had bought a salad at the restaurant, which came with 3 rashers of bacon. She put them on the side of her plate.
I couldn't resist asking: 'Aren't you going to eat those?'. 'No, I don't really like those' she replied. Guess who ended up enjoying her bacon?? ;-)

Making my own bacon was something I'd wanted to do for quite a while now. After all, most store-bought bacon isn't that healthy because of the large amount of additives and perhaps even a bigger load of salt. My parents once gave me a chunk of pork belly from their butcher, that piece had been in my freezer for a while now.
Making your own bacon isn't something you do within a day, no, it takes 8 days before you can enjoy your bacon. It's worth it.
Really worth it.

I made my bacon by following Jen's Gone Paleo's recipe for 'Homemade bacon'. It just doesn't make sense for me to post my own recipe. This one works.
All I can do is give you some tips:
- Make sure to use a meat thermometer.
- Use a sharp knife so you can nicely slice your bacon.
- Try this and enjoy it!

All there's left for me to share are some pictures.



March 7, 2012

Eggs in pepper rings with bacon



Breakfast has always been my favourite meal of the day, and the biggest one to be honest. Right after switching to a Paleo nutrition, my breakfast mostly consisted of fruit. I ate about 5 pieces of fruit in the morning, along with a handful of nuts. The thought of having meat or eggs for breakfast just hadn't occured to me. Since the fruit wasn't able to keep me going until lunch at all and I suffered from a blood sugar crash around 11AM, I decided to do things differently.


I started having eggs for breakfast. I figured 2 eggs would be enough, along with some fruit and nuts. I didn't get that blood sugar crash anymore, but instead I just got really hungry around 11AM. I gradually started increasing protein and fat in my breakfast, and instead of fruit, I started eating a large amount of vegetables. That's the way I've been eating for years now, and it still works for me. I feel energized all morning, don't need a big lunch, am seldomly really hungry and what's even better is that I no longer suffer from any blood sugar crashes at all.


Last week I figured that frying eggs wasn't all that convenient: when breaking an egg, it never really ends up nice and round. The egg white just runs everywhere and it doesn't look pretty when you intend to use your egg to top a hamburger with. I know there are some silicon molds available to get the job done, but I didn't feel like buying those. While browsing online, I stumbled upon something else: cut a bell pepper into rings and use it to hold your egg together. It's a simple idea, yet convenient and it tastes good too. As seen on the pictures below, some egg white still ran under the pepper rings, but most of it stayed nicely inside. Of course I couldn't resist adding some bacon..






Eggs in pepper rings with bacon


Ingredients:
- 1 red bell pepper
- 30g bacon pieces
- 3 eggs
- 2 tsp coconut oil


1. Rinse the pepper, cut off the top and bottom and remove the seeds. Cut the pepper into 3 rings of approx. 1,5 cm (a little more than 1/2 inch) thick.
2. Heat coconut oil in a frying pan and fry the pepper rings over medium heat on one sice.
3. Flip the rings and divide half of the bacon pieces over them.
4. Carefully crack an egg above each ring and divide the other half of the bacon over them.
5. Fry for approx. 10-15 minutes over medium heat, until the whites have set, but the yolks are still runny.
6. Serve hot and enjoy!


March 5, 2012

Meatza!



