Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Chimichurri. What is it? And, how do you use it?

I have been meaning to make this for you all for quite a while, and I just haven't been inspired to do so...until now.

This one is for you, Johnnie!  Because it's super fun and sassy, just like you.  ;-)

Anyone who frequents Trader Joe's as often as I do (when I have access to it) has probably come across the Chimichurri Rice, in the frozen section.  It's one of my all time favorite frozen items from TJ's, and the following recipe is my second favorite from Sarah Fragoso's 'Everyday Paleo.'

Although Paleo eaters can't eat the rice from TJ's, we can still enjoy the amazing flavor!  Chimichurri combines the tart acidity of lime, with fragrant cilantro, and everyone's best friend, onion.  It's super simple to make this sauce, and you can put it on any protein you like, to add extra excitement and flavor.  Or anything in general.  I just put it on some cucumber slices, and it blew me away. 

Stay tuned after the sauce recipe.  I am going to throw in my favorite way to use it at the end of this entry.

Chimichurri Sauce

You will need:

1/2 of a red onion (Just use the whole thing if it's small - like, the size of a lacrosse ball)

4 cloves of Garlic

1 cup fresh Parsley

1 1/2 cups fresh Cilantro

The juice of one lime

3/4 cup Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper to taste (Optional.  I never use it)

Wash your Parsley and Cilantro, and remove the leaves from the large stalks.  Quarter your onion, to make it easier on your food processor.  Juice your lime - and, please don't waste money on a citrus reamer.  Just use fork. 

Now, throw it all into your food processor, and pulse it five or six times, just until the red onion is in small enough pieces (a small diced size), but not until it's smooth.  A little chunkiness is good, for this one.

Et, voila!  Chimichurri sauce! 

Now, for my favorite way to use it!

This is a very simple dish, especially when you have the chimichurri already made.

You will need:

2 tbs Olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 Bell Pepper, sliced

1 package of Quorn Chik'n Tenders

1 head of Boston Bibb Lettuce (or you favorite wrapping greens), washed and dried

Chimichurri Sauce

Start out with a medium to large skillet, and heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Toss in the chopped onion, and bell pepper, and sautee for 5-10 minutes, until the onion starts to become translucent.  Add half of a package of Quorn Chik'n Tenders (or enough to give the ratio of veg to protein that you like), and continue to sautee for 7-10 minutes, until the tenders are fully cooked.

Pile the chik'n mixture onto your lettuce leaves, and top with a couple spoonfuls of chimichurri sauce.  Done!

I also like to use the Chimichurri on my taco wraps, as well. 

And, for my non-paleo and Vegan followers, I have a feeling this would work great with Tempeh, or any of your favorite proteins that could use a boost!


Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What goes well with Cucumbers?!

The answer, my friends, is Baba Ghanoush!!

As of this week, the garden is officially in production mode.  Other than my Kale plants, which are continually sprouting new leaves, the cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash, jalapenos, and July Hybrid tomatoes are finally producing! 

In order to celebrate the first cucumbers of the season, I made a large batch of Baba Ghanoush (Mediterranean Eggplant relish/dip) from the two beautiful eggplants I found at the grocery store a few days ago.  It is perfect for dipping cucumber slices and carrots!  It also makes a good substitute for hummus, if you have been missing your tasty chickpeas, like I have.

The only thing in this recipe that may be unfamiliar to anyone, is the Tahini.  Tahini is nothing more than ground Sesame seeds.  I know!  Questionable paleo ingredient!  But, for the sake of this recipe (and my sanity), let's assume I've spent days or weeks gathering all the Sesame seeds I could find, and grinding them down into 1/4 cup of paste.  If you can leave it out.  But, it won't be the same.  :-p

Tahini is pretty easy to find these days (as compared to 5 years ago), in the International aisle of your grocery store, or near the peanut butter.  Just make sure the ingredients list nothing more than Sesame seeds.  If you are lucky enough to have a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern specialty store nearby (like Almondina - for you South Bend/Mish people), you can usually find large jars for very cheap prices.

Ok.  So.  On to the recipe!

Baba Ghanoush

You will need:

2 Large Eggplants

2-3 Garlic cloves

1/4 cup Tahini

1/4 cup Lemon juice

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

First, wash your eggplants, and then stab them with a fork a few times around the perimeter, so that they don't explode in your oven during baking.  Then, place them on a baking sheet, in a 350 degree F oven, for 30-40 minutes, or until they look defeated (that one's for you Phil ;-) ).  Allow the eggplants to cool.  Then, slice each eggplant in half (and trim the tops off), and peel away the purple skin.

Place all of your ingredients into your food processor (seeds and all), and process until smooth.

Chill thoroughly.  The dip, I mean...although, you can relax, too.  This recipe makes about 3 cups of Baba Ghanoush, which will go quite far.  So, you may want to start out with a half batch, first.  And, as always, adjust the seasoning (lemon, garlic and tahini) to your personal taste.

Serve your Baba Ghanoush with fresh sliced cucumbers, carrots, celery, or any of your favorite dipping items.

Enjoy!  And, let me know what you think!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Snack Time!

Okay!  So, after a small hiatus, I am back to share some recipes!

