Pineapple Pork

Creating and making a meal feels like such an indulgence to me right now; when we are in the school year I am typically in school, too. So although we have weekly standards, they rarely fall into the "fun, festive, culturally expansive" categories and instead land with a thud in the categories no one is too proud to advertise. Like..."leftover scramble night" or "hash night". I'm planning on doing some writing about meal planning, which I find stressful and a bit deceiving but right now I can say that when I'm busy, it shows up on the plate. Frustrating for me as I'm someone who loves to cook and sit down to a meal made with some feeling behind it. So when things do slow down a little, I often have moments of, "Hey! I'm not doing anything...I could cook. Actual food!" Tonight was one of those nights and so, instead of asking around to see if anyone had something left in their lunch they could eat for dinner (it happened once in a moment of desperation) I made something I knew would at least get marks for being colorful and hot. Luckily, it totally filled my take-out cravings. 

One piece of advice for this recipe, and cooking in general - If you use the pork tenderloin as suggested, don't be afraid to ask your butcher to prep it for you by removing the silvery skin you'll notice on the cut. Taking it off makes a big difference!! I've found that most people working behind the counter are happy to take an extra step for you. If they don't have pork tenderloin or that's not in your budget at the moment, ask what they have that would work for a stir-fry. I've learned so much (and gotten a lot of free/discounted stuff) over the years just by being conversational and expressing an interest when I'm putting in my order. 

Tonight we had this with rice and baby bok choy and white snap peas (who knew) from our CSA. Since the pork is really flavorful, just add about 1/2 cup chicken stock to a small, shallow pan, put it on medium high then add your baby bok choy and spread a few handfuls of snap peas around. Cover with a lid and steam for 5 minutes. Perfection! 

Ingredients:

1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp garlic powder
4 tbsp coconut oil or cooking oil of your choice
1 onion, cut into large dice
1 green or red pepper, also cut into large dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp ginger, minced
2 stalks thin, crisp, very green celery (sorry, this is not negotiable. clean out the vegetable drawer another day)
2 cups pineapple chunks, juice reserved
1 lb pork tenderloin or other tender cut, chopped into large bite-sized pieces

Pineapple Sauce

1/4 cup coconut aminos
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (rice vinegar would work, too)
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1 tbsp arrowroot powder (cornstarch would also be fine)
Sesame seeds and green onions for garnish


First, prepare the pork. Mix the sea salt, paprika, cayenne pepper and garlic powder in a small bowl and once the pork is cut up, open the paper it came wrapped in and spread it out on the counter. Arrange the pork in a single layer, sprinkle it with the rub then work it in work your hands. Once it's all mixed evenly, loosely wrap the paper and set it aside while you prepare the other ingredients (effective AND saves a dish). After all the vegetables are chopped, heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large skillet or wok. Once hot, adjust heat to medium high and add pork, tossing occasionally and working it around the pan to get a nice sear on all the pieces. Remove the pork from the pan with a slotted spoon and put into a bowl. Add remaining tablespoon oil to the pan quickly followed by the onions, peppers and celery. Reduce heat slightly and cook until the onions are translucent and you're just starting to see a few dark spots here and there. Add the garlic and ginger and continue stirring for 2-4 minutes. 


While this cooks, combine the coconut aminos, vinegar, pineapple juice and arrowroot in a small pyrex. Add the pork back to the pan and pour the sauce over. Stir to mix it all together then let it cook until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 7 minutes. Add the pineapple chunks, stir, then remove from heat. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onions to serve (or definitely do not if you have someone who will run from the table screaming at the sight of a bright green onion). Enjoy! 

Pineapple Ginger Citrus Popsicles

I'm not sure there's any greater summer relief than stumbling through the front door, hot and sweaty from a long bike ride or pool session and knowing that you have a freezer full of popsicles. It's one of the few things I do all summer long, no matter how relaxed I may be about stocking up on other food items. A box of Jolly Lamas is tucked in the back of the freezer somewhere in case of emergency but I try to stick to homemade popsicles like these because not only do they help keep us cool, they are also packed with good stuff, making them an ideal snack after sports or even a breakfast treat on a particularly hot day. 

Pineapple Ginger Citrus Popsicles

Ingredients: 

  • 4 cups fresh cubed or frozen pineapple
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (one very large orange or 2-3 medium sized) with some of the pulp thrown in as well
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice (bottled works, too!)
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger or 2 tbsp fresh, minced (my kids really prefer powdered ginger in this recipe)
  • 2 heaping scoops Vital Proteins Collagen 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups full fat coconut milk 

Instructions:

Combine all ingredients in a blender and whirl as many cycles as needed to get a smooth mixture. Pour into prepared popsicle molds, leaving an inch or so of space and freeze 4 hours, overnight preferably. When inserting wooden popsicle sticks, put in the freezer without sticks, set a timer for 30 minutes then put them in. Or just wing it and hope for the best like I normally do. This recipe makes a lot of popsicles, 10-12 depending on your molds and any extra can be served cold or frozen in ice cube trays as a smoothie base. To remove the popsicles from the molds, just run the mold under a low stream of hot water for a few seconds to loosen them and enjoy! 

Tequila and Tonic: Your New Summer Sidekick

It seems like every spring the interwebs heat up with talk of summer cocktail recipes that get us all excited for relaxed schedules, leisurely dinners with friends and a nice drink after a long day working in the yard. Like everyone else, I feel incredibly motivated when I see these photos and start making a list of the ingredients I'll need to whip up a batch, supplies that range from the common (rosemary) to the obscure and tedious (homemade bitters and hibiscus simple syrup. Right, got it). Eventually we'll have a late spring day hot enough that I feel I've earned a cocktail while I'm prepping dinner and I'll remember my plans for an ambitious summer drink. Initially I'll feel deflated that I slacked on my drink cart goals but then, I'll think of my own personal go-to drink regardless of season and feel instantly reassured. Hello there, tequila and tonic! 

