Some of my favorite recipes are the most simple ones!
Delicious and comforting food is easy to cook and the only requirements really are using the ingredients and flavors that your family loves. During the cold weather season I love meals that I can prepare quickly so it won't take a lot of time to prep up on a week day. Even so there is always a way to make it prettier and to make it look festive so that at, dinner time, you can get some wow's from the kids and a round of applause from your family!
In the case of this Shepard's pie mini bowls you can simply cover the cooked meat and sauce mixture with the mashed potatoes but if you have a little bit of time and can use a pipping bag (I used a cut up Ziploc bag because I couldn't fin my pipping bag, so much for my organization skills!) to make it into pretty velvety mashed potato flowers! Just be sure to let the mash cool down a bit before doing this step so you won't end up burning your hands!
1 lbs ground beef (I used the one I got from Butcher Box)
1 medium sized sweet onion
1 garlic clove
1 medium can of natural tomato sauce
salt and pepper
freshly ground nutmeg
1 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp olive oil
I really make my mashed potatoes without measuring anything!
I'll steam my peeled potatoes in the InstaPot for about 10 minutes and, after getting the pressure out by the fast releasing method I mash them with a potato masher and add some almond milk, about a Tbsp of ghee (you can use regular milk and butter if you're not dairy-free). The amount of milk really depends on how runny or sturdy you like your mash - more runny means more milk and more sturdy requires less milk - just add a bit at a time so you can control the texture to your liking. In the end I season the mashed potatoes with salt, pepper and a bit of freshly ground nutmeg which, I think, gives it the perfect final touch. Like I said I didn't measure anything but I'd go with 1 lbs potatoes, 1 cup milk and 1 Tbsp ghee.
1 - Peel the potatoes and get them steaming on the InstaPot (use the rack to place the potatoes above the water and use about 1 cup of water) or on the stove top, depending on what method you prefer and usually go for. While the potatoes are cooking get the meat sauce going.
2 - Peel and finely dice the onion, the garlic clove and the carrot. Get the olive oil heating in a non-stick pan and add the onion first. Cook them for about 3 minutes until the onion starts changing color and becoming translucent. Add the garlic clove and the diced carrot and let cook for about 8 minutes.
3 - Remove the vegetables from the pan and set aside. Heat another Tbsp of olive oil and cook up thee ground meat until it gets these little brown and super tasty edges! Season the meat with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
4 - Add the previously cooked vegetables to the pan and mix everything together gently. Add the tomato sauce and about 1/2 cup of freshly chopped parsley. Mix and let this simmer for about 20 minutes in low heat. If you notice that your mix looks a bit dry just add a bit of bone broth or regular chicken broth to make it a bit more loose.
5 - While the meat sauce is simmering make the mashed potatoes. Turn off the InstaPot and remove the potatoes to a non-stick pot. Use a masher to get them mashed according to your taste, more chunky or smooth and add the milk and ghee. Season with salt, pepper and about half a tsp of freshly ground nutmeg. Heat this up for about 3 minutes and set aside in a bowl so it cools down a bit while you get everything together to assemble the mini bowls.
5 - Taste the meat sauce to make sure that it's at your taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.
6 - Get your assembly line going for the mini bowls or, if you prefer, you can also serve this Shepard's pie in a big roasting pan or deep dish. Place some of the meat sauce to fill about 2/3 of the cups and then use a pipping bag to spread the mashed potatoes on top.
7 - Get the Shepard's pie in the oven for about 5 minutes under the broiler making sure that you check it after this time to see if the top of the mashed potatoes gets brown but not burnt! We must always keep whatever we have under the broiler at plain sight because it really is a very quick process.
8 - Serve the Shepard's pie with some freshly chopped parsley on top to make it pretty and even more tastier!
This is a super comforting dish and it's the perfect family meal. It is also a very versatile dish and you can add or remove some of the ingredients to make this recipe your own - just add some green peas, cut green beans, peppers or sweet corn to give it a twist or use sweet potatoes for the mash and you can get dozens of variations of this recipe! It is a great recipe to use those turkey leftovers from Thanksgiving that's just coming up next week.
It is also a very good dish to make in double batches and freeze to keep at hand for those weeknights when you don't really feel like cooking or don't really have the time to do it. Wrap up each cup in plastic wrap or aluminium foil and identify each cup with the date of cooking and the oven temperature and cooking time just to make it even more practical.
This really is a favorite at my house and the kids absolutely love mashed potatoes so I'm trying to put up some more recipes with it so we can have a bit more diversity of meals with this super comforting staple.
As for myself, I'm thinking about a sweet potato casserole with nuts...it sounds just perfect!
Until then I'll also be planning some meals to prep for mid December. We'll be having my mother-in-law visiting from Portugal and I'll be trying out some new recipes because she is always ready to try new foods and she is a really foodie like myself, which makes her visit a really exciting time of the year...besides being the holidays and getting the kids to have their grandmother for 3 weeks all for themselves!
On this snowy day be warm and eat good food - that always sounds like a good advice!
What better way is there to welcome Fall then cooking up a hearty meal with pork chops and apples! It's a winning combination and with premium quality meat it just gets loads of extra points for flavor and tenderness of the meat!
I've recently got my first Butcher Box and I'm totally devoted to telling all about it to my friends and followers. Having a busy life is no longer an excuse for not getting high quality meat! With the Butcher Box subscription service you can get a box of 100% grass-fed, grass finished beef, heritage breed pork and free range organic chicken delivered to your doorstep every month or every other month, whatever option fits your family the best.
