Pizza Plantains

Y’all… I have done a thing.  This thing.plantain pizza 2

This thing just might be the reason for world peace one day… or the reason the Internet crashes.  I don’t know.  All is possible now that this exists.  I have no shame in admitting this was my entire dinner on Super Bowl Sunday.  This recipe is the combination of two of man’s greatest culinary feats: Tostones and Pizza.  Long story short: MAKE THEM.

I’d also like to say that since starting food allergen testing, I made the beautiful (and potentially dangerous) discovery that I am, in fact, tolerant of dairy.  For the longest time, I thought that dairy was the culprit in my terrible recurrences of dairy.  Through the Body By Butter Bootcamp, which I am still participating in, I was able to discover that high-quality cheese and keifer do not actually make me feel bad OR cause my skin to break out. I tested both goat dairy and cow’s dairy with the same conclusion for both: my Scandinavian-Polish-Irish genes pulled through for me!

I’m both very excited and a little worried about this realization.  Very excited because now it means I can indulge in some cheese from time to time and use keifer as another source of probiotics.  Also excited because I will be studying abroad in Italy this summer, and while gluten is actually very easy to avoid there, I am going to LOVE having some mozzarella and gelato without fear of digestive or skin distress.

However, this leaves me with a new issue: what is making my face break out?  Well, I have an idea.  After dairy, the next thing to reintroduce on the Protocol was eggs.  I tried to take it slow by only eating yolks for the first few days, but realized after meal prepping for the week that the mayo I used to make my Primal Chicken Salad had whole eggs in it.  Well, my face has broken out this week.  I cut the eggs back out altogether these past few weeks to see if my skin would heal up, and it did.  So there’s that.  Next up is to slowly test PROPERLY this time, with only yolks for probably a week and then slowly work in whites if nothing happens from that first round.  I also need to make sure that I buy eggs that are NOT from soy-fed chickens, because apparently the brand I’ve been loyal to for a while now feeds them FREAKING. SOY.  That is the worst food allergen for me, so honestly even that could be the issue.

Long Story short: food allergy testing is hard.

For me, an egg allergy will be harder to face than a dairy one.  I’ve been dairy-free for a year and a half now.  Dairy is pretty easy to avoid in most things – you just don’t use it in the recipes that call for it and don’t buy the few products it’s included in.  But eggs… DANG. Those are one of my favorite protein sources.  I love breakfast.  And eggs are used in so many products and recipes.  I know it’s totally doable, but I’m having a bit of a diva phase about this possible readjustment I’ll need to be making.  In the meantime, though, don’t you dare take away my Pizza Plantains that are, indeed, filled with CHEESE.

Plantain pizza

Pizza Plantains

Prep time: 5 minutes   Cook time: 30-ish minutes   Total time: 35 minutes

Yield: Varies, 2-4 servings

Ingredients 

4 green plantains

1/2 cup grass-fed shredded cheese (if tolerated) or cheese alternative (like this one)

1/2 cup coconut oil, plus more as needed

Sea salt to taste

1 cup marinara sauce, for dipping

Optional:  some other pizza toppings like preservative-free pepperoni, sausage, or other things you can stick in some cheese & get to fit between two plantains!

Directions*

*NOTE: If you already know how to make Tostones, do that with the plantains and then jump to step 5 to pizza-fy them!  If you don’t know, that method is outlined in steps 1-4.

  1. Melt coconut oil in a pan over medium heat.  There should be a thin, 1/8 inch layer of melted oil along the entire bottom of the pan.
  2. While the oil is melting and heating up, peel the plantains and slice in 1-inch thick pieces.
  3. Place plantain pieces in the hot oil and fry for about 3 minutes on each side, until the majority of each piece is golden.
  4. Remove the plantain pieces from the pan and grease the bottom of a gar or glass cup (I used a mason jar).  Use the bottom of your jar to smash each plantain piece into a flat disk, and return the disks back to the hot oil to fry again.  Keep frying them until they begin to get brown spots on each side, flipping as needed.  Sprinkle salt, if using, on each side of the plantain disks while they are frying this second time.
  5. Remove the disks from the pan again, and sprinkle shredded cheese and other toppings, if using, in the middle of half of them.  Take the other half of the chips and place them on top of the ones with cheese on them.  Place back onto the pan, still over medium heat, and leave them there until the cheese is melted.  Flip as needed to avoid burning the plantains.
  6. Remove the plantain cheese sandwiches from the heat and serve with marinara sauce for dipping.

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Fire-in-the-Hole Pico de Gallo

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Okay, I’m from Texas.  I like spicy.  I’ve had spicy.  This is definitely spicy.  I’m not kidding when I tell you this is the hottest pico the gallo I’ve ever tried.  So if you don’t like such a kick, definitely take my advice in the ingredients list and cut the number of peppers used in half.  However, if you like that extra flame… this stuff is where you should be putting your time.

