Friday, January 31, 2014

Chocolate Chip Coconut No-Bake Refrigerator Cookies

Chocolate Chip Coconut No-Bake Refrigerator Cookies

These are my go-to treat for my littles! They're so easy, I usually always have the ingredients on hand, and they LOVE them!

They requested a treat for this weekend, and since they had regular ol' glutenous pie last weekend-- sorry, but I just couldn't resist the urge to bake one when we had a guest. Shame on me! Wink, wink.-- I decided to go a healthier route this weekend.

Why are these great?

1. Two words: No. Bake.
2. No refined sugar, dairy or grains.
3. They're really yummy.

Ok, need I say more? Oh, yes...I need to say the recipe! Here ya go!

Chocolate Chip Coconut No-Bake Refrigerator Cookies


1/4c nut butter
1c coconut oil
1.5 c coconut flour
1 c unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 c pure maple syrup
1/2 bag enjoy life chocolate chips


Melt down coconut oil & nut butter. Add maple syrup & mix all three together well. In large bowl mix dry ingredients. Add oil mixture to dry ingredients & mix well. You should have a cookie dough consistency. Grease a small cookie sheet (with sides) or casserole dish with more coconut oil, or line it with wax paper. Pour mixture into pan & press down until it reaches all sides. Put in the refrigerator (away from the light) to harden. Once hardened you an cut into bars, or use a round cookie cutter like it did (just save the extra bits & pieces and sprinkle them on some coconut milk ice cream, if you dare). If you wish to let it soften a bit before cutting, let it sit on the counter for a couple minutes. Store cookies in the refrigerator away from light-- those fridge lights put off a lot of heat, even when not on. I learned that the hard way with a melted glob of refrigerator chocolate!

Serve with some almond milk or coconut milk ice cream & ENJOY!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Chicken With Cashew Sauce

Spicy, sweet, and creamy, this cashew sauce is sure to please!

Do you ever look in the fridge and think, "What the heck am I going to make to eat today?"Sometimes those moments birth some of the best recipes! Today was one of those days, and the recipe that resulted from it turned out delicious!

Spicy and a little bit sweet, this recipe was simple to make, and the whole family loved it! I served it over zoodles (zuchinni noodles) that I made with my spiralizer, but it would also be wonderful with cauli rice or spaghetti squash!

Chicken with Cashew Sauce (for 2)


2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (or 4 thighs)
1/2 cup creamy cashew butter
1/4 cup full fat coconut milk
4 liquid Tbs liquid coconut aminos
4 liquid Tbs water
4 cloves garlic crushed
1 tsp dried ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground red pepper (can add more if you want it spicier)
1/2 tsp sea salt
Roasted red peppers for garnish


In a sauce pan over medium-low heat, add all ingredients except for the chicken. Cook until cashew butter is melted and sauce is heated. Stir frequently, and be careful not to burn! You will want to remove the sauce from the heat after it is cooked through so you don't burn it. Cut up the chicken into pieces in whatever size you desire. The smaller they are, the quicker they will cook. In a pan over medium heat, add some fat (I used olive oil) and cook the chicken. Add cooked chicken to the sauce & mix to coat. You can use the pan you cooked the chicken in to cook up your zoodles or cauli rice. I threw my zoodles in there and cooked until al dente.


Place the zoodles on a plate. Top with the chicken and sauce. Garnish with roasted red peppers and parsley and ENJOY!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeño Mustard Chicken with Twice Baked Avocados

Spicy, creamy,  juicy-- chicken doesn't get better than that!

Really, do I need a long story to go with this? Do I need a reason to slather chicken boobies in mustard sauce and wrap them in bacon? No. I just need to do it. That's all.

Spicy, a little creamy, and definitely juicy, I promise you will love this chicken recipe! The twice baked avocado recipe is just a little bonus. My husband and I love making those!

Hope you all enjoy this as much as we did!

NOTE: Both of these mustards use distilled vinegar. If you wish not to use mustard with vinegar, you can use your favorite vinegar free mustard. It may not have quite the zing to it as the jalapeño mustard, but will still be delicious!

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeño Mustard Chicken (for 4 breasts)


2 Tbs melted fat (ghee, grass fed butter, lard, etc.)
4 Tbs Organic Jalapeño Mustard (Whole Food's 365 brand)
2 Tbs Organic Dijon (Whole Foods 365 brand)
1 Tbs Flavor God Spicy Everything seasoning*
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp dried cilantro
8 slices raw bacon
2-3 fresh jalapeños sliced (depending on how spicy you want it)

*If you do not have Flavor God Spicy Seasoning, use the following:
    1 Tbs garlic powder (in place of 2 tsp listed above)
    1 tsp chili powder
    1/2 tsp red pepper
    2 tsp onion powder


Juicy breasts for the win!!
Preheat the oven to 375*F. In a bowl mix fat, mustards, and seasonings to make a thick paste-like sauce. Coat each of the chicken breasts with the paste. place a layer of sliced jalapeños on top. Wrap each chicken breast with 2 bacon slices. Place on a cookie sheet or oven safe pan. Top the wrapped breasts with remaining sauce. Bake in the oven for approximately 35 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 160*F. I always prefer going by internal temperature to ensure a perfectly cooked chicken breast. Remove from oven when done & allow the breasts to sit for about 10 minutes.

