Pink Hearts and A Chocolate Mustache

meringueheartwithwatermark First of all, let me just say that it’s been Valentine’s Day for me every day around here since I started blogging again.  I am making my usual blog food messes, but get so caught up in my picture-taking, tidying, food preparation, and watching the kitchen timer that sometimes I don’t even realize until I finish a project and turn around to wash my dishes that my funny Valentine has already done them.  It’s crazy great!  I’m so thankful for the help.  Because he has been so giving and helpful (and feeling lucky to be one of my three taste testers) I didn’t mind finishing my day by making a variety of GAPS friendly Valentines Day treats for him and my boys.  There will be no exchanging of the traditional velvet covered box of chocolates this year.  I had to see what I could come up with.

Meringue hearts are a little cliché but they seemed like the perfect solution.  There were a couple of problems concerning them, however.  I am only using honey right now and wasn’t sure if the meringue would whip and hold with the addition of the extra liquid rather than granulated sugar.  Also, cream of tartar is not technically allowed on GAPS.  My husband really is healing, too.  I didn’t want to slow his progress. Finally I decided that since I was only planning to use a pinch, there was very little chance the cream of tartar could negatively affect our digestive healing processes.

The honey did prove problematic.  I whipped up a batch of perfectly pink meringue, disgustingly sweet Valentine’s/baby shower pink.  I baked the meringues for one hour at 250 degrees.  They turned brown.  I growled a little about having to repeat the entire process.  Then…I tasted the golden meringue hearts.  Oh my!  Like caramel or perfectly toasted marshmallows!  My husband tried one and said that he couldn’t wait to nibble them with coffee.  GAPS friendly biscotti?  Oh, yes!  Piped into strips, maybe?  Not long after, when I chopped almonds and melted chocolate for my other planned Valentine goodies, I decided that these ingredients could only make the darker meringue hearts more special.  So I started dipping them and decorating them.

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I baked the second batch of Sweet ‘n’ Low pink meringues for two hours at 200 degrees.  The honey in them still turned them a bit, but only to a more golden hue of pink.

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Meringue Hearts

1 egg white

Pinch of salt

1 and 1/2 tablespoons raw honey

A touch of Wilton Rose Petal pink food color gel, just the tiniest bit on the end of a toothpick.

Pinch of cream of tartar

Turn oven to 200 degrees.  Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Whip the eggs on medium speed with an electric mixer until they are frothy.

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Sprinkle in the cream of tartar and salt.  Whip on high speed and drizzle in the honey and color.

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Keep whipping until the mixture holds a soft peak.

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Spoon into a piping bag with no tip.  Press the tip of the bag to the paper and squeeze to make a dollop of meringue.  Lift to release, making a point or half a heart.  Repeat alongside to make the other half of the heart.

043 I sprinkled a few of them with colored sugar.  Now tomorrow I have to remember that those few are not allowed in my mouth, as they no longer qualify as GAPS.

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Bake for 2 hours.

To make the darker meringues I unintentionally baked (I meant to do that. ), turn the oven to 250 and leave them in for 1 hour.  Boy. what a difference 50 degrees makes!

As soon as they are cool, store them in an airtight container.

The idea for my second Valentine sweet creation came from Cara at Health, Home, & Happiness.  She has been my GAPS guru through the last few weeks.  I can hardly wait each morning for her latest news to pop up in my inbox.  Her recipe for GAPS Friendly Chocolate truffles has had me in a tizzy for days and wondering if I would I would be able to wait until Valentine’s Day to try them.  I did it!  And though it’s around 3a.m. and technically Valentine’s Day, I can wait until this evening for sampling them with my sweetheart.

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I changed the ingredients a bit but they turned out beautifully.  Some I added an entire almond to, then rolled into a ball before coating in chopped almonds.  Others I dipped in 85% Lindt chocolate which is dairy and soy free but contains a touch of turbinado sugar.  A true GAPS cheat that hasn’t been hurting us since we added it in a couple of weeks ago.  As a nod to my favorite chocolate shop, French Broad Chocolate Lounge, I sprinkled a hint of Himalayan salt on a few (The sea salt caramels in the shop make me drool, though I’ve yet to sample one.), and a pinch of cayenne on a couple of others.

Chocolate Truffles

1 cup of cocoa powder

1/4 c. melted coconut oil

1/4 c. honey

Pinch of Himalayan salt

1/4 c. almond milk

I just melted the coconut oil over very low heat.

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I mixed in the almond milk and honey, then stirred in the cocoa until no lumps remained.

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The GAPS truffle mix is so thick that a spoon can stand up straight in the center. VERY rich and creamy!

I found that I didn’t even have to chill it as recommended, but was able to start rolling and dipping.  The only problem with that was that the cocoa that I rolled some of the truffles in was absorbed by the room temperature coconut oil.  I will have to re-dip them after dinner before serving.

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Gaps friendly, dairy free almond truffles made with coconut oil, raw honey, and almond milk.

And, wow!  I was sure after all that dipping and decorating and sampling as I went along that I was sporting a chocolate mustache and goatee.  Very romantic on Valentine’s Day.  Pretty.  But no, just a mustache.

Apple Dumpling Chicken

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Just before Christmas, my friend Stacy shared with me the method she used to roast her Thanksgiving turkey.

When I made our turkey this year, I stuffed it with apples, pears, oranges, brown sugar, butter, and rosemary! It was so moist and delicious and you could taste the fruit in the meat….also the gravy made from the drippings was some kind of awesome!

I assumed that she remembered from all of my pork with fruit posts that I LOVE meat cooked with fruit, and was very grateful to have her pass this idea on to me.

