Sesame seed encrusted Salmon salad with Creamy Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette

Since getting a new grill for my birthday, Mike and I have been grilling something or other almost every single night! This salad is quick, easy, and incredibly delicious!  Start to finish, it takes me less than 20 minutes to create and has become a go-to in our house for weeknight meals.  The Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette is delicious and I usually make extra to carry with me in my purse for lunches out.

Sesame seed encrusted salmon

Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette: Ingredients

1/2 cup olive oil

1 TBS toasted sesame seed oil

1 clove garlic

1 inch knob fresh ginger

2 TBS coconut aminos

2 TBS rice vinegar

1 tsp honey

1/4 tsp prepared mustard

S/P to taste

Directions:

1.) Place all ingredients into a container and blend.  I find that my immersion blender whips up the creamiest version of this vinaigrette that won’t separate.  For a more traditional vinaigrette, grate ginger and mince garlic and then emulsify.

Sesame seed encrusted Salmon salad: Ingredients

1/4 cup sesame seeds

2 tsp red pepper flakes

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

6 cups mixed greens

2 large carrots

1 ounce shaved romano cheese

2 (6 ounce) wild salmon fillets

Directions:

1.) Pre-heat grill on medium heat.

2.) Mix greens with shaved carrots.  Shave romano cheese over the top of the salad.  Set aside.

3.) Mix sesame seeds, s/p. and red pepper flakes.  Coat salmon fillets with mixture.

4.) Grill on both sides for 5 minutes.  Depending on how hot your grill gets, it should be medium rare in the middle.

5.) Serve on top of salad and enjoy!

Paleo Sonoma Chicken Salad

Chicago has been horrible this winter.  Snow so formidable that I’m afraid to drive the two miles to the grocery store.  Cold so fierce that I literally spent three days in my house, until I literally couldn’t stand it any longer- and I’m from Minnesota!

You would think that it would have resulted in a burgeoning of this blog, as I filled your news feed with stories of my snow induced cooking.  However, hibernation seems to have had an all encompassing grip on my creativity and I’ve found myself recreating other bloggers’ recipes for most meals.  The light has also been fairly poor and so all of my food photos have been fairly cave-like and unappetizing.

However, I have been loving this easy recipe that I recreated based on an non-paleo favorite of mine.  It’s hearty and filling and easy to transport for lunch.  I love the creamy, semi-sweet taste of the mayo with the firm crunchy of the celery and sweet burst of the grapes.  It makes enough for four large servings.

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Ingredients:

4 Large Chicken Breasts

2 Cups Grapes

1 Cup Packed Pecan Halves

3 Stalks Chopped Celery

3/4 Cup Homemade Paleo Mayo

1.5 Tablespoon Honey

1 Teaspoon Poppy Seeds

1 Teaspoon Salt

1/2 Teaspoon Pepper

Directions:

1.) Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare the chicken breasts with the salt and pepper from the recipe.  Cook for 40 minutes.

2.) Chop celery, half grapes and pecans (if needed).

3.) Cube chicken and add to celery, grapes and pecans.  Combine Mayo with honey and add to mixture.  Add poppy seeds.

4.) Chill for 1 hour before serving.

A Paleo Baby Shower

My sister is having a baby girl in November!  She is the first grand-baby in the Morris household and we are all over the moon!  In honor of our lovely, literary Amy, my mom and I decided to throw baby girl a children’s book themed shower.  When I talked with Amy about it, she told me that she wanted me to be able to eat everything at the shower.  And thus, a Paleo Children’s Book Baby Shower was born.

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We used this theme and template from Martha Stewart.  Ex-con or not, she is still about as picture perfect as they come!  I wanted the food to be pink and dreamy, whimsical and playful.  I spent weeks going through websites and books, picking out the best recipes.  Three weeks before, I bought Danielle Walker’s amazing new cook book and my menu suddenly flew together.

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Amy’s Paleo Shower:

Strawberry Shortcake Meringue Cupcakes

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Dark Chocolate Fudge Brownies (in Danielle’s book)

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Watermelon Arugula and Feta Salad

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Almond Thyme Crackers and Baked Brie (from Roost Blog)

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Black Mission Fig Jam (in Danielle’s book)

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Lemony Apple Carrot Bombs (from The Urban Poser)

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It was so beautiful.  Friends and family from all over Minnesota came to celebrate our new life!  Our Grandma came with a cozy sleeper and Mary Poppins themed gift.  My younger sister flew in from Chicago and surprised my mom and sister!  The mother of the family Amy nannied for as a teenager came with a book from France that Amy had bought for them as a nanny.  Stories of love and encouragement were paired with the most delicious grain-free, sugar-free spread this side of the St. Croix.

