Archive for May, 2011

May 29, 2011

Climbing and my beloved eggs benny!

I had a very accident prone Thursday. I bruised my hip, hit my head, stubbed my toe, slipped and fell…all just at home in half a day. Just one of those days where I know I should be wearing a helmet and full body armor in a padded cell instead of out and about. But of course I had to go rock climbing with a bunch of skydivers instead, sans helmet and body armor. We first stopped by an Italian restaurant, my first time since switching to the paleo WOE (way of eating).

Italian restaurants are not impossible when there are carne (meat) and pesce (fish) entrees on the menu. But when your non-paleo friends pick a pizza and pasta specialty place, you are left with very few options from the insalate (salad) section.

Spinaci InsalataPalermo Pizza & Pasta
“Spinach, prosciutto, roasted red peppers, mushrooms, Kalamata olives, Gorgonzola cheese, Italian dressing” – It was one of maybe two paleofiable options on the entire menu. I asked for no cheese and got balsamic vinegarette on the side. I actually don’t like oil on my salads so I ended up asking for a bottle of balsamic vinegar by itself instead. It was huge and pretty good! Especially because I’m pretty fond of prosciutto and roasted red pepper. Expectedly not the most paleo-friendly place, but it worked out!

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After eating, we went to Stone Gardens. I’m unable to tell if eating paleo has helped my climbing as I haven’t been climbing much and I was a bit of a nervous wreck. I felt super anxious at the beginning because 1. I had been accident prone ALL day, 2. I was there with a bunch of people I had never climbed with before, and 3. I hadn’t climbed in forever. I had only climbed twice in the last 8 months and my climbing definitely suffered as a result. I calmed down as soon as I was in my harness top roping and realized I do still know how to climb. But then we switched to bouldering… I’m afraid of heights, I start to panic half way up when I’m bouldering. As if I trust those pads and spotters to keep me from breaking my neck! Strangely enough, my fear of heights completely goes away when I am harnessed to some sort of life-saving device – parachute, rope, bungee, etc.

See how I’m smiling in the second pic? I smile when I am having fun and I smile when I am panicking and/or miserable. The world may never know why I’m smiling there. Anyway, I hope to do a lot of climbing this summer. Both in the gym and especially outdoors! I love the feeling of real rock all warm from the sun and I love crack. As in cracks in the rock, not the other kind…

Back to food since this is a food blog:

Primal(?) Eggs Benedict 

I LOVE eggs benedict. It’s my absolute favorite breakfast and I think I make fantastic eggs benedict. But I no longer eat my beloved Milton’s multigrain english muffins, so what do I do? I use butternut squash! I may make paleo biscuits one day, but for now butternut squash discs work really well and are really tasty. I might actually prefer it! Some paleo purists may say that squashes are not paleo, but whatever, I’m keeping my squash. I will post soon about the various debates on what exactly is paleo sometime next week. The reason why I say this is primal and not paleo is because you can’t make hollandaise sauce without butter. (Or can you? hmm…) So the following is how I make eggs benedict. I do all the steps pretty much simultaneously to be as quick and efficient as possible. It took me a few tries to get the sauce to my liking and make perfectly poached eggs.

  • Fill a saucepan with water, add vinegar (crucial to make good poached eggs), wait for it to boil
  • Crack egg into a small bowl. Gently pour egg into boiling water, submerging half the bowl. Repeat with another egg.
  • Use a slotted spoon to take out the eggs onto a paper towel (so that it absorbs excess water) when the egg whites are white and firm, but the yolk is soft and runny.
  • Melt about a tablespoon of butter in a bowl in the microwave. whisk in an egg yolk. Add lemon juice (juice from a small wedge is enough) and sprinkle some Tabasco to taste (optional). Put bowl on top of cooling saucepan of hot water and whisk so that it thickens, but doesn’t cook the yolk.
  • Slice butternut squash into desired thickness. Cook in a frying pan, both sides until cooked through. Also heat up the canadian bacon.
  • Move the squash on a plate, pile on sliced avocado, canadian bacon, poached eggs, and pour hollandaise sauce over everything.

Voila! Noms!

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May 25, 2011

Super spicy jalapeños and lots of seafood

I made pico de gallo yesterday! I don’t really use a recipe, I just throw it together until it tastes good.

  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • half red onion
  • 2 tsp-ish minced garlic
  • 1 fresh jalapeño
  • like 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (looove cilantro!)
  • fresh squeezed lime juice to taste
  • sea salt to taste

Usually this results in really good pico de gallo. Yesterday, however, the jalapeño was MUCH hotter than usual. I chopped it up really little and even the tiniest morsel packed a lot of heat! And it’s not like I can pick out tiny bits of jalapeño, so I just had super spicy pico yesterday.

