spectacular cranberries

my favorite, and my dad’s favorite, cranberries over plain yogurt and bananas

my dad made cranberries for thanks giving this year, and boy, were they something special. i don’t normally think  that cranberries are something to brag about, just a repeat condiment at the holiday table. i can’t believe i doubted my dad in this manner! i couldn’t stop pawing at these little jewels. i took home a half-gallon or so, and it took all of 3 days for me to polish them off. i had eaten them every single day until the jar was sadly empty. they are warmly spiced with freshly ground cloves and cinnamon, and sweetened with honey. there is some surprise flavor combination lurking in there, but i just can’t put my finger on it. i just know it draws me in to more. they are pleasantly tart, but sweet enough to eat as a light dessert. i have been enjoying them on chicken, in salads, on sandwiches with gluten-free bread, stirred into plain yogurt, and eaten straight out of the jar.

cranberries over pork tenderloin salad

do yourself a favor and make these cranberries for your holiday dinners, or even just to have sitting around to use up throughout the week. they are a healthy way to feel like you are indulging, and a welcome leftover to have in the house afterward!

this is a really big recipe, so if you are not making these for a party, i recommend cutting the recipe in half, or making the large batch and keeping a reserve in the freezer.

note, too, that juniper just LOVED these cranberries. i don’t let her eat sugar, but this was special. plus, it was brown sugar, so it has some antioxidants in it!

in my dad’s own words, here is the magic recipe!

large recipe:
3- 12 oz. bags of cranberries
3- 8 oz. cups of orange juice (any kind)
1- 8 oz. cup of packed unrefined brown sugar
1- tbsp. ground cloves
1- tbsp. ground cinnamon
Add cranberries and orange juice together and bring to a simmer.
Add remaining ingredients.
Simmer and stir occasionally until berries have all popped open.
Cool in refrigerator overnight or longer.  
Will keep in refrigerator 3 weeks.

*personal favorite: serve on top of whole-bean vanilla ice cream!
**other personal favorite: serve with yogurt!

my dad has always been a great cook. he can find a few random things lying around and turn it into a treat.

i learned to make frozen grapes from dad.

i learned to make rhubarb crumble from dad.

i learned how you can grill anything. ANYTHING.

i learned that, “hey, no time to bake the french fries? BROIL them!” actually works in a pinch.

i learned how amazing peanut butter and honey are when swirled around on a warm piece of toast.

i learned what a joy a cup of hot coffee, tanned with a splash of cream, can really be on a sunday morning, spread out with the news paper.

so the message is, people, listen to your dad. he’s got all kinds of tricks up his sleeve.

MOJO

this recipe goes out to my good buddy, whom we had over last night for cuban pork and plantain. he loved the meal, but i think it was the dipping sauce, MOJO, that really stood out to him! i promised i would post the recipe asap, so here it is, scott!

this tart, spicy sauce will knock the socks off of your next batch of plantains. i also think it would be amazing poured over a hamburger or baked potato. it would also make the PERFECT dressing for any steak or fine cut of grilled, smoky meat.

it is one of the best things to come out of cuba, so add it to your “awesome sauce’em” list, and pull it out for guests, or even just sunday night spice-ups. i’m having it to dress my salad for lunch this afternoon!

you can add as much or as little spice as you’d like here, but a lot is the way to go!!

this recipe makes about 8 servings for dipping, or enough to marinate a giant pork butt if you choose to use it as a marinade.

MOJO

1/3 cup olive oil

6 cloves garlic, minced finely

2/3 cup sour orange juice, if you can’t locate this juice in your store, equal parts OJ:fresh squeezed lime juice.

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp pepper flakes

1/4 tsp salt

1/3 cup chopped cilantro, to serve

method: get oil warm/hot over medium heat. do not let it roll!

add garlic and let it cook for 20 seconds before stirring the juice in, along with the spices. do not let garlic brown, you only need to cook it briefly or it will turn bitter.

cook for 5 minutes or so, allowing it roll gently & keeping it stirred well. taste and add more juice or spices as you see fit.

chill.

stir cilantro into cooled MOJO and serve cold.

seriously, people. this stuff is CRAZY good!

