Apologies, Insanity, and Crockpot Cooking

Holy CRAP!  So it’s been over a week since I’ve been on here…..my apologies.  For real, I feel like kind of a dick about it.  My life went from super calm and peaceful with seemingly TONS of down time to COMPLETELY FREAKING INSANE in the course of a couple of days.  I’ve just been all over the place, putting out fires left and right, and pretty much going into survival mode.

Couple of things to keep y’all updated and give you a taste of what I’m dealing with:

  1. Mexico is a NO go.  Which totally sucks.  Ultimately it was a money thing.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE what I do, but while public education pays the bills, it doesn’t always allow for extra expenses…..like a trip to Mexico when the cost of an all-inclusive resort was grossly out of your price range.
  2. Subsequently, due to lack of Mexico trip and lack of funds…..the “Cancun Challenge” is also no longer going.  I am still committed to rocking the paleo way, but I’m allowing myself a drink or two at special occasions as well as a bit of natural sugar every once in a while.  That being said, MINIMAL cheats, again only for special occasions, and still never any gluten.
  3. The end of the school year is rapidly approaching.  As I sit here typing this, I have 14 days with students left.  In that 14 days, we have 2 fieldtrips, final exams, 6 parent meetings, final reports to write on 10 of my students, OH! and I have to find time in there to clean and pack up my classroom.
  4. Toss a couple of roadtrips to Minneapolis in there and I’m quickly becoming an over-scheduled crazy person.

Speaking of roadtrips, I escaped to Minneapolis this past weekend and it was glorious.  I hung out with some of my nearest and dearest guy friends, and had an amazing weekend full of epic deep conversation, excellent food, Cinco de Mayo celebrations, wearing sweatpants, and consuming mass amounts of hard cider and playing on playground equipment.  It was maybe one of the greatest weekends in a very long time!  Here are just a couple of pics from the weekend…..both food related of course.

   paleofail    cincofeast

Those Strongbows were purchased purely because they were the only cider available in a tallboy can….and that pic on the right is the EPIC Cinco feast we made.  It’s all topped off by some freaking delicious bacon avocado pico deliciousness that the boys and I just made up on the spot.  Out. Of. Control.  Did I mention I love those boys?  Because I do…..mostly because we got to cook together, drink together, and they indulge silly ideas like bacon avocado pico, microwaving avocados, and swinging on swings with a drink in your hand.  That’s friendship.  We also made sure to music bomb the bar we hung out in with plenty of Rick Astley, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Miley Cyrus.  Yeah, we’re those guys.

Enough rambling….on to food!  I am going to apologize in advance for this picture, because it looks really gross.  I promise, it’s so ridiculously good though.  I just suck at taking pics.  Not to mention this is SUPER easy.  I prepped it at night and let it cook overnight so it was ready in the morning.  Boom.  Instant lunches ready to go!

chickenpicatta

Crockpot Chicken Picatta

  • 1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into large chunks
  • Juice of 3-4 lemons
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons ghee (or grassfed butter if that’s your thing!)
  • 1 medium onion, cut into large pieces
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, rough chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons capers, plus some of the liquid from the jar…about 1 tablespoon
  1. In the bottom of your crockpot, put your onions and garlic.
  2. Layer your raw chicken in on top next. Season it with some salt and pepper, to your tastes. (You could put your chicken in frozen, just add about 2 hours onto your cooking time).
  3. On top of your chicken, add your capers, lemon juice, and chunk up your ghee and make sure you evenly distribute it.  It’ll help it melt more evenly.
  4. Cook on low for about 6 hours.  If you are going to go longer than 6 hours, I would add in some additional liquid.  Probably 1/2 cup – 1 cup of chicken stock.
  5. Serve it up with some spaghetti squash and enjoy a buttery delicious CRAZY STUPID EASY meal!

There it is folks!  I promise to try to get on here more than once a week.  That’s just rude on my part, and I apologize for being a dick like that.  In the mean time, cheers to good friendships, good food, and letting out your inner kid! Peace, Love, and Paleo!

