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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Paleo Style

OK, yes, we are going trendy.
Well, not really.
In addition to the walking schedule, we are doing a 'modified' paleo diet to get in better shape. Don't laugh!
Paleo Diet is sort of based on the 'hunter-gatherer' diet...back in the day. WAY back in the day.
It's primarily grass fed meat, fish, eggs,roots, fungi, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. We are avoiding grains, processed foods (well, bacon and sausage don't count, right? or some alcohol- ha ha) and most dairy.
We are willing to give this a try for a few months. Well, Kevin loves his potatoes, but it's kind of a root vegetable, right? And I know giving up cheese will just about kill him, but, well, it's also Lent so he can give it up for 6 weeks or so!!
Anyhow, last night I posted a teaser on Facebook that I made a Paleo Chicken Chili Verde. It was delicious, and even though I only have one photo, I decided to post the recipe.
It's all mine!
1 lb. of husked, cleaned, sliced in half tomatillos
1 poblano pepper, sliced in half and seeded
1 green, red and yellow bell pepper, cut in half and seeded
1 large onion, cut in half and skin removed
3 garlic cloves, skins removed and smashed
1 14 ounce can (or one quart of home canned) tomatoes
2 cups of home made chicken stock
1 whole roasted chicken, boned, skinned and diced. (use the bones to make your stock)
1 tbsp. of sea salt
1 tbsp. of chili powder
1 tbsp.of cumin powder
1 tbsp. of smoked paprika powder
2 tbsps. of EVOO or Coconut oil or grapeseed oil, divided use

 Chop half of the poblano, onion, red, green and yellow bell pepper into chunks and toss with the cut tomatiools on a tray with 1 tbsp. of the oil of your choice. Put in the oven on 475 for about 5 minutes until the vegetables start to brown. Flip them over and roast for 5 more minutes. Remove from the oven and scrape into a food processor or blender. Add 1 cup of the chicken stock and blend until smooth.
Chop the other half of the poblano, onion, red, green and yellow bell pepper into small chunks. Chop the garlic. Add to a dutch oven that has 1 tbsp. of the oil of your choice. Sautee on low for about 3 or 4 minutes.
Add the sea salt, chili powder, cumin powder and smoked paprika to the pan and sautee for about 2 minutes, until the spices are fragrant. Add the blended mix of veggies and stock, and stir well.
Add the other 1 cup of stock and the can of tomatoes. Stir well and add the chopped chicken. Let this simmer on medium for about 1/2 hour. It will thicken as it cooks.
Serve warm! You can add avocado, but it really is delicious alone!
Did I mention that it makes a ton of chicken chili verde??
Tonight, we had porkchops with onions and apples. We also had some leftover beets and leftover coleslaw.
The porkchops were easy- just sauteed briefly in some oil (we used grapeseed) on both sides, then I added one chopped onion and one chopped apple to the pan.
I added a tiny bit of blue agave, and put it in the oven. 
Next, I cleaned and boiled a full head of cauliflower. I drained it and added some butter. Well, you win some, you lose some.
I tossed some chopped cole slaw mix with a little grapeseed oil, sea salt and lemon and there you have it! Dinner! The beets were leftover from the other night- roasted beets, with some EVOO and a little apple cider vinegar. I told you, it's modified Paleo!! Next, I'll be giving up Southern Comfort...since I'm out.

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Rite of Election

This past weekend was the First Sunday in Lent. Now, if you are not a Catholic, or not a 'practicing' Catholic, this might not be significant to you. But for those who practice, this is BIG!
At my parish, we normally hold the 'Rite of Election and 'Rite of Called to Continuing Conversion' at the parish. We are in a snow area, and it's usually not convenient to drive to Bend (3 hours away), where the Diocesan Offices are located,  or Baker City (6 hours away), which is where the Diocesan Cathedral is located.
The 'Rite of Election' is for those who are unbaptized, and are elected by GOD to join the Church. Note that they are not elected by the people, but by God. He picks, not us!  The 'Rite of Called to Continuing Conversion' is for those who are baptized in another tradition (but, by virtue of their Baptism, are already one with us in the Christian Faith) who state in the presence of the Catholic Community, that their intent is to join with the Catholic Church. This is usually a very moving celebration.
This year, we have a new Director of Evangelization and Catechesis...and more importantly, a new Bishop. It really is the job of the Bishop to conduct the Rite of Welcome...although, it can take place in the parish.
I called our new Director a couple of months ago and casually asked if Bishop was planning a group 'Rite of Election' for the Diocese, since the previous Bishop and Administrator had chosen to not offer this Rite.
Barry, our Director, was a little startled, I think- he probably assumed that it would happen since he himself is a convert. (a 'Convert' is someone who moves from unbelief to belief--not a Christian who chooses a different denomination)
He went and lobbied for this idea, and voila! We had a Rite of Election for the Diocese of Baker planned on the First Sunday of Lent midway through the Diocese!

