Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pumpkin Muffins (Low carb and gluten free)

From reading so many cooking blogs, I always feel like I have to be careful how I label my recipes. Making sure not to use words like paleo, primal, gluten free, etc...out of context. Well I don't really care how you label these, they are delicious! When we first started eating a grain free diet I really struggled with baking. I felt like most of the recipes calling for coconut flour or almond flour ended up being too moist or even eggy, yuck! With the ingredients being so expensive in comparison to white flour and white sugar I have been hesitant to experiment with recipes as I would have done before. But after trying many recipes and not liking several of them, I am getting a little braver!

This recipe uses almond flour and certified gluten free oat flour, which I know is not grain free but we eat small amounts in moderation. Also, I really love combining oat flour with coconut or almond flours! It gives the muffin or bread a light, tender crumb which is something I have missed! They are moist but not soggy in the middle or eggy and they tender but hold together really well and do not crumble apart in your hands. These are really a perfect low carb, gluten free muffin!

Normally, I do not like anything added in my pumpkin bread/muffins. However, I made half with raisins and pecans and half without and I really loved the one with the raisins and pecans! Make however you like!

Pumpkin Muffins (Low carb and gluten free)
2 Cups Almond Flour (I use Honeyville Blanched Almond Flour)
1/2 Cup Certified Gluten Free Oat Flour
2 Teaspoons Baking powder
1 Tablespoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/8 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter, melted and cooled
2 Eggs
2 1/2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1 Cup minus 2 tablespoons Pumpkin Puree (I make my own)
1/3 Cup Pure Maple Syrup

Optional add-ins:
1/2 Cup chopped Pecans and 1/2 Cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 and line 15 muffin cups with paper liners or grease well with butter or coconut oil. Sift all dry ingredients into a small bowl and set aside. Whisk or beat together wet ingredients, whisk in dry ingredients until everything is well combined (remember there's no gluten so you will not over mix). Scoop into muffin cups using an ice cream scoop (I got 15 muffins out of this).

Bake at 350 degrees for 18-25 minutes, toothpick should come out clean when done. Let cool for 10-15 minutes and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

I have so many recipes to post right now I had a hard time choosing just one! So check back in over the next few days for caramel apples (made using coconut milk and coconut sugar), pumpkin muffins (grain free), zucchini lasagna and whatever else I come up with between now and then!

But for today we are going to talk about creamy, thick, perfect for a grilled cheese, tomato soup. I really love tomato basil soup and it is beyond easy to make. There is absolutely no need to open up a can of soup and add water when you can make a homemade soup in about 30 minutes from start to finish! I was at our local farmers market on Sunday and came across some beautiful leeks so I decided to use them as the onion in this soup, and I really love the gentle flavor they brought to this soup. Leeks need to be carefully cleaned, which can be done by peeling off any part of the outer layer that looks old and thinly slicing the white part of the leeks. Then soak the rings (try to separate them) in cold water for a few minutes to remove the dirt between the rings. This can be done first while you are prepping you other items and only take about 2 minutes to do.

If you have never made your own soup before this is an easy one to start with, it is not complicated and is WAY better than anything you can buy in the store!

Soup simmering on stove before pureeing and adding Greek yogurt!

Finished product!

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup (with Leeks)
1 25oz Jar Eden Organic Crushed Tomatoes (only the Eden Organic Jars are BPA free, the cans are not!)
1 28oz Can San Marzano Tomatoes (BPA Free)
2 Small leeks thinly sliced and rinsed (1 small yellow onion would also work)
2 Cloves of garlic, minced
2 1/2 Cups Chicken broth (free range, organic)
2 Cups water
1/3-1/2 Cup Fresh basil (measured amount is while leaves are still whole)
1/2 Cup Plain Greek yogurt
1-2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Salt and pepper to taste

In a dutch oven or large pot saute leeks and olive oil and season with some salt and pepper. When soft, add in garlic and whole basil leaves saute for 30 seconds, using spoon to bruise/crush the basil. Add in crushed and whole tomatoes with juices, chicken stock, and water. Cook over medium heat for 20-25 minutes until soup has started to thicken. Taste and season again with salt and pepper if needed. Remove from heat and using an immersion blender puree soup to desired consistency*. Whisk in Greek yogurt and serve immediately.

