Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Stuffed Pepper Soup

    For people who say they can't cook, this recipe is legit dummy proof.  There is no way on earth this could be messed up.  It is so simple.  Like,  dumb simple.  All of the ingredients you might already have in your house,  so it's one of those go to quick meals.  It's also clean,  and paleo if you omit the rice.  I added 1/2 cup of rice to each of my prepped meals, because I sometimes need that to feel fuller longer.

Stuffed Pepper Soup
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Serves: 6-7

1 1/2 pound 80/20 ground beef (you can use organic or 90/10,  if your rich)
3 small green peppers, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, diced
28 ounce can of diced tomato
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp red pepper flakes
salt, pepper for seasoning
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup water

1.  Heat a nonstick pot over medium high heat.
2.  Add ground beef and allow to cook until no longer pink,  about 5 minutes.
3.  While the meat is cooking,  dice all of your veggies.
4.  Drain fat from meat, reserving about 2 tsp in the pan.
5.  Add in green peppers and allow to saute for 5-7 minutes,  until softened.
6.  Season with salt and pepper.
7.  Add onions and garlic,  allow to cook for about 5 minutes.
8.  Add red pepper flakes and cumin.  Season again with pinch of salt
and pepper.
9.  Add tomato paste,  mixing it into the meat and vegetable thoroughly.
10.  Add diced tomatoes and water.
11.  Cover and allow to cook for 45 minutes.
12.  Serve with brown rice or quinoa---additionally add cheese if you are not paleo and like cheese.  If you don't like cheese,  you are the equivalent of Satan.  

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Sweet and Spicy Meatballs in Mushroom Gravy

My coworker just smelled this as I was eating my lunch and asked all about the recipe.  We talked a lot about how eating plain during the week is something you need to get over. It was definitely something I had to get over.  Before I started prepping my meals I really struggled to eat the same thing day in and day out.   Even sometimes now I can't stand to eat all of my prepped meals.  It's really a mind over matter thing.  I am about to talk about two things:  the mind game of eating the same meal,  and the mind game of cooking relatively plain.  

I think some of us need to force ourselves to eat the same meal over and over again.  But the key for me was to find out how many times I could actually stand eating something in repetition.    In the beginning I would prep 6 or 7 of the same meal and end up throwing half of that prepared food away. I had to learn over time that I can stand to eat something about 4-5 times before it begins to gross me out, in a sense.  I also have a weird thing when it comes to food which I feel is too old.  I cannot eat something on Thursday that I made on Sunday.  I just can't do it.  So I learned I had to prep on Sunday day and Wednesday or Thursday night.  

I have always cooked pretty fancy,  with tons of ingredients.  I had to learn to eat plain during the week,  and eat fancy (if I chose to) on the weekends.  Someone once said to me KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID (KISS), in regards to something totally different,  but I started applying it to my everyday eating.   My typical go to meal is 4 ounce of chicken with seasoning,  1/2 cup starch,  and a vegetable. I may make 6 of those,  but change the starch and the vegetable throughout so I don't get bored.  But again if I made it Sunday,  I ain't eating it Thursday.  NO WAY NO HOW.

Sweet and Spicy Meatballs in Mushroom Gravy
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45-50 minutes
Serves: 5-6 (2 meatballs per person)

Ingredients for the Meatballs
1lb ground meat mix---pork, veal, beef (typically says meatloaf mix)
1/2 cup Almond Flour
1 egg
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp parsley
2 tsp Smoked Paprika
3 tbsp Sweet Chili Sauce 
2 tbsp oil,  for frying

Ingredients for Mushroom Gravy
1lb Button Mushrooms, sliced
1lb of Bella Mushrooms,  sliced
1 white onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, diced
28 ounce can of diced tomatoes
3 tbsp Tomato Paste
1 cup of water
1/4 cup parsley (plus more for garnish)
1 1/2 tsp of salt
1 tsp of pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp oil, for sauteing 

For the Mushroom Gravy:--

I would recommend making the sauce first, then the meatballs since they are less time intensive.  This should make your sauce and meatballs finish right around the same time.

1. Heat a large pot over medium high heat with 1 tbsp of oil.
2.  After the oil has thoroughly saute your onions for 3-2 minutes, add a pinch of salt and pepper.
3. Add mushrooms and allow to saute until light brown and glossy, about 5 minutes.
4. Add  garlic and continue to saute for about 3 more minutes (add garlic last so it does not burn, burnt garlic=bitter).
5. Add spices and tomato paste---incorporate well and allow to cook for an additional 2 minutes.
6.  Add diced tomatoes and water.
7.  Bring to boil.
8.  Reduce heat to low,  cover with lid (I used my little dutch oven because I am now obsessed with them now).
9.  Allow to cook for 30-45 minutes,  stirring occasionally.

For the meatballs:

1.  Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
2. Heat a large cast iron skillet (or nonstick, whatevs)over medium high heat (without oil!!) for 5-7 minutes (if you are using nonstick,  you have to add a touch of oil so your house doesn't burn down).
3.  While the pan is heating,  mix all of the ingredients for the meatballs together into a large bowl.  Mix gently and do not over mix.
4. Once you feel your pan is hot enough coat with 1-2 tbsp of olive oil. 
5.  Roll the meatballs into balls weighing about 3 ounces each.  I chose 3 ounces because that would cook down to right around 2 1/2 ounces per ball---making two total balls 6 ounces (do you like how I keep calling them balls for shits and gigs?)
6.  Drop the meatballs into the skillet and allow to brown on each side for 4-5 minutes.  The important thing to remember with meat and a skillet is it will move when it is ready.  If it doesn't budge when you try to flip it,  it isn't done.  Meat will naturally release from a greased pan when it has browned.
7.  Once the meatballs have browned on each side place into the oven (either in your cast iron or on a baking sheet) for about 15-20 minutes until the meat has cooked through.

