Paleo dinner of beef and vegetable rolls

Paleo dinner of beef and vegetable rolls

My brother and several of my CrossFit friends are doing the 30-day Paleo Challenge that kicks off this weekend. More power to them; I don’t want to work that hard eliminating food groups from meal planning. But I realized that, with many gluten-free friends joining us for dinner, many of the meals I prepare for them are actually paleo as well, albeit by accident. Here’s one of my all-time favorite dinner party entrees. You can mix up the veggies and prepare it all well in advance. This is a very simple dish of thinly sliced beef sirloin wrapped around a medley of crunchy vegetables and aromatic herbs that was inspired by the shabu shabu meals LL has eaten in Japan and of which he is fond. It’s taken a few tries to get it right. The first time I ended up with 1/4″ thick slices of ribeye, tasty but unwieldy for this kind of dish. I didn’t realize that real shabu shabu, the kind you find at a Japanese butcher, is sliced almost prosciutto-thin. I’ve learned to ask the butcher use top sirloin and have him slice thinly just like raw roast beef. More marbled cuts of beef tend to fall apart. I lay the slices on a cutting board and sprinkle with garlic and onion powders. Then I layer baby greens – this is a blend of spinach, arugula, and green leaf lettuce – blanched asparagus, shredded carrots, and bean sprouts.   Gently roll each piece of meat around the veggies. I made a big pile for a party: Brush with olive oil and oven roast at 425 degrees F for about...
Thomas’ zesty flavored oyster crackers

Thomas’ zesty flavored oyster crackers

Today I am thrilled to share a blog post from my nine and a half-year old nephew, Thomas. Even though we don’t live nearby, Thomas has spent quite a few vacations with us in Santa Cruz, from a fussy babyhood through a giggling Spongebob Squarepants-dom to the Renaissance child he has grown to be. Thomas loves to read, plays the piano, is working toward black belt, and can sing a mean Lady Gaga cover. Recently he’s started a computer recycling business too, so watch out world! He’s been learning to cook and is here to share a recipe with us. Enjoy! Hi, I’m Thomas, Maggie’s favorite nephew. [Ed. note: nice try, Thomas, but I think your brother and cousins would like to be favorites, too!] I’ve been taking cooking classes. I have delicious recipes for you. Now, oyster crackers may not seem appetizing but they are. I got this recipe from my grandma. If you want to make it make sure to read the recipe because it is not just a oyster on a cracker.   Ingredients: ¾ c. salad oil (olive oil) 1 envelope (1.0 oz.)  Hidden valley ranch original ½ t. dill weed ¼ t. lemon pepper ¼ t. garlic powder 12 – 16 oz. plain oyster crackers Instructions: Whisk together first five ingredients. Mix with crackers. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 275 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes. The first time I made these my grandma told me to mix the lemon pepper and the garlic power in a separate bowl because the garlic power clumps together. Plus, once you put the garlic powder in the...
Fast, hearty, and delicious chicken, leek, and artichoke penne

Fast, hearty, and delicious chicken, leek, and artichoke penne

Oh. My. Gosh. This improvised dinner that was absolutely, fabulously divine, with a hint of earthiness from the mushrooms, flavor from the leeks, and brightness from the artichoke hearts all coming together to coat the penne with love and delicioiusness. It’s easy to make, with a simple broth of just artichoke water, butter, and olive oil thickened with a bit of flour. Read on!

Curried celery root soup

Curried celery root soup

A fabulous warming winter root vegetable soup recipe with celeriac and curry – my delicious and divine interpretation of a Nepenthe soup. Easily adaptable to a vegetarian diet and completely gluten-free. Enjoy! Click through for recipe and photos.

Herb and nasturtium biscuits à la Julia Child

Herb and nasturtium biscuits à la Julia Child

Cooking with flowers – this is one of my 2013 New Year’s resolutions, so I couldn’t resist sneaking nasturtium petals into Julia Child’s herb biscuits this morning. Her classic recipe produces light, flaky biscuits, and the addition lemon pepper and spicy nasturtium petals add extra zing. Lovely at brunch with scrambled egg or at dinner with curried celery root soup. Click through for the recipe.

Meatless Monday: Potato leek soup with a twist

Meatless Monday: Potato leek soup with a twist

Fennel and artichoke hearts add an earthy twist to Julia Child’s excellent potato leek soup – a quick entree I learned to make forever ago from her Mastering the Art of French Cooking. In addition to 2 large chopped leeks – white part only –  and 2 pounds peeled and chopped russet potatoes, just add 1 large chopped fennel bulb and 1 can water-packed artichoke hearts to your pot. I discard the feathery fennel tops and thinly slice the bulbs. Use these often in your soups – they hold up nicely in a stew, puree well, and add a hind of licorice along with a boost of fiber and potassium to your meals. The rest of a proverbial piece of cake. Just barely cover with water, add a pinch of paprika and lots and lots of freshly ground lemon pepper. Simmer until it’s all tender, about 30 – 40 minutes. It will look like this: Use a hand blender to puree, and you end up with a nice thick warming entree. Add butter and salt at your pleasure and discretion. Serve in warm bowls with a fresh baguette and warm radishes. Go crazy and top with a bit of sour cream and crispy prosciutto if you like....

