Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sweet Potato Chocolate Cake by Amazing Paleo

I don't often indulge in "paleo desserts".  This recipe from Amazing Paleo, however, sparked my interest as it uses sweet potatoes as the base for this chocolate cake and I LOVE sweet potato!

Although it seemed a little laborious at first, this turned out quite well and I likened the texture of the cake to that of a pumpkin pie filling: smooth and creamy!  Super chocolatey too!  I was expecting a more dense cake but was pleasantly surprised at how its smooth and creamy texture lightens it up.

The icing made of coconut oil is good, but I would almost prefer the cake on it's own.  I omitted the addition of the instant coffee just because I never have the stuff around the kitchen (quite possibly this could have made the difference between a good icing and an awesome one).  If dairy and I had a better relationship, I would have slapped on a cream cheese icing instead.  *drool*

Cooking time for the cake is 40 minutes @ 325 F, although I found that I needed an extra 10-15 minutes with my finicky oven to have the centre cooked. 

All in all, this cake was FANTASTIC!  I will definitely be making this cake again, great for birthdays, pot lucks and the like.  Nice work Amazing Paleo and I definitely recommend this one to all you paleo lovers!  :)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Simple Roasted Slaw

Simple Roasted Slaw

Preheat oven to 350 F

1 small cabbage, quartered
1 large red onion, quartered
8 cloves garlic, unpeeled
duck fat (or fat of choice)
sea salt

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp unpasteurized honey
1 - 2 tsp of dried rosemary

Spread ingredients over parchment paper on a roasting pan.  Add a small dollop of your choice of fat onto each wedge of cabbage and onion.  Sprinkle generously with sea salt and place in the oven for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, remove from oven and separate a few layers of the onion and spread out on the pan.  Give the cabbage a turn and place in the oven for another 20 - 30 minutes.  Depending on your oven temperature, you can periodically check to make sure your goods are not burning.

When done, remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.  Finely chop each wedge of cabbage and onion and place into a large bowl.  Squeeze out roasted garlic from their skins and add to your sliced cabbage and onion.

Add apple cider vinegar, honey and rosemary and toss all ingredients until well combined.  Season to taste and enjoy!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Avocado Banana & Cacao Pudding

It's time for a sweet treat!   I've always been curious about using avocados as part of a dessert recipe.  I've associated the avocado as a fruit to be enjoyed only in savoury dishes with lots of garlic, onion, tomatoes and lemon like in a guacamole (Mmmm).  I've read lots of raw and vegan style recipes and see the use of avocado pop up a lot in desserts and smoothies, so I thought I would give this one a try.

Who doesn't love pudding?  When I was a kid, it was a once in a blue moon treat for my mom to pick up those little containers of chocolate pudding for me.  They'd magically appear in my lunch and I'd be so excited.  I shoved those things so fast down my throat . . I was never one to savor, but still thoroughly enjoyed.

Moving out in my twenties gave me permission to be responsible for purchasing and preparing my own food and I'd be lying if I said that pudding wasn't a regular item on my shopping list.  Usually coming in packs of 4 - 6, I'd take all of them down together like a champ.  Those were the days.

But now, being more conscious of my food choices, I decided to try this recipe and was pleasantly surprised.  The texture is thick and super smooth.  The banana sweetens it up nicely but if you enjoy your pudding a little sweeter, you can add unpasteurized honey or a good maple syrup for a desired sweetness.  The raw cacao powder rounds it out with its super rich chocolate flavour.

This pudding packs a nice punch of antioxidants, magnesium, potassium and monounsaturated goodness.

Avocado Banana & Cacao Pudding

1 ripened avocado
1 ripened banana
4 Tbsp organic raw cacao powder
1/2 tsp organic vanilla extract
unpasteurized honey or maple syrup for desired sweetness (optional)

  1. Combine avocado and banana in a food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. Add cacao, vanilla and optional honey/maple syrup and blend again until a smooth consistency is reached. 
Enjoy straight away or refrigerate in a sealed glass container for a cool creamy treat (I like my pudding cold).  Enjoy within 3 days!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Beef Cheeks

Beef cheeks are my new favourite cut. I made this delicious Beef Cheek Stew tonight and I gotta say, this is the only cut I'll be using for my beef stews from now on. Amazing!