-Meister

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Short Ribs with a side of Emotion

Ok guys, I gotta be straight with you.  I’m having a pretty intense reaction to all of the bombing at the Boston Marathon stuff….to the point where I’m not allowing myself to watch the news or turn on any sort of talk radio.  For a good hour this afternoon, I was in complete fight or flight mode, stressing hugely over one of my best friends in the entire world who had been in Boston and had posted some pics of the marathon to Facebook about 3 hours prior to this all going down.  Needless to say, until I heard he was OK, I was a wreck.  Regardless, I’m in a complete state of shock.  The capacity for hate and destruction that some people possess truly terrifies me.  For far too long, I was the kind of person who held grudges, who had a negative outlook, and who saw the darkness in everyone and everything.  The root of this was my own hatred of myself, my place in life, and my body.  I have worked so incredibly hard to NOT be the person that harbors any sort of anger or hatred for anyone or anything, so the events of today have left me completely confused.  Now, I’m not going to make any sort of political statement here, or take any stance….but I AM going to say that I think the root of all of this lies not a gun control issue or a terrorism issue, but a lack of respect and love.  Respect and love for yourself, for each other, for your world, and your future.  Call me simplistic, but that’s where I’m at.  So I’m gonna keep doing what I can to put my positivity out into the world, because God knows there is more than enough hate to go around.

Anyways, other than that, things are going pretty great right now.  I bought my plane ticket for Cancun today!!!  Not gonna lie, I got the jitters when I hit the “book now!” button.  Then immediately had buyer’s remorse…..to which I promptly smacked myself in the forehead and was like “WAKE UP! When are you gonna get to do this?!” So, I’m over that now and have moved on to being SUPER excited!! Had a great day in the gym today….added 20 pounds to my back squat, so there’s that! Plus, I’m over the initial hump of the Whole30 where all I could think about is food.  Because I’ve done this before, I feel like that period was much shorter for me, and now, on Day 8, I’m not thinking/living/breathing/dreaming food!  It is shifting back into a position to fuel me, not just satisfy boredom.  Slowly but surely, I feel like I’m tackling that stupid sugar demon!!  I’m still eating a small amount of fruit each day, but I’m OK with that.  You know what else is great about fruit?  You can add it to savory things and it adds just a hint of sweetness!  Like it did with these….

short ribs

I know it looks like a somewhat gnarly pile of meat….but I swear to you, these were some of the most AMAZING short ribs I’ve ever made!  Plus, they go in the crockpot, so they are SUPER easy to prep, cook, and clean up!  Win all around!

Blackberry Balsamic Short Ribs

  • 3-ish pounds beef short ribs
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
  • 10-15 large blackberries
  • 5 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 10ish leaves fresh sage, torn into pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  1. In a deep skillet, melt 1 tablespoon coconut oil.
  2. Sear short ribs in the coconut oil on all sides.  You only need to get a thin crust on the meat, not cook it through, so about 2-3 minutes per side.
  3. In a bowl, mix together vinegar, tomato paste, and water.
  4. When ribs are seared, add them to your crockpot.
  5. Pour liquid mixture over your ribs.
  6. Add spices, torn sage, smashed garlic, and blackberries in around the meat.
  7. Cook on low for 8-10 hours.  I actually cooked mine on low for about 9 hours, then switched it to warm for another 2 (while I was at the gym) and they were great!  Falling off the bone beautifully!
  8. Stuff your face with hearty, rich, savory, meaty goodness!

The best part about this is that I was able to eat and do all of the “cooking” dishes in less than about 35 minutes….which was amazing!  Not to mention, it was nice to have something already cooked when I got home from the gym and my house smells AWESOME!  Sending a whole bunch of love and calming, healing thoughts to all my homies in Boston.  Go love one another.

PEACE. LOVE. and Paleo.

