Cooking the Books: Paleo Comfort Foods

I had an idea a few weeks ago: Let’s use our cookbooks more by picking one to cook a meal from each week. Here is my original Facebook post:

Ground rules for the challenge:

  1. It has to be a recipe you haven’t cooked before.
  2. It has to be something out of the norm for you. It can’t be just another roasted squash recipe if you make roasted squash all the time.
  3. Aim for full meals: If it isn’t a one-pot meal, pick an entree and a side from the same book.
  4. I’m calling it Cooking the Books

The first book I grabbed was Paleo Comfort Foods by Julie and Charles Mayfield. We’re in the middle of the Whole30 right now, so it made sense to use that book now. We’ve definitely cooked from it before. I use their Paleo Mayonnaise as my regular go-to homemade mayo recipe. In fact, I think this might be the first cookbook I bought for myself back in 2010.

According to Ground Rule #1, I have to pick a recipe I haven’t tried. I chose Country Captain Chicken. It looked great, we had most of the ingredients on-hand, and it was a one-pot meal. Perfect for a busy week and easy to reheat for lunches.


In this series I’m not going to publish the recipe unless the authors have posted it elsewhere online. That isn’t fair to the authors. I will, however, post the ingredients without measurements or instructions, because I think this strikes a good balance of seeing what is in it and getting a sense of the tastes while still being fair to the authors and their work. Hopefully these posts will drive a small number of sales their way, too.

  • green peppers
  • chicken
  • curry powder
  • onions
  • tomatoes
  • almond flour
  • currants
  • toasted almonds
  • thyme


The recipe turned out great! The black currants gave it a bit of a sweet tanginess that I enjoyed. Though it would have been better had I remembered to put the curry powder in with the vegetables 🤦‍♂️. The breading was surprisingly good for being almond meal. Almost made me forget it wasn’t real breading. We made it with 6 chicken breasts, so we had plenty of leftovers.

I’d definitely make this again.

Join me!

If you want to join me in the Cooking the Books challenge, send your posts to! I’ll guest post them here on Cook Like Chuck. Here are some guidelines:

  • Send me a decent photo of the book to use as the featured image
  • Send me photos of the meal you cooked
  • Write a little bit about the book, why you chose it, and how the meal turned out
  • Send me a photo of the recipe

Let’s dust off those cookbooks and put them to use this year.

What I’m Doing With My CSA Shares: Week 7

Here’s how I’m using this week’s share:

  • Green curly lettuce – We’ll turn this into salad.
  • Napa cabbage – I’ll probably combine this with the carrots, some chicken, cilantro, jalapeños, scallions, and some fresh mint to make a Goi Ga – a Vietnamese chicken salad.
  • Swiss Chard – I’ll combine this with some Lacinato kale from our garden and sauté it with some garlic, onions, and bacon to make a dinner side dish.
  • Carrots – See above.
  • Green beans – We’ll probably blanch these and sauté them in ghee with garlic, salt, and pepper.
  • Jalapeños – See above.
  • Zucchini – We’ll probably roast these. Half of last week’s ended up on beef kabobs for a picnic and the other half got roasted.
  • Cucumbers – These will probably be snacks, though I might make a spicy and vinegary cucumber salad for a dinner side.
  • Green peppers – These will end up in salads, most likely.

What I’m Doing With My CSA Shares: Week 5

We are on the Whole 30 again this month, so we are limiting our use of these veggies a little bit. I added some non-Whole 30 options so that you don’t have to suffer with us.

