Recipe of the week: Grain-free tortilla chips

You all know about my problem with chips and salsa.  Call me any time, day or night, with an offer of heading out for chips and salsa and I’m there.  Show up with guacamole and I’m done.  It’s a problem.  I can give up the pasta and bread but don’t take away my chips!

I purchased some almond flour and coconut flour a couple of weeks ago with the intention of trying out some new recipes.  Then Kevin and I got the sick and we didn’t really do anything as far as serious cooking for a couple of weeks.

Last night, I decided to change that.   I have to get a handle on these chips.  Mr. Hall keeps buying chips and I keep telling him to stop.  He’s like a chip saboteur.

I scoured the interweb and found a few recipes, all having the same basic base ingredients- almond flour and egg whites.  Then, you just put in whatever spices you want.  Here’s what I did:

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  1. Heat oven to 325.
  2. Mix all the ingredients together to form a firm but supple paste.  I used my Ninja mixer with the dough attachment and it worked great.  I was surprised by how fast it mixed and how the two egg whites provided enough wet for the dough.
  3. Roll out 1/2 the mix between two pieces of parchment paper as thin as you can keep even.  THIN. As in REALLY THIN.
  4. Peel off the top parchment paper and cut with a pizza cutter or knife into whatever chip size you want.
  5. Bake for about 10 minutes.  You’re looking for light golden brown, dark means nasty bitter, if some chips color faster than others, use a flexible spatula and take them out.
  6. Cool on the pan.  Break apart and cool further on a wire rack.

As I mentioned above, I was surprised by how much moisture the egg whites provided in the recipe.  I’m not sure if almond flour is more absorbent (is that even a baking term?!) but it came out pretty well after it was mixed up.  I scraped it out with a spatula and placed the dough on a large piece of parchment paper.

dough

Then, I placed another piece of parchment on top and started rolling it out with my wooden pin.  I couldn’t believe how much it stretched out.  I didn’t follow the directions and cut the dough in half first.  Doh!

rolled dough

 

Yes, I am wearing my hot pink flannel jammies with paisley print.  What?

After much rolling, this is what it looked like when I peeled up the top layer of the parchment paper:

flat dough

 

As you can see, it looks really moist.  I carefully peeled off the top paper layer and got busy cutting the dough with a rolling pizza cutter.  I decided to just to squares.  It was a little difficult trying to peel each piece off and I ended up having a small pile of edges that I re-rolled and cut.  It smelled really good, even before it went in the oven.  I carefully placed each piece on a baking sheet (ungreased).  I used two baking sheets for this recipe.

I ended up leaving them in for 12 minutes because they didn’t seem really crispy.  I think it probably varies based on your own oven how long to leave them in.  Only a couple stuck to the pan and I was able to easily transfer them to a plate to cool.

final dough

 

As you can see, they are a little thicker than a tortilla chip but not as thick as a cracker.  I imagine you could make them like a cracker if you didn’t roll them out so thin.

The verdict? They were delicious!  Spicy and a little nutty in flavor with a satisfying crunch.  I saved a few to see how they do stored overnight in a bag, just in case I wanted to make a bigger batch to eat over several days.

Mr. Hall even liked them!  He ate several right off the plate hot, which was a good sign.  They are definitely more filling than a regular corn or flour tortilla chip, which is probably good because I can really pack away the chips.

I’m going to experiment with a cinnamon sugar batch next time!

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Recipe of the week: Carrot and beet juice

It’s official.  I LOVE MY NEW JUICER!

Seriously, this thing is the bomb.

I am thoroughly enjoying my fresh juices after yoga class.  It’s just enough to make me feel full and I am replenishing my body with all the good things it needs to be happy. As I am pushing harder in class, I haven’t been sore at all- which I attribute to putting good things in my body.  I’m eating now almost 100% dairy and gluten/grain free.  Except for chips and salsa.  God help me.

Anyway, I tried a new juice recipe this week.  It’s delicious.

photo (4)

Sorry, I can’t get the image to rotate, but you get the picture.  It was a beautiful pinky red color.

The recipe:

  • 4 carrots
  • 1 red apple (I used a Fuji)
  • 1/2 of a medium beet
  • 1/2 lemon
  • small piece of ginger

I was surprised that it really didn’t taste like carrots.  Or beet.

