Golden Beet and Apricot Salad

I almost never talk about CrossFit.  Why, because I am mediocre at best and this blog is about food, not about exercise.  I like food way more than I like CrossFit. So why am I mentioning this now?  Well, I went to the SoCal Regionals yesterday and was blown away by what bodies are capable of.  After 2 days and 5 other events, the competitors looked as if they had just returned homes from a week vacation in the tropics, relaxed and refreshed.  Truly amazing and inspiring.  I will never be on that level, but to see how their hard work has paid off makes me want to put in a little extra this week! 
On that note, if you are into CrossFit or exercise of any kind, or just care, there is an event being held all over the country this weekend, the Memorial Day Murph.  Check it out here, and find out why you should sacrifice yourself for an hour in honor of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Now for the food.  
I am constantly amazed by flavor combinations.  I rely on my flavor thesaurus frequently.  I am lucky enough to belong to a great CSA, and we received the best basket last week, cherries, apricots, peaches, avocado, lemon basil, butter lettuce, kale, golden beets, spring onions and dill.  Most of the cherries didn't make it home, my drive from the pickup is about 25 minutes.  But what survived deserved special attention.  I was watching Cooking Channel, and saw Elton Brown making poached beets, I had never thought to poach a beet, but the most interesting part was that he poached them in apricot juice!  I had beets and apricots, so I went to work.  I pulled out my flavor thesaurus to see if I could find something to accompany these two ingredients.  And I found that beets and dill is a tasty and often overlooked combination.  I had three ingredients down.  So I just filled in the rest and here it is.  Summer salads are supposed to be simple and highlight the taste of each individual ingredient, I think this fits the bill.  If you are so inclined, a few crumbles of goat cheese would be lovely as well.  Oh, and this made two servings, but you could easily double or triple it for a family sized salad.  

Golden Beet and Apricot Salad
2 Servings
4 Golden beets, roasted, peeled and quartered
2 Apricots, pit removed and quartered
1 Roma tomato (or heirloom), cut into bite sized pieces
1/4 cup Pecans, chopped
1 Tbls chopped fresh Dill
1 Tbls chopped fresh Parsley
Juice of half a lemon
1 Tbls Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place beets on a foil lined baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes, or until tender.  Fresh beets cook faster than old beets, so check each beet individually if you are using a combination.
Allow beets to cool, peel and chop.  Combine chopped beets with all other ingredients in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and enjoy!

Paleo Chicken and Waffles

Yup, I did it.  Chicken and waffles.  And it was easy, you know why?  Because I married up two recipes I have already made, just tweaked a little.  Sometimes it's not about reinventing the wheel, but about showing people what the possibilities are.  I combined my "Corn"bread recipe with the sesame crusted chicken recipe I posted a few weeks ago, covered them in maple syrup and voila!  I did make a few changes to both in order to make them work together.  I was really happy with the results.  I am still working on my photography, as evident from this photo, but I think it gets the point across, and it still makes my mouth water. 
Note: These waffles appear dark because I used regular flax seed meal instead of golden flax seed meal like I did in the cornbread recipe.  I also cooked them longer in my waffle iron to really get a crispy crust.  I like texture, but it's personal preference.  

Paleo Chicken and Waffles
For the Chicken:
Yields 4 servings1 lb Chicken tenders
1/2 cup Sesame seeds, ground
2 Egg whites
1/2 tsp Garlic powder
1/4 tsp Cayenne pepper
Salt and Pepper

For the Waffles:
Yields 2 waffles, or 4 servings
1 cup Almond meal
1 cup Flax seed meal
1 tsp Baking soda
1/2 tsp Baking powder
2 Tbls Honey
2 Tbls Coconut oil, melted
3 Eggs, room temperature is best
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Tbls Apple cider vinegar
5 slices Bacon, cooked and chopped

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Line a sheet pan with foil and place a cooling rack over it for your chicken.  Grease rack to prevent sticking.  
Whisk egg whites and chicken spices in a shallow bowl.  In a separate shallow bowl, add sesame seeds and season with salt and pepper.  Pass chicken tender through egg mixture and then coat with sesame seeds.  Shaking off the excess.  Place on rack and bake for 15-18 minutes.
While chicken cooks, make your waffles.  Preheat waffle iron.
In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients, whisk.  In a small bowl, combine honey, coconut oil, eggs and apple cider vinegar.  Add wet ingredients to dry and stir to combine.  Fold in bacon pieces.  Batter will be thick, spread into waffle iron and cook according to your waffle iron directions.  Mine took about 6 minutes.  
Top waffle with chicken and drizzle with maple syrup, enjoy!

