Paleo Parmesan Herb Croutons

The last recipe for Paleo Almond Flour Bread has inspired a number of bread-based recipes. If you end up with a couple of left-over slices (I’m not sure why you would – but hey, it could happen), these croutons are a great way to use up the extras and they keep for quite a while.

Mix and match your favorite herbs and spices to create a unique flavor blend.
Mix and match your favorite herbs and spices to create a unique flavor blend.

The best part about these crunchy little nuggets is that they are easily customized to your own preferences. I use an array of herbs and spices, as well as a generous helping of parmesan. If you don’t like something, leave it out. It is best to use dried herbs, as fresh won’t hold up well in the heat of the oven. You’ll want to choose flavors that are bold and will stand up to the robust flavor of the parmesan.

The oil and cheese can also be customized to your preferences.
The oil and cheese can also be customized to your preferences.

We are lucky enough to have a friend who presses olives into olive oil every year in Italy. We get a single bottle from him and make it last as long as we can. This oil is fantastic unheated and simply drizzled over a salad. It’s also fantastic with these croutons. Because they aren’t in the oven for an exceptionally long amount of time (only about 20 minutes), the olive flavor still peeks through.

You’ll want to be sure to toast the croutons for enough time to get a nice crunchy exterior. Don’t be afraid of a little color – that’s where you get the deep flavor! If you end up with extra herb/spice mix, not to worry, just tuck it away in a zip-top bag and use it next time.

Ingredients:
1 t. salt
1 t. onion powder
1 t. granulated garlic
1 t. mustard powder
1 t. dried thyme
1 t. dried rosemary
1 t. dired oregano
1 t. paprika
1 t. ground pepper
1 oz. parmesan, grated or shaved (depending on your preference)
2 T. oil (olive, avocado, etc.)
1 loaf Paleo Almond Flour Bread, cut into cubes

Method:
1. Preheat your oven to 375ºF. Line a baking pan with a silpat mat or parchment.
2. Combine all the herbs and spices in a small bowl, stir to combine.
3. Toss the oil and bread cubes together in a large bowl, coating the bread completely.
4. Sprinkle the herb/spice mixture over the bread and toss to coat. Reserve any extra mixture for another use.
5. Spread cubes on prepared baking pan in an even, single layer.
6. Sprinkle parmesan to on top to lightly coat.
7. Bake for 20 minutes, tossing once half-way through, until toasted and crispy.
8. Allow to cool completely on the pan.
9. Store in an airtight container.

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Paleo Chicken Pot Pie

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My mother and sister make, quite possibly, the World’s best pot pie. The crust is tender and flaky, the gravy is thick and creamy, and the chicken is always juicy. It is packed full of flavor and you can never quite seem to get enough. This recipe is a derivation on their original and I dare say, comes pretty close in terms of flavor. Surprisingly, the almond flour crust is a fantastic substitute for the gluten version. It crisps up nicely, but definitely needs a quick egg wash to achieve a deep caramelized color.

The Crust

Ingredients

3 cups almond flour
2 large eggs
4 T. cold butter, cubed
1/2 t. salt
1 t. honey

Method

1. Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor.
2. Pulse until the butter is distributed and the dough forms a ball, about 15 pulses.
3. Separate into 3 pieces, wrapping one tightly in plastic wrap. Combine the remaining two pieces and wrap in plastic wrap.
4. Refrigerate until firm.
5. Roll out the larger piece to fit your pie plate, making sure to leave a little extra overhang for combining with the top piece. Refrigerate until firm.
6. Reserve the smaller piece for the top of your pie.

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The Filling

Ingredients

2 large carrots, peeled & diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
4 T. butter
1 T. dried thyme
1 T. dried rosemary
2.5 T. tapioca flour
.25 cups almond milk
1.5 cups chicken broth
.5 cups heavy cream
12 oz. cooked, shredded chicken
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 egg, well-whisked (for egg wash)

Method

1. Bring a small pot of water to boil. Boil the carrots until al dente, 5 minutes.
2. In a large pot, sauté the onion, celery, butter, thyme and rosemary. Cook until the onions are translucent.
3. Create a slurry with the tapioca flour and almond milk, making sure to fully dissolve the flour.
4. Slowly add the broth and heavy cream to the pot.
5. Bring to a boil and stream in the tapioca slurry.
6. Once the gravy has reached the desired consistency, take off the heat. You can always add more tapioca slurry if you want the sauce thicker.
7. Fold the chicken and carrots into the gravy.
8. Pour the mixture into your prepared pie crust, making sure not to overfill.
9. Roll out your reserved dough to slightly larger than the diameter of your pie pan. Place on top and crimp together with the edges of the bottom crust.
10. Brush the top and edges with egg wash. Freeze for at least 30 minutes.
11. Bake at 350°F for 45-60 minutes, or until brown on top. It will take longer if the pie is completely frozen.
12. Cool for 20 minutes, to set the crust.

