Friday, June 12, 2015

quinoa pizza and perfect grain-free chocolate cupcakes

last day of school! the kids cry, "freedom!" and i echo the sentiment. i'm ready for less running around, more play time, and later starts to the days. yeah...who am i kidding. i have an eight year old who wakes up like a rooster, raring to go around 6am every day. and there will be plenty of fighting. and back-talk. and pre-teen attitude. but there will also be hours of tennis. and watching new skateboarding tricks. and measurable ballet progress. and fun in the pool. and a huge road trip to iowa for my 20-year high school reunion wherein we get to see friends and family in the many states between san jose and davenport. i get to see plenty of new babies along the way, too, which is always a good thing. let's just say the positives of this summer far outweigh the negatives.

back to the beginning...

last day of school! there were all the requisite parties this week and today the fourth graders had a pizza bash. we don't do normal pizza so i decided to have an alternative for mary and her friend shaylynn, who discovered a lot of food allergies earlier in the year. quinoa pizza crust is very easy to make, but takes a little foresight because you have to soak the quinoa for 8+ hours. a reminder in my phone made sure i didn't forget and, after a good rinse, the food processor turned the quinoa into a paste that quickly baked into a crispy crust. a few toppings and ten minutes later, i walked up to the school with two piping hot, grain-free pizzas.

quinoa pizza crust

3 C quinoa

put quinoa in a large bowl and cover by 1" with water. allow to soak at least 8 hours (i start mine in the evening and soak overnight, but you could easily start it first thing in the day and have it ready by dinner). rinse quinoa well (i have a strainer with a fine enough mesh that the quinoa doesn't go through) and put in the food processor with:

1 C water
3 T olive oil
2 T baking powder
1 t kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
1/2 t oregano
1/2 t basil
1/8 t garlic powder

allow to mix/chop/combine for 2-5 minutes, scraping down the sides so all the quinoa is incorporated. spread evenly on two silicon baking mats (or oiled parchment paper, either way you need two large baking sheets) and bake at 425 for 10-13 minutes. gently flip the crust over and top with whatever you love to have on pizza. bake for 15 minutes more or until cheese is golden, switching pans from the top to the bottom rack as needed.

in the middle of making the pizzas, i was also whipping together some chocolate cupcakes. it's a good thing i didn't remember how good these were because my waistline would show it if i did. have i mentioned i have no self control when it comes to food? guilty. it's the biggest reason i am so choosy about what i put in my mouth...and also the reason i exercise so intensely. tonight, the leftovers i inhaled are the cause of my extra workout, but they were SO worth the sweat and pain coming to me in a few minutes. ;)

grain-free chocolate cupcakes

1/2 C coconut flour
2/3 C tapioca flour
2/3 C coconut sugar
1/2 C cocoa powder (i use raw cacao powder, but any cocoa powder will work)
2 t baking soda
8 eggs (i used 6 jumbo eggs because that's what i had on hand)
1 C unsweetened applesauce
3/4 C coconut oil

put all ingredients in the food processor and mix thoroughly. scrape down the sides and mix again. divide batter between 24 cupcake liners and bake for 15-18 minutes at 350. the tops should be firm, but be sure not to overbake! allow to cool before frosting. the whipped cream frosting a couple recipes down is my favorite, but contains dairy. one batch of frosting will coat 36 cupcakes if you use a cookie scoop {approximately 2 T} to portion it onto the tops. enjoy!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

paleo vanilla birthday cake

so, this flurry of recipe posting is brought to you by one too many people asking about whether something i made for them was on my blog...and me answering no. because i've been busy. or preoccupied. or lazy. or maybe disenchanted with blogging. or maybe just selfish. whatever. hopefully i will get everything online in the next few days so i can be done with the guilt. ;)

i've been playing with this recipe for the past few birthdays that have cycled through our family and i think this is the winner. i normally frost with a non-paleo whipped cream and cream cheese frosting because it's too delicious to replace and i have no moral issue with occasional dairy. i guess that makes me more primal than paleo. again...whatever.

paleo vanilla birthday cake

1 C tapioca flour
2/3 C coconut flour
3/4 t baking soda
1/2 t kosher salt
12 eggs (or 10 jumbo)
1/2 C butter or coconut oil, melted
1/2 C honey
1 T vanilla

mix all ingredients in food processor until smooth. pour into two greased 9" pans and bake at 350 for 23-25 minutes. allow to cool for 10 minutes before turning upside down. cool completely before frosting.

whipped cream frosting

8 oz cream cheese
1/2 C evaporated cane juice (one of the few times i still use evaporated cane juice)
1 t vanilla
1/2 t almond extract

whisk together in a stand mixer, then slowly add:

