Kid-Friendly · Recipes · Soup · Vegetarian · Whole30

Ultra-Faux Pho

This is… this is not even fake pho. This is a supremely lazy/fast approach to a slightly-influenced-by-Vietnamese-Pho dinner, but one that always goes off without a hitch in my house and can pretty much be done with any veg and meat you have. So here it is, my ultra-faux pho.

Your ingredients list can really go any which way you like, but here are the basics for 2-3 servings:

1 quart chicken, beef, or mushroom broth (or half and half meat/veg)
1 lb meat (meatballs, sausage, shredded chicken, etc)
1 vegetable that you can make noodles out of (zucchini, sweet potato)
1-2 handfuls green leafy vegetables (baby bok choy, spinach, etc)
1-2 handfuls chopped mushrooms (optional)
4-6 eggs
Togarashi, to taste

Using a spiralizer, julienne peeler, or just a regular vegetable peeler, turns your noodling vegetable into said noodles. You can also buy pre-noodled zucchini or sweet potato – they are increasingly available in grocery stores (Trader Joe’s sells sweet potato ribbons and they are fantastic).

Continue reading “Ultra-Faux Pho”

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Kid-Friendly · Party Food · Poultry · Recipes · Whole30

Default Wings: DIY

Wings are such a quick, easy, and often very cheap way to make everyone happy. They’re frequently labeled at the butcher counter as “party wings” and are already split up into the flat wing and the drumette, which is perfect for me because The Boyfriend prefers the drums and I want *all* the flats. For a little while I was preparing a new recipe each time we wanted wings, until I finally figured out my “go to” or The Default. If you love wings, but you and your meal buddy want different flavors, this is the recipe for you. The Default delivers perfectly crispy wings with a delicious dry rub every time, ready to be eaten as is or drenched in your sauce of choice.

Equipment:
Oven
Large glass pan
Tongs

Ingredients:
1-2 lbs “party wings”
2 tbsp cooking oil or animal fat of choice
1-2 tbsp granulated garlic
2-3 tsp Diamond Crystal salt

Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease one or two glass pans with your fat of choice, using a silicone brush or other preferred utensil to coat the whole bottom of the pan and up the sides. (You may need two pans if you are making more than one pound of wings, if they are too close together, it can overcrowd the pan and they won’t cook as well or as evenly).

Continue reading “Default Wings: DIY”

Kid-Friendly · Pork · Poultry · Recipes

WTF: The Easiest Stir-Fry Ever

Yea yea, I know, I haven’t posted a recipe since April. I don’t really have an excuse – I just haven’t been writing much, though cooking plenty. So let’s just skip all the apologies and whatnot and get down to business.

If you saw my post on the SlowCarbSnacktime Facebook the other day, I mentioned that I want to start a new series of posts for the blog entitled “What’s in The Fridge” or WTF. After some feedback from friends and readers, I realized what the people want: fast and easy options for living a slow carb life. Many of my recipes comes from the same “base” recipe – once you know how to cook a type of dish or protein, you basically have free reign to make it your own, fit it to your needs and the foods you have on hand. I’ll be sharing some of these “build-a-bear” style recipes to help you get things started, with some ingredient recommendations to make it your own.

Before we get started with the recipe, a mini update just to say that I have changed my Instagram username. Neither blog nor their respective Facebook pages will be changing, but I decided to update my IG to something more inclusive of the actual content I post and to better reflect my personality. You can now find me on Instagram @lipsticksanddeadlifts.

On to the easiest stir-fry ever! Due to the make-your-own style of this recipe, I have not included any photos for the time being.

You will need: 
Large non-stick pan
Cutting board
Sharp knife
Spatula
Tongs

Ingredients: 
1 lb sausage in casings (pork or chicken)
10oz bag frozen pepper strips
10oz bag frozen sliced mushrooms
1 onion, halved and sliced thin

Seasoning & Spices: 
salt
garlic powder

Since I’m working with frozen veggies, it takes a bit longer to cook, but it’s worth it for the added nutrients.* Heat a large non-stick pan on medium-high heat and dump in the peppers and mushrooms – you don’t need any cooking fat right now, the veggies need to defrost and lose some of their water. Stirring occasionally, cook the veggies until the water begins to evaporate (7-10 minutes) and then add in the onions. The onions will also let go of some water – once all the liquid has evaporated, add your cooking fat (ghee, tallow, coconut oil, olive oil, etc), salt, and any herbs or spices you like.

mild-links220_0Once the vegetables begin to caramelize, add in your sausage links. I prefer to use uncooked sausages and usually buy Mulay’s brand, but cooked sausages like Aidell’s Organic are just fine too! Just be sure to check your ingredients. If you are using raw sausage, let them cook for 5-7 minutes, turning once – continue to stir the veggies as well. Using tongs, remove the sausages one at a time to the cutting board and slice them into rings. If you are using pre-cooked sausages, you can slice them right away.

