What’s For Dinner? Slab Bacon and Steak Heaped with Caramelized Onions


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Slab Bacon, Steak Heaped with Caramelized Onions, and Avocado

If your mouth is watering just looking at that picture, you’re not alone. As much as I enjoyed the food, looking at it is almost as good – believe it or not! I had had a hard day at work, as had my wife. We were both coming home a bit late; my wife a bit later than me. So, what better way to unwind at the end of a really long day than with some of the most savory of the savory food category? Well, this slab bacon, as I’ve mentioned in my Slab Bacon Bacon Project Post, has been treating me and my wife every bit as well as it did when we first bought it and tried it. Without a doubt, this is the best commercial bacon we’ve had the pleasure of eating.

This meal does very well with additional cook time, so if you know that dinner may be delayed, this is a great meal to allow to simply keep cooking on a lower temperature. It’s a great meal to prepare for dinner parties, allowing the host to let dinner time be socially dictated, rather than when the dinner bell rings (it also allows the friends who got caught in traffic get there and still eat with everyone else!).

What you’ll need:

  • 1 lb Slab Bacon
  • 1 lb Grass-Fed Rib Eye Steak (can use other cuts)
  • 2 medium Onions, chopped
  • 1 large Avocado
  • Spices: Turmeric, Black Pepper (fresh ground), “Herb De Provence” spice mix

Serves: 2-4 (depending on how hungry you are…)
Cook and prep time: 70 minutes

1. Heat the steak up in a pan on high until the steak is sizzling loudly.

2. Turn the heat down to medium-low, about 3 out of 10, and as soon as the sizzling stops, flip the steak.

3. Put the slab bacon in a separate pan and cook, covered, on medium-low heat, or about 3 out of 10.

4. Add the chopped onions around the steak in the steak pan.
Optional: Using 4-5 medium chopped onions, you can cook them in the bacon pan instead. This will produce leftover caramelized onions for quite a few meals.

5. Spice the steak liberally and cover the pan allowing the steak to cook.

6. Lay the bacon down on a new side every 10 minutes.

7. About 5 minutes before meal time, turn the steak pan up to high heat, take the steak out, and stir the onions thoroughly.

8. Alternately leaving the steak on top of the onions, and stirring, keep the onions cooking and stirring for 5 minutes on high heat.

Now serve and enjoy!

Questions:

  • What is your favorite dinner-party meal?
  • Which is the “Side Dish” in this meal: the steak, or the slab bacon?
  • Would you use something other than caramelized onions? How would you cook them?
  • How do you and your friends determine dinner time during dinner parties? When the food is ready, or when the guests are ready?
  • What kinds of drinks would you serve with this meal? Any specific brand/year?
  • Is there a difference between friends for dinner parties, and family? Do you cook differently? Do you clean, or set a different table?

What’s For Dinner? Maduro Beef Picadillo


MaduroBeefPicadillo

UPC’s Maduro Beef Picadillo

This has been a LONG week for me! It has nothing to do with the holiday this weekend, and waiting for the weekend to come. It’s actually been so long partly because of social engagements, and partly because of the race last weekend. I’ve been recovering from the race pretty much the entire week, and it’s been a rough recovery. I’ve only had two runs so far this week, and have had to focus most of my workouts this week on strength training. While that’s not so bad in a general sense, the reason that’s tough right now is that I’m still in training! I have 3.5 weeks to go before the big day, a short-list of pretty serious training gaps that I need to try to fill in, and only about 2 weeks where training will even be valuable for me before I will need to start tapering my speed training. Or, stated a different way: I’m feeling a bit of the pressure of race-day approaching. And it would be easier for me if my training were more normal right now. I know, the race this past weekend was part of training, and so is the recovery I’m going through. But that doesn’t make it any easier for me! But enough about training, on to today’s Maduro Beef Picadillo

I do Picadillo Beef often in my home. It’s a fantastic recipe, easy to make, it’s varied enough in flavor that it goes with any season, and nearly any side dish. It really is one of the most versatile recipes in my arsenal, and my wife and I absolutely love to eat it. The best part about it is: it’s really easy to make extra, and it’s every bit as good the next time you get to it!

