Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Paleo Nut Butter Cookies

I am a cook, not a baker or pastry chef, but as my cooking has evolved, I have less and less fears regarding baking and testing a recipe.  Since switching my way of eating to Paleo 2 short months ago, all I have wanted to do is cook and get even more creative.  I looked everywhere for a nut butter cookie recipe to give me that replacement for a peanut butter cookie done the old fashioned way.  None of them made me happy.  Texture issues, didn't satisfy the craving... I don't know they just didn't work for me.  I have been dreaming about these and playing around with them and the ratio's for a while.  I like fluffy, soft but slightly crumbly cookies.  I wanted to taste the nut butter... I wanted them to be salty and sweet... I wanted them to hold up if I wanted to drizzle them in chocolate or dip them in chocolate.  Anyway... my idea is done and these are making me one happy girl!

Paleo Nut Butter Cookies

Ingredients (yields 1 doz medium size cookies)

1/2 cup of Nut Butter (your choice, I used Almond)
1 egg (room temperature)
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons coconut flour
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/4 coconut oil (room temperature)
1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Mix nut butter, egg and honey in a bowl or mixer.  Blend well!  In another bowl, mix together, salt, baking soda, coconut flour and shredded coconut. 

Slowly incorporate your dry ingredients into your wet ingredients to form a dough. 

Once your dough is ready, form balls of dough about the size of a golf ball and the then press down with 2 fingers so you have a medallion shape. 

Bake cookies for about 10 to 12 minutes, they should have a slight bit of brown around the edges.  Let cool on tray for about 10 mins they transfer to cooling rack until completely cool.


Monday, March 4, 2013

Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Salsa Verde over Spinach and Arugula

Sometimes when you see a recipe you have to wonder, who in the world thought this would all go together.  This pork tenderloin has some zing... no doubt about it.  However, it is soft, moist, juicy and full of flavor.  Even my kids gobble it up!  I hardly had time to grab a picture before everyone was grabbing for their plates asking if they could eat.  We make this probably once a week.  In the summer time we skewer it and cook it on the grill... in winter, I pan sear and then throw it in the oven. 

I guess what makes this dinner a little funny is it has 3 different acidic tones.  For the marinade, it is white wine vinegar.  For the salsa verde it is lemon (juice and zest) and for the salad.. balsamic!  Yes, I do know what your thinking... pucker city.... but not really.  It is just perking things up.  Trust me you won't be disappointed.

Ingredients for the Pork
Feeds family of 4 -- if you want leftovers make 2 :)

1lb pork tenderloin
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
1 large clove of garlic minced (2 cloves if they are small)
1/2 shallot minced
1 to 2 tablespoons honey
salt to taste

Whisk all the ingredients, except pork, together in a large bowl. Start with one tablespoon of honey and add more if needed... add a pinch of salt and more if needed but don't over salt as you will salt your pork.
Cut pork into chunks. If doing indoor, cut into 4 big chunks, if cooking outside on the grill, cut into about a 2 bite size chunks. Put the pork in the bowl of marinade for 30 to 40 mins. Rotate pork in marinade a few times before cooking.

Pre-heat oven to 400 

Heat your pan with a little olive oil or pre-heat grill. Only heat to medium high heat as you want to sear your meat but don't want to burn your marinade. As you take your hunks o'pork out of the bowl, sprinkle with salt then place hunks of pork in heated skillet... and sear each side. If doing on grill, skewer your meat and grill on skewers. Use the remaining marinade in the bowl to baste over your meat as you turn it. Trust me this is a must do! So turn and baste.
Once all sides are seared, put skillet in oven for meat to finish cooking. About 20 mins. If using grill, rotate kebabs and baste until just under done... remove from grill and let rest about 15 mins before serving. Remove from oven and let rest about 15 mins before slicing and serving.

TIP:  Don't marinade your meat for more than 30 mins.  15 to 30 minutes is all it needs and your meat should be standing by to get the chill off for at least 30 mins prior to putting in the marinade.  If you marinade too long, your meat will start to cook in the vinegar and will loose the tenderness.  

Ingredients for the Salsa Verde
(You can make this up to a day in advance, the longer it sits the better it gets)

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons salt-packed capers, rinsed and chopped
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh mint
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons anchovy paste
1 clove garlic, minced
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/4 jalapeno, seeded and minced (about 1teaspoon)
1 shallot, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Spoon this over your meat once plated before serving!  My kids don't like the salsa verde it's too spicy.  They do however, like if I reserve a little of the marinade before I put the meat in to spoon over their meat.

This is particularly awesome served over a bed of arugula and baby spinach that is lightly dressed with a little balsamic, olive oil and salt and pepper!

