Slow Cooker Hearty Beef Stew

imageI adapted this recipe from the America’s Test Kitchen version. This stew is a winter classic, and the kitchen wizards over at ATK have perfected it by coming up with a way to allow the meat to slow cook while preventing the veggies from becoming a mushy mess (spoiler: you’ll put them in a tin-foil packet on top of the stew). I like to prep this in the evening and leave it cooking overnight, floating out of bed in the morning and following the aroma of slow-cooked beef into the kitchen . . .  Michael Scott gets it.

 

Slow Cooker Hearty Beef Stew

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 pounds grass-fed beef stew meat (chuck) or bison, cut into 2” pieces
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons fat of choice (olive oil or avocado oil work well)
  • 1 large yellow onion, minced
  • 1 package sliced mushrooms (white or baby bella)
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or beef broth
  • 3 tablespoons coconut aminos
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons Minute tapioca

DIRECTIONS

  1. Pat meat dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat until shimmering. Cook half of the beef until it is well browned on each side, about 4 minutes. Put the meat in the slow cooker and follow the same process with the second half of the meat (you may need to add another tablespoon of oil to the pan if it looks a little dry). Remove the meat to the slow cooker.
  3. Return the skillet to medium heat and add another tablespoon of oil. Add the onions, mushrooms, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until the onions are translucent and golden, about 6 minutes.
  4. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the broth and coconut aminos and stir to deglaze the pan, scraping up all the browned bits.
  6. Bring the mixture to a boil and transfer it to the slow cooker. Add bay leaves and tapioca.
  7. In a large bowl, toss the carrots, parsnips, sweet potato, 1 tablespoon oil,  and 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme. On the counter, lay out a large piece of aluminum foil. Place the tossed vegetables on one side of the foil. Fold the foil over the vegetables and crimp the edges really well to form a little foil packet that will fit in the top of your slow cooker. Place the packet in the slow cooker on top of the beef mixture.
  8. Cover the slow cooker, and cook on high for 6-7 hours or low for 10-11 hours.
  9. When the stew is finished cooking, remove the foil packet from the top of the stew. Carefully open the foil packet (watch out for the steam that will escape as you open it!). Return the vegetables and any juices to the slow cooker and gently mix them into the stew. Add remaining ½ teaspoon fresh thyme, and salt and pepper to taste.

Parsnip Truffle Fries with Roasted Garlic Aioli

imageThese crispy, salty, crave-worthy fries may not make it off of the baking sheet, know what I mean? They’re a quick side that I like alongside a burger and arugula salad, or just on their own (IMMEDIATELY).

The recipe below uses truffle oil, but if you’re not a fan of that musky flavor, try plain with sea salt or make garlic fries instead: saute chopped garlic in olive oil and drizzle the mixture over the warm fries.

Parsnip Truffle Fries with Roasted Garlic Aioli

Ingredients:

For the fries:
1 1/2 lbs parsnips, scrubbed clean
1 T olive oil
1 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
1 tsp black truffle oil, plus more to taste
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, stems discarded and leaves minced

For the aioli:
1/3 cup paleo mayo
5 cloves of garlic (unpeeled)
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp chopped parsley

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Cut parsnips into matchsticks by trimming off the top and bottom, halving, halving once more, then cutting into wedges, then strips, and set aside.
  3. Place the garlic cloves (with their papery skins still on) on a piece of aluminum foil and drizzle with olive oil, Wrap the foil around the garlic to make a small foil packet.
  4. Place parsnip fries on a baking sheet, then drizzle with oil and toss to coat. Arrange in one layer and sprinkle with sea salt. Place the baking sheet in the oven, along with the foil packet of garlic.
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes, tossing/flipping once to ensure more crispy edges and even cooking.
  6. When the fries are done, they should be golden brown and crispy.When the roasted garlic is done, it should feel soft.
  7. Drizzle the fries with truffle oil and sprinkle with parsley and more sea salt, then toss to coat.
  8. For the aioli: Allow the garlic to cool to the point that you can handle it (be careful — the inside may still be pretty hot!). Squeeze each clove out off its papery skin and into the mayo. Add parsley and stir well.
  9. Dip fries into aioli with abandon.

