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.

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loaded baked potato soup

potatoes, broccoli, ham, bacon… thank you, fall. i never crave soup during the warm seasons. does anyone? i love to feel the heat coming from the kitchen when the stove is piping in the afternoon, warm smells billowing their way through all rooms of the house. everyone knows soup is warming, comforting, and a handshake into the cold weather. we must give in. it is fall and it is cold. the wind is blustering around the corners of our house, whisteling in the morning and howling in the evening. our toes are cold on the hardwood floors, and my hands have burns on them from stirring the pot.

soup.

soup for the soul.

i didn’t need to buy many things to make this belly-warming meal. i could add things like cream cheese if i wanted, or take out things like ham if i needed to. i could omit the broccoli if i wanted, and use cooked leeks instead. i have made variations on this soup, and as long as you taste, taste, taste as you go, you can’t go wrong with the recipe i am giving you.

i like to make a big pot on sunday to have leftovers during our busy, cold week.

this recipe makes 6 large bowls of soup.

loaded baked potato soup

ingredients:

8 medium red-skinned potatoes

8 strips of bacon, plus more for garnish if you wish

1 small yellow onion

10 cloves of garlic, smashed and minced

1 cup broccoli florets

4 cups chicken broth

1 cup stock

8 oz uncured, cooked ham steak, diced

fresh herbs- rosemary, thyme or sage work really well here

1 tbsp salt + more to taste

1/2 cup greek yogurt- 0%, 2%, or full fat is fine

cheddar cheese, shredded

method: in a very large pot, boil potatoes whole until tender. they do not have to be completely cooked.

meanwhile, chop onion into smallish bits and mince garlic.

once potatoes are cooked, drain them.

use the same pot to fry bacon until crispy. remove cooked bacon and transfer to paper towels. reserve fat from bacon. sautee onions until clear. add half of the salt to the onions.

add garlic the cooked onions. cook for 2 minutes over medium heat.

add broccoli, salt, and cooked potatoes to onions and garlic. use a potato masher or other blunt object to smash up potatoes. add broth and stock. stir and cook for 15 minutes or so. smash up big bits of potato and broccoli as you go along.

once soup is heated through and broccoli is cooked until very tender, add ham. allow to cook for 5 minutes, then add herbs, salt, crumbled bacon, cream cheese and yogurt. stir well, allow to heat through.

taste the soup, add salt as you see fit. i like this soup pretty salty, but be careful. the magic is in tasting as you go, gradually.

serve soup with shredded cheddar and bacon on top. i also like to stir a small cube of cream cheese into my bowl!

save leftovers for warm lunches throughout the week.

tropical tease yonanas

have you guys seen this thing yet?

it makes what this primal crowd of mine calls “bananas ice cream”. yes, it makes nearly the same product that we do in our blender, but with a superior result. also, i don’t like to waste the use of my blender (which is old, yucky, hard to clean, and limited on its final days) on frozen bananas. at times, it takes my blender 5 or so minutes just to make one serving of bananas ice cream, stopping the blender frequently to mash the bananas into the blade.

flash to yonanas. this thing is awesome. i’m not normally impressed with single item specific devices, but i love this. what a healthy way to push non-dairy treats into our ice cream heavy diets. let’s not forget how wonderful this could be with a waffle breakfast! -i’m just sayin!

it comes with a recipe book, though every “recipe” is flexible, and making your own up is totally legit.

blend cocoa sprinkled frozen bananas for chocolate yonanas.

blend it with any other favorite fruit that is frozen for a sorbet.

spread into the bottom of a pie tin lined with your favorite crust for ice cream pie.

between 2 grain free cookies or brownies for a sandwich.

throw in fresh mint for mint ice cream.

pour booze over it like grandma did for “kahlua ice cream”. (she has the good ideas!)

visit the website to learn more about this wonderful little gadget!

the recipe we enjoyed tonight was tropical tease. really simple, and super tasty. this was incredibly refreshing on a hot night, i think it would be a relief on a super hot afternoon playing out in the sun. oh, and don’t skip the coconut!

this recipe is taken directly from the yonanas recipe page. there is a wealth of simple, delicious, and incredibly nutritious recipes on that site. enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 frozen ripe bananas, 1⁄2 cup frozen pineapple chunks, 1⁄2 cup frozen mango chunks, 1⁄4 cup shredded coconut

Directions:
1. Insert one frozen banana
2. Add 1⁄2 cup frozen pineapple
3. Add 1⁄2 cup frozen mango
4. Insert second frozen banana
5. Stir pineapple mango Yonanas into bowl to combine
6. Sprinkle shredded coconut on top of Yonanas

if you’re feeling a little wacky, put your yonanas into your favorite gluten free/grain free cone!

