Greek Lamb Burgers

I was at PCC a few weeks ago, and noticed 100% Grass Fed Lamb.  I’ve never cooked with lamb before, but I remembered seeing a recipe in Everyday Paleo for lamb burgers. Thank goodness for smart phones, I looked up the ingredients, dreamed up some sides to accompany the lamb, and headed home to start cooking.  These are so good.  I’ve now made them 4 times, served them to company 3 times, and generally just love them.  The fresh mint pairs with the lamb perfectly.  And the spices mixed in do not disappoint.  They are so flavorful!  And any meat that can be grilled is my fav way to go – less dishes, more delicious.  I also recently learned of an amazing Greek salad dressing, which I will share soon.  These patties are perfect with a salad and some grilled mushrooms and olives.  Oh, and we eat these without a bun, and don’t make any dipping sauces for them – but a tzatziki sauce would be perfect with them!

greek lamb burgers, grain free, paleo, dairy free, primal

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 pound 100% grass-fed ground lamb (this is a great one for leftovers – I usually double everything!) 
  • 1/2 cup red onion, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 egg
METHOD:
1.  Combine everything in a large bowl and mix until combined.
2.  Form into patties.  I usually get about 10 burgers, but prefer them on the smaller side.
3.  Grill over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, then flip and allow to cook for 3-4 minutes longer.  They cook quick, especially if you make them as small as I do.
4.  If you want a great side to go with these, throw some mushrooms and olives in your grill basket (you could skewer them, too) and set that on the BBQ alongside the lamb.  Something about grilling those makes them even more delicious than they already are.

 

*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
**Adapted from Everyday Paleo.

Carrot Cake Muffins (dairy-free, grain-free, gluten-free, paleo, processed sugar-free)

So two nights ago husband asked me to make 24 muffins for him to bring to work the next day. Which normally is no problem. But this time, he asked at 9pm, just after I got the kitchen all cleaned up and was headed toward bed. I wasn’t about to go to the store, so I had to think quick and whip up something with ingredients on hand. As I was scrolling through my muffin recipes, I remembered these gems. And miraculously had all the ingredients.  I’ve probably made these 15 times in the past, and am not sure why I haven’t posted them yet. They are one of my very favorite, if not my absolute favorite grain-free baked item. Actually, that’s a lie.  This chocolate lava cake surpasses all, but these carrot guys are a distant close second.  They are slightly time-consuming. Not difficult, but just lots of steps. I think it will be worth your efforts however – they are delicious. Allegedly, husband’s coworkers scarfed those muffins down and had no idea they didn’t contain flour, sugar, or vegetable oil.  Gross.   PS, if you are wondering why we use the ingredients we do, read here. And lastly, I think I’ve finally found the best white frosting recipe on the earth without using powdered sugar or dairy. So while you are at it, make this (dairy-free, processed sugar-free, vegan) frosting too and spread it on your muffins!  Enjoy!

Carrot Cake Muffins (dairy-free, grain-free, gluten-free, paleo, processed sugar-free)

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 1/2 cup blanched almond flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup pureed dates (if your dates are too dry to puree on their own, let them soak in hot water for 10 minutes, drain off water, and then puree in food processor)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
METHOD:
1.  Preheat oven to 325F.
2.  Get all your ingredients ready – shred carrots (in food processor or with a cheese grater), puree dates, and chop pecans.
3.  Combine dry ingredients (almond flour, coconut sugar, salt, baking soda and spices) in a large bowl and set aside.
4.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together eggs and melted coconut oil.
5.  Add wet ingredients to dry, and stir to combine.
6.  Mix in pureed dates and carrots.
7.  Fold in pecans.
8.  Divide evenly among 12 muffin liners, and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into middle of muffin comes out clean.
9.  Allow to cool completely, then top with this frosting!

 

*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
**Adapted from The Cupcake Project.

