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Friday, October 28, 2011

Halloween Recipe Winner #2... Organic Pumpkin Cheesecake Squares



pumpkin+cheesecake

The bats are flapping their leathery wings against the Autumn breeze which carries the distant howl of a werewolf. Meanwhile, in an ancient castle teetering menacingly on a jagged cliff, a congregation of witches, ghouls and beasts guzzle down potions from bubbling cauldrons and laboratory beakers and dance the night away to the grizzly musical stylings of a five-piece jazz band of the undead. Children hop up and down neighborhood streets dressed as goblins, super heroes and troubled celebrities, all on a mission to seek out the one thing that can placate their mischievous nature on this Halloween night.... SWEETS!

Come the 31st of October, I know my sweet tooth gets extra sharp and my eyes get wide for anything of the sugary persuasion. So I ask you, what better to sooth this savage beast than the creamy, spicy, & perfectly crumbly 2nd winner of our Halloween Recipe Challenge: Organic Pumpkin Cheesecake Squares? That is of course a rhetorical question, the answer being... dreamy eyed, slack jawed awe.



This recipe was shared with us by Carrie, a lovely customer from our Lassens store in Thousand Oaks. Not only was this recipe so absolutely mouth watering, but it is SO easy to make!


pumpkin+cheesecake

Organic Pumpkin Cheesecake Squares

INGREDIENTS
For the Crust:
1 cup flour (try Arrowhead Mills organic flour or do what I did and add ½ cup regular flour and ½ cup, you guessed it, Bob's Red Mill coconut flour, which adds a new dimension of soft texture and heavenly aroma )
1/4 cup brown sugar (I used Wholesome Sweeteners organic dark brown sugar)
1 stick butter (try Organic Valley unsalted cultured butter OR for a reduced fat option, 6 tablespoons of applesauce with 2 tablespoons Earth Balance natural buttery spread, which incidentally has come to permanently replace butter in my kitchen)
1/2 cup raw chopped walnuts (Lassens has great deals on delicious bulk nuts)

Filling:
8 oz. cream cheese (Organic Valley cream cheese is organic and delectable)
1/2 cup sugar (I used Wholesome Sweeteners organic sugar)
2 eggs (try Organic Valley organic cage-free eggs)
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (try Farmers Market Organic canned pumpkin or puree one of our organic pumpkin pie pumpkins yourself!)
1 tsp vanilla (try Simply Organics pure vanilla extract)
1/4 tsp nutmeg (try Frontier organic nutmeg)
1/2 tsp cinnamon (try Frontier organic cinnamon)
1/2 tsp ginger (try Spice Hunter organic ginger... or if you're cabinet space it getting limited, Spice Hunter's pumpkin pie spice blend makes as a great all-in-one option and it's great to go in just about anything that you want to make festive: from coffee to ice cream)

BAKING DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
To make the crust, blend ingredients in food processor until a ball forms. It's really tempting to go to town on that ball of dough before you get a chance to make the cheesecake portion, but if you have the determination and restraint, I suggest you hold out because the more crust on this desert, the more scrumptious. Press ball into 8x8 pan and bake for 15 - 20 minutes. Let crust cool.

Blend filling ingredients until smooth. Pour mixture over cooled crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until set. Let cool and cut into squares and enjoy!

This recipe can be adapted easily for vegans by substituting
  • CREAM CHEESE with a dairy free cream cheese such as Follow Your Heart's vegan cream cheese
  • EGGS with flax or chia seed gel which can be made by adding 1Tb ground seed to 3Tb hot water. This = 1 large egg
  • BUTTER as I mentioned before with applesauce and Earth Balance natural buttery spread. We also have several other delicious vegan butter alternatives including Earth Balance coconut oil buttery spread (which I can't wait to try!)
pumpkin+cheesecake

Present this dish in lovely bite sized squares to your guests this Halloween and watch how, like magic, they disappear!

We are also now taking entries for our Thanksgiving Recipe Challenge! We're looking for the most unique and savory options for traditional, gluten-free and vegan Thanksgiving feasts! If you'd like to enter (and I sincerely hope you will), click on the link above of the Lassens store which you frequent most often. The link will take you to the Lassens facebook where you can share your recipe (and any pictures that you'd like for me to feature on this blog) right on the Lassens facebook wall. The winning recipes will be featured on this blog as well as in each Lassens location as FREE recipe cards for all of our Lassens customers to try and enjoy.

I hope you all have a safe, happy and healthy Halloween!



