• Bread,  Breakfast,  Dairy Free,  Gluten Free,  Holiday,  Recipe,  Vegan,  Vegetarian

    Pumpkin Pie French Toast & Kahlúa Vanilla Syrup (Vegan+GF)

    Hey again, how were your weekends guys?

    Mine was pretty busy, but in a good way. Lots of cooking, obviously, because I don’t know what to do with myself otherwise. I also spent some time over this weekend doing some miscellaneous Spring cleaning things like organizing my spice cabinet. I’ve told you how they sell the spices here in these individual little pouches that are only enough to make you mad, right? It really kind of makes me crazy until I have the chance to organize like I just did. Then there was that other thing ………you know, what I mentioned Friday about my first (eh hem…….) date? Yeah, so you can probably imagine that it was a pretty big weekend for me, but you know how little I like to be the subject of conversation so, um…… Hey look, -> I made French toast!!!!!

    I have to admit that I’m a little bit sad, and even kind of surprised at myself for how much I seem to be losing my ability for faking that the seasons here aren’t backwards. Big sad face. I knew it was inevitable when we moved to the opposite hemisphere, that I’d end up eventually having to accept this unfortunate reality, but I thought it would take longer for me to feel this disconnected from the season that I’m used to being in right now. It’s mostly all the fresh distractions going in my life I guess that keep increasing. The past few years I had way more time to spend soaking up nostalgic scary movies and browsing the internet for every Fall flavored recipe I could find. Plus, there’s the fact that it’s not really autumn time here, hmmmm, that could have something to do with my lack of inspiration. Haha, yes it’s definitely getting harder to fake it.

    I’m not giving up yet though, because an October without pumpkin pie spice is something I refuse to do. No way. I mean, there is probably an endless amount of holidays and the traditional foods to go with them that I would have no problem skipping completely. Harvest time though, uh uh, it’s was my favorite growing up because of all its various traditions. Maybe I’m not feeling the nostalgia very much right now, but I’m strongly hoping it’s just being stored away for an epic reappearance later on.

    Anyway, this recipe is pretty incredible if I do say so myself. I’m not gonna lie, I never thought I’d find any other way to make French toast that competed with the classic, but I was wrong. Liv and I used to have some pretty technical debates for our age about which was better, pancakes or French toast. Personally, I’ll always play for team French toast but she is a pancake girl so I sort of came to think of French toast as my thing. I like it the way my daddy made it for us the entire time I was growing up and that’s probably why I haven’t messed very much with fixing what isn’t broken. On occasion though, I have had the urge to test a new version and this was one of those times.

    Something else I was wrong about was how I feel about doing it. I thought I’d feel guilty as if I was cheating on my beloved, but instead it’s more like I’m just upgrading what is already amazing to something only slightly more amazing. I mean, you’ve still got all the cinnamon and toasty goodness going on, but you’ve also got the flavor of a festive pumpkin pie at the same time. Now that’s my idea of a perfect breakfast. Not to mention that it’s super fast and easy, every bit as much as the regular kind. Come on, you know you’re dying to taste so you’ve gotta do it!

    P.S. Don’t let me forget about my s’mores plans!

     

    Pumpkin Pie French Toast & Kahlúa Vanilla Syrup (Vegan+GF)

    Take your favorite breakfast to the next level and create this sweet and festive version that's perfect for the holidays.

    Prep Time 10 minutes
    Cook Time 30 minutes
    Total Time 40 minutes
    Servings 5 - 6 servings

    Ingredients

    Pumpkin Pie French Toast:

    • 8 slices sandwich bread gf if needed
    • 1/2 cup plant-based milk
    • 1 cup pumpkin puree
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 tablespoon coconut oil for skillet

    Kahlúa Vanilla Syrup:

    • 1/3 cup maple syrup
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1/4 cup water
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 2 tablespoons Kahlúa or equivalent coffee liqueur

    -

    • And of course Powdered sugar for sprinkling on top

    Instructions

    Pumpkin Pie French Toast:

    1. Combine the pumpkin, milk, and the sugar in a mixing bowl. Whisk all together well. Add the cinnamon, the pumpkin spices, the vanilla, and the salt and mix until combined.
    2. Heat a skillet over medium-low heat and add coconut oil. Dip bread one piece at a time into batter and place on skillet. Cook on each side for about 3 minute or until edges start to darken and toast.
    3. Remove from heat and repeat until all the toast is cooked.