  • Green Leaf Lettuce – Once again, this is getting turned into salad for lunches and a dinner side. 2 heads should last us all week.
  • Cucumbers – These will get chopped up for salads and turned into spears for snacks. If you are having dairy, I suggest slicing these and making a salad with sour cream, dill, and onions.
  • Carrots – We’ll shred a few for salads and then probably roast the rest. I might grab one for an afternoon snack. If we weren’t on the Whole 30, I’d use the tops to make some pesto and eat it with burrata cheese.
  • Zucchini – We turned a few of these into zucchini noodles with a spiral attachment for our Kitchenaid mixer and making a quick cherry tomato sauce with basil and chicken sausage. We’ll slice up the rest and roast it in the oven with some spices as a side dish. 
  • Basil – We cut half of this into a chiffonade and put it in the zucchini noodles with the cherry tomato sauce. We’ll use the rest for pesto or adding to a fresh vegetable salad. We are on the Whole 30 again this month, so we’re foregoing putting this on homemade pizza or caprese salad.
  • Scallions – We’ll include the scallions in salads, in breakfast bowls, or in carnitas bowls.

Whole 30 Cauliflower Mash with Garlic and Rosemary

One thing you need to learn to do when you embark on a Whole 30 is make all kinds of new sides so that you get enough vegetables in your diet. We’ve found that cauliflower is super versatile and takes on the flavor of things you add to it. This makes it a great candidate to turn into a mash.

This doesn’t mean you are trying to mimic mashed potatoes. These don’t taste like mashed potatoes, but this a great side dish that stands on its own.

Whole 30 Cauliflower Mash with Garlic and Rosemary

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of rosemary (both dried and fresh work)
  • Salt and pepper to taste (I use about 1 teaspoon of each for a large head of cauliflower)
  • 1 tablespoon of ghee
  1. Get your vegetable steamer going in a large stock pot with water that comes just up to the bottom of the steamer. Turn the burner on high.
  2. While the water is heating up, quickly wash the cauliflower and cut it into florets. Chop up the stem, too.
  3. Peel the cloves of garlic.
  4. Put the cauliflower and garlic in the pot with the vegetable steamer. Steam for 10-15 minutes. They are done when tender enough to put a fork through with minimal effort.
  5. When fully steamed, move the cauliflower florets and garlic cloves into the food processor. Take 1/4 cup of the steaming liquid and put it in the food processor, too. Add in the rosemary, salt, pepper, and ghee.
  6. Process until it reaches the consistency you like. I leave it in until it is pureed (usually 2-3 minutes).
  7. Alternatively, if you don’t have a food processor, steps 5 and 6 can be done with a potato masher and a bowl or a hand blender.

If you aren’t on the Whole 30, you can add butter and sour cream to make these even creamier. For folks on the Whole 30, stick to the recipe above. Amanda and I eat it even when we aren’t on the Whole 30 because it is delicious.

cauliflower_mash - 5

Sickie Soup

Chuck’s note: This is a guest post by my wife, Amanda. She normally blogs at, but today she is posting here! When I get sick, this is what she makes for me. It’ll have you back on your feet in no time.

I’m really lucky that Chuck likes to cook —and that he’s good at it—because I absolutely hate cooking. I much prefer the exactness of baking because I know what I’m going to get every single time. Sure, I could use a recipe to cook, but why bother? I’m married to #CookLikeChuck.

That said, Chuck isn’t infallible. On occasion, he does get sick and, because I love my husband more than I hate cooking, I whip out the one recipe I know by heart, the one recipe I know will turn out every single time: Sickie Soup.

  • Chop a medium-sized onion and 3 stalks of celery.
  • Place them in a pot with a little olive oil and 2 cloves of pressed garlic on medium-low heat.

  • Chop 3-4 carrots, 2-3 leeks, and 1 decently-sized potato.
  • Add them to the pot with 2 boxes of chicken stock, salt, and pepper.
  • Turn the heat up to medium.

I like to add these veggies first because they take the longest to cook.


  • Chop and add a small head of cabbage.
  • Add a large diced tomato, a handful of fresh green beans, and about a cup of corn.

Let everything simmer for 30-45 minutes, or until the veggies are no longer crunchy. Stir occasionally.

If you’re like Chuck, add a squirt of hot sauce to clear out your sinuses.


