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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Cobb Salad and an Ode to Rx-Star Chic

It's Sunday again. Time to do a little refrigerator search and rescue. If you've read any of the other Sunday posts you know that Sunday is my bare bones day. I'm out of just about everything and I challenge myself to come up with a meal using what is left before I shop again.

Before I begin, I must take a moment to tip my hat to the ladies of Rx-Star Chic. I attended their clinic yesterday and had an amazing time. They are a newly formed group of ladies that focuses solely on women, teaching them all the "man things" at CrossFit. I got my first muscle up yesterday with their expert coaching. If you don't know what a muscle up is you need to look it up on youtube. Let me be the first to say it is not easy. It takes strength, balance, coordination and a huge dose of chutzpah (which is Hebrew for balls). If you live in the So Cal area, please check them out. I have included a link under my favorites.

Ok, back to the fridge. As usual, there are just a couple of things floating around in there so let's make a meal. I've got left over lettuce from last nights dinner, a couple of eggs, defrosted chicken breast, nitrate free turkey bacon (as usual), an over ripe - gettin ready to croak avocado, tomatoes, green onion... looks like the ingredients for a cobb salad to me!

What you'll need:

refer to list of items above plus:
garlic powder
herbs de provence
1/3 cup olive oil
1 lemon, squeezed
1tsp Dijon mustard

What you do:

Start by hard boiling a couple of eggs. While the eggs are cooking, cut up the raw chicken into bite size pieces and coat liberally with olive oil, garlic powder and herbs de provence. Saute the chicken in olive oil until it's nice and brown and cooked through. This is the same recipe as Herbed Chicken available under the "chicken button". Set it aside to cool. When the eggs are done run them under cold water to cool them off or plunge them in ice water.

Fry up the bacon in the same pan when the chicken is done. Too many pans going = too many dishes to clean. Chop the bacon, egg, tomatoes, green onion and avocado.

Put a couple of handfuls of lettuce on a plate and top it with some of each of the chopped ingredients and chicken.

Whisk up your olive oil, lemon juice, 1/2 tsp of garlic powder and 1 tsp of Dijon mustard. Poor some over the salad.


Friday, January 29, 2010

Italian Wedding Soup

I've been on kind of a soup roll lately. And I'm always on an Italian roll so this recipe fit the bill seamlessly. Italian Wedding soup is hearty and healthy and really easy to make. I've made a slight adjustment and taken the orzo out of the equation and added some carrot. You won't miss it at all.

Italian Wedding Soup is actually the missed English translation of Minestra Maritata. The true translation is "married soup" as in the marriage of the meat and vegetable in the soup making a great flavor. And you thought I was just another pretty face...

So if you've got 30 minutes you can make this great soup, which by the way, is even tastier the next day. You can make it your own as well by deciding which meat and veggie you want to put in it. You could easily substitute bits of sausage for the meatballs if you are in an extreme hurry. You can also substitute kale or escarole for the spinach.

Here's what you'll need:

2 boxes low sodium chicken broth
1lb grass fed ground beef
1 package Italian turkey sausage
1 egg
1T Italian seasoning
1/4 cup dehydrated onion flakes
1tsp garlic powder
1 package of fresh spinach
some chopped carrot
lemon wedges

Here's what you do:

Get the chicken broth boiling in a pot while you make up the meatballs. Take your beef, sausage, egg, onion and seasonings and mix them up in a separate bowl. Remember the golden rule: Use thine hands to mix. Yes, there are two golden rules. Don't make me have to get Lenny the Foot to persuade you. Mix away getting all ingredients well combined. Now start rolling up little meatballs (think bite size). Again I say, if you have children now is the time to turn your kitchen into a labor camp. If they can work an Xbox they can roll a meatball.

As your broth comes to a rolling boil, drop the raw meatballs in. Cook them for about 10 minutes. They will stay fairly light in color. If this freaks you out you can brown them in a little olive oil first. Add in your chopped carrot. After the meatballs have cooked, turn the soup down to simmer and add in the full bag of spinach. The spinach will cook down in just a few minutes. Serve the soup in bowls and add a squeeze of lemon over the top. This really brightens up the flavor.

If you are a fat phobic you may want to refrigerate the soup so the fat from the meat will rise to the top and you can skim it off. Then you can reheat it. If you are like me and take in no simple carbohydrates (grain, sugar, dairy) you need this fat for energy. So get over yourself and eat the fat. Just don't have a chocolate donut to go along with it.

