Happy New Year! – Butternut Squash Soup with Caramelized Onions

Soup 3

Happy New Year! In years past, this would be the time that I would be anticipating the wintery, dark, diet days of January that I would soon abandon in favor of what I refer to as “chocolate season” in February. I absolutely hate the word diet — so much deprivation! So, this year I’ve decided to take a different approach. Rather than a long list of resolutions, I’ve decided to follow Michael Pollan’s advice from his book, Food Rules — An Eaters Manual. “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” That’s it — simple, really.

I started Jeannine’s Cuisine in October of 2014 as a way to provide copies of my recipes to friends and family who were always asking for them. Since I started the blog, I’ve often asked myself if I should have some sort of theme — Mediterranean? gluten free? Paleo/Primal? Pastry? Then I realized that Jeannine’s Cuisine is all of that. It’s the way I eat, which encompasses a huge variety. But, in spite of my “everything in moderation” stance, there are still a few “rules” I go by for both this blog and the way we cook and eat.

Let me just put it up front – I love pastry. Of course, I do — I’m a former French-trained pastry chef. But, I seriously believe that sugar consumption is probably at the root of America’s obesity problem, and reading as much about nutrition as I do, I can’t recall EVER coming across anything that said it was good for you. Yes, I do some baking, and you will continue to see some baking recipes on the blog in the upcoming year, but, at least until February (smile), in limited quantities. It is January, after all. I tend to bake things I can freeze, then thaw one piece of whatever it is at a time. It keeps my sweets consumption in check, but still allows me the occasional treat with my afternoon tea, or even breakfast.

Another big part of Jeannine’s Cuisine that will continue in the New Year is to use/eat as little processed food as possible. I’d absolutely love to be one of those homemakers I read about who put up vegetables every fall and bake artisan bread every week. Unfortunately, I have something called a full time job that prevents that, but I can try. Yes, it’s a lot of work to do the cooking I do. I spend a LOT of time in the kitchen, but it’s so worth it when my husband beams when he has a spoonful of a delicious soup that I’ve just made from scratch.

Soup 2

This butternut squash soup is one of his favorites. Mine too, for that matter. If you have a Vitamix or other high- speed blender, it will turn your soup into velvety goodness. If not, you can still get the same smoothness, it will just be a bit more work. Either way, as we look forward to the wintery, dark, no dieting days of January, we know we can stay warm inside with a delicious, good-for-you bowl of soup. Spring is a long way off. Stay warm my friends. Let’s make some soup!

 Soup 1Butternut Squash Soup with Caramelized Onions

6-8 servings

We used beef tallow for caramelizing the onions, but realize most people don’t keep tallow in stock. Bacon grease, butter or even some sort of mild oil will work as well, but you will need to adjust the heat on the onions accordingly to allow them to brown without burning the fat.

  • 2 sweet onions
  • 4 tablespoons fat of your choice
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 2-pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 pears, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 cups heavy cream

Halve the sweet onions lengthwise and thinly slice. Melt the fat in a frying pan and cook the onions on medium heat or lower, stirring frequently, until golden brown. Place the onions on a paper-towel lined plate and set aside.

Melt the butter in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until soft, 4-5 minutes. Stir in the broth, squash, pears, thyme, salt, pepper and coriander. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until the squash is tender, approximately 15 minutes.

Puree the soup in a blender in batches, pouring it into a bowl after each batch. If you do not have a high-speed blender such as a Vitamix, after blending the soup, pour it through a fine strainer into a bowl, scraping it as necessary. After all the soup is blended, return it to the pot. Stir in the cream and reheat the soup, stirring frequently. Ladle into bowls and garnish each with a spoonful of the caramelized onions.

Adapted from Los Barrios Family Cookbook by Diana Barrios Trevino

 

 

 

Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon and Walnuts

Cauli 1

Cauliflower the week before Thanksgiving? Really, Jeannine?

I had a great time on Feedly with my morning coffee today, catching up on my blog reading, checking out all the wonderful Thanksgiving recipes on the internet…the turkeys, the stuffing, the potato recipes, the pies. I absolutely love Thanksgiving and this year is no different. But thinking ahead, I still have to get dinner on the table, and in light of the huge cooking and eating event on the calendar, I’d like those dinners before and after to be relatively healthy, oh…and really easy to prepare.

