Paleo Recipe

The Smell of Muffins in the Morning

IMG_20140715_110921_333~2A rainy day outside, Diana Krall on the stereo & homemade blueberry muffins in the oven = a pretty perfect little morning.

It has been a beautiful rainy morning here in Birmingham, ideal for a blueberry muffin breakfast. Perhaps it seems more wonderful than normal as we are finally settled into our new place! Having been in transition since our December wedding, it feels so good to wake up in the morning and walk into my very own kitchen.

Yesterday I brought home some fresh blueberries which looked too tantalizing to pass up (not to mention they were on sale!) This immediately got me thinking breakfast…

With nothing scheduled this morning, I took the time for a baking endeavor and came up with this yummy morning treat. You will love the blueberries that pop in your mouth as you bite into the sweet crust laced with coconut sugar.

If you try anything new this week, let this be it! They are well worth it and pretty simple at that. And hey– if blueberries aren’t your thing, any fresh berry will do! Think outside the box.

Blueberry Vanilla Almond Muffins

Makes 12 Muffins

  • 1/2 C. of Coconut Oil (Melted)
  • 1/4 C. of Honey
  • 1/4 C. Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk (Can also use rice milk)
  • 1/4 C. Coconut Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tsp. of Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 tsp. of Pure Almond Extract
  • 1 C. of All Purpose GF Flour
  • 1 1/2 C. of Almond Meal
  • 1/2 tsp. of Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp. of Salt
  • 1 C. of Fresh Blueberries (or preferred fruit)
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a muffin pan with coconut oil (or use liners! I would recommend it 🙂 )
  3. Add all wet ingredients together, as well as coconut sugar.
  4. Beat well.
  5. Add all dry ingredients.
  6. Beat well.
  7. Add your blueberries and gently fold into your muffin batter.
  8. Spoon into muffin pan.
  9. Pop in the oven for 15-18 mins.
  10. Enjoy the scrumptious smell that fills your home (oh, and taste, too!)

Note: You can also use frozen berries if you wish; however, it will leave your batter a different color. If you want pretty muffins, use fresh. If you don’t mind greenish-blue muffins, then frozen works great, too!

 

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LAMB: The Other Red Meat

IMG_5496There is a uniquely robust and earthy flavor that can only be found in the taste of lamb. For the first time, I tried my hand at making the deliciously lean meat this afternoon, paired with roasted garlic potatoes and carrots. The vegetables were a lovely complement to the rosemary lamb shoulder chop.

Lamb is certainly not common American fare, making it a more foreign and undervalued main course in the standard American kitchen. However, this particular cut is quite inexpensive, yet incredibly satisfying and simple when prepared. While it appears and sounds a bit fancy, it is quite effortless. Try it for yourself! It definitely breaks the chain of ordinary weeknight meal planning.

Note: Lamb is a wonderful source of protein, as well as vitamins B2, B3 and B12. Vitamin B2 is beneficial for healthy skin and vision, aids in producing red blood cells and even supports in breaking down calories. B3 is essential for lowering cholesterol and B12 helps promote a healthy nervous system. Even more reason to make this savory dish!

Rosemary Lamb Shoulder with Roasted Vegetables

Serves 2

For the Lamb-

  • 2 Lamb Shoulder Chops (preferably hormone, antibiotic-free)
  • Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. Fresh Rosemary

For the Vegetables-

  • 2-3 Red Potatoes
  • 1 Bag of Baby Carrots
  • Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1-2 tsp. Minced Garlic
  1. Take your lamb out of the refrigerator and let sit in room temperature while preparing vegetables.
  2. Thinly slice your potatoes. Fill a glass baking dish with cut potatoes and baby carrots.
  3. Liberally coat vegetables in olive oil, salt, pepper and minced garlic.
  4. Bake at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes. For additional texture, broil until golden brown after baking
  5. Meanwhile, prepare your lamb. Rub each chop vigorously with olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh rosemary. No need to finely chop your rosemary.
  6. As the vegetables finish, turn your oven’s broiler on HI.
  7. Broil lamb on HI 10-12 minutes, turning each chop over half way through cooking time.
  8. Let your meat rest for about five minutes before serving.
  9. Plate and garnish with fresh rosemary.
  10. Enjoy the beautiful meal you’ve made!

Now THAT’S Good

IMG_5485Why is it, that when we think of a snack that’s good for us, we automatically think it’s going to taste bad? That’s because in many cases, that is EXACTLY what happens. Health foods are often missing two key ingredients: flavor and satisfaction.

So often I find myself wanting for more. While it may technically be good for your body, health food has a bad rap for sometimes leaving your tummy and taste buds suffering.

For instance: the other day I picked up two new granola bars from my local health food store. To have them on hand is great for on-the-go snacking, as well as for an afternoon pick-me-up. However (to my dismay) they absolutely screamed health food bar. When I bite into a snack bar, I don’t want to feel like I just ate bird seed with an essence of dirt. I think we’ll leave that for the birds!

This weekend, my husband and I camped out in our new tent. In need of some good fuel, I set out to make a snack bar that’s not only nutritious, but one that we actually want to eat! Thus, the Cocoa Crunch Bar came to be.  And let me just say… you will want more. Brett and I were like two little piglets, gobbling up their sweet & salty goodness. We almost felt naughty, like we were chowing down on snicker’s bars. The kicker: we didn’t have to feel a single bit of guilt. It’s all good.

Try for yourself! It’s well worth the effort.

