What’s For Dinner? Steak & Sweet Potato Steak Fries


UPC’s Steak Fries

Have you ever wondered what “Steak Fries” actually means? A quick internet search will bring up all sorts of different baked potato-fry recipes. You’ll see the skinny-cut that restaurants most often serve all the way through the thick-cut home-fry style steak fries. My question, every time I have seen them on a menu, has been: “Why are they ‘Steak Fries’?” What is special about these fries that warrants a separate name? I mean, if they’re just “Fries” which are being served with a steak, that shouldn’t warrant a name of it’s own, right?
Well, I’ve decided that we need a definition for what “Steak Fries” are, and it’s not enough for it to just be some fries served with a steak.

Paleo Definition: Steak Fries

“French Fry” or “Home Fry” cut sweet potatoes, cooked at a high temperature, skin down, in the same pan as a steak. By cooking the “Steak Fries” in that same pan, the sweet potato fries will take on some of the flavor of the steak. Hence the name: “Steak Fries”.

Steak & Steak Fries; What you’ll need:

  • 1 lb Grass-Fed Rib Eye Steak (any fatty cut will do – but you need the fat for the Steak Fries to really come out excellent)
  • 2 long Sweet Potatoes, sliced home-fry style (Organic, if possible)
  • Spices: Ground Black Pepper, Turmeric, Oregano
  • 1 Avocado, chopped
  • 8-10 Cherry Tomatoes, chopped

Serves: 2
Prep and Cook Time: 25 minutes

1. Add the steak to your pan and season lightly on the top of the steak.

2. Arrange the Steak Fries around the edge of the steak with the skin down on the pan.

3. Cook on Medium-High, covered, for 5 minutes.

4. After 5 minutes of cook time, flip the steak, and continue to cook on Medium-High, covered, for another 3-4 minutes.

5. Turn the heat down to just below Medium and uncover the pan.

6. Re-spice the steak, and let the steak and Steak Fries continue to cook until you’re ready to serve. Total cook time should not exceed 20 minutes.

7. Prepare the side-salad. Serve when ready!


Serve the salad first, followed by the steak. If you did this right, the sweet potato Steak Fries should be moist and soft, and you’ll want to have easy access to them in order to serve them without damaging their shape or presentation. Once the steak and salad are served, arrange the Steak Fries parallel to each other, serve, and enjoy!

What’s For Dinner? Slow-Cooked Beef Picadillo


UPC’s version of Beef Picadillo: Slow-Cooked with Olives and Raisins!

Every once in a while, while my wife and I are playing the “what do you want for dinner?” game, we agree immediately on what we want. That happened last night. I asked, as I so often do, “What do you want for dinner?” and my wife said: “Ground beef?” asking if that was available, and therefore on the menu. “Sure,” I replied, “Would you like Cuban beef?” “Yes!” She jumped at the idea, excited to have it. Beef Picadillo, or as my wife and I call the way that I cook it: “Cuban Beef” is a delicious way to enjoy a ground beef meal.

UPC’s Slow-Cooked Beef Picadillo; What you’ll need:

  • 1 lb Ground Beef (Grass-Fed please!)
  • 1 cup Raisins (organic, of course)
  • 1 large can Green Olives (this will work with black – but green looks better)
  • Fresh Ground Pepper, Turmeric, Sea Salt to taste
  • 1 medium Sweet Potato, sliced home-fry style
  • Avocado and Tomato for side salad

Serves: 2+
Prep and Cook time: 65 minutes

1. Put the ground beef in a pan on high.

2. Add the sweet potato around the outside of the beef.

3. On top of the beef, spread the raisins out covering the beef entirely.

4. Drain the olives, then crush them by hand, dropping them on top of the raisins and beef.

5. Spice the dish, spicing the beef, raisins, and olives sparsely, while spicing the sweet potatoes heavily. Mix the sweet potatoes up a bit after spicing.

6. Cover the pan, turn the heat down to “Simmer” or about 2 out of 10.

Cook for 30-35 minutes.

7. Stir the beef thoroughly, making sure that the olives and raisins are fully stirred in.

Cook for the remaining 25-30 minutes, until you’re ready to serve.

Slow-Cooked Beef Picadillo with Sweet Potatoes and Avocado and Tomato salad

Beef Picadillo, or “Cuban Beef” is one of my household favorites. It takes a little extra work, since the vegetables and fruit take some time to contribute their flavor to the ground beef, so we don’t have it as often as some of the other quick recipes that I’ve featured recently. But it’s a fantastic way to cook something up while you’re unwinding after work. Just start the meal as soon as you get home, go about your business for 20-30 minutes, stir it once, leave it alone for another 20-30 minutes, then eat. It’s great!

Quick Chicken Tagine


I was reading the recent Travel and Leisure – Food Edition and stumbled on a picture of a Chicken Tagine served at a gas station in Morocco. The picture caption indicated that it may be the best gas station food you will ever eat – and I believe it! Not wanting to wait for my next trip to Morocco for a delicious meal of what appeared to be an amazingly tasty dish, I studied the picture for a few minutes and then decided to recreate it. On review: it was totally worth it!!!