Can you believe you are done already? What will you do with the rest of your day? I'm off to CrossFit!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Super Bowl Party-- Let's Eat!

First, I want to say Hey! to my friend Jen and her motley church group all the way across the country in Alabama (sorry about the Arkansas thing!). They are in the process of a "Biggest Looser Challenge" and have been including my recipe blog in their repertoire. I am excited to see their progress and results! Jen recently asked me how to navigate a giant eating fest like the Super Bowl. With a little preparation, it can be done. Let's investigate.

Most people will spend it drinking and eating WAY too much. It feels great going down but the voice of guilt is sure to rear its ugly head the moment you swallow the last hot wing. I say, "Don't do it!" It's not worth the five pound overnight weight gain followed by the internal flogging and shame. You can make an abundance of paleo snacks using the recipes already posted. They are full of flavor and won't leave you feeling bloated and remorseful.

Chili is an all time Super Bowl favorite. You can serve it in the pepper like the original recipe or to make it easier serve it in paper bowls. Just remember to double, triple, quadruple the recipe.

Make the crockpot meatballs for snacks. Follow the recipe but roll them smaller. You can put them out right in the crockpot with toothpicks for stabbing.

The big bowl of awesome yumminess is a great salad that goes with everything. You can omit the chicken since you will be serving lots of other protein. If you want a little splurge on this day you can add some feta to this salad and watch your guests faint one at a time.

Set out bowls of nuts in different varieties with dried fruit. Remember no peanuts (they are a legume, not a nut).

The herbed chicken is another good one to set out with toothpicks.

And finally, either make a nice fruit salad (or buy it from the deli) or if you want to get all Martha Stewart you can get some skewers and make fruit kabobs. They are really pretty. Just take some melon, apple, and grapes and thread them on to the skewers. Make sure you swish the apple in a little orange juice so it doesn't get brown.

If you want to put Martha to shame then make this watermelon basket. It's really simple if you have those child friendly pumpkin carving knives. If you don't you can still use the watermelon as a bowl but the wavy pattern will be a little more tricky to achieve.

These yummy snacks are all paleo (except for the optional feta). Your guests won't even know how healthy they are being! Chances are they will still overeat on this day but better to overeat paleo than down a pizza and feel sick for days.

Have a great party and a great weekend. Go Saints!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Pesto Stuffed Chicken

By now if you've been following this blog you know that I don't do anything bland. This dish is no exception. I am on a mission to prove that paleo style eating does not have to be all about eating the same boring thing day after day. There are infinite possibilities and I'm just starting to scratch the surface.

As usual, this recipe was not planned out. I was at Sprout's Market getting a few things. I was reaching for the kale and these giant trays of basil started flying off the shelf all over the floor. I think it was divine intervention. Either that or it was just me being extraordinarily clumsy with my reach causing a landslide of basil along with a few loathful stares from nearby patrons. I don't even like basil but after that showing I resigned to put a few in my cart while trying to make it look like I had planned the basil explosion all along. I don't think I pulled it off.

So I get home and I have all this basil along with a bruised ego. What does one make with basil that does not have a giant slab of fresh mozzarella along side it? My answer was pesto... Yuck... pesto. But by this time I was committed. I despise pesto. How can I change it up? And then it came to me. Spinach, pine nuts, garlic, sun dried tomato. You've heard those ingredients before. Well, that's cuz they're my favorites. I cut the "basily" strength way down by using spinach. My experiment worked. Not only did it work, this is my new favorite dish. I hope you will feel that way too.

What you'll need:
1 packed cup basil
1packed cup spinach
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
2 cloves garlic
1 jar sundried tomatoes in olive oil (8oz)
olive oil
4 free range chicken breasts
3/4 cup low sodium, gluten free chicken broth
1 lemon

What you do:
Place your pine nuts in a dry and hot skillet. Stir them around until they become toasty brown and then remove them from the heat. Pay attention! They burn easily. Prepare the pesto. It doesn't matter if you have a blender or a food processor, either work. Put the first five ingredients into the bowl of the processor and pulse/blend until you have a paste like consistency. You may need to stream in a little more olive oil than what is in the tomato jar to achieve a smooth pesto. Take a long, deep smell. Feel the stress of the day leave your body. Resist the urge to give yourself a pesto facial. You'll need every drop for the chicken.

