Browsing Category: real food recipes

Foolproof, easy, 4-ingredient mayo

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homemade mayonnaise: paleo/whole30 mayo ingredients
I’ve been meaning to try to make my own mayonnaise for ages, because it seems impossible to find a mayo that’s both sugar-free and not made with canola. Most, if not all, canola is genetically modified. And sugar in mayonnaise?! Yeah, you’d be surprised. Read labels next time you go to the store.

But I thought homemade mayo surely had to be tricky. Perfect temperatures and/or timing, danger of the emulsion breaking, that sort of thing. Turns out… nope! I tried this recipe and method from The Healthy Foodie, and it’s so easy it’s ridiculous! Worked the first time, and every time since then. All that’s necessary is a stick blender, and a jar that’s the right size. It might also be just as doable in a normal blender, but I haven’t tested that.And, yes, for those who care: this is Paleo, and Whole30 compliant.

Perfect for my gluten-free, grain-free “BLT’s without bread“! A super-easy, low-carb Paleo snack or meal. Quick, too, if you have already-cooked bacon on hand — and you should!

I go crazy for these when good tomatoes are in season! But they’re still pretty tasty when the only decent tomatoes available around here (<sarcasm> yay, winter in Kansas! </sarcasm>) are grape tomatoes.

Plain ol’ mayo needs no herbs, but if you want to bump up the flavor a bit, add a pinch or two of your favorites. I’ve included my suggestion in the ingredients list….

Easy homemade mayo recipe

  • 1 large egg, taken straight out of the fridge (no need to bring to room temp)
  • 1 cup very-light-tasting olive oil (NOT virgin), or other flavorless oil of your choice
  • 2 – 3 teaspoons lemon juice, rice vinegar, or other pale vinegar of your choice
  • 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon salt (start small; mix; taste; adjust if necessary)
  • Optional bonus: flavor it with a pinch of dill and a few pinches of fresh chives – YUM!

Put it all in your carafe or jar, blend holding the stick still till the mayo-in-the-making reaches almost to the top of the oil, then move up and down a few times till all oil is incorporated. Yeah, it’s that easy.

Here’s the original mayo recipe, with detailed instructions. This works great in the beaker/carafe that came with my blender (below), but if you’re just using a glass jar, the size of the jar matters, so I recommend looking that up in the original recipe.
Note: when freshly made, it tastes kinda oily. If you’re going to immediately blend it into a salad dressing or slaw mix, that won’t be a problem. But if it’s going to be a star player, a chill in the fridge for a few hours or overnight will be a good thing.
P.S. My old Braun stick blender (also called an immersion blender or hand blender) went kaput this week, so I just ordered a new one from Amazon – Cuisinart this time. I consider it an absolute essential in the kitchen! The price goes up and down on Amazon, so if you want one and it’s currently over $45 — and you’re not in a hurry — put it in your cart and leave it there. They’ll send you an email if the price goes down!

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Thinking of going Paleo?

Check out my 20-Day Countdown to a New Way of Eating!

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Easy, make-it-your-own fish taco bar

fish tacos - how to set up a fish taco bar

I was recently asked for my recipe for fish tacos. “It’s not so much a recipe,” I said, “as it is a collection of ingredients.” Which makes it great for feeding a group with diverse tastes or dietary needs: just set up your fish taco bar and let guests create their own.

And much of it can be done ahead of time: everything except for the avocado can be sliced, chopped, or mixed ahead of time. The fish can be seasoned ahead of time, but will taste best if it’s made just before serving.

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Grain-free, sugar-free granola

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Cranberry Walnut Paleo Granola, from Cook Eat Paleo

I cannot believe I’ve never posted a link to this recipe for Cranberry Walnut Paleo Granola from Cook Eat Paleo! I discovered it more than a year ago, and it’s one of my favorite low-sugar, grain-free treats. I’m not doing the whole pure paleo thing, but there are components of the diet that line up with my nutrition philosophy, so I find paleo food blogs a great source for recipes.

I’ve made my own variation of the original Cranberry Walnut Paleo Granola version (notes below). I haven’t made the Cinnamon Raisin Spice Paleo Granola, but it sounds incredibly tasty, too!

This would make a great sugar-free Christmas goody giveaway. (I’ve also put together a list of 12 Homemade Christmas Treats That Aren’t Sweets.) It has no processed sugar, and is sweetened with a small amount of maple syrup, making it vegan-friendly, too.

