Best Baked Brie

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I’m going to be honest with you and admit that I ate 75% of this brie by myself. It is incredible with the apple slices, but by the end I was just spooning it out of a dish in the fridge, where it was yelling my name constantly until I could finish it. The balance of flavors is just right – umami, sweet, sour, fat creamy gooey goodness.

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Best Baked Brie
Adapted from Allrecipes

Ingredients:
3 Tbs butter
1 small onion, chopped
2 cups mushrooms, halved and sliced
1/2 cup dates, pitted and chopped
1 Tbs aged balsamic vinegar
1 (7 ounce) wedge Brie cheese

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Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a skillet over medium heat, melt butter and caramelize onions and mushrooms, about 8 minutes. Add the dates and warm mixture for about 2 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the balsamic vinegar, stir well, and remove from heat.

Slice the Brie wedge in half down the center so that there is a top and a bottom. Place cheese on a parchment lined baking sheet. Spoon the onion mixture on top. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes, or until it starts to ooze but not melt.
Serve immediately with apple slices.

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My Mother’s (and Lindy’s) Cheesecake

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“New York deli man Arnold Reuben claimed he was the first to serve cheesecake. But it was his competitor, Leo Lindemann, who hired away Reuben’s pastry chef to re-create the dessert at his place, Lindy’s, and made it an icon. Lindy’s is gone now, but the cheesecake recipe remains. —Arthur Schwartz, from “Cream of New York”

Lindy’s opened on August 20, 1921 by Leo “Lindy” Lindermann and his wife Clara. The restaurant, and especially the quintessential New York cheesecake, became legendary over the decades. Judy’s Kitchen sums the recipe history up well. “This recipe has been around a long time. Lindy’s is the daddy of all cheesecakes. The restaurant went out of business in the 70’s without ever having given out the recipe for their world famous cheesecake. Gourmet Magazine published what they called the authentic recipe in a 1951 publication and it made the rounds like all good recipes. I have it in several old cookbooks and it’s all over the internet. I don’t know why I never made it. Always wanted to. The thought of making a real cookie crust rolled onto the spring form pan intimidated me, as did working with the insane temperatures.”

Now, most importantly, far more than Lindy’s or Saveur or all of New York, this is my mother’s cheesecake. The handwritten recipe is from the Gourmet 1991 reprint of the recipe and it’s the one she’s been making for special occasions as long as I can remember. Even though I love to bake and this is really simply the most pure and exquisite cheesecake you’ll ever have, I hadn’t made it until now because it’s an intimating recipe. But now that I’ve done it, the steps don’t seem daunting anymore and I hope I keep making it for special occasions through Aurelia’s life.

The cheesecake most of us see these days has an easy graham cracker crust and a light and fluffy filling. This cheesecake eats that cheesecake for breakfast. This has a true, rich cookie crust, two and a half pounds of cream cheese (that’s 5 – 8 ounce packages), and has to bake very high briefly and then very low for an hour. No water baths, no coddling.  It’s a dense, serious and unique cheesecake, but obviously one that has stood the test of time around the nation and in my mother’s kitchen.

A few notes: The original recipe is either plain or with a pineapple glaze, made with canned crushed pineapple. My mother makes it both ways. I don’t care for the pineapple glaze much and like the cake plain, but having some sort of fruit topping does add a lovely contrast and presentation. I made a simple blackberry topping for this one. Also, my pictures are deceiving. I had two people that I wanted to give the cake to and a whole recipe makes such a huge (albeit gorgeous and authentic) cake, I decided to double the crust recipe, make it in two spring form pans, and divide one recipe of batter into the two pans. It made two wonderful cheesecakes, each with 6-8 large servings. But if you have a crowd of 10-15, make the whole, high cake and keep the legend going. Also, my mother would mention that it’s crucial that the cream cheese and eggs be room temperature to get the batter as smooth as possible.

