Monday, October 7, 2013

(Crockpot) Ghormeh Sabzi

I don't know what "ghormeh sabzi" means in Farsi. Probably along the lines of "looks questionable, tastes amazing!"

I first had this flavorful herb and lamb stew at my in-laws house, and it is hands down my favorite Persian dish! Normally this meal is made over the stove and consists of frying the onions and herbs. This modern woman has simplified this old world classic by making it crockpot-friendly! This also got my husband's stamp of approval!

(Crockpot) Ghormeh Sabzi
2 (largish) bunches of parsley
2 (largish) bunches of cilantro
2 bunches of green onions
1 5 oz. bag of fresh spinach (or frozen)
1 medium-to-large yellow onion
4 gloves of garlic
2 lbs lamb shank
8 oz dried red kidney beans
1 T turmeric
1 t fennel seeds
5 dried limes (or lemons or combination of)
1 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 quart of chicken stock

There is a LOT of chopping involved, so I find it easier to use a food processor. Pro-tip: always process the onions last. Wash and pat dry the parsley, cilantro, and green onions. It's not entirely essential to remove all of parsley and cilantro stems since they will be finely chopped and cooked for a while, just the thicker, tougher stems. Working in small batches, process the cilantro and parsley until coarsely chopped, set aside in a bowl. Next, process the green onions. I cut off about half of the green top, but you could use the whole thing or just the white part if you prefer. Last, process the garlic and onion until finely chopped, but not liquid-y. Pour the onion and garlic directly into the crockpot, replace the lid, and turn on low.

Rinse the dried beans and add to the crockpot. Pro-tip: buy dried beans. They are A TON cheaper and none of that weird-BPA-lined canned-foods business to worry about. Next, add the spices (turmeric, fennel seed, salt and pepper). Wash and pierce the dried limes/lemons with a fork. Add those to the crockpot. I realized dried limes/lemons are a weird ingredient. If you absolutely cannot find a Middle Eastern market near you, then you can try substituting with the zest and juice of 3 limes/lemons (I have not tried this). Next, add the lamb. You can either dice the lamb beforehand or leave whole. I leave whole. After it cooks, any bones are easily removed and the meat falls apart. Finally, add the herbs and green onions. Pour the chicken stock over the top (or if it's frozen like mine, place the chicken-cube on top), replace the lid and simmer 4-6 hours.

Serve with basmati rice or eat by itself. Salt to taste and add more lemon or lime juice, if needed. Yes, it will look weird, but it TASTES AMAZING!

This recipe was adapted from New Persian Cooking

*Please excuse any typos. I wanted to quickly get something up on the blog before bed. I'll edit tomorrow ;)
**Also, the picture I took is of this weird dark green, crockpot mixture. I think I'll take a more appetizing pic tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Pot roast, with sauce and "spaghetti"

This is my favorite pot-roast done in the crockpot and I just kinda made it up. Last night was especially good, since I made a sauce with the braising liquid and served it over julienned zucchini (I called it SPAGHETTI). This crockpot recipe is so quick and easy, it's gonna blow your mind how much flavor is packed in! It's perfect to throw together before work or school, and finish the sauce and SPAGHETTI in 10 minutes when you get home.

I busted open my mandoline from Costco last night at 9:30pm in order to try this recipe. 9:30pm on a Tuesday night is as good of a time as any to try your mandoline for the first time, right? PS - I LOVE it and I'm looking forward to all the beautiful, tasty creations I can assemble with VEGETABLES! Including a homemade sauce and zucchini lasagna with the 10 lb flat of tomatoes I purchased with my next CSA delivery. Who can resist Early Girls at $1.00/pound!? I'll be sure to post and let you know if it's a success...

So, onto the recipe. I promised not to ramble too much. I just now think everyone should have a mandoline.

Classic Pot Roast

2 lb chuck roast, or otherwise good crock-pot type of meat (this works well with pork, too)
1 can of diced tomatoes (low salt, no salt, italian style, whatever)
1 medium onion sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 T. italian seasoning
salt to taste (~1-2 tsp depending on preference, can always add more later)
2-4 T. butter
2 T. tomato paste
1/2-1 T. honey
1/2 T. coconut flour
Optional: 2-3 cups of julienned zucchini (spaghetti/linguini-sized), either done with a food processor, mandolin or knife <---careful!
extra butter
parmesan cheese

Place the meat in the crock-pot and sprinkle the salt on and around the roast. Next, dump the canned tomatoes on top. Then, layer the onions on and around the roast. Last, sprinkle with the italian seasoning. Cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 6-8. What's great about the crockpot is you can throw in the meat entirely frozen and just let it do it's thing. I prefer to cook mine on low all day while I'm at school or work.

