Sweet and Sour Chicken (Whole 30)

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Today’s post is going to be about random  stuff that made me happy today.  I got an email shipping confirmation saying my Nom Nom Paleo Ready or Not Cookbook is on its way.  My best guess is it should be here no later than when I get home from work on Saturday.  Ever since I got a sneak peek for preordering the book, I have been dying to have it in my hot little hands.

My rats are totally dorking out.  When I feed my rats they each have a place they like to hoard food.  Callie takes her stash into the left hand corner of the cage.  Bug takes her share of the stash into the little wooden cave they have.  Today I watched each of them try to steal the others stash.  As Bug would come out of the cave and head toward Callie’s stash, Callie would head into the cave to steal Bug’s stash.  Sometimes they would have to climb over each other to get to the other’s stash.  This went on for about 5 minutes until Callie had enough and laid on her stash so Bug couldn’t get it no matter how hard she tried. Silly ratty girls.

The grocery store near my house had Mocha bars.  Mocha bars are just slices of angel food cake frosted with buttercream frosting then rolled crushed peanuts but they are my absolute favorite summer treat. The store doesn’t make them very often because they are labor intensive.

I tried a recipe for Whole 30 approved Sweet and Sour chicken.   I love Chinese food but it is definitely not the healthiest choice out there.  I certainly didn’t think Chinese food would be something I could eat on my next Whole 30.  I found a blog called I Heart Umami.  It is filled with Whole 30/Paleo Chinese food. Some of the recipes are a little more involved then I usually make but the recipes are not difficult.  They definitely taste amazing and are worth the effort.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

adapted from I Heart Umami

1 1/2 chicken breasts, thinly sliced or cut into small chunks

1/4 green bell pepper, diced

1/4 red bell  pepper, diced

Aromatics

1/4 of a yellow onion

1 scallion bulb

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1-2 slices ginger, chopped

Marinade

1/2 tsp kosher salt (if using soy sauce, salt to taste)

2 1/2 TBS coconut aminos (sub soy sauce, if not Whole 30)

1/8 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1 TBS egg white

Sweet and Sour Sauce

2 1/2 TBS pineapple juice

2 TBS dried apricots,   chopped small

1 TBS coconut aminos (sub soy sauce, if not Whole 30)

2  1/2 TBS rice vinegar

1 1/2 tsp tomato sauce

1 pinch salt (salt to taste, if using soy sauce)

1 -2 TBS water or chicken stock

In a small pan over low heat, combine the sauce ingredients. Cook the sauce until the fruit is soft, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add 1 -2 tablespoons water to thin the sauce.  Mash the fruit until the sauce is the consistency you like.

Combine all the ingredients for the marinade.  Thinly slice or cube the  chicken and mix with the marinade; set aside.

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil or ghee over medium-high heat.  When hot, lower the heat to medium.  Add the chicken and fry until golden brown.  Set aside to drain on paper towels.

Heat a frying pan over medium heat, melt the oil.  When hot add the aromatics.  Season with a small pinch of salt.  Stir fry for 5 – 10 seconds.  Add the diced bell peppers. Stir fry for 5 -10 seconds.  Add the chicken back to the skillet.  Add the sweet and sour sauce.  Keep stir frying the chicken until cooked through.

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Chicken Curry Hot Plate (Whole 30)

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I got a really good deal on boneless, skinless, chicken breasts at Hornbachers on Saturday so this week is going to be chicken week on A Solitary Feast.

Let’s start chicken week with an idea I stole from Melissa Joulawan’s Well Fed Cookbook.  Melissa’s idea is brilliant in it’s simplicity so brilliant it hurts.   Her idea is called a hot plate.  She cooks up a couple of kinds of protien at the beginning of the week then uses the basic formula of  3 – 6 oz of protien + 2 cups vegetables + seasoning + good fat to get meals on the table during the week in 15 minutes or so.  Like I said, the idea is so brilliant it hurts.  Melissa then gives over 40 different hot plate ideas to try.

