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I love slow-cooker recipes! We were gone all day yesterday and it was so nice to come home to the delicious aromas of dinner nearly ready. The prep was simple – I pulled out a grassfed chuck roast from the deep freeze the night before, rolled it in my homemade Cajun Seasoning, stuck it in the crockpot and topped it with chopped onions and diced tomatoes. Eight hours later I made some rice and a salad and there was dinner!
If your Cajun Seasoning doesn’t have salt, you will need to add a teaspoon of sea salt as you rub the seasoning over the beef.
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Maybe it was because we went to a Chinese New Year parade last weekend. Or maybe because it’s getting closer to Lads to Leaders convention time when we always go out for Asian food and I’m thinking about that. I don’t know what it is, but I’ve been craving spicy stir fries with cashews and peanuts. Plus my daughter loves the combination of sriracha sauce and lime. So it seemed like the right thing to do – make a big pan full of chicken and noodles with spicy peanut sauce.
There are so many delicious restaurant-style meals you can make yourself at home. Chinese and Thai food can seem intimidating, but make it once and you’ll see how it all comes together. Soon you’ll be trying all sorts of favorite take-out foods. And making it yourself means you can use better quality ingredients, no MSG, and still save money over buying it already prepared.
Mix up the sauce first so it will be all ready at the end. Get all of the vegetables, garnishes and meat chopped up and set out on plates or a cutting board. Bring the pasta water to a boil and then when you put the pasta into the water you can start cooking the chicken. That way everything will be ready at about the same time. The secret to success with Asian style stir fries is to be prepared before you start cooking. Once it gets going there is no time to stop and chop something.
Prepare the sauce by combining all of the sauce ingredients, peanut butter through lime zest and juice, in a small saucepan over very low heat. Stir until the peanut butter melts and everything combines into a somewhat thick sauce. Remove from heat and set aside.
Toast the sesame seeds by placing them in a dry skillet over low heat. Shake or stir the seeds until they begin to heat and become fragrant. As soon as they begin to slightly change color remove them from the heat and set aside.
Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces. Have all of the vegetables prepared. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Heat the coconut oil or lard in a large heavy-bottom skillet or wok. Add the chicken and stir fry over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes or until the chicken is browned on the outside and nearly done on the inside. Remove chicken to a plate and set aside.
Add the bell pepper, cabbage and carrot to the pan and stir fry 2 minutes or until crisp tender. Add the green onions to the pan and continue to stir fry for another minute. Return the chicken to the pan and toss with the vegetables. When the pasta is done, drain it well and then add the drained pasta to the pan with the chicken and vegetables. Pour the sauce over everything, sprinkle in the toasted sesame seeds and toss well to combine. Remove everything to a large serving platter and garnish with the chopped peanuts and chopped cilantro.
It’s the beginning of a new year as I write this post, and I was able to convince my husband to go on a Paleo diet with me. (We’re following Chris Kresser’s Paleo Cure) Yesterday he told me he was already missing bread – mostly to sop up all the great sauces and pan juices from the delicious Paleo food we’ve been eating! So I made him happy by fixing waffles for lunch today. And I made me happy by finding this great Paleo-friendly waffle recipe from Eat Beautiful that uses green plantains instead of flour. The original recipe had the chicken cooked right into the waffles, but I wanted to be able to have a chicken gravy to go over top ’cause that’s how I like ’em.
These waffles are definitely main dish worthy – brunch, lunch or dinner – with a little south-of-the-border spice added to make them extra good. The gravy is made with nourishing homemade bone broth and thickened with arrowroot powder so it’s gluten-free and allergy friendly. I’ve even given a substitute to make this dairy-free, too.
If you’ve never purchased plantains before – they are like giant, thick bananas. They can be used green (like here for these waffles) or almost black-ripe (like for these pancakes). When they are green they are a good source of resistant starch which feeds the beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract.
Savory Paleo Waffles with Chicken Gravy
for the waffles
2 green plantains
8 eggs (preferably from pasture-raised hens)
1/2 cup melted healthy fat (such as lard, coconut oil, ghee, butter)
Preheat your waffle iron according to manufacturer’s directions. Using a sharp knife, cut the tip ends off the plantains, then cut in half across the middle, then cut each half lengthwise. This will leave you with quartered plantain sections. Now you can slip your finger between the thick green skin and the yellow flesh. Peel off and discard the skin. Place the plantain quarters in a blender. Add in the remaining waffle ingredients, the eight eggs through the teaspoon of honey. Blend on high until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Yes, it will be pretty runny and you won’t understand how this could possibly make waffles, but it will work!
