Slow Cooker Tomatillo Pork Shoulder

For approximately a year now, I’ve been volunteering for an amazing organization here in Boulder, called There With Care. There With Care’s mission is to provide a wide range of thoughtful and fundamental services to children and families during the critical phase of a medical crisis. They serve families referred by medical agencies, by building a network of services and people who ease the burden of life’s day-to-day obligations with compassion and care. I have been working on There With Care’s Team Chop, where we prep simple, healthy, and easy to cook CrockPot meals for each of the families. It has been an amazing organization to work for. We have an incredile team of people on our team, dedicating their time once a week to help eleviate some of the burden these families are facing.

So, after a year of working with Team Chop, I finally bought myself a slow-cooker (CrockPot). It has been fun experimenting with some new recipes. One of which was another creation by my foodie-17-year-old. Takes a total of 10 minutes to prep, and has very few ingredients. I hope you enjoy this as much as we did.

Ingredients:

  • 3 lb pork shoulder
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 8 tomatillos – quartered
  • 2 jalapenos – (remove seeds for less spice – chop into large chunks)
  • 1 onion – large chunks
  • 4 garlic cloves – quartered
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the pork shoulder into 1 inch pieces, sprinkle with salt and pepper. In an iron skillet on high heat, add 1 tbsp of butter and add half of the pork, making sure not to crowd the pan.  Braise each piece so they are nice and brown, and crispy. Repeat with the second batch of meat. Set aside. Meanwhile, toss the tomatillos, jalapenos, onion, and garlic in the oil. Salt, then place onto a baking sheet and roast them, until they start to brown slightly, apprximately 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and place ingredients into a food processor or blender. Salt to taste. Place the meat into the crockpot and pour the pureed mixture ontop. Cook on low heat for 6 hours. Serve with rice, and black beans with sour cream.

Seared Tuna with Wasabi Crème Fraîche and Ginger Soy reduction

seared Tuna with Creme fraische
I cherish every minute I get to spend with my 17-year-old son, especially in the kitchen. He is so brutally honest when it comes to critiquing my food that it has made me a better cook. (He actually could be an amazing professional food critic). I have to credit him with this creation, I was just the executor! Searing the tuna took about 6 minutes, but the prep for the sauces was a little more labor intensive. Be sure to let the fish sit out at room temperature for about an hour, as you will only be searing the outside of the fish, inside will remain rare, and you don’t want the inside of the fish to be cold.

Ingredients for Soy Reduction:

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp of rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp chopped garlic
  • 2 tsp chopped ginger

Ingredients for Wasabi Crème Fraîche:

  • 1 cup Crème Fraîche
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 3 tsp wasabi paste (use less if you do not want it too spicy)
  • salt to taste

Ingredients for Tuna:

  • 2 tbsp of toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp of chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp of pureed ginger
  • 4 – 6 oz pieces of Tuna
  • salt

Directions for Soy Reduction:

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan, medium heat, cook down until sauce reduces it becomes thick and syrupy. Prior to pouring, strain through a sieve to remove the chunks of garlic and ginger. Pour over seared tuna.

Directions for Crème Fraîche:

Stir the Crème Fraîche together with the sour cream and salt. Add in the wasabi, one teaspoon at a time, until you’ve reached your desired potency. Spoon onto each plate. Place tuna on top of the wasabi cream.

Directions for Tuna:

Using an iron skillet, heat the oil, garlic, and ginger on medium heat. Saute until garlic is cooked, but not browned. Remove garlic and ginger with a slotted spoon, leaving any remaining oil in the pan. Increase the heat to high and add the tuna, searing each side. Once you all sides are browned, remove the fish and place onto the wasabi cream, then drizzle the soy reduction, and garnish with cooked garlic and ginger. Serves 4 people. Paired nicely with sushi rice.

