Pressure Cooker Braised Kale and Carrots

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Everyone should eat kale. That statement’s irrefutable because it’s uber-healthy, versatile (e.g. chips, salad, stir-fry), and ‘cause I said so. Still resistant? Well, here’s another quick and easy method to cook kale where you’ll end up with a bowl of tender greens and carrots in about 15 minutes. Grab your pressure cooker and let’s get some dark leafy greens in your belly already.

Ingredients (Serves 2):

  • 10 ounces of kale, roughly chopped (including stems)
  • 1 tablespoon of ghee or fat of choice
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into 1/2” slices
  • 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

I love buying organic produce at the farmers’ market but when I need a quick veggie side, I just grab a bag of washed and chopped kale from Trader Joe’s.

Once you cut open the bag, you’re ready to go. There’s no tedious washing, spinning, or removing ribs.

Get your 6-qt or larger pressure cooker and melt the ghee over medium heat.

Toss in the chopped carrots and onions…

…and saute until softened.

Throw in the garlic and stir until fragrant (~30 seconds). Pile in the kale, pour in the chicken broth…

…and sprinkle on salt and pepper to taste. Make sure you still have at least 1/3 of the head space at the top of the pot or it just might go kablooey.

Increase the heat to high, lock the lid in place, and wait until the cooker reaches high pressure. Once high pressure is achieved, decrease the heat to low and maintain high pressure for 8 minutes. At the end of the cooking time, take the pot off the heat. You can let the pressure drop naturally (10-15 minutes) or if you’re impatient like me, activate the quick release valve and the steam will hiss right out.

Remove the lid, give everything a swirl, and taste for seasoning. Splash on some balsamic vinegar and sprinkle on some red pepper flakes if you want some heat.

Ladle it up and dig in.

Paleo Eats: 2/2/11

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Even though my work week has been super busy and I’ve been stressed out about family stuff, I’m not nearly as sluggish, achy, and drained as I used to feel pre-Paleo. Yes, I get tired and a little cranky by the end of the week, but it’s more mental than physical fatigue. In fact, I always get comments from my co-workers that I seem so perky and energetic at the end of the night. Ha! I tell them that I’m just happy to be done with my shift — but secretly I know it’s because I’m eating clean. If you’re on the fence about going Paleo, just effing do it already!

Without further ado, here are my Paleo eats for the night:

I was feeling the munchies at the stroke of midnight, so I snacked on some of the husband’s fabulous homemade beef jerky and a small container of dry-roasted almond slivers and coconut flakes.

A couple hours later, I ate the second half of my broccoli and bacon frittata.

For my second snack of the night, I downed a container of coconut milk topped with strawberries and blueberries.

The final meal I ate at work? A box of leftover sous vide pork chops, cauliflower fried “rice,” and roasted carrots.

Finally, my hellish week of work has come to an end! Don’t get me wrong: I really enjoy my job and I love working the night shift (I’m not kidding), but it feels freaking fantastic to have a week off.

Back at home this morning after I marched Big-O to school, I mindlessly snacked on some macadamia nuts and coconut flakes while surfing the Internet. I crashed for a 4-hour nap before hauling the kids to Big-O’s kung fu class and Trader Joe’s to replenish our staples.

Since I was sleep-deprived, I REALLY didn’t want to make dinner. My plan was to pick up a free-range rotisserie chicken at Calafia Market A-Go-Go and throw together a simple salad. Unfortunately, all the chickens were sold out within minutes. WTF? They start selling the chickens at 5:00 p.m., and every last one is gone by 5:08? I had no alternate plans for dinner. I was thisclose to grabbing some non-Paleo take-out, but instead I drove home determined to make something quick and yummy. 

I spent a few minutes frowning at the contents of my fridge and freezer before I spied a hidden treasure: frozen lamb burgers! I decided to serve them topped with sauteed onions and mushrooms alongside some quick stir-fried lancinato kale and bacon and roasted bell peppers.

I carefully defrosted the burgers in the microwave and then generously seasoned the grass-fed meat cookies with salt and pepper.

Next, I made like Martin Yan and chopped the ingredients for the stir-fried kale and bacon and the toppings for the burger.

While I was washing and stabbing at the vegetables, I threw a bell pepper on the gas range and charred it. 

I chucked the blackened pepper in a bowl and covered it with plastic wrap to let it steam.

