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

Salmon Patties for a Crazy Weekend

As I type this, there are 5 dozen freshly baked Paleo chocolate chunk cookies sitting on my counter….straight from the oven.  My mouth is literally watering and all I can think about is the smell of those damn cookies!  But on the upside, I haven’t had ANY of them…..so I’m sticking to my Whole30!  Boom.  Those broads at the baby shower tomorrow better eat every single last one of those cookies…..otherwise I’m giving them away.  There is NO way they are coming back into my house!  I’m not sure I could resist any longer….

This weekend was completely insane.  Yesterday was packed full of a great “mystery” workout, a fabulous nutrition seminar, some lunch with a rockin’ crew, then a wedding with a group of people I haven’t seen in WAY too long!  Today, I was up entirely too early and hit the ground running!  For real, I don’t know what it is lately, but I have been sleeping FANTASTICALLY!!  I’m chocking it up to the PurePharma Magnesium/Zinc supplement I started taking.  That shit is legit.  I’m kind of in love with it.  So I was a powerhouse today in terms of getting stuff done.  I cleaned my house, planned meals, mowed the lawn, had dinner at my parents’ house, went grocery shopping, and baked those damned cookies.  I’m tired just re-reading that.  Ugh.

On top of everything, it was abso-freaking-lutely GORGEOUS this weekend!  I opened up my entire house, I wore shorts and flip flops, and I got a little bit of color from mowing the lawn.  Heck yes.  FINALLY! It just better stay this way.  Or I’m going to become a stupid sullen teenager over it.  So yes.  Epic weather, epic weekend, less than epic post.  Sorry friends.

I made these salmon patties a while back and they were pretty awesome.  I got a little worried because they were kind of crumbly before they cooked, but they held together beautifully! Not to mention they were pretty delicious!  Anyways, I made another batch of them to snack on throughout the weekend because I knew it was gonna be crazy, and they got me through like a charm!

salmon patties

I topped mine with some of my homemade red sauce and served them up with some roasted veggies!

Salmon Patties

  • 2 cans salmon drained, get the higher quality stuff without a bunch of extra junk in it (I know it looks totally gross in the can…..just deal with it quickly and break it up, you can do it!)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon coconut flour
  • 2 tablespoons dried minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 10-15 basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 5 sundried tomatoes, finely chopped
  1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Make sure you incorporate everything well.
  2. In a deep skillet, melt down 2 tablespoons coconut oil.
  3. Form your mixture into patties.  I got 8 out of mine.  You want them to be a little on the thicker side, about 1/2 inch thick so that they don’t fall apart.  When forming your patties, be sure they are tightly packed…..or they will crumble!
  4. Saute your salmon patties in the coconut oil until they get a nice brown crust.  It’s about 3-4 minutes per side.
  5. Plate them up and enjoy!

You can eat these hot, cold, or anywhere in between!  In fact, I ate them all three ways this weekend!  Just make sure you store your leftovers in the fridge!  Here’s to continuing with high productivity and finishing out the first 30 days of my Cancun Challenge strong!!!  Peace, Love, and Paleo!

-Meister

Prosciutto and Sage Chicken Roll Ups

chicken and sage rolls

I’m officially on the downhill slide of my first 30 days of my almost 90 day Cancun challenge!  Honestly, I feel like I’m somewhat over the sugar urges.  I haven’t wanted to smash on sweet stuff in almost a week…..despite having a plate of homemade cupcakes on my kitchen counter!  Now THAT, my friends is willpower!  I just keep looking at them and thinking…..you know you don’t want that, and it won’t even be that satisfying, AND you’ll feel like crap afterwards.  By the time I rationalize all of that, I’m usually good!

Now salt?  That is where my bizarre food cravings are kicking into high gear.  Maybe it’s the fact that my allergies are kicking up because it’s FINALLY maybe starting to really act like spring here!!  But for some reason, I can’t seem to get enough salt!  Everything I make is tasting bland, and I’ve NEVER been someone who reaches for the salt shaker…..weird.  I’m sure I have some sort of imbalance going on inside of me, but whatever, I’m just gonna ride it out for now!