You can personalize your box and mix your favorite cuts of meat in order to fit it to your household and you can always choose some add on's like no-sugar bacon, which has been a staple at our house since I've done my first whole 30 program. I truly recommend this because with our busy schedule it can be hard to have the time to go to the butcher and buy great quality cuts of meat - with this service you are sure to get what you order and, if you're a meal planner like me, it just makes our life so much easier!
You know what cuts of meat you're getting so you can plan ahead and write down your meals for the week; apart from that you'll just need to make your produce list and make a run to the farmers market or your local supermarket to get the rest of your ingredients for the week's menu.
It'll come out at approximately $6/serving which is a great value for such high quality meat and, as you can see in my video that I'm sharing in the link below, the steaks are huge as are the pork chops, so you'll get a few meals out of those cuts! Also, the chicken breast comes in 3 pre-portioned packs so you can use them independently and cook them on your meal prep in different ways so you can have different options to choose from during the week. You can cook up some chicken soup with one of the packages and grill some strips for the week's lunches and lunchboxes and still be left with a package left!
On my first order, that I shared in this video, I got:
If you're interested in giving it a try and signing up to get to know a bit more about Butcher Box, just click here and, if you subscribe the service until the end of September, through my link, you'll get FREE ground beef for life!
How cool is that?
With this offer you'll get, with each box that gets delivered at your house, 2 lbs of 100% grass-fed and grass-finished ground beef for free! Just imagine the variety of meals you can cook up with ground beef, specially in the colder months: soups, chili, meatloaf, lasagna...so many options! So, don't waste a minute and click on the link above to get your offer but don't forget that you only have until September 30th to do it!
As soon as you get your first box you can try this recipe for yourself! Grab your Butcher Box now and start meal planning for the next month!
4 boneless pork chops (I used the "Butcher Box" heritage breed pork chops)
4 big white potatoes
1 small butternut squash (about 1+1/2 cup)
1 lbs Brussels sprouts
3 large Gala apples
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp smoked paprika
1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves
a few sage leaves for the pork
1 - Preheat the oven at 400 F.
2 - Prepare the vegetables to use them cover the baking sheet. Wash the potatoes and cut them in chunks, peel the butternut squash, remove the seeds and cute it in small pieces. Wash the Brussels sprouts , remove any damaged leaves and cut them in half or in quarters if they're too large. Try to have all the vegetables in same size pieces so they'll cook evenly.
3 - Place all the vegetables in a big mixing bowl and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and fresh thyme. Add 1 Tbsp of olive oil and mix everything in order to get a bit of it in all the vegetables; if necessary add some more. Add half of the paprika and give everything a last toss before transferring the vegetables to the baking sheet, previously brushed with olive oil.
4 - Wash the apples and cut them in fourths. Take out the core and seeds and slice them, keeping them in a bowl of water with lemon juice until placing them on the baking sheet, so they won't oxidize and turn brown. When the vegetables are on the baking sheet place the apple slices around the tray and between the vegetables, after removing them from the lemon water.
5 - Place the pork chops in a glass container or bowl and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika and thyme leaves. Add a bit of olive oil and the juice of 2 clementines and 1/2 lemon.
6 - Place the meat over the vegetables and cover it with any remaining juice. This will help the pork chops to cook without making them dry and keeping them juicy and with a lemon/orange hint flavor. Place some sage leaves on top of the pork chops and place the baking sheet in the oven. Cook for about 25 minutes or until the meat is cooked.
7 - For plating just take a bit of everything and slice the pork chops in medium slices. the ones I used were big, so 1 was enough for 2 people. Get the vegetables on the bottom of the plate, cover with the pork chop and sprinkle some freshly chopped cilantro for a hint of green. Use any remaining juices to drizzle over the meat.
This was the perfect recipe to welcome Fall of 2018! The roasted veggies, the flavorful and tender meat, the apples and the sage were a superb combination of warm and cozy flavors.
There's so much simplicity in sheet-pan meals that they really are one of my go-to's for busy schooldays - getting all the ingredients together and popping everything in the oven while everyone gets settled from school and sports activities is perfect!
No weeknight dinner stress and mommy gets a load of compliments on the healthy and hearty meals cooked for the whole family.
Just to give you a notion of the number of meals I got from this sheet pan dinner, it was enough for one meal for all of us, another for my lunch the next day and I still got three more individual servings out of it. All in all, 7 servings which was pretty good for the price that I payed for all the ingredients. That is one of the other reasons why I love sheet-pan dinners so much, they really stretch the food out!
Give it a try and let me know what you think of this recipe!
Happy Fall everybody!
Lets talk about a very particular organ meat - liver!
I, personally, love it and have been eating since I was a child. Back in Portugal my mom always cooked several kinds of organ meat, occasionally, like tongue, liver and kidneys and I've always appreciated eating those kind of dishes.
Some people find it having a very strong taste and, if you do so, you can always leave the liver soaking in milk for about an hour or two before cooking. This will soften the taste, for sure. I usually don't do that because I like it just as it is and so does my husband. The kids usually like it when I make it simple, just grilled, but today I'm trying them out with a mushroom gravy, so lets hope they like it too!
Having a diverse diet is very important in order to get all the vitamins and minerals that our body needs to keep functioning well, without any deficiency. Organ meats are particularly rich and they are the most concentrated source of almost every nutrient, including important vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and essential amino acids. Even if you usually don't buy this kind of meat give it a try and start be testing this recipe and see if you want too try the other meats as well. I'm trying to get some good quality kidneys and tongue, through my usual local butcher, so I can show you some recipes to incorporate them.