Corey’s Famous Sausage Soup (+ Kale)

This recipe comes from my friend Corey’s blog, Corey’s Clean Eats — I made it for the first time this weekend and now I know why it’s famous. It’s hearty, warming, and a little spicy, and tastes even better the next day. I modified by adding kale at the end of cooking, subbing hot Italian sausages for sweet, and threw in fresh garlic and some thyme from my garden (which thinks it’s still fall outside). Thanks for the recipe, Corey!image

Corey’s Famous Sausage Soup (+ Kale), modified from the original, posted on Corey’s Clean Eats

Ingredients

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
4 large hot Italian sausages (good-quality pork, turkey, or chicken), casings removed and discarded
1 28 oz. can San Marzano diced tomatoes
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 cups low-sodium beef broth (if you can only find brands with added sugar, use all chicken broth instead)
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon sea salt (more to taste)
2 bay leaves
1 bunch kale, chopped and thick stems removed

Instructions

1. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.
2. Add onions, carrot, and celery and sauté until onions are translucent.
3. Add the sausage (without casings!) and  thyme, pepper, and salt.
4. Cook sausage, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink.
5. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
6. Add diced tomatoes and bring the mixture to a boil.
7. Add chicken broth, beef broth, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer, partially covered, for at least one hour.
8. Before serving, stir kale into the soup. It’s ready to serve about two minutes later (once kale has had a chance to cook briefly). Taste the soup and add more salt if necessary.

Corey says: “I tend to simmer my soup for long periods of time. I love how it makes my house smell, and I usually am doing 800 other things so leaving it on the stove to cook until I’m ready to eat works well for me. This soup is also exponentially more delicious the next day, once all the flavors have had a chance to meld together overnight.”

 

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

bananacookies1You should probably make these if you:

  • Have a couple mushy old bananas
  • Don’t feel like eating/making/washing the pan for a loaf banana bread
  • Want a sweet little goodie that’s easy to make
  • Are a monkey with access to a kitchen

What a pleasant surprise this recipe was! The resulting cookies taste like mini chocolate chip banana bread, and don’t have that wet, grainy texture that some other paleo banana/almond flour baked goods end up having. They obviously contain “paleoish” chocolate chips, but if you’re being strict you could replace them with walnuts or pecans and I bet they’d still be tasty. I haven’t tried that, so you can be a recipe pioneer on your own, you adventurous soul, you!

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies
Modified from: http://cavegirlinthecity.com/banana-chip-splatter-cookies/
Makes 18 small cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour (I like Honeyville or Bob’s Red Mill brands)
  • 1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp of baking powder
  • 2 overripe bananas
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips OR chopped up super dark (85%) chocolate without dairy or soy

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat (or grease it with coconut oil).
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mash bananas (I use a whisk to smash/stir). Mix in the egg and vanilla and whisk until any remaining chunks of banana are very small.
  3. Add the almond flour, shredded coconut, cinnamon, and baking powder. Mix to combine. (Note: The dough will be pretty wet, but if it’s looking so soupy that it would spread into a puddle on a baking sheet, add a bit more almond flour until it’s thick enough that it doesn’t spread.)
  4. Form about 2 tablespoons of dough at a time into small mounds on the baking sheet – it will be a bit too wet to form into balls like normal chocolate chip cookies.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Cashew and Poppy Seed Chicken Curry

I’ve started exploring a neglected tome on my cookbook shelf: 1,000 Indian Recipes by Neelam Batra, with the belief that there may be nothing better than spicy, fragrant Indian food in the depths of winter. Everything I’ve tried from it is layered with wonderfully complex flavors and spices from across India’s varied regions that I never dreamed I’d be able to reproduce in my own kitchen. Most of the recipes are paleo-friendly (especially if you include dairy from happy, grass-fed cows in your diet) and many offer new ways to prepare veggies beyond my standby method of roasting everything under the sun with some sea salt, so that’s promising!

I suggest getting to an Indian market for some of the ingredients listed below – they might be tough to find otherwise and are often inexpensive there.

