Gluten Free Zucchini Lasagna

Gluten Free Zucchini Lasagna // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

As fall starts to move in, I find myself in comfort mode.

I want to be cozy.

I want to wear wool socks.

I want comfy meals.

But I also don’t want to pack on some comfy pounds…can I have both?  Why can’t I just have the things I want!

It’s simple.

Gluten Free Zucchini Lasagna // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

My comfort meal of choice is lasagna. It is hearty, comfy, and saucy. I miss the original butt busting version dearly, I do. But as an alternative, I love replacing the noodles in a typical lasagna with different vegetables. One of my favorite paleo versions uses roasted eggplants.  Aaaaaaand, my thighs are pretty thankful for this swap.

Gluten Free Zucchini Lasagna // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Gluten Free Zucchini Lasagna // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

With zucchini being at the end of their peak season, I decided to whip up a lasagna using zucchini ribbons in place of lasagna noodles for a healthy and tasty lasagna without weighing you down. This version does a yummy layer of whole milk ricotta with parmesan cheese which I love. However, if you are avoiding dairy, you can easily skip the ricotta cheese mixture layer and this lasagna would still be a winner!

Gluten Free Zucchini Lasagna // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Gluten Free Zucchini Lasagna

  • Servings: 9
  • Difficulty: Medium
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Ingredients

  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1 lb ground grass-fed beef or gluten free pork sausage
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 10 oz whole baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 diced bell pepper
  • 4 to 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 15 oz cans of diced tomatoes (undrained)
  • 6 oz can of tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley (plus more for garnish)
  • salt to taste
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup parmesan (divided)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Slice zucchini 1/8-inch thick using a mandolin slicer. Place in a single layer on a plate lined with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. Sprinkle with salt and set them aside for 10 minutes to drain of excess moisture.  After 10 minutes, pat the zucchini slices with the clean towel to remove the moisture.
  3. In a large sauce pan or pot, brown the ground beef (or sausage) over medium heat until completely cooked. Drain excess grease. Return pan to heat and add onion, minced garlic, and sliced mushrooms.  Stirring frequently, brown and cook until onions, bell pepper, and mushrooms are tender, about 5 to 10 minutes.  Add 2 cans of diced tomatoes with juice, tomato paste, oregano, basil, salt, pepper, and parsley.  Bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Sauce can be made several days ahead and refrigerated.
  4. In a small bowl, mix the ricotta, egg, and 1/4-cup parmesan.
  5. Spread 1/3 of the meat sauce (about 2 cups) in the bottom of a 9″ X 13″ glass pan.  Layer slices of zucchini on top of the sauce.  Spread another 1 to 2 cups of sauce on top of the zucchini slices.  Spread all of the ricotta mixture on top of the sauce layer. Then place a second layer of zucchini slices on top. Spoon remaining sauce on top. Top with remaining parmesan cheese. This can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with foil and refrigerate until ready to cook. (Note – you will need to remove from refrigerator at least 30 minutes prior to placing in oven.)
  6. Bake lasagna at 350 F for 30 minutes. (If the lasagna was made ahead of time and placed in the refrigerator, add 15 minutes to the cook time.) Serve hot topped with fresh basil and/or extra parmesan cheese.

Note – This recipe is easily adaptable for food intolerances or other diets.

Paleo-Friendly and Dairy Free Adaption: To make this paleo-friendly and dairy free, do not include the ricotta-cheese layer. The lasagna will still taste amazing.

Vegetarian Adaption: Remove the meat from the marinara sauce. Double the Riccotta-mixture for added protein.

Gluten Free Zucchini Lasagna // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

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Peanut Butter, Chocolate, and Honey No Bake Cookies (Gluten Free and Dairy Free)

No Bake Cookies // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen with Honey  (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

These cookies are filled with my favorite flavors…Peanut Butter and Chocolate. I’m in absolute heaven.

When I was in college and times became super stressful, I would always turn to my grandma’s No-Bake Cookie recipe. It took less than 10 minutes to have a handful of devilishly delicious, misshapen, peanut butter-chocolatey goodness. And hey, it had oats in it…soooo it has to be good for me, right?

No Bake Cookies // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen with Honey  (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)I recently had another hankering for these little oaty smorsels. But when I read her original recipe, I was shocked at the quantity of sugar! I decided to reevaluate and reinvent my grandmother’s (and so many other’s grandmothers) recipe. The original recipe contains:

  • 2 CUPS of sugar (yes…cups)
  • 1/2 cup of butter (ooooh yaaaaa)
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1/4 cup of cocoa powder
  • 1 cup of peanut butter (likely Jiff)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups of quick-cooking oats

No Bake Cookies // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen with Honey  (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

Soooooo… whaaaa? Instead of the empty calories seen in the original cookie recipe, my reinvented cookies are full of nutritious and healthy ingredients. Honey. Coconut Oil. Cocoa Powder. Natural Peanut Butter.  Rolled Oats. Unsweetened Coconut. And my new No Bake Cookies are SO delicious. You don’t have to feel an ounce of guilt when eating one…or two…or three. Eat your feelings…and feel good about it.

