Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Pumpkin Pie Bites

Wee! Squash season is my favorite season : ) So many delicious, healthy, low-cost things to cook with the amazing squashes one can find at the farmers market. I really will need to stock up before that goes away. I hosted the lovely Eldina this weekend, and, having a guest, I was inspired to cook. And what did I have? Squash. Pumpkin, butternut, acorn, spaghetti... In addition to the apples and sweet potatoes we got at the Overland Park farmer's market (best one in the KC area for sure!). I was basically able to use the oven as a heater for most of the weekend since I was roasting so much squash. What I'm trying to say is, there are many more squash recipes to come....

Pumpkin Pie Bites
modified from My Whole Food Life

1 cup pecans OR walnuts
1 cup raw almonds
3 T pepitas
10 dates
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (instructions here)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Seed mix:
3 Tbs each: sesame seeds, poppy seeds, flax seeds

1. In a food processor, process almonds, pecans, pepitas, and spices until finely ground.
2. Add dates, and process well. Add pumpkin, and pulse until well combined.
3. Roll dough into 1.5" diameter balls, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
4. Combine seed mix in a small bowl. Take out pumpkin balls and roll each in seeds until completely coated, place back on plate, and refridgerate for another 30 minutes.
5. Serve chilled.

Vegan Gluten-free Dairy-free Cheesecake

Goodbyes are always difficult. It seems the more I do, the worse I get at doing them. You think there'd be an elegance or grace that one would acquire over the years, a finesse to doing this sort of thing but I've found the opposite to be true.

My manager announced that he's going to be leaving to go live down in AR before the end of the year. Not that he's leaving the company, mind you, just will be working remotely. So, there was a happy hour held to see his wife off (who's moving down before him) at a local brewery. She's dairy-free, which gave me the perfect opportunity to go crazy with my dairy-free recipes I've been stocking up, particularly this "cheese"cake one.

It came out great, and I think it was actually better on subsequent days. I would recommend soaking the cashews overnight if possible. Definitely looking forward to making all the suggested variations when I have need of a faux cheesecake again!

Vegan Gluten-free Dairy-free Cheesecake w Coconut Whipped Cream
from Chickpea Magazine, Summer 2013

2 cups cashews, soaked 2 hours - overnight, well rinsed
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 Tbs lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
14 oz. can full-fat coconut milk
2 Tbs coconut oil
1 tsp agar powder

1. Blend cashews with maple syrup, lemon juice, vanilla, and salt.
2. In a small saucepan, heat coconut milk and oil until just bubbling.
3. Whisk agar powder into coconut mixture for 1 minute.
4. Add coconut mixture to blender, and blend until velvety smooth, scraping down sides of blender as needed.

1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
10 dates
1/2 tsp vanilla
pinch salt

1. Combine all ingredients in food processor and pulse together until finely chopped and starts to clump.
2. Firmly press mixture into bottom and slighly up side walls of 9" a spring-form pan. Set aside.

Blueberry Swirl:
1 cup blueberries
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1/2 Tbs chia seeds

1. Add all ingredients to small saucepan, heat over medium heat until blueberries burst.
2. Use immersion blender to blend until smooth.  Set aside.

Lemon Coconut Whipped Coconut Cream:
1 can full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
 2 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs maple syrup

1. Turn can of coconut milk upside down, open, and pour off coconut water into separate container to safe for another applications.
2. Scoop out coconut cream into a medium bowl. Combine with lemon juice and maple syrup, and whisk together with hand mixer until creamy.

To compile:
1. Pour cashew cheesecake base into prepared crust. Dot blueberry mixture onto th etop of the cheesecake, and use a knife to swirl the blueberries into the cake.
2. Refridgerate for 4 hours until chilled and firm.
3. Serve with dallop of coconut whipped cream and garnish with fresh blueberries.

Possible alterations:
Toasted Hazlenut Chocolate Chip
- Replace walnuts with toasted hazelnuts in the crust. Omit lemon juice and bluebrry swirl from cheesecake base and add 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips. Cool and top cheesecake with chocolate ganache (1 cup chocolate chips, 2 Tbs coconut milk, 1 Tbs coconut oil, melted together in double boiler). Garnish with chopped hazlenuts.

Peanut Butter with Chocolate Drizzle
- Omit lemon juice and blackbery swirl, add 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter to cashew cheesecake base. Drizzle top with chocolate ganache (recipe above). Garnish with chopped peanuts

Raspberry Lemon
- Add zest of 1 lemon to cheesecake base, omit blueberry swirl. Sprinkle 1/2 cup fresh raspberries over bottom of crust before pouring cheesecake base in. Serve with dollop of whipped cream, fresh raspberries, and sprinkle of finely grated lemon zest.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Zucchini Noodles with Sun-dried Tomato Pesto

This was one of the most delicious things I've made in a while. Raw, vegan, and gluten-free. There's really not much more one could ask for! The original recipe has quite a bit of oil and pine nuts, so I pretty much halved all of that. Ever since starting on this weight-loss competition at my work, I've gotten increasingly conscious about things like this! It's a good life-style change : ) Everything in moderation, even delicious things like olive oil  and pine nuts.

Zucchini Noodles with Sun-dried Tomato Pesto
adapted from Craving Greens
1 large serving (600 calories)

1 medium zucchini
1/2 cup basil, packed
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil
2 Tbs oil (from sun-dried tomato jar)
2 Tbs pine nuts
1 Tbs. toasted pine nuts, to garnish
2 Tbs. nutritional yeast
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a food processor, combine basil, sundried tomatoes, oil, 1/4 cup pine nuts, yeast, and garlic and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
2. Spirilize (or grate or julienne) zucchini into "noodles".
3. Toss zucchini with pesto until well combined. Garnish with pine nuts and eat immediately.