Speaking of the weather finally turning around here…..it was ACTUALLY sunny today!  And somewhat warm!  And as we speak, I’m watching a full-ish moon rising in a CLEAR sky.  Simple pleasures, folks.  I swear, the fact that it was sunny today improved my mood hugely.  By the end of the week, it’s supposed to be almost 70 degrees!  That’s damn near flip flop weather…..which means I need to get it together and go get a pedicure.  Ain’t NOBODY got time for unpolished toes.  For real.

Alright, food for tonight.  My mom used to make these chicken roll ups with prosciutto, sage, and then some sort of cheese.  Then she’d make a wine and mushroom gravy for them……needless to say, they were off the chain!  So I was feeling a hankering for these bad boys.  I just left out the cheese (duh….) and skipped out on a sauce, mostly due to time constraints.  These turned out great!

Prosciutto and Sage Chicken Roll Ups

  • 4 large chicken breasts, pounded out to about 1/2 inch thick
  • 3 oz. prosciutto
  • 1 oz. package of fresh sage……or about 30ish sage leaves (you could use ground sage here, but fresh is much better! If using dry, use between 1/4 and 1/2 teaspoon per roll, depending on how “sage-y” you like it)
  • toothpicks
  • garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, celery salt
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Lay out you pounded out chicken breasts and lightly sprinkle the top side with each of the spices….NOT the sage though, save that for later!
  3. Layer 2 slices of prosciutto on each piece of chicken.
  4. Next, evenly arrange your sage leaves (or dried sage) over your prosciutto.
  5. Roll your chicken breasts up with all of the goodies inside and secure with 3-4 toothpicks.  You want to make sure that you roll them tightly and tuck any exposed goodies in on the ends.  Get good and messy with this!
  6. Lightly sprinkle the outside with salt and fresh cracked pepper.
  7. In a deep skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of coconut oil.
  8. Lightly brown the chicken rolls in the coconut oil on all sides. You will want to give them about 2-3 minutes per side.  This might get kind of funky with toothpicks sticking out every which way….just do your best to get as much browning on there as possible!
  9. Once you have browned as much of the outsides as you can, place chicken rolls on a foil lined baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes.  This will depend on how thick your chicken rolls are and how long they actually cooked in your skillet.  Use a meat thermometer to check (or do like I did and at 15 minutes, pull one out and cut it in half…..if it’s still pink, keep cooking!)
  10. Remove them from the oven, remove the toothpicks and devour!

I served mine sliced over some sauteed and steamed kale with sundried tomatoes.  It was insanely delicious and took me right back to my Mama’s old favorite! Seriously, the browned chicken breast, the salty slightly bacon-y flavor from the prosciutto, the earthy sage….MMM!!!  So good!  Hope you enjoy them!  They are a total “WOW!” meal as well because they look really pretty….so get after it! Peace, Love, and Paleo!

-Meister

Avocado Pesto

avo pesto

As the weekend draws to a close I need to put two things out there.  First, I’m sorry I haven’t posted until now…I realize it’s been a couple of days.  Things have been a wee bit crazy around here and I chose to support the people in my world instead of blog, my most sincere apologies.  Secondly, I have come to truly value spending time with people who build me up positively.  One of my oldest dearest friends is in town, and seeing her really lifted me up today.

This week is gearing up to be a crazy one!  Two fieldtrips at school means that I need to plan lunches that can be eaten on the go…..which on a Whole30, ends up looking like a bunch of random stuff thrown together.  Seriously, on Tuesday, I’m pretty sure I’m taking a pouch of salmon, a few clementines, some coconut flakes, and some celery and carrots.  It’s all “snack” foods, rolled together to make it count as a meal.  Meh, it happens!

Speaking of my Whole 30/90ish, tomorrow marks day 15!  In the world of a pure Whole30, that’s the halfway mark!  I’m so proud of my girl Ava…..we are sticking with it!  I’m definitely noticing bodily changes, and my incessant cravings for sugar are seeming to dwindle, so I’ll take it!  I even baked a pie, a FREAKING PIE, without tasting a single bit of the batter/mix/filling.  Willpower has returned to me, and boy does it feel good!

