Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Pumpkin Banana Baked Oatmeal

Pumpkin Banana Baked Oatmeal

2 T coconut oil
2 ripe bananas
15 oz. can pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1 c almond milk
2 c oats
1 c brown rice crisps or puffs
1/4 c ground flaxseed
2 T pumpkin pie spice
1/2 c raisins

Melt 2 T coconut oil in a tall, round casserole dish.  Add bananas to the dish and mash them until they are soft and almost liquid.  Add pumpkin and eggs and stir.  Add almond milk, oats, brown rice puffs, flaxseed, pumpkin pie spice, and raisins.  Stir until everything is uniformly incorporated.  Bake at 375 degrees about 30 minutes or until it doesn't jiggle when you jostle the pan around.  For a firmer oatmeal, bake longer, and for a more runny one, bake for a shorter time.  You can play around with the baking time each time you make it to get the consistency just right for you.

Ground Turkey and Pasta Skillet with Greens

Ground Turkey and Pasta Skillet with Greens

1 lb. ground turkey
1/2 large onion, diced
1 c mushrooms, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1/4-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp fennel
1/2 tsp pepper 
1/4-1/2 tsp sea salt
32 oz. strained tomatoes (or tomato sauce)
1/4 c sundried tomatoes, chopped
4 cups greens of choice (I used spinach)
4 servings cooked quinoa or brown rice pasta (I used this brand from Trader Joe's) 

Saute ground turkey and onion in a pan, halfway through adding the mushrooms, garlic and spices. When turkey is cooked through, add the tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, and the greens, cooking until the greens are completely cooked down and can be stirred into the turkey mixture.  Taste your sauce and add more seasoning if it needs it!  Meanwhile, cook your pasta according to the directions on the package.  When pasta is done cooking, add it to the ground turkey mixture.  I served mine over steamed broccoli and cauliflower and it was delicious!  

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Recipe Round-Up

I know I've been MIA for a while, and what can I say... the school year is in full swing and my time is taken over by other activities, like planning for and teaching my amazing second graders!  I have still been doing a lot of cooking and baking, but haven't been experimenting quite as much as I do in the summer.  Nevertheless, I decided I should share some of the recipes I've tried lately that have gone in the recipe file for repeated use!

Scalloped Potatoes from Just a Pinch: I adjusted this recipe by using Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Flour.  I also used grass-fed butter.  And PURPLE potatoes!  We get a LOT of potatoes from our CSA during October and November, and I was sick of making roasted potatoes in the oven so I was trying to find a recipe that was new and different.  This fit the bill, and hit the spot.

Smashed Potatoes from Oh She Glows: These are seriously good.  I didn't make the aioli but imagine that it would send these puppies over the top.  Even without it, you won't be able to stop eating them.

Thai Beef Stew from Against All Grain: Recommended to me by my friend Jennifer, this stew was a hearty crowd-pleaser perfect for a cold fall day and a nice alternative to a roast!  I didn't use the jicama, but thew in some mushrooms instead.

The Perfect Fudgy Brownie (Grain-Free and Paleo) from Deliciously Organic: These taste like my long-time favorite Ghirardelli brownies.  And they have no flour in them at all.  I wouldn't recommend eating these every day but as a treat they are fantastic.

No-Bake Pumpkin Tarts from Detoxinista: I love pumpkin pie but had never attempted a "paleo" version before this.  Well, I think it was because I was waiting to find this recipe.  I am in love.  You should make these tonight.

The bloggers who developed these recipes are awesome- check out their websites for more healthy recipes!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Chocolate Hazelnut Bites

And one more "bite" recipe for good measure...  These are probably my all time favorite of all the fruit and nut bites I have made.  Can't stop, won't stop... eating them.  (Does anyone else constantly have that lyric from the new Taylor Swift song running through their head???)  Enjoy!

Chocolate Hazelnut Bites

12 medjool dates, soaked in hot water for about 5 minutes
1 c hazelnuts (Skins can be on! I get mine at Trader Joe's)
8 T cocoa
7 T unsweetened shredded coconut

After soaking dates, process them in a food processor until they start to break down and form a paste.  Add the rest of the ingredients and continue to process until everything comes together and can be easily rolled into a ball.  As you can tell from the picture, I don't process them until the nuts are completely broken down- I leave them a little chunky.  Process longer for smoother bites and shorter for chunkier ones.  Roll into balls and store in the freezer.  They are awesome straight from the freezer!

Pumpkin Bites

My arsenal of dried fruit and nut "bites" is growing rapidly, as I find that these naturally sweetened bite size treats are my favorite thing to snack on.  Today I have a recipe inspired by a pumpkin bar created by a friend at my CrossFit gym.  These little balls have all the flavors of fall and are a nutritious treat for any time of day.  

Pumpkin Bites

10 medjool dates, soaked in hot water (*I microwave about a cup of water and then let the dates soak in it for about 5 minutes)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 c pumpkin puree
1 c pumpkin seeds
1/2 c pecans
1/4 c flax
1/2 c unsweetened shredded coconut 
1/2 c golden raisins

After soaking the dates, process them in a food processor until they are mostly broken down and have started to form a paste.  Then add the rest of ingredients and process until the ingredients come together and can be easily formed into a ball (if you want them less "chunky" process longer, and for more chunky process for a shorter time).  Roll into 1 inch balls.  I store these in the freezer and they can be eaten straight out of the freezer!  Enjoy!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

This salad is yummy.  I know because I ate it for lunch (and dinner) yesterday!  A friend at school made this for a potluck at the end of the school year, and I have made it several times this summer.  It's a great cold summer salad that fits in perfectly at any barbecue or potluck!  I think what I love most about it are the contrasting textures and flavors- the crunchy red onions and cucumber contrast nicely with the creamy chickpeas and feta cheese.  The refreshing and sweet cucumber and tomato pair well with the salty feta and olives.  The Greek dressing brings it all together nicely and gives just enough lemon and oregano flavor without being overpowering. Visit Closet Cooking for the recipe!  

