coconut crusted panfish

One of the difficult aspects of trying to eat clean, is finding food that has flown under commercially grown/raised/harvested radar. It’s difficult to come by. For example: Raw milk. It’s amazing stuff, but in my state, acquiring it has to be a transaction between producer and consumer exclusively. Same with eggs from hens that have not been treated with antibiotics (which is part of the reason I keep my own!) Know and befriend your local farmers! Meat is less difficult to find but more expensive. Again—make friends with all your local producers and farmers.

If you live in a rural area, hunters and fishermen can also be fantastic suppliers of meat and fish (harvested within seasonal limits and legal parameters of course—I shouldn’t even have to say that, but I don’t want anything taken out of context here). When it comes to wild game, you are guaranteed meat and fish that are free of antibiotics and growth hormones.

Thinking about where our food comes from is an excellent practice in conservation, environmental awareness, stewardship, and mindfulness. We take care of the things that hold value, and until we recognize the work that goes into feeding our bodies, we will not value it. For this same reason we teach our children/friends/spouses to cook. There is value in the art of nourishing ourselves and others.

I have a lot of hunting and fishing friends. One of them recently asked if I was interested in some Crappie—a small pan fish that is both extremely tasty and prolific in our local lakes. He’d caught his limit ice fishing and had some to share. Did I want some fillets?
Did I ever!
This recipe came out of his provision.
The idea of hunting and fishing can be a touchy topic for some, and I’ll not get into the ethical arguments here. Suffice it to say I am thankful for the work so many men and women do, on so many fronts, to put food on tables across the country, whether by farming, gardening, hunting, or fishing.
Enjoy!

COCONUT CRUSTED PANFISH

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A dozen fillets or more, depending on your crowd.
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups of unsweetened coconut flakes
4 eggs
½- ¾  cup olive oil
Cast Iron pan (not absolutely necessary, but your fish will definitely fry better if you use a cast iron pan rather than a standard or coated sauté pan)

Begin by making sure the fish have been cleaned well—meaning the bones have all been removed. Nothing is worse than swallowing a small sharp bone while you’re trying to enjoy dinner! Run your fingers along the middle of the fillets and if you feel any small bones remaining in the meat, use a meat scissors and simply trim that section of meat off the fillet. The shape of the fillets will be very un-even and reminiscent of fish sticks at times more than a standard fillet. No worries. The taste negates their appearance entirely.

In a shallow dish (a pile plate works great!) mix the coconut flakes and 1 teaspoon of salt together.

Then in a mixing bowl, mix up the eggs and the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt until frothy.

In a cast iron pan, over high/med-high heat, warm olive oil until a small drip of egg bubbles and fries.

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Immersing each fish fillet in the egg, make sure it is well coated, remove and allow to drip off the excess egg briefly and then drop it into the coconut flakes. Cover and pat until the flakes stick to the entire surface of the fish. Carefully place it in the fry pan and repeat until the pan is full of fillets. Brown for about 1-2 minutes and then turn and brown the other side, turning each fillet over in the order it was placed in the pan so each one is cooked approximately the same amount of time. Place the fillets on paper toweling to absorb any excess oil and serve hot.

spinach quiche with sweet-potato crust

Don’t you just love when you can make a breakfast meal that doubles as dinner? Two birds, one stone. Best thing ever. And this quiche is exactly that. Save, no birds die. Speaking figuratively is hard.
This quiche boasts a tiny bit of spice, courtesy of the salsa, but it’s mellowed by the eggs and spinach, transforming it into a savory dish more than heated one. The ‘crust,’ such as it is, can be either crispy or soft —a similar consistency as the filling, depending on how long you bake it before adding the filling. It’s your choice. Breakfast? Dinner? Crispy? Soft? Whatevs. It’s all delicious. Enjoy!

