Happy Tuesday all!

Guess what? I start my new job tomorrow! Yay! I’m pretty darn excited if you can’t tell. I don’t really want to state out loud where I am working because I know that I have celebrity status around these here parts and don’t need the paparazzi knocking down my door. I saw one in the bushes at Whole Foods the other day and in my best fashion, lugging two huge recyclable shopping bags full of groceries, I somehow managed to casually slip my wide-rimmed Michael Kors shades over my eyes, a la Kim Kardashian. Of course, I was abruptly awoken back to reality as I heard a car horn blaring…it came from one of those “over-eager, I can’t find a spot in the Whole Foods parking lot and I’m on my lunch break, so I guess I will just have to fit my 4×4 Diesel Chevy into the parking spot reserved strictly for small, electric cars.” A girl can dream, can’t she? 

Anyway, we all know that I am no celebrity, because if I was one, I would have sent my assistant to pick up my groceries for me. That’s a total lie. I really enjoy grocery shopping. It’s therapeutic. Speaking of therapeutic, cooking is totally my #1 therapy. No doubt. I cooked practically all day yesterday, Michael Buble’ playing in the background, before I knew it…12 o’clock had turned into 5 o’clock. Let me show you how I do therapy. 

Exhibit A: Pork Chop
Raw meat…lovely.

Make it sexy. Pan sear it.

Ready for the close-up.

Make a sweet, yummy glaze and a side of roasted fruit to go with it.

Pour that glaze on top of the pork, top with the fruit or eat on the side…
I spoil my parents.

Gasp! Call your therapist and tell him you are canceling all of your future sessions.
Pork…it’s the new therapy. You can thank me later! 

Pan Seared Pork Chops with Maple Apple Butter Glaze and Roasted Cinnamon Apples:

Pan Seared Pork Chops:

1 butterflied pork chop (mine was a little over a pound), trimmed of excess fat.
1/4 c. oil (I used olive oil)
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Heat a large saute pan or non-stick skillet with 1/4 c. oil over medium heat.
2. Season both sides of the pork chop with salt and pepper.
3. Add the pork chop to the pan, sear on both sides, about 5-6 minutes.
4. Transfer the pork chop to a plate and let it rest for a few minutes.
5. Serve drizzled with glaze and topped with cinnamon apples.

Maple Apple Butter Glaze:

1/4 c. pure maple syrup
1/4 c. apple butter 
juice of 1 tangerine
1 T. Dijon mustard
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. In a medium sauce pan, combine all glaze ingredients and gently heat until medium warm. Remove from heat and set aside until serving.

Roasted Cinnamon Apples:

2 apples, peeled, cored, and roughly chopped into square pieces
1 T. cinnamon
1 T. brown sugar
juice of 1 lemon

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Toss everything together in a small mixing bowl.
3. Place the apple mixture in a baking dish, cover, and bake for 45 minutes, turning the apples with a spatula every 15 minutes.
4. Serve alongside pork.


Packing on the Pounds.

Let’s get fat together.

Not really. 

You know what I mean.

It’s Fat Tuesday, and you deserve it. 

You have worked really hard since Monday, and I bet you spent the entire weekend tossing multi-colored beads into the air while screaming “Laissez les bons temps rouler,” (Let the good times roll). You may have even eaten a Beignet…or two, to pre-game for Fat Tuesday. Or maybe you indulged in a big bowl of seafood gumbo. 

Whatever you do to celebrate, eat, mangia! Eat a lot of good food, because, soon you may have to give it up, for Lent that is. I know that some of you are giving up your Friday night, and maybe Monday-Sunday night, desserts that involve everything from a thick slice of molten chocolate cake to a gallon of Blue Bell Homemade Ice Cream. Please, just do me this last favor, and…

eat these. 
 without really indulging at all.

You can thank me later.

Paleo Chocolate Cupcakes (recipe adapted from Health Bent):

For the Cupcakes:
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1/3 c. coconut flour
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/2 c. melted coconut oil
1/2 c. coconut milk (I used Thai Kitchen)
1 t. vanilla extract
2 brown, spotty bananas
3 T. granulated sugar

For the Chocolate Ganache:
1/3 c. dark chocolate chips
2 T. coconut milk

For the White Writing Glaze (just for kicks, and Optional):
1/4 c. melted coconut oil
1/4 c. or more of powdered sugar (you want the glaze to be a thick paste)

For the Toasted Coconut:
1/2 c. large flaked coconut


For the Cupcakes:
1. Preheat oven to 350 F and place liners in a 12 c. muffin tin.
2. In a mixing bowl, mash the bananas with a fork. Add vanilla, coconut milk, coconut oil, eggs, and yolks. Whisk everything together to combine.
3. Sift the coconut flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking soda over the mixing bowl.
4. Portion out the batter into the muffin tins, about 2 tablespoons full for each cup.
5. Bake for approx. 20 minutes until the center of the cupcakes feel springy, not mushy.
6. Once the cupcakes are cool enough to handle, remove them from the muffin tin and let them chill in the refrigerator.

For the Ganache:
1. In a small bowl, combine the chocolate and coconut milk. Microwave for 30 seconds, until the chocolate starts to look melty. Whisk well to combine.
2. Dunk the heads of the cupcakes into the ganache, twirling them around to get them nicely coated. Eat a.s.a.p. or refrigerate until the ganache firms up.

For the White Writing Glaze:
1. Whisk together the ingredients and shove into a pastry bag or zip-top bag, snip the tip off the corner of the bag. This glaze gets pretty hard, so you need to work quickly, before it becomes impossible to squeeze off.

For the toasted Coconut:
1. Spread the coconut out evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
2. Bake at 350 F for 6 minutes or until slightly golden brown.

Note: You can choose to decorate the cupcakes withe the glaze or the toasted coconut. I did both!

Don’t forget to Enter my CHOBANI GIVEAWAY! You have until tonight at 12 midnight Central Time to Enter! Enter Now!


Secret Recipe Club and duh…another Meatless Monday!!!

I could really just eat the batter by itself…

One little loaf

Do you like my hardwood floors? Only decent background I have…

Ready to be devoured…

Happy Monday all!
What better way to begin Monday than with a Secret Recipe Club reveal. I am telling you, I love being apart of this wonderful club. This is my third month of participation and I am on a roll! I must admit that I have been having withdrawals lately, surprisingly this withdrawal has to do with my former roommate, my little sis. As many of you know, my lil sis Leslie has celiac disease and has been a HUGE part of my inspiration for creating gluten-free dishes on my blog. Anyway, last Sunday morning I was super excited when Les and I met for a coffee/study date after not seeing each other for a week. She drives me insane, but I still love her and miss living with her (okay, maybe not the living part…but I still miss her). Anyway, I was so psyched I put on my best baking shoes and whipped up a gluten-free treat for her. Now, you know I can’t explain a recipe without a story, so here goes nothing. When Les and I were young we would travel with our parents to Phoenix to visit our relatives. Well, one thing I absolutely love about going on vacay with the fam is that you get to try new restaurants. One morning we all hopped into the car and headed to Mimi’s Cafe for breakfast. At the time, there were currently no locations in Texas so we had no idea what to expect. Now, I vaguely remembered what I ordered, maybe it was eggs and sausage or an omelet? who cares…all that was worth remembering was Mimi’s fabulous carrot raisin nut loaf that they brought out. It was served hot, chock full of raisins that burst in my mouth, colorful shredded carrot, and crunchy walnuts. I spread a bit of butter on that thing and went to town! Ever since then, Mimi’s has had me hooked, and lucky for me they have one in Austin, a hop, skip, and a jump away from my living quarters. Anyway, I realized how much I missed going to Mimi’s with my sis and how she absolutely loved the bread…when she could eat it. So, I decided to recreate the bread in gluten-free form. What what? I am one awesome sister because this bread was fabulous. At the same time I was browsing through the recipe index of my assigned secret blog this month, which I am happy to reveal is Lana from Never Enough Thyme . Coincidentally, Lana just so happened to have a recipe for Carrot-Raisin Muffins…you can imagine how ecstatic I was! A little background info. about Lana: she is a southern belle from Georgia who, like myself, comes from a big family. I think she knows a thing or two about cooking for a big group of people. I feel that we can relate to one another because her recipes, like mine, come from the heart. I LOVE cooking for my family and friends, not just for myself, I feel that I put so much passion and heart into everything I make. My goal is to have people experience that love in my dishes. I can say with certainty that my sis was definitely feeling the love in the gluten-free carrot-raisin walnut bread I made for her. She choked it down immediately, and didn’t cease to give me some feedback…saying she wished she had a bit of yogurt to spread on it. Regardless, she said she was in heaven! I felt so great! Now, Lana’s Carrot-Raisin Muffins are actually pretty dang healthy. She uses non-fat yogurt, unsweetened applesauce, and egg beaters in her batter, which if you ask me if pretty darn brave for a traditional southern cook. Usually, I would expect to see a stick of butter and a slab of bacon in any southern recipe…so, Go Lana, good for you! While the muffin sounded like a good idea, I just couldn’t help baking my bread off using my tiny loaf pans. They do a good job every time and I wanted to recreate that memory from Mimi’s that my sister and I shared. Go check out Lana’s blog because she has some excellent recipes, I am not even kidding…I cannot wait to try them all! On a last note, if you have a food blog and are interested in joining the SRC, you can sign up to participate here!

Gluten-Free Carrot-Raisin Walnut Bread:

3 c. almond flour
2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbs. ground cinnamon
1/4 c. grapeseed oil
1/2 c. agave nectar
5 large eggs
3 c. grated carrots
1 c. raisins
1 c. chopped walnuts

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F. Spray 4 mini loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Using an electric mixer, combine almond flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the grapeseed oil, agave nectar, and eggs.
4. Using the electric mixer, stir the wet ingredients into the almond flour mixture until thoroughly combined.
5. Fold in the carrots, raisins, and walnuts.
6. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared cake pans.
7. Bake for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean.
8. Let the bread cool in the pans for 20-30 minutes, then serve.

To view more great recipes from this month’s Secret Recipe Club follow the links below!