My mom got me a sugar pumpkin to use as a centerpiece for Thanksgiving, and it’s been cheerfully sitting on my windowsill ever since. It still looked perfectly fine to me (turns out pumpkins last 8-12 weeks), so the other day I decided to roast it. If you have a pumpkin kicking around your house, you should, too! Then you can make this soup. Roasting is much better than rotting, which is what will happen if you put off roasting your pumpkin for too long. Why waste a source of delicious food? While you’re at it, roast the seeds, too. I tossed mine with ghee and sprinkled them with garlic powder, salt, pepper, and sage, and they were amazing!
If you already got rid of all your pumpkins, don’t despair. Canned pumpkin is available in stores year-round, and will work just fine in this recipe.
Pumpkin is great, but the real star of this soup is the humble shallot. When you fry shallots for a long time over low heat, they turn a wonderful shade of golden brown and develop an even richer savory flavor. After that, when you let them dry on paper towels, they crisp up. Not like potato-chip crispy, but a wonderful kind of chewy-crispy–and they’re WAY more delicious than potato chips. You may want to make extra, because with a little salt sprinkled on top, they’re pretty much better than bacon.
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 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!
Ingredients (adapted from Annie’s Eats; makes 36 small but thick bars):
For the crust and topping:
1 and 1/2 cups coconut flour
1 and 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons almond flour
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple sugar (granulated)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest of one lemon
18 tablespoons grass-fed cold butter
1 cup sliced almonds, lightly crushed
For the filling:
1 cup grass-fed milk or coconut milk
1 and 3/4 cup maple sugar
1/2 cup coconut flour
Juice of one lemon
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 and 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
Preheat the oven to 350. Line a 9×13 pan with tinfoil and grease it lightly. To make the crust, combine the flours, sugar, salt, and lemon zest in a food processor (or by hand in a large bowl). Cut the butter into cubes and pulse until the mixture is uniform. If you’re not using the food processor, it’s easiest to mix the dough with your hands. Reserve about 3/4 cup of the mixture to serve as the topping. Press the rest of it into an even layer in the bottom of the pan. Bake for about 12 minutes, until golden brown.
To make the topping, add the crushed sliced almonds to the reserved dough and mix until combined.
To make the filling, whisk together all ingredients except the blueberries until smooth. Gently stir in the blueberries.
When the crust is baked, let it cool for 10-15 minutes, leaving the oven on. Then, pour the filling over, sprinkle the topping evenly over the filling, and bake for about 45 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the middle is just set. Cool completely before cutting–it helps to put them in the refrigerator to firm up. Slice into squares or rectangles and enjoy!
Ingredients (makes about 15 truffles):
For the cheesecake filling:
8 ounces cream cheese
Pinch of salt
1 cup powdered sugar
A few drops of vanilla
For the topping:
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
For the chocolate coating:
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
A few drops of vanilla
Zest the lemon. Set aside half the zest and toss it to coat with the granulated sugar to make the topping. Spread the lemon sugar out on a plate in a thin layer so it can dry out a little. You definitely don’t want to skip this part, because the crunchy, zesty sugar is going to take these truffles from delicious to ridiculous.
Place the other half of the zest in a medium bowl with the cream cheese, salt, sugar, and vanilla. Juice the lemon to obtain three tablespoons of juice, and add them to the bowl, making sure to strain out any seeds. Use a fork to cream this mixture until well combined. Cover the mixture and place it in the freezer for half an hour or so to firm up.
Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. Use a spoon and your fingers to form rounded teaspoon-sized balls of cheesecake mixture and place them on the parchment-lined cookie sheet. Don’t worry if the balls aren’t perfect, because you will have a chance to smooth them out later. Freeze the balls for at least two hours so they’re totally firm.
When your truffles are almost frozen, it’s time to melt the chocolate. Place the chopped chocolate, oil, and vanilla in a microwaveable bowl. The oil is just there to help make the chocolate coating a little bit shiny. Microwave the bowl in thirty-second intervals, stirring in between, until almost melted. Stir until the chocolate is completely smooth. Set the chocolate aside to cool for a few minutes before you dip your truffles.