Now for the chicken. Take one chicken breast and slice all the way through the center of it horizontally. You should have two very thin chicken breasts now. Repeat with the rest of the chicken. Take your meat mallet and with the flat side pound out the chicken to about 1/4 inch thickness. The trick here is to make SMALL chicken rolls (like the size of a roll of quarters). You want three or four on a plate so you may need to cut the chicken in half vertically to make small enough pieces. Ok, so you have your chicken all pounded flat and each piece is cut about the size of a deck of cards. Throw a little cracked pepper over the chicken. Take a heaping tablespoon of pesto and slather it all over one side of the chicken like you're buttering bread. Sorry, bad analogy. Now, ever so gently roll the chicken up like a jelly roll... oooh, did it again. Secure the seam with a couple of toothpicks.

Get your pan hot with olive oil and place the chicken with the seam side down into the pan. Yes, you can cook the toothpicks too. Brown it for a couple of minutes and then turn it over. After both sides are browned turn the chicken over one more time (seam side down) and pour 3/4 cup of chicken broth into the pan. Watch out for the sizzle. Cover the pan and turn down the heat to medium-low. Let those little babies simmer for about 6 minutes. When you lift the lid you will notice that some of the pesto that has fallen out of the chicken and the stock have made a heavenly sauce purely by accident. Do not... I repeat... do not go face first into the pan when you are overcome with desire for the exquisite meal you just made. First of all it's not polite to lick every one's meal and secondly plastic surgery is expensive.

Finish with a squeeze of lemon.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Field Greens with Caramelized Onion, Avocado and Bacon Crumbles

Doesn't the title of this post sound snooty? You might find something like this salad on the menu of a five star restaurant with a five star price tag to go along with it. But I say, "Down with the five star price tag!" You don't have to spend a fortune to have a delicious, quality meal.

I actually made this one up on the fly. It's Sunday and Sundays for me are typically scrape the bottom of the fridge time. I'm usually out of just about everything so I rely on what's hanging out in the shadows. Let's see... bag o' organic greens ready to expire... check, lonely purple onion way in the back... check, preservative free and nitrate free turkey bacon...check, ripe avocado (oh crap... they're ALL ripe at the same time)... check. Sounds like a salad! The dressing is a simple vinaigrette that I get rave reviews for every time I make it. Yes... I'm using vinegar again. You'll have to turn me in and take away my caveman stripes.

What you'll need:

1bag salad mix of your choice
1package turkey bacon (we use Trader Joe's nitrate free, preservative free)
1purple onion

1/4 cup olive oil
2 - 3 T. balsamic vinegar
1T Dijon mustard
1tsp honey

What you do:

Start with the dressing. Mix all the ingredients together in a jar or Tupperware container and shake, shake, shake. If you have a child present, give the container to them to shake. Children are a wonderful source of manual labor.

Slice up your onion into thin rings. Get some olive oil hot in a pan and place your onion in the pan. Now here's the big secret. Turn the flame down low and let the onion cook down slowly. It's going to take a while(like 15 - 20 minutes) so don't rush it. Stir the onion around the pan occasionally and watch it start to turn soft, then golden, then a beautiful caramel color. They are glossy and a little sticky when they are done. The flavor of caramelized onions is just this side of bliss. I may be going out on a limb here but I think they're nearly equal to chocolate.

Set the onion aside and cook up your bacon in the same pan. Cube up the avocado.

And now for the finally: Put a couple of handfuls of lettuce on each plate. Divide the onion in half and put it in the center of the lettuce like you're building a little onion mountain. Put the avocado on top of the onion. Now sprinkle the bacon liberally all around the salad. Drizzle with the dressing. Pat yourself on the back and say this affirmation: Not only am I incredibly hot, I make a mean salad!"


Friday, January 22, 2010

Osso Buco

I'm going to let you in one one of my secrets. I always promised myself that this one would go to the grave with me, but I can't do it. I need to shout it from the rooftops so everyone will hear:


I don't know if it's the name of the dish that sounds intimidating or the fact that people aren't generally familiar with veal shank that puts them off. It could be the English translation which is literally "bone hole" (gross) but if you have skipped over this one time and time again you are missing out.

So, it's time to suck it up and make this dish. You'll need a little prep time because I promised my husband that I would stop butchering his heritage by taking short cuts like using jarred sauce. No jars in this baby! I do use canned tomatoes though. I refuse to boil, then peel, then crush my own tomatoes. Well, at least until the twins are old enough and I can run a little kitchen sweat shop.

