Harvest Casserole (AIP Friendly)

Harvest Casserole

I love the warm colors, and flavors, of fall. I’m always excited when I start to see a variety of winter squashes and crisp apples appear in the stores. Winter squashes are a great, safe starch- they are affordable, and there are an amazing array of tastes, textures, and colors available.

My Harvest Casserole has been a favorite in our family for years, and somehow I have never blogged about it! This is a great meal to make ahead, and just pop in the oven before dinner, so it is great for a busy family. It is also a wonderful meal to share with others, when a friend has a new baby or an illness in the house. It freezes well, too. It is a comforting mixture of butternut squash, crisp apples, raisin, and ground beef, a bit savory and a bit sweet- and just perfect for a chilly evening. Harvest Casserole is also a great food for a baby who is just starting to experience combined tastes and textures. It was my son’s favorite food when he was 10 months old. (Of course, now he won’t touch it because it is all mushed together- more for me!) I love eating the leftovers for breakfast, too.

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Lemon-Basil Grilled Chicken Thighs (Paleo, AIP)

Lemon-Basil Grilled Chicken ThighsA few months ago I was waiting (forever!) to get some blood work done and Rachael Ray was on the TV. My ears perked up when I heard her talking about grilled lemons, and I started imagining what I could do with that amazingly mouthwatering idea. A little thought, and a look at my garden and the basil growing like crazy, and an amazing new recipe was born. The best part, is that it is so simple and easy, but the flavors will amaze you. I have shared this meal with friends several times, and they have been delighted with the results.

When you grill the lemons and the natural sugars caramelize, you have the most amazing combination of sour, sweet and smoky. Pair that with fresh basil and a whole lot of garlic, and it really is an almost sinful meal to enjoy and share. I chose to use chicken thighs, because they are so inexpensive and forgiving when you grill, but you could use chicken breasts as well.  And just for fun. try grilling up a few extra lemons (on foil so they don’t get greasy) and try making a Lemon Vinaigrette or some Grilled Lemonade, sweetened with a bit of stevia or honey.

Grilled Lemons

You can marinate the chicken ahead of time, so it is especially great for entertaining, because you just have to grill and serve, leaving plenty of time for chatting and sharing life together.

 Grilling

Lemon-Basil Grilled Chicken Thighs
Serves 6
Tangy-sweet grilled lemons, fresh basil and garlic are a delicious combination when paired with grilled chicken thighs. You can marinate the chicken several hours, or even a day ahead of time, for a quick and tasty summer meal.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  2. 1/2 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  3. 6-8 cloves garlic, crushed (or more, if you LOVE garlic like I do!)
  4. 1/3 C extra virgin olive oil
  5. Salt and pepper, to taste
  6. 2 lemons, cut in half
Instructions
  1. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper to taste. Place thighs in a gallon ziptop bag or shallow baking dish.
  2. Combine the basil, garlic and olive oil and pour over the chicken thighs, mixing well to evenly coat the chicken.
  3. Marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours, and up to a day in advance. Remove the chicken from the fridge about 20 minutes before grilling.
  4. Preheat the grill to medium-high.
  5. Grill the chicken thighs until done, turning halfway through cooking time. (About 20 minutes total.)
  6. While you are grilling the chicken, place the lemons cut side down on the grill and cook for about 6 minutes, until the sugar starts to caramelize and the juices begin to run. Remove to a plate to cool.
  7. When the chicken thighs are done, generously squeeze the grilled lemon juice over them and serve.
Created To Be Paleo http://CreatedToBePaleo.com/

 

 

Flounder Stuffed with Kale

 Flounder Stuffed with Kale

Because of my daughter, Aurora’s allergy, we don’t have fish as often as I like, but when I found some wild-caught flounder filets at a great price,  I decided to give it a try. This is a quick and simple meal to prepare, but with the rich green of the kale, deep red of the dried cranberries, and the sprinkling of bacon on top it is a visually stunning meal to present to your family or guests. The first time I served this, my husband told me that he felt like he should have dressed up for dinner. And the same husband who doesn’t usually eat kale will gladly accepts seconds of this. We have had it many times since, and it has become a family favorite.

