We’re going nose-to-tail with our zucchini today! I saw these charmingly small organic zucchini at Whole Foods, and was inspired to cook them without trimming the ends off, chopping them up, or turning them into noodles. Sometimes, we just have to let zucchini be! It’s a beautiful vegetable, and when it’s browned like this and braised until tender, you can eat the whole entire thing.
Pork chops and apple compote go together so well, and this paleo recipe from the cookbook Cooking with Coconut Oil is a snap to make!
When I was offered a review copy of Cooking with Coconut Oil by Elizabeth Nyland of Guilty Kitchen, my answer was a resounding YES! I am a huge cookbook junkie, and especially like to read books penned by fellow food bloggers. Also, since I started eating paleo in August, I’ve loved using coconut oil in the kitchen, and was eager to learn more things I could do with it. Today I’m sharing my experience cooking & photographing three amazing recipes from the book, and the recipe for Pork Chops with Apple Compote is at the end of this post!
Cooking with Coconut Oil arrived the day before I left to spend the holidays in Tennessee with Ben’s family, so I did not get to cook with it right away. I had plenty of time to page through it, though, bookmarking recipes I wanted to try and craving almost everything pictured in the gorgeous photographs. This cookbook features a large, full-color photo of every single recipe, which I love. (Cookbooks that only show pictures of some of their recipes are a huge pet peeve of mine–I never want to make any of the un-pictured recipes!) The book also has informational sections that cover the health benefits of coconut oil, details about many of the ingredients used in the book, and ten tips for living a paleo lifestyle. Did you know that the medium-chain-triglycerides in coconut oil improve brain function and can have therapeutic effects on Alzheimer’s patients? Yeah, neither did I!
I’ve always been more of a baker than a cook, but I’m working hard to change that, especially since starting my Whole30. It’s exciting to try lots of different meats in lots of different forms. Yesterday I made pork belly (you can see the before & after pics on Instagram–it was good, but not quite good enough to share with you!). Today I used ground chicken to make meatballs. I am so happy with the way this dish turned out–it’s one of the best savory recipes I’ve made! The meatballs are moist and rich, and the sauce provides the perfect level of tart tomato and roasted garlic flavor.
You heard it here: cranberry is the new pumpkin! I am pretty much ready to put these little red super-berries in everything I make from now until Christmas. I love the depth the tart flavor of cranberries adds to desserts, and they’re great in savory dishes, too.
This recipe is so easy–just two ingredients, and you end up with two delicious and giftable condiments. The cranberry maple syrup would be great on pancakes, but I’m also thinking about incorporating it into a festive cocktail. I’ve already used it as the base for another dessert (involving chocolate) that would make a great gift, so stay tuned! If you want to be really prepared, make a batch of this now and just stash it in your fridge. I promise you won’t be sorry you did!
The cranberry compote is also delicious, and less sweet than the syrup for those of you who don’t want to get a toothache. I used some to make a parfait with yogurt and pecans this morning, and it was amazing. (Holiday parfait–it’s a thing! A delicious thing that rhymes!) You could also spread the compote on toast or even serve it with pork chops.
I had so much fun watching and listening to the cranberries pop while I was making this recipe. It’s more subtle than popcorn, but still great. I tried to make a video of it to post on Instagram, but it turns out I don’t know how to do that. Anyway, it made me think of the song “Get It Poppin’” (warning: explicit lyrics) from ten years ago–it’s a completely ridiculous Fat Joe song where he asks the ladies what they’re gon’ do, and they say “I’ma get-get-get it poppin!” over and over again. So, yes … that song has been stuck in my head since I made this. Still totally worth it, though!
When I lived in Houston, I loved to stop at El Rey Taquería for a big bowl of their tortilla soup, which was packed with chicken, shredded cheese, corn, avocado, and crispy tortilla strips, and also called caldo tlalpeño. The restaurant is open until 3 am on the weekends, and has a drive-through. I miss living the easy life in H-town, with all the drive-throughs, cheap prices, and delicious Mexican food! I decided it was time to make my own caldo tlalpeño up here in the frosty north.
A little research revealed that caldo tlalpeño and tortilla soup are not really the same thing. Tortilla soup usually has tortilla strips in it (shocking, right?), and caldo tlalpeño often has chickpeas and other vegetables like chayote. This is my version of the soup, which combines the best of both worlds. If you can’t find chayote (I found mine at the Vietnamese market), you can use zucchini instead or leave it out.
I was invited to a Hanukah party last night, and needed to bring a dessert that was nut-free and vegan. I wanted to bring a traditional Hanukah dessert, but soon realized I didn’t know of any. I guess I never really made it past the mountains of latkes at my family’s Hanukah celebrations. A quick search revealed that oily, fried foods like jelly-filled doughnuts are often eaten at Hanukah, but I wasn’t about to fry up a big pile of donuts to be eaten hours later. I also don’t really like jelly-filled desserts; I feel that jelly belongs at breakfast. Since I had dreidel and Star of David cookie cutters, I decided Hanukah sugar cookies would have to be traditional enough. I also got out my snowman and snowflake cookie cutters, since winter is almost here.
My next task was to find a great vegan cookie recipe. Since the cookies had to be nut-free, I soon realized it would be very hard to make them gluten-free as well. So, these cookies are a total gluten bomb. I promise to be back with more gluten-free eats very soon!