Lemon Meringue Pie = Chemistry in the Kitchen

lemon-meringue-pieHello and happy day to you. I hope that the weather is just as spectacular in your neck of the woods as it is for me. I thought I would take a break from being outside to share a recipe with you that I tried for the first time two weeks ago. It was MIL’s birthday and to celebrate, I thought I would try making one of her favorite desserts, lemon meringue pie. I was a bit hesitant at first because I had heard that these pies can be tricky to make, so I decided to hedge my bets by also making a chocolate cream pie. That way, if the meringue didn’t work out, I could pretend that it never happened and still have a tasty dessert to share.

I started by baking the pie crust – all was well at that point. Next came the ingredients for the lemon filling. I poured the agave, cornstarch, water and egg yolks into the saucepan and stirred continuously while heating. At first, the ingredients swirled in the pan like an odd assortment of messy debris. I looked away for a moment to mention something to SensitiveHusband, and when I turned back I saw a smooth, glistening, even-colored vision of dessert. It was a fine hour for chemistry in our kitchen!

The last piece to make was the meringue topping. Into my stand mixer went the egg whites and agave. I set the mixer to high and watched the mixture slosh around for a bit. After a short time, the liquid turned into a fluffy, voluminous meringue. I stood there, amazed for a moment, and then turned off the mixer. Another score for chemistry in our kitchen!

lemon-meringue-pie2This pie is actually fun to make, especially cool if you ever enjoyed science class, and everyone who sampled it that evening really enjoyed it. Of course, we all had to also try the chocolate cream pie since no dessert should go to waste. It’s a very summery treat for the season.

This recipe calls for only three eggs, which is a good thing since the price for wholesale chicken eggs increased 84.5% from May to June. This increase was the largest single-month jump since 1937, when the first records were started. Why the price increase? It’s because the Avian flu killed 49 million chickens during the past winter, according to CNN, thereby reducing the supply.

This recipe is adapted from Gluten Free & More‘s April/May 2015 issue, to remove all of the refined sugar.

3/4 cup light agave syrup
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup cold water
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
zest of 1 (or 2) lemons
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter
1 (9-inch) pie crust*, baked
3 egg whites

*If you are looking for a ready-made crust without refined sugar, Pillsbury has a refrigerated version. For a refined sugar free homemade crust, try my graham cracker version. If you are looking for a gluten free pie crust, there are many store-made products and homemade recipes available.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium saucepan, combine 1/2 cup agave and cornstarch. Stir in water until smooth. Stir in egg yolks.

Stirring constantly, bring mixture to a boil over medium heat and boil one minute. Remove from heat. See the chemistry!

Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice and butter.

Spoon hot filling into baked pie crust.

In a small bowl with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer, at high speed, beat egg whites until foamy. Add remaining 1/4 cup agave and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Chemistry again!

Spread meringue evenly over hot filling, sealing to the edges of the crust.

Bake pie 15-20 minutes or until golden.

After cooled, refrigerate until served.

Homemade Two-Pea Burgers (yeast free, sugar free)

Veggie BurgersA few weeks ago I hosted a cookout in celebration of SensitiveHusband’s birthday. We had a really nice time visiting with family and friends. I ordered a few side dishes from our local grocery store so that I didn’t have to feel like I was spending my whole day in the kitchen. The menu turned out great! For appetizers there were cooked shrimp, cheese and crackers, and watermelon. Dinner included fruit salad, Greek salad, pasta salad, hamburgers, hot dogs, and veggie burgers. The meal was topped off with MIL bringing the flourless chocolate cake.

While most of our guests that evening were carnivores, a couple of guests were egg-eating vegetarians. Since I don’t typically purchase veggie burgers at the store, my trip down that aisle left me a bit dazed and confused. There are a lot of commercial veggie burger options available, but which ones taste the best? I decided to solve the matter by making my own. I was inspired by a recipe in Martha Stewart’s May 2015 Living magazine for Green-Pea Burgers with Harissa Mayo. I didn’t make the mayo because I figured that our friends would enjoy the tomato, lettuce, cucumber and condiments available for all the burgers. I swapped out the onion for garlic, and used wheat germ instead of breadcrumbs so that my creation would also be onion and yeast free. I added an extra egg white to get the consistency I wanted when forming the burgers. You may want to add a little olive oil also to east the burger making process. They are delicate to cook but flipped fairly easily in a non-stick skillet with a flexible spatula. The burgers are quite tasty and were well-received by all of the guests at our picnic. These will definitely be part of our cooking repertoire from now on.

