I really embraced my creativity and have come into my own after several years of learning to cook. This has been one of the most enjoyable and delectable segments of my health transformation.
As a kid I spent most of my time in the garage tinkering on cars with my Dad rather than watching my Mom do her thing in the kitchen. I suppose it wouldn’t surprise any of you that I was a bit of a tomboy. I didn’t learn to cook until well into my 30’s. My health issues gave me this new found passion for the kitchen, I looked at my disease as an opportunity to grow in many ways. This was by far one of the most rewarding of all.
I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then I just ate.
I have been promising a top recipe post for some time now. It is difficult for me to write actual recipes because for the most part I make it up as I go. After a couple years of this I feel confident that I have unique delectable dishes worth sharing! I also buy seasonal ingredients but the majority of the basics I use are the same. This will make it super easy to make many different variations using similar ingredients. That simplicity was the final piece to being able to confidently put this post out there.
Before we begin I want to share the culinary items I keep on hand as my ‘basic cooking kit’ at all times. This keeps it simple, allows me to use seasonal ingredients to add to my base recipes and gives me the tools I need to switch things up easily while keeping things interesting.
The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.
MY FAVORITE TOOLS:
I purchased both of these life changing devices at Sur La Table making the possibilities of what to do with veggies and potatoes endless. This link has the specifics. I have used these both many times for well over a year and LOVE them.
COOKING OILS & FATS:
I use 4 kinds of oils/fats. Healthy fat is the largest, MOST IMPORTANT part of my diet and the most flavorful!
- Coconut Oil: I use this for just about EVERYTHING. To cook, fry, bake, even whiten my teeth! I buy it by the gallon! It holds up really well under heat and doesn’t change in chemistry like olive oil does when heated.
- Avocado Oil: I use this a bit more sparingly. Trying to keep up with my Omega 3 intake I prefer Coconut Oil but this oil handles itself very well up to 500 degree F
- Duck Fat: Need I say more? YUM!!!!
- Olive Oil: I use this only as a room temperature drizzle. Olive oil changes form as you heat it, making it not nearly as beneficial from a healthy fat perspective. I buy local olive oil from Queen Creek Olive Mill and they have some amazing oils, even BACON olive oil!! They also carry a wide array of balsamic vinaigrette’s. This is all I use for salad dressings.
I have an admission to make. I have a complete love affair with Penzey’s Spice Company. They have the widest and most affordable array of spices and herbs, they clearly list the ingredients on the label (no hidden soy, sugar or other junk) and have just about combo you can imagine. I use their combos in 90% of what I cook. I buy the small glass jars then the bulk to refill them.
- Chili Con Carne
- Black & Red
- Tuscan Sunset
- Sunny Spain
- Herbes De Provence
- Fox Point
- Minced Garlic
- Crushed Jalapeno
Grassfed, free range, sustainably caught. It’s all here.
- 15% fat grassfed ground beef
- Grassfed top sirloin
- Canned crab meat (king legs or claw meat)
- Canned Ahi tuna from Especial Tuna
- Sockeye salmon
- Uncured bacon (Applegate Farms)
- Uncured pepperoni (Applegate Farms)
- Uncured panchetta
- Mary’s Free Range Chicken
- Free range eggs
- Free range pork shoulder
You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients.
VEGETABLES, FRUITS, NUTS AND TUBERS:
I buy many things on a seasonal basis but this list is my go to for the majority of the year.
- Tomatoes (fresh and sundried)
- Onions of all kinds
- Cabbage of all kinds
- Pine nuts
- Sweet Potato/Yams
I keep these things on hand for just about everything
- Dark chocolate (75% cocoa at least)
- Coconut flour
- Almond meal
- Vanilla extract
- Almond extract
- Apple cider vinegar
- Coconut milk
- Goat cheese (sparingly)
There you have it! With this list I can make a zillion combinations of some seriously delectable yet simple dishes. My hopes here are that you too can find your basic list and become confident at creating your own masterpieces- then be sure to share the love with me too!!
For the recipes I won’t go into the details of how many it serves and measurements for spices unless it is a baking dish. Each palette likes more or less spice, more or less lemon, more or less bacon (OK ALWAYS MORE BACON). The funnest part of cooking is taste testing along the way. You can decide if you need to add more of anything depending on your personal tastes. I feel any recipe should be made your own and used only as a guideline for your own creations!
“Once you have mastered a technique, you barely have to look at a recipe again”
I LOVE tapas and considering I was married in the tapas capital of the world, San Sebastian, my favorite way to eat is like the Spaniards do!
