corned beef, cabbage and pumpkin bolognese random cooking day

29 Mar

photo 5This last Sunday, St. Patrick’s Day, I decided to make one of my FAVORITE meals, corned beef and cabbage. I love St. Patrick’s Day! Green EVERYTHING. Green beer, green clothes, whiskey, people out having fun, it’s a really great holiday! It’s particularly fun in Chicago. On St. Patrick’s Day here, EVERYTHING and it’s mother is green. AMAZING. Seriously amazing….except the green beer, which if you’re like me and gluten and food coloring bother you, you end up puking on the side of a dumpster in the middle of the day….whoopsies!

I also, then decided to clean out my fridge and pantry, in some ways, and made pumpkin bolognese. For some god awful reason I bought a ridiculous amount of ground beef when it was on sale sometime ago and froze it. Like an ENTIRE freezer of ground beef. I don’t even like ground beef that much haha! So I had to find a way to use it! So….we have Irish and Italian here, best of both yummy worlds if you ask me.

FYI – If more of you lovely readers could spread my blog around (the earlier ones are WAY funnier), that would be great! I’m hoping to become rich and famous off of it so I can quit grad school. HAHA!

CORNED BEEF AND CABBAGE

Ingredients:

  • 1 giant slab of corned beef, you can use your discretion here on how big you want it
  • 2 quarts of chicken or vegetable stock
  • 4 or more stalks of celery
  • 12 whole carrots (or whatever comes in 2 bags of carrots, you can also use a large bag of baby carrots)
  • 1 bag of red skinned potatoes
  • lovely whole grain mustard
  • 1 handful of while peppercorns
  • 1 stick of butter
  • kosher or sea salt and pepper

In a giant stockpot, put your celery stalks, 4 potatoes from your bag, cut into quarters, and about a handful or two of carrots, or if you are using wholephoto 1 carrots, cut them into 4 inch chunks; then add your corned beef in on top of your veg. Add your pepper corns, and one tablespoon of the whole grain mustard and cover with the 2 quarts of stock. Bring to a boil. Once at a rolling boil, turn the heat down to low. Cook for 4.5 hours. Once the meat feels tender and almost fork-pull-apartable (YES, that is a valid term, thank you very much), quarter the rest of your potatoes, cut the rest of your carrots, and quarter your head of cabbage. Add all those amazing veggies in and cover with water (the stock won’t be enough to cover all of these veggies). Cook for another hour to an hour and a half.

Next. Heat your oven broiler to high. Pull everything out and put it on a sheet pan. Yea, this is where the good part happens. Take all those veggies and the corned beef out and place on the sheet pan. Cut pats of butter and put them on the veggies, then put a nice, thick slathering of the whole grain mustard on the top of it. Put the veggies and corned beef under the broiler. The butter will melt into the veggies and the mustard will crust and seal into the beef. This doesn’t take long so watch it. Pull the sheet pan out, dust the veggies with sea salt and pepper. SERVE UP and enjoy the yumminess!

PUMPKIN BOLOGNESE

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon olive or coconut oil
  • one large white onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 can of organic pumpkin puree, or make your own
  • 1 large large large, or 2 small, cans of diced tomatoes
  • 1 can of tomato puree, or puree your own tomatoes in your food processor!
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • salt to taste
  • a large bunch of fresh basil, chiffonade that stuff!

photo 3NOTE: If you do not know how to chiffonade herbs, I have a video on my first blog post back in August. But, also, below, at the bottom,  is a lovely blog post by The Pioneer Woman, she knows what’s up! WATCH it! East peasy, lemon squeezy.

Take your lovely large stock pot and heat it up. Add the tablespoon of olive oil. Heat that up. Add your onions and cook until translucent. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Next, add your garlic, cook it down a d bit and add the ground beef. Cook the ground beef and continuously scrape down your pan to get all of those lovely brown bits on the bottom.

Next, add your pumpkin and tomatoes, a pinch of salt, black pepper, chili flakes and oregano. photo 4Let this cook down together for about 15 minutes. While this cooks, chiffonade your basil. Add your basil and mix in thoroughly. Let this cook down again for ten minutes. Next, taste it and add salt and more pepper to taste. Let it cook about 10 more minutes.

