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!!!

Moo.

Happy Thursday y’all!
Did you know that the word for “pork” in Thai is moo? It fascinates me that two different languages can use the same word, but in different contexts. I mean, if you were to stick an American child, who has just learned that cows make the “moo” sound, in Thailand, they might be served a plate of pork each time they said “moo.” Baha! What’s really hilarious is that I learned this from a movie called “Uptown Girls,” where Brittany Murphy just so happens to own a pig named “Moo.” 
Moving on, all I have to say is…bacon. And tons of it. Seriously, what I am about to show you was my lunch yesterday (along with a turkey burger and a piece of toast). 
Bacon is our canvas today people. 
We are transforming it
with a spicy brown sugar glaze.

Smooth that glaze out over the bacon.
DO NOT LICK THE SPOON!

Food poisoning is for amateurs. Although I love me some raw cookie dough.

Then some herbs come out to play
 for a healthy, creamy, Greek yogurt ranch dressing.

OH MAH GAWD!

This candied bacon/ranch/romaine combo only gets 10 times better with FETA CHEESE!
Because I’m pretty sure that I have a little bit of Greek somewhere, running through my veins.

But oh mah gawd just look at that bacon!

Okay, I’m finished. 
Bacon, people…bacon.
Simple Romaine Salad with Greek Yogurt Ranch Dressing, Spicy Brown Sugar Bacon, and Feta (GF):
Ingredients:
For the bacon:
8 strips of thick, uncooked, pork center-cut bacon
1/4 c. packed dark brown sugar
1/2 t. ground chili powder
2 T. honey
1 T. water
For the dressing:
1/4 c. parsley, chopped
2 T. fresh dill, removed from the sprigs
1 T. fresh chives, chopped
1.5 T. fresh basil, chopped
1 whole clove of garlic
1 c. plain, Greek yogurt (I used non-fat)
2 T. low-fat buttermilk (you could also use water to thin out the dressing)
1/2 t. ground pepper
pinch of salt
For the salad:
8 Romaine lettuce leaves
1/2 c. crumbled Feta cheese
Instructions:
For the bacon:
1. On a piece of parchment paper, lay the bacon slices (fat side up) on top of one another in an angled position. 
2. Combine all of the glaze ingredients in a small bowl. 
4. Pour the glaze evenly over the bacon. Use the back of a large spoon to spread the mixture out over each piece of bacon. 
5. Cover the bacon in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. 
6. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
7. Place each strip of bacon on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. 
8. Bake the bacon until slightly brown and crispy. About 15-18 minutes. Watch carefully because it might burn! I placed the baking sheet on a rack in the middle of the oven to avoid this. 
9. Let the bacon cool on the pan for 3 minutes before using tongs to transfer to a cutting board. 
10. Once completely cool, chop the bacon into crumbles, using a large serrated knife. Set aside.
For the dressing:
1. Put all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process on high until smooth.
2. You may need to add a bit more buttermilk or water, depending on how thick or thin you like the consistency of your dressing.
3. Pour the dressing in two 6 oz. canning jars fitted with lids.
For the salad:
1. Top each romaine leaf with about 2 T. of crumbled bacon, drizzle with dressing, and top with about 2 T. of crumbled feta.
Serves 4 (2 lettuce leaves/person).
MANGIA!!!

Mr. Sir Loin

First Bacon, and now Steak. I am a whole new woman this week. Seriously, what is happening in my kitchen? Good things I tell you…no…GREAT things!
I haven’t had a steak in gawd knows when and it was about damn time! 
Plus, a couple of years back they closed down my favorite steak place…not a happy camper when you erase one of my childhood memories of a thick, juicy, mouth-watering steak with the family.
No, you didn’t.
Anyway, today I have a man’s meal for you…no, a woman’s meal…hey, it’s both, cah-peesh?
Steak…
gawd…I feel so cave-woman-ish right now.

Now, some roasted veggies…
that’s more like it.

Hello, there Honey Garlic Steak!
Cooked to perfection and totally cured my craving!
Honey-Garlic Sirloin with Roasted Veggies (GF):
Ingredients:
For the steak:
1 1/4 pound of lean, top sirloin 
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 c. honey 
pinch of salt
extra-virgin olive oil, for the pan
For the veggies:
1 poblano pepper, seeded, and sliced into thin strips, lengthwise
2 large red bell peppers, seeded, and sliced into thin strips, lengthwise
2 medium-large sized yellow squash, cubed
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
pinch of salt
Instructions:
1. Place the steak in a large ziploc bag. Combine the garlic, evoo, honey, and salt. Pour over the steak, seal the bag, and marinate in the refrigerator for about 2 hours.
2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. Put the veggies on the prepared baking sheet and toss with the evoo and the salt.
4. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until slightly golden.
5. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat with about 1 T. of evoo. Remove the steak from the bag and place it in the skillet.
6. Cook the steak for about 5-6 minutes on each side.
7. Put the steak on a large piece of parchment paper to rest. 
8. Take the veggies out of the oven and set aside. 
9. Using a large steak knife, slice the steak cross wise into even strips. 
10. Place over a bed of veggies and go to town!
Serves 2-3.
MANGIA!!!

Rack O’ Ribs

Now, I know that sometimes (okay, maybe all of the time) I may come off as some sort of health nut. Hey, what can I say, I like my veggies. However, there are those times when I say “Screw it, I’m a southern gal and I like southern things.” I’m not talking about sexy bull-riding “John Wayne” type cowboys here people…that story is definitely for another time. 
Today, it’s all about something that is near and dear to my little, big Texas heart…ribs. 
It’s all about the pork ribs here people!
Beef ribs, take a hike!