1 cup frozen peas, thawed
Coarse salt
1/2 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 large egg plus 1 egg white, whisked together
3/4 cup wheat germ
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Coarsely chop the peas and chickpeas either with a knife on a cutting board or using a food processor. Transfer to a bowl and stir in garlic, parsley, eggs, and wheat germ. Season with salt. Form into 4 patties, each about 3/4 inch thick.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium. Cook burgers until golden brown, about 4 minutes on each side. Serve with any condiments or toppings you choose.

Lemons to Lemonade to Limoncello

Happy Independence Day everyone! I hope that you are having an enjoyable holiday weekend. This time of year presents a bit more time – for being outdoors, for enjoying visits with friends and family, and for changing up schedules from the normally hectic to something less so. And time is something you will need for these recipes, although the preparations are easy and only require a few ingredients. The results are refreshing and perfect for warm summer afternoons.

LemonsFor these two recipes I used lemons, similar to what is seen in my photograph. The lemon on the left is the conventional fruit found in most supermarkets. The middle lemon is organic, which is great for recipes that require the use of the skin. A Meyer lemon is pictured on the right, smaller than a regular lemon with an orange skin. Meyer lemons are a touch sweeter and have a bit of an orange flavor, and can be a nice complement to any of these recipes. For making lemonade, any combination of these lemons will do, but for the limoncello I would recommend the organic lemon or Meyer lemon, since the skins will be soaking for quite awhile and any pesticides that are on the skins would end up in the beverages.

Let’s start with the limoncello: I found a great recipe at The Kitchn and I used a combination of lemons: five Meyer lemons and five organic lemons. There are a number of ways to modify the beverage to make it sweeter or stronger with lemon depending on the ratio of sweet to water and how long the lemon peels steep in the alcohol. I let the lemon peels steep for a full month, but you can let them soak for as little as four days. And when making the simple syrup, you can create any ratio of sweet and water between one cup of each to four cups of each. So I tried two cups of each and we liked the result very much. Instead of using cane sugar, I used a light agave syrup, and the results were great. Once I peeled the lemons, I used the juice to make the lemonade recipe (recipe follows below).

Limoncello: Ingredients
10 organic lemons, washed and dried
1 750-ml bottle vodka (100-proof preferred, or 80-proof)
1 to 4 cups light agave nectar (I used 2 cups)
1 to 4 cups water (I used 2 cups)

Limoncello: Equipment
Vegetable peeler, microplane or zester
Paring knife
1 quart jar or other similar-sized container with a lid
Bowl with spout (or four-cup measuring cup)
Small funnel
2 clean 16-ounce bottles or several bottles equalling similar volume (I used three clean, empty Grolsch beer bottles)

Limoncello: Preparation
1. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the peels from the lemons. Try to remove only the outer yellow skin and as little of the pith as possible.
Lemon Peels in Vodka2. Transfer the lemon peels to a 1-quart jar and cover with vodka. Screw on the lid. Let the vodka and lemon peels infuse somewhere out of the way and out of direct sunlight for at least four days or as long as one month. The longer the vodka infuses, the more lemony the limoncello.
3. After the lemon and vodka have infused, Set a strainer over a bowl with spout or four-cup measuring cup. Pour the vodka through the strainer so that the lemon peels are removed from the liquid.
4. Prepare a sweet syrup of at least 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar (I used two cups of each). Bring the water to a simmer and stir in the agave to dissolve; allow to cool.
5. Pour the cooled sweet syrup into the bowl with the strained vodka. Mix. Distribute the contents into your storage bottles. The limoncello keeps indefinitely in the freezer.

To make lemonade, you can use the juice from the lemons you just peeled to make limoncello, or bypass that step to only make this refreshing beverage. I substituted the cane sugar with light agave nectar and the results again were very nice.

Lemonade: Ingredients
1 cup light agave nectar
5 cups water, divided
6 to 8 lemons (about 1 cup of lemon juice)

Lemonade: Preparation
Lemonade1. Combine the agave and 1 cup of the water in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer over low heat to dissolve the agave. Once the sweet is completely dissolved, remove from heat to cool.
2. Roll each lemon over a cutting board, pressing down as you do, to help them to release their juice. Cut in half and squeeze. Repeat until you have one cup.
3. Add the cooled sweet syrup to a pitcher, then the lemon juice and the remaining four cups of water. Stir. Taste and adjust – add a tablespoon of agave if you want it to be sweeter or the juice of 1/2 lemon if you prefer more tartness.
4. Add ice to pitcher if you think you will drink all the lemonade right away. Otherwise add ice to each glass.