Pico de gallo is a fresh salsa that is very easy and fast to make, and works as a great add-on for many Mexican or Tex-Mex dishes, as well as a dip on its own.  It’s a quick snack for game day and an easy, delicious way to pack more veggies onto your plate!  So grab a bowl and get chopping, because this is one recipe I’m very glad to have around.

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Fire-in-the-Hole Pico de Gallo

Prep time: 10 minutes   Cook time: None   Total time: 10 minutes

Yield: 3-4 cups

 

Ingredients

2 large heirloom tomatoes, diced & seeded

1/2 red onion, diced

2 serrano peppers, finely diced (adjust to temperature preferences… this is called fire-in-the-hole with two peppers for a reason!)*

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Juice of 1/2 lime

1/4 tsp sea salt

 

Directions

  1. Prepare all veggies as indicated in the ingredients section.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, stir all of the vegetables together until they are well-combined.
  3. Squeeze the lime juice and sprinkle the sea salt onto the mixed veggies and give it another good stir, incorporating the flavors all over.
  4. Serve as a topping to some grilled chicken or as a dip for your favorite chips!  If not serving right away, store in an air-tight container for up to a week.

*Keeping the seeds with the serranos and adding them in with the rest of the recipe will make it even spicier.  You have been warned…

Summer Baked Veggies

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What do you do when you have way more produce in your fridge than you’d originally planned?  I went out to eat far more in the past week than normal, which resulted in a whole lot of veggies that needed to be made into something ASAP so they wouldn’t get unjustly tossed out.  Problem was, I had a bunch of random things around the kitchen… or so I thought.

Trying to figure out what to do with my random assortment as I walked home from campus, I passed by a rosemary bush.  And yes, it’s super cool that rosemary turns into literal bushes in Austin.  They’re EVERYWHERE, and a lot of people don’t even realize that it’s the actual herb rosemary so they just let it run rampant and don’t bother using it on their food ever.  But not me!  I grabbed a stalk and started thinking of what was in my fridge and fruit bowl… by the time I got home, I had a crazy idea for this dish and it turned out to be a success!  It’s easy to throw together, delicious, and gets you a ton of veggies in one sitting.  Enjoy!

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Summer Baked Veggies

Prep time: 10 minutes   Cook time: 15 minutes   Total time: 25 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

 

Ingredients

8oz bag of mixed-variety small potatoes, (or other type of choice), quartered

3 zucchini squash (I used yellow squash, but zucchini are actually in season during summer), sliced

3 large carrots, sliced

1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1-inch long pieces

2 clementine oranges, peeled

1 tbsp fresh rosemary

2 tbsp clarified butter

Black pepper, to taste

 

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Prep veggies as indicated above.  Once they’re all cut up, place them all in a large mixing bowl.

2.  Blend the two clementines and rosemary together until a purée is formed.*  Mix the clementine purée into the bowl with the veggies until they are evenly coated.

3.  Spread veggies out evenly on a greased baking sheet.  Divide the butter into small chunks and place them in various spots on top of the veggies.  Sprinkle evenly with black pepper, if you’re using it.

4.  Bake for 15 minutes, stirring them around halfway through.  Remove from the oven once the potatoes are soft and serve.

*If you do not wish to blend the clementines, I have also made this by simply smashing them up in a bowl and then mixing it and the rosemary in with the veggies.  There will be some larger fruit pieces in the final product, but it is delicious either way.

Cucumber Finger Sandwiches

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I think the idea of these babies came from my reading The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde and wondering what a cucumber tea sandwich would taste like.  Or rather, what is tea time in general like?  Was that a pretentious enough intro to this ultra-simple recipe?

Anyway, these sandwiches will make you look as sophisticated as Algernon thinks he is, all with the simplicity behind his real character.  Literary references = done (for this post).

Cucumber Finger Sandwiches

Prep time: 5 minutes   Cook time: 15 minutes   Total time: 20 minutes

Yield: Varies depending on size of potato

 

Ingredients

1 medium potato of choice

1 large cucumber

1-2 avocados

Primal Kitchen Mayonnaise*, to taste

1-2 tbsp coconut oil

Black pepper

Paprika

 

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 400ºF.  Slice the potato into chip-like shapes, as thin as possible.  Toss with coconut oil and black pepper, if desired.  Spread in a single layer across a greased baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, or until slightly crispy.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.

2.  Slice cucumber and avocado.  Spread desired amount of mayonnaise along each potato slice, and place on a plate with the mayo facing up.

3.  Layer one cucumber slice on top of the mayonnaise, and one chunk of avocado on top of the cucumber.  Sprinkle paprika across the plate once all of the sandwiches are built, for garnish and extra flavor.  Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.  Enjoy!