No Bake Cookies // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen with Honey  (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

Note – These cookies are made with coconut oil. Since coconut oil melts at room temperature, it is best to keep your leftover cookies in the fridge so that they are a set and solid…that is, if you have leftovers.

No Bake Cookies // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

Peanut Butter, Chocolate, and Honey No-Bake Cookies (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

  • Servings: 30
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

  • 1/2 Cup honey (or maple syrup)
  • 1/2 Cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 Cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 Cup natural creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 Cups gluten free rolled oats
  • 1/2 Cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Heat honey, coconut oil, and cocoa powder in a large pot over medium-high heat stirring constantly until boiling. Stop stirring and allow to boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter and salt. Mix well.
  2. Add oats, shredded coconut, and vanilla extract to chocolate-peanut butter mixture. Stir well until  everything is thoroughly mixed together.
  3. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet or plate. Plop spoonfuls of the no-bake cookie mixture onto prepared pan/plate. If it is too warm in your kitchen, place the cookies in the fridge to set.  Because there is coconut oil in this recipe, the oil will tend to melt a bit at room temperature. Keeping the cookies in the fridge will ensure that they are firmer.

No Bake Cookies // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen with Honey  (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Remember that time that you thought you tasted the best zucchini bread ever?

I think you were wrong. I’m so sorry to bust your bubble… but….

THIS gluten free zucchini bread recipe that I am presenting to you today is literally the best zucchini bread I have eeeever had. literally.

Ever. Had.

I’m serious. And I sort of think of my self as a zucchini bread expert. Not to brag, but I’m a bit of a big deal in the zucchini world. Just saying.

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

But back to these muffins. These are soooooo good. And they are gluten free and only made with two types of flour: oat flour and almond flour. Ya. Gettyup!

After my first bite of these gluten free zucchini and chocolate chip studded muffins that are sweetened with pure maple syrup…I had to sit down, regain composure, and do a double take…and then shove the rest of it in my mouth. Gluten free eaters and gluten lovers alike will be amazed. They are moist, light, and fluffy.

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

I was really really really sad when I was finished with my muffin. It was the “watch your childhood best friend move away and all you could do is run to your room and write a letter as soon as possible so that she had it waiting for her when she got to her new home” kind of sad. And then I realized how thankful I was that there were 11 muffins left…shhhhhhh! I can’t say it too loud, or others will here and come steal my little precious precious precious zucchini muffins and their melty delicious chocolate chip bitsies.

Snack time just got a HUGE boost. You are welcome!

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Note – I made these muffins with a white skinned zucchini that I bought at the farmers market. Although the white skinned version was easier to shred, I missed the green flecks of zucchini skin in my muffins. But if you have pick eaters in your family, removing the skin of the zucchini or using a white skinned zucchini is a great way to add this vegetable to muffins without them knowing. Muahahha.

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins (Gluten Free and Dairy Free Option)

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: Easy/Medium
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 cups grated zucchini meat (try to avoid the seeds)
  • 2 cups GF oat flour (grind 2 cups of GF rolled oats in a food processor to a fine oat flour)
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup (or honey)
  • 6 Tablespoons butter, softened (or melted and cooled coconut oil)
  • 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt (or applesauce)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Remove items from refrigerator to come to room temperature.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Place paper liners in 12-cup muffin tin. Set aside.
  3. Shred zucchini (with or without skin) in a bowl. Press with a clean towel to remove excess moisture. Set aside covered and allowing to drain.
  4. Place oat flour and almond flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Whisk together and set aside.
  5. In the bowl of a food processor or mixer, beat eggs for 1 to 2 minutes or until frothy. Add maple syrup and butter and process an additional minute until well incorporated. Add greek yogurt and vanilla. Pulse until combined.
  6. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Mix together until just combined (don’t over mix). Gently stir in shredded zucchini and chocolate chips. Allow to rest for 1 minute.
  7. Fill muffin tins to 3/4 full. Place muffin tin on middle rack in preheated oven. Back for 35 to 40 minutes, or until tops are browned and slightly cracked. Remove from oven and allow to cool on cooling rack for at least 30 minutes (if you can!). Get ready for zucchini muffin heaven!

