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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Amazing Short Ribs

I still love comfort food so I'm going to go out on a limb here. Short ribs can be very fatty, but if you are patient, and you order them from a grass fed cattle farmer they are simply heavenly. You see, the fat in short ribs from a grass fed cow is the fat that you need in your diet. The fat from a grain fed cow is... well... deadly. So since my goal is to help all of you have long and healthy lives, I don't want to hear that you've made this recipe with some nasty, grain fed, sickly, obese cow. That's just no bueno.

This dish is another one that you can smell from across the street. It has bold and rich flavor. So don't be surprised if the neighbors come out of the woodwork, moving toward your house in zombie like fashion trying to steal your dinner and eat your brains. (Really, sometimes I think I've actually lost it). But really, you should make a few more than you think you will need. If you cook this... they will come.

What you'll need:

4 pounds of short ribs
almond flour for dusting
1 can beef broth 8 oz (low sodium, gluten free)
2 cans tomato sauce 8 oz (low sodium)
1 tsp horseradish (optional but worth it)
1/2 onion, minced
2 cloves of crushed garlic
olive oil/avocado oil/coconut oil

What you do:

Get out your heavy and deep skillet. Get it hot with the oil of your choice. Cut the short ribs into individual pieces and dust with a little almond flour. Brown them in the oil on all sides. Drain the pan of any excess fat. They look yummy already, don't they.

Add the rest of the ingredients to the pan and bring to a boil. Once it starts to boil lower the heat and cover the pan. Simmer for 2 - 2 1/2 hours until meat is tender and falling off the bone. In the mean time, if you haven't fainted from the fantastic aroma coming from the pan, you can bake a sweet potato and mash it (or steam some veggies if you are in weight loss mode).

So there it is. Comfort food made paleo friendly. To plate this little beauty make a little mountain of sweet potato or steamed veggies and put your short rib on top. It makes a pretty presentation and I am all about presentation. When I go out to eat I study the way the chef plates my food and I try to copy it at home. I promise pretty food tastes better!


Monday, February 22, 2010

Salsa Chicken

I can't believe it's Monday. The weekend flew by. Saturday and tonight were our kickoff meetings at CrossFit 714 about starting the paleo challenge. We had a great turnout! I am so excited to get this thing underway.

I am committed to putting up as many easy recipes that are paleo friendly as I possibly can. I want everyone to have the same success that my family has had. We have experienced all that paleo has to offer. We have more strength, more energy, clearer skin, less body fat, and we are more healthy than we have ever been. How on Earth would we be able to handle twin toddler tornadoes at nearly forty years old if it wasn't for our paleo diet! My husband's stomach issues left right around the same time his little spare tire was replaced by six-pack abs thanks to paleo. Many of you know that I have Rheumatoid Arthritis. I am happy to report that I take no medications what so ever. Paleo eating is not "snake oil". I still have a few bad days mixed in with all the good. However, I firmly believe eliminating grain from my diet plays a pinnacle role in keeping my joints flexible and has halted my disease progression.

With that said, I wanted to take one more moment of your time to say thank you so much for supporting me and loving my recipes. My goal continues to be to provide you with quick and easy meals that get you in and out of the kitchen so you can get back to your busy lives. My family has found that if we eat meals packed with flavor, we don't feel deprived. For us, big flavor is the most important part of making it easy to stick to the paleo way of life.

And so, it is now time to bring you... wait for it... SALSA CHICKEN!

What you'll need:


(really... that's it???)

What you do:

Get out your crock pot. Spray it with a little olive oil so you don't have to spend the evening scrubbing. Put in your chicken breasts. Put the salsa over the top. Cover and cook on low about 6 hours.

I know you are thinking, "Am I missing something here?" The answer is a resounding no... no you're not. Sometimes the simplest things taste the best and sometimes the simplest things are so simple, we don't think to make them.

What you do with the chicken when you are done is up to you. Taco salad? Lettuce wraps? Eat it plain? What about stuffing it into a pepper? The sky is the limit!

A key point to remember is that not all salsas are created equal. I personally like Santa Barbara Salsa in the Roasted Garlic flavor. It's all natural and gluten free (yes, they put gluten in salsa as a thickener and filler... can you believe that sh*%.) You can pronounce everything on the Santa Barbara Salsa ingredient list which is always a plus.

Let me know what you make with your salsa chicken!


