Sunday, December 26, 2010

Menu Plan, Christmas to New Years Week Edition

We had a blessedly full marathon week. Fun with family, open presents, eat delicous food, repeat as necessary. And oh, did we repeat. Giftwise, I made out well in the kitchen appliances department - besides the aforementioned gift of a new toaster oven, I also received an ice cream maker and an immersion blender! I foresee a good deal of minimally-sweetened ice cream and creamy blended veggie soups in my future, once I get over the learning curve of using these.

Also a delightful surprise on Christmas, from my sister-in-law: A Vosges (= la-tee-dah French chocolate, pronounced vohzh) bar with itty bitty bits of bacon throughout. Unspeakably delicious.

The Sears oven repairman should be here tomorrow to install the new part that he ordered, so after three weeks without a functioning full size oven, I will be so grateful to be (hopefully!) roasting and baking again.

Having already practically maxed our food budget for the month, I look forward to eating as many leftovers and eggs as possible before I find myself in the position of having to grocery shop. Might even make it all the way to New Year's Day if we apply ourselves.

Breakfast - Toasted leftover Grain-Free Savory Country Biscuits via Life As A Plate, to mop up the runny yolks from some fried eggs. Very much recommend this biscuit recipe if you're looking for a savory bun/biscuit with a lot of flavor! (Thanks, AndreAnna!!)
Lunch - Leftover beef roast from my mother-in-law's Christmas dinner, soft-cooked carrots, leftover mashed potatoes from my mom
Dinner - Leftover slow-cooked chicken from Christmas Eve, in chicken salad form. Steamed artichokes with salted Kerrygold butter to dip. Clementines for dessert.

Breakfast - Mashed boiled eggs with Kerrygold butter
Lunch - Sauteed kale with bacon
Dinner - Cheesy spinach bacon dip (leftover from Christmas Day), rewarmed in a functioning oven, served with flax crackers.

Breakfast - Warm banana pudding
Lunch - Chicken soup with shallots and ginger
Dinner - Bacon and fried eggs

Breakfast - Omelette made with leftover cheese plate cheese and leftover veggie plate fresh cut peppers
Lunch - Any remaining leftovers, whatever form they may take
Dinner - Spaghetti squash with meaty marinara

Breakfast - Fried eggs and hash browns
Lunch - Creamy curried pumpkin soup, coconut bread for dipping
Dinner - Thawed/warmed cheesy chicken potato soup, leftover and subsequently frozen from Christmas Eve, plus more coconut bread for dipping

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Eve Dinner - Prep for Cheesy Chicken and Potato Soup

As I type this, the remains of a mirepoix simmer on the stove. The rest of the mirepoix has been ladeled over 3 chickens in 2 crockpots to cook on low overnight.

I'm adapting my mother-in-law's family tradition of potato soup at Christmastime. The original recipe, from her mother, called for skim milk and an irrational quantity of non-dairy creamer, which - you guessed it - is loaded with hydrogenated oils. In place of the skim and the non-dairy creamer, I'll use one or both of organic whole milk and/or organic heavy whipping cream.

The one neolithic ingredient of the soup that I'm willing to keep, especially since this recipe is a once-a-year thing, are cheese singles. In my mother-in-law's potato soup making heydey, she probably used Kraft; I'll be using Horizon organic singles for their stripped down ingredient list and smooth meltability.

For the mirepoix, I simmered salted Kerrygold butter, diced celery, diced white onions, diced carrots, halved mushrooms, minced parsley, and minced chives. Are you supposed to slow cook parsley and/or chives? I'm not sure, but I had a load of these fresh on hand because tomorrow I'm making AndreAnna's Grain-Free Savory Country Biscuits and at my grocery store you must buy about 10 times as much of the fresh parsley and chives as I'm planning to use in the biscuits. My extra bits of fresh celery and parsley have gone into a freezer bag for a future batch of broth or stock (see tips on making your own broth and stock here, and also here).