Whole 30 Week 4 Recap

We completed the Whole 30 on March 2. I’m writing this review a few weeks late because: 1) I was traveling that week and the following week. 2) I hit the ground running at my new job as CTO at Praxis.

Here is how the final week went:

Successes this week

  • The final week was fairly easy. We were in the groove from the previous three weeks and we stayed on track pretty easily, despite lots of temptations around us.
  • I visited my family in Ohio for a few days before my birthday and they were very flexible and helped me find things I could eat. One day they had people over to have burgers, so I ate mine on lettuce without a bun. My aunt brought over a plate of roasted veggies, which was delicious.
  • My grandma made me a “Whole 30 birthday cake” that was really an apple with a candle in it, garnished with blackberries and raspberries with almonds stuck in them.
  • I introduced my parents to cauliflower fried rice. It was a beautiful 70F day, so I cooked it in a wok out on their porch.
  • I made two dishes that I think will be regulars in our house now: Breakfast bowls and a veggie & protein bowl. Recipes forthcoming.
  • Amanda and I found another Paleo restaurant in NYC: Springbone. (The other one we already knew about is Hu Kitchen.)

whole_30_week_4 - 6

Difficulties this week

  • I traveled for most of the final week, which meant that I had to eat out A LOT. Staying compliant required a lot of extra work and planning ahead.
    • Amanda packed me some fruit and meat snacks for my road trip.
    • I drove out of my way on 80/90 in PA to find a Jimmy John’s and have a lettuce wrap.
    • I hit up Chipotle at least three times. No beans, no rice, double meat, fajita veggies, add guac.
    • I scouted out places at each airport where I could find compliant meals. Plum Market in the Detroit airport was the best: I got a huge plate of carnitas, roasted broccoli, and roasted cauliflower.
    • I kept cashews in my backpack. That saved me on a few long flights.
    • Restaurants will almost always sub any starch or bread with veggies if you ask nicely.
  • My birthday dinner was not what I had hoped, but I stuck it out for a few extra days to finish out the month before I got doughnuts and that burger from The Spotted Pig on day 31. It was delicious, but it made me feel like crap. Days 32 and 33 we were compliant again.

What I ate

Since I was traveling without Amanda for most of the week I didn’t keep detailed notes on what either of us ate. All I have to go off of are my photos, so here they are:



  • Amanda and I are both down 14lbs each and a few pants sizes. I had to cut a new hole in my favorite belt and Amanda had to go buy new smaller work clothes.
  • We learned a lot about what kind of food gives us energy and what makes us feel like crap. It is very difficult to figure this out unless you restrict your diet significantly for a period of time. If you do that and then reintroduce things like sugar and bread back into your diet, you’ll see how quickly your energy and mood changes.
  • We learned about how much prepared food has sugar in it. Avoiding it requires attention to detail, discipline, and planning.
  • For the first time in four years, we’ve gotten through the worst part of winter without getting sick. Not even a cold.

Going forward

  • We are sticking with 80% of the Whole 30. We are eating legumes again, but primarily still staying away from grains, dairy, and sugar.
  • We are picking our indulgences instead of indulging in everything. Instead of copious mediocre candy bars, we’ll pick the best cookie we can find and just have one. Saying compliant instead of having fast food so that we can have the best pizza in the area the next day.
  • We are drinking alcohol again, but less frequently. We are following the principle above: Instead of drinking a few bottles of beer, we’ll have a cocktail or a few fingers of good whiskey.
  • Despite not being strict now that the dedicated month is over, we are still losing weight because we changed our approach to food.
  • As I write this, we are at a coffee shop that has some of the best cookies in the area. We each got one, only ate half, and were done because they are so rich. Before the Whole 30, we would have devoured the whole thing within a few minutes.
  • Staying strict on the Whole 30 long-term is probably unrealistic for our lifestyle right now, but staying 80-90% compliant is doable. Continued weight loss and having more energy is a definite driver for us.
  • You’ll probably see meals posted here with a heavier vegetable influence, reflecting our change in food consumption.

