Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New Home and New Paleo Muffin Recipe Preview


Things have been a bit crazy around here lately. Mr. What I Gather and I bought our first home together and are in the process of getting all settled in. We found a beautiful Victorian home built in 1918 and only 10 blocks from our previous home. You would think that would make moving easier, but it doesn't feel that way as I rifle through a sea of boxes just to find my toothbrush and something to wear to work!


 We spent most of last week packing and moving what we could before the big move on Saturday (we rented the big U-Haul and used every inch of it). Because most of my cooking tools were packed away, I didn't do much cooking last week. Lots of Panera salads and Thai takeout. When I woke up Sunday morning I decided I could not go one more day without cooking a meal. I especially wanted to cook because Kevin's parents were in town and I wanted us all to sit around the table and enjoy our first meal in our new home.


I spent about an hour unpacking boxes in the kitchen before I found everything I needed to make breakfast, but it was worth it. We were all pretty sore and tired from the heavy lifting the day before and were ready for a hearty, filling meal. I made my Zesty Italian Brunch Bake and a variation on my Paleo Banana French Toast Muffins that I hope to post the recipe for later this week. For now, all I can do is show you how tasty they were...I've got more boxes to unpack!





Sunday, March 18, 2012

New Mexico Paleo Pork

I have to give credit to Mr. What I Gather for this one. Actually, I have to give credit to the Great Western Adventure we embarked upon last summer. We roadtripped from our home in Indiana to Oklahoma, New Mexico and Colorado. In Santa Fe, we ate breakfast at this amazing authentic Mexican restaurant. We both ordered pork in red chili sauce with eggs on the side. After our first bite we knew we had to try and recreate this at home. The Mr. picked out all of the ingredients and threw it together once we made it back home. I think his version rivals what we had out in New Mexico (but my opinion may be a little bit biased) This pork makes a delicious and hearty main dish for dinner or it can be served for breakfast with a side of scrambled eggs and some sliced avocado.



New Mexico Paleo Pork
Serves: 8-10
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours, 20 minutes

Ingredients
10 New Mexico dried chilis
4 Japones chilis (can substitute with Guajillo chilis for less spice)
3 cups water
5 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large yellow onion, cut into quarters
1 tsp ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
3 lb pork shoulder

Directions
-Use a small knife to cut each chili in half lengthwise. Pull the chilies open to remove the stem and seeds. Reserve a pinch of the seeds if you want to add more heat later.
-Add the chilies to a small saucepan with 3 cups of water, garlic, onions and spices. Bring to a boil. Remove pan from heat and let cool for about 10 minutes.
-Add chilies, garlic and onion to a blender with 2 cups of water from the saucepan. Puree until completely smooth. If you want to add more heat, add a few of the seeds to the blender and puree again until smooth.
-Place the pork shoulder into a crock pot. Pour the chili sauce over the port and set the crock pot to low for 7-8 hours.
-Using a fork, shred the pork. It should shred very easily. Stir the sauce well with the shredded pork and serve warm.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Roasted Green Veggies and Grapes

I guess I should throw my St. Patrick's Day recipe into the hat. :) This recipe has nothing to do with St. Patrick's Day other than the fact that it includes green vegetables. So even if you don't wear green on St. Patrick's Day, you can still eat your greens! I was planning on sharing this recipe this week before I even realized it was St. Patrick's Day, but I guess this makes it even more appropriate.


The REAL reason for this recipe can be summed up in two words - roasted grapes! I've been seeing them everywhere and even sampled them recently at a restaurant, so I really wanted to give them a try. Grapes probably never planned on sharing a plate with broccoli, onions and asparagus, but that all changed last weekend when I tossed them in a bowl with some olive oil, salt and pepper. I threw walnuts into the mix to add a little crunch. The sweetness of the grapes paired well with the bitterness of the asparagus and you can never go wrong with crisp, roasted broccoli.