* If you do not have an immersion blender you can ladle soup into a blender or food processor to puree. Be VERY careful doing this and puree your soup in batches- DO NOT overfill your blender/food processor to get done faster! I have definitely burned myself from pureeing hot soups in blenders and/or food processors!

Hope you enjoy this! Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Fudgy Zucchini Brownies (Grain Free)

When I first decided to go grain free and low carb the first thing I thought was "what about dessert?!" It's not like we are a family that eats dessert every night, but somehow the thought of not having yummy, chocolaty desserts made me feel a bit depressed! So I made it my goal to find a way to still have delicious desserts that were healthy as well and with out using any kind of refined ingredients! My favorite brownie has been one from Elana's Pantry, until last night! I came across a recipe on Pinterest for zucchini brownies and immediately wanted to try them out. After tweaking the recipe a bit I came up with the BEST brownie! Not just the best grain free brownie, but the BEST brownie ever! It is so moist and chocolaty and fudgy (which I don't think is even a word, but you get the point)!

Fudgy Zucchini Brownies:
Adapted from Delighted Momma's Flourless Zucchini Brownies

1 Cup Cashew or Almond Butter (I used cashew)
1 1/4 Cups Finely Shredded Zucchini (skin on is fine)
1/4 Cup High Quality Dutch Processed Cocoa
1 Egg
1/3 Cup Raw Honey or Agave
2 1/2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1 Teaspoon Baking soda
Pinch of Salt
3/4 Cup Dark Chocolate finely chopped, or Dark Chocolate Chips (I used a combo of both)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients (reserving 1/4 cup of Dark chocolate or chocolate chips) in a large bowl and mix well until combined. Line 9x9 baking dish with parchment paper and pour batter into baking dish. Sprinkle 1/4 cup dark chocolate chunks or chips on top.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Enjoy! Let me know what you think!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Stuffed Portabells Mushrooms with Rosemary and Blue Cheese

I gotta say, I LOVE mushrooms! Well, cooked mushrooms anyway. My hubby does not share that love so either I don't make them or make just enough for me. Last night at Costco they had a 5 pack of portabella mushrooms which is a lot of mushrooms for one person to eat! So I briefly paused and started thinking through in my mind how I could use them all up at home: stuffed mushrooms, grilled mushrooms, pizza portabella mushrooms, I could go on!

So today for lunch I decided to stray from my usual combo of lean meat, raw veggies, and cheese and decided to actually cook lunch. After all mushrooms don't keep well so I needed to use them quickly and decided to make stuffed portabella mushrooms with zucchini, diced mushrooms, bell peppers, rosemary, and blue cheese, YUM!

I sauteed all of my veggies, and seasoned with salt and pepper at the end, if you salt your mushrooms before you cook them it draws out all the water and they won't brown for you.

Finished product- it was super delicious!!

Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms with Rosemary and Blue Cheese (Serves 4)
5 Portabella Mushrooms, cleaned and gills removed (leave 4 of them whole and finely dice the 5th)
1 Red Bell Pepper, diced in small pieces
1 Small Zucchini, diced in small pieces
1 Small Onion, diced in small pieces
1 Clove Garlic, grated or pressed
1/3 Cup Pine Nuts
1 Heaping Tbsp Fresh Rosemary, finely chopped
1-2 tbsp Olive Oil (+ 1 Tbsp for saute pan)
1/2 Cup Crumbled Blue Cheese

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees, lightly brush 4 of the mushrooms with olive oil, salt and pepper and place on cookie sheet in oven for 10 minutes until edges start to brown lightly. Meanwhile saute red pepper, zucchini, onion, and last portabella mushroom in a large saute pan with olive oil until veggies are cooked through and lightly browned. season with salt and pepper. Add garlic, rosemary, and pine nuts and saute another minute.

