Grilled Summer Salad

I’m all about inventive grilling.  I often slather a little oil on whatever food I have on hand and then throw it on the barbeque.  Mango, bananas, bacon, whatever.

So, why not salad?

Romaine lettuce provides lots of crunch, and holds up well over the flames.  The charred green onion is a throwback to one of my favorite traditional Guatemalan dishes, and adds depth, sweetness, and a little spice.  Top with tomatoes and Goddess dressing, and you have one of the best salads ever.  Of all time.

Also, if you’re looking to impress folks at a cook out or win over a friend or family member to Team Salad, this is The dish. It’s simple, surprising and full of flavor.

Don’t have a grill?  No problem!  Use a stove-top grill pan instead.

Ingredients:

  • 2 hearts of romaine, sliced length-wise
  • 4 campari tomatoes, chopped (trust me, they’re worth the money!)
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • olive oil spray
  • dried Italian herbs
  • dressing of your choice, though I prefer something creamy like organic Goddess dressing with extra white wine vinegar for some pucker

Directions:

  1. Mist romaine halves and whole green onions with olive oil.
  2. Place romaine halves flat side down on the grill, and allow to char a bit.  Flip over and allow the rounded sides of the romaine to wilt and brown up.
  3. While lettuce is grilling and wilting, char green onions on the grill.
  4. When lettuce is charred and wilted, remove from grill and sprinkle with herbs, salt, pepper, dressing. Top with green onions and tomatoes.

Prepare to have a new favorite summertime dish!  You’ll need a fork and knife for this salad and it is well worth it.  Even veggie-hating littles will love this.

What lights your fire?
Carrie

Boozy Lamb Short Ribs

Short Ribs 1You know how you have friends coming over and you want to cook for them, but lack the kitchen space, air conditioning, and energy to execute it?

Yeah.  Me, too.

Here’s The Thing, though.  I am fairly certain my love language is food. And I’m also fairly certain I have conditioned my family and friends to receive my love in this manner.  Food is NOT love, but food can be a loving gesture in a world of convenience and fast meals.  What’s better than sitting down with friends and sharing a great meal, enjoyable conversation, and choice adult beverage?  Not much.

Also, food is effing delicious, so there’s that.

When I want to share the love and keep the temperature in my kitchen down while making the most of my limited energy, I always turn to my crockpot.  I used to have major bias towards slow cookers. I grew up with crockpots galore at church potlucks.  Everyone clamored for an outlet to plug in their pot before service started so their mystery dish would stay hot and avoid poisoning a whole congregation. It was a sea of crockpots

A couple of decades later, I decided to try to resurrect my slow cooker that was still sitting in my kitchen in the box from our wedding when my truly kind souled cousin gifted us with it. I got brave.  I bought the food.  I read a couple of blogs. I studied and sweated and prayed to the kitchen gods that it would all turn out beautifully.  It didn’t.

I ruined a 5 lb brisket.

$40 of beautiful, succulent, grass-fed meat totally ruined because I didn’t understand fully how to use my slow cooker.  I did not sear it.  I under-seasoned it.  I ADDED WATER. Then I cooked it on high for 4 hours.  It was totally inedible, but of course we ate it anyway because we have a strict budget and can’t afford to toss food when it doesn’t turn out well.  I nicknamed it the Brisket of Tears, because I wept when I ruined it, and again every time I ate the chewy, gray, tasteless meat.

A couple of years ago, I decided to master the crockpot.  I did a massive amount of research. After a week of fretting and praying and hoping that I could pull it off, I made a pork shoulder.  It was phenomenal.  It gave me confidence. And I went further into the slow-cooker abyss.

When I found a ridiculously good sale on New Zealand grassfed lamb, I knew I could execute it well.  My dish would not go the way of the church potluck or failed brisket attempt of 2009.  Nope.  It would succeed.

This is probably one of the best things I’ve ever tasted.  I’m not exaggerating in the least. The flavor of the lamb is complex and finishing the whole dish off in the oven to crisp up the fat made this dish completely decadent.

