Monday, December 26, 2011

Update on the Homemade Angry Birds game

The Angry Birds game I made for the kids for Christmas was a big hit! We've built towers and walls to hide our piggies in, and the kids created their own version of the the slingshot to shoot the birds. Very fun game!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Paleo/Primal Christmas Morning Cinnamon "Rolls"

For breakfast on Christmas morning Hubby makes his traditional cinnamon rolls. They are so good, but I'm sure the level of sweetness will just be too much for me this year and I may not feel great after eating all of that wheat-based pastry. So while he was  making his recipe for him and the kids, I made a version of a cinnamon "roll" muffin that will be perfect for me and anyone else who wants to share with me. Not that it needs it, but I made a coconut cream frosting to go on top as well. I think they turned out very cinnamon-y and will be a good substitute for the traditional Christmas morning Cinnamon Roll. Give them a try and see what you think.

Christmas Morning Cinnamon "Rolls" with Maple Coconut Frosting
1/2 C coconut flour
1 C almond meal
1/2 t salt
1 t baking soda
3 T cinnamon (yes, that's Tablespoons!)
3/4 C Pumpkin puree or Apple sauce  (I used pumpkin this time)
3/4 C Maple Syrup
4 Eggs
1/2 C coconut oil - melted
1 T vanilla

14 oz can coconut milk
2 T maple syrup

Bring all ingredients to room temperature! Preheat oven to 350F. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl and all wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Then mix wet with dry. Fill lined muffin tins with batter and bake for about 20 minutes or until muffins are firm on top.

For frosting, beat coconut cream from a can of coconut milk and maple syrup until it thickens a bit. Spoon frosting over cooled "rolls".

Paleo/Primal Squash Soup

My veggie box this week came with a butternut squash and a recipe for butternut squash soup. That sounded pretty good; so I decided to give it a try with a few changes to make it Paleo/Primal. I also had some mini pumpkins that had been sitting around as decorations since Thanksgiving and some rutabaga I'd cubed and frozen during the summer. I decided to throw all of that in to bulk up the soup a bit. The result was really good! I can see this being a great starter for a nice dinner or dinner all by itself!

Paleo/Primal Squash Soup
1 butternut squash (or other squash of choice)
1 smallish pumpkin or several mini pumpkins  (or other squash of choice)
2-3 C peeled and cubed rutabaga
4 C chicken stock
1 large onion chopped
2 T butter or coconut oil
1/2 t Thyme
1/2 t chili powder
1 t turmeric
1/2 t garlic powder
2 t salt or to taste
black pepper to taste
14 oz can coconut milk

Cut pumpkin and squash in half and remove seeds and strings with a spoon. Place cut side down on cookie sheet and roast at 350F for about 30 minutes or until knife easily pierces the skin. Remove all flesh from skin with a spoon and set aside.

In a dutch oven brown onion in butter or oil until tender. Add cubed rutabaga, spices and chicken stock. Cover and cook for about 30 minutes or until rutabaga is tender. Add pumpkin and squash flesh to dutch oven, add coconut milk as well. With a stick blender (immersion blender) blend soup until it is smooth. (Alternatively, you can put small batches of the soup into a blender to puree, but be sure to hold the top on as hot soup will push the lid off and make a big mess of your kitchen.). Add black pepper to taste and garnish. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Collard Greens with Bacon

Greens taste good! Bacon tastes good! Put them together and you get something exceptional. You can use any type of greens in this recipe like chard, kale, or mustard, but I had some Collard greens in my veggie box this week that looked really nice. The mixture of the salty bacon with the greens that crave the salt is a perfect combination. With only 2 ingredients, this dish is an example of how sometimes the simplest recipes are the best.