Meanwhile, I finished stir-frying the kale and bacon. No joke: This dish is done in less than 15 minutes, start to finish.

Afterwards, I rinsed out the pan and melted some lard over medium high heat. Once the pan was hot, I added the lamb burgers and fried them for about 5 minutes on each side. When the internal temperature reached 145 F, I knew they were good to go.

At the same time, I sauteed the onions and mushrooms (seasoned with salt and pepper) in my 8-inch cast iron skillet with some grass-fed butter. Once these burger toppings were done, I peeled, deseeded, and sliced the charred bell pepper and tossed it with some aged balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Then, I plated everything up and we dug in.

Dinner took just 45 minutes to make, and I went in blind. So when life throws you a curveball and your take-out dreams are dashed, just remember that you can do it, too.

Quick and Simple Stir-Fried Kale and Bacon

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I posted Serious Eats’s recipe for Collard Greens Mineira less than a week ago and I finally had a chance to make them tonight. In the past, I blanched my hearty greens before I sauteed them — a time-consuming, multiple-pan process — so this super-quick, one-pan recipe piqued my interest.

Here’s what I gathered for the recipe:

  • 1 bunch of lancinato kale, leaves removed and thinly chopped
  • 3 slices of bacon, cut in 1/4” strips
  • splash of Banyuls vinegar (the original recipe uses a squeeze of lemon)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Here’s what I did:

I washed and chopped the kale leaves…

…and assembled the rest of my ingredients.

I sauteed the bacon bits in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once they were crisp…

…I added in the kale leaves with a dash of salt and pepper.

I stirred the kale and bacon for a couple minutes and then splashed on some vinegar.

Super quick and yummy! The slightly wilted bitter greens are well-balanced with the bacon and vinegar. From now on, this speedy and simple cooking method will be the only way I make my hearty greens! Another shortcut to deliciousness…

Day 26 of Whole30 Eats

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Yesterday was one of the best days I’ve had in a long time. I wish I could spend every day just hanging with family and friends, but laundry doesn’t do itself and I had to make a bunch of food for the coming week. So today, it was back to the grind.

Before I set about doing any chores, though, I made myself a quick breakfast of leftover shredded roast chicken thigh and green beans.

Then, I got my ass handed to me at my kickboxing class.

Post-workout, I replenished my depleted glycogen stores by eating half a banana, some coconut flakes, macadamia nuts, and a coconut milk and blueberry sundae.

For lunch, we headed to Calafia Cafe, where I ordered a rotisserie chicken salad with radicchio, pears, and walnuts. I asked for no blue cheese and vinaigrette on the side.

Fitbomb ordered 2 poached eggs…

…and house-made lamb sausage, and bacon.

As soon as we got home, I tucked the little rugrat in bed for a nap. As soon as his head hit his pillow, I set to work immediately, prepping meats and veggies for the week ahead.

Our three-year-old loves roasted, unsalted cashews, but we just found out that the nuts we get at Trader Joe’s are roasted with canola oil (or rice bran oil, depending on the package). So this afternoon, we dry-roasted a tray of raw cashews for him by spreading them on a baking tray in a single layer and sticking everything in the oven (350 F for 10-15 minutes).

As soon as they were finished…

…I turned down the oven to 250 F and finished preparing my pork shoulder roast (which I started prepping yesterday) by slicing up two yellow onions and spreading them on the bottom of my dutch oven. Next, I topped the onions with the seasoned pork shoulder and 1/4 cup of chicken broth.

I placed the lid on top and popped it in the oven for four hours.

In the meantime, I seasoned and vacuum-sealed four chicken breasts and four bone-in pork loin chops (purchased this weekend from Full of Life Farm)…

…and submerged them in my preheated SousVide Supreme (set at 140 F).

Next, I roasted four bell peppers directly on my gas range…

…hard boiled a dozen eggs…

…and roasted and peeled some beets in my toaster oven.

At 5:30 p.m.,  the pork roast was fork-tender. I removed the lid from my dutch oven and I broiled the pork for 10 minutes (5 minutes on each side).

After hand-shredding the meat, I tossed in the softened onions from the bottom of the pot.

I can’t wait to eat this dish later this week. (Yes, I’m getting pretty good at avoiding the temptation to indulge in instant gratification.)

