Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Prosciutto Stuffed Chicken and Sauteed Asparagus and Fennel with Lemon Caper Sauce, Mixed Greens with Shallot Vinaigrette

We are fortunate to have a local prosciutto maker here in Iowa.  La Queceria is based in Norwalk, about 20 minutes from Des Moines, and has garnered much recognition for their US produced Italian specialty.  The pancetta, as well as their other artisan meats, are excellent.

I have said this before, but I have a serious love affair with lemon.  The flavor combination of the salty prosciutto with the tart lemon, and the earthy fennel and asparagus, is a delightful combination for your taste buds.  

Warm Shallot Vinaigrette

1 tbsp. olive oil
2 shallots, minced
1 tbsp. stone ground mustard
1/2 c. olive oil
1/4 c. Cabernet vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a small sauce pan over medium heat.  Add the shallots and cook, stirring often, until they caramelize, about 15 minutes.  Add the mustard, oil, and vinegar and whisk well until the mixture becomes cohesive.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Prosciutto Stuffed Chicken with Lemon Caper Sauce

2 tbsp. olive oil
4 chicken breasts, pounded thin
4 ounces prosciutto
salt and pepper
1/4 c. capers
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 c. chicken stock
zest of one lemon
4 tbsp. butter

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees.  To prepare the chicken, pound each breast so it is thin and even thickness.  Salt and pepper the inside, place two slices of prosciutto on top of each breast and then roll the breast, securing it with a toothpick if needed.

Heat a large saute pan over medium high with the oil.  Sear the tucked end down first and then sear the other side, about 2 minutes per side.  Remove from the pan and place in a sheet pan and then cover with foil.  Place in oven and allow to cook for an additional 25 minutes or until done.  Set the pan aside and come back to it when you are ready to finish the sauce.

To finish the sauce, return the pan to medium high heat.  Add the capers and cook for about 30 seconds.  Add 1 cup chicken stock and lemon juice and reduce by half.  Add the zest and the butter, whisking until the butter is incorporated well.  Salt and pepper to taste.  This sauce is a little more tart, so if you want a very mild lemon flavor I would double the chicken stock...however, the point of this sauce is to compliment the other flavors in this dish.

Sauteed Asparagus and Fennel

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. of asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 bulbs fennel, core cut halved from the top to the bottom, halved lengthwise, then cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 c. fennel leaves, minced

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat.  Add the fennel and cook until they start to caramelize, about 5 minutes, then add the asparagus.  Reduce the heat to medium and then cook until the are tender, about 10-15 minutes.  Add the minced leaves and salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Blueberry Pancakes

I enjoy having bread once in a while, but as with anything, it really needs to be eaten in moderation, so I am careful when it comes to baked goods with almond and coconut flour.  But I couldn't pass up on some delcious looking plump blueberries the other day and so I just had to make blueberry pancakes.  And I had to cheat a bit by having real maple syrup, locally produced of course.  Heck yes there is maple syrup in Iowa! 

1 c. almond flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 egg
1 tbsp. coconut oil (melted)
1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
6 tbsp. almond milk
1/2 c. blueberries

Mix the almond flour and baking soda together.  Add the egg, coconut oil, lemon juice, and almond milk and mix well.  Fold in the blueberries.  Enjoy!

Friday, January 25, 2013


Fajitas are great because they taste good the first day and even better the second.  Plus, this week Whole Foods had a wonderful rainbow of organic bells in so you can't pass up making fajitas when you can find more than red and green in winter!  I just served mine over lettuce to make a salad and it was filling, but remaining light at the same time.

2 tbsp. avocado oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 bell peppers, seeded and sliced thin
1 lb. flank steak
1 tbsp. salt 
1/2 tbsp. pepper
2 tsp. each of cumin, coriander and Mexican oregano
1/2 tsp. new Mexico chile powder

Mix the salt, pepper, and spices together.  Coat the flank evenly with the mix and marinate at least 4 hours.

