I think I need more time.  More time to cook, more time to blog, more time to invent.  Yet, with my work schedule, kids schedule, husband schedule, dogs schedule....I find that lately I am throwing things together and crossing my fingers and hoping for the best.  Today was no different!  I bought pie pumpkin the other day and wanted to do something creative and yummy with it.  It sat on my kitchen counter looking very fall-ish, I contemplated just leaving it.  But today, I just decided to jump in.  So I roasted the pumpkin.  Roasted pumpkin is SO good, you can use it in any recipe that calls for canned, you just want to be sure and puree it really well.  Pumpkin is also incredibly healthy. 
So because, I didn't realize that my posting of these incredibly delicious little muffins has my Facebook friends waiting oh so patiently for the recipe, I"m just going to get right into it...I didn't write any of it down, so it's going to be tricky!

Paleo Pumpkin Protein Muffins

1 small pie pumpkin or 1 15oz can of organic pumpkin
15 dates (if your are like me, you bought some and never knew what to do with them)
1/4 +2 tbsp of raw honey
1/2 cup +3 tbsp of organic coconut milk (here is a tip, when you have leftover coconut milk from a can, store it in a mason jar.  It will separate, the top is coconut creme...SO good in coffee!)
1/2 tsp of vanilla
3 eggs
1/4 cup of coconut flour
1 cup of almond flour
1 tsp of baking soda (not sure if this is paleo, I have read about paleo baking soda and powder but haven't found any)
pumpkin pie spice
1 scoop of your favorite vanilla protein powder

In a food processor, chop the dates.  Add the 3 tbsp of coconut water, 2 tbsp of raw honey, and vanilla.  Process until smooth, probably about 10 minutes.  Make sure you use a heavy duty processor, the dates will be sticky.  In another bowl mix your eggs, pumpkin, 1/2 cup of coconut milk and 1/4 cup of raw honey.  Add the date mixture to this...be very careful that you do not eat all of the date mixture.  It is incredibly addicting. 

In ANOTHER bowl mix your dry ingredients then add them slowly to your wet ingredients.  Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.  Add the batter to the top of each one.  The muffins come out dense and do not rise too much.
Bake at 350 for about 1 hour.  Keep an eye that they don't get too brown on top. 

We taste tested them about 30 minutes after they came out, they were a little moist in the middle, but I wouldn't cook them anymore.  I put them in a container and stored them in the fridge.  As far as taste...if you love pumpkin pie, you will LOVE these



 
 
Fall, it's probably my favorite time of the year...until Summer, then it is my favorite time of the year.  Oh and I also really like Spring.  Winter, though, not so much.  I could do without Winter which is probably why I live in Texas, there isn't much of a Winter here!  Anyway, one the best parts of Fall is the food.  Pumpkin and spices, soups and stews, hot chocolate and chai tea lattes....mmmm, just the smells are enough for me! 
Today was rainy.  Not cool by any means, but it rained...and if you looked outside and imagined, you could pretend that there was a crisp bite in the air...just make sure to stay inside and keep your ac on!  So, after school I made the incredibly bad decision to take my kids with me and run to the grocery store to get something for dinner.  Bad because I was catapulted back to the toddler years.  They bickered and fought and did the whole "Riley touched me!" and "Can I have this or that?" and it was NON STOP and I stopped in the wine section and visited my friend Lou and ate some cheese and sampled the wine...and then proceeded to add multiple bottles of wine to the basket of Paleo ingredients for tonight's dinner, because after all I am only PART TIME paleo.  After getting home, and laying everything out I realized I had no idea what I had bought and really wasn't sure how I was going to throw it all together.  Riley looked at me like I was insane when I mumbled that we were having something with shrimp, oh and pumpkin.  Really, I had zucchini, pumpkin, ginger, onion, carrots, shrimp, coconut milk, organic chicken stock and some of the cheese that I was sampling with the wine.  Oh and I had wine. Here is what I came up with.

