Pumpkin Cake or Pumpkin Pie? Yes, Please!

 Merry Christmas and Happy National Pumpkin Pie Day!

Everyone who knows me well generally understands that when I say “I made dessert” what I really mean is “I have made something yummy with chocolate”.  Now, my dad, who shares my chocolate addiction love, would never object but my mother and husband are a different story…they constantly request desserts without *gasp* chocolate. Although I think you can never go wrong with a decadent chocolate dessert I have been branching out a bit in order to satisfy the non-chocoholics in the family.

Thankfully, the last several years I have developed a taste for all things pumpkin (I know, I feel so grown-up!).  Last month I posted a recipe for my favorite go-to muffin, Pumpkin Pecan Pie Muffins, and promised a posting for my favorite Thanksgiving dessert (Pumpkin Pecan Pie) once I was able to rework the recipe to better fit into the paleo/primal lifestyle.  My first attempt failed miserably…I had just come off of my Whole 30 and the pie was so sweet I couldn’t even eat it!!!  I was determined to get it right for our Christmas dessert but in the meantime I came across another recipe in the December issue of Paleo Magazine that I knew I had to fit into our Christmas menu…Pumpkin Cakes with Pecan Praline Sauce.  So, Pumpkin Cakes for Christmas Eve and Pumpkin Pie for Christmas Day…it just doesn’t get much better than that…well, unless you add chocolate!

Although this recipe is over-due I’m really happy with the outcome.  It is sweet enough to be considered a treat but not so sweet it makes your teeth hurt.  The recipe can be made as a simple Pumpkin Pie or amped up into a Pumpkin Pecan Pie by adding the pecan topping…you really can’t go wrong either way.

Pumpkin Pecan Pie

Pumpkin Pecan Pie

Crust:

1 1/4 cup blanched almond flour

1/4 cup pecan meal (or omit and add an additional 1/4 cup almond flour)

1/4 tsp. sea salt

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 Tbsp. ground ginger

1 Tbsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1/4 cup coconut oil or butter, melted

2 Tbsp. maple syrup, honey or coconut palm sugar (optional)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large bowl combine the almond flour, pecan meal, salt, baking soda and spices.  In a separate bowl whisk together the coconut oil (or butter), maple syrup (or other sweetener, if using) and vanilla.  Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined.  Press the dough into a 9″ pie pan.  Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown, remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack before filling.

Filling:

1 3/4 cups pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)

2 eggs

2/3 cup maple syrup (or 1/2 cup honey)

1/2 cup coconut milk

1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

1 1/2 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice

Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth.  Add the filling evenly into the slightly cooled crust and return to the 350 degrees F oven and bake for 45-60 minutes, or until the filling is set.  A knife inserted into the middle should come out clean.  Remove from oven to a cooling rack.  If you are just making the Pumpkin Pie, cool for 30 minutes before serving or cover and refrigerate.  For Pumpkin Pecan Pie, proceed to Topping directions…

Topping:

3 Tbsp. honey or maple syrup

1 Tbsp. butter or coconut oil

3/4 cup pecan halves

Preheat broiler.  Combine honey or maple syrup and butter in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it reaches a low boil. Remove from heat and stir in pecans to coat.  Arrange coated pecans on top of pie and drizzle remaining topping over the pecans.  Place under the broiler until bubbly and golden brown, watching carefully, about 2 minutes.  Remove from oven to a cooling rack.  Cool for 30 minutes before serving or cover and refrigerate.

Serve both the Pumpkin or Pumpkin Pecan pies topped with freshly made whipped cream.  If you refrigerated the pies bring them to room temperature before serving (or not…some people like their Pumpkin Pie cold!)…about 4 hours on the counter-top.

Pie…it’s a beautiful thing.

 Now…what about those Pumpkin Cakes?

