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food: beef barley soup

if there is one thing i know, its that my life is made easier by my ownership of the slow cooker and food processor.

but to be honest, i really don’t use either to their maximum capacity.  i often find myself with a big pot simmering away on the stove or meat braising in the oven, when a slow cooker could definitely be doing that work for me.
and the same goes for my food processor.  sometimes i’m elbow deep in chopped vegetables working away for 40 minutes when it dawns on my that i could have just chucked these in the food processor and i could have been done in seconds.
so i’m working on it.

to me, the slow cooker is a magical device that slaves away when i’m at work.  i throw my raw goods in before i leave, and when i’m home i reap the benefits.  nothing could be easier.
but there’s no reason that i can’t be using it on weekends while i’m nesting on my couch watching movies.  and if i have to pop out to run an errand, its a-okay to leave it to do its thing.

so, on sunday i put it to use.  my biggest temptation is to constantly be lifting the lid & stirring & tasting.  but where the slow cooker is involved, thats bad news.  so i had to really restrain myself from fussing over it.

i used the food processor to chop: 1 onion, 3 giant carrots, some green cabbage and 4 stalks of celery into a pretty uniform dice.  then i threw that in the slow cooker with a frozen ziplock bag with some bone broth i’d made a few weeks ago and let that make friends for a couple hours while my stew beef was defrosting.

i tossed the beef in salt & pepper and browned it in ghee before adding it to the cooker.  topped it up with a bit of water, dried thyme and a teaspoon of beef better than boulion.  and because my husband loves barley, i added a half cup of pearl barley.  oh, and a can of tomato paste.

that hung out in the slow cooker and got delicious for about 5 hours.  we added a bit of chopped fresh thyme and flat leaf parsley and chowed down.

as a side dish, i whipped up some savory scones.  they kinda went down like this:

– 3 cups of flour- 1 tablespoon sugar
– 2 tablespoons of baking powder
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– 1/2 teaspoon each of: dried thyme, garlic salt & dried jalapeno
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1 stick of cold butter
– 1 cup plain greek yogurt
– 2 green onions finely diced
– 1 cup shredded cheese (i used cheddar & aged gouda)

preheat the oven to 400
mix dry ingredients in a large bowl
cut in butter with pastry blender
stir in cheese, onion & greek yogurt.  use a little water to thin if dough isn’t coming together – i probably had to add about 1/4 cup of water total
let chill 20 minutes. divide dough in half & roll out into a square.  cut into quarters and then cut each square diagonally to make a triangle.
brush with milk or melted butter (i used ghee) and bake for 15-20 minutes on parchment paper until golden brown.

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food: paleo beef stroganoff

okay… time for a recipe post, since its been a while.  what with all the traveling and such…
i’ve been trying to make a return to what i’m calling “practically paleo”. where for the most part, i’m eating paleo meals… my aim is 80%, but in current reality i’m probably sitting closer to 70%.  because i love carbs.

so i’ve been allowing for splurges in the form of sprouted brown rice and some white potato… and cheese.  definitely cheese.  because cheese is REALLY HARD to give up for me.

anyways.  the other day i whipped up a paleo stroganoff to satisfy my craving for some comfort food.
i had bought some precut strips of beef inside round –  “stir fry beef” as they called it in the store… but wasn’t really feeling the stir fry.  plus i didn’t have the right veggies.  so i decided to go with a stroganoff of sorts.

problem 1 – i only had 2 mushrooms.  so i filled out the mushroom quotient with a package of dried BC chanterelles that i’d had hanging out in my cupboard from the mushroom display at the PNE last year…

problem 2 – i didn’t want to do the dairy & flour thing to make it rich and creamy.  so i rocked a paleo version with coconut milk and a little cornstarch to thicken. (not super  paleo there, i know)

problem 3 -traditional stroganoff is really lacking veggies, so i threw in some dinosaur kale that i  chiffonaded.  because i just wasn’t in a side-dish kinda mood.

problem 4 – carb craving.  solution: sprouted brown rice.  ya, not my finest healthy moment, but damnit, it was tasty.

