Making cookies and candy around the holidays always puts me in the best mood! It also reminds me of being a kid. Back then, I cut out sugar cookies and made those green cornflake wreaths with red hots. Remember those? Mostly I just loved being in the kitchen with my mom and my brother and listening to my mom sing Christmas carols.
We each had our cookie job, and my mom’s job was to make my dad a dozen or two of his mother’s rum truffles. My brother and I were never allowed to have any (although we managed to sneak one or two without any notice), so my mom would make us some sans the rum! They were delicious and usually gone within a day or two!
1 1/3 cup vegan white chocolate (for coating truffles)
Shredded Coconut, White Nonpareils, or Sparkling Sugar
To make the truffle mixture:
To make the basic truffle mix, melt the chocolate and coconut oil in a glass dish over boiling water. Stirring constantly.
Remove dish from the heat and whisk in coconut milk, maple syrup and sea salt.
Divide the mixture into 3 bowls, one for each of the flavors.
For the chocolate orange truffles add the orange essence. Mix well.
For the dark chocolate raspberry truffles add dark rum and raspberry essence. Mix well.
For the vanilla truffles, add the vanilla essence. Mix well.
Put all three bowls in the fridge for at least 5 hours to fully firm up.
After the truffle mixes are firm, use a teaspoon to spoon out mixture and roll in your hands to make small balls, about half the size of golf balls.
Set out the truffles on parchment lined baking pans. Just make sure you know which flavor is which. Freeze for at least 3 hours.
In a glass bowl over boiling water, melt chocolate to cover the truffles in.
For the orange truffles, and the raspberry truffles melt the dark chocolate. For the vanilla truffles, melt white chocolate.
I like to use this chocolate dipping tool, but you can also use a fork. Dip truffles one by one into the melted chocolate, and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Immediately decorate each truffle, while the chocolate is still melted.
For the orange chocolates, sprinkle with flaky sea salt and orange zest, or edible gold dust powder. You can also add two thin slices of candied orange across the top. For raspberry truffles, dust in cocoa powder and ground dried raspberries. For vanilla truffles, sprinkle with coconut or white sparkling sugar (blue sanding sugar is also very pretty).
Put all covered and decorated truffles in the fridge for an hour or so to set. Then they can be served.
The truffles will last in an air tight container the fridge for 2-3 weeks. They can also be frozen.
The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is my favorite time of year— a time of gathering and reflecting. It’s hard for me not to get sentimental about the past. Remembering my childhood holidays is one of life’s greatest treasures given to me. To create new memories for my family, I spend days upon days decorating my home, cooking warm comfort foods, and snuggling up by the fire playing board games! We just got a new dice game called LCR! I can’t wait to play!
I miss my grandma a lot, though. I find myself longing to be there at her side once more, I, a little scraggly blonde girl, standing on a footstool in the kitchen next to an ever-patient baker and teacher. Helping her knead dough and ice and cut dozens of sweet rolls. I hope you, too, find yourself comforted in the fond days of yore and spend time this season with those you love, creating new memories.
This red beet hummus is so easy to make! Mainly because you don’t have to go through the hassle of peeling and roasting beets if you don’t want to! Made like traditional hummus, I used four small beets out of a pack of freshly packed beets, a can of garbanzo’s, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and salt/pepper. I minced some additional garlic and garnished it with fresh parsley! It makes a quick and lovely appetizer that will be the hit of any holiday party!
I’ve wanted to make this recipe for a long time. I also wanted to create a yummy recipe for the 4th of July. Hence, the raw cheesecake! Key Lime Pie screams summer, but I wanted to make something a little more festive for a holiday. At first, I tried making a red, white, and blue cheesecake, but that idea came crashing down when I couldn’t get a pretty red layer. It kept coming up pink. And on one occasion, it even turned brown! The alternative was to use food coloring, but I wanted to keep it clean. In the end, I decided the red should come from fresh raspberries. You could even use pomegranate arils, or pitted cherries as an alternative. It is beautiful, as well as delicious!
Since it does require some freezer time, you’ll want to make this the day before. For the first layer, I would recommend freezing for at least 3-4 hours before adding the second layer. When I made this the first time, I used soft-baked vegan oatmeal cookies pulsed with coconut oil for the crust. It was yummy, but it wasn’t raw. If you decide to use the cookies, you will need at least eight large soft-baked cookies and 1/4 cup coconut oil. I liked the addition of the raisins in my crust, but if you don’t, either pick them out or find oatmeal cookies without raisins (not easy to do, by the way).
If you make this let me know how you like it! Be sure to let the cheesecake thaw for at least 25-30 minutes before serving.
It’s Cinco de Mayo, and I don’t have a lot of time to waste! I was in the middle of a lesson plan with my kiddos when I remembered this culinary holiest of holidays! Anytime I get a chance to eat Mexican food, I do! I also do it with extreme vigor, hence, these nachos! Served with my Queso Blanco, these babies will have you dancing in your kitchen! Why do you ask, are they so good?
Because the “jackfruit carnitas” is the star of the show. Not going to lie. I can be found eating it fresh out of the oven while it’s still on the baking sheet! I love this recipe and find that finishing it in the oven is why it goes from good…to out of this world! Even your hardcore meat-eating friends will LOVE these nachos!
Don’t be scared of the number of ingredients. They are primarily spices. If you don’t want to make the spice mix, you can always grab a premed Mexican spice mix at the grocery store. You can also make the carnitas in advance, then slow-warmed in a 350° F oven. Just sprinkle the jackfruit with 2 tbsp of water, and stir well. Add to a prepared baking sheet and warm in the oven for 20 minutes! ¡Ahí lo tienes!
Preheat oven to 425° F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Drain jackfruit in a colander and use your fingers, and shred jackfruit into pieces. (I generally pick out the seed pods and toss them). Set aside.
Heat a medium skillet (I use cast-iron) over medium heat. When the pan is warmed, add oil. Add onion and cook until softened, translucent, and lightly caramelized, about 7-8 minutes. Add sliced garlic and cook until soft and fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
Add spices. Mix well and sauté for 30 seconds to a minute.
Add tomato paste and stir well.
Add prepared jackfruit and soy sauce, maple syrup, liquid smoke, citrus juices, and cider vinegar. Stir well—season with salt and pepper. Simmer the mixture gently for another 10-15 minutes. Carefully remove from pan and add to prepared baking sheet. Add to the oven, and slow roast jackfruit for 20 minutes, or until edges begin to crisp and brown. While the jackfruit is in the oven, prep your toppings.
Chop avocados, green onions, and tomatoes. Shred the lettuce.
Remove jackfruit from the oven and immediately season jackfruit with fresh lime juice, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. (Mix spices together in a small bowl and sprinkle over the top).
Assemble nachos, add your favorite ingredients, and enjoy!
The holidays are a great way to showcase your artistic side! Making a great vegan charcuterie board such as this just a few years ago would have been much more complicated than it is now! There are so many great choices out there for vegan meats, cheeses, sauces, and even plant-based meats!
The key is knowing how to put it all together! To me, variety is the spice of life! So I like to find a variety of hard cheeses, soft cheeses, dips, and crackers. Daiya makes a great Farmhouse style block cheese, and of course, Miyoko Schinner, the original Queen of the Vegan Cheese, makes some pretty amazing cheeses that will blow your vegan minds! I like to slice the cheeses in different ways. Cubed, quartered, triangled, wavy, or ribboned, there is no wrong way to slice! In face the more the merrier!
Other accouterments might include olives (if you can find olive branches, they make a great garnish), pimentos, any variety of nuts, seasonal fruits, fresh figs, and don’t forget your garnishes! Sometimes, I will slice and use a toasted baguette! In the photo above, I made a sun-dried tomato cheesecake with rosemary. As a garnish, I used fresh sprigs of rosemary with some fresh cranberries for a festive look!
The other key to a good board is to have things spread out evenly. If you have a spread on one side, make sure you have one on the other side too! Balance is key! The best part is that it will allow you to showcase your artistic side and delight your guests! Don’t forget to add a few cheese knives and picks! I like the stainless steel picks because they can be reused! Whatever your style, have fun and enjoy!
Christmas is my favorite time of year! And this is one of my favorite appetizer recipes. I used to make a non-vegan version with eggs and dairy, so I was worried that I might lose some consistency; however, this cheesecake did not disappoint! It is so good and will be gone in a flash!
If you make your own cream cheese, you will definitely save a buck or two. But if you don’t, I would encourage you to spend the money on a good vegan cream cheese. I used Kite Hill Chives cream cheese and was delighted! Serve with crudités and crackers and few copies of the recipe!
1/2 cup julienne-cut, sun-dried tomatoes with herbs packed in oil, drained
1/3 cup cup toasted pine nuts
Assorted crackers and crudité
Fresh rosemary, sun-dried tomatoes small diced, micro-greens, fresh rosemary
For the crust: Pre-heat oven to 350°. Pulse together the walnuts, flour, and salt to a fine meal in a food processor. Pulse in the butter until it forms a crumbly dough. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a 7-inch springform pan. Place on a baking sheet and bake until lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove and let cool.
Beat cream cheese on medium speed with a mixer until fluffy. Blend in milk and next five ingredients, mixing on low speed. Fold in Parmesan cheese and rosemary; spoon over crust and spread to pan edges. Bake 45-50 minutes or until center is just set when jiggled. Remove from oven and gently run a paring knife between the cheesecake and pan. Cool 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours.