We had some unusual circumstances- one of our 'Catechumen's' (unbaptized)  is a can just imagine how difficult it is to make a weekly meeting at the same time for the RCIA so we have been creative with him...and his Sponsor is a fireman, too! I am so proud of both of them- they got off work at 7AM on Saturday and picked up their families and drove the 3 hours to Redmond, Oregon! They also had to be back at work at 7AM on Sunday, so this was really important to them!  You can see them in the far left part of the photo- the two tallest dudes...
Our other Catechumen had a sick child and couldn't make the trip. It's OK, the Bishop also blessed her and greeted her by name- even if she wasn't able to be at the event!!!
Our Candidate was very awed by the beautiful can't see her, but she and her 'proxy' sponsor are on the far right! They are tall, so they are a little hidden :) 
This was a very beautiful and solemn event. yes, I did 'boo-hoo' a bit. It reminded me of the many times we have done the Rite of Election at Sacred Heart in the middle of a snow storm over the past 7 years I've been at Sacred Heart!
The Church is absolutely beautiful. It is in the Craftsman style with beautiful padded and upholstered seats throughout the Church, and gorgeous Gothic arches. I loved the 3-d painting behind the altar with Jesus and 'Doubting Thomas'. It was awesome! The Church is St. Thomas, in Redmond, Oregon.
Bishop Liam Cary was oh, so gracious and welcoming to our folks! The best part is that even though we drove the furthest- there were still over 100 Catechumens (now, the 'Elect') and Candidates and their Sponsors present.
Pretty impressive!!!
St. Thomas Parish also hosted a wonderful lunch in their parish halll! It was wonderful and we are very blessed that they opened their parish doors to be hospitable to our soon-to-be-Catholics!
The funniest moment was when one of our youth ministry students (he's a freshmen) walked boldly up to the Bishop and said, "um, hey yah, hi, my name is..." It was funny! He wasn't quite sure how to address the Bishop, but he was determined to talk to him...and then, he said, 'can I serve the Easter Vigil Mass?? and the Confirmation Mass". LOVE that kid!!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Grilled Flank Steak with Smoky Arrabiata Sauce

I'm still cooking my way through Giada de Laurentiis's 'Weeknights with Giada'.
I'm a big fan of flavorful and spicy sauces, so I thought that the Smoky Arrabiata would work well with a flank steak, since we didn't have any rib-eye steaks in the house. I bought this gorgeous flank steak at Dick Howard's Meats-a local butcher shop- a week ago, and froze it.

Howard's carries 'Prather Ranch' beef, which is 100% free range, grass fed beef from Coburg, Oregon. You can really taste the difference! I buy most of my meat at either Howard's or Diamond S Meats, the other nearby butcher shop. One funny note about Diamond S Meats- today is a 'cash mob' event at Diamond S. These are 'word of mouth' advertised events where as many people as possible go to a pre-arranged local shop and spend money there. It brings much needed business to local places and is usually a lot of fun! I'm heading over later today to get a couple of heart shaped steaks for Valentine's Day...more on that later.
The recipe for the Arrabiata sauce couldn't be easier...toss everything into a blender, and cook it down for 25 minutes or so. It was just long enough to put the flank steak on the grill.
Here's the original recipe... Rib-eye Steaks with Smoky Arrabiata Sauce
And here's the sauce, bubbling away...
Of course, I used roma tomatoes from my garden that I canned back in September.
I also made warm farro salad for me and farro with butter and parmesan for Kevin. He's not a big fan of grain-type salads, so it was easy to just portion it out. I dressed my salad while I added the butter and fresh grated parmesan to the piping hot farro for Kevin. If you don't know what farro is, it is a delicious, easy-to-cook ancient grain. It's similar in texture to barley. It's very versatile to use. I've used it in soup, as a side dish and as a cold or warm salad. It has a tender texture with a tiny bit of bite, and does not turn 'mushy' like some grains if you forget it while it's cooking. I bought this pack from Trader Joe's when we were in Eugene, Oregon a couple of weeks ago, but you can find it in most grocery stores.
I tossed my portion with 1 freshly squeezed Meyer lemon (from my tree!) and a couple of glugs of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I added some fresh cracked Applewood Smoked Peppercorns (thanks, Gene and Carla!) and a little of my homemade Basil salt. Yum.
A handful of steamed haricot verts rounded out dinner.
Oh, and a lovely glass of M. Cosentino Ol' Red. (Napa)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Super Bowl 2013 Menu

Kevin and I have hosted a lot of Super Bowl parties over the years...but since Kevin worked the Knights of Columbus Pancake Breakfast at Church today and I had Religious Education classes- that wasn't happening this year!
Kevin got home at about 1PM and I didn't walk in until almost 2PM...and the game started at 3PM-ish. Thankfully, I had planned our menu earlier in the week and shopped on Friday!

