Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Basil-Onion Chicken Burgers

I am an all-American kind of girl.  I love my burgers and fries. Occasionally I will take one regular french fry off my daughter's plate.  Or if I trust the restaurant, I may order a burger off the menu.  But now I really prefer to make my own burgers for the grill and I prefer sweet potato fries to the regular white, greasy kind. 

Awhile back, we found some good quality ground chicken on sale at our local grocery.  We couldn't pass up the deal.  Then I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with it.  After looking online for ideas, I decided to throw together some chicken burgers with them. 

Oh gosh, these are so good!  You can make them big or small like sliders.  These freeze well too and you can reheat them later for a quick lunch. 

Basil-Onion Chicken Burgers
(Makes 4 patties)

1 pound of ground chicken OR two chicken breasts, boiled and shredded (I have done it both ways!)
1 large egg, whisked (Or use an egg substitute like flax seed or increase the olive oil amount)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp Coconut Aminos (Or if you're not worried about soy, you can use soy sauce or barbecue sauce)
1 Tbsp onion powder
1 Tbsp ground basil leaves
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 to 1/3 cup of coconut flour

In a medium mixing bowl, combine your chicken with the whisked egg, olive oil, Coconut Aminos, onion powder, basil and sea salt.  Blend well.  Form into patties.  I was able to get four nice size ones out of the one pound (or two chicken breasts, boiled and shredded). 

Place them on a flat pan.  Now lightly dust each side of your patties with coconut flour.  Or you can dip them into the coconut flour using a separate bowl.  Start with just 1/4 cup of coconut flour and then add more if you need it. 

Note: You could probably cook the chicken burgers without the flour but I find it (a) gives it a nice flavor and (b) helps keep the burgers together and not falling apart.

Now choose your favorite cooking method for them.  I like to do it in a lightly greased skillet on my stove top for about 7-8 minutes, flip over and then bake in the oven for an additional ten minutes at 375 degrees.  I use a skillet that is safe for the oven.   You can also do it on an outdoor grill or an indoor electronic one.  Watch it carefully.  It should only take 15-20 minutes total to cook your burgers. 

Enjoy!  We love these.  They definitely are served on a once a month basis around our home.

And if you are a burger-lover like I am, check out my other two burger recipes on this site:

Oil and Vinegar Beef Burgers

Skillet Salmon Burgers

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Banana-Berry Cakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

I've been baking and making cakes and treats for the past three weeks in anticipation of my daughter Lana Jane's first birthday (this Saturday, April 27th).  I've made chocolate cake, carrot cake, strawberry cake, a cookie cake and a half-dozen other things.  I have finally narrowed it down to three recipes for the big event.  And no, this isn't one of them. 

Although I decided not to make this particular one for this weekend, this sweet treat is still a keeper and a recipe worth sharing.  I modified it from my own Primal Banana Cake recipe.   This time I left out the coconut sugar, added in berries and made a few other changes.  :-)  Don't you love tweaking your own recipes to come up with something else delicious?  I know I do!

Banana-Berry Cakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
(Makes 10 - 14 cupcakes, depending on how big you make them)

2 eggs
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1/4 cup of olive oil + 1/2 tsp more for greasing pan
4 Tbsp of applesauce
3 bananas, ripened and mashed
1 cup of chopped strawberries (rinsed and stems removed)
2 cups of almond flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
a dash of salt

For the Frosting
8 oz of organic cream cheese, softened or at room temperature
2 Tbsp of Coconut Nectar (or you can use maple syrup or honey)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease your cupcake pan or mini loaves pan with about 1/2 tsp of olive oil. 

In a large bowl, mix the eggs and honey.  Add in the vanilla and almond extract.   Mash your three ripe bananas and throw those in the bowl as well.  Add in your chopped strawberries.   

In that same bowl place the dry ingredients - almond flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  Gently mix until well incorporated. 

Gently pour or scoop into the greased baking pan.  Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

While the cakes are baking, make your frosting.  Simply pull out your standing mixer (or a handheld one is fine). Beat the cream cheese with the 2 Tbsp of coconut nectar (or maple syrup or honey) until it's fluffy and spreadable like frosting, about five minutes.  You can leave it out until the cake has cooled. Or you can place in fridge until you're ready to frost.