    Kahlúa Syrup:

    1. Combine the syrup, sugar, water, and salt in a saucepan and place over low heat. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Once boiling.
    2. Continue stirring until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Then add the Kahlúa and remove pan from heat. Stir in the vanilla and allow the syrup to cool for about 5 minutes
    3. Then serve over hot french toast and sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.


  • Dairy Free,  Dessert,  Holiday,  Recipe,  Vegan,  Vegetarian

    Chestnut Cake + Eggnog Buttercream Frosting

    …Because I couldn’t let the year end without one more cake.

     

    Chestnut Cake + Eggnog Buttercream Frosting (3)

    This is it guys, 2015 is about to kick the metaphorical bucket and 2016 is loaded and ready to start unfolding the adventures that it holds for you! I hope you’re ready for this little thing I like to call life.

    I’m not sure that I am, but I’m excited all the same. It’s already looking like it will be even crazier than this past year was. We have some friends building a house right now and they’re on a deadline so we’re going to do all that we can to help them get it done. These friends are missionaries here and they’ll be expecting some teams to be coming down from the States very soon so we’ll be offering to help as much as we can. I have a feeling I’ll be even more involved this time around than the last.

    Chestnut Cake + Eggnog Buttercream Frosting (7)

    Oh, this was funny; the other night my family was discussing our plans for the next few weeks and speculating that the months of January and February are going to be really busy for all of us and trying to work out how to fit all these different things in. Then Liv comes in and tolls me that a Chilean friend of ours wants me to cater her wedding and we just had to laugh. It looks like I have my first catering job. Hmmm, this could get interesting…..

    Chestnut Cake + Eggnog Buttercream Frosting (5)

    It’s not a big wedding and she didn’t even ask for a cake, but me being raised with a mom and grandmother who know how to make gorgeous cakes, my mouth sort of offered to make a cake without my brains approval. It’ll be small but I promise to share some pics. I just thought I’d also mention that since this is going to be a super crazy year, I’ll probably be cutting a few posts per week so I can attempt to keep up because it’s been getting pretty crazy and I feel like my work is suffering from it. Quality over quantity is always the better option in my opinion, don’t you think? I’m also considering changing my photo look; thoughts anyone….?


    Chestnut Cake + Eggnog Buttercream Frosting (6)

    Okay, but here I am rambling about a wedding cake and some of you are just here for this cake. I should probably get on with telling you about it’s yumminess. It’s a vanilla chestnut (heavy on the chestnut) cake with a creamy eggnog frosting that makes you want to kiss an elf or something. There’s nothing much else to say about it because it pretty much speaks for itself once you taste it. I was torn between sharing this before Christmas but I really wanted to save something extra special for my last post of the year and this was just the thing.

    Chestnut Cake + Eggnog Buttercream Frosting (4)

    Oh, and by the way, I found the fastest way ever (for me) to de-shell the chestnuts. In the past I’ve always roasted them or used the method of boiling them, removing the outer shell, then boiling again and removing the skin. The last time I did it that way I got pretty fed up with how long it was taking for just a few nut so this time I tried it a little different.

    Chestnut Cake + Eggnog Buttercream Frosting (2)

    You boil them for about five minutes and then take a few out of the hot water at a time, cut them in half straight down the middle, and squeeze the shell until they pop out of both the skin and the shell. So much easier! The main key is to keep them hot so the shell stays soft. (Drawbacks with this plan include but are not limited to: chance of flinging chestnuts across the room when squeezing, and it still takes a while to get enough for a cake.)

    I wish you all the best, happiest, brightest, most spectacularily amazing and blessed new year ever!

     

    Chestnut Cake + Eggnog Buttercream Frosting

    Looking for a delicious and creative way to use up that extra nog? This cake is the perfect treat to make for friends and family during the holiday season.

