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.
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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.

Almond Butter Banana Muffins

I am a bit of a hoarder.  I’m definitely a food hoarder, but also a hoarder of things. My husband thinks it is junk.  Which it isn’t! But seriously, I keep things in boxes that I have never looked at for the past four years that we have lived here.  I find myself holding on to things because… “don’t you dare get rid of it because I am saving that chair just in case some day I want to paint it red and have a tea party”. Yes…that really came out of my mouth.

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He recently decided to have a garage sale…or an “Alissa’s Things Sale” as I refer to it. He doesn’t hold on to anything. When we got married, he moved into my house with a single box. I had a U-Haul trailer that could have fit a plane. So needless to say, purging is a hard thing for me. I remember every gift someone gave to me. I can’t seem to part with it even if that person totally does not remember giving it to me. They probably just picked it up randomly and thought “crap, it’s her birthday…uhm…ya, here’s a chicken tea pot…she eats chicken…she drinks tea…CHICKEN TEA POT!”.  And here I am 15 years later with the ugliest tea pot and refusing to get rid of it. Until one day I wake up and the love of my life is selling all of my precious belongings (crap) and other people are walking away with my chicken tea pot!  *sob*

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It was a similar feeling for me when I made the switch a year ago to give up gluten. Making the switch to being gluten free can be tough sometimes. It’s hard to not feel like an outsider when everyone is laughing and enjoying cake and big plates of lasagna. Family gatherings and cookouts and office parties offer a plethora of pasta salads and cupcakes and brownies and bread and crackers.  I would end up being the person in the corner snacking on carrots and a bag of nuts that I had stashed away in my purse like a squirrel.  BECAUSE I AM A HOARDER.

One day I decided to PURGE! I threw away everything that contained wheat or even traces of wheat.  It felt awesome.  I began researching and arming myself with easy recipes to bring to gatherings. So now I always offer to bring something that I know that I can eat and that will blow the socks off of others that have no idea how great gluten free food can be.

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This recipe uses nut butter in place of flour! No flour, no oil, no butter.  Basically it is just almond butter and bananas and honey and eggs. Those purged cabinets probably have these simple ingredients in them.  These muffins are rediculously good and rediculously easy!  I have made them with almond butter and also with peanut butter. Both are fabulous.  You can also add cocoa powder to the batter for chocolate cupcakes!

Almond Butter Banana Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond butter* (see note below)
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare a 12 cup muffin tin with muffin liners. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the banana, eggs, and almond butter until well mixed. Add the remaining ingredients except the cocoa powder. With half of the batter, fill 6 muffin liners 3/4 full. I use a 1/4 cup to measure for each. With the remaining muffin batter, add the cocoa powder. Fill the remaining 6 muffin cups to 3/4 full with the chocolate batter.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes at 350F. Muffins will be firm a slightly golden, but fluffy. Allow to cool for 10 minutes then remove from the muffin pan to a wire rack.

*Notes

  1. I have also made these with peanut butter and they were great. I assume other nut butters would work too. If you have a nut allergy, sunbutter (sunflower seed butter) would be a good substitute.
  2. I recommend all natural and unsweetened nut butters. However, if you aren’t using all natural nut butters (that is, if they have added sweeteners) then lower the overall amount of added honey in the recipe.
  3. These are also delicious as cupcakes!

Beef Curry with Sweet Potatoes and Cauliflower

There are several people who have had a huge hand in transforming the way I cook and approach food. Michael Pollan has definitely had a hefty part in it.  That is why I was so excited to finally hear him speak this weekend about his new book, Cooked.  He is one of the leading voices of the local food movement, eating “real” food, and getting back into the kitchen and cooking with your family. I love it.

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Before we left Oklahoma and moved to Kansas City, I thought I ate rather healthy. But I was still consuming a lot of processed food.  I think a lot of people think this way, even when they still eat a lot of processed foods because the box saaaaays it’s healthy. Right? and why would a box or advertising lie to me? right? bonjour? But despite cooking “healthy”, I was getting sicker and sicker every day, literally.  Everything I ate seemed to put my stomach into knots or stabbing pain or worse. I began an elimination diet. I came up with a new theory every day. At first I thought it was fatty meat…no meat! Then it was beans.. no beans! then it was dairy…. so I became vegan…. and by the end, I seriously was eating only oatmeal and sweet potatoes for months….MONTHS. 

