Category Archives: Dessert

♥ Irish Colcannon

So much for my New Year’s resolutions. Yep, I’m back to being a lazy blogger. Ah, well. I did make it back and that’s what counts. And just in time for Saint Patrick’s Day leftovers. March 17th is J’s day (er, excuse) to celebrate all things beer and his perennial favorite, corned beef and cabbage. Myself, I prefer to celebrate the Irish whiskey cake. 🙂

This year, I resurrected a favorite old recipe for this year’s potato side dish: Irish Colcannon. Colcannon is traditionally served at Halloween with charms such as a ring (marriage), a coin (wealth), a button (bachelorhood), a thimble (spinsterhood) and a tiny horseshoe (good luck) stirred into the Colcannon.  The recipients of each charm would benefit accordingly. Whatever the tradition and significance attached to Colcannon, it’s a wonderfully flavorful side dish. The kale and the cabbage in the potato dish bring just the right amount of green to the Saint Patrick’s Day table.

The Colcannon is even better the next day with leftover corned beef, diced, and the corned beef gravy drizzled over the top.

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Irish Colcannon

Ingredients:

2 pounds yellow potatoes, diced

1/2 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 leek (white part only), rinsed and chopped

3 cups green cabbage, chopped

3 cups frozen kale, thawed

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 cup nondairy butter

1 to 1-1/4 cups soy milk

Directions:

Place the potatoes in a saucepan with enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes.

While the potatoes are cooking, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, leek, and cabbage; sauté until softened. Add the kale, garlic, salt and pepper. Continue to cook until tender; remove from heat.

Drain the potatoes and return to the pot. Stir in the kale and cabbage mixture. Heat the nondairy butter in 1 cup of the soy milk in the microwave and pour over the potatoes. Mash with a potato masher, adding more soy milk if necessary. Check the seasoning and serve hot.

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Here it is, the best for last. And the absolute best use for leftover corned beef (in fact, I always double the corned beef recipe to ensure leftovers): the mighty Reuben sandwich. The king of all sandwiches, really. Teese mozzarella cheese, Bubbies sauerkraut, sliced red onion and homemade Thousand Island dressing between two layers of corned beef on dark rye bread from the bread machine. Oh, how I love thee, Reuben!

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♥ In The Mood . . . For Cacao

Looking for something different this Valentine’s Day? How about whipping up an aphrodisiac in your kitchen blender for you and your beloved? Rest assured, no eye of newt is required for this love potion.

“What the h—?” you may be thinking. And rightfully so. Truth be told, I stumbled upon this recipe a couple of years ago and, of course, I was intrigued. How could I not be?

“You have to try it to believe it! Every ingredient in this beverage is an aphrodisiac designed by nature to enhance your senses. This elixir is a marriage of flavor with none overpowering the others. Don’t omit the salt; it is the spark that lights the fuse.”

Does it work? Hmmm . . . maybe. 🙂 It’s a tasty beverage nonetheless. And different. Different, but ‘good’ different. Be forewarned, though: this recipe makes 4 cups. Wow, that’s a whole lotta aphrodisiac!

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Cacao Aphrodisiac Elixir

Recipe from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Raw.

Ingredients:

1 cup raw almonds

2 3-inch cinnamon sticks

1/4 teaspoon whole cloves

6 green cardamom pods

1 Tablespoon ginger, minced

4 cups filtered water

4 dried Kalamata figs, soaked in 1 cup of filtered water

2 Tablespoons raw cacao powder

1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1 Tablespoon rosewater

Pinch of salt  (I used Fleur De Sel)

Directions:

Place the almonds, cinnamon sticks, cloves, cardamom pods, ginger, and 2 cups water in a blender. Blend, gradually going from low-speed to high-speed, for 20 seconds. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Rinse the blender well and return the spiced water to the blender.

Add the figs and the fig soak water, cacao powder, vanilla extract, rosewater, salt, and the remaining 2 cups water. Blend on low-speed for 20 to 30 more seconds or until the figs are well blended.

Strain through a fine mesh strainer again and serve.

Happy Valentine’s Day . . . don’t stay up too late. 😉

♥ Veganism Is Deprivation

And if you believe that, I have only one thing to say to you: black forest cake. Oh, yes. Just look at this bad boy.

Vegan black forest cake.

 J and I stopped for lunch at the Dandelion Cafe in Reno, Nevada. We were expecting to find a veggie sandwich and a hummus plate, that sort of thing. We were delighted to find a menu full of options. And a cold case full of vegan desserts.