Continue to cook the veggie-sausage mixture until the sausages are cooked through, mixing occasionally so that nothing sticks to the pan. Serve immediately.

***

Okay, so that’s my basic sausage stir-fry, but you can make it work with almost any veggies you have available. Here are some options that I have tried or would, but you can use whatever you like:

  • fresh or frozen sweet peppers, sliced
  • fresh hot peppers, chopped
  • fresh or frozen mushrooms, sliced
  • onion (any kind)
  • scallions
  • shallots
  • broccoli
  • cabbage, sliced
  • green beans
  • carrots

Some herb and spice options, though I would not recommend using them all at once:

  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • Chinese five-spice
  • oregano
  • sage
  • rosemary
  • thyme
  • white pepper

*Notes:

If the veggies you’re buying are out of season, you’re better off buying frozen vs. imported. Produce begins to lose nutrients once its picked and the longer it takes to get to your plate, the less you benefit from it!

Kid-Friendly · Party Food · Poultry · Recipes · Snacks

XXX: Spiced Up Chicken Salad

With the very last of our warm weather, we’ve been using the grill basically every day, and this meal was no different. Since I first came up with this dish, we’ve had it at least three times and it is definitely a new house staple.

Ingredients:
1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
1-2 tsp za’atar
1-2 tsp harissa
2 tsp high quality oil (olive or avocado)

For Salad:
1/2 cup sugar-free mayo or to taste
1 tsp dried tarragon
1/2 sweet yellow onion, finely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

In a mixing bowl, drizzle oil over chicken thighs. Add harissa and za’atar and mixed gently until coated well. Grill on medium heat until cooked through (or oven roast at 425*F for about 20 minutes). If you are grilling chicken specifically for this recipe, let the meat cool completely and refrigerate for at least an hour before chopping – you don’t want the onions to soften or the mayo to melt! I specifically made extra so I’d have leftovers to make this spiced up chicken salad for lunch the next day, so I’m working with meat right out of the fridge.

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To a large bowl, add chopped 1/2 of a sweet yellow or Walla Walla onion. I highly recommend chopping the onion quite fine, I don’t think I went small enough and ended up with lots of mayo-covered onion at the bottom of the bowl (though The Boyfriend did not seem to mind this and cleaned out both plates).

Using a sharp knife or kitchen shears, coarsely chop chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces and add to the chopped onion. I have been relying on my squeeze-tube mayo lately, but I am estimating that I used about 3/4 cup. This really comes down to personal preference, so add a little bit at a time, stirring and tasting until you get to your desired consistency and flavor. Season with salt, pepper, and tarragon to taste and mix well.

Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving. Recommend eating within 24-36 hours.

Health · Information · Kid-Friendly · Recipes · Sauces · Vegetarian · Veggies + Side Dishes

Homegrown Summer Ghee

I’m sure by now you have heard plenty about clarified butter. No? Let me explain, ’cause it’s pretty wonderful. Clarified butter, also known as ghee, is made by separating milk solids from butterfat and removing them. This Yahoo article sums it up quite nicely: “A staple of Ayurvedic medicine and Indian cuisine, ghee is made by heating butter until the milk solids are separated and then removed, meaning it’s not dairy, just fat—mostly saturated—which is essential to brain health, muscle recovery, and immunity.” … “It’s ideal for cooking at high heat (less prone than olive oil to go rancid when crisping or frying). And, with a rich, nutty flavor, it’s delicious on everything from lobster to Brussels sprouts.”

Now that you know the truth, it’s easy to see why the dairy-free product has become so popular with slow carb and paleo eaters. The best part is… it’s ridiculously easy to make. I’ve made clarified butter before, it really is quite simple, but I tried a few new things this time and it’s pretty damn hard not to eat this batch straight off a spoon!

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Putting my little garden to work! Fresh homegrown basil.

Appliances/Equipment: 
1 large pot
1 fine mesh strainer (small)
1-2 ice cube trays
1 sealable container (preferably glass)
Measuring Teaspoon
Measuring cup or small pitcher
Large bowl or pitcher with pouring spout

Ingredients: 
~ 1 lb grass-fed butter, unsalted
4 oz fresh basil (bonus points if it’s homegrown!!)

