25 January 2013

Roast Turkey with Pomegranate-Orange Glaze

Let me tell you about how cold it is.  Negative twenty wind chill.  A full week of single digit highs.  Time to hunker down with some comfort foods and pretend that at some point, your car will heat up.  Let me tell you about my accidental turkey.
The grocery store was having a sale on turkey breasts.  I figured a turkey breast would be sold just like chicken breasts.  Well, I know turkey breasts are a sizable cut of meat, but the frozen breast I bought seemed extraneously large (am I saying 'breast' too much?).  Turns out, it was the entire chest cavity.  Basically the whole birds sans arms or legs. Wings or legs.  I mean, why not just sell me the whole bird?  So this is what I discovered at 6pm on a weeknight when I intended to roast it.  Surprise late night.  Who needs sleep.
I juiced two oranges and one pomegranate and mixed the juices with some honey, garlic, dried basil and oregano, S&P.  I was supposed to marinate the turkey, but I couldn't fit it in any containers so...I just let them rest in the baking dish for a while.
Loosen the skin by hand, then place small slices of butter under the skin.  Add some water so the turkey is sitting in 1/2 to 3/4 inch of liquid.  Roast!  350 for 2+ hours (until a meat thermometer reads at least 170* in the thickest part of the breast).  Baste every 20 minutes.  If turkey gets too dark, cover loosely with tin foil.
Oh, I roasted it with one onion (cut into large chunks) and one sweet potato.
When out of the oven, let the turkey rest to soak up the juices.  Then put the turkey on a separate platter and scoop the solids out into a separate container.  Save the liquid to make a fantastic pomegranate-orange gravy.
Succulent, moist sliced turkey...it's like a little taste of Thanksgiving to help get you through those cold winter months.

Roast Turkey with Pomegranate-Orange Glaze
  • 1 thawed turkey "breast"- entire chest cavity
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 2 oranges
  • 3 cloves of garlic, flattened
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 1 tbs dried basil
  • 1/2 tbs dried oregano
  • S&P
  • 1/2 stick of butter (1/4 cup)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 sweet potato
  • water
1.  Juice the pomegranate and oranges.  Mix with garlic, honey, basil, oregano and S&P to taste.
2.  Rinse turkey and pat dry.  Marinate the turkey in juice mixture for 1 to 3 hours.
3.  Preheat the oven to 350*.  Loosen the skin of the turkey from the meat.  Slice up the butter and place pieces between skin and meat.
4.  Put turkey and marinade in roasting pan.  Chop the onion and sweet potato into large chunks and place around the turkey.  Add water to the pan so the liquid is 1/2 go 3/4 inch deep.
5.  Roast the turkey for 2 to 2.5 hours (until meat thermometer reads 170* in the thickest part of the breast).  Baste every 20 minutes.  If turkey starts to brown too fast, cover loosely with foil.
6.  When the turkey is done roasting, let it rest for ten minutes to soak up some juices.

I recommend reserving the pan liquids to make gravy.  Turkeys aren't scary!  You can totally do this.
In addition, let me tell you about how difficult it was to type this all out with a faulty spacebar.  Possibly my most-used key whilst typing...

19 January 2013

Southwest Lime Salmon

Things happening today:  hockey is FINALLY starting.  Wings play tonight!  On a related note, it looks like today will be a good day for skating on the lake and I'm going to test it out.  I am drinking bone broth that's fatty enough to double as lip balm.  My shamrock is blooming and the flowers are so cute and petite.  Salmon is probably my favorite fish ever and I always have some in the freezer.
I am guilty of overspicing everything.  I like huge amounts of flavor.  So I went a little overboard with the southwest seasoning.  But when combined with lime...well, I make no apologies.
Bake to perfection, then place on a bed of spinach, cilantro, habanero cheddar, and if you're really looking for a flavor kick, dried cranberries.
And no apologies.  Life's too short to regret something this good.

Southwest Lime Salmon
  • 2 (5 ounce) salmon fillets, bones removed
  • fresh cracked pepper and sea salt
  • southwest seasoning
  • 1 lime, sliced
1.  Preheat your oven to 450.
2.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick spray.
3.  Place salmon fillets on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle fillets with southwest seasoning and the salt and pepper.  Place 2 lime slices on top of each fillet. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove and tent with aluminum foil for 10 more minutes. Fish will continue to cook during this time. It will flake easily when done.

