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Gingerbread Granola

Gingerbread Granola

We are back from our very short trip to Chicago, we got back late Monday night. It was a whirlwind of a trip, but it was super fun and totally successful on the business front. The holiday market was jammed packed with people and everyone was in such a festive holiday mood. I love that about this time of year.

When we are in Chicago we stay with good friends and it is so enjoyable and relaxing. We are so lucky to have so many amazing friends across the country that open their homes to us. It makes it feel like we took a trip to see and stay with family instead of the alternative of it feeling like the (somewhat) stressful work filled trip that it actually is. I really wish I had more time before we left for this trip to make cute little homemade gifts like this granola for our friends that we stayed with as a “thank you”. This granola would make a wonderful holiday gift for the cereal lover on your list and it would also be the perfect gift for the host or hostess that invites you by for a holiday party. This granola in a simple canning jar wrapped up with some sweet ribbon or twine with a little tag, it really doesn’t get any better. I wish I could also capture and bottle up the smell in the house after baking this and wrap that in a bow and give it to everyone I know. It was that good.

The only bad thing about coming home after traveling, is that the fridge is usually so empty when we return. I try to be smart and plan ahead so we don’t leave town with a ton of fresh produce or leftovers in the fridge, etc. But that also means that when we come home there is very little fresh food to eat and I need to find the time to get to the market. We are pretty busy with work right now, so I haven’t had the extra time to get groceries just yet, so we have been just making do with what we have on hand right now. I have been craving some holiday-inspired goodies, like crazy, so, I decided a fun and healthy way to get some holiday flavor in my life, is to make this gingerbread granola. It made the house smell amazing and it is a great breakfast and snack option. It would also be good sprinkled on top of greek yogurt or ice cream. I’ve been enjoying this granola for breakfast with a few glugs of almond milk or coconut milk (not the canned kind, the beverage kind from So Delicious).

I had blackstrap molasses on hand, so I used that, but feel free to use regular light or dark molasses if that is what you have. Since blackstrap molasses can have a bit of a bittersweet taste, I also added an additional 1/4 cup of coconut sugar. You could leave this off or substitute brown sugar or honey here if you are looking for a bit more sweetness, like I was. Blackstrap molasses is not only a healthier choice for a sweetener, it actually has some health benefits, which is a lot more than more sweeteners can say for themselves. Blackstrap molasses is high in iron and a variety of other minerals.

Is it bad that I want to wrap this granola up and give it to everyone on my list? It’s that good.

Do you plan to make homemade gifts food or otherwise for anyone on your list?

Gingerbread Granola


Gingerbread Granola

Gingerbread Granola

This made enough to fill two 1-quart canning jars

4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (if you are gluten intolerant, be sure these are certified gluten-free oats. I use Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 cup chia seeds (flax seeds would also be nice)
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
3/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped (or pecans, almonds, etc)
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup blackstrap molasses (light or dark molasses will also work)
1/4 cup coconut sugar (optional, you can also use brown sugar)
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 325ºF.
 Line large baking sheet with parchment paper. You can also use a roasting pan, which is nice since you can just mix all of the ingredients right in it, without losing things over the edge.
Combine all of your dry ingredients, oats, seeds, nuts, dried fruit etc., in a large bowl (or in your roasting pan). Add in your spices and salt. Mix well.
Pour the molasses and vanilla over the dry ingredients and stir until well coated. Let sit 5 to 10 minutes. Give the mixture a little taste and add the coconut sugar (or brown sugar) if it’s too bitter for you.

If you aren’t using a roasting pan, spread the granola on the baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes. Toss every 10 minutes or so to provide even toasting.

Let cool completely – it will get crispier as it cools. Keep in airtight container.

