Foodie Friday – Korean ground beef

I bet you thought December was just going to be a bunch of wordless posts, right? Well, as much as I’d like to keep that up (less stress and all), the pure laziness has to stop now. I can’t spend the whole of December this way! So be on the lookout for some more substantial posts in the days ahead. But for now, on to the recipe.

This Korean ground beef one of my favorite grain-free recipes to make and divide up for weekday lunches along with some roasted vegetables (broccoli and carrots are my favorite). It’s simple, doesn’t require any unusual ingredients, and tastes great. What more could you ask for? Brown the meat, add the sauce, simmer a bit, and you’re done. Delicious! Next time I make a batch of this Korean ground beef I’m going to add some diced vegetables (whatever I have on hand, really) and see how that turns out.

INGREDIENTS:
1 lb ground beef (preferably grass-fed)
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1/4 c + 2 Tbsp honey (I used raw honey)
1/4 cup soy sauce (I used gluten free)
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp black pepper

DIRECTIONS:
In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef with the garlic until the meat is no longer pink. At this point you can drain the fat if you want to, but I use such lean ground beef (7% fat) that it doesn’t seem necessary. In a small bowl whisk together the remaining ingredients (honey, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, and pepper). At first the honey will seem like it doesn’t want to combine with the other ingredients, but keep whisking and everything will come together. Pour the sauce into the skillet and simmer over medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes to blend the flavors. The sauce will thicken a bit too. Serve with vegetables (roasted broccoli is my favorite) or over rice (if grains are in your diet). Enjoy!

Based on Six Sister’s Stuff’s Korean Beef and Rice.

Foodie Friday – Apple butter cookie bars

I made these apple butter cookie bars almost a year ago and I can’t believe I haven’t written about them until now! The good thing is that it’s fall again and apple-flavored desserts are completely relevant again! These cookies were one of a few different kinds I sent to my co-workers in DC last December. Here’s what I wrote about them at the time.

“Apparently the apple butter cookies were the clear favorites. One of the girls out there said they were being hoarded by one of the guys and he got irritated when anyone else took one. She was worried he was going to find a sharp object to defend them!”
12/10/13 post

They sound pretty good, huh? I remember having one or two myself and really liking them. The apple butter flavor made them really unique. Calling them “cookies” might be a bit of a stretch, though, because the apple butter makes the texture more like a cake than a cookie. Kinda like when you add pumpkin to a cookie recipe. You get something much softer and chewier than a traditional crispy cookie. That doesn’t undermine their deliciousness, though. If you have a jar of apple butter hiding in your cupboard, make these cookie bars!

INGREDIENTS:
3/4 c (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/4 c granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c apple butter
3 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
Cinnamon sugar

DIRECTIONS:
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 1 1/4 c sugar until light and fluffy. You can use an electric mixer, but I usually just use a wooden spoon and some elbow grease. Add the eggs, vanilla, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and apple butter, and mix until combined. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt, and mix until just combined. Spread the dough into an 11×7″ or 13×9″ pan (I can’t remember which one I used) lined with aluminum foil and coated with cooking spray. Liberally sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the top of the batter. (I usually mix my own cinnamon sugar when I need it, but I have no idea what the best ratio of cinnamon to sugar should be!) Bake at 350 deg F for 25-30 min or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before slicing. Enjoy!

Based on Crazy for Crust’s Apple Butter Snickerdoodles.

Foodie Friday – Roasted potatoes

I’ve shared quite a few really simple recipes on my webpage, but this one rivals them all for ease of execution. It’s almost a no brainer! But believe it or not, before I tried this recipe I had never cooked potatoes in my life. Is that weird? But when I gave up grains I had to find something to replace the carbs in my diet, especially before long runs. Potatoes seemed to fit the bill. Too bad I didn’t know how to cook them! Fortunately this method couldn’t be easier. I even found a recipe that left the skins, which was great because I dreaded the idea of peeling potatoes! Pretty much all you have to do is dice them and roast them. So simple and so delicious!

INGREDIENTS:
1 large white potato
1 large sweet potato
~2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt
Pepper

DIRECTIONS:
Clean the potatoes (I had to buy a vegetable brush for this) and then dice them into approximately 1/2″ to 3/4″ pieces. You don’t even have to peel them! Put the diced potatoes into a large bowl and drizzle with the olive oil. Don’t be stingy with it. My first batch stuck to the pan because I didn’t use enough oil. Stir the potatoes (a spatula seems to work best) to make sure all of the chunks are coated. Then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Stir the potatoes again and add more salt and pepper, if desired. Spread the diced potatoes in a single layer onto a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil and coated with cooking spray (another nonstick line of defense). I like the olive oil spray from Trader Joe’s. Bake the diced potatoes at 400 deg F for 30-40 minutes, stirring once or twice. When they’re done the potatoes will be slightly crispy on the outside. Enjoy!