Macadamia nut coated mahi mahi

I admit that I miss fish tacos. So I thought I’d make a deconstructed fish taco without the tortilla. The problem was that I was out of lettuce and was too lazy to make a sauce. But I had mahi mahi and pico! Since battered, deep fried fish is not very paleo, I decided to be clever and coat the mahi mahi in crushed macadamia nuts and almond meal instead. I probably should have coated it in egg first so that the nut mixture would stay on better and be more like a batter. I fried the fillet in bacon fat on both sides to lightly brown the nuts and then popped it in the oven at 375 degrees for about 12 minutes. I got a little impatient at the end so I put the oven on full broil and burnt a bit of the nuts… don’t do that.

With how spicy my pico was, I was really wishing my avocados were ripe. This probably would have been much better with a mango salsa. Or make it Hawaiian with some pineapple since I’m using macadamia nuts anyway. I loved the crunch and flavor that the macadamia nuts and almond meal gave the fish.

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So that was lunch. Then I baked some white chocolate cranberry macadamia nut cookies to take to the BBQ (I may have eaten some, yes I know they’re not paleo) while eating some steak. I eat BBQ before a BBQ. I was hungry! Then I hit the road and realize that I had a small puddle of chocolate in the middle of my car. I had left chocolate, loosely wrapped in its foil, in my car outside and it was actually warm all day. Oh and yes, 85-90% chocolate is included in my <5% non-paleo diet. Anyway, because I am a genius (no, really, I am) I picked it up while looking for a bag and it dripped through my fingers and all over everything. EVERYTHING! There was melted chocolate on my hands, the console, the stick thing, my sweatshirt, my hair, the window… The only thing I found to contain the mess were socks. I drove with socks on my hands, keeping my car warm so that the chocolate wouldn’t cool and harden – most miserable drive ever.

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But a skydiver BBQ made me feel better! It’s easy to stay mostly paleo at BBQs! Other than some cookies, the only other non-paleo food I ate was some cheese. Ok, I had a few sips of beer as well.

Deb made oysters w/bacon and pepperjack cheese…20110525-085052.jpg

…as well as these mussels and clams. I only tried the broth because I don’t like shellfish, except I do eat oysters…

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…and scallops! I actually love scallops! Charles and Gwyn brought bacon wrapped scallops to grill and share with us!

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So back to the topic of spicy jalapeños… I think Jesse was trying to burn us from the inside out. I don’t know why I ended up eating like eight of them. Some weren’t so bad and quite tasty! The others though… people were literally crying. My ears, throat, mouth, and stomach were in the 9th circle of hell. My fingers burnt just by touching them. But I did get an idea to make paleo stuffed jalapeños in the near future. I think my lesson yesterday was to definitely taste the jalapeños before adding them to anything. 20110525-085033.jpg

Luckily, he redeemed himself by bringing mangos and more importantly, with these great lamb skewers! Jesse, I’ll trade you my cookie recipe for the lamb recipe! 20110525-085043.jpg

My “little” Maya has been insanely cranky lately. She’s going through a heavy molt and has pin feathers everywhere. I’d be cranky too with pins poking through my skin everywhere. I think I’ve permanently lost hearing in both ears the past few days. This was like her one sweet, quiet moment yesterday, playing on my lap.20110525-085119.jpg

May 24, 2011

Carnitas attempt #1

I never realized how time consuming a food blog really is. I have to think about what I will post/cook/eat and take pictures all the time, as if I didn’t already think of food enough before blogging. I’m surprised that I’ve managed to keep it up! I’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback, which is awesome. But what’s even more awesome is that I’ve inspired several people to try a new way of eating that is full of real, whole foods. I’m just so happy to be able to share something simple that has improved my life in so many ways! It seems hard at first to let go of comfort foods and sugar addictions, but it gets easier and easier.

Stovetop Carnitas
Krisanne suggested this recipe for making stovetop carnitas. I don’t know if I just did it wrong or am super picky about my carnitas, but it wasn’t great. It was good enough for me to eat it, but not savor every single bite. I didn’t have coriander on hand and I only used a pound of pork (I cut the recipe in third), so I’m not sure if that affected the final product. It took close to 3 hours for all the water to evaporate. The meat did pull apart, but it wasn’t as tender as carnitas made in a slowcooker. It was a little dry in certain parts. I also did not care for the flavor, which was like an acidic cumin POW and didn’t let the natural flavor of pork shine through.

Halfway done, smelling pretty good.

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The best thing I did was add the onions when the water was almost entirely gone. The onions caramelized in the pork fat and remaining juices and turned out suuuuper tasty! Especially with little flakes of pork on it.

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It looks really good, but alas…
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Next time I’m buying a crockpot! Anyone have a favorite carnitas recipe for me to try?

Because I just bought a huge thing of pork shoulder at the grocery store!!

I was craving blueberries and oranges late last night, so I went to the store. I should probably post more on what I buy at the store, but this particular trip isn’t representative of a typical grocery haul. It was just to satisfy my cravings. I got blueberries, a grapefruit, and two kinds of oranges. One I’ve never heard of and don’t remember the name of and won’t buy again. The navel orange was suuuper good! And it’s definitely not grapefruit season anymore. I also got cilantro and a red onion so I can make pico de gallo today. Pork so I can continue this weeklong pork feast I’ve been having. Aaand COCONUT WATER!!! Which is awesome especially after a workout and very much a paleo drink!

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May 21, 2011

So much pork lately!

I actually hated pork and didn’t eat it for close to 10 years at one point in my life. To be honest, I still don’t really like bacon. Blasphemy, I know. But several years ago at Restaurant Zoë, the server recommended their braised pork belly. I thought, why not give it a try? One bite and I was in love. IN LOVE. I started eating pork again. Then I discovered the Cuban Roast sandwiches at Paseo and my appreciation for pork grew.

Roasted Pork Belly
I still love pork belly and for the first time, I tried it at home. I was too lazy to braise it, so I found these instructions on how to roast it. I kept the skin on because people were raving about the crispy rind. I scored the skin at 1cm intervals, I sprinkled sea salt on it, and I put it on sliced onions so that the meat wouldn’t touch the hot pan. I added garlic because I love roasted garlic way too much. The onions ended up being the best part of all this. With pork juices running down the onions as it roasts, the onions are phenomenal! I did not care for the crispy rind. I’ll definitely try braising it next time…. maybe without the skin.

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Roasted Pork Shoulder

After my underwhelming experience with roasted pork belly, I went back to using pork shoulder. So much better! I had always just roasted it in a pan with some garlic after rubbing it in garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil, and italian seasoning. This time I roasted it on onions and added cumin and smoked paprika to the rub. Turned out amaaaazing! The cumin definitely added a little something extra to the pork. And yes, I know I eat a lot of garlic. It’s good for you!

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Taco SaladEl Chupacabra

Taco salads usually come with a lot of non-paleo things. I just asked them to leave out the tortilla bowl, rice, beans, and cheese. Which left me with pico de gallo, lettuce, olives, avocado, and my choice of meat. Of course I chose carnitas!!! It wasn’t the best I’ve had, but still pretty darn tasty! Can you mess up carnitas though? They did give me entirely too many olives, I only ate like 3 since I don’t care for them. They also left out the avocado!!! 😦 Anyway, this is another great paleo-friendly option at Mexican restaurants. I should also mention that El Chupacabra serves strong awesome tequila drinks!

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May 18, 2011

I can stay paleo eating Paseo! *happy dance*

Back to posting about food! Yesterday was full of all sorts of food! I even deviated a little from being paleo!

Non-marinated Korean-style boneless beef short ribs

One of my favorite ways to eat beef since it’s so quick and tasty! Cut the meat and in a bowl, mix it with some salt, pepper, and sesame oil. The sesame oil adds a really nice flavor and is what makes it Korean to me. In a pan, I start cooking the garlic, onions, and mushrooms before adding the meat.
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I ate it with a type of radish kimchi (musengchi).
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Cuban Roast Plato Paseo
Oh how I love Paseo. The Cuban Roast sandwich there may be the best sandwich I’ve ever had in my life. Yesterday was the first time I went since adopting the paleo way of eating. Since the best part about my beloved sandwich is the amazingly succulent marinated roasted pork shoulder, I decided on getting the Cuban Roast Plato entree. All entrees come with a “house salad consisting of crisp romaine lettuce, razor thin sliced purple cabbage, pickled julienne cut beets & cilantro sprigs drizzled w/ our house vinaigrette & extra virgin olive oil. Accompanied w/ fluffy jasmine rice, critically acclaimed vegetarian black beans & seasoned corn on the cob.” I asked for just the meat with extra salad. The guy taking my order looked at me like I was crazy to pass on their beans and corn. Apparently extra means gigantic at Paseo… look at all that salad! It’s SOOOO good with the cilantro and the beets! I didn’t miss the rice, beans, or corn at all! I did miss the caramelized onions and jalapeños that come on the sandwich though, I’ll see if I can add those next time! Their onions are pretty special!
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Vegetable Delight Djan’s Thai Restaurant
I suppose ordering one of the coconut milk based curries with steamed veggies would have been more paleo, but I was craving some stir-fry. I chose the vegetable delight from the wok fare section of the menu: “Choice of meat stir-fried with assorted vegetables: broccoli, mushrooms, spinach, carrots, napa and cabbage.” I went with chicken. It was a bit salty to eat without rice, but still very good with all the veggies!
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A non-paleo treat that doesn’t make me sick!
Since I was in Wallingford, I could not keep myself away from Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream. Sometimes they have non-dairy coconut milk ice cream, but not yesterday. So I got a kid’s scoop of their thai tea ice cream. It was deeeelicious! Since I’m not 100% strict paleo, a little quality ice cream here and there is a welcome treat. By quality I mean as natural as possible without all sorts of chemicals added in. I find that I don’t get sick after eating a little ice cream like I do with cake.
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May 15, 2011

My flower outfit!

Note: This post has nothing to do with the paleo diet.

I think making costumes and being crafty with a hot glue gun is now a legitimate hobby for me. So fun!

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This is what I wore to Beyond Wonderland last night. I got stopped and complimented at least a hundred times on my makeup. Though a bunch of random people at the show took pics of me, I didn’t take my camera. So these pics were taken when I got home. I found these awesome purple fake eyelashes and used bright green, purple, and yellow eyeshadow. I glued the fake flower on my face using eyelash glue. Everything stayed on remarkably well considering that I was dancing for 5 hours with 10,000 other people. I made the flower sash using tulle, fake flowers, and a hot glue gun. The bandeau top was so comfortable and secure all night! And who knew that I could pull off high waisted hot shorts?!? Maybe I can attribute that to being paleo so that this post is somewhat relevant to my blog?

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May 13, 2011

Lots of fish and birthday cake (not together!)

I turned 24 on Wednesday! Since this was my birthday week, I’ve eaten out a bunch and also had several slices of birthday cake, as well as a cupcake or two.

Eating paleo, my sugar intake has been greatly reduced. I used to eat cakes, cookies, scones, muffins, cupcakes, etc. every single day. I had a massive sweet tooth. I lost my addiction to sugary baked goods when I went paleo and stopped eating them. The first few bites of cake these days are overwhelmingly sweet. My mouth feels like it’s burning from how sweet it is. But if I keep eating, it starts to taste better and better. One sizable slice of cake later, I went to sleep and woke up with a massive craving for more cake. And since I make it a point not to deny myself anything I really want, I gave in. Only to regret it the entire rest of the day from feeling nauseous and having a headache. Is it worth getting sick for some birthday cake? Not really, but I still want cake on my birthdays. Just one small slice next time.

The theme for eating out this week seems to be fish!

Swordfish – Redhook Brewery
Can it get less paleo than a brewery full of beer and standard bar food? But I had no trouble at all finding something paleo-friendly on the menu at Redhook. I chose the swordfish entree: “Grilled swordfish topped with pineapple salsa and served with vegetable rice pilaf and broccoli. Gluten free!.” I asked for no rice and extra broccoli. It was a great light lunch!
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Halibut – Mariposa at Neiman Marcus
I shopped for close to 6 hours yesterday with my mom. There really wasn’t much out there that I liked, but I did pick up a few things. We took a lunch break at the little restaurant inside Neiman Marcus. I chose the halibut entree which was labeled as gluten free and a healthy choice. It was halibut with broccolini, carrots, and red bell peppers in a broth with some noodles. The halibut was perfectly cooked. I didn’t eat the noodles.
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Sashimi – Kisaku
I could eat sushi every day. I love it. I am admittedly a sushi snob who only really eats at three places from three chefs. Luckily, I can still eat a lot of sushi and still be paleo. I just switched from omakase nigiri to omakase sashimi. But I still sneak in a few of my favorite nigiri here and there.
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May 9, 2011

Skydivers have the best BBQs. True story.

Skydiver BBQs in a nutshell: lots of really, REALLY good food and fantastic company, i.e. family you actually like being around. Sure it might take 30+ minutes to say hello and another 30+ minutes to say good bye to everyone, but they also give some of the best hugs. Did I mention the food? More specifically, the meat??

Saturday was no exception at Chez JEB. J sure knows how to smoke meat!! Ribeye, legs of lamb, and bacon wrapped chicken breasts in the smoker:
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My plate of awesomeness:
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Another memorable skydiver fiesta featured a whole pig roasted on a spit all day. Possibly the best pork I’ve ever had in my life. This was a year ago and I still remember how much I enjoyed four full plates!

