Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

I thought everyone would be over butternut squash by this point, but I was wrong! I took a poll on my Instagram page last week to decide between Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta and butternut squash soup, and it resulted in a tie. Since I couldn’t possibly let half of you down, here’s the recipe for one of my favorite fall soups, just in time for #soupsunday!

A couple reasons I love this recipe: it takes less than 30 minutes to make, and you don’t have to spend any time stirring a pot or dirtying extra dishes! It’s vegan, but is so wonderfully creamy and filling, you’d never know it. You can use whatever broth you have on hand, but I used vegetable broth to keep this soup vegan. It’s perfect paired with a kale salad or some avocado toast for dinner, and reheats nicely for weekday lunches.

I was extra excited to make this soup today because of my new found affinity for crispy sage leaves. It’s not fall without the inclusion of sage in every vegetable dish, am I right? Taking the extra few minutes to “fry” some of these fuzzy little herbs in ghee to top your soup will result in a delicious and beautiful garnish for your roasted butternut squash soup.

bssoup1

 

bssoup2
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Makes 4-6 servings

6 C butternut squash, diced

1 T olive oil

Salt & pepper

2 C leeks, roughly chopped

5 cloves garlic, roasted

2 1/2 C vegetable broth

1 C full-fat coconut milk

1/4 t crushed red pepper (optional)

Garnishes for soup- pomegranate seeds, crispy sage leaves, pepitas, etc.

bssoup3

Method:

For crispy sage leaves, heat small skillet on medium heat and add 1 T ghee. Add sage leaves and fry for about 60 seconds on each side. Remove carefully with a fork and set on paper towel to absorb excess ghee.

Preheat oven to 375°. Toss butternut squash with olive oil, salt and pepper, and spread onto rimmed baking sheet in single layer. Roast in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and toss squash for even cooking. Add chopped leeks to baking sheet and return to oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes until veggies are golden brown.

Tip** If you don’t have roasted garlic already prepared, here are the Cliff Notes from my last post – slice the very top off of a whole head of garlic, drizzle with olive oil and wrap in aluminum foil. Roast in oven for about 20 minutes until fragrant.

In high speed blender, add roasted butternut squash, leeks, garlic, vegetable broth, and coconut milk. Blend for 20 seconds on low, and another 30 seconds on medium.

Tip** If you’d like to serve this soup right away, make sure to heat broth and coconut milk before adding to blender so soup is nice and hot!

If soup appears too thick, add 1/4 C more broth. Season with salt, pepper, and optional crushed red pepper. Enjoy!

Vegan Sun Dried Tomato Risotto with Roasted Vegetables

risotto3

Ever since I finally caved and bought a sturdy dutch oven last month, I have found myself looking for any and every excuse to make one pot meals. Matt’s parents had us over for lunch on Sunday and I decided to experiment with a vegan risotto. The finished product was vibrant and comforting, but still healthy with the addition of colorful roasted vegetables on top. I brought this risotto along with us to my in-laws, and this is what I learned:

  1. If you put a bowl of fresh Parmesan alongside the dish, no one cares that it’s vegan.
  2. Rainy Sunday afternoon + comforting risotto for lunch + wine = me falling asleep on the car ride home.

The sun dried tomatoes lend a really nice texture and acidity to the dish, which balances out the creaminess of the risotto. If you aren’t vegetarian, you can use any kind of broth you happen to have on hand. The best part is that you can top risotto with anything! I used fresh parsley, pine nuts, and store-bought pesto. This would be great with Italian sausage as well (definitely not vegan, I know.)

risotto1

I think some people are intimidated by the thought of making risotto at home, but it is truly hard to mess up. Risotto can be time-consuming because it requires standing over the stove as you stir the broth in a little at a time, but as long as you have hot broth ready to add in along the cooking process, it shouldn’t take more than 40 minutes. You can also view this time you’re spending stirring the risotto as quiet time in the kitchen, drinking wine. That’s what I choose to do 🙂

Risotto is my go-to dish for Pot Lucks because it’s a crowd pleaser, and you can use just about anything in terms of vegetables and seasonings. I love bringing this extremely heavy Dutch oven with me with the hot risotto inside because I make Matt carry it and I can just throw it in the oven at a low temp to warm back up when we get where we’re going! Easy as that.

