Orange, Saffron, and Olive Oil Shortbread Cookies {Gluten and Grain free}

I’m afraid my Instagram account isn’t so good for my blog.

It’s way too easy to take one pic, hashtag the life out of it, and post it…all on one little gadget.

Life has been busy, too, but I really have no legitimate excuse for not posting for…well, however long it’s been. Too long.

We were invited to a friend’s house last night for pizza and sundaes and a movie. It wasn’t just any pizza and sundaes though – it was cheese pizza with a delicious gluten free crust and sundaes with homemade berry ice cream, bananas, and homemade honey salted caramel sauce! Jealous yet?

I experimented with some shortbread cookies to go along with the sundaes. The challenge was that they had to be nut, wheat, and refined sugars free. Bring it on!

If you’ve read my blog for long, you know I gravitate toward orange and almond, or orange and ginger, or orange and cardamom flavor combinations. Those are all SO good, but I had to do something else this time. I decided to pull out the saffron my sis-in-law gave me years ago. (Does saffron go bad??? Don’t tell me if it does.)

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I kept with the orange, though half way through I wished I had gone with grapefruit instead. And, of course, I went with my favorite natural sweetener – dates!

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Orange, Saffron, and Olive Oil Shortbread Cookies

  • 1 c. dates, pitted
  • 1 c. coconut flour
  • 2 t. organic orange peel
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • juice of one orange
  • 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 to 1/4 t. saffron (I used 1/4 but my saffron might be a little weak. :)

Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine dates, coconut flour, orange peel, butter and salt and pulse until mixture is well combined and fine textured. Add remaining ingredients and pulse again. My dough never formed a ball, but looked like this…

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However, it pinches together readily. Make one inch round balls and roll or press flat onto parchment paper.

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Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden around the edges.

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They soften as they sit and, if you’re like me, you like them a bit crunchy, so place them in a warm oven just before serving.

And the movie? Well, it was Frozen, ’cause my little friends keep telling me about it and I had to see it for myself.  Aren’t you glad it’s summer? :)

Orange Vanilla Frozen Kefir

It’s funny how that happens…I took one bite and all of a sudden, I’m 7 years old again, sitting on the back porch with my younger siblings sipping on Orange Julius smoothies. The heat was beating down on us, deflecting off the concrete slab into our flushed faces. Even the breeze was hot, like it often is here in Oklahoma, but we weren’t bothered by it. We had icy orange drinks to cool us off after a long, dusty (and imaginary) wagon trail ride. (I don’t think we ever played with our swing set the way normal kids did. We took the swing seats off, used the swing chains for reins, and had an imaginary draft horse team that took us all over the Wild West.)

I remember having Orange Julius a lot as a child. The combination of milk, orange juice concentrate, and vanilla is unforgettable, but for some reason the recipe faded into the background along with our trusty Belgian horse team, Rusty and Rowdy.

I brought it back by accident, with a tangy twist and in the form of frozen yogurt. The taste is unmistakably “Orange Julius” and SO refreshing as the temperatures push the high 90’s and 100’s.

IMG_0069The milk kefir can be substituted for plain yogurt, better yet, Greek yogurt and, if you’re feeling wild, you can drizzle chocolate sauce on top. It’s amazing!

Frozen Milk Kefir with Orange and Vanilla

  • 3 1/2 c. milk kefir
  • 1/8 c. honey or 1/4 c.  sugar (We like it super tangy, so if you want sweeter go with 1/4 c. honey or 1/2 c. sugar, or more to your taste. To be quite honest here, I prefer it made with sugar. :))
  • 1 T. vanilla
  • juice of 2 oranges

I pour all the ingredients into a jar and just shake it up. You can leave it in the frig until ready to churn. Pour into a 4 qt. ice cream maker and churn until it reaches frozen yogurt consistency. We enjoy eating ours like this, but you can put it in a container and freeze it for harder ice cream.

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This would also make great Popsicles. I think I’m going to try that next.

