Tasty Thanksgiving Recipes

Uffda… it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted here. The job hunt and activist causes have kept me quite busy, and I’ve been suffering from a severe lack of inspiration and motivation. Thanksgiving dinner served as the perfect excuse to look up some recipes and write a blog post.

I’ll admit that I’m a huge fan of the canned cranberry sauce that’s everywhere in the grocery stores this time of year. I grew up eating the stuff, and I still love it. This year I wanted to try something a little more… sophisticated (and less corn syrup-y) so I decided to make my own cranberry sauce.

Spiced Cranberry Sauce

cranberry sauce 3

*This tastes even better the next day, so keep that in mind when deciding when to start cooking.

Ingredients

  • 1 12-ounce bag of cranberries, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2- to 3-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 tsp + 1/8 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped candied ginger
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan, mix together the cranberries, honey, brown sugar, cinnamon stick, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, and 3/4 cup water.  Bring the mixture to a simmer, cover, and allow to simmer on medium-low heat for 7 to 8 minutes. The cranberries will start to pop during this time and the mixture will thicken a bit.
  2. Add the orange zest, chopped candied ginger, and orange juice and stir to combine. Simmer uncovered for an 1 to 2 more minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and fish out the cinnamon stick. Add additional sweetener as desired.

Source: Adapted from the kitchn

Sticking with the theme of “less processed foods are tastier,” I decided to make homemade rolls as well.

Oatmeal Molasses Rolls

Biscuits

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk 
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats (plus more for sprinkling on top of rolls, if desired)
  • 1/2 cup butter cut into cubes
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 2 tsp salt
  • egg
  • 2 1/2-3 cups flour (unbleached all-purpose or bread flour)
  • 2-3 tablespoons melted butter for brushing tops of rolls

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup lukewarm water with a pinch of sugar. Let stand until it gets foamy. If it doesn’t get foamy you’ll need to try again with another packet of yeast.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk to the point just before it boils (this is called scalding the milk, but that’s not a super helpful term). It should be foamy around the edges and have wisps of steam coming off of it. Remove the milk from the heat and add it to the cubed butter in a mixing bowl. Stir to melt the butter, then add the brown sugar, rolled oats, molasses, and salt. Mix well and let the mixture cool to lukewarm.
  3. Add the egg and mix well. Add the yeast and mix to incorporate it. Mix in 2 ½ cups of the flour, then add as much of the remaining 1/2 cup of flour as you need for the dough to lose its sheen. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Scrape the dough into a greased bowl. Turn to coat, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for a minimum of two hours.
  5. Knead the chilled dough slightly. You can do this in the bowl or on a floured surface. Break the dough up into 12 balls. Press each ball into a flat-ish rectangle, then roll it up and tuck the ends under. Place the rolls seam-side down in a greased 9-inch pan. I used a square pan and it worked fine. Brush all over with melted butter and sprinkle with some rolled oats. Let the rolls rise in a warm place until they’re about double in size.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the rolls are brown and sound hollow when you tap them. The internal temperature should be right around 190 degrees. Remove the rolls from the oven and let cool slightly before eating.

Source: Adapted from Food 52.

And finally, Thanksgiving just isn’t complete (in my mind) without pie. This one’s a dairy-free pumpkin pie, and it’s pretty darn good.

Pumpkin Pie

pumpkin pie 1

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 tbsp almond milk

Filling

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1.4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1 /4 cups almond milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat an oven to 425° F.
  2. In a medium size bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, and salt. Make a well in the middle and pour the oil and almond milk into the well. Mix until a dough forms, then press the dough into a 9-inch pie pan. Crimp the edges if desired.
  3. Mix the white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves together in a large bowl; set aside. In another bowl whisk together the pumpkin puree, oil, eggs, vanilla, and almond milk. Add the pumpkin mixture to the sugar mixture mix well. Pour into the prepared crust and place on a cookie sheet in the preheated oven. You may have some filling left, I used mine to make muffins.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes at 425° F. Reduce temperature to 350° F and bake for 75 to 85 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. I checked for doneness every ten minutes or so after the 60 minute mark. The center may be a bit soft but will firm up later, especially if you refrigerate the pie.

The crust was a little too thick and a bit dry, but the filling was absolutely delicious.

Source: Adapted from AllRecipes

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Mustikkakeitto (Finnish Blueberry Soup)

I’ve written briefly about fruit soup before – and even attempted to make the Scandanavian kind a few years ago (not so good), but the recipes from last Thursday’s “Eat” section inspired me to give it another shot. Given the large volume of frozen blueberries currently residing in our freezer, this seemed like a good choice.