Vegan Sun Dried Tomato Risotto with Roasted Vegetables

Makes 4-6 main course servings or 6-8 side dish servings

2 1/2 T good olive oil

Salt & pepper

2 small zucchini, quartered and diced

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

1 red onion, chopped

2 shallots, finely diced

1 C Arborio rice

4 C broth of choice

1/3 C dry white wine

1/2 C sun dried tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 t dried basil

1/4 C nutritional yeast (optional) or 1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese if not vegan

Toppings such as fresh parsley, pine nuts, pesto, etc.

Method:

Preheat oven to 400°. Toss zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and red onion with 1 1/2 T olive oil, salt and pepper on large rimmed baking sheet. Roast in oven for about 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

risotto4

Heat Dutch oven or medium pot and add remaining tablespoon of oil. In a separate pot, heat broth on low/medium heat.

Saute shallots in Dutch oven for about 4 minutes, until they turn translucent. Add rice and stir to coat with oil. Cook for about 2 more minutes. Add wine and let simmer for 3-4 minutes.

risotto2

Add broth, one ladle at a time, stirring frequently and cooking until rice absorbs liquid fully before adding next ladle of broth. When the broth is about halfway gone, add sun dried tomatoes and dried basil and continue adding broth one ladle at a time and stirring until fully absorbed. When all broth is used and liquid fully absorbed into rice, turn off heat and stir in nutritional yeast or Parmesan cheese. Serve with roasted vegetables and toppings of choice and enjoy!

Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake

I’ve learned to live without a lot of fun dairy-filled things since coming to terms with my lactose intolerance a couple years ago, but cheesecake was really hard to let go. I used to make a marbled pumpkin cheesecake every Thanksgiving as a pumpkin pie alternative, and it was always a hit. With all my freshly- made pumpkin puree in the freezer this year, it occurred to me that  a vegan alternative could work…

Now I know that putting the words “vegan” and “cheesecake” together are going to scare a lot of you, but after bringing these bars into work and to a potluck last week, I concluded that this vegan dessert is a dairy-free success! I have officially converted numerous non-believers into vegan pumpkin cheesecake fans and it’s all thanks to Minimalist Baker for inspiring me to try a cashew-based batter.

This recipe is no-bake, but does require some time on the front end to properly soak your cashews before blending them to make your “cheesecake” batter. Keeping this in mind, be sure to allow for an hour of inactive time before you get started!

pumpkin vegan cheesecake1

 

pumpkin vegan cheesecake2

Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake

Makes ~ 16 squares

For the crust:

1 C pitted medjool dates

1 1/2 C pecans

1/4 t sea salt

For the filling:

1 1/2 C raw unsalted cashews (I use pieces because they’re much cheaper!)

About 3 C boiling water

3/4 C pure maple syrup

1/2 C pumpkin puree

1/3 C full fat coconut milk

1/4 C lemon juice

2 t vanilla extract

1 t cinnamon

1/4 t cardamom

1 t pumpkin pie spice

pumpkin vegan cheesecake3

Method:

In a medium bowl, soak cashews in boiling water for about an hour. Once soaked, drain cashews and set aside.

Line an 8×8″ baking pan with parchment paper (one long sheet overlapping another so you have an “X.” This will make removing the cheesecake super easy once it’s set!

Add dates, pecans, and salt to food processor and pulse until dates break down and crust begins to stick together, forming a ball. Spray your fingers with nonstick spray and press crust into bottom of lined pan, setting in the freezer while you make filling.

Add soaked cashews to food processor and blend until smooth, adding coconut milk as needed. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the pumpkin. Mix until filing is smooth, scraping sides to incorporate all ingredients.

Spoon half of filling mixture onto crust and put back into freezer. Add pumpkin puree to the other half of the filling, and pulse until combined. Spoon carefully on top of white filling, gently spreading to create an even top layer. Sprinkle ground cinnamon on top, and lightly drag a toothpick or butter knife in a swirling motion.

Place in freezer for about 2 hours or until set. Remove from pan by lifting parchment paper and use chef’s knife to slice into 12-16 pieces. Keep these stored in the freezer, wrapped with plastic wrap. They should keep up to a month, but I promise they won’t last that long!

Tip** Let them sit out at room temp about 30 mins before serving so they’re not totally frozen

Enjoy!

 

Vegan Chocolate Pudding

Growing up, my sisters and I were lucky to have a number of fun babysitters to choose from when our parents wanted a night out, but Amanda was the best of the best. She would show up with a bag full of prizes and I don’t recall ever having to do anything to win them… She always looked as excited to see us as we were to see her, and as the years went on, she became our close friend.

Amanda would claim she knew nothing about baking, but that can’t be true because I’m convinced she’s now better at making and decorating cakes than I’ll ever be. I know those skills were always somewhere hidden in there with all her other strengths- tucked next to her amazing listening skills, compassion, and knowledge of where to buy lava lamps.