Twice Baked Avocados (for 4 halves)


2 avocados
1 head cauliflower chopped
4 Tbs ghee or grass fed butter
Approximately 4 Tbs coconut milk
Salt & pepper to taste, and any other seasonings you may like. I like to add garlic powder.


Preheat oven to 425*F. Slice the avocados in half and remove the pit. If your avocados are ripe enough, remove the meat from the peel without damaging the peel. You will be stuffing them later with the mash. If your avocados are not ripe enough to remove with saving the skin, you will need to bake the avocados in their skin. The skins will be much softer. They'll still be usable, but they'll be a little harder to work with. Place avocado on a piece of foil or small cookie sheet. Bake for approximately 10 minutes. Meanwhile, steam the cauliflower in your preferred method. Just keep in mind that you do not need to add water to cauliflower when steaming as they have a lot of water naturally. Remove avocado from the oven and turn the oven to broil. In a food processor or blender add baked avocado meat, cooked cauliflower, butter and seasonings (do not add milk yet). Begin processing. Slowly add the coconut milk until you get the desired consistency. Fill the saved avocado skins with the avo-cauli mash. Place in the oven on broil and allow to broil until top gets lightly browned. About 5-10 minutes-- keep an eye on them! Remove from the oven and let cool a bit before plating.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Laura's Super Bowleo Menu

Anyone who knows me, knows I love football. I grew up watching the sport. We're a football family, for sure. Most of the men on my Father's side played the sport & I can remember that going to my brothers' football games was just a part of Fall.

I didn't really love the sport itself when I was younger. I just loved the atmosphere. The crisp fall air, the cheering crowds, seeing my friends....the Friday Night Lights! Over time, though, it's turned into a genuine love for the sport. I'm not a die-hard like some. I'm not good with players & their stats. I don't play fantasy fooball, but I freaking love watching those guys go after it on the field!!

Food & football go together, and there is not football without the Super Bowl. Of course, because we like to keep it Paleo around here, it's really the Super Bowleo!

I'm sharing my menu with you all in the hopes that those of you who want-- or need-- to keep it gluten/dairy free can still enjoy some of those favorite game day snacks! I have included pics & links to all the recipes, to make planning your menu simple!

Super Bowleo Menu

Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Jalapeños

For starters:

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeños Stuffed with Cilantro Lime Cauli Mash

This is by far one of my FAVORITE dairy free appetizers! A little spicy and zingy with the richness of the bacon. These are sure to please any crowd, and nobody will be missing the cream cheese!

Ques-No Dip and Chips

Ques-No Dip & Chips
Queso dip is something I genuinely miss! While this does use ghee (I use OMghee), it's great for people like me who love their queso dip, but can't handle all that dairy! I promise, the flavor is outstanding. My husband actually gets excited when I make this! The almond chips are crispy and quick to make. This appetizer can be made in advance, also! Just refrigerate the dip to reheat later, and store the chips in a ziploc bag! I'm going to make some extras of the chips to have with the main course!

Classic Chili

Main Course:

Classic Chili

I'll be skipping the cilantro lime cauli rice on this one and I'll be pairing it with some almond chips. Incredibly hearty, legume free, and spicy this one is perfect for serving a big crowd! Just make a big pot & provide the bowls. I promise your guests will not be disappointed!

Spiced Brownie a la Mode with Spiced Rum Sauce

For Dessert:

Spiced Brownie a la Mode with Spiced Rum Sauce

I LOVE this spicy rum chocolate sauce! Since I'll be making dessert only for me (my husband sticks to the ice cream), this is what I'll be making! The two minute single serve brownie is great for one. But, with this recipe, THE SAUCE is the thing. If you want to make this for a crowd, go ahead and make your favorite larger batch of brownies and drizzle with the sauce! I love Bravo For Paleo's Flourless Fudgy Brownies!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Bacon Balsamic Roasted Radishes

Never had a cooked radish? Now's your chance!

Bacon Balsamic Roasted Radishes. How's that for alliteration?

Most people have never had a cooked radish. I think that's sad, so I decided to share this recipe with you all. The first time I had a cooked radish was several years ago. I was on this freakishly strict unhealthy low fat, super low carb, super low calorie diet. Radishes were allowed, so I thought I'd steam them one day and see what happens. I loved them!

That diet was far from enjoyable, but cooked radishes most definitely are! I have to admit, though, they are ten times better with bacon.

Radishes contain all the same benefits as other cruciferous vegetables-- cleansing, high in vitamins & nutrients, cancer fighting-- they also are good for the skin & for fighting urinary tract infections!  Needless to say, radishes should be part of our diet. Raw, they can be hot in a similar way that horseradish is hot. But, when cooked, that heat is cooked out and you're left with a neutral earthy flavor.

I don't know about you, but I am always looking for new sides and new ways to eat veggies. If you are as well, I promise you'll love this recipe!

