Ever have one of those days where you have nothing planned for dinner but come home to a pretty bare refrigerator (because you have to go grocery shopping but don't have time)? This is a typical weeknight for me.
As tempting as it can be, don't reach for the junk food! Instead, take an inventory of what you DO have (and take a moment of gratitude). Try to come up with something creative to cook. They say necessity is the mother of invention and cooking is no different. This scenario is usually when I end up creating recipes to share, based on what I have in my kitchen at the current moment. Sometimes it works out; sometimes it does not (ask me about my eggplant lasagna disaster sometime). I know others can relate to this situation, so when it does work out, I feel the need to share it.
All you need to create a healthy nutrient-dense meal is some protein, vegetables, and fat. I like to freeze fresh vegetables while they are in season for scenarios precisely like this (my favorites to freeze from my farm share and personal garden are kale, tomatoes and peppers), but I also have no issue with keeping store bought frozen organic vegetables on hand for moments like this (I myself always have Trader Joe's frozen broccoli on hand). Very little nutrient density is lost during freezing. I always have a back up supply of free-range chicken breasts and grass fed ground beef for emergencies in my freezer, too.
Luckily, this recipe worked out. And I think it's one of my best. It's almost TOO easy, but one of the things I like about my recipes (and I hope you do as well) is that they are usually very simple and can be made with ingredients that you have on hand, because that is how I like to cook. I don't like ingredient lists that are a mile long with quirky things you can only get at Whole Foods. I save recipes like that for weekends, but for the other five days of the week, I need something that I can whip up between the few hours I have between getting home from work and bedtime (which is getting earlier and earlier thanks to my dorky but awesome new blue light blocking glasses).
This particular weeknight, I had my usual supply of grass-fed ground beef, some tomatoes that needed used within the next day or two, and some portabella mushrooms that I had not decided what to do with yet. I always have onions on hand. What transpired turned out to be a really yummy meal reminiscent of Sloppy Joes (except it actually tasted good!)
I thought about calling it Paleo Sloppy Joes, but I kind of hate using the word "paleo" as a qualifier. This may be a topic for another blog post or a rant, but paleo means different things to different people. For me it's more of a lifestyle and mindset as opposed to a strict diet, and using that word can be exclusive to those not following a paleo or paleoish diet but still wanting to eat healthier. I want EVERYONE to eat better, whether they are eating grains the other 6 days of the week or not.
Alas, I'm not very creative with words so I took to Instagram and Facebook to ask my friends and followers to help name the new dish. You guys did not disappoint! While there were some pretty good names, I decided to go with my sister-in-law Angie's suggestion of "Sloppy Bellas", a play on Sloppy Joes but also acknowledging the use of portabella mushrooms. Thanks Angie!
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Serves: 4 (or 2 plus leftovers for lunch the next day)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Add ground beef and onions and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add tomatoes, 1/2 tsp salt, smoked paprika, and the mushroom gills and stems if you kept them. Cook until ground beef is cooked through and tomatoes have broken down. Add salt and pepper to taste if needed.
Lightly brush both sides of the portabella mushrooms with avocado oil and sprinkle with salt. Place the mushrooms top down on a glass baking dish. Scoop out the ground beef mixture and evenly place it on top of each mushroom. Put the mushrooms in the oven for 15 minutes.
I served these mushrooms with a simple side salad so I could get my greens in. If you need more healthy carbs, roasted sweet potato fries (we did japanese sweet potatoes which you can now find at Trader Joe's, Whole Foods and even Giant Eagle in Pittsburgh!) make the perfect compliment.
So how do you like your ribs?
I actually prefer saucy ribs, and one day maybe I will paleo-ize my favorite recipe from the Italian side of my family. Until then I will continue to make them this way, which is actually much simpler and my husband prefers it to the tomato-sauce based ribs I used to make.
This is a very easy recipe and I have made it several times over the past couple months, trying to perfect the spice blend and cooking time. Eating it so often was hardly a hardship; it's great to put in the oven at the start of a football game and have ready for a halftime meal.
I think the spice blend is the star of this show, particularly the chipotle powder. You know I am not fond of specialty hard-to-find ingredients but do yourself a favor and pick up some chipotle powder. I buy it in bulk at my local health food store (from Frontier Organics) but you can also get it here and here, and most likely at Whole Foods. I have probably used this spice more in the last year than any other. If you don't have this ingredient on hand, just substitute another spicy pepper of your choice or regular chili powder (but definitely consider picking this up at some point--you won't be disappointed!).
I've also used this spice blend, along with some apple cider vinegar and honey, to make pulled pork in the crock pot. Look for that recipe on here in the future! (Definitely in time for Emily Schromm's January 2nd Challenge)
Spicy Oven Ribs
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 90 minutes
Amy May's BBQ seasoning blend:
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Combine and mix all the spices. Place the ribs in a glass baking dish or cookie sheet. If you have a long rack of ribs you can cut it up into a few parts.
Coat the ribs with avocado oil. Cover the ribs in the seasoning blend and rub it in so the entire rib is coated. Cook for 90 minutes, uncovered.
We usually eat ours with a side of sliced fennel dressed with olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper.