Today’s Lunchbox

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School’s out for the summer, but the lunchbox-packing continues. To keep the boys’ tummies full while they run around at camp, Henry and I still find ourselves scrambling in the morning to make sure they have plenty of fuel to get them through the middle of the day.

Sometimes, the protein consists of scrambled eggs, frittata slices, or rolled-up deli meat, but today, it’s sausage with marinara sauce.

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We rounded out the Double-O’s lunches with a handful of cherries, strawberries, and carrots. (In case you’re wondering, the stainless steel food containers are by LunchBots, and the creamy stuff is homemade Paleo Ranch Dressing. The recipe’s in my forthcoming cookbook.)

Looking for more ideas about what to pack for lunch? Check out my series of posts about A Week of Paleo School Lunches!

What are you having for lunch today?

Paleo Eats: 2/6/13

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Lil-O was felled with a “hot” throat this morning, so he got to play hooky from preschool. While I made breakfast, my little one curled up on the couch with his beloved stuffed cat to watch cartoons.

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Nursing a sick kiddo meant I had to skip my class at CrossFit Palo Alto. I’ve totally become an intermittent CrossFitter these days, and when I joke with my gym buddies that I’ll see them next month, I’m only kidding on the square. Sad.

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Paleo Eats: 2/5/13

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After a whirlwind trip to NYC last weekend, it was especially nice to wake up in my own bed. I heard the Double-Os stampede down the hallway precisely at 7 in the morning, but I had no trouble popping up; it was, after all, already 10 a.m. on the East Coast. Unfortunately, Henry wasn’t feeling as chipper: he woke up with a sore throat and fever.

Uh, oh.

As my hubby tried to grab a few more winks before dragging himself off to work (to infect his entire office, I’m sure), I made breakfast for the boys: scrambled eggs, sliced apple, and raw milk.

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After dropping Big-O off at school, I filled my pressure cooker with knuckle bones, chicken feet, beef stew meat, and veggies to make a meaty bone broth for my ailing husband.

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Paleo Eats: 12/23/12

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The San Francisco Bay Area was hit by two separate rainstorms this weekend, so we elected to hunker down indoors to stay cozy and dry.

For breakfast, I made scrambled eggs…

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….bacon…

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….and lobbed everyone a satsuma. I’m not kidding about launching tangerines at everyone’s heads — I’m training my kids to have ninja-like reflexes. Soon, they’ll be deflecting throwing stars.

After doing the dishes, I puttered around the kitchen, bottling up homemade kombucha, while the Double-Os performed their favorite Weird Al songs in the living room. After a few weeks of experimentation, we’ve landed on our favorite flavors: apple (Big-O), cherry (me), and Fuyu persimmon (Henry). When the kombucha in the continuous brewer achieves the perfect level of tanginess, I bottle the ‘booch with a few slices of fresh or frozen fruit.

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Then, I let the bottles condition in our cooler for two days before I stick them in the fridge. I’m still new to home brewing and flavoring, so I constantly find myself referring to my two favorite online resources: Kombucha Kamp and Food Renegade. My next kombucha-related project: Setting up a SCOBY hotel so I can share the yeasty, bacterial love with others.

Lunch was a simple affair: Paleo coleslaw and slider burgers. 

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After lunch, I grabbed a bag of apples from the fridge to make a batch of crunchy, cinnamon-dusted apple chips. I love my mother-in-law’s recipe for these treats — I’m kind of addicted to them — and I’ve been dying to make my own ever since my oven got fixed.

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Mission accomplished!

Because of the dreary weather, I was determined to make a hearty, comforting dinner — but not one that would take all afternoon. As a result, I broke out my pressure cookers (yes, plural) to make short ribs and mashed fauxtatoes. For an additional vegetable side dish, I roasted a tray of broccoli in the oven.

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Yep, it totally hit the spot — though using two pressure cookers mean more pots to clean.

