when in doubt, make it up

11.08.2011

disclaimer: 
i do not claim to be an amazing cook, an expert on all things culinary, or a mastermind of knowing which spices pair well with what meats.
i kind of just wing it and hope it doesn't taste like cat food. 
i've had pretty good results with this approach, though
with probably 80% of the meals being edible
and the other 20% never to be spoken of again

however, this making up of my own recipes 
or creating a new interpretation of a classic dish
is something i am newly confident in doing.
let me tell you a secret: i used to cook only two things
grilled shrimp with veggies
grilled chicken with veggies
all on my trusty george foreman grill
just ask mr. c....
when we first started dating he was up to his eyeballs in those two dishes
and always complimented my "grilling" abilities.
what a sweet heart.

but when i would venture away from "little george" and try to cook, say, beef or pork...
TOTAL DISASTER
i always seemed to pick the most complicated recipe 
that called for the most obscure ingredients 
and had a martha stewart/iron chef level of difficulty
so you can imagine what happened when i strayed from the recipe, even in the slightest:
straight-up cat food.

then one day, after overcooking a pound of shrimp to the consistency of rubber dog toys
i had a flashback all the way to senior year of high school
sitting in culinary arts class 
(totally real, we also had a "horticulture" class so ask me about live oak trees sometime)
and listening to our teacher talk about cooking with your instincts
being confident in your abilities
and how straying from the recipe sometimes gives you the best results.
he also taught us something that i still use today 
(can't say the same for calculus)
he called it "the layer theory"
and it WORKS

it's basically the idea that when adding seasonings, oils, stock, etc. to your dish
you add a layer of each
not a solid, can't-see-through-it layer
but just a quick pass of your hand over the bowl or pan
repeated once or twice depending on the size of what is being seasoned.
not to go all hippie on you here, but you just have to kind of feel it
(that and over-salt a dish a few times...then you'll get it)
so in the recipe below, when i say "season as desired"
that's what i mean
eyeballing it usually works, but if you want to be safe just add a little at a time. 
 
anyway, all of that back story and rambling has a point
a few months after mr. c was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes
we decided to make a big change
he was tired of 4 shots a day
up and down blood sugar
and generally feeling like crap.
so, we shifted the way we ate and began to closely follow the Paleo lifestyle
(a subject i could go on and on about but it's pretty simple: meat, fruits, veggies. that's it.)
and it has worked WONDERS for his health, as well as my own.
no more shots.
no more feeling like crap.

one of the best parts of eating this way is that i've gotten the opportunity 
to really learn something new by reinterpreting dishes with Paleo-friendly ingredients
and letting my creativity and confidence in the kitchen grow.
plus, Paleo makes it pretty easy...if you're stumped for ideas
you can't go wrong throwing a bunch of veggies and good quality meat together
i've learned to rely less on by-the-book recipes
and to just go with what works, and what tastes good.

so, if you're still reading this novel 
enjoy some pics of a recipe i dreamed up last night
a variation on a classic
and maybe my favorite Paleo dish i have made to date:
bell peppers stuffed with cauliflower "rice" and beef with almond flour crust
ingredients
heat your oven to 415 degrees

 with a food processor or blender you can get the cauliflower to the consistency of rice/cous cous
just keep an eye on it so that it doesn't start to puree. it should look like this:


brown the meat, adding any seasonings you like. salt, pepper, rosemary, and chili powder 
were my choices. 
while the meat is browning, put the riced cauliflower into a pot
and add in minced garlic and 1/2 an onion, also minced
pour in some chicken stock and olive oil
(you don't want it to be liquidy...just a little mushy)
and season as desired. 
heat on medium, stirring occasionally. 

 hollow out your peppers, making sure to remove all seeds

when the meat is browned and the cauli mixture warm, mix it all together. 
add the cauli mix little by little to get the right ratio.

 for the crust topping: mix almond flour, salt, pepper, chili powder, and a little bit of cayenne.
to help bind it i added a little bit of bacon fat and mixed well
(do not gasp in horror, read about the advantages of animal lard here)

stuff the peppers generously and place in a glass or ceramic baking dish
ALWAYS make sure to add a layer of water to the dish to keep the peppers tender 
and prevent burning 

top the peppers with the crust mixture

if you have a covered baking dish, great! it will help seal in the flavors even more.

 mine stayed in the oven for 35 minutes, until the skin of the pepper could be easily punctured with a fork and the crust had begun to brown.

VOILA! 
delicious, good for you, grain and dairy-free stuffed peppers.
they were even better as leftovers for lunch today. 

little known fact: puppies make great sous-chefs!
xoxo

5 comments:

  1. This looks amazing! Definitely bookmarking to try it.

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  3. This sounds incredibly delicious :) You did a wonderful job! xoxo

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  4. This looks so good! Some people are just born with an instinct for cooking. Looks like you have it!
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