The Holiday Hustle: Made Better with (Paleo) Chocolate Chip Peppermint Skillet Cookies!!

The weather has turned! This is both good and bad. I have a Jeep and I grew up in the Northeast — I am not afraid of any snowstorm, any time. There’s two sides to this situation — the first, I work too much to be inconvenienced by snow. Closed roads, inexperienced/bad drivers… not a fan. The good part — if it’s bad enough to not go into work, it means I get to cook all day… SCORE!

I’ve been doing a lot of shopping, trying to get it all out of the way early this year. If you haven’t checked it out yet, take a look at my Gift Recommendations for kitchen gadgets, natural beauty products and other fun stuff — link here!

The last few weeks have been so incredibly busy… I can’t believe it’s already December. I’m not sure where last week this month this year went. Appointments, dinners, parties, working, traveling… so much going on. At a doctor’s appointment a few weeks ago, I came across the concept of a “skillet cookie”, which is basically a giant cookie pie inside of a cast iron skillet. I had big plans to incorporate pumpkin or spices during October and November, but I clearly missed that boat. So, here we are in the middle of Christmas season, and I have decided to make a Christmas skillet cookie. Cue the peppermint.

Honestly, I sort of don’t like peppermint in a lot of things, but there’s something wonderful about a sweet little bite of chocolate chip cookie with a hint of mint in it. A few drops goes a long way, this stuff is quite strong.

There’s a few ways you could do this recipe — you can use multiple mini skillets  for personal sized cookies, or you could use one big one. Don’t be alarmed if you think you don’t have enough batter for a big skillet — a thicker cookie will turn more into a pie-like thing if there’s too much batter (plus it will take a lot longer to cook!). This was even approved by my non-Paleo parents, who enjoyed a few slices after I brought it over on Saturday. My stepdad enjoyed a nice scoop of regular vanilla ice cream on it, but you can absolutely add some non-dairy ice cream for a nice treat!

Peppermint Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie (Paleo)

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Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 15 Min

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

  • 1 large egg and 1 egg yolk
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin coconut oil (room temperature, but still solid)
  • 2/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2-3 drops of food-grade peppermint* essential oil
  • 1 3/4 cups blanched almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 ¼ cup dark chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-10 in. cast-iron skillet lightly with some coconut oil.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together coconut oil, coconut sugar, vanilla and egg until smooth. (If you aren’t using a mixer, mash coconut oil with a fork to get rid of clumps—this part is really important! Add coconut sugar, vanilla and egg; continue to mix until smooth.)
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the almond flour, salt and baking soda. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until fully combined – you should end up with a dough that is a bit sticky. Stir in the chocolate chips, mixing evenly.
  4. Add the mixture to the skillet. Using a rubber spatula, scoop contents from the bowl and spread evenly through the skillet to ensure it bakes consistently.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until the middle is just set and the edges begin to turn golden brown.** Test doneness in the middle with a toothpick to see if any batter comes out on the toothpick.
  6. Allow to cool a bit in the skillet. Optional: top with vanilla ice cream prior to serving. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

*I use Young Living’s Peppermint Vitality essential oil, which is certified for food/drink and safe for internal consumption. Do NOT consume products not intended for internal use – adhere to your product’s directions for proper use.

**If your cookie is still gooey but the edges are quite dark, you can drop the oven temp down to prevent the edges from burning until the  center has cooked thoroughly.

Enjoy!

-S

Pumpkin Chai Spiced Cheesecake (Paleo, Vegan)

I’ve had some really great ideas lately for things I want to start doing with this blog. My ultimate goal is to have a cookbook (working on it!), but I want to add a few other cool things to my repertoire too. I have so many little recipes for natural household cleaners with essential oils, herb infused cooking ingredients, the whole nine. Once I get some more time, I will definitely be sharing!

On a side note, Thanksgiving is 2 weeks away, and I’m left wondering where 2017 went. I think I can speak for most when I say that 2016 was just a lengthy and traumatic, so we were all waiting for 2017 to be a nice transition to figure all of our shit out.

I don’t think that happened, because it’s November and I’m not sure what I’ve done for the last 10.5 months. And I only drank a *few* beers.