Garnish with additional parsley and Serve :)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Hummus Crusted Chicken

This recipe is simple, clean,  and easy to make for several people or for prepping.  I never thought to cook with Hummus before. One day, it dawned on me. Mostly because Pinterest.  Every good idea comes from Pinterest.  Which begs the question---what did we think about before Pinterest?     I saw a homemade hummus recipe while Pinning and I thought---who doesn't know how to make hummus?  Which began to distract me from my original mission which was to get new ideas for chicken.  AND WHA BAM----the two ideas came together like Adam and Eve,  Mariah and Nick Cannon,  Peanutbutter and Jelly, Cleans and Jerks, and Whitney and Bobby.  Yes, it was that iconic.   Almost as brilliant as when Moses parted the red sea.

You could most def. make your own hummus for this.  I did not.  Not because I can't,  I've made hummus a couple times,  but honestly I live by this simple notion:  if it ain't broke, don't fix it.   There is a good reason why I don't make Wonton Soup,  which we've talked about before.  I have no business making wonton soup when Golden Garden does it just fine,  and I got no business making hummus when Sabra does it better than fine.  

Seriously,  the real reason is my intention was not to impress people with this meal.  I live alone.  So any meal I cook that serves 4-5 people,  really serves me 4-5 times during the week.  When I prep all my meals for the week on Sunday,  the last thing I want to do is make life harder.  If I can cut a corner by purchasing something pre-made, like hummus or guac,  I will.   

Hummus Crusted Chicken
Prep: 10 min
Cook: 35-40 minutes
Serves: 4-5

4-6 chicken breasts, about 3 or 4 lbs.
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
1 cup roasted red pepper hummus, homemade or purchased
juice of one lemon
cooking spray

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2.  While the oven is preheating clean the fat and skin, if necessary, from your chicken breasts.
3. Pat chicken breasts dry.
4. Spray a cast iron skillet (or a baking dish if your not cool enough to have a cast iron) with olive oil cooking spray.
5. Place all of the chicken breasts into the skillet.
6.  Season chicken breasts with the spices: salt, pepper, paprika, and chili powder.
7.  Using the back of a spoon or a spatula smoother the entire cup of hummus over top the chicken breasts.  It will look almost like there is no longer individual chicken breasts, but one big one--see below.
8.  Squeeze the juice of one lemon onto the hummus covered chicken breasts.
9.  Cook for 35-40 minutes or until done. 
10.  Before removing,  switch the oven to Broil and allow the hummus crust to really harden a little bit like bread crumbs--should only take a minute!

Serve with veggies! This is my prepped meals for the week using this 4 ounces of chicken and 1/2 cup of steamed broccoli.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Perfect Pot Roast

To all new cooks, I recommend spending the money and getting a nice dutch oven.  Any meat cooked in a dutch oven is amazing.  I actually got two for Christmas.  Hence, I didn't spend the money to get one.  But looking back now at all those pot roasts in the crock pot,  buying one a long time ago would have been a wise choice.  I got two expensive dutch ovens,  and one is just big enough for a roast and some veggies.  This meal is perfect for a dinner party of four, or for prepping meals for the week.

It's raining today,  which is perfect pot roast weather.  Pot roast has an amazing smell as it cooks.  It fills the whole house with the smell of winter :).  Or,  the smell  of  meat which  equals winter.  Deal with my logic.

Perfect Pot Roast
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook:  3 1/2 hours
Serves: 4-5

3-4lb Bottom Round Roast or Chuck Roast
2 large white onions, diced
4 cloves of garlic, diced
1lb of baby carrots, cut in half
1 tsp or so of salt
1 tsp or so of pepper
2 tsp of Italian Seasoning
2 tsp of Garlic Powder
1/2 cup of Balsamic Vinegar
2 cups water
4 tbsp Tomato Paste
2 tbsp olive oil for browning

1. Preheat your oven to 275 degrees
2.  Grease the bottom and sides of large dutch oven with two tablespoons olive oil and heat to medium high heat.
3.  Season the roast well with salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder.
4.  Place the roast in the dutch oven, rotating from side to side every 3-4 minutes.  Allow to brown on each side.
5.   Turn the heat down to medium.
6. To dutch oven, add onions and garlic.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until translucent.
7.  To the onions and garlic,  mix in Tomato Paste.  Mix the Tomato Paste in well until the onions and garlic have a red tint and there are no chunks of tomato paste in the dutch oven.
8. Add baby carrots and allow the vegetables and meat to cook together for 1-2 more minutes.
9. Add balsamic vinegar and two cups of water.
10.  Place the lid on the dutch oven, and place dutch oven in the 275 degree oven.
11.  Allow the roast to cook for  3 1/2 hours.
12.  Remove from oven and allow to cool with the lid off for 10 minutes.
13.  Shred beef and serve with vegetables and potatoes or brown rice (I ate it all week with brown rice.  I prepped it into containers with 1/2 cup of brown rice and 4 ounces of meat.  This made about 5 containers).