Cauli 2

Today’s recipe goes with anything; fish, chicken, you name it. It’s super easy, requires only a few ingredients, and it’s delicious.

Cauli 4

Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon and Walnuts

4 Servings

You can replace the walnut pieces with pecans, hazelnuts, or even pistachios.

1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnut pieces

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets

3 tablespoons walnut oil or olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

juice of 1 lemon (approximately 1 tablespoon)

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/3 cup heavy cream or half and half

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Toast the walnut pieces by placing them in a small frying pan over medium heat until you begin to smell them and they start turning brown. Remove the walnuts from the hot pan to a clean plate and set aside.

Place the cauliflower in a clean sheet pan, toss with 2 tablespoons of the oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Roast the cauliflower for 15-20 minutes, stirring once or twice, until it begins to char in places.

Cauli 3

Whisk the remaining oil with the lemon juice, mustard, and half and half in a large bowl. Add the cauliflower to the boil, scraping any brown bits and remaining oil from the sheet pan into the bowl as well. Toss the cauliflower with the dressing, add the walnuts and toss again. Check the seasoning and serve warm.

Adapted from Lose Weight the Smart Low Carb Way by David Joachim and Bettina Newman

 

Finally Fall – Braised Lamb Shanks with White Beans

Shanks 1

It’s a beautiful Fall day, and the weather has finally cooled down enough to start doing some comfort food. I’m not a fan of cooking cool weather foods when it’s still summer outside, even if it’s the end of September, but by the time I start seriously considering hanging the glow-in-the dark skeleton by the front door, I know it’s time.

Shanks 2

Today’s post is inspired by the restaurant, Sebillon Elysee, in Paris. They are famous for their Allaiton de L’Aveyron gigot d’agneau (leg of lamb), which is wheeled out on a cart and carved tableside. It’s served over creamy white beans that come to the table bubbling away in a copper pot. This century-old restaurant is one of my favorites in Paris; very old-world style without being stuffy.

Shanks 3

I had never even heard of braising until I went to culinary school. Coq au Vin was the first braised dish I made, and I fell in love with it and the technique. Braising is the combination of searing food at a high temperature then cooking it in a liquid in a covered pot at a low temperature. The meat is then removed and the liquid left in the pan is reduced to make a sauce. Although braising takes some time, it’s mostly hands off, and the restaurant- quality results are worth the extra time. You end up with fork-tender meat and a luscious sauce. Anyone can braise; once you get this technique down the possibilities are endless.

Shanks 4

Braised Lamb Shanks with White Beans

6 Servings

If you don’t like or eat beans, or you are following a Paleo or Primal program, this dish is just as good with a side of creamy mashed potatoes or some sort of vegetable puree such as cauliflower, turnips, or parsnips. I used navy beans because that was what was available, but any white bean, such as cannellini or great northern, will do.

1 1/2 cups dried white beans

6 8-12 ounce lamb shanks

salt and pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 celery stalk, diced

2 large carrots, peeled and diced

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 cups red wine

1 1/2 cups chicken stock

1 14.5 ounce can whole tomatoes, drained and chopped

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1 bay leaf

lemon zest from 1 lemon, grated

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Pick over the beans and soak them for at least 3 hours (preferably, overnight). Rinse the beans and place them in a saucepan with enough water to cover them by 2 inches. Bring the beans to a boil, lower the temperature to a simmer, and cook the beans until tender, 45-60 minutes. Drain and set aside.

While the beans are cooking, prepare the lamb shanks. Thoroughly season the shanks with salt and pepper on all sides. In a large soup pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Cook the lamb shanks until brown, 10-12 minutes. Remove the shanks from the pot and set aside on a plate. Add the onion, celery, and carrots to the pot and cook until the onion softens, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Use a stiff spatula to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the stock, tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme, bay leaf and lamb shanks with any juices from the plate. Return the contents of the pot to a boil, lower the heat to simmer, cover the pot, and cook for 1 1/2-2 hours. The meat should be very tender and falling off the bone. Remove the shanks from the pot and keep warm. Bring the pot contents to a boil and reduce to sauce consistency, about 15 minutes. Lower the heat, add the beans to the pot and cook on medium to warm the beans, about 15 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and season the beans with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, place a spoonful of the beans on a plate or bowl and top with a lamb shank. Garnish with lemon and parsley.

