sweet potato with sautéed tomatoes and figs

Eating clean is an experiment in texture and flavor. You experiment with combinations you wouldn’t usually try because usually you’d have a Everything bagel slathered with cream cheese. Eating clean takes discipline.
mmmm. cream cheese . . . 

Ahem. Right. Clean eating.

It’s September second and the inter-webs are flooded with words about and recipes for pumpkin spice. I was initially thrilled, (because PUMPKIN SPICE!) and then amused, and then alarmed. My thoughts of adding to the glut here at EatWriteRepeat dissipated because of the overwhelming backlash. I had no idea pumpkin spice was such a heated topic! I mean, I know it’s all about rushing the season and what not, but good grief. No one grows this worked up over Christmas decor before Thanksgiving. The injustice!

Anyway. I’ll spare us all the drama. Here’s a sweet-potato recipe instead. Be warned though, I’m working on a savory pumpkin soup recipe for as soon as the temperatures dip a bit. And there’s a good possibility I’ll run by Starbucks this afternoon. *wink*

BAKED SWEET POTATO WITH SAUTÉED BABY TOMATOES AND FIGS

2 sweet potatoes
2 teaspoons clarified butter
1/2 cup baby tomatoes—halved (the Constellation mix is my fav)
6-8 fresh figs—halved
dash of salt
dash of pepper
dash of cinnamon

Bake sweet potatoes in the oven at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes. Until the skin is slightly crisped and the potato pierces easily with a fork.

In a pan, over medium heat, melt 2 teaspoons clarified butter. Toss tomatoes and figs into the pan with salt, pepper and cinnamon. Sauté until soft and the juice from the fruit is beginning to caramelize.

Spoon over baked sweet potato and serve warm.

• Makes two servings

tomato basil salsa over chicken breast

I wish I could say something poetic about the glut of tomatoes in my garden this year. But alas, I can not. Because I got a harvest totaling six tomatoes. Six. I had twelve plants of all different varieties, but between the unnaturally cool spring, the obnoxious amount of rain we’ve had, and my lack of attention to the garden as of late, the tomatoes plants all bit the dust.

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So. The six fruits I managed to grow are precious to me.
I felt like I needed to prelude with this because there are a myriad of ways to enjoy fresh tomatoes. (Tomato sandwiches are one of my favorite!) And yet I have chosen to take four of my six and blend them into a sautéed tomato and basil salsa.
But fear not. It’s that good and worth each precious fruit I spent. In addition to which, this recipe is whole 30 friendly.

I mixed up the salsa one morning in about twenty minutes (before I made coffee even!) and stuck it in the fridge for later use. Tonight it was simmered over medium heat until it began to resemble a sauce more than a salsa, and poured lavishly over grilled chicken breast. Summer in its zenith.

The key to eating clean is simplicity and preparedness. If a recipe takes too long to make or is too fussy, then I’m liable to cram fistfuls of chips or thick slices of cheese into my mouth while I’m making dinner because I’m too ravenous to wait. There goes Whole 30. Oops.
So:
Be prepared.
Keep it simple.

This recipe does both. I used a food processor to finish the dicing process for me and pulsed the ingredients below a few times before tasting and adding salt and pepper. You can use a knife and dice each item on its own as well, combining everything in a mixing bowl. Either way, this recipe is diverse, keeps well in the fridge, can be used hot or cold, and is worth the expenditure of four precious garden tomatoes.
Enjoy!

TOMATO BASIL SALSA

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4 medium tomatoes, cubed.
1/2 cup basil leaves
1 whole onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, diced
dash of salt
dash of pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil

 

deviled eggs

I didn’t color Easter eggs with my kids this year. I am one third raging Mom guilt, one third relief (I didn’t have to clean up the chaotic mess!), and a final third healthier for not having to digest the dye which somehow manages to seep through the shells into my boiled eggs.
Emotions in thirds.
I love fractions.

