What I’m eating

I thought for my own sanity, it might help to keep track of what I’m actually putting down my gullet while I’m trying to eat as close to 100% primal as I can.
So breakfast was an over hard egg and two sausages.
I just had a banana.
And I’m trying really hard to not eat the 88% dark chocolate in front of me. I want lunch, it’s only 10:47am, and the chocolate is in front of me on my desk. Maybe I should put it away.

EDIT: The chocolate was put away.
Lunch was salmon salad (think tuna salad, but with salmon). I’m sure the mayo wasn’t primal, but I knew I needed to eat before going grocery shopping. And now I’m snacking on dates and feta. Nommmm.


Sweet Potato Casserole

Anyone whom I’ve ever told about Thanksgiving in my family never quite seems to believe me. Growing up, Thanksgiving was always held at my dad’s aunt’s house (they still do it, but 18 plus hour car ride to get there from WI doesn’t appeal to me at this time of year). We’d usually have in the neighborhood of a 40 pound turkey and a 20 pound ham. Every side dish imaginable. Every flavor of soda. Every snack you could think of. We’d eat for four days straight. On a light year, there would be around 20 or so of us. On a heavy year, close to 40 or 50. All crammed into my aunt’s house. And I can guarantee you they already have *next* years turkey picked out.

While turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes may be the standard dishes, they weren’t my favorite growing up. I found the turkey flavorless, the stuffing unnecessary, and the mashed potatoes lumpy (my mom made smooth mashed potatoes, which I much preferred). So while I’d have a little of those dishes the first day, I mostly gorged on ham, sweet potato casserole and creamed corn for four days.

I’ve been talked out of doing a ham for Thanksgiving the past 4 years, but no one argues with my sweet potato casserole. I’ve never eaten it anywhere else, so to me, the way I make it is just how it’s supposed to be made. Apparently some people do something with marshmallows and sweet potatoes. We’ll be having none of that here.

The first time I made this, I made it exactly as was written, copied from the recipe card at my parent’s house. I got a good chuckle out of how things have changed in cooking (do I need to tell you that the milk you use should be homogenized?). I couldn’t understand what went wrong. What we ate that first year didn’t taste anything like what my aunt made. It was so sickly sweet. Apparently I was supposed to know to cut the amount of sugar in half! Even at 1/2 cup below, I feel it might be almost too much.

And now I present you with one of my favorite holiday foods:

Sweet Potato Casserole
3 c cooked mashed sweet potato – the flavor will be better if you bake them, but the world will still turn if you nuke them instead
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c melted butter
2 eggs, well beaten
1 t vanilla
1/3 c milk
Combine and mix well.
Spoon into a 2 quart casserole (8″ x 8″ is 2 quarts)

1/2 c light brown sugar
1/4 c flour (gluten free in my case)
2.5 t melted butter
1/2 c chopped pecans
Sprinkle the nut mix over the sweet potato mix.

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

If you need nut free, you can use *not* fine ground cornmeal in place of the nuts. It changes the taste a bit, but the texture is still good. We do this for my mom since she can’t eat nuts.

When doing this for a large group, I usually double the recipe. I don’t have a four quart casserole, so I usually just buy a large aluminum pan and do it in that. Makes clean up easier too :)

Green devils

I’m going to guess these were at least passable, if not good, as I bought a dish of them to a gathering tonight and came home with an empty dish. Plus I got a few ‘wow, these are good!’ comments. I got the idea from Marks Daily Apple and made modifications based on a comment on that post. I decided to keep them vegetarian so that my vegetarian friends could indulge too. I know dietary choices can be dicey in group settings, and if leaving out one simple nonessential ingredient lets one (or a few) more person/people eat my dish, then I’m all for it. Even if it means leaving out bacon.

Green Devils

Hard boil 1 dozen eggs.
I prefer the cold start method from Joy of Cooking: Put all dozen eggs in the bottom of a large pan. Fill with water with plenty to cover. Cover and put on high heat until the water boils. Once the water boils, turn the heat off, keep the cover in place, and let stand 15 minutes (for large eggs). You now have hard boiled eggs.
Cool by running under cold water and peel.