Snickerdoodles (Paleo, Vegan, Gluten/Cane Sugar/Egg/Dairy Free)

Greetings and Happy Daylight Savings Time for those of you who are participating. Even though winter continues to hang around, there are some small signs of spring. This week, we started hearing birds singing outside of our window early in the morning. And yesterday while the sun was out, the strength of the rays warmed my cheeks.

Today is going to be a baking day for me. SensitiveHusband and I were out and about for much of yesterday, so we are keeping things close to home today. The oven has already helped me to bake a batch of cookies. I think some more baked goods are in store for us today…especially since our heater is being a bit temperamental and having the oven on really heats the place up!

Speaking of cookies, I would like to share with you a recipe for Snickerdoodles that my sister-in-law found. We made them together, altering the recipe slightly, and combined our baking time with a cinnamon taste test. Cinnamon has been in the news lately because studies have shown that there can be health benefits but perhaps the reverse is true if too much is consumed over a long period of time. Feel free to read more about the health discussion here. How do each of the cinnamons taste? We decided to try a side-by-side comparison.

cinnamonThe spice called ‘China Cinnamon’ (often called ‘cassia’) was the same as the offering at a typical grocery store. The medium brown color and texture were pleasing, and the taste was like a ground-up cinnamon stick. Our sample of the ‘Ceylon Cinnamon’ provided a new flavor for us, one with hints of the typical cinnamon flavor but also with a smell and taste of citrus.

We baked half of the batch of snickerdoodles with the China Cinnamon, and the other half using the Ceylon variety. Both were delicious although we thought the Ceylon provided an extra bright and perky taste that was really pleasant.

Checking the costs online, the Ceylon cinnamon was slightly more than the regular variety, anywhere from $0.60 to $1.25 more per bottle.

snickerdoodlesIngredients: Cookies
2 cups almond flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup melted coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Ingredients: Cinnamon coating
2 tablespoons coconut palm sugar or maple sugar (optional)
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line and grease or line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium sized bowl, combine dry ingredients; mix together well. In a separate bowl, mix together the oil, maple syrup, vanilla and lemon juice. Add the wet ingredients to the almond flour mixture and mix until combined. Let rest for a few minutes – it will thicken up a bit.

Combine the sugar (optional) and ground cinnamon in a small bowl.

Scoop out the dough with a tablespoon, then gently form into a ball. Roll in the cinnamon mixture. Place the balls of cookie dough on the baking sheet, about 3 inches apart.

Gently flatten flatten each cookie using your hands or a jar. Dip the bottom of the jar in some of the sugar and spice mixture to help keep the cookie from sticking to the jar.

Bake for 8-9 minutes. Leave cookies on the cookie sheet while cooling. They may seem under-baked at first, but they will firm up to the right texture as they cool.

The Egg-onomics of Cost Sensitive Chocolatey Cookies

Last week the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released national price data, which showed that egg prices were up 7.7% in December, and 10.7% over the past year. The American Institute for Economic Research attributes the price hike to two factors: (1) the avian flu in Mexico, which reduced that country’s domestic supply and increased demand for U.S. eggs, and (2) new regulations in California, the fifth-largest egg-producing state in the U.S., which now requires that hens have enough space to stand up and turn around, thereby increasing costs. Both of these reasons should make the increase in egg prices temporary, but for now, the egg cartons at the grocery store come with higher price tags.

Before you panic about the increasing cost of your omelette, there is hope! Especially if your ingredients include cheese or milk. That’s because the cost of milk is dropping. According to the Associated Press, milk sales set records in 2014 but due to overproduction the prices have fallen and are expected to continue to drop through 2015.