Leftover rotisserie chicken stock

You probably pick up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store every now and then if you don’t roast your own. I do, probably once every two weeks or so, and make stock from the leftover carcass. It’s an easy way to always have homemade chicken stock on hand – plus, I like the idea of using the entire animal for nourishment. This is my recipe. It is infinitely variable, so please don’t worry about proper herbs or exact measurements. Just don’t add salt. This is an ingredient, not a finished soup, and you can adjust the seasoning later on. If you refrigerate this instead of freezing, you may notice it looks like Jell-o. If so, congratulations! You’ve made a perfect, luscious, extra-rich, nutrient-filled chicken stock. Leftover rotisserie chicken stock   Save Print Cook time 1 hour Total time 1 hour   Simple way to make chicken stock from leftovers Author: Life in a Skillet Recipe type: soup Ingredients 1 leftover rotisserie chicken or roasted chicken carcass 2 carrots, quartered lengthwise 2 ribs celery, quartered lengthwise 1 medium onion, quartered 1 tbsp black pepper 1 bay leaf 1 tsp fresh chopped Italian oregano 1 tsp fresh chopped thyme Instructions Place ingredients in a stockpot and add 2 quarts of water. Bring JUST to a boil. Immediately, reduce heat to simmer and cover. Simmer for 45 minutes. Strain. When cool, measure into 8- or 16-ounce canning jars and freeze. Notes Substitution notes: 1 tsp hot curry powder and a 1" chunk of ginger root for the thyme, oregano, and bay leaf makes a flavorful stock with an Asian flair. Other good...
Sliced buttered radishes

Sliced buttered radishes

We’ve been on a warm buttered radish kick lately, serving them up every couple of days on top of a slice of fresh baguette and topped with a bit of crunchy green salad. Mmmm. If you’ve never tried these, give it a go. . . it’s the simplest side dish you’ll ever make: Sliced buttered radishes   Save Print Serve these warm, spicy, buttery radishes with a fresh baguette. Author: Life in a Skillet Recipe type: salad, side dish Ingredients 1 bunch fresh radishes 1 tbsp unsalted butter 1 tsp sea salt Instructions Wash and trim the radishes. Slice into thin circles. Arrange on a microwave-safe plate. Top with 1 tbsp butter. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Sprinkle with salt and serve. Wordpress Recipe Plugin by EasyRecipe 3.1.09...

Oatmeal recipe contest from Bob’s Red Mill

Have you ever heard of a spurtle? I had not but am probably in the minority; it’s a traditional Scottish kitchen gadget, a wooden stick used for stirring pots of oatmeal or flipping oatcakes, aka the porridge stick. I’ve also learned there a rich spurtle lore – try saying that 3 times fast! – with traditions and superstitions dating back to Renaissance Scotland. You probably didn’t know that porridge should is properly referred to as “they” and should only be stirred clockwise with the right hand so as not to “evoke the Devil,” did you? I love this stuff. I’ve even been looking at spurtles online; the hand-carved ones are pretty, like rolling pins. Here are a few from Orkcrafts: Spurtles came to my attention recently after receiving a nice email from the folks at Bob’s Red Mill telling me about their second annual Spar for the Spurtle contest – a wonderfully goofy name for a very serious porridge contest with some pretty big stakes . . . the winner gets an all-expense paid trip to Scotland to participate in this year’s in the Golden Spurtle competition. Since I do love their products, I decided to pass the news along. All you have to do is submit a short video of you making your own recipe, using oatmeal, by July 20. Click here for rules, guidelines, and entry information. Just be sure to comment below, email me, or tweet to let me know you’ve entered, and Bob’s Red Mill will send you a goody bag for participating. And no, this isn’t about making the perfect bowl of oatmeal. Here’s a photo of...
Quick and easy summer appetizer

Quick and easy summer appetizer

Need a dressy appetizer for a summer potluck? Here’s a ridiculously fast and delicious dish to throw together: shrimp and avocado salsa. There’s no cooking involved, so it’s perfect for the heat of a summer kitchen . . . but save it for the indoor parties, since it’s got to stay cold. I originally threw this together only because some out of town friends surprised us at dinnertime. I had a handful of bay shrimp I’d forgotten to add to our Cobb salads the night before, and since I always want to to use seafood within a day or two of purchase, I took advantage of a “use it or lose it” moment. The richness and sweetness of the shrimp and avocado complement each other nicely, and the extra citrus and pepper add the necessary zing. I threw this all together and just served it with a bowl of tortilla chips. Leftovers the next night were perfect in a choppy green salad. This would also be great tossed into an omelet.   Here are the proportions I used: Shrimp and avocado salsa   Save Print A quick and super-easy appetizer. Author: Life in a Skillet Recipe type: appetiser Ingredients 2 cups pico de gallo (I buy it fresh and cold in the produce section) ¼ lb bay shrimp (I buy these already cleaned and cooked at the fish counter) 1 large avocado, cut into small cubes juice of 2 limes (or other citrus as you see fit) freshly ground pepper Instructions All you need to do is rinse the shrimp and toss them on a glass serving bowl with the...

