All you followers have probably put together that I kind of like to spend time in the kitchen. I don't really sit in front of the food network for hours a day, or read up on cooking books and magazines. What I generally do is come up with some idea, or take someone else's idea, and then just try to figure it out. For the longest time cooking was something I did for just myself, then for myself and my girl, and while I always wanted to eat good tasting food, I knew it wasn't the end of the world if the dish came out a little wonky. And I've had pretty good success! I am a keep-it-simple type of cook who looks to very slight touches and additions to a classic ingredient to make it new.
I know at some point in my life that I will "retire" to a small restaurant or something of the sort. I just love creating things way too much to have it not be a part of my life. With that in mind, I have actually written up about 4 different ways to involve cooking as part of my life in a greater way than just cooking for me and the ones closest to me. And this weekend was the first step in breaking into that world! A couple weeks back my housemate Cullen proposed we whip up a dish and enjoy dinner together. He suggested stuffed peppers and my mind went wild with all the options of how to do this. A seasoned up some grass-fed ground beef, mixed in chopped bacon, and then cracked an egg over it at the end. Placed it all on top of a bed of sautéed spinach and some avocado and came up with this:
When Cullen posted it to Facebook and someone commented that they wish we would cook for them, it hit me that we should begin a little project. Cullen and I could host a fine-dining experience in the comfort of your own home with a group of your closest friends. We would cook up a 3-course, Paleo-friendly meal, pair each course with hand-selected wine, and ther you have it; the perfect evening! We needed to test it out.
So we invited our closest friends for a trial run. Dress to impress, bring nothing else but your hungry stomachs and the excitement of feasting on incredibly healthy, wonderfully tasting food! Yep, we really talked it up. Now all we had to do was follow through and not suck. We actually thought it'd be funny just to heat up a crappy pizza or something and play it like we really took the time to figure out the perfect meal, but that joke ran its course and we really did prepare something interesting.
Bacon-wrapped scallops with a kick of cayenne and an avocado-lime-tequilla paste
Broiled sirloin over cinnamon and spice mashed sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts with a jalepeno glaze
(for our non-red meat eater I offered: pan-cooked chicken breast in coconut oil w/ specially prepared Brussels sprouts)
Warm almond butter-stuffed dates with a chilled strawberry and coconut oil topping
I cannot express how well all this went. To be totally honest, I would have spiced the sweet potatoes a tad more, but besides that, everything turned out freaking perfect. The wines were paired wonderfully. The guests had a night filled with awesome conversation and story-telling at the table. Cullen and I worked seamlessly in the kitchen together and everyone ate their fill and enjoyed each bite. I went to bed afterwards feeling this immense sense of accomplishment that I found something that I am truly passionate about in life. As you all know, I love to do things and share them with people with the hopes that I can motivate and inspire. I love health and learning all about new, fun ways to be healthy while living an exciting life. I love food and the effects it has on your life, inside and out. And I was able to share a passion of mine with a group of people, show them that extremely healthy food can taste wonderful, and walk away feeling like made some form of positive impact.
Cullen and I will be officially starting our journey into at-home fine-dining very, very soon. So if you live in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, are interested in the best ingredients and having a formal night with friends and/or family in the comfort of your own home; there is a new option in town for you!
Here's to following your passions!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
For a bit over a week now I have been back on eating nice and clean. In doing so, my kitchen time has increased quite a bit and I have come up with a few fun creations. For those of you who have been following this blog for a while, you might remember the old Courageous Meals posts I began doing back when I moved to California. Well, now that I'm back in the kitchen thinking up different creations, I thought I'd reintroduce a couple of those into my posting (the main thing is to just get back to regular posting!), This past week, while very good on the nutrition front, I've been completely out of the gym. I intentionally took a couple extra days off from training, then, got pretty sick and ended up taking the entire week off. I am super excited to get back onto the program this coming week, along with the new-found wonderful meal plan; I am expecting great things!