Bacon Balsamic Roasted Radishes


3 cups cubed radishes
2 Tbs bacon grease, duck fat, olive oil, or fat of choice
2 Tbs coarsely chopped rosemary
1 Tbs thyme
1 Tbs finely chopped sage
2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
Dash pepper
3 slices raw bacon chopped
3 liquid Tbs balsamic vinegar

NOTE: If using dried herbs, simply half the recommended measurements.


Preheat oven to 375*F. Throw all the ingredients into a ziploc bag. Close the bag and shake until all the radish cubes are coated with fat, vinegar & herbs. Line a cookie sheet with foil (this makes clean up easier). Pour contents of the ziploc bag onto lined cookie sheet and spread out to one single layer. Roast in the oven for approximately 30-35 minutes, stirring half-way through cooking time. When done, remove and let cool a bit. Stir again to coat with the fat & vinegar.

Serve hot, and ENJOY!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Laura's Deer Hash

Dat deer hash doe! See what I did there?

If any of you have families who hunt, like mine, you may be finding yourself with an abundance of venison in your freezer. If you do, lucky you!! I'm personally a big fan of any wild game for a couple of reasons. First, I just like it. I know some people don't like the "gamey" flavor, but it has never bothered me. It's a flavor unique to wild game, and I can appreciate that. Secondly, hunting is a way to balance the environment. I grew up in Indiana where there has always been an abundance of healthy deer. In fact, many years ago they decided to put more restrictions on hunting deer and the result was not good! They had to lift restrictions and temporarily extend the deer hunting season to control overpopulation. John Durant discusses hunting in his new book The Paleo Manifesto, and he talks about the fact that without hunting there can be an overpopulation of certain animals and when that happens, it's the young that suffer because there is a lack of food. Too many deer (or insert wild game here), not enough food. Also, look at what the increase in wild boar/pig population is doing in the South. They are destroying & taking over. Hunting is necessary, but not wasteful!

Let's be honest, it doesn't get more Paleo than eating wild game, and for most people that means venison. There are several cuts, and several different ways to have it processed. Smoked deer sausage is outstanding-- especially a little spicy! And I leap for joy when my Uncle brings me a little bag of deer jerky.

I love deer hash. It's personally my favorite way to eat venison! I'm relatively new to cooking deer meat myself, so I've been working on perfecting my recipe. Venison is a lean meat, and you do have to cut the fat off, so how tender your meat is can vary-- not just from cut to cut, but from animal to animal. How tender the meat is depends on a few things. First, the cut -- rump is more tender than shank, which is why shank is used most commonly for ground meat, and the rump for roast. It also depends on the age of the deer-- the younger the deer, the more tender the meat. And finally, the deer's diet. Deer living near agricultural areas will be more tender from eating a diet of corn and soy beans, but deer from hilly or mountainous areas are less tender from consuming a more wild diet. Living in South Carolina, the venison I have comes from deer that eat a more wild diet, so I have the challenge of dealing with a less tender meat. However, I believe I have figured out a way to get a tender flavorful hash no matter the age or diet of the venison you have.
Freeze those leftovers to save for later!

Also, deer hash freezes fantastically!! Yay for food prep!! Simply double bag some cooled hash meat into freezer safe bags, make sure all air is removed, seal both bags well and freeze!

Tips for tender deer hash:

1. Use a roast cut (usually the rump, neck, or foreleg)
2. Leave the bone in if processing yourself, or request that the bone be left in your roast cuts. Cooking any meat with the bone will make for a more tender meat.
3. Trim off as much fat & skin as possible. It doesn't taste good. Sometimes it doesn't taste like anything, but it's a gamble you don't want to take!
4. Soak your meat in salt water overnight. This draws out the blood, taking some of the gamey flavor out, and it helps to tenderize
5. Add fat to the pot when cooking. This is necessary with such a lean meat.
6. Cook low & slow & long.
7. Use wine. I know that wine is not strictly Paleo, and it is not necessary if you wish to eliminate it, but wine is a natural tenderizer and does make a difference.

Ok, now that I've shared my tips for cooking deer hash, let me share my recipe with you! You can use deer hash just as you would pulled pork or chicken meat. Add to your frittatas, or stuff a Paleo tortilla, or mix with some Mayleo and make a creamy deer hash salad. Stuff jalapenos & wrap them with bacon & bake for a delicious snack or appetizer! The possibilities are endless!

Laura's Deer Hash


1 venison roast bone-in
1 liquid cup of red wine
1 Tbs onion powder
1 Tbs garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp sea salt
4 Tbs ghee, grass fed butter, bacon grease, or lard of choice
2 Tbs salt (for soak)


First, as I stated earlier, soak your roast over night. In a deep bowl or pan, cover meat with water. Add 2 Tbs of salt. Allow the meat to sit in the fridge overnight.

After the roast has soaked, remove from the water and pat dry. In a crock pot, slow cooker, or large oven-safe lidded pot pour in the wine. Make a dry rub mixing all the seasonings together in a bowl. Coat the roast with the dry rub and place into the slow cooker/ crock pot/ oven safe pot. Top with fat/lard of choice. Cover and cook on low (or 275*F in the oven) for at least 6 hours. Check the meat & if it falls apart easily it is done. If not, continue to cook and check hourly. The hash is done when it is falling apart & shredding easily.