I don’t remember what we ordered for lunch. I don’t recall anything but this glorious slice of cake. Chocolate, cherry and whipped (non-dairy) cream slice o’ heaven on a plate.

This cake could convert Paula Deen herself.

♥ Giving Thanks For Leftovers

I hear a lot of supposedly good-natured ribbing that our Thanksgiving holiday is somehow lacking because we don’t cook a turkey. And I just do a mental eye roll and silently count to ten. Since when does the giving of thanks for the blessings in one’s life and gathering with family and friends only have meaning and significance when done over the mutilated carcass of a gentle and sentient being? Personally, I think the holiday has more value and significance when it is thoughtful and compassionate.

Peace on earth for ALL creatures.

Every year I swear that I won’t do it: that I won’t spend the entire Thanksgiving day (and the night before) in the kitchen cooking . And then, every year, I do it anyway. So much for resolutions. But, on the plus side, we always stretch the leftovers through the weekend. One marathon cooking day equals several days of feasting for us.

A good looking plate of leftovers.

Our Thanksgiving feast wasn’t lacking for anything. We enjoyed a Tofurky Roast baked with turnips, parsnips, fennel root and mushrooms. I made a simple baste for the Tofurky using the recipe on the box, but I added dried thyme and rosemary leaves, in addition to the sage, along with a tablespoon of pomegranate concentrate. Add a generous dollop of homemade cranberry sauce, Momma’s special holiday stuffing and savory red wine mushroom gravy over all. So good!

Sausage chestnut stuffing with mushroom gravy.

No self-respecting holiday meal would be complete without homemade rolls. I adapted this recipe for the bread machine for what is now our favorite dinner roll recipe (and it makes good doughnuts, too). I substitute plain soy milk and Earth Balance for the milk and butter and EnerG Egg Replacer for the egg. I also increase the amount of yeast called for in the recipe. Best of all, the bread machine does the work while the Tofurky and the side dishes are roasting in the oven.

These rolls are so light and fluffy; they practically melt in your mouth.

I like to try a new recipe every year, and this year I chose this recipe, from Urban Vegan. Fig-Pecan Stuffed Acorn Squash will surely make repeat appearances at future holiday dinners. The figs and pecans with the squash are such a delightful combination and perfect for Thanksgiving. I generally followed the recipe (as much as I ever do), but I increased the pecans to 3/4 cup and decreased the agave to 1/4 cup. I also stirred in a scant 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt into the filling before baking.

A side dish so good it should be served on a dessert plate.

As a kid (and still to this day), I detested the standard Thanksgiving side dish of candied yams with marshmallows baked on top. In fact, it is because of this childhood trauma that years elapsed before I willingly made a yam side dish for my own family at Thanksgiving. Now, it’s glazed yams (from fresh and not canned in heavy syrup) with candied nuts in place of the marshmallows, or it’s nothing.

Forget the marshmallows, walnut toffee is where it's at.

The Chinese five spice powder in the glaze makes this exotic side dish something special, and it has become a holiday staple for us. Of course, I don’t follow the recipe exactly. I substitute Earth Balance for the butter and I add a liberal sprinkling of salt and pepper to the glaze. I replace the corn syrup in the toffee with maple syrup and I increase the amount of walnuts to 1-1/2 cups. A word of warning, though: it’s a good idea to halve the recipe if you aren’t cooking for a crowd.

Past Thanksgivings, I made both a cranberry apple pie and a pumpkin pie (yeah, I spent a lot of time rolling pie crusts). Then I discovered this recipe for Pumpkin Cheesecake With Candied Cranberries and now I make just one dessert. The combination of pumpkin and cheesecake with the candied cranberry topping provides the best of our favorite desserts and it is a perfect end to a Thanksgiving dinner.

A perfectly fitting Thanksgiving dessert.

I make my cheesecake with a gingersnap crust and I have found that you can easily halve the amount of sugar and water for the candied cranberries (like the recipe says, though, the leftover syrup is wonderful on pancakes and waffles). I recommend placing the cranberry topping on each slice of cheesecake just before serving (I learned this the hard way this year). Otherwise, the cheesecake gets a little sloppy. Still yummy, but not so pretty.

So, what are your favorite holiday side dishes?

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I hope everyone had a wonderful and memorable Thanksgiving holiday. And that life’s blessings, big and small, are bountiful throughout the year.

And may we have the strength to survive the remaining weeks of the holiday madness. ♥