Our 2017 Christmas Eve Party

This was our 4th Annual Christmas Eve party!  This years theme was Flannel and Fur.  Guests were asked to where some form of flannel, fur or plaid…pajamas count too!  People that participate are entered in the contest to win a prize which varies each year.  We also have a White Elephant Gift Exchange and a Euchre Tournament.  I’m not sure which one brings out the competitive side of people more, the exchange or Euchre?!

One of the tables and place settings

Our kitchen table and kitchen Christmas tree

Woodland theme tree and mantle

Mingling at the party and my favorite Santa pic!

The menu this year was geared around our theme for the party.  Wild game meats like Elk and Bison were some of the main dishes.  We also had the entire house decorated in a woodland theme.

Below is our menu, EVERYTHING was gluten free!  Some of the items have links for the recipes.  The ones without links I made on a whim.  A good majority of the items can be made ahead and reheated.  The breads and many of the desserts came from a gluten free bakery about an hour from us.

Menu

Appetizers 

  • Bacon wrapped dates (some were stuffed with cream cheese)
  • Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms  (I used gluten free breadcrumbs and streamed in olive oil to the processor to bring the filling all together)
  • Various flavors of Gluten free breads cut into quarters and served with compound butters we made with Kerrygold.
    • Butters:  Red Wine and Shallot, roasted garlic, honey sriracha, Italian herb, vanilla and cinnamon
    • Breads: cinnamon raisin, Rye, onion and poppyseed, caramelized onion and cheese, and olive
  • Assorted cheeses
  • Salami’s, prosciutto and soppressata
  • Selection of gluten free crackers
  • Three kinds of jams/jelly
  • Spiced almonds and walnuts
  • Grapes, black, green and kalamata olives, grape tomatoes, and cocktail cucumbers

Drinks

  • Berkey filtered water infused with frozen organic mango and cherries
  • LaCroix
  • Coffee (decaf and regular) with almond milk peppermint mocha creamer, organic eggnog, Kahlua, and cinnamon
  • Organic Hot chocolate with organic marshmallows (both from Whole Foods)
  • Beer and Organic Wines
  • Plus a few other bottles of liquor

Main Dishes

  • Elk Sweet Potato Chili
  • White Chicken Chili
    • Chili’s served with bowls of cheese, green onions, and organic sour cream
  • Pastured Smoked Ham
  • Bison Meatballs in BBQ sauce
  • Kielbasa with peppers and onions

Side Dishes

  • Green Beans with lemon zest, garlic and butter
  • Cherry, Pecan, and Butternut Squash Wild Rice Pilaf
  • Loaded Mashed Potatoes (Cheese, sour cream, butter, milk, bacon, and Chicken broth)

Desserts

The appetizer area and waters

Bacon Wrapped Dates and Goat Cheese stuffed mushrooms

Gluten free breads, compound butters, and jellies

Assorted cheeses, meats, and crackers

Wine, beers, and liquor station

Coffee and hot chocolate station

Mango and cherry infused filtered water

Food Station

We like to use Chafers to keep the food hot so guests can graze all night if they’d like to.  It also makes prep easier because it opens up oven space by being able to make the food and keep it hot before the party starts.

Elk and sweet potato chili

I used 2 pounds of ground Elk that my husband hunted himself in Montana.  It also had tomato paste, chicken bone broth, sweet potatoes, pumpkin salsa, lots of seasonings, onion, and bell pepper.

White Chicken Chili

This had organic chicken I cooked in my pressure cooker to make it super tender in no time at all.  Coconut milk to make it creamy, chicken bone broth, red bell pepper, onion, cumin, oregano, chili powder, organic canned corn, and potato starch to thicken it.

BBQ Bison Meatballs

Three pounds of ground wild bison meat mixed with gluten free chickpea breadcrumbs, pastured eggs, fresh parsley, fresh garlic, dry white wine, salt and pepper.

Smoked ham

This was a pasture raised ham from the whole hog we purchased this last summer.  I simply baked it in the oven because it was smoked when we had it butchered and nothing else was added to it.

Sausage, peppers and onions

I bought these Kielbasa at Costco and love them because not only do they taste good but they are also free of unnecessary junk like nitrates and nitrites.   Tried a new way of cooking all of it to not have to stand over the stove and it turned out perfect!  I stuck the sausage on a rimmed baking sheet and baked at 350 for about 15 minutes or so.  The peppers and onions I drizzled with olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper in a roasting pan and baked at 350 until desired level of doneness.  Totally hands off and cooked perfectly!

