Paleo Zucchini Lasagna

Y’all, I am so super excited to share this recipe with you! Because it’s delicious. And nutritious. But mostly because it’s delicious. Ya know, Paleo can be really overwhelming, especially in the beginning.. but the more you play with your food (yes, mom, I’m allowed to do that now), the easier it gets! I promise! This recipe was created from a deep craving for some good ol’ comfort food… and there wasn’t any around. Aren’t the best things usually born out of desperation??

Anywhoo, the recipe. It’s fairly easy & makes a huge quantity of lasagna. We ended up eating off of the pan for the entire week – it was so nice to have a quick, ready-made something in the fridge that we could heat at a moment’s notice. I love meals like that, where there’s enough to last for days – especially when you’re too tired to make dinner on a Wednesday night or lunch on a Sunday. Can I get an amen??

PALEO ZUCCHINI LASAGNA

The ingredients!

The ingredients!

  • 5 medium/large zucchinis
  • 1 pkg mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 jar marinara sauce (this one in the picture is sugar/preservative/additive free)
  • 1 cup spinach leaves
  • 1 cup cashews, raw and unsalted
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt & pepper to taste

 

In a small saucepan, combine the cup of cashews and 1.5 cups of water and let soak for 20 minutes.

Rinse the zucchini under cold water & use a mandolin slicer to thinly slice the zucchini.

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Sprinkle salt on each of the slices of zucchini and layer them in a colander over the sink. The salt helps the zucchini “sweat” and removes all excess moisture so your recipe doesn’t end up soggy. Let them sit for about 10-15 minutes.

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After the zucchini has “sweated”, lay them flat on some paper towels & dab until dry.

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After the cashews have soaked, use a food processor to grind the nuts into small pieces.

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Add the spinach to the cashews, along with garlic powder, salt & almond milk and blend until you reach a ricotta cheese consistency.

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In a nonstick pan, brown your ground turkey with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Add the chopped onions and cook until meat is cooked through and onions are tender. Add the marinara sauce and mushrooms and stir until combined. Let cook an additional 3-5 minutes or until mushrooms are soft and then remove from heat and set aside.

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Layer the zucchini on the bottom of your pan.

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Top with a layer of meat sauce, then add a few spoonfuls of the nut “cheese” and spread with a spatula (this took a gentle hand!)

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I finished with a layer of meat sauce & then baked at 350 for 25 minutes (or until heated through). Enjoy!!

The finished product!

The finished product!

I didn’t get a great “after” photo, but you get the idea!! This turned out delicious – the hubs took some to work & texted me after he ate saying, “It tastes just like REAL lasagna!!!” Which is quite possibly the best compliment in the entire WORLD! That’s what I want Paleo to be for you guys – super incredible tasting AND good for you!! I can’t wait for y’all to try this one! :)

PS: I’d love to hear from you! You can find me on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram (username: __theculturedcavewoman__ or just search “itsbrenae” and it will pull up!)

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Paleo Quiche (with a zucchini crust!)

Monday, Monday… dah dah daaah dah dah (<– Sing that. It sounds better, I promise). Soo I’ve decided to make a change – and yes, I do realize it’s not even New Years yet. But I already have a resolution! That’s just how ahead of the game I am. Or… how behind I am. I mean.. really, REALLY behind. So umm.. let’s just go with the former, shall we? Gah, I am SUCH an overachiever ;)

Ok, where were we? Oh yes, the change! So, I was browsing through Pinterest (find me and join the addiction here) & saw this quote that I fell in LOVE with. It goes a little something like this:

“We waste so many days waiting for the weekend. So many nights wanting morning. Our lust for comfort is the biggest thief of life.” -Joshua Glenn Clark.

Wow. That sucker hit me square between the eyes. I am sooo guilty of this. Of always wanting the NEXT thing. I waste so much time wishing away the days or struggles or hardships that I don’t feel like facing. Instead, I’ve decided to start embracing the struggles. Confronting them head on. Waking up each morning and CHOOSING joy. CHOOSING life. Consciously taking a step forward, saying a kind word, smiling at the unexpected, enjoying TODAY for what it is. And you know what I’m most grateful for, guys? I will absolutely fail at this. Daily, most likely. BUT His grace is sufficient. HIS grace. Not mine. Cue deep sigh of relief. Aaaaand all that to say, here’s to happier Mondays! ;)

Alright, onto the recipe! Y’all. This quiche is so delicious that it will literally change your world. Blow your mind. Knock your socks off. Starting to get the picture? Just want me to stop? Either way.. it’s amazing, folks!