Adapted from Williams Sonoma Seasonal Favorites

 

 

Tomato Salad with Grilled Blue Cheese Onions and Barbecue Vinaigrette

Tomato Salad 1

This post is a continuation of foods inspired by my trip to Asheville, NC, for the Food Blog Forum conference. The second day of the conference was hosted by Explore Asheville Foodtopia. The day began with a visit to a local brewery, the Highland Brewing Company.

Highland

I had no idea that Asheville is home to more artisan breweries than any other place in the U.S. We were given the opportunity to tour the actual brewery and watch the beer making and bottling activities in action.  The tour was nice, but what really floored me was the reception that was waiting for us when we arrived. Many of the local restaurants and food purveyors had stations set up with samples of their specialties matched with various Highland Brews. Ribs and beer for breakfast? It was tough, but somehow I managed.

Ribs

There were representatives from the local honey purveyors, ice cream makers, and even a professional forager, who had brought a sample of the most beautiful mushrooms I’ve ever seen.

Mushrooms

The Foodtopia group also gave us a very nice bag full of some of the local goodies, to include a bottle of Smokin J’s barbecue sauce.

BBQ Sauce

Early this past summer, I decided I needed to improve my grilling skills. Actually, I decided to become a “grill goddess,” and purchased a couple of grilling cookbooks to assist me, including a copy of Gastro Grilling by Ted Reader. I really like this book because it goes well beyond the throw-a-steak-on-the-grill version of outdoor cooking. I spotted this salad recipe early on, and decided it would make a great side with grilled meats. The barbecue vinaigrette reminds me of french dressing, only better. It’s great on a simple green salad as well. If you live in a climate warm enough to still be enjoying some early fall tomatoes, and you’re crazy like us and grill outside year ‘round, this salad is for you. Even if you live somewhere that you have already experienced your first snowfall, there is always next year.

Salad 2

Tomato Salad with Grilled Blue Cheese Onions and Barbecue Vinaigrette

Serves 6-8

I used Penzey’s Barbecue spice for the salad dressing. If you don’t have access to Penzey’s feel free to substitute your favorite barbecue rub combined with a pinch of sugar. This salad is great with a mixture of different heirloom tomatoes of different colors, but use whatever you can find. If you prefer to use only one type of onion, all red, for example, that’s okay too. To chiffonade basil, tightly roll the leaves lengthwise and slice thinly.  

1 16-ounce can plum tomatoes, drained

1 anchovy filet

1/2 cup your favorite barbecue sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons prepared horseradish

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

1/2 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 teaspoon Penzey’s Barbecue spice or other

1/4 cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

8 medium size tomatoes

1 medium red onion

1 medium white onion

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles

1/2 cup basil leaves, chiffonade

Dressing

Prepare the vinaigrette: place the first eight ingredients (through the barbecue spice) in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Turn on the food processor and slowly add the olive oil through the feed tube, stopping the machine when the vinaigrette is smooth and completely emulsified. Transfer to a bowl, season to taste with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Preheat the grill on high. Thickly slice the tomatoes and arrange on a serving platter.

Slice the onions into 1/2-inch thick slices. Brush both sides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the onions on one side for 6 minutes, then turn them over and grill for another 5 minutes. They should be fairly tender and slightly charred. Sprinkle some of the blue cheese on each onion slice and close the lid for about a minute to melt the cheese.

Onions

Carefully remove the onions from the grill and allow to cool for a couple of minutes. Cut the onions into quarters and arrange on top of the tomatoes. Drizzle the salad with some of the dressing and serve the remainder on the side. Top the salad with the basil and serve.

Adapted from Gastro Grilling by Ted Reader

Celebrating the Last of Summer – Grilled Burgers with Avocado and Parsnip Fries

Burger Closeup 1

I love fall – going outside that first crisp morning when the temperature is in the 50s in complete contrast to the 80s and 90s we’ve previously experienced in the DC area. This year has been different, however. We’ve had such a mild summer that now that the temperature has dropped, I find myself almost thinking I can’t appreciate it, because it just hasn’t been that hot. Wow, Jeannine. The one summer on record with decent temperatures and you think it needs to be hotter. Let’s throw in some heavy-duty humidity while we’re at it, shall we? So, I guess what I’m getting at is that, on this last day of summer, I’m not ready to throw in the towel on summer yet. There will be plenty of time for braises, pumpkin, soups and all those foods that signify fall later down the road.