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My Mother’s Cheesecake
Slightly adapted from the original recipe for Lindy’s Cheesecake via Saveur

Ingredients:
FOR THE CRUST:
1 cup flour
8 Tbs (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg yolk

FOR THE FILLING:
2 1/2 lb (40 oz) cream cheese, softened (nearly room temperature)
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 Tbs flour
1 1/2 tsp orange zest
1 1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
5 whole eggs, plus 2 yolks (room temperature)
¼ cup heavy cream

FOR THE OPTIONAL TOPPING:
3 cups blackberries (or any other berry, fresh or frozen)
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbs unsalted butter
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs cornstarch

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Instructions:
For the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, butter, sugar, zest, salt, and yolk in a bowl; rub with fingers until dough forms. Form dough into 2 rounds, one a bit bigger than the other; wrap each in plastic wrap. Chill for 1 hour. Roll the larger dough round on lightly floured wax paper to about 1/8 thickness and place on bottom of a 9″ spring form pan. (Alternately, you can just press the dough onto the pan, conforming to fit.) Trim edges to fit and bake in preheated oven 7-10 minutes. Remove when dough is a light golden brown. Cool. Place the springform sides over the baked base. Roll the remaining dough about 1/8 inch thick and cut to fit sides of pan. Be sure you seal the base. Just lightly press the new dough to overlap slightly on the base. When you are all done, take a plastic knife and trim the dough so that it comes a generous 3/4 of the way up the sides of the pan. Set aside.

For the filling: Turn the oven up to 500 degrees. Beat cream cheese, sugar, flour, zests, and vanilla in a large bowl on medium-high speed of a hand mixer until smooth. Add eggs and yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition, until smooth; stir in cream. Pour filling into pan, and bake until top begins to brown, about 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 200°, and bake until just set, about 1 hour more. Transfer to a rack, and let cool completely. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight. Run a butter knife around the edges before removing the sides of the pan. Remove cake from pan, top with filling if using, and cut into slices to serve.

For the totally optional topping: Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, and cook until berries break down, about 4 minutes. Let cool, then refrigerate, covered, until cold.

Cheesecake (without the topping) will keep wrapped up tight in the refrigerator for two weeks or frozen for 6 months. Seriously.

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Bacon-Wrapped & BBQ-Glazed Meatloaf

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You know you need more meat in your life.

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Bacon-Wrapped & BBQ-Glazed Meatloaf
Adapted from the Food Network

Ingredients:
2 tsp coconut oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 eggs
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp Worchestershire sauce
1/4 tsp hot red pepper sauce, like Cholula
1/2 cup milk
1 pound ground beef
1 pound spicy ground pork sausage
2 Tbs coconut flour
2 Tbs dried parsley
4 pieces thick-sliced bacon
1/2 cup bottled bbq sauce of choice (or make your own)

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Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until softened, about 5 minutes; set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, mix eggs with thyme, salt, pepper, mustard, Worchestershire, hot sauce, and milk. Add egg mixture to meat in a large bowl, along with coconut flour, parsley and cooked onions and garlic; mix with your hands until evenly blended and meat mixture does not stick to bowl. (If mixture does stick, add additional milk, a couple tablespoons at a time, and continue stirring until mixture stops sticking.)

Turn meat mixture onto a work surface. With wet hands, pat mixture into a loaf approximately 9 by 5 inches.

Cover a wire rack with foil; prick foil in several places with a fork. Place a rack on a shallow roasting pan lined with foil for easy cleanup.

Set formed loaf on rack. Brush loaf with bbq sauce, then arrange bacon slices, crosswise, over loaf, overlapping them slightly and tucking them under to prevent curling. Bake until bacon is crisp and the center of the loaf registers 160 degrees on a meat thermometer, about 1 hour and a half. Cool for at least 20 minutes. Slice and serve.

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Apple Dijon Burgers

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Totally marvelous.

Apple Dijon Burgers
Adapted from Civilized Caveman

Ingredients:
1 lb grass-fed ground beef
1/2 apple, shredded
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 tsp coconut oil or other choice of fat
2-4 tsp aged balsamic vinegar

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Instructions:
In a large mixing bowl, combine the beef, apple, onion, mustard, salt and pepper. Mix well. Using your hands, form 4 even size burgers. Have your grill (bbq or stove top) on medium heat (350-400 Degrees F) and grill for approximately 5-6 minutes per side or until done to your liking. Once you place your burgers on the grill, fry the egg over easy in the coconut oil in a skillet over low heat and set aside. You can now plate your burgers how you see fit. I used spinach as a base, added the burger, topped with the fried egg, and drizzled everything in a sweet, aged balsamic. Seriously delicious.

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Paleo Banana Bread

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I try not to label my recipes “paleo,” “primal,” “clean,” “vegetarian,” etc. because I’m an omnivore and while I know I feel and look better when I limit my grain and sugar intake, I don’t ascribe to a strict eating plan normally and start feeling too obsessive if I have to follow a rigid diet with lots of rules. Paleo has lots of rules, none that I vehemently disagree with, but it’s not good for my mind to scrutinize at that level. You know I believe in trying to eat mostly whole, unprocessed, home cooked, farmer grown and raised, vegetable/meat/fat based meals, and that’s enough labels for me.

