#18: Cajun Shrimp

Yet again, I have ventured outside the realm of chicken and beef for something new – shrimp!  Again, I was joined by a friend for this one, which was fun.  He’s cooked a pretty fantastic shrimp dish in the past (shrimp wrapped in bacon with barbeque seasoning!), so it was nice to have his expertise on this one.  This recipe was a recipe from one of his cookbooks that he adapted to make Paleo.

It’s a pretty quick and simple recipe.  It probably only took 20 minutes from start to finish.

Ingredients

  • Oil for skillet
  • 2 peeled & sliced zucchinis
  • 3-4 stalks of sliced green onions
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 cup pre-cooked shrimp
  • 1-2 teaspoons Cajon seasoning

Recipe

  1. Sauté zucchinis on medium heat for about 3 minutes.
  2. Add green onions, garlic, and Cajun seasoning.  Cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add shrimp. Cook for about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Lower heat and cover for 3-5 minutes.
  5. Enjoy!

Conclusions

Pretty tasty!  Just make sure you don’t overdo it with the Cajun seasoning or the spiciness will start to overpower the flavor a bit.  But other than that, it’s pretty great!  And so quick and easy!

#17: Herbed Pork Tenderloin with Strawberry Salsa

I have successfully ventured outside the realm of chicken and beef and prepared my first pork dish!  I think it was quite successful.  My new fancy meat thermometer helped a lot (scroll down for to read more about that).  I also had the help of a friend, which was really fun.  It was rather helpful to have an extra set of hands to help since the dish requires a fair amount of chopping and mincing.

Overall, I’d say this dish was “medium” as far as difficulty.  It’s not hard, but it’s a little more complicated than just sprinkling spices on a piece of meat and putting it straight into the oven.  Essentially, you roll the meat in a pile of fresh herbs; put the meat in the refrigerator for 20+ minutes; sauté all sides of the tenderloin for a few minutes; and then finish cooking it in the oven.

Recipe: http://www.paleotable.com/2011/01/herbed-pork-tenderloin-with-strawberry.html

According to the recipe, you’re supposed to sauté the tenderloins in an oven-safe skillet and then put the skillet in the oven, but that’s a bit impractical since skillets generally aren’t made large enough to fit 2 tenderloins… as it was, we had to cut the tenderloin in half to make it fit.  But it seems to work just fine to sauté all the different pieces in stages and then transfer it to a larger pan before cooking it in the oven.  This also allows people who don’t have oven-safe skillets to prepare this dish.

And here’s my new meat thermometer in action!  It’s so awesome!  Basically, you stick the sensor into the meat before you put it into the oven and then you set either the meat type or desired temperature on the display.  It will then chime when the desired temperature is reached, the same way a traditional timer would chime (as a side note, the device can also be used as a timer by moving a switch on the back side of the display… quite the useful device!).

It was SO awesome to have this device.  It’s such a pain to take out the dish multiple times to check the temperature… especially since the oven and the meat both lose a little bit of heat every time you take it out to measure it.  But now that’s no longer necessary!  Goodbye guesswork.  Not bad for a device costing less than $20.

The recipe calls for 145 degrees, which is the required internal temperature for medium rare pork.  We bumped it up to 160 for medium pork, and that worked just great!  The meat was still pretty tender and pink in the middle.

Conclusions

Great recipe!  It was fun cooking pork for a change.  The salsa also adds a nice addition, though I wish the mango we used was a little more ripe.  But oh well.

#16: Friday Flashbacks: Pamela’s Gluten Free Bread

Tags

,

Back before I had food issues, I used to joke: “I hope I never have issues with gluten, because I really love gluten!”  In reality, gluten doesn’t contribute much towards flavor.  It’s primarily involved with the physical properties of foods containing wheat and various other grains; this includes things like elasticity, holding its shape, and chewy texture.  (You can read more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gluten).

But, that is beside the point.  The point is that, at the time, I really liked bread.  (I have since gotten quite used to a bread-free existence.)  As such, it didn’t take long before I tried making a gluten free bread.  I had never made bread before… I assumed it would be difficult and complicated, what with all that yeast and bread-rising action.  As it turns out, it’s actually quite simple.  Mix the ingredients using a mixer, put it in a bread pan, wait an hour or so for the bread to rise, and then bake in the oven.  Then presto!  You have freshly baked bread.

I tried two different brands:  Gluten Free Pantry’s “Favorite Sandwich Bread Mix” and Pamela’s “Gluten-Free Bread Mix.” Pamela’s was my favorite out of the two.  It has a slightly sweeter flavor and tasted great either by itself or with a light drizzling of olive oil and salt.  But perhaps it’s not the fairest of comparisons.  After all, Gluten Free Pantry’s mix was designed to be a sandwich bread; it’s meant to go with foods that have strong flavors, like meat, cheese, condiments, jelly, and/or nut butters.  Generally a less sweet bread is desirable in that situation.  In any case, I made a batch of Pamela’s bread for my family (none of whom are gluten-free), and they all thought it tasted really good.

