Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Perfectly Poached Eggs

My husband and I took a trip to London last January and one of the best parts of the trip was the full English breakfast. This thing is massive - 2 poached eggs, 2 sausages, 2 pieces of bacon, fried mushrooms and tomatoes, beans, toast, and of course, tea. I behaved myself and didn't "tuck in" to the beans and toast, but the feast of protein was amazing. The surprising thing for me, though, was that I loved the poached eggs.
That's the glow of someone with full English breakfast in their belly.
As a child, I had an aversion to runny yolks. My brother would get his eggs sunny-side up and actually let the yolk run all over everything else on his plate... toast, bacon, didn't matter. I'd want to throw up just watching his egg yolk bleed all over everything. My eggs had to be WELL DONE or not at all.

But going back to my full English breakfast - the eggs arrived and I saw they were poached. Adopting the old "when in Rome..." attitude, I dug in. And could not believe the velvety deliciousness of the runny egg yolk. It's like believing Santa Claus isn't real, and then discovering he actually is. It was that kind of magical. It turned my world upside down because I was sure I HATED runny yolks. I don't think I can explain how truly life-altering this is.

Well, getting back home I now had to figure out how to poach my eggs myself because I'm not a breakfast at the Waldorf everyday kind of girl. It took me a few tries to get it down but now I can make myself this classy breakfast in no time.

  • 2 eggs (the fresher, the better!)
  • Dash of apple cider vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
  • Salt, pepper, and parsley flakes, to taste
  1. Crack your eggs into a small bowl (like a custard cup or prep bowl)
  2. Set about 2 inches of water on the stove in a large non-stick skillet or stock pot over medium heat.
  3. The water should heat until large bubbles form along the bottom, but should not simmer or boil. If you can stick your finger in the water without burning yourself, it's just right. (Be careful about testing this out, though.)
  4. When the water is ready, add the splash of vinegar and stir vigorously with a slotted spoon. It creates a little vortex so when you drop in the eggs they wrap around themselves to make the little pouch. The vinegar is to help the eggs stick to themselves easier. I've tried it without and still got my eggs to adhere, but I noticed my water was extremely cloudy so it was hard to see inside. I do think the vinegar helps.
  5. Using the cup, lay the eggs into the swirling water gently, but quickly. Don't drop them into the pot or else they'll come apart. It's kind of like putting a goldfish in a tank. Nice and easy. Unless you're some kind of sadistic fish torturer.
  6. Set a timer for 5 minutes and DON'T TOUCH THE EGGS. In fact, don't even THINK about touching those eggs. Just let them sit and do their thing. Even if it looks like the yolk is having an out of body experience, I promise it will poach itself.
  7. When the timer goes off, use your slotted spoon to gently lift an egg at a time from the water. You may have to lightly detach it from the bottom of the pot, which is why it's handy to use non-stick. If you're not sure if they're done, the yolk should have a little jiggle to it and the white should be completely cooked. You can test the yolk by lightly tapping with your finger. I sometimes leave them in a minute or two longer just to have a nice blend of texture with a thicker liquid yolk. You'll figure it out over time what you like best.
  8. Arrange eggs on a plate. You could blot the egg on a tea towel if it's too watery. If any little tendrils are left hanging on the egg just slice them off to make it look neat and pretty. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and fresh cracked pepper (and parsley flakes for some visual pizazz) and enjoy!
Keep the eggs in a separate small bowl so you can gently lay them into the pot
Water is just about ready when large bubbles form all along the bottom. Remember - no boiling!

Swirl the water around with your spoon

Sorry for the poor quality, but there was a lot of movement here.

Don't touch!

Still don't touch! Even though it looks like the yolks left the pouch, they really didn't. Put on your acid washed jeans and have Faith.

BOOM! Poached eggs! Jiggly yolk = perfect

If these eggs could grow arms, they'd be giving jazz hands right now.

C'est Magnifique!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thanksgiving Round-up

It's almost time for Turkey Day!!! There's no reason to panic about the food we eat around the holidays. As you can see, there are plenty of Paleo options to serve on your table for a full and bountiful Thanksgiving!

The Thanksgiving bird usually takes center stage. It's your headliner. Your star. Your pièce de résistance. I get a juicy and flavorful bird every time by this fail-proof citrus-herb stuffing method. Here is my recipe using a chicken, but just adjust accordingly for the size of your bird.

So if the turkey is the star, then the side dishes are the back-up dancers. Let's call them, the Fall Favorites. Try any combination of these dishes for a balanced and colorful table.

Acorn Squash Halves
Autumn Salad
Caramelized Brussel Sprouts
Orange Vegetable Mash
Roasted String Beans with Cherry Tomatoes and Shallots
Sauteed Cremini Mushrooms with Lemon, Capers, and Garlic
Stuffed Artichokes

By the time you finish all this, who the heck has room for dessert? Instead of stuffing yourself full of almond or coconut flour dessert knock-offs, try serving some fresh fruit instead. Like these Dairy-Free Berry Parfaits. Instead of the almond flour cream cheese, whip up some fresh coconut cream for a light and delicious treat you won't feel guilty about later!