One of the stops on the Explore Asheville Foodtopia tour during the recent Food Blogger Forum was a visit to Hickory Nut Gap Farm.

Farm 1We were treated to a sample of their delicious grass-fed beef before touring a section of the farm, led by Jamie Ager, one of the co-owners of the farm.

Farm 3

These hamburgers were inspired by the visit to the farm. I think you’ll agree when you taste these is that there is just no substitute for grass-fed beef – it just tastes, well, beefier. And you can’t argue with the health benefits of eating meat that provides essential Omega 3 fatty acids.

Farm 4

I’ve been following Juli Bauer of PaleOMG ever since my husband and I first started experimenting with the Paleo/Primal lifestyle 3 years ago. Although neither of us is completely Paleo, I still follow Juli’s blog and find it a great source of healthy recipes, no matter what eating program you follow. I’ve really enjoyed seeing how she has grown as a cook over the past few years. This burger recipe is a perfect example. They are incredibly juicy and have a really nice flavor without being too over-the-top. The burgers are served wrapped in a bibb or romaine lettuce leaf, as I’ve pictured here. However, if you must have a bun for your burger, I recommend having the parsnip shoestrings on the side rather than on the burger.

Burger 5

Hamburgers on the Grill with Avocado and Parsnip Shoestrings

Serves 6

 Instead of mashing the avocados for the garnish, you can also use 1 cup of your favorite guacamole. I really like the fresh guacamole from the local Whole Foods.

2 large parsnips, peeled

2 pounds ground beef

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup coconut oil

6 romaine or bibb lettuce leaves

1 red onion, thinly sliced

2 avocados, peeled seeded and mashed

Preheat the grill to medium high.

Cut the parsnips into long shoestrings with a julienne peeler or spiral slicer. Set aside.

Combine the ground beef, onion, mustard, garlic and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Divide the meat mixture into 6 patties, making a small indentation in the center of each one.   Grill the burgers to desired level of doneness. We found that 6 minutes covered on the first side and three minutes covered on the second side resulted in a medium-rare burger, but your grill might be different. Do what works for you.

While the burgers are cooking heat the coconut oil in a saucepan until one of the shoestrings sizzles when dropped into the oil. Fry the shoestrings tossing with a fork until golden brown. Remove them from the oil and place on a paper-lined plate to drain. Sprinkle with salt while hot.

When the burgers are done, allow them to rest for 5-7 minutes. Place the burgers on a lettuce leaf, top with red onion, avocado or guacamole and parsnip fries.

Adapted from PaleOMG.    I think this recipe is also included in Juli’s latest book, The Paleo Kitchen.

 

 

Roasted Tomato and Fennel Soup

Tomato Soup 4

Some people may question the sanity of posting a soup recipe in the “dog days” of summer, especially those in places where the temperature normally exceeds 90 degrees. We’ve been fairly lucky this year in terms of having a hot summer. The Washington, DC, area can usually be compared to a steam bath around this time, but this year has been different, and, I must say, there will be no complaints from me. I love fall and it’s usually this time of year that I start thinking about that first morning I walk outside to discover a telling crispness in the air.

Tomato Soup 2

Meanwhile, we still have a couple of summer months left and lots of summer produce to use up – tomatoes anyone? Tomato soup is one of my favorite foods, and if you pair the soup with a grilled cheese sandwich, it’s a total win, win. How do you like your grilled cheese sandwiches? I prefer a fairly dense country style bread because it can hold more cheese that way. I spread the bread with a combination of mayonnaise and strong mustard and then add the cheese, usually whatever I have on hand. Lately it’s been cheddar slices, but any kind will do. I also add some ham, if I have some and maybe some thinly sliced pickles. Butter up the outside of the bread and fry it until crispy. Yum, yum!

Tomato Soup 3

In this soup recipe, you roast all the vegetables before making the soup, which adds a wonderful smoky flavor. Don’t be afraid to get some char on the vegetables; it adds to the depth of flavor.

Tomato Soup 1

 Roasted Tomato and Fennel Soup

I kept this soup on the rustic side, by just giving it a spin in my Vitamix. But if you prefer a smoother creamier soup, you can put it through a fine strainer before adding the cream.