Samoa Bars

I made these bars over the weekend and they were a hit with my friends!  If you are a coconut fan, you will LOVE these rich, dense, date-sweetened, creamy, gooey, coconut-filled bars!  The only added sugar comes from the thin layer of chocolate on top, so you can feel good about eating these treats that have lots of healthy fat and fiber.  I just wouldn't go eating the whole pan... make these to share with your friends so they're not sitting around your house tempting you, because I guarantee they will be calling out your name from the fridge!

I found the original recipe on the fantastic food blog Eat Good 4 Life.  Check it out!  

No Bake Samoa Bars

Slightly adapted from Eat Good 4 Life

1/2 c dry roasted macadamia nuts
1 1/2 c almond meal
1 c unsweetened, shredded coconut
4 dates
1 T coconut oil (add more if the "dough" seems too dry)

12 medjool dates (about 1 1/2 cups), soaked in hot water
1/3 c full fat canned coconut milk
1/8 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 c unsweetened, shredded coconut

1 c enjoy life chocolate chips

1. Heat up about 1 1/2 cups of water in the microwave.  Remove the pits from the 12 dates for the filling and submerge them in the water, letting them soak while you make the crust.
2. In the food processor, process the crust ingredients until well combined.  Add more coconut oil if it doesn't seem to be coming together.  Press firmly into the bottom of an 8x8 in. pan.  Put the pan in the freezer while you make the filling.
3. No need to clean out the food processor here (just scrape the crust out with a spatula the best you can!).  Put the soaked dates in the food processor and process until they form a paste.  Then add in the coconut milk and process until smooth.  Next, add the salt and coconut and process briefly til everything is incorporated together.
4. Take your pan out of the freezer and spread the filling over the crust, creating a smooth layer.  Put the pan back in the freezer for about 15 minutes.
5. After 15 minutes, melt your chocolate chips in the microwave (I melt them on 50% power for 1 min, followed by 30 sec intervals, stirring each time I take them out until they are melted).  Spread the chocolate layer on top of the filling.  

6. Refrigerate the bars for several hours, then use a very sharp knife to cut them into pieces!  I cut mine into 32 small bars, which worked perfectly because these are very rich!  Store in the refrigerator.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

"Pasta" Carbonara

Carbonara is a pasta dish made with bacon or ham, egg, and cream.  This version is a veggie-filled take on the traditional pasta carbonara, with several substitutions that make it very nutritious and incredibly delicious.  To be honest, it is actually very reminiscent of fried rice!  I'm pretty sure it's the peas and egg that give it that taste.  Either way, this is a unique dish that would be great served for breakfast, as a non meat-heavy main dish, or as a chicken side dish.  

"Pasta" Carbonara

1/2-3/4 lb. of bacon, cut into small pieces
2 candy onions (very small onions), minced (about 1/2 c onion)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups frozen peas
freshly ground pepper
6 egg yolks (I used yolks because I made biscuits with the whites the day before, but you could use 3-4 whole eggs instead!)
3 large zucchini or squash, spiralized

Cut bacon into small pieces and saute in a large dutch oven or high sided pot.  Once the bacon is crispy, remove the pieces but leave the fat in the pot.  Add the onion, cooking until soft, then add garlic and cook until fragrant. (This dish is very much based on feel- I don't have exact cooking times or temperatures, you just have to go by the look of the ingredients!)  Then add peas and saute until the peas are hot.  Sprinkle a generous amount of pepper on top of the peas.  Pour the egg yolks on top of the peas and stir everything until the egg yolks no longer look wet.  Then add the zucchini/squash noodles, and add the bacon back in as well.  Cook, stirring occassionally, until the "noodles" are soft.  For us, this made about 4 servings!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Green Chocolate Protein Smoothie

Ok here's one more smoothie recipe... I would have to say this is my current favorite.  I crave it every morning!  It is sweet, chocolately, and just delicious. 

Green Chocolate Protein Smoothie

1 frozen banana (I cut ripe bananas in half and freeze them for smoothie making)
2 large handfuls spinach
1 scoop (14 g) chocolate whey protein (I use Tera's Whey)
3/4-1 cup water or nut milk
1 T ground flaxseed meal
2-3 ice cubes

Process in blender until smooth.  Drink up!

Tropical Green Protein Smoothie

Another smoothie for your drinking pleasure!  This one is tropical and very refreshing.  I just can't get enough of smoothies this summer...