If you're any kind of adult who fancies a drink, you likely have one (or three) hard alcohols that are a deal breaker. Gin is mine. The minute someone tries to offer it, my hand instantly goes into a stop sign and I quickly say, "no thanks, not a gin drinker." I blame my aversion to gin and tonics on a particularly trying roommate whose presence all but required a cocktail or two at the end of each day. My love for gin died, as always happens, one ill-fated night when a few friends over quickly turned into a rager of a house party and culminated with a desperate calling in sick to work the next day. Maybe for a couple days. A greyhound is always nice (grapefruit juice and vodka) but I've always love a good margarita. The trouble, for me, is that you never know what you're getting in terms of the mixer and the sugar hangover the next day is often a worse punishment than what the tequila can do. I know it exists but I cannot bring myself to purchase or order anything with the phrase "skinnygirl" in the name. So, years ago, craving a margarita but dubious about the mix, I ordered a reposado tequila with tonic and lime juice. It was perfect. And that's been my drink ever since, whether I'm at home or out. Another thing I like about this drink is that it's not a pain in the ass to order or make. Bartenders and servers often give a look but they quickly realize the allure of getting the flavor of the tequila, the sourness of the margarita by way of the lime juice and the tonic marries the two, also managing to stand in for the salt with a hint of sweetness. 

You can play around with which tequila suits your tastes best. I'm solidly a reposado fan but you can learn more with this quick guide to tequilas

Tequila and Tonic

Ingredients: 

  • 1oz - 2oz per serving, tequila your choice (don't let the celebrity stigma deter you, Casamigos is really excellent, widely distributed and versatile)
  • Bottle of best quality tonic water, 6oz - 8oz per serving (I recommend Fever-Tree, Q
  • Bottle of best quality lime juice (convenience) 
  • Fresh, ripe limes, cut into segments

Instructions:

Fill each glass with ice, preferably crushed ice or smaller cubes. Add tequila, fill 3/4 of the glass with tonic, add a heavy splash of lime (depending on taste) and finish with a couple segments of lime squeezed in then added to the glass. 

This is a not-really-a-recipe recipe, I know, but people are often particular with their drinks so play around with the ratios! 

 

Smashed Potatoes

Confession: I am that guy from Sling Blade. I love potatoes in all forms, the more fried and salty the better. My dream meal for most special occasions would be an amazing salad, a large side of skinny fries and something chocolatey for dessert. I love making these for easy summer dinners, partly because you can play around with the seasoning combo and easily add toppings based on whatever else you may be serving but really I love them because the potatoes can be started in advance and go into the oven while you're chatting with guests. And if you have leftovers you're in for an excellent breakfast the next morning. These are also great for camping, they reheat easily over an open fire and are a great hand-held food on a chilly night. 

Smashed Potatoes with Garlic and Rosemary

Ingredients: 

  • 6 large red potatoes or 10 smaller, scrubbed clean
  • large handful fresh rosemary
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4-5 tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt
  • sour cream

Instructions:

Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Boil for 20-25 minutes, until potatoes are just fork tender. Preheat oven to 400° and line a baking sheet with parchment. Remove potatoes from boiling water with a large slotted spoon and place on the baking sheet. Using a small skillet (or a large spatula but be careful not to burn your hands!), carefully place on top of each potato and press down until the potato flattens to your desired thickness. For crispier potatoes, press flatter. I typically keep mine about 1" tall. Pour olive oil over each potato and sprinkle with garlic, rosemary and salt. Place in the oven and roast for 10 minutes. Rotate the pan and cook another 5-7 minutes. Remove from the oven and while still warm, drizzle each potato with sour cream, more fresh rosemary and freshly ground pepper. 

Serves 6

 

Creamy Cherry Gelatins

Odds are good you've heard about the many benefits of gelatin and collagen. Both have been a standard in our repertoire for a long time and I can personally vouch for the benefits I've seen both for myself and our kids thanks to our frequent use. Stronger nails, thicker, more healthy hair, less joint pain, improved digestion and fewer complaints when growing pains come around. Speaking purely from a dollar-to-benefit comparison, gelatin really is worth it, especially considering how easy it can be to incorporate into the everyday diets of children. Soups made with collagen rich bone broth, smoothies with a hefty scoop of collagen powder and the ease of making homemade "gummies" mean kids are less likely to protest to ingesting crushed bone dust. :) 

I tend to just make our gelatins with whatever juice I have around, as long is it's free of sugar and has some other potential benefit (we also like pomegranate and cranberry) but these cherry treats are the ones that get requested the most. And I also love that they simultaneously get the benefits of coconut oil, too. We especially go through a lot of these during sports season when little bodies are being stressed under the strain of heavy physical activity. 

While I'm sure you can use a standard blender for these I can only vouch for an immersion blender. 

