Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

December 17, 2014 in Desserts, Holidays

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

Cranberries and cream cheese are a match made in heaven.

You can find some gems while flipping through magazines waiting at the beauty salon. Like this cheesecake from Woman’s Day magazine, for instance.

This cheesecake looks so pretty and festive on a plate (you can skip sprinkling on the extra chocolate crumbs if you want a more pristine look), but the reason to make this cheesecake is the light, fluffy texture and the tart swirl on the top made from cranberries and raspberries cooked down and strained.

I don’t even normally like cheesecake, by the by, but this one has won my taste buds over.

It is a cinch to throw together, but will look like you’ve slaved for hours. A win-win in my book!

Happy Holly Days, food friends!

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Almond Joy to the World Coconut Custards

December 15, 2014 in Desserts

Coconut, almond and chocolate combine in a holiday homage to my culinary progenitor.

Almond Joy Coconut Milk Custards

Almond Joy Coconut Milk Custards

One of my first Donna Kelly family recipe experiences was her famous Joy to the World Balls, the homespun Christmas candy that is an annual highlight in the Kelly calendar. It was during the first Christmas we got to spend together, post-reunion, once I finally had the honor of being introduced to the rest of her (our) fabulous family. Do try making these in their original form, if you’re looking for a unique holiday confection! This year, I decided to try making the flavor combination in a custard form, using coconut milk and honey.  Consider it an homage to the original – well worth trying whether you follow dairy-free or paleo guidelines or not.  Read the rest of this entry →

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Cranberry Orange Nut Cookies Cookie Exchange and Cookies for Santa’s Milk Drive

December 3, 2014 in Desserts, Holidays, Snacks, Uncategorized

Cranberry Orange Walnut Cookies

All the Christmas flavors in one little cookie.

Let the Christmas cookie season begin!

This cookie packs so many holiday flavors into one little cookie: cranberries, orange and walnuts. They truly are packed with flavor, and so many wonderful textures.

These cookies are dairy free as well, so you can serve them up to even the vegans on your cookie list!

Christmas is the one time of year that I do actual baking, so I need recipes that are easy and no-fail, like these cookies. I promise you will not be disappointed – they are like a burst of sunshine in your mouth!

We are thrilled to be joining the Cookie Exchange put together by Liz Latham at Hoosier Homemade – please visit these food blogs for their fabulous recipes!

Christmas-Cookie-Exchange-2014-Round2

And, cookies are just so much more delicious with milk, as any kid can tell you. Did you know that milk is one of the items which food banks never get enough of during the holidays? Please consider donating to Santa’s Milk Drive this holiday season by visiting santasmilkdrive.com and donating a gallon of milk.

Santa just might put you on the “nice list” if you do!

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Happy Cookie Days, All!

– posted by Donna

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Never-Fail No-Roll Pie Crust

November 19, 2014 in Desserts

Pie crust – idiot proof edition.

Pie Crust

Never Fail, No Roll, Quick, Easy. The best pie crust recipe. Ever.

This is my favorite pie crust of all time – because it is completely fail proof. I have posted it before, but it is one of those recipes that you really must try to believe, and so I am posting it again. Even kids can help you with this because there is no rolling necessary. Just pat it into the pan and it turns out perfect every single time. Guaranteed.

I have hated making pies my entire life because of one thing: pie crust. Believe me, I have tried all of the “tricks” – which contradict each other, by the way- – – Keep the water ice-cold. Use boiling water. Don’t touch the crust with your hands. No, no – Use your hands to smear the butter into the flour. Whatever you do NEVER use a food processor. NO, no – Whatever you do ALWAYS use a food processor. Use vinegar. Use vodka. Use egg yolks. Use egg whites. Use only butter. Use only lard. Use only shortening. Use only oil. Use a combination. Freeze the fat. Freeze the bowl. Freeze the flour.

No matter what I tried, my crust never turned out. Until I discovered this crust recipe. 

I watched America’s Test Kitchen make a pie crust that looks and feels like play-dough and IS NOT rolled, but you just pat it into the pan. Yes, you read that right. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO ROLL OUT THIS CRUST!  This pie crust works because of the fat plus a little dairy keep the gluten from toughening the crust.

These days, if you come to my house for the holidays, you must eat a piece of pie. The crust will be perfectly soft, perfectly seasoned and flavorful. If you don’t believe me, come on over to my house. Or, try this crust recipe.

Either way, it will change your life. Or at least your pie making.

Happy Pie Day, everyone!

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Cinnamon Apple Cider Slush

November 6, 2014 in Dairy-Free, Desserts, Healthy Fare, Holidays

A beverage that’s both refreshing and still very much flavored by fall.

