Kitchen Tip – How to Regrow Green Onions

green onions

Green onions are used in lots of Asian recipes, and they are actually super simple to regrow on your windowsill from the trimmings that you would normally compost.

I cut the green part off the green onions so that there’s about  1.5 – 2 inches of the white part attached to the roots.  Then put the green onion roots in a little jar (old spice jars seem to work well for this) and add about 1.5 inches of cool water into the jar. I put a little piece of folded paper towel under the jar when I put it in the windowsill so that no watermarks stain the wood.

Replace the water everyday (that way the water doesn’t get slimy as quickly). I’ve been able to successfully regrow a trimmed green onion root about 2-3 times.  After that, they get a little too slimy around the roots and it’s time to compost them and wash out the jar.

The picture shows about a week of growth, and you can trim off what you need to add to dishes.

You can also plant the trimmed green onion roots in some soil, and they should regrow a few more times than if they were simply regrown in water.

I hope that this tip helps you save a little money! Let me know how this trick works for you. What would you make with your regrown green onions?

Kitchen Tips – How To Use Every Drop Of Olive Oil

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One ingredient that I use almost everyday is olive oil.

I use it in salad dressings for it’s peppery bite, drizzle it over soups and pasta sauces to give them richness, and add it to hummus for a smooth and silky texture.

Inevitably, at some point, the bottle runs empty save for a few teaspoons of that beautiful green oil that you can never seem to shake out of the bottle.

If you too can’t stand the thought of letting any food go to waste, this is my solution for getting every last drop of precious oil from the bottle.

Take a wide mouth mason jar and put it inside of a 1 quart measuring cup. Then turn the bottle of oil upside down and place the mouth of the bottle inside of the mason jar. Leave this to sit in an area where it won’t be disturbed for a day or two and all of the oil that’s left over in the bottle should drain into the mason jar.

(Putting the mason jar inside of the big measuring cup makes the bottle of oil and mason jar less likely to tip over.)

Use this reclaimed oil within a day or two, as it has been exposed to air and light and won’t keep for too long before oxidizing.

Thanks for reading!

Happy Cooking!

Chocolate Banana Soft Serve Ice Cream – Refined Sugar Free, Dairy Free, Vegan, Paleo

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When I think of chocolate desserts, I want something really decadent and rich, with a deep chocolatey flavor.

This Chocolate Banana Soft Serve Ice Cream definitely fits the bill. It’s super easy to make, and takes almost no time or effort. It’s so creamy and delicious, and it’s pretty incredible that blended up frozen bananas can turn into such an amazing treat!

When I was working on this recipe, I thought about the rich and creamy chocolate ice cream that would occasionally eat before I went dairy and refined sugar free.

I really tried to get a similar flavor with this recipe, so it does have more cocoa powder and vanilla extract than you would expect it to have, which gives the banana ice cream a similar flavor to the store bought chocolate ice creams of my younger days.

Banana ice cream also cuts down on food waste because it’s the perfect thing to make when you have overripe bananas that you don’t know what to do with. No need to throw them away! Just peel them, and freeze them, and you can have ice cream whenever you want. How cool is that?

You can also adjust the flavor of the ice cream to your liking really easily. If you want it a little sweeter (or if your bananas could have used a little more ripening before you froze them) you can add a little more maple syrup, or more cocoa if you want a deeper chocolate flavor.

However you make it, I hope that this ice cream brings a little more joy to your day.


Chocolate Banana Soft Serve Ice Cream

Makes 1 serving (about 3/4 cup)

Ingredients

1 thawed frozen banana

3 1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder *

2 1/2 tbsp + 1 tsp maple syrup

2 tbsp + 2 tsp water

1 tsp vanilla extract

tiny tiny pinch of salt

 

*I didn’t use a heaped tbsp, just sort of slightly higher than a level tbsp. The cocoa powder that I used was the Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa powder.

Instructions

1. Cut the thawed banana into half inch slices with a paring knife. If the banana is too hard to cut, then let it thaw for another 5 minutes or so before trying to cut it again.

2. Add all the ingredients into a food processor and process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally.

If you want a firmer texture, you can spoon the mixture into a bowl and put it into a freezer for another 15-20 minutes.

For garnish, I just used a paring knife to shave pieces off a slightly thawed frozen strawberry. It gives it a nice color and a bit of little flair, and the strawberry flavor goes well with the banana and chocolate flavors of the ice cream.

