Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Easy Pepper Crusted Skirt Steak & Breakfast Tacos (w/Grain Free Tortillas)

Texas, Texas, Texas....

What can I say? I was born in St.Cloud, Minnesota...spent my childhood bouncing around the globe, only to settle back in St.Cloud as a teenager to finish out my high school years. Up till that point, Texas was just a place that we lived for a couple years when I was 5 years old. My only real memory of that time is the vague sensation of feeling a little out of place as a Northern girl in a very urban, South Dallas elementary school. (Mark Twain represent!)

When I moved to Dallas in 1994 to sing in my brother's band, I truly had no idea just how much Texas would become a part of my DNA during the following 21 years. So here are a few things that I love about Texas, in no particular order...
  • I love that you can drive 45 minutes in basically any direction and find a farm or ranch that grows organic produce or raises grass-fed cattle and pastured pork, chickens...and kids.
  • I love that you can basically go outside and throw a rock in any direction and you'll probably hit a place that sells tacos.
  • I love that if you happen to miss the taco place, there's a 100% chance that you'll hit a BBQ joint instead.
  • I love that Texas will be the very last place to give up our freedoms. How you raise your kids, what you choose to believe in, whatever you want to eat...buy...grow, sell or carry...in Texas, it's still your right to choose what's best for you and that's not changing any time soon.
  • I love that Texans are so in love with Texas. I've never seen a people more proud to be from where they're from. You know that joke, "If you meet a vegan who does Crossfit, which one will they talk about first?" Well if they're from Texas, then the answer is, "Texas."
I also love that right here in the DFW metroplex, which is arguably the most "metropolitan" of all the major Texas hubs, you still have amazing local resources like Farm to Fork Foods. We started buying from Farm to Fork when they were just a small co-op with a handful of loyal customers. Today, they've grown into a fully operational brick and mortar store with a wide selection of grass-fed and pastured meats, pastured eggs, fresh produce and wild caught seafood, as well as carrying a ton of great brands like TinStar Foods, Epic Bars, Holy Kombucha, Honest Chips and soooo many more.

When I started planning this post, I asked Farm to Fork if they had any grass-fed skirt steak in stock that I could use for the post. As it turned out, they had just gotten a bunch of fresh bison in and oh yea....BISON!!!....Texans LOVE bison. 

Anyway, here are a few shots of Farm to Fork and the recipe you're looking for. Hope you enjoy my little taste of Texas. 

Easy Pepper Crusted Skirt Steak & Breakfast Tacos 
(w/Grain Free Tortillas)

Prepare the tortillas before cooking the meat and rest of the burrito ingredients. The tortilla recipe can be found HERE.  Makes 4-8 tacos/burritos depending on the size of tortillas you make.


For the Skirt Steak:

1 1/2-2 pound beef or bison skirt steak 
5 tablespoons fat of choice (such as  TinStar Foods ghee, tallow, or lard )
3-4 tablespoons coarse ground black or mixed peppercorns
1-2 teaspoons, seasoning of choice (we used Flavor God Everything Seasoning)
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt

For The Tacos:

6-8 large eggs
1 tablespoon ghee or other fat
Any other taco fixins you like (avocado , onion, bacon, cheese, salsa...)


1. Unroll the skirt steak, removing and discarding any paper or plastic that it was rolled with. Lay it out on a cutting board then cut in half to make two wide pieces of meat (This is needed so that it will fit on your skillet). Trim up any very thin pieces on the ends. Pat dry with paper towels then cover lightly and let sit out at room temp for about 20 minutes.

2. Sprinkle your choice of seasoning and salt evenly over the topside of the meat. Rub a little fat on the skillet, then preheat over medium high heat till very hot. It should just start to smoke. Add the rest of the fat for the skirt steak and let it melt completely. Now add the cracked peppercorns and let them cook for about 2 minutes, stirring often to prevent scorching. When the peppercorns start to smell "nutty" they are ready for step three. Be careful, at this point they can scorch pretty quickly. Precooking the peppercorns a delicious, mellow and savory flavor.

3. Make sure the peppercorns are evenly spread over the surface of the pan where you will be placing the meat. Using a metal tongs, add the meat, seasoned side down to the hot skillet and press into the peppercorns. Let the meat cook for about a minute then flip over and cook on the other side for another minute or until done to your liking. A longer cooking time may be needed if you have a thicker cut of meat. Remove from the heat and let rest on a cutting board for a few minutes, then slice into long, thin strips.

