Easy Tricks to Shortcut Your Cooking

Easy Tricks to Shortcut Your Cooking

I get asked all the time for ways to make dinner faster. I get that; we’re a microwave society. We want it quick, dirty and hassle-free. This is why convenience foods are so popular (and expensive and 99% of the time, full of chemicals and lacking nutrients).

Here are a couple of things that I do that helps me get dinner done quickly and efficiently:

1) Shear Strength. I use my kitchen shears as much as I use my knives. From snipping fresh herbs, to opening bags of frozen berries, to cutting up chicken, I have two pairs and one in always in the dishwasher!

2) Foiled Again. To prevent my celery from going limp and nasty (and listen, having to run out to the store to buy fresh celery in the middle of cooking is total buzz kill) I wrap it foil. It stays fresh for weeks this way!

3) Garlic Getaway. I use these little garlic ice cubes (Dorot is the brand) that I buy from Trader Joe’s to shortcut the fresh garlic pressing stuff. The garlic is better (in my opinion) than that of the jarred variety and it’s so easy and convenient, love them!

4) Spin on Spinach. I buy triple washed tubs of organic spinach at the warehouse store. I saute it for a side dish, add it to salads, make it the salad, stir it into soups, eggs and quiches. It’s amazing and versatile and cuts my prep work way down.

5) More Spin. I use a salad spinner for my lettuce to get it nice and dry. Wash it, throw it in the spinner, take it for a quick spin and voila, lettuce that’s washed, dried and ready to go for your salad!

These are just a few of my shortcuts. What about you? Do you have some tried and true ones you’d like to share?

6 Hot Tips To Avoid Freezer Burn (and stop throwing away your $$)

6 Hot Tips To Avoid Freezer Burn (and stop throwing away your $$)

Have you ever removed a tray of meat from the freezer only to find discoloration and ice crystals? If you’ve forgotten about a carton of ice cream in the freezer for any length of time, you may have opened it to find its surface covered in ice. Freezer burn, we tend to call it.

Freezing food is a great way to extend the life of our perishable items, but when you freeze foods, you stand the chance of having your food become freezer burnt.

Freezer burn presents itself as discoloration on the surface of frozen foods such as bread and meat. Ice crystals are another sign of freezer burn, which we can find in frozen produce and ice cream.

To understand freezer burn a bit better, it helps to know more about how the freezing process works. When food is frozen, most of the water content of that food is converted to ice. Some of the water, though, is converted directly to water vapor and is released from the food all together. This process is called sublimation.

This water loss causes food to become dehydrated over time, like ice cubes that eventually shrink when they’re left in the freezer. So, in essence, this process freeze dries parts of foods, resulting in freezer burn.

In air-tight containers (like ice cream), that water vapor forms frost on the insides of the container and/or on the surface of the food. In open containers or containers that aren’t perfectly sealed, the vapor that escapes actually leads to that build up of ice on the inside of non-frost-free freezers.

And what we’re left with is food with strange flavors that’s difficult to chew.

When you have freezer-burnt food on your hands, you should do your best to discard the areas that have been affected. But you know I just hate food waste, so let’s talk about how to prevent freezer burn all together.

Tips to prevent freezer burn

  1. Remove as much air as you can from packages you freeze food in. The closer your food is to its packaging, the less chance there is of it losing water.
  2. Don’t leave your food in the freezer longer than you have to. The longer your food is frozen, the greater the chance of it becoming freezer burnt.
  3. Set your freezer at the lowest setting that you can in order to help avoid sublimation from occurring, as it’s less likely at lower temperatures.
  4. Always use high quality zipper-style bags to freeze food, and try to wrap foods in a bag that fits just right.
  5. Don’t place hot food in the freezer. You risk increasing the temperature of your freezer, and some of your frozen foods may even start to thaw.
  6. Avoid opening the freezer door more than it needs to be opened. This will help keep the freezer temperature from fluctuating, which can lead to freezer burn.

Making meals out of the meat/poultry/fish and produce you buy as soon as you get them home from the grocery store is another way to ensure that your food doesn’t get wasted and forgotten about at the back of the freezer.