Fried Trout with Brown Sage Butter and Capers

Fried Trout

This is probably not the lightest dish! But the infamous “they” said that fish has a high water content and when you fry it in oil, the fish itself does not absorb the oil, so if you put that delicious crispy skin aside, you can actually still have a healthy meal. ;-). Trout is a great local fish that we find often at the markets in Colorado. The trout is brought in fresh, and you can sure taste the difference!
This was another inspiration from my favorite guide – “The Flavor Bible“, pairing the fresh trout with butter, sage, capers and lemon. It’s actually super fast and easy to cook!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup organic canola oil
  • 3 whole trout
  • 1/2 cup flour for dredging
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 20 sprigs of fresh sage
  • 3 tbsp of capers
  • rock salt
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped Italian parsley
  • lemon as needed

Directions:

Sprinkle rock salt on the inside and outside of the fish. In a large deep skillet, add the oil to medium-high heat. Pat the capers dry and add to the oil.  Once the capers pop, you can remove them with a sieve and place onto a paper towel to drain some of the oil. Dredge the fish in the flour, then place the fish into the oil. Cook for 3-5 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan add the butter to medium high heat. Once hot and bubbling, add in the sage leaves. Cook until sage becomes crispy and the butter turns brown. Make sure not to burn the butter. Remove the fish and place onto a platter. Pour the sage butter onto fish and sprinkle with the parsley. Serve with lemon wedges. This served 5 hungry adults. Also served with the side dish of Haricot Vert (with Almonds and Parmesan).

Haricots Vert (French Green Beans), Almonds and Parmesan

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Haricot Vert are a thinner and smaller version of the standard American green beans. I cooked these last night as a side dish to my fried trout with brown sage butter (I’ll post that recipe tomorrow). The flavor combinations came from the “affinities” listed in my go-to “Flavor Bible“, pretty much my inspiration for a majority of these recipes. For a Paleo version, just omit the Parmesan cheese.

Ingredients: 

  • 3 cups of haricot vert
  • salt for water
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • salt to taste

Directions:

Boil 5 cups of salted water in a medium sized saucepan. Add in haricot vert and blanch them for about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside. In a large skillet on medium-high heat, melt the butter, add in the garlic, and saute for 2 minutes. Add in the haricot vert, stir frequently. After 5 minutes add in the almonds and saute until beans are tender.  Remove from heat, and sprinkle the beans with parmesan cheese. Serves 4

Channa Dal (Dahl)

Channa Dal

It’s finally winter, and I really wanted to something that was hearty, healthy and warm. It’s been years since I’ve made this Ayurvedic dal (Dahl), but it has always been one of my favorite dishes. I learned this recipe over 18 years ago when my husband and I visited the Deepak Chopra Center in La Jolla, Ca. We stayed there for a week and attended spiritual classes, yoga classes, daily massage treatments, and Ayurvedic cooking classes, and even had a chance to meet Deepak in person! A truly “life-changing” experience! The recipe we made at the Center was a mung Dal, but I could only find Chana Dal at my local grocer. Channa Dal is a small relative of the chickpea and has a yellowish color. Its flavor is slightly sweet. If you can’t find channa dal use yellow mung dal, or yellow split peas. In preparing Dal, it is important to soften it well and cook it long enough so that it takes on a creamy consistency. ( I ended up soaking mine for 2 hours, then cooking for 2 more hours).

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dry Chana Dal
  • 5 cups water
  • 2 tbsp Ghee (Clarified Butter)
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped yellow onions
  • 2 tbsp of minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp pureed ginger
  • 2 tsp of mustard seed
  • 2 tsp of coriander
  • 1 tsp of turmeric
  • 1 tsp of cumin
  • salt to taste
  • a sprinkle of asafoetida (helps with digestion) – get online or Indian Market
  • cilantro for garnish

Directions:

Wash Chana Dal; drain. Soak in water for 2 hours. Cook Chana dal in water in a medium-sized saucepan covered over medium heat until soft, about 1.5-2 hours, depending on the dal! In a small frying pan heat the ghee and add mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds pop, add in the onions, ginger and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes on medium heat, making sure not to brown the garlic. Add it all of the spices, and stir so the onions are covered. Then add the spice-onion mixture to the chana dal pot and stir. Add salt and asafoetida. Cook for additional 10 minutes. The texture of the dal should be creamy. Serve with a garnish of cilantro. If not concerned about paleo, you can serve with garlic Naan or basmati rice.

