Lemon Lavender No-Bake Cheesecake

Maybe it was winter, but my cooking/recipe slump feels like it is finally ending and I’m feeling the inspiration! Maybe the summer like weather here the past week has helped? 90 degrees in the first part of May. What!?

While re-testing a recