Chocolate Coconut Cookies

gluten free / dairy free / flour free / grain free / refined sugar free

In the excitement of Easter and the beginning of spring break last week, I completely forgot to post the recipe for these amazing chocolate coconut cookies. I was introduced to these cookies by a girlfriend of mine and they are my go to cookies when I am jonesing for a sweet and have no time to bake. Enjoy! nom nom

Prep Time: 10 minutes       Bake Time: 12-15 minutes

Makes 12

1 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut, shredded

1/3 cup coconut sugar

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1 egg or flaxseed egg

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup chocolate chips; I prefer dark chocolate but any type will work!

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together coconut, coconut sugar, coconut oil, egg and vanilla. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  3. Roll dough into golf ball size balls and place 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Lightly flatten with your palm or flat side of a measuring cup.
  4. Bake until edges are golden brown, 12- 15 minutes. Let cookies cool before handling.

Slow Cooker Vegetarian Pasta Fagioli and Grown up Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

 

gluten free / vegetarian / dairy free option 

This meal represents to a tee both sides of my foodie mind. One the right side you have the very healthy, super easy vegetarian (with a meat option) pasta fagioli. And on my left side yo u have a decadent, gooey adult grilled cheese (which can also be made kid friendly with ease). This is a great mid week meal since the soup is done in the slow cooker and the grilled cheeses are super quick. I love these types of soup in early spring because they are still warm and hearty for the cold nights but at the same time is a light broth based soup perfect for those warmer days. The grilled cheese came about as a bit of a bribe… or better yet as a reward for my kids to eat the soup. And I can personally attest that this system worked like a charm since my five year old daugher ate it all, and even gave me a hug and said it was “a very good meal.” Score.

One reason we all love the slow cooker is because we can just “throw” it together, walk away, and 8 hours later we have a kitchen that smells like we’ve been cooking all day. Now, I don’t mean to be a negative nancy here but even though its a “throw and go” style of cooking  you still have to do whatever prep work comes with it. And if your mornings are anything like ours that prep work can sometimes be more than we can handle. So here are a few quick tips on how I make it as easy as possible. First, prep the night before by chopping your onion, garlic and cabbage/kale and put them into containers or baggies and store in the fridge. Also, set out your canned goods and your slow cooker. If you are adding meat to the dish, you can also go ahead and saute that the night before and refrigerate once it is cool. In terms of the grilled cheeses, you could also go ahead and carmalize your onions. That way in the morning, your prep time has been cut in half!! Now I know there are a few of you thinking “This lady is nuts…. I’m fried at the end of the day and the last thing I want to do is cook…again.” But hear me out….I wait until my kids are asleep, put on whatever music I feel in the mood for, perhaps I make a cocktail or crack open a cidre, and for the next 20 minutes I just jam, sip and chop. Before you know it, the prep work is done and your morning just got a whole lot easier!! Enjoy!! nom nom

Pasta Fagioli Soup

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 8 hours

2 tsp olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 medium cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp Italian seasoning

3/4-1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp freshly ground black poepper

4  1/2 cups vegetable broth,

1/2 small green cabbage or 1 bunch of kale; stems removed, finely chopped (4 cups) For kids: the cabbage will be much softer aka”mushier” than the kale which typically makes it a better option. The kale adds a great heartiness to the soup and gives it more a rustic italian feel.

4 medium carrots, peeled and diced

1-2 medium zucchini, diced

1 (15-ounce) can dark kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 cup small GF pasta of your choice

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Additional salt and pepper to taste

Optional: 1 lb of ground beef or 1/2 lb if you want to keep half of it vegetarian (see note below)

Optional toppings: Fresh parsley, shredded Parmesan cheese, or for a kick red pepper chili flakes

Note: In order for my kids to eat this soup I have to do two things. One, let them pick the noodle shape and two, add ground beef to the soup. I enjoy it both ways but since I am limiting the amount of meat I eat I choose to eat this vegetarian and save my meaty mains for something else.