I also find it curious that I tend to cook up dishes like this during the colder season. They are easy to incorporate in comforting dishes that make up for a wholesome and nourishing family meal and that's what we are suppose to look for in a season where our body may be most susceptible to imbalances. They go very well with a variety of vegetables and make it easy to use sweet potato, broccoli rabe and cabbage as side dishes to help balance things out.
For this recipe I decided to use the oven to roast the carrots, a pot to boil the potatoes and a big pan to cook up the liver and onions. Also, a small pot for the gravy! This may seem like a lot of tools and equipment to go through but if you start roasting the carrots first, you'll be able to start the liver and onions and boil the potatoes at the same time, it's just a matter of getting everything together and in the same place so you have everything you need at hand.
You can also roast the potatoes alongside the carrots and that will be perfectly fine, too! I just prefer this way to cook the potatoes and the last time I cooked them my kids asked for seconds because they came out so good. It's a very simple but delicious side dish!
1 lbs fresh liver
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 large onions
2 garlic cloves
2 mushroom gravy cubes (I used this ones, from ...)
2,5 cups water
1/2 lb Bella mushrooms
BOU mushroom gravy (check it out, here)
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 Tbsp freshly chopped parsley
1 bunch of carrots
1-2 Tbsp honey (I used the Bee Seasonal "Aroeira" variety)
1.5 lbs small potatoes
Salt and 1 tsp garlic powder season the potatoes
1 - Start by preheating the oven to 400 F.
2 - Wash the carrots and cut out any bad buts that you might find. If you're using a bunch of carrots, like I did, take some time to wash the greens thoroughly because they can be really earthy and you have to get all of that dirt out. Pat them dry and place the carrots on a baking sheet - season with salt, garlic powder and brush or spray with some olive oil. Cook for about 35 minutes.
3 - After placing the carrots in the oven start cooking the other components of this dish. Get a medium pot filled with water, add some coarse salt and boil the potatoes for about 15-18 minutes, checking the tenderness of the potatoes with a fork to check when their cooked. Strain the potatoes and add about 2 Tbsp of freshly chopped parsley, tossing the potatoes around the pot so that the herb gets evenly distributed throughout all the potatoes.
4 - Cut the liver into strips and cook them in a non-stick pan, coated with some olive oil. Cook the liver in batches not to overcrowded the pan and season the meat with salt, garlic powder and freshly ground pepper.
5 - While the meat is cooking cook up the gravy in a small pot. Add 2.5 cups of water, 2 cubes of BOU mushroom gravy and turn on the heat, on medium, until the cubes start dissolving into the water to form the gravy. At this point you'll have to whisk it to make sure yo son't get any lumps in the gravy. Turn the heat off and return to the meat.
6 - Remove the cooked meat to a glass container or plate and add some more olive oil to the pan to cook the onions. Saute the sliced onion and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and fresh thyme leaves - I absolutely love thyme so I use a lot of it, just use the amount you're use to and you'll get a pretty flavorful caramelized onion. It took me about 15 minutes to cook the onions, in medium heat.
7 - In a big pot place the cooked liver strips, the onions and the gravy. Mix this all together and cook it up a bit more, in slow heat, for about 20 minutes. Check the seasonings and rectify, if needed. I just added a few more sprigs of thyme.
All you have left to do is drizzle the warm roasted carrots with the honey for a sweet touch and your meal is ready to plate.
I found the sweetness of the carrots to pair perfectly well with the distinctive taste of the liver meat. It is a perfect combination and adding perfectly boiled and aromatic small potatoes just makes this meal even more amazing!
This recipe will be on my go-to list for cold weather meals and I'm already thinking about some more comforting meals to whip up and show on the blog. Soup and stew season is upon us so I guess I'll be sharing some yummy suggestions for our fall welcoming in the upcoming weeks.
What about you?
Do you and your family like eating liver and incorporating it into your family meals? I'd love to know what you think and, if you happen to give this recipe a try, please let me know what you though of it!
The weather has been changing around here and the cooler days had me craving a warm and cozy bowl of rice and beans! On a rainy day what can be better than sitting on the couch with a warm meal made from wholesome and natural ingredients?
Most of the times I find simple recipes to be the best ones - they are so effortless but yet so rich and tasty! Another thing that makes me life easier during the week, and specially on the colder months, is my Instant Pot. I love it and use it all the time to steam vegetables, cook up a batch of soup or make delicious stews and dishes like this one.
Some people have been asking me about my Whole30 experience and if I'm still eating the same way now. I'm not - however, I've changed my relationship with food, which was one of my main goals by doing it as well as finding trigger foods for my chronic migraines.
I don't use food as an emotional backup and I can perfectly control what I eat without feeling pressured or deprived: I eat what I feel like eating and the only thing that still is somewhat forbidden to me are chips...I seem to have to eat them if I have them around, so the trick is NOT to have them around, it's as simple as that! It is not only because I feel like I can eat a lot of chips at once but also the fact that, after eating them, I don't feel that well and that is enough of a reminder that they are not good for me and so, I should stay away from them!
And now, the recipe for this scrumptious and simple meal.
