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Roger’s Butternut Squash Soup

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

butternut_soupThis is a recipe I’ll always be grateful to Roger for sharing with me as it brings such enthusiastic smiles to my family when set at the table. Not that it’s a big surprise – when the squash comes out of the shopping bag the excitement begins. “Are you going to make the soup tonight?!” Warm, creamy and comforting, the blissful combination of flavors and the serenely smooth texture make this dish beg for seconds, thirds, and even fourths. The only thing I can think of that could possibly make this recipe better is doubling it!

Ingredients

  • 1 medium to large butternut squash, peeled and cut into small cubes, about a half inch
  • 3 medium-sized garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 dense tablespoon of minced fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and fresh pepper to taste
  • 2 small to medium sized leeks, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 lb bacon
  • 3 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice

Directions

Preheat oven to 450°.

In a large bowl, toss squash, garlic, and thyme together with oil to coat. Transfer to a 9 x 12 inch pyrex baking dish. Sprinkle generously with salt and fresh ground pepper, and bake for about 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until squash is soft and just turning brown.

While the squash bakes, cook the bacon in a stovetop skillet until just crispy. Remove bacon and toss leeks into skillet cooking in bacon fat until the leeks are tender and translucent, about 5 minutes.

When squash is done, remove from oven and transfer into a large soup pot along with leeks and pan drippings.

Pour stock into pot to cover squash/leek mixture about a half inch over. Add more stock if needed for this.

Bring to a boil then turn down heat and let simmer, partially covered, for about 3o minutes.

Remove soup from heat and purée with immersion blender, or in batches in a regular blender, until smooth. Add milk and blend another minute or two until desired creamy consistency is reached.

Crumble or chop the cooked bacon and stir into the creamed soup.

Reheat if necessary and serve.

Butternut Squash Roasted With Fresh Thyme

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

butternut_squashseedsRunning from September to March, we’re in the middle of butternut squash season, and they are really stunning right now. Crazy good for you, a cup of cooked squash skyrockets with vitamin A (over 400%), half your vitamin C for the day, 2 grams of protein and more potassium than a banana (582 mg). Wow! And did I mention delicious? Grab yourself one of these voluptuous vegetables and give yourself a wonderfully comforting side dish full of flavor and good health.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium large butternut squash, peeled and cut into small cubes, about a half inch (and reserve the seeds to bake as a bonus snack!)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium-sized garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 dense tablespoon of minced fresh thyme

Directions

Preheat oven to 450°.

Toss all ingredients into an appropriately sized bowl to mix, then transfer to a 9 x 12 inch pyrex baking dish. Sprinkle generously with salt and fresh ground pepper.

Bake for about 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until squash is soft and just turning brown. Serve golden hot.

And when the oven has cooled to about 300°, bake the reserved seeds for about 12 minutes. Great plain or give a toss with a little olive oil and salt before baking.

Warm Sweet Potato Salad

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

sweet_potato_saladThis is an adaptation of Warm Mexican Sweet Potato Salad from Jane’s Healthy Kitchen. After making and loving the original recipe, I decided to try a strict Paleo variation that excluded the nightshades (original recipe uses bell peppers and cayenne and chile powders). As I haven’t figured out a way yet to get that exquisite cayenne kick from a pure Paleo palette, my version lacks the delectable fierceness of Jane’s, and I wouldn’t think any less of anyone who wanted to finish this off with a few good shakes of a searing sriracha.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 to 1 1/2 lbs)
  • 2 slices bacon
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 cup red onion, loose dice
  • 2 cups diced zucchini
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano or 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano

Directions

Scrub potatoes and microwave until just done-on-the-firm side. (Ovens vary; mine took 6 minutes.) When done, cut into bite-sized chunks and toss into a large mixing bowl.

While potatoes are cooking, sauté bacon over medium heat until just crisp.

Remove bacon and toss garlic and onions into the pan with the hot bacon fat. Cook about a minute stirring to keep garlic from burning. Add zucchini, lower heat to medium low and continue to cook stirring occasionally until just-soft; about 5 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare dressing by collecting remaining ingredients in a jar and shaking well.

