Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

01f35d000b8abef17d3b9fc5fccc3ee233fd2f17e8This is hands-down the best grain-free baked good recipe I’ve found to date – another gem from PaleOMG.com. We’re hosting a Halloween celebration at our place tonight, so thought I’d make something a little extra special. These muffins are all natural, grain-free, and crazy good. They even turned out pretty fluffy, which is a main complaint I have about a lot of grain-free recipes. Almond meal recipes especially turn out quite dense.

A note about coconut flour: The fiber in coconut flour really soaks up moisture in a recipe so you need less than regular flours. Measure the same way you would with regular flour – no packing! The suggested conversion rate between coconut flour and other flours is a little complicated and still probably won’t turn out the same in this recipe, but if you want to have a go, let me know and I can help with the amounts.

Click here for the recipe on PaleOMG. It is written to make about 1/2 dozen muffins. So in case you are interested in making more like two dozen muffins, I’m going to include the quadrupled recipe here as well to save you the brain workin’!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/3 cups maple syrup
  • 1 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 12 eggs, whisked
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 cups regular or mini chocolate chips (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Mix together wet ingredients in a bowl: pumpkin puree, maple syrup, coconut oil, eggs, and vanilla extract.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together coconut flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, powdered ginger, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix well.
  5. Fold in chocolate chips if using. Today I separated the batter into halves and used 1 cup of chocolate chips in one half and left the other half plain.
  6. Line a muffin tin with paper liners. Use a measuring cup or ice cream scoop to fill muffin cups – these muffins won’t rise too much so you can fill them pretty full.
  7. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Makes at least 2 dozen muffins.

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I made the mistake of using the extra batter to make a dozen mini muffins, and now they are just sitting there, all adorable-looking, just waiting to be snacked on. Well, about half of them are waiting…the other half no longer exist. I have to say, I REALLY like the chocolate chips in this recipe! Can’t wait for everyone to try them tonight. Happy Halloween!

Recipe credit: PaleOMG.com

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Baklava Cheesecake

We recently hosted a birthday party for a good friend of ours, Jack. When we were planning said party and asked Jack what sort of birthday dessert he would like, he asked for chocolate cake. Sam said “Jack, that’s fine and all, but Lolo really loves to cook, and very rarely gets to bake since we don’t eat a lot of baked goods at home. You can really ask for something more than just chocolate cake.” Later I received a text message probing about the possibility of cheesecake. Now, I make a mean cheesecake. It’s my mom’s recipe, with lots of sour cream in it and chocolate sauce marbled in to the top. I have no idea how many times I’ve made it, its a piece of cake (so to speak). Then I get another text. “How about baklava cheesecake? Is such a thing even possible?” Uhhh…googling…yup, apparently it is possible, damn you. And so, I promised to take on the challenge of making the most complicated dessert I’ve ever made. And I did. And it was awesome.

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DISCLAIMER: THIS CAKE TAKES LIKE TWO DAYS TO MAKE. DOWNLOAD A GOOD AUDIOBOOK.

Click here for the recipe link!

The recipe itself is quite long, and I did follow it almost exactly. Here are my notes from where I deviated:

  • I did not worry about clarifying the butter, just used regular unsalted butter that I melted in the microwave, and it turned out great.
  • For the initial crust, I found that the pieces of phyllo dough were not long enough to cover the entire bottom of the pan and leave a 5″ overhang as the recipe suggests. So instead I rotated the pan slightly with each piece of dough, placing it so that the top edge of the dough met up with the top edge of the springform pan, overlapping the pieces so eventually there was full coverage on the bottom and sides of the springform pan. I then poured the cake batter in the pan, and made a separate top for the cake out of phyllo dough rounds. I cut out the rounds (after buttering and layering on parchment paper) by putting a 10-inch dinner plate upside down on the stack of dough and tracing the outside with a pizza cutter. Then I placed the dough rounds right on top of the cheesecake. Here is what it looked like after baking and after I removed the springform ring:
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Our friend Zach saw this and said “Ah, the old paper bag pie. My favorite.”

  • I ended up using one whole package of phyllo dough from World Market. I’ve also seen it at Trader Joes and at Sprouts.
  • From prior experience I will warn you, do NOT used reduced fat cream cheese for the cake, it just won’t turn out the same!
  • I used pistachios instead of walnuts in the baklava filling. Yum!
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I used the springform ring suggestion to spread the almonds and pistachios, worked like a charm.01a075578e20b6b0f9bd5384987230b9875c409904I used a pizza cutter to cut the top layer of phyllo dough over the baklava filling, and a sharp knife to get right up to the edges of the pan.

  • I was out of cinnamon sticks, so for the syrup I just sprinkled in some ground cinnamon and it turned out great.
  • I bought an airplane bottle of Remy Martin VSOP cognac since I didn’t need a whole bottle, and it was $1.99 at Total Wine.
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Just came out of the oven, about to cool for an hour then go into the fridge!

