Chicken with Mushroom Cream Sauce

Wow, it has been a while! But then again, I told you that it would be. I have been busy trying to get my side business off the ground – so busy, in fact, that I am taking a little break from it to try to clear my head. It has been very great and very rewarding so far!

Luckily, throughout all the craziness, my Paleo lifestyle has remained intact. I always say that this is the easiest “diet” to stick to! It does have its moments, though. I went to my conference last month and did pretty well, except for lunch. I made the best choices that I could – the best choice probably would have been to bring something to have, but I decided not to go that far. It affected me a little bit, and before I was even over the effects of that, I made a couple of really poor choices at Red Robin when I was there for my teenager’s cast party for their production of Romeo and Juliet. I have just in the last 12 hours gotten over that, and that was two weeks ago! I should really know better – I have been an emotional wreck for these last three weeks (when you count the aftermath of the conference). I seriously think that if I ever stopped eating Paleo, the people around me would have something to say about it, simply because I am so crazy when I make the wrong choices.

My teenager seems to agree with me on that front. While she was doing the play, she had a hard time staying Paleo. She told me that she couldn’t wait until the play was over so that she could start eating better. She said that she felt less stressed and less emotional when she was eating Paleo, and she always seemed to be happy. Who would have thought that bread and grains, which are said to release serotonin when you eat them, could have such a negative effect on your mood?

She turned her grandparents on to Paleo when she stayed with them over the summer, and her grandmother went to Costco and bought me a huge supply of extra virgin, organic coconut oil. It has definitely been a change from the cheap stuff that I have been getting because it has a more coconut-y  aroma and flavor. It has taken some getting used to, but it is heavenly. I may have to get a membership to Costco to get some more, because I haven’t seen anything like that at Sam’s.

One of the reasons why I bring up the coconut oil is because it is a key element of this recipe. If you are using the cheap stuff, then you have nothing to worry about. Usually mushroom cream sauce is made with butter and heavy cream, and I have made it many, many times. My fiance loves the stuff. I thought I was out of luck until a lightbulb went off in my head this past week and I realized that I could use coconut oil and coconut milk. However, since I am using really good coconut oil, the mushroom cream sauce comes out tasting a little coconut-y. Not a problem for me, the coconut freak. But some people may be turned off by it. So keep that in mind.

Another thing to keep in mind: I do not know how long to tell you to cook the sauce. When cooking it, the oil and milk will start to meld, and then it will condense and get a little thicker. Beyond that point, the oil and the milk begin to separate again and it actually starts to look quite nasty. I have kind of figured out where that line is, but I can’t give you a set amount of time before that happens. I had to learn about that as I went.

Chicken with Mushroom Cream Sauce

4 or 6 chicken breasts

1/4 cup coconut oil

2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms

1/2 cup coconut milk

 

Melt the coconut oil over medium heat and then cook the chicken breasts in the oil until they are tender and there is no longer any pink. Make sure you turn them occasionally so that they will brown on both sides.

When the chicken is done cooking, take them out of the pan and add the mushrooms to the remaining oil. Cook and stir them for a few minutes (the longer you cook them, the more mushroom flavor your sauce will have). After the mushrooms are soft, stir in the coconut milk and boil, stirring to mix the brown bits off of the bottom of the skillet. Boil for about three minutes, until thickened. Spoon (or pour!) the sauce and mushrooms over the chicken and enjoy!

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Coconut Heaven

Coconut (halved)

Coconut (halved) (Photo credit: SingChan)

I must confess – this last month has seen me become very obsessed with coconut. I don’t just mean coconuts themselves (although I’m sure they are great – just a little hard to crack into!), but everything that has to do with coconut.

It started out simply enough. When I began my Paleo journey, I realized that the easiest and most economical oil for me to cook with was going to be coconut oil. Ever since that realization, I have only used coconut oil to fry or saute, and olive oil for other things.

Then I met coconut butter, and I began my obsession with that. I made a few batches of that to eat when I get hungry at work, but I got sick of it pretty quickly.

Now my latest obsession is coconut milk. When I first began Paleo, I tried to drink my coffee with the So Delicious unsweetened coconut milk, but I couldn’t stand the stuff. I had thought that anything was better than drinking my coffee black, but I was wrong. I drink it black every day now with no problem whatsoever. I also made a realization about coconut milk: if it doesn’t have the fat in it, it just isn’t as good. I get the canned coconut milk now, which I usually find in the international food section of the grocery store. I try to get the brand that has the least amount of ingredients in it. I have taken to making all kinds of smoothies with coconut milk. My favorite right now is strawberry and almond butter. I just pour a can of coconut milk into the blender, add plenty of strawberries, a few tablespoons of almond butter, and some unsweetened coconut flakes (coconut flakes work as a thickener, I have found). I got very excited today when I realized that peach season is right around the corner. I have been waiting rather impatiently for peach season for about a month now, but I forgot all about it recently with everything that I have going on. I can’t wait to make my first peach smoothie! I have also made a rather delicious smoothie with coconut milk, coffee, hazelnut flour, and coconut flakes. The first one of these that I made was really good, but I made one last week that wasn’t as great. I don’t think I used enough coffee.

Oddly enough, the only coconut product that I haven’t really cared for is coconut water. I bought a single-serving pack of coconut water at EarthFare when I went to buy some coconut one time, and I found it to be quite nasty. However, I am probably going to give it another shot sometime soon because I hadn’t refrigerated it first. I have heard, through my dabbling in CrossFit, that coconut water is supposed to be an awesome after-workout drink. That would be great for me right now. I went to the gym last Tuesday and did my workout, including my squats, and I was so worn out on Wednesday that I refused to go to the gym on Thursday because I didn’t want to be worn out on Friday. I wonder if drinking coconut water after my workout will help with that. I will have to conduct an experiment based on that question soon.