Tropical Green Protein Smoothie

1 frozen banana (I cut ripe bananas in half and store them in the freezer for smoothie making)
1/2-1 c frozen mixed tropical fruit (I like mango and pineapple!)
1/2 avocado
1 scoop (14 g) unflavored whey protein (or vanilla whey would be good too!)
2 huge handfuls spinach or kale
3/4-1 c water or nut milk (for a super filling and thick smoothie, you could even use canned coconut milk)
3-4 ice cubes

Place all ingredients in large blender and process until smooth.  This is too much for a magic bullet, so you'll need a full size blender to process all of the ingredients.  Makes 1 large serving.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Nut Milk and Nut Pulp Recipes! (Homemade Almond Milk + Homemade Brazil Nut Milk + Almond Pulp Freezer Cookies + Brazil Nut Pulp Fudge Balls)

The recipes I'm about to give you require some special equipment... a nut milk bag. These bags are basically very fine mesh strainers, in the form of a bag with a drawstring. They allow you to strain nut milk, chicken stock, and act as a cheesecloth for making your own yogurt.  I use mine mainly for nut milk, and I have been using it a LOT lately.  Since I've been on a smoothie kick, I've also been on a nut milk kick (since it tastes so good in smoothies!)  
Nut milk bags cost between $7-12 on Amazon and are SO worth it if you are interested in making your own nut milk.  In fact, I'm not really sure how to make it without one.  It's a small price to pay for such a valuable piece of kitchen equipment, so I encourage you to buy one!  Just search on amazon for "nut milk bag" and you'll find what you need.  

Homemade Almond Milk

1 c raw almonds
filtered water, to cover the almonds
4 c filtered water

Cover 1 c raw almonds with filtered water in a large glass bowl with a lid and let them soak overnight (really, anywhere from 4-24 hours).  You can let them soak in the fridge or on the counter, at room temperature.  When you're ready to use them, drain the water and rinse the almonds.  Place them in a high powered blender with 4 cups fresh filtered water.  Blend until almonds are pulverized, and then some (about 1-2 minutes).  Next, place the nut milk bag in a bowl with the mouth of the bag open.  Pour the milk into the bag.  The nut pulp will accumulate in the bag and the milk with accumulate in the bowl.  When you're done pouring, (with very clean hands), you will need to squeeze the bag to get the rest of the milk out.  You're squeezing the pulp to extract as much milk as possible.  When you're done squeezing, you'll have yummy almond milk in your bowl and yummy almond pulp in the bag (well, the almond pulp isn't really great by itself, but you can MAKE yummy things with it!).  This makes about 4 cups of almond milk. 

VARIATION: Vanilla Almond Milk
*Add 2 soft, medjool dates, 1/2 tsp vanilla, and a pinch of sea salt to the blender with the almonds and water.  I highly recommend this version!

Homemade Brazil Nut Milk

1 c raw brazil nuts
4 c filtered water

Unlike almonds, brazil nuts do not need to be soaked before using them to make nut milk! Place 1 c brazil nuts in a high powered blender with 4 cups fresh filtered water. Blend until brazil nuts are pulverized, and then some (about 1-2 minutes).  Next, place the nut milk bag in a bowl with the mouth of the bag open.  Pour the milk into the bag.  The nut pulp will accumulate in the bag and the milk with accumulate in the bowl.  When you're done pouring, (with very clean hands), you will need to squeeze the bag to get the rest of the milk out.  You're squeezing the pulp to extract as much milk as possible.  When you're done squeezing, you'll have yummy brazil nut milk in your bowl and yummy brazil nut pulp in the bag (well, the brazil nut pulp isn't really great by itself, but you can MAKE yummy things with it!).  This makes about 4 cups of brazil nut milk

VARIATION: Vanilla Brazil Nut Milk
*Add 2 soft, medjool dates, 1/2 tsp vanilla, and a pinch of sea salt to the blend with the brazil nuts and water.  I highly recommend this version!

Almond Pulp Freezer Cookies

Now, I hate to waste food.  So I like to find recipes to use the pulp leftover from making nut milk.  These cookies are the first thing I ever tried making with nut pulp.  I am always on the lookout for more good recipes, so please post any recipes you have made with nut pulp!  I would love to try them!

1 c (128 g) almond pulp
1/4 c rolled oats
1/4 c coconut oil
1/4 c raw honey
1/4 c raw almond butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 T cinnamon
2 c brown rice puffs OR brown rice crisps

Mix ingredients in a large bowl until well combined.  Roll into balls then flatten slightly. Freeze on cookie sheets until frozen, then transfer to containers to store in freezer.  For me, this made about 32 cookies.

I was in the process of licking the food processor bowl clean...
So good...

Brazil Nut Pulp Fudge Balls

Adapted from Rawtarian

I'm not kidding, this might be my favorite dessert recipe of all time.  I tasted this and a smile literally broke out on my face.  They are DELICIOUS.  

Leftover brazil nut pulp from making brazil nut milk (a little less than 1 c)
1 c cashew meal (I find mine at Trader Joe's; you could also make this by pulverizing cashews in a food processor until they create a fine, powdery meal- it will have more texture than flour)
10 large, soft medjool dates, pitted (about 1 c) (I find mine at COSTCO)
5 heaping T cocoa powder
4 T unsweetened, shredded coconut
pinch sea salt

Process all ingredients in food processor until a huge "mass" forms.  Basically, you will see a large "ball" rolling around in the food processor.  At this point, all ingredients should be well blended.  Roll the mixture into small balls.  Store them in the freezer.  For me, this made about 25 balls.  

Thursday, June 19, 2014


Mujadara is a traditional Middle Eastern rice, lentil, and onion dish.  We've enjoyed it at many local Middle Eastern restaurants and have loved every version we've tried.  It was only a matter of time before we tried making it at home, and I am sure glad we did!  The complex flavors of this dish make it downright addictive, from the sweet caramelized onions to the toasted pinenuts and hints of cinnamon, it is the perfect combination of textures and flavors that makes you want to keep eating more!  