Place cheesecake on a serving plate. Toss together sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts in a small bowl. Spoon mixture over cheesecake and garnish with micro-greens and fresh rosemary. Serve with crackers and crudité.
Happy Hanukkah to all of my wonderful Jewish friends! I am a potato lover through and through…soooo making my Potato Latkes seemed like the most obvious choice for today! Some recipes use eggs. This one is a super simple recipe with only six ingredients! 🌱 🌱
These potato pancakes (called latkes) are meant to symbolize the miracle of Hanukkah, when the oil of the menorah in the ransacked Second Temple of Jerusalem was able to stay aflame for eight days even though there was only enough oil for one day. The symbolism comes in the form of the oil in which latkes are fried.
Just a quick tip…after shredding your potatoes, immerse them in cold water to keep them from discoloring. If you’re using a hand grater, you can shred them directly into the bowl of water. Soaking the shreds helps to keep them from turning brown; it also has the added benefit of making crispier latkes. Tart and fruity applesauce—unsweetened is best—cuts through the grease and lightens them right up, leaving you feeling perfectly satisfied, but not stuffed!
No eggs needed! The starchy potatoes when combined with the flour make the eggs unnecessary!
2 large potatoes peeled, grated and squeezed dry (about 1 1/2 lbs.)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon fine sea salt), plus more for sprinkling
1/4 cup canola oil, divided, for frying
1. Using a food processor with a coarse grating disc, grate the potatoes and onion. Transfer the mixture to a clean dishtowel and squeeze and wring out as much of the liquid as possible.
1. Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Scoop 1/2 cup potato mixture into skillet and use a spatula to flatten and shape the drops into discs. Repeat. Fry patties 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Cook remaining latkes in batches of 2, adding 1tablespoon of oil to skillet each time.
2. To drain, transfer latkes to wire rack on top of baking sheet lined with newspaper. Sprinkle with salt while still warm. You can also place latkes on pan in oven to keep warm. Serve with vegan sour cream or applesauce!
I am a sucker for French food and French wine. To this day, my favorite cookbook is still Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” A few years ago, I bought a vintage 20th edition copy released in 1971, the year I was born. The book has what looks to be wine stains across its pages, likely from the valiant efforts of another brave epicure hoping to recreate her world-famous bourguignon. I say valiant because if you’ve never seen Julia’s bourguignon recipe, let me just say it is a three-page lesson in patience. But alas, I digress.
The very first vegan cooking class that I taught was Vegan France. This recipe, along with my mushroom bourguignon, were two of my favorite recipes I shared with the class. A traditional molded foie gras is made with goose liver. It is salty and savory, and let me just say when I was a meat-eater, one of my favorite indulgences.
This recipe is an adaptation of Rebecca Leffler’s recipe from her vegan French cookbook. This “faux” gras is made with mushrooms, french green lentils, rosemary, thyme, walnuts, cognac, and a beet puree added in for color. Sure to satisfy even the most die-hard fin gourmets, I like to serve it with nice French Bordeaux and a traditional Pain de Campagne. Bon appétit!
24 medium-sized (200g, about 2 cups) button mushrooms
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons butter salted or unsalted
2 small onion peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic peeled and minced
2 cups (800g) cooked green lentils
2 cups (280g) toasted walnuts or pecans
4 tablespoons liquid aminos or tamari
4 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
4 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
4 tablespoons fresh sage or flat leaf parsley
4 teaspoons Cognac or brandy
2-teaspoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3–4 tablespoons beetroot puree (recipe below)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Wipe the mushrooms clean. Remove stem end and slice them.
Heat the olive oil and butter in a skillet or wide saucepan. Add the onions and garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions become translucent, 5 to 6 minutes. Add mushrooms, rosemary, thyme, sage, and Cognac/brandy and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are soft and cooked through, another 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat.
In a food processor, combine the cooked lentils, brown sugar, and cayenne. Scrape in the cooked mushroom mixture and process until completely smooth. Fold in beet puree. Taste. Add salt, pepper, additional cognac, soy sauce, or lemon juice, if it needs balancing.
Scrape the pâté into a small serving bowl, top with a thin layer of vegan butter if using, and refrigerate for a few hours, until firm. (If you’re making it on the fly, feel free to freeze it)
For Beetroot Puree:
½ pound roasted red beets
¼ cup Grapeseed oil
¾ tsp salt
1 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
1 tablespoons water
¾ teaspoons fresh cilantro leaves
¾ teaspoons red wine vinegar
Pinch of black pepper
Place beets, Grapeseed oil, shallots, 1 tablespoons water, cilantro, vinegar, and remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt in a blender, and process until blended, about 5 seconds. Add beets, and process until smooth, about 40 seconds, stopping to scrape down sides as needed. Stir in black pepper.