Based on The Cookin’ Chicks’ Parmesan Roasted Potatoes.

Chili cook-off test recipe #6 – Pineapple chili

I’ve been spending a lot of time browsing Paleo food blogs lately. Despite the fact that I’ve been doing really well cooking meals consisting of meat and vegetables to fit into my new diet, I still need to branch out and give myself more options. Fortunately, it’s easy to make chili both grain free and Paleo, so preparing for the chili cook-off at work next week has been a snap. Not only am I perfecting the recipe I’m going to feed my hungry co-workers on Halloween, but I can eat the practice batches with zero guilt.

To build on the success of my yummy bacon chili, I found a recipe on a Paleo food blog that included both bacon and pineapple. I definitely had to try it. Besides the pineapple, this chili wasn’t all that different from my previous batch, so I was basically just seeing whether the fruit would add anything to the dish. Unfortunately it really didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, the chili wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t remarkably good either. The good news is that I got quite a few healthy lunches out of this pineapple chili, but the bad news is that it didn’t help me improve my bacon chili recipe. I’m planning to make one more test batch this weekend so hopefully it won’t be long before I perfect what I’m making for the chili cook-off next week!

INGREDIENTS:
12 oz bacon
1 lb ground beef (preferably grass-fed)
1 c diced sweet onion (about 1/2 large onion)
1 c diced red bell pepper (about 1 large pepper)
2 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 cans (14 oz each) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1 can (14 oz) diced pineapple (I used tidbits) in juice, drained

DIRECTIONS:
Cut the bacon slices into 1/2 in pieces. In a large nonstick skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat. Once the bacon is crispy, remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside for later. Add the ground beef to the pan with the leftover bacon grease and cook until no pink remains. Add the diced onions and peppers near the end to cook them slightly before they go into the Crockpot. Add the ground beef to the pan and cook until no longer pink. Add the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, oregano, salt, and black pepper to the pan. Stir and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Dump the beef mixture into the bottom of your slow cooker, preferably with a liner to make clean up a breeze. Pour the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and diced pineapple (make sure you drain off most of the juice or the chili will be runny) into the slow cooker as well. Throw the reserved bacon on top and stir gently to combine all of the ingredients. Put the lid on the Crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for about 4 hours. Enjoy!

Note: You can make this on the stovetop as well. Check out the recipe link below for details!

Based on Civilized Caveman’s Spicy Pineapple Chili.

Old recipe – Spiced pumpkin bread

Forgive me for posting more than one recipe in a week, but I haven’t been able to get it together enough to write anything else this in the last few days. I was pretty busy at work last week and I’ve been all over the place this weekend. At the beginning of a weekend I always feel like I have tons of time to do everything that I want to, but then the two days pass so quickly that I hardly know how I spent them. It’s a bit frustrating, really. But that’s a subject for another time.

Getting back to the food, I can’t believe I’ve never posted either of my favorite pumpkin bread recipes before! I must remedy this error as quickly as possible. Since fall technically started last week I decided to bake some pumpkin bread for my co-workers. Of the two most successful recipes I’ve tried, this one is the easiest since it doesn’t require any out of the ordinary ingredients. (The other recipe calls for “cook and serve” vanilla pudding mix which I never have just lying around.) I’ve had a couple of cans of pumpkin sitting in my cupboard since last year, begging to be made into yummy treats, so I didn’t even have to get any at the store before whipping up this delicious seasonal treat! By far the best thing about this pumpkin bread is the mix of spices. I added the pumpkin pie spice myself, and maybe next time I’ll throw in a little cardamom for good measure. You really can’t go wrong. I’m not sure anything tastes more like fall than this pumpkin bread. Plus, the recipe makes 2 or 3 loaves. It’s so good you’ll need that much to go around!