3 large sweet onions, thinly sliced
4-5 T grassfed butter
sprinkling of sea salt
1 1/2 c cooked basmati or long grain white rice
1 1/2 c cooked green or brown lentils
1/4 c pinenuts, toasted in a dry pan on high heat for 5 minutes
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cumin
pepper and salt to taste

1. Caramelize the onions by cooking them in the butter over medium-high heat for about 30 minutes.  Stir occasionally to make sure they don't burn.  You want them to cook down but not get too brown.  Part way through the cooking time, sprinkle them with a bit of salt.  
2. While the onions caramelize, toast your pine nuts by placing them in a small pan, turning the heat to high and toasting for 5 minutes, stirring the pine nuts often to make sure they don't burn.  They should start to brown a little and give off a nutty aroma.  At this point, remove them from the heat.  
3.  Once the onions are caramelized, stir the rice, lentils, pine nuts, cinnamon, cumin, salt and pepper into the onion mixture.  Then enjoy!

Honestly, you can use whatever quantities you want in this dish!  Have 3 cups of leftover white rice?  Throw it all in.  Love the taste of pinenuts?  Use 1/2 c instead of 1/4 c.  The quantities I used happened to work for us- we love the flavor of onions and wanted equal parts lentils and rice.  Don't like onions as much?  Only use 1 or 2.  Just don't leave anything out!  You'll lose some of the great complexity of the dish.  

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Grandma's Potato Salad

Rem grew up eating his grandma's famous potato salad, which is a traditional take on potato salad and absolutely the best version I have ever had!  His grandma passed the recipe down to his mom, who passed it to Rem when he moved out and wanted to make it himself.  We make it frequently in the summer when cold salads just hit the spot!  

The original version calls for all-purpose flour and granulated sugar, both of which we typically exclude from our diet, but I was able to make some simple substitutions that do not change the taste or texture from the original at all (gluten-free all purpose flour for regular flour, and raw honey for granulated sugar)!

So without further ado... our take on Rem's grandma's potato salad

Grandma's Potato Salad

Potato Salad Base:
3-4 lb. Russet potatoes
4 hardboiled eggs
1 bunch green onions, diced
4 ribs celery, diced small
1 jar dill pickles (*You will need 1 cup of the pickle juice for the sauce.  Take the pickles and puree them in the food processor to create a homemade relish.  You will need 1/2 cup of the relish for the potato salad)
celery seed
black pepper

Potato Salad Dressing:
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 c bob's red mill gluten free all-purpose flour
1 huge squirt of yellow mustard (about 3 T)
1/4 c raw honey

1. POTATOES: Cut potatoes into bite sized pieces.  The actual size doesn't matter a whole lot, as long as the pieces are roughly the same size.  Dump the potatoes into a large pot, fill the pot with enough water to cover the potatoes, and boil them on medium high until the potatoes are soft.  You can test them by smashing a potato against the side of the pot with a fork.  If the potato easily "gives" and falls apart, it's done.  Or you can remove a potato and just eat it to test for doneness!  Just wait a minute or so to eat it after removing it from the pot do you don't burn your mouth!  Once the potatoes are done, drain them (don't rinse!) and let them cool off a bit.  I usually just leave them in the colander I drained them in!

2. EGGS: While the potatoes are boiling, hard boil your eggs.  Place them in a small pot and fill the pot with water until it just covers the eggs.  Place the pot over high heat until the water starts to boil.  Let the water boil for 1 minute, then turn off the heat, remove the pot from the stove, cover the pot, and let it sit (off the heat) for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, rinse the eggs with cold water.  Then peel them, dice them up, and put them in a LARGE bowl. (We usually skip this step because I make a mass amount of hardboiled eggs at the beginning of each week to have on hand for breakfasts, snacks, and dishes like this!)

3. CELERY AND GREEN ONIONS: While the eggs and potatoes are cooking (this dish requires lots of multi-tasking!), dice up the celery and green onions.  Add them to the large bowl that you are putting the eggs in.  

4. SAUCE: Now it's time to make the sauce!  In a small saucepan, combine: 1 cup of dill pickle juice, 1 whole egg, 1 egg yolk, 1/2 c gluten-free all purpose flour, 1 huge squirt yellow mustard, and 1/4 c raw honey.  Cook this mixture over medium heat, whisking the whole time.  After a few minutes, the mixture will start to "come together" and really thicken up.  Keep whisking and cooking until the mixture is very thick and difficult to continue whisking.  Remove from heat.  Set this aside.

5. RELISH: After you've cooked the sauce, put the rest of the contents of your dill pickle jar in the food processor (or a magic bullet!) to make your own relish.  Process until mostly smooth.  Whisk about 1/2 cup of this into your sauce.  If you want a thinner sauce, add even more.  Store the rest of your relish in a jar in the fridge for up to 1 month.

6. MIX IT ALL TOGETHER: At this point the potatoes should be somewhat cool.  Add them to the large bowl (that already has the egg, celery, and green onions in it).  Pour the sauce on top of the potatoes, then sprinkle celery seed, salt, and pepper over the whole mixture (Sprinkle a generous amount of celery seed and pepper, and just a bit of salt.  You can always add more later!)  Mix everything together and refrigerate!  This stays good in the fridge for up to 5 days.  The recipe makes a lot!  So if you live alone, I would invite some friends over to help you eat it.  Or make half of the recipe.  Or plan on eating potato salad for every meal for the next 5 days.  It's entirely up to you! :) 

Tips and substitutions:  Instead of using the pickle juice and making your own relish, you can substitute 1 cup of water or vinegar for the pickle juice, and use store-bought relish instead of pureeing your own.  

