Roasted Tomato and Beef Spaghetti Sauce and Spaghetti Squash

Well, this is it, a commitment from me to me to cook more paleo and keto foods. I love the creativity needed to come up with new versions of our favourite carb-ladened foods. It is a challenge, and as my last couple months of blogging can attest, I’ve been pretty worn out. But I see the interest (check out my most popular low carb post, Chicken Pizza Crust), and I know that I feel great when I am eating a lot more veggie and protein combos than sugar, so here we go! This is pretty much my first public proclamation of a paleo commitment, but my interest in it has been evident through my many paleo and keto posts over the last year.

So here I am, making a commitment. I will try to post more delicious paleo and keto options that make use of veggies and proteins in ways that I love. Most of my cooking in this style is kind of thrown together, which is why I don’t often post it, but I will make an effort to really document what works, why I did this, that, and that other thing, and will keep on making food that tastes great and makes you feel great!

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Beef and Spinach Casserole: Greek spanakopita flavours in a hearty dinner dish

I’ve been watching a lot of Harry Potter. The movies are great to watch but also good background noise for when I’m trying to do really important stuff. I’ve also been watching Dexter on Netflix because I was really into the first season and then it fell off my radar, well there is a lot of catching up to do. So, much like before, watching shows, applying for jobs, and working on my paper has been my life. I had an interview yesterday for a great new position at an exciting firm, but we’ll see if anything comes of it. I am keeping my eye on the market and have been seriously looking into jobs in the UK (yaaaay Caelin), Toronto (yaaaay Heidi, Lauren, and Andreé) and the states (yaaaaay Trader Joe’s)! I am so incredibly tired of the never-ending weekend, but trust that something will come along soon. I am enjoying the search so far, I am definitely getting a feel for the job market in Vancouver.

OH! And also, happy Valentine’s Day! Gen and I aren’t celebrating today because he’s working all night. We are postponing our festivities until Sunday when we can spend the day together. The plans? We are having a Die Hard marathon (at my request, I haven’t seen them) and I am making us a series of delicious meals that are sure to be feature on Not Crocker! But for all of you lovers out there, happy love day! To all those without someone special to smooch on today, make some Scotch Truffles or Rum Cupkrakes and know that someone, somewhere thinks you’re awesome!

BeefandSpinachCasserole

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Parmesan Meatloaf

ParmesanMeatloaf

This is a tasty meatloaf with no need for fillers, it has some cheese, some tomato, and a ridiculous amount of flavour.

I am not a huge fan of meatloaf, but have found that when I get a chance to mix things up, I can make it pretty darn tasty. So here we go, meeeaaatttllloooooafffff. Ridiculously flavourful, awesome for dinners and awesome to pack up for lunches galore. Again, this makes a lot so feel free to cut it in half, but I don’t recommend it, meatloaf shrinks down and when things are this tasty, it is a good idea to have enough for more! The parmesan in the name is a replacement for the typical fillers, it adds lots of sharp flavour and bite. Delicious!

Anyway, enjoy it with a heaping serving of Sunday’s Fully-Loaded Cauliflower Bake. Awesome dinner all around!

Parmesan Meatloaf

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup cheddar, shredded
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan, finely grated
  • 1 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp basil
  • 1 cup low-sugar tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp sweetener (sugar, stevia, honey, etc.)
  • 2 tbsp mustard

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat oven to 425°F. Line two loaf pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl combine the meat, eggs, cheese, and spices.
  3. In a measuring cup, measure the tomato sauce. Add the apple cider vinegar and sweetener. Stir well to combine. Pour 1/4 cup of the tomato mixture into the meat.
  4. Mix the meat and other ingredients until evenly distributed. Scoop evenly into loaf pans, smooth the top.
  5. Add the mustard to the remaining tomato mixture and stir well to combine. Pour evenly over the loafs.
  6. Cook the two loafs for 15 minutes at 425°F. Reduce heat to 350°F and bake for another 40-50 minutes, until cooked through.
  7. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes before serving. Carefully lift out of pan and slice on a plate.
Ready to be loafed up.

Ready to be loafed up.

Ready to be sauced up.

Ready to be sauced up.

Ready to be cooked up.

Ready to be cooked up.

Ready to be eaten up!

Ready to be eaten up!

Meatballs with Easy Cheesy Sauce

Meatballs

Sometimes I just really get an idea in my head for dinner but I am still at work. Conveniently my husband works a lot later than me, so I can often get him to do some dinner prep for me. Today Gen took out the pork and beef to defrost and they were perfectly ready by the time I got home. Meatballs were on the menu and my goodness I am thrilled with them! I whipped up some cheese sauce, kind of like an alfredo, to top them off and I was in an amazing cheesy dream place come dinner.