Once the cake has cooled, frost them.  If you want to make a good impression, you can top each one with a slice of strawberry.  This is about as fancy as I get!  :-)

If you can't tolerate cream cheese, you can leave off the frosting and still enjoy it.  Or you can experiment with coconut oil or organic palm oil.  The cakes themselves are very soft and melt in your mouth without any topping.  Delicious and moist.  Berries and bananas.  Great combination! 

Baked Cauli-Tater Casserole

I love cauliflower.  It's such a versatile vegetable. 

Versatile Vegetable - try saying that five times in a row without getting tongue-tied!!! 

Anyway, it is true.  Cauliflower can be made into rice.  I've already shared with you how to do that, right here.  It can also be used in place of white potatoes such as in mashed cauliflower. 

Then when I discovered this little gem of a recipe by Love and Primal using cauliflower like a potato loaded with all the fixin's, well I knew I had to try it and give it my own flare that suited my family's needs and allergy concerns. 

Here is my tasty version.  I omitted the buffalo sauce that Love and Primal used since I have kids to feed and they don't do spicy.  I made my own sauce using olive oil, vinegar and coconut aminos.  I cooked the cauliflower different too.  In fact I did everything separate and then put it all together at the end.  Also, my husband is avoiding cheese right now so I put half with cheese on (for me of course!) and half without.  I've made this twice in the last month and everyone loved it!  I think you will too if you give it a try!

Baked Cauli-Tater Casserole
(Serves 4)
Adapted from Love and Primal

2 chicken breasts, cooked - boiled and shredded or cubed
2 bags of frozen cauliflower
5 strips of bacon, cooked using my Perfect Sunday Baked Bacon method
1 tsp onion powder
3/4 tsp sea salt

Sauce for the Cauli-tater:
2/3 cup of olive oil + a little more for greasing pan
1/3 cup of vinegar - I used a combination of apple cider vinegar and balsamic vinegar, mmm! 
6 tsp of Coconut Aminos (a soy sauce replacement.  You can just use soy sauce or BBQ sauce if you're not following a strict diet like us!)

Toppings for the Cauli-tater:
1/2 cup of all natural cheddar or other type cheese, shredded
3/4 cup of chopped green onions
Don't forget to include your bacon too!

Start this dish by cooking your bacon in the oven using my Perfect Sunday Baked Bacon MethodThat takes about 25-30 minutes to bake so you can start the rest of the prep work for this dish. 

Boil your chicken breasts until no longer pink, about ten minutes.  Let it cool for a few minutes before chopping into small pieces or shredding in your food processor.

Cook your cauliflower.  If I'm lazy, I will microwave mine for about ten minutes until tender.  If I am up for it, then I steam it on the stove top for about ten minutes.  Do what works for you! 

While you've got those three prep things going in, you can shred your cheese and cut up your green onions for the toppings.  You can also take out your ingredients to make the sauce. 

When your bacon is done and cooled, tear it into bacon bit size strips.  Try not to eat any right away and save it for the casserole!  :-)

To make the sauce: Place the olive oil, vinegar combination and coconut aminos (or soy sauce or bbq sauce) in a small bowl and mix well together.  That's it.  The sauce is made, congrats!  Set aside until ready to use.

To make the cauli-tater: Place your cooked, drained cauliflower in a large bowl with your cooked, cubed chicken pieces.  Season it with the onion powder and sea salt.

Then spread it into your greased baking dish.  I used a 2.5 QT pan, like this:

Pour your prepared sauce over the chicken and cauliflower.  Mix it around a bit to coat it well. 

Now for the best part.... top it with the bacon bits.  Like this:

Now add your additional toppings, cheese and green onion or whatever you feel like using.  Since my hubby is not currently eating cheese or onions, he didn't get any of that good stuff.  More for me:

Now turn up the oven heat to 400 degrees.  Remember you already preheated the oven because you cooked the bacon at 350.  Place your cauli-tater casserole in there and bake for 30 minutes. 

It will smell so good in the last ten minutes.  Let it cool before you serve and inhale.  You could even add some sour cream to top, making it truly like a loaded spud that you'd get from a restaurant like McAllister's Deli or similar.