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Happy Eating!

 

Vanilla Extract

Kitchen Tip – Easy Way To Get The Cap Off A Vanilla Extract Bottle

vanilla

 

If you’ve ever known the struggle of baking cookies and not being able to get the little cap off of the vanilla extract bottle, this one’s for you.

Here’s the secret –

Wrap a few thin rubber bands around the cap of the vanilla extract. The rubber bands make the smooth metal of the cap easier to grip. The bottle of extract should be a breeze to open after that.

I use the rubber bands that come wrapped around vegetables like kale, or green onions, or bunches of cilantro or parsley. It’s a thrifty solution, and makes baking with vanilla extract much much easier.

This idea for this came to me when I was testing the recipe for the maple vanilla sugar cookies. For a moment I was concerned that I was not going to be able to get the cap off of the bottle of extract, and I actually thought for a second “Do I really need vanilla in this recipe?”

The answer was “Yes. You do need vanilla in maple vanilla sugar cookies.” So I had to come up with a solution pretty quickly, and here we are!

I hope that this kitchen tip helps you to never again be held back from your baking dreams by another difficult to open vanilla extract cap!

Happy Baking!

 

spring rolls and peanut sauce

Vegan Thai Peanut Sauce and Veggie Packed Spring Rolls – Vegan, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Refined Sugar Free, Peanut Satay Sauce

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When I was in high school, our “wild night out” on the weekends (more often during the summer) was going bowling, and then going to eat shrimp spring rolls at the Thai restaurant that my friend’s family owned.

The spring rolls were actually a Vietnamese dish, but I didn’t know that at the time. All I knew was that these spring rolls were amazing! They were one of the best things that I’d ever eaten, and we always ate them with the Thai peanut satay sauce.

When I moved away, the shrimp spring rolls and peanut sauce was the dish that I most associated with that time in my life.

I absolutely loved eating those spring rolls, and I could never find a restaurant that made them the same way. I wanted to make them myself, but the most difficult part of recreating that dish was trying to get the peanut sauce right.

I never did get the recipe for that peanut sauce. I managed to recreate the sauce a few years later through trial and error, but it did have a lot white sugar in it, so I wanted to create a version that was refined sugar free.

And this version is vegan to boot.

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It tastes very similar to that peanut sauce that I first had all those years ago, sweet and mildly spicy, rich with the flavors of ginger and chili, with just a hint of salt to round out the flavor. The extra salt replaces the savoriness of the fish sauce, and the sauce is so good that you won’t miss the fish sauce.

This peanut sauce is also easier to make than the traditional version (this one you don’t have to cook, just stir it all together), but still tastes incredibly similar.

You can make this peanut sauce in advance, and it will thicken and become creamier in the fridge as it chills.

I usually make extra sauce, as you can dip vegetables in it, or spread it over noodles, and I usually eat more than one serving of spring rolls at a time, so having extra sauce on hand is great.

Vegan Thai Peanut Sauce

Makes ¼ cup of peanut sauce (1 serving)

Ingredients

3 tbsp. + 1 tsp unsweetened natural peanut butter

1 level tsp of red curry paste (most supermarkets carry it these days, I used the Thai Kitchen Brand)

3 tbsp maple syrup

4 tbsp hot water

¼ tsp – ½ tsp sea salt (to taste)

 

¼ tsp. crushed dried mint* (optional)

1/8 tsp ground coriander seed* (optional)

 

*If you don’t have a few leaves of fresh mint and cilantro to put into your spring rolls, you can add these spices to the peanut sauce to give it a similar herby brightness.

 

Instructions

Ideally, your peanut butter would be room temperature, but if it’s cold from the fridge, that’s ok too. It will just take a little more mixing to get everything to combine.

Stir together the peanut butter, curry paste, maple syrup and optional spices until smooth. Add in the 4 tbsp of hot water, and still until well combined. Add salt to taste (I added ½ level tsp of sea salt).

 

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Veggie Packed Spring Rolls

For the spring rolls, I wanted to make a more colorful version, because it’s January, and spring rolls are a good way to eat lots of vegetables without having to think too hard about it. You can fill them with whatever you like really, that peanut sauce tastes amazing on pretty much everything.