The recipe in Paleo Magazine for Pumpkin Cakes with Pecan Praline caught my eye immediately…I knew this was definitely making the Christmas menu this year!  It was delightfully light and ridiculously easy to make.  I decided to add a nice small scoop of Maple-Vanilla Ice Cream (dairy-free) to the top of the cake before drizzling the Pecan Praline topping over the whole thing…oh my, it did not disappoint!  Here is a picture of our Christmas Eve dessert, check out Paleo Magazine online to download the latest issue, it’s chocked full of great recipes including this one for Pumpkin Cakes.

Pumpkin Cake with Maple-Vanilla Ice Cream and Pecan Praline Sauce

This recipe is shared at:

Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Gluten-Free Wednesdays, Hearth and Soul Hop, All Gluten Free Desserts

Caramelized Banana Dairy-Free Ice Cream

Caramelized Banana Ice Cream with chopped pecans

In anticipation of the upcoming holiday season Mark’s Daily Apple blogged about  Gateway Foods: The Slippery Slope of “Just a Bite”.  Many people have “gateway” or “trigger” foods that even one bite can send them sailing off the rails into a carb or sugar laden binge-fest.  Ice cream is that food for me.  While I know I can’t run to the grocery store and grab a pint of Cherry Garcia (and truthfully don’t even want to anymore) I DO like to enjoy an occasional bowl of ice cream.  When I was still eating dairy I worked my way through David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop making the necessary substitutions for using natural sugar sources…now I’m modifying them for a dairy-free lifestyle!  I’d like to say I can make up a few batches of ice cream and keep them in the freezer for an occasional treat but I can’t…nowadays I will make a small batch for a special occasion, enjoy a bowl (or two) and then send it on its way to my parents house for them to enjoy!  This recipe is delightfully simply and very tasty…we topped it with Oven Roasted Cherries (recipe coming soon…) and toasted almonds and coconut flakes.

Caramelized Banana Ice Cream

4 medium ripe bananas, broken into small pieces

2 pitted dates, chopped

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 tablespoon vanilla

1- 13.5 ounce can coconut milk (I like Native Forest)

2 pastured egg yolks** (optional, make sure they are from a farmer you trust since they will be raw)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place bananas and dates in a glass baking dish and drizzle with coconut oil and vanilla.  Roast in the oven until the bananas and dates begin to caramelize, stirring 1 to 2 times, about 40 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.  In a high-speed blender combine the coconut milk and pastured egg yolks (if using) and blend until smooth.  Add the caramelized banana mixture to the blender and puree on high until well combined and texture is creamy.  Pour into a container, cover and chill in the refrigerator overnight (or at least 4 hours if you just can’t wait!).  Once chilled, place in an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.  Enjoy scooped right out of the ice cream maker for a soft serve style ice cream or transfer to an airtight container and freeze for a couple of hours for a firmer ice cream consistency.  Sprinkle with nuts, berries or dark chocolate chips and serve.  Makes 1 quart.

**The egg yolks will give the ice cream a creamier texture but the recipe will work just fine without them.

This recipe is shared at:

Fight Back Fridays, Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays, Fat Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Gluten-Free Wednesdays

The Perfect Paleo Biscuit…

Light and Fluffy

I don’t know about you but I’ve always been terrified of making biscuits.  There is always so many steps and requirements no matter what recipe you choose…cold butter, floured board, fold the dough but don’t handle it too much, rolling, patting, cutting, resting…yikes, too much room for error for me.  So, when we were a wheat (and processed food) eating family I would just pop open one of those cans of ready-to-cook flaky buttermilk biscuits…hard to mess them up unless you forgot to set the oven timer!  I’ve seen many gluten or grain-free biscuit recipes over the years but that fear of the whole “biscuit making process” has kept me from trying any of them out…until this week.  To my surprise, they are so easy!  This recipe uses just 6 ingredients and you literally only have a few steps to follow.  These biscuits make a great addition to any meal and they are wonderful for making quick and easy breakfast sandwiches.  I’ve made them several times now and they have turned out perfectly each time!

