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Rachel’s Recipes

Chicken & Brown Rice Soup

Nourishing Comfort Food

If you’re feeling kind of sick and under the weather…or just sick of the winter weather, Chicken & Brown Rice Soup is the perfect pick-me-up! A couple weeks ago, the day after my horse accident, I was extremely tired–not like my usual spunky self. Naturally, when considering what to make for dinner, my first instinct was this recipe. It’s really easy, making it a great solution when you aren’t in the mood to make an elaborate seven course meal.

Another great benefit to Chicken & Brown Rice Soup is that it is incredibly healthy. Unlike other comfort foods like mac ‘n cheese or mashed potatoes, this soup features whole grains, lean protein, fresh veggies, and nourishing bone broth. You really can’t go wrong!

chicken and brown rice soup

Why Choose Bonafide Provisions?

Instead of conventional chicken broth, I chose to use Bonafide Provisions Organic Chicken Bone Broth. Bonafide goes out of their way to ensure you get the most nutritious, high-quality broth possible. All their products are organic and they never use fillers–just real bones. The broths are loaded with collagen, giving them their signature thick consistency and they are frozen fresh instead packaged in a box. I could keep going on all the reasons I love Bonafide, but I know you’d also like to get to a recipe today. To read more about what makes Bonafide such an awesome broth to use, follow the link here!

Notes

If you’re in a hurry, note that the chicken brine is optional. If you have the time though, I definitely recommend it because it makes the chicken extra tender. Also, if you have leftover chicken or a rotisserie on hand, that works great too!

The first time I made this, I used black wild rice. It works great and tastes like any other, but don’t be alarmed when the broth…and chicken turn purple!

chicken and brown rice soup

Pairings for Chicken & Brown Rice Soup

Chicken & Brown Rice Soup

If you're feeling kind of sick and under the weather…or just sick of the weather, Chicken & Brown Rice Soup is the perfect pick-me-up!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Resting Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr 10 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chicken, chicken soup, clean eating, comfort food, healthy dinner, rice, soup, vegetables
Servings: 4
Author: Rachel Alexandra

Ingredients

  • 1 lb organic, free range chicken breasts
  • 2-3 cups warm water for brine
  • 1 Tbsp salt for brine
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil divided
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 carrots peeled
  • 3 branches celery
  • 3 pints Bonafide Provisions Organic Chicken Bone Broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup brown or wild rice uncooked
  • Fresh thyme, rosemary, and parsley to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • In a medium bowl, dissolve 1 Tbs of salt in 2-3 cups of warm water–enough to cover the chicken. Place the chicken in the bowl and set aside for 30 minutes to brine.
  • Meanwhile, dice the onion, mince the garlic, and chop the carrots and celery.
  • Remove the chicken from the bowl and cut into bit sized pieces. Heat half the olive oil in a skillet and add the chicken. Fricassee until cooked through (165°F in the center).
  • In a large pot, add the rest of the olive oil, onion, garlic, carrots, celery, and herbs. Saute for 5-10 minutes until the onions become translucent and the other veggies slightly soften.
  • Add the Bonafide Provisions Organic Chicken Bone Broth and water. Bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to medium low and add the chicken and rice. Simmer for 25-30 minutes, until the rice is tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Notes

Using black wild rice will turn the broth and the chicken purple. Don’t worry, it tastes totally normal!
If you’re in a hurry, you can skip the chicken brine. It makes the chicken extra tender, but isn’t necessary. Also, if you have leftover chicken or a rotisserie on hand, that works great too!
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Pumpkin and Pepita Muffins

Being laid up at home definitely calls for a cozy batch of muffins…

Do you ever have one of those days when nothing’s going well and all you want is a homemade muffin? And then those are nearly a disaster in and of themselves? That was definitely me a couple days ago. I spent the first few hours of my day in urgent care after a horse mishap the day before. After a few hours, I found out I have a fracture right under my eye along with a mild concussion. By the time I got home, I still had time before running to the ophthalmologist to check for eye damage. Even though I was tired, I felt like baking a quick batch of Pumpkin and Pepita Muffins.

pumpkin and pepita muffins

…That is until they’re nearly ruined!