Collard Greens with Bacon
About 1/2 lb of bacon cut into 1 inch square pieces
1 large bunch of greens (collard, chard, kale, mustard)

In a cast iron skillet cook bacon until crisp then drain on a paper towel. Pour about 2/3 of the bacon grease from the skillet (save for another day). Remove any hard stems from greens then cut into 2 inch pieces. Put the greens into the skillet with remaining hot bacon grease. Toss to coat with grease then cover and cook on medium heat for about 2-3 minutes or until greens are wilted. Mix crumbled bacon in with the greens and serve warm.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Almond Butter Cups Candy

Repost of an entry I wrote on Northwest Cavegirls

In a past life (before Paleo) I loved Peanut butter cups. Every Halloween I’d dig through the kids trick-or-treat bag looking for them. But now I can’t eat them. They’re just too sweet for me. So I thought I’d try to make a Paleo version that wasn’t so sweet but still had that familiar yummy taste I’ve always loved. I shared these with some friends last night and they were a big hit. I hope you enjoy them, too!

Almond Butter Cups Candy
About 1/2 C dark chocolate (you can use chips, or break up some dark chocolate bars. I used TJ's)
about 1/4 C Almond butter (I used Costco Almond Butter)
Candy mold for peanut butter cups (or you can use a mini muffin tin with liners)

Melt chocolate in microwave in 30 second intervals stirring after each 30 seconds. When chocolate is melted, pour or use a spoon to scoop a small amount into the bottom of each cup mold. Tap the mold to settle the chocolate. Using another spoon, drop a small scoop of almond butter on top of each chocolate base. Then fill the cups the rest of the way up with another scoop of chocolate on top of the almond butter. Place filled molds in freezer or fridge until they are hard. Pop almond butter cups out of mold and enjoy!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Paleo/Primal Christmas Recipes

I've been looking back over some of my older Paleo/Primal recipes lately in an attempt to quickly populate the recipe section of a new blog I'm doing with some friends called Northwest Cavegirls. Since Christmas is quickly approaching I thought I'd compile some of my Winter/Christmas recipes into one post. I'm also including a link to a fabulous christmas pudding recipe created by my friend Kate. Merry Christmas and happy, healthy, holiday eating!

Paleo/Primal Apple Crumble
1 1/2 C almond flour
3 tsp cinnamon divided
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 C coconut oil
2 Tbs maple syrup or honey
3 tsp vanilla extract
3 apples, peeled, cored then chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 C unsweetened apple sauce

1. In one bowl combine flour, nutmeg, salt and 1 tsp of cinnamon. In another bowl combine oil, syrup and vanilla. You may need to warm the coconut oil until it’s a liquid.
2. Stir wet ingredients into dry to make the topping.
3. Place apples in a 1-2 qt glass dish then sprinkle them with remaining cinnamon. Pour apple sauce on top of apples.
4. Crumble topping over apples.
5. Cover and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes. When filling is bubbling up around crisp, remove cover and bake for another 5-8 minutes until crisp is golden.

Paleo/Primal Sage Stuffing (Dressing)

1 large onion
4 ribs celery
1 T coconut oil
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper

3 1/2 C Almond Meal
2 t salt
1 t baking soda
2 t dried sage
1 t marjoram
1 C chicken broth
6 eggs

Chop onions and celery. In a skillet, melt coconut oil then sweat onions and celery until they are very tender. Mix in 1/2 t salt and 1/2 t pepper to veggies. Set aside to cool.
Preheat oven to 350F In a large mixing bowl, mix Almond Meal, salt, soda, sage, and marjoram. Mix in broth and eggs. When cooked veggie mixture is cool, add to Almond Meal mixture. Spoon batter into lined muffin tins and bake for about 25 minutes for large muffins and 15 minutes for mini muffins. This recipe made 18 full size muffins and 6 mini. you could also put this into a regular 9x13 pan and bake for about 30+ minutes testing often for doneness.

6 eggs
2 Cans coconut milk
1/3 C honey
1 T vanilla
1 teaspoon nutmeg, ground
1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
Into a saucepan, pour the coconut milk and honey. Heat on medium while stirring continuously, BUT DO NOT BOIL. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and vanilla with an electric mixer until they become very frothy. When the milk mixture is heated, pour it one ladle at a time very slowly into the beaten egg mixture while continuing to mix with electric mixer. When all milk is incorporated, Stir in cinnamon and nutmeg. (add more of these spices to your taste.) If you prefer thick as opposed to frothy, you can return this to the stove, stirring constantly until it thickens to your desired consistency.
At this point you can drink it as is with an extra sprinkle of cinnamon and/or nutmeg on top or you can add rum, whisky or the alcohol of your choice if desired.
Serves: 6.