Coconut Cream Frosting (dairy-free, gluten-free, processed sugar-free, paleo, vegan)

Oh man.  Been on the hunt for a white frosting that doesn’t use powdered sugar.  Finally found the best one.  Tried so many.  Failed at so many.  This one wins.  It is creamy, the texture is perfect, and the taste is incredible.  This will for sure be my go-to frosting recipe. Most recently I made it to put on carrot cake muffins, but it would be good on pretty much anything you wanted to frost.  I may have even consumed a few spoonfuls straight out of the fridge.  Don’t judge.  You would have too if there was a tub of this in your fridge.  Let us know what you think of this when you make it!  This frosting would also be real good on pumpkin muffins, chocolate cupcakes, blackberry bars, or spread on grahams!

Coconut Cream Frosting (dairy-free, processed sugar-free, paleo, vegan)

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 cup full fat coconut milk (canned)
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 5 teaspoons arrowroot powder
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted 
METHOD:
1.  Combine coconut milk, syrup, and sea salt in a saucepan over medium heat on the stove and simmer for 10 minutes.
2.  While the mixture is simmering, combine arrowroot and water in a small bowl to make a paste.
3.  After 10 minutes, pour arrowroot mixture into saucepan and whisk enthusiastically to combine.
4.  Quickly bring to a boil, until bubbly and shiny.  Then remove from heat.
5.  Very gradually add coconut oil to mixture, blending either with hand blender, or in stand mixer with whisk attachment in place.
6.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours (I left mine in overnight).
7.  Remove from refrigerator, and blend again until light and fluffy.  Serve immediately.
NOTE:  Due to the coconut oil in this recipe, this frosting does not hold up well in high temperatures.  If you are making this ahead of time, I would spread it on cupcakes or cake immediately after whipping, store in refrigerator, and remove cupcakes or cake about and hour before serving.  This will allow frosting to soften up a bit, but not become overly warm and melt.

 

*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
**Adapted from Elana’s Pantry.

Jalapeno Dijon Grilled Chicken

I’m always on the lookout for easy marinades for chicken.  I love eating it, but sometimes get stuck in my same boring chicken routines.  This recipe is easy, and freakishly good.  You combine everything, throw in the chicken, let it sit for a few hours, and then grill it up.  It is spicy, a bit tangy, and the chicken was so moist.  Give it a try!

jalapeno dijon grilled chicken

INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 lbs organic chicken breasts (or thighs, whichever you prefer)
  • 4 jalapenos, diced (no need to seed, unless you want less spice)
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
  • Juice of one lemon
METHOD:
1.  Combine all the above ingredients, except for the lemon juice, cover, and place in refrigerator to marinate for a minimum of 4 hours and up to 24 hours.
2.  Preheat barbecue to medium-high.
3.  Grill chicken for 7-10 minutes per side, or until meat thermometer inserted into middle of chicken registers 175 degrees F.
4.  Remove chicken from grill and place on plate.  Squeeze lemon juice over chicken, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to sit for 10 more minutes.
5.  Serve, alongside side of your choice, and enjoy!  We ate it with heaping piles of roasted broccoli.

 

*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
**Adapted from Civilized Caveman Cooking.

Peanut Butter Bars (similiar to Lara Bars, sweetened with dates)

A new flavor to add to Erin’s Fruit and Nut Bar post! These were so delicious and reminded me of peanut butter fudge. Yum, yum, yum. I made these for Jonah’s kindergarten class this week and am hoping they were enjoyed by everyone! Super easy to make and only 4 ingredients.

peanut butter bars, similiar to lara bars. sweetened with dates



INGREDIENTS:
  • 1/2 cup whole pecans
  • 1/2 cup whole almonds
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 16 pitted dates
 METHOD:
1. Put all ingredients in the food processor.
2. Process until combined and all ingredients are sticking together. You may need to add a few tablespoons of water slowly while the processor is running to get your ingredients to stick a bit better.
3. Dump mixture on to a piece of parchment paper and flatten it with your hands to make a large square or rectangle. I flattened mine out by pressing my wooden cutting board on top of it and then stuck the mixture in the fridge for 30 minutes.
4. Cut your bars after they have chilled in the fridge.
5. Store in a covered container in the fridge or individually wrap each bar and keep in the fridge.
Makes about 24 small bars.

 

*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.

