Cabbage Rolls – Paleo Approved

Paleo Style Cabbage Rolls

You simply have to try this.  It is a teeny bit time consuming but worth every minute.  The cabbage rolls I remember – and it’s been a really long time – were stuffed with white rice and ground beef.  These cabbage rolls are stuffed with ground beef and cauliflower rice so are therefore low carb, GAPS legal and paleo approved.  I did all the work the night before.  I made marinara from scratch, as always.  I suppose you could buy a jar or two if you are short on time but the sauce is great and has no weird ingredients so I think it is worth the effort.  I stuffed the cabbage rolls, put them in my crock pot, covered them and put them in the fridge overnight.  In the morning all I did was cover the rolls with the marinara and set the temperature to low.  I came home to an unbelievable aroma and a dinner ready to be devoured.

Paleo Cabbage Rolls

1 large head of green cabbage

Remove core and steam entire, intact head of cabbage in 1-2 inches of water for approximately 5-8 minutes.  Set the cabbage in the water core down.  There is a fine line between over cooking the leaves and leaving them still too stiff to be pliable.  It is probably easiest to steam for 5 minutes, allow to cool enough so that you can peel off the outer leaves and then stem for another couple of minutes to soften the inner leaves.  When you have the leaves soft but not too cooked and separated, set them aside.

Marinara

2 T olive oil

1 large onion chopped

6-7 cloves of garlic, minced

2 stalks of celery, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

1 can tomato paste (6 oz)

1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz) or 2 cups chopped fresh

1 tsp dried basil

1 1/2 tsp dried oregano

2 cups stock/bone broth, preferably homemade (I happen to use pork because that’s what I  grabbed out of the freezer. Beef or chicken or whatever would work too)

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

2 tsp red wine vinegar/or fresh squeezed lemon juice

Heat large saute pan and add olive oil.  Add onion, celery, garlic and carrots.  Instead of hand chopping these I just put them all in the food processor using the S blade and made it into a fine meal consistency.  It doesn’t really matter because you are going to blend the final sauce anyway.  Saute until veggies are soft, approximately 10 minutes.  Add tomato paste, diced tomatoes, salt, pepper, basil, oregano and stock.  Simmer, covered for about 30 minutes then remove from heat.  Add red wine vinegar/lemon juice.  Start mixing the filling for the cabbage rolls now (See next section).  When you are done making the filling and the marinara has cooled a bit, use a stick/immersion blender or even food processor to blend your sauce to a smoother marinara.

Filling

1 large finely chopped onion

2 T bacon grease or other fat of choice

4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tsp Italian seasoning (this should be only herbs with no fillers or preservatives)

1 1/2 lbs of ground beef (I used grass-fed)

1/2 large head of cauliflower, grated in food processor (I guess this could be done with a box grater but I value my knuckles and time)

1 egg

2 tsp sea salt

black pepper, however much you like

Saute onion and garlic in saute pan with fat.  Cook until onions are starting to brown and are soft.  In a large bowl combine raw beef, onions and garlic with remaining ingredients.  Mix well.   Using your hands is easiest.

Assembly

Fill each cabbage leaf with about 1/4 cup of filling.  Roll into cylinders and tuck flat edges under.  Some of my smaller leaves were still a little stiff (this is why I think the steaming should be done in two steps) so the edges were not tucked.  It didn’t matter.  I just wedged the looser ones in between the tighter ones.  I did all of this the night before and placed them in my crock pot, covered them and put them in the fridge overnight.  In the morning, well mid morning, I pulled them out and covered the rolls with all the sauce.  I set the crock pot to low and left the house.  I came home to dinner ready and an absolutely amazing smell.

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Stuffed Squash

Stuffed Squash

Honestly, I’m not a big lover of squash.  I eat it because it is a sort of neutral filler, it’s often cheap and it’s low carb.  I can’t eat it by itself.  Ick.  In something like my lasagna, sure no problem.  So, in my CSA bag for the last few weeks there were several squash.  I made some squash pancakes which were great but I still had a few of those squash that have the hard yellow exterior.  Those things were staring at me every time I opened the fridge for a week.  I considered giving them to the chickens.  I am so glad I didn’t.  This is by far the very best way I have ever eaten squash.  I loved it and so did everyone else.  It was great in my lunch the following couple of days too.