Whole 30 Week 3 Recap

Another week down! Things are getting easier.

Successes this week

  • Amanda is down 9 lbs and Chuck is down 7 lbs since the beginning of February. More since the beginning of January.
  • We pushed through multiple days where we wanted to order out, but instead dug deeper and cooked at home.
  • I’m still waking up better than usual.
  • I consciously ate more this week. That was a problem for me last week.
  • We ate out multiple times this week because we were shopping for cars and negotiating with salesmen. We successfully found Whole 30 options, no matter where we were.
  • Our cravings have subsided!
  • We got creative this week with multiple meals to change up the monotony. Recipes coming soon.
  • We used leftovers effectively this week and didn’t waste anything.

Difficulties this week

  • Both of us had tough weeks at work and then we had to go car shopping over the weekend. It made cooking much more of a chore. Weeks like this are when we would have ordered pizza or sandwiches from down the street. Thankfully we pushed through, but it was tough.
  • We really miss going out to get burgers and drinks after tough days. Especially since the weather was beautiful this week and our neighborhood brewery has outdoor seating.
  • We both burned the midnight oil multiple days this week. Working late when you stopped eating at sundown is brutal. Fasting is much easier when you are sleeping through most of it.

What we ate this week

Day Breakfast Lunch Dinner
15 Chuck: Black coffee. Amanda: Smoothie. Chuck: Scrambled eggs, apple, pear, and almond butter. Amanda: Salmon and salad. Steak, sautéed broccolini, and roasted rainbow carrots
16 Chuck: Black coffee. Amanda: Smoothie Chuck: Bibimbap over lettuce. Amanda: Leftover steak, carrots, and broccolini Carnitas tacos in lettuce wraps
17 Chuck: Black coffee. Amanda: Smoothie. Chuck: Leftover carnitas Zucchini a la esquites with carnitas and avocado (recipe coming soon)
18 None Omelets and potatoes Chuck: Zoodles, chicken, broccoli, and carrots. Amanda: Grilled shrimp salad
19 None Brunch: Roasted sweet potatoes, bacon, and scrambled eggs (recipe coming soon) Roasted chicken, salad, tostones, and avocados at Pio Pio
20 None Scrambled eggs, carnitas, and brussels sprouts Cauliflower fried rice made with the chicken leftover from Pio Pio
21 Chuck: Black coffee. Amanda: Smoothie. Chuck: Leftover carnitas. Amanda: Leftover cauliflower rice Sous vide pork loin, roasted brussels sprouts, and roasted asparagus




I’m a little concerned about next week because I’m traveling for most of it. If you have any tips for staying compliant while traveling, please leave me a comment!


How to Make Almond Butter

One of the things I love about having a good food processor around is that we can make fresh almond butter whenever we want. We buy the almonds in bulk, so we can make fresh almond butter for cheaper than we can buy it in the store. It takes just ten minutes and we customize it to our tastes.

We go through a pound of almond butter in about a week. We primarily eat it with apples or celery (this has helped us get through our Whole 30), but we’ll also throw it in the occasional smoothie. Here is how we make it:


  1. Take 1lb of whole almonds and put them in the food processor. I like using 1/2 raw and 1/2 roasted almonds.
  2. Put the lid on the food processor and turn it on.
  3. Wait 9 minutes. Be patient. It will look almost like almond butter between the 5-9 minute marks, but it will disappoint you if you taste it. It will be mealy and dry instead of smooth and creamy.
  4. At the 9 minute mark, take the lid off and scrape down the sides. Put the lid back on.
  5. Process again for another full minute. This is when the transformation from “meh” to store-bought quality happens. This last minute is when it turns nice and creamy.
  6. Eat a few spoonfuls while it is still warm, then put it into a jar and store in the fridge for up to two weeks.