For the tacos/burritos: Scramble the eggs, then place in a tortilla with steak strips and other fixins. Fold into either a taco or a burrito shape. Eat and repeat while basking in the glory that is breakfast tacos. If you don't already live in Texas, begin making plans to relocate asap. 

Pictures for Pinning (click photo to pin)

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Pear, Candied Walnut & Prosciutto Chicken Salad (Whole30 & 21DSD options)

Pear, Candied Walnut & Prosciutto Chicken Salad

This salad is a delicious balance of savory, sweet and salty. The crunch of the candied walnut with every bite is simply divine! 

To make this Whole30 friendly, just use toasted walnut and skip the instructions for the candied walnuts.

To make this The 21 Day Sugar Detox friendly use toasted walnuts instead of the candied and sub Granny Smith apples for the pears


1 pound (454 grams) chicken breast or chicken tenders
1 cup walnut pieces
3 tablespoons maple syrup (omit for Whole30 & 21DSD)
1/2 -1 cup or more thick cut diced prosciutto or pancetta
Handful of chopped green onions (about 1/4 cup chopped)
2 medium sized pears, any variety (For 21DSD, sub Granny Smith Apples)
1/4 cup or more homemade or Primal Kitchen Mayo
Cracked pepper and salt to taste

Optional 4 grain/gluten free crusty buns, small bowls or lettuce wraps for serving.
Note: Pictured are the "Large Choux Buns" from My Paleo Patisserie, topped with poppy seeds" (Page 76 & 77) Also try "Against The Grain Original Rolls


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (this is for the candied walnuts but it is also the temperature needed if you plan to make the choux bun recipe from My Paleo Patisserie.)

2. Bring a medium/large sized pot of water to a boil. Add the chicken breast or tenders and cook until the internal temperature reads 160 °F/71 °C. Or until just cooked through. Try not to over cook or the chicken will be tough and dry. Times will vary depending on the cut and thickness of the chicken. Strain the chicken and leave to cool. If you would like cold chicken, place in the freezer while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. (alternatively you can use any leftover cooked chicken breast)

3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then in a medium sized bowl add the walnuts (break into coarse pieces if they are whole) and maple syrup, tossing till well coated. Pour out onto the baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, stirring twice. Continue baking until lightly browned. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with a little salt and leave to cool on the baking sheet. Walnuts will become crunchy as they cool.

4. While the walnuts cool, fry the diced prosciutto till browned and crispy. Drain off the oil and set aside.

5. Slice the pears in half, core them, then chop the pears and chicken into 1-inch (2.5-cm) size pieces. 

6. In a large bowl, combine them together with the, walnuts, prosciutto, green onions and mayo. Toss to coat evenly then season to taste. Add as much or as little mayo as you like!

Divide the salad among 3-4 sliced gluten/grain free buns, lettuce wraps or in bowls. 

Serves 3-4 or just 1 if you're greedy like that! Eat right away or store in an airtight container for up to 2 days. If making ahead of time, keep the candied walnuts separate and add just before serving or the will become soft and sticky.

Tip for making large choux buns from My Paleo Patisserie: Measure about 1/4 cup of batter into the molds of a whoopie pie pan or pipe into the molds of a large donut pan. The slightly curved and raised edges help the choux bun to rise upward and not out. This makes getting a good "rise" much more fool proof and works well even if you got your dough a little too runny.

Pictures For Pinterest (click on photo to pin)

Friday, April 3, 2015

My Paleo Patisserie "Outfit Your Kitchen" Giveaway

So the day has finally come; My Paleo Patisserie is here and I couldn't be more excited to share it with you! I know that most of you are probably here for the AMAZING KitchenAid + Blendtec giveaway so don't worry....we'll get there pretty soon. :)