Stuffed Squash

4 squash halved lengthwise, seeds removed

olive oil

s&p

Drizzle squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.

Filling

2 T fat of choice (I used bacon grease)

1 large onion, chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 T Italian seasoning (check ingredients. there should only be herbs in there – no fillers or preservatives)

1 tsp salt

pepper to taste

10 sliced black olives (maybe 1/3 cup)

1.5 lb ground beef

1 can diced tomatoes or 3-4 chopped fresh

1-2 tsp red wine vinegar

Heat oil in large saute pan.  Add onions, bell pepper and garlic.  Saute for approximately 10 minutes or until veggies are nearly cooked.   Add ground beef, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.  When beef is nearly cooked through add tomatoes and olives.  Cook until beef is done.  Remove from heat and add vinegar.  When squash is tender remove from oven and fill tightly with ground beef mixture.  Return to oven and bake for 10 additional minutes at 375.  Serve immediately.

9 Layer Lasagna – Grain Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free, Gluten Free (Dare I say Paleo??)

9 Layer Lasagna (Grain and Dairy Free)I got this idea in my head to do a lasagna. It would have to be free of grain, gluten, dairy, soy, corn, citric acid, brewers yeast. No problem right? Actually, it wasn’t hard. Time consuming, absolutely. I won’t kid you there. Honestly, it took most of the day. In the end it was more worth it than anything else I can think of. It made a huge pan so there were leftovers for days. As I write this I am making it for a second time so that I can freeze it and then take it with us on vacation in a couple of days. We are going to San Diego. We rented a condo on the beach so that I will still be able to cook most of our meals. Eating out isn’t really an option so I need to make stuff ahead of time. Along with this lasagna I am making a no bean paleo chili, my Banana Pecan Muffins, NutBars, beef jerky, honeyed almonds, fruit leather, bread (for the kids), Almond Chocolate Chip Scones, Brownies, Almond Rosemary crackers, Chocolate Power Balls and chicken liver paté. We leave in 2 days. I have so much to do that I am feeling more than a little overwhelmed. So why am I sitting at the computer??? I have to get moving. Here is the recipe. I do hope you will give it a try. I bet you’ll love it!

If a vegan or vegetarian meal is what floats your boat I think that this would work great if you omitted the beef and eggs. I have not tried it so I can’t say for sure but would bet it would be great.

9 Layer Lasagna – GF, DF, SF, CF, Grain Free

Cashew Cream Layer (aka Ricotta Cheese Layer)

2 cups raw unsalted cashews – soak for approximately 6 hours or overnight

juice of half a lemon

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup water

4 eggs

In a large bowl add cashews and cover with water. Soak for 6-8 hours. Drain and rinse. Add cashews, lemon juice, salt and water to blender. If you have a Vitamix this will go really quickly. If you don’t have one a blender works just fine. Blend until smooth. This takes several minutes. Be patient. It really does get as smooth as sour cream. Add the eggs and blend to combine. Pour into a bowl, cover and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble.

Squash Layer

Grilling Eggplant

Grilling Eggplant

3 yellow squash

2 zucchini

1 eggplant

olive oil

sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Slice all vegetables to about 3/8 of an inch thick. Spread out on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat BBQ/grill to high. Grill veggies in batches until they are soft but not mushy. Let them get a bit browned before turning them. The grilled flavor is amazing in the lasagna. The purpose of grilling is to not only add a ton of flavor to somewhat bland veggies but also to let them release their water so that your lasagna does not end up looking like soup. When veggies are browned and cooked removed from grill and set aside.

Mushroom Layer

1 lb sliced button mushrooms or whatever type you have on hand

fat of choice (I used expeller pressed coconut oil)

Coconut aminos (tastes much like soy sauce without the soy) or salt and pepper to taste

Saute mushrooms on high heat in your fat of choice. When they are nearly done and browned a bit add the coconut aminos or S&P. Remove from heat and set aside.

