Smiley’s Heavenly Meat Sauce

The recipe below was posted by Smiley.  She is somewhat of a gourmet chef.  The recipe sounds fantastic and I can’t wait to try it!


Can make this in the crock pot – or can make in a “dutch oven” on the stove top – or in the oven it’s a braised dish, so how ever you prefer…..

2/lbs boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into cunks (or THICK cut pork loin chops, or whole beef roast or homemade meatballs)

6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c boiling water
1/2 oz dried porcini mushrooms
cooking spray
1/2 c red wine (pinot noir)
1/4 c beef brother (or chicken broth)
2 large carrots, peeled and thinly sliced on an angle
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced like the carrot
1 can whole tomatoes, drained and crushed
pepper to taste
3 flat leaf parsley sprigs ( I use 1 TBSP dried)
3 thyme sprigs (I use 1/2 TBSP dried)
1 bay leaf (I pick the biggest one I can find, else use 2 little ones)
Couple TBSP tomato paste as needed to :thicken sauce

1.) Combine meat, garlice and EVOO in zip lock bag – let sit for 30 minutes at room temp. Turning occasionally.

2.) Combine 1/2 cup boiling water and 1/2 oz dried mushrooms, cover and let stand for 30 minutes. Drain/Squeeze excess liquid from mushrooms, reserving liquid. Chop mushrooms.

3.) If using crock pot – Heat skillet (else a large soup pot/dutch oven that dish will braise in on stove top), add EVOO. Salt & pepper meat and brown in pot/skillet, remove to a plate ( or place in crock pot if using). Add wine and broth to pot/skillet, bring to boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. (add to slow cooker if using) OR – add meat back to pot, add mushrooms and reserved mushroom liquid, tomatoes, carrots, onion, celery, sprinkle with herbs (parsely & thyme) add bay leaf. (cover crock pot if using and cook on low for 6 hrs) else – cover soup pot and reduce heat, simmer until tender.

So – i’ve used this sauce for so many applications – and yes – meatballs are phenomenal. It’s a very earthy, hearty and rich sauce and I can honestly say, it never comes out the same way twice. I’m like brandon, I eyeball my measurments – so this is just a guideline.

While DH loved Friday’s sauce with the pork loin chop, last night with the beef sirloin tip roast wasn’t as good – in part because I couldn’t find dried porcini mushrooms and had to use dried shitake mushrooms – not as strong a flavor

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New Blog!

In an effort to keep this blog a pure recipe repository, I have decided to start a different blog to record my thoughts on current health and nutrition events.  I hope you will check it out! Click here and let me know what you think!

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Atkins Frozen Meals….The Review!

Well, gang, today is 12/12/12.  The last time in your lifetime to see a date like that.  So let’s celebrate a last with a first.  The first time Atkins has come out with some frozen meals.

all threeI received my review shipment from Atkins last Friday.  Since I already had dinner plans I didn’t get to test drive my first one until the following night.  I want to start off by saying that I really wish these had been around when I first started my weight loss journey.  At that point, I hadn’t turned in to a real food nazi and these would have really come in handy for lunches at the office.  They really are a nice convenience when you don’t have time to cook or prepare. Let me also say that now that I eat a Paleo way of eating, these will never make a regular appearance in my menu.  There are too many questionable ingredients.  Even if you can get past the dairy (I do occasionally throw down some cheese, and butter is a ubiquitous staple in my diet), every stinking one of these meals had soy in them.  See the ingredients list below.  Beef Merlot even has wheat which means that awful stuff known as gluten.

Turkey ingChx broc alf ingBeef Merlot ingNow let’s be fair.  Atkins has never claimed to be paleo or overly concerned with only eating real, whole foods.  They talk about the benefits in their literature, but all of their products include questionable items.  I have highlighted the obvious ones in the ingredients pics above, but there are others too.  My rule of thumb is that if I can’t pronounce the ingredient, it is probably a science experiment I don’t want going in to my body. The other, less obvious problem with them is that they had to use conventional meat in order to make the price affordable.  That means cramped coops for the poultry and CAFO feed lots for the beef.  That also means lots of omega 6’s on top of the seed oils they put in the mix.  That being said, what Atkins has done well is vastly improve the diets of millions of people by making the whole thing easy.  Let’s not fool ourselves….eating an ancestral diet with few if any prepackaged foods can  be daunting and challenging.  These products would come in handy in any pinch situation.  I could even see myself eating one of these (not the Beef Merlot….hello evil gluten) if I was traveling and the only thing I had to cook with was the microwave in my hotel room.  So, with the bad out of the way, let’s talk about each meal and how they tasted.

Beef Merlot

First we will deal with fantasy and reality.  The fantasy being what the box said the meal would look like and what it actually looks like.  Again, let’s be fair….have you ever eaten a TV dinner where the end result looked like the box?  I think not.  So here is what the box looks like and what it actually looks like out of the microwave:

Beef Merlot box Beef Merlot cookedSee the difference?  Anyway, on to taste.  The broccoli was a bit limp.  I prefer mine crispier, but it did have a good flavor.  The meat was exceptionally moist.  It seems that they chose fattier cuts, so if you don’t like the mouthfeel of fat, maybe don’t buy this one.  I, however, prefer lots of fat in my meat.  It is the reason ribeye is my favorite steak.  Plus, the fat in the meat helps to keep you fuller longer.  So the meat was really good.  The sauce was out of this world.  You will see that is a theme in all of the meals I tried.  They really did a good job on the taste of the sauces.  It was rich and creamy and had lots of flavor.

Bottom line: Really tasty, but be prepared for a gluten exposure.  This is the meal that had the wheat from the soy sauce.

Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo

This was probably my favorite of the three.  I know, I know, it has dairy.  Get over it.  It also has soy and seed oils. Like I said, if these things are important to you (and they should be) don’t make these a regular actor in your menu.  Have them on a night when both kids have activities and you just don’t have time to cook or you didn’t think ahead and forgot to lay out the pot roast you had planned to put in the slow cooker (happened to me this morning.  Ugh!).  Anyway, here is the box v. reality comparison.

Chx broc alf box Chx broc alf cookedThis meal’s broccoli was spot on.  The perfect balance between cooked and crispy.  One of my concerns with eating a chicken frozen dinner was the chicken being dry.  I. Hate. Dry. Chicken.  Just about every frozen chicken dinner I have ever had features dry chicken.  This one was moist and delicious.  I cannot rave about the chicken enough. The sauce was also fantastic.  I mean, it was the kind of fantastic that you need to make sure you eat this one alone, because you are going to see just how long your tongue is when you try to stick it in every crevice of the dish to lick up the yummy goodness.  Definitely don’t let your kids see you doing this if your goal as a parent is to model good behavior.

Bottom line: Delicious!

Roast Turkey with Pan Gravy

Quickly to the box v. reality:

Turkey box Turkey cookedAs you can see, just like the others, it looks somewhat different than the box. Oh well.  This was another pleasant surprise in the meat.  Very moist and tender.  At Thanksgiving, the only meat I will eat is the dark meat because the white meat is just too dry for me.  This meat was not at all dry.  The green beans were very tasty, but I thought they needed some salt.  That is saying a lot for me because I rarely add salt.  Just not a very salty dude.  The gravy was pretty amazing.  Better than a lot of the traditional gravies I have had home made.  The flavor profile of this one reminded me a lot of Thanksgiving.

Bottom Line: Another winner!

Well, that’s it.  If you are interested in starting down a path to health by reducing your intake of refined carbs, these would be a good first step.  As I mentioned, they are not ideal, but maybe Atkins will be for you what it was for me.  A tool to lose a bunch of weight that led me to eating an optimal ancestral diet.  If that is the case, these guys, along with many other flavors go on sale in Wal-Mart nation wide on December 15, 2012. They will be at many other retailers after the first of the year.  Pretty convenient timing for all those New Year’s resolutions, huh?

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Pumpkin Pancakes

Ahhhh, the cool bite of fall is in the air.  That always moves my mind to fall comfort foods like pumkin.  So in that vein, my brother in law sent me a recipe for pumpkin pancakes that I am looking forward to trying.  He says it is fantastic, so I hope he is right!


4 cage free eggs

1/2 cup canned pumpkin

1 t vanilla extract

2 T pure, organic maple syrup

1 t pumpkin pie spice

1 t cinnamon

1/4 t baking soda

2 T butter or coconut oil

Whisk the eggs, canned pumpkin, vanilla and maple syrup together. Sift the cinnamon, baking soda and pumpkin pie spice into the mixture.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Then mix the butter in to the batter. Grease the skillet and then spoon the batter into the skillet.  Cook until bubbles form, flip for a minute or so and enjoy!

