Recipe – Turkey Soup

My poor mom was not a grand cook.  If she was still alive, I think she’d even fess up to that, as she always told us as kids that her mother NEVER let her cook anything.  She could follow a recipe and have everything turn out fine (minus the fact that she had a knack of burning muffins).  She just didn’t have any seasoning instinct.  Not even salt or pepper.  As a matter of fact, my brother called me during his first semester of college, after eating cafeteria food, and commented on how mom didn’t know how to season.  In other words, I grew up on a very bland diet, typically meat, and boiled vegetables (you know, the frozen bagged ones like “mixed veggies” or lima beans… boiled, drained and served).  I never learned to season either.

Well, about 16 years or so ago, I set out to have some understanding of how to season things and how to cook/season without a recipe.  I started off with going through all of my herbs and spices in my cabinet and reading the labels, which kindly told me things like “goes well with poultry.”  I then set out to make my first “winging it” recipe…. turkey soup.

My soup was probably ok, at least enough that I kept experimenting.  My soup was probably something to the effect of turkey, water, vegetables, and seasonings. As time went on, I would make dumplings and throw them in there (so good, in my pre-Paleo days).  I remember being a bit scared of trying to make soup, as I imagine others might be too, if you’ve never made a bone broth based soup.  If you’re nervous, here’s the gist…. it’s hard to screw up.  At best, it’s delicious.  At worst, it’s watery or you got some bones in it.

I doubt I’ve ever made it the same way twice, and I’ve never measured, but here’s the basics:

You need a big pot or a big crock pot or both, if you have them.  I find it easier (and faster) to cook the turkey in a pot.  Generally, I use a leftover turkey carcass, like one which we ate for Thanksgiving, and all the big meat is off.  I will often freeze the carcass in a big plastic grocery bag after eating the “easily obtainable meat”.  I then pull it out at a future date.  It typically makes a big pot of soup.

Take your giant carcass out of the freezer and plunk it in your big pot.  My big pot isn’t typically big enough to hold the whole carcass, so it’s usually hanging out the top quite a bit.  Sometimes a little messy, but no worries.  Cover as much of the carcass with water as possible, leaving room for a good boil at the top.  Try to cover the top if you can, even if the lid won’t seal.  Boil the turkey.  The longer it boils, the more the bones start to fall apart at the joints, and you can start pushing that big part at the top down into your pot.  I usually boil 1-2 hours, as low as I can that still creates a good boil (usually high at first them medium to medium low as it heats up).  Keep the lid on as secure as possible.  You don’t want all of your water to boil out.  If it does, add a little more.  When your turkey is a relative pile of bones, and the broth has a sort of milky appearance to it, you can turn it off.

If you have another giant pot or crock pot, I start that going right after the turkey.  If not, no biggie.  You can start it after the turkey is done in your original turkey pot.  In your second pot/crock pot, I put about 12-16 ounces of water, 1 pound of carrots (usually those carrot sticks already cut for you), one whole yellow onion, diced, and about 6 celery stalks, diced.  Then I add some or all of the following herbs (a teaspoon, a tablespoon, I don’t know.  Just shake it in there.  It will be ok):

  • Rosemary*
  • Sage*
  • Thyme
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Bay leaf
  • Poultry seasoning
  • experimenting with majoram

* If you’re going for that “comfort food” flavor, I think rosemary and sage are essential. 

If all else fails, you can dump a pile of Italian seasoning in, and it’ll be good too.  Cook your veggies on low/medium while the turkey is going.  You want them to be tender, but not mushy, by the time the turkey is done.