Other ingredients:
3 small avocados (I would imagine 2 large ones would work fine)
1 large clove of garlic
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp prepared mustard
1 tbsp olive oil

Cut the eggs in half and scoop the yolks into a food processor bowl. Combine the yolks with the rest of the ingredients (leaving the egg whites aside of course) in the food processor.
Process the yolk/avocado mixture until it is smooth and well mixed.
Scoop the yolk/avocado mixture into a plastic zip top bag, preferably getting as much into one corner as possible.
Put the hard boiled egg whites into your container of choice.
Cut a small notch in the corner of the plastic bag where the mixture exists. You want the hole to be small, but not too small. Big enough for you to pipe the mixture out, but not so big the mixture just blobs out. I’d suggest cutting out a smaller hole than you think you need and cutting to larger if need be.
Pipe the mixture into the hard boiled egg whites. I’d suggest filling each one with a bit of mixture and then going back and topping off, as you’ll likely have PLENTY of extra yolk mixture.

Sprinkle with cayenne or paprika. Depends on what you have and what flavor you are going for. I honestly never notice the flavor of either, but still do it for some reason.

Dinner, now with pictures!

This time, I actually remembered to try to take pictures both before AND after cooking my dinner!
I was on my own for dinner tonight, so I decided to embellish a little bit and make myself something nice.

Here’s what I started with (ok, well, most of the ingredients):

I picked up a 0.8 lb top sirloin at the Coop after I picked up my last CSA of the season.
The CSA box had the sweet potatoes I used.
The beets were from a CSA box a month ago.
The tomato I grew myself.
The back left lettuce mix is also from today’s CSA box.
The back right lettuce is generic Dole green leaf lettuce from Woodmans.
I also had a pomegranate (very not local!) and feta.
And a topped off bottle of homemade dressing.
Other not pictured ingredients included Kosher salt, pepper, garlic powder, rosemary, butter, and bacon fat.

Here’s what I ended up with:

In order, to get this to be all ready at about the same time:
Assuming your beets are huge like mine, start a large pot of water boiling. You need enough water in the pot to cover the beets when you add them.
Finish cleaning the kitchen up so you’ll have ample clean counter space.
Once the water is boiling, put the beets in, keep the heat on medium-ish and cover the pot.
Preheat your oven to 500.
Slice the tomato and put it into a salad/large bowl.
Rinse and slice the sweet potatoes so that each wedge is about a half inch or so thick. Coat lightly with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and rosemary.
Put the lettuce in a colander and rinse it, setting it aside to let it drain and dry a bit.
If your oven is preheated, slide the potatoes in and roast for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, put your meat on a plate and season both sides with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
Melt some bacon fat in a skillet, I prefer to use my cast iron.
Put the meat in with the heat on medium high.
Continue working on the salad by cutting up the feta.
Seed your pomegranate.
If your meat has been in the skillet for about 4 minutes, turn it over.
Finish seeding the pomegranate and add it and the greens to the salad bowl. Mix everything about.
Check the beets for doneness (this was about a half hour for mine, and they weren’t done).
Pull the potatoes out of the oven and set aside (make sure they are soft when stabbed with a fork).
Check the meat. Is it done to your liking? I like mine medium rare, so I pulled it off the stove and set it aside on a plate to rest. Otherwise you might want to keep cooking yours.
At this point my beets were done enough. Put them in a colander and rinse liberally with cold water. When they are cool-ish enough to handle, peel off the skins. If they are indeed done, the skins should slip right off under running water, though they might need a little help.
Slice the beets to the thickness of your liking, topping with butter and salt to taste.
Plate everything and enjoy!

The only changes I would make would be to spice my meat a bit more and add more salt to the beets. By the time I was eating I was too lazy to get back up and get salt.

High Temperature Eye of Round Roast

If you read the pumpkin brownie recipe yesterday, and you cared at all about the nutritional information, you should go back and see the correction. When I put the original into DailyBurn it was as 1/8th the recipe as a serving size. If you cut like me. You cut the dish in quarters one way, and then quarters the other way. This means there are 16 pieces, not 8. Oops. Either way, you can mod it to how you cut it.