Remove pan from heat, and mushrooms from oven. Divide filling among the 4 mushrooms and crumble blue cheese on top of each. Return mushrooms to oven for another 5-7 minutes until blue cheese is melted.

Serve immediately.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Dutch Chocolate Frozen Yogurt

This summer we have made several trips to our favorite frozen yogurt place. While I am sure that the frozen yogurt is a little better for you than ice cream that is short lived once we load up our frozen yogurt with all those yummy, but super unhealthy candy toppings! So of course I had to try to make a healthier version at home where I could determine the ingredients and choice of sweetener. The options of what mix-ins to use are endless: fresh fruit, vanilla beans, chocolate, coconut, or some combo of these.

I have made this with store bought yogurt and homemade yogurt, I prefer homemade plain yogurt because it is not as sour as store bought yogurt. If you have never tried making your own yogurt it is really easy and super delicious! My friend Kelli, who is a registered dietitian has a great recipe for homemade yogurt on her blog  Fuel Right , check it out! She reviews through all of the health and cost benefits of making your own yogurt at home.

I chose fresh homemade yogurt, raw honey, and high quality cocoa powder for my first go round at this, and the results were amazing! This was incredibly creamy and chocolaty!

Mix together yogurt, honey, cocoa powder, and vanilla extract...should look like this

Then put back in fridge for an hour to chill. Once chilled poor into ice cream maker and let is do it's thing!

Once it's done scoop and serve!

Dutch Chocolate Frozen Yogurt

4 Cups Plain Greek Yogurt (homemade or high quality brand like Fage)
1/2 Cup Raw Honey
1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 Cup Dutch Process Cocoa Powder

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix on medium speed for 1-2 minutes until all ingredients are well combined. Cover bowl and place in fridge for 1-2 hours. Remove from fridge and pour into ice cream machine- depending on what brand you have it will take about 15-30 minutes to make toe creamiest frozen yogurt you've ever had!

Nutrition Facts: 1/2 cup= 120 calories, 18g carbs, 12g protein 

Compare to 1/2 cup of Chocolate ice cream: 270 calories, 31g carbs, 0g Protein

Lentil and Kale Minestrone

Even though it is still in the 90's here, we had a couple of cooler days last week that made me long for fall! I love everything about fall, the cooler weather, leaves changing colors, football, sweaters, pumpkin latte's and pumpkin chai's from Starbuck's...really there is nothing not to love about fall!

During the summer I hate using my oven and stove, I would much rather grill. But with the cooler weather last week I really wanted some delicious soup and I needed to use up some of the veggies in my fridge. So I decided to throw together a minestrone type soup. We don't eat pasta (or really any grains) and decided to add in some white kidney beans and lentils instead. If you follow a strict paleo diet you can absolutely leave these out altogether but our family LOVES lentils, even my 3 year old who would eat every last one out of the soup if I let her! You can also make this vegetarian by excluding the chicken sausage and using vegetable broth.

I have made several versions of this soup, but the recipe below is our favorite. You know you hit the jackpot on a recipe when your 3 year old and husband argue over who gets the last of the soup! This soup is hearty but light and is SO flavorful!

So this picture was actually taken last fall (didn't take one when I made it last week). You'll notice it has potatoes in it, which I no longer use in this recipe as we really don't eat potatoes any more. Instead I have been using a few white beans although any variety will do. I didn't plan ahead and make my own but here is a great link from Kalyn's Kitchen on how to do it.