Creamy Cherry Gelatins

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups 100% cherry juice
  • 1 cup frozen cherries
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, solid is just fine
  • 3 1/2 tbsp powdered beef gelatin such as Great Lakes or Vital Proteins but NOT collagen! 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:

In a medium saucepan, pour 2 cups of cherry juice, reserving remaining 1/2 cup in the measuring vessel, ideally a glass pyrex. Heat the juice over medium heat on the stove. While the juice is heating, slowly and with constant whisking sprinkle the gelatin into the reserved juice. Once juice begins to boil, add frozen cherries and heat again until just simmering. Remove pot from heat and stir in coconut oil and vanilla. Carefully use an immersion blender to blend juice, cherries, coconut oil and vanilla until completely smooth. By now the gelatin mixture should be solid (not like concrete, you should still be able to pierce with a fork). Scrape the gelatin mixture into the warm juice mixture and place back on the burner, which should be off but likely still warm. Slowly stir for a few minutes until gelatin has completely dissolved. From this point you can gently pour into cute little molds...or just pour into an 8x8 pan like I do! Carefully place into the fridge for a good 6-8 hours, until nice and firm. Cut into squares and serve whenever - these are the perfect snack any time of day but be forewarned - they will not stand up to a hot lunch bag! 

Makes 16-20 square gummies, depending on cutting size

To learn more about the differences between gelatin and collagen and the benefits of both, this is a good resource as well as this one from Wellness Mama. 

 

Mexican Stack with Winking Girl Skillet Sauce

The more time I spend preparing, thinking about (and eating!) food, the more invested I become in spending my money on products that have a mission I believe in, run by people who are authentic, approachable and know they have an obligation to their industry. I can't think of anyone who embodies this more than my friend Julie Nirvelli, of Winking Girl Salsa. Long before there were hashtags, "buy local" marketing campaigns and Whole Foods grants, there was a one-woman show selling fresh, homemade salsas with amazing ingredients at our neighborhood farmers market. Shortly after we became loyal customers, our kids ended up going to school together...nearly a decade ago. In that time Julie's determination and hard work has been a constant inspiration - whenever you see her, no matter how busy she is, always a friendly face in a crowd, always willing to chip in when you ask her for a hand. I can't wait to see what she is up to next as she moves on from Winking Girl, hopefully following a nice, relaxing vacation! 

This recipe has become my favorite thing to have when I know we're having extra kids around and I'm not sure who likes what. Want to veganize it? Just omit the beef in one stack and add extra veggies. The key here really is that extra time in the oven to crisp up some of the tortilla edges while also melting your toppings. You can also make this Paleo by using homemade cassava tortillas or buying the delicious ones made by Siete Foods

Mexican Stack: 2 Ways

Option 1, Beef and Bean

Ingredients:

  • 1lb. ground beef
  • 1 can refried pinto or black beans
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 pouch Winking Girl Salsa, Taco Skillet Sauce (pink)
  • 4-5 large corn tortillas
  • 1 scoop sour cream or lactose free cream cheese
  • Romaine lettuce
  • 1 avocado, sliced thin
  • 1 tbsp Avocado Oil or Olive Oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Optional: Winking Girl Salsa of your choice, black olives, chopped tomatoes

Preheat oven to 375 and lightly oil a 6” cast iron skillet or other oven safe pan in a similar size. Preheat a medium size pot over medium high heat and add the ground beef. Break apart with a spatula then add the diced onion and add a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Once beef is browned and onion is becoming translucent, add the can of beans and stir to combine. Lower the heat to low medium and cook a few minutes, until the beans have blended thoroughly. Remove from heat. 

Pour a small amount of the Taco Skillet Sauce into the bottom of the oiled pan and spread with the back of a spoon. Place a tortilla on top of the sauce. Add enough of the beef and bean mixture to generously cover the tortilla and lightly spread then pour on 2-3 tbsp of the sauce and spread. Add another tortilla and repeat the process 2 more times. For the last layer, add tortilla, beef mixture then a tortilla and pour remaining Taco Skillet Sauce on top. Bake in the oven, uncovered, for 15 minutes. 

Remove from the oven and add the scoop of sour cream or cream cheese and place back in the oven for 4-5 minutes, just enough to warm it up a bit. Remove from the oven and add the sliced avocado around the edges of the pan and top with chopped lettuce. Serve with any additional toppings. 

Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4

Option 2: Beef and Vegetable

Ingredients:

  • 1lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini or yellow squash, diced
  • 1 pouch Winking Girl Salsa, Green Fajita Skillet Sauce (green)
  • 4-5 corn tortillas
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1 avocado, sliced thin
  • 1 tbsp Avocado Oil or Olive Oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Optional: Winking Girl Salsa of your choice, black olives, chopped tomatoes

Preheat oven to 375 and lightly oil a 6” cast iron skillet or other oven safe pan in a similar size. Preheat a medium size pot over medium high heat and add the ground beef. Break apart with a spatula then add the diced onion, mushrooms and any other vegetables and add a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Once beef is browned and onion is becoming translucent, lower the heat to low medium and cook a few minutes, until the vegetables have softened. Remove from heat. 

Pour a small amount of the Taco Skillet Sauce into the bottom of the oiled pan and spread with the back of a spoon. Place a tortilla on top of the sauce. Add enough of the beef and vegetable  mixture to generously cover the tortilla and lightly spread then pour on 2-3 tbsp of the sauce and spread. Add another tortilla and repeat the process 2 more times. For the last layer, add tortilla, beef mixture then a tortilla and pour remaining Taco Skillet Sauce on top. Bake in the oven, uncovered, for 15 minutes. 

Remove from the oven and add the sliced avocado around the edges of the pan and top with chopped scallions. Serve with any additional toppings. 

Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4

Gluten Free Pancakes

One thing that is not discussed nearly enough in the world of paleo/gluten free eating is the cost of doing so. Especially with kids! A considerable amount of what kids eat (snacks) tend to be quick, easy things which generally equate to packaged and processed. I love to cook, I enjoy doing it and don't usually mind feeding a crowd but as my kids have gotten older, appetites have grown and we often find a gang of starving boys clustered around our table, ready to eat. I learned the hard way that without some parameters and accommodations, even a couple extra mouths can wipe out your food for the week in a single feeding. 