Ok, so get in your kitchen and repeat after me, "I am not afraid of Osso Buco. I am going to make this and wow someone really special." When you are done you must tell the story of how you slaved in the kitchen all day long. Putting your hand over your forehead and faining exhaustion works well too. Wear an apron while you're at it... it helps with the drama.

What you'll need:

4 veal shanks
you may have to preorder these from the butcher
1 chopped onion
1chopped carrot
2 chopped ribs of celery
1 cup of red wine (sub beef broth if you are a paleo purist)
1 32oz package of low sodium chicken broth
1 big bay leaf
small can tomato paste
one can of stewed tomatoes 15oz
1 sprig of rosemary or 1 tsp dried
1 sprig of thyme or 1/2 tsp dried
1/4 tsp crushed, dried cloves
almond meal or flour
olive oil

What you do:

Get the oven preheated to 375. Use a heavy and large pan making sure you have enough room for all of the veal shanks to fit. Start with tying your veal shanks with kitchen string. If you don't tie them up your meat will flop all over the place. Trust me, it's not pretty. Just use a couple of lengths and wrap around the perimeter of the veal so it's nice and tight to the bone. Next, dredge the shank in a little almond meal. Dust off the excess. You aren't trying to bread it. Get out that heavy pan and put some olive oil in it. Get the pan hot. Sere the shanks in the olive oil until they are nice and brown about 7 minutes per side. Don't flip them back and forth a hundred times; just let them sit. That's what gives them the nice color and retains the moisture. Set them aside on a plate to keep them warm.

Now saute your veggies in the same pan until they are soft. Add in the tomato paste and stir quickly to coat the veggies. Add the stewed tomatoes WITHOUT their liquid. It's time for the wine... my favorite part. Poor in a cup of wine and get it bubbling really well. Boil it until its reduced by half. While you are waiting for the wine to reduce poor yourself a glass. You deserve it. It's been a long day. No one has to know that it's only 10 am. Heck, forget the glass, just drink it straight out of the bottle. I won't tell. When the wine is done reducing put the veal shanks back in the pan and add your chicken broth. You want to add enough broth to cover a little more than half way up the veal shank. Now add in the herbs. Bring it up to a boil and then cover it with foil or the pan lid and place it in the oven. Close the oven door and have another sip... the hard part's over.

You'll want to braise the veal for about 1 1/2 hours. Baste it about every 30 minutes. The delicious aroma should be filling your house by now causing family members to come out of the woodwork. When you see them coming toward the kitchen put a little tomato paste on your cheek and look as tired as you can. This will get you out of doing the dishes for sure.

There are a couple of ways you can finish the dish. When it is done you can simply plate the veal and poor the sauce over it with the veggies and all. If you want to get really fancy your can put the liquid through the strainer and discard the veggies which is the more classic preparation. I've never really been one for following the rules, but either is delicious.

And there you have it. A meal that is usually only ordered in a restaurant at an insane price. Only yours is better because you've left out the flour, lard (yes, they use lard), salt and whatever else they put in it. I hope you enjoy this one!

ps. If you're paleo to the extreme you can suck the marrow out of the bone. I can't do it but it's a really good source of fat.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Minestrone Soup

Nothing says "The Old Country" quite like Minestrone. It takes a few tweaks to make it Paleo friendly, but it can be done. Soup warms the soul, especially on days like these. My goodness, it must be 65 degrees outside! We are all going to freeze!

Like most of my recipes, this one is meant to be fast and flavorful. With just about 10 minutes of prep you can let this one go all day on low flame or in the crockpot. That means more time for the glamorous things in life like doing the dishes and folding clothes. Yep... livin' the dream, baby!

What you'll need:

1/2 pound of pancetta (Italian bacon) - or protein of your choice
Italian turkey sausage is a really good alternative
1 onion,diced
1 large zucchini, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1/2 head green cabbage, diced
1 bag fresh spinach
2 -3 cloves minced garlic
6 cups chicken stock (low sodium, gluten free)
3 cups chopped tomatoes (low sodium)
1 cup water
1T Italian seasoning
1T basil
1/4 cup fresh flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped

For my non-Paleo crowd: you can add a cup of macaroni, some diced potato(you may need up to 2 cups more stock to counter the starch), chopped green beans, or anything else you can think of. Let your imagination run wild! No that does not include Hugh Jackman stirring the soup in nothing but a loin cloth. Get your mind out of the gutter!