Cocoa Crunch Bars:

  • 2/3 C. Salted Cashews
  • 2/3 C. Walnuts
  • 2/3 C. Raw Sunflower Seeds
  • 4 Dried Figs
  • 4 Dates
  • 10 Prunes
  • 1/3 C. Shredded Unsweetened Coconut
  • 2 Tbsp. Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1/4 C. of Honey
  • 1/3 C. Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 C. Almond Butter
  1. Crush your cashews and walnuts until broken into fine pieces. (I put mine in a bag and used a meat tenderizer. You can also use a processor.)
  2. In a mixing bowl, add all ingredients together except for the Coconut Oil and Almond Butter.
  3. Next, melt your Coconut Oil and pour over the mixture.
  4. Then, do the same with your Almond Butter.
  5. Mix everything together.
  6. Pour into a greased casserole dish.
  7. Bake at 300 degrees for about 30 minutes.
  8. Let cool.
  9. Put in refrigerator until fully set.
  10. Cut and eat!

Note: if you don’t have figs, dates or prunes on hand, that’s okay! Get creative! You can easily substitute with raisins, dried fruit, etc. You can also use different nuts like pecans or almonds. Do what you like and make them your own!

A Taste of French Cooking

Ratatouille Bubbling in the Oven

Ratatouille Bubbling in the Oven

In the words of Chef Gusto, “Anyone can cook!”

Being a major Disney/Pixar buff, the beloved film Ratatouille is one of my very favorites. Combine a love of Disney with a love for all things French and, well, it’s a match made in heaven!

Since first seeing the film back in 2007, I have had a hankering to try my hand at making Remy’s Ratatouille. It seemed simple enough and I always enjoy trying something new. Well, it may be 2014, but I can finally say I’ve done it! I will admit… it was absolutely delicious! In fact, I snuck some in before breakfast this morning.

A bit of background: Ratatouille was originally created in 18th century France, most likely in the region of Nice or Provence. It is an exquisite way to utilize fresh vegetables. The loveliest part (aside from its taste, of course) is that you can make it your own with any vegetables you have on hand. Ideally, Ratatouille includes: zucchini, yellow squash, tomato and eggplant.

Simple and completely good for you, here is a traditional Ratatouille recipe (sans eggplant) with a fresh twist from Jessica Jo’s Kitchen:

Ratatouille

Serves 4-6

For the sauce:

  • 5 Roma Tomatoes
  • 1 Yellow Onion, Chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Minced Garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. Basil
  • 1 tsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Honey (preferably raw)

Remaining Ingredients:

  • 1 Green Bell Pepper, Chopped
  • 1 Orange Bell Pepper, Chopped
  • 1 Yellow Squash
  • 1 Zucchini
  • Fresh Basil
  • Goat Cheese (or other white cheese of your choice)
  1. Blend all sauce ingredients together well in a blender or processor.
  2. Heat a skillet with olive oil on Med/High heat.
  3. Add your chopped bell peppers into the skillet. Coat well with a bit more olive oil, salt and pepper and sauté for about five minutes, or until just beginning to soften. You don’t want them mushy, just a bit more tender.
  4.  Grease a deep dish pie pan with olive oil.
  5. Cut your squash and zucchini into thin, round slices.
  6. Layer the bottom of your pan with your zucchini and squash, arranging them in a circular pattern.
  7. Alternate layers with sauce, sautéed peppers, sauce, zucchini/squash, etc..
  8. Coarsely chop basil and garnish top.
  9. Cover with more sauce and finally, the cheese of your choice. I used goat, but mozzarella or something similar is fine, too.
  10. Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 40 minutes. Broil cheese until bubbly and golden brown.

Note: this version is a bit juicy! I recommend serving it in a beautiful bowl and pouring the extra juice over the top.  This can be served as a main entrée or side dish.

Bon Appétit!

All You Need Is: CHOCOLATE!

Guilt-Free Decadent Dark Chocolate

Guilt-Free Decadent Dark Chocolate

Let’s face it. Who doesn’t like chocolate? It’s the world’s most iconic sweet, the cure for a love sick heart and the epitome of romance. It gives us warm fuzzies and makes us feel loved! Speaking of love and chocolate: it’s almost Valentine’s Day! Chocolate is a scrumptious treat for the “day of love”, not to mention an amazing aphrodisiac!

But… grabbing a box of chocolates from the store, while it may taste great, is not so great for your body. The chocolate itself is full of iron and antioxidants,  but the sugar inside is just waiting to bog you down! Today I whipped up a batch of homemade chocolate that is not only simple, but better (in my humble opinion) than anything you can get at the nearest grocery store.

Whether you’re going out or staying in, below is the perfect recipe for a perfectly divine dessert. Not only does it tastes amazing, it is absolutely guiltless! Does it get any better than that?

 

 

 

 

DECADENT DARK CHOCOLATE

Serves 6

  • 1 C. Coconut Oil (Melted)
  • 1/4 C. Coconut Milk
  • 1/2 C. Honey
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. Red Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1 C. Special Dark Cocoa Powder
  1. Mix all ingredients together with a whisk.
  2. Line a dish or baking pan with parchment paper.
  3. Then, using a spatula, empty batter into pan.  Be sure to spread the chocolate to all edges, evening out the top.
  4. Optional: Sprinkle sliced almonds or crushed pecans or walnuts on top for a little crunch. Mm!
  5. Pop in the refrigerator for about an hour, or until firmly set.
  6. Delve into your homemade, guilt-free, chocolately goodness!

Store in the refrigerator.