Saturday, October 8, 2011

Halloween Winner #1 Crust-less Coconut Pumpkin Pie

Our first of three winners for our Halloween recipe challenge is a customer from our store in Simi Valley by the name of Kelly. Kelly was kind enough to share with us her delicious recipe for Crust-less Coconut Pumpkin Pie. Your first thought might be “pumpkin... and coconut? Why would I do that?!”. I answer your question with another question; why wouldn't you do that?! Let me explain exactly why you should pretty much try to integrate coconut into everything you can, including pumpkin!


 Before I started getting into health food, coconuts were the packing peanut-like filler on the inside of an Almond Joy. That was where my knowledge and taste tolerance hit its wall. Several years down the line, with my intellectual sledgehammer poised to strike, I proceeded onto the road down exciting truths and even more exciting tastes. Coconuts, as it turns out, are full to the brim with health benefits. Containing anti-viral, anti- fungal and anti-bacterial properties, coconut has been used in many cultures as a remedy for serious illness and diseases. Coconuts have been linked to fighting against parasites, ulcers, infections as well as yielding many weight loss properties. for more information on coconut health properties. please visit http://www.coconutresearchcenter.org.
    
     My first real experience with coconut; the taste sensation, was when Jamie, our amazing supplement manager in Thousand Oaks, bought me a fresh, young coconut. She punctured a whole in the top, presented me with a straw and said “drink”. I was instantly surprised at how much I liked it's very different but delicious taste. Since the moment I tasted that pure, light and refreshing coconut water straight from the source, I knew that my whole concept of coconuts had been lacking. Since that day my kitchen has been transformed into a coconut laboratory. Coconut milk (of course), coconut oil, coconut butter, coconut sugar, and I assure you, then next coconut item that comes into Lassens already has home in my cabinet.

      When I saw that a recipe for coconut pumpkin pie was submitted on our Simi Valley Facebook page, my heart and stomach jumped for joy! Anyone who knows me knows how festive I am. If I could eat nothing but pumpkins in October I would, simply for the Autumn feeling of it. Coconut pumpkin pie merges my love for coconuts and Fall festivities!
Kelly, you angel!

And now, 
Crust-less Coconut Pumpkin Pie

coconut+pumpkin+pie

Ingredients
15 oz or 1 can organic pumpkin puree (I used Farmers Market Organic canned pumpkin)
3/4 cup organic coconut milk (SoDelicous organic unsweetened coconut milk is the best way to go)
2 Tb organic coconut flour (try Bob’s Red Mill organic high fiber coconut flour. I usually put this in any baking I do. It has a really soft texture and it smells amazing.)
2 eggs (try Organic Valley organic cage-free eggs)
3 Tb coconut sugar (I used Earth Circle Organics coconut sugar crystals. This was my first experience with coconut sugar. It has that same sort of effect that the coconut flour has that when you smell it, your eye lids get heavy and little cherubs and hearts start flying around your head.)
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (I used Spice Hunter salt-free pumpkin pie spice blend)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (try Simply Organics pure vanilla extract)
Pure stevia to taste (try Lassens brand stevia)
Pinch of sea salt (I used Redmond Real Salt fine sea salt)
All of these items are available at Lassen's stores


coconut+pumpkin+pie

It turns out i didn't need the Earth Balance natural buttery spread, but he's such a staple in my 
cooking that he decided to make an appearance anyway!

Directions

Starting with ¼ cup of coconut milk (save the rest to add later), slowly mix in all of the ingredients into a medium size sauce pan. The mixture gets pretty thick so gradually mix in the rest of the milk as needed. Make sure that you keep scraping the sides to make sure that the eggs do not start to cooking onto the bottom.
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coconut+pumpkin+pie

 The whole process takes around 15 minutes tops. Once it has obtained the right consistency (and you'll know, it's pumpkin pie!) Scoop the mixture into four souffle cups. Here's where you can get fancy. If you can't wait any longer and the smell is too tempting, DIVE IN! 

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coconut+pumpkin+pie
However, if you can hold out a couple minutes more, turn on your ovens broiler and sprinkle some more coconut sugar on to the top of your souffle cups. Put them under the broiler for a couple of minutes until the pie starts bubbling and the sugar melts. Let them cool for a moment and then enjoy!

With my pumpkin scented candles flickering and illuminating the walls and Dave Brubeck's “Take Five” crackling from the speakers on my record player, this was the prefect treat on a cool October evening.

Thank you Kelly for sharing this recipe! I hope many people get to try it and enjoy it!
Next week I will reveal the second winner of our Halloween / Autumn challenge!


And Remember, November is around the bend so start thinking about your favorite traditional, vegan and/or gluten-free Thanksgiving recipes that you might like to share for this months Thanksgiving Recipe Challenge, due November 1st!

I hope you enjoy this recipe and have a beautiful October weekend!