Friday, February 19, 2010

Quick and Easy Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Traditional cabbage rolls are supposed to take forever to make. Some recipes call for hours of slave like preparation and two days of cooking. Those were the cabbage rolls of my Russian grandmother's era. I'm not so sure why they need massive amounts of preparation. They taste just as good to me the "quick" way. I think it's in Russian women's blood to do everything the hard way. I constantly fight against this in my genes. But when it comes to cooking, I refuse to spend hours on something that should take minutes to accomplish. Oh, and by the way, these are not the traditional version anyway. I have made them paleo friendly and changed up the ingredients.

You do need a bit of time for the preparation so keep in mind that this is not a 15 minute recipe. It is best reserved for the weekend or a time when you aren't rushed and out of breath which for me is precisely two times per year.

When you are done your efforts will be rewarded in that you will have a wonderful, flavorful and joyous dinner where everyone at the table will be singing your praises. Who wouldn't want that!

What you'll need:

A green cabbage
1lb grass fed ground beef
1T Italian seasoning
1tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup of onion, grated
1 egg

for the sauce:
1 8oz can low salt tomato sauce
1/2 can of tomato paste
1T Dijon mustard
1/2 a lemon, squeezed

What you do:

Preheat your oven to 350. Put the cabbage in a large pot and cover it with water. Boil the cabbage until the leaves are soft and easily removed. This takes about 15 minutes from the boiling point. I promise the nasty boiling cabbage smell is temporary. While the cabbage boils take your meat, spices, onion and egg and mix them up in a bowl. You know the rule: mix with your hands not a spoon. When the cabbage is soft, peel the leaves off one by one and put them on a plate to drain and cool. While they cool mix up the sauce in a separate bowl. Ok, so you're about 25 minutes in. Not bad considering you could have been toiling for about eight hours by now. On what, I'm not quite sure but I promise that tradition says you must spend at least this amount of time before you get the cabbage rolls in the oven. Maybe my grandmother was secretly making vodka while making the rolls and that is what was taking so long.

So now you're ready for the assembly. If you're really into it you can put on a house coat, apron and scarf. Now you look like my Russian grandmother. It's good karma... your rolls will taste better if you do. Make sure you send me a picture. Line the bottom of a baking dish with some of the smaller cabbage leaves. Take a cabbage leaf and hold it in your hand. Trim the thickness of the stem down so it's easier to roll. Plop some of the meat mixture on the leaf and roll the leaf up tucking the sides of it in so the meat is completely covered. If the leaf is too big you can cut the excess off. Put it in the baking dish. Repeat until all the meat is used. Pour the tomato sauce on top of the rolls and cover the dish with foil. Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours depending on how big you made your rolls. This recipe makes between seven and ten rolls. Double up if you have a larger family.

That's all there is to it. No days of labor needed!


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Chicken Puntanesca

Here is the recipe that proves we can live without pasta! It is totally and completely possible and quite yummy to boot. Just make a quick sauce and put it over chicken (or steak) instead of noodles. This is another one of those blink and it's done dishes. I'm in love with those, especially on nights like this. I knew that I was going to make chicken "something". I had made about four runs at the kitchen to try to make dinner but the more I tried, the more my efforts were thwarted.

One of my sons is nonverbal. His way of communicating is to look at me, take me by the hand, and lead me to what he wants. Trust me, we are celebrating that he is doing this... it's a huge accomplishment. So tonight was one of those nights where every time I tried to make dinner he would come in and take me by the hand and off we'd go. We played on the trampoline, I pushed him on the swing, we had a wrestling match. All the while dinner was falling further and further behind, but you know, who really cares when you've got the most important part of your life right in front of you trying like heck to communicate. He is awesome and I love him dearly. So my point is the later it got, the less time I had to come up with something. The idea of a beautiful bounty soon turned into whatever I could make that was fast and simple.

I love strong flavors so consider yourself warned. This one is not for sissies. The flavor is as intense as it is delicious. This is true paleo cooking at it's finest. So good, you will never know that it's healthy. And it's true Primal Mama cooking. So fast, dinner is on the table in 15 minutes.

Feel free to adjust the amounts of ingredients to your liking. I hope you love it!