Beef Layer

1 lb grass-fed ground beef

1 T fat of choice (FOC)

1 small onion

3 cloves of garlic

S&P to taste

Heat saute pan and FOC. Add ground beef. Meanwhile add onion and garlic to mini food processor and process until it is chopped up fine. You can do this by hand too if you don’t have or want to drag out the food processor. Add onion, garlic, S&P to beef. Continue to cook until beef is cooked through and onion and garlic are cooked and soft. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble.

Marinara Sauce

1 T FOC

1 onion

1 large carrot

4 cloves of garlic

1 can of tomato paste

1 tsp Italian seasoning (Without fillers. Ingredients should be only dried herbs.) Or use fresh chopped herbs if you have them, such as basil, oregano, thyme, marjoram, rosemary.

S&P to taste

water

Heat FOC in medium sauté pan. Add onion, carrot and garlic to mini food processor and process to a fine chop (or chop finely by hand). Add veggies to pan. Add S&P and saute for 5-10 minutes until cooked. Do not brown. Add tomato paste and sauté for a minute. Add Italian seasoning and approximately 1 1/2 can (tomato paste can) of water to pan. Let simmer for approximately 20 minutes. Let cool for a bit then add the marinara sauce back into the food processor. Process until you have a pureéd sauce instead of a sauce of visible veggie bits. Check seasoning and adjust if needed. Set aside.

Spinach Layer

1 T FOC

1/2 – 3/4 lb fresh baby spinach

S&P

freshly grated nutmeg

Heat sauté pan and FOC. Add spinach, salt, pepper and several grates of freshly ground nutmeg. Cook spinach down and continue to cook until all liquid has reduced. Remove from heat and set aside.

The Assembly

This part is quick. Heat your oven to 350°.

1) In the bottom of a deep lasagna pan (I used a 12x8x3 inch pan) pour approximately 1/3 of the marinara sauce in the bottom and spread evenly to coat.

2) Using all of the squash, lay it flat to form an even layer.

3) Using all of the mushrooms create your next layer.

4) Combine approximately 1/3 of the cashew cream and the second 1/3 of marinara to create a pink sauce. (You have got to taste this. Think of the possibilities!) Pour this over the mushrooms as evenly as possible.

5) Using all of the eggplant create your next even, flat layer.

6) Evenly spread all of the beef on top of the eggplant.

7) Lay all of the spinach on top of the beef. Yes, you sort of have to lay it out piece by piece.

8) Pour remaining two thirds of cashew cream over the spinach.

9) Pour remaining third of marinara sauce over the cashew cream.

Cover lasagna pan with foil. Bake at 350° for approx 1 1/2 hours or until it is heated through. Remove from oven and set aside for 10-15 minutes to let it set. If you can restrain yourself long enough this part really pays off. If you don’t wait until it cools a bit it will not stand up in pretty layers. Slice and serve.

***Since writing this we have returned from our vacation. I made this lasagna and froze it. When we got to the condo I left it in the fridge to thaw. Two days later I baked it at 375° for about an hour and a half. It came out just as good this way as it did the first time.

This post was entered in the Monday Mania 5/23/11 over at The Healthy Home Economist.

This post was entered in Primal Cave #3 at Primal Toad

This post was entered in The Weekend Gourmet May 23 at Hartke is Online

This post was entered in Traditional Tuesdays Blog Hop May 24 at Real Food Whole Health

This post was entered in Grain-Free Tuesday 12 at HellaDelicious

This post was entered in Real Food Wednesday May 25 at Kelly the Kitchen Kop

This post was entered in Real Food Weekly May 26 at The Whole Gang

This post was entered in Fight Back Friday May 27 at Food Renegade

The Only Dry Rub You’ll Ever Need

Have you been reading all the science out there implicating sugar in diabetes, heart disease, atherosclerosis, cancer and virtually every other disease of modern civilization.  Sugar is the new saturated fat.  Well, sugar and salt actually.  At least the headlines have one out of the two right.  It’s not that the science is new but that for the first time it is actually being studied.  This country has spent the last 50+ years demonizing saturated fat and ignoring the obvious.  I am in the middle of a fascinating book right now, Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes.  Don’t let the trivial sounding title fool you.  This is no light read. Taubes systematically obliterates the lipid hypothesis.  Everything that we have been told for the last half century is just that; a hypothesis.  An unproven hypothesis at that.  I highly recommend the book.  It totally gets me fired up!  