Preheat a large saute pan over medium heat and then add the oil.  When you are cooking with avocado oil you need to be careful, as it has a tendency to turn bitter if used at too high of heat.  Add the vegetables and sauté until they are caramelized.  Set aside until you are done with the meat.

Prepare a grill over high heat (around 450) or a grill pan over high.  (My defense for using a grill pan was that it was a balmy high of 7 degrees when I was cooking dinner).  Add the meat and sear each side for about 4 minutes.  Remove from the pan and allow to rest for about 10 minutes.  Slice the steak (thinly) against the grain.  The meat will be rare, but that is how you want it so you can finish it in the sauté pan.  

Return the saute pan over high heat.  When the vegetables start to sizzle, add the meat and stir often to finish cooking the meat to your desired doneness.  I prefer medium rare and it took about 3-5 minutes.

Remove and place mix over a bunch of greens and add your preferred condiments.  Don't forget a squeeze of lime!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Cabbage Rolls with Tomato Cranberry Sauce and Warm Carrot and Cabbage Salad

Tonight I thought I'd try a recipe from Practical Paleo.  It is a great how to, introductory book for those who are just starting to follow Paleo.  I adapted her Cabbage Rolls with Tomato Cranberry Sauce by changing the meat to pork because that is what I happened to have out.  They were good.  Nice and well balanced flavors.  Since her website does not have this recipe, I am not going to post it so you either have to buy the book or borrow it from me.  Sorry...but gotta observe the copyright.  

However, I did have a wonderful warm carrot and cabbage salad to accompany it.  Too much cabbage?  Not even close!

2 tbsp. coconut oil
1 head purple cabbage, sliced thinly
5 carrots, julienned
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp. raw honey
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Add the carrots and cabbage and cook until crisp tender.  Mix the honey and vinegar together and then add to the cabbage.  Continue to cook until the liquid is absorbed.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Berry Cobbler

I love berry cobblers.  The warm, bubbly, slightly sweet berry mix with a great dough on top can't be beat.  Especially when it is 12 degrees out side.  I have made a single serving type crisp, but this time I did a butter (Kerry Gold: grass fed cows!) dough to make more of a cobbler.  Lucky me I had frozen some organic cherries this summer...it made me at least think of warmer weather when I was eating it last night...and this morning for breakfast...and possibly for dessert again tonight.  Just lovely it is.

4 c. mixed berries
2 tbsp. arrowroot
2 c. almond flour
4 ounces butter, sliced and then cubed
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 c. sliced almonds
2 tbsp. raw honey

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Mix the berries with the arrowroot evenly, and then place in a 9 x 13 pan.  Mix almond flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg together.  Using a pastry blender, mix in the butter so the butter pieces get to about pea size pieces.  Add the almonds and fold well.  Place the mixture over the top of the berries, and then drizzle the honey over the top evenly.
Cook for about 30-45 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the berries are bubbling.  Mine took about 45 minutes because I used frozen cherries.
Serve with vanilla almond ice cream!


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Perfect Roasted Vegetables

Roasted vegetables are easy.  And they bring such a great flavor to, sometimes, normally bland steamed     vegetables.  If you were going to say boil you can take that right out of your vocabulary, yuck!

2 tbsp. olive oil
4 c. vegetables, uniform in size
2 tbsp. fresh herbs (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

For the vegetables, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Chop any vegetable (s) so they are uniform in size.  Coat with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.  Place in oven and cook 15-25 minutes until they are tender.  It is important to cook vegetables that are similar in crispness so one doesn't get done before the other.  If you want to use a variety (some crisp, some tender), cook the crisper ones for about 10 minutes and then add the others.

Bacon Cheese Meatloaf with Braised Greens and Root Vegetables

Meatloaf?  Seriously?  Easy, right?  One would think..but like anything ground, it can turn out dry if not done correctly.  Just like a hamburger, your ground needs to be 85% meat, 15% fat or it just won't work.  Sorry, that is another Wyoming beef snobbery issue I have.  Anyway, the right ground, good seasonings, add bacon and cheese and you are in meatloaf heaven.