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 26

take what you can, closest to what you want.

this is a general theme i have been trying to stick to this past month or so to help me deal with the fluxes and changes that come over us. no, not just in the whole 30 challenge. but in life outside of set challenges. especially with long (12 hours, at least) days at work and trying to take care of a baby, especially moving to a new city, especially with the very soon loss of my income… we are learning to accept that some small things will change here and there. i don’t deal well with that. i have high expectations of everything.

here is my typical cycle of disappointment:

i get home at 8:30pm. i want dinner to be done as soon as i walk in and i want it to be perfect. i want juniper to wake up be ready to nurse as soon as i finish dinner. i want to sleep solidly throughout the night so i can wake up refreshed after my 5 hours of sleep (HA) at 4:30am to go back to work. i want to remember to go to the bathroom before i leave, it could be my only chance all day (nope, forgot to go). i want my breakfast to be perfect so i’m not having cravings all morning, since i don’t get snack breaks until lunch at 1:00pm (burnt bacon, awesome). oh no, still haven’t gotten time to visit ladies’ room. i want to go to lunch on time (nope, emergency patient coming in, toothache. lunch is at 2 and i’m starving). i want my salad to be perfect at lunchtime (oh, someone accidentally dumped your $6 whole 30 compliant dressing last week and i don’t have anything to dress a salad with now? oooommmmggggg… i totally overreacted to this). i want to leave work on time at 7pm so i can get home before juniper is sleeping (oh good, she doesn’t want to nurse because she’s had bottles all day? this is a problem), and also maybe i can take a little walk tonight since i haven’t gotten to all week (nope, another toothache at 6:30pm turns into a late night marathon, call brian, be home at 8:45. also missed jeopardy. damn)… and finally, we fall back into our cycle of disappointment.

it is not the job i am angry with! it is me! i am angry at my lack of coping skills.

isn’t this a negative way to look at my life? it is. so i’m changing it. because i am not a good mommy when i feel disappointed 3 days a week.

in the mean time:

take what we can, closest to what we want!

i had eaten all of my salad greens without realizing it, same goes for avocado. my lunch was seeming like a disappointment, so i changed my frame of mind, and also added a bunch of stuff to my salad that i wouldn’t normally, and: voila! a good lunch it became! how beautiful!

breakfast: sweet potato hashies, 2 eggs, 2 bacons. coffee with coconut cream.

lunch: chicken, beets, baby watermelons*, pepitas, fennel fronds, lemon oil vinaigrette (1/3 cup lemon juice (about 1 lemon), 1/3 cup olive oil, sprinkle of salt,sprinkle of pepper).

snack: 1/4 cup raw cashews.

dinner: huge portion of salmon, roasted veggies with basil. watermelon.

results: awesome. ok, so eating that many beets all week.. well, it changed my digestion. let’s just say that. but delicious day of foods, who can complain about running out of avocado and greens with an otherwise delicious salad and amazing dinner at mom and dad’s house?

*no, i had never eaten a baby watermelon until this past week. my mother in law picked up some rare and amazing vegetables and herbs for me at a celebrity chef event in huron, ohio, and i’m gobbling them up fast! baby watermelon taste like.. well, watermelon, but it isn’t sweet at all. i guess it could also be compared to a teeny tiny green tomato. so fun!

juniper, however, remains perfect. not only because she just IS, but also for practical reasons. she sleeps solidly throughout the night, about 12 hours or so. she always has. she doesn’t fuss throughout the day unless she has dropped her tootsie or if she sees that i have been ignoring her for house chores for longer than an hour. she nurses every 3.5 hours, almost like clockwork. she needs her diaper changed every 2 hours. she is predictable, laid back, and happy. she makes me laugh and smile when i am at my whit’s end. days when i drop a pan on my toe while cleaning up cat litter, nothing can be worse right now, look up….. there she is smiling at me, and giggles. my day changes. the sun comes out.

this beautiful baby is something i am never disappointed in. look at her. she is my buddy. when i AM home from work, we are inseparable. we are attached at the hip. when we get up in the morning, i put her in her moses basket and set her on the kitchen table while i make breakfast. i don’t leave her alone in a room yet, not only is she too little, but she’s too cute. i don’t want all of that cuteness to get wasted on an empty room. seriously.

these are a few of my favorite things!!!