Homemade Mayonnaise (made with olive oil)

Mayo.  This is another one of those things I never considered making in my own kitchen until recently, but the result is fantastic and the process isn’t hard.  I have yet to find a truly “clean” store-bought mayo.  All the common brands contain terrible ingredients…. high fructose corn syrup, modified corn starch, sugar, soybean oil, and canola oil.  By the way, every single one of those ingredients I just listed come from genetically modified crops…. when you see those ingredients listed, put it back on the shelf and learn to make it yourself.  Seriously. That stuff freaks me out.  Ok, so homemade mayo is made with just 6 ingredients, all of them good.  Olive oil (good fat, non-GMO), eggs (organic and pastured is best…. amazing nutrients and protein, not to mention full of those beneficial Omega-3’s), vinegar, mustard, and some spices.  That’s it.  Now, while the texture is quite “mayonnaise-like” this doesn’t taste like an exact replica of that gross stuff I used to eat.  It is so much better.  You can spread this on sandwiches to be sure, and mix it into tuna or egg salad, but you can also do so much more.  One time, I folded in fresh basil, roasted peppers, and garlic to make more of an aoili that we dipped veggies in and spooned onto our fish.  Another time, I added some dried spices and a little bit of coconut milk, and got something that tasted freakishly like ranch dressing.  The possibilities are endless, really. This morning I added in chipotle seasoning, and smoke paprika and dipped homemade sweet potato fries in it.  See?  Endless.  I would love to hear what some of you lovely people create!!

Additionally, I know that some of you will freak about consuming raw eggs.  I would freak too if I didn’t trust my farmer… There is such peace of mind in knowing where your food comes from, what conditions the animals are raised in, the foods they consume, and the freshness of the product.  I get my eggs from this amazing woman named Eiko, with Skagit River Ranch.  The eggs are organic, pastured, and the freshest eggs ever.  I have to wait in line to get these eggs, and pay a pretty penny for them, but to our family it is worth it.  Personally, I would be fearful of eating raw eggs from almost any other source.  AND, if you are pregnant or nursing, don’t eat raw eggs.  But you already knew that.

This recipe fills up one mason jar to the brim, plus about 1/4 cup or so extra…. I’ve kept it with success for about a week in the refrigerator.  Haven’t tried to see if it lasts longer, mostly because we eat it too fast.

Also, see all those red specks in my mayo?  Got a little pour happy with the cayenne.  T’was a mistake I didn’t regret, although this batch did have some serious kick.

homemade mayonnaise with olive oil, paleo

INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 large organic, pasture-raised eggs
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 2 cups light olive oil (the “light” is important here, if you use extra virgin, the olive taste will be very over powering)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
METHOD:
1.  In a liquid measuring glass, measure 2 cups of light olive oil.  Set aside.
2.  Combine eggs, vinegar, and mustard in food processor with the metal blade attachment.  A blender will work too if you don’t have food processor.
3.  Pulse food processor 5 times so the eggs mix with the other ingredients.
4.  Turn food processor on, and SLOWLY, and I mean SLOWLY pour olive oil into food processor while it is running.  SLOW guys.  Like painfully slow.  It takes at least 2 minutes, maybe longer to pour olive oil in slowly.  Slow.  Got it?
5.  You will begin to see the eggs and olive oil thickening, also called emulsifying, but keep going slow until olive oil is fully incorporated and desired thickness is achieved.
6.  Turn food processor off, add in salt and cayenne, and pulse again 5 times to combine.
7.  If you are going to add in various other spices and flavors, I recommend folding them into the mayo base with a spoon rather than adding them to food processor.  The mayonnaise looses its thickness unless you are careful with add-ins.

 

*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
**Adapted from Everyday Paleo.

