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Refried Beans

I make these all the time, and never really though anything of it until Christina came over for pollo asado one night and was so in love with them.  I think she called them “restaurant beans”, haha.

I got the recipe from the mother of my best childhood friend.  She was a badass Mexicana who would always have some delicious Mexican food on the stove.  I loved going over there on enchilada night.  Anyway, it’s a very simple recipe that doesn’t require a lot of brain power (read: measurements) and makes a great side dish!

What you need:

  • Sun Vista pinto beans, what size can you want.  I usually use the 29 ouncer (the cheese amounts are based on this size can):
  • Cheese, shredded, about 2 cups.  Can be any of the following: cheddar, jack, mozzarella, cotija, queso fresco, anything similar.  I usually use whatever I happen to have on hand.
  • Parmesan cheese, shredded or grated, 1/2 cup or so.  This is key.  Romano should work, too.
  • Optional:
  • Minced garlic or onion
  • Taco seasoning
  • Chili paste, crushed red peppers, or anything else to make it a bit spicy
  • Potato masher, or some other way to smash the beans up

What you need to do:

  1. Pour the contents of the pinto bean can into a large skillet.  If you are adding any of the optional ingredients, add them now.
  2. Cook over medium high heat until the beans start to bubble.
  3. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally… no worries because you can’t really over cook it.
  4. Smash a few beans with a spoon to see if they smash easily.  If they do, you are ready for step #5.
  5. Grab your potato masher (or other smashing tool, hah) and CAREFULLY smash all the little pintos up.  Seriously you gotta be careful because sometime you can create a suction when you smash the beans then pull the masher back up and then you end up with a beansplosion ALL over your kitchen… it’s VERY messy, ask Christina.  It’s not complicated, just try not to be an idiot like me.

    look at my fancy masher!

  6. Once the beans are homogenous, stir in the parmesan cheese.  And then stir in the other cheese.  Stir, stir, stir until it all melts.
  7. Enjoy 🙂

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

It was brought to my attention yesterday, during lunch at a delicious greek restaurant that my mom and sister have never had lemon chicken orzo soup (aka Avgolemono) and that I never posted about it!  I really, really like this soup, but I make it all the time because my BF LOOOOVES it.  It’s a very hearty soup, so it can definitely make a meal out of it, or pair it with a fresh, greek inspired salad.

Also, don’t be afraid to fudge things a bit… Adding more of things you like, etc.  I kind of just throw in what I have without measuring.

What you need:

  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup shredded carrots (I usually end up just throwing in a whole pre-cut bag)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chicken soup base (found at Trader Joe’s, or two bullion cubes)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (Wondra works best for this)
  • 1 – 2 cups orzo
  • 1 lb cooked chicken breast (I prefer coating the chicken in breadcrumbs, then baking them)
  • parsley to garnish
  • 6 eggs
  • olive oil

What to do:

  1. In a pot, sauté carrots, onion, garlic with olive oil for a few mins
  2. In the same pot, combine the chicken broth, lemon juice, carrots, onions, soup base, and white pepper. Bring to a boil on high, then simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Add uncooked orzo
  4. Blend the butter and the flour together. Then gradually add it to the soup mixture. Simmer for 10 minutes more, stirring frequently.
  5. Meanwhile, beat the egg until light in mixed. Gradually add the eggs to the hot soup, stirring constantly. Simmer for another 10 – 15 minutes.
  6. Mix in the chicken pieces.
  7. Ladle hot soup into bowls and garnish with lemon slices and parsley.

So I don’t remember how I stumbled upon Pati’s Mexican Table blog, but you should definitely check it out.  I used her recipe for the enchiladas and the tomatillo salsa in this post.  The enchiladas are kind of a PITA, but they were delicioussssss.  The salsa, on the other hand was easy and I am in love with it.  I want to make it every week, now.  Also, I love going to the mexican market, Pancho Villa to get cheaper, fresher ingredients for stuff like this.  Check out this huge hunk of queso fresco I got for less than $4!