Before we get there though, I wanted to take just a second to share a few details about why I'm so excited about how this book has turned out. So here are some of my favorite things, in no particular order...
  • Everything about the book is designed to set your inner pastry chef free! No matter how timid he/she might be....this book will make creating beautiful desserts a realistic possibility for you.
  • I've never much liked restraints, so I designed the layout of this book to do more than just give you a bunch of set recipes. Instead, I went with a "choose your own adventure" style approach to baking. Each section shares some of my favorite combinations and then gives you the basic, core elements you need to mix and match to your heart's desire. As you'll see below, I've even included pages designed to lay out all the options and set your creativity free.
  • I've gotten a lot of questions about the ingredients I used in the book. First off, one of my goals was to make a book that took a fairly classic approach to the "traditional" Paleo ingredients. While there may be some debate about what that means, the bottom line is that I tried to keep this as simple and accessible as possible. So while I didn't make these recipes to work for absolutely everyone (since that would be impossible), I did make something that would work for everyone. There are nut-based cakes and nut-free cakes. There are tons of egg-free recipes and others that are almost ALL eggs. :)  The point is...this book has a lot of great content and no matter what sort of limitations you're dealing with, it's very likely going to have something that will work for you.  
I could definitely keep going...but I think you get the point. This book has something for everyone and I am absolutely positive that you're going to love it!

Below are some sample pages from the book and the contest entry form is at the bottom. Good luck....and happy baking!!!

- Jenni

Candied Banana Eclair

Assorted  Tartlets

The Classic Sacher Torte & Joconde Cake Rolls 

Classic, Hazelnut & Pistachio Madeleine's

Build Your Own Pastries Charts

Extra Thin Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Neapolitan & Raspberry Marshmallows

Savory Pizza & Italian Baguette Style Sandwich

Over 25 Page Instructional Photo Section (Pictured: Opera Cake & Marshmallows)


So to celebrate the launch of this book, we wanted to give you an opportunity to Outfit Your Kitchen and Outfit Your Pantry. One lucky winner will get BOTH the KitchenAid and Blendtec. And Two runners up will get a full baking package of some of the main ingredients used in this book.

And just in case it isn't entirely obvious, the goal of this giveaway is to share the My Paleo Patisserie love and get as many people to see this book as possible. There are a number of great ways to share this with your world and I hope you all take every chance to win these awesome prizes. SOME of these entries can be done daily, so read the carefully!!! (Sorry USA only due to shipping issues. Terms & Conditions are listed in the Rafflecopter enteries)

(We will email the winners privately. If for some reason as a winner, you do not receive one,  email me at info@theurbanposer.com and I will get you all the info you need to claim your prizes)

The Blendtec and KitchenAid (color of choice): Emma Tracey
Paleo Baking Package 1: Scott Latti
Paleo Baking Package 2: Kelly Albertson

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 16, 2015

Cassava Flour Tortillas (Grain/Gluten/Egg/Nut Free)

Normally I would try to have something poetic, elegant and subtle in this part of the blog post....but that's just not happening today. Today I'm just going to lay it all out in plain speech because I've got a ton of things going on but I don't want you to have to wait any longer for this amazing recipe. 

But before we go there, I just have to pause and announce: we got our book, My Paleo Patisserie back from the printers. YES, it's really here! If you don't already know what I am talking about, follow the link...you won't be sorry, I promise. It is soooo beautiful and I am super thrilled with how it turned out. My Paleo Patisserie will be rolling out onto the bookshelves and into your homes (if you pre-ordered on Amazon) on April 7th. I will be posting a a little "look in to the book" in the next week or so.

Now on to the nitty-gritty of the recipe: 

The flour of the hour is.... Otto's Naturals Cassava flour.  I will say a a few things about this little treasure, but I encourage to check out their site to get more information on their amazing product. But in short, cassava (also known as yuca) is a root vegetable that when dried and ground (in this case using Otto's proprietary preparation) becomes a delicious, gluten and grain-free wheat alternative. It is wonderfully versatile and can often be used to as a 1:1 substitute for wheat flour in recipes. Sometimes cassava flour is thought of and even labeled tapioca flour and vice versa, and even though they do come from the same plant, they are processed and behave very differently in cooking and baking. You can read more about this on Otto's site.

Is Cassava Flour for Everyone? 

Because cassava flour is new to many people, I often get asked what my thoughts are on it. I am always thrilled to add a new grain-free flour to my baking options. Not only does it help reach a wider range of dietary needs, it also gives me more options and versatility  for getting creative in the kitchen. I like to mix my cassava flour with other grain free flours to get amazing textures and flavors, but it is also delicious used on it's own in recipes.