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Yellow Curry Beef

What I am about to put before you isn’t really a recipe.  Rather, it is an illustration of just how easy it is to eat Paleo or low carb.  Well, it may be a little more tedious for you if you are a low carber because you will have to figure out all the carb counts in anything you make, but the concept is the same.  You don’t need any kind of fancy recipe.  All you need is this formula.  Meat+Veg+Fat+Seasoning=Yummy Dinner.  Or M+V+F+S=YD. You get my drift.

So dinner time came around tonight and I did a little foraging in my kitchen. I had a pound of grass fed ground beef.  Meat….check.  I had some squash, cherry tomatoes, garlic,cabbage and onion from my farmer’s market.  Veg…check.  I have olive oil and like a hundred cans of coconut milk because I am preparing for the zombie apocalypse.  Fat…check.  I had some fresh basil growing out back, some yellow curry powder and and some salt and pepper.  Seasoning…check.  All I had to do was combine it all to make a yummy dinner.  So I browned the beef with some chopped up basil.  While that little party was happening, I sliced the cabbage (1/2 head normal cabbage and a whole head small red cabbage), diced a whole onion, minced 5 cloves of garlic and sliced up one large summer squash.  When the meat was brown, I removed it to a bowl.  In the same pan, I heated up some olive oil and threw in the cabbage, onion and garlic.  Seasoned it with copious amounts of salt and pepper and let it wilt a bit.  Then I threw in a handful of the tomatoes and the squash and let that simmer a bit.  While that was happening, I poured a whole can of coconut milk in to a bowl and mixed in 1 T yellow curry powder.  When that was all mixed up, I added the ground beef back to the pan and poured the coconut magic all over the ingredients.  Cover the pan, lower the heat and let it go, checking and stirring every 5 minutes.  When the squash is tender enough for your liking, its time to eat like a rock star!

Sorry I don’t have pictures.  I really didn’t intend to blog about this, but the thought occurred to me that so many people complain that Paleo or low carb takes too much effort.  This took like 30 minutes all together.  Seriously.  In Waco you can’t hardly get a seat in a restaurant in under thirty minutes, so don’t tell me you have to spend too much time in the kitchen to eat healthy.  Oh yeah…the grass fed beef might run $5.50 a pound, but when you consider I just fed my entire family for less than $10 bucks AND it was super tasty AND it was super easy, it really wasn’t a bad deal after all!  So get creative in your kitchen and don’t stress too much about recipes.  Just remember the formula.  M+V+F+S=YD.

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Red Curry Chicken


I was in the mood for Thai so I whipped this up.

2 lb bone in chicken thighs
1 can full fat coconut milk
3 T red curry paste
1 onion sliced
1 red pepper sliced
1 green pepper sliced
16 oz coleslaw mix (without the sauce, duh. I just didn’t feel like slicing a cabbage)
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Heat olive oil in a ginormous pan over medium high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken to the pan and brown on both sides. While the chicken is hanging out, mix the coconut milk and curry paste until there’s no lumps. Add veggies to the pan and pour the curry mix all over it and mix it around to make sure everything gets some sauce love. Turn heat to low, cover and let it simmer for 45 minutes. Check it every 15 min or so to mix it up a little.

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Bacon Chicken Wrap

So you all know I have gone about living a caveman way of eating.  But I still have many neolithic friends over at  This blog is primarily a way for us to keep up with recipes that we like for us and for new members of our little support group.  With that being said, here is a well-reviewed recipe by Katherine.  She and a few others have tried this and they swear by it.  Are you a low carber? If so, you really should try this.  The ingredients sound really yummy.

3 or 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 package of bacon

2 (3oz.) squares of cream cheese (softened)

1 medium onion

2 Tbsp. butter (melted)

2 Tbsp. heavy cream

Salt & pepper to taste



Mix cream cheese, cream, salt & pepper together. Chop onions & mix in to mixture. Cut a slot in chicken & stuff mixture inside. Wrap bacon around chicken to where it covers chicken & holds mixture in. Put in casserole dish & bake at 350 for 20 minutes & then broil for the same amount of time so bacon will get done on all sides! Remove toothpicks & enjoy!

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