dinner

PSA: I’m offering a free preview copy of Paleo Takeout starting today through February 12th, via this 100% free bundle. A bunch of Paleo-minded authors and bloggers teamed up to provide some really helpful eBooks and meal plans – over 70 resources in all, valued at over $1,000! The preview copy of Paleo Takeout includes 10 recipes from the book, plus a few more thrown in for good measure.

Lately, I’ve been taking tiny steps to minimize all those little stresses in life. For example, I’ve been driving on backroads on my way home from work each day, which has much better scenery and fewer cars zipping in and out in front of me. It might take an extra minute or two out of my day, but it’s adding years to my life, right? That’s what I’d like to think. Regardless of any increases in my life expectancy, I’ve been arriving at home in a better mood, so it’s well worth it.

In similar fashion, we’ve recently been taking it a bit easy in the kitchen. Having a small baby at home will do that; my lullaby-singing skills have greatly improved, but I definitely have less time to chop up a bunch of ingredients. So meals like these Spaghetti Squash Bolognese Boats have been a hit, with minimal hands-on time but plenty of flavor. Plus, this recipe requires only three ingredients: squash, pasta sauce, and ground beef.

If you’re hoping to spend a bit more time in the kitchen, you could always make your own pasta sauce (here’s my recipe). Additionally, I’ve included quick instructions on how to roast the spaghetti squash seeds, so that nothing is wasted.

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Recently, I stumbled upon J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s technique for pressure-cooker risotto, and decided to take it for a spin using my Instant Pot electric pressure cooker. Considering that risotto has been around for 600 years, it’s nice to see a new spin on a classic preparation.

This technique worked perfectly (big surprise), so I have been using it frequently as a means to make perfect risotto without all that stirring. I even had to buy a new bag of arborio rice this past weekend, which is a rare occurrence – risotto rice always seems to last forever. If you don’t have a pressure cooker (yet!), don’t worry, I’ve included stovetop instructions as well.

To highlight this new take on risotto, I decided to err on the side of decadent: duck fat, mushrooms, prosciutto, and orange zest all fit together seamlessly to form a dish that’s equal parts familiar and exotic – and surprisingly dairy-free, to boot.

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I’m the kind of guy who likes to grill in the winter. Well, let me rephrase that – so long as there isn’t a ton of snow on the ground, I like to grill in the winter. Living in Florida has its perks; we still have surprisingly cold weather here in the panhandle, but it rarely snows, and so I get to fire up my grill year-round.

One of my favorite reasons to grill in the cold is that it creates contrasting experiences. Winter in the air, summer in your bowl. This idea is best exemplified in these Chicken Teriyaki Bowls, accented with apple slices and white rice seasoned with furikake (I like Urashima furikake, which is made without additives).

Teriyaki sauce can be traced back to the Edo age in Japan, which started in the 17th century. An increase in urbanization and exposure to outside cultures resulted in an influx of new ingredients, which converged to make this tangy, sweet sauce that is perfect for grilling. Japanese restaurants gained prominence in the United States in the 1960s, and teriyaki sauce became the household name that it is today.

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Bobotie is a baked mincemeat dish and one of the more recognizable foods to come out of South Africa. It’s commonly believed that Bobotie was first derived from the Javanese dish Botok, as Dutch colonists brought the dish to South Africa from their settlements in Indonesia (née Dutch East Indies) in the 17th century. While Botok is made with minced meat wrapped in banana leaves, Bobotie is often seasoned with curry powder and dried fruit and baked with a egg custard topping – a reflection of both local ingredients and European colonial tastes.

This dish joins the ranks of other dishes on my blog, like Mulligatawny Soup and Sukuma Wiki, as exotic-tasting meals that can be created using items you likely already have in your pantry. These are some of my favorite dishes to create and share, as they have a fairly low barrier to entry but can expand your palate and culinary repertoire.

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As far as I can tell, one of this year’s most popular gadgets was the Instant Pot, an electronic pressure cooker that doubles (triples, etc) as a slow cooker, rice pot, steamer, yogurt maker, and more. I’m most frequently asked to develop recipes for it by my readers, followed closely by folks looking for slow cooker (crockpot) recipes. So this week’s Pot Roast recipe is the best of both worlds – a pressure cooker recipe that also includes instructions for slow cookers. Heck, I even threw in Dutch Oven instructions while I was at it.

Don’t let the lengths of these instructions scare you away. Each recipe is essentially four parts: brown the roast, cook the roast (and vegetables), broil the roast (and vegetables), and reduce the sauce. It’s a bit more involved than dumping everything in a pot, but well worth the extra effort: tender meat, roasted vegetables, and tasty sauce all at once.

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Many mornings, I wake up in the mood for eggs…but also not in the mood for eggs, you know what I mean? The consistency and flavor of traditionally-prepared eggs are both a godsend for predictability and a major exercise in patience for discerning eaters like yours truly. And it’s not just me who is sometimes bored with eggs; it’s a global pheomenon, demonstrated by the myriad of ways to prepare eggs – scrambled, fried, flipped, deviled, basted, roasted, poached, shirred, boiled, and scotched. I feel like a cast member of Forrest Gump right now, but you get my point.

