Monday, February 27, 2012

Spicy Sweet Potato Hash

As I've mentioned, Mr. What I Gather is training for a Half Ironman in May so we try to sneak as many carbs into our meals as we can. We are on a pretty strict paleo diet so, for us, that means lots of sweet potatoes.

You will soon realize, if you have not yet, that I always have a can of chipotle peppers on hand and I am not afraid to use them. I find lots of excuses to use chipotle peppers. I love the smoky, spicy flavor that they add to a dish. That being said, if you would like to make this sans spice, just eliminate the chipotle pepper.

This was a great breakfast, but you if you are the kind of person who is training like a mad man to torture yourself during a triathlon in the Florida heat in a few months, you could beef it up even more with a side of scrambled eggs.



Spicy Sweet Potato Hash
Serves 4

Ingredients
-2 tbsp olive oil
-1 lb ground beef
-2 medium sweet potatoes, shredded
-1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely chopped
-1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
-1 tsp paprika
-1/2 tsp cumin
-Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
-Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat
-Add ground beef to pan and brown, breaking it up as it cooks (about 5 minutes)
-While beef is browning, mix shredded sweet potato, chipotle pepper, onion and spices in a bowl
-Add sweet potato mixture to pan with ground beef and continue to cook until sweet potatoes begin to get crispy (8 to 10 minutes)


Monday, February 20, 2012

Sweet and Spicy Sausage Stuffed Peppers

I don't know if I have mentioned this, but Mr. What I Gather is training for a Half Ironman in May. This means many things for me:

1) He eats like a horse. Or actually, about three horses. You do not want to see our grocery bill.

2) I get to don an "Iron Wife" shirt at his race and make posters that say "Go, Baby, Go!" or something of a similar nature. I am even wrangling some family members to join us at the race as his own personal cheering section!

3) He spends A LOT of time training, especially on the weekends, which means I am left at home alone to experiment in the kitchen.

The majority of my experiments start with a trip through the kitchen to see what random ingredients are in danger of being past their prime. Maybe they were left over from last week's grocery trip and hadn't been used yet or maybe it was a spice that had sat longingly on the shelf for too long.

This week, that ingredient was poblano peppers. I picked them up on a whim, but never really had a plan for them. We both loved stuffed peppers, so I did another lap around the kitchen to see what they could be stuffed with. What I ended up with was a mixture of sausage, onions and mushrooms atop a bed of creamy, chipotle mashed sweet potatoes.

Mr. What I Gather came home exhausted, but happy to enjoy the fruits (or vegetables) of my labor.


Sweet and Spicy Sausage Stuffed Peppers
Serves: 5
Prep Time: 15
Cook Time: 25
Total Time: 40

Ingredients
-5 poblano peppers
-1/2 lb ground pork sausage
-1 medium sweet potato, cubed
-1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely chopped
-1/2 yellow onion, diced
-4 button mushrooms, diced
-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
-1/4 cup loosely packed chopped cilantro leaves
-1/2 tsp paprika
-1/2 tsp cumin
-dash of salt and pepper



Directions
-Preheat oven to 450 F. At the same time, begin to boil a medium sized pot with six cups of water.
-Cut tops off poblanos and slice in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and membrane.
-Place peppers on a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes.
-While peppers are roasting, add cubed sweet potato to pot and boil for 10 minutes.
-Drain pot and add sweet potatoes to a bowl with chopped chipotle pepper. Mash and set aside.
-Remove peppers from oven and let cool enough to handle.
-While peppers are cooling, heat a pan over medium heat.
-Once hot, add the sausage and brown for 2-3 minutes. Add the onion, mushrooms and garlic to the pan and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
-Remove from heat and add chopped cilantro and spices.
-Spread about two tablespoons of sweet potato into each pepper (you may have a little more or a little less depending on the size of the sweet potato) and top with about two to three tablespoons of sausage mixture. 
-Return stuffed peppers to the oven for 8 minutes.
-Turn oven to broil and cook for an additional 2 minutes.




Thursday, February 16, 2012

Paleo Banana French Toast Muffins


I am going to take you back. Back to a simpler time. A time when you stayed at the Holiday Inn with the special Holidome game room and indoor pool on your family vacation. And where would your parents take you to eat on this extra special "visit the zoo in the morning, spend the afternoon at Six Flags and play a mean game of air hockey in the Holidome before falling asleep to HBO" vacation? None other than Shoney's. As a kid, it didn't get much better for me than the Shoney's breakfast bar. All of my favorite breakfast foods in one place and all-you-can-eat to boot!



