Picnic Perfect Herby Deviled Eggs

Picnic Perfect Herby Deviled Eggs / Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

I’m constantly looking for easier and more efficient ways to do things. Must be the engineer in me. Well today, I have an amazing genius picnic tip.

Use an egg carton to transport deviled eggs. Genius!

This weekend we had a tasty picnic with friends to celebrate the 4th of July. My hubby and I rode our bikes to the park and brought along some snacks, including deviled eggs. My solution to transport the deviled eggs was to use the egg carton as the perfect transport container.

I placed separate muffin liners in the carton to make these a less messy picnic dish. I also decided to use nearly the whole egg instead of cutting them in half. I cut the top third of the egg off and scooped out the yolk. The yolks were then mixed with greek yogurt (instead of mayo), herbs, salt, and Dijon mustard. I then scooped the yolk mixture into a baggy, cut off the edge, and pipetted the mixture into each egg white. Fancy pants picnic dish!

Picnic Perfect Herby Deviled Eggs / Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

I unfortunately do not have very many pictures of these puppies since I was running behind and had to rush to get these beauties loaded up in the egg carton and then head out on my bike to the picnic. But I will tell you that I will definitely be repeating this process for future deviled eggs that will be accompanying me to potlucks and picnics.

The only downside to this recipe is that deviled eggs go waaaay too fast. Womp Womp.

Herby Deviled Eggs (Grain Free, Gluten Free)

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 12 eggs
  • 1/3 cup greek yogurt
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon minced chives (some reserved to sprinkle on top)
  • 1 teaspoon minced parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Instructions

  1. Place eggs in a medium saucepan and add cold water until the eggs are covered by 1 inch of water. Bring to a rolling boil. Remove saucepan from heat, cover, and then let stand for 11 minutes. Drain the pot and run cod water over the boiled to cool them.
  2. Meanwhile, place remaining ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and mix together. Reserve some chives and parsley for sprinkling on top.
  3. Peel all of the eggs. To transport easily to a picnic, make whole deviled eggs by cutting off the top third of the egg. Remove yolks carefully with small spoon or butter knife, leaving the whites fully intact. Transfer yolks to bowl of food processor with greek yogurt mixture. Process until smooth.
  4. For easy picnic transport, line egg carton with individual muffin liners. Place intact egg whites into each separate muffin tin liner. Place egg yolk mixture into a sealable plastic back (like a ziplock). Cut the corner tip off of the bag for easy pipetting into each egg white. Sprinkle with remaining herbs. Place plastic wrap on top of filled eggs and refrigerate up to 8 hours.

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Creamy Polenta with Braised Kale and Poached Egg

Creamy Polenta with Crispy Kale and Poached Egg

Lately I have been cooking and posting a lot of my comfort food recipes. Hearty soul-warming french onion soup, curry (this one and this one), creamy tapioca, lemon pudding…mmmmm. These are foods that not only keep me cozy, but also nourish my tired and warn out mind and body.

They may not be the typical comfort food that most american’s have come to know and love. No mac n’ cheese. No cream o’ something soups dumped in a casserole. Sorry, no big fat cinnamon rolls are coming out of my oven (womp womp). No biscuits and gravy piled on my plate. Although, there are a few times that I miss some of those items, I feel better feeding myself and my family cozy winter comfort foods that are wholesome, full of nutrients to keep our immune systems up, and not laden with preservatives or packed with empty calories.

Lately I’ve been on a polenta kick.  Erhmergerd. It’s creamy. It’s sensational. It can be cheesy. It can be buttery. Hellooooo! And all it is is slow cooked stoneground cornmeal, water, and salt. You can add butter (yes) and cheese (OH YA) as options to kick it into winter overdrive.

Creamy Polenta with Crispy Kale and Poached Egg

You will need to spend a bit of time upfront cooking the polenta, like 40 minutes. But you can swirl it, let it bubble away, then put a lid on the dang pot while it boils away (stirring every 10 minutes) and then it’s done. The great thing about polenta is that any leftovers can be reheated with a little liquid to return to its creamy holiness OR it can be cut and baked into awesome polenta cutlets.