I gathered my ingredients and whipped up the batter for the recipe below. In about 20 minutes, I expected to have 12 beautiful, fluffy, flavorful muffins. But when it came time to test them with a toothpick, I tried to grab the pan with one oven-mitt. Sounds easy enough, right? It’s not a heavy pan after all. But then again, there’s not a lot of space to hold onto and I quickly realized I needed two hands. As I tried to place the muffins back in the oven, one of them on the corner bit the dust! Like how does that even happen?! How does just ONE muffin fall out of a deep tin like that?!

pumpkin and pepita muffins

Well, regardless of how it happened, I had a big mess to worry about instead. I grabbed most of the muffin from the rack, but a few pieces fell to the bottom of the 400 degree oven. Not only that, but when I tested the muffins, they weren’t done and had to go back in! At this point, the frustration was getting to me. I was tired with a headache and a broken face and now had to turn off the oven, clean it out, and get 11 half baked muffins back in. I was afraid they would cave in or something due to all the temperature changes, but to my surprise they actually turned out!

pumpkin and pepita muffins

Moral of the story:

So I guess the takeaway from my experience is to always use two hands when putting things in or taking things out of ovens. Sounds like common sense, but apparently not. Another thing I found out is that this recipe is pretty resistant to rapid temperature changes, which is great for checking for doneness along the way.

Despite the hassle, these Pumpkin and Pepita Muffins were totally worth it. Go ahead and give this recipe a try–I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below!

How can I make this recipe vegan?

Simply substitute the milk for a non-dairy alternative.

Can I make these without refined sugar?

Absolutely! Instead of regular table sugar, you can substitute organic sugar. Also, try using pure dark maple syrup in place of molasses.

pumpkin and pepita muffins

Similar Recipes to Try:

Pumpkin and Pepita Muffins

Light, fluffy pumpkin chocolate chip muffins with crunchy pepitas on top. Pumpkin and Pepita Muffins make for a perfect cozy breakfast!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: baking, chocolate, fall dessert, muffin, pumpkin
Servings: 12 muffins
Calories: 360kcal
Author: Rachel Alexandra

Ingredients

  • 1 ¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup organic pumpkin purée
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup melted coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp black strap molasses or dark maple syrup
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • Pepitas for topping

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 425° and line a 12-cup muffin tin with liners.
  • Whisk all the dry ingredients except for the chocolate chips and pepitas in a large bowl.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk all of the wet ingredients together. Then combine the wet and dry in the large bowl. Be careful not to over mix.
  • Fold in the chocolate chips and evenly distribute the batter between the muffin cups. If you want bigger muffins, fill 10 cups nearly full. Otherwise, you can make 12 regular muffins by filling cups ⅔ full.
  • Bake for 6-7 minutes at 425°.When the muffins start rising, turn the oven down to 400° and bake for another 8-10 minutes.Test them with a toothpick to see when they are done.Let them cool for about 15 minutes before placing them on a cooling rack. Enjoy!

Notes

To make vegan, substitute milk for a non-dairy alternative and use vegan chocolate chips.
To make refined sugar free, use the maple syrup option instead of molasses and substitute organic sugar for conventional table sugar.

Vegetarian Tikka Masala

Finally, here it is! Proof that I actually make food other than desserts! As you’ve probably noticed when browsing around my site, my so-called clean eating blog as been featuring a LOT of sweets lately. Even though they’re all made from scratch and often lacking refined sugar, I still wouldn’t classify such recipes as health food. So since in reality I also like to make wholesome dinners, here’s the latest recipe we tried this week: Vegetarian Tikka Masala.

Vegetarian tikka masala

I slightly adapted the recipe from Food with Feeling (I highly recommend checking out her blog!) and we also cooked up some chicken on the side which makes it super adaptable for households with a mix of vegetarians and omnivores. I tend to prefer more plant based foods while Daniel really likes meat and needs more protein, so this worked really well!