UPC’s Maduro Beef Picadillo

  • 1 lb Grass-Fed Beef
  • 2 Maduros, sliced and baked, then chopped (See Baked Maduros for directions)
  • 1/2 cup Raisins (I use Organic Thompson Raisins)
  • 1 cup Green Olives (I use Organic Olives)
  • Salt/Pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Coconut Oil

Serves: 2 (with a little left over)
Cook and Prep time: 15 minutes

1. In a pan, add the beef and maduros along with the coconut oil and cook on medium heat.

2. Stir regularly until the beef is mostly browned, with only a little bit of redness to it.

3. As soon as the beef is mostly browned, add the olives and raisins, and turn the heat up to medium-high, or about a 7 out of 10.

4. Stir this constantly, cooking for another minute or so, until all the beef has browned.

5. Serve and enjoy!

Notes: This is also delicious when combined with hot or spicy spices, like paprika, or other pepper-based spices. The heat melds quite well with the sweetness of the maduros and raisins.

Questions:

  • How is your training going?
  • Have you had a race recently?
  • How is your recovery generally?
  • Do you do anything to assist your recovery? Ice? Hot compression? Foam-Rolling or massages?

What’s For Dinner? Clove Steak with Caramelized Mushrooms and Onions


CloveCaramelizedOnionsAndMushroomsOverSteak

UPC’s Clove Steak

My wife asked me recently: “How do you avoid repeating yourself?” I hate to admit it, but the truth is that I really, honestly, don’t know if I do manage to avoid repeating myself! That said, I eat somewhere between 18 and 25 meals each week, most weeks closer to the 25 number… And I get to choose only the 5 best meals that I server each week to share with you all. Of course, that doesn’t guarantee that I won’t be repeating myself, there is less of a likelihood of that, considering I can plan ahead pretty easily merely five relatively unique meals each week. That’s not too hard, right?

Planning ahead: That brings me to one of the topics of conversation that held me captive for nearly an hour over the weekend. Planning ahead. It seems so simple, and yet so few of us ever actually do it. It’s a strange concept, and one which is completely central to being a successful Paleo diet follower. And not just Paleo, but any diet anyone chooses to follow! The truth is that in order to successfully follow any diet, Paleo included, you need to make sure that your food choices have been made in advance. You need to carry with you the things that you’ll use when, inevitably, you’re hungry. Some of the time, that’s your willpower. But even your willpower needs to be prepared in advance. Most of the time, willpower alone, even when you’ve prepared in advance, will not be enough to insulate you from making off-diet food choices. You’ll need something more. Context, like knowing that the food choices available will damage you. Or even better, a food choice of your own, prepared and packed by you, with healthy wholesome ingredients. The kind of food that when you pull it out, all of your friends or co-workers are suddenly envious that they are stuck with the “quick and easy” choices available, while you have some delicious and nutritious foods, because you prepared for this very situation.

It is an excellent dilemma to have. It’s historically unprecedented. The idea, even 100 years ago, that we could be surrounded by so many food choices that there was even a possibility of making a “bad choice” is something that we live with every day, and couldn’t even have been fathomed by anyone except born royalty¬† before about 60 years ago. The unfortunate side effect of this situation is that, not only is it possible to make a “bad choice,” it’s actually quite likely! So, with that, I’m going to move on to my “good choice” of the day!

UPC’s Clove Steak; What you’ll need:

  • 1 lb Grass-Fed Steak
  • 1 large Organic Sweet Onion, chopped
  • 8-10 Cimini Mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 tablespoon Coconut Oil
  • Spices: Ground Cloves, Ground Black Pepper
  • Baked Maduros
  • Avocado

Serves: 2
Cook and Prep Time: 25 minutes (Plus the Baked Maduros)

1. In a pan heat up the steak until it is sizzling on high heat. This should take about 60 seconds on an electric stove, or 30 seconds on a gas stove.

2. Turn the heat down to medium-low (about 3 out of 10), and wait until the sizzling is nearly done, or another 60 seconds, then flip the steak.

1. Add the mushrooms and onions around the outside of the steak, then drizzle (or spread it, if it’s semi-solid) the coconut oil across the top of the steak and continue to cook on medium-low heat (about 3-4 out of 10).

4. Liberally sprinkle the cloves and fresh ground pepper across the steak and the mushrooms and onions. Cover the pan, and let this cook for 10-12 minutes.

5. After 10-12 minutes, stir the mushrooms and onions thoroughly. Re-cover the pan and let it continue to cook for another 10-12 minutes.
Note: This may be a good time to prepare the plates and side-dishes. If you prepared the Baked Maduros well in advance, and they’re in the fridge; you may want to re-heat them for eating.

