Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving!

It's hard to believe it's already Thanksgiving again, right? It seems like we were just going to be beach and the SD Fair, now it's already November! We decided to stay in San Diego for the holiday and have a few military pals over for lunch. I spent most of the day preparing everything for tomorrow, so no real cooking will be happening in the morning just a lot of putting things in the oven. 

As I type there are three pies cooling on the counter. I'll have to get back to you on how that actually turns out after they are cut and sampled. I've never made a pie before tonight and I'm pretty sure I just invented a scrambled egg pecan pie... I have delusions of grandeur because my mom is maybe the best cook in North America, so after my pecan pie fiasco I think I've been knocked back into reality. The recipe said brown the butter, then add other ingredients. I added eggs first and they started to cook before I could add the other things in, so it was like egg drop pecan pie filling. Like I said, I'll just have to report back about that... 
Happy Thanksgiving from Gray! 
I may not say it enough, but I have so many things to be thankful for and I love having a holiday just to reflect on those things one day every year. I am most thankful for having the most wonderful husband on Earth, a crazy/perfect little boy, fabulous family, amazing friends, good health, a nice home, a warm bed, plenty of food to eat, and a Heavenly Father that loves me more than I can imagine. How can I not be thankful today? Happy Thanksgiving everyone! 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Paleo Sweet Potato Cottage Pie

Josh and I recently started a new "diet." For anyone who hasn't heard about Paleo, the short version is you eat like a caveman would eat. He wouldn't have had grains, milk, cheese, yogurt, bread, pasta, processed foods, added sugars, juices, etc. He would have had limited amounts of nuts and berries. The things that are on the yes list are basically eggs, any spices, mustard, all meat, fish, shrimp, almost all vegetables, fruit, coconut oil, coconut milk, and some other random things. We did the diet very strictly for several weeks (and as long as you plan what you will be eating it isn't really all that hard) then decided to cheat on the weekends because it is hard to go into a restaurant and be totally Paleo. 

We had pancakes a few Saturdays ago and felt miserable for half of the day. We usually cheat for 2-3 meals on the weekend, that may mean having bread or a beer or some rice. It's a fairly restrictive diet, because anything you would run out of the door with is basically off limits. You shop around the outside edges of the grocery store, so you have no processed foods which are the fast foods to grab. It's restrictive in that you can't eat all the junk that we are all accustomed to eating all the time, but all the foods you are eating are "whole foods" so it's a much healthier way to eat in general. 

I think we will continue to follow it as a lifestyle, but it is too restrictive to completely follow every single day for the rest of our lives. I have modified the diet to suit us by adding milk (I drink a glass every morning and it was probably what I missed the most), corn, and beans back into our meals occasionally. I'm still staying away from processed foods, pasta, bread, yogurt, cheese, etc. I'm still buying applesauce and fruit snacks for Gray, but he eats Paleo meals with us. This diet may sound strange but the food is good and still normal for the most part, just think about a steak and baked sweet potato. That's Paleo! 

Anyway, I like sharing recipes that I cook and enjoy, so this Paleo recipe is no different. I turned to my FaceBook friends a few weeks ago for places to find Paleo recipes. They send me several really good links including www.fastpaleo.com. I found this recipe for Cottage Pie and had to try it. Cottage Pie has comfort food written all over it! Well I tried it this week, and it was a hit. I tweaked the recipe for flavor using the ingredients listed below. I doubled the meat, used a whole tiny can of tomato paste, more Worcestershire, more garlic, more onion, more sweet potatoes, etc. The recipe was very easy to put together, and I think it would be super easy to modify and add or take things out. I'd like to add more vegetables next time for example. I added all the extras because I doubled the meat, but I would recommend adding the ingredients and when the meat is done, continue to add salt or pepper or tomato paste until you are happy with the flavor. 

Anyway, here is the Sweet Potato Cottage Pie from: http://fastpaleo.com/sweet-potato-cottage-pie/

Ingredients: 
-1 lb ground beef (Paleo people want you to buy organic, grass-fed beef)
-2 medium carrots, finely chopped
-1 large white onion, finely chopped
-1 tbs minced garlic
-1 tbsp tomato paste
-1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
-a small handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped (I omitted this.)
-2 medium sweet potatoes
-1 tbsp mayonnaise 
-1 cup grated cheddar cheese (this isn't Paleo at all, so I only used a small handful).

Filling: 
1. In a large saucepan warm the olive oil over medium-low heat and add the onion, carrots, and garlic. Gently fry for 10 minutes until softened. 
2. Add the minced beef, breaking up the larger chunks and turn up the heat slightly so it will brown. Stir in the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, salt and a generous hit of black pepper. Simmer until the meat is tender. 
3. Transfer to a 9" pie pan. 

Topping: 
1.Peel and dice the potatoes. Put them in a boiler with a pinch of salt, cover with water and bring to a boil. Boil the potatoes for 20 minutes or until tender. 
2. When ready drain them off, add the butter, mayo, and half of the cheese. Mash thoroughly until a creamy, smooth texture. 
3. Spoon the mixture onto the meat base, taking care to ensure it is speed evenly. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top (I skipped this.) and put under the broiler for about 10 minutes until the topping browns.