Pumpkin Shrimp Curry

2 Zucchini chopped
1/2 bag of shredded carrots
1/2 of a sweet yellow onion
1 inch piece of fresh grated ginger
1 pie pumpkin roasted OR 1 can of organic canned pumpkin
1 quart of organic chicken stock
1 can of organic coconut milk
2 lbs of shrimp
1 1/2 tsps of tumeric
Dash of Sea Salt to taste



So determined to figure this out, I got started.  First I began by heating up about 2 TBSP of coconut oil, I have stopped using almost every other type of oil, including butter...GASP, yes it is true, my southern heart weeps at the omission of butter...but my body is a little happier I think.  To the coconut oil add 1/2 of a chopped onion and some shredded carrots.  You can be an over achiever if you would like and shred your own, or you can just buy the already shredded kind and toss those in.  WAY easier.  Saute that until soft.  In the meantime, cut your pumpkin in half and scrape out the seeds.  Put both pieces, meaty side down on a baking pan with just a little water in it and roast in a 450 degree oven for about an hour.  If you don't have time to do this you can use organic canned pumpkin...just make sure it doesn't say Pumpkin Pie filling on it...or else you may end up with a pumpkin pie soup.  Once the pumpkin is roasted you are going to add one can of coconut milk, the quart of organic chicken broth, about an inch long piece of fresh grated ginger, the roasted pumpkin and 2 chopped zucchinis to the onion, carrot mixture. 
Here is the fun part.  Now you get to use your immersion blender.  You do have an immersion blender right?  If not, stop everything and go buy one.  Really, it will become yours and your soup and mashed truffle cauliflower's bestest friend!   Using your immersion blender...or I guess if you really don't have one (geeze) then you could pour it all in a regular blender.  The idea is that you want to get the mixture smooth...like bisque type smooth.  Once that is done you are ready to add your shrimp and spices. Do this to your liking.  The ginger adds so much flavor, that it really doesn't need much at all!



 
 
So I have been trying to do this whole Paleo thing.  It's hard, but if I have learned anything in the last 5 months (since starting Crossfit) I can do hard things. Kind of.  For the Paleo diet, I have decided to be 100% Paleo, like 75% of the time.  So with that being said, I have decided to convert this little blog into a page that will show people how to do Paleo...or at least, clean, healthy eating, without compromising taste.  So many people have the misconception that eating healthy means not getting to enjoy the good food anymore, but that is so untrue.  Just about ANY recipe can be converted into a healthy alternative and still be incredibly delicious.  Case in point...my Shrimp and Grits tonight. I am a southern girl...a deep south, fried fish, shrimp gumbo, cook everything in butter southern girl.  Shrimp and Grits just may be one of my most favorite southern dishes.  It's right up there with Crawfish Etouffee and a giant loaf of crusty, flaky, fresh out of the oven french bread. (momentary pause while remembering the taste of that amazing bread) BUT, all is not lost.  I have perfected Shrimp and Grits paleo style and it just may be better than the original...no I take that back, it IS better, WAY better and WAY healthier.  SO, here is the recipe.  I went into this blind and failed to take pictures along the way, but it's ok, make it anyway...you will not be disappointed!  
Paleo Shrimp and Grits

2 lbs of fresh shrimp
Old Bay seasoning or Tony's or both
Coconut Oil for cooking

"Grits"
1 head of cauliflower, riced, or processed until crumbly
1/4 of sweet onion finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic minced
3 cooked and mashed sweet potatoes
1 can of lite coconut milk, organic
3 tbsp of almond flour
salt and pepper
crumbled bacon
Coconut Oil

Heat oil in a large saute pan, add onion and garlic.  Cook until soft, add the can of coconut milk and stir, whisk in the almond flour and stir until slightly thickened.  Add the riced cauliflower and stir, you will most likely need to add water to the cauliflower, about 1/2 cup.  You want the cauliflower thick but not dry and not runny.  Cook on medium for about 10 minutes and then add the mashed sweet potatoes, bacon, salt and pepper.  You can add other seasonings as you like, we like spicy food, so a little cayenne was perfect.  

Meanwhile in another pan heat about 2 tbsp of coconut oil over medium high heat and add the shrimp.  Sprinkle with the Old Bay and cook until pink.  

Spoon the "grits" onto a plate and top with shrimp and parsley.  If you want to cheat a little on the Paleo part, a little fresh shredded smoked gouda is PERFECT on top.  

And that's it.  The grits take a bit to prepare, but they are SO worth it!  Enjoy!  
 