Cut butter into chunks and add to a clean pot. Over medium-low heat, melt butter until completely liquefied, stirring often to prevent burning. While the butter is melting, rinse basil with cold water. Gently pat/roll dry with a paper towel and remove all leaves from the stems – I do this by lightly pinching the base of the leaf between my thumb and forefinger and it just pops right off; discard the stems.

Lay the leaves out and pat both sides dry again. Using your hands, tear the basil into small pieces – small enough to fit several into each individual ice cube mold (but don’t throw them in yet).

Once the butter has melted completely, remove it from the heat. Set up your strainer or a piece of cheesecloth over a large bowl or pitcher and pour the liquid through – this is the first step in separating the milk solids from the butterfat.

Now, set the strainer over a measuring cup and pour butter through again – you don’t actually need to measure anything here, I just found my measuring cup to be the best shape for the steps that follow.

At this point, you should see the butter start to separate – the milk solids will sink to the bottom while the butterfat will float to the top. Using a measuring teaspoon, layer a small amount of the butterfat only into the bottom of each ice cube mold. On top of this base layer, place a small piece of basil. Cover with butter and repeat the butter-basil layering process until all the cubes are full – I think I got 8-10 pieces of basil in each one, possibly more. Remember to only use the butterfat for this, the idea is to keep it separate from the milk solids!

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So I used an entire pound of butter for this and ran out of ice cube trays. If you encounter the same problem, you can repeat the layering process on a larger scale in any container with a lid, but glass is preferable. Remember to put a layer of the butterfat in first so the basil doesn’t stick to the container.

Place ice cube trays in the refrigerator until the ghee solidifies – at least 12 hours. You can toss them into the freezer just like that, or if you are lazy like me, bang them all out at once and store them in the freezer in a ziplock bag for easy access later on.

Enjoy!

I’ve already used these little ghee cubes a few times and they paired wonderfully with my Saturday Morning Shakshuka and my Thai-ish Spicy Peanut Chicken.

Beef · CrockPot · Health · Kid-Friendly · Recipes · Soup · Whole30

Rosemary Bone Broth

I have written, deleted, and re-written this post like 10 times now. There is just so much information about the endless benefits of drinking bone broth, I’m kicking myself for not trying it earlier. It’s delicious, it’s super easy, and it’s really really good for you – what more do you need? Just ask your butcher for a few pounds of beef soup bones – femurs or knuckles – and get cookin!

No, but seriously – the list of health benefits is astounding. Bone broth is packed with nutrients and minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium as well as amino acids like glycine and proline which promote a healthy gut, and aid in digestion, growth, even muscle repair. I could write about all the good stuff in bone broth for ages, but let’s just get to how you can make it at home and then you can see all the benefits for yourself!

Special Equipment/Appliances: 
Large slow cooker/crock pot
Fine mesh strainer
Cheese cloth (optional but recommended)
Mason jar or other glass container(s), for storage

Ingredients: 
2 lbs beef soup/marrow bones (femur or knuckle)
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
~ 4 L cold water (about 16 cups)

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Add marrow bones to slow cooker. Cover with water by at least 3″ – this took about 3.5L (~14 cups) for my 5 quart crockpot. Add 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar and 3 large sprigs fresh rosemary (the rosemary will be removed after the first 12 hours, so if you are using dried herbs or smaller pieces, I recommend placing them in a spice bag or using a string to tie them). Note: Do not, I repeat DO NOT, add salt. As the broth reduces, the salt will likely become too concentrated and will ruin you broth – it is best to add other herbs and seasoning later, in individual portions, when serving.

Set on low for 36-48 hours.

After the first 12 hours, remove the rosemary. Left in for longer, it will become bitter and start to disintegrate.

After 24 hours, add back some of the water that has evaporated. You still want to keep the water line about 3″ over the top of the bones.

The longer you let it simmer, the better it will be, but I am impatient and only managed 42 hours before I had to have it!

Line your mesh strainer with a thin piece of cheesecloth (one or two layers) and place it over a large bowl or mason jar. My strainer is quite large so I had to do this over a bowl and then pour it into the mason jars for storage.

Using a large ladle, run the bone broth through the strainer and cheesecloth – this ensures there will be no muck or bone fragments in your pretty broth! If you used a separate bowl like I did, carefully transfer your broth into your storage containers (I used large 1/2 gallon and quart mason jars). If you have a smaller strainer, you can place this over the top of your mason jar to strain it one final time – not necessary, but certainly won’t hurt.

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Leave uncovered on the counter to cool. As the fat comes to the top and solidifies, you can remove it with a spoon if so compelled, but it will render back down when microwaved so feel free to leave it in if you like it! Store in the fridge for up to one week.