What you do:
Chop the pancetta into small chunks. Get a large pot nice and hot with some olive oil. Put the pancetta in and fry it until crisp. Now add all your veggies except the zucchini and spinach on top of the pancetta. Saute them slightly, keeping their crunch. Add the garlic and saute a minute more being careful not to burn the garlic. Get a cup of chicken stock and poor it over the veggies. As it is sizzling away, take a wooden spoon and scrape the bottom of the pot. Get all those browned bits of yumminess off the bottom of the pot. That is pure flavor joy right there. Scrape away, don't be shy. Can you smell heaven unfolding before you? Ahhh, food is love*.

*Disclaimer: This statement has not been evaluated by the sane and in control. It should have read, "Some food is love". Example: Paleo Minestrone = love. Pizza = that bad stalker boyfriend that won't leave you alone and keeps showing up in your flower bed.

Ok, back to reality. You can do a couple of things here. If you are home for a while you can add the rest of the stock, water, tomatoes and spices to the pot and turn the flame down super low. Cover the pot and simmer forever. If you aren't going to be home transfer everything into the crockpot, put it on low and walk away.

10 minutes before you serve the soup bring it back to a boil (or high on crockpot) and add your spinach and zucchini. It will cook down quickly. Spoon the soup into a bowl while belting out the hallelujah chorus. If you sing like I do, make sure no one is listening and your windows are closed. Top with fresh, chopped parley. Inhale the glorious scent and know that you are nourishing yourself and your family from the heart.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Chili in a Pepper Bowl

I think everyone alive must have their own chili recipe. Chili tastes great and is easy to make. Back in the day I used to love to make chili and put it in a sourdough bread bowl. I would scarf down a mountain of chili and eat an entire loaf of bread with it because it had soaked up the sauce and well, who can resist that? I may as well have taken the bread bowl and pasted it to my thighs. What in the world was I thinking? You're exactly right... I wasn't thinking at all.

Now life has changed and I workout way too hard to eat a bread bowl... or any bread for that matter. I am healthier for it. My blood glucose levels have come down from an all time high of 220 to 74. In case I forgot to mention it before, I was considered prediabetic. I say "was" because for a long time now I have had no signs of the disease. It is completely controlled by my diet and exercise program alone. I don't suffer angry mood swings any more when my bloodsugar drops. Hubby must be delighted since he was the one on the receiving end of those "feed me now, or die" tirades.

So I have replaced my bread bowl with a beautiful and colorful bell pepper. Tonight I chose yellow. It's a fun and new way to serve chili. I hope you enjoy it.

What you'll need:
1 pound grass fed beef or turkey if you prefer
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 big (28oz) can crushed tomatoes
2tsp ground cumin
1T chili powder (or more to your liking)
2 bell peppers (pick the color you like)

What you do:

Get a pot of water on to boil. Take your pepper and slice it in half the long way. Remove the guts. When the water is boiling put the pepper in and boil it for about 6 minutes. Take it out and set it aside. Saute the onion and ground beef together until it's browned and the onion is soft. Add in the garlic and saute a minute more. Poor in the crushed tomatoes and the spices and simmer. Now, walk away. Let the stove do the work while you sneak off to the bathroom and apply a clay masque to your face. You know you need it. You've been putting it off way too long. While the masque is on lock the bathroom door and dim the light. Take deep breaths and let a few moments slip away. Ignore the unintelligible banter coming from outside the bathroom door: "Mom... mom?... DAD WHERE'S MOM!!!!" Instruct your husband to say, "Mom who?" while you chant "I will get my fran time down... I will get my fran time down" in the final few minutes of pure solace that you have.

Back in the kitchen, scoop the chili into the pepper and put it in a baking dish. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes. That is it! Can't get much simpler that that.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Chicken No-tortilla Soup

I've been waiting for a day like today. It's finally cooled off and is a little dreary outside. This is perfect soup weather. One of my all time favorites is chicken tortilla soup. What I've come to realize is that the "tortilla" part of the soup is overrated. It does add a certain crunch which is nice but none of the flavor goes missing if you leave the tortilla out of the equation.

There is a side effect to dreary days. It's called "can'tgetmybuttoffthecouch itis". Even for a simple and wholesome recipe like this one. The couch is winning. Must... get... up... Oh, alright already... let's make soup.

