Cuban Style Citrus Garlic Bowl

This recipe came out of missing the goodness that is Trader Joe’s grab-n-go food. DH stumbled upon a roundup of the top go-tos for nutritionists somewhere on the Internets, and thought a few of the dishes sounded great – too bad we don’t have a Trader Joe’s nearby.

I was sure I could create something that tasted at least good from the description. Probably isn’t what their version tastes like, but good nonetheless. We also didn’t know at the time, but we have been sorely missing Cuban food. Semi-passable Mexican is hard enough to find here; Cuban is impossible.

This recipe also uses cocktails in place of the bitter or sour orange featured heavily in Cuban meat marinades – I think it worked out pretty well, but were I to make this again, I’d maybe slip a teaspoon or two in after cooking to add a little bitter punch to the dish. I don’t think it would taste *quite* the same, but it will at least give that element that’s present in my favorite Cuban dishes. If you have access to mojo sauce, that would also be fantastic sprinkled over top.

gluten-free, can easily be made paleo with substitutions

Cuban Style Citrus Garlic Bowl

For the chicken:

1 roasting or stewing chicken

4-6 cloves garlic, chopped

1 small white onion, chopped

1 bell pepper – any color, chopped

4 ounce can puréed tomatoes

2 teaspoons salt

Generous sprinkle black pepper

3-4 bay leaves

1 Tablespoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons dried oregano

Juice & zest of 1 orange

1 Tablespoon orange cocktail bitters + more if desired

1.5 cups nice broth

1.5 cups water

1.5 teaspoons your favorite stock starter powder (you want about 3 cups of liquid – I had some nice mixed meats bone broth and use chicken-free chicken bouillon starter powder to make my quick-n-dirty stocks)

For the bowl base:

1 cup long grain rice (or cauli rice if you’re paleo)

1 cup reserved stock from the (cooked) chicken

1 cup water

Generous pinch salt

1 Tablespoon ghee or butter

Bowl accents:

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 small white onion, diced (reserve 2 Tablespoons)

1 bell pepper of any color, diced (reserve 2 Tablespoons)

Neutral oil

Salt & pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon “chicken” bouillon starter

Your favorite black beans (optional. DH found some pre-cooked Cuban style beans in a pouch – they’re amazing if you can eat them. Fillos is the brand)

2 plantains


Reserved raw pepper & onion

Chopped cilantro

Your favorite hot sauce (ours came from the Hot Ones sampler pack we got for Christmas – Hot Ones, if you’ve never heard of it is not only a hilarious YouTube channel filled with celebrities eating ridiculously hot wings, but is also a fun way to play wing roulette at home )

First, dump all the chicken ingredients in your electric cooker or stew pot. I cooked mine for 1 hour on the “meat” setting of my electric cooker. Your mileage may vary.

When the chicken is cooked through and falling off the bone, remove from the cooker and set to cool.

Add the rice ingredients to your cooker (swiping a cup of that yummy chicken liquid you just emptied out of the pot). Set your rice to cook. I left mine in the pot on the warming setting for awhile (half an hour-ish) after it finished, and the bottom browned and crisped a bit – y-u-m.

While the rice is cooking, sauté your diced pepper and onion in 1 teaspoon neutral oil. Season with cumin, chicken bouillon, salt and pepper. Remove when softened and starting to brown. Wipe the pan.

To your wiped pan, add enough neutral oil to cover the bottom. Set over medium-high. Quickly slice the plantains into half inch thick rounds while the oil heats to shimmering.

Add the plantains one at a time (carefully so you don’t splatter oil on yourself) so they are flat and not crowded in the pan (I did mine in two batches). Once they are all nestled in the pan, flip, starting with the first. Let brown and remove to a few paper towels folded in on themselves a few times. Sprinkle immediately with coarse salt.

Repeat with your second batch, remove and salt.

Heat your black beans if using.