SPINACH QUICHE WITH SWEET-POTATO CRUST

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Crust:
2 sweet potatoes, baked
1 egg
½ teaspoon salt

Quiche Filling:
8 eggs
1/2 cup water
½ pint jar of salsa, strained and liquid drained away
2 cups organic greens like spinach/arugula/kale/spring greens
salt and pepper to taste
½ teaspoon poultry seasoning

Crust:
Scrub 2 sweet potatoes and pierce skin with a sharp knife, allowing them to breathe while baking (so much better than exploding inside your oven). Place potatoes directly on the rack of a 400-degree preheated oven and bake for 40-45 minutes. Make sure the burner is lined with foil as the potatoes will drip while baking.

Slice baked and cooled potatoes lengthwise down the middle. Scoop potato into a mixing bowl and discard the skin. Add one egg and salt. Mix using a hand-mixer and then spread into the bottom of a greased baking dish or pie plate.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes or until spongy. Add a few minutes if you prefer a more crispy crust. Set aside while you mix up the filling.

Quiche filling:
In a large mixing bowl combine eggs, water, strained salsa, salt, pepper, and seasoning. Mix with a hand mixer until well incorporated. Add in greens and mix again on low. Pour contents over baked sweet potato crust.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 35-40 minutes or until egg is baked through and lightly browned on top.

Note: This recipe makes enough crust and quiche for two 9” pie plates. Freeze one if you like!

balsamic-lemon spinach pesto

Pesto. That flash of green. That earthy sweetness. Summer encapsulated. I love the stuff. On pasta, eggs, fish, in my coffee . . .
Ha.
Just checking to make sure you’re awake.

I brought two gorgeous basil plants inside from the garden when the weather turned cold. “Surely I can save these!” I thought.
Nope.
I tried.
They died.
There goes pesto.

However, today I whipped up a ‘pesto’ with a base of spinach instead of basil. And yaknow what? It’s almost good enough to drink in your coffee.
Enjoy!

BALSAMIC-LEMON SPINICH PESTO

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• Notes:
This recipe is a two-for-one deal. I use my lemon-balsamic dressing in this in place of straight olive oil.

Balsamic-Lemon Salad Dressing:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 teaspoons balsamic vinaigrette
½ teaspoon fresh pressed garlic

a dash of salt

3 cups of organic baby spinach—washed
2 tablespoons Lemon-Balsamic salad dressing
1 tablespoon roasted pine-nuts

In a food processor or blender, pack the spinach down nice and firm, drizzle the dressing over top and sprinkle in pine nuts. Pulse/whirl a couple of times and then remove the cover and scrape down the sides with a soft spatula. Evaluate the consistency at this point. If the pesto seems a little dry add a little more dressing. Too wet? Add more spinach. Whirl again until smooth. Store in an air-tight container.

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a week of whole30 dinners

When I look back on my history with meal planning, I don’t have a great track record. But I’m trying. Progress not perfection. That’s what this is all about, right?
And “this” incudes healthy eating/cooking/noshing/foodblogging . . .

You’ve probably noticed I post a lot of whole30 friendly recipes here at EatWriteRepeat and that’s because I’m trying to practice what I preach. So as you head into your week and your grocery list grows on the sticky note taped to your fridge, here’s five meals (Healthy! Tasty! Whole30-friendly!) to help you in your own progress-not-perfection meal-planning endeavors.
Enjoy!

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Crispy brussles sprouts with a soft egg
Poached salmon in curry sauce
Bone broth and veggie soup with bean thread noodles
steak and veggie tossed skillet
Pan grilled chicken breast, cauliflower rice, and balsamic-glazed baby carrots

baked lemon-garlic salmon with lemon balsamic kale and spinach salad

I was at a book event a while back in this gorgeous little town, and upon discovering I was starving, (happens ALL THE TIME), I wandered into this fantastic little restaurant/pub/bistro that served up one of the better meals I’ve had in my life. And this people, this is saying something.
Perhaps it was because I was so hungry.
Or that I was alone for the weekend ( my four littles stayed at home with kind and generous husband!) —Introverts unite.
Or perhaps it was because for the first time in a long time no one drooled in my food, asked me for things mid-bite, or wiped ketchup across the small of my back while I was eating. (See earlier note about being alone).
Regardless, the meal was marvelous. Balsamic-lemon arugula salad topped with a maple spice-rubbed salmon done just right, and all the black coffee I could drink, (served hot, I might add, without the necessity of microwaving several times over). And did I mention I was alone? Ah yes. Sorry.