Chop the cooked bacon and add, along with the other sautéed ingredients, to bowl with potatoes. Pour in dressing and stir until everything is well combined.

Serve warm.

Stir Fry

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

stir_fryI love stir fries. They’re easy and are completely cool with being impromtu. They don’t require much thought or necessarily even any shopping. It seems that even when the fridge is empty, there’s always something – a bit of broccoli, celery, the sugar snap peas I keep on hand for school lunches – tucked away in the recesses that with the addition of a few pantry basics, such as onion and cashews, becomes a fantastic five-minute side dish.

I learned from a friend who is a Thai chef that the secret to a good stir fry is, oddly enough, not to stir. Not much, anyway. You want to let your oil heat to almost smoking, throw in your veggies, and let them “grill” on the heat of the pan’s surface for a bit. After they’ve had a chance to sear on the side tossed in, give them a quick flip with the spoon and then let sit some more repeating until they are cooked just enough to still be crisp yet have that delectable seared flavor that turns fast into fantastic.

Ingredients

  • About 1 1/2 tablespoons of favorite cooking oil (I use coconut or olive)
  • A few cups of chopped vegetables of choice, key here is cut everything about the same size for even cooking
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup sliced onion
  • 1/2 cup cashews or walnuts
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Add oil to wok or large skillet and place on stove over medium-high heat. Let this get really hot, a minute or two or until oil is almost smoking.

Evenly combine all the ingredients in a bowl. When the pan is really hot, throw everything in, give a quick stir to coat with oil and then let veggies sit for about 15 seconds. Give a few good tosses and then let vegetables sizzle against the pan surface for another 10 or 15 seconds. Keep repeating until veggies are to your liking, usually a few minutes.

Add salt and pepper, give a few more tosses and serve.

Chocolate Pomegranate Spice Clusters

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

chocolate_pomegranate_clustersAfter burning out on countless batches of chocolate covered raisins, I’ve turned my attention to other things to add to dark chocolate including, just to spice things up, some spice! If the addition of cumin seems just too odd to you, this is great with just the chocolate and arils. But the secret hint of a flavor that is at the same time both elusive and recognizable gives this recipe a sexy mystique that has so far made it quite popular with all of my culinary guinea pigs. See what you think.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate pieces (chips or bar loosely chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • a generous 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

Directions

Place chocolate, oil and cumin in a bowl and microwave for about a minute or so until melted, but not burned. A few unmelted lumps are okay, just stir until these are dissolved and chocolate mixture is mostly smooth.

Mix pomegranate seeds into chocolate.

Form into 1″ clusters and place on plate or sheet of parchment and chill for about a half hour.

These will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days but will probably be long gone before then!

Chocolate Covered Raisins

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

chocolate_raisinsThis is easy. Really, really easy. And it’s delicious from both kid and grown-up perspectives alike. I make it with just four ingredients, but you can add nuts, shredded coconut, chia, other dried fruits or anything your Paleo imagination can come up with for this 2 minute-to-make, low-processed sugar delight.

Ingredients

  • 50g (about a quarter cup) 85% dark chocolate bar chopped or broken into bits (this is even good with unsweetened chocolate as the raisins provide plenty of unprocessed sweetness)
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa nibs

Directions

Place chocolate and oil in a bowl and microwave for about a minute until melted, but not burned. A few unmelted lumps are okay, just stir until these are dissolved and chocolate mixture is smooth.

Stir in raisins and nibs and mix until these are evenly coated.

Spread evenly onto a large plate or sheet of parchment and place in freezer for about a half hour. Remove, break into desired-sized bits and enjoy. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Great to pack in a school lunch.

Paleo Pie Crust

Friday, November 21st, 2014

pie_crust1With Thanksgiving around the corner, it seemed like a good time to post a basic Paleo pie crust recipe. Pumpkin, blueberry, apple or left-over turkey pot pie are just a few ideas for filling this staple with whatever you wish for the holidays.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 3 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon unflavored, grass-fed gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, preferably coconut or maple
  • 8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter cut into chunks (for pure Paleo, use 6 tablespoons ghee)

Directions

Place almond flour, coconut flour, salt, sugar and gelatin in food processor and pulse to combine.