Winter Wild Rice Pilaf

I cooked organic wild rice and long grain brown rice.  Roasted some butternut squash (pre-cut, frozen, organic from Costco!), and browned some onions in Kerrygold.  Then I mixed together the rice, squash, onions, chopped pecans, roasted garlic infused avocado oil, butter, dried cherries, pepper and italian seasoning.

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Loaded Mashed Potatoes

These babies were delicious according to the guests but a total pain to make!  They almost destroyed my new Vitamix!  I used organic russet potatoes and had the help of my really amazing dad to peel and cut 20 pounds of them.  Yes, 20 pounds!  (I used the leftover mashed potatoes to make creamy ham and potato soup.  I just chopped up leftover ham and mixed the potatoes with extra milk and broth to thin it out. Added some extra cheese and voila!)   The mashed potatoes were extremely difficult to puree but eventually we managed to get them smooth with the use of a a hand held blender and lots and lots of broth and organic milk.  They also had tons of cheese, sour cream and butter.  Topped it all with some chopped uncured bacon and more cheese!

Lemon and garlic green beans

Frozen, organic green beans steamed then coated in Kerrygold, garlic powder, freshly grated lemon zest and a sprinkling of sea salt.

This party takes a ton of work but it’s something we look forward to every year.  Our girls say it is their favorite thing we do, and building memories and traditions is what life is about.  My husband is my ultimate teammate and we work side by side for all of it.  He does the setup and I do the cooking.  This year my parents offered to come help, to which I am so appreciative and couldn’t have accomplished it all without them.  My girls got to cook with their Mimi and Pipi and laughed and giggled all day long.

I pray you have a blessed New Year and many more to come!

Gluten Free Chocolate Zucchini Bread


Last week I posted on Instagram a pic of the mounds of zucchini, yellow squash and cucumbers from my garden.  I joked how my husband is sick of me making zucchini for dinner after dinner (side note: this bread is loaded with zucchini and he devoured it last night, asking for more because he enjoyed it so much!).  In the post I asked for ideas on how to use up all this abundance and got some incredible ideas!  Below are some of the ideas people wrote.


Here are a few other ways I’ve been cooking them up/preserving them:

  • Zucchini chips in my dehydrator: slice with a medium blade on a mandolin, spritz with lemon juice, spray lightly olive oil, and sprinkle with seasoning of choice (I used Everything Bagel Blend). Dehydrate for about 5 hours at 135°.
  • Chorizo and zucchini frittata! This was incredible!  I made it for dinner one night and ate the rest for breakfast the next few days.
  • Zucchini lasagna! Mine was sans dairy but the family had one loaded with grass-fed cheese.
  • Frozen for smoothies!  Yes, smoothies!  The flavor is so mild you can’t taste it but your smoothie gets a major boost of nutrition without the sugar crash from loads of fruit.  Simply cut into slices, steam, freeze, and stick in a blender when ready to use.
  • Dehydrated for soups, stews, chilis come wintertime when prices for them are though the roof!  I cut into bite size pieces, blanched with citric acid and dehydrated until dried to a crisp. Stuck in a baggie and in the freezer until I need them!
  • Zoodle pasta (spiralized zucchini), sautéed, roasted, and stuffed with meat and cheese.

If you noticed one of my amazing followers suggested chocolate zucchini bread!  I had recently made a loaf of cinnamon zucchini bread so I thought hmm thats a great idea to change it up!  Thus was born this recipe.  I have to rat myself out that the pic I am using isn’t my photo!  I sent the recipe to my bff and she sent me the pics after she made it.  There was no possible way I could make it look more beautiful than she did! So, I am totally stealing her pic and using it.  Because I’m a good friend like that! 


Gluten Free Chocolate Zucchini Bread

  • Servings: 2 regular loaves or 1 large loaf
  • Difficulty: easy
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Chocolatey, rich, perfectly moist, not too dense, with a touch of sweetness…this chocolate zucchini bread is also gluten, dairy, soy and refined sugar free!  Whips up quickly and can be frozen for later devouring.

