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!

Baked Maduros – A Sweet Treat!


Maduros

Also known as Platanos or Sweet Plantains, this exceptional treat comes to us from the Latin traditions. While there are plenty of foods that I am eternally grateful for, Maduros is definitely high on the list! They’re delicious, easy to work with, not terribly expensive, and high in fiber so they’re actually quite good for you! Now, while being good for you, they’re also quite sweet, like their cousins the Banana, so don’t overdo eating them.

How to make them:

  • Most restaurants serve these deep-fried.
  • They can be baked/boiled, etc. like a sweet potato, and used in almost all the same ways.
  • A great desert recipe for these is Plantains baked in honey, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  • For an appetizer, you can bake them in just coconut oil, or you could add just a bit of sea salt and cinnamon.
  • I like to put some coconut oil on both sides, and bake on low temp (with no spices).

How to do Maduros, UPC style!

Cook and Prep time: about 60 minutes
Serves: 1 person per Plantain

Image courtesy of karma-free-cooking.com

Image courtesy of karma-free-cooking.com

Select very ripe plantains, or wait for them to ripen. You will know that they are ready when they are all yellow, and should have some brown spots. Once they are ready, peel them, and then slice them in to long, slightly thick slices. To peel these, I cut the peel down the outside of the curve of the fruit, then peel it off from outside to inside. For the thickness of the slices: we’re looking for slices the thickness of bread, not potato chips – these are best when they have some substance to them!

Take out a baking sheet, put a layer of foil over it, and pre-heat the oven to 325. I also put a thin layer of coconut oil on my baking sheet, but this is not a necessary step. I have just learn from experience that a little extra oil is better than being a little short on it. Plantains can get sticky and soft when they’re baked, which is a very challenging combination!

Heat up about 2 tablespoons (per plantain) of coconut oil on the stove. Once the plantains are peeled and sliced, you can take each piece and dip it in to the coconut oil, then place it on the baking sheet.

As soon as the plantains are on the baking sheet, add them to the oven. If you’re going to spice these, now is the time. I usually don’t spice them; but I occasionally like a little bit of variety, and here is what I do most often when I’m looking for some extra flavor: Take a pinch of sea salt and sprinkle it lightly over the plantains. Then take a liberal serving on cinnamon and sprinkle it, equally liberally, over the plantains. The combination of sea salt and cinnamon will really bring out the sweetness of the plantain!

In about 20-25 minutes, flip the Maduros, and put them back in the oven. At this point, the side of the Maduros which are touching the baking sheet should be a light-golden color. This color will deepen slightly, like you see in my picture up above, while you cook the other side. If you’re using spices, you may want to spice both sides, depending on how much extra flavor you want the spices to add. Just spicing one side will be more than enough, so consider this an advanced technique. Only spice both sides if you’re familiar with the flavors and have done this before. If most of your Maduros are lightly browning, and most of them did not stick to the baking sheet, then you’re in good shape!

Pay attention during the last 10 minutes or so – you want the color of the bottom of the Maduros to match the color of the top. This means that you may have to go check on them every few minutes to see how close they’re getting. You may end up baking these for longer than 20 minutes on the second side. Be careful, though, Maduros are better underdone than overdone.

How you can use Maduros:

  • You’ve seen me serve them as a side many times on my blog. I’ve served them along side beef, pork, chicken, etc.
  • You can chop them up and put them in a salad.
  • They make a great appetizer, or desert.
  • You can store them, they’re almost as good cold as they are hot!

For a bit of information on what is a Plantain, and how it’s different from a Banana, take a look at this post from grabemsnacks.com:

http://www.grabemsnacks.com/what-is-a-plantain.html

And finally: Enjoy! For more Plantain recipes, keep your eyes peeled! I love Plantains, as you’ve see with the Mofongo Paella (yes, it’s made with green plantains) – and will definitely be using them more!

What’s For Breakfast? – Sweet Salad


SweetSalad

I have a sweet tooth. Big time. Giving up my sweets was one of the biggest and most difficult hurdles for me when I went Paleo. I haven’t looked back, even for an instant, and the health benefits of cutting the sugars out of my diet have been undeniably amazing, not to mention that I am no longer ruled by my cravings… But every once in a while I like to be indulgent. I indulge in avocado, grass-fed stewed short ribs… There’s no reason I can’t occasionally have an amazing “sweet salad” to pick me up in the morning, right? So this morning I took a little extra time putting together my salad, and made it a “Sweet Salad”. Not in the traditional sense – it wasn’t sugar laden. It was a special combination of ingredients, all of which are fantastically good for you, designed to give the satisfaction of having had a sweet indulgence, without the guilt!

How I did it, and what you’ll need:

  • Salad Greens (I used a spring mix)
  • White Button Mushrooms, chopped
  • Baked Maduros, chopped (baked with coconut oil)
  • Carrot, sliced
  • Zucchini, chopped
  • Avocado, chopped
  • Honey Smoked Turkey, chopped
  • Hazelnut Oil

Baked Maduros: These need to be done ahead of time. My wife and I love eating these as a desert on some nights, or as a side to our steak meals. You’ve seen these show up fairly regularly on my blog, because they’re delicious! So here’s how you make these: pre-heat the oven to 325. While the oven is heating up, slice the Ripe Plantains in to long thin slices (no more than 1/2 inch thick; and at least 2.5 inches in length, longer is better). Lightly oil a baking pan with coconut oil. Maduros will absorb the oil while baking, so you may need to add some more coconut oil later too – you’ll have to pay attention for that. Place the sliced plantains in the baking pan and bake for 15 minutes.

