Sunday, November 30, 2014

pork magic

Pork is my favorite meat. Shocker, I know. There's just something about pork, though. Something delicious. I could never be a vegetarian, because pork. Any other type of meat, I could easily do without - but take my pork away and I would be a sad panda indeed.

Last weekend I did a bone-in pork rib roast slow and low, and it turned out fantastic. I didn't take any pictures of it because I wasn't in a blogging mood (doing some work getting my brain-meats sorted out lately, hence the absence), but it was good enough that I was quite happy with the idea of a repeat performance today. When I found a blade-portion roast all ready to go AND on sale at the meat counter during my shopping trip, I did a little happy dance.

 I was thinking about doing some sort of cumin-crusted application with the pork, but one of the things I managed to forget whilst shopping was, in fact, cumin. Standing in front of my spice rack, I was starting to scheme about another rub to do when it hit me - I had a tub of ras el hanout, which is cumin-based, still sitting on the shelf from a previous spice-mixing venture. Hooray! I gave the roast a good rub of the spice mix, plus a little extra sprinkle of kosher salt, then popped it into a 250 degree oven. I checked the temperature after an hour, and down by the bone it was registering 90 degrees. Definitely not done, but that was to be expected. I bumped the oven up to 275 and left it for another 45 minutes. When I came back to check it again, it was reading at 140 by the bone. I pulled the roasted, tented it with foil, then let it rest for about 35 minutes while I roasted off the veg for my side.

When I went to carve the roast, I knew I was on to a winner. It was ridiculously tender, and the little rind of fat on top of the roast had crisped up beautifully. The rich, spicy, orange-y smell of the ras el hanout combined with pork fat was fabulous. Such a good combination!

Mmm, roasty.

The veggies on the side are a combination of roasted parsnips, Brussels sprouts, shallots, and a few carrots I had hanging around that I wanted to use up. The Brussels sprouts, for the record, were ENORMOUS. The largest one was almost as big as a lightbulb, and they were all bigger than an extra large egg. I was a little worried that they'd be bitter, but they weren't at all, which was a relief. I roasted the veg very simply - I just tossed them with salt, pepper and olive oil and spread them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (makes a big difference in terms of things not sticking). They went into a 425 degree oven for 30 minutes, then I stirred them a little and put them back in for another five minutes or so just to brown a little more. If you've never had parsnips, this is the way to try them, seriously. I grew up in a non-parsnip household because my mom hates them, but I've grown quite fond of them since my husband talked me into cooking some for him a few years back. Roasted parsnips have a sweetness to them - their astringency melts away and they end up mellow, almost fruity tasting. The more brown, crisp and caramelized they get, the more delicious they are.

For anyone playing along at home, this dish is not only completely gluten-free, but also Paleo- and Whole30 compliant. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

fridge-emptying Paleo breakfast bake

I am not a morning person. That's not to say that I don't LIKE mornings, because they're actually my favorite time of day - but I do not like being expected to function in any sort of productive manner before about 10am. Trying to feed myself and my husband a decent breakfast tends to be at odds with my desire to maintain a sloth-like morning agenda.

Most mornings lately, I've been having a pumpkin smoothie for breakfast because a) it's fast and b) it fills me up. There's also some nutrition in there somewhere I'm sure - but the simple fact is, dumping things in the food processor doesn't take a whole lot of mental fortitude. That's key in the blurry pre-10am hours around here, trust me.

However, this coming week we're going to be traveling, which means two things (well, more than two, but for the purpose of this blog post, I'm saying two) :

 1. I need to use up some leftover food in the fridge, and

 2. I want to create as few dirty dishes as possible, because the less dishes I have to wash the night before going on holiday, the better.

To be fair, the less dishes I have to wash EVER, the better...but you know what I mean, I'm sure.

This breakfast bake checks both those boxes. Not only did it use up all the leftover bits in my fridge, but since I did the washing up directly after making it, it becomes very un-dish-intensive. Also, it gets bonus points for me not having to do anything TO it in the morning except put it on a plate and warm it up. BREAKFAST LAZINESS GOLD MEDAL! Literally the only thing lazier would be, like, cracking raw eggs into my mouth,

So, what I had hanging around was:

half a red bell pepper
half an onion
half a box of mushrooms
about 3/4 of a pound of pork sausage
nine eggs
one large Russet potato

Aside from the chopping involved, this could not be easier. I browned the sausage, then scooped it out to drain on paper towels while I sauteed the chopped veg in a little bit of the leftover fat. I washed the potato, poked it with a fork a few times, then stuck it in the microwave for about nine minutes. While the veg was getting soft in the pan, I cracked the eggs into a bowl and whisked them up. When the veg was read, I scooped it and the sausage into my baking dish (which I had swiped with olive oil just to ensure things wouldn't stick). When the potato was almost done, not quite cooked through, I pulled it out of the nuker, chopped it up (HOT POTATO, be careful, learn from my mistakes), tossed it with a little kosher salt and then threw it into the frying pan with the rest of the leftover pork fat. I cranked the heat up and let the potato get kind of brown and crispy in the pan, then scooped that into my veg and sausage mix. The egg got dumped over the top, dish got a little shake, then it went into a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes.

