Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Jalapeno Poppers

Today on the Paleo Parent's blog, my review for Fatworks will go live!  (UPDATE:  Here's the link!)  I had a great time testing/tasting and reviewing their Leaf Lard and Tallow.  Since I don't fry very often, I wanted to try to fry something with the tallow.  I decided on jalapeno poppers!

After I posted this picture on Facebook, I got a few requests for the recipe.  Here it is:









Grain-Free Jalapeno Poppers

1 block cultured cream cheese, softened
1/2 C sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (preferable made with raw milk from grass-fed cows)
5 slices bacon, fried crisp then crumbled
Dash of black pepper
Dash of cumin
Dash (or two) of cayenne pepper
8 jalapenos, sliced in half with seeds removed (unless you like it spicy!)
1 egg
Almond flour seasoned with salt and pepper
Tallow for frying

- Mix the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, crumbled bacon, and spices.
- Spoon the mixture into the jalapeno halves.
- Freeze the cream cheese mixture inside of the jalapenos for 10-15 minutes.  This will keep the cheese        mixture from melting while frying.
- While the peppers are in the freezer, heat your tallow to approximately 375°.  Place the egg in a shallow, flat dish and beat it.  Put the almond flour, salt, and pepper in a separate dish.
- Remove the peppers from the freezer.
- Dip the peppers in the egg then the almond flour.  Add to your hot tallow immediately.
- Fry for 2-4 minutes or until golden brown.
- Work in small batches and give your tallow a few seconds between batches to re-heat.
- Let cool on a towel and then ENJOY!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

CSA - Week 5 & 6

Weeks 5 and 6 were great baskets!

This is what was in our week 5 basket:

Cucumbers - $3
Garlic Scape - $1
New Potatoes - $2
Squash - $3.92
Blueberries - $4.99
Snow Peas - $3
Onions - $1.49
Beets - $3.99

The total value for week 5 is: $23.39

I love cucumbers!  I love to eat them in salads, sliced with salt, dipped in hummus or ranch, but really love them made into Chinese pickles!  In 2005, I visited China with a group in college.  I assumed I wouldn't easily have another opportunity to visit China with people who could speak Chinese without having to take one of those terrible group tours.  Anyhow, while we were there we had these pickles at every meal.  They were served at the beginning of each meal and they were fabulous!  They were sweet and salty and delicious!  When I saw the cucumbers this week, I decided I must find a way to recreate the pickles!  I found this recipe on Allrecipes and it was perfect!!

Pickles and spicy shrimp!

This is what we got in our week 6 basket:

Zucchini - $2.62
Cucumbers - $3
Squash - $3.92
Broccoli - $2.49
Beets - $3.99
Peaches - $5.24
Snow Peas - $3
Lettuce - $2.79

Week 6's total value: $27.05
Total value through week 6: $130.26

This week I made a tasty shrimp, snow pea, and mushroom dish.  I was able t use the snow peas from week 5 and 6 boxes.  Here's the recipe I used for Shrimp with Snow Peas but I made a few substitutions.  I used arrowroot powder instead of corn starch and gin instead of "Chinese cooking wine."  It was very tasty!  I served it with some roasted beets and (surprise, surprise) MORE Chinese pickles!  YUM!

CSA - Week 4

Our week 4 CSA basket was delivered on June 26th.  This was the first week to include beets!  I LOVE beets!

This week we received the following:
Rallo inspecting our week 4 basket.

