Monday, November 17, 2014

Vanilla Whipped Sweet Potatoes [Paleo & Gluten-Free]

With Thanksgiving coming up my mind is running wild with all the amazing side dishes I could make. Side dishes are my favorite part of Thanksgiving and I have a tendency to want to make as many as possible - traditional side dishes, non-traditional side dishes, experimental side dishes. This Thanksgiving my mind is going a little insane with all the ideas for sweet potato side dishes. Sweet potatoes might be one of my favorite foods and they really shine during Thanksgiving. While I keep coming back to the idea of doing a big batch of these individual scalloped sweet potatoes, my husband has convinced me to keep it simple for this Thanksgiving with some delicious vanilla whipped sweet potatoes.

You see my dear husband thinks that with us hosting our first Thanksgiving at our house I may have a tendency to go a bit overboard. Maybe not plan my time too well, or make a proper oven schedule, and maybe try to experiment a bit too much. I think he's a little insane to think this, but between you and me - he might be a little right. Just a little.

Which is why it is key to have an easy and delicious side dish in your Thanksgiving arsenal. These vanilla whipped sweet potatoes are an elegant side dish, despite their inability to be photogenic. They are simple to make and won't take up any oven space on the big day (if you bake the sweet potatoes the day ahead) and they will still impress your guests.

The idea for these came about after tasting the most delicious sweet potatoes at a favorite restaurant of ours and I thought to myself why not replicate this delicious concoction. These sweet potatoes involve minimal ingredients, but pack a big punch. The food processor is key to get the proper whipped texture and use a real vanilla bean. See those little black specks? That's the vanilla bean magic right there. 

Vanilla Whipped Sweet Potatoes 

Serves 4-6 (recipe doubles easily)

2 large sweet potatoes
1-2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean - split and seeds scraped (Get Instructions)
2-4 tablespoons milk of your choice (coconut, almond, regular milk)
1-2 tablespoons coconut sugar or brown sugar (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Prick sweet potatoes and wrap in tinfoil. Bake sweet potatoes in oven until tender. Time varies depending on size of sweet potatoes. 30-45 minutes. 

Cut open baked sweet potatoes and scrape out the flesh of the sweet potatoes and add to the bowl of a food processor. Add vanilla extract and coconut sugar. Cut open the vanilla bean and scrape out the tiny black seeds into the bowl of the food processor. Run food processor and slowly pour in milk until desired consistency is reached. 

Serve warm. These can be made the day ahead and be reheated in the microwave, oven, or on the stove on the day that you want to serve them. 

Love, Luck, and Happiness! Happy Thanksgiving! 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Ginger Watermelon Sangria with Basil

Watermelon. Juicy watermelon. The quintessental healthy summer treat. I feel like as a champion for health I should love watermelon... but... I don't. I just don't. I'm sorry! But you know what is delicious? Watermelon juice. 

I know what you are thinking. Watermelons are basically all juice, so how could I not like watermelon but like watermelon juice? 

Well, funny thing - it could be because watermelon juice makes an excellent mixer. Like... for... alcoholic drinks. Instantly making me like watermelon juice. Also, by nature it then makes the alcoholic drink healthy, right?

YES. Also, watermelon juice makes the most amazing sangria when mixed with rosé, ginger, and basil. So delicious. And yes, I know fall is pretty much here, but it's still one hundred and fifty degrees where I live and summer is glorious (despite the plant killing, death inducing heat in this town) so why not enjoy the last of summer sipping on this refreshing cocktail!

To make this recipe I teamed up with Williams-Sonoma, which by the way is like being a kid in a candy store when you go into that place. It's amazing. I want everything. I've particularly had my eye on the many juicers they carry, not just for the purposes of making delicious elixirs for sangria, but also to juice some green stuff to make up for all the delicious sangria I may consume. :)

Ginger Watermelon Sangria with Basil 

Makes 8-10 drinks

1 bottle of dry rosé
1 1/4 cup watermelon juice (about half a small watermelon)
1 cup chopped watermelon cubes
1 cup soda water
2 ounces (2 shots) triple sec
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
12 basil leaves

Start by juicing the watermelon. I used a watermelon with seeds and cut around the seeds. I cube the watermelon and add it to my ninja blender. Any blender should work fine though, watermelon is pretty soft. Just don't blend the seeds I find that a seedless watermelon means you have to blend the little white seeds and I don't like that. 

