slow cooker basil marinara

slow cooker marinara

While an anti inflammatory diet gives tomatoes the side eye, they are one of my favorites and sometimes I feel like indulging. I know – indulging? Yes. When you like marinara and the many foods that like to swim in it, this is a form of indulgence.

Don’t even get me started on summertime, when my garden has the most amazing fresh roma tomatoes. I can often be found standing in my yard, eating a tomato like an apple. Garden fresh is always the best, and …

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basil cardamom apple brown betty

basil cardamom apple brown betty

I am once again partnering with Cooking Light and The Chew, working with recipes from the show. This time I chose a dessert from Mario Batali, and I was asked to recreate the recipe and make it my own.

Make it my own is exactly what I did.

basil cardamom apple brown betty

Using my favorite herb and spice (basil and cardamom), I made a savory biscuit that pairs well with sweet fruit. I bet adding a cheddar to those biscuits would be. even. better.

Batali’s recipe called for a very simple apple mixture. I made my apples caramely with some dates and butter. Divine.

I also switched the order of baking the biscuit pieces then tossing in melted butter – I tossed them with melted butter before I baked them. Double divine.

basil cardamom apple brown betty

basil cardamom apple brown betty

adapted from Mario Batali’s Apple Brown Betty

dairy, egg, soy, and gluten free, vegan

makes four 8 ounce ramekins

4 basil cardamom biscuits (recipe follows)
2 tablespoons butter (dairy + soy free margarine), melted
6 Medool dates, pitted
juice of 2 lemons
1 tablespoon butter (dairy + soy free margarine)
1-2 tablespoons water as needed
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
4 large apples, cored and chopped

Melt 2 tablespoons butter. Cut biscuits into bite size pieces, toss with melted butter. Arrange in single layer on prepared (parchment / silpat) baking sheet, bake at 300 for 10-12 minutes, turning after 6.

In saucepan over medium heat, combine pitted Medjool dates with lemon juice and butter. As the dates warm, continually stir and mash into a paste, adding water by the tablespoon as needed until a smooth paste forms. Reduce heat to low, add cardamom and chopped apples, stirring to coat. 

Arrange layer of toasted biscuit pieces in bottom of ramekins. Top with Medjool apple mixture, repeat with another layer of biscuit, another layer of apple, until ramekins are full (ending with pieces of biscuit on top). Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, until top is crunchy and apple caramel is bubbly.

Serve warm with ice cream.

basil cardamom biscuits

dairy, egg, soy, and gluten free, vegan

2 1/2 cups gluten free all purpose flour, plus 1/3 cup more for kneading
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
pinch sea salt
1/4 cup cold butter (dairy and soy free)
handful fresh basil, chopped fine
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon milk (coconut in carton) 

Sift together flour, baking powder, cardamom, xanthan gum and salt. Using a pastry cutter (or fork), cut butter and basil into dry ingredients, combine until crumbly. Add milk 2 tablespoons at a time until dough comes together. On floured surface with floured hands, knead dough several minutes, until no longer sticky. 

With floured rolling pin, roll dough to 3/4 inch thickness. Using a biscuit cutter (or drinking glass), cut biscuit and place on prepared (parchment / silpat) baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough. Bake at 400 degrees for 12- 15 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through.

basil cardamom apple brown betty

Buttery salty sweet comfort food.


apricot havarti puffs

Sweet and savory, sweet and salty, sweet and spicy.


Pillowy doughy… sweet.

It really is the most wonderful time of the year.

Those two up there were my taste testers.

The rest magically stayed intact. You need a couple taste testers, right?

You need to eat melty cheese every day now and then.

You all know I love my vegan havarti cheese. Not only is it a deliciously flavored havarti – it is a jalapeno garlic havarti. Such a great creamy savory flavor with a slight spicy kick, and it pairs perfectly with the sweet tart apricot.