Mustikkakeitto (Finnish Blueberry Soup)

Blueberry Soup

Ingredients

  • 4 cups blueberries
  • 3/4 cup sugar (I used leftover lemon sugar from another recipe)
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp corn starch

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan, combine blueberries with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10-12 minutes or until you notice the berries start to pop.
  2. Strain the berries over a large bowl, pressing the berries with a spoon to get all the juice out. I put about 1/4 cup of the pressed berries into the bowl with the juice, and used the rest to make a fruit smoothie.
  3. Pour the juice back into the saucepan. Add the sugar, cinnamon, lemon zest, and lemon juice and bring to a boil.
  4. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with 2 tbsp of water. Add to the pan and cook the mixture for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until the soup starts to thicken. Remove the cinnamon and discard.

I’ve seen recipes serve this soup with a sprinkle of sea salt on top and some whipped cream, or a bit of plain yogurt and granola.

Source: Adapted from recipe printed in the Pioneer Press, February 13, 2014

Triple Ginger Cookies with Lemon Icing

The weather here in Minnesota has been really cold/snowy/windy on and off since the beginning of the year (and we’ve had multiple days of school cancelled because of it). Today is one of those cold/snowy/windy days, and I wasn’t too thrilled by the idea of venturing out to the grocery store to pick up a few items for the recipe I had in mind. So, I scoured the pantry cabinet for things I needed to use up – and came upon some crystallized ginger from the sugarplums I made last December.

Triple Ginger Cookies with Lemon Icing

Triple Ginger Cookies 2

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup shortening (I used Earth Balance)
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 cup crystallized ginger, chopped
  • Icing: powdered sugar and lemon juice

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, brown sugar, and salt.
  • In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the sugar and shortening until fluffy. Mix in the honey, egg, and fresh ginger. Add the crystallized ginger and the dry ingredients and combine well.
  • Roll the mixture into about 1-inch balls and place on the parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake for 15 to 17  minutes until they start to brown and crack on the top.
  • Remove the cookies from the pan to cool on wire cooling racks. Meanwhile, mix together powdered sugar and lemon juice until you have the consistency and flavor you like for the icing. Once the cookies have cooled, drizzle them with icing and let sit until the icing has firmed up.

Note: I was a bit short on the 1/4 cup of crystallized ginger, so I added a little bit more fresh ginger. These cookies are pretty light on the ginger flavor – I like A LOT of ginger and will likely add more crystallized next time, but that hasn’t stopped me from eating three of them already today. ; )

Source: Adapted from Bon Appetit

Visions of Sugarplums (and Other Tasty Things) Danced in Their Heads

The holiday season is a great time to try out new recipes – many of us have some time off from work and are surrounded by family members and/or friends on which to test new creations. I’d been on the lookout for holiday recipes for a few weeks and found three that sounded great. These are all dairy-free recipes, the sugarplums are vegan and the thumbprint cookies can be made vegan if you sub something in for the honey (the original recipe used maple syrup, which I didn’t have on hand).

Sugarplums

Note: The sugarplums mentioned in the classic poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (aka “Twas the Night Before Christmas”) are very different from this more modern recipe.

Sugarplum single

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (50 grams) pecans
  • 1/2 cup (50 grams) walnuts
  • 1/2 cup (80 grams) pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup (90 grams) dried figs
  • 1/2 cup (80 grams) dried cranberries and/or dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup (80 grams) dried apricots, coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp candied ginger, coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp grated orange zest
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice

Topping: granulated sugar and candied ginger

Instructions

  1. Place the pecans and walnuts in a dry skillet and heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant. Set aside to cool.
  2. In food processor process dates, figs, cranberries/cherries, apricots, ginger, orange zest, and cooled nuts until minced. Add enough orange juice to make it all stick together.
  3. In a smaller grinder, combine sugar and candied ginger and process until uniform in size. Transfer to a small bowl and roll sugarplums in mixture before placing on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
  4. Allow the sugarplums to sit until they’re no longer sticky.

These sugarplums were a bit too tart/orange-y for me; in the future I will probably leave out the candied ginger and some of the orange zest.