Regardless, I plan on spending the rest of this year making my time count – I have a lot I want to accomplish, and I’m tired of letting time pass me by. To start, I want 2018 to have newsletters, updates, and I want to share with you all whatever it is you’re looking for when you walk into your kitchen and want to be inspired.

This post is short and sweet, didn’t take a lot of time… much like this recipe J I have another variation of this that I’ll have to post, but I wanted you all to have a delicious, gluten free/vegan alternative to bring to the Thanksgiving table next week! For a person that doesn’t really eat desserts… this one takes the cake. Pun intended.

Pumpkin Spiced Cheesecake (Gluten Free, Vegan)

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prep time: 25 min

cook time: n/a

Serves 12

Ingredients:

Crust

  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1¼ cup Medjool dates, pits removed
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Filling

  • 1½ cup raw cashews, soaked and drained**
  • ½ cup coconut cream
  • ½ cup agave nectar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup liquid virgin coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3 tsp chai tea leaves (approx. 2-3 tea bags)

**soaking the cashews for 4-5 hours is best, but you can also soak for about 20-25 minutes in a bowl of boiling water)

 

INSTRUCTIONS

For the crust:

  1. Add dates, cinnamon and almonds to food processor and pulse on high for 1-2 minutes until finely chopped and mixture starts to become sticky when you pinch it together. If the mixture is too dry, add more dates. If it’s too sticky, add more almonds, a small handful at a time.
  2. Transfer your crust to an 8″ springform pan. Firmly press crust into the bottom of the baking dish, ensuring that it is packed evenly around the entire dish and no air bubbles remain. Set aside.

For the cheesecake:

  1. In a blender, add cashews, coconut cream, agave nectar, vanilla extract, pumpkin, coconut oil and pumpkin pie seasoning. Blend on high until filling is very smooth and appears creamy, about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Pour half of the batter over the crust, making sure to get rid of any bubbles and that it’s covered evenly. Place in the freezer while you work with the remaining batter.
  3. Add the chai tea leaves to the last half of the batter and blend for another minute or so, making sure the entire mix is evenly blended.
  4. Gently pour the chai batter over the first batter slowly, so as to not mix the two. Tap  the sides of the dish to ensure the layer is evenly covering the rest, and to get rid of any air bubbles.
  5. Place cake in freezer for at least 2 hours to set. Before serving, remove from freeze for about 15 minutes to allow to thaw.

Enjoy!

-S

Pumpkin Ginger Spiced Muffins (Paleo)

I am not a baker. While I feel as though many of my best recipes are desserts, I think it’s because they’re a version of something everyone already likes… with a healthy twist. It’s like getting the best of both worlds.

In my attempt to fill my life with as many seasonally appropriate things as possible, I’ve studied Pinterest religiously, and canvassed the house with mums and Indian corn. I bought all of my cans of organic pumpkin puree BEFORE the mad Fall rush, and I have even thought of my outfits ahead of time, according to what sweater I want to wear that day. This last one is a fail because the weather is unseasonably warm, but I am determined to fill the house with smells of fall recipes and pumpkins, and spice.

Once the weather cools down, I’ll tackle more fall soups, salads and main dishes, but for now — I will continue my hand in baking. I grew up on carrot cakes,  ginger snaps and potpourri, but I never really had a sweet tooth. I’m not sure what happened between then and now, but I really enjoy baking.

These ‘lil beauts happened after much trial and error, and after a few rounds of bland muffins, I decided to dump in  a bunch of my favorite spices, sub in some pumpkin for apple sauce, and lo and behold, the perfect little breakfast muffin was born. Though they don’t need to be limited to breakfast, I find it’s just enough sweetness with the spice to satisfy. I use unsulphured/unsweetened molasses, which gives them a really nice earthy flavor.

I guess, the moral of the story here is that there are things in life that we don’t think we’re good at, but really, it’s just that we don’t give ourselves the opportunity to succeed. If you were to ask me if I’m a great baker, I’d probably say that I’m terrible… a “baking dunce”, if you will. When I think about it though, I should give myself at least a little credit for the things that ended up being pretty good.

