Paleo Breakfast Muffins

Right out of the oven.

Right out of the oven.

When I can’t sleep, sometimes I cook. I have restless legs quite a bit these days, so sleep has come late if at all. Nights like this  it’s not at all. Because I got a little hungry, I cooked up some of this new bacon I have. Normally I buy pre-packaged bacon, but with all this reading I’m doing on paleo and gluten-free stuff, the bacon from the butcher shop at Kroger caught my eye. The butcher shop buys these big honking slabs of bacon that are smoke-cured with little sodium (relatively speaking; it is bacon, after all) and very little sugar. Then they cut them into slices right there in the store. The price for a pound and a half is the same as the price for the Wright’s Applewood Smoked bacon we normally buy, so I said, ‘Why not?” And they are big, honking slices with big grinds of pepper on them. They are YUM!

Anyway, long story short, when I was getting the bacon out I noticed I still have some leftover herbed Chèvre from when I made the cauliflower pizza crust and made a mental note to use it soon. Then I got a lightening bolt to the brain and thought to myself: “Awesome bacon plus awesome Chèvre….hmmm, marriage made in heaven!” I had also bought farm fresh eggs just a few days before, so this was shaping up to be a fabulous morning, insomnia be damned.

So I took to Google and put the cheese and bacon along with egg in the search engine and presto! Out came this recipe. The Google is so magic. One problem though: I don’t have ramekins. Bummer. And I’d never made coddled eggs before, so double-bummer. I put ramekins on my garage sale wishlist and proceeded to Plan B: Mostly the same ingredients, but with breakfast muffins. I skipped the cream because who needs that kind of additional fat, and my muffin tin is way old thus the muffin hole are muy pequeña.

You may have seen these before with store-bought rolled biscuits (blech!), eggs, sausage, and cheddar. I figured with the ingredients I had this could be a gorgeous opportunity for a refined breakfast muffin. Since I’d put the honey-oat loaf I’m making in the bread machine moments before and it wouldn’t be ready for another 3 hours, this would also turn out to be paleo (I think, if I understand it correctly). Here is my list of ingredients:

5 farm fresh eggs, scrambled
3 slices Kroger bulk peppered bacon, cooked & diced
1/3 container Trader Joe’s herbed Chèvre, crumbled
two scallions, thinly sliced
1 sprig basil, diced
sea salt & ground pepper medley to taste

Chèvre yumminess!

Chèvre yumminess!

First I preheated the oven to 350 and put the bacon on to fry. Not too crispy, mind you, as this will go in the oven to cook for a bit longer. Then I slathered a little butter in my husband’s grandma’s old muffin tin and put the Chèvre down. I scrambled the eggs in a bowl and added the salt and pepper. Diced up the basil and added that, too. When the bacon was done, I diced it as well. Then I poured just enough egg to almost come to the top of each muffin hole, and then sprinkled bacon in each egg muffin. Garnished with the scallions. Slipped ‘em in the oven for 15 minutes, and then let them set for 5 minutes on the counter to finish off the slightest bit of runny egg in the middle of the largest two. 

Basic ingredients

OMG, these are soooooo good. The Chèvre and bacon combine with the egg to make the smoothest little spark of flavor. Then the basil really makes it pop. I only added the basil because I had just one sprig left and it was about to go, and I’m so glad I did! Now I need to go log this recipe at My Fitness Pal so I can see how much caloric damage it does, and because I’ve had two, and I want another one! I’ll post the stats in comments.

Sorry this picture is blurry. My camera would not cooperate and my stomach would not wait. :mrgreen:

Sorry this picture is blurry. My camera would not cooperate and my stomach would not wait.:-)

Purple Cauliflower Pizza Crust & Gourmet Toppings

I did it! I made purple cauliflower pizza crust! I’ve been making regular cauliflower pizza crust for a few months now, and even my fast-food-loving husband and daughter like it. I have been fascinated with purple cauliflower for some time now, and I wondered if the purple would retain its color if made into pizza crust.

Guess what? It does. It actually even deepens a little into a rich, royal purple. It makes the perfect canvas for some of the tastier and colorful pizza toppings I love. This recipe is about two things: health and beauty. I wanted to transform the cauliflower pizza crust into a thing of beauty, and I was able to.

The crust is made just like you would any old cauliflower pizza crust. I used The Lucky Penny’s recipe as a base and modified it a bit. Here are my ingredients:

1 large head purple cauliflower, steamed and riced
About 1/4 cup of Kraft Five Cheese Italian blend
1/3 cup Trader Joe’s herbed goat cheese Chevre
1 medium egg
sea salt and fresh crushed pepper medley to taste
About a half tsp each of garlic powder, dried basil & oregano

I steamed the cauliflower in my Hamilton Beach Steamer. I find this is a superior method to boiling it because it doesn’t pick up as much water, and retains the color, which is important in this dish. If you submerge this cauliflower in boiling water, don’t be surprised if you end up with pink cauliflower.