If on the other hand, you need a fully vegan recipe, simply swap out the Greek yogurt for one made with coconut milk, omit the optional meat, and there you have it!

Vegetarian Tikka Masala

Vegetarian Tikka Masala is a really easy recipe and the only special kitchen equipment you’ll need is a food processor. This is also great way to sneak in some extra veggies. I used cauliflower, carrots, peppers, and peas, but you could also experiment with other things like zucchini, broccoli, eggplant, or whatever is in season. No one says you have to make a recipe the same way twice! 🙂

Other Recipes to Try:

Vegetarian Tikka Masala

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: curry, dinner, easy, healthy, vegetarian
Servings: 8 Servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 1 large red onion
  • 1 inch ginger root peeled
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves and stems chopped
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tsp garam masala
  • 14 oz whole San Marzano tomatoes
  • 15 oz tomato sauce
  • 5 oz plain Greek yogurt
  • 15 oz coconut cream
  • 1 head organic cauliflower chopped
  • 3 organic, large carrots sliced
  • 1 organic bell pepper chopped
  • 1-2 cans garbanzo beans
  • 1-2 cups frozen peas
  • Hot sauce to taste

Instructions

  • Place half the onion, garlic, ginger, cilantro, and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a food processor and pulse until well combined.
  • In a large skillet, sauté the remaining onion and olive oil with the spices until the onions soften and become translucent.
  • Add the San Marzano tomatoes (with liquid), tomato sauce, Greek yogurt, food-processed mixture, and half of the coconut milk.
  • After about 5 minutes on medium heat, add the cauliflower, carrots, and peppers. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
  • When the veggies are mostly softened, add the garbanzo beans, frozen peas, and the rest of the coconut milk. Continue cooking until the peas are thawed and heated through.

Notes

Be sure to use full fat coconut cream instead of reduced fat or coconut milk beverage. The full fat is analogous to heavy cream, whereas reduced fat resembles half and half and coconut beverage is the consistency of regular milk. In this case, the full fat consistency will help everything thicken.
Also, it’s important to shake or stir the can first, as some of the cream may be solidified because it’s so temperature sensitive.

Andes Candies Cookies

Hi everyone! I hope you all enjoyed a joyous Christmas this past week! If you’re like me and LOVE Christmas and never want it to end, here’s a classic Christmas cookie recipe to keep the festivities going: Andes Candies Cookies!

These soft little cookies are rich and chocolaty with a lovely mint twist on top. As an added bonus, (assuming the batch doesn’t disappear instantly 😉 ) they can even be used for a crust in my Egg-Free Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake! Since I planned to make said cheesecake for the Utke family Christmas last Sunday, I got together with my sister, Lauren (from Lauren and the Foreign), the week prior for a little baking extravaganza.

To make Andes Candies Cookies egg-free, I use cream cheese as a substitute. It’s not the most universal egg replacement, but it sure seems to work well in cookies by binding the dough and making it nice and rich. I also used Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips which are free from the most common allergens.

After melting the butter, sugar, and water on the stove, I stirred in the chocolate until it melted. I allowed it to cool for a few minutes before mixing in the cream cheese, baking soda, salt, and flour. Then I covered the dough and allowed it to chill for 30 minutes in the fridge.

The chilling can reduce spread when baking and can help for rolling the dough into balls. Personally, I prefer making little cookies, so I made my dough balls no bigger than a ping-pong ball. Also, if you want to have thinner cookies than the ones pictured below, you could press down the dough before baking.

Right after the cookies come out of the oven, top each one with half of an Andes mint. As it starts to melt, take a small offset spatula or the back of a spoon and swirl the chocolate around. If you make larger cookies, you’ll likely want to use a full mint per cookie. After about 10 minutes, the cookies can be transferred to a cooling rack as the chocolate hardens. Enjoy!