Brush the waffle iron with a little coconut oil or butter and then ladle the batter onto the preheated waffle iron. Use the amount of batter directed by your waffle iron manufacturer. Mine says to use 1/3 cup, but I actually ended up needing to use closer to 1/2 cup to get a waffle without holes. So adjust your batter accordingly. The baking time will be as directed on your waffle iron directions. Mine is 3 minutes. That worked just fine.
To make the gravy:
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions and saute for about three minutes until the onion begins to get translucent. Then add in the shredded chicken, chicken broth, salt, cumin and oregano. Stir until everything is simmering and hot. Combine the arrowroot with the 1/4 cup water until no lumps remain, then stir the arrowroot mixture into the simmering broth. Stir for just a little until the gravy begins to thicken, then reduce the heat to very low to keep warm until the waffles are done.
To serve: Place one waffle on a plate, top with butter if desired (and who wouldn’t desire a little more butter?!) and then ladle over about 1/2 cup of the chicken gravy. This whole recipe made about 8 waffles in my waffle iron, but yields will vary depending on the size of waffle your machine makes. I’d say all in all about 4-6 servings of waffles and chicken gravy.
Savory waffles with a little kick are smothered in rich chicken gravy for a hearty lunch, brunch or dinner entree. The waffles are made with green plantains, making them gluten-free and a great source of resistant starch for a healthy digestive system.
for the waffles:
2 large green plantains
8 eggs (preferably from pasture-raised hens)
½ cup melted healthy fat (such as lard, coconut oil, ghee, butter)
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon raw honey
for the gravy:
2 cloves garlic, pressed
¼ cup minced onion
2 Tablespoons butter, preferably grassfed (for dairy-free sub lard or coconut oil)
3 cups chopped or shredded cooked chicken
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cups homemade chicken bone broth
1 Tablespoon arrowroot powder
¼ cup water
To make the waffles:
Preheat your waffle iron according to manufacturer's directions.
Using a sharp knife, cut the tip ends off the plantains, then cut in half across the middle and cut each half lengthwise.
This will leave you with quartered plantain sections.
Slip your finger between the thick green skin and the yellow flesh.
Peel off and discard the skin.
Place the plantain quarters in a blender.
Add the remaining waffle ingredients, the eight eggs through the teaspoon of honey.
Blend on high until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
The batter will be thin.
Brush the preheated waffle iron with butter or coconut oil, and then ladle the batter onto the preheated waffle iron using the amount directed in your waffle maker instruction book.
Bake according to manufacturer's directions - about 3 minutes or until golden.
to make the gravy:
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions and saute for about three minutes until the onion begins to get translucent.
Then add in the shredded chicken, chicken broth, salt, cumin and oregano.
Stir until everything is simmering and hot.
Combine the arrowroot with the ¼ cup water until no lumps remain, then stir the arrowroot mixture into the simmering broth.
Stir for just a little until the gravy begins to thicken, then reduce the heat to very low to keep warm until the waffles are done.
Place one waffle on a plate, top with more butter if desired, and ladle about ½ cup of the chicken gravy over top.
This recipe yields approximately 8 waffles and 3 cups gravy.
It was Christmas Potluck time at the martial arts school where my son takes Kung Fu. He really wanted to go, but I was too busy to cook anything for him to take, plus I wasn’t even going to go myself. I told him he could go if he would make something himself to take. I didn’t think it was fair to send a bottomless pit teenage boy to scarf up everybody else’s food without bringing anything to share! He chose lasagne even after I told him the sauce takes a half hour to simmer and then it still has to bake almost an hour. He loves lasagne.
Being a homeschool mom I grabbed the teaching moment. I handed him the recipe and told him to look and see what we already had and then make a shopping list. Then I took him to Publix and made him shop. He’s 16 and the time when he is out on his own is drawing nearer and nearer no matter how much I don’t want it to come. I want him to be self-sufficient so I’ve taught him how to sort laundry and use the washing machine. I’ve had him with me in the kitchen since he was big enough to pull up a stool and stand next to me at the counter. He’s been cooking independently since he was six. He’s learning to drive, to balance a checkbook and manage a savings account. He can operate the vacuum, wash dishes, and clean the bathroom, mow the lawn, run the string trimmer and build a compost pile. Planning a menu, grocery shopping and cooking from scratch to share with others is something else grownups need to be able to do. He jumped into the project happily.
Shopping, prepping the ingredients and making the sauce were all easy, he only needed a little help when it came to actual assembly of the layers. One of my tricks is to only cook the lasagne noodles halfway so they are pliable but they don’t fall apart when you pick them up. They continue to cook inside the casserole during baking so you don’t end up with crunchy pasta. It also takes a little experience knowing how much to use in each layer so you don’t end up with something leftover when it’s all finished, or run out of something before you’re done.