However this version will be much healthier for you and won't leave you feeling bloated or heavy.  It has way less carbs and is packed with good nutrients.  (Yes, bacon is good in moderation!)  :-)

So enjoy!  I know we have!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Perfect Sunday Baked Bacon

We love bacon around our house.  Typically we have some on weekends and in an occasional weeknight dish. I call this Perfect Sunday Bacon because we do have a tendency to eat it on Sunday mornings.  Also, the brand we most enjoy is by Applegate Farms and they call it Sunday Bacon

I look forward to this indulgence all week long.  I love it!  And best of all, it's so easy to shove in the oven and forget about it while you get your kids up and ready, enjoy a hot cup of coffee or cook eggs and veggies to go with it.

Perfect Sunday Baked Bacon
(Serves 2)

In a large rectangle or square baking flat pan, place some aluminum foil.  Then spread out 4 to 6 slices of bacon where they don't touch each other on the foiled pan. 

Place it in the oven, not-pre-heated.  Turn on the oven to 350 degrees.  Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes or until desired crispiness. 

Seriously, don't preheat your oven!!!  I've read dozens of reviews on baking bacon that it will cook faster and likely burn it if you do.  So don't worry about that step.  Just throw it in the oven and let that machine do it's magic.  Let it cook and come out like this:

If you want you can blot out the grease from the tops of the bacon with a paper towel.  Or you can be smart and pour the grease into a container and reuse it to cook your veggies with at a later time.  My favorite is to use leftover bacon grease is in mashed cauliflower (instead of white potatoes).  Mmm, mmm!

That's it.  It's done!  Put your hands on it; lift to mouth and savor every crispy bite!   I hope you enjoy some bacon from time to time like we do and don't feel guilty over it. But do read labels carefully and look for Casein free, Gluten free bacon strip options or purchase directly from a reputable butcher if you can!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Oil and Vinegar Burgers

For the past several weeks, I've had to come up with some very allergen-friendly meals my family  can eat.  My husband has been temporarily avoiding eggs, nightshades (like tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc) and other acidic foods to help his stomach heal.  We're already following a Paleo diet (well he's Paleo, I'm Primal since I eat some dairy in moderation) but we already don't eat gluten, grains, sugars, and so on. 

Geez....What can I make?  Thank goodness we both love oil and vinegar.  A few months ago, a wonderful store called The Bodacious Olive opened here in Pensacola where we live that offers infused vinegars and olive oils of all sorts of flavors.  Our favorite savory olive oil is the Tuscan Herb while our favorite sweet one is Blood Orange (which I use in baking cakes, muffins and breads).  Our favorite vinegars are the berry-flavored ones like strawberry and blueberry.  They even have things like chocolate and coffee flavored vinegars.  You can taste test each kind.  It's truly a unique and taste-bud filling experience! 

Thanks to them, and hubby's food aversions, I've been making a lot of oil and vinegar meals.  (And no I'm not receiving any payments to advertise for The Bodacious Olive - I just really like their products!!)  I think I have perfected this burger one using oil and vinegar as the two main ingredients.  I hope you try it and enjoy it as much as we do!

Oil and Vinegar Burgers
(Makes 4 patties)

1 lb of grass-fed beef (or ground chuck or your choice meat)
2 Tbsp of olive oil (I used my Tuscan Herb flavor)
1 Tbsp of vinegar (I used my Blueberry Balsamic Vinegar flavor)
1 Tbsp of onion powder
1/2 Tbsp of ground basil (or other choice seasoning)
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly grease a skillet that is oven-safe with olive oil but don't over do it since there is oil and vinegar in your burgers.  Heat stove to medium heat.

Mix all above ingredients into a large bowl.  Blend well and form into four patties. 

Place them in your skillet and cook for 7-8 minutes until brown.  Flip over and cook for another two minutes.  Then place the entire skillet in the oven.  Cook for an additional ten minutes or until your desired style (medium well, well done).

Carefully remove from oven since your whole skillet is hot.  Let it cool for a few minutes before serving.  Enjoy!  You'll be amazed at how well these stick together without any eggs or bread crumbs.  Good stuff!  

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Nutty Bread

When you follow a Primal or Paleo lifestyle, you typically go through periods where you miss bread and grains.  I remember when we first made the switch to eating this way (May of 2012), I looked up and made a lot of replacment recipes.  Most of them came out awful.  Finally I gave up bread or eating anything like it for a long time.  On rare occasions I eat grains like rice in sushi or a steak bowl at a restaurant.  But 98% of the time, I just don't eat breads or grains and I feel better (and look better) because of that. 

