Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Creme Fraiche Dijon Baked Chicken

You can whip this together in five minutes. I don't even use a separate mixing bowl but mix everything right in the serving pan first before adding the chicken. It makes its own sauce as it bakes that you can ladle over rice or veggies to serve with it. Sour cream would probably work if you couldn't find or didn't have creme fraiche but try to use the real deal if you can since there's so few ingredients. The only way to mess this up is to over cook the chicken so remove it as soon as the sauce is bubbling all around it just when it's cooked through.

There are few 'five minute' recipes I'd serve to company but this is at the top of my list.

Creme Fraiche Dijon Baked Chicken
*recipe can easily be doubled, just adjust cooking time accordingly

2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup creme fraiche
zest of a small lemon
2 teaspoons whole grain dijon mustard
1/4 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons shredded parmesan
1 small shallot (size of a fig), diced
pinch fresh ground nutmeg, red pepper flakes, kosher salt and pepper (preferably ground tricolor pepper if you have it)

Preheat oven to 350.

In an 8x8 baking dish, mix together the creme fraiche, lemon zest, mustard, stock, parmesan, shallot, nutmeg and peppers and salt.

Add the chicken. Sprinkle the tops lightly with salt then turn over in the creme fraiche mixture to coat. Push around the dish so that they're evenly spread apart then put in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes (this depends on the size of your chicken - mine was organic and on the small side) or JUST until cooked through. The sauce should just be beginning to bubble around and in between the chicken. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Manchego and Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms (Magic Mushrooms)

My new favorite way to get cheese into my mouth. These are gluten free and can be prepared ahead and refrigerated for several hours or even overnight for an easy make ahead appetizer. Happy Weekend Y'all!

Manchego and Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms (Magic Mushrooms)

3 (8 oz packages) Baby Bella mushrooms
½ pound sweet Italian sausage
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon of olive oil, plus more for oiling baking dish
½ cup chopped shallots
2  cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar (this adds a particularly wonderful flavor but white wine or maybe even cider vinegar would work)
1/4 tspn paprika
Zest of small lemon
2 tablespoons almond flour (seasoned or plain dried breadcrumbs would work also if not gluten free)
¾ cup shredded Manchego cheese, lightly packed
½ cup crème fraiche (sour cream would work too or even Greek yogurt)
Pinch red pepper flakes
1 ½ tablespoons finely minced green onions
Big pinch fresh ground nutmeg
Parsley, additional chopped green onion or cilantro for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 if making right away.

Clean the mushrooms by rinsing quickly under cold water and patting dry (if you're a purist feel free to hand wipe each one instead - see you in a month.) Carefully remove the stems by pulling firmly and gently from the base where they connect. If the stems are particularly stubborn, you may need to use a small spoon to scrape out the leftover stalk to make room for the filling.

Next chop up enough of the stems (fine dice) to equal half a cup and set aside (you can discard the rest of the stems or save for another use.)

Lightly oil a large casserole dish with olive oil then place the mushroom caps spacing them evenly apart inside, cavity side up. Season very lightly with salt. Set aside.

Next heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up well with a spoon (you don't want super big chunks because you're going to stuff it into fairly small mushrooms.) Once broken up add the half cup of diced stems along with a pinch of salt and pepper and cook until the sausage is cooked through, about 8 minutes.

Remove using a slotted spoon to a holding plate and set aside. Meanwhile add a little olive oil to the pan if necessary and let heat through for 30 seconds. Add the shallots with another small pinch of salt and cook for 4-5 minutes until beginning to turn translucent. Add the minced garlic and cook another 2 minutes or until softened.

Raise the heat slightly and add in the sherry vinegar. You want it to bubble a little and reduce until there's just a scant amount of liquid left in the pan. At this point kill the heat and move the skillet off the hot burner.

Carefully stir back in the sausage/mushroom mixture along with 1/4 teaspoon paprika, lemon zest, almond flour, creme fraiche, red pepper flakes, green onions and nutmeg until well mixed. Taste for seasoning and add pinch more salt/pepper if desired.

Use a small spoon to stuff the prepared mushrooms (I have found that if I pile them high enough I can use up all the filling.) At this point you can let them cool, cover and refrigerate for a few hours or even overnight before baking or bake right away in a 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until the top of the filling just begins to brown and they mushrooms have released their liquid and cooked through.