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 lbs of lamb riblets or short ribs
  • 1/2 cup dry vermouth
  • 1/3 cup olive or avocado oil (I prefer avocado bc of the mellow flavor)
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup(ish) fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup  fresh rosemary
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium shallot or small onion, quartered
  • 2 tsp tumeric
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp (+) fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 tsp (+) salt

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients (except for lamb) in blender or NutriBullet.  Pulse until everything is combined.  Pour over lamb and marinate in a ziplock bag or covered dish for 2-12 hours, or if you’re in a hurry, skip the marination and use right away.
  2. Rub crockpot with a little oil, and put lamb and marinade in.  For best results, cook on Low for 6-8 hours.  Eight hours is optimal, but do what you can.
  3. When the lamb is finished in the slow cooker, transfer to a baking sheet and bake on 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes to crisp up the fat and caramelize.
  4. Garnish with chopped mint leaves and devour immediately.

Short Ribs 2I served this with a side of saffron infused basmati rice, pan fried mushrooms and sweet onion, along with a fruit-filled salad.  There wasn’t even a speck of lamb left on the bones, and we devoured an entire plate in 20 minutes flat.

You will love this.  Trust me.  Or don’t.  But take a chance.  And make friends with your crockpot this summer.

It feels good to be baaaaaad,
Carrie

 

 

Blueberries and Cream Paleo Popsicles {Three Ingredients}

When you live in a region of the country that is poorly prepared for century mark temperatures, folks do everything they can to keep cool.  Kiddie pools, sprinklers, poorly equipped window AC units, movie theaters, cold foggy days on the coast, and lazy days spent on the banks of a lazy mountain river are just a few ways we choose to beat the heat here in the Pacific Northwest.

But few things bring immediate relief like a good old fashioned popsicle.

The other morning after breakfast, I pulled out my final popsicle to photograph it.  I had  previously devoured the rest during naptimes earlier in the week. Because I’m an adult and like to enjoy a treat without sharing.  But on this particular day, I made the monumental mistake in trying to get the picture while my son was awake.

As we started to swelter in the 100 degree weather in our south-facing second story home as our straining AC unit worked hard to keep up, I removed the final popsicle from the freezer. I stopped for a moment and let the frozen air fall over my face and shoulders, reveling that something could still be cold in this heat. I pulled out my camera and began searching for the right light to capture the cold, creamy, fruity essence of this frozen treat.

Enter E.

He wasn’t having it.

He didn’t care that mom needed to use the popsicle for work.

He didn’t care that it was the last one.

He didn’t care that I needed to take a really beautiful picture to share with you.

He. Didn’t. Care.

There was no stopping my tiny monster.  I turned on Jimmy Fallon.  I tried to distract him with his favorite snack. I pulled out the Tegu blocks, crayons, and even tried to give him my old phone to distract him. Nothing worked.

So, I went with it.

My first attempt to take a picture.
My first attempt to take a picture.
Pop2
I tried to dodge him. He would not relent. “Me? This? Mama?”
Okay.  You.  This. Mama gives up.
Okay. You. This. Mama gives up.
Pop4
Contemplating before annihilating.
The first taste.
The first taste.
No way will I be able to get that back from my toddler's death-like grip.
No way will I be able to get that back from my toddler’s death-like grip. This face is telling me not to even think about taking a bite.
Might as well keep him contained if he's really going to eat my post.
Might as well keep him contained if he’s really going to eat my post.

Here’s the recipe, even though the I don’t have Pinterest-worthy pictures to show for the effort.  I hope you enjoy these as much as we did!

Ingredients:

  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup pureed blueberries
  • 1/4 cup whole blueberries
  • 1 Tbsp raw honey

Directions:

  1. Mix coconut milk, honey, and puree.
  2. Pour mixture into popsicle molds.
  3. Drop a few whole blueberries into the molds, and then insert popsicle stick.
  4. Freeze until solid (2-3 hours), and enjoy!

You won’t be sad you ate this.  I promise.  And with very little sugar, these are ideal for low-sugar, refreshing summer treats.

Make your summer pop!
Carrie

Salted Sunbutter Cups with Raw Chocolate {Paleo}

Sunbutter Cups Bite
Joy comes in a new, creamy, salty, sweet form.

Friends.  I’ve done the unthinkable.

I’ve given up refined Sugar for the summer.

No Salt & Straw.

No Petunia’s.

No sweet treats from Cascadia Bakery.

Because I have a problem.  Sugar means too much to me.  I can’t resist it right now.  I need to give it up for a while until I can use it responsibly.

Which might be never.  But I’m giving it until September, just to be sure. Because I don’t want the diabeetus.

