Sunday, January 6, 2013

Homemade Breakfast Sausage Recipe

After walking the aisles of my local grocery store, Trader Joe's, and Whole Foods, and finding that every bacon and sausage contained some variety of sugar, nitrates, or nitrites, I have taken matters into my own hands.  I've been working on my recipe for some time now, but this morning it seemed to turn out just right.  I'm posting the recipe here for anyone who would like to try it.  It is truly so much easier to control what you're eating when you make it yourself!  

Homemade Breakfast Sausage

1 lb. ground pork
1/2 tsp. olive oil
1-1/2 Tbsp. rubbed sage
1/2 Tbsp. basil
1 tsp. tarragon
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. salt

Add all the ingredients to a bowl and blend with a fork.  If desired, cover and refrigerate overnight to let flavors soak into meat.  When cooking, make patties slightly thin.  I cook them over med-high heat for about 7 minutes.  You can adjust the amount of pepper in the mix to suit your taste.  I find that the amount I used gives a nice amount of heat without the burn.  :)

I hope you like it!  I'll continue to add more recipes as I test them. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Whole30 - Day 17: The Magically Growing Belt & a Tenderloin

Today was an incredible day. It started with precious time with my hubby and us with the kids. After 17 days on Whole30, my husband was getting dressed this morning and showed me his belt. He had to tighten it to the last notch! From the permanent groove in the leather, it looks like he's lost about two inches from his waist. His love handles are a thing of the past as well. In fact, he really looked great this morning. I hadn't noticed how trim he was getting. The effect has been similar for me as well. It will be interesting to do our one month weigh-in and see how it turns out. Either way, we've won because we've changed our bad eating habits!

I spent quite a bit of time in the kitchen with the kids today - peeling garlic, cutting onions, baking pork tenderloin... My little man loves it. He ate up the raw onions and all the kids helped me peel garlic. It kept two 2.5 year-olds busy for about 30 minutes, which alone is a miracle.

I love that my kids aren't afraid to try new foods and that they love so many of them raw. It's a good feeling knowing that I'm setting them up with a positive relationship with food. No pressed chicken nuggets here! They will grow up knowing the difference between a soup, a bisque, and a gazpacho, thank you very much. The goal isn't to turn anyone in our family into a food snob, just to show them what real food can be - delicious and devoid of all the unpronounceable ingredients in modern packaged food.

Tonight I made a pork tenderloin. I let my little man choose the spices and shake them on. He chose oregano and marjoram, to which I added paprika, curry, and salt. We coated the tenderloin with olive oil, sprinkled the seasonings on, and rubbed them all over to coat the meat. After 35 minutes in a 350 degree oven, what we pulled out was a beautiful piece of meat that was the most tender meat I've probably ever produced in my kitchen.

My older son says it's the best meat he's ever had. The look on his face says it all. I'll take that endorsement!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Whole30 - Day 16: Tropical Fruit Bisque

The Whole30 is going incredibly well. My family is starting to make comments about how food is tasting different to them - things like, "apples are tasting sweeter." While the little ones were on board from the beginning, my oldest son and husband were skeptical. They thought I would be feeding them mash I suppose. After sixteen days though, they are just showing the first signs of readiness to continue on a paleo diet after our 30 days is up. I'm quite happy to hear that too, since I couldn't go back to the way we ate before if you paid me.

In an effort to shake things up a bit in the kitchen, I've been trying lots of new things...spice/meat combos, non-traditional ingredients, same veggies/different method, etc. Tonight I blended up a tropical fruit bisque with my 2 year-old son. (Ours is an altered recipe from the Make it Right paleo cookbook.) We had so much fun together, though a few times we almost had a disaster when he nearly turned on the food processor while the lid was still off and it was full of pineapple and mango. He is also quickly learning that the privilege of being the cook is tasting rights. Our bisque was nearly mangoless.

We served this dish as a prelude to dinner, mostly because once it was made we were too excited to wait. Who am I to deny this for my lovely little boy who had worked so hard. (Can you just hear my rationalization?) By the way, it was so delicious! And just to put this into perspective, I have an intense aversion to cucumbers! Mangos run a close second to cucumbers as well, but I have to say this was the best mango I've ever tasted. I could have eaten it straight, though I'll still pass on the cucumber. :)

This dish is sweet, a little tart, chilled, and would be wonderfully refreshing on a summer day. Of course, you could just turn up the heat and eat it this winter. Here are our ingredients: mango, cucumber, pineapple, lime juice, unsweetened shredded coconut, and coconut milk. (One caveat for you, should you decide to make this - not all coconut milk is created equal. Most of them contain carrageenan, which is a food stabilizer. I'll be writing about this in a future post.)