Onto food!  This avocado pesto started out as just regular pesto….until I realized I had a couple of avocados lying around that were going to go bad if I didn’t use them.  I figured, hell, they were green too, so what would it hurt to just toss them in?  It didn’t hurt a damn thing.  In fact, in increased the awesomeness of this pesto by about 10 fold!  Enjoy!

Avocado Pesto

  • 3 oz. fresh basil (I used the big, deep container from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 oz. fresh parsley (again, used the small pack from Trader Joe’s)
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, give or take….depending on how thick you like your sauce
  1. In a food processor, add your fresh herbs, garlic cloves, and your salt. Pulse until herbs are chopped down into very small pieces, and the mix is well combined.
  2. Add in your avocados, lemon juice, and spices.  Pulse to smash up the avocados and mix it all together into a green paste.
  3. Stream in your olive oil until you achieve the consistency that you like.  I used right at 1/2 cup of olive oil, but you do whatever brings you joy!
  4. Taste to make sure it is seasoned well.  Don’t fear, the garlic will be pretty sharp at first….it will mellow a bit with time.  But I like the garlicky kick!  Roll with it!
  5. Use it to top spaghetti squash, or chicken, or pan seared pork chops AND spaghetti squash…..like I did!
  6. SMASH!
  7. Store the leftovers in the fridge……and feel free to serve it warm or at room temp.  It’s delish either way!

This is going to become a staple in my kitchen.  I can’t wait to toss some grilled veggies in it once the weather turns around for good!! Peace, Love, and Paleo!

-Meister

You’re a Jerk! I know….

Yeah, it’s true.  I’m kind of a jerk sometimes.  For instance, I just put a status blast out on Facebook to tell people to save the date for our 10 year high school reunion….so that they have time to plan!  I just happened to also mention that I have gotten exponentially hotter since high school, and everyone just wants to show up to judge the shit out of each other.  It’s true, no sense in denying it.  That’s really all reunions are about in today’s world thanks to the great power that is social media.  I mean, honestly, I’ve kept in touch with people I’ve wanted to, I’ve creeped on people I’m curious about, and I’ve completely forgotten that some people even existed until they pop up in my list of “friend suggestions”.  The idea of a “traditional” reunion is just silly.  So we are renting out a bar/club for the evening, charging a reasonable cover, and having a good ol’ dance party with plenty of alcohol.  Yep, that seems about right.

Speaking of dancing, I’ve been completely obsessed with club/dance/electronica lately.  It’s totally bizarre.  That’s what’s been pumping in my car and on my Pandora at home….I don’t know what’s WRONG with me!?!  Perhaps this is my way of rebelling against winter and pretending that warmer weather is actually going to show up again someday?  I can hope.  Whatever, anyway, I’ve been pumping some pretty hard beats so I’ve been feeling really upbeat the past couple of days….to the point where I played some stuff in my classroom and a student just looked at me and said “Is this white people club music?!?”  Yeah, that opened an ENTIRE can of worms on the topic of race and music.  Have I mentioned that I love middle schoolers?  I’m being 100% serious with no sarcasm involved.  I mean, where else can you have a legitimate conversation about the role of race in music?  We all geeked out, got totally into it, and I’m pretty sure we all came out on the other side I bit more in touch with our own cultural biases.  Good stuff, folks.  Good stuff.

Ok, onto food.  One of the MAJOR things I miss since going paleo is beef jerky.  Like HARDCORE.  The stuff you can find that is readily available is pumped full of so much trash that it shouldn’t even be called BEEF jerky, it should be called Meat-like Chemical Jerky.  Gross.  Not to mention, the good stuff is so outrageously expensive that I would feel guilty about smashing on an entire package.  So….I created my own!  It’s kind of a labor of love, but trust me, it’s worth it!!!

beef jerky

This pic makes it look totally gross.  I promise, it’s delicious!!