If you love Andes Candies Cookies, give these other recipes a try:

Andes Candies Cookies

These soft little Christmas cookies are rich and chocolaty with a lovely mint twist on top! Perfect for all your holiday celebrations!
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Chilling Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 40 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chocolate, Christmas, cookie, mint
Author: Rachel Alexandra

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup butter
  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 2 cups Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 4 oz cream cheese room temperature
  • 1 ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 ½° cups all purpose flour
  • Andes mints halved

Instructions

  • In a medium saucepan, melt the butter, brown sugar, and water.
  • Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips until melted and smooth. Chill for 10 minutes.
  • Using a hand or stand mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the chocolate mixture and keep beating until just combined. Don't over mix.
  • Slowly add the baking soda, salt and flour. When all the ingredients come together, let the dough chill for about 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°. Roll the dough into balls, about 2 inches in diameter and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  • Bake cookies for 10 minutes. Immediately top each cookie with one half of an Andes mint. As each one melts, swirl it around with the back of a spoon or a small offset spatula. Allow cookies to cool somewhat before transferring to a cooling rack.

Refined-Sugar Free Date Bars

During Christmastime, it seems like the flow of cookies, bars, cakes, and pies is endless. It can be really hard to stick to a clean-eating regimen with all this temptation around, so while I’m busy in the kitchen whipping up desserts right and left, I like to alter recipes any way I can to make them a tad bit healthier. In this case, as the name suggests, Refined-Sugar Free Date Bars are totally free from refined sugar! What do I use instead? Organic Joolie’s Medjool Dates for the filling and sucanat for the top and bottom. Does that mean you should eat the entire pan in one sitting? Well, I wouldn’t recommend it, but you can certainly feel better about enjoying them in moderation! 🙂

Refined-Sugar Free Date Bars are super simple! They just have two parts: the crumble for the top and bottom and the date paste in between. The crumble is pretty basic, consisting of oats, flour, sucanat, baking soda, salt, cinnamon (or any of your favorite baking spices), and butter. All you have to do is grind the oats in a food processor, whisk with the other dry ingredients, and and bind it together with cold butter.

The filling is even simpler: dates and water. After boiling the dates, they can be pulsed in a food processor until a nice paste forms. There’s no need to add any anything else since they’re naturally sweet and bursting with flavor.

If you’re looking for a unique treat to bring to your next Christmas gathering or are trying to keep desserts on the healthier side, then these bars are the perfect solution! Check out the links below for similar recipes you might enjoy!

More from Roots and Rosemary

Medjool Date Bars

Course: Dessert
Servings: 12 bars
Author: Rachel Alexandra

Ingredients

  • 3 cups Joolie's dates pitted
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ¾ cup sucanat
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup butter chilled

Instructions

  • In a medium saucepan, add the dates and water. Bring to a boil, before reducing heat and simmering for about five minutes.
  • Remove from heat and set aside. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper.
  • Add the oats to a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground. In a large bowl, whisk the oats, flour, sucanat, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  • Cut the butter butter into small pieces and use a pastry blender to incorporate it into the dry ingredients. If your food processor is big enough, you can also mix it in there.
  • Put ⅔ of the mixture into the baking dish and press it down until it evenly covers the bottom.
  • Place the dates in the food processor and pulse until you achieve a smooth, thick paste. Spread it over layer of dough in the baking dish and smooth it out using an offset spatula.
  • Crumble the rest of the dough on top. Bake for 30 minutes and let cool before slicing. Store in the refrigerator

Peanut Butter Chocolate Truffles

I filled my bowl with peanut butter, powdered sugar, and butter and turned on the mixer. As I folded in some crisp rice cereal, the aroma of Christmastime wafted around the kitchen. Peanut Butter Chocolate Truffles only seem to come around once a year, but I think I need to change that 😉

After all, these truffles are basically a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup except a zillion times better. I’m talking rich peanut butter filling with a crispy crunch, submerged in decadent semisweet chocolate. Plus they don’t have all the added preservatives and funky oils you get in processed candy bars. So naturally Peanut Butter Chocolate Truffles will top anything found in a store.

