Mushroom Turnovers

IMG_0799When I was in Junior High, a group of my girlfriends and I were into having dinner parties. We took turns hosting, dressed up and made a fancy meal complete with dessert for everyone. It was fun, each host making different meals, decorating the table, and trying new things.

On the evening that I hosted I, wanting to ensure everyone could enjoy what I was making, checked with the girls in regards to any allergies and/ or dislikes. Interestingly, they all came back with a resounding, “We don’t like mushrooms”. I clarified whether this was a dislike or an allergy and when they confirmed it was simply a dislike, I secretly smiled.

I had found this fabulous recipe for mushroom turnovers which I was dying to try and since they weren’t allergic to it… I made them and served them as the appetizer, saying nothing about what was in them. They LOVED them! No one noticing at all that it was mushrooms that they were eating. They thought it was ground beef.

After we were done the appetizer I then revealed to them that they had actually eaten mushrooms and no ground beef was present whatsoever. They were surprised (and thankfully not mad), and we went on to enjoy the rest of our meal and evening (which I have no idea what the rest of the meal was).

Needless to say, this recipe became a family classic in my  house. My Mum and sisters using it over the years for many events and parties. My Mum often has 4 dozen or more in the freezer at Christmas, ready to pull out and heat up whenever we want snacks or guests pop by. I have adopted the same philosophy and you’ll easily find turnovers (and other goodies) in my freezer this time of year.

The original recipe does contain dairy, calling for cream cheese and sour cream, but I have been able to adapt the recipe. Using vegan cream cheese and vegan sour cream they are still just as fabulous! (which having had the original I can fairly compare)

Mushroom Turnovers

Pastry:wpid-CreamCheese31-318x348

9 oz. vegan cream cheese

1/2 c. Earth Balance vegan spread

1 1/2c. flour

In a medium bowl, cream vegan cream cheese and Earth Balance. Add the flour and work with fingers or a pastry blender until smooth. Chill well for at least 30 minutes.

Filling:

3 tbsp. Earth Balance vegan spread

1 large onion, finely choppedwpid-SourCream3-318x270

*1/2 lb. mushrooms, finely chopped

1/4 tsp. thyme

1/2 tsp. sea salt

pinch black pepper

2 tbsp. flour

1/4 c. vegan sour cream

In a skillet, melt the Earth Balance. Add onion and brown lightly. Then add mushrooms and cook, stirring often about 3 minutes.

Add the thyme, salt and pepper and sprinkle with flour. Stir in sour cream and cook until gently thickened.

Preheat the oven to 450F. Roll the pastry dough to 1/8″ thickness on a lightly floured surface. Using a biscuit cutter, cut into 3″ round circles.2585_enlarge

Place a teaspoon of mushroom filling on each circle and fold over so that the edges touch. Press the edges together using fingers and prick the tops to allow for steam to escape.

Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes.

*To finely chop mushrooms I use a food chopper from The Pampered Chef. This makes it quick and easy to get them to the right size.

Makes about 3 dozen

Spooky Halloween Appetizers – Bat Bites

halloween appetizersOne of the things that I have enjoyed about Halloween over the past few years is the unique fun recipes that I have discovered. Now when I say unique and fun I mean ways of taking healthy food and making it into something Halloween themed.

I know I could have been doing this years ago, but since eliminating sugar and going to a sugar free Halloween, my focus has shifted to seeking these things out. I wanted to take the focus off the sugar fest at Halloween and show the kids the other fun aspect of things, like the decorating, festivities and food.

As a result I have made things like Boo-nanas and Apple Bites, which are banana ghosts and ghoulish looking smiles with teeth. I have found veggie platters made into skeletons and this year Bat Bites!

healthy halloween snacks

Apple Bites

These I think are by far the most fun yet. They are made from goat cheese, cream cheese and pesto (of which I have all non dairy substitutions for) and they are not only easy to make but look super cool. These treats are likely more for the adult crowd as some kids may not like the tastes and texture of them.

The trick was when do I make them? Luckily I had planned a wine and cheese for my neighbors and friends very close to Halloween, so I was able to try them out. Of course they were a hit! People loved them, not only how they looked but how they tasted as well.

So if you’d like to get a little creative this Halloween with your eats definitely give these a try! And there are all kinds of ideas out there. Hop on the net and Google it to find a variety of ideas to fit every taste bud.

Bat Bites

4 oz. vegan cream cheese

8 oz. soft mild goat cheese

1/4 c. pesto

2 tbsp. coarsely ground pepper

2 tbsp.poppy seeds

8 pitted olives, sliced

32 triangular corn chips (I just used Tostitos and broke them into smaller triangles)

Mix together cream cheese, goat cheese and pesto. Chill for 40 minutes.

