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Adventures in Paleo Caking Making

My sister requested a 6 layer cake with strawberry jam and chocolate frosting for her birthday. Oh and it couldn’t be made with sugar or dairy or flour. The first cake I made was a disaster.

A HUGE disaster. As you can clearly see. I discovered at this point, that I needed to replenish my stock of parchment paper, which I did immediately. This helped the baking process go much more smoothly. So here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 cup of coconut oil
  • 12 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of light coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • scant 1 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Melt the coconut oil. You can do this in the microwave (easy) or in the oven that’s preheating (pain in the butt). Combine the eggs, coconut milk, honey and vanilla together in a large bowl. Combine the coconut flour, baking powder and salt in another bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until combined. I used my KitchenAid for this since I found that coconut flour sort of clumps up when it hits the wet ingredients. Once combined, add the coconut oil that you melted.

You can use any size cake pan. This will make 4 thin 9-inch round cakes or 2 regular sized 9-inch round cakes or 1 really large 9X13 rectangle cake. It’s up to you. Just cut parchment paper to fit the bottom of whatever sized pan you’re using. This is a MUST. No amount of oil will keep this cake from sticking. Bake for 20 – 40 minutes (depending on cake size – less time for thin cake, more time for thicker cake).

Cool on wire racks. Once cooled entirely, spread a thin layer of strawberry jam in the middle. I found an awesome jam at Whole Foods that contained strawberries and apple juice only (not sweetened with sugar, I did my research). To make the frosting you’ll need:

  • 1 cup of dark chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup of coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

Melt the chocolate and the coconut oil together. Stir in the vanilla extract. Pop into the fridge for 15 – 30 minutes until it firms up, then using a hand mixer, whip it. This does come together like frosting, so please be aware that if it’s soupy, just pop it back into the fridge for another  5 – 10 minutes. Have patience.

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Cinnamon Rolls

I went through an obsession where I wanted to make cinnamon rolls. Wanted is the key word there. No matter how good of a recipe, no gluten free cinnamon roll will be made with ease. I am positive of that. I cringe at the thought of making pie dough gluten free, let alone a dough that needs to be covered in goodness and ROLLED raw. And that doesn’t even include the cutting of smaller pieces! So I pinned a lot of recipes on Pinterest and I sort of came to terms with the fact that I’d never achieve this easily.

Then my family went paleo (albeit me who still enjoys cupcakes and dairy products and GF mac & cheese). I decided to give the paleo cinnamon rolls a whirl. First off, they’re naturally gluten free, so I could still eat them. Secondly, all of the pictures, the dough looked like it held together really well. I was sort of in shock.

I don’t know why us gluten free folk haven’t discovered paleo baking at mass because I’m going to let you in on a secret: this dough holds up. Furthermore, you’re eating something that’s good for you, not just empty calories. Two of these small cinnamon rolls keep me full for four hours. I know, crazy right? They’re protein packed, delicious and good for you (in  moderation).

Here’s what you need:

  • 3 cups of almond flour or meal (I used the Trader Joe’s brand and the Bob’s Red Mill brand both with success)
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1/4 tsp of baking soda
  • 1/4 cup of coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 eggs

Preheat the oven for 350 F.

In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, coconut flour, salt and baking soda. Sometimes I add 1/4 tsp of cinnamon to the dough, sometimes I don’t. Up to you. In a smaller bowl, whisk the eggs and honey together, then add the oil and mix to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well.

If your dough is sticky dust lightly with coconut flour. Roll between two pieces of parchment paper or waxed paper. You should have a rectangle that’s about 9 X13 or something that would fit in a lasagna baking dish. Pop into the fridge for 5 – 10 minutes (optional).

While your dough is firming up in the fridge, collect your filling. I use:

  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 – 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup of almonds, chopped
  • 2 tbsp pepitas, chopped

Remove the top layer of wax paper, replace it and flip over. Remove the other side of wax paper. Spread 1/3 cup of honey over the dough to almost the edges. Sprinkle cinnamon on top, then raisins, then nuts and seeds. Using the wax paper as a guide, roll the long way (so you have a 13 inch tube). Place in the fridge again to let firm up for five minutes (optional).

Cut into 1 1/2 – 2 inch chunks and place in a baking dish. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes in the oven. Remove, let cool slightly and enjoy.

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Pumpkin Shrimp Curry

Many of you understand my deep obsession with pumpkin. As soon as it’s acceptable to make anything with pumpkin, I’m probably already in my kitchen doing so. For some non-gluten free ideas, check out my blog post “One Can of Pumpkin.”