This can really go for anything. A sport, playing an instrument, singing, etc. A few weeks ago, I decided I wanted to drive a manual transmission. I thought I was always terrible at it — I couldn’t remember the last time I drove one. I got in, drove away, completely forgetting why I thought I couldn’t do it. Sometimes, you just need to remind yourself that you’re capable of whatever you want to do — sometimes you just need to try it.

Go make these muffins — they’re a delicious and healthy alternative to normal fall cakes and cookies. Yum!

Paleo Pumpkin Ginger Spiced Muffins

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Prep Time 15 minutes

Cook Time 20 minutes

Makes 12 muffins

 

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup of canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup of full fat canned coconut milk, mixed/shaken thoroughly
  • 1/4 cup organic coconut sugar
  • 3 Tbsp organic molasses
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot powder
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp allspice
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of fine ground Himalayan sea salt

 

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F. Grease a non-stick 12 cup muffin pan. You can use liners, but I find they get a nice shape when directly in the pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin puree, coconut milk, coconut sugar, maple syrup, molasses and vanilla until blended.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients – almond flour, coconut flour, arrowroot starch, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, baking soda and salt. Mix thoroughly.
  4. Slowly add the dry mixture into the wet mixture until just combined – since the flours aren’t wheat based, allow to set for about 5 minutes so everything  can absorb.
  5. Spoon the batter evenly into the muffin cups, about 1/2 to 2/3 full. The batter will rise at it cooks.
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until starting to brown. You can test the doneness by sticking a toothpick in a few of the center muffins — nothing should stick to the toothpick.
  7. Remove from oven, allow the muffins to cool in the pan for 2 minutes or so before carefully removing them to cool.

 

Optional – if you prefer a more decadent muffin, feel free to mix some leftover coconut milk, maple syrup, pinch of cinnamon, ginger and allspice and drizzle over the top.

 

Enjoy!

Golden Milk (Paleo, Vegan)

Autumn equinox – what a great day. Today marks the start of many things. On this day, it is the time when the length of night and day are of exactly the same. It’s the beginning of autumn (pumpkin spice lattes, y’all) and one step closer to cooler, darker weather.

While this equinox is not the more uplifting of the two, it is certainly just as important. Instead of being on the dawn of Spring, renewal, rebirth and other beginnings, this is the close of what was, and what is now behind us. Sounds a little spooky, and maybe a little woo-woo, but this would really be a great calendar change for the New Year.

So what actually is the equinox, and why should we care? Great question.

Back before smartphones, Lovesac couches and Keeping Up With The Kardashians, humans spent most of their life outside. The sky and everything in it served as both a clock and a calendar for civilizations, which allowed them to measure time, daylight, and the like. Without getting too involved in the science, the equinox and solstices mark Earth’s axis tilt and orbit around the sun, which greatly influences the weather, the energetic balance and our alignment with it.

From a spiritual standpoint, Fall represents the time of year to gather your harvest in preparation for the winter. Everything that souls experience is cyclical – this is the Universe’s gentle reminder of lessons we may have forgotten, or continue to learn. Human behavior, weather, science, thoughts… everything always has a chance to come full circle. It’s a great way to look back at your year and see the progress you’ve made as a human floating around on this big ol’ rock. Do something to honor your continuance, such as lighting a candle, paying it forward, or really just taking a few moments to be grateful for everything going on around you.

This makes it so much easier to “clear out your land” in time for the next cycle you enter, free of anything you’ve needed to shake off.

To me, though, more importantly, is that as of 4pm EST today, the Libras are now in the driver’s seat. That’s right – you read that correctly. The Justice League is here, with our logical left brains and fair judgment, until October 23rd. It’s no coincidence that Libra’s timeframe starts with day and night at equal length, promoting a sense of balance and equality. The forest greens, ocean blues and floral purples will be replaced with warm oranges, fire reds and golden yellows, in lieu of countering the darker end of the year. The tradeoff is equal, just different. What a great time!

This brings me to my favorite part…. What are we eating? Another great question.