Pepperoni Pizza Bites with Wasabi Mint Goat Cheese Watermelon Bites
Since pizza of any kind (even gluten free) contains grains these bites make up for that missed life we used to lead where pizza was king! This is a recipe I found and fine tuned it to my own liking.
- Applegate Farms pepperoni slices
- Organic sugar free pizza sauce (I use Organicville)
- Sundried Tomato
- Bell Pepper
- Tuscan Sunset seasoning from Penzey’s (basil, oregano, garlic, bell pepper, black pepper, fennel)
- Other favorite pizza toppings you love!
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Place pepperoni on baking sheet without toppings and place in oven cook for 7 minutes on one side then flip them and cook the other side
- Chop all ingredients while the pepperoni is cooking
- Remove the pepperoni from the oven and place topping on the slices
- Bake for another 12-15 minutes or until crispy
I tried something similar at a fabulous Cuban fusion restaurant in Las Vegas. This was my successful attempt at recreating it.
- Small seedless watermelon
- Powdered or fresh wasabi
- Fresh mint leaves
- Honey goat cheese
- Cut watermelon into bite sized chunks
- Crumble goat cheese on top
- Mix wasabi powder with water and crumble paste on top
- Place a couple leaves of mint on each chunk
Crab Avocado Bites with Sesame and Pomegranate
These are AWESOME. I stumbled upon them by having only scraps of cabbage left in the fridge.
Necessity is the mother of invention
- King crab claw or legs
- Red cabbage
- Fresh Lemon
- Meyer Lemon Olive Oil
- Fig Balsamic
- Sunny Spain seasoning from Penzey’s (black pepper, citric acid, lemon peel, garlic, onion)
- Sesame seeds
- Combine crab, fresh lemon and spices in a bowl, mix and put in the fridge to marinate for 10 minutes
- Slice avocado and de-seed a pomegranate THIS LINK shows a very clever way to do this
- Tear raw cabbage into bite sized cups and place crab mix in them
- Sprinkle the top with avocado, pomegranate, olive oil, fig balsamic and sesame seeds
Pomegranate Fig Ahi with Arugula and Walnut
Another variation using many of the similar ingredients from the recipe above is used in this salad packed with protein and antioxidants. I made this the following day using the leftover pomegranate and avocado.
- Fresh Fig
- Ahi Tuna (I use Especial Tuna as mentioned above)
- Meyer Lemon Olive Oil
- Fig Balsamic
- Himalayan Sea Salt
Cut, drizzle, toss, enjoy and share only if you want to, I didn’t!
Chili Con Carne Stuffed Ancho Pepper with Fig
I use 15% grassfed ground beef more than anything else in my kitchen. It is incredibly versatile, nutritious, affordable, and always delicious. It takes on the flavor of anything you need it to, it is like the tofu of meats (gross!) lol
- 2lbs grassfed 15% fat ground beef
- Chili Con Carne seasoning from Penzey’s (ancho chili pepper, tomato powder, ground cumin, oregano, garlic, coriander, onion, bell pepper, black pepper, allspice, cilantro, cloves)
- Chopped garlic
- 4 raw ancho chili peppers
- Dried fig
- Coconut Oil
- Heat enough coconut oil to coat a large pan, add bacon and garlic until garlic becomes toasted
- Add the 2lbs of ground beef to the pan along with the Chili Con Carne spices and cook until the meat is browned
- Turn on the grill to a medium heat
- Add walnut, sliced fig and spinach to the meat mixture then simmer for 5 minutes
- Cut off the tops and clean the seeds out of the ancho chili’s
- Pull the meat off the heat and stuff it into the cleaned out peppers
- Place it on the grill and carefully roast the pepper with the stuffing inside until it blisters
WAIT! What do I do with all the extra meat?? How about some jicama tostadas! Peel a medium to small sized jicama (small enough to fit on the mandolin slicer) and slice medium to thin slices to make a great tostada. Put the meat on the top, add some avocado and salsa. Arriba!!
BRUNCH and DINNER!
Brunch is my second favorite style of eating behind tapas. I LOVE just about everything that brunch entails. Big bold flavors, all of the best parts of every meal on one plate. Brunch breaks the rules. I love rule breakers, they are delectable and refreshing. These are such rule breakers they could also be called dinner!
Meyer Lemon Jalapeno Crab Cakes with Caviar
This is the dish my Mom asked me to make her for Mother’s Day last year. Just the fact that my Mom actually asked me to cook for her is a news worthy event of it’s own but pair it with a special day like Mother’s Day and I know my cooking chops have come a long LONG way!
