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{Paleo Pantry} Cinnamon Bacon Braised Beef Stew

Hey Monday! Did you hear? The Broncos are going to the Super Bowl … yeehaw!*  That game was a good way for the weekend to make up for the storm that was indeed a heartbreaker. Not only did we not get two feet of snow, we didn’t get a single flake!?! We spent all day Saturday waiting for the storm to come. TimTheFarmer had the plow blade on the truck, I got my workout in early, the chicken fence came down, and I had the stew meat defrosted. See? Country song. While we didn’t get a storm, we did have some great stew.

I was feeling so dejected by the storm that I was having trouble putting any effort into dinner (I might like snowstorms more than really good food) and found a recipe that required 5 ingredients and barely any work #sold. The recipe called for 2 pounds of stew meat and I’d only defrosted one, and it called for cauliflower rice and I didn’t have any cauliflower. You can see why I chose it right? I decided to take inspiration from the recipe and work with what I had. It was a blizzard outside after all and getting to the store was out of the question. #not

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In paleo, cauliflower rice is an awesome substitute for rice or a starch when you need something to soak up the sauce. Another great option is spaghetti squash. I had 8 spaghetti squash (I told you I was ready for the storm…or they were on sale), so I decided to use that as a base for the stew. Am I the only one for whom spaghetti squash is a mind blower? Every time I cook one, I find it absolutely amazing that you’ve got this ready made spaghetti shape from a squash. And, if you don’t overcook it, it can be a decent pasta substitution.

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I also added in bacon to make up for the missing stew meat. As we all know, bacon makes everything better. 

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Family consensus – delicious! The cinnamon with the beef, in a savory application, was totally unexpected, and really really tasty. Plus, the house smelled amazing. This is a super easy meal that we’ll definitely make again.

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Cinnamon Bacon Braised Beef Stew with Spaghetti Squash
Serves 4
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1lb stew meat, cut into 1" chunks
  2. 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  3. 8 slices thick cut bacon, cut into 1/2" chunks
  4. 3 cinnamon sticks
  5. 4-6 cups beef broth
  6. Salt and pepper to taste
  7. 1 spaghetti squash, halved and seeded
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Heat large pot over medium heat and add bacon. Cook until almost crispy. Remove with slotted spoon to a paper towel. Set aside.
  3. While bacon cooks, pat beef dry and season with salt and pepper. Once bacon is cooked and removed from pot, add beef in single layer to pot. If there is not at least 2 tbsp of fat in pan from bacon, add coconut oil to get you to 2 tbsp. Cook over medium heat until all sides of beef cubes are browned. Remove to a plate with slotted spoon.
  4. Add onions to pan, again adding fat if below 1-2 tbsp. Sauté onions until soft.
  5. Add beef and cinnamon sticks to the onions and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix together and cook for 2 minutes.
  6. Add 4 cups of beef broth, scraping the browned bits from the pan. Bring to a simmer and then turn heat down to low and simmer for 40-60 minutes until beef is fork tender. Keep an eye on the liquid and either cover the pot if the liquid is evaporating too quickly or add a bit more stock. You want the liquid to thicken to just cover the stew meat, but not burn off.
  7. When you add the beef broth, put the squash on a baking sheet, cut side down and cook for 30-40 minutes until a fork easily pierces the skin.** Remove from oven and let rest until stew is ready.
  8. When meat is fork tender, "fluff" the spaghetti squash by raking the flesh with a fork to remove from the skin.
  9. Serve the stew over a bed of spaghetti squash.
Notes
  1. **Be careful not to cook the squash until it's mushy as you'll lose the crisp spaghetti texture of the squash.
Adapted from Mediterranean Paleo
Adapted from Mediterranean Paleo
Isn't That Grand? http://isntthatgrand.com/
*Anyone who knows me will call me out on only caring about football in the post season. It’s true. I’ll own it. Just thought I should put that out there. Honesty is important.



{Paleo Pantry} Quick and Easy Salmon Burger Recipe

I’m sitting here in an ice storm (it finally feels like winter! it finally feels like winter!) listening to ice tink on the windows and know I won’t be going anywhere today.

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It’s these days that make me grateful for a strategically stocked pantry and freezer. I have a few meals that are my go-to quick meals (hello taco salad!) and these salmon burgers have definitely become a staple on days when I need a quick meal, or when I can’t drive the 20 minutes to the grocery store.