Look What I Found!

I am a huge fan of the Paleo blogosphere, and since I am trying to recommit myself to strict Paleo, as well as exercise, I have been bouncing around the net, trying to find new recipes and things to experiment with. Today I am making 5-Spice Slow-Cooker Pork Ribs, although I am quite frustrated about all of the time I took going through EarthFare to get coconut aminos, only to arrive back home with a bunch of other stuff – coconut aminos were not in my bag, because I forgot all about them. I ended up using soy sauce (gasp) in  the ribs…. my shame is tremendous.

The reason why I forgot the coconut aminos is because I became excited about trying another recipe I found – coconut butter. As I was telling a friend, think peanut butter without the peanuts. I am not all that crazy about almonds, so almond butter isn’t all that appealing to me. There seems to be a bitter aftertaste with almonds that I don’t like, and that aftertaste is a lot more noticeable in almond butter. But I am a HUGE fan of coconut, and when I found the coconut butter recipe and realized how simple it is, I HAD to try it.

Let me just say that I haven’t been able to stay away from the stuff since I made it last night. I am probably going to have to get something better to make it with than my cheapy little food processor, though, because I had to add a lot more coconut oil to get it to paste up than the recipe calls for. Plus, I think I made the crunchy version because my little food processor didn’t do a great job. However, what I did end up with came out quite tasty and I may have to stop by the store to get some more coconut very soon!

Crusty Chicken

About a week ago I cooked chicken drumsticks. I was looking for a new chicken recipe, and this one seemed to be pretty good. At least it was different.

It was good, but it wasn’t impressive. One thing that I like about cooking Paleo is all of the options available as far as spices go. I love sauces because they add big, bold flavor to food. While sauces aren’t forbidden on a Paleo diet, it is hard to find sauces that add wonderful flavor without added sugar or crap ingredients. But spices are totally okay on a Paleo diet, and they are so versatile – you can mix up spices in different ways and create entirely new dishes with your creations.

This is what I did with my chicken tonight. I looked at a few different recipes, got an idea of what I wanted to do, and began to mix it up. I can honestly say that this was a huge experiment since my knowledge of what spices work together is pretty small, but it worked so well that my fiance named the resulting dish “Crusty Chicken.” So, here is the recipe:

Crusty Chicken

4 to 6 chicken quarters

3 tbsp coconut oil

2 tsp paprika

4 tsp garlic powder

3 tsp poultry seasoning

1 tsp cayenne pepper

Salt and black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375. Melt the coconut oil, then mix the all of the spices into the oil. rub the spice mixture onto the chicken quarters and place in a shallow cooking dish. Cook for one hour.

You may want to watch the chicken as ours came out a little dry. I’m considering trying the recipe again using a baking bag for the chicken. However, I do like the crust of the spices on the skin of the chicken – it gets kind of crunchy which adds a nice texture. I know that I won’t get that with a baking bag.

Day 6 – And a Flounder Recipe

So this morning I had baked salmon with dill (very yummy) and broccoli for breakfast. My teenage daughter, in an effort to be helpful since I have been in bed all day resting my ankle, fixed me eggs and bacon for lunch. How could I say no to her? She was being so helpful all day, so I ate the eggs and bacon. I was hungry all afternoon, but it was okay. For dinner I fixed flounder. I had found a recipe on some website that I had to modify, but it came out very well.

Here is what I did:

2 Tbsp coconut oil

2 tsp dill weed

one lemon

four flounder fillets

sliced almonds

First you melt the coconut oil on medium heat in a skillet, and when it is all melted you add the dill weed. While the dill weed is flavoring the oil, apply the juice from the lemon to the flounder fillets (I squeezed the juice all over the fillets and let them sit in the juice while the oil was melting). After the oil is hot and the flounder has sat in the juice for a bit, put the flounder in the skillet and cook on both sides until the fish can be flaked with a fork (I don’t know how to tell you how long to cook it – I don’t time it, I just watch for it to get that “flaking” texture). After you have cooked all of the fillets, add some more coconut oil to the skillet and put the sliced almonds into the oil for a couple of minutes. After that, put the almonds on top of the flounder and serve.

I’m not sure that my boyfriend was crazy about the almonds on the fish, but he did say that it was good.

I also had an artichoke with my dinner. I’d never had one before, but I can assure you that I will probably be having another one in the near future. I got another butternut squash while I was at the store, so that will probably be my dessert tonight. I need something sweet!

Days 1 and 2

So today is Wednesday, my third day going Paleo. So far everything is going well! For breakfast on Monday I had a three egg cinnamon apple omelet – crazy sounding, I know, but it was actually pretty good. I have stuck to huge salads for lunch with no cheese and some type of lean meat thrown in. Dinner Monday was baked chicken and green beans, and yesterday it was baked salmon and salad.

Today I started off with a huge three egg veggie omelet, and I have to say that the eggs aren’t cutting it. One of the books I read said that eggs don’t have as much protein as meats, and I can tell because today I was hungry twenty minutes after eating that omelet. I stopped by the store after dropping my youngest daughter off at school and got some shrimp, and that has helped. I may have to start doing something different with my breakfasts. Yesterday I threw in some roasted butternut squash with coconut oil (my new comfort food) and I think that kept me from getting too hungry.

So I haven’t been able to stay off the scale because I can feel how much less bloated I am. I am already down to the lowest weight I achieved after three months of Weight Watchers. (Those were some rough months!) I do recognize that it is all water weight at this point, but it still feels good to see the numbers go down!