Best Recipes of 2014

You guys all have a sweet tooth, you know that? I went to look up my Top Ten Recipes of 2014 and was floored by the fact that of the 10 most-viewed recipes, seven were desserts.

Not that I am complaining, by any means. If you are like me, you’re always looking for sweets with less guilt. Without further ado, I bring you — the most-viewed recipes of 2014!

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Grasshopper Bars

These little Paleo beauties combined avocado, coconut and dark chocolate for a festive bar that tastes like spring. They also just so happen to be vegan (if you use maple syrup and not honey).

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Prune Spice Cake

This one stunned me. Prune cake, you guys? But I bet you loved the spicy, dense cake with the date caramel frosting. Paleo, gluten-free and grain-free.

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Greek Zoodle Salad

This one is also Paleo, vegan and gluten-free! Though, um, if you are not Paleo, I suggest putting a little feta on it. I replaced the pasta in Greek pasta salad with zucchini noodles, boosting your veggie quotient. You are welcome

Mulligatawny

Credit for this one goes to Michelle Tam of Nom Nom Paleo. I think it’s delicious, and you guys must have agreed!

Secret Brownies

Gluten-free brownies that are almost Paleo — most of the sugar is replaced with prunes and apple juice. Shhhh.

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Homemade Fig Newtons

Dare I say it? These are almost better than those that come from the store. Paleo, vegan and gluten-free.

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Fig Butter

Inspired by a trip to Trader Joe’s, this fig butter is the reason I made the Fig Newtons in the first place. Yum yum yum.

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Bee Sting Bars

I love these so much, and I’m glad you liked them, too! Honey and almonds spread over a Paleo, gluten-free shortbread.

The Best Gluten-Free Brownies

Oh yeah. My favorite brownie recipe ever, made gluten-free. Enjoy!

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Kale with Balsamic and Bacon

Thank you all for overlooking that terrible, terrible photo and pressing on to enjoy the deliciousness that is kale sauteed with bacon, mushrooms and balsamic vinegar.

Brussels Sprout Chips (paleo, vegan, gluten-free)

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I hate throwing away perfectly good food. Usually, my vegetable ends get saved for stock or I feed them to the dog (who prefers sweet potatoes and carrots to parsnips and spinach). But there are only so many Brussels sprout trimmings I feel good about feeding her…and I eat a lot of Brussels Sprouts.

Again, Michelle Tam at Nom Nom Paleo comes to the rescue with a recipe for Brussels sprout chips. You know how if you grill or roast Brussels sprouts, the inside gets all tender while the outside gets caramelized and crispy? Imagine a plate full of just the crispy bits, and you’re heading in the right direction. Continue reading

Bone Broth (paleo, gluten-free)

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(Edited for photos Feb. 2, 2014. You’ll note I made the broth a little differently this time — I used 1 pound of oxtails, 1 pound of beef bones and leftover red onion and white onion I had in the fridge. I also simmered it for a total of 18 hours. By the time I was done, there wasn’t much left of the bones.)

Bone broth is like the Zen koan of food. Clear, but full of flavor; goes down like water, but is incredibly nourishing; takes a long time, but is incredibly easy.

I use this in every recipe that calls for stock, now that I have found the recipe in the Nom Nom Paleo Cookbook. I was looking for an easy weekend cooking project, and after an awful experience with store-bought broth that ruined an entire gumbo, I knew I needed to begin making my own stock.

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Salad Lyonnaise

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Sometimes, when I eat alone, I use it as an excuse to put little to no effort into what I’m putting in my mouth. Almond butter and a firm, juicy apple. A date stuffed with an almond and popped like a movie theater snack.

Other times, cooking for a single person is freeing. It’s just me in the kitchen making this salad Lyonnaise, carefully slipping a raw egg into a pot of almost-boiling water and praying it poaches properly. The egg didn’t turn out — the water needed to be energetically boiling — but it’s okay. I can try again.