Taste memory of Loreto: pineapple and jalapeño salsa

“If we’re in Mexico, does the menu really have to say Mexican food?” This from my very astute Kid Two while reading the offerings at Loreto’s La Palapa, a tourist destination-type restaurant conveniently situated between the ocean and the town square. I had a few menu questions of my own, like why are the chicken fajitas and chicken in mole sauce listed under “Fowls” instead of included with the Mexican offerings? And in that spirit, shouldn’t the beef shish kabob have been more properly labeled as “Turkish” instead of under “Meats?” And why didn’t they get someone to spell-check the English translations? – “garlinc” “snaper” and “chesse” all snuck by, preserved forever under laminating paper.   La Palapa was highly recommended by the expat sitting next to me on the plane, a golf-playing blonde of a certain age on her way back from taking care of some business back in Portland. I can picture her there – sunburned nose on a hot summer night, a table with a pitcher of margaritas and her three best friends – a reliable spot to laugh a lot and sing a little, a place to start the night with fresh ceviche and guacamole and end it with a couple of tacos and a plate of fries to soak up the booze. Anyway . . . I’m being a little snarky, but I get why people like the place. It’s got energy – mariachi music, splashed with color, and an awesome kitschy thatched palm roof – and the food was fresh and perfectly fine. It has to be tricky, trying to stay in business by catering to the whims...
Corn and Poblano Chowder Recipe

Corn and Poblano Chowder Recipe

“Rich, rich, rich, pale green with teeny tiny flecks of carrot and a perfect corn, cream, poblano balance” – that’s what I jotted down about el Papagayo’s crema de elote y poblano – cream of corn and poblano. Of all the wonderful food we ate in Loreto, this is the one I was most interested in recreating as a family meal. It was served topped with fresh diced tomato and had a few discernible corn kernels, but was mostly a lovely, velvety, pureed soup.   I thought it would be nice to recreate as a chowder, but my first try was much more hot mess than chowdery goodness. The first mistake: cutting my carrots and potatoes into stew-size chunks instead of soup-sized nibbles. The biggest mistake: simmering corn on the cob with seeded poblano peppers to make what I thought would be a tasty green pepper-infused corn stock. Fail. Big time. Since I didn’t char the poblano first, the broth was WAY too spicy, and not in a “good burn after the bite” sort of way, just in a “I just bit into a poblano” bitter spice sort of way. Because of the strong raw pepper taste, the corn was lost along with any depth of flavor. Plus, it still wasn’t green. Sadly, though, I’d already added two cups of the mixture to a sautéed onion, celery, and carrot base, so I carried on, simmering the corn cobs in the soup to boost the corn flavor. Then the cobs started to disintegrate, leaving tiny corn kernel casings in the soup. Grrr. I gave up on trying to infuse any more corn taste...

Ollalie-peary jam

The sweet, juicy ollalieberry – hybridized grandchild of the blackberry, raspberry, and dewberry vines – resembling like a knobby oversized version of its forerunners, growing best in tangled brambles along the foggy California coast. Here in Santa Cruz, ollalieberry muffins and pies abound during the all-too-short six week summer harvesting season. Happily, a local grower – Gizdich Ranch freezes enough 4-pound bags of the succulent fruit to keep aficionados with a taste of summer during these bleaker months. I had planned on making ollalieberry jam for my Christmas goodie bags but wanted to kick it up the proverbial notch from a sweet jelly to something a little more spicy and elegant, and I literally woke up one morning thinking, I know! I’ll add pear! and cardamom! It will be great! I did, and it was. It’s plenty sweet, even with half as much sugar as I found in other recipes, and the fruit pairs really well with cardamom’s heady, spicy-sweet taste. Here it is for you to try, my improvised recipe for ollalieberry-pear jam. Ollalie-peary jam 7 cups frozen ollalieberries, thawed 5 cups peeled, cored, and chopped pears 3 cups water 1 tsp cardamom 1 package pectin While berries are thawing, peel, core, and cube the pears. I made the mistake of simmering them in water thinking they would soften sufficiently; the best thing to do at this step is to puree them if you’d like a smooth jam or chop them into smaller chunks if you’d like your jam a bit chunkier. I opted for smooth jam. Place your berries, pears, and water into a Dutch oven. Bring...