I don't know about the rest of you, but when I am stressed out I like to snack, rather than eating actual meals.  Not the best for you...but, some times a girl just needs to graze.

Two of my favorite items on my list of snack foods are Kale Chips and Sweet Potato Oven 'Fries.' 

First up:  Sweet Potato Oven 'Fries.'

I took the original recipe for 'Yummy Yam Spears' from Sarah Fragoso's Everyday Paleo Cookbook, and tweaked it a little.  But, the original recipe is fantastic, as well.  Addictive, even.

This recipe makes 3 or 4 servings...but if you are as glutenous as I am when I am stressed or emotional, you will probably eat all of them, by yourself, in one sitting.  :-/

You will need:

2-3 Large Sweet Potatoes
3 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
1/2 Tablespoon Cinnamon
1/2 Tablespoon Paprika
1 teaspoon ground Chipotle Pepper

Start by peeling your sweet potatoes, and cutting them into 'French Fry' sized strips.  Then, in a large mixing bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, cinnamon, paprika and chipotle pepper.  The oil will melt down during mixing, and you will end up with a dark paste.

Add your sweet potato strips to the mixing bowl, and toss in the oil and spice mixture, until evenly coated.  Then, place the strips in a single layer on a foil lined baking sheet.

Bake for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees F, flipping halfway through, until the fries are tender, and start to brown around the edges.

 Let them cool for a couple minutes, so that you don't burn yourself as you scarf these puppies down.  These are by far my favorite snack/side dish, when it comes to Paleo cooking!  LOVE. THEM.

Alright!  Next on the menu:  Kale Chips

I use Kale because I usually have it on hand, as it grows very well in my garden.  :-)  But, this idea can be applied to most dark, leafy greens (Mustard, Collard, etc.).

I compared a bunch of recipes online, and they all followed the same basic principle.  Toss in oil and seasoning, then bake.  So, here is my method.

You will need:

One large bunch of Kale (or prefered Greens)
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin olive Oil
1 teaspoon McCormick Garlic Pepper (from the grinder)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Dash of Tumeric

Start by tearing the Kale from the thick stalks, and into 2-3 inch pieces.  Wash thoroughly, and dry well (I run mine through the salad spinner).
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the oil and spices, then add the Kale, and toss to evenly coat the greens.
Spread in a single layer, over parchment paper lined baking sheets, and bake at 325 degrees F, 20-25 minutes, or until greens are crispy throughout.

The texture of these little buggers amazes me every time.  They are so light and crispy!  Of course, you can change the spices to suit your own taste.  Some of the non-Paleo recipes used Seasoning Salt (which contains sugar), and I am looking forward to trying a batch with garlic and ground mustard seed.

So, there you have it!  Snack away!  And, as always, let me know what you think!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Taco Salad Wraps

As mentioned during the taco seasoning post, I have a favorite meal that I make, quite often, using the seasoning mix.

Sorry for the lack of pictures.  I thought I had some, but it was a different lettuce wrap.  I will add them next time I make this recipe. :-)

Taco Salad Wraps

2 tablespoons Olive Oil

1 package of Quorn Grounds

1 medium onion, chopped

3-4 Tablespoons Taco Seasoning (from the 6/23 post)

1/2 cup water

1 large head of Boston Bibb or Romaine Lettuce (whatever you like, that is sturdy enough to use as a wrap)

1 Avocado, chopped

1-2 Tomatoes, chopped (Romas are usually meatier and don't have as much seed goop in the middle)

Peel the larger leaves from your lettuce, wash well, and allow plenty of time to drain/dry.

In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium to med-low heat (if you know what setting is usually adequate to cook the onions, but not burn them, use that).  Add the chopped onion to the skillet, and sautee for 5-10 minutes, until soft and transparent, stirring often.  Add Quorn Grounds to the skillet, and continue to sautee for 2 or 3 minutes.

Add 3-4 tablespoons of taco seasoning, and 1/2 cup of water, stir, and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes, until the grounds are cooked through and the water has cooked off. 

The amount of seasoning, of course, can always be adjusted to your personal taste.

Place 2 or 3 Lettuce leaves on your plate,  fill with the Grounds (not too much!  You still need the leaf to close, and hold everything in), and top with chopped avocado and tomato.  The avocado adds the creamy texture you would miss from the sour cream, and it's a good fat!

Dig in!  And have napkins on me.

Let me know what you think!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Taco/Chili Seasoning

As requested by my roommate, Sarah Jane!

Taco Seasoning - NOT from a Packet!! (Yes, it works that way!)

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (I use granulated garlic)

  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder (or dried, minced onion)

  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon sea salt ( me, anyway)

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

  • Put it all together in a jar, and mix it up!  This recipe only makes about 2 Tablespoons worth of seasoning, and I usually use 3 or 4 Tablespoons per 12 oz. package of Quorn Grounds.  So, double...triple...quadruple the recipe for feeding a family, or just to keep on hand.  It keeps just like the rest of your spices.  Just throw it into a dry, well sealed jar.  You know you have an empty almond butter or coconut oil jar hanging around in your cupboards, somewhere.  Right?

    I will follow up, tomorrow, with a post about my favorite way to use this seasoning mix.  It works great for chili, too!

    Let me know what you think!