So here’s the recipe for my lasagne. I’ve been making it since I was 16. I’m glad to pass the torch along to my son. I have fond memories of making this lasagne and sharing it with my own friends and family; I hope he will build some memories sharing meals with his own friends and family, too.
1 lb grassfed ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
3 Tblsp olive oil, divided use
1 15oz can diced tomatoes
2 6oz cans tomato paste
2 cups filtered water
1 Tblsp chopped parsley
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp honey
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
8 oz lasagne noodles
1 lb whole milk ricotta cheese
8 oz mozarella, shredded
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
In a large, heavy pan brown the ground beef and onion in 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, water, parsley, salt, honey, garlic, pepper, oregano and Italian seasoning. Simmer the sauce for 30 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook the lasagne noodles for about half the time as directed adding the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the cooking water to keep them from sticking together. Drain.
In a 9×13 casserole pan spread 1 cup of the sauce. Alternate layers of noodles, sauce, ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan – ending with sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes until lightly browned and bubbling. Allow to stand 15 minutes before cutting into squares to serve.
yield: 8 servings
As I write this it is the Sunday evening of Thanksgiving weekend. The dishwasher is running, the kitchen is cleaned up, I’ve already made bone broth from the turkey carcass and put five quarts of it in the deep freeze. I’m thankful for my parents who volunteered to make the drive from Alabama to Orlando on a holiday weekend – if you’ve ever tried to drive Florida’s turnpike this time of year you know what a big deal that is! But it was nice to have all the grandparents around the table this year (my husband’s dad, who lives in the area, was also with us) so my kids were very blessed.
Now that the big meal is over we still have an entire gallon ziploc bag of turkey leftover even after two meals of leftovers plus a couple of turkey salad sandwiches for the travelers. My daughter pleaded “no more soup!” (we’ve eaten a lot of soup lately trying to keep everyone from catching the latest virus making the rounds). So I pulled out my recipe for turkey curry – it uses up a pound of the leftovers plus it’s a way to sneak more bone broth into everyone without actually eating more soup. Plus, the flavors of curry are a nice detour away from the typical holiday flavors. By the way, this goes great with leftover cranberry sauce, too! If you’re reading this and it’s not after a major turkey-filled holiday you could substitute leftover cooked chicken for the turkey.
choose your favorites to sprinkle over the top of the curry-
raisins, diced tomatoes, diced bell pepper, chopped cucumber, parsley, cilantro, pineapple, shredded coconut, chopped nuts, papaya, mango, chutney or even leftover cranberry sauce
Melt the butter or oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the apple and onion to the pan and saute about 10 minutes until the onions are translucent, don’t brown them. Add the garlic and saute another minute. Then add the curry powder, salt and red pepper and stir well. Stir in the coconut milk and 1 1/2 cups of the broth, reduce the heat and simmer another five minutes. Add the chopped turkey. Combine the arrowroot (or other thickener) with the remaining 1/2 cup of stock. Pour the mixture into the pan along with the lemon juice if desired, and stir constantly until the curry begins to thicken slightly. Taste for seasonings and adjust as needed. Serve over the hot cooked rice and top with your favorite condiments.
*curry powders vary wildly in their flavor and spiciness. Most curry powders contain turmeric, coriander, fenugreek and cumin; but they can also contain many other spices including ginger, cayenne pepper, fennel and even saffron. It’s fun to experiment with different curry powders, but read the ingredient list and don’t buy any that include MSG. Good curry powders are salt-free so you can adjust the salt in the recipe to your own taste.
*Amy shares her thoughts on the idea of cooking without recipes.
Lamb burgers may be a new Well Fed Family Cousins Camp tradition. I say “may” because this is only our second year to have them. But I think I speak for everyone when I say I hope we have them next year! Judging by the way the kids gobbled them up, arguing over the last few on the platter, I’m pretty sure they would agree. These burgers were tender, juicy, and full of flavors that made us feel like we were eating somewhere in the Mediterranean. Right here at the lakehouse in Alabama.
The side dishes were well planned, keeping with the flavor of the burgers: yogurt-cucumber sauce (Tzatziki), raw vegetables with hummus (homemade of course!), roasted asparagus, Well Fed Family Moroccan Chickpea Quinoa Salad, and roasted potatoes that were specially seasoned with rosemary, parsley, and garlic. I love it when all the items on a menu go together. It makes the meal feel complete. Sometimes it’s difficult coming up with sides, but that’s the beauty of starting with plain vegetables and adding your own herbs and spices: you can create any dish you want, any time you want. You might call it customizing your meal.
