Monthly Archives: January 2013

Primal Paella


I have always LOVED Spanish food, especially Paella, but I had never gotten around to making it myself. And I thought, what a perfect dish to make primal! Just simply swap the rice for cauliflower “rice.” There is so much flavor in this dish you won’t even know the difference. And it freezes really well for those days you just have no time to make a home-cooked meal. I don’t have a paella pan, but simply made this over the stove using a large sauce pan and then transferred it to a large stock pot. I bet it would be even better if you made it in a paella pan or dutch oven and finished it off in the oven.


Primal Paella  (Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)

(Difficulty-Medium; Serves 4-6)

  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • Smoked paprika
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 pound extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined ( I love that Trader Joe’s does this for you!)
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. organic boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 organic red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
  • 8 oz. chorizo, sliced 1/2 inch thick, or ground (I used ground)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 head organic cauliflower, processed into “rice”
  • 3 cups low-sodium organic chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup organic frozen green peas, thawed

Toss shrimp, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1 teaspoon garlic in a medium bowl; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed. Season chicken thighs with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika; set aside. Make rice by processing cauliflower florets in the food processor, using the grater blade. Set aside.


Heat 2 teaspoons oil in large Dutch oven or stock pot over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until skin begins to blister and turn spotty black, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer peppers to small plate and set aside.

IMAG0199Add 1 teaspoon oil to now-empty Dutch oven or pot. Add chicken pieces in single layer; cook until browned, about 3 minutes  on each side. Transfer chicken to medium bowl. Reduce heat to medium and add chorizo; cook, stirring frequently, until deeply browned and fat begins to render, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer chorizo to bowl with chicken and set aside.



Add enough oil to fat in pot to equal 2 tablespoons; heat over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 3 minutes; Add remaining garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes; cook until mixture begins to darken and thicken slightly, about 3 minutes. Stir in cauliflower rice and cook until well coated with tomato mixture, 1 to 2 minutes. Add chicken broth, wine, saffron, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer, cover pot and cook about 20-30 minutes, until cauliflower absorbs most of the liquid and becomes tender.


Return chicken and chorizo to pot, increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Scatter shrimp over rice, arrange bell pepper strips in pinwheel pattern, and scatter peas over top. Cover and cook until shrimp are opaque, 10 to 12 minutes. IMAG0207


**This beautiful bowl was hand-crafted by my Uncle Greg-check out more of his work here!


Primal Berry Banana Oatmeal


I finally tried this recipe from the Primal Blueprint cookbook last week and I was more than pleasantly surprised! This breakfast treat has way more flavor and protein than real oatmeal and leaves you with a lot more energy. I doubled the original recipe since it called for 1/2 of a banana, and brought the leftovers for breakfast at work. This is such an easy meal to prepare ahead of time.

Primal Berry Banana Oatmeal (Adapted from Primal Blueprint Quick and Easy Meals) (Difficulty: Easy; Makes 4 Servings)
2/3 c. almonds
2/3 c. pecans
2/3 c. walnuts
1 banana
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. unsweetened coconut milk, plus more to taste
3/4 c. frozen organic mixed berries
1 tsp. pure maple syrup or honey (optional)

Add the nuts, banana, cinnamon, salt, and coconut milk to the food processor and pulse to desired texture.IMAG0225

 Heat the mixture in a sauce pot over medium heat, adding the vanilla, mixed berries, and maple syrup (if desired) until the berries and oatmeal are heated through. I added more coconut milk here to make the oatmeal a little thinner.  




Serve with a sprinkle of cinnamon!


Primal Chicken Broccoli “Alfredo”


I found this Creamy Walnut Sauce in Mark Sisson’s cookbook, Primal Blueprint: Quick and Easy Meals. It can be made as a dip or condiment, but in my opinion it makes a perfect creamy “alfredo” sauce for chicken and broccoli, with or without spaghetti squash. I actually like it even better than real alfredo! The walnuts give this sauce a silky texture and rich nutty flavor that is much more easily achieved than with a traditional alfredo sauce.