After your turkey is done boiling, you need some tongs, a slotted spoon and 2 big plates or platters.  Pull your turkey out of the broth with tongs/slotted spoons, and put it on a plate.  You need to wait a little while for it to cool.  KEEP THE TURKEY BROTH (the water you boiled the turkey in).  It’s the BEST PART!  I used to separate the broth in a gravy separater to get “the grease” out. I don’t do that anymore.  Eat it all.  It’s delish.  If you’re using a second pot, separate the turkey meat from the bones and skin.  Put the bones on your empty plate and the turkey in with your veggies.  You’ll have to pull some of the turkey meat out of little crevices.  Avoid putting bones in with your veggies.  Get ALL those little turkey pieces, the dark, the light, it’s ALL good.  Next, you need to put your broth in with your veggies.  I usually do that by very slowly pouring it from one pot to the other.  Usually all the bones sink to the bottom, so you can avoid getting them in with the veggies.  Pour as much as you can into the veggies.  Heat the whole potion back up, and you’re golden.  If you’re not Paleo, Bisquick has a pretty awesome dumpling recipe you can do at this time.

If you only have one big pot, you’ll need to get the bones out of your big pot.  You might pour your broth into a smaller pot, get the bones out of the big pot, then put the broth back in the big pot.  You can then add your veggies, turkey, seasonings, and a little water.  You’ll need to cook a little longer until your veggies are tender.

You can store your leftover in the frig or freezer.  Cold soup may congeal and look like jello.  No worries.  It’s still good.  Just heat it up to return to soupy consistency.  Enjoy!

 Turkey Soup

Recipe – Paleo Turkey Pear Salad

This is my new favorite Paleo recipe.  It is SO good.  I modified it from a recipe I had at a restaurant.  It has balsamic vinegar in it, which I shouldn’t eat as it make me itch.  UGH, but it’s so good!  And I’m trying to get off nuts.  Eggs have been out for a couple of months, but the nuts have not been <sigh>.

It’s that time of year when frozen turkeys have become widely available for the holiday season.  This usually lasts from some time in October to January, possible even March, depending on the store.  On sale, frozen turkeys are a pretty cheap source of protein, and we make about one per week during this time of year.  That means that by spring, we’re pretty sick of turkey.  I’m always looking for new turkey recipes!

DSC05868 (3)

Recipe -Paleo Turkey Pear Salad

You’re gonna LOVE my measurements!

  • Handful of bag o salad (I use a 50/50 spring and spinach mix usually)
  • Small handful of leftover baked and shredded turkey
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 1/2 red pear, sliced
  • A few whole pecans (10 maybe)
  • Some dried cranberries (20-25 maybe)
  • A small sprinkle of balsamic vinegar

Dump it all in a big bowl (yes, I’m eating it out of a serving bowl), mix, and eat.

I’ve also added thinly sliced red onion, but the last time, I got an unusually strong onion, and it was so awful that I haven’t used it since.  It still might be good, if not so strong.

Rheumatoid Arthritis – An Experiment in Fasting

So, I had a weird thing happen yesterday.  I had the most exhausting day at work, came home, took off my shoes, and felt like I had a splinter on the bottom of my right big toe.  I couldn’t find anything though, so I just went on with my evening.  A few hours later, my whole right leg (foot, angle, knee) was in extreme pain, and my foot was very very swollen.  I could barely put any weight on it, so sat on the couch, keeping it elevated.  I suspected that I had been walking funny since my toe hurt.  I don’t know about you all, but I can adapt to pains like that without even thinking about it.  Even changing shoes can cause a flare up my leg by slightly changing the way I walk.  See this post.

I went to bed fearing I would wake up a mess and have to miss work.  I guess in a way, I was hoping for that to happen, as Monday and Tuesday were REALLY exhausting days at work. Sometimes you just need a break.  Anyway, I woke up and my leg was normal, but the bottom of my big toe hurt pretty bad.  The skin hurt, not the joint. It isn’t warm.  It doesn’t look injured.  It’s just really really swollen and sore on the bottom.  It’s so swollen that it’s changing how I walk.  I took a shower, woke my husband, and asked him to look at it.  I was debating staying home, knowing that my whole leg would swell if I was walking weird on it all day.