When done, remove the bone, pull apart & shred with two forks. Mix the meat up with the liquid at the bottom of the pot.

Serve with my my Butt Smackin' Good BBQ Sauce, a side of my Pink Horsey Slaw, and ENJOY!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Crock Pot Citrus Cumin Leg of Lamb with Citrus Mint Cauli Rice and Cumin Mint Sauce

Sweet and smokey, the combinations of cumin & citrus take this classic up a notch!

Whenever I eat lamb, it makes me think of the aunt in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" when Toula brings her new boyfriend to a family dinner and she informs her aunt that he is a vegetarian and the aunt says, "What you mean he no eat meat? Oh, it's ok. I make lamb." There are images of this floating around the interwebz, and I laugh every time.

I love lamb. It is probably my favorite meat. It is so rich and flavorful! It is surprisingly versatile, and ground lamb is comparable in price to other high quality grass fed ground meats. There are some people, who have a hard time thinking that they're eating a little lamb-- it's the Disney epidemic. We can't eat Bambi-- never mind that Bambi has some delicious tender meat that is loaded with nutrients. It's the same with lamb. When I was prepping the meat, my youngest son says to me, "Poor wittle wamby," (my son can't quite pronounce his "r' sound properly yet). I always think the same thing for about 1/8 of a second, and then I think about how delicious it's going to be. And, for the record, my son couldn't get enough of the "poor wittle wamby" once he was cooked.

I wanted to do something a little different-- and a little bold. It was a leap of faith, since leg of lamb isn't the cheapest thing you can buy, but I went with my instincts and it turned out incredible! The combinations of sweet citrus and smokey cumin with the rich lamb is outstanding, and the mint sauce pairs so perfectly, cutting through all the richness. You will not be disappointed with this dish. And to top it all off, IT'S FOR THE CROCK POT!!! Talk about a super easy dinner party meal!

I hope you enjoy this meal as much as my family did!

Crock Pot Citrus Cumin Leg Of Lamb


Fall-off-the-bone tender!

1 5lb bone in leg of lamb
3 small onions peeled and halved
Juice of 3 small oranges
Rinds of squeezed oranges
6 whole cloves garlic peeled
3 tsp ground cumin
Salt & pepper


To prep the meat, simply remove any filmy skin like outer layer. Leave any fat in tact. Place onions on the bottom of the crock pot. Put leg of lamb on onions. Squeeze juice over the lamb, then stuff the rinds under the lamb. Rub the cumin onto both sides of the leg. Throw in the garlic cloves. Cook on low for approximately 8 hours, or until meat is tender & falling off of the bone.

Note: If you do not have a slow cooker or crock pot, you can cook this in a covered dish in the oven at 275*F for 6-8 hrs, until meat is tender and falling off the bone.

Cumin Mint Sauce


4 liquid Tbs water
Zest & juice 1 orange
3 Tbs raw honey
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 liquid cup white wine vinegar
2/3 cup heaping, chopped mint


In a small sauce pot over medium-low heat, add everything except cumin, mint and vinegar. Make a simple syrup by cooking the honey & liquid until the liquid has reduced by about half. Then add the remaining ingredients, and continue cooking for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the sauce to cool a bit.

Citrus Mint Cauli Rice


1 head of fresh cauliflower chopped
Juice & zest of 1 orange
1/3 c chopped mint leaves
2 Tbs ghee (I use OMghee)


Put cauliflower, orange zest & juice, and mint leaves into a food processor or blender. Pulse until the cauliflower is the size of rice. In a pan over medium heat, melt ghee. Toss the cauli rice into the pan cooking until just softened (or to your own desired consistency).

To Plate: Place some cauli rice on the plate, top with some of the fall-off-the-bone meat, and drizzle with the sauce. Top with a fresh sprig of mint and ENJOY!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Book Review, "The Paleo Manifesto: Ancient Wisdom For Lifelong Health," by John Durant

"[W]e can do what our ancestors did: take one small step after another until we arrive in a very different place. Risen apes or fallen angels, we walk tall with eyes forward-- one foot firmly planted on the ground of what we are, the other reaching into the future of what we can become." 

~John Durant

Ok, I know I'm a little late to be writing a review of this book; but in my defense, I started reading it during the holidays. I promised you all a review, and a review is what you shall get! Better late than never, I suppose.

As most of you know, we have no shortage of books on the subject of the Paleo diet. We are inundated with new cookbooks and ebooks and how-to books and books from a physiological perspective almost weekly it seems. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love all of these books. They are incredibly beneficial, and I'm a particular fan of any book that explains the physiological benefits of the Paleo diet, as I believe they are the most vital defense we have. However, when I heard that a new book was coming out called The Paleo Manifesto, I was instantly intrigued. The title alone indicated a new perspective, and I was anxious to read it.

