Saturday, September 29, 2012

Tortilla Española

Whoa! It's been way too long since I posted a recipe. I've been crazy busy, but still trying to eat the best I can. It hasn't been easy, and after eating some-what junky the past week, I can tell a difference. I haven't consumed any wheat or grains, but I've had to make a few comprises for the sake of time. And a lot of that has meant eating take-out or on-the-go with all the bad oils and added processed ingredients. I'm not miserable, but I'm not feeling 100% my best either. I've got to get back with the regularly scheduled program and find the time for quick meals that will get me back on track. Here's a great idea for breakfast. If you've never had it, Tortilla Española is like a giant pie-shaped omelet. You can easily add other veggies or even sausage to change up the flavor a little. And this isn't too bad to eat cold or it can reheat so you have a couple breakfast or lunch servings for when you're running late. The recipe looks long, but really it's just super detailed step-by-step so that hopefully you can follow along easily.

Tortilla Española
6 medium potatoes, peeled
1 whole yellow onion, peeled
6 large eggs
6 tbsp ghee
1 tsp paprika
Salt, to taste

Cut the peeled potatoes in half lengthwise. Then, with the flat side on the cutting surface, slice the potato in pieces approximately ⅛ in thick (think half moon shapes). If you slice them a bit thick, don’t worry—it will simply take a bit longer for them to cook. Peel and chop the onion into ¼ in pieces. Put potatoes and onions into a bowl and mix them together. Salt the mixture.

In a large, heavy, non-stick frying pan, heat half the ghee on medium high heat. Carefully place the potato and onion mixture into the frying pan, spreading them evenly over the surface. You may need to turn down the heat slightly, so the potatoes do not burn. Leave in pan until the potatoes are cooked, stirring occasionally. Add more ghee if necessary to keep potatoes from sticking. If you can poke a piece of potato with a spatula and it easily breaks in two, your potatoes are done. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon or spatula.

Crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl and beat by hand with a whisk or fork. Pour in the potato onion mixture. Mix together with a large spoon. Add salt and paprika.

Add ghee to a medium, non-stick frying pan (aprox. 9-10 in) and heat on medium heat. It helps if the sides are curved or rounded on the inside. Be careful not to get the pan too hot because the oil will burn—or the tortilla will! When hot, stir the potato onion mixture once more and add to the pan and spread out evenly. Allow the egg to cook around the edges. Then you can carefully lift up one side of the omelet to check if the egg has cooked around the edges. The inside of the mixture should not be completely cooked and the egg will still be runny.

When the mixture has cooked on the bottom, you are ready to turn it over to cook the other side. Two methods. Traditional method: Take the frying pan to a sink. Place a large dinner plate upside down over the frying pan. With one hand on the frying pan handle and the other on top of the plate to hold it steady, quickly turn the frying pan over and the omelet will fall onto the plate. Place the frying pan back on the range and put just enough oil to cover the bottom and sides of the pan. Let the pan warm for 30 seconds or so. Now slide the omelet into the frying pan. Use the spatula to shape the sides of the omelet. Let the omelet cook for 3-4 minutes. Turn the heat off and let the tortilla sit in the pan for 2 minutes. Less fuss method: Put the oven-safe skillet in a preheated oven at 375°F for 10-15 minutes until the egg is cooked through. Keep an eye on it to avoid drying it out!

Slide the omelet onto a plate to serve. Cut into wedges.

(Based off the Tortilla Española recipe at

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Good Morning Breakfast Skillet

This started out as “I need to clean out the fridge and it’s time for breakfast, so let’s see what we’ve got!” But it turned out delicious so I figured out the amounts so that I could post the recipe here. Because it’s a hodge-podge kind of dish, you can follow the recipe exactly or you can choose to substitute items for what you have on hand. This dish works great in a cast iron skillet, but if you don’t have one, don’t be deterred. Just use a regular skillet and keep it hot.

Good Morning Breakfast Skillet
2-3 tbsp ghee
4-5 small red potatoes, chopped small
1 small-medium onion, sliced into half-moons
½ bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
4-5 mushrooms, sliced thin
½ cup link sausage, sliced and cooked*
2-3 eggs
Salt, pepper, and paprika, to taste
Heat two-thirds of the ghee in a skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes and salt. Cook until potatoes are about half-cooked (the outside is starting to get soft, but the middle isn't quite tender yet) and add onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms. Add salt, pepper, and paprika to taste. When vegetables are almost desired doneness and potatoes are cooked through, add sausage and cook just enough to re-warm. Cook eggs in desired manner (I prefer over-medium seasoned with salt, pepper, and paprika for this dish because there are tons of ingredients to sop up the yolk!) and place over vegetable mixture. Serve.

*Pretty much any sausage, ground or sliced, will work in this dish. I used sliced Gaspar's linguiça, but you could use Portuguese or Mexican chorizo, regular breakfast sausage, etc. What you use for your sausage of choice can really change up the dish!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Garden Pepper Chili

The weather is slowly but surely cooling off, and it's been rather rainy. This is the perfect time for chili. Luckily I had a few peppers ready in my garden and time this weekend to whip up a pot. This is a pretty mild tasting chili, but it has a good taste. The emphasis here is on the different pepper flavors which meld together really well and make for a chunky-style chili without the beans. So if you like spicier chili, add some spicier peppers or increase the amount of cayenne pepper or even add red pepper flakes. This is a great start, but if you'd like your chili even chunkier, up the amount of peppers, onions, and tomatoes.

Garden Pepper Chili
2 lbs ground beef
2 tbsp butter
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and chopped
½ poblano pepper, seeded and chopped
2 red fresno peppers, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
4 cherry peppers, seeded and chopped
4-5 medium vine-ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
2-14 oz cans tomato sauce
1 small can green chili peppers, diced
2 heaping tbsp cumin
1-2 tbsp chili powder
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1-2 tsp chili pepper paste (like Sriracha)
salt and pepper to taste
½ 8 oz can tomato paste

Brown the ground beef in a large pot. Once most of the meat has browned, add butter if necessary, onion, bell peppers, and garlic. Lightly cook until edges of vegetables appear soft. Add poblano, red fresno, jalapeño, and cherry peppers, tomatoes, tomato sauce, green chili peppers, and seasonings. Cook on a low simmer for 1-2 hours until vegetables are soft. Add tomato paste and simmer for another ½ hour. Serve with desired toppings like cheese or sour cream.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Curried Pumpkin Soup with Seared Scallops

Another pumpkin recipe? Yep, it's fall and I'm surrounded with pumpkins and pumpkin dishes everywhere I look. Good thing pumpkin is definitely a healthy dish and it's very versatile. This take on pumpkin is a mix between sweet and savory, but it's a good combination. You have the semi-sweet taste of cooked pumpkin with the highlights of coriander and curry mixed with the saltiness of the scallops and the tang of sour cream. If you're not too keen on the curry, there's no harm in taking it out and upping the salt and pepper for a different taste.

Curried Pumpkin Soup with Seared Scallops
2-3 tbsp coconut oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh, ground ginger
1 tsp curry powder
¼ tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 (15 ounce) can pure pumpkin
1 (15 ounce) can coconut milk
½ tsp salt, plus more to taste
1 tbsp coconut oil or ghee
1 lb scallops, rinsed and patted dry
Sour cream or Greek yogurt, to serve

Heat the coconut oil in a medium saucepan. Add the onion and saute until the edges turn translucent. Add the garlic and ginger and saute for 2-3 more minutes. Add the dry spices except for the salt to the pan and cook an additional minute or two until the spices turn fragrant. Add the pumpkin and coconut milk and slowly stir until thoroughly combined. Add salt. Continue to heat the soup and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Using a food processor or immersion blender, blend the soup (in small batches if necessary) until the mixture is an even puree consistency. Heat the remaining coconut oil or ghee in a sauce pan. Salt scallops. When the oil is very hot, add the scallops to pan and leave to sear 2-3 minutes. When the side looks lightly browned, flip the scallops and repeat. Try to leave the scallops alone while they are cooking so that a nice crust will develop. Prepare bowl of soup and top with scallops. Serve with a topping of sour cream or Greek yogurt if desired.