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Holiday Truffles

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Merry Christmas, everyone! Whichever holiday you celebrate, I hope you’re filled with comfort and joy and the love of family this week.

Speaking of feeling warm inside, I wanted to make a holiday treat this year that was pretty much accessible to everyone, no matter what their dietary needs. Paleo brownies are great, but usually require a palate that isn’t used to a lot of refined sugar; my grain-free ginger cookies tasted too much like almond flour to truly be delicious; my all-time favorite Austrian Nut Butter Sandwich Cookies, as made by my mother, are full of everything that is both delicious and tummyache-inducing.

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Beet Greens with Raisins and Pine Nuts (paleo, gluten-free)

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You know how I promised to give you a recipe for beet greens? Consider that promise fulfilled.

I have a lot of trouble experimenting with greens of any sort. I tend to find something I like and stick with it, which means a lot of salad. Kale salad. Spring mix with craisins and almonds. Baby spinach with lemon juice, garlic and (in more dairy-friendly times) a ton of Parmesan cheese. Sometimes kale sauteed with bacon, mushrooms, onions and balsamic vinegar — which is another recipe for another time.

But I found myself staring at a bunch of beet greens the other day, unable to bring myself to throw them away. They were so pretty, with the pink stems and bright green leaves, and they looked so healthy and vibrant that I had to come up with something.

Michelle Tam has an excellent recipe for Swiss Chard with Pine Nuts that I’d tried before with a pretty high degree of success, and that I thought I could adapt to work with the greens. Beet greens don’t seem to have a lot of flavor — maybe a little savory bitterness, but otherwise, I figured they would be the perfect foil for the raisins, pine nuts and salty prosciutto in this dish.

I had to resurrect some of the slightly-wilted greens, but it was well worth it for how well this dish turned out. The garlic and lemon added sharp, clear notes and dimension to this dish, while the raisins added a touch of sweetness. The bitterness of the kale I’d added to fill out the greens became a complement, not a detriment.

And the crispy prosciutto was just beyond ridiculous. You might want to make extra just to snack on…or to share with the dog, who will be staring at you with big eyes the second you pull those luscious slices of pork (sorry, pigs) out of the oven.

Beet Greens with Kale, Raisins and Pine Nuts
Ingredients
  • 3 slices prosciutto
  • Greens from 2 bunches of beets
  • 1/2 cup kale, de-stemmed
  • 2 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. First things first: make the crispy prosciutto. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake prosciutto on a foil-lined cookie sheet for about ten minutes. Remove from oven and place prosciutto slices on a wire rack to cool and crisp up.
  2. Remove stems from beet greens. Chop stems, and slice the greens themselves into ribbons by stacking them, rolling them, and slicing perpendicularly along the roll. Cut kale to ribbons in the same way, but discard the stems.
  3. Put raisins in a small bowl and cover with hot water. Allow to soak while everything else is going on.
  4. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Toss in pine nuts and let toast until browning, two to three minutes. Remove to a plate to cool.
  5. Add oil to the pan and heat over medium-high heat. Add beet green stems and cook until tender. Add garlic and saute until fragrant.
  6. Add greens and kale to the pan with a sprinkle of salt. Cover, and allow to steam until greens are wilted but still bright green.
  7. Remove from heat. Toss in pine nuts, raisins and lemon juice and combine. Serve with crispy prosciutto crumbled on top.
Adapted from Nom Nom Paleo

Mango-Avocado Salsa

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I never thought I liked mangos. Turns out, I’d never had a ripe one.

When I found three of them hiding out in my Bountiful Baskets co-op basket a few weeks ago, I was disappointed, wondering what I was going to do with this fruit that was hard to slice, hard to peel and tasted kind of like old perfume. So I threw the fruit into a bowl on the counter and forgot about them until a few days later, when I squeezed them gently and realized I probably should do something with them.  Continue reading