This book did not disappoint. John provides an entirely unique perspective on the Paleo lifestyle that I feel is very timely. As the lifestyle slowly gains more exposure in the mainstream media, bits and pieces seem to be slightly distorted (although no publicity is bad publicity), and it is seen as another diet with "do eat/don't eat" food lists and recipes. In a sea of cookbooks and how-to's, The Paleo Manifesto stands out as an inspiring and motivational piece of non-fiction that puts the lifestyle into perspective historically, anthropologically, and philosophically.

Divided into three parts that can essentially be viewed as past, present and future, John breaks down the human diet and lifestyle from an evolutionary standpoint. He does not neglect the science, but it is obviously not the focus. He uses it to defend his views on humanity and our place in the world-- how we got here, what we're doing, and where we are going-- as it relates to our health. Paleo is bigger than "eat this, don't eat that," and that is what John is addressing in this book. He touches on everything you can imagine, from traditional Jewish law to exercise to modern day hunting and ties it all together with the same underlying theme-- we were made to live and function a certain way in this world no matter how our environments and habitats may change, and as he so simply puts it, “Nature is the model.”

I was first exposed to the man that is John Durant via podcast, and I have to say he is magnetizing, and his writing is equally so. He's a natural, and the book is fun and easy to read. You connect to him instantly as the author, and therefore trust him from the beginning. You can tell, not only when you hear him speak, but also through his writing that he is passionate about the Paleo lifestyle. He genuinely believes and lives what he preaches. He is also a practical man, and balance is obviously something he believes in as well. Opponents of the Paleo lifestyle like to use straw-man arguments such as, "We can't all live like cavemen today, so this diet is pointless." John directly counters that argument with this book. He proves that there can be a beautiful marriage between contemporary life, and the Paleo lifestyle. The man knows it’s possible, because as a New York City resident, he lives it everyday. When he says it can be done, he means it, and by the time you finish this book you are convinced.

Now, I try to be as objective as possible when reading books. No piece of literature is perfect, so I must take a short reprise from gushing to be practical. There is only one negative thing I could say, and that is I felt the section on the Jewish law was a bit tedious. The point he was making was important, but I felt like he expounded more than was necessary, and the point could have been made more efficiently. While the information will be interesting for those who haven’t had much exposure to the more practical side of the Jewish laws, I think this portion could have been shortened significantly while still fulfilling it’s intended purpose. It was great information, just more than was necessary for the purpose it was serving and so it was a bit of a struggle to get through after a certain point. However, it was the only lull in the entire book, in my opinion. 

Overall, I highly recommend The Paleo Manifesto to anyone striving to live the Paleo lifestyle, or to anyone who may be curious about what Paleo really means. It is inspiring, enlightening, and motivational. Practical, but passionate. It truly is a manifesto for Paleo living, and should have a place of honor in your Paleo library. I personally cannot wait to see what comes next from John Durant!

For more information, and to order The Paleo Manifesto, check out John's website,

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Yankee Girl Gumbo and Cauli Rice

There is no dish which at the same time so tickles the palate, satisfies the appetite, furnished the body with nutriment sufficient to carry on the physical requirements, and costs so little as a Creole Gumbo. It is a dinner in itself, being soup, piece de résistance, entremet and vegetable in one. Healthy, and not heating to the stomach and easy of digestion, it should grace every table.”

William H. Coleman, ‘Historical Sketch Book and Guide to New Orleans and Environs’ (1985)

Let me state up front: I am not from Louisiana. I'm not even from the south. I am a Hoosier. An Indiana girl from my freckles all the way down to my cut-offs and bare feet. A Yankee. I am a southern transplant and I often hear, "Who knew a Yankee could make pecan pie like that?" Sometimes I feel like I need to prove to folks 'round here that a Hoosier can cook more than just corn and flat biscuits!

I may be a Yankee, but I make gumbo. And it's darn good, if I say so myself!

Gumbo is like chili and vegetable soup-- there are many variations, and everyone swears their's is the best. Ask anyone who they think makes the best gumbo and you will get the same answer, "My mama." But if you ask them what's in Mama's gumbo, you will inevitably get a million different responses. There may be a million variations of gumbo, but some things are consistent throughout: Tomatoes, okra, filé, and thickener. Thickener? "Oh, you mean rue,"..."Oh, you mean filé powder,"..."Oh, you mean okra." Yes.

There are a few ways people thicken their gumbo. The most popular, and most authentically Creole, is with a rue. Or, as we Yankees call it-- Gravy without the milk. Traditional gumbo rue is made from flour and bacon grease. It's easy to burn, but full of flavor. Of course, being both Paleo and gluten sensitive, flour is not an option, so I have to rely on other thickeners-- filé, garlic powder, and okra-- and they do a fabulous job of thickening gumbo. 

Now, while I don't make a rue for my gumbo, there is one element of the rue I will not skip out on and that is the bacon grease! We all know that flour doesn't have any real flavor, so all the flavor from the rue comes from the bacon grease. It's just not gumbo without bacon grease to me!