*Make it AIP-friendly!
Use an AIP-friendly curry powder (seeded or seedless recipes can be found here) and skip the red pepper flakes and coriander (if going seedless). Skip the sour cream/yogurt garnish.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Stuffed Pepper Boats

There are probably tons of different recipes for stuffed peppers floating all over the internet. There's no doubt that most of them that I've tried are good. But usually they either have rice in them or they taste too much like spaghetti sauce. Now don't get me wrong, I love a good spaghetti sauce. But I like a good spaghetti sauce in a spaghetti dish (with rice noodles or squash noodles now that I no longer eat the traditional spaghetti); I don't want spaghetti sauce in my stuffed peppers. And I don't really have a problem with rice, except that it just tastes like filler in a pepper. I want my filling to be nice and meaty to compliment the pepper cup. So I got a little creative with this recipe and used a white wine base to give a slightly sweet hint to the usual savory. And if you're like me and don't like tons of leftovers that you'll be eating for days or you're looking for meals you can prepare ahead, these freeze wonderfully. Just skip the cheese topping and wrap the individual pepper halves tightly with wax paper or saran wrap and place in freezer bags. When you're ready to cook, top with cheese and place in a preheated oven until the internal temperature is 160°F.

Stuffed Pepper Boats
1 tbsp ghee
1 lb ground Italian sausage (mild or hot)
1 medium onion, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tsp Italian seasoning
3-4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or minced
½ scant cup of dry white wine
1 tbsp basil, chopped
½ tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
2-3 firm bell peppers
Parmesan cheese, to top

Important: If you have the time, I highly recommend putting the sausage mixture into the fridge for a few hours; either prepare the filling in the morning or the night before or at least several hours before serving. There are two benefits: the flavors in the filling have time to meld together and really improve the taste and the cold filling holds together much better and makes for an easier time stuffing the sausage. This isn’t a required step, but just a recommendation.

In a large skillet, heat ghee. Add Italian sausage and brown. When most of the chunks are browned, add onions, salt and pepper, and Italian seasoning. When the onions start to look translucent, add tomatoes. Cook 3-5 minutes and add garlic. Cook about 1 minute until garlic is very fragrant. Add white wine to the pan. Scrape up browned bits from the bottom of the pan and allow dish to simmer approximately 10 minutes on medium heat. The wine should slightly thicken and most of the liquid should cook off. Add basil and parsley and cook another minute. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Preheat the oven to 375°F. For the stuffing of the peppers, the size of the bell peppers will determine how many you need. Bigger ones while require more filling so you’ll need fewer “boats”. Cut the bell peppers in half lengthwise. It helps to figure out first which sides will remain as flat as possible and try to make them the bottoms. If not, shave off a little of the side to create a flat bottom; be careful not to create a hole in the side. Keeping the stem intact, cut out the seeds and the membranes. Stuff the pepper with desired amount of stuffing, trying to pack it in without breaking the pepper. Top with cheese if desired. Place in a small foil-lined pan or baking dish and cook in the upper part of the oven for 25-30 minutes until the cheese is melted and the internal temperature is 160°F.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Asian-style Beef and Mushroom Soup

I am most often not a fan of leftovers. Most of the time, they just never taste as quite as good as when freshly made or I've already had the meal twice by now and I'm ready for something else. But even worse, I'm not a fan of throwing out old food and completely wasting something that was otherwise good food. Right now this is great news for my sister. When I make a dish that has multiple servings, I tend to eat it a couple times and then package it up for her to pick up on the weekends to take with her back to school. But I'm also on a budget so lately I've been focusing on reincorporating leftovers into a completely different meal. The Crying Tiger was delicious. I had enough meat for dinner, lunch the next day, and then some still leftover. But I ran out of sauce and the desire to eat more Crying Tiger. Plus I had to use up some mushrooms, and I have a ton of beef broth stored in the freezer. The combination just works. Beef and mushroom soup, anyone?

Asian-style Beef and Mushroom Soup
1 tsp ghee
1-2 tsp sesame seed oil
1 tsp ginger, crushed
1 tsp garlic, minced or crushed
1 large shallot, sliced thin
5-6 large baby portabella mushrooms, sliced thin
4 cups beef broth (preferably homemade)
1 can whole straw mushrooms, drained and rinsed
1½ cups cooked beef*
Salt, to taste**
Fresh basil and spinach or spring onions, to serve (optional)

Heat ghee and sesame seed oil in medium saucepan. Add shallot slices. Cook 1 minute and add ginger, garlic and portabella mushrooms. Continue cooking until mushrooms start to wilt. Add beef broth and straw mushrooms. Simmer 15-20 minutes. When heated, add cooked beef until heated through, approximately 5 minutes depending on size of meat pieces. Serve with fresh spinach and basil. The heat of the soup will lightly cook the leaves.