What you'll need:

A cooked chicken from the market (take the meat off the bone and shred it)

1 container of low sodium chicken broth 32oz (gluten free is healthier)

1 can of diced tomatoes with green chili (regualr tomato if you don't want it SPICY)

1 can mild enchilada sauce

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1 bunch cilantro

1 avocado

1 onion

2 cloves minced garlic

2 carrots

2 ribs celery

1 bay leaf

olive oil

What you do:

Debone the chicken and chop it into chunks. Set it aside. Get a pot going with a little olive oil and saute your onion, carrot and celery until softened. Add in the minced garlic and saute a minute more being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the chicken broth, tomatoes with chilies and enchilada sauce to the pot and give it a good stir. Next throw in your spices. As the broth heats up it will fill the air with a wonderful aroma causing hallucinations of being on the Mayan Riviera. Go ahead, get lost in the fantasy a while. Now open your eyes and notice the full laundry basket to your left is the one calling your name, not Raul asking you if you want another margarita.

Bring the broth to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer it for about 30 minutes giving the flavors time to blend. Add in the chopped chicken and a handful of chopped cilantro. Keep simmering until the chicken is heated through. Spoon the soup into a bowl and top it with a few chunks of avocado. Pure heaven.


ps. I wasn't kidding about the spicy. It's downright hot if you use the tomato with chili.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Breakfast, Snacks, and an Ode to my Husband

Breakfast and snacks are a really important during the day. Often times I hear people tell me that they love eating paleo but breakfast and snacks seem to stump them. Well, I am here to save the day! Let's tackle breakfast first.

When eating paleo you can no longer think of breakfast as pancakes, oatmeal, cereal or any other super carby, super starchy mess. You must twist your thought process a little. Most of us grew up on a pop-tart (is that even food?) or sweet roll for breakfast... or cereal (which is the same thing as a sweet roll just in a different presentation). To accomplish the paleo breakfast shift, you should start thinking "protein" in the morning. It won't look like breakfast food most of the time and it might seem a little strange but your body will thank you. You will have more mental clarity and energy and you won't be starving two hours later from the insulin spike and subsequent drop after your nasty, hydrogenated pop tart.

Trade in your breakfast cereal for scrambled eggs, nitrate free bacon, nitrate free sausage, omelets with veggies, omelets with meat, left over dinner from the night before, fruit, a protein shake (egg protein), etc. Make a big pot of meatballs and have those! It doesn't have to resemble bread to be breakfast. Come on people! Think outside the box!

Did you know that most people eat the same 10 items over and over again. With that said, take five minutes and make a list of 10 things you can eat for breakfast. Now, rotate them into your week. It only takes a moment and if you are a little bit organized you can have a tasty breakfast before you leave the house. Do not leave the house with only a cup of coffee! You are contributing to a weak and sick body. Our goal in paleo eating is not only to be smokin' hot in our bikini... there's more? Yes, it's to be HEALTHY. And how healthy is it to just drink coffee.

Now let's talk about snacks. Snacks are important in the day. I usually eat two or three snacks. Take snacks with you. The last thing in the world you want is to be shopping at Costco and all of a sudden be overcome with hunger. If that happens you and your overwhelmingly huge shopping cart will make a B line to the pizza counter like it's being pulled into the "I want a huge ass with a side of heart disease" tractor beam. If you have a snack with you, you can whip it out and save your ass... literally.

So what's for snack? How about an apple with a tablespoon of almond butter and a little beef jerky. How about some nuts and a little dried fruit. We eat natural meat sticks from and LOVE them. We also like celery with olive tampendade. You just need a little something to take the edge off. It's also good to make your snack easy and portable. Just think a couple of bites of protein and a little fat with a piece of fruit. There you have it. The picture above is my home made paleo kit. It has almonds, cashews (I know... some say you can't have those. I say ppphhhhtttt!), macadamia nuts, dried blueberries, and dried cranberries. My protein is in the form of the meat stick mentioned above and I eat this every day. No, I don't get tired of it, but thanks for asking.

And finally, hubby left for his sales meeting tonight. I will have six long and lonely days ahead of me. It's times like these that I realize how truly blessed I am. We operate like a well oiled machine always anticipating each other's needs. I shudder to think what would happen if we didn't. Well, for one the little lunatics would be running the asylum. Speaking of which, they turned two today. Our little babies... They gave me the present today, though. I walked in the house to find one twin pasted to the bay window like Spider Man trying to get a glimpse of a dump truck and the other standing in the middle of the kitchen table. I miss you already honey. Come home soon.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Steak Pizzaiola

I love Italian food. To me it represents the warmth of home. The deep flavors mingle with rich traditions of generations past. Having said that, come along with me as I mutilate another great Italian recipe and replace the hours of toiling in the kitchen with a quick and easy meal fit for the busy families of 2010.