    Prep Time 30 minutes
    Cook Time 40 minutes
    Cooling Time 1 hour
    Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes

    Ingredients

    Cake:

    • 3/4 cup organic vegetable oil
    • 1 1/2 cups sugar
    • 3/4 cups aquafaba liquid from canned chickpeas
    • 1 1/4 cups almond milk
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon baking powder
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    • 2 cups chestnuts meal deshelled and skins removed (*see note)
    • 2 1/3 cups all purpose flour

    Frosting:

    • 5 - 5 1/2 cups powdered sugar
    • 1/2 cup vegan "butter" room temp (or organic vegetable shortening)
    • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
    • 1/2 cup dairy free nog such as almond, coconut, or soy

    Instructions

    Cake:

    1. Pour chestnuts (*see note) into a food processor or blender and pulse until very finely minced. It should be somewhere between the texture of flour and finely chopped nuts.
    2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C) and grease 3 8-in cake pans with oil and flour evenly. Stir vinegar and almond milk together in a measuring glass and set aside until needed.
    3. Add the aquafaba to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and turn on high speed to beat for about 5 minutes until beginning to look whipped and fluffy. Slowly add in the sugar while beating and continue beating for about 3 to 5 minutes longer until it forms stiff peaks.
    4. In a separate mixing bowl, combine oil, milk/vinegar, salt, and vanilla and mix until smooth. Once the whipped mixture is full and fluffy, turn off mixer and remove bowl from stand. Sift in baking powder, chestnut "flour" and all purpose flour then fold lightly with a rubber spatula until just combined. Now add the liquid mixture and gently continue folding just until well incorporated into batter. Divide batter into pans as evenly as possible. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes until edges start to darken and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

    Frosting:

    1. Beat butter (or organic shortening) in a large mixing bowl until creamed. Add vanilla, salt, nutmeg, and then powdered sugar one cup at a time. Add eggnog and beat until frosting is light and fluffy. Add more powdered sugar as needed for frosting to be a thick enough consistency.

    Assemble:

    1. To assemble, trim cakes until level, then spread frosting on one of the cakes and layer a second on top. Repeat frosting layer for next cake and place the third cake layer on top. Frost the top and all the sides with desired amount of remaining frosting until smooth (you'll probably have some extra frosting). You can use pastry bags and tips for edging and decorating.

    Recipe Notes

    *If you don't have access to chestnuts this recipe can be made with a different nut variety, however because chestnuts are a bit starchier than chestnuts use only about 7/8 cup of desired nuts and 2 tablespoons of arrowroot or cornstarch.

     

  • Appetizers,  Dairy Free,  Holiday,  Recipe,  Snacks,  Vegan,  Vegetarian

    Easy Raspberry Jalapeno Dip & Homemade Wheat Thins

    Did you all have a really great weekend?

    I hope so, I had one of the best ever! This was my first Christmas as an aunty and also my last one as a teenager (omg, that’s kinda sad ;( ). My nephew was so cute opening his first presents ever, absolutely adorable and hilarious at the same time.

    Anyone have plans for New Year’s? Is it just me or is it a very anti-climatic holiday after the hype of Christmas? I’ve always thought so. We don’t have any traditions or anything special that we do as a family. Most years we just spend the weekend trying to cram in replays of our favorite Christmas movies before it’s too late and contemplating taking down the decorations. This year though, we’re doing a Thanksgiving dinner; take 2! Confused?

    Well, some of our really good friends that we get together with all the time recently had a loss in their extended family so our friend Eric had to fly out of town for a few weeks right before our big Thanksgiving dinner. We all knew that he was looking forward to that dinner so much so we decided to have a little redo in his honor and also because, why not? It’s not like we had other plans an I’m totally up to one more feast before the year’s out.

    It is making this week a little busier than past years though, so I thought I’d try to make things easier on myself and share one of my favorite easy recipes today. This one is actually a recipe inspired by my aunt Debbie (Thanks DebDeb!). By request, she would bring this to just about every holiday party I can remember, when we all lived in the same state that is. It’s only 4 ingredients for the dip and I feel like I’m cheating with the crackers here because the recipe for them is one of the first ones I posted on my blog when it was just a few empty web pages with terrible photos.  The only difference being that I made them into cute holiday shapes for the holiday. That makes it kind of like new, right?