These are the easiest thing to fling together 20 minutes before guests are set to arrive – ready to take out of the oven right as they walk in the door.

apricot havarti puffs

inspired by apricot blue cheese angels

dairy and egg free, vegan

makes 16 puffs

1 package vegan puff pastry / pastry dough
1/3 cup apricot preserves (about 1 teaspoon each puff)
2-3 ounces vegan havarti cheese 

Roll out pastry sheet, cut into squares (approximately 2-3 inch square). Slice havarti into one inch pieces. Spoon preserves into middle of square, top with havarti, fold all corners of dough into middle, pinching to close. Place in mini tart molds or directly onto parchment lined baking sheet, pinched edges down. Bake in 350 degree oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown. 

Three ingredients, couldn’t be easier or taste more decadent.



Chocolate Bourbon Caramel Truffles


Chocolate Bourbon Caramel Truffles – a rich and impressive dessert that is easy and quick to make – perfect for any party spread!

Chocolate Bourbon Caramel Truffles

This weekend we saw the movie Lincoln. It was fantastic, even if it was a good fifty minutes over my ideal movie time.

I am kind of a history nerd.

Back in high school AP U.S. History class, when I wasn’t eye rolling over my boyfriend saying my new hairstyle made me look like Sigourney Weaver (he meant it as a compliment – all I could see was Alien), I was soaking up every detail about historical figures like President Lincoln.

One detail I always remember – Lincoln’s supposed great sense of humor.

Chocolate Bourbon Caramel Truffles

This movie showcases that sense of humor and storytelling, among other things. Daniel Day-Lewis was excellent (when asked in an interview how he found Lincoln’s voice, he answered with “you don’t know what he sounded like either…”).

Seems he shares that humor.

There were several …

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praline pumpkin mousse cornucopias

I was invited by Cooking Light and The Chew to make one of the holiday recipes from the show (I was actually invited to join a taping of The Chew last week, and rats Rats RATS I could not go).

But did I want to put my own spin on one of The Chew’s holiday recipes or crafts? I absolutely did! I am not too incredibly into crafts (I do have some fun house projects going on right now…), but we all know I love to cook. I chose one of their desserts and I veganized it.

Actually, the dessert I chose was also kinda crafty…

Just look at those cute pastry cornucopias! These were made with sugar cones – wrapping the cones in foil and then wrapping in pastry dough.

Just a piece of advice from someone newly experienced in this cone wrapping? Do not skip the cone. Do not think you can fashion a cone shape from foil and make that work. Well, it works exceptionally well until you want to take the cone out of the cooked pastry. Trust me, I’ve been other candles I’ve used both methods. For this part of the recipe, follow the original.

You then fill the pastry with a delectable mousse and drizzle caramel over the top…

The original recipe uses a pudding mix, and while most common instant pudding mixes are accidentally vegan, that wasn’t enough of a “change” for me. I made my own pudding.

The caramel sauce is unconventional as well – but every bit as delicious.

praline pumpkin mousse cornucopias

recipe adapted from praline-pumpkin mousse cornucopias

makes six desserts

pastry cones

1 package vegan puff pastry (or this, also vegan), cut into 1 cm strips
coconut sugar 

Wrap six ice cream sugar cones in foil, beginning at pointed end and wrapping around, folding excess over into cone. Spray with cooking spray (I used spray coconut oil). Wrap puff pastry strips around cone, beginning at pointed end and wrap up, overlapping slightly. I used 3 – 4 strips for each cone. Place cones on prepared (parchment, silpat) baking sheet, dust with coconut sugar, bake at 350 for 13-15 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside to cool.

pumpkin mousse

1 1/2 cups raw cashews
3/4 cup maple whipped cream (recipe follows)
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup maple syrup 

In food processor, pulse cashews to a fine crumb. Add maple whipped cream, pumpkin puree and maple syrup, combine completely to a smooth mousse.

maple whipped cream

1 can full fat coconut milk
2 tablespoons maple syrup 

Chill can of coconut milk in refrigerator overnight. When chilled, separate the solid from the liquid, saving liquid for another recipe. Using hand mixer (or stand mixer fitted with whisk), whip coconut solids into fluffy cream, adding maple syrup as you whip.

praline caramel sauce

adapted from chai pecan butter sauce

1 cup raw pecans
1/2 cup Medjool dates, pitted
3+ tablespoons water

In food processor, blend pecans and dates until crumbly. Add water by the tablespoon and continue to blend until smooth and desired consistency is reached.

to assemble

Transfer pumpkin mousse to piping bag, pipe into pastry cones. Plate and drizzle with praline caramel sauce, garnish with chopped pecans.

