Cheddar Pumpkin Beer Bread

There is nothing better than having a freshly baked bread to go with dinner. However, bread generally takes a while to make with all the kneading and rising that's put into it. So, it doesn't get made too often in this house since I usually decide to make bread an hour or two before we sit down for dinner. Which was the case the night I made this bread. I needed something quick and delicious to go with the pumpkin chili I was making. Let me just tell you, this recipe works in a pinch.

I usually make rolls for Thanksgiving but after making this bread, I definitely plan on making it again next week for the big feast. I mean, when it comes down to it, canned rolls or fresh baked bread? Not to mention the fact that there is pumpkin beer in the recipe... which is a Thanksgiving staple. It's a win-win really. This tastes exactly like a normal beer bread would except depending on the beer you choose, your bread will have the flavor of. So make sure you grab a beer that you like. If you are not a beer drinker than any pale colored beer will work.You don't really get a huge pumpkin flavor with the bread but the beer I used isn't over powering anyways. You just get the subtle notes of pumpkin, beer, and melt in your mouth cheddar all baked into a sweet bread. There was no rising, kneading or a whole heck of a lot of work involved. I'm not going to lie though, I did the whole "One for you, one for me" when it came to adding a bottle of beer to the bread. Now of course, you don't have to use pumpkin beer, any beer would work. However, where would the fun in that be?

recipe adapted from My Recipes

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil 
  • 1/2 c. finely chopped yellow onion 
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1 garlic clove, minced 
  • 3 c. all-purpose flour 
  • 3 Tbsp sugar 
  • 2 tsp baking powder 
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 1 c. shredded cheddar cheese 
  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle pumpkin beer (or beer of choosing) 
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter

  1. Preheat oven to 375°. 
  2. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion to pan; cook 10 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Stir in pepper and garlic; cook 1 minute.
  3. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk; make a well in center of mixture. Add onion mixture, cheese, and beer to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. 
  4. Spoon batter into a 9 x 5–inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Drizzle 1 tablespoon butter over batter. Bake at 375° for 35 minutes. 
  5. Drizzle remaining 1 tablespoon butter over batter. Bake an additional 25 minutes or until deep golden brown and a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

Wasabi Avocado Deviled Eggs

I'm one of those people who hates to bring the same dish to a party twice. It doesn't matter that it's not even the same party or group of people. I just love trying new recipes. So this year when the Mr. and I were invited to a Halloween party, I started looking up things that I could bring. Like a lot of recipes out there, I found this one via Pinterest.

I don't know about you but I love deviled eggs. These eggs takes that recipe and kicks it in the gonads. There's no tangy flavor here. Nope, there's a certain creaminess from the avocado and a kick from the wasabi that you just won't find in your mama's deviled eggs. Not to mention the cool purple cracked effect definitely adds to the Halloween effect. These do take some prep work if you are planning on doing the cracks since the eggs need to sit in the dye overnight. However, if you don't want the look, these are really easy to whip up. The only piece of advice I can give is to wait on mixing in the avocado filling until you are ready to serve. Avocados oxidize just like an apple and will turn brown over a few hours. So by mixing the filling last minute, you won't be showing up to a party with moldy looking eggs.

Recipe adapted from Family Spice
  • 4 eggs 
  • 1/2 avocado, seeded and peeled 
  • 1-2 tsp wasabi, paste 
  • 1 tsp lemon juice 
  • 1/4 tsp salt 

  1. In a medium sized pot, cover eggs with water, cover pot and bring to boil over high heat. Let eggs boil for 5 minutes, then turn off heat. Let eggs sit in the water until it becomes room temperature.
  2. Remove eggs, one at a time, and gently press and crack the shell with the back of the spoon. 
  3. Place cracked eggs in a bowl filled with water and add blue and red food coloring until you get dark purple. Place the eggs in water into the refrigerator for 6 hours or up to overnight.  
  4. Peel the eggs and cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out the yolks and place in a bowl. Mix in the avocado, wasabi, lemon juice and salt. Adjust to you liking. (I added more wasabi) 
  5. Place avocado mix into a piping bag and pipe into the hollowed egg halves. Keep chilled.

Smoky Butternut Squash Pasta with Kale

I'm definitely not used to the gloomy weather we've been having. With the days getting shorter and the clouds all gray, I've been craving comfort food. I saw this recipe and thought that it would be a tasty fall pasta dish. However, what I got was my new replacement for macaroni and cheese. The Mr. loves homemade macaroni and cheese but with my milk allergy, I've been trying to limit the dairy I consume. So, eating a bowl of cheese isn't the smartest thing for me to do. However, I can eat this without the guilt or allergy side effects. and still feel like I'm splurging on a not-so-healthy dish. I cannot believe how amazing it is. The Mr. and I polished the entire thing in one sitting. Don't judge.