2 C whole cranberries
1 1/2 C red wine
1 C honey
1/3 C crystalized ginger
1 T orange zest (fresh or dried)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp mace
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat then simmer until contents have reduced to about 2 1/2 C and have become thicker, darker and most of the cranberries are no longer whole(this could take 30 minutes or more). Cover and refrigerate before serving. Will last up to a week in the refrigerator.

1/3 C Coconut oil
1/3 C Butter or Palm Shortening
1/2 C Honey
4 Eggs
1 T vanilla
1 C+ coconut flour

Mix all wet ingredients with electric mixer. Slowly add in the coconut flour until you form a soft dough. I found this dough to be very wet and had to add in more coconut flour as I rolled and cut the cookies. Flour a Silpat or parchment paper then turn out dough onto it and roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick with more coconut flour on the rolling pin. Cut out cookies close together on the paper and remove the bits of dough in between leaving the cut outs on the paper. You can then move the parchment directly to a cookie sheet without having to lift the cut out cookies from it. Bake for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees until cookies are beginning to turn golden.

HO Ho HO ~ Paleo Christmas Puddings! on December 11, 2011


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Paleo/Primal Spaghetti Bolognese

Spaghetti is one of those comfort food dishes that almost everyone loves. The al dente noodles covered with rich flavorful meat sauce is something that just makes you feel warm from the inside out. Once deciding to eat Paleo/Primal, I gave up grain-filled pasta and needed a healthy substitute to fill that void. As the name would suggest, spaghetti squash has turned out to be our favorite noodle-like substitute. Although it takes a little more time to cook, the spaghetti squash is very easy to prepare. I top the al dente squash noodles with my regular beef bolognese. It's a family favorite and will most likely remain a dinnertime staple around here.

Spaghetti Squash Bolognese
1 Spaghetti Squash

Cut squash in half, remove seeds from the inside with a spoon then place cut side down on a baking sheet. Bake at 350F for about 35 minutes or until a knife easily pierces the skin. Let squash cool then with a fork scrape out the "noodles" from the inside of the squash. Discard skin when all of the flesh has been removed.

Beef Bolognese
1 T butter or bacon grease
1 large onion
1 lb grass fed ground beef
2 C pasta sauce of your choice (I use Trader Joe's or Classico because they have no sugar added. But you could always make your own. )
salt and pepper to taste

Brown onions in butter or bacon grease. Remove onion mixture then brown meat in the pan. Return Onion mixture to meat then add all other ingredients. Simmer over medium heat until everything is bubbly. Serve alone or over spaghetti squash noodles.

Paleo/Primal Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Today The Boy requested Lemon Poppyseed muffins. I took that as a challenge. Could I make a Paleo Lemon Poppyseed muffin? And would it pass The Boy's taste test? Just to add a bit of interest to the game I asked if he wanted to help me make them. Usually if he watches me make them he doesn't want anything to do with them after they come out of the oven. I guess when he knows what "strange" ingredients went into the batter he's not interested anymore. But this time, he helped make them, watched them bake, and ate them when they came out of the oven. That's a big win for Mom!

Paleo/Primal Lemon Poppyseed Muffins
4 eggs
3/4 C unsweetened applesauce
1 t vanilla
3/4 C lemon juice
1/4 C coconut oil - melted
1/4 C honey
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1 T lemon zest
1/2 C coconut flour
1/2 T poppy seeds (optional, we didn't use them)

Preheat oven to 350F and let your lemon juice, apple sauce and eggs come to room temperature.

In a large bowl whisk all liquid ingredients together. In a seperate bowl mix all dry ingredients. Mix dry ingredients into the wet and stir until smooth. Let batter sit for about 10 minutes to let the flour soak up the liquid. 

Fill lined muffin tins about 2/3 full with batter. Bake for about 30 minutes or until muffins are firm on top when you press on them. Let cool completely before eating.