What you’ll need (my recipe):

  • 1.5 Pounds Chicken Thigh
  • 3 Limes, skin removed, chopped
  • The skin from the above limes, chopped
  • 2 Medium Onions, chopped
  • 1 12oz can of olives, drained (mixed is best)
  • Half the above can of olives hand-crushed
  • 1 Medium Mango, chopped
  • 1 Red Pepper, sliced
  • 2 Inches Ginger, sliced
  • 1 Cup Olive Oil (Extra Virgin)
  • Seasoning: Italian Seasoning, Cumin, Black Pepper, Sea Salt
  • Paprika or Cayenne optional

Prep and Cook time: 50 minutes
Serves 2

In a soup pot, add the chicken, spices, the chopped mango, the ginger, and the chopped lime (not the skin) with about 2 cups of water and turn on high heat to a rolling boil. Being honest, I put the water and chicken in first, turn the heat on, then add the spices while I am chopping all the other ingredients. As you may have seen from my About Me page, I do things as I go along… It just seems to work out for me, though I do occasionally forget ingredients. If you’re going to chop and prep as you go, add the lime first, since that flavor is the most important flavor. After the lime, slice up the ginger and add that. Then get around to the spices, and finally the mango, olives, and pepper. Cover this once all ingredients are added, turn the heat down so that the rolling boil continues, but it doesn’t boil over the pot, and leave it alone while you tend to the onion and lime peels.

ChickenTagine_CookingWhile the soup is heating up, chop up the lime peel (this can be done with lemon as well) and the onions and put them in a separate pan on high heat with about 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. Cover this initially to keep the liquid in while they’re heating up – this will speed up the process of caramelizing, and they will taste better that way. I like to use a long thin cut of onion and lime for this dish, rather than square cuts. It takes a bit of extra work, I think, but it’s worth it in the end. They’ll serve like small noodles, and I think they preserve their flavor better that way.

As soon as the pan starts to sizzle, turn the heat down and stir regularly. You want these to caramelize. The onions should turn brown, and a sweet smell should start to waft up from the pan. But you don’t want them to over-cook and burn to the side of the pan. This will be fine for the onions, mostly, but it will ruin the flavor of the lime peel. It’s very important that you take your time on this, and make sure that the lime peel doesn’t overcook.

ChickenTagine_CookedOnce the lime peel and onions have caramelized, add the olive oil and turn the heat down to low. As I mentioned above, it is very important that the lime peel not overcook. Adding the olive oil will slow the cooking process, but really what you want to do is infuse the flavors of the onions and lime in to the olive oil. Keep this on low heat and uncovered, letting any of the liquid in the pan evaporate.


About 5 minutes before serving, add the olive oil mixture to the tagine pot. This should be at about 45 minutes of cook time, and the pot should have a nice stew-coloring, and smell delicious! Let this cook for another 5 minutes with all ingredients combined. Serve in soup bowls.


Mac And Cheese, UPC Style, Take One!

Close, but no cigar…


Looks right! Great color, great photographic texture… The flavor is close – really close. But I’m not there just yet. I will have to do some experimenting with spicing in order to land on this just right. And the texture is close too – but like the flavor, I’m not quite there yet.

Here’s what I did:

I used my recipe for Mashed Rutabaga as the “Cheese” portion. If you haven’t seen it yet, it consists of sliced rutabaga, finely diced ginger, and coconut cream all boiled down to the point where there’s no liquid left then mashed. It’s delicious! But not quite the right flavor. Not yet.

And for the Mac: I used carefully cut Rutabaga and Butternut Squash. I baked them for an hour at 200, hoping to mostly dry them out. Mimicking the actual chemical processes of Macaroni is quite challenging! I realize that we’re all quite used to simply buying it, opening the box, and using it… But it’s a highly complex, extremely processed food which is very very difficult to replicate using whole foods. But I am on the right track!!

Here are the pictures:

MacAndCheeseTake1_ButternutSquashUncutMacAndCheeseTake1_ButternutSquashCuttingTo the left is the butternut squash, cut, but not peeled or sliced yet. And to the right we have the peeled butternut squash, in the process of being cut up.

MacAndCheeseTake1_ButternutSquashBakingPanMacAndCheeseTake1_MacBakedTo the left is the butternut squash being put in the oven to bake the liquid out. And to the right I have added the rutabaga. Rutabaga kept it’s texture better than butternut squash.

MacAndCheeseTake1_CheesePreCookedMacAndCheeseTake1_CheeseTo the left is the mashed rutabaga, in it’s beginning stages. It’s one of my favorite side-dish recipes! To the left is the completed version. It really did come out great!

MacAndCheeseTake1_MacWithCheeseMacAndCheeseTake1_MacWithCheeseMixedTo the left is what the dish looked like as I added the mashed rutabaga “Cheese” to the top. I realized that I would have to mix it before baking – since it would not run/drip down and cover the macaroni.

MacAndCheeseTake1_Pre-BakedMacAndCheeseTake1_CookedOn the left is the picture of the mixed, ready-to-bake version with crushed walnuts sprinkled over the top. And on the right is the completed version. It came out looking great!

It tasted great too! All told, the final version was quite delicious, and there’s no reason for me to be less-than-pleased with how it turned out. Except that it’s not Mac&Cheese. While it’s an interesting dish, with interesting flavors, and interesting textures, it’s not what I was trying to do. And I will continue to work on that… A quick reminder of what the end goal is supposed to look like:


I was close, right?!? But not quite there yet. It was a lot of work, and worth it. And I think I will be able to finalize the recipe on my next attempt! Stay tuned!!!