Cranberry Sage Pie

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I recently posted this better vegan pie crust and hinted at a rad new pie recipe in the future. And today’s your lucky day, because it’s officially here and I couldn’t be more excited.

So it’s no secret that I love cranberries. And thus it was really only a matter of time before they got transformed into a pie. But not just any pie. Nope, this is a cranberry sage pie. Much more fancy and impressive. Like, so fancy and impressive that it should only be eaten with the kind of vanilla ice cream where you can see little flecks of vanilla bean.

(Obviously not. I will take any sort of vanilla ice cream any day and I couldn’t care less if it’s fancy enough to have beans in it)

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There seems to be a bit of a trend of putting savory ingredients into sweet things. Have you heard of the recipe where you put cheddar cheese into an apple pie crust? I still can’t really wrap my head around that one. But putting an herb into a berry pie seemed like a much more mild way to get things rolling, so there you go. And was it worth it? Absolutely, whole heartedly yes. Truth be told, the subtle addition of the sage was what really transformed this pie into a knockout winner.

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Something you should know: cranberries take three different forms in this recipe. They’re dried, chopped, and whole. And while this may seem like a hassle, it’s imperative to getting the best texture for your pie filling. Because fruit pie fillings, especially with as fickle an ingredient as cranberries, can get a bit tricky. With this pie, however, the filling is thick without being gummy, juicy without being runny, and flavorful without being too sweet. It really is a dream.

But then again, given that it’s made out of cranberries, I was basically destined to say that.

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Cranberry Sage Pie

adapted from Food52

Ingredients:

2 9-inch pie crusts
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup cane sugar
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
4 cups fresh cranberries
1 small baking apple
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg, lightly beaten
Egg wash (1 large egg whisked with 1 teaspoon water and a pinch of salt)

Directions:

Prepare pie crust and place one 9-inch crust in the bottom of a pie plate. Preheat the oven to 425F.

In a small heatproof bowl, pour boiling water over the dried cranberries, then set aside to rehydrate while you prepare the rest of the filling. In a food processor, combine the sugars, sage, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and cornstarch until the sage is fully broken down and incorporated. Empty this sugar mixture into a large mixing bowl.

Add 2 cups of the fresh cranberries to the food processor (don’t bother washing it) and pulse a few times until the cranberries are roughly chopped. Add the chopped cranberries and the remaining 2 cups of whole cranberries to the bowl with the sugar mixture and stir to coat. Using the large holes of a box grater, grate the apple into the bowl with the cranberries. Then drain the dried cranberries and add them to the bowl as well and stir to combine. Finally, add the vanilla and egg stir until the mixture is completely combined and all the cranberries are coated and evenly dispersed.

Pour the cranberry filling into the prepared pie crust, then cover with the second pie crust, sealing and crimping the edges all around. Brush the pie with the egg wash, then place in the oven to bake for 20-25 minutes.

Lower heat to 375F, then continue to bake 35-45 more minutes. Cover the edges with aluminum foil if they are getting too brown. Let cool before serving so that the filling can set.

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Brown Rice Rice Pudding with Almond Milk

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I’m not entirely sure how or why I don’t yet have a recipe for rice pudding around these parts, given the fact that a) it’s super easy b) it’s super comforting c) it can be super healthy and d) I’m kinda obsessed with it. To be fair, I like just about any recipe that requires slow, methodical stirring over a hot stove with something that smells amazing bubbling away in the pan. It’s the perfect anecdote to the winter weather blues, because instead of fighting the cold and the wet, you just kind of roll with it and make your house super cozy and stick your nose in the air as you look out the window like “Ha! You thought you could make me all melancholy with your dreary weather, but now I’ve got a bowl of rice pudding and a happy belly so joke’s on you!”

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There are some people (most people?) who like their rice pudding nice and hot off the stove, and if there’s a shiver in my bones, I’m certainly likely to go that route. My favorite way of eating it, however, is cold out of the fridge, after it’s become even thicker, creamier, and more flavorful. But that’s just how I used to eat it at my yiayia’s house, and it’s how my mom taught me to serve rice pudding after her mom used to make it, so there you go. Cold or hot, it’s still bound to be delicious.

It’s kind of ridiculous how something so tasty can be so healthful. The trick is to use brown rice instead of white, making this pudding full of a whole host of healthful benefits. For instance, brown rice is chock full of fiber and minerals like selenium and manganese, and it also helps stabilize blood sugar levels instead of sending you off on a sugar high. This recipe is also low in fat from the use of almond milk and the lack of many eggs (with a vegan option as well!). And the flavor is amped up with cinnamon and maple syrup, making this rice pudding an absolute dream.