I’d count on making about 4-5 spring rolls per person if you’re want to make them a main course, and 2-3 spring rolls per person if you want to make them as an appetizer.

You can cut them in half on an angle if you want to show off the colorful vegetables inside, or just leave them whole (which does make them a little easier to dip into the sauce, or you can spoon the sauce over the spring rolls instead).

I used Three Ladies Brand of rice paper wrapper in the 25 cm size (which is non-GMO and gluten free), but feel free to use your favorite brand of rice paper wrapper.

I would make the spring rolls right before you plan to eat them. They texture of rice paper wrapper changes after it’s been refrigerated, so it’s better to make them fresh. You can also pre-cut your vegetables in advance and assemble them right before serving to save time.

 

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Ingredients

(For each spring roll)

1 rice paper wrapper

¼ cup lightly packed baby spinach leaves

4-5 slices bell peppers

1-2 pieces of roasted sweet potato (cut into ½ inch thick strips)

 

2-3 mint leaves (if you have them)

3-4 cilantro leaves (if you have them)

 

To make the spring rolls, dip one rice paper wrapper into warm water for about 20-30 seconds. It should just begin to feel like silk between your fingertips. Spread the rice paper onto a plate, place the mint and cilantro leaves on first, followed by the baby spinach, then the bell peppers, and roasted sweet potato.

Wrap each roll like a burrito, so the sides get folded in first, then the fold the edge closest to you over the vegetables, and roll until the spring roll is closed, and then set the spring roll aside onto another plate, and start the next one.

Here’s a good visual lesson on how to do it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfI1wMeDXhg

 

Before I moved away, I did have the foresight to buy some spring rolls from my friend’s restaurant, and take one home. Here’s what was in it:
1 1/2 teaspoons of bean sprouts

1 Sprig of Cilantro

2 one inch long pieces of mint leaves

3 pieces of Halved Shrimp (shrimp cut in half length ways)

3 teaspoons of rice noodles (possibly cooked in chicken broth, as they were light brown in color, I seem to remember my friend mentioning that they may have mixed the noodles with a bit of oyster sauce).

6 teaspoons of shredded romaine lettuce

1/2 teaspoons shredded carrots

 

My friend’s family has since sold the restaurant, and I make simpler version of these spring rolls now at home (which I will post on the blog another day), but I thought that I’d include the recipe just in case you were curious.

Happy Eating!

Instant Homemade Vegetable Stock

Instant Homemade Vegetable Stock Mix – Vegan, Soy-free, Gluten-Free

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Vegetable stock is easy to make, but can be a little bit of hassle, and takes up a lot of space in the freezer. Store bought veggie stock can be expensive, and it can have a lot of added ingredients that leave you wondering “What is organic caramel coloring?” and “Why does it need to be in vegetable stock?” I find myself asking the same questions when I read the back of soup bouillon labels as well.

If you too have these questions (and are wondering if there is an easier way to make vegetable stock with less additives) this might be the answer that you’ve been looking for.

This is a super simple and easy recipe to always have vegetable stock on hand. This recipe is soy free, thrifty and easy to customize.

We’re going to basically make a spice mix that contains a lot of flavors that you would normally find in vegetable stock. You can almost think of it as a tea. Admittedly, it takes 10 minutes to steep (so not quite “instant”) but it’s still pretty quick.

You can also make a large batch of this veggie stock mix and put it into a little jar to use as needed.

If you don’t like the little bits of dried spices in your soup, you can strain the broth through a coffee filter, or place the spices in some layers of cheese cloth, tie it up with some kitchen twine and place it into your soup pot (basically like a tea bag) to fish out later once the flavors of the broth have infused.

I hope that this recipe helps you make lots of wonderful soups in the future. I plan on making a noodle soup with this pretty soon. Perfect for the cold weather.

 

Makes a scant 2 tbsp of veggie stock mix = 4 cups of vegetable stock

Ingredients

1 tsp granulated onion

3/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp celery salt

1/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp of granulated garlic

1/4 tsp dried rubbed sage

1/4 tsp dried parsley

1/4 – 1/2 tsp sea salt

1/8 tsp black pepper

 

Instructions

Stir all the spices together. Add the mixture to 4 cups of boiling water and allow to steep for 5-10 minutes. You can strain the mixture at this point or leave the spices in the stock depending on your preference.

Use in your favorite soup recipes, or add some noodles, and some veggies for a quick and filling lunch or dinner.

Enjoy!

Maple Vanilla Icing

Maple Vanilla Icing – Refined Sugar Free, Dairy Free, Vegan

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No gingerbread cookies or sugar cookies would be complete without icing! This is a super easy and allergy friendly icing for gingerbread cookies, and sugar cookies. Perfect for decorating cookies around the holidays!

Maple Vanilla Icing

Makes about 1/4 cup

Ingredients

3 tbsp + 2 tsp maple syrup

3 tbsp sweet rice flour (I used the Koda Farms Mochiko Sweet Rice Flour)

3 tbsp + ½ tsp melted refined coconut oil (I used one from Trader Joes)

¼ tsp + 1/8 tsp vanilla extract

tiny tiny pinch of salt

Instructions

1. Stir together the maple syrup, sweet rice flour, and vanilla extract until smooth.

2. Add in the melted refined coconut oil and stir until well combined.

3. Allow the icing to sit for a minute or two until the coconut oil cools a little and it’s easier to spread or pipe onto cookies.

To get a glossy finish on the cookies, ice the cookies while the icing is still warm, and use the back of a teaspoon smooth the icing to the edges of the cookie. If the icing firms up too much to frost with, just put the icing over a double boiler to gently melt the coconut oil and it will smooth right out again.

You can also use this icing to pipe with. I just scooped the icing in to a ziploc bag, cut off a tiny bit of the corner of the bag and used it to pipe the frosting onto the cookies.

If you want to pipe with the frosting, add in about 1/4 – 1/2 tsp more of the sweet rice flour to the frosting (to get a firmer frosting) and pipe the icing while the icing is still a warm.

If the icing gets firm to pipe with, scoop it out of the bag, heat it in a double boiler again, allow to cool for a minute and then scoop the icing back in to the bag, and pipe the icing as usual.

If it does look a little rough in places, you can dip your finger in some warm water and smooth down the rough edges, or use a wet toothpick for ever more precision in cleaning up the edges of your icing.

 

 

Maple Vanilla Sugar Cookies

Maple Vanilla Sugar Cookies – Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Vegan

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These are great cookies, and super simple to make. They are sort of a cross between a traditional sugar cookie, and a fortune cookie. They have a wonderful crunchiness and the maple gives them a lovely sweetness.

Another good thing about these cookies is that they don’t contain any baking soda or baking powder, so the shape of the cookies don’t spread out or distort at all during baking.

The shape that you put the cookies into the oven is the same shape that they come out of the oven, perfect for holiday cookies.

You make them exactly the same way as the gingerbread cookies (hence the same instructions are repeated here) and the maple vanilla flavor really shines through in these cookies.

They aren’t too sweet, and I love them most when they are completely frosted with the maple vanilla icing. If you also love sweeter cookies, you can double the icing recipe. They frosting really gives the cookies a very polished look and makes them taste even more amazing.

 

Maple Vanilla Sugar Cookies

Makes 10 – 12 cookies

 

Ingredients

 

2 tbsp water

½ level tsp psyllium husk powder *

 

tiny pinch of sea salt

1 ¼ cup + 2 tbsp oat flour **

 

 

¼ cup + 1 tsp maple syrup

½ tsp + 1/8 tsp vanilla extract

 

2 tbsp + 2 tsp melted refined coconut oil ***

 

Notes – *Psyllium husk powder gels like nothing else, and there’s no great substitute for it. I found mine in the bulk spice section of the local Fred Meyer, but Whole Foods, Trader Joes have been known to carry it as well. If it’s not in the natural foods, or bulk spice section, check the dietary supplement/ digestive health (where the Metamucil is) section of the store or pharmacy as it’s sometimes sold there as well.

** I grind oats into oat flour using a blender. Don’t grind the oats in a food processor because the flour won’t be fine enough.

Any extra oat flour I don’t use in the recipe goes into an airtight container and I use it for another recipe.

If you’re making the cookies for someone who has celiac disease, use certified gluten free oats, as the oats from the bulk bins can sometimes be processed on the same equipment as wheat.

*** I used the refined coconut oil from Trader Joes, which is filtered and not bleached. It’s the fat of coconut oil, without the flavor which works great for these cookies. You can use regular coconut oil for this recipe, but it probably will give the cookies a mild coconut flavor. Because I used the refined coconut oil, these cookies didn’t taste of coconut at all.