So, when it comes to logical conclusions, it made sense to boil all the eggs I had left post Easter, and devil them. Is ‘devil’ a verb? To devil. Yes. Okay. The grammar girl in me is satisfied.

For your own satisfaction: Deviled Eggs, traditional style (and Whole 30 friendly!).

Enjoy!

DEVILED EGGS
 

6 eggs (or more if you’re serving a crowd)
Mayo (this is my favorite recipe!)
a dash of salt
a sprinkle of paprika

Boil eggs until hard. About 1.5 minute per egg, so for a batch of six eggs, 8-9 minutes. Adjust your time accordingly.

Once your eggs are boiled, drain off the hot water and cool them down ( I flood my pot and freshly boiled eggs with cold tap water) and then peel them.

Slice the cooled, peeled eggs in half, the long way, and scoop the yoke into a small mixing bowl. And then using a fork, (or if you prefer your deviled egg filling extra smooth—a hand mixer) mash the yokes until smooth. Add about 1 part mayo per three parts egg yokes. So if you end up with about 1 cup of mashed yoke, add 1/3 cup mayo. Blend well, add a dash of salt until the flavor is to your liking, and then with a small spoon (I use a baby spoon because I have a whole bunch of those on hand), scoop a dollop of yoke back into the empty egg. Do with with all of the eggs—you may have yoke filling left over (perfect for a slice of toast!). Top with a sprinkle of paprika and serve chilled.

 

easy egg-drop soup

Sometimes you need a bowl of soup. A quick one.
But soup is notorious (or is nefarious a better word?) for being best when cooked for all the hours over low heat.
Whatever.
I don’t have time for that when I’m hangry. (My auto-correct keeps trying to change that to “hungry” but I really do mean hangry).

So here you go. A soup that takes literally five minutes, one sauce pan, and an egg to whip up. “Easy” seems too descriptive a word. But “tasty?” Now that word doesn’t even come close.

Enjoy.

EASY EGG-DROP SOUP

 In a saucepan heat 2 cups of chicken stock to boiling. Add a dash of salt. Turn burner off.
In a small bowl, whisk 1 egg until frothy and then gently and slowly pour the egg into the hot (but no longer boiling) stock. stir gently with a soft spatula and then let sit for three minutes. Serve topped with diced scallions or other favorite herb blend.

carrot and parsnip mash

Sometimes mashed potatoes are the best thing in the history of ever. And sometimes they aren’t. —Like when you’re doing Whole30. Mashed sweet potatoes are a nice substitute, but they are so . . . sweet.
So.
Here’s a savory substitute to gorgeous, fluffy, buttery mashed potatoes that is not only better for you, but also fluffy and gorgeous, pretty to look at, and entirely vegetable-based. I threw in a little coconut cream to make things extra decadent.
Want to make it more of a meal? Throw on a soft egg or a steak. BOOM.
Enjoy!

CARROT AND PARSNIP MASH

6 carrots, peeled, and chopped
6 parsnips, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup coconut cream
1 teaspoon onion flakes
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot boil chopped carrots and parsnips until fork-tender, just as you would potatoes. Drain and return veggies to pot. Add coconut cream, onion flakes, salt and pepper, and using either a hand-held beater or immersion blender, whirl until the veggies begin to soften and blend together. I like my mash a little chunky. A few pieces of vegetables mixed in with mash give this dish texture and color. But if you prefer them light and cloud-fluffy, continue whipping/blending until smooth.
Serve as a side with a pat of butter or a dollop of Greek yogurt.

making steak

I love a good steak. I don’t eat a ton of red meat, but sometimes I crave a steak like whoa.


I have been around the block searching for the perfect cut/brand. I’ve made and have eaten a lot of organic grass-fed steaks prepared in many MANY different ways. I’ve worked with local butcher shops and grocery store meat departments, and I’ve worked with farmers and hunters, all in an effort to find a consistently good, reasonably priced steak—beef, bison, venison, or elk.