Next add butter or ghee and pulse in 10 second bursts for a about a half minute, then process continuously until the mixture comes together to form a dough.

Transfer dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and press into a flat, round 9-inch disk. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Remove plastic wrap from the dough and press onto bottom and up the sides of a greased 9″ pie dish. Crimp edges of crust. Refrigerator for an additional 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 º and place oven rack in middle position.

Before placing crust into the oven to cook, cut out a round piece of parchment paper to fit on the bottom of the pie crust and cover with pie weights or beans. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove pie weights and parchment and bake for an additional 8-10 minutes until just turning golden brown.

Source: deliciouslyorganic.net

The Cave is proud to announce that we are now selling RAW ORGANIC Coconut water!

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

Although I have personally never been a coconut water drinker, seeing as I am not a fan of the old socks and grandpa’s sofa flavor, this particular brand of coconut water had me seriously reconsidering my stance.

Sustainably and ethically (Fair Trade!) produced by a local San Francisco-based company Harmless Harvest, this wonderful completely paleo sports drink comes with many benefits, beating your regular post-workout drink out of the water.

It doesn’t taste like old socks: it has a refreshing, nutty-like taste and unlike your usual water, you actually feel immediately hydrated after drinking. Because it is raw (the only raw coconut water on the market), all of the good stuff in it (active compounds) is much more potent than in regular, pasteurized coconut water! Besides a few good carbs to replenish those lost during exercise, there are also plenty of very necessary electrolytes, such as…..

Lots of POTASSIUM (more than a large banana and fifteen times more than Gatorade or Powerade), Magnesium, Phosphorus, Calcium and Vitamin C and a bit of sodium to complete the mix.

It also contains high amounts of LAURIC ACID, which kills bacteria and viruses, and boosts your immune system.
It comes with lots of phenols, which are strong antioxidants, helping to reduce inflammation after workouts (keep those DOMs away!) and keep you looking wrinkle-free.

PS…. it’s also a great hangover-cure!

Come to the office or swing by the Crossfit area this week to try a free sip of this awesome paleo post workout drink and see what the fuss is all about. Drink it during or after your workout, and you can even mix it with your favorite protein powder. Large 16oz = $5.00 and Small 8 oz = $3.00
Just remember to keep your bottle refrigerated (remember, it’s raw), and don’t worry about the pink color - that’s created by the phenols when they are hit by light.

ENJOY!

Fresh Homemade Pomegranate Juice

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

pom_juice

No Sugar Halloween Treat

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

pumpkin_seedsIf you’re planning on carving any pumpkins for Halloween, take advantage of the fabulous treat inside with this no-sugar snack recipe that’s nutritious, fun, easy to make, and a great alternative to secretly munching on whatever you’ve sworn to only give out at the door.

Ingredients

  • fresh scooped pumpkin seeds
  • EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
  • salt and seasonings of choice

Directions

Rinse seeds. I’ve found an easy way to do this is to place seeds in a mixing bowl and fill with water. Pumpkin bits sink, seeds float, so after swooshing them around a bit, let the water settle and scoop the seeds off the top.

Place seeds in a pot with about 2 to 3 times more water than seeds, a teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Strain seeds through a sieve or colander and pat dry. For seeds that stick to the towel, just grab on either side and snap towel, seed-side down, over the colander.

Transfer seeds to a plastic container with tight-fitting lid, add about a teaspoon of EVOO, a scant quarter teaspoon of salt and any other seasonings you might like. Cumin and cayenne are good as well as rosemary, pumpkin pie spice mix, or cardamom for something a bit wonderful and exotic.

Pour seeds onto a baking sheet and spread evenly, trying to keep seeds to one layer. Place in oven and let bake for about 25 to 30 minutes. Check and give a stir after the first 15 minutes and then in 5 minute increments after to make sure seeds don’t burn and are cooked to your liking. Store in an airtight container and keep in front of the monster candy snack-pack.

Happy Halloween!