Once you steam the cauliflower and are waiting for it to cool, preheat the oven to 450 and pop whatever pan or stone you plan to use in there to preheat it, too.

After I let it cool completely, I riced the cauliflower in my teeny-tiny food processor in several batches. I pulsed the cauliflower for about 15 seconds for each batch. Put a thin dish towel in the bottom of a bowl and dump the riced cauliflower on the towel in the bowl. This will make it easy to wring the water from the cauliflower, a necessary step.

Pretty!

Pretty!

You want to wring and wring and wring until you have a tight little ball of cauliflower “dough.” Then dump that in the bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and mash together with your hands. I used the hand blender on mine first, and then finished with my hands.

Cauliflower dough

Transfer the crust to the an oiled piece of parchment paper. I used cooking spray on mine. Shape into any desired shape you want. I used a circle because my pizza pan in 12″ circled, but you could use a square pan, or do any shape you want on a pizza stone. One you have it to the desired thickness you like, put it in the oven for anywhere from 8-15 minutes depending on thickness.

Pre-baked crust

Pre-baked crust

I did 11 minutes this time, but next time I will leave it longer because it was thicker and could have been a bit firmer. I was still able to hold it, albeit very carefully, as opposed to eating it with a fork. Once it’s done in the oven, you are ready for your toppings. Isn’t a thing of beauty?

Purplicious!

Purplicious!

You could put pizza sauce on this pizza crust, but then you’d be covering up all that purple-y beauty. Tomato sauce is also likely to turn the crust magenta, due to acid in the tomatoes interacting with the anthocyanins in the cauliflower. I chose to forgo it this time in favor of some regular olive oil. I just squirted some on and very quickly spread it around using a BBQ brush. Then I added the following as toppings:

4 oz ground veal-chuck blend, cooked with onion, hamburger seasonings and oregano
1 piece of peppered bacon, chopped
6-8 leaves of fresh basil, sliced
About 5 halves of sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
2 baby Portobello mushrooms
a little thinly sliced purple onion
1/3 cup feta cheese
1/3 cup Kraft five Italian cheese blend
A little more oregano on top
a light sprinkling of more olive oil on top

Here’s the pie put together before baking:

Wait until you see the finished product!

Wait until you see the finished product!

If you think that looks good, wait until you see the baked pie. And taste it! OMG… I just popped in the already preheated oven at 450 for another 10 minutes and this is what happened.

I ate four pieces of this guilt-free. Why? Because 8 carbs! And fiber. OMG, the fiber.

I ate four pieces of this guilt-free. Why? Because 8 carbs! And fiber. OMG, the fiber.

Verdict: Delicious! I don’t know if these toppings are truly gourmet, but that seemed the best descriptor to me. You can use whatever you like, of course. Bon appétit!

Lower Sugar Blueberry Jam

Let me just say right up front that I have never made jam in my life. While I used to watch my mom and grandma can all summer long, and I now envy their knowledge and skills, I didn’t acquire the skill from them, much to my regret. Now I’ll have to teach myself, because I made jam yesterday and now I have the bug!

It turns out that there’s a jam-making feature on the new bread machine. Fascinated, I picked the easiest recipe with flavors I love and tried it out. The results, while not perfect yet, are absolutely amazing for a first-timer like me. It didn’t turn out perfect because I winged and modified it a bit for my budget and taste, and my math skills are pretty poor, Heh. What can I say? I’m an English teacher! Here’s what you need to get started:

Actually, you need a teaspoon instead of a tablespoon, but whatev.

Actually, you need a teaspoon instead of a tablespoon, but whatev.

Anyway, the recipe called for 6 cups of blueberries and I only had four, so thus began my modifications. See if you can spot my errors:

Cuisinart Recipe Book

My modifications

6 cups blueberries 4 cups blueberries
1 & 1/3 cups sugar 1/2 cup sugar + 1/2 cup stevia
1.75 ounces powdered pectin 1.50 ounces powdered pectin
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice About 3/4 of a 1/4 cup measuring cup of fresh lime juice
1 tsp lime zest

1 tsp lime zest

I guesstimated that 4 of 6 cups was about 75% when really it was about 66%. So I used a bit too much sweetener and lime zest. Doesn’t matter, because it still turned out excellent, if a bit sweet. Nevertheless let this be a lesson to young cooks everywhere who are not STEM majors in college: take more math classes than the bare bones, and avoid specialty qualifying math class like the Applied Algebra I took. Learning about apportionment in the House of Representatives and Rent formulas for mortgages and retirement was fun and all, but it can’t be applied in the kitchen. LOL.