INGREDIENTS:
1 c canola oil
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree
2/3 c water
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
3 c granulated sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
3 1/2 c all-purpose flour

DIRECTIONS:
In a large bowl (or extra large if you have it – this recipe produces a lot of batter!), stir together the canola oil (you can substitute 1/2 c butter and 1/2 c oil if you want), pumpkin, water, eggs, vanilla, and sugar (you can use a mix of white and brown sugars if you want). Add the baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and pumpkin pie spice, and stir until combined. Now it’s time to break out the electric mixer (if you haven’t already). Add 2 c of the flour (I used a combination of all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour) to the bowl and blend until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. Add the other 1 1/2 c of flour and blend until combined. Divide the batter between a couple of greased loaf pans. The original recipe calls for three 7×3″ pans, but since I don’t have any of those I used one 9×5″ pan and one 8×4″ pan instead. Bake at 350 deg F for about 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Keep in mind that if you use pans of different sizes, like I did, the smaller one will be done faster. Enjoy!

Based on All Recipes’s Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread.

Chili cook-off test recipe #5 – Bacon chili

It’s that time again – time to prepare for the annual chili cook-off at work! October is almost here again which makes me extremely happy. I’ve already decorated my apartment for Halloween so that’s taken care of, and now I can turn my attention to fall cooking. Usually I’d be focused on baking, especially cookies and cakes with pumpkin or apple, but this year is going to be different. I’m not saying that I won’t be making any seasonal goodies (I’m actually baking some pumpkin bread for my co-workers tonight), but I won’t be eating too many of them since I’m working on eliminating grains from my diet. I even bought gluten free soy sauce on Saturday (for some amazing cashew chicken that I’ll post another time). Yep, I’m that committed to making a change. So instead of scouring Pinterest for new and exciting pumpkin cookie recipes (although my favorite pumpkin oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are pretty much perfection), I started searching for Paleo-friendly chili recipes to try. When I saw this recipe for bacon chili I was really excited to try it. How could chili + bacon be bad? Anything with bacon in it is bound to be a hit with my co-workers, which will give me an edge during the cook-off. And the bacon chili turned out to be not just good, but great! The bacon and bacon grease made the flavor out of this world. Next time I think I’ll try adding more bacon (because why not?) and some other vegetables (carrots, at least). This is an excellent jumping off point for this year’s chili cook-off!

INGREDIENTS:
6 slices bacon (~1/2 lb)
1 c diced sweet onion (about 1/2 large onion)
1 c diced red bell pepper (about 1 large pepper)
1 lb ground beef (preferably grass-fed)
2 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cans (14 oz each) diced tomatoes

DIRECTIONS:
Cut the bacon slices into 1/2 in pieces. In a large nonstick skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat. Once the bacon is cooked though, remove the bacon from the pan and set aside for later. Add the diced onions and peppers to the pan with the leftover bacon grease and cook until the onions get tender and start to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the ground beef to the pan and cook until no longer pink. Add the chili powder, cumin, coriander, garlic powder, oregano, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Stir and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the reserved bacon and diced tomatoes and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover, and cook for about an hour, stirring occasionally. Remove lid and let the chili simmer for an additional hour or so to thicken up. Enjoy!

Note: Rather than simmering on the stove, I made this in the slow cooker. However, cooking it on low for 8 hours made the vegetables way too mushy. If you’re going to finish this chili in your Crockpot, I’d either not pre-cook the onion and pepper, or just cook it on low for no more than 6 hours. Maybe less. I’ll make a few changes next time and see how it turns out.

Based on Kate’s Healthy Cupboard’s Bacon Chili (Gluten Free).

Foodie Friday – Dark chocolate brownies

I made these absolutely scrumptious dark chocolate brownies to take to a party on July 4th. I needed something quick and easy to make after I got home from the Huntington Beach 5K that morning. When I saw how few ingredients were in this recipe I was skeptical, but the brownies turned out so great that I ate quite a few before leaving for the party. The chocolate flavor is out of this world! My only complaint is that the brownies were slightly too cake-y for me. I would have preferred for them to be a bit denser, but maybe I’ll try this recipe again with just 1 or 2 eggs. Also, I used softened butter rather than completely melt it. That might have made a difference too. But even though I’d like to tweak a couple of things, this recipe is awesome as is! I’ll definitely be revisiting it again soon!

INGREDIENTS:
3/4 c (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/2 c granulated sugar
3 eggs
3/4 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c dark Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder
1 c chocolate chips (optional)

DIRECTIONS:
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. You can use an electric mixer, but I usually just use a wooden spoon. Add the eggs and beat/stir until combined. Add the flour and cocoa powder and stir until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips, if desired (I left them out). Spread the dough into a 9×9″ or 11×7″ pan lined with aluminum foil and coated with cooking spray. This makes for easy removal from the pan when the brownies are cool and less dishes to wash later. Bake at 350 deg F for about 25 min, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Don’t overbake! Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing. Enjoy!

