Raspberry Rhubarb Crumble Bars: gluten-free, veganI don’t mind when terrific ingredients finally get their day in the spotlight, even becoming a little “trendy” like kale or brussels sprouts. For years rhubarb was known as the vegetable trying to being a fruit. Too tart for some, not pretty enough for others. But now it’s abundantly seen on dessert & bakery menus across the country, recipes and pretty photos plastered in food magazines.

Raspberry Rhubarb Crumble Bars {naturally gluten-free, vegan}Earlier this week I posted a Rhubarb Fig Jam that sadly I have just about a spoonful left of, and yesterday I made these Gluten-Free Raspberry Rhubarb Crumble Bars for my segment on Twin Cities Live (click to replay). We talked about tips & tricks to eating gluten-free on a budget, like DIY ingredients such as the oat flour used to make this spring treat and starting a group buying club for specialty ingredients.

Amanda Paa with Elizabeth Ries

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16 comments   • • •   as featured in:   Recipe Box, Seasonal, Spring, Summer, Sweets



Honey Sweetened Rhubarb Fig Jam (pectin-free)

by Amanda Paa on May 19, 2015

Honey Sweetened Rhubarb Fig Jam {via Heartbeet Kitchen}They’re something special about preserves. Whether you pick up a unique blend when you’re traveling so you can “travel back” while in your own home, a friend gifts you a jar of her amazing Kumquat Marmalade, or maybe it’s making your grandmother’s Strawberry Jam with berries from your garden – it’s a sweet taste of happiness.

I’ve had a craving for something sweet to spread on flatbread or swirl into homemade coconut milk yogurt. With my two rhubarb plants growing without abandon, my first project became this jam.

Fresh figs are certainly hard to come by here in Minnesota, but I stumbled upon a large bag of dried organic Missions at Costco. With plenty of the two fruits to spare, I thought they were worthy of an experiment.

Honey Sweetened Rhubarb Fig Jam {pectin-free}Over the years I’ve come to love preserving. I find it very relaxing, and there’s a satisfaction element that comes from the process. It’s a creative way for me to play with different flavor combinations and savor the best fruits of the season a little longer.

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28 comments   • • •   as featured in:   AIP (Autoimmune Protocol), Appetizer, Canning and Preserving, Recipe Box, Seasonal, Spring, Summer, Sweets



 Cauliflower Steaks with Roasted Grape Chutney {paleo, vegan}

Cauliflower Steaks with Rosemary Roasted Grape Chutney ~ paleo, AIPIt’s been about two months since I took a pretty big leap of faith. After spending 8 years in the corporate world, beginning in pharma/medical device sales, then to digital marketing, and building a strong foundation in social strategy and consulting – I’ve left that space. I’m now doing what I’ve dreamed of for quite some time, bridging my passion of food, creativity and business into what feels like the greatest gift.

If you talk to anybody who has taken this path, they’ll tell you it comes with a bundle of emotions. It’s exciting, anxiety provoking, freeing, frustrating and wonderful all at the same time. I’d been working up to this point for about two years, knowing that while I loved my job here, my heart was being tugged in other directions.

Rosemary Roasted GrapesSo I began working on freelance projects, writing my book and pouring more of my heart into this space while also working full-time. My plan was to build up experience and my personal brand before taking the leap, to make it less scary and feel a little more secure.

I did just that, and on March 19th I became my own boss, grinning ear to ear. My days are now happily filled with brand consulting & strategizing, recipe development, food styling & photography and copywriting projects.

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41 comments   • • •   as featured in:   AIP (Autoimmune Protocol), Fall, Main Dish, Spring, Summer, Vegetarian, Winter



Retro Chicken Chow Mein {AIP, Paleo}

by Amanda Paa on April 28, 2015

Retro Chicken Chow Mein (paleo, AIP, nut-free)Memories of my grandmother are rooted deeply in the kitchen, around the food she made with love, and the conversations we had as the apple pie baked or the creamy potato soup simmered. Her German accent never left her, and her hands never forgot how to make homemade bread. Making her Chicken Chow Mein last week, straight from the handwritten recipe card she had passed on, brought me as much joy as any meal I’ve ever made.

Ruby Jane made things from scratch, and that was her specialty. She used real cream, the lard she rendered, rhubarb jam from the plants alongside her garage, and sought out fresh peas & sweet corn from farmer friends.