    Be warned everyone, this is super addictive and I have to tell you that the crackers are well named ’cause they’re like crack. You want to eat the whole batch once you start (one is too many and eight is not enough). The dip is a perfect blend of tart, sweet, spice, and creaminess with a nutty crunch on top. I would say that you can’t make the dip without the crackers, but I know some of you are going to want to so I guess that’s fine. It’s good with all kinds of dippers actually, veggies, chips, pitas, you name it.

    So I hope this helps inspire you on this mid-holiday Monday. Have a great week guys!

    Easy Raspberry Jalapeno Dip & Homemade Wheat Thins

    A party just wouldn't be the same without a perfectly addicting dip to socialize around. This dip is a family holiday favorite.

    Ingredients

    Homemade Wheat Thins:

    • 1/3 cup coconut oil
    • 3 1/2 tablespoons sugar
    • 3/4 cup water
    • 1 teaspoons salt plus extra for sprinkling
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
    • 2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour plus extra for rolling

    Easy Raspberry Jalapeno Dip:

    • 1 8 ounce package non-dairy "cream cheese", at room temp
    • 3/4 cup raspberry jelly
    • 1 tablespoon canned jalapeno pepper + 1 tablespoon juice from can
    • 1/3 cup chopped pecans

    Instructions

    Homemade Wheat Thins:

    1. Beat coconut oil and sugar until smooth. Add water, vanilla, paprika, and salt and continue mixing. Last, add flour and stir until smooth.
    2. On a floured surface, roll out dough into a rectangle. Make it a very thin layer. Use a pizza cutter to cut lines vertically and horizontally to create about 1 1/2 inch squares or cut into whatever shape you want. just make sure to keep them fairly thin.
    3. Space closely together on a parchment lined baking tray. If you want to them to be on the salty side then sprinkle salt lightly over crackers.
    4. Bake at 400 degrees F (200 C) for 5-10 minutes watching carefully. When the edges start to darken pull from oven and let them cool.

    Easy Raspberry Jalapeno Dip:

    1. Spread the "cream cheese" into a smooth layer in a high-sided plate or dish (a pie pan will work also). Chop jalapenos until they're very fine, then mix them and 1 tablspoon of the jalapeno juice with the raspberry jelly in a small bowl. Scrape the bowl out onto the cream cheese layer and also spread this layer smooth. Sprinkle chopped pecans over the top and serve with crackers or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve (you'll need to set it out about 30 minutes before to soften it again.).

     

     

  • Dairy Free,  Dessert,  Holiday,  Recipe,  Vegan,  Vegetarian

    Toasted Pecan Gingerbread Figgy Puddings (Vegan)

    I brought you some figgy pudding, I brought you some figgy pudding!

    Remember when I made rice pudding last week and said that I had another pudding recipe coming that was going to confuse people? Well, this is the one I was talking about. Please tell me I’m not the only one who grew up listening to that line in the lyrics of We Wish You a Merry Christmas and picturing a bowl of purple custard. Anyone?

    I kind of always felt that line “we won’t go until we get some.” was a little demanding and that figgy pudding must be really something to merit it. There’s no way I can vouch for what you’ll think, but personally, I’m pretty happy to say that it’s really good, or at least this here little version of mine seemed pretty good to me.

    You also have to keep in mind that the time period of this song, there weren’t 24-hour supermarkets open a few blocks away where you could swing by and grab a cake mix. No, they had limited resources and dried fruits were a novelty that most people reserved only for special occasions so no wonder they weren’t willing to leave without their figgy pudding.

    In essence, figgy pudding (and pretty much any pudding mentioned prior to this last century) is probably referring to a cake. A fruit cake actually, although there are more technical meanings of pudding depending on the time period. Traditionally they used things they had, dried fruits, dry breadcrumbs, some basic baking ingredients, and a touch of alcohol, to make a dessert that was affordable during the winter time. It’s a bit unusual in our modern Christmas dessert line-up but I have a thing for tasting historic foods in case you haven’t noticed. Of course, I should add the full disclaimer that this version I made is anything but traditional when compared to an old English recipe. I just wanted to try a similar idea to this age old dessert.

