Friday, January 21, 2011

Vegan Gluten Free Chocolate Cheesecake

This cheesecake was a real treat for me and for my sisters who also have various allergies. The texture was rich and creamy and the fudge sauce made this taste very chocolate-y. Photo credit to Rachel Grace Photography

Vegan and Gluten Free Chocolate Cheesecake
Adapted from epicurious by Rachel Armstrong and Sarah Viera 

For the crust:
about 1 1/4 cups of Mom's Coconut Nut Granola *(for those with nut allergies just leave the nuts out of the granola)
1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Pulse granola in a food processer until course like crushed graham crackers but don't over do it. Then add the chocolate chips and pulse again until the mixture is well incorporated.

Press mixture into the bottom of a cheesecake pan. It was helpful to use the back of a glass. We found that the granola was plenty "sticky" with the coconut oils in the recipe and the chocolate, however, if you are finding the mixture too crumbly and not sticking add 1 Tbs. of your favorite fat (melted coconut oil, Earth Balance, ect...). Set aside and make filling.

For the filling:
2 1/4 cups sugar (divided)
1/3 cup water
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 (1-pound packages) silken tofu, DRAINED
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 (8 oz) containers of soy cream cheese at room tempurature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 

Step one:
Heat 1 cup of sugar in heavy sauce pan over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon to heat sugar evenly. When the sugar starts to melt stop stirring. Swirl the pan occasionally so the sugar melts evenly, until it is a dark amber. Remove from heat and carefully stir in 1/3 cup water (mixture will bubble up and steam and caramel will harden), then cook over medium-low heat, stirring until the caramel has dissolved. Remove from heat and whisk in the chocolate chips until smooth. Cool.

Step two:
Puree the tofu and cocoa in a food processor until smooth. Beat the soy cream cheese and remaining 1 1/4 cups of sugar with a mixer at medium-high speed until fluffy. At low speed, beat in tofu puree, vanilla, salt and fudge sauce until incorporated. Pour filling into pan with pressed crust and bake about 1 hour. Turn off the oven and leave cake in for an hour more. Chill for at least 6 hours before serving. Can be made up to 3 days ahead and chilled.

*While oats are a naturally gluten free food some people with gluten sensitivites may also have oat sensitivites because they may be processed with wheat products. Make sure you get "gluten free" oats to ensure no reactions or consider using an alternative like millet or a gluten free rice cereal in place of oats. I cannot attest to the taste of those substitutions. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mom's Coconut Nut Granola

This is so tasty! I had to dig this recipe up because while I was visiting with my lovely family in North Carolina I made a Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake with my lovely sisters and we used the granola as a crust. I will be posting the Cheesecake recipe soon, but you'll need a batch of this yumminess to make it so make some for your breakfasts first!

Mom's Coconut Nut Granola
by (my mom) Shery Armstrong

Place in a large bowl and mix together:
8 cups old fashioned rolled oats (I like using the thick cut)
1 cup raw sliced almonds
2 cups other nuts and seeds coarsely chopped (pecans and walnuts are our favorites. I’ve used sunflower seeds too)
2 cups coconut, shredded or minced (I buy this w/ no added sugar, organic in 5# bags)
2 to 4 teaspoons cinnamon (optional)

In at least a two cup liquid measuring cup melt ½ cup coconut oil in microwave. Add ½ cup vegetable oil of your choice. Then add 1 cup of sweetener (I use ¾ c. agave and ¼ cup honey, but have tried using a bit of molasses w/ honey which was good too) and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Mix this all up well with a fork or whisk, pour over oat mixture. Mix well with large spoon. Pour onto 2 large pans that have been greased, evenly spreading mixture (I use two broiler pans or three regular sized cookie sheets). Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes. Stir well. Replace pans, rotating pans on racks and close oven door. Turn off oven wait 25 minutes. Remove granola from oven and cool completely before adding any dried fruit you’d like and placing in air tight container or plastic bags.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

French Onion Slow Cooker Pork Tenderloin

French Onion Slow Cooker Pork Tenderloin (cook now or freeze for later!)
Printer Friendly Version by

This is one of my favorite quick fix meals! It is incredibly tasty and true warm comfort food on a cool winter night. Try mashed potatoes with this and pour plenty of the juices over it!

1 (2 #) pork tenderloin
1 cup water
¾ cup red wine
5 cloves minced garlic
3 Tbs. low sodium soy sauce
2 Tbs. dried onion
1 tsp. celery seed
1 tsp. kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste

To cook now:
Place pork in the slow cooker. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over the top of the roast. Cover and cook on low setting for 4 hours. Serve with the liquid on the side as a sauce.