To serve, use the rice (or rice analog) as a base, add the chicken and accents and sprinkle with the toppers. Add some hot sauce if desired.

Serves 4 (the rice and accents) and more (the chicken)

Thai-Style Red Curry

Finally! I’ve been trying to make a silky, luxurious feeling Thai-style red curry for a minute and keep screwing something up. Either I don’t let it reduce long enough, or I drown the flavors some how – or I forget a key component like curry paste or coconut milk.

This go round, I forgot to pick up coconut milk. I swear my kitchen eats the stuff. I’ve lost like 3 cans of it in the last few months. But, with a last-minute grocery trip I was all ready to go. Whoo. I’m glad I was, too – this is a good one.

gluten-free, paleo, pescatarian

Thai-Style Red Curry

1 can coconut milk

Veggie, fish or chicken stock (1 of the empty coconut milk cans’ worth)

2 Tbsp. Thai red curry paste

2 tsp. sugar

2 Tbsp. fish sauce

2 Tbsp. soy sauce/coconut aminos

Zest and juice of 1 lime

2 stalks fresh lemongrass, peeled to reveal the soft center – mince 1 and whack the other with the back of your knife to release its flavors while cooking

1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced

1 bell pepper, chopped

1 scallion, thinly sliced

2 Thai red chilis (optional), minced

1.5 cups pumpkin or butternut squash, chopped

3/4 cup chopped okra

2 Tbsp. minced basil

Minced smoked salmon (optional)

Rice to serve

This is a simple slow-cooker dump meal. Prep all ingredients and dump into your cooker (minus the salmon, basil and green parts of the scallions). Cook however you would make a stew.

When complete, add to a saucepan and simmer until reduced a bit and silky. Serve over rice, topped with the green parts of the scallion and chopped basil.

Serves 4

Bulgogi Chicken Bowl

Another dinner from my week whose directive from the hubbs included chicken & rice. This was another fantastic one – though fair warning: it’s a bit spicy. Deliciously so.


Bulgogi Chicken Bowl

1 Fuji or Gala apple

1 pear

1 thumb ginger

1 green onion

1 white onion

5 cloves garlic

1/2 cup soy sauce or coconut aminos

1/2 cup gochujang

Sprinkle black pepper

1 Tbsp. sugar

1 – 1.5 lbs. boneless skinless chicken (I used thighs and breasts)

A second green onion

A sauce you enjoy (I used Bulldog bbq in place of the brand of slightly sweet teriyaki I was searching for)

Kewpie mayo

Toasted sesame seeds

1/2 – 1 cup cooked short grain white rice per person

Make the marinade by blending all ingredients above the chicken until mostly smooth.

Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and add to the marinade. Let sit an hour to the next day.

Place into your favorite multi or slow cooker. Mine has a button for “meats”. I punched that and 20 minutes later, the chicken was done.

Serve over rice, garnished with the sauce, mayo, second green onion and sesame seeds.

Serves 4 – 5

Fall Harvest Soup

This soup feels like a hearty, warm hug but gives a nice light dinner that doesn’t weigh one down.

Gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan, halal, Whole30

Fall Harvest Soup

1 medium carrot, chopped
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cups kale, chopped
2 Tbsp. stock powder (I used a vegan chicken stock)
48 ounces water
1/2 can coconut milk
Generous sprinkle oregano
Generous sprinkle cumin
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
Liberal sprinkle black pepper
Liberal salt
1.5 Tbsp. butter or vegan equivalent
Big hand full pepitas toasted in 1/2 tsp. coconut aminos
Optional: 4 ounces turkey bresaola, crisped until browned in a dry pan

Prep all veggies and add to a slow or multi cooker with spices and liquids (everything but the butter, pepitas and bresaola).

Press the stew/soup setting.

When complete, open the lid and add the butter/butter substitute. Let cool a bit and blend all but 1/4 until smooth. Add the reserved 1/4 back in for texture.