Wishing you and your family a very happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Stuffed Artichokes

It probably sounds weird, but artichokes remind me of the holidays. My mom or grandma would stuff a batch and serve them with our Thanksgiving turkey or Christmas feast and I always looked forward to it. I didn't realize until I was much older that most families don't cook up a batch of stuffed artichokes for their celebrations. My husband had never eaten one until he came to one of our holiday events. Really. So if you are an artichoke novice, fear not. They are delicious and a cinch to prepare.

The edible part of the artichoke is disproportionate to its actual size. There's a teensy bit of meat on the bottom of every leaf you pull off, which we all toil away to scrape off with our teeth. Then once all the leaves are peeled away you get down to that succulent treasure trove at the bottom - the heart. There are these little fiber-y hairs encasing the top of the heart which pull off easy. Then it's go time. It's your reward for making it to the end of the journey. And what a pleasant journey it was.

The classic recipe uses breadcrumbs and even some Parmesan cheese. By swapping breadcrumbs with a deliciously seasoned almond meal you go from a carb-loaded dish to one with more protein. Artichokes by themselves are an antioxidant superfood and rank among the highest for total antioxidant capacity. So why ruin it with all those irritating gluten-y breadcrumbs? Need I give you another reason to eat a darn artichoke?

Note, you'll need 2 cups seasoned almond flour (see post: Italian Seasoned "Bread" Crumbs, or the below recipe).

  • 2 cups almond flour/meal
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until thoroughly combined.


  • 4 large artichokes, trimmed
  • lemon juice (optional)
  • 2 cups Italian seasoned "bread" crumbs (see recipe)
  • 8 cloves garlic, smashed with the flat of your blade and minced
  • 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • boiling water
  1. Prepare your artichokes. Cut off the stems so they will stand upright. Slice off the top third of the artichokes and pull off some of the tough outermost leaves. Trim off the pointed tips of the remaining leaves with kitchen shears. Turn the artichoke cutside-down, and with a firm grip on the base, bang the artichoke against your cutting board to open the leaves. Rub cut parts with a little lemon juice, if desired, to keep from turning brown. Use your thumbs to open the leaves the rest of the way to make room for stuffing and set aside.
  2. Heat oven to 425° F and set a small stock pot of water to boil. 
  3. In a large bowl, combine bread crumbs and garlic. Stuff one artichoke at a time by scooping out 1/2 cup of stuffing, placing the artichoke in the bottom of the bowl and sprinkling with the 1/2 cup of stuffing. Use your fingers to work the stuffing in between the leaves. You may not have to use the entire 1/2 cup for each artichoke because the size of your 'chokes may vary. Just ensure you get a bit of the stuffing between each of the outer leaves and in the top.
  4. Transfer stuffed artichoke to a baking dish. Continue until all artichokes are stuffed and placed in the baking dish. 
  5. Drizzle each artichoke with 1 Tbsp oil. Pour in boiling water from the stock pot to fill the dish about an inch high. Cover securely with aluminum foil and bake about 45 minutes. Check for tenderness by sliding a knife easily through the base of the artichokes. Once tender, uncover and broil for about 3 more minutes, or until the artichokes turn golden brown. Serve warm.

Cut off the stems to create a nice flat base and pull off some of the tougher outer leaves.

Trim off the top of the 'choke (about a third of the way down)

Snip off the pointed tips from each leaf

Knock your 'choke against a hard surface to get it to open up

Use your fingers to separate the rest of the way

If you don't already have your "bread" crumbs, mix up 2 cups' worth

Pour about a 1/2 cup crumbs over each artichoke and use your fingers to work it into the leaves

Drizzle each with 1 Tbsp olive oil

Almost ready to go!

Don't forget to add about 1" of boiling water to the pan

Cover tightly with foil and bake about 45 min

After a quick broil, them 'chokes is done!

Mmmm... artichokes


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Italian Seasoned "Bread" Crumbs (aka almond flour)

It's no secret that almond flour/meal is our substitute for bread crumbs in most all recipes. Before Paleo, I always purchased the big tub of Italian style breadcrumbs and used it for everything from chicken cutlets to stuffed mushrooms. It's actually very easy to spice up your almond flour to be a very close substitute. The below recipe will yield one cup of seasoned almond flour and you can double, triple, quadruple to your heart's desire. I typically use the almond meal from Trader Joe's. It's cost effective and they don't blanch the almonds which gives the meal more of the look of breadcrumbs and helps trick the mind even more.

You might want to get started making a batch of these now. Or two. I'm not saying my next post could include these as a main ingredient... but I'm not not saying it either.

  • 1 cup almond flour/meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl with a mini-whisk or fork until thoroughly combined. Use immediately or store in an airtight container.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing (or any fruit flavor!)