 

Instructions

1. In a small bowl stir together the water and psyllium husk, try to stir out all the lumps. Set aside for a few minutes and let it gel.

2. In a medium size bowl, sift the oat flour, and salt together.

3. Add the maple syrup, and vanilla to the oat flour mixture, and stir until well combined. Add in the gelled psylium husk and stir until you no longer see any bits of the gel.

4. Add the melted refined coconut oil to the mixture and stir until well combined. It will look very sticky, but don’t worry. There’s no need to add any additional flour, the coconut oil will firm up in the fridge and the dough will sort itself out.

5. Let the dough sit in the bowl for 2-3 minutes and it should be firm enough to scoop onto some plastic wrap. Wrap it up and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

sugar cookie

 

6. Preheat your oven to 325 F. Cut the top and sides off of a gallon size Ziploc bag and open it and lay it flat to form a long rectangle.

Dip a paper towel in a little bit of neutral flavored oil (like avocado oil or vegetable oil) and oil the inside of the plastic. Don’t use the coconut oil for this, it solidifies too quickly and the dough ends up sticking to it.

7. Take the dough out of the fridge and cut it in half. Wrap the half you’re not working with in plastic wrap and set to the side.

If the dough breaks when you try to roll it out, you can knead it with your hands for a little bit so that the coconut oil in the dough melts a little from the heat in your hands. It should soften up and become easier to work with after this.

If the dough is too sticky to work with, you can add about 1 tbsp of oat flour, and knead it into the dough to combine, or put it back into the fridge to firm up for a few minutes.

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Roll out your dough between the layers of oiled plastic to 1/4 of an inch thick, re-oiling the plastic each time your re-roll out the dough.

Cut out the shapes with the cookie cutters. Use something like the flat edge of the back of a butter knife (an offset spatula would be perfect for this) and run it under the cookies to get them to release from the plastic.

If there are any little bits of the dough stuck to the plastic after you peel your cookies off, make a little ball out of your scrap dough, and drag it over the plastic and it should clean it right off.

If your finding it difficult to remove the cookies from the plastic (especially for more complex shapes like snowflakes), cut the cookie shapes out using the cookie cutters, and remove the excess cookie dough from around your cookies. Then lay the cookies that are stuck on the plastic onto a plate and stick them in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. After that, the cookies should be firm enough to peel off the plastic and set them onto the baking sheet.

I usually use my finger to press the sides of the cookies smooth, just to clean up the edges.

Place the cookies onto a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 325 for 34- 38 minutes (I baked them for 36 minutes) until just lightly golden brown about the edges and firm to the touch.

Allow the cookies to cool before icing.

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Enjoy!

Happy Holidays!

Gingerbread Cookies

Gingerbread Cookies – Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Refined Sugar Free, Nut Free, Vegan

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It just doesn’t really feel like Christmas without gingerbread cookies.

These cookies are free from nuts, gluten, refined sugar, dairy, egg free and completely vegan.

They are also delicious.

They are actually the best gingerbread cookies I’ve ever had. Who knew you could make amazing gingerbread cookies that work with so many dietary restrictions?

These cookies are crunchy, and not too sweet. They have a lovely warm flavor to them, and are perfectly spiced (without being too spicy) so they are perfect for kids as well.

The black pepper is optional, but I do think that it gives the cookies a wonderful complex rich flavor.

Another good thing about these cookies is that they don’t contain any baking soda or baking powder, so the shape of the cookies don’t spread out or distort at all during baking.

The shape that you put the cookies into the oven is the same shape that they come out of the oven, perfect for holiday cookies.

If you like your cookies on the sweeter side, double the recipe for the Maple Vanilla Icing and give those cookies a good coating of icing. So good…

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Gingerbread Cookies

Makes 10 – 12 cookies

 

Ingredients

 

2 tbsp water

½ level tsp psyllium husk powder *

 

1 tsp vanilla

3 tbsp + 1 tsp maple syrup

1 tbsp + ½ tsp organic unsulfered blackstrap molasses

 

1/8 level tsp ground black pepper (optional)

¾ level tsp ground ginger

1 ¼ level tsp + 1/8 level tsp ground cinnamon

1 ¼ cup oat flour + 3 tbsp oat flour **

tiny pinch of sea salt

 

3 tbsp + 1 tsp melted refined coconut oil ***

 

Notes – *Psyllium husk powder gels like nothing else, and there’s no great substitute for it. I found mine in the bulk spice section of the local Fred Meyer, but Whole Foods, Trader Joes have been known to carry it as well. If it’s not in the natural foods, or bulk spice section, check the dietary supplement/ digestive health (where the Metamucil is) section of the store or pharmacy as it’s sometimes sold there as well.