Through this trial and error we've learned what works for most diets and palettes when we have overnight guests. A classic favorite like pancakes works because kids who are used to sweeter foods or mixes can easily doctor up their plate (syrup moat, anyone?) and a few chocolate chips thrown in go a long way toward making them look just like "normal" pancakes. These are more cost effective than recipes I've used in the past thanks to the addition of oat flour - you can easily grind your own with rolled oats, Bob's Red Mill makes one, too and the spongey texture of oat flour helps balance out the sometimes grainy feel of too much almond meal. Plus, you don't have to use a blender for these, a terrible idea when you're trying to let a house full of pre-teens sleep off their late night giggles. 

Gluten Free Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup almond flour

  • 3/4 cup oat flour

  • 1 tsp baking powder

  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  • 1 cup milk of choice

  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar

  • 2 eggs, room temperature

  • 2 tbsp melted butter or coconut oil

  • 2 tbsp honey

  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped or 2 tsp vanilla extract

  • oil of choice for preferred cooking method (we use a large electric griddle)

    Instructions:

Before you start combining the dry ingredients, do a bit of prep with your liquids: Place the (uncracked) eggs in a bowl of warm water and in a Pyrex or bowl, add the apple cider vinegar to the milk. In a large bowl, combine the almond meal, oat flour, baking soda, sea salt and cinnamon. Whisk to combine. Add melted butter, honey and vanilla to milk mixture, stirring to combine. Add eggs to the mixture, whisking until the liquid is creamy and the honey is dissolved. Pour the wet mixture into the dry and combine only until mostly smooth - a few lumps are okay. Start heating up your cooking surface, we do between 325° and 350° on the electric griddle, generously coated with coconut oil. Allow the pancake batter to sit, untouched between 7-10 minutes. This makes all the difference! 

Test a small amount of batter on the pan, around a quarter-size. This batter will cook just like others - you'll know it's time to flip them when bubbles appear around the edges, around 2-3 minutes per side. 

Makes around 20 3"-4" pancakes, feeds 5-6. 

Marinated Mediterranean Chicken

I wish I could say that we live footloose and fancy free, munching fresh, pre-washed berries and throwing together a beautiful salad on the fly with the ingredients I just so happen to find floating around the fridge. But that's not really the case these days. As much as I may begrudge it, pre-planned and pre-prepped dinners give me breathing room and piece of mind on the days when we're rushing around from here to there. Or on weekend nights when I'd rather be lounging and puttering in the yard than stuck in the kitchen cooking, yet again. My goal is to eat better and cook less. Chop and slice and dice less. So dinners like this are just the thing. 

I cook large batches of dried, soaked beans then store in bags in the freezer. In this recipe, when the beans break down they mix with the mayo and chicken juices to make a nice, slightly creamy sauce. The lemon juice and olives make this dish bright and tangy. Bonus: all the components are large enough to pick out, depending on your taste. 

We serve this with white rice cooked with chicken stock and lots of butter or roasted garlic cauliflower and a big green salad. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/3 cup avocado or olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Tessemae's Zesty Ranch Dressing OR replace with additional 1/4 cup oil and 1 cup chopped fresh herbs
  • 1/4 cup mayo (such as Sir Kensington's)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 3 pinches sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper 
  • optional: generous shake of your favorite seasoning blend such as Sunny Paris or 21 Seasoning Salute
  • Juice of 1 small lemon or half large lemon
  • 2 cups cooked white beans
  • 8 oz artichoke hearts
  • 1 1/2 cups pitted kalamata olives
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup dried apricots
  • Chopped arugula or parsley to garnish

Instructions: 

Place chicken thighs in a gallon ziploc bag or large container. In a pyrex or bowl mix together the oil, herbs, mayo, honey, salt, pepper, seasonings and lemon juice. Pour over the chicken. Add beans, artichoke hearts, olives, tomatoes and apricots to bag. Close bag tight, squeezing out excess air and gently massage the ingredients so that everything is nice and coated. Place in the fridge for 2-24 hours as needed. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 400° and pour contents of bag into a 9" x 13" baking dish. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Flip the chicken and gently stir other ingredients so ensure even browning. Cook another 20-30 minutes, until chicken is fork tender and slightly browned. Remove from oven, cool for 10 minutes and serve with arugula or parsley. 

 

Jalapeño Mango Tuna Salad

I'm always fascinated by recipes that get a strong reaction. For whatever reason, one person's method of preparation is declared the "right" way and all others are deemed sacrilege. Tuna salad falls squarely in that category and I still remember the look of disgust on my husband's face the day he saw me adding celery, seeds and all kinds of extras into a batch. He's a purist on this one and I know he's not alone. That being said, we all love this version that has a little heat, balanced out by the tart sweetness of the mango. If I'm making it for adults I add the bit of cayenne but for most kids I think the deseeded jalapeño is the right amount. 

Ingredients: 

  • 2 5oz. cans tuna (we like WildPlanet)
  • 1/4 cup homemade or avocado oil mayo
  • 2 tsp fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh mango
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion
  • 1 - 1 1/2 deseeded and minced jalapeño pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 2-3 pinches sea salt

Instructions: 

Open and drain the cans of tuna. Add to a large bowl and, using a fork, break the tuna apart. Using a chopping motion, add in the mayo, lime juice, salt and cayenne pepper, if using. Once the mixture is thoroughly combined, add the mango, jalapeño and onion. I like mine in a crisp iceberg lettuce cup topped with a few slices of jalapeños and a side of coconut oil potato chips but I would never force my tuna preference on you - I know better than to get involved in such important decisions. 