6. Serve and enjoy!

Questions:

  • How do you prepare for a day of work, and make sure that you stay on-diet throughout the day?
  • How do you prepare for social engagements?
  • How do you prepare for avoiding soy and/or wheat when you’re eating out?
  • How do you prepare for the social stigma that still goes with a restrictive diet? Think “What? You don’t drink beer? What kind of man are you?!” kinds of questions, which could come from friends, colleagues, and strangers.
  • How do you prepare for holiday meals with your family?

What’s For Lunch? Steak Hot & Cold Summer Salad


SteakSalad

UPC’s Steak Hot & Cold Summer Salad

This was a looong weekend! There are “Long Weekends” where you have an extra day due to a holiday, or perhaps a carefully chosen vacation day. And then there are looong weekends, like this one was for me, where you are still unpacking, setting up your new apartment, and throwing away old stuff that you haven’t used in the past 5 years. This weekend, since my wife and I moved recently, was the second version. And I’m not sure how many more of these I have in me before I have a breakdown!

On the positive side: we have the kitchen (the most important room in the house!), living/dining room, bedroom, and my closet all set up with well conceived temporarily situated solutions to our needs from the space available in the room. We know how we’ll eventually have the rooms look, what we need to make the space work, and we’ve put together some sort of interim solution, using the furniture and other tools we have available now. That’s an important start! All we have left now are the office, my wife’s closet, and the bathrooms. And I am exhausted from the effort to get us this far this fast! I am so exhausted that I barely managed to put together today’s post. Barely; but still managed. You can thank me after you see what’s in it.

Steak Hot & Cold Summer Salad; What you’ll need:

  • 1 lb Grass-Fed Steak (I used my lately-favorite cut: Rib-Eye)
  • 1 large Avocado, chopped
  • 2 cups Cherry Tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 cup Blueberries (wild if possible, otherwise organic)
  • 1 cup Toasted Coconut Chips
  • 1 medium Cucumber, chopped
  • Mesclun Salad (or your other favorite salad mix)
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil

Serves: 2, with a little to spare
Cook and prep time: 20 minutes

1. Cook the steak in a pan with your favorite steak seasoning (I used sea salt, fresh ground pepper, anise seed, and thyme) on medium heat, covered. Continue cooking until it is finished to your liking (shorter times for rare, longer times for well-done).
Note: I like my steak on the rare-side when eating it by itself. For some reason, I prefer it well-done in a salad.

2. While the steak is cooking, prepare the salad. In a large mixing bowl, add the salad greens, cucumber, blueberries, avocado, and olive oil. Using a serving spoon, mix the salad thoroughly.

3. When the steak is cooked to your satisfaction, take it out and slice it, no more than 1/2 inch thick slices, on a cutting board.

4. Serve the salad in a salad bowl after sprinkling the coconut chips and the sliced tomatoes liberally across the top of the salad. Carefully lay the sliced steak on the side of the bowl, like shown in my picture.

Questions:

  • How did you spend your weekend?
  • What kinds of things do you prefer to spend your weekend on? Socializing? Traveling?
  • What’s your “ideal” weekend look like, given your normal constraints?
  • How often do you manage to do your “ideal” weekend? Is it a once-per-month thing? Or more or less frequently than that?

What’s For Dinner? Cocoa Steak


CocoaSteak

UPC’s Cocoa Steak

I was paid a tremendous compliment yesterday in the comments section. And it got me thinking. Don’t worry, it didn’t hurt; at least, not yet. The compliment was something along the lines of:
“You should totally start to sell your meals as a “Weekly Meal Plan and Shopping Lists” kind of thing, and I’ll be your first customer!”
Understandably, I was completely blown away! Obviously the comment is there on yesterday’s post, and you all are more than welcome to go read it in it’s entirety, but I think my paraphrase above is accurate enough for this discussion. This is one of the most incredible compliments I’ve been given – and to pay proper honor to a compliment of this magnitude, I need to take some serious time and think about the implications of the idea. There is the surface: obviously everyone wants to make more money. There’s really no question about that, right? But underneath that surface are some more important questions, and some issues.