Whole 30, day 20

it was a starchy day. whatever, it’s fruit season. that’s my story and i’m sticking with it.

peaches are ridiculous right now.

seriously.

go get a peach.

i guess i’m 2/3 finished with my challenge! i’m doing just ok. i’ve been struggling with fruit. i’m fine if i don’t eat it, but if i allow myself just one piece, i’m a goner. i just can’t quit. i guess that’s how sugar works! i had a fruit binge today. i’m over it.

breakfast: 2 eggs, 3 strips of bacon, a tiny tapioca flatbread. coconut cream in coffee.

lunch: leftover chicken from a sesame stir-fry, raw baby carrots.

snack: watermelon, raw kale chips.

dinner: pork butt, crispy sweet potato fries (OMG YUM).

dessert: 2 peaches. sweet, juicy, slightly soft peaches with just the right amount of fuzz on the outside. they are homegrown. i have no regrets.

results: it was a tasty day, and a successful day, but i do feel a little bloated. sugar just isn’t good for me. i know that. i’m working on it.

let’s talk about these sweet potato fries, though.

i mean, can you tell me that crispy sweet potato fries don’t sound amazing? yes, i batter them in a little tapioca. they are crisp, they crunch, they are just… a dream… the tapioca flour called for in this recipe, since it is just a batter, a minimal amount is actually consumed. i know. -the starch content from the tapioca. let this fall under the “just this one time” category. listen. i know this probably fell under the “SWPO” category, but it happened, it’s over, and i have to live with my decision.

worth it.

this recipe serves 2.

crispy sweet potato fries

1 big sweet potato

1/2 cup of tapioca flour for coating

1/2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp salt

few tbsp olive oil

method: peel your tater. cut it into fry shapes and soak in cold water for 30 minutes or up to a day.

meantime, preheat your oven to 425.

combine the dry ingredients in a large baggie. a few at a time, place your drained potatoes in the bag. shake it up.

shake off the excess batter.

coat each fry in olive oil, and place onto a cookie sheet. do not allow fries to touch.

bake for 15 minutes. after 15 minutes, remove from oven, and drain onto a paper towel. while they are draining, wipe down the cookie sheet. place fries back onto sheet and bake for 10 more minutes.

Whole 30, day 8

this program is starting to slip easily into my routine. i can now tell when i’m getting too many carbs very easily. i’ve become very sensitive to the sweeties i consume. again with the raisins as the example, just a small handful makes my stomach hurt. it feels very natural for me to follow this plan. do i miss sharp cheddar? more than you can ever know.  i could gladly let go of the chocolate chips after meals, cream in my coffee, or maple syrup on my pancakes (what pancakes?!) for a slice of cheese. but, alas… we stick with the plan. i’ll get you cheese, someday i will get you…

also, since i kicked my nasty gluten-free pretzel snacking habit between meals, i’ve found myself making up for it in crunching on salty nuts quite often. that has to stop. nuts are for nutrition, not for mindless munching. a hard habit to kick, though, because really they’re the only between-meal protein snack i have.. ideas?

breakfast: 2 scrambled eggs and 2 strips of bacon on tapioca flat bread. coffee with coconut cream.

snack: nuts and a peach

lunch: turkey, avocado, sprouts, red peppers. an apricot.

snack: more nuts! ugh!

dinner: hasselback sweet potato, sausage in a skillet. cherries and a peach.

results: filling and salty and tasty! i think this savory sweet potato would make an awesome breakfast with some dippy eggs and sausage. yum!

yes, that is a puddle of ghee that the potato is wading in!

this recipe serves 2

hasselback sweet potato

2 small sweet potatoes

3 tbsp olive oil

S & P

chopped basil

ghee

method: preheat oven to 425f.

slice most the way through your potatoes, about 1/3″ apart. be sure to leave it in tact at the bottom of the potato.

cover in oil, salt, and pepper.

if you prefer a soft potato, cover in foil. if not, bake it directly on rack with a cookie sheet under to catch the oil for 45 minutes.

once it is finished, unwrap, load up with ghee and chopped basil.

voila! oh so good!

cheesy tapioca flat bread

thanks to paleo hacks, i’ve found an AWESOME chebe cheat. i mentioned in my post on chebe pizza that i had a hack recipe so i wouldn’t have to buy the mix, and i must say that it worked charmingly.