Paleo Thai Chicken Curry

Look, here's the deal.  I could make all kinds of excuses about why I haven't been posting on my blog, but I'm going to be blunt.  I just haven't been cooking all that much.  I was gone for a few days to Chicago and when I got back I was sick, and my oven has been out of commission for the last two weeks.  Oops, there are the excuses!  So I have been living off the most boring food, supplemented by the Whole Foods hot bar. But I have recommitted myself to my blog, because cooking and sharing food with you all helps keep me sane.  My first recipe back is a pretty easy one.  I was looking through my recipe archives to make sure I had not shared one of these before, and I was actually really surprised I had not.  I make this type of dish a lot, it's quick and easy to put together.  I am not tied to what traditionally goes in curry, or any other type of dish really, I buy what I like and what looks good at the market and make it work.
This weekend is "Blog Re-commitment Weekend" so you better come back next week, I will totally make it worth your while!

Paleo Thai Chicken Curry
(Print Recipe)
2 Chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1/2 White onion
1 Red bell pepper, 3/4 diced for curry, 1/4 small dice for garnish
8 oz Baby bella mushrooms, quartered
1 head Baby bok choi, chopped
1 can Coconut milk
1/2 cup Chicken stock
3 Cloves garlic, minced
1/2 inch fresh Ginger, grated
2 rounded Tbls Green Curry paste
1/2 tsp Crushed red pepper flakes (or less to taste)
1/4 cup Thai basil leaves, chopped
Salt & Pepper

Note: I used the whole breast of a rotisserie chicken I bought at Whole Foods.  You can cook the chicken breasts any way you want.  In a skillet or on an indoor grill pan for 6-8 minutes per side, in a 350 oven for 20-30 minutes, then shred.

In a medium sauce pot, melt a dab of coconut oil over medium heat, add onion and bell pepper, saute for 5 minutes.  Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and saute for another 5 minutes.  Add garlic and ginger, saute for 1 minute more.  Add coconut milk, chicken stock, curry paste and crushed red pepper, bring to a simmer (not a boil) for 10 minutes.  Add bok choi and chicken, simmer until chicken is warmed through.  Turn off heat and stir in basil.  Scoop into a bowl and enjoy!

Paleo Pineapple Blender Ice Cream

This ice cream really could not be easier, or have fewer ingredients.  It tastes great, and can be whipped up in no time, with some preparation!  I was visiting my friend Shannon last weekend and we talk alot about food.  Like ALOT.  She is so smart and keeps me up to date on all the science behind paleo.  But mostly we just talk about what we are going to eat for breakfast, then 10 minutes later what we are having for lunch, then 10 minutes after that, what's for dinner!?  She has 2 growing boys and it seems food is always on their minds as well.  I was blown away by some of the stuff her oldest son said, he's only 5 and he told me his favorite food is lettuce!  Seriously?  I was dishing him up some dinner and he told me he wanted his chicken on a big bed of lettuce.  Shannon and her husband have taught both their children to really appreciate their food and where it comes from, it was very inspiring.  Check out this post, Words of  Paleo Kid, on her site, Primal Peak.  I can only hope to teach my kid/s the way Shannon has, it was truly inspirational.  P.S. Also check out her post on the carrot cake we made, it was delicious!
Now back to the ice cream!  Before I left last week, I chopped and froze a pineapple that surely would have turned into a science experiment.  I also used a can of chilled coconut milk.  I usually keep a can or two in the fridge for these types of recipes, if you don't, make sure to put one in there 12-24 hours before you want to make this.
Note: I used a Vitamix to make this.  If you don't have a high speed blender, but have an ice cream maker, I would put all these ingredients into a food processor and process until you can't process anymore.  Then pop it into the ice cream maker.  