 
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Really, I don't know what these are called, but that title pretty much summed it up!  
I discovered a love for brussel sprouts about 2 years ago at Thanksgiving when my mom made them.  Normally I just stir fry them with a little olive oil, bacon and a drizzle of red wine vinegar, and that alone is wonderful.  Roasted whole in the oven they are also as good...but tonight I topped myself.  These are by far the best brussel sprouts, maybe the best anything I have cooked in a long time, and yes I say that at least once a day!  They are extremely easy and I highly recommend you make them soon, like go to the store and make them tomorrow, soon.  You will not be sorry!
Here is the recipe:


1 Bag of Brussel Sprouts, trimmed and cut in halves or quarters 
1 container of sliced mushrooms ( I used the baby bellas)
1 shallot finely diced
1 clove of garlic finely chopped
4 slices of bacon
1/2 cup of full fat coconut milk
1/4 cup of cooking sherry
2 tbsp of butter, melted
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 475, layer brussel sprouts evenly on a foil lined baking sheet and drizzle with melted butter, season with salt and pepper and cook for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile cook chopped bacon until crisp, add mushrooms, shallot and garlic and cook until soft.  Add coconut milk and sherry.  Add brussel sprouts and toss to coat, cook until sauce coats the back of a spoon.  

That's it!  Serve with your favorite steak and make your taste buds happy!  




 
 
With the abundance of carrots and green tomatoes I have gotten in the past few weeks, I was having a hard time keeping up with cooking it all.  So I decided to start pickling them!  The carrots came out so, so…I’m going to have to continue to experiment.  However the green tomatoes are a whole other story, I seriously think I stood at the counter and ate half a jar today!  So here’s the recipe, you can adjust the heat to your liking.  This recipe is adapted from The Homesick Texan, she has some GREAT recipes and I highly recommend you check her out!
Spicy Pickled Green tomatoes

Ingredients:
6-7 medium size green tomatoes, sliced and cut in half
1-2 jalapenos sliced in half or for more heat you can use serranos the same way
2 TBSP (1 for each jar) of McCormick Pickling spice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt

2 wide-mouth pint jars or 1 wide-mouth quart jar, sterilized

Evenly distribute the sliced green tomatoes, sliced pepper, pickling spice and garlic into the jars. In a saucepan, bring to a boil 1 cup of water, the vinegar, and sea salt. Pour the boiling vinegar mixture into the jars leaving a bit of room at the top to avoid overcrowding. Cover with lids.  Allow to cool and then refrigerate. They will be ready after 8 hours and will last for about 2 months in the refrigerator, although if you love them as much as I do, I don’t expect they will last that long!

Do you have any good pickling recipes that you would like to share??  I would love to hear from you!

 
 
My daughter, Emma is almost 9.  She LOVES to help me in the kitchen and she also enjoys trying new foods.  When I showed her this... (courtesy of The Root! The tomato, not the picture!)
she was a bit confused.  Her first reaction was to laugh, because it IS a really funny tomato.  We decided it was two tomatoes that fell in love and all the little tomatoes around it were the babies.  She then begin to question what on earth were we going to do with GREEN tomatoes?  I casually explained to her that she wasn't a true southern girl until she had eaten them fried...yep, fried green tomatoes...my mouth just waters at the sound of it!  She then helped me slice them up and watched as I prepared them along with some sauteed shrimp with garlic and remoulade and also some cajun seasoned grilled chicken.  As I am writing this I am confused as to why it has taken me 8 years to introduce my southern belle of a daughter to such a edible tradition...the only thing I can think of though is that up until recently her mouth was glued shut and it was close to impossible to put anything remotely healthy or different from spaghetti o's in it!
And because shrimp with remoulade sauce goes with fried green tomatoes, just like peas go with carrots...although I can't say that I have ever actually eaten or cooked peas and carrots before...but anyway, you get the point!

Although there is a bit of a mess factor when it comes to preparing the tomatoes, they are pretty easy and so amazingly delicious that any mess is long forgotten after that first bite!  Emma tenatively lifted her fork dipped hers in ranch dressing and then she popped it in her mouth.  Her first description was that it sure didn't taste like a tomato and that she loved how it had just a little bit of a tangy taste to it.  She devoured at least 5 big slices! 

