Category: Cooking

Getting my cook back on….

It’s funny how once I get active again, start doing more regular and structured conditioning, it’s easier to eat correctly. Which makes me feel better, which makes the conditioning easier, which….. you get it, a virtuous cycle.

So what have I done of interest this week. Hmmm, there’s been some grass fed steaks on the grill (and a lunch of leftover gress fed bone-in rib eye from last Friday night at Mr. B’s). But best of all was a Bolognese I’d made with half grass fed ground beef and half free range ground veal. Made it Monday night, and we ate it again on Wednesday night. Kiddo and hubby had it over gluten free noodles (I’m trying to convert them to paleo/primal, not having great success, just baby steps). I enjoyed it over spaghetti squash. I’ve finally figured out how to cook the damn stuff. From ‘Practical Paleo’ by Diane Sanfilippo (get it, you must). Just cut in half, scoop out seeds, rub a tiny bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on baking sheet cut side down, into 350* overn for 40 minutes. Scoop out. Easy Peasy.

Hadn’t made the stir fry in a while. With all the veggies, spices and shrimp, we never miss rice or noodles.

Trying to eat more veggies. Wonderful lunch today of eggs over bacon/avocado pieces a touch of green salsa with a huge salad (lettuce, tomatoes, green onions, carrots) dressed with one of my quickly thrown together vinagerettes. It’s so quick to make your own dressing out of a good olive oil and vinegar, so I stock several infused oils. Garlic, Lemon, Orange, Italian Herb infused EVOO are kitchen staples, as are several balsamic vinegars (regular, Blackberry, Raspberry, Peach White Balsamic) and a good Red wine vinegar. Today was a combo of garlic and Italian herb oils, red wine vinegar and some fresh garlic and Italian herbs. Yummy. 
Rain shortened yesterday’s lunch ride, and it appears most of the riding possibilities for the weekend. Did remember to bring a chamois to work along with some riding clothes…just forgot a sports bra. Was a tad wet for rest of afternoon. Oh well, I’ll get this riding over lunch thing nailed soon.
Off now to do some strength training. Feeling good.

Whole30 Week 1- whole lotta cooking going on

January is my first Whole30 v. 5.0. I really needed this stricter eating plan following two weeks of holiday eating and a complete derailment from anything resembling a paleo or primal diet (and the associated raging IBS, bloating, and other fun symptoms…not to mention 12 pounds of scale weight gain in two weeks. Yikes).The biggest part of this for me is not thinking of it as a diet…at least not in the weight loss sense. Part of the Whole30 program is not taking any measurements during the 30 days, no scales, no tape measures, no bodyfat monitors. Sure I took all those as a staring baseline, but the necessary equipment has been stored away until February 1. For me, this is a huge leap of faith (and making me a tad crazy).
Because so many friends, family and co-workers, think the idea of not eating grains, sugars, dairy or legumes so radical, I’m making an effort to photograph and document what I eat using my iPhone. What’s funny is no one is questioning the eating plan from a health stand point…it’s all about satiety. I mean who can possibly not eat bread or muffins or…. 
It was only a 4 day work week. I spent two of those days out of the office on biz travel, but saw a definite theme to lunch at my desk…simple protein and veggies. Tuesday was leftover steak, sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts – a duplicate of Monday’s dinner, and Friday did a quick run to the grocery for a roasted chicken breast and some fresh raw veggies.

Tuesday night I made Braised Chicken Breasts with 40 cloves Garlic, a Rachael Ray recipe, leftovers were my dinner on Thursday. To make the recipe 100% Whole 30 compliant, I used ghee instead of butter and de-glazed the pan with chicken stock rather than Marsala. Still very, very yummy, However, I do believe the Marsala adds a richness to this dish, and will use Marsala in future. My kiddo was excited to see me starting to cook the “chicken with the crunchy skin”. If you make it, brown them well, and make sure the stock/braising liquid stays below the crispy skin.