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And then I read Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food. At the same time, my cousin Sarah gave me an amazing book by Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Vegetable Miracle. Reading these books were like discovering a deodorant that finally works, or finding the perfect pair of jeans, or realizing that you left ten bucks in your coat pocket last winter!  If you are looking for a summer read, I recommend these books. Life…changed.

I immediately eliminated all processed foods. I was on a hunt for local sources of meat and produce.  Everything changed…for the better. My health improved. My relationship with food was so much better. I discovered vegetables I had never heard of…what the crap is celeriac???? I grew a garden (helloooo rhubarb), learned to can, make pickles, and preserve food anyway possible. I basically got in touch with my inner grandma. I love it.  My inner grandma loves it. My tummy loves it.

DSC_0015Sweet_potatoes

Fresh produce doesn’t always require a lot of spices because their natural flavor is enough. However, during this odd time between winter and spring, fresh produce includes greens, or peas, or tubers, or something that was canned from last year’s garden.  Don’t be afraid by the long list of ingredients in this curry recipe. I promise this meal comes together rather quickly and yields an amazingly fresh and flavorful meal.  Serve with rice or, for a grain free option, make ‘riced’ cauliflower (recipe below).

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Beef Curry with Sweet Potatoes and Cauliflower (adapted from Food & Wine, January 2012)

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 lb grass-fed sirloin steak, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions, about 1 cup diced
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons madras curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 14 0z can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 14 oz can unsweetened coconut milk (light okay)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water or broth
  • 1 medium sweet potato, 1-inch dice
  • 1 head of cauliflower, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces*
  • 1 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • cilantro (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat coconut oil in dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add diced sirloin steak and brown the pieces on all sides, about 5 minutes. 
  2. Add onion, curry powder, turmeric, ginger, and salt and stir frequently until onion is softened (about 5 minutes). Add garlic and stir constantly and cook for an additional minute.
  3. Add canned tomatoes, coconut milk, apple cider vinegar, water, diced sweet potatoes, and half of the diced cauliflower. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to moderate heat and continue cooking covered until potato and cauliflower are tender (about 15 minutes).
  4. Turn heat to low. Mash some of the potatoes with the back of a spoon.
  5. Stir in frozen peas. Turn heat off and place lid on dutch oven, allowing peas to cook through for a few minutes. Add additional salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste.
  6. Serve in bowls with chopped cilantro and riced cauliflower (or regular rice). Directions for riced cauliflower are provided below.

*Riced Cauliflower – Place the other half of the diced cauliflower into the bowl of the food processor. Pulse for a few seconds at a time until you get rice-sized pieces. Do not over process or it will become puree cauliflower.  Place in a microwaved-safe dish with a lid slightly ajar and microwave for 3 minutes. Stir.

Mexican Chicken and Lime Soup

I came down with a horrendous cold last week. My head felt like it was in a vice grip.  Thinking about going on a walk made me too tired.  So all I did was lay on the couch, become a Pinterest addict, and watch guilty pleasures including Downton Abbey, Wes Anderson movies, Lady and the Tramp, and, of course, Varsity Blues.

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The two things I wanted to eat were tapioca pudding (a childhood comfort food) and chicken soup…warm brothy chicken soup.  I didn’t get the tapioca (boooh) but I did get chicken soup. I found this Mexican Lime Soup on Pinterest. This amazing brothy and spicy soup hit the spot. 

Note – Be sure to use fresh limes to obtain the 1/4 cup of lime juice. Oh and serve with a fresh avocado. Game changer! I can also see this easily being compiled into a slow cooker and cooked all day.  DSC_0227

Mexican Chicken and Lime Soup (Gluten Free, Grain Free, Dairy Free, Paleo-Friendly, Whole30 Compliant) (slightly adapted from Williams Sonoma)

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 4 limes juiced to yield 1/4 cup lime juice, extra slices for serving
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 to 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
  • 3 cups low sodium organic chicken broth (homemade is best)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 lb boneless chicken breasts and/or thighs
  • 1 teaspoon dried mexican oregano
  • 1/3 cup diced cilantro
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large heavy pot or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic, red bell pepper, and jalapeño and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently.  
  2. Add broth, water, oregano, and lime juice and bring to a full boil. Add chicken. Bring back to a boil, lower heat to medium-low and cover. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink.
  3. Remove cooked chicken from pot with tongs and place on a cutting board. Shred into pieces with two forks. Add the shredded chicken back to pot. Turn off heat and add fresh chopped cilantro. Serve soup with diced avocado, fresh cilantro, and sliced limes.