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.

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.

My Morning 8 Ball – Squash “Pancakes”

Paleo Pancakes

Paleo Pancakes

Several weeks ago I signed up for my first CSA (community supported agriculture). A CSA is a wonderful thing. (If you are in the Phoenix area, this is the one I use.) I have been so impressed with everything about this. Once a week I pick up a large paper bag filled with 8 different things. It is mostly veggies and occasionally some fruit. Everything is organic, local and SUPER fresh. Another reason I am loving this is that I am receiving things that I normally wouldn’t buy or even think to try. One week there were dandelion greens in the bag. I had never tried them before and for that matter have never seen them for sale anywhere either. We tried them and liked them. It’s been fun for me to figure out what to do with the variety of foods I receive each week. Last week I received a squash I had never seen of, nor heard of, before. It’s called an eight ball squash. The first time I made them I stuffed them with a meat/veggie mix and covered them with a vegan “cheese” sauce. It was pretty good but not blog worthy. I got more of those squash this week. On a whim I came up with this. It was so incredibly good! My very picky four-year old said, “they don’t look very good but they are YUMMY!” I was honestly stunned. She ate 3 of them! They are simple, low carb and very satisfying. I fried these in lots of bacon fat which added a lot of flavor to a relatively bland veggie. You save your bacon fat, right? That stuff is like gold! Since most people probably don’t have eight ball squash lying around you could use yellow squash, grey mexican or zucchini too. They taste very similar. I served them with a Vietnamese style dipping sauce. These savory pancakes are low carb, GAPS legal, grain, soy, dairy, corn, and gluten free.

See mom, here is another grain free breakfast!

Eightball Squash Savory Pancakes

2 eight ball squash (navel orange size)

6 eggs

1 tsp celtic sea salt (to taste – I like salt so beware)

freshly ground black pepper

1 T coarsely chopped fresh basil

bacon fat or fat of choice

Vietnamese Style Dipping Sauce

1/4 cup preservative free fish sauce

juice of 1 lemon

2 T water

freshly ground black pepper

Slice squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Then with a veggie peeler, peel the skin off. Cut in large chunks and place in food processor. Pulse briefly to a coarse chop, then add eggs, salt, pepper and basil to bowl and process again until well combined. In a preheated cast iron pan add 2-3 T bacon fat. Then scoop egg /squash mixture out in 2-3 T heaps. Fry on med – med/low until eggs are set and the bottoms are browned. Carefully flip. They are quite tender so you really need a lot of fat in the pan so they don’t break apart due to sticking. Cook the second side until browned. Remove from pan to a plate lined with paper towel to soak up any extra drippings.

While you are frying the rest of the pancakes mix all ingredients for the sauce in a bowl.

Serve together while pancakes are still hot.

This recipe has been shared at Monday Mania 6/6/11 @ The Healthy Home Economist.

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

Shrimp Curry Quiche

Shrimp Curry Quiche

It has been a long time since I posted anything. Almost daily I am getting new subscribers (welcome everyone!) and the guilt of my inactivity has been mounting. I have to admit, I have been feeling less than inspired in the kitchen. As of December 1st last year we have made a committment to change the way we eat. We have cut out all grains, sugar and anything processed. Additionally, I have eliminated dairy. Dairy does not like me although I miss it terribly. Usually when I have restrictions I feel challenged in the kitchen and it sparks me into action. Not this time. There has been just nothing creative going on between my ears. Maybe it was the busyness of the holidays or the fact that we all got a horrible cold that has been lingering for 3 weeks. Anyway, I think I have come out the other side as I have been in the kitchen for 2 solid days. Yesterday I started some green beans with dill and garlic that I am lacto-fermenting. I’ve never done anything lacto-fermented before other than sauerkraut so I am excited to see how those turn out. I made bread (for the kids), nut bars (which I will post soon), Mongolian Beef, pot roast, coconut oil mayo and salmon. Tonight will be shepards pie. Today for lunch was this Shrimp Curry Quiche. It was really quick to put together, flavorful, and filling. My four-year old who is quite possibly the most picky eater ever ate 2 big pieces. I had to hurry up and take pictures before we ate the whole thing. I think this would be great for breakfast, lunch or dinner and would be perfect served with a simple green salad. This is low carb, gluten, casein, grain free and has dairy free options.

Shrimp Curry Quiche

1 T coconut oil

1/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper (approximately half a pepper)

1 lb large raw shrimp peeled, deveined and cut in half

s&p to taste

6 eggs

6 T ghee (or coconut oil) ***ghee is casein free***

3/4 cup coconut milk (full fat)

2 T curry powder (more or less to taste)

s&P to taste

400 degrees, 25 minutes

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Oil a 7×11 baking dish with ghee or coconut oil. Set aside. Heat coconut oil in medium saute pan. Add diced red bell pepper and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add shrimp and salt and pepper to taste. Saute on medium heat for another 5 minutes or until shrimp are cooked through. Don’t over cook them, they will get tough. Remove from heat and set aside. In a large bowl mix eggs, ghee or coconut oil, coconut milk, curry powder and salt and pepper. I used a very mild madras curry powder so it is full of flavor but not too spicy. When curry powder is well combined add shrimp and peppers and mix. Pour into prepared baking dish and bake for 25 minutes or until center is set. Serve immediately.

