Monthly Archives: January 2012

French Onion Soup

We went to a dinner party last night that asks everyone to bring an item to eat. We brought french onion soup for which the base was the stock I made earlier in the week. It came out very tasty. This recipe uses bread and cheese in the classic way, however, you can definitely leave those off if you want to keep it paleo. I’ve made this soup so many times that I don’t use a recipe any more, so below are approximations of how I made it last night.

French Onion Soup

12 onions sliced

1 stick of butter

2 tbsp thyme

2tbsp red pepper (not traditional but I like spice in everything)

1tbsp garlic powder (I can’t believe it but I ran out of fresh garlic!)

fresh black pepper and salt

4 qt of stock

1 loaf of french bread sliced and toasted

1 block of swiss cheese (Gruyere is also a great cheese) grated

Chop all of your onions. You might as well think of something very sad because this many onions will have you crying. I’ve found refrigerating the onions before hand helps with the tears but nothing gets rid of it completely.

Melt your butter in a deep pot. You can of course use olive oil or coconut oil, but butter is amazing and shouldn’t be scorned here.

Add all of your onions, and spices to the melted butter. Cook the onions on medium low heat covered while stirring every few minutes. This process takes a while and shouldn’t be rushed. You want to sweat the onions down for awhile. The onions take on a butter like consistency and taste when you are finished. Of course the stick of butter couldn’t hurt. This will take about an hour. You’ll know they are done when your onions are soft and reduced my more than half and there is liquid in the pot.

This is what they should look like when done. Like delicious butter onions!

Add your beef stock. I just added liquid until it was to the top.

Continue to cook on medium for another 20 minutes.

Pull out the ramekins, place a piece of toast  in the middle. Ladle your soup on top then sprinkle the cheese. Put them in the oven until the cheese is melted. Enjoy! The dinner party was an enormous success! There was so much good food that I wish I could live there!

(last photo was by Lorenzo thanks for taking it for me!)

 

 

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Marrow Bone Stock

While wandering the grocery isles I found some marrow bones. Now the kid in me cringes at all things “weird”. Eating bones and organ meat is “weird” to me. I want to be more open to this but I end up thinking way too much about it and then can’t eat it. This was how I used to be about meat on the bone. Couldn’t/wouldn’t eat it. Now I think bone in meat is much tastier and makes a great stock homemade stock.

I’ve never tried to make a beef stock before from marrow bones. But with the big push I’ve been seeing on paleo sites to eat nose to tail, I figured I’d give it a go. Besides, marrow bones didn’t look all that different than any other bone I’ve eaten off of.

First thing everyone who tries this recipe needs to know it that there is a definite smell to the bones while roasting and simmering. It’s very beefy. Yes, I described a beef product as beefy. The smell is very strong and I almost just gave it all to the dogs because I thought the bones had gone bad. The smell is apparently normal. I found out after a bit of perusing the web. It will lessen over the next two days. Yes, two.

This stock made almost 2 gallons and I will be using it this weekend for some French onion soup. But for now here is the how to.

Roast bones with a little salt and pepper for an hour at 400.

Place bones in a large stock pot and fill with water. Add about 2-3 tbsp of black pepper corns, and 3 bay leaves. Simmer on low for a day. Remove the bay leaves and add celery, carrots, and an onion. No need to chop the celery and carrots but you’ll want to slice the onion in half.

Simmer for another day. After two days of cooking, remove from the heat.

Strain the solids out. Pour into containers. Some people remove the fat others don’t.

I’m a leave the fat in sort of girl. The stock is a rich dark color, it smells   beefy and the vegetables made a great addition. I’ll let you know how it works as a soup this weekend.

 


Snack Nuts

I eat lunch at 10:30 in the morning when at work. It’s one of the perks of being a Pre-K teacher. Because of this I’m usually pretty hungry when I get home. I’ve taken to making some toasted nuts for a snack. Here I used 1.5 cups of cashews, about 2tsp of olive oil and a pinch of salt. I’ve made pecans and almonds the same way but with some garlic powder and cayenne also. It’s a very tasty snack and I split these with T until dinner is ready.

It’s got all the flavor and enough protein and fat to tide me over. These are a lot better for you than nuts you’ll get at the store because you can control the amount of salt and oil added to them. Nuts are also cheaper when bought raw in bulk than when toasted and salted.  I’ve tried a few different combinations with honey to make a sweeter nut but they are always very sticky, tasty, but too sticky for a good snack. I will stick with the savory side of things.

Give it a try for your next snack craving.


Chicken Soup

There is something so satisfying about chicken soup. Warm, hearty, chockfull of vegetables, it just screams comfort and health. For the base of this soup I roasted a chicken on our new rotisserie toaster oven. I stripped the chicken and skin from the bones and simmered the bones in water to create a rich flavorful stock. This step will take your soup from good to amazing.

Stock

Roast one whole chicken until cooked.(I stuffed the skin with salt, pepper, garlic, and onion powder). Remove all the skin and meat from the bird. The skin was perfectly crunchy and delicious so I just ate it. But you can use it in your stock if you aren’t as addicted to crispy skin and I am. Place bones, fat, and skin in a large pot cover with water, I had about I gallon of water. Add 3 bay leaves and a pinch of saffron. Cook covered on low for at least 12 hours. Cool and strain. If you pour it in plastic containers then you can freeze it forever, or use it within 2 weeks in the fridge.

