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WILD BOAR RAGU

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I have to start off by saying, don’t let wild boar scare you. It’s just pork but unlike any other. It’s much leaner and has a richer flavor which works perfect for this ragu. A free range animal grazing on a wide variety of food gets more muscle enhancing movement, which generates a deeper, more flavorful meat than an animal confined and raised only on grain; and there are no antibiotics or hormone supplements to worry about with wild animals.

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Although, if you prefer to not use wild boar or cannot find it, feel free to use beef, or pork we’re all familiar with. You can also use other wild meats like venison and rabbit too which is commonly used in some parts of Italy. The key is to use a flavorful meat so I wouldn’t suggest ground turkey or chicken. Save those two for something else instead. I typically give it a good four hours to make this at least. Most of that time is letting it simmer down. I’ve used a slow cooker and it works great but at certain points you may need to leave the lid cracked open.

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Before I let you go, in case you didn’t notice; this recipe calls for dried porcini mushrooms. Don’t forget you will need that mushroom broth, not just the mushrooms so set it aside. This brings out the earthy rich flavor of the dish entirely. You don’t have to use it but in my opinion it’s a must to pull everything together as one incredible dish. If you happen to tweak the recipe and something amazing came of it, please share!

 

INGREDIENTS
Makes 6 – 8 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small brown onion, chopped super fine
1 large carrot, chopped super fine
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound wild boar stew meat or ground
1 ounce dried porcini, reconstituted in 1 cup hot water and finely chopped
6 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup pork broth, beef broth or veggie broth
1 cup cabernet sauvignon wine
1 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 bay leaf
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 pound bucatini pasta
Grated Romano cheese for garnish

Add the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat with the onions, carrots, and garlic. Stir everything frequently for about 7 minutes until the onions are translucent and softened. Then, add in the chopped porcini mushrooms and tomato paste, stirring often for about 4 minutes.

When the tomato paste turns a dark brick red color, add the meat, the porcini broth and pork broth. Bring everything to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low allowing it to simmer and reduce. Once most of the liquid has evaporated add the wine, stir. Let it reduce again.

When that has mostly evaporated, add the milk, nutmeg, pepper, and stir well. Bring it back to a simmer, add sea salt to taste. Bring the heat down to low and cook it down until it’s the consistency you like.

Serve over bucatini and a garnish of Romano cheese.

Homemade Butter

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Making homemade butter is quite possibly the most easiest thing you can do in the kitchen. Don’t let the idea of having to go buy cheesecloth and use it scare you. In fact you can find them at pretty much any grocery store. Or you can find better quality ones that you can use over and over again on Amazon.com; which is what I do. It’s extra rewarding to make your own homemade butter especially when it only takes 15 minutes start to finish.

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If you have access to heavy cream from a dairy farmer, then even better. You can save a decent amount of money especially for large families if you make your own butter especially if you’re buying a good quality block of butter at the store. Usually I buy grass-fed butter at the store. It has a lot more flavor, it never gets super hard so it’s easy to spread on bread and it softens very quick to room temperature when you want to bake. It’s also a lot healthier for you containing healthy fats because the animal is eating grass (what it normally would in the wild), not grain etc. You really are what you eat.

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When you don’t have a punching bag to let out some aggression, you can squeeze and knead the liquid from the butter. It really is a great stress reliever LOL! I mean, it does help. Anyways, making homemade butter doesn’t have to end at just plain butter. You can control the amount of salt you put into it, which is perfect for those who like salted butter but have to watch their sodium intake. And the best thing of all, making different flavors for all sorts of purposes like melting on top of your favorite cut of steak. I’ll be sharing some flavor ideas very soon. So be on the lookout!

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INGREDIENTS
Makes about ¾ cup

Large cheesecloth
1 pint (2 cups) heavy whipping cream
Sea salt (optional)

Fold the cheesecloth into two layers.

Whisk heavy whipping cream on high speed with an electric stand mixer for about 10 minutes until the pale yellow butter starts to separate from the liquid.

Transfer everything into the lined strainer. Gather the cheesecloth around the solids and knead the butter to form a ball and squeezing out the excess liquid.

