Tag Archive: recipes


I had a request from a facebook friend to post a recipe with either spinach or squash. I am not big on squash (it is honestly one of the only veggies I don’t really like), but I love spinach. And my husband LOVES spinach! There are very few things that are as healthy and as quick and easy as sauteed spinach. This isn’t much of a recipe, but for those of you who don’t really know what to do with your spinach besides making a salad, this is for you.

Here are all the ingredients you need: spinach, red pepper flakes, salt, and fat of choice (I like coconut oil)

photo 1

Heat up your oil in the pan on medium/low heat, throw in your spinach. Cook more than you think you will need, it shrinks like crazy. These pictures I am using a half of a bag of the pre-washed grocery store bags. This makes about 1-2 servings. Add salt, red pepper flakes. Cover and stir occasionally. It only takes 3-4 minutes for the spinach to wilt.

photo 2

photo 3

Transfer to a plate and top with crispy prosciutto chips or bacon (you could always cook the bacon up first and then cook the spinach in the bacon grease- oh baby!) The spinach is a little spicy, full of flavor, and of course jam-packed with vitamins.

photo 4

If you wanted to do the sauteed spinach with some fish, you could top with a little lemon zest. If you wanted to have the spinach with chicken, you could top the spinach with sun-dried tomatoes. Really there are a million different combinations. I LOVE FOOD!!!

What do you do with your spinach?

(I got the recipe/idea for the crispy prosciutto chips from Nom Nom Paleo. Really you are just putting prosciutto in the oven to crisp it up and then you can crumble it on salads, veggies, eggs, etc.)

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whole porkThis is not up for discussion. Pork tenderloin is one of the best dinners in the world and if you disagree with me you’re wrong. We have already established that we are all busy and, yet, concerned about the health of our families. Let me break this thing down for ya…

1. It is HEALTHY! This is one of the leanest cuts of pork out there. If you are concerned about the (very) little fat that is on the tenderloin trim it off. If you grill it, the little bit of fat drips off anyway. (Don’t buy the crappy pre-seasoned varities. They suck and are less healthy than the all natural kind.)

2. It is CHEAP! Depending on where you shop and where you live, it is pretty well priced. I try to wait for it to go on sale and buy multiples. Last week I got it from Peapod and paid $3.99/lb.

3. It is EASY! Either sear it in the pan and finish in the oven or pop it on the grill. Even the ‘fattys’ only take 30 min. total. Throw a real quick dry rub on and you’re done. The ones I made tonight I rubbed with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, red pepper flakes, and brown sugar. Don’t worry about exact measurements. Eye ball it and be done. (If you need further directions let me know, I don’t mind)

cut pork

4. It is DELISH! I love this dinner. In fact, it is one of the only ones where I have to force myself to stop eating. I could easily give myself the meat-sweats. So juicy (cook to 145 and let rest for 10 mins. before you slice), so tender, and so flavorful. Remember, there is not a lot of fat, so not over-cooking is crucial. People usually say they don’t like pork because it is dry. Let me tell you, if it is dry- you cooked it wrong. The next day I usually eat it cold with a little mix of mayo and spicy mustard. You could also pan fry the slices in a little butter or coconut oil. DROOL!

I hope I have changed your mind and therefore your ways.

Now, I am not going to assume I am busier than you because that is super annoying. Let’s just say we are AS busy as all of you are and I get very stressed about how to put a healthy dinner on the table. I know I am not alone in this department. My son is now five and therefore the crazy summer schedule begins. He has t-ball practice tonight and, of course, it is from 5:30 to 6:30. That is smack dab in the middle of normal dinner and bath time. If things weren’t already hectic enough….