I don't have a recipe at the moment.  Most of the time when I cook I'm just randomly grabbing ingredients and tossing them in without measuring.  But, if you have a good stew recipe you can replace your regular stewing beef with some cheeks.  You won't regret it!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wednesday Night Ramblings

  • Breakfast?  Lunch?  Dinner?  As long as you're eating fresh whole foods, either raw, steamed or cooked in delicious healthy fats, it really doesn't matter what time of day it enters your stomach.  Leftover wild sockeye salmon for breakfast with a side salad?  Sounds great!  Bacon, eggs and sauerkraut for dinner?  Yes please! 
  • Don't worry about meal time stigmas and enjoy a variety of foods any time of day.  If you're hungry, eat!  Not Hungry?  Don't eat!
  • If you ever find yourself opening the fridge, looking at all your fresh pickings but nothing particular interests you, try having a glass of water.  Your trigger for thirst can sometimes be mistaken for hunger, so take a moment to think about what you really want before you start shoving food in your face.  You might just be thirsty!
  • Sometimes when we're stressed, it can trigger cravings for things we wouldn't normally eat.  I fully admit to having these cravings from time to time and indulging as well (with full regret, bloating and/or headaches shortly after) .  Food is a great distraction for people and it's no wonder why the snacking industry does so well.  Sugary and salty fried treats hit those pleasure receptors in our brain making us feel good for the moment.  In the end, thinking about what the specific stressor is and dealing with the emotion or issue can help you take control of your cravings. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Lamb's Liver Pate

What do you do when you overcook the beautiful lamb's livers that you purchased fresh from the farmer's market?  You make pate!

I'm very familiar with cooking beef or calves liver but it was my first time cooking lamb's liver.  I figured cooking times would be the same, but these delicious little things came out tougher than I would have liked.  Not wanting it to go to waste, I decided to whip up a delicious pate.

Lamb's Liver Pate

1/2 lb lamb's liver *
2 slices of bacon
1/2 large onion, sliced
1 large portobello mushroom, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
Bacon Fat
Red Wine
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Thyme, sea salt, black pepper or herbs of your choice

* My liver was already cooked, but you can add the liver to the veggie saute below and cook together.  Cook liver until tender and moist.

On medium heat, fry up bacon and add onions, mushrooms, and garlic.  You can add a little extra bacon fat to the pan if needed.  Cook the onions and garlic till soft and onions slightly browned.  De-glaze your pan with a good splash of red wine or alcohol of your choice, then place deliciousness in a blender of food processor.  Blend on low and if too thick, drizzle in some of your best extra virgin olive oil.  I prefer a creamy mousse like texture, but if you prefer a course or fine texture, blend accordingly.  Once you get the consistency you like, pour into a low long dish to cool off evenly and cover or it will form a skin.  Place in the fridge to cool and enjoy with fresh veggies!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Simple and Quick Pork and Spinach

After such a busy week at home, school, and work I came home to focus on some overdue laundry and to unwind with some garbage tv shows and random internet browsing (mostly reading nutrition related articles and recipes).  After laundry I started getting a little hungry and put this little dish together in no time at all. Super delicious and so few ingredients; paleo in a pinch!

Simple and Quick Pork and Spinach

1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon of ghee or coconut oil
1 lb ground pork
2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 bunch spinach, chopped
good pinch of salt

1. On medium heat, saute onion in desired fat until almost tender, then add the garlic.
2. Add ground pork and continue to cook with onions/garlic
3. When pork is almost cooked (very little pink left) add your chili and cumin and salt
4. With pork fully cooked through, add spinach and turn off heat.  Mix spinach until nicely wilted.
5. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Kale, Spinach and Bacon Saute

Whipped up this deliciousness for a late breakfast today (1 in the afternoon) and it turned out so well, I wanted to share it with you all!  Super quick and easy to make!