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Needless to say, we can’t wait for little girl Williams to appear on the scene in November!  And when she does, she is going to have so many fun new books to greet her and hopefully, a taste for Paleo cooking!

 

The Best SCD/Paleo Chili you have ever tasted!

This delicious savory, spicy and sweet chili is the culmination of over a year of fairly tragic SCD legal chilis.  No really.  Everyone send Mike an air-five for being a champ and eating burned, bland, s0-hot-your-nose runs, oh and did I mention bland, chilis.  However, by painstaking trial and error, I have created the BEST chili recipe!  It reminds me of Fresh Fields chili, if anyone remembers the tiny yet incredible diner, in tiny yet incredible Stillwater, Minnesota.   Hands down, this is the best SCD/Paleo chili I have tried.  I started with this recipe from Paleo Pot and it evolved from there.  Credit where credit is due, the Paleo Pot recipe was great but not sweet or substantial enough for an entire meal.

So far we have served it a bunch of ways- plain, over spaghetti squash, over cauli-rice, with Roost Blog’s Almond Thyme Crackers, with onion and avocado, with cheese, etc.  Try it out and let me know any fun new combos!

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Sweet and Spicy SCD/Paleo Chili Recipe:
2 Bell Peppers (1 Orange, 1 Yellow is my favorite)
1 Red Onion
1 Yellow Onion
1 Jalapeno pepper (Leave half of the seeds in or adjust according to heat preference)
1 lb. Ground pork
1 lb. Ground sirloin
1/4-1/2lb. bacon
4 cups diced tomatoes
1/2 head of garlic (5-6 cloves)
1 TBS Cumin
1 TBS Cayenne Pepper
1 TBS cocoa (optional- remove to make SCD legal)
1 TBS salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp red chili flakes
1/4 cup honey
1 cup red kidney beans (pre-soaked according to SCD specifications)
1 cup water
Instructions:
1.) Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and place bacon strips evenly.  Cook for 9-12 minutes until finished cooking.  I love cooking bacon in the oven because it cooks evenly but feel free to cook in the skillet as well.
2.) Brown the pork and beef.  Strain the fat and set aside.
3.) Cook all of your veggies to roughly the same size.  It doesn’t have to be perfect because you’re going to put half of them in your food processor or blend after cooking.
4.) Combine the spices in a separate bowl.  Add all of the veggies, beans and meat to your crock pot.  Add the water, spices, and honey and cook on low for 8 hours.
5.) Remove the top and stir to combine.  Take roughly half of your mixture (about 5 cups) and blend it in your food processor.  Add the un-blended portion to the blended portion and stir to combine.
6.) Serve and enjoy!  We like it with avocados, served over spaghetti squash, with grated cheese on the top or just plain.  Yum!

Little Dipper’s Homemade Barbeque Sauce

Success for the Little Dipper!

 

When I was little, I lived in a small rural farming town in southern Minnesota where my dad served as a pastor of a small United Methodist church.  My grandparents would come and visit us and on those occasions, we’d frequent one of the two restaurants in town.  More often or not, we’d opt for “Daniel’s” over “Burger King”.  It was on one such excursion to “Daniel’s” that I received one of my most enduring nicknames.  I couldn’t have been more than three.  I was sitting next to my Grandpa Marlowe when I noticed him place a large blob of ketchup on his plate.  Seeing my gaze, he responded by plopping a large dollop on mine as well.  Giving me a mischievous smile he said “Look, Alli, like this!”  With that he dipped his finger into the ketchup and licked it off.  I was spell bound.  And the rest is food dipping history.

Growing up, I dipped all of my food.  To a disgusting event.  When there wasn’t food to be dipped, I would eat the condiment with a spoon or by scooping it up with my fingers.  “Little Dipper” was a charitable term for what became an obsession.  Alli had to have her sauce!  Even as an adult I would ask for 3-4 BBQ packets- not one, my own ketchup bottle- not a small cup and covered everything I could think of with a thick layer of sweet and spicy goodness.

SCD was a rude awakening.  My second day after the intro diet, I tried to make BBQ and failed miserably.  I wasn’t deterred and have made at least 20 variations of BBQ over the past year.  While I may not have tried every SCD recipe out there, I have sampled a great deal of them to frustrating ends.