Obviously no food is perfect for everyone. People who are already sensitive to tapioca starch may find that they are sensitive to this as well. And remember, this is not a low starch food. So moderation is good, unless you are very active. Meaning, don't eat a whole 2lb bag of it in 1 day like we did... whoops.

Here are a few things I truly love about cassava flour: 
  • It's nut free, which is great for all the nut free folks out there who need more options. 
  • It works much better and produces a far less "gummy' product when making egg free baked goods.
  • It acts much more like traditional wheat flour than any other grain free flour, which translates into delicious fluffy cakes, breads and even bagels, yes bagels! And as you will see here...traditional stye flour tortillas.
Also, I would be a bad friend if I didn't tell you about the Yiddish Kitchen written by the "Yuca Queens" themselves Jennifer and Simone. And that amazing bagel I talked about earlier...yea, thats all them.

So without further ado...here's a few working tips and the recipe. Enjoy!

A few tips for getting started on building your own recipes with cassava flour:

A. Cassava flour weighs more than traditional wheat flour. It does sub 1:1 well in many cases, IF you are talking in terms of weight. But when using measuring cups (by volume instead of weight) there can be a significant weight difference from 1 cup of wheat flour to 1 cup of cassava flour.  It is always my preference to weigh my ingredients when working with flour substitutions for this reason. 

1 cup of wheat flour weighs about 120 grams, while 1 cup of cassava flour weighs about 140 grams. This variation can make a big difference in a recipe. If you choose not to weigh your ingredients I recommend using about 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon of cassava flour in place of 1 cup of wheat flour when converting recipes.

B. When measuring by volume, don't pack the flour in. Use the scoop and sweep method for best results. Simply scoop up a rounded cup of loose flour, then sweep over the top with a butter knife or a flat edge. But really....just weigh it, it's so easy!

CBecause cassava flour doesn't contain gluten, just like other gluten free flours such as rice, millet, buckwheat etc...it lacks "stretchability", which can make it delicate to work with (though I find it much easier to work with than rice flour"). This isn't really a problem per-se, but something to be aware of if using it in a roll out dough, like the tortillas below. So take extra care when working with it in this way. I like to add golden flax seed to my cassava flour both to refine the working texture and to give it a delicious mellow, bready flavor. But there are endless ways to mix it up and make your own delicious recipe variations that suit your dietary needs and tastes. You can read more on that in the recipe. 

Now on to the recipe.....

Grain Free Tortillas


Note: For individuals on an Autoimmune Protocol (Paleo or otherwise), or for any issues with flax, "Fork and Beans" blog has a great tortilla recipe that will work for you. However the recipe below has a delicious mellow "bready" flavor, and the dough is flexible and easy to work with due to the flaxseed. There are endless options for variations in any recipe. My goal here was to create a tortilla with great texture and a traditional flavor profile. 

Also you really must use the Otto's brand or you won't have much success. See their site for details.


100 grams (3/4 cups) Ottos Naturals Cassava Flour (Get it here
3 tablespoons arrowroot flour (Get it here)
1 tablespoon whole golden flax, finely ground*
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons fat of choice (palm shortening, lard, ghee)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoon (165ml) warm water

*Or 2 tablespoons pre-ground flax meal. The flax used in this recipe is used as a flavor and texture enhancer, not an egg replacement. Though there has been some concern raised about heating and baking with flax, an overwhelming amount of studies suggest that ground flax is stable for baking up to 350°F/176°C. Read more HERE


(I happen to like my tortillas quite thin. If you like a thicker tortilla, just don't roll then as thin or use a tortilla press. Burritos tend to best with the thinner version.

1. In a medium sized bowl whisk together the flours, ground flax and salt until well combined. 

2. Add the fat and use your fingers to rub it into the flour until a crumbly mixture is formed. 

3. Add the water, then using a wooden spoon or spatula, stir the mixture together till it forms a smooth ball of dough. It will be quite sticky at first, you will even think "this is all wrong". Keep stirring till it comes together. Once it comes together, knead the dough with your hands until it becomes smooth.

4. Separate into 8 even balls for small tortillas or 4 even balls for large burrito sized tortillas. Keep the balls of dough covered with plastic wrap till ready to roll or they will dry out and form a crust o the outside.

5. Lay down a clean flour sack towel or a large piece of parchment paper. Generally dust the surface with more cassava four, then place a round of dough at the center of the towel or paper. Gently press the dough down with your palm to flatten it some. Dust the top with flour then using a rolling pin, carefully roll the dough into a 6 or 7 inch round for small tortillas or 8-9 inch round for large tortillas.

Rolling nice round, even AND thin tortillas can take some practice. Sometimes it helps to draw a circle of the size tortilla you want on the bottom side of your parchment paper as a guide at first

OR just  use a tortilla press, but I like how thin they are hand rolled. You could also "press" them, then just roll a bit thinner if you like.

6. Carefully peel the tortilla dough from the towel or paper. Sometimes it helps to lift the towel or paper slightly to help it separate from the dough. Repeat with each ball of dough.

Note: I have success with stacking these on top of each other on a plate. To do this you need to sprinkle a little flour on the tops before laying another one down, to prevent sticking. Otherwise you can lay them out individually, uncovered, on a sheet of parchment paper.

7. Pre-heat a cast iron flat griddle or pan over medium heat for a few minutes or until evenly heated. Place one tortilla at a time on the hot griddle. Let cook on one side for about 25-30 seconds, or until the dough starts to puff, bubbles form, and the bottom has some brown flecks on the surface. If desired, move the tortilla around the pan a few times while it cooks for more even puffing.

Flip over and cook on the other side for another 25 seconds or so and the tortilla puffs up some more. Times will vary depending on your pan and heat level. Again, look for some brown spots on the bottom. Do not over cook or the tortillas will be crisp and dry. Adjust the heat as needed.

Serving and storing: Best served immediately, though they need to be kept covered with plastic wrap till ready to use. Dough can be made ahead of time and be stored, covered, at room temp for a few hours or in the fridge overnight. Bring to room temp before using.

Pictures for Pinning (Click on photo to pin)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Paleo Chicken Lumpia ( Fried Spring Rolls)

Somewhere around the mid-1980's, when football sized shoulder pads seemed like a good fashion choice for women and men were rolling up their white suit jacket sleeves (I'm looking at you Miami Vice); when we were all walking like Egyptians and the price of gasoline was a mere 89 cents a gallon... I was having my first nearly religious experience with lumpia. 

Lumpia is a Chinese-style spring roll that comes in a wide range of varieties and can be found most predominantly in the Philippines, which is where my family and I were living during the mid 80's. Generally speaking, lumpia is a mixture of veggies like cabbage and carrots, meat (usually pork, but I use chicken here), and/or seafood rolled into a thin wrapper (typically made from wheat flour). 

Why I Love Lumpia

Looking back, I'd say that my introduction to lumpia is probably one of the more influential and pivotal culinary experiences in my young life and is in many ways responsible for establishing my abiding love of cooking (and eating!) ethnic cuisine. 

But this wasn't just about it tasting so fabulous; for me, it was about experiencing the process...   

At the time, my family and I were living in the Philippines, running a refuge and recovery home for young women who had escaped the sex trade (see a little more about that here.) There were about 25 girls living in the home with us and we quite literally shared everything.

One day we were preparing for a big celebration and there was a room full of us sitting at long tables making wrappers, chopping veggies, filling...rolling....more chopping, filling, rolling and….well you get the idea. Things weren't moving too fast or too slow; the girls were laughing, telling stories and singing songs. Everyone was in sync, and right in the midst of this well choreographed chaos I had a moment. 

I realized in that moment what incredible power there is in "process." Power to share joy and teach about life; to heal brokenness and restore hope. There's just something mystical that happens when you gather with people to work on something, a common project, and in my experience, there's no more fertile ground for this kind of thing than cooking together.

It took us hours to roll enough lumpia for the large party that was planned and only a few short moments to eat the fruits of all that labor.....but it was worth every moment spent. Because when the lumpia was finally served, it wasn't just something to fill our bellies. We had history with it. We had those shared moments; the smells, stories, textures and laughs that now culminated with us sitting down to enjoy, finally.....the taste. And that taste was all the richer because of the process we had shared. 

Because of my dietary limitations I obviously don't make the traditional recipe that we used to make all those years ago, but the essence of that moment and the deliciousness of the recipe are alive and well and I'm so glad to be sharing it with you guys today.

