Christmas Eve Dinner

I can’t believe Christmas is in less than one week! I feel like I’m in pretty good shape-cards are done, tree’s done, shopping’s done and most of the wrapping is done. Now, all that’s left is for the kids to come home and the cooking to begin! In our household, Christmas Eve is the big dinner. Each year I play with the sides and dessert, but the main course is always a beef tenderloin fillet. We’ll be having 12 people for dinner this year, with a variety of eating preferences from Paleo to vegetarian. So to accommodate everyone, there will be some decidedly non-Paleo compliant offerings. This year’s menu is:


Sweet Potato Chips with Duck Confit and Cranberry Black Pepper Chutney

Spiced Nuts

Assorted Cheeses

Main Event:

Beef Tenderloin with Horseradish Cream Sauce

Sauteed Mushrooms and Onions

Roasted Vegetable Medley


Green Salad


Purple Velvet Torte

Berries with Whipped Cream

Assorted Cookies


I don’t have any pictures yet (obviously), but here are some of the recipes I’ll be making.

Sweet Potato Chips with Duck Confit and Cranberry Black Pepper Chutney

This recipe came from a 2002 issue of Gourment Magazine. You could make your own sweet potato chips (the fancy French word is “gaufrettes”), but I just buy Terra brand chips. Yes, they’re made with canola or safflower oil, but I don’t have the time or inclination to deep-fry anything on Christmas Eve.


1 Bag Terra Sweet Potato Chips

1 Duck confit leg, skin and bone discarded and meat finely shredded (I buy mine directly from D’

Cranberry black pepper chutney (recipe follows)

Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium heat until hot, cook duck, stirring until any excess fat is melted and edges are slightly crisp, about 2 minutes.

Top each chip with some duck and a scant ½ teaspoon of chutney.

These can be assembled up to half an hour before serving and held at room temperature.

Cranberry Black Pepper Chutney


1/3 cup finely chopped shallots

1 Tbl unsalted butter

6oz fresh or frozen cranberries (not thawed)

½ cup agave nectar

1/3 cup water

1 Tbl cider vinegar

¾ tsp cracked black pepper

¼ tsp salt

Cook shallots in butter in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, 3-5 minutes. Stir in remain ingredients and simmer, uncovered, stirring  occasionally, until berries have burst and chutney in thickened, about 20 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

The chutney can be made up to one week in advance and stored covered in the refrigerator.

Beef Tenderloin with Horseradish Cream

This recipe is based on one from the White Dog Café Cookbook. The White Dog Café is a wonderful restaurant in Philadelphia. The White Dog has been using local, organic ingredients for years in some fabulous multicultural dishes. If you’re ever in Phillie be sure to check the place out.



½ cup Dijon mustard

½ cup dry red wine

2 Tbl chopped fresh rosemary

1 Tbl minced garlic

¼ cup minced shallots

½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup olive oil

1 center cut beef tenderloin (about 2 lbs)

Horseradish Cream

1 cup full fat sour cream

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

¼ cup grated fresh horseradish

¼ tsp Tabasco, or to taste

¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

¾ tsp sea salt

  1. Combine the mustard, wine, rosemary, garlic, shallots, pepper and olive oil in a bowl, whisk together. Place the beef in a shallow baking pan and rub with the marinade to coat thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or up to overnight. (I recommend overnight)
  2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees
  3. Whisk together the sour cream, Worcestershire, horseradish, Tabasco, pepper and salt in a small bowl. Cover and chill. (The sauce can be made up to 3 days in advance)
  4. Place the beef on a rack set in a roasting pan. Roast in the middle of the oven until medium rare, 35-40 minutes. An instant read thermometer should read 135 when inserted I n the middle of the roast. Let rest for 10-15 minutes, covered with foil.
  5. Thinly slice the beef across the grain. Serve with the horseradish cream.

Sauteed Mushrooms and Onions


2lbs mixed mushrooms (button, shiitake, porcini, cremini, etc)

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 cup onion, thinly sliced

4 Tbl unsalted butter

2 tsp kosher salt

½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbl chopped garlic

1 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

  1. Bruch the caps of each mushroom with a clean sponge. Remove and discard the stems. Thickly slice the mushrooms.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large pan. Add the onions and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes. Add the butter, mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook over medium heat for about 8 minutes, until they’re tender and begin to release their juices, stirring often. Stir in the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Toss in the parsley, sprinkle with salt and serve warm.

Purple Velvet Torte

My challenge for a Paleo friendly dessert was to find something that didn’t contain nuts or coconut, since a couple of my guests have allergies. to the resue! This recipe is delicious and your guests will never guess the secret ingredient.


2 ½ cups grated beets

1 cup agave nectar

4 eggs

½ cup grapeseed oil

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon almond extract

½ cup cocoa powder

½ teaspoon sea salt

1. In a medium saucepan, heat the beets and agave to a boil, then cover

2. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, until beets are soft

3. Transfer beet-agave mixture to a blender and puree on highes speed until smooth

4. Blend in eggs, oil, vanilla, almond extract, cacao and salt until thoroughly incorporated

5. Pour batter into a well greased 9 inch cake pan

6. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean

Cool and serve


I’ll do my best to remember to take pictures, so I can update the post. No guarantees though, a couple of glasses of wine and all bets are off!


Merry Christmas to all! May all your celebrations be filled with joy and love!

What’s “Not” Teriyaki Sauce

Nomnompaleo posted this the other day on Facebook:

I’m good with most of the “What’s Hot” entries, but I take exception to teriyaki making the ‘What’s Not” list!. I love teriyaki sauce-it’s easy to make, everybody likes it and it can be used on just about anything (fish, chicken, beef, pork, veggies, etc). Come to think of it, I also take exception to kabobs being on the list-I especially like teriyaki kabobs. How not with it am I?

I’ve been making my own teriyaki since 1981 (ouch). One of my housemates when I lived in Lake Tahoe shared his recipe with me. I have no idea where the recipe originated, all I know is that it’s delicious.

Teriyaki Sauce

1/4 cup tamari or coconut aminos

1 Tbs raw honey

1 inch piece fresh ginger

1 Tbs sesame oil

3 Tbs white wine or saki

2 cloves garlic

1/2 tsp dry mustard

I slice up the ginger and garlic then put all of the ingredients into my Magic Bullet. Give it  a good whir and you’re done. If you don’t have a Magic Bullet, just finely mince the ginger and garlic and stir everything together.

Pour over whatever you decide you want for dinner and let marinate for at least an hour, then bake, broil, or grill.


Teriyaki Salmon and roasted veggies-yum!

Turkey Almond Mole

Wow, it’s only 5 days until Thanksgiving! Somehow every year the holiday seems to sneak up on me. I have a bazillion reasons to be thankful, but one trumps them all this year; my son is back from his deployment to Afghanistan!!!!!!!! Ron and I went to greet him on his return to Colorado Springs. I am one proud and happy momma!

He and all of his men returned safe and sound from a 9 month deployment. However you may feel about the war, please thank any service men and women you see while out and about this holiday season. They and their families sacrifice a lot to keep us safe and protect our freedoms.

I’m also amazed and thankful that our house on the Jersey Shore survived Sandy’s wrath. Our 100 year old house is still standing tall (minus a few roof shingles).  Thankfully, all of our family in the east is also safe and sound following the storm. We’re heading to Jersey on Monday to celebrate Thanksgiving so I’ll get to see the devastation of my old stomping grounds first hand.

Since we’re traveling for the holiday, I won’t be cooking a turkey, but I thought I’d share this recipe which provides a great way to use up any leftover turkey you may have. This is equally good with cooked chicken. I like my food with some heat, so I used a whole chipotle. If you like less heat, use only  half a chile. I found this recipe years ago in Cooking Light Magazine. A few changes and it’s now perfectly paleo.


1 teaspoon coconut oil

2 dried Anaheim Chiles, stemmed, seeded and torn into pieces

1 cup chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, sliced

1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce

1 14oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes

2 teaspoons raw honey

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 cup almond flour

1 14oz can organic vegetable broth

1/2 cup raw almond butter

1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar

3 cups cooked turkey, chopped

Chopped cilantro for garnish

Heat oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add Anaheim chiles, sauté 1 minute. Add onion and garlic, sauté about 4 minutes or until onion is lightly browned.

Add the chipotle chili, tomatoes, honey, cumin, salt, cloves, almond flour, and vegetable broth to the onion mixture. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Carefully spoon mixture into a food processor, process until smooth. Return mixture to pan, stir in almond butter and vinegar, cook 1 minute. Stir in turkey. Continue to cook until turkey is heated through.

Serve over cauliflower “rice” and garnish with cilantro.