2 pounds ripe red tomatoes

1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs, approximately 1 pound

1 yellow onion, cut into 8 wedges

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

4 cups vegetable broth

2 bay leaves

1/2 cup heavy cream, optional

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Halve the tomatoes, squeeze out the seeds and place cut-side up on half of a sheet pan or baking sheet. Trim the stalks and fronds from the fennel, reserving some of the fronds for garnish. Cut the fennel in half lengthwise then in half again and remove the core. Add the fennel and the onion pieces to the other half of the sheet pan. Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss with your hands to coat. Roast the vegetables for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender and carmelized. Remove pan from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Place the vegetables and the broth in a blender and puree until smooth. You may need to do this with half the vegetables and half the broth at a time.

Transfer the vegetable mixture to a large saucepan. Add the bay leaves and more salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then lower heat to a simmer and cook 15 minutes. Hint: Now is the time to prepare your grilled cheese sandwich if you are making one. Remove the bay leaves and stir in the cream, if using it.

To serve, ladle the soup into individual bowls and garnish with fennel fronds.

Adapted from Vibrant Food by Kimberley Hasselbrink

A Mexican-Inspired Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette

salad 1

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the direction I want to take this blog. Is it all about the photography? Food styling? Or is it about developing original recipes? I started the blog not only as a way to reach out to friends and family when they requested a recipe, but also as a way to work on my food photography, with the possibility of turning it into something more professional in the future. I didn’t realize just how much time it takes to post a decent blog post, but I’m not willing to cut corners. Don’t worry, Jeannine’s Cuisine is not going anywhere — not after all the work I’ve put into it. But I’ve finally accepted that, as a full-time Government employee with up to 2 hours of commuting each day, sometimes I’m just not going to be able to post as often as I would like. I read about other bloggers who also work fulltime and have been doing this for years. How can they be so prolific? Where do they find the time? As for me, I’m still working out my “blogging routine.” I guess I’ll get it down eventually, but in the meantime, I will continue to post as time allows.

Salad 2

I’ve also thought a lot about my food message. Is it gluten free? Paleo? Desserts? Quick and easy? Original recipes or adapted from other sources? I think I made the right decision when I decided to name this blog Jeannine’s Cuisine, because the food style in my blog is about all of those things. It’s the way I like to cook. Sometimes the food is healthier and at other times the food I cook is better suited to a special occasion, or when I have all kinds of time to cook. What you won’t find here is any processed food or anything labeled “fat free.” I generally change pretty much every recipe I get my hands on to some degree, and occasionally I even get an original idea and just roll with it. But I also use my ever-expanding cookbook collection for inspiration quite a bit. My goal for the future is to expand the collection of recipes on the blog, both original and adapted, to offer something for everyone. Because that’s the way I cook.

Salad 3

Yesterday was Cinco de Mayo, and food bloggers everywhere were hard at work, coming up with all kinds of delectable Mexican-style appetizers, entrees, and desserts. I would usually have done the same, but this year, after returning from non-stop gorging on Mexican food during a week-long trip to Arizona, Yum! I decided something a little healthier was probably in order.

Salad 4

I take a salad to work for lunch most days of the week, and it’s normally a bowl of lettuce with some salad dressing. I’m starting to get pretty bored with that and have been experimenting with making the lunchtime salads a whole lot more interesting. This salad is the answer. A delicious bacon vinaigrette (who doesn’t love bacon?) goes over a mixture of salad greens, tomato, avocado, bacon “chips” and toasted pumpkin seeds. I was trying to come up with something for Cinco de Mayo – this salad contains avocado and pepitas that are sort of Mexican ingredients, right? Don’t limit yourself to May for this salad. This is good anytime of the year.

Salad 5

A Mexican-Inspired Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette

Serves 4

This recipe makes more salad dressing than you will need for the salad. Store leftovers in the refrigerator and warm to room temperature before serving.

1/4 sweet onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

4 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 pound bacon, cut crosswise into inch-wide pieces

4 large handfuls Romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces

1 large tomato, cut into wedges then cut crosswise

1 avocado, halved, peeled, cut into wedges, then cut crosswise into chunks

1/4 cup shelled pumpkin seeds, toasted and salted

Place the onion, mustard, and vinegar in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Slowly add the olive oil a small bit at a time, whisking with each addition. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Place the bacon in a cold sauté pan and turn the heat on medium. Cook the bacon until crispy then turn it out onto a paper towel-lined plate. Set the pan with the bacon grease aside while you prepare the salad.

Combine the lettuce, tomato and avocado in a serving bowl. Add the vinaigrette mixture to the bacon fat in the sauté pan and whisk well to combine. The mixture may splatter if the bacon fat is still hot. Dress the salad with as much dressing as desired, top with the cooked bacon pieces, sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds, and serve immediately.

Salad dressing adapted from The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins

 

Sautéed Cabbage with Bacon

Cabbage 1

Today’s recipe is from a guest cook, my husband Scott. I wanted to get it posted as soon as possible because I consider it to be more of a chilly weather recipe than something that represents Spring, which, knock on wood, finally might be here to stay for awhile. This time last week I was sitting right here at my computer and looked outside and saw – snow. I couldn’t believe my eyes. But it was short lived. Now, the daffodils are up and trees are budding, and I’m sitting in front of an open window.

Cabbage 2

Although this cabbage is a recipe that we normally have for Saint Patrick’s Day, it is really versatile and will go with almost anything. I especially can see it alongside pork chops or chicken. The bacon is what makes this recipe special, so I don’t recommend leaving it out.

Cabbage 3

Sautéed Cabbage with Bacon

6 Servings

1/2 pound bacon, diced

4 tablespoons butter

1 large sweet onion, about 14 ounces, diced

1 head cabbage, thinly sliced

In a large sauté pan, cook the bacon over low heat to render as much fat as possible before the bacon browns, approximately 10 minutes. Add butter, and when it melts, add the onion. Increase the heat to medium and sauté until the onion softens, approximately 7 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Increase the heat to medium-high and start adding cabbage by the handful, cooking it down until you are able to add all of it to the pan, approximately 10 minutes. Add more salt and pepper to tasted. Continue cooking cabbage, stirring frequently, until done, approximately 10 minutes.

 

Dates with Sausage and Bacon

Dates 1

A couple of years ago in a quest to find an eating plan to negate the rich cuisine and fabulous beer we were enjoying a little too much in Germany, I stumbled upon something called the Primal Blueprint.  It’s a variation of sorts on the Paleo Diet; however, unlike strict Paleo, it allows some rice and a little high fat dairy.  Both plans stress “real food” and restrict consumption of grains, legumes, and refined sugars.  As with most restrictive eating programs, I wasn’t very successful, but my husband was and continues the program to this day.

I believe the Primal Blueprint is a good program for a lot of people, my husband included, and I try to be very supportive of his new, healthier eating habits.  It probably doesn’t hurt me to cut back on carbohydrates either.  Eliminating most grains and legumes (what no sandwiches?) proved to be a challenge.  Although we have always tried to limit processed food, I was clearly in the “no fat, whole grains” camp, and this was a complete switch.   It was also a great excuse to add to my ever-expanding cookbook collection.

Dates 2

I read every Primal and Paleo cooking blog I could find online and eventually figured out on whom I could probably rely for some decent recipes, while I learned to plan menus around this new eating style.  Everyday Paleo quickly became one of my favorites.  One of the first books I bought was this one, and one of the first Paleo recipes I made was dates stuffed with sausage and wrapped in bacon.  I wish I could take credit for this recipe.  One bite and I was hooked. I have yet to meet anyone who does not like this recipe, Paleo follower or not.

Dates 3

Dates with Sausage and Bacon

12 pieces

We have found that Medjool dates work best for this recipe, but if you can’t find them any other type will do.  If they are considerably smaller, you will need more dates and more bacon than the recipe calls for.  This recipe doubles or even triples easily, a good thing since it’s so addicting.

12 dates

1/2 pound bulk sausage

6 slices bacon, sliced in half crosswise

Preheat the oven to 375. 

Pit the dates if necessary, by slicing them lengthwise halfway through and removing the seeds.

Use about a tablespoon of sausage per date, more or less depending on the size of your dates.  Stuff the sausage into the date, wrapping the date around the sausage ball.  The dates will not close around the sausage completely.

Wrap each date in one of the half slices of bacon and stand up in a baking dish small enough to hold the dates upright. Depending on the number of dates you are preparing a small to medium Pyrex works great for this, but you could also bake them in a pie pan. 

Bake dates for 40 minutes.  These can be prepared ahead of time, frozen, and rewarmed in the microwave for 1.5 minutes.  It’s great to have a stash in the freezer for unexpected guests.

Slightly adapted from Everyday Paleo by Sarah Fragoso