Thursday, January 30, 2014

Apple Cider Glazed Pork Chops

Geesh, pork chops can have a lot of issues. I haven't had much luck with pork chops - they tend to turn out dry and/or tough. Pork is often pretty lean, leading it dry out sooner. And some of this has to do with people following the old temperature guidelines for pork. The new safe temperature for pork is now 145*F. And keep in mind that the internal temp rises upon resting, so take it out a bit sooner! 

Anyway, I pretty much high fived myself after this dish turned out perfectly! More like a double high five because these chops were almost two inches thick and I was actually a bit worried that they wouldn't cook through properly. After all that high fiving, I decided to immediately hop on over to the blog and share my success.

Oh, and bonus - these are paleo. :)

Apple Cider Glazed Pork Chops 
adapted from

2 thick-cut boneless pork chops
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon ghee
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 cup apple cider
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon arrowroot powder
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
salt and black pepper

1. Season both side of the pork chops with salt and pepper.
2. Heat the olive oil and ghee in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add the pork chops and cooks 5 to 7 minutes per side, or until internal temperature is around 135*-140*. Remove to plate to rest.
3. Toss garlic into the pan and saute 30 seconds.  Add the apple cider vinegar and deglaze the pan. Whisk in apple cider, Dijon mustard, and arrowroot powder. Allow everything to simmer until it starts to thicken up, maybe 7 to 10 minutes. 
4. Stir in the rosemary and crushed red pepper. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
5. Throw the chops back into the mix for another minute or two to rewarm and serve.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Paleo Hot Chocolate

Sometimes I'm really good at sticking to eating paleo. During the week, I try very hard to stick to it but cravings sometimes get the best of me. And that's when paleo treats come in handy! 

This paleoized version of hot chocolate isn't exactly like the real thing but it makes a darn decent substitute. As written, its pretty thick, so I would add a splash or two of extra water or coconut milk if you like a thinner consistency. And I'd imagine that paleo whipped cream would be fantastic on this! ;)

Paleo Hot Chocolate
adapted from Paleoliscious 

1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup water 
1 ripe banana
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Bring the coconut milk and water to a boil in a small saucepan. Turn off heat.
2. Mash banana with a fork and add to saucepan.
3. Add cocoa powder and vanilla to saucepan.
4. Blend with a stick blender until smooth.
5. Pour into a mug and enjoy!

Makes 1 mug.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Sausage-Pumpkin Soup

I'm a huge soup fan. Always have been. There are few things better on the table than a steaming bowl of soup. I'll eat it year-round, even in the sticky heat of summer. However, my babe has never been a soup eater. The occasional bowl of French onion notwithstanding, he just doesn't eat soup. Imagine my heartbreak... ;)

But slowly, slowly he may be changing his tune. (Crossing my fingers haha.) He was the one that discovered this soup and what a great find. It uses some of my favorite ingredients - sausage and pumpkin. Oh, and it is paleo. I'm in!

Just have to say: this soup is no beauty queen. Given my lack of photography skills, I still can't believe I made this bowl look this great!

Sausage-Pumpkin Soup
adapted from Caveman Food

1.25 pounds sausage*
2 tablespoons ghee, coconut oil, or olive oil
1/2 large yellow onion, minced
15 ounce can pure pumpkin
4 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon paprika
pinch of dry rosemary
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
salt and black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup canned coconut milk

1. Slice the sausage into rounds. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat and saute the sausage until browned. Remove and set aside.
2. In same pot, melt the ghee and saute the onion until golden. Add the pumpkin and chicken stock and simmer about 10 minutes or until onions are soft. Remove from heat. Puree mixture using a stick blender. Return to heat.
3. Add the sausage back in and all remaining ingredients except coconut milk. Simmer for 20 minutes.
4. Remove from heat and stir in coconut milk.

*Note: We use Niman Ranch Apple-Cinnamon breakfast sausage from Whole Foods, amazing! If you can find them, use em - trust me! Otherwise, the original recipe called for 1.25 pounds of bulk breakfast sausage. If you're paleo, just be sure to read the ingredients first. :)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Spill It Sunday: Music

I kept saying to myself that I'm going to join in on one of Arman's Spill It Sundays but had yet to follow through. But this week I just had to finally get off my butt and do it because the theme was music! Not 100% sure that I'm doing this correctly but ah well, I'm here anyway. [Edited to add: Yeah, I definitely just noticed everyone else was answering the same questions. Whoops! My bad. Went a bit off the rails over here haha.]

So, I'm a total rock n roll girl.  Aside from the really strange death metal, I pretty much like it all.

But my absolute favorite is 80s hair metal. Yep, I was born smack dab in the middle of the 80s but no matter. Through a couple VH1 countdown shows when I was younger, I discovered the bigger hair bands - Def Leppard, Ratt, Motley Crue. Started listening and loving them. Dug a little deeper and found myself  forever lost in a fog of Aquanet and spandex...and I'm more than okay with that. \m/

Aside from my hair obsession, my other favorites are Alice Cooper and Ozzy. They are basically rock gods and shall be treated as such.

Guitar Center Hollywood's Rockwalk of Fame, 2008

My favorite song is Ozzy's "Crazy Train." It never, ever, ever gets old.

But I go through wicked phases where certain songs will get played again and again for awhile. A few of those recent favorites:

In Flames "Only For The Weak"

 Crashdiet "Snakes in Paradise"

Slash w/ Myles Kennedy & the Conspirators "Bad Rain"

Hand in hand with listening to music, I go to a lot of concerts. Seriously, I don't even want to know how much I spend in a year on shows. Love the atmosphere, hearing live music, and seeing all them dirty rocker guys on stage. ;)

Slipknot, 2012

Steel Panther is one of my most frequently seen bands. Damn, I love those guys! They are too freakin' funny and the music legit rocks.

