Safety tips (for proteins)

Be safe, but waste not! If you have protein that’s been sitting in your refrigerator a few too many days, use these quick tips* to make sure it’s safe to eat.  
  • To remove bad smells: Wash in a salt-water bath (or rub with salt and rinse) just before use.
  • To remove small amounts of slime or film: Wash in a salt-water bath (or rub with salt and rinse) just before use.

*Consider throwing out the item if a salt-water bath does not eliminate the smell or remove the slime.

  • Greenish tinted fat: Trim off beef or pork; as long as it’s just a few areas on the fat, the meat will be fine.
  • Black or green meat: If there are many spots or large portions that have turned colors, throw it away. In cases like these, trimming the bad parts and washing in salt water probably won’t be enough to protect you and your family from possible illness.

NOTE: If the meat tastes funy after using any one or more of these tips and after cooking, stop eating it and throw it out immediately. Don’t make yourself sick just to save a few pennies. It’s not worth it.


These are just a few tips brought to you by me, via my dad (a “butcher by trade”). What tips do you have for safely preparing and consuming meat? We’d love to hear from you!

Paleo-friendly Carrot Pulp Bread – Attempt 2

In case you haven’t read Attempt 1, the long story short is that it came out overly moist (yes, it’s possible, just go read that post); perhaps the better description is oily. Either way, I adjusted a few things and tried again this past weekend…

Unfortunately, this time, the bread came out too dry and crumbly. I probably should have only adjusted one or two things, not five at once. Ah well, lesson learned. Here is what I did this time. One of these days, I will get this right…

Ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, plus a little extra with which grease the pan
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 cups carrot pulp
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon corse Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Whisk the oil, eggs, and maple syrup together in a large bowl.
  3. Then mix in the carrot pulp into the other wet ingredients.
  4. Mix in a separate medium bowl the flaxseed meal, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
  5. Mix the dry ingredients into the large bowl of wet ingredients.
  6. Grease the bread pan with extra virgin olive oil (I used a pastry brush to do this).
  7. Place the bread batter into the pan and place into the oven.
  8. Bake for 40 minutes.
It is edible, but I can’t say it’s enjoyable. The bottom half of the loaf seems almost the right texture, but the top half is all crumbs; and the whole thing falls apart at the slightest touch. 
Maybe third time will be the charm? I can only hope…. 🙂

P.S. Sorry there are not pictures with this post. I had taken a few, but my iPhone needed to be reset recently and I ended up loosing the few pics I took for this recipe.

Paleo-friendly Carrot Pulp Bread – 1st Attempt

Disclaimer: This recipe didn’t really fail, but it wasn’t that good. This is labeled “1st Attempt” for a reason. I will revisit this recipe soon and try to fix it. Try it if you like, but read through this whole post and please tweak the recipe (as I suggest at the bottom or in your own way). And if you find a more successful way of doing this, please let me know!

Brent and I make two cups (one cup for each of us) of fresh carrot juice nearly every morning using our juicer, a pile of peeled carrots and 1 lemon. One of these days I might actually measure it out and post it, but today I want to talk about the pulp, not the juice.

Pulp from juicing… what do you do with it? This question first crossed my mind months ago, when we bought our juicer and made our first batch of juice. It pained me to just toss all that pulp in the trash. Brent soon after started a compost pile. Ok, that helped for a little while, but the compost container filled up quickly. So, we Googled it. I found breads, muffins, and other fun recipes. The only problem was that they were not Paleo-friendly.

Then last week, I was bubbling around online, scanning Paleo blogs and sites looking for inspiration, and I saw something that made me drool on Paleomg.com: Banana Bread French Toast. WOW, it looks amazing. I haven’t tried it yet, but it gave me an idea. Why not use this Paleo-friendly banana bread recipe as a template for a carrot pulp bread? I searched online also for a basic carrot pulp bread recipe, and last night I did my best to blend the two to make a paleo-friendly carrot pulp bread.