Your times might vary with your food processor. With my 9-cup Cuisinart workhorse, here are roughly the stages the almonds go through:

Time Consistency
20-30 seconds Chunks for cobbler
1 minute Course meal
1-2 minutes Fine meal
2-3 minutes Almond flour
5-9 minutes Mealy mixture that will taste like almond butter but won’t be smooth enough
10 minutes Just like store-bought



  • Chocolate Almond Butter
    • Add in 1 bar of dark chocolate before processing.
  • Maple almond butter
    • Use maple-roasted almonds (make your own by tossing your almonds with maple syrup and roasting them at 350F for 20 minutes), or add 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • Chunky Almond Butter
    • Pulse for 20-30 seconds and then take out a 1/2 cup of chunks and then put the lid back on and start processing again. Mix the chunks in at the end.
  • Honey Flax Almond Butter
    • Include 1/8 cup of toasted flax seeds and 1/8 cup of raw honey before processing.
  • Try other nuts.
    • Walnuts, cashews, and pecans are all great.
    • Macadamia butter is good, but very rich. I can’t eat much at one time. Macadamia nuts are best mixed in small amounts with almonds or pecans.
    • Pecans + Cashews or Walnuts + Cashews are particularly good combos.
  • If you like a lighter color (or want lighter almond flour), use blanched almonds.



I took a quick hyperlapse of making the almond butter to show the transformation. It is sped up by 12x. I know the video kind of sucks: It is vertical, the vibrations of the food processor moved it all around, and I had to freehand it for the last 5 minutes. I stopped this video at the 9 minute mark, just before we scraped it down and processed it for the final minute.

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How to Roast Vegetables

Dinner in our apartment frequently follows this formula: One meat + two or three vegetables. If I plan ahead and put something like steak or pork tenderloin in the sous vide around 3pm, I can have a healthy dinner on the table with as little as 30 minutes of active time.

My preferred method of making vegetables year-round is to roast them. It is fast, it works with a wide variety of vegetables, and it is super easy to clean up.


  1. Preheat your oven to 400 F.
  2. Choose and cut your vegetables. A quick guide is below.
  3. Toss your veggies with spices and a little bit of oil (Grapeseed Oil is probably the best option given its high smoke point), and put them on a sheet pan lined with foil.
  4. Put the pan of veggies on the middle rack of your oven for 20 minutes. No turning needed.

This method works well with all of the veggies listed below.

Vegetables, how to cut them, and what to season them with

Vegetable How to cut Seasoning
Acorn Squash Halve from stem to tip, then slice into half moons Cinnamon, nutmeg, and sage
Asparagus Cut the woody bottom part of the stem off and leave the rest of the stalk whole Salt, pepper, garlic, lemon zest
Broccoli Florets Salt, pepper, and garlic.
Brussels Sprouts Halve from top to bottom Salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Top with fresh grated parmesan.
Butternut Squash Peel and dice into 3/4 inch cubes Sage, sautéed onions, cinnamon, and cranberries (not all spices, but my favorite way to roast butternut squash
Carrots Slice longways into quarters, then cut the lengths in half Cumin or ginger
Cauliflower Florets Adobo or Cumin or Salt, pepper, and garlic powder
Celeriac Peel then cube Salt, pepper, paprika, thyme
Eggplant Slice into 1/2 inch thick disks Garlic, parsley, salt, pepper
Garlic whole peeled individual cloves Nothing needed
Mushrooms Whole Butter, garlic, thyme
Parsnips Slice longways into quarters, then cut the lengths in half Cumin or ginger
Pumpkins Halve from stem to tip, then slice into half moons Cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg
Radishes Halve or quarter Salt, pepper, and smoked paprika
Rutabagas Peel and 1 inch dice Salt, pepper, thyme, and balsamic vinegar
Sweet Potatoes 1 inch dice Salt, pepper, rosemary, and garlic or chili powder
Tomatoes Halve if small, quarter if large Oregano and garlic
Turnips Peel and 1 inch dice Salt, pepper, thyme, and balsamic vinegar
Yellow Squash 3/4 inch disks Smoked paprika, salt, and pepper
Zucchini 3/4 inch disks Smoked paprika, salt, and pepper



Up next: Braising is another good method for cooking vegetables. Fennel, leeks, radicchio, and artichokes tend to turn out better braised. Watch out for a post on braising soon.