What you'll need:

4 cloves of garlic, crushed
10 kalamata olives, rough chopped
1 large (or 2 small) cans diced tomato, low salt!
1 T. capers, rinse them off to get some of the salt off
chicken breasts

What you do:

Start by cutting through the chicken breast to make two thin pieces out of one breast. Pound the thicker end slightly to form a chicken cutlet. Throw a little cracked pepper on both sides. Saute the chicken on the stove top in a little olive oil until cooked through and remove to a plate. Using the same pan, add a little more olive oil if necessary and throw in your garlic and olives. Give that a good stir for about a minute and be careful not to burn the garlic. Add in the can(s) of tomatoes and mix. Get the flame going on high and stir until the tomato liquid is absorbed and you are left with a thick tomato sauce. Toss in the capers. The smell of this dish alone will cause you to fall in love immediately. Plate the chicken and pour the sauce on top. You have just made a wonderful meal in 15 minutes flat. No drive thru, no chicken nuggets, no "cream of god knows what" soup needed! And most of all... no pasta!


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ginger Chicken -- emergency dinner

As you probably know by now an emergency dinner, according to my definition, requires no skill, almost no effort, and no time at all to get on the table. What this recipe lacks for in preparation certainly is made up in flavor. If you have a plate and can stack things on top of each other, you can make this.

This recipe was realized when I was out for lunch with my hubby and we went to Fitness Cafe in Brea. We had to laugh at the "fitness" part of it. The menu was full of pasta dishes, whole wheat bun sandwiches, spinach tortilla this and that, and the every popular... low fat cheese. Now if you operate in mainstream America these choices are certainly better than McDonalds... but "Fitness"? I'm not so sure about that.

Hubby ended up having a $15.00 steak salad which was just that. Some romaine lettuce with a big ol' slab of steak on the top a la boring! Not so much as a tomato wedge or a slice of cucumber to be found. The waitress raved about the "Tuscan dressing". I'm sure it had sugar in it.

After scouring the menu for what felt like an eternity I decided to have this wrap... unwrapped. I didn't need to eat the white flour and lard laden tortilla even if it was colored green with a little spinach juice to try to throw me off. Don't fool yourselves. Just because the tortilla is the color of a vegetable does not mean it's equal to a vegetable.

The down side was when I was done with this little number I was still starving. I added a side salad with olive oil and lemon wedges for the dressing and a side of fruit. Now that was perfect.

It really was quite tasty and would make the perfect meal in a super hurry. So here it is, complements of Fitness Cafe.

What you'll need:

Cooked chicken breast (I like Trader Joe's sliced chicken breast)
1 purple onion
pickled ginger (Asian aisle at the market or available at most health food markets)
1 avocado

What you do:

Take a little olive oil and heat it in a pan. Slice your onion super thin and saute it until it's soft. Take a plate out and put some chicken on it. Put the onion over the top of the chicken. Put the pickled ginger on top of the onion. Put the avocado on top of the ginger. EAT.

That is it for this tasty little number.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Chile Relleno the Primal Way

I am a Southern California native and Mexican food is in my blood. Since I've been eating the paleo way, I've missed many of the dishes that I used to enjoy. One of my favorites was Enchiladas. They are so gooey and cheesy and yummy. The down side is that they are really carby and unhealthy. So needless to say, I've given them up. Another Mexican dish that I've given up is Chili Relleno. I've really only had it a couple of times but I really enjoyed it when I did. Who wouldn't love a giant chili stuffed with a huge hunk of cheese, battered and deep fried in lard? It goes down so good until you wake up one day with blocked coronary arteries and buns the size of Texas and wonder how it happened. I'm here to tell you, it was the Chili Relleno.

A couple of days ago I started to think, "What if I could take the healthy parts of both of those dishes and combine them to make something totally new?" I love Anaheim Chilies and I love chicken with sauteed onions and I love red sauce... Alright! I think I'm on to something. And so the Primal Chili Relleno was born.

As a side note, I have to say that this recipe turned out so good that my hubby and I stood over it at the stove and inhaled the entire pan. We didn't sit down, we didn't get a napkin, we even shared utensils because neither one of us wanted to break away from the heavenly flavor. I may make this again tomorrow.

What you'll need for 4 Chili Rellenos:

4 fresh Anaheim Chilies

2 eggs

1 rotisserie chicken from the market

1 big can enchilada sauce **Watch out** read the labels! Enchilada sauce can have really nasty ingredients. I like El Pato brand. Nothin' in there except tomatoes and seasoning.

1 onion

4 slices of jalapeno pepper from the jar

a brown paper bag
Guacamole (premade is easier!)

What you do:

First you want to fire roast your Chilies. Hopefully, you have a gas flame stove. If you have electric you are going to need to buy the chilies ready to go in a can. Look for whole Anaheim Chilies. You may be able to roast your chilies under the broiler, although I have never tried that. Ok, so, get the burner going and put your chili right on top of the flame and let it sit there. You want the skin to blister and turn black. Get it good on all sides using tongs. When all the skin is blackened put the chili inside the brown bag and close the bag up tight. Listen up! Make sure that the chili is not on fire when you put it in the bag! The bag will catch fire and you will have to play fireman with that little spray thingie you have attached to your sink. Do not ask me how I know this! Follow with the remainder of the chilies. Let them sit in the bag for 10 minutes. Rip open the bag and peel off the skin on all your chilies. You should have a very soft, skinless chili now. Cut down the chili vertically and take out the seeds and veins. You may have to use a knife to cut the seed pod out. Leave the chili intact with just a slit going down the center of it like a little pocket.

Now here's the part where you should either get out your electric mixer or pray that CrossFit has been good to you and your arm strength. It's called whipping egg whites for time. Separate your egg whites and yolks. In a large bowl start whisking your egg whites until they are stiff. Whisk like your life depended on it. Those egg whites aren't going to get all fluffy by themselves! Get to it! Once they look like merangue you can gently fold in one of the egg yolks. Your mixture should still look quite fluffy and airy.

Put a few tablespoons of olive oil in a small pan and get it hot. Dip the chili in the egg "batter" and fry the chili in the olive oil on each side just until the egg is cooked and browned. It only takes a few seconds per side. Drain the chilies on paper towels.

Chop and saute your onion using the same pan that you cooked the chilies in until soft. While the onion is cooking take about 2 cups of chicken meat off the bone and chop it up. Mix the onion with the chicken in a bowl. Mince up about 4 slices of jalapeno (I use the ones in the jar already sliced) and add it to the chicken. Mix in enough enchilada sauce to coat the chicken mixture nicely. Now spoon the chicken mixture into the chilies and put them in a baking dish. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes until everything is heated through.

To serve, pour some enchilada sauce on an empty plate and place the stuffed chili on top of the sauce. Spoon some guacamole on the side of the plate. Sprinkle with oregano. Take a bite. Cry tears of joy because nothing on this Earth should taste this good.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Sausage and Peppers - Emergency Dinner

I'm almost embarrassed to give you this next recipe. Actually, the term "recipe" doesn't even apply here. I had one of those days yesterday. You know, the ones where you start running a few minutes late and before you know it, it's snowballed into a disaster complete with exploding laundry baskets and piles of crap everywhere. There's no food in the fridge, the dog is laying in the middle of the unmade bed with muddy paws and there is an unknown substance stuck in your sons hair? Yeah... I have those a couple of times per week. It's inevitable. With twins in multiple therapies, my own health to consider, construction going on at our house and a multitude of other obstacles, I just threw this one together... literally. I knew it would be okay though. The more my recipe blog grows, the more I hear from women (and the occasional man) that suffer the same plight. I know that we are all in this together. So file this one under emergency dinners. A Primal Mama emergency dinner consists of 5 ingredients or less and the most minimal effort possible. Getting in the car and driving thru would be a monumental task compared to this. So don't even think about it.

What you'll need:
2 onions: one white, one purple
3 bell peppers, color of your choice
2 jars of Gluten Free Marinara Sauce, 3 grams of sugar or less
(I use Trader Joe's Organic Marinara)
enough Italian Turkey Sausage links to feed your family
hot, mild or a combo of both
Italian seasoning
Your trusty crockpot

What you do:

Chop the onion and bell peppers in large chunks. You want them large because you don't want them to disintegrate from the long cooking process. Put those in the crockpot. Put your sausage on top of the veggies. Open your jars of sauce. Poor them over the top. Set the crockpot for low if you do this in the morning or high for a max of 3 hours. Serve it in a shallow bowl with a little Italian seasoning over the top for color. And that is the whole recipe. Congratulations! We've survived another day!


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Lemon Chicken on Cauliflower Mash

Doesn't this look fancy? It has the look of a gourmet meal. It takes a little more work than most of my recipes but it's worth the time. The key is in the presentation. Do you have someone to wow? This would be your dish. I love to make dinners like this. People eat with their eyes first and this dish says, "Marvel at my creator because I taste great!", even before they take the first bite. I've actually seen a dish like this at a local restaurant for about $26.00.

