Snowball Cookies

Snowball cookies are quite possibly the most underrated Christmas cookie. If you’ve not had the privilege of eating one before, they are tender, flaky, light little balls of shortbread which actually look like a miniature snowball! And they almost melt in your mouth the way a real snowball would, too. Elegant, yet simple and playful in appearance, a tray of snowball cookies would be welcomed at any holiday gathering!

Growing up, snowball cookies were some of my absolute favorites! It was tradition for my grandma to make them each year for Christmas, making this allergy-friendly recipe remake extra special. I hope you enjoy these as much as I have!

A few comments on the ingredients: Palm shortening is a replacement for butter in this recipe. Palm shortening is solid at room temperature, like butter, and has a very neutral flavor which makes it a good choice for this type of baking. The gelatin powder is included to help bind the cookie dough together. Often gluten-free baking flour mixes contain different gums (often xanthan gum), which have been linked with various health concerns. To avoid the inclusion of these processed and questionable ingredients, gelatin is used here to accomplish the same goal. An additional tip for ensuring the dough will stick together is to chop the walnuts very finely. Larger bits will make it more challenging for the dough to come together. I chopped mine with a chefs knife, but the food processor may do a nice job in a fraction of the time.

Happy holiday baking!

Snowball Cookies

Also known as Russian Teacakes and Mexican Wedding Cookies, these light, airy shortbread Christmas cookies actually look like little snowballs! (gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, egg-free, nightshade-free)
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Chill Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 24 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2/3 cup + 1 Tbsp white rice flour
  • 2/3 cup + 1 Tbsp brown rice flour
  • 2/3 cup tapioca flour
  • 2/3 cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1 cup palm shortening
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2-1/2 tsp gelatin
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Instructions

  • Reserving 1/2 cup powdered sugar on the side for later, mix all other ingredients together with clean hands and form dough into a ball. If dough is too crumbly still, add additional water in tiny increments - 1 tsp or so at a time until dough will stick together. Cover dough with plastic wrap. Refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour.
  • Remove from refrigerator. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Form cookie dough into 1" balls. Dough may be a little more crumbly than traditional snowball cookie dough; may require a little extra effort to shape. 
  • Form 24 cookies and place on a baking sheet. Bake in oven for 10 minutes; cookies should be "set" but NOT browned. Remove from oven. 
  • Allow cookies to cook for 3 minutes, then while the cookies are still warm, roll them in the remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar to coat them. Rolling cookies while warm ensures the powdered sugar will stick to the outside. 
  • Consider a second roll in powdered sugar just before serving to freshen up the powdered sugar coating.

Notes

May be made in advance. Cookies freeze well.

Tex Mex Sweet Potato Beef Skillet

In the mood for a smoky, satisfying dinner which can be cooked in a single skillet? Try this Tex Mex Sweet Potato Beef Skillet. It’s chock full of vegetables – satisfying sweet potatoes, sauteed onions, wilted spinach, creamy avocado, and layers of flavor boosting ingredients, including lime juice, scallions, cilantro, oregano, and cumin! This skillet meal also has a variety of textures thanks to the mix of cooked and fresh produce. Grab a spoon and dig into this one dish meal tonight!

Tex Mex Sweet Potato Beef Skillet

Hearty skillet meal with smoky Southwest flavored ground beef and lots of veggies.  (AIP option, paleo option, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, egg-free, nut-free, nightshade-free)
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients

Cooked Vegetables

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper (omit for AIP)
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn (omit for paleo, AIP)
  • 1 large handfull spinach

Beef

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cumin (omit for AIP)
  • 1 tsp oregano

Fresh Garnishes

  • 2 avocados, peeled and sliced
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

Instructions

  • In a large skillet on medium-high heat, add all ingredients under "Beef" ingredient heading above. Stir occasionally until fully cooked and browned. Remove from heat, pouring into a bowl and covering.
  • In skillet, add sweet potatoes, olive oil, 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sweet potatoes are lightly browned and can be easily pierced with a fork.
  • Add ground beef back into pan along with corn and cook until heated. Remove from heat. Add spinach and gently incorporate while allowing spinach to wilt.
  • Garnish with sliced avocado, lime wedges, scallions, and cilantro.