I’m all about clean eating, but that doesn’t mean I’m anti-dessert. I just use the highest quality, most minimally processed ingredients and cut no corners cooking from scratch. For these truffles, I made sure to use Crazy Richard’s peanut butter which only has one ingredient–peanuts! Just like it should be. I didn’t want to use anything with added sugars or hydrogenated oils found in most conventional peanut butter. However, even among “natural” peanut butters, you find unnecessary ingredients when all you really need is peanuts and maybe salt.

Overall, these Peanut Butter Chocolate Truffles are super easy to make. The only challenge I encounter is getting them to look as good as my mom’s! The first few always look the best, but toward the end it becomes nearly impossible to have a perfectly smooth chocolate coating. Either way, they still taste amazing! Plus, you can always pick and choose the best ones to give away or serve at a gathering. If you want them all to look perfect though, you can always melt some extra chocolate. My other tip is to make sure the peanut butter balls are rolled into perfect little spheres. The smoother they are, the smoother the chocolate coating will look.

If you love Peanut Butter Chocolate Truffles, give these a try:

Peanut Butter Chocolate Truffles

Natural peanut butter filling with a crispy crunch, dipped in smooth, rich chocolate–the perfect holiday truffle!
Prep Time20 mins
Cooling Time30 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chocolate, confectionery, peanut butter, truffle
Servings: 40 truffles
Author: Rachel Alexandra

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups crisp rice cereal
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup Crazy Richard's peanut butter
  • ¼ cup salted butter softened
  • Pinch of salt
  • 12 oz semisweet baking chocolate

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, combine the butter, sugar, peanut butter, and salt. Using a hand or stand mixer, mix the ingredients until everything is evenly combined.
  • Gently fold in crisp rice cereal.
  • Form the dough into 1 tablespoon-sized balls. Roll them until spherical and place on a sheet of wax paper.
  • Melt the chocolate using a double boiler or in the microwave. To use the double boiler, add one inch of water to the bottom and melt the chocolate on top. Stir often and be sure not to let any moisture in the chocolate (it will alter the consistency). If using a microwave, go in short intervals and stir often to avoid scorching the chocolate.
  • Individually, place the peanut butter balls in the chocolate. Roll each one around until it is totally covered. Carefully removed with a fork and place on wax paper to cool.
  • When all the truffles are made, they can be placed in the refrigerator for faster cooling time and they can be stored in an airtight container there or in the freezer.

Spiced Banana Rum Cookies

This weekend, I collaborated with my sister from Lauren and the Foreign and Stolen Smoked Rum to create these Spiced Banana Rum Cookies. The recipe was inspired by Bunner’s Bakeshop, my favorite bakery in downtown Toronto. They are totally vegan and gluten free and since they don’t use nuts in the bakery either, it it all safe for me! I don’t eat from any bakery uses eggs or nuts even if certain products are supposedly “safe”. There is way too much risk for cross contamination and I just don’t trust people. So when I stumbled across Bunner’s a few years back, it was pretty life changing. Like the “I was 16 years old and had never eaten from a bakery” kind of life changing.

Bunner's cookbook

Since I don’t get up to Canada very often, I got their cookbook which was a really big inspiration for me to start baking more. Since then, I’ve been enjoying trying new recipes, adapting them, and getting creative to make them my own.

For these Spiced Banana Rum Cookies, I made a few changes to the original recipe found in the cookbook. I subbed coconut oil for canola and regular flour instead of gluten free. I also made the frosting non-vegan by using real dairy butter and half and half. Rarely do I follow a recipe word for word, but that’s where a lot of the fun comes in!

spiced banana rum cookies

The cookies were absolutely delicious! They’re soft with a somewhat cake-like texture and the drizzle of frosting really adds a nice touch. It’s important to use overripe bananas and high quality spices to maximize the flavor. Although any dark rum would work, Lauren and I prefer using Stolen Smoked Rum because the real smoke flavor so unique. I’m the kind of person who basically never drinks, but I do like adding things to my cooking and baking. The alcohol doesn’t really have any effect once it’s cooked and it really takes recipes up a notch!