Polenta can be topped with a myriad of things: braised short ribs, sautéed mushrooms, or, my fave, a poached egg with braised kale. This dish is perfect for both brunch or dinner.  Bonus, make it for brunch one day, and leftovers can be reheated for dinner the next day. Win Win!

Notes: For a great tutorial on easy poached eggs, check this out.

Creamy Polenta with Crispy Kale and Poached Egg

Creamy Polenta with Crispy Kale and Poached Egg (gluten free)

Adapted from The Kitchn

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup coarse ground yellow cornmeal (or polenta, not quick cooking)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 bunch of kale, inner ribs removed and discarded, coarsely chop leaves (wash and dry)
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 4 poached eggs (I use this method)
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Place water in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a vigorous boil. Add salt and stir. While wishing the water gently, pour the cornmeal into the boiling water in a steady stream. Turn the heat down to low and continue to whisk the cornmeal/polenta until it has thickened.
  2. Cover the pot and continue to cook for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring vigorously every 10 minutes. Once it is finished, stir in butter and cheese. Place lid on pot and let sit for up to 10 to 15 minutes until ready to use.
  3. While cooking the polenta, place a separate sauté pan over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the kale and season with salt and pepper. Stir the kale lightly until it is slightly wilted. Stir in the vinegar, cover the pan, and turn the heat to high. Cook the kale over high heat until it is tender (about 5 minutes). Turn the heat off and set aside.
  4. Poach or fry eggs according to desired consistency. For a great poached egg, follow these directions.
  5. To serve, place 1/3 to 1/2 cup of creamy polenta in bottom of bowl, top with braised kale, and one poached egg. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Chili Verde Pork Stew (Paleo, Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

Chile Verde Pork Stew - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

So let’s say you over did it during the holidays. And if you DIDN’T over do it on the holidays…your will power astounds me…go eat some chocolate caramel doo dads and quite making the rest of us feel guilty. Gaaaaaaaah.

Whether you want to eat healthier, or spend more time with your family, or just take care of yourself and your family, this stew answers all of those resolutions. I’m serious!

Chile Verde Pork Stew - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

I currently have a massive crush on this Green Chili Verde Pork Stew. It’s dangerous. Dangerous to the point that I find myself preaching about this stew to my friends, my family, my husband, my dog, and then to people who don’t care like my eye doctor (she really should care) or my massage therapist (really, it’s THAT good) or even the kid that just stopped by my house to see if I wanted to have my driveway shoveled of the crap ton of snow that is lingering, but then I become the creepy old lady that says “oh honey it’s so cold out there, maybe you just need this green soup”. Someone help me! Poor kid.

So it’s green (green things are healthy, right) and easy (more time to do other things like stalk pinterest). The pics may not look like much, but I’m telling you that this little stew packs a memorable and heart warming goodness that you will not want to pass up. Tomatillos and hatch chiles gives this stew a tangy and slightly spicy flavor that gets better with every bite.  I used canned chiles and a jar of tomatillo salsa verde. But if you wanted to be even more adventurous, you could use both fresh roasted hatch chiles and fresh roasted tomatillos *cough* (overachiever) *cough*.

Chile Verde Pork Stew - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

I had a 3 pound pork roast from a local farmer that I needed to use. I’m sure you could also use a pork shoulder or boston butt instead. I prepared this in my dutch oven, but I am quite positive that it would also work in the slow cooker. Either way, the slow cooked pork roast is so fork tender and delicious that it will make you want to inhale the whole pot. But wait…and share it with others. Spread the love. I served this amazing stew for Christmas Eve for weary family as they arrived at our house after a long days drive.  It’s the type of meal that can bubble away for hours until you want to serve it. It can also be made ahead of time and reheated when you want to serve it.