Paleo Style Lumpia (fried spring rolls)

Grain or Gluten Free, makes 9-10 rolls


2 tablespoons ghee or other oil
1/2 cup (60g) diced onion 
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup (60g) diced carrots
1/2 cup packed (50g) shredded cabbage
1/2 cup (40g) copped green onions
2 cups (8oz/225g) diced roasted chicken
1 tablespoon coconut amino's
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
Fresh cracked pepper, to taste
10 round rice or tapioca spring roll wrappers (8 1/2"/22cm)
Preferred oil for frying (I like to use THIS one)

*Click on green links to find out where to buy select ingredients. Although tapioca and rice wraps can generally be found at an Asian market. 


1. Pre-heat a heavy bottomed frying pan with the 2 tablespoons of fat, over medium- high heat. Add the onion, garlic, carrots and cabbage and cook for about 7 minutes, stirring periodically. The veggies don't need to be cooked all the way through as they will be cooked again later when fried. 

2. Remove from heat and and transfer to a large bowl. Add the chopped chicken, green onions, coconut amino's, salt and pepper to the other veggetables and toss to combine. Set aside.

3. Rolling and frying the spring rolls: Fill a large bowl with lukewarm water. Dip one wrapper into the water for a few seconds to soften it. Lay the wrapper flat on a clean, damp towel. 

4. Place about 2 rounded tablespoons of filling toward the one-third of the wrap nearest to you. Gently fold the top over the filling, tuck it under the filling and pull it snug. Fold the sides inward over the filling (but not all the way to touching, or your roll will be too fat; see pictues), then tightly roll up the wrap. Take your time at first. Getting a tight roll is key to them not bursting in the oil. Be sure the end seam is secure and place them seam side down on another damp clean towel or plate. Repeat until all the filling has been used. 

Note: Remember, You want these little guys to be skinnier than an egg roll (about 1 to 1 1/2 inch round) and tightly rolled so they will stay together once they hit the hot oil. 

5. Fill a medium sized pot or deep pan with about 3 inches of fat/oil and heat till the oil reaches about 350F/176C degrees on a candy thermometer. Adjust the heat as needed to keep the oil steady at this temperature. Carefully slip in one spring roll at a time into the hot oil, being sure the rolls do not touch each other or they will stick. I usually fry 2 rolls at a time in a 2.5 quart sauce pan, but you might fit more if using a larger frying pan. If they do stick together, it is best to leave them alone till they are done frying. Otherwise you will cause a tear in the wrap and the filling will burst out. They will separate once fried.

6. Fry for about 4 minutes, then remove with a metal tongs and drain on paper towels. If using a shallower pan, turn the spring rolls half way through the frying time or as needed to ensure even cooking.

Serve and enjoy!

Pictures for Pinterest (just click on picture to Pin)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Tomato-Less "Marinara" Sauce: Nightshade-Free, Tomato Style Sauce

Somewhere around 2005 I was deep in the middle of my advanced yoga teacher training. A natural, whole food approach to eating had already been a well established culture for our small little family but as a part of the training program I was encouraged to experiment with different perspectives and approaches to healthy living. We embraced this challenge with enthusiasm and as it has turned out, this "explorer" mentality is something that our family eventually just adopted as a general way of life.

This approach has led us through a number of amazing seasons. We've been vegetarians and vegans. We've embraced Ayurvedic cooking and medicine (learn more HERE) and explored all sorts of other fun and interesting choices. And as we've meandered down this path of discovery, we've found that some recipes just stuck with us, even when our journey evolved into another new phase. They've become our standards; the kind of beloved staples that one generation passes on to the next.

This blog was originally started as a way to share our journey, and the recipes we found along the way, with other people on this same path. For us, food has always been about community; about "breaking bread".....even if we are in a time when "bread" is off the menu.  

Even before I needed to be nightshade free for personal health reasons (learn more HERE), this tomato-less marinara was one of our family's most treasured staples. It's been in our family for over nine years. In fact, an earlier version of this recipe was the second post that I put up on here! It has evolved a bit over the years but I can honestly say that it is one of the greatest things that I have ever made. One of my favorite things being how packed with healthy vegetables it is. I'm super excited to be sharing it anew with you guys and I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.....maybe this will become a favorite for your family as well. 