Friday, June 13, 2014

Almond Joy Balls

The last week of school there are always tons of potlucks and gatherings featuring a boatload of some healthy and some very unhealthy food.  Well, one of the parties featured Whit's frozen custard, which, if you have never tried it, is AMAZING.  Not a part of my normal diet, but I do enjoy the occasional ice cream treat from time to time, and I sure as heck enjoyed it at that party.  These balls are an ode to the flavors in Whit's Almond Joy frozen custard.  They are EXACTLY what I was going for when I set out to recreate all of the flavors in that ice cream.  No, they do not taste like ice cream, but they do taste like delicious chocolatey, almondy, coconutty heaven.  

Almond Joy Balls

10 soft medjool dates, pitted
2 scoops (28 g) chocolate protein powder (I used organic, grassfed dark chocolate Tera's whey)
1 c almonds
1/2 c unsweetened, shredded coconut
1-2 T unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp coconut extract

Process all ingredients in food processor until ingredients all stick together enough for you to roll it into balls.  You can vary the texture (smooth to chunky) by processing it for a shorter or longer time.  The balls will be fairly sticky when you roll them.  Put them in a freezer safe container and freeze them to store.  They will still be a little gooey straight from the freezer... yum!

TIP: I only buy this Whey when it is on Manager's Special at Kroger, or a stupid good deal at  At full price it is super expensive.  

Friday, June 6, 2014

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Before doing our current Detox, I was on a baking kick (probably part of the reason we decided to do the Detox....)  During this baking kick, I told a friend of mine I was going to make carrot cake cupcakes.  3 weeks later, I finally got around to making them and called her right away.  I tried a cupcake before taking them to her and was blown away by how good it was.  Dense, just sweet enough, and full of subtle flavors like cinnamon and cardamom.  The icing on the cake?  No added sugar in the cupcakes themselves.  You might even be able to get away with calling these carrot cake muffins!  But then of course you would need to leave off the frosting... which is kind of amazing. The frosting does have a small amount of maple syrup, but it's super rich from the cream cheese and not too sweet.  My friend LOVED these cupcakes, as did many other taste tasters.  One friend called them "friggin' awesome." Enough said!

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

adapted from Paleo Newbie

8 soft medjool dates, pitted
1 c hot water (I microwave mine for 1:11)
1/4 c apple butter (or unsweetened applesauce)
1/3 c whole milk (or coconut milk)
3 large eggs, whisked
1/4 c coconut oil, melted
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 c almond flour
3/4 c cashew meal (you could omit this and use all almond flour)
2 T coconut flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 T cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c raisins
1 1/4 c grated carrot (I used shredded carrot and just chopped it up a little finer)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat your cup of water and place the dates in it for about 5 minutes.  Then place the softened dates in a food processor along with the apple butter. Process until it forms a thick paste.  Add the rest of the wet ingredients (milk through vanilla) to the food processor and process briefly until uniform.  

Stir the dry ingredients (except for the raisins and carrots) together, then pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until well mixed.  Next, fold in the carrots and raisins.

Place cupcake liners in muffin tins, then pour batter into tins about 2/3 full.  For me this made 18 cupcakes.  

Bake 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of a cupcake.  Let cool before frosting.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz. full fat organic cream cheese, room temperature
8 oz. salted, grassfed butter (or unsalted butter + 1/4 tsp salt), room temperature
1/3 c maple syrup
1 T cinnamon

flaked unsweetened coconut

Whip cream cheese, butter, maple syrup, and cinnamon with handheld mixer until fluffy!  Frost cooled cupcakes with frosting.  Top the cupcakes with pecans or flaked, unsweetened coconut if you want!  You will have leftover frosting, so you can make a half batch if you want.  Or you could just eat the leftover frosting with a spoon.  Take your pick.

*If you don't have time to let the ingredients come to room temperature, microwave the butter until it is soft but not melted, and squeeze the cream cheese package between your hand until it is soft.  

Banana, Blueberry, and Greens Smoothie

Wow, it's been awhile!  The end of this school year was a whirlwind, but now that I'm on break from school for the summer, I think I'll be able to update the blog more frequently.  I have quite a few yummy recipes stocked up to share... so stay tuned!  

The recipe I have to share today may look absolutely disgusting, but it's incredibly delicious, healthy, and a new favorite of mine.  Lesson: don't judge a book by it's cover.  

Rem and I are currently doing a 28 day Detox that involves drinking fruit, veggie, and soaked nut smoothies for a portion of it.  Truth be told, before doing this Detox (1 week ago) I didn't think I was a huge smoothie fan.  One short week later, I am a smoothie lover.  The recipe below is my current favorite!

Banana, Blueberry and Greens Smoothie

1 frozen banana, cut in half (I freeze mine in 1/2 banana chunks)
1/2 c frozen organic blueberries
3/4 c water/milk/almond milk (*I used homemade almond milk)
2 large handfuls organic baby spinach
30 g raw organic walnuts, soaked in a covered bowl of filtered water for 4-8 hours OR 1/2 avocado

You have a few options here:
Option 1: You can throw everything in a regular blender and blend it until smooth.  I like my smoothies thick, and I actually eat them with a spoon rather than drinking them.... but if you want a thinner smoothie, add more water/milk/almond milk.  
Option 2: Put your spinach and almond milk in a single serve magic bullet and blend until smooth.  Then add the banana, blueberries, and walnuts OR avocado and continue to blend until smooth.  

