Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bites

Happy New Year!  It’s been a long minute since my last blog.  With our vacation, the holidays, and a toddler I can barely sit still for longer than 5 minutes these days.  I love a new year… don’t you?!  It’s a fresh start.  A clean slate.  A time to reflect.  A time to be thankful you made it through another year!  And for me and my hubs, we set new goals.  We did keep some of our goals from last year, but this year we added a few more.  I’m hopeful that even though the first 3 weeks of this year have been a bit poopy, stressful, and not heading in the direction we had hoped for…I’m trying really hard to be positive and believe that our steps will be guided and God will lead us down the right path.

Adulting is hard sometimes.  SO…I decided to bake.  It’s what I like to do when I’m in a funky mood.  Here is what I’m calling my ‘Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bites’.  They’re the perfect 2-3 bite dessert when you need just a little something sweet after a good meal, or a perfect little snack to get you through the rest of your afternoon.  I hope you love these as much as we did!  ❤

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Ingredients:

For the Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1/4 + 1 tbsp tapioca flour
  • 1/4 + 1 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Salted Caramel:

  • 1 cup organic brown sugar, packed + 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • big pinch of kosher salt

For the Apples:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 apples, cored and diced small
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2-3 tbsp reserved salted caramel
  • pinch of kosher salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Grease a loaf pan and add parchment paper.  I leave enough parchment paper hanging off the sides so it’s easier to pull it out of the pan once it cools.
  2. Make the Salted Caramel Sauce first so it has time to completely cool.
  3. In a small saucepan heat the heavy cream on low heat.  While the heavy cream hangs out, in another saucepan add the brown sugar and water.  Stir together, then let it boil on medium-high heat for about five minutes. Pull the brown sugar mixture off the heat and slowly add the heavy cream.  Whisk in the butter and salt.   Pour into a bowl to cool.
  4. Put all of the “crust” ingredients in a food processor (I used my ninja) and pulse until it forms a dough.  Use your fingers to mash the dough into your prepared pan.
  5. Use a fork to poke holes into the dough so it doesn’t rise during baking.  Bake for 20 minutes or until it’s golden brown.
  6. While your dough bakes, make the apples.
  7. In a saute pan on medium heat – melt the butter and add the apples.  While the apples are cooking add the cinnamon, nutmeg, caramel sauce and a pinch of salt.  Let the apples cook until they’re soft.
  8. Your dough should be done baking at this point.  I let mine cool for a few minutes before I added the apples.
  9. Use a big spoon and cover the bottom of the dough with the salted caramel sauce, then add the apple mixture.  Bake for another 15 minutes.
  10. Your kitchen will smell amazing!  Let it completely cool before you try to cut them.  I cut mine into little squares.  Feel free to cut yours into bars if you want to.  I nice little dollop of vanilla ice cream would be delicious on top of this!

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Quinoa, Spinach, and Beet Salad

Who doesn’t just LOVE a summertime salad?!  Over the last few months, I’ve become a lover of all things BEETS.   All it took was one salad out at one of our favorite restaurants and I was hooked!  As much as I love beets, quinoa has become another ‘carb’ I’ve started eating on a regular basis.  My husband and I decided that we are going to try to cut out meat a few times a week…mainly as a test to see how our bodies feel.  So, I started looking up different foods that have a good amount of protein and quinoa made the cut.  We’re still keeping fish in our diet.  Wild Salmon is one of our favorite weekly meals. We’re not big bean eaters since we eat Paleo 95% of the time, so I really didn’t want to go that route.  Quinoa isn’t considered Paleo, but it is gluten free and that makes me happy!  I decided to throw it into this salad in hopes that it would help keep us full longer.  Low and behold – it did!  My hubby wasn’t too big on quinoa, but after this salad, he’s become a fan!

This salad is perfect for a light lunch or dinner.  It would be perfect with any type of protein.  I put some grilled chicken on top of it, although it isn’t pictured.  We don’t always eat cheese, but every now and then I have to have a little feta on my salad!  🙂  It adds a little creamy and saltiness that is just perfect.  Go make this salad!!  Your belly will love you!!!  🙂

quinoa, spinach, and beet salad

Yields: 2-4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup organic quinoa, cooked and cooled
  • 1 organic beet, peeled and shredded (with a box grater)
  • 2 organic carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 2 cups packed organic spinach, roughly chopped
  • handful of cilantro, roughly chopped
  • garnish with organic feta cheese, optional
  • top with your favorite protein if desired… we ate this with grilled chicken!

Dressing:

  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice – 1 lime should be enough if it’s juicy
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 2-3 tbsp honey or maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pinch of cayenne, optional

Directions:

  1. If you want a protein with this salad, start cooking that first.
  2. Throw all of the salad ingredients together into a bowl and toss together.
  3. Pour the dressing on top of the salad mixture.  Toss again.  Top with a protein.  EAT!!!  It’s that easy!!!