Enter the hero of the story.  He scales large buildings in a single bound.  He consumes large tombs of theology without falling asleep once.  He keeps his jokes about yoga to a minimum AND he likes cats better than dogs.  But even more significant than all of these virtues is the fact that he alone created the perfect SCD BBQ sauce.  Without Mike Niebauer, Little Dipper’s Homemade Barbeque Sauce would not exist.

He gave me the recipe and the first batch for Christmas this past year.  It is the perfect combination of sweet and savory with a little bit of kick.  Delicious and authentic tasting, I wouldn’t be able to tell it from commercial BBQ.  It is in fact, the perfect BBQ sauce.  Best of all, it’s incredibly simple to make!  Mike Niebauer, you got it goin’ on.

Little Dipper’s BBQ Sauce 

  • 1 Can of Organic Tomato Juice (32 oz each)

  • ¾ Cups Apple Cider Vinegar

  • 1 tsp. onion powder

  • 3 ¾  tsp. salt

  • ½  tsp. all spice

  • ½  tsp ground cloves

  • ½  tsp. cinnamon

  • ½  tsp. garlic powder

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 ½ Tlb. Yellow mustard

  • 1/8  tsp paprika

  • ¼ tsp ground cayenne pepper

  • Dash of chili powder

  • 1/3 cup honey

  • 1 ¾ tsp. liquid smoke (I use Wright’s, it’s SCD legal)

Directions:
1. Combine all ingredients, except for honey, liquid smoke in a large pot.
2. Simmer for 3-4 hours until very thick, stirring occasionally, more so as it thickens.
3. Turn off heat. Remove bay leaves.
4. Add liquid smoke. Stir well.
5. Transfer to a blender and puree well.

Pineapple and Prosciutto Pizza with Cauliflower Crust

SCD Legal  Hawaiian Pizza

SCD Legal Hawaiian Pizza

Game night is not game night without pizza.  For the past year, I have tried over ten different ways to recreate our past carb loving, cheese indulging, gut wrenching, no holds barred game night with very little success.  While our game closet continue to over-floweth with pretty much every Euro game (and expansion) out there, we usually opt for ordering Papa John’s for Mike and the guys while I eat something awesome.  Like a salad.

The problem with SCD legal pizzas is almost universally the crusts.  Almond flour is too dense, has the wrong texture and gets too soggy in the middle even if it is pre-baked.  A combo of different nut flours gives a dry, lifeless crust that tastes bland and biscuitty.  I honestly thought I just wouldn’t be able to enjoy pizza ever again.

Not any more!  I’ve also been reading about cauliflower crusts for the past year but been too skeptical to try it out.  Shame on my doubting heart, it is AWESOME!  This recipe is by no means terribly original as I’m sure it’s an amalgamation of other recipes but it is incredibly tasty, crunchy, and crusty.  Welcome to my version of Hawaiian pizza!

Ingredients (cauliflower crust):

  • 3 cups finely grated cauliflower (about 1 medium sized head)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup cheese (I used 1/2 adagio and 1/2 muenster)
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Italian blend (I mix evenly basil, thyme, sage and oregano)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Ingredients (pizza filling):

  • 1/2 cup pizza sauce (I used SCD legal Lucini’s.  They carry it at Whole Foods)
  • 1 cup cheese (again, I used 1/2 adagio and 1/2 muenster)
  • 1 can pineapple (make sure they are SCD legal and canned in their own juice)
  • 6 strips of prosciutto (make sure to look at the ingredients as many contain illegals.  Trader Joe’s carries a legal type)

Instructions:

    1. After washing the cauliflower, use a hand grater to grate three cups of cauliflower into an oven safe bowl.  You could use a food processor but I find that it makes the cauliflower “wetter”.
    2. Pre-heat the over to 450 degrees and put the cauliflower in until it is tender but not mushy (about 5-7 minutes once oven is warm).  You could use a microwave for this but I think microwaves are weird so…
    3. Take cauliflower out and combine all ingredients in the bowl until well mixed.  Grab a pizza pan and spread out your parchment paper.
    4. Scoop your cauliflower mix onto the parchment lined pizza pan.  At this point, don’t expect it to feel like dough.  It won’t really be sticking together enough for you to form it into a ball and that’s ok!  Using your hands, fashion it into a circle on the parchment paper so that it looks like a pizza crust.
    5. Pop it into the over for 15-17 minutes until the crust is golden brown.
    6. Remove it from the oven and spread pizza sauce and the rest of the ingredients over the pizza.