Serve over your favorite gluten free pasta, zucchini noodles, or spaghetti squash and ENJOY! Also….you could chop zucchini and add that to this sauce too, that would be lovely! So would spinach!

http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2008/09/how-tochiffonade-basil/

sweet potatoes and the sweet life

13 Mar

72311_508145305898207_447231074_n I need to be better about this blog writing! Thank goodness I am back to cooking again. I semi-fell off  the wagon, but dude, grad school is literally killing me this semester. AND NOW – I have people to cook for! New roommate, new friends, lots of new and lovely things that just add sparkle to my life like my old friends do. Its crazy how things change in a matter of months. Life is funny that way, and amazing.

I really should have put this on the food blog…so many people are asking. I also made it the other day and added bacon, SO MUCH BETTER with bacon! You can make this for one person, I do it all the time lately. Just use less kale and like 1-2 slices bacon and less goat cheese…clearly.

ROASTED SWEET POTATO WITH KALE, BACON, GRAPES AND GOAT CHEVRE
Ingredients:
  • one large bunch kale, rib stems removed
  • 6 slices (per potato) of bacon
  • 1 cup goat cheese, crumbled
  • 4 sweet potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil to drizzle
  • one bunch red grapes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drizzle sweet potatoes and rub the oil in. Prick them with a fork. Wrap them in tin foil and place n the oven. They should bake for about an hour until soft and bubbly. You also could cut that time and use the microwave for 7 minutes for each sweet potato, but you can judge by how soft they are. You want them nice and soft. While the sweet potatoes are cooking, wash your grapes and drizzle them with olive oil, and salt. Coat them all evenly and spread on a cookie sheet. Roast the grapes until they burst and ooze, they will turn a little brown as well. Take the grapes out and let them cool; it takes about 20 minutes for them to roast. OH, and for the bacon….there is some amazing bacon out there. At Whole Foods, the SUPER thick, smoked, pepper, applewood smoked bacon with no nitrates is seriously to die for. I mean any bacon super thick cut that is applewood smoked basically is. Try it! It’s so meaty, it’s delicious. Next, chop your bacon into cubes. Add to a hot pan and cook thoroughly until all that lovely fat comes out. Add your kale, a little pepper, and your balsamic
554869_510464205666317_792789098_nvinegar. Sautee until the kale is just bright green, cooked and still has some bite. Now, take your sweet potatoes and remove the skin. Mash them in a bowl with a little pepper. Plate them with goat cheese on top, then the kale and bacon and then the grapes. DELICIOUS! The bacon adds a lovely saltiness to the sweet and gives you some good protein! This also would be good with Greek yogurt instead of goat cheese. The tang really adds something! Enjoy!

it’s been awhile. eat your veggies.

12 Feb

photo 3omg. It’s amazing how much has changed since my last post. I mean…it’s clearly been like 3 months. I have NOT been on top of this whole blogging thing, sorry dudes! A lot has happened in my life over the last 3 months and all for the better! It’s amazing how when you think one massively crazy big change in your life is detrimental, that it isn’t and it can actually open up the door to new experiences, new people, and finding your happiness again. Life is crazy that way. I am pretty happy with the way my life has been going (but don’t tell anyone that ha!). I feel like I am myself again. I’ve met a lot of people in my life lately that have opened all kinds of doors for me and have made me come out of my shell, in more ways than one, and that’s extremely important. I may be extremely hard on myself sometimes, but you have to feel special, wanted, pretty, important, and inspired in this life and sometimes it takes meeting new people and changing parts of your life for the better! Let’s hope this trend continues and I eventually arrive to having what I want in life.