Paleo Beef Jerky

  • 1 pound sirloin, or top round, or a filet….whatever cut of beef you get, you want it to be a leaner cut or trim most of the fat off (also, toss it in the freezer 30-40 minutes before you want to slice it up)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper OR red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 cup Worcestershire Sauce (recipe for a Paleo version below!)
  1. Using a very sharp knife, thinly slice your partially frozen beef.  You want to shoot for consistent, thin slices (think 1/8th of an inch).  You can choose to go with or against the grain, it doesn’t really matter but it will affect how the jerky chews when it is done.  Test out both and see which you prefer!
  2. Combine all other ingredients in a gallon sized ziploc bag.
  3. Add the sliced beef to the bag.
  4. Remove as much of the air as possible, zip the bag, and toss the meat around to coat it fully.
  5. Marinate in the fridge overnight.  I put mine in a glass baking dish, JUST in case the bag leaked.  You want to make sure you flip the bag over a couple of times during the marinating process.  I would marinate NO LESS than about 8 hours.  So it does require some planning 🙂
  6. After marinating, place the beef on foil lined baking sheets.  You can place them pretty close together as they will shrink up as they cook.
  7. Place baking sheets in a preheated oven set to 175 degrees. Bake for 3 hours.
  8. Flip slices over and cook for another 1-2 hours, or until beef is almost completely dried out, but can bend without snapping into pieces.
  9. STUFF your FACE!!  Seriously, I had to ration this out into small portions.  I plowed through it REALLY quickly….and am already planning when I’m making my next batch!
  10. If you manage to have leftovers, store them in the fridge…..preferably near the back where they are out of your sight line so they are not eaten immediately.

Ok, so regular Worcestershire Sauce is chock FULL of garbage……so here is a tasty Paleo version!

  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons coconut aminos (or GF soy sauce if you are cool with using soy….)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground/dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  1. Put all ingredients into a small saucepan.  Slowly bring to a boil and the reduce heat.
  2. Simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Cool and store in the fridge!  Or once it’s cooled….use it to make delicious jerky! Boom.

Alright y’all.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  Make a double batch of this stuff.  Trust me.  You WILL thank me later.  Enjoy snack time! Peace, Love, and Paleo.

-Meister

Fighting Sugar Demons….

minty temptation

For real.  Sorry if this offends you, it’s truth.

Remember when I talked about those STUPID Lifesavers mints in my desk drawer haunting me?? Yeah, here they are, trying that crap again.  Seriously, every single time I opened this drawer I caught a minty whiff.  It took every bit of willpower I had today NOT to destroy these.  Again, they aren’t even worth it!  If I’m gonna go to sugar town on crappy candy, I’m gonna get after some Hot Tamales…..because THOSE are perfection!

I’m at the successful completion of Day 4 of my Cancun Challenge!  It honestly, food wise, hasn’t been that difficult for me yet.  Yes, I’ve had a couple of random cravings; however, when those pass, I’m good.  I was eating pretty strictly Paleo before I started.  I had completely cut out gluten for over a year, and had cut down on processed junk long ago.  But I have to be honest, the true test will be this weekend.  I always ALWAYS generally do some sort of baking on the weekends.  Not sure what I’m going to do with myself!  Plus, I don’t have family dinner on Sunday to look forward to because my parents left this morning for Maui.  They are jerks.  Flaunting their Hawaiian gear while here in good old O-town, we’ve had every possible form of precipitation in the last 24 hours.  That being said, I’m pretty sure BOTH my folks packed their PaleoMeister shirts, and intend to rock the shit out of them all over that island.  I’m fairly certain there will be photographic evidence of this, and it will likely end up here…..because although they may be jerks, they are FREAKING ADORABLE.  For real, my folks are the greatest!

Guess what else is awesome?!?  I finished my State Testing today!!!  This is HUGE!  So relieved to go back to my regular schedule tomorrow.  Now it’s just 6 glorious weeks until summer break!  On the whole, this year has been amazing so far.  Great coworkers, great building, and GREAT kids.  Gonna really miss some of the 8th graders as they go on to high school….but until that day comes, I’m hoping for a ROCKIN’ end of the year!