Notes

Best served immediately.
If made in advance, store garnishes separately from rest of cooked sweet potato beef skillet to allow for reheating before adding fresh garnishes.

Paleo Pumpkin Pancakes

Since it’s the month of November, tis the season for sneaking pumpkin into as many meals as possible! And why not?! Pumpkin is packed with vitamin A, starchy like a sweet potato yet considerably lower in carbohydrates, creamy, and pairs well with warm spices like cinnamon. An ideal choice for this time of year, and underrated for the rest of the year!

Recreating baked goods and bread items without all the usual baking ingredients (wheat flour, cows milk, eggs, and butter) can present even the most experienced cook with a steep learning curve. However, just because your pantry and refrigerator no longer look the same, doesn’t mean you have to miss out on comfort foods such as pancakes! Paleo Pumpkin Pancakes to the rescue! These pancakes have more structure to them than the typical light, airy pancakes you may have grown up eating. And, thanks to more nutrient-dense ingredients, they will also keep you feeling more satisfied hours into your day than typical pancakes ever could!

Now, you may be wondering how to top your pancakes. A simple drizzle of pure maple syrup will always do the trick, but there’s another option as well which is even more amazing! If you can get your hands on some maple butter, I highly recommend you buy multiple jars of it. Yes, even if you’ve never tasted it! Maple butter is simply whipped maple syrup which has become solidified and creamy in color, surprisingly resembling butter much more than maple syrup! A dollop of maple butter melts beautifully on warm pancakes and looks gorgeous!

As with other pancakes, these paleo pumpkin pancakes taste great alongside some bacon or sausage. Any morning will feel like a weekend morning with these Paleo Pumpkin Pancakes! Enjoy!

Paleo Pumpkin Pancakes

Fluffy pumpkin pancakes perfect for breakfast on a cold morning (paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, egg-free, nut-free, nightshade-free)
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 can pureed pumpkin (15 oz can)
  • 2/3 cup sunflower seed butter
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups green banana flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 pinches salt
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • maple syrup (or maple butter) for serving
  • coconut oil, if needed for frying pancakes

Instructions

  • Preheat griddle to 300 degrees Fahrenheit or heat frying pan to medium-low heat.
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk pumpkin, sunflower seed butter, molasses, and water until an even consistency is reached. In a separate mixing bowl, combine green banana flour, baking soda, salt, and ground cloves. Mix dry ingredients.
  • Pour dry ingredients into wet ingredient bowl, and using a spatula, mix just until combined. Lightly coat pan/griddle with coconut oil, if needed.
  • Pour a few spoonfuls of pancake batter onto hot griddle/pan to form each pancake. My griddle fit 8 pancakes.
  • When pancakes are cooked, remove from heat. Top with maple syrup or maple butter. Serve warm.

Notes

May make in advance and reheat before serving.
Could try subbing another nut butter or (for AIP elimination phase) tigernut butter; however this recipe was only tested with sunflower seed butter.
These pancakes do not bubble the way traditional pancakes do, signaling readiness to flip. Pancakes should appear firm and be browned on the bottom before ready to flip, around 5 minutes on my griddle. These pancakes are fairly resistant to over-cooking. Recommend checking them every minute or two while you observe how they cook with your particular set-up; if you're not sure if they're done, let them cook a little longer.

Chewy Brownies

If you’re looking for a chewy, rich and sweet dessert, try my Chewy Brownies. One bite and you’ll instantly feel like you’re celebrating the holidays! The deeply satisfying chocolate flavor comes from cocoa powder plus chocolate chips/chunks mixed into the batter. The coconut oil and egg yolk bring a rich, creamy texture along with healthy fats. This recipe makes one smaller, 8″ x 8″ pan of brownies or two 6″ round mini cakes. The smaller batch size is OK, because you probably won’t want these lying around the house too long; you may eat them all up yourself! If you’re feeling generous and want to share some with a larger group (lucky them!), the recipe easily doubles.