The biggest issue is that my entire site is a blog setup, and there is no real setup here for pay services. There are some exceedingly easy and simple ways to deal with that, like writing my meal plans and shopping lists in e-book format, putting them up for sale somewhere, and linking them to a page here through an e-book sales site. In fact, I already have a linked e-book, where a few of my recipes were published in the Fat Burning Chef book (GREAT book, if you haven’t seen it yet). So it’s an easy issue to solve; but it takes time. And it seems to be time well spent, especially if I already have a customer ready! Then there are the other issues: generating content (I can, but have not done), deciding on pricing, setting up the whole sales-side of this idea.

And on to the questions which are not yet issues. The first is this: will my writing be impacted or changed by a sales opportunity? Clearly the answer is yes. Every experience changes us. So will I be better, or worse, for the experience? And would selling my material make me more in tune with what you, my readers, want? Or would it change my focus enough so that my content stopped being the content that you have grown to know and love? These are important questions. And hopefully you’ll all be willing to help me answer them in the Questions section at the end.

CocoaSteakInPan

Cocoa Steak; What you’ll need:

  • 1 lb Grass-Fed Steak (I used a rib-eye; but any thicker cut will do)
  • 4 tablespoons Cocoa Nibs (preferably organic)
  • 1 tablespoon Coconut Oil
  • 1 tablespoon “Herbs De Provence” which is a french blend made up of: Rosemary, Thyme, Fennel, Basil, Savory, Lavender, and Marjoram
  • 1 large Organic Sweet Potato, quartered

Serves: 2
Cook and Prep time: 40 minutes

1. Put the steak in a large pan on high, covered. Cook until sizzling loudly.

2. As soon as the steak is sizzling loudly, turn the heat down to medium-low, flip the steak leaving the seared side up.

3. Thoroughly, but carefully, cover the seared side of the steak with the cocoa nibs. Try not to let any fall in to the pan; though don’t worry too much if they do.
Re-cover the pan and continue to let it cook covered.

3. After about 10 minutes of total cook time (including the searing at the beginning) add the coconut oil in the middle of the steak, and sprinkle the herbs de provence on to the steak.

4. Put the quartered potatoes around the steak in the pan and re-cover.

5. Carefully Move the steak a bit every 10 minutes, so that it doesn’t burn to the bottom of the pan. This shouldn’t be an issue, but it’s better to be safe in this case.
Note: This is a good time to prepare your sides; a salad, or just some sliced vegetables will compliment this very well.

6. Cook on the same side, with the cocoa nibs undisturbed until serving. To the best of your ability, try to cut and serve the steak with the nibs still on the top. Serve and enjoy!

Questions:

  • What are your thoughts on my intro, and the idea of me selling a “Weekly Meal Plan and Shopping List”?
  • If I set it up, what meal/recipe/idea would make purchasing this from me truly “worth it” to you? What would your determining factors be that makes mine worth your money?
  • Have you ever purchased meal plans and shopping lists before? Have you used a free one? What were your thoughts on what it did well, and what it did poorly?
  • If I do this, I’ll need to make sure that it’s accessible, usable, and obvious. What kinds of updates to my site would you recommend for me to make these available and, ideally, utilized by you, my readers?

What’s For Dinner? Orange Beef and Ripe Plantains


OrangeBeef

UPC’s Orange Beef

It’s time for me to change my workouts. I’ve been doing low-rep, high weight workouts at the gym when I’ve been able to go, and I am LOVING the results I’ve been getting. My body looks excellent! I am getting muscle definition that is exactly what I’m looking for! But with the 1-mile race drawing ever closer, I’ve decided to change up my strength training to match my goals. I am going to do lighter weights (not a lot lighter) and much higher reps. Hopefully this will increase the density of my muscles, and help them to manage the energy requirements of sustained sprinting. Which is what a mile is, optimally. I’ll do 12-15 reps, still to failure. I’ll try to do them at a higher speed too, to mimic the kind of output that a mile race would require. We will see how my body likes that, and don’t be surprised if in 3-4 weeks, I decide that I want to change up again. I really liked what I was doing before, and hopefully I will like this too!

Orange Beef; What you’ll need:

  • 1 lb Grass-Fed Ground Beef (will also work well with beef strips)
  • 4 ripe Clementines, sectioned and sliced
  • 4 ripe Clementine peels, diced
  • 1 cup Mixed Mushrooms, chopped (any mushroom, or a mix; Organic please!)
  • 1 tablespoon Coconut Oil
  • Spices: Salt, Pepper, Turmeric (all optional)

Serves: 2
Cook and Prep Time: 35 minutes

1. Add the beef to a large pan and spread the mushrooms out around the beef.

2. Heavily cover the ground beef with the orange peels and slices; put the remaining slices and peels in with the mushrooms.