Ok, recipe time! I was originally going to make meatballs, but when the evening rolled around, I just wasn’t feeling it!  Plus, I had some beautiful portobello mushrooms in my fridge, so I decided to stuff them!  Realistically, I got lazy and didn’t want to roll a whole bunch of meatballs….so sue me! Also, this red sauce is killer!  I’m a sucker for good red sauces, but getting good flavor without throwing some red wine in can be difficult….but this one nails it!  I apologize that it just looks like a meat pile in this picture.  I promise there is a mushroom under there!!

stuffed mushrooms

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Red Sauce

For the Stuffed Mushrooms (I made these first, then while they were baking, assembled my sauce):

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 4 large portobello mushroom caps, stems removed and “gills” (the brown undersides) removed with a spoon…..carefully scrape them out, you don’t want to tear your mushrooms!
  • 2 tablespoons fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 small onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt AND pepper
  • 4 ounces prosciutto, finely chopped (this ingredient isn’t totally necessary, but makes it MUCH more awesome!)
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Mix the meat up with your hands, gently incorporating all of the seasonings and herbs.  Don’t OVER mix it or it will become tough.
  4. Divide your meat into 4 equal portions and stuff into the cap of each mushroom.  You want to make sure you pack it pretty tightly and in an even, relatively flat layer.
  5. Arrange your stuffed mushrooms in a glass baking dish (you might have to use 2 dishes, depending on the size of your mushrooms)
  6. Bake for 30 minutes.
  7. While these are baking for the first 30 minutes, make your sauce!

For the red sauce:

  • 1 can fire roasted tomatoes (14.5 oz.)
  • 1 small can tomato paste (6 oz.)
  • 1 cup liquid (I used water, but your could use any kind of stock)
  • 5-7 fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • 10-12 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a medium saucepan, add a tablespoon of olive oil.  When warm, add in your onions and garlic.  Saute until the are softened, about 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add in your fresh herbs, and lightly toss them with the hot oil and veggies.
  3. Dump in your fire roasted tomatoes and your tomato paste.  Stir slowly to combine.  Cook for about 3 minutes, or until the tomato paste starts to loosen up.
  4. Add in your 1 cup of liquid slowly, until you achieve the thickness of sauce you want.  I used the entire cup, and I still ended up with a thick chunky sauce.  It was perfect!
  5. Stir in your dry seasonings and simmer on low until mushrooms are finished with their first 30 minutes of cooking (about 15 minutes).  You will want to slightly cover it so it doesn’t splatter everywhere, and stir every couple of minutes so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of your pan.  That would SUCK!
  6. When mushrooms are done, remove them from the oven.  They WILL NOT be done, so don’t worry if they still look pink!
  7. Spoon sauce over each of the mushrooms.  Use as much as you like.  I didn’t drown mine, in fact, I had almost a cup of sauce leftover (which I put in a jar in the fridge for later)
  8. Put your saucy mushrooms back in the oven for another 20-30 minutes.  Cooking time will depend on how thick the stuffing layer is, how thick your mushrooms are, how much sauce you topped with, etc.  When in doubt, use a meat thermometer to check for “done-ness”.  Or if that is too much for ya, after another 30 minutes of cooking, pull one out…..cut into it, and if it’s still pink, put it back in.  It’s not too terribly hard!
  9. Plate up, and smash!  I served mine with some roasted veggies and it was AMAZING!

These turned out surprisingly well, considering the mushrooms were a last-minute game time decision. I took the leftovers to school today for lunch, and a substitute in the teacher’s lounge was like “I know that ain’t what they are serving in your cafeteria! You make that?”  It made me laugh.  Eat up my friends! Peace, Love, and Paleo!

-Meister

Day 1, on the books!

cilantro lime shrimp

Before I jump into recipe talk, I need to come clean and be brutally honest….I had a LEGITIMATE stare down with some lifesaver mints today in my classroom.  It was beyond stupid!  I’m not even joking when I say that: A. those mints kind of suck B.  I would have eaten one out of boredom, and just because I “couldn’t” have it and C. one of my students TOTALLY called me out on it.  Like I said, it was ridiculous.  This is exactly what happened the last time I did a Whole30.  I started getting random MENTAL cravings for things I don’t even usually eat; however, simply because it’s on the “no list” I instantly want it.  Noooo, I don’t have ANY emotional issues with food.  Clearly not!