In the end, I decided to make it to work.  I only work 4 hours on Wednesdays, and I know my coworkers would really need me if Wednesday was anything like Monday or Tuesday (thankfully, it was a much better day).  To get through the day, I decided to try something I used to do quite frequently, but not much at all in the last 10 years.  I decided to fast.  Sometimes when my body hurt and nothing else worked, fasting helped.  Today, I did it more as a test.  I didn’t take any pain medication (no ibuprofen, etc…)  I did drink water, and I did take my thyroid medication. Other than that, I didn’t eat anything from about 6:00 Tuesday night until 4:30 Wednesday afternoon, almost, but not quite 24 hours. 

So, what happened?  Well, I made it through the work day.  My right ankle swelled and hurt a little, but not nearly as bad as Tuesday night.  I even made it to the grocery store after work, something my husband insisted I not do after seeing my foot Tuesday night.  I was very tired, although I’m not sure that was related to the fast.  It was the sleepy kind of tried, not the lack of energy kind of tired.  I took a nap for a little over an hour when I got home.  Amazingly, I wasn’t hungry, and I didn’t get the shakes until about 4:00 PM.  Then I was absolutely starving.  I think I have Paleo to thank for the not being starving all day long.  I’m no longer the sugar addict I used to be.  This was reassurance that my hunger cycles are very different now than they used to be.  I suspect I could have gone longer had the afternoon not been crazy.  My son has a huge project on Abraham Lincoln due on Friday, and it has to get done by tonight, as he has a baseball game tomorrow.  Sometimes, it’s like pulling teeth to get a 9 year old to get his butt moving on such a big project.  He was needing constant supervision and encouragement to keep going on the project.  I soon realized how irritated I was getting with him and how hungry I was becoming.  I wonder if I would have done better if our evening had been more relaxed.  This was not the case though, and I suddenly went from feeling fine to feeling very stressed.

So, how did I break my fast?  I made myself a shake minus the greens.  Probably not my best choice.  I was already hungry and cranky.  After the shake, I was still hungry, cranky, and cold!  2 hours later, I’m sitting here eating some plain turkey we made in the crockpot Sunday night.  I’m feeling pretty normal.  My foot is not bugging me much, but the skin on the bottom of my big toe is still very sore.  I may need to see the doctor about it, as it seems very unusual, and I have no idea what’s wrong with it.

Next time, if I can get some less-stressful days, I may try for a 2 day fast.  Supposedly fasting helps reset your immune system, and I heard something recently that a 2-4 days fast can do really good things.  http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-06/uosc-fts060214.php

Paleo Recipe – Zucchini Pancakes

Last week I went to the beach in Texas with my brother, his wife, and their 3 cute kids.  Before I left, I picked a zucchini from the garden, thinking I’d have time to cook something with it before I left.  I wanted some kind of Paleo zucchini bread or pancakes.  The recipes I found on the web didn’t look good to me.  That poor zucchini was sitting for about 10 days while we were away.  It was a little dried out, but I decided tonight I was going to invent something with it.  And so I did.  And it was good.  Good enough that my son thought it was his new favorite pancake recipe.  So, here it is….

  • 2/3 cup pureed zucchini (measured post puree)
  • 1 cup of pecans, ground (measured pre-ground.  Grind until like a nut flour, not butter)
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour (press out the lumps with the back of a spoon before adding to the mix)
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

Mix it all up with a mixer on medium speed.  I cooked them on a hot non-stick skillet with a little olive oil.

I still have lots of zuke left.  I think I’ll go make more……

Recipe – Comfort Chicken

I should have taken a picture of this recipe, but the leftovers don’t look as pretty as when you first spoon it out of the pot.  I’m sure I’ll make this again soon, so I’ll try to get a photo then.