Note –

1. This recipe was inspired and adapted from Edible Perspectives Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cake.

2. Dairy Free – sub out the greek yogurt for applesauce and use coconut oil instead of butter. Dairy free chocolate chips can also be used in place of the regular chocolate chips.

3. These muffins will freeze well for up to 3 months. To thaw, place in microwave for 30 second intervals. Makes a quick and easy breakfast or after school/work snack.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Macaroons (Grain Free)

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Macaroons / Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Sorry for the long delay in between posts. Recently life has been tough at times but life also has been very good. When I am going through a roller coaster of emotions and dead lines and choices and what not, I consume chocolate and peanut butter. Doctors orders.

But when life is good…I also eat chocolate and peanut butter.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Macaroons / Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Macaroons / Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

The combination sends warm fuzzies through my body. It’s a choco-pb hug for my soul. I get my best soul hugs from those crack-like addictive Reese’s PB eggs that spring forth from every corner around this time of year. I can stay away from Reese’s (nearly) the rest of the year, but throw them in an egg shape! Holy frijoles, I can’t stop. My eyes pop out of my head all googley and I froth at the mouth and I protect them like a squirrel, hiding my Reese’s eggs in weird and unassuming places.

These cookies are the wonderful love child of two of my favorite cookies: No bake cookies + macaroons. Whoa. Whoa.

Let this happen.

Make them egg shaped. They are better for you than those other choco-pb eggs and just as addictive.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Macaroons / Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

It will make you love life even when there are a few major down moments.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Macaroons (Grain Free and Diary Free)

Adapted from Against All Grain

Makes 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons natural creamy unsweetened peanut butter*
  • 1 egg white
  • salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325F. Place a piece of parchment paper onto a rimmed baking sheet. Set the baking sheet aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the coconut, honey, cacao powder, peanut butter, and a pinch of salt.
  3. Place egg white and another pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Using a whisk or electric beaters, beat the egg white for about 2 minutes until soft peaks form. Combine meringue with other ingredients in the large bowl.
  4. Using a melon baller, scoop out cookies and place them onto the parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 1 hour on a wire cooling wrack.

*Note – To make these Paleo friendly, use either almond butter or sunflower seed butter in place of the peanut butter. 

Grain Free Samoa Bars

Grain Free Samoa Bars

It’s Girl Scout cookie season. People are walking around with goofy grins, Do-Si-Do crumbs on their shirts, stupid Thin-Min-covered fingers, Tagalong-scented breath, and boxes of Samoas stuffed in their sock drawers so that no one else will get THEIR cookies. Or is this just me?

And who came up with those names anyways? Do-Si-Do? Tagalong? What is a Samoa even?

Grain Free Samoa Bars

But in reality I’m jealous. Seethingly jealous. I can’t have any of them. I just stare with dark, wide-eyed, frothing and foaming desire.

But this year, the ol’ Girl Scouts gave the gluten-free crowd a consolation prize and came out with a GF cookie. I was pumped, until I found out it was a shortbread. Womp womp. Really? Shortbread?  That all you got? No badge for you! Get back in the kitchen. TRY AGAIN.

Grain Free Samoa Bars

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Never fear. After being challenged by a friend that Grain Free Samoas would not be good, I woke up on Saturday morning with a mission. A cookie mission.

These cookies deserve a badge! A medal! An Oscar, even! They make you THINK they are the real deal, but alas…they have no wheat, no grains, no processed sugar. Ya…SUCK IT TRABECK!

Grain Free Samoa Bars

Instead of making single cookie-disks, I opted for bars. Because seriously, these puppies disappear so quickly into your mouth that cutting out little stupid tire shaped cookies is not worth it. Lets save time. Let’s make bars! The shortbread crust is perfect and crisp. I saved even more time by not dipping each bar in chocolate and instead spread the chocolate layer between the shortbread crust and the caramel coconut layer. The caramel coconut layer is a delicious concoction of honey and a smidge of molasses that has been cooked down to an amber-caramel-heavenly syrup.

These do take a bit of time to make each part. But the wait and work is WELL worth it. So make a batch, hide several (because they will go fast if you share them), turn on the Oscars, grab a yummy Samoa bar, and do your best Matthew McConaughey impersonation….”alright, alright, alright”.