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Gluten-Free Mushroom Stuffing (Vegetarian)

Gluten-Free Mushroom Stuffing Muffins (Vegetarian)

When I found out I was going to be a part of Book of Yum’s Gluten-free Vegetarian Thanksgiving Event – I was so excited. This is the first time I have had the pleasure of participating in something like this, but I have wanted to ever since I started my blog a year and a half ago. This one felt like the perfect place for me. Although I am not exactly a traditional vegetarian, I consider myself to be a “conscientious omnivore”, meaning I only eat meat that I feel good about eating that comes from a local farmer where it is raised humanely, free to roam, eat pasture and not be filled with hormones or antibiotics.  We get all of our meat from Sojourner Farms in Olean, NY. This is the ONLY meat we ever have in our home and I feel like it is the right choice for us. We probably only eat meat anywhere from once a week to once a month at home, depending on what we have on hand and what we feel like. The rest of the time we eat completely vegetarian. I really love cooking vegetarian and find that eating a mostly vegetarian diet plus eating a small amount of local pasture-raised meat to have really changed my health immensely. I also feel like for me, it is a wonderful way for me to take a stand against the factory farming industry.

Sea, from Book of Yum, really wanted this event to not only make the transition into the first holiday season for newly diagnosed gluten-free folks to not seem so daunting, but to also highlight all of the wonderful options for those who are, or are cooking for those who are gluten-free and/or vegetarian (or vegan). Many of us find ourselves bringing our own food since many times the hosts are so terrified and paralyzed by what to cook, plus it alleviates the stress we have on wondering what we are even going to eat when we show up at someone else’s house. I love all of the wonderful recipes that have been featured so far, it’s such a great collection of classic dishes and new unique Thanksgiving options.

This year, like last, hubby and I are making the healthy and gluten-free Thanksgiving meal that we want and eating early in the day. After I get up and go to an early morning yoga class, while hubby takes our dog, Seri, to the park, we’ll spend the day cooking together, watching the parade and football and a enjoying a relaxing day at together at home without any work. After we are done eating, we will head over to my parent’s where they are having nearly 30 people for dinner (!) and we’ll join them for dessert, a cocktail or two and it will be the perfect way to have it all.

We took a nice long drive out to the country yesterday to pick up our Thanksgiving turkey from our farmer, Pierre, at Sojourner Farm in Olean. Since we will be having a turkey for our Thanksgiving dinner, I wanted to plan the rest of the meal without any meat. I was really excited to take on the challenge of making a meat free stuffing this year. So making it ahead of time for Book of Yum’s event was even more exciting since it was a test run of this recipe, for me. In the past I have sought out some type of healthy sausage to make my mom’s famous stuffing recipe that I had to have, but it always feels so redundant and unnecessary to have a side dish with meat in it, alongside the turkey. I really don’t need or want that much meat in one meal.

Gluten-Free Mushroom Stuffing Muffins (Vegetarian)

I decided on making mushrooms the stars of the stuffing this year. This delicious side dish is so full of rustic and earthy flavor, the mushrooms have a nice chewiness to them and the beautiful fresh thyme pulled it all together so nicely. Additionally, as you can see by the above photos, I also decided to experiment with making little individual stuffing “muffins”, if you will. I dreamt this up as a way to make sure that everyone gets lots of the crispy goodness that makes stuffing so darn delicious. Come on, admit it, you’ve gotten into with a family member on Thanksgiving over who get’s the edges. In our house, my hubby usually gets the crispy edges on anything that has them, by default. If you don’t care about the crispies (as my husband calls it) or don’t want to mess with a muffin tin, this will perfectly fit into a 9″ x 13″ baking pan. I ended up having a little bit leftover after filling the 12 muffin cups, that I put into a very small glass casserole dish. I didn’t want to call this recipe “Stuffing Muffins”, as I feared it would turn people off, since it does sound pretty disgusting, really. Even if you don’t try the stuffing “muffin” approach for this Thanksgiving, you have to try it soon, it is so worth it and I honestly cannot believe I didn’t think of it sooner.

This stuffing does have two eggs in it, so if you are vegan you could experiment with an egg replacer such as Ener-G or making your own flax-seed egg replacer (To replace one egg: 1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds plus 3 tablespoons hot water. Stir together until thick and gelatinous.) I have never made my stuffing vegan, but I am sure it would work perfectly. Please let me know if you try it out. Additionally, you will obviously have to make sure the bread you use is vegan.