The recipe is so easy...

Fried Green Tomatoes
5-6 green tomatoes, the greener the better for frying
2 cups of flour
4 large eggs
1/4 cup milk or buttermilk if you have any
2 cups of cornmeal
Cajun seasoning
 Oil for frying

On one plate put 1 cup of flour.  In a bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together.  On another plate mix the other cup of flour the cornmeal and a good dose of Cajun seasoning.  Heat the oil.  Dust a slice of green tomato with flour, then dip in the egg mixture and finally coat very well with the cornmeal mix.  Carefully place in the hot oil and fry until golden, about 2 minutes per side.  I drain mine on a wire rack over a baking sheet, if you lay them on paper towels, they sometimes tend to get soggy, just so you know!  Serve with shrimp or chicken or both!  Top with the remoulade sauce!

Remoulade Sauce (Courtesy Emeril Lagasse)
Juice from 2-3 large lemons
1/2 cup of chopped green onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
3 tablespoons Creole mustard
3 tablespoons ketchup
3 tablespoons yellow mustard
3/4 cup of olive oil
3 tablespoons of chopped parsley
salt and pepper

Mix all the ingredients together well and then use an emulsion blender or food processor and add oil and process until smooth.  Toss together with the shrimp and serve alongsi


 
 
I am LOVING my weekly deliveries from The Root!  Not only does my family get a fresh supply of organic, sustainable produce each week, but my kids have gotten so excited to see what kind of new goodies that we have gotten!  The variety changes each week depending on what the farms are producing.  We have gotten an abundance of greens, lots of fresh carrots...some of which are making faces...
There are a couple of challenges with fresh produce that hasn't been slathered in chemicals.  They go bad faster!  Storage is very important as I have learned, greens need to be stored quickly in a very cold crisper or they will start to wilt and fresh broccoli will do best if eaten in the first days after getting the shipment.  The other challenge is figuring out what to do with some of these new veggies that I have never really cooked before...like turnips...and beets...I wasn't even sure if I LIKED those vegetables.  Well, me being me, I decided to turn it into a challenge to make something absolutely delicious and I succeeded.  Here are 2 recipes (sorry no pics!) but I encourage you to try them and then I encourage you to contact The Root if you are local in the Houston area and give them a try, I promise for the price and the quality you will not be disappointed! 

Grilled Beets with Roasted Walnuts and Goat Cheese Salad
1-2 bunches of fresh beets, green stems and leaves removed (these can be cooked if you would like)
1 cup toasted walnuts
6-8 ozs. of fresh goat cheese (of course I make my own, but you can use store bought!)
Fresh spinach, arugula or other types of tender greens

Wrap the whole beets in foil and grill on med-high for about 30-40 minutes.  When finished open them up and let them cool completely.  Once cool, rub the skins, they should peel right off.  I find it easier to cut the top and bottom of the beet off and then peel it.  Yes, your hands will turn "beet red" :)  but do not fear it washes right off, however be careful of white porus cutting boards and clothes...those don't fare as well!  Once the beets are peeled, chop into slices or quarters.  Toss with the walnuts and crumbled goat cheese.

Dressing 
1/4 cup of honey
3-4 tablespoons of dijon mustard
2 tablespoons or a good drizzling of olive oil
3-4 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Top the spinach mix with the beet mixture and pour the dressing over the top.  Toss it all together and serve! 

Made this yesterday and even those die hard beet haters enjoyed it! 

Pureed Root Vegetables
1 bunch of parsnips peeled and chopped
1 bunch of carrots peeled and chopped
1 bunch of turnips peeled and chopped
2 cups of chicken stock
splash of cream
salt and pepper

Boil all of the root veggies together until fork tender.  Drain the water and return to the pot.  I like to start with one cup of the stock and salt and pepper.  Using an immersion blender is easiest, however you could probably get the same effect with a food processor.  Blend until smooth, adding the cream and more chicken broth as needed.  The consistency should be a little softer than mashed potatoes.  You can also add fresh herbs to yours, I added a little thyme, however they are perfect with just salt and pepper alone!  Enjoy!  My kids thought this dish was wonderful!!