Cool for 5-10 minutes before garnishing with chopped herb of choice and serving.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Simply Perfect Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting. No one has to know it's Paleo.

So here's my thing with Paleo desserts so far. They're actually pretty good. You don't miss the refined sugar because real maple syrup and/or honey do a fine job providing the sweet. You don't miss the fat because you don't have to worry about using low fat nonsense. But the texture can be tricky. The initial product is often great but gets soggy after a few hours because almond flour is so rich and dense.

This carrot cake changed my tune. It's honestly authentically carrot cake like. Moist and rich, yes. Soggy no. Even my husband had no freaking clue I'd sabotaged a perfectly good Easter tradition with something sans refined sugar, flour or weird preservatives. And he's a PICKY dessert eater. Like crazy picky.

Anyway I know I just shared the oh so exciting news that my baby is over his dairy issues and therefore I could have gone ahead with a traditional full fledged carrot cake recipe with loads of butter, flour and sugar but honestly I think I'll have a hard time doing that sort of recipe unless it's a holiday from now on. Okay fine - Easter is most definitely a holiday - if not the mother of them actually but I mean a more fun holiday. Like Halloween or Christmas which is just a lovely excuse to eat badly (awesomely) for a month. You know what I mean.

Anyway if you're curious about Paleo or just want to try something a little different with your baking experiments I heartily recommend this recipe. Obviously not calorie free but undoubtedly better for your than the old school version.

Simply Perfect Carrot Cake
*slightly altered from the recipe by She Cooks He Cleans

small amount of butter or coconut oil for buttering pans
small amount of coconut flour for dusting pans
1/2 cup walnut or grape seed oil
1/2 cup honey
3/4 cup coconut palm sugar
5 eggs, room temp
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups blanched almond flour (I use WellBee)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (I use fresh ground)
3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut (I use Let's Do Organic)
3 cups shredded carrots (preferably organic)
3/4 cups raisins (preferably golden) or chopped dates or even dried pineapple
3/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts or pecans or even slivered almonds
Zest of a medium orange, optional

Preheat oven to 325F (I used convection bake.)  Line two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with parchment paper and butter bottom and sides with either butter or coconut oil. Lightly dust with coconut flour and tap out excess in the sink.
Using electric mixer,  beat oil, palm sugar, and honey until well mixed.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well between eggs. Mix in vanilla extract.
In a separate bowl, mix together almond flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and shredded coconut.  With mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients.  When it has all been added, beat until well blended.  Stir in carrots, raisins, toasted walnuts and orange zest if using.
Divide batter between cake pans.  Bake at 325 for 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.  Cool cakes in pans for 15 minutes.  Run a small knife around the edge of the pans to loosen the cakes, then invert carefully on a cooling rack; cool completely.

Maple Cream Cheese Icing (*some additions NOT Paleo, but optional - I also use more sweetener than original recipe called for as I found it not sweet enough but feel free to start with 1/4 cup maple syrup and adjust accordingly)

2 (8 oz) packages organic cream cheese, room temp
1 stick salted organic butter, room temp
*1 tablespoon orange liquor
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
small pinch kosher salt or sea salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons honey or 2 tablespoons coconut palm sugar, or to taste, OPTIONAL

3/4-1 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened) for decorating, optional OR chopped toasted nuts

Cream together cream cheese and butter in an electric mixer.  Add liquor if using, vanilla extract and pinch salt and mix well. Gradually add maple syrup and beat until well-combined and fluffy. Taste for sweetness then mix in additional honey or palm sugar if desired (palm sugar will dissolve into icing if mixed long enough.)
Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on cake platter.  Spread approximately 1 cup of frosting over the layer.  Top with the second cake layer, flat side down.  Spread remaining frosting over the top and sides of cake.  Top with coconut or chopped nuts (optional). Refrigerate, if possible (I don't.) Serve at room temperature.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Giada's Fancy (But Simple) Tuna Melt with Grafton Cheddar and Sweet Pickle Aioli

Guess who's over his dairy allergy? My baby boy! Since last Friday I've eaten pizza, grilled cheese, salad with goat cheese and this insanely good tuna melt.

This is Giada's recipe. The only thing I did differently was to make my mayo from scratch (don't roll your eyes - it takes five seconds with an immersion blender) as I can no longer ignore the fact that GMO soy is in everything store bought and I'm not going to eat that crap anymore whenever possible.

