A new take on an old favorite: Lasagna

White Sweet Potato & Ground Beef Lasagna

Last week, Brent and I tried two recipes that tingled our tastebuds and left us eager to experiment.

First, Health-Bent’s Paleo Butternut Squash Lasagna. We used our homemade sausage and it was OMG delicious. And it was beautiful too. 🙂 We  gobbled it up in just a few meals, and it left us craving more. Thank you Health-Bent.com!!!

Second, we tried to follow a new spaghetti recipe, one that broke the typical Paleo mold of using spaghetti squash. Enter, PaSketti: Sweet Potato Spaghetti. Brent recently found the Paleo Parents’ website and I’ve been a little obsessed lately. 🙂 They are an inspiration. Seriously, a family with three growing boys successfully living a Paleo lifestyle?! I had wondered if it were possible, and it seems it is. I think I might actually be coming over the side of full-time Paleo for the rest of my life… maybe… almost. Brent is probably there; but I’m not totally sold on giving up cake forever just yet.

Anyways, back to the PaSketti: The white shredded sweet potato–the Giant was oddly out of regular sweet potatoes–looked a lot more like Spaetzle and got me really craving a good, ol’ fashioned Schnitzel with Spaetzle (yep, my family is German). So sometime this week or next, I might toy around with that idea.

Meanwhile, I made my own tomato sauce for the PaSketti, but I misjudged how much I needed and ultimately the entire dish turned out to be more like a brown-greyish mush. BUT IT WAS DELICIOUS. I mean, wow!  Salty, savory, beefy… and there was a slight gravy-like quality to it. Brent and I couldn’t get enough, and it was gone way faster than we expected… portion control? Sometimes we’re not so good at that, haha.

Fast forward to this past Saturday when we were making our weekly grocery list. The amazing flavors of the Health-Bent lasagna and Paleo Parents PaSketti still lingering in our memories. Brent had an idea: why not add shredded sweet potato to the lasagna? Then, we thought, why not just use the sweet potato instead of the butternut squash? Also, we were all out of our homemade sausage; but, lasagna often uses ground beef. We had plenty of that in the freezer. So, out it came.

Sunday, after completing our shopping on Saturday and having defrosted the ground beef (and some other things I’ll mention in another post) overnight, we dove into cooking.

To make the lasagna, we started with shredding the sweet potato with our crazy food processor. 
I also roasted a lot of tomatoes (12 to be exact–I had to do it in two batches) at 400 degrees F for 25 minutes.
Borrowing from the PaSketti recipe, we sautéed our 2 pounds of ground beef with 1 medium onion, 3 celery stalks and four or five cloves of garlic. (Note: Looking back, we wish we’d added more; perhaps a little kick from red pepper flakes, extra garlic and onion, or even just some salt and pepper to this mix.)

After the tomatoes were roasted, I simmered them on medium-low to cook them down a little further. Brent added a healthy dose of “pizza seasoning” (a mix of oregano, garlic, crushed red pepper, etc.).

Meanwhile, we preheated the oven to 400 degrees F.

Once all the parts were ready, we began the layering process. Sauce, ground beef mix, shredded white sweet potato, repeat.

We finished it off with sauce on top. (We actually used all the ground beef mix and most of the sauce, but because we shredded three large sweet potatoes, we still have a lot of that left over.) We covered it with the corning wear’s glass top and placed it in the oven for 35 minutes.

Our first plates didn’t look to pretty, so I took a picture of the dish instead with our first pieces cut out. It’s not the most stable of layered lasagnas; and, again, it could have used some more spices. We like our food to bite back a little 😉 But for an experiment, I think it turned out rather well.

And if my word isn’t good enough for you, just know that we have plowed through almost this entire corning wear dish in less than 24 hours. There’s honestly only one large piece (or two small pieces… ha, right) left of this goodness.

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Spicy Sausage and Bell Pepper Egg Muffins

What can you do with a bunch of leftover homemade spicy sausage? Well, lots of things actually… and we’re still experimenting (more to come soon!). But the first thing that came to my mind was egg muffins…

I usually make 12-18 egg muffins at a time. Here are the ingredients for this batch:

10 – 12 large eggs
1/2 – 1 bell pepper, diced (I used red this time, but feel free to use green or yellow or any combination thereof that you like)
1/2 small yellow onion, diced (or two to three shallots–they’ll give out slightly different flavors, so choose whichever you like best)
1/2 – 1 cup of homemade spicy sausage
a pinch of salt
a dash of pepper
2 – 3 Tablespoons of olive oil (or enough to coat the muffin tin)
Oven pre-heated to 350 F

First, I fully cooked the sausage in a pan on the stove. Then, I mixed the cooked sausage and all the other ingredients in a large bowl. Next, I brushed each cup of the muffin tin (sides and bottom) with olive oil. Then, I used a ladle to fill the muffin tin with the egg mixture (I like to fill each cup in the tin 1/2- to 3/4-full). I baked them for approximately 20 minutes.