Now, let's talk about meat. I use shrimp. I just prefer a seafood gumbo over chicken or sausage. I've also used a mix of seafood with shrimp, calamari, squid, and scallops. However, chicken or sausage will be delicious with this recipe. If you wish to use one of those, simply brown some chicken before adding it to the pot, or throw in some chopped Paleo friendly smoked sausage!

Let me warn you: You will need a big pot for this-- it can also be done in a crock pot or slow cooker. However, like other soups, gumbo freezes quite well! Simply pour into freezer safe bags and freeze. To thaw, just place the bag of frozen gumbo into a bowl of hot water until thawed, then pour it out and reheat!

Now without further ado...

Yankee Girl Gumbo

For the gumbo...


2, 28 oz cans diced tomatoes (or 6 cups fresh chopped)
3 cups chopped okra (DO NOT de-slime, the slime helps thicken)
2 small yellow onions chopped
2 green peppers chopped
2 liquid cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 liquid cup red wine*
2 Tbs Filé powder (ground sassafras)
1 Tbs garlic powder
1 Tbs dried parsley
1 tsp red pepper (add more for a spicier gumbo)
2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup bacon grease
1 bag pre-cooked deveined shrimp thawed (I use salad shrimp because it's easier for my kiddos, but any kind will do)


In a large pot over medium heat, add all ingredients EXCEPT SHRIMP. Bring to a bubble and turn the heat down a bit. Put a lid on the pot and allow to simmer. You will need to let it simmer until the vegetables are cooked through-- at the minimum. However, the longer it simmers, the thicker and more flavorful it will be!

If you wish to make this more quickly, you can cook the vegetables in the bacon grease and then add all the other ingredients and simmer until heated through. But, don't ask me how I feel about a "quick" gumbo. Wink, wink.

Do not add shrimp until the last 5 minutes of cooking. If you are using fresh shrimp you will need to allow approximately 10 minutes for cooking. The pre-cooked shrimp will only need to be heated through. If it over cooks it will get chewy. NEVER add the shrimp frozen. It will have to cook too long. Also, if you plan to freeze portions, I suggest freezing without the shrimp and then adding some meat when reheating.

For the rice...

Cauli Rice

1 head of fresh cauliflower chopped
1 Tbs bacon grease
salt & pepper


In a food processor or blender, add fresh chopped cauliflower. Pulse until you get the size and shape of rice. In a pan over medium heat melt bacon grease. Add the cauliflower rice to the pan, season with a little salt and pepper, and cook until desired consistency. You can also steam the cauli rice if you wish; however, I am of the opinion that if you can incorporate MORE bacon grease, then do so generously. Wink, wink.

To Plate:

Fill a bowl with some cauli rice and top it with some hot gumbo. Serve with your favorite hot sauce and ENJOY!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Italian Bison Burger with Basil Arugula Pesto and Anchovy Balsamic Reduction on Portobuns

Thrilling flavor with every bite!

I love Italian. I love burgers. So I made this!

When I eat my own recipes I'm highly critical. So much that I don't like eating the recipes I'm planning to post, because I can't just relax and enjoy them! But, this one was different. I took my first bite and could not stop eating!

With sundried tomatoes, arugula, basil and anchovy, this Italian inspired burger will send you reeling!

Italian Bison Burger with Basil Arugula Pesto and Anchovy Balsamic Reduction on Portobuns (serves 4)

Basil Arugula Pesto


2 cups baby arugula
1 cup basil leaves
5 cloves garlic
1/3 cup pine nuts
6 Tbs olive oil
1/4 tsp sea salt
Dash of ground pepper


Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until creamy. If you would like your pesto a bit runnier, you can add more olive oil until you get the consistency you like

Italian Bison Burger


1 lb ground bison
6 cloves garlic crushed
2 tsp anchovy paste (Crown Prince is a very clean brand)
2 Tbs chopped sundried tomatoes (jarred in olive oil)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried parsley
Dash ground pepper
1 egg
Sea salt
1 Tbs ghee (I use OMghee's brand)


Throw everything accept sea salt and ghee into a mixing bowl and mix well with your hands until all ingredients are incorporated. Separate meat mixture into 4 equal sized patties. Sprinkle patties on both sides with salt. In a pan over medium heat melt ghee. Cook patties flipping half-way through cooking. Cook to desired doneness. Remove patties from the pan when done. Save pan & drippings for the balsamic reduction.

Anchovy Balsamic Reduction


1 liquid cup Balsamic vingear
3/4 tsp anchovy paste


In the pan you cooked the burgers in, over medium-low heat, add vinegar and anchovy paste. With a whisk, blend anchovy in well with the vinegar. Allow the liquid to cook until it has reduced by about half. Remove from heat and allow to cool.



8 Portobello mushrooms


Preheat oven to 425*F. Gently clean the mushrooms with a wet paper towel or wet tea towel. Remove stems and gut the mushrooms carefully with a spoon. Grease a cookie sheet lightly with ghee. Place the mushrooms top sides down on the cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes depending on how soft you'd like it. Remove from the oven when done. They will be watery. Use a paper towel to gently pat dry.

