Maple Sugar Cookies

IMG_4670You haven’t had the true “Maple Experience” unless you’ve been to New England during maple sugaring season. I guarantee you that fall in New England should have an important place on your bucket list. I wrote a little bit about our “sugar shack” experiences HERE.

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New England in general has such a special feel. It really can’t be explained and has to be experienced for the full effect. Everyone knows it has a stunning Fall reputation, but there’s so much more than just the fabulous colors. The people are wonderful, the scenery is stunning – from the forests to the houses to the coastline. And the “sugar shacks” as we lovingly called them, are a do not miss. There are fancier ones like in the blog post I linked above, but then there are also little shacks on people’s home properties that really give you the New England experience. There are a total of 110 maple producers in New Hampshire alone! If you’re still stuck on the Aunt Jamima or Log Cabin syrup from your youth – shame on you. You deserve better.

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Did I mention the maple aromas? Oh. My. Word. They heat it to evaporate the water and then boil it  – and let me tell you, that sweetness fills the air and it is heavenly! They are also very generous with tastes when you visit their sugar houses. New England was where I was introduced to pure maple sugar and maple cream. You must experience maple cream at least once in your life. They also make maple sugar cotton candy and yes, it’s as wonderful as it sounds.  Add that to your bucket list too!

Until you’re able to tackle your bucket list, you can nibble on these maple delights.

Maple Sugar Cookies

(This dough needs to be chilled over night and makes about 30 – 2″ sandwich cookies)

2 1/2 Cups of Mamas Almond Blend All Purpose Gluten Free Flour (plus more for rolling)

1 teaspoon of Double Acting Baking Powder

3/4 teaspoon of Xanthan Gum

1/2 teaspoon of Celtic Sea Salt

1/3 Cup of Dairy Free Butter

1/3 Cup of Spectrum Shortening

3/4 Cup of Coombs Organic Maple Sugar

1 Egg

1 teaspoon of Vanilla

Whisk the dry ingredients (except maple sugar) together and set aside. In a mixer, cream the butter and shortening then add the maple sugar and cream until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until creamy. Mix in the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined. Scoop into a ziplock bag and flatten and refrigerate over night.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Line work surface with parchment and flour. Dust your rolling pin and separate the dough into thirds. Keep what you’re not using in the fridge. Sprinkle flour on the dough and roll out, cutting shapes of your choice. Bake for 7 minutes (don’t let the edges get too golden), let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks. Repeat with the remaining dough. Cool completely before frosting.

Frosting

1/4 Cup of Dairy Free Butter

5 Cups of Powdered Sugar

Pinch of Celtic Sea Salt

4 Tablespoons of Pure Maple Syrup

1 teaspoon of lemon juice

1 – 1 1/2 Tablespoons of Water (for spreading consistency)

Cream the butter, 2 Cups of the powdered sugar, salt, and 2 Tablespoons of the maple syrup. Add the lemon juice, the other two Tablespoons of syrup, and the remaining 3 cups of powdered sugar. Mix until it comes together. It will be very thick and clay like. Add the water 1/2 Tablespoon at a time until you reach a smooth but thick frosting that won’t leak out of the middle of the cookies.

I used the back of a teaspoon to gather a dollop of frosting. Then put it in the middle of the bottom cookie (use the underside of the cookie) and then carefully squished it down to spread it with the top cookie.

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Carrot Cake Biscotti

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During the colder months I love to have hot tea or a spicy coconut creme with a little something sweet and crunchy as my afternoon treat. I love all types of biscotti but especially unique flavors and ingredients. If you’re a purist, these may not be for you. But if you’re a biscotti adventurist, you’ll love them!

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They have just the right amount of sweet and crisp and make the perfect companion for tea, coffee, or your favorite afternoon latte.

Carrot Cake Biscotti

*This Recipe Is Grain Free & Dairy Free*

1 3/4 Cups of Bob’s Red Mill Paleo Baking Flour

1 teaspoon of Double Acting Baking Powder

1/2 teaspoon of Celtic Sea Salt

1/2 teaspoon of Xanthan Gum

2 teaspoons of Ground Cinnamon

1 teaspoon of Ground Nutmeg

1/4 Cup of Dairy Free Butter

3/4 Cup of Packed Dark Brown Sugar

1 Large Egg

2 teaspoons of Pure Vanilla Extract

1/4 Cup of Plain Pureed Pumpkin

2 Cups of Grated Carrots

1/2 Cup of Chopped Walnuts

1 Cup of Raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line one baking sheet with parchment.

Whisk the dry ingredients together and set aside. In a stand mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar, add the egg, vanilla, and pumpkin and mix until thoroughly incorporated and fluffy. Add the dry ingredients and mix until incorporated. With mixer on the stir setting, add the carrots, nuts, and raisins.