Serves 4

Mulay's Chorizo and Chickpea Soup

Sunday Night Soup is a long standing tradition at our house - a great way to use up odds and ends in the fridge and more importantly, a nice reset after a couple days of treats and wine. This one is especially easy thanks to the perfect seasoning of Mulay's Chorizo, which means there is no spice blend to tinker with - just the other ingredients. Hearty, filling and full of flavor it makes the perfect lunch after a day of sledding or skiing. 

Mulay's Chorizo and Chickpea Soup

Ingredients: 

  • 4tbsp good quality olive or avocado oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 2 large stalks celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 15 oz. package Mulay's chorizo
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 head green cabbage, thinly sliced, about 3 cups
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 8 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups al dente chickpeas (or 1 can)
  • 4 cups spinach, rinsed, ends trimmed
  • 2-3 hard boiled eggs
  • 2-3 radishes, rinsed and thinly sliced

Instructions:

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add the diced onion, celery, carrots and cook until onions become slightly translucent. Add garlic and chorizo, breaking up into small pieces. Stir to combine and add salt. Cook until chorizo is barely pink, add cabbage and chickpeas and stir. Add tomatoes and chicken stock, stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, until tomatoes have broken down. and chickpeas have softened slightly. Add spinach leaves and cook until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, adjust seasoning and divide into bowls. Chop hard boiled eggs and garnish soup with egg and radishes.

Best served with crusty bread covered in butter. Serves 6-8.  

 

 

Mulay's Sausage, Delicata Squash and Cranberry Skillet

Over the last few weeks I have loved breaking out of my Mulay's rut (weekly dinner of chorizo, sweet potatoes, peppers, onions with eggs on top) and working my way through the rest of their product line. Their chorizo is so unique that the few times I've strayed someone at the table, likely my middle son, will say, "Is this a different chorizo?" It is the perfect balance of smoky and hot - it does not overpower and the heat is just enough to make it interesting and still palatable for kids. 

Originally started by Sicilian immigrants, Mulay's is a woman-owned company based here in Colorado that has been at this for nearly 25 years. As trends and customer expectations have changed, the people at Mulay's were some of the few who didn't have to do much to adapt; they've been doing it all along. Excellent product standards, sausages that are fresh and free of junk and a keen eye on animal welfare standards make Mulay's an obvious pick for those who know that what meat we eat matters - for our own health but also the future of our planet. You can read more about their history and practices here

Every Mulay's sausage is free of:

Antibiotics
Sugar
Nitrates
Soy
Dairy
MSG
Nuts
Eggs

True to our commitment to create sponsored content that has a wider purpose, this collaboration will generate a cash donation to Project Angel Heart, a Colorado service providing nutritious food for those treating an illness. You can read more about The Raisin Girls' Bloggers With Benefits commitment here

As much as I love the allure of a skillet meal, the ones I've tried often fall flat, largely because most things don't cook at the same temp in the same time frame and some ingredients don't benefit from overcrowding. This is my solution - two pans. You can also use a LARGE oven proof skillet and cook that way using the same instructions below but I have found that the baking sheet method for that final 10 minutes makes a big difference on the texture as a whole. Enjoy! 

Mulay’s Sausage and Delicata Squash Hash

Ingredients: 

  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 2 medium Delicata squash, about 1.5lbs. rinsed and cut into 1.5” rings, seeds removed
  • 1 lb. Mulay’s Mild Bulk Sausage, broken into smaller pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small bunch red chard or kale, rinsed, dried and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup and 1 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • zest of one orange

Instructions: 

Preheat oven to 375° and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine 3 tbsp olive oil, paprika, nutmeg in a small ramekin. Arrange squash slices on the baking sheet with some space between each and brush with the oil/spice mixture, turning them over to apply to each side. Roast for 15 minutes total, or until just fork tender, rotating once. Remove the squash from the oven and set aside to cool slightly. 

Heat a large pan over medium high heat and add remaining 2 tbsp olive oil. When oil thins out, tilt pan to coat and add diced onion and sausage and cook until sausage begins to brown and onions are slightly translucent. Add minced garlic and toss to combine. Add chopped greens and 1/2 cranberries. Stir to mix and cook just until greens begin to wilt and cranberries begin to soften in spots. While sausage mixture cooks, roughly chop roasted squash into large pieces, approximately 2-3” each, or into quarters. Scoop the sausage mixture onto the baking sheet used for squash, add the squash pieces and combine. Add the remaining 1/2 cup cranberries and a few grinds of pepper. Cook in the oven for 10 minutes, until cranberries have softened. Remove from oven, add grated orange zest and serve. 

Excellent as a breakfast hash - just add 4-6 cracked eggs on top prior to baking and adjust cooking time to get desired doneness. 

Serves 4 as a main dish, 6 as a side.

 

Chinese Five Spice Apple Galette

This has become my favorite twist on the standard apple pie. As someone who is not wed to a specific holiday dish I've dabble in lots of different flavors but after a heavy meal of the usual Thanksgiving suspects something with a little spice and a rich smell of fennel, clove, cinnamon and star anise is the perfect finish. 

You can make this galette as spicy as you'd like by the amount of Chinese Five Spice powder you put in but the key is to get the good stuff. So if you have a bottle of it hanging out in the way back of your spice cabinet, it's time for a fresh one. If you want a mild flavor, use 1 1/2 tbsp but if you want the FULL EXPERIENCE, go with 2 1/2 tbsp. 