So what’s a girl to do when she wants to make baby back ribs or beef ribs?  BBQ sauce is out of the question.  If you scour all the bottles of it at the grocery store it will be difficult if not impossible to find one without high fructose corn syrup.  Even if you do manage that feat the BBQ sauce will contain sugar and lots of it.  I had looked at Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce since it is apparently gluten free but there is sugar in there in 7 different forms.    Yes, SEVEN.  The first ingredient is HFCS.  Now hereI give you a much better alternative and there is NO sugar in it.  It is a dry rub that goes with pork, beef and chicken.  As I write this I am making beef ribs in the oven (which is insane by the way as it is 100 degrees out!).  It smells amazing in here.  I  coated the ribs in this rub and am baking them at 275 for several hours.  I did this with baby back ribs earlier this year when my mom was here and they were incredible.  Here is everything you will need.

 Dry Rub 

2 T kosher salt

2 T mild chili powder

2 T paprika

1 T garlic powder

1 T onion powder

2 tsp cumin

2 tsp oregano

1 tsp allspice

Mix it all up and apply liberally.   Store extras in a sealed container for the next time you need a quick seasoning.

Picadillo

Here is the dish we always have with the Cuban Black Beans. Nothing compares to it. Total comfort food. Definitely a must try!!

Picadillo

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
3/4 cup beef stock
1 tablespoon white sugar
1/2 cup chopped prunes
3/4 cup chopped pimento-stuffed green olives
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon capers, drained

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef. Cook and stir until no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Stir in the onions and bell pepper. Cook until soft, then add the garlic. Season with cumin, chili powder, oregano, paprika, and cinnamon. Cook and stir for about one minute to release the fragrance. Pour the tomatoes and beef stock into the pan, along with the sugar. Stir the prunes, olives, capers. Simmer on med low for 20 – 30 minutes. Add vinegar before serving. Serve along side white rice and black beans.

Ethiopian Night

Once again I find myself being grateful for the Celiac diagnosis. Not for the disease I should clarify but for the diagnosis. Had we not needed to change the way we eat we wouldn’t have had such a cool dinner today. A few weeks ago Ron saw on TV a program that talked about Teff. It is a gluten free grain which happens to be really nutritious. It is a mainstay of the Ethiopian diet. From Teff they make a bread called injera. He thought it looked good so he went ahead and ordered 25 lbs of the whole grain AND 25 lbs of the flour without even running it by me and without even ever trying the stuff. I guess he has some confidence in my abilities in the kitchen. Anyway, it arrived last Friday. It is really good. It is mild and I think the closest thing to wheat that we have tried yet. So then I started looking for recipes for injera. It sounded pretty simple but lots of people mentioned it being really hard to make. I can’t imagine why. Here is the recipe: 1 1/2 cups of teff flour, 2 cups of water. That’s it. You mix it up and cover it with a dishcloth and let it sit on your counter for 2-3 days to let it ferment. Then add salt and pan fry it like a thin pancake. Fermenting is supposed to be really good for you but I have never done it before. I started it Friday and we had it today. We really liked it. It was like a sourdough pancake or crepe. Along with the injera I made 2 other Ethiopian dishes. I have to confess, I thought Ethiopian cuisine was probably not much more than a timber float (glass of water with a toothpick). Boy, was I wrong. It was unique and wonderful. I was pretty impressed that I even had everything in the house to make it. Here are the recipes.

Berbere

1 teaspoon fresh ginger grated
1 teaspoon whole cardamom seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
1 teaspoon whole fenugreek
1/4 teaspoon whole nutmeg freshly grated
1/8 teaspoon whole cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon whole allspice
2 tablespoons finely chopped onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons salt
1 cup paprika
2 tablespoons ground cayenne pepper (I have kids so used 1/8 t)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1-1/2 cup water

In a cast-iron skillet, toast the ginger, cardamom, coriander, fenugreek, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and allspice over low heat. Do not burn; this should only take a minute or so. Set aside to cool. Then grind in spice grinder.
Combine the spices, onions, garlic, 1 tablespoon of the salt, and 3 tablespoons water in a small jar of a blender and blend until smooth.
Combine the paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and the remaining tablespoon of salt in the skillet and toast over low heat for a minute or so. Stir in the water, 1/4 cup at a time. Then stir in the blended mixture. Stirring vigorously, cook over the lowest possible heat for 10-15 minutes.
Transfer the berbere to a jar, packing it in tightly. Let the paste cook to room temperature, then cover with a film of oil. Store in the refrigerator between use.


