Thursday, January 23, 2014

Low-carbing it on my last night of freedom...

Well, folks. Winter Break has been fun and relaxing, but my freedom is over, and it's back to the grind tomorrow. I have an 8am meeting in the morning, and the weather threatens to dip to almost 20 below. The only thing that can help me face such a fearsome Friday is a delicious, seasonal margarita--and keep 'em coming!

'Tis the season of lovely citrus in the grocery stores, and I recently bought a box of clementines, mainly because my roommate likes to take a couple to work in her lunch bag. But there are a LOT of those sweet little suckers in that small box! So I decided to incorporate them into my favorite adult beverage, the margarita, because I always like at least a little bit of orange juice in the mix anyway. The resulting drink was delicious, but it also got me to thinking about blood orange margaritas, and minneola margaritas...oh, the list may be endless! It's a little taste of sunshine and summertime in the bleak midwinter.

Clementine Margaritas (on the Rocks)

1 cup clementine juice (about 8 clementines, juiced)
1/2 cup margarita mix
juice of half a lime
1/2 cup tequila
1/4 cup Triple Sec
good pinch of salt
agave syrup, if needed, to taste

This makes two cocktails (in 16 oz. glasses).

For dinner, I prepared something that my friend (who recently completed a Whole 30 regimen) was babbling about on Facebook--Paleo Lettuce Cups. She said that her kids usually can tell when she's "paleo-fied" a recipe and made legal substitutions, but they loved these lettuce wraps and couldn't tell they were Paleo. I completely concur--they were SO GOOD! But I sort of un-paleofied them by swapping out ponzu soy sauce for the coconut aminos, by using non-sanctioned brands of fish sauce and sriracha, by using toasted sesame oil, and also by adding a little Hoisin sauce. So if you are following those strict dietary guidelines, be advised of these adaptations. Whether you stay "kosher" to the Paleo program or not, this is good stuff, something the whole family can enjoy together, even if the rest of them aren't watching their carb intake.

"Paleo" Lettuce Cups
(Source: adapted from NomNom Paleo)

1 lb. lean ground meat
1 lb. thinly sliced mushrooms (I used Baby Bellas, chopped)
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons lard (I used toasted sesame oil)
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon grated ginger (I added this)
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (I used rice wine vinegar)
2 tablespoons coconut aminos (I used ponzu soy sauce)
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce (I added this)
1 teaspoon sriracha, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1-2 cups broccoli slaw
1/2 cup shredded carrots (I used 2 cups total of broccoli, cabbage, and carrot slaw)
2 scallions, thinly sliced (I used 4 scallions)
handful of cilantro, coarsely chopped

In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the ground meat with the mushrooms and onion in the lard or sesame oil. When almost all of the pink is gone from the meat, add in the minced garlic and ginger. Keep cooking until the meat has browned through. Add in the fish sauce, vinegar, coconut aminos or soy sauce, hoisin (if using), sriracha, and black pepper, and stir to combine.

Remove the skillet from the heat and add the slaw vegetables, scallions, and cilantro. Serve in iceberg lettuce "cups."

Note: Another non-Paleo addition that's really good here is to toss in a handful of peanuts for some extra texture and crunch. NOM NOM!

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