Speaking of crazy, I can’t believe this Disney 1/2 Marathon that I am doing is in a week and a half! I leave for Florida in ONE week from tomorrow! It seems crazy that I have been training so hard for this thing and here it is! Running is a metaphor for a lot of things in life and I’m a runner. In every sense of the word. I will put myself out there and put my heart out there, go after what I want and love everyone on this earth, but when it comes down to it, I’m a runner. I run when I need a break, when I need to trim up, when I need time to think, when I need to literally RUN from something, it’s amazing how one little word, running, can mean so much to one person. I use running for everything.

photo 2Speaking of running, since I’ve been running, my diet has changed significantly. I mean don’t get me wrong, I definitely indulged in some completely bad for you hot wings during the Superbowl, among some other crappy food I’m sure, but it was totally worth it. You only live once. Cheesy, but so dang true! I’ve been trying to be smarter about my diet and thankfully, the people I work for have not only jumped on the kale wagon (thank GOD, I mean my work there is clearly done now), but have given into my “eat your veggies” mantra. They are who inspired me to make such a simple recipe tonight because it was not only easy, but seriously tasty!

PORTABELLO MUSHROOM FAJITAS

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of organic, sliced, cleaned portabello mushroom slices
  • 1 red bell pepper and 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 white onion
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • taco seasoning (Penzey’s is the best, but whatever you have will do)
  • arugula
  • good quality sour cream or greek yogurt
  • organic corn tortillas (which are generally gluten free)

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. On a sheet pan, toss your mushroom slices in the olive oil, a sprinkle of salt, pepper and a little of the taco seasoning. photo 1Spread them on the sheet pan and toss the in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until they are tender and juicy. Chop your onion and deseed and chop pepper into strips. While the mushrooms cook, toss that amazing coconut oil in your skillet. Add your onions and cook them until slightly soft. Next add your peppers, more salt and pepper to taste and some taco seasoning. I like my onions still a tinge crispy and I REALLY like my peppers crispy so it’s why I don’t add them until the onions are pretty much done cooking. This takes about as much time as the mushrooms do to cook. Next, take out those tortillas, load them with onions, peppers, and top them with the cooked portabello mushrooms. I top mine with arugula, and sour cream or plain greek yogurt. You can add whatever you want. Avocado would be amazing, but I didn’t have any, so…wah, wah, waaahhh….. EAT UP!

sage and thyme

14 Nov

Sage and thyme are probably my favorite herbs. They are amazing and very “fall.” Thanksgiving is coming up next week and I wanted to make something that incorporated my favorite flavors. So I made thyme and sage stuffed chicken breast and a relish/compote to go along with it. Also, a nice and easy recipe for chicken stock. It’s getting to that season where everyone and their mother is sick, so make this, freeze some, use some for soups, stews, whatever have you. It’s really awesome to just make your own stock. It’s full of calcium, vitamins, minerals and lots of good for you yumminess!

Thanksgiving is pretty much the BEST holiday ever. All you do is cook and eat. AND remember what you are thankful for, which for me is so much. How could anyone go wrong, really? This year, I don’t have any Thanksgiving plans. Since my family lives on opposite sides of the country and I’m in grad school, I think it’ll just be me and Dexter Doodles the poodle chilling this year. But don’t worry, I’ll spoil that dog rotten with a Thanksgiving feast. Don’t think that just because it may only be me and the dog that I won’t cook a massive Thanksgiving. If you think that’s the truth, you don’t know me very well! I like cooking big meals, and more importantly, cooking for others. I cook like my Mom. Growing up it was my Mom, my brother and I and she cooked like we were a family of 20! I tend to be the same way. If someone that was cute, could make me laugh and would let me cook for them all the time came around, I’d be a happy girl! (and that boy would be stuffed to the gills with yummy food  haha!) Here’s to cooking!

SAGE AND THYME STUFFED CHICKEN BREAST WITH HERBED COMPOTE

  • 2 large bone-in chicken breasts
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter (yes, 1 stick, deal with it), softened to room temperature
  • 4 stalks of celery
  • 1 onion
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 tablespoon dried sage
  • 10 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1.5 tablespoons fresh sage leaves
  • 4 sage sprigs
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste for chicken

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Take both chicken breasts and reach your hands under the skin to loosen it. Take 2 tablespoons of butter and slide it under the skin, rubbing it into the flesh of the chicken. Salt and pepper your chicken and then slide 2 sage twigs and 5 thyme twigs under the skin. Salt and pepper again in necessary. Do this for both chicken breasts. Drizzle with olive oil and put in the oven. Bake for about 40 minutes or so until the skin is golden brown and then flesh temperature is at 162 degrees. Then let the chicken rest to cook to an even 165 degrees. NOTE: Kerrygold Grass Fed Butter is AWESOME! You can find it even at Trader Joe’s!

