A HOMESPUN DESSERT–DELICIOUS AND FESTIVE!!!

Hazelnut Cranberry Bread PuddingHAZELNUT-CRANBERRY BREAD PUDDING

To some, an old-fashioned bread pudding may not seem special enough to serve guests at a festive holiday meal. But they haven’t tasted THIS delicious bread pudding. Admittedly, it’s still a simple dessert, but with the addition of fresh cranberries and fresh pears, spiced to the max and sweetened just right to take the tart edge off the cranberries, it will taste just as elegant as any fussy dessert.

Add a ladle full of rich, creamy Crème Anglaise to each serving and who wouldn’t love this dessert that’s a bit old-fashioned, but never outdated.

And with plenty of servings for a large gathering, this colorful, homespun dessert delivers Vegan Holidays lowrespleasing bursts of juicy, divinely sweet and tart flavors with each delicious spoonful. Credit the blend of tasty fruits that are so special to this cold-weather season. Many people think of bread pudding as comfort food–I call it just plain delicious! And it just so happens to be one of the tasty recipes in my Vegan for the Holidays cookbook, a cookbook packed with autumn and winter recipes perfect to carry you through the whole holiday season.

This dessert is a good keeper, so you can actually prepare it as much as two days ahead and keep it refrigerated until shortly before you’re ready to serve.

To spoil your guests completely, bring the bread pudding to room temperature and gently warm in a 350-degree F. oven for about 15 minutes. Warming the bread pudding has a magical way of elevating the fruity flavors.

If you take the bread pudding directly from the refrigerator, put it in a cold oven. Set the temperature at 350 degrees F. and check the pudding in 15 to 20 minutes to see if it’s gently warmed through. ALTERNATIVELY, you can simply serve the desert at room temperature.

Hazelnut Cranberry Bread PuddingHAZELNUT-CRANBERRY BREAD PUDDING

 Yield: 10 to 12 servings

Bread Pudding

3/4 cup whole blanched hazelnuts or slivered almonds (See How to Blanch Hazelnuts)

8 slices whole wheat bread

1 pound fresh cranberries

3 large Bosc or Anjou pears, cored, and sliced

1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar, firmly packed

1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons water

2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticksHazelnut Cranberry Bread Pudding

3/4 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup vanilla or plain soymilk

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

 

Crème Anglaise

2 cups unsweetened soymilk

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons organic sugar

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch salt

3 tablespoons cornstarch

3 tablespoons water

Fresh mint sprigs

TO MAKE THE BREAD PUDDING, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and lightly oil a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.

Hazelnut Cranberry Bread PuddingPour the hazelnuts into a heavy-duty ziplock bag, place the bag on a cutting board, and use a hammer to gently break them into coarse pieces. Set aside. If using slivered almonds, measure them and set aside.

Break the bread into 1-inch pieces and put them in a very large bowl. Add the cranberries and pears.

Combine the brown sugar, water, and cinnamon sticks in a 2-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium-high and simmer for 5 minutes to create a syrup. Let cool and add it to the bread mixture.

Add the raisins, soymilk, lemon juice, ground cinnamon, and nutmeg and mix well.

Spoon the bread mixture into the prepared baking pan and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil, and stir the mixture to break up the cranberries. Sprinkle with the chopped hazelnuts, cover with the foil, and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes.

TO MAKE THE CRÈME ANGLAISE, combine the soymilk, sugar, vanilla extract, and salt in a 2-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and decrease the heat to medium.

Combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl or cup and stir until smooth. Stir the paste into the simmering soymilk mixture a little at a time, stirring constantly for 1 minute, or until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and let cool. If not using immediately, cover and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours to firm. Stir gently before using. Tightly covered and refrigerated, Crème Anglaise will keep for 5 days. Makes about 2 1/4 cups.