So, what to do? I have 30 min. now and less than 30 min. later. *

BISON BURGERS! **

Before practice I have approx. 30 mins. Here is what I do in round one:

Chop onions get them in the pan to caramelize (25 min. in pan with olive oil and worcestershire, salt and pepper). Med-Low heat.
onions
Put pre-chopped baby bella mushrooms in second pan. (20 min. with olive oil, butter, pepper)
mushrooms
Form my Bison patties, season with salt and pepper, return to fridge
patties
Wash and get-ready any other veggies (tonight that includes baby heirloom tomatoes and avocado)
tom and avo

After practice I will have 20-30 mins. to get dinner on the table (technically no one is timing me and demanding their food, but according to the schedule I have set for myself.)

Let patties sit at room temp for 5-10 min.
Slice avocado
Re-heat the onions and mushrooms in their original skillets
Throw patties on the grill (or in pan) to cook. 4-5 min per side (obviously depends on how thick the patties are)
grill
Serve buffet style, with either a side salad or over greens, topped with all the yummy veg!
plate

Bon appetite!

*I know you might be thinking, “holy crap, an hour for dinner on a busy week night!” Well, yes and no. First of all, it is not all hands on time. During my first half hour, I packed a bag for practice, got Will’s glove/hat ready, started this blog, took all the pictures of the food, etc. You could load the dishwasher, start laundry, pack the next day’s lunches, etc. And, second of all, YES. It does take more time to eat this way. Would it have been easier to open a box and microwave or go to McDonalds? Absolutely. But, I had the ingredients in the house, I had the time, and I really believe it matters to eat this way when ever we can. It has- without a doubt- changed my life. It is so worth it. (Oh, and I suck at cleaning. I would much rather cook. So, if I have an extra 30 min. I am going to spend it cooking- not cleaning.)

**I like to choose Bison meat or Grass-fed Beef whenever I can. It is healthier for us because they eat what the animal evolved to eat- GRASS! This makes their meat healthier for us. Lower bad saturated fat and a healthier ratio of omega 3’s to omega 6’s. Also, the animal is healthier and happier. Regular beef/cows are fattened with corn and treated badly and given antibiotics. I have a hard enough time choosing to eat animals, choosing these types of meats makes me feel a little better. A little…

cookedA few weeks ago on my facebook page I declared this year the summer of grilling! I am currently reading cooked by Michael Pollan (as usual- highly recommend) and he begins his story with cooking with FIRE! Not only do I drool down my chin while reading this book, I have a new found inspiration for experimenting on the grill. I don’t have any fancy equipment, but I do have a gas Weber and a new metal box to hold wood chips for smoking. I also have a charcoal Weber that we almost never use. I know that it would be much cooler if I had a smoker and more equipment, but I don’t so I will work with what I have. The good news for you is that you can follow along at home with only the simple-ist equipment yourself. I have big plans of pork shoulder and baby back ribs and steaks and whole chickens and …… drool……

Sunday night I did Beer Can Chicken and it was amazing! (I kind of wanted to say Amaze-balls but when I do I get threatened with violence from those around me- especially Brent). Probably the juiciest, most delicious whole chicken I have ever cooked. I still need to work on the ‘rub’ so I will post about this in the future.

Tonight I made really great bratwurst. It really does make a difference when you buy it fresh from the butcher vs. the grocery store. I know brats aren’t very complicated, but I remember feeling over-whelmed the first time I made them on my own. I had tasted them at a million picnics over the years but didn’t know why some of them were amazing/juicy/flavorful and others were dry/bland/burnt. Here is how I do it:

5 Large Brats
2 beers (any kind)
3-4 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 tblsp. black pepper corns
1 tsp. (approx.) red pepper flakes
3 smashed cloves garlic
onion, garlic powder, sea salt
1/2 Vidalia/Yellow onion (for pot)
1/2 Vidalia/yellow onion diced for topping
gardeneria peppers (if you like spice)
Pickles (if you like less spicey)
diced tomatoes (for topping)
Spicy mustard
olive oil

brat spice

Start by dumping the beer and water into a big stock pot on stove, add bay leaves, pepper corns, red pepper, garlic, seasonings, and 1/2 onion along with the brats. Mix everything together and slowly bring to a boil.