Grain Free Samoa Bars

Grain Free Samoa Bars

Makes 16 small bars

Shortbread Crust Ingredients (inspired by Deliciously Organic)

  • 1 1/2 Cup almond flour (such as Honeyville)
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut flour
  • 2 Tablespoons arrowroot powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons honey

Chocolate Layer

  • 1 Cup semisweet or dark chocolate, chopped

Coconut Caramel Topping (adapted from Against All Grains)

  • 1/2 Cup honey
  • 1 Tablespoon molasses
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 Cup coconut milk or heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 Cups unsweetened shredded coconut

Chocolate Drizzle

  • 1/2 Cup semisweet or dark chocolate

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Place parchment paper in the bottom of an 8-inch by 8-inch baking dish. Set aside.
  2. Combine crust ingredients in a medium bowl until just combined. The mixture will be crumbly. Press the crust evenly into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Bake on the middle rack of the oven at 350 for 15 minutes or until light golden brown.
  3. Meanwhile, place the unsweetened coconut on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer. Place on the top rack to toast. Toast the coconut for about 5 to 7 minutes, keeping an eye on it so that it doesn’t burn. Remove the toasted coconut from oven when golden brown and allow to cool on a wire rack.
  4. After the crust is finished baking, pull the crust from the oven. Turn the oven off. Sprinkle 1 cup of chopped chocolate onto the warm crust. Place back into the warm oven for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the oven and use a rubber spatula to spread the melted chocolate evenly over the shortbread crust. Set on a wire rack and allow to cool. Place in refrigerator after cooled.
  5. For the caramel sauce, place honey and molasses in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a low bubbling boil for about 7 minutes, swirling frequently to caramelize evenly. Remove from heat and stir in butter, coconut milk, and salt until smooth and completely combined. Stir in toasted coconut.
  6. Remove cooled shortbread crust from the refrigerator. Spread the coconut caramel mixture on top of the chocolate covered crust.
  7. Microwave remaining chocolate in a microwave safe dish for about 2 to 3 minutes, in 30 second intervals, stirring in between intervals. Once the chocolate is completely melted, drizzle the chocolate (using a spoon or fork) over the Samoa bars. Cool bars completely in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
  8. Use parchment paper to pull out the bars from the baking dish. Place on a cutting board and cut into 12 to 16 bars. Place bar in hand and shove into mouth. Mmmmm. 🙂

Grain Free Meyer Lemon Pudding Cake

Meyer Lemon Pudding Cakes (Paleo Friendly, Diary Free, Grain Free) - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

I tend to have issues with making big decisions. I freeze when provided with too many choices. I try to logically narrow down the choices. I over think it. I marinate and choke over it.

I do this with nearly e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. Cars. Houses. Jobs. Kids. Men. Shoes. Food. Does this come with a picture menu?

Apples at the store…. Pink lady? Gala? Fuji? Granny smith? wait..what do Rome apples taste like? or Empire? crap… or do I like Jonathon? no…wait… golden delicious are on sale… sold.

Meyer Lemon Pudding Cakes (Paleo Friendly, Diary Free, Grain Free) - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Sometimes I want cake. Other times I want something more creamy…pudding? Ugh… decisions. So here is where this cake is a winner on all fronts in my mind. It gives me the best of both worlds. This cake is the amazing love child between the most airy cake and the creamiest lemon curd-like pudding. I get pudding AND cake all in one bite. I get sweet AND tart all at once. I made these little Meyer lemon pudding cakes in two small 6-ounce ramekins and 1 larger gratin dish.

Meyer Lemon Pudding Cakes (Paleo Friendly, Diary Free, Grain Free) - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

There is one tiny problem: trying to not devour the whole cake at once. They taste like sunshine bursting through a cold blustery day and warming you to the bone. Meyer lemons have a thinner rind, are slightly orangish in color, and are a bit sweeter than their bright yellow typical lemon counterparts. The first bite of these Meyer lemon pudding cakes was like capturing childhood in tiny ramekins. Cabin fever shmabin fever! These Meyer lemon pudding cakes will make you forget the dull skies that loom.

Meyer Lemon Pudding Cakes (Paleo Friendly, Diary Free, Grain Free) - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

I loosely based my recipe on a Food and Wine recipe. To make this recipe grain free and dairy free (paleo friendly), I used coconut oil instead of butter, palm sugar instead of white sugar, almond milk instead of dairy milk, and a combination of almond flour/coconut flour in place of AP flour.  The cakes have a carmel-like color which I attribute to the dark coconut palm sugar.  Despite the caramel and faint yellow color of the pudding, these lil’ cuties are ridiculously good and will surely perk you up from any winter blues that you may be experiencing.  Cheers.

