Paleo Chicken with Apricots and Fennel

chicken with apricots and fennel- paleo
The following recipe is from my friend and Paleo cook extraordinaire, Gloria Apple.  While it goes together fairly quickly, you need to allow a couple of hours for the chicken to marinade in the spices, so this will not be a dish to throw together at the end of a long work day.  But the actual hands-on time is minimal.  The combination of spices, with the saltiness of the olives, and the sweetness of raisins and apricots is sublime.  Fennel has always been one of our favorite vegetables, so this just gives us another way to work it into the menu.  We enjoyed this plain, but it would work very well served over the top of roasted spaghetti squash.

8 chicken thighs- skinless and boneless
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. paprika

1/2 cup red onion, green onion or shallots, coarsely chopped
1 fennel bulb, chopped in 1/2 inch cubes
1/3 cup green olives, chopped

2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
20 dried unsulphured apricots, coarsely chopped
Large handful of organic raisins (or dried cranberries or cherries)
Fresh coriander to taste, or ground if fresh is not available
2 cups homemade or gluten free chicken broth
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Prepare chicken ahead of time by cutting each thigh in half and combine with olive oil in large bowl.  Add combined garlic and spice mixture to chicken and toss until well coated.  Place chicken in refrigerator for two hours to develop flavors.  While the chicken is in the refrigerator, chop the onions, olives, and fennel.  When chicken is ready, heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Brown thighs on one side for about 4 minutes.  Turn chicken and add onions, olives and fennel and cook for another 5 minutes.  Add the apple cider vinegar and cook until vinegar has evaporated.  Add all the remaining ingredients.  Cover and cook until chicken is cooked--5-10 minutes.  Remove chicken and keep warm.  Simmer sauce uncovered several minutes until thickened.  Pour over chicken and serve.  Makes 4-6 servings.
Shared with: Fat Tuesday

Paleo Salmon Cake

To say I'm in a rut when it comes to my lunch time menu would be a real understatement.  A salad
salmon cake- paleo
is almost always what I eat, changed up with the type of veggies added, the protein choice and the type of dressing.  Obviously, I enjoy salads or I wouldn't continue to do this year in and year out. But today as I was contemplating what the combination would be, I decided to make something a little different.  Yes, I still had a salad on the side, but instead of putting the salmon on top of the salad, I whipped up salmon cakes.  This only took about 10 minutes, start to finish, and it made 8 cakes, so I have enough for more lunches or snacks.  I used canned wild salmon, but fresh salmon would only take a few minutes more, and would probably yield an even tastier salmon cake.

15 oz. can wild salmon, including skin and bones, drain liquid or
               1-pound wild-caught salmon, poached until done, then drain (remove bones & skin)
1 egg
1/4 cup almond flour
1/2 medium onion, grated
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. chives or scallions, finely chopped (optional)
1/2 -1 tsp. gluten free seafood seasoning (I use Old Bay)
olive oil as needed to saute

Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix thoroughly.  Shape into 8- 3 inch patties.  In a large skillet, pour about a tablespoon of olive oil over a medium high heat.  Once the skillet is hot add the salmon cakes.  Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until browned and cooked through.  Serve with fresh cut lemon or sauce of your choice.

Paleo-Almond Butter Cookies

paleo cookie made with almond butter
I haven't done much baking lately.  It's just too darn hot in Florida these days to turn on the oven any more than necessary, even with the AC going.  But, we are going to take a short trip down to Costa Rica for some dental work and a mini get away.  I always pack at least a few paleo-type snacks for our air travel.  Finding suitable food in airports is sometimes close to impossible, so just like the Girl Scout motto, I like to "Be Prepared."  This recipe is a paleo revision on a recipe that we have made for years.  I didn't add the chocolate chips on this batch, so they would travel better, but they are definitely a wonderful addition. 

