Maple Bourbon Sweet Potato Bisque

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So when we get in a recipe rut I usually turn to Pinterest for inspiration. Usually I find something that sounds incredible and tweak it so it fits into our lifestyle but every now and then you find a recipe that sounds perfect with little to no tweaking necessary. So thanks “How Sweet it is” for posting this Bourbon Sweet Potato Bisque:

http://www.howsweeteats.com/2013/02/bourbon-sweet-potato-bisque-with-brown-butter-cinnamon-sugar-croutons/

I’ve been dying to try it since I pinned it and imagine it will not disappoint. Here is my version, with a few minor tweaks:

20130930-135710.jpgNeeded:
3 large sweet potatoes peeled and cubed
1/2 one large red onion diced
1 cup of coconut milk
3 cups of veggie broth
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tiny shot bottles of maple bourbon
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp of butter
Crushed red pepper, S&P, curry, cinnamon
Walnuts to garnish

So start by adding all the fat to a large soup pot once the butter melts down add onions and garlic, cook over med high heat for a few minutes then add the bourbon, sweet potatoes, coconut milk and veggie broth, pot a lid on that and let it come to a boil

20130930-135953.jpg (I cooked mine for about 20 minutes) then turn off the heat and check that the potatoes are fork tender if they are then it’s time to blend. I used my emersion blender to break down the potatoes. (Protip: make sure the blender is submerged completely otherwise you’ll be wall papering your kitchen with molten lava soup particles. Don’t ask me how I know, and just ignore that soup in my hair) I garnished it with cinnamon and walnuts.
So I knew the potatoes were gonna take some time to cook through and even though I love potato soup in any form, it’s always kind of a one note dish. I wanted something else on the side. So I decided on Brussels sprouts.

Most of us hated them as kids. I think this is bc they are shaped like tiny brains. And tasted exactly how I think tiny brains would taste. But a few years ago my brother brought some to a family dinner, tiny brains cooked it butter. I didn’t want to try them. I didn’t want to like them. But it kind of changed my mind on this super nutrient dense food. Turns out butter really does make everything better!

So today I made Cranberry Bacon Brussels.
Here’s what you need:
Brussels Sprouts, stemmed and halved (roughly a pound?)
2 stripes of bacon cooked and diced up small
1/2 red onion
Few handfuls of Cranberries fresh or dried (I used dried)
Few handfuls of Walnuts
2 tablespoons of butter

-sorry I’m bad with measurements, I’m am eye baller. But you can’t really go wrong here just toss in what sounds good. First melt the butter then add the onions, and Brussel, and bacon.

20130930-140912.jpgLet that cook for about ten minutes over med heat then add the berries and walnuts.

20130930-141055.jpgI then cooked it covered for a few minutes more just to make sure they would be tender all the way through, then I gave it a shake of salt and pepper and called it done.

20130930-141255.jpgWe will defiantly have left overs bc this makes for two very filling dishes. But I’m actually pretty stoked to have this sweet potato bisque with my coffee in the morning 🙂

Roasted red pepper soup in acorn squash

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Especially in the fall Sundays are for football in our house. So I knew we were going to have a lazy day around the house and I’m so ready for all things fall, so for lunch today I made roasted red pepper soup in acorn squash, along with some famous Sandwell cider. The cider is a Sandwell tradition that Rob and I have been making for years, but the other recipes were first attempts. But total, total wins. Unfortunately we’ve already eaten every bite so there will be no leftovers for a yummy lunch tomorrow 😦

So if you want to get your fall on, here are some recipes to kick it off:

Sandwell cider:
1 large container of cranberry-apple juice
1 single serving bottle of orange juice
4 tablespoons of aspen mulling cider spices
Combine all into a crockpot and simmer, if you want a spiked version sometimes we add spiced rum 🙂

Roasted acorn squash:
Preheat oven to 375.
Then cut acorn squash in half, remove seeds and cut stems off so they will sit flat

20130929-175918.jpgThen sprinkle them with cinnamon, curry, sea salt, and pepper. Spray a baking dish with olive oil and spray the squash as well then place squash cut side down on the dish and bake until fork tender (about an hour, but longer won’t hurt, I forgot about mine and left it in the oven for about an hour and a half, whoops!)