Carbs Are Killing You

The first book I read which really got me motivated to remove grains from my diet was Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. It’s not a diet book, per se, but rather follows the history and scientific evidence behind what has been fueling our current obesity epidemic. Mr Taubes does a great job explaining the biochemisty of our metabolic processes. The following poster is based on that science. So if you need a refresher on why you’ve given up grains and refined carbs, or you never really understood why eating a paleo diet works, or you need an easy way to explain your diet choices to friends and family who think you’ve gone off the deep end, check out this poster:


Pumpkin Soup

It’s pumpkin season! Jack-O-Lanterns, pies, bread, muffins and this delicious soup are my favorite ways to celebrate this wonderful squash. Did you know that the largest pumpkin ever grown weighed 1,140 lbs?!  That could make a whole lotta pie.

I love the combination of flavors in this soup, both sweet and savory. The soup is delicious on it’s own, but it’s even better with the spice swirl.


2 cups chopped onions

2 Tbsp olive oil

½ cup peeled and sliced carrots

½ cup peeled and sliced parsnips

1 ½ tsp salt

3 cups water , vegetable or chicken stock

1 ¼ cups unsweetened apple juice

3 Tbsp  tomato paste

1 tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground nutmeg

½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp paprika

1 15oz can pumpkin

Spice Swirl

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp minced garlic

4 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp caraway seeds

¼ tsp cayenne

2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

2 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro

pinch sea salt

In a soup pot, sauté the onions in the oil until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the carrots, parsnips and salt; continue to sauté for 5 more minutes. Add the water or stock, apple juice, tomato paste, cumin, nutmeg, cinnamon and paprika. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the veggies are tender. Stir in the pumpkin. Using a blender or immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. Gently reheat if necessary.

To make the spice swirl, heat the oil in a small skillet. Saute the garlic for about 2 minutes. Add the coriander, caraway seeds and cayenne to the skillet. Stir constantly and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl. Stir in the lemon juice, cilantro and salt.

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and top each with some spice swirl.


Sweet Potato Bars

This past weekend I ran The Other Half in Moab, Utah. It’s a gorgeous (except for the uphills into the wind) course along the Colorado River. I can’t say I ran fast, but I crossed the finish line! For me, a large part of having a successful race is having my nutrition right. Since we were staying in a hotel the night before the race I planned ahead and brought my breakfast with me. Two hard-boiled eggs and two of these yummy sweet potato bars powered me through the race. I discovered the recipe for these bars on another paleo blog, The first time, I followed the recipe as written, without the optional dates and chocolate topping. The bars were delicious, but I decided to add some nuts and dried cranberries to make the texture a bit more interesting. One of my favorite things about this recipe is that there is no added sweetener. If you want a sweeter version, I would suggest adding in some chopped dates or some dark chocolate chips.


1 cup sifted coconut flour

1/4 cup flax meal

2 Tbsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 15oz can sweet potato puree

4 eggs

3/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce

1/2 cup full fat coconut milk

1 Tsp vanilla extract

1 cup pecans, chopped

1 cup dried cranberries, unsweetened or sweetened with apple juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine coconut flour, flax meal, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a large bowl, whisk to combine

Combine sweet potato puree, eggs, coconut oil, applesauce, coconut milk and vanilla in the bowl of a food processor. Process until light and airy.

Add the sweet potato mixture to the dry ingredients. Stir to thoroughly combine. Stir in nuts and cranberries. The batter will be very thick.

Spoon the batter into a 9x13in baking dish that’s been greased with coconut oil. Spread the batter into an even layer.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the top is lightly browned. The toothpick test doesn’t work on these bars because the batter is so thick.

Cool for 15 to 30 minutes before cutting.

I like to store these in the refrigerator so they stay nice and firm.



My friend Lis and I at the finish. What a great weekend!

Duck Fried “Rice”


The other day I was watching Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on The Food Network. I’m not sure why, but I love watching that show even though most of the food is not even remotely paleo friendly.  Anyway, in this episode the chef was making a delicious looking Duck Fried Rice. I was inspired to make a version using cauliflower instead of rice. It smelled wonderful while it was cooking and tasted even better. An added bonus was that all the cooking was done in one pan, so clean-up was a snap. Enjoy!