We have just the thing to keep your freezer full of great healthy meals so you never have to wonder “what’s for dinner”. Click here to learn more!

 

Paleo Tahini Pumpkin Pie and Maple Cardamom Coconut Whipped Cream

Paleo Tahini Pumpkin Pie and Maple Cardamom Coconut Whipped Cream

Paleo Tahini Pumpkin Pie

You can’t have the holidays without pumpkin EVERYTHING!! But for those of us trying to stay away from dairy, gluten, and refined sugar – the holidays can feel like the 7th circle of hell – running into temptation at every corner!

So after some recipe testing, we finally found a delicious holiday classic that’s actually PALEO APPROVED!!! May we present our Paleo Tahini Pumpkin Pie and Maple Cardamom Coconut Whipped Cream:

 

Paleo Tahini Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients:
For Crust:
3 cups mixed nuts, toasted (we used walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, and cashews – you don’t have to use those, but just make sure you choose some nice softer and buttery types of nuts!)
2 tablespoons coconut sugar
For Filling:
1 (14.5 ounce) can of pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
1/4 cup tahini
1/2 cup canned full fat coconut milk
3 eggs
1/2 cup coconut sugar
2 generous tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a food processor, grind down toasted nuts. If you do not have a food processor, you can use a rolling pin to crush them (it’s easiest when they’re still warm after getting toasted). Toss with coconut sugar and then press into a pie dish. It can crumble easily, but it’s also buttery enough to stick together well so gently press it up the walls and throughout the bottom of the pie dish evenly.
Put in oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until a darker golden brown, and then remove. Be careful not to burn crust!
Pull out and allow to cool while you make the filling.
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients for filling. Whisk together well until thoroughly combined. Pour into nut crust, and place in the oven. Bake for an hour, or until filling sets and doesn’t leave traces on a toothpick.
Remove from oven and allow to cool before serving, maybe whip up the cream…
//
Maple Cardamom Coconut Whipped Cream
Ingredients:
1 (14.5 ounce) can of full fat coconut milk (OR coconut cream, if your store carries it) – if you can’t find coconut cream, it’s not a big deal, but try to find a full fat coconut milk that’s super thick! You can usually tell by shaking the can and if it feels solid, you’ve got a good one!
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
a dash of cinnamon (cause you can never have too much!)
Instructions:
In a medium bowl, scoop out coconut milk. If you found a nice thick one, then the water should’ve separated from the cream! ONLY scoop the cream into the bowl and discard the remaining fluid. Add in all remaining ingredients (syrup through cinnamon) and whisk well until desired consistency!
Serve a huge dollop on top of your Paleo Tahini Pumpkin Pie – or even on top of your coffee! OR both!

 

Paleo Tahini Pumpkin Pie

Paleo Tahini Pumpkin Pie

Paleo Maple Cardamom Coconut Whipped Cream

Paleo and Vegan Pumpkin Spice Latte “PSL” Recipe

Paleo and Vegan Pumpkin Spice Latte “PSL” Recipe

 

Fall is in full swing and we’re not above loving that infamous “basic” beverage that explodes EVERYWHERE this time of year: the sweet and spiced PSL (aka: Pumpkin Spice Latte).

Since the Starbuck’s version, that must be credited for bringing this drink such fame, is sooo full of sugar and other mysterious-not-good-for-your-poor-body ingredients we decided to take matters into our own hands and make a version with real ingredients that’s also WAY LESS sugar and even Paleo-friendly!!

May we present our Paleo Pumpkin Spice Latte recipe:

(Makes 3 to 4 servings pending on mug size 😉 and it’s maybe a little too easy to consume all on your own if you’re not careful)

Ingredients:
2 cups unsweetened cashew OR almond milk (I typically use cashew, it tends to be the creamiest)
1/4 cup pumpkin purée
1 tablespoon honey and/or pure maple syrup (I like using just a little of both)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon grass fed butter (substitute with more coconut oil or coconut butter for vegan option)
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1 1/2 cups hot strongly brewed coffee
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
A couple shakes of ground cardamom
A dash of ground ginger
A dash of ground cloves
A dash of ground nutmeg

Instructions:
Heat cashew (or almond) milk in a small sauce pan over medium low heat. Be careful not to boil the milk, and once it’s become hot, remove it from heat. Add all ingredients, including heated milk, to a blender. Blend for several seconds or until fully combined. A bit of froth should’ve formed after the mixture settles. Give it a quick taste test and adjust accordingly if you wish!