To cook later:
Place pork in a gallon freezer bag. Pour sauce over the pork and seal the bag. Freeze with instructions “thaw completely, cook in slow cooker 4 hrs. on low”.

Gluten Free Banana Bread

Gluten Free, Dairy Free Pecan-Banana Bread
Adapted from Blackbird Bakery Gluten Free by

This bread is amazing! So sweet and moist. You would never guess that it is made without gluten and dairy. The roasted ripe banana’s make this bread super sweet and very special. If you love Banana Bread, you will adore this recipe.

4 very ripe bananas
1 ½ cup Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose gluten-free flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ cup Earth Balance vegan buttery spread
2 large eggs
⅔ cup almond milk “buttermilk” (fill ⅔ cup measure almost to the top and pour in about 1-2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar to make a mock buttermilk)
2 tsp. vanilla
⅔ cup chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Arrange the  unpeeled bananas on a baking sheet and pierce them 6 times each. Roast the bananas for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Squeeze out the fruit from the skins into a bowl and mash with a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon until there are no large clumps.

In a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt and mix on low to blend. Add the Earth Balance and continue to mix on low. Add the eggs and mix on medium speed until smooth. Reduce the speed to low and add the buttermilk, and gradually bring the mixer up to high speed until the batter is light and fluffy, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the banana pulp, vanilla and the pecans and stir to blend.

Grease a loaf pan by rubbing it with canola oil or Earth Balance (give it a good coating of grease to prevent the loaf from sticking). Poor the batter into the prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees for an hour and fifteen minutes. Cool for 10-15 minutes and then run a knife along the sides of the pan and un-mold the loaf onto a cooling rack. Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing.

To freeze, simply cover in aluminum foil and then place in a freezer bag and freeze for up to one month.

Meal Plans and Freezer Cooking

It has been a while since I have shared my meal plans. I have been doing freezer meals for about 5 months now and I have enjoyed this new way of cooking and planning very much. It has been a bit challenging to find foods that the whole family can and will eat but with a few months of practice I feel like I'm getting the swing of this thing.

First off, here is a meal planning printable from Disney Family Fun

This is a great tool to help you keep your family on track with healthy and complete meals. I like to plan out my freezer cooking recipes, then check out the current sales at Publix to decide on side dishes and things like breakfast, lunch and snacks. 

I also found this cool menu planning tip from This Week For Dinner

This one I love because you can print it, frame it (she suggests an inexpensive Ikea frame) and then use a dry erase marker to fill in the days and start fresh the next week without printing it out over and over again. You could even hang it on the fridge with magnetic strips if you find the right frame. What a great and cool way to stay on top of your plan.

As I get ready to start my first full time semester at College I am really trying to get ultra organized. This is the only way that I feel I can still provide home-cooked meals and keep myself and my family on a healthy diet. My planning usually looks like this:

It's almost payday. I need to stock my fridge/freezer. Let's look through my recipes and see what is looking yummy and in season.

I find about 8-10 recipes with a variety of foods like fish, poultry, beef, pork and vegetarian (even vegan as I am now trying to eat almost no dairy). I make sure to find recipes that correspond to sale pricing and then build my freezer menu.

This month this is the plan that I used and so far it is going great:

A batch of Gluten Free Pancakes to freeze for me

A batch of Alton's Pancakes for the kids and Hubby

A loaf of Banana bread

Frozen fruit and protein powder smoothies

Bagel's and English Muffins



Grilled Cheese

Chicken Tenders (homemade)

Bean Burritos (El Montaray, still haven't figured out how to make homemade taste that good)

Vegan Enchiladas (Left overs frozen from dinner)

Ham Chowder (I had frozen after Christmas using leftover Hone Baked Ham)

Salami Sandwiches (Gluten free, yeast free bread on hand)



Spicy Chicken Cordon Blue served with roasted broccoli and mashed potatoes

Sweet Asian Chicken (Fix, Freeze, Feast) Served with rice and sugar snap peas with a mandarin and almond salad

Pineapple Teriyaki Chicken served with rice and roasted green beans or sauteed kale with garlic

Steak Skewers with blue cheese dipping sauce (from Fix, Freeze, Feast) served with roasted asparagus and popovers (Gluten free recipe from Blackbird Bakery Cookbook)

Cilantro Lime Pork Tacos served with beans 

Chicken Sausage Jambalaya served with grape salad and cornbread

BBQ Onion Crusted Catfish served with rice and sauteed kale with pepitas and craisins

Vegan Potato and Kale Enchiladas served with beans

Vegan Moussaka served with greek salad

French Onion Slow Cooker Pork Tenderloin served with roasted potatoes and sauteed kale

Roasted Chicken served with baked potatoes and corn

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