Tonights meat course was High Temperature Eye of Round Roast. After a super full of fail roast a few months ago, I wasn’t holding my breath on this one. But as I just finished dinner, I can say it was quite good and will likely be how I make roast again if/when I find awesome ones on sale (as I did this weekend at Whole Foods). As I understand it, Eye of Round roasts are usually a cheaper cut of meat that if not treated correctly, can turn into shoe leather upon cooking (this is how my last roast turned out). This recipe? Divine! While I will agree with some commenters on the original recipe that the meat is NOT hot when you take it out, it is however cooked and tasty. I like my beef on the rare side of medium, so I made some modifications, also taking into account our gas stove.

Here’s how mine came out and below is how I did it.

High Temperature Eye of Round Roast
*This includes modifications for having a gas oven. You should read the original if you have an electric, or some other modification to your oven.
**My oven runs somewhere around 50 degrees hot. When I first checked the preheat, it was at 500. When I finally went to put the meat in, it was already up around 550. So my meat likely didn’t cook exactly according to plan. It still turned out fine.

1. Take your meat out of the fridge and unwrap it. You can just let it sit on the counter this way.
2. Preheat the oven to 500F. I suggest walking away for a bit to let the roast come up to close to room temperature and to let your oven preheat.
3. Place the roast in an appropriate sized oven vessel. Slather with olive oil. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
4. Place the roast in the oven and turn the heat down to 475F.
5. Roast for 7 minutes per pound (so my 1.4 lb roast went in for a bit less than 10 min).
6. Turn the oven to 200F for 50 min. DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR!! Resist the urge to check. All it will do is prematurely lower the temperature of your oven and for this technique, that is bad.
7. Turn the oven off for 40 min. DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR!!
8. Remove. I just cut into mine and it looked fine. Slice and serve as desired.

Brussel sprouts, the good way

I hear rumors that many people don’t like brussel sprouts. I’m not sure why, as to me, they are quite tasty.

Here’s how I did them last night to go with some bland and disappointing Porkchops with Mushroom Bourbon Cream Sauce (granted, I did forget to add the basil at the end). According to the Joy of Cooking, this recipe is THE way to get people to like brussel sprouts. I’m not too sure on that, as they definitely taste like brussel sprouts when they are done. But if you already like them, or are willing to give it a try, I think this is my new fall back for making brussel sprouts. I of course modified the recipe a bit from how it’s written in the Joy of Cooking.

I did this in my cast iron skillet which is honestly one of the best things I’ve ever bought with tax return money. I use mine almost every day (yay bacon and eggs for breakfast!). In fact, when I put the “lid” on (which is actually what I normally use to cook said bacon and eggs) it was covered in bacon grease, nom!

Yummy brussel sprouts
1. Chop up 2-3 cloves of garlic.
2. Heat a few tablespoons of bacon fat in the skillet over medium heat.
3. Add the garlic and let it brown, stirring every once in a while.
4. Rinse and cut your brussel sprouts in half. I had probably 3 dozen or so of them.
5. Add the brussel sprouts to the skillet, give them a good stir, cover the whole shebang, and turn the heat to low.
6. Cook 10-20 min, depending on your needs and how you like things cooked. Ours were probably closer to 25 min and had a nice light caramelization on them.

Unfortunately, this is all thats left :(

GF grainless chocolate chip pumpkin brownies

That title is way too long. I think these should be renamed light and fluffy awesome bars.

This Primal Life provided the base recipe. I took some of the comments, combined them, and made the recipe my own. This recipe comes out shockingly light and fluffy. It’s definitely going in the make again pile. The only change will be to up the spice mixture to likely 2 tsp total.

0. Preheat oven to 350. If you don’t have an oven thermometer, you should get one. Our oven is at least 50 degrees off, but not consistently across the temperature range.
1. Mix well in a medium bowl
1 c almond butter (I used MaraNatha no stir chunky)
3/4 c canned pumpkin
1 egg
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp baking soda
1.5 oz Baker’s semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 oz Baker’s unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2. Pour into a greased 8 x 8 in pan.
3. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until a knife/toothpick inserted comes out clean. (Mine took 35 min)
Serves 8 16.

According to DailyBurn, the nutrition breakdown is (corrected 9/27/10 for cutting into 16 pieces as I did for mine):
148 calories
10.5 g fat
15 mg cholesterol
45 mg sodium
12 g carbohydrate
4 g protein
If you’d like to know more, please feel free to ask. It’s saved on DailyBurn as GF grainfree pumpkin brownies.