Based on Shugary Sweets’ Perfect Dark Chocolate Brownies.

Foodie Friday – Crockpot hot chocolate

This recipe is long overdue since I made this Crockpot hot chocolate for the annual holiday potluck at work last December, but it’s worth waiting for! I made the hot chocolate as my contribution to the potluck breakfast buffet. It was fantastic for something that I just dumped into the slow cooker and let heat up for a few hours. The only downside was that the chocolate chips didn’t melt completely so it wasn’t as smooth as I was hoping. Either I didn’t let the mixture cook long enough or the chocolate I used wasn’t the best quality (how does Nestle rank on that scale anyway?). An immersion blender might have helped if I’d had one handy. But the hot chocolate was still really rich and everyone at the holiday potluck loved it, even with little bits of unmelted chocolate in their glasses. I’d like to try a slightly different version that uses cocoa powder and sugar instead of chocolate chips to see if that fixes the problem. Maybe for this year’s holiday potluck!

INGREDIENTS:
1.5 c whipping cream
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
6 c milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 c (11-12 oz) chocolate chips (milk chocolate or semi-sweet)

DIRECTIONS:
Get ready for some complicated instructions. Ready? Stir together the whipping cream, condensed milk, milk, vanilla, and chocolate chips in your slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is hot and the chocolate chips are melted. Make sure to stir well before serving. That’s it! Enjoy!

Based on Mrs. Happy Homemaker’s Creamy Crockpot Hot Cocoa.

Foodie Friday – Olive oil chocolate chip cookies

I bet you’re thinking, “She finally ran out of chocolate chip cookie variations so she’s rehashing old ones, hoping we won’t notice.” Well, that’s where you’re wrong! I actually have four chocolate chip cookie experiments on deck, but I want to get some photos before I write about them. This means I have to make each one of them again, with perhaps a slight alteration or two to improve the results. But even if all of that wasn’t true, these olive oil chocolate chip cookies are so good that I know you’ll forgive me for not posting something original this week. I originally wrote about these back in January (hence the festive sprinkles in the above photo), but they are so good that I wanted to share the recipe. If it looks familiar, you’re right. This is my perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe with an equal amount of olive oil (extra light – not extra virgin!) substituted for the butter. Using olive oil makes these cookies healthier, and actually simpler too. No melting the butter, or even waiting for it to soften – the oil is already in liquid form! So if you need to whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookies in a hurry, try this recipe. Believe it or not, you won’t miss the butter!

INGREDIENTS:
1/2 c extra light olive oil (NOT extra virgin)
1 c light brown sugar, packed
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 c all purpose flour
1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c milk chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:
In a large bowl, cream together the olive oil and brown sugar. You can use an electric mixer for this, but I usually just use a wooden spoon and stir vigorously for a couple of minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat/stir until combined. Add the baking powder, salt, and flour and stir until almost combined. Fold in the chocolate chips, which should help incorporate the rest of the flour. Don’t over mix! Press the dough into an 8×8″ pan lined with aluminum foil and coated with cooking spray. This makes of easy removal from the pan when the cookies are cool and less dishes to wash later. Bake at 350 deg F for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing. Enjoy!

Based on Cooking on the Weekends’ Olive Oil Chocolate Chip Cookies and My Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe.

Foodie Friday – Grapeseed oil chocolate chip cookies

This is another revisit of a chocolate chip cookie recipe, but an extremely successful and delicious one. Chocolate chip cookies #43 revisited. With some leftover grapeseed oil from my previous batch I figured I’d try making them again, but this time using my personal favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe as a guide. All I did was replace the stick of butter with 1/2 c of grapeseed oil, and I thought the result was awesome! Somehow the cookies had a wonderful buttery flavor without actually including any butter. I don’t know how that happened, but I’m not asking any questions!

INGREDIENTS:
1/2 c grapeseed oil
1 c light brown sugar, packed
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 c all purpose flour
1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c milk chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:
In a large bowl, cream together the grapeseed oil and brown sugar. You can use an electric mixer for this, but I usually just use a wooden spoon and stir vigorously for a couple of minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat/stir until combined. Add the baking powder, salt, and flour and stir until almost combined. Fold in the chocolate chips, which should help incorporate the rest of the flour. Don’t over mix! Press the dough into an 8×8″ pan lined with aluminum foil and coated with cooking spray. This makes of easy removal from the pan when the cookies are cool and less dishes to wash later. Bake at 350 deg F for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing. Enjoy!

Based on Cookies and Cups’ Grapeseed Oil Chocolate Chip Cookies and My Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe.