Apple Beef Roast

So last month I found these boneless beef ribs at Aldi for super cheap, and I stocked up and froze them because ribs are awesome and I love them. But, I didn’t know what to do with them besides slow cook them with BBQ sauce. The only problem is I can’t eat BBQ sauce any more! Ack, what to do? Thankfully I came across a recipe for boneless ribs cooked in the slow cooker with apples. A lot of tweaks later, I came up with the recipe below. The fiance ate it up in like 5 minutes so it’s definitely a hit.

Apple Beef Roast

Serves 4-6, depending on portions

Ingredients:

2 lbs beef stew meat, boneless ribs, or chuck roast

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 c soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos

1 c apple juice, unsweetened

4 shallots, roughly chopped

1 tbsp olive oil or butter

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

 

For the gravy:

¼ c cornstarch

1 c water

 

Brown meat on all sides in a skillet with the oil and garlic. Put everything in the skillet into the slow cooker, scraping the pan to get all the brown bits. Add all other ingredients (except gravy ingredients) to the slow cooker and stir to combine. Cook on low for 6 hours.

When the meat is done, remove from the slow cooker and place on a plate. Pour all the liquid in the slow cooker and 1 cup water into a medium pot. Mix the cornstarch with a bit of water to make a slurry and add to the cooking juices. Whisk on medium high heat until thickened to desired consistency. Pour over ribs and serve immediately.

Chef’s Tip: For extra apple flavor, peel and chop 2-3 medium apples and add to slow cooker with other ingredients.

Homemade Chicken Fried Rice

My bible study was doing a dinner club tonight, where we get together to eat and share the recipe for the meal. Of course, with the whole allergy diet thing, I knew finding something both easy to make and delicious for normal people would be a challenge, but I think I’ve made a winner with this homemade chicken fried rice. I love it because it’s so versatile; you can change the vegetables, the oil, the kind of rice, the meat, even the spices and it will still taste amazing.

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Chicken Fried Rice

Cook time: 30 minutes                   Serves: 2

Ingredients

1 chicken breast

1 c. chicken stock

½ c. uncooked rice

2 medium carrots

½ c onion, diced

1 serrano pepper, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 TBSP butter or ghee

2 TBSP soy sauce, or to taste

Directions

In a small pot, boil the chicken stock on high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to low, add rice, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.

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While the rice is cooking, peel your carrots and cut into thin slices and cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Add chicken pieces, carrot slices, onion, garlic, pepper, and half the butter and soy sauce to a large skillet. Sauté until chicken is cooked through and carrots are crisp-tender, about 10-15 minutes, depending on size of chicken pieces.

Once rice is cooked, add to skillet with remaining butter and soy sauce. Sauté for about 5 minutes to meld flavors. Taste some of the rice and add more soy sauce if necessary. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Chef’s Tips

To make this dish healthier, use brown rice and substitute coconut oil for the butter.

Rotisserie chicken, skin on, is a great time-saver for this dish and adds delicious flavor.

If serrano peppers are too spicy, use a pepper powder and season to taste.

For gluten free or yeast free diets, substitute Bragg’s Liquid Aminos for the soy sauce.

You can add any vegetables you want to this dish; it’s very versatile.

An Update, Plus Creamy Poblano Pork Recipe

So at the beginning of the year, I started seeing this new holistic wellness doctor at the advice of several of my friends. See, I have some medical issues that western medicine has been unable to solve for me. I finally got fed up with being told the only way to get healthy was to take pill after pill after pill and went to see someone who would try to solve the root of the problem, not just the symptoms. Enter the allergen elimination diet.

For the past few months I have had to avoid about 25 different foods, drinks, and spices while my body works to heal itself. Apparently I’ve been eating things that my body can’t properly process all my life, and I didn’t know it was affecting my health until I got a blood test saying so. Of course, not all those foods are really hurting me, but I don’t know what the real culprit is because when I eat it, my body mounts an immune response not only to that food, but the other foods I ate with it. So, what started as maybe one or two true food sensitivities ballooned into 25 over a lifetime. Yaaaaaaaay.

With about 25 things I can’t eat anymore, you would imagine my diet to be basically rice and chicken, right?  Nope! It’s amazing what you can do with a little creativity and variety. I’ve had my share of food flops, but once I got into the swing of things, I found I eat just as good, if not better, than when I started this whole thing. The secret is being willing to experiment with new foods and researching alternatives like there’s no tomorrow.