Kale, Spinach and Bacon Saute


4 strips of bacon
1 bunch of Kale, stalks removed and chopped
1 bunch of spinach, roughly chopped
2 stalks of celery, sliced
1/2 an onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp of Apple Cider Vinegar

In a large saute pan, cook bacon on medium heat to your liking.  For dishes like this, I prefer the bacon cooked soft, but if you like it crispy, it wouldn't lose its awesomeness.

Set cooked bacon aside and saute onion in leftover bacon fat for two minutes on medium heat.  You can add a few tablespoons of water to loosen up any bacon goodness stuck on the bottom and this will also prevent the onion from burning (If at any time you find your saute drying out, just add some water or stock). 

Add garlic and then celery for another minute.  Stir in your chopped kale and apple cider vinegar and allow to cook.  When the kale is wilted, mix in the chopped spinach and remove from heat.

Your bacon should be well cooled by now so chop it up nicely and throw it in to the pan.  Amazing on its own or as a side.


Friday, March 16, 2012

Breakfast & Lunch

Breakfast: Eggs cooked in ghee topped with salsa and a side of steamed french beans

Lunch: Leftover grass-fed beef, sauteed onions and snow peas with steamed sweet potato.

Good eats!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Making Ghee

Giving up dairy has been a tough one for me.  At the beginning of 2011, I successfully eliminated dairy for 6 months and felt great.  My skin glowed, digestion felt better, minor instances of sinus congestion disappeared and I had an extra punch of energy.  How and why I got back on the dairy train I'm not sure.  I've been adding cream back into my coffee instead of my usual coconut milk and I had a not so pleasant ice cream experience on the weekend (moment of weakness, resulted in intestinal cramping and a migraine).  I think it's time to try again.

In my dairy free days I used a lot of coconut oil, homemade rendered animal fats, olive oil and ghee.  Using the ghee gave me the richness of butter that I love with zero dairy effects.  Ghee is great for cooking at higher temperatures, has an amazing shelf life, can be stored at room temperature and tastes great!

prepare strainer with cheese cloth

1 lb organic butter, unsalted


Double boiler or 1 pot and 1 stainless steel bowl (to fit over pot)
wire mesh strainer
cheese cloth
extra bowl
glass jar for storage

Using a double boiler or stainless steel bowl over a sauce pan, bring water to a boil.  Place butter in bowl and reduce heat to a medium simmer.  Butter will melt.

skim your milk proteins
While butter melts, prepare your wire mesh strainer by wrapping it in cheese cloth (two layers on top and two layers on the bottom).  This will provide sufficient layers to catch any stray milk proteins from getting in your ghee.  You will know after a few weeks if any have made it in as your ghee will turn to funky cheese.  Take my word on that.  As my husband said, "not cool".  He was the one that discovered it and cleaned it out.

slowly pour through strainer
As the butter melts, you will notice a white film form on the surface.  This film is made up of the milk proteins/solids.  When butter is completely melted, use a spoon to skim this film and discard.  Try to get as much as you can from the surface and make sure you do not stir the mixture at any point as milk solids will settle on the bottom too.

ghee collected
You may want to grab some oven mitts to grab the bowl from the heat.  Slowly pour the ghee through the strainer.  Any remaining film on the surface will be caught by the cheese cloth.  It may seem tedious, but do not dump the entire contents through.  We want to avoid the milk solids at the bottom as they are in a liquid form and will not be properly strained.  Remember: funky cheese! 

Stop pouring when you see a white cloudy film at the bottom.  You'll lose some precious ghee at this point, but it's better out than in.

Pour strained ghee into a glass jar for storage and allow to cool for a bit before screwing the lid on.