Feel free to experiment with different varieties of fish. We also really enjoy it with Swai, which is a lot more cost effective.

Swai stuffed with Kale

 

Flounder Stuffed with Kale
Serves 4
A beautiful, rich meal that is deceptively easy to prepare.
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Total Time
30 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 lbs wild-caught flounder filets
  2. 12 oz package bacon, cut into small pieces
  3. 1 large bunch kale, stems removed and torn into bite sized pieces (you may want more kale, depends on how much you like it!)
  4. 1/4 C dried cranberries
  5. 1/8 C sliced almonds
  6. 1-2 Tbsp lemon juice
  7. Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Prepare the flounder filets by patting dry, sprinkling with salt and pepper to taste, and placing into a foil lined pan. If desired, drizzle lightly with olive oil. Bake 10-15 minutes until golden brown and fish gently flakes when pricked with a fork.
  3. In a large skillet, cook the bacon pieces until crispy and brown. Remove the bacon to a paper-towel lined plate to cool and crisp. Reserve the bacon grease.
  4. Add the kale, cranberries, and almonds to the bacon grease in the hot skillet. Toss gently with lemon juice, and continue to cook until the kale is a bright green.
  5. On each plate, scoop a generous serving of the kale mixture. Add a flounder filet on top, and sprinkle generously with the bacon pieces.
Notes
  1. Pairs nicely with steamed vegetables and baked sweet potatoes.
Created To Be Paleo http://CreatedToBePaleo.com/

Sweet Plantain Bread with Cinnamon and Raisins

Sweet Plantain Bread with Cinnamon and Raisins

We love our plantains, whether green or ripe, and we have eaten them in pretty much every way possible. A while ago I had some ripe plantains growing ever riper and sweeter by the moment, so I thought it would be time to experiment, and we are so glad we did! I have gotten rave reviews from everyone I have shared a taste of this simple, sweet quick bread with. Even Jonathan, who as much as he loves plantains has consistently balked at any plantain baked goods gobbled it up. I love that there is no added sweetener- it is only the sweet, ripe plantains and the raisins that make this delicious, moist quick bread a sweet treat. Someone who tasted it exclaimed “It tastes like Christmas!” and for me it is a reminder of some of my favorite quick breads from my childhood.

Sweet Plantain Bread with Cinnamon and Raisins- loaf

This recipe calls for plantain flour, which I make myself by dehydrating plantains and then grinding them to a very fine flour in the blender. But you can purchase it here (although it is pretty pricey!) You could also try experimenting with some other Paleo-friendly flours, like coconut.

For a delicious variation that is just right for a birthday celebration, try substituting chocolate chips for the raisins. A definite crowd pleaser!

Sweet Plantain cake with Chocolate chips

 

Sweet Plantain Bread with Cinnamon and Raisins
Serves 12
A simple, slightly sweet quick bread that is sure to please even the pickiest eater.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 extra large ripe plantains (yellow, with some black spots) - approx. 16-20 oz.
  2. 1/2 C plantain flour
  3. 3 Tbsp oil of choice (i.e. coconut, olive, lard)
  4. 1 Tbsp vanilla
  5. 1 tsp baking soda
  6. 1 heaping tsp cinnamon
  7. 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  8. scant 1/2 tsp sea salt
  9. 1/2 C raisins, opt. (more or less to taste)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Prepare a loaf pan by lightly greasing bottom and sides with oil.
  2. Peel the plantains and cut into chunks. Puree in a blender or food processor until smooth.
  3. Add oil and vanilla, blending until well combined. Add remaining ingredients, except for raisins, and blend until well combined. Gently stir in raisins.
  4. Pour into prepared baking pan and smooth out the top.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 min until top is firm and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
  6. Immediately turn out onto a cooling rack, and allow to cool 10 minutes before slicing and enjoying.
Notes
  1. For a delicious variation, try adding chocolate chips instead of raisins! Sooo good.
  2. I have toyed around with the idea of making little tea sandwiches, perhaps with a cashew cheese filling.
Created To Be Paleo http://CreatedToBePaleo.com/