Wednesday and Thursday I was at the mercy of restaurants, hotel food, meeting catering and stashes of food I either brought or obtained while on a business trip. This reliance on what I have available is where I’ve had problems with compliance in paleo/primal eating (and when I was doing traditional calorie counting). Okay, maybe less reliance on what was available so much as a built in excuse to stray from the plan. This trip, this month, I am teaching myself that lack of compliance is neither necessary nor an option. One thing I did fail at was taking pictures…but I was 100% compliance. I am discovering that by first asking about gluten-free options, and also telling the server I am dairy intolerant gets me to a good starting point with menu options. I can edit from there. Thursday’s lunch was a Primal Pac I’d stashed in my backpack, Wednesday a working meeting lunch where I just calmly and quietly removed all the bread and cheese from the catered sandwich lunch. And I did raid the concierge lounge for some late night munchies…enjoyed after a walk around downtown Chicago.

Saturday morning…leftover steak, turned into a steak, spinach breadless “benedict”. Ever since discovering how easy it is to make fresh hollandaise, I cannot believe I used powdered mixes for so long. Honestly, fresh isn’t much more work, and so much tastier. Used ghee as the butter source, and buy the free-range, omega3 type eggs. 
Planned a stir-fry for Saturday night. I had prepped so many veggies, that this meal was repeated Saturday and Sunday nights with slightly different spices. First night was scallops and shrimp, done spicy with ginger and garlic. Second night, also spicy, but stronger curry type seasonings (hot curry powder, gram marsala, and vindaloo mixes) and added a touch of coconut milk. This time proteins were shrimp and chicken. Each family member got to make their own veggie selections, and I cooked each individually. Huge hit with Kiddo who has requested this is weekly…at minimum.
In the interest of honesty…….Food-wise I was 100% compliant to Whole30. There was one planned, and pre-decided deviation, my office’s monthly beer tasting club was Friday. Purely educational (really, I work in this biz). Limited the amount I drank past the what was needed to taste the beer, leaving most in the small tasting cups. Focused much more on aroma, color, mouthfeel. But, yes, I realize it is non-compliant. 

All and well a good first week.


A holiday tradition of mine is enjoying a standing rib roast with the immediate family on Christmas Eve. I made my first one 14 years ago. While I’ve had several significant life changes in that time, I’ve followed the same basic method each year since. If memory serves, the original recipe was from epicurious. However, I’ve long since stopped referring to a recipe and made it my own. It’s easy peasy to do, even if it does take some advance prep wok for best flavor.

The beauty of this recipe is that there are no exact portions needed. Really don’t think it’s possible to mess this one up.

Garlic/Horseradish/Rosemary Beef Rib Roast.

Standing Beef Rib roast (I typically use a 3-4 bone roast)
3-5 heads of garlic
Ground horseradish
Fresh rosemary
Extra virgin olive oil
Coarse Sea Salt& Fresh ground Pepper
Beef Broth (optional)
Meat Thermometer

This year I had a 6.5 lb, 4 rib roast. My butcher cuts the meat from the bone for ease of serving, but then ties it all back together for flavor. I’ve found the flavors of this recipe are consistently great with a regular high quality rib roast, so no longer pay the extra for a Prime Rib roast. In the future I would pay extra for grass fed/ grass finished if I could get locally. Buy the roast a day or so ahead to allow time for thepaste to infuse the flavors.

At least 24 hours ahead peel the garlic….the more the better in my mind. As with recipes calling for bacon, you can never have too much! This year I used 4 full heads and a bit of a leftover 5th head. Place them in a small oven safe dish, cover with EVOO and roast in a 300 degree oven for 25-30 minutes.

Remove and allow to cool.This year I roasted the garlic the evening of the 22nd. Stored in fridge overnight and made the paste the following day after work.