Here are some other great resources for Ayurvedic Meals:

“The Ayurvedic Cookbook” – by Amadea Morningstar

“Eat-Taste-Heal: An Ayurvedic Cookbook for Modern Living” – by Thomas Yarema, Daniel Rhoda and Johnny Brannigan

“The Everyday Ayurveda Cookbook: A Seasonal Guide to Eating and Living Well” – by Kate O’Donnell and Cara Brostrom

Moroccan Chicken and Vegetable Stew (Paleo)

paleo moroccan chicken and vegetable stew

After a traditional Thanksgiving weekend, I decided to make some aromatic, and spicy ethnic food. I pulled out a “somewhat Paleo” recipe book, written by Dr. Mark Hyman called “The 10-Day Detox Diet Cookbook“, based on his book “The Blood Sugar Solution“. It’s basically a healthy cookbook with a lot of Paleo recipes. This dish called out to me with all of the aromatic spices, like turmeric, cumin, and coriander. I made some slight modifications and spiced it up a bit. Warning: It did take a while to prep, approximately 40 minutes as I like to chop the ingredient a bit smaller than Dr. Hyman recommended, but was well worth it. I did not include the recommended eggplant, as my husband “claims” that he is allergic to it. (What REALLY happened: when he was in college, after a dinner of eggplant parmesan, and tad too much to drink, he threw up, and now claims it was the eggplant he was allergic to). Ha! Anyway, you can always add one chopped eggplant to this dish. Oh, and this dish is also called “Tagine”. Also, if you want to go vegan, substitute the chicken for firm tofu and reduce cooking time by 15 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp pureed ginger (I use this one)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground ginger (powder)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (use 1/4 tsp for less heat)
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into 1″ pieces and trimmed of fat (if going vegan use firm Tofu)
  • 1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets
  • 10 crimini mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch half circles
  • 2 cups of chicken broth (or vegetable broth is going vegan)
  • 10 grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/4 cup sliced green olives
  • chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

Directions:

In a dutch oven or heavy stock pot (I used a cast iron dutch oven), heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions, garlic, and ginger and saute gently until the onions begin to caramelize, 10-15 minutes. Turn the heat to low, and add 3/4 teaspoon of the salt and all of the dried spices. Saute the spices and onions about 2 minutes. Salt the chicken (or tofu) with the remaining salt, and add to the pot. Turn heat up to medium, and saute for 3 minutes, until all of the chicken (or tofu) is well coated with spices. Add the cauliflower and mushrooms and saute about 5 minutes. Then Add the bell peppers and zucchini, and saute until they soften about 5 minutes. Add the chicken (or vegetable) stock and bring to a simmer. Simmer the stew gently, stirring occasionally, until all of the vegetables are tender and the liquid is thickened and reduce, approximately 15-20 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cook for 1 more minute. Stir in olives. Plate and serve with cilantro garnish. Serves 4

paleo moroccan chicken stew

Balsamic Glazed Pork and Peaches

Pork and Peaches

I’m always trying to find new and different flavors to combine with pork chops, other than the traditional apple. So, I reached for my ever trustworthy and inspirational book, “The Flavor Bible“. It had all of these ingredients listed in the “affinities” section. And I actually did get the thumbs up from my hyper-critical-foodie-son to add it to my blog. Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 4 Pork loin chops
  • 3 organic peaches or 1 bag frozen peaches (thawed), chopped into 1/2″ chunks
  • 12 fresh sage leaves, fried
  • 12 leaves, small slices
  • 2 tbsp of butter (if Paleo and avoiding dairy, use olive oil)
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Drizzle of balsamic reduction (recipe here)
  • salt and pepper to taste