i made this flat bread last night to go with our caesar salads because i wanted something to soak up all the extra dressing at the bottom of the plate. oh man, this bread is addictive.

i was craving it all night long after dinner, but managed to wait until morning to have with my greasy, dippy eggs and bacon. oh man. me likey.

i also made a cinnamon & sugar flat bread, which i dipped in coconut cream. i used the same recipe, omitting most of the salt, and stirring in 1 tsp vanilla, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 cup palm sugar, and spreading melty butter over the top to help more cinnamon and palm sugar stick. bake for 15 minutes, or until bread appears firm.

dear lord, tapioca has been my savior for the past few weeks while i’ve been craving starches.

if you’re like me, and have gone primal but still get starch cravings every few weeks, this is a pretty safe way to get your cinnamon bread, cheesy flat bread, pizza (or whatever you can dream up) fix out of the way without sacrificing what you’ve been working hard for! yeah, a little carb-heavy. but i pile on the protien and fat with it to even things out. this really tastes like a soft, stretchy english muffin. perfect for eggy sandwiches.

cheesy tapioca flat bread

2 cups tapioca flour, leveled

1 tsp salt

1/4 cup milk at room temp (coconut milk or cow milk)

1/4 cup butter or coconut oil melted

2 eggs, room temp, beaten

any herbs or seasonings you may want, fresh or dried

3 tbsp butter, melted

1/4 asiago, romano, parm, whatever hard cheese you so desire

method:

preheat oven to 450f. get a pizza sheet or cookie sheet out, no need to grease.

combine all dry ingredients together in a bowl.

separately, combine all wet ingredients together in a bowl.

combine both dry and wet. i find a rubber spatula works best for this.

knead dough until well combined. place onto cookie sheet, working onto surface as you would pizza dough. if dough seems too wet for this after it is well worked, add 1 tbsp more tapioca flour. if dough seems too dry and “squeaky” after working, add a touch more oil or butter.

press dough out as you would pizza, keeping it as even as you want. if you want lumpy bread, who am i to judge?!

use a pastry brush to brush butter over dough, then sprinkle cheese all over the top.

place into oven, baking for 10-15 minutes. don’t over cook it, don’t let it brown. it should stay light in color, otherwise it will become stiff and cracker-like.

remove from oven, slice, and serve. to store, place in a big baggie and keep in the fridge if storing longer than 2 days. to reheat, put in tin foil and into toaster oven for a few minutes. if you toast it without foil, it will become super hard.

enjoy with eggs, salads, or as a sandwich bread. i just can’t get over how good this bread is with bacon!

i slice this into 9 pieces, and here are the facts, per serving (without cheese): 166 cals, 25 carbs

eat like a dinosaur!

i have been looking forward to reading this recipe & guidebook since it came out. i have been following the blog of the writers of this book, paleo parents, for sometime now. their journey through rearing their children the paleo way has been fun and interesting to watch, especially after we found out that we were expecting our own little cave-person soon enough. i have been reviewing in my mind my future conversations with caregivers and babysitters about why they can’t give our kids conventional snack foods, grains, or gluten. i imagine these explanations, so complicated, might become numerous and exhausting.

including the special chapter “a children’s story” will be a fun way to explain to children, and maybe even adults, what special diets, personal food choices, and dietary restrictions are all about, and why it important to respect our bodies. in my own experience, it can be difficult to explain to anyone, and i have caught a lot of “picky eater” or “tree hugger” flack for my restrictions and choices. this chapter, and the recipes in the book for that matter, remind kids and adults of all of the fun, tasty foods that they can eat on a paleo diet.

another amazing feature in this book is that every recipe includes steps on how kids can help in the preparation of the food. using their own tiny hands to form lamb around skewers for kebabs, adding sauces and veggies to a wok.. these are the ways we keep our kids interested and involved in their own responsible food choices.

i hope you buy a copy of eat like a dinosaur for a hundred recipes just as great as the one below. -graham cookies, teriyaki beef jerky, pulled pork, coconut cream pie, honey nut ice cream.. you will not starve as a caveman, i promise. click HERE get to eat like a dinosaur on amazon.

i wanted to choose a recipe out of this book to make and review, because i believe that people like to see how a recipe works before they buy a cook book, and also that they can relate to the ingredients used. so i chose something i miss most in my primal eating: granola.