When we get together, we reminisce about cooking dinner when she’d babysit. She tells me that once we would finish dinner, I’d pull a chair up to the stove in our tiny kitchen and proclaim I was making chocolate pudding for dessert. She recalls that watching a six-year-old use the stove made her uneasy at first, but she quickly realized this was the norm.

pudding1

Why chocolate pudding? It was our go-to dessert. My mom always kept boxes of Jell-O Cook N Serve chocolate pudding stocked in the baking cabinet, and like any other family in the 90’s (before everyone discovered their lactose intolerance), we always had 2% milk in the fridge.

I still love chocolate pudding, but can’t stomach dairy anymore. My solution? Vegan chocolate pudding that I SWEAR is even better than what I remember. But that could just be my terrible memory…? This recipe swaps dairy out for coconut milk, and like most of my other recipes, doesn’t need any refined sugar. This dessert turns out so creamy and chocolate-y that you won’t even notice the dairy is missing. Top it with just about anything and enjoy!

pudding2

Vegan Chocolate Pudding

14 oz can coconut milk (both full fat and low fat work)

4 T cocoa powder

3 T corn starch

1/2 t salt

1/4 C pure maple syrup or honey

1 1/2 t vanilla extract

Method:

Heat half of the coconut milk in a saucepan over medium heat. In separate bowl, combine other half of coconut milk, cocoa powder, and corn starch, whisking until incorporated. Once coconut milk in saucepan is heated and coming to a low boil, reduce heat to low and slowly whisk in chocolate mixture.  Add salt and maple syrup or honey. Whisk continuously until pudding returns to a boil and thickens (sticking to the side of a spoon). Remove from heat and add vanilla.

Tip** if you do not care about the pudding being perfectly vegan, mix 1/4 C chopped chocolate or chocolate chips into finished pudding for extra chocolate-y goodness

Top with toasted coconut, bananas, berries, nuts, etc. Store leftovers in fridge with layer of plastic wrap touching the top of the pudding- this will prevent “skin” on the top!

Pumpkin Chocolate Oat Bars

Today is definitely Monday… the WiFi is out at our apartment, and my work email was hacked…but who cares because today is the first day of October! In my mind it’s officially Fall and I’m ready to bake pumpkin everything. Trader Joe’s is my pumpkin dealer of choice, and whenever I’m there I make sure to pick up a [few] bag[s] of their chocolate chunks because they’re better than regular old chocolate chips in so many ways.

100118-1

These pumpkin chocolate oat bars are on my Favorite Recipes list because they are gluten-free, low in fat, perfect for breakfast on the go, and full of pumpkin spice goodness. These bars are also nut-free (s/o to Abby and Lia), but you can include pecans or almonds if you choose. If you’d like to make them vegan, all you have to swap out is the chocolate chips- either omit entirely or make sure to use vegan chips.

Whatever your dietary restrictions/level of pumpkin fanaticism, these bars are proven to make any Monday better, so give them a try and let me know how they turn out!

pumpkin bars 2

pumpkin bars 1

Pumpkin Chocolate Oat Bars

makes about 12 servings

3 1/2 C old fashioned rolled oats

2 1/2 t baking powder

1 t baking soda

1/2 t salt

1 3/4 t pumpkin pie spice

1/2 t cinnamon

1 14 oz can (or 1 1/2 C) canned pumpkin puree

1/2 C pure maple syrup

1/4 C honey

2 t vanilla extract

1/4 C unsweetened applesauce

1 T coconut oil or avocado oil

1/2 C chocolate chunks, plus more to sprinkle on top

Method:

Preheat oven to 350° and grease 9″ x 13″ pan.

Make oat flour! I use my Vitamix for this because it’s a quick and easy clean up, but you can also pulse in your food processor or just buy oat flour at the grocery store. 3 1/2 C of regular oats makes about 3 cups of oat flour if you’re making at home.

100118

In a large bowl, combine oat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon. Whisk dry ingredients together. Next, add all wet ingredients- canned pumpkin, maple syrup, honey, vanilla extract, apple sauce, and oil. Fold together until combined and add chocolate chunks last. Spoon into prepared pan and sprinkle some more chocolate chunks on top. Don’t skimp 😉

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool partially before cutting into squares and serve warm. Enjoy!

*Tip: I like to store some squares in the freezer in ziplock bags for breakfast on weekday mornings. Just heat back up in the microwave on a plate or napkin for 20 seconds.