Chile Verde Pork Stew - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Chili Verde Pork Stew

Serves 8 to 10

Adapted from Simply Recipes

Ingredients

  • 3 lb pork roast (or pork shoulder or boston butt), trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 4 oz cans of mild green hatch chiles
  • 1 16 oz jar of mild salsa verde (tomatillo salsa)
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 bunch of cilantro leaves, cleaned and chopped (reserve about ¼ cup for topping the stew)
  • 4 cups of chicken stock

Instructions

  1. Season the pork with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a large dutch oven over medium high heat. Brown the pork chunks by placing small batches of the pork into the heated dutch oven. Allow to brown on all sides. Lift the pork out of the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Drain all but 1 tablespoon of fat from dutch oven. Add onion to dutch oven and cook over medium heat until onions become translucent and browned, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Add pork and remaining ingredients to pot. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a slight simmer. Cook for 2 to 3 hours, or until the pork is fork tender. Remove bay leaves.  Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve with reserved chopped cilantro.

Notes – I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m quite positive that this also could be prepared in a slow cooker.  Brown the pork before placing it into the crockpot. Add all other ingredients on top of the browned pork. Cook on low for at least 8 hours.

Happy New Year and Lucky Hoppin John

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Black eyed peas are a traditional southern dish that are eaten for good luck for the new year. Every year since we have moved to KC, I have made a huge cauldron of Hoppin John: a spicy, smoky black eyed pea stew-ish thing. Stew-ish things are so creamy and comforting. And while I lounge all day in stretchy pants, this black eyed pea stew just simmers away and brings a soul-warming smell to every corner of my home. You could easily throw everything into a crockpot as well and let it cook, cook, cook away while you get to be as lazy as you want.

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As this lucky black eyed pea stew simmers away, it gives me time to reflect at how lucky I am. Maybe it’s all the black eyed peas that I have consumed over the years, or maybe I have just been blessed to be surrounded by amazing people.

It is very rare to find true friendships in life, much less multiple times.  I have been so blessed to have met a several strong and amazing women in my life. Women that I look up to and that give me the strength to move on during incredibly hard times in life. Women that I consider my sisters. Days, weeks, months may go by that we don’t speak, but as soon as we do, it’s as if no time has passed at all. These are friends and moments that make life amazing. We have share hugs and tears that cure heart aches, provide hope for the future, and heal wounds. I cherish these times.

I am the lucky one to be a part of your life. I love you.

Cheers to hope and love and what may come in 2014.

Hoppin John

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, small diced
  • 1 red or green bell pepper, small diced
  • 3 ribs of celery, small diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 pound black-eyed peas (if dried you will need to soak overnight in 6 to 8 cups of water; if fresh, add them straight to the pot)
  • 1 smoked ham hock or ham bone
  • 1 cup of leftover ham (if you were lucky to wrangle some from your family from Christmas ham or other dinner)
  • 1 quart of water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon cajun or blackened seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large Dutch oven or kettle, heat oil and add the ham hock and sear on all sides. Ad the onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic and cook for 4 minutes. Add the soaked black-eyed peas, stock, bay leaf, and thyme.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer gently for 40 minutes to an hour. If you don’t soak the beans overnight, you can add unsoaked beans to the pot but will need to cook for 2 to 3 hours.  Peas will be creamy and tender. If liquid evaporates, add more water or stock.
  3. Remove the ham hock bone and cut off the meat. I usually add leftover ham from the holidays that I freeze.
  4. Remove and discard the bay leaf.
  5. Using the back of a wooden spoon, mash some of the peas against the side of the pot until the stewed peas have some body (slightly thick). Add the cayenne, salt, and pepper to taste. I like to top this with tabasco and green onions. Serve over brown rice or cauliflower rice

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.

Creamy Pesto Spaghetti Squash with Chicken and Mushrooms (Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Paleo)

Creamy Pesto Spaghetti Squash with Chicken and Mushrooms - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen (Gluten Free, Paleo, Dairy Free)

I’m just going to say it. I really think pasta is SO over rated. Ya! I said it. There.

Is this just me?

When I gave up wheat and gluten over a year and a half ago, a lot of people said “but what about pasta? and bread?” Sure I miss bread, but pasta? Really? I just don’t get it. Unless you slather pasta in cheese or pesto or marinara sauce, it tastes like NOTHING. Think about it. What you really like is the sauce. Right? I’m a huuuuge sauce fan. The french were really onto something there. I could write a novel about my love for amazing sauces, dipping sauces, marinara sauces, cheesy goodness sauces, peanut sauces, mushroom sauces…mmmmmm. The list goes on! But there is no list of noodles. Bleh.

