Roses.

Happy Monday y’all!
Today is my baby seester’s 23rd birthday and probably one of the first years that I am spending her birthday without her 🙁 I have also come to terms with the fact that I must be the worst seester in the world because I haven’t made her any birthday treats….yet, that is. This week expect birthday treats. Hopefully I can mail them to her 🙂

Last week I was craving protein, but instead of my usual go to chicken or turkey, I wanted fish. If you know me…this is highly unlikely. Especially since I once went on a fish binge…like salmon burgers, blackened tilapia, seared halibut all up in my mouth for months binge! Then of course I got sick of it. However, last week was the week I decided I was back on the fish train. Well…only certain types of fish. So, I headed out to the place where I knew I could get the freshest fish available…Rose’s Seafood.

 Rose’s is right down the street from my house, located directly on top of the bay…so you know their seafood is fresh. My parents have been taking seester and I to Rose’s since we were little girls. It is a family run business which is why I love to purchase from them. Not to mention, it’s local so you know where you are getting your seafood from. I hadn’t been to Rose’s in a year or so, but of course the second I arrived all my childhood memories came rushing back to me. I headed to the fish counter to pick out the best looking fish. Now, usually I would get me some red snapper but in this case, I would have to sell my arms and legs down the river to afford it. Soooo, I settled for a couple of pounds of fresh, beautiful, flounder.

I mean, seriously?
Who am I?

This fish was the most flavorful fish I have ever met.

Not to mention, super tender and flaky.

The fish has a buttery taste…without the butter 🙂 Oh, and I got creative with some spinach there. 
For sure melt in you mouth-ish.

Yes, I am describing fish as melt in your mouth.
Now I want some chocolate. 

Lawd hawwwlp me!
Baked Lemon Rosemary Flounder (GF/P):
Ingredients:
1 lb. fresh caught flounder, rinsed and patted dry
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 T. Dijon mustard
3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, minced
1 large Meyer Lemon, thinly sliced
freshly cracked black pepper and sea salt, to taste
Instructions:
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×11 in. baking dish with cooking spray. Place the fish in the baking dish.
2. In a small bowl, mix together the evoo and dijon.
3. Using a pastry brush, brush the flounder with the dijon mixture.
4. Sprinkle the flounder with chopped rosemary and place lemon slices evenly over the fillets. Season with salt and pepper. 
5. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the fish flakes in the thickest part.
Serves 4-6.
MANGIA!!!

The New Meat.

Happy Tuesday y’all!
Today is my mommas 52nd 25th birthday :). I love my mom to death so in honor of her day I will be feasting with her tonight at one of her fave restaurants. Yummy! Maybe I will make her a dessert later on this week. Maybe. All I know is that whatever I make her must be able to be slathered in butter. She is the butter queen. I am talking Paula Deen level here, y’all! Seriously. 
Now, my dad is under doctor’s orders to eat all things healthy. This means no Blue Bell ice cream. Thank goodness we already eat healthy the majority of the time. 
Last night’s dinner included this.
Roasted eggplant steaks 

drizzled in a Maple Honey Tahini Dressing. 

The “steaks” were so tender and the dressing nearly blew my socks off!

Perfect as a vegetarian entree at dinner.
Eggplant…the new meat. 

Roasted Eggplant Steaks with Maple Honey Tahini Dressing (GF/V/P):

Ingredients:
2 large eggplants, tops removed, cut in half lengthwise
2 T. honey tahini
1 T. apple cider vinegar
3 t. pure maple syrup
juice of 1/2 a small lemon
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
freshly chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley, optional garnish
Instructions:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the prepared eggplant flesh side up on a large baking sheet.
2. Bake for 1 hour or until the eggplant is golden brown and the back side of the eggplant is slightly charred.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the tahini, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, lemon juice, salt, and pepper until smooth.
4. Drizzle each eggplant steak with the dressing, a pinch of salt and pepper, and garnish with chopped fresh parsley.
Makes 4 eggplant steaks.
MANGIA!!!

Simmer Down Now.

