Chicken Florentine Meatballs (SRC)

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving! I enjoyed catching up with my family in Houston and soaking up some warmer weather.

In case you are all turkey-ied out and sick of pie, I have a light meatball recipe that is good for any time of the year. It’s loaded with veggies, free of grains and low in carbs for those of you who are on overload at the moment 🙂

These flavor-packed Chicken Florentine Meatballs were inspired by Kudos Kitchen by Renee since I was assigned her blog for Secret Recipe Club this month 🙂 Not only is Renee super crafty in the kitchen, but she also paints glassware and tiles…she is all-around creative! After searching through all her yummy creations, I was set on her florentine meatballs. She referred to the bacon undertones of the dish though the actual recipe is sans-bacon, I was immediately intrigued and couldn’t wait to see for myself!

It has been a while since I had made homemade meatballs, and these spinach-filled, egg-free meatballs are full of flavor and were easy to make gluten free. I substituted the breadcrumbs for almond flour + Italian seasoning, cayenne pepper and a bit of sea salt for added flavor. I also used extra fine chopped spinach, making these balls quite green (hehe), reduced the amount of nutmeg and subbed onion powder for the raw onion.

As for the sauce, I used olive oil to keep the recipe dairy-free, reduced the salt as well as the pine nuts (they are pricey little guys!). I wound up boiling the sauce for a good 3 minutes to help evaporate the alcohol in the sauce and I opted to toast the pinenuts separately and use them as a garnish to maintain their texture. Overall, a very delicious dish and I could also detect a slight bacon undertone as well at times! I think adding crispy bacon or pancetta to the sauce would be a delicious (and indulgent) addition but it’s definitely not necessary in the least!

Florentine Meatballs (lightly adapted from Kudos Kitchen by Renee)

4-6 servings – 24 meatballs (egg-free, grain-free, dairy-free)

For the meatballs:

1 lb lean ground chicken or turkey (storebought or homemade)*
1 package frozen spinach, thawed and completely squeezed out of all the water (I used extra fine)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 -1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
1 tsp pink Himalayan sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/4 cups almond flour (or almond meal)**
1 Tbsp + 1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp sea salt
2-3 shakes cayenne pepper, optional

For the mushroom-tomato sauce:

1 Tbsp olive oil or Earth Balance (could use butter or ghee but wouldn’t be dairy free)
1/3 cup pine nuts
8 oz baby bella or button mushrooms, sliced
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 can BPA free diced fire roasted tomatoes, undrained
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup red wine
sea salt to taste

Directions

1. Mix together the first 8 ingredients (meat through pepper) and place in the fridge at least an hour for all the flavors to meld. In a small bowl, whisk almond flour through pepper and set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. *After browning you’ll be placing the meatballs in the oven to cook all the way through*.
3. Using a tablespoon or a melon baller, shape the meat mixture into golf ball size balls and roll into almond flour mixture.
4. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and brown 12 meatballs (important not to overcrowd the skillet) on all sides.
5. Using a slotted spoon, remove the browned meatballs and place onto lined baking sheet and continue with the additional meatballs.
6. Bake meatballs for 18-20 minutes until cooked through and prepare the sauce.
7. In the same skillet you browned the meatballs, toast pine nuts over medium heat for 3-4 minutes or until golden, stirring continuously to avoid burning (no need to add oil). Remove from skillet and set aside (will be added as a topping).
3. Add olive oil and heat, then add mushrooms and cook for 3-4 minutes until softened and lightly browned. Season with black pepper.
4 Add the fire roasted tomatoes, garlic and wine, bring to a boil and let cook for 3 minutes.
5. Reduce heat to a simmer and continue cooking over medium heat until the sauce reduces and becomes slightly thicker (approximately 10 minutes). Season with salt and pepper to taste if desired.
6. Serve meatballs with sauce and toasted pine nuts, enjoy!

*I would recommend using lean and not extra lean as these meatballs might dry out.
**If you prefer to use 1 1/2 to 2 cups gluten free bread crumbs in lieu of the almond flour mixture, please feel free 🙂

View other recipes in this month’s blog hop:



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Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Squares (SRC)

Oh me, oh my. These squares are quite heavenly. I made a double batch – one for myself and one for a fellow gluten-free employee for her birthday. I blame it on my sweet tooth but I couldn’t bear only having one test square for myself 🙂

These indulgent bars were a result of an adaptation from this month’s Secret Recipe Club assignment! I was given Flying on Jess Fuel for the month of October and had a blast getting acquainted with this spunky newlywed (best wishes!) and all her delicious food and adventures.

With so many recipes for me to choose from, I turned to an employee for a little assistance on what to make this month. I asked what her favorite dessert was and she said cheesecake. I then looked up to see if miss Jess had anything cheesecake related on her blog and look what I found…M&M Cheesecake Squares!

As usual, I changed a few things and lightened things up a bit, I can’t help it 🙂 While I know a “birthday treat” is a once a year occasion, I was also trying to show said employee how I adapt non-gluten free recipes to fit my dietary needs so here goes.

For the crust/crumble, I substituted my own gluten-free flour blend for the regular flour, erythritol for the brown sugar, added a bit of stevia, used real butter for the margarine and used almonds for the walnuts. Jess mentioned that she loved the filling and recommended doubling it so that’s what I did! I doubled the cream cheese filling using the 1/3 less fat version and used sucanat and stevia for the sweetener. Instead of M&M’s, I substituted dark chocolate chips…while I could’ve purchased Sunspire Dark Chocolate SunDrops for a healthier M&M, I already had chocolate chips on hand so I used those in it’s place!

