Slow Cooker Apple, Fennel, and Pecan Cornbread Dressing (Gluten Free)

Slow Cooker Apple, Fennel, and Pecan Cornbread Dressing (Gluten Free) // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

This year was my third year to host Friendsgiving here in Kansas City.  The first year, we had 11 friends and no kids gather in our small home and bring an amazing assortment of food…including jello shots. Over the years, some friends have moved away and others have moved in. We love welcoming new friends into our hearts and home. This year was much bigger with 15 adults and six children, as many of our friends have become parents. No jello shots this year. Womp Womp. Although the dynamic was slightly different, the joy and love was tremendous.

Friendsgiving 2012

Friendsgiving 2014

Time management is key to hosting a low stress and enjoyable holiday party. By organizing my dishes and using slow cooking techniques, I was able to enjoy the beautiful day and amazing friends that came to our home.

I spent the day preparing for a full house in my tiny space. Since my kitchen and my oven is quite small, I chose to roast a 7-lb pork shoulder in a roasting oven (life saver), roast a 4-lb free range chicken in my oven, and cook my cornbread dressing in my slow cooker. During the great cooking adventure, I did lose a breaker and a fuse a few times (and ended up placing my slow cooker with the cornbread dressing in a spare bedroom!). But it all turned out great and I kept my wine glass FULL.

Slow Cooker Apple, Fennel, and Pecan Cornbread Dressing (Gluten Free) // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

So let’s get to this Cornbread Dressing, shall we?

Apples, Fennel, and Pecans! Yeeeeeeaaaas. And don’t forget sage!

Slow Cooker Apple, Fennel, and Pecan Cornbread Dressing (Gluten Free) // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

There are several parts of this dressing that can be made ahead of time. The Gluten Free Old Fashioned Cornbread can be made up to 2 days ahead. The aromatics in the dish (onions, celery, and fennel) can be braised in a little olive oil up to two days ahead of time as well. I mixed everything together and placed into my slow cooker and allowed to cook while I was getting other things together. This also kept the cornbread dressing warm until it was time to eat.

Slow Cooker Apple, Fennel, and Pecan Cornbread Dressing (Gluten Free) // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Slow Cooker Apple, Fennel, and Pecan Cornbread Dressing (Gluten Free)

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 batch of old fashioned skillet cornbread
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 bulb of fennel, slivered
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 medium apples, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  1. Prepare cornbread at least one day ahead of time. Crumble up cornbread and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Allow to sit out at room temperature and dry out. Alternately, preheat oven to 250F and scatter cornbread in a single layer on the rimmed baking sheet and bake (stirring often) for about 1 hour or until the cornbread is dried out.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add fennel, onion, and celery and cook, stirring often, and beginning to soften. Add apple, pecans, and herbs. Cook for about 1 minute. Remove from heat and gently stir in dried out cornbread and 1 1/2 cups of broth. Add salt and pepper to taste. 
  3. Spoon cornbread dressing mixture into a large slow cooker or crock pot. Cook on low for about 4 hours. Keep warm until ready to serve.

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Easy Gluten Free Old Fashioned Skillet Cornbread

Gluten Free Skillet Cornbread // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

As Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, I am preparing a two series post for my favorite Thanksgiving dish….cornbread dressing. Not stuffing. Dressssssing. What’s the diff, you ask?

Stuffing is stuffed inside your bird whereas dressing is a casserole cooked OUTSIDE your bird. Next, make that dressing with cornbread. None of this fancy BRIOCHE. What? Give me southern style cornbread dressing seasoned with plenty o sage!  YAAASSSS. But stay tuned, that’s my next post.

And for my next magic trick, I’ll make amazingly moist gluten-free cornbread. You ready??? aaaah. Put away those boxes of Iffy Jiffy. Serious. This is just as easy and better for you.  It’s perfect alongside chili, soup, and as a base for my Cornbread Dressing for Thanksgiving!  Oh and it’s fabulous with a dab of butter and some honey! holy Moses.

Gluten Free Corn Bread // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Gluten Free Skillet Cornbread // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

So what is Old Fashioned Cornbread, you ask?