1 pack of spicy sausages
1 cup basmati brown rice
2 large carrots
3 celery stalks
1 small can of red beans
4 cups + 1/2 cup bone broth (I used the "Osso Good Bones" classic variety)
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
1 tsp Primal Palate Jerk Seasoning
freshly chopped parsley
organic fresh spinach leaves
1 - Start by peeling the carrots and chopping them into bite size pieces. Wash and cut the celery stalks into small pieced and add these vegetables to the stainless steel pot, from the Instant Pot.
2 - Add the basmati brown rice and about 1/2 chopped parsley to the pot and season with the spices, salt and pepper.
3 - Cover all the ingredients with the bone broth and give them a stir to get everything well combined.
4 - Put the cover on the pot and seal it until you hear the lock sound. Place the vent attachment in the cooking position and set the Instant Pot on the Rice mode for 15 minutes.
5 - While the rice is cooking cut the sausage into medium sized pieces and saute in a non-stick pan. I didn't use any fat because the sausage has enough fat that gets released during the cooking process.
6 - After the "Rice" program has ended use the quick release method to release all the pressure from the inside of the pot and when the valve drops it is safe for you to open the lid. Open and check that the rice is cooked; if it needs a bit more time to cook just close the lid again and let the rice sit for another 5 minutes, it should be enough to get it a bit softer.
7 - Serve up this comforting dish in a bowl and add some extra veggies if you like! In my bowl, I placed a handful of fresh baby spinach - when I placed the rice and beans on top of it the heat from the rice was enough to get the spinach a bit cooked but leaving it still with a bit of a crunch, which I particularly love! Sprinkle with some fresh chopped parsley for a fresh touch and an aromatic finish which goes perfectly well with the warm spicy sausage.
After getting my rice cooked I, immediately, transferred it to a large skillet to prevent it from overcooking with the residual heat from the Instant Pot. As for the amount of food cooked on this meal, it was enough for 7 individual portions which was great for such a simple and economic dish.
That is one of the major advantages of using rice as base for a meal - it does stretch the meals and 1 cup of rice goes a long way!
This is a very nourishing meal and you can use your favorite veggies or sausages to adjust it to your family's preferences. If you'd like just keep it vegetarian, adding bell peppers or butternut squash, for example. I'me acostumed to brown rice and it's the only kind I eat now, after my Whole30 - apparently I'm getting the whole family on board which is, definitely, another WIN for this mommy!
If you follow my blog you must know, by now, that I love salmon!
I am truly grateful to have had the opportunity to sample the Virgin Bay Seafood Co. wild caught salmon, from Alaska. It really does pay off to spend a bit more for great quality protein that is sustainable caught and that has, indubitably, more flavor and a texture that will leave you wanting for seconds after each meal you prepare with it!
I mean, just take a look at this perfect and beautiful salmon portions:
How could anyone be tired of eating food like this?!
Oh, well, I can't have this fish every week but I'm making sure to take some time and do proper research about the quality and sourcing of our family meals' protein sources. We really should pay more attention to what we feed our bodies and, specially after the whole30, that has been a concern of mine.
Not only for my health but for all of my family's.
By the time I did this recipe I was also able to try out some veggie kits I got from Urban Roots - even though I had to eliminate some of the seasonings that weren't whole30 compliant I had a great time trying these kits out and sampling the different condiments that come with each package. I loved the experience and I'm really glad to know that there's a company that makes eating veggies easier and simpler - if you have a busy life and not a lot of time to spend cooking you should really look into these!
Check out their website and all their veggie kits!
Here's a picture of what I got, alongside some amazing olive oil which continues to be a staple at our house.
I used the butternut squash and the cauliflower kit as a side for another meal and they were delicious! I usually buy all my veggies at the farmers market and prepare them yourself but, like I sad, if you're running low on time and want to make sure that there is always a veggie option in your fridge, make sure to grab some of these packages and try them out as soon as you can.
You won't be disappointed!
The recipe is pretty simple and that's one of the things that I like about cooking. You don't need to over do it, just choose good ingredients, simple flavors and you're off to a good meal, for sure!
2 wild caught salmon fillets (I used the Virgin Bay Seafood Co. - Copper River Sockeye Salmon)
1 big sweet potato sliced
1 brocolli crown
1 lbs small yellow potatoes
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 Tbsp capers
1/3 lemon juice
1 Tbsp (total) garlic powder
salt and pepper
a bunch of cilantro
2 Tbsp pitted kalamata olives
1 - Preheat the oven at 400 F.
2 - Prepare all the veggies that are going into the oven - wash the potatoes and cut them in half. Wash the broccoli and separate it in florets. Place each vegetable in a different bowl and add the seasonings.
3 - On the potatoes and cherry tomatoes mix I used olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder. The broccoli had olive oil, turmeric, salt and pepper. The sweet potatoes just had olive oil, red pepper chili flakes and garlic powder.
4 - Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and line up all your veggies making sure that they are not overcrowded in order to cook evenly. I ended up mixing the salmon with the veggies but next time I'll cook them separately!
5 - On a different baking sheet lined with parchment paper place the salmon fillets and season with salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Cook the fish and vegetables for about 20 minutes or until you see they're cooked through. The time may be a bit off if you choose thicker fillets or bigger chunks of veggies - if that is the case roast them for another 5-10 minutes.
6 - When everything is cooked, transfer to a serving plate and make the sauce to cover the salmon: in a bowl add the lemon juice, about a tsbp of olive oil, the chopped and pitted kalamata olives, the capers and some freshly chopped cilantro.
I love cilantro so I really got a good amount in there!
This was a meal for 4 and the whole family loved it!