Rinse well under cold water. Remove from cheesecloth and pat dry with paper towels.

Season the butter with sea salt and use the back of a spoon to fold it in until everything is well incorporated. Taste a tiny bit to gauge the salt contents to your preference.

Fresh Tomato Sauce

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This is a super quick approach to making a fresh tomato sauce. I wouldn’t give it the credit of a pomodoro sauce but if you love the fresh flavors of tomatoes and basil, this is a great go-to recipe for all sorts of dishes. This will always taste better the next day just like most sauces do. Sure canned tomato sauce is great, but some companies add so much sugar and other crap in it that’s completely unnecessary. Not only that but you really can’t compare quality from fresh to canned. It’s a matter or preference and what you plan to make with the sauce.

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One of my favorite quick meals to make with the sauce is slicing a smoked chicken Italian style sausage like Aidells, saute it in a large pan with some leeks and simmer the fresh tomato sauce in it. Serve over pasta. You’ll have tons for leftovers too. Feel free to add any other of your favorite fresh herbs like oregano, thyme, marjarom and rosemary. It’s that much more yummier!

INGREDIENTS
serves well with 1lb of pasta

7 Roma tomatoes (or 5 vine ripe tomatoes)
5 garlic cloves
¼ cup fresh parsley, packed tightly
12 large fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt

Put all ingredients into a blender and run it until everything is well combined. Pour the sauce into a pan over medium and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Add more salt to taste.

Peach Avocado Salsa

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There really isn’t a whole lot to be said about why everyone should try this recipe at least one time. Especially if you’re a mega lover of peaches. I mean, who doesn’t like salsa? All sorts of salsa? You could keep it safe and use mango instead if you really want to. And it’d be amazing but this is just a whole other level of epic flavor. Trust me!

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It’s Spring and Summer is right around the corner. And I’ve been eye balling The Peach Truck peaches at the Nashville Farmers Market as if I’ve been starved for months. And because I waited long enough, I snagged a half bushel of them. LOL Let’s just say I’ve made a lot of things with peaches so far. And you better believe I’ll be sharing them here! If you’re in Nashville, you must check out the Nashville Farmers Market and at the very least get an awesome brown bag of peaches from The Peach Truck.

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Aside from diving into this pile of amazing with tortilla chips, I pan seared on high heat really nice center cut filets of cod (halibut is even better) with sea salt and pepper then finished a few minutes in the oven. Then topped the whole thing with a pile of the Peach Avocado Salsa. There are no words. Here’s a crappy picture of it… I was too lazy enjoying the food to go grab the nice camera LOL!

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INGREDIENTS

4 peaches, ¼” cubes
1 avocado, ¼” cubes (score each half with a knife horizontally & vertically then scoop out with a spoon)
½ small red onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, finely chopped (seeds optional)
½ cup fresh cilantro, rough chopped
2 limes, juiced
Sea salt & pepper to taste

Toss everything together in a large bowl. Best when you let it sit for at least an hour in the fridge.

Bacon Cheddar Frittata

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This is the second frittata I’ve shared so far, not including other yummy egg breakfast recipes like my individual Quiche Cupcakes and my Greek Frittata… because they’re extremely easy to make, can be healthy if you want it to be and there’s all sorts of different ingredients you can incorporate into them. Sooo, this time I decided to go a little more on the daring side by adding crispy bacon and a fine 2 year aged sharp white cheddar cheese. For those who are extra health conscious, if you’re not eating this with bacon everyday, then you’re FINE!

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Serve this on multi-grain toast, sprinkle on top your favorite hot sauce (I’m a Tapatio kind of girl) and you’re good to go. Keep it low-carb and leave out the bread. Do whatever you want. While I usually like to encourage to add or replace ingredients in the recipe to make it how you’d like it best, you HAVE to at least try it with fresh chopped chives once. It adds so much flavor, there’s nothing like it. Nothing that onions can do! Enjoy.

