Thursday, November 24, 2011

Paleo/Primal Maple Walnut Muffins

This morning I had a craving for a breakfast muffin. I have lots of recipes for others, but I was in the mood to play today, so I thought I'd make something up and see how it tasted. The result was a maple-y crunchy moist muffiin that is probably my new favorite. Give it a try!

Paleo/Primal Maple Walnut Muffins
1 1/2 C Almond meal
1/2 C unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 t salt
1 t baking soda
2 Eggs
1/3 C Maple Syrup
1/2 C Unsweetened Applesauce
1/2 C chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl, then add wet ingredients. Spoon mixture into lined muffin tins then bake for about 15 minutes.  I made about 24 mini muffins with this recipe.

Paleo/Primal Thanksgiving Dressing/Stuffing Muffins

I wasn't sure if I wanted to try to make a paleo substitute for the traditional dressing I usually make on Thanksgiving.  (For those of you not from the South, instead of calling it stuffing - because you're not stuffing it in a bird - we call it dressing. ) The recipe I've made for years is a take on the one my grandmother made for years and it's almost a sacred recipe. That was a lot of pressure. But I decided to give it a try and if it didn't taste right it'd still probably taste good enough to eat tomorrow as a day-after-thanksgiving side to go along with the leftover turkey.

I wasn't sure how to approach the making of paleo dressing since dressing is basically a savory bread pudding made with cornbread, white sandwich bread, eggs, spices, stock and veggies. Without the bread, what do you do? So I decided to try something entirely different and based the dish off of an almond meal muffin recipe. The result was amazing! I used a muffin tin to make individual portions, but I'm sure you could bake the mixture in a cake pan to make a traditional looking pan of dressing. I think the almond meal really gave the dressing the same coarse texture that you expect in a corn bread dressing. Add to that the traditional spices and you really feel like you're eating Mama's Thanksgiving dressing. Enjoy!

Paleo/Primal Thanksgiving Dressing Muffins
1 large onion
4 ribs celery
1 T coconut oil
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper

3 1/2  C Almond Meal
2 t salt
1 t baking soda
2 t dried sage
1 t marjoram
1 C chicken broth
6 eggs

Chop onions and celery. In a skillet, melt coconut oil then sweat onions and celery until they are very tender. Mix in 1/2 t salt and 1/2 t pepper to veggies. Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 350F In a large mixing bowl, mix Almond Meal, salt, soda, sage, and marjoram. Mix in broth and eggs. When cooked veggie mixture is cool, add to Almond Meal mixture. Spoon batter into lined muffin tins and bake for about 25 minutes for large muffins and 15 minutes for mini muffins. This recipe made 18 full size muffins and 6 mini.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Paleo Thanksgiving

For the last several years my family has hosted a pot luck Thanksgiving. We provide the turkey, dressing, cranberries and pies and everyone else brings an appetizer, side or dessert to share. This has to be one of my favorite days of the year. I love getting together with all of my friends and their families, hanging out all evening and eating great food. My hope is that this year will be no different, except for the food. Most of the friends who are planning to attend the festivities this year are now eating Paleo; so we'll be having a Paleo/Primal Feast!

So far the menu consists of Roasted Turkey, Paleo/Primal Mulled Cranberry sauce, Paleo/Primal Pumpkin Pie and Paleo/Primal Pecan Pie. I haven't yet decided whether to attempt a Paleo dressing or to just omit it in favor of other veggie side dishes that the guests will likely bring. I could make an almond bread then use the regular recipe full of celery, onions, mushrooms, eggs and chicken broth...but I'm not sure if I'll bother. And we'll probably have Roasted Pumpkin seeds to snack on while we sit around the table after dinner.

Although we are altering virtually every dish, I think we'll still feel like we've had a traditional Thanksgiving Feast. Bring on the Friends, Food and Fun!