     

    As for the cute little toppings that are probably familiar to a lot of you, those are holly leaves. I felt so dumb when I went out in my own backyard and realized we have a huge holly tree that I have neglected to notice for this entire holiday season, what’s my problem! At least I figured it out for this post because these just wouldn’t look the same without them.

    The only thing is, it’s summer here, so there aren’t any berries on it and I decided to just use some leftover fondant from my gingerbread house for the “berries”. I had to put a ton of dye to get them red enough so I wouldn’t let anyone eat them, they were strictly for cosmetic purposes.  But you have to admit that these look so classic, like they jumped right out of a Christmas Carol or Little Woman!

    Speaking of my gingerbread house guys, that’s part of what inspired the flavor of this recipe in case you hadn’t already guessed. I was going to use breadcrumbs but I just couldn’t justify it when I have so much leftover gingerbread around. I think it made these extra delish and so did toasting the pecans. And when I say “toasting” what I actually mean is frying. You see, the pecans get cooked with the oil for the recipe and the flavors just build on each other as you cook them, yum! Oh my goodness, and the glaze, wow! Just try not to start drinking it when the smell is wafting through your kitchen. If you make these, the glaze is a must!

    Okay, so I feel like I’ve completed just about every priority on my bucket list now that I know what figgy pudding is. Ha, sister jokingly asked me if I was going to make a cup of good cheer to go with this and I told her, “Don’t be silly, you know I and some of my readers aren’t 21 yet!” I did include a little alcohol in the recipe because it just feels so much more authentic that way. Like stepping into the age-old carols we hear every year with each bite. I understand for those of you who don’t want to add it though, so feel free to leave it out. However, the alcohol cooks off and also helps to soften the dried fruit, but it’s your choice.

    Hope you’re all having a great season! Merry Christmas eve eve (lol)!!!!!

    Toasted Pecan Gingerbread Figgy Puddings (Vegan)

    You've heard the name in so many Christmas songs but what the %$&# is "figgy pudding". I say you've got to try it to understand.
    Prep Time 30 minutes
    Cook Time 30 minutes
    Total Time 1 hour

    Ingredients

    Puddings:

    • 3 tablespoons brandy optional
    • 1 1/2 cups dried figs stems removed and roughly chopped
    • 1/2 cup golden raisins or more figs
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 3/4 cup almond milk
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 cup pecans chopped
    • 1/2 cup coconut oil
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 tablespoon orange zest or lemon
    • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
    • 1 cup all purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 cups gingerbread cookie crumbs or other cookie crumbs such as graham crackers, see note
    • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips optional but delicious!

    Nut Butter Glaze:

    • 1/2 cup smooth almond butter
    • 1/3 cup almond milk
    • 1 cup brown sugar
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • dash of salt

    Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C) and grease two 6-cavity extra large muffin tins (see notes) with oil. Combine the brandy (if using) with figs, raisins, water, and 1 cup almond milk in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Boil for 5 minutes, then remove from heat and stir in baking soda. Cover with a lid and set aside to cool down.
    2. Put pecans and coconut oil into a medium saucepan and stir gently over low heat until completely melted. Increase heat to medium high and continue stirring for about 2 or 3 minutes, watching very carefully. As soon as the nuts start to smell fragrant and darken even the slightest, remove from heat and set aside to cool.
    3. Now back to the fig mixture, use a rubber spatula to scrape it all into a blender or food processor then blend until mostly smooth. Set aside.
    4. Now for the pudding. Pour the coconut oil and pecan mixture into a large mixing bowl and add sugar; stir until mixed. Add 3/4 cup more almond milk, lemon juice, baking powder, salt, zest, and vanilla. Mix well then scrape the figgy mixture into the bowl and stir until combined. Stir in flour and cookie crumbs then add chocolate chips.
    5. Spoon mixture into your prepared pan and fill to just below the line. Bake for 18 - 25 minutes, depending on pan size, until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool for about 10 minutes, then invert pan over a tray and remove puddings. Serve warm with the warm glaze on top (garnish with holly leaves and berries if desired.)