Whew! There you have it. My Paleo, no carb, super healthy cake. Nah, just kidding. It’s good to cheat once in a while. Seriously though, I have never been so nervous putting something in the oven, but it turned out better than expected. I have to admit that I was skeptical about putting so much fresh lemon juice into a cheesecake, but letting it sit overnight really made the flavor very smooth. It also seemed very appropriate with the baklava pairing. The cake really tasted even better after it had sat for two days. I would definitely make it again – now that I’ve done it once I’m less scared of the phyllo dough and I know the process would be much faster the second time around. I love my sour cream cheesecake as a quick and delicious option, and Sam and I agreed that the the baklava cheesecake was just as good, just very different. And most importantly, the birthday boy loved it!

Recipe Credit: thebakingpan.com

Sam’s Zucchini Benedict

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This is Sam’s favorite breakfast of all time (so far), and since I get a recipe named after me, I supposed my primary tester should get one too. This is a pretty hearty breakfast for having no bread – lots of egg and butter, fresh organic zucchini, and a potentially fantastic bacon vessel. Yes, bacon. Some day when we are eating meat again (which sounds like will not be that far off) I am going to put so much bacon on this. Responsibly-farmed, lived-a-happy-life bacon of course 🙂

BACON UPDATE: Can confirm – this is excellent with bacon. As if there was any doubt that it would be.

I have a serious addiction to eggs Benedict, and I am extremely picky when it comes to Hollandaise. A great Hollandaise seems to be a diamond in the rough, and I could count for you on one hand the restaurants that have actually impressed me. Every time I see eggs Benedict on a breakfast menu I want to order it, and every time Sam says no, reminding me that I am disappointed every time. Then I get mad at him, because I’m probably hangry by this point, and all I really want is some delish eggs Benedict. Then someone else orders it, I try a bite, and…damn. He’s right again. I secretly breathe a sigh of relief that I did not order it, then maaaaybe I’ll admit it to Sam a couple days later.  Anywho, I made a pretty legit version of Hollandaise a couple years ago with a double boiler, and it is time-intensive and difficult to get just the right thing. This discouraged me from using it at home. Then recently I discovered that – and stay with me here – making Hollandaise with a blender is a thing. Yes, it sounds sketchy! Yes, I was SUPER skeptical. And yes, it is super delicious. It takes about three minutes to make and even keeps well in the fridge.

Next roadblock: We don’t eat bread at home! English muffins out the window. How do you have a delish Benedict with no bread? Zucchini to the rescue! This recipe for zucchini fritters is very savory and takes advantage of the leftover egg whites from making the Hollandaise sauce. Fun fact: Zucchini and yellow squash are some of the most highly modified GMO products on the market, so going organic is especially important to us.

Finally, a word about time management. This three to four part recipe (depending on the bacon!) is time and labor instensive. I would highly recommend an assistant (promise them extra bacon). If you don’t have an assistant, then follow this order: Make the Hollandaise. Leave sitting in blender. Mix up the zucchini cakes. Warm up griddle, and throw on your first batch. While those are cooking, warm up egg poaching water. Poach eggs. Just before plating, whip up the Hollandaise one more time with the blender and you’re good to go!

Hollandaise Ingredients

  • 3 egg yolks (save those whites for the zucchini fritters!)
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1-3 dashes hot sauce (Franks & Cholula work great)
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

Hollandaise Directions

  1. In a blender, add the egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice, and hot sauce,  then cover and blend well.
  2. Turn the blender down to medium and remove the small center part of the cover.
  3. While the blender is running, slowly pour in the melted butter. The sauce will thicken immediately.
  4. Next verrry carefully pour the sau- oh wait – you’re already done. YUP, it’s that easy.

Store leftover sauce in a sealed container in the fridge. Don’t ever directly re-heat it in the microwave or in a saucepan as it will start to cook and harden. Instead, either sandwich between two hot food items to melt it down, or place the container it is in into a bowl of hot water to heat it ambiently.

Zucchini Fritter Ingredients

  • 2-3 organic zucchini
  • 2 green onions, thinly slicedZucchini Cakes
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • Ground pepper to taste
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 1/2 Tbsp butter

Zucchini Fritter Directions

  1. Cut off ends of zucchini, wash, and grate. I use the grating attachment on my food processor, gets the job done in about ten seconds! Get rid of excess moisture by putting in a cheesecloth and squeezing. Alternatively, lay grated zucchini out on paper towel or a kitchen towel, and using another towel over the top squeeze out as much moisture as you can.
  2. Put the zucchini in a large mixing bowl, add the rest of the ingredients, and stir together.
  3. Heat butter over medium heat in a cast iron skillet, or other pan/griddle. If you are using bacon, cook the bacon first and use the grease instead of butter!
  4. Using a large fork or slotted spoon, scoop the zucchini mixture on to the skillet in 3-4 inch pancakes. Allow to cook for 4-5 minutes, flip, and cook for another 4-5 minutes. You want both sides to be nice and brown and crispy!