Divide the dough in half and scoop two halves onto the baking sheet. Pat lightly into two loaves about 2″ high and 9-10″ long. Bake for 40  minutes. Cool.

Slice, (makes about 23 servings depending on how thick you slice them. If sliced too thinly, they won’t stay together and will crisp too much during baking) and lay each piece on its side. Bake side #1 for 10 minutes, remove from oven and carefully turn each piece over and bake side #2 for 10 minutes. Cool Completely before frosting.

Frosting

2 1/2 Tablespoons of Dairy Free Butter, melted

Zest of a Whole Small Lemon

1 Tablespoon of Lemon Juice

1/2 teaspoon of Almond Extract

1 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons of Powdered Sugar

1 Tablespoon of Water (If necessary for drizzling consistency)

Whisk together until smooth and drizzle lightly over biscotti.

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My Favorite Coconut Creme

1/2 Cup of Full Fat Coconut Milk (I use Arroy-D)

1/2 Cup of Filtered Water

1/4 teaspoon of Ground Ginger

1 Tablespoon of Raw Honey

1 teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract

Ground Cinnamon

Ground Nutmeg

Heat the coconut milk and water to almost boiling. Remove from heat and stir in the ginger, honey, and vanilla. Pour into a blender and blend on high for 30 seconds. Pour into your favorite cup and sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg.

 

 

Instant Pot Beef & Vegetable Soup

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There was a little snafu with the photographs on my phone when our son was fixing another snafu with my computer. So this is the one and only photo I have of this delicious soup! It’s actually a photo of a photo because that’s the only way I could figure out how to get it from “out there” to here. ha

My eyesight has changed and I can no longer focus through the view finder on my good cameras so I didn’t have all my photos on a memory card. I’ve been using my iPhone for all my food photos. I’m hoping the optometrist will have a solution because currently I have two very expensive cameras aging in a drawer. Fingers crossed! Until then, we’ll just go with the flow and have a bowl of this soul warming soup to get us through these chilly days.

Instant Pot Beef & Vegetable Soup

12 ounce Top Sirloin Steak, sliced thinly

1 Medium Sweet Onion, sliced

3 Cloves of Garlic, diced

14 oz Bag of Brussels Sprouts, stems cut, outer layer peeled, then halved

8 ounces of Cremini Mushrooms, halved

3 Stalks of Celery, sliced on the diagonal

2 Large Carrots, sliced on the diagonal

1 Cup of Kale, ribs removed and chopped

1/2 Cup of Parsley, chopped

1 Medium Sweet Potato with Skin, cubed

1 Tablespoon of Fresh Rosemary, minced

1 Tablespoon of Fresh Thyme, minced

1 Tablespoon of Fresh Oregano, minced

64 ounces of Beef Broth

1 1/2 teaspoons of Apple Cider Vinegar

Sea Salt & Pepper To Taste

About 2 Tablespoons of Avocado Oil

Heat the Instant Pot to saute the steak. Add 1 Tablespoon of the avocado oil and quickly saute the beef until it begins to brown and remove to a plate. (I removed mine at rare-just barely medium rare.) Add the remaining Tablespoon of avocado oil, the onions, garlic, celery and carrot and saute until the onions are aldente. Add the meat and the remaining ingredients, stir to deglaze the bottom of the pan, and secure the lid.

On “Manual” set the Instant Pot for 5 minutes. (It will take approximately 30 minutes to come to temperature and THEN the 5 minute timer will begin.) When the timer sounds, release the steam and season with salt and pepper. Serve.

 

 

Clementine Yogurt Cake

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Often when people hear the words “gluten free” or “grain free” or even “dairy free”, they think those terms equal = weird texture, odd tastes, and punishment. Which is kind of bizarre to me considering the real punishment is eating foods you’re sensitive to that make you sick, stiff, hormonal, anxious, and grumpy.

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Once you realize there’s a whole world of other options out there, you can let go of all of those negative attachments to what you “think” eating allergen free tastes and feels like.

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My goal when I started this blog (and still remains) was to create recipes that anyone would love to eat – but especially those people who have the mindset that they’re getting robbed by not being able to eat what “normal” people eat.