Ghee is best stored at room temperature.

Enjoy!  I especially love it for making eggs and sauteing veggies!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Bacon, Kale and Mushroom Stuffed Squash

I used to hate squash.  That and turnips, brussels sprouts and cabbage.  My tastes have really turned around in adulthood and I'm really enjoying exploring the tastes and aromas of these old enemies.  The only way I would eat squash as a kid was when my mom prepared it, roasted in the oven with butter, brown sugar and curry.  Of course, my childhood taste buds were mainly after the sweet buttery "soup" that filled the squash cavities.  It masked the squash enough for me to enjoy.

I enjoy squash regularly now, it's one of my favourite root vegetables.  Tonight I decided I wanted to try a more paleo savory stuffing and came up with this.

Bacon, Kale and Mushroom Stuffed Squash


1 acorn squash, halved and seeded
8 mushrooms (white or brown), sliced
4 strips of bacon
2 tsp coconut oil
3 large kale leaves, stalks removed
garlic (either 1 clove fresh or 1/4 tsp powdered)
1 tsp thyme

Preheat oven: 400 F

Prepare acorn squash by slicing in half and removing seeds.  Place 1 tsp of coconut oil in each cavity and massage.  Season with salt and place in the oven for 40 minutes.

On medium heat, cook bacon until crisp.  Poor off bacon fat, but keep roughly 2 tbsp on reserve in the pan.  Throw in sliced mushrooms and saute plus 1/4 cup of water to remove and bacon goodness left on the bottom of the pan. 

While mushrooms are cooking, prepare kale by removing stalks and chopping leaves.  Bacon should be cooled by now, so go ahead and chop that up to.

Most of the liquid should be evaporated from the mushrooms.  Add kale and bacon to pan with mushrooms plus another 1/4 cup of water, thyme and saute until kale is tender.  Once done, set aside and wait for timer to finish on squash.

Remove squash from the oven and evenly fill cavities with bacon, mushroom and kale.  Place back in the oven for 15 minutes.

Squash is done when flesh is tender when poked with a fork.

I love how the sweetness of the roasted squash complements the saltiness of the bacon and the kale on top crisps up like kale chips.  I served this with some baked tilapia, but this would accompany well with chicken, beef, pork and lamb.  Delish!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Grass-fed Sirloin Tip Roast Beef

I've been on a real roast kick lately and who can blame me.  Roasts are a perfect winter food, filling the apartment with meaty scents and of course lots of leftovers for the week ahead.  This week I picked up a 4 lb grass fed sirloin tip roast from my favourite locavore hub.

Grass fed Sirloin Tip Roast Beef
If you've ever had grass-fed, you'll know it's much leaner in comparison to grain fed beef and garners a much "beefier" taste.  It also has a greater nutritive content far superior to feed lot beef:
  • higher levels of vitamins A, E and K
  • higher in beta-carotene
  • greater levels of antioxidants
  • higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)
  • higher amounts of omega-3 fats and a more favourable ratio of omega -6 to omega-3 acids
Although grass-fed can be a little pricier, it's definitely worth it, both in taste and nutritional value.  I'm not used to roasting a whole sirloin tip and usually use this cut for stewing beef and braising.  I found this amazing recipe from Paleo Joy and adapted it for my roast.

Preheat oven to 325 F

1 4 lb grass-fed sirloin tip roast
1 onion, cut in 6
6 cloves of garlic
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 fennel, sliced and chopped
1/3 cup red wine or broth
1 cup water
1 tbsp coconut oil

Herbs (you can use any blend of herbs you desire, these are just the ones I had on hand that day)


Ready to go in the oven!
Mix desired herbs together with coconut oil and massage over roast.  Place roast in a roasting pan with chopped vegetables, wine/broth, and water and place in the oven.

As this cut can dry out easily, it's recommended that you baste it every 20 minutes.  A bit of a daunting task, but well worth it in the end.  I also covered it with foil after the first hour to prevent the surface from over roasting.