Source: Slightly adapted from recipe printed in St. Paul Pioneer Press, December 12, 2013

Thumbprint Cookies

Cookies 2

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole walnuts (or other nut of your choice)
  • 4 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, divided
  • 1 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup honey
  • Jams, fruit butters, etc for filling

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor or blender, pulse the nuts until they are whatever size you prefer. I like the nuts in these cookies minced – I like the nutty taste but don’t want to be chewing large chunks of nut. Transfer the nuts into a large bowl.
  3. Using food processor/blender, grind the oats with the salt into a coarse meal. Transfer the oats to the bowl with the nuts, then add 1 1/4 cup of flour, reserving the remaining 1/4 cup.
  4. Pour the oil into the bowl, then add the honey. Mix with a wooden spoon until combined.
  5. Form the dough into balls about the size of a whole walnut and place on the baking sheet.
  6. Using a small measuring spoon or your thumb, make an indentation in the middle of each ball and fill with jam, fruit butter, etc. I like to taste a bit of the filling with each bite of the cookie, so I fill them accordingly.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the cookies begin to brown. Remove from the oven and let cool on pan for a few minutes. Move to wire racks to cool completely.

Source: Adapted from The Kitchn

Dairy-Free Eggnog

Eggnog 1

Ingredients

  • 1 can (14 oz.) light coconut milk
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup sweetener (your choice)
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice
  • freshly grated nutmeg to taste (and more for on top)

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the coconut and almond milk to about 160°F. I used a meat thermometer to gauge the temperature because that’s what I had on hand.
  2. While milk is heating to desired temperature, whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl until they’re light yellow. Once milk temperature has reached 160°F, pour 1 cup of the milk into egg yolks while continuing to whisk.
  3. Once the milk and eggs are fully incorporated, add the mixture back into the saucepan and whisk to combine. Chill for 1 or 2 hours. I chilled the mixture in a metal mixing bowl in my garage for about an hour.
  4. When mixture is cool, pour into a blender and add the vanilla, spices and sweetener. Blend well. Grate a bit of fresh nutmeg on top and enjoy.

You can add more egg yolks to this if you like a stronger egg-y flavor. You can also add your choice of alcohol to the nog if you’re in the mood for an adult beverage.

Need to use up leftover egg whites? Use them in a variety of recipes or freeze them for later use.

Source: Slightly adapted from Indian Country Today Media Network

Banana Cookies

Last week I had some cilantro to use up, and made a tasty pesto. This week, I had some overripe bananas chillin’ in the freezer and wanted to make something other than banana bread. Yea, these banana cookies are kind of banana bread in cookie form, but I think the more subtle banana flavor and spices make them even better.

Banana Cookies

Banana cookies

Makes about 30 cookies.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 to 2 1/2 large bananas, mashed
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups minus 4 tbsp white whole wheat flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 cup walnuts (chop ’em up if you like)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream Earth Balance and sugar. Add the egg and beat until fluffy.
  3. In another bowl, mix the bananas and baking soda. Let sit for about 2 minutes.
  4. Mix the banana mixture into the Earth Balance/sugar mixture.
  5. Mix flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Add to banana mixture and mix until just combined.
  6. Fold the walnuts into the batter.
  7. Drop spoonfuls of batter onto baking sheet, and bake for 11 to 13 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool briefly on wire racks.

These cookies are good with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt.

I’m headed out of town on Thursday evening to attend the 2013 National NOW conference in Chicago. Enjoy your Fourth of July holiday and weekend!

Source: Adapted from SimplyRecipes.

Rhubarb Recipes

I have an awesome feminist friend who lives up on a farm in Sandstone, Minnesota. I went to visit her last weekend and returned home with a bag full of rhubarb. I haven’t made anything with rhubarb in it for quite some time, so I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of taste, but all three of the recipes I found turned out great.

Rhubarb Crumble

IMGP2602

Makes 4 to 6 servings Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour (see note)
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 6 to 7 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 pound rhubarb (about 3 cups), cut into 3/4 inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • zest of half an orange
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Note: I used white whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour in this recipe, which required me to use less than the 1 1/4 cups. Check the flour bag for substitution advice or go here. Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup (minus two tablespoons) whole wheat flour, light brown sugar, oats and the oil. Mix with your hands until the dough stays together in clumps when squished in your hand.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. In another medium bowl, combine the rhubarb with granulated sugar, 1/4 cup flour (minus 1 1/2 teaspoons), orange zest and cinnamon. The mixture won’t really stay together that well, but do the best you can to get it all mixed up. Transfer the rhubarb mixture to an oven proof baking dish and cover with the chilled oat mixture.
  3. Bake for 35 minutes, or until oat mixture is golden and rhubarb is bubbly. If sides are browning but top is not, place under broiler for a bit, but watch carefully so as not to over-brown. Let cool briefly; serve while still warm.

