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Forky Friday: 9/19/14

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Forky Friday: 9/19/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

I turn 40 tomorrow, so you have to be nice to me. For starters, I think you should crack me a joke. Big-O will go first:

Forky Friday: 9/19/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Now, it’s your turn: leave me a joke in the comments below! Make me giggle for my birthday, and I just might send you a Mini-Michelle!

Ready for my favorite links from around the Interwebs?

No Joke

Henry took the day off work, and as I write this, he’s making the Chocolate Layer Cake from the Zenbelly Cookbook (a.k.a. my pal Simone’s No Joke Dark Chocolate Cake) for my birthday. (It’s kind of my favorite—I even strong-armed Simone into serving it at our cookbook launch party, remember?) Let’s see how close Henry gets to replicating this:

Forky Friday: 9/19/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Right now, he’s muttering about how he doesn’t have the right pans, so my fingers are crossed.

[Update: He used Simone’s recipe to make cupcakes! And they’re perfect!]

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And by the way, if you’re wondering if Simone’s cookbook kicks butt, the answer is TOTALLY. I’ll be sharing her recipe for Pan-Roasted Chicken with Bacon and Apples with you soon, but here’s a peek at how it turned out:

Forky Friday: 9/19/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Our family loved it so much that I’ve already made this dish twice this week.

Cheftastic Stamps

If I still used good old fashioned snail mail, I’d be all over the U.S. Postal Service’s new set of stamps featuring five celebrity chefs: Julia Child, James Beard, Joyce Chen, Edna Lewis and Felipe Rojas-Lombardi.

Sure, these portraits are a smidge creepy, but I still dig ’em.

Forky Friday: 9/19/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Germs Rule

Once upon a time, my hubby had a crazy-unstoppable Coke Zero habit. Like many others, he guzzled artificially-flavored zero-calorie beverages thinking that they were better than their high fructose corn syrup-sweetened brethren. Those chemicals, additives, and lab-concocted sweeteners can’t possibly be harmful as long as the drink is calorie-free, right?

Forky Friday: 9/19/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

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Paleo By Season’s Atkilt (Spiced Ethiopian Vegetable Stew)

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Paleo By Season’s Atkilt (Spiced Ethiopian Vegetable Stew)

Autumn may trigger pumpkin spice cravings in most folks, but for me? Not so much. I yearn instead for hearty Ethiopian fare. It’s not just because I’m contrary by nature, like my mom. (I know you’re shaking your head, mom, but it’s true.) As longtime readers know from my Doro Wat recipe post, I fell in love with Ethiopian cuisine during my first semester in college. Naturally, the return of crisp, fall weather always stirs up memories of chowing on comforting stews at my favorite Ethiopian joints in Berkeley.

In other words, I’m feeling old and wistful about my glory days.

Paleo By Season’s Atkilt (Spiced Ethiopian Vegetable Stew)

Thankfully, to scratch that nostalgic itch, I can turn to my review copy of Chef Peter Servold’s Paleo By Season. For those of you who don’t know Pete, he’s the classically trained chef behind Pete’s Paleo, a fantastic Paleo meal service that ships all over the U.S. Like all the best chefs, Peter knows that the quality of a dish hinges on the use of fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients. And in his beautiful cookbook, Pete groups his recipes by season (hence the title!) so that readers can cook the best of the available bounty.

Paleo By Season’s Atkilt (Spiced Ethiopian Vegetable Stew)

Flipping through the “Fall” section of Pete’s cookbook, I yelped. I’d discovered not one, but three Ethiopian recipes. My favorite of this trio happens to be the simplest: Atkilt, a humble spiced root vegetable stew. I’d tinkered with my own recipe in the past, but I never quite nailed the flavor combination—and my attempts sometimes came out overly mushy, too.

Thankfully, early in his career, Pete worked at an Ethiopian restaurant—and not surprisingly, his version of Atkilt is spot-on. I was instantly transported back to my days as a wide-eyed freshman at Cal. All that was missing was my dorky tie-dyed leggings, jangly Telegraph Avenue jewelry, and cockroach-kickin’ Doc Martens boots. 

Ready to check out Pete’s recipe?

Paleo By Season’s Atkilt (Spiced Ethiopian Vegetable Stew)

Here’s what to gather to serve 4-6 people as a side dish:

  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 small green cabbage (1 pound), cored and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 4 medium carrots (1 pound), cut into 1-inch rounds
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1¾ pounds white potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes (you can substitute cauliflower florets if you don’t eat potatoes—but hey, did you hear that potatoes are now Whole30-approved?)
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

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Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Bonus: Snacks!)

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Just when you thought Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 was over, I’ve got one more tasty installment to pull you back in! And what better way to keep you motivated to pack your own meals than to show you some of my favorite sweet and savory snacks packed in super cute LunchBots containers?

Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Bonus: Snacks!) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Disclaimer: Everyone knows that fruits and vegetables are the best items to round out your packed lunches. No one’ll argue about that point—not the  omnivores, vegans, or Paleo Patrol. But let’s get real: sometimes, you just crave something crunchy, salty, and/or sweet. I totally get it. 

Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Bonus: Snacks!) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Big-O, my 9 year-old, is a big fan of crispy and salty foods. Similar to my hubby, he’s never met a chip-like food he didn’t like. Thankfully, that can mean roasted seaweed snacks (I like SeaSnax and GimMe brands)…

Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Bonus: Snacks!) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…homemade vegetable chips (like my homemade kale or mushroom chips)…

Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Bonus: Snacks!) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

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Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 7)

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It’s Labor Day, and that means that most kiddos (in the U.S., anyway) will be back in school for sure this week. WAHOO! Thank goodness for all those selfless and patient individuals awesome enough to be teachers. (Hi, Ms. Lin—I know you’re reading this!) 

Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 7 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

As you pack away your summertime apparel (goodbye, linen pants and white shoes!), let me share with you my last installment of Paleo Lunchboxes 2014. This lovely packed LunchBots bento is crammed with some of our family’s favorite finger foods: Lazy Devils (recipe in my cookbook and app) and Simple Crab Salad-stuffed tomatoes!

Again, don’t feel compelled to replicate this lunchbox exactly—the fun is in modifying any and all components to fit your own tastes. (In other words: yes, I know you’re a special snowflake.)

For example, the Lazy Devils are also super-customizable. Feel free to top your halved Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs with whatever you have on hand. In Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans, I offer tons of ideas on how to spice up your hard cooked eggs. See?

Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 7 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

And if you happen to be allergic to shellfish, please don’t eat the crab salad stuffed tomatoes with a side of EpiPen. Instead, mix up a batch of Spicy Salmon Salad or Madras Chicken salad (the recipe for the latter’s available in my cookbook and iPad app), and spoon them into the edible tomato cups.

Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 7 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Pro tip: use smaller tomatoes than I did. I used plus-size heirloom tomatoes to pretty ’em up for photos, but the only way the lid’s going to fit is by smashing the stuffing (literally!) out of them.

Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 7 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Ready to check out how to assemble this portable feast?

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Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 6)

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I bet the last thing you wanna do on this glorious Friday (before a three-day weekend, no less!) is think about packing a lunch, but I’m hoping I can nudge you in the right direction with the sixth installment of Paleo Lunchboxes 2014. Who can resist a beautiful and satisfying salad tucked into a lovely LunchBots container? Not me!

Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 6 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Besides, even if your wee ones gag at the thought of tucking into a salad, there’s nothing that says these boxes have to be for kids. Last time I checked, adults need lunches, too.

Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 6 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

If you’ve got a peach, some thinly sliced prosciutto…

Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 6 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…fresh salad greens…

Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 6 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…and a handful of pistachios…

Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 6 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…you’re in business: make my Watercress with Seared Prosciutto + Peaches! You’ll love the balance of savory and sweet—and the fact that prepping this salad takes almost no time at all.

Remember: If peaches aren’t your cup of tea, you can always use apples, nectarines, or pears instead. Not a fan of watercress? No problem—substitute your favorite leafy greens. Just promise me you’ll make your lunch, okay?

Here are a few tips to ensure that your salad tastes great when you crack open your LunchBots at mealtime:

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Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 5)

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Out of packed lunch ideas? Fear not, Nomsters: I’ll save the day with Part 5 of Paleo Lunchboxes 2014, my collaboration with the super-stainless-steel-container-makers at LunchBots!

Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 5 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Today’s packed lunch shines the spotlight on one of my favorite finger foods: Egg Foo Young patties! These portable protein- and veggie-packed savory pancakes are totally customizable with whatever you have sitting in your fridge. (Except for maybe that mushy pile of melting vegetables that you forgot about in the back of your crisper.)

My original recipe for Egg Foo Young is up on this blog, but readers of my cookbook know that I’ve since published a streamlined version in Nom Nom Paleo: Food For Humans. (If you don’t have my cookbook—shame, shame! Lucky for you, I don’t hold a grudge. You can find adaptations of my Egg Foo Young recipe here and here.)

Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 5 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

I’m not pulling your leg when I say that Egg Foo Young’s a crowd pleaser and so dang easy to make. Seriously: I even made a batch for Chef Pete Evans when we cooked together back in March—on camera!—because I knew there was no chance I’d goof.

For today’s lunch, I’ve paired these tasty patties with a warm thermal LunchBots container filled with Garbage Soup because they’re a match made in lunch heaven.

Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 5 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Ready to make this lunch? Then read up on my pro tips to ensure perfect Egg Foo Young patties!

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Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 4)

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Can a new week be upon us already? Well, turn that frown upside down: Part 4 of my Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 collaboration with LunchBots will chase away your Monday blahs and beat them into submission!

Paleo Lunchboxes (Part 4 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

After all, Cracklin’ Chicken is the real food answer to all your woes. I know it makes me feel better whenever I’m in a funk.

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Don’t tell me you haven’t made my Cracklin’ Chicken yet. You really have no excuse—it’s ridiculously easy and totally tasty. Peep the recipe over here!

