Thursday, December 19, 2013


Few things scream Christmas like eggnog…

Well, there is the Christmas tree.

And the decorations.

And the cookies. (Did someone say cookies?!)

But lets get back to the eggnog!

This recipe is simple and delicious. Made from only the best ingredients, and without any "natural flavors" or other mystery ingredients found in the store-bought versions. Not only good for drinking, this eggnog rocks as a creamer replacement in your coffee, or milk replacer in your pancake recipe (eggnog pancakes say whaaat). 

Yields 2 cups of eggnog. 

1 cup plain almond milk
1 cup light coconut milk  from the can
2 tablespoons agave nectar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of pink salt

Combine all of the above ingredients in a medium size sauce pan on the stove. Whisk together and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and continue whisking to keep from boiling over. Reduce the heat and return the pot to the stove, keeping it at a simmer, and whisking for an additional 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour into a glass jar on the counter. Let cool, uncovered, and then tightly seal and place in the refrigerator to cool for 3-4 hours before serving. This will keep for 2-3 days.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Snowball & Thumbprint Cookies

Finally! My first Christmas cookie post of the season. I blame my being late to the cookie party on being sick for the past few weeks. Yes, weeks. Some terrible, awful got the best of Scott and I (which I am still not completely rid of) and it has inhibited me from consuming the typical amount of sugar I would have by this time in December. Despite the mound of citrus and vegetables I have been consuming alongside detoxifying juices and vitamins galore, this cold has stuck. So I finally broke down and just baked some cookies. 

Struggling to come up with the perfect thumbprint cookie dough (you know, a buttery, shortbread-like but still moist cookie that melts in your mouth) it dawned on me that I was trying to find a dough that reminded me of another favorite Christmas cookie of mine, snowballs. So I had a crazy thought, and took my snowball cookie dough and turned it into thumbprints! Holy moly guys did I strike gold with this one. I simply made the same cookie dough recipe side by side in two different bowls, one for snowballs and one for thumbprints. For the thumbprints I wanted the cookie to be slightly less dense than the snowball - and have a more rustic, nutty flavor - so I changed up the flours and decreased the overall amount of flour by a quarter cup. These cookies turned out INCREDIBLE. Better than I had imagined, and exactly what I was looking for in my thumbprints. The snowballs melt in your mouth and have the perfect level of sweetness. The thumbprints similarly melt in your mouth with a nutty, buttery shortbread like flavor paired with my two favorite preserves (raspberry and apricot). These will knock the socks off of anyone at your next cookie swap party, or holiday family gathering, or your own darn self seated on the couch with the Grinch playing and leaving you with a ring of powder sugar around your smiling mouth. I really should get a degree in constructing run-on sentences (sorry grammar police folk).

Yields 20 cookies per batch. 40 cookies total if you make both versions.

1 cup (2 sticks) Earth Balance vegan butter
1/2 cup organic powder sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups whole spelt flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 teaspoon salt

*Additional powder sugar (optional)
*Jam or preserves for filling

1 cup (2 sticks) Earth Balance vegan butter
1/2 cup organic powder sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 1/4 cup light spelt flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
optional 1/2 cup chopped pecans

*Additional powder sugar for rolling

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Beat the butter, powder sugar, and vanilla together until smooth. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix with a fork until the mixture resembles pea sized crumbles. Using your hands, mash the dough together until it is a thick, but workable, dough. Shape the dough into tablespoon sized balls and place on a lined cookie sheet.

If making thumbprints, press your thumb into the center of each cookie dough ball, making a well. Bake for 10 minutes (or until the bottom edges begin to brown) then remove from the oven and let cool before dunking the tops in powder sugar (optional) and filling with a teaspoon of your favorite jam or preserves. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or on the countertop for 2-3 days (for best texture and flavor).

If making snowballs, bake the cookie dough balls for 10 minutes (or until the bottom edges begin to brown) and let cool on the counter before rolling in powder sugar. Store in an airtight container on the counter for up to 5 days (for best flavor and texture).