  1. Drizzle the olive oil into a large saute pan set over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring once or twice, for 1 minute. Splash in about 1/2 cup of the vegetable broth and scrape up any bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan. Pour into slow cooker. NOTE: If you are pressed for time, you can leave the onions and garlic raw. But if you can, saute them! It definately enhances the flavor.
  2. To the slow cooker, add remaining vegetable broth, cabbage/kale, carrots, zuchinni, beans, and tomatoes. (If you’re adding 1 pound ground beef to the entire batch, you can cook and drain the ground beef and add it now.) Cook for 8 hours on low.
  3. About 20 minutes before the you are ready to serve soup bring a pot of water to boil. Add a drizzle of olive oil and your cup of GF pasta. Cook it according to package directions. Drain and set side. If you’re adding ground beef to half, set a large saucepan over medium heat, add the 1/2 pound ground beef, and cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, and no pink remains. Drain any excess fat. Transfer a little less than half the soup to the pan with the ground beef and let simmer, covered, until soup is heated through.
  4. Stir in red wine vinegar (divide between separate pots if doing the half-meaty version) and taste. Add additional salt and pepper if desired.
  5. Place the pasta in your bowl and ladle the soup over it. Note: GF pasta loves to suck up all the liquid in soups. So we just make the noodles seperate and add them to the soup before serving. This way we don’t use a ton of extra stock trying to add liquids back in!
  6. Serve topped with chopped parsley and with Parmesan cheese if desired.

 

Grilled Goat Cheese Sandwiches with Carmelized Red Onions

Serving: 1 sandwich

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

*to make these dairy free just sub in your preferred non-dairy cheese slices

2 slices of GF bread; we usually use Trader Joe’s GF bread but Rudi’s Sandwich bread is good too!

1-2 tsp butter or butter spread

1 oz of soft plain goat cheese

1-2 oz Drunken goat cheese; you can get this type of cheese at most stores such as Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods

2 TBS carmelized red onions (see note below)

handful of spinach and arugula salad blend. If you cant find that either one by itself would work.

  1. Thinly slice one small red onion and set aside. Heat a small skillet over medium high heat and add 1 1/2 TBS olive oil to pan. Once the oil is hot add red onion slices and cook until soft; appx 10 minutes. Once soft add 1-2 TBS balsamic vinegar and simmer until balsamic vinegar is reduced to a glaze on the onions; an additional  10-15 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Heat a large non stick skillet over medium heat and coat with a non stick spray or a light olive oil rub on the skillet. Butter one side of each piece of bread and lay butter side down on plate or cutting board to build your sandwich.
  3. Place the greens down first, followed by the cheese, and finish with the carmelized red onions on top.
  4. Place top piece of bread on sandwich and place in the hot skillet. Cook until bread is a golden brown, press down lightly on sandwich with the back of your spatula before flipping. This ensures the sandwich will stay together when you flip it. Cook until other side is golden brown. Remove from pan and slice sandwich diaganolly.

Variations: Proscuitto or Serrano ham give this sandwich the ultimate gourmet touch. 2 slices per sandwich.

Kid Version: If your kids are willing to try things, have them try the sandwich as is. The onions are sweeter because of the balsamic reduction and the greens are nicely masked by the cheese. If you have picky eaters, which I understand as I have one…. just take off the onions and greens. The goat cheese’s used are both mild so kids typically love this sandwich.