** I grind oats into oat flour using a blender. Don’t grind the oats in a food processor because the flour won’t be fine enough.

Any extra oat flour I don’t use in the recipe goes into an airtight container and I use it for another recipe.

If you’re making the cookies for someone who has celiac disease, use certified gluten free oats, as the oats from the bulk bins can sometimes be processed on the same equipment as wheat.

*** I used the refined coconut oil from Trader Joes, which is filtered and not bleached. It’s the fat of coconut oil, without the flavor which works great for these cookies. You can use regular coconut oil for this recipe, but it probably will give the cookies a mild coconut flavor. Because I used the refined coconut oil, these cookies didn’t taste of coconut at all.

 

Instructions

1. In a small bowl stir together the water and psyllium husk, try to stir out all the lumps. Set aside for a few minutes and let it gel.

2. In a medium size bowl, sift the oat flour, spices and salt together.

3. Add the maple syrup, molasses and vanilla to the oat flour mixture, and stir until well combined. Add in the gelled psylium husk and stir until you no longer see any bits of the gel.

4. Add the melted refined coconut oil to the mixture and stir until well combined. It will look very sticky, but don’t worry. There’s no need to add any additional flour, the coconut oil will firm up in the fridge and the dough will sort itself out.

5. Let the dough sit in the bowl for 2-3 minutes and it should be firm enough to scoop onto some plastic wrap. Wrap it up and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

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6. Preheat your oven to 325 F. Cut the top and sides off of a gallon size Ziploc bag and open it and lay it flat to form a long rectangle.

Dip a paper towel in a little bit of neutral flavored oil (like avocado oil or vegetable oil) and oil the inside of the plastic. Don’t use the coconut oil for this, it solidifies too quickly and the dough ends up sticking to it.

7. Take the dough out of the fridge and cut it in half. Wrap the half you’re not working with in plastic wrap and set to the side.

If the dough breaks when you try to roll it out, you can knead it with your hands for a little bit so that the coconut oil in the dough melts a little from the heat in your hands. It should soften up and become easier to work with after this.

If the dough is too sticky to work with, you can add about 1 tbsp of oat flour, and knead it into the dough to combine, or put it back into the fridge to firm up for a few minutes.

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Roll out your dough between the layers of oiled plastic to 1/4 of an inch thick, re-oiling the plastic each time your re-roll out the dough.

Cut out the shapes with the cookie cutters. Use something like the flat edge of the back of a butter knife (an offset spatula would be perfect for this) and run it under the cookies to get them to release from the plastic.

If there are any little bits of the dough stuck to the plastic after you peel your cookies off, make a little ball out of your scrap dough, and drag it over the plastic and it should clean it right off.

If your finding it difficult to remove the cookies from the plastic (especially for more complex shapes like snowflakes), cut the cookie shapes out using the cookie cutters, and remove the excess cookie dough from around your cookies. Then lay the cookies that are stuck on the plastic onto a plate and stick them in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. After that, the cookies should be firm enough to peel off the plastic and set them onto the baking sheet.

I usually use my finger to press the sides of the cookies smooth, just to clean up the edges.

Place the cookies onto a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 325 for 34- 38 minutes (I baked them for 36 minutes) until just slightly darkened about the edges and firm to the touch.

For small cookies (about 1-1.5 inches in size) bake for 22-24 minutes, until slightly darker around the edges.

Allow the cookies to cool before icing.

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Enjoy!

Happy Holidays!

 

Mini Chocolate Peppermint Pies – Vegan, Gluten Free, Dairy Free Tarts

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Before I cut out gluten, dairy, and refined sugar out of my diet, one of the things that I looked forward to every Christmas was the arrival of the Ghirardelli Chocolate Peppermint Bark Squares at the local grocery stores.

How I loved those little squares… so creamy, and rich, and wonderful. I loved opening each of those little brightly colored red and white wrappers.