Steel Panther, Rock on the Range 2013

Let's see, a quick rundown of their shows I've been to:
Massachusetts x2 [Once in Boston; the other was an acoustic show at Newbury Comics, Norwood]
New Hampshire
New York
Ohio [Rock on the Range]
Las Vegas
California x3 

So, that's seven different states but most recently, I got a chance to see them in a new country! They happened to be doing an Australian tour while I was over there. What are the odds? So OBVIOUSLY I had to get my ass there!!

What else? My best friend and I are both rock fans so we plan a lot of trips around going to concerts in other cities. We also typically dress up as different rockers for Halloween...

...but that's a post for another time. ;)

Thanks for hosting, Arman!

Happy Sunday all!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

PEZ Factory, Orange CT

While on our way NYC, my best friend and I passed a huge billboard advertising the PEZ candy factory. I do believe we both said "whaaaat?!" and vowed to stop there on our way home. Both of us have a sweet tooth, though her more than I, so spending time at candy factory sounded amazing. Am I glad that we did because it was a fun detour!

Fun fact: did you know that the name PEZ comes from the German word for peppermint: "pfefferminz?" Yup, its true...P from the beginning, E from the middle, and Z from the end. 

And colorful! The bright colors of America's most collectible candy dispensers dominated the entire floor. And I'm not kidding when I say dominated. On display was more PEZ dispensers than I ever thought possible, including rare, old, and a few less than PC ones. It was a lot of fun looking through the collection, which was housed all around the floor in display cases.

Memorabilia abounds!

A large viewing window allowed peeping access onto the candy making floor, though you can't actually get back there. Just as well because I probably would've been removed by security for running rampant through a candy factory...

There was a bunch of other neat features, such as the world's largest PEZ dispenser.

My personal favorite part of the tour was scooping myself a bucket of all the different PEZ flavors, some of which I'd never seen before. Heads up - the chocolate one isn't that good but the Sour Blue Raspberry is excellent. (Obsessed with blue candy.)

Believe me, all the flavors made it into this mini bucket.

The self-guided tour cost us each $5, though you recoup some of that with a $2 gift shop credit. Either way, not expensive for an hour of fun! 

The PEZ Factory is located at 35 Prindle Hill Road, Orange CT - right off route 95, exit 41.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Paleo Orange Chicken

After Friday's post about how to make a basic cauliflower rice, I thought it would only be appropriate to share a recipe that can be paired with it! This Paleo Orange Chicken was one of my faves from last year that I never got around to posting...better late than never!

Paleo Orange Chicken
recipe from Health-Bent

1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken thighs - cut into bite sized pieces
3 tablespoons of fat (coconut oil, bacon grease, evoo, etc)
Juice of 2 oranges
Zest from 1 orange
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
3 tablespoons coconut aminos
1 tablespoon sriracha or chili garlic sauce 
[I used a prepared but paleo-friendly red chile sauce, though I bet Nom Nom Paleo's homemade sriracha would be excellent here]
3 green onions, chopped

1. In a small saucepan, add orange juice through sriracha/chili garlic sauce. Set on medium heat; let simmer and thicken while prepping the chicken.
2. Heat fat of choice in a large saute pan. Add the chopped chicken and saute until browned and cooked throughout. Pour in the orange sauce and stir to coat. Serve topped with green onions. I served mine over cauliflower rice and sprinkled with green onions and sesame seeds.

Notes: * Be sure your oranges taste good and orange-y, or the dish will not. 
* Add some raw honey to sweeten, if need be.
* I added a touch of arrowroot powder to thicken mine. I might have been impatient and didn't let it reduce down enough to start with?

Friday, January 3, 2014

Basic Cauliflower Rice

Cauliflower is one of my favorite veggies. Seriously. It picks up flavors perfectly, roasts up fabulously, has great texture, and is just fantastic all mashed up. In short, this humble veggie can do a lot. So, when I first heard about cauliflower rice, I was more than intrigued. And - bonus! - you get to stuff an extra serving or two of veggies into your meal.

After I made it for the first time, I was pleased at how easy it was to do. Basically, pulse the cauli in a food processor until it looks rice-y and its ready to be used in whatever application you wish - fried rice, a rice and veggie medley, whatever. Since the paleo food movement has taken off, there's no shortage of recipes online for the stuff.

Today here's my quick and easy cauliflower method. I say method because many additions and ingredients will depend on the amount of cauli rice you're making, what you plan on adding to it, etc. This one is super basic and best for when you're gonna be topping the rice with another dish, say stir fry or curry, where you want that dish's sauce to be the star. But obviously, you can add any other veggies, spices, or seasonings that you wish to include!

Cauliflower Rice

A head of cauliflower
An onion, diced
Some garlic, minced
Olive oil
Salt and black pepper

1. Wash and pat dry a head of cauliflower.
2. Cut out the core and any extraneous leaves. Roughly chop the cauliflower into medium-ish florets.
3. Now, I do this part in batches for the most amount of control. In two or three batches, pulse the cauliflower florets in a food processor until it resembles rice grains. 
4. In a large skillet, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil. Saute the onion until translucent. Toss in the garlic and saute 1 minute. 
5. Stir in the cauliflower rice. Cover and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, or until soft. Season with salt and pepper.

Come back on Sunday for a yummy dish to top your cauliflower rice with! :)