Blend half of one watermelon in your blender. Run the juice through either a juice / nut milk bag, cheese cloth, or fine mesh sieve to get rid of some of the pulp. Measure out 1 1/4 cups watermelon juice and save the rest for later... maybe a spin on these vodka cocktails?

In a large pitcher combine the bottle of rosé (I used Whole Foods brand), 1 1/4 cup watermelon juice, 1 cup soda water, 2 ounces triple sec, 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger. Taste - add more ginger if desired. 

Chop half the basil leaves and add to the mixture. Add watermelon cubes and stir. Refrigerate and serve chilled. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Paleo Brownie Bites - Link Party

Hi ladies and gentlemen! I'm teaming up today with to bring you one of my favorite paleo snack recipes. These paleo brownie bites are delicious for breakfast, as a snack, as a dessert, heck even for lunch or dinner! :)

Click on the badge below to see all the other great 30 minute paleo recipes and make these brownie bites today and you can thank me later! 

Fast and Easy Paleo Recipes

It's got to be every woman's, blogger's, and most likely man's dream to be able to eat sweets and call them healthy. I'm here to make your dreams come true with delicious paleo brownie bites that are void of flour, refined sugar, and butter and are still so freaking good! It's for reals, guys. And did I mention they are super easy to make and are no bake. You can whip them up pretty fast, but there is some resting time required for the dough. Your total work time though should be no more than 20 to 30 minutes! Also they freeze wonderfully.

Seriously, these are amazing. Amazing fudgy goodness. Whether you are paleo or not, vegan or not, these are insanely good and so easy to make! So you MUST make them. Do. It. Now. xoxo

Paleo Brownie Bites

adapted from Averie Cooks
makes 12 - one inch balls

2/3 cup raw walnut halves and pieces
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 heaping cup soft medjool dates, pitted (about 17 - 20 medium sized dates)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons coconut milk OR any liquid sweetener, like honey, agave, or maple syrup if you want your brownie bites to be sweeter. I used coconut milk and thought the brownie bites were perfectly sweet. 

2/3 cups shredded unsweetened coconut

Pulse coconut in food processor for 30 seconds to a minute to form coconut crumbs. Remove from food processor and set aside.

Place pitted dates in a bowl of warm water for a minute to soften them up.

Add unsweetened cocoa powder and walnuts to food processor, blend until walnuts become fine crumbs, but do not over process or you will get some kind of chocolate walnut butter. 

Drain dates and place in the food processor with the cocoa walnut crumbs. Add vanilla. Process until mixture starts to combine. It may not fully combine until liquid is added. Add coconut milk or liquid sweetener (if desired) half a tablespoon at a time. Pulse. You will know the consistency is right when the dough combines into a ball in the middle of the food processor. 

If dough is too runny add a tablespoon or more cocoa powder to bring it back to a dough like state. 

Transfer dough to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Cold dough is much easier to work with. I left my dough in the fridge over night. You could put it in the freezer if you need to speed the process up. 

Once dough is cold, put coconut crumbs from earlier into a shallow bowl. Scoop heaping tablespoons of dough and roll them between hands to form balls. Roll balls in coconut crumbs, pressing the crumbs gently into the ball. Continue until all dough is gone. You can moisten your hands with water if the dough begins to stick to your palms as you roll.

Keep chilled, they taste best that way. Bites will keep in fridge for quite some time, and freeze well also. 

They are soooo good!!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Grilled Meatballs {Paleo & Gluten Free}

Summertime is my favorite time of the year! The weather, the food, the sun. The food. The yummy, charred, grilled food. After some scary mishaps with our old grill (read: fire), I finally figured out how to use the new one! Turns out all you have to do is turn a little nozzle, turn the dials and press a button. It might even be easier than turning on the oven! And since I live in the fiery depths of the center of the Earth, or at least that is what the weather leads you to believe, it is beneficial for all involved that live in our house, that I don't turn on the oven in the summertime. Problem was, I really wanted to make meatballs. Delicious paleo, gluten-free meatballs. But, meatballs, generally require ovens. That is until I decided to grill them. Yes, grilled meatballs. Meatballs on the grill. 