1 pint whipping cream

whisk until all the cream is combined, then increase speed and beat until mixture is stiff. like with whipped cream, don't overbeat.

two paleo-friendly waffle recipes

i am a breakfast junkie. there. i admitted it. addicted to pancakes and waffles and cereal...all those things that are not generally grain-free. in my years of carb remission i have tried many recipes. too eggy, too chalky, too...meh. my old standard buttermilk pancakes and oatmeal pancakes were really wonderful so it was a tough act to follow. i bought danielle walker's cookbook "against all grain" and gave her cashew waffle recipe a whirl. the surprise was pleasant. the recipe needed to be much larger to feed my family, but we were happy with the result. here's my slightly altered, bigger version of her recipe:

cashew waffles

one dozen eggs
1 can coconut milk + a little water to rinse the can (about 1/4 - 1/3 C extra)
1 16 oz bag of cashew pieces (about 3 C)
3/4 C coconut flour
2 t baking soda
1 t kosher salt
1/2 C coconut oil or butter, melted

put all ingredients in your blender and mix thoroughly. heat your waffle iron. if you want blueberry waffles, you can add the zest and juice of two lemons to the blender before mixing and stir in 2 C frozen wild blueberries by hand. my waffle maker is a small, round cuisinart and takes slightly less than 1/2 C of batter per waffle. i ALWAYS portion and pour batter with a measuring cup. place cooked waffles on a cooling rack or in a baking dish with a tea towel (if you need to keep them warm in the oven). i normally serve with a berry maple syrup.

blueberry maple syrup

1 16 oz bag wild blueberries
2 C maple syrup

bring to a boil and allow to cook for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. any mix of berries can be used.

my favorite waffles/pancakes recipe features grass-fed beef gelatin. this is protein, nutrient-packed morning food.

erin's favorite waffles/pancakes

2 C tapioca starch
1 C almond flour
1 C coconut flour
3 T grass-fed beef gelatin
1 t baking soda

whisk together dry ingredients then add:

one dozen eggs
2 cans coconut milk
1/4 C softened butter or coconut oil
1/4 C coconut sugar
1 t vanilla

mix well. cook in waffle iron or in a buttered/oiled skillet. serve with fruit syrup, raw honey, or maple syrup.

butternut squash soup with meatballs, roasted pumpkin seeds, and cotija cheese

the title is a mouthful, but i can never get enough of this my mouth. i've been making it without the meatballs for three or four years now. it started as a GAPS diet experiment but then i found a kitchenaid immersion blender at the thrift store for $6 (yeah!) and it became a regular on our menu. the first time i added the meatballs, roasted pumpkin seeds, and cotija cheese...[moment of silence] was heavenly. the pumpkin seeds and cotija cheese have been part of my roasted butternut squash for a couple years, replicating an appetizer andy and i had at the purple pig in chicago, but until one blustery winter evening i had never thought of marrying the two. this soup was already high on our favorite list before i went to iowa last christmas and made it for my extended family. unfortunately, a freak snowstorm whipped up late in the afternoon that sent everyone scurrying home before i was finished making dinner, but in the end that made more leftovers for me so, sorry-not-sorry. ;)

sometimes when butternut squash is in season i bake a couple extras, scoop the flesh into bags, and freeze it for a day in april, may, even july, when i NEED this soup. if you can't do dairy, just leave out the cotija cheese. coconut cream is used instead of half-and-half or heavy cream (which is what i used in our pre-primal/paleo days), so that would be your only substitution.

butternut squash soup with meatballs, roasted pumpkin seeds, and cotija cheese

early in the day (or at least two hours before you want to make your soup), preheat oven to 400. i roast my butternut squash whole. put two small or one large squash on a baking pan and poke holes with a skewer. i poke 5-7 down the center and then make two staggered lines of holes on either side, staying above the halfway point on the side of the squash so they don't leak juice all over the pan. roast for 60 minutes. turn off the oven and leave the squash in for another hour (i want them soft and easy to scoop). remove from oven and allow to cool. cut in half, scoop out seeds+slime, and spoon the flesh onto the pan or into a bowl (or straight into your soup pot if you're at that point in the process).

1 lb grass-fed beef
1 lb nitrate/nitrite free sausage
2 eggs
1 onion, diced
1/4 C coconut flour
1/2 t basil
salt and pepper

mix together all ingredients by hand and form into meatballs (i use a cookie scoop so they're all the same size). place close together in a 9x13 pan and bake at 375 for 20 minutes. turn all meatballs over and bake for 10 minutes more. check for doneness and allow to rest.