It has no dairy. No grain of any kind. 100% paleo and gluten-free. And it is over the top, slap yo mama, dance in the streets FREAKING delicious. Just ask my husband. Who ate the entire 9×13 pan in 3 days. I mean, seriously?! Uhh I WANTED some of that! Welp, guess that means I’ll just have to make another batch this week. Oh darn ;)

PALEO QUICHE (serves 8-10)

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The ingredients

CRUST:

  • 3 cups shredded zucchini (about 4 medium zucchinis)
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 TBSP almond flour
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/8 tsp dried rosemary

FILLING:

  • 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 pkg zesty Italian turkey sausage (I used Jennio’s)
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup broccoli, chopped
  • 1 8oz container mushrooms, sliced
  • 7 eggs
  • ¼ cup coconut milk
  • Dash of salt

Directions for the crust:

First, spray a 3qt casserole dish with coconut oil or olive oil & preheat your oven to 400. Shred the zucchini & blot with paper towels to remove all excess moisture.

Get out as much moisture as you can! It'll make the texture taste much better.

Get out as much moisture as you can! It’ll make the texture soo much better.

Mix the zucchini with the remaining ingredients (eggs, almond meal and spices).

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Spread the mixture in the bottom of the pan and up the sides, making sure it’s even, so it cooks proportionately!

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Bake at 400 for 22 min or until crispy & firm to the touch.

Meanwhile, start cooking the filling. Brown the sausage in a pan with the onion and bell pepper, until the meat is cooked through and veggies are somewhat tender.

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Add the mushrooms and broccoli and cook another 3-5 min. Drain the pan and set it aside to cool.

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Once it’s cooled, mix with the eggs and milk. Pour mixture into zucchini crust.

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Lower the oven temp to 375 and bake for 25 min or until firm. Let cool for 10 minutes and then ENJOY!

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The finished product!

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Yum!!

Like I said, sooooo delicious!! I seriously can’t wait for y’all to try this one – let me know how it turns out for you! You can also find me on Facebook , Pinterest or Instagram (username: @itsbrenae) – I’d love to hear from you! :)

Rosemary Sage Roasted Turkey

I cannot believe it’s already December!! Seriously, where did this year go?! When I was growing up, people would always say how time goes by faster and faster the older you get… and I’m realizing now just how true that is! Makes me want to freeze each moment and enjoy it just a little bit more. And on that note…does the holiday season make anyone else sentimental and nostalgic? ;)

Alright, back to Thanksgiving – we had such a fun week! I got off work early on Wednesday and headed home to start cooking for our Friendsgiving that night! We had invited over some of our friends who don’t have any family in the area to do a potluck type dinner & just spend time together. I’ll do another post soon with some pictures of the decorations (and our crazy friends)! I ended up being in charge of the turkey and I’m not gonna lie.. it was a little nerve-wracking! I didn’t think a 13-lb bird would be that intimidating… but 16 dinners were riding on my culinary success. So I was definitely feelin’ the pressure!!

I debated between a bacon-wrapped turkey and a rosemary/sage rub for a loong time (seriously y’all, it was painful), but ended up going with the herbs.. mostly because you can’t really go wrong with those flavors! I also used an oven bag to help retain the moisture, BUT I overestimated the cooking time and the stupid thing was ready at 4:45… when people weren’t coming until 7. Fail. So I wrapped the entire roasting pan in 2 towels to try to keep it warm & it worked! It stayed hot AND didn’t dry out. Cue the deep sigh of relief. All in all, Friendsgiving was a great night – no one got hurt, the food was delicious & we laughed until our stomachs hurt. That’s what I call a success! Now for the recipe:

ROSEMARY SAGE ROASTED TURKEY (3 hr cook time for a 13-lb bird)

The ingredients!

The ingredients!

