Bolognese (aka Meat Sauce)

When you’re marrying an Italian man (who has more Irish than Italian but who am I to question his ethnic claim?), there’s a few things you need to quickly add to your repertoire. The first being a tasty marinara. The second being a bolognese. The third is the caveat that both must taste authentic and the way his Italian grandmother makes them.

Just breathe.

No pressure.

It’s only his childhood memories that I’m up against.

Thankfully, he was willing to share a few of their secrets to help me improve what I thought was already a pretty good sauce. The below is what he and I have since concocted and perfected. I serve it over my Brussels Sprouts Braised with Mustard because when you’re paleo, you discover that traditional foods don’t necessarily have to be eaten traditionally. This also tastes fantastic with zoodles (zucchini noodles) and spaghetti squash. And when we really feel like splurging, over paleo noodles. Because sometimes you just want a noodle.

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Cinnamon might not be a common ingredient by American standards, but adding it gives the sauce a sweet flavor and doesn’t add to the sugar content. Growing up, we would use brown sugar to cut the acid and give the sauce sweeter undertones. The cinnamon does the same, all the while keeping it sugar-detox approved. Also, for the tomatoes, I process mine in the summer and freeze them at the peak of ripeness. And by process, I mean I throw mine in the Ninja for a few seconds and that’s it! Into the freezer they go! Until I decide that I’m craving a slow-cooked Bolognese. If you don’t have frozen tomatoes, fresh work, too – just make sure you adjust your cooking time and add an hour or two. Or, you can use two cans of 28-oz BPA-free organic diced tomato such as the Muir Glenn brand. (Which thankfully WinCo carries and is super cheap for all of you Pacific Northwesterners.)

Enjoy!

Bolognese

  • 1 lb pasture-raised organic ground pork
  • 3 tsp Mild Italian Sausage Seasoning 
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 quarts fresh organic diced tomatoes, with their juice – use a medley of Romas and juicier tomatoes
  • ¼ cup organic non-BPA lined tomato paste
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a mixing bowl, combine spice mix and ground pork (or just use 1 lb pork sausage if you can find a good source with no added sugar). Set aside for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat a medium-sized dutch oven, over medium heat, cook the pork until slightly browned, stirring often and breaking up the larger pieces. Remove pork from dutch oven and set aside, keeping the fat at the bottom of the pan.
  3. Add the onion and ghee to the sausage fat and continue to cook until translucent. Add garlic and saute until lightly golden and very aromatic.
  4. Dump in the tomatoes, juices and all, and the tomato paste. Add the spices and stir. 
  5. Reduce heat to low and put a lid slightly on. Simmer, stirring often, for 3 hours. After two hours, add the meat and continue simmering. 
  6. Serve warm! And just like most Italian recipes, this makes enough to feed the whole Roman army!

Caramelized Onion and Gorgonzola Frittata

I made this frittata for Mother’s Day and it was a hit – except for the 11 year old who doesn’t like stinky cheese and my sister’s 24 year old boyfriend… who also doesn’t like stinky cheese. Haters gonna hate.

The frittata is a spin-off of a great restaurant here in Portland that is renowned for their weekend brunches. In fact, it’s usually an hour wait minimum on the weekends. Ouch, right? But in all seriousness, we love our brunch in Portland. So much so that they made a Portlandia skit about us.

So yea. Apparently we’ll do just about anything to get to a good brunch place.

Okay, so this frittata. It’s so easy. As are most frittatas. The main specialty item you will need is a well-seasoned cast iron pan (which should be a staple in any kitchen anyway) or a skillet that can go in the oven.

Choosing a mild Gorgonzola is key. It’s a stinky cheese and can easily overpower other flavors. I talked to the cheese counter dude at the local cheese shop… okay. New Seasons. I talked to the guy at New Seasons. I’m not that fancy, even though there are some FANTASTIC cheese shops in the Portland area. But, cheese people – they know their cheese. Tell them you’re making a frittata and want something mild that won’t magnify in the oven. They’ll know exactly which cheese to set you up with. If they don’t, find a new cheese guy. 🙂 If you’re doing level 3 of the 21 Day Sugar Detox, omit the cheese and also omit if you’re dairy free.

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Finally, make sure you don’t toss your excess butter – by the time you’re done caramelizing the onions, it will be infused with onion goodness. It’s what makes this dish fantastic – that and the bacon and cheese.

Here goes!

Caramelized Onion and Gorgonzola Frittata

  • 2 onions, cut in half and thinly sliced into “half moons”
  • ½ cup organic grass-fed salted butter
  • 1 dozen pasture-raised eggs, beaten
  • 4 strips bacon, minced and cooked
  • ½ cup Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled (or any mild bleu cheese)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (wait until onions are almost done, it could take a while).
  2. In an 8" (or wider if your skillet is shallow) cast iron skillet, and over medium-low heat, melt the ½ cup of butter. Add onions and saute until onions are caramelized (see link if you need a great how-to from The Kitchn).
  3. Remove onions and set aside, being careful to keep as much of the butter as you can in the pan. Swirl the butter around so it coats the bottom and all of the sides of the pan.
  4. While pan is hot, pour in beaten eggs. “Sprinkle” carmelized onions, bacon and crumbled Gorgonzola on top.
  5. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  6. Place in the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until a knife in the middle comes out clean.
  7. Set aside and allow the eggs to set. Cut like a pie and serve warm.