So, the to-do list for tomorrow, before we feed a crowd of 8 adults and 2 children dinner:
  • Grain-Free Savory Country Biscuits - in my convection toaster oven, the Christmas gift from my generous parents
  • Finish the Cheesy Chicken and Potato Soup - Remove 3 cooked chickens from the crockpots. Tear off the slow-cooked chicken meat into hearty chunks, add back into the broth in the crock pots. Add 1/2" cubes of potatoes to slow cook for a few hours more. Just before serving, add singles and stir to melt, along with by any cream or milk necessary.
I emailed tomorrow night's guests shamelessly soliciting primal-compatible indulgences for dessert and they gladly delivered, so dessert will be: nuts, chocolate, clementines. Yay for crockpot cooking and crowdsourcing making a (more or less) primal Christmas Eve a simpler task!

How are YOU adapting your Christmas Eve and Christmas Day celebration food to be more paleo / primal / gluten free / grain free / sugar free? If you're blogging about your adaptations, feel free to add your link!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Menu Plan, Christmas Week Edition

My oven is still (sob) out. A part had to be ordered which will be here - and thus the oven fixed - well after Christmas Day. I have been dying not being able to roast my veggies and meats because slow roasting is my go-to technique for surviving dinner planning with two kids under 3 underfoot.

But then a wonderful thing happened today. My mom and dad surprised us a week early with a Christmas gift: A rockin' toaster oven! It is roomy and has all sorts of fun functions, but most importantly I can do the cooking and baking that I planned to do this week! Since I'm hosting family Christmas Eve, it is such a relief to not have to totally revamp the menu to a crock-pot and stovetop only scenario. (I do have an old and rather small toaster oven, which will now be put out to pasture.) Thanks, Mom and Dad!

So here's the menu plan for this week.

Breakfast - Warm banana pudding topped with chopped walnuts
Lunch - Sliced cheese, cherries, fried eggs
Dinner - Beef pot roast, potatoes, veggies

Breakfast - Cottage cheese, fried cinnamon apples
Lunch - Leftover beef pot roast and veggies
Dinner - Cheddar and bacon quiche

Breakfast - Scrambled cheesy eggs
Lunch - Probably with friends at their house
Dinner - Baked chicken tenderloins, salad

Breakfast - Sausage, cheese, bananas for the girls
Lunch - Mashed boiled eggs, wasabi asparagus
Dinner - Spaghetti squash with meaty marinara

Friday/Christmas Eve:
Breakfast - Omelettes
Lunch - Yoghurt with honey, liverwurst, veggie sticks
Dinner - Chickens slow-cooked in the crock pot with vegetables, toaster oven baked sweet potatoes, Clementines, and my mom's bringing (gluten-free) peppermint meringues for a special treat

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Kerrygold (Pastured) Butter v. Organic Grain-Fed Butter

Pic not edited for color or contrast.

I had a little each of Kerrygold (which is from pastured cows) and organic butter (from grain-fed cows) which I had been integrating into the sweet potatoes that I brought for Thanksgiving. Look how the Kerrygold is practically glowing, nay, bioluminescent with the beta carotene and the fat-soluble goodness that comes from pastured cattle's cream. Meanwhile the grain-fed sample, quite literally, pales in comparison.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Menu Plan: A Chocolate / Coffee Abstention

I have some loooong overdue dental work coming up in a couple of weeks. Basically some bonds that had aged need to be replaced, but guess what? Once a bond is set in your mouth, it has a 5 year life, more or less. Whatever color the dentist chooses for your bond, therefore, is the brightest possible color that bond is destined to be for 5 years, because you cannot "tooth whiten" the composite used for bonds (as I understand it, the same composite used to make white fillings). Ironically, bonds can stain slowly with time (as with coffee, wine, etc.), but there's no simple way to whiten a bond short of replacing it. This means that if I whitened my teeth with one of those commercial kits sold at, say, Target, I'd have some whiter teeth - but the bonds would stay their original color and stick out like sore thumbs.