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INGREDIENTS
4 – 6 servings

Olive oil cooking spray
Olive oil
6 eggs
7 cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1/3 cup shredded sharp white cheddar (aged 2yrs is best)
1 tablespoon fresh chives
3 cooked bacon strips, crumbled

Spray a 9 inch round baking dish.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil and sauté the mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, sea salt and pepper. Stir and let cook until the mushrooms are cooked through. Turn the heat off and let cool.

In a large mixing bowl whisk the eggs, add the shredded cheddar, chives and bacon. Add the mushroom mixture once cooled and stir.

Pour everything into the baking dish.

Bake for about 15 minutes at 400 F degrees or until the top is golden.

Garlic Thyme Baby Carrots & French Beans

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I’m diving straight into this one quickly. You can usually find these baby carrots packaged in a microwaveable steam bag. BUT I never steam my veggies in a microwave! This is so much better. And same goes for these French green beans also known as haricot vert. They’re the best tasting green beans in my opinion. They’re thin, crispy and can be mildly sweet. If you can find either of these sold in bulk, even better… probably cheaper too! When it comes to healthy, flavorful veggies… the key is KEEP IT SIMPLE! Spices really do go a long way. You don’t need a crap ton of butter or canned cheese! Trust me.

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I have made this recipe by tossing everything together into a baking dish and roasting them for about 12-15 minutes for when I don’t want to stand in front of the stove. They’re amazing. If you don’t want thyme, use Italian seasoning, or just rosemary. Honestly, you can use whatever herbs you like, even fresh. Experiment with it. Most times I’ll make a big batch of this, use for sides or simply rough chop some of it and toss into a salad.

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When it comes to cooking your veggies, I truly believe using a quality salt (NOT table salt) is what really makes the natural flavor of the veggies pop. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on salt either, just get yourself a good kosher sea salt to start with. With that said, yummy veggies ready in ten minutes. Who said healthy cooking takes forever?

INGREDIENTS
2 – 4 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil
15 baby carrots, halved vertically
30 French beans (haricot vert)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried thyme
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

In a large skillet over medium-high heat drizzle the olive oil and start sautéing the carrots and French beans. After a couple of minutes add the minced garlic, dried thyme, sea salt and pepper. Stir.

Let sauté for a total of 10 minutes give or take, stirring often.

Thai Inspired Salad Slaw with Shrimp

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There’s so much I can say about this recipe! Bare with me, I’ll try to keep it simple. The “salad” itself is Thai inspired with the intention to add any more of your favorite Thai flavors into the mix. Like fresh mango! Or your favorite chopped nuts. As much as I love all the comfort foods, sweets, high carb foods like almost everyone else; I really do try to keep a balance here on the food blog. A little indulgence once in a while won’t hurt. It takes discipline with a sheer desire to want to feel good by way of adopting a healthy lifestyle. So when I share a super healthy recipe, I make sure I make it very flavorful so that you realize that healthy doesn’t have to be boring! This Thai Inspired Salad with Shrimp is the epitome of that… when something is vibrant in presentation in it’s natural state, healthy, flavorful who wouldn’t want to at least give it a try?!

ThaiShrimpSalad01I made this recipe with the intention to get people interested in giving an array of vegetables a try. Society today is starving of fresh veggies in their diet simply because people go so many years without it that when they eat it, it tastes bland and unsatisfying. Eating vegetables daily helps with regular bowel elimination, lowers blood pressure, lowers cholesterol, keeps the colon healthy, keeps the liver and gallbladder happy as well. You’ll find several different veggies prepped fine just like a coleslaw but tastier! It’s actually even better after a few hours or overnight in the fridge. Now here’s the best part about this recipe that I try to achieve with most of the stuff I make…

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This salad is so multi-purpose, you can add a different citrus instead of lime. Use a different kinds of nuts or seeds. Add spices like ground ginger for a bigger kick. Throw in mango or papaya. Throw in some cubed avocado. Toss it with some of your favorite leaf lettuce. And you most certainly do not have to stick to shrimp. Use any of your favorite fish. I love any white or light fish baked or grilled with this. Right on top. Let the fish straight out of the oven warm up the veggies to get all the flavors marinating more. And if you’re not a seafood kind of person go for chicken, turkey, beef or any wild game. You do want YOU want.