Whatever, now that that’s out….today was just a total Monday.  In every sense of the word.  I put myself on autopilot and just went through the day.  Eh, those have to happen every once in a while I suppose.  On the UP side, I should be done with my State Testing this week!!  That will get a huge weight off of my shoulders.  It also means that I get to go back to real life, and better yet, REAL teaching!  Whaaaaat?  For real.  Giving tests is really, REALLY difficult and it sucks the life out of you.  I teach middle school for a variety of reasons, one of which is the amount of energy that I get from my kids.  That just doesn’t happen during testing time because of the serious environment.  Much like sunshine, good food, and excellent music, I need adolescent energy.  I’m weird.  Deal with it.

On to food!  I sat last night looking in my freezer thinking, “hmm…..shrimp?”  So I went with it!  My mom makes this Chinese coleslaw that has crushed up Ramen noodles in it.  She makes it for every summer party she goes to.  I hate it.  In fact, I hate raw cabbage in coleslaw form.  One of my friends describes it as wet grass and I couldn’t agree more…..that was until I had myself some Napa cabbage!  That shit is BOMB!  It’s also about the only cabbage I can stand in coleslaw form.  So, the slaw portion of my dinner was inspired by my wonderful Ma, and her super popular (though hated by me because I’m a jerk like that) coleslaw.  The shrimp was kind of an after thought.  I knew I wanted something spicy and green and fresh.  Plus, I’m totally in love with fresh cilantro right now….so that’s how this shrimp came to be!  Not to mention limes make me think of cocktails, which makes me think of summer…..which I want, NOW.  Here goes!

napa slaw

Napa Cabbage Slaw

  • 1 head of Napa cabbage, shredded (it’s a much more delicate leaf, both texture and flavor….or get regular cabbage if you dig it.  I don’t, not raw at least!)
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 jalapeno peppers, diced finely
  • 1 bunch (8-10) scallions, chopped up….both white and greens
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup coconut aminos (you could use tamari or GF soy sauce…but I’m staying strict to no soy)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Juice of 1 lime
  1. In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, onion, peppers, and scallions in a large bowl.
  2. In a jar (or something else you can shake up dressing in) combine your vinegar, coconut aminos, olive oil, lime juice, and all spices.  Cap the jar and shake the SHIT out of it.  I happened to dance around to Whitney Houston in my kitchen while preparing this.  It helped, trust me.
  3. Pour about half of the dressing over the cabbage and toss well to coat it.
  4. Let it sit in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes to blend flavors and such.  Top it with the sliced almonds and serve!  Top with more dressing if you like yours saucy-er!  Or better yet!  Top it with this shrimp!

Spicy Cilantro Lime Shrimp

  • 1-1.5 pounds of medium sized raw shrimp, peeled, de-veined , and tails off
  • 2 bunches of scallions, white and greens, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 2 serrano peppers, thinly sliced into rounds (these little guys can get HOT, so if you don’t get down like that, sub out jalapenos, or no peppers!)
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  1. In a deep skillet, melt your coconut oil.
  2. When heated, add your shrimp in a single layer.  Season the shrimp with half of the seasoning mixture. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until shrimp start to turn pink and curl up a bit.
  3. Flip shrimp and season with the remaining seasonings, it’ll form almost a crust on the shrimp.  Cook for another 2 minutes on this side.
  4. When shrimp is ALMOST cooked through, push it to the sides of the pan.  In the center, add your scallions and peppers.  Saute them for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Toss the shrimp and the veggies together to finish cooking.  Add in your lime juice and toss in your fresh cilantro.  Stir for about 1 minute to heat them through and coat your mixture in the juice.
  6. Devour.  For real.  I’m surprised I was able to snap a picture before scarfing mine down…..let alone exercise enough self control to pack up leftovers!

Here’s to freaking delicious food, kitchen dancing, the light at the end of the tunnel, and day 1 of Operation Cancun in the books!  I dare some stupid Lifesaver Mint to tempt me tomorrow….ain’t nobody got time for that! Peace, Love, and Paleo!

-Meister

Operation Cancun, commence!