Side Note! After 4.5 continuous years of dating, 6.5 years of off and on dating, over 11 years of knowing each other, and almost 2 years of marriage - my lovely husband told me that he "doesn't really like meatballs." My response was not good. I proceeding to spend the next two hours of our evening dissecting this 5 word declaration of treason. 

It started with my very high pitched response, "You don't like MY meatballs!!!???" 
"No, I said I don't like meatballs. Like, I've never really liked meatballs most of my life."
"Ok, but the only meatballs you've been eating in the last 4 and half years are MY meatballs, MY delicious mozzarella stuffed meatballs that are practically famous and adored by all who have ever ate them. So what I think you are saying is that you don't like MY meatballs."
"No, I like those meatballs. Those are good."
"So, you like meatballs? So that first statement was a lie. You lied to me."

It went on like that for quite some time, but I'll spare you the details as it was mainly me repeating myself over and over until Adam finally admitted that meatballs are now his favorite food. #winning 

(I also told him these meatballs were sliders without the bun. Shhhh.)

The first time I made these meatballs was for a family dinner party. I managed to snap a few photos before we shoveled these into our mouths and proclaimed how good they were as we loaded our plates with a second helping. Then I made these meatballs for a second time with the intention of photographing them properly for you, but the "I don't like meatballs" conversation kinda wasted away the majority of the daylight. Alas, I can no longer keep this delicious recipe from you. So use your imagine to make these pictures look intensely enticing, because trust me this is one recipe you must make. 

 {Meatballs shown with: (in the front) Parsnip Latkes, (middle) Grilled Patty Pan Squash, Meatballs, Tzatziki Sauce, and Caprese Salad}

Grilled Meatballs with Easy Tzatziki 

Serves 6 - possibly 8

For the meatballs:
2 lbs lean ground beef (I recommend grass-fed beef)
1 small-ish Vidalia onion or brown onion 
1 zucchini
1 garlic clove 
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon dry thyme
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil (optional, I have made it without this and they are still delicious)
olive oil for brushing and grilling
sea salt for finishing 

For the tzatziki: 
*recipe can be doubled*

1 cup Greek yogurt (any percentage of fat is fine)
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cucumber sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste.

Line a baking sheet with tin foil. Brush a thin layer of olive oil on the tin foil.

Shred your zucchini using a hand grater or the shredding attachment on your food processor. Place shredded zucchini in a paper towel to absorb excess moisture. Set aside.

Clean out food processor if using. Cut up your onion into chunks and place it in food processor with garlic. Process into a purée. Place mixture in a fine mesh sieve set over the sink or a bowl to allow excess water to drain away. You can also grate the onion and garlic with a hand grater if you would like. 

Place zucchini, drained onion, garlic powder, salt, pepper, thyme, and basil in a bowl. Mix well. I use my hands. Add ground beef and mix again, using hands to incorporate the ingredients evenly. 

Using a medium sized ice cream scoop - mine is stated at being 5 cm and producing meatballs about the size of golf balls - scoop out even sized balls and place on oiled cookie sheet. Press each meatball just slightly down to make it a little flatter. 

Once you have all your meatballs scooped, brush each with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.

Prepare your grill on medium heat. 

Make your tzatziki. In a clean food processor or blender combine, yogurt, minced clove of garlic, sliced cucumbers, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Blend until everything is well mixed and cucumber is minced. Some larger slices or chunks are ok too! Place in a bowl and set in the fridge to chill and relax and let all the flavors blend. 

Once your grill is hot, brush grill grates with olive oil. Grill meatballs. About 5-7 minutes per side, or until meat is cooked through or to your liking. Serve with tzatziki. 


Love, Luck, Happiness, and Grilling! 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Skinny Sneaky Greens Shepherd's Pie {Gluten Free and Paleo}

Here's a recipe for you just in time for Saint Patrick's Day! And it goes perfectly with all that beer you, errr, I plan to drink, but won't make you feel quite as guilty as that beer will. But first a little story about my history with shepherd's pie.

It wasn't until about three years ago that I even knew what shepherd's pie was. I had my first taste of shepherd's pie at a friends house on Saint Patrick's day and I was hooked. Something about the mix of meat and potatoes (Adam's favorite combination of foods). But me, I like the peas! Why do peas get such a bad rap? They really are quite delicious. I'll never get why people don't like to eat their peas.

 When Adam and I started eating paleo it was super simple to transition shepherd's pie into a paleo shepherd's pie by subbing mashed cauliflower for the potatoes. And while we have sort of made it a hobby of going to Irish / English restaurants on the hunt for the best shepherd's pie in town (there's not a lot to do where we live), I always come back to the conclusion that my shepherd's pie is the best.

But up until recently, I never really followed a recipe. I just kind of winged it. Then I came across my friend Gina's recipe from So Let's Hang Out and everything changed. It's perfection. I've made it quite a few times and I finally came up with a variation of it that I want to share with you! Gina mixes in kale and spinach to her cauli mash, but I keep getting mustard greens in my farmer's box and I needed to be a little bit sneakier to get Adam to eat those. So I chopped them small and added them to the meat. The same green veggie that Adam called "seaweed" and ate around the week before he happily ate in this shepherd's pie.

I hope you enjoy this sneaky greens, skinny shepherd's pie as much as Adam and I do. And it's paleo and gluten free! With this shepherd's pie this Saint Patrick's day you only have to feel guilty for all the beer you drink, not the food you eat!

Skinny Sneaky Greens Shepherd's Pie

Adapted from So Let's Hang Out 
6-8 Servings

1 pound grass-fed beef (if not using grass-fed use lean ground beef)
3 medium carrots, chopped
1 onion, diced
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 bunch of mustard greens, chopped into tiny pieces (about 1 heaping cup chopped)
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1/ 4 teaspoon sweet paprika
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste
1 cup beef broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
dash of worcestershire
1 cup peas (thawed)

Cauli Mash:
1 large head cauliflower
1 tablespoon butter (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup greek yogurt*
1 tablespoon half and half*

*To make this truly paleo and dairy free sub 1/4 cup veggie or chicken broth or coconut milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

And olive oil to a large pan or dutch oven. Add chopped carrots and onions. Cook for about 10 minutes until onions are translucent. 

Once onions are translucent, add meat to the pan and brown. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drain any oil. With the grass-fed beef I just need to take a paper towel and blot some of the oil out of the pan. Add the chopped mustard greens and minced garlic. Cook for 2 minutes until they begin to wilt and garlic browns. Add the thyme, rosemary, paprika, dash of worcestershire, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, and 1 cup beef broth. Mix well. 

Allow the mixture to cook down and the sauce to thicken, about 10 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. This is an important step! You will need to add salt to your liking. Add the peas and cook for 1 more minute.

While all this is happening, heat up a some water in a large pot with a steamer basket. Once water is boiling add the whole head of cauliflower. Cook for 20 - 30 minutes until very tender. 

Spread meat mixture in a medium sized glass baking pan or a large oven safe skillet.

Carefully remove steamed cauliflower and cut away leaves and large stems. Add cauliflower florets, along with small stems, to a food processor. Add butter (if using), salt, pepper, and greek yogurt or liquid of your choice. Again, you will want to make sure you add salt and pepper! Take the cauliflower for a whirl in the food processor, add additional liquid (half and half or whatever your preference) until a good consistency is reached. Mashed cauliflower will be thinner than regular mashed potatoes. 

Spread mashed cauliflower over meat mixture. Sprinkle with sweet paprika if desired.

Bake at 375 for 30 minutes until top begins to turn golden. 

Enjoy the best shepherd's pie you've ever had packed with sneaky greens! 

Love, Luck, Happiness, and Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

P.S. Last Saint Patty's Day Recipe - Colcannon with a Twist

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Paleo Copycat Orange Julius

Every other week I get a produce box from Abundant Harvest Organics. It's pretty awesome. Lately I've been getting a lot of oranges, and to be honest I don't really know what to do with them. I mean, the obvious answer is eat them, but I'm not really a fan of oranges just by themselves, plus peeling them is kinda annoying. I think I might be the only one that shares that sentiment, well besides Adam he hasn't made a move to peel an orange and pop it in his mouth. 