As a side note, you can made this recipe egg-free by using an egg replacer, which is what I did.  The bag for Pamela’s mix even includes special instructions for using this mix with an egg replacer.

Conclusions

Super awesome mix.  I finally ended up buying a 4 pound bag of the stuff because I was making it so often.  The mix also has instructions for making things like pizza crust, dinner rolls, or bagels.

The only downside is the bread stales rather quickly.  I found that it was best to slice and freeze anything I wasn’t planning on eating within the next day or so.  The rest I kept in the fridge.  Frozen slices can then be put into a toaster oven (or a regular toaster), just like you would with an frozen Eggo® waffle.  Works just great!  You may have to experiment with the timing/temperature; it all depends on the size of your bread slices.

#15: Cooking Steak Without a Grill

Tags

,

At my last residence, I had access to a pretty awesome rooftop grill.  However, in the past year, it was quite common to go through all the trouble of taking a bag full of supplies and a plate of raw meat up to the rooftop only to find that the propane tank was empty.  Major bummer!

So… on one of those particular evenings, I researched and practiced the art of cooking a steak without a grill using a combination of both the stove top and the broiler.

It’s a bit detailed, but here’s where I got the instructions: http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-cook-a-steak-in-the-ove-108490

Be sure that the skillet is oven safe or you might ruin your pan.

Conclusions

Works great!  It’s nice to have a way to cook a steak even when you don’t have access to a grill.

#14: Herbed & Spiced Chicken Bites

Tags

, ,

Over the past few months, I’ve discovered that herbs and spices are one of the big secrets to surviving a diet wrought with allergies, intolerances, or other limitations.  If used correctly, they add tons of excellent flavor.  It’s awesome!

I came up with this particular recipe while experimenting in the kitchen one day.  Precise cookers will probably cringe at these instructions, but there’s really no exact science to this dish.  Every time I make this dish, it’s a little different.  Sometimes I’ll even try mixing it up by adding different spices.  It’s part of the fun of this recipe!

Ingredients

  • Chicken, cut up into bite sized pieces
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • Sea Salt
  • Poultry Seasoning
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Chili Powder
  • (Cinnamon… optional)

Recipe

Begin cooking chicken in a skillet over medium heat.  As the chicken is cooking, sprinkle a bit of each spice or herb over the chicken.  If I include cinnamon, I usually only add a little bit.  I also aim to be sparing with the salt.

As I flip and stir the chicken, I often add an additional layer of all the spices to insure that all sides are well coated.

Once chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, you’re done!  Enjoy!  This has definitely become one of my favorite chicken dishes.  It’s so quick and easy and tasty!  Plus it’s easy to change it up by varying the types or amounts of spices and herbs used.

#13: Friday Flashback – Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Tags

, ,

One of the downsides of waiting 3+ months to blog about a recipe you cooked is trying to remember what recipe you used.  In some cases, I at least did myself the favor of copying a link to the recipe into a draft blog entry.  Not so in this case.  Fortunately, of all things, I found my grocery list for this recipe while packing up my apartment last month (it stood out because I had written it on a napkin while at a coffeehouse):

Based on this (and a simple google search for slow cooker beef stew) and my propensity to try things from All Recipes, I have deduced that this is the recipe I used: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/slow-cooker-beef-stew-i/

As you can see, it’s a pretty straight forward recipe…. it only has 2 steps!

I was pretty excited about doing this recipe because it was my first time using my new crock pot.  I put together the entire recipe the night before, refrigerated it overnight, then popped it back into the crock pot in the morning, and then let it cook while I was at work all day.  Pretty cool to come home to an already cooked meal.

Conclusions

Great recipe.  I’d definitely do this again if I’m permitted to eat grains again.  Even if I’m still not allowed to have gluten, I imagine I could use one of the many flour substitutes out there.  In the meantime, perhaps I’ll try it without flour and see what happens… or try to find a similar recipe that doesn’t require flour…  I really need to get that crock pot back out.

#12: Turkey Vegetable Meatballs

Tags

, ,

The best way to sum up this cooking experience is “disaster.”  It began when I forgot to buy parsley at the store.  I didn’t have time to go back to the store, so I searched high and low for some sort of hidden parsley supply in the kitchen.  I finally decided to use 1 tablespoon of “Herbes de Provence” because it at least had parsley in it.  I enjoyed the addition of lavender, but I’m not entirely sure I enjoyed the addition of the other flavors that came with it (more experimentation would be required to determine if this is true).  (Recipe: http://www.paleoplan.com/2009/11-20/turkey-vegetable-meatballs/)

The disasters continued when I dumped an entire onion into the food processor instead of the 1/2 onion that the recipe calls for.  Oops.  Naturally, I realized this mistake about 3 seconds after I dropped the last bit of the onion in.  Oh well.  I like onions, so I figure it wouldn’t be a terrible addition as far as flavor.  However, it made the final compilation very watery. Very VERY watery.  So, as to be expected, this watery mixture refused to hold any sort of shape.  Instead, it instantly formed short little mounds.  You can see how that turned out…

The holes in the meat mounds came from the many times I took the temperature.  The internal temperature just refused to get up to 165 degrees for the longest time.  I’m not sure if it was because I messed up the recipe or if it’s because I have a dysfunctional oven or a dysfunctional meat thermometer, but they took WAY longer to cook than 25 minutes.  I lost track of how much longer, but I wouldn’t be surprised it it was upwards of 45 minutes.

