Grain-Free Norwegian Berlinerkranser

My Norwegian grandma would be so proud. I recreated a classic Norwegian Christmas cookie and one that she used to make every holiday season: the Berlinerkranser. This wasn’t the only Norwegian cookie she made during the holidays — there were several, but most of them require special Scandinavian tools to make — tools that I don’t have. Fortunately, nothing fancy is needed to make Berlinerkranser cookies, but they are a little tedious and fussy. It’s so worth it though. When I took that first bite, it was an instant stroll down memory lane.

These delicate cookies are rich and buttery, but not too sweet. They literally melt in your mouth and are fantastic alongside a cup of coffee or tea. In this recipe, they take on a little bit darker color due to the coconut sugar, but I assure you, the lovely flavor is all there. Traditionally, pearl sugar or coarse white sugar is used to adorn the cookies, but I opted for crushed almond slices instead. It still offers texture and a bit of crunch. I did actually try some with coconut sugar sprinkled on top too, but liked the almond slices better.

Oh, and you’ll notice a very interesting thing about these cookies — they contain both cooked and raw egg yolks. This was a piece of trivia for me and as many times as I’ve eaten them, I never knew. The yolks are a highlight and normally give the cookie a light yellow hue, but again, because I used coconut sugar, the yellow color isn’t apparent. Well, I guess it’s there…it’s just hidden!

Meanwhile, I wish you all very happy holidays and much joy!

Cheers!

Adapted from this recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 hard cooked egg yolks, preferably pasture-raised
  • 2 raw egg yolks, preferably pasture-raised
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 cup salted grass-fed butter, softened
  • 2-1/2 cups Paleo Baking Flour blend (I used and recommend this brand)
  • Egg whites, lightly beaten (saved from the raw eggs)
  • 1/2 cup sliced blanched almonds, coarsely chopped

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, mash the hard cooked egg yolks with a fork. Once mashed, whisk in the raw egg yolks until smooth. Then, add the coconut sugar and whisk again until smooth. Mixture will resemble nut butter.
  2. Next, add the flour and the butter, alternating between the two a little bit at a time until it’s all mixed in. It will look crumbly, but will come together when pressed. Split the dough into two thick logs, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for two hours or overnight.
  3. When ready to bake, remove dough from fridge and allow to warm up about 30 minutes before handling it. Then, preheat oven to 375 degrees F, line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat (find HERE).
  4. Divide each log of dough into about 14-15 “snakes” about 1/3″ thick and 4-5″ long. Put half the dough back in the fridge to stay cool while shaping the first half. Carefully shape into overlapped wreaths. Place on the baking sheets and press together to flatten.
  5. Gently brush with egg whites and sprinkle with almonds.
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool on the baking sheet for a little bit and then gently place cookies a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.

Yields: ~30 cookies

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Flourless Dark Chocolate Peppermint Brownies

This time of year is full of indulgences and honestly, there is nothing wrong with indulging, especially when it’s done consciously, with joy, and in the company of those we love. I think whatever we choose to consume shouldn’t leave us feeling crummy though, unless those consequences are worth it and you know what you’re getting into (if you stew over your choice or feel guilty about it after the fact, it’s not worth it). Personally, I want a treat that doesn’t wreck me or send me into a tailspin and make me want all the sweet things. In my opinion, those consequences are not worth it.

Fortunately, there are ways that I can have my cake and eat it too. This holiday brownie recipe fits the bill. It’s made of high-quality ingredients, isn’t too sweet, and doesn’t leave negative after effects. It is, however, decadent, rich in chocolate flavor, and offers a festive dash of peppermint. After all, chocolate and mint are a classic holiday combo. These would be great without the mint though too, so if peppermint is not your thing, go ahead and omit it. Either way, it’s likely these brownies will not last long. We went through two batches quite quickly — just the two of us. It took me a couple batches to get it right, so we ended up with double and both were worth eating!

Meanwhile, catch me making this recipe on KATU Afternoon Live later this afternoon, between 3-4pm PST. Watch the replay of my segment HERE.