I had to add that disclaimer because this recipe is titled Paleo Banana Bread, but really, I just had to distinguish it somehow from the Banana Cake, Banana Bran Muffins, Banana Apricot Bread, My Best Banana Bread, Banana Coconut Bread, and the Sweet, Smooth, and Simple Banana Bread already in the recipe index.  It seems I like my banana bread. If I had to pick between the list above, I’d say the Best Banana Bread and the Sweet, Smooth, Simple ones are my favorites, but both of those are wheat and sugar based and set my sweet tooth on a bender. This recipe actually is right up there with those favorites, but it doesn’t have the triggers I try to avoid. Win!

Who knew that the trick to paleo baking was in the almond butter?! Genius. The result is so satisfying and really, not that unhealthy if you’re looking for a treat. Sold yet? Get baking.

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Paleo Banana Bread
Adapted from Civilized Caveman

Ingredients:
4 ripe bananas
4 eggs
1/2 cup almond butter
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 Tbs cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine bananas, eggs, almond butter, and coconut butter in a food processor and mix well. Once all of your ingredients are blended, add in the coconut flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla, and salt. Pulse a few times to mix well.

Line 12 muffin tins or oil one 9×5 glass loaf pan and line with a parchment sling for easy removal. (I made 10 muffin tins and 2 tiny loaf pans.) Pour in your batter and spread it evenly if needed. Place pans in the preheated oven and bake for 16-20 minutes for muffins or 55-60 minutes for a large loaf. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven, let cool in pans for 10 minutes, then flip bread out from pans onto cooling racks to cool a bit before serving.

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Chicken Broccoli Alfredo

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This clean eating recipe is just the thing for your weeknight dinner. It was quick, healthy, delicious, and really did satisfy that desire for cheesy noodles I get from time to time. We ate it up and then we all went back for seconds. Even Aurelia started picking the broccoli out of my bowl.

I got this recipe from Alisa at Paleo in PDX. I love Portland, I love the blog, and I’m sure Alisa and I would be friends if we knew each other. Her recipes are just the sort I love to eat and make.

Skip the cheese, adapt the recipe with ghee or coconut oil (for the butter) and coconut milk or almond milk (for the cow’s milk) if you don’t do dairy. If you do use dairy, remember to always source from good farmers and happy, grass fed, hormone free cows.

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Chicken Broccoli Alfredo
Adapted from Paleo in PDX

Ingredients:
1 small spaghetti squash (or 1/2 large)
2 tsp coconut oil
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium head of broccoli, chopped (about 5 cups)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 onion, sliced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp coconut flour
1 cup milk (I used raw cow’s milk)
Pinch of nutmeg

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Instructions:
Start with your spaghetti squash. You have two ways to make it. Pick one or the other and go with it.

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Place skin side up in baking pan and fill pan about 1/4-inch high with water. Place pan in oven and bake for 30-45 minutes. Pierce with a knife after 15 minutes to test for doneness. The knife should slip through the skin easily. If not done, go for another 5 minutes and repeat. Once done, remove from pan, set on a cutting board, and carefully turn the squash flesh side up to cool more quickly. Or…

2. Pierce the whole spaghetti squash with a sharp knife 8-10 times, spaced out around the squash. Put it in the microwave and cook for 15-25 minutes, depending on how big your squash is. Only set the microwave for 5 minutes at a time and rotate the squash for even cooking. Pierce with a knife after 15 minutes to test for doneness. The knife should slip through the skin easily. If not done, go for another 5 minutes and repeat. Once done, remove from microwave, set on a cutting board, and carefully cut in half lengthwise to open and cool more quickly.

Now for the rest of the recipe. In a large skillet, melt the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and chicken pieces and season with sea salt and pepper. Let cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Next, add the broccoli pieces and sauté with the chicken. Turn the heat down to medium-low and continue to stir occasionally, until the chicken is done and the broccoli is tender. Once done, keep warm over low heat.

Now, whip up the sauce. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium low heat and whisk in the coconut flour to
make a roux. Whisk constantly for one minute and then slowly add the milk. Turn the heat up to medium high and continue to whisk for another five minutes or until it has thickened. Add the nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Once the spaghetti squash is done and cool enough to handle, scrape out the shreds (noodles) with a fork. Add the noodles to the pan with the chicken and broccoli, and then pour the sauce over top. Mix together until well incorporated, over low heat. Taste and add more sea salt and pepper if necessary. Serve hot!