Since that wonderful, albeit staggeringly simple meal, I’ve been trying to re-create the experience. Taste-wise at least. And last night I think I got it.
There was dancing in my kitchen.

I am pleased to share my own version with you, slightly easier and more expedient to prepare, because I know how difficult it is to focus or do things with precision when small people are wiping ketchup on your back/legs/butt.
Enjoy!

LEMON-GARLIC SALMON W/LEMON-BALSAMIC KALE & SPINACH SALAD

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1 large fillet of salmon
Enough fresh kale and spinach to feed four people

Salad Dressing:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons balsamic vinaigrette
½ teaspoon fresh pressed garlic
a dash of salt

Butter sauce for salmon:
2 tablespoons clarified butter, melted
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh-pressed garlic
1 teaspoon Italian spice blend
a dash of oregano

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, line a baking sheet with tin-foil and lay the salmon, skin-side down, on the foil. Mix up butter sauce in a small dish, and with a sauce brush, drizzled and coat the fish with the sauce until it is completely used up. Pop it in the oven for 15-20 minutes (depending on the size of the fillet). The goal is to have a flaky fillet that isn’t overly-cooked and dry. You should be able to cut into it and have the flesh flake apart, but still be slightly pink in the very thickest part of the fillet.

Meanwhile, mix up the salad dressing and blend the two greens in a large bowl. Arugula can also be used, or any combination of young greens. Personally, I like how the kale and spinach hold their own with the fish. Pour dressing over greens, one tablespoon at a time, tossing until the greens are coated but not dripping. There will be dressing left over.

Plate greens and top each serving with a slice of salmon, roughly 2 inches wide.

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bone broth & veggie soup with bean thread noodles

It’s no secret I have a thing for soup. We’re friends. It could be because winter around here hangs out for like 9 out of 12 months. So. Much. Fun. Ahem. It’s great for soup though.

Bone broth is a relatively new discovery for me. By name, anyway. I’ve been guilty of over-cooking a soup stock until, when cooled, it turned gelatinous. Gross. Or so I thought. Little did I know it was liquid gold, and one of the best things I could possibly consume for gut health. I’m not going to go into detail here about the creation of, variations on, or nutritional benefits of bone broth. I’ll let Lauren Matheson guest posting at Kitchen Stewardship do that for me because she does such a marvelous job. You can read up on it here

The gist: Bone broth is made from simmering meat bones (chicken/fish/beef/pork) for an extended period of time (8+ hours), until all of the nutrients condensed in the bone marrow, joints and meat are leached out into the broth. Including the gelatin from the bone joins. It all sounds gristly, I know, but it is far less macabre than you might think. I’m not one for being in love with the process, but I sure love the product, and isn’t that they way with most things? And what remains in your soup pot once the simmering process is finished, is the most beautiful broth you’ve ever tasted.

The soup in this recipe is made from a base of pork bone broth, but you could use fish/beef/or chicken as well.

BONE BROTH AND VEGETABLE SOUP WITH BEAN THREAD NOODLES

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1 quart homemade bone broth (Pork/chicken/beef/fish)
Whatever meat remains on bones (removed from bones of course)  once the broth has cooked. Approximately 1 cup or so.
1 cup carrots
2 small zucchini
1 package mushrooms (portabella or chanterelle)
2 large handfuls of baby kale greens
1 package of bean thread noodles
1 teaspoon salt

Take one quart of bone broth and heat to boiling. Add the meat remaining from the bones you simmered and add them to the heated broth. Sprinkle salt into the broth and taste—adjust salt to your liking.