Pizza Crust

Cheesy GF Pizza

Since going gluten free do you miss great pizza?  Is making pizza at home dependant on whether or not you have a mix in the cupboard?  Do you hate the rise time needed for yeast based crusts?  If you can relate, I have got the answer for you.  This is my pizza crust recipe.  It’s super quick to put together, requires no yeast and so therefore no rise time.  It doesn’t have that gluten free bread texture (if you’ve ever bought gf bread you know what I am talking about)  and I am betting that if you do any gf baking at home you already have all the ingredients in your pantry.  Oh and did I mention that it is AWESOME!?  A word of warning: if you like cheese you are going to LOVE this and it is really hard to have just one piece.  We occasionally go out for pizza and while it is nice to eat out sometimes, it is really expensive.  Just yesterday we celebrated my daughters 4th birthday and the bill at the pizza restaurant was $74 for just the 5 of us.  YIKES!!  Even when we splurge and eat out I hear at least once from someone who says the pizza we make at home is much better.   I have to agree.  It is much better!  The last couple of times we made this we made 4 or 5 batches at once (maybe more, I can’t remember).  I put Ron to work doing the mixing and the rolling while I measured and cleaned.  We ended up with 18 pizza crusts to freeze.  When we want pizza we pull a couple of these out, add the sauce and toppings and bake.  They are ready to eat in less time than it would have taken to order in if we had that option – which we do not.   

Cheesy GF Pizza Crust (yeast free)

1 cup tapioca flour

1 cup white rice flour

4 cups grated mozzarella cheese (room temperature – helps with mixing)

2 tsp baking powder

2 eggs

1 tsp salt

1-2 tsp italian seasoning or fresh chopped rosemary

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all ingredients in a really big bowl.  Mix dough with your hands until the cheese shreds are no longer visible and you have a cohesive dough.  If it seems too wet you can add a bit more tapioca flour until you get a smooth dough ball.  Divide dough into large orange sized balls.  To roll out you can either flour your counter with tapioca flour or rice flour or you can roll it out between two pieces of parchment paper, which I think is easiest.  We generally make crusts sized 6-10 inches across.  Roll them out until they are a bit thicker than a pie shell.   I can’t say how it will turn out if you make it much bigger than that.  Transfer crusts onto baking pans.  You can leave the parchment paper underneath and save yourself the washing of a cheese crusted baking sheet.  Bake for about 10 minutes or until the edges start to brown (the center will not be completely baked).  When they are at this point you can do one of two things.  You can add your sauce or olive oil and toppings and put it back in the oven, still at 350, until the center is hot and bubbly, maybe another 10-15 minutes.  Or you can let them cool and then freeze them in ziplock bags.  We make the crusts small enough to fit into the large ziplock bags.  Then when you need a quick lunch or dinner you can just pull out a couple of pizza crusts, top them and put them in the oven at 350 for 15 minutes or so.  Again, it’s done when the center is hot and bubbly.

Thai Mahi Mahi

Thai Mahi Mahi

I’ve been wanting to incorporate more fish into our diet.  However, I need to broaden my horizons and come up with different ways to prepare it.  I will usually make fried fish and chips using Mahi Mahi.  I like it because it is really mild tasting and firm so it holds up well when frying.  It’s really good that way but recently I tried Mahi Mahi with a Thai flair.  It was really really good for those days when you want something a bit lighter than a fried fish.  I served it with brown basmati rice, amaranth, cilantro and lime.   

Thai Mahi Mahi

2 T coconut oil

5 cloves garlic, finely minced

1/2 onion, finely minced

1 T ginger, grated

1 red pepper, julienned

1 can organic coconut milk

4 kafir lime leaves (If you don’t have them try using lime zest however these lime leaves are what gives a lot of Thai food that characteristic flavor.  They are sooo good.)

2 T fish sauce

5 pieces Mahi Mahi

large handful of baby spinach leaves

lime juice from one lime

In a large saute pan heat coconut oil over medium heat.  Add minced garlic and onion.  Saute for approximately 5 minutes until soft.  Add ginger and red pepper.  Saute for another couple of minutes.  Add coconut milk, lime leaves and fish sauce.  Stir to combine.  Add Mahi Mahi without overlapping.  Spoon sauce over top so that the fish is submersed so it will poach.  Cook on medium heat for approximately 10 minutes or until fish is done.  Prior to serving mix in a handful of baby spinach leaves and squeeze juice of one lime over top.   To serve put one scoop of rice on plate and put fish and sauce over top.  Serves 5.

Brown Basmati Rice, Amaranth, Cilantro and Lime

1 cup brown basmati rice

1/3 cup amaranth grains

2 cups water

salt to taste

handful of chopped cilantro

juice from one lime

In a rice cooker add rice, amaranth and water.  When it is finished cooking add salt, cilantro and lime juice.