So, all that said, I took the opportunity and the offer from my dentist of a free tooth whitening before I get the new bonds installed. Do you know what this means? It means, for the next two weeks:
  • Nothing that stains teeth. No coffee, no red wine, no dark teas, no chocolate. While, amazingly, I have a hard time considering abstaining from these just for the fact that I maybe should not be having them every day - I have no problem with the idea of abstaining for a two week period while my teeth are being whitened. I am not going to mess up the 5 years that I'll be wearing these soon-to-be installed new bonds - and so am going for optimum results.
  • I have these custom-molded trays in my mouth for a minimum of 4-6 hours each evening (or overnight). So basically, as soon as my husband arrives home and we get the girls in bed, I'm wearing this fabulous-looking implement for the entire evening...for the next two weeks.
Ergo, my biggest vices (coffee with heavy creamer, and dark chocolate) are off the menu for two weeks, as is polite evening conversation with my husband. I know, I know: who has the bright idea to schedule this kind of scenario in the two weeks before Christmas? But truth was: it was the only time that it could happen - and it just may save me some carbs and calories, maybe even more this time of year than other times.

(This doesn't really affect my general menu plan for the week. It does, however, give you an idea if you've been trying to shake a chocolate bender for a while: set yourself up for some expensive long-term-implications dental work that involves a couple of weeks of tooth whitening prep.)

And, by the way: my oven is still kaput, at least for the next week. Crockpot and stovetop cooking are the name of the game.

Here's the menu plan for the week:

Breakfast - Bananas, whole milk
Lunch - Eggs and bacon
Dinner - Crock pot tamari chicken thighs (Nature's Promise chicken drumsticks and thighs on sale at Giant this week)

Breakfast - Stir-fried bok choy, mashed boiled eggs
Lunch - Intermittent fast, perhaps
Dinner - Crock pot garlic ginger pork loin (pork loin's on sale at Giant) with cabbage and leeks

Breakfast - Banana cinnamon whole milk yoghurt smoothie (maybe with some whey protein in my case)
Lunch - Veggie soup with leftover pork loin, maybe seasoned with some star anise
Dinner - NY Strip (on sale at Giant this week), cut into pieces, marinated, stir-fried on the stovetop, topped with gorgonzola and tossed on a salad

Breakfast - Persimmons slow-cooked overnight in the crockpot, topped with autumn spices and Kerrygold and/or heavy cream (Persimmons are on sale at Giant this week!), prosciutto
Lunch - Scrambled eggs with gorgonzola
Dinner - Leftovers, whatever they may be

Breakfast - Cheese, sliced apples and almond butter
Lunch - Curried pumpkin soup
Dinner - Maybe out somewhere, like a Chipotle steak salad bol, or a bunless Five Guys burger? In any case it will result in meat and veggies, most likely :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Lunchbox #35

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Leftover creamy tomatoes and squash, with slices of nitrate-free ham
  • Clementine
  • Baby carrots

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Lunchbox #34

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Caprese salad: halved cherry tomatoes, rBGH free mozzarella
  • Fried egg (in pieces)
  • Almond butter (for apple dipping)
  • Laughing Cow cheese
  • Apple slices

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Oven OUT

Last night my oven's heating element suddenly pooped out. Wow, that throws my oven-oriented winter menus for a loop! I haven't figured out what I'm doing menu-wise yet this week (and it is driving me a little crazy...). Suddenly I have to contemplate some more stove-top friendly meals because I'm not efficient enough to get my crockpot cleaned out every night of the week. :)

Lunchbox #33

Today, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Leftover roast chicken
  • Leftover mashed sweet potatoes with cinnamon
  • Ghirardelli chocolate
  • Leftover roasted Brussels sprouts
  • Caprese salad: halved cherry tomatoes, rBGH free mozzarella, fresh basil

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Primal / Paleo Grain-Free Gluten-Free Birthday Party Menu (That Even NonPrimal NonPaleo Company Enjoyed!)