Rub that pork down with a good chipotle brown sugar spice rub…be generous!

What peaches?

Let me introduce you to my peach cider barbecue sauce…now, it’s not traditional Texan, but it works!
Oh, you don’t have a grill or grilling skills, or maybe it’s raining cats and dogs outside.? No problemo!
 It’s all about the low and slow method here people.

Then we baste

and baste

and chow down!

This pork ribs are super tender, juicy, a little sweet, a little spicy, and stick to your ribs (pun intended)!
 This is definitely man food so 
someone hand me a beer!
Things just got crazy!
Chipotle-Brown Sugar Pork Ribs with Peach Cider Barbecue Sauce (GF):
Ingredients:
For the ribs:
2 T. light brown sugar
2 T. ground chipotle powder
1 T. ground cumin
1/2 t. salt
1 T. ground  black pepper
1 slab of pork tenderloin ribs
For the barbecue sauce:
1 drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
1 small sweet, yellow onion, chopped
2 large, ripe peaches, chopped
1/3 c. apple cider vinegar
1/4 c. agave nectar (or honey)
2 t. Dijon mustard
1 T. light brown sugar
1/2 t. ground black pepper
Instructions:
For the ribs:
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Place a cooling rack on a baking sheet and set aside.
2. To make the spice rub, combine the brown sugar, chipotle powder, cumin, salt, and black pepper together in a small bowl. 
3. Line the cooling rack with a large piece of foil. Place the ribs on top of the foil and sprinkle the spice rub on both sides of the pork ribs, rubbing thoroughly on all sides.
4. Place the ribs meat-side down and fold the foil to form a seal packet.
5. Bake the ribs for 2 hours.

For the barbecue sauce:
1. In the meantime, to make the barbecue sauce, heat the evoo in a large sauce pan over medium heat. 
2. Add the onion and cook until tender, stirring often, about 4 minutes.
3. Stir in the peaches, apple cider vinegar, agave, Dijon, brown sugar, and black pepper. 
4. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the sauce is thick, about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.
5. Take the ribs out of the oven and baste (I used a pastry brush for this) the ribs with the barbecue sauce. 
6. Place the ribs back into the oven for 20 minutes, basting twice more during the baking process.
7. Let the ribs sit for about 5 minutes after baking, slice, and serve.
Serve with all the fixins’ (i.e. baked beans, Texas toast, coleslaw, and potato salad).
Makes 1 slab of pork ribs.
MANGIA!!!

Decisions.

Decisions, decisions. I know that we all make decisions every.single.day. From the time we wake up in the morning, until the time we rest our head on our pillow at night. Life is all about decisions, some of them extremely life effecting decisions, others, well…not so much. Right now I am being faced with a lot of life-altering decisions that I will discuss when the time is right. I have never been known as a person who can make a decision to save her life. Seriously, I have a hard time shopping for shoes at the mall because I can’t decide whether or not I was a pair of high-heels or converse and…why can’t I have both? Anyway, you get it. I hate making decisions, but right now, I have to put my game face on and make a decision that is going to effect the rest of my life…career-wise. That’s where meatballs and pasta sauce come into play.
 There are no decisions with a one-pot tomato sauce.
It’s real simple…tomato, herbs, garlic, simmer…
 Rolling meatballs is therapeutic…now I know why Italians are so easy-going…most of them with low blood pressure. No decisions. The only decision they have to make is the choice between a bowl of angel hair, or a hearty piece of lasagna. That’s after they take their mid-afternoon siesta.
What a life.
Simplicity at it’s best.
 
So, make one decision today…to have meatballs and pasta sauce for dinner.
It will change your life. No questions asked.
Garlic-Herb Tomato Sauce with Italian Meatballs:
Ingredients:
For the sauce:
3 8 oz. cans unsalted tomato sauce
2 14.5 oz. cans unsalted, whole, peeled tomatoes, with their juices
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
3 sprigs of fresh thyme, finely chopped
3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
3 sprigs of fresh oregano, finely chopped
1 bunch of fresh basil, roughly chopped
1/2 c. fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the meatballs:
2 lbs. ground top sirloin
1 lb. ground chuck
1/2 red onion, finely diced
3 ribs of celery, finely diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bunch of fresh basil, roughly chopped
1/2 c. fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
3 sprigs of fresh oregano, finely chopped
3 sprigs of fresh thyme, finely chopped
2 eggs
1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
extra-virgin olive oil
Instructions:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. For the sauce, place all ingredients (except salt and pepper) in a medium heavy-bottom pot. Mix all of the the ingredients together.
3. Place the pot on the stove over medium heat, stir occasionally until it begins to bubble, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer for three hours, checking the sauce occasionally and stirring as needed. Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper to taste.
4. For the meatballs, place all of the ingredients (except the evoo) in a large mixing bowl and using your hands, mix everything until evenly distributed. 
5. Roll the meatballs into golf-ball sized balls and place on the prepared baking sheets. Drizzle each with a bit of evoo. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until golden brown and tender. (Times will vary with ovens so check on them occasionally).
Note: Serve meatballs with sauce and top liberally with freshly grated Parmesan cheese!
Makes 22 meatballs and about 4 cups of sauce.
MANGIA!!!