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Fourth of July Potato Salad

Every cooking show I’ve been watching this week has been making the most incredible looking BBQ, potato salads, and PIES!!!  Just looking at these foods makes my mouth water!!!  Growing up in the South, you’re either raised with the most delicious BBQ restaurants around…OR…somebody in your family knows how to throw down on a grill or smoker and make some of the BEST BBQ you’ve ever put in your mouth.  My experience comes from my mom and grandfather who know how to cook some meat on a grill.  Let me just tell you…since living in South Florida, I have missed my mama’s smoked meat!  I’m pretty sure my hubby has too.  🙂  So, I made some BBQ chicken and potato salad this week to hopefully “fix” my craving.  I’ll be completely honest…since I don’t have a grill or smoker, my BBQ chicken did not turn out as I had hoped, BUT my potato salad might have been one of the best potato salads I’ve ever made!  And YES!!!  It’s completely Paleo/Gluten Free which makes me even more happy!!!

If you take this Fourth of July Potato Salad to your next BBQ or family gathering, I promise it’ll be a huge hit!!! 🙂

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Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs organic white sweet potatoes or regular potatoes (whatever you prefer), medium diced
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, diced
  • 3 stalks of organic celery, small diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, small diced
  • 1/4 cup purple onion, small diced
  • 1/2 cup Paleo Mayonnaise (homemade or store bought)**
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup organic sweet pickle relish (make sure it’s all natural and doesn’t have any high fructose corn syrup)
  • 1 heaping tbsp organic yellow mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • sprinkle of cayenne pepper, optional
  • 3-4 strips of bacon, cooked and chopped up for garnish

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat.  Add the potatoes and cook until fork tender, about 15 minutes.  Once cooked, drain the potatoes and let them cool for a few minutes.
  2. While your potatoes are cooking, get the veggies and dressing ready.
  3. In a small bowl mix together the mayonnaise, relish, mustard, salt, pepper and cayenne.  Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl add the potatoes, celery, bell pepper, hard boiled eggs, and onion.
  5. Pour the mayonnaise dressing on top of the potatoes and mix until well incorporated.  Refrigerate for at least an hour, or over night.  The longer it sits, the better it tastes!  Serve your potato salad in a pretty bowl and garnish with some chopped up bacon.  Your friends and family will LOVE it and I’m pretty sure you will too!!!

**Feel free to make your own Paleo mayonnaise OR if you buy store bought, look for a mayonnaise that’s nonGMO, cholesterol free, gluten free, soy free, and no artificial ingredients!  I found some at Whole Foods and it actually tastes amazing!  I buy it all the time now!**

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Blueberry Lemon Cake

Disclaimer:  This is NOT Paleo 😦  I’m thinking I need to try to come up with a healthier version of this sometime soon! I was asked to bring a dessert to our Fourth of July BBQ… So this is what I made.

I am by no means the greatest baker in the world at all, but I do love to bake… whether it’s a cake, homemade brownies, or pies, I love making them!  I will admit… if I make a cake, nine times out of ten, my cake is going to be totally lop-sided.  I don’t know why I can’t make a straight cake?!  I have made some of the ugliest cakes, but they tasted amazing!  With all that said, this cake was probably one of the best ones I’ve made in a long time AND it wasn’t too lop-sided!!  I was super happy with how it looked and tasted!!  This is another recipe I found on Pinterest that didn’t fail me.  It’s so moist and delicious!

Ingredients for the cake:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 and 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • zest + juice of 3 lemons
  • 1 and 1/2 blueberries  (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour

Ingredients for Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 2 – 8 oz packages of full fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
  • 7 cups powdered sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp heavy cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 3 9×2 inch cake pans with non-stick spray.  Set aside.  In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together.  Set aside.
  2. Using a hand-held or standing mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high until creamy; about 1 minute.  Add the sugars and beat on medium-high speed until creamed, about 2-3 minutes.  Be sure to scrape down the sides as needed.  Add eggs one at a time, beating on medium speed.  Add vanilla and continue beating until everything is well combined, about 2 full minutes.  Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl; set aside.
  3. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the sugar and butter mixture, alternating with the buttermilk on low speed until well incorporated.  Then add the zest and lemon juice beating on medium speed.  Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl one more time making sure everything is well mixed.
  4. Toss the blueberries in 1 tbsp of flour and fold into the batter.  Don’t over mix.
  5. Spoon the batter evenly into 3 prepared cake pans.  I like to use a measuring cup to make sure all pans are even. Bake the three pans for about 24-26 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.

raw cake in pans     cooked cake

For the frosting:

* Using a hand-held or standing mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium speed until there are no lumps, 2-3 minutes.  Add the powdered sugar a little bit at a time on low speed and add the vanilla.  Add heavy cream a little bit at a time until it becomes the consistency you like.  Add more heavy cream if needed.

Assemble and frost the cake: 

* Using a serrated knife, trim off the tops of the cake to create a flat surface.  Place 1 layer on a cake stand (or plate).  Cover the top with frosting.  Add second layer of cake, more frosting, then the third layer.  Top with frosting and spread it around the sides of the cake.  Garnish with blueberries or lemon slices.  I used a strawberry to make it red, white, and blue for Fourth of July.  Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes before cutting or else the cake might fall apart as you cut it.

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* Make 1 day in advance if you’d like.  Keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.

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This isn’t decorated properly for a picture, but I wanted to show a picture of what the cake looked like on the inside.

Hope you enjoy!  🙂