Star Anise Shortbread {Paleo}

Sometimes, you do crazy things to get a job.

Several years ago, I was feeling slightly disillusioned with the non-profit sector (which I had worked in for over a decade at that point) and really wanted to try something new.  I had mad administrative skills but I wanted to be in an environment where my skills were appreciated without the pressure of saving the world.  Okay, maybe that’s a TAD melodramatic.  But just a tad.

When an opportunity came for me to work for my favorite doctor, I jumped at the chance.  It was the single best professional decision I’ve ever made.  In this job, my confidence was restored, my skill set broadened, and my body healed right along with my heart.  It was the best kind of job.

When we decided to leave our city and have a new adventure in the Pacific North West, I was heart broken to leave my favorite job and my favorite doctor.  I had a glowing recommendation to carry with me along with my new skill set and healthy body.

After working in a job I wasn’t thrilled about for a few months, I began looking for other positions.  My friend and also my former boss connected me with a doctor who was looking for administrative help.  I was determined to woo him.

I went to his office.  I dropped off my resume with a batch of paleo shortbread cookies.

Three weeks later, I had a new job.  Coincidence?  I think not.

While I would love to think that I earned that job all on my own, I’m pretty sure these nifty little shortbread cookies had something to do with it.  Yep, I said NIFTY.  Because shortbread is classic and can handle words like “nifty” and “neato” and “groovy”.

I can’t guarantee your future employers will love these as much as I do. However, I can guarantee that, unless they have a nut or egg allergy, they will adore these treats.  And you probably will, too.

(If you are looking to cut back on sugar, you can substitute erythritol 1:1 in this recipe.)

shortbread

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups blanched almond flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (or butter)
  • 1 cup coconut sugar or erythritol
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp anise extract or 1 tsp finely ground star anise
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract, or 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of sea salt

Directions:

  1. Combine flour, erythritol, and baking powder (and ground star anise if you use it)
  2. Combine egg, coconut oil, extracts, and stevia
  3. Add flour mixture to egg mixture and form into a log shape
  4. Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate for at least five hours (I chilled mine overnight and it was great)
  5. Once chilled, slice dough and place on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.  Sprinkle a TEENY bit of sea salt over the top.
  6. Bake at 325 degrees for 12-17 minutes, until just slightly browned around the edges.
  7. Allow to rest for a few minutes on the baking sheet. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before serving.

Have you ever done anything unorthodox to get a job?  What was it?  I want to know!

Your Favorite Paleo Cookie Monster,
Carrie

 

Strawberry Shortcake {Paleo and Vegan}

Remember Strawberry Shortcake? She was one of my childhood favorites, along with Shera, My Little Ponies, GI Joe, Star Wars, and Care Bears.  There was something so enticing about the faint chemical strawberry scent of her hair, her massive bobbleheadedness, and magical world where everything smelled and tasted delicious.  My friend had a Strawberry Shortcake bedspread and sheets and I was so envious.  I wanted to dream of Berry Bitty City and play with Strawberry and all of her friends, and I was pretty sure I could only do that if I was lulled to sleep under all those magical sheets and blankets.

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I didn’t realize for a long time (really, way too long) that Strawberry Shortcake was a real thing.  I don’t even remember having actual strawberries until we moved to Texas when I was in elementary school.  And I definitely don’t remember eating strawberry shortcake until I was in second grade at the school Field Day.

That shortcake was…not amazing.  It was made with the store bought spongy, yellow mini-cakes baked into little flat-top basins to hold the strawberries and whipped cream.  The strawberries were glazed and tasted like my Strawberry Shortcake doll smelled. A spoonful of Cool Whip completed the dish and it was…not my favorite thing I’d ever had.  I really wanted it to be.

Eventually, I outgrew my love of Strawberry Shortcake and her friends and mostly avoided the dessert for many years after that.  It wasn’t until college that I tried it again at a swanky resturant at the urging of my best friend.

Holy moly.

It was one of the most mind-blowingly delicious things I had ever tasted.  The shortcake was more like a biscuit, and everything was fresh and texturally spot on.

I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve spent ten years trying to recreate that shortcake.

This is the closest I’ve come.  I didn’t realize until I eliminated gluten from my diet that the shortcake I had tried so hard to replicate most likely was made using almond flour.  Once I unlocked that piece, the rest was a breeze.

Strawberry Shortcake

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sliced strawberries
  • 2 cups blanched almond flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 2 eggs*
  • 3/4 cup butter, cold and cubed, or melted coconut or avocado oil
  • 1 scant cup cassava flour (wheat flour can be substituted)
  • 2 Tbsp raw honey, or other sweetener
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

Directions:

  1. Combine the almond flour, cassava flour, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg in a medium mixing bowl.
  2. Add butter to the flour mixture and cut into flour until the butter is in tiny pieces.
  3. In a small bowl, combine eggs, vanilla extract, apple cider vinegar, and honey.  Whisk until fully incorporated.
  4. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and stir until barely combined.
  5. Spoon mixture onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, or bake in lined muffin tins.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
  7. Pile with strawberries and whipped topping of your choice.