Golden Milk! This years-old concoction is the perfect way to warm up and stay well as the weather cools, the sun sets earlier, and my sweater drawer finally opens up. A spicy blend including turmeric, ginger, cinnamon and almond milk is the perfect replacement for chilled drinks and summery fruit mixes. There’s a few ways to make this and you can always swap out almond milk for something else, but boy does this turn into a rich little drink.

Can we talk about how amazing Golden Milk is for a moment? Turmeric is known for its inflammatory properties, as well as regulating blood sugar. It’s also been known to aid in sore throats and stuffy noses.

So, cheers! Enjoy your spicy cup of deliciousness.

Golden Milk (Vegan/Paleo)

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Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups almond milk
  • 1 ½ cups coconut milk
  • 1 ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

 

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan, add all ingredients and whisk together over medium heat. It should steam, but shouldn’t boil.
  2. Remove from heat. Taste, and adjust sweetness to preference with additional maple syrup. If you need more spice, add additional ginger or turmeric, a pinch at a time.
  3. (Optional) Use a frother to add foam to your latte.

Enjoy!

-S

 

Ooey-Gooey Brownies (Paleo, Vegan)

It’s Labor Day. Do you know what that means?

fullsizeoutput_34dIt means sweater weather is close. It means that all the money that I spend at WHBM on sweaters will finally be worth it, and I can put on boots and jeggings and be cozy. (shameless plug: I’ve worked part time at White House | Black Market for the last 7 years and it’s the best reason I don’t have any spare time or spending money)

It also means that I have off of my regular job, and I spent most of the day cooking. I also bought a few Mums, going to decorate my stoop once I finish writing and cleaning my clothes up. But let’s talk more about food.

I’m not a sweets-person, so when I post something that is sweet, rather than salty, you know that I fully support it. Cue this recipe… nothing beats a really, really good brownie. A gooey, sticky, melty, chocolate-y brownie.

And with that comes all of the reasons why I don’t eat brownies. I’m a slob, somehow I always end up wearing chocolate stains, and I don’t really eat sugar if I can help it. Mainly, the chocolate stains, though. Others tend to notice them before I do, and having to explain why you have chocolate streaks on your jeans… well. No one really wants to know why you have chocolate on your pants, or if it’s really even chocolate. If only people knew I drop everything I eat in my lap at some point.

Cue an embarrassing memory; I was at work, and the memo went out that our CEO was walking around for an impromptu meet-and-greet. We had had these before, and I was looking to make my best impression. (Back story: after trying to sneak off quietly and change into my mucking boots to head to the barn, imagine my surprise when I come running out of the bathroom in knee-high socks, holding muddy boots, turning the corner only to stop a few centimeters short of our CEO, his Tom Ford dress shirt and a handful of executive board members. I figured the only place to go was up from that point). I was about to head out for the day, but decided to stay behind and give a warm hello as he made his rounds. Not wanting a messy desk, I quickly ate the brownie on my desk that a friend gave me a while earlier, straightened my things, and turned around to shake his hand.

I had brownie on pretty much every inch of my smile. I know this, because he asked me if was enjoying my snack. What. A. Boob.

I’d like to think someone out there thinks I’m charming, brownie-grin and all. (I don’t work there anymore… thankfully I moved on and up based on merit and my own free will…)

I guess whenever I think of brownies, I have to laugh at myself. I’ve done some pretty stupid stuff; some ended up being a pleasant surprise, and others making me wish I was an ostrich with my head in the sand until eternity ended. At the end of the day, with all my goofy idiosyncrasies, all my quirks, singing lyrics as a response to a question, including others in conversations I’d been having with myself, my lack of filter, my A.D.D blended coarsely with some O.C.D., I’ve come to surround myself with people that I love, and that love me, too. And, after everything is said and done, I’ve come to learn that this is most important.

fullsizeoutput_34c(Though it’s definitely important to note that these brownies are paleo, vegan, gluten-free deliciousness……….)