This 4 lb roast took roughly an hour and forty minutes, but the general rule for roasting beef is 18 - 22 minutes per pound.  Roast will be done when it reaches an internal temperature of 130 degrees using a meat thermometer.  Because this cut is generally leaner, it's best served medium rare.

Beautiful medium rare!
This was a BIG roast and gave us leftovers for a week!  I would definitely buy this cut again.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Let Nothing Go To Waste!

Roast a whole chicken?  Don't throw out that carcass!  Barbecue some chicken legs or bone in breast?  Save those bones!  There is still some deliciousness to be squeezed out of them and if you just take the time, you can have a delicious homemade stock.

I make a new batch of chicken stock about twice per month.  Perfect to make on a lazy Sunday, stocks are great for additions to other recipes, for making soups or my favourite, warmed up with a little sea salt and enjoyed as a nourishing drink.

After the chicken is roasted and we've enjoyed our meal, I remove all of the meat from the carcass and refrigerate for weekly leftovers.  The carcass is placed in a large freezer bag and tossed into the freezer until I'm ready to make my stock.  This also goes for any other bone in roasts we make: turkey, duck, venison, beef, lamb, pork, etc.  Nothing goes to waste!

If you can get extra chicken backs, necks and feet from your butcher, these make a great addition and are full of gelatin. You can also make a stock using a fresh whole chicken, just be sure to remove any extra fat from the neck and glands and remember, free range chickens are best!

Homemade Chicken Stock

Time: 4 or more hours  (Lazy Sundays work best)


1 whole free-range chicken or fresh/frozen chicken carcass (extra backs, feet and necks if available)
1 large onion with skin on, halved
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
2-3 celery sticks, coarsely chopped
small handful of peppercorns
2 bay leaves

Place all ingredients in a large stock pot and fill with water (about an inch above the ingredients).  Bring to a boil.  You'll notice a white scum start to form and collect on the surface.  Remove with a spoon, discard and reduce the heat.  Simmer for a minimum of 4 hours.  The longer you simmer your stock, the richer and more flavourful it will be.  I usually simmer for roughly 6 hours.

After 4 or more hours, remove whole chicken or pieces with a slotted spoon.  If using a whole chicken, allow to cool, remove meat from the carcass (reserve for soups and other delicious recipes like yummy chicken salad).  Strain the stock into a large bowl.  If you want to remove the fat, you can place your bowl of stock into the fridge and allow the fat to rise and congeal.  Skim this off and discard.

ladle stock through cheesecloth
Lay cheese cloth in a wire mesh strainer and place over cleaned stock pot.  Ladle stock through the cloth/strainer.  Once strained, ladle stock into clean glass jars using a funnel.  If you are planning to freeze, make sure you leave plenty of room as the liquid will expand.  Failing to do this may cause the jar to crack and this is an unfortunate waste (that I am all too familiar with).  Fill the jar to just the curve in the glass.

Allow to cool on the counter and then place in the fridge overnight.  You can transfer jars to the freezer the next morning; this gives it plenty of time to cool.

Take out a few days before use or you can place in a pot of cold water and bring to a simmer to slowly warm the liquid.

Remember, save your bones!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Chicken: Dutch Oven Style

I've roasted a lot of chickens over the years (probably 1 or 2 per month).  They're simple, delicious and they provide leftovers for the week for salads and lettuce wraps or just cold chicken with a little sea salt.  I also always save the carcass, wrapping it up in the freezer and taking them out when I need to make more homemade stock.  Good stuff!  This time around, though, I thought I would try using the dutch oven method.