And here’s my version…

Cranberry Walnut Paleo Granola Recipe

I have halved and tweaked the original recipe. This fits nicely on a 10 x 15″ cookie sheet; and the 4-cup measuring cup works perfectly for a mix-and-pour bowl.

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 cup coarsely chopped almonds
1/2 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds without hulls)
1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut – larger flakes are better
1/8 teaspoon table salt (or 1/4 t. sea salt or kosher salt)
1 T. coconut oil, melted
1.5 T. maple syrup
1/2 cup dried cranberries and/or other dried fruit; I like to use these pre-chopped prune bits called “Amazins

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Prepare a rimmed cookie sheet by lining it with parchment paper, or lining it with foil that’s oiled or sprayed.

Combine nuts, pepitas, and coconut in mixing bowl. Mix together coconut oil and maple syrup until well combined, and stir into nut mix.

Spread the mixture evenly on the prepared cookie sheet. Optional: sprinkle with 1/4 t. kosher  or sea salt.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, until coconut is just lightly browned. (Your oven may vary.)

Remove from oven, add the dried cranberries and/or Amazins, and toss to combine. Cool completely before serving.
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Disclosure: links go to my Amazon store, but you can find them at your local grocery.

7 roasted sweet potato recipes

roasted sweet potato dish
I’ve never been a fan of the traditional sweet potato topped with marshmallow dish — even as a child. But sans all that sugar, they are quite healthy, and delicious to boot! I love to make simple, stove-top mashed sweet potatoes, with a little butter, maple syrup, and cinnamon added at the end. Try it along with a salty and/or spicy pork chop – yum!
So I’m looking for some oven-roasted sweet potato recipes that recreate that same flavor profile for Thanksgiving this year, and I thought I’d share my research. Here are a few.
(Note: Not all of these are Paleo, but most can be made so with minor tweaks. Check out the “***Easy 15-minute roasted sweet potatoes” below for an easy Whole30 breakfast idea.)
roasted sweet potato recipes

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Honey and Cinnamon

By Tyler Florence, on Food Network. 5 stars, over 140 reviews.
roasted sweet potato recipes

Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes

By Ellie Krieger on Food Network; 5 stars, over 160 reviews. — I like that this one goes light on the honey.
roasted sweet potato recipes

Cider Roasted Root Vegetables

By Elise at Simply Recipes. I always consult this site when looking for a new recipe; I have never had a bad dish here! This version sounds delicious.
Branching out from straight-up roasting…
roasted sweet potato recipes

By Creekside Cook. The author says, “this post on my old blog was responsible for over 1 million hits.” And I can see why! It sounds amazing. “Spicy, sweet, crunchy outside.” But also a little time consuming. I probably won’t try to pull these off for Thanksgiving, but they may get a chance on a less hectic day.

Here’s an easier option…

roasted sweet potato recipes

***Easy 15 Minute Roasted Sweet Potatoes

By Layers of Happiness. This recipe uses the microwave — which I would totally do for an everyday meal! But I might try this same method in the oven for a special day.
Update: Now that we’re full-on Whole30, I use this microwave method for sweet potatoes – All. The. Time. Sans the dairy items, of course. To keep extras on hand, I just cook them most of the way in the microwave, dice them up, then keep them in the fridge for an easy paleo breakfast. Top them with scrambled eggs, bacon, and/or sausage. Yum!
roasted sweet potato recipes

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes with Chipotle Cream

by Chez Us — The description on this one won me over: “After I baked the potatoes, I scooped out their flesh and mixed it with some fried pancetta, sauteed green onions, a little butter and sour cream and a handful of freshly grated Gouda. After re-baking the stuffed potato skins until warm, I topped each one with a slight dollop of chipotle sour cream.”

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And here it is: this year’s winner of the annual “Most Beautiful Sweet Potato Dish Award”! (Okay, that’s not a thing, but when you see this, shouldn’t it be?)

roasted sweet potato recipes

Crispy Sweet Potato Roast by Smitten Kitchen

Here’s the author’s summary:

You thinly slice a whole lot of sweet potatoes [you can use a mandolin or food processor] and arrange them in a butter and olive oil-brushed dish, and brush them with even more. …slide slivers of shallots between… shower the whole thing with salt and black pepper… bake it covered long enough that the insides get tender, and uncovered long enough to get the tops brown and crispy.

This was posted six days ago, and as of today, it has 150 comments. Readers have been quick to share their own improvisations on the basic recipe. Here are some of the best (IMHO)…

Reader tips and variations:

Add fresh rosemary and a splash of pure maple syrup towards the end.