Comfort Chicken Ingredients:

  • Two 20 ounce packages of chicken thighs
  • 1 cup chicken broth (I used Pacific brand, organic free range)
  • 1 pound organic pre-cut carrots (of course you can cut your own, but I’m lazy)
  • 4 stalks of celery, cut in large chunks
  • 1 very large or 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in large chunks
  • rubbed thyme (dried)
  • rubbed sage (dried)
  • rosemary (dried)
  • pink himalayan sea salt (or any salt, this was just an experiment)
  • 3 cloves are garlic, finely cut

In your crock put, sprinkle just enough broth to coat the bottom of the pot.  Place one package of chicken thighs across the bottom and sprinkle with a light-medium coating of thyme, sage, rosemary (heavier on the rosemary) and salt (just a tiny bit).  Sprinkle a little more broth on top, then add the second package of chicken on top.  Again, sprinkle with herbs and salt.  Add all of your veggies on top, sprinkle again with herbs and salt.  Add the rest of your broth and garlic.  Cook on high in crock pot for 3-4 hours.  I was going for comfort food here, and this totally hit the spot!

Into the crock pot it goes! 

Paleo – Whoopie Pies

I’ve never had a real whoopie pie for comparison, but I guess I’m on a roll for trying new things this week (yesterday I invented coconut milk, apple, cranberry pudding).  The Whoopie Pie  recipe came from my Paleo Indulgences cookbook.  I couldn’t find the recipe online.  This one was pretty close on the cookie part, but the icing was different.  The icing pictured in my cookbook looks thick, but mine came out runny, despite not putting all of the coconut oil in.  I’m hoping it will firm up a bit more in the fridge.  Still, the icing tastes really good!  Actually, the whole thing was quite yummy.

http://foodiepaleo.blogspot.com/2013/07/whoopie-pies-paleo-indulgence.html

Um, yeah, Paleo Whoopie Pies.  I love creative Paleo folks!

Um, yeah, Paleo Whoopie Pies. I love creative Paleo folks!

Paleo – Eating When the House is Sick

Ugh, so EARLY Wednesday morning (1:00 AM), my husband awoke to a barfing puppy.  He put her in the bathroom to clean out her crate, and by the time he finished the crate…..  Well, let’s just say the bathroom smelled BAD.

2:00 AM, there’s a poke at my side, “Mom, I had really bad diarrhea.”

Me: “Are you ok?”

Cavan: “Yeah”

Me: “Ok, go back to bed.”

He does so, but I hear moaning the rest of the night. 

5:30 AM, my alarm goes off to rise and (just can’t put “shine” in here) get ready for work.  I go in Cavan’s room to check on him, just in time for the projectile vomiting.  I had no bucket.  Yeah, it was bad.  And it continued for 2 1/2 days.  Ugh.

Good news, although I think I have the same germ (my stomach is making very entertaining sounds), I haven’t gotten sick.

Bad news, I don’t feel like cooking or really eating after witnessing so much… yeah, nastiness.

What I ate today:

Breakfast:

Shake (banana, coconut milk, cocoa powder, frozen blueberries, blended).  I’d normally put in some greens, but I think the 17 degree temps finally killed off my collards.

Lunch:

A handful of nuts and some Cuties (you know, those little oranges).

Dinner:

I managed to throw a whole turkey in the oven, but was too lazy to make anything to go with it.  My husband managed some sweet potatoes.

I guess that’s not too bad.  I’m sitting here thinking that I don’t think I managed a glass of water or tea today.  Hmmm.

Recipe – Carnitas

I was unfamiliar with what a carnita was until a recent jaunt to a new restaurant.  I liked it so much, I decided to try my own version.  Think of a Paleo version of a pork taco.

Meat:

Step 1:

  • Boneless pork shoulder roast (ours was 3+ pounds) with visible chunks of fat removed
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • about 1 tsp salt
  • about 1 tsp paprika
  • about 2 tsp basil
  • about 2 tsp majoram
  • I would have added some oregano as well, but we were out.

Make a dry rub on the pork out of all ingredients except garlic.  Place roast and garlic chunks in crock pot and cook on medium to high all day (6-8 hours).

Step 2:

  • 4 slices of bacon, chopped into about 8-10 pieces each
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 lime

In a large skillet, place bacon.  Cook on medium heat for a few minutes until you have some good grease going and bacon is starting to look cooked.  Add onion and cook until onion just starts to turn translucent.  While this is happening, remove pork roast from crock pot.  It should be falling apart into thin strips.  Break apart any parts that are still in chunks and remove any large fat chunks.  Add the pull-apart pork to the bacon/onion yumminess, stirring and cooking until well heated through.  Remove from heat and squirt the juice from 1/2 lime on top and stir.