20130929-180056.jpgRoasted red pepper soup:
I bought 4 bell peppers of assorted colors (based on what was on sale) half of one red onion, I cut them up but I didn’t worry about getting them too small bc I knew they were going in the food processor. I plopped my sloppily cut veg into a small baking dish and drizzled a tiny bit of olive oil over it and seasoned it the same as the squash, cinnamon, curry, S&P then I put that in the oven next to the squash. (And then carried on living my life and totally forgot about it…)

Until the smell reminded me something delicious was in the oven.
When I got back to the kitchen the squash was cooked perfectly fork tender, and so were the peppers. Here’s what they looked like out of the oven:

20130929-180405.jpgTo turn the roasted peppers into soup I put them in the food processor for a minute to purée it. (I do not own a fancy expensive food processor. The one I own came from Hyvee, from the same aisle I buy Saran Wrap. It cost $12.)

After I puréed it I poured it in a bowl and added two cans of tomato sauce about 4 tablespoons of vegetable stock and some garlic salt, stirred it together and heated it through. Then I poured it in the squash and we ate every bite before it ever had a chance to cool off. This is for sure going to be made again soon, and it was so easy and such a success that I’m already excited to try these components in other dishes. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Chicken Breast and Squash in Butter Sauce

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Full disclosure, this is not health food.

Ok. Maybe it is. After all, it is fresh vegetables and lean protein. But it’s also cooked in a lot of butter. Like, more than a little. A lot. And even if I’m now eating a diet high in fats, and even if I’m losing weight doing so, I just can’t think of a dish with that much butter in it as somehow “good for me.” And maybe that’s just a matter of perception. But it was also maybe one of the best meals I’ve ever made. So take that for what it’s worth.

I started with two boneless skinless chicken breasts, two zucchini, and a yellow squash. I used roll butter and minced garlic, and salt, pepper, cayenne, and cinnamon. That’s right. Cinnamon. #getonmylevel

I started by slicing the squash and zucchini. Think like maybe half dollar thickness, maybe a little thicker. I tossed that in a bowl for a second while I melted two tablespoons of butter in a pot with some minced garlic on medium heat. You want the garlic to sweat and release a lot of flavor, not burn. When that was all melted I tossed in the sliced zucchini and squash with some salt and another tablespoon of butter and threw on a lid.

I pounded the chicken breasts a little with a meat tenderizer just to flatten them out some, then I seasoned them with salt, pepper, cayenne, and cinnamon, and added them to another pan on medium heat. I let that cook for about four minutes, then I flipped it and gave it four more. All the while occasionally stirring the veg and then covering it back up.

After the chicken had done four on each side I flipped it again and started flipping it at one minute intervals. Twice on each side, while stirring the veg, then I plated the veg and the chicken and added one more tablespoon of butter to the pan I cooked the chicken in, stirred it up as it melted, and poured that over the whole dish.

In the end I had an amazing plate of the most delicious sautéed squash and zucchini with two fantastically tender chicken breasts covered in melted butter. It was pretty awesome. And we ate it all.

I don’t think I’m gonna lose any weight eating this meal, but man it tasted good. And seriously, if four tablespoons of butter are the worst thing I eat all week, I think I’ll be ok. And it was just so crazy good. For reals. The flavors were perfect together, I couldn’t get enough of the squash and zucchini, and there were no leftovers for tomorrow.

I don’t put this much butter in every meal. In fact I try to avoid butter, despite it’s possible nutritional value, just because I try to avoid dairy altogether. I would have felt better doing it with olive oil than butter, but man, butter tastes damn good.

And you just can’t argue with that.

Chicken Dijonnaise

Today was a beautiful fall day and it put me in the mood for fall food. Here is what I had on hand.

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2 tablespoons of coconut oil
1 lb of chicken thighs
Broccoli and cauliflower (a couple cups)
2 tsp minced garlic
Juice from one lemon
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup white wine
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

I made Chicken Dijonnaise with broccoli and cauliflower. I cooked the chicken thighs like usual in a bit of coconut oil. 5 min per side then in the oven (350) for another 10 (or more realistic until I’m done cooking everything else)

20130926-201012.jpgOnce I got the chicken in the pan, I started on the Dijonnaise. (Sounds fancy right?) I melted butter into a sauce pan, added the coconut milk, wine, Dijon, a little garlic and let it simmer and thicken.

20130926-201248.jpgAfter the chicken cooked a few minutes on each side I moved it to the oven and added the veg to the same pan. I put a lid on them and let them cook for about 5 minutes. Then I moved the veg to a platter, added the Dijon sauce to the chicken pan to incorporate the last of the drippings . Pull the chicken out of the oven, place on top of the veg, then top with the sauce and enjoy! All in about 30 minutes, perfect week night comfort food.