1-cup natural almond butter (well-mixed & room temperature) creamy or crunchy
1 large egg
1/3 cup coconut palm sugar or honey
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. sea salt (omit if using a salted almond butter)
¼ cup non-dairy chocolate chips (optional)

Combine the egg, coconut sugar, baking soda, salt and vanilla in a small bowl.  Add this combination to the almond butter in another bowl.  Mix together and add the chocolate chips, if using.  Stir until well combined but do not over mix.  Drop by the rounded spoonful on a baking sheet covered with parchment. (A rounded tablespoon will yield 12-3-inch cookies, a rounded teaspoon (not measuring spoon) will yield 25 2-inch cookies.  Flatten the cookie with a fork.  The cookies will spread a little while baking, so be sure to give them a little room.  Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 15-18 minutes or until soft set.  They will be soft until they have cooled completely.  Using honey will create a somewhat softer cookie. 
Shared with: Fat TuesdayAllergy Free WednesdayGluten-Free WednesdaysReal Food Friday

Paleo Shrimp and Artichoke Hearts

shrimp and artichoke hearts
Since we live in Florida, shrimp is on our menu fairly frequently.  But the following recipe is one that I haven't made in a few years.  Previously, I had served this dish as a gluten free dinner.  With a couple of minor adjustments, it made a tasty paleo dinner, and it was ready in under 30 minutes.  I served it with honeyed carrots, and a tossed salad with mandarin oranges, sliced jicama and chopped walnuts.  We enjoyed it served over spaghetti squash , but it would also work well with sauteed zucchini spaghetti.

1 pound medium to large wild caught shrimp, cleaned and deveined 
1 shallot, minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. grass fed butter or ghee
2 Tbsp. olive oil or coconut oil
1 tsp. lemon zest
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
½ cup white wine
1 box frozen (defrosted) or 1 can (drained)  artichoke hearts, cut in quarters
salt and pepper to taste

Clean and devein the shrimp.  Set aside.

Prepare paleo spaghetti as desired.  I cut the squash in half, remove the seeds and microwave in a microwave safe steamer pan for 12-14 minutes.  The time required depends on the size of the squash, but check it periodically.  Overcooked squash will be mushy. Coordinate timing so the squash and shrimp will be completed at about the same time.  

Saute the shallot and garlic in the butter and olive oil in a fry pan until soft.  Add lemon zest, lemon juice and white wine to the fry pan over medium heat.  Depending on the size of the shrimp, they will take 3-4 minutes to cook.  When the shrimp is almost done add the artichoke hearts, just to heart through.  Do not overcook the shrimp.  Once shrimp is done, remove from heat. Serve immediately over paleo spaghetti of your choice.  Makes 3-4 servings.
Shared with:  Fat TuesdayGluten free & DIY TuesdayGluten-Free Wednesdays
Allergy Free WednesdaysReal Food Fridays

Mediterranean-style Pork Chops - Paleo

Even though we ate countless olives in Greece and Spain on our recent trip, we never tire of these delightful morsels.  The following recipe, inspired by our travels, was incredibly easy to put together and tasty, as well.  The leftovers were even better the following night.  I've mentioned here before how much I love leftovers, not only because of the time saving aspect, but oftentimes the dishes are improved as the flavors meld together longer.  Gently steaming the pork over the veggies creates wonderfully tender pork chops.  This combination would work well with chicken too.

4 boneless pork chops, butterflied
15 oz. can organic crushed tomatoes
1 large sweet onion, sliced
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup kalamata olives
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. capers
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. sea salt or more to taste 
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil for 5 minutes in a large fry pan, add remaining ingredients, then place pork chops over the top and cover pan with a lid. Cook over low heat for 15-20 minutes until pork is tender.  Remove lid and cook an additional 5 minutes to reduce the sauce.  Serve over sauteed zucchini spaghetti.  Makes 4 servings.
Shared with: Gluten free & DIY TuesdayFat TuesdayAllergy Free WednesdayGluten-Free WednesdaysReal Food Friday

Coconut Flax Seed Breakfast Bread

The following is an adaptation of a savory bread recipe from Laura Scaviola's blog, Mangia Paleo, Focaccia Bread.  Though we generally don't have a bread with dinner, we recently had guests from out of town, so our menu got kicked up a notch.  Laura's recipe makes a very tasty  focaccia with sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives and fresh rosemary.  We've enjoyed it a few times now, and it's always wonderful. (I did reduce the salt to 1/2 tsp. for her savory version.)

 As we ate dinner that evening and wolfed down the bread, we  began to wonder out loud how this would work as a breakfast bread.  So with a few alteration and the addition of a sweet topping, we had a healthy new breakfast item. 

1/4 cup coconut flour
2 Tbsp. flax seed meal
2 Tbsp. tapioca flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
4 pastured organic eggs
1/4 cup almond or coconut milk (not canned)
Tbsp. coconut oil (melted)
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (delete for nut free)
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries or dried cherries
1/4 cup coconut sugar
2 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Pinch of sea salt

Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl.  Place wet ingredients in a second bowl and mix well.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and mix well. Line 8X8 inch pan with parchment paper, coat sides of pan with coconut oil.  Spoon batter into pan.  In a third bowl combine the topping ingredients, and then sprinkle it over the top of the bread.  Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.  
Shared with:  Gluten free WednesdaysAllergy free Wednesdays, Real Food FridaysGluten Free & DIY TuesdayFat Tuesday,

Gluten free and Paleo in Spain

Seafood paella near the waterfront in Barceloneta

On the last leg of our whirlwind trip through four countries, England, Italy, Greece and Spain, we landed in Spain with high expectations.  Our daughter, Nicole, lived in Barcelona for a few months almost a decade ago, while doing a work study program.  She had raved about the food, so we were ready, or so we thought.  Alan speaks enough Spanish for us to get by well in Mexico and Latin America, but for some reason it just didn't work as well in Spain.  Part of the problem was identifying the foods on the menu.  For many items, we were not familiar with the English translations.  Frequently, even if the menu was available in English, the waiter did not understand English, so the ability to ask questions was limited to our knowledge of Spanish.  I had my Gluten free Spanish Passport, and used it as appropriate, and made it through the country without being glutenized, which was my primary goal.

Grilled seafood and meats, and salads are widely available.  Gluten free foods, as such, are not.  Tapas are outrageously popular in Spain, and options like olives, cheese, shrimp, and Iberian or Serrano ham were available for these snacks, but many of the tapas are served on bread, or are fried, dredged in flour or a breading. I had proudly orderly a variety of tapas one afternoon, in Spanish, to find they all came delivered to the table on small rolls.  The menu, I thought, was clear, and I had asked if they had gluten free bread available (they did not) and I proceeded to order a variety of bocadillas, turns out that in English that means sandwich.  I hadn't learned that word yet, but now I have.

Paella is a widely available menu item, and we enjoyed a tasty version in Barceloneta along the waterfront.  Everywhere I inquired, the paella was made gluten free.  Surprisingly, Gazpacho, a cold  tomato vegetable soup, always had bread in it.  Spanish tortillas, which is an egg and potato dish served hot or cold, is widely available, and most were gluten free, but some were not.  I found an incredible gluten free pistachio cake from a bakery in Barcelona, but failed to get the name of the business or another piece of cake the following day.

Our funniest experience happened in Sagunto, a beach side town south of Barcelona.  A Catalan dialect known as Valencian is the language spoken in this region.  The menus were not available in Spanish or English, and after deciding on a restaurant, none of the waiters could communicate with us either.  I was able to order dorado (mahi-mahi), since the word is the same in Spanish, but Alan was actually making animal noises to determine the type of meat he ordered.  He wound up with pork chops.

In Arcos de la Frontera,  I ordered dorado a la plancha (grilled mahi mahi), the waiter explained, in Spanish (his only language), that they didn't have any available that evening and recommended his favorite, fresh from the sea, sepia.  Once we discussed the way it was prepared, I ordered.  What arrived about 30 minutes later was a bit of a surprise.  Looking something like a clear/whitish jellyfish with tenacles, tasting it, we both decided to forgo this entree.  Yes, we've eaten octopus, calamari and squid, but somehow we just couldn't get around the looks of this fellow.  Turns out it was cuttlefish, and we had enjoyed it before, cut up and disguised in recipes, but this blob on the plate just didn't work.  Guess it's just one of the hazards of ordering food with minimal language skills.

Our final evening in Madrid, we found a restaurant advertising gluten free items on their menu.  They offered four items, one was flatbread with tomato and cheese, which I ordered and enjoyed with a glass of sangria.  We experienced a lot of tasty foods while visiting in Spain, different, and for us unusual combinations.  Yes, the gluten free was not widely available, and a bit of a challenge, but that is what the experience and fun of travel is all about.  But, it's nice to be home, and in my kitchen so I can start cooking again!