Meyer Lemon Pudding Cakes (Paleo Friendly, Diary Free, Grain Free) - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Grain Free Meyer Lemon Pudding Cake

Adapted from Food and Wine

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil (or grass fed butter), at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 3 large eggs, yolks separated from whites in separate bowls
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk (such as coconut milk or unsweetened almond milk)
  • 1/3 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh Meyer lemon zest (plus extra for serving)
  • 1/3 cup almond flour (such as Honeyville)
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Optional Toppings: lemon zest, powdered sugar, coconut whip, or greek yogurt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly butter six 6-ounce individual ramekins or a 9-inch pie dish. Set  the dishes inside a larger roasting pan and bring a kettle of water to a boil to create a bain-marie to evenly cook the pudding cakes.
  2. In another bowl, whisk the coconut oil (or butter) and palm sugar until creamed. Add one egg yolk at a time until combined. Gently whisk in the almond milk, lemon juice, and lemon zest until well combined. Stir in the almond flour and coconut flour and whisk until smooth.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites and salt until  stiff and soft peaks form. Gently fold in half of the beaten egg whites into the cake batter using a rubber spatula to lighten it. Carefully fold in the remaining egg whites. The batter should be light and fluffy at this point and will not resemble normal cake batter.
  4. Pour the cake batter into the prepared baking dishes. Since this cake will not rise, fill the dishes to the top if necessary.  Place the baking dishes into the larger roasting pan. Pour the boiling water from the kettle (step 1) into the roasting pan so that the water comes halfway up the outside of the ramekins or pie dish.  You can also fill the roasting pan with water while it is in the oven to keep from splashing water into the filled ramekins.
  5. Bake until the cake is puffed and golden, 50 to 60 minutes for a single pie dish, or 30 to 35 minutes for 6 small cakes. The top will become golden and the middle of the cake will barely jiggle when shaken. Pull out of the oven and allow to cool for 20 to 30 minutes on a wire rack. Serve the cake warm and fresh from the oven sprinkled with extra lemon zest.

Grain Free Cranberry Banana Bread Muffins

Cranberry Banana Muffins (Grain Free, Nut Free, Paleo Friendly) - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Christmas is approaching quickly and I am hosting! Pray for me. I’ve already caught a dishtowel on fire and burned my butcher block.  I will soon have a house filled with kids, love, hugs, ham, chocolate, pie, fudge, nuts, cheeselogs, stockings, egg nog, and so much more. Mmmmmm.

I’m trying to bake a few things ahead of time to prepare for the coming family. I whipped up this batch of muffins this week and have placed them in the freezer ready to be pulled out and rewarmed at a moments notice. Gotta love short cuts.

Cranberry Banana Muffins (Grain Free, Nut Free, Paleo Friendly) - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

AAAAnd, you gotta love bursts of cranberries in these muffins. Well, everyone except my husband…dat’s weeeahd. But’s he’s weird anyways people. I mean, who puts their shoes in the freezer? Anyone? ya…him.

And who’s favorite christmas movie is Die Hard? Him! Well…and likely most dudes.

Ok ok ok…I love Die Hard too, but what about Jingle All the Way? Most people’s fave holiday movies are Home Alone and Christmas Story. But Sinbad and Arnold give the fabulous gift of I-haven’t-bought-anything-for-anyone-yet-so-I-will-buy-a-not-so-meaningful-but-expensive-Christmas-gift-on-Christmas-Eve-style Christmas spirit. Check it out. And don’t you dare go buy Christmas gifts ON Christmas Eve! Learn a lesson from Arnold, people. Or else you will end up driving around town, being robbed by washed up Santa’s, threatening a radio show host, and trying to steal presents from under other people’s trees. But then you end up dressed like a superhero at the end, so I guess it’s all worth it. But I digress….

Cranberry Banana Muffins (Grain Free, Nut Free, Paleo Friendly) - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

If you haven’t gotten gifts at this point in the game, don’t do it. It’s a fart in the wind, friends. Make these muffins instead. Put them in a pretty box, tie some kitchen twine around them, and write a thoughtful note. When you present these to others, they’ll eat them and say “wow, that was so thoughtful and so delicious” in the voice of Ma Brady.

Now, isn’t this so much better than fighting the crowds and buying a crappy import mug with two year old hot cocoa mix and crouton-like marshmallows?

Cranberry Banana Muffins (Grain Free, Nut Free, Paleo Friendly) - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Back to these awesome muffins that you are making for “the ones that you love”, remember?!?

These muffins come together just using the food processor! It’s easy! No need to dirty multiple bowls. I adapted a recipe from Danielle Walker’s Against All Grains cookbook (best grain-free cookbook around, folks), swapping out the almond flour for tapioca flour for a nut free muffin version. I also added fresh cranberries for a fleck of holiday red and a punch of perfect tartness.

Oh Oh OH…AAAAND, even thought these muffins contain NO oil, they are uber moist. So there…you just made tasty AND healthy holiday treats for people and didn’t have to punch someone in the face at the store on Christmas Eve. You are a good person. Pat yourself on the back and enjoy a muffin. Because, of course you made a double batch so that you could keep some for yourself. We aren’t heathens around here. Sheesh.