Besides being very excited about how this recipe turned out, I am also very excited that I get to have stuffing twice in a week’s time, that isn’t a bad deal at all. Stuffing is one of my favorite things about Thanksgiving dinner, I don’t think I have it any other time during the year, so it always feels so special. Between that and the mashed potatoes, those are two things that will NEVER be missing from my Thanksgiving menu. For my husband, Mark, I always have to make him a single-serving of his Momo’s famous sweet potato casserole, complete with an ungodly amount of butter, brown sugar and yes, it is even topped with marshmallows. It’s not for me, but I can totally appreciate how it won’t be Thanksgiving for Mark without it, so I will always make it for him.

What dish will always be a part of your Thanksgiving dinner?

Gluten-Free Mushroom Stuffing Muffins (Vegetarian)

Gluten-Free Mushroom Stuffing Muffins (Vegetarian)
Gluten-Free Mushroom Stuffing (Vegetarian)
serves 6-8

1 loaf of gluten-free bread, dried and roughly torn into small pieces (I used a loaf of Rudi’s all natural gluten-free multigrain bread, you can use your favorite bread)
1 – 1 1/2 cups mushroom broth, vegetable broth or water
1 medium onion, finely chopped or grated
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
8 ounces fresh cremini mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 cup wild mushrooms, fresh or reconstituted from dried, roughly chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, roughly chopped
2 large farm fresh brown eggs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Crumble or tear the dried bread into small pieces and place into a 9″ x 13″ glass baking pan. Wet the bread with enough broth or water so it starts to get soft, but you don’t want it insanely soggy, either. If you add too much liquid, just pour it out. Mix with eggs, mushrooms, onions, celery, herbs, olive oil and salt and pepper. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty, roll your sleeves up and just get your hands in there to mix it all up, it’s the only way to do it. Once everything is evenly mixed in you can either leave it in the baking pan and bake it as is or start scooping with your hands, an ice cream scoop or a large spoon into a greased non-stick muffin pan. (I greased mine with a very small amount of vegetable shortening). If it doesn’t all fit into the muffin pan, scoop the remainder into a small glass casserole dish.

Place the glass pan or the muffin tin into the oven and bake for 45 minutes to an hour until the top(s) are browned and crispy. Let the stuffing “muffins” cool slightly before attempting to pop them out of the muffin tin and don’t worry if they don’t come out like a perfect muffin shape, most of mine didn’t, some even fell apart a little. Don’t worry, it’s stuffing, its rustic and it isn’t about the shape and look of them, it is all about the crispies!

Enjoy.

NOTE: since I didn’t want to dry my bread overnight or for a day or so, I placed the sliced loaf in a single layer on a baking pan in the oven at 200º for about an hour to dry it out.

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Hey everyone – just wanted to give you an update on life right now and also check in with you all before Thanksgiving. We were in New York City at the end of last week for the opening of a gallery show of our work in Brooklyn, we attended Creative Mornings in D.U.M.B.O. with swissmiss and Jessi Harrington and we had another meeting with our clients at the Metropolitan Museum of Art regarding a new project in a few weeks. It was a very busy and very inspiring trip to the city, as usual. I love going there.

In addition to our usual stop for dinner at Risotteria in Greewich Village, my favorite gluten-free restaurant in the city, I also accidentally stumbled upon Fabiane’s Cafe and Pastry shop on Bedford Ave and N. 5th St. in Williamsburg, on our way out-of-town. We stopped to grab a quick morning bite plus some coffee and tea. I assumed that the best I could get would be some type of egg dish, so I ordered at the counter what turned out to be a delicious organic baked egg dish with smoked salmon and potato and went to sit down. Once I sat down at our table, I looked up and saw a HUGE gluten-free menu that I didn’t see while standing at the counter, the menu included gluten-free waffles, french toast and so much more. I didn’t change my meal, but I changed my side of toast to be gluten-free and started eyeing up the pastry case for a road-trip treat, which was also loaded with beautiful gluten-free goodies. Besides all of the breakfast and pastry options, Fabiane will also make any of their sandwiches with gluten-free bread. I couldn’t believe I had never heard of this place before. They make all of the baked goods right there and each and everything was absolutely delicious. The toast was some of the most delicious gluten-free bread I had every tried. I, of course, had to snag a gluten-free banana chocolate chip muffin from the pastry case for the car ride, because I didn’t think I could sit 6 hours in the car and not salivate thinking about all of the sweets I had just seen.

One final gluten-free friendly restaurant recommendation, if you find yourself in Brooklyn, is Caracas, a Venezuelan Arepas bar in Williamsburg that I have fallen in love with. We’ve been there a handful of times this year. Caracas is very knowledgable about gluten intolerances and arepas are naturally gluten-free, so I can indulge guilt-free, enjoying each and every bite with confidence. In addition to arepas, they also have a bunch of other traditional authentic Venezuelan treats like empanadas, tostones, etc and they have a wonderful cocktail menu, the dark and stormy is my favorite!

As usual, I am always happy for a trip to the city, to get that rush of inspiration, the surge of creativity and just an overall feeling of being alive. There really is nothing like it. I love the people, the food and the hustle. Of course, I also love coming home to my own kitchen, my healthy food and my own bed. I definitely realize for as much as I like the pace of New York, I also really appreciate the serene quiet of my life and more importantly I love having a kitchen that allows me to create huge meals. I think if I were to ever move to NYC, sucking it up and having a tiny kitchen may be the biggest sacrifice and toughest challenge for me. When we got home Saturday afternoon, we just made do with what we had in the pantry and then I woke up yesterday morning and headed to the grocery store to stock up for the week. Last night I made a big pot of my tortilla soup and a new version of my apple crisp. I cannot wait to share both of those recipes with you guys. I plan to make lots of other fun dishes this week, but I also need to start thinking about my Thanksgiving menu for next week. I am working on a plan for what I am going to serve and hopefully making a few dishes ahead of time, so I can share them with you all.

I wanted to ask you guys if there are any dishes that you wanted recipes for before your Thanksgiving? If it is your first gluten-free holiday, it can seem a bit overwhelming and I’d like to help however I can. There are hundreds or probably thousands of recipes online for anything you can think of for your Thanksgiving dinner, made gluten-free. Is there something specific you are looking for? Need some suggestions for healthy dessert options or a way to make your mom’s famous stuffing gluten-free? My mom’s stuffing is the one things I was devastated about no longer being able to eat. It actually saddened me. I have managed to be able to enjoy it every single Thanksgiving since I found out I was gluten intolerant, so believe me when I say, if there is a dish you love I am sure it is possible to make it gluten-free!

What are your favorite Thanksgiving dishes? What is the one dish that you cannot go without on Thanksgiving? Do you try to make your Thanksgiving healthy or do you allow yourself a day of indulging on all the things you never have?

Here are a few of my favorite fall dishes that would be great for any Thanksgiving feast. Look for more this week and next and please let me know if there are any other recipes that you’d like to see.

Arugula, Fennel and Orange Salad
Arugula, Fennel and Orange Salad


Gluten-free Vegan Apple Cobbler
Gluten-free Vegan Apple Cobbler


Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Bread with Crystallized Ginger and Walnuts
Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Bread with Crystallized Ginger and Walnuts

Apple Spice Cake

Gluten-Free Apple Spice Cake


Chewy Pumpkin Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (Gluten-Free)
Chewy Pumpkin Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (Gluten-Free)


Spicy Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas with Pine Nuts
Spicy Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas with Pine Nuts


Rosemary Roasted Butternut Squash

Rosemary Roasted Butternut Squash

Flourless Carrot Cake
Flourless Carrot Cake


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Gluten-Free Cheddar and Green Onion Cornbread

Sautéed Brussel Sprouts with Toasted Walnuts and Cranberries

Sautéed Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Walnuts and Dried Currants

Cilantro Lime Sweet Potatoes with Honey
Cilantro Lime Sweet Potatoes with Honey


Tofu, Wild Rice and Hazelnut Stuffed Acorn Squash

Tofu, Wild Rice and Hazelnut Stuffed Acorn Squash


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