Turn the oven up to broil and put the pizza in for 3-4 minutes until the cheese is bubbling.  Remove and serve right away

Before the oven

Before the oven

After the oven

After the oven

Before the cheese

Before the cheese

After the cheese

After the cheese

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It turned out delicious.  Both Mike, Kara and I thought that if you didn’t know it was cauliflower, you wouldn’t have been able to tell!

 

 

 

 

 

Happy gaming and happy pizza night!

Surviving February: Slow Cooker Pineapple and Chili Pulled Pork

February is hands down, the worst month of the year for mid-westerners.  It manages to simultaneously never end and speed by, giving the poor chump stuck in a mid-west induced haze of flu, stress, and blizzards, the feeling of slow motion whip lash.  You know it’s happening, but you can’t do anything about it.  Mid-westerners, we are the true survivors.

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Fortunately, February also gives me this frenzied craving for all things tropical.  I window shop for dresses without sleeves and blush inducing lengths.  At work, I keep my sanity while holding on the phone by clicking on EVERY SINGLE travel “get-away” package that I see.  And I make a series of tropical inspired dishes that give me the illusory feeling of controlling my own destiny.  Maybe if I eat enough pineapple. I too will win Travelocity’s “Romantic Caribbean Get-Away” sweepstakes.

It hasn’t happened.  But March is here.  It’s sunny today and I am happy to post pictures of mouthwatering Caribbean spiced pork turned mid-western by virtue of the crock-pot.  I snagged the recipe off of paleopot.com and was glad I did.  The sweetness of the pineapple and the heat from the chilies made me ignore the blizzard outside.  I was so absorbed in the meal I didn’t even notice the snow plow, dutifully stacking snow around my little Vibe, making it impossible to leave.

Maybe getting stuck inside isn't such a bad thing after all...

Maybe getting stuck inside isn’t such a bad thing after all…

Homemade Mayo and the glory that ensues

This is the part of the story where the hero decides that enough is enough and it’s time to kick some butt!  If you like that part of the story, read on.  Disclaimer, I am the hero in this story.  Well, me and my kitchen aid mixer but that’s a given.

When I started the Specific Carbohydrates Diet back  in May 2012, I was used to eating lots of creamy, delicious dressings and spreads and I was determined that changing my diet wouldn’t change that.  This was illogical for a number of reasons, the biggest being that I was brand new to this kind of cooking and pretty unconfident in the kitchen.  Still, two weeks in I decided to try a ranch dressing that called for 1/2 a cup of mayo.  The result was a running, eggy tasting mess and a sugar-withdrawal, prednisone induced cry.  About a month and a half later I tried a garlic aioli.  Aioli is mayo made with olive oil.  The running, non-cohesive result led me to the conclusion that mayo was not in my wheelhouse and that I should stick to apple cider vinaigrette.

This February, a promotion at work has left me scrambling for time to cook.  I think I have been more of less living off of almond thyme crackers and cheese.  And, the salad bar at Whole Foods where the most delicious tuna salad in the whole world gave me the courage to try again.  Here is how I did it.

Ingredients:                                                                              

Lenten Celebration.

Tuna Salad

  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of cayenne (optional)
  • 1 cup canola oil*

Instructions:

  1. I separated the egg yolks from the whites.  I froze the egg whites for use later.  To the egg yolks I added the lemon juice, water and honey and carefully whisked in a small porcelain bowl.
  2. I used my sauce pan to heat about 3 cups of hot water until it was simmering.  I placed the porcelain bowl with the egg mixture into the sauce pan.  From here, I whisked the egg mixture constantly, heating until the egg mixture reached 135 degrees, measured with a candy thermometer.  Also, around 130 it started to thicken.  From here, I removed it from the heat and dipped the bottom in cold water to stop it from cooking and let it sit for 5 minutes to cool.  I think it’s pretty important to temper the eggs.  At 135, it will kill any bacteria present.
  3. I transferred the egg mixture to my kitchen aid mixture and started to whisk at a slow speed.  From here, I added the mustard, salt and cayenne.
  4. Now comes the tricky part.  Increasing the speed of the mixer, I slowly, almost drop by drop, added the oil down the side into the egg mixture.  The egg mixture has to “hold” the oil and so it needs to be slow.  Continue until the oil is gone.
  5. Refrigerate for 5-10 minutes until cold.  And you’ve got some homemade mayo!