I loved the little crunchy bits of that swirled in amongst the smooth bright flavor of the peppermint white chocolate. They were so festive, and eating each one felt like such a treat.

 

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This year, I decided that I would come up with a recipe to get that same sort of feeling of eating a chocolate peppermint treat at Christmastime, (but one that I could eat with my dietary restrictions) so that I wouldn’t feel like I was missing out on anything.

These little tarts are vegan, and nut (without the cashew cream) / soy / and gluten free, so they will work with a variety of food sensitivities and food allergies, and would be a good dessert to bring for any holiday party.

You can make this mixture ahead of time and spoon it into the tart shells right before serving. You can eat them as is, or top them with some cashew whipped cream, or a little star made from the scraps of your pie crust for a more festive look.

Any way that you eat them, I hope that you really enjoy them this holiday season!

 

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Makes 6 tarts

(Ingredient amounts for 12 tarts listed at the end of the post)

 

Ingredients

1/2 cup roasted sweet potato puree

5 tbsp maple syrup

4 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (I used the Ghirardelli’s brand one)

1 tsp strong coffee or espresso*

6 tbsp melted coconut oil **

1/8 tsp peppermint extract (I used the McCormick brand one) ***

tiny pinch of sea salt to taste

 

Instructions

1. Melt the coconut oil, and add it along with all the other ingredients into a food processor and process until smooth.

2. Taste the mixture, and if the peppermint flavor isn’t strong enough, add another drop of peppermint extract at a time to the mixture until you’re happy with the flavor.

Peppermint extract can be very strong, and there’s a very fine line between it being perfectly minty in flavor, and way too strong.

If you accidentally add too much extract, you can add in a little more of the other ingredients to balance the flavor out again. This recipe is pretty forgiving and can take a little tweaking if need be.

If your sweet potato puree was cold from the fridge before you blended the mixture together, the coconut oil may have set before it had a chance to incorporate with the rest of the ingredients. What you can do in this case is gently heat and stir the mixture over a double boiler until it’s glossy and smooth.

For serving, if you want the mixture to be sort of soft and pudding-like, you can gently heat the mixture up again using a double boiler, just until the coconut oil melts and the mixture turns glossy, and then spoon it into the tart shells. Coconut oil melts at 76 °F, so it won’t take long to heat up. For the pictures in this post, I heated the filling using this method before dolloping the filling into the shells, which gives the tarts a beautiful finish.

I prefer the texture when the filling has been refrigerated. It’s like a cross between a fudgy peppermint chocolate frosting and a chocolate mousse. Once you spoon it into the tart shells, you can give the filling a glossy finish (it won’t have the same “dollop” look, but will still look really nice) by dipping a teaspoon into hot water, and smoothing out the tops of the tarts before topping them with cashew whipped cream, a little pie crust star, or leaving them as they are.

3. Spoon the filling into the tart shells and serve immediately.

 

I used this recipe for the tart shells. For the stars, I used the scrap dough, cut them out using a small star shaped cookie cutter and baked them on a silpat at 375 for 10-15 minutes until golden brown around the edges.

 

* I add 1 tsp ground Italian Roast Coffee to a mug with 1/4 cup of hot water, allow it to cool, cover with plastic wrap and then refrigerate this overnight. This strong coffee is good to have on hand for this recipe, but also for adding a depth of flavor to other chocolate things like hot chocolate, brownies, and even chocolate frosting.

**I used regular coconut oil, and there is the faintest hint of coconut flavor in these tarts. If you that’s not really your thing, you can used refined coconut oil instead so that you don’t get that hint of coconut flavor in the tarts.

*** I would prefer to use an organic peppermint extract, but this is just the one that I had on hand, and the flavor is good.

 

P.S. I’ll let you in on a little secret – this recipe makes enough filling for about 7 1/2 tarts, but what that means is that you can fill the 6 tart shells, and save the extra filling as a treat to eat later after all the holiday parties. When you get home, you can look forward to having a quiet moment to yourself to sit in your jammies, and eat this and fall asleep watching Christmas specials on TV. No one will ever know…

 

 

For 12 tarts

1 cup roasted sweet potato puree

10 tbsp maple syrup

8 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (I used the Ghirardelli’s brand one)

2 tsp strong coffee or espresso

12 tbsp melted coconut oil

1/4 tsp peppermint extract (I used the McCormick brand one)

tiny pinch of sea salt to taste