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?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What I'm Reading

If you're anything like me, you've got big dreams and big goals. Sometimes, though, it's difficult to have a clear vision of how to reach them. Enter Brendon Burchard's book, The Millionaire Messenger. I first heard Brendon's name from my fitness guru, Chalene Johnson. She mentioned that she had attended one of Brendon's seminars and was hooked. Chalene has a reputation of integrity, and when she recommends someone or something, people listen. She has never steered me wrong.

So when she said Brendon was giving away advance copies of this new book for free, I jumped at the chance. After signing up, I have received several very informative videos, a guru guidebook, and now a copy of The Millionaire Messenger. I have found all of his material to be organized, concise, and clear. This book is no exception. If you are looking to share your message with the world, and make a profit while doing it, I highly recommend it.

Not only does he outline the steps that he used in building his empire, but he also goes deeper into the attitudes and beliefs that are necessary to be successful in the expert industry. You get clearly defined actions to take, as well as guiding principles to help you on your journey. What I most admire is Brendon's relentless focus on the service aspect of the industry. While he has built a multi-million dollar empire sharing his message, his continued focus is not just the money. His focus is integrity, excellence and service. He advises his readers to do the same. He is dedicated to building an industry of trust and support.

It's amazing how Brendon has de-mystified the expert industry and clarified the steps needed to begin building a business around your message. His writing is direct, purposeful, and inspiring. Sign up at his website to begin experiencing his work for free!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Chic Chef is Always a Lady

We're still in the beginning phases, but it's time to dream big...


Stop by and check it out!

I'm Going Nuts!

I've never been a huge fan of nuts, but because I have drastically changed my eating habits lately to embrace a healthier lifestyle, I know that they provide a ton of health benefits. So, I've started slowly with pre-packaged snack bags of 15 almonds as my morning snack for the last couple months. Not bad. I can deal. Then I saw this recipe the other day on a Food Network commercial. Salty and sweet? Sign me up! This just might make me a bona fide walnut lover...

Ellie Krieger's Maple Glazed Walnuts

***Breaking News!! The hubby is picking up the goods for this as we speak! A taste test is in my future.

***UPDATE: This recipe is Chic Chef de Cuisine approved! Very quick and tasty! I bagged them up to take to work for snacks. This would be a great holiday appetizer too!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Let's Talk About It...

Another added benefit to using social media in the classroom setting would be the ability to hold ongoing conversations about material outside of class. We all know that as we process information, new thoughts can come up about a text. This does not always necessarily happen while class is in session. Having a discussion forum online allows students to engage with the curriculum on their own time and at their own pace. This forum also will go a long way to increase the sense of community among class members and the teacher.

Students who may not be comfortable with sharing their ideas in class will also be given the opportunity to voice their opinions in a less threatening environment when they are allowed to post online. As the student becomes comfortable in doing that, they may begin to feel more able to do the same in the classroom as they have developed those communicative relationships with the group outside of class.

One of the drawbacks I have seen with this strategy is that the teacher must spend time teaching students how to engage in meaningful online discussions. Without guidance, students tend to post simple one sentence responses instead of really engaging their peers in deep, analytical conversation.

Because I am not comfortable with using Facebook or Twitter with students, I have utilized this same strategy but on our school web portal. I have started online discussion groups that operate similar to social media, but with a strictly academic focus instead of the social side that Facebook and Twitter offer that is not a necessity for the academic learning students are required to do.


Saturday, February 5, 2011

How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Words...

One of the benefits of incorporating sites like Facebook and Twitter into the educational setting is requiring students to narrow down their thoughts and focus on main ideas. One of the challenges in ELA is getting students to recognize the difference between main ideas and insignificant details. Using a word limit such as what is used on either of these social media sites can really focus students on synthesizing material instead of retelling an entire text.