You can make this dish with bone-in chicken or with boneless breast or thigh. It's really up to your preference. The cauliflower mash is super simple and not bland at all with the addition of caramelized onion and garlic powder. You may even consider making this for Valentine's Day dinner in lieu of an overpriced and super-rushed, crowded and noisy meal where they usher you in and out in an hour so they can seat their next group of victims... I mean, patrons. Don't gasp at me! It's just a suggestion.

So let's get to makin' some chicken!

What you'll need:

For the chicken:
Chicken pieces of your choice
1/3 cup olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bunch of parlsey
2 lemons
a ziplock bag

For the Cauliflower:
1 head cauliflower
chicken broth (low sodium, gluten free)
1 white onion
1 tsp garlic powder

A bag of spinach
A garlic clove
an additional lemon for the sauce

What you do:

Wake up way too early in the morning. Stumble to the kitchen and step down full force on the GI Joe that was left strategically in the middle of the kitchen floor. Wish you could scream in pain but hold it inside. The twins are still sleeping and you just...need... five... more... minutes...of...peace. Hop to the coffee pot holding the injured foot in your hand while trying not to trip over your robe tie and fire that sucker up. Catch your reflection in the window, recoil, and ask yourself when you turned into the Bride of Frankenstein.

Meander in a half fog over to the fridge and take out your ingredients to get the chicken marinating. Suck down half a pot of coffee. Grab your ziplock and put in the olive oil. Chop up the garlic and throw that in there too. Tear the stems off the parsley and rough chop it. Get that in the bag. Half the two lemons and squeeze the juice in the bag. Throw the whole lemon rind in the bag too. Put in your chicken and seal the bag. The key word here is SEAL. Although you may be in a twin induced coma, you are going to want to seal the bag so when you shake it marinade doesn't slosh all over you causing the opposite sex to become suddenly intrigued (and quite hungry) with your new scent. Get the chicken in the fridge. That's it for the morning. You can go about your day now.

About 15 minutes before you are ready to cook, take the chicken out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature. Put a little olive oil in a pan, get it hot, and add the sliced onion. Stir it around a bit. Cook it a couple of minutes and then turn the heat down low. Let the onion cook slowly. This pulls the sugar out of the onion creating the caramelization. The onion is done when it's soft and shiny and a deep caramel color. Smell the sweetness... mmm... sooo good. Remove the onion from the pan and chop it up. While the onion is cooking, cut the cauliflower into chunks and steam it for about 7 minutes until it's slightly soft. Put it in the food processor with a tsp of olive oil and a little pepper. Pulse to desired consistency adding chicken broth as necessary for smoothness. Transfer the cauliflower mash to a bowl and gently stir in onion and garlic powder.

There are two ways to cook the chicken. If you are using boneless breasts, I like to butterfly them and saute them in the pan with olive oil. When the chicken is cooked through remove it to a plate add about 1cup of chicken broth and another lemon squeezed to the pan. Boil the broth with lemon and scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Reduce the sauce by half.

If you are using bone-in chicken like in the picture, you can bake it at 350 for about 45 minutes or until chicken in no longer pink inside. If you want to get fancy you can trim the wing so just the drumette remains. Use the pan drippings as sauce with an additional squeeze of lemon.

If you want to get all crazy you can saute some spinach in olive oil with a little chopped garlic for a side. It adds a great pop of color.

And now for the piece de la resistance! Get a shallow bowl and put your cauliflower mash on the bottom like a little mountain. Oh yeah, that's lookin' good! Add the chicken on top, at an angle you're amazing, and a little dab of spinach on the side... such talent! Top with a little pan sauce. Bobby Flay could not have done this one any better.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Not So Sweet Potato

There are very few foods in this world that I dislike. Some of them just happen to be foods that I should be eating like eggs. Their taste, their smell, their texture... it's like a trifecta of grossness. But I've challenged myself and created recipes made of eggs that I can actually enjoy. Hey, put enough sausage and veggies in and you can hardly tell there's any egg in there, right?

Right now you're thinking, "Hey, isn't this a sweet potato recipe?" Well, yes it is. But I used the egg example to get you on board with what's really unappetizing to me. The second most blech thing on the planet to me is sweet potato made all whipped up with cinnamon and maple, a la Thanksgiving... it's gives me shivers just thinking about it. But sweet potatoes are incredibly nutritious and provide the right amount of carbs for a post workout meal (as long as you don't eat a truck load of them). If Robb Wolf says eat a sweet potato then, hey, I'm going to find a way to make them taste good. Just in case you're wondering, if Robb Wolf said jump off a building... yes, I would do it. If you don't know who Robb Wolf is, take a moment and go under my favorite links and get to know him. He is my Mick Jagger.