The problem is I am not much of a meal prepper so I am probably not going to have pre cooked proteins laying around.  I love the idea so much, though, I have been playing around with it to see if I could make them totally from scratch and still keep the prep and cooking time to 20 minutes or less.  The good new is you can.  I will be posting more of my hot plate recipes as  I go along.   I used my homemade Madras Curry powder.  You can find the recipe here.  You could use any curry powder you have if you don’t want to make your own.

Chicken Curry Hot Plate

adapted from Well Fed Cookbook

1 6 – 8 oz  boneless, skinless chicken breast

1/4 small onion, diced

1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes

1 – 2 tsp curry powder

a big handful of fresh spinach

1 tsp olive oil

salt, to taste

In a 12″ skillet, heat the olive oil.  Add  the onion and saute until translucent.  Add the chicken, tomatoes, curry powder and salt.  Mix well.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, 10 minutes.  Add the spinach and cover until the spinach is wilted.  

How To Roast Any Vegetable

I love Brussels sprouts.  I make them frequently for a side with my work lunch. I also frequently get  really disgusted looks when I am eating them in the break room.   I get it.  Most people have only had overcooked, mushy,  farty smelling, boiled to death Brussels sprouts.  But there is a way to cook Brussels sprouts, and most other vegetables, that avoids all downfalls of boiled vegetables.  The method is called roasting.

Like most cooking techniques, roasting isn’t hard but there are somethings you need to know to help you be a master roaster.

  1.  Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  You want to have your oven as hot as possible so turn it on, set it at 425 degrees and let go for at least 15 minutes before adding your vegetables.
  2. Don’t skimp on the oil.  Start drizzling about 1 tablespoon of oil over the vegetables and use your hands to toss the vegetables.  Each individual piece of  vegetable should be slick and glossy with oil.  If you need to add another teaspoon or two of oil.  Avoid having puddles of oil on the bottom of the sheet pan.
  3. Don’t crowd the pan.  Leave some space between the vegetables.  If you crowd the pan, the vegetables will steam rather than roast.  Steaming is a viable cooking method but not what we are going for here.  If you have a lot of vegetables it is better to use two or more pans.
  4. When is it done?  The technical answer is the vegetables are done roasting when they are tender with a bit of char on them.  Char being  the brown, crispy bits that are full of flavor on the vegetables.  The non technical answer is the vegetables are done whenever they are tender enough and charred enough for you.  I find this means different things for different vegetables.  Don’t be afraid to experiment to find out what this means for you.

How To Roast Any Vegetable

1 lb vegetable

1 – 2 olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Clean and trim yourvegetables.  Put the vegetables on a rimmed sheet pan and toss until each vegetable is slick and glossy with oil.  Roast until the vegetables are tender and charred.

Asparagus             10 – 20 minutes

Cabbage                 10 – 20 minutes

Carrots                   30 – 45 minutes

Potatoes                 30 – 45 minutes

Broccoli                  15 – 20 minutes

Cauliflower            15 – 25 minutes

Brussels Sprouts    15 – 25 minutes

Green Beans            10 – 20  minutes

Zucchini                   10 – 20 minutes

Sumer Squash         10 – 20 minutes

Onions                       30 – 45 minutes

Tomatoes                  15 – 20 minutes

 

 

Pan Fried Sardines (Whole 30)

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This morning I woke up with a case of pink eye.  Who the hell gets pink eye in July?  To make matters worse, today is my day off so I didn’t even get to call in sick to work.  I spent the whole day feeling miserable because  I never get a mild case of pink eye, I get a massive case of pink eye.  The first time I got pink eye, I called my Aunt Janis at 1 am because I was convinced I was going blind because the infection under my eye lid almost swelled my eye shut. When I saw my doctor later that day, he said he had never seen an adult with such a bad case of pink eye in his whole career.

I know I will be fine in 24 hours but I still spent most of the day feeling sorry for myself because I don’t feel sick but I know I am contagious so I can’t go out and do the things I wanted to do today.  I can’t go out and get everyone else sick too so all I did was lay on the couch and watched movies through one eye.  On second thought, there are worse ways to spend your day off.

