Saturday, December 28, 2013

Shrimp Poached in Coconut Curry Sauce

Super easy and fast meal that tastes delicious. Serve over rice with at least one veggie side to make it a complete meal.

1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1 tbsp butter (or coconut oil for paleo)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 can lite coconut milk
1 tbsp green curry paste
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
fish sauce (optional)

Heat a large skillet over medium and add butter. Once butter is melted, add sliced shallot, garlic, and ginger. Saute for 3 minutes until shallot is tender. Whisk in coconut milk, white wine, and green curry paste and crank up heat until it simmers. Add a splash of fish sauce if desired. Gently stir in shrimp and simmer for about 3-4 minutes  until pink and the tails are curled in.  Remove from heat, stir in lime juice and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Paleo Tex-Mex Casserole

Amazing recipe!! I can't rave enough about this one. Veggie goodness all the way through, and incredible flavor. Even better the next day packed in my lunch. The recipe is from Popular Paleo, which is a new blog I've started following. I need to see if her other recipes can top this one!

REVIEW: As expected for any dish with lots of veggies, there was a significant amount of prep that went into this one. If I didn't have my awesome food processor with a grater attachment, there is no way I'd make this recipe because it calls for 5 CUPS of shredded sweet potato. You'd have a serious wrist cramp trying to do that by hand. I used ground turkey instead of beef, just because I'm not a fan of the taste. I also think it'd be an excellent vegan dish, all you'd have to do is take out the meat.

1.25 lbs ground turkey
2 cups spinach
1 onion, diced
2-3 carrots, diced
2 zucchinis, diced
2 small bell peppers, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 large or 5 cups sweet potato, peeled and shredded
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1/3 cup taco seasoning
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp dried cilantro
coconut oil
olive oil

Preheat oven to 375F. Spritz olive oil in a large skillet or sauté pan and add all the vegetables. Sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper onto the veggies, and cook until just tender. Remove veggies, heat up a bit more olive oil in the sauté pan, and add the ground turkey. Mix in the taco seasoning and brown the meat.
Once the turkey has browned, add the vegetables back in and mix until heated through. Transfer the mixture to a 9x11" baking dish.


Melt a small scoop of coconut oil in the sauté pan and add the sweet potatoes. Sauté until they are tender, this takes about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with chili powder and cilantro. Scoop the potato on top of the vegetable mixture and add a thick layer to the baking dish.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 10 more minutes, or until bubbly and potatoes are a bit crispy on top. Serve a heaping scoop topped with chopped cilantro.

Spicy Black Bean Chipotle Soup

It is definitely the time of year where I start craving soups, stews, and chili. Even though it's 60 degrees here in LA, apparently we celebrate fall anyway. Uggs with shorts, what?

This recipe was from Fitness magazine, March 2012. It's easy and the ingredients are cheap. I like those for weeknight meals. Funny story illustrating what can happen when you misread the recipe...I read "1 canned chipotle chili in adobo sauce" as "1 can of chipotle chilis in adobo sauce".  Holy moly that soup came out HOT, haha! I do not recommend this unless you have tastebuds of steel. Seriously, I had to dump in sour cream, lime juice, avocado until it mellowed out a bit. However, I would use at least one chipotle chili because I have made it before with other chiles and the flavor was much better with the smoky chipotle.

olive oil
1 chicken sausage link, sliced thin
1 large onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 (JUST ONE CHILI) chipotle chili in adobo sauce, or more if you like spicy, minced
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
Toppings: sour cream, avocado, lime zest, lime juice, cilantro

Heat a small amount of olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Cook sausage slices until browned, about 2 minutes on each side. Remove sausage and set aside to add in later. Add red bell pepper, onion to the pot, sauté for 4 minutes. Stir in garlic, cumin, and oregano, sauté for 1 minute. Add beans, chicken broth, and chipotle pepper. Bring to boil, then drop temperature to medium-low and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Here is the tricky part: Transfer 1.5 cups of soup into a blender or food processor, or what I did it is pour it into a bowl and use an immersion blender to make it smooth. Mix the pureed soup back in. Serve in deep bowls topped with a dollop of sour cream, avocado, lime zest, and cilantro. Squeeze a wedge of lime over the soup.

Time to play catch-up!

I'm back with some delicious recipes to share! In the time I've been away, I've actually moved cross-country to the City of Angels! As a foodie, I cannot get enough of all the unique and delicious restaurants to try, and as a result have been blowing my monthly restaurant budget quite regularly. "I'll do better next month!" I vow, as I feast my eyes and stomach on Argentinian-style skirt steak topped with a creamy mushroom sauce, or beer-battered halibut stuffed into a corn tortilla covered in crunchy cabbage slaw and smothered in a spicy creamy chipotle sauce, or perfectly crispy thick-cut French fries sprinkled with parmesan and drizzled with truffle oil. Am I making you hungry yet? Exactly my problem.