On a complete random and mostly unrelated note, I was walking home along Granville when I was a sign advertising “1/2 Pd Wings.” Most creative expression  of pound that I’ve ever seen.

Meatballs

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 lb minced beef
  • 1 lb minced pork
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp ground sage
  • 1/2 cup parmesan, grated
  • 2 eggs

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat oven to 375°F, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a medium skillet over high heat melt butter and sauté onion for 5 minutes, until just translucent.
  3. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more, until fragrant.
  4. In a large bowl mash together the two minced meats. Add the sautéed onions and garlic, cheese, eggs, salt, pepper, and spices.
  5. Mix well to combine, it will be gooey.
  6. Roll golfball-sized meatballs and line up on the prepared cookie sheet.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until browned and cooked through.

Easy Cheesy Sauce

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup parmesan, grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1/2-3/4 cup of water as needed

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the cream cheese over medium-low, stirring until melted and smooth.
  2. Gradually stir in the whipping cream until smooth.
  3. Add the parmesan and seasonings. It will be very thick at this point.
  4. Cook over low heat until smooth and creamy, adding water until you’ve reached your desired consistency.
  5. Serve over meatballs!
All-in-one ready to mash into glorious meatballs!

All-in-one ready to mash into glorious meatballs!

I pan-fried one as a tester. Works as well as baking, but browner.

I pan-fried one as a tester. Works as well as baking, but browner.

Creamy cheese sauce.

Creamy cheese sauce.

Delicious baked meatballs!

Delicious baked meatballs!

Shepherd’s Pie another way, recipe from Guest cook: Caelin

My friend Caelin is Carrie Bradshaw; she loves shoes, drinks out, writing, and she may or may not use her oven as a sweater warmer more often than for food. Oka, okay she is not actually Carrie Bradshaw, mostly because she does not have mysterious source of shoe-income, does not live in New York, does not have a TERRIBLE love life (Dave is lovely, did Carrie ever even have a British bloke?), and well, that might be it. In any case, she has one food recipe that she can make and she proposed we make it together for the blog, Gordon Ramsey’s (ha! of course) Shepherd’s Pie. It was delightful! The making of the food involved the requisite alcohol consumption, great night, 10/10, will do again. Oh, also check out her blog! The Life and Lies of Caelin Charge, she’s cool.

Gordon Ramsey’s Shepherd’s Pie

This recipe is tasty, and a different style than my previous shepherd’s pie. It’s funny, when Gen and I first started dating I made him a super simple shepherd’s pie, similar to my original post, he LOVED it but said he could do better. Months later he cooked up a tomato-based shepherd’s pie that was… terrible is not the right word, not-as-good is more like it. Anyway, with this memory, I was reluctant about the tomato in this recipe, but it was good, warm, homey. Also, I know, I know it’s Shepherd’s Pie when made with lamb, it’s a Cottage Pie when made with beef, and apparently it’s a purist’s dream when made with sheep, but for familiarity’s sake, we are calling it Shepherd’s Pie, even if you choose beef.

Ingredients

Meat

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 lbs ground lamb or beef
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 large onion (any colour), diced
  • 1 stalk of celery, diced
  • 1/2 tsp fresh Rosemary (or 1/4 tsp dried)
  • 1/2 tsp fresh thyme (or 1/4 tsp dried)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (or crushed in a press… Caelin and Dave have THE WORST GARLIC PRESS EVER)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 1/2 (up to 3/4) cup of your favourite red wine (also known as a few glugs)
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock

Potatoes

  • 1.5 lbs of your favourite potatoes, we made it with reds this time, skin on!
  • 1/4 cup of cream
  • 3 1/2 tbsp butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Cube your potatoes, boil some water with a pinch of salt, add your potatoes, boil for 15 minutes, until tender. In the meantime start your meat section.
  2. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  3. In a hot, large pan, add your olive oil and ground lamb or beef. Stir over medium-high heat to brown the meat, as you are stirring, break the meat up with your spoon until it is in small pieces and fairly even. Add your rosemary, thyme, and garlic, and continue stirring. Add your carrot, onion, and celery, and continue stirring over medium heat until everything is nice and fragrant and well-combined.
  4. Add Worcestershire sauce, tomato puree, and red wine, stirring well to evenly combine. Allow the mixture to cook down over medium heat for a few minutes.
  5. Add the chicken stock and allow the mixture to cook down again for 3-5 minutes.
  6. While the meat mixture is simmering, strain your potatoes, add the cream, butter, salt and pepper, and half (1/2 cup) of the parmesan cheese, and mash well to combine and smooth.
  7. Spread the meat evenly in the bottom of an 8 x 8 casserole dish. Top with the mashed potatoes and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan cheese.
  8. Cook in the 400°F oven for 18-20 minutes, until the meat is bubbling and the potatoes have golden bits.