I hope you have a happy Christmas and a merry New Year.  Muah!

Paris 2013

Paleo Cranberry Banana Bread Muffins

Adapted from Against All Grains

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sifted coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk (such as coconut milk or almond milk)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with muffin liners and set aside.
  2. Add the cider vinegar to the coconut milk and set aside for at least 5 minutes.
  3. In a food processor or blender, add bananas, eggs, honey and vanilla extract. Process for 1 to 2 minutes until eggs are frothy. Add coconut flour, tapioca flour, baking soda, and salt to the bowl of the food processor with the frothy egg mixture. Blend/process until well combined.  Add the vinegar/coconut milk mixture to the batter and process for an additional 30 seconds until well mixed.
  4. Add the washed fresh cranberries and whole walnuts. Pulse the mixture a few times (do not over process or the cranberries will be too chopped) to distribute the cranberries and walnuts throughout the batter.
  5. Spoon 1/4 cup of muffin batter into prepared muffin liners. This recipe makes 12 muffins.
  6. Place the muffin tin in the preheated oven. Bake the muffins at 325 F for 30 to 35 minutes or until the top of the muffins are light golden brown.
  7. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Remove muffins from muffin tin and allow to cool further on a wire rack. If freezing, allow to cool completely before placing in a ziplock freeze bag or container. Microwave or reheat in oven to thaw. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store leftovers in refrigerator and/or freezer.

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Candied Hazelnuts

Grain Free Chocolate Flourless Cake

We moved to Kansas City nearly five years ago. FIVE years. what?

When we moved here, we knew no one. It was just me, Kiley, and our furry son Guinness. My aunt and uncle live within an hour from KC, which helped the transition of moving away from my family in Oklahoma. Our first winter was long and cold. Ice crystals formed on the INSIDE of the windows in our drafty rent house. Kiley and I sat around in matching blue Snuggies hoping that our fingers would thaw out eventually.

Grain Free Chocolate Flourless Cake

Trying to make friends as you get older is a funny and actually hard thing. It’s like dating all over again. But we don’t have college as a buffer. I found myself trying to pick up strangers in the grocery store… “So…you like avocados too? Ya…. Want to be friends?”

I didn’t know how to make friends. I’m awkward. I’m an engineer. I suck at small talk. My cousin gave me pointers on making friends…I kid you not.

Grain Free Chocolate Flourless Cake

Grain Free Chocolate Flourless Cake

Join a club. Go to a class. Ya. Ok… I knew I could do it, right? I’m friendly. I like people. Right?

So I went to a gardening class, a cooking class, canning and preserving classes, knitting classes. Basically I met every 70 year old in KC. I planted sweet potatoes with all of them too. They are awesome (the sweet potatoes and my grannies), but they don’t make great “couple” friends. And they eat dinner at 4pm. I eat at 5pm people…who eats at 4pm and at a buffet. I do NOT do buffets. They have jello surprise. *Shudder*

Candied Hazelnuts

Grain Free Chocolate Flourless Cake Needless to say, after five years I feel incredibly lucky to have developed quite a family of friends. Friends that feel as though we known each other for ever. Friends that feel more like family ever day. Friends that all wear blue on the same day by accident to have a great joint birthday celebration for my girlfriend Tessa and my husband.

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And just like my 70 year BFFs taught me, you always have to make birthdays special. My grandma taught me well and that’s why I always like to make a fabulous birthday cake for anyone on their special day! This Flourless Chocolate Cake was adapted from the ever inspiring and talented Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen.  I tweaked a few things, added a pinch of cayenne and also topped with addictive candied hazelnuts. This cake has a wow factor that will impress anyone. So consider whipping this up for anyone that is special in your life that you want to just say….

“I’m so thankful that you are alive. This world is a better place because of you…so let’s have CAKE.”

Grain Free Chocolate Flourless Cake

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Candied Hazelnuts

(adapted from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook)

