Happy Holidays! I feel as if it’s officially appropriate to say that, even though I’ve been embracing the season for what feels like weeks now. Case in point: This post marks the 3rd – and my personal favorite – installment of the cocktail party put on by my sister, Jamie. And today, we’re talking dessert! I am a ‘chocolate girl’ myself – unless there’s carrot cake, then I am a ‘carrot cake girl’ – and while I love sinfully rich chocolate creations, I am equally smitten with the cookies pictured here. They pair perfectly with a creamy glass of cashew milk. If you would prefer something more savory, try the Macadamia Nut Cheese Wheel, which takes advantage of the same base as the Herbed Cheese Spread, and the filling in the Rawvioli. It’s always a beautiful thing when you can use one recipe to make multiple, uniquely flavored, items!
You can find Part I of the party here, and part II here.
Place cashews, 1 cup water and stevia in high speed blender.
Blend until smooth and creamy, adding more water to create a thinner milk, as desired.
Serve, or keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.
Note: a pinch of salt will help preserve freshness. Alternatives to stevia include: 1 medjool date, 1 tablespoon raw honey or coconut sugar.
It’s pretty common to hear about unsaturated fats and their ability to promote heart health, but did you know that these fats also encourage restful sleep? Nuts and seeds contain tryptophan and magnesium, which both help to steady the heart’s rhythm, while also reducing muscle and nerve function, naturally.
Blend macadamia nuts, water and probiotics until smooth.
Scoop out and place in a strainer, lined with cheesecloth. Set weight on top. Leave to culture at room temperature for 24-48 hours.
Once cultured, stir in nutritional yeast, lemon juice and salt.
Roll nut cheese into a ball and flatten to form a small disk shape.
Place in dehydrator for 1-2 hours, at 120-degrees.
The wheel is ready when the color turns to a golden yellow and feels slightly firm to touch.
Serve with raw honey and crackers.
Probiotics are microorganisms, which can be found in various foods, either naturally or when added and left to culture. By helping to balance intestinal flora, probiotics play an important role in regulating proper intestinal function and digestion.
I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Since today is the “biggest shopping day of the year”, I thought it only fitting to share with you a project I partnered with ShopStyle on, in which I was asked to show off my personal style. If you’re not familiar with it, ShopStyle is one of the best resources around for checking out the latest trends, as well as making informed buying decisions; something I know will be particularly helpful in the coming days as I click, click, click to purchase holiday gifts (I will be avoiding the mall at all costs today, especially!).
When thinking about how to put this together, I knew I wanted to 1. Include as much sparkle as possible, and 2. Give it a festive spin. I invest in basic pieces, and wear a lot of neutral tones, but I love to add feminine touches – like the color pink – wherever I can. Keeping cozy is a big priority as we brace for Winter, so I tend to mix fluffy, comfortable knits with dressier/edgier pieces like my favorite sequin skirt (bottom right) or leather leggings (bottom left). Most of my jewelry is inherited, or in some way sentimental to me. The closeup of the necklace below is actually a vintage screw back earring that used to belong to my Grandma. The earrings are very heavy, so I removed them from their posts and strung them on gold chains. I am pretty tall too (5’10″), so not only do I find myself buying a lot of flats, but it was somewhat difficult to scrunch myself – and my clothes of course – into this frame! I was hoping to get my puppy Sneaks into the shots too – he even donned a black sequin bow tie for the occasion – but he had other ideas about what he wanted to do (See the last photo: he is not happy with his Mama!), so outtakes it is! If you’re interested in taking a closer look at any of the items, I have anything that is currently available linked below.
We had our first snowstorm of the season this past weekend. I use the term ‘storm’ lightly as in reality only a couple of inches stuck – most of which melted the next day – but those initial flurries always seem more dramatic. That night was spent cozying up to a fire, eating comfort food, and flipping through a stack of magazines. I put Sneaks in his crate (I really dislike crating him, but it’s very important to me that he be trained.) and went to bed early, only to awake to him crying a couple of hours later. My little pup is growing up so fast that I sometimes forget he is still a baby, and certain things like loud noises from the snowplows outside of our window, scare him. I picked him up and put him in bed with me so we could snuggle (I make exceptions to my training rules, obviously!). I should mention that Sneaks is an A+, first-rate, snuggler. He will find any crevice he can nuzzle into, wrap his tiny paws around your neck (This is my favorite.), and otherwise kiss on you until you make him stop. He is by far the biggest, most loveable blessing that has come into my life in the last year. So in that moment, when we were laying all warm under the covers, I was in perfect peace, thinking about how lucky I am to have him and all of the other wonderful things I have happening for me.
I feel as if so many of my wishes have come true as of late, and there are only good things to come in the days ahead. This blog in particular has been the catalyst for much of that, so I especially want to Thank YOU for reading. Today will be the first Thanksgiving in the last 3 that I am going to be home with my family. I want to savor that and look forward to the weekend ahead spent with more family members and my best friend from college (YAY!). I would also like to give a special shout-out to a few people who have consistently commented here, given me sweet awards, shared my posts, or otherwise bestowed extra kindness upon me. I fully intend to self-induce a food coma and relax for the next 48 hours, so if you’re planning on doing the same, I would really appreciate it if you took a minute to stop by these blogs too.