I wish that I had the time to prepare traditional food using family recipes and old world cooking but that's not going to happen at least for another couple of years. So I have taken family recipes and shortened them significantly so you can have dinner on the table in under an hour.

I wooed my husband with my cooking. I had a big plate of sausage and peppers at the alter just in case he got cold feet. And now look what I've done. I've taken his heritage and desecrated it all in the name of saving time. It's a shame but he really should have thought about it before he decided to give me twins. Yes... I blame him.

This recipe is wonderfully aromatic. Yes, it is quick... yes, it is simple, and yes, I used jarred sauce (father forgive me for I have sinned). I hope you love it as much as I do.

What you'll need:

top sirloin steaks

1 jar of Trader Giotti's Puntanesca Sauce

1 Spanish onion

2 bell peppers (I used yellow, green gives me a stomach ache)

olive oil

What you do:

Take a meat mallet and pound the steak thin to about 1/2 an inch. Use the bumpy side to tenderize it a bit. Slice up your onion and pepper. Put a little olive oil in the bottom of a heavy skillet (the kind that can go in the oven). If you don't have one of those then use a baking pan. Spread the oil around in the pan. Put your steaks in next and cover them with the onion and peppers. Take your jar of sauce and pour it all over the steaks and veggies. Now go immediately to confession and tell the priest that you have sinned. Also, pray that your husband never finds out that you are using jarred sauce... you know, the jars of sauce that you keep above the fridge, way in the back, behind the vases? Ya, those...

Ok, so you have your steak, your veggies, your sauce. Put the lid on the pan or cover it in foil and put it in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes. Don't peak. Serve it over a giant plate of spaghetti with a side of bread the size of a football. JUST KIDDING. You thought I lost my mind didn't you! Serve it with a nice side salad and revel in the fact that you can eat Italian food on the Paleo diet!


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Stuffed Zucchini

Tonight was another last minute dinner decision. Are you sensing a pattern? Actually, most of my dinners are not well thought out. I defrosted some grass fed beef but nothing seemed to come to mind. I had to stop by my boyfriend's (Trader Joe) for some end of week supplies and out of nowhere this yummy looking Italian sausage started calling my name as I tried to wheel my cart one handed, while talking on my cell phone, reading my shopping list and swerving around the riot going on at the sample corner. I think it was pizza. So I decided to pick up the sausage and make it part of dinner.

Earlier, hubby and I went to CrossFit (like most nights) and did this crazy workout where they had us walking on our hands, holding two minute handstands and doing handstand push ups. We were upside down for most of the workout. It was fun for me since I have a gymnastics background... even if it was 30 years ago. By the look on hubby's face, I don't think he felt the same way. This time my old bones weren't so forgiving and I ended up loosing feeling in my right arm. Yup, it's pretty much dead at the moment, but I'm glad I can still type. My error rate has gone through the roof, though. I quickly learned that I need to proof read the url I'm after before pressing enter. I was trying for "hotmail" and ended up with a full page of men's torsos in tiny underwear with their parts magnified and wagging in my face. I would like to say that I didn't mind, but truth be told that was a little too close up for me. I may be permanently scarred... I'll let you know.

What were we talking about? Oh... dinner... right. So my point in all this chatter is that I have one good arm and I still managed to make this wonderful stuffed zucchini. What's your excuse?

What you'll need:

4 zucchini

1lb grass fed ground beef

1 package Italian turkey/chicken sausage (I used sweet, but hot would be good too)

olive oil

1 can tomato sauce (6oz)

1tsp Italian seasoning

1tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

What you do:

Remove the sausage from it's casing. Brown the ground beef and sausage together in a pan breaking it up into small pieces. While the meat is browning cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and scrape out the "guts" with a spoon making a little trench. When the meat is cooked poor in the can of tomato sauce and the spices and give it a stir. Try not to drool into the pan. That's just bad form.