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Confession. I have made a hot dog… it was a turkey hot dog made of all white breast meat (that was my compromise) and topped it with this salad, with some pickles. It was THAT good. I kind of want to slather a good buffalo burger with it… spice meat with some traditional Thai spices. Go big, think creative, make the healthiest foods taste the best it ever could. It’s always possible. I’m a firm believer with the right preparation and the right spices you can make anyone enjoy their least favorite veggie. Okay, I’ll stop there. Seriously though, let me know how you chose to incorporate this recipe. I love all ideas. Enjoy!ThaiShrimpSalad04

INGREDIENTS
6 – 8 servings

DRESSING

1/8 cup unfiltered apple cider vinegar
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 limes, juiced
½ jalapeno, seeded or not up to you
1 garlic clove
1” nub fresh ginger, skin removed
1 tablespoon tahini
20 pistachios (optional)
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Place everything into a blender and run it on high until everything is blended well.

SALAD

¼ purple cabbage, thinly shredded
1 cup shredded carrots (about 2 carrots)
1 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 large green onions, thinly sliced diagonally
1 large zucchini, zoodled or shredded
1 big bunch fresh cilantro, finely chopped
½ jalapeno, finely chopped (seeded or not up to you)

Toss all the veggies and dressing together in a large bowl

SHRIMP

Olive oil
1 lb. raw shrimp, peeled & deveined
1 teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon garlic powder

Mix all the spices together with the shrimp gently in a large bowl. Drizzle a large pan with olive oil over medium-high heat, toss the shrimp and let cook just a few minutes until they’re pink and curl. Flip over if needed to finish cooking through. Set aside to cool.

Grain Free Almond Bread

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Grain free. Gluten free. Low carb. High protein. High fiber. Healthy fats. Nutrient Dense! And it tastes pretty damn good! This is not a sweet bread, it’s a great alternative to everyday bread. Most breads you find in the grocery store use bleached all purpose flour, fortify it with crap quality vitamins and minerals then flavor it with some kind of sugar derivative like the popular high fructose corn syrup that is practically every other packaged good. There are much better alternatives for loaf bread usually found in the freezer section of your grocery store. But, homemade means you can control everything. This recipe is so quick and easy that you don’t need to dirty your standing mixer. Just two large bowls and mix!

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What can you use this bread for you ask?! Anything and everything. I’ve tried so many ways already. And I’ll tell you: your favorite sandwich, peanut butter (or other nut butter) and jelly, sliced bananas with cinnamon, avocado with sea salt, pepper, lime juice and some fresh cilantro, EGGS! Spread some real grass-fed butt on it after toasted with sea salt and your favorite jam. Apples and honey. You see where I’m going with this? Anything and everything!

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Feel free to add any of your favorite nuts or seeds into the recipe too. You can replace the almond butter with a different nut butter too. And if you’re opposed to ground flaxseed (doesn’t add a taste to the recipe) feel free to add anything else in place of it. This is truly a great recipe to help get you started and comfortable baking your own healthy breads. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS
15 – 18 slices

Olive oil cooking spray
4 eggs, beaten
Unsweetened almond milk (just in case)
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 cup almond butter
½ cup almond flour
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a large bowl beat the eggs, add the maple syrup, and almond butter. Mix everything together thoroughly.

In another large bowl whisk the almond flour, baking soda, ground flaxseed and cinnamon together.

Pour half of the dry ingredients into the wet, mix. Then, mix in the last half of the dry ingredients. Make sure everything is incorporated well. The consistency should be thick like cake batter. Add a splash of almond milk if needed.

Coat a loaf pan with olive oil cooking spray, pour the batter in evenly.

Bake at 350 F degrees for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool and keep refrigerated.