Disclaimer: The egg muffins may shrink down a little bit once you remove them from the heat of the over. Don’t worry; this is normal. 😉

Shredded Buffalo Chicken

One thing I’ve been missing for a long time is buffalo.  Wings, tenders, salads, and any combination thereof.  All of that came to a screeching halt when I had to cut out added sugar and breaded foods.

While I mourned, I also searched.  Luckily I found two different sauces that fit the bill:

  • Louisiana’s Pure Crystal Hot Sauce
  • Tobasco Buffalo Style Hot Sauce
The main difference between the two is that the Tobasco has garlic in it.  I decided to go with that one, but I also bought the Crystal, so experiments will come with that later.  
Here’s what I needed:
  • 8 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 3 pressed garlic cloves
  • 3 tbsp Tobasco Buffalo Hot Sauce
First you want to preheat your oven to 425ºF, and place your chicken thighs on a bake pan; I used a roasting pan.
Then I roasted the thighs for 30 minutes.  About 15 minutes in, I added a the ghee and a tbsp of the hot sauce, along with the garlic cloves into my slow cooker on the lowest setting.
After letting the chicken sit a bit, I pulled the skins off and started shredding the thighs in a large bowl.  This takes some patience, but the chicken is so juicy.
Finally I add the chicken to the mixture in the slow cooker, and add an additional 2 tbsp on top of the chicken.
Mix thoroughly and let cook on low (this slow cooker goes from 1 to 5, and I kept it on 1) for 45 minutes, and then it’s good to go.
Next time I will roast the garlic first, as it is a little sharp, but still tasty.  I can’t wait to use this over salads, or in a romaine leaf with some slices of avocado on top.  The possibilities are endless, and I get to have my buffalo back!

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Homemade Spicy Sausage

We’ve seen a lot of great recipes lately calling for sweet or spicy sausage, and unfortunately, we couldn’t find any without sugar or preservatives, so we decided to take it on ourselves.  We’ve almost run out of it so far, but there have been several great applications–those recipes will come later in the week.

Here’s what went into the sausage:

  • 2 lb pork (we used the stew meat pork cut from the super market)
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill
  • 1 1/2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp coconut vinegar
  • 1 roasted jalapeño pepper, diced
Using our ninja, we pulsed the pork with the ingredients until it was well mixed.  After grinding it, we then let it sit for two hours before cooking with it so that the flavors all melded and settled.  This has unbelievable potential, and we hope you add it to your next meal.

Sweet Potato and Egg Hash

Word to the wise: this is a great way to use leftover ingredients.

I’ve been making eggs every morning for the past week. They’ve been quite yummy–onion, red and green bell pepper, a little salt and pepper–but I wanted something different this morning.

Meanwhile, Brent wanted two plain eggs (scrambled, his favorite) and there were only three eggs left in our refrigerator. So I made Brent his eggs, and then looked around for something to add to my single egg that would give it substance.

What can I say? I’m a hearty breakfast on the weekends kind of girl. 😉

I grabbed a sweet potato, some leftover bell peppers and onion, the egg and some olive oil.

Don’t worry, I didn’t try to use that entire sweet potato. Here are the actual measurements of those ingredients I ended up using:

2/3 cup sweet potato diced
1/2 cup red bell pepper diced
1/2 cup green bell pepper diced
1/4 cup onion diced
1 egg
1/2 tablespoon olive oil

Step 1: Heat the olive oil over medium-high, then toss in sweet potato and onion. Sauté until the sweet potatoes are just a little soft (about 3-5 minutes, I think; I actually walked away to put on laundry and then tasted one little piece of sweet potato).

Step 2: Mix in the bell peppers. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. This will get them tender, but not too soft. I like my bell peppers with just the slightest crunch to them.

Doesn’t that look beautiful?! 🙂

Step 3: Take half of the hash mix out of the pan, pour in the egg (previously beaten in a bowl), mix it around, and then toss the other half of the hash mix back into the pan.

Step 4: Keep mixing everything with a fork (or flipped spatula) until the egg is fully cooked.

Step 5: Enjoy!

This turned out to be quite delicious. Hearty, but not heavy, and the balance of ingredients was perfect. Of course, there was too much for me to eat on my own. So after eating about half, Brent ate the rest for me. He was pleasantly surprised by it. 🙂

P.S. If you want, throw in some spices! Next time, I will. I bet a little salt, paprika and cinnamon would be pretty awesome.

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