Chocolate Lava Cake (grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo)

My CrossFit ladies are amazing.  In the gym, they are constantly encouraging, pushing me to my limits, motivating, and supportive.  And outside the gym, they give me recipes like this one.  I’m serious.  My girl Noelle texted me the recipe, and her pictures of the chocolate lava goodness a while ago.  Then she told me about it again.  Then she showed me some more pictures.  I knew it was only going to be a matter of time before the inspiration struck to make it myself.  Well, I made it.  I ate it.  I licked the plate clean.  And I contemplated making another one.  Kidding.  Kind of.  I think this dessert might even have magical weight lifting powers.  This morning, I lifted a lot of weight.  More than I’ve done on any other morning.  Could be any number of things, but probably it is this cake.  Go make it.  It will make you stronger!  That’s a lie, but still.  You should make it.

paleo chocolate lava cake (grain-free, dairy-free)

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1/2 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon coconut oil (or grass-fed butter), divided
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder, or coconut sugar (for dusting the ramekin)
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (I cut up a Theo Chocolate Bar cause it is tasty, but also soy-free and dairy-free)
  • 1 large organic egg
  • 4 teaspoons coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter or bourbon.  Do you even need to ask which one I use?  The bourbon.  Duh.
  • 1 teaspoon coconut flour
  • Pinch of smoked sea salt
METHOD:
1.  Grease a 3/4 cup ramekin with 1 teaspoon of coconut oil (or butter).  Dust with cocoa powder or coconut sugar and set aside.
2.  In a sauce pan over low heat, combine chocolate and 1 tablespoon coconut oil (or butter) until melted.
3.  While the chocolate is cooling a little bit, in a separate bowl, whisk together egg, coconut sugar, and your choice of either bourbon or almond butter.  Honestly, is that even a choice?  Go with the bourbon.  Just do it.
4.  Pour chocolate mixture into egg mixture, and whisk until well incorporated.
5.  Stir in salt and coconut flour until just combined.
6.  Pour batter into greased/dusted ramekin and bake in 375 F oven for 7-10 minutes, or until desired doneness is achieved.  In both my oven and Noelle’s oven, the magical time is 9 minutes.  The outside is cooked and fluffy, and the inside ooooooozes chocolate goodness.
7.  Let cool for 2 minutes, then using a hot pad, turn ramekin upside onto plate.  The cake should easily come out of ramekin.  Eat it.  Right away.  Then leave a comment and tell us what you thought.
oh, and PS:  This recipe is for but one mere lava cake.  If you are making more than one, and I highly suggest you do, just double, or triple, or whatever the recipe and then split evenly among ramekins.  Got it?
PSS:  I tripled the batter, made it about an hour before dinner time, and split it between 3 ramekins and let it sit on counter.  15 minutes before dessert time, I preheated oven and popped em in.  That way we could eat them hot and fresh without me having to mix batter during dinner.  They turned out amazing.

 

*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
**Adapted from Sunset Magazine, February 2012.

Creamy Potato Soup, with Bacon, Green Onions, + Cheese

Our household rang in 2013 with the stomach bug. There hasn’t been a whole lot of magic happening in our kitchen. But once our tummies started feeling a bit stronger, I knew I had to try this potato soup recipe. It’s like a loaded baked potato in a soup. Comfort food in a bowl. It may be my new most favorite soup to come out of my kitchen. It totally hit the spot and is full of good, wholesome ingredients and it gets better and better each time you reheat it for leftovers. I hope you enjoy it as much!

creamy potato soup

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound cubed baking potato
  • 1 pound cubed Yukon gold potato
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup chopped green onions, divided
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated cheddar cheese
  • 4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
METHOD:
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Heat a large, heavy bottomed stock pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil to pan. Add onion, thyme and garlic; saute 5 minutes or until tender, stirring often.
3. Add potatoes, broth, salt, and bay leaves and bring to a boil.
4. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for at least 35 minutes or until the potatoes are soft and tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; take out bay leaves.
5. While the potatoes simmer, toss the cauliflower with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper until each floret is coated in oil. Arrange in one single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet, making sure the cauliflower isn’t too crowded but has space to roast evenly. Roast at 450 degrees for 30 minutes or until browned, turning once.
6. Once cauliflower is finished, place roasted cauliflower in a food processor or blender with the milk and blend until smooth. Pour cauliflower mixture into a large bowl.
7. Add half of the potato mixture in the food processor or blender and pulse 5 to 6 times until coarsely chopped. Pour into the large bowl with cauliflower mixture and repeat with the second half of potato mixture.
8. Once everything has been processed/blended, pour back into the stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat.
9. Stir in salt, pepper, 1/2 cup green onions, most of the bacon (but save some for toppings) and sour cream. Stir until the sour cream melts and the soup is heated through.
10. Ladle soup into serving bowls and top with remaining bacon crumbles, freshly grated cheddar cheese and green onion. Cozy up and enjoy!