Cashew and Poppy Seed Chicken Curry, adapted from the original recipe in 1,000 Indian Recipes by Neelam Batra

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped raw cashew nuts
  • 2 teaspoons white poppy seeds (you can substitute black poppy seeds if that’s all you can find)
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • Seeds from 10 green cardamom pods (crack open the pods with the flat side of a knife)
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 6 quarter-size slices peeled fresh ginger
  • 3 scallions, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, including soft stems
  • 1 to 2 fresh green chili peppers, such as serrano, stemmed
  • 1 cup plain yogurt, whisked until smooth (I used Maple Hill Creamery full-fat yogurt from my local Whole Foods because it’s from grass-fed cows. You can use coconut milk here if you’re avoiding dairy.)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground fenugreek seeds or methi powder (finely ground fenugreek seeds)
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 2 pounds chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream or water
  • 1/4 cup dry-roasted cashew nuts (roast raw cashews on a baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees until they’re golden brown)

Optional side to mop up that sauce: Paleo naan with cilantro and garlic

Instructions:

Soak the cashews and poppy seeds in hot water for about 1 hour. (If you’re short on time, use boiling water and soak for 30 minutes.) Transfer to a blender (or use a large bowl and immersion blender), add the cardamom seeds, garlic, ginger, scallions, cilantro, green chili peppers, and yogurt/coconut milk, and blend to make as smooth as possible, about 1 minute.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the cumin, fenugreek, and black pepper. They should sizzle upon contact with the hot oil. Quickly add the coriander, garam masala, salt, and chicken. Cook, stirring, until the chicken is golden, about 5 minutes. Remove to a bowl.

To the same pan, add the cashew-yogurt mixture and cook over high heat, stirring as needed, until most of the juices evaporate and the mixture becomes highly fragrant, about 10 minutes.

Add the chicken to the pan, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pan, and cook about 10 minutes to blend the flavors. Adjust salt, if you wish. Add the cream (or water) and boil a few minutes. Garnish with the roasted cashew halves, and serve.

Prep!

Prep!

Naan fried up in ghee, sprinkled with sea salt. Mmm.

Naan fried up in ghee, sprinkled with sea salt. Mmm.

Finished curry = green and spicaaay

Finished curry = green and spicaaay

Strawberry-Rhubarb Salad with Mint and Hazelnuts

IMG_5872This is a bright, light salad from Bon Appetit magazine that is fantastic to serve as a healthy dessert (and one that isn’t full of nut flour – hooray!). I brought it to a Mother’s Day brunch back in the spring and it was a big hit!

Strawberry-Rhubarb Salad with Mint and Hazelnuts, modified from Bon Appetit recipe

Ingredients

  • ½ cup blanched hazelnuts
  • 2 rhubarb stalks, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (I know, I know – added sugar, but you really need it to balance the sourness of the rhubarb)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 pounds strawberries, hulled, quartered
  • ¼ cup torn fresh mint leaves

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350°. Toast hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, 8–10 minutes. Let cool, then chop.

Meanwhile, toss rhubarb, maple syrup, orange juice, and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Let sit until rhubarb is slightly softened and releases its juices, about 30 minutes. Toss with strawberries, mint, and hazelnuts. If you’re ok with dairy, this is great with fresh whipped cream from grass-fed cows.

3-Ingredient Paleo Naan (or dessert crepe)

IMG_5073The only time I find myself missing bread is when I’ve cooked up a spicy Indian curry or daal and am left without a perfectly fluffy piece of naan with which to mop up the sauce/fill with meat so I don’t need to use utensils at all. You know, fitting behavior for the uncivilized cavegirl I am.

This recipe from My Heart Beets is freakishly easy to whip up once in awhile when you just need a little crispy flatbread goodness. It has NO flavor on its own, so you can add vanilla (maybe some cinnamon, get crazy!) and use it as a sweet crepe, or do what I did and add chopped cilantro, sea salt, and minced garlic for a savory version.

Paleo Naan, modified from the original recipe on My Heart Beets

Ingredients

  • ½ c blanched almond flour (Honeyville is my favorite)
  • ½ c tapioca flour
  • 1 c full fat coconut milk
  • ¼ c chopped cilantro (optional)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced (optional)
  • ¼ tsp sea salt (more to taste)
  • Ghee or other fat for cooking

Instructions

  1. Mix all the ingredients together. Note: If the cream has solidified in your canned coconut milk, then mix well before using.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Heat 1 tablespoon ghee or other fat in the skillet and pour some batter in (you can make about 2 large pieces of naan from the recipe, or several smaller ones – up to you!). You’ll want to spread the batter to be ¼-½ inch thick. If you’re making it into a dessert crepe, just spread the batter more thinly.
  3. Once the batter fluffs up and looks firm/mostly cooked, flip it over to cook the other side (be patient, this takes a little time!). Optional: brush with a little more ghee and sprinkle with salt before serving.