Source: Adapted from Orangette.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Bars

rhibarb bars 2

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour (or sub in a bit more all-purpose flour)
  • 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp vegetable  oil
  • 2 tbsp Earth Balance, softened

Filling

  • 2 cups coarsely chopped strawberries, fresh or frozen, plus more for garnish, if desired
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped rhubarb
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tbsp lemon or lime juice
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • confectioner’s sugar for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9″ by 9″ baking pan with tin foil and coat foil with cooking spray.
  2. Prepare the crust: In medium bowl, combine flour, confectioner’s sugar, cornstarch, and 1/4 tsp salt. Add the oil and butter and blend into mixture using your fingertips. Mixture will be a bit crumbly, but do your best to firmly press it into the baking pan. I found using my thumbs and knuckles worked well. Place in the oven and bake until the edges just start to brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Prepare filling: In a medium saucepan combine the strawberries, rhubarb, and water. Cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until the fruit is soft and a good amount of juice is produced. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a measuring cup; I put my measuring cup in a bowl to catch the overflow. You’ll need 1 cup of strained juice in total. Once you have one cup of juice, add the lemon/lime juice and stir.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, cornstarch, and 1/8 tsp salt. Add the eggs and whisk until combined. Stir in the fruit juice mixture. Pour the filling over the crust.
  5. Place the pan in the oven, being careful not to spill any juice. Bake until just set, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool on wire cooling rack for about 1 1/2 hours. I left the bars in the pan after they cooled, and cut them carefully so as not to harm the nonstick pan I baked them in, but you can lift the bars out of the pan using the foil if you’d like. Garnish with powdered sugar and a bit of strawberry just before serving.

Source: Slightly adapted from Eating Well.

Rhubarb Iced Tea

Rhubarb Tea

Ingredients

  • 8 stalks rhubarb, cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 8 cups water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • fresh mint or basil for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan, combine rhubarb and water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 hour.
  2. Strain the liquid, add sugar (more or less, to taste), and stir to dissolve. Allow the tea to cool and serve over ice, with garnish, if desired.

Note: When finished I had about two and a half cups of tea. In the future I will likely double or triple the recipe, or may keep the cover on the pot so less of the moisture evaporates.

Source: Slightly adapted from MarthaStewart.com

I’m Nuts About Almonds!

I’ve been maintaining a (mostly) dairy-free diet for a number of months now. I’m eating some yogurt, and the occasional dairy ingredient in something I eat outside of my home, but that’s pretty much it. I do like milk, and need the calcium, so I’ve tried to keep some sort of milk in my diet, trying lactose-free, almond, almond/coconut, soy, and flax. Nothing tastes quite like regular milk, but I’ve come to appreciate other qualities, like the awesome taste of almond milk with chocolate syrup – much richer tasting than regular milk because of the nutty almond flavor. I saw this recipe in Thursday’s Pioneer Press “Eat” section and decided to give it a shot, with adaptations to fit ingredient availability and the like

Homemade Almond Milk

Yield: 4 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups raw almonds
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of  ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Place the almonds in a large bowl and add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Soak the almonds for 8 to 12 hours.
  2. After the almonds are good and soaked, bring a kettle of of water to boil.
  3. Drain the almonds and transfer to a food processor or blender. Add 1 cup of room temperature water to the almonds, and process for 1 or 2 minutes, until you have a thick paste. You can add a bit more water if the mixture seems really dry or isn’t moving around in the processor/blender very well.
  4. Transfer the almond paste to a medium bowl and add 2 cups of boiling water. Let steep for 10 minutes.
  5.  Working in batches, ladle almond milk  into a medium- to fine-mesh metal strainer over a bowl. I HIGHLY recommend lining whatever strainer you use with a few layers of cheesecloth, because I found that using only a strainer resulted in bits of almond in my milk. You can use the back of a spoon to press out most of the liquid, then gather up the cheesecloth and squeeze out whatever is left. If you’re going to be making your own nut/seed milks on a regular basis, it’s probably worth investing in a sprouting bag (here’s a recipe that uses a sprouting bag, complete with pictures).
  6. Add vanilla, honey, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Whisk to combine thoroughly. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. Other suggestions I’ve seen: a vanilla bean instead of the vanilla, dates…
  7. Store milk in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days, stirring or shaking before each use. Store ground almonds in refrigerator or freezer for future use. I used some of the ground almonds in the recipe below.

Note: At the end I had a bit more than 2 cups of almond milk.
 

Almond Crescents 

Almond Crescents


Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup Earth Balance (vegan buttery goodness), softened slightly
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 cup ground almonds

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Using an electric mixer (handheld or standing will work), beat the Earth Balance, gradually adding sugar until everything is light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla and almond extracts and mix for one more minute.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the flour and ground almonds. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix until combined.
  4. Spoon about one tablespoon of dough onto a baking sheet. Shape into a log and bend into crescent shape. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.
  5. Cool slightly;  roll in confectioner’s sugar while still warm.

Source: Recipe adapted from Cooks.com