 

 

Chocolate Chip Cookies

gluten free /grain free /dairy free option vegan option /vegan option

It’s cookie time!!!!! One of my first and most beloved memories I have as a child is making Toll House cookies with my dad. He would sit me on the counter in the kitchen and I would watch with anticipation as he creamed together the butter and sugar, my legs swinging more excitedly with every stir  until the moment arrived to add the chocolate chips and get a taste of the dough. yes, yes….I know its bad to eat raw dough but it’s SO freakin’ good. This was a Friday night tradition in our house until I left for school and remains one of my favorite desserts. It is also hands down the best (albeit the only) thing my dad makes. My mom and I are convinced its because he is strong and can stir the dough until it is so smooth and creamy that the cookies literally melt like butter in your mouth. So, needless to say I have been searching for a chocolate chip cookie recipe that could not only live up to the beloved Toll House cookie and all the memories it carried but be better from a nutrition standpoint and delicious enough to be a favorite of my kids for years to come. The recipe below may very well be THE ONE.  I found it on Pinterest via the blog Texanerin Baking.  The only change I made was to not use brown sugar and to use coconut sugar instead. It’s a fantastic recipe in my opinion as it is gluten free, refined sugar free and grain free with a dairy free option! And the cookies….OH MY LORD. They are chewy, soft and the sweetness is mild because of the coconut sugar used. They are simple to make and if you don’t regularly use coconut or almond flour in your cooking you can just run and get the specific amount from the bulk section of your grocery. Enjoy!! And check back tomorrow because I am going to make these cookies using dark chocolate chunks and chopped nuts! nom nom

Update……These cookies are perfect to make ice cream sandwiches!!! We used So Delicious Vanilla Coconut Milk Ice Cream. I used a small ice cream scoop and placed 3 scoops on one cookie, placed the second cookie on top and applied light pressure to the top cookie to spread out the ice cream!!!! So good!!!!!

1 egg or flaxseed egg

6 TBS almond butter, room temperature

1 cup almond flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup coconut flour

3/4 cup of coconut sugar

1/4 tsp salt; I prefer fleur de sel

1 1/4 cups of chocolate chips, I use Lily’s dark chocolate baking chips

1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

6 TBS butter or butter alternative; room temperature

  1. In medium bowl, whisk together almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  2. In stand mixer, beat together butter and coconut sugar on medium speed until well blended
  3. Beat in almond butter and vanilla on medium speed until combined. Slow mixer to low speed, add in egg  and mix until throughly combined. Add in the flour and mix until combined. Add in chocolate chips.Place dough in the refrigerator for an hour or until firm.
  4. Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Roll dough into balls that are slightly larger than a golf ball. There should be approximately 14 cookies. Place 2-3 inches apart on the cookie sheet. With the flat side of a measuring cup or your palm lightly press the cookie balls into discs. Bake 12-14 minutes or until center of the cookie no longer appears wet and the edges are slightly brown.
  6. Remove cookies from oven, place on wire cooling rack and let cool completely before eating.

 

Vegetarian Pot Pie

gluten free / dairy free / vegan option

Well….I am only 3 days late in posting this recipe which is honestly better than I predicted. It wasn’t necessarily a crazy week but it has been busy running around with my son trying to get his eye situation resolved. And with a huge sigh of relief I can say that he has been diagnosed with accomodative esotropia (crossed eyes). This is very common in children two and older and besides the headaches he gets from trying to focus causes him no significant pain. The first step is glasses and if that is not successful we will try patching his eyes followed by surgery as our last resort. We ordered his rubber glasses, blue ones, with the theory that since it is his fav color he might want to wear them. And yes, I know that is extremely unlikely to work since he is 2 and as stubborn a child as I have ever met. We also got state of the art indestructible, bullet proof lenses to go with them. Ok, just kidding about the bullet proof lenses, but the opthamologist did promise they would be hard to destroy. And with a skeptical look plastered on my face and my smart ass comments safely locked away I returned that promise with one of my own; “if there is even the slightest chance in hell that they can be broken, rest assured my kid will be the one to do it”.