I’d love to share the recipe for the lamb burgers, but there isn’t one. Lee is one of those kinds of people who love to cook without recipes. She chose a few fresh herbs based on the flavor she was aiming for, finely chopped them with garlic, added salt, and mixed it all into the ground lamb. Lee customizes most of her meals. When she wants to cook something new, she may start with a recipe the first time and use it as a jumping point for future attempts as she tweaks it here and there, adjusting it to her family’s tastes. This involves a lot of trial and error, and may result in a few disappointing dishes sometimes, but it also brings about a knowledge and skill of cooking that only comes with experience. Food Freedom is a very pleasant result.
If you are a recipe-follower like me, don’t despair. Time in the kitchen nurtures a familiarity and skill that will lay the foundation for confident cooking and ultimately your own Food Freedom. If you are just starting your exodus from the Standard American Diet, don’t let these non-recipe free spirits intimidate you! I am sure that there will still be recipes in the Promised Land of Food Freedom. Meanwhile, I’ll keep working on Lee to write down the recipe for the lamb burgers.
lamb burger with tzatziki sauce, fresh vegetables, rosemary oven fries, roasted asparagus, and Moroccan Quinoa Chickpea salad
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Recently I wrote how our family had implemented a more strict grocery budget and how I was working out the purchase of healthy, mostly organic, frequently local food within the new parameters. (Read here ) So here is an example of a week’s worth of dinner menus including links to recipes when available. I just wanted to give you an idea of how we normally eat. Everything is just plain, wholesome real food for the most part. There are occasional instances of a package or can of something, but even then those items are usually single-ingredient items such as canned tomatoes.
Don’t stress, be happy!
I’ve been told one of the frustrations of cooking from scratch is the amount of prep time it takes. My advice for getting around that is this:
1) put on some happy music and pour yourself a glass of something (kombucha? wine?) and let the prep time be a relaxing time rather than a stress-filled time
2) practice your knife skills and make sure your knives are always sharp so the chopping and slicing goes easily and quickly. Many people don’t have any knife skills or even know which knife to use in which situation. Thankfully we have You Tube! Go here to watch Alton Brown explaining the many different kinds of knives and their uses. And here is Simply Ming showing good knife holding technique. And here is one more showing how you can put a little skill into good use by making quick work of mincing an onion.
Salmon Cakes with mashed potatoes and a tossed salad plus some Bubbies fermented sauerkraut was the menu for Tuesday. I used the Salmon Cakes recipe from the Well Fed Family Eating With the Seasons cookbook. I am currently sold out of the cookbook, but will have a new e-book version available soon. In the meantime use this recipe for salmon cakes from Practical Paleo.
Lemon Rosemary Roast Chicken with Red Potatoes was Wednesday’s dinner. Here is a link for a similar recipe although mine used more garlic, rosemary and melted butter. I doubled the recipe and saved the meat from the extra chicken in the freezer for later, and then put all the carcasses in a big stockpot to make broth. I can’t remember what we had along with this, but broccoli or a salad or some kale would go well.
Hotdogs with oven fries and coleslaw was for Thursday. My son makes great spicy oven fries and that is a big help when I’m trying to get a quick dinner on the table before a ballgame. I like to make homemade hotdog and burger buns in big batches (using the recipe from my Breads DVD) and then keep them in the freezer, but in a pinch you can also find sprouted hotdog buns from Ezekiel or Alvarado Bakery in many health food stores and groceries. Homemade is much cheaper! Here is a simple bun recipe from King Arthur
Chuck roast in the crockpot was an easy supper for Friday. I put quartered onions and several chunked up carrots in the pot first and then put the grass fed chuck roast on top. I sprinkled the whole thing generously with an herb blend from Simply Organic called Spicy Steak, put on the lid and that was it. That evening we made some smashed potatoes to go with it, sliced up some tomatoes and cucumbers and had an old-fashioned Southern supper. Here’s a similar recipe for how I make mashed potatoes, however I don’t peel the potatoes, and I just mash them right in the cooking pan instead of dirtying another bowl!
Each week when I make up my menus I try to have at least one night of beef and one night of fish. When I have access to good pasture-raised pork I also include that. Using homemade bone broth several times a week, whether in a soup or cooking rice with it, is also something I try to do. We work on having fermented and raw foods every day whether at breakfast, lunch or dinner. Sometimes every meal!
I have learned the hard way that planning a menu for each week will save me money in the long run. If I come up with a really good menu that everyone loves I will stick it in a folder so I don’t have to reinvent the wheel every month.
Do you have menu planning tips to share? How do you live frugally and still eat well?
This blog is for informational purposes only. Some links may be monetized. Thank you for supporting Well Fed Family with your purchases.