Just be mindful, when you take it out of the fridge, it will act and look like jello. You made cow jello, and it is amazing!

To serve, season with salt and pepper and microwave about two minutes per mug. This would also make a great base for French onion soup, but we quite like it as is.

Enjoy!

Kid-Friendly · Party Food · Recipes · Snacks · Vegetarian · Veggies + Side Dishes

Devilish Egg Salad

I really love eggs, like.. a lot. They are the perfect slow carb food: one chicken egg packs 6g of protein, 5g of fat, less than 1g of sugar, as well as vitamins A, D, B-6, and B-12. As you can imagine, we eat a lot of eggs in this house. Duck, quail, chicken, I love ’em all. I also really really love deviled eggs, but rarely have the patience to neatly put them together when it’s just for The Boyfriend and myself. Enter: the deviled egg salad – same ingredients, half the time, and you don’t have to share if you don’t want to. (For the real deal, check out my Top Secret Deviled Eggs).

Appliances/Special Equipment:
1 medium-sized pot
1 medium-large mixing bowl
1 small baking spatula (rubber or silicone)
1 egg slicer or sharp knife

Ingredients: 
5 large eggs
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2-3 anchovy fillets (canned in oil)
1/2 tsp oil from canned anchovies
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp paprika

Prepare eggs to medium temperature, according to The Perfect Boiled Egg (~5 minutes), and peel immediately. Using a sharp knife or egg slicer, cut the eggs in half, and then again into small pieces. Add chopped eggs to mixing bowl.

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Using two forks, shred anchovies into small pieces; add extra anchovies if you like saltier foods. To the eggs, add 1/4 cup mayonnaise, shredded anchovies, 1/2 tsp of oil from the anchovies, paprika, and white pepper. Gently mix with rubber/silicone spatula, making sure to just coat the egg whites and yolks rather than making a mushy mess – you want this to hold up as a salad, after all.

Transfer egg salad to a serving dish or resealable container – other than looking pretty, this is a good way to make sure everything at the bottom was mixed well without risking it turning into mush.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving (or just dig in if no one’s watching).

Kid-Friendly · Pork · Recipes · Skills/Techniques · Snacks

Render: Maximizing Bacon Fat

While I’m not particularly interested in the fake bacon flavor that seems to be found in everything these days, there are few things better than real, freshly cooked bacon. I love bacon, I really do, and now there’s a way to get some of that savory goodness every day without destroying your kitchen daily: rendering bacon fat. This is obviously not a new concept, I’m sure people have saved bacon grease since bacon was first discovered, but I struggled with the process for a while before I found a system that really works for me. If you have a fat rendering method that you love, more power to you, I’m just here to share my method for those still working on a way to cook with bacon grease on the regular.

Reserved bacon fat is excellent for quick meals like fried eggs or adding some flavor to simple dishes. Remember though, this will have a lower smoke point than other oils so if it’s crispy mushrooms you’re looking for, head for the olive or avocado oils.

Appliances/Special Equipment: 
2 medium-sized heat proof bowls (glass recommended)
1 medium-sized heat proof container with airtight seal (Pyrex recommended)
1 small-medium non-stick pan, at least 2″ deep
1 small fine mesh strainer (3″ – 4″)
1 pair heat-safe tongs (not plastic)

Ingredients: 
5 slices pork bacon, thick-cut (7 slices regular cut)

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Using a sharp knife, slice the bacon into small chunks – I usually keep the strips together when removing from the package and cut them all at once, 6-7 pieces per slice. Separate the pieces so they aren’t all stuck together.

Heat a non-stick pan, at least 2″ deep, over medium heat. Add bacon to pan and fry over medium heat, turning often with tongs, until all pieces are cooked through – the idea here is to render or melt as much fat as possible without burning the meat. I usually cook until the bacon is just slightly crispier than my personal preference (The Boyfriend will eat it all anyway).

Using the tongs, gently “shake off” excess fat from bacon pieces and remove them to heat-safe bowl. Place the mesh strainer over the second bowl and carefully pour the grease from the pan through the strainer into the bowl. Repeat by straining the grease from the bowl through the mesh into the heat-safe container. You should strain your bacon fat at least twice, as described above, but the more times you do it, the “purer” your fat will be – the fat in the photo above was strained three times.

Eat fried bacon pieces within 12 hours. Store rendered fat in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

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Breakfast · Kid-Friendly · Recipes · Snacks · Whole30

The Perfect Boiled Egg

From a distance, boiling an egg seems like the simplest task of all things food. I’m here to tell you this is false. In my years of egg loving and eating, there have been many an overcooked yolk, exploded shells, and deformed whites. Properly boiling an egg is damn near a science, and I’ve finally figured it out.