Shape mixture into 16 2 inch balls, about 1 heaping tsp. each. Mix pepper and poppy seeds together in a bowl. Roll balls in poppy seed mixture to cover. Press olives into ball for eyes and insert chips on either side for wings.

healthy halloween snacks

Boo-nanas

Happy Halloween!

Pumpkin Cheesecake – Absolutely to die for!

It’s coming… Thanksgiving and all things pumpkin! Big feasts, meals with friends and did I mention pumpkin? I love pumpkin and all things related to it, especially pumpkin pie. And Thanksgiving seems to be the only time of year that I make or get some.

Of course with any pie you can make any kind any time you want. But I seem to fall into the  times of the year when they are most prominent, as I imagine do many of us. So though I love pumpkin pie and it is my favorite, I do only get it once a year.

Every year at Thanksgiving I decide I am going to try a new pumpkin recipe, as my sister often makes things like pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin tarts and pumpkin cheesecake. And though I love to branch out and try new things I tend to fall back to my pie. What can I say? It seems just wrong to not have it.

This year I truly did branch out and I made a pumpkin cheesecake for the first time. Not specifically for Thanksgiving, because of course I will make pie, but around the right time 🙂 I found a recipe on Pinterest that looked really good and thought that I would try it.

Being dairy free I thought that I would just have to avoid cheesecake altogether. During the summer my friend decided to try a tofu chocolate cheesecake, which gave me hope. I thought that it would prove to be quite good. Not so much. Though not terrible we both agreed that we would not make it again. Then, I remembered that they make non dairy cream cheese and I had tried it before and liked it, so why not just substitute that into a regular cheesecake recipe? This got me very excited so I went to work.

After I got over just how much cream cheese this recipe called for; I went out got the ingredients and looked at what other substitutions I needed to make. The crust was a bit of a challenge as it called for graham wafers, but I came up with a solution using almond mash leftover from making almond milk, as I had done something similar making a pie before. I substituted coconut sugar for the sugar and then of course the non dairy cream cheese and sour cream (yes this recipe called for sour cream which was another reason why this particular cheesecake recipe intrigued me).

Now this recipe is not one that you can just whip up and have ready in an hour. In fact when I finally went to make it I looked at the recipe, and in reading it more closely almost aborted the whole idea. It was a lot of time, a number of steps and would not be fully ready until the next day (as when it was finished baking you had to let it sit in the fridge overnight).

Let me tell you it is totally worth it! This cheescake is absolutely fabulous, moist, creamy and flavourful. All the kids asked for a second piece and D’Wayne looked like he was in heaven. It was absolutely delicious! I think Matthew even licked his plate and then asked for a third piece of cheesecake (to which of course I said no).

So if you are a fan of cheesecake and even a remote fan of pumpkin this recipe is worth the time and effort put into it. And the nice thing is, dairy free, sugar free, gluten free all equals guilt free and will impress every one of your guests this Thanksgiving.

Or you could just go with plain old pie

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Crust:

12 tablespoons Earth Balance vegan spread

2 1/2 c. almond mash (leftover from making almond milk)

1/4 c. coconut sugar

dash of salt

Cheesecake:

4 – 8 oz. vegan cream cheese

1/4 c. vegan sour cream

2 1/2 c. coconut sugar

15 oz. canned pumpkin

6 eggs, lightly beaten

1 tbsp. vanilla

1 tsp. sea salt

2 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ginger

1/4 tsp. cloves

Postion rack in center of oven. Preheat to 325 F.

Brush a 10 inch springform pan with 1 tbsp. of Earth Balance. In a bowl, stir the remaining Earth Balance in with almond mash, coconut sugar and a pinch of salt. Press mixture into bottom of pan and up the sides. Bake until golden brown about 15-20 minutes.

Cool on a rack, then wrap outside of pan in tin foil and place in a roasting pan.

In a large mixing bowl beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add coconut sugar and beat until just light. Add sour cream, then pumpkin, eggs, vanilla, 1 tsp. sea salt and spices and until just combined. Pour into cooled crust.

Gently place roasting pan into oven (do not pull the rack out). Pour boiling water into roaster until water is about half way up springform pan. Bake until the outside of cheesecake is set but the center is still loose, about 1 h 45 min. Turn off the oven and open the door briefly to let out some heat.

Close oven door and let cheesecake sit for 1 more hour. Carefully remove from roasting pan and let cool on rack. Run a knife around the edges, cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.