At any rate, making jam in the bread machine is super easy. You just put the ingredients in the machine in the order listed. Here’s what it looks like:

Beautiful, yes?

Beautiful, yes?

Then set the machine for the jam setting, and walk away. Seriously. You can go play for an hour, since that’s all the time it takes. When you come back, you get some luscious, low-sugar, natural fresh fruit jam without all the extra preservatives that come with the store bought brand.  And it lasts for up to six weeks in the fridge and can be frozen, which is great, since this small batch produced almost four cups.

I couldn't believe I made this!

I couldn’t believe I made this!

You want to let it cool completely on the counter before you pop it in the fridge or freezer. I’m basically the only person in the house who likes jam, so I’ll be freezing two of these, eating off one for a while, and gifting the fourth. Here are the nutritional stats on this, thanks to the recipe entry feature on Myfitnesspal (I’m annabellep1 if you want to friend me over there). This is per tablespoon:

Calories: 15
Carbs: 4
Potassium: 7
Sodium: 6

No fat, and negligible protein.

Now I need to visit some thrift and garage sales to acquire some canning jars, because my new goal for the summer is learning how to can this stuff up, along with all the other stuff I plan on making, like tomato chutney!

Paleo-ish Cole Slaw

I’m pretty interested in just about any new diet fad that comes along as long as it makes sense. I’m not one to adopt the new fad wholesale, but I like to dabble in everything in my kitchen. So hot on the heals of gluten-free bread yesterday, I just had to try this recipe for a paleo cole slaw I saw at The Lucky Penny last week. I also stole the Kalua pig recipe she paired this with, but that won’t be done until tomorrow. The cole slaw, however, is done today, and I had it with a bacon cheddar burger and it was DIVINE! I can’t wait for my husband, who hates anything with a creamy texture, to try it tomorrow when he gets home from work (he works third shift).

I’m calling it paleo-ish because I didn’t have any “raw” honey, whatever that is. I just had regular honey. And I couldn’t find “coconut aminos,” but I did find Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, so I used that. It’s organic, anyway, and has no MSG. I also used a pepper medley instead of plain black pepper. Here’s a picture of my ingredients. Ignore the liquid smoke because I didn’t use it. That was out for the Kalua pig and got mixed up.

That's the Lucky Penny recipe on my tablet in the background. I love that thing!

That’s the Lucky Penny recipe on my tablet in the background. I love that thing!

So, for the list of ingredients:

Slaw:

1 small head red cabbage, shredded
3/4 cup shredded carrots
half that bag of Brussels sprouts, shredded
10 green onion (not pictured because I forgot ‘em and had to run out for them in the middle of making it
half a cup of Trader Joe’s unsalted slivered raw almonds, toasted 3-5 minutes in a dry pan

Sauce:

1/4 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup + 3 tbsp of Bragg’s liquid amino
1/4 cup + 1 tbs of Bragg’s organic apple cider
1 tsp honey
1 tbsp red pepper chili oil
ground pepper medley to taste
2 tbsp Kroger sesame seeds

This is what the slaw looks like before the sauce.

Red cabbage and Brussels sprouts rock my world!

Red cabbage and Brussels sprouts rock my world!

As you can see, I use a mix of organic hoity-toity ingredients, and good old Kroger brand items. I buy my produce at Kroger, too for the most part, though I’ll also buy at Meijiers or Wal*Mart if I’m there and find a good price. I know, EVIL CORPORATIONS. Oh well. I don’t happen to think corporations are necessarily evil; I like the world I live in and corporations had a lot to do with how easy life is these days. But I digress. I just wanted you to know that I’m not one of those macro-vegan soy-and-gluten-free cardboard eating types. I hate that shit. But I do love good food, and I try to minimize the processed stuff because there’s so much dang sodium and MSG in stuff anymore.

ANYWAY, this slaw was DA BOMB, as the kids say, or used to say. I don’t know; I can’t keep up. It was delicious, however, that much I can report. Just yummo. Next time I think I’m just going to use the quarter cup of liquid amino without the additional tablespoons, to make the sesame flavor pop a little more. I let it set up in the fridge for a couple of hours before grilling my burger, with which it paired very well. I also expect it will be delicious with the Kalua pig tomorrow, but more on that later this week. Here’s the finished product:

Sorry for the yellowish tint to this picture. My kitchen has poor lighting and I'm not a professional photographer.

Sorry for the yellowish tint to this picture. My kitchen has poor lighting and I’m not a professional photographer.

I spent all day in the kitchen, so there will plenty to post about this week. Tomorrow morning I’m going to share with you my lower-sugar jam I made!

BREAD!

And it’s gluten-free!