I am going to keep this short as I know most of us likely have places to go, people to see, and things to do. I wanted to make sure I posted this however, as I think it’s also likely that many of us will have some leftover squash to contend with – and perhaps some greens too – this weekend. I dreamed up this idea while stirring a creamy pot of butternut squash risotto that uses bacon as its base flavor. The combination is so good there, that I thought it had to work in other recipes as well. I am pretty sure I was right, but I’ll let you be the judge of that!
Bacon, Cream Cheese, and Butternut Squash Melts with Kale Pesto
½ – ¾ Cup Cooked/Roasted/Mashed Butternut Squash (From ½ of a Medium-Sized Squash)
4 Ounces Cream Cheese
3 Slices Cooked Bacon
4 Ounces Fontina Cheese, Shredded (or Other Melty Cheese)
2 Pieces Lavash Flatbread (or Large Tortilla, Wrap, etc.)
For the Pesto:
Lightly massage the kale with a bit of the olive oil before placing it in a food processor (This will soften it,
1 Small Bunch Lacinato (Dinosaur) Kale, Center Ribs & Stems Removed
1 Garlic Clove, Chopped
½ Cup Walnuts
½ Cup Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice
For the Melt
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or tin foil, and lightly grease with cooking spray (This will help the underside of the bread, brown).
In a large bowl, combine the butternut squash and cream cheese until fully incorporated.
Lay one piece of Lavash on the parchment. Spread the squash and cream cheese mixture evenly over the bread, leaving a border on the edge, as the cheese will melt down and out! Top with bacon, and the shredded cheese. Cover with the 2nd piece of Lavash.
(Optional) I slice the Lavash into 6 pieces before placing it in the oven, because it’s much easier to do it then, than when it’s oozing!
Bake for approximately 10 minutes, until the squash is warm and the cheese melted.
For the Pesto
Lightly massage the kale with a little bit of the olive oil to soften it, before placing it in a food processor. Add the garlic and walnuts, and pulse until coarsely chopped.
Slowly stream in the olive oil until the mixture is pureed.
Remove from the processor, and stir in the lemon juice.
Serve alongside the melt.
Pesto typically includes cheese, but I thought that the melts were rich and cheesy enough to pair better with something greener and nuttier. Feel free to use your favorite store-bought or herb-based pesto too!
I’ve been busy getting my cocktail on over at For Chic Sake and Foodable, but it feels like it’s been a very long time since I shared a drink recipe with you! I wanted to make this one extra special, and in my opinion, the best way to do that is with an extra special ingredient – like a persimmon. Despite having lived in SoCal for 2 years, where the fruit practically runs wild from late October to early December, I never actually tasted it until I came back to New York (Go figure!). Since then I’ve been hooked, especially on the Fuyu variety, which unlike its counterpart the Hachiya, can be eaten crisp and tastes like a spicy apple with a softer tomato-like skin. If you’re not familiar with persimmons, one thing to note is that they have to be eaten ripe – and are often served downright mushy – otherwise you will experience one of the most offensive, bitter, tastes you could ever imagine! I am personally not a fan of the mush, so when I had a few Fuyu that had ripened past the point of where I enjoy them, I started thinking of ways to use them up. Naturally, my first thought was of a drink.
I’ve infused vodka before, and while the result is typically nothing short of wonderful, I did have my doubts about a persimmon version. I wondered if I’d end up with pulpy booze (Nope!), and if adding a cinnamon stick to the mix would be filed under ‘yay!’ or ‘nay.’ (YAY x a million!). To say I liked the infusion is an understatement. I had originally intended to mix the vodka with pomegranate juice, or some other seasonal ingredient, but it was just so good on its own – and turned out such a super pretty color – that I ultimately decided to let it speak for itself. If you’re able to get your hands on some persimmons, I recommend making a batch immediately. It will take you under ten minutes to prepare and be ready just in time for the food/family/friend/cocktail weekend we’re about to embark on!
PS – Should you want to learn more about persimmons, or check out a great recipe for a salad made with them, feel free to visit Foodable to see the full article I wrote, here.
Per-cinnamon Martini (with Homemade Persimmon-Infused Vodka)
(Optional) Orange Slices (I used dried oranges I had leftover from this project.), Persimmon Slices, or Cinnamon Sticks, as Garnish
For the Persimmon-Infused Vodka:
Thinly slice your persimmons and place them in a large jar with the cinnamon stick. Top with vodka. Seal the jar and store it in a cool, dark, place for 4 days (or up to 7), shaking it vigorously at least once a day. After 4 days, the vodka should have a peach tint to it, and the cinnamon stick will have fully opened.
Pass the vodka through a strainer, and discard all of the solids (It’s okay if some of the persimmon pulp sticks around).
Transfer the strained vodka to a smaller jar and store in the refrigerator or freezer for up to 2 weeks.
For the Per-cinnamon Martini:
Add the vodka to a cocktail shaker with lots of ice. Shake, shake, shake. Pour and top with a squeeze of fresh orange juice. Garnish, if desired.
This ‘recipe’ is extremely flexible and can and should be altered based on your personal preferences and what you have available to you. My measurements will yield a vodka with very strong persimmon, and cinnamon flavor. If you want something more subtle, use a larger container with more vodka, or use the same size container with less persimmon.