 

*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
**Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine (Jan/Feb 2013)

Chicken + Vegetable Curry (grain-free, dairy-free – served over cauliflower “rice”)

So.  Husband and I are two weeks into our nutrition challenge and still going strong… what we are eating is very limited for this time, so I get to try to come up with new and exciting ways to mix up our food.  Some of my most creative, and most delicious cooking has happened in the last couple of weeks.  Been researching tons, exploring tons of blogs and cookbooks, talking to friends who don’t eat grains, and just trying new things in the kitchen.  Yesterday was no exception.  I read and re-read 3 different curry recipes, then put the cookbooks away (well, shut the computer off), and went to work on our chicken curry lunch without looking at any recipe.  Holy crap.  The result was one of the best things that has come out of my kitchen.  I tasted a lot as I went, added more of this and more of that, and waited til it was just right.  Then, we feasted.  Before my mess was cleaned up, I pretty much immediately re-made it to bring to a friend who needed a hug and a home cooked meal, and that’s when I wrote it all down and refined the recipe.  Friends, go make this.  Seriously.  And don’t worry if you don’t have every exact ingredient.  Trust your gut and taste as you go.  You really can’t go wrong.  Oh, and if you must, serve over rice…. but I highly recommend the cauliflower version.  You won’t be able to tell a difference.  I promise.

chicken and vegetable curry, made with cauliflower %22rice%22... grain free, dairy free, paleo

INGREDIENTS:
(for chicken and vegetables)
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3-4 inch cube of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1 small sweet onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 lbs organic chicken, diced (you can use breasts or thighs depending on your preference)
  • 2 cans full fat coconut milk (Natural Value Organic Coconut Milk), not shaken
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, sliced 
  • 1-2 cups cabbage, shredded (I used purple, green would be great too)
INGREDIENTS:
(for spice blend)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground tumeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
INGREDIENTS:
(for cauliflower “rice”)
METHOD:
1.  Melt 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in a large fry pan over medium-high heat.  Add cubed chicken, and cook until outside is browned and there is no pink on the inside. Drain off any liquid in the pan.
2.  While chicken is cooking, combine ingredients for the spice blend, stir, and set aside.
3.  In your food processor, add garlic, onion, and ginger and pulse until a chunky paste is formed.  About 10 pulses.
4.  Scrape paste from food processor on to chicken, and add peppers, zucchini, and cabbage.
5.  Drop in the other tablespoon of coconut oil, and turn heat onto medium.
6.  Add spice blend, and stir to coat chicken and veggies.
7.  Open both cans of coconut milk, and scoop off the coconut cream which will be at the top of the can, and add to mixture.  It will be solid until heated, at which point it will liquify.  Between both cans, you should have 1-1 1/2 cups of cream.  Discard the water left in the cans, or save for later use.
8.  Simmer for 20 or so minutes, or until veggies are cooked to your liking.
9.  While curry is simmering, take raw cauliflower florets and run through food processor with the grate attachment in place.  You can also throw the florets into the processor and pulse with the blade, but you will get smaller “rice” pieces this way.  Either way is fine.  If you don’t have food processor, you can grate by hand on a cheese grater.  I’ve done it this way in the past.  Doable, but tedious.
10.  Melt butter in another fry pan, over medium heat.  Dump grated cauliflower into pan with butter, add salt and pepper, and fry until tender.  Takes about 5-7 minutes.  Do not over cook.
11.  Serve up a heaping spoonful of “rice”, topped with chicken and veggies, and make sure to spoon some of the sauce on top.  Grain-free, dairy-free, and full of great vegetables and protein!  Come on!  Give it a try!  It is super easy, and you won’t be disappointed.
PS.  I made a vegan version of this for my friend simply by omitting chicken, and cooking “rice” in coconut oil instead of butter.  So there’s that too.
*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
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