Update: I did decide to make a Paleo/Primal Thanksgiving Dressing. It turned out amazing, and I'm anxious to see what the rest of our guests think! This one will definitely be a staple in our house going forward.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Making Pumpkin Puree and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

When you get that huge pumpkin from the pumpkin patch for Halloween or get one to decorate for Thanksgiving, you don't let it sit around until it gets all moldy then throw it away do you? Tell me you don't! Tell me you cut that pumpkin up and make it into pumpkin puree for making pumpkin pies, pumpkin bread, and pumpkin muffins then toast the seeds for snacking. Or at least if you haven't before, you should now! Processing a pumpkin is very simple, but somewhat messy. (note: if you've carved your pumpkin you shouldn't process it for puree as the inside has now begun to go bad. Make puree from uncarved pumpkins.)

Making Pumpkin Puree
  1. Wash the outside of your pumpkin.
  2. Cut pumpkin in half and scoop out all of the guts (save the seeds for roasting). Compost guts minus seeds or give to your backyard chickens!
  3. On a cookie sheet, place pumpkins cut side down and roast at 400 degrees for 30+ minutes. test occasionally with a knife. If knife pierces skin easily then pumpkin is cooked.
  4. Remove pumpkin flesh from skin and compost the skin.
  5. Put pumpkin flesh into a food processor and process until you get a puree consistency.
  6. I then store my puree in old 32 oz yogurt containers in the fridge or freezer. In the freezer it will last for 6 months to a year.
Roasting pumpkin or squash seeds
  1. remove seeds from pumpkin or squash then rinse most of the squash guts off of them.
  2. sprinkle with salt or any other spice you like.
  3. Place in a single layer on a cookie sheet and roast at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes checking often. If seeds start to get too brown or burn remove from oven immediately.
  4. Occasionally scrape seeds off of pan with a spatula then rearrange them back into a single layer if all seeds aren't crispy.

Paleo/Primal Mulled Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce is a staple in our house at Thanksgiving. Usually Hubby makes a version called Mulled Cranberry Sauce he found in a Bon Apetite magazine from over a decade ago. This year I'm Paleo-izing it! The only real change I'm making is substituting Honey for the brown sugar. Otherwise it's staying as-is. Enjoy

Paleo/Primal Mulled Cranberry Sauce
2 C whole cranberries
1 1/2 C red wine
1 C honey
1/3 C crystalized ginger
1 T orange zest (fresh or dried)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp mace

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat then simmer until contents have reduced to about 2 1/2 C and have become thicker, darker and most of the cranberries are no longer whole(this could take 30 minutes or more). Cover and refrigerate before serving. Will last up to a week in the refrigerator.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Paleo/Primal Pecan Pie

Thanksgiving just wouldn't be the same without Pecan Pie. My grandma used to make it every year and it was the highlight of my whole day. I mean who could resist a layer of crunchy pecans floating on a layer of gooey sugary goodness? But alas, corn syrup is just not in my pantry anymore; so I've had to come up with another version of this legendary pie that will be a bit more healthy for my family but still fill that need for something sweet and nutty. I started with this version of a Primal Pecan Pie by Modern Paleo Warfare, then made my own adjustments.

Paleo/Primal Pecan Pie
1 C Walnuts
1 1/4 C Pecans
1/4 C Coconut oil or melted butter

1 1/4 C Pecans
1/2 C Dried plums AKA Prunes
1 T Vanilla
3 eggs
1/2 C Maple Syrup
1 tsp cinnamon

In a food processor pulse all crust ingredients until well incorporated. Press mixture into a pie tin and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.

In the food processor mix all filling ingredients except about 20 nice looking pecans which you reserve for decoration. When all ingredients are well incorporated, pour into the baked pie crust, decorate with the pretty pecans then bake for about 30 minutes at 350.