I also need to admit I am also drinking a pumpkin spice latte as I blog. Thank you Starbucks for making these accessible at home by providing a pumpkin spice via. Go out to your nearest store, buy these, and enjoy. You will hate me because somehow they are still high in calorie and ridiculously addictive.

Anyway. We received a pumpkin from our farm share. I was so excited! A pumpkin! This farm share has definitely been better this year than last. Less egg plant, more fun foods, more corn, more tomatoes and holy moly a pumpkin. And this week we receive a baby squash. I don’t know what I can from it, but it’s so cute!

I decided to roast the pumpkin and make a curry. Bon Appetit had a recipe a million years ago that I ear tagged but never got around to making. Here’s what you need –

  • 2 tbsp olive oil (note, I totally eye ball this)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp of ginger (fresh or powdered)
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 plum tomato, chopped
  • 1 small sugar pumpkin, roasted and pureed or to make your lives easier, 1-15 ounce can
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup of unsweetened, light coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1 pound of shrimp, deveined and peeled
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • cilantro as garnish and to taste

In a large pot (we’re talking like a big Le Crueset or something you’d make soup in), add the olive oil to heat, then the onions. Cook until they are transparent and soft (3 – 4 minutes). Add the ginger and cook for an additional minute, stirring frequently so it doesn’t stick. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Dump in the plum tomato and pumpkin. Cook until the pumpkin turns a more golden brown shade. This is about 5 – 7 minutes.

Add your broth, coconut milk, spices and sweet potato to the pot. Stir frequently as this simmers for 20 minutes. Try stabbing a sweet potato to see if it’s cooked through after 20 minutes has passed. Once this happens, add your shrimp and stir to incorporate. Let cook for a few minutes until it’s pink and curled up. Remove from the heat, add lime juice and separate into bowls. Add cilantro garnish, and if you like, rice or quinoa.

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Crockpot Beef Brisket

The crockpot has saved my life recently. When you work all day, the last thing you want to do is come home and make dinner. I made pulled pork the previous week, and it was good, but I wanted something that would make my taste buds dance.

Months ago, maybe even a year ago at this point (or longer!), James and I made beef brisket. This was a long, arduous process, that yes resulted in the most delicious dinners ever, but I don’t always have time to slave over the stove and oven. Since whatever I’m making for dinner must also be gluten free and paleo, I went to the blogs for some inspiration. PaleOMG provided said inspiration, and I made very few tweaks to her recipe for Crockpot Ropa Veija (original recipe found here). Not to mention the woman who writes that blog is hilarious.

Here’s what you need –

  •  2 lb chuck roast (I bought mine from Savenor’s, and quality makes a difference here)
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 peppers, sliced thin (I used red and green from our farm share)
  • 1-6 ounce can of tomato sauce (I used my homemade tomato sauce, recipe found here)
  • 1-14 ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp capers, drained (I used whatever I had left, which was probably a little less but if you have the full 3 tbsp, I highly suggest it as these gave awesome flavor bursts)
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1/2 tablespoon thyme
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed or the equivalent from already chopped garlic because your garlic has gone bad
  • 2 small bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste

Plug in your crockpot and scatter the onions and peppers on the bottom. Rinse your roast, pat it dry (with paper towels!) and then cut four slits into it. Insert garlic in those slits. Add on top of the onions and peppers. Then add your remaining ingredients. For the spices, I put in a small bowl, mixed and then sprinkled over.

Now here’s with the cooking time. I put mine on high and it was done in about 3 1/2 hours (not the suggested 5 – 6). So watch it. Low should take longer, probably more likely between 5 – 7. Once it’s cooked through, use two forks to shred it and pull apart.

I served with a side of carrot and zucchini hash cooked in bacon fat and sprinkled with crispy bacon pieces. This would also be great on top of rice or quinoa. It’s also totally palatable to eat straight from the crockpot  with a fork. Not that I did that or anything…

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Apple Ginger Pork

Being gluten free, I thought I was a master at meal planning. Add another restricted diet to the mix and oh boy, has meal planning been brought to a whole new level. Evernote has saved my life. Repeat: saved my life. I leave Evernote opened on my computer all day and any time I have some moment of genius, I quickly add it to an ongoing tab of recipes, ideas, thoughts and plans.

Lucky for me, Cory’s diet is also gluten free (I’m not sure James is entirely thrilled with this!). I found an awesome recipe for slow cooked apple ginger pulled pork that everyone could eat. I modified to accommodate our ingredients.

