Forky Friday: 2/14/14

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Forky Friday: 2/14/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Happy Valentine’s Day! 

Forky Friday: 2/14/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Because I heart you guys so much, I’m going to treat y’all to a special Forky Friday roundup of recipes from my new cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans, that have been reprinted (with permission!) around the web. Some of ’em (like my Bone Broth and Slow Cooker Kalua Pig) are classics that are familiar to loyal readers, but many of these recipes have never before appeared on my site, including my umami-packed Magic Mushroom Powder and Macadamia Nut “Ricotta.” You won’t find these exclusive recipes on my blog’s Recipe Index, so bookmark this post and share it with your friends.

Forky Friday: 2/14/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Alright—enough of the jibber-jabber. On to the recipes!

Asian Cauliflower Fried “Rice”

This is one of my signature dishes, so there was zero chance of me leaving it out of my cookbook. Since the book’s release, I’ve loved seeing how my fried “rice” has been re-created (and in some cases, re-imagined!) by some of my favorite bloggers, including Diana Rodgers of Sustainable Dish, Kate Williams at Serious Eats, and Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen.

Check out this video of Jaden’s wonderfully pared-down riff on my recipe:

(Can’t view the video? Click here!)

Bone Broth

Are you sick of hearing me extol the virtues of meaty bone broth?

Well, too bad, because I’m here to tell you to read this Serious Eats article about my recipe, in which my bone broth is put to the test. 

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Pressure Cooker Mexican Beef

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For the past couple of years, I’ve been making Oven Braised Mexican Beef at least twice a month because it’s simple and delicious—and because the kids’ll actually eat it. But here’s a dirty little secret: these days, I rarely braise it in the oven ’cause I can get similar results in a fraction of the time using a pressure cooker.

I’ve extolled the virtues of pressure cooking before, but it’s truly become one of my favorite cooking methods. (I love pretty much anything that helps me get satisfying meals on the table before I have to rush off to the hospital.) My trusty stovetop pressure cookers have been workhorses in my kitchen for some time now, but I recently treated myself to an Instant Pot because I’d read so many great things about this electric programmable multi-cooker. Also: I’m a gadget hoarder.

In fact, I’m such a hoarder that I’d neglected to break out my Instant Pot for months after buying it. It sat in a box in my garage for months before I managed to de-clutter my kitchen enough to make room for it.

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And now, I’m totally crushing on my Instant Pot. I love that I can make bone broth at a moment’s notice without having to babysit it like a stove-top pressure cooker. Also, the sauté function lets me brown aromatics or meat right in the pot before I throw in the rest of the ingredients. Yippee!

One thing to note: The Instant Pot cooks at a slightly lower pressure (11.6 psi) than my stove top pressure cookers (15 psi), but that just means having to add a few minutes to the cooking time. I increase the cooking time by 7 to 15%, and refer to my friend Laura Pazzaglia’s Hip Pressure Cooking website and charts for specific cooking times. If you’re at all a fan of pressure cooking, I suggest that you do the same. One more thing: even though the dish is finished in about an hour, I often don’t serve it ’til the next day. There’s a scientific reason why stews and braises taste better as leftovers.

So with all of that out of the way, wanna see how I’ve modified my Mexican Beef recipe to work in a pressure cooker?

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Cracklin’ Chicken

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Cracklin' Chicken by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

The past couple of months have been absolutely bananas. Between working my zombie drug dealer shifts at the hospital, zipping through Asia, throwing a book release party, and pin-balling my way around Southern California, Texas, and the Pacific Northwest to meet readers on my book tour, I haven’t spent much time at home with my family, let alone cook for them. So you can imagine my delight when Henry and the Os finally joined me in Portland and Seattle for the last few days of my book tour—and I was even happier to return home on Monday.

After dragging our luggage into our entryway, I headed straight for my kitchen. I was dead tired, but it had been a while since I whipped up a home-cooked meal. I was itching to fire up the stove, despite having next-to-nothing in the fridge. So what’s a lazy (but hungry) mommy to do? Why, fry up a batch of Cracklin’ Chicken (a.k.a. Lil-O’s favorite crispy chicken thighs), of course!

Cracklin' Chicken by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Longtime readers of this blog (and owners of my new cookbook!) know that my younger son is a picky and headstrong little guy who wasn’t exactly keen on this whole Paleo thing. At the age of three, he almost ran away from home when the whole-grain mac & cheese disappeared from our cupboard.