Paleo Salmon Burgers

First, let’s talk salmon burgers. How many times have you ordered a salmon burger and gotten a bland, dry, lame excuse of a burger? Salmon burgers, like turkey burgers, can be really awful if the cook doesn’t take the time to add some serious flavor to them. You’ve got to go big or go home with seasoning. I’ve become a big fan of salmon burgers in the last year because they’re a great way to get all the nutrition that comes from wild Alaskan salmon without the price tag. For health and sustainability purposes, we only eat wild Alaskan salmon (as I read somewhere “there are no salmon left in the Atlantic”), but it can run you $10-20/lb, which makes it a treat, not an everyday meal. I discovered canned wild Alaskan salmon and buy it in bulk. It’s pink salmon, not the fancy sockeye or king salmon, but is affordable, healthy, and works great for salmon burgers. I buy it once a month at Costco. As an FYI, you could also call these salmon cakes, like crab cakes, if that makes you feel better.

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Second, let’s talk Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo. This book was one of my first purchases (also from Costco, are you sensing a theme here?) when we went paleo more than a year ago and it’s been a lifesaver. It does a great job of outlining the different versions of paleo and offers options for what your restrictions are (FODMAP, nightshade, or egg free). It makes it easy and delicious to cut out all grains and dairy. I use her base for salmon burgers and then throw in whatever tasty ingredients we have on hand.

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Third, let’s talk cookbook notes. I am a huge fan of writing in cookbooks because, as TimTheFarmer will attest to, I have an awful memory. This is a great way of remembering if a recipe was good and what changes I made to the recipe. Your cookbooks are not library books kids – mark them up!

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I’d highly recommend adding canned wild salmon (and coconut flour) to your pantry – you’ll have the rest of the ingredients in your pantry and will have another easy, go-to meal in your dinner (or lunch) arsenal. 

Variations:

  • Use some sort of onion/garlic flavor. Depending on the season I use garlic scapes, green onions/scallions, red onions, garlic, or some combo of the above.
  • Use a zesty sauce. Or not. I love horseradish, so I often use that, but dijon mustard or siracha would work. If you’re not into heat, just add a bit of mayonnaise to add a little creaminess. 
  • Use fresh (or dried) herbs. Again, depending on the season I’ll add chopped parsley or dill.
  • Add lemon juice or zest. I love the freshness this adds.
  • Make a dipping sauce. I love a dipping sauce. I usually just mix homemade mayonnaise with a bit of horseradish or lemon and garlic to spread on top of the burgers.

IMG_8998Let me know if you try these – I’d love to hear what you think!

Paleo Salmon Burgers
Serves 2
A quick and easy paleo pantry recipe.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
25 min
For the salmon burgers
  1. 2 6 oz cans of wild salmon, drained
  2. 2 eggs, beaten
  3. 3-5 tbsp minced onion (green onions, scapes, shallots, red onions)
  4. 1-2 cloves of minced garlic
  5. 1/2 tsp salt
  6. 1/8 tsp pepper
  7. 1/4 smoked paprika
  8. 2 tsp sauce (dijon mustard, horseradish etc.)
  9. 1-2 tsp of coconut flour
  10. coconut oil or butter for frying
For the sauce
  1. 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  2. 1 tsp horseradish OR 1 minced garlic clove
  3. 1 tsp lemon juice
For the salmon burgers
  1. Combine all ingredients except coconut flour in a bowl.
  2. Sprinkle the coconut flour over the mixture and mix in.
  3. Form the mixture into four equal sized patties.
  4. Heat the oil/butter in a large pan over medium heat. You need enough oil to create a 1/4 inch layer on the pan.
  5. Place the patties into the pan and allow to brown on one side before flipping. Brown both sides and cook through. Serve with sauce or a lemon wedge.
For the sauce
  1. Combine mayonnaise with horseradish or lemon juice and garlic. Yep, it's that easy.
Notes
  1. I'll serve this on a bed of greens, wrapped in butter lettuce, with avocado, or on an actual bun for non-paleo peeps.
Adapted from Practical Paleo
Adapted from Practical Paleo
Isn't That Grand? http://isntthatgrand.com/


{Paleo Pantry} The Best Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Do you remember the episode of Friends where Phoebe tries to gift Monica her grandma’s chocolate chip cookie recipe because it’s the best recipe ever? The recipe was burned in Phoebe’s apartment fire and they spend the episode trying to recreate it from the sole remaining cookie. Then, after countless tries, Phoebe remembers that her grandma’s friend, Nestele Toulouse, gifted her the recipe. Yes, the recipe was from the back of the Nestle Toll House chocolate chip bag. Classic Friends.

