Browsing Category: special occasion recipes

Sugar-free, dairy-free coffee ice cream

sugar-free ice cream - coffee ice cream

One of my husband’s favorite desserts is coffee ice cream. And for two back-to-back rounds of Whole30, he went without desserts completely. Afterwards, he decided to stick with Paleo permanently — which means there’s room for the occasional, nature-sweetened dessert. So I wondered, could I make a sugar-free ice cream recipe that was also dairy-free, — and stacked up to his favorite brand?

Yes, I can!

I tried one version that included egg yolks, with the whole simmering-and-tempering thing, (and if you want to add some protein, healthy fats, and vitamins to your ice cream, you could certainly go that route). He liked it just fine. But my second time around, I decided to see if I could simplify the process — no cooking required! — and still keep the yum factor.

The verdict: He liked the second version better. Even said, “This beats Marble Slab!” WIN!

This is the brand of coconut milk I like to use. (Link to my Amazon store, but you can get this locally.) And no, you don’t taste coconut in the finished recipe.

Dairy-free sugar-free coffee ice cream recipe

1 c. steaming hot water

2 T. ground coffee; mild or mellow flavor (decaf, if you like)

16 pitted deglet noor dates

1 can coconut milk (read below on how to prepare it*)

1 t. vanilla

Optional: additional sweetener of your choice (I like maple syrup)

sugar free ice cream instructions

Steep the coffee in the hot water for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, check the dates and trim off any stems still attached. Cut each date in half, the short way. Remove any pits you find. Place the chopped dates in a bowl or measuring cup large enough to hold two cups.

Once the coffee is steeped, pour it through a fine sieve over the dates. Leave the fine grounds behind; don’t even try to pour them through.

sugar free ice cream instructions

Let this sit at room temp for one or two hours.

Add the coffee and dates to a blender or food processor and blend till smooth; then add the coconut milk and vanilla and blend again. There will still be some “freckles” of dates in the mixture, but there shouldn’t be any large bits.

sugar free coffee ice cream in the blender

Taste, and add more vanilla or other sweetening if necessary. If your sweet tooth is adjusted to a sugar-free life, it should be plenty sweet as is. Other people may want it sweeter. Feel free to make it your way!

Refrigerate till completely cold – at least a couple hours – then freeze according to your ice cream freezer instructions. If you don’t have an ice cream freezer, you can pour it into a shallow dish or pan and place it in the freezer of your fridge, scraping and stirring it every 20 – 30 minutes till you get the desired texture.

sugar free coffee ice cream in the freezer

The hubs likes it straight-up; I like a few pecans sprinkled on top. I love the contrasting texture, and the slight buttery flavor they add.

sugar free ice cream - coffee with pecans

 

I’m pretty confident this recipe would fool most people: you’d never guess it was sugar free ice cream!

*If you’ve never used canned coconut milk, here’s how to make it as lump-free as possible: Have the can at room temp, not chilled, when you open it. Shake the can well, and open from the bottom. Pour the contents out, then use a spatula to scrape the last bit of coconut cream from the unopened end of the can. There will still be a few lumps, but the blender should get the rest of them.

Want more recipes like this? or looking for Paleo recipes? Check out my cookbook…

 sugar-free dessert cookbook now available

Strawberry poppy seed dressing (sugar-free)

poppy-seed-dressing-salad-cu-600x330

 

I’ve always loved poppy seed dressing, but once I went sugar free, it had to be a very occasional treat. It takes a lot of sugar to balance the onion, and I tried making sugar-free poppy seed dressing, but I found that substituting Splenda ruined the dressing’s ability to cling to the greens. (Back when I ate Splenda.)

Then a few weeks ago, I saw a photo of strawberry poppy seed dressing and it hit me: use the sweetness of strawberries, and you won’t need sugar at all!

sugar-free poppy seed dressing - strawberries make it sweet! #paleo #whole30

This dressing is so easy to make, it’s no trouble for everyday. And it’s so pretty, it can be a star player on a brunch or luncheon table. Especially perfect for a bridal shower, Mother’s Day — or any spring or summer party, really.

I left the onions out of the dressing; with onions in the salad, and with the strawberries bringing the flavor and body to the dressing, they’re not so needed in the dressing.

And yes, this salad is Paleo and Whole30 compliant! Let’s just talk about all the healthiness packed into the salad: spinach, strawberries, olive oil, oranges, pecans – super foods, all! If I weren’t avoiding dairy, I would totally throw some feta cheese in there, too. (Or goat cheese, if you like. Which I don’t.)

sugar-free strawberry poppy seed dressing on spinach salad #paleo #whole30

Sugar-free poppy seed dressing and spinach salad

makes enough for 4 – 6 salads

 

1/2 c. chopped strawberries

2 T. light olive oil, or other light-flavored oil

1 T. mayo (homemade, if ya got it)

1 to 2 T. white balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar)

pinch salt

1 t. poppy seeds

 

Strawberries may be fresh or frozen. If using frozen, chop and measure while still partially frozen, but allow to thaw before blending.

sugar-free poppy seed dressing; paleo, whole30Combine all ingredients except for poppy seeds in a blender container, using only 1 T. of vinegar to start with. Blend till smooth. Taste, and add 1 t. of vinegar at a time until it’s as tangy as you want it. (Remember, being spread out on the spinach will make it a bit milder.)

Pour into a jar for storage, then add poppy seeds and stir.

Chill till ready to use. Can be served immediately, but tastes best the next day.

for four salads:
6 – 8 oz. baby spinach
1/4 small red onion
2 navel oranges or cara cara oranges
chopped pecans, to taste

Tear the spinach into bite-size pieces, and cut the onion into thin, short slices.

Cut the tops and bottoms off the oranges, then slice the peel and pith off of them. (To see what I mean, watch 0:20 – 1:30 of this video: how to peel an orange.) Then tear the sections apart, and cut into pieces that will fit neatly on a fork.

Aren’t they pretty in the sunlight?

orange segments for spinach salad

Assemble the salads ahead of time, or let guests build their own. If making ahead of time, the spinach and onions may be stored together in the same bowl. The acid from the oranges and the salt in the dressing would begin to break the spinach down, so don’t store them together. Pecans might get soggy, so keep them separate as well.

spinach salad with sugar free poppy seed dressing #paleo #whole30

 

Pin that purty thang!

sugar-free poppy seed dressing, sweetened with strawberries, on spinach salad. Paleo, whole30

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New to eating gluten-free? Or thinking of going Paleo?

Check out my 20-Day Countdown to a New Way of Eating!

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Coconut Shrimp on Spinach Mango Salad

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My husband’s favorite Paleo/Whole30 dinner:
This Coconut Shrimp recipe from Paleo Leap…
Paleo/whole30 dinner: coconut shrimp on mango spinach salad

…on top of this Asian Spinach Salad recipe from Love and Olive Oil (with some mangos added)…

Paleo/whole30 dinner: mango spinach salad
…got us this deeelicious dinner tonight!
Paleo/whole30 dinner: coconut shrimp on mango spinach salad
I made the shrimp without any changes, and added mango to the salad. (Any eagle-eyed readers might also notice sunflower seeds in the bowl, but I think they were unnecessary.) Taste- and texture-wise, the avocado got lost in the mix, I think, but it adds a nice color to the visual experience. And, of course, some healthy fats!
Tasting the dressing as the recipe calls it, I was worried it would be too sour, so I added some fresh-squeezed orange juice and a bit of date paste, but once I tasted it mixed into the whole salad, with the sweetness of the mangoes and oranges, I’m not sure that was necessary.
The contrast between the delicately crunchy shrimp and the smooth mangoes, between the tart dressing and the sweet fruit — mmmwah!

This is Whole30 compliant! If I weren’t avoiding processed foods, I’d be tempted to buy ready-breaded coconut shrimp to speed the process. It wasn’t hard; just kinda time consuming. Might go a little quicker if you had a two-person assembly team.

Easy, make-it-your-own fish taco bar

fish tacos - how to set up a fish taco bar

I was recently asked for my recipe for fish tacos. “It’s not so much a recipe,” I said, “as it is a collection of ingredients.” Which makes it great for feeding a group with diverse tastes or dietary needs: just set up your fish taco bar and let guests create their own.

And much of it can be done ahead of time: everything except for the avocado can be sliced, chopped, or mixed ahead of time. The fish can be seasoned ahead of time, but will taste best if it’s made just before serving.

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Crockpot Green Bean Casserole

campbell-s-classic-green-bean-casserole

Save your oven for other things, and save some day-of panic: Here’s the classic green bean casserole that everyone wants for Thanksgiving, tweaked to work in a crock pot / slow-cooker, and with optional make-ahead instructions.

Slow-Cooker Green Bean Casserole Recipe

Slow-Cooker Size: 4- to 6-quart       Makes 16 to 20 servings

30 oz. fresh or frozen green beans, cooked and well-drained
2 (10 3/4-oz.) cans cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
or make your own
1/4 to 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella
2 (4.5-ounce) jars sliced mushrooms, drained  (optional)
1 T. dried minced onion (omit if using garlic-flavored soup)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 – 1.5 t. kosher salt (taste before adding)
1 (6-ounce) can French-fried onion rings (omit for gluten-free, or sub onion strings pan-fried in just oil)

Combine first six ingredients in a large bowl. (Beans thru pepper.)

Optional: Store covered in your fridge until ready to cook. Add an extra hour of bake time because it will be cold when it goes in the crockpot.

Spoon casserole mixture into a lightly greased slow cooker.

Cover and cook on LOW 2 hours. (3 hours if all ingredients are refrigerated.)

Taste and add salt as necessary. Sprinkle onion rings on top of casserole. Cover and cook on LOW 30 more minutes.

(I’ve lost the source for this recipe. If you recognize it, please comment.)

image: campbellskitchen.com

Thanksgiving and Christmas food prep FAQs

Holiday food prep tips and checklists; how long to cook turkey, ham, vegetables, and more.

Trying to plan a Thanksgiving or Christmas meal?

Here are some tips, calculators, and checklists.
roasted turkey; how long to cook, and other tips

Turkey

cave-tools-thermometerFor any meat, a meat thermometer is the essential gadget to make sure your meat comes out perfectly every time. 
Image from farmflavor.com

Ham

Image from campbellskitchen.com

Vegetables

  • Make-ahead crockpot green bean casserole. Save your oven for other things, and save some day-of panic: Here’s the classic green bean casserole that everyone wants for Thanksgiving, tweaked to work in a crock pot / slow-cooker, and with optional make-ahead instructions. Classic green bean casserole for crockpot.
  • Low-carb substitute for mashed potatoes. If you’ve tried mashed cauliflower and been disappointed, maybe you just didn’t add enough fat! Try this recipe.
  • Roasted vegetables timetable. The number one must-do side dish at our house — besides the turkey, of course. Oh, and pumpkin pie! Okay, the third-most popular dish: roasted vegetables. A slow roast works oven magic, turning onions, carrots and bell peppers into sugar-free candy-sweet goodness! Here’s a timetable for roasted vegetables: what goes into in the oven when, to make everything come out perfect.
This is my favorite pan for roasted vegetables, and anything else that can be made on a rimmed cookie sheet: USA Pan Jelly Roll Pan.* LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS PAN!!! Bakes evenly, rinses off like brand-new teflon every time. Everyone in my house has been threatened to not even think of co-opting this for some craft or garage project!
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All foods: How much per person?

  • Here’s a thorough chart from Good Housekeeping, showing per-person serving recommendations for 8, 10, 12, 16, 20 and 24 people, for 10 popular holiday foods. It includes turkey, stuffing, potatoes, green beans, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, pie, and more. View the pdf.

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Holiday meal planning checklists and calculators

  • An Excel spreadsheet that you can plug your number of guests into (including how many are vegetarians!), and it tells you how much food to buy. The page where you download it is a little confusing; just scroll down until you see this:
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Would you rather have pictures?