This is when I began my attempts to salvage the rest of the mixture by draining off as much excess liquid as possible.  While waiting for Round 1 to finish cooking, I put the rest of the mixture in a colander, placed the colander in a bowl, laid a lid on top, and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours.  You can already see some excess liquid pooling at the bottom of the bowl.

It worked pretty well!  I was able to extract almost a full cup of excess liquid.  As you can see below, the meat/vegetable mixture held its shape a lot better for round 2.

The final results can be seen in the very first photo.  Even with the lower liquid content, it still took about 45 minutes to cook.

And, for humor’s sake, here’s a visual sampling of the difference between Round 1 and Round 2:

Conclusions

This isn’t a very good reflection on the recipe since I failed to follow the directions properly, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the final results.  The flavor was kinda “blah.”  I wasn’t able to pinpoint precisely what the issue was.  It may have been due to fact that I used of “Herbes de Province” instead of parsley.  Or perhaps there’s too much vegetable and not enough meat.  Or maybe too many different types of vegetables.  In any case, I’m don’t think I’m going to attempt this one again any time soon…

#11: Fruit and Kale Smoothie

Tags

,

I’ve been on quite the smoothie kick lately.  It’s a nice, healthy way to enjoy a sweet “dessert” without any dairy, grains, or added sugars.

After several weeks of perfecting my fruit smoothie recipe, I ran across a post on Facebook from a juice cafe that talked about the health benefits of kale.  I was impressed!  I didn’t realize that kale provided calcium and iron (along with a host of other vitamins and nutrients).  I also didn’t realize it was a popular ingredient for smoothies.  So… thus began my Googling adventure.  After reading through various recipes and blog posts, I finally decided to stick with my normal smoothie recipe and just add 1 cup of chopped kale.

Recipe

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 cups semi-defrosted frozen fruit
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup chopped kale (without the stem)

I’ve found that my fairly inexpensive blender has a hard time with fruit fresh from the freezer.  So I began the habit of taking fruit out and letting it sit for 30-60 minutes before blending.  Even after all this time, it’s still pretty cold and solid.  But it seems to blend a little better when I do this.  I’ve also found that adding 1 fresh banana (not frozen) seems to help with the blending process.  It also makes the smoothie a bit more creamy.  I tried using a peeled frozen banana once, but I couldn’t figure out how to peel it!  It was rock solid.  After letting it sit out and defrost for awhile, it eventually turned into a soggy, slimy mess and I have since given up on frozen bananas.  (I’ve since learned that it helps to peel and slice the bananas before you freeze them… but why go through all the work of freezing them when you can just use a fresh one?  And in my case… my blender seems to like it much better if there’s some non-frozen stuff in there.)

I also used to add ice because that’s what I had been told to do… but it doesn’t really add anything.  I started leaving it out and I didn’t even notice the difference.  So it seemed pointless to go through the work of adding it.

Conclusions

I’m already a huge fan of my fruit smoothie (basically take the above recipe and just leave out the kale).  The kale was an interesting addition.  Very subtle.  There were times when I could kind of taste it, but it was pleasant.  Made me feel rather healthy!

#10: The Best Meatloaf I’ve Ever Had

Tags

, , ,

In the excessive busy-ness of the past 6 months, I didn’t get around to blogging about all the recipes I cooked.  So… it’s time for some flashbacks!  Here’s one of my favorites from the beginning of April.

It’s a pretty straightforward recipe (http://allrecipes.com/recipe/prize-winning-meatloaf/detail.aspx): mix the ingredients, press into a loaf pan, and then cook it for an hour (or until internal temp reaches 160 degrees F).  And that’s it!

Conclusions

So simple, yet it tastes amazing.  Somehow, I never knew you could make meatloaf with oats instead of breadcrumbs.  I think that’s what makes all the difference.  I’ve never been a huge fan of any recipe that involves breadcrumbs (though I suppose my opinion may change if I try a different kind of breadcrumbs).

In any case, I will definitely be cooking this again once I’m permitted to eat oats and ketchup again because this truly is a “prize winning meatloaf.”

#9: Chicken Apple

Tags

, ,

On the night I made this particular recipe (http://www.paleoplan.com/2009/11-22/chicken-apple/), I had decided to stay home and cook rather last minute, so I wanted to find something that wouldn’t require a trip to the grocery store.  This one was the winner.  It looked easy to make, it wouldn’t take too long to cook, and I already had all the necessary ingredients.

Conclusions

It certainly smelled good as it was cooking, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the flavor once it was done.  I guess I’m not a fan of cinnamon and cooked apples when they’re not encapsulated in pie crust.  Lesson learned.