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.

vintage-strawberry-shortcake-cute-31000

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

 

 

 

Creamy Avocado Zoodles {Paleo Vegan Raw}

My friend, Feather, is hilarious.  She’s also kind of a genius.

We met when our babies were still safe little blueberries, growing fast in our bellies.  I offered Feather my drink tickets at my husband’s office Christmas party.  She declined, telling me she was pregnant.  Then I got (too) excited and exclaimed “Me, too!” and thus a friendship was born. And then our babies were born shortly after.

Our kids, E and Rosebud, were born exactly one week apart and Feather and I have been able to support and love each other on every part of this parenting journey.  We are often grateful that our babies conspired to bring us together, because everyone knows babies are magic and can totally do that.  E and Rosebud knew we would need each other.  They were right.  Because Magic.

One day, when our babies were about 6 months old, Feather texted me about a new product she had purchased called the “Vegetti”.  We giggled and turned into 14 year-olds immediately, and then spent an afternoon volleying inappropriate jokes back and forth between diaper changes and bottle feedings.  Because new moms need lots of distraction and laughter, even if it involves bathroom humor.  Maybe especially if it does.

Of course, I had to buy a Vegetti immediately. The Vegetti is a vegetable spiralizer and uses fresh vegetables, like carrots and zucchini, to make noodles.  I experimented and played with it, and came up with a really yummy dish (and several more jokes) that satisfied me for several hours. It also provided a big boost of healthy fat and nutrient dense veggies, which I desperately needed.  It was a fast, healthy lunch, and with a handful of cashews or some uncured ham, it was a complete meal for me.

AvocadoZoodles

*If you don’t have a spiralizer or don’t want to invest in one, you can use a carrot peeler and make wider noodles. It will work just as well, and create a slightly different texture.  You can also add some shredded parmesan to add depth and a hint of buttery flavor.

Ingredients:
  • 1 large zucchini, spiralized, shredded or peeled
  • 1 medium avocado
  • 8-10 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 3-4 leaves of fresh basil, chopped or ribboned
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • sea salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Put noodles and basil in a medium mixing bowl.
  2. Mash avocado, adding salt and pepper and lemon juice.
  3. Add mashed avocado to the zucchini, and mix thoroughly.
  4. Add tomatoes and stir until they are coated in avocado and well incorporated.
  5. Serve immediately with fresh cracked pepper and a little extra basil on top.

Feather and I are still making jokes, supporting each other in the middle of our crazy times, and raising our babies together.  We even had a mommy getaway last year and Cannon Beach gave us this amazing moment because it somehow knew we needed it. Or maybe our babies knew we needed it and arranged it with their Baby Magic. Who knows?  But we definitely loved our wine and beach sunset. Kind of like you will love the zoodles.

CannonBeachFeatherandCarrie

Vegging and Vegetti-ing,
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.
CarbonaraCloseUp

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.

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Buena Suerte,

Carrie

Crêpes Florentine {Grain-Free}

Crepe CloseThis is a story about Paris.

In my early 20’s, I did some short-term non-profit work in Kenya.  I had an option of extending my layover in London for $20 for up to two weeks.  I jumped at the opportunity to do a little backpacking and fulfill a lifelong dream to visit Europe.  I took the Chunnel from London to Paris and couldn’t wait to fall in love with the City of Lights.

Except it was broad daylight and I was lost and carrying a 50lb pack with all of my worldly possessions in it.  After wandering and backtracking and asking directions from the disapproving locals, I found my hostel after an hour.  I nearly cried with relief.

The neighborhood was…sketchy.  Close to the Moulin Rouge, it had a fascinating mix of people, mostly tourists, drug addicts, and aggressively struggling artists.  I was terrified and charmed at once.

I checked into the hostel which matched the neighborhood.  It was filthy, but I was in Paris.  Paris is dirty, right?  Like every other big city in the world.  I paid a few extra bucks for bed linens, threw my stuff in my room, and took off to explore the city in the early summer light.

I found the subway with no problem this time.  I boarded and felt my heart leap as we came above ground and I had my first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower.  I might have gotten choked up seeing the great steel structure.  I had dreamed of Paris since I was a little girl.  And my dream was coming true.

I got off the subway at the nearest stop to the Eiffel Tower.  I made a beeline for it, overwhelmed with the grandness of it.  It was everything I dreamed it would be.

I spotted a man with a small crêpe stand, and ordered a Nutella crêpe. It was the most revolutionary thing I had ever eaten. Then I ordered a savory crêpe with spinach and ham and brie.  It was the second best thing I had ever eaten.  I took my crêpes and a bottle of water to the lawn in front of the Eiffel Tower and laid back.  I watched people come and go, everyone full of laughter and early summer sparkle.  Then I grabbed another Nutella crêpe on my way back to the train.

It was 9:00pm and still light outside.  I made my way back to my hostel, suddenly feeling very vulnerable.  I held my head high, looked straight ahead, and expertly ignored the calls for attention and invitations to share cigarettes with French men.  I got to the hostel with a sigh of relief and headed up to my room.

I opened the door.  A tiny mouse scattered across the floor.  It was charming in an odd way. I mean, it was very Parisian, right?  I made my bed, took a shower, and headed downstairs to see what was happening in the bar/lounge.  I made some friends, shared a cheap bottle of wine, and then went back to my room to sleep.

Except I did not sleep.