Once the broth is boiling add carrots and cook in the broth until they are fork-tender. Then, add zucchini—sliced into rounds and then half-rounds—and cook for one minute. Add the bean thread noodles followed by the remaining veggies and simmer gently until the noodles are cooked through and tender, but not mushy.

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crispy brussels sprouts with a soft egg

I have this distinct memory of my first brussels sprout experience.
I could wax poetic about texture (there was a lot) and flavor (it was bad), color (definitely bland and kind of . . . wilted), but I’ll be brief and just say that my brussels sprout sensibilities have matured as I’ve aged. I’ve also learned how to cook them a bit differently than whoever cooked them for me that first time. So, in addition to culinary maturity, the actual vegetable dish itself has improved.
It’s all good. In fact, it’s quite good. Brussels sprouts are actually one of my all time favorite vegetables.

Hear that younger self? If time travel is a thing I hope you Google yourself, find this post, and read these words: YOU WILL LIKE BRUSSLES SPROUTS.

Awesome. Now if the time-space continuum breaks you’ll know it’s my fault.
That’s the power of a properly cooked vegetable. And it’s even more powerful when topped with a soft egg.
Enjoy!

CRISPY BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH A SOFT EGG

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1 lb brussles sprouts
3 + tablespoons clarified butter
Salt and pepper to taste
4 eggs

Begin by washing the brussels sprouts in a colander under cold water. Then slice the edge of the bottom stem off, removing the first layer of leaves. Pull these away and then slice the sprout in half. Do this with each sprout. It’s a little tedious, but totally worth it.

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Once all of your sprouts are cleaned, heat the butter in a large flat-bottom pan over med-high heat. If you are so inclined, feel free to add more butter. Because butter.
Toss the cleaned sprouts in the pan and turn with a spatula to coat evenly. Salt and pepper generously, cover, and let the heat do its magic. Leave them sit for 3 minutes or so, and then turn again. Leave for another three minutes and turn. The goal here is to allow the heat to soften the sprouts while gently crisping the outer edges. You are going for a browned-almost-brunt edge on the majority of the sprouts without overcooking or over-softening them. Mushy sprouts are gross. No amount of butter can fix them.

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When the edges are browned, remove the sprouts from the pan, turn down the heat a bit and cook the eggs.  Crack the shells gently so as not to break the yokes and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover the pan and allow the eggs to cook just a couple of minutes—until the yellow yoke is covered with a very think film of white.

Plate the brussels sprouts evenly between four plates, and using a soft spatula, gently top each pile of sprouts with a soft egg.

*makes four servings

pan-grilled chicken breast on a bed of cauliflower rice with balsamic-glazed baby carrots

Sundays are the one day I give myself permission to basically abandon the kitchen to the forces of nature (my kids) and I cook only one meal. They are on their own for breakfast and lunch. Except the baby, of course. I’m a good responsible parent. She gets fruit snacks and a bottle. Kidding. Totally kidding. Mostly.

Anyway. Sundays. One main meal in the middle of the day. Something everyone will eat. Something relatively easy and quick to put together (because the after-church hanger is real). So often that ends up having something to do with chicken. —Soup, occasionally. Or a pot-pie. Today it was pan-grilled chicken, cauliflower rice (because whole30) and baby carrots. I fancied things up a bit for the adults with balsamic glaze on the carrots and a few avocado slices to finish it off, but everyone else requested ketchup, no cauliflower rice. (“Ewww that’s gross Mom!” Whateves), and carrots “with no black stuff.” So much for cultivating culinary taste and appreciation for presentation. Oh well. At least this meal has the benefit of mix-and-match so that we can appease ALL THE TASTE PREFERENCES. Hooray for Sundays.
Enjoy!