Line another baking sheet with parchment or wax paper so you’ll have a spot for your dipped truffles. Take the truffles out of the freezer. Working with one ball at a time, roll it quickly between your palms to round it out, then drop it in the chocolate, turning it a little to fully coat it. Use a fork to carefully fish the truffle out of the chocolate. Let the excess chocolate drip off, then carefully transfer the truffle to the parchment paper. Sprinkle the top of the truffle with a little lemon sugar right away. You don’t want to wait until you’ve dipped all the truffles because once the chocolate is hardened the lemon sugar won’t stick.
Once you’ve dipped all the truffles, place the baking sheet in the refrigerator for about half an hour so the chocolate can set. When the truffles are set, they are ready to eat. If you won’t be enjoying them right away, store the truffles in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
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- 4-6 organic lemons
- 1/2-3/4 cup sugar, to taste
- Pinch of salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
- Wash your lemons really well, and zest two of them. Mix the zest with the sugar in a small bowl, rubbing the mixture between your fingers to bring out the flavors of the zest (use ½ cup of sugar for a very puckery curd, and more if you want things a little sweeter). Set the lemon sugar aside (if you want to make extra lemon sugar, it's also delicious as a topping for muffins or cookies).
- Roll the lemons firmly under the palm of your hand to prime them to release the most juice. Juice lemons until you have ¾ cup of lemon juice. Strain out any seeds. Add the juice, lemon sugar, and salt to a saucepan. Warm over medium heat, stirring constantly, until all the sugar is dissolved.
- Beat the eggs and egg yolk together in a medium bowl. While whisking constantly, slowly pour the warm lemon mixture into the eggs. Continue to beat for a minute or so.
- Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over low heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla (the vanilla is optional--you won't really taste it, but it rounds out the flavor).
- Let the curd cool to room temperature, then transfer to a glass jar or another airtight container. Store in the refrigerator. Lemon curd will keep, refrigerated, for up to two weeks.
Ingredients (from The Year in Food):
8-10 organic lemons (depending on how big your jar is)
about 1/2 cup sea salt (I used Maldon)
I love cupcakes! I love them so much that I
named a kitten after them (she was the size of a cupcake when I found
her, so it totally makes sense). To go with my lemon kick, I decided to
create these lemon coconut cupcakes. The bird’s nest idea comes from
Martha and can be found here, and the recipe is inspired by Ina’s in the Barefoot Contessa cookbook and Gaby’s found here.
I know this may not be getting out there in time to be part of your
Easter dinner, but with regular decorating these could be enjoyed
Ingredients (makes 18 cupcakes):
1/2 lb butter (2 sticks) at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3 teaspoons lemon juice
5 eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup coconut milk
3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
Lemony Cream Cheese Frosting (makes enough for 18 cupcakes):
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temp
8 oz. Neufchatel cheese (or cream cheese), at room temp
Zest of one lemon
1/8 tsp. almond extract
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
To fill and decorate:
1 cup lemon curd(about half a recipe)
1 cup toasted sweetened shredded coconut
1 recipe cream cheese frosting
Cadbury mini eggs or other candy eggs
1. Preheat the oven to 325. Cream the butter and sugar in an stand
mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low, add the
eggs one at a time, then add the lemon zest and juice.
2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
3. Add the dry ingredients to to the mixer in three parts, alternating with the coconut milk, and mix just until combined.
4. Fold in the coconut.
5. Divide the batter among the cupcake cups, and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Cream the softened butter and cream cheese together. Sift in the powdered sugar. Add the lemon zest and extracts and mix well.
When the cupcakes are done, cool them completely. Use a paring knife
to cut a cone-shaped piece out of the top of each cupcake, making sure
not to cut all the way down to the bottom. Use a small spoon to fill
the empty cones with lemon curd (and have fun eating the little
cone-shaped pieces of cake! No one is going to miss those!).
Transfer the frosting to a large ziploc bag, and cut off the tip of one corner to make a dime-sized hole. Pipe a circle of frosting onto the outer edge of each cupcake. Sprinkle toasted coconut on top to cover. (To toast coconut, cook it in a dry skillet over medium-low heat until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Don’t turn your back on it because it burns easily.) Then, place 3 Cadbury mini eggs in the middle of each nest.