Ingredients: 

Crust

  • 1 3/4 cup finely ground almond flour
  • 1 cup arrowroot powder, plus 2 tbsp for dusting
  • 3/4 cup chilled grass-fed butter, cut into dice-sized cubes
  • 1 tsp coconut sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 egg yolk, whisked, for brushing the crust

Filling

  • 4 medium sized apples, I like a blend of Honeycrisp and Granny Smith
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp coconut milk or cream
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar, plus more for sprinkling on crust
  • 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 tbsp Chinese Five Spice powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp arrowroot powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

In a food processor, combine almond flour, arrowroot, coconut sugar, salt and pulse to combine. Add butter cubes and pulse until a blend of pebble-sized bits begin to form. Add the egg and pulse to create a dough. Add a little arrowroot powder to your fingers and remove the dough, sprinkling on a bit more arrowroot until dough is not sticky and can be kneaded gently. Roll into a ball, flatten, then wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least one hour or overnight. 

To make the filling, peel the apples, making sure to leave a little peel here and there for texture. Core and cut the apples into 1/4" slices and place in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl or pyrex, combine the lemon juice, cream, coconut sugar, Chinese Five Spice powder, vanilla, arrowroot and salt. Whisk thoroughly with a fork until it forms a slurry. Pour the mixture over the apples and use a spatula to carefully fold the liquid into the apples. 

To put the galette together, preheat the oven to 350° and set out a large baking sheet. Roll the chilled dough out to a rectangle between two layers of parchment until it's about 10" x 14" then peel off the top sheet. Lift the dough onto the baking sheet and pour the apples into the middle of the dough. Make sure to leave plenty of space to fold the border in. If you feel like you have too many apples, reserve some to saute in the morning for pancakes or oatmeal. Working quickly, start on a short edge and fold the dough over, pinching the corners together to make a tight seam. Gently brush the dough edges with the whisked egg yolk and sprinkle with a little coconut sugar. 

Put the galette into the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Rotate the pan 180° and cook another 15 minutes, until the dough looks light brown. Remove and let cool for a bit before serving. Great served warm with ice cream and excellent for breakfast, cold from the fridge. 

Serves 8

Pomegranate Roast Chicken

There are few things more satisfying than whacking out the seeds out of a nice, ripe pomegranate. One of those foods that is even more visually stunning than it is delicious, pomegranates were not around much when I was growing up until the launch of POM juice...remember that? All of a sudden people were obsessed with those funky bottles and we all became addicted to the drink that was like a cranberries sweeter, richer, thicker older distant relative. 

The health benefits of pomegranates are many, but recipes that make it seem worth the work of cracking one open can be few and far between. So, behold, our favorite Pomegranate Roast Chicken! This recipe is technically my oldest son's but since he keep stealing all my socks, I'm swiping his chicken! Incredibly simple with less than a dozen ingredients, I'm always appreciative of how beautiful the table looks with this dinner on it. 

Ingredients:

  • Whole chicken, around 3-4lbs, extra parts removed, cavity rinsed and dried thoroughly
  • 3 tbsp grass fed butter, softened
  • Generous salt and pepper
  • 1 cup pomegranate juice with no added ingredients
  • 2 tbsp blackstrap molasses
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 2-4 sprigs rosemary, depending on your taste level, finely chopped

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425° while prepping the bird. Transfer butter to small ramekin. Using fingers, gently pry up the skin from around the breast near the cavity then work some of the butter onto the meat beneath the skin. Use the remaining butter to coat the top of the chicken, making sure to cover the drumsticks. Sprinkle liberally with salt, pepper and rosemary. Use a piece of kitchen twine to tie the legs together and fold the wings under the bird, tucking them in tight. Place the bird in a roasting pan or oven safe skillet, breast side up. Roast in the center of the oven for 30 minutes then lower the temp to 375°, make sure there are no dark spots, tilt the pan slightly get some juices out and continue roasting for another 15-20 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 165°. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for a good 10 minutes. 

While the chicken is in the last 20 minutes of cooking, combine the pomegranate juice and molasses in a small saucepan. Heat on the stove, over medium high heat, until it's simmering away (but NOT bubbling/boiling!) and whisk occasionally.  Allow to cook until it's reduced to around 1/3 cup and has a nice, thick, syrupy consistency. This typically takes around 10 minutes. Remove from heat and spoon in some of the drippings from the chicken, about 1/4 cup. pour half the sauce over the chicken and reserve the rest for serving. Sprinkle the chicken with the pomegranate seeds and serve. 

Feed the Resistance: Recipes + Ideas for Getting Involved

Here we go! In the last year there has been a collective gasp as blinders came off, hard truths were revealed and dividing lines were etched firmly into the sand. Just as many of us declared, "At this point NOTHING shocks me," we were offered up story after story that knocked us backwards. Waking up with a feeling like a cross between a flu and a hangover we reluctantly reached for our phones, dreading what may be waiting for us.

And just as we started to eye our neighbors, family and coworkers with suspicion (or even outrage and contempt) we also started to realize that it is difficult, actually impossible, to take up permanent residence in that place. We felt compelled to ACT, to engage, to rally our people and force something positive to come from the muck. As much as we were yanked from a safe nest of ignorance and complacency, we were handed the opportunity for something different, something ultimately better and more true, but we'd have to work for it. And that's where people like Julia Turshen come in. 

Over the years I've followed along with Julia, appreciating her work and then becoming a bit of a Super Fan when her projects and social media began to express what I, and so many around me, were feeling. She took part, she spoke up about what mattered and felt little obligation to stay out of the fray so as not to see her number of followers plummet. Marches, letters, phone calls, useful information and Instagram stories featuring true gems from the community kitchen where she regularly volunteers kept me from spiraling on the days when the news was particularly tough, the losses especially brutal. 