1 head of cauliflower

3 Duck confit legs and thighs

¾ cup finely chopped onion

1 shredded large carrot

2 eggs, lightly beaten

4 scallions, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon finely minced ginger

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

3 Tablespoons plus ½ teaspoon tamari or coconut aminos

1 Tablespoon plus ½ teaspoon sesame oil

Coconut oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 Tablespoons minced cilantro

1 Tablespoon Sesame Seeds

Cut your head of cauliflower into flowerets. Place the flowerets in the bowl of your food processor fitted with a chopping blade. Pulse 10 to 15 times, or until the cauliflower looks like rice. If you have a smaller food processor or a particularly large head of cauliflower you may need to do this in more than one batch. If you process it too much you’ll wind up with cauliflower mush, not what we want for this recipe, so be sure to use single pulses. This is what you want the cauliflower to look like:

Remove the duck meat from the bones and shred to bite size pieces. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the duck until it’s nicely browned and crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove the duck from the pan and set aside. (Try not to nibble on to much of it)

Add ½ teaspoon of tamari and ½ teaspoon of sesame oil to the eggs. Beat together lightly. Add 1 teaspoon of coconut oil to the same pan which you cooked the duck in. Once the oil is hot, pour in the eggs. Once the eggs puff up, flip them over and cook briefly on the other side. Remove from the skillet and chop into small pieces.

Add about another tablespoon of coconut oil to the skillet. Add the chopped onions to the skillet and cook until they’re softened and starting to brown, about 7 minutes. If the pan looks dry, add some additional coconut oil (about ½ tablespoon should do) Add the ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes, carrot and cauliflower to the pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Saute until the cauliflower is tender, 5 to 10 minutes.

Stir in the scallions, remaining tamari and sesame oil. Add the reserved duck and eggs to the pan. Stir it all together for 1 to 2 minutes until heated through.

Garnish with cilantro and sesame seeds and dig in!



Paleo Granola

This post is for all my friends at Velocity Park City who just started their Paleo Challenge! Hopefully the granola will help satisfy your “crunchy” cravings.


2 cups raw almonds

1 cup sunflower seed, unsalted and hulled

1 cup raw pumpkin seeds

1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

¼ cup coconut oil, melted

¼ cup raw honey, warmed up if necessary to make it easier to mix

¼ tsp salt

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp ground cinnamon

¾ tsp ground nutmeg

4 Tbs ground flax seed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and coconut flakes in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the mixture is coarse with a few chunks. Place mixture into a large bowl and mix in remaining ingredients.

Place mixture on a large baking sheet and flatten to about ½ inch thick.

Bake for 20 minutes. Take out of oven and stir. Place back in oven and bake until golden brown throughout, about 10 minutes. Let cool.

Fish with Olives, Pine Nuts, Basil and Wine

It’s fresh halibut season-woohoo! Halibut is one of my favorite fish and it’s even more amazing when you can get it fresh. If halibut is unavailable you can use any firm white fish, such as snapper, grouper, sea bass or rock cod in this dish. This recipe is from the Williams-Sonama website.


¼ cup pine nuts

4 halibut fillets, 6-7 ounces each

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

4 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup dry white wine

1 ½ Tbs finely mince garlic

5 Tbs fresh basil leaves, shredded

½ cup Mediterranean style green and/or black olives, pitted

Preheat oven to 350°

Spread the pine nuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until they take on color and are fragrant, 5-8 minutes.

Remove from the oven and set aside. Increase the oven temperature to 400°.

Season the fish fillets with salt and pepper. Place in a baking dish in which they fit in a single layer. In a small bowl, stir together the olive oil and wine, pour over the fish. Top the fish with the garlic and basil and then distribute the olives around the fillets. Cover with aluminum foil.

Bake until the fish is opaque throughout when pierced with a knife, 15-20 minutes. The timing will depend on the thickness of the fillets. Using a slotted spoon transfer the fish to warmed plates. Spoon the juices and olives from the baking pan over the fish and sprinkle the pine nuts on top.


Sauteed Asparagus with Shallots

I usually grill or broil asparagus, but I decided to mix it up a bit tonight by sautéing it with some butter and sliced shallots. A super easy preparation, but it looked and tasted great and made a great side dish to Roasted Sarandeado-Style Whole Snapper.

1 lb asparagus, thinly sliced on the bias

1 large shallot, thinly sliced

1 Tbl butter

Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the sliced shallot and cook for one minute. Add the asparagus and cook, stirring often for about 5 minutes, or until the asparagus is crisp tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.