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One of the fun things I like to do every now and then when I run across a traditional recipe that really peaks my interest, is to see if I can tweak it to fit the needs of people who cannot eat certain foods. This recipe was inspired by an orange cake I ran across in Better Homes & Gardens. Once you learn the basic science behind baking with allergen free ingredients, it’s all a matter of swapping and understanding the balance between the liquids and dry ingredients, and what you need to make it hold together and rise, if necessary.

It really is as easy as that.

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This cake not only came out of the oven smelling and looking beautiful, the flavors were out of this world after allowing it to rest covered for 24 hours. It’s perfect lightly heated with a scoop of coconut milk vanilla ice cream, or just eaten by itself alongside a hot cup of tea for breakfast or an evening snack.

Clementine Yogurt Cake

8 Clementines

1 Cup of Coconut Sugar

1 1/2 Cups of Gluten Free Mama’s Almond Blend Flour

2 teaspoons of Double Acting Baking Powder

1/2 teaspoon of Celtic Sea Salt

1/2 Cup of Old Chatham Sheepherding Company’s Vanilla Yogurt

3 Eggs

2 teaspoons of Pure Vanilla Extract

1/4 Cup of Avocado Oil

2 Tablespoons of Raw Honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch loaf pan with a piece of parchment. Spray generously with nonstick spray (I use avocado oil spray). *When I “line” a pan with parchment, I only cut a long piece that will go over the middle of the pan and hang off of each side. This makes is much easier to remove the bread and keeps it from sticking on the bottom.

Measure the sugar into a medium bowl and zest 6 clementines into the sugar. Rub the zest into the sugar until it is completely incorporated and the sugar is moist and aromatic. Set aside. Peel the tangerines with a sharp knife and cut out the orange sections onto a few folded paper towels. Blot dry.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk the yogurt into the sugar, then beat in the eggs one at a time to form a smooth mixture. Whisk in the vanilla, then lightly whisk in the dry ingredients. Switch to a large spatula, and fold in the avocado oil. You should have a smooth batter with a light sheen.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Scatter the clementine segments over the top.

Bake (I use convection) for 50-60 minutes or until the cake is golden brown and begins to pull away from the sides. Cool for 20 minutes in the pan, then remove the cake from the pan to a cooling rack that has parchment placed underneath.

To glaze the cake, zest and juice the remaining 2 clementines into a small bowl. Add the honey, and heat for 20-30 seconds in the microwave. Drizzle the mixture over the top of the cake. You can eat this warm and right away, but if you cover it and keep it at room temperature to serve it on day 2, it’s much better – rich and full of flavor.

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Coconut Sugar Dark Chocolate Macaroons

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These are delicious and absolutely simple to make. From start to finish they’re done in under 30 minutes. Healthy ingredients and the perfect snack when you’re craving just a little something sweet.

Coconut Sugar Dark Chocolate Macaroons

(Makes 14 Small Cookies)

1 1/3 Cup Let’s Do Organic – 100% Organic Shredded Coconut Unsweetened – plus a few pinches for sprinkling

2 Tablespoons of Bob’s Red Mill Paleo Baking Flour

1/3 Cup of Organic Coconut Sugar

1/4 teaspoon of Celtic Sea Salt

3 Organic Egg Whites

2 teaspoons of Pure Vanilla Extract

1 – 1 1/2 Squares of Trader Joe’s Fair Trade Organic 72% Cacao Belgian Dark Chocolate Bar (green packaging)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment. Stir all ingredients except the chocolate until thoroughly combined. Drop 14 dollops of dough onto the baking sheet. Break up the chocolate into small pieces and poke 1 piece into each cookie. Sprinkle with a little extra shredded coconut.

Bake (I use convection) for 18 minutes.

Butter Lettuce Steak Wraps

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I’ve cut down dramatically on red meat. In fact, I haven’t had a steak in almost three weeks. If you aren’t familiar with me and my love affair with steak, I could easily eat a gigantic, bloody rib eye every day of my life. I would never tire of it. However, I’m really clamping down on inflammatory foods so we’ve been focusing more on chicken, fish, and seafood with a treat of some kind once a week or so.

As I was running errands today I was thinking of all the ways I could eat a somewhat small amount of red meat, combine it with all the vegetables in my diet, and still have it be really tasty.

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This is it. These wraps are now my new favorite. And that butter lettuce was live – root and some dirt intact when I bought it. That’s the first time my store has offered that choice and I have to say, I think it does make a difference. Next year we’ll be planting rows and rows of butter lettuce. It is so delicious and holds up really well as a wrap.

This recipe on its own feeds two people as a main course (about 3 small to medium wraps each). If you are going to serve it with a couple of side dishes, I’d say you could feed four people but you would likely need to get two heads of the butter lettuce and increase the toppings just a bit – the one steak if sliced thinly, goes a long way.

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Butter Lettuce Steak Wraps

1 Trader Joe’s Grass Fed Australian Strip Loin Steak (you find these in their freezer section)

About 1/4 Cup of Red Onion, sliced

About 1 1/2 Cups of Red Cabbage, sliced

About 1 Cup of Cremini Mushrooms, sliced

2 Cloves of Garlic, minced

About 1 teaspoon of Dried Oregano

About 1 1/2 teaspoons of garlic powder

Celtic Sea Salt To Taste

1-2 Large Radishes, sliced

1/4 Cup of Parsley, chopped

About 1/4 Cup of Daiya Jalapeno Havarti Style Dairy Free Cheese, finely grated

1 Head of Butter Lettuce

Trader Joe’s Green Goddess Vegan Salad Dressing

Avocado Oil Spray

Cut any large pieces of fat off of the steak, slice thinly (this is easier to do when the steak is still a little frozen), and set aside. In a medium pan sprayed with avocado oil, saute the sliced onions, cabbage, mushrooms, oregano, and minced garlic until the cabbage and onions are aldente and the mushrooms are browned. Remove from heat and set aside.

Spray another medium pan with avocado oil and heat on medium high. When the pan is hot, add the sliced steak. Season with salt and 1/2 of the garlic powder. It will cook quickly, don’t over cook it or it will be tough. When the steak is beginning to brown on one side, quickly flip them over season with salt and the other half of the garlic powder and brown for 1-2 minutes. (About 4-5 minutes total cook time.) Remove from the heat and set aside.

Here is how I assembled the wraps:

Two lettuce leaves stacked, a little salad dressing, then cheese, then sauteed veggies, then steak, a little more sauteed veggies, radishes, and a sprinkle of parsley.

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Grain Free Date Cookies

2018-09-09 15.45.51My husband has eaten several of these over the past few days and enjoyed them – without ever asking me what was actually in the cookie.

A couple of days ago I was having a medjool date as an after dinner treat and offered him one.  He told me with a little bit of disgust on his face that “he doesn’t like dates because someone put them in fruit salad once”. I’m not sure if he’s remembering correctly or not,  but I always question whether people really know they dislike something or if they just think they do. Clearly, he liked the dates in my cookies. He also tells me he doesn’t like nuts besides peanuts and almonds, but also seemed to enjoy the pecans in these cookies.

I’ve heard many people say they don’t like something, but they’ve actually never tried it. Or, maybe they have tried it and that one time was not a good experience. My rule for most normal foods is that you really need to try it if you want to convince me you don’t like it. And I want to see you taste it in my kitchen, the way I’ve prepared it, with my own two eyes. haha

If you’re on the fence about Medjool Dates, I say give them a try. They’re not scary or smelly or gross. Just sweet and have a nice texture, they’re full of vitamins, have lots of fiber, are an antioxidant, and are low glycemic.

What’s the worst that can happen?

Grain Free Date Cookies

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Makes about 24 cookies

2/3 Cup of Medjool Dates, pitted and diced

2/3 Cup of Pecans, finely chopped

1/3 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons of Coconut Butter (aka coconut manna)

3 Tablespoons of Coconut Oil

6 Tablespoons of Coconut Sugar

1/2 Cup of Full Fat Coconut Milk (I like Arroy-D)

2/3 Cup of Sweet Potato Flour

6 Tablespoons of Coconut Flour

1/2 teaspoon of Celtic Sea Salt

1 1/2 teaspoons of Ceylon Cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon of Dried Ginger

1 teaspoon of Vanilla 

2 Bars of Trader Joe’s Organic 72% Dark Belgian Chocolate 3.5 oz each

Cream the coconut butter, coconut oil, and coconut sugar together until fully incorporated. Add the coconut milk and beat, scraping down the bowl. Add the remaining dry ingredients and vanilla and mix well.

Using about 1-2 Tablespoons of dough, roll into a ball and flatten with fingers into a circle on parchment covered baking sheets. Bake for 12 minutes for soft cookies and 15 minutes for a crispier cookie.

Remove to cooling racks. Melt chocolate bars and drizzle each cookie. If you need them right away, you can quick set them by putting them on trays in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. 

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