Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Book Review and Grain Free Pumpkin Roll

We are full swing into pumpkin season. Pumpkin drinks (PSL), pumpkin doughnuts, pumpkin pie. You name it and someone will turn a recipe into a pumpkin treat.  For several weeks, I've had the privilege of reviewing the wonderful cookbook, Without Grain by Hayley Ryczek. In her book,  Hayley has done a great job of explaining what a grain free lifestyle looks like.  The how-to's, the why's, and awesome recipes--it is all in her new cook book. She includes 100 recipes that are grain free, gluten free, and wheat free. The information Hayley provides helps anyone understand this lifestyle better.
Some of my favorite recipes from Without Grain are the bagels, waffles, and crispy baked pork chops. My kids loved the pork chops! Everything I've made has been full of flavor and very satisfying. 
You can learn more about Hayley and find mouth watering recipes on her website, Health Starts in the Kitchen. And.....she's been so nice to allow me to share with you her recipe for Pumpkin Roll with Cream Cheese Filling! 
If you have ever looked at those plump, oozing with yummy filling pumpkin rolls in the store then you know they are probably filled with ingredients that you don't really want to eat. They also look a little intimidating to make.  But this pumpkin roll recipe has delicious ingredients--that you can pronounce-- like coconut sugar, almond flour, and maple syrup. And best of all, other than tasting amazing, is how easy it is to make. So I do hope you try this recipe and let me know when you do!

Pumpkin Roll with Cream Cheese Filling

For Cake:
1/4 cup blanched almond flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1/4 cup arrowroot starch
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3 large eggs
1 cup coconut sugar
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
Optional: 1 cup chopped nuts, such as walnuts or pecans
Powdered sugar, for dusting

For Filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 375° or gas mark 5.  Line a 15x10 inch jelly-roll pan with lightly greased parchment paper.

2. To make the cake: In a medium bowl, combine the flour, starches, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, and salt and mix well.

3. In a large bowl with a handheld mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed, beat together the eggs and coconut sugar until thick.  Add the pumpkin puree and blend until combined.  Gradually add the dry ingredients and mix until smooth.

4. Pour the batter onto the prepared jelly-roll pan and sprinkle with the chopped nuts, if desired.  Bake for 10-15 minutes until the top of the cake springs back when touched.

5. While the cake is baking, spread out a clean kitchen towel and sprinkle with powdered sugar.  When the cake is done, remove it from the oven and gently flip the cake onto the powdered sugared towel, so the parchment paper is on top, and peel off the paper.

6. Staring at the short end, roll up the towel and cake together into a jelly roll.  Set seam-side down and allow to completely cool while rolled up, about 1 hour.

7. To make the filling: In a bowl with a handheld mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed, beat together the cream cheese and butter until fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the honey, maple syrup, and vanilla and beat until smooth.

8. When the cake is completely cool, gently unroll it and spread with the cream cheese filling to the edges.  Roll it back up (without the towel) and wrap in plastic wrap.  Chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour before cutting and serving.  Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.

NOTE:  Pumpkin rolls freeze well, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, for up to 6 months.  (Freeze it in slices so you can take out just what you need.) Allow to thaw overnight in the fridge before serving.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Easy Italian Cucumber Salad

I just whipped up this salad for a picnic tomorrow. It was very quick and easy. There aren't many ingredients and most you probably have on hand.
It is the season for picnics and cookouts and easy recipes are always winners!

Easy Cucumber Salad

2-3 Cucumbers
3 Roma tomatoes
1/2 small red onion
Bottled Italian salad dressing
Fresh purple basil
Cracked black pepper
Mozzarella Cheese, fresh

Wash the veggies. Slice Cucumbers into thick rounds then quarter the rounds. Dice tomatoes. Combine those in a large bowl. Dice onion and add to bowl. Crack some black pepper over veggies.  Snip some fresh purple basil in there. As much as you like. Stir all that together then pour about half a bottle of Italian dressing over veggies and stir. You may want more dressing, but this amount looked like enough for me. Cover and chill for several hours before serving. Just before serving, stir in some fresh mozzarella cheese.