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Cracked Nut Butter Copcycat Recipes: Brownie Batter Nut Butter and Cinnamon Roll Nut Butter

I do not have pictures... but I felt that I needed to get these recipes out into the world!  I've never had Cracked Nut Butter, but people seem to love it!  When my friends placed a recent order for it, I decided to try making it myself, and although I've never had Cracked Nut Butter, I created two copycat versions that I think taste pretty darn good!  Try them and see if you agree!  I'd like to know what you think!

Brownie Batter Nut Butter

1 1/2 c raw almonds
1 1/2 c pecans
1/2 c unsweetened shredded coconut

Process the above ingredients in a food processor until a smooth nut butter is formed.  Then add:

28 g chocolate whey protein powder (I used "Tera's Whey")
1 T cocoa powder
1 T coconut oil (melted)
1 T Ghee (melted)

Process again until uniform.

This tastes good straight out of the food processor but is even better after it has been refrigerated for at least a few hours!  I stored mine in a mason jar.

Cinnamon Roll Nut Butter

1 1/2 c raw almonds
1 1/2 c pecans
1/2 c unsweetened shredded coconut

Process the above ingredients in a food processor until a smooth nut butter is formed.  Then add:

1 scoop (approx. 28 g) vanilla whey protein powder
1 T cinnamon
1 T coconut oil (melted)
1 T ghee (melted)

Process again until uniform.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Cooking Class at Gervasi and Mole Recipe

Over the weekend, my mom, my sister and I took a cooking class at Gervasi Vineyards in Canton, Ohio.  It was an amazing experience... cooking in an industrial kitchen made me feel like I was on Top Chef, cooking in a quickfire challenge!  I had never taken a cooking class before and I was more than impressed by the facilities at Gervasi, the friendliness of the staff, and what a comfortable, fun atmosphere Chef Bob Sferra helped to create in the kitchen!  (Chef Bob owns a catering business in the Cleveland area, so if you live up there, check out his site by clicking on his name above!)  Based on the food we had 
today, his catering company has got to be phenomenal!

Chef Bob Sferra teaching us the ins and outs of cooking in a REAL kitchen!

At this point I think Kelli and I were scheming about which stations we wanted...

The class was called "Cooking with Chocolate."  With the help of Chef Bob Sferra and two assisstants from Gervasi, we were given the recipes for and learned how to make...

  • Bacon Wrapped Dates with Chocolate, Almonds, and Poblanos with Mole Sauce
  • Chocolate Stout Braised Beef
  • Parmesan French Toast with White Chocolate Sabayon
  • Pumpkin Sage Ravioli with  Milk Chocolate Sauce
  • White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Mousse

Chef Lori hard at work!  She's one of the best cooks I know!
We felt super cool in this kitchen!

Before we got started, Chef Bob explained what we would be making then let us choose our stations.  !My sister and I teamed up, and my mom joined up with another outgoing lady.  We were given the responsibility of making the white chocolate sabayon, and the white chocolate macadamia nut mousse, which I was pretty excited about because both required techniques I had never tried before.  I spent the last 20 minutes trying to figure out the names of the techniques we used but I can't for the life of me figure it out.  For the mousse, we mixed eggs with powdered sugar and Frangelico, placed it over a saucepan of barely simmering water, and whisked it until it became "frothy and warm", 160 degrees.  Then you whip the eggs, add a mixture of gelatin and whipping cream, add white chocolate melted with butter, and add already whipped cream.  Next you stir in chopped macadamia nuts.  Full disclosure: I tried everything we made, even the dishes with sugar and gluten.  GASP!  As my 2nd graders would tell me... YOLO (you only live once).  Don't ask me how second graders know of this saying or how a second grader could possibly understand the meaning of this phrase... I just don't know!  I digress...

For the sabayon, we used a similar technique to heat the eggs and sugar, but this time added a mixture of white chocolate, orange juice, and grand marnier, along with the whipping cream, to the egg and sugar mixture.  Man was it good...

So as we finished our two dishes, we got to see what everyone else was working on.  Watching the groups making the mole was awesome.  They got to char peppers, onions, and tomatoes over the grates of the stove, then simmer them with all kinds of herbs, spices, broth, nuts, dried fruit, and dried peppers.  The smell was heavenly, and the taste... well let's just say I could have eaten that mole sauce like soup.

We also got to try our hand at making homemade ravioli.  It was very therapeutic to send the dough through the pasta maker, fill the ravioli, wet the edges of the ravioli molds, and form the raviolis.  Labor intensive, but very therapeutic!  

White Chocolate and Macadamia Nut Mousse
Starting in top left corner, going clockwise: Chocolate Stout Braised Beef, Parmesan French Toast with White Chocolate Sabayon, Mole Sauce (we also made stuffed dates to eat with the mole, but those were appetizers and they went FAST!), Pumpkin Sage Ravioli with Chocolate Butter Sauce.

As everyone finished up making their dishes we all helped plate the food buffet style, and then could each get a plate with GENEROUS samples of everything we made that day.  Not only was the food amazing, but everyone in the class was very friendly and we enjoyed a relaxing and delicious meal with our new friends!  Chef Bob Sferra was an incredibly instructor, helping you with any question you had and making small talk like he's know you for years.  The kitchen became such a comfortable and friendly environment with him there to guide all of us.  His assistant were invaluable as well, always seeming to be right there when you had a question of needed help with anything.

I had such a great experience that I would highly recommend taking a cooking class at Gervasi.  Their new class offerings come out at the beginning of April (in a few short days!), so check their website to register for classes starting in the Fall (they take a break from classes over the summer, and the rest of the classes for April are already sold out!)