Paleo Chicken Chow Mein with Cauli RiceWhen my parents would leave for a vacation, I packed my bags with excitement knowing I was going on my own vacation to grandma’s. I couldn’t wait for us to play lots of cards, spend time at the park and cook together.

Since my grandfather passed quite early, she enjoyed having another hungry tummy to feed when I came to visit. Instead of meals for one, we could make some of her family favorites like Chicken Chow Mein. (Even my 10 year old self found it ironic that her German palate loved this americanized Japanese dish that became popular in the 1950’s.)

Retro Chicken Chow Mein, passed down from GrandmaWhile I stood at my GE stove sautéing the garlic and mushrooms in lard, just like she had, I thought about what the kitchen embraces for everyone, in all parts of the world. We live, play, cook and celebrate in these parts of our home, and they shape who we are. It’s one of the most honest forms of gathering we have, a place where traditions and memories are created.

AIP/Paleo Chicken Chow Mein recipeThe kitchen is the heart of the home – and so much of life plays out in it, in its least studied, most honest forms.

There is so much beauty in that.

There is so much beauty in taking a recipe from the past and letting the handwriting and abridged notes tell stories.

Paleo Chicken Chow Mein with Cauliflower Rice I garnished the plate with green onions and cilantro for a burst of freshness, and served it over a bed of cauliflower rice.The classic flavors were just right, the crunch from the water chestnuts and bamboo shoots the perfect texture contrast.

As I sat and savored this powerful comfort dish, I couldn’t help but wish Grandma and I could cook together just one more time. But that’s what kitchen memories are for.

{Paleo, AIP} Retro Chicken Chow Mein Thanks to GE for sponsoring this post and, and reminding us all how much the kitchen influences our lives. They’ve done a great job of documenting other American kitchen stories, which bring us all together through one common bond – Watch the Richards Family story here!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of GE Appliances. The opinions and text are all mine.

Retro AIP & Paleo Chicken Chow Mein

serves 4
Little was needed to adapt this Retro Chicken Chow Mein to be both AIP/Paleo. (I chuckled as I prepared to make it, the instructions not telling when to add the molasses, and the ingredient list called for water, but it was unclear how much.) I switched coconut aminos for soy sauce, tapioca starch instead of cornstarch, and spinach instead of bean sprouts.

2 tablespoons lard or coconut oil
3 cloves garlic
1 cup diced celery
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 (5 ounce can) water chestnuts, drained
1 (5 ounce can) bamboo shoots, drained
2 cups cooked, diced chicken
2 cups homemade chicken broth
1/4 cup coconut aminos (or soy sauce/tamari if not following AIP/paleo)
2 1/2 tablespoons tapioca starch or arrowroot starch
2 teaspoons molasses
2 cups baby spinach
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons minced green onions

Bring the lard or coconut oil to medium high heat in a large saute pan. Add garlic, and cook for 1 minute, then add celery and mushrooms. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook for 5-6 minutes, until mushrooms are wilted down.

Stir in water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, chicken, remaining salt and 1 cup broth. Bring to a simmer and let cook for 8 minutes. In a small bowl stir together remaining broth, coconut aminos, tapioca starch and molasses. Stir to dissolve the tapioca starch, then add to chow mein.

Leave heat on medium and continually stir, which will result in the mixture thickening. Let cook for 4 minutes, then stir in stir in spinach, cilantro, and green onions. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes until spinach is wilted.

Serve hot over cauliflower rice. Leftovers will keep in refrigerator for 4 days.

20 comments   • • •   as featured in:   AIP (Autoimmune Protocol), Fall, Main Dish, Recipe Box, Spring, Summer, Winter



Simple & Seasonal: 7 Delicious Recipes for Ramps

by Amanda Paa on April 25, 2015

Seven Delicious Recipes for Ramps | @amandapaaOnce the first 45 degree day shines down on Minnesota, the anticipation of spring can be see all around. People running in shorts, driving with convertible tops down, cleaning up their yards, beaming ear to ear. There’s bound to be a few more snows, (in which we sing “Quit Playing Games With My Heart” by the Backstreet Boys), but the final turning point occurs when ramps, morels and rhubarb start to appear.

I discovered ramps, also known as wild leeks, shortly after I started writing this blog. Skipping down the aisles of the Minneapolis Farmers Market, there seemed to be a hoard of people around what I thought were just spring onions or young garlic. As I listened to what they were saying, I found out that part of what makes them so special is that they are foraged, not grown by man, which makes their exclusivity a draw. I weezled my way to the front of the table, grabbed one of the last bunches, brought them home and discovered what all the fuss was about.