It was fruity, a little tart, and a whole lot delicious.

Recipe of the week: Learning to juice

Yesterday was my first time that I skipped a planned Bikram class.  I felt terrible all day and I knew I was not going to make it through a 90 minute, sweaty class at 7 o’clock at night.  I felt guilty about it, but I’m so glad I recognized my limits.  I’ll be heading in tomorrow morning with a fresh body and ready to go.

This week, I took the plunge and started juicing.  Remember my failed blender attempt at green juice a couple of weeks ago?  I didn’t forget about it!    Over the weekend, Kevin and I went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond and got a juicer.  Not just a cheap one either.  For $150 this thing was sort of an investment.  It’s the Breville Juice Fountain Plus.

je98xl-zoom_1

 

I know, before you think I’ve gone off the deep end, hear me out.  I get home from yoga class at 8:45 at night and still have to take a shower.  I haven’t eaten then since 4 that afternoon.  I’m sweaty, thirsty, and I need to eat something but there is NO WAY I’m having dinner that late so many days a week.  So, I started thinking about it and decided on the juice route.  It is a great way to get nutrients without being heavy and I’m ensuring my body getting what it needs.

Mr. Hall was a little “errrrr” about this, so I made him watch the documentary “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead”. If you haven’t seen it, it’s basically about a guy who cures his autoimmune disorder through a 60 day juice fast and has maintained his health without medication by incorporating juicing into his diet.  In addition, he educates people and travels to talk about the benefits of getting your fruits and veggies in.  Kevin was quite inspired by this, especially because he has a very serious autoimmune disorder and I know he doesn’t want to be taking medicines for the rest of his life.

So it didn’t take much to get him on board and we bought the machine.  First of all, this thing is heavy duty.  They have some nicer ones, but I didn’t want to spend a lot on something that I didn’t know if I would actually like.  As I type this, I realize how ridiculous that sounds because if you know me, you know I don’t have a picky palate at all.  That’s why I have to watch what I eat!  Ha!

Anyway, Kevin had a crazy schedule this week and I didn’t want to start this without him, so we waited until last night to do it.  Unpacked the machine, read the directions, and agreed on a recipe:

  • 6 bunches of kale
  • 2 green apples
  • one cucumber
  • a small bit of fresh ginger
  • half of a lemon
  • 4 celery stalks, leaves and all

I spent some time on You Tube and watched other people make their juices.  Seems that many like this brand and model of juicer.  I learned that you should put the leafy greens in first so the other stuff can push it through that is more watery.

I was surprised by how much juice we got out- about a liter, and how dry the pulp bin was at the end.  I was expecting a soggy mess of pulp and it was very dry and almost dust-like.  This is a powerful machine!

So here is what we ended up with after it was all said and done…

photo (5)As you can see, we got two tall glasses out of the batch, with a little to spare in the juicing jug that came with the device. Note that the jug has some foamy juice in it.  There is a special spout that separates that out for you.  How cool is that?

I should mention that I had all of our ingredients in the fridge, so everything was nice and cold.

The verdict?  It was good!  The flavor was definitely unusual because of the celery and the ginger, but after the first few sips, I really started to like it.  It’s fresh and easy on the tummy.

Kevin, on the other hand, was a little slow to decide.  He finally decided that he did in fact like it!  Then, about 15 minutes into drinking (they aren’t something you chug down), he looks completely crazy.  He was hyper!  Juice high!

I could not stop laughing.  I guess he isn’t used to having so much fresh produce in his diet but he literally was bouncing off the walls for a good hour.  I can’t imagine if he did a juice fast what would happen.  It was nuts!

Cleanup of the machine was easy enough.  I’ve also read that you should immediately clean up before you even enjoy your juice because things get all dried up and hard to remove.  The pulp bin, jug, and top plastic parts were an easy rinse in the sink.  The only thing that was a little complicated was the actual round blade and the stainless steel mesh basket that everything goes through.  That was caked up with pulp.  The manual says to rinse it, then soak it in soapy water for 10 minutes before you scrub at it with the provided brush.  All in all though, not as bad as I thought it would be.

I am so happy I found something I can do for a meal after Bikram class.  I even went to the public library and got a book of juicer recipes to try.  I’m sure this isn’t the last you will hear about my new toy!

 

Recipe of the week: “I can eat that” bean-free chili

After my depressing post, I had quite a few people ask me if I really gained 4 pounds from the food I’m allergic to.  Yes, I can be dramatic, but this was no lie!  When I weighed myself this morning, I lost 3 pounds overnight.  Yep,  it’s official.  I have some serious food allergies.  I think it may be due to the fact that I started up the hot yoga in earnest recently.  It’s like my body is super sensitive to the good things and bad things I eat.

So after my meltdown with Mr. Hall, he promised to make me something I could eat for dinner this week and on days we are short on cooking time.  I love chili, but we usually make ours heavy on the beans.  I’ve read that people who have grain sensitivities often also have legume sensitivities, so I asked for a chili recipe without beans.  I found one online that seemed super tasty and different for both of our palates.

I’ve been trolling primal and paleo eating blogs, although I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m strictly going down that path.  I am getting some good recipe ideas from these blogs and that’s about it for now.  Like I mentioned before, I like to keep my options open.

This blog had a bunch of chili recipes that were all grain, dairy, and legume free.  At least I think they were from the ones I saw.  Anyway, there was one that caught my eye because it had bacon and sausage in it.  Instead of the ground beef and pork sausage, we opted for ground turkey and turkey sausage.  It was delicious!

Ingredients:
1 large carrot diced
1 green bell pepper chopped
1 yellow bell pepper chopped
1 red bell pepper chopped
1 yellow onion finly chopped
1 cup mushrooms chopped
2 tomotoes diced
4 cloves garlic minced
4 celery stocks chopped
4 fresh jalapenos chopped finely
1 large can beef broth (we used an organic brand)
1 large can diced tomotoes
1 large crushed tomotoes
1 large can tomato paste
1 lb smoked sausage links (we used a spicy smoked turkey sausage)
2 lbs lean ground beef (we used ground turkey)
10 Thick cut slices of bacon
1 tbsp paprika
3 tbsp chili powder
2 tbsp ground pepper
2 tsp cumin

Instructions: Chop carrot, bell peppers, mushrooms, jalapenos, celery, onion and add to crock pot. Mince garlic cloves and add to crock pot. Dice tomotoes and add to crock pot. Cut sausage into bite size slices and place in large skillet, heat on medium until skin has browned and add to crock pot. Place bacon in skillet and cook on medium until crispy. Remove bacon from skillet set aside on a paper towel. Drain most of bacon grease from skillet before adding ground beef. Add ground beef to skillet, cook on high until beef has browned. Add browned ground beef to crock pot (drain grease). Return to bacon and cut into small pieces and add to crock pot. Add beef broth, can of diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and spices to crock pot. Stir ingredients together. Turn crock pot on low and let sit for 6-8 hours.

chili overview (2)

As you can see, it has a ton of veggies in it but the meat products really make it like a stew.  It simmers down and becomes reduced in size and less chunky.  We have a big crock pot as you can see, but there was so much in this recipe, Mr. Hall actually ended up dividing it up into a smaller crockpot and this one.  We ate some immediately and put the rest into containers to freeze.

THE VERDICT:  delicious!  Heavy on the tomato flavor so we may add more spices next time.  Didn’t miss the beans at all.  Filling and flavorful.

Food experiment of the week: Green goop

Remember how I said that I was going to try a new recipe every week?  Well, I tried it last night and it was quasi-successful.  I’m not doing so hot with my track record- two weeks in a row of meh recipes.

This week, I wanted to try some green juice recipes but I don’t have a juicer.  This recipe probably would have been better with a juicer.  You will see why in a second.

So here it goes.  The ingredients.

  • Handful of kale
  • Handful of parsley
  • Juice of a lemon
  • A nub of fresh ginger (what is the proper way to “peel” this stuff?)
  • One green apple
  • Two stalks of celery
  • A cup of coconut milk from the failed recipe from last week

I blended it up and it looked pretty good.  It basically looked like this:

drink (2)

 

As you can see, it is very bright and definitely has some texture to it.  It was delicious, but really chewy.  I guess kale doesn’t really pulverize.

Time to get a juicer!

What to do with the leftover turkey from Thanksgiving

Every year, Mr. Hall cooks for Thanksgiving like an army is coming over.  Actually, he’s like that with most meals, but Thanksgiving is when he really goes overboard.  At least this year I convinced him to go easy on the turkey and just get a 14 pounder, as opposed to prior year 20 pound birds.  There’s only six of us, for christ’s sake.

I’m usually really good about getting the turkey used up into recipes and freezing them Thanksgiving weekend, but with the bathroom renovation last weekend it didn’t happen.  Instead, we picked the meat off the turkey and froze it.  About four pounds worth.

This time around, I made two things with my leftover turkey.  Cori, here’s another one for you!  I can’t promise it’s as healthy as the chili.

Turkey Enchilada Casserole

This has been my go-to recipe for the past couple of years with the leftover turkey.  I like the concept of a enchilada casserole because it freezes much better than rolled up enchiladas.  Anyway, here is my recipe below.  I doubled it, since I had so much turkey.

  • 1 1/2 pounds turkey
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano leaves or 1 tablespoon dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 can (12 oz.) red enchilada sauce
  • 1 can black beans.  Note: make sure to drain and rinse these well!
  • 12 corn tortillas (6 in. wide)
  • 2 cups shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese.  I’ve done it with a Mexican blend cheese too.

Start by chopping up your onions.  I like mine in pieces that are small but not too small.

Then, I got busy with chopping up the turkey.  This is what takes forever.  I spent 30 minutes chopping up the bird bits.  By the time I was done, this is what I had left.

Anyone notice the owl sighting in the upper corner?  Well, hello Mr. Owl salt shaker.

In a 5- to 6-quart pot over high heat, saute up your onion, garlic, oregano, and cumin in olive oil.  Stir in 1 cup enchilada sauce. Add salt to taste.  (Note: This year, I added all of the enchilada sauce,  since I didn’t feel like layering the sauce).    Then, add in the black beans.  My doubled recipe filled up my 5 quart pot to the top!  I added a little extra sauce because I knew I would be freezing this up and the extra moisture would help.

Doesn’t that look tasty?  If you’d like, make it saltier or spicier.  I let it warm up on the stove for a few minutes, which gives me an opportunity to cut my corn tortillas in half.

Since I had a big batch, I used two large casserole dishes.  Layer a good amount of halved tortillas on the bottom of the casserole dish.   Then, get busy layering with the turkey mixture, then shredded cheese, then another thin layer of tortillas.  Repeat until it goes to the top.

Sometimes, I will do it a little different if I don’t mix all of the enchilada sauce.  Instead, I’ll arrange a fourth of the halves evenly over the bottom of the casserole, overlapping to fit. Sprinkle a fourth of the cheese evenly over the tortillas, then top with a third of the turkey mixture and a fourth of the remaining enchilada sauce, spreading each level. Repeat to make two more layers of tortillas, cheese, turkey mixture, and sauce; top with another layer of tortillas and sauce, then cheese.  Either way, it still comes out the same.  It’s constructed just like lasagna.  Serve the same way!

Here’s a shot of the layering process, then one finished and one in progress.

Cheese.  CHEESE!!!

Disclaimer for Cori.  I always buy the 2% cheese.

Bake in a 425° regular or convection oven until cheese is melted and casserole is hot in the center, 18 to 20 minutes.

Here’s what it looks like out of the oven.

I usually let it come back down to room temperature and put it in the fridge overnight.  Then, the next day I cut it up into my trusty Rubbermaid containers and freeze them.  I will get 5 meals out of what I just made above.

This year, since the amount of leftover turkey was still ridiculous, I had some leftover turkey enchilada mixture.  I decided to make my trusty nacho taco mix.  I basically just added in a can of corn and stirred it up!

What is nacho taco mix, you ask?  Well, it’s basically just like chili but not as runny.  Since the enchilada mix is almost like that, I decided to go ahead and put the corn in there.  Nacho taco mix is what Mr. Hall uses to make nachos or tacos.  Easy!  I just get pint sized freezer bags and label them…

Then, I put a few scoops of the mixture into the bags.  Flatten them out and seal.  From this mixture, I have five more meals!

To reheat the enchilada casserole, I just take it out and pop it in the microwave.

To reheat the nacho taco mix, just take the bag and put it in a microwave safe dish.  High heat for a minute.  Loosen the bag and pour the frozen blob into the dish.  Defrost on 60% for like 8 minutes or so.

Turkey in Mexican food=surprisingly delicious.

Mr. Hall’s famous chili

All I do is talk about food when I’m in training with Cori.  Seems a little counterproductive, but I see her during dinnertime.  What do you expect???  This girl doesn’t skip meals.  I always have food on the brain.

Anyway, I’m always touting the benefits of cooking in bulk and freezing food for later on.  With me and Mr. Hall’s crazy schedules, there are some nights were it’s all we can do to get something out of the freezer and warm it up.  Well, Cori was lamenting the same thing, so I suggested that she start learning to do this and get busy.

Our conversation was very timely, because Kevin was making chili last night and I’m planning on making my leftover turkey enchiladas from Thanksgiving today.   This post is for anyone who is looking for a new chili recipe and for you, Cori.  I promise this one is healthy.

Mr. Hall’s Famous Chili

  • 1.5-2 pounds ground turkey (go for the 15% kind here.  If you get the super lean turkey, it will be like rubber.  For reals.  I promise that there really won’t be a lot of fat in the pan)
  • 1 red onion
  • bell peppers of your choosing (usually a couple green here)
  • Spices: cayenne pepper, cumin, oregano, chili powder, paprika, sea salt, crushed red pepper flakes, black pepper, and Tony Chacheres spicy herb blend
  • 2 cans Busch’s chili starter in Texas medium (green label)
  • 1 can Busch’s medium chili beans (drained)
  • 2 cans black beans (drained)
  • 2 cans dark red kidney beans (drained)
  • 1 can light red kidney beans (drained)
  • 1 can great north kidney beans (drained)
  • 3 cans diced or stewed tomatoes (do not drain these)
It’s best to get all of your things ready before you start this process.  Note what to drain and what not to drain.  Open the cans and have them ready.  Your countertop is about to be a disaster.
In a saute pan of good size, brown up your chopped peppers and onions in some olive oil.  Add your meat and brown it up.  Make sure to break up the meat real good.
The next part is where things get a little sketch with the directions in this recipe.  I rarely am allowed to hang out in the kitchen when Kevin is making this chili, since it really is quite the production.  I have no idea HOW MUCH spices he puts in.  When I asked him last night, he said, “to taste”.  Sorry peeps, you are on your own with this one.  I’ve snuck in a couple of times, so I have seen him add them.  He usually just opens the top of the spice bottle, shakes it a couple of times and that’s it.  I recommend you add in your spices now and be conservative about it.
Waiting on the stove is a large stock pot.  We use a tall one.
Dump EVERYTHING into the pot.  The meat mixture and all canned products.  Stir and marvel at your genius.  Taste it.  Decide if it needs more spices.  Sometimes, he will use a spicier chili starter or diced tomatoes that are spicy.  I warn you, as it heats up on the stove, it can get spicier.  I don’t know why.
But I digress.  Dump it all into the big pot and bring to a boil.  Let it simmer for about an hour (or more) with a lid on.    Make sure to stir it every once in awhile.  Taste it again and decide if you need more spices.
When I got home, the house smelled like chili (warning, the ENTIRE house will smell like chili for a day or two) and this is what it looked like:
Notice the deep red color and how many beans are in there.  You have to like beans to like this chili.  I promise it won’t make you miserably gassy.   The lentil family is so rarely eaten by Americans.  We must eat our protein-ridden lentils once in awhile people!  We can’t get all of our protein from meats all the time.  It’s just not healthy.
I usually eat two cups of this, which comes out to around 7 Weight Watchers Plus Points, if you are curious.  Usually, Mr. Hall makes some cornbread with it.  We put the cornbread in the bottom of a bowl, top it with the chili, and I like mine with light sour cream and some cheddar.
For the purpose of this presentation, he put everything on a shallow bowl so you could see how much food you get for a healthy meal.
After we both had our meals (with a little extra seconds), we got out our trusty 4 or 5 cup Rubbermaid containers and filled them up.  We were able to fill up four of them, so will have four more dinners already done.  I usually put them in the fridge overnight to make sure they are cold, then I put them in the freezer.  They last for a good 6 months.
I hope you like it, Cori!  I will be posting my turkey casserole soon!