  • 1 turkey (12-15 lbs)
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 TBSP chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 TBSP chopped fresh sage
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 meat thermometer
  • 1 roasting pan

Okay, I have to confess something here – raw birds FREAK the beejesus out of me. And my husband is even worse, so he was absolutely NO help. I painstakingly pulled all the innards out while Matt and I created a beautiful symphony of simultaneous gagging and screeching. But we survived. And only almost puked twice. And now we don’t have to do it again for another 365 days. Praise the good Lord.

Getting ready to gut and clean it!

Getting ready to gut and clean it!

Take the skin off from around the legs and remove pretty much everything you see inside the cavity. Then pull back the skin from around the neck, remove the bag of organs & trash. Unless you really want to make something from them. Then by all means, cook until your heart’s content. Just don’t tell me about it.

Rinse the bird well in cold water (I even used my sprayer!) and then pat dry (make sure it’s really dry!). Using your thumbs, carefully push back all of the skin on the turkey. It’s pretty simple – just go slowly and you’ll see how easily the skin separates. This will allow you to spread the rub under the skin, sealing in that flavor.

Don't forget to do the legs too!

Don’t forget to do the legs too!

Umm.. sidenote. How beautiful are fresh herbs?! LOVE it!!

Smells heavenly..

They smell heavenly too!

Preheat your oven to 350. Chop your rosemary, sage and garlic into small pieces.

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It took about 2 sprigs of rosemary to equal 2 TBSP

I used a mason jar for the next part because it’s so much easier to mix the rub this way!

Add the softened butter, olive oil, chopped herbs, garlic, and seasonings into the jar and shake. And shake some more. And then a little bit more.

Seriously - this smelled so good!

Seriously – this smelled so good!

Scoop up some of the rub and place it under the skin of the turkey, making sure to cover the breasts and legs. Coat the outside of the turkey with some of the rub too! Don’t skimp on this part – the more of the mixture on the bird, the better! So slather it on there, nice and thick!

I used Reynold’s Oven Bags and they were great! Matt held the bag open while I slid the turkey in and then we pulled the tie tight, cut 6 small slits in the bag (according to the directions) and placed it in the oven.

Almost there!

Almost there!

It cooked for 3 hours at 350 and was PERFECT. I had a 13-lb turkey, so I would add or subtract about 20 minutes for each pound above or below that. For example, if you have a 12-lb turkey, check the internal temp at 2 hours and 40 minutes. If you have a 15-lb turkey, check the internal temp at 3 hours and 40 minutes. You should check it periodically anyways, especially since every oven is different! I used a digital thermometer & LOVED it, just an FYI.

A few pictures of the finished product! Sorry for the lighting on some of these – still playing with my new camera (more on that later!)!

What a beaut!

What a beaut!

The skin crisped up perfectly!

The skin crisped up perfectly!

Our spread!

Our spread!

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving too! Did you have any mishaps (like your turkey being ready 3 hrs early?)?? What are some of your favorite turkey recipes? I’d love to hear from you!

“Spaghetti” and Meatballs

Welp, this past weekend was quite a productive one! The hubs and I ran a ton of errands, hit up our home away from home (Lowe’s) for several items and just had a lot of fun laughing together. Oh, and we hung the knife strip!!! I know you’re all dying to see a picture, so here it is!

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Yay!

Isn’t she lovely?! I love how it looks – and I LOVE these knives. They’re Wustoff Classics and they are AMAZING. My now-husband bought them for me as a Christmas present (we’d only been dating for about 5 weeks), but he called it an investment into his future HAHA. Apparently the man REALLY liked my cooking ;) Seriously though, good knives can be a big investment, but they’re totally worth it in my opinion.

On a side note, I decided to white-wash our fireplace on Sunday night! It was a bit of an impulsive decision, but it’s been bugging me for awhile now – the brick is a dingy white/tan color and it was pretty dirty. I even tried cleaning it! No such luck. Is it possible to clean brick? Does anyone know?! Anyways, the previous owners also stuck 3 random pieces of granite in the fireplace between the bricks (I don’t understand either), so it was really an eyesore. Finally, I just couldn’t stand it anymore so my husband came home to me flicking watery paint all around the living room (and I do mean ALL around)… and somehow he still managed to smile and (through gritted teeth) tell me how much he loves me. Whoopsie. I still need to do a second coat sometime this week – it doesn’t look BAD so far, but it sure doesn’t look good yet. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this doesn’t turn out to be a botched project… cuz there’s no going back! I’ll keep you updated ;)

Okay, spaghetti and meatballs! This recipe is SO easy, y’all. And it is also incredibly delicious!

SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS (serves 3-4)

The ingredients!

The ingredients!

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • 1 jar marinara (preferably one with no added sugars, etc)
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 2 TBSP red onion, chopped
  • 2 TBSP fresh parsley, chopped and loosely packed
  • 2 basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 TBSP almond meal
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt & dash pepper

Preheat your oven to 400. Cut your spaghetti squash lengthwise and lay it facedown on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until very tender.

You can scoop out the seeds before you cook it or after - I usually do after!

You can scoop out the seeds before you cook it or after – I usually do after!

Next, chop your parsley, red onion and basil and add to a medium sized mixing bowl.

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Red onion and parsley add so much flavor!

Add in the remaining ingredients to the bowl, except the marinara. I’ve found the easiest way is to mix it with my hands, although it’s also the messiest way. To each his own! Spray a cookie sheet lined with foil with a bit of coconut or olive oil and then mix together and form into balls about 1 inch in diameter.

I was able to make about 20 meatballs from this recipe.

I was able to make about 20 meatballs from this recipe.

Bake the meatballs at 400 for about 12-15 minutes or until cooked through. Next, add 1 TBSP olive oil in a non stick pan and let it get hot (the oil will start to get runny). Add your meat balls to the pan and brown for about 1 minute on each side.

Yum! The crispy edges are my favorite!

Yum! The crispy edges are my favorite!

It’s such a quick process, but it adds so much to the flavor! Paleo meatballs can sometimes be squishy because there are no bread crumbs to really bind them together, so the browning will help add some texture!

Heat your marinara in a small sauce pan on medium heat and add the meatballs. Let simmer for 3-5 minutes or until heated through.

Doesn't this look amazing?!

Doesn’t this look amazing?!

Meanwhile, remove your squash from the oven, let it cool for about 5 minutes (or it’ll burn the beejesus out of your hands), then scrape out the seeds! Using the same spoon, scoop the squash onto 2 plates and top with the sauce and meatballs!

SO GOOD!

SO GOOD!

The finished product!

The finished product!

This was like heaven, y’all. The combination of the meatballs and marinara was so ridiculously good, it really felt like we were eating real spaghetti! Shoot, the meatballs were so flavorful and crispy, I could’ve eaten them by themselves! I even had some for lunch the next day and it was just as good. Definitely a keeper. Let me know what you think!

Paleo Turkey Burgers (and sweet potato chips)

Y’all.. I have finally perfected my turkey burgers! Let’s all clap our hands together and cheer!! Anyone else? No? Just me??

Moooving on… the burgers! So easy. So simple. So d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s. I made 10 burgers from this recipe – we ate 4 that night and froze the rest. I LOVE recipes where I can cook in bulk & have (nearly) ready-to-go meals for a later day! It saves soo much time!

PALEO TURKEY BURGERS & SWEET POTATO CHIPS  (makes 10 burgers)

The ingredients!

The ingredients!

Burgers:

  • 2 lbs ground turkey
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 2 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 TBSP ground flaxseed
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese (optional)
  • 1 head Boston lettuce (for wrapping the burgers)

Chips:

  • 3 small/medium sweet potatoes
  • 2 tsp dried rosemary
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Coconut oil spray

We did these burgers on the grill (because I think they taste so much better with a little charcoal on them! ;)), but feel free to cook them on the stove in a grill pan or something similar!

Preheat your oven to 400. Using a mandolin (or a very skilled hand), slice the sweet potatoes into thin slices.

Zyliss mandolin...gettin' 'er done!

Zyliss mandolin…gettin ‘er done

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60 seconds later… aww yeah.

Line a cookie sheet with foil and lightly spray with coconut oil (I actually ended up using 2 cookie sheets because I wanted them all to be done at the same time). Spray a little more coconut oil on top to help the spices stick, then sprinkle the rosemary, salt and pepper over the tops. Set aside.