Swiss Chard - $3.69
Beets - $3.99
Spring Onions - $1.49
Variety of Squash - $5.07
Blueberries - $4.99
Garlic Scape - $1
Cilantro plant - $3.99

Total value of this basket - $24.22
Running total - $79.82

One evening, we made a delicious grilled salmon and had it with the beets (grilled with a little butter, salt, and pepper inside of foil) and the Swiss chard (sauteed in coconut oil with some spring onions and the garlic scape).  I also had a small salad with the remaining variety of greens from week 3.  Dinner was great!  I ate the blueberries for breakfast one day (berries don't last long in our house!).  I made a quick saute of squash and onions with some s&p and garlic (yum!).  We planted the cilantro plant and it looked good for about 3 days... then died.  I kill all herbs.  I don't know why I'm not good at growing herbs.  I keep trying but maybe I should give up? 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

CSA - Week 3

Our week 3 basket was delivered on June 19th.  This basket was great!  We received:

Swiss Chard - $3.69
Spring Onions - $1.49
Garlic Scapes - $1
Sweet Cherries - $3.50
Variety of Greens - $3
Dulles Golf Center coupon for B1G1 bucket of balls - $8

Total value for this week: $20.68
Running total: $55.60

For dinner one evening, I made a tasty Swiss Chard saute and Apple & Bacon Stuffed Pork Chops from Beyond Bacon.

Swiss Chard Sauteing

Washed Swiss Chard
I sauteed the Swiss Chard in a bit of coconut oil with cranberries, pumpkin seeds, a garlic scape, and a splash of pomegranate balsamic vinegar (purchased from Ah Love Oil & Vinegar - awesome store!).

I purchased some pork chops from the Organic Butcher of McLean and pocketed them myself.  Then followed the recipe in Beyond Bacon.

Happy chops in the pot

The end result!

The chops were so tasty!  I took leftovers to work the next day and my coworkers were drooling!


Saturday, August 24, 2013

CSA - Week 2

Our CSA basket for week 2 was delivered on June 12th.  As you can see, I have a lot of catching up to do!

This week we received:

Sweet Cherries (1/2 pint) - $3.50
Asparagus - $3.99
Kale - $3.29
Spring Onions - $1.49

Total value for this week: $12.27
Total running CSA value: $34.92

I ate all the sweet cherries in one sitting!  I had forgotten to throw away my pits and stems when I was done and our pup, Rallo, decided to eat most of the pits.  I immediately called the vet to see if cherry pits were bad for dogs and, of course, they are!  The vet suggested watching him to see if he vomits or becomes lethargic before freaking out (too late!).  Luckily, he was perfectly fine!

We grilled the asparagus and used the spring onions in various dishes throughout the week.  I originally wanted to saute the kale but I decided to try out making some kale chips!  I used the Kale Chips recipe from Nom Nom Paleo (a blog that I love!).  I had to run to Whole Foods and purchase some avocado oil (which also makes a delicious mayo!).  Below, you'll see a picture of the kale chips ready to go into the oven.  Sadly, I didn't get an after picture!  Each batch baked for approximately 12 minutes and each batch was gone by the time the next batch was ready!  I did save enough to give a small bagful to my neighbor.  Rallo loved them too!  Too bad Chris didn't get a chance to try them.  :-)

Kale Chips - Pre-Oven

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

CSA - Week 1

Our first CSA delivery arrived at our home on June 5th.  We had left a cooler for the box to fit in on our front stoop.  A few days before I had received an email from Great Country Farms letting us know what we could expect to find in our box that week.

Our beautiful basket items!

Great Country Farms makes every effort to use organic and sustainable methods of farming where possible; however, they are not certified organic.  They do treat their orchards and some crops for pests when necessary.  For my cost comparison, I will compare organic food items except for orchard items with Harris Teeter prices (HT and Whole Foods are my "go to" grocery stores).

Here's what we got week 1:

Bunch of radishes - $1.79
Large bag of spinach - $7.89
2 pints strawberries - $3.50
Asparagus - $3.99 (non-organic price)
Bunch of spring onions - $1.49
Basil plant - $3.99 (price from local nursery)

The total estimated value of our share from week 1 is $22.65.

We grilled the asparagus, used some spinach in an omelet, sauteed the onions and spinach together with some garlic, made this amazing recipe for strawberry gelatin, used the radishes in a salad, and planted the basil plant.  We received a cute "Who's your farmer?" magnet in our basket!  Such a successful basket!

I cannot wait to get into our week 2 basket! 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Our CSA with Great Country Farms

This is the second year we are participating in a CSA from Great Country Farms!  Last year we had our share delivered to a group location which was in my husband's work building.  This year, our CSA is being delivered to our front door!