Welcome to cornbread 101!  I like to break cornbread (pun intended) into two different styles: Old Fashioned (or rather Southern Style) and Yankee Style (or Northern Style).

(1) Old fashioned cornbread is 100% cornmeal, buttermilk, and a touch of sweetener.

(2) Yankee style cornbread is a more cake-like cornbread that contains around 50% cornmeal, 50% all purpose flour, and a lot of sugar. Think yellow cake and Jiffy in cornbread Tender match. Good…but not cornbread to me.

I prefer a savory cornbread that tastes like CORNBREAD…not cake.

Old fashioned cornbread is also generally cooked in a well-seasoned cast iron skillet, adding extra flavor. If you don’t have a skillet (put it on your christmas list and get one), you can easily make this cornbread in a buttered 8X8 pan. However, I should note that something magical happens when the skillet of cornbread is finished. You open that hot oven to an amazing smell of buttery cornbread. Pulling out a hot skillet of hot cornbread from an oven makes me feel close to my grandmother and a different generation that didn’t know about cell phones, and Facebook, and go go go. It makes me wish that she was here with me as I slather a hot wedge of cornbread with extra butter.

Gluten Free Skillet Cornbread // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Easy Gluten Free Old Fashioned Skillet Cornbread

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 cups stone ground gluten-free cornmeal*
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons honey*
  • 2 eggs (at room temperature), beaten
  • 1 1/4 buttermilk*
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Place an 8-inch cast iron skillet into the preheating oven. (If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, butter an 8X8 baking dish and set aside.)
  2. In a large bowl, whisk cornmeal, salt, and baking soda. In a separate medium bowl, whisk eggs, buttermilk, honey, and greek yogurt until combined.
  3. Remove preheated skillet from oven. Place butter in the skillet, swirl around and allow to melt.
  4. Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients and pour the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients. Stir until combined and no dry ingredients remain.  Mixture will be slightly lumpy.
  5. Pour batter into the skillet. Place in preheated oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until top is golden brown. Test the doneness by placing a butter knife in the middle of the cornbread and removing it. It’s finished baking when the butter knife comes out clean. Let the cornbread cool for about 10 minutes. Serve warm!

*Notes:

  • For a more fluffy cake-like cornbread (yankee style), a half-cup of the cornmeal can be replaced with gluten-free flour such as oat flour, almond meal, rice flour, or a gf flour blend.
  • The honey can also be increased to one-fourth of a cup for a sweeter cornbread. I have also used maple syrup and coconut palm sugar with good results.
  • Buttermilk can be substituted with dairy or non-dairy milk and 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.

Crockpot Beef and Mushroom Stew (Gluten Free and Paleo-Friendly)

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I have been in an alternate universe, my friends. A universe where people never sleep, the air smells like strawberry perfume, puke, and alcohol and no one seems to care that a burger costs $22. Ya….I speak of Vegas.

One of my oldest friends was getting hitched last weekend there. It was great to see him and his new wife as well as many old friends from college.  It’s funny getting back together with friends that you don’t see that often, but when you do see them, it is as if no time has passed. But then the problem is that I feel like I have to cram so much fun into a condensed time span.

So what do you get when you concentrate fun in Vegas?  Drinks that should never be THAT big, beer pong rallies (be sure close to your eyes when the ball hits the floor so that you don’t vom in your mouth), mechanical bull riding that felt like it lasted 10 minutes (I pulled a groin muscle doing this because I’m OLD), no sleep no sleep no sleep.  It took only 12 hours for me and my husband to quickly realize that we were in our mid 30s, not early 20s. Ouch.

Crockpot Beef and Mushroom Stew // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

As a result, mama is in major decompression mode. No bright lights, no floral smells, no alcohol, no loud noises. All I need right now is to be wrapped up in a blanket like a human burrito while I listen to soul music on the record player. Put it on repeat please.

I also need a massive helping of this warm comfy soup to combat the outside temps that are in the teens!