Serve whatever other veggie you want! Add some pomegranate to your salad for an extra kick!

Paleo/Primal Comfort Food - Meatballs & Cheese Sauce

I haven't posted much of anything recently because life just has been that busy.  Add to that our recent changes in the way we eat... it makes me want to go back through my blog and adjust and change as many recipes as possible to make them Paleo/Primal/Grain-Free.  We have been trying a lot of new recipes and learning new ways to eat and cook, but sometimes, you just crave the familiar.  Sometimes, you really want food to bring you that comfort feeling.  It's been a long winter here and no end in sight for the cold and snow.  The kids were begging for macaroni and cheese and I really wanted meatballs!  The old me would have cut up some stale bread and soaked it in milk for an hour, squeezed out the excess and put that in my meatballs to give them softness and moisture.  I know some people use bread crumbs, but dry bread crumbs just suck out all the moisture and leave you with a dry meatball.  This is the way my family and others have done it for years and people love my meatballs.  BUT since we no longer can use bread... it got me thinking.  Anyway, after a little playing around, I got the right mix and you wouldn't know there was not any milk soaked bread in my meatballs.  The old me would have also made the cheese sauce for their mac & cheese by starting with a rue. 

Everybody does these paleo/primal/grain-free changes differently, and I truly believe you have to find what works best for you and your family.  We were already a no processed foods family, so the transition was pretty uneventful.  Anyway... my kids wanted macaroni and cheese and I really wanted meatballs and this is what we came up with and everybody was happy even Dad!

Spaghetti Squash with Primal Cheese Sauce and Paleo or Primal Meatballs

Ingredients for the Meatballs
1lb of grass-fed ground beef
1 clove of garlic
1 shallot
1 large organic free-range egg
1 tsp fresh oregano or 1/2 tsp dried
1 tsp fresh basil or 1/2 tsp dried
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (omit if you don't do dairy)
Pinch crushed red pepper
1 tsp sea-salt
1/2 TBS coconut flour

Ingredients for the "Pasta"
1 or 2 Spaghetti Squash depending on the size of your squash
Olive Oil
Can't get Spaghetti Squash?  Make Zucchini Ribbon Noodles :)

Ingredients for Cheese Sauce
1 cup organic heavy cream
8oz. organic mascarpone cheese or make your own (homemade mascarpone cheeese)
1 cup mix of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, Romano & Asiago cheeses
1/2 tsp salt
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Method for Meatballs
In a medium mixing bowl, add beef.  Grate in the garlic and shallot.  If you don't want the garlic to be too strong use a small clove.  Then grate in the shallot.  Add your salt and crushed red pepper.  Dice your fresh herbs and add to bowl or measure your dried herbs and add to bowl.  Mix everything together.  Don't over mix, you don't want your meat to tighten up when cooking.  
Sprinkle the coconut flour over a now very wet mixture and incorporate gently.  On a medium low heat, warm your frying pan and add a touch of olive oil or coconut oil... then put your formed meatballs in the pan.  
Cook slowly and turn as each side browns.  Remove from heat and let rest in the warm skillet for about 10 to 15 mins before serving.

 Method for Spaghetti Squash

Preheat your oven to 350 F.  Cut the ends off your squash and then cut lengthwise down your squash so you have two boat like halves.  Scrape out the seeds and guts.  Drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle liberally with salt.  Place in an oven safe roasting dish and bake for 20 to 30 mins until squash pulls away like noodles easily with a fork.  Once done, let cool for a few minutes until easy to handle.  Turn off oven.  Pull the noodles strands out of the squash and place in an oven safe bowl.  or back into your roasting pan.  Place squash back into the still warm but off oven to stay warm until everything else is ready.

Method for Cheese Sauce

In a medium/large cold saucepan or saucier, place your mascarpone cheese and then add your cream.  Turn burner on medium low heat.  Let mixture start to warm slow and gentle otherwise your mascarpone will break.  You can sub organic cream cheese but it will add that cream cheese tang to your sauce.  Using a whisk, continually whisk as it gently warms so that cream and mascarpone are well incorporated and no lumps.  Add your salt and nutmeg.  Then add your grated cheese mix.  Continue to stir/whisk gently until all cheese is incorporated.  Taste your sauce, add a little salt if necessary.  Turn down your heat and let it continue to cook together and the cream reduces slightly.  This whole process should take about 20 mins.  The sauce when done should coat your spoon. 

To assemble.  In a terrine or bowl, add your squash, then laddle over your sauce then add your meatballs and grate some fresh Parm-Reg over the top.  Delish!  Enjoy!

This would also work well with red sauce and meatballs over your squash if you don't do diary.