Improvisation & Two Recipes!

img_1062

When it comes to food, improvising is what I do. Some vegetables aren’t in season, what do you do? You use something else or omit altogether. Want to make a summer recipe in the winter – go to town, just use different veggies and the stove vs. the grill. Don’t want to run to the store AGAIN because you forgot one bloody stalk of lemongrass? F-it. Blow it off and find something else.

I got home today from our annual family Sun Peaks vacation. I LOVE this vacation for many, many reasons. Just a few:

  1. Love to do any and all things outside – we live in a beautiful part of the world, get outside!
  2. I get to hang with my fave peeps – my stepdaughters, son in law, my grandson, and my hubby.
  3. We relax, eat, drink, and laugh, laugh, laugh.
  4. We do this for several days in a row.

Back to food and improvising. I picked three recipes I was going to make when I got home tonight so we would have dinner for the next couple nights and Dale would have food while I am gone at a seminar all weekend long. This meant an easy soup, roasted veggies, a quinoa salad, and something in my IP.

Went to the store, and bloody hell, didn’t have half of what I needed. Oh well. Left it out or Googled “what’s an alternative to XXX” and went from there. My point is this: a recipe is a guideline – it’s a loose framework. This is about the only place I use my imagination – sad, but true. I feel very creative in the kitchen, even when cooking under stress (get it done so I can unpack, etc.). I love cooking – it soothes me.

Have I told you, lately, that I love my InstaPot (sung to the tune of the Rod Stewart song…)? It’s amazing. It allowed me to cook a beautiful Bo Kho from NomNomPaleo easily while I tended to the quinoa salad and the Sausage Kale Soup.

I will post my improvisation recipe for the Bo Kho soon, but for now, here’s what I whipped up. Perfect for the rainy weather that is to come to the PNW this weekend.

greenquinoasalad

Green Quinoa Salad

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa, cooked in your fave broth (chicken for me)
  • 1 bag frozen peas
  • ½ cup torn basil leaves
  • 3-4 cups spinach
  • Avocado when ready to serve

*Mix all of these things together. Put the peas in a bowl with the spinach. Then toss the hot quinoa over it. Add basil. Add avo LAST when ready to serve.

Then whip together:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 5 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp minced basil
  • S&P

Add dressing to salad to desired ‘drenchedness’. I know that’s not a word but whatever. It’s what came to my head. I tossed in already cooked chicken thighs I had on hand. Not necessary, but delish. Donezie.

kalesausagesoup

Kale-Sausage Soup

  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cups diced celery
  • 3 cups diced carrots
  • 2 containers (box) Chicken broth
  • 1 can rinsed, drained Great Northern Beans (white beans)
  • 1 garnet yam, peeled and diced
  • 8 Chicken Sausage, sliced (I used chicken sausage with spinach – so good)
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp fennel seed
  • S&P to taste
  • 1 bunch dinosaur kale de-ribbed and chopped roughly

Sautee garlic, onion, carrot and celery for 7-10 minutes, this is ‘sweating.’ Add broth, beans and potato, bring to boil, reduce heat to medium low. Add sausage and spices. Give it 10-15 minutes, test the tater. If al dente, add kale, let heat through so tater is soft. Viola – S&P to heart’s content, or, get crazy and add more red pepper flakes. So good with a little heat.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

IP Lamb Goulash

So, I’ve had an InstaPot for awhile now and have tried a few recipes, but when Jennifer Robbins released her cookbook, Paleo Cooking with your Instant Pot, my heart SOARED. I was excited – sure, there’s tons online, but this book is dedicated to the IP, AND, she gives alternatives for the crockpot! Whoop!!

My goal is to get through this entire cookbook – and quickly. My IP is the best thing that ever happened to my busy life. I cooked two meals in it on Sunday (from her book). While one was cooking, I prepped the other one. Two full meals – done. While that was happening, I made my egg bake and smoothies. Viola! A week of cooking done in about three hours. Not too shabby, folks.

And yes, below you see a close up of the goulash, the book cover, and me post WOD. And yes, I went out in public like that. Good GRIEF.

bloglambgoulash

Ok, here’s my first recipe from the book. I didn’t LOVE it when if first came out of the IP – didn’t seem to “wow” me. Had it today – two days of sitting in its own yummy spices – and HOLY COW it is amazing. Giving it two thumbs up. I think you can sub ground chicken if you want to as well – but I loved the lamb. Also, since I’m having issues with peppers lately, I don’t use them. I sub other veggies, you’ll see that below.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp cooking fat
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cups cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces (subbed cauli and broc for red pepper)
  • 2 cups broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 yellow potatoes, small, diced
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 2 lbs ground lamb
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • Goes well with cilantro – lime rice, top with sour cream

How to:

Grab your InstaPot, turn on the sauté setting, and heat your oil. Add onion through carrots and sauté. At the same time, grab a skillet and cook your lamb through. The ONLY reason I did this was because I made a double batch (you’ll want to – it’s good). So, all of it would have taken longer to sauté in the IP vs. cooking the two separate and just incorporating. Unless you have a large IP – I do not. Onward!