*I used leftover slices of beef from the Crying Tiger recipe. Any leftover steak or stew meat pieces sliced or cut into strips or chunks will work in this dish. The Crying Tiger was an Asian-style marinated beef so just keep in mind marinades if you decide to use leftovers. It may alter the taste of the soup.
**Salt to taste especially if using a homemade broth. I do not salt my broth so that I have more control when cooking. But be careful not to over salt! 

*Make it AIP-friendly!
Substitute coconut oil for the ghee. Skip the sesame seed oil if you are going seedless. Use some coconut aminos instead. Use any cooked beef that is nightshade-free. Optional: Squeeze fresh lime juice over the top before serving for extra flavor.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Pumpkin Pie Yogurt

This was not the recipe I had intended to post today, but it came out so well that I really couldn't resist. I can credit its creation to two things: 1) fall and 2) acid reflux. I know, I know. How can these both possibly have influenced such a delicious treat? Let me explain. After Labor Day passes, everybody pretty much switches over to fall mode, regardless of the weather. So everywhere you look, everybody's blogging and social networking about pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice, especially those amazing Pumpkin Spice Lattes from Starbucks. So yep, there's already pumpkin in the fridge and pantry in this kitchen. And then I woke up at 3 am this morning with horrible acid reflux, most probably a result from indulging in a few too many tortilla chips while out with friends the other night. The acid reflux has been coming and going since then, and Tums just weren't cutting it anymore. So I needed a new approach and figured since food got me in this mess, the right food might be able to get me out of it. Now I know that ginger is great for digestive issues of all kinds, but I've had a few different teas and they're rough to get down. And then I started thinking that probiotics are great for digestive issues also (Activia, anyone?). Greek yogurt is so much easier to eat than drinking a ginger tea, so I wondered if I couldn't just combine the two and add some spices to enhance the flavor. The result was basically a pumpkin pie spice yogurt. And then the lightbulb moment: I have pumpkin in the fridge! Even if my weird reflux remedy isn't successful, the taste makes it so worth it!

Pumpkin Pie Yogurt
1 cup full-fat, plain Greek yogurt
5 tbsp canned pumpkin puree (not the pumpkin pie mix)
1-2 tsp honey (preferably raw and/or local)
½ tsp fresh, crushed ginger*
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
Dash or two of ground cloves

Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly in a small serving dish. Garnish with a dash of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice if desired and serve.

*You could also use ¼ tsp ground ginger or instead of creating your own spice mixture, use a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice. Adjust the level of spice to your preference. You can also add a dash or two of ground cardamom for a Pumpkin Pie Chai taste. If you're looking for acid reflux or indigestion relief, I used approximately a teaspoon and a half of fresh ginger.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Crying Tiger

Yikes! It's been a whole week since my last post! I'm a little behind because I started school, and I've been trying to adjust to a much busier schedule. The good news is that I took the time yesterday to grocery shop and plan meals for during the week so while the posting may continue to be a tad bit spotty while I figure things out, I should hopefully be more consistent than this past week. Now on to the good stuff—the food!

This is my first recipe suggestion for the blog! If you've never had Crying Tiger, then you're missing out. It's a Thai beef usually cooked over a grill and served with veggies and rice and a spicy Thai chili sauce. If you're not eating rice, then load up on the veggie platter; some ideas include Thai basil, mint, cilantro, cucumber slices, spinach, onions (spring onions or regular), or even lettuce. Lettuce turns this meal into a great wrap for a delicious lunch too; romaine leaves are perfect because they are long and narrow but still hold up and have a satisfying crunch. You really can get a little creative with this recipe. The main focus is the marinated meat and the sauce. In my opinion, its the sauce that makes the meal. Now I can't take full credit for the recipe. I adapted it from an email I received from my younger brother. But he can't remember where he got the recipe from, so he can't exactly take full credit either. My adaptations were mostly for ease of locating items at the grocery store, and one or two for taste. Let me know what you think!