Cheers and enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup grass-fed butter, ghee, or coconut oil, melted
  • 3 eggs, preferably pasture-raised
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 drops dietary-safe peppermint essential oil OR 1 tsp peppermint extract (where to get high-quality essential oils)
  • 2 Tbsp full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup cocoa or cacao powder
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup almond meal/flour (I like this brand)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 oz good-quality dark chocolate, finely chopped (I used 88%)

For the ganache:

  • 3 oz good-quality dark chocolate, broken into squares (I used 88%)
  • 3 Tbsp grass-fed butter, ghee, or coconut oil

Garnish:

  • 2 Tbsp melted coconut butter, or to taste (I like this brand)

Directions:

  1. Line a 8×8 baking pan with parchment and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. In a separate medium-size bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, except for the chopped chocolate.
  3. Slowly whisk dry ingredients into wet. Whisk until smooth. Then, fold in the chopped dark chocolate with a spatula.
  4. Pour batter into lined baking pan and bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow brownies to cool in pan.
  5. For the ganache, melt 3 oz dark chocolate and 3 Tbsp butter in a double boiler on the stove, stirring occasionally. Alternatively, you can melt in the microwave, but be sure to do it on a lower power setting and keep a close eye. If your microwave has a melt feature, you can go that route as well.
  6. Once brownies are cool to the touch, pour the ganache on top and spread with a spatula in an even layer or gently shake pan to spread. Chill in the refrigerator until ganache is set. Then, drizzle with melted coconut butter and slice into desired-size squares.

Grain-Free “Rice” Stuffing

This grain-free “rice” stuffing is perfectly savory and tastes like Thanksgiving. It’s flavor and texture is impeccable, and I can’t even fathom how incredible it would taste with turkey. It’s been amazing with chicken, and I think it would also pair well with mild fish, pork tenderloin, and even eggs. If you ask me, it’s a must-have side dish for the holiday season!

Since this stuffing is not grain-based, it doesn’t leave you with that heavy belly, carb coma feeling. Instead, it’s veggie based, light, and leaves you feeling great. No stomach aches or fatigue!

Meanwhile, I went back on KATU Afternoon Live yesterday and made my crustless butternut squash pie. Catch the replay of my segment HERE.

Cheers and enjoy!

P.S. Can you believe it’s only one week until Thanksgiving? Where has this month gone?!

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp grass-fed butter or ghee
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 cups crimini mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 16 oz package cauliflower rice
  • 1 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup turkey or chicken broth, homemade or high-quality store-bought
  • 5.29 oz package roasted & peeled chestnuts, roughly chopped (I used this brand)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped

Directions:

  1. Melt butter in a large pan over medium heat. Once melted, add the onion, celery, and carrot, and sauté 6-7 minutes or until softened.
  2. Next, add the mushrooms, cauliflower rice, poultry seasoning, dried sage, sea salt and black pepper. Stir well and cook for 8-10 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the broth, chestnuts, and fresh parsley. Stir well, cover, and cook for another 12-15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
  4. Lastly, stir in the chopped pecans and serve.

Holiday Highlights

Family Christmas photo

First off, I hope you all had a lovely, relaxing and fun holiday. Ours was wonderful and lots of new memories were made. We spent Christmas Eve with friends, did our own thing on Christmas day (and talked to family back home in Michigan), and went out with another friend to celebrate the day after Christmas.

On another note, Penny D. was the winner of the Paleo Eats giveaway, which I announced last Tuesday morning. Penny, I still have not heard back from you, so please email me ASAP with your mailing address at paleoinportland@gmail.com. If I do not hear from you by end of day on Wednesday, December 31, I will be picking a new winner.

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Anyway, here are some random photos from Christmas. I didn’t take too many, but thought I’d share the handful that I did take. We enjoyed pork tenderloin with apples, onions and a hard cider sauce for dinner, along with cauliflower/parsnip mash and kale sautéed with chanterelle mushrooms. Oh, and we made French toast with the sweet bread from Paleo Eats for breakfast that morning and it was incredible! We ate ours with butter and a little raw honey on top, and a side of bacon. Sadly, I didn’t snap any photos of it…or really any food for that matter.

Meanwhile, I hope you all have a happy New Year! Jesse’s birthday is New Year’s Eve and he’s planned some fun festivities during the day — climbing, go-carts and a shooting range (this part is still TBD). That night, we’ll go out to dinner with some friends. Aside from that, I have a recipe in the works that I plan to make on New Year’s day. Hopefully, it’ll turn out well, so I can share it with you all. I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted one!

Cheers!