okay…enough about me and on to the more important topic of food!! I decided to make this pot pie for a friend of mine who had recently been in the hospital for severe stomach issues. We cannot eat alot of the same foods and over the span of time we have been friends we have both slowly given up foods that we once loved. So when I found out she had been sick I reached out and asked what I could do to help. Her reply was….you guessed it, food. Whatever I made needed to be dairy free and gluten free but also be low spice and low acidity. Personally, I always veer towards comfort foods when either myself or someone else is sick. Unfortunatley, living with the dietary restrictions that myself and my friend have comfort foods tend to be off the table for us. For me, it is one of the main reasons I started this blog. On the one hand, I was more than willing to give up the gluten, dairy and refined sugar so I could reclaim my body and begin to heal. But on the other, I was devastated to think of all of my favorite foods being off limits and of all of the recipes I had grown up with disappearing in the blink of an eye. So, I did what any rational foodie would do. I pouted and moped around feeling sorry for myself. I ate what I was supposed to eat 99% of the time and here and there would go off the rails only to be slapped in the face with various unsavory ailments I won’t regal you with. And so the cycle went until one day I decided it was no longer worth the misery to eat those occasional “naughty” foods and that instead of giving up my favorite things I was just going to remake them to fit my needs. And here is one of my very first redo’s…..I am proud to introduce my new and improved vegetarian pot pie! Enjoy!

Ingredients

6 medium carrots; peeled and thinly sliced

1 large onion; finely diced

1 cup fresh or frozen peas

1 tsp French Thyme; dried

3 medium Yukon potatoes or 2 large sweet potatoes; peeled and chopped into 1 in pieces

2 cups vegetable broth

1/2 cup GF all purpose flour or gluten free flour mix #1

1/2 tsp black pepper; freshly ground

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

4 TBS olive oil; divided

2 TBS butter or butter alternative

1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk

1/4 cup white wine; I prefer a sauvignon blanc but that’s purely because then I can drink the remaining bottle. A buttery chardonnay would work really well too! If you would rather not use wine, just sub in vegetable broth.

Gluten Free Pie Crust

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Peel potatoes and chop them into 1 inch dice. Place potatoes in medium saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Boil 15-20 minutes or until the potaoes are fork tender. Drain water and set aside in a bowl.
  3. While potatoes are cooking heat a large pot or dutch oven over med-high heat. Add 2 TBS of oil. Once oil is hot, add carrots and saute 15 minutes or until they begin to soften. Add onions and continue to saute until they begin to brown and carmelize; about 15 minutes. Transfer to bowl with potatoes.
  4. Reduce heat to medium and add butter and 2 TBS oil to same pot
  5. When butter is melted, add in the flour and stir constantly for 1 minute. Slowly and gradually add in the milk, broth, thyme, salt and pepper into flour mixture. Continue to stir constantly as sauce thickens; appx 10 minutes or until mixture coats a spoon. Stir in wine and cook for an additional minute
  6. Turn off heat. Stir in cooked vegetables and peas into sauce until well combined. Taste for salt and pepper.
  7. Pour mixture into 13×9 dish. Roll out your pie crust and place on top of the pot pie mixture. Helpful Tip: Make sure the crust is appx 2 inches bigger than your dish so you have plenty of edging to make a crust and seal in the pot pie mixture.
  8. Brush the top of the crust with 1 lightly beaten egg. And sprinkle with 1/2 tsp of salt. This will give your crust a nice golden brown color. Bake 20-25 minutes until filling is bubbling and crust is a beautiful golden brown.

As always, if you can eat dairy and gluten feel free to add it all back in!!! NOM NOM

 

 

 

 

 

Blueberry Breakfast Bundt Cake

gluten free / dairy free / vegan option / refined sugar free

Michigan blueberries in March. How you ask?? Well….they are frozen of course!! And believe me, they are as sweet and luscious as the day I got them from the local farmers market here in Milwaukee. When I pulled them out of the freezer the other day I was already jonesing for some sort of cake. (Side notes….I am a baked goods junky. Before you judge me too harshly let me say that I am a discerning sugar junky with impeccable taste. And while I’m on the confession train, I might as well apologize up front for my rambling writing style and general potty mouth. In terms of my rambling “habit”….what can I say…I have two young kids, two entreprenurial businesses , two passions without a paycheck and a hubby that travels. So, I never do just one thing at a time or at a nice easy pace.  And I tend to write like I talk… fast and with a mouth that would make any sailor proud, sorry mom!).