I've found my own ways to contribute, I've lifted the veil a bit for my boys, trying hard to find ways to help them see the world around them as it really is without scaring the hell out of them. And I'll admit, there have been days when I've felt a little resentful that I don't have the time in my schedule of kid schlepping and school volunteering to park outside a senator's office or donate to every cause that I feel so passionate about. Somebody still has to make dinner and pack the snacks. Julia Turshen's book, Feed the Resistance: Recipes + Ideas for Getting Involved comes along at just the right time, affirming what I know to be true; there is power in caring for those around us with thoughtful gestures, kind words and nourishing food. This book, informative and inspiring, will give you food for thought on new ways to do your part while also providing recipes that come together easily and without a hassle. So many perspectives and voices show up in this book, you'll find yourself slipping it into a bag and thumbing through it whenever you have a few free moments. Another added perk: All proceeds from the book are donated to the ACLU. 

"In this new world, which in so many ways isn't new at all and is just without the guise of false security, resistance is the new normal. Many have been getting into what Georgia Congressman John Lewis refers to as 'good trouble' for decades. For some, activism is inherited and tightly woven into their fabric. For others, activism is a less ingrained part of life, a match just struck." 

                                                                           - Julia Turshen

I've gotten so much use from Feed the Resistance that I would LOVE to share a copy with one of you! Leave a comment below with how you've been most changed in these past months, resources you've found particularly helpful or someone you've found especially inspiring. I'll randomly select one winner at noon MST on Sunday, October 22nd to receive a free copy of Feed the Resistance: Recipes + Ideas for Getting Involved

 

Chorizo and Cod Stew

There are some recipes you keep tucked away somewhere a little too hidden, then a few times a year you remember them and think, "YES!" Especially when it comes to things that tend to be an acquired taste, like cod. I love this one because if you need the fish to not be front and center you can always increase the chorizo and cut the cod into smaller pieces to help it blend in a bit easier. This one's been kicking around for years and always reminds the boys that they actually really like cod, at least temporarily. 

The only brand of chorizo we eat is Mulay's because it's the perfect balance of heat and smoke, perfectly seasoned and versatile. If you'd like to do white potatoes, those would work, too, but I definitely advocate for white sweet potatoes to get a good dose of carbs that are lower in sugar than white varieties. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. white sweet potatoes, cleaned and cut into large chunks, approximately 1.5" (I leave the peel on mine)
  • 2 leeks, rinsed 
  • 1/2-3/4lb. chorizo, crumbled
  • 1 lb. cod
  • 1 large yellow pepper, diced
  • 1/2 tbsp. saffron threads, crumbled
  • 4 tbsp. olive or avocado oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup water
  • parsley

Preheat oven to 400°. Place the cubed sweet potatoes in a steaming pot (already heated) and allow to steam for 10 minutes then remove from heat and set aside. While the potatoes steam, fill a large, deep bowl with cold water to clean the leeks. Cut the tops and bottoms off the leeks, then cut horizontally, making sure you're using only the pale green part. Lay the halves on a cutting board and thinly slice the leeks and separate the rings before putting them in the cold water. Gently swirl them with your fingers to free any dirt or debris that is stuck to the little rings and allow them to soak. 

Heat a large, oven safe pot or Dutch oven on medium high and add 2 tbsp. oil. When the oil is heated, add the chorizo and pepper, stirring to brown them evenly. Lay out a dishtowel and use your hands to carefully scoop the leeks from the water, put them in a single layer on the dishtowel, wrap them up and squeeze them over the sink to remove moisture. Add the leeks to the pot and stir. Add a couple pinches of salt and then toss in the steamed potatoes. Crumble the saffron threads and gently stir into the chorizo blend. Reduce heat to medium, add 1/2 cup of water, cover and allow to cook. 

While the chorizo cooks, cut the cod into the dimensions of your choice and lightly season with salt and pepper. Remove the pot from heat and carefully place the cod on top of the chorizo blend. Season lightly with salt and pepper then drizzle the remaining 2 tbsp oil on top of the fish. Cook, uncovered, on the middle rack for 15 minutes, or until cod reaches your preferred level of flakiness. Remove from the oven, sprinkle on the parsley and serve. 

*It should be noted that this makes an excellent breakfast taco when put on a warm tortilla with an egg on top. 

 

Quick and Easy Beet Walnut Dip

Years ago, after the birth of my middle son, one of my dearest friends stopped by to deliver a meal. She was rushed, and just coming from work, it was freezing out and as she hurried into the house she was already apologizing for the food; "I can't believe I burned the broccoli! I left it in too long and this beet thing is so basic I don't even know why I brought it. Sorry guys, I'm so lame today!" Of course, years later we recreate these two things regularly; a pan of roasted broccoli that's just a bit too dark in some spots and this easy beet spread that is made even easier these days with the ease of picking up pre-cooked beets. I like to think of this spread as a nice gateway dish to getting kids hooked on beets, or at least being open to the possibility of them without recoiling. 

Once I've made a batch I find that it makes its way onto nearly all of my plates until it's gone - a quick afternoon snack with a handful of crackers or plantain chips, smoothed over a bagel with cream cheese for a morning bite or spooned liberally onto any kind of salad, it just seems to work. 

I'm a taste as I go kind of cook so make sure you have some vegetables or crackers near by when you're adjusting your seasoning for frequent taste testing! 

