May. 5, 2015

Savory Main Dishes

Every one of these recipes have nutritional benefits in mind. If there is a place to insert an extra healthy element, then it's in there.

Turkey and Sweet Potato Enchiladas
These creamy enchiladas pack a nutritional boost with vegetables in the sauce and the filling.
Yield - 1 large baking dish rolled enchiladas
Time - Preparation 30 min. to 1 hour depending on if turkey is precooked - Bake time 30-40 min
Oven Temperature - 350 F
Equipment - large saute pan or frying pan, baking dish, stock pot or pressure cooker if cooking turkey from fresh, blender or food processor
1-2 cups shredded turkey plus some reserved broth
corn tortillas (the number depends on how much they are filled)
1-large onion, diced
4-6 garlic cloves, diced
1 - large white sweet potato (or color of choice), diced
1 - # 2 size can of Mexican style stewed tomatoes
1-2 Tbs tomato paste
1- 4 oz can green chilies (hatch or jalapeño)
1/2 cup Mexican style sour cream (or Greek style yogurt)
1 bag shredded Mexican style cheese blend
to taste- cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, salt, pepper
juice of 1 lime
1/2 bunch cilantro
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 cup fresh or frozen chopped kale
avacodo or oil of choice for saute pan
Garnishes of choice - suggest toasted pine nuts, avocado, salsa, sour cream, cilantro
Prepare the turkey
If you are using left over shredded turkey, moisten with enough warm broth or water just to barely cover and let sit for 10-15 minutes to rehydrate.
I made this whole pan of enchiladas with the meat from a single turkey leg and thigh. I poached the leg and thigh in the pressure cooker with a little salted water. Once it was cool, I removed the skin and separated the meat from the bone.
Prepare the sauce
Bring your saute pan to medium heat, add oil and onions.When the onions are translucent, add the garlic, sweet potato dices, and light sprinkle of Kosher salt. As the pan starts to get dry, add a small amount of broth to deglase the pan and moisten the mix. Repeat as necessary until the sweet potatoes are tender. Add the canned tomatoes,canned chilies, tomato paste, and spices and simmer until well cooked out (10-15 min.), checking the spice levels as you go. Once you are happy with the flavors, add the cilantro, lime juice and sour cream and allow the mixture to cool a bit. Transfer 3/4 of the mix to a blender and puree (caution hot!) until completely smooth. Pour half out to a shallow dish for preparing the tortillas.
Prepare the filling
Your filling is nearly done. Return the reserved sweet potato mixture in the pan to the heat and add the turkey, pre-cooked corn and kale. Once everything is warmed through, add half of the shredded cheeseand mix through. Add some fresh chopped cilantro if you wish.
Roll the enchiladas
Put a non-stick fry pan on low heat and warm each tortilla before using. Once a tortilla is warm and supple, dip in to the dish of sauce to coat both sides. Lay the wet tortilla in a baking dish, such as a 9"x13", and spoon the desired amount of filling along the midline. Roll the tortilla and leave seam side down. Repeat the process and line up in the pan two across and how many ever you can fit lengthwise. Once you have all rolled tortillas filling the pan, pour the rest of the sauce over the top. Sprinkle the rest of the shredded cheese evenly across the top and cover the pan with aluminum foil. Place in the preheated oven and let cook approximately 15-20 minutes. Uncover for another 10 minutes and let the cheese begin to brown slightly.Times will depend on your oven. Garnish as desired.

Beef in Chocolate Stout Stew served with Bacon and Stout Brussel Sprouts

By Valerie Harris

Spring is here….at least on the West Coast.  Spring always makes me think of tender shoots, baby nettles, morel mushrooms, peas and baby potatoes. Of course, I start craving Irish food as March wears on. Tonight I had Beef in Guinness Stew in my head as I eyeballed some beautiful, pastured organic beef. Stew is one of those great dishes where you can take a small amount of meat and stretch is out with so many great veggies and savory gravy. I also spied some organic, pastured uncured bacon. I do not indulge in bacon often but when I do, I insist on nitrate and chemical free.  It was the trip to the beer case where my dinner idea took a bit of a directional change. I found a yummy looking organic chocolate stout, hmmmmm, experiment time.