Meatloaf!

No, I’m not talking about the rocker-turned-famous-ballad-singer who’s music video is five parts creepy and three parts even creepier.

I’m talking about stick to your ribs meatloaf.

The American classic. And the thing of many jokes.

I decided to make meatloaf before I knew it was going to be 75 here in Portland over the next few days. Had I known, I would have turned the two pounds of ground beef I pulled out of my freezer into taco meat or hamburgers to be served in a lettuce wrap. As it stands, meatloaf isn’t all that bad and I’ll probably crumble it up and serve it on salad (because it’s 75…. and that’s warm for this area).

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Good thing this meatloaf is fantastic and super easy. I even gave my roommate a sample (she really has the best job ever of being my taste tester… except for when things don’t work out) and she said it was fantastic. And then went back for an even bigger second sample. So, here ya go. Super easy meatloaf – that’s bread/gluten/grain free and full of whole foods goodness!

Note: when buying sausage, make sure you check for additives. A lot of prepared meats will have extra stuff in it that’s not good (gluten and sugar are a big one). Talk with your butcher about what goes in it. A safe store to buy from is Whole Foods – their corporate recipe for Italian sausage is good, with no added crud.

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Meatloaf

  • 2 pounds grass-fed beef
  • ½ pound pasture-raised mild Italian pork sausage <OR> ½ pound pasture-raised ground pork and 1 ½ tsp Mild Italian Sausage Seasoning
  • 2 pasture-raised, soy and corn-free eggs
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 heaping tbsp Lacto-Fermented Ketchup
  • 1 tsp ground mustard powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp fresh ground pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. With clean hands, mix two types of meat in a large bowl.
  3. Add onions, egg and coconut flour and continue to mix the meat.
  4. Add ketchup and spices and mix.
  5. Pour into a loaf pan and pat until the surface is even.
  6. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
  7. Remove from oven and let sit for a few minutes, allowing juices to settle. Serve hot.

Taco Seasoning Mix

I recently purchased a bunch of grass-fed beef and the cow is in process so… I have to clean out my freezer. Which means I eat my older beef as quickly as possible. Makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? This morning it was taco meat. I ate it with some scrambled eggs and guacamole for a delish high-fat/high-calorie meal (it’s cold, windy and rainy over here in Western Oregon). I guess you could say I’m jonesing for more tropical climates… or San Diego. Which ever is cheapest.

Okay. So, here’s my super easy recipe. I make a whole bunch of it up at once and buy my spices organic and in bulk. There are probably places that you can do this from wherever you live. Here in Portland, we have Bob’s Red Mill over in Milwaukie. They have bulk organic spices and really reasonable prices. I buy my own spice jars and have cute labels. Heck. I even alphabetize my spices. Don’t judge me. You know you do it, too. First and second letter. I need a life. 😛

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Okay, so once I’ve made a mega batch of taco seasoning mix, I dump it in a half-pint mason jar and put a lid on it. I mark on the lid my ratio – 1 ½ tbsp mix (sometimes I feel like having a bit more zip and throw a bit more in) to a half cup of water. Below is the recipe for a single batch and is for a pound of beef. If cooking more beef, simply double, triple, etc the recipe. When I make my large quantities, I usually make 6 batches at once – those are included in the parenthesis. Enjoy!

Taco Seasoning Mix

  • 1 tbsp chili powder (6 tbsp)
  • 2 tsp dried minced onion (4 tbsp)
  • 1 tsp sea salt (2 tbsp)
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cumin (3 tbsp)
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes (1 tbsp)
  • 1/8 – ¼ tsp cayenne pepper (¾ tsp to 1 ½ tsp)
  • ¼ tsp dried oregano (1 ½ tsp)
  1. Mix the seasoning and seal in a air-tight container.

To make taco meat:

  • 3 tbsp taco seasoning mix (may be a bit scant if you are using less cayenne pepper)
  • 1 pound lean, grass-fed organic ground beef
  • ½ cup water
  1. Brown 1 lb beef in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Drain fat if desired. (I leave it in, personally.)
  2. Toss in taco seasoning mix and water and stir until incorporated.
  3. Simmer on medium-low until water is evaporated.
  4. Serve immediately.

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Note: I included the tag for nightshade-free because spices affect most people differently than the actual fruit or vegetable. If you are still sensitive to peppers and this includes spices, disregard this recipe.

Roasted Cabbage

So I started writing this while I was in the throes of my new diet and decided to not edit what I had written before. I’m feeling much better, but I had zero energy… which is why I didn’t finish a single blog post. Any ideas of grandeur and working out were kicked to the curb and instead, my life consisted of working, eating (barely anything – I felt like I had the flu) and sleeping like Rip Van Winkle. Now on to the original blog post…

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My naturopath has me on a new diet… and it zapped my energy times a million until today. I might even get a short run in. Thankfully, this one is a 10 day crash course and then I can start getting back to normal. And by “normal,“ I mean a less-restricted paleo. In the meantime, no bacon (WHAT?!), no vinegar (HECK NO!!!) and no fruit/chocolate/wine/decaf coffee/hard cider/gluten-free beer/honey/paleo brownies/coconut milk ice cream/all things that bring my life joy.

