Archive for August, 2013

An Unexpected Pleasure: North Avenue Grill

I was up early this morning, eager to put the first coat of paint on a room that I’m reinventing, and by 9:00 I had three hours of work in already! I decided to cruise over to North Ave. to find some breakfast, intending to grab a meatball at Tall Guy – unfortunately, they were out of the office handling a big catering event. So being a little bit lazy, I chose to go right next door to North Avenue Grill.

I’d never been in before, but I’ve seen people sitting on the sidewalk all summer, and I was excited to find a diner-style counter when I walked in, where I could grab a stool and enjoy my solo breKfast without feeling like I was hogging a table. Speaking of hogs – the street was lined with Harley’s – what a cool day to live in Milwaukee! Glad to host some of those riders in my neighborhood! The rest of the restaurant was cozy booths and quite a bit of outdoor seating – very comfortable and relaxed.

Soon after I sat down, I stuck up a conversation with the woman sitting next to me. I learned that Leslie and Armando have lived in Tosa for 31 years, and enjoy checking out local restaurants. They’ve been to North Avenue Grill a couple of times, and Leslie’s over easy eggs have been prepared perfectly each time. Armando had a skillet that looked amazing – chorizo, black beans, salsa, avocado, cheese – it made my mouth water while I was waiting for my order. Leslie did agree with me that the one thing missing was a Bloody Mary. Our server checked and confirmed that they don’t serve bloodys…yet. Promising…

The menu was large with a great selection of breakfast foods and sandwiches, burgers, etc. Since I’m trying to stick to my Paleo plan, I was a little nervous about finding something appropriate. I needn’t have worried. I ordered a veggie omelette with no cheese (who needs cheese when you have onions, peppers, tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms and avocado?) which comes with fried American potatoes and toast. It was no problem to substitute fruit for my toast, and I was happy with pineapple, grapes, strawberries and melon.

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I knew I was cheating a little bit with everything being cooked in an unknown oil, but I was still proud of my order. I sampled the potatoes but didn’t finish them – wow – a perfect fried crust on soft potatoes. The omelette was great – the avocado helped me give up the cheese because it was smooth and creamy. Thumbs up on my meal.

I won’t stop there with the compliments. They serve Valentine coffee – my favorite local roaster. The staff were friendly, keeping my coffee and water full despite the fast pace they were moving at. The cooks looked like they were in a carefully choreographed ballet – never stepping on each others toes or acting cross with one another despite the tiny grill space (this is important to me – I don’t want the staff yelling at each other or complaining while making my food – bad juju). When I perused the beer list, local brews prevailed and there was a nice selection of wines on a chalkboard waiting for me to sample.

This breakfast was a happy coincidence, and I can assure you, I’ll be back. Maybe even tomorrow.

Check out North Avenue Grill online at http://www.northavenuegrill.com. They do carry out, too!

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Shrimp with Pesto Zucchini

This recipe is a real winner – easy to make, and I served it two days in a row – hot the first day as an entree, and cold the second as a side salad.

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Pesto:
1/2 c. Cashews (or any nut will work – I like to experiment with the different flavors)
1/2 c. Olive oil
1 large bunch cilantro
Salt & pepper to taste
1 garlic bulb

Place in food processor and process until smooth. Set aside.

2 lb. large deveined, cooked shrimp
3 medium to large zucchini (yellow or green or both)
Salt & pepper to taste

Put your shredding attachment on the food processor and shred the zucchini. Fill a large pot with water and put on high heat on the stove. When boiling, add zucchini and shrimp and cook for 3-5 minutes. Strain water out and add pesto to hot zucchini and shrimp. Add salt and pepper. Toss to coat.

Serve hot as a main course, or refrigerate for a cold salad. Serves about 4 dinner portions or 6-8 side salad portions.

Secret Key Lime Pie

I’ve had a busy week, with guests over for dinner three nights on a row! I made this crazy pie for my Monday crew and had enough left for Tuesday. Both gave me a bit of a funny look when I presented it to them, but replaced that look with shocked delight after the first bite.

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The secret to this pie is that it’s gluten free and oh so close to Paleo (I need to figure out a sweetener substitute). It’s green because its straight up avocado, but the taste is all lime – very worth the time it takes to shred that much zest – about 8 limes for the entire recipe! I hope you’ll be bold enough to serve this, and wait for your guests response AFTER the first bite. All of my friends’ plates were clean when we were through!

Crust:
2 c. Unsalted cashews
1 c. Shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 c. Dried plums
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. lime zest
2 tbsp. fresh squeezed lime juice
Dash of salt
1 tbsp. Splenda sugar
2 tbsp. maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put all ingredients in food processor and process on high until it becomes dough-like. Press into a greased pie pan. Bake 10-15 minutes until lightly golden. Remove from oven and let cool.

Filling:
4 large, ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
1/2 c. Fresh squeezed lime juice
1/4 c. Lime zest
1/4 c. Maple syrup
2 tsp. vanilla
Dash of salt
2 tbsp. Splenda sugar

Put all ingredients in food processor and process until smooth. Pour into cooled crust. Refrigerate at least 3 hours.

Makes 8 servings. I made this a day ahead and froze it overnight. I put it in the refrigerator in the morning, about 10 hours before serving.