Serve topped with the pepitas and bresaola if desired.

Serves 6

Coconut Chicken Chili

This dish is a light but comforting bowl of goodness.

Gluten-free, paleo, keto

Coconut Chicken Chili

1 lb. ground chicken

2 small bell peppers, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

2 jalapeños, chopped and separated

1/2 large onion, chopped

1/2 small bag frozen spinach

1/2 small bag frozen broccoli

1 chicken bouillon cube

1 can coconut milk

2 bay leaves

2 Tbsp. chili powder

2 tsp. ground cumin

2 tsp. dried oregano

2 tsp. ghee

Salt & pepper


Hand full chopped cilantro

The second jalapeño

Juice of 2 limes

2 chopped green onions

First, prep your onions & garlic and sautée in the ghee until beginning to brown.

While that’s working, prep the rest of your ingredients.

When done, add to the bowl of an electric pressure cooker with the chicken. When the garlic & onions are done, add. Add all the other ingredients but the toppers + 1-2 cans water.

Set the cooker to “stew” and let go.

When time is done, open and taste for seasoning. Add more salt & pepper if needed. Add the toppers and stir.

Serves 4

Paleo Buffalo Chicken Salad

This recipe is easy, flavorful, and addictive. And, when served with something to scoop with like plantain chips or extra celery, it’s even fun to eat. 

For a really cool way to shred the chicken (i.e. with an electric mixer), check out the reference recipe in the link. Genius! 

Note: This chicken is spicy. 

Gluten-free, Paleo 

Paleo Buffalo Chicken Salad

Based on Crockpot Buffalo Chicken by Civilized Caveman

2.5 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 sweet yellow onion
2 Tbsp. garlic powder
2 Tbsp. onion powder
2 big pinches Kosher salt
2 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbsp. butter
6 oz. hot sauce (Frank’s or Louisiana)
3-4 ribs celery
4 Tbsp. ranch dressing (I used Tessamae’s)
2 Tbsp. aioli

Halve and thinly slice the onion. Spread out on the bottom of your slow cooker. Add the chicken in as close to one layer as possible. Add the spices, butter, salt, pepper & hot sauce.

Cook on low 6-8 hours. Let cool and shred.

When your chicken is done, add 10-12 ounces to a large bowl. Dice the celery and add. Add the ranch & aioli and stir to combine. Taste and season as necessary.


Serve with plantain chips or more celery for dipping.

Note: You will have a ton of chicken leftover. This chicken is great with garlic mashed cauliflower, roasted broccoli, and pretty much everywhere else buffalo chicken is good – which is everywhere. 

Slow-Cooked Chipotle Pork Loin

This preparation is slightly spicy and lean and delicious. Would work equally well on beef or chicken.

Paired with the garlic cauliflower purée below, it’s a hearty-feeling quick meal.

Gluten-free, Paleo

Slow-Cooked Chipotle Pork Loin

For the meat

2 lb. pork loin
1-2 chipotles + 1-2 Tbsp. adobo
1.5 Tbsp. cumin
2 Tbsp. garlic powder
2 Tbsp. onion powder
2 Tbsp. Kosher salt
30 cracks black pepper
1/2 cup broth or stock

Combine spices in a small bowl. Chop the chipotle and rub it, along with the adobo, on the pork. Sprinkle the spice mix over all sides.

Transfer to your slow cooker, add the stock, and cook on low 8 hours. Serve over cauliflower purée.

For the cauliflower

1 head cauliflower
4 cloves garlic
1.5-2 Tbsp. butter
Splash some sort of liquid (I used almond milk)
2 huge pinches salt 
40 cracks black pepper

Fill a large pot with about half an inch water. Put over high heat.

De-stem and chop the cauliflower. Toss into the pot, add a lid, and steam 8 minutes. 

Drain and add to your blender or food processor along with the raw garlic, butter, milk, salt & pepper. Blend until smooth. 