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*I finally got my hands on a jar of this stuff, and let me tell you – it does NOT disappoint!  I was never a huge fan of traditional mayo, but this blows that out of the water!  Such a great addition to a primal or paleo household 🙂

Liver Pâté

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I’ve been experimenting with different ways to incorporate more organ meats (especially liver, since I have a ton from the deer my family shot during hunting season).  I’d never even heard of pâté before until I googled “ways to cook liver” one day.  It seemed easy enough, but I really had no idea how I’d like it.  The first time I tasted this recipe, it was still warm and I hadn’t taken the time to let it sit in the fridge and cool, like you’re supposed to.  This resulted in mixed feelings and a VERY strong taste that I was not prepared for.  I highly recommend letting it sit for the amount of time I ask and cool/set properly before enjoying, because the taste and texture change completely and it is absolutely delicious once it has cooled completely!

This stuff is great as a snack or appetizer, if you want to be fancy.  The best way I’ve been able to explain it to my roommates is that it is “like hummus, made with liver.”  I like eating it on celery and I bet you could reuse chard stalks to munch on it as well!

Liver Pate

Prep time: 20 minutes   Cool time: 4+ hours   Total time: 4(+) hours, 20 minutes

Yield: 2-3 cups

 

Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs liver of choice (I used axis deer)

1/4 cup + 2 tbsp bacon grease

1/4 cup clarified butter

1/2 sweet onion, diced

4 cloves garlic

1 tsp maca powder

1/2 tsp thyme

Sea salt and pepper, to taste

 

Directions

1.  Slice liver up into pieces about 1″ thick.  Prepare the onions as listed above, too.

2.  Cook liver thoroughly in 1/4 cup bacon grease on the stove.  It will take about 8-10 minutes to cook all the way through, depending on how thick it is.  Make sure to flip the pieces to make sure it is cooked evenly, and cut into a few to make sure it’s done all the way through.

3.  Allow meat to cool some, then add liver pieces, along with their drippings, to a food processor.  Pulse until the pieces become a hummus-like texture.

4.  Once the meat is well-pulsed, add in the diced onion, clarified butter, 2 tbsp bacon grease, and seasonings.  Pulse again until the onion pieces are well-beaten and everything is mixed thoroughly.  You may need to stop the food processor, scrape the sides, and pulse some more to achieve this.

5.  Once the hummus-like texture is reached, remove the pâté from the food processor and place in a sealable container in the fridge for at least 4 hours.  It will set, cool, and the liver flavor will become less intense as the texture thickens from the cool of the fridge.  Once it has reached the thicker consistency, serve and enjoy.

Guac of Shame

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Story behind the name of this:  It’s really just guacamole.  But my friend Adrienne, who happens to be vegan, suggested the name after she and I had spent about 3 hours working n replacing buttons in the UT costume shop one afternoon.  We couldn’t stop laughing!  Yes, we were loopy.  And yes, most of our conversations were food-related because, well, why wouldn’t they be?  I always like talking with her because we respect each other’s chosen lifestyles and understand the other’s reasons for why they eat what they do.  And isn’t that what it’s all about, in the end?

Anyway, this recipe is the bomb and necessary for almost any Tex-Mex occasion.  Or football games.  Or just an excuse to eat more avocados, because they aren’t a “shameful” food to eat at all.  To top it off, this recipe is also vegan.

Guac of Shame

Prep time: 5 minutes   Cook time: None   Total time: 5 minutes

Yield:  Varies depending on avocado size, though usually about 2 cups

 

Ingredients

2 ripe avocados

1/3 cup diced tomato

1/3 cup diced sweet onion

2 tbsp fresh cilantro leaves

Juice of 1/2 lime

Sea salt, to taste

 

Directions

1.  Prepare tomatoes, cilantro, and onions as indicated.  Remove skins and pits of avocado, and mash in a mixing bowl.

2.  Mix in the prepared veggies with the avocado.

3.  Squeeze the lime juice into the mix and sprinkle in any sea salt, if you’re using it.  Mix thoroughly once again, then serve.

PRO TIP:  If you are not serving right away, save the pits of the avocados and store them with the guacamole in the fridge until you do serve it, because they will help prevent the avocado from turning brown.  Nothing bad will happen if you eat brown avocado/guacamole, but some people find it less palatable when it changes color like that.

Brazil Macadamia Nut Butter

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Making your own nut butter is so incredibly easy when you have access to a food processor or high-powered blender, like a Vitamix.  This is a great way to save a few bucks on “high-end” nut butters and you can flavor it however you want!  I love taking it to parties as a snack tray with apple slices and celery sticks.  I use cinnamon and some honey in this recipe, but that can easily be omitted for plain nut butter and Whole30-ers.

Brazil Macadamia Nut Butter

Prep time: 10 minutes   Cook time: none   Total time: 10 minutes

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

 

Ingredients

1 cup Brazil nuts

1/2 cup macadamia nuts

1 tsp sea salt

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tbsp local honey

 

Directions

1.  Place all ingredients in food processor/blender and turn it on.  Allow it to run for about 5 minutes, and you’ll see the oils start to come out of the nuts and form the butter.

2.  Stop and scrape the sides of the machine, then allow to run until your desired consistency is reached.  This may need to happen several times.  Then serve!