Creamy Pesto Spaghetti Squash with Chicken and Mushrooms - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen (Gluten Free, Paleo, Dairy Free)

Basically, all I need is something to put my sauce on…besides just a spoon.

There are a few awesome and wholesome ways to get your sauciness on without relying on the bland noodle man. Break free from those noodle chains!

Creamy Pesto Spaghetti Squash with Chicken and Mushrooms - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen (Gluten Free, Paleo, Dairy Free)

Creamy Pesto Spaghetti Squash with Chicken and Mushrooms - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen (Gluten Free, Paleo, Dairy Free)

Today we are going to celebrate a little forgotten winter squash…Miss Spaghetti Squash. I don’t think she gets enough props. She works really hard and creates amazing vegetable noodle-like goodness that can be used sooooo many ways. Numero uno is that she is an amazing base for all your SAUCE love. I love that nature has created this amazing and beautiful vegetable that when cooked, the meat of the squash pulls away like noodles. But better. Because there are nutrients in them. NUTRIENTS. VITAMINS. Ya, these may not be the sexiest things, but they are real. And your body will love you for it and give you sexy thighs. Dudes and gals both. These nutrients are sexist. They benefit all.

Creamy Pesto Spaghetti Squash with Chicken and Mushrooms - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen (Gluten Free, Paleo, Dairy Free)

There are a few ways to cook the spaghetti squash. First you can always cut it in half, deseed it, and place it in an oven (cut side down) in a pyrex pan with about an inch of water and let it roast for about 30 to 45 minutes. Another way (and my preferred quick method) is to place the WHOLE squash onto a plate and microwave on high for 10 to 12 minutes (depending on the size of your squash). Remove carefully from the microwave and let it sit until you can handle it and cut it in half. Removing the seeds from method two is a bit more tedious because some of the cooked squash strands tend to hold on to the seeds and come out with it. But method two takes less than half the time of method one, so I prefer it. Do whichever floats your boat. The squash strands easily peel out with a fork and then can be added to whatever dish you choose. You can also put them directly into bowls with some salt and pepper and spoon your desired sauce over them.

Without further delay…drum roll please.

Let’s get SAUCY!

Creamy Pesto Spaghetti Squash with Chicken and Mushrooms - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen
Creamy Pesto Spaghetti Squash with Chicken and Mushrooms – Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

The possibilities are endless now.  I have used spaghetti squash as a base for pad thai and for marinara, but lately I have been craving something more comfy and creamy. I came up with this dairy-free pesto sauce that uses cashew cream as the base. The raw cashews should be soaked for at least 30 minutes in hot water. You will need either a high-speed blender or good food processor to puree the cashews and water into a creamy sauce. Fresh basil and garlic lend an amazing fresh flavor to the creamy base.  I prefer to use either shredded leftover chicken or sautéed chicken sausage, but it can be left out for a vegetarian or vegan meal. Mushrooms add a great meaty texture to the dish too. I have also used sun dried tomatoes and roasted garlic.

This is a pretty quick one pot meal that has quickly been added to the favorites list in our house. I hope you and your thighs enjoy it. 🙂

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Creamy Pesto Spaghetti Squash with Chicken and Mushrooms (Grain Free, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Paleo-Friendly)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 cups of fresh basil (additional basil for topping)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 2 chicken sausage links (sliced) or 1 chicken breast diced and cooked (I used trader joe’s pesto chicken and turkey sausage)

Instructions

  1. Soak cashews in 1 cup of hot water for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Place whole spaghetti squash on a dinner plate in the microwave. Microwave for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from microwave and allow to sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Be careful, this puppy will be HOT. Cut in half and remove seeds carefully. After seeds have been discarded, use a fork to separate out the spaghetti-like strands.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are tender and begin to brown (6 to 8 minutes). Add chicken sausage slices or cooked chicken and warm through. Add spaghetti squash and stir to combine. Lower heat and allow to cook, stirring occasionally.
  4. Meanwhile for the creamy pesto, in the bowl of a food processor (or high speed blender), add soaked cashews and half of soaking liquid. Process on high and blend everything together until mixture is smooth and creamy. Add basil, salt, and red pepper flakes. Blend everything together. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add more water or olive oil to thin to your desired consistency.
  5. Add creamy cashew pesto sauce to the large skillet with the spaghetti squash mixture. Stir until the squash mixture is coated evenly. Serve with additional slivered basil on top.