And let’s not forget the ASADOS in Chile! I was lucky to be able to spend a lot of time jumping and hanging out with the skydivers there while on a study abroad trip back in ’08. This was just lunch break at the dropzone. Think twice as much for dinner.

Looking forward to another BBQ tomorrow!

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May 7, 2011

Recent eats and coconut vodka tonics

The past few days were tough as I was overdue to go grocery shopping. This meant I had to dig in the freezer and pantry to make something spontaneously!

Chicken and veggies in homemade marinara sauce

I’ve been making marinara sauce from almost scratch for several years. It’s almost scratch because I do used canned italian stewed tomatoes and canned tomato paste. I might try to make marinara completely from scratch some day since the canned stewed tomatoes list sugar as an ingredient. I loosely follow this recipe, omitting the wine. While the sauce was simmering in one pan, I steamed some veggies in another pan – cauliflower, mushrooms, red bell pepper, and zucchini. Then I added chicken breasts, poured in some marinara sauce, and added some spinach last minute. I don’t even miss pasta!!
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In progress:
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Balsamic salmon salad
We always have wild salmon in our freezer. I seasoned the salmon, rubbed it with minced garlic and cilantro, then put it in a baking pan along with balsamic vinegar and some olive oil. After letting it marinate for half an hour, I broiled it in the oven. Served on mixed greens with tomatoes and balsamic vinegar.
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Typical lazy breakfast
I don’t make scrambles, omelettes, and paleo pancakes very often. I prefer minimal cooking and prep for breakfast. Pan sear all natural chicken apple sausage, cook egg in the same pan afterwards in the sausage fat, slice up a tomato and 1/4 of an avocado. It doesn’t look like much food, but this keeps me full for several hours.
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Coconut vodka tonics
Last night was my friend’s birthday celebration! Though I’m not super strict about staying paleo in social situations, I try to make it as paleo friendly as possible. I went from preferring potato vodkas like Chopin to exclusively drinking Ciroc vodka, which is distilled from grapes. Ciroc is the most paleo friendly liquor I’ve found thus far. I mix it with fresh squeezed grapefruit when available, but otherwise I order vodka tonics with a lime. The bar we were at yesterday only had coconut Ciroc and the drink was surprisingly good! Not at all overwhelmingly sweet like most flavored vodkas, it was just a hint of coconut flavor and very clean tasting. I only had two and was pretty drunk since I have lost my tolerance due to rarely drinking these days.

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Now I’m off to a BBQ!

May 4, 2011

An active day and a lazy day

I was pretty active on Monday! I skated for 45 minutes. I hadn’t skated for over a week and was tired, but was happy with how I skated. I met an older lady on the ice who had “quit” back in ’81 who was tearing it up out there! I hope I will be able to skate well into my senior years. Right after skating, I did an hour of hot POWER yoga! That was intense!! I both loved and hated every minute of it. It was definitely a workout with every muscle burning at one point or another.

Yesterday was a super lazy day. I went shopping for a couple hours, but didn’t find anything I liked. I’m pretty disappointed in this season’s clothes. I napped, I ate, I watched tv… I was supposed to go to a BBQ but my allergies got the best of me.

Now for some recent eats!

Kimchi stew
Kimchi, water, pork, and onions – super simple! This would usually be eaten with rice and other side dishes. I just ate it by itself with some unsalted and unoiled seaweed (nori) to tone down the spiciness.
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Prime rib omelette
I went out to breakfast with a friend yesterday and chose the prime rib omelette – eggs, beef, tomatoes, green bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms. I asked for no cheese, no hashbrowns, and no toast. I usually ask for a side of tomatoes or fruit instead.
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Grilled shrimp salad
Marinated grilled shrimp served on mixed greens with homemade dressing! I love shrimp this way. Ask for the recipes if you want it, I’m too lazy to find the links right now.
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T-bone steak
I went to Bill the Butcher to buy steak for the bbq. I was pretty disappointed in the selection yesterday, I must have gone on a bad day. I usually get ribeye or tenderloin, but they just had T-bone. The meat was excellent quality and had great flavor. I also cooked it perfectly medium rare and it turned out to be the best T-bone steak I’ve ever had!

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Of course I ate some roasted veggies since I am so obsessed with them.
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Ending with a super cute picture of my grey, Jasper, sleeping on my chest under a fuzzy blanket last night. He LOVES to cuddle like this and coos almost like a dove while sleeping.
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