Egg Bhurji is a recent favorite, as it combines exotic South Asian flavors with an egg scramble for delicious effect. All it takes is a bit of prep to chop and soften the vegetables before adding in the eggs; it’s definitely worth that extra few minutes of effort.

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When filling out our weekly meal plan, my family often consults my cookbooks; after all, the main reason I included particular recipes in those books is because they’re our favorites. This week we decided to make the Thai Red Curry recipe from Paleo Takeout, and I thought it would be fun to share the recipe with you folks as well.

Thai Red Curry differs from other popular Thai curries in that its base is made from dried chiles instead of fresh chiles. In order to temper the considerable heat of dried Thai chiles (usually the only chili used in traditional Thai Red Curries), I use a combination of large, mild dried chiles (like Anaheim, Guajillo, or New Mexico chiles) and spicy Thai chiles. To increase the intensity of your curry, simply add more spicy chiles.

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I know what you’re thinking – two recipes in one week? That’s right folks, in anticipation of one of the biggest cooking days of the year next week, I’m providing you with 200% of my typical weekly recipe spread. Tuesday’s recipe for Devilish Eggs makes for a perfect appetizer, while this simple cranberry sauce is fitting for any Thanksgiving plate: Paleo, Primal, gluten-free, or even gluten-laden.

I’m going to be on the road for most of next week (one last family vacation before our second child arrives next month), so I want to give you a few news updates before your holiday shopping reaches full swing.

First, the Kindle version of my debut cookbook, The Ancestral Table will be on sale November 24th (this coming Tuesday) for $2.99, 66% off its normal price! This is part of a large-scale, one-day Paleo eBook sale; follow this link to sign up and be notified the moment the discount is available. Also, I’ll post the full list of eBooks on sale at the bottom of this recipe – it’s an excellent selection!

Next, the folks behind TX Bar Organics are offering 35% off all orders over $100, with free shipping on orders over $175 using the code “HOLIDAYS” (all caps). This is an excellent opportunity to fill your freezer with high-quality organic grass-fed beef.

Finally, I’ve recently started writing for Yahoo Food, which has been a lot of fun. Check out this recipe for New Brunswick-Style Potato Stuffing. This stuffing rounds out the perfect holiday meal, when paired with the cranberry sauce recipe below plus some other favorites: Devilish Eggs, Smoked Turkey, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, and Mashed Sweet Potatoes.

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Chicken Cacciatore (Pollo alla Cacciatora) is a traditional Italian dish. The word “Cacciatora” translates to “Hunter” in English, as this dish was originally used to prepare rabbit and gamefowl. Today, variations that feature rabbit meat still abound.

The story goes that this “hunter’s stew” consisted of ingredients you could find in the forest or open fields. Many American versions of this dish have been altered considerably from their source material; breaded, fried chicken cutlets are often smothered in a marinara sauce (not unlike Chicken Parmesan, really). Italian versions often feature tomatoes but not overwhelmingly so; instead they’re a complement to other vegetables like onion, mushrooms, carrot, and bell pepper. Northern Italian variations of this dish use white wine, while Southern Italians use red wine.

Typically, this dish is prepared with a broken-down whole chicken. I’m down for that, but at the same time, I’m always concerned about the different cooking times for dark meat and finicky chicken breasts; instead, I prepared this recipe to feature thighs and drumsticks, so that everything comes together naturally.

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Phew! My summer book release tour is almost over, just one last signing in Destin FL on Thursday with Jennifer Robins, author of Down South Paleo. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been traveling every weekend since June, only to return to work each week. It was a lot of fun to go out and meet so many nice folks, but I’m really looking forward to having a weekend off; I already have a hefty list of new recipes I’d like to tackle!

Since I still have cookbooks on the brain, I wanted to share my take on Chicken Fried Steak; folks who already own my first cookbook, The Ancestral Table, should recognize this recipe.

Also known as Country Fried Steak (or CFS), Chicken Fried Steak is a staple of Southern cuisine in the United States. Since its name stems from the fact that it is prepared like Fried Chicken, this dish is usually associated with Southern cuisine. But it wasn’t born exclusively in the South. German and Austrian immigrants arrived in Texas during the 1800s, and wanted to create one of their favorite foods, Schnitzel, but had a hard time finding pork. Instead, they used beef, since it was in abundance, and CFS as we know it today was born. I love the fact that it’s a mixture of Old World and New World cuisines.

Chicken Fried Steak is a great meal for those on a budget, as cube steak (sometimes called minute steak) is generally easy to find and very cheap. If cube steak is unavailable in your area, you can make your own using thin round steaks and a blade meat tenderizer (also, your local butcher can usually prepare cube steak if you ask nicely).

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