*I know there is a lot of debate in the SCD community about canola oil and its safety.  If you have concerns, feel free to substitute peanut oil or olive oil.

So creamy!  So fluffy!  So delicious!  And best of all, it enabled some truly awesome meals this week!  First out much further ado:

Tuna Salad Ingredients:

  • 2 cans of tuna, packed in water with nothing added
  • 4 T. diced celery
  • 5 T. high quality mayonnaise
  • 2 T. Dijon or other good mustard
  • 1-2 t. finely chopped dill
  • 1 T. honey
  • 1/4 t. cayenne (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

1.  So simple.  Just mix it up and chill.  Serve with lettuce, on a sandwich or by itself!  Yum!

I followed 101 Cookbooks recipe for Egg Salad and served it with Almond Flour and Thyme Crackers.  It was great!  I would have loved it on cashew bread as well.

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Bacon Wrapped Dates and Chipotle Mayo Ingredients:               

This little piggy had bacon wrapped dates

This little piggy had bacon wrapped dates

  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • 1/4 t. chipotle chili mayo
  • 1 T. lemon
  • 2 t. finely diced jalapeno pepper
  • 1 small clove of garlic, minced
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 5 strips bacon
  • 10 medjool dates

Instructions:

1. Blend all mayo ingredients together and chill.  Delicious!

2. Cut 5 strips of bacon in half.  Wrap ten medjool dates in the bacon and cook for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

To conclude.  The hero succeeded and was not defeated by soul-less food and made many delicious dishes and lived happily ever after.  The End.

Butternut Squash Lasagna

Butternut squash lasagna isn’t terribly original.  In fact I’m pretty sure I’ve seen Rachel Ray do it, which means I usually pass but in this case I decided I’d give it a go.  Every gluten-free, paleo, low-carb blogger seems to have their own recipe.  I wanted to try and incorporate some signature “SCD” foods into mine, such as my homemade goat milk yogurt and favorite store bought (but still SCD legal) marinara.

I was really happy with the result!  It was hearty and the squash “noodles” held up very well.  Mike and I both agreed that similar to pasta lasagna, it actually tasted better re-heated!  I’ll definitely be making this again soon!

Butternut Squash Lasagna

Butternut Squash Lasagna

Butternut Squash Lasagna– cook in 10.5 by 7.5 inch pan

 Ingredients:

  • 1 medium butternut squash (Try to get one with a long “neck”)
  • ½ cup SCD Yogurt (Goat milk yogurt is my favorite for this recipe)
  • ½ lb. ground beef
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (I like havarti, aged cheddar, and goat cheddar)
  • 1 TBS basil
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp chili powder
  • 2 cups SCD legal marinara sauce (I use Lucini)
  • 2 TBS coconut oil

 Instructions:

    1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  Place squash in oven for 10 minutes to soften before removing.  Continue to heat oven.
    2. Mix together all spices.  This will make about 4 TBS of spice.
    3. Combine ground beef with 1 TBS of spice mixture.  Mix well, using hand to combine if necessary.
    4. Heat 1 TBS of coconut oil in a 10-inch skillet.  When hot, add ground beef and brown, stirring to prevent burning.  Decrease heat to medium to avoid burning if necessary.  Once it has finished cooking, drain oil and fat.  Keep warm.
    5. Remove squash from oven.  Use mandolin to slice squash into long pieces, approximately ¼ inch thick and 4-5 inches long.  If you don’t have a mandolin slicer, use knife to slice thinly.  You will need enough slices to create 3 layers of “pasta”.  How many slices you need will vary, depending on the size of your squash.
    6. Use the second TBS of coconut oil to coat the bottom of your pan, so that the first layer of “pasta” does not stick to the bottom.
    7. Assemble your lasagna!
      • First a layer of butternut squash
      • Next, spread a thin layer of yogurt followed by a layer of cheese
      • Sprinkle 2 tsp of your spice mixture
      • Add a portion of the ground beef
      • Top with about ¾ cup marinara
      • Repeat!
      • After you have three layers of squash, conclude with adding a final layer of cheese after the marinara
    8. Bake in oven at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes.  Serve while hot or refrigerate and re-heat.  The advantage of refrigerating and reheating is the squash will have absorbed more of the marinara, making it less saucy and more like lasagna.  Delicious either way!