I must say that sheet-pan meals are my favorite for weekdays because they make everything so easy and simple - one pan (or two, in this case!) and everything gets cooked at the same time. It's also perfect to cook chicken breast/thighs (might need a bit more time to cook) or shrimp!
Take a look at what you got on your last shopping trip and figure out what protein and veggies you can combine to make yourself a full and satisfying meal like this one!
I would love to know if you also have the habit of doing this kind of sheet-pan meals! Let me know in the comments!
Summer break is here and I've been struggling with adjusting to our new routine!
Well. the issue is that there is not an actual routine, which I must have to get some order in my daily life - the kids are having summer camp in alternate weeks so I'm with one of them all the time and the pressure of feeling like I have to get them out of the house for outdoor activities or other interesting things to do, instead of giving into TV and Ipad time is high!
I also have to teach them how to figure things by themselves and try to occupy their own time without needing me all the time. Adding to this a lot of home chores, recipes on hold, reviews to write down and organizing our trip back to Portugal by the beginning of August...well, I'm just a mess all around.
I know things will get better and summer really is a hard season for me. The constant reminder that I have to be perfect and that the house has to always look good, the cloths ironed and the kids well fed takes a toll on me and I'm trying to find a way to keep it all together.
We all have bad days or weeks, it's just a matter of pushing through and trying to do the best we can.
After all, we're just humans.
Another thing that I've been struggling with, due to everything I've mentioned before, is creativity in the kitchen. I'm always trying to think of new dishes to cook and make them a bit more elaborate than everyday cooking looks like. To tell you the truth, I'm realizing that food doesn't have to be over complicated, it just has to be good, delicious and nutritious.
Most of the times I think about putting some ingredients together in the most simple way, with basic condiments and spices and, if it works out it really is a great idea to publish it on the blog because, sometimes, people just need to get an idea of foods that go well together - specially in the summer, no one want to spend hours cooking a meal, right?
We simply want to enjoy good food and spend time with family and friends, so choosing easy and quick meals is the right way to go!
I've been sticking to a mainly whole foods diet and I'm looking into plant based diet too. I don't think I'll ever give up fish, meat and eggs completely but I'm seriously considering lowering down my animal protein consumption. I already try to have 2 plant-based days a week and it has been a great experience - I feel amazing and healthier than ever! I'm also educating myself and learning more and more about nutrition because there's nothing like getting information from clinical studies and educated people that have been studying the subject for decades. I'm currently devouring "The China Study", by T. Colin Campbell, PhD and his son Thomas M. Campbell II, MD. I'm trully enjoying this learning experience.
So, yesterday I decided to cook up a delicious lunch bowl. I just opened the fridge, took a look at what I had in there and put this super yummy and nutritious lunch bowl together in just about half an hour. It rendered my about 4 meals which was pretty good for the amount of time I spent cooking.
I decided to keep every cooked ingredient in a separate container because, I could combine it with different sides I had already cooked. That way I'll change up a bit my bowl every time I pick something from the containers!
As you know I hat food boredom!
I opted for spiralizing the butternut squash at home but you can buy it already spiralized it at the supermarket. It's more expensive to buy it already prepped but if you need convenience it's, obviously, the way to go.
1/2 a whole butternut squash
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt, pepper and garlic powder
2 Tbsp freshly chopped basil leaves
3 Tbsp "The new primal" spicy marinade/cooking sauce
1 bunch kale
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup pepitas
1 Pederson's Farms no-sugar added smoked Kielbasa
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1 - Start by trimming the kale, chopping it roughly and washing it thoroughly. Reserve.
2 - Spiralize the butternut squash, which can be a bit of a hard task if you got a big one, like I did! You've got to cut the end of and peel the long part of the squash, which is the one that you'll be spiralizing, with a vegetable peeler. Reserve the remaining squash and dice it, store in a freezing bag and freeze to use in a different recipe.
3 - In a non-stick pan cook the sliced Kielbasa, in a Tbsp of olive oil, until it starts to get a brownish color. It's delicious when it starts to kind of caramelize, which is not the case because it doesn't have any sugar in it, but it's delicious!
4 - Reserve the cooked sausage and add the kale to the same pan to just toss it in the remaining fat. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder and keep moving the kale around so it doesn't get overcooked. When the kale turns a dark green color add the pine nuts and pepitas and give it a final toss. Reserve the kale mix in a glass container.
5 - Add the second Tbsp of olive oil to the pan and cook the squash noodles. These will take about 7-8 minutes to get cooked in medium to high heat. Keep stiring them once in a while and when they start getting cooked add the cooking sauce/marinade. Cook for an additional 3-4 minutes, add the chopped basil and reserve.
6 - All the ingredients are cooked and you just need to assemble your lunch bowl.
7 - In a large bowl add some of the butternut squash noodles to form a base. Add some of the kale and pine nut mix and some sausage slices. Add some extra pine nuts on top and some fresh blueberries for a burst of antioxidant goodness.
This is a great option to include on your weekly meal prep. Also, cook additional protein sources and veggies so you can build lots of different bowls throughout the week - having it all prepped and cooked on a Sunday night will, surely, make up for a stress free cooking week!
Just assemble your plate and bowl every time you need a meal and enjoy the different flavor combos - also, add some more fresh herbs to spruce up those flavors! Nothing like the scent of fresh herbs on a hot and delicious plate of food!