PAN-GRILLED CHICKEN BREAST ON A BED OF CAULIFLOWER RICE WITH BALSAMIC-GLAZED BABY CARROTS

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4-5 chicken breasts
1 lb baby carrots
1 head of cauliflower
4 tablespoons clarified butter
2 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette
¼ cup diced onions
a dash of Italian or poultry spices
salt and pepper to taste

CARROTS:
Start by steaming the baby carrots as they will cook away while you prepare the rest of the food. Use an in-pan steam-colander if you have one, or another steaming method you are comfortable with. When done, the carrots should be fork-tender.

CHICKEN:
While the carrots are steaming, heat 2 tablespoons of clarified butter in a large flat-bottomed pan over med-high heat. Sauté onions until caramelized, spread evenly across the bottom of the pan and lay the chicken breasts on top. Sprinkle with Italian or poultry spices, along with salt and pepper to taste, cover and allow to cook for 5-7 minutes. Flip and repeat for another 5-7 minutes. You can check for doneness by gently slicing through the middle of one breast. The meat should be white all the way through. If it is still pink, allow it to cook for a couple more minutes. Remove the chicken from pan and set aside.

CAULIFLOWER RICE:
The ‘rice’ is the messiest part of this meal, but it’s so delicious that it’s definitely worth the hassle. You will need a food processor for this job or you’ll have to be handy with a dicing knife. I’ve used both and prefer the food processor method. Take a fresh head of cauliflower, pare of the greens, chop into small pieces, and then whirl in a food processor on the pulse setting until the cauliflower resembles rice grains. You can do the same thing with a large knife and a cutting board. It just takes a little longer.

Once the cauliflower is processed, warm another 2 tablespoons of clarified butter in the same pan you cooked the chicken. (Make sure you leave all the drippings and spices from the chicken! They flavor the rice perfectly). Add the processed cauliflower to the hot pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and turn with a spatula to cook evenly and mix in all those tasty spices left over from cooking the chicken. Once well-mixed, cover for 5-8 minutes and allow to cook. Turn again. The rice should not be mushy—careful not to overcook or you will just have made the most delicious baby food. So catch it before the mush state and remove from heat.

The carrots should be done by now, and everything is ready to plate—cauliflower rice, chicken breasts, carrots. Top the carrots with balsamic for a nice glaze (granted ketchup isn’t the condiment of preferable choice) and serve hot.

Loaded paleo baked sweet potato

Sweet potatoes are one of those forgettable foods. On their own at least. I mean, sweet potatoes. I remember them at Thanksgiving when they are topped with marshmallows, and also when they’re cut into fries and served alongside a medium-rare burger. But other than that I often forget they’re even a thing.

But they are so stinking good for you, and this brightly-colored tuber (not a root, not a vegetable, what?!) is definitely worth remembering. Sweet, earthy, savory. And because they are whole30 compliant, they act as a nice base to a lot of different meals. This one included. Hopefully this dish will bring them to the forefront of your mind next time you’re looking for a satisfying, almost-comfort-food-category meal.
Enjoy!

LOADED PALEO BAKED SWEET POTATO

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1lb grass-fed hamburger
2 cups homemade salsa
4 sweet potatoes/yams
2 tablespoons clarified butter
2 whole avocados
1/2 cup diced onion
1 tablespoon diced garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Scrub sweet potatoes briskly and pierce each of them several times with a fork or sharp knife. This will allow them to breathe while baking. Place all four potatoes directly on the rack in a 400-degree preheated oven. Allow to bake for an hour or so, or until a fork easily pierces the skin and they are browning. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.

In a large sauté pan, melt clarified butter and sauté garlic and onions until caramelized. Add hamburger and cook through. Drain off excess liquid and then add one cup of salsa. Cover and allow to simmer for a few minutes until well incorporated. Drain excess liquid off a second time. Set aside.

Slice each of the potatoes lengthwise and lay each one open-face on a plate. Top generously with hamburger, remaining salsa, and sliced avocados—one half avocado per potato. Sprinkle with salt and pepper as desired. Serve hot.

—Makes four potatoes