My favorite part of the Shoney's breakfast bar was the french toast sticks. With syrup. Lots of syrup. They were the perfect size for dunking into a deep sea of buttery syrup. I might have had a piece of sausage or a scrambled egg on the side, but the french toast sticks were always the main event.



Since starting down the road to healthy eating, there haven't been many (read:zero) trips to the Shoney's breakfast bar. But the husband and I do enjoy an occasional treat. We try to limit 
Paleo-ish treats to once a week or so and this week I was craving french toast. Maybe I was feeling nostalgic. I decided a muffin would be the best delivery method for my french toast fix. I have made Paleo muffins in the past with limited success, but I decided to give it one more try. I whipped up a cinnamon-y (it's a word, I swear) topping and popped them in the oven. What came out of the oven 20 minutes later was a legitimate baked good, which is not something I can say about all of my Paleo muffin attempts. 

Paleo Banana French Toast Muffins
Yield - 12 Muffins
Prep Time - 15 minutes
Cook Time - 20 minutes
Total Time - 35 minutes

Ingredients
-2 1/4 cups almond flour
-1/4 tsp sea salt
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-1 tbsp cinnamon
-1 tsp nutmeg
-2 ripe bananas
-2 tsp vanilla extract
-3 tbsp ghee, softened (clarified butter, coconut oil will work in a pinch)
-3 eggs


For the topping
-1 tbsp ghee, melted
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1 tsp vanilla

Directions
-Preheat oven to 350 F.
-In a large bowl, add almond flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix well and set aside.
-In a separate bowl, mash the bananas. Add vanilla, softened ghee and eggs into bowl with bananas. Whisk until large clumps disappear and mixture is mostly smooth.
-Pour wet ingredients into bowl with dry ingredients and mix well.
-Line a muffin tin with liners. I also spray the liners just for a little extra insurance that the muffins won't stick.
-Pour about 1/4 cup of the batter into each tin until they are all evenly filled. Each tin should be about 3/4 full.
-For the topping, mix melted butter, vanilla and cinnamon in a small bowl. Using a spoon, drizzle about a teaspoon of the topping onto each muffin.
-Pop the muffins into the oven for 20-25 minutes (until a toothpick entered into center of the muffin comes out clean).










Thursday, February 9, 2012

Jamaican Jerk Paleo Stir Fry

Chopped Veggies

If anyone out there is reading this, you will quickly learn that I like my foods spicy. Very spicy. Luckily, Mr. What I Gather shares my love of fire-y foods. We could run into some serious problems if he didn't. I cooked this dish up when we were getting ready to go out of town and needed to use up lots of veggies before the trip!

We had a Jamaican themed dinner party over the summer and made these amazing Jamaican spiced vegetables. I was craving those veggies, but wanted to turn it into a main dish so I came up with this stir fry. I may like to tip the spice scales, but you can easily modify this recipe to suit your tastes.


In the Pan

Jamaican Jerk Paleo Stir Fry
Serves 4

Ingredients
-2 tbsp coconut oil
-1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
-2 bell peppers (any color), thinly sliced
-1 jalapeno, thinly sliced (optional)
-2 carrots, thinly sliced
-2 celery stalks celery, thinly sliced
-1 cup chopped broccoli florets
-1/2 cup canned coconut milk
-1 tbsp jerk seasoning
-Salt and pepper to taste
-Juice of 1/2 of a lime
-1 tbsp hot sauce (optional)

Directions
-Heat oil in a large wok or saucepan over medium heat.
-Add onions to pan and stir fry until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes.
-Add additional vegetables to pan and stir fry until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
-Add coconut milk, seasoning, hot sauce and lime juice.
-Stir fry over medium heat until liquid has soaked in, around 5 minutes
-Serve with chicken, fish, or ground beef (but not all three, that would be weird)



Monday, February 6, 2012

Tropical Paleo Cereal


Cereal was one of the hardest things for Mr. What I Gather to give up when we switched to Paleo. He ate a bowl of cereal for breakfast in the morning and sometimes a second (and maybe third) for dinner. We bought somewhere in the range of 4-6 boxes of cereal each week...for two people! We could put down some cereal. Our switch to Paleo put an end to our cereal days, but we sometimes still crave that cereal fix. This breakfast is both healthy and you still get the satisfying crunch and sweetness of cereal.