Whether it’s soft-, medium-, or hard-boiled eggs you’re after, I’ve got the answer for you right here. No matter what I’m making, this is the process I follow and it’s served me well e

Ingredients: 
6 large eggs, preferably a week old (farm fresh if possible)
1/2 tsp baking soda

Equipment: 
1 medium-sized pot

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Sprinkle with coarse salt and dig in!

Place the eggs in the bottom of the pot, coat with 1/2 tsp baking soda, and cover with water at least 2″ over the eggs. Bring water to a boil over medium-high heat. Allow water to continue boiling for the following times:

Soft-boiled eggs: 3 minutes
Medium-boiled: 5-6 minutes (pictured)
Hard-boiled: 8+ minutes

If you are boiling eggs for something like my Top Secret Deviled Eggs, I usually let them go for about 10 minutes.

Immediately remove pot from heat and place in the sink. Run cold water over the eggs for about two minutes. Alternatively, remove eggs from the pot using a slotted spoon and place into a bowl of cold water and ice (prepare ahead of time).

Peel the eggs – the sooner the better. I do this by lightly tapping them on the edge of the sink or the counter, starting at the top and going down around the whole egg lengthwise. Repeat this process across the width of the egg (horizontal).

Baked · Kid-Friendly · Party Food · Poultry · Recipes · Whole30

Amazeballs: Super Scallion Turkey Meatballs

I have a confession. Prior to creating this recipe, I’d never made meatballs before. I’ve eaten Russian meatballs, Italian meatballs, matzah balls, you name it. I helped my grandma make the little meatballs when I was a kid, I helped my mom make matzoh balls for most of my life, and I’ve eaten a LOT of excellent Italian food since The Boyfriend and I started dating, but I’d never actually made meatballs on my own! I have to say, I am pleased as punch with myself for how these guys turned out.

I got 21 medium-sized meatballs from 2 lbs of turkey, perfect for two hungry grown-ups and a few extras for breakfast leftovers. Adjust proportions accordingly.

Ingredients: 
2 lbs ground turkey
2 large eggs
12-15 scallions (~ 4 oz)
1.5 cups pork rind “breadcrumbs” (details below)
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tbsp oil
2 tsp bacon fat (or equivalent)

Seasoning:
1 tsp salt
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

Appliances/Special Equipment: 
Food processor
Large non-stick pan
Oven

All the scallions!
All the scallions!

Place several handfuls of pork rinds (I really like Mission’s Chicharrones) in the bowl of your food processor. Pulse in 10-15 second intervals until pork rinds resemble breadcrumbs. Repeat until you have at least 1.5 cups of “pork crumbs” – I usually use up the entire bag so I can store the extras and use as I please, but if you just want enough for this recipe, that’s okay too. If you’re making extra, store in an airtight container.

From the scallions, remove the “hairy” end and any wilted tips. I usually peel off and completely remove the outermost layer from the scallion, but if you don’t feel like dealing with it, a good scrub is just fine too. Thinly slice scallions (yep, the white part too) and set aside.

In your food processor, combine the ground turkey, salt, celery salt, pepper, garlic, scallions, and eggs. Blend until mostly uniform – it’s a fine line between mixed and mushy, and you can always do more by hand, so pay careful attention. Remove the turkey mixture to a large bowl. Add 1.5 cups “pork crumbs” and mix until uniform, a large baking spatula is great for this (my food processor came with one, see link above).

Prepare to get messy! Using a tablespoon (the regular dining kind) and your hands, form the turkey mixture into round meatballs. Place on a large cutting board or plate to set. Let the meatballs rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes – this will help them stay together.

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Pre-heat oven to 400*F.
Grease a large, oven-safe pan with bacon fat, non-stick spray, or oil and set aside. Note: I usually just use a metal cookie sheet, but for this recipe I whipped out the big Pyrex with actual sides to prevent my meatballs from rolling all over the place.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large non-stick pan at medium heat.
Working in batches, brown the meatballs – about 1 minute on each “side”. They don’t have to be perfectly brown the whole way around, but getting a good sear on at least two “sides” will lock in some great flavor just like with a steak. Place browned meatballs in rows on oven-safe pan.

Bake meatballs in 400*F oven for 20-25 minutes or until internal temperature reads 165*F.

Serve immediately. (I dipped them in a little bit of creamy horseradish sauce. Amazeballs!)

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Amazeballs!

Suggested Pairing Options: 
Holy Crap! Garlic Soup
Red Lentils are Dal-icious