The transition wasn’t smooth, but with persistence and patience, we got our whole family eating the same dishes at mealtimes. Obviously, compromise is a necessity, and I do my best to make dishes we all can agree on. When I ask the kids for suggestions, Lil-O always asks for Cracklin’ Chicken. (That is, when he’s not throwing out made-up names for imaginary dishes like “Big Buddy with a Ham Chuddy” or “Chewy Butt Stew.”)

Cracklin' Chicken by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Cracklin’ Chicken’s one of my favorite dishes, too. These crispy-on-the-outside, tender-and-juicy-on-the-inside boneless chicken thighs are quick and easy to prepare, and taste fantastic with whatever seasoning I have on hand—even if it’s just salt and pepper. And for those of you who care, this recipe’s Whole30- and 21DSD-friendly to boot!

Cracklin' Chicken by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Some key tips for this recipe:

  • Buy bone-in, skin-on thighs—they’re inexpensive. Plus, the bones are easy to remove, and the crispy skin is what makes this dish. I vastly prefer thighs over breasts for this recipe—to me, breasts tend to dry out and end up more bland.
  • Use a pair of sharp kitchen shears to remove the bones. (Reserve the bones in the freezer for your next batch of bone broth!)
  • Dry the chicken thighs well, and season both sides of the thigh with salt, but ONLY the meat side gets additional seasoning and/or pepper. If you put other seasonings on the skin, it’ll run the risk of burning. Then, everyone will be sad. Tears are not tasty.

Ready for my fool-proof method for a crowd-pleasing, kid-approved chicken dinner?

Cracklin' Chicken by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

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Nom Nom Paleo’s Top 15 Posts of 2013

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Nom Nom Paleo's Top 15 Posts of 2013 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

As the year draws to a close, let’s step into our time machine and revisit my top posts of 2013. I dug through our site metrics, and learned that of the roughly 200 (non-cookbook-related!) posts I published on Nom Nom Paleo over the past 12 months, these 15 were the most popular, as judged by traffic, notes, comments, and dissemination on social media:

15. Orange Sriracha Chicken (October 27)

I don’t know if it’s the sweet, citrusy notes in the sauce or the spicy sriracha kick—or if readers were just freaked out that the Huy Fong Sriracha plant in southern California was seemingly under constant threat of shutdown—but my recipe for Orange Sriracha Chicken was a fan favorite. (It’s one of mine, too.)

Orange Sriracha Chicken by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

14. Forky Friday: Thanksgiving Smorgasbord (November 22)

Every November, we’re faced with a conundrum: How do we prepare a Turkey Day feast for a house full of Paleo eaters? This year, I posted a series of Thanksgiving recipes, ranging from Spatchcocked Turkey and Warm Brussels Sprouts Slaw to Cran-Cherry Sauce and Umami Gravy. And in advance of the big dinner, I posted a rundown of all the recipes—and added a bunch more, too. Wanna see?

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13. Kelly Brozyna’s Chocolate Pie + Raw Graham Cracker Crust (September 30)

I adore Kelly and her family. And when I received an advance review copy of her latest book, The Paleo Chocolate Lover’s Cookbook, I couldn’t wait to get cooking. Everything looked incredible, but Kelly’s Chocolate Pie recipe jumped off the page at me. See what I mean?

Kelly Brozyna's Chocolate Pie + Raw Graham Cracker Crust by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

12. Round-up: Another Week of Paleo Lunches (August 23)

For the second year in a row, I partnered with Jackie Linder of Lunchbots—the best and most stylish stainless steel lunch containers in the known universe!—to present a week’s worth of Paleo-friendly packed lunch ideas. We had a great time putting these lunches together, and happily, it looks like you guys enjoyed reading about them, too!

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Forky Friday: 11/15/13

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Forky Friday 11/15/13 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

I’m interrupting my Nomtastic Thanksgiving recipe series to bring you this week’s Forky Friday links—but don’t let me sidetrack you from planning your Turkey Day menu! My Butterflied Big Bird, Warm Brussels Sprouts Slaw with Asian Citrus Dressing, and Paleo Cran-Cherry Sauce are an excellent start, but a few other recipes on the Internets have raised my eyebrows—chief among them J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s Sous Vide Deep Fried Turkey Porchetta. (Of course, as a self-respecting cavelady, I’d fry the porchetta in animal fat or ghee, and I’d omit the flour from the gravy).