To Plate:

Place some fresh arugula on one of the portobuns. Place burger over the arugula and drizzle with pesto and reduction. Garnish with some sun dried tomatoes and anchovy, top with another portobun and ENJOY!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Mediterranean Stuffed Flank Steak

Visions of the Greek Isles will dance in your head with every bite!

I have to admit, I've never been a huge fan of Mediterranean food, mostly because I don't like olives-- GASP! I just never have. Black, green, it doesn't matter. I wanted to make a stuffed flank steak because...well...STEAK. As far as red meat is concerned, flank is definitely a cheaper cut, so it's easy on the budget, making it practical for all of us Paleolithic folks on a budget. Most stuffed flank steaks call for cheese, but I am sensitive to cheese and I wondered if I could get good flavor without it. Enter the mediterranean influence. Steak is not very common in Mediterranean food, but I like to live on the edge.

In an effort to get past my fear of Mediterranean foods, I took a leap of faith and bought some capers. People go on and on about them, but I knew they were somewhat similar to olives so I was a little nervous. However, I knew that if I wanted to do something with mediterranean influence, olives or something similar was going to play a roll. They are such an essential part of what makes Mediterranean foods so unique, and I wanted in on that action!

EUREKA! I love capers!! What a pleasant surprise that was! I immediately set to work on this dish because I was so excited to cook with them!

I have included several ugly pictures to show you the process. I thought that those of you who are knew to stuffing meat might find them helpful, as making your first stuffed flank steak can be a little nerve wrecking. But, DON'T FEAR THE FLANK! It's much easier than you probably think!

This is a dairy free recipe. If you follow a more Primal lifestyle, feel free to add a little goat cheese, or grass fed cheese of choice in there to kick it up a notch. But cheese, or no cheese, this stuffed flank steak will please any audience!

Mediterranean Stuffed Flank Steak


1.5 lb flank steak*
1 cup chopped baby bella mushrooms
4 Tbs red wine**
2 Tbs olive oil
3 c frozen spinach thawed & well strained
1 cup chopped roasted red pepper
4 cloves garlic crushed
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
dash of pepper
1 tsp dried oregano (2 tsp fresh)
2 Tbs capers
3 Tbs ghee (I use OMghee brand)

*You can marinate your steak if you wish. If you choose to do so, I would suggest marinating for at lease 2 hours in olive oil, red wine & crushed garlic

**skip the wine to keep this 21 Day Sugar Detox and Whole 30 friendly.

Tools of the trade:

Cotton butchers/cooking twine-- You can buy some, OR if you ask your butcher nicely while you order your meat, he/she might just gift you some. Ladies, that would be a good time to bat your eyelashes and flip your hair. Boys, if you butcher is female, compliment her hair net, smile and wink.

Sharp knife-- this is for prepping the steak. It needs to be sharp or you will rue the day you decided to do this.

Oven safe skillet (like cast iron)-- This is not necessary, however it will lessen the number of dishes you will need, which is something I strive to do as a busy mom!

Don't fear the flank!

To Prepare The Steak:

You will need to butterfly your flank down the middle to make it thin & long (see pic). You can ask your butcher to do this as well if you wish to save yourself the trouble. If you're doing it yourself, take your sharp knife & slice through the middle almost to the end & lay it out so you have one long flat piece of meat. You will also want to tenderize it. Again, your butcher may be willing to do this. If doing it yourself, simply use the tenderizer side of your kitchen mallet, pound into the meat a little bit. Take care not to demolish it!


Preheat oven to 350*F. Place your oven safe skillet on the stove top over medium heat. Pour in olive oil & wine. Sauté the mushrooms until cooked through. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, mix together mushrooms, spinach, red peppers, garlic, salt, pepper, & oregano with the egg. Spread the filling onto the flat flank steak. Sprinkle the capers over top. Then roll the steak short-ways (see pic). Then, use small pieces of twine to secure the meat in place (see pic). Don't be afraid to tie it up tight!

Cotton candy sweet as gold, let me see your tootsie roll!

Tied up & ready to sear!

Now you will need to sear your steak. Return your oven-safe skillet to the the stove-top over medium high heat. Melt 1 Tbs of ghee & heat until it's hot without smoking. Place rolled steak into pan and use tongs to turn the roll every 1-2 minutes, searing on all sides. Once it is seared on all sides, remove pan from heat. Top the roll with 2 Tbs of ghee, and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Put into the 350*F oven and bake for 45 minutes- 1 hour. Cooking time will depend on how done you want it. 45 minutes will yield a pinker center, an hour will leave a little pink inside. I cooked mine for 1 hour. When finished cooking, remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.

Get in mah belly!!

To Plate:

Serve your Mediterranean Stuffed Flank Steak with a greek inspired salad and a side of cauli mash, and ENJOY!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Paleo & Primal Diets: My quick, but not quick enough for Facebook, answer to the, "It's just a fad," argument

Earlier today on Facebook, I asked what your thoughts are when someone says to you that the Paleo/Primal lifestyle is just a fad. Your responses were all fantastic! Surprisingly, I've never actually been told that to my face-- not that I'm complaining! I think my friends & family don't want to sit through my response, although I know they all think it. I wanted to give my response, but it was just a hair too long-- Okay, way too long. Ha ha!-- for a Facebook post. So...have blog, will expound thoughts.