While the chicken is cooking, dice your onion and celery. Add 3 tablespoons of butter, or whatever is left from your stick, into a large skillet. Melt the butter and add your veggies. Cook until soft while adding your salt, pepper, fresh thyme, fresh sage, chopped and diced, and your dried sage. Taste to see if you need more seasoning. Add your raisins and cook until warmed through and the veggies are soft. NOTE: This could be an AMAZING start to a cornbread, glutten-free or non-gluten free stuffing of your choice; or gravy for your chicken.

Once your chicken is ready, top with the compote and eat! YUM! I made this with a side of steamed, then roasted, broccoli and candied carrots which are both super easy. For the carrots you peel and dice up your carrots into large chunks. Then you boil them until tender. Drain them and as they drain, take 2 tablespoons of butter, 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1 teaspoon of black pepper and let it all melt into a sauce. Toss your carrots back in and there you go! I used to call this “carrots with chicken juice” when I was a kid for whatever reason so sometimes I make them alongside chicken! For roasted broccoli, you just steam broccoli until it’s nice and bright green, al dente. Then drizzle it with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper on a sheet pan, roast under the broiler until still bright green, but a little crispy and done!

While eating, count what you’re thankful for as well! I am thankful for my friends, my dog, my health, my job, my family, my ability to go back to school, NATURE, trees, gardens, love, and knowing that anything is possible if you set your goals high!

CHICKEN STOCK

  • 1 whole chicken carcass, or whatever bones you have left from roasting bone in chicken breasts
  • lots of water, to cover, depending on the size of your stock pot
  • 1 whole head of garlic
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • sprigs of fresh thyme
  • sprigs of fresh sage
  • 1 onion
  • 4 celery stalks
  • 1/2 bag of baby carrots or whatever carrots you have
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pepper

Roughly chop your veg, so basically, cut your onion in half, your garlic head in half, and your celery stalks in half. Place all of the ingredients listed in a stock pot and cover with water. Place on high to boil, then reduce to a low simmer. Simmer for 8-24 hours (I leave mine on overnight), skimming the fat off the top for the first couple of hours.

Once done, drain through a mesh strainer into another large stock pot or a couple large bowls. Then put in mason jars, or another container, and freeze! You can use this for anything and it’ll have amazing flavor!

garden patch farms and some lovely veg

29 Oct

Went to an absolutely amazing farm last Saturday – Garden Patch Farms in Homer Glen, IL. This place is everything I would ever want in a farm visit. Is it weird to say a farm was dreamy? Because it was.

Garden Patch Farms has pumpkins (yay! We all know my love for pumpkin), gourds and all of the lovely things for Fall, but they also do seasonal things like strawberries, peaches, plums, apples…. you name it, they have it. The BEST part? You get to go out into the fields and pick your own crops! I handpicked kale, swiss chard, turnips, dill, and hot peppers. I then also was able to pick up apples, purple cauliflower, carrots, pickles, fresh eggs from the chickens and other yummy produce from the Farm Market that is adorable! It looks like a little barn and not only has produce, but honey, jams, jellies and sauces. It’s precious. There also are beautiful large mum plants right now that would look amazing on a front porch or deck for the holidays. You also get to talk to Farmer Earl, his grandson, Tony, and anyone else that works on the farm while you’re there. Which makes the experience that much more rich. (Below, at the end of the post is a link to their site.)

The best part was that the food was amazing when I cooked it up at home. As most of you know, food really is the cure to my spirit and imagine having fresh food and being able to pick my own!? I need to live on a farm……no, but seriously. If I could go outside and grab whatever I wanted to make for breakfast, lunch, dinner, I’d be in heaven. That’s what this farm is, heaven. I’ve never been to another farm where you can go and pick your own veggies, and fruits when in season. All of the other pumpkin farms I have been to are super cheesy with the corn mazes and fees to get in and all of that jazz. This is an amazingly simple, fresh, adorable and wonderful place. Next time I go back I may just try and pitch a tent and live in the corn field. Think anyone would notice!!?? HAHA!