Here’s a well-done info graphic from The Savory, showing turkey thawing time, brining time, brining recipe, roasting time, and more. This image is only one small part of it:
Image from The Savory
Pin it for later!
Here's all your holiday food prep and meal prep info: tips, checklists, recipe links, and more!
* Note: Product links in this post are to my Amazon store where I get a smidgen of the sales, but I truly use and fanatically love every product I link to.
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Tabletop photo by Gabriel Garcia Marengo on Unsplash
Turkey photo by Alison Marras on Unsplash
Baking photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

20 Cranberry Sauce Recipes

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A variety of cranberry sauce recipes, for Thanksgiving or Christmas…

Cranberry Sauce Recipes
image: OurFamilyEats

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Roasted or Baked Cranberry Sauce

Simple Roasted Cranberries (Gluten Free, Grain Free, and Paleo) from OurFamilyEats. I love that this one really is simple, and that it uses maple syrup for the sweetener.

Bobby Flay’s Baked Cranberry Sauce, which calls for finishing it off with a quarter cup of bourbon. Some reviewers substituted other liquor or liquers (orange being a popular flavor). 41 reviews, and every one of them 4-star!

Roasted Cranberry Sauce with Herbed Candied Walnuts, from Bon Appetit. Lots of sugar in this one!

Boozy and Baked Cranberry Sauce. Even though it has “boozy” in the name, its alcohol content is much less than Mr. Flay’s. Also looks easy: just four ingredients.
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Sugar-Free Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Sauce Recipes
image: The Vintage Mixer
And another “sugar-free” cranberry sauce recipe, but it uses honey. You could sub maple syrup or your preferred sweetener. It also includes crushed pineapple; interesting!
And another. This one calls for Equal, but a couple commenters said they used Splenda and it worked well.
Paleo-friendly cranberry sauce; uses apple juice and maple syrup for sweetener. (Listed as

Paleo/GF/DF/EF/SF/NF)

Another Paleo cranberry sauce, from nomnompaleo, using sweet cherries and apple juice.

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Traditional Stove-Top Cranberry Sauce Recipes

Cranberry Sauce Recipes
image: Simply Recipes
Every recipe I’ve ever tried from Elise at SimplyRecipes has been great. Here’s her traditional recipe. But she also suggest various add-ins. I might try blueberry!
(And her recipe is the same as the most popular cranberry sauce at AllRecipes; more than 1200 reviews, and still five stars!)
Another classic cranberry sauce recipe; this one from Pioneer Woman. Similar to the others, but uses maple syrup in place of sugar, and orange juice in place of white sugar.
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Unique Cranberry Sauce Recipes

This page at Fun & Food Cafe features five different cranberry sauce recipes, with unusual ingredients. I like the sound of the second one, which has raspberries and walnuts!
Ginger Cranberry Sauce, via RecipeLion.
Another from the same source: Cranberry Sauce with Apples (and Mandarin oranges, and pineapple).
How about Cranberry Sauce with Jalapenos? I think that would be a big hit with smoked turkey.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Please, sir: May I have some more pudding?

lemon-pudding-cake-bread-pudding-montage-550x270

Because it’s the day before Christmas, and I still have TONS to do, I’m going to make this post short.

My daughter and my BFF and I got together yesterday and made some yummy, yummy recipes. First time we’d ever made these, and they both get three enthusiastic, sugar-high thumbs up!

Warm Lemon Pudding Cakes, via Seasons & Suppers. As the three of us tasted our first bites, we were all rendered speechless, except for satisfied, “mmmm’s, all around. As it bakes, the mixture separates into two layers: a creamy layer on the bottom that’s similar in taste and texture to a very tart lemon curd, topped by a thin layer of super-light fluffy cake.
We made these in 4 oz. Mason jars. (Everything’s better in a jar!) Super cute, and — PLEASE NOTE: in these small jars, they only take about 15 minutes to bake. We still used the hot water bath method called for in the recipe.

Bread Pudding Cupcakes, by Sugar Derby. We left out the raisins, subbed pecans, and didn’t bother with the cream cheese frosting. Either plain, or topped with a bit of the neighbor’s homemade salted caramel sauce, they were fabulous!

These will both definitely be part of our best desserts list now. Should be in yours, too.

Merry Christmas to all!