We are trying a new trend here in our household, MEATLESS MONDAY...yep, you heard that right!  I am not sure how my husband will adjust but he agreed to give it a shot, SO wish me luck!  I'm waiting on my new shipment of produce right now so I can figure out what will be cooking...I will be sure to let you know how it goes!  Also, there is a rumour that there may soon be some new additions to our household...egg laying kinds!  Be watching for updates on that!







 
 
In this case a teeny, tiny seed.  As you know, the cost of everything is going up.  And not just in money.  Our health is at risk, as I read more and learn more about what type of processes our food goes through to make it from a farm or in most cases a processing plant to the grocery store, it becomes clearer and clearer to me that this is NOT what I want to feed my family.  Case in point, just recently in the news was an article about a meat packing plant in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, it appears that the plant was dumping pig blood and waste into the nearby Trinity River...

Yes that is blood...running right into the city's sanitary sewer system.
While the company states that there was a clog in the drain line, my thought is clog or no clog it still seems highly WRONG for that type of material to be put into our river systems at all...period...the end.  If this is how they treat our ecosystem and our water sources, how do they treat the animals and the meat that they are packaging there at the plant.  How sanitary is it really? And this is just one plant out of thousands.  No thank you, I'd rather KNOW for sure where my meat is coming from, and my produce for that matter.  There is a reason that things like veggie washes exist and guidelines on how to properly clean all of the pesticides and bacteria off of your produce.  Again, no thank you.  I understand that I have done this for years, eaten package meats and purchased produce with no thought whatsoever as to where it really was coming from, but that has changed a great deal as prices have gone up and news about e.coli outbreaks have risen and talk of test tube hamburgers have made the news!  Now when I buy things I really stop and think about what it is that I am getting and what it took for it to get to me.  So that brings me to 2 things...one we are buying a cow.  Well, let me rephrase that, we bought 1/3 of a steer.  We are having it processed locally through a new meat market in our neighborhood.  If you haven't heard about the Kingwood Meat Market, you really need to check them out!  Locally owned, they cut their steaks there and the meat is all very fresh, as in VERY fresh.  We had steaks last night and they were wonderful and their pre-seaosoned fajita meat is absolutely the best!  In addition, I have signed into a co-op and may try out a few more.  Fresh fruit and veggies delivered weekly to my front door, as I write this I just got my first shipment from The Root, it all looks wonderful and I'm ready to cook!  But, the most exciting thing for me right now is this...
This is how it's really getting started.  Say hello to my little friend...broccoli.  I started seedlings about a month ago, I planted them in little cups in a warm, sunny spot in my kitchen.  In all I had 4 cups with seedlings of broccoli, 3 cups for bell peppers, 3 cups for jalapenos, 4 cups for eggplant, 4 for cucumbers and 7 with heirloom Russian tomatoes and an added bonus of black sea man (insert joke here).  In addition, this weekend I went out and bought squash, zucchini, more tomato varieties, more cucumbers, and planted seeds for beets, patty pan squash, kohlrabi, carrots, onions, purple potatoes, green beans and black eyed peas.  Now, let me answer a question I'm sure some of you have...no I have NEVER done this before.  I have planted small gardens with tomatoes and herbs and the occasional jalapeno plant.  This is a first and I am so excited!
We started by clearing a spot in the yard, in this case, it was back in a secluded area near our pool pump, away from the dangerous paws of labs...
It is very important that you have your sous chef with you, Kelsey is a good, hard worker!!! :)  We were actually in luck, this ground was great to work with, the soil wasn't hard and packed like it sometimes is here in Texas...all the rain has probably contributed to that as well!
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This cool, medieval looking thing is called a Garden Weasel...get one before building your garden! It is great at tilling the ground up!
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Now if you have a manly man around that can help, it would be a good idea to use him! This is where the boxes are built and placed in their spots.
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Our boxes are 5x5' and 10" high.
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We laid 1 yard split equally between the 2 beds first.
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and finished it up with 1.5 more yards of good quality garden soil mix. Please do not judge my husband on his attire....please.
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For deep rooted vegetables, like onions, carrots, beans...I used 5 gallon container buckets. Make sure to drill holes in the bottom and drop a few rocks (thanks dad!) in for proper drainage.
And then it was time for food.  And sleep.  I was anxious to get my plants in the ground but also anxious to get my butt on the couch!  The garden could wait till tomorrow, and besides, then I would have the help of my trusty, plant loving, dirty girl, friend, Heather to assist me!  We worked most of the day, transplanting everyone to their new home...and encouraging them to grow big and strong.  I think it might be important to talk to your plants...but who knows!  :) 
So there you have it!  My garden is growing and I hope that I have many wonderful blog posts with recipes using my yummy earth grown, totally organic and raw veggies!  And be on the look out, I will be posting a new recipe in the next day or so! 
 