Chicken and Broccoli with Walnut Alfredo (adapted from Blueprint: Quick and Easy Meals) (Difficulty: Easy, Serves 4-6)

1 1/2 c. walnuts

1-2 shallots, finely chopped

2 Tbsp. butter

2 c. unsweetened coconut milk

1/2 c. grated pecorino cheese, divided

1-1.5 lbs. organic free range chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces

2 Tbsp. extra virgil olive oil

1lb. organic broccoli florets

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

salt and pepper to taste

Make the sauce: Sauté walnuts and shallot in butter until walnuts are lightly toasted, about 3 minutes. Add 1 cup of coconut milk and bring to a gentle simmer for five minutes. Pour the mixture and 1/4 cup pecorino cheese into a blender and purée until as smooth as possible. Add salt and pepper to taste.

In a large pot of boiling water or vegetable steamer, cook broccoli 2-3 minutes.

Season chicken pieces with salt, pepper, and paprika. Heat oil in a large skillet on medium-high. Add the chicken to skillet until browned, about 2-3 minutes on each side.


Add the broccoli, walnut sauce, remaining cup of coconut milk, red pepper flakes, and pecorino to the pan and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper as needed. This dish is delicious as is or you can serve it over roasted spaghetti squash. Top with pecorino cheese. 205118_10101206051050830_20296513_n

Beer Treats! Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Whiskey Ganache and Irish Cream Frosting + Salted Caramel Pretzel Thumbprint Cookies


I promise this is the last non-primal post for a while! I did a lot of cheating over the holidays and who doesn’t love to indulge every now and then? When I got to LA, the first friends I made were self-proclaimed “beer nerds.” Not to mention they love food too (and whiskey)! Obviously I fit right in with this crowd and was soon invited to one of their beer-tastings, where each person brings 2 or 3 22oz. bottles of delicious, high quality craft beer. Each beer is divided between however many guests there are. Basically it’s like wine tasting for the beer connoisseur. Since then, we have managed to do a tasting roughly once a month. 🙂 In fact, I am hosting this month. Just before we all left town for the holidays, we had a holiday-themed beer tasting. I had been wanting to try a Smitten Kitchen recipe for years for chocolate stout cupcakes with whiskey ganache and irish cream frosting (inspired by a car bomb). And I couldn’t think of a better crowd or setting for it! I also had my eye on the salted caramel pretzel thumbprint cookies from the holiday cookie edition of the Food Network magazine. So I got baking!


Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Whiskey Ganache and Irish Cream Frosting (slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

(Difficulty-Medium; Makes ~10 cupcakes **I halved the original recipe**)

For the cupcakes:

1/2 c. stout beer (I used my favorite- Young’s Double Chocolate Stout)
1 stick unsalted butter, room temp. 
1/4 c. + 2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder 
1 c. all purpose flour
1 c.sugar
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, room temp.
1/3 c. greek yogurt or sour cream

Whiskey Ganache:

4 oz. bittersweet chocolate
1/3 c. heavy cream
1 Tbsp. butter, room temperature
1 tsp. Irish whiskey (I used Jameson)

Irish Cream Frosting:

1 cup confections sugar (I reduced this from the original recipe as I found it much too sweet when combined with the Baileys)
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
3  Tbsp. Baileys

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 12 cupcake cups with liners (I found cute red and green striped ones at Michaels which I had to buy!). Bring stout and butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.


Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric or stand mixer, beat eggs and greek yogurt in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 of the way. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 17 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack completely.



To make the ganache, chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth. (If this has not sufficiently melted the chocolate, you can return it to a double-boiler to gently melt what remains.) Add the butter and whiskey and stir until combined.


Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped,. about 10-20 minutes if you stick it the fridge. Meanwhile, using a serrated knife or 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer (I didn’t have one), cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes about 2/3 of the way to the bottom, being careful not to cut all the way through. I ate these pieces to make sure the cupcake was edible. 😉 Put the ganache into a piping bag with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.