For example: add more spices if you fancy // if you want it creamier, then add a smidge more butter and/or coconut oil // and if you want it as sweet as Starbucks, instead of adding more honey or syrup, use Stevia to sweeten it to taste! A bit more maple syrup will do the trick too, BUT, it’ll lessen its qualifiers as “Paleo” LOL – enjoy hot and with a sprinkling of cinnamon on top!

If you’re feeling especially wild, trying making our Paleo Coconut Whipped Cream for a topping – you can find that recipe HERE.

United Tables of America

United Tables of America

My dearest friends–

If there is one thing that can unite a polarized America, it’s having a meal together.

Look, we all need to eat in between watching CNN or Fox News.

And wherever you stand (or sit) politically at the table, is really none of my business.

Is it? 🙂

The most important thing in the midst of any type of chaos that might be in the world or your life is remembering who you are.

Sounds like a line from a movie, doesn’t it? Ring any bells?

It’s Lion King—sorry for the spoiler.

But it’s so true—who are you isn’t based on chaos but rather, based on your own character, your integrity and your resilience.

We all get hit with “stuff” from time to time. We get depressed, we get knocked out of our seats and sometimes even thrown under the bus.

BUT…and still…

There’s the family—they need you. Whatever your family looks like—you still have responsibilities that aren’t going to go away.

There’s still a meal to be prepared.

There’s still people that need to be fed.

There’s still souls that need to be nurtured.

So with that in mind, I invite you to bring your family back to the dinner table.

This simple act will revolutionize your family and give you the peace you deserve.

Feed them—heart, body and soul.

With love,

Leanne

PS—Garlic Lime Chicken is one of my most famous recipes—for good reason. Try it out on your family tonight—they’ll LOVE it!

Off-The-Bus Zuppa Toscana

Off-The-Bus Zuppa Toscana

Hello hello! (Caroline speaking)

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I asked our Facebook page a couple days ago if anyone would be interested in my Zuppa Toscana recipe, and there was a resounding “yes” – so here it is!

I like to call it “Off-The-Bus Zuppa Toscana” because (as some of you may know) myself, the hubs, and our two adorable husky pups, packed up in a little bus we call Henrietta and made an adventurous cross-country move! We found a dreamy little farm property to rent, but there were some kinks that needed to be fixed prior to us moving in, so our bus occupancy was extended another month (and then some).

While it was fun, and I love love love that we did it, I was ready for a house. Ready to settle in and have a real home again – kudos to those “van-lifers” out there, I just don’t think I could do it full time! One of the first things I made once I was back in a real kitchen was a huge vat of hearty and delicious Zuppa Toscana. I love it because it’s filling, and has potatoes, and a little cream, but it’s mostly broth based so it’s not too terribly rich (like a chowder would be).

Without further ado, here’s my preferred recipe!

Off-The-Bus Zuppa Toscana // serves 4-6 (give or take leftovers, depending on how often the fam goes for seconds)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound spicy Italian sausage

1 large onion, chopped

2 pounds red potatoes, washed (peel off bruises or eyes, but I like leaving skin on for the most part) and sliced very thin

4 to 6 cups low sodium chicken broth (feel it out, it’s all up to how brothy you like it)

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 1/2 cups half and half

3 cups kale, chopped

Instructions:

In a large soup pot or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add sausage and use a potato masher to really ground it all up and cook evenly. Saute for 4 to 6 minutes, then drain any excess grease. Turn heat down to medium, add onion and cook for another 3 minutes, then add in potatoes, broth, and spices.

Bring to a boil, then cover and turn heat down to low and cook for 20 to 30 minutes (or until potatoes are fork tender). Stir in cream and kale, once kale has wilted some (just about 1 to 2 minutes) go ahead and serve!