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. 

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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.

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.

6 Days in Paris

Last week we were gallivanting around Paris. Rough life I know. But honestly this trip has been a long long long time coming. I can’t wait to go back to that amazing city. It was gorgeous and a much needed break. I loved the little specialty shops. The cafes were picturesque and romantic. You can feel the history, the significance, and the difference in the pace of life, despite almost 2.5 million people living there.

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We rented an apartment through AirBnB that was located in the 10th arrondissement by Canal St-Martin. It’s an awesome area. It was just a 2 minute walk to the metro station, and by some of the best bakeries, eateries, butcher shops, and fromageries (cheese shop).  We ate well, tasted amazing olive oil, ate creme brulee, swam in fabulous gelato, walked every day, drank espresso every morning from cafe seats facing the street, and smelled fresh baked bread…EVERYWHERE.

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SO let’s talk real quick about bakeries and about being gluten free in Paris, of all places. If there was a time to fall off the wagon…this is the place to do it. My husband embraced the pan au chocolat (chocolate croissants) for breakfast every morning. I instead ate my measly bowl of oatmeal. It was a good trade for me to not have to deal with stomach pain all day.  But such torture! People walking around and biking around eating loaves and loaves of amaaaazing bread. Here in the states, I don’t feel too deprived, but there! Man…it was tough.

One day I did break down and ate a few slices of baguette, dipping it dreamily into my creamy baked eggs. SWOOON. But boy did I pay for it later. We had to end the night early as my stomach went into a tailspin. After that, I happily enjoyed my oatmeal and passed on the chewy bread.

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But it really wasn’t hard to be gluten free…even in the land o’ bread. Hell, who could feel slighted when you can have amazing gelato or creme brûlée! If you happen to be traveling to Paris, I definitely recommend finding Pozzetto‘s gelato shop and getting the pistache (pistachio). You won’t be disappointed.

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I did manage to find a fabulous gluten free bakery shop near our apartment called Helmut Newcake. It was fabulous! My husband and I shared a lemon meringue tart and a salted butter caramel profiterole. Dear lord those were ridiculous! Good thing we walked nearly 40 miles in just 6 days. Otherwise I don’t think I would have fit in an airplane seat to come back home. Hrmmm…maybe getting stuck in Paris wouldn’t have been such a bad thing.

Tornado Disaster Relief

I was born and raised in the heart of Oklahoma. We were there this weekend for my sister’s graduation, leaving just hours before these destructive tornados ripped through the area. Words can’t even describe the pain, grief, and helplessness I feel currently at the site of my fellow Oklahoman’s suffering from the destruction of yet another tornado.  The Moore area has been hit repeatedly within the last 15 years. Luckily all of my family and friends have been accounted for that live in and around the Moore area.  Although many of them lost their homes, they are at least safe. 

However, there are many many many others that are not ok or are still looking for loved ones.  Many people are without homes. Please keep everyone there in your thoughts. I have included a few links below for those of you who would like to provide assistance or help:

  1. To donate $10, text REDCROSS to 90999 or call 800-RED-CROSS.  All donations will help provide food, shelter, and support to those that have been affected.
  2. Donate blood! They are in need of people with type O negative blood. Call 800-RED-CROSS or go to www.redcrossblood.org to donate.
  3. To help stranded pets, donate to the Central Oklahoma Humane Society.
  4. Donate to the regional Oklahoma Food Bank.
  5. The Salvation Army and Oklahoma Disaster Relief are delivering food and disaster response to victims and are accepting financial help.

Weekend in Marfa

We traveled to Marfa, Texas this weekend to see two amazing people get hitched.

Where is Marfa, you ask? Nowhere. No…literally…it is in the middle of nowhere. Like 200 miles in the middle of nowhere.

This amazing artist community contains a population barely over 2,000 and pops up out of nowhere.  It is in the high desert of far West Texas near Big Bend National Park and 200 miles from either the Midland or El Paso airports.

This little secret town is well worth the travel. It is full of surprises…with a fake Prada store on an empty road, amazing restaurants, interesting places to stay, world-renowned art sculptures, and access to amazing landscapes.

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We flew into El Paso (after 6 hours of horrible flight delays) and drove 3.5 hours to Marfa….well 2.5 to 3 hours….Kiley decided to take advantage of the west Texas desert roads and rented a new Camaro. Boys.

We stayed in the renovated Thunderbird Hotel which I highly recommend.  Others wedding travelers stayed in the renovated airstream RV park called El Cosmico which are fun, but have outdoor showers which could be a turnoff for some (me!).  I was glad to not have an outdoor shower.  The historic El Paisano hotel was beautiful too and it is where the cast of The Giant (James Dean, Rock Hudson, and Elizabeth Taylor) stayed during filming.