1 T butter or coconut oil
1 onion, diced
3-4 apples,  diced (granny smith preferred, but i have used galas and fujis if i have a soft one on the counter)

saute onion and apples in butter/oil 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently. add:

4-8 C chicken stock (depends on the size of your squash. also, i always make my own bone broths, but that's another recipe for another post)
1-2 cans coconut cream (again, depends on the size of your squash)
flesh of the previously baked butternut squash
1 t curry powder
1 t ground coriander
1/2 t nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

blend with an immersion blender until very smooth (add more stock, if should be smooth, not super thick but not too thin) then bring to a boil. you can do this in a normal blender, but be careful of the pressure the heat will create (can you say "soup on the ceiling" or "i scalded my hand"?). adjust salt and pepper.

roasted pumpkin seeds
1 1/2 - 2 T butter or coconut oil
3/4 C raw pepitas/pumpkin seeds

warm a pan over medium heat. melt the butter/oil and add the pumpkin seeds. stir frequently until they begin to brown and pop.

to serve, ladle the soup into a bowl. place 3 meatballs in the center, sprinkle pumpkin seeds, and grate or break pieces of cotija cheese around the top. leftovers can be refrigerated for a week or frozen if you find you have too much (i know, i recipes are typically huge). my family usually polishes off this meal within a couple days.

paleo crisp topping

i don't know about you, but when peaches start appearing in the produce section i do a happy dance. then i go on a smelling and squeezing/gentle-pressing frenzy. normally, the first few times i lift the fruit to my nose i quickly know it is too early to be enjoyed and walk away empty handed. there are other times i smell just enough peach aroma to be optimistic and (quite foolishly) hope that a little time in a paper bag will shorten the days. perfect peaches, however, are a fickle and fleeting thing. this year i am very guilty of buying-before-ready peaches and, as punishment, have been disappointed by my impatience. the fairly firm, slightly-peachy bites have been no match for the juice-dripping-down-my-face peaches of my past.

whilst in colorado, i tasted perfect peaches for the first time. the window for western slope peaches was mid-august to early september...or maybe it was just august (i would have to consult my peach expert helenbeth to be sure). either way, it was agonizing knowing they would be gone so soon. we would buy boxes of them from roadside fruit stand that was set up every year in the parking lot of the video store and gorge ourselves for the weeks they were available.

fastforward to oregon. the peaches came in waves for a few months. not quite the same, but still wonderful when they were perfectly ripe. i found a vendor at the farmer's market and would wait until she said they were ready...and then buy a box every week or two.

in my opinion, perfect peaches should never go in the oven. they should always be eaten fresh. so instead of peach cobbler, i would make a buttery crisp topping (my old, oat-based crisp topping floating in cyberspace here). since moving to california i decided i didn't want to eat oats in this dessert so now i only make a grain-free version. last summer i created a recipe that i love...perhaps a little too much. i can eat it straight out of the pan like a granola-starved maniac. ;)

paleo crisp topping

2 C unsweetened, shredded coconut
1 C sliced almonds
1 C walnut pieces*
1 C almond flour
1/2 C coconut sugar
1 T cinnamon
1/3 C butter or coconut oil
1 t vanilla

stir together dry ingredients. melt the butter/oil and add the vanilla. pour over the dry ingredients and mix well. spread in a 9x13 pan and bake at 350 for 15-17 minutes. stir, then cook for 7-10 minutes more. if you prefer to use a large baking sheet, bake for 10 minutes, stir, then cook for 5-7 minutes more. allow to cool slightly before serving on fresh, diced peaches and top with whipped cream. you can eat it for breakfast if you use plain yogurt underneath and no whipped cream on top. ;)

this is also very delicious on top of fresh (still warm) chia seed "jam". just bring a bag or two of frozen fruit to a boil for 5-10 minutes, then stir in 1/3 C - 2/3 C chia seeds (depending on how much fruit you're using) and 1 t vanilla. you can sweeten with a little honey or maple syrup, but i have found most fruits don't need it. i love a combination of wild blueberries, raspberries, and dark cherries (smooshed with a potato masher before adding the chia seeds). wild blueberries and frozen peaches also work in a mid-february, i've-gotta-have-peach-crisp pinch.

*walnut pieces have disappeared from my normal grocery stores so i buy bulk walnut halves and pieces and chop them in my food processor. this makes them a little smaller than what i used to buy with a bit of walnut "meal" in the mix, but i like them. plus, doing it this way has saved me $2+/lb because i wait until they are on sale and then stock up.