Is the sky gray outside your window? Is your home feeling particularly drafty? If so, I think you know what to do.

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Brown Rice Rice Pudding with Almond Milk

Ingredients:

3/4 cup brown rice, uncooked
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups almond milk
1/4 cup cane sugar
2-3 Tablespoons maple syrup (or more cane sugar)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cinnamon sticks OR 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg, beaten (optional; omit if vegan)
1/2 Tablespoon vanilla extract
dash of nutmeg

Directions:

Combine the water and uncooked rice in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer over low heat and cook, covered,  for 45 minutes until tender.

Once the rice is cooked, add 1 1/2 cups almond milk, sugar, maple syrup (if using), salt, and cinnamon sticks/ground cinnamon. Cook over medium low heat until thick and creamy, roughly 20 minutes.

If you are using the egg, add a few large spoonfuls of the rice mixture to a small bowl with the beaten egg and stir until combined (this brings the egg to the temperature of the pudding so that it won’t scramble). Return the egg and rice mixture back to the pot, along with the remaining 1/2 cup almond milk.

If you are not using the egg, just add the additional milk and continue with the recipe.

Cook for 2 more minutes, then remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract and a dash of nutmeg.

Serve warm from the stove or refrigerate until cold.

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A Better Vegan Pie Crust

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Unless it’s the holidays and sugar cookie baking is a must, I usually don’t have butter in my fridge. Which means that when it comes time to make a pie crust, it’s just about always vegan.

Until recently, I typically used this recipe, and it was fine. It did the job, and that was fine by me. Except… it wasn’t great. Not quite. Not worthy enough to be my go-to pie crust recipe. Which means that it was time for a change.

So there was some tinkering and some tweaking and a ginormous realization that I did not have to use coconut oil as a replacement for butter just because it was the only oil that was solid at room temperature. Ohhhhhhh. Okay then. Game changer.

So out with the coconut and in with the canola (you could also use any other neutral oil). And not only does this switch make this crust much more flaky and tender, but it also is SO MUCH easier to make. No chilling to get the oil solid. No worrying about over processing the oil in the dough. Just drizzle in, stir with a fork, add the milk, and presto. Pie crust that’s easy to roll out and even easier to press into the pan. I won’t say this is The Best Ever Vegan Pie Crust, because you never know what might come along in the future, but it certainly is the best I’ve ever tried.

(I almost went into a joke there about “best I ever had” but then I didn’t and you should be grateful)

*** psst… look for the dynamite pie pictured here to make an appearance sometime in the future!***

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A Better Vegan Pie Crust

Makes one 9-inch pie crust or 10-inch tart crust

Ingredients:

3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon cane sugar
1/3 cup plus 1 Tablespoon canola oil (or another neutral oil)
1/4 cup cold almond milk

Directions:

Whisk together the flours, salt, and sugar. In a separate bowl, stir together the oil and milk until combined. Pour the oil mixture over the dry ingredients and stir with a fork until blended. Pat the dough evenly in the bottom and sides of a 9 inch pie pan, or roll out between two sheets of wax paper and then flip into the pan.

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Greek Yogurt Cheesecake

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Since we last talked, I have: packed four months worth of clothes, shoes, and toiletries into a single suitcase; lost said suitcase sometime during my three flights to get across the Atlantic; worn the same outfit for 5 days in a row as a result of this occurrence; quadrupled my daily walking average as I try to learn every inch of this new city; and made it my life goal to visit any and every bakery in the city of Copenhagen (which is a lot).

And it rocks! Seriously though…Copenhagen. It’s a dream. If you’ve been here before, you’re a lucky duck. If you haven’t yet, start saving because it needs to be on your travel list like yesterday. Oh, and get used to four months of me gushing about this place, because I think I might be in love.

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I’ve made a lot of baked goods in my life. Take a look at the recipes archives if you don’t believe me. Cookies, brownies, pies, tarts… I’ve made them all. So when I’m told that something I’ve made is the best ever? Well, that kind of compliment certainly says a lot. And that, my friends, is exactly how this cheesecake was described.

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If you’re a longtime reader of this site, you might recognize this recipe. That’s because I posted it a little over a year ago with some seriously awful pictures that don’t even come close to doing this amazing recipe justice. So here it is in all its chocolately, peanut buttery glory all over again. You’re welcome.

This tastes like a decadent, fat filled, out of this world dream, and yet it’s made primarily of greek yogurt, peanut butter, eggs, and some sugar. And that sinful chocolate topping? Nothing but cocoa powder, banana, and a bit of powdered sugar. I’m serious when I say you need to make it. Ready, set, GO!