This tropical cereal is a tasty combination of flavors, but you can really make this with any variety of fruit and nuts that you have on hand. We sometimes use almond milk in place of coconut milk, but when using coconut milk we have started buying only Trader Joe's canned coconut milk. Theirs seems to have the least added ingredients and it pours smoothly instead of getting all clumpy inside the can like some coconut milk does.

If you are making the switch to Paleo, this makes a great "transition" meal. You just might not yet ready for brussels sprouts and broccoli in the morning. It'll happen, trust me. My breakfasts look much more like dinners these days.

I hope you enjoy this delicious tropical treat and I would love to hear what kind of combinations you come up with in your own kitchen!

Tropical Paleo Cereal
Serves - 1 to 2
Prep Time - 10 minutes

Ingredients

-1 kiwi, chopped
-1/3 cup pineapple, chopped
-1/3 cup mango, chopped
-1/2 banana, sliced
-Handful of sunflower seeds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, or whatever you have on hand
-6 oz coconut milk
-Sprinkle of cinnamon

Directions

-Add fruit and nuts or seeds to a bowl.
-Top with coconut milk.
-Sprinkle with cinnamon.




Thursday, February 2, 2012

Touchdown Stuffed Mushrooms

I wasn't planning on posting another Super Bowl recipe, but this idea came to me in the shower yesterday and I just had to make it for you. Yes, I was thinking about you in the shower. Specifically, I was thinking about what to bring to my sister's Super Bowl party on Sunday. Don't judge me. I knew you would want to make this for your Super Bowl party. I did this for you. You're welcome.

I told her I would make stuffed mushrooms, but I knew I had to make them special because I love themed food for parties. I used to make football shaped rice krispie treats or a cake decorated as a football field. But since I no longer eat foods where "Red 40" or "Modified Corn Starch" are on the list of ingredients, those treats will not be making an appearance this year.

I decided I would make two teams of stuffed mushrooms, facing off on a mini football field, okay, serving tray. But how to differentiate the teams from one another? Multi colored peppers - very cute! I ran to the store on my way to work and purchased my supplies. I was determined to test this theory before Sunday to see how it worked out. Luckily for both of us, it was a winner.


In the pan...                                                    Stuffing...                                  Going into the oven...                              
Touchdown Stuffed Mushrooms
Serves: 8-10
Prep Time: 15
Cook Time: 30
Total Time: 45

Ingredients
-22 whole button mushrooms (11 for each team!) 
-1/2 lb spicy pork sausage
-1/2 medium white onion, very finely diced
-3 garlic cloves, finely minced
-1 egg
-1/4 cup almond meal
-dash of salt and pepper
-1 tsp basil
-1/2 tsp paprika
-2 tbsp olive oil
-1 to 2 small red chili peppers
-1 to 2 small yellow chili peppers 
(you could substitute any color of small, round peppers that you have)


Directions
-Remove stems from mushrooms and dice, set mushroom caps aside.
-Heat a pan over medium heat. Once hot, add sausage and brown for 3-4 minutes until no longer pink, making sure to break up the sausage into small crumbles as you cook.
-Add diced onions, garlic and mushroom stems to the pan. Cook with sausage until sausage is completely browned and veggies are soft.
-Pour contents of pan into a bowl and stir in egg, almond meal, salt, pepper, paprika and basil.
-Toss mushroom caps in a bowl with 2 tbsp of olive oil
-Spoon an equal amount of the mixture into each mushroom cap, about 1 heaping tablespoon. Place mushroom caps in a large glass baking dish.
-Slice one of the red peppers into 11 thick rings (if you run out of pepper, start cutting up a second one in the same color), place one ring on top of 11 of the stuffed mushroom caps
-Slice one of the yellow peppers into 11 thick rings (again, if you run out of pepper, start cutting up a second one in the same color), then cut the rings in half and place them on top of 11 of the mushrooms in an "x" formation (see picture for detail)
-Bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes
-Turn heat up to broil and bake for an additional 3 minutes, until a nice crust begins to form
-Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes.
-Once mushrooms are cool enough to handle, place them on a platter in opposing team formations.
-Who will win? "X's" or "O's"? Everybody is a winner!