The pork serves 4-5; the cauliflower serves 3-4

Paleo “Mississippi” Roast

This is a super simple slow cooker dish that comes together in a flash, feeds a million, and lasts well for a week’s worth of dinners.

Gluten-free, paleo

Paleo “Mississippi” Roast

Based on a whole bunch of sources, but this was my paleo-specific starting spot

5 lb. chuck or rump roast
1 packet as least-extraneous-crap-as-possible ranch mix or 4 Tbsp. paleo ranch mix
10 pepperoncinis + extras and some juice for garnish
2 Tbsp. coconut aminos
1/2 c. beef broth
3 Tbsp. ghee
1 onion
Kosher salt & pepper
Zoodles or roasted broccoli to serve

Slice your onion and pepperoncinis thin. Add the onion to your slow cooker. Rest the roast on top. Sprinkle with half the ranch seasoning, flip and sprinkle the rest on top. Pour the coconut aminos and beef broth in, and add the ghee. Hit with 2-3 pinches salt and a good amount of black pepper.

Cook on low 8 hours. When finished, take the lid off the slow cooker, shred the beef and cook on High (uncovered) for half an hour to an hour to let some of the liquid cook off. To serve, top with more sliced pepperoncinis and a couple splashes pepperonicini juice. This beef is great on lightly sauteed zoodles or roasted broccoli.

Serves a bunch

Pork Ragu With Roasted Veg

This is a simple to throw together dinner that’s pretty damn hands-off. Perfect for nights when you have a million things to do before dinner hits the table and not enough hours to do them.

Gluten-free, paleo, Whole30


Pork Ragu with Roasted Veg

2 lbs. boneless pork shoulder
28-ounce can diced fire roasted tomatoes
14-ounce can tomato sauce
1 medium onion
4 cloves garlic
1 sprig rosemary
3-4 sage leaves
Big pinch red pepper flakes
Kosher salt & black pepper
1-2 lbs. root veggies (I used a mixture of golden beets & rutabaga)
Fat of choice

To make the pork, chop the onion and add to your slow cooker. Chop the garlic and add. Chop the rosemary and sage and add. Add the red pepper flakes. Add the pork. Pour in the tomatoes and tomato sauce. Sprinkle with a couple big pinches salt & a few cracks black pepper. Let cook on High 6 hours.

To make the veggies, preheat your oven to 400F. Wash and chop the root veg into 1/2-inch or so pieces. Toss with a good slug of your favorite fat (I used some reserved chicken fat from the night before) and spread out on a cookie sheet or your largest oven-safe pan. Roast 20 minutes, stir, and roast another 20 or until soft and caramelized in spots.

When the meat is finished, shred with tongs or two forks and serve over the veggies.

Serves 4

Whole30 Slow Cooked Balsamic Short Ribs

This is another of those recipes cobbled together from random inspiration on the Internets. I had short ribs, I’m in the middle of a balsamic vinegar obsession, I have fallen in love with my new slow cooker – and bam. This.

Paleo, gluten-free & Whole30-compliant


Whole30 Slow Cooked Balsamic Short Ribs

1 lb. boneless short ribs
1 15-ounce can plain tomato sauce (check your labels!)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
4 dates, minced
8 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
2 tsp. Kosher salt
1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
1 Tbsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. aleppo pepper
2 tsp. black pepper
Beef stock (optional)

Set the beef in your slow cooker. Mix together the rest of the ingredients (minus the beef stock) and pour over the meat. Add a few splashes of beef stock until the liquid barely covers the meat. Latch your lid down if your slow cooker has latches and let cook 4-6 hours on High. When done, the meat should shred like butter.

If you then reduce the cooking liquid on the stove, the resulting gravy will be great.

I served with a simple parsnip mash (parsnips cooked in the rest of the beef stock for 8-10 minutes and whirred in the blender with a few splashes stock to even out).

Serves 2 for dinner