So, on to a few of the meals I came up with! First, at the start of this whole thing, I was strolling through Whole Foods picking up some essentials, and decided I'd just grab a few things, head back to the house and see what i could make! This ended up being a really fun time. I literally had a bag full of wonderful food, laid it all on the counter and let my imagination run wild, and came up with the following:
Chicken sausage and shrimp collard green wraps
I broiled some great chicken sausage (I learned from my good friend who worked at Whole Foods for a while that their personal sausages are in fact, organic, free-range ground chicken, spices and pork casing, that's it. Totally cool with that!). Heated up some pre-cooked shrimp, chopped up tomato's, onions and jalapenos and put the mess into a large collard green leaf. Wrapped it up and boom, there's your meal! It turned out to be unreal! After that, it was open season in my brain for coming up with some new things (new for me at least, I am pretty sure I have been beat to the punch with all my ideas long ago, but I just don't research this stuff enough, so, I like taking the credit!)
Steak tip over eggs w/ coconut wasabi and asparagus
My lack of grill is killing me, so, it was back to the broiler for the meat. To add to the fun, I cooked up a couple eggs over easy in a pan with coconut oil and steamed the asparagus. The kick to the meal was the wasabi. I found a great little powder at Whole Foods, added water and coconut oil and just like that, a slightly sweet, crazy spicy paste to throw on top of most meats! So damn good! Some great red meat meals led me to realize that I hadn't cooked up chicken in a while, so, I thought I'd try something great!
Bacon-wrapped chicken with Brussels sprouts
Yep, back to the broiler for this, again, this lack of grill is killing me! Either way, I wrapped up my 3-inch cuts of chicken with some thick cut bacon and threw it in the oven for a good 20 minutes. This was paired with halved Brussels sprouts cooked in coconut oil along with some almond slivers. Yet again, another awesome meal (Lindsey is the Brussels sprouts genius of the household by the way, it's great!). But what about a different style of dinner, like a soup you say?
Old Fashioned Chicken Soup
Cubed up a bunch of chicken, cut up carrots, celery, onion and butternut squash along with some finely chopped bacon, and threw the whole sh'bang into a pot with a mixture of chicken and vegetable broth and water. Simmered it for a good 25 minutes and we had a perfect soup for a cold Sunday night! But what about the sweet tooth? My plan and goals for the next few weeks is to avoid this sort of thing as to control my emotional desire for sugar in certain situations (...); but, yesterday Lindsey and I went to a Halloween party and we needed to bring something perfect!
Almond Butter Cups
This was the one that everyone on Facebook wanted to know all about! Go figure, right? You have all this wonderfully good, healthy food posted up, then you post of dessert and get bombarded with questions as to how to make it! Well, if you want to make a quick buck, start a dessert company I guess. Either way, it was super easy (time consuming and messy yes, but easy)! I'll give a little more detail on this one for you all then. And of course, you can expect a few super detailed Courageous Meals posts over the coming month. A note to make before all this: you can use any type of chocolate, depends your taste.
I bag semi-sweet dark chocolate pieces
1 bottle almond butter
Small paper muffin holder things
Put all the chocolate in a large bowl or plate, then place over a small pot with a little water in it. But it on the stove and bring the water to a boil. This will slowly melt the chocolate. As this is happening, take about a cup or two of almond butter into a bowl, add about a quarter cut coconut, 2 tbsp cinnamon and 1 tbsp nutmeg, mix it all up and set aside.
Once the chocolate is melted, let cool for a minute or two, then take about 2 tbsp and pour into the muffin holder things. Use the back of a spoon to coat the whole paper thing as best you can (this is the messy, time-consuming, annoying part). I made about 15 in my batch, just as a heads up. Once the paper things are all coated, set them in the fridge to harden up.
Once they are hardened up, add a couple tbsp of the almond butter mixture into each cup, then coat the top of it with another tbsp or two of chocolate (you may have to re-heat the stuff). Again, use the spoon to make sure the entire top is coated, then, if you want to be pretty about it, add a little swirl to the top to make it look professional! Pop in the fridge and about 15 minutes later you have the perfect Almond Butter Cup! You can make this as healthy or unhealthy as you want really. Mine were pretty damn good healthy for a dessert. No added sugar, just the smallest amount in the dark chocolate. The spices and coconut in the almond butter added a bit of a kick to the whole thing that o think really made these things that much better. Now I am really curious about making these with zero sugar. I'm sure they'll be nasty, but it's worth a try! Let me know how yours turn out!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
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