3. Cook on medium-low heat, covered.

4. Stir thoroughly after 10 minutes of cook time, and again after 20 minutes of cook time. Keep the pan covered.

5. Make sure your sides are prepared. (See here for Baked Ripe Plantains; takes 60 minutes, so needs to be started well ahead of time!)

6.  5 minutes before meal time turn up the heat to medium and start to stir the beef and mushrooms regularly; every minute or so. Leave the pan uncovered.

Serve and enjoy!

Restaurant Review: Nook, NYC


NookTunaTartar

UPC’s Restaurant Review: Nook, NYC

Nook used to be one of my favorite places to go eat before switching to Paleo. As can be expected, my dietary needs have changed my review criteria for restaurants, and as a result, I’ve been less inclined to head to my old haunts. Of course Nook was one of them. But here it is, making it’s debut Paleo review (to my knowledge)!

Location and Presentation:

Nook is a difficult restaurant to find. It has no website, it is a small location with a small storefront in a strangely difficult location. Even knowing where I am going, I often miss the door to the restaurant the first time I pass it. Not to mention the fact that, in Hell’s Kitchen NYC, the streets are almost always bustling.
The restaurant itself is quite nice inside. The entire 7 feet of street-front space is a window and full-window door. There is a tasteful curtain on the window to give it some decorative value, as well as a bit of insulation from the intense summer heat. The indoors is quaint, with a total capacity of perhaps 20 people in a party, or 6 tables for individual seating. It’s the perfect place to take a special person for a nice dinner out, or when your parents are in town.

NookSalad

Menu:

Nook is definitely not geared for Paleo eaters, and so it was a little challenging to read the menu as a Paleo diner. It has almost entirely grain-based meals. They were delightful, back in the day, but since that’s not my fare any longer, I am forced to use my creativity, charm, and potential tip to get off-menu meals served to me and my wife. The wait staff at Nook are always pleasant and willing to work with their guests, so it’s a little easier here than at most places. There’s so few customers that the one waiter is guaranteed to have a few extra moments to contemplate your allergies. And yes, all grains and beans are allergies! If you don’t use that special word, it often your preferences won’t be respected!

NookTunaTartarTuna Tartar: My wife and I ordered the Tuna Tartar as an appetizer. The menu version of the Tuna Tartar had soy in it, as well as on it. We asked if this was a pre-made item, or if the Chef would be able to prepare it for us using olive oil rather than soy. It was a success, and it was delicious!!

Grilled Pear Salad: Grilled pear is becoming a thing. I’ve seen it in more than a few of the restaurants that I’ve been to. It’s not that I’m complaining, I love the trend of using fruit, rather than sugared salad dressings, to sweeten a salad and make it more appetizing to the non-Paleo crowd! The result for me, and you other Paleo eaters, is something that almost tastes like a desert! It’s sweet, succulent, and the flavor of the pear combined with the balsamic vinegar is excellent!

Filet Mignon: I ordered the Filet Mignon. It was cooked to perfection, and delicious! I could have survived just fine without the mashed potatoes, but the asparagus spears were quite nice. They were lightly sauteed in butter and garnished with chives. The tenderness and flavor of the beef was just right!

NookSteak

Pricing and other items:

Nook is a “BYOB” restaurant, which I like a lot. A liquor license in NYC can cost more than the entire start-up costs of the restaurant combined. And often the high price of the better-quality restaurants has to do with the price of buying a liquor license, along with the other prices of real estate, etc. Nook is not burdened with that issue, so the prices for the food is quite reasonable, and all the more reason to frequent the establishment. You get the best of both worlds: You get to choose the wine you want to drink, not pay the exorbitant restaurant-liquor charges, and still have a great meal for a decent price!

Notes for Nook dining as a Paleo diner:

  1. As with ALL restaurants, be very careful with your menu items. Ask the waiter what’s in your food, and explain your food allergies. Don’t be afraid to ask that the chef change your meal – the Nook chef will, and you’ll love the result! Your dining experience will be infinitely better if you enjoy your food during and after your meal!
  2. Nook is a BYOB restaurant, so bring a bottle of your favorite wine. And enjoy the fact that it’s not going to be 4x the price of the liquor store!
  3. Finding the restaurant is a little challenging, but do not despair. It’s there, hidden in between other more brightly colored doors. If you miss it, just go looking for it again.