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Mighty Cookies

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I made up the name Mighty Cookies because these little gems are just packed with fiber and flavor. I’m not saying they’re good for you, but as far as cookies go, these aren’t so devilish. The recipe I adapted called them breakfast cookies, but really, what a poor way to start the day.

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Have these for dessert, after a good meal, dipped in whole milk, eaten slowly and with little ones you love. The chewy, dense texture is satisfying and though they be small, they are … well, mighty. Enjoy!

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Mighty Cookies
Adapted from Allrecipes

Ingredients:
1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup oat bran
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup ground flax meal
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup almond butter
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup honey
2 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup raisins
2 oz dark chocolate, chopped (or 3/4 cup chocolate chips)

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Instructions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Pulse the walnuts in a food processor several times to chop; continue processing until they are ground fine; transfer to a bowl. Mix in the rolled oats, oat bran, whole wheat flour, flax meal, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon until thoroughly combined.

Combine the almond butter, coconut oil, honey, egg, and vanilla extract in the food processor and process to blend the ingredients well; transfer the almond butter mixture to a large bowl. Mix the raisins and chocolate chips in with the walnut-oatmeal mixture and then fold into the almond butter mixture. The dough will be thick!

Use a cookie scoop or tablespoon to form the dough into balls; lay the dough balls onto the prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.

Bake in the preheated oven until lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and flatten the cookies with a spatula. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes on the baking sheets before removing to finish cooling on wire racks.

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Crab & Pea Salad

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This is not really a recipe, but rather the simple combination of complements. It was light, delicious and fresh crab is a rare treat at home in Idaho. What a chore to get the meat! But there is a reason we do the work. Aurelia is especially fond of it and I spent a half hour cracking open crab legs for her appetite and this perfect salad. Peas are a spring veg, but they are one that survive surprisingly well freezing. If you use frozen peas, just thaw them out in hot water for a couple minutes, drain, and rinse under cold water before using.

Crab & Pea Salad

Ingredients:
3/4 cup crab meat
Juice from 1 lemon (about 2 Tbs)
1 tsp olive oil
1 Tbs onion, finely chopped
1 cup peas
2 Tbs parmesean cheese
2 cups spinach or spring greens
pinch crushed red chili pepper
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

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Instructions:
Mix the crab meat with the peas, lemon juice, onion, olive oil, chili pepper, salt, and pepper. In a serving bowl, put the spinach, top with the crab and pea mixture, and sprinkle on the parmesean. That’s it!

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Link Love

I have a pretty bright blogroll on the right sidebar, but I’ve been reading some new blogs lately that need their own spotlight. If you’re up for some inspiration, check out these gems:

Spinach Salami Crustless Quiche

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I often make crustless quiches on the weekends with whatever veg, meat, and occasionally cheese is still in the fridge before I grocery shop and meal plan for the next week.

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The basic recipe is always the same and it’s so forgiving, you can change the amounts rather generously without ruining anything.

Start by buttering a pie pan. Preheat the oven to 375. In a skillet over medium heat, heat a tsp of coconut oil or butter and saute half an onion, garlic, and add whatever spices you’d like. Add whatever other veg you’d like (spinach,  artichokes, mushrooms, peppers, etc) and cook until everything is softened and starting to brown. Add about a cup of precooked meat or fish, mix it up, and put all that cooked veg and meat into the prepared pie pan. Sprinkle over any cheese if you’re using it, but don’t use much.

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Now, in a separate bowl, whisk together 4 eggs and 1 cup of egg whites (or 8 eggs or 2 cups egg whites) with a splash of milk. Pour the eggs over the veg and meat and use a spatula or spoon to gently stir just a bit to ensure some egg is making it to the bottom of the dish. Put in the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes.

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So simple, right? For instance, last weekend I made a wonderful version with all egg whites, mushrooms, spinach, and cotija cheese. No spices. Just straight forward and awesome.

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This weekend I chopped up the end of a summer salami sausage and used a whole pound of spinach with some oregano, paprika, and crushed red peppers and just a little cheddar. Oh my gosh. The fat in the salami with all those greens and the bit of heat was so yummy!

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Try making a crustless quiche or a fritatta if you’d like to start cooking it on the stove and finish it in the oven. My cast iron is still not seasoned well enough to handle eggs yet, so the pie plate makes life easier for me. Have fun with the recipe and let me know what you make! Like I said, it’s versatile. Use what you’ve got, what will fill you up, and give your morning a good serving of protein and flavor.

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