Sunday, December 18, 2016

Spiced Apple Cider Sangria

Drinks are necessary during the holidays. And I'm not talking about just ones with alcohol. Of course, a little adult beverage makes the holidays more fun. Holiday drinks are always full of warm spices that'll make you feel all soft and toasty on the inside. So why not combine the two? I mixed [cooled] hot spiced apple cider with some red wine to make an easy to drink, but super flavorful cocktail for any holiday party! I made my spiced apple cider in the slow cooker. If you're worried your slow cooker pot smells like last week's pot roast and don't want beef flavored apple cider, I've got a tip for you. Quick Tip to cleaning and removing smells from your slow cooker: Add about 1/4 cup baking soda to the pot. Add just enough water to make a paste (a few tablespoons or so). Then take a soapy sponge and rub the baking soda paste into every crevice of the pot. Let it sit overnight. Rinse the next day. Voila! No more weird pot roast smell. Now, get to brewing that cider!

Spiced Apple Cider Sangria

What you'll need:

  • 4-5 medium to large apples (I used a variety of Fuji, Red Delicious, Green, and Ambrosia, but use any or one combination)
  • 1 medium orange
  • 2 cinnamon sticks + 1-2 additional for sangria
  • 1/2 whole nutmeg 
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup + more to taste
  • a pinch of whole cloves
  • one star anise (optional)
  • water
  • extra apple and orange slices
  • 1 bottle (750mL) red wine (I used a cheap cabernet from Trader Joe's aka "Two Buck Chuck")
  • 1/3 cup orange liquor
What to do:
  1. Quarter the apples and remove the stems and seeds. Add to the slow cooker pot. Quarter the orange, add to the pot. Add 2 cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, maple syrup, cloves, and star anise (if using). Cover the fruit with just enough water to cover. 
  2. Cook on low for 8 hours. After about 7 hours, mash the fruit with a potato masher. Taste. Add more maple syrup if preferred. Let it cook for another hour on low. Strain. Save the pulp for another use, like apple butter!
  3. Store in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to 5 days, serve warm for just the cider. 
  4. In a large pitcher, combine the red wine, 2 cups of cider, 1/3 cup orange liquor, apple and orange slices, and cinnamon stick. Stir and cover over night to cool in the fridge. 
  5. Add a splash of seltzer water before serving. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Pumpkin Nut Panna Cotta Tart

This Pumpkin Panna Cotta is a lightened up treat that won't leave you feeling heavy after those multiple rounds of turkey and all the fixings. Panna Cotta is essentially an Italian style jello and is super simple to whip up. You blend, you heat, you stir, and BOOM, you're done. The crust is a magical blend of toasted hazelnuts, flaxseed and maple sugar. Don't like hazelnuts? Try pecans or walnuts! Short on time and don't feel like having to throw another dish in the oven to bake? Skip the crust all together and just make the panna cotta served in ramekins or cute single serving glass jars. It's totally up to you how you want to serve this because it will be delicious anyway. I was feeling a little bit naughty and drizzled a little RumChata and coconut caramel sauce (I used Juli's of PaleOMG recipe from her newest book, Juli Bauer's Paleo Cookbook) on top. 

 Pumpkin Nut Panna Cotta Tart

What you'll need:
  • 1 cup hazelnuts (or pecans, or walnuts), toasted and skins removed
  • 2 tbsp flax seed meal
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp Otto's cassava flour
  • 2 tbsp maple sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 tbsp grassfed butter, cold
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup canned full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup maple sugar
  • 2 tsp gelatin
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 fresh grated nutmeg
  • pinch of cardamon
  • pinch of salt

What to do:
  1. To make the crust: Preheat oven to 350F. If using hazelnuts, bake for 8-10 minutes at 350F. Cool slightly, then remove skins by rubbing the hazelnuts together with a tea towel. It is okay if not all the skins come off. If using pecans or another nut, there's no need to toast before hand just add them to the food processor. 
  2. Add the hazelnuts to the food processor along with the next 4 ingredients. Pulse until it resembles a course meal. Add the cold butter 1-2 tbsp at a time. Pulse until it starts to come together. Press evenly into a tart pan. Bake at 350F for 18-20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  3. In a sauce pan, add 1/2 cup almond milk. Evenly sprinkle 2 tsp of gelatin over the almond milk, let it bloom. Blend the remaining 1 cup of almond milk, coconut milk, pumpkin puree, maple sugar, and spices until smooth. 
  4. Heat the gelatin mixture over medium low heat and whisk until the gelatin dissolves. Strain the pumpkin mixture into the gelatin mixture. Whisk to combine. Heat until the mixture starts to steam. Pour into the tart shell (or individual ramekins/jars). Allow the tart to set in the fridge. 
  5. Serve chilled with a drizzle of RumChata or Coconut Caramel, if preferred!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Deconstructed Papas Rellenas (Cuban Beef and Potato Stuffing)

I love a good meat and potato dish. This Cuban Beef and Potato stuffing is a play on the traditional papas rellenas or meat stuffed potato ball. If you live in the Los Angeles area, you probably are familiar with Porto's Bakery (and if you haven't, you must!). Porto's is a Cuban bakery that makes the tastiest Cuban pastries and cakes. They also have these deep fried mashed potato balls stuffed with a ground beef mixture. And let me tell you, you haven't lived until you've tried one of these!