*If you want to make this egg-free, go for it!  To replace two eggs, I used 2 Tbsp ground flax seeds, 3 Tbsp water, 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar.

Now that I know what strawberry shortcake can be, I’ll never go back.  I still miss my Strawberry Shortcake doll, though, and secretly wish for a daughter so I can justify buying all the Strawberry Swag.

Strawberrylicious,
Carrie

 

 

 

Smokey Bacon Jalapeño Carbonara {Cappello’s Pasta Giveaway}


CappellosImage

 Today’s meal has been provided by the generous sponsorship of Cappello’s Gluten  Free Pasta.

 

I saw this pasta winking at me from the freezer section at Natural Grocers a few months ago. It called to me.  It asked me to take it home and work some paleo pasta magic.  I ignored it, though.  I kept rolling down the aisle, but the pasta stayed with me.

Fast forward to March in Los Angeles.  I stopped by the Cappello’s booth at a trade show to sample their products, and fell in love instantly.  The pasta was fresh, tender, and flavorful.  It was also filling and gave me great little energy boost.

After leaving Cappello’s booth, I started scheming immediately about what I would put on the pasta.  Of course, pasta carbonara was first on my list.

I fell in love with pasta carbonara in Venice, Itlay, where my best friends and I packed around a tiny table in a tiny restaurant off  a tiny alley where the waiter didn’t know English and we didn’t know Italian but we all knew food and wine and he brought us his favorite dishes and bottles.  We ate for hours.  Tasting, sampling, sharing, exclaiming, laughing, drinking, pantomiming with our Venetian waiter, and eventually, closing the restaurant down.

Of the 12 (!) dishes we sampled that night, the pasta carbonara has stayed with me a decade later. That, and our fun walk back to the hotel in the chilly December air feeling carefree, and totally high on good food and wine and lifelong friendship.  Because Italy.

For my American Paleo-ized version, I wanted to infuse robust flavor and play on the richness of the eggs and tenderness of the pasta.  It’s kind of like mac and cheese, but for adults.

CarbonaraPlate

Although I took many liberties in creating this recipe and veered far from that original carbonara in Venice, the integrity and heart behind the dish is still there.  When I shared this with friends, every single person was blown away and could NOT STOP EATING IT.  If you’re a home cook, this is probably the highest compliment anyone can give you.

So, I give you Smokey Bacon Jalapeño Carbonara.  It’s a little bit Italian, a little bit American, and a whole lot of comfort.

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces of pasta (I used Cappello’s paleo fettucini noodles)
  • 8 pieces thick cut bacon, diced
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 3/4 cups very finely grated parmesan cheese (if you want to be totally paleo here, skip this and add 1-2 extra egg yolks)
  • salt and black pepper
  • 2 medium jalapeños
  • 4 fresh basil leaves, ribboned

Directions:

  1. Fry the bacon until just barely crisp. Remove from the pan and set aside.  Drain most of the grease, but leave a little for frying the onions and garlic.
  2. Return the pan to stove. Cook onions and garlic on medium heat until golden brown, and set aside.
  3. While the onions and garlic are cooking, roast the jalapeños under the broiler, turning often until soft and slightly blistered.  De-stem and scrape out seeds (unless you want more spice, then leave some seeds in) and dice the roasted jalapeño.
  4. In a bowl, mix together eggs, parmesan, and salt and pepper until incorporated.
  5. Take freshly cooked pasta (still piping hot) and place in a large bowl.  While pasta is still steaming hot, slowly pour in the egg mixture while continuously stirring the pasta. The sauce will thicken up (the eggs are cooking!) and coat the pasta. If it gets too thick, pour a little pasta water into the bowl until you reach the desired consistency.
  6. Halfway through drizzling in the egg mixture, add all the other ingredients.  Bacon, jalapeño, garlic, onions, salt and pepper. Continue mixing and adding the egg mixture.
  7. Top with fresh basil, lots of fresh cracked pepper and serve immediately.

You will thank yourself for making this.  Seriously.
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Oh, and do you want to try a box of Cappello’s pasta on us?  Enter to win the giveaway now with the rafflecopter and we will announce the winner on Tuesday, May 5th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Buena Suerte,

Carrie

Banana Cashew Ice Cream {Vegan and Paleo}

Pizzelles are a big thing around our house.  My husband has some fairly strong Sicilian roots, and he takes his Italian desserts seriously.  One of his favorites?  Star Anise Pizzelles.  We don’t eat them often because 1) we rarely eat wheat and 2) we eat them ALL in one day because we have no “off” switch with these tasty discs.

EmptyShells
It’s a cookie and a cone!

I made gluten-free pizelles earlier this week, (my husband and son ate them all in less than an hour), and formed miniature waffle cones.  Then I asked you to help me fill them.  You came up with some amazing suggestions.  Here’s a sample of some of the suggestions:

  • Sweet Ricotta Cream
  • Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding
  • Nutella Mousse/Nutella Marshmallow Creme/Nutella Anything
  • Tuna Poke with Avocado
  • Pulled Pork
  • Marmite
  • Whipped Cauliflour and “Fried” Chicken
  • Ben and Jerry’s new Jimmy Fallon Ice Cream (I love Jimmy.)