From all of this lovely produce, I made a couple things. From the carved pumpkins picked up, I used the seeds to make roasted pumpkin seeds that turned out awesome. For those of you that don’t know the benefits of pumpkin seeds, they are an amazing source of fiber, vitamin E and zinc. They are a great snack by themselves or are awesome sprinkled in oatmeal, on top of pumpkin bread before it bakes, added into pumpkin seed brittle….the possibilities are endless.

ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS WITH TRUFFLE SALT PAPRIKA AND PEPPER

Ingredients

  • 1 lb pumpkin seeds, or whatever you have from your pumpkin you carved and cleaned out
  • 2 tablespoons olive or coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon truffle salt
  • 1 teaspoon spicy paprika
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, fresh ground

First, blast some music. This is fun. Get your dance on while you’re cooking. As in, Luke’s Bryan’s “Country Girl (Shake It).” You know you want to. It’s so much more fun to cook with music. Ok, I know that 1 tablespoon of truffle salt sounds like a lot, and that stuff is seriously expensive, but it’s worth it and a lot of the truffle flavor cooks off when you bake the seeds. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Rinse your seeds and make sure almost all of the pulp is off of them. The easiest way is to dump them all in a colander so you can rinse them and pull the pulp off at once. Some pulp isn’t bad because it adds flavor.

Once they are rinsed, do NOT pat them dry. They will stick to whatever towel you use and then water will dry off in the oven anyways. Add the oil and give them a good stir on a big sheet pan. Next add your truffle salt, paprika and pepper and mix them all together so they are all coated evenly. Pop those puppies in the oven and bake for about a half hour. Keep an eye on them, because they could either roast quickly, or slowly. It depends on your oven. You want them to be crispy and golden brown.

NOTE: Savory doesn’t have to be the way you go. You could add cinnamon and sugar, or any other herb combinations. Truffle salt just seemed like an amazing idea to me!

Next I cooked up some swiss chard. Can you believe this is the first time I’ve ever eaten swiss chard?!? I’m such a kale fanatic, but when I saw these beautiful leaves growing on the farm, I had to grab them and figure out what to do with them! They actually turned out pretty awesome if I do say so myself.

SWISS CHARD WITH PINE NUTS AND CURRANTS

  • 10 large leaves of swiss chard, stems cut from the chard and put aside
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup currants
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Take your currants and put them in a bowl with the hot water. This will help them plump up. Wash and strip your swiss chard of the stems. Chiffonade the leaves by placing them all on top of each other, rolling them like a cigar and chopping them into 1 inch sections. Then, chop the rolled section in half the other way, to split it in half and make more manageable pieces. Next dice the stems into 1/4 inches. They’ll remind you of celery. Turn your large skillet onto medium/high and add your oil. Heat it up, add the stems and garlic. Cook until you can smell the garlic. Add your pine nuts and toast them until golden brown.

Next add your swiss chard and currants. Constantly mix to cook the chard until al dente and heat up the currants and add the balsamic. This should take about 5 minutes or less, depending on how you like your greens. I like mine with some bite, others like them mushier, but mushy sounds pretty yucky if you ask me. After you are done cooking it all together, serve it up and ENJOY! But, please remember, this is not a save and reheat dish, so chow down and get your greens in!

ROASTED TURNIPS AND CARROTS

  • 5 turnips, peeled
  • 8 large carrots, peeled (these were super thick amazingly awesome carrots from the farm)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

So the best part about this is I used the same pan as the pumpkin seeds, unwashed. I thought the little bits of truffle salt left over would be amazing on these!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cut the tops and bottoms off your turnips. Then chop into 1 inch cubes. Do the same with your carrots. Put them on the sheet pan and cover with oil. Mix around so they are fully covered. Next add your salt and pepper and do the same, mix them around. Make sure they are in an even layer and pop in the oven for about 30-45 minutes depending on your oven. You want a nice brown crust and the veg to be cooked through. Once cooked, turn your broiler on high to get a crispy crust on the veggies. Broil them until a nice crunchy brown color is on top. Salt and pepper more if needed and serve!

http://www.gardenpatchfarms.com/

bacon and kale, a heavenly combo

17 Oct

What is better than KALE and BACON!? Nothing really. The flavor combination, good for you ingredients and just the amazing versatility is the BEST! Kale and bacon on their own, sautéed together is yummy, but add other yummy veggies and you have a breakfast flavor explosion!