So I came home from the class and since I am on Spring Break this week, decided to recreate the mole we had in class.  I made a few changes to the original recipe but was very happy with how mine turned out!  Below I listed Bob's recipe as well as my own, with the changes.  I couldn't believe the depth of flavor in this sauce... I'm not sure I've ever made anything with so many "layers" of flavor.  On cooking shows, chefs always talk about those "layers" and I truly never knew what they meant until I tasted this mole.  The flavors come at you one by one, and it truly starts out herbacious from the cloves and star anise, then you get that hit of sweetness from the chocolate, and the heat from the peppers develops and lingers after you've taken a bite.  The multiple types of chili peppers, the spices, and the chocolate are apparently key characteristics of a Mexican mole.  To be honest, I don't think I had ever tried a mole before this class, but I'm sure glad I've had the experience and now have a solid recipe for it.  My life will never be the same...  No, but really, you've got to try this if you're a fan of spicy and have an even slightly adventurous palate.

I actually split the mole in half and only added chocolate to half of it.  I enjoyed the non-chocolate version just as much as the chocolate version.  Try both and see what you  think!

Yes, I know this is not the most appetizing picture but do not let it deter you from making the mole!  I should have taken a picture of all of the ingredients simmering in the pot.  But I didn't.... maybe next time.

Chef Bob Sferra's Chocolaty Red Mole

Makes about 3 cups of sauce

6 whole roma tomatoes
3 whole poblano peppers
2 whole onions, peeled (*I used sweet onions)
1 whole, fresh jalapeno pepper
1 T ground cinnamon
1 T star anise (*I used 5 stars)
3 whole dried red chili peppers (*I used 5 dried arbol chiles, found at Giant Eagle)
3 whole dried green chili peppers (*I used 1/4 c diced green chiles- I couldn't find dried green chili peppers)
2 whole dried chipotle peppers (*I used 2 dried ancho chiles, found at Giant Eagle)
1/4 c white sesame seeds
1/2 c canola oil (*I used grapeseed oil)
1/2 c sliced almonds
1/4 c golden raisins
2 cups vegetable stock/broth (*I used Kitchen Basics unsalted vegetable stock)
7 whole black peppercorns
3 whole cloves
1/4 c granulated sugar (*I omitted this)
2 T salt (*I used 1 T salt)
2 T fresh garlic, minced
1 c semisweet chocolate chips (*I used enjoy life chocolate chips)

*I altered the directions to what I did at home, adding some details that I learned in the class that were not written in the original recipe.  I also changed the directions for charring the vegetables since I don't have a gas stove that would allow me to char the vegetables over an open flame.

1. Heat your oven to 500 degrees.  Place tomatoes, poblano peppers, onions, and jalapeno on a foil lined baking sheet.  Roast for 10 minutes, then set your oven to BROIL and broil the veggies for 10 minutes, or until they they have a nice char on them.  

2. Meanwhile, mix together ALL of the other ingredients EXCEPT the chocolate in a large pot.  

3. Once the veggies are nicely charred, remove them from the oven, cut off the tops of the peppers and tomatoes, and cut the onions into quarters.  Add all of them to the pot.

4. Simmer everything over medium heat, covered, for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.  You can take it off the heat once everything is softened (for me, the onions took the longest- so once your onions are soft, you're good to go).

5. Next, throw everything in the food processor and process until smooth OR (like I did) use an immersion blender to blend the ingredients until smooth. *My food processor is small, and I didn't feel like putting the mixture into the food processor in multiple batches.  
6. Finally, add the chocolate chips and stir in.  They will melt quickly because the rest of the sauce is so hot.

7. Store sauce in refrigerator for up to 1 month or freezer for up to 6 months or so.  (These are guesses- Chef Bob said they should store very well in the fridge or freezer!)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Indian Chicken and Vegetable Stew

Rem and I discovered the original recipe for this stew when we started experimenting with Indian recipes at home a few years ago.  Indian is one of our favorite cuisines and we love to try new Indian recipes!  If you're not the adventurous type or think you don't like Indian cuisine, this stew might be a good stepping stone for you because the flavors are sweet and warming but not too overpowering.  

The original recipe is a vegetarian stew, but we like meat in all of our meals, so we added chicken to the mix.  We also subbed chicken stock for some of the water, replaced the red potatoes with sweet potatoes, and added peas.  I can imagine many other meat/vegetable substitutions would be great as well! Just keep that onion, garlic, and spice mixture! 

This is a great recipe to make for a big group OR if you want to have a lot of leftovers because it makes a LOT.  We never have enough leftover to freeze, but it would freeze well!  

Indian Chicken and Vegetable Stew

(Makes 10-12 generous servings)
Adapted from Eating Well

2 lbs. chicken thighs, baked with cumin, coriander, garlic powder, salt, pepper

2-3 T extra virgin olive oil
3 large onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
10 good grinds black pepper

2 c unsalted chicken stock (I used Kitchen Basics brand)
2 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed and chopped into bite-sized pieces
3 cups baby carrots, chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 cups frozen peas
2 15 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 15 oz. cans fire roasted diced tomatoes

3/4 c fresh cilantro, chopped

whole milk, plain Greek yogurt for topping

The day before (or earlier in the day): bake chicken thighs then cut into bite-sized pieces.  Save for later use in the soup.  (You could also just use any kind of leftover chicken).  

To prep: Cut the onions (place in dutch oven), cut the sweet potatoes (leave on cutting board), and mix together the spices in a small bowl.  