Getting a last minute gift for our kitties on Christmas Eve.
Getting a last minute gift for our kitties on Christmas Eve.
Amazing honey toffee shortbread cookies. Made these last year too.
Amazing honey toffee shortbread cookies. Made these last year too.
Opening presents on Christmas morning.
Opening presents on Christmas morning.
In addition to their new scratching post, the kitties enjoyed playing with the wrapping paper on Christmas morning.
The kitties enjoyed playing with the wrapping paper. They love their new kitty condo too.
The beautiful necklace Jesse gave me. I gave him lots of hints about this one!
The beautiful necklace Jesse gave me. I gave him lots of hints about this one!
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Our tree, which is only decorated on the top third.  You know…cats.
At the Multnomah Whiskey Library the day after Christmas. Incredible place!
At the Multnomah Whiskey Library the day after Christmas. Incredible place!

 

It’s the Holiday Season!

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I hope all of you had a nice Thanksgiving and long weekend! Jesse and I did our own little Thanksgiving again, which we always enjoy. We had an invite to a friend’s house, but had already started planning our meal and decided to stay home. I had to help coach the holiday class at the gym and wanted to Skype with my family in Michigan anyway, so staying home made more sense.

Anyway, about the food: I made a pasture-raised turkey the same way I did the last two years — brined for two days (I use New Season’s homemade brine — just chardonnay, bay leaves, sea salt and pepper) then slathered it in homemade herb butter, and stuffed it with fresh lemon, onion and herbs. To go with the turkey, I made cultured cranberries, cauliflower/parsnip mash, paleo green bean casserole and my crustless butternut squash pie for dessert. Everything was so delicious and we’re still enjoying the turkey leftovers.

During the afternoon, while the turkey was roasting, we enjoyed fresh roasted chestnuts (that’s what Jesse is prepping in the picture below) and wine.

Chestnut roasting prep

Turkey, fresh out of the oven

Carving the turkey. The house gets hot!

Thanksgiving side dishes

My Thanksgiving plate

The rest of the long weekend included a little work, brunch with a friend, a little shopping (bought two things), decorating for Christmas and getting our Christmas tree. We did the tree thing legitimately this year and went to a tree farm where you cut the tree down yourself. It was fun and cold!

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Tree hunting

Cutting the tree down!

Hauling the Christmas tree

On Sunday, we decorated the tree a little more and then picked out things to do for 24 Days of Togetherness. We did it last year and enjoyed it so much that we decided to do it again. Like last year, we picked out 12 things together and then each picked six on our own to be a surprise. Our day one pick of, “go out for a meal” put us off to a good start. We had lunch at our paleo restaurant, Cultured Caveman that day. Since then, we’ve picked watch a Christmas movie and wildcard. Today’s is still TBD.

My Cultured Caveman lunch

Jesse at Cultured Caveman

Thanksgiving: A Photo Recap

http://www.squidoo.com/thanksgivingimages

Jesse and I had a wonderful holiday, and hope you did too! Despite having a couple invites, we still decided to do our own thing and stay home, partly because we were already deep in our food planning. We also already had a vision of how we wanted to spend the day.

We both helped coach the holiday workout in town at the gym, but after that, we were home the rest of the day. I had already made some of the dishes and done some prep, so the food stuff was pretty easy. Shortly after getting home, we both called our families to check in, catch up and send our love. Then, midday while the turkey was cooking, we roasted chestnuts and drank wine. When dinner was all ready, we feasted and everything was delicious. Later on after dinner, we enjoyed our butternut squash pie with homemade half & half yogurt on top while watching, Home Alone. Oh, and we did so in our pajamas too — the best!

Our dinner included mashed cauliflower with lots of butter, bacon fat roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon pieces mixed in, spiced cranberry relish and local, pasture-raised turkey. Oh, and pie too, as mentioned above. For the turkey, I brined it for two days (bought the brine from New Seasons — no sugar in it either!), then slathered it in grass-fed butter mixed with fresh herbs and stuffed it with lemon, onion and more fresh herbs. It’s the same way I made my first turkey last year and it tasted just as delicious as the second time around.

Hope you all had a joyous holiday as well.

Cheers!

Jesse, trussing the turkey.
Jesse, trussing the turkey.
Eating freshly roasted chestnuts.
Eating freshly roasted chestnuts with Jesse.
Our turkey, ready for carving.
Our turkey, ready for carving.
Jesse, carving the turkey.
Jesse, carving the turkey.
The side dishes.
The side dishes.
My plate.
My plate.
Eating a messy slice of pie while watching Home Alone. Yes, I changed into my pajamas for this too.
After dinner, eating a messy slice of pie (the first piece never comes out clean) while watching Home Alone.