Where were we? Ah, yes, sweet potato. So I was saying that I don't like my sweet potato sweet. What I do love is sweet potato fries. Don't get all bleary eyed and smiley... were not going there! Sweet potato fries are... well... fried; and that's no good. So let's make a version of sweet potato fries and promise ourselves that we will use PORTION CONTROL. Here we go:

What you'll need:
enough sweet potatoes to serve 1/2 to each person
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup dehydrated onion flakes
1 tsp garlic powder
a big ziplock bag

What you do:

Preheat your oven to 400. Start by peeling all the sweet potatoes. I've said it before and I will say it again: Children are a wonderful source of kitchen labor. If they can play World of Warcraft, they can peel a sweet potato. Any child 48 inches or under should be participating. Unless, of course, you're my friend, Rose. In that case go to the garage and get your ladder out so you can reach your seven foot 19 inch son's ear to bend it over and drag him to the kitchen. Now cut the sweet potatoes up into fri-like chunks. Not too big, and try to keep them even in size as much as possible.

Open the ziplock and pour in your olive oil, onion flakes, and garlic. Put the cut sweet potato in and close the bag. Give the bag a squish and a twist to coat all the sweet potato. Pour out the contents of the bag onto a cookie sheet. Since you won't be using it for cookies, this is a great alternative. Put them in the oven for about 30 minutes. Check on them often and stir when needed. Cooking time may vary due to the size of your sweet potato chunks. I keep mine in until they get a little crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. Don't worry if you get a few black edges on them. That's just the sugar in the potato cooking.

The hardest thing about these is to refrain from eating the whole pan. You think I'm kidding...

Remember that the ideal post workout portion would be HALF a sweet potato... good luck with that!


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sunday Frittata

Frittatas are fun to make. They are so simple but they look like you really slaved away. You can also put just about anything in a frittata that sounds good which is why it is a perfect Sunday breakfast meal for me. I can get something on the table that looks amazing while cleaning out the dregs of the fridge and preparing to shop for the week once again.

So today I've got some spinach, an onion, a link of sweet Italian sausage, some basil, a red bell pepper and half a tomato. Easy enough! That's really all there is to it. Open the fridge. What do you have in there? Bacon? That works... Salami? For sure... Turkey? That'll do! You get my drift. Add in a few veggies and you have something hearty and yummy that's all your own.

What you'll need:

One or two links of Italian sausage (or meat of your choice)
1/4 cup of chopped basil
1/2 a chopped red pepper
1/2 a large tomato, guts removed and chopped (otherwise the tomato makes the frittata to wet)
a handful or two of spinach
one small onion, chopped
a 12 inch non-stick skillet

What you do:
Preheat your oven's broiler. Beat 8 eggs in a bowl with 1 tsp of water and set aside. Start by cooking your meat if it's raw. In my case, I will start by removing the casing from my sausage and browning it so it looks like ground beef. When that is done remove it to a plate. Put a little olive oil in the pan and saute the onion, red bell pepper and tomato until soft. Add in the basil and spinach and saute until it cooks down. Turn the heat down to medium low.

Pour your eggs over the meat and veggies and start moving them around the pan like you are making scrambled eggs. When the eggs start to set slightly spread them evenly about the pan and let them cook through on the bottom. No more stirring. Watch you flame. You may need to turn it down. You want the frittata to cook almost all the way through. When you are at the point that you have it almost cooked through but it's still liquid at the top take the pan off the flame and put it under the broiler for about 2 - 4 minutes. Watch it carefully! You want a frittata, not a hockey puck.

When it's done you can remove it whole from the pan and place it on a cutting board. Put some cut fruit along side it and serve it at the table right on the cutting board. Make sure everyone is sitting down when you bring out your masterpiece. You can cut it and serve it at the table for effect, wowing everyone around you. If your family is not paying attention or doesn't give you the response you deserve, I give you permission to channel my husband's grandmother and give each member an Italian backhand. That should shape them up!