TO SERVE, spoon the bread pudding into dessert dishes and ladle a generous spoonful of the Crème Anglaise over each serving. The finishing touch is a small sprig of mint to make it look extra special. Pass the remainder of the sauce at the table.

 

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WHAT’S FOR DESSERT ON THANKSGIVING? BET YOU CAN GUESS!!`

 WILLIAMSBURG PUMPKIN PIE

Wiliamsburg Pumpkin‘Tis the season for pumpkin! There’s no doubt about that. Everywhere I look there are recipes for Pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin cake, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin soup, pumpkin stew, pumpkin scones, pumpkin breads, pumpkin sauces – you get the idea!

And wouldn’t something as highly anticipated as pumpkin pie be missing from the dessert table on Thanksgiving if it weren’t there? There’ll be no dessert disappointment for my family–pumpkin pie will take center stage at dessert time, along with a creamy and compassionate Satin Whipped Cream to spoon on top.

You can’t miss with this recipe that captures the spicy taste and aroma we’ve come to expect. The Pilgrims would have really appreciated this treat, especially with a dollop of Satin Whipped Cream as a finishing touch.

WILLIAMSBURG PUMPKIN PIE

Yield: 1 (9-inch) pie: 6 to 8 servings

1 Oatmeal Crumb Crust (recipe below)

Filling

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon arrowroot starch, (plus 2 tablespoons arrowroot for butternut squash)

1/4 cup unsweetened soymilk

1 (12.3-ounce) box extra-firm silken tofu, drained

2 cups canned pumpkin or cooked, mashed butternut squash

1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons organic sugarPumpkin pie

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Pinch of salt

1 recipe Satin Whipped Cream (recipe below)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and prepare the Oatmeal Crumb Crust.
  2. To make the filling, combine the arrowroot and soymilk in a blender. Process at high speed for 1 minute until smooth and slightly thickened, stopping occasionally to scrape down the blender jar. Set aside in the blender to thicken further.
  3. Put the tofu, pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, ginger, and salt in the food processor. Process until smooth and creamy, leaving no bits of white tofu visible, stopping occasionally to scrape down the work bowl.
  4. Process the arrowroot mixture again and add it to the batter in food processor. Process until well incorporated.
  5. Spoon the filling into the prepared crust. Use the back of the spoon to spread the filling to the edges and smooth the top.
  6. Bake the pie in the middle of the oven for 45 to 50 minutes. The center of the pie will still be slightly soft but will firm when chilled. Let cool completely.
  7. Cover the pie with an inverted 9 or 10-inch pie pan or form a tent with aluminum foil, and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours or overnight. Serve with Satin Whipped Cream on the side, if desired.

Oatmeal Crumb Crust

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

3/4 cup walnuts

4 1/2 tablespoons organic canola oil

3 tablespoons organic sugar

3 tablespoon maple syrup

1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

3/4 teaspoon salt

  1. Have ready a 9-inch pie pan. Pour the oats into the food processor and pulse 12 to 15 times. Add the walnuts, canola oil, sugar, maple syrup, lemon juice, and salt. Pulse and process until the mixture is a fine, crumbly meal and holds together when pinched.
  2. Spoon the crust mixture into the pie pan and press it firmly and evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the pan with your fingers. Press on the edges to firm.

Satin Whipped Cream

1/2 cup cashews

1 cup water

1 small banana

6 tablespoons powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Put the cashews in a food processor. Process until ground into a fine meal. Transfer to a blender. Put the water, banana, sugar, xanthan gum, and vanilla extract in the blender with the cashew meal. Process for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the mixture becomes thick, smooth and creamy.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a covered container and chill for 8 to 12 hours to firm. Covered tightly and stored in the refrigerator, Satin Whipped Cream will keep for about 4 days. Before serving, fluff the mixture with a gentle stir.

Vegan Holidays highresYou can find this recipe and a host of other delicious dessert and celebration recipes in my Vegan for the Holidays Cookbook.

ENJOY SOME VEGAN HEAVEN WITH A SIP OF CREAMY NOG!