I like to serve my salmon over a bed of greens.  It's a good way to get those fresh greens while still having a hot meal.

11 January 2013

Paleo Granola Bars

In my quest to keep January sugar-free, I needed something sweet to tide over those cravings.  Not that I get a lot of sugar cravings anymore, but especially when I eat something spicy I really feel the need to balance it out with a sweeter flavor.
Sometimes I feel guilty about posting recipes like this.  It's so customizable that sometimes I wonder if it's even worth calling a recipe.  It's more like a suggestion of how to start, and then you can pretty much add whatever you want.  Allergic to almonds?  Substitute with cashews.  Don't like coconut?  Leave it out.  Have dried cherries on hand instead of mixed berries?  Perfectly fine.  Amounts, too - only have a cup of nuts on hand?  Do it.  Sick of your loud food processor?  So don't process the "granola" as much.  No big deal, guys!  These are easy!
I used slivered almonds and crumb-size pecans, so I really just threw all my ingredients into the food processor and let it rip.  If you start out with whole nuts, process those first until they are a more manageable size.  I'm not going to tell you what that size is because it really doesn't matter too much. 
The whole internet (okay, mostly paleo food blogs) is going crazy for medjool dates.  That is a thing that I would have to travel at least an hour to find, and even then I'm not sure it would actually be available.  So imagine my surprise when my local discount grocer was selling 2 kg of medjool dates for a shockingly low price!  I split a package with my brother.  This endeavor is made possible by that joyous little find.
Okay, confession:  I threw some chocolate chips into these because I had about half a cup left from holiday baking, and because I thought I might need a little help in enjoying these (I had never tried a Medjool date before).  Turns out they would have been fine without.  Lesson learned.  Oh, and I didn't add the chocolate chips until after the food processor step was done.  I kneaded them in by hand.  Easy peasy.

I found my base recipe by googling "paleo protein bars."  So rumor has it these are high in protein as well.  I haven't actually calculated out the macronutrient content but I'm 100% certain the carb content is higher than the protein content.  Also, the author touted this recipe as a homemade version of the Lara bar.  I don't eat Lara bars so I can't say one way or the other how similar it is.  But maybe that's something that interests you, so I'm sharing it here.

Paleo Granola Bars (loosely inspired by this recipe)
  • 1 c raw almonds
  • 3/4 c raw pecans
  • 12 Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1+ c dried mixed berries (unsweetened)  --or whatever dried fruit you have on hand!
  • 2 tbs coconut oil
  • 1/2 c finely shredded coconut flakes (unsweetened)  --optional
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 c chocolate chips --optional
1.  Pulse the nuts in the food processor until they are smaller than whole pieces.  Basically whatever size sounds good to you.
2.  Add the remaining ingredients (except the chocolate chips) and process in food processor until well combined.  Remove from food processor and work in chocolate chips.
3.  Put a sheet of wax paper on a cookie sheet.  Dump the "granola" mixture on the wax paper and flatten. 
Clean method:  put a second piece of was paper on top of the mixture and roll out with a rolling pin. 
Hands-on method:  wash your hands, then work the mixture flat with your hands.  Spread out until 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick.  Or maybe you want them a bit thicker.  It's really a matter of taste.

I got roughly 15 bars from this recipe.  I forgot to count.  But it really doesn't matter, because my real recommendation is to cut them as big as you want them.  Like I said, customizable!

04 January 2013

January Goals and 2013 Goals

It's a new year!  A clean slate, a blank page, just waiting for me to write something new every day.  Think of the possibilities!  Okay, yeah, that doesn't sound like me.  But the truth is that every day is full of choices and while there are some choices I am going to make, every single time (Do I go to work today?  Do I put effort into my job?) there are also some things that are optional that I should be choosing.
Photo unrelated.