Stirring, cooking down, tasting, salt and peppering as needed.

Lovely layers of deliciousness. DIG IN (oh, wait, this was before we put it in the oven… cook for 18-20, then dig in)

Green Curry Bowls

This was the curry that I made all the time before I discovered my Amazing Curry. Gen used to demand I make it whenever guests came over. It started with chicken, then tofu, then beef. It is adjustable, simple, and easy. It starts with a protein, coconut milk, and green curry paste (I use Cock Brand…). It is so simple and can have any veggies added to it. I typically add broccoli, green beans, red and/or yellow peppers, and a squirt of lime. But I’ve definitely tried brussels sprouts, potatoes, green peppers, carrots, cabbage, asparagus, etc. It is versatile.

Green curry delight.

I am going to give you the base for this curry and you should feel free to adjust as desired. It is an awesome, easy recipe.

Green Curry

Ingredients

  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • 2 chicken breasts cubed /or/ 1.5 lbs cubed beef /or/ 1 block of firm tofu cubed
  • 1-2 tbsp green curry paste (Cock Brand or whatever you prefer)
  • 2 heads of broccoli chopped
  • 1 large pepper chopped
  • 1 large leek, white part only, sliced
  • 3 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 lime
  • quinoa

Directions

Getting ready to cook. That's the good curry paste there. Leeks for life!

  1. Cube your protein, brown in a large pot with some coconut oil or other favourite oil. Add a tbsp of curry paste to start.
  2. Pour in your two cans of coconut milk.
  3. Chop your veggies, rinse the leek clean.

Ready for the pot!

4. Add the leeks and broccoli to the meat and coconut milk. These two take the longest to cook. (If you are using other veggies, make a call on how quickly they will cook through and time them accordingly) ALSO: At this point taste the curry to see if you need to add another spoon or two of curry paste. We worked ourselves up from 1 tbsp to almost 3 over the years.

First round of veggies.

5. Cook for about 5 minutes, until broccoli is tender-crisp. Add basil and peppers and allow to cook for a couple of minutes.

6. Serve over quinoa, rice, steamed veggies, etc. with a squeeze of lime.

Yummy.

Amazing Curry

This curry is coursing through my veins. I found it, tried it, tweaked it, and have cooked it at almost once a week over the last five months. I’ve made it with chicken and turkey but my favourite so far is the ground beef version. I am going to try the recipes with lentils because Genesis is all about lentils and I can see them tasting amazing in this dish. This is an easy-to-vegan recipe. Switch out the ground beef for TVP, lentils, chickpeas, etc. This time around I added lentils and peas which added an nice texture and sweetness.

Seriously tasty.

AMAZING CURRY

  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1.5 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1.5 tsp ground coriander
  • 1.5 tsp ground cumin
  • 1.5 tsp ground cloves
  • 1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp chili powder
  • 3/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 3/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 lbs of ground beef (alternatives: 2 lbs ground chicken, turkey, lamb, etc. or veggie it up: all lentils, tvp, chickpeas, etc.)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • 1 large red onion (very large… or 1.5 kinda large onions. Can use white or yellow, I just like red onions)
  • 4-6 green serrano chili peppers or jalapeños (to taste)
  • 1 head of garlic (seems like a lot but this is a lot of food)
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 1 lime

Directions

  • Mix together all the spices in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Brown your protein in a large pot with the coconut oil (or olive oil if you are so inclined), add salt and pepper to taste.
  • While browning the meat chop your onion, peppers, and peel your garlic.
  • Drain your protein and set aside.
  • In the same large pot saute the onions, peppers, and crushed garlic (you can add a little more coconut oil if you need to). Cook until onions become lightly translucent.
  • Add the meat back in. Add lentils and peas (and any other veggies you want) and sprinkle everything with your spice blend.
  • Stir the mixture over medium heat for a few minutes until the spices become fragrant.
  • Pour in your two cans of coconut milk, stir to combine.
  • Cook everything until hot throughout and the meat is cooked (shouldn’t be long if you’ve happily browned away already).
  • Serve over rice, or quinoa, or more lentils, or green beans, or a tire (I bet it will make it delicious). Squeeze lime over everything.

Now… pictures!

Spices lined up, ready for mixing.