I’m so excited. I ordered a Cuisinart bread machine last week, and it came today. It is a thing of beauty. Just see for yourself!

Meet the CBK 100

Meet the CBK 100

I have been making this super easy no-knead bread that’s been going around the Internet for a while now, and it got me thinking a lot about bread and possibilities. Especially with my latest attempts at healthier eating, I did not want to carb out if I got a bread addiction, so I’ve been reading about gluten-free breads. Even picked up a copy of The Artisan Bread Machine (by Judith Fertig) at Half Priced Books. The book contains a hefty section on gluten free breads, though to be sure I also picked up a 5 lb bag of King Arthur’s bread flour. So it won’t be all gluten free or anything.

Because honestly, I can’t afford it. I picked up a bag of Trader Joe’s all-purpose gluten free flour, which cost me a cool $3.99 for a paltry 2.75 cups and I used all of it to make just one loaf. That was bad enough, but xantham gum, essential for gluten free bread making, was an eye-popping $12.84 a bag at my regular grocery store. I mean, you only use a tbsp at a time, or so, so it will last a while, but still. I’m not accustomed to paying $12+ bucks for anything but meat. Anyway, back to bread. Because it was victory on my first try! Here’s the proof:

20130520_225926

That lil circle is the paddle, which it turns out you can take out after the mixing period, but I couldn’t figure it out at the time. Now I know the trick. You have to release the bread pan first.

So it took 2.5 hours to make this bread, and it comes in at 132 calories a slice if you cut the 2 lb loaf into 15 pieces, which you can. It has all sorts of yummy, unexpected ingredients like apple sauce and apple cider, which I happened to have on hand because I make apple dumplins all the time. I’d just invested in a bottle of Braggs Organic apple cider, too, so I could make paleo cole slaw (recipe and pics to come–that’s tomorrow).

Anyway, gluten free bread with this recipe is yummy, just like white bread, but a fair amount heavier. Continue reading

The Purple Mash

I’ve been a bit obsessed with purple cauliflower recently. Did you know that there aren’t many recipes for purple cauliflower? Oh, you can find oodles and oodles of stuff to do with cauliflower, but not much that can take advantage of the gorgeousness that is purple cauliflower. I did find this beautiful recipe and I wanted to try it out, so today I went to work.

I work my domestic bliss on a budget in a smallish apartment with a tiny kitchen. So I didn’t have one of those mega-sized food processors to make this easy. I had to work with my itty bitty little Food Network mini-processor I got at Kohl’s on sale. I do love their Food Network line of kitchen aids. Anyway, I started out by steaming the purple cauliflower:

Steaming cauliflower

Purpleness in a a very affordable Hamilton Beach Steamer.

While the cauliflower steamed, I drained a can of Joan of Arc butter beans. They were, um, very firm, which meant they kind of ground into a chunky, powderyness in the food processor. Next time I might just cook up some lima beans until they’re mush. I love lima beans, and they can get very mushy, which I think will serve this dish better.

When the cauliflower finished, I let is cool for a a minute, and I do mean a minute. I was in a hurry to try this out. I’d been searching for tahini, which is not an ingredient I normally keep on hand, for a week. Finally found it at Kroger for, like, $10 bucks in the organic section. I plan to get some mileage out of it at that price! So after it briefly cooled, I processed it in batches in the food processor. Took maybe five batches for the whole head. I do so need to get that super-large processor!

Mashed beans and riced cauliflower meeting in a bowl!

Mashed beans and riced cauliflower meeting in a bowl!

Next I added about a tablespoon of olive oil, and two tablespoons of tahini. That’s more than the original recipe called for, and I admit, it was a bit of tahini overkill. I can still taste it hours later. I really don’t care because a) tahini is awesome! and b) the recipe needed more of a binding liquid as I made it. I eventually added about a tsp of water just to help it gel. I also added some sea salt and black pepper.

I couldn’t very well see my way to putting small batches of the mix back into the food processor because there was so much by this time, and it would have been, like, 12 batches or something. So I just whipped out my very handy, newly acquired Black and Decker 6-speed hand blender and went to work a la mashed potatoes. Black and Decker makes some fine products, and the mixer, very affordable on sale at Kohl’s and secured with an additional 20% off coupon a day earlier as Mother’s Day gift to myself, did the trick. Viola! I give you probably the craziest dish I’ve made, and the most beautiful food pic I’ve ever taken:

Dinner of the puree on toast with a scattering of chives, some Boar's Head Prosciutto panino, and some fresh organic strawberries. YUM!

Dinner of the puree on toast with a scattering of chives, some Boar’s Head Prosciutto panino, and some fresh organic strawberries. YUM!

I’m not going to post the recipe yet, because I intend to mess around with it until I get it perfect. In the meantime, you can check out the link at the top of this post and try it for yourself.