Beef Stewed in Red Pepper Paste (Sik Sik Wat)

2 onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger root
1/2 teaspoon ground fenugreek
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons Berbere
2/3 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup water
8 oz. tomato sauce
2 teaspoons salt
3 lb. lean boneless beef, cut into 1″ pieces
Black pepper

In a large stewpot, cook the onions over moderate heat for about 5 minutes, or until they are soft and dry. Do not let brown or burn.
Add the garlic, ginger, fenugreek, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg. Stir well. Add the berbere and stir for 3 minutes. Add the wine, water, tomato sauce, and salt, and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the beef and turn the pieces around in the sauce to coat. Cover the pot and simmer the beef for about 1 hour over low heat. Season with black pepper.


Alecha Wats

1 onion chopped
2 tablespoons
oil
1 1/2 teaspoons berbere
2 carrots peeled and cut into 3cm slices
2 green bell peppers, de-seeded and quartered
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup
passata (tomato sauce)
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ginger paste
2 potatoes cut into thick slices
1 tomato blanched, skinned and cut into 8 wedges each
1 small cabbage cut into wedges
salt and pepper

Add the oil and onions to a large saucepan and fry until the onions have softened, add berbere, fry for a minute then add the carrots, green peppers, water, tomato sauce, salt and ground ginger. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes before adding the potatoes and tomatoes. Cover and cook for 10 minutes before adding the cabbage. Season to taste and cook until the vegetables are completely tender (about 25 minutes).


As I said this was unique and very good. Even Sage ate 2 bowls. We made it fun by eating on the floor Ethiopian style and we were going to do it without utensils too but I just couldn’t. Too messy. Traditionally Ethiopian food is eaten without utensils. The injera is folded in quarters and used to scoop up your meal. The girls got quite a kick out of this. It was fun. We will definitely do it again. I also have leftover Berbere so I need to find some more recipes to use it in. I feel pretty fortunate to have a husband who is almost as adventuresome as I am when it comes to trying new foods.

10 Veggie Spaghetti Sauce

My mom always made her spaghetti sauce from scratch. I didn’t know any other way until high school when I was over at a friends place for lunch and she made spaghetti and used the stuff from a can or jar. To say that I was unimpressed was an understatement. So I too have always made it from scratch. Mine isn’t anything like my moms at all though. My moms is great but since my family seems to be veggie phobic I use spaghetti sauce to load them up on veggies. I hide them in there. I have served this to guests many times and nearly always I am asked for the recipe. I do put ground beef in here but I should try it without.

10 Veggie Spaghetti Sauce

1 lb ground beef
1 large onion
7-8 garlic cloves
1 ribs celery
2 carrot
1 green pepper
1 small zucchini
1 bunch fresh spinach
8 oz fresh button mushrooms
1 small eggplant
1 small yellow/summer squash
2 small cans tomato paste
2 15 oz cans tomato sauce
28 oz can diced tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 T oregano dried
1 T basil dried

In a large pot brown ground beef. Once browned put beef in food processor and pulse. This just give the ground beef an equally fine texture. Then return beef to pot. Add onions and garlic to food processor and pulse until you get a uniform fine texture but not so much that it has turned into a puree. Add to beef. Repeat with celery, carrot, green pepper, zucchini, spinach and summer squash. Do each vegetable separately in the food processor or you end up with a puree. Sprinkle with salt. Cook until softened. Add tomatoes. Dice eggpland and quarter mushrooms and add to sauce. Simmer for an hour or so. Adjust seasonings to taste. This makes a lot so I freeze meal sized portions. When I am stuck for something to make on short notice this is perfect.