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Honey Glazed Pan Fried Pork Chops with Sweet Potato Hash

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Tonight I made Pork Chops and Sweet Potatoes.

The prep work was pretty easy. I cubed up two peeled sweet potatoes and a small red onion, and I made a glaze from gluten free soy sauce, a small amount of spiced rum, raw honey, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes.

I started the potatoes first because they’d take longer to cook to where I wanted them. I put some olive oil in a skillet with some minced garlic and let that sweat for a minute. Then I added the potatoes and onion with a little more oil and salt, pepper, and cayenne. I let that cook on medium heat and flipped it every couple of minutes.

While that was cooking I had another pan getting hot on a medium high burner. I sliced the fat off the edges of the chops and threw that in the hot skillet to render down and grease the pan, then I pulled that out and fed it to the dog. Then I put the two chops in the pan for a little over three minutes. Flipped them and gave them three minutes more. At this point the potatoes were pretty much done so I pulled and plated them. Then I turned the heat on the chops down a little to medium, added the glaze to the top of the chops, and flipped them again. I glazed the other side, gave them a minute, and flipped them again. I repeated this until I’d done two minutes glazed on both sides. I pulled them off the pan and let them sit for five minutes on a cutting board before slicing them. I served them on top of the potatoes and spooned out the last of the glaze from the bottom of the pan over the top.

This meal was fantastic. Crazy amounts of flavor. So good. The meat was cooked just a little more than I would have preferred, but it was still great. Next time I’d probably give the chops a little less time before I started glazing them. It made a huge amount of food, which we devoured, and was very very filling. This is also an easy meal to serve family style if you slice the meat like I did. Total cooking time, with prep, was less than forty five minutes. And the list of ingredients was pretty slim. Generally, I try to avoid soy products, but I figured a few tablespoons of gluten free soy sauce every once in a while probably won’t kill me. There are lots of other things you could make a glaze from, that’s just what I happened to have on hand.

Hope you give it a try!

Grilled Chicken Breast with Butter Steamed Vegetables

20130921-183746.jpgI have just really been wanting to eat a lot of fresh garden vegetables lately. In fact, just recently I was at a wedding and they had a veggie tray on the buffet and I actually said, out loud, “Sweet! They have broccoli!”

Who’s that guy?

Anyway, when I was grocery shopping this week I made a list of dishes I wanted to cook and I just really wanted some fresh steamed vegetables, so I decided to have them with some chicken breast.

I wanted to make this on the stovetop, so I started with a large skillet on medium heat and melted about two tablespoons of butter in it with a pinch of minced garlic and some salt and pepper. I put the two chicken breasts in and let them brown lightly for a few minutes, then I flipped them over and let them brown a little on the other side.

At that point I turned the heat down to medium low and added another tablespoon of butter and about a cup and a half each of cauliflower, broccoli, and baby carrots and then put a lid on the pan. I let the chicken slowly cook through for about four minutes, then flipped the breasts one more time and stirred around the veg a little and let it cook through the other side for a few more minutes.

I took the chicken and veg out of the skillet and put it on the plate, then I poured about a quarter cup of sweet red wine in the pan to deglaze the bottom and let it cook down to a syrup to make a sauce which I spooned over the chicken.

And it was amazing. The veg was perfectly cooked, the chicken was juicy and tender, and the sauce was delicious. It all tasted great and we devoured it instantly. There was a lot of butter in this dish, but we used the fresh roll butter we get from our butcher so I didn’t feel too bad about it. I was gonna make this dish with olive oil, but I thought the butter would add a better flavor to the vegetables. Do what you like.

This dish was super easy, only took about twenty minutes from fridge to dinner table, and I was able to make a great, healthy meal to sustain my family and help them thrive. There’s a lot of empowerment in that. In knowing you’re feeding your family good food that makes them strong, and not garbage “food” that’s slowly poisoning them to death. It makes me feel like a good provider.

And that’s just another of the unexpected benefits of Paleo.

Beef and Vegetable Soup

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So we used to make a meal that we called “Olive Garden Soup.” This was a recipe my wife brought to our marriage and it was always one of my favorites. It was basically a couple of cans of minestrone, a couple of cans of beans, a couple of cans of tomatoes, and a pound of seasoned ground beef. Since we started Paleo we haven’t made it because we don’t eat beans and pasta anymore, but I wanted to do something different than the meals we’ve been having lately so I decided to try giving it a Paleo twist.