 I decided to go with that chocolate and even enhance it. I upped the ante by dusting the beef in a cacao and dark chocolate powder to re-enforce the chocolate base. Since this stew contains a stout, it definitely has a little bitter note. This came out just slightly sweeter than a traditional Beef in Guinness , and a nice dollop of sour cream and fresh parsley to garnish added a perfect foil, much like cream in your coffee.

 I had planned to fix some cabbage as a side dish until I spotted some perfect Brussel sprouts. I thought that would be a nice alternative but I was reluctant to cook the sprouts in the stew. I cannot stand mushy Brussel sprouts. Instead, I caramelized them in a cast iron frying pan with some bacon. After the cut side was toasty brown, I flipped them and added a small amount of the stout before covering with a lid to steam briefly. Leaving them slightly al dente makes sprouts much more appealing.

So, here is my take on

 Beef in Chocolate Stout Stew served with Bacon and Stout Brussel Sprouts

8-10 servings

3-4 pieces of good bacon cut in to small pieces

1lb of beef stew meat cut in to bite sized pieces

1 large diced onion

3-4 celery ribs cut in to larger slices

1 cup trimmed whole button mushrooms

2-3 large peeled and chunked carrots

1-2 peeled and chunked parsnips

1-2 tender chunked turnip

2 cups of baby potatoes, cut in half

½ cup sliced green beans

½ cup frozen or fresh green peas

550 ml. Chocolate Stout - amount depending on taste (reserve a little for sprouts)

1 - 6 oz. can tomato paste

1-32 oz. box organic beef broth

½-cup brewed coffee

½ cup potato starch (alternatives can be all purpose flour, cornstarch, tapioca starch, sweet rice flour)

½ cup coco powder (I used Dagoba Organic cacao with dark chocolate and cane sugar)

1 Tbs. avocado or olive oil

2 Tbs. butter

1 Tbs. Balsamic syrup

Kosher salt to taste

2 tsp. garlic powder

Black pepper

Fresh or dried herbs – thyme and rosemary  

1 bundle fresh Italian flat leafed parsley, minced

Sour cream to garnish

Prepare your vegetables while you meat comes up to room temperature. Start your bacon rendering in an uncovered Dutch oven. Add the onions, celery and mushrooms with a little sprinkle of salt. Sweat the veg down until about half cooked and scoop back out and set aside. Turn heat off until you are ready to brown the meat. Place your flour of choice, coco powder, garlic powder, black pepper, and large pinch of salt in to a bag that is big enough to shake the meat. Mix with a good shake and then drop in the meat. Shake to coat all pieces well (save the excess coating flour).  Turn the heat to med-high and add the oil. When the oil is hot, place the pieces in the bottom of the pan, taking care not to crowd the pan. As soon as a side is brown, turn to the other side. Watch this process closely so the sugar and the coco do not burn and become too bitter. Once the meat has browned, deglaze the pan with about half of the beer, half the beef broth,and the brewed coffee.  Add the tomato paste, the Balsamic vinegar, a handful of the parsley and your fresh or dried herbs. Also, add the rest of the seasoning flour from your shaking bag.  Put on the lid, reduce the heat to medium – low, and allow the meat to braise for approximately 20 minutes. Add the veg with the exception of the beans and peas, and the rest of the beef broth. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer until the veg are tender. Now it is time to start evaluating the flavor and add more beer and or seasoning as needed. If you add more beer then you need to make sure there is still enough cooking time to mellow out the raw alcohol taste. Add the green beans and another handful of parsley. Simmer at a low bubble until it feels done. Stir in the butter and the frozen peas. Garnish the stew with your bacon and stout Brussel sprouts. Serve with a generous dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of fresh parsley.

Bacon and Stout Brussel Sprouts

1 lb. Brussel Sprouts cut in half

3 strips bacon cut in to lardons

¼-1/2 cup chocolate stout

Kosher salt to taste

Render the bacon in a heavy skillet and remove the bacon once it is cooked but reserving the fat in the pan. Place the sprouts cut side down and leave until they achieve a nice golden brown. Roll them over, add the bacon back in and deglaze the pan. Immediately cover pan with a lid and let steam for several minutes. Check frequently, testing for doneness. They can go from al dente to mushy quickly so watch close. Season to taste.

Ginger Garlic Grass Fed Beef Stir Fry

by Valerie Harris

 I love doing a quick veggie filled stir fry. If I go shopping for all the various ingredients I need, I can sometimes get carried away. Suddenly I have a fifty ingredient gallon of stir fry on my hands. In reality, if you keep vegetables at home and a some condiments in the cupboard and fridge, you can probably whip up a great stir fry most any time. I have re-trained my brain to take a little inventory of my fridge and cupboard and use what I have on hand before going crazy with the shopping. Tonight I had some very nice lean, local ground beef. A few veggies from the fridge and a couple of cans in the cupboard and I had a savory, spicy stir fry. Normally when I stir fry a meat, I do it early in the process. I reversed the order this time since I was using ground beef and even though it was lean, it does produce juice. I took advantage of that juice to build my sauce. I paired this stir fry with some sesame brown rice.


1 lb organic grass fed lean ground beef

2-3” peeled ginger sliced in to matchsticks

4-5 large peeled and minced garlic cloves

1 bulb end of stalk of lemon grass, peeled and finely chopped (optional if you have it)

1 tablespoon of pickled jalapeno, chopped (optional)

Kosher salt

wok oil or peanut oil

I med large diced onion of choice

several sliced button mushrooms

2 bell peppers color of your choice, sliced in to matchsticks

2 large carrots peeled and sliced on the bias

handful of bean sprouts

1 small can of baby corn

1 small can of bamboo shoots

1/4-1/2 cup of frozen peas

sesame oil

Soy Sauce

Sweet Chili sauce (options – garlic chili paste, Siracha)

1 handful of chopped cilantro


Get your wok or saute pan fairly hot and add a couple of teaspoons of wok oil. Start with your aromatics (ginger, garlic, lemongrass and onion) sprinkled lightly with salt and tossed quickly until soft. Remove from wok and place in to large holding bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Renew oil if needed and then proceed with the harder, dryer vegetables (peppers and carrots). Once again, sprinkle lightly with salt. Stir fry just until tender but still retaining some crunch. They will continue to soften some in the holding bowl. Next cook the mushrooms and then add the sprouts and a little salt. The last vegetables to cook are the wetter, drained canned vegetables and pickled jalapenos (if you are using them). They don't really need to cook, rather just heat through. No need to add salt and the little bit of wetness will start deglazing the pan. At the very end, sprinkle a little soy sauce for additional degalzing and then scrape it all in to the bowl. Reapply oil to your scraped empty wok and add the ground beef. I keep it in a little larger chunks rather than in to a fine grind. As the meat is getting close to completely cooked evaluate how much juice and fat you have surrounding the meat. If it looks particularly greasy, you may want to pour off some juice. If your meat is leaner, let the juice thicken up just a bit and then turn off the heat. Immediately add the chili sauce and soy sauce to taste. If you are unsure of how much, start with a scant tablespoon and taste. You are checking for salt level and spice level. Remember that you have been adding a small amount of salt to the veg as you built your dish so don't over salt the meat with the soy sauce. The carried over heat should thicken your sauce up almost immediately. Add a drizzle of good toasted sesame oil and throw in your handful of chopped cilantro and frozen peas. Add the meat to the veg mix and you are ready to serve.

Makes four large servings

* To make gluten free, replace the soy sauce with a tamarind based "soy sauce"




Shrimp in Coconut Green Curry with Ginger Lime Cauliflower "Rice"

Shrimp in  Coconut Green Curry served over Ginger Lime Cauliflower "Rice"

By Valerie Harris

If you are anything like me, the thought of a big aromatic bowl of fluffy white rice sounds like heaven. Sadly, I absolutely do not need all those carb calories which will happily convert to fat in the blink of an eye. Besides, I am on a grain fast for a few months while I figure out some food allergy issues. So if I can't have the comfort, I go for big flavor. Green Coconut Curry is bold and complex, creamy and as hot (or not) as you like. But I still want my rice to accompany it. Cauliflower rice is my stand in. Super easy, super quick. A few stir in ingredients lends it some aroma that can be reminiscent of a Jasmin rice. So allow me to share how I concocted up dinner tonight. This is not an exact recipe because there are so many ways you can go with it. Instead I will share my steps involved for an exotic and satisfying dish.