Crying Tiger
1½ lbs. thinly cut steak*
½ tsp coriander
1 tsp garlic powder
Ground black pepper
4 tbsp fish sauce
3 tbsp wheat-free tamari (soy-sauce substitute)
1 tbsp honey
1-2 spring onions (scallion or green onion), sliced

Dipping Sauce
1 tbsp sriracha (also called Rooster Sauce)
½ tbsp coriander
1 tbsp fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped spring onions
¼ cup fish sauce
5 tbsp lime juice

Important: If you can, make the dipping sauce the day before. If not, at least make it the morning of so that it has time to sit together and allow the flavors to meld. You can also marinade the meat at the same time, but at a minimum, make the marinade for the meat an hour in advance of cooking.

Slice the steak diagonally across the grain into approximately ¼-½ inch strips. If the strips are too long, cut in half so that they are about 3-4 inches in length. Place in a gallon size bag or marinating container. Season with coriander, garlic powder, and black pepper. Do not add salt; the fish sauce and tamari have plenty. Make sure the seasonings have coated the meat and add the fish sauce, tamari, honey, and spring onions. If using a gallon-size bag, close up and massage all the ingredients into the meat. If using a marinating container, it may help to combine the wet ingredients together before adding to the meat. Marinate in the fridge at least an hour or until ready to cook. For the sauce, combine all the ingredients thoroughly in a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve. To cook the meat, it's best to use a grill and cook to desired doneness. If you do not have a grill, you can also broil the meat on high about 3-5 minutes per side. If broiling, place the meat on a baking rack or grate and place in a foil-lined pan. To serve, place meat and veggies on a plate and serve with dipping sauce.

*I used a flat steak that was labeled for pan-frying. You could also use thinly-sliced skirt steak or flank steak for a nicer cut of meat. Regardless of meat cut choice, look for something that's not more than ¼-½ inch thick.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Horseradish, Cheddar & Onion Stuffed Burgers

I am happy to say that these burgers taste extremely gourmet, but they aren't really that much trouble. Sure, they're not exactly as easy as mac 'n cheese or ramen, but who really wants to eat that stuff anyways? The combination of sweet onions, spicy horseradish, and salty cheddar all mixed in the middle of a perfectly cooked burger is definitely going to make your mouth water. You have to cook the onions first until they're nice and caramelized. This takes a little bit of time, but that's probably the most complicated step. Which is great, because who doesn't want gourmet-tasting food without all the fuss?

Horseradish, Cheddar & Onion Stuffed Burgers
2 tbsp butter or ghee, divided in half
½ small onion, sliced into thin strips
1-3 tsp white horseradish, liquid drained*
1-2 tbsp cheddar cheese
2-¼ or ⅓ lb hamburger patties**

Heat ghee in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook slowly, stirring occasionally. Keep the onions cooking until they caramelize. This may take a while, but it's worth it. While the onions are cooking, prepare the hamburger patties. Flatten the patties out. Don't go too thin or the meat will crack while cooking and the stuffing will fall out. Place a thin layer of cheddar on each patty, being sure to leave a border around the edges to seal up the patty. When the onions are finished caramelizing, allow to cool just enough to handle. Heap 1-3 tbsp on one patty. Top with horseradish. Press the two patties together carefully, trying to not lose any of the filling. Pinch the two patty sides together all the way around and gently reshape the edges of the patty. Salt and pepper your burger. Heat remaining ghee in the skillet over medium-low heat. Add burger and cook both sides 3-5 minutes each for medium and longer for more doneness. This burger could also easily be cooked on the grill with great success. I served mine on a bed of lightly sautéed spinach with the leftover onions and topped with Roma tomatoes.

*The amount of horseradish for each burger is going to be a taste preference. Between the onions, cheese and burger meat, the bite of the horseradish disappears fast. If you enjoy this bite as much as I do, I would definitely lean towards 3 tsp. If you really just want more of a hint of horseradish, stick to 1 tsp. 
**The size of the hamburger patties will determine the size of your final burger. If you want a big burger to enjoy, then go all out. Just keep in mind that you're stuffing the burger, so you want to create thinner initial patties. Keep the stuffed burger flatter and wider, rather than thicker and taller, to make sure that the stuffing still gets warm enough to melt the cheese.