So let's start with what I'm going to make happen this year:
  • 2012 was SO BUSY.  What was I even doing?  I feel like I constantly ran out of time and looking back, I don't feel like that was meaningful.  So I'm taking 2013 to live simply.  Enjoy time with friends, go camping, keep a few hobbies.  But for the most part, I'm not going to sweat the small stuff.  
  • Garden is a big part of my year.  I feel like I put a lot of effort into the garden for not such a great return.  Let's say my time is worth $5 an hour while gardening (because I enjoy it, but it is WORK).  How much time do I spend cultivating tomatoes for the return?  Would it make more sense to just buy tomatoes at the farmer's market?  Last year's garden was an experiment, this year's garden is a labor of love.
  • Talk more.  Cultivate relationships.  I've been exploring this lately - it's getting easier to become a social island every day.  You can communicate with friends via text, email, facebook, etc.  You can use the self-checkout at the grocery.  I hate calling people on the phone, and can easily avoid it.  But the thing is, it's healthy to talk to people.  Check out this story about how a community of Italians avoided Western diseases by cultivating personal connections.  I'm going to spend 2013 asking cashiers how their day is going, and actually caring about the answer.
So nothing too life-changing.  Definitely doable, and hopefully habits that will continue to grow long beyond this year.

Let's break it down for January!
  • Part of January's living simply is to avoid time wasters like facebook and mindless TV.  Read more, talk more, live in the world more.   
  • In addition, January also sounds like a good time to avoid sugar.  I think it's safe to say that December is a month of over-consumption of sugar, which times January perfectly for cutting back.
  • Make more wine.  I know.  We somehow ended up with a bunch of wine kits and I've got one brewing right now.  A blackberry zinfandel, doesn't that sound interesting?  I have a feeling it's going to be a little sweet for my tastes.
  • Hockey game!  My parents are taking us kids out to a game as part of our Christmas swag.  In the past we've gone to see the Wings, but the flippin NHL can't get its act together.  But this will be just as fun.
  • A trip to Chicago!  The summer was all about traveling north, so the winter is going to be all about traveling south.  Sort of like snowbirds, except that the distance traveled is proportional to age (ie I'm about a third of the age of a snowbird, so I'm only going about a third of the way south...it's a bit of a stretch.  Just let me have it).
January is already looking pretty full, but it's mostly trips and legit hobbies, so I think I plan to live simply in January.   We'll see.  Is it possible to be busy but still live simply?

01 January 2013

Recap of December and 2012 Goals

2012 is coming to a close, and that means it's time to recap my month and my year.  I'm currently enjoying the crap out of my holiday vacation, although I'm glad it's not permanent.
New for 2013!  Check out the RECIPES page.  Complete with some semblance of organization, and photos!
Recipes Page

December goals:
  • I had a giant, 5-hour, open book test.  I didn't expect to pass, but I did!  I don't know how close I was because I don't get told my score, but as long as I passed I guess it doesn't matter!
  • De-label and clean wine bottles for…
  • …Bottling wine.  Bottle cleaning is an ongoing process, and the wine has been bottled.  I also started another batch of wine, which is why I continue to clean wine bottles.
  • Keep Christmas an un-materialistic as possible.  I got more presents than I need, for sure, but everything I got will definitely be used.  I also enjoyed giving and receiving intangible gifts like trips and outings.  January is almost full from all the planned trips now!  Love it.
  • Holidays mean road trips and family gatherings and big meals and a teensy bit too much wine.  All of those things happened, including a 200 mile trip completed at an average of 35mph due to a terrible snow storm.  After all the accidents we saw, I'm thankful that our trip was just a long one, not an expensive one too.  Other than that, it was really good to catch up with family and make some plans for 2013.
  • Dance.  December was a month of dancing!  Zumba, learning a couple dances on my own, and just generally being more light on my feet.  It was a fun goal.
2012 goals:
  • Travel:  I went to Ecuador!  I went backpacking at Knobstone.  I also went on a road trip in November.  I went on various other trips around the state of Michigan, mostly camping at some pretty beautiful parks.
  • Blogging:  I blogged pretty regularly.  3x per week was taking up too much of my time so I dropped down to 2x for the summer and then somehow in fall that fell to 1x per week...and then in December I missed a couple weeks.  Bleh.  But I'm considering this goal as met.
  • Goal-setting:  I really enjoyed making goals for myself each month and then seeing how I did at the end of the month.  I didn't always succeed, but by setting goals, I accomplished more than I would have otherwise.
  • Fatigue:  whatever.  It's still something that I live with.  I probably should have a sleep study done if I'm really serious about figuring this out.  
Okay, now time for my favorite photos of 2012!
Paleo Shamrock Shakes

4th of July
Feta-stuffed basil burgers
Black raspberry gin fizz
Grilled salsa verde
 And that wraps up a pretty fantastic year.  Can't wait to see what 2013 brings!