I sprinkled feta and toasted pine nuts on top, instead of the salsa verde. It was amazing!

I crumbled feta cheese in the gaps and added some chili and lemon juice to the salsa verde and the result was great.

Very delicious. Sprinkled za’atar on top and made a sauce of yogurt, tahini, lemon, and a bit of salt.

I’ll be making this – with the addition of crisp pancetta and fresh thyme!

I am going to [replace] the scallions with poblanos and make a little chimichurri sauce to drizzle on top.

I usually do my holiday sweet potatoes with maple, chipotle, ancho, smoked paprika — and fresh italian parsley on top after roasting.

The way I’ve been making them for years is in a gratin with a ton of garlic and salty butter and parmesan and breadcrumbs, the thinner the layer the better, b/c the top gets all crispy, crunchy with the parmesan and buttery breadcrumbs.

Have you ever tried chipotle chili powder with sweet potatoes? Life changing!

I made this tonight and topped with some leftover creme fraiche, it was great! The texture turned out perfectly. I used only 2 lbs of sweet potatoes and scaled everything down accordingly, but used all the same cooking times, 45 mins covered, 10 uncovered.

This was EXCEPTIONALLY GOOD! And reheated the next day in the toaster oven? Nom nom nom!

I made this tonight and it was GREAT. I added a bit of fresh thyme both underneath and on top! I halved the recipe and put it in a 1-quart oval dish. I also found that with really large potatoes I halved the slices and put the curved side up and they fit really well in the dish. At the end my oven didn’t brown it very well so I tossed it under the broiler and watched it like a hawk!

I made this with a mélange of sweet potatoes and russet, and added a teaspoon or so of dried sage, salt and pepper to the remaining butter/olive oil mixture… divine!

I topped it with thinned Mexican crema mixed with minced chipotle in adobo. It was a hit!

I have used a food processor to slice potatoes, and it works very well. You just have to buy potatoes whose diameter will fit in the tube, and then guide them / stabilise them with the pusher.

Also culled from the comments, a few extra tips from the author:

Cast iron does seem to give food a nice crisp… but I used a Pyrex baking dish last time I made this and it crisped up just fine.

In reply to reader’s questions: “Do you do everything and bake it completely and then just reheat day of? Or do you arrange everything and bake the day-of?” — Either way will work.

Re, thin slices — Yes, I use a mandoline…. Re, protecting your fingers, I have one rule: the last inch isn’t worth it! I just don’t use the slicer for the last inch of whatever I’m cutting. I’ll hand-chop it. All of my fingers are intact, so I’d say this system is working out for me. 🙂

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All images by the respective blog owners.

Chai Tea for Two (latte, if you like)

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I  remember the first time I tasted chai, in a friend’s kitchen. The creamy texture and slightly spiced flavor took me by surprise. “Oh wow!” I said. “This is like drinking pumpkin pie!”
image: livesimply.me
Since that first taste, I’ve loved chai, but I don’t drink it often because if you make it with a purchased mix or buy it in a coffee shop, it’s usually loaded with sugar. However, inspired by this recipe for Chai Tea Latte from Live Simply (and modified to reduce the syrup), I’ve been making this the past couple days, and it’s the perfect cold-weather pick-me-up when you want something richer than plain tea. (The original recipe makes enough for four servings, so you can enjoy one right away and then keep the extra on hand in the fridge. Smart! I love make-aheads!)
It uses maple syrup for the sweetener, but you can substitute the sugar or sweetener of your choice. I also replaced the half-and-half with culinary coconut milk; the canned kind; not the thinner stuff that comes in quart cartons. But you can use half-and-half, or another dairy substitute that you like. I’ve also streamlined the process a bit because, well, I’m impatient! I use a ready-made spice mix. And I use the microwave, and just let it steep for two or three minutes. But if you’re patient and have the time, you can let it steep the full five minutes at each step.
Chai mixture:
1 cup water
1-1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice or apple pie spice*
1 tea bag or about 1.5 teasp. loose tea — any unflavored black tea will do
1 TB pure maple syrup
1 or 2 grinds of freshly ground black pepper (optional)
Latte additions:
1/2 cup milk of your choice     
    (recommended: something rich and somewhat fatty, like coconut milk or half-and-half.)
maple syrup to taste
Put the water and spice mix in a glass measuring cup or other microwave-safe container and heat until it steams. Take it out, and let sit for at least two and up to five minutes. Cut open the tea bag and pour the contents into the hot water. Add a couple grinds of black pepper if you like. Return it to the microwave and heat again till steaming. Let it steep for three to five minutes.
While it’s steeping, prepare the milk. Heat it slightly in the microwave. Do NOT let it boil. 
Frothing the milk is optional — but it’s the thing that takes this drink from chai to chai latte. There are various ways to froth the milk. You can do this with a stick blender, or by hand, using this method, or just by holding a wire whisk and rolling it quickly between your palms like this: 
(The baby orangutan is optional.)
At this time, you can also preheat your two serving cups, to help the chai stay hotter. Fill them with the hottest water that will come out of your tap, and let that sit till you’re ready to serve.
Once the tea is done steeping, dump the hot water out of your serving cups. Pour the tea mixture through a fine sieve into another container. Rinse the sieve, then pour through it again as you’re decanting the tea into each serving cup. Top with even portions of the milk, and taste to see if you want more sweetness; sweeten to taste.
Then snuggle into a cozy chair and drink that pumpkin pie!