Crockpot Beef and Mushroom Stew (Gluten Free and Paleo-Friendly)

  • Servings: 4 to 6
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 lbs beef stew meat (seasoned with salt and pepper)
  • 2 onions, sliced in 1/4-inch slivers
  • 10 oz baby bella mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 2 cups diced potatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon thyme
  • 6 cups beef stock
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Place first six ingredients (stew through beef stock) in a crockpot. Cook on low for at least 8 hours.
  2. In a small bowl, stir arrowroot powder into sherry until a smooth paste is formed. Add sherry mixture to the crockpot and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper as needed.

Gluten Free Apple Spice Muffins with Walnut-Oat Streusel

Gluten Free Apple Spice Muffins // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Apples are here! And these Gluten Free Apple Spice Muffins are healthy, delicious, moist, and sweet.

Similar to the way people are feeling about post season baseball around here is the way I feel about Apple Season.

APPLE SEASON is Post Season to me! Am I right?  Let’s get pumped, people! Summer is over and HELLOOOOO apples. Crunchy, juicy, sweet/tart Apples.

I could seriously OD on apples more than chocolate… weird, huh?  Seriously, I can’t be the only one who has fantasies about going apple picking and bringing home loads of perfect apples and then baking them up in pies, muffins, cobblers, a la mode, cinnamon-spiked applesauce, or, hell, just eating them fresh ALL the TIME.  I’m drooling right now.

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Gluten Free Apple Spice Muffins // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

I also have to admit that I get SO overwhelmed with all the apple varieties. Holy pooh on a stick! How can you choose?  I’m on the hunt for some interesting varieties this year.  Here in Missouri, there are lots of apple orchards that allow you to pick your own. I’m a big fan of the local varieties of Jonathan, Ozark Gold, Goldrush, and Enterprise. These varieties are good for eating and baking, having sweet/tart flavors with plenty of crunch. They don’t mush up when baked, which is a plus as well.

I used a combination of Jonathan and Golden Delicious when I baked up these luscious Gluten Free Apple Spice Muffins, but any variety should be fine. However, depending on the quality of apples you have access to, the final flavor will vary slightly.

Gluten Free Apple Spice Muffins // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

I used a combination of two flours: gluten free oat flour and almond flour. I really like the balance of these two flours in muffins. The combo of these flours provide both fiber and protein, which are perfect for beginning your morning and staying satiated longer. And you get a great fall spice treat to start your day.

I used an interesting technique with these muffins. Instead of using store-bought applesauce, I created my own by pureeing one of the three apples in a food processor. After it was pureed, I then added the remaining two apples to the bowl of the food processor and pulsed the apples until they were chopped. If you don’t have a food processor, you can sub 1/2-cup of applesauce for one of the apples.

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Gluten Free Apple Spice Muffins // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

And let’s also talk about this Walnut-Oat Streusel topping. Walnuts, oats, maple…mmmmm. You mustn’t skimp on this step, friends. Noo no no. Do this. I typically don’t top my muffins (because I’m lazy). But I took the extra 2 minutes (seriously…why do I not do this) and holy mama was it worth it.

Gluten Free Apple Spice Muffins // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Gluten Free Apple Spice Muffins

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: Easy/Medium
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Gluten Free Apple Spice Muffins Ingredients

  • 2 cups gluten free oat flour (ground from gluten free rolled oats or use Bob’s Red Mill gluten free oat flour)
  • 1 cup almond flour (I use Honeyville)
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 medium apples, cored and sliced in quarters
  • 1/3 cup greek yogurt (or dairy free yogurt)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted (or coconut oil)
  • 4 eggs (at room temperature)

Walnut-Oat Streusel Topping Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup rolled gluten free oats
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons butter or coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line or grease a 12-muffin tin with liners and set aside.
  2. Place dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Combine Walnut-Oat Streusel topping ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a food processor, place pieces of one apple, greek yogurt, maple syrup, melted butter, and eggs.  Puree mixture until smooth. Add remaining pieces of two apples and pulse until the apples are in small chunks. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Stir mixture until just combined.
  5. Scoop 1/3-cup of batter into each lined muffin tin to 3/4 full. Sprinkle streusel topping evenly on each muffin. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until muffins are browned and cooked all the way through. Remove from oven. After 15 minutes, move muffins to a cooling rack.

Gluten Free Carrot-Apple Muffins

Gluten Free Carrot-Apple Muffins / Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

My man and I just celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary last month.