As Christmas approaches, I’m feeling bummed out. Not because I have a ton of last-minute preparations — that’s a given — but because my vacation ends on the 26th. The day after Christmas also happens to be Lil-O’s birthday, and even though I’m not heading off to my shift at the hospital until after he goes to bed, it still bites. Plus, I’m now scheduled to work the nightshift for the next seven Christmases, as well as Lil-O’s next seven birthdays. Assuming I stay employed, I won’t have those days off again until both of my little boys are teenagers. I guess I’ll just have to make sure I savor every minute of family time before I start work on Wednesday night.

Happy holidays, everyone!

Paleo Eats: 12/11/12

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I was felled by Big-O’s virus late yesterday afternoon. Stricken with aches, chills, and a high fever, I buried myself underneath blankets on the couch ‘til my hubby got home from work. Before Henry even had a chance to doff his jacket, I made sure he heard me whining about how I wished somebody could make me a pot of pressure cooker bone broth. Yeah, my passive-aggressiveness sickens me, too.

But don’t feel too sorry for the guy. I recently filled our freezer with ready-to-go bags of soup bones, so the task of making bone broth was pretty simple. Each gallon-sized bag is filled with a motley assortment of bones and chicken feet that can be dumped straight into my 6-quart pressure cooker along with an onion, carrots, water, fish sauce, and a splash of apple cider vinegar. Besides, Henry knows where to find the recipe.

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As soon as the soup was ready, we all swigged giant mugs of it. I nibbled on a Thai omelet that my hubby made for me, and then stumbled off to bed while the boys had dinner.

I conked out for almost 12 hours, and when I woke up, my fever had dissapated and most of my aches were gone. Hallelujah!

Big-O was celebrating his birthday at school today, so I pulled on my apron to bake up some grain-free chocolate chip cookies for his class.

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While the cookies were baking and cooling, I ate a scrambled egg for breakfast and downed another mug of bone broth. Okay, fine: I also ate a cookie. Or three.

But by lunchtime, I was getting tired and achy again. Cooking was the last thing I wanted to do. Luckily, with a well-stocked pantry and freezer, I was able to pull a quick lunch together in about five minutes: a can of ventresca and mixed frozen vegetables that I reheated and tossed with grass fed butter and Magic Mushroom Powder.

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Vital Choice’s Ventresca (albacore tuna belly cooked in organic extra virgin olive oil) is the BEST tasting canned tuna I’ve ever eaten. I just pop off the lid and dig in.

I knew I’d be even achier by dinnertime, so I knew I’d better start my dinner prep early. I quickly seasoned a pork sirloin roast and a pork chop with Tabil and salt, and dunked ‘em in the SousVide Supreme (following my usual guidelines for these cuts: 138°F for 6 to 8 hours).

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I was right. By the time the sun set, my eyeballs were burning and sore, and my neck was stiffening up again. Argh. I knew it was a matter of time before my body would quit on me, so I quickly roasted some broccoli in the oven…

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…sautéed shiitake mushrooms with shallots and bone broth…

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…and seared off the sirloin roast in melted ghee.

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Here’s my dinner plate:

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Time to hit the sack.

What do you guys eat when you’re feeling under the weather? (I’m partial to bone broth, soft scrambled eggs, and chocolate — but not necessarily in that order.)

Paleo Eats: 12/7/12

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I was positively giddy about the start of my three week vacation…until it occurred to me that I’ll be a full-time, stay-at-home mom for the rest of the month. I love hanging with my boys, but I’m certainly busier when I’m on mommy duty than when I’m dealing drugs in the dead of night. On the other hand, I’m thankful that for the next three weeks, I’ll be able to go to bed at night. Simple pleasures, right?

This morning, I whipped up breakfast for the boys (scrambled eggs, mini chicken apple sausages, sliced apple, and raw whole milk) and packed their school lunches before my hubby shuttled them off to school. Once the house was empty, it was breakfast time for me: I pan-fried a few leftover slices of smoky 4505 Meats ham steak and cooked up a package of mixed frozen veggies for my own breakfast.

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I downed it all in a flash — chewing is so overrated — and with some time to kill, I decided to make some mocha popsicles with freshly brewed espresso (using the awesome Bialetti Moka Express that our friend Shiraaz got for us)…

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…coconut milk, cocoa powder, and some other secret stuff.