Cinnamon Apple Cider Slush

Cinnamon Apple Cider Slush

Fresh apple cider is always an autumn treat to look forward to, but I thought I’d try jazzing it up in a very simple way. This may be the perfect beverage for a Thanksgiving table – still full of classic fall flavor, but a cool, refreshing counterbalance to the hot, hearty and often rich holiday fare.

Getting to test drive a Nutri-Ninja Duo blender thanks to the team who hooked us up at IFBC this year was a total bonus. And yes, I will totally vouch for its design, ease of use and efficiency. This recipe uses 14 ice cubes, and it was rendered into delicious slush in seconds flat, thanks to the blade that spirals up the center of the pitcher.  And for extremely easy cleaning, that blade lifts right out – no having to scrape tediously around it at the bottom. But no matter what blender you have, this might be your next autumnal addiction.  Read the rest of this entry →

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Salted Caramel Fudge with Coconut Palm Sugar

October 30, 2014 in Desserts, Holidays

A decadent homemade candy for any time of year (Halloween is just the current excuse).

Salted Caramel Fudge

Salted Caramel Fudge, made with coconut palm sugar in the mix

Caramel is my kryptonite. I feel about caramel the way others describe their feelings about chocolate. I like chocolate well enough, don’t get me wrong, especially in brownie, Nutella, fudge, or chocolate chip cookie form, but I don’t love it, don’t crave it, am not overcome with a wistful thousand-year-stare at the thought of it. But caramel, oh caramel, that’s a different story. And in continuing our October family reunion anniversary theme, this particular taste appears to have been inherited from my biological dad, who wrote me in an early getting-to-know-you email, “I have a weakness for caramel.” The proverbial caramel apple didn’t fall far from that tree, did it?

Now, no one has been happier about the advent of salted caramel as a trend, and I’ll remain devoted to the form long after various food culture lists declare it Over (which may have happened already, for all I know). The best thing about salted caramel is that it tends to be offered all on its own, rather than in combination with chocolate, which, to me, completely ruins both components. Alas, many “caramel fudge” recipes I’ve encountered really mean regular chocolate fudge WITH caramel, not a fudgy version of caramel all on its pure, glorious, buttery own.

So I set about to make a caramel confection that would stand all on its own, and if I could reduce the refined sugar in the recipe a bit with the help of Wholesome Sweetener’s coconut palm sugar, all the better. (I also used their organic brown sugar and natural cane sugar.) Read the rest of this entry →

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Raspberry Lemon Cheesecakes: An Homage to a Blue Ribbon Original

October 23, 2014 in Dairy-Free, Desserts, Vegan Recipes

Raw Raspberry Lemon Cheesecakes, and a moment of gratitude for the cheesecake recipe that started it all for Donna and Anne.

Raspberry Lemon Cheesecake

Raspberry Lemon Cheesecakes: vegan, raw and no refined sugar either.

The first page in my battered and spattered recipe binder is a printout of an email sent to me fifteen years ago, kept safe from the ravages of my cooking habits by a plastic sleeve.

“Hey, we wouldn’t be a family unless we exchanged recipes now and then, would we? So, here’s the cheesecake recipe I was telling you about. It’s pretty good, and I have the ribbon to prove it (somewhere in my attic, okay, trust me!). I have changed the recipe a lot over the years to improve it, and so I feel justified in giving it my name!”

The days are long, the years are short, as the parenting saying goes. It’s hard to believe that it’s been fifteen years since Donna and I first reunited, but the calendars don’t lie – it was in October of 1999 that I was lucky enough to have a reunion that many adopted children only daydream about. After months of anticipatory email, we met face to face in the San Diego airport, only two years before routinely meeting people at the gate would become a thing of the past. My stomach felt positively carbonated as she emerged from the runway. I watched her looking around for just a moment, searching, and then our eyes met and the moment truly arrived. The mother and child reunion really was only a motion away.

Since that first whirlwind San Diego weekend, we have had one adventure after another, slowly integrating each other into our lives, getting to know each other through out Hotmail accounts, introducing one another to our friends and families, traveling together, sharing holidays, and yes, cooking and eating and cooking some more, making up for at least a little of our lost time. Discovering that we had this passion in common was a revelation; in fact, we inspired each other to delve more deeply into culinary creativity than we ever had individually.  Our collaborations eventually moved on to cookbooks, CIA Boot Camp, and finally this very blog – yet I still look forward to the visits where we whip up a feast for our loved ones, just for the sheer joy of it.

When I made that emailed Blue Ribbon Cheesecake for the first time, I felt as though I was tapping into a tangible part of my own ancestral history, but even beyond that, it was like being able to have a hazy glimpse into an alternate universe where my mom (not my birthmom, but simply my mom) taught me to make it herself, in our kitchen, me licking the beaters, all the clichés that go with halcyon kitchen memories. What would that have been like? But despite occasionally wondering about that universe, I’m deeply grateful to have what we have now.