*If you don’t have pumpkin pie or apple pie spice mix, you may use:
1 whole clove (optional)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
pinch ground nutmeg (optional)
pinch ground allspice (optional)

20 Cranberry Sauce Recipes

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A variety of cranberry sauce recipes, for Thanksgiving or Christmas…

Cranberry Sauce Recipes
image: OurFamilyEats

Roasted or Baked Cranberry Sauce

Simple Roasted Cranberries (Gluten Free, Grain Free, and Paleo) from OurFamilyEats. I love that this one really is simple, and that it uses maple syrup for the sweetener.

Bobby Flay’s Baked Cranberry Sauce, which calls for finishing it off with a quarter cup of bourbon. Some reviewers substituted other liquor or liquers (orange being a popular flavor). 41 reviews, and every one of them 4-star!

Roasted Cranberry Sauce with Herbed Candied Walnuts, from Bon Appetit. Lots of sugar in this one!

Boozy and Baked Cranberry Sauce. Even though it has “boozy” in the name, its alcohol content is much less than Mr. Flay’s. Also looks easy: just four ingredients.

Sugar-Free Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Sauce Recipes
image: The Vintage Mixer
And another “sugar-free” cranberry sauce recipe, but it uses honey. You could sub maple syrup or your preferred sweetener. It also includes crushed pineapple; interesting!
And another. This one calls for Equal, but a couple commenters said they used Splenda and it worked well.
Paleo-friendly cranberry sauce; uses apple juice and maple syrup for sweetener. (Listed as

Paleo/GF/DF/EF/SF/NF)

Another Paleo cranberry sauce, from nomnompaleo, using sweet cherries and apple juice.

Traditional Stove-Top Cranberry Sauce Recipes

Cranberry Sauce Recipes
image: Simply Recipes
Every recipe I’ve ever tried from Elise at SimplyRecipes has been great. Here’s her traditional recipe. But she also suggest various add-ins. I might try blueberry!
(And her recipe is the same as the most popular cranberry sauce at AllRecipes; more than 1200 reviews, and still five stars!)
Another classic cranberry sauce recipe; this one from Pioneer Woman. Similar to the others, but uses maple syrup in place of sugar, and orange juice in place of white sugar.

Unique Cranberry Sauce Recipes

This page at Fun & Food Cafe features five different cranberry sauce recipes, with unusual ingredients. I like the sound of the second one, which has raspberries and walnuts!
Ginger Cranberry Sauce, via RecipeLion.
Another from the same source: Cranberry Sauce with Apples (and Mandarin oranges, and pineapple).
How about Cranberry Sauce with Jalapenos? I think that would be a big hit with smoked turkey.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Brat and cabbage soup

brat and cabbage soup

I’ve been waiting for a day cool enough for soup; today was the day! I’d been wanting to try out this recipe I spied on Taste of Home recently, when I was trying to figure out how to use up some leftover sausages — including some grilled bratwurst.

This soup exceeded my expectations! I love that it takes one of my husband’s favorite foods (brats/sausage), and makes it into a fairly healthy meal. Kick it up to the next level by serving with a hearty bread made into garlic toast. (Or Paleo English muffins made into garlic toast.)

Bonus: it’s really easy! We’ll definitely be having this again.

I halved the original recipe, since I was cooking for two. (The recipe below is the half portion.) Double these quantities to serve a larger group, or to have some to put in the freezer. Several reviewers said that it tasted just as good if not better, reheated the second day, so this would make a great make-ahead meal, too.