I wanted to share my favorite recipe I’ve come up with so far. Throwing the “cream” in at the end was totally on a whim, but I am so glad I did because I think it took this dish to a whole new level.

Creamy Poblano Pork

4 boneless pork chops
1 1/2 medium onion, diced
1 large poblano pepper, seeded and diced
1/4 cup cashew cream (or sour cream for the people who aren’t allergic to dairy)
Juice of 1 lime
3 tsp paprika
Olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a large skillet, saute pork chops in olive oil, 1 tsp paprika, and salt and pepper until done. Remove from pan.

Add onion, poblano, lime, and remaining paprika along with salt and pepper. Saute in olive oil until onion is translucent and poblano is crisp-tender. Add cream, stir, and cook for 1 minute until heated through. If too thick, add a little water to thin out to desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Spoon over pork and serve immediately.

Quinoa Breakfast Scramble

I made this up one morning and it has quickly become my go-to weekend breakfast meal. It’s so tasty and easy and healthy I can’t help making it all the time. It’s friend approved too, so you know it’ll be a hit.

Amounts and veggies can be adjusted for your preference. I think the versatility is the best part of this recipe.

Ingredients
4 eggs
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and fully cooked
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bell peppers, diced
Onion, diced (I used 1/4 bag of frozen)
Shredded cheese (for dairy free I recommend Daiya)
Olive oil, for sauteing
Salt and pepper, to taste
Red pepper, to taste

Directions
In a medium skillet with high sides, saute the onion, garlic, and bell pepper in olive oil on medium heat until desired tenderness.

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Add quinoa, egg, and spices and scramble until eggs are fully cooked.

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Add cheese and stir until melted. Serve immediately.

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Cheesy Beef Casserole

I made up something completely delicious, and I actually managed to A) remember what I did and B) take pictures. I got the inspiration from shepherd’s pie, but I didn’t have any mashed potatoes and didn’t want to go to the store…so I made something completely different. But sort of related? IDK. It’s delicious.

Ingredients:

1 lb ground beef
2 cups frozen mixed veggies
1 cup wild rice, cooked
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 small sprigs fresh rosemary
1 tsp Worsteshire sauce
1/2 tsp paprika
1-2 tsp KC Masterpiece Steak seasoning
1 1/2 cup beef broth
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 package Daiya mozzarella style shredded cheese
Fresh ground pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brown the ground beef in a skillet with tall sides with the onion, garlic, spices, and red wine until the meat is cooked and the red wine is reduced.

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Drain and combine in a large oven safe dish with the rice, broth, coconut milk, and mixed veggies. Sprinkle Daiya shredded cheese on top of the mixture.

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Bake for 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

The mixture will be runny, but this is normal. I always add more liquid to casseroles when I use rice because the rice absorbs water even after I put it in the fridge. You can substitute about 1/4 cup reserved grease/red wine from when you drained the meat for the broth/coconut milk mixture if you are not planning for leftovers.

I was pleasantly surprised by how well this turned out. I hope you will be too.

A Long-Awaited Post, and Pesto Pasta Primavera

Hello friends! Yes, I am aware that it has been well over a year since the last post. What can I say? Life happened. Since it’s been so long, here is a quick update for those of you I don’t talk to that often: 

  • I started volunteering with a local organization working primarily against domestic minor sex trafficking. It’s hard and emotional and I love every minute of it. Did you know the average age of entry into prostitution in the United States is 13? And that 2/3 of children are approached by a trafficker within 48 hours of getting on the street? And that the average lifespan is 7 years after entry into the trade? Yeah, it’s a big problem.
  • I’m going to India this summer to help with prevention of – you guessed it – trafficking by teaching marketable skills like the knowledge of English to at-risk girls. I am so excited to go do something I’m so passionate about in a region I’m completely in love with! The trip can’t come soon enough.
  • I’ve gone gluten free as part of the long battle to get and stay healthy.

I think that covers the bulk of what’s happened over the last several months. Now, on to tasty food! I made this recipe up last night for a girls night and it was so amazing that I had to share it with my friends. I’ve made it as healthy as possible by removing gluten and dairy and using lots of colorful veggies.