This recipe is one of my favorites. Admittedly, a lot is going on here. Part savory and part sweet, the complexity of spices makes for a simple yet flavorful combination. Most recipes using pumpkin ricotta are strictly savory. This recipe, however, has a sweetness that lingers for a bit in the background. I love how the pumpkin mixes flawlessly with the sage’s earthiness, and how that combination balances perfectly with the aromatic baking spices and sweet maple syrup. Served with my cashew béchamel sauce, this would be a perfect recipe for anyone wishing to do something a little different for Thanksgiving. No Turkey? No Problem! Also, this pairs very well with either red, or white wine. I would serve this with a nice oaky chardonnay.
Part savory, part sweet, this recipe covers all the bases! Some recipes do not have you press the tofu. Pressing the tofu removes an additional 1/2 cup of water, and this prevents it from being too runny.
Cook pasta according to package directions. Be sure not to overcook! Drain and set aside.
After the tofu has been pressed, crumble and add to a food processor. Add nutritional yeast, fresh sage, oregano, dry sage, vegan parmesan, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
Pulse until ingredients begin to combine into a ball stage. Remove from the food processor and add to a medium-size bowl. Fold in pumpkin puree, maple syrup, and baking spice mix—taste for salt. Mix well.
Give the pasta noodles a good rinse (they might be a little sticky). Shake off excess water. In a 9″x12″ glass baking dish, spread 1 cup of béchamel sauce on the dish’s bottom.
Carefully remove a conch shell and place it in the palm of your hand. Gently squeeze each pasta shell until it opens. Using about 2 Tbsps of filling, fill each shell until your pan is full.
Drizzle with remaining 1 cup béchamel sauce, being sure to coat all of the noodles well. If using, top with additional parmesan cheese.
Bake for 20-25 minutes. Turn oven up to broil and carefully watch until the parmesan cheese has melted and lightly browned, about 2 minutes. (Be careful not to walk away from a broiler as it can burn very quickly).
Let cool and plate. Drizzle shells with remaining béchamel sauce from pan.
Taste for salt and pepper.
*Be sure to check your pasta label for eggs.
UPDATE:**I walked away from the broiler one hour after writing this. Sheeshhh.
Growing up in a southern family, eating black-eyed peas was a part of every Sunday meal at our house. I don’t quite remember, but I think Grandma just opened a can of beans, threw in a ham bone, and called it dinner! My recipe has evolved over the years, and this one is my favorite! This vegan version pays homage to my New Orleans side of the family, and its creole influence lends a rich, creamy, and super smoky deliciousness!
Though called a pea, black-eyed peas are a variety of the cowpea and are technically a bean. In the South, this dish is referred to as Hoppin’ John, and while a traditional Hoppin’ John is made with bacon, a ham hock, or fatback, this vegan version uses liquid smoke.
It is customary to make black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day for good luck and prosperity for the New Year in southern culture. Served with greens (collards, mustard, or turnip greens, which vary regionally), the peas represent coins, the greens represent paper money. Cornbread is often served with black-eyed peas and greens, represents gold.
Serve over rice, with a piece of cornbread, and enjoy! Oh, and don’t forget the hot sauce!
I like to use dried beans because most canned black-eyed peas are simmered in a ham broth. Or they contain Disodium EDTA, which is a preservative used to promote color retention. It is synthesized from ethylenediamine, formaldehyde, and sodium cyanide. EEK! But you can use canned beans in a pinch, or if you don’t want to wait! When I used canned beans of any kind, I like to use the Eden Organic brand.
Rinse dried black-eyed pea beans, pick through and discard any debris or bad beans. Add beans to a stockpot and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes and remove from heat. Cover and let sit for 1-2 hours.
Warm a large, heavy skillet (I use cast iron), add 2 tbsp oil. When the oil is shimmering, add onions, bell pepper, celery, garlic, and jalapeños, sauté the mixture for 3-5 minutes. Add voodoo seasoning mix. Sauté until mixture has softened, about 3 minutes.
Add vegetable stock, tomatoes, tomato paste, and bay leaf.
Drain the soaked beans, rinse, and add the beans to the pot.
Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for about 20 minutes.
At this point, if using, add collard greens, and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally,
Cook until beans are tender and slightly thickened.
Add more stock or water if the mixture becomes dry and thick. The texture of the beans should be thick, somewhat creamy but not watery.
Remove the bay leaves.
Taste and adjust for seasonings with pepper, seasoning, and salt if needed. Serve over cooked rice and garnish with green onion.