Cake Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted grass-fed butter
  • 5 ounces semisweet or dark chocolate (I used 70% cocoa), diced into pieces
  • 4 large eggs, separated (at room temperature)
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne (optional)
  • candied hazelnuts for topping (see recipe below)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line an 8-inch round springform pan with a circle of parchment paper and generously butter the sides of the pan. Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, brown the butter by melting it and stirring frequently. Allow the butter to continue to cook and foam. Brown bits will begin to form at the bottom of the saucepan after about 3 minutes. Remove the saucepan with the browned butter from the heat and add the chocolate pieces. Stir until the chocolate is entirely melted. To cool the chocolate mixture to room temperature, transfer the melted chocolate mixture to a heat resistant bowl (glass is best) and nest it in a larger bowl of cold or ice water. Be careful to not allow the cooling water to get into the melted chocolate. Stir the cooling chocolate frequently so that it cools evenly.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the room temperature egg yolks, maple syrup, and vanilla together until the mixture becomes thick. Slowly mix in the chocolate mixture, cinnamon, and cayenne to the egg yolk mixture until it becomes extremely thick.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixture, beat the four egg whites and salt until firm peaks form. Gently stir in one third of the egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture until evenly combined. Gently fold in the remaining egg white mixture and try to keep the batter as light as possible.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven in the middle rack for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the top has formed a thin domed crust. To test, stick a skewer in the middle of the cake and it will come out clean when done. Cool for five minutes and then invert the cake onto a serving plate. Sprinkle with crushed candied hazelnuts.

Candied Hazelnuts

(Note – can be made up to 1 day ahead of time and stored in an airtight container)

  • 1/3 cup raw hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup palm sugar or evaporated cane sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • pinch flaky sea salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spread the hazelnuts onto a baking sheet and toast them for 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes to allow for even toasting. Remove the hazelnuts from the oven and allow to cool. Remove the skins by rubbing the nuts in a dry dish towel or between the palms of your hands.
  2. Place parchment paper over a plate and have a set of small tongs ready to be used. In a small heavy saucepan, cook the sugar and water (do not stir) over medium heat until the sugar melts and turns a caramel color (about 3 to 5 minutes). Add the sea salt and hazelnuts. Stir and allow the caramel to coat the hazelnuts. Turn the heat off. Remove the hazelnuts one by one with the tongs and place them onto the parchment paper, making sure that they do not touch each other. Cool the nuts completely (or place in the fridge). Once cooled, the nuts will easily fall off of the parchment paper.
  3. To break into pieces, place the candied hazelnuts into a ziplock bag and seal. Use the bottom of a glass or a hammer, and smash them (don’t pulverize) into large chunks. Keep in an airtight container until ready to use.

Grain Free Pumpkin Apple Coffee Cake

Pumpkin and Apple Coffee Cake - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

It’s fall and we all know what that means. It is comfy time.

It is sweater time!

It is jeans time!

It is WOOL SOCKS time!!!!!

It is pumpkin time!

But first, before I roll into pumpkin flavored everything….I have to tell you about my big accomplishment. This weekend I went on a fall cleaning and organizing mission. This is monumental, people. I peeled everything out of all of our closets and was ready for a massive PURGE. Usually when I do a “purge” I just sit around staring at old memorabilia and becoming even more attached to the T-shirts that I bought 15 years ago but haven’t worn in 10 years. But seriously, folks…how can you get rid of a shirt that says “Not everything is flat in Kansas“!!?!?! I know! Precious. My point exactly.

Man, you guys just get me.

So this weekend’s purge was different. I properly purged. (No, don’t worry I didn’t get rid of that awesome T-shirt.) But I DID manage to organize everything in our closets (a.k.a shove-crap-wherever-it-would-fit space) and get rid of:

  • Other not-so-cool shirts,
  • Expired medicine (goodbye Benedryl from 1990),
  • Stained things (note to self – QUIT buying white things…ketchup loves it too much),
  • Single socks that have permanently lost their partner (let’s have a moment of silence for all of the poor sock widows), and
  • A metric boat load of half-marathon race packets with sample bottles of weird things, etc.

As I stuffed and crammed these unwanted and unnecessary items into either goodwill sacks or the trash, I wondered why have I held on to this crap for so long? Holding onto stuff is an interesting thing. I put a big importance on odd things, but seriously not EVERYTHING has to be a gem, does it? At this rate I will need to get a separate storage unit just to store my “awe remember when…” items.

But now I feel fabulous and comfy. I’m wearing my comfy old T-shirt and a pair of wool socks that I lost. My closet is clean, stacked, organized, and comfy. Everything is just…comfy.

Comfy like the fall weather blowing around the leaves outside.

Comfy like old love letters from my husband that I found in a shoe box at the back of my closet.

Comfy like my favorite broken-in sweatshirt that I found crammed underneath a suitcase (okay, so I didn’t purge EVERYTHING…baby steps, people).

Comfy like nearly anything pumpkin flavored!

Pumpkin and Apple Coffee Cake - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

We all get bitten by the pumpkin bug every year! I have held off for quite a bit, but now it is on like a pumpkin thong. Hrmmm….wait. Bad idea. A pumpkin thong would NOT be comfy. Scratch that…

Just make this pumpkin apple coffee cake instead. I promise that the scent of it will make you swoon. You will want to wrap up with a comfy blanket, have a warm cup of coffee, and grab a big square of this warm coffee cake.