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Greek Yogurt Cheesecake

Adapted from this recipe

For the graham cracker crust:

about ten sheets of graham crackers
1 egg white
1 Tablespoon oil
1-2 Tablespoons almond milk

For the cheesecake:

2 cups fat free plain Greek yogurt (I used Chobani)
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup peanut butter

For the chocolate layer:

1 banana
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1-2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Directions: 

To make the crust, pulse graham crackers in a food processor until they are crumbs. Add egg white, then pulse until the mixture clumps together. Add the oil and 1 Tbsp. milk and pulse until the mixture begins to stick when pressed between two fingers (add another Tbsp. milk if needed). Press the crust into the bottom and up the sides of a greased 9 inch springform pan.

Preheat oven to 350F. In a blender or food processor, combine the yogurt, sugar, salt, eggs, vanilla, cornstarch, and peanut butter and blend until smooth. Pour filling over the crust in the pan, and bake for 35 minutes.

While the cheesecake is cooking, combine the banana, cocoa powder, and powdered sugar in the food processor and blend until smooth. It will thicken once chilled, but if it is too thin, add more cocoa powder, one tablespoon at a time. Let chill in the refrigerator.

When the cheesecake is done, it will still be jiggly in the center but will have a “done” look to it. The edges of the cake will start to pull away from the sides of the pan. Make sure you don’t overbake.

Once the cheesecake has cooled down, spread the chocolate layer on top until smooth. Chill for 2-3 hours in the fridge before releasing from the springform.

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No Frills Cornbread

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Mama Brown’s BBQ. That’s the best cornbread I can ever remember tasting. Crispy, sweet, and moist (none of this dry, crumbly business that’s present all too often in cornbread), it was the epitome of everything Southern and everything good. I’d go back for seconds and thirds, and I can’t remember now, but I’d like to thing there was a lick of honey butter to go along with it.

Mama Brown’s is long gone (a tragedy if there ever was one), and unfortunately so is their cornbread. So when I received a cast iron skillet for Christmas (#1 on the wish list, thankyouverymuch), naturally the first thing to do with it was try to recreate the cornbread of my dreams. And off we go.

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I’m not sure if this cornbread reaches the hallowed heights of Mama Brown’s, but it sure does come close. And it’s also vegan, something I’m all but positive wasn’t true of the original version. Woohoo!

This cornbread, though. It’s a dream. And somehow incredibly addicting. I would eat a piece, finish, and then go back for just a little more. Except that happened about eight times in a row, until my big ole pan of cornbread slowly but surely disappeared. Whoops.

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This is a pan of down home, no frills southern comfort. Don’t mess with it. There’s nothing you could do to make it better except serve it with a pat of butter and a drizzle of honey. You’re welcome.

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No Frills Cornbread

Adapted from Food52

Ingredients:

2 cups almond milk
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1 cup white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
5 Tablespoons cane sugar
2 Tablespoons applesauce
1/4 cup liquid coconut oil (or other neutral oil)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400F. In a small bowl or measuring cup, stir together the almond milk and vinegar, then aside for a few minutes to curdle as you assemble the other ingredients.

In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Add the applesauce and oil to the milk and vinegar mixture and stir to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk until there are no lumps remaining.

Pour batter into a preheated 10 inch cast iron skillet (you can also use a 9×9 inch square pan or a 10 inch round cake pan). If using the cast iron skillet, bake for 25 minutes*, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

*The original recipe called to bake for 35 minutes, but mine only took 25 with the cast iron skillet, so keep an eye on your cornbread. If you use a regular pan, it will likely take longer.

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Simple Almond Biscotti

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Can we talk about the amount of green stuff flooding the internet at the moment? Cleanses and juices and smoothies and detoxes, all because the calendar flipped one more year and everyone decided today’s the day to get healthy. Which is awesome. You go world! I’m just sorry this tray of biscotti isn’t really gonna help.

But wait! They are healthy! Just not as healthy as, say, a tall glass stuffed with carrots and algae and spinach and just about every other fruit or vegetable you could imagine. But there’s whole grains and healthy fats and reduced sugar, so at least you’ve got that going for you.

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This is a pretty simple one bowl kind of situation. Into the bowl, with some mixing and folding, and look who’s halfway to a tray of perfectly crunchy cookies? The only thing that’s slightly out of the ordinary is the thing that makes these suckers biscotti: the double baking. It’s what gives you that perfectly crunchy cookie (but don’t worry, these won’t break your teeth either). A little extra time, sure, but it’s hands down worth it.