Once you bring to boil, reduce to simmer for approx. 20 mins.

Meanwhile, preheat grill. You are going to want the grill med-high when you throw the brats on.

brat pot

After the brats are done simmering, I remove from liquid and place on foil lined cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper.

Grill 3-5 mins. each side until its at the crisp-ness you like (I like crispy!)

Serve with the toppings! As usual, I know this would be really good with a big ol’ brat bun…. but I do not serve them with bread. I serve with the onion, peppers, tomatoes, and spicy mustard. I also serve whatever yummy veggies I have that week. Enjoy!

finished brat

shrimp

Okay, I am having a little fun with the title, but recently I made some whiskey shrimp and it turned out delicious.

Like that picture? Did it move a little? Hehehe. For those of you that have liked my Candysbrain blog facebook page, you may have already seen this. For everyone else– bon apetite! (and…. you should like my facebook page).

Again, none of my recipes are ever exact. Play with it. Have fun. Make up your own version.

Whiskey Shrimp:

1 pound fresh shrimp, shelled and deveined
4 oz. heavy cream
2 tblspoons butter
chives
salt and pepper
(approx.) 2 shots whiskey
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1-2 tsp olive oil
Red pepper flakes
Lemon zest (1/2 to 1 lemon)

Start with very hot pan on stove. Season shrimp with salt and pepper, add shrimp to hot pan with a little olive oil. Sear on both sides (1-2 min.)
Drink some whiskey
After the shrimp is slightly browned on both sides, remove and set aside.
Add garlic and red pepper flakes to hot pan (might want to turn down slightly, garlic burns fast) with a little more olive oil.
After approx. 1 min. add the whiskey to ‘de-glaze’ the pan. Remove from flame while pouring whiskey or risk losing your eye brows.
Let the whiskey cook in pan while using wooden spoon to release any brown bits from bottom of pan.
Drink some whiskey.
After 1 min. add the heavy cream, bring to boil, reduce to simmer.
Add lemon zest
Put shrimp and chopped chives back in the pan.
Drink some more whiskey.
Cook for another 5 mins. Garnish with more chives.

Eat and enjoy! Seriously so good.

me and dishHi everyone! Again, I apologize for the delay. I have had a broken computer AGAIN! I am not sure why our computer sucks so much, but luckily we have smart friends that are easily bribed (you know who you are). Here are some random thoughts and announcements and a recipe.

1. Attention everyone! I have reached my goal weight! I have officially lost 15 pounds since going wheat free/paleo-ish and want to shout it from the roof tops! I will probably be posting on the weight topic soon. Today is about food.

2. I cannot tell you how many people have read what I have written and responded with: RECIPES PLEASE!!!! If you know me well, you know that I am incapable of sharing recipes because I have never once in my life actually followed a recipe! This is why I am a good cook and a horrible baker! Ask my sister-in-law… Here are some ‘approximate’ instructions.

3. I will continue to share recipes so please stay tuned. On the other hand, these meal ideas are meant to be served as-is! Yes, this sausage dish would be delish on bread or served over potatoes, but that defeats the purpose. I promise you- if you cut out anything ‘white’ or that ‘can be white’, you will feel better. (i.e. rice, pasta, bread). Fat is not bad unless combined with the bad carbs. Good fat is good! Your heart and brain NEED fat. (the fat on your thighs is un-related)

4. I have had a bunch of people concerned about fruits and nuts. To be clear: people ALMOST NEVER get fat on fruits and nuts! They are getting fat on everything else. Should we eat more veggies than fruit? Absolutely! Should we avoid bingeing on nuts? Of course! I have been eating more fruit and fats/nuts than ever before (in my whole life) and have been losing weight. I swear, cut the crap (i.e. processed foods, junk, fast food, soda, etc) and you won’t have to analyze another part of your diet—ever!