Onions, peppers, and garlic.

About to be served.

Beef and Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

Well I took out ground beef because I had a hankering for curry but I’ve been making it at least once a week lately and I could tell that Gen was getting tired of it. (I will absolutely post that recipe next week)

Instead, I decided to make shepherd’s pie with our last round of ground beef. Gen also had boiled some lentils so I decided to mix those into the meat for a slightly healthier twist. This recipe was delicious, Gen loved it and I finally got my salting figured out (I tend to under-salt while cooking… I forget to salt).

Anyway, I am pretty thrilled with this dish but sadly my camera was dead so I used the iPad and have shoddy photos.

Shepherd’s Pie

Potato top:

  • 2 pounds potatoes quartered (I live the skins on for nutrients and texture… also I am lazy and Gen likes them)
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup cream (milk or chicken broth for a lighter version)
  • salt & pepper, to taste (for the potatoes and meat)

Meat and lentil filling:

  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds extra-lean ground beef
  • 1 cup boiled lentils
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup beef broth (I used Better Than Bouillon beef base)
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • handful chopped parsley

Directions

  • Boil potatoes in water with salt until tender, 12-15 minutes. When cooked, drain and dump back into the pot. In a small bowl combine sour cream, egg yolk, salt, pepper, and cream. Pour sour cream mixture over the potatoes and mash until smooth.
  • While potatoes boil, drop the coconut oil into a large skillet, add ground beef. Season the meat with salt and pepper; cook over medium-high heat until browned. Drain excess fat from pan.
  • Add lentils to the meat and stir to combine.
  • Add chopped carrot, onion, and garlic to the beef. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, until the onions and carrots have begun to soften.
  • In a small skillet, over medium heat melt butter and whisk in flour until a roux is formed. Whisk in beef broth and Worcestershire sauce. Cook the gravy down for 5 minutes or until thickened.
  • Pour gravy over the meat and vegetable mixture. Stir in peas. (Pop a few frozen peas in your mouth too, they are so sweet and delicious!)
  • Turn broiler to high. Fill a glass casserole dish with meat mixture and cover with potatoes.
  • Sprinkle potatoes with paprika and broil until potatoes are brown (5-10 minutes).
  • Remove dish from oven, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.

While potatoes boil, drop the coconut oil into a large skillet, add ground beef. Season the meat with salt and pepper; cook over medium-high heat until browned. Drain excess fat from pan. (My meat looks weird because I've started doing 'sheet meat.' It just means I flatten my meat in a ziploc before freezing because it thaws faster)

Add chopped carrot, onion, and garlic to the beef. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, until the onions and carrots have begun to soften.

I think next time I will do half-and-half with lentils and beef.

Veganized!

Shepherd’s Pie

Potato top:

  • 2 pounds potatoes quartered (I live the skins on for nutrients and texture… also I am lazy and Gen likes them)
  • 2 tbsp tofu sour “cream”
  • 2 tbsp Earth Balance
  • 1/2 cup veggie broth
  • salt & pepper, to taste (for the potatoes and protein)

Protein filling:

  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 2.5 cups ground TVP (or all lentils!!! Yum!!)
  • 1 cup boiled lentils
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • 2 tbsp Earth Balance buttery
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup veggie broth
  • 2 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce (or hot sauce if you don’t want to make the effort)
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • handful chopped parsley

Directions

  • Boil potatoes in water with salt until tender, 12-15 minutes. When cooked, drain and dump back into the pot. In a small bowl combine tofu sour “cream”, Earth Balance, salt, pepper, and 1/2 cup veggie broth. Pour tofu sour cream mixture over the potatoes and mash until smooth.
  • While potatoes boil, drop the coconut oil into a large skillet, add ground TVP. Season the TVP with salt and pepper; cook over medium-high heat until browned. Drain excess oil from pan.
  • Add lentils to the TVP and stir to combine.
  • Add chopped carrot, onion, and garlic to the TVP and lentils. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, until the onions and carrots have begun to soften.
  • In a small skillet, over medium heat melt Earth Balance and whisk in flour until a roux is formed. Whisk in veggie broth, nutritional yeast, and vegan Worcestershire sauce (or hot sauce). Cook the gravy down for 5 minutes or until thickened.
  • Pour gravy over the filling. Stir in peas. (Pop a few frozen peas in your mouth too, they are so sweet and delicious!)
  • Turn broiler to high. Fill a glass casserole dish with filling and cover with potatoes.
  • Sprinkle potatoes with paprika and broil until potatoes are brown (5-10 minutes).
  • Remove dish from oven, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.