That's it! What are some of your favorite cookout sides?

Happy picnicking!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Clean, Healthy Snacks

Well it's that time of year again. Summer is sneaking up on us. Yay!! It truly is my favorite time of year. I'm definitely a warm weather girl.
I'm going to share with you a few of my favorite snacks for those warm weather days of summer. (Really, these snacks are great all year round.)
These are easy, healthy snacks that are also clean and natural.

Frozen Grapes
These are such a refreshing treat on a hot day!  Just wash red or green seedless grapes, dry well, place in a plastic bag, and then place the bag flat in the freezer. Keep the bag flat so the grapes are in a single layer. Freeze for a few hours until they are solid. Keep in the freezer for a quick snack. 

Clementines/Mandarins and Nuts 
 These little orange babies are so good and sweet. Nature's candy! Pair these with almonds or pistachios and you've got a great snack.

Celery/Apple with Nut Butter 
Nothing fancy here, just raw celery or a sliced apple with a natural, no sugar added nut butter of your choice. I made almond butter in my Vitamix with just roasted almonds and a tiny bit of sea salt. If you need to sweeten it, mix in a little raw honey.

Frozen Yogurt Drops 

These are very easy to make with plain Greek yogurt and a little honey. Pipe drops, freeze, and enjoy.
 Start with about one cup, or one seven ounce container of nonfat or low fat plain Greek yogurt. Choose wisely and use plain as it doesn't have added sugar. Mix in one tablespoon of raw honey. Put that mixture into a piping bag or a plastic zipper bag with a corner snipped off. Pipe onto a lined cookie sheet. Just pipe small, bite size drops. Freeze until firm, a few hours. Transfer to a container and keep in the freezer. 

Have fun making your healthy snacks and share some of your ideas! 
Happy snacking!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Smoked Paprika and Rosemary Roasted Chicken

We eat a lot of chicken around here. It's good stuff. Don't ya think? Problem is....sometimes I get into a cooking rut. Yea, you too? Thought so. I feel like sometimes I've been cooking the same thing over and over again. Or, it's chicken night. ...what can I do differently to keep smiles all around my kitchen table?

And speaking of the kitchen table--- my awesome husband built ours from wood taken off his family's farm. The boards were used in hog killings back in the day.  Still has the knife marks. (If that makes you queasy,  just stop for a minute, close your eyes, and think of just how good bacon tastes.) It is actually a pretty cool table with rich history. And we get to sit around it every day.  3 times a day!  (Or more) Y'all sit and eat with your family around the kitchen (or dining room, or breakfast nook, or patio) table. Make memories, TALK to one another, pray together.

Ok...I guess you might want to know about this chicken. That is, if you're still reading.

Well, I have this delicious smoked paprika.  I also have fresh rosemary in my herb garden. And a freezer full of chicken thighs. We love chicken thighs...tender and full of flavor. Roasting on high heat does not take long, so that's also a plus for this recipe. Another plus is that I used Kerrygold butter.  Enough said, right?

So basically, melt butter, pour over chicken, season only one side, and roast. Done. And delicious.

Smoked Paprika and Rosemary Roasted Chicken

8-10 boneless skinless chicken thighs
4 tablespoons butter (I prefer Kerrygold)
Sea salt & black pepper
1-2 teaspoons smoked paprika
Fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 400°
Pat dry your chicken and place on a baking pan with sides. I  use a shallow stone. Melt the butter. Pour butter over chicken then season with sea salt and pepper. Adjust the salt to your personal preference and needs. Next, sprinkle or rub the smoked paprika on your chicken thighs. Begin with 1 tsp and add more as you like. I like a good amount. Snip fresh sprigs of rosemary all over the chicken.
Place in oven and roast until done...30-45 minutes or until chicken is 180° internally. No need to turn the chicken while it is cooking.