Paleo Pineapple Blender Ice Cream
1 Pineapple (chopped and frozen!)
1 can Coconut milk (chilled 12-24 hours)
Seeds of 1 Vanilla bean
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
Pinch of salt
Chocolate chips (optional, I used Enjoy Life)

To remove the seeds of your vanilla bean, slice the pod lengthwise and then run the back of your knife down the cut side to remove the little black specs (seeds).
Combine all ingredients in your blender, turn on low/medium and using the tamper, actively push down the pineapple until incorporated.  Don't over mix!  The motor of your blender will turn this into warm soup.  Scoop out, top with chocolate chips, and enjoy!

What I Ate Wednesday

The title of this post is a little misleading. I didn't eat all this today, or any other Wednesday, but I have had all these food items in the last week.  Along with my food review, here's a little peak into what's been happening in my world recently;
1.  I have realized I am not 23 anymore and cannot recover from exercise or drinking the way I used to.  Tracy, I love you, but that pub crawl on Saturday just killed me (or it could have been the grilled cheese I ate, gasp!).
2.  Along the lines of #1, I had the unfortunate experience of doing Open workout 13.3 twice in one week!  I don't talk about Crossfit much here but this week I feel like I must, it really brought back my competitiveness.  On Tuesday we did what was 12.4 as our daily workout.  And then bam! it was announced it was also 13.3.  Sad face.  My legs barely recovered by Saturday to give it another go.  The second go around was not as good and I threw down my jump rope in disgust at the end of the 12 minutes.
3.  Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.  Thanks Jillian Michaels.  My friend Suzanne, who I'm pretty sure will read this, texted this to me yesterday after she lovingly called me "Suzie Sandbagger" for not quite doing as much weight in a workout as I could  have.  It was funny because it was the second time this week I had heard this saying.  Another friend who is starting her Crossfit journey in April, said the same thing when she told me she was sick of her current exercise routine and wanted something new.  I have decided this is my new approach to my workouts, go faster, do more, don't worry about what the pain might be like.  I realize that's what I should have been doing all along, but I was not comfortable being uncomfortable.
4.  PaleoFx is this weekend, and as awesome as it would be to go, that's not in the cards.  So I am having a mini meeting of the paleo minds, I am travelling to Park City, UT to visit my friend/paleoite/crossfit extraordinaire, Shannon.  Both our husbands are away, so I couldn't think of a better time to visit!  If you haven't checked out her site, you totally should, Primal Peak.

On to the food!

Mustard Greens Salad
1 bunch Mustard greens (or Kale), chopped
1/2 White onion, sliced thin
Juice of 1 Blood orange
2 Tbls Rice wine vinegar
2-4 Tbls olive oil
Salt & Pepper
1/3 cup Dried cranberries
2 handfuls Pine nuts, toasted

In the bottom of a large bowl, combine blood orange juice, rice vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Whisk to combine.  Add onions to dressing and allow to marinate for a few minutes (this takes away the raw onion bite).  Add mustard greens, cranberries and pine nuts, toss to coat.  Eat!

Maple Chipotle Burgers
1 lb Grass-fed ground beef
1 Chipotle pepper
1 Tbls Adobo sauce
2 Tbls Maple syrup
2 Tbls Dijon mustard
Spash of chicken stock
1 tsp Garlic powder
1 tsp Cumin
Salt & Pepper

In a blender, combine all ingredients EXCEPT for beef.  Blend until smooth.  Add a little more chicken stock if you need more liquid.  Add mixture to ground beef and mix with your hands.  Form into patties (4).  Preheat grill pan over medium high heat.  Grill burgers for 3-4 minutes per side or until desired doneness.
Top with cheese if that's your thing.  Enjoy!

Sesame Chicken with Maple Mustard
1 1/2 lbs Chicken tenders
2 Eggs
1/2 cup Sesame seeds, ground
1 Tbls Italian seasoning
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
2 Tbls Maple syrup
Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 450.  Place a cooling rack over a baking sheet for baking.  This allows air to flow all around the tenders and make both sides crunchy at the same time.
In a small bowl whisk eggs, season with salt and pepper.  In another small bowl, combine sesame seeds and italian seasoning.  Coat chicken tenders with egg mixture and then with sesame seed mixture.  Place on prepared baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, or until cooked through.
While chicken cooks, in yet another small bowl, combine mustard and maple syrup, season with salt and pepper.  Dip chicken in mustard or drizzle over chicken on top of mixed greens!