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Yes, I’m aware that it’s December, but just ‘cause it’s cold outside doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a frozen treat, people. (Besides, we live in California. It’s not exactly arctic here.)

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Once the popsicles were in the freezer, I zoomed over to CrossFit Palo Alto and spent an hour practicing push presses, deadlifts, and double unders with the gals in the women’s class. One thing that the workout made clear: I can’t afford to stop working on my double unders. Back when I was regularly practicing in my garage, I was starting to string ‘em together, but now? Not so much.

Afterwards, I stopped by my new favorite local grocery store, Miki’s Farm Fresh Market, to pick up goodies for Big-O’s birthday party. (My boy was ripped out of my uterus eight years ago! Hooray!) If you live on the San Francisco Peninsula or South Bay, you need to check out this store. The grass fed/organic/pastured meat and produce selection is unparalleled on this side of the Bay — and the butcher sells grass fed beef liver. Chicken feet, too. I love this place.

When I came home, I spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon playing around with the beta version of the new update for the Nom Nom Paleo app

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Henry and I have been working with our developer on some upgrades: We tweaked the look, added over a dozen recipes, and implemented a pretty major change that we think will make most folks very happy. (All these features and new recipes will be free for everyone who’s already downloaded the app.) Once testing’s done, we’ll submit it to Apple for approval. Fingers crossed!

For lunch, I took a tiny break from my QA duties to make a simple frittata with stir fried baby kale.

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Stacy & Matt generously gifted us with a sampler of artisanal Olio olive oils and flavored balsamic vinegars, and I’ve been drizzling ‘em on EVERYTHING. Even my eggy lunch entrée didn’t escape a fruity ribbon of olive oil.

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My favorite vinegar flavor? The chocolate balsamic. Big surprise, huh? 

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At 2 o’clock, I picked up the kiddos from school and we spent the rest of the afternoon struggling to set up a huge tent in the living room for Big-O’s slumber party. Having kids sleep in a tent in the house is very Party of Five. Or maybe The Sixth Sense, only with less barfing and screaming.

By 5 o’clock, the tent was still not set up, and I had no clue what to make for dinner. I would’ve totally spazzed out if it weren’t for two things: (1) my hubby got home from work and took over the tent duties, and (2) I remembered that I have PaleoChef marinades in the pantry. (By the way, this ain’t some sort of paid product placement for PaleoChef — I purchased a sampler pack last month to try them out on desperation dinner nights like tonight.)

We have a bunch of different marinades, and after surveying the boys, we popped open the bottle of Tomato Balsamic to flavor a bunch of salted chicken legs.

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I let the legs marinate for about an hour — just enough time to wash up the boys and give myself a hose down.

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Our wall oven is finally back in working order (thank you, Aloha Appliance Repair!), so I put it through it’s paces by roasting both the chicken…

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…and broccoli at the same time using the convection mode.

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When the broccoli finished roasting in the oven, I removed the tray from the oven and tossed the florets with some leftover roasted butternut squash and balsamic vinegar.

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The chicken was ready ten minutes later — and not a moment too soon, ‘cause we were all salivating from the tempting aromas wafting from the oven.

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Here’s my dinner plate:

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What’s the verdict on the marinade? Thumbs up from the whole family. Even picky Lil-O.

On another note, I just joined Google+. I’m kind of hesitant to add yet another social media channel to my plate. (I’m barely keeping up with Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest as it is.) But the thing is, I really dig what Google+ has to offer. What do you think? Am I wasting my time with Google+? And why aren’t my small children offering to be my social media interns?

Paleo Eats: 10/31/12

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Happy Halloween and a belated happy birthday to my kickass mommy!

Our neighborhood takes Halloween very seriously. With herds of costumed kids traipsing from house to house, we all do our part to creep ‘em out with spooky porch decorations.

After helping Henry strew styrofoam skulls and fake cobwebs all over the front of our house this weekend, I barely had time to get ready for another string of hospital nightshifts. So this morning, I made myself useful in the kitchen as soon as I hopped out of bed.