And as for leftovers, Stupid Easy Paleo’s Thanksgiving Leftovers Sandwich is the only way to go, don’t you think?

Forky Friday 11/15/13 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Okay, enough turkey talk. Let’s get to the links!

The Incredible Edible Egg

Forky Friday 11/15/13 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Despite buying dozens of eggs every week from Good Eggs, it doesn’t take long for our family to finish ’em.

This isn’t a surprise. Eggs are one of my favorite nutrient-packed foods, and I love that my boys wake up to a plate of them every morning. (The kids’ standard breakfast: mushroom omelets or scrambled eggs. Henry, meanwhile, has his sunny-side up.)

Forky Friday 11/15/13 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Don’t believe that eggs—yolk and all—are good for you? Then read this new piece by Paul Jaminet, in which he busts some myths about the healthfulness of eggs.

Sustainable Farming in My ‘Hood

I was delighted to spot this article in the New York Times this week, featuring some of my hands-down favorite sustainable farmers and purveyors in the San Francisco Bay Area, from Leftcoast Grassfed and Early Bird Ranch to the aforementioned Good Eggs.

Forky Friday 11/15/13 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

They’re all working together to raise meat, poultry, and eggs the right way—and making money, too. The point is that sustainable farming isn’t just good for health and the environment, but it can be a profitable enterprise, too. Win-win!

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How I Roll: Weeknight Paleo Dinner Prep

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I was asked about my dinner prep strategies during an interview last week, and I had to confess: I don’t give much thought to meal planning.

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I’m not proud of it. I often wish I were more like the marvelous Melissa Joulwan, whose ingenious Weekly Cookup and Hot Plates concepts in her cookbook, Well Fed, make meal preparation a breeze. Or like Tammy Credicott, whose new book, Make Ahead Paleo, just arrived in the mail yesterday. If I really had my act together, I might even try cooking all my meals a full month in advance, à la Tricia Callahan of Once A Month Meals

Sadly, I’m a shambling mess when it comes to meal prep, and there are days when I’m tempted to go foraging for a carnitas salad bowl with extra guacamole at Chipotle instead of turning on the stove. After all, meals are the one thing that can be easily and cheaply outsourced…

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But then, I remember: nothing beats home-cooked meals. 

Since going Paleo a few years ago, I’ve found that the only way I truly understand what I’m feeding myself and my boys is to roll up my sleeves and prepare our meals from scratch. In doing so, I’ve gained a newfound appreciation for whole, nutritious ingredients. Now, with countless hours in the kitchen under my belt, my culinary chops have slowly but surely improved. Like all skills, the only way to get better is to practice, practice, practice. 

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Plus, I love our little clan’s nightly ritual of gathering together at the dinner table; there, we can come together as a family to: Instagram the food (that would be me), wearily complain about all the Lego bricks underfoot (Henry), share defensive strategies in response to zombie attacks (Big-O), and count aloud the number of days until Christmas (Lil-O). I have fond memories of cracking jokes over supper with my parents, sister, and grandparents, and I want to pass on this important tradition to my kiddos. 

Besides, cooking at home is far more budget-friendly than dining out every night. 

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Whole30® Sriracha

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I’ve gotten tons of positive feedback about the Paleo Sriracha recipe I posted back in December (thank you!), and I love hearing that many of you have whipped up batches of the stuff to serve with…well, everything. After my recipe was picked up by websites like BuzzFeed and Grist, even non-Paleo eaters have been making their own junk-free versions of the famous Rooster Sauce. Yay!

BUT…what if you’re a sriracha lover who’s doing a Whole30®, and can’t have honey for a month? It’s your lucky day, ‘cause I have a solution:

Whole30® Sriracha by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Just like the original recipe, this’ll take just 20 minutes, and yield 2¼ cups of what Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal calls “a delicious blessing flavored with the incandescent glow of a thousand dying suns.”

Ready for the recipe?

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The Round-up: 30 Days of Whole30 Recipes!

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Whole30 Roundup by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Here it is: 30 days of Whole30® recipes—complete with tips, tricks, and encouragement to get you through the month!