Ta Dahs:

It's like a craggy landscape of nom.

As long as you use a sausage that doesn't have added sugar, gluten or processed weirdness, this is a Paleo- and Whole30-compliant dish. If you don't like sausage, you could use bacon, ham, ground bison, really whatever floats your canoe. There's also no saying that you have to eat it for breakfast - you could stick some in your facehole when ever...I don't judge.

Friday, September 26, 2014

brussels sprout curry, aka: colon-blow curry

Truth time. I had a pumpkin smoothie for breakfast, rather a large amount of broccoli at lunch, and then washed this curry down with a glass and a half of porter. I predict things are going to start getting musical (and fragrant) around here in about, hmmm...let's say four hours or so. The effect will of course be doubled because the Ginger Beast had the same dinner as me (and is generally far more prone to flatulence in general). So basically what I'm saying is, you're probably not going to want to visit any time in the next 8-12 hours. You have been warned.


This curry was very much an on-the-fly thing. We had company coming for dinner and all I had for protein was a package of defrosted meatloaf mix (ground beef, pork and veal combination). Trying to come up with what to do with that, a box of shredded Brussels sprouts and a can of fire-roasted tomatoes (I love you, Muir Glen!)  made for an entertaining ride home, but then it occurred to me that curry could in fact be the answer to my problems. Well, some of them...possibly the root of others, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Mmm. Fiber.
Basically, this is just a standard mince curry with a few cups of shredded Brussels sprouts added when I added the tomatoes. I also used a can of coconut milk, but I only used the solidified cream from the top of the can, not the watery part. And yes, that's a little bit of rice at the bottom of the bowl there. This is the first rice I've had in...I can't even remember how long. Many months. It was just there for filler because I was feeding a non-Paleo-eating person who is accustomed to a starch with dinner. My portion size was about 1/4 cup of the rice with about a cup and a half of the curry over top.

Minus the rice, this is Paleo compliant. The glass and a half of porter I drank with it , of course, are not. Is not? NOT. Beer am good. I wonder if there's any left...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

guacamole all the things

Sometimes the rest of your dinner has nothing to do with guacamole, but you just have to say fuck it, and make the guacamole, because it's delicious.

This was that dinner.

Look at that guacamole, hiding in the background. Sneaky.

Pretty simple - seared chuck steak, sweet potato mash, sauteed baby kale with mushrooms, and the aforementioned random guacamole.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

How Bad Can It Go? Emergen-C

I've decided I'm going to try doing a series of food / drink experiments. I'm calling it "How Bad Can It Go" because I like to tempt fate, and because it's kind of my default mode of operation. Because I decided to do this while I was at work, and being of a very impatient constitution, I had to find something immediately accessible to use as my first experiment. That something ended up being a packet of Emergen-C that came into my possession as part of a "care package" that one of our vendors sent us all in preparation for our busy season. Yes, they send us some random stuff. I don't ask, I just squirrel the random stuff away for occasions like this.


So, if you're not familiar with the Emergen-C product, you can Google it, but the basic gist is that it's a powder loaded with vitamins and other good shit. It comes in a cute little .3 oz packet that you're meant to rip open, dump into 4-6oz of water, let fizz for a minute or so (the fizzing is a big selling point to me, not gonna lie), then imbibe and thus refresh your body with wonderful goodness. Or something. The packet does say that it's a dietary supplement, and it does point out that it contains "24 Nutrients with 7 B Vitamins, Antioxidants and Electrolytes", but it does not actually claim anything else, like "gives you energy", or "makes your hair curl", or "cures the common cold". Because it doesn't actually claim to DO...anything...(well, aside from fizz!), it doesn't really open itself up to a whole lot of criticism on the "does this shit really work" side of things...which is by design, I'm sure.

Since there's no way to judge the product on efficacy (because who really knows if that rush of 1000mg of vitamin C actually did anything for me or not. My vitamin C meter feels..fuller, maybe?), that leaves me with only taste to judge.

Funnily enough this, I feel, is where Emergen-C has some issues.

My packet was the "Super Orange" flavor. The ingredients include "natural orange flavor" and "orange juice powder", so I was certainly expecting something orange-y. Pouring the powder out into my cup, I got a weak waft of a Tang-like fragrance. I added about 6oz of water, and to my delight, the mixture started to fizz immediately! I love fizz. Unfortunately, the fizzing stopped after about two seconds. Bummer. I also noticed that while the powder was dissolving, the color of the drink changed from palest orange to, again, a very Tang-like bright unnatural orange. The color seemed to be encapsulated in bigger particles in the otherwise super-fine powder, because they kept floating to the top and kind of popping / disbursing. It was all marginally interesting to watch (more interesting than the accounting I should have been doing, anyway).