Anyway this is already a new favorite in the rotation at our house. I would try swapping capers for the sweet pickles if the mood strikes you or even a basil aioli. The possibilities are endless.

What really makes this though is the salad you serve over the top. It's crisp and cool and the dressing has a hint of a refreshing bite to it from the shallot (thank you Ina Garten.) Crisp thick toasted sourdough, melting hot tuna topped with oozing white cheddar and a cool refreshing salad on top…it'll make everything right with the world.

Open Faced Tuna Melts with Cheddar, Sweet Pickle Mayo and Arugula Salad
* by Giada DeLaurentiis, salad dressing by Ina Garten
* serves 2

1/4 cup store bought or homemade mayo
2 tablespoons chopped sweet pickles (or store bought pickle relish - OR you could try capers or even chopped fresh herbs)
2 fresh Ahi tuna steaks
kosher salt and black pepper for seasoning
2 teaspoons herbs de provence
olive oil, for seasoning bread and searing tuna steaks
2 thick slices sharp Grafton white cheddar, or other aged cheddar
2 thick slices sourdough bread
2 cups arugula
handful of cherry tomatoes, optional
*Couple tablespoons vinaigrette (or to taste), recipe below

Mix mayo and chopped pickles together and set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place bread slices on a cookie sheet and drizzle lightly with olive oil then put in the oven for 10 minutes just until toasted. 

Meanwhile, season tuna steaks with salt, pepper and herbs de provence. Add enough olive oil to a cast iron skillet or heavy bottom pan and heat over high heat. Once hot, add the tuna and sear 3 minutes. Flip to the other side and place the cheese slices over the tops and cook another 2-3 minutes for medium rare or until desired doneness.

Toss the arugula and tomatoes with a couple of tablespoons of the dressing and a small pinch of salt and pepper. 

To assemble, place a slice of toast on the center of each plate. Divide the mayo spread over the slices and spread evenly across. Then add the tuna melts and divide the arugula salad over the tops. Serve right away.

Ina Garten's Creamy Shallot Vinaigrette:
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced shallot

Monday, April 7, 2014

Juicy Blackberry Pecan Muffins. Hello Spring, nice to see you.

So gluten free, dairy free, soy free baking is a little tricky. Coconut oil works wonders as a butter substitute but often times imparts its signature flavor. Coconut milk is also a miraculous substitute for milk or heavy cream but same issue. And if you're religiously doing Paleo, almond flour technically works but so far everything I've made has a spongy/wet quality after cooling which isn't so great for things like quick breads or muffins.

So this time I tried modifying a Martha Stewart recipe with Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour and hooray! Muffins that act and eat like muffins and don't get soggy or weird when left out over night!

Like I said with my baby's allergies I got all hippie on you and made these gluten free and dairy free and with coconut sugar. But don't worry. My husband who is literally the pickiest eater when it comes to baked goods on the planet didn't notice the difference. In fact I have a hunch the coconut milk might have made them even richer but if you don't have the need to avoid dairy or gluten feel free to use regular 'ol butter and flour and sugar and cow's milk. I'm sure they'd be mighty fine.

Juicy Blackberry Pecan Muffins 
*Adapted from Martha Stewart
*Modifications for gluten free/dairy free below
*Coconut palm sugar imparts a dark golden color onto these muffins so don't be shocked if yours are lighter if using regular granulated sugar

*2 cups AP flour or Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups fresh blackberries
*1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or Earth Balance Soy Free, Dairy Free Buttery Spread, at room temp
1 cup sugar (or coconut palm sugar)
2 eggs, room temp
zest of a small lemon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
*1/2 cup whole milk or coconut milk at room temp
1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 375. Line a 12 standard muffin cup pan with paper liners or alternatively spray with either nonstick spray or brush lightly with melted coconut oil (if you need to avoid soy found in many sprays.) If not using liners, lightly sprinkle the greased cups with a little flour then tap out excess.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Take a heaping tablespoon of this mixture and sprinkle it over the blackberries in another medium bowl. Give a gentle toss to lightly coat all the berries and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a standing food mixer or large bowl with hand held mixer, blend the butter and sugar for 3 minutes until fully mixed, pausing midway to scrape the bottom and the sides.

