Four Season(ing)s

Use any of these recipes to season one pound of ground meat. They are best when mixed into your meat one day ahead, but still very good added right before cooking. Use the seasoned meat for meatballs, patties, frittattas etc. I’ve made a few suggestions about what type of meat to try, but there are no hard, fast rules so feel free to use what you have, what’s on sale, or what you’re in the mood for.

Extra-fresh Thai Herb Mix

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Inspired by this recipe. Try with chicken or pork.

  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • serrano pepper, minced
  • zest of one lime
  • 2T gluten-free fish sauce (such as Thai Kitchen brand)
  • 2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon lemongrass paste
  • 1/2 cup (loosely packed) cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup (loosely packed) mint leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup (loosely packed) basil leaves, coarsely chopped

Lemony Souvlaki Seasoning

IMG_1876

Inspired by this recipe. Try chicken or tuna.

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic, mashed to a paste with 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 small red onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leafed parsley, chopped

Chorizo Seasoning

IMG_1877

Adapted from this recipe. Try with pork.

  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoons paprika
  • 1/2-1 teaspoons crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Breakfast Sausage

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Adapted from this recipe. Try pork or beef.

1 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage leaves
1 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

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Meat-N-Veg Balls

Here’s a basic formula for making meat and vegetable balls (or patties) that lets you mix & match flavors to suit your taste.  For simplicity, each uses one pound of lean ground meat, and one bag of frozen vegetables (or a similar quantity fresh). This can go wrong when there’s too much water in the vegetables, so we’ll and drain veggies and add just a little coconut flour to absorb excess moisture. One batch will make 16-20 meatballs for a quick, complete, snack,  for lunch with cut veggies and dipping sauce, or simmered in sauce for dinner.

Basic outline

  • 1 lb. lean ground meat
  • seasoning of your choice (try italian sausage, chorizo, thai, or greek)
  • 4 servings of a vegetable (1 bag frozen or 1 bunch fresh: spinach, cauliflower, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut flour
  • 1 egg

What to do

  1. Prepare your herbs and spices, mix with ground meat, and let rest in the fridge overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  3. Thaw veggies and break down in a food processor or blender. Process until shredded. Stop well before they turn into a smooth puree.
  4. Toss veggies with a sprinkling of salt and place in colander. Cover with a paper towel and place a bowl full of water on top to press the moisture out. Let drain at least 30 minutes.
  5. After draining, wrap in the paper towel and squeeze out all excess moisture.
  6. In a medium bowl, mix vegetable,  coconut flour, and egg use a fork to thoroughly blend.
  7. Add seasoned ground meat. Mix well.
  8. Make golfball-sized meatballs. I keep a small bowl of olive oil on hand so I can grease my hands occasionally.
  9. Heat a well-oiled, oven-safe pan to medium high and brown meatballs. Since these do not contain breadcrumbs, they may not hold their shape as well as regular meatballs. Be gentle and make sure the pan is well oiled.
  10. Transfer pan to oven, bake for 10 minutes, turning once.

Illustrated notes

Spinach, zucchini, and cauliflower shredded and salted.

Spinach, zucchini, and cauliflower shredded and salted.

A bowl full of water weighs down the vegetables, pressing out the water.

A bowl full of water weighs down the vegetables, pressing out the water.

Really squeeze the water out of your veggies.

Really squeeze the water out of your veggies.

Coconut flower absorbs excess moisture, egg helps to bind the indredients together.

Coconut flower absorbs excess moisture, egg helps to bind the indredients together.

Mix the vegetable, eggs and coconut flower first, then add the seasoned meat.

Mix the vegetable, eggs and coconut flower first, then add the seasoned meat.

I keep a little bowl of olive oil handy so the mixture does not skick to my hands.

I keep a little bowl of olive oil handy so the mixture does not skick to my hands.

Give the meatballs plenty of space while browning. Crowding them will make them slow to crisp up on the outside.

Give the meatballs plenty of space while browning. Crowding them will make them slow to crisp up on the outside.

Let cool completely with some space before packing and refrigerating.

Let cool completely with some space before packing and refrigerating.

Italian Sausage Meat Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. Lean ground turkey
  • 1 28 oz can plain diced tomatoes
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, sliced lengthwise
  • Emeril’s spice mix (hold the wine, and dry parsley is totally ok) make the whole recipe, and use 1/3 for your turkey
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions:

  1. If you have time mix the spices into your turkey one day ahead, return to the fridge.
  2. Brown the turkey on medium-high in a large, deep, skillet until cooked through. Transfer to a bowl or dish.
  3.  In the same skillet add a couple of tablespoons olive oil, tomatoes (not drained), and garlic. Use your spatula to scrape up the brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, mixing them into your sauce.
  4. Bring the tomato mix to a boil stirring frequently then reduce to a simmer.
  5. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes to an hour (less time with make thinner, fresher sauce, more will make richer, thicker sauce) Do your dishes, prep your “noodles” or knock out some housework while you simmer.
  6. Add browned turkey back in, incorporate, well and heat through, 3-5 minutes.
  7. Serve on top of steamed spinach, zucchini noodles, or spaghetti squash.