1 lb. ground beef
2 eggs
1/2 c. almond flour
1 tbsp. creole 
1 tbsp. tarragon
1/2 tbsp. salt
4 oz. raw Gouda, sliced thinly
4 pieces bacon

2 tbsp. olive oil
12 cups mixed greens (Kale, bok choy and arugula go surprisingly well together!)
1/2 beef stock

Mix the beef, eggs, flour and seasons together gently, almost as if you are folding the meat.  Place half of the meat in a bread pan and lightly poke holes in it.  Layer the Gouda, salt and pepper a bit, and then put remaining beef on top, again gently poking holes.  Top with slices of bacon that have been cut in half.  Bake 45-55 minutes or until the meatloaf is almost cooked through.  I prefer medium on my meatloaf, so the very center throughout is a light pink.

Perfect roasted vegetables here.

Preheat large saute pan over medium heat and add the olive oil.  Add the greens and stir so they are evenly coated, then add the stock.  Put a lid on the pan, reduce the heat to medium low, and cook until all of the greens are tender.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  

Honey Mustard Chicken Thighs

Many people overlook the delicious taste of chicken thighs. They are moist and flavorfully balanced.  I know they are a little more fatty than a breast, but once in awhile it is worth it.  Plus, if you know where you are getting your chicken from, you know that you are eating a healthy bird.  I have a toss up between my favorite two...honey mustard or balsamic.  Tonight I opted for the honey mustard.  It won't disappoint.

1/2 c. chicken stock
1/2 c. raw honey
1/4-1/3 c. stone ground mustard
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper

Mixed ingredients together and put in a ziplock back with chicken thighs.  Allow to marinate all day.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place thighs evenly in a 9 x 13 pan and then remaining marinade.  Bake for about 45-60 minutes or until the skin is deep golden brown and the thighs are done.  

Serve with remaining marinade if you want, but this chicken is so moist you won't need it...although, it would make a darn good chicken gravy for mashed cauliflower!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Perfect Bacon

I don't care what people say about pork...bacon is GOOD.  I know where mine comes from, how it is raised, and even the people who raise them so I feel pretty dang good about eating it.  But as with anything, moderation is important, and although you will be sorely tempted, eating this whole pan is probably not a good idea!

Cooking bacon, albeit seemingly easy, does require some degree of patience.  Here is my recipe for perfection.

1/2 lb. bacon
1/4 c. real maple syrup
2 tsp. fresh ground pepper

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees.  Place a cooling rack inside of a sheet pan and put bacon strips on rack.  This allows the fat to drip and for them to cook evenly.  Using a basting brush, light coat each strip with maple syrup and then generously pepper.  Cook about 10-15 minutes, depending on thickness, and to your desired doneness.

When it isn't so freaking cold outside, I prefer to do this on the grill because I hate smelling like bacon two days later...regardless of the ventilation, it still lingers through the whole house!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Perfect Chunky Tomato Basil Sauce

With four children, spaghetti with red sauce is a staple.  When I started Paleo, I knew it was going to be hard to get them on board.  And it is, but we are taking baby steps.  The hardest part is that in the past I always made my own pasta, so I was worried that finding an acceptable gluten free option might end up being a problem.  Fortunately there are quite a few good brands out there with minimal ingredients.  I stick with organic, and prefer brown rice for the rest of the family.  For me I usually julienne long strips zucchini or yellow squash, or I cook up a spaghetti squash.  The options are endless as long as the vegetable is long.  

Anyway, a perfect, quick tomato basil sauce is hard to beat.  

2 tbsp. olive oil
4 clove garlic, minced
32 ounce can whole tomatoes in tomato juice
1/4 c. minced parsley
1/2 c. chiffonade basil
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Over medium heat in a large sauté pan, cook garlic until is starts to golden and is very fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Be careful, you don't want garlic to burn.  Add the tomatoes and break apart with a wooden spoon.  Increase heat to high and then bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook, stirring once in a while, about 15 minutes or until liquid is almost all reduced.

Add parsley, basil and balsamic, cooking for another 2-3 minutes.  Salt and pepper to taste.