We had a second Christmas dinner when my dad and his wife came to visit after the holiday had ended.  I used Stacy’s idea to roast a fruity chicken.  Guess what.  Stacy was right.  The whole thing was “some kind of awesome”!

It struck me yesterday, after a wave of discouragement smacked me for temporarily turning my blog into a health nut cooking site, that GAPS food doesn’t have to be boring.  Without cream and whippy chocolate things, and bread to sop everything up with, it is really very mundane, so I decided that I would just have to look harder at the list of foods we are allowed to have and get creative.   After all, the whole purpose of blogging for me is to try to think outside the box.

Then I remembered Stacy’s turkey.  Okay, so I totally stole the idea, no creativity required, but I realized that we can have apples on GAPS.  We can have raisins, cinnamon, honey, and roast meats on GAPS…and there were these two birds sitting in the fridge needing to be made into stock…

Rather than dumping them in a pot to simmer away so that we could eat more and more and more of the brown boiled chicken we’ve had so much of over the last month, I stole the bones from the chickens, ripped them right out of their yeller skins, refusing to eat another wimpy, limp piece of cooked-to-mush chicken, and set to work.  I turned one of the birds into Apple Dumpling Chicken (Get it?  The chicken is the pastry?  When I’m off GAPS I’m going to wrap the entire apple/cinnamon/raisin stuffed bird in an enormous sheet of puff pastry.  I really am.) and marinated the second chicken to use another day.

An hour and a half later, my family and I were sitting down to the most tender, juicy chicken I have ever eaten.  Dark meat, white meat…didn’t matter.  Moist and tasty through and through.  Like Stacy said, the meat picks up the flavor of the fruit, but I think it is so tender because the fruit steams the bird from the inside out and it just melts in your mouth.  Like butta!

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken.  I needed the bones for stock so deboned my bird, but an easier method would be to just leave it whole and stuff the cavities.

4 peeled, cored apples cut into wedges.  Choose apples that keep their shape during the cooking process, if you are using a deboned chicken, so that the whole thing doesn’t fall flat when it’s roasted.

1/4 c. raisins

Himalayan salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Cinnamon

Ghee or butter.  I’m using ghee, coconut oil, and extra virgin olive oil for cooking while we are on GAPS.

3 T raw honey

3 T water

Method:

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Place the chicken in a roasting pan, then rub it down with ghee or butter.

Season it, inside and out, with salt and pepper.

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Stuff the cavities with apples and raisins and sprinkle with cinnamon.  Add a few dollops of butter or ghee.  Seal up the bird if necessary, truss if you like.

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Roast for 35 minutes.  Reduce the heat to 300 degrees and roast for an additional 30 minutes.

Mix together the honey and water to make a glaze.

Brush the honey/water over the bird.

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Increase oven temp. to 400 and allow the bird to brown for 10 minutes.  Baste with the pan drippings and more honey glaze and roast for another 5 to 10 minutes.

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Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes or so.

Serve sliced with apples and raisins.

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Use the “some kind of awesome” pan drippings to lace each serving with apple dumpling goodness.

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Almond Crusted Pork Sirloin Roast

023 That Paula Deen…tempting me with her insanely delectable Southern food combinations!  This time I was able to outsmart her.

Sick baby (well, as tall as me but still my baby), sick mama.  He had fevers all day and asked if he could camp out in the living room where he had been lying for hours and if I could sleep close by to comfort him.  Of course, my poor, sweet baby.  So I’m in the recliner watching The Walking Dead marathon through half the night, which isn’t helping my nausea one bit, but finally have enough and change the channel somewhere near dawn.  I fall asleep and wake up after 9 to find the queen of the Southern kitchen rolling a pork loin in a combination of cracker crumbs (makes sense) and crumbled sugar cookies.  SUGAR COOKIES!  By this time my stomach is growling and I’m hoping that this will not be day three of the quease, and am grateful to Paula for restoring my appetite.  Little Guy’s fever has broken.  I get up and make breakfast, lunch, snacks, cooked vegetables, and heat broth for the day in case the ick creeps back up on me.

How can I have what I want?  Roll the dang pork sirloin I have planned for Sunday dinner in the almond meal I have left from making almond milk, of course.  Everything goes in almond meal these days.  And it wasn’t sugary sweet Southern, but turned out just as beautifully as Mrs. Deen’s.

Little Guy informed me after eating his piece that he doesn’t like almonds at all and requested that I cut the crust from his pork next time.  Well that’s a first and really made me giggle.  I mean I’ve cut the crust off of bread once or twice… His almond repulsion is also new to me.  I’ll try to remember that.  Guess I’ve been overdoing it with the almonds lately.  He did enjoy the Cinnamon Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Drops that I made for a snack for him and his brother. They were almond free.  I’m blogging them tomorrow.  Maybe I should add an “Almond Free” category to the blog for him and a “Kale Free” list for my husband.  Giggle.  They make me laugh.

Here’s the recipe.  It was easy as pie!  No, wait…much easier.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 lb. pork sirloin roast

1/2 tsp. Himalayan salt, coarsely ground

1/2 tsp. black peppercorns, coarsely ground

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

1/4 c. almond meal

Method:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place a rack inside a baking pan or dish.

Combine the almonds, salt, pepper, and coriander.

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Roll the sirloin in the mixture to coat.

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Place on the rack.  I followed  Paula Deen’s instructions here and it allowed the roast to crisp all around.

Roast for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  I don’t know how Paula’s pork loin cooked for only 30 minutes, but it looked done to me.  My sirloin was thicker and took much longer to reach the proper internal temp.

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I let it rest for 15 minutes before slicing.

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