And now, for the scary part…

Click here for egg poaching directions. It’s not really scary. I followed this the first time I attempted a poached egg, and it turned out perfectly! There are shortcuts like using muffin tins in an oven, but you can’t get exactly the right texture and done-ness without doing it the right way 😉 If you’ve never poached an egg, this will make you feel very fancy! 4 minutes on the dot for a runny yolk, or flip it over in the water and leave in for another thirty seconds if you prefer it a little more done.

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My first poached egg! This was just after the water stopped swirling, right about when it started looking extra weird.

When everything is ready and you’ve perfectly poached your eggs (I believe in you!) put two zucchini cakes on a plate, top each with a poached egg, spoon some Hollandaise over everything, and top with a little fresh ground pepper. If you’re adding bacon, I imagine that I’d stick a couple crispy slices right between the zucchini and the egg 🙂 BACON UPDATE: I did. It was amazing. If you have enough leftovers for the next day, it works really well to make a Benedict sandwich with the zucchini cakes to warm up your Hollandaise. Bon appétit!

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Mmm, benny sandwich!

Recipe Credit: chellebelle @ AllRecipes.com for the Hollandaise, Deb @ smittenkitchen.com for the egg poaching directions.

Lolo’s Kale Salad

Yes, I am naming this after myself. As I sat at my desk five minutes ago, inhaling an entire batch and licking the plate clean, I thought to myself, “Yes…yes, this is the one. It shall proudly bear the name Lolo, and all will know the wonders of kale bathed in peanut buttery goodness…” Anyway, it was inspired by the kale peanut slaw at a restaurant here in Phoenix called Hillstone, and I’ve created my own even-more-peanuty version that is tried, tested, and ready to share! Oh man, just look at it. Rrnnghhghh, so good.

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The wide world of kale is varied and delicious. I’ve done this salad with only green curly kale, with green and red (really pretty!), and with green and Tuscan. I’d go with whatever you can find at your grocery store, and extra mom points if you make it colorful! I’ve also mixed green kale with green and red cabbage, and I find that the strong flavor of raw cabbage gets to be a bit much for me when I am eating this salad in such absurd quantities. But if you are in to that sort of thing then I would recommend giving it a shot.

KALE TIPS & TRICKS:

  • When ripping the leaves off the stems, hold stalk right-side-up, grasping the top of the stalk firmly between two fingers, then wrap your other hand loosely around the stalk and rip the leaves off from top to bottom in one swoop. You want to be ripping in the opposite direction that the veins are pointing.
  • If you’ve left your kale in the fridge for too long and it is all sad and droopy, do not despair! Cut off the bottoms of the stems (just like fresh flowers) and put in a vase of water. The kale will quickly perk right back up!
  • Tuscan kale is the same thing as lacinato kale and often marketed as dinosaur kale. Whatever the name, it is a nice dark green with a thick, smoother texture than regular green kale.
  • Green curly kale makes a great side dish just sauteed up with some butter, salt, and pepper. We have it for breakfast fairly often with fried eggs or even mixed in with scrambled eggs and a little feta cheese.
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Tuscan and red kale

 Salad Ingredients

  • 1 bunch green kale
  • 1 bunch other kale of choice (green, red, dinosaur, Tuscan, etc. I feel like it looks like I’m just typing random words) or 1/2 head cabbage (red, green, whatever you like)
  • 3-6 green onions
  • 1 batch Asian Peanut Dressing
  • 1/2 cup unsalted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Directions

  1. Wash and dry the kale. Rip the leaves off of the stalks. Chop in half-inch intervals from left to right and then from top to bottom, so you are left with many adorable kale squares. If you are using cabbage, chop similarly. Make sure you have more kale than cabbage – shoot for a 2:1 ratio.
  2. Finely chop your green onions. Three is perfect for a smaller batch (one bunch of kale), 5-6 is great for a large batch.
  3. Chop your peanuts! I don’t have an actual nut chopper, but when I chop them with a kitchen knife I actually like how the different pieces vary in size.
  4. Toss salad with Asian Peanut Dressing, green onions, and a good handful of the peanuts. Start with about 2/3 of the dressing, get it mixed, and see how you like the coverage. I prefer more dressing, some prefer less. If you have any dressing left over, it is really delicious as a carrot dip, or also totally acceptable to eat by the spoonful.
  5. Refrigerate for AT LEAST one hour! This salad does not reach its final form until thoroughly chilled!
  6. Serve with extra peanuts sprinkled over the top.

Voilà! Delicious.

Jamie sure likes to help me do the dishes when I make this dressing! Mmm, peanut butter. This was the day I discovered that Jamie crosses his eyes when eating something extra delicious 🙂

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Pumpkin Bread French Toast

Pumpkin Bread French ToastOh man…who doesn’t love pumpkin season?? This recipe was unreal. I have zero tweaks for it which is fairly uncommon in my kitchen! The pumpkin bread was amazing on its own – the perfect butter vessel for Sam and the perfect yummy bread void-filler for me. Using coconut milk to make it into french toast was over-the-top delicious.

I’m not even going to put the recipe on my site. Just click here to go right over to PaleOMG, follow the recipe to a tee, and die happy.