Similar Recipes to Spiced Banana Rum Cookies:

Spiced Banana Rum Cookies

These Spiced Banana Rum Cookies are perfect for any occasion! The sweet banana combined with fall spices make the perfect compliment to the hint of rum.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: banana, cookie, rum, spiced
Servings: 24
Author: Rachel Alexandra

Ingredients

Cookies

  • 1 ¾ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp Penzeys ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp Penzeys ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp Penzeys ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ cup mashed, overripe bananas
  • ¼ cup melted coconut oil
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Stolen Smoked Rum
  • 1 Tbsp molasses
  • tsp pure vanilla extract

Frosting

  • 2 Tbsp softened butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp half and half
  • 2 Tbsp Stolen Smoked Rum

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk the mashed banana with the melted coconut oil. Then add the sugar, molasses, rum, and vanilla.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until just combined. Be sure not to over mix.
  • Using a two tablespoon cookie scoop, form balls of dough and place on a baking sheet about two inches part. Do not flatten the cookies.
  • Bake the for 10 minutes until slightly golden and puffy. Cool for 20 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Frosting

  • In a medium bowl, whisk the softened butter, sugar, half and half, and rum.
  • Transfer to a piping bag and drizzle over cookies.
  • The cookies can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. Enjoy!

Notes

Wait until the cookies are completely cool before frosting.

Harvest Apple Cranberry Crisp

As you may recall from my latest post on Fall Fun Day, the first two activities of the day were the farmer’s market and apple picking. As a result, I had a lot of apples on hand from the orchard as well as a bag of fresh Wisconsin cranberries from the market. So the only natural and logical thing to do was make this Harvest Apple Cranberry Crisp!

Harvest Apple Cranberry Crisp

The apples are tossed with delicious fall spices and the cranberries add just the right amount of tartness. What I especially love about this recipe though is the topping. Using sucanat instead of traditional brown sugar makes it so much more rich and bold! If you aren’t familiar, sucanat is simply sugar before they removed the molasses. So instead of taking refined white sugar and adding molasses back in, it was just never taken out in the first place. Makes way more sense, right? If you aren’t sure what kind to get, I added a link to my favorite one above. (This isn’t a sponsored post, it’s just one I like!)

Harvest Apple Cranberry Crisp

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, Harvest Apple Cranberry Crisp could be a great alternative to traditional desserts. Personally, I like to have a lighter fruit dessert after a gigantic meal instead of something very rich and dense.

To help with dietary concerns, this crisp can be make gluten free by using certified GF oats or vegan by using coconut oil instead of butter. This is also a good option if you need to avoid dairy for a food allergy and the whole recipe is also free of eggs, peanuts, and tree nuts. I hope you give this recipe a try–I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below! Enjoy!

Other recipes you may enjoy:

Caramel Apple Cheesecake

Cranberry Orange Scones

Vegan Cranberry Orange Muffins

Harvest Apple Cranberry Crisp

Thanksgiving's right around the corner and Harvest Apple Cranberry Crisp is a great alternative to traditional desserts. It can easily be made GF or vegan!
Cook Time45 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: apple, cinnamon, cloves, cranberry, nutmeg, spice
Servings: 12
Author: Rachel Alexandra

Ingredients

Filling

  • 5 cups peeled, diced apples Wealthy or Cortland
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup + ½ Tbs flour
  • ½ tsp Penzeys ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp Penzeys ground nutmeg
  • tsp Penzeys ground cloves

Topping

  • ½ cup old fashioned oats
  • ½ cup sucanat
  • ¼ cup melted butter or coconut oil
  • tsp baking powder
  • tsp baking soda

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Toss diced apples and cranberries in a bowl with sugar, flour, and spices.
  • Spread the mixture evenly in a pie plate.
  • In a separate bowl, mix the oats, sucanat, baking powder, and baking soda. Add melted butter or coconut oil and mix until evenly distributed.
  • Sprinkle the topping over the fruit and bake for about 45 minutes. The topping should be slightly golden and the apples should be easily pierced with a fork.