The other day I was reading through this blogger, Satisfying Eats.  I bookmarked her birthday cake recipe to try for my daughter's upcoming first celebration.  I happened to notice her other recipes like this peanut butter bread one.  It looked really good.  She mentioned you could use almond butter which of course is my preference since I avoid peanuts.  I was surprised at how normal tasting the bread looked and tasted.  It didn't have the nutty flavor like other breads I've made in the past.  And it wasn't eggy like some others I have tried.  I liked it a lot and so did my biggest critic, my baby girl (pictured below):

I did modify and double the recipe to make it fit our family needs.  Here is that recipe for you to try.  My kids loved it and it will now be in our rotation for snacks, breakfast and more!

Nutty Bread - makes one large loaf of bread

(My recipe is adapted from the Satisfying Eats version here)

 - 2 cups of almond butter (or use peanut butter or another butter of your choice) - I used half creamy and half nutty since that's what I had on hand.  I think creamy will work better and not make the bread crumble in some areas due to nuts!
- 6 eggs
- 2 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar (or use regular vinegar if that's all you have)
- 1 tsp of baking soda
- olive oil or coconut oil for greasing

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a standard bread loaf pan (9" x 5" x 3" size or 2 lb pan) with olive oil or coconut oil.  Set aside. 

Place your nut butter, eggs, apple cider vinegar and baking soda in a standing mixer. 

Blend until smooth, about 2 minutes.  It will look and feel creamy, like this:

If you don't have a standing mixer, whisk until your arms hurt in a large bowl. 

Pour into the greased bread pan.  Mine poured (and didn't have to be scooped) because it was such a smooth liquid form. 

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick or fork can be inserted cleanly into the bread. 

Let it cool for at least a half hour if you can before slicing.  I sliced mine into 14 pieces.  You could go larger or smaller. 

Mmmm, mmmm!  Good stuff here!  And very filling with all that protein from the nuts and eggs.  Thanks Satisfying Eats for restoring an occasional enjoyment back into our diet!

Banana Facial? Food for your Face!

Do you put food on your face?  I'm new to this but the more I read and learn, the more I find that people are putting real foods on their face to heal it, nourish it and make it more beautiful.  It seems silly at first but think it over.... what you put into your body should be able to go onto your body as well.

Even though this is a recipe/food blog, I thought I'd share with you the crazy fact that I gave myself a food facial the other day.   My skin actually felt better too.  

Why did I do it?  Well, over the weekend, my face became red and itchy all of a sudden.  It seemed as if I had a small allergic reaction to something I ate (too much chocolate birthday cake I was baking for my daughter) or something environmentally I was exposed to (grass, pollen or something else).   I may never know what caused it but I do know it was driving me crazy.  I wanted to claw my face off it became so itchy.  Luckily the redness went away after a day but the itchiness stayed for three days.  Finally on day three, I took action.  I found a few natural beauty articles about putting banana on your face and I thought....heck, why not?!  I didn't want to use egg or honey.  That seemed too messy.  We always have a lot of bananas in our house.  My husband eats 2-3 a day.  So here's what I did.

Banana Facial
(For one)

All you need is the following:
 - 1/2 banana - not too ripe and not too green (Just eat the other half or share with your kids like I did!)
- A mirror for applying the banana
- And a sense of humor while you apply it to your face  :-)

Just mash up the half a banana in small bowl.  It's okay if there are a few chunks.  That will just make you want to lick your face and give you more to laugh at when you look at yourself in the mirror.

Apply the banana directly to your clean, dry skin.  I applied mine to my face and neck because that was where my skin was itchy.  Now prepare yourself - You will look like a scary monster, like me:

Okay, how about I take this seriously now. 

Is that better?

Now leave the banana on your face for 15-20 minutes.  I laid down on my bed and watched TV for just under 20 minutes while enjoying the tingling, cool and great-smelling flavor of the banana all over my face and neck. 

Wash it away with cool water and wipe away with a cotton pad.  Don't rub.  Just pat, especially if you're doing this for dry, itchy reasons like me. 

There we go!  Still a tiny bit scary but at least my skin isn't itchy and as dry anymore.  The banana really did make my skin feel better.  I think it gave me a small glow too.  For more interesting facts about how a banana can be good for your face (all the vitamins it offers you!) and other banana-related facial news, visit here: http://www.natural-homeremedies-for-life.com/banana-facial.html

Enjoy!  Go Bananas (and nuts)!