I threw some random frozen animal parts in the defrost bowl in the fridge, made a batch of pressure cooker bone broth, and blitzed a double batch of Magic Mushroom Powder. (The Magic Mushroom Powder recipe’s available on my iPad app. And if you don’t have an iPad, ask a buddy with the app to email it to you. All the recipes in my app are emailable at the touch of a button!).

I’ve found the simplest way to mix the seasoning salt is to pour everything into a jar through a parchment paper funnel and shake it like a Polaroid picture. (Yeah, my pop cultural references date back to my pre-kid days. Sad.)

While I was waiting for the bone broth to finish cooking, I breakfasted on eggs…

…and packed the boys’ lunches. Both of the kids had Halloween parades at their schools, and they were already bouncing off the walls in excitement.

As we were hustling to get out of the house, Lil-O put on a costume (like Lady Gaga, he has more than just one) and horse-danced around the house, Gangnam Style.

We were hoping he’d wear his Psy outfit to preschool today, but at the last minute, he decided that his Batman suit would be more appropriate. (His reasoning: “Batman has a cape, but Psy doesn’t.”) 

While Henry escorted our space alien and superhero to school, I headed off to CrossFit Palo Alto for a special Halloween-themed Tabata workout.

After a fun but exhausting hour, I had to speed over to volunteer at Big-O’s classroom party, and for a moment, I considered just going as a sweaty mom. But then I spied Big-O’s old hamburger costume, and slipped it on. Yep — for Halloween, I’m the pink slime in the middle of a fast food burger.

My favorite part of Halloween? Watching kids werk it at the school parade.

Once I was back home, I made a quick and satisfying lunch of fried chicken gizzards and baby kale. The gizzards were already braised and stored in duck fat, so I just fished them out and seared them in a hot skillet to brown each side.

After I removed the gizzards from the pan, I tossed in a bag of baby kale and wilted them in the remaining duck fat.

Crispy braised gizzards are definitely my favorite nasty bits.

 

Next time, I’m gonna sous vide or pressure cook them so I can use less duck fat — that stuff ain’t cheap.

Before I caught a few winks in the late afternoon to prepare for my all-night zombie drug dealing shift, Big-O and I pored over two new books I ordered via Amazon. These two dense references are perfect for culinary nerds like us: Modernist Cuisine At Home

…and Cook’s Illustrated new tome, The Science of Good Cooking.

I can’t wait to sink my teeth into these books, but in the meantime, I’m gonna count on my tiny sous chef to give me the Cliffs Notes version.

I couldn’t pry ‘em out of his hands anyway.

When I woke up in the evening, the kids were itching to collect bags of candy — and not because they planned on eating their loot. We had struck a deal with the boys: We’ll give you cold, hard CASH in exchange for your sugar bombs. Our kids did the math: Mo’ money, mo’ Legos. And Legos > candy. They were in.

Sidney and Jory came over with Captain America to trick or treat with us, and before heading out for the night, we dined on take out from Sancho’s Taqueria. I ate a house salad with added carne asada, grilled shrimp, and guacamole.

Once our bellies were full, the boys dashed out into the neighborhood to collect their loot.

After a long night of demanding candy from strangers, the boys exchanged their bags for TEN DOLLARS from Henry’s wallet. 

"But I want TEN HUNDRED MILLION dollars," Lil-O protested. You and me both, kiddo.

Next holiday: Thanksgiving. I am so not ready.

But speaking of Thanksgiving, you can get free shipping on all Spreadshirt T’s TODAY ONLY (11/1/12) with the coupon code: GIVETHANKSSHIP

C’mon. You know you want to sport my mug on your chest.

Paleo Eats: 10/29/12

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So Sandy came along and smashed the East Coast with a devastating wallop of rain and wind on Monday night. As I sit safe and dry in California, I feel terrible for everyone rocked by the hurricane. Please consider donating to the American Red Cross to help with disaster relief by clicking here.

I feel like a shallow heel for posting about something as mundane as yesterday’s eats, but I suppose that’s why you’re here, right?