Pesto Pasta Primavera

  • 6-7 baby zucchini, sliced
  • 1/2 c shredded carrots
  • 1/2 c peas
  • 4 baby bell peppers, diced
  • 1/2 c onions, diced
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 7 oz. pesto
  • 2 c. dry white wine
  • 1 c Daiya vegan shredded mozzarella (if you don’t care about dairy, use parmesan)
  • 1 small sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 Tbsp Italian herb blend
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 medium pot full of brown rice pasta (about 2 1/2 – 3 c. uncooked)
  • 5 slices prosciutto (optional)

Saute bell peppers, onions carrots, peas, garlic, and spices in olive oil until the onions are translucent, or until all veggies are cooked to desired tenderness. At this point, you should start cooking the pasta in another pot unless it’s already done, reserving the water to use if necessary. Add white wine and prosciutto, if using, to the sauteing veggies and simmer until the wine is reduced by about half. Stir in the pesto and cheese just until the cheese is melted, then remove from heat. Add cooked pasta and toss to coat evenly. If the sauce is too thin, stir in the pasta water a little at a time until the sauce thickens. If the sauce is too thick, add white wine until the pasta reaches the desired thinness. Serve immediately.

 

Favorite Ways to Cook Various Veggies

I’m a big fan of veggies (so long as they’re cooked), so I try to include at least one side of veggies every meal. It doesn’t always happen, especially when I am feeling sick or need a quick meal, but I eat them as often as I can.
Since I don’t enjoy leafy greens unless they’re mixed in with something, I usually end up eating a root veggie or green beans and squash and such. So I don’t get bored, I’ve come up with some interesting ways to cook my veggies over the years. I thought I would share some of my favorite versions of my favorite veggies so ya’ll can maybe try something new. They’re all easy and have quick prep times, but some require long roasting times. If you’re short on time, boiling is much faster but you lose a lot of the nutrients to the water.

As a reminder, I cook using the tried and true method my grandmother taught me as I watched her in the kitchen as a child: the ever-so-precise eyeball method. So a lot of what I write below is in pinches and spoonfuls and the like. Cooking like this just takes a little practice. If you’re not used to it, just put in a little less than what you think you need, taste, and adjust to your preference. Also, when cooking with olive oil, less is more. You don’t want to end up with oily veggies, so only use enough to barely coat the veggies/bottom of the skillet.

Sautéed Zucchini

Cut the ends off 3 zucchini and quarter lengthwise. Then, cut into chunks. Sauté the zucchini chunks with olive oil, garlic (about a spoonful of minced garlic, or one clove), a three-finger pinch of red pepper flakes,* salt, and pepper until they reach your desired tenderness. Serve immediately.

*I use coarse ground red pepper flakes from an Asian market. Cayenne would work too, I think, but you would need to use less.

Honeyed Carrots

Boil carrots until they reach your desired tenderness. Drain and return to pan, but don’t return the pan to the stove. Drizzle honey and ground nutmeg over cooked carrots and stir. Remember that the heated honey will be runny, so add less than you think you will need to coat the carrots. Serve immediately.

Herb Roasted Carrots

Preheat oven to 350. Toss baby carrots with olive oil, equal parts ground sage and thyme, dried rosemary, salt and pepper. Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until carrots reach desired tenderness.

Roasted Parsnips

Preheat oven to 350. Peel and chop some parsnips. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake 30-45 minutes, until parsnips reach desired tenderness. After removing from the roasting pan, drizzle with honey if desired. Serve immediately.

Roasted Green Beans

Preheat oven to 350. Toss green beans with olive oil and Bragg’s Organic Sprinkle or sage, rosemary, and thyme. Bake 20-30 minutes, until green beans reach desired tenderness. Serve immediately.

Roasted Butternut Squash

Preheat oven to 350. Peel and chop a butternut squash and toss with olive oil, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Bake for 20-30 minutes until squash reaches desired tenderness. Serve immediately.

Corn and Jicama Slaw

Cut about 1/3 medium jicama into small slivers and set aside. Dice 1 medium onion and boil with corn until both are done with salt, pepper, paprika, parsley, and cayenne to taste. Remove from heat and add raw jicama. Serve immediately.

Sweet Potato Hash

Dice sweet potatoes into small chunks that are a bit bigger than your thumbnail (say, about 3/4″). Add to a pot with diced onions, olive oil, rosemary, salt, and pepper and cook on medium heat until potatoes reach desired tenderness. This should not take long, maybe about 7-10 minutes if your potato chunks are small enough.

Roasted Cauliflower

Preheat oven to 350. Chop 1 head of cauliflower into florets. Alternatively, you can use 1 bag of frozen cauliflower florets. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread onto a baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes or until cauliflower starts to brown.