Warning: This makes so much meat. So much.

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 – 3 pounds of pork tenderloin or shoulder with the fat trimmed off
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 apples, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, smashed or 2 tsp of already minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp of ginger (powdered or grated fresh if you have it!)
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp of paprika
  • 1/2 tsp of pepper
  • 2 – 3 small bay leaves or 1 large
  • 1 tsp salt (I forgot to add salt since I assembled this in the morning before work, so it works without if you’re going for lower sodium)

In a crock pot, pour in the water. Add the onions and garlic. If the pork is large, cut into two hunks and lay side by side in the crock pot. Combine your spices in a small bowl and sprinkle on top of the pork. Add the apples scattered on top. Replace the lid and cook on low for 8 – 10 hours or on high for 6 – 7.

Pull apart with a fork. If you are inept at this (as I am), use a knife to help out until someone comes to rescue you.

If Cory can’t have grains, what’s the what rice looking stuff in my picture? I had a stroke of genius (here’s where Evernote comes into play). Have you ever made mashed cauliflower? Before it mashes, it gets to this weird rice like consistency. If you’ve made cauliflower pizza crust you will know exactly what I’m talking about. So I made cauliflower rice, which isn’t the same as rice, but it was pretty good AND healthier for you.

Take that difficult diets!

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Paleo.. what? Muffins?

My siblings have decided to go on the paleo diet. What is the paleo diet? Well I think this guy gives the ultimate description here, but if you don’t want to read another blog post… in a nutshell, paleo is the caveman diet. It’s back to the roots. It includes meat, nuts, fruits and vegetables. It does not include grains, sugar and dairy.

So… what do you feed an almost eight year old who likes granola bars, muffins and cookies for snack? Oh, you can make everything “paleo.” Yesterday I spent a few hours preparing food for my sister – today I will do the same for my brother. But to start them out right (diet begins TODAY!), I experimented with paleo muffins. As someone who bakes gluten free all the time, this was just an added challenge since I can’t use flour. These muffins, which were given two thumbs up, smell so incredibly delicious. So, so, so delicious. I couldn’t believe it. Maybe these cavemen dwellers are up to something…

















Here’s what you need:

  • 1 cup almond flour/meal
  • 3 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 tbsp flax seeds, ground finely
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1-heaping tbsp cinnamon
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • splash of vanilla
  • fruit of choice: apple, strawberries, blueberries (note  if you are using larger fruit, cut it up into blueberry sized pieces)

Preheat the oven for 350F. Combine the first six ingredients in a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients in a bowl (I would add the coconut oil last) and stir to combine. Line a muffin pan with 12 wrappers or grease with coconut oil. Fill 2/3 way full. Pop in the oven for 25 – 30 minutes.

Makes 12.

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Open Face Heirloom Tomato Sandwich

Heirloom tomatoes are so freaking good. This is my favorite time of the year for the CSA box. It’s packed with delicious vegetables – corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, eggplant.

As always, I was inspired by the August cover of Bon Appetit. The only catch? It was an open face sandwich. Which means only one thing… gluten. I decided to swap out the bread for Udi’s gluten free multi grain and it was surprisingly refreshing. Here’s what you need:

  • 2 slices of bread, lightly toasted
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil leaves, washed and torn (if large)
  • 2 tbsp feta
  • 1/2 heirloom tomato
  • pinch of salt

Toast the bread lightly. Drizzle half of the olive oil over both pieces. Layer on top tomato and basil leaves. Drizzle with the rest of the olive oil. Sprinkle feta and salt on top.

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I’m going to admit, I’ve never made lamb before – unless you count lamb burgers as “lamb.” I’m of the mindset you can pretty much make any ground meat into a tasty burger as long as you know what to pair with it (i.e. dill, lemon juice, greek yogurt). On a whim I bought a rack of lamb that I was determined to cook all by myself.

Verdict: Lamb looks really pretty but I just don’t like it.

James quite enjoyed the lamb. In fact, he nibbled every last piece of meat off the bone and brought leftovers for lunch the next day, so I am assuming that this is a somewhat palatable meal. Here’s what you need:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tbsp rosemary
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • 1-rack of lamb (1.5 pounds)

In a large freezer bag, mix the first five ingredients together. Add the lamb, seal the bag, and turn to coat it. Place in fridge for one hour.

Preheat your oven for 425F. Spray a baking dish with Canola oil and place lamb inside, meaty part facing up. Roast for 20 minutes or until the internal temperature is 135. In my case, my lamb was too raw for my liking, so I seared it in a pan. I served with potato salad and broccoli.