Okay people, 2013 is starting to get really….real. Super real. So real that I’m kind of frightened to as what this new year will bring for me. Yikes. How is that even possible? “Calm down Chels, let God guide the way.” Oh, sorry I’m supposed to be having a conversation with you lovely people, not engaging in a self chat therapy session. Whoa, lightening just struck the sky here. I love thunderstorms!
I do know that one thing is for sure 2013 is going to be the year to try new ethnic cuisines. Lawd hawwwlp me. Seriously, I have 3 go to ethnic cuisines…Mexican, Italian (from my kitchen of course), oh, and Mediterranean, which is basically Italian with all the olives and eggplants and tomatoes and such (right up to the baklava). 
Let’s talk Indian cuisine (or more specifically, cuisine from the Western hemisphere). Even more specifically, curry. Now, I have a deep affection for the curry spice. I did not have a deep connection with the Thai restaurant where I experienced my first encounter with a chicken curry. Hello, sicky icky stomach problems from something that looked like a gloppy tomato curry explosion. However, I didn’t want to kick curry to the curb just yet, so I decided to create my own version.
Only good things can come from chopped onions and garlic. 
That is where this dish speaks my language. 

Oh, and yummy spices!
Then, we simmer everything together on the stove. 
This is a one-pot meal people. 
 Can’t stop. Won’t stop. 

The flavor is magical and the chicken is oh so tender!
Did I mention it’s paleo and gluten-free?
Get some
ASAP!

Chicken Almond Curry (GF/P):

Ingredients:
extra-virgin olive oil, for sauteing 
1.5 yellow onions, chopped finely
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 T. curry powder
1 t. ground ginger
2 t. fine sea salt
1 t. ground cumin
pinch of ground cayenne pepper
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 15 oz. can no-salt-added tomato puree
1 c. unsweetened, plain, almond milk
1 T. coconut flour ( or almond flour)
chopped fresh herbs (i.e. cilantro, parsley), optional
Instructions:
1. Heat the evoo in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes.
2. Mix in the curry powder, ginger, sea salt, cumin, and cayenne, stirring constantly so that the spices don’t stick to the bottom of the pan, about 2 minutes.
3. Add the chicken and tomato puree, toss to coat. 
4. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover the pot, and simmer for 1 hour or until the chicken is tender and cooked through.
5. When the chicken is finished, stir in the almond milk and coconut flour. 
6. Simmer the curry, uncovered for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. 
7. Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with chopped fresh herbs. 
Serves 6.
MANGIA!!!

Hu are You?

Happy Wednesday y’all!
Well, the first day of 2013 was definitely a success for my family and I. By success I mean that mom and I set out to run a few much needed errands which ended in her purchasing a new rug for the floors. You see, my dad decided to rip up the carpet in the living room yesterday morning only because my parents are deciding between getting hardwoods or tile in the house. Oh, and this all started because I couldn’t fit a pan into the oven in our kitchen. Somehow the small oven translated into new kitchen, which translated into new floors. I see a pattern here. Anyway, if you have thoughts on tile or hardwood floors, throw them my way! Let’s talk about food. Duh.

I can’t even begin to remember when the last time it was that I ate meatloaf. When I was little I developed an adverse relationship towards this mystery meat. Mystery meat meaning God only knew what was in there and it gave me anxiety trying to figure it out. Mystery meat be gone!

A couple of weeks ago my older cousin mentioned to me that he had eaten the best Paleo meatloaf at one of his new fave Paleo restaurants in New York, Hu Kitchen. After checking out the Hu Kitchen website, not only was I jealous that I didn’t have one here, but I felt the need to create my own version of each item on the menu. It all just looked so good! Yesterday, I got to work on this meatloaf.

You start with a good saute of red and orange bell pepper along with some yellow onion and garlic.

We are going Italian-style on this meatloaf yo. 

Bada-bing!

I spooned some of my dad’s leftover homemade slow roasted tomato sauce over the top of the meatloaf mid-way through the baking process. 

Ummmm…not the prettiest meatloaf (mainly because I didn’t have the patience to allow it to cool completely) but for sure the tastiest!

The bell peppers add a hint of sweetness that balances the savory quality of the tomato sauce. 