 CHEF AJ’S HOLIDAY NOG Single nogAfter experiencing excellent health on a vegan diet for over 36 years, Chef AJ began developing delicious vegan and raw desserts for local Los Angeles restaurants. When people began asking for her recipes, she answered the call by teaching vegan cooking classes with a focus on from-scratch, low fat, no salt, no sugar, and no refined flour recipes.

UnprocessedChef AJ’s healthy cooking classes developed into the sensational Healthy Taste of LA (HTLA) all-day programs featuring well-known speakers like Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr. Michael Greger, and Dr. Neal Barnard along with cooking demonstrations by nationally known chefs: Eric Tucker from Millennium, Ann Gentry of Real Food Daily, Eric LeChasseur and Sanae Suzuki from Seed Kitchen, and many more.

To find more information about HTLA visit http://www.chefajshealthykitchen.com

This busy chef travels across the country speaking and doing cooking demonstrations to promote the health benefits of a plant-based diet. She is also known for the zesty, short video presentations she does with Julieanna Hever, RD–The Chef and the Dietitian. AJ’s cookbook Unprocessed created with Glen Merzer features many of the recipes she formulated to teach her cooking classes.

 CHEF AJ’S HOLIDAY NOGchefaj2

Chef AJ shares her ultra thick, rich, and creamy nog that makes the ideal welcome beverage for a holiday gathering. This delicious nog is also decadent enough to be served as dessert or as an accompaniment to dessert. Make it ahead and refrigerate it until ready to serve. Then, just before serving, give the nog a brief whirl in the blender to make it pleasantly airy.

Yield: 4 1/2 cups or 6 to 8 servings

3 cups almond milk

1 cup cashewsSingle nog

3/4 cup pitted dates, snipped in half

1 tablespoon alcohol-free vanilla

3/4 teaspoon rum extract

Ground nutmeg for garnish

6 to 8 three-inch cinnamon sticks

Mix in blender. Pour into serving cups and sprinkle a dash of nutmeg into each cup. Finish with a cinnamon stick in each cup. Put the nog-filled cups on an attractive tray and serve.

SPICE UP THE HOLIDAYS WITH A CREAMY NOG!

 

Nogs on platter closeupSPICED HOLIDAY NOG

Festive holiday gatherings beg for a celebratory nog with a spicy personality that measures up to the spirit of the season. What better way to welcome your guests to a holiday gathering than to hand them a small cup of silky smooth vegan nog as soon as they’ve taken off their coats.

Faces light up and smiles spread widely even before their first taste. You wait anxiously for their first sip, anticipating their positive reactions, and, then, sure enough, the mmmmmms and aaaaahhhhs begin to flow.

Far better than any commercial “eggnog” or should I say “eggnot” one can find in the grocery store, and much purer, too, this fragrant, homemade nog doesn’t have preservatives or artificial colors–just the richness of seasonal spices, a generous measure of cashews, and soymilk.

What makes this nog so aromatic is the abundant medley of spices I’ve included, making the spicy flavors jump to the forefront and bringing refreshing delight to the palate. By assembling just a few familiar ingredients and giving them a simple whirring in the blender, you’ll offer your guests a festive beverage that tastes extravagantly rich, feels satin-smooth and ultra thick and creamy, and offers a joyful moment as friends and family raise their glasses and toast the holiday.

If you’d like to pump up the holiday spirit just a bit, add 1/4 cup of brandy to the blender and give it a whirl. Enjoy the nog with or without the extra spirits. Now it’s time to raise your glass and wish everyone Holiday Cheers!.

Here’s an added bonus: You can make the nog up to two days ahead and refrigerate it. If you need to double or triple the recipe, prepare it in separate batches and store it in a pitcher. Just before serving, give the nog a whirl in the blender to give it a fluffier touch.