Nine! Where did time go?

I am utterly surprised that my husband still looks at me with amazingly bright eyes and is still in love with me. For some reason he likes being married to a neurotic woman with an obsession for ketchup and oatmeal. Not together…separate. Anyways I digress, I really think I got the better end of the deal. He is definitely the best thing that has ever happened to me. Well, except at 5am when he sings random songs like “Highway to Hell” or “Baby Got Back”. (Really…we should have no singing rules until well after 8am, right? Right? or at LEAST after coffee!)

Gluten Free Carrot-Apple Muffins / Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

But honestly, anniversaries like this remind me that time is passing so quickly. I hope that I can breathe in as many details of my life and not take things for granted.  I want to laugh more and not take things so seriously. (Except the singing before 8am…I take that very seriously.)

For our anniversary, my husband got me a Vitamix (the ridiculously amazing and over-the-top blender that does everything that you ever imagined, including make creamy nut butter, process ice cream, puree smooooooth soups, grind fine flours, clean your house, complement your hair, and check your email). This blender is sheer madness!!!!  She’s like a personal assistant…that is also your best friend and doesn’t annoy you…ever.

Gluten Free Carrot-Apple Muffins / Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

What was one of the first things I did with my Vitamix? No smoothies. I made oat flour and then made carrot and apple muffins. Ya, you heard me…muffins. Real muffins, not smoothie muffins. Well…I didn’t bake the muffins in the Vitamix.  C’mon! Ridiculous. That’s the next version…the easy bake Vitamix.

I created these quick gluten-free carrot and apple muffins by placing chunks of carrots and apples in the bottom of the high-speed blender and slowly processing them until they were finely shredded. It took 15 seconds! SECONDS! And you save your fingers! This step could also be done in a food processor, or with a grater.  But it won’t take 15 seconds….maybe 1 minute more. Not bad at all.

The resulting muffins are moist and delicate. They are perfect for breakfast. You could even top them with a cream cheese frosting and serve them as cupcakes for dessert. I will definitely be turning this recipe into a cake soon. Especially since I can cut down the prep time with my blender!

Gluten Free Carrot-Apple Muffins / Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Needless to say, although I thought that these high-speed blenders were a bit over the top, I’m not complaining that this beauty is now sitting on my counter waiting for me to make my next magical concoction.

Gluten Free Carrot-Apple Muffins

  • Servings: 9
  • Difficulty: Medium
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Ingredients

  • 2 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 medium apples, cored and cut into eighths
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (or butter), melted
  • 1/3 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup oat flour (from ground gluten-free rolled oats)
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup walnut pieces

Instruction

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Place muffin liners in 9 cups of a muffin tin. Set aside.
  2. Place carrots and apples in the bowl of a food processor or high-speed blender. Process on low until carrot and apple are diced into fine pieces. Add eggs, maple syrup, coconut oil, greek yogurt, and vanilla to food processor or blender. Process or pulse until everything is well mixed.
  3. Place all dry ingredients (except walnuts) in a separate large bowl and whisk together.  Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients in the large bowl. Stir all together until just mixed and no dry ingredients remain. Stir in walnuts.
  4. Spoon about 1/4-cup portions into each muffin tin liner. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes at 350F, or until a toothpick comes out clean when stuck into the center of a muffin. Allow to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 3 days. May be frozen for up to 3 months.

Note – Recipe adapted from Edible Perspectives.

Cranberry, Ginger, and Maple Granola (Gluten Free)

Cranberry, Ginger, and Maple Granola (Gluten Free) / Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Granola is where it’s at people! I’m in deep smit with this stuff…. but first let me tell you about my week!

My life was relaxing and simple this past week. I spent four gloriously relaxing days in Boothbay Harbor, Maine with friends in a seaside house that my amazing friend Lisa rented. It’s her favorite happy place and I’m eternally grateful that she shared the experience.

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I would wake up to a crisp breeze and the smell of the ocean. I would meander downstairs to the side room where light poured in through the million windows that faced the ocean and side yard.  I relaxed with fresh coffee, cool air, and great company. Breakfast consisted of greek yogurt, fresh fruit, and a friend’s homemade granola. This was perfectly light and fresh and served as the perfect fuel for each day. Then we would begin our days with long and beautiful walks along the seaside, over the ocean-worn rocks, and through forested trails. We would end the days sitting on a seaside dock with cool breeze, fresh lobstahs, wine, and plenty of laughter. It was perfect.