This week I’ve been trying to make meals that I can eat for a few days. It’s just easier that way to get home around 7pm and heat up something yummy. Today I decided to make a breakfast with the massive amounts of kale I had. May as well use it right!? Because I definitely have more in the refrigerator!

On a random note, can you believe how much it is to get your nails done!? I got a mani/pedi today, the no chip mani for my little brother’s wedding, and for that, the pedi and tip it was $90! Sheesh! This mani better look good for WEEKS! It does look nice though, and my toes look good and your brother only gets married once, so may as well go all out! But wow. But all this beauty prep is fun. I’m a total tomboy. Hoodies and leggings. Hoodies and leggings. So I’m excited I got my nails done and I am super pumped to get my hair done for the wedding! I haven’t had “semi long” hair in a long time! So it’ll be fun. It’s going to be a great weekend and I can’t wait! It’ll be so fun to see my family all together and see my little brother get married!

So anyways, enough beauty prep talk. Let’s talk breakfast!

KALE AND BACON FRITTATA WITH ZUCCHINI

  • 9 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/2 lb bacon (about 8 slices)
  • an entire container of organic pre-washed kale (about 4 cups or so total)
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped and cubed
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a medium sized cast iron skillet, or pan, cube your bacon and toss in the pan. Cook until crispy. Add your zucchini, hotsauce and garlic and make sure it cooks through a bit.

Next add your kale, in 3 batches, sautéing down until just dark green and more can fit in the pan. Whisk your eggs with 2 tablespoons cheese, salt and pepper. Turn heat off of your burner and pour egg mixture over the veg and bacon. Mix a bit then top with the remaining 2 tablespoons of cheese and toss in your oven. Cook until the middle is set. Next, turn your broiler on high and crisp the cheese and top “crust” until bubbly and golden brown. Let cool a bit and serve! You can eat this as breakfast, lunch OR dinner! YUM!

pumpkin kale CRAZY

14 Oct

So since I started this blog around the fall time, pumpkin and kale are taking it over! Particularly pumpkin. I’m trying to devise a way to make pumpkin zucchini bread right now….. But in the meantime, I made pumpkin chili last week and this weekend I’m making pumpkin beef stew and cast iron skillet gluten free corn bread! YUM! The great thing about pumpkin is when you add it to chili, stew, whatever have you, it is subtle, and doesn’t overpower. It just adds extra good for you vitamins and yumminess! I also made pumpkin soup this week! I have a problem……HAHA!

Cooking is really a stress relief for me. It eases my soul. The last week has been really long and arduous. I haven’t had much time for my 1/2 marathon training runs or yoga, or anything really. I have had a ridiculously long, boring paper due, getting last minute things for my family and whatever else done for my brother’s wedding, have been working on my relationships, yadda yadda yadda and it’s just been long and tiring. Oh well. BUT this week should be really exciting! My little brother is getting married to probably THE nicest, smartest, most wonderful girl he could ever ask for. I am so so SO happy for them. I can’t wait to finish with this coming up week and get into the wedding fun!

Today it’s a rainy day outside in Chicago and it definitely is the perfect metaphor for last week, rainy and cold. But, everything happens for a reason and I am hopefully getting stronger as days go on, stronger in my runs, stronger in who I am and stronger in anything else that comes my way. It’s amazing what you can learn in your lifetime, even in a couple months of a couple weeks!