So our orange peeling laziness has resulted in an excess amount of oranges in our fruit drawer. The obvious answer was orange juice, but I wanted to take it step further. It's been years since I've had a frosty yummy Orange Julius. Remember those from the mall? Oh man, they were good. But probably packed with sugar and a bunch of other crap. So why not make one with simple, wholesome, paleo ingredients?

This is the real deal, creamy, orange-y, sweet, and delicious! I made it for Adam and then I drank most of it. Lucky for him we still have a ton of oranges.

Paleo Copycat Orange Julius 

1 serving

1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (I used 1 1/2 oranges)
1/2 cup full fat coconut milk from the can (not the box!)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 -1 cup crushed ice

Add all ingredients to a blender. Blend until smooth. Add ice as needed to get the consistency you like.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Gooey Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies [Chickpea Cookies - Gluten / Grain Free]

Want to know the hardest part about food blogging? Let me start by telling you it's not the taste testing or the trying of new recipes or anything having to do with eating. But rather it's the planning when you can eat that tasty treat you just made. You see, cooking - specifically baking - urges hit me at the strangest times. Like when I'm three beers deep on a Saturday night during a The Following marathon and it may or may not be close to midnight.  

I mean, who doesn't crave some gooey delicious grain free chocolate peanut butter cookies made with chickpeas (or are they garbanzo beans!?) at midnight when mildly drunk and watching a show about a creepy murderer? In my mind midnight cookies are always a good thing. But... because you obviously need the most perfect wonderful photos of the most photogenic cookie (yeah, the one you just shoved into your drunk pie hole), cookies at midnight aren't always the best idea when it comes to food blogging. 

But I just had to share this recipe with you, like now. You will be shocked, like shocked your socks off kind of shocked, that these cookies contain chickpeas, no flour, no butter, and no refined sugar. They are the perfect healthy treat for when you craving something gooey, soft, and cookie dough like. Which brings me back to my original point. I wanted to show you the gooey delightfulness, but I had to wait for the sun to come back out. Damn sleeping sun. And by then my chocolate wasn't all melty and I had eaten over half the cookies. Yes, the most photogenic ones - they taste the best you know. So I tried to solve the problem by giving them a quick little jaunt in the microwave (please microwave haters cut me a break!) turns out the microwave dried them out and I couldn't get my gooey look (you win microwave haters, you win). 

So you only have one option. You must make these in order to fully understand the delicious soft gooey goodness that is chickpea cookies. 

Gooey Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Chickpea Cookies 

Makes about 16 - 18
adapted from Texanerin Baking 

1 - 15 oz can chickpeas (garbanzo beans) - should be 1 1/2 cups chickpeas. 
1/2 cup natural peanut butter or any other nut butter
1/4 cup maple syrup (I used Grade B Pure Maple Syrup)
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
a pinch of salt 
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with a silicon baking mat or parchment paper. 

Drain and rinse your chickpeas. At this point I like to squeeze each chickpea between my fingers to remove the clear "skin" that is on them. It is simple to do but adds an extra 5 to 10 minutes of time. It is completely optional, but I find that taking the skins off makes the batter smoother. This left me with 1 1/2 cups of chickpeas. This is the amount you need. 

In a food processor or blender (I tried this in my mini food processor once and it was just too much for it to handle, so use a regular food processor or powerful blender) combine the chickpeas, peanut butter, maple syrup, baking powder, vanilla, and salt. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. 

Either pulse in your chocolate chips or fold them into the batter. Using slightly damp hands (this helps to keep the batter from sticking) roll batter into ping pong to golf ball sized balls. Try to keep the sizing consistent. Place on your baking sheet. You can squish them down a little bit if you want flatter cookies or keep them as balls. Bake for 10 minutes. They will get a little golden color, but you don't want to overbake them so you aren't looking for a deep golden color. You want them to be moist and gooey. 

Enjoy warm or at room temperature! Store in an airtight container on your counter.