When I went shopping for the ingredients I was unsuccessful in finding raw cashews at my usual grocery store. Then later that week I popped into another local store to get a specific brand of salsa for the Mr. and they had raw cashews. I had forgotten how much I needed and walked out with about a cup and half of raw cashews not realizing I only needed a quarter of a cup. Whoops. However, I looked it up online and you can store raw cashews in an airtight bag/container for up to one year in a cool and dark place. So if you have to purchase them in a large quantity, have no fear, they will last a while. I also cheated on the recipe a little bit. I really didn't want to have to clean and roast a squash. So I went over to the freezer isle of my grocery store and bought a 12 oz bag of frozen butternut squash*. When I was ready to make the sauce I put the whole bag in a microwave safe bowl and heated it up, then followed the remaining directions for the recipe. I also used gluten-free pasta. I saw it at the store and decided to give it a try. It tastes just like normal pasta and held up really well. So if you are looking for a gluten-free dish, use gluten-free pasta. Oh and one other thing, you don't have to use yeast in the recipe but it really adds to the dish. The yeast not only adds flavor but it also thickens the sauce into more of a creamy consistency.

Recipe adapted from Oh She Glows

  • 1/4 c. raw cashews, soaked 
  • 1 (3.5-4 pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced (need 2 c. cooked squash for the recipe. *See notes above for a quicker option) 
  • 3/4 c. water 
  • 2 garlic cloves 
  • 2 Tbs nutritional yeast (optional, but highly recommended) 
  • 1 Tbs fresh lemon juice 
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder 
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika 
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder 
  • 1 tsp fine grain sea salt, or to taste 
  • 1/8 tsp liquid smoke 
  • hot sauce, to taste 
  • 1 lb mini shell or macaroni pasta (use gluten-free, if desired) 
  • 5 c. chopped kale

  1. Add cashews in a small bowl and cover with water. Soak overnight or for at least 3-4 hours, until soft and plump. Drain and rinse before use. 
  2. *If roasting your own squash* Preheat oven to 425F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. See note about prepping squash below. Spread out chopped squash on sheet and drizzle with oil. Toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt. Roast for 30-40 minutes, flipping once half way through baking, until squash is fork tender. Let cool for at least 5 minutes. 
  3. Add the soaked and drained cashews, water, garlic, nutritional yeast (if using), lemon juice, onion powder, paprika, chili powder, and 2 cups of cooked squash into a high speed blender. Blend on high until smooth. Now add the salt, liquid smoke, and hot sauce to taste and blend again. 
  4. Cook pasta according to package directions. 
  5. Meanwhile, saute kale in a pan until wilted.
  6. Add the drained pasta back into the pot. Pour in the sauce and kale; stir to combine. Cook over medium until heated throughout and serve immediately.

Review: Vegan Ice Cream Sandwiches by Kris Holechek Peters

I was given a copy of Vegan Ice Cream Sandwiches by Kris Holechek Peters to review a while back. I was excited by the idea of a dairy-free ice cream sandwich since I'm mildly allergic to milk. I will admit that I'm not a huge ice cream fan. The Mr. can eat a tub of it in two sittings but my carton will sit in the freezer until it develops ice crystals. However, when you slap it between cookies, I'm in it to win it. So I was excited to give this book a shot.

First I made the Strawberry Italiano sandwiches which were a strawberry balsamic swirl ice cream sandwiched between to shortbread cookies. I didn't think the swirl would turn out because anytime I have to "swirl" something in, I always tend to over swirl it and end up just mixing it in. However, I'm happy to say that my swirl was perfect. Ha! The shortbread cookies don't have a lot of flavor so the ice cream is definitely the star in this one. I wasn't sure how the balsamic was going to play out in this, but you don't taste it at all.

The second ice cream sandwich I made was the Pumpkin Snickerdoodle sandwiches which are pumpkin ice cream sandwiched between two snickerdoodle cookies. Oh yeah, these are my favorite ice cream sandwiches ever. When you pair the pumpkin ice cream with the sugary cinnamon cookies, you get one amazing treat. I'm not gonna lie, it took all my willpower not to dip a cookie into the churning ice cream while it was freezing. Then, when the moment came where I could actually eat one... I ate two. And I've had one just about every night since. These are amazing and perfect for the fall.