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It’s ok to be jealous… I’m jealous of my memories. I want more of it. Four days wasn’t enough!

I was so thankful that my friend Susan brought her granola along to share! Everyone needs a great granola recipe in their pocket. It’s the perfect topping for yogurt and also a great portable snack to bring along hikes or…. to Maine! Never leave home without it. It should on the top of a list of the 10 essentials to bring on a trip….right up there with your compass. Am I right?

Cranberry, Ginger, and Maple Granola (Gluten Free) / Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

I decided to share my person granola recipe that I have tweaked and twisted around through the years. I really like adding as many goodies in my granola as possible.  From batch to batch, they taste different depending on what I have on hand in my cupboards.  This recipe is an adaptation of many many many recipes that I have used over the years. The main twist is that I use a trick from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, where an egg white is used to retain large clusters in the granola. The protein in the egg white are a great binding agent and cut down on the amount of oil needed.

Also, I like to kick up the nuts and seeds ratio and lower the amount of sweetener. Nuts and seeds increase the protein content of the granola which helps keep you satiated and controls blood sugar spikes. This recipe also only has 1/2 cup of sweetener.  I prefer to use maple syrup as the sweetener because it adds a great warming aroma and flavor to the granola, while being a 100%-natural sweetener.  You could also use honey or coconut palm sugar.

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And let’s NOT forget about the spices! Cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger and crystallized ginger are great additions, providing a warm punch of autumnal love to this healthy granola.  I added a handful of dried cranberries to the end mixture for great tart/sweet combo.  Dried cherries and/or dried apple chunks would also be great additions.

Cranberry, Ginger, and Maple Granola (Gluten Free) / Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

I love this granola in fist fulls or sprinkled on top of greek yogurt with fresh fruit or applesauce. I have also eaten it as homemade cereal.  It’s also an easy and quick dessert option sprinkled on baked fruit.

Cranberry, Ginger, and Maple Granola (Gluten Free)

  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

  • 3 cups gluten free rolled oats
  • 2 cups assorted nuts and seeds (I like a variation/mixture of different nuts and seeds such as pistachios, pumpkin seeds, slivered almonds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and walnuts)
  • 1/2 cup ground flax seed
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup diced candied ginger

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 275 F. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. Place all ingredients except egg white, cranberries, and candied ginger in a large bowl and mix well. Whisk the egg white in a separate small bowl until lightly frothy. Pour over granola and mix well.
  3. Spread out the granola mixture evenly onto prepared baking sheet. Place on middle rack in oven for 20 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven, lightly mix and try to not break up too many of the yummy granola clusters. Return to oven and bake an additional 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.  Mix in cranberries and candied ginger. Place in an airtight container and keep tasty for up to 3 weeks!

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
  • Print

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

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)

Bourbon Butter Pecan Ice Cream

Bourbon Butter Pecan // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Some days can go by without me noticing what the date actually is. But August 8th and August 9th never go by without me knowing. These dates creep up every year with a solemn presence to signify a defining moment.

Twenty six years ago, on 8/8/88, was the last day that my father was alive. As most dads do, he was a man that carved out a significant spot in my life despite being present for only 8 years of my life. I wanted to be just like him…loud, smart, athletic, intuitive, mechanical, reckless, thoughtful, artistic, funny, and tenacious.

This year, instead of focusing on his death, I want to celebrate his life. I want to celebrate his last day,  August 8th. I want to put a positive spin on these dates instead of remembering them morosely and feeling as though these dates also signify the death of my childhood.

Bourbon Butter Pecan // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Bourbon Butter Pecan // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Sorry to put a downer on today’s parade, but I’m hoping to bring it quickly up with an Ice Cream party. A BOURBON Butter Pecan Ice Cream Party to be exact. Butter pecan ice cream was my father’s favorite flavor. We would take long summer drives to the local Braum’s ice cream store in Oklahoma and share a butter pecan mix. This flavor gives me INSTANT childhood love and gratification.