My goal has been to find a cut/brand of meat I can return to and always end up with a fork-tender, juicy steak on my plate at the end of the night. You’d be surprised how difficult this is! *feigns fatigue* It’s a tough job but someone has to do it.

I am happy to report that I’ve finally stumbled upon a consistently good steak. Please note, this is not an affiliate post. I’m gaining absolutely nothing in mentioning brand names here. This is for sharing purposes only: When you find a good thing, don’t keep it to yourself, right? So here goes.

No Name Steaks. Petite cut.

I know. I know. Your eyebrows are furrowed. Frozen steaks that come in a box? Really?
Really.
Guys, I’m picky. I like my steaks rare/med-rare and it can’t taste old or gamey. I don’t want stringy or mealy meat. I need to be able to cut it with a fork or slice it super thin without having it fall apart. I’ve taken time to arrive at this decision, I’ve cooked and served exclusively No Name steaks for over a year now as I have come to this decision, and I don’t share it lightly. So there you go! They are found in almost every grocery store across the country.

On to the recipe!

The methods for preparing a steak are endless and if you google “steak” you’ll come up with enough reading material to last you the rest of your life. So forgive the addition to the glut, but if you’re looking for a totally basic, perfect-every-time, weekday-steak cooking method, this is it.

Start with a hot skillet.
When cooking meat, cast iron wins every time. Melt one tablespoon clarified butter in the bottom of the pan and coat evenly. You’re going to sear your steak, but you don’t want it sticking to the pan. If you like garlic or onions on your meat, now’s the time to throw some in the pan. They can cook right along with your meat.

Once the pan is hot (medium-high) lay your cuts in the bottom of the pan and let them sear (bubbling and hissing against the pan) for a couple of minutes. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Then with a tongs, turn and sear the other side. Again, sprinkle with salt and pepper.

I like my steak rare/med-rare, which means the inside of the steak is still red and juicy, but hot. This takes about 4 minutes per side. My husband likes his a little more done. about 5 minutes per side. However you like your steak, it’s going to be a personal preference thing and you’ll have to figure out exactly the time it takes, per side, to cook your steak to your liking. You can cut into your cooking steak to examine the color/doneness of the meat while it cooks and determine what works best for you.
And here is a rough guide (from howtocookasteak.com) that will also help.

steakchart

When your meat is cooked to the desired amount of doneness, remove it from the pan, set it on a cutting board and allow it it sit for 5-8 minutes, resting and redistributing the juices. This is the perfect time to sear a few vegetables (in the same pan you just cooked your steak—yay cooking juices!) or cook a soft egg to throw on top of or beside your steak.

Steak is mostly about preference. So experiment, have fun, and enjoy!

guacamole and carrot sticks

Snacking is an art form in my mind and ought to be practiced often. As such, one might as well snack right. Whole30 has some great snacking options if you can force yourself to see past the typical crackers and cheese route. And guacamole and carrot sticks are a perfect option in this regard.

Whenever I’m on the road, this is my go-to snack. It’s portable, rich in flavor, filling, and good for you. Does colorful count? Let’s go with colorful too. Totally counts.
Enjoy!

I like using a food processor for this recipe because it simplifies the process. But a knife, fork and bowl work just as well for mixing up a batch of guac. Even better: a guacamole molcajete! Whatever tools you use, this is simply about blending flavors and textures.

GUACAMOLE AND CARROT STICKS
 

1 avocado, pitted and diced
1 tomato, diced
1 teaspoon diced cilantro
1 teaspoon red onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon garlic
a dash of lemon juice

In a bowl, toss avocado, tomato, cilantro and onion together. Blend and mash with a fork until the diced pieces  begin to break down and combine. Blend in garlic and lemon juice and mix until well incorporated.
Add carrot sticks, and if you need some protein, some uncured salami.

Note: I adore cilantro. But not everyone does. If you hate the stuff, feel free to substitute diced scallions or fresh parsley.

If you are using a food processor, toss all of the ingredients, including the garlic and lemon juice, into the bowl and pulse several times until the mixture is blended but still chunky.