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Flavors of Europe Tart

Just two years ago, my sister and I were over in Europe, somewhere between the Netherlands and Italy. You can read about our adventures over on our Sisters Four blog if you like.

Biking the lovely streets of Haarlem, Netherlands

I’ve been missing Europe a lot lately – the trains, the towns, the people, and, of course, the food.

There are several flavors that totally remind me of different places in Europe. Part of that is due to my ancestry, part to travels, and there’s probably a part in there that comes from what I’ve been told by cookbooks or people in general. Perhaps it’s faulty, but never the less, there.

I’ve been wanting to make something that was reminiscent of the amazing flavors we sampled on our trip, but when I saw the recipe for Brown Butter Tarts with Sour Cherries in the Midwest Living a couple months ago, I knew I had to incorporate cardamom whipped cream somehow as well.

Cardamom is native to India, but my viking relatives (I’m sure I was related to one of them!) introduced it to Scandinavia over 1,000 years ago. That’s why cardamom always makes me think of my Swedish grandmother’s delicious Cardamom cinnamon rolls and not this great sounding recipe for Badam Burfi.

This fabulous photograph was taken by Moira over at Who Want’s Seconds? You’ll find some interesting facts about cardamom over there.

Almond is used everywhere and for good reason, it is AMAZINGNESS! The Swedes use mandalmassa (almond paste) in muffins and biscuits and other treats like the Swedish Mazarinmuffins. When we were in Haarlem, Paula, the hostess at our phenomenal B&B, served us a bread laden with liqueur soaked fruit and a whole log of almond paste wrapped inside. Oh my! That was a flavor worth savoring! I recreated the recipe for Kerststol in my Taste of Europe series here.

Okay, almond was a given. Maybe some orange. Cherries? I like that…

And so the Flavors of Europe Tart began to take shape.

I started with a crumb crust. Actually, I lied. I started with a pastry crust using almond paste, flour and butter. It was delicious, but it wasn’t what I was looking for. So we ate that and started over.

7 oz. almond paste

1/2 c. flour

1/4 c. butter

1/2 c. almonds, ground

Pulse in a food processor, until blended and press into a tart pan. Bake for 15 -20 minutes or until golden.

I wanted vanilla bean custard for the filling, so I went with my tried and true custard/pudding recipe that I use for just about anything I need pudding or custard for.

2/3 c. sugar

1/2 vanilla bean, scraped

1/4 c. cornstarch

1/4 t. salt

2 c. milk

4 lg. egg yolks

2 t. butter

1 t. vanilla

Whisk all ingredients together in a sauce pan while cold. Turn on the heat and whisk while it warms. As soon as it starts to thicken, remove from heat. Stir in butter and vanilla and pour into tart crust. Cover with plastic wrap to keep from forming a skin on top and chill in refrigerator.

The yolks I used are farm fresh and were so orange. That explains why the pudding is yellow. I knew you were wondering. :)

And guess what? The shell of the egg was green/blue! I LOVE that!

I decided to used dark sweet cherries for the topping and reduce them in their own juices. So easy! Just put 12 oz. of frozen cherries in a pan and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is a  syrupy consistency.

Cardamom Whipped Cream from Midwest Living

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup whipping cream

1 tablespoon powdered sugar (optional)

1/2 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

Beat cream until it starts to thicken. Add sugar, orange peel, vanilla and cardamom. Beat until desired texture is reached.

Slice tart and serve with a dollop of cream.

So now, just to be totally random (and because I like it so much and I’m so excited about it :), I have to share my latest project with you.

I decided to paint my closet. I’ve done a lot of painting in the past working for my Dad or sisters or doing jobs of my own and I’m telling ya’, I really dislike painting closets. I mean, come on, it’s just a closet! Right?

Well, I don’t know what got into me.

I took a plain, decent closet…

And spiced it up a bit!

 I love it so much I’m doing to get rid of all my stuff, take the doors off my closet and enjoy it! :D Just kidding. But it was sad covering so much of it up.

Now it’s just a closet again…with an attitude.