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus a little extra to grease the pan
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of maple syrup
  • 1 and 1/2 cup carrot pulp
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon coarse Kosher salt (sea salt would probably be better, but I don’t have that in the pantry)
Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Whisk the oil, eggs, and maple syrup together in a large bowl.
  3. Then mix in the carrot pulp into the other wet ingredients.
  4. Mix in a separate medium bowl the flaxseed meal, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
  5. Mix the dry ingredients into the large bowl of wet ingredients. 
  6. Grease the bread pan with extra virgin olive oil (I used a pastry brush to do this).
  7. Pour the bread batter into the pan and place into the oven.
  8. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes.
As I mentioned in the disclaimer at the top, this wasn’t a total flop, but it wasn’t all that good. I started with cooking it just for 30 minutes. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough, so I kept cooking it in 10 minute increments. Finally, at 60 minutes I realized that my bread wasn’t undercooked, it was simply insanely moist. All that oil… yea, it was too much.
So, how will I try to fix this recipe in the near future? Here are a few of my ideas (a special thanks to my friend who tasted the bread today at work and helped me brainstorm ideas for fixing it):
  • use a LOT LESS olive oil
  • add a little almond or coconut flour (flaxseed has a lot of natural oils so the flaxseed meal was naturally a little oily to begin with, so adding a dryer flour or meal would help balance out things)
  • add a little more vanilla extract
  • add a little nutmeg
  • add some walnuts and/or raisins for texture and interest
I’ll post an improved recipe as soon as I perfect this. In the meantime, if any of your wonderful readers out there have ideas for fixing it or want to play around with the recipe yourselves and come up with some great ideas, share please! 

Curried Ground Pork with Carrots and Celery

Last weekend Brent and I bought a couple cookbooks on sale at the local Barnes & Noble, and one of them was called The Curry Bible. Brent and I love food. Yes, we eat Paleo more and more frequently; but we love food, all kinds of it. Curry is one of my favorite things to eat out. All this Paleo business has kept us from going out to eat. Now, that’s awesome because we’re saving big money not eating out. But it’s a little less awesome because we’re not going out to eat for some of our favorite things (like curry!).

So, this weekend, despite being insanely busy (and not with the usual stuff like cleaning house and grocery shopping and cooking multiple big meals to have all week), I made sure to make some time for experimentation.
My one and only curry recipe that I make at home is a peanut-butter curry chicken. OMG I love that stuff. YUM. It is near and dear to my heart, but alas, peanuts are a legume and thus off-limits all through the Whole30 Challenge (oh wait, that’s right, it’s over! woah…) and generally not acceptable even when we’re doing a 80/20 approach to Paleo. You know–80% Paleo, 20% whatever-we-want.
I guess Brent and I are pretty much sticking to Paleo (at least 80/20) from now on, with the occasional cheat day. This isn’t an official decision, just something that seems to be happening. So, still in this 100% Paleo mindset and knowing that we had approximately 1 pound of ground pork desperately in need of being used hanging out in the fridge, I decided to try creating my own curried ground pork recipe. We also had plenty of onion and garlic (typical), lots spices in the cabinet (also typical), and a few select veggies in the fridge (carrots and celery, also in desperate need of being used soon). 
I started by looking through a few recipes in The Curry Bible. Then, I rummaged through our pantry and sniffed (yes, literally sniffed) a variety of different spices next to the curry powder.  This may sound a bit silly, but I find it very effective: I hold the curry powder in one hand near my nose, and then in the other hand hold one or two other spices at a time; I then sniff all three more or less at the same time, somewhat waving them in front of my nose so I can get all the scents as close to simultaneously as possible. In this case, I feel pretty confident it worked out. 
And so, without further adieu, here is my new Curried Ground Pork with Carrots and Celery recipe…
~~~
Ingredients (roughly, in order of when you need them):
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons ghee
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (approx. 1 and 1/4 to 1 and 1/2 cup)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced or pressed)
  • 6-8 thin carrots, cut into 1-inch sticks (approx. 1 to 1 and 1/2 cups) 
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated with a microplane or grater (or simply minced)
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 and 1/2 cup coconut milk 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon garam marsala
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 3-4 celery stalks, chopped (approx. 1 to 1 and 1/2 cups)
*Note: This picture of all the ingredients includes one I didn’t list above: red pepper flakes. Originally, I planned to sprinkler a few in to give the curry extra kick. But as I cooked it, I realized that there was plenty of delicious flavor coming from the curry powder and other spices. So I didn’t use the red pepper flakes. If you do use them or some other heat/kick-adding ingredient, let me know how it goes!
Method:
1. Heat ghee over medium-high in a large, high-walled pan.
2. Saute onion, garlic and carrots in the ghee for about 2 minutes.
3. Add the ginger and ground pork. Sautee everything together, breaking up the ground pork with your spatula until the ground pork is nearly cooked through (most of it should not be pink, but it’s ok if a little is). 
I admit, I forgot to time step 3. I *think* it took about 6-8 minutes for the pork to become mostly cooked through, but please don’t quote me on that. Make sure you pay close attention and keep breaking it up and moving things around.
5. Add coconut milk and spices. Stir well to blend it all together.
6. Add the celery.
7. Bring the whole mixture back to a low bubble and then turn the heat down to medium-low.
8. Let it simmer on medium-low for 20 minutes. This will allow some of the liquid to reduce while all the yummy flavors congeal.
9. Serve in bowls and enjoy! OR let it cool, store in a sealed container in the refrigerator over night to let the flavors mingle even longer before eating it. 🙂
~~~
I taste-tested this throughout the cooking process to make sure I was adding just the right amount of curry and other spices, as well as to make sure it came out delicious overall. 
I think it’s awesome! And Brent did say it smelled amazing. 🙂 But Brent and I actually haven’t eaten it yet (even though I made it last night, just before we went out to dinner with friends who were visiting DC this weekend and wanted to see us). 
Why? Well, I planned for us to have it for dinner tonight. But, around 1 p.m. today, we got an invite to go to another friend’s cook-out this evening. So we had yummy grilled pork/onion/bell pepper skewers with veggies and other yummy sides. Tomorrow, we will “officially” get to taste this curry ground pork and I will be able to add a little note about how good (or bad–hopefully, not!) this recipe actually is.
If you try it, please let me know what you think! Feedback is key to perfecting recipes. 🙂