For dinner, I seared off the sous vide pork chops

…and served them with garlic cauliflower mashed potatoes straight out of the Cuisinart…

…along with sauteed lancinato kale, baby spinach, beet greens, and shallots.

Here’s my dinner plate:

After today’s marathon cooking session, I have a s-load of ready-to-eat proteins and vegetables, so I have no excuse not to eat well AND Whole30 approved (for four more days!).

Day 18 of Whole30 Eats

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Tonight, the beginning of my work shift wasn’t quite as frenetic as the night before so I was able to snack on a hard-boiled egg at around 1:00 a.m.

I ate my “lunch” at 2:00 a.m. which consisted of leftover beef stew, cauliflower fried “rice,” and nuked green beans. I followed it up with a container of crudités and Aubergine dip.

At 4:00 a.m., I ate my usual snack of macadamia nuts and coconut flakes. I don’t get tired of snacking on these fatty treats!

My last meal at work was a box of leftover sous vide pork chop, roasted kabocha squash, sautéed spinach, and garlic cauliflower mashed “potatoes.”

On my way home from work, I picked up my inaugural box of veggies from Full Belly Farms CSA. Here’s my haul for the week:

And here’s my crazy food stylist:

After playing with the rugrats (re-enacting Scooby Doo and the Mystery Inc. gang is a favorite at our house), I popped my supplements, ate a spoonful of coconut butter, and got some shuteye.

When I woke up at 5:00 p.m., I decided to make another variation of David Lebovitz’s fabulous roast chicken and shallots. This time, I changed it up by adding two sprigs of thyme and some sliced green garlic from my CSA box.

It really only takes about 5-10 minutes of preparation time ‘cause you just mix everything together…

…and turn it skin-side up before you pop it in the oven.

While the chicken thighs roasted in the oven, I washed and blanched two bunches of kale…

…and sautéed the leaves with some shallots and lard.

I also roasted some parsnips and carrots tossed with avocado oil, salt, and pepper in my trusty toaster oven (400 F for 25 minutes).

By the time the chicken was done roasting…

…we were all ready to dig in.

Tonight was the first time I didn’t make something different (i.e. non-Paleo) for the kids. The older rugrat ate everything but didn’t like the parsnips or kale. Our younger rugrat staged a hunger strike. Guess he’ll just have to load up on bacon and eggs in the morning!

Tonight’s Sous Vide Pork Experiment: C-

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Alright, people, my SousVide Supreme did not make me happy tonight.  Not terribly mad, but the pork stew it produced after 24 hours at 160 was dry.  Bleh.  Granted, my meat CSA just labelled the package as “pork stew,” so it was probably filled with a mixture of pork cuts and not just pork butt.  Plus, the pieces of meat weren’t uniform — not even close.  Next time, I’ll choose a lower temp or check it after 6-8 hours.

As soon as I removed the pork from the vacuum pack, I knew I’d have to salvage the meat with some sort of sauce.  Ta-da!  Rao’s marinara sauce to the rescue.  I love this shit.  Although the meat was dry, I decided to quickly sear them off in some ghee (hoping against hope that the Maillard reaction would magically make it overwhelmingly delicious).  Then, I heated up some Rao’s and I tossed the pork pieces in it.

I sliced up two small eggplant crosswise into 1/4” pieces and brushed both sides with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled on salt and pepper.  Cooks Illustrated recommends salting eggplant 30 minutes before broiling but I don’t have that kind of time.  Plus, my broiler is super hot so my eggplant doesn’t get all soggy. I placed the slices on a foil lined baking sheet (my SOP) and popped them on the tiptop rack of the oven set on broil. After a couple minutes, I rotated the tray and flipped the slices as soon as I saw some browning and let them broil for a couple minutes more on the other side.  You’ve got to watch your eggplant closely because it can burn quickly.  When I plated the eggplant, I drizzled on some fancy, aged balsamic vinegar.

Since I think three’s company, I made an additional side.  I had some lacinato kale that I sauteed up with two chopped shallots in extra virgin olive oil.  You should normally boil kale for ~ 7 minutes and drain it well before sauteing it but, again, I was too lazy to wait.  I added some chicken broth and covered the kale for a few minutes to try to make it more tender but impatience won out.  

Here’s the final plate: 

Not a homerun.  Good thing Renteria had one.  Go Giants!