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so here’s my “recipe”…

practically paleo beef stroganoff

– 1lb (more or less) of sliced beef inside round
– 2 white mushrooms, thinly sliced
– 1 package of dried chanterelles
– 1/2 cup diced onion (optional – i didn’t put it in)
– 2 cloves of crushed garlic
– 2 cups of dinosaur kale, chiffonaded
– 1 tsp coconut oil (or more – for sauteing)
– 1 cup of coconut milk
– 1 tsp cornstarch (optional)
– 2 tsp dried thyme
– salt, pepper & siracha to taste
– splash of worcestershire sauce

  1. soak chanterelles in 2 cups of warm/tap hot water
  2. brown beef strips in coconut oil on both sides – remove from pan
  3. saute white mushrooms, onions & garlic, add kale
  4. remove chanterelles from liquid (save the liquid!) and chop into bite sized pieces.  add to saute pan
  5. add beef, coconut milk and half of mushroom liquid, spices & seasoning
  6. let simmer for a few minutes until the smell drives you wild.  add more mushroom liquid or let reduce further as you see fit.
  7. add cornstarch dissolved in a small amount of cold water to the pan to thicken if desired.  also could add a pat of butter to finish the sauce.

voila!  my finished plate.  (er… bowl)

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and then my leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch went without the rice and i basically ate it with a spoon.
that sauce was DELICIOUS.
loads of that delightful umami flavour that you’re gonna want in your meals to scratch that comfort food itch…

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food: slow cooker beef with balsamic

so this is fun… the leaves are falling, the air is chilled… that means its SLOW COOKER SEASON!
hooray!  every lazy cook’s favourite time of the year.  i for one, am a huge fan.
but i’ll be honest… there gets to be a point when everything you throw in the slow cooker kinda starts to feel the same… it’s broth or tomato base… its a soup or a stew… since it comes from *my* slow cooker, its usually spicy and slightly mexican seasoned… it has mirepoix or similar for the veg…

yes, its easy to get into a slow cooker rut.
i did however find a fun listing of “30 nights of paleo crock pot meals” which has breathed new life into my slow cooker (can i from here on just refer to it as the SC? perfect.)

so yesterday i decided to try out the recipe from civilized caveman cooking for a balsamic roast.
i basically had all the ingredients in my house (besides the roast, which a quick trip to the farm solved) and it sounded different and tasty.  plus we buy a balsamic vinegar from costco that is not only delicious, but in a giant bottle, so i always feel the need to cook with a lot of it whenever possible.

step 1 – season & sear off the roast.

i used paprika, garlic salt, salt & pepper for seasoning and then seared it at high heat with coconut oil in my non stick.
it was smoky in my kitchen for 5am, lol.  but we were rewarded with a beautiful sear on that little fucker.
oh, it was a small beef top sirloin roast about 1lb – served 2 people.  the recipe calls for a 2lb roast but obviously serves more.

step 2 – veggies meet meat.

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the recipe called for onions only, but i had carrots & celery handy, so i threw together the tried & true mirepoix.
i used a whole yellow onion as per the recipe and 2 sticks of celery & 2 carrots.
then lovingly placed the seared roast on top.

step 3 – add liquid.

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the recipe told me to deglaze the pan with the wine & water, but since i seared mine at such a high heat, the pan had some black bits that i decided i should live without.
also, the recipe calls for white wine – which with beef seemed weird to me. so i used red.  also i had red open already and not white, so there’s that.
i combined the following and poured it into the SC:
– 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
– 1 cup tomato sauce (i used the italian kind in the glass bottle)
– 1/2 cup of red wine
– 1/3 cup of water
of course, throw in a pinch of salt for good measure and some cracked black pepper.

step 4 – cook on low for however long you’re going to be out of the house for.  mine went for 12 hours.

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step 5 – serve and eat up!

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final thoughts – as always, i think every recipe can benefit from chili flakes. but also i think its worth mentioning that often in recipes like this, i’ll remove the meat and use my immersion blender to puree the slow cooked veg, making the sauce thicker and more gravy-like.  that would have been delightful in this case.
the vinegar gave a nice acidity but didn’t overwhelm anything and the beef turned out delightfully slow cooker perfect.
and my house smelled fucking spectacular when i got home.
SC win!

here’s the original recipe for those that like to play by the rules.

Crockpot Balsamic Roast

Ingredients

  • 2 Lb any roast, I used Top Round
  • 1 Large Sweet Onion, sliced
  • 8 Ounces Tomato Sauce
  • 1/2 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • 2 Tbsp White Wine
  • 2 Tbsp Coconut Oil
  • Rub(Amount to your taste): Salt, Black Pepper, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Smoked Paprika

Cooking Steps

Season your roast on both sides generously with the spices listed above to your liking
Heat your coconut oil in a large pan over medium-high heat, once warm sear each side of your roast for 3-4 minutes
Place your sliced onions in the bottom of your crock pot and put your seared meat on top of the onions
Combine your balsamic vinegar and tomato sauce in a bowl and mix well, then pour over your meat in the crock pot
Add your water and white wine to your pan and de-glaze it
Pour this mixture in your crock pot as well
Place the lid on, set to low and cook for 6-8 hours
Enjoy

food: bacon chipotle meatloaf

on the weekend, my husband and i came across a fantastic deal for ground beef.
our local farm market where we buy our premium meats from was having a “case lot” sale of sorts with 10lbs of ground beef at a great price.
so we did the sensible thing and bought one.
we figured, hey, we’re coming up to burger season…
plus, high quality beef at a grocery store price can not be refused.
also the girl behind the counter had me sold at “you’ll have to wait a minute, they’re just grinding it now…”

okay.

but here’s the thing… when you’re brainstorming ground beef ideas, its easy to get in a rut.
there’s meatballs and spaghetti sauce and shepherds pie and of course burgers… but what else?
meatloaf of course.
delicious delicious meatloafs.

sooooo… we may have done a bit of other case-lot shopping this weekend…
like, i also have 5lbs of sweet onions… and 5 avocados… and 5lbs of potatoes…
so i’ve been in prep mode.

yesterday i thinly sliced 3 onions and caramelized them down and stowed them in the fridge for future use.
nothing in particular in mind, but i know my husband loves them, so i figured they’d be useful to have ready… and boy was i right.

if you’ve never put caramelized onions into a meatloaf, you should.

Bacon Chipotle Meatloaf with Caramelized Onions

  • 1.5lbs of ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp chipotle seasoning (i use paul prudhomme’s)
  • 1 tsp dried chipotle peppers
  • 1/2 cup of caramelized onions
  • salt & pepper
  • 3 slices of bacon – par cooked (i microwaved for 1.5 minutes)
  • some delicious bbq sauce for topping (i used House of Q Apple Butter BBQ sauce)
  1. preheat oven to 400
  2. mix beef, onions & seasoning.  press into loaf pan – i line mine with parchment for easy removal
  3. top with bacon and slather with bbq sauce
  4. cook for about 20 minutes, drain fat off and cook for another 15 minutes or so or until internal temp reaches 145F

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food: greek shepard pie

today’s recipe came to me a few weeks ago via email. I believe it was the 20 minute supper club email, but now I’m just not sure. regardless, something about it made me print it off and bring it home to sell to my husband. and I say “sell” because whenever I want to tweak a classic, he needs convincing. I’m often accused of messing with recipes that should be left alone… but I digress…
I liked that this recipe featured ingredients I liked, ingredients that I already had, and seemed like a husband-pleaser. so I gave it a test drive.
holy success.
I fed this one to my brother & husband and both of them inhaled it so quickly that I barely got a portion.
so I made it again on tuesday. we tried doing it as a “make ahead” and preparing it to the point of the oven and then popping it in the fridge…and baking it the next day. this also worked perfectly.

so here’s the recipe as I made it. the original was doubled in size – but my version still makes 4 portions – a 9×9 casserole dish worth.
I also changed the brown rice to wild (because it’s what I had on hand) and increased the rice amount (because I like rice over meat)
…and I changed the tomato sauce to canned fire roasted tomatoes.
so here’s my version:

Greek Shepard Pie
filling:
1lb extra lean ground beef
1/2 onion chopped finely
2 cloves garlic
1 to 2 cups cooked brown/wild rice
1 medium can (350ml?) of fire roasted tomatoes
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp oregano
chilli flakes to taste
salt & pepper

topping:
1lb spaghetti squash (cooked & shredded)
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

cook the ground beef, onion & garlic. drain off fat if desired. add spices, rice & tomato. cook for 5-10 minutes until well combined and simmered down.
fill bottom of casserole dish with meat mixture.
combine items for topping in a separate bowl. spread on top of meat mixture.
bake at 350 for 45 minutes. let sit 15 minutes before serving.
and voila…

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and here’s a tip for the squash… cut it in half and microwave it for 10 minutes facedown in a dish covered with a touch of water. let it cool then shred with a fork.

pretty healthy, damn tasty and easy peasy. so a perfect winter meal in my books. enjoy!