Chebe Bread Hack

Chebe hack

I’m not sure that most people in the mainstream Paleo community would even consider

Chebe Bread Hack (Gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, egg-free)
Serves 8
A great flat bread option to enjoy with soup or a delicious curry. Or try it as a pizza crust or wrapped around a yummy hot dog for pigs in a blanket.
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
12 min
Total Time
22 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
12 min
Total Time
22 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 box Chebe All-Purpose Mix
  2. 1/3 C carrot puree
  3. 2 Tbsp oil (I usually use olive oil)
  4. 2 Tbsp chia seed meal
  5. Water (approx 1/3-1/2 C)
  6. Additional oil to bush on top
  7. Opt: salt, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, or any other spices you would like to spread on top
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400. Prepare 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Add the Chebe mix to a mixing bowl. (Be careful, it is a very fine powder and will go everywhere!) Then add the carrot puree, oil, and water. Mix until well-combined. It will look a bit crumbly.
  3. While the mixer is running, slowly add water until dough begins to form into a ball. (If you've ever made regular bread you will know exactly what I mean.) It usually takes just over 1/3 C water for me to get the right consistency.
  4. Knead dough (with the mixer or by hand) until you have a smooth, elastic dough.
  5. Divide the dough into equal sized balls. I usually do 6-8 when making flat bread, or 4 when making pizza crust.
  6. Roll the dough balls out between two pieces of parchment paper, until about 1/8 inch thick. (You don't want to make it too thick or the resulting bread will be gummy.)
  7. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Prick each flatbread several times with a fork. Lightly brush top with oil. If desired, you can season it to taste with salt, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, etc.
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes until done. (It may puff up.) The bread will make a hollow sound when tapped. Enjoy immediately!
Notes
  1. For pizza: Prepare as above, then top with desired pizza toppings. (i.e. tomato sauce or pesto, pepperoni, veggies, etc.) Bake 12-15 minutes until done.
  2. For pigs on a blanket: Wrap the rolled out flatbreads around a hot dog. Lightly prick the bread with a fork, brush with oil and bake 12-15 minutes until done.
  3. For bread sticks, roll a small piece of dough between your hands until desired thickness is reached. Bake 13-15 min.
Created To Be Paleo http://CreatedToBePaleo.com/

 

 

Cooking with Kids: Pumpkin Pie

A few days before Halloween this year, we were over at my Mom’s house to celebrate a birthday in the family. She gave each of the grand kids a sugar pie pumpkin and a tray of paints and told them to go to town decorating them, which they did with great gusto. She also told them we would be able to wash the paint off and be able to use them to make pumpkin pies.

Aurora painting pumpkinJonathan's painty hands

Well, the day before Thanksgiving, Jonathan decided that we had to use his pumpkin to make pumpkin pie. So he spent a joyful half hour at the sink washing all of the paint off so we could make a Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. I baked the pumpkin that evening, and early Thanksgiving morning the two of us got to work in the kitchen.

He helped me scoop the pumpkin flesh out of the shell to puree it in the food processor.

Scooping out the cooked pumpkin

 Then we got to work making our crust. He helped me measure and mix it, and then press it into the pie pan. We used this recipe for the Gingerbread Crust from PaleOMG. We pretty much followed the recipe, substituting coconut oil for the grass-fed butter. I would suggest lowering the oven temperature and watching the crust very carefully for doneness, since our crust was burned in a few places.

Then onto the filling, using our homemade pumpkin puree. We chose this Raw, No Bake Triple-Chocolate Pumpkin Pie Filling from Living Healthy With Chocolate, because it has chocolate, and I can get Jonathan to try just about anything that has chocolate in it! (I had serious doubts he would actually eat a regular, pumpkiny pie, and I really wanted him to eat and enjoy the food he had made.) It paired beautifully with the Gingerbread Crust, and set up nicely after a few hours in the fridge. (We also made a couple crust-less ones in ramekins, since his Nina tries to not eat too many nuts.) The only thing I would change here is to maybe add some mini-chocolate chips to the filling, but it was otherwise perfect and amazing!

The chef

A sweet kiss

urora's kiss was even sweeter!

