Sugar Cookies & Salted Vanilla Icing

Sugar Cookies & Salted Vanilla Icing
makes about 3 dozen cookies

cookie dough -1 cup cashew meal
-1/2 cup coconut flour
-1/4 teaspoon baking soda
-1/4 teaspoon sea salt
-1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
-1/4 cup maple syrup
-2 teaspoons pure vanilla

-1 Tablespoon coconut oil, melted
-1 Tablespoon coconut milk
-1 teaspoon pure vanilla
-1/4 teaspoon sea salt
-1/2 cup powdered sugar

for cookie dough 1. Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, combine wet ingredients well. Add wet mixture to dry mixture and stir well until dough forms.
2. Roll cookie dough between two sheets of parchment paper to about 1/8-1/4" thick. Freeze 20-30 minutes. While it's freezing, preheat oven to 350F and line baking sheet(s) with parchment paper or non-stick liner.
3. Remove from freezer and peel off top layer of parchment paper. Cut out using cookie cutter. Gently transfer shapes to prepared baking sheet.
4. Bake in preheated oven 5-8 minutes, or until edges begin turning golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool at least 30 minutes before icing.
for icing
1. Combine all ingredients until thoroughly incorporated. To thicken, add more powdered sugar one tablespoon at a time; to thin, add more milk one teaspoon at a time.
to frost
1. Once cookies are completely cooled, frost with icing.

adapted from this recipe by Fit Foodie Finds
optional substitutions...
-cashew meal: almond meal
-maple syrup: coconut nectar, honey
-coconut milk: milk of choice

Mangia! Mangia!

Chocolate Mint Fudge

My sister's wedding is going down next year. It's going to be quite the bash.
Anyhow, I spent the weekend by her side for a day trip down to the fabric district in LA to meet up with an old friend she went to school with, and to bring home our weight in fabric. From waking up in the wee hours of the morning to catch a plane, to catching up with an old friend, to negotiating with one too many stubborn and passionate salesmen, and to our late night reflection on the priceless day with one of the greatest flight attendants I have ever had the pleasure of being hosted by, the day was certainly one for the books.

The following day, we visited the city by the bay to pick up her wedding band-a custom designed piece created by an ethically responsible company. On our way out, we did a bit more Christmas shopping before heading home to a warm fire and hot soup.

Along with raging fireplaces on chilly days, warm spices, and fresh baked goods, mint is one of my favorite flavors this time of year.
One of my favorite desserts used to be a mint chocolate fudge that my mom would make during the holidays. After a few years without it, I sprung a craving for the flavor and found this quick and easy recipe for a healthier version of the dessert. Needless to say, it did the trick.

Chocolate Mint Fudge
makes one 8x8" pan

-1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
-1/3 cup coconut oil
-1/3 cup cocoa or cacao powder
-1/4 cup pure maple syrup
-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
-1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
-pinch sea salt

1. Line 8x8" pan with parchment paper or lightly grease.
2. Process all ingredients in food processor until smooth.
3. Pour into prepared pan and chill in refrigerator at least a couple of hours.

store in refrigerator
adapted from this recipe by Oatmeal with a Fork
optional substitutions...
-maple syrup: sweetener of choice

Mangia! Mangia!

Creamy Spiced Eggnog

 I hope your Thanksgiving was a great one, gathering to express thanks for good company, to create good times, and to enjoy good food.

 This year we gathered to celebrate at my childhood home with close family, a couple of new friends, and more family toward the end of the day.
 Over the roasted delicata squash, mounds of stuffing, and decadent sweet potato soufflĂ©, we learned a great deal about my sister's new co-workers who recently moved to California. While my appetite for a great deal of delicious food was satisfied, the stories of their visits around the world grew my appetite and craving for travel.

 The day wore on and pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and caramel apple pie were served. We had a short visit from local family then enjoyed a little more coffee before the evening began winding down. 
 After the day of food prep in the kitchen, a feast enjoyed with good company and new friends, and shared stories over dessert, we slept better than ever.