Paleo Italian Turkey Meatloaf. Boo-yah Jack!
Paleo Italian Turkey Meatloaf (GF):
Ingredients:
extra-virgin olive oil, for the pan
half of 1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 large yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 of a yellow onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 lb. of ground turkey (I used about 80/20)
2 T. Italian spice blend (recipe follows)
1 egg, whisked
1/3 c. fresh homemade tomato sauce (try my Garlic-Herb Tomato Sauce)
Italian Spice Blend:
1 t. sea salt
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
1 T. granulated garlic
1 T. granulated onion
1 T. ground sage
1 T. ground fennel seeds
2 t. dried parsley
2 t. dried basil
2 t. dried oregano
Instructions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a loaf pan with evoo. Combine all of the ingredients for the Italian spice blend in a small jam jar and shake until evenly distributed. Set aside. 
2. Heat a drizzle of evoo in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bell peppers, onion, and garlic and saute until the onions become translucent about 8 minutes. Stir occasionally.
3. Place the mixture into a large mixing bowl and allow to cool for about 5 minutes. 
4. Add the ground turkey, spice blend, and egg. Mix using your hands until well combined.
5. Spread the meat mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the pan from the oven, and spread the tomato sauce out over the top of the meatloaf.
6. Put the meatloaf back into the oven and bake for an additional 40-45 minutes.
7. Let the meatloaf rest until slightly room temperature. 
8. Slice and serve.
Makes 6 slices of meatloaf.
MANGIA!!!

Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Happy Monday y’all!
Let’s get down to business. Yesterday was the first day of fall weather round’ these here parts. I woke up to chilly temps in the 50’s (omg), with the wind fiercely whipping through the trees in my back yard.  All I did was grab a cup of hot coffee and listen to live acoustic music on one of the local radio stations. It’s called acoustic sunrise, and they play it every Sunday (think you fave music…just live, in the acoustic version). 
Now, I wanted to bake, like seriously. I was craving some mad pancakes drenched in syrup, but it was just sooooo peaceful to sit and do absolutely nothing. So, I held off. Then, later in the day, it dawned on me…it was the perfect (and I mean really, really, ridiculously perfect) day for chicken soup. Now, let’s get this straight…this is not chicken noodle soup (although you could add noodles if you are in to that sort of thing). This is real deal, chock full of veggies and shredded roasted chicken soup. The kind that is perfect for a cold day, or a sick day, the kind of chicken soup that sticks to your ribs…but in a light, and healthy sort of way. 
This recipe or technique (I should say) was taught to me by my grandmother. Now, when I say taught, what I really mean is that when I was around 12 years old, I asked her how to make it and she proceeded to throw a handful of things into a large pot, blink…and bada-bing…magic! She’s real specific about her recipes…not! Anyway, my mom mastered the recipe over the years and can practically make it in her sleep. I have made it a few times, but it was never THIS good. I mean, seriously.
The only bad part about this soup is chopping onions. 
Ahhhh…tears!

Then everything gets really, really, ridiculously simple. 

This is a one pot meal.

Add some fresh herbs. 

Le chicken.
Really classy store-bought rotisserie chicken. I know, I know…but, it will change your life by making this dish more simple. Feel free to go all Julia Child on me and roast your own chicken. 
The only chicken soup recipe you will ever need.

I mean, seriously….gahhhh…just look at those tender veggies and that juicy shredded chicken.

Flavor x’s 10!!!
This is important: add a handful of shredded Parmesan cheese (the fake boxed stuff will do the trick) to your bowl of soup.
Trust me on this one. 
Roasted Chicken Soup (GF):
Ingredients:
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
5 large carrots, sliced into quarter sized rounds
5 stalks of celery, chopped
freshly ground black pepper, as needed
5-6 c. low-sodium chicken broth (you can also use water or vegetable broth)
1/4 c. fresh basil, chopped
1/4 c. fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 large rotisserie chicken, shredded
handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of cracked red pepper flakes, optional toppings
Instructions:
1. Heat a dutch oven (or a large soup pot) over medium heat on the stove.
2. Drizzle with the evoo.
3. Add the onions and garlic and cook until the onions are just translucent, stirring ever so often. About 5 minutes.
4. Add the carrots and celery, turn the heat up to medium-high, and cook for another 5 minutes, or until the vegetables just start to tenderize. Season with freshly ground black pepper.
5. Add the chicken broth, basil, and parsley. Bring the soup to a low boil, then reduce the heat to low.
6. Add the shredded chicken, cover the soup, and let simmer for 30 minutes to an hour.
7. Serve warm with a bit of Parmesan cheese and a hint of red pepper flakes.
Serves about 10-12 people.
MANGIA!!!