Monday, December 9, 2013

Raw Christmas Treats Round-Up

Being a grown-up at Christmas can be tough. Before working full-time and taking on the responsibilities that come with getting married and moving to another state, I would have had about ten Christmas treats baked by now, have eaten at least half of them, watched about eleven Christmas movies, and have tins of goodies on all of my family and friends' doorsteps. As of right now I have watched maybe two Christmas movies, made one batch of chocolate covered crunchy peanut butter balls, and have delivered zero goodies to anyone… It changes THIS week. No more putzing around with to-do lists and piles of laundry and cooking. I'm going to let the house get dirty, wear my least favorite socks and shirts leftover when it's laundry day, and bake some darn cookies. All I want to do is hang out with my husband and get fat on the couch with piles of treats while watching movies with little elves and talking snowmen and forget that I am a responsible 24 year old for a few nights. I want to sit and take way too long to wrap all the special gifts we got our family, fill tins of goodies and stand in line way too long at the post office to mail them without a care in the world. I don't care if I still have to show up to work all day for the next five days, THIS IS STILL HAPPENING PEOPLE. I refuse to let another week go by half-committed to this season. (Deep breath.)

Now that I have that off of my chest, here is a little round-up of the healthy, raw versions of my favorite Christmas treats I made last year for those of you looking to watch your refined sugar intake this season (without compromising flavor, I promise these will not disappoint). 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Butternut Sage Biscuits & Gravy

Sweet butternut squash in a savory sage biscuit. Hello, fall, and welcome to my Thanksgiving table. Top it with the best gravy I've had in my life, and now we're talking. Vegan gravy? Yep, and it knocks the socks off it's non-vegan competitors I have had in the past. It is simple, healthy, and heart warningly delicious. Top these biscuits with butter if that's your thing, and maybe pour this gravy over your entree, such as my favorite lentil loaf. Any way you can, get these flavors on your plate. 

The gravy is simply simmering some cooked navy beans with broth, onion, garlic, seasoning and a bay leaf. Then blending it to creamy perfection in your blender. 

The biscuits are made with hearty, whole spelt flour and seasoned simply with sage and roasted butternut squash puree. They were inspired by these biscuits I had spotted a bit ago. 

Yields about 3 cups of gravy and 5 jumbo biscuits. 

1/2 cup dry navy beans or 1 1/2 cups cooked
2 1/2 to 3 cups vegetable broth
2 teaspoons pink salt or to taste
1/3 cup yellow onion roughly chopped
3 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
1 bay leaf

1/4 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups whole spelt flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh sage finely chopped
1/2 cup butternut squash puree fresh or canned
1 tablespoon vegan butter softened

For the gravy, if using dry beans, begin by soaking them for 24 hours in a bowl covered in water. Rinse and drain, and transfer to a pot on your stove filled with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for an hour to an hour and a half (or until fully cooked). 

Rinse and drain your cooked beans (whether fresh or canned) and transfer to a medium size pot on your stove. Cover with brother and add onion, garlic, salt, and the bay leaf. Bring to a simmer and let cook for 20-25 minutes uncovered. 

Discard the bay leaf, and blend the mixture in a glass blender (let cool before blending in a plastic one). Add any additional veggie broth at this time to thin out to your desired consistency. I did not add any because I like my gravy thick.

For the biscuits, combine the almond milk and apple cider vinegar in a small dish and set aside to curdle while you assemble the rest of the dough. In a mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients and mix well. Create a well in the center of your flour mixture and add the butternut squash, butter, and curdled almond milk to it. Mix well with a spoon until the dough comes together and is well mixed and sticky. Do not over mix (a minute or two should do the trick). 

You can either preheat your oven to 400F at this point, or do as I did and heat a 10 inch cast iron skillet on low heat on your stove (I would have baked them but I had an apple pie in the oven at the time set to a different temperature so I got creative and they turned out awesome). 

Press your dough out with your fingers on a lightly floured work surface and use whatever circular device you'd like to cut out five jumbo biscuits. 

Bake them in the oven for 10-12 minutes on a parchment lined baking sheet or in a greased pie dish. 