    Glaze:

    1. While the puddings are in the oven, add brown sugar, almond butter, almond ,milk, and salt to the same saucepan that you toasted/fried the nuts in and place over medium low heat. Bring just to a boil and cook, stirring gently, for about 1 minute until it starts to thicken. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Allow it to cool for about 5 minutes then serve over puddings.

    Recipe Notes

    If you prefer to use graham crackers or other packaged cookies but still want gingerbread flavor, just add 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ginger, and 1/2 teaspoon cloves to the batter. Also, obviously make sure that the cookies are vegan if needed.

     

    If you don't have a large muffin tin this recipe can be baked in just about anything that's oven safe. You can use a loaf pan, a 13x9 pan, or even do micro puddings in regular cupcake pans (I've done that last one for a bigger group and they're sooooo cute!).


  • Dairy Free,  Gluten Free,  Holiday,  Main Course,  Recipe,  Vegan,  Vegetarian

    Roasted Chestnut & Sweet Potato Cottage Pies

    Everybody knows, a turkey and some mistletoe……will help to make the season bright…

    …but this isn’t a turkey recipe. Actually, we’re going meatless today, I hope that’s cool with you guys. Wow, CHRISTMAS WEEK! Do you realize we’re now close enough to realistically start counting down in hours and minutes! There are so many things I want to get done in the next few days and, even though I know it is physically impossible to finish my list, I can still try right? So excited!

    So for those of you just joining in, I should mention that I’m doing recipes inspired by Christmas songs this week. Yesterday was Winter Wonderland with my little snowflake cakes and today it’s The Christmas Song. You know, like “Chestnuts roasting on an oped fire….. Jack Frost nipping at your nose….”. Some people call it the chestnut song also.

    I’ve always loved this song but now it has extra meaning because it’s the song that was playing when Josh proposed to Liv at Christmas time so it always makes me think of them and their (almost sickeningly…[just kidding]) sweet love story. They kind of got to grow up together and then both marry their first love. So perfect! Now they have their son and this is going to be his first Christmas! He’s just getting to the age where he wants to go everywhere and the presents under the tree are such a huge temptation for the poor kid, it’s been taking a lot of extra effort to keep him away from them.

    So I had every intention of actually roasting these over an open fire, but it’s been so rainy that I had to settle for oven-roasted instead. Still good though. Chestnuts remind me of when I first moved to Chile and was still adjusting to the major changes. I remember seeing the pokey green pods falling from a tree in my backyard and having no clue what they were. I called them “spiky acorns of death”

    That was when we lived in a different area. Now I don’t know of any trees close enough to pick nuts. I feel I should give an honorable mention to my good friends Carlos and Nora for sharing these chestnuts from their trees. The funny thing is that Nora gave them to me months ago and I had to freeze them in order to have them for Christmas. You see, they aren’t actually in season until around April (because that’s autumn time for the southern hemisphere) so when I got them I knew I wanted to save them for exactly this purpose. Now do you get why I’m always planning ahead?

    I’m so glad I did that because it made the perfect addition to these cottage pies. My mom and sisters were the only ones in my family who enjoyed these, but they loved them! They said it was like everything they love about a classic holiday dinner in one dish. I added white beans for some heartiness and I even threw in some apples for that extra holiday touch.

    You can make these individually like I did or feel free to do it all in a casserole dish if that’s easier. Also, if you can’t seem to find chestnuts you can replace them with potatoes. I know, weird right?, but if you’ve ever tasted chestnuts you’ll know that’s what they resemble. You could throw in some pecans or walnuts to get that nuttiness and add crunch too. <-Actually, do this anyway it sounds really good! 

    ……and though it’s been said, many times, many ways……MERRY CHRISTMAS to you! Have a great holiday guys!

    Roasted Chestnut & Sweet Potato Cottage Pies

    The cold season calls for only the comfiest of comfort foods and cottage pies are just the thing!

    Prep Time 15 minutes
    Cook Time 45 minutes
    Total Time 1 hour

    Ingredients

    Filling:

    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 red onion diced
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/2 head cauliflower florets roughly chopped
    • 1 green apples peeled, cored, and diced
    • 2 cups portabello mushrooms sliced
    • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
    • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
    • 1 teaspoon dried sage
    • 1 1/2 cup roasted and shelled chestnuts roughly chopped
    • 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans or a preferred bean
    • 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk
    • 1 cup vegetable broth
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 2 tablespoons cornstarch + 2 tablespoons cold water

    Topping:

    • 3 large or 6 small sweet potatoes cooked & peeled
    • 1/3 cup full-fat coconut milk
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1 tablespoon coconut oil melted

    Instructions

    1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and add garlic, onion, cauliflower, and apples. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes until the apples start to soften, then add mushrooms and herbs and cook 1 or 2 minutes more until mushrooms start to darken. Add in chestnuts, beans, coconut milk, and broth and stir over heat until mixture starts to boil.
    2. Reduce heat to medium low and whisk cornstarch and water in a small bowl until completely smooth. Pour into pan while stirring and continue stirring until mixture thickens. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
    3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C) and grease 6 ramekins or a casserole dish (such as a 13x9) with a light coat of oil. Place on a foil or parchment lined tray to catch any sauce that drip out while baking.
    4. Combine the ingredients for topping in a food processor or or blender and pulse until completely smooth (alternatively you can use a potato masher and do it by hand). Use a 1 cup measuring cup to divide the filling mixture into ramekins followed by about 1/2 cup of the sweet potato mixture. Gently spread the sweet potatoes on top with a spoon or spatula to smooth.
    5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until tops begin to brown and sauce is bubbling hot.
    6. Remove and cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.

     

  • Appetizers,  Dairy Free,  Holiday,  Main Course,  Recipe,  Vegan,  Vegetarian

    And a Partridge in a Pear Tree…….Pizza (Vegan)

    You know the song, right?

    What’s funny is that I honestly don’t even know the words to this song or even particularly like it that much, but when I had this idea I was like “That’s it, that’s totally what I’m making for my song-inspired recipe!”

    Okay, let me just say……Merry Christmas eve eve eve you guys!!!!! I know you’re probably all super busy today, because I know how busy I am too, so I think I’ll keep this short. I have really mixed feelings about Christmas being here already and the holiday season being almost over; I’m excited of course, but then I’m kind of sad that it will be over soon, relieved that all the rush will be passed, slightly anxious about the unknowns of the new year, ready to make some mega healthy new year’s resolution foods, and crazy enough to be glad I have a whole year to plan for next year’s holiday season.

    Clearly my mind is not a place you’d want to enter, but I’m sure you’re having at least one or two of these emotions right? You know what I’m thinking? I’m thinking pizza is a pretty darn good way to deal with certain life problems. Well, maybe not so much deal with them as forget them. Eghh, same difference.

    So, obviously you don’t have to make this into a tree shape. In fact, this is one of my favorite pizza flavors that I make all year long. The only differences are that I’ve never added craisins before, I thought that would be a nice little festive touch, and then the pecans are something special I included for the holidays.

    On the off chance that you don’t have dinner plans for your next meal, you should seriously make this pizza. It’s so incredible, like beyond words AMAZING! If you do already have food plans for the rest of the week though, or even the rest of the month, you should at least bookmark this, pin it, or tie a string around your finger to remember that you can’t move on with your life until you’ve tasted it. Who knew that pears and pizza could be so life-changing!

    And a Partridge in a Pear Tree......Pizza (Vegan)

    The classic Christmas Song gets turned into a delicious flavor-packed pizza!