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 large beets, cut from the greens and washed well
  • 1 cup large walnuts
  • 4 tbsp avocado or good quality olive oil, plus more for roasting
  • 4 tbsp good quality balsamic vinegar
  • white pepper and salt to taste
  • 2 large sheets of foil

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. Lay out 1 sheet of foil and place all the beets in the center, snuggled in tightly together. Drizzle beets with a small amount of oil then using both hands, bunch beets together and wrap foil around to cover. Use the second sheet of foil to go over the top - you want a TIGHT seal here to really steam the beets. Place the parcel on the middle shelf of the oven and cook for 40 minutes. 

Remove the beets, check for doneness by poking with a fork - they shouldn't be mush, just give a bit and the skin should be very soft and a little wrinkly. Allow the beets to cool while you gather the remaining ingredients. Cut the ends off the beets and peel with a paring knife or potato peeler then cut into large dice. 

Add the walnuts a food processor fitted with the "S" blade and pulse just a few times to break them apart. Add the beets to the food processor and pulse 7-8 times, enough to break them down. The key here is to scrape the mixture from the sides often so you'll have a consistent texture rather than large chunks. Pulse a couple more times, scrape then repeat. Add in the oil and balsamic vinegar, a few pinches of salt and some pepper and pulse again. Check for seasoning. I like my spread a bit more acidic so I often throw in a splash more vinegar at the end. Once the taste and texture are good, store in a container in the fridge for up to one week. 

 

Pineapple Pork

I've been craving Chinese food, something a little rich and smoky with a bit of sweetness and it just wouldn't be summer if we didn't manage to cram fruit into every meal of the day. 

Creating and making a meal feels like such an indulgence to me right now; when we are in the school year I am typically in school, too. So although we have weekly standards, they rarely fall into the "fun, festive, culturally expansive" categories and instead land with a thud in the categories no one is too proud to advertise. Like..."leftover scramble night" or "hash night". I'm planning on doing some writing about meal planning, which I find stressful and a bit deceiving but right now I can say that when I'm busy, it shows up on the plate. Frustrating for me as I'm someone who loves to cook and sit down to a meal made with some feeling behind it. So when things do slow down a little, I often have moments of, "Hey! I'm not doing anything...I could cook. Actual food!" Tonight was one of those nights and so, instead of asking around to see if anyone had something left in their lunch they could eat for dinner (it happened once in a moment of desperation) I made something I knew would at least get marks for being colorful and hot. Luckily, it totally filled my take-out cravings. 

One piece of advice for this recipe, and cooking in general - If you use the pork tenderloin as suggested, don't be afraid to ask your butcher to prep it for you by removing the silvery skin you'll notice on the cut. Taking it off makes a big difference!! I've found that most people working behind the counter are happy to take an extra step for you. If they don't have pork tenderloin or that's not in your budget at the moment, ask what they have that would work for a stir-fry. I've learned so much (and gotten a lot of free/discounted stuff) over the years just by being conversational and expressing an interest when I'm putting in my order. 

Tonight we had this with rice and baby bok choy and white snap peas (who knew) from our CSA. Since the pork is really flavorful, just add about 1/2 cup chicken stock to a small, shallow pan, put it on medium high then add your baby bok choy and spread a few handfuls of snap peas around. Cover with a lid and steam for 5 minutes. Perfection! 

Ingredients:

1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp garlic powder
4 tbsp coconut oil or cooking oil of your choice
1 onion, cut into large dice
1 green or red pepper, also cut into large dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp ginger, minced
2 stalks thin, crisp, very green celery (sorry, this is not negotiable. clean out the vegetable drawer another day)
2 cups pineapple chunks, juice reserved
1 lb pork tenderloin or other tender cut, chopped into large bite-sized pieces

Pineapple Sauce:

1/4 cup coconut aminos
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (rice vinegar would work, too)
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1 tbsp arrowroot powder (cornstarch would also be fine)
Sesame seeds and green onions for garnish

Instructions:

First, prepare the pork. Mix the sea salt, paprika, cayenne pepper and garlic powder in a small bowl and once the pork is cut up, open the paper it came wrapped in and spread it out on the counter. Arrange the pork in a single layer, sprinkle it with the rub then work it in work your hands. Once it's all mixed evenly, loosely wrap the paper and set it aside while you prepare the other ingredients (effective AND saves a dish). After all the vegetables are chopped, heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large skillet or wok. Once hot, adjust heat to medium high and add pork, tossing occasionally and working it around the pan to get a nice sear on all the pieces. Remove the pork from the pan with a slotted spoon and put into a bowl. Add remaining tablespoon oil to the pan quickly followed by the onions, peppers and celery. Reduce heat slightly and cook until the onions are translucent and you're just starting to see a few dark spots here and there. Add the garlic and ginger and continue stirring for 2-4 minutes. 

While this cooks, combine the coconut aminos, vinegar, pineapple juice and arrowroot in a small pyrex. Add the pork back to the pan and pour the sauce over. Stir to mix it all together then let it cook until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 7 minutes. Add the pineapple chunks, stir, then remove from heat. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onions to serve (or definitely do not if you have someone who will run from the table screaming at the sight of a bright green onion). Enjoy! 

 

Creatures of Habit: A Breakfast Schedule

With school back in session a military level of precision has to come to certain areas of our lives. Not all because I'm way too lazy and ill-equipped for that kind of commitment but food is the thing I feel like I have the strongest grasp on, even as the laundry piles up and the inside of my car looks like we just came from a yard sale.

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Lentil Tacos

Does anyone else take issue with the whole regimented food schedule we all suddenly seem to be on? As if I didn't have enough irrational guilt about missing some of the lesser kid-centric holidays, I'm now a Communist if I'm not having Tacos on Tuesday, a donut on the randomly selected day to honor its contribution to society or find myself inhaling a meatball sub with emphasis on the "meat" part on a Monday. It's too much! 

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