Most people when first hearing of roasted grapes make a strange face and disregard the possibility that grapes could take on a delicious sweet and smoky quality after a quick go-round in the oven. I brought this dish to a friend's house for dinner so they didn't have much choice but to give it a try and everyone loved it.

This would make a fantastic dish alongside chicken or seafood. Do you have any fun roasted grape recipes?

Roasted Green Veggies and Grapes
Serves 6
Prep Time: 15
Cook Time: 30
Total Time: 45

Ingredients

2 cups chopped broccoli florets
1 cup red seedless grapes
1/2 large red onion, cut into thick slices
1 bunch asparagus (about 1 lb), white tips removed and cut on a diagonal into 2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup walnuts

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 F.
In a large bowl, toss the broccoli, grapes, onions and asparagus  with the olive oil.
Season with salt and pepper.
Transfer contents of bowl to a large pan and roast for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, add walnuts and stir well. Return to oven for an additional 15 minutes.
When finished cooking, grapes should be blistered and broccoli and asparagus should be just starting to brown.





Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sunny California Salad with Strawberries and Avocado

We have been having some crazy weather around here. It is bright and sunny with temperatures in the 70's in Louisville today and I just want to be outside! Life seems to be getting in the way of those plans, though, between laundry, packing (we recently bought a house and only have two weeks until the big move) and general Sunday laziness I haven't been able to soak in as much of this beautiful day as I would like. We are planning to take the dogs out for a walk later this afternoon so I do have that to look forward to.

I did make it to the gym for yoga and the spring-like weather on the walk back home was giving me some big time cravings for a fresh, green, fruity salad. My spring and summer salads are much lighter and brighter than my fall and winter salads. Lots of fruits and fresh veggies replace roasted veggies and baked apples.


Such was the inspiration for this yummy salad that I threw together after my workout. I love strawberries in salad so I started with that. I wanted to add onions, but to keep it light I used green onions. I mixed in some pistachios and crumbled bacon and topped it all off with sliced avocado. I love the creaminess of the avocado mixed with the sweetness of the strawberries and the saltiness of the bacon. Tons of flavors going on, but they all work wonderfully together.

In the recipe, I mention that you can use olive oil and balsamic vinegar or your favorite salad dressing on this salad. I have been working on some homemade dressings and I hope to post those recipes soon.

I hope you enjoy it and that you are having this same beautiful weather in your corner of the world!


Sunny California Salad with Strawberries and Avocado
Serves: 4

Ingredients
- 4 slices of bacon
- 8 cups mixed lettuce greens
- 12 strawberries, sliced
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup pistachios
- 1 avocado, sliced
- drizzle of olive oil and vinegar or your favorite salad dressing


Directions
- Heat a skillet over medium-low heat. Once hot, place the bacon slices on the skillet. Cook until crispy, turning often. About 8-10 minutes. Remove bacon from the skillet and set aside.
- In a large bowl, add mixed greens, strawberries, green onions and pistachios.
- Once bacon has cooled, crumble and sprinkle over salad.
- Divide salad evenly between four bowls and top each salad with sliced avocado.
- Drizzle desired amount of olive oil and vinegar or your favorite salad dressing over salad.



Monday, March 5, 2012

Zesty Italian Brunch Bake

We don't get a lot of house guests. One, we don't have a guestroom. Two, we don't even have an air mattress. Three...well, I hope those are the only reasons. I think we would be very hospitable hosts. For example, if you were an overnight guest in my house I would definitely make you this yummy breakfast bake. I would even get up early so you could awaken to the smell of a warm breakfast cooking in the kitchen. That is just the kind of girl I am.


This is a fun dish to make. I love putting all the layers together. And once you get the prep done and throw it in the oven, you can spend some quality time with your house guests instead of slaving away in the kitchen. We gobbled this one up so quickly the first time I made it that I had to make it a second time just to get a picture of the finished product. A sure sign of its deliciousness!