This coffee cake recipe is adapted from my Pumpkin and Apple Almond Flour Muffins and the Peach Streusel Topped Coffee Cake recipe featured in the fabulous Against All Grain Cookbook. It is moist and light with warm spices to fill your belly.  I whipped this up for a football brunch watch party last weekend. My house smelled SO good while it baked and for days afterwards.  I definitely think I will make this again for the holidays (or tomorrow).

Pumpkin and Apple Coffee Cake - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Note – To make this recipe, I used Honeyville blanched almond flour. I prefer this brand because it makes baked goods lighter and flufflier than almond meal. I have not tried this recipe with other brands or with almond meal. If you try it with another brand or almond meal, please let me know how it turned out. This coffee cake takes nearly an hour to bake. If you need something that cooks in less time, try my delicious Pumpkin and Apple Almond Flour muffin recipe.

Pumpkin and Apple Coffee Cake - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Pumpkin Apple Coffee Cake (Grain Free, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Paleo-Friendly)

Coffee Cake Ingredients

  • 2 cups blanched almond flour (I use Honeyville)
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
  • 3 eggs (room temperature)
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup (or honey)
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 Tablespoon coconut oil (or grass-fed butter), melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 medium apples (dice one and thinly slice the other)
  • Streusel topping (recipe below)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease a 9X9 inch square pan or 9-inch round springform cake pan with coconut oil. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients (flours, salt, baking soda, and spices) with a whisk. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer or food processor, mix the eggs and the maple syrup on medium speed until eggs become frothy (about 2 minutes). Add remaining wet ingredients (pumpkin, applesauce, oil, vanilla). Mix until all ingredients are combined. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Stir in diced apples (about 1 cup). Spread mixture into the prepared pan. Place thin apple sliced on top. Sprinkle streusel topping evenly over the top.
  4. Place pan on middle rack of the preheated oven. Cook at 325 F for 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Streusel Topping (adapted from Against All Grain Cookbook)

  • 1/3 cup pecans or walnuts
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Combine all of the streusel ingredients into the bowl of a small food processor. Pulse a few times until the nuts are chopped finely and the streusel comes together.
  2. Sprinkle ingredients onto the coffee cake or store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 1 day.

Paleo Chocolate Zucchini Banana Muffins

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Eight years ago, I walked barefoot down the aisle to a crazy man. A crazy man who was in love with me. For the past 8 years, he has been my strength through some very difficult times. He has kept me sane (sort of), been my cheerleader, held my hand through illness, hugged me through tears, and made me laugh even when I’d rather be mad.

I’m an amazingly lucky woman. This year we celebrated early with a trip to Paris. So this week we are playing it low key with gluten-free jalapeno-bacon pizza from our fave pizza joint and a few beers. Cheers to my man.

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Speaking of amazing, I also made these Chocolate Zucchini Banana Muffins for quick treats and snacks.  They taste fabulous with a dollop of almond butter. If you do not have almond flour, these muffins can be made by replacing the almond flour with 2 cups of almond butter.

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Honestly, you can’t go wrong with these muffins. The recipe is very versatile. I created a double dose of chocolate (cacao powder AND chocolate chips). However, you could leave out the cacao powder and just make Zucchini Chocolate Chip Banana muffins. I also delivered these muffins to several of our friends that are new parents. Huge thumbs up by all…and no one knew they were grain free. Muahahha.

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Paleo Chocolate Zucchini Banana Muffin

Adapted from Against All Grain

Makes 24 muffins (Note – This recipe can easily be cut in half to make 12 muffins…or freeze the extras for quick breakfasts and snacks.)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups almond flour (or 2 cups of creamy natural almond butter)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 cup cacao powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 Tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (for dairy free, use Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Place 24 muffin liners in two 12-cup muffin tins. Set aside.
  2. Combine dry ingredients (almond flour, baking soda, cacao powder, powder, sea salt, cinnamon, ginger) in a large bowl. Stir with a whisk and set aside.
  3. In either a large food processor or a stand mixer, beat eggs, bananas, vanilla, and honey together for 1 to 2 minutes, until egg mixture becomes slightly frothy. Combine wet and dry ingredients. Stirring until just combined. Stir in zucchini and chocolate chips.
  4. Scoop 1/4 cup of batter into lined muffin tins. Place in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean and centers are cooked through. Ovens are variable, so this time may need to be adjusted based on your location (altitude) and oven.
  5. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes in muffin tins. Remove from muffin tins and place on cooling racks.