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Canning Tomatoes

I did something crazy. I purchased 20 pounds of tomatoes from the farm that provides our CSA box. I know, 20 pounds is a lot. I decided that I would rather spend an entire day canning said tomatoes and eating them all winter long than not having them at all. Let me tell you, canning is a lot of work. It’s more so if you do it alone, which is why I invited my friend Julie to help out. This is Julie and I before canning.

The plan for the day was to can four quarts of whole tomatoes and whatever else was left would be made into tomato sauce, which would be canned in 6-ounce jars (because lets be honest, do you ever use a whole quart of tomato sauce in one go? Yeah, neither do I). We took pictures of almost the whole process, so I will incorporate into the steps. But first, here’s what you need:

  • 20 pounds of whole tomatoes, preferably fresh of an assorted variety
  • 4-quart sized jars with lids
  • 6 to 8-6 ounce jars with lids
  • salt
  • Bottled lemon juice (you’ll use around 1/2 cup)
  • 2 large pots
  • Patience

We had a lot of tomatoes to start with. Fill two pans with water (we’re talking 16 quart pan and a 12 quart pan). Bring the smaller of the two pans to a boil. Meanwhile, gently wash all of your tomatoes and cut into them a small X.


When the smaller pan of water begins to boil, add 8 – 10 tomatoes at a time for 30 seconds. Remove and place into an ice bath. Meanwhile, the other pan of water should come up to 180F. At this point, place the quart jars in rim up and lower the heat to maintain the temperature. This will sterilize the jars. Add in the lids as well, but make sure this doesn’t boil or the seal will break.


The 30 second hot bath will loosen the skin from the flesh of tomato. Next, you’ll want to de-skin the tomato, and then cut the core out (this is just the part that the stem comes out of, and you only need to cut that part out – this isn’t like coring an apple!).

Remove the jars from the hot water bath and place on a clean, dry towel. Put two tablespoons of lemon juice into each of the jars. Cover the pan and bring it to a boil. Meanwhile, pack the jars with the tomatoes. You can use a wooden spoon to squish them all in. Remember that water you boiled them in to remove the skins? Don’t toss that! Use the hot water to fill the rest of the jars, leaving 1/2 inch of head space at the top. Add a 1/2 tsp salt to the jars. Use a paper towel to wipe the lip of the jar clean, then place a sterilized lid on and put the ring on to close it. Not too loose or too tight.

Once the larger pot comes to a boil, place the jars inside (use a jar holder!) and cover. Let it come back up to a rolling boil, then set the timer for 45 minutes. Sometimes your jars will break. This is okay.

When a jar breaks, remove all the jars from the hot water bath, remove the glass and then proceed as if nothing happened.
While the jars are soaking in their hot water bath, start on the sauce. Cut the remaining tomatoes in half. Over a bowl or the trash, squeeze the tomatoes to remove the pulp and seeds. This is a really gross process. Wear an apron or clothes you don’t care about getting dirty. At the end, you’ll have a lot of deflated looking tomatoes.

If you haven’t done so already, dispose of the tomato water you used to de-skin them, rinse out the pan and put it back on the stove. Transfer in batches the deflated tomatoes to a food process or blender. Process until it’s mostly smooth (a few chunks are fine). Dump in batches into the smaller pan. Once you have all the tomatoes in there, put the lid on, turn on to medium-high and reduce until it’s at half the liquid. This took me about 45 – 50 minutes. Stir frequently so the tomatoes don’t scorch or stick to the bottom.

Before this is done reducing, your whole tomatoes will be done processing. Turn the water off and let sit for five minutes. Take a dry clean towel out and place it somewhere you don’t mind it being for the next 24 hours. Carefully remove the jars and place on the towel two inches apart. Bring the water in the large pot back up to 180F. Place your smaller 6-ounce jars inside.

When your tomato sauce has reduced to half, remove from the heat. Take the smaller jars out and place on a clean dry towel. Cover the pot and bring to a boil again. Measure 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice into each of the jars. Using a funnel for canning (or very careful ladling), pour the tomato sauce into each of the jars, leaving a 1/2 inch head space. Clean the lip with a clean paper towel. Place jars back into the large pan once it’s back up to a boil. Cover. Once a rolling boil starts again, set the timer for 25 minutes. Afterwards, turn the heat off and let sit for 5 minutes. Remove and place on a clean dry towel.

Let jars sit for 12 – 24 hours to cool and the lids to pop.


Warning, you may be exhausted after said canning experience and will require a snack and/or meal right away.