Tonight I made one of my husband’s favorites: sausage with peppers and onions. As I mentioned above, this dish is delish with rolls or potatoes, but you really don’t need them. I have heard from many-a-woman that they ‘would love to cook this way but my husband/kids would hate it!’ Well, some parts suck for everyone. Husbands and 5 years olds seem to be the most obnoxious! But, if you make GOOD food with lots of FLAVOR- your husband won’t mind! Your 5 year old is still going to complain. In fact, they are going to complain about anything except chicken nuggets and hot dogs. Get used to it! Expect tears! Know that you are molding a future ‘foodie’.

This is my ‘mise en place’: pronounced ‘miz on plas’. In our American words it means our ‘set up’. I am a crazy busy working mom who is trying to keep it together at the end of my rope with this ‘healthy-gluten-free-paleo-cooking’. The more prep (or mise en place’) you do ahead of time, the less time you will spend in the kitchen.

mise en place

***Candy’s brain tip: If you struggle with technique when it comes to recipe ideas….watch the food network! If you only watch one show, watch either- bobby flay, secrets of a restaurant chef, or the barefoot contessa. Ignore the bread/biscuit/pasta recipes. If/when you are at a goal weight you can play with these recipes too.

Here is what I made tonight:

1 lb. Mild Italian Sausage
2 Grn. Bell Peppers, 1 orange
1 large yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
2 cans diced tomatoes (no salt added)
3 basil leaves
salt, pepper, Italian herb seasoning, garlic powder, red pepper flakes (optional but great for spice!), parmesan, and olive oil

Brown the sausage first: hot pan, little olive oil, approx. 2 mins per side.
Remove sausage and add sliced onion and peppers, seasonings/red pepper. Saute for approx. 6 mins or until soft.
Add minced garlic. Saute for 2 mins. Don’t let garlic burn. Add diced tomatoes and chopped basil.
Bring to boil and then add sausage back to pan. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 mins. covered.
Add parmesan right before serving.

Please enjoy! Please tell me what you think! Please don’t make fun of the cheesy picture of me and my dish!!!! I love answering cooking or chef questions so please ask me!

Holiday Cocktails

Let me start by painting a picture for you: I am driving home from the grocery store last night, listening to the radio, lost in my thoughts. I just stopped and picked up a couple bottles of liquer in anticipation of making some new, winter cocktails. This is what ran through my brain- ‘In-home date night with the hubby, making some fancy cocktails/martinis, sushi for dinner, the house is all decorated, Oooh! Baby Got Back!’ Sir Mix A Lot came on the radio and reminded me that I am NOT, in fact, fancy. I also don’t have martini glasses so I drank my martini’s out of a margarita glass.

So yesterday I posted on Candysbrain blog facebook page (you should like it by the way if you haven’t already) that I needed some good ideas for some new cocktails. I am in a bit of a drinking rut- going to the same things over and over. I wanted to spice it up with a holiday cocktail that you can cozy up with. I got a couple of replies and did a little bit of research and created a few of my own. I thought I would share with you and perhaps brighten up your holidays (or at least help you tolerate your relatives). Here are my four faves-

1. Harvey Wallbanger: I, of course, did not create this drink. My husband is a huge OJ fan (the drink not the murderer) and so this was a no-brainer when we saw it.

1 oz. Vodkaharvey wallbanger

3 oz. Orange Juice

1/4 oz. Amaretto (drizzled on top)

Garnished with an orange slice

2. Bailey’s Holiday Mint Martini: I made up this name. It may very well have a real name out there somewhere.

2 oz. Bailey’s original

1 0z. Peppermint schnapps

Shaken, not stirred. Poured over chocolate drizzle in the martini glass. Garnish with mint leaf if you are fancy.