I love salads and they really are my first choice for warm weather meals. This was my first attempt at a chicken salad with mayo since I usually don't use it and prefer simpler seasonings. I had gotten a Primal Kitchen avocado mayo to try out so I decided to use it and it really came out perfectly balanced and not overpowering, as I thought it would be with regular mayo.
I chose Boston living lettuce leaves because they are big and sturdy enough to hold the salad, in case you really want to ditch the fork and eat it like a taco! It's a pretty portable meal either way - carry it in a glass container and enjoy a fresh burst of flavors and textures either eating with a fork or getting adventurous and grabbing your lettuce taco by hand!
This was done as a Whole30 meal, hence the brand of marinade I used, but you can always choose another brand or make your own marinade if you're not following this specific food elimination program. Either way this step of marinating the meat you'll make for a super tasty chicken that will, in itself, elevate this simple chicken salad to the next level. There is nothing worse than plain, boring chicken breast meat, right?!
I hope you get to try this because it is delicious, simple and easy to make. It's a perfect meal for summer days and if you choose to carry it out don't forget to pack some ice packs around your container to make sure that everything stays safe on warm weather days.
The textures and falvors go perfectly together and the crunchiness from the celery is the perfect complement for the creamy mayo and the sweet grapes.
What a perfect flavor/texture combo!
Write down your grocery shopping list and get this recipe on this week's menu for the whole family!
Boston living lettuce leaves (trimmed and thoroughly washed)
1 lb chicken breast
1/3 bottle of "The Primal Kitchen" classic marinade or cooking sauce
3 small celery sticks
1 tsp garlic powder
1 + 1/2 cup seedless grapes
1/2 cup walnuts
1 cup Primal Kitchen avocado mayo (you can substitute for your favorite brand)
salt, pepper at taste
1 Tbsp olive oil (to cook the chicken)
1 - Start by marinating the chicken in "The New Primal Kitchen" classic marinade and cooking sauce. If you're using whole chicken breasts, like I did, cut them in smaller bite-sized portions and place them in a glass container, covering with the marinade so that the whole chicken gets covered. Close the lid and keep in the fridge for about 2 hours. Alternatively you can buy the chicken strips instead of the whole breast in order to save some time with the prepping.
2 - Grill the chicken in some olive oil, adding the rest of the marinade as you go. Reserve the cooked chicken in a bowl, letting it cool down completely in order to start making the salad. You can also do this two first steps a day ahead so you can have everything ready to go when you want to make your salad.
3 - Peel and shred the carrot, wash and roughly chop the celery, adding them to a big bowl where you're going to build your salad and mix all the ingredients. Add the cooled chicken pieces.
4 - Wash the seedless grapes, pat them dry and cut them in half. Add these to the salad bowl with the walnuts. Add the mayo to the bowl and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and freshly chopped dill. Mix everything together and taste it so you can see if you need to make any adjustments at this time.
5 - Platting - I love serving salads like this over lettuce leaves and I used Boston living lettuce because of its broad and large leaves which are perfect for this! Serve the salad on a plate, over the lettuce leaves.
I also prepared the rest of the salad in glass meal prep containers so I could have extra meals prepared and ready to grab and go. There's nothing like meal prep to make you feel prepared for a healthy and pretty good tasting week of meals!
In this particular case I ended up sharing my chicken salad with some friends.
I mean, it's one of the things that makes me feel better - to share what I cook with others and see their reaction. My love for food is closely tied too my love for sharing my passion for cooking and healthy habits so the best thing to do is to share!
This is an example of a very simple meal and, of course, you can always add some other ingredients that you fancy or use other seasonings. From the basic recipe build up your chicken salad and make a super refreshing meal to your whole family over this next week!
I've been wanting to try the Virgin Bay Seafood Co. salmon burger since the moment I got it! With the gum surgeries recovery time it got hard to try new recipes with the products I had but now that I can eat everything again I'm getting to try some new and delicious recipes and sharing them with all of you once more!
I had two 1 lb packages of salmon meat to use and I decided to make salmon cakes.
A very simple and easy recipe that you can whip up with wholesome ingredients that only bring out the natural flavor of the salmon, which is the star of the dish. It was done as a Whole30 meal because I've become accustomed to using only natural foods and condiments - it really makes cooking such an easy and fun activity!
Just choose some tasty seasonings, add some fresh herbs and I assure you you'll have a pretty tasty and nutritious meal for yourself and for your family!
I cooked the cakes in some avocado oil on a ceramic pan and I got them with a nice golden crunchy crust! I first cooked the plain salmon cakes which I did for the kids, since they don't fancy peppers, and then I cooked the pepper salmon cakes which got so yummy with that brown and tasty outside coating!
This is the perfect recipe for a relaxed weekday dinner - you can prep everything ahead of time and then freeze the cakes/patties to have them on hand and cook them whenever you need to!
I used my Tupperware accessory that I bought when I was still living in Portugal. It's funny because I bought it to make homemade hamburgers but just used them once for that specific purpose!
Now that I remembered to pick it up for this salmon recipe I'll use it again for sure.
It is super practical and it allows me to freeze up to 5 individual portions; I can then take and cook portions as I go and leave the others in the freezer.
Convenience at its best!
As I've mentioned before, I did two variations of the salmon cakes: one plain (just with the salmon meat, almond flour and seasonings such as salt, pepper and garlic powder) and the other with peppers which turned out really flavorful and aromatic.
It's a very costumizable recipe too because you can really add any ingredient, seasoning or fresh herb you prefer!
In cooking these kind of dishes there are no rights or wrongs!
Just pick your flavors and start making your own salmon cakes recipe!
Also, I used a package of frozen rainbow peppers because I had it in the freezer but it's perfectly fine to use fresh peppers, just use whatever you've got available.
I always try to make sure that I have, at least, four different varieties of frozen vegetables in the freezer to make sure that I don't run out of veggie options. Some Whole30 habits remain forever and I consider them a plus!
2 lbs salmon meat (I used the Virgin Bay Seafood Co. which you can findhere)
juice of 1 lime
fresh herbs (I used basil and parsley)
6 Tbsp almond flour
salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
1 small package of rainbow peppers
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp olive oil
Avocado oil to cook the salmon cakes (about 1 Tbsp should be enough)
1 - Start by defrosting the salmon meat and the pepper mix overnight in the fridge.
2 - Prepare the pepper mix for the pepper salmon cakes. Cook the sliced onion in a pan with olive oil and when it gets softened add the strained rainbow peppers trying to remove as much of the water as possible to prevent the mix to become soggy in the pan. I did this by pressing the peppers though a mesh sieve and pressing a bit to remove all the excess liquid. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder and let the vegetables cook for about 10-15 minutes or until they start to get a brownish color which means that their flavor is really coming out and they're ready.
3 - Reserve the pepper mix on a plate and let it cool to start making the salmon cakes.
4 - Place the salmon meat on a bowl and season with salt, garlic powder and the freshly chopped herbs. Separate into two smaller bowls, one for the plain cakes and one for the pepper ones.
5 - Add 3 Tbsp of almond flour to the salmon meat and form balls using your hands. If you see that the mix is too wet add a bit more of almond flour until you can form the balls and they retain the shape. Place them on a plate and flatten them a bit. Reserve.
6 - Place the pepper mix on a chopping board and using a sharp knife cut them pretty finely or at your desired size. Don't over chop to prevent excess liquid. Add the peppers and the lime juice to the salmon meat and add 3 Tbsp of almond flour adjusting this amount, if needed. I also added some extra red pepper flakes to this ones because I just love a bit of heat on my salmon!
7 - First I filled my Tupperware containers with these salmon mix and pressed down on each compartment to make sure that I would have well defined patties. I used a small spoon to make sure that I was able to press down every single bit of salmon mix. With the rest of the salmon mix I formed small balls and did exactly like I had done with the plain salmon patties.
After having these perfectly shaped and pressed down I pilled them up on top of each other and finished with the plastic lid to seal them up. Ready for the freezer!
8 - To cook the salmon cakes heat up some olive oil in a non-stick pan and place them on medium heat until they're cooked on one side which takes about 3 minutes and flip them over to finish cooking on the other side. The cooking time will also depend on the thickness of the patties, the thinner they are the faster they'll cook up. Don't overfill the pan to make sure that the temperature stays pretty constant.
9 - Remove the cooked salmon cakes from the pan, add some more olive oil, if needed, and continue cooking all your salmon cakes.
10 - Serve the salmon cakes with grilled veggies or a fresh and colorful salad and enjoy! A bit of lime juice on top is also perfect for a final touch of freshness.
This delicious meal pictured below was amazingly refreshing on a warm spring day! Coleslaw with roasted potatoes, Brussels sprouts, roasted garlic sauerkraut and an amazing and quite spicy pepper salmon cake!
And you know what the best part of all this is?
I have four more delicious salmon cakes in the freezer for a lazy day when I don't feel like cooking but still want to have a healthy and satisfying meal.
What about you? Do you like salmon?
What are your favorite ways to cook it up and serve it at your house?
At our house we love fish and seafood and try to have it, at least, 2 times a week. When we were living back in Portugal we had a much more fish based diet - fish is very abundant and cheaper also, which allows people to have a higher access to fish. We used to have mainly cold water fish, from the Atlantic because that's what we get over there. A lot of grilled salmon, steamed whitening, grilled sword fish and sardines, in the summer time!
When we moved to the US I really got hit with the reality that we had to cut down, maybe by half, the weekly fish based meals due to the higher buying price. There are cheaper varieties and I used to buy them once in a while but now that my perception of food has changed I really try to make good food choices, like buying wild-caught fish instead of farmed varieties. The quality of the food we eat really impacts our health and well being and, if making better choices gets us having a couple of great quality fish meals a week that's perfectly fine by me.
I'm still looking for a local fish market to buy sustainable and wild-caught fish so if anyone from around Scotch Plains has a regular place where they use to go and recommend, please send me a message or write down a comment on this blog post so I can check the place out and maybe even feature it on the blog, on the "local businesses" section.
For this recipe I used the Virgin Bay Sea Food Co. wild-caught rock fish and it worked out perfectly!
A firm white fish, sturdy enough to incorporate in a stew without loosing shape or flavor. This kind of dish really is a hearty and healthy meal - incorporating potatoes and peppers allows for you to have the vegetables along with the meal and cooking everything in just one pot makes it a winner for any home cook, right?
Keeping things simple during the week is my most precious motto for weekday meals.
Don't complicate and use simple but great quality ingredients and you'll do just fine and won't have to stress about cooking that much. I cooked the stew in a big pot and used 4 big portions of rock-fish which was enough for 8 individual servings.