 Everyone in the family enjoyed Jonathan’s addition to our Thanksgiving feast! And most importantly, my super-picky eater loved it!

Yum!I had a delightful time in the kitchen working with my precious son. Usually I am so rushed trying to get meals on the table that it is hard to take the time having “help” in the kitchen requires. But I am so glad I did it that day! It is certainly a joyful memory I will always carry with me. I think I’m going to have to make my little chef an apron of his own. (I have a love of aprons- I got two new ones for Christmas!)

Fun in the kitchen with Honey

 

Plantains: 4 Ways (Plantain Chips, Plantain Coins, Plantain Fries and Tostones)

 Plantains 4 Ways

It should be pretty evident by now that our family has a serious love affair with plantains. We use them as savory sides and in baking as sweet treats (see here, here, and here.) And why not? They are inexpensive, delicious, easy to prepare and a great, simple starch. I think we go through at least 20 green plantains a week. I will hold out on going to the grocery store when we are out of many things, but once we run out of plantains a trip to the produce store or Publix (both places sell them 5 for $1) is necessary. [Read more…]

Carrot Spice Plantain Muffins

Carrot Spice Muffins

One of our staples for a quick and easy breakfast has been my Apple-Cinnamon Almond Flour Muffins or Double-Chocolate Almond Flour Muffins. It is so nice to be able to grab a muffin from the freezer to satisfy an empty tummy on a busy morning. But with Aurora’s allergies to both tree nuts and coconut oil, I have been trying to come up with an easy breakfast alternative that would be safe and nourishing for her to eat as well.

As you know, I have been experimenting a lot with plantains (see here and here), which Aurora seems to do very well with. So I thought I would try my hand at coming up with a muffin recipe made from plantains that she, and the whole family, could enjoy without fear of an adverse reaction. I have been working on this recipe for quite a while- I believe that I went through at least a dozen versions before I came up with what I feel is a perfect balance. (It’s a good thing plantains are so inexpensive!)

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Chocolate Chip Cookies- Made from Plantains!

Chocolate Chip Cookies (from plantains) 

I haven’t had chocolate chip cookies in a really, really long time. And usually, I’m pretty OK with that. But sometimes a girl just longs for the delicious sweetness, comfort and fond memories a fresh-from-the-oven, warm and gooey chocolate chip cookie can evoke. I was very happy to find a recipe for chocolate chip cookies made from plantains on a favorite blog, Purely Twins, last week. Unfortunately, it used coconut flour, coconut sugar, and coconut oil, all of which Aurora is allergic to. So of course, I did a little tinkering and I am so pleased with the results.

Gooey Chocolate Chip CookieMy husband was pretty amazed when he walked in the kitchen to see what the delicious smell was. He thought they smelled, tasted, and looked like the real thing. (The texture isn’t the same- these have a pretty soft cake-like texture- but we can’t have everything, can we?) Aurora really enjoyed them, too. I know she was very happy to be able to take a cookie with her in her snack bag to church. And now that I have a good cookie alternative for her, maybe I can keep her from snagging her brother’s cookies, since she is allergic to the nuts and coconut I use when baking for Jonathan.

Enjoy my version of these delicious Chocolate Chip Cookies.

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Mango Chicken Salad with Chipotle Dressing

 Mango Chicken Salad with Chipotle Dressing

 One of our favorite meals and a frequent choice for our meal plan is this absolutely delicious Mango Chicken Salad with Chipotle Dressing. The original inspiration for this came from the wonderful Sarah Fragoso at Everyday Paleo, but it has really changed and evolved so much since I first glanced at the original recipe that it has become a creation all of its own. (Have you noticed that we like mangos yet?)

One of the great things about this particular recipe is that you can do most of the preparation ahead of time, so that it can be really quick and easy to throw together on a busy weekday evening. The chicken is precooked, so I will often bake a pan of chicken breasts in the oven earlier in the week for this recipe. Then it is a matter of chopping up some peppers and onions, cooking up some bacon and assembling the salads. It is especially nice when you are having guests for dinner, since you won’t be stuck in a hot kitchen and can enjoy some fellowship and conversation.

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