Friday, February 5, 2010

Sesame Seared Ahi Salad

Before I start, you must know that I nearly risked my life to offer a seafood recipe. My marriage contract clearly states a few no, no's and one of them is "no seafood". None. As a matter of fact, I can't even make it for myself because the smell sends hubby over the edge and into fits of terror and flashbacks from traditional Italian Christmas Eve's past. In case you're not familiar, traditional Italian Christmas Eve is a feast of about 900 kinds of fish and other sea food. Absolutely no meat of any kind. That is, until they bring out tables of it at 12:01am Christmas day. If you're not to keen on fish to begin with, I'm sure this can be quite traumatizing. I've tried all along to respect this wish, but I think it's time to bring out this recipe. It's worth the risk.

This is the easiest fish recipe out there. I've had it at several restaurants with a side of massive price tag. It's really too bad that they charge so much. It's a couple of ingredients and about three minutes of work. The number one thing you have to do is buy your Ahi carefully. Personally, I will buy my Ahi at Bristol Farms or Whole Foods. If you are a fish eater, you will know where to buy it. If you are new to buying fish I would take the time to call the store and ask what day they get their fresh catch in. The last word of advice is to buy "sushi grade" That way you know you are getting the best. You only need a small portion for each person you are feeding so it shouldn't cost you an arm and a leg.

What you'll need:

Sushi grade Ahi steaks (think smallish)
sesame seeds
black sesame seeds
red pepper flakes
bag o' salad greens (the one that looks like weeds)
olive oil

For the dressing:
2/3 cup rice wine vinegar (no sugar, no salt)
4T sesame oil
2tsp soy sauce
a few drops of Syrachi hot sauce (Tabasco works too)

What you do:

Put a generous handful of sesame seeds on a small plate. Sprinkle in some black sesame seeds to give contrast. Add in a few shakes of red pepper flakes and swirl around on the plate to mix. Coat the Ahi with the sesame seeds on all sides. They should adhere without any trouble. Set aside.

Make the dressing by combining all dressing ingredients in a Tupperware or jar and shake like crazy. Divide the salad mix amongst your plates and set aside.

Now you are ready to sear your Ahi. Get a pan hot with olive oil. You want it so hot that the olive oil is just to the smoke point. For those of you that are used to cooking with coconut oil you could use that instead because you can get the pan hot without the smoke. Turn your vent on full blast so your smoke detectors don't start screaming. With tongs in hand, bow respectfully to the Ahi and transfer it to the hot pan. Watch it carefully. You want a nice sear but don't want to burn the sesame seeds. Look at the side of the fish. You will see where it is cooking from the bottom because the color will turn from red to grey. When you see this turn the fish over and do the same with the other side. It should remain red in the middle. Remember, you bought "sushi grade" for a reason. And that reason is to serve it rare.

Repeat until you have all pieces cooked. Let the pieces of fish rest for about five minutes. Use a SHARP knife to cut slices of Ahi and put it on top of the lettuce. Drizzle with the dressing. This is such a pretty dish, you may even want to take a picture of this one and hang it on the wall. A designer meal without the designer price tag. How fun is that!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Kale Salad

UPDATE: Add chopped cooked chicken (I get mine at Trader Joe's) for a great protein rich salad!

I never knew kale was a vegetable. For 39 1/2 years I've walked this earth thinking it was something that you planted in the front yard next to the petunias. That is, until my hubby brought a kale salad home from Whole Foods Market.

I have to admit that when I first saw it in salad form I was a little hesitant to try it. This was going out on a limb for me even though I love most vegetables. It was so dark and heavy looking. I thought for sure it was going to taste like lawn clippings.

Well, as you've probably guessed by now, I was wrong. Dead wrong. Kale is delicious! And when you pair it with the sweetness of dried cranberries and the tartness of lemon, it's a total winner. I was hooked instantly. I wanted to send hubby out for more immediately. That is... until I saw the price tag on the top of the container.

Almost six bucks for a micro-dab of kale, four cranberries and an almond sliver? Are you kidding me? You can get a truck load of kale for 47 cents! Ok, maybe not that cheap, but you get where I'm going with this.

All I had to do was figure out how they were making it and create my own. Hmmm... how was I going to do that? I know! How about reading the ingredients located right next to the ridiculous price tag! I'm a genius.

And so Primal Mama's version of Whole Foods kale salad is born!