So. You’re probably wondering, “What CAN she eat?” I’m glad you asked. Meat. As long as it’s not pork or bacon. And green leafy veggies. Like arugula, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini and cabbage. And nuts/nut butters/coconut oil/coconut butter/olive oil. And really, that’s about it. Sounds daunting, doesn’t it? It’s mostly paleo. But I love to make my own salad dressings… and they have vinegar. Or I’ll have half an avocado with my breakfast – and that’s off the list. And no eggs. None. So… what does one eat for breakfast if there are no eggs and bacon? Today it looked like a few cucumbers and a handful of almonds. I need to figure this thing out. Luckily, it’s only a week and a half to two weeks. And thankfully, lunch was easy to figure out – roasted chicken breast (salt and peppered) and roasted cabbage (hoping the doc says that roasting veggies is okay otherwise, I’m just going to get a nasogastric tube for the rest of this time). Anyway, done complaining. I hope you enjoy the roasted cabbage as much as I do!

Roasted Cabbage

  • 1 head of cabbage, outside leaves removed, rinsed, and sliced ¾-1" thick
  • 2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 10 peppercorns
  • Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a piece of parchment paper on a jellyroll pan (cookie sheet with sides).
  2. Pour enough EVOO on the parchment to spread evenly on the parchment paper.
  3. Using a mortar and pestle (or something that will smash up the spices), smash up the spices and set aside.
  4. Sprinkle half of the spice mix on the pan and lay the cabbage in a single layer on the pan and sprinkle with the remaining spice mix on top.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve hot.

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Adobo Sweet Potato Fries

I had you at sweet potato, didn’t I? If there is one vegetable that I can binge on, and really, there are many, it would be a sweet potato. I mean, seriously. They’re glorious. I’ve been on a sweet and spicy kick lately and have been craving chocolate with cayenne peppers or sweet and spicy chicken (I really need to paleo-ize that) or… you get my drift.

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Just a quick note: Sweet Potatoes aren’t part of the Dirty Dozen. In fact, they’re really low on the pesticide scale so you don’t have to buy organic. (And the Environmental Working Group, link above, has a great app you can download on your smartphone to help you remember!) They are not a GMO product so feel free to save a few dollars and buy conventional on this one.

Also, I make my own adobo seasoning blend and use it in just about everything. I’ll make it in large batches and store it in a pint sized mason jar with the ingredients and measurements written on the lid. The recipe for the adobo seasoning is below.

Enjoy!

Adobo Sweet Potato Fries

  • 5 small Sweet Potatoes, scrubbed and de-eyed, sliced into thin strips (no more than 1/2” x 1/2”)
  • 2-3 tbsp Adobo Seasoning (see below for seasoning mix)
  • 3 tbsp Coconut Oil, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and place a sheet of parchment paper onto a jellyroll pan.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the sweet potato strips, coconut oil and 2 tbsp adobo seasoning until well coated.
  3. Lay out in a single layer on the prepared pan and toss with the remaining adobo seasoning – or as much as you see fit.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes, remove pan from oven and toss, and bake for another 10 minutes or until desired.

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Adobo Seasoning

  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ¾ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp chili powder

Mix together and store in a sealed container (I use a mini mason jar or a clean and empty spice jar).

Paleo Pumpkin Bread

I don’t know why I have been craving pumpkin bread lately but I have. Some things are better unargued and simply embraced. So when this morning was surprisingly cool at the homeplace, I decided YOLO. Why not. Why not make paleo pumpkin bread (and get rid of that last can of organic pumpkin puree gracing my shelf)? And now you know the real reason I wanted to make pumpkin bread is out and in the open.

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No matter, it had to be done – Autumn will be here before you know it and I’ll be really really craving pumpkin bread… to go along with my pumpkin spice rooibos tea. And pumpkin orange scarf. While carving pumpkins. AND back to summer. Okay. I’m going to get my summer on – I hope you all enjoy this deliciousness!

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Paleo Pumpkin Bread

  • 1 cup Pumpkin Puree – either fresh or canned, organic
  • 5 Eggs, beaten
  • 1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Coconut Oil, melted
  • ¼ cup Raw Honey
  • ½ cup Coconut Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ¾ tsp ground allspice
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Rub coconut oil (not included in the 2 tbsp) or spray coconut oil cooking spray (from Trader Joe’s) on a metal loaf pan.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat wet ingredients together until well blended using either a mixer or a wooden spoon.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients and mix.
  4. Fold dry ingredients into the wet and stir until incorporated.
  5. Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake for 30-40 minutes, test for doneness with a toothpick, which should come out of the middle clean.
  6. Remove from pan when slightly cooled and place on cooling rack.
  7. Enjoy with organic sweet cream butter. And go back for another slice.