Saute onions in large dutch oven or stockpot over medium high heat.  Cook until the onions begin to brown just a little.  Add garlic and saute 1-2 minutes.  Add all of the spices and saute 1 min longer.  

Next add the sweet potatoes, 2 c chicken stock and 2 c water.  Cover the pot and simmer for 15 minutes.

Then add the carrots, frozen peas, garbanzo beans, and tomatoes.  The pot will be very full at this point.  Cover the pot again and turn the heat down to medium-low.  Simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally, or until the carrots and sweet potatoes are cooked through.  

When ready to serve, stir in the cilantro.  This is great served with plain Greek yogurt on top too!  

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Paleo Moussaka

When I studied abroad in Greece, I discovered an amazing dish called Moussaka. Traditionally, this casserole is made with spiced ground lamb, eggplant, potatoes, and a creamy milk and flour based bechamel sauce on top.  It is hearty and homey like a good lasagna but with a more "exotic" flavor set.  A few weeks ago, Rem discovered a recipe for a paleo moussaka on the blog Real Food Forager.  We adapted it slightly to make a LOT more and to use ingredients we had on hand.  We've actually made it twice in the past few weeks and it turned out fantastic both times.  The bechamel sauce is unreal. As you can see in the pictures, broiling the moussaka for the last few minutes gives the bechamel that crusty, delicious brown on top which is reminiscent of broiled cheese.  There is still some in the fridge that I may need to go eat right now...  By the way, this tastes great cold as well as piping hot.  Is it weird that I tend to eat all of my leftovers cold?  Does anyone else do that?

Before baking.

After baking.  Mmmm....

Paleo Moussaka

Slightly adapted from Grassfed Girl via Real Food Forager

2 T coconut oil
2 small onions of 1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
sea salt and pepper
2 lb. antibiotic and hormone-free ground turkey
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 6 oz. can organic tomato paste
1 15 oz. can organic no salt added tomato sauce
2 medium eggplants, skin peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces

2 cans full fat coconut milk
1/2 c arrowroot powder (I buy Bob'd Red Mill brand, which I have found at Kroger, Earth Fare, and Meijer)
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Melt coconut oil in large saute pan.  Add onions and garlic, saute 5 minutes. Add the ground turkey, salt, pepper and cinnamon. Cook, breaking up turkey, until ground turkey is cooked through. Add tomato paste, tomato sauce, and 1/2 can of water.  Stir and cook this for about 5 minutes more.
Meanwhile, grease 2 13x9 inch pans with coconut oil.  Peel and chop the eggplant into bite-sized pieces.  Place 1/2 of the eggplant pieces into each pan.  Then pour the meat mixture on top of the eggplant in each pan, splitting the amount evenly between the 2 pans.  

To make the bechamel sauce, mix 1 can of coconut milk with the 1/2 c arrowroot powder.  Pour of other can of coconut milk into a large sauce pan and heat until it starts to bubble (but not a full blown boil).  At this point, add the coconut milk/arrowroot powder mixture and whisk continuously until the sauce is very thick. Then remove the sauce from the heat, crack the 2 eggs into it, and whisk until the eggs are incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Pour the bechamel sauce over the meat mixture in each pan, splitting the amount evenly between the 2 pans.  

Bake both pans, uncovered, at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.  After 40 minutes, remove the pans from the oven, move the oven rack up one slot, and set the oven to BROIL.  Put the pans back in the oven and broil for 3-5 minutes or until the bechamel starts to brown (but not until it gets burnt).  Makes 8-12 servings.

Serve hot!  This also makes great leftovers.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Roasted Kabocha Squash

On this lovely Ohio snow day (Our 7th this year- what?!  At first I enjoyed these snow days but they're beginning to stress me out.  There is too much to teach and learn, and so little time!  Anyway, I digress...), as I was browsing through photos I've taken of recipes for this blog, I discovered some photos I had taken of kabocha squash and realized I never posted them!

A few years ago we were buying squash at Meijer when we discovered a type we had never seen before- kabocha.  It looks like a small, green pumpkin.  We took it home, looked up some ideas for preparing it online, and proceeded to make the BEST squash we had ever eaten.  When roasted in the way I will describe below, it is salty, rich, creamy, and downright addicting.  Be careful not to eat too much though... although the skin is perfectly edible, I have found out the hard way that eating too much of it is rather rough on the digestive system.  Just sayin'. 
Kabocha Squash

I've noticed that every kabocha squash I make has a slightly different flavor, and some turn out a bit drier than others, some creamier than others, and so on.  However, every time it has turned out DELICIOUS!

Roasted Kabocha Squash

1 kabocha squash (I can reliably find it at Meijer)
2 T coconut oil (or olive oil)
coarse salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with foil.  
Wash the squash.  Cut the stem end off.  Cut the squash in half down the middle.  Scoop out and discard the seeds and pulp.  Cut the squash into moon shaped pieces (approx. 1 in thick on the skin side, as pictured above).  
Melt the coconut oil on a heatproof plate (or just pour olive oil onto a plate). Rub one slice of squash in the oil, then rub another piece of squash onto the first to distribute the oil onto both pieces.  I know this sounds strange, but this is the method I've used since I starting make this squash and it works really well!  Really, just get some oil on the squash however you want!  
Place the squash slices onto the foil lined baking sheets and sprinkle with salt.  
Roast at 400 degrees for 20 min., then remove from oven, flip the squash, and bake for about 15 min. longer. When it's done, the squash should be soft enough to easily cut or pierce with a fork.  Enjoy!  Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.  In my opinion, it's just as good cold as it is freshly roasted!