Before I launch into my tirade of how much I love this dressing, I first have to say SORRY for taking so long to post. THREE MONTHS! Well, as you know we bought our first home and moved in late July. It took a while to get unpacked and we're still not completely there, but I finally have a kitchen with WINDOWS. droooooooool

The kitchen itself is in dire need of updating. The cabinets are original from the 1950s and falling apart. Literally. I opened the cutlery drawer the other night and the drawer face came away with no drawer attached to it. But we're making do until at least the end of the year. After the holidays we'll start talking budget and updating. But, without further ado, let's get on with this recipe.

I love vinaigrette dressing for salad but can't really find any store-bought dressing without a bunch of gunk in it. I used to get the Italian salad dressing mix in a pouch that comes with its own cruet. After I converted to Paleo I just drizzled oil and vinegar on every salad I ate. That lack of variety can sometimes get boring which is why I started experimenting with making my own dressings. I don't think I'm reinventing any wheels here, but my goal was to be able to come up with a delicious dressing alternative with ingredients that are readily available at almost any time in any kitchen. This recipe is the bare bones basic and can be dressed up further in any number of ways. The secret is the fruit spread.

Jams and jellies are pretty much verboten when it comes to Paleo because of all the added junk they put in there. I have found a few brands that make fruit spreads sweetened with fruit juice instead (apple or grape) and without adding all the processed junk. I like to stock up on all varieties of these spreads every year when I go apple picking in upstate NY, but recently I found my local Trader Joe's is now selling their own natural organic (and Paleo-friendly) preserves. YAY! If you're really stuck, you can order these Fiordifrutta preserves online through Amazon (I recommend you buy in bulk, though, or get killed with shipping).

Fresh from the orchard...

Fresh from, umm, the store...



  • 1 Tbsp fruit spread of your choice (fig, raspberry, strawberry, etc)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar (I used white balsamic, but regular balsamic is fine)
  • 3/4 tsp course grain kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper
  1. Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl until combined.
  2. Dressing is ready to serve immediately!
  3. Store extra in the refrigerator in an airtight container. The olive oil will congeal a bit when cold, so let the dressing sit out a few minutes to "melt" again prior to serving.
Try serving over Autumn Salad!

Wanna dress this baby up? Try adding some herbs to the mix. Dried oregano or fresh torn mint leaves will take your dressing TO THE MAX!
mixing up the fig balsamic dressing...

mixing up the raspberry balsamic dressing

Mmmm... figgy

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sauteed Cremini Mushrooms with Lemon, Capers, and Garlic

It wasn't until I became an adult that I really started to appreciate mushrooms. As a kid, I would pick them out of whatever meal they were in and isolate them from the rest of my food. My favorite mushrooms nowadays are portobellos (big mushrooms) and baby bellas (smaller relation of the portobello aka cremini or crimini). I've grilled them, broiled them, stuffed them, mixed them in chili and marinara, but not really given them a good saute. I was in an experimenting type of mood and came up with a delicious new way to showcase these bite-sized little fungi.

  • 16oz whole cremini mushrooms, wiped clean with damp paper towels
  • 1 Tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 1 Tbsp clarified butter (can substitute with another Tbsp of grapeseed oil)
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 2 Tbsp capers, drained
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • Fresh ground pepper, to taste
  1. Slice the mushrooms in half lengthwise through the stem and cap (any larger mushrooms should be cut in quarters) 
  2. Heat the grapeseed oil and butter on the stove in a pan over medium-high heat until the butter begins to froth.
  3. Add the mushrooms to the pan and saute 5+ minutes until just soft.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients to the pan and saute a few minutes more until flavors combine and mushrooms are fork-tender.
When cleaning my 'shrooms with paper towels, most of that dark skin came off revealing the delicate white meat underneath.

2Tbsp probably feels like a lot of oil/butter, but these little sponges will soak it up.

Prepping my capers and fresh lemon juice.

Adding the rest of the ingredients to the pan.
Ready to enjoy!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Pan-Fried Pork Chops

One of the simplest recipes in my repertoire are these delicious, pan-fried pork chops. They're perfect for a quick weeknight meal because they only take minutes to prepare. My favorite part is the flavorful juice that comes seeping out as they cool on a plate fresh from the pan. I like to cut my meat into small pieces and sop those extra juices up with each bite.

Mmmm... juicy
  • 4 boneless center cut pork chops 
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper
  • Smoked paprika (aka bacon spice!)
  • Coconut oil
  1. Season both sides of the pork chops with garlic powder, salt, pepper, and smoked paprika - all to taste.
  2. Heat a tablespoon or two of coconut oil in a pan over high heat (not the highest, but up there).
  3. Fry the chops a few minutes on each side, until only slightly pink or just white when cut open. The outside will get brown and caramelized which is where the delicious flavor comes from, but cooking too long will dry the chops out.
  4. Let sit at least 5 minutes on a plate before serving so those tasty juices can come seeping out. Drizzle any leftover juices on top when serving.
Love that smoked paprika!

Mmmm... caramelized

Juices starting to seep out... the best part!