At 15 minutes, flip them over with tongs (they can get sticky!), add more oil, if necessary, and put them back in for another 10 minutes. Once these are done (lightly browned on each side), take them out of the oven and let them cool before serving (or storing them, in this case). They’re best served a little warm, and they keep really well for meals later in the week.

It’s a salad, so the short version of the directions is this: chop all the ingredients, combine them, and toss them. Ok, that’s done. Now let’s talk about how I did it! As above: chop up the salad greens, carrot, zucchini, baked maduros, and avocado and mix them in a bowl. On top of this, add the chopped mushrooms, then drizzle the hazelnut oil over the mushrooms. I’ve come to appreciate that the oil gets absorbed by the mushrooms, and the mushrooms, since their natural flavor is so mild and complimentary anyway, end up tasting like the oil. With hazelnut oil, that can be a very “sweet” tasting flavor! Last, add the turkey, and mix again. Et Voila! You have your very own “Sweet Salad” for breakfast!

Additional or alternate ingredients: If you have it, you could add some dried fruit to the meal. A dried apple or mango would likely support the flavor of the meal nicely! Similarly, a specialty vinegar, like a raspberry vinegar, could really make this amazing. Finally: if you have the time, you can add the carrots to the baking pan and bake the carrots with the maduros – the end result will be that much more sweet and savory! Lastly, I would warn against adding any actual hazelnuts – they’re not very “sweet” like the hazelnut oil, and will interfere with the flavor profile of the meal.

What’s For Dinner? – Steak, Baked Maduros, Roasted Carrots, Avocado


I love big meals with complicated ingredients, difficult dishes, multiple courses. At least, in theory I do. In practice, I could call elaborate meals to be a hobby or even an indulgence. I indulge in big elaborate meals from time to time as a way of either sharing my food (party, anyone?), rewarding myself, or as a weekend hobby. But not every meal should be an elaborate affair, even in my kitchen. That’s not to say that they shouldn’t all be top-quality, delicious meals. Because they should! Just that I don’t usually want a huge elaborate meal. Most meals I actually desire something more simple, with simple ingredients, and bold simple flavors. And this meal is a perfect example! Take a look at this ingredients list, and tell me if it could be any more simple?

Steak_Carrots_Maduros_Avocado2Steak Bites With Baked Maduros (ripe plantains), Roasted Carrots And Avocado

What You’ll Need:Steak_Carrots_Maduros_Avocado-Small

  • 1 Pound Beef Stew Meat
  • Salt/Pepper as needed
  • 2 Large Ripe Plantains
  • 3 Large Carrots
  • 1 Avocado

Prep and cook time: 25 minutes
Serves 2

Start with the plantains and carrots. First pre-heat the oven to 425. The plantains and carrots take the longest to cook, so they’ll need to be started first. Cut them in to longer pieces. I prefer a diagonal cut on the carrots and plantains so that each slice will have more volume, and more importantly, more surface area. This decreases the cook time, and I actually like my food to be larger than singe-bite sized pieces. Though it turns out, I am quite satisfied with 2-bite sized pieces. Once the plantains and carrots are cut, grease a baking pan with a very thin layer of coconut oil. Now lay the carrots and plantains out on the baking pan (you may need a second pan) making sure that they are well spread out. Put these in the oven as soon as they are on the pan, there is no need to wait for the oven to hit temperature.

As soon as the plantains and carrots are in the oven, start the steak. As usual, I prefer to cook my steak in a frying pan on medium-low heat, covered. This will cook fairly quickly because the steak is cut up “stew meat” style, so the chunks have a greater access to the heat. This is good, because it means that the meal will be done sooner! It also means that you can cook on a slightly lower heat setting, ending up with a slightly juicier meal! I love a juicy steak.

Once the plantains and carrots have been in the oven for 12-13 minutes, flip them all over to expose both sides to the heat. Don’t worry if the first side doesn’t look “done” yet. The nice thing about sweet plantains and carrots is that they’re both edible raw (and quite tasty), so cooking them only serves to alter the flavor and texture to suit a particular dish. Obviously, in this meal I elected for the cooked versions! Also, since the first side was exposed to the oil, and we’re using the oven, the first side will continue to cook, resulting in a nicely browned final version.

Once you’ve flipped the plantains and carrots, uncover the steak and turn the heat up to high. There should be quite a bit of water/juice in the pan at this point, and we want to give the steak a chance to cook that off. This should take 2-3 minutes. Once done, turn the heat back down, and recover the pan for another 3-5 minutes, stirring the steak regularly to ensure that each side is slightly browned.

Take the plantains and carrots out at approximately 20 minutes of bake time. This is not a hard and fast rule, so here is how I measure: when the steak is done, I turn it off, leave it covered, and cut up the avocado. Once the avocado is cut up and plated, then I take the plantains and carrots out. Again, don’t worry about the cook time too much, these have a very high tolerance for longer cook times: I have left them in for as long as 45 minutes and still been quite satisfied with the results.

Steak_Carrots_Maduros_AvocadoServing:

Put the avocado on the plate first, then the plantains and carrots, and finally the steak. This meal is very time-tolerant, so if the table isn’t ready yet, just pop the finished meal dish in the oven while the table is set, and whomever is eating takes their seats. Obviously, only put the dish in the oven if you’re using oven-safe plates. It should be off at this point, but it will still be hot! And finally: Enjoy!

I am considering making a video-blog post for some of my simpler meals, perhaps as a once-per-week “What’s For Dinner?” Video Blog. I would really like to hear whether you all would enjoy that. So, in the comments board let me know if you’re interested in a Video Blog Post!