this recipe was super easy to execute, and super easy to wolf down. it was hard to resist eating it by the hot handful as it came out of the oven, but somehow i managed to wait until the morning after i baked it. i ate it the old-fashioned way, the way that i miss most: with cold, drippy milk, and sliced up bananas. i chose not to include a dried fruit in this recipe because i can’t seem to find any unsweetened/unsulphured fruits at the store lately. other than that, i made no alterations. the coconut in this recipe is what i like most. what a delicious stand-in for oats. it really comes off as oats when you are eating it, but less… cardboardy. i love adding this grain-free granola to my unsweetened applesauce, my lunchtime yogurt, and eating it out of the bag for a snackie. what a yummy recipe.

thanks again to matt and stacy for working so hard on such a charming and useful book. i can’t wait for the pages to get all worn,  to have little fingerprints marking up the pages!

grain-free granola

1 1/2 cups sliced almonds

1 1/2 cups coconut flakes, chopped

1 cup walnuts, chopped or pureed into a meal

1 cup macadamia nuts, chopped or pureed into a meal

1 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup fresh medjool dates, chopped to size of cranberries

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

1/3 cup honey

2 tsp cinnamon

*note: i chose to use a meat tenderizer to beat the crap out of the macadamia nuts in a large ziplock bag, since my food processor is in heaven right now. it worked really well.

instructions:

combine almonds, coconut flakes, nuts, and fruit in a bowl.

whisk together oil, honey, and cinnamon.

pour oil-honey mixture over nuts and fruit, then mix.

spread onto a well-greased baking sheet.

bake for one hour at 275 f, stirring every 15 minutes to prevent burning.

store in airtight container at room temp for up to several months.

eat this yummy, crunchy, kinda sweet cereal up with super cold coconut milk, sliced bananas, and a hot cup of coffee (if you’re a grown-up). half a cup serving kept me full until lunchtime. -try that, oats!

lemon basil squash and kale ribbons with chicken

i have been waiting for the free summer squashes to start rolling in. for those of you in a zone 5 growing area, you know what i mean. once the first of july hits, so begins 2 full months of people pushing squash on you. no problem by me, i don’t have any in my garden, so send it my way. i could eat it 4 times a week and not get sick of it.

normally we keep our squash super light by simply salting and then grilling small slices. but we wanted something a little more decadent this time around, and also i’m missing pasta a little right now, so decided on a cream sauce made with garlic from the yard and basil and kale from the garden. the thin squash and kale ribbons were a breeze to prepare, looked beautiful, and soaked up the sauce surprisingly well.

this was a refreshing summer meal, and will for sure be a repeat in our house this season.

this entire recipe serves 4.

lemon chicken breasts

4 chicken breasts

juice of 2 lemons, reserve rind for zesting

3 tbsp salt

method for chicken: marinate chicken in lemon and salt for 4 hours. grill until skin browns or chars. remove from heat and zest lemon over breasts, then let rest for 10 minutes.

bright and tender ribbons

squash and kale ribbons

1 long summer squash

several leaves of kale

1/4 cup heavy cream

method:

for the squash, simply use a vegetable peeler to make ribbons out of a long squash. avoid the spongy flesh and seeds in the middle.

for the kale, use a pizza cutter to remove the thick rib from the center of all the leaves. use the same slicer to cut noodle shaped ribbons. set into a large pot.

wait until the chicken is almost done before cooking.

pour cream over ribbons. turn heat on low and cook slowly with lid on until veggies are completely tender. stir often so the sauce or ribbons don’t burn. sprinkle salt in, stir, and allow steam out with heat off.

stir in the salty good stuff

creamy lemon basil sauce:

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

3 tbsp olive oil

3 smashed cloves smashed garlic

1/4 cup fresh basil

salt

lemon for zesting

few tbsp pesto to serve

method: combine cream and garlic in sauce pan over medium heat. once it comes to a brief simmer, turn heat to low and whisk in oil, cheese, and salt. stir briskly until cheese is melted. stir half the sauce into finished ribbons and serve over chicken. finish with more sauce, shredded basil, lemon zest, and a little pesto.

enjoy with a ton of white wine.

or red.

or gin.

whatever.