So what better way to improve on any ice cream party than with BOOOZY ice cream. I think my dad would have approved of the boozy bourbon addition…in fact I KNOW he would have doubly approved. He probably would have even drizzled more on top like a bourbon float…hooooyah! Come and get it. So grab a spoon and dig in. Raise your ice cream goblets and glasses to THE man, Jimmy “James” “Jim” Hinman!

Cheers to you, Jimmy Hinman, and the brilliant and quick-burning roman candle life that you had. You touched so many lives in the short amount of time that you were alive. I’m jealous of those that knew you longer than I did, but thankful for the time that I did have.  You are missed every minute. 

Bourbon Butter Pecan // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Bourbon Butter Pecan Ice Cream

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Medium
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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 Tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast pecans for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Add butter and turn off heat. Stir until butter is melted and pecans are coated. Sprinkle salt over pecans. Remove buttered pecans to a plate and allow to cool. Once they are cooled, store pecans in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  2. Place a large sealable container in the freezer. The ice cream mixture will go in this container when it is ready.
  3. Combine cornstarch with a few tablespoons of milk in a medium to large bowl. Whisk together until the cornstarch is completely dissolved and there are no more clumps. Add the egg yolks and whisk mixture together. Set aside.
  4. Heat milk, cream, and maple syrup in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until mixture comes just to a boil. Remove saucepan from heat. Ladle a little bit of the milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly because you do not want to scramble the eggs. You are tempering the egg mixture. Add a few more ladles at a time of the milk mixture until the egg mixture is warmed and thoroughly combined. Now add the warmed egg mixture to the milk mixture in the sauce pan, whisking constantly for about 2 minutes. Do NOT allow to boil. The mixture will become thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (170 to 175°F ).
  5. Pour custard mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and stir in vanilla and bourbon to taste. Place syran wrap on the surface of the custard in the bowl and allow to cool in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
  6. After the mixture is completely cool, process it in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions until almost firm. Pour in the buttered pecans and allow to process in the ice cream maker for about 5 more minutes. Transfer the ice cream to the pre-frozen airtight container and store in the freezer. Prior to serving, remove from freezer and allow to sit at room temperature for at least 5 minutes.

Fresh and Easy Salsa

Fresh and Easy Salsa / Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Put me in front of a bowl of chips and salsa, and it would take the strength of ten mules on steroids to pull me away. I’m serious. Chips and salsa are my go to snack…

Not saying it’s a good thing. Just sayin that your hand maaaaaay get gnawed on if you go for a chip or scoop of salsa while I’m diving in. Seriously. I can’t stop this dipping train!

And now that tomatoes are so prevalent in my garden, it’s time to get this crazy SALSA train started!!!

Fresh and Easy Salsa / Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Fresh and Easy Salsa / Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

I used fresh roma tomatoes, but other varieties are juuuust fine. Plus, I’ll tell you a secret. This recipe can even be made in the winter with (gasp) canned tomatoes.  I have used some that I canned from my garden, but if you only have store-bought, go for the good kind! Muir Glen is my fave. The secret to this salsa is definitely good tomatoes AND lime juice.

I whip up my salsa using a food processor but if you love to chop chop chop, then feel free to dice away. I like to reserve my energy for diving head first into the salsa bowl. If you do end up chopping up the ingredients, your salsa will just be more chunky….which is what I’m going to be if I don’t get my face out of this bowl of chips and salsa soon!

Give me more!

Fresh and Easy Salsa / Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Fresh and Easy Salsa

  • Servings: 4 Cups
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 cups diced fresh tomatoes (about 15 roma tomatoes)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 jalapeños (chopped and seeds removed if you want mild salsa)
  • 1/4 bunch of cilantro
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)

Instructions

  1. Place tomatoes in bowl of food processor and pulse a few times until tomatoes are fine diced. Transfer tomatoes to a medium-sized bowl.
  2. Place chopped onion, garlic, jalapeños, cilantro, and lime juice to bowl of food processor. Pulse for 15 seconds or until everything is chopped fine. Transfer contents to the medium bowl with the tomatoes. Stir well and add salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Can be made ahead of time.