Before I headed to the women’s class at CrossFit Palo Alto, I made myself a bowl of fluffy scrambled eggs topped with oven-roasted tomatoes.

As usual, I had a fun time with the gals in my class as we grunted through front squats and gritted our teeth through a burpee and running-intensive WOD. The workout kicked my butt, but as Coach Trish never fails to reminds me, I never regret coming in to the gym.

Afterwards, I zoomed to the cancer center to meet my mother-in-law for a follow-up appointment with her oncologist. She’s been doing great since finishing her chemo and radiation treatments a year ago, but it’s always reassuring to get a clean bill of health from her docs. Every time we visit the clinic, I can’t help but feel heartache for the other patients in the waiting room; I know that all of them have either gone through what my mother-in-law has, or are still in the crippling throes of treatment. It puts all my petty grievances into perspective. 

When I returned home in the afternoon, I grabbed a pound of chicken gizzards that I’d salted overnight…

…and a container of duck fat from the fridge.

I combined the two, along with some herbs and garlic, in a small Dutch oven

…and popped it in the toaster oven to braise for a few hours. 

While I waited for the gizzards to tenderize, I ate a bowl of leftover homemade koobideh, oven-roasted tomatoes, and sautéed beet greens for lunch.

Man — I can’t wait until my wall oven gets fixed. The repair is scheduled for this Friday, and my fingers are crossed that it’ll actually get done this time. Bill and Hayley are visiting next week to whip up a feast and shoot pics for their upcoming cookbook, Gather, and I’m guessing my toaster oven isn’t going to cut it. We can’t wait to see what Miss Hayley’s going to cook up for us!

Before I left to pick up the Double-Os from school, I took the gizzards out and stole a peek — and a bite. The verdict: Tender and flavorful.

See? Offal ain’t awful!

I didn’t spend all day cooking. After all, it’s Halloween week, and I’m in full-time mommy mode, so I’m up to my eyeballs hosting playdates with super heroes and ghouls.

In case you were wondering: When Lil-O’s not in full Bat-regalia, he demands that we address him by his proper name, “Bruce Wayne.”  Otherwise, he flails his arms at you and growls: “LOOKS LIKE YOUR LUCK’S RUN OUT, JOKER!”

After a busy day fending off masked vigilantes, it was time to make dinner. I plopped a couple of pre-cooked pork chops in the SousVide Supreme and chopped up some baby bok choy…

…and shiitake mushrooms.

I sautéed the veggies in the pressure cooker and splashed in some bone broth, fish sauce, and coconut aminos before cooking it under high pressure for three minutes.

When the veggies were finished cooking, I torched the pork chops…

…and we squeezed around our kids’ tiny IKEA play table and chatted as we ate dinner. Our boys are going to outgrow this little piece of furniture soon, but I’m hopeful that our family will always make time to hunker together for dinner — regardless of the size of the table.

Paleo Eats: 10/25/12

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At long last, I’m back. Did you miss me?

After reading an article on Mark’s Daily Apple about the importance of scheduling a Deload Week in your fitness regimen, I figured this concept applies equally well to blogging. Everyone needs a break to recharge and come back stronger, faster, and better. Plus, it’s been fun being a couch potato cheering on the Giants in the World Series. Okay, to be honest, I don’t really care about the Series — Henry’s the baseball fanatic in the family — but I love cheering on Paleo athlete Hunter Pence. Go, caveman, go!

After sleeping a restorative nine hours on Wednesday night, I was back in full-on mommy mode when the sun came up. Once the kids had breakfasted on eggs and Big-O scampered off to school, it was my turn for some sunny-side-up protein…

…and a chaser of bone broth. Note to self: don’t make bone broth with lamb bones, even meaty ones. The odor is…unpleasant.

Lil-O’s assessment: “Your breath smells like insects, mommy.”

Some vigorous teeth-brushing ensued, and then Lil-O and I spent the morning and afternoon playing Legos and Hide-and-Hug.