    Prep Time 25 minutes
    Cook Time 45 minutes
    Rising Time 1 hour
    Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
    Servings 8 - 12 servings

    Ingredients

    Crust:

    • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 cups whole wheat flour
    • 1 1/2 - 2 cups all-purpose flour

    Topping:

    • 2 medium pears peeled and sliced
    • 3 cloves garlic minced
    • 1/2 medium red onion diced
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
    • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons coconut cream
    • 1 cup cooked chickpeas mashed
    • 3 ounces about 3/4 cup shredded vegan "mozzarella cheese" (optional)
    • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
    • 1/3 cup pecans chopped
    • 1/4 cup dried cranberries

    Instructions

    1. Instructions
    2. Stir water, sugar, and yeast together until yeast is dissolved and allow to sit for about 5 minutes. Pour into a large mixing bowl and whisk in salt and oil until combined. Add whole wheat flour + 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour and mix until dough comes together. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes, adding a bit more flour until the dough pulls away from the surface. It should be smooth and resilient. Place in oiled bowl and cover, then place in warm place to rise until doubled in size.
    3. While dough is rising, toast pecans. Put them in a small skillet and stir constantly over low heat for 3 - 4 minutes until very lightly browned and fragrant (nuts burn really fast so keep a close eye). Pour out onto separate dish and add pear, garlic, and onion to skillet.
    4. Saute with olive oil over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add balsamic and cream and continue cooking for about 5 minutes until most of the liquid is evaporated. Season with salt and pepper then remove pan from heat. Stir in chickpeas then set pan aside and allow to cool while you assemble your pizza.
    5. Heat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C) and line a tray with parchment or silicone mats. Roll the pizza dough out into a layer that's roughly 1/4 inch thick and free hand or use a print out picture of a tree to cut the dough into a tree shape (If you prefer, just roll it into a circle). Collect scraps from dough and re-roll to cut out your bird. Cut the dough into the shape of a partridge and set aside for a moment.
    6. Top the tree shaped crust (or circle) evenly with half of pear mixture, then layer mozzarella, then the rest of pear mixture. Then top with nutritional yeast, pecans, and cranberries. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes until edges are golden and cheese is all melty and yum!
    7. Remove from oven and cool for about 5 minutes, then slice and serve hot.
  • Behind the Scenes,  Dessert,  Holiday,  Personal,  Photography

    Gingerbread House 2015! Fairytale Forest Cottage

    Hey guys, I finally finished the house! It only took me…..5 days.

    I mentioned a few days ago that I was going to do it in pieces this year to avoid getting overwhelmed because I like to make everything from scratch. I’m so glad I did it that way this year because it made all the difference in stress levels and let me take the time to make it how I wanted. Everything on my house is edible including the dirt on the ground the entire structure of the house, and even the christmas trees ( Shhhhh, I used ice cream cones, the only exception to my all homemade rule.) Other than that I really did make everything, the gingerbread, the icing, the chocolate molding clay, and used cookie crumbs for the roof. Oh, and I designed my own templates. My little sibs have been dying to eat it since I finished and, oh my goodness, it smells so good! 

    For those of you who have been following for a while you’ll know that I have this condition that causes me to have to make a gingerbread house every year. It’s a little tradition of mine that always seems to end up in big proportions. This year I did a fairytale cottage. It’s something that I’ve been wanting to do for the past few years but I always decide on something else. Josh really wanted me to make a Millennium Falcon since Star Wars just came out (not sure why because he doesn’t really even like Star Wars) but I had already decided on this. Next year, Josh, next year.

    I thought I’d share this as a little bonus weekend post and my way of wishing you all a very very Merry Christmas!!!

    Since it is the weekend though, I’m just sharing pictures but if you want my recipe for gingerbread you can go HERE because I posted with last year’s house. What do you guys think, is it better than last year’s?

    Gingerbread House 2015! Fairytale Forest Cottage (2) Gingerbread House 2015! Fairytale Forest Cottage (3) Gingerbread House 2015! Fairytale Forest Cottage (4) Gingerbread House 2015! Fairytale Forest Cottage (5) Gingerbread House 2015! Fairytale Forest Cottage (6) Gingerbread House 2015! Fairytale Forest Cottage (7) Gingerbread House 2015! Fairytale Forest Cottage (8) Gingerbread House 2015! Fairytale Forest Cottage (9) Gingerbread House 2015! Fairytale Forest Cottage (10) Gingerbread House 2015! Fairytale Forest Cottage (11) Gingerbread House 2015! Fairytale Forest Cottage (13) Gingerbread House 2015! Fairytale Forest Cottage (14)