One of my favorite treats is chocolate and peanut butter, but because of FPIES, we can’t keep peanuts in the house.  I love sunflower seed butter (aka sunbutter) as a substitute for peanut butter.  It’s safe for peanut and tree nut allergy peeps, and gives a comparable, creamy taste.  I don’t miss it peanut butter at all.  In fact, you can pretty much always find me with a spoonful of sunbutter in my hand when I get too busy and forget to feed myself.

I’m also pretty committed to using raw cacao nibs when possible.  Raw cacao is full of antioxidants, magnesium, potassium, fiber, and can help fight heart disease and lift your mood naturally.  With a little bit of coconut oil for good measure, these treats aren’t just freaking delicious, they’re also super healthy for you.

Sign me up.  Twice.

I shared these with some of my best friends who are also trying to leave that jerk, Sugar, behind.  The consensus? We can no longer live without them.

Sunbutter Mini Cups

Ingredients for Chocolate Layer:

  • 1/2 cup ground cacao nibs (I use my nutribullet, but a coffee grinder would work, too.)
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1-2 Tbsp raw honey, or erythritol
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Ingredients for Sunbutter Fudge Filling:

  • 3/4 cup sunbutter
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp raw honey or erythritol
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions for Chocolate Layer:

  1. Whisk together all the ingredients until fully incorporated.
  2. Pour into lined cupcake or mini-cupcake molds, filling about 1/3 of the way.
  3. Pop in freezer for 15 minutes until solid.

Directions for Sunbutter Fudge:

  1. Whisk all ingredients together.
  2. Pour mixture on top of frozen chocolate.
  3. Freeze or refrigerate until firm.
  4. Remove from refrigerator or freezer for 3 minutes, add flake salt on top, and devour.

These stay good forever in the freezer, and several weeks in a sealed container in the refrigerator.  But good luck.  The sunbutter cups haven’t survived 24 hours in my house.  Maybe ever.

Open your heart and let the sunbutter in,

Carrie

Mediterranean Tabbouleh {Gluten-Free}

This is a big day for me, friends. This is our first (of many) guest recipe posts.  It looks like this little blog is growing up fast!

Having tasted several of Kileah and Micah’s dishes, I can personally vouch for the delectable awesomeness of everything they make.  Plus, they call themselves hobbits and love all things Scottish (and apparently Middle Eastern).  All four of their tiny hobbit children are funny, sweet, curious, spirited and full of energy. Read on to see what they feed their brood, and fall in love with their version of GF Mediterranean fare.  

From Kileah:

My husband and I love good food.

We have a special food-shaped hole in our hearts labled Middle Eastern Food. In our most recent quest to make sure we live to 100 and not die on the couch watching our favourite Firefly and Arrow re-runs (gluten free brownie points for those of you who’ve watched all of the Firefly episodes!!!), we have been focusing on:

  • how much we eat
  • what we eat
  • the quality of our ingredients
  • it passes the “7-year-old test”

Because we have four small hobbits who also like to eat, if we prepare food that they don’t like…well…let’s just say we have a Shire Situation on our parenting hands.

Ok, back to food! So here’s our take on a quick and easy summer Tabbouleh. If you’ve never eaten tabbouleh, (insert sad hobbit face), it’s a middle-eastern salad chocked full of fresh summer tomatoes and herbs and the itsy bitsy teensy pasta. Normally, traditional couscous is made from wheat, but we prefer using a good brown-rice version of this tiny pasta and it’s just as fantastic! The brown rice couscous enhances the flavor and texture of the dish and leaves us feeling satisfied without the heavy feeling of traditional wheat pasts.

TabboulehGF1

(editor’s note:  You can get the gluten-free couscous at vitacost.com or whole foods, etc.)

Ingredients:

  • 2 c. water
  • 2 T. ghee
  • ¼ c. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 ½ c. brown rice couscous
  •  2 c. chopped heirloom tomatoes
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • ½ .c. organic mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • ½ c. crumbled feta cheese
  • ¾ c. roasted/sliced almonds
  • kosher salt and cracked pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Bring water and ghee to a boil in a small pot, add in couscous and lemon juice, turn down heat to simmer for 5 minutes, then remove pan from heat.
  2. Add tomatoes, cilantro, mint, shallot, feta and sliced almonds together in a large bowl.
  3. Fluff couscous with a fork and add to the tomato/herb mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste
  4. Cover and chill in fridge until ready to eat. If you can wait that long.
  5. Live Long and Prosper!

May the Couscous Be With You!

-The McIlvains