This is the initial feast...
a fruit tray with strawberries, cantaloupe, blueberries and black berries; a veggie tray with sungold cherry tomatoes, celery, cornichons (Trader Joe's) , cucumbers, radishes and marinated mushrooms(Trader Joe's) with a smoky ranch dip; and a walking Caesar. We have some jarred stuff from Trader Joe's stockpiled from last weekend:)
The walking Caesar is an idea I got at a reception for the Catholic Daughters by my friend, Deb Brunold. Thanks, Deb! I love this so much that I stole the idea....basically, wash, and spin dry some romaine lettuce leaves. Spread a small amount of Caesar dressing down the middle of the leaf and top with fresh grated parmesan cheese. Brilliant. Finger salad!
I made homemade mayo from this amazing blog to make this absolutely delicious Caesar Dressing with a freshly laid egg from my hen, Moa
So I hope you enjoy this delicious recipe!
By the way, that's Kevin's Sunday Blurry Mary. It's Mrs. T's Spicy and Bold Bloody Mary Mix with a dash of homemade kosher pickle juice, Worcestershire sauce and locally made Tulelake horseradish sauce, mixed with Bakon Vodka and a celery stick. Usually, it's a homemade pickle instead of celery, or a homemade pickled green bean, or a homemade pickled jalapeno...except, I only have pickle slices left out of all the jars I canned and we ate all the today we went with boring celery.
I was drinking a Southern Delight can't see it but it's the best Sunday drink ever! My sister in law, Carla, introduced me to this drink on a ski trip...2 shots of Southern Comfort with 8 ounces of Sunny Delight. Original Tangy, of course. Yum.  Perfect for Super Bowl.
I also made the most amazing, delicious Guy Fieri's Korean Crispy Chicken Wings
This picture does not do justice to how incredibly flavorful, spicy and meat-a -licious finger-lickin' good they are to eat!
I followed the recipe exactly. I bought fresh chicken wings, chopped them and got rid of the wing tips, patted them dry, tossed with a little kosher salt, some applewood smoked peppercorns, freshly cracked, and a little oilve oil.
The sauce is fantastic! And since I always have sambal olek in my house (chili garlic sauce) by the way, NOT Sriracha sauce- as well as local honey, about 12 kinds of vinegar, and frozen or fresh or pickled ginger-this was easily tossed together.

I also made some fresh guacamole and salsa, but we didn't break that out until the game was over. There's lots of fruit left for a smoothie tomorrow...and more snacks for the next hockey game we will watch...oh, wait- there's one on now!
Hope you try these recipes!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Two More Giada Dinners

I've discovered that it's not easy to create fast, fresh and delicious meals from just one cookbook.
We usually have at least a 3 (usually a 4) course meal for dinner. I make a main dish (meat, fish, or veggie) a starch of some sort, and at least one vegetable as a side dish...and usually a salad. Plus, a glass of wine with dinner. Rarely, a dessert.
While the meals from the 'Weeknights with Giada' cookbook are fantastic, they are somewhat limited. So, I am supplimenting the menu with some additions of my own to round out the meals.
On Friday night, I adapted a version of Giada's Antipasto Calzone.
Well, it was remotely related!
I made homemade whole wheat pizza dough from this incredibly simple and fast recipe Williams-Sonoma Thin Crust Pizza Dough

and cooked up some sausage, chopped, drained and jarred roasted red bell peppers, homemade tomato sauce (using home grown and canned San Marzano tomatoes) and freshly grated parmesano-reggiano and mozzarella cheese. I also added some frozen artichoke hearts that I cooked quickly and chopped.  I stuffed the calzone and brushed it with a beaten egg from my cute little chickens (they are still laying everyday!) and baked it on a pizza stone for 20 minutes at 425.
It was HUGE!
Kevin and I split it! I also had a small container of more of the tomato sauce for dipping. You can't see the salad, but we had salad, too.
You might notice we switched the china for February- we used the wedding china from 1980 (Viceroy by Noritake) for the month of January, and now we are using the Ashbourne by Royal Daulton for the next couple of months. It's just beautiful! It has beautiful pink peonies on it. Kevin's mother, Lee, gave it to me about 10 years ago before she showed symptoms of Alzheimers. I am so glad I have it now- she loved it, but she gave it to me!! She is in heaven, now, but every time we use it, I think of her, and smile.
Tonight, I had to work at the Church for the 5:30PMN Mass, because we held the Rite of the Presentation of the Creed (the set of beliefs handed down from the Apostles) and the Lord's Prayer (the Prayer Jesus taught the Apostles in Sacred Scripture). It's a short ceremony, but rich in meaning.
I had defrosted some beautiful 'breakfast' pork chops that are super thin this morning in anticipation of a 'quick' dinner when I got home.
I decided on Giada's Spiced Pork Chops with Sweet and Sour Glaze
Of course, I changed it a bit.
I added one half sliced onion and 1 seeded and sliced Anaheim pepper to the garlic saute.
Everything was going great; until I burnt the balsamic vinegar & honey mixture. It was horrible.
I dumped it out and started over.
Once it was made and I drizzled it over the cooked chops, it was fantastic!
I also made some tater tots. Yah, I know, cheater starch, but did you know that TOTS are the 'item of the year' for most hip restaurants? I'm telling have to google 'tots'.
Here's the dinner, complete with a perfectly cooked glaze, veggies and...tots.
You will love this recipe!