While I love the holidays and all the traditional foods that are associated with it, sometimes, I believe you need a little spice in your life (and no, pumpkin spice does not count). Enter, this non-traditional stuffing. A deconstructed papas rellenas. A good Cuban dish requires a sofrito, think of it as the Cuban equivalent to a mirepoix (the aromatic base of any good soup or stew; carrots, onions, celery), except sofrito consists of onions, bell peppers, and garlic. You'll want to sweat and caramelize the onions first, then add the peppers and garlic last. Trust me, this extra little step will make this dish pop!

Deconstructed Papas Rellenas (Cuban Beef and Potato Stuffing)

What you'll need:

  • 2-3 small to medium white sweet potato (or any potato can be subbed), cubed
  • olive/avocado oil, salt and pepper to season the potatoes
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 5-6 sweet mini peppers (or one medium bell pepper), finely diced
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • pinch of cayenne (optional)
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp apple cider vinegar or fresh lime juice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • (start with 1/2 tsp) salt and pepper, to taste
  • fresh chopped cilantro
  • 2-3 tbsp golden raisins (optional)

What to do:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425F. Toss the cubed potatoes with 1-2 tbsp oil, massaging the oil into the potatoes thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper. Lay the potatoes in one (1) even layer on a silicone lined baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes at 425F, tossing once about half way through. 
  2. While the potatoes are roasting, heat a large skillet over medium high heat with 1-2 tbsp oil. Add the onions. Sweat the onions until they start to caramelize and are fragrant, about 5-6 minutes. Add the peppers, then the garlic. Stir. Cook for another 1-2 minutes.  
  3. Add the ground beef. Break up the chunks. *Note: I add a little ground beef at a time, breaking up the chunks, as to not overcrowd the pan which could lead to steaming of the mixture and not sauteing*
  4. Season the mixture with paprika, cumin, cayenne (if using), and salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Once most of the meat has browned, add the apple cider vinegar/lime juice. Then the tomato sauce. Bring to a simmer and add the bay leaf. 
  5. Simmer the mixture on medium low for about 15-20 minutes. 
  6. Once potatoes have finished roasting, remove from oven and set aside. Season the ground beef mixture with more salt/pepper, to taste. Stir in golden raisins (if preferred, but highly recommended). Add the potatoes and garnish with chopped cilantro. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

Fact: I'm not actually a chocolate fan. I mean, I like it, on occasion, but it's rare that I'll crave it. If I'm going to indulge it's going to be a piece of good quality dark chocolate, at least 85%. Anyway, let's just say I had way to many bars of chocolate (that would've taken me forever to finish), so the next best thing would be, cupcakes! These use dark chocolate, cocoa powder, and strong brewed coffee for an insanely intense chocolate flavor. Don't get me started on this frosting, it's two ingredients, TWO! Roasted sweet potato puree and dark chocolate. I know, what in the world? Trust me. It is good and as good for you as you can get when it comes to indulgent desserts. The cupcake recipe is adapted from an old recipe I found a long time ago (which unfortunately, I can't remember where I found it), but I've tweaked it so that it's gluten-free and paleo friendly. The recipe for the frosting is from Genevieve Ko's Better Baking. Do yourself a favor and use this to frost anything that would require a healthy (pun intended) dollop of chocolate frosting. :)

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
What you'll need:
  • 1/2 cup hot brewed coffee
  • 1 oz good quality dark chocolate (85%)
  • 2/3 cup maple sugar
  • 3/4 cup Otto's Cassava Flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2/3 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup Avocado Mayo (I used Chosen Foods)
  • 1/2 cup shaken canned coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1.5 cups roasted sweet potato
  • 10 oz dark chocolate (or semi-sweet)
What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted; Mix until smooth. Set aside. In another small bowl, combine the canned coconut milk and lemon juice, stir and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the sugar, Otto's Cassava Flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or another clean bowl, beat the mayo, with the lemon/coconut milk mixture, vanilla, and chocolate/coffee mixture until combined. Add the dried ingredients and beat until combined and no lumps remain. 
  3. Divide batter evenly in a paper lined muffin tin. Bake at 300F for 20-22 minutes. Cool slightly before removing onto cooling rack. Make the frosting by pureeing the roasted sweet potato in a food processor until completely smooth. Heat the puree in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add the chocolate and stir into the sweet potato puree until melted and combined. 
  4. Spread frosting over cupcakes. Serve immediately or store them in an airtight container for later, just bring them to room temp before serving.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Pumpkin Spice Protein Pancakes

Pumpkin Pie Spice is best enjoyed when the weather starts to cool and the leaves start to fall. The warm spices are like a friendly hug and really, that's what I think we all should start our day with. Don't have someone to hug you in the morning? Don't worry, these pancakes will be all you need. They're soft, fluffy, and full of good-for-you ingredients. 