- 3lbs lump king crab meat
- Almond flour
- Salmon roe caviar
- Fresh lemon
- Cabbage or Spinach (I sneak these two in just about everything)
- Crushed Jalapeno
- 2 medium eggs
- Coconut oil
- Lemon Olive Oil
- White onion
- Minced Garlic
- Sea Salt
- Avocado (I always add several fats to any seafood dish to keep myself satiated so I don’t devour 3lbs of crab myself, not like that hasn’t happened anyway!!)
- Mix crab, lemon, eggs, chopped spinach or cabbage, spices and olive oil together in a bowl
- Add almond flour to the crab mixture until the texture is firm enough to make patties
- Heat coconut oil in large pan over medium/high heat enough to generously coat the whole pan
- Drop sculpted patties into the coconut oil and fry them until they are browned on both sides. Cover for 3-5 minutes then remove from heat
- Plate them on fresh spinach along with the avocado and sprinkle with the caviar then give them a squeeze of fresh lemon
Cast Iron Top Sirloin with Sweet Potato and Purple Yam Hash
Shopping for seasonal ingredients allows for some exciting surprises at the grocer. Purple yams were in season livening up a traditional hash recipe. Mother Nature sure knows how to keep things interesting!
- 2lb grassfed top sirloin steak
- 2 red yams
- 2 sweet potatoes
- Duck fat
- Chopped onion
- Minced garlic
- Sea Salt
- Season the top sirloin with sea salt and pepper 20 minutes before you plan to cook it and leave it in room temperature during that time to tenderize it
- Heat a cast iron skillet or pan to medium high heat for the sirloin
- Heat the duck fat in a different large pan until it melts and coats the entire pan then add the panchetta and chopped onion
- Julianne the sweet potatoes and purple yams with a mandolin or knife (if you can use a knife you got skills!!)
- Place the sirloin on the skillet and cook both sides over med-high heat to 130 degrees for a medium rare steak
- Place the sweet potatoes and purple yams in the pan with the duck fat and add a few dashes of cinnamon and nutmeg
- Take the steak off the skillet and allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing. I always have a hard time finding the grain for the correct way to slice the meat. This is a link with some handy info on how to not ruin a beautiful hunk like this sirloin!
- You could add a couple fried eggs to this too cooked in the leftover duckfat!
Yam Pasta with Fig, Roasted Pinon and Goat Cheese
I first made this recipe and adjusted after seeing it on another great Paleo cooking blog. I turned it into my own, then took it one step further by adding a cedarplanked salmon to it. This dish is how I know I have arrived!
- 4 medium sized yams or sweet potatoes (medium size fits the spiralizer best)
- Dried figs sliced (cherries would be excellent too)
- Sundried tomatoes sliced
- Duck fat
- Goat cheese
- Spiralize potatoes of choice and set aside
- Melt plenty of duck fat to generously coat the bottom of a large pan then add the panchetta, raw pine nuts, sun dried tomatoes and figs to roast them lightly 7-9 minutes
- Add the spiralized potatoes then saute for another 5-8 minutes
- Plate then sprinkle fresh goat cheese on top
I did another variation of this by adding cedar planked salmon to the dish- SO SO GOOD with the pinon nuts and cedarwood flavors
For desserts usually some fresh fruit drizzled with honey and some dark chocolate is more than enough to get my sweet tooth satisfied but this recipe for scones has become a favorite. I love scones due to their texture and that they are more reminiscent of a savory bisquit than a sweet cookie.
Banana Almond Vanilla Scones with Cocoa Chunks
- 2 whole bananas cut into bits
- 1 1/4 cup coconut flour
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 3/4 cup raw local honey
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 3/4 cups 70% dark or higher cocoa chunks (I like Theo bars and cut them into large chunks, you can pick many combos)
- Preheat your oven to 325 F
- Place coconut flour, sea salt, coconut oil, banana, cocoa chunks and raisins into a bowl and mix well with a mixer or by hand
- Place honey, eggs, almond and vanilla in a seperate bowl and mix well
- Add your wet ingredients to your dry, mix them together well and form them into biscuits on a cake sheet pan (If mixture is too wet add more coconut flour until it is like a biscuit batter)
- Bake for 25-35 minutes on middle rack until the tops brown. Drizzle honey on top and serve
There you have it! The promised recipes from the many posts on Facebook that you all have been tortured by for months with nothing but a vague explanation. Now I am the tortured one with nothing made and a mouth full of drool from writing up all these recipes! That is what we call karma… and it is well deserved 🙂 ENJOY!!
Cooking is like painting or writing a song. Just as there are only so many notes and colors, there are only so many flavors – it’s how you combine them that sets you apart