Lentil and Kale Minestrone

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 large carrots, diced (or 5-6 small carrots)
1 Small zucchini, diced
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
Salt and pepper to taste
1 28 oz can Crushed tomatoes (I use Pomi tomatoes to avoid the BPA found in most canned products)
1/2 cup french green lentils, rinsed
8 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
2 tsp freshly chopped Thyme
1-1/2 tsp Italian herb seasoning
1 14-oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (I used Eden Organic again to avoid BPA)
2 C. Swiss Chard or Kale, roughly chopped
1 lb italian chicken sausage

In a dutch oven or stock pot saute sausage until lightly browned. Remove from pot. Add olive oil and carrots and onions. Saute until softened slightly then add zucchini and saute until slightly browned (season with salt and pepper). Then add in Thyme and italian seasoning and garlic saute 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and lentils and cover pot and let cook for about 10 minutes (this steams lentils). Uncover pot and add beans, sausage, and chicken stock (season again with salt and pepper) cook on medium low heat for about 30 minutes, turn off heat and add chard or kale.

Make 6-8 servings

Hope you enjoy it!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Vanilla Peach Raspberry Jam

Well, I have never blogged anything before in my life and am a little unsure of beginning now. I have to say that I am a little (ok a lot) obsessed with cooking blogs however, probably because I really LOVE food. Not all food, just really super yummy good food. Not only do I love food, I LOVE to cook. I have been cooking for as long as I remember. My first memories of cooking are sitting as a little girl on my great grandma's kitchen table and helping her make pie dough. Well, more eating her pie dough! I was making meals for my family before I was 10 years old, not because I had to or was even asked to but because I really enjoyed cooking. Cooking is not just a hobby to me, but a love!

I hope to share some of my favorite recipes on here in hopes you'll love them as much as we do!

The end of summer, beginning of fall is prime canning season. This is my 2nd year canning and I would definitely consider myself a newbie at this! Last year my husband's favorite jam was peach. I ended up giving away most of the jars and he was a little sad that we ran out so soon. So this year I bought 36lbs of Palisade peaches and now we have peach jam everywhere (and some peach cobbler too)!

                                                                           Peach Jam

The last batch of the day was going to be peach again but I decided I wanted to spice it up a little so I tossed in some raspberries and vanilla extract with the peaches. It was so delicious! It is perfectly sweet, with a hint of vanilla...I am honestly surprised any of it made it to the canning jars!

                                                            Vanilla Peach Raspberry Jam

I am only going to post the recipe here, so if you are new to canning please see Ball's website for specific info on what materials you need to can and how to get started.

Vanilla Peach Raspberry Jam 

4 1/2  Cups Peaches (skin removed and roughly diced)
2 1/4 Cups Raspberries
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
7 1/2 Tbsp Ball Real Fruit Pectin Low or No Sugar
1 1/2 Cups Water
1 Tbsp Vanilla extract
3/4 Cup Honey or agave (or 1 Cup granulated sugar) 

Makes 10 half pint jars

Place peaches and raspberries in large stock pot. Using a potato masher or large spoon crushed peaches and berries until only very small pieces of fruit remains (it will be very soupy at this point). Then add vanilla, lemon juice, pectin, and water and combine well. Heat over medium heat, stirring often until mixture comes to a hard boil. At this point add sweetener of choice and boil hard for another minute. Remove from heat and carefully ladle into sterilized jars leaving 1/4 inch head space. Carefully place sterilized lids and rings on and process in water bath as directed on Ball Canning's website above. Again, if you are new to canning please see link above to Ball's website- it is very important to use proper technique when preserving food via canning.

Since you are using Low or No sugar pectin this can be made with any kind of sweetener or if you have really ripe, sweet fruit then no added sweetener is needed! If you are not using any sweetener then you will need to increase your peaches to 6 1/2 cups and your raspberries to 3 1/2 cups to get 10 half pint jars. 

Regular jam recipes call for 7 cups of  white sugar! By making your own jam you can control the sweetness and quality of ingredients. 

Good luck and let me know if you give it a try!