See notes on this cake and The Food Lovers' Primal Palate recipe link here.
We recently hosted a first birthday party for my youngest daughter. Definitely wasn't a low-carb party, but it was still grain-free and there were plenty of low-carb options. We even had a guest from out of town who also eats to manage insulin, and she and I commiserated a bit about our long-term dynamics with avoiding wheat and sugar because of how they affect us physiologically and psychologically - refreshing for me because sometimes, a face-to-face chat with another living breathing human who attests to similar experiences gives me renewed resolve. We even talked almond butter and I sent her home with a single serving packet of Justin's Classic Almond Butter.

Here's the scoop on what was on the menu when we celebrated:

Caprese Skewers: I dreamt these up (though I'm sure they've been "done" in multiple iterations before). They are terrific eye-candy on a spread for company because of the multicolor/multitexture appeal. Take one cherry tomato (I had both red and yellow cherry tomatoes), skewer on a toothpick, top with a thumbprint-sized piece of fresh basil and a chunk of fresh mozzarella.

Crustless Quiches: Pick your "elements". Could be sauteed onions and/or peppers, sausage, bacon, shredded or raw cheeses. (I did sausage, bacon, and cheese.) Grease 12 paper cupcake liners with spray olive oil. Place 1-2 tablespoons of elements in the bottom of cupcake liners. Mix 1 cup of dairy (my choice is heavy cream) with 6 eggs and seasonings of choice (I used 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. ground nutmeg, and 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning mix). Pour egg/cream mix over elements in the cupcake liners. Bake for ~35 minutes at 350 F. Can be served chilled or at room temp.

Veggie Tray: Bought at Sam's. Carrots, cauliflower, baby peppers, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, ranch dip. Took out of container and put into fancier dishes. 'Nuff said.

Pistachios: Yum.

Almond-stuffed Dates: Exactly what they sound like. A quickly-assembled crowd-pleaser.

Individually-Wrapped Ghirardelli Chocolates, including Dark: Ditto to almond-stuffed dates.

A Dark Chocolate Fountain: Fuelled with Ghirardelli bittersweet and Enjoy Life semisweet (allergen-free) chips, pastured butter, and Nutiva coconut oil all melted together. For dipping:
  • Clementines
  • Honeydew Melon
  • Strawberries
  • Blackberries
Brussels Sprout Pops: Recipe here. Love these 'cause they're not heavily time-dependent because of slow-roasting in the oven. They are ready when you are!

Spiral-sliced Ham: Brought by my parents. Thanks, Mom & Dad! :)

And of course, the above pictured coconut flour based chocolate cake, courtesy of The Food Lovers' Primal Palate, along with some vanilla ice-cream. This cake garnered many compliments! (Thanks, Hayley and Bill!) I think many folks never even suspected that it didn't involve wheat. I made two of this recipe's double-layer cakes to feed our crowd of 23, but ended up with about three quarters of one cake left over. It is so rich and satisfying - even a small slice really hits the spot!

But, ack: We had forgotten about the shrimp cocktail tray that we had left to stay cool in the fridge! Oh, well. :)

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. Thanks for supporting Primal Kitchen at no additional cost to you!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Lunchboxes #30, #31, and #32

Good gravy, this is kind of embarassing.
I had to photo the lunchboxes this week using my Droid's camera because my Canon SLR's memory card is full after months of pictures - and I haven't yet archived them in my backup storage, so I hate to delete.

So, I thank you in advance for your tolerance of the bad lighting and lower picture quality. On the other hand, maybe it will make future SLR shots look that much better. :)

Tuesday, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • 2 Clementines
  • 2 slices cheddar
  • Leftover roast duck
  • Cottage cheese
  • Baby carrots

Wednesday, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Leftover spaghetti squash with ground beef and Trader Joe's organic vodka sauce
  • Apple (halved)
  • After Eight dinner mint

Thursday, my preschooler's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Baby carrots
  • 2 slices cheddar
  • Almonds, After Eight dinner mint
  • Half apple
  • Sliced avocado, which I nearly accidentally killed myself slicing, and which she did not eat. (Sigh.)
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