What you'll need:
1 bunch of kale
1/2 red bell pepper (optional)
1/4 a purple onion
1/2 a cup of dried cranberries
1/2 a cup of sliver almonds (pine nuts are great too... or walnuts)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 lemon, squeezed
dash of garlic powder

What you do:
Wash and dry the kale well. Chop it into bite size pieces omitting the tough stems. I find that if you make the pieces on the small side it's easier to eat. If you want some red bell pepper in there chop that as well. I really just put it in there for the color. Slice up some very thin strips of purple onion. Thin is the key. You don't want the onion flavor to take over the salad. Well, that took about three minutes. So Whole Foods can't blame their high price on a labor intensive salad now, can they. Put all your veggies in a bowl. Add in the cranberries and nuts of your choice. Take a look at all the colors. This really is a beautiful salad.

To make up the dressing just poor 1/3 a cup of olive oil into a Tupperware or jar. Squeeze in the lemon and add a little garlic powder. Close it up and give it a good shake. Taste. Adjust to your liking as necessary.

Now poor the dressing over the kale and toss it up. Smile! You've just made a mountain of kale salad for about three bucks. The beauty of this salad lies not only in its taste, but in the fact that it will last in the fridge for several days and taste even better as it sits.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Winter Stew

It seems like forever since I last posted a recipe. Truth be told one or another of us (or all of us together at one point) have been sick. We've caught nearly every kind of cold, virus and flu out there but all at the same time. In a nutshell, we feel like crap. But hey, life goes on and we must keep moving forward, right?

So let's get down to dinner. When I feel crummy I always want something warm and comforting. It helps if it's packed with vitamins and protein to help put me back on my feet. Who am I kidding? All you mothers out there can attest to the fact that we may get knocked on our butts, but do we get to rest? Um... that would be NO! So here's hoping this hearty meal will nourish my broken body. Lord knows, it's my only hope.

What you'll need:
about 3 pounds of stew meat
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots sliced on the diagonal
about 10 mushrooms (not allowed in my house)
6 green onions
3T fresh ginger, minced
3 T tomato paste (low sodium)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups beef broth (low sodium, gluten free)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 cup coconut milk, unsweetened
lime wedges

What you do:
You're going to start with a little exercise in kitchen prep. Chop the onions (both varieties), slice the carrots, slice the mushrooms (unless you are me, then your marriage contract states no mushrooms... ever). Mince the garlic. Peel the ginger. Did you know that if you use a spoon and scrape it on the ginger peel, it comes right off? Magic! Mince the ginger. Now, another handy kitchen trick: Take your cilantro and break the stems off with one giant twist. Put the cilantro in a coffee mug and start snipping away at it with your kitchen shears. This is much easier than trying to chop herbs that just end up getting stuck to your knife and flying all around the kitchen. Do the same with the mint. Open your cans and get them ready. Whew! Time for a coffee break! That was some serious prep! By all means feel free to enlist the household to help. I tried that once with my hubby. He tore his rotator cuff chopping the garlic. No, I'm not kidding. I think he did it on purpose to get out of his part.

Alright, so you've chopped everything within arms distance (you may want to inventory your pets) and opened your cans. You are now ready to get out a heavy and deep pan and add some olive oil. Get the pan hot. Dry your stew meat off with paper towels. I know it sounds weird but you want it to brown, not steam. Add the meat a little at a time and brown it for a couple of minutes. If you add your meat all at once the temperature of the pan will come down and your meat will turn all grey and look like mushed up brains. Don't do that, it's not cool. Remove it to a plate when browned. After all the meat is browned you can add your onion and green onion, carrot and ginger to the pan. Poor in a bit of beef broth to loosen the browned bits off the bottom and scrape the bottom of the pan. Get all those bits up! This is where flavor is born. Continue to saute the veggies about five minutes.

Things are starting to smell good, but this is only the beginning. Stir in the tomato paste and garlic. Add the coconut milk, beef broth, mint and cilantro. Now things are getting interesting. I don't even know what region this dish would fit with. It's kind of Moroccan- Thai meets Mediterranean-American. But I do know that your house smells pretty darn good right about now.

Ok, now add your meat back in to the pan and bring it up to a boil. Turn the heat way down low. Cover and simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally to keep all the pieces of meat covered with the sauce. After the hour is up take the lid off and raise the heat to medium. Let the sauce reduce and thicken up about 30 more minutes. You will add your mushrooms in the last 30 minutes if you choose to use them. Gosh, I miss mushrooms...

Serve it in a big shallow bowl with a generous squeeze of lime and don't be surprised if you get a knock on the door from the neighbors asking you what you are cooking. This dish can be smelled from across the street!