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 large eggs
  • 4 cups shredded zucchini (do NOT drain the water out)
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup avocado oil or other mild tasting oil
  • 3 cups gluten free flour blend (I used Namaste flour blend from Costco. I would assume that Cassava flour would sub well! As well as all purpose regular flour if you don’t have to be gluten free)
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour (different brands have different absorption rates mine tends to be less absorptive so you may only need 3TB if yours is very absorptive)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup cacao nibs (I like the crunch and nutritional benefits but feel free to use any type of chocolate chips)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.  Line two loaf pans with parchment paper so the paper drapes over the sides for ease of removing from the pans and cleanup!  You could also use one loaf pan and make a giant loaf but it will take much longer to bake and doesn’t bake as evenly.  
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together both flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, and cacao nibs.  Set aside.
  3. Shred the zucchini using the large holes on a grater.
  4. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, coconut sugar, zucchini, and avocado oil.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry.  Stir with a spatula until thoroughly combined.  The batter will seem very thick!  Fear not, the water from the zucchini will release as it cooks and create a bread that has just the right amount of moisture and density.
  6. Bake the large loaf for 1 and a half hours or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Bake two regular loaves for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Allow to cool on a wire rack for ten minutes then lift the bread out and cool completely.

Paleo Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies


You know what we all need more of?  Cookies.  Cookies don’t argue politics or call people nasty names.  Cookies just make your mouth happy.  These cookies are a play on the popular three ingredient peanut butter cookies that have been around awhile.  Only now they are more Paleo friendly with a few simple ingredient swaps.  Peanut butter is not Paleo because peanuts are actually a legume and not a nut.  However, some people tolerate it fine.  That is one thing Paleo has taught many of us, to listen to our bodies and do what works for you!  But still making sure to eat a nutrient dense diet (with a few treats now and then like these cookies!)


Paleo Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Servings: 18 cookies
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup sunflower seed butter*
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/3 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  2. In a medium bowl beat together all the ingredients, except chocolate chips, until smooth.
  3. Stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Scoop heaping tablespoon sized balls onto the cookie sheet.  The recipe should make 18 cookies but can be made bigger.
  5. Using a fork, press down slightly to make a checkerboard pattern on the top.
  6. Bake for 11-14 minutes depending on the size of the cookies.  When the edges turn golden brown and the center is mostly set they are done.

*You can easily swap out the sunflower seed butter for regular organic peanut butter, almond butter, or another nut butter.  I find that if the batter is too thick, adding an extra egg makes them perfect.

Sausage and Veggie Paleo Quiche


Do you ever wake up in a “mood” and for no good reason?  Please tell me I’m not the only one!  This doesn’t happen to me often but a few days ago I did and I was fairly certain that I was going to explode if something didn’t give.  So after I dropped my girls off to school I ripped apart my fridge to find food to eat.  Inevitably the fridge was almost empty, which left me with limited options.  Pulled out some eggs, leftover onions and mushrooms and decided to make a quiche.  Cooking and baking always improve my mood.


I’ve been making pie crusts for a very long time! My grandmother taught me when I was just a kid.  So I know the basics of what they require and the texture they should be.  Of course it also depends on what you’re using it for.  This one is just for the bottom so I didn’t need to be able to roll it out and lift it to the pie plate.  Simply use a fork and spoon to mix the dough then press it in the pie plate!


The filling can be customized to whatever you have on hand!  Thats part of the beauty of this recipe!  I will tell you what I did (and man was it goood!), but don’t be afraid to get creative!   I will be making this recipe on repeat and as I do, I’ll update with pics of new ideas.

Sausage and Veggie Quiche

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

CRUST INGREDIENTS

  • 1/3 cup plus 1 Tb coconut flour (it varies in constancy so you may need more or less depending on the brand)
  • 2 Tb arrowroot starch
  • 3 Tb Spectrum palm shortening, (can use cold butter)
  • pinch sea salt
  • 4-5 Tb cold water (just enough to bring it together so it’s not crumbly)

FILLING INGREDIENTS 

  • 7 pastured eggs (medium-large size)
  • 2 Tb coconut cream or half and half
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • pinch of sea salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (or other leafy herb of choice such as basil or parsley)
  •  3/4 cup diced veggies (I used 1/2 cup sautéed mushrooms and 1/4 cup caramelized onions)
  • 1 sausage link, diced

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350*.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk coconut flour, arrowroot starch, and sea salt.  Then using a fork add in the spectrum and press it into the flour until it gets crumbly.
  3. With a spoon stir in the water until the dough starts to come together.  You don’t want it too wet.
  4. Place the dough in the pie plate and using your fingers press it out to an even thickness and slightly up the sides.  Prick with a fork in a few places.
  5. Bake the crust for 5-10 minutes while you prep the filling ingredients.
  6. In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, coconut cream, garlic powder, sea salt and pepper.  Then stir in herbs, veggies and sausage.
  7. Pour the filling into the partially baked crust and place back in the oven.
  8. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  9. Let rest for 5 minutes before cutting.

*This reheats VERY well in the microwave or in the oven for a few minutes.