 

NOTE: With 16 slices of bread you will have about 6g protein and less than 2g carbs per slice (based off largest slice from the center)

Turkey Pancetta Wraps

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This is soooooooooo good, especially for the coming Summer days. It’s not heavy and so fresh in flavors. You can make this the night before if you have plans the next day and want to bring food. Whether you’re going to the beach, picnic, anywhere. You don’t have to slice them up into individual small bites but if you do it’s perfect as an appetizer. I personally just love throwing it into a wrap and eating it like a burrito but you do whatever your heart desires. Feel free to use chicken and bacon instead. And if you’re not a fan of arugula, try spinach! There are plenty of variations to make so you’re not left board. Use what you love is what’s most important.

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INGREDIENTS
4 – 6 servings

Olive oil cooking spray
1 lb skinless turkey breast
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup mascarpone cheese, room temperature
¼ cup whole grain Dijon mustard
1 ½ cups fresh arugula
1 lemon, zested
1/8 cup honey
6 thin slices of pancetta (or bacon)
4 – 6 tortillas or lavash

Place the pancetta slices on a large baking dish and bake at 400 F degrees for 12-15 minutes or until crispy. Remove from heat and let cool.

Cover the bottom of a baking dish with cooking spray and lay the turkey breast side by side. Sprinkle the sea salt, pepper, Italian seasoning on top and drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 375 F degrees for about 20 minutes give or take. Remove and let cool.

Rough chop the turkey and place in a large bowl. Add the mascarpone cheese, whole grain Dijon, arugula, and honey. Crumble the pancetta into the bowl. Mix everything together really well.

Spread the mixture onto your choice of bread and wrap it together as you wish.

Portobello Pizza

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Going low-carb conscious has been a fad diet that’s stuck for many years because when done properly can be a very healthy lifestyle, reaping many benefits like the obvious weight loss but also help manage diabetes.

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For the most part, in a healthful manner; a low-carb diet can be beneficial for those who are gluten intolerant as well since it does rule out most refined breads or anything of high carb made from wheat, barley and rye. While I’m personally not gluten-intolerant, I do find myself to have more sustainable energy throughout the day by eliminating these refined carbs for the most part, and find healthier alternatives that tastes just as good. If not, better!

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With all that being said, you can go low-carb and still enjoy pizza. If you’re short for time you can whip this up in less than 20 minutes between prep and bake. And the best thing about it is you can make a bunch of them ahead of time and just heat them up fast in the microwave. I will always suggest using a homemade marinara or at least your favorite. I have an awesome Homemade Marinara that you can make in bulk, freeze the extra for a later date or use it for other purposes; since we all know marinara can be used for endless possibilities.

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I kept this recipe super basic and simple so that you have a clean slate to add any of your favorite toppings. I love getting turkey Italian sausage and using that once in a while or doing a quick saute of some thinly slice bell peppers, onions, black olives… okay, seriously anything! I’ve done a Greek style of fresh red onion, sauted spinach with garlic and crumbled feta. SO GOOD! And if you really want to get creative, instead of marinara you can use an alfredo sauce to make a white pizza which up to you can omit any cheese or not.

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One more thing before I shush! Use baby bella mushrooms instead for bite-sized appetizers. All you have to do is remove the stem (no gills) and you don’t have to broil before stuffing them. As always, have fun and get creative. Make the recipe your own and if you come up with something amazing, please share!

 

INGREDIENTS
4 servings

Olive oil
4 large Portobello mushrooms, stem & gills removed
1 ½ cups marinara sauce
Red Pepper flakes (optional)
2 tablespoons grated pecorino Romano cheese
1 heaping cup shredded fontina cheese (or your favorite cheese)
Dried oregano

Remove the stems and use a grapefruit spoon (even a regular spoon will work) to scrape against the gills going along the curvature of the mushroom. Throw them away.

Lightly drizzle a large baking dish with some olive oil. Place the mushrooms in the dish and drizzle the tops with a little more olive oil. Place the baking dish in the broiler on high for about 3-5 minutes depending on how thick the mushrooms are. Flip them, broil for another few minutes and remove from the broiler.

Spoon the marinara sauce into the mushroom caps, sprinkle with as much or little red pepper flakes and grated Romano cheese. Then, top with your favorite shredded cheese and garnish with dried oregano.

Place the baking dish back under the broiler for about another 3-5 minutes or until the cheese is golden.