Whole 30 Week 2 Recap

Week two is in the books. Here is how it went.

Successes this week

  • I’ve been waking up easier this week. I’ve been wide awake and ready to work at 8am, even on the weekends. This is not the norm because I usually burn the midnight oil.
  • Our pants are a little looser
  • We are getting in the rhythm of cooking Whole 30 compliant meals.
  • Two weeks have gone by quickly.
  • I’m still foregoing kefir, so I’ve actually been 100% compliant on what I’ve eaten.
  • I drank more water this week. Grains soak up a lot of water and disperse it throughout digestion, so I was dehydrated last week when I didn’t have any grains. This week I compensated by purposefully drinking more water.
  • I made some almond butter with my food processor! 50% raw, 50% roasted almonds
  • I’m really good at whipping out a tasty guacamole with the huge mortar & pestle we have.
  • Even though we had to pass up the Royal Kirs, we still brunched with Whole 30 compliant food.

Difficulties this week

  • Work is ramping up for both of us and we have a lot of extracurriculars going on. Twice this week we ate leftovers for dinner that we reserved for other lunches because we had too much going on too cook. Thankfully we have decent Whole 30 lunch options near where we work.
  • Today is Valentine’s Day. We both LOVE chocolate, pizza, fresh bread with cheese and charcuterie, and booze.
  • The pear brandy that I’m aging with toasted oak is really starting to open up and smell incredible. I really want to try it.
  • I’ve not been eating as much as I should due to my fasting. Compressing all the calories I need into 6-8 hours is tough. I’ve lessened by fasting restrictions when I need to, but it is still difficult. I’m making up for it with eating lots of fat.
  • I checked the ENTIRE grocery store. Only 1 out of the 13 varieties of bacon does not have sugar in it. (Pro-tip: It is the Smithfield Low Sodium variety. Just add salt and you’ll be fine. I bought 3 pounds.)
  • I haven’t yet figured out how to keep beef from overcooking in stews and soups, so we ate beef vegetable soup with dry, overcooked beef. If you have suggestions, hit me up.

Meals this week

Day Breakfast Lunch Dinner
8 Chuck: Black coffee and 6 slices of Speck. Amanda: Smoothie with almond milk yogurt, avocado, blackberries, strawberries, bananas, kale, and MCT oil Chuck: leftover carnitas. Amanda: Gigantic kale salad with veggies and steak Takeout: Chicken breasts, eggplant, zucchini, and spinach
9 Chuck: Scotch Egg & Coffee. Amanda: Apples, pears, oranges, and speck Homemade beef vegetable soup
10 Chuck: Scotch Egg. Amanda: Smoothie with almond milk yogurt, avocado, blackberries, strawberries, bananas, kale, and MCT oil Leftover beef vegetable soup Skirt steak lettuce wraps and home guacamole
11 None Frittata with broccoli, sausage, peppers, and onions Apples, pears, almond butter, and jamon serrano
12 None Brunch bowls with crispy sweet potatoes and onions, avocado, scrambled eggs, and bacon Cauliflower Fried Rice with okra, chicken, bacon, carrots, celery, onions, and cress sprouts
13 Chuck: Black Coffee. Amanda: Smoothie with almond milk yogurt, avocado, blackberries, strawberries, bananas, kale, and MCT oil Leftover cauliflower fried rice Sous vide pork, roasted brussels sprouts, and roasted yellow squash
14 Chuck: Black Coffee. Amanda: Smoothie. Chuck: leftover frittata. Amanda: Salad. Leftover sous vide pork and roasted yellow squash



Again, I didn’t photograph everything. Here is a good mix of what we ate, though.