Preheat oven to 250 F


1 whole chicken (3-4 lbs)
1 tbsp ghee (coconut oil or rendered animal fat of your choice is fine)
4 cloves of garlic, whole
2 medium onions, loosely chopped
3 medium carrots, chopped
1 sweet potato, cubed
1 tsp dried thyme (fresh thyme if available)
1 tbsp dried rosemary (fresh rosemary if available)
2 good pinches of sea salt

Place dutch oven on stove top and heat ghee (or preferred fat) on medium heat.  Once well hot, place chicken breast side down into fat and sear for roughly 8 minutes.  Use this time to prepare you veggies and add them in as you go.  Once your 8 minutes is up, flip chicken and sear the back another 8 minutes.  Add salt and spices.

Once all veggies are in and searing is complete, cover with a tight fitting lid and place in the oven for 1.5 hours or until you reach an internal temperature of 180 F (legs should be loosened from the cavity and juices running clear).

Once done, remove the chicken and place on a plate/platter.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the veggies and place in a bowl.  You will have a lot of liquid and fat left in the dutch oven, but you don't want this to go to waste.  There is some goodness in there.

Grab a wire mesh strainer and pour liquid through into a bowl.  The fat will rise to the top.  You can do two things with this.  Either save it in a jar for near future use; the fat will solidify and the chicken juices will gel.  I often use this for sauteing veggies when I'm making soups.  Or you can skim the fat off (pouring through a gravy separator works best) and serve the juices with your chicken.  I decided on the former this time.

This method of cooking produces an INCREDIBLY MOIST chicken.  Very flavourful and the veggies were delicious.  I particularly love how soft the sweet potato gets.  So yummy!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Spiced Pork Shoulder

Pork shoulder
I love cooking roasts and stews; foods that are perfect for creating delicious random meals throughout the week.  The smell that permeates the apartment is warming and exciting and I can't wait to dig in when it's done.

Saturday I cooked a pork shoulder, a usual standby in our home.  I usually make it a couple of times per month and it's always delicious.  The spices I use vary from time to time and I never specifically measure them when I cook, part of the reason I find it so difficult to post recipes here.  Well, I decided to write it down this round.  Everything is measured exactly how I made it, so if you get a chance to make it, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Rub that spice on good!
Preheat oven to 250 F

1 3-4 lb bone-in pork shoulder
1 cup red wine or broth of your choice
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
3 carrots, chopped
5 baby turnips, halved

Ready to go in the oven!

Spice Rub

2 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne


Prepare spices and rub over entire pork shoulder and place in a dutch oven.  Slice garlic and loosely chop onions and toss them on top of the pork.  Add 1 cup of red wine or broth, seal the dutch oven with a lid and place in the oven for 2 hrs @ 250 F.

After 2 hours, remove from the oven and add your chopped carrots and halved baby turnips, put the lid back on and place in the oven for another hour.

Add chopped veggies 2 hrs into cooking
Cook until the roast reaches an internal temperature of 190 F or slightly more.  Pork will be super tender and super juicy and super delicious.

Slice pork and serve with stewed veggies.
Super Delicious!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Yummy Chicken Salad

Time flies!!  It doesn't seem that long ago that I posted the Beef Heart Stew recipe, but here we are in the new year already!  It's nice to post again, only if only for a brief moment.

School has been going really well and I'm hoping to have more spontaneous recipe posts like today's recipe in the near future.  I was in the middle of writing an essay on various "fad" diets and decided to take a break and peruse the paleo recipe site, Fastpaleo.  I can't wait to make this, and this and this!  The recipes got me thinking about my own hunger, so I threw this little chicken salad together:

Yummy Chicken Salad

Serves 2

1 cooked boneless skinless chicken breast (leftover chicken works best)
1 small carrot, grated
1 zucchini, grated
2 Tbsp of fresh dill, chopped
1 Tbsp of homemade mayo
1 wedge of lemon or lime
Lettuce of your choice

Chop the chicken into small cubes and set aside in a medium bowl.  Add grated carrot, zucchini, dill, homemade mayo and squeeze of citrus and stir.  Serve in lettuce boats or on top of a salad.  This would also make a nice side accompaniment at breakfast or enjoy on its own.