I made these three different times they were so good!


sparkly spiked cran-raspberry granita

I am loving the cold smoky winter evenings, the cooler temperatures, the fact that the holidays are coming.

The one thing I miss this time of year are the fresh and bright summer fruits.

I am so so happy to be finding the most amazing fresh raspberries right now! These are so good – so sweet.

The holidays have pretty much started in my life, and holidays mean more get togethers, more entertaining, more imbibing. More rich foods, more delectable desserts, more cheersing and celebrating.

So sometimes a break is needed. A fresh dessert. Even if it is spiked.

This is fresh and refreshing, light and sweet tooth satisfying at the same time. Instead of straining the fruit and just using the flavored liquid, I made a puree and froze it – a bit heartier than a traditional granita. I think I like the full fruit version even better.

This makes a large amount and we will happily enjoy it for many desserts – I made half without the vodka so I could share with anyone… or eat for lunch.

sparkly spiked cran-raspberry granita

adapted from cranberry whiskey sour slush

dairy, soy, and gluten free, vegan

1 pint fresh raspberries
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 cup club soda
1/2 cup vodka
3 tablespoons agave
juice of 1 lime

In food processor, puree raspberries and cranberries until smooth. Add club soda, vodka, agave and lime juice, combine completely. Transfer to a freezer safe container, cover and freeze. When solid, scrape with fork to make ice granules. Garnish with lime.

or whip cream:



baby portobello stroganoff

I am still cooking dinners for my Dad. Sometimes I just double the recipe of what I am making us for dinner, sometimes I make something ahead of time and bring to him for reheating, and sometimes I ask him what he would like?

A couple weeks ago, he requested stroganoff.

Since I know he is not a big pasta fan, and I vaguely recall stroganoff being served over pasta, I asked if he would like rice, or even better, quinoa.

Dad loves the quinoa.

The protein in the quinoa makes up for the … lack of meat. Didn’t even miss it.

baby portobello stroganoff

used this recipe for inspiration, reference

dairy, soy, and gluten free, vegan

serves four

1 cup dry quinoa
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons butter (Earth Balance soy free) or olive oil
1 large sweet onion, peeled and chopped
1 pint baby portobello mushrooms, cleaned and de-stemmed, chopped
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup vermouth (or wine)
3 tablespoons flour (gluten free all purpose)
splash almond milk
salt and pepper  

In medium sauce pan, combine vegetable broth and (rinsed) quinoa. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cover, cook for 10 minutes. (Check after 10 minutes, cooking time varies between 10-15 minutes for all liquid to be absorbed). When all liquid is absorbed, remove from heat and set aside with lid on.

Meanwhile, melt butter in pan, cook onion until caramelized. Add portobello pieces, cook until softened (a few minutes). Add vegetable broth and vermouth, continue to cook until liquid reduces by half, stirring frequently. In small bowl, combine flour and milk, stirring until smooth, add to onion/portobello mixture, stirring until thickened. Add salt + pepper to taste.

Serve over warm quinoa.

Also? Spell-check wanted to change stroganoff to strongman. The other day it changed mirepoix to firepower.


Roasted Sweet Potato and Asparagus Pasta

Roasted Sweet Potato and Asparagus Pasta

Roasted Sweet Potato and Asparagus Pasta – a zucchini pasta that is light, fresh, and flavorful!


My birthday isn’t until next week, but I have gotten a couple gifts early.

One of them I am so SO excited about I had to use it right away – my new spiralizer!

I have wanted one of these for years, and now that I have one, I have no idea why I waited so long to get one. Veggie pasta will be the new house specialty, I think.

I was able to use a spiralizer and a mandoline during my vegan and raw fusion class over the summer, and have really wanted one ever since then. I have a list of ideas to …

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