Lay out the sweet potatoes so they’re not touching (otherwise they’ll cook unevenly).

Next, mince your garlic until it looks something like this:

Garlic flavor is great but a giant chunk of garlic in a  bite... not so much.

Garlic is great but giant chunks of garlic in each bite… not so much.

Then, chop your parsley until it looks like this:

Fresh parsley adds such a great flavor!

Fresh parsley adds such a great flavor!

Chop your red onion (you can find an onion cutting tutorial here) and basil. Add the remaining ingredients along with all of your chopped ones to a large mixing bowl. Now for the fun part – getting your hands dirty!

Almost there...

Almost there…

Mix the ingredients until they are well combined, then form into good-sized patties. I used about 1/4 cup mixture for each patty, just for reference, but feel free to make them as big/small as you like!

Ready for the grill!

Ready for the grill!

We grilled them for about 8 minutes in each side. The best thing to do it to stick ’em in the freezer for about 10 minutes BEFORE you grill so they’re easier to flip! But that’s just a suggestion, not a rule ;)

Anyone else love grilling??

Anyone else love grilling??

While the burgers are cooking, put your sweet potatoes in oven and bake for 12-14 minutes, or until crispy (they are much crunchier straight out of the oven, so eat them fairly quickly! ;))

Wrap your burger in some of the Boston lettuce, pile on the toppings & dig in!! We LOVED these burgers!! They had the perfect flavor, were light & refreshing & filled us up nicely. We are definitely putting these in the regular rotation! Aaaand, I’ll let you in on a little secret – you could also use this recipe & make meatballs!! Talk about a double whammy ;)

The finished product!

The finished product!

Let me know what you think!!

Paleo Turkey Chili

Alright y’all… drum roll please!! The Cultured Cavewoman’s first recipe is hereee!

Starting off with one of our FAVE dinners… it’s super easy, pretty cheap and so freakin’ good you won’t be able to stop at one bowl! PLUS I usually end up being able to freeze 3-4 extra containers of it after we eat, which works out great for lunches later in the week.

PS- One of the easiest ways to ensure you always have the good stuff on hand is to double the recipe! Twice the amount of food for the same amount of work? Heck yes!

PALEO TURKEY CHILI  (yields 4-6 servings, depending on how many ravenous teenage boys you’re feeding)

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The ingredients!

  • 2 lbs lean ground turkey
  • 2 green bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 zucchinis, quartered and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 28oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 4oz can diced green chilis
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 2 TBSP chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp salt (I love to use kosher!)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp honey (My secret ingredient!)

Directions:

First, rinse all the veggies and pile them on your cutting board. Chop the zucchini, bell pepper, carrots, onion, celery, and garlic and set aside (And just in case you’re wondering why I have the tomatoes in a bowl too… my husband and I MIGHT have been goofing off at the grocery store and I MIGHT have forgotten to grab a can of diced tomatoes for tonight. Thankfully I had a random can of whole peeled tomatoes in my pantry, so I chopped ’em right up and called it a success. Ya gotta do whatcha gotta do sometimes!)

Can we all just take a minute and appreciate the color of REAL food?! Seriously. So beautiful.

Can we all just take a minute and appreciate the color of REAL food?! Seriously. So beautiful.

Next, add the coconut oil to your pot and turn the heat to medium. Throw in the ground turkey and cook until it’s browned all the way through. Once the meat is ready, add your carrots and onions. Cover for about 3 minutes.

Carrots and onions will take a little more time to become tender, so toss them in first!

Carrots and onions will take a little more time to become tender, so toss them in first!

Here comes the easy part- combine the rest of the ingredients in the pot and stir!

You're almost there!

You’re almost there!

Cover your pot and let the chili simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes. Because everyone has a different stove, I would suggest checking back after about 20 minutes to make sure the vegetables are soft but not soggy. Soggy veggies = yuck.

Your first Paleo recipe is complete!

Your first Paleo recipe is complete!

Let the chili cool for 5-10 mins and then serve huge, heaping bowls to your family and watch them be impressed ;) Top with chives or maybe a little bit of cheese (for you cheaters out there ;)) and enjoy!

Let me know how it turns out!