Ham, Avocado and Egg Breakfast Sandwich

The Perfect Paleo Biscuit

Makes 9 biscuits

6 egg whites

3/4 cup blanched almond flour

1/4 cup coconut flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil, chilled

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Mix almond flour, coconut flour, baking powder and salt together in a large mixing bowl.  Cut in cold coconut oil with a fork until the mixture is crumbly.  Place the bowl in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.  In a medium bowl whisk egg whites until they are very frothy.  Fold the egg whites into the chilled flour mixture until well combined.  Scoop about 1/4 cup of dough onto the baking sheet and smooth the top to form each biscuits, an ice cream scoop works well in this step.  Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.  Serve warm or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Ready for the oven...

This recipe is shared at:

Fight Back Friday, Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays, Fat Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday

Jicama and Sausage Breakfast Pie

Check out that jicama crust!

Everyone says that breakfast is the most important meal of the day…I don’t know whether or not that’s true but I DO know it’s my favorite meal of the day…even if I’m eating it at 6 o’clock in the evening!  Since starting the Whole 30 Program I’ve been dairy-free which really made it difficult to navigate most of my previous breakfast go-to recipes which usually contained some sort of dairy (cream, butter, raw milk cheese, Parmesan…).  Oh sure, I was able to adapt my omelets and frittatas easy enough but some of my favorite breakfast casseroles just don’t work without the dairy!   This recipe is an adaptation of Jan’s Sushi Bar’s Sausage Mushroom Breakfast Casserole, her recipe calls for sweet potatoes as the crust, which is absolutely wonderful, I just prefer a lower carb/glycemic breakfast (and one that I can eat everyday).  I have often used jicama as a substitution for potatoes in latkes or hash browns and it worked beautifully in this recipe as well.  This is a really hearty, filling dish that would be great for any meal of the day and it keeps well for leftovers, too.  Now, I will say that this recipe is a bit labor intensive, nothing difficult, just a lot of steps…you won’t be disappointed though, it’s totally worth it!  I know that in these pictures it looks like I’ve loaded the casserole up with lots of gooey cheddar cheese but the bright yellow color is actually from my pastured eggs from Larga Vista Ranch, the yolks are always SO yellow!

Layers of yummy goodness!

Jicama and Sausage Breakfast Pie

serves 4

12-14 ounce jicama (weight is before peeling and shredding)
8 ounces ground pork, seasoned** (or your favorite breakfast sausage)
4 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
1  tablespoon coconut oil, divided
1/2 medium roasted red bell pepper, peeled, seeded and chopped (I used Mediterranean Organic jarred peppers)
1/4 large onion, diced
6 eggs
3 ounces coconut milk (1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons)
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease a glass pie pan or an 8×8 Pyrex dish with 1/2 tablespoon of the coconut oil.

Peel the jicama and run it through the shredder disc of your food processor, or shred it using the large holes of a box grater. Place the shredded jicama in a large bowl and generously sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt, stir and then set aside.

Crumble the sausage into a large, heavy skillet and cook over medium-high heat until no longer pink. Remove with a slotted spoon to a medium bowl and set aside.

Without draining the fat, reduce the heat slightly and add the mushrooms in a single layer to the skillet. Don’t crowd them – you want them nicely browned and almost crisp.  Too many in the pan at once will cause them to steam, rather than brown, once they begin to give off moisture. Cook them in batches if necessary. Once they are nicely browned, remove with a slotted spoon and add them to the sausage.  (I know you may want to just throw them all in the pan and be done with it but this step is important…the crispy mushrooms add a lovely texture to the casserole…don’t skip it!)

Add 1/2 tablespoon of the coconut oil to the skillet and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook the onions until soft and golden, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, and add to the bowl with the sausage and mushrooms.

Lightly toss the roasted, chopped bell pepper with the sausage, mushrooms and onions. Set aside.