Well folks, I am officially starting my “Operation Cancun” tomorrow.  It’s gonna look a WHOLE lot like a Whole90 with a few little tweaks.  First off, I’m going in on this bad boy with a friend from the gym.  She’s a GIANT motivation to me, and when she mentioned that she has not been able to finish a Whole30, I was immediately like, well that’s because you haven’t tackled it with ME as back up!  For real, they aren’t always easy, they aren’t always fun, but you learn a ton about yourself, your relationship with food, and your digestive quirks.  As weird as it sounds, it’s really enlightening.

Anyway, my Operation Cancun will look like this:

  1. I will be doing a strict Whole30 starting tomorrow.
  2. Days 31-88 (I fly out on day 89) will be completely clean on food, alcohol is another story.  I know already that there are a couple occasions that I will want to have a drink…..and I’m OK with that, it’s literally like 3 different events.
  3. On the rare occasion that I do indulge in a drink, it will be in moderation, and it will only be wine or straight Patron with some lime….no mixed up, sugared up crap.
  4. I realize that it’s not a “Whole90” if I’m drinking.  Don’t be a hater.  Deal with it.  My goals with this time around are not the same as they were when I initially did a Whole30.

So what are these goals I speak of?  Well, honestly…..I bought a bikini.  Like a legit bikini.  That hasn’t happened since I was about 6 years old.  I’m kind of freaking out about the purchase and completely regretting it…..negative self-talk has a way of creeping in.  So this time around, I’m doing this to get myself looking as awesome as possible in that bikini come beach time.  I realize how vain that is, and I’ve accepted it.  In preparation for Operation Cancun, I’ve taken “before” pics in the suit……don’t worry, they won’t be hitting the internet ANY time soon!  SOOO not ready for that!  However, there is a good chance they will be hanging in my bathroom so that they stare me in the face every morning.  I’m still debating whether I want to weigh myself or not tomorrow morning…..I honestly haven’t stepped on a scale in a couple of months, and I’m cool with that.  The data nerd in me wants a number to go off of though….we’ll see what tomorrow morning brings.

Before I jump into my recipe, the biggest tip I can give anyone wanting to do any variation of the Whole30 or to anyone getting into the Paleo life is to MEAL PLAN.  Seriously, there are a ton of great sites out there that can help with this.  Just do it!  It saves hugely on the decision making in the middle of a stressed out week, it saves money at the grocery store if you aren’t buying a ton of random crap you don’t need, and it really REALLY allows for food to be cooked and actually eaten rather than going bad and ending up in the trash.  I sit on Sunday afternoons with a notebook, a pen, and my brain….sometimes a cookbook or a food magazine and this is how I do mine:

menu planning

For real, it keeps me sane.  No technology involved….OG handwriting and chart making!

I’m giving you my breakfast recipe for the week.  I make a HUGE batch of this and then put it into containers for breakfast for the entire week.  That way it is done, and I have no excuses for not getting my breakfast in!

breakfast hash

Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash

  • 1 pound ground pork (or sausage if you can find it with no sugar and extra crap added)
  • 2-3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and shredded (I used the food processor)
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 2 bell peppers, I used 1 red and 1 green
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, for cooking
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • pinch of cayenne pepper (more if you like it spicy)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a deep, large skillet, brown your ground pork.  While it is cooking, season it with a small amount of each of your spices.  I also tossed in a small amount of ground sage.  Make sure you break the pork up while it is browning so you don’t have too big of chunks….unless that’s your thing.
  2. When the pork is browned, after 5-7 minutes, remove it from the pan using a slotted spoon.  You want to leave most of the fat in the pan.
  3. Toss in your peppers, onions, and garlic and saute for about 5 minutes or until they soften and become translucent.
  4. Add in your coconut oil.  When it is melted, top your veggies with your shredded sweet potatoes.
  5. Toss the shreds in the oil, then flatten them down into an even layer, covering the entire pan.
  6. Leave them ALONE!  You only want to stir them every 3-4 minutes.  Re-flattening them out into an even layer after each stir. You will cook your potatoes for 10-12 minutes.**
  7. When your potatoes have cooked through, become bright orange, and may even begin to crisp up and brown a bit, add back in your pork and the remainder of your spices.
  8. Stir thoroughly to combine everything and flatten into an even layer again.  Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes to let flavors blend together.
  9. Plate up and serve!  I top mine with some fresh avocado and some hot sauce….it rocks!