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Squares (adapted from Flying on Jess Fuel)

For Crust and Crumble
1/3 cup butter, ghee (or Earth Balance or coconut oil for dairy free) room temperature
1/4 cup erythritol (or 1/3 cup granulated sweetener of choice and omit stevia)
1/16 tsp pure stevia powder (or to taste)
1/2 cup almonds, pulsed in a food processor (any nut will do)
1 cup gluten free flour blend (I used 1/3 cup tapioca, 1/3 cup almond meal, 1/3 cup gluten-free oat flour)

For Filling
2 (8 oz) packages 1/3 less fat cream cheese, room temperature (use dairy-free if needed)
1/3 cup sucanat or other granulated sweetener
1/8th tsp pure stevia (or to taste or add a few more Tbsp of sweetener)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 eggs

3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line 2 loaf pans OR one 8×8 pan with parchment paper or grease well and set aside.
2. With an electric mixer, beat the butter/ghee/Earth Balance and erythritol until light and fluffy. Add the stevia, almonds, and flour and mix until crumbly.
3. Reserve 1/2 cup of the crumb mixture and set aside. Divide the remaining crust mixture and press into the bottom of the prepared loaf pans OR into the bottom of the one 8″ square pan. Bake for 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, combine the cream cheese, sugar, stevia and vanilla, and using an electric mixer again, mix at medium speed until well blended. (I didn’t even bother cleaning the mixer in between the two steps).
5. Add the eggs and continue mixing until combined.
6. Layer 1/2 of the chocolate chips over the crust. Top with the cream cheese mixture and spread evenly.
7. Top with remaining chocolate chips and sprinkle with reserved crust/crumble.
8. Bake for an additional 25-27 minutes until set. Let cool completely before cutting and serving.



Blueberry Walnut Scones aka Scookies (Grain-Free)

Scones take me back to my college years. That’s where I discovered my real love for scones…and my serious addiction to those buttery bites of bliss. My college dorm had a cafeteria (no, no it was decent one) that made fantastic scones. My hall mate and good friend Joanna and I used to hoard them every time fresh batches were set out…and I wonder why that “freshman 15” was so easily gained? Ha!

Oh my, these scones were oh-so-buttery with a slight crumb and sweetness that hit the spot. I deemed them “Scookies” since they are almost like a cookie inside, I almost squealed when I bit into one. The walnuts added a delightful nuttiness and the juicy blueberries burst with a sweetness that I love.

I could have eaten a whole pan of these scones for breakfast this morning and let the freshman college girl come out again…

But I was “semi-good” and only ate 2 three. Okay, so I am still practicing restraint 🙂 I must say these grain-free treats are quite filling from the almond flour and walnuts!

Blueberry Walnut Scones aka Scookies (Grain-free) (Adapted from Health, Home & Happiness)

Ingredients

2 cups almond flour (not almond meal)
4 Tbsp granulated sweetener (coconut palm sugar, xylitol, etc)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp pure stevia extract  or to taste (can omit for less sweet scone)
1 egg, whisked
4 Tbsp coconut oil. butter, ghee or earth balance, melted
2 Tbsp almond or coconut milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 – 1/2 tsp almond extract
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (other nut or seed can be subbed)
1/2 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen, if using frozen do not thaw)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients and whisk well to combine.
3. In a small bowl, combine wet ingredients (egg through extracts) until mixed well. Add to the dry ingredients and mix until dough is formed.
4. Fold in walnuts and stir well.
5. Line a baking with parchment paper and add ball of dough on top. Flatten into a even circle about a 1/2 inch thick. Cut into 8 triangles and move apart carefully on baking sheet to allow for spreading when baking.
6. Press blueberries into the tops of each of the triangles and bake for 15-17 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. Let cool and enjoy (will harden as they cool)!

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Bars

Hello lovelies! I’ve been MIA lately. Life has gotten in the way but I certainly have NOT forgotten about you 🙂

I have a fun little treat to share with you today! This recipe morphed from a magic cookie bar into what I am calling a chocolate covered strawberry bar – sounds fancy, and tastes divine…and that’s a winning combo, right?

Most everything I am baking these days seems to involve chocolate and be in bar form, I must really be into the square shape this summer…I will have to analyze what that means later (haha). No matter what shape these are, they are heavenly, decadent and deeeeelicious! The base is a crumbly shortbread and the topping is dark chocolate with a gooey strawberry filling…and it’s all topped off with one of my favorite ingredients — coconut 🙂

You can always substitute your favorite fruit preserve to change the flavor but strawberry is what I had on hand and it worked beautifully. The shredded coconut on top can be omitted, but I find it adds nice visual appeal and helps absorbs a bit of the preserves below. If you do choose to omit the coconut, consider adding 1 to 2 more ounces of chopped chocolate for good measure and coverage 🙂

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Bars (Vegan) 

Ingredients

For crust:
1 1/4 cups almond flour
4 Tbsp coconut palm sugar, powdered (or any granulated sugar)
1/8 tsp sea salt
4 Tbsp coconut oil, melted (butter or ghee can be subbed)
splash of pure vanilla extract

For Topping:
2/3 cup fruit-sweetened strawberry preserves
2 ounces of your favorite dark chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease or line with parchment paper a 8×8 pan or large loaf pan (this is what I used) and set aside.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour through salt). Stir in coconut oil and vanilla until mixture comes holds together when pressed. If not coming together, add a touch more of oil (will depend on what flours are used, I used flours from Nuts.com).
3. Press mixture evenly into prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes until golden brown.
4. Remove from oven and let cool for 1-2 minutes. While crust is still warm, spread preserves over crust then sprinkle with chopped chocolate and coconut.
5. Let cool for 15 minute and then refrigerate until hardened, about 1 hour. Cut into bars and enjoy!