 

Paleo/Vegan Ooey-gooey Brownies

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 12 minutes

Yields 12 small brownies

 

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup almond flour
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp honey or maple syrup
  • ¼ cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tbsp almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup vegan dark chocolate chips

 

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8x8in baking pan with coconut oil, or organic cooking spray. (I use a glass Pyrex dish – I find the cook time to be more accurate than a metal dish)
  2. In a medium sized bowl, mix together almond flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt, set aside.
  3. In a medium sized saucepan, heat almond butter and coconut oil over medium-low heat, stirring to combine. Add honey (or maple syrup), coconut sugar, apple sauce, almond milk and vanilla extract. Mix until well blended.
  4. Once almond butter and other wet ingredients are mixed together, add to bowl with dry ingredients, stirring thoroughly. Gently stir in chocolate chips. Add to baking dish, ensuring the mix is evenly spread out.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Like normal brownies, you can check their doneness by poking with a toothpick or fork. The batter should not stick to your toothpick or fork once removed.
  6. Let cool thoroughly before cutting.

 

Enjoy!

-S

 

 

 

Girl-Scout Cookie Truffles (Paleo)

I have a love/hate relationship with girl scout cookies. I was girl scout for years, my mom was Cookie Mom… I have fond memories of a time when cookies weren’t $4 a box and were actually filled full with cookies. This was also a time where I could eat a box in its entirety, and the only consequence was the sugar high that lasted for what felt like a lifetime.

I tested that theory a few years ago, and those days are definitely over. I think the metabolic cut-off for that is about age 11.

I can recall. It was a rainy day, and I had just left my part time job at a clothing store. It was situated right next to a high end grocery store, which every girl scout knows is the mecca of selling cookies. I was hungry, my feet hurt, and the sweetest little Brownie, vest covered in patches she had earned, asked when the last time I had my favorite  cookie was.

You’re good, I thought. This little girl’s sales tactics are aggressive.

“Too long”, I said.  Out of respect, I bought a box of Caramel Delites, or “Samoas” as other regions know them.

I ate the whole box as I drove home. I still feel guilty when I think of that.

In my pursuit to recreate this cookie, but a much healthier version, my little truffle bites were born. This cookie is refined-sugar and guilt free. Added bonus: it’s vegan! If you miss the cookie but don’t have a crazy sweet tooth (I don’t), you can use the darkest chocolate available to balance out the coconut palm sugar. It’s absolutely delicious.

There’s really something to be said about all the silly things we feel guilty for. As you read this, you might think I’m crazy for feeling guilty about eating one box of cookies, 6 years ago. Then again, there’s probably things that everyone holds onto, feeling guilty, when from the outside it may seem quite silly. Though this cookie recipe may be small and simple, take it with a grain of salt (literally! Salt is so good on these things) and move forward from whatever little things make you feel guilty. It does you no good, harboring all these shameful thoughts about even the smallest of things…. if it’s so small, why not just chuck it and start over?

 

Paleo/Vegan “Caramel Delite” Bites

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Prep time: 45 min

Cook time: n/a

Yields 10-12

 

Ingredients

  • can full-fat coconut milk
  • ¾ cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips, vegan certified
  • ½ tsp course Himalayan sea salt

 

Instructions

  1. In a medium sized saucepan, combine the coconut milk and coconut sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently.
  2. Once boiling, turn the heat to low and let the mixture cook slowly. Continue to stir frequently, until reduced to a thicker, syrupy texture.. this should take about 30-35 minutes. It will continue to thicken as it cools. Remove from heat and stir in salt and vanilla extract.  Set pan aside to cool. (side note – once cooled, this can be stored in a jar for up to two weeks, wahoo!)
  3. Combine shredded coconut in a bowl with caramel sauce until mixed thoroughly. Place mixture in the freezer for 30 minutes, until it has solidified.
  4. Melt chocolate using double boiler. If not available, heat on VERY low heat right in a saucepan with a smidge (1/2 tsp) of coconut oil, so that it won’t stick or burn.
  5. Meanwhile, scoop out about 1-2 tablespoons of the coconut mix, and shape into a ball in your hands. Place on cookie sheet. Repeat with rest of mixture, leaving 1-2 inches of room between each ball.
  6. Once all the balls are formed, pour a spoonful of the still-hot chocolate over each, ensuring the chocolate spreads evenly… it may pool down the side, which is fine. Once all are covered, you could garnish with extra shredded coconut, or salt.
  7. Place back in the freezer for 10-15 minutes to allow to dry before serving. If storing long term, they really only need less than 5 minutes to thaw before you can eat them.