Where was I??? Oh yea….blueberries and cake. Before I had set my eyes on those Michigan blueberries I had been leaning heavily towards a redo of my mom’s amazing poppyseed bundt cake. Redo in the sense that I have recently discovered (within the last year that I am highly intolerant to gluten and (cue the sad song) most likely cow milk based dairy as well. I am currently debating whether or not to retest for Celiac’s and other auto immune diseases as I am one of many who got bad medical advice and did the blood panels after already pulling gluten out of my diet. But more on that topic later.

My mom’s poppyseed bundt cake, the same cake which was one of my favorite birthday cake options as a teenager is chock full of both gluten and dairy. The cake starts with a super moist yellow cake (the secret ingredient is vanilla pudding). Then is finished with a sweet almond glaze drizzled over the top. I mean…just describing it makes me want to jump off the wagon and run full speed to my bundt pan. I can still remember how sad I was a  year ago at the beginning of my gluten free journey when I thought this cake or any cake really would be lost to me forever. Even though I was already a lover of baking/cooking and a self proclaimed foodie I had ZERO idea how to make anything with gluten, without it. Fast forward to now and I squeal like a little pig at the thought of re-making a beloved dessert or family recipe. Armed with my newly rediscovered Michigan blueberries I took the essence of my mom’s poppyseed cake recipe and I decided to make what I now lovingly call the blueberry “breakfast” bundt cake.

This cake is a perfect choice for a Sunday brunch. It’s sweet without being overwhelmingly so and the burst of bright blueberries pairs exceptionally well with more savory brunch items. I honestly prefer this cake without the glaze. And love that wihout it the cake is also refined sugar free. However, if you are looking for a more sinful cake just add the vanilla/almond glaze and I promise your sweet tooth will be silent. Enjoy! nom nom

Blueberry “Breakfast” Bundt Cake

1 cup (2 sticks) room temperature organic butter or butter alternative, plus more to grease bundt pan

2 1/2 cups Gluten Free flour mix (see recipe below) or any GF all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt; I prefer fleur de sel salt though it is more $$$

2 cups coconut palm sugar

3 large eggs or flax seed eggs

1 cup of greek or non-dairy yogurt; vanilla or plain both work

Zest of 1 lemon

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries; thaw and pat dry blueberries if using frozen

Cake Glaze (optional) I prefer this cake without the glaze!

1 cup of powdered sugar; sifted

1/4- 1/2 tsp of pure vanilla extract. Start with 1/4 tsp, taste and go from there. You can also do pure almond extract for a different flavor profile.

2 TBS  milk or non dairy milk

Sift powdered sugar into a small bowl. Whisk in vanilla extract and milk until you have a smooth glaze. The glaze should lightly coat you spoon. Drizzle over cake once it is completely cool.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease the bundt cake pan with butter or non stick spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda and salt together. Set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer or with an electric mixer beat together the butter and sugar at medium speed for appx 3 minutes, or until smooth and creamy.
  4. Turn the mixer to low speed and add one egg at a time. Make sure each egg is well incorporated before adding the next.
  5. Add the dry ingredients from step 2 and mix until combined.
  6. Add in the yogurt and lemon zest and mix. Once incorporated, turn the mixer to high and beat for 2 minutes.
  7. Fold in the blueberries. Make sure to really incorporate the blueberries into the mix. This way each bite of cake you take will have that burst of blueberries in it!
  8. Transfer mixture to bundt pan. Bake for 55-65 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Place bundt pan on wire rack, let cool for a 5 minutes. Remove cake from pan and let cool completely on wire rack.
  9. If you are using the vanilla glaze, You can make this while the cake cools. Just dip a spoon into the glaze and drizzle it over the cake. Best part is you can use as much or as little of the glaze as you would like.