Nogs on platter w:candycanesSPICED HOLIDAY NOG

Yield: 6 (6-ounce) servings

2 cups vanilla soymilk, almond milk, or hemp milk

1 cup cashewsSingle nog

1/2 cup apple juice

3/4 cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, plus more for garnish

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

6 extra-long cinnamon sticks

  1. Put 1 cup of the soymilk and the cashews in the blender. Process on high speed for 1 minute, or until smooth and creamy. If you have a high-speed blender, you can put all the ingredients into the blender at once and process until smooth.
  2. Add the remaining 1 cup of soymilk, the apple juice, maple syrup, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves and process until thick and creamy, stopping occasionally to scrape down the blender jar.
  3. To serve, pour the nog into glasses and sprinkle each with a pinch of nutmeg if desired. Add a cinnamon stick to each glass and serve. If preparing in advance, pour the nog into a 1 1/2-quart pitcher and refrigerate.

Note: The nog will thicken slightly and tends to separate when refrigerated. Refresh with a brief whirl in the blender or whisk vigorously just before serving. If needed, thin the nog with 1 or more tablespoons of soy milk or apple juice until you reach the desired consistency.

If any of your guests have an allergy to cashews, simply use almonds instead and blend a little longer.

HELLO, SUGAR PLUM FAIRY. THANK YOU FOR THE SWEET GIFT!

SUGAR PLUM SPICED NUTS

Dish w:white cupAn ideal gift for special friends at holiday time or simply an extra-special treat to serve on a dessert table, these nutty delights can be made well in advance of the holiday rush. They’re good keepers if you store them in airtight containers.

Wrap it for Christmas, tie it in blue and white Hanukkah colors, decorate it in red, green, and black for Kwanzaa–any which way you play with decorating the finished nuts, you’ll have a very special homemade treat for sharing or giving. Holiday cheers!!!!

Walnuts

The success of this recipe depends on two factors:

  •  Measuring all ingredients in advance of assembly
  •  Applying patience and stirring until the liquid is completely absorbed

Closeup on dish

The recipe actually comes together quickly once you have everything ready.

 

SUGAR PLUM SPICED NUTS

 Yield: 31/2 cupsChristmas jar

 1/2 cup powdered sugar or more if needed

Spice Mixture

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground cloves

2 teaspoons ground allspice

2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

2 teaspoons ground cardamom

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepperwhite cup

1/4 teaspoon salt

COATING

1 tablespoon organic canola oil

1/3 cup organic sugar

3/4 cup apple juice

3 cups coarsely chopped raw walnuts

  1. Place the powdered sugar in a medium bowl and set it aside.To make the spice mixture, combine the cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger, cayenne, and salt in a small bowl or cup. Stir the mixture well and set aside near the stove.
  2. To make the coating, pour the canola oil into a large nonstick skillet. Place the Hanukkah jarorganic sugar, apple juice, and walnuts in separate cups or bowls and set them aside near the skillet. Now you’re ready to begin.
  3. Heat the canola oil over high heat for about 1 minute. Add the organic sugar and stir another minute until hot and bubbly.
  4. Pour in the apple juice and stir constantly for about 1 minute, until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  5. Quickly stir in the walnuts and continue stirring over high heat until all the liquid evaporates and the mixture becomes sticky and shiny. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes longer, or until all the liquid is absorbed.
  6. Sprinkle in 2 tablespoons of the spice mixture and toss to coat the walnuts, stirring for 1 minute. Turn off the heat and add the remaining spice mixture, tossing continuously.
  7. Pour the spiced walnuts into the bowl with the powdered sugar and toss to give them a white dusting. Spread the walnuts in a single layer on a large dish or baking sheet to cool completely. Stored in an airtight container at room temperature, Sugarplum Spiced Walnuts will keep for up to 1 month.

Note: This recipe is not limited to just walnuts. It works quite well with all nuts.

white cup w:ribbonGift wrapped jar

Fruity Oat Bulldogs–the Cutest Little Muffins!