  

Zesty Italian Brunch Bake
Serves: 4

Ingredients

- 3 large roasted red peppers, sliced in half lengthwise
- 1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 zucchini, thinly sliced
- 6 button mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2 lb ground beef or Italian sausage
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp parsley
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 eggs


Directions
- Preheat oven to 350 F
- If peppers are stored in oil, rinse and pat dry with a paper towel to soak up any moisture.
- Line the bottom of a glass 8''x8'' baking dish with sliced peppers
- Sprinkle onions on top of peppers
- Layer sliced zucchini over onions
- Place mushroom slices over zucchini
- Heat a small to medium pan over medium heat
- Add ground beef or sausage to pan and brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in spices. 
- Drain beef or sausage and pour into baking dish, evenly covering mushrooms
- Mix eggs in a separate bowl and pour evenly into baking dish (I like to shake it around a bit to make sure everything is covered)
- Bake at 350 F for 45 to 50 minutes, until eggs are cooked through



Sunday, March 4, 2012

What I Gather is now on Facebook!

I guess it had to happen sooner or later. What I Gather has made the jump to Facebook! In addition to sharing new blog posts, I will post other fun findings and hope to better communicate with those interested in holistic nutrition and healthy living. Click here to head on over and check it out - don't forget to "Like" my page - thanks!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Paleo Carrot Cake Muffins

Did I recently say that we don't make a lot of Paleo treats? I lied. Well, it wasn't technically lying. We do try to keep the desserts and Paleo-ish snacks (I'm looking at you coconut flour waffles and raw chocolate truffles) to a minimum. But we bought the most beautiful purple carrots this week at the grocery store and I wanted to do something special with those special carrots.

I did have one failed attempt at integrating these carrots into my yummy homemade lara bars to create a carrot cake flavor bar, but we won't get into that. I don't like to live in the past. Let's just say a few of these carrots sadly went to waste, but my frustration got the gears turning in my brain again. These purple carrots would not defeat me!

I used to looove carrot cake. The moist, spiced cake, the cream cheese frosting, and the cute little icing carrot on top. I always tried to snag the piece with the icing carrot. I had something of a frosting problem. But, I digress. I turned my thoughts back to healthier fare and threw together these carrot cake muffins.

I made these over at my sister's house after dinner last night. It was definitely a bit of an experiment. I wasn't sure they would turn out at all. We mixed up the batter and confirmed that it did look like other muffin batters we had seen. We crossed our fingers and left them in the oven to bake. The true test was when my almost four year old nephew wanted to try one and said it was good. He then handed half of it back to my sister and said he didn't want to eat the whole thing. I think he just wanted to watch more cartoons, though. Because the adults all agreed that these were delicious.

I've included a few optional (well, I consider them vitally necessary, but I am not going to tell you what to do) add-ins such as raisins, nuts and shredded coconut. Maybe you will come up with some other way to put your own little spin on these muffins. If you do, drop me a line and let me know because I will definitely be making these again!


Paleo Carrot Cake Muffins
Yield: 12 Muffins
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients

-2 1/4 cups almond flour
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-1/2 tsp sea salt
-2 tsp ground cinnamon
-1 tsp ground nutmeg
-1/2 tsp ground allspice
-1/2 tsp ground cloves
-1/2 tsp ground ginger
-3 tbsp ghee or coconut oil, melted
-3 eggs
-2 tbsp honey
-1 tbsp vanilla extract
-3/4 cup shredded carrot (about 1 medium carrot)
-1/2 cup raisins (optional)
-1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
-1/4 cup shredded coconut (optional)

Directions


-Preheat oven to 350 F.
-In a large bowl, add almond flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove and ginger. Mix well and set aside.
-In a separate bowl, add melted ghee or coconut oil, eggs, honey and vanilla into a bowl. Whisk until smooth.
-Pour wet ingredients into bowl with dry ingredients and mix well.
-Stir in shredded carrot and your mix-ins.
-Spray a muffin tin or line with muffin 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.
-Bake muffins for 18-20 minutes (until a toothpick entered into center of the muffin comes out clean).