Once the powder had dissolved, I gave the drink a sniff. It still smelled like weak Tang. Which...if you drank Tang as a child, you understand the utter depressing nature of weak-assed Tang. It's just...ugh. So much promise, and so little delivery.

Anyway - so finally I screwed up the tits to taste the drink. It tasted like an unholy mixture of heavily watered down orange Gatorade and citric acid (which, surprise, was the second ingredient on the list - and if you've never tasted straight citric acid, it tastes like the coating on Sour Patch Kids or other super-sour candies. It's like, punch-you-in-the-jaw sour), with a strong background chalkiness akin to Alka Selzter (so possibly the fizzing agent is to blame?). It was unpleasant, certainly...but not unbearable. I could envision knocking a cup of it back if I for some reason felt desperately deficient of vitamin C or B vitamins, or more likely if I was the type who really got a lot out of the placebo effect.

As an aside, there was far less fizziness to the drink than I was hoping there would be, which was a disappointment. Somehow, despite the lack of fizziness, the drink has been causing me to have intermittent Tang-scented burps for the last 20 minutes. Go figure.

So, there you go. Thus concludes my first "How Bad Can It Go" experiment. If there's anything you'd like to see me try out and rant about, feel free to leave a comment here or on the OneGirlCooks Facebook page. I will consider all suggestions (within reason. I am not eating poop. Or brains. Or bugs, OMG).

Sunday, September 7, 2014

pumpkin spice smoothie

It's that time of year again - PUMPKIN SPICE ALL THE THINGS!

I, for one, welcome our new pumpkin spice overlords not only because their arrival is a harbinger of my favorite season, but because pumpkin stuff is just plain GOOD. Plus, it can be good for you, too - pumpkin is packed with vitamin A, potassium and fiber, hooray!

There was a can of pumpkin on my shelf left over from something else I'd been making back before the weather got insane this summer, and it was right in my line of sight every morning as I was making my coffee and my normal berry-banana smoothie. Because I am incapable of actual full-blown coherent thoughts before coffee, my thought process always went something like, "Mmmm...pumpkin. Piiiiie. Pie good. Pie too cook, very hot, much sugar. Mmmm...pumpkin."

Eventually, the idea of doing something besides making a pie with the can of pumpkin trickled down into my brain meats and started showing up AFTER coffee, which is when things become actionable in my world. I had been turning the idea over in my head for a few days when, this morning, dun dun DUNNNNNN...I realized I was out of bananas for my normal smoothie. This could not stand, and I wasn't about to put pants on to go buy more bananas, so an alternative smoothie had to be created. Enter pumpkin, stage left.

I didn't take a picture of the smoothie for you looky-loos, but just imagine liquid pumpkin pie filling in a Barking Squirrel pint glass, and you're there.

This recipe makes a BIG smoothie (see: pint glass reference above), but I like big smoothies since that's usually the entirety of my breakfast. If you want less smoothie, half the recipe - or put half in the freezer, maybe?

Pumpkin Spice Smoothie

3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup milk
1 scoop protein powder (mine is non-sugar sweetened. If you're using totally unsweetened powder, you might want to add a little maple syrup to the mix to sweeten it up)
spices to taste - I used a combination of ginger, clove, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Blend everything together in a blender or food processor, dump into a glass and enjoy!

Because of the dairy, this is obviously not strict Paleo- or Whole30-compliant. I personally have done dairy-exclusion periods in the past and found that I have no problems with digesting it when I reintroduce it, so I no longer exclude it from my diet. If you can't have / aren't eating dairy, you could easily use almond milk or coconut milk in this recipe instead. Coconut milk tends to run sweeter though, so you may want to start with about half a cup and taste to make sure you're not ending up with something really cloying. Unless cloying is your thing of course...then have at it.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

lazy broccoli salad

I really like broccoli salad. You know, the kind with bacon and cranberries or raisins and nuts and bacon. Mmm, bacon.


Oh, yeah. Salad.

So, broccoli salad is kind of a pain in the ass to make. There's a lot of chopping involved - more chopping than I want to do on most nights after work, frankly. I decided to try using a bag of shredded broccoli slaw instead, and it worked very well. Plus it took about a tenth as long to prepare.

The rest of the plate is pretty self-explanatory - leftover chicken thighs and sliced tomato. Ta-da! Quick, lazy Whole30 compliant dinner (if you use olive oil mayo and make sure your dried cranberries don't have any added sugar, anyway).