Something I Didn't Make
Hail Merry Chocolate Almond Miracle Tart
Check this company out and search for it on your next trip to Whole Foods.  I found this in the refrigerated section next to the hot bar in my local store.  I have had their macaroons before, but I wasn't a fan.  This tart though? A-m-a-z-i-n-g!

Oh, you want to see what I eat when I'm really hungry and just need to get food into my stomach?  Boring!

Foodie Friday: One Pot Wonder

I am not a classically trained chef, actually I'm not trained at all, I went to the Kate school of cooking, which involved reading cookbooks, watching Food Network and spending hours in the kitchen because that's what I love to do.  Accountant by day, cook by night.  I make a ton of food, like almost every meal, but most of it never makes it to the blog.  But, the other day, when I posted that picture of what I ate for lunch, I was surprised at the response.  I saw my friend later that night and she said it looked awesome.  I thought it was pretty ordinary.  She said, "I would never think to mix maple syrup with mustard and coat chicken in sesame seeds."  So, below is one of those meals that I made thinking it wasn't worth much, but who knows, maybe it will become one of your go-to's since it's so easy.  Feel free to mix up the spices depending on what kind of sausage you use.  Happy Friday!

One Pot Wonder
3 lbs Sausage (I used 2 lbs chorizo, 1 lb spicy chicken italian), casing removed
1 Green pepper, diced
1 White onion, diced
1 head Cauliflower, riced
1 14.5 oz can Fire roasted diced tomatoes
1/2 cup Chicken stock 
4 cloves Garlic, minced
2 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Coriander
1 Bay leaf
Handful of parsley, chopped

In a large pot, melt a few tablespoons of coconut oil over medium heat. Add onions and green pepper, saute for 5 minutes.  Add garlic and saute for 1 minute more.  Move veggies to the side of the pot and add sausage to center.  Brown sausage on all sides.  Add cumin, coriander and bay leaf.  Stir everything in the pot together.  Add cauliflower, chicken stock and tomatoes.  Cover and simmer on low for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.  If mixture looks dry (depending on the size of your cauliflower) add more chicken stock.  
After 25 minutes, remove from heat, remove bay leaf, and stir in parsley.  Serve.  

Roasted Tomato Soup

I know this isn't the baked good recipe you were hoping for, but just know that they are coming.  I have been working on an Orange Marmalade Cake, 12 Layer Cake (at the request of a reader), and pastry dough (another reader request), I just don't think they are quite up to par.  Which means, I have been eating a lot of deserts recently!  I needed a break from that and made this soup for myself during my Sunday cook-up.  I stole that term from Melissa Joulwan over at The Clothes Make the Girl, and it is a life saver. I cook-up a bunch of protein and simply saute some veggies to have on hand for the week.  I usually add in a few extras, like maybe a spaghetti squash, tomato sauce or pulled pork.  This week, one of my add-ons was this soup. You can use any type of tomatoes you like, I used Roma since they were on sale, only $2.57 for 2.6 lbs.  So basically this soup cost me about $3.50, including the onion, garlic and chicken stock.  Add a grilled chicken thigh and it's a meal!

Roasted Tomato Soup
(Print Recipe)
2 2/3 lbs Tomatoes, halved
1 White onion, diced
4 cloves Garlic, chopped
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp Cayenne pepper
2 Bay leaves
1/2 cup Chicken stock
2 Tbls Basil, chopped
Salt and Pepper
Coconut oil
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place tomatoes cut side up on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper.  Roast tomatoes for 30 minutes.  While tomatoes are roasting, melt a dab of coconut oil in a large sauce pot over medium-low heat, add onion and garlic and saute until onions are translucent.  After 30 minutes transfer tomatoes from oven into pot with onions and garlic.  Add chicken stock, italian seasoning, cayenne and bay leaves.  Simmer on low for 30 minutes.  Pull out bay leaves and discard.  Working in batches if necessary, transfer your soup mixture to a blender or food processor and puree until you reach the desired consistency.  Return soup to pot and stir in basil.  Serve!

Note: You can substitute melted coconut oil for olive oil if you do not want to roast with it.  I enjoy the flavor and don't do it often so I don't have a problem.