Pour the shredded jicama into a colander lined with a kitchen towel and squeeze as much liquid out as possible.  Return them to a dry bowl and toss them with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, then spread them over the bottom and sides of the greased baking dish (just the bottom if using an 8×8 dish). Sprinkle the sausage/mushroom mixture evenly over the jicama, covering it as completely as possible.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and coconut milk together with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper until well-blended. Pour the egg mixture over the sausage and jicama in the baking dish, making sure the eggs are distributed evenly.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 35-40 minutes, until the eggs are set and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the foil and return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes to brown the top. Allow to rest for 10 minutes; cut into 4 equal portions and serve.

**I use fresh ground pork and season it to my liking for breakfast sausage rather than buying pre-made breakfast sausage because most of them contain some sort of sweetener…

Here is what I use for 8 ounces of ground pork:

1/2 teaspoon celtic sea salt

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1 teaspoon ground sage

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Voila! Dairy-Free Breakfast Pie!

This recipe is shared at:

Fight Back Friday, Fresh Bites Friday & Monday Mania

Fat Tuesday, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday & Tasty Tuesday

Gluten-Free Wednesdays & This Chick Cooks

Pumpkin Pecan Pie Muffins

Pumpkin Pecan Pie Muffins

Fall is my favorite time of year.  I love the bright colors outside when the leaves begin to change, the warm smells in the kitchen of seasonal vegetables roasting and the crisp feeling of the chilly air when taking the dog for a walk in the afternoon sunshine…oh and November is my birthday month (only child syndrome!).  Growing up everyone in my family loved Pumpkin Pie with Cool Whip at Thanksgiving…not me, I was a Pecan Pie and vanilla ice cream girl.  My taste for all things pumpkin didn’t develop until later in life but now I simply cannot get enough of it…pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pie…the list is practically endless.  Several years ago I found a recipe for the ultimate Thanksgiving dessert, Pumpkin Pecan Pie…it’s my new favorite but since following a paleo/primal diet I haven’t tried to adapt the recipe yet (don’t worry, the recipe WILL be adapted and posted before Thanksgiving this year!).  I started my fall baking this season with these wonderful Pumpkin Pecan Pie Muffins…they are fruit sweetened, dairy free and great for breakfast, snack and even dessert!

Pumpkin Pecan Pie Muffins

Makes about 24 muffins

2 large ripe bananas

1/2 cup medjool dates, pitted and soaked (about 6-8 dates)

5 eggs

1/2 cup pumpkin puree (canned or fresh roasted)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1 /2 cup coconut flour

1/4 cup ground flax seeds

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice (or more/less according to your taste)

1/2 cup of pecans, chopped

24 pecan halves (optional, for topping)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line muffin tins with paper liners or grease well with coconut oil.
  2. Place pitted dates in a bowl, cover with very hot water and soak for about 10 minutes, drain well after soaking.
  3. To a blender add bananas, pumpkin, dates, vanilla, eggs, and melted coconut oil.  Puree until smooth.
  4. Sift all dry ingredients together in a separate bowl.
  5. Add wet ingredients to the dry and stir until there are no lumps.
  6. Stir in chopped pecans.
  7. Divide evenly between the muffin cups (I use an ice cream scoop which is about 1/4 cup of batter).
  8. Place one pecan half on top of each muffin.
  9.  Bake for 22 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Let cool completely on rack before serving.

Recipe Tips…

  • If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice add: 2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp cloves instead
  • You could omit the coconut oil and add and extra 1/4 cup of pumpkin
  • Make these an even more decadent dessert by adding 1/2 cup 70% (or greater) dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs for a completely sugar-free recipe
  • Top with a dollop of whipped coconut cream or if you tolerate dairy a dollop of fresh whipped cream

Enjoy the taste of pumpkin pecan pie everyday, guilt-free!