Cracklin’ Chicken tastes best right out of a cast iron skillet, but like all fried chicken, it tastes fantastic cold. Believe me: I routinely crisp up extra thighs so that I can have extra to nibble on straight from the fridge.

Paleo Lunchboxes (Part 4 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Not sure if your kids will eat cold chicken? Offer them a piece and see how they like it. It’ll be good news for you either way ’cause if they turn their noses up at it, more for you!

Paleo Lunchboxes (Part 4 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

But believe it or not, no one can live on Cracklin’ Chicken alone, so I’m stuffing this packed lunch with tons of veggies and a sweet treat as well.

Paleo Lunchboxes (Part 4 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

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Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 3)

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Ready or not, here comes Part Three of Paleo Lunchboxes 2014!

Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 3 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

I know it’s Friday, and the last thing you want to think about is preparing food and packing a pretty LunchBots for yourself and/or your kiddos. I feel your pain. That’s why today’s box is filled with a variety of leftovers that you can throw together in a flash.

Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 3 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Yes, I said LEFTOVERS. And no, it’s not a dirty word.

Before I starting eating Paleo, I never contemplated making extra food to save for later. But now that I cook virtually all of our meals, I always make sure to have leftovers. Eating out (while staying Paleo) can be an expensive hassle, so for me, cooking is a necessity. It’s kinda like flossing: you just have to buck up and do it. That’s why having ready-to-eat proteins and veggies in the fridge is a lifesaver.

Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 3 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Besides, having a bunch of ready-to-eat veggies on hand that we can nosh on at any time means we’re much less likely to reach for something unhealthy. Am I right, or am I right? (Answer: I’m right.)

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Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 2)

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Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 2 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Hello again! As promised, here’s the second installment of Paleo Lunchboxes 2014, my collaboration with our pals at LunchBots—the gleaming stainless steel food containers you see in these posts. Our mission is to demonstrate that packed lunches can be simple, nourishing, and magically delicious for kids and adults alike. 

Like the first box in this year’s series, today’s lunch can be assembled the night before, so all you’ll need to worry about in the morning is dragging yourself out of bed and eating breakfast. And wiping the sleep from your eyes.

Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 2 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Spicy Tuna Cakes are a big hit with our whole family…almost. (Big-O digs these portable veggie-and-protein cakes, but Lil-O doesn’t like spicy foods, so he’s less of a fan. Man, six-year-olds have no taste.)

Bonus: these tuna cakes taste great cold, too.

Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 2 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

You can whip up a dozen (or even double the recipe!) in advance, and pack the next day’s lunchbox(es) before you go to bed. Your reward for planning ahead? Getting to hit the snooze button a couple of extra times in the morning.

My recipe for Spicy Tuna Cakes has been around for a while now; it was first introduced in my iPad app, and since then, it’s popped up in my cookbook and on my blog). So if you haven’t tried ’em yet, what are you waiting for?

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Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 1)

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With a new school year just around the bend, it’s time for the 2014 edition of Paleo Lunchboxes—my annual collaboration with our friends at LunchBots. And this time around, I’m presenting 7—that’s right, SEVEN—new ideas to jumpstart your creative engines.

Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 1 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

These lunchbox ideas are great for your school-age spawn, but trust me: the meals in this series aren’t just kid stuff. In fact, this first one’s a fast and satisfying lunch you can eat with your bare hands. Plus: we’re talking HOT DOGS.

“But wait a minute! How are hot dogs even Paleo?”

Fine. They’re not technically “Paleo™,” but I’ve got nothing against convenience foods that are made from wholesome, healthy ingredients. Most hot dogs on the market are filled with all sorts of chemical additives and cast-off CAFO animal parts—we should all avoid these freaky franken-weenies like the plague. There are, however, other options.

I’m lucky to have a brother-in-law who hand-makes his own hot dogs out of grass fed beef short ribs

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…but most of the time, I just look for commercially-available wieners made with sustainably-raised grass fed beef and a few simple seasonings and spices. The two brands I buy for my family are Applegate and Fork in the Road (I don’t sweat the small amount of sugar in the latter), and you can find them in most grocery stores. (For additional recommendations for high-quality grass fed hot dogs, check out this link.)

Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 1 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Hot dogs have always been a kid-friendly favorite, but I recently hopped onto the bandwagon in a big way after discovering Flame to Fork’s game-changing idea to use the wiener as the “bun” (a.k.a. #hotdogasthebun) on Instagram.

Since then, I’ve been playing around with different fillings every time I make hot dogs for the kids. (The best thing about using the wiener as the “shell”? Sneaking extra veggies into your kiddos’ bellies!) Unlike hot dogs on bread buns, you can assemble ’em the night before; they won’t get soggy, and they taste great cold. Or maybe I’m just a weirdo for loving cold hot dogs. 

Personally, I like hot dogs piled high with sautéed peppers and onions or kraut and pickles, so for this lunchbox, I made both. Properly cooked onions take a while to sauté, so I always start them in the skillet over medium heat with my favorite cooking fat before I do anything else.

Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 1 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

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