1 big sweet onion, diced
3 grated garlic cloves
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 celery stalks, trimmed and diced
2 carrots, peeled finely chopped
4 large ripe tomatoes
1 small orange bell pepper, washed and diced
1 Tbsp tomato paste *
2 Tbsp parsley
2 bay leaves
salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and garlic powder *
1/2 fennel bulb, washed and thinly sliced
juice of half a lemon
4 large rock fish fillets
1 lb frozen wild-caught mussels *
2 large white potatoes, washed and diced in big chunks
2 sweet potatoes, peeled, washed and diced in big chunks
bone broth * to cover the vegetables (I used about 4 cups)
Dill to season at your discretion
* To make this dish Whole30 complain just make sure that this ingredients are compliant by reading the ingredient list on the package/can.
1 - In a big pot add the olive oil and when it gets to a good temperature add the onion and the garlic to cook them lightly. Add the bell pepper, the carrots and the celery and give it a good mix to combine all the vegetables. Let this cook in medium heat for about 8 minutes or until the vegetables get soft.
2 - Add the washed and diced tomatoes, the tomato paste, the bone broth and the thinly sliced fennel. Give this a stir and add the seasonings and the herbs - salt, pepper, garlic powder, red pepper flakes (I used 1 tsp), the bay leaves and the freshly chopped parsley. Let this cook in slow heat and with a lid on, for about 25 minutes.
3 - Add the chopped potatoes and cook for an additional 8 minutes and after that add the fish cut up in big chunks and the mussels. Season the fish with some salt and lemon juice.
4 - Cook with a tightly closed lid to get the fish cooked, around 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the chopped dill on top of the stew.
5 - Let the stew cool down a bit for a couple of minutes without the lid (so it doesn't overcook!) and serve it in individual soup plates with some of the broth.
If you you're not doing a Whole30 round feel free to have a sliced baguette to go with the soup, it'll go amazingly with the broth!
This is the absolute warm weather comfort food for me! I love salads and cold food too but a fish stew will always get to me! The combination of flavors is just mouth watering and, honestly, I can not wait to cook a batch of this scrumptious stew again!
As a plus, my kids loved it which makes it even better since cooking two different meals, one for us and one for the kids, was never an option around here!
Give this amazing meal a try and let me know how it went and if the whole family enjoyed it as much as I did!
Since wrapping up my first Whole30 I found out several things about the effect that different foods have on me. I found out, among other things, that gluten IS the trigger to my migraines: I used to have 2-3 each week and I'm down to one a month which is amazing! This discovery allowed me to change the way I eat in order to control something that was really disturbing and disruptive to my daily life.
Coincidentally, I was contacted by Cappello's brand to whip up some recipes with their gluten-free products! They offer a great range of product, from pizza to pasta and cookie dough. Guess I won't be missing anything on my gluten-free diet! I decided to start with the gluten-free gnocchi because I've always wanted to try them but ended up never doing it. I can only say one thing: PERFECT!
This little golden clouds of puffiness were an absolute delightful meal, paired with roasted veggies that have now a precious place in my daily food routine. Getting them cooked and then crispy by sauteing them in garlic ghee was the perfect choice and resulted in a crunchy outside and a soft and creamy inside - I'm serious, you must try these gnocchi!
Ingredients (3 servings):
1 package of Capello’s gluten-free gnocchi
1 acorn squash
½ butternut squash
4 leaves of Lacinato kale
15 fresh wild-caught shrimp
Salt, pepper to taste
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp new bae seasoning (I used the Primal Palate one)
1 tbsp garlic ghee (I used the 4th and Heart one)
1 – The first thing to do is to start on roasting the veggies. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
2 - Wash the acorn squash and cut it in half, remove the seeds and cut thin slices. Peel the butternut squash and dice it finely.
3 – Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, spray some olive oil on it and place the veggies on top. Season with a bit more olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder and the fresh thyme leaves. Roast in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the veggies are cooked (time may vary according to the oven). Midway through the cooking time toss the veggies around so they get evenly cooked on both sides.
4 – Now, start working on those beautiful gnocchi. Get a big pan, fill it with filtered water and take it to a boil. When the water is boiling add the gnocchi and keep moving them around every 30 seconds or so, just like recommended in the package. When the gnocchi float that’s when you know they’re cooked through!
5 – Melt the garlic ghee on a pan and add the strained gnocchi. Let them brown and get the taste from the garlic ghee which is amazing! This process takes about 6-8 minutes but make sure to keep shaking the gnocchi around the pan, so they get brown all over – this step will give a wonderful crispiness that goes amazingly well with the creaminess of the inside of the gnocchi!
6 – When the gnocchi are golden remove them from the pan and cook the shredded kale for about 4 minutes, just enough time to get it flavored but not soggy. Add the gnocchi back to the pan. Turn the heat off.
7 – The last thing to do is to cook the shrimp. Season them with new bae seasoning and just grilled them on a bit of olive oil for just a couple of minutes on each side. Remove from the pan and reserve to drain any liquid that may come off.
8 – Assemble your dish: add the butternut squash to the pan where you have the gnocchi with the kale and plate each serving on a single serve dish. Add the acorn squash and the shrimp and that’s it! A feast for the yes and for the taste buds!
I can't wait to try the other products by this brand! As I'm writing this blog post I'm having another 6 weeks of soft food diet due to a second gum surgery that I had done. It's always boring to be limited to soups, smoothies, scrambled eggs, mashed banana, apple sauce and steamed fish but...it's necessary! Can't wait too get back to solid food and start creating delicious meals again!
In the meantime I have some tasty suggestions that I've cooked these past few weeks and that I want to share with all of you. Stay tuned for another great recipe on Thursday!