Once all is done, incorporate together into the IP and add the rest of the ingredients (except for the rice).

Close the lid, press the Meat/Stew button, and cut the time by 10 minutes. Let ‘er rip.

Once stew is done, release the pressure valve (be careful). Once all pressure is out and it is safe, remove lid. Press the Keep Warm/Cancel button, then press the sauté button and stir for five minutes. You’re getting some of the liquid out. Top with sour cream if you desire, or toss over cauli rice. Or both, get crazy on your bad self.

 

 

 

 

Crock Pot Whole Chicken

Ok, I’ve always been skeptical about making a whole chicken in a crock pot. I think it’s because I LOVE roasting them …but, today, I decided to give it a go. It’s super easy and it’s freaking good. Tender, juicy and perfectly flavorful. Enjoy!!

IMG_4068

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients/How To:

  • 1 whole chicken, 4-5 lbs (I get the two pack organic from Costco); rinsed and patted dry, take out giblets
  • 1 onion, chopped and placed in bottom of crock pot

Season/dry rub of choice:

  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt/pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne

Mix the rub together well, rub all over chicken, dump some in cavity.

Once you rub-a-dub-dub the chicken, placed breast side down in the crock pot, on top of the onions. Put on high for 4.5 hours. Viola, you are done.

Crock Pot Kalua Pork

Thank you once again, Nom Nom Paleo!!! This was DELICIOUS. And easy!

I followed the recipe exactly as she did it – didn’t want to screw it up. This was the easiest, most flavorful meat I’ve done in the crock pot – seriously. It was great. It’s all about the Hawaiian Sea Salt…in my eyes, anyway. But I love salt, so there. Anyhoo…

IMG_4069

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://nomnompaleo.com/post/10031990774/slow-cooker-kalua-pig

On the meat – bought a two pack pork butt at Costco. It was perfect, didn’t have to trim any fat and the size was perfect for a 6qt crock pot. I’m very excited to have this as leftovers in cabbage cups with shredded carrots, jicima, red onions and some sauce….can’t wait.

Enjoy!!! And thank you Michelle Tam!

Tarragon Bok Choy Salad

This was SO REFRESHING! Great flavors, appealing to the eye, texture was great with the bok choy…so good. Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 ‘head’ of bok choy, sliced (Note, this video gives you three different cuts for the bok choy. I used the sliced, but I also used the leaves!! The leaves add great flavor, use them. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpFHsHpCUPw)
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 5-7 Red radishes, roughly chopped
  • 3-5 White radishes, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 yellow tomato, diced
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed Italian parsley, chopped

Dressing

  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1tsp dried tarragon
  • 1/3 cup olive or grape seed oil
  • bit of salt and pepper
  • Mix above ingredients together, set aside

Mix the ingredients together, toss in a bowl. Add SOME of the dressing, toss with the salad. Add more dressing if you see fit, otherwise, save for another salad. Enjoy!

Chorizo Jalepeno Meatballs

Ok, I’ve been out of commission – mentally, anyway. My brain is full. SO FULL. I’ve done a lot of physical education lately as well as taking a class through the local community college…this on top of work, my second job as a trainer, training myself, trying not to forget everything I’ve learned, and other ‘stuff’ I have going on. I am grateful for it all – but there are times (the entire last 30-45 days) that I’m not sure my brain can hold it all…so my blogging has taken a hit. I currently suck as a blogger.

I have been cooking, so I will share what I can remember…some of which I’ve actually written down which was smart of me. I can swing smart every once in awhile.

I am trying not to laugh my ass off right now. My dog Mia (pro. mYa) is looking at her reflection in the window…and wagging her tail. Apparently she likes what she sees.

On to the food! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1lb ground beef
  • 1 package of pork chorizo, cooked
  • 2 jalepeno peppers, stems off and minced (with seeds) – I could have easily went for 3, but I didn’t want to set people’s mouths on fire, so kept it calm. Add more if you want more heat!
  • 1 egg (if you add more meat, add another egg)

How to:

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Mix everything together
  3. Make golf ball sized meat balls
  4. Place on lined cookie sheet
  5. Cook for 25 minutes (check at 22)

Viola! That’s it! 🙂 I cook the chorizo first to get rid of some of the grease…these turned out great. ENJOY!

Cilantro Lime Yams

I am loving garnet yams, I’ve probably mentioned that 1000 times. Sorry. It gives me that carb satisfaction…which I need since I’ve started running again. Anyway, this is a refreshing side dish to any meal and great to mix in with your eggs in the morning. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 3-5 garnet yams, peeled and diced small-medium, tossed in coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp chives
  • 3 tbsp cilantro
  • Juice of 1-2 limes
  • Salt to taste

How to:

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Foil a cookie sheet.
  3. Toss yams with melted coconut oil, then spread into one layer on to cookie sheet.
  4. Cook for 30 minutes, check and cook until done.
  5. Toss with cilantro, lime juice and chives.
  6. Sprinkle salt on taters. Serve.