Carnit-ish

Carnitas with sweet potato chips, avocado, and cabbage slaw

This is a hybrid of a few carnitas recipes that I modified to fit:
(1) what I had in the house, and
(2) the time I had to cook it in.

The surprisingly tasty results were waiting (nearly finished) in the crockpot when we got home from a long day out. Either I was really hungry, or this was the best thing out of my slow-cooker to date.  Eat this right away, then cook down the drippings to make awesome gravy.

Slow-cooked pork:

In a small bowl, blend:

  • 1 heaping tablespoon sage*
  • 1 heaping tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon good salt
use this to coat:
  • 4+ pounds bone-in country-style pork loin ribs
Brown on all sides in a pan over medium-high heat. Place snugly in a large slow-cooker. Deglaze pan with a little white wine or water, scraping up the browned bits, add to slow cooker. Sprinkle over top:
  • 1 large onion, cut into eight pieces
  • 8 cloves garlic
Set slow cooker to low for 6-7 hours. Go outside and play. Come home 6 or so hours later, the meat should be falling apart by now.  Preheat oven to 450F. Use tongs to remove solids to a large oven-safe skillet, break up and scatter over the surface of the pan. In the slow cooker add to the remaining liquid:
  • 1 cup whole milk** NUTRITION CHALLENGE EDIT: 3/4 can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup orange juice** NUTRITION CHALLENGE EDIT: Juice of 1 orange
Stir. Pour liquid over meat. Place in oven for 15-20 minutes, turning once, until the liquid is reduced somewhat and tips of meat are browned.  Eat up!
*Carnitas traditionally call for oregano, but I was out.
**Yeah, yeah, not orthodox paleo, but really, you could do worse. And 4+ pounds of pork cancels this out completely
Gravy
After dinner, discard bones, pack up any remaining meat an onions, and place skillet with juices over low heat, add:
  • one egg yolk*
Whisk to incorporate well. Simmer, whisking often, and reduce juices by half.   Add another good splash of whole milk and simmer five to ten minutes more.
*An egg yolk seems to work well as an alternative to flour or cornstarch for thickening gravies.
Enjoyed after a great day at the Center for Land Use Interpretation on the Wendover Air Force Base. Don’t miss this place if you ever find yourself on the border between Utah and Nevada.

10 Minute Turkey Tomato Spinach Meal

A better version of this would start with some sauteed onion and garlic, finish with better seasoning and so on and so forth.  This, however is perfect just the way it is when I’m hungry and tired and want to eat, like, right now:

In a skillet on high, heat:
Olive oil
and brown
1 lb Ground Turkey with
1 Tablespoon Sage
1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
until cooked through, and remove from pan.

Without cleaning pan, add
1 14 oz can Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes
1 big spoonful (about 1/3 cup) tomato paste
cook, stirring occasionally until thickened just slightly

Meanwhile, fill your dinner bowl with
Fresh Spinach
Pile it as high as you can, since it will cook way down and microwave: 30 seconds for baby spinach, 45 seconds for regular spinach

Once tomato sauce is cooked, stir turkey back in and heat through.  Remove from head and add
1/3 can coconut milk

Pour a portion of the meat sauce over your spinach and chow down.  Try the leftovers over roasted spaghetti squash.

How I make lunch

This is not really a recipe, but I find myself telling a lot of folks about my lunch-building process lately, so I thought it might be useful.  This is how I make my work lunches. They’re no masterpiece, and I know some people are not entirely cool with eating 5-day-old chicken, but it works for me.

Every Sunday I get home from grocery shopping, and prepare…


(1) Enough chicken breast of a week of lunch, seasoned with whatever I’m in the mood for. (Italian, greek, tex-mex…)

(2) Week’s worth of salad.  I avoid delicate greens and veggies that get mushy, so usually use: parsley, napa cabbage, spinach, parsley, watercress, bell peppers, carrots, celery, seedless cucumber and avoid: tomatoes, regular cukes, run-of the mill lettuce, baby spinach.

(3) A bottle of home made salad dressing, again, the recipe varies at whim.

Then, in 5 1-gallon zip-lock bags, I layer up…

(1) The chicken, cooled and chopped up.  This goes at the bottom so it doesn’t mess up your veggies.

(2) The salad stuff.

(3) A handful of nuts – almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, whatever.  Sure, these are a *little* soggy by friday, but I’m lazy enough not to care.  Sometimes I’ll do half an avocado sliced in Monday and Tuesday’s lunch instead of nuts, but they won’t make it till Friday.

I leave my salad dressing and a big bowl at work, and grab a bag every morning on the way out the door.  At lunch time, I dress my salad in the bag, shake it up, dump it in my bowl, and make my co-workers jealous.