For the frosting, whip the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, for several minutes, until it is light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time. Pour in the Baileys and whip it until combined. This frosting has a nice thick texture and holds up well when piped. Ice and decorate the cupcakes. I used a star tip and made little stars everywhere (which coincidentally ended up looking a little like snow balls) and used a microplane to shave some dark chocolate on the top.


Salted Caramel Pretzel Thumbprint Cookies (courtesy of Food Network Magazine)

(Difficulty-Easy; Makes ~2 dozen cookies)

  • 1 1/2 c. broken thin pretzel sticks
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. fine salt
  • 1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. fleur de sel or caramel sauce (I loved this one at Trader Joes)
  • Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling

Put 1/4 cup pretzels in a resealable plastic bag and crush into coarse crumbs with a rolling pin.


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Whisk the egg yolks, honey, vanilla and salt in a medium bowl, then add to the butter mixture and beat until incorporated, scraping down the bowl as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low; add the flour and pretzel crumbs and beat until just combined.

IMG_3929 Put the remaining 1 1/4 cups pretzels in the resealable bag and roughly crush with the rolling pin; spread on a rimmed baking sheet. Drop tablespoonfuls of dough on top and roll into balls, pressing so the pretzels adhere. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.


 Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Arrange the cookies about 1 1/2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets; make a deep indentation in each with your thumb. Bake, switching the position of the pans halfway through, until lightly golden, 15 to 18 minutes. Re-indent with the back of a teaspoon, if necessary. Let cool 3 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to racks to cool completely. Fill each indentation with dulce de leche and sprinkle with sea salt. This cookie is a perfect combination of salty and sweet. And what goes with beer better than pretzels?!

IMG_3932 IMG_3938 IMG_3940

Brussel Sprouts with Roasted Chestnuts and Brown Butter


“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…” Have you ever really tried this? It is such a fun and toasty winter snack. The first time I had ever even seen chestnuts was in college when I spent Thanksgiving at my aunt and uncles house for the first time in Rhode Island. My cousin John brought chestnuts with him every year and insisted that they make a fire in the fireplace, much to my uncle’s chagrin. For some reason I will never understand, he detests fires. But every year we built one anyway, got all snuggled up on the couch, and roasted chestnuts for an after dinner snack. They have a great silky texture and a sweet buttery nutty flavor. They are difficult to peel so when I saw that Trader Joes sold them pre-roasted and pre-peeled I just had to make something with them! My mom had planned a turkey dinner one night during the holidays so I knew this recipe from my favorite food blog would be a great addition.

Brussel Sprouts with Chestnuts and Brown Butter (courtesy of SmittenKitchen)

(Difficulty-Easy; Serves 8-10)

2 lbs. brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 c. very thinly sliced shallots
3 Tbsp. flour
2 1/2 c. hot chicken or veggie stock
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
Ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 c. roasted, peeled chestnuts, halved

Bring 4 cups salted water to a boil, add brussels sprouts and cook 10 minutes. Drain and refresh under cold water. Drain again.


Meanwhile, melt butter in a 3-quart saucepan. Add shallots and cook over medium heat, stirring, until light brown. Pour contents of pan through a fine strainer into a dish, pressing to remove as much butter as possible from shallots. Place shallots on paper towel to drain. Return butter to saucepan.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place saucepan over medium heat and cook until butter has a nutty aroma and is turning brown. Whisk in flour and cook until mixture is light brown. Whisk in stock and cook until sauce has thickened. The original recipe calls for chicken stock which I would typically use, but my aunt had made a homemade vegetable stock with some leftover veggies, so I knew that would give my sauce an even bigger flavor. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste, and nutmeg. At this point you should have a thick gravy-like sauce.


Add chestnuts and brussels sprouts, folding ingredients together. Transfer mixture to a casserole dish. Scatter shallots on top. Bake about 15 minutes.


 This dish is the perfect side to a comforting, hearty fall or winter meal.