Anyway, I will separate the two recipes so you can make one or the other easier, if you wish.

Tomatillo Salsa

What you need

  • Two pounds green tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • 2-5 garlic cloves, to your taste
  • 2 serrano or jalapeno chiles (I accidentally bought anaheim, wah)
  • 1-2 cups cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup chopped white onion
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable, canola oil

What to do:

  1. Put the tomatillos and garlic into a large stockpot.  Cover with water and bring to a boil. 
  2. Simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the tomatillos change color to pale green.
  3. Put the tomatillos, garlic and 1/2 cup of the cooking water into a blender.  Puree and then add the onions, cilantro, salt and chiles.  Puree until the salsa is mixed throughout. 
  4. In the same stockpot, heat a tablespoon of oil, and add the salsa back into the pot.
  5. Simmer the salsa for another 10 minutes or so, until it thickens up a bit.  Add more salt to taste.
  6. Enjoy!

Enchiladas Verdes

What you need:

  • 2 pounds of chicken breast
  • a few cups of chicken stock
  • oil
  • 12-14 corn tortillas
  • 1/2 cup mexican style crema Brand doesn't matter, but this one is great
  • queso fresco
  • a generous amount of tomatillo salsa, at least 4 cups

What to do:

  1. Add the uncooked chicken and the chicken stock to a slow cooker and cook on low for 7-8 hours
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
  3. In a saute pan or cast iron skillet, add enough oil to cover a tortilla lying flat in the pan.  Preheat the pan on low for 5 mins for a normal pan or 10-15 for cast iron.
  4. Let 2-3 tortillas soak in the oil for a minute or two, then take them out, let the oil drain, and repeat until with the remaining tortillas.  You will be able to tell when they are ready because they will become WAY more pliable, and won’t break when rolled up.  The first time around, I didn’t soak them long enough and ended up with a bunch of broken enchiladas… Don’t repeat my mistake!
  5. Fill each tortilla with a 3 tablespoons of chicken and some queso fresco
  6. Roll up the tortilla around the chicken and queso, seam facing down, and place into oven safe dish
  7. Cover generously with tomatillo salsa
  8. Bake for about 20 minutes
  9. Serve with queso fresco and crema on top on the enchiladas.  Enjoy them while they are hot!

SPAGHETTI IS MY FAVORITE FOOD IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD. So when I went paleo, I craved this the most. It’s not even spaghetti the noodle. It’s straight up ANY noodle with spaghetti sauce. What’s the closest thing to a noodle in the paleo world? Spaghetti squash!

Kristen mentioned how to cook a spaghetti squash so in case you are lazy and don’t want to filter through the posts, I’ll just share what I usually do.

I cut the squash in half, spoon out all the seeds and place the cut side DOWN in the oven @ 350 and bake for 30ish minutes. I’m terrible. I don’t time or measure anything. I usually just test the squash to see if it is soft enough.

Your meat sauce is your standard recipe. I use a can of San Marzano whole tomatoes, oregano, sliced mushrooms, fresh garlic and shallots and some balsamic vinegar in my sauce. Oh, and some local grass fed ground beef of course. Actually the last time I made this, I added some bacon too.

By the way, this is probably THE go-to paleo recipe.. and there’s a reason for it.

I know, I’m super cute for serving it in the squash right?

Paleo people (and Kristen) loooove bacon. I made this for a friend’s superbowl party and although not everyone was paleo, it didn’t even matter because, I mean come on.. bacon wrapped food is always a winner!

Basically, season your chicken (I bought chicken tenderloin strips from WF) with whatever you want. I used fresh garlic, red pepper flakes, oregano and extra virgin olive oil. I wrapped them in bacon and stuck the whole thing on a skewer. I actually baked these for about 10-15 minutes at 350 first to make sure the chicken was cooked inside and then I pan fried them to get the bacon all sorts of crispy.