Tomato-less Marinara (No-mato sauce)
Makes about 1 US quart (4 cups/945ml)

For results that are most representative of this recipe, I recommend making it by the weights listed instead of volume (cups). Using weights is especially important in regards to the beet flavor. Using cups often yields more beet than desired. But you can also adjust the beet amount to your preferred taste. Pay attention to the cooking times. Cooking reduces any beet flavor as well as salting generously.


8oz/225g (about 1 1/2 cups)  1" cubed carrots (about 2 medium)
1lb/455g (about 3 cups)  peeled, 1" cubed Butternut squash 
6oz/170g (about 1 cup) peeled, 1" cubed red beets 
5-6 garlic cloves, minced
9oz/250g (about 1 1/2 cups) diced yellow onion (1 medium)
3 TBLS Ghee or other fat for frying 
1 1/2 cups (375ml) or more of water 
1/2 cup (125ml)  or more Merlot or Cabernet wine
2 tablespoons vinegar, like AC, coconut or other vinegar)
1/4 cup (60ml) lemon juice 
1-2 whole bay leaves
2-3 tablespoons dried Italian herbs**
2  teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper, or more to taste
more water/wine to desired consistency.

*Since the wine plays a large role in mimicking the acidity and flavor of marinara and mellowing the beet flavor, omitting the wine will significantly change the flavor of this sauce as it is written. But it will still taste fabulous. I would recommend reducing the amount of beet in this case.

**Dried Italian herbs is simply a blend of dried rosemary, thyme, basil, sage and oregano. There should be no other added ingredients.


1. Prepare the first 5 ingredients as stated above (chopping, mincing, etc…), set the garlic and onions aside. Steam the carrots, butternut squash and beets together till soft (can be pierced with a skewer). This takes about 40 minutes with a stove top steamer, over a medium high heat.

2. While the veggie mixture is cooking, heat the ghee (or other fat) over medium heat till melted and hot. Add the prepared garlic and onions to the hot pan and cook until they are soft slightly browned (this adds a savory richness to the sauce and imparts flavor to the fat). Set aside until the rest of vegetables are ready.

3. Transfer the steamed vegetables, onion mixture, water, wine, vinegar and lemon juice to a blender. Pulse till blended but not so much that it's silky smooth, then pour into large sauce pan. 

4. Stir in the bay leaves, herbs, salt and pepper. Add more water or wine if needed to get a nice "sauce consistency. Bring the sauce to a low simmer and cook for 20-25 minutes. Stir often and continue adding water or wine as needed to keep the "sauce" consistency, and to keep it from sticking or burning to the bottom of the pan.  This is an important part of the process in creating depth of flavor. So cook it down some and add water or wine for at least the 20 minutes. From there keep cooking and adding liquid for as long as you like... to your taste. Greatness takes time. 

5. Remove from heat. Serve immediately or pour into mason jars and let cool to room temperature. Cover and store in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month. The sauce will thicken some once chilled. When ready to use, reheat over medium heat first then add more wine or water if needed.

We love to pair this sauce with our favorite grain free pasta by Cappello's. It is delicious!

Pictures for Pinterest (just click photo to pin)


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Cherry Cream Pies w/ Chocolate Macaroon Crust(Nut/Grain/Dairy/Egg Free)

These days it seems like waiting around every corner there's a profound and thought provoking new perspective anxiously coiled in anticipation for that bright, illuminating moment when our respective smartphones and tablets spring to life. Poised and ready, these new views seek to challenge us to think different and re-evaluate this thing called life and the vast and inexhaustible mysteries of the human experience. 

It's during times like these that I find myself drawn back to days gone by; to nobler times when the genteel overruled the grotesque and when dignity and propriety were the order of the day. It is from these revered times that I draw the sentiment which so aptly describes how I feel about this particular recipe. It is in the immortal words of the seminal and enduringly timeless rock band Warrant that I find my truth:  
She's my cherry pie, cool drink of water, such a sweet surprise. Tastes so good make a grown man cry....Sweet cherry pie, oh yea
In all seriousness though, I spent a number of my younger years in the "valentine's haters" club. Over the past 16 years of marriage, motherhood, working, sickness, recovery, life etc etc, I've realized that there are a whole lot of things out there that legitimately deserve to be on my 'dislike' list; and at the end of the day.....a holiday that celebrates love and appreciation for the people in my life just isn't one of those things.