When cool pull out your food processor, dump roasted garlic and olive oil, about half a jar of horseradish (1/3 cup?), leaves from 2-3 sprigs of rosemary, and a healthy does of fresh ground pepper and pinch of sea salt. Puree into a paste.

Place roast on rack, bones down. I stab the top a few times to make pockets to push some of the puree into. Then I get my hands dirty (after washing them well of course), and rub the puree all over the top and sides of the roast. Cover loosely (I stick blunted toothpicks in to hold foil off rub paste.), and into the fridge for 12-24 hours. This year I had the paste on for the full 24 hours.

Remove from fridge 30-45 minutes prior to roasting to bring up to a room temperature and take some of the chill off. Pour beef broth into the base of the pan to catch the drippings (water works, too but broth tastier, for a final au jus or gravy)

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Place roast in 450 degree oven for 20 minutes to sear and crust the paste. If you are like me and tend to forget things, set a timer NOW. At end of 20 minutes, turn oven to 325, loosely tent the roast. Insert a thermometer into middle and roast to your desired temp. We like medium rare (Mom likes medium well, so she gets end with some extra cooking in pan). On my thermometer this is around 140 degrees.

This always takes longer than I expect. I think it was 2 1/2 hours this year. Maybe tad longer.

Allow roast to rest for 15-20 minutes. This is the prefect time to relax w/ Ketel-One-up-olives.Especially if your Mom is visiting and likes to cook down the pan drippings as an au jus or gravy (add flour or not, your choice, moving forward we’ll skip the flour, for paleo / gluten free goodness)

Slice and enjoy.

Accidental Artwork

Don’t try this at home, kiddies.

Since beginning to flirt around with the paleo/ primal lifestyle, I’ve been cooking a lot. Which I’ve discovered, I really enjoy.

One of the benefits of doing a bunch of cooking, especially cooking from whole ingredients, is that it gets me up and moving, versus sitting on the couch mindlessly watching TV ( while simultaneously surfing the web on my iPad and checking email on my iPhone – two fisted techno junkie that I am).

Recently, tho, I was taking advantage of a quiet house and soup stock simmering to curl up on the couch with Gael Greene’s “Blue Skies, No Candy”. As I read, I began to notice the smell of rosemary and other herbs toasting. At first, I thought it was the yumminess of the soup. Then it started to hit me that this soup did not contain those herbs.

I was too into the book to go check. Oh. My. Steamy. Is that why there’s now smoke in here?

Finally checked. Had set a plastic tub of small bags of herbs, juniper berries and spices on one of the burners. A burner accidentally turned to low. Bottom of box melted through, berries and spices permanently affixed to burner.

Damn electric range. I hate you. But thankfully I was home when it happened.

Herbed roast turkey breast

Last night’s Paleo/Primal goodness was one of my fav go to recipes – Rachel Ray’s Herbed Turkey Breast (without pan gravy- since I’m trying to be paleo/primal, I’ll skip that part).

Luckily we still haven’t had a hard enough freeze to make the sage and parsley in the garden unusable. Grabbed handfuls of each. Pulled out my trusty lemon zester. (there’s a story behind my love of this tool…someday I might share).

Hardest part of the recipe for me is de-boning the turkey breast. Knife skills I do not possess. Nor knowledge of butchering technique. I know you can buy boneless turkey breasts – but they usually also are skinless, and you need the skin in this recipe. I have had my local market butcher de-bone, but I like to use the carcass for broth. So I hack away.

Once deboned, the herb, onion, olive oil and lemon zest paste is tucked under the skin before roasting. A couple of bay leaves are tucked below, and a bit of bay butter drizzled on top.

45 minutes later this goodness:
The pan drippings can be reduced slightly and make an au jus (no flour, so not really a gravy). See the line of green herbs under the skin? Yummy! Sweet potatoes are a perfect side. As are brussel sprouts. 
The breasts are bigger than they appear here. One side more than feeds our family with the other for lunch leftovers. Can you say turkey, avocado and bacon lettuce roll-ups?

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