Despite the fact I haven't been eating any milk products or gluten for over 5 years now, and no grains at all over the last 3 years. There still was something I used to miss, especially after just having cut out grains and milk from my diet. Pizza. It's a kind of comfort food, something that's just an easy meal, but even something as simple as that can be missed at times.
Not because of the grains and cheese, but mostly because you used to enjoy making and eating it. Every once in a while, my mom and me would go into the kitchen on a Sunday morning and would create a huge pizza. As big as the oven's baking tray. We made a thick base and a loaded it with a huge amount and variety of toppings. Our pizza was the best. Mostly because we'd made it ourselves.
After I had just started my diet, there have been some more or less failed attempts at recreating a pizza. The base usually ended up a little dry and the vegetarian cheese that was on top wasn't that much of a success either. I actually gave up the dream of making a pizza, and accepted that it was just something from the past. Until this weekend.
I'd read about the 'Meatza' in a couple of paleo cookbooks already. It looked good; pizza with a meat crust. I love meat. Yum! And because I had been wondering what I'd make with ground beef this time (making hamburgers every weekend is yummy, but some variety never hurts), I remembered this all of a sudden. So I decided to make my own take on the meatza.
And it worked. It was yummy, and so much better than a regular pizza. Plus, the whole process of making it and picking out the toppings was equally fun at the least.
Meatza (serves 2)
Ingredients:
- 500g ground beef
- 4 tbsp dried Italian herbs
- 1 tsp powdered garlic
- salt to taste
- 1 can of diced tomatoes
- 125g bacon pieces
- 1 onion
- 1/2 red bell pepper
1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
2. Mix the ground beef with 2 tbsp Italian herbs, garlic and salt in a bowl. Knead into a large ball.
3. Put the ball on the baking tray and flatten it with damp hands until you end up with a round, 1/2 cm thick piece of meat, about the size of a pizza.
4. Bake your 'pizza' base approx. 15 minutes until done.
5. Allow the base to cool for a while before carefully draining the fat that has come out of the meat from the baking tray.
6. Pour the diced tomatoes into a saucepan and add 1 tbsp Italian herbs. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for approx. 15 minutes, until thickened to your liking.
7. In the mean time, chop the onion and pepper into thin strips.
8. Put a skillet over medium heat and sautee the bacon until it starts to turn light brown, add onion and pepper.
9. Stir the bacon and veggie mixture regularly, until the vegetables have softened.
10. Spoon the tomato sauce over the meat base and divide the bacon and vegetable mixture over it. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tbsp of Italian herbs over it.
11. Bake your meatza for approx. 10-15 minutes until the sides start to brown.
12. Cut the meatza in half, serve and enjoy!

March 1, 2012

Bacon wrapped dates, but better



And it's time for a new recipe!
Cooking is what's kept me busy last weekend: I made party snacks for 50 people. Yes, that is quite a lot of work. I spent 6 hours in the kitchen. (and still needed help in the last hour just to get everything done on time)
These were on the menu: mini-muffins with chocolate frosting, puff pastry filled with bacon, apple and onion, smoked salmon with guacamole, meatballs, chicken skewers and bacon wrapped dates.
That last one is my favourite. Dates with bacon. Sweet and salty, meat and fruit, not all hearty, not all sweet. The best of both worlds. In my opinion, it couldn't get much better. Oh how I'd have loved to have eaten the whole dish with approx. 60 dates all on my own. Only if I hadn't known that they were actually meant for others to enjoy. (I won't deny 'test tasting' a few though)
Until someone gave me a tip: stuff the dates with a dried apricot. That sounded interesting. I also enjoy dried apricots, but I was a little wary for them to cover up the taste of either the dates or the bacon.
A few days ago, I found organic bacon in a store. On sale. Meaning I couldn't go without buying it. When the weekend was over I still found myself craving for dates with bacon, and I just so happened to have those at home, along with some dried apricots. The bacon was about to go past its sell-by date, the dates had been calling my name for days from the drawer they were in, so I decided to give it a go and create apricot stuffed bacon wrapped dates.
All my doubts were immediately blown away: this is even better.

Apricot stuffed bacon wrapped dates (10 pieces)

Ingredients:
- 10 dates
- 5 dried apricots
- 5 strips of bacon
1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
2. Make an incision in the dates lengthwise and remove the pit.
3. Cut the apricots in half and stuff each date with a piece of apricot.
4. Cut the strips of bacon in half and wrap each piece around a stuffed date.
5. Place the dates onto the prepared baking tray and bake them in the middle of the oven until the bacon starts to crisp, approx. 15 minutes.
6. Allow to cool for a few minutes, serve and enjoy!