Again, as I have many concerns with teachers being associated with students on these sites, this is something that can be easily adapted into the curriculum without having to go online. Having students summarize in 140 words or less is a simple requirement that can be added to any assignment. I can see this working well in collaborative groups as group members can help each other in identifying the big ideas and weeding through excess information to reduce the word count. This would be a great challenge as I know when I exceed the word limit on Facebook, I really have to think about what it is I'm trying to say, and what the best way to get that point across is. This strategy would also create automatic buy-in as students respond well to challenges, and this brings almost a game-like element to the work.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Social Media in Education

Well, social media and education is quite a touchy subject these days among teachers, and especially for me. I strongly believe that teachers and students should not have contact on social media sites such as Facebook until the profession clearly defines the expectations and consequences for such interactions. For example, what about the mandated reporter role of teachers? Does that extend onto sites like Facebook? Am I responsible for policing students' profile pages during my free time to ensure proper behavior? Until we have a clearer picture and understanding of these issues, I will not be engaging students using social media.

Having said that, I think you can still utilize some of the concepts to enhance student learning. For example, I have always wanted to create an assignment for analyzing characters in which students would create a Facebook profile page for them. I am sure that there are other teachers out there who have done this type of activity before. This would tap into the students' knowledge of social media sites, yet also require higher level thinking. What status updates would the character post throughout the story? Who would their friends be? This could all be done on a paper graphic organizer designed to look like a Facebook page instead of having to actually be connected online with the site. This would provide students a chance to use what they are familiar with while also protecting teachers from any legality issues that social media sites may bring up.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Multimedia in Education

In reading the Roblyer text, I was immediately drawn to the idea of interactive storybooks for students. As a Language Arts teacher, I know that students do not read enough. Putting text online with fun graphics is a great way to encourage them to read more and interact with the text. When students are using books checked out from the school library, I often understand their frustration about reading. They can't do anything with the text because they don't own it. We all know as adults that it greatly helps when you can write on, highlight, write down questions, etc. as you read. These interactive stories would allow students to have a similar experience in a format they are familiar with.

This tool would benefit student learning because it would encourage them to go beyond just reading words. Engagement levels would increase, therefore allowing you to challenge the student to work with higher level thinking questions. They would also allow students to visualize the story based on the graphics which can lead to increased understanding.

On the downside, some of the stories come with games that do not always appear to be of educational value. Students may get distracted with the games and fun pictures and not really work through the elements of the story such as plot and character development. Another concern is the effect on student's eyes. At the middle school level, many students experience vision problems. Perhaps having them in front of a computer screen is not beneficial to them, especially when taking into account how much time they may spend on a computer at home.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

We Now Interrupt This Regularly Scheduled Programming...

Remember me? The incredibly chic girl with an addiction to all things Ina? Well, what can I say? It's been a hectic school year to say the least. Hence the hiatus. Wait, what? Alliteration? Yeah. I've still got it.

My meals have not been incredibly exciting lately as a result. Can we say homemade quesadillas and tacos like there's no tomorrow? I will share some of the new holiday things I tried from Ina's latest cookbook as well as some tried and true favorites soon (Um, hello cheese straws, you evil temptress you.)

For now though, it's time to talk business. I'm asking for a special favor. Because things are crazy with me right now, I am looking to use this blog to fulfill a class requirement for my Masters degree. I need to do just a few posts to discuss technology uses in education. I wavered back and forth whether to use this blog, and even though it sounds like a small thing to start another blog entirely to do this, it's just one more stress I don't need. Plus, if I post it here, I'll feel bad, so it will force me to make it up to my chic chefs. Gotta love some good old-fashioned guilt, right? So hopefully, you'll bear with me. Maybe I'll even try to sneak in some cooking/food related items in my posts. Add some "flavor" to them if you will. "Spicing up" technology to motivate students. Hee hee hee. Get it?

Well, from me and my favorite Littlest Sous Chef, Gusti, it's nice to be back!

Dang! Cheese Straws! Okay, I'll eat 12. But JUST 12...