It’s the new year and everyone is making resolutions to work out, get organized, spend more time doing one thing, or less time doing another, ahem, BLOG MORE? and of course, eat healthier foods. Keith and I have sadly gotten way off the Paleo bandwagon, but are determined to do better in 2015. This past weekend after whipping up a giant batch of Caveman Chili….still a Bordeaux family favorite…Keith decided he wanted something sweet. And then he got specific about it. He wanted something sweet that involved “pears, and maybe dates and nuts that was like a cobbler.” So of course I took that as a challenge….not to hunt through my cookbooks for a recipe…but to make up one myself. And then this old familiar feeling crept in and I knew I wanted to make something up and then blog about it. Because frankly, sharing is more fun and I miss you people.
So I did a trial run Saturday night and it was absolutely amazing and precisely what Keith was hoping for. And we ate all of it, which meant Sunday night involved a trip to the grocery store and then the making of batch #2…this time carefully writing down how much I used of what, tweaking a few things that didn’t go super easy the first time, etc. And it was just as delicious. So behold, I bring you an original, pretty much healthy (minus some sugar naturally contained in fruit and honey) and absolutely tasty desert.
“Mini Paleo Pear-Date Bake”
Time: about 15 minutes prep time & 15 minutes bake time
Makes: 6 individual portions….so feeds 6 people, or 3 hungry people, or 2 super-hungry people….
*2 Bartlett pears
*2 cups pitted dates
*1 Tablespoon honey
*1/4 cup water
*1 teaspoon coconut oil (plus additional for topping….see instructions below)
*1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
*1/4 to 1/2 cups crushed walnuts
*6, 4-oz Ramekins (dishes)
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees (F).
2. Slice both pears using an apple corer. Set aside 6 slices of pear (we’ll get to those later) and throw the rest of the pear slices in the food processor and blend until chopped finely. (A minute or two) (note: I actually tried to make this in the blender the first night and while it tasted excellent it took about twice as long and was kind of a pain. I recommend a food processor if you have one, but if you don’t, a high power blender like a Ninja or something will do the trick if you have patience.)
3. Add the 2 cups of pitted dates, 1 tablespoon of honey, 1/4 cup water, 1 teaspoon coconut oil and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon to the food processor. Blend as long as needed to achieve a puree about the consistency of baby food or applesauce.
4. Fill each ramekin with about 3 ounces of puree (I grabbed a spoon from my everyday silverware to spoon it into the ramekins and it was about two heaping spoon-fulls per ramekin.). No need to grease or butter or line the ramekins. Just spoon the puree on in there.
5. Slice the remaining 6 pear slices thinly and then cut them in half so that they (roughly) make small triangular slices. Insert the slices around the edges of the ramekins standing up and then one in the center. (see photos below to see how it should look).
6. Using either pre-crushed walnuts from a package or crushing your own (Keith crushed our walnuts in a mortar and pestle and they were perfect) sprinkle them over the top of each ramekin to cover the entire surface of the puree. I used approximately 2 1/2 teaspoons crushed nuts per ramekin….use more or less to taste.
7. The last step before baking is to put a thin layer of coconut oil over the nut topping. After trying it several different ways over the course of two evenings, I think there’s no real exact science to this. I used a butter knife to scrape tiny bits off and put about four small pieces in sort of a circle on the nut topping of each Ramekin so that when it melts, it would cover the entire top. (again, see photos below for some clarification.)
8. Line up the 6 ramekins on a cookie sheet (this makes it easier than trying to get the individual ones in and out of the oven) and bake on 325 for 15 minutes.
9. Best enjoyed when hot as it tastes like a cobbler! But, if you want to save some for the next day, just cover over with plastic wrap and store in the fridge. They reheat well in the microwave on high for 40 seconds. Also, never-mind if the pears turn brown. They still taste fantastic.
Variations: While I haven’t tried making variations yet because I was trying to get this one right…but here are a few ideas that I have for down the road or that might be fun…
*substitute dried apricots for pitted dates as they have less amounts of sugar.
*substitute 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg for the 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.
*substitute apples for pears.
I’d LOVE to know what you think if you try this recipe out…and if you make any variations, I’d love to know about that too! Leave a comment below!
Wednesday night I got the cooking bug, which is something that I need to get more often. And although I might cheat on my healthy eating when I eat out (or am on the road), my Paleo experience did change one thing: the way I grocery shop, meaning that cooking at home is my best bet if I want to be healthy. First, I whipped up a batch of my Squashed Banana Muffins, with two extra bananas instead of zucchini. It was a delicious variation and I loved having a muffin for breakfast this morning with zero guilt! Next, I made a beef stew that I’ll post next week. And then….I made a tasty treat to satisfy my sweet cravings.
Keith had actually found this amazing recipe on the internet the night before and when I saw how simple it was, I decided I needed to give it a try, and was so glad I did. Normally I alter recipes that I find online, but this one was just so good as it was that there was just no improving it, (although I did shorten the title a bit.) So all the credit goes to Rebecca Bohl of (PaleoGrubs.com) for this recipe…I just bring you notes (italicized) and photos, and a high high recommendation that this is a recipe you need to make. Now. And while I don’t have kids, it’s for sure a kid-friendly recipe as it doesn’t involve knives or the oven! Kids will love dumping all the ingredients into the food processor and watching it all whir around together and then what’s better than rolling things in little balls like play-dough?
Paleo Brownie Bites
- 1 1/2 cups walnuts
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup pitted dates
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- Add walnuts and salt to a blender or food processor. (*I have a fantastic food processor, but I actually chose to use my Ninja blender for this recipe and it worked great!) Mix until the walnuts are finely ground.
- Add the dates, vanilla, and cocoa powder to the blender. Mix well until everything is combined. With the blender still running, add a couple drops of water at a time to make the mixture stick together. (*I did about 10 drops of water, and I think it could have used a little more.)
- Using a spatula, transfer the mixture into a bowl. Using your hands, form small round balls, rolling in your palm. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. (*I let the balls sit in the fridge for about 20 minutes before I ate one, and I’d recommend doing it as they taste really great lightly chilled.)