In an iron skillet, on high heat, melt 2 tbsp of butter. Salt pork chops. Add the pork chops and cook 5 minutes on each side until internal temperature reaches 135 degrees. Remove pork chops and let rest. Add in 1 tbsp butter, balsamic vinegar and reduce down, cooking about a minute. Add in the chopped peaches, and sliced sage, stir around to cover and cook until semi-soft, approximately 3 minutes. Remove peaches and place on top of pork chops. Drizzle balsamic reduction over peaches and pork. Add salt and pepper to the dish and place 3 fried sage leaves. Serves 4.

Maple Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Garlic and Bacon

Brussel Sprouts

Brussel sprouts are such a great winter treat, as long as they have a little sweetness, and are super easy to prepare. I love them a little crunchy which a touch of garlic. And as we all know, EVERYTHING is better with Bacon!!!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. I like to cook the chopped bacon in a small saucepan until crispy, drain them on a paper towel, then reserve the bacon grease. Toss the Brussel sprouts with the bacon grease, olive oil, maple syrup, salt, and garlic. Put the mixture onto the baking dish and spread out evenly. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes. Add the bacon, toss, and bake for another 2 minutes. Your Brussel sprouts should be tender and should have some crispy leaves.

Paleo Turkey Lettuce Wraps (AKA Turkey Larb)

Turkey Lettuce wraps

Here is a great light Thai inspired dish that I have made numerous times! And falls into the Paleo category. I have been trying to find other alternative recipes  to red meat (beef), and honestly after watching “CowSpiracy” I have been avoiding red meat about 95% of the time. That movie was such an eye-opener! Surprisingly, Leonardo DiCaprio was the executive producer. Anyway, hope you enjoy this simple light recipe, it was inspired by a recipe I found in Women’s Health Magazine back in 2012.

Ingredients:

  • ⅓ cup fresh lime juice
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp organic canola oil
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • 3 small shallots, diced
  • 1 piece of lemongrass (4″ long) minced
  • 1 Thai or Serrano chili, stemmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 lb of 99% fat-free ground turkey
  • 2 tbsp of sriracha (optional for a bit more “kick”)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1 head of organic butter lettuce

Directions:

  • In a bowl, whisk lime juice, lemon juice, fish sauce, and honey.
  • In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, shallots, lemongrass, and chili. Cook until vegetables begin to soften, approximately 5 minutes.
  • Add turkey to skillet and Siracha. Season with salt. Cook, stirring frequently and making sure turkey does not stay in large chunks. Cook until meat and vegetables are cooked through, approximately 5 minutes.
  • Add dressing to the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add mint and season with salt and pepper.
  • Spoon turkey mixture onto lettuce leaves and serve.

Thai lettuce wrap ingredients

Need a little Inspiration for the Holidays?

screen-shot-2016-10-28-at-11-05-50-amWith the holiday season quickly sneaking up on us, I thought I would share one of my essential tools and sources of inspiration in my kitchen. The Flavor Bible has changed my life, the way I cook, how I shop for ingredients and has saved my ass when trying to figure out what to make for our friends and family.

The title: The Flavor Bible, The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America’s Most Imaginative Chefs, by Karen Page and Andrew Dorenburg…really says it all! It is such a brilliantly organized resource which I truly think is essential for anyone who loves to cook. You simply look up any ingredient, (listed in alphabetical order), and it gives you the season, taste, weight, volume and recommended techniques, as well as a which flavors have the strongest affinities for one another. The book is peppered with tips, anecdotes, and signature dishes from the country’s most respected chefs and pastry chefs.

Also a great holiday present for anyone that enjoys spending creative time in the kitchen. (It does not have any recipes, so they should really be comfortable in the kitchen.

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