What you'll need:
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • scant 1/4 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy) (about 3.5 tbsp)
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 3 tbsp almond flour
  • 3 tbsp hydrolyzed collagen*
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
What to do:
  1. In a bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, eggs, vanilla, milk and maple syrup. In another bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Combine the dry ingredients with the wet, whisking just until no lumps remain. 
  2. Heat a skillet with a little fat of choice (I like to use coconut oil or ghee) over medium heat. Cook pancakes using an ice cream scoop or 1/4 cup, about 1-2 minutes each side. 
*Hydrolyzed collagen is not the stuff you make jello with. Be sure to get the ones that will dissolve in water completely; both Great Lakes and Vital Proteins are two brands I've used. :)

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Mini Chocolate Pudding Cookie Pie

Chocolate pudding Snak-Paks were a staple in my home growing up. Mom packed one in my lunch box almost every day. I had quite the sweet tooth back then, but now that I'm older, sweets just aren't something I want. But give me a bowl of chips and guac and I'll be at that all day. Anyway, just because I don't have the same sweet tooth doesn't mean I don't occasionally crave a little sugar. Pudding is surprisingly easy to make and paired with my Small Batch Chocolate Cookies, they're magical. 

Mini Chocolate Pudding Cookie Pie 

What you'll need

  •  chocolate cookie dough
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder (or use 4 tbsp and omit the FlavorGod)
  • 2 tbsp FlavorGod Chocolate Donut 
  • 2 tbsp maple sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp gelatin (I used Great Lakes Red can)

  • What to do:
    1. Preheat oven to 350F. Make the chocolate chip cookie pie crust. Make sure the dough is chilled as it will be easier to handle. Divide the batter evenly (using my small batch recipe, I was able to fill three) into a silicone muffin tin. Use your fingers to press down and up the sides slightly. Bake at 350F for 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and use a greased shot glass to make a well in the center of each cookie. Cool and set aside. 
    2. To make the pudding, combine the almond milk, cocoa powder, maple sugar, and vanilla in a small sauce pan. Heat over medium low. Whisk until combined. Then evenly sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Allow the gelatin to bloom and then whisk until combined. Heat the mixture until it starts to steam. Remove from heat and allow to cool in a container. Cover and let it set in the fridge overnight. 
    3. The following day, whisk the pudding. Then add to the cookie crust. Serve with more cookie crumbles and whipped coconut cream. 

    Monday, August 8, 2016

    Asian Braised Oxtail/Short Ribs


    Braises and stews are staples in my kitchen. They're easy to prep and I let my slow cooker do the rest. Occasionally I like to use my fancy pants dutch oven too. When it comes to using meaty bones, I like to brown the meat (either in a cast iron or broil in the oven) first. Those brown bits at the bottom of your pan are like gold. Here, I seasoned the meat with a little Chinese 5 spice and then pan seared them before adding the rest of the ingredients. If you've never tried Chinese 5 spice, it's an aromatic blend of star anise, cinnamon, cloves, sichuan peppercorns, and fennel. Some variants have ginger and cardamon. But it adds such amazingly complex flavors, it's definitely worth a try. In this recipe, I opted to use Oxtails and Short ribs, but you can go ahead and use any meaty bone.

    Asian Braised Oxtail/Short ribs

    What you'll need:
    • 2-3 lbs beef oxtail, ribs, or short ribs
    • 5 tbsp gluten free tamari or coconut aminos
    • 2 tbsp mirin
    • 1/2 tsp paprika
    • 1-2 tbsp chinese five spice + 1/2 tsp for sauce
    • 1.5 tsp FlavorGod Garlic Lovers (or use garlic powder)
    • 1/4 tsp white pepper
    • 1/4 tsp dried mustard
    • salt and pepper, to taste
    • 2 cups beef/chicken stock (I used homemade)
    • 1 tbsp honey
    • 6-8 oz dried shiitake mushrooms (fresh would be okay too)
    • 2-3 minced garlic cloves
    • 1 one inch piece of peeled ginger
    What to do:
    1. Preheat oven to 300F. Pat the beef dry. Season all sides with 1-2 tbsp chinese 5 spice, a couple large pinches of salt and fresh cracked black pepper. In a cast iron pot, heat 2 tbsp of fat of choice over medium high heat. Working in batches as to not overcrowd the pot, sear the beef on each side (about 1-2 minutes each side). Remove and set aside. 
    2. Add the ginger and garlic, scraping the bottom for the browned bits. Add the tarmari/coconut aminos, mirin, honey, paprika, 1/2 tsp chinese 5 spice, garlic powder, white pepper, and dried mushrooms to the pot. Stir. Place the beef back into the pot. Add the stock and the dried mushrooms
    3. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover with an oven proof lid and place in the oven to bake for 2.5-3 hours. After 3 hours, remove from the oven and place the pot on the stove. Remove the cover and bring the stew to a simmer over medium heat. Allow the sauce to thicken for 25-30 minutes over medium heat. 
    4. Serve with chopped green onions (optional) over rice or cauliflower rice (for low carb/paleo) and your favorite sauteed veggie (I served mine with bok choy). 

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