 
I made cheese...I never even imagined making cheese, but yep, I did it!  I made creamy, mild, delicious goat cheese.  From fresh from a farm goats milk, not store bought, not ultra pasteurized, just fresh RAW milk, which in turn made fresh RAW cheese.  LOVE IT!  First of all let me start by saying that we know this farm...we have been getting our fresh eggs from them for over a year now.  I would not recommend just getting milk from any old goat!  Soon we will be getting fresh beef as well...have I mentioned how amazing it is to know where your food REALLY comes from?  I am so into this, it has become an obsession!  Anyway, back to the cheese...here it is. I made almost 2 pounds of goat cheese for about $6.00.  Do the math.  Four ounces of crumbled goat cheese at the store goes for about $4!  The recipe is so simple...and I have step by step instructions that I will post tomorrow.  I just had to share my excitement in the fact that I. MADE. CHEESE.  Mozzarella is next, then maybe some brie, or perhaps a good gouda...hmmmm???
 
 
The Gods of electronic devices are working against me...starting with my phone, which is unbearably slow and freezes at the most irritating moments!  Then my brand new lap top, which works fine, it's the charger that a Moose destroyed, that is the problem...it finally decided that taping it together just wasn't going to work anymore.  And then tonight, my camera, which I love...it's a third arm for me, unfortunately it too runs on a battery and I tend to forget that important little point.  So that leaves me to where I sit tonight, staring at grainy pictures I took with my point and shoot and working off of my husband's little netbook (which has NO Photoshop or any photo editing software for that matter) but no worries, I'm not really sure I could do much with what I took anyway.  I am such a photo SNOB!  Anyway, I trudged on and made an amazing Greek Chicken dinner tonight and while I am not going to post all of the pictures (I am including just the one of the finished dish) I am going to share the recipe with you because it was TOO good not to!  It's healthy, packed with all kinds of good stuff and filling.  I even made the most amazing hummus as a snack and ate it with the most addicting Lentil chips I have ever had (they are really the ONLY Lentil chips I have ever had).  So here it is, go ahead laugh at the picture, but if computers had smell-o-vision your mouth would really be watering!
Delicious Greek Chicken

Ingredients:
One Pint of Cherry Tomatoes
Olive Oil
4-5 Cloves of Garlic
1/2 Sliced Sweet Onion
1 Can of Cannellini Beans, drained
1/2 cup of pitted Kalmata Olives
6 Chicken Thighs Bone-In (Skin removed)
3 sprigs of Oregano chopped
2 tbsp of chopped fresh Mint
1 Lemon
1/4 cup white wine
Greek Seasoning
Salt and Pepper
Baby Spinach
Feta Cheese

In a large deep skillet with a lid, dump your cherry tomatoes, whole into your heated olive oil.  Add the whole cloves of garlic and thinly sliced onion.  Cover with the lid and cook on med high. The tomatoes will start to burst, that's ok, that is what they are supposed to do!  Warning, if you chose to take the lid off, be prepared to get popped!  I recommend just leaving the lid on for about 5 minutes or so.  Once the tomatoes and onion are soft, add the mint and oregano, along with the cannellini beans and kalmata olives.  Let it all simmer and come together, season with a little salt and add the chicken.  Sprinkle the chicken with the Greek seasoning and squeeze the juice from one lemon over the top of the thighs, I added the lemons to the pot to allow the rest of the juice to evaporate from them.  Pour the wine into the pan and cover with the lid, let the chicken cook on medium for about 20-25 minutes until cooked through.  Pile some fresh spinach onto a plate and place the chicken on top, spoon a generous serving of the tomato mixture over the chicken and spinach and top with crumbled feta cheese. 

That's it, another delicious, simple, healthy and low fat meal!  My kids loved it too!