Below, you’ll find a set of links to each of the daily Whole30-friendly recipes I posted throughout the month. Bookmark this post (or follow my Whole30 Pinterest board); then, when you’re stumped for meal ideas, come back for inspiration.

(And if you have an iPad, go download my app! With over 100 Whole30-approved recipes, interactive guides, a customizable shopping list, fully-emailable recipes, and a 30-day Whole30 meal plan, this iPad app is an invaluable tool for Paleo foodies and culinary newbies alike!)

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(Looking for my previous Whole30 experiences? Check ’em out here and here.)

And when you’re all done? Don’t fret, ’cause resources abound:

  • First, head on over to Whole9 to gobble up their wrap-up post, including links to articles about living (and eating!) in the days, weeks, and years post-Whole30. And if you have a copy of “It Starts With Food” on your bookshelf, take another look at Chapter 20 (“Strategies for Long-Term Success”), which is packed with tips for sustaining good health.

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  • Lastly, HAVE FUN. I believe strongly that the lifestyle changes that really “stick” are the ones that are fun and exciting. Continue to foster your culinary curiosity, and play around in the kitchen. Not only will you eat healthier, but you’ll develop skills and gain knowledge that’ll make you even more awesome than you are right now (as if that’s even possible).

How did your Whole30 go? How do you feel? And what are your post-Whole30 plans?


Looking for more recipe ideas? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my iPad® app, and in my cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel, December 2013)!

Whole30 Day 30: Oven-Braised Mexican Beef

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It’s Day 30! But before we sprint across the finish line, I have one more recipe to highlight.

This weekend, I’m off to New York to attend my cousin Jennifer’s baby shower. Henry and the kids will man the fort while I’m gone, but they won’t be left to fend entirely for themselves: I’m leaving them a big pot of Oven-Braised Mexican Beef. 

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Wrapped in lettuce leaves and topped with homemade guacamole, this spicy, hearty take on chili con carne should keep my family’s bellies full while they cheer on the Niners this Super Bowl Sunday.

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Follow the jump for the recipe and some announcements!

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Whole30 Day 29: Garbage Stir-Fry with Curried Cabbage

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I rarely have time to make a big production out of my meals. Between work and parenting (and blogging and app development and — shh! — a new secret project), my cup runneth over. I’m not about to make a special weeknight trip to the market to hunt down some exotic ingredients for a complicated new recipe I found in a cookbook.

Instead, when pressed for time (which is just about always), I rummage through my pantry and fridge and MacGyver something together. And that usually involves some handy-dandy Emergency Protein™. (Who says I can’t trademark that?)

There are plenty of ways to quickly cook up a batch of Emergency Protein. My iPad cookbook app shows off a method for slow-roasting meats in an oven, and you can always just throw a steak on the grill or water oven. Leftovers can form the basis of a super-simple Emergency Protein meal, too. For example, on Saturday night, Henry reheated some leftover Slow Cooker Kalua Pig, paired it with a variation on Cauliflower Fried “Rice,” and voila! Dinner was on the table in minutes.

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All out of leftovers? If you have a Defrost Bowl™ in your refrigerator, this shouldn’t post a problem at all. (What? You got a problem with me trademarking that, too?)

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Over the years, I’ve gotten lots of questions about my Defrost Bowl, but there’s really nothing all that magical about it. It’s just a big bowl in my fridge that I use to thaw a bunch of frozen meat. (Note: It’s a bowl — not a colander. I certainly don’t want to clean up the bloody goo that inevitably oozes out of my packages of meat.) Every few days, I transfer some frozen protein from my freezer to my trusty Defrost Bowl; then, when it’s time to get cooking, I grab whatever Emergency Protein is no longer icy, and then decide on a cooking method.

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My Defrost Bowl serves another purpose, too: It forces me to cook my meat before it spoils, and keeps me from stuffing my face with take-out. Win-win!

One of my all-time favorite ways to whip up supper in a flash using Emergency Protein is to make a Garbage Stir-Fry™. (Yes, I’m trademarking EVERYTHING. That’s my secret project.)

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Keep reading, and I’ll show you how to make a fragrant and zesty Garbage Stir-Fry with ground meat, curry, and cabbage. Don’t worry about the name – I call it Garbage Stir-Fry, but once you taste it, you won’t want to throw any of it away.

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