Now poor about a tablespoon of olive oil into a baking dish. Rub it all around the bottom of the dish. Rub some of the olive oil all over the zucchini. Fill up the zucchini trenches with the meat mixture. Cover the dish with foil and bake at 375 for 30 minutes. When the zucchini is done it should be tender but still slightly crisp. Now, take a giant whiff of your gorgeous creation. That, my friends, is pure love coming out of your oven.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Turkey Rolls - Emergency Dinner

Ok, so tonight is not one of my more shining moments. I let the day get away from me and forgot to take something out for dinner. On top of that one of my sons has a cold and my husband is sick because he thought he could do five rounds of max reps, body weight bench press and max rep pull-ups on a lettuce leaf and an ice cube. (Not really, but he didn't fuel properly for the workout today). On top of that my other son is whiny. So what's a woman to do when all hell has broken loose at home and there's nothing to eat for dinner? I say go to DEFCON 1 immediately. No that does not mean head out of the house like a missile and grab the nearest burger and fries. It means go to the fridge, whip out a few ingredients and make a nutritious meal in under 3 minutes.

Here's what you'll need:

turkey lunch meat


preservative free turkey bacon

Here's what to do:

Put out the turkey. Place some sliced avocado on top of the turkey. Take a piece of bacon and cut it lengthwise and put half a slice on the avocado. Roll up the turkey slices individually with the avocado and bacon inside. Done. Add a piece of fruit. It's not glamorous, but hey, sometimes you just need to get some calories in, right?

Coconut Yogurt Marinated Chicken

I have always loved this recipe. It was a staple in our house until we eliminated all things dairy. With great hesitation, I tried it with plain coconut yogurt in place of full fat plain yogurt. To my surprise, I could not tell the difference between the two which inspired a spontaneous dance of victory all around the kitchen.

If you have five minutes in the morning make up this quick marinade and throw some chicken breasts into it. When you get home, all you have to do it cook them up and you have a quick and tasty dinner. If you don't have five minutes, wake up five minutes earlier. This chicken is worth it!

what you'll need:

chicken breasts

1container of plain coconut yogurt (6oz) We use "So Delicious" brand

3 cloves of minced garlic

2T lemon juice (or half a lemon)

1 1/2 tsp chili powder

3/4tsp ground ginger

1/2tsp ground cumin

1T olive oil

what you do:

Combine the yogurt with all of the ingredients except the chicken breasts in a big ziplock. Close it tight and squish the ingredients all around to mix them.

There are a couple of options when adding the chicken. You can add it in whole breasts or butterfly it and pound it flat then add it. I personally like to butterfly it. It gives it more surface area to soak up the marinade.

Add your chicken to the bag and squish it all around again to cover the chicken up with marinade. If you have teenagers put the chicken in an additional ziplock before putting it in the fridge. They will undoubtedly forcefully move the chicken aside while foraging for a meal just before they tell you there is "nothing to eat in this house" causing the bag to explode and spew yogurt all over the contents of your fridge. Not that I'm speaking from personal experience...

Give the chicken at least eight hours to marinade. More time if you've got it. When you are ready to cook it you can do a couple of things. Number 1: If you've kept the chicken breasts whole, give them to your husband/boyfriend/father, or some hot looking guy and command him to BBQ the chicken for you. Guys, if you're reading this... you're on your own. Number 2: If you've butterflied it you can cook it on the stove in a grill pan with a little olive oil. Watch the flame though, the yogurt can burn easily. Number 3: Bake it in the oven. Since I've never done that make sure you let me know how it goes.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Herbed Chicken - Blink and it's done

Recently, I have had numerous requests for fast recipes. I think this one tops the charts. It comes in at about 8 minutes flat. It requires little to no attention span and if you have the advantage of having twins, you can even make this as each twin clings to one of each of your legs. Just think of them as ankle weights as you trudge through the kitchen building muscle all the way. You can easily steam some broccoli and have it ready in the same amount of time.

Here's what you'll need:

2 chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces

granulated garlic

herbs de' provence

olive oil

Here's what you do:

After you've cut the chicken breasts into bite sized pieces, place them in a bowl and coat them with a little olive oil. Liberally sprinkle the granulated garlic and herbs de' provence on the chicken and mix it all around with your hand. Remember, LIBERAL is the key word here. Don't be shy with the spices. Coat every piece with spice. When you think you have enough, add a dash more.

I use a flat top to cook mine, but if you don't have one you can use a regular pan. Get it hot with some olive oil. Throw your chicken in. Don't mix it around; let it sit and get nice and brown. Turn the pieces with tongs and brown the other side. When both sides are brown you can start mixing it all around to cook it evenly. Doesn't your house smell yummy? Serve it up with your veggie and a side of fruit. It's so easy! Enjoy