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Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies

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The foundation for this cookie recipe is actually from a peanut butter cookie recipe that my grandmother used to make. It was about as simple as they come: 1 cup peanut butter (only Jif, of course), 1 cup sugar, 1 egg. Mix it, scoop it, fork it, bake it. They were delightful. As a pastry chef, I used this recipe (with a few additions) as my go-to recipe when I needed something simple, gluten-free and delicious.

I originally hoped to mimic the recipe with almond butter and make an equally delicious nutty cookie. After the first attempt, I was disappointed in the flat, lifeless results from my freshly ground Whole Foods almond butter. On a whim, I threw in some almond flour and chocolate chips. The result? Quite possibly one of the most delicious chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever tasted. It has a hint of almond flavor, but it really tastes like an old-fashioned chocolate chip cookie. The crumb is delicate, the flavors well-developed, and finishes with just a hint of honey. Best of all? It’s still nearly as simple as my Grams’ original.

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Yield: 24 medium cookies (1.5 oz. each)

13 oz. almond butter
4 oz. honey
3 oz. almond flour
2 oz. coconut palm sugar
2 ea. large eggs
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. vanilla
7 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips (or chunks)

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Combine everything except the chocolate chips in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly to combine.
3. Stir in chocolate chips, distributing evenly.
4. Portion into 1.5 oz. balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet (or Silpat), spacing evenly apart (they will spread slightly). Flatten a smidge.
5. Bake for 15 minutes, or just until the sides are set and golden brown. Cool on a rack.

Hints:

1. I like an extra-chewy cookie, so I slam my pan on the countertop after taking the cookies out of the oven. This makes for a somewhat fudgy consistency that melts in your mouth.
2. You can also refrigerate (or even freeze) these little gems and bake them fresh. If you freeze the dough, be sure to let them defrost before you bake.

Almond Flour Pancakes

One dish that I miss more than any other since going paleo is a fluffy, warm stack of pancakes. We used to have a weekly tradition every Sunday morning of meeting our friend Bre for breakfast. More often than I’d care to admit, we’d end up at The Original Pancake House. They don’t have ordinary pancakes, they have the queen of gluten-filled pillows: sourdough pancakes. You can smell them outside the front door, their sweet and sharp aroma is irresistible.

Recently I’ve spent many Sunday mornings attempting to make a suitable paleo replacement for pancakes. The sweet potato version that I came up with are good, but not always what I’m looking for, especially on a warm weekend. I’ve scoured the web in search of the perfect recipe. Most of them are dry, dense, and taste like you took a bite out of a coconut – not at all what I was hoping to achieve. Finally, the culmination of many failed attempts has resulted in what I think is the best replacement I’ll ever get for those sourdough beauties, without devouring the real thing. Keep in mind, these pancakes don’t have the delicious pungent flavor as the original, but they do have the taste and texture of a standard breakfast pancake.

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Almond Flour Pancakes
3 ea. eggs, separated
.5 oz. high quality butter, melted, cooled to room temperature
2 oz. coconut milk
.5 oz. raw honey
1 t. vanilla extract
6 oz. blanched almond flour, sifted
.5 t. baking soda
.25 t. baking powder
.25 t. kosher salt
1 t. ground cinnamon

Method:
1. Separate the eggs, combining the yolks in a large bowl and the whites in a medium bowl. Set the whites aside.
2. Add the melted butter, milk, honey, and vanilla to the yolks, whisking thoroughly.
3. Combine the flour, soda, powder, salt and cinnamon in a small bowl.
4. Add flour mixture to wet ingredients, whisking completely to combine.
5. Whip the egg whites to stiff peaks (about 2 minutes on medium speed).
6. Fold 1/3 of the whites into the batter – this will help to soften it’s texture in preparation for folding in the rest of the whites.
7. Add another 1/3 of the whites into the batter, gently folding them in so as to retain their aeration.
8. Fold the remaining whites into the batter, ensuring that they are completely incorporated without over-mixing.
9. Preheat a non-stick skillet with coconut oil or pan spray over medium-low heat.
10. Scoop with a 2 oz. portion scoop for a 4″ pancake (you can prepare whatever size you prefer) onto the greased pan.
11. Cook over medium-low heat on the first side until the edges begin to set and you see bubbles forming in the middle, 2-3 minutes.
12. Gently flip the pancake and continue cooking on the second side until the pancake is set in the middle (you can check by gently pressing on the center of the pancake).
13. Hold warm until you’ve cooked all pancakes, serve with maple syrup, preserves, honey, or a dash of cinnamon.