Pesto- and Avocado-Stuffed Chicken

This post is well over due… oops! Last week, we had two small chickens (they were on sale at the store, packaged together, so we couldn’t resist even though they were not on our shopping list) and we needed to find someway to make use of them or else butcher them further to freeze the parts. Freezing a whole chicken is something I’ve never attempted, nor do I ever want to; and cutting it up to freeze it in pieces just seemed like so much work. :p

So, instead, we nixed a one or two other planned meals and made the chickens. Tuesday night, after dinner, I set to making homemade pesto for our first roast chicken. Brent or I (honestly, I don’t remember who’s idea it was) thought stuffing the chicken with pesto would be more interesting that the standard lemon and garlic roast chicken. In addition, to try adding texture and substance, we agreed we’d crisp up some of the shredded white sweet potato (seriously, we had a lot of this stuff–it’s gone into a ton of recipes lately!) and add that plus some avocado to the chicken cavity.


Ok, so here we go with official ingredients and process…

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 package of basil (about 3 to 4 cups)
  • 1 whole chicken (ours was about 2 and 1/2 pounds)
  • 1/2 an avocado
  • 1/4 cup of shredded white sweet potato
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil (or enough olive oil to brush over the entire chicken)
Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Blend the olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, basil and a pinch of salt in a food processor or blender. Ta da! You now have a very basic, homemade pesto. 🙂
3. Spread out the shredded white sweet potato on a baking sheet. Bake in the over for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until at least some are crispy.
Meanwhile, prepare the chicken: remove any gizzards and other internal business, rinse it under cold water, and pat dry with a paper towel. Place on the rack in your roasting pan.
4. Brush the entire chicken (top, bottom and sides, but not the inside) with olive oil.
5. Chop the half of avocado.
6. Gently mix the avocado, shredded sweet potato and pesto together in a medium bowl.
7. Using a big spoon, ladle or your hands to scoop the pesto mixture into the cavity of the chicken.
8. Sprinkle the chicken with a little salt and pepper–as much as you like. Also, tie the legs closed with cooking twine.
9. Roast in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes per pound, until a meat thermometer reads 175 degrees when inserted into the breast of the chicken.
We like to roast our chickens closer to 20 minutes per pound because you can always cook more if it comes out under done; you can’t undo overcooking.
Our chicken came out incredibly moist, and the skin was just a little crispy. If you like really crispy skin, crank up the heat at the beginning or the end for about 10 to 20 minutes.
When serving, make sure you scoop out some of the sweet and savory pesto mixture from inside the chicken. I’ll admit, I was a bit leery of the combination of avocado, sweet potato, and pesto; but it was really tasty! Some sweet, some salt, some savory, a little crisp from the skin and a good portion of creamy goodness from the stuffing over the slices of moist chicken breast… delicious!
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