**Time on this may vary depending on how deep your potatoes are layered in your skillet, how fine they were shredded, how soft you like your potatoes, etc. Just play with it and taste as you go!

Well, here’s to the journey I’m embarking on!  I’m somewhat scared about what I will be like when the reality of no “paleo treats” sets in…..God save us all!  Peace, love, and Paleo!

-Meister

Orange Pecan Cookies

orange pecan cookies

Apparently, I shouldn’t go on vacation.  Ever since I got back from Austin, I have been getting gradually sicker and sicker.  It sucks, pretty hardcore.  I finally caved and am taking the day off tomorrow, mostly to sleep…because I haven’t been doing any of that lately.

In other news, because of said sickness, I have watched several random movies this evening.  I NEVER just sit on my couch and watch movies, like ever.  I get all sorts of antsy, so I’m usually reading or working on some sort of project.  So naturally, I started baking these cookies tonight while watching movies.  I figured, hell, I pay for all of these channels, might as well watch some!  So far tonight, I’ve watched “Friends with Benefits” “Apollo 13” and now I’m watching “The Other Boleyn Girl”.  This movie is nuts!  Henry VIII was NUTS! But Eric Bana is pretty to look at….so this movie is watchable.

On a slightly sadder note, I think I’m gonna hang up my baking mitts for a while.  Starting Monday, I’m beginning what I’m dubbing the “Cancun Challenge”.  I’m 99% sure I’m going to Cancun in July and I want to look as amazing as possible in the swimsuit I just bought.  Therefore, starting Monday, I’ll be officially doing another Whole30…..which will actually be more like a Whole90.  No more paleo treats for me…..but have no fear, I’ll continue to bring you deliciousness.  It just means I’m going to have to rely heavily on taste testers!

Without further ado, here are these tasty little devils!

Orange Pecan Cookies with Orange Coconut Butter Drizzle

For the Cookies (makes about 5 dozen):

  • 5 cups almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla
  • 3/4 cup raw honey
  • zest and juice (about 1/2 cup) from 2 oranges
  • 2 cups chopped pecans (I used dry roasted, unsalted ones)
  1. In a large bowl, mix together all dry ingredients.  Mix in your pecans with the dry mix!
  2. In a smaller bowl, mix together all of your wet ingredients, including the orange juice and the zest from both oranges. (Seriously, invest in a microplane or a zester, the are AWESOME!!)
  3. Mix your wet ingredients into your dry, combining thoroughly.
  4. At this point, I usually refrigerate the cookie dough for at least an hour.  This makes it WAY easier to roll later.
  5. When you are ready to bake your cookies, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Roll your dough into walnut sized balls (about 1″) and slightly flatten them.
  7. Place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for 7-10 minutes. I let mine go for just under 10 minutes and the were perfection!
  8. LET THEM COOL!!!  For real, let them cool for at least 30 minutes before you even think about putting the drizzle on them.  If you don’t want to top with the drizzle, feel free to smash on these bad boys as soon as they are cooled!

For the Orange Coconut Butter drizzle:

  • 3 tablespoons coconut butter
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • zest and juice of 1 orange
  • pinch of salt
  • small splash of vanilla (1/8 teaspoon for you measuring types)
  1. Put all ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Microwave for about 30 seconds.
  3. Stir all together.
  4. Use a spoon to drizzle the mixture over the cookies all fancy like!  Or if you are feeling really fancy, you can make your own “pastry bag” out of a ziploc bag.  Load your drizzle goo into a baggie, seal it, and snip a small amount of the corner off.  Drizzle that deliciousness all over your cookies.
  5. STUFF your face!!

These are simply delightful!  I hope you enjoy them.  I’m trying my best to NOT eat all of them….please send strong willed thoughts my way as I embark on the Cancun Challenge!!  It’s gonna be really tough, especially because I also won’t be drinking….like at all.  Crazy.  I know.  Last time I did that I lost a whole bunch of my friends over it. Meh, oh well!  Sending delicious paleo treat love your way! 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