Enjoy!

-S

 

Raspberry Crumb Squares (Vegan, Paleo)

If I’m being honest, I am not a desserts/sweets person. I am not a skilled baker (or at least don’t consider myself one), and I don’t crave sugar. I barely enjoy chocolate. The exception to this, of course, is Easter, when I will actually eat an entire bag or two of Robin Egg malt-balls. This is followed by whining, bellyaching, swearing I’ll never do it again, and then doing it the following year. Remember that one time when I said I liked consistency? Yeah, that’s it.

This little number is a collaboration with my favorite little baker, Bri. Bri, my sassy sous chef/kitchen associate/future legal representation is, in fact, quite a skilled baker… which is why she can be so sassy. This girl knocked out HUNDREDS of homemade macaroons for a New Year’s Party (“It’ll only take a few days to make! No big deal, I swear!”), is the queen of a good chocolate cake, and has this inexplicable connection with her KitchenAid mixer… move over, Jesus; this girl may not turn water into wine, but she might turn it into some cream puffs. Those two would throw a great afternoon tea.

And so – with her taking the lead on dessert, these delicious little squares came about. They are Paleo, Vegan, and a perfect treat that’s not too sweet. We were feeling really granola and farm-to-table this day, so we used raspberries from the garden outside. Some were black, some yellow, but the majority of which were red, giving it this really nice color. Adding chia seeds made up for the lack of volume in berries we had on hand, since the jam thickened and increased the volume once the chia seeds absorbed some moisture.

IMG_1122.JPGThis recipe, while it has no true cultural ties to celebrate and lacks an inherent spiritual message within the food itself, is about having help when you need it. There’s always extra helping hands in the kitchen on Sundays, but sometimes it’s good to just let Bri (or Jesus) take the wheel and make the dessert. Let people shine where they will and share the responsibilities – it makes it easier on everyone 🙂 This recipe is broken up into 3 parts – the crust, filling and topping. Since most of this needs to cool, separately, I try to do whatever I can while each is set aside.

Vegan/Paleo Raspberry Crumb Squares

Ingredients

Filling

  • 2 cups fresh raspberries – can use frozen if you want
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp raw honey or maple syrup
  • ~1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds

Crust

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp water
  • ¼ tsp sea salt

Crumb topping

  • 1 cup pecans
  • ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp salt

Directions

  1. You can start with the filling, since this needs to cool the most. In a medium sized pan, mix raspberries, lemon juice, zest and honey. Heat over medium high heat until it starts to simmer/bubble. Let cook for 2-3 minutes, then turn heat to low. With a wooden spoon, break up the berries into a mash. Continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes, then remove from heat.
  2. Stir in the chia seeds, and continue to let cool. If you want to do this step ahead of time, you can allow the raspberry mixture to cool overnight – we let it cool for about an hour while we made everything else.
  3. Once you’ve done your jam filling, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a small square pan (We had a 9x9in – anything bigger and your crust will be too thin!).
  4. Mix together almond flour, coconut oil, vanilla, maple syrup, water and salt in a food processor. Pulse on high power until texture is crumbly. Press mixture evenly to the bottom of the pan, making sure there are no air bubbles. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Set aside.
  5. Now, for the crumb mixture on top,  add the pecans, coconut, coconut sugar, coconut oil, maple syrup and salt to the food processor and pulse until crumbly…. for about 10-15 seconds.
  6. Get your jam filling back out, and spread it over the crust. Add the crumb mixture on top.
  7. Place back in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until the crumble turns golden brown.
  8. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Slice into squares and enjoy!

🙂

-S

Paleo Lemon-Poppyseed Muffins with Raspberry Drizzle

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While I probably shouldn’t start this post off having you doubt my baking abilities as I tell you to bake something, I will say that I am REALLY surprised these came out, because  I cook. I usually only cook. Because I. Cannot. Bake. Well, I couldn’t, at least not until today. Chalk this up to a victory!