While I had the skewers in the oven, I made the chimichurri sauce. Trust your tastebuds on this one because that’s what I did. Use an immersion blender (or whatever you’ve got) and mix up the following:

  • Fresh parsley
  • Fresh garlic
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Lemon juice
  • Freshly ground pepper
Quick & easy!

Crock Pot Turkey Breast

One thing you may or may not know about me… I am obsessed with finding good deals and then stocking up in the freezer.  I dream about the future, when I will have a garage and can buy one of those huge freezers.  Please don’t judge me.

Anyway, I bring this up because around Thanksgiving I bought turkey breasts (the whole bone-in breast, basically the turkey w/o legs and wings, not just boneless, skinless breasts) for 99 cents a pound – which is CRAZY cheap.  So obviously I bought three, two of which I was not planning on using for Thanksgiving.  After a particularly robust trip to Costco, I had to free up some freezer space and I finally made one of the breasts… IN A CROCKPOT.

SO EASY and SO DELICIOUS.  Do it, you will thank me, later.

What you need:

  • Full bone in turkey breast (make sure it will fit in your crock pot, first!), defrosted
  • 1 packet of dry onion soup mix
  • minced garlic
  • two onions, chopped
  • one bunch of celery, chopped
  • a few red potatoes, chopped
  • carrots, I used a bag of baby carrots
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth or white wine (or half and half)
  • 1 stick of butter, softened, mixed with oregano, sage, thyme, rosemary

mmm veggies

What to do:

  1. Put the breast into the crock pot dish.  Prepare the bird by lifting as much of the skin off as you can, then rubbing the butter & herb mix into the meat.  Cover back up with the skin.  Kind of gruesome, but so worth it.

    Boyfriend giving the bird a butter rub down

  2. Fill the crock pot around the bird with half to two thirds of the veggies.  Stuff the remainder inside the cavity.

    This is post-cook, but you can see how the veggies are around, and stuffed inside

  3. Mix the soup packet with the wine/ stock, and add to the crock pot.
  4. Cook on low for about 7 hours
  5. Don’t worry about the lack of liquid!  While it cooks, it will let out all the juices, as you can see in the photo above.

finished product

with stew on the side!

This is seriously the easiest and most tender turkey I have ever made/ had.  We usually fry turkey for the holidays, which is awesome, but a huge PITA.  This is so easy, and it literally falls apart when touched.

P.S. you don’t have to use the veggies, but it so easy, and in the end you have an entire one pot meal waiting for you.

Paleo pad thai

I know what you’re thinking.. “Paleo pad thai without NOODLES? Is this even possible?” YES!

I guess I should first introduce a good basic recipe: zucchini noodles. Basically take a zucchini and put it through a mandoline or use a peeler. I used a peeler even though we have a mandoline because I’m primal like that and I work hard for my food. You cook it really quickly (~3-4 minutes) with whatever sauce you’re eating it with OR you can sauté it in coconut oil for the same amount of time and then season to taste.

Anyway. Paleo pad thai. HOLY CRAP this was delicious and it’s all because of the base. And it’s fairly simple. (Is fish sauce paleo? Googling right now.. Yes, it’s paleo-ish as long as you buy the right one that’s minimally processed and has simple ingredients. Like this)

Base sauce:

  • Minced garlic
  • Onion/shallot slivers
  • 3 tbsp of almond butter
  • 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp of fish sauce
  • Some sriracha to taste (I like mine SPICY)
  • 2 tbsp of fresh grated ginger would be nice but if you don’t have any, 1 tbsp of the dried stuff will do
  • 1 lime/lemon

Saute the garlic and onion/shallot in some coconut oil and then mix in the liquids. Actually, you should cook your meat of choice before mix in the liquids. I chose shrimp. Mix all that together and then put in your raw zucchini noodles and let it cook for an additional 3ish minutes. Crumble some almonds over it and serve it with a lemon wedge.