After the meat has cooked, remove it and transfer it to a plate for slicing and serving. Alternatively, you can place it back in the crockpot after you make your sauce. When making the sauce, error on the smaller side of the butter, and honey. You can always add more, but you can't take away. Second, I prefer to do a lot of things "to taste". You know what you like best. I'm just trying to give you a base which you can embellish. Mix in the butter, tomato paste, honey, and coconut flour until well incorporated. If your meat released a lot of juices, you may need a little more coconut flour. Go easy since coconut flour is super absorbent and you can go from sauce to paste in no time. You'll notice that my sauce was on the thinner side. I like it like that. Adjust the flour accordingly. If the sauce is too acidic, add a little more butter and honey to cut through that acidity.

To make the "spaghetti zucchini", either blanch or lightly sauté the zucchini for about 3-5 minutes. What's great about julienning the zucchini so finely is A. it cooks quickly and B. it holds up nicely and resembles cooked spaghetti quite well. I sautéed my zucchini with, you guessed it, butter!

To serve, plate the meat with a side of zucchini spaghetti. Add the sauce on top of both the zucchini and meat. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese; or in my case, Kerrygold dubliner cheese (which comes from grass-fed cows and is otherwise delicious).

Let me know in the comments your favorite pot-roast recipe!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Gluten-free blueberry muffins

FINALLY! Gluten-free blueberry muffins that taste great! My husband gave them a 9/10, which is actually the highest rating he will give. Oh, and this one is a Lindsay Eivazian original.

GF2SFLC Blueberry Muffins (gluten-free, grain-free, sugar-free, low-carb)

3 eggs
½ cup melted butter (or coconut oil or olive oil)
¼ cup coconut milk (or rice, almond, cow’s, etc)
½ t vanilla extract
20 drops of liquid stevia (4 drops is 1 serving, so convert accordingly if using powdered stevia)
1 T honey
1 cup almond flour, finely ground and sifted*
¼ cup coconut flour
2 T coconut flakes (optional)
½ t baking soda
¼ t salt
½ cup blueberries, plus ¼ cup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (if you have a hotter-than-average oven, 325).

Whisk together the wet ingredients (eggs, butter, coconut milk, vanilla extract, stevia and honey). In a separate bowl, sift the dry ingredients, beginning with the almond flour*. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until well combined with no lumps. If it's a little thick, just add 1 T. extra milk. Add ½ cup of the blueberries and gently stir to incorporate.

Line a 12-muffin tin with paper liners**. Spoon two heaping tablespoons of the mixture into each tin. Top each muffin with the reserved ¼ cup of blueberries (2-3 on top of each muffin).

Bake for 18-20 minutes.

*I used Bob’s Red Mill Finely Ground Almond Meal/Flour, which is fine, but the flour isn’t a uniform size. Sifting allows the larger almond chunks to separate from the fine, powdery flour. After you’re done sifting, pulse them in a coffee/spice grinder about 3-5 times. Then dump out the contents and sift again. Repeat the pulsing/sifting process until necessary. I have not used Honeyville’s Blanched Almond flour yet, but I hear it is a better consistency and more uniform. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments!

**My muffins slightly stuck to my paper liners. I used a different brand of muffin liners, so I'm not sure if that's why, or if my oven was too hot, or I baked them too long. I'm not sure. I didn't have that problem when I made coconut-flour banana muffins, so I'm leaning towards the muffin liners being the problem.

Pro-tip: you can make these TRULY “sugar-free” by omitting the honey, just bump up the stevia by 5 drops. I would also use slightly less coconut flour, since coconut flour is super absorbent.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Every low-carber's worst nightmare! Pizza!

Oh, great. My husband said it again, "I want PIZZA!"

Every low-carber's worst nightmare. So I scoured the interwebz for a low carb pizza crust. Cauliflower, beets, HAMBURGER MEAT?! What the?!!...

No, coconut flour!

Now, I'm not entirely proud of this, but it's a start.