Remember the soup formula, broth, veg, protein. I started with beef and chicken broth. Then I added my veg.

red onion
green bell pepper
red bell pepper
zucchini
squash
mushrooms
carrots
celery
one can of tomatoes with garlic and onions

Everything gets a rustic chop. Then I browned the beef in a skillet and just before it was done I added salt, pepper, cayenne, oregano, rosemary, basil, and thyme. When that was fully cooked I added it to the pot with the broth and veg.

I let this cook all day in the crockpot and came home to a house full of delicious aromas and a crockpot full of fantastic food. It tasted and smelled exactly like I remembered and I’ve been eating bowl after bowl ever since.

I like playing this game of “how can I make that dish Paleo.” It makes you think creatively and really examine mouth feel and flavor profile and try to come up with exciting new ways to enjoy your old favorites. Sometimes it doesn’t work out. I’m not gonna come up with too many Paleo alternatives to a DQ Reece’s Pieces Blizzard Treat. But sometimes you get to reacquaint yourself with an old standby and have the satisfaction of knowing you’re now eating in a healthy responsible way.

Give this dish a try and tell us what you think!

Lunch

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So my business recently moved to a new location. With this new location came a world of new and wonderful shiny things. But the thing I’ve been most excited about today is that I’m four blocks closer to the Sub-Shop!!! A tiny little restaurant that accepts cash only and is only open for 3 and a half hours a day on weekdays only. Why is it that a scarcity makes things seems to taste so much better? So today for a mere $6.50 I got to eat this salad of the Gods. It’s filled with mushrooms, olives, green peppers, tomato,banana peppers, pickles, carrots, chicken, and cashews, and topped with the dressing they make in house. Now that it’s gone I’m left contemplating how much of my future paychecks will be spent there. (A lot… Like-a-lotta-lot)

Sorry Rob.

Paleo Potluck!

So over the weekend Rob and I hosted a little garden party. Nothing fancy, just a few twinkle lights and a whole lot of food! I’m kicking myself for not taking more pictures of all the amazing goodness that there was to eat. The only picture I have is this quick shot Rob took of one of his dishes 20130917-210532.jpg

(sausage off the grill and onions and peppers) He also made fish and chips, (I’m so lucky to have a fella who likes to cook!) I made some coconut chicken and a fruit salad soaked in a honey rum sauce.

We invited some paleo friends and some not so paleo friends and had an amazing smorgasbord of food.

Our friends brought baked sweet potatoes and quite possibly the best salad I’ve ever eaten, with amazing homemade dressing to boot! There were lettuce wraps that held a mixture of cauliflour and carrots with the most delicious dry rub on them (Rob actually thought there was seasoned meat inside!) and then topped with guacamole! We washed it all down with wine and sparkling water. It was a perfect night with great friends.

Although I don’t have more pictures of the awesomeness we made great memories. There is something really special about sharing a meal with those you love, and Rob and I are blessed to have such wonderful friends.

Also I definitely walked away with tons of culinary inspiration! There is nothing better to get you out of a food rut then to eat with people who cook differently then you. I can’t wait to try all the recipes we tried! It makes me want to host a regular supper club! 😀

Attempted Paleo Potato Pancakes

Attempted Potato Pancakes

Last night we had Shepard’s pie for dinner and we are both working late several nights this week, so I made a giant batch of mashed potatoes.

I do this pretty often if I’m taking the time to make a multistep dish I usually just make a big ole batch. It’s not much more work to make a double batch and it makes for easy dinners later in the week.

This morning I thought it would be fun to make potato pancakes.

Wrong.

I’m not sure why since I’ve never ever ever not ever been successful at making pancakes that I could whip up a potato version.

It wasn’t pretty.
But it was tasty.

Here’s what I did I took about two cups of mashed potatoes and added an egg. 20130910-150135.jpgWhip em together and heat a little oil on the stove at a med high heat. Then plop the taters in.

If you dip the back of your spoon in the hot oil you can press down the potatoes into a pancake shape with out it sticking to them.20130910-150329.jpgAfter they get nice and browned on the edges flip them over.

This is where it all went wrong. I’m a terrible flipper. It all fell apart. 20130910-150504.jpgBut then I had a moment of inspiration brought to me by my former pre-paleo life and steak and shake.

Silver dollar potato pancakes.
So I changed my method and made them smaller. This worked better but not wonderful.

In the end they were not beautiful but they were amazing tastey!!!

*most recipes for potato pancakes include some flour, I think that would have helped but really for the most part I just have no flipping skills. I will let Rob do the flipping next time.

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