The nice thing, if you know me, is that I love to cook, and I can always go back to the kitchen to give my brain a reset! Last weekend, and yes, I know I’m behind, I made a REALLY yummy pumpkin chili for dinner and then ate it for a couple lunches. I really love food like that lately that I can make for dinner and then eat for a couple meals. Granted, I hate leftovers, so it has to be something that reheats well! Stews, soups, caseroles and chilis tend to do that nicely. Don’t get me wrong, I eat a lot of salad, A LOT, during the week, but it’s nice to have something warm and comfy! I also am REALLY into juicing lately. It’s so nice that when I don’t use an entire bag of kale and it’s about to go bad, I juice it! So far my favorite juicing combination is kale, spinach, apple, celery, ginger and beet! If you don’t have a juicer, you should get one. It’s a nice way to get good nutrient in your body, give you some energy and use up produce you wont eat in time! I generally drink a glass of the green juice in the morning. YES, I know, green juice? Gross, right!? NOT AT ALL! Something about juicing it really makes it taste amazing, all those flavors, yum! Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a way to get your veggies in, don’t let it take over eating good healthy, raw or cooked veg, it is just a nice way to start out the day. If I remember to drink a glass of green juice that I make when I wake up, with my breakfast, it gives me that little boost in the morning and is healthier than coffee! SO eat your veggies people, particularly pumpkin haha, and enjoy these recipes! Trust me, more pumpkin recipes to come for sure!

SPICY YUMMY PUMPKIN CHILI

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil or what have you
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 1-2 zucchini cut and cubed
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 4-5 Italian sausage links, casings removed
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes, with their liquid
  • 1 can pumpkin purée
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

Wash and prep your veggies. Chop your onions and bell pepper and dice your garlic super fine. In a dutch oven, or large pot, heat your oil and toss in the onion, zucchini and bell pepper with the garlic. Cook until almost soft. Throw in the ground beef and italian sausage. Cook until brown, breaking up as your go. Once that is ready, add your can of pumpkin, tomatoes, spices and stir until combined. Let that cook down a bit, stirring occasionally. Then rinse your black beans and add those. NOTE: If you don’t eat beans, don’t add them! It’ll be yummy without! Also, use whatever meat you want, turkey, beef, pork, the list is endless, and that’s the great thing about chili! Taste for salt and pepper and spiciness content, add more if necessary. Let cook for about 15 minutes after this and then serve it up! It’s REALLY yummy with fresh avocado on top!

PUMPKIN BEEF STEW WITH ROOT VEG

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (or whatever oil you’d like) and 2 tablespoons grassfed butter
  • 1 lb beef stew meat (or more if you;d like)
  • 1 quart beef stock
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour (or whole wheat or regular, spelt, whatever you use)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 can organic pumpkin puree
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 2 lb bag of carrots, this is about 10 carrots, regular size
  • 1 bag of red skin potatoes, about 15 potatoes, medium sized

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Heat your pot on high heat and add your oil and butter, this is a LOVELY combination. Add your stew meat and dump in your flour. Stir around so you coat the meat and it make a thick roux with the oil, butter and flour, coating the meat and browning it. Add your beef stock and pumpkin, salt, pepper and thyme and bring to a boil. While this is coming to a boil, roughly chop your carrots, onion and halve or quarter your potatoes. Turn the heat off the pot once it boils and add all your veggies. Stir together and put in the oven, covered, for 2 hours, checking occasionally to stir. You also can check seasoning levels and add more salt and pepper as needed. NOTE: If you gravy is too thin as it cooks and you want a thicker gravy, make a slurry. You take the flour of your choice, like coconut, spelt, whole wheat or white, and add water to make a thick paste, add it to your stew and stir it in. The slurry will make it not lumpy and thicken your stew gravy.

Once the stew vegetables are fork tender, your stew is done! Check seasoning and serve alongside some YUMMY gluten free corn bread! I actually pour my stew over a bed of fresh baby kales, but you know me, I LOVE kale. You can eat it plain, or have it over some yummy kale of fresh spinach. It will lightly cook the kale or spinach from the heat and add some extra veggie yumminess! ENJOY on a cold rainy Sunday and heat up throughout the week for yummy lunches!

ROUX

Here is a GREAT link to making roux! Basically, you take dripping from a roast and add flour to make a basic slurry to create gravy, but it also gives you an idea of how it can work in other dishes! Rouxs are great for making cream sauces, gravies, yummy things like that!

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/good-eats/white-roux-recipe/index.html

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