The Paleo & Primal Diets are just another fad. Here today, gone tomorrow.

Hmmm...that would make perfect sense were man only in existence for, say, the last 40-60 years.

The Paleo diet is based on the idea that what man has been eating since the dawn of our time on earth sustained our species & allowed it to thrive in the severest of conditions. Meat from animals that feed as naturally as possible (i.e. not grains--especially not GMO grains), vegetables, natural (including saturated) fats, roots, tubers, fruits, nuts & raw honey have been the basis of our diet for millennia. Even when we progressed (which might be putting too positive of a spin on it) from hunter/gatherers to herder/farmers, the grains we consumed were usually sprouted or fermented & completely biologically different from modern grains, and the dairy we consumed was raw & from grass fed/pastured animals. 

Now, let's contrast that with what everyone sees as the "not a fad, balanced diet." Low calorie & low fat. According to mainstream health specialists, the government, and the food industry-- who we all know have our best interest in mind (note sarcasm)-- that is the way we should eat. However, the fact is we didn't even know what a calorie was prior to the 1970's, and nobody even dreamed that saturated fat was a problem until Ancel Keys' highly misleading study came out in the 1950's (which is addressed well in this short and sweet video clip from Big Fat Lies). So, from 1950-1970 we started the low calorie/low fat craze. This "not a fad" diet has been around for a whopping 40-60 years, compared to the Paleo diet which has been around for MILLENNIA, and all we have to show for this 40-60 year old "balanced diet" is an INCREASE in heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

So, tell me, how can the Paleo/Primal diets-- diets based on the foods man ate for MILLENNIA-- be a fad, yet a low calorie/low fat diet that has only been around for 60 years, & has yielded very little lasting results, NOT be one? Which is really the fad here? Calling the Paleo diet a fad doesn't make much sense when you look at it that way.

So there you have it. My long, drawn-out response to the, "It's just a fad," argument. 

Have you ever been challenged with the fad diet argument? What has your response been?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Sweet & Sour Mustard Chicken

Plate me up baby! Sweet & Sour Mustard Chicken.

Check point chicky.

Don't ask my why, but for some reason Dear Husband started calling chicken "check point chicky" to garner excitement about chicken with my children. This is, of course, is a "Daddy-O Thing," so Mommy is not allowed to say it. I don't know if it's because of the fancy name or not, but my kids love chicken. They would eat it everyday if they could, so I'm always trying to find new and exciting ways to prepare it. One of their favorites is Laura's Zingy Chicken, a recipe I made as a guest post for Jess at Nummy For My Tummy. It's a favorite not only with my family, but with my followers as well! So, if you're looking for great chicken recipes, file that one away!

And, hey! While you're filing, go ahead and add this one to your chicken file as well because my family DEVOURED it! The name is self explanatory. It takes the idea of sweet mustard chicken to a whole 'notha level!

Sweet & Sour Mustard Chicken


4 chicken leg quarters (could also use breasts if you wish)
1 can full fat coconut milk
5 tsp dried mustard
1 Tbs onion powder
1 Tbs garlic powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbs fresh thyme (1/2 Tbs dried) + more for extra sprinkling & garnish
3 Tbs raw honey
1/4 cup Dijon (I love Whole Food's brand-- great paleo friendly ingredients)
1/2 liquid cup apple cider vinegar

Bake away my pretties


Preheat oven to 375*F. In a sauce pan over medium heat pour milk. Add and whisk well seasonings & thyme. Add honey & dijon. Continue whisking until honey & dijon are well blended. Whisk until liquid starts to bubble. Allow liquid to reduce until it thickens. Once thickened, remove from heat. Pour & whisk in apple cider vinegar. Dish out 3/4 cup of sauce & set aside for topping.

Coat the bottom of an oven safe baking dish (I used my cast iron skillet) with a little bit of the sauce. Place chicken in pan. Pour the remaining sauce over chicken. Top with a few sprinkles of fresh thyme & bake. You will bake the chicken until the it reaches an internal temperature of 160*F (approximately 30 minutes). Chicken should be 165*F to be safe. For chicken quarters, place the meat thermometer in the fleshy part where the leg meets the thigh (Whoa! Sounds saucy doesn't it? Wink, wink). It will continue to cook after you remove it from the oven. I basted the chicken twice with the sauce during the cooking process. This just ensures a good coating of sauce on the chicken. Once done, remove chicken from oven and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes.

Tip: Use a meat thermometer-- not time-- for determining doneness of meat. If you are eating Paleo, I highly recommend investing in a decent meat thermometer. They are not expensive at all. Temperature reading is so much more accurate, and is a huge help in avoiding over or under-cooked meat. Always remove meat at 5* away from final desired temp as it will continue to cook as it is resting.

To Plate:

I placed my chicken on simple bed of steamed kale. It would also be delicious paired with steamed or wilted mustard greens. Top the chicken with some of the extra sauce. Garnish with some fresh thyme & ENJOY!

Pairs perfectly with wilted or steamed kale or mustard greens!