And amazingly enough, once I let go of that particular bias, I found that my love of Valentine's day and everything surrounding it has just grown and grown with each passing February. So now I make no apologies for throwing my heart and soul into celebrating it each year. Mind you, I don't think shimmery balloons, teddy bears and cheap chocolates are ever a suitable demonstration of your feelings (unless you count that one year that I completely filled Ben's office with them while he was away at lunch....but that was different), however....I do believe that there is no greater time of year to throw yourself into extravagant, indulgent, luxurious desserts. I mean honestly...."love" always gets a pass right?! And so, in the name of love, I give you this year's offering......

Cherry Cream Pie Tartlets w/Chocolate Macaroon Crusts
Makes 12 mini tarts


Chocolate Macaroon Crust

1 1/2 cups unsweetened extra fine-shredded coconut*
3 tablespoons cocoa powder

Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons coconut oil
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon full fat coconut milk

*I recommend Let’s Do Organic coconut for my recipes

Cherry Cream Filling:

1/2 cup (about one cans worth) of cold coconut cream, like found at the top of a chilled can of coconut milk.
4-5 tablespoons cherry jam (store bought or see recipe below**)
added sweetener if needed

Whipped Cream Topping:

1/2 cup of cold coconut whip cream (as seen above)
Honey or maple syrup if desired, sweeten to taste (1 tablespoon is usually good)
Shaved bittersweet chocolate and/or whole cherries to garnish

All components can be made ahead of time and assembled when desired.

For the crust: 

Makes 12 mini (2 1/2 inch) tartlets. I used this pan...


1. Preheat the oven to 345 degrees. Lightly grease your tart pan then combine all the ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Mix well. 

2. Press the macaroon dough evenly into the tart pans. About 1 rounded tablespoon per mini tart or 3 level tablespoons for the four small shells. Take your time pressing the dough firmly into the pan and shaping the sides for best results. If your house is super warm, chill the unbaked tart shells in the freezer for a few minutes.

3. Bake the mini shells for about 15 minutes (times will vary from oven to oven and size of pan). Check them half way through. Gently press down the center of each tart if it is rounding up, rotate the pan and continue to bake till done. They should be firm to the touch. Let cool completely in the pan or they will break apart. They will be much stronger once cooled.

For the Cherry Chiffon Cream:

4. Transfer the cold coconut cream to your standing mixer bowl (or medium sized bowl if using a hand mixer) and beat on high until thick and fluffy. This can take longer with a hand mixer. Slow the mixer as you add the jam one tablespoon at a time. Increase the speed to high again and beat the mixture for a few more minutes to get the lightest, most airy cream possible. You want the cherry cream to have the texture of softly whipped cream.

5. Clean the beaters and bowl to remove any residual cherry cream, then beat the rest of the coconut cream with the optional sweetener. Beat till light and airy. 

Assembling the tarts:

6. Carefully remove the cooled tart shells from the pan, I usually place a cookie sheet on top of the mini tart pan and flip the shells out onto the sheet. Sometimes they require a little tap to get them all out. Be gentle as the tart shell edges can be fragile.

7. Scoop mounds of the cherry cream into each tart. Using a piping bag fitted with a star tip (or whatever tip you like), pipe a small amount of plain coconut cream on top of the cherry cream. Garnish with shaved bittersweet chocolate and a whole cherry. Serve right away or chill for later use.

Cherry Jam** 

(make a few hours to 3 days in advance)
1 pound fresh or frozen pitted cherries 
1/4 cup Madeira wine or water
1/3 cup honey or maple syrup (more if desired)
1 tablespoon lemon juice 

Directions for making the jam: Gently pulse the cherries in a blender or food processor. Do not puree them, just pulse until the cherries are coarsely ground, leaving some large pieces for texture

Transfer cherries and the rest of the ingredients to a small sauce pan, then bring to a simmer. Cook until the liquid starts to thicken, 20-35 minutes. Stir often toward the end, pulling the spoon across the pan. You'll know it's about done when you pull the spoon through the jam and it takes a second for the juices to fill the space back in.

Remove from heat and allow to cool completely, then chill. The jam will continue to thicken as it cools. 

Pictures For Pinterest (Just click on the photo to pin)