Texas ——–> California

santamonica2-3My husband and I are still recovering from our spontaneous 22-hour road trip to California last week. Can you believe that it takes longer to get across the state of Texas than it does to cross New Mexico, Arizona, and California? Crazy. I honestly thought that I have been tired before, but I have never been THIS tired. Because we are us, we didn’t stick to Whole 30 while on the trip. Shocker.
santamonica1We were so delirious and happy the entire time we were in California. We found an amazing apartment to live in, spent time with my family and their dog, discovered that the apartment we are moving into is 2 blocks from where my best friend works, and ate this delicious bread+butter pudding with cognac sabayon (among lots of other things). Complete perfection.
I’m trying to get back into the swing of normal things with Whole 30 again. It’s tough because my husband can only eat soft foods for a few days (so basically mashed potatoes and smoothies) while he recovers from dental surgery. But before his surgery I made pecan crusted chicken tenders that taste just like Fall. I loved dipping them in mustard and served them with garlic mashed potatoes. They reminded me of soft pretzels dipped in mustard. Bonus: they are baked. I’ll definitely be making them again when my husband recovers, hopefully soon!
Pecan Crusted Chicken Tenders and Garlic Mashed Potatoes
pecanchicken9These chicken tenders start with a boneless, skinless chicken breast. If the chicken is thick in the middle, use a meat mallet to make it a consistent thickness throughout so that every piece bakes evenly. Cut the chicken breast into bite-size tenders.
pecanchicken6The spice mixture that I used to bread the chicken is ground pecans with paprika, egg, and lightly ground pecans (for texture). It creates the perfect coating on the outside of the chicken to keep it moist but also adds flavor.
pecanchicken1pecanchicken2In a blender, I finely ground pecans and paprika. Don’t blend it too long or it will turn to pecan butter :). Which sounds delicious, but not for this. I put those into a glass bowl and added more pecans to the blender to make a coarser ground pecan mixture.
pecanchicken3 copyIn three separate bowls, place the finely ground pecan+paprika mixture, coarse ground pecans, and two eggs seasoned with salt and pepper (lightly beaten). First bread the chicken tenders in the finely ground pecans, then in the lightly beaten egg mixture, then in the coarsely chopped pecans. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. pecanchicken8The chicken will bake for approximately 20 minutes and will be crispy on the outside and moist and flavorlful on the inside.
pecanchicken4pecanchicken10I really love red potatoes. Boil them with garlic, salt, and pepper, and they have so much flavor. I think when I make this chicken again I will pair it with spicy braised cabbage. It’s hearty enough of a dish to be a perfect weeknight supper without weighing you down with any processed ingredients.
santamonica3I can’t wait to move back to LA and be by the ocean again. I think Whole 30 will be so much easier when I have the beautiful beach to go to everyday.

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 cups raw pecans
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 pound red potatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp ghee
Mustard, to taste (as dipping sauce)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. In a blender, place 1/2 cup pecans and finely grind. Combine with paprika and place in small bowl
3. Place 1/2 cup pecans in blender and coarsely grind. Place in separate small bowl
4. Crack two eggs in separate small bowl and lightly beat, add salt and pepper
5. Cut chicken into bite-size tenders
6. Place chicken into finely ground pecans, then in egg, then in coarsely ground pecans, and place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes
7. Fill a large pot with water and place potatoes in with garlic and salt
8. Boil for 20 minutes on medium heat and drain. Mash with ghee
9. Serve chicken with mustard dipping sauce and mashed potatoes with ghee on top

Not the Mount food.

As I’m typing this, there’s about 8 bazillion things running through my head: “What’s the weather like in LA?”, “I wonder if my best friend is having fun in Hawaii?”, “A 20-hour roadtrip doesn’t sound all that bad”, etc, etc. Obviously you can tell that my brain is running in road trip mode, because my husband and I decided today to drive to LA tomorrow. It’s a bit stressful, considering today involves laundry, dishes, and packing. But I’m SO excited.
Speaking of LA…I went to a small college there a (few) years ago. I did the math earlier and realized how old I am. Until I met my husband, I didn’t think most foods outside of Iowan comfort food tasted good, because the only other place I ate was at the college cafeteria (who mostly attempted to not give us food poisoning). My husband introduced me to ramen, curry, spices, Indian, Meditteranean food, etc. All these amazing flavors I never knew existed have all become my favorite way to cook and eat.
But something as simple as salisbury steak was obliterated by the college cooks. Until a few weeks ago, I had not eaten salisbury steak since then because it grossed me out so much, but my mother-in-law cooked it and I was in love. This salisbury steak is much more my mother-in-law’s approach to cooking, with my own Whole 30 twist.
Salisbury Steak
salisbury1This recipe is another of my budget-friendly Whole 30 meals. It’s mushrooms, hamburger, chicken stock, and a side dish (I made roasted brussel sprouts). I started my mushrooms with ghee, salt, and pepper. I prefer brown cremini mushrooms because they have an earthier flavor than white mushrooms and are packed with Vitamin D.
salisbury2I love cooking in our little kitchen. I’m going to miss it when we move back to LA.
salisbury7I love cooking earthy mushrooms. You want them to be dark brown and about half their size when they are fully cooked. Because this is going to be used as the gravy, you could continue to cook them further to give them a more creamy texture, but I like them to still have a bite when they are in a gravy.
salisbury11 copyOnce the mushrooms are cooked, pour a can of low sodium chicken broth over the mushrooms and allow it to reduce on medium-high heat for 15 minutes.
salisbury3I used frozen hamburger patties for the “steak” portion of my salisbury steak. Traditionally, salisbury steak is a free-formed hamburger patty, so I just used these as a shortcut. This brand from Costco has TONS of flavor.
salisbury4I sauteed the hamburger patties in ghee, which is clarified butter. It can be find on the Asian foods aisle in the Indian section. It’s perfect for sauteeing meat, but use olive oil or coconut oil in combination with the ghee if you are searing meat, because the smoke point will be higher and provide the amount of heat you need to brown meat.
salisbury5I browned the patties on high heat for 3 minutes per side. It’s not essential for the patties to be completely cooked through because they will continue cooking in the gravy.
salisbury6For the side, I quartered brussel sprouts and drizzed them with olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
salisbury9After 15 minutes roasting in the oven, they become charred and crispy, but still retain their crunch. If you want them to be cooked longer, leave them in for as long as 25 minutes, to ensure they don’t overcook. salisbury10This is the essence of comfort food. It would be delicious with mashed potatoes or a baked potato as well. Win.

3 defrosted hamburger patties
1/2 pound mushrooms
1 can chicken broth
Ghee (clarified butter)
1/2 pound brussel sprouts
1 tablespoon Red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp Garlic powder
Olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Chop mushrooms into thin slices and put in a pan with ghee, on medium heat
3. Saute mushrooms for 15 minutes, season with salt and pepper
4. Cook hamburger patties in ghee in a medium pan on high heat for 6 minutes, flip after 3 minutes
5.  Pour chicken stock over mushrooms and reduce for another 15 minutes, on medium heat
6. On a parchment-lined baking sheet, put quartered brussel sprouts onto sheet and drizzle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, olive oil, and red wine vinegar
7. Roast brussel sprouts for 15 minutes
8. Once the mushroom gravy has reduced by half, put hamburger patties in pan with the gravy and heat patties through, for another five minutes
9. Plate hamburger patties with mushroom gravy on top, and brussel sprouts on the side. Serve with a side of fruit if that sounds tasty as well. Enjoy!