 FRUITY OAT BULLDOGS

Fruilty Oat BulldodgsNot really a typical muffin—not at all a cupcake—neither a scone nor a brownie. In my effort to create a delicious, honestly healthy, and easy-to-make gluten-free breakfast or brunch treat, this little creation sprung from the oven and found its way onto my dish. It was yummy and because of its stubby, compact nature, it reminded me of a little bulldog. Though it’s a strange name for a muffin-like goody, bulldog it is! Aside from the awesome flavor and delightfully dense texture, these treats are a snap to assemble–a bowl and a processor does the job and cleanup is almost instant!

Loaded with spices, made without flour, and sweetened only with dates, these unique muffin-like cakes have many additional guilt-free features: no added fats like margarine or oil, plenty of soluble fiber from old-fashioned rolled oats, and crunchy, chopped hazelnuts or almonds to help lower cholesterol. One recipe will make two lucky people on your gift list the recipients of a half-dozen Bulldogs each. To spread the joy even further, follow the suggestion below to create four dozen adorable little mini muffins and package them in small gift boxes tied with holiday ribbons.

Fruity Bulldogs parchmentIf you decide to make the bulldogs ahead of the holidays and want to freeze them for your own family, put them into heavy-duty ziplock bags and tuck them into the freezer for up to three months. To warm them for breakfast or brunch, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Take the bulldogs right from the freezer, put them on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and warm for 17 to 20 minutes.

Releasing the Perfect Muffin

I’ve made many a muffin that either sticks to the metal muffin tins or doesn’t come out clean from the parchment baking cups. But I’ve found perfection in silicone baking pans–and they don’t even need to be oiled. They come in several shapes for other baking needs like loaf pans and cake pans. The secret is adjusting the baking times to the silicone pans and allowing the muffins to cool completely before removing them from the pan.

FRUITY OAT BULLDOGS

Yield: 1 dozen

2 3/4 cups old fashioned rolled oatsBuldog Muffin

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon salt

 

3/4 cup almonds or hazelnuts

 

1 1/2 cups pitted dates, snipped in half

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water

 

1 cup mashed bananas

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon mild vinegar (rice, cider, or distilled vinegar)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon caramel extract

1 1/4 cups vanilla or regular soymilk

 

Garnish

12 whole almonds

12 dates, cut in half

Fruity Bullldogs for BreakfastPreheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and line 2 six-section muffin tins with baking cups. Alternatively, use an ungreased, 12-section silicone muffin pan. Place the muffin pans on a large rimmed baking sheet for easy handling.

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the rolled oats, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, cloves, and salt and mix well.
  2. Put the almonds in a heavy-duty plastic bag and use a hammer or a 1-pound can to chop them coarsely. Add the chopped almonds to the bowl.
  3. Create a coarse date puree by putting the dates into the food processor. With the machine running, drizzle in the water. Pulse and process until the dates are coarsely pureed.
  4. Add the mashed bananas, vinegar, vanilla extract, and caramel extract to the date puree. With the machine running, slowly pour in the soymilk and process briefly, just until the ingredients are well incorporated.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Fill the muffin pans using the entire batter. They will be slightly overfull.
  6. To garnish, poke 1 almond into the center of each muffin and push 2 date halves into each muffin next to the almond. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely before removing from the pans.

Notes:

The date puree measures 1 cup.

For a touch more spice, add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice.

Suggestion:

Turn your one-dozen muffins into four dozen of the cutest little mini muffins you’ve ever seen by baking them in mini muffin pans. Baked in metal mini pans, the muffins will be done in about 12 to 16 minutes. The silicone mini muffin pans make slightly larger minis and will bake in about 15 to 18 minutes.

To prepare well ahead of the holidays, put the baked mini muffins on metal or plastic dishes or trays and put them, uncovered, into the freezer. When completely frozen, transfer the muffins to a heavy-duty plastic bag and seal tightly. Defrost the muffins before packaging them for gift giving.