Ginger Lime Cauliflower "Rice"

1 head of cauliflower

coconut oil

1 knob of fresh ginger

zest of 1 lime

1 teaspoon of toasted seseme oil

kosher salt to taste

juice of 1/2 lime

Start with a nice white organic head of cauliflower. If you want to wash it give enough time to let is drain and dry off well before using it. Cut the florets off the stem and put them in to a food processor with a blade. With a few quick pulses the florets will be riced. How far you go is up to you. I typically stop when they are a little larger than the example in the photo. I let them go far enough tonight that it resembles quinoa. Heat your saute pan with med-high heat and once it is warm add a spoonful of coconut oil and a little minced fresh ginger. As soon as it is melted add your riced cauliflower for a very quick saute. Toss or stir frequently so the cauliflower isn't sitting still for very long, so as not to brown. It will cook very quickly so keep a close eye on it. The goal is to have it tender enough to eat and be heated through but not cooked to mush. Test for doneness in a couple of minutes and either reduce or turn off the heat if you a getting close. Now is when I salt to taste and what ever aromatics I want to add. In this case I added the fresh zest of one lime and a nice swirl of toasted sesame oil. Toss and taste and adjust seasoning to taste. To finish I added the juice of 1/2 of a small lime. Don't get carried away with liquids or it will get soggy.

Shrimp with Coconut Green Curry

1 lb raw peeled and deveined shrimp

2 carrosts peeled and sliced on the bias

4 spring onions

7oz can of baby corn

1 cup fresh bean sprouts

1 deseeded Thai chili

13.5 oz can of unsweetened coconut milk

Juice of 1 lime


1 large knob of peeled and minced ginger

1 peeled and chopped lemon grass stalk

2 large peeled garlic toes

4-5 fresh kefir lime leaves chopped

4-5 Thai or green basil

small bundle of cilantro and stalks

kosher salt


Consider any number of optinal vegetables or mushrooms and add in flavorings such as fish sauce or tamarid.

There are some really nice ready made curry pastes available if you need it quick but then you miss out on the fun of making your own. I was lucky to have most of the ingredients on hand but I was unable to find any Thai basil. I made do with some fresh Italian basil instead. I also reconstituted some dried kefir lime leaves with pretty good results but if you can get them, fresh is best. I decided to go old school and grind my paste together with a motor and pestle. But using my bullet or a spice grinder has worked really well in the past. I chose to use fresh peeled ginger, peeled and chopped lemon grass, peeled fresh garlic, chopped kefir lime leaves, several sprigs of cilantro and several large basil leaves. I sprinkled a kosher salt over it all and added two teaspoons of coconut oil to help emulsify everything together. Grind and stir everything until you have a nice fine paste. Set aside while you prepare your veg and shrimp. This is where you can customize your veg choices to whatever you like. Tonight I chose to keep it simple; a couple of carrots, spring onion, baby corn and bean sprouts. Peel and devein your thawed shrimp. Get your wok hot over med-high heat and add about a tablespoon of coconut oil. Now add your curry paste and quickly stir it to heat through. If you want heat in your curry this is where you would add your de-seeded and chopped Thai chili. When your mixture is hot and bubbling, add your shrimp. Toss your shrimp until they are getting pink but not cooked completely through. Add your longest cooking veg and keep stir frying until you have them all in (except the sprouts). Add a can of unsweetened coconut milk and mix all together. Reduce the heat and let simmer until the vegetables are tender and the shrimp are cooked through. Add the bean sprouts and the juice of one lime. Check your seasoning and adjust your salt as needed. You could also add some fish sauce for a tart salty kick or a little tamarid sauce for a sour note. Serve with your cauliflower rice and garnish with fresh cilantro and torn basil. Enjoy!

cauliflower rice in progress

aromatics ready to grind

grind to a paste

start the cooking with your paste.

Add in your shrimp then your veg. Finish with liquids.