Never heard of Hide-and-Hug? (Not surprising, since we just kind of made it up.) The game’s just like Hide-and-Seek, but you hug each other when you’re found. I’m not ashamed to admit that I totally cheat at this game to score extra cuddles.

Between sessions of hiding under furniture, I managed to sneak in some cooking in the afternoon — I baked a tray of sweet potatoes in the toaster oven…

…and boiled a half dozen eggs.

For lunch, Lil-O had his usual plate of scrambled eggs and sliced strawberries. Me? I reheated leftover Slow Cooker Asian Short Ribs (recipe coming soon!), sautéed a handful of baby kale, and grabbed a small baked yam for myself.

In the afternoon, we picked up Big-O from school and the two boys spent the rest of the day reenacting a Weird Al Yankovic concert in our family room. Hands down, one of the best purchases I made this month was a set of inflatable rock band instruments from Amazon. The kids entertained themselves (and me) for hours by playing air keytars and dancing like their favorite rockstar. Best of all: The balloon instruments emit no sounds.

Just like every other night, I neglected to plan for dinner. Rummaging through the fridge, I found a bag of Portobello mushrooms that needed attention…

…and a pound of ground beef in my defrost bowl.

Burger time!

I decided to make Portobello mushroom “buns” and I prepared them per my usual method

…in my convection toaster oven. I purposely cooked them on convection mode so that the circulating hot air would take out even more of the moisture from the ‘shrooms.

No one likes handling wet, slippery buns, right? 

I seasoned the grind with a healthy pinch of kosher salt and Penzeys Turkish seasoning

…formed four burgers…

…and fried up the quarter-pounders in some melted ghee.

I tucked the burgers in between the mushrooms…

…and garnished them with leftover Oven-Roasted Tomatoes

…and butter lettuce.

Now this is what I call an umami burger.

Paleo Eats: 10/17/2012

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Ack. Seven consecutive night shifts were staring at me in the face, but I couldn’t pull the trigger on preparing food for the week ahead. Too lazy, I guess. The best I could muster was to sprinkle Magic Mushroom Powder on a couple of rib eyes before plopping them into the SousVide Supreme.

At least one of our meals this week will be a no-brainer.

After depositing the spawn at school, I headed to the women’s class at CrossFit Palo Alto, where we grunted under barbells to hit our CrossFit Total.

Although I PR’d on all three lifts, I’m embarrassed to admit that my total score was just a smidge above Alma’s and Webby’s over 300-pound one rep max deadlifts. No matter — I’m just proud that I can finally deadlift a decent amount more than my body weight.

When I came home, I made myself a frittata with the leftover saucy sausage and baby kale stuffing from last night’s dinner

…and crammed some roasted yam purée into my belly.

Before the kiddos got home from school, I managed to get piles of laundry done and conked out for my pre-work power nap.

I woke up still unsure of what to make for dinner. Scavenging through the fridge, I eventually cobbled together the ingredients for an impromptu Paleo casserole: a large eggplant, marinara sauce, homemade dairy-free “cheese,” leftover braised beef shanks, and baby kale.

First, I sliced the eggplant into discs…

…before brushing on melted coconut oil and sprinkling the slices with Magic Mushroom Powder. 

I stuck the tray of aubergine under the broiler (the only part of my busted wall oven that’s currently operational) for a couple of minutes on each side until they got nice and toasty.

I reheated the braised shanks in a cast iron skillet and added chopped mushrooms and baby kale.

Next, I messily poured Rao’s Marinara Sauce on the bottom of a baking dish…

…nestled the broiled eggplant slices in the sauce, and added dollops of my homemade “ricotta.”

I piled on the reheated meat and veggies…

…added more “cheese”, another layer of eggplant…

…and a final glop of marinara sauce.

I stuck the casserole in my super-awesome countertop toaster oven until the sauce was bubbly.

This casserole was a mash-up of two of my favorite Italian dishes: eggplant parm + lasagna with braised beef.

I know what you’re thinking: PALEO CHEESE? What’s in this dairy-free “ricotta”?

Any guesses?

Methinks you’ll be seeing this “ricotta” in a bunch of my dishes this fall…