  The following day, we began decorating my childhood home with holiday decor-a tradition that we carry on every year. Part of that tradition is to enjoy a cold glass of eggnog with a touch of rum or brandy while we decorate.

 This year I came across a delicious recipe for raw vegan eggnog from This Rawsome Vegan Life and had to make it for our traditional drink. It had the creamiest texture and carried notes of the warm fall spices cinnamon and nutmeg, and the soft, sweet flavor of vanilla.
 This recipe redefined the favorite holiday drink by being raw, vegan, dairy free, gluten free, egg free, and soy free. Containing only nuts, water, dates, vanilla, and spices, this raw vegan eggnog has no fillers, thickeners, artificial flavors, preservatives or other mysterious ingredients.
 Made with the simplest of ingredients, a creamy glass of this nog tasted delicious with my morning coffee as well.
 Best enjoyed by a warm fire, listening to holiday tunes, and surrounded by good company.

Creamy Spiced Eggnog
serves 4-6

-1 cup pecans
-1 cup large dates, pitted
-4-5 cups water
-1 1/2 Tablespoons vanilla
-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-3/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1. Blend all ingredients together in high speed blender until smooth and creamy. Serve and enjoy.

store in refrigerator
adapted from this recipe "raw egg nog for the holidays" by This Rawsome Vegan Life
for a warm holiday drink, blend up with warm water
if too thin, add more pecans or dates and blend
if too thick, add more water and blend
change the spice quantities to taste
the softer and juicier the dates, the better
tastes delicious with coffee, also with cookies

Mangia! Mangia!

Bourbon Pumpkin Brownie Fudge

 Already, this autumn season has been a fantastic reminder of how much greater life is if you choose to stop and look around, take in each moment and live in the present, spend as much time as possible around those who's company you enjoy, and do what makes you most happy.

 We have had the privilege of getting to visit with old and new company, share in the joy of new life and the celebrating of another year gone by. Being close enough to good family and friends that spontaneous visits are possible with little planning, and being surrounded with company that only lifts us higher.

 In addition, as I mentioned in previous posts about hand letter writing with new penpals and being part of communities of talented and inspiring creatives, inspiration has been ever-present, especially with the holidays around the corner!

 That said, these fudgy brownies, or brownie fudge squares-or whatever you choose to call them once you try their irresistible texture-are full of rich chocolate flavor with undertones of toasty Bourbon, festive pumpkin, and notes of warm spices.

 A spirited dessert to offer up to family and friends as we gather to celebrate the beginning of the holiday season...

Bourbon Pumpkin Brownie Fudge
makes one 8x8" pan

-2 Tablespoons ground flax
-1/2 cup pumpkin puree
-1 can black beans, thoroughly rinsed and drained
-1/4 cup coconut oil
-1/2 cup coconut sugar
-1/3 cup cocoa or cacao powder
-1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
-1 teaspoon cinnamon
-1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
-1/4 teaspoon sea salt
-1 Tablespoon pure vanilla
-3 Tablespoons Bourbon
-1/2 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350F an line 8x8 pan with parchment paper.
2. Combine ground flax and pumpkin, set aside to thicken.
3. Process black beans, coconut oil, coconut sugar, and flax/pumpkin mixture in food processor. Process until completely smooth. 
4. Add cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, vanilla, and Bourbon, process until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into prepared pan.
5. Bake in preheated oven 45-50 minutes or until set. They will be very doughy in the middle, you can place them in the refrigerator to firm up a bit or let them sit at room temperature to cool before cutting into them.

You may sprinkle cinnamon and nutmeg on top once cool for garnish and for additional spice.
They taste marvelous topped with vanilla bean ice cream.
optional substitutions...
-pumpkin puree: butternut squash puree, applesauce
-coconut oil: coconut butter
-coconut sugar: white or brown sugar
-Bourbon: other whiskey or substitute milk of choice (you can use part Bourbon and part milk if you want a more mild Bourbon flavor)
For a basic chocolate black bean brownie: Black Bean Brownies

Mangia! Mangia!