So how does all of this news affect the SensitiveEconomist Cookie Price Index? The price per batch in February 2015 is down 3% overall compared with February 2012. Prices for agave, whole wheat flour, and vanilla extract have decreased; while prices for the chocolate, all purpose flour, butter, local honey, and eggs have all risen. cookie_index_Feb2015

What’s a SensitiveEconomist to do with all of this information? Make cost-sensitive and refined sugar free cookies, of course! I used Ellie Krieger’s recipe for Triple Chocolate Cookies, with some modifications. I substituted the cane sugars with coconut palm sugar and maple syrup (agave would work fine here too). I avoided using honey because its current price is high relative to the other sweeteners, according to my price index. Since whole wheat flour was less expensive than the all-purpose variety, I used more whole wheat and less all-purpose. And unlike my Chocolate Chip Cookies, on which my price index is based, this recipe only calls for one egg. Enjoy the chocolatey cookies with a glass of milk…while the price of a gallon is still inexpensive!

cost sensitive chocolatey cookies

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup coconut palm sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup oil (I like grapeseed)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/2 cup grain-sweetened chocolate chips
2/3 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl (or using a stand mixer), mash together the butter and palm sugar/maple syrup with a fork until well combined. Add the oil and egg and beat until creamy. Mix in the vanilla.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, cocoa powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well. Stir in the chocolate chips and the (optional) pecans and mix well. Using a tablespoon, scoop the batter onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes. Transfer cookies to a rack to cool.

Filled with Glee over Chickpea Flatbreads

FlatbreadGood day, everyone! I hope that this blog post finds you well. I have been busy baking, cooking, and enjoying dinner parties – and as a result I have been remiss in blogging about these experiences. However I have some time between cleaning up after last night’s fun party, and eating some warm, cheesy dip during the ‘Big Game’ to describe the flatbreads I made. Since I have sensitivities to yeast and cane sugar, and a number of my friends need to be gluten or dairy free, finding adequate snacks for all of us can be a challenge.

One morning while reading the newspaper I spotted a photo of a bread that looked delicious. And the caption caught my eye because it talked about using ‘garbanzo bean flour.’ (Yes, chickpeas and garbanzo beans are two names for the same food.) In fact, according to FoodReference.com, garbanzo beans/chickpeas are the most widely consumed legume in the world. A member of the Pea (Fabaceae) family, garbanzo/chickpeas are also called ceci (Italy), Egyptian pea, gram, Kichererbse (Germany), and revithia (Greece). Garbanzo is the name used in Spanish speaking countries.  The English name chickpea comes from the French chiche. These lovely legumes are rich in protein, phosphorus, calcium and iron.

And I made a snack that was gluten, yeast, dairy, and cane sugar free! Happy snack time! This recipe makes one 10-inch flatbread or two 8-inch rounds. Feel free to add other herbs or seasonings such as garlic or garlic powder.

  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • 1 cup cool water
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary (optional)
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Combine the chickpea flour, water, 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil, the salt and the rosemary, if using, stirring until smooth. Cover and let the mixture rest for at least 2 hours, or refrigerate it overnight.

When the batter is ready, position an oven rack 4 to 6 inches from the broiler element. Place a medium cast-iron skillet or two 8-inch round cake pans on the rack; preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

Remove the hot skillet or pans from the oven. Pour in the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and swirl to coat.

Return the skillet or pans to the oven for a few minutes to heat up, then pull them out just long enough to pour in the batter, spreading it in the skillet or dividing it between the pans and spreading it in an even layer. Bake for 5 minutes; the flatbread will look set and will pull away from the pan’s edges a bit.

Turn on the broiler (leaving the flatbread in the oven); broil the flatbread for 3 or 4 minutes, until slightly charred.

Immediately sprinkle with pepper to taste. Carefully dislodge, letting the flatbread slide onto a cutting board. Cut into wedges and serve.

Carrot Cupcakes with Maple Coconut Cream Frosting (Gluten & Dairy Free)

Good day, everyone! I hope that this blog finds you well. I am truly appreciating the weather today, such a bright and sunny day, which is a welcome relief from all of the wind and rain we had this past week. The apples I have been purchasing at the local farm have been outstanding, so much so that I have not baked with apples yet this season because SensitiveHusband and I keep eating them before there is any chance of making a muffin or sauce. The carrots, however, I managed to snag for a cake (more on that in a moment). carrot cake cupcakes

Speaking of cake, have you ever eaten “too many slices of suboptimal, day-old cake,” which then inspired you to figure out how best to slice a cake so as not to expose the remains to the air and get dried out? No? To tell you the truth, I hadn’t thought much of it either. Yet this issue has been pondered for well over a century. In 1906 Sir Francis Galton, a British mathematician, discussed the scientific principles of cutting a cake in a letter written to the journal Nature. Galton, who was a first cousin to Charles Darwin, notes that instead of cutting a cake into wedges, you should cut the cake down the middle and remove a thin slice, then push the cake back together, which seals the cake back up. Galton goes a step further and suggests wrapping a rubber band around the outside of the cake to guarantee that no air dries out the baked good. He, who discovered regression to the mean, perhaps only ate cakes with fondant frosting – because I fear the effects of a rubber band wrapped around a luscious buttercream.