*Note* Regular paprika will not have the same flavor as the smoked, so I would not substitute it.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken

I love spending time in my kitchen cooking. I love feeding people. But some days I really just want something quick, easy, delicious, and all natural.  I found a similar recipe for salsa chicken online but it was a little too plain for me. I decided to jazz it up a bit with extra seasoning and fancy salsa.

2 boneless skinless chicken breaststroke
1 cup of all natural pineapple or peach salsa
1 cup of corn, frozen
1 teaspoon chili powder

Spray slow cooker pot with non stick spray. Place chicken in then the other ingredients.  Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours or until chicken is done.
When done, shred chicken with two forks and give it all a good stir. 

Serve over brown rice, tortilla chips, a bed of lettuce, or in a soft tortilla.  Top with grated cheese and fresh cilantro. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Gingersnaps-- Gluten Free

Ginger, molasses, cinnamon.... those are the tastes and smells of fall, right? Well not necessarily. Many people associate those with fall, yes. In my house, we love them all year round. So I'll be happy to make ginger cookies or molasses cookies or gingerbread muffins (you get the picture) any time! A couple months ago my online friend, Kate posted these spicy gingersnaps recipe.  They looked so good! And they were gluten free. Score! And in that same weekend, my husband and I found a very similar prepackaged gluten free gingersnap with candied ginger in them. Oh those were so good too. I knew I wanted to make a gingersnap...with the candied ginger.  It just took me two months to get around to it.
A peek at the ingredients. That's almond flour back there.

Candied ginger or Crystallized ginger---your choice
I used a small scoop because these cookies do spread quite a bit.

I basically used Kate's recipe as a foundation and then tweaked it to suit our taste buds.  I used one teaspoon of sea salt, but I've written the recipe for a half of teaspoon because I thought one was a little too much after tasting.  I use a little fresh grated ginger and I really believe that makes a difference too. 

Gingersnaps-- Gluten Free

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened (I use Kerrygold)
1 cup coconut sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup molasses
2 cups almond flour (I prefer Honeyville)
1/4 cup arrowroot powder (Bob's Red Mill)
1 tsp baking soda (Bob's Red Mill)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 Tablespoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1-2 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 Tablespoon chopped candied ginger

In a stand mixer, mix the butter and sugar until creamy.   Add the egg and molasses and mix until combined well.   

In a separate bowl, whisk together the almond flour, arrowroot powder, baking soda, salt, ground ginger, and cinnamon.  

Add the flour mixture to the mixer and mix well. Once combined, stir in (by hand) the fresh grated ginger and the candied ginger.  

Chill the dough for an hour or up to two days.  
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Using a small scoop, or a teaspoon, drop small balls onto cookie sheet....a couple inches apart.  These spread quite a bit.  Bake for 12-14 minutes.  Cool on pan for 10 minutes or so then transfer to a cooling rack. These cookies will get crispier as they cool. 


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Blueberry Chia Overnight Oats

Overnight oats have probably been around for a while, but we've recently just discovered them. I know---crazy, right? While oats aren't something I want to eat every morning (because I like eggs and bacon way too much), I do love the convenience of these.
These are perfect for mornings that you know you'll be busy and don't have time to cook. For us, overnight oats are great for Sunday mornings. We have a healthy breakfast before church that isn't heavy! 
Overnight oats are also so versatile! The possibilities for flavors and combos are endless. The oats thicken nicely in the milk while you are sleeping soundly. They are also great because they can be adapted to fit the needs of your family if food allergies are present. Of course, it is also just fun to eat out of a jar!
Try different combos, get creative, and yes, play with your food. I give you permission. :)

Blueberry Chia Overnight Oats

1/2 cup oats (gfree if needed)
3/4 cup milk (any kind)
Splash of vanilla
1 Tbsp chia seeds
1 Tbsp brown sugar or honey
~1/3 cup blueberries
Optional-- plain Greek yogurt (just a little) or vanilla protein powder (1/2 scoop)

Mix all ingredients in a jarCover with lid and place in refrigerator overnightEnjoy in the morningThis is meant to be eaten coldbut I still like to microwave it about 30 seconds before eating. I also add additional blueberries before indulging.