3. White Christmas Martini: Again, made up the name. Still my favorite holiday movie (Sisters….sisters…)

1 oz. Vodka

1 oz. Amaretto

1 oz. Heavy cream

Sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar. Shaken up good. (Chocolate would be yummy here too, but might ruin the white xmas theme).

4. Hot cider rum: I love this drink! This is one of those drinks that you don’t feel guilty about starting at 10am. There are a million versions of this drink out there. Here is one option:

1 part rum (either spiced like Captains or Bacardi, depends on your preference)

2 parts apple cider (Although, if you want a stiff drink you could use less. I like to use less)

1-2 Lemmons, cut in slices

1-2 Cinnamon sticks

Heat up in big stock pot or crock pot, serve in mugs. A true hot-toddy.

Hope this helps you get drunk in style this winter. Let me know what you think or if you have any drinks you recommend. I am always interested in trying something new!

Porkalicious

I was over at my sister’s house this morning and my niece Clara inspired me for this post. She was talking about a book called Pinkalicious. When I got home and started thinking about dinner and going thru the freezer it hit me- Porkalicious! I have a lot of friends that are intimidated by pork. Here are some easy and delicious ways to cook pork:

1. Bacon- Repeat after me, “I will never try to fry bacon in a pan ever again!” Cooking bacon on the stovetop is messy, fatty, and makes your house smell like bacon for 3 days (all the men right now are thinking, ‘and the problem is?’). Bacon in the oven is the way to go. Pre-heat to 375, line a cookie sheet with foil, (if you have it) put a baking rack on top of the foil and then put the bacon laid out on top of that. After 15 or so minutes you will have perfect, evenly cooked, crispy bacon (and most of the excess fat will be below the rack). Clean up- Let the bacon fat dry and throw foil in the garbage. Simple as that.

2. Chops- Repeat after me, “I will never over cook my pork chops ever again!” You know when you go to someone’s house and they are serving pork chops and they are so dry you can’t chew them? It reminds me of National Lampoons Chritmas vacation when Clark is dunking his turkey in his water glass. Pork does not need to be burned beyond recognition. Pork chops should be delicious and juicy and full of flavor. There are approx a million pork chop recipes out there so you can look them up (www.foodnetwork.com) but there is one go-to recipe in my house that my husband regularly asks for. I season the chops with salt and pepper, then I rub them down with a good stone ground mustard. After the sit for about 30 mins in the fridge, I bake them at 325 for however long it takes to get them to 145 degrees (if you don’t have a meat thermometer, you will always over cook pork and chicken- get one).

3. Tenderloin- Repeat after me, “I will not be intimidated by pork tenderloin ever again!” Pork tenderloin is one of the tastiest, healthiest, and easiest things to make for a family or for entertaining. The way I do it is very simple. Pat dry with paper towel (This is good to do with all meat when you take it out of the package. You want your meat to be dry when you begin.). Rub a little bit of olive oil on the meat, and season well. I feel like people gravely under-season their food. Do not be afraid of sodium if you make 90% of your food at home from scratch. The salt you put on the pork is way less than any thing that has been pre-prepared from the box. I use salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and red pepper flake but you can use what ever you like. Tip: the bigger/fatter the tenderloin, the more seasoning you want to use. After you’ve seasoned the meat, lightly oil a very hot skillet/pan. Add the tenderloin (you should hear the searing sound), let cook 1-2 minutes, rotate, repeat, rotate, repeat. In other words, you want to sear it (turn it brownish) on all sides. Finish in a 350 degree oven. I can’t tell you how long, because I don’t know how big your tenderloin is. Again, cook it to about 145. Take it out of oven and let is sit for 10 min (more if it is really big). You NEED to let it rest or you can kiss the juices goodbye. Remember the promise from #2 about over cooking pork. Your meat can be a little pink. It’s not the same as chicken. Now, you can’t have it rare like beef, but a little pink is okay.

Questions? No more excuses, embrace the pig. Porkalicious!