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I have never been to this region of Texas. There is something haunting and beautiful about the desert.  The empty vastness that just goes on and on and on. I fell in love with the rugged, dusty landscape. It is a survivor. The weather changed in a split second going from hot and dry to a growling thunderstorm that brought two tornadoes, hail, and gusty thunderstorm! Then, just as it rushed in, it rushed back out, leaving behind sun and wet earth.

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The lifestyle in these tiny desert communities is slower. The sign on the door of the Marfa lawyer’s office sums it up…”Call me if you need me.”

I needed this slow down.

I needed to be able to sit and listen to the desert rainstorm.

I needed to just drive with my husband through miles and miles and miles of vastness with no agenda.

I needed friends that I hadn’t seen in years.

I needed the glow of a neon wedding in Marfa, TX.

Call me if you need me.

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Birthday Trip to Sunny San Francisco

My birthday was this past week. To celebrate, Kiley and I traveled to San Francisco for an awesome birthday vacation weekend.  We stayed with my cousin and her husband in Berkley.  The weather was amazing and a great escape from the midwest cold spell.

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We hiked over 5 miles in Muir Woods and I saw my first Redwood!  I was in awe.  There is something magical about that area. John Muir should be elevated to sainthood or superhuman status for preserving these areas and for being the father of National Parks!  If it were up to humans, there would be a Walmart Supercenter smack dab in the middle.

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Another big milestone was getting to eat at Alice Water’s restaurant Chez Panisse which is located in Berkley. I’ve been a huge fan of hers for years.  I had roast chicken wrapped in pancetta with braised brussels sprouts and pureed root vegetables.  My cousin and I shared an amazing vanilla bean ice cream with chestnut honey and Marcona almonds. Swoooon! It did not disappoint.

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We also managed to visit some dear friends that live in the city that have the most amazing view of downtown.  We went to the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). That night, we ate at Kennedy’s Irish Pub and Curry House. Ha…with a name like that, how could we pass it up!  And let me tell you, that was the best dang curry I’ve ever had. Who knew that the Irish were curry geniuses!

I wish we had more time there because the food was stellar, the views were sublime, and the weather was serene.  I can’t wait to go back.

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Portland Food Tour

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Sorry, friends. There has been an extended delay in my posts because I am vacationing in Portland, the city of roses, curbside compost service, breweries on every corner, and brunch hot spots! Portland holds a close place in my heart….and stomach. We come up here often and are always inspired by the progressive nature toward bike lanes and general public transit. They also have a vibrant food scene which utilizes farm to table concepts in nearly every restaurant, featuring the freshest seasonal produce.

Our friends that we stayed with were the best hosts and took us to some of the most delicious and unique places in town…. No pepto donuts at voodoo. If you happen to travel to PDX soon, here are some of the places we went and are highly recommended by my stomach! All of these locations had gluten-free and vegetarian options.

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Clyde Common – simply amazing. It is a bit pricey but we went for lunch and it was very affordable. My swiss, kale, and apricot jam panini was life changing. And did I mentions the side of pickled grapes. Ya, pickled grapes. This dish has inspired me to try to create something similar when we get back to KC. Especially since today’s Food Matter’s Project recipe is a dessert panini (Cherry Chocolate Panini) by Margarita of Let’s Cook and Be Friends. Check it out.

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Portobello – this is actually one of my favorite restaurants that I have ever eaten at….and it’s vegan. They are inventive, inspiring, fresh, and never disappoint. I had spaghetti and beet-balls. HOLY CRAP. I can’t tell you how good those damn beet-balls were. But one thing is for certain: I am making some when we get home. Sage and caraway seeds gave them a distinct sausage flavor. Ten thumbs up! This dish inspired me to incorporate beets into black bean burgers that I made last night….recipe to come when we get back.

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Beaterville Cafe and Bar – great diner with awesome gluten free biscuits. Located walking distance from our friend’s house, we ate here a few times and it was consistently great. Huge omelets, so come hungry!

Bijou Cafe – best french-style omelette of goat cheddar and local mushrooms. Unfortunately, I did not get a picture of it because I was so hungry.   It was ridiculously delicious.

Tasty n’ Sons – worth the hype and again, no picture because I was so hungry when the food arrived that I hoovered my grilled asparagus and poached egg directly in my open mouth. The spring frittata had spring peas, mint, and feta. Kiley had the steak and eggs over a cornmeal pancake with jalapeño butter. The drinks were great….grapefruit mimosa is my new brunch drink of choice. Mmmmm.

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Bridgeport Brewpub – best brewery and beer in town, in my book. That is a hard thing to do in a town with over 100 microbrews. Grab a seat on the patio and a pint straight from the tap. So good. I recommend the IPA.

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Portland Saturday Farmer’s Market – don’t miss the farmers market on Saturday mornings on the PSU campus. It is the best I have seen.