Makes about 12 large muffins.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Braised Beef and Sweet Potatoes with Chive Butter

Last night I made one of my usual concoctions, just winging it hoping everything tasted pretty good. Well, I hit a homerun with this meal (if I do say so myself)! I had some stew meat thawed in the fridge and still had a few veggies left from my weekly delivery. So here's what I did! (note that we ate it all before I could get any pictures, so the picture here is of a cow on the ranch where I get my grass-fed beef. This one's a milk cow, not a eatin' cow, but it may have known the one that contributed to the tasty meal tonight...who knows!)

I'll be posting this over at a new Paleo blog I'm doing with friends called Northwest Cavegirls as well. Go check it out!

Braised Beef (Paleo, Primal, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)
1 lb grass-fed stew meat (chunks)
1 T coconut oil
2 T beef rub (see recipe below)
2+ C chicken broth

Beef Rub
3 t salt
1 t paprika
1 t garlic powder
1 t chili powder
1 t onion powder
1 t black pepper

Heat oil in a skillet until melted. Sprinkle Beef Rub over the raw meat and rub it in! Sear stew meat on all sides in the oil over medium heat. Cover browned meat with chicken broth, cover and simmer on low for 2-3 hours. Serve warm covered in it's own juice!

Sweet Potatoes with Chive Butter (Primal, Gluten-Free)
2 medium sized organic red sweet potatoes (often called yams in the store)
1 stick of butter
1/3 C fresh chives

Wash sweet potatoes and place on a microwave safe plate or bowl. Microwave on high for about 5 minutes. If you can stick a knife into them easily they are cooked!

In a small bowl, melt butter in microwave. Takes about 1 minute. Chop chives then mix them into the melted butter.

To serve, cut sweet potatoes into chunks and spoon chive butter over the top. Eat the skin as well!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Make Your Own Plush Angry Birds Game

Shhh! Don't tell my kids, but I made them a real-life Angry Birds Game for Christmas. Both of the kids like to play the electronic game, as do I. So I thought I would try to make a real-life game where we could throw bean-bag style birds at little stuffed piggies hiding under our building block towers. How fun would that be?!? 

I searched the Internet for ideas, but ended up just printing out some pictures of the little guys in the game on my computer and went from there. 

Buy all the relevant colors of 8x10 sheet felt from a craft store along with some felt glue. You can cut out small pieces like the eyes and mouth line or you can draw them on with a fabric marker. I opted for the marker because it was much easier.

Cut out the facial features from the paper print-outs and cut around them onto the felt.

Take the felt body color of the creature you are creating and sew a circle, triangle or oval leaving an opening to turn the body inside out and stuff.

Turn inside out to hide seams then glue facial features onto body. Let dry appropriate amount of time according to glue bottle. You can sew these features on, but that was too much work for me! I used pins to hold the bottom white pieces that curved around the bird until they dried.

Stuff bodies with appropriate material. For the birds, I used mostly bean bag pellets. Real beans would work here as well. I wanted to give them some heft so they would knock over the towers we build. The large bomb birds were stuffed with half pillow stuffing and half pellets because I didn't want them to be so heavy they would break something important like a window. :) The pigs were stuffed entirely with pillow stuffing.

By hand, sew up the opening on the body then sew on any embellishments like ears for the pigs, hair tufts for the birds or the fuse on the bomb bird. 

Build some towers or forts for your pigs to hide in, and launch your birds! I did think about getting a sling shot for launching, but I thought that would be a bit too dangerous for the rest of my household belongings.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Book Review: Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal

We should all know where our food comes from and how it was handled before we brought it home. If you don't raise your own meat and grow your own vegetables and fruits, someone else was responsible for the production of that food. Don't you want to know if they sprayed something on it or injected something into it? Although there are several government agencies mixed into the regulation of food production and processing, do you really trust them to have your best interests at heart or are they working for someone else?