I pulled my sheets back and there were…unwanted bed mates.  I wish I could say they were bedbugs, but they were much larger and horrifying.  I swatted them out of my bed (remember, I had just been in Africa so it was NBD), and pulled out my can of African bug repellent.  I opened the window to ventilate the room and tried to settle in.

My sleep was uneasy, to say the least. Noise and lights and music from the street drifted into my room and I felt like I was actually in the middle of the revelry. People on the fire escape outside my room were drinking and singing. It was too hot and poisonous to close the window, though.

I finally nodded off around 3:00, only to be woken up by a cat chasing a very large rat around my room.  They had both entered through my open window. I watched the cat catch the rat, incapacitated it, and then took his leave through the window.  Then it was just me and a slowly dying rat in my pest-infested hostel room at 6:30 am.

It was a sign.

I got up, showered again, packed all of my gear, and checked out.  I spent the morning searching for a decent place to stay, and in the process offended every Parisian ever with my questions and unintelligible French. All the good hostels had been booked well in advance.  I ate another fantastic crêpe by the Eiffel Tower and then booked an overnight train to Prague.  While I loved the tower and crêpes, I couldn’t leave Paris fast enough.

I’ve been back to Paris a few times since then.  Each experience was progressively better, but besides the food, art, and architecture, I never was able to surrender my heart to the city.

I still have a strong affinity for crêpes, though.  They’re hard to master, but I certainly try even with my food intolerances.  I gave this recipe a go, and I love the simplicity and versatility of it.  The crêpes themselves are simple, and so is the filling.  This particular crêpe lands somewhere between a Florentine and Lorraine, so I created a hybrid.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Crepe Big

Ingredients for Crêpes:

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 oz cream cheese
  • pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon

Directions for Crêpes:

  1. Blend all of the ingredients together in a blender or magic bullet until smooth.
  2. Tap the batter on the counter to release some of the bubbles. (I’m too impatient to wait for them to settle on their own!)
  3. In a lightly greased sautee pan on medium low heat, pour batter into pan. Rotate the pan quickly to spread batter out before it cooks too much.  You want the crepe to be thin and even.
  4. Flip when crepe is firm and the batter is no longer shiny on top.  Once flipped, the crêpe will cook very quickly, (30 seconds).

Ingredients for Filling:

  • 1 slice of ham, cut into postage stamp sized pieces
  • 1 handful of raw spinach
  • 1 small slice of brie

Directions for Filling:

  1. Heat up ham in a skillet (I use the crepe skillet)
  2. Add the spinach and just wilt it a bit.  It should be warm but not slimy.
  3. Put filling in an open crepe, and top with brie.
  4. Crack a little fresh pepper over it, and if you have it, a garlic mustard aioli.
  5. Fold up like a burrito, leaving one end open.  Serve immediately.

CrepeFilled

This is street food at it’s finest.  It’s so yummy and easy.  I love this for breakfast, especially because you get your greens in.  You can make the crepes in advance and use them for sandwich wraps, or make it sweet and add a little honey and vanilla to the batter and stuff with hazelnut chocolate spread.  You could make them thicker and call it a pancake.  The options are endless!i

This is as  close to Paris as I ever want to be again.  Italy, on the other hand…

Ouî Ouî,
Carrie

 

 

Zesty Kale Chips

kalechips

Kale chips, by far, is my most frequently requested recipe outside of desserts.  Friends, family, readers, and remarkably self-aware Portland toddlers demand good kale chips.  There are a million ideas on the interwebs, and I feel as though I’ve tried them ALL.  And I don’t love them, I’ll be honest. Well, except for this brand.  I can eat that spendy kale goodness all day long.  But in general, I can’t quite get used to the bitter flavor of the brittle, crispy kale.

However, I’m always up for a challenge unless it involves something that I don’t want to do, like running a marathon or laundry.  Then I’ll gladly say Uncle! and curl up on the couch with a good book and glass of wine.

Given my love of kale and your great interest, though, I actually feel morally compelled to find a kale chip recipe that is not only passable, but doesn’t make me want to eat a whole cake afterward just to get the taste out of my mouth.

Cake Is A Liar

So, when I created a kale chip recipe that I wanted to eat compulsively, I did a little kitchen dance of joy. These little guys took  about 6 tries before I was satisfied with the results, and I ate them until I was almost full. Because you can’t REALLY get full on kale chips.

They taste wonderfully spicy, a little cheesy, and satisfied my snack cravings.  The only problem?  I wanted more.  I also used coconut oil which helped with the bitter flavor.  It is my favorite oil to use on the kale chips by far.

So, I give you Zesty Kale Chips!

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of kale, washed, de-stemmed, and dried thoroughly
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil or melted coconut oil  (This coconut spray worked REALLY WELL, but I can’t vouch for it’s nutritional value or purity.)
  • 2 tsp favorite salt-free seasoning mix (I chose a Grill’n Chop kind, but Spike would work.)
  • smoked sea salt (which you can find at Trader Joe’s for cheap, or in the bulk bins at Whole Foods)

Directions:

  1. After you’ve torn the kale into bite-sized pieces, put in a mixing bowl and spray or drizzle oil over leaves.  Mix well.
  2. Spread leaves over a baking sheet in a single layer.
  3. Sprinkle nutritional yeast over the kale, and then follow with salt-free seasoning and a very light sprinkle of salt
  4. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven.
  5. Kale should be dark green and even a tiny bit brown in some places, but crunchy.  Consume immediately.

So, there you have it.  My You-Don’t-Want-To-Eat-Cake-After-Eating-These-Kale-Chips Recipe.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

All Hail The Kale,
Carrie