Sundays are a weekly tradition of cooking a huge meal and inviting everyone over. The Sunday crew folks are my guinea-pigs, which so far has worked out quite well. I usually experiment with some crazy flavors, and so far, no one has complained, thrown up or died… so we keep it going. The family pastry chef was en route back home from a fun weekend up at Penn State for Arts Fest, so I had to step in and whip something up. I don’t have a sweet tooth, so fruit it was. Lo and behold – these babies were born. I lucked out, they came out pretty good in the first batch… even added a little coconut to give them a summery flavor. Even still, I don’t have any aspirations to own a bakery…. So these will do for now. And they’re paleo, wahoo!

One fun addition to these is the salt I used in the muffins… I really love salt. I could’ve been a farm animal in another life, with their little salt blocks they have. Years ago, I can remember being too young to drive myself to the local saddlery, so my mom would take me to go get supplies for the horses; treats, supplements, a salt lick, etc. I was sitting in the front seat of my mom’s car holding one of the blocks, wondering if it really just tasted like salt.

For the record, yes, it does. Yes, my mom was horrified. And yes, I just admitted to licking a salt block for horses. Final thought: 7 out of 10, would do it again. But, I digress.

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This salt, by Gourmet Himalayan in California, is a mix of vanilla beans and Himalayan sea salt, which is a fun addition to baked goods, or maybe even some salted caramel chocolate? I sense another experiment coming up.

The best part about using raspberries in recipes like this is because they’re in season, it’s summer, and it makes SUCH an amazing color that these pictures don’t really do it justice. This time of year is such a great time to experiment with dinner and dessert. Everything is ripe, the colors are amazing and vibrant… there’s nothing like eating dinner outside on the deck, barefoot, listening to all the little birds as the sun goes down. If you’re ever feeling like you’re moving too fast, or don’t have enough time to slow down, just grab a muffin and go sit outside and stare at a freaking tree… instant calm.  Once you’re out there, it’s that much easier to see that there’s just so much to be thankful for.

Paleo Lemon-Poppyseed Muffins with Raspberry Drizzle

Prep time: 40 min

Cook time: 20 min

Note: fruit could probably be added to these, but also adds moisture. For about ¾-1 cup of fruit, I might add another tablespoon or two of almond flour to absorb. Riper Fruit = more watery.

For the muffins:

  • 1 1/3 cup almond flour
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp Himalayan vanilla salt
  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1/4 cup of raw honey
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice (not the bottled stuff!), plus zest of 2 lemons. This required about 2-3 lemons with a really good juicer
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the sauce:

  • ¾ cup raspberries
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tsp honey
  • ½ tsp arrowroot powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix honey, lemon juice, ¾ of the lemon zest (leave a little for the garnish), coconut milk, eggs, coconut oil and vanilla extract together in a bowl.
  3. Separately in another bowl, mix the flower, shredded coconut, coconut flour, baking soda, baking powder, sea salt and poppy seeds.
  4. Combine the ingredients and let stand for a few minutes to let the dry ingredients soak everything in.
  5. In a greased muffin pan, fill the cups about 2/3 the way full. Paper liners stick to these, so I would recommend using just a regular muffin pan.
  6. Bake about 18-20 minutes. To test if they’re done, stick a toothpick of a knife in one; nothing should stick to it if they’re done baking.
  7. Meanwhile, as the muffins are baking, heat the raspberries, water and honey in a pan on medium low heat until it begins to bubble, about 2-3 minutes. Turn to low and let stew for another 2-3 minutes.
  8. Once the berries soften, add to a mixer or blender and pulse until consistent texture… this didn’t take more than a few pulses, as there wasn’t a lot of berries and a Vitamix is super aggressive.
  9. Return mixture to pan on medium low heat, stirring in arrowroot powder slowly. Unlike corn starch, this doesn’t stay clumpy so you can usually add it right to what you’re cooking. However – it thickens VERY quickly when heated, so make sure you stir it in right away, and continue to stir until you use it!

The muffins should be done around the same time as this sauce, so once you have them out of the oven, drizzle the mixture over-top immediately. A little melting and dripping makes them pretty, so no need to let them cool before adding the drizzle.

Sprinkle the remaining lemon zest over them and serve. Enjoy!

-S