In his book Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal, Salatin tells story after story of how the government agencies have put in place regulations that make it all but impossible for a small farmer or rancher to survive in the agriculture business. Salatin claims that even if the small farmer's product and operation is healthier for the consumer, cleaner and better for environment than the big guy, they can't sell their product at all if they don't meet the criteria written for a multi-million dollar operation (like having a dedicated bathroom for the inspector). Never mind that the multi-million dollar USDA inspected slaughter houses and packing plants are where virtually all of the cases of e.coli and salmonella originate.

Joel Salatin and his family have been in the middle of the food business for generations. His family owns and operates Polyface Farms in Virginia, which provides "clean" food to his community. He calls himself a grass farmer, and if you've seen him slaughtering chickens in the documentary Food Inc. or read about him in the Omnivore's Dilemma you understand what he means by that. He believes that by being a good steward of the grass pastures growing on his farm he can turn the solar energy soaked up by his grass into food energy produced by his livestock. Rather than bringing massive amounts of animal feed, antibiotics or petroleum onto his farm (in the form of fertilizer, pesticides and tractor fuel) he uses the output of his animals and a bit of human power to turn his pastures into lush salad bars to feed his livestock. He doesn't work his land, the animals do. He doesn't medicate his animals to keep them healthy; they are healthy because they eat good food and are treated well. So the end product that he sells to his customers tastes better and is better for them that what they could buy in the supermarket.

Salatin is a master story-teller! His writing style draws you in and makes you feel like you're sitting on his couch in his living room talking away the afternoon. But his indignation at the hoops he's had to jump through over the years just to provide clean food to his family and neighbors is very apparent. Reading his books makes the reader want to lobby for a change in the regulations and most definitely a change to the very way our food is grown and processed. It makes the reader want to opt-out of the government regulated system all together and buy local from neighborhood farmers, gardeners and ranchers or to grow our own food. According to Salatin, either of those last two options is vastly preferable for a healthy food economy, healthy body and a healthy environment.

I enjoyed this book immensely and also enjoyed Salatin's other book The Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer. Salatin's books are very enjoyable reads, but they definitely make you want to do something about the food system or opt-out of it. I suppose in my own kitchen, I've done a combination of both. During the summer I grow my own vegetables, but during the winter I subscribe to a local organic produce delivery service. For meat, we purchase grass-fed beef in bulk from a local rancher and occasionally slaughter our own backyard chickens. Our hens provide us with eggs mostly year round, and I buy milk without antibiotics and hormones. You do the best you can with the knowledge you have, or in the words of Maya Angelou "When you know better, you do better."

Have you watched the documentary Food Inc.? How about King Corn? Have you read the Omnivore's Dilemma? If you haven't, you really should stop in to your local library and put them on reserve or fire up NetFlix and watch the documentaries. Whether you believe our food system is as it should be or not, it's always good to learn more about the currently accepted model and decide for yourself what you want to put on your family's dinner plates and in their bodies.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Paleo/Primal Eggnog

'Tis the season for rich warming drinks like hot apple cider, peppermint hot chocolate and Eggnog! Although I love the ones I get from Starbucks, I really have no idea what they put in them, except a boat load of sugar. So I thought I'd give this one a shot and see if I could concoct a Paleo eggnog. The kids enjoyed the froth on the top and concluded that it made great Santa mustaches!

Paleo/Primal Eggnog
6 eggs
2 Cans coconut milk
1/3 C honey
1 T vanilla
1 teaspoon nutmeg, ground
1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground

Into a saucepan, pour the coconut milk and honey.  Heat on medium while stirring continuously, BUT DO NOT BOIL. 

In a large bowl, beat the eggs and vanilla with an electric mixer until they become very frothy. When the milk mixture is heated, pour it one ladle at a time very slowly into the beaten egg mixture while continuing to mix with electric mixer. When all milk is incorporated, Stir in cinnamon and nutmeg. (add more of these spices to your taste.) If you prefer thick as opposed to frothy, you can return this to the stove, stirring constantly until it thickens to your desired consistency.

At this point you can drink it as is with an extra sprinkle of cinnamon and/or nutmeg on top or you can add rum, whisky or the alcohol of your choice if desired.

Serves: 6.


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