This recipe is shared at:

Fight Back Friday

Fat Tuesday, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday

Gluten-Free Wednesdays, This Chick Cooks

Homemade Vanilla Coconut Milk

I’m always amazed at how simple some things are to make at home…so often I think it’s just easier or quicker to buy them in the grocery store or better yet order on-line for front porch delivery (no driving or crowd fighting necessary!).  Since beginning my Whole 30 Challenge on October 3 I’ve been dairy-free (which has been surprisingly easy!) and have started using coconut milk in my morning coffee.  At first I tried the canned coconut milk which I think would be great in hot coffee but I’m an iced coffee girl and well, it just wouldn’t mix in…it was hard and clumpy, yuck!  Next, I tried the So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk in the carton, this was better and worked great while I was traveling…

I returned home yesterday from two weeks of traveling.  Needless to say, I was a bit tired and had absolutely no desire to stop at the grocery store on my way home from the airport!  I was lucky enough to do a bit of “grocery shopping” in my mom’s fridge when I picked up the dog before heading home and thought I’d be set for a couple of days…I knew I had coffee in the freezer and was just sure I had a fresh carton of coconut milk…I was so tired when I got home I didn’t even think to check before unpacking and getting into my pajamas!  Well, I’m sure you can guess what happened next…yep, no coconut milk.  No way was I going to get dressed to go back out…

I have been making homemade almond milk for a while now and was sure I had seen recipes for homemade coconut milk…I did a quick search on the Tropical Traditions website and found a ridiculously easy recipe for homemade coconut milk using shredded coconut…problem solved.  I whipped this up in the Vitamix this morning and can’t believe I ever bought the stuff in a carton!!!!  I made two batches, one plain and one with vanilla, totally yummy!

Homemade Vanilla Coconut Milk

2 cups hot (not boiling) filtered water

1 cup organic unsweetened shredded coconut

1/2 Tbsp. organic vanilla (optional)

In a medium-size kettle, heat the water, but do not bring it to a boil.  Pour hot water into a high-speed blender, add coconut on top of the water and then the vanilla.  Let sit for 1-2 minutes before blending. Blend on high for 5-7 minutes.  Line a colander with cheesecloth and place over a bowl or use a nut milk bag directly inside a glass mason jar.  Pour the blended coconut mixture into the cheesecloth or nut milk bag and twist to extract the milk, letting the milk go into the bowl.   Be careful, the milk will be hot so you may want to wear rubber gloves or let it sit to cool a bit.  Pour milk into a glass mason jar and refrigerate for up to 4 days.  Coconut milk will separate during storage so be sure to shake it up each time you use it…enjoy!

Makes about 2 cups.

This recipe is shared at:

Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday & Fat Tuesday

Gluten Free Wednesdays

Wellness Weekend & Fight Back Friday

The Best Chocolate Sauce…Ever!

Chocolate Sauce over Coconut Ice Cream

Creamy, decadent, refined sugar-free, vegan (or can be anyways), pourable straight from the refrigerator and OH SO YUMMY!  Did I mention it is really easy to make too?

We enjoy this sauce drizzled over all kinds of desserts, ice cream, fruit and sometimes even pancakes or waffles!

Refrigerator Chocolate Sauce

1 cup pure maple syrup

1/2 cup almond oil

1/2 cup unsweetened cacao powder

1/4 tsp. celtic sea salt

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. pure almond extract

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth.  Store in the refrigerator for up to three months (if it lasts that long…ours never does!).

Sometimes I replace half of the maple syrup with agave, coconut nectar or honey (of course, honey would not be vegan), it makes the sauce a bit sweeter than using all maple syrup.  I use raw cacao powder as well but any unsweetened cocoa powder works fine…

Chocolate sauce drizzled straight from the fridge

This recipe is shared at:

Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays & Tasty Tuesdays

Gluten Free Wednesdays

Wellness Weekend @ Diet, Dessert and Dogs

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