If you’re feeling extra fancy, instead of traditional brownies, this recipe can also make mini brownie cakes, which are perfect for sharing. This brownie variation starts out with the same brownie batter, and is made extra decadent and rich with the addition of some vanilla or chocolate frosting. Both are delicious! Often brownies in a pan aren’t anything all that pretty, but these brownie cakes can also be elevated by garnishing with some extra chocolate chips in the center and some shaved or grated chocolate on top. So pretty! One of these brownie cakes would be a special hand-made gift. Pick up a bakery style box from the store to transport one in style!

By all means, make your own homemade frosting if you prefer. I prefer to take advantage of the help offered by using a prepackaged option which works for us in terms of ingredients, taste, and availability. Some beginners tips for ensuring an even, smooth frosting layer: 1) start with completely cooled brownies 2) stir frosting with a spoon before applying 3) use an icing spreader rather than a knife 4) run icing spreader under hot water periodically to remove any clumps of frosting which may stick and also to smooth the surface 5) using clean hands, wipe stray frosting from the sides to clean up the edges.

Chewy Brownies

Brownies which are chewy, rich, and just the perfect amount of fudgey (gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free, nightshade-free)
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 16 brownies

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil, melted plus slightly more for coating pan(s)
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 cup green banana flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup chocolate chips/chunks (ensure dairy and soy-free)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 jar Simple Mills Frosting (optional)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat inside of baking pan(s) with coconut oil to prevent sticking. One 8" x 8" pan OR two 6" round pans works well.
  • Mix wet ingredients together in a bowl (maple syrup, coconut oil, egg yolks). Mix dry ingredients together in a separate bowl (green banana flour, cocoa powder, and salt). Combine wet and dry ingredients in a single bowl.
  • Add chocolate chips and stir to incorporate. Pour brownie batter into baking pan(s) and smooth out batter evenly.
  • Bake for 20 minutes (25 minutes if making a double-batch). Remove from oven and allow to cool before cutting or optional frosting.
  • If frosting (optional), do so when brownies are completely cooled. May garnish with additional chocolate chips or grated chocolate, if desired.

Notes

May be made in advance. Freezes well.

Herby Lamburgers with Cucumber Salsa and Kalamata Tapenade

These herby lamburgers were just what we needed for dinner! After eating turkey and ham leftovers from an early Friendsgiving party which we hosted this past weekend, our taste buds were ready for something different. After all the Thanksgiving dinners will have been eaten at the end of next week, you may be looking for some variety in the animal protein department, too! Lamb to the rescue!

Swapping ground lamb meat for ground beef can be a welcome, occasional departure from the typical beef burger. This Mediterranean twist on the hamburger is rich in deep, herby, meaty flavor. The cucumber salsa contrasts nicely by adding some crunchy texture, bright acidity from some lemon juice and little bursts of sweetness thanks to the pomegranate arils. And the dollop of kalamata olive tapenade on top of each burger brings a complimentary saltiness which takes the taste up a notch.

Serve these lamburgers with a side salad with Greek vinaigrette dressing to quickly make a colorful, satisfying meal. Because of my love of leftovers (seriously, why would you want to make a whole new meal EVERY time you eat?!), I used 2 pounds of ground lamb to make six 1/3 pound burgers. This guarantees us leftovers. However, the recipe is easily scaled up or down in 1 pound increments based on your individual needs.