 

 

 

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PS… guess what?! In two weeks, I’m going to be hopping on a plane with a very strategically packed suitcase to study abroad in Copenhagen for the next four months! And since I have no earthly idea what my kitchen/ingredient/total baking situation is going to be, I don’t really know how things on the blog are going to go. Updates on the situation coming soon though!

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Simple Almond Biscotti

Ingredients:

1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cane sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon almond milk
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup slivered almonds

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, then add the oil, milk, and almond extract. Whisk together the wet ingredients until combined, then incorporate the wet into the dry until a dough is formed. Fold in the slivered almonds.

On the prepared baking sheet, pat the dough into a log that is about 1/2 inch thick and 5 inches wide. Score the dough with a sharp knife, then bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and reduce heat to 325F. Let biscotti cool 5 minutes, then slice into biscotti and lay flat on the sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, flip the biscotti onto the other side, then bake another 10 minutes.

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Pumpkin Pie Mousse

 

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Merry Day After Christmas! I hope your holidays have been wonderful, no matter what you celebrate, and that you’ve had laughs with your family and too much food in your belly and just a general jolly good time. ’Tis (still) the season, right?

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I haven’t got much to say today. I think the carols and hymns and seasons greetings have spoken far more eloquently than anything I might add. Instead, I want to leave you with a quote I recently stumbled upon that seems the perfect gateway into a brand new year.

“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art–write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.” – Neil Gaiman

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Note: This pumpkin mousse is light and fluffy and evocative of a perfectly spiced pumpkin pie. Make sure to use shelf stable tofu, like the brand Mori-Nu, and not the refrigerated kind. I liked the mousse with only 1/3 cup of maple syrup, but others preferred it a bit sweeter, so make sure to taste and adjust accordingly. This recipe is very forgiving, so play around with spices and sweeteners as much as you want. Cheers!

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Pumpkin Pie Mousse

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 package shelf stable tofu (such as Mori-Nu)
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup maple syrup (plus a few more tablespoons, if desired)
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
pinch of salt

Directions:

Combine all of the ingredients in a high-speed blender or food processor until smooth. Taste the mousse, and add a few more tablespoons of maple syrup if you want it a bit sweeter. Divide equally into ramekins and chill in the fridge, where it will become thicker and more firm. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.

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Soft and Chewy Molasses Gingerbread Cookies

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I’ll be the first to admit it… I’m not always the best cookie maker around. The perfect chocolate chip cookie was not developed in my kitchen, and I’ve still never made a successful batch of holiday sugar cookies, despite plenty (and I mean plenty) of tries. But the annual call of Christmas cookies comes beckoning every year, and this time around my first attempt to satisfy that sugar craving was these chewy molasses cookies. And let me just say that, unlike some years, things went swimmingly.

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Okay, confession number two: I’m not a huge fan of gingerbread cookies either. There just… kinda stale. And boring. And dry. Which is a bit surprising because they’re made from molasses and spices, which are some of my favorite ingredients, especially around the holidays. But there’s a solution! Keep all the flavor of gingerbread, and merge it with the soft and chewy texture of a chocolate chip cookie, and BAM! New favorite December cookie found.

Sometimes, I think cookies can be a bit overloaded, especially this time of year: crushed candy canes and M&M’s and chopped nuts and more. Don’t get me wrong; that’s totally delicious. But sometimes it’s nice to have  a cookie that’s a bit more understated as well. You know, one that let’s the flavor of its ingredients shine. And when one of those ingredients is molasses, a sweetener full of both holiday flavor and a boatload of vitamins and minerals (all while being low on the glycemic index!), your tray of cookies gets even better.

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And bonus! It’s all made in one bowl, with oil instead of butter so you don’t need to worry about softening and creaming. As for chilling, it’s not necessary either, though if you have the time I certainly recommend leaving the dough in the fridge for at least a few hours to let the flavors meld and deepen. If time is running out before a holiday party or the limit of your sugar craving, however, never fear. These babies can go from your computer screen to your belly in under fifteen minutes.

I hope your December is cheery and sparkling!

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Soft and Chewy Molasses Gingerbread Cookies

Makes about 2 dozen cookies

Adapted slightly from The Baker Chick 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup canola oil (or other neutral oil)
2 Tablespoons applesauce
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine the oil, brown sugar, and applesauce and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the molasses, egg, spices, salt, and vanilla until combined. Sprinkle in the baking soda and flour, then fold in gently just until combined.

Drop cookies by rounded tablespoons onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes (they will look underdone, but don’t over bake them; they’ll continue to firm up on the baking sheet). Let cool on the baking sheet, then remove to a cooling rack.

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