Caramel Apple Cheesecake

This Caramel Apple Cheesecake is sure to be a crowd-pleaser this holiday season–it features a delicate graham cracker crust, a rich apple spice filling, and is topped with crunchy struesel and gooey, homemade caramel!

Delicate graham cracker crust with a rich apple spice filling, topped with crunchy struesel and gooey caramel!

For as long as I can remember, one of the dessert options at Thanksgiving has been pumpkin cheesecake. Before I took to the kitchen, my mom always made a no-bake version and it was really good! Then a few years ago, I discovered the art of cheesecake-making from scratch and took charge of holiday desserts–Pumpkin with Chocolate Ganache for Thanksgiving and Chocolate Peppermint for Christmas.

The other thing is that fall and Christmas are my absolute jam and I’m very stringent about holding to all the family traditions. But then this Caramel Apple Cheesecake happened. And after some discussion and family taste-testing, we’ve concluded it needs to make an appearance at this Thanksgiving. Give the recipe a try and I bet you’ll be wanting to do the same! It’s pretty involved though, so read through the whole thing before getting started.

Other Cheesecake Recipes to Try:

Caramel Apple Cheesecake

This Caramel Apple Cheesecake is sure to be a crowd-pleaser this holiday season–it features a delicate graham cracker crust, a rich apple spice filling, and is topped with crunchy struesel and gooey, homemade caramel!
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: apple, cake, caramel, cheesecake, fall dessert, streusel
Servings: 8 slices
Author: Rachel Alexandra

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted butter

Filling

  • 2-3 Wealthy apples (or your favorite pie apple)
  • cinnamon and sugar to taste
  • 3-4 tbsp butter divided
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 16 oz cream cheese softened
  • cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp dark maple syrup
  • 1 tsp Penzeys ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Penzeys ground nutmeg
  • Pinch Penzeys ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp sea salt

Struesel Topping

  • ¼ cup cold butter
  • ½ cup flour
  • cup brown sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp white sugar

Caramel Sauce

  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 ½ tsp arrowroot starch
  • ¼ cup dark maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp sucanat
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions

Crust

  • First, grease the bottom and sides of an 8-inch spring from pan with canola spray or melted coconut oil/butter.
  • Then put the graham crackers in a food processor and grind until they are just small crumbs. Add the sugar and pulse a few more times.
  • In a small bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter. Finally, press the mixture firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Set aside.

Struesel

  • Combine the flour and sugar. Then cut in the butter and using a pastry blender (or by hand) break up the butter into pea-size pieces. Set aside until the cheesecake is ready to bake.

Filling

  • In a frying pan, melt 1-2 Tbs. of butter. Add the apples with cinnamon and sugar to taste. Sauté until easily pierced with a fork. (They should be soft, but not applesauce.) Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Add approximately an inch of water to the bottom of a double boiler and melt 1 cup of white chocolate chips on medium heat. Stir every few minutes and be sure not to get any water in the chocolate. When the chips are melted, remove from heat and stir in 2 Tbs. of melted butter. Allow the mixture to cool for 10 minutes.
  • In a large, deep bowl, combine the somewhat-cooled white chocolate mixture, cream cheese, sugar, maple syrup, spices and salt. Use an stand or hand mixer to mix all the ingredients until smooth and creamy. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl every so often to ensure that everything is well combined. Don't to use the slowest setting and do not over mix. Gently fold in the prepared apples.
  • Preheat the oven to 325°F. Scoop the filling in the spring form pan and using a small offset spatula, smooth it out until even. Sprinkle the struesel over the top.
  • Bake for 35 minutes, making sure to not open the oven! Any rapid change in temperature or humidity can lead to cracking and caving.
  • Turn the oven off and let the cheesecake rest in the oven for another 30 minutes, still not opening the door. When the time is up, remove from oven and let the cheesecake cool for approximately 30 more minutes before letting it chill and set up in the refrigerator for at least three hours.