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For some reason I’ve always been skeptical of the recipes on the back of the bag (any bag). Perhaps it’s because I don’t want to trust “the man” or because I want it to come from some fancy cookbook or because—and most likely—I tried for years when I was little to make the perfect chocolate chip cookies from the back of the bag and they never turned out perfect, or the same, each time. #longestsentenceever

We started eating paleo a little over a year ago and ventured into the world of gluten-free baking. It was definitely hit or miss. Then, Jesse and E came to visit and brought paleo chocolate chip cookies that E had made. And they were AMAZING. They were moist and fluffy and the perfect thickness and absolutely amazing. I seriously ate 4 while we were sitting there after dinner. Somehow that’s ok, because they’re just made from eggs and almond flour and maple syrup #justificationrocks. And guess what? The recipe was from the back of the Bob’s Red Mill almond flour bag. #friendsforthewin***

ChocCookies3Jesse tried to recreate them a few different times and every time they came out like crispy pancakes.  We weren’t sure what the problem was, but I decided to make them on moving day … because I had nothing better to do. And, I figured out the secret. You ready?? …………. Don’t melt the coconut oil. It’s that simple. Using melted/liquid coconut oil seems to make the cookies too moist and they turn into pancakes. 

ChocCookies2These cookies are gluten, dairy, soy, and sugar free. Sounds awful right? But, they taste amazing, seriously. They do have eggs and nuts. To make them (somewhat) affordable I buy my almond flour and Good Life (allergen-free) chocolate chips through Thrive Market. Usually they don’t have regular chocolate chips, only chunks, so, like a crazy person, I cut them up so they don’t take over the cookie. 

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I also buy my vanilla, maple syrup, and coconut oil at Costco because it’s far more affordable than the grocery store.

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Two things: first, don’t be afraid of Costco’s private label. I used to have a client in the food industry who produced a high end product and they relabeled it as Kirkland’s for Costco. They said Costco is really particular on what they private label. Second, this coconut oil label cracks me up. The farm on this label looks like it’s from the Pacific Northwest. Really??? Coconut oil from the PNW?? Let’s call a spade a spade people. #wheresthepalmtrees


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Anyway, here’s the recipe from the back of Bob’s Red Mill almond flour. It’s super quick and easy (I made these last night while dinner was in the oven) and the cookies have come out amazing every time!

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The Best Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yields 15
Easy and delicious sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free chocolate cookie.
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Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
25 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 c. Bob's Red Mill almond meal/flour**
  2. 1 tsp baking soda
  3. 1/2 tsp salt
  4. 1/4 c. coconut oil (solid state)
  5. 1/4 c. maple syrup
  6. 1 whole egg
  7. 2 egg whites***
  8. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  9. 1 cup Good Life chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat.
  2. Combine almond meal, baking soda and sea salt in small bowl and set aside.
  3. Mix coconut oil and maple syrup in a mixer or by hand until creamy but not fully incorporated, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add whole egg, egg whites, and vanilla and mix for 2 additional minutes.
  5. Slowly add dry ingredients to egg mixture and mix until barely combined.
  6. Add chocolate chips and mix until well combined.
  7. Place large rounded tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets, about 1-inch apart. Flatten slightly, to approximately 1-inch thickness.
  8. Bake until golden, 12-15 minutes.
Notes
  1. * 10 minute prep time does not account for crazy chocolate chip chopping.
  2. ** I tried to save money by grinding my own almond flour in the blender, but it comes out too fine/mushy for these cookies.
  3. *** I save the egg yolks for TimTheFarmer's breakfast the next day.
Adapted from Bob's Red Mill almond flour bag
Isn't That Grand? http://isntthatgrand.com/
***Update: it turns out Jesse actually made the first batch of cookies, and that it was E’s recipe which was not from the back of the Bob’s bag and did not even included coconut oil. How amazing is it that I totally made this story up in my head and totally believed it. It makes me fairly concerned about my reality in general, but that’s something I won’t dwell on. Jesse pointed out that my version is better because then it doesn’t look like she kept failing to recreate her own recipe. That’s why I put this way down here. I’m not overly confident many people make it to this point on my blog 🙂

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