The CSA will run for 20 weeks from June 5th to October 16th.  Each basket is different and exciting!  When you purchase a CSA share through Great Country Farms, you receive free admission for every member of your household to visit the farm (regularly $10 per adult for each visit).  There are also weekly items you can pick for yourself (called U-Pick) at the farm included in the CSA cost.

This sounds like such a great price but I wonder if I am getting my money's worth.  The cost for a CSA share this year, including delivery and tax, is $618.45.  I plan to detail what items have arrived in my box each week and estimate the cost I would have to spend at the grocery or farmer's market.  I plan to do this for the season and see how much I have saved (well, hopefully saved!).

Do you participate in a CSA?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Strawberry Avocado Kale Salad with Bacon Kombucha Vinaigrette

Sounds tasty, right?  I found a recipe for Strawberry Avocado Kale Salad with Bacon Poppyseed Dressing from a blog called Laruen's Latest via Pinterest and said "holy moly, I have to make this!"  But, of course, I can never follow a recipe.  Besides, I didn't have any poppy seeds, nor did I have white vinegar, and I don't eat sugar.  So, here's how I made the salad:

Place as much kale, as many strawberries, avocado chunks, and pecans on a plate (or in a bowl) as desired.  Top with Bacon Kombucha Vinaigrette.  Serve and enjoy!

Bacon Kombucha Vinaigrette

½ c homemade mayonnaise (I use the recipe from Nourishing Traditions – you can also find it here)
1 T over-fermented kombucha
1 T grade B maple syrup*
4 strips crispy bacon, crumbled
S & P to taste

Whisk the mayonnaise, kombucha, and syrup together.  Add crumbled bacon.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Best served while the bacon is still warm.

This was enough dressing for 2-3 lunch sized salad portions.

*This makes a fairly sweet dressing.  If sweet dressings aren't your thing, cut back on the amount of syrup.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Easy Weeknight Dinners

I am always searching for easy, nutritious weeknight dinners.  We've found a set of two back-to-back dinners that we love - Blackened Chicken with Avocado Cream and Ginger Lime Chicken Bites both served with riced cauliflower.

I will buy 4 chicken breasts from The Organic Butcher and use two for each meal.  On the first night, I will prepare the riced cauliflower (recipe below).  Both the blackened chicken and ginger lime chicken bites are quick and easy so it's a toss up of which to prepare the first night.

Riced Cauliflower

1 head of cauliflower
2 Tbsp coconut oil
S&P to taste
Dash garlic (fresh chopped, garlic powder, or garlic salt)
1 Tbsp chopped cilantro

- Chop the cauliflower into a food processor and pulse until the pieces are the size of couscous to rice
- Place the coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat
- Add all remaining ingredients to the hot skillet and cook for about 4 minutes 

Blackened Chicken

I was inspired by the Blackened Chicken recipe from Sarcastic Cooking.  It takes about 15 minutes from start to finish.  I have changed up a few things.  Here's how I make it:

2 chicken breasts
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp cumin
2 tsp of oil to fry (coconut oil, butter, or lard)

- Mix all seasonings and rub onto chicken
- Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat
- Add chicken breasts and cook approximately 5 minutes on each side covered

For the Avocado Cream, mix 1/2 an avocado with 1 tbsp of full fat plain yogurt.

I like to serve slices of chicken on top of the riced cauliflower topped with the avocado cream.  Delish!





 Ginger Lime Chicken Bites

I found this recipe through Pinterest from The Healthy Gluten Free Life.  I actually make this recipe exactly as written except I only use 2 chicken breasts instead of 3.  I like it a little more saucy so that the riced cauliflower has a chance to soak up some of the sauce.  I love adding a few more green onions and sesame seeds on top.  This recipe also takes about 15 minutes start to finish.

