Orange-Almond Spice Cookie Bars

IMG_0908by Karen Frazier

I have always been a baker. Puttering around in the kitchen baking stuff is one of my favorite ways to while away an autumn weekend afternoon while Jim watches football. With the celiac disease and my low-carb, paleo diet, however, I stopped engaging in that love. It’s only been recently that I’ve started tinkering with baking once again.

This recipe came to me in a flash of inspiration a few days ago, and I decided last night to give it a try. I was worried about lots of things – tweaking ratios, etc., but the cookies came out really well on the first try. Feel free to mess around with the flavor profiles. I love the way the orange, spice, almond, and chocolate blend in this tasty recipe.

The cookies are paleo-ish – the erythritol in the sweetener renders them not quite paleo; however, if you aren’t baking low-carb, you can replace the sweetener with coconut sugar. It will raise the carb count, but keep the cookies paleo. So it’s a matter of blood sugar vs. staying totally paleo.

Orange-Almond Spice Cookie Bars

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cup Swerve Sweetener or Truvia (for low-carb) or coconut sugar (for paleo)
  • 3/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • Zest of one orange
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups almond meal flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 6 ounces unsweetened dark chocolate
  • Liquid stevia, to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9×13 inch baking pan with parchment.
  2. In a large bowl, mix one cup of the coconut oil with the Swerve or Truvia, almond extract, orange zest, and Chinese Five Spice powder until well blended.
  3. Stir in the eggs, beating until well-combined.
  4. Stir in the almond flour and the sea salt, mixing until well combined.
  5. Spread the dough evenly in the prepared baking pan. Bake in the preheated oven until the cookies brown slightly around the edges (the top won’t brown), and the dough doesn’t have much give on the top, about 30 minutes. Cool for ten minutes.
  6. Lift the cookies out of the pan by lifting the parchment. Allow the cookies to cool completely on a wire rack.
  7. In a small saucepan, combine the remaining two tablespoons of coconut oil and the chocolate. Cook, stirring constantly, on low heat until the chocolate melts. Stir in the stevia a few drops at a time until you achieve the desired sweetness. The cookies are quite sweet, so I made my chocolate only lightly sweet to serve as a slightly bitter counterpoint to the sweetness of the cookies.
  8. Spread the chocolate in a very thin layer (or drizzle it artistically) on the cookies. Allow the chocolate to sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes to harden the chocolate slightly. Then, cut the cookies into small bars and transfer them to plates. Refrigerate to completely harden the chocolate.

Since I don’t eat a lot of sweet stuff, I’m keeping these cookies in the freezer, at the ready for when I need a sweet treat, or when I just want a taste of something completely different.

Advertisements

Grilled Beef Short Ribs with Apple and Jicama Slaw

short ribsby Karen Frazier

Okay – here’s the deal. I had leftover marinade from my earlier pork belly recipe, but alas, I had no unfrozen pork belly. Not to worry, however. I have about 10 pounds of it in my freezer (yay!)

So anyhoo…I wanted to use the rest of the marinade. Which is why I headed to the grocery store and picked up some flanken-style beef short ribs (the kind of beef short ribs where they are cut thin across several bones).

I marinated them in my extra marinade for a little over two hours, and then I popped them on my Foreman grill, which I consider a very underrated kitchen gadget. You can also grill them on the regular grill or use a grill pan.

Although the marinade was the same, the flavor was very different from the pork belly. The beef was super flavorful. As I was eating, I realized the ribs would be delish with a ginger broccoli stir-fry, but it’s also good with a crispy, slightly sweet, slightly acidic slaw (or why choose? you can do both!) I’ll include recipes for both, and you can decide.

Asian Marinated Flanken-Style Beef Short Ribs

  • 1/4 cup gluten-free soy sauce
  • 2-3 drops of liquid stevia
  • 2 tablespoons sriracha
  • 8 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger root
  • 2 to 3 pounds flanken-style beef short ribs
  • Sesame seeds
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, stevia, sriracha, garlic, sesame oil, and ginger root.
  2. Add the short ribs to a large zipper bag and pour in the marinade. Seal the bag and squish it around (I believe squish is a technical term) until all the meat is covered. Refrigerate for two to four hours. The longer the marinade, the more flavor you’ll get. You can even marinade in the morning and cook when you get home.
  3. Preheat a grill on high.
  4. Grill the short ribs, three to four minutes per side.
  5. Sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving.

Broccoli Ginger Stir-Fry

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger root
  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  1. In a large saute pan, heat the coconut oil on medium-high until it shimmers.
  2. Add the ginger and broccoli and cook, stirring frequently, until the broccoli is crisp-tender, about five minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until it is fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the soy sauce. Cook for one minute, stirring frequently.

Apple and Jicama Slaw

  • 2 sweet-tart apples (I like Honeycrisp or Pink Lady), cored and julienned
  • 1 Jicama, peeled and julienned
  • Juice of two limes
  • Zest of half a lime
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger root
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  1. In a large bowl, combine the apples and jicama.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, lime zest, ginger root, rice vinegar, cilantro, olive oil, and sea salt.
  3. Toss the dressing with the apples and jicama.

So those are the recipes. Trust me, they’re delicious! But, I just thought of something else that would be really delicious with the short ribs…a bok choy stir-fry, cooked in a manner similar to the broccoli above. You might even toss in a handful of sliced shiitake mushrooms for a tasty low-carb side dish.

Spicy Asian Pork Belly with Slaw

pork bellyby Karen Frazier

I love pork belly. I order ours online at Tenderbelly and cut it into one-pound slabs, which I freeze and use as needed. This tender meat is tasty and versatile. It’s also very rich, so I typically serve it with a side of something that is crispy and acidic, such as a slaw. The acidity and crispiness of the slaw cuts through the unctuous fattiness of the pork. The slaw here is a typical Asian slaw, but you can also try the recipe with a slaw made from julienned jicama or apples, which would taste delicious with an Asian vinaigrette.

Spicy Asian Pork Belly with Slaw

For the pork belly:

  • 1 to 2 pounds of pork belly
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free soy sauce
  • 2-3 drops of liquid stevia
  • 2 tablespoons sriracha
  • 8 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated gingerroot
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced

For the slaw:

  • 4 cups shredded cabbage
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • Cilantro leaves to taste
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • Juice of one lime
  • Juice of 1/2 orange
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginggeroot
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese hot mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

For the pork belly:

  1. Slice the pork belly into slices that are slightly thicker than thick-cut bacon. Put the slices in a large zipper bag.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, stevia, sriracha, sesame oil, and gingerroot.
  3. Pour the marinade in the bag with the pork belly, sealing the bag and squishing it around to distribute the marinade and coat all of the meat.
  4. Refrigerate for one to two hours.
  5. Heat a large saute pan on medium high. Working in batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan, cook the pork belly until it is crisp on both sides, three to five minutes per side.
  6. Serve the pork belly on top of the slaw with the scallions and sesame seeds sprinkled on top.

For the slaw:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, carrots, cilantro, and scallions. Toss to combine.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the rice vinegar, lime juice, orange juice, olive oil, ginger, garlic, sriracha, mustard powder, and salt.
  3. Toss the dressing with the slaw.

photo credit: umi nom pork belly adobo via photopin (license)