Whole 30, day 16

things are simplifying now that i’ve come up with a few self-imposed limitations.

-only 1 serving of fruit, fresh or dried, per day. this should keep my apricot/dates/cherry addiction under control. really, i could eat about 2 servings of each daily. so when i journal that i had “dates” or “raisins” during the day, know that it was A LOT of those things. that’s a lot of fruit, and a lot of fermenting in my belly. not to mention possible weight gain issues.

-tomatoes don’t count as a fruit.

-only one serving of nuts per day.

-only one serving of seeds per day.

what do you think? i think it should keep me under control. i have lots of soft-boiled eggs in the fridge for snacking if i reach my limits on fruit, nuts, and seeds.

breakfast: 2 eggs, 2 slices of bacon, tapioca flatbread. coconut cream coffee.

lunch: big ass salad-chicken, 1/2 avocado, 1/2 tomato, 1/4 cup sunflower seeds on baby greens with oil and vinegar. also had applesauce (unsweetened) with cinnamon. -today was the last day of my massive antibiotic treatment, so i needed the pectin.

dinner: sausage stuffed peppers. OMG.

results: i felt great all day. maybe it’s because i woke up around 8 since it was my day off, so juniper and i took a long walk after a lazy breakfast. or maybe it was because my eating was perfectly on track. i dunno. just a good day!

sausage stuffed peppers

2 bell peppers (red, green, whatever), halved and seeded

1 lb ground pork sausage, i like spicy italian*

1 can (14 oz or so) roasted, diced tomatoes -check the ingredients!

3 tbsp tomato paste

small handful of basil, chopped

sprinkle of crushed red peppers, and any other seasonings you may want
*ask your meat guy if he has any sausage without nitrates and other non-approved ingredients in it. if there is none prepackaged, they love to be accommodating and make fresh for you. i promise.

method: preheat oven to 450f. place peppers in a baking dish and sprinkle a little salt and pepper over them. bake them for 20 minutes or so, until they’re a little soft. prepare the rest of the ingredients while they bake.

brown pork over medium heat. throw crushed peppers in there to heat things up while you’re at it!

while pork browns, stir the remaining ingredients into a large bowl.

when pork is cooked, remove it from the heat. stir it into the bowl with the tomato sauce.

spoon into peppers, and bake for another 10-15 minutes.

allow to cool for a few minutes before serving. i can imagine this would be delicious with some superb stanky italian cheese browned on top, but guess what….. it’s whole 30, and we don’t do that.

NOM!

i know, that’s not stuffed peppers!

shrimp antipasto

an easy meal for the work week, or just if you don’t feel like spending lots of time in the kitchen with a complicated meal. this is a filling meal that really satisfied my salt-tooth. i felt perfectly filled up afterward. add lots of fun things that you may feel will taste amazing here!

shrimp antipasto

15 or so large shrimp, peeled and rinsed

2 roasted red peppers, chopped, or 1/2 cup prepared roasted red peppers

1/4 cup oil packed olives of your choice (stuffed, brined, etc.)

1 small head of broccoli

1 cup or more oyster mushrooms, cleaned and cut

S&P

some bacon grease to fry, or some olive oil

chopped fresh basil

method: steam broccoli. when it is done, remove from heat but keep lid on.

sprinkle salt and pepper, then saute shrimp until completely cooked. place shrimp into pot with broccoli.

saute the mushrooms, sprinkle with S&P. put with shrimp and broccoli.

saute the peppers and olives very briefly, just to warm. stir all ingredients together, adding a little oil to dress. serve with fresh basil on top.

enjoy!