Add the eggs in one at a time, blending well each time. Add in the zest and vanilla extract and mix until incorporated. Add the milk and blend just until incorporated.

Carefully add in the flour mixture in two additions, blending just until incorporated each time. Use a spatula to fold in the blueberries and nuts.

Use an ice cream scoop to divide the batter into your 12 cups. The cups will be full but don't worry - these muffins rise very well and don't spill over (though a baking sheet underneath is always good insurance.)

Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden on top and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Enjoy warm or store in an airtight container for 2 days.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Roasted Acorn Squash with Tomato Sauce, Sauteed Arugula, Sunny Side Up Egg and Crispy Prosciutto

This picture sucks. Blogging and baby raising don't mix. The egg had set by the time I snapped the picture (from the heat of the sautéed arugula underneath) so the whole 'sunny side up' thing was debatable. Also you can't even see the acorn squash hiding under there but no matter.

You'll just have to trust me that this was insanely good. Like some of the best recipes it's more of a suggestion than gospel. You could skip the arugula, swap it for spinach or add goat cheese as I would if my baby wasn't so anti dairy.

But here's what I love about a dietary restriction (and there ain't much…honestly if you knew how much I love cheese you'd be wondering if this was really me talking.) It forces you to try things you ordinarily wouldn't and in the best case scenario you discover something you'll make again and again.

For example would I normally think to roast an acorn squash and top it with this random combo that reads like an edible version of the island of misfit toys? No. But I'm glad I did because it's now one of my favorite meals ever. It's got it all (cue Steffan from SNL!) The acorn squash is sweet and satisfyingly toothsome with its crispy skinned shell to hold everything together. The tomato sauce is rich and earthy and a beautiful thing when topped with peppery sautéed arugula. Then there's the fried egg which needs no further explanation. Top it all off with crispy prosciutto for a little crunch and some flat leaf parsley and I dare you to think of a more satisfying meal that also happens to fit snuggly in the Paleo/gluten free/SCD diet category.

Last thing - while assembling this meal takes 10 minutes total (the eggs and arugula and prosciutto fry up in the same pan) you do need to bake the squash ahead of time as it takes over an hour. Good news is you can do this ahead of time - even a day ahead if you wanted to - refrigerate and just reheat in a low oven while you prep the rest for 20 minutes or so or even microwave it. Easy peasy.

Roasted Acorn Squash with Tomato Sauce, Sauteed Arugula, Sunny Side Up Egg and Crispy Prosciutto
Serves 2

1 acorn squash, split in half with seeds scraped clean
olive oil
salt and pepper
red pepper flakes
1/2 cup tomato sauce (or more if you like a lot of sauce as I do)
2-4 eggs depending on appetite
2 cups baby arugula, packed
4 slices prosciutto
4 sprigs flat leaf parsley for garnish

Lay acorn halves cut side up onto a parchment or foil lined baking sheet. Lightly rub the flesh with a teaspoon each of olive oil (or more) to coat then season with salt and pepper.

Roast in a 375 oven for one hour and thirty minutes (may be a little more or less depending on size of squash) until the tops are golden and the skin has shriveled and begun to crisp. The flesh should pierce easily with a sharp knife.

Set aside while you get on with the rest.

Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat for two minutes. Add a slug of olive oil and let heat through another 60 seconds then crack the eggs in (2 at a time if making 2 servings/4 eggs or otherwise 2 will fit comfortably along with the rest of the ingredients.) Season with salt and pepper and fry for 3-4 minutes until the whites have begun to cook but the yolks are still runny. Pour the arugula in the spare room around the eggs, season lightly with salt and pepper and cook for 60 seconds stirring with a spatula to help them wilt. At this point if the tops of the whites are still liquidy put a cover over for 60 seconds to help them firm up being careful not to overcook the yolks (this dish is all about their runniness.)

Meanwhile heat up the tomato sauce in a small microwave safe bowl for 60 or until warm. Divide it between the acorn halves then top with the sautéed arugula. Top with the fried eggs and a pinch of red pepper flakes if desired.

Last step is to add the prosciutto slices to the same skillet and crank the heat up a little. They will pan fry to your desired texture in no time. I like it crispy which takes about 2 minutes. Remove and divide over the eggs.

Garnish with flat leaf parsley and dig in (feel free to add more tomato sauce over the top if desired also.)