If doing the cast iron method, add some vegan butter or olive oil to your cast iron pan, add the biscuits, and cover with a lid. Cook on low for 7-8 minutes on each side, adding a little more butter or oil to the pan when you flip them half way through. 

Biscuits are best eaten right away or that day. Once gravy has cooled it will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Pumpkin Pie Gingersnap Ice Cream

Oh yes, I had plans for those gingersnap cookies I baked last week. And no it was not just to share with you in my last post, but to enrich your lives even further with what I now call my most favorite ice cream on the planet. It's a bold claim, but the truth. If you do not like pumpkin, pumpkin pie, or gingersnaps - do not make this ice cream. But if all of those flavors I just listed made you jump in your car to drive to Starbucks to get a holiday cup filled with a pumpkin spice late topped with whipped cream and a gingerbread cookie so you could cry your heart out due to the uncontrollable happiness that overcomes you (man was that a run-on sentence if there ever was one), then you should seriously go make this ice cream before you explode from excitement by the mere fact that something like this could exist. 

Note 1: Chilling (for 4 hours or overnight) the coconut milk cans and pumpkin puree before making the batter allows you to place the batter straight into your ice cream maker because it is already chilled. If you did not chill them first you can still make the batter and place it in a bowl, covered, in your refrigerator for a few hours to chill before processing. 

Note 2: I have used all full fat coconut milk cans, one full fat can + one light can, and now both light cans in my homemade ice cream recipes. Verdict? Two light coconut milk cans has made this batch of ice cream the best and closest consistency-wise to the traditional dairy ice cream. And NO, the watered down coconut milk cartons for drinking SHOULD NOT be used. Those are not the same and will yield flavorless, icy ice cream. 

2 cans light coconut milk chilled
1 cup pumpkin puree chilled
1/3 cup agave nectar
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon xantham gum
Pinch of salt

2 cups of gingersnap cookie pieces

Blend all of the above ingredients (minus the cookie pieces) together and transfer to your ice cream maker. Process according to the manufacturers instructions. Break up your gingersnap cookies into one-inch pieces, and either add them to your ice cream half way through processing in your maker (if it is large enough to hold all the batter and the mix-ins), or fold in the cookie pieces after the ice cream is finished processing. 

It is ready to eat straight from the maker if you like your ice cream of soft serve consistency. Otherwise, transfer to an airtight container and store in the freezer until ready to serve. If eating within the same day as making the ice cream, it will be soft enough to serve straight from the freezer. But after another day of freezing it will become very hard and need to sit on the counter to thaw for about 1/2 hour before serving (or if you have one of those fancy microwaves you could use that to soften it instead). 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Oh Snap, Gingersnaps

Oh snap, gingersnaps. This is my "dangerous" cookie. The cookie I can sit down and devour one after another without ceasing until they have all disappeared and my mouth is torn to pieces. This is my cookie for fall. The cookie that encompasses my favorite flavors, molasses, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. Not only did I need this recipe's flavors to be spot on with the boxed gingersnaps of my childhood, but I wanted to come up with a recipe where you could make them either soft and chewy or hard and snappy. Like very few recipes, I nailed it with my first batch - and am so excited to share this recipe with you today! This is a must-make recipe for you gingersnap lovers meandering gingersnap-less out there. Instructions on how to make them more "chewy" or "snappy" are in the baking directions below. 

Yields 16 cookies. 

1 1/4 cup light spelt flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 cup vegan butter softened
1/4 cup almond milk
1/2 cup raw turbinado sugar or cane sugar
1/4 cup molasses

Preheat the oven to 350F. 

Cream the butter, sugar, and molasses together.

Mix in the spices and almond milk.

Add the flour and baking soda, mix until combined. 

Drop in tablespoon sized balls into a small bowl filled with raw turbinado or cane sugar. Roll to coat evenly and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.

Chewy Cookies: Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until slightly browned. Let fully cool on the counter before transferring to an airtight container to store on the counter for up to one week.

Snappy Cookies: Bake for 15 minutes. Let fully cool on the counter for an hour or two before transferring to a plate to sit uncovered on your counter for up to three days.