Tuesday, October 18, 2011

This is How You Start Your Day!!

I am definitely a fan of breakfast. It is my favorite meal of the day. As we have been exploring Primal options for our tasting pleasure in the morning, we have been slowly compiling our favorite recipes and products to have some options besides the typical egg dishes (which we still love and eat frequently). Sometimes, you just gotta mix it up. Here are some of our faves...

Best Bacon:

US Wellness Meats White Sugar-Free Pork Bacon


Best Sausage:

4505 Meats Maple Breakfast Sausage.


Best Primal Pancake recipe:

Snickerdoodle Pancakes by Real Sustenance


Best Primal Waffles:

Coconut Flour Waffles (and Pancakes) by The Food Lovers' Primal Palate


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I Have Found the Mother Ship

I heard about Penzey's Spices on several blogs as I searched for Primal friendly recipes. Everyone raved about them. As I saw them mentioned more and more I began to take note of the most popular spices. When I finally received my first Paleo cookbook, Paleo Comfort Foods, and the spices were even mentioned in there, I knew I had to check it out. Because of the lack of actual stores near me, I almost ordered online, but really wanted at least one opportunity to really check out the spices in person. Luckily, a store was located in Santa Rosa, the scene of our Safari adventure and life-changing meal at Stark's Steakhouse.

We headed over after our Safari West tour and I was immediately sucked in. Spices, spices everywhere. We had a blast going around and smelling everything. They have every basic spice you can imagine and lots of unique blends you can't find anywhere else. There are even salt-free versions of many of their most popular blends. We came home with a butt-load. This place is a cook's paradise. It's amazing how even some basic spices smell so different than what we're used to because the quality is higher. The staff was super nice and we even got a free jar of Penzey's Forward Spice because we had a larger order. Score!

Check out our loot:
  • Hot Chocolate Mix
  • Mint Hot Chocolate Mix
  • Original Taco Seasoning
  • Chili con Carne
  • BBQ 3000
  • Shallot Salt
  • Penzey's Forward
  • Chili 9000
  • Northwoods Fire
  • Tuscan Sunset
  • Garlic Salt
  • Arizona Dreaming
  • Old World Seasoning
  • Bavarian Seasoning
  • Cinnamon Sugar
  • Ceylon Cinnamon
Yeah. We went a little crazy. And there are even more that I am interested in trying based on great reviews.

To try still:
  • Sunny Paris
  • Chicago Steak Seasoning
  • Vietnamese Cinnamon
  • Smoked Paprika (surprisingly, the cashier said this was his favorite spice when I asked)
  • Vanilla Extract (man you have to smell this in person)
  • Galena St. Seasoning
Man I'm getting hungry just thinking about it. Although I don't ever feel limited by Primal eating, with fewer food choices available, seasoning becomes even more important to really jazz up a dish.

I sense an addiction coming on. You might want to save this post somewhere as evidence when checking me in to the Penzey's spice rehab center.

Best Meal EVER!!

So not long ago, I saw a posting on the Facebook page of one of my favorite Paleo bloggers,Nom Nom Paleo about a steakhouse in Santa Rosa. The owner of this establishment went on the Paleo diet and had great success. His menu caters to fellow Paleo enthusiasts as well as those who don't follow Paleo guidelines. I knew I must try.

We had the perfect excuse recently as I celebrated my 30th birthday and our 3rd wedding anniversary. We made a lovely little day out of it and drove up to visit Safari West, Penzey's Spices (a post on that to follow), and to finish with a lunch at Stark's Steakhouse. The day was perfect, and the rain made it super cozy. By the time we got to Stark's we were famished. I knew exactly what I wanted: grass-fed Filet Mignon, with an order of Roasted Bone Marrow. I also splurged a little and ordered the Truffled French Fries. My husband ordered the Ribeye with Roasted Bone Marrow and Sauteed Exotic Mushrooms. O.M.G. I must apologize to anyone in the restaurant that day cause that food was getting shoveled down my throat like there was no tomorrow. Seriously one of the best meals I have ever had. All ladylike graces out the window. The steak was excellent with no need for the sauce that came with it. The Bone Marrow was buttery and velvety. The mushrooms were out of this world melt-in-your-mouth and I'm not even a mushroom person. The fries had that earthy, truffle flavor that I adore.

After dinner, we decided to splurge more because we really never do when it comes to dessert. We decided to order the Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread Pudding. I'm no dessert person but *#@% that stuff was good! It was the perfect hot dish to warm us up on that rainy day.

All in all, a perfect meal. The ambiance was incredible too. A very 40's/50's-esque Steakhouse scene. We will definitely be visiting there again.


By the way, that's the exact table we sat at in the front of the picture. Nice view of the fireplace.

A Change in Plans...

So I know it's been awhile. I have been busy working on my Masters and just started a new job this school year. A lot of changes means a lot of time spent just trying to get my bearings. As I settle into a routine, I hope to keep this blog updated with my latest food adventures. So, in that spirit, let me fill you in on the big adventure: Primal eating.

I can't even recall now where I first saw the term "Paleo", but when I did, I started doing some reading (classic me.) I liked what I read. Changing our eating to match what our bodies evolved to process just made sense. Now you'll typically hear the term Paleo, but what my husband and I do is more closely aligned to Primal: a little more lenient and with small amounts of dairy allowed.

We've been eating this way since the end of July and we are really liking it! In a nutshell, we eat meats (preferably grass-fed), vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds and lots of healthy fats. We avoid legumes, dairy (except in small amounts), excess sugar and salt, and grains. What drew me to this was the fact that this already closely mirrors my food preferences. The only hard part, I knew, would be grains. No pasta?! No bread?! That's right folks. And to tell you the truth, I haven't missed it as much as I thought. Many restaurants are very accommodating, and it has been such a blast in the kitchen to discover new recipes. With these limitations, you must be twice as creative. It's like figuring out a big puzzle.

The benefits you ask? More energy, WAY better sleep, improved mood, increased satiety after meals, and fewer headaches for me. Oh, and I exercise about half as much as I used to. Such a time saver! We're having fun with it and exploring lots of new Paleo/Primal versions of our favorite foods. So get ready for a slight shift in the recipes you see here. I hope you'll come along for the ride. Keep your seat belts fastened!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Whoa Mamasita!

Today was a busy day as I was going from appointment to appointment and running errands in between. When I had a small break at home to relax, that eternal question hit me smack in the face: what should we have for dinner? I wanted something new, but quick and easy (don't we all?) I just happened to be watching 5 Ingredient Fix on Food Network and it turned out to be one of my favorite episodes. Claire uses pizza dough in three different recipes. We already tried her pizza dough croutons in my usual Caesar salad--very tasty--and then as she started to make her Easy White Pizza, I remembered that I had bookmarked that recipe quite awhile ago because it looked so good. As I watched her make it again, I knew this was the dinner for us. Five ingredients needed (well only four for us since we had the garlic infused olive oil), and a super quick prep. I was sold!

This was so easy and so quick I couldn't believe it. Less than ten minutes of prep. Even my grocery store visit was quick because I only needed four things. Once my pizza was prepped, it just cooked in the oven for 25 minutes. Voila! Dinner was served. This really tasted like a gourmet pizza. I'm a little embarrassed at how excited I am about this pizza. Seriously.

My husband loved the little pockets of Ricotta cheese scattered through the traditional mozzarella. The oregano added just the perfect spice to it, and the garlic olive oil gave the perfect subtle garlic flavor that didn't overwhelm the other ingredients. This folks, is a winner! This is perfect for a hectic weeknight meal when you're strapped for time. I plan to buy some pizza dough and have it on hand in the freezer so I can pull it out for a quick meal. Seriously, less than ten minutes of work for you, then let the oven do the rest! This is going in the Chic Chef dinner rotation for sure! Okay, have I gushed enough? Just feast your eyes on this...


(Okay, mine didn't look exactly like this. I had more of the calzone dome-esque look to mine. Still tasted phenomenal so we went with it.)

My Recipe Notes:
  • I need to experiment with various types of dough, as well as my pizza forming technique. Ours came out as a large mound--but still completely tasty!
  • 25-30 minutes is recommended in the recipe, but ours came out at 22 minutes. Could be just because of our raised dough mound (sheepish grin)
  • I am a strong believer in a finishing touch of salt and pepper before serving. So my pizza was seasoned before it went in the oven, and also right before serving. And of course, Fleur de Sel was my go-to finishing salt. You don't need much, but it just gives that extra pop of flavor to the dish.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Baseball Season Snack

As baseball season really gets underway for the summer (Go Giants!), it's only natural we have some game day recipes up our sleeve. And what says baseball more than garlic fries? With my latest cookbook purchases going in a healthier direction, I picked up Ellie Krieger's cookbook, The Food You Crave.

I love that Ellie's recipes are quick, easy, and healthy, and most importantly, that all the nutrition and serving size information is listed right next to the recipe. There really is no guess work if you are watching what you eat. When I saw her recipe for baked garlic fries, I simply had to try. We gave them a go and they are definitely a winner!! Now I love me some fried in oil french fries, but I have to say that these baked ones tasted just as good, with a fraction of the guilt.

These were very fast to make, and I found that I didn't really have to alter the recipe at all (except for sneaking in a little extra garlic--don't judge. Garlic completes me). I would just say to make sure you have a mandolin to slice your fries. If they are too big or too small, it would be much more difficult to cook them correctly.

And for the piéce de résistance, to stylishly serve your garlic fries at that summer get-together to celebrate a Giants victory (since we are in my little dream scenario here), I just saw these at Cost Plus yesterday...

French Fries Cone with Stainless Steel Stand

They even had little newspaper print liners to absorb excess oil that would look adorable in these. For a more casual option, in their picnic section, they had traditional red french fry boxes that would be a fun addition to an outdoor summer meal or kid's birthday party.

So, what's your favorite stadium food?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Why Do They Do It To Me?

Last week I went into Williams-Sonoma to replenish our Fleur de Sel supply. I quickly found my new container and told myself I was ready to check out. Famous last words. Apparently, the good folks at WS have a new scent (well I don't know when it came out, but it was new to me) in their candle/hand soap and lotion/ cleaner line. Yep, you guessed it: Fleur de Sel. Blast! Resistance was futile.

I am very sensitive to smells as they often trigger my migraines, so I secretly hoped that this scent would be too powerful for me to bring home. Alas, the smell was heavenly. Strike two for me. It was soft, fresh and clean smelling. Perfect for summer. I'm so weak. I hang my head in shame. Here's the loot that I graciously provided a home for (There. Doesn't that sound better?).

Hand Soap/Lotion Set with Caddy $29.95
Also came with two plastic pump dispensers

Boxed Candle $19.95

Do you have a favorite WS scent?