What are some of your favorite, fast, nutritious weeknight dinners?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Review - U.S. Wellness Meats

First view of the package
Two weeks ago, I ordered lots of meat from U.S. Wellness Meats.  I placed my order on Sunday the 10th and the meat was at my front door by 11am on the 13th!  I played it risky and did not come home from work to put my meat away until after 4pm.  Everything was still happily frozen!  There was a very thick Styrofoam cooler protecting my frozen meats inside of a cardboard box.  Everything was packaged beautifully.  Here are all of the items I purchased:

Beef bacon - delish!
Bison jerky - absolutely amazing!  I cannot wait to order more!
Ground pork.  

Pork tenderloin roast - two pack, 1 lb each.
Spicy beef jerky and pemmican sticks.  I was so excited about the pemmican sticks but I am not in love.  Maybe I will give them another try but I am not a fan of the texture.

My meats were delivered on time, extremely fresh tasting, and competitively priced.  I am in love with U.S. Wellness Meats and I will definitely order from them in the future!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Kari's Kitchen - What's Cooking!

This weekend I was not as ambitious as last weekend!  Friday evening we went to our community meeting/gathering.  We have no HOA in our community so the gatherings are more for neighbors to get together and chat while enjoying some snacks and drinks.  For a snack, I made some cream cheese and peperoncini stuffed salami wedges.  They are quick and easy and people seem to love them!

Rallo staring out the window.
Saturday I slept in!  It rarely happens anymore because of our 1 year old beagle puppy, Rallo.  He loves to wake up and then chew on anything he can find - lip balm, socks, hair ties, hats, shoes, etcI slept in so late that I didn't even make breakfast.  Never a good thing!

As soon as I was fully awake, I made "The Original Hamburger Helper" from  Healthy Living How To.  For once, I followed the recipe!  The dish looked exactly like the picture on the blog (sorry, I forgot to take a picture!) and it was super tasty!  My husband happily ate it and wanted more!  Later that evening we had leftovers.

Stir-Fried Green Beans

Sunday morning I made scrambled eggs and bacon.  We still had some bacon left over from the last time I went to The Organic Butcher.  For lunch, we snacked on some leftovers.  For dinner, I made Stir-Fried Green Beans with Shrimp and Garlic from Food & Wine's site.  Of course, I changed a few things in the recipe.  Instead of vegetable oil, I used lard.  I added some black pepper and red pepper flakes while the shrimp and green beans were sizzling.  Also, I steamed the green beans a little before adding them to the skillet.  A very tasty, quick dish!  I think from start to finish it took about 16 minutes!

Last night I ordered some meat from U.S. Wellness Meats, an online store specializing in grass-fed meats.  I've heard wonderful things about their meats and I love their mission:

"Do what's good for our animals, good for our planet and good for you."

I can't wait for my products to arrive and will definitely provide a review!  I especially cannot wait to try their beef Pemmican sticks.  I had never heard of these before but they seem like something I'd enjoy!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Kari's Kitchen - What's cooking!

I LOVE to cook!  I love everything about cooking except for the clean up.  On the weekends, I like to try new recipes and/or make things that require a long time commitment.

Right before pouring the lard off
This weekend I rendered some lard!  I acquired some pork fat from Whiffletree Farm, cut it into chunks, threw it in the crock pot, and turned it on low.  The last time I made lard, I was removing the lard as the fat melted (every two hours or so).  This was a pain.  This time, I decided to just let it go and remove it once it was all melted down.  I left it on for about 15 hours before pouring my lard into glass jars.  I attempted to make cracklings but could not get them crispy enough for my liking.  I might use them in something, but I'm not going to sit down and have them as a crunchy snack.

Friday night, after throwing the pork fat in the crock pot, I made a Coconut Flour Bread.  I found the recipe here, on Nourished Kitchen's website.  My bread came out looking nothing like the picture on the site but it was very tasty!  I'm sad I didn't take a picture of it, but I'm sure I'll be making it again.