-Meister

Post-Travel Blues and Island Pork Stew

Hey y’all!  Coming to you live…….from my kitchen!  Back from PaleoFX in Austin, TX and holy crap, I can’t say how much I love the Paleo/Primal community.  It was incredibly amazing to spend a long weekend with such an amazing network of scientists and foodies that were all there to enjoy, learn, and spread the same message.  This is definitely an event I will go to again in the future.  I TOTALLY geeked out in some sessions, lived out a couple of  fan girl moments, and met a lot of really, really AWESOMELY paleo peeps.  Check this out!! That’s RIGHT!  I met George, the Civilized Caveman and Juli B. from PaleOMG!  For REAL!!  I almost couldn’t make conversation…..I was a completely stupid mix of first date jitters and 14 year old girl at a Bieber concert.  Major thanks to my girl, Missy, for putting her foot down and making me go say “Thanks for being so awesome!!” to these two.

bloggers

And immediately following this, I had enough guts to go personally thank Sarah Fragoso for doing what she does.  For those that don’t know, it was her book, Everyday Paleo, that I creeped through on my coworker’s desk.  SHE is one of the major reasons I’m living a Paleo life today.  She has been, is now, and will continue to be an inspiration to me.  Needless to say, I’m pretty sure we both got a bit choked up when we were talking…

Me and Fragoso

Austin solidified itself as a magical place in my heart.  It had already been one awesome place to visit, but this weekend just confirmed it!  To the point of me job searching teaching positions in the area, no joke.  In addition to the Paleo goodness, I had the opportunity to reconnect with some incredibly amazing friends.  Seriously, those folks and that town really really vibe with me.  Sitting out on patios, drinking ridiculous cocktails, listening to live music, and discussing the world……It was a little piece of heaven!  I sat in the Austin airport last night really bumming hard about coming home…..more specifically, coming back to real life.  I wish I could just suspend the feeling from the weekend and make it last forever!

Anyways, enough whining about leaving the great state of Texas…..I’ll be back there soon enough!  This recipe is one that I made quite a while ago, but talking to a friend made me remember it!  His own words were, “I love pork, I love pineapple, I love stew!  Check, check, CHECK!  I’m all over it!”  I mean, it is pretty amazing.  So amazing in fact, I’m playing with a variation of it for tomorrow night!  Here is the original!

island pork stew

Island Pork Stew…..in the Crockpot

  • 6 carrots, cut into chunks
  • 6 celery stalks, cut into chunks
  • 1 large onion, cut into chunks
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple, chunked
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons tahini (or you could use sunbutter)
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil (NOT melted)
  • 1-2 pounds pork (cutlets or boneless chops) cut into large chunks
  • 2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and grated or cut into very small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more if you want it spicy!)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Chop and layer all veggies into the bottom of the crockpot.
  2. Dump pineapple and ginger in on top of your veggies.
  3. Layer your pork (trimmed of fat, if that’s your thing….or not!) on top to cover your veggies.  You want to make a pretty even layer of pork.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together your tahini, coconut oil, and spices into a paste.
  5. Smear that delicious goodness all over the top of the pork!!  Get messy with it.
  6. Pour your vinegar over the top of the pork.
  7. Set your crockpot to low for 6-8 hours.
  8. When all is bubbly and hot, stir with a large spoon to mix everything up and break down your pork further.
  9. Bowl it up and top with fresh chopped cilantro and scallions!  Or hell, top it with whatever you dig.  Anyway you top it, it’s gonna be freaking delicious!

*** If you are into WICKED hot stuff, toss in a habanero pepper.  Keep it whole and remove it prior to serving.  If you really REALLY like to live on the edge, make a couple of slits in that bad boy with a sharp knife to let more of the oils out into the crockpot while cooking.  Again, don’t say I didn’t warn you, but sometimes, you just gotta get SPICY!  You know I’m right.***

With that, friends, I need to go clean up my disaster of a kitchen and think about going to bed at some point.  Sending much Paleo love from a very VERY full heart……Peace, Love, and Paleo.

-Meister