Lamb Stuffed Grape Leaves

This recipe was a big adventure for a quiet Sunday. Let me warn you, if you’re not into putzing around with delicate wrappers and tiny scoops of filling, you might want to skip this one. I’m glad I wasn’t hungry or in a hurry when I was prepping.

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I love lamb, so I was excited to find this recipe in my Paleo cookbook. I planned to make a full recipe (4 servings) and have some lunches ready for this week. Stick with me until the end and I’ll show you my Lunchboxes!

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Lemon Stuffed Grape Leaves or “Dolmas”
1 tbsp. coconut oil
1 small sweet onion
1 lb. ground lamb
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
2 tbsp. dried plums, currants or raisins
1 c. Cauliflower, shredded in the food processor
1 lime, juiced
Salt & pepper
1-8 oz. jar grape leaves
1 lemon, sliced thin
1/4 c. Water
3-4 bay leaves
2 tbsp. sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place coconut oil in a medium sauté pan over medium high heat. Once it’s melted, add onion and sauté for a few minutes, until translucent. Add lamb, nutmeg, cinnamon, cumin, oregano and dried plums. Cook until lamb is light pink. Add cauliflower, salt and pepper and lime juice and sauté for an additional two minutes, until softened. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.

Carefully pull grape, leaves apart and lay on a flat surface (this was a challenge – mine were tightly packed in the jar, and I really had to work to get them out). Place a spoonful of lamb filling on each leaf and roll like a burrito, folding ends in as you go.

Place dolmas seam side down in a 9″x13″ baking pan. Place lemon slices, bay leaves and almonds on top, and pour water over. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake for about 40 minutes, until water has evaporated.

Serve hot or cold. Makes 4 servings.

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I shredded an entire head of cauliflower in my food processor, and since I only needed 1 cup for the recipe, I used the rest to make a Moroccan cauliflower rice – very easy, just put about 2 tbsp. of coconut oil in a pan over medium high heat, add cauliflower and your favorite spice blend and sauté for about 5 minutes until soft. Easy.

My last compartment needed some color, so I made an easy tomato salad – slice some cherry tomatoes, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and oregano.

I’m looking forward to another week of Paleo eating. I’m down about a pound and a half since last week, which is very encouraging, and I haven’t felt deprived – actually probably the most even appetite I’ve had in a long time.

Seafood Breakfast Quiche

I was so impressed with the Paleo quiche that I made last week, I made it again today, with a slightly different spin.

On a side note, I have to say, I’ve had a great week, and I’m feeling some kind of change going on. I finished Practical Paleo and had a number of “ah-ha” moments while reading. The recipes that I made were delicious, and I’m already noticing my body reacting differently to less healthy foods. Case and point: I wanted a treat on Friday night, but I didn’t want to go totally off the wagon, so I thought I’d use some leftover steak, avocado and salsa to make nachos. I had the grand idea to get sweet potato chips, but I couldn’t find them at the store I went to, so I ended up with the kettle potato chips that seem pretty natural – the ingredients read potatoes and oil.

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Let’s just say – my body DID NOT appreciate the chips. The bright side of this experience – I’m starting to listen to my body.

So today’s masterpiece of Paleo goodness: crustless quiche with seafood. I love to alter a great recipe so it doesn’t get old, and if I do say so myself, this one is a winner.

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Serves 6

1 large zucchini, shredded in the food processor
1 c. Baby carrots, shredded in the food processor
1 packet pink salmon
1 lb. shrimp, cooked and deveined
1 tbsp. dill
1/2 tbsp. sea salt
1 tsp. pepper
12 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix everything together in a large bowl. Spray a 9″x13″ glass baking pan with cooking spray or use butter to grease. Put mixture into pan, even out, make some swirls with a fork and put in oven. Bake for 45 minutes.

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Easy Salmon & Tomato Lunchbox

Here’s another yummy, healthy lunchbox idea, perfect for work and less than 10 minutes to put together.

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Shopping list:
1 packet or can pink salmon
Handful of grape tomatoes
1 lemon
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. tarragon
Salt & pepper
1/2 a Granny Smith apple
2 tbsp. peanut butter (I love “Better ‘N’ Peanut Butter)

Drain salmon and put in big section. Top with sliced tomatoes. Juice lemon and drizzle over top with olive oil. Sprinkle tarragon and salt and pepper to taste over the top.

Slice apple. Glob in peanut butter.

Go!

Mama Loves Steak

Tonight I tried another idea from the Paleo book I’ve been reading. It tasted awesome, was somewhat beautiful, quick to prepare and simple to put together. It’s a winner- I will certainly make it again – and enjoy my leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

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1 lb (ish) flank steak – I think the smallest one I could find was about 1.2 lbs.
1 large garlic clove, pressed
Salt and pepper
2 red peppers, chopped
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 small container mushrooms, chopped
1 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. Penzey’s “Mural of Flavor” spice blend

Heat a grill pan over medium high heat. Spray with cooking spray. Rub pressed garlic, salt and pepper all over steak. Place in hot pan; cook 5 minutes on each side (for medium rare). Remove from pan and let rest for 10 minutes.

While your steak is cooking, melt butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. When melted, add your peppers, onion and mushrooms. Sauté about 3 minutes until they start to soften; add Mural of Flavor seasoning and salt and pepper to taste.

As soon as your steak has rested, slice it and place on top of a bed of the pepper mixture.

Serves 4

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