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 Roasted Banana Creamsicles

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In April, winter would not let go. We had two massive snow storms that dumped over 15 inches of snow each.  And now, it is nearing mid September and summer is being just as pesky and stubborn as winter. We have had the hottest days ALL summer this week with temps breaking triple digits. Really? Why can’t spring or fall be stubborn? Get feisty, fall! Take over…strong arm summer! Who’s the Boss? Not Tony Danza…It’s you, fall. Come ON!

*Stomp* *Stomp* I want to wear sweaters, eat chili, watch football!

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But alas…the heat persists. No rain. Just muggy and sweaty and sticky and mosquito heaven. Fine. SO instead of chili, I will settle for POPSICLES! And I suggest you do the same. Popsicles are really the best sweet treat there is because they are cheap, portable, kid-friendly, and healthy. The other thing I dig about popsicles is that they have built-in portion control.

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These popsicles are really swoon-worthy. I highly recommend roasting your bananas. It offers a whole new level and depth of bananananana-ness. Roasting bananas also is a great way to get under ripe bananas über sweet. They can either be roasted in an oven for 15 minutes or can be placed directly over an open gas flame (as shown above). There is no added sweetener in the popsicles because the roasted bananas take on a luscious caramelized flavor.  If you want much sweeter popsicles, you can add 1 tablespoon of honey. For the “cream” part of the creamsicles, I used light coconut milk to make it dairy free. You could also sub any dairy or nondairy milk instead.

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So cheers to the (hopefully) last days of summer. Tip your cups and popsicles and remember this sweaty weather when winter hits in a few months.

Note – I purchased my popsicle molds from World Market, but there are several BPA-free brands offered on amazon as well. Here is a great article on the Kitchn about top popsicle molds. If you do not have molds, have no fear. You can easily make popsicles with plastic cups and wooden popsicle sticks, as shown here

Paleo Roasted Banana Creamsicles

Ingredients

  • 3 bananas
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. There are a few ways to roast bananas. (1) Place whole and unpeeled bananas on a foil lined roasting pan. Roast in a 350 F oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. OR (2) Place whole and unpeeled banana directly on a gas flame of your oven. Use tongs to turn and blacken the banana evenly. This will take about 5 minutes per banana.
  2. Peel bananas and place them in a medium bowl. Mash bananas thoroughly with a potato masher or place in a blender and puree. Stir in coconut milk, salt, and vanilla.
  3. Pour banana mixture into popsicle molds leaving 1/4-inch before the top to leave room for expansion.  For popsicle molds that contain bases with sticks or hold wooden sticks in place, snap on popsicle base and freeze until solid, about 4 to 5 hours. If you do not have popsicle mods, glasses or open paper cups can be used. For these types, pour popsicle mixture into the glasses or open cups and freeze until the popsicle is beginning to set (about 1 1/2 to 2 hours). Then insert wooden sticks and freeze until fully solid (another 3 to 4 hours).

Rosemary Almond Flour Tart Crust

I’m on a mission to take life slower. Sometimes things move so quickly that I get caught up in trying to get everything done perfectly and on time and I miss the important things that are going on around me. I forget to breathe. I forget the basics. I focus on the wrong things.

This weekend I decided to slow down, to be present, to breathe.

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Hang my clothes out on the line.

Read a book.

Spend meaningful time with dear friends.

Eat butter pecan ice cream and remember my father.

Remember the basics.

Hold my husband’s hand.

Eat simply. And simply eat.