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Walk in the Park

I took my new camera for a spin at a local park with the kids the other day. The colors on the trees were unreal and I caught a few pretty shots of the woods near the creek. The kids had fun riding their bikes through the crunchy leaves and enjoying the crisp air. I'll say it again and again...I love fall!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Paleo/Primal Cut-out Cookies

The Girl came to me today and said "I feel like making cookies. Let's use the cookie cutters!". That sounded like fun, and we hadn't made cut-out cookies since last Christmas. At that time we made regular cookies with flour and sugar and other "usual" ingredients. This time I was looking to make something a little more in line with my new way of eating. I saw this Not Sugar Cookie recipe on Paleo Parents a week or so ago and used that as my base in creating my own Paleo/Primal version of the Sugar Cut-out cookie. These cookies are a bit drier than a regular sugar cookie as you would expect when using coconut flour, but not extremely so. The kids decorated ours with sprinkles and mini-M&Ms, which defeated the purpose of omitting the gluten and refined sugar, but I guess since we started with something a little healthier, the end product was better than it could have been. I thought they were quite tasty and the whole family enjoyed them.

Paleo/Primal Cut-out Cookies
1/3 C Coconut oil
1/3 C Butter or Palm Shortening
1/2 C Honey
4 Eggs
1 T vanilla
1 C+ coconut flour

Mix all wet ingredients with electric mixer. Slowly add in the coconut flour until you form a soft dough. I found this dough to be very wet and had to add in more coconut flour as I rolled and cut the cookies. Flour a Silpat or parchment paper then turn out dough onto it and roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick with more coconut flour on the rolling pin. Cut out cookies close together on the paper and remove the bits of dough in between leaving the cut outs on the paper. You can then move the parchment directly to a cookie sheet without having to lift the cut out cookies from it. Bake for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees until cookies are beginning to turn golden.

The ones above are the ones I decorated...
The ones below are the ones the kids decorated.

They were a hit with the ninja crowd.

Paleo/Primal Apple Cinnamon Porridge

My friends, Kate and Debbie, have recently jumped on the Paleo bandwagon with me and have either been missing their morning porridge or "cheating" and eating oatmeal for breakfast anyway. When I saw a hot cereal recipe on the Paleo Parents blog I knew it was going to be a hit. Today for lunch my daughter requested "something like oatmeal" so I took that recipe, gave it my own twist and came up with the recipe below. I loved it and will make it again for sure. I like that it keeps well for several days; I can make a big batch on the weekend and just heat and serve for breakfast during the week. We added several mix-ins like dried blueberries, cranberries, chocolate chips (for the kids), extra cinnamon, shredded coconut, and extra diced apple. The combinations are endless. (We had already eaten lunch and put the extra away when I remembered to take a picture, so this is a picture in the storage container.)

Paleo/Primal Apple Cinnamon Porridge
2 C Walnuts
1 C Almonds
1 C dried plums (prunes)

2 C diced apple
1 T coconut oil
2 t cinnamon

3 C milk (can be almond, coconut or regular depending on what you eat)

Peel and core apples and set peels aside for next step. Dice apples then in a saucepan saute in coconut oil until soft and browned. Stir in cinnamon.

While apples are cooking, in a food processor pulse nuts, plums and apple peels until you form a sticky mass. After apples are cooked add nut mixture and milk to saucepan with apples. Stir to break up any lumps then simmer on low heat stirring often until mixture is bubbly. Serve immediately with any mix-ins you like. Save leftovers for several days in the fridge.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pumpkin Smoothie/Latte

I've had a hankering for a warm pumpkin drink lately. So today, I decided to mix some likely ingredients together to see if they made something resembling a pumpkin latte minus the coffee. The results were very good and The Boy has already requested it again as his drink to go with dinner. It's thicker than a pumpkin latte, but you could thin it out with more milk or coffee or tea if that's what you like. Otherwise it's pretty good thick. Win!

Pumpkin Smoothie/Latte
1 C pumpkin puree
2 C almond, coconut or regular milk
1/4 C honey
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Mix all ingredients together in a blender. Serve cold if you're making a smoothie, warm up on stove top or in microwave if you're looking for a latte-like warm drink. Top with cinnamon or whipped cream or whatever you like on top.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Images from Around the Yard

I recently bought my first DSLR camera; I got a Nikon D3100 and love it! I had planned to take some pictures of the gorgeous colors on trees in some local office parks, but got there without a battery in my camera. So I came back home and walked around my own yard taking pictures of other beautiful things.


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