  • Their leaves were shaped much like that of tulips, soft and delicate to the touch.
  • Their bulb (which grows from the root) was a gorgeous light pink, turning to white as they stretched to the leaves, a natural ombre effect.
  • And the aromatics…. like sweet, pungent garlic that you just began to sauté in a hot pan, tempting you to bite into one raw.

I spent the next two weeks cooking with them in the simplest of ways to appreciate their brilliance. They have a fresh perfume that lingers when you cut into them, a gentle garlic/onion flavor when softly cooked. And they bring a grassy freshness to any dish, subtly sweeter than their spring onion and leek cousins.

So without further ado, here are SEVEN DELICIOUS RECIPES FOR RAMPS, all begging to make their way onto your table this spring:

Simple Asparagus & Ramp Soup {recipe}1. Simple Asparagus and Ramp Soup: The return of foods so brightly colored just lifts my spirit, a departure from all the things roasted that we embrace during winter. Laura combines two perennial favorites in this creamy soup, seemingly perfect for a rainy day and the smell of spring hitting the ground. (recipe & photo by A First Mess)

Quick Pickled Ramps recipe (refined sugar-free, paleo)2. Pickled Ramps: I love pickles, and the quick type that require no canning are great for extending vegetables that have such a short season. This recipe doesn’t use any sweetener, so it’s paleo too. You can add them to salads, charcuterie plates or just snack and savor. (recipe & photo by Local Kitchen)

Grain-Free Risotto with Asparagus Ramp Sauce 3. Riceless Risotto with Ramps (AIP/paleo if cheese is omitted): If there’s anyone who can make magic out of plants, it’s Sarah from My New Roots. Her risotto uses white asparagus “rice” instead of grains, adorned with a smooth blend of ramps and green asparagus. A true spring delight. If you can’t find white asparagus, you can make cauliflower rice instead, and proceed with the recipe. (recipe & photo by My New Roots)

Easy Ramp Butter4. Ramp Butter: If this is your first time trying ramps and you’re stumped on what to do with them, condiments are always a great option. Imagine the flavors of buttery, garlic chive biscuits and that’s what one swipe of this green beauty will bring. I have plans to try this with ghee, which I’ve successfully reintroduced! (recipe & photo from Bon Appetit)

Spiralized Daikon & Zucchini Noodles with Ramp Tahini Sauce | vegan, gluten-free5. Daikon and Zucchini Noodles with Ramp Tahini Sauce (paleo): Plain and simple, I’m obsessed with spiralized vegetable noodles these days. Jodi’s recipe combines daikon & zucchini strands, some mushrooms for umami kick, and completed with ramp infused tahini sauce. Need I say more? I can’t wait to try this one. (recipe & photo by What’s Cooking Good Looking)

Whole Roasted Chicken with Honey, Garlic and Ramps (paleo, AIP)6. Roast Chicken with Ramps, Lemon & Honey (AIP, paleo): There’s nothing better than roasting a whole chicken on a Sunday afternoon, let alone one like this that’s infused with spring. The ramp leaves are mixed into the juices until tender, and as she describes, “ready to be devoured along with big bites of juicy chicken & occasional snap of salty, savory chicken skin.” YES. (recipe & photo by Milk & Mode)

Ramp Chimichurri Recipe7. Ramp Chimichurri (paleo):Few sauces pack the punch of chimichurri, hence why it’s in my fridge 5/7 days of the week. I made this ramp version last year and when the last of it was finished, I swore I’d make more next time and freeze it to use throughout the year. Bracing and bright, a little bit spicy, I’ve deemed it liquid gold. (recipe & photo by A Couple Cooks)

One last thing: When buying ramps, look for bright green leaves and no wilting. Lightly wash them with cold water and dry before wrapping them in a slightly moist paper towel and placing in a plastic bag. Store them in the door of your refrigerator so they don’t get too cold. They’ll last about three days, so if you don’t have to cook them in a meal, use of the condiments above to preserve them.

If you have any recipes for ramps that you love, LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW WITH THE LINK – happy spring eating! xo

13 comments   • • •   as featured in:   AIP (Autoimmune Protocol), Featured Recipes, Main Dish, Recipe Box, Seasonal, Spring, Summer, Vegetarian