In honor of the recipe that started it all, I made a “daughter” version of her “mother” recipe, using raw ingredients to make an adaptation that lines up with the way I eat most of the time now, having undergone some valuable dietary changes over the last decade. I already love experimenting with raw/vegan/paleo desserts, but if you’ve never given them a shot, they’re well worth it and, as you can see, really quite simple.

Happy Reunion Anniversary to my first mom. May we spend many, MANY more hours in the kitchen together!

Love and eternal gratitude,

Anne

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Low Sugar Baked Apples with Coconut Pecan Stuffing

September 29, 2014 in Desserts, Healthy Fare

Baked Apples just scream out “Fall is here!”

Baked Apples

Low Sugar Baked Apples

I make baked apples every fall for two reasons: (1) they are soft and velvety and comforting and (2) they make my whole house smell delicious!

This version of Baked Apples (and, Yes, I do make a different version every time I make them, depending on my mood) has no added sugar except what is in the sweetened coconut. The sweetness level was just perfect in them, and so I plan on making these again and again this fall. Especially when my neighbors drop off excess apples on our doorstep.

When the air turns crisp and cool, I become a bit nostalgic. I grew up in southern Arizona, so fall leaves were a rarity for us kids. But, there was one place we could always find them: my great grandma’s house! We would load up in the station wagon and drive the 3 hours to her house. There was, of course some unpleasantness, as is expected when you load six siblings into a station wagon. ((Mom, she’s touching me! Mom, he’s looking at me! )) But, it was always worth the trip. You see, my grandma had about a dozen huge pecan trees in her back yard that made a crispy brown leaf ocean from fence to fence. We would rake them up into piles and then the fun would begin. We would jump into them over and over again, howling with laughter. Sort of an Old School ball pool, for you youngsters who can’t envision this scene. And then we would gather up all the leaves and hunt for the pecans. If there were pecans left on the trees, we would shake the trees until they fell off.

I used Braeburn apples for this recipe, which have the perfect sweetness and hold together well while cooking. If you want sweet baking apples, you could also use Jonagold or McIntosh.

Fall is here, y’all – so let’s embrace it! Find a pile of brown crispy leaves to fall over backwards into! Bust out the cardigans! Cook some stews and bake some apples!

– posted by Donna

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Strawberry Balsamic No-Churn Ice Cream

September 5, 2014 in Desserts

No churning necessary for this beloved flavor pairing in ice cream form.

Strawberry Balsamic No-Churn Gelato

Strawberry Balsamic No-Churn Ice Cream-slash-Gelato

Though I’m lucky to have an ice cream churn attachment, I still love to make this Grapefruit Gelato of ours from time to time; it’s especially great to bust out as a houseguest offering a treat to underapplianced hosts. Since the magic has to do with the way the acidity in the grapefruit juice (or lemon or lime) reacts with the fat in the cream, I decided to experiment with another sweet + acidity combination: strawberries and balsamic vinegar. If citrus juices produced the desired effect, then surely vinegar would as well.

Behold! No-Churn Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream (or Gelato, as the texture reminds us a bit of that). I’m dying to try this with coconut milk sometime, too.  Read the rest of this entry →

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Blueberry Cheesecake Smoothie

August 7, 2014 in Breakfast, Dairy-Free, Desserts, Vegan Recipes

Cheesecake for Breakfast? With this creamy vegan blueberry smoothie, YES.

Blueberry Cheesecake Smoothie

Blueberry Cheesecake Smoothie

As Donna is an intrepid go-getter who’s always on the move, I’ve never gotten the honor of helping take care of my inspirational blog partner and mentor before. But I recently had the opportunity to help out just a little last month, when she was in need of a non-chewing diet for a thankfully short spell. In my ensuing exploration of the latest in smoothies, from green to protein and everything in between, I encountered this great collection by The Blender Girl.   I only had a few days to fill Donna’s freezer with smoothie-stock (frozen into ice cube trays then cubes stored in ziploc bags) and gazpacho, but I’ll happily come back for another round of TLC someday.

Of all the fantastic, ridiculously healthy recipes in Blender Girl’s book, my personal favorite was the luscious Raspberry Lemon Cheesecake. The innovation, used here and in several other smoothies, is using soaked raw cashews for the creamy texture. Brilliant! I’ve made it for myself at several times since getting back hope, and experimented with variations, my favorite of which is the blueberry version here (in no small part thanks to it being berry-picking-with-kiddos-season in Portland). As with any smoothie, add probiotics, flax, or any other supplements you like.  Read the rest of this entry →

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