Chicken Soup

~one gallon chicken stock

1 whole chicken cut up and deboned

4 carrots diced

3 stalks of celery diced

2 red bell peppers diced

2 yellow onions diced

3 cloves of garlic minced

1 head of kale torn from stems

1 tbsp kosher of salt

2 tbsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp cumin

¼ tsp saffron

¼ tsp ground thyme (or 1tsp of regular thyme)

½ tsp oregano

3 eggs tempered

Sautee onions and carrots in olive oil on medium high heat for 5 minutes. Add remaining vegetables except kale and sauté for 3 minutes. Add seasoning and chicken. Stir and cook for 3 minutes.

Add stock and turn down heat to low. Cover and cook for 1.5 hours. Add kale. Whip your eggs in a separate bowl and slowly pour hot stock over the eggs while beating them. This is called tempering eggs.

It adds heft to your stock in a totally paleo way! If you just pour the eggs in your soup without tempering you will get scrambled eggs instead. While tasty, this is not something you want in your soup. Cook the soup on low for another half hour and then serve. This makes an enormous batch of soup.

You can freeze a bunch of it or serve it for a dinner party. It’s got enough heat from the red pepper and plenty of hearty goodness from the homemade stock to cure whatever ails you.


Great Tips to Save You Time

I get asked all the time by friends and coworkers “How do you have time for this?” Cooking is not the difficult time consuming task that so many believe it to be. Take a few extra steps and your kitchen life will be that much easier. I love to make huge meals keep half for lunches during the week and freeze the other half. This way down the road I’ll have a meal ready to go with little prep. These are great life savers on busy work days. Buy a ton of produce, wash it, cut it, and store in the fridge until you’re ready to eat. That way a salad is just a few handfuls away from being eaten and an omelet only takes heat. The other thing that seems contrary to time saving but is perfect for a busy family is to learn to love slow cooking. Pot roast is the easiest thing in the world to prepare and so tasty. Toss those prepared veggies in a large pot with a hunk of meat. Cook it low and slow all day while you are at work. Come home to a delicious meal.

I’m working on one such lovely recipe right now for chicken soup; I’ll post the recipe this week. But while you wait, these fine people have some more excellent tips on making your cooking life easier. I hope you read through these experts advice and find your kitchen a little less daunting too.


Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

I love PaleoOMG. She is a foul mouthed gal with great taste in food. T made these recently using her recipe.

They were so good after I ate them all I had to have more. I ate them almost every day for breakfast and a few nights for dinner. I love them with an egg and some spinach like you see here. Seriously you need to go over to her site and try this recipe! I ground up my own sausage for the second batch but if you don’t have a meat grinder store bought is good too.


Sausage, Meatballs, and Red Sauce

I got to visit my grandparents for Christmas this year. My grandma is Italian. Needless to say my pants do not fit now. My grandma makes wonderful Italian food. When we showed up there was a big pot of sausages and meatballs simmering on the stove. They’d been cooking all day. It was so good I think I ate half of it. This is my paleo version of it. This recipe is not quick and requires a lot of hands on time. You could take a short cut and use premade sauce or meatballs, but then you’d be cheating yourself on the taste.

Meatballs

3 lbs of ground beef (2 was 90/10 and 1 was 93/7 if you like more or less fat adjust accordingly)

3 eggs

2 tbsp of fresh Italian seasoning (I found this in a squeeze tube next to the fresh herbs)

2 tbsp garlic powder

1 tbsp onion powder

1 tbsp salt

1tsp black pepper

 

Mix meat and seasonings until combined.

Roll out meatballs. I like a larger meatball so this made 22 for me.

In a large stock pot brown all the meatballs in about 1 tbsp of olive oil. I used 10 store made (gluten free) sausages and cut them in half and browned them too. The meat is just browned not cooked through.

I had to freeze about 6 balls and 5 slices of sausage because they wouldn’t fit!

Place them on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven on warm. I wasn’t trying to cook them just keep them from cooling off.

Red Sauce

3 lbs of fresh tomatoes diced

3 cloves of garlic minced

1 onion minced

½ cup of red wine

2 tbsp of fresh Italian seasoning

1 tsp of garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

2 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 small can of tomato paste

That right there is the beginning of delicious!

In the same pot you browed your meats add about 2 tbsp of olive oil and the onions. Cook on medium high for two minutes. At this point there should be lots of bits stuck to the bottom of your pot. Add the wine in carefully and begin to scrape the bottom of the pot. If you have enamel pots like this one please use a wooden spoon to scrape so you don’t ruin the enamel. Continue to cook until the wine is almost all cooked off.

This will take about 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and cook covered on medium until the tomatoes are cooked down. This takes about an hour.

You’ll know when it is done because it looks like tomato sauce. I removed half of the sauce and blended it smooth. If you prefer a chunkier sauce don’t blend. If you prefer a smoother sauce blend it all. Make sure to remove the center piece in the lid of your blender and cover with a towel. This keeps the sauce from exploding all over the counter. Add the blended sauce in with the unblended sauce, mix in the paste. Add back your meat and any juice that may have cooked out. Cover and cook on low for another two hours.

We ate these just like this. If you like, some spaghetti squash would be good too. Enjoy and feel like you are in your own Italian grandmother’s kitchen.