Leave out the beans to make it Paleo and Whole30 compliant. You could add chopped avocado in their place: similar texture, plus healthy fats!

Brat and Cabbage Soup Recipe

Serves 4

2 cups chicken broth or stock (or more, for a long simmer)
2 – 3 medium carrots
1 stalk celery
1 medium onion
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp granulated garlic
2 – 3 brats, cooked according to package directions
1.5 cups shredded cabbage
1 can (14 oz.) great northern beans, rinsed and drained (optional*)

Put the broth on to boil in a large saucepan. Chop the carrots, celery and onion into bite-size chunks, and add them to the saucepan, along with the seasonings. Once the mixture boils, turn it down to medium low and simmer till the carrots are tender.

Slice the brats in half lengthwise, then into half- to one-inch slices; add them to the pot and heat through. At this point, you can turn the heat to low and let it all simmer till 20 minutes before serving time. If the broth gets too low, add a little more chicken stock. Or put some or all in the freezer for a future meal.

About 15 to 20 minutes before serving, add the shredded cabbage and beans. Stir gently and continue to simmer. Serve with fresh-from-the-oven garlic toast.

*To make this a lower carb dish — with balanced carbs and proteins — just leave out the beans. Here’s the nutrition info with beans:

Nutrition Facts
Servings 4.0
Amount Per Serving
Calories 276
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 13 g 20 %
Saturated Fat 5 g 25 %
Monounsaturated Fat 0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 38 mg 13 %
Total Carbohydrate 26 g 9 %
Dietary Fiber 8 g 31 %
Sugars 5 g
Protein 16 g 32 %
And here it is without:
Nutrition Facts
Servings 4.0
Amount Per Serving
Calories 206
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 13 g 20 %
Saturated Fat 5 g 25 %
Monounsaturated Fat 0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 38 mg 13 %
Total Carbohydrate 11 g 4 %
Dietary Fiber 3 g 10 %
Sugars 5 g
Protein 11 g 21 %

Oven-roasted tomatoes

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On BLT’s, oven-dried, oven-roasted, in a sauce…

I had some less-than-stellar farmstand beefsteak tomatoes last week taking up space in my fridge. Actually, just several slices from one large tomato. The flavor was only so-so in the BLT’s we’d sliced them for, but I was reluctant to throw them out, so there they sat.

Then something (probably something on Pinterest) made me think of oven-dried tomatoes. Which are basically sun-dried tomatoes, with more control and fewer bugs.


Tried it: uh, YUM!

Below are links to several recipes, but since most of them call for Roma or cherry tomatoes, I was kind of improvising. The first one on the list is the process that I more-or-less followed. Here’s mine:

  • oven preheated to 200 F
  • large tomato, sliced into 1/4″ slices
  • seeds and the jelly around them poked out and set aside
  • tomato slices on a cooling rack; rack nestled in my favorite baking sheet
  • checked after a couple hours.

Because mine were thin and mostly jelly-less, they dried out pretty quickly. In two or three hours, some of them were already crispy. So crispy, in fact, that the pieces with a fair amount of peel were like super-tomatoey potato chips. And the tart, intense flavor? Hugely improved over the disappointing fresh version. I chowed down! (Hubs thought they tasted kinda burnt, but I thought they tasted great! Maybe he just got a bad one.) I’ll probably try some more next week, to see if I can recreate that great accident.
Oven-dried tomatoes from About.com
> Oven-dried tomatoes from Food Network
> Oven-dried tomatoes from Tomato Dirt

I mentioned that I had poked out the juices/goop from the slices before baking. One of the recipes I read mentioned “tomato water;” never heard of that, so I googled it. One “recipe” required a food processor, cheesecloth, and eight hours. But I wasn’t up for that, so I just took the goop, seeds and liquid and poured the whole mess through a sieve. It yielded about a couple tablespoons of tomato-pink liquid. There wasn’t enough of it to use in a recipe, but I tasted it — then added a wee bit of salt — and tasted it again, and it was delish! I can see it being a great liquid to poach fish in, or to put up in the freezer to add a little genuine summer taste to a winter marinara or soup.
About tomato water, from Bon Appetit
About tomato water, from New York Times

Also, if you want something a little less dehydrated, here’s a recipe for roasted tomatoes, which just takes them to a concentrated but still fairly moist stage. I haven’t tried this method, but if I did, I would make them without the herbs, to make them more versatile. 
Oven-roasted tomatoes from Kalyn’s Kitchen