Need to see this to believe it? There is an excellent video demonstration by Alex Bellos – check it out here. And see if it convinces you that a wedge slice may not be the only option for parsing out dessert.

Since I continue to think of cake, I will share with you a recipe I made recently for my SIL’s (sister-in-law) birthday. This carrot cake was inspired by a fabulous recipe found in Elana’s Pantry. I chose to sweeten the cake with honey and I used grapeseed oil for the fat. I also crushed the walnuts and baked them into cupcakes. My notes are included in the recipe below. And then I topped them off with a maple coconut cream frosting! I again was inspired by Elana’s Pantry, although I sweetened the frosting with maple syrup, which paired so nicely with the flavors.

Still not sure how you want to slice a cake? No worries, just bake cupcakes!!

3 cups blanched almond flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
5 eggs
½ cup honey (or agave nectar)
¼ cup grapeseed oil
3 cups carrots, grated
1 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts, chopped

In a large bowl, combine almond flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg
In a separate bowl, mix together eggs, honey (or agave nectar) and oil
Stir carrots, raisins and walnuts into wet ingredients
Stir wet ingredients into dry
Place batter into 24 cupcake tins with liners (or 2 well greased, round 9-Inch cake pans)
Bake at 325° for 20-25 minutes for cupcakes (35 minutes for cakes)
Cool to room temperature and spread with frosting

1 cup coconut milk (in a can)
1 cup maple syrup
pinch sea salt
5 teaspoons arrowroot powder
3-5 tablespoons water
1¼ cup coconut oil

In a medium saucepan, heat coconut milk, maple syrup and salt, simmer for 10 minutes
In a small bowl, combine arrowroot and water to form a smooth paste
Pour arrowroot mixture into saucepan
Whisk vigorously to combine, then bring to a boil, briefly, until shiny
Remove pot from heat and very gradually blend in coconut oil with a hand blender (or mixer)
Allow pot to cool for 10 minutes
Place pot in refrigerator for 45-120 minutes, until frosting solidifies
Remove from refrigerator and blend again with a hand blender (or mixer), until fluffy
Spread over cake or cupcakes

Garlic Scape Pesto (Gluten, Yeast, Sugar, and Nut Free Too!)

scapes1Good day everyone. Our weekly CSA farm share has been providing us with a bounty of produce. Most of the vegetables are tried and true favorites like basil and kale. However, some are unidentifiable that require some research before preparing for dinner. This happened when we received garlic scapes, the veggie in the left of this photo.

According to my CSA, garlic scapes are flower stalks of hardneck garlic plants even though they do not produce flowers. The scapes appear about one month after the first leaves form. By cutting off the garlic scapes, more energy can be used by the plant to grow larger garlic bulbs. The scapes are edible and can be used in any recipe that calls for garlic.

scapes2If your garlic scapes are tender, you can chop them and use them as is, and with mature scapes a light saute will make them ready for use. Garlic scapes are great mixed with basil to form pesto. The taste is very earthy and “green.” If you don’t have garlic scapes, garlic cloves will work just as well in this recipe.

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (or any favorite cheese)
1 bunch basil
1 bunch chopped garlic scapes (or 3 chopped cloves of garlic)
1/3 cup olive oil
lemon juice (from about 1/4 lemon)
pinch of salt

Place all ingredients in a food processor and puree until you have a desired consistency. You many want to add a bit more olive oil or reduce the amount of cheese to 1/4 cup for a thinner pesto.

Peanut Butter Ice Cream Sundaes

Hello, and happy summer to you all! As you know, SensitiveHusband and I recently bought a house and moved, and we just sold my condo. So as you can imagine, my free time has been spent moving boxes around. I also find myself doing a lot more laundry since my washer and dryer are just off of the kitchen, which makes moving the clothes around so much easier. It’s weird, I actually find myself making excuses to just do another load of laundry! I bet that feeling will wear off eventually.

peanut butter ice creamHowever, I have still been trying new recipes. And this one for peanut butter ice cream is so delicious and creamy, you won’t even notice the lack of dairy, refined sugar, or gluten. It is rich and satisfying, especially if you pair it with some hot fudge sauce!