Time to reign in the restaurant spending, or at least try to. As a cook, living in an incredibly diverse city such as LA opens up endless opportunities to dive into any cuisine, find weird ingredients to experiment with, and seriously like 5 wonderful farmers markets within 5 miles! Since I tried the Paleo diet earlier this year, I've been pretty good about avoiding grains, most dairy, processed foods, etc. Having tons of fresh fruit & veggies accessible and CHEAP helps me stick to the diet, and I really feel better when I do!

I have a few winners to share in the next couple of posts. Enjoy.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

30 Days Almost Over

I'm coming up on 30 days of following the Paleo diet (pretty strictly, I might add) and I've definitely witnessed an improvement in my body's shape. I would post a before/after picture if I wasn't so creeped out by personal info floating around on the Internet! The last weigh-in I did at the gym showed 118, whereas I usually float between 125-130, but I'm not a stickler about weight, I usually just pay attention to how my clothes are fitting and all my pants are falling off! My stomach is amazingly flat and I'm toned all over thanks to lots of heavy weight training.

I have to say these 30 days have not been without sacrifice, but the results are EXACTLY what I wanted - obtaining a bikini-ready body without starving myself. I would highly recommend it!

Obviously, I've been trying MANY Paleo recipes over the past few weeks, so I'll post the ones I like the best, the ones that will have a place in my meal rotation even after I finish the diet.

So what's next after Las Vegas? Well, I haven't quited defined what my transition plan is. I've read that some people have stomach issues after dropping Paleo suddenly, and I'm not ready to lose my slimmed-down body just yet! One goal is to continue to avoid gluten and dairy. I haven't missed bread that much (except for pizza - one of the best foods on the planet) and I really think taking gluten out allowed me to slim down my middle so quickly. There are so many gluten-free options out there now; I've had delicious pancakes, muffins, and crackers that are just as tasty as wheat ones. Since both my mother and grandmother are lactose-intolerant, it is probably a good idea that I avoid dairy as well. I'm sure I'll allow myself an occasional piece of mouth-watering cheese, but I want it to be a treat instead of the staple that it used to be.  Things I'll add back in slowly and see how it goes: rice, regular potatoes, soy.

I'll keep the recipes coming, whatever they turn out to be!

Nut and Chocolate Paleo Snack Bars

These little bites of heaven take me to my happy place. Seriously, when I bite into one I feel like I'm committing a Paleo diet crime, but I'm not! Against All Grain is a blog someone sent to me, and I was very impressed with the first recipe I tried. I have to remember that these are healthy but very rich due to the enormous nut content, so I restrain myself to 1 small bar at a time. They are really hard to resist!

To make the recipe strict Paleo, I replaced the peanut butter with almond butter, and omitted the honey. Didn't even miss it. I just happened to have Ghirardelli 60% chocolate chips chilling in my pantry, which I pressed into the bars sparingly, maybe 1 per bar.  I thought the idea of flattening the bars onto parchment paper then freezing the whole pan was GENIUS. Do you know how many batches of homemade protein bars I've painstakingly scraped off the bottom of the glass dish even after I greased the heck out of it?  This technique will improve all my future bar-making attempts!

1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup almond butter
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 cups raw nuts - use whatever you have on hand: almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews
5 dates, pitted
1/4 cup sunflower seeds or pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)
dash salt

Melt the almond butter and coconut oil in a small saucepan over low heat until they can be easily whisked together. Using a food processor, chop 2 cups nuts  and dates very fine with a dash of salt. Add coconut flakes and sunflower seeds and pulse a few times to mix in.  Add the melted nut butter mixture to the processed nut mixture and mix until well combined. Line a 8x8 or 9x9 pan with parchment paper and pour mixture into pan. Use another piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap to mash bars down flat. Press in chocolate chips. Stick in freezer for 30 minutes. Once frozen, lift out of pan and peel off parchment paper, then cut into small bars with a sharp knife. Store in freezer (my favorite!) or fridge and try not to eat the whole batch in one day!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Pineapple Chile Pulled Pork

I don't think I've been this excited for meat in my crockpot EVER. I sat at work trying to focus while my mind kept wandering to this delicious hunk of meat simmering in my crockpot with its sweet and spicy marinade. I pulled my car in the garage and the smells hit me in the face!  Look at what I came home to:
We invited a friend over for dinner (I really do like surprise dinner guests!) and had this spread set up:

The recipe I based this on is here:  
This pork had excellent flavor. I had about 7 leftover dried New Mexico chiles from an enchilada recipe, which gave it a good kick. I think chipotle chiles would be amazing in this. The pork marinated in a Ziploc two nights before getting poured into a crockpot. I served the lettuce tacos topped with chopped pineapple, cilantro, avocado, and a squeeze of lime. Fantastic leftovers, too!