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Bake something wholesome…. like a savory tart, which is where this basic tart crust came into my life this weekend. Everyone should have a basic pie crust and tart crust recipe up their sleeves. And bonus for the gluten and grain free gang, almond flour makes a wonderful flaky and light crust.

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This basic tart crust is based on a fabulous recipe from the Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook by Elana Amsterdam. (Which is a great book for those who are breaking into the world of almond flour baking.) This basic tart crust recipes is easily adaptable to go to the savory side or the sweet side. Currently my fave way to serve this tart crust is by adding fresh herbs from the garden and filling it with eggs and heirloom tomatoes. Simple. Done. And leftovers will be breakfast for the upcoming week! Man, I’m liking this simple life.

For other savory fillings, you could use this crust for a quiche crust or as an open pot pie crust! However, if going sweet, eliminate the black pepper and rosemary and add a tablespoon of honey. This would be simply great filled with lemon curd. Mmmm.

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Rosemary Almond Flour Tart Crust (Adapted from Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook)

Makes 1 9-inch tart crust

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour (I use Honeyville)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons fresh chopped rosemary
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper (optional)
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil (or butter), softened
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons cold water

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly butter or oil a 9-inch tart pan and set aside.
  2. Place the dry ingredients into a medium bowl and combine with a wire whisk.   Add softened coconut oil and mix with a spoon until combined. Add in the ice water, starting with just 1 tablespoon. Combine with your hands until the mixture begins to hold together. If the dough is not holding together, add a second tablespoon of cold water. Press into a ball. If making ahead, you can cover the ball of dough in plastic wrap at this stage and place in the fridge for a few hours until you are ready to bake it.
  3. Place the dough ball into the prepared tart pan. Starting from the center of the dough, press into the tart pan evenly working your way out to the sides. Press the dough up the sides evenly. Pierce the bottom of the crust with a fork a few times.
  4. If making a tart crust that will be cooked after it is filled, then you will want to partially bake the crust. However, if you are filling the tart with something that will not bake after it is filled, then you will need to fully bake this crust.  Place the tart crust in a preheated 350 F oven and either partially bake for 15 minutes or fully bake for 30 minutes or until the tart is lightly golden brown.
  5. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 5 to 10 minutes before filling.

Strawberry and Cucumber Ribbon Salad

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My husband pulled the trigger this week. Four years of waffling on my end.  But he just woke up one morning this week and decided it was time. He jumped in and started pulling up the 85 layers of laminate and tile and fiber board that covered our kitchen floors. Good thing he stopped just before hitting the asbestos tile. What a man!

He sent me pictures of the destruction while I was at work. Needless to say I was shocked. And then kind of excited. But then it hit me…

“Wait… You JUST did this???? Are you kidding??? No stove? No fridge? No floor?  Is that asbestos? Are you dying? Is that a respirator? Are you drinking water???? Don’t eat the floor! Don’t die on me.”

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I guess this means I’m GETTING A FLOOR!

What do you eat when you don’t have a kitchen and your garden is going gangbusters with cucumbers? Cucumber salad!

Let’s get fancy….cucumber ribbon salad! Oooooh gurrrrl!  Ya, I did it. I used a vegetable peeler for something besides collecting dust in my kitchen utensil crap drawer. Boom!

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I also threw some fresh strawberries, basil, mint, and feta into the mix. Personally, I think the fresh herbs and feta really bring this dish together. I also drizzled a little bit of good balsamic vinegar on top. This has been my go to lunch of choice this week. Summer in a bowl!

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This also is a perfect picnic salad! Because I’m basically picnicking every meal until our kitchen floor installation is complete.

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Strawberry and Cucumber Ribbon Salad

Makes 4 side salads or 2 large salads

Ingredients

  • 2 medium cucumbers
  • 1/2 cup sliced strawberries
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons crumbled feta
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons fresh mint and/or basil, slivered
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Instructions

  1. Using a vegetable peeler or or mandolin slicer, cut the cucumber lengthwise into long thin ribbons. Stop before you get to the seeds.
  2. Place cucumber ribbons in a bowl with sliced strawberries, crumbled feta, basil, and mint. Drizzle with good balsamic vinegar when ready to serve.