But the suggestion that hit home for me was Cashew Ice Cream.  Here’s why: I wanted to make a homemade version and have been experimenting with fast paleo recipes that don’t require a chemistry lesson from Mr. White or a trillion special ingredients.

BreakingBadCleanMeme
Mr. White tells it like it is.

Because ice cream should be easy and simple and thoroughly satisfying. And if we can make it healthy-ish, even better.

My favorite Sicilian gave me two thumbs up, which is hard to do.  He loves ice cream.  He loves pizzelles. Healthy ice cream in a quinoa pizzelle?  He’s in foodie love.

BananaIceCreamCone

So, here it is.  (Oh, and I named it after the reader who inspired me! Thanks, Terri.)

Stephen’s Cashew Banana Ice Cream – Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe banana, diced and then frozen solid
  • 1 Tbsp (heaping) cashew butter
  • 1/2 tsp grade B maple syrup (optional)
  • dash of vanilla extract (seriously, a few drops will do)
  • a pinch of cardamom or 3 drops cardamom bitters

Directions:

This takes some serious power so I suggest using a NutriBullet (what I use) or a BlendTec or Vitamix type of blender.  The banana is very solid and it could damage your less-powerful blenders.
  1. Take frozen banana pieces and blend until smooth.  You will probably have to pulse it first several times, and then scrape down the sides of the blender before you blend.
  2. Once banana is thoroughly blended, add the rest of the ingredients and blend until incorporated.  Be careful not to over blend, or your ice cream will be more like a warm milkshake.
  3. Pop in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm up a bit, or eat right away. Top with chocolate chips, nuts, or blueberries.

If you want to try your hand at making mini-waffle cones, this quinoa flour recipe is perfect if you omit the baking soda.

Really, the possibilities are endless when you are using banana as the base.  I’m going to get creative this summer and see how many variations I can make.  Because ice cream.

Always Bananapants and Never Banana Hammocks,
Carrie

 

 

Quinoa Fritters with Coconut Honey Butter

This post is made possible by the generous sponsorship of Bob’s Red Mill.

We are strictly gluten-free at our house because of my son’s FPIES, (which is a fancy acronym for Allergic to Practically Everything).  Luckily, E can handle quinoa like a champ. I’m always looking for food all of our friends and family can enjoy so our kid grows up eating the same food as everyone else at our table. Traditional breakfast foods are the most challenging dishes to make to please a crowd.

Enter my BFF, Quinoa.

Quinoa is one of those universal foods that, when prepared correctly, is unbelievably satisfying. These fritters (I would call them pancakes except these are much more flavorful and delightfully crispy) are total crowd pleasers.  Even though I plan food as much as possible around E’s dietary restrictions, I also love to challenge myself and find new ways to make really tasty food that doesn’t feel restrictive in any way.  The quinoa fritters totally fit that bill.

Quinoa Fritters

I also have a hard time getting enough fat into my toddler’s diet, so I look for unique ways to incorporate fats into my dishes.  This coconut honey butter is totally edible as a stand-alone, if that’s what you’re into.

CoconutHoneyButter

Ingredients for Fritters:

  • 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill organic quinoa flour
  • 1/2 cup milk (plant or animal)
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 2 Tbsp melted coconut oil or butter
  • 2 Tbsp raw honey or other equivalent sweetener (optional)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • tiny pinch of salt

Directions For Fritters:

  1. Whisk baking soda, cinnamon and quinoa flour together in a bowl.
  2. Add wet ingredients and combine thoroughly.
  3. Heat a tablespoon of coconut oil or butter in a skillet on medium heat.
  4. When skillet is hot, spoon batter into skillet and spread out with the back of the spoon into a thin round shape. Flip when the edges begin to cook and the center begins to bubble ever so slightly. It should only take a minute or two to finish cooking.
  5. Press the pancake with the spatula to see if it is finished cooking.  If it is mushy in the middle, it needs more time.  If it is firm, it’s ready to eat.

Ingredients for Coconut Honey Butter:

  • 1/2 cup virgin coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (I prefer Kerrygold)
  • 1-2 Tbsp raw honey

Directions for Coconut Honey Butter:

  1. Remove butter from refrigerator and bring to room temp. (Butter should be very soft.)
  2. In a small sauce pan, melt coconut oil but do not make it hot.  Heat it just enough to liquify it. Remove from heat.
  3. Whisk honey into coconut oil, and then whisk together with room temperature butter. (I prefer to use an electric hand mixer, but a hand mixer would work fine.)
  4. Spread over a saran wrapped plate or small cookie sheet, and freeze until firm, (or spread immediately).
  5. Cut into small squares and melt over piping hot fritters.

You can add anything you want into this batter.  I think pieces of cooked, thick cut bacon would be fabulous in this recipe.  Blueberries, and even zucchini or pieces of banana would be super tasty.  Or, better yet, add bananas and bacon and you’ll have a scrumptious breakfast feast.  But whatever you do, you can make it your own.

Quinoa’s Biggest Fan,
Carrie