This is a great recipe book to have on hand if you have an ice cream machine. Whether you are vegan or not, it doesn't matter, it's awesome. There are your basic ice cream sandwich combinations but then there are crazy ones like cardamom cookies and pistachio ice cream, orange zest cookies with earl grey tea ice cream, rhubarb cookies with sweet corn ice cream, and that's just to name a few. You have savory ice cream sandwiches, sweet ones, even ones designed for the season/holiday. I'd buy the book just for the pumpkin snickerdoodle sandwich recipe alone. Heck, I plan on making another batch of these babies this coming weekend because they are THAT GOOD. The next recipe I plan on making after I've had my fill of the pumpkin snickerdoodle ones is going to be the cranberry ice cream with gingersnap cookies. But if I'm being honest here, I have a feeling I will be making every single one of the recipes. Even the crazy ones.

*Oh and the best part about these recipes are that you can eat the cookie dough batter while you're waiting for the first batch of cookies to bake. I mean, it's not like I ate half a batch of the snickerdoodle dough or anything. I just... heard that you could is all.

Hearty Lentil and Mushroom Shepherd's Pie

With weather cooling down here, I've been doing a lot more cooking in my oven. I don't know what it is about cooler temperatures that makes me want comfort food but it never fails. I've tried a few different shepherd's pie recipes over the years and I'm always looking to try different versions. There are just so many spins you can make on this classic dish that the possibilities are endless. So far I've made your classic shepherd's pie with ground beef but I've also flipped the switch on it for holidays and meatless versions.

This is a really easy recipe to make. Especially if you have a big skillet that can go in the oven. You can just cook everything in the pan (except mashed potatoes, those you still have to do separately), and then top it with the mashed potatoes and throw it in the oven. There's no need to transfer it to a casserole dish. That is, unless you are the complete opposite of me and just LOVE to do dishes. The less dishes I have to do, the happier I am.

So in short, if you are looking for a hearty shepherd's pie sans the meat and dairy, this is a great recipe. It's got just enough going on that it will appease any meat eater while still catering to anyone who can't eat meat or dairy. The Mr. and I are hot sauce fiends so we felt like it needed some hot sauce mixed into the lentil base but the great thing about shepherd's pie is that you can alter it however you'd like. I'm lazy and don't see the purpose in peeling my potatoes so I left the skins on. But if you want to try sweet potatoes instead of red? Go for it! After all, that's how I came up with the corned beef version. I just took our typical St. Patty's day dinner and turned it into a pie. So taste the lentil mixture before putting the potatoes on top and tweak it to your hearts content.

recipe adapted from Vegan Holiday Cooking

  • 8 large or 10 medium potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons nonhydrogenated margarine
  • 1/2 c. non-dairy milk such as rice/soy/almond milk (just not almond coconut)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 oz mushrooms (crimini or button mushrooms)
  • 2 (15 oz) can lentils, lightly drained but not rinsed (or about 3 1/2 cups cooked lentils with a little of their cooking liquid)
  • 2 Tbsp dry red wine, optional
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauc
  • 2 tsp seasoning blend (such as Mrs. Dash table blend)
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3 Tbsp. cornstarch or arrowroot
  • 8 to 10 oz. baby spinach or arugula leaves
  • 1 c. fresh bread crumbs or panko bread crumbs (gluten-free if needed)

  1. Dice the potatoes (you can peel them first if you prefer mashed potatoes without the skin). Place in a large saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and transfer to a small mixing bowl.
  2. Stir the margarine into the potatoes until melted, then add the non-dairy milk and mash until fluffy. Cover and set aside until needed. Preheat the oven to 400° f.
  3. While the potatoes are cooking, heat the oil in a medium skillet. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and mushrooms and continue to sauté until the onion is golden.
  4. Add the lentils and their liquid and bring to a gentle simmer. Stir in the wine (if using), soy sauce, seasoning blend, thyme, and pepper. Cook gently for 5 minutes. Combine the cornstarch with just enough water to dissolve in a small container. Stir into the lentil mixture.
  5. Add the spinach, a little at a time, cooking just until it’s all wilted down. Remove from the heat; taste to adjust seasonings to your liking.
  6. Lightly oil a 2-quart (preferably round) casserole dish, or two deep-dish pie plates. Scatter the breadcrumbs evenly over the bottom. Pour in the lentil mixture, then spread the potatoes evenly over the top. If using two pie plates, divide each mixture evenly between them.
  7. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the potatoes begin to turn golden and slightly crusty (I always pop mine under the broiler for a few minutes to give it a nice golden crust). 
  8. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes, then cut into wedges to serve.