Low-carb coconut flour pizza dough/crust

3 eggs
1 cup of coconut milk (or water or other milk-like product)
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 T italian seasoning (optional)
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 c coconut flour (I used Bob's Red Mill)

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees F

Mix the dry ingredients, including minced garlic, together. In a separate bowl, gently mix the eggs and milk. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Stir to combine, very thoroughly. The consistency will be somewhat-runny.

Line a pizza stone or otherwise baking sheet with parchment paper (I prefer a pizza stone because it helps evaporate the moisture from your crust and toppings). Spread the dough evenly onto the parchment paper, about 1/4-1/2 inch thick and 10-12 inches in diameter. Bake for 15-20 minutes, without any toppings.

Top with your favorite toppings. Bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted/toppings are brown/whatever you want it to look like. Be sure to let the pizza rest, on the stone or baking sheet, for at least 15 minutes before slicing. The dough is somewhat delicate and doughy.

I topped mine with olive oil, coarsely ground sea salt, a sliced heirloom tomato, and fresh mozz. After I let a rest for a bit, I topped it with fresh basil. My favorite farmer's market vendor was out of lettuce, so I stocked up on heirlooms and plenty of basil for this week's tri-colore, or caprese salad! My husband said the crust had too much italian seasoning; with italian sausage as a topping, it would have been better. He said when he has a cheese pizza, he wants to just taste the cheese, so back off on the italian seasoning if you don't like a potent crust.

I will tweak it in the future to try and produce a crispier crust, for instance less liquid or maybe an almond flour-coconut flour blend. I also think it needs some fat, like olive oil, butter or coconut oil, as it was a bit dry. In the meantime, this is more of a fork-and-knife pizza, with a softer crust. I will also welcome your suggestions on how to make this crust better. It is good, but you just can't compare it to the real thing...yet!

Recipe adapted from:

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Stuffed (Italian) Zucchini Boats

Sticking with my blog's title, I'm going to keep my posts simple. I'm not going to tell you about how cute my non-existent 2 year old is when she tries to help me or how my also-non-existent dog ate my entire pan of lasagna. I'm gonna cut to the chase and let you do what you came here to do: find a recipe! All stories aside, I'm going to keep my posts short and sweet. Serious food for serious people. Mostly low-carb.

I saw a "sponsored" ad on my FB newsfeed that pictured Mexican-ish stuffed zucchini. I thought it looked absolutely delicious, BUT I didn't have the green onions and I was too stubborn to follow through, sans green onions. I decided to make my own Italian version because, let's face it, I should have been born Italian.

Stuffed Italian Zucchini Boats* (boats, that's cute isn't it?)

1 lb. ground meat (beef, pork, turkey, chicken--whatever you're into--I used chicken)
1/2 c. finely chopped onion (or grated and soak up the moisture with a paper towel)
2 gloves chopped garlic
1 T italian seasoning
1/2 c freshly grated/shredded parmesan reggiano or pecorino romano cheese (again, whatever you're into), plus 1/4 c for topping
2 t freshly chopped red peppers OR 1/2 t red pepper flakes (or less if you're not into the spicy thing)
2 eggs
2 T coconut flour (coconut flour is low carb, super absorbant, and I used it in place of glutenous higher-carb items like bread crumbs OR if no coconut flour, 1/4 c bread crumbs)
2 T pine nuts (optional)
3-4 zucchini (I used 3 because apparently I had jumbo size--enough to fill a 9 x 13 in baking dish when cut in half)
salt to taste
olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Mix to combine the ground meat, onion, garlic, italian seasoning, cheese, pepper, eggs, flour and 1/2 t salt. Slice the zucchini length wise and use a small spoon to scrape out the innards, just enough to remove all the seeds. Lay them in a 9 x 13 baking dish and sprinkle with salt (zucchini really benefits from salt IMO). Spoon the meat mixture into the zucchini boats. It's okay if it's piled as high as you can or want. Top with pine nuts, reserved cheese, and olive oil (prevents the pine nuts and cheese from browning too much while baking).

Bake for 45* minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.

Serves 3-5

Serving suggestion: top with 1 cup of marinara sauce before or after baking!

Pro Tip (but not really pro tip, more like a variation, because I don't recommend it): To cut down on baking time, brown the meat and onions together before mixing, stuffing and baking. You will need to skip the eggs and flour at this point. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the zucchini are soft.

*makes a great meatball recipe as well!

I may tweak this recipe in the future, so stay tuned!