Pan Fried Sardines

from Mel Joulwan’s Well Fed Cookbook

1 (3.75 oz) can sardines in olive oil

1 TBS lemon juice

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced, optional

1 TBS arrowroot

1/4 tsp ground cumin

pinch cayenne

pinch paprika

salt and pepper, to taste

2 tsp olive oil

shredded lettuce or other greens

In a small bowl, combine the olive oil from the sardines with the juice of a small lemon.   Add the sardines and marinate for at least 30 minutes to 60 minutes.  On a small plate, combine the arrowroot, cumin, cayenne, paprika and salt and pepper. Mix well.  When you are ready to cook, heat a small pan over high heat and add the olive oil.   When the olive oil is hot, take each sardine from the marinade and coat with flour.  Lay each sardine in the pan and cook 2-3 minutes per side.  Serve over the lettuce or other greens with the leftover marinade.  It is okay to do this because the sardines are already cooked.

 

Sheet Pan Pork Chop Dinner — Nom Nom Paleo — A Review (Whole 30)

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One of the hardest parts of doing my 1st Whole 30 was not having access to my big white binder of recipes for one or two or my regular cookbooks and recipe blogs for inspiration.  Towards the end of my Whole 30 I started to run out of new compliant recipes to try and food boredom started setting in.  Food boredom is deadly for someone who likes to cook and eat as much as I do.  When I decided to do a second round of Whole 30, I decided to have a list of Whole 30/Paleo blogs to explore in front of my little black binder of Whole 30 recipes binder.

One of the first Whole 30/Paleo blogs that I found that I really liked was Michelle Tam and Henry Fong’s Nom Nom Paleo.   How do I love this blog?  Let me count the ways.

  1.  60 days of Whole 30 compliant recipes all gathered in one place for you.  The recipes cover everything from spice blends, to sauces, to main meals of every kind.
  2. The recipes are for food I want to eat.   I don’t have time or money for recipes that take all day  to cook and have a lot of expensive hard to find ingredients. Neither does Michelle. With the exception of her Insta-Pot and Sous Vide machine she doesn’t use fancy equipment.  Most of the ingredients for her recipes can be found in any grocery store.
  3. Whole 30 Insta-Pot recipes.  You all know how I love my pressure cooker.  It was nice to know that with all the changes I made in my diet for my Whole 30, somethings could remain the same.
  4. Michelle’s food just tastes good.
  5. Michelle’s recipes are always reliable and turn out well, if you follow her instructions.
  6. I love Michelle and Henry’s podcast.
  7. I love Michelle and Henry’s sense of humor.

In the almost three months since I finished my Whole 30 I still have one or two Nom Nom Paleo recipes on my menu plan each week.  I have bought their cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo Food For Humans and pre ordered their new cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo Ready or Not, that comes out August 1 .  They will be in constant use in my house, whether or not I am on a Whole 30 or decide to go Paleo after my next Whole 30 in September.

One Pan Pork Chop Dinner

adapted from Michelle Tam an Henry Fong’s One and Done Ebook

11/2 TBS olive oil

juice of half  a lemon

1 TBS chopped fresh sage

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp kosher salt

2 bone in pork chops, 1 inch thick about 1 pound total

1 fuji apple, cored and cut into 8 wedges

1/2 lb brussels sprouts, halved or quartered

1/4 large red onion, peeled and cut into 6 wedges through the poles

ground black pepper

Aged balsamic vinegar

Preheat te oven to 450 degrees.  In a bowl, combine 1 1/2  teaspoons olive oil, lemon juice, sage, garlic and 3/4 tsp salt,  mix well.  Cover the pork chops with this mixture.  On a rimmed baking sheet, place the pork chops on the pan.  Toss the apple wedges, brusslls sprouts, and onion with the remaining 1 1/2  teaspoon olive oil and 1/4 tsp salt.  Spread the vegetables in a single layer around the pork chops.  Roast for 12 minutes or until the internal temperature of the pork registers 140 degrees.  Turn the heat to broil and cook an additional  3-5 minutes or until the pork and veggies are browned.  Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and serve.