Tropical Fruit Bisque

1/2 a fresh pineapple, cut into spears
1 whole mango, peeled and cut into pieces
1/2 a cucumber, peeled and seeds removed
juice of one lime
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup coconut milk

Throw all the ingredients into a food processor and puree smooth. Serve garnished with pieces of fresh mango and pineapple and dust with cinnamon and shredded coconut.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Whole30 - Day 13: Green Bean Frittata & Squash Casserole

Okay, so it was a nice, lazy Saturday morning and I was trying to see what leftover veggies I could involve in our breakfast. Wow! This is a huge change in my thinking. Veggies were never a consideration for breakfast until a few weeks ago. I spied the green beans and the word frittata sprang to mind. I threw those suckers in the skillet with some olive oil, sauteed them until tender crisp, with some spices, and poured my beaten eggs over them. I left them cooking on the stove until the eggs began to bubble around the edges, then popped the skillet in the oven and broiled it until the eggs were done on top. I cut it up like pizza and everyone got 1-2 slices along with a bacon and fruit scramble and some grapes. It was a great breakfast and a nice change up. We're going to try other frittatas as well, like salmon. Yum!

Tonight we marinated steaks for the grill and baked some sweet potato fries with cinnamon. Of course that was all good, nothing new there. Then I found a recipe for a squash casserole in the Paleo Comfort Foods cookbook. After making this dish, I can see why it's called a comfort food. I could have eaten the whole pan. Talk about Whole30! It was super simple too: squash, zucchini, onion, coconut milk, almond meal, and pecans. That is one thing I can say with ease - everything I've cooked has been fairly quick and definitely easy. I can't afford to take loads of time cooking, with three kids, a husband, school work, house work, etc. Anyway, here is close-up of the dish. We were so anxious to sit down to eat that I dished the plates before thinking of taking a photo of the whole dish, hence the close-up of what was left. :)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Whole30 - Day 12: Turkey Curry Stuffed Poblano Peppers

I have to say that cooking is getting easier by the minute. Tonight we had turkey curry stuffed poblano peppers. They were a huge hit! I'm becoming more bold in my pursuit of ingredients. Spices are becoming central to my cooking and we're all enjoying our meals much more. I never realized how boring my meals were until now. It's refreshing in more ways than one. One thing I definitely want to avoid is eating my ingredients. You know, baking the chicken, steaming the veggies and throwing them on the plate with little thought to their seasonings, combinations, or presentation. I didn't start out this way 12 days ago. This is becoming more of a learning process. Here's the recipe:

Turkey Curry Stuffed Poblano Peppers

5 poblano peppers
2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
tops of peppers, chopped
20 oz. ground turkey
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. Thyme
1 Tbsp. curry powder (I’d love to use paste, but haven’t been able to find any)
½ cup coconut milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Boil a pot of water. Prepare peppers by cutting off tops and removing seeds. Once water is boiling, submerge the peppers and cook for 5 minutes. Remove and place in a bowl of ice water (blanching). Heat olive oil in large skillet, add onions and peppers and cook 2-3 minutes on med-high heat. Add turkey and spices, cooking until turkey is cooked through and spices are blended. Finally, pour coconut milk over the turkey and mix. Stuff each pepper equally and bake for 20 minutes.

Okay, the truth is I never measured anything. My usual M.O. is eyeballing everything. I sort of played with it until I loved it. I almost can’t get enough curry, so adjust it as you see fit. I can think of a gazillion different ways to change it up.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Whole30 - Day 10: Brussel Sprouts on a Date

Tonight's dinner was the best of the last ten days. Don't get me wrong, we've had some nice meals, but this one was truly exceptional. We marinated our steaks for a couple hours before throwing them on the grill. Cooked medium and they were to die for. I pared them with oven-roasted garlic sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts.
The brussel sprouts were incredible!
I sauteed onion in olive oil, tossed in the sprouts and dates, seasoned with a little salt and pepper to taste, and cooked until the sprouts were tender crisp. The last touch was some chopped walnuts. Delicious! It's one of my all-time favorite foods now.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Whole30 - Day 9: A Reason for the Farmer's Market?

I bought a package of chicken thighs as the commissary and was very excited to roll it in coconut flour and spices...until I saw this. One fourth of the package was fat! They had folded the fat under and had the beautiful meat showing through the top of the package. Talk about irritating! I won't buy that again. It all got me to thinking about farmer's markets and fresh meats. I'm going to have to check out Eastern Market in Washington, DC. They are supposed to have and incredible selection of foods. It's gotta be better than this. I don't think I could put myself through this again. There must be chicken out there that I can buy without making me pay for this fat. Once I find it, I'll post. I'm going to try Eastern Market in D.C. and Whole Foods.