Bacon and Baked Portobello with Egg
For breakfast Saturday morning, I tried a new recipe.  I saw a recipe for Stuffed Portobellos on Pinterest and followed the pin to a post on What's Cooking, Mexico?.  I only had rosemary on hand but the taste was great!  My egg did not fill up the portobello and I had to cook the portobellos with eggs a little longer than the recipe.  I served them with a side of bacon from The Organic Butcher of McLean.  A very tasty and filling breakfast!

French Toast!
Late Saturday night, it hit me, "I should make the coconut flour bread into French Toast!"  So that is precisely what I did Sunday morning!  I used approximately equal parts egg and milk, added a little vanilla and cinnamon and soaked my bread.  I fried them in a skillet with butter for about 3 minutes on each side.  Served with some berries and maple syrup and a side of bacon, DELISH!  Definitely a breakfast I'll be making again!

All weekend I had been trying to think about something to do with some shredded chicken I had pulled out of the freezer (it was starting to get a little frost bitten and needed to be used).  I finally decided on a shredded chicken, pesto, diced tomato, and Monterey jack bake.  I mixed everything together, put some of the cheese on top, and popped it in the oven for about 30 minutes at 350°.  It came out cheesy and gooey.  It tasted pretty good, not spectacular.  You can't win them all!

Now onto meal planning for the week.  What should I make?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

What A Year Can Do!

It amazes me to think that just a year ago I did not know what I was putting into my body and I did not care.  I was 207 lbs, exhausted, and extremely discouraged by my lack of results while trying to follow a certain weight loss program.  One day, while trying to find a satisfying, low point snack, I wrote on Facebook, "A Tbsp of peanut butter really shouldn't be 3 points....  It makes me sad and mad at the same time."  I received a lot of comments with similar feelings to mine, but one was very different.  It was from my friend and former co-worker Stacy (of PaleoParents.com).  She shared her story and challenged me to try to eat a different way for 30 days.  She suggested I focus on going low carb, low sugar, and to remove overly processed oils from my diet.  I had already seen the amazing transformation she had made in her life and decided that I would take her up on her challenge.  I asked my friend Melanie for some advice on what I should eat and avoid.  I trusted Melanie's advice as she had been attending Tai Sophia to study Nutrition and improved her health through real food.  She directed me to a few articles on the Weston A. Price Foundation's website.  I researched the site and read a ton of posts on PaleoParent's blog.  I felt ready to take on the challege!

 Here are some before pictures:

Taken 4/9/11.  Approximately 212 lbs.
Taken 12/24/11.
Taken 12/26/11.  208.4 lbs
 On January 30, 2012, I gave up sugar and processed foods and have been going strong ever since!  As I started my journey, I read "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig (which soon because my nutrition bible!) and "Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It" by Gary Taubes.  By February I was roasting chicken and making bone broth!  I started attending events with the Northern Virginia Whole Food Nutrition Meetup Group.  I began buying pastured chickens and grass fed beef from Whiffletree Farm (now one of my very favorite places to buy meat!).  I officially cancelled my membership with that "certain weight loss program" on February 16th.  I was feeling great!  I had already lost weight (I was down to 198.4 lbs)!  I was shocked by how much progress I had seen. In March, my husband Chris and I signed up for a CSA through Great Country Farms.  For some reason, I decided to have some non-traditionally prepared grains one weekend and my body could definitely feel it!  I was bloated and sluggish.

By June I was making traditional fermented ketchup (with this recipe from Nourished Kitchen).  The ketchup was so awesome that I signed up for Nourished Kitchen's meal plans!  I started brewing kombucha with a SCOBY given to me by Melanie.  I started making LARD!

Here are some "during" pictures:
Taken 7/7/12.  179.0 lbs.
Taken 5/24/12.  181.8 lbs.

Taken 11/29/12.  173.8 lbs.

Taken 12/20/12.  172 lbs.

Today, a year after being challenged to change my diet, I am 35 lbs lighter, I have less aches and pains, my hair is shinier and less frizzy, and my poop has improved tremendously (sorry if that's TMI for a first post)!

I want to share the highlights of my journey and help people discover real, whole, unprocessed foods.  I hope you'll join me on my journey!