Herby Lamburgers with Cucumber Salsa and Kalamata Tapenade

Satisfying Mediterranean lamb burgers sure to infuse some variety into your dinner routine (AIP, paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, egg-free, nut-free, seed-free, nightshade-free).
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients

Lamburgers

  • 2 pounds ground lamb
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped finely
  • 1 tsp Himalayan pink salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 Tbsp capers, minced
  • 1 lemon, zest of
  • 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped finely
  • 1-1/2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped finely

Cucumber Salsa and Kalamata Tapenade

  • 3 cups diced cucumber
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp capers
  • 2 Tbsp red onion, minced
  • salt, to taste
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate arils
  • 6 Tbsp kalamata tapenade

Instructions

  • Mix all ingredients for lamburgers together in a bowl. Form burger patties (I made six 1/3 pound burgers). Pan fry on medium heat until done.
  • For cucumber salsa, mix all ingredients together except 1/2 the pomegranate and the kalamata tapenade. Spread cucumber salsa as the base on serving plate.
  • When lamburgers are done, remove from fry pan and place on top of cucumber salsa. Spoon a dollop of kalamata tapenade on each lamburger. Sprinkle with remaining pomegranate and serve.

Notes

If making in advance, store lamburgers separately from cucumber salsa and tapenade, so lamburgers can be heated up on their own before assembly and serving.

Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Pomegranate

Quick – it’s cold outside, and you want a veggie side dish that is not a cold salad. What do you do?? Crank up the oven, throw some veggies on a baking sheet, and 30 minutes later, you’ve got happy taste buds and a warm tummy!

If you’re like me, sometimes you crave variety in the way your food is prepared. So even though my instinct is to make a salad or roast whatever vegetable I have in my kitchen, I am always looking for new ways to do the familiar (aka make dinner).

And so, last night we had this warm Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Pomegranate side dish. My little guy happily ate it up – the pomegranate contributed to this, full disclosure, but the brussel sprouts were eaten right along with it! He’s got good taste in fruit, for sure. Luckily for him (and me!), I learned a easy way to separate all the juicy, delicious jewels – they’re actually called pomegranate arils (or seeds) – from the papery, cream colored membrane lining the inside of the entire fruit. Even better, it doesn’t look like a massacre occurred in my kitchen when I’m all done, nor have I ruined any clothing or white kitchen tile grout!

The way I prepare the pomegranate is unique to other fruit. First grab a medium sized bowl big enough to fit both of your hands plus the pomegranate in at the same time while being fully submerged in water. Also, take out a plastic cutting board with a ridge around the perimeter and kitchen knife. Choose plastic instead of wood if you don’t like your board getting stained! Fill up the bowl almost to the top with water warm enough to be a pleasant temperature – no need to have freezing cold hands while doing this! Cut the pomegranate in half; the cutting board ridge will catch any juice which decides to run. Place the pomegranate halves in the bowl, under water. Working on one half at a time, gently peel the pomegranate arils out of the membrane layers while being sure to keep the fruit submerged. The water will prevent juice spatters like a charm! The papery membrane floats to the top of the water, while the arils sink towards the bottom. As a result, skimming off the membrane pieces is a cinch, leaving all the goodness behind!

You could, of course, buy ready-to-eat pomegranate from the refrigerated produce section in your store. However, I find the often cloudy liquid in which the arils are sitting in unappetizing and makes me question their freshness. I’ll stick with prepping my own! When it’s this easy to eat pomegranate, you might find new ways to eat more, too!

Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Pomegranate

Roasted brussel sprouts pair up with crispy, salty bacon and juicy, sweet pomegranate in this cold weather dish. (AIP, paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, egg-free, nut-free, nightshade-free)
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 pounds brussel sprouts, quartered
  • 12 ounces bacon, cut into 1" strips
  • 1/2 large red onion, chopped
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate arils

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • On a baking sheet, evenly spread brussel sprouts, bacon, and red onion. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Place baking sheet in oven and cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until brussel sprouts are cooked through.
  • Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees. Cook about 5 more minutes, until brussel sprouts and bacon are browned and crispy. Remove from oven.
  • Mix 1 Tbsp olive oil with pomegranate molasses. Drizzle over brussel sprout mixture. Sprinkle fresh pomegranate on top. Serve warm.

Notes

Best served immediately. If preparing in advance, wait to add fresh pomegranate until after reheating brussel sprouts.