Caramel Sauce

  • While the cheesecake is cooling, whisk the arrowroot starch and 2 tbsp of cream in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • In a saucepan, heat the rest of the cream, maple syrup, sucanat, and sugar. Whisk often and bring to a boil. After 10 seconds of boiling, add the butter.
  • Decrease heat and simmer for 10 minutes, continuing to whisk. Add the slurry and gently boil another minute or two. Remove from heat and add the vanilla and salt.
  • After it is somewhat cooled, it can be drizzled over the entire cheesecake or added to individual slices. Enjoy!

Notes on Caramel Apple Cheesecake:

When selecting white chocolate, make sure it actually contains cocoa butter and is free from hydrogenated oils and artificial flavors. (I get mine at Trader Joe’s.)

It’s important to make sure the base of of the spring-form pan is right side up. However, even if it is, it’s still possible for butter to leak out the bottom. To prevent a major mess, line a baking sheet with foil and place it under the cake pan.

Allow the cream cheese to reach room temperature before use so that it mixes smoothly. It will also help prevent the need to over-mix which can cause the cheesecake to cave in.

Whatever you do, do not open the oven until it is time to take it out. I know it’s tempting, but you just have to trust me on this one! It is imperative that the pan is put together correctly and a baking sheet is below the pan. Otherwise you may have to open the oven to clean up burned butter as the house fills with haze…yes, I learned this the hard way.

Don’t cover the cheesecake until it is totally cool to prevent condensation from collecting on top and don’t release the sides until it has set up for 3 hours in the fridge.

Vegan Nut-Free Granola

For those of us with food allergies, it can be really hard to find a nut-free granola. And if you’re avoiding animal products too, a vegan nut-free granola can be even tougher! Most anything on the store shelves, aside from a few “allergen free” brands is full of all sorts of tree nuts. Then again, when I look at the ingredient lists, I can’t help but think that maybe I’m better off not being able to have it at all. Although marketed as “health food”, granola is often chock full of sweeteners that hide in the labels. Things like brown rice syrup, tapioca syrup, barley malt syrup, and agave are all refined sugars, not to mention straight up cane sugar, brown sugar, and molasses.

nut-free granola

When I set out to make this Vegan Nut-Free Granola, my top two criteria were no nuts and no refined sugar. Nuts are easily substituted with seeds and for sweeteners, I only use raw honey or pure maple syrup. (Of course if your goal is to avoid animal products, skip the honey and go with syrup instead.) Yes, these are still forms of sugar and should be used in moderation, but as far as sweeteners go, honey and maple syrup are natural and unrefined.

One of my favorite things about this recipe is that it is super adaptable! The ingredients I use are:

  • Rolled oats
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Cloves
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Shredded coconut
  • Maple syrup
  • Coconut oil
  • Raisins

That being said, there are so many ways to mix it up based on what you have in the pantry. Other seed options would be flax or chia seeds. For dried fruit, you could substitute cherries or blueberries, or anything else without added sugar. (That’s why I don’t recommend dried cranberries, but if you don’t mind the sugar or have some without, they’d work great too.) Spices can be adjusted or swapped according to your flavor preferences and once the granola is cool, you could even add in a few mini dark chocolate chips. So go ahead, make it your own, and enjoy!

A perfect breakfast of nut-free granola with plain Greek yogurt

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Vegan Nut-Free Granola

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: breakfast, granola, low sugar, nut free, vegan
Servings: -1 1/4 cup scoops
Calories: 165kcal
Author: Rachel Alexandra

Ingredients

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ cup + 2 Tbsp raw pumpkin seeds
  • ¼ cup + 2 Tbsp raw sunflower seeds
  • ¼ cup raw flax seeds
  • ¼ cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • ¼ cup raw honey or pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup melted coconut oil
  • ½ cup unsweetened dried fruit

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 300°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl mix the oats, spices, and salt. Then add the seeds and coconut. When the dry ingredients are well combined, add the honey or syrup and coconut oil.
  • Spread the granola evenly on the baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Take out the pan and gently turn over the granola with a wooden spoon. At this time, you can add the dried fruit.
  • Bake for another 15 minutes, then remove from oven allow it cool and harden. Break up any big pieces and store in an airtight container for up to two weeks. Enjoy!
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