Shells:

  • Butter lettuce or another variety, such as red leaf, that doesn’t have a strong flavor.  Look for largest leaves.  Rinse and pat dry.  These will be your shells.

Toppings:

Guacamole:

Now, most sane people have a better guac recipe than this, and I would recommend using a tastier one.  I’m not a guac fan, but did like it in this recipe.  This is how I made my guac, but I’m sure there are much better recipes out there.

  • 2 small, ripe avocados, peeled, pitted, and placed in a food processor
  • 4-5 scallions (green onions) diced and placed in food processor.
  • pinch of cayenne pepper

Grind in food processor until smooth.

Update 2014:  Awesome guacamole recipe here: Bacon Guacamole

Pico de Gallo:

  • 3 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 red or yellow onion, diced (I prefer red, but yellow is all we had).
  • Juice from 1/2 lime
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tbsp chopped cilantro, if desired

Combine and stir.

Pineapple:

  • 1/3 to 1/2 of a fresh pineapple, diced small.

I can’t say enough good things about the pineapple.  It made an awesome flavor with the salty meat.

Assembly:

Take your lettuce leaf, and use it like a taco shell.  Add some meat, small dollop of guacamole, a sprinkle of pico de gallo, and a respectable amount of pineapple.  Wrap tight and eat!

 Modified Version:

I didn’t have a pork shoulder roast, so had to use a pork sirloin.  Because it had much less fat, I had to put it in the food processor to grind it up and mix it with the cooked bacon, bacon grease, and onions.  I also didn’t do the pico de gallo this time and left the pineapple in bigger chunks (would have been better smaller).

 Carnitas, modified version

Recipe – Chris’ All Good Soup Starts with Bacon Soup

This is my husband’s recipe.  It’s awesome!  I went a bit crazy with the camera today, but it was fun!

  • 6 slices of bacon, diced
  • 2.5 pounds of chicken thighs, diced
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 5 large carrots, sliced
  • 5 stalks celery, sliced
  • 2-3 tbsp fresh basil, chopped (or substitute with 1 tbsp dried)
  • 1 tbsp Italian Seasoning
  • 4 cups (32 oz) chicken broth
  • 2 cups water

Saute the bacon on medium heat (stir occasionally) in a large pot until it looks like this.

Bacon.... all good soup starts with it!

Bacon…. all good soup starts with it!

Get out a large frying pan and cook the chicken separately on medium heat until cooked thoroughly.

Cook chicken thoroughly in separate pan, stirring occasionally.

Cook chicken thoroughly in separate pan, stirring occasionally.

In the meantime, add the onions to the bacon and cook about 5 minutes or until slightly translucent.  Next, add the celery and carrots to the onions and bacon, like this….  Cook about 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

To the bacon and onions, add celery and carrots.

To the bacon and onions, add celery and carrots.

Add Italian seasoning to the bacon.  Add cooked chicken, including the brothy stuff into the bacon pot.

Add the chicken.

Add the chicken.

Add broth, water, and basil.  Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.  It should look like this….

Simmering soup

Simmering soup

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recipe – Sweet Potato Bisque

I found this recipe very helpful when I first started Paleo and felt like I was craving sugar/fullness.  It was a recipe for the non-Paleo world, but I adjusted it to make it Paleo.

  • 2 1/4 cups diced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons minced garlic

Saute in a large soup pot for 5 minutes.

  • 6 cups Paleo-friendly vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 12 cups peeled and diced sweet potatoes
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 bay leaves

Add to sauteed ingredients.  Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer until sweet potatoes are tender.  Remove bay leaves.  With hand held blender or regular blender, puree the soup.

  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons fresh chopped Italian Parsley (optional, garnish or stirred in)

Stir into soup and serve.

Sweet Potato Bisque with Paleo blueberry muffin

Sweet Potato Bisque with Paleo blueberry muffin