How did I uncover this gem of a recipe? My friend MaryAnn sent me a link to the Gluten Free Goddess web site with a simple note attached – “You MUST make this! AMAZING!” Since I like ice cream, and this recipe seemed to be receiving a ringing endorsement, I thought I would oblige.

sundaeI made two changes to the original recipe. First, I doubled it. If the ice cream was really going to be this good, I better make a sizable batch. And secondly, I substituted the brown sugar with coconut palm sugar. The recipe went off without a hitch and when I sampled it, I was overjoyed. So far I have made this ice cream twice, once for SenstiveHusband’s birthday (hence the candle in his sundae), and once for a family party. And I already have all of the ingredients for another batch.

2 14-oz. cans organic coconut milk, chilled
1 cup coconut palm sugar
1 cup organic natural peanut butter
1 dash sea salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 tablespoons dark chocolate shavings (or grain sweetened chocolate chips if you can handle gluten)

Prepare your ice cream maker ahead of time by freezing the canister overnight. Now is a good time to chill your coconut milk in the fridge too.

Combine the chilled coconut milk and coconut palm sugar in a blender and whip until the sugar is dissolved. Add in the natural peanut butter and vanilla extract. Whip just until the mixture is creamy and frothy.

Set your freezing canister in place and turn on the ice cream maker. Pour the mixture into the freezing canister.

Add in the shaved dark chocolate.

Churn until frozen; at 30 minutes it should reach a thick, soft-serve consistency.

Scoop into a freezable quart container, cover and freeze.

hot fudge sauceUpon sampling this peanut butter ice cream, you may find yourself craving a sundae. If this is the case, try this recipe for Homemade Bittersweet Chocolate Syrup from the Nourishing Gourmet. Plus, it’s Paleo; gluten, refined sugar, and dairy free!

And if you need to top it all off with some whipped cream (not dairy free, but gluten free and refined sugar free), you can check out my recipe.

Sausage and Spinach Frittata

New Year's Day BrunchHello, everyone! I hope that you are doing well. I have been busy moving so I have not had as much time as usual for cooking and writing. However, now we are settling into our new place and I am really enjoying our new kitchen! I think it will be a lot of fun to develop new foods over time.

A few months ago I prepared a brunch for SensitiveHusband and me. The brunch took place awhile ago, as you can probably tell from the winter-themed plates we used! However, the menu will work well during any season. In fact, this meal has become a ‘regular’ in our house because we always have these ingredients on hand and the meal can be made within 30 minutes. The main star is a Spinach and Sausage Frittata, which has the texture of a fluffy omelette.

New Year's Day Brunch 2I was inspired by a frittata recipe that I found online through MyRecipes. I decided to use fresh spinach rather than frozen, I reduced the amount of cheese and egg just a bit, and I found a wonderful sausage that is free of sugar, yeast, and onions while still full of flavor. Did I mention that the sausages are gluten free too? And they are fully cooked? Can you tell I like them?

I served the frittata with some pumpkin muffins, a simple salad, and a bunch of grapes. We really enjoyed this meal! I hope you do too.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 medium sweet sausages (about 10 oz.) (A great brand is Aidell’s – my favorite is Roasted Garlic & Gruyere Cheese)
1 (10 oz.) package fresh spinach, rinsed (frozen spinach can also be used)
8 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup shredded cheese (I like Asiago, Parmesan would also work well)

Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large nonstick, ovenproof skillet, warm olive oil over medium-high heat. (If skillet isn’t ovenproof, wrap handles in a double layer of foil.) Chop sausage into bite-sized pieces and add to skillet. Brown the sausages on all sides, about 7-10 minutes (or if using uncooked sausages, cook thoroughly).

Squeeze as much liquid as possible from spinach, then add to skillet. Cook, stirring well and scraping up any cooked bits on bottom of skillet.

Pour eggs into skillet and stir to mix with spinach/sausage mixture. Stop stirring and cook over medium heat, lifting edges of frittata with a spatula to let uncooked eggs flow underneath. Cook until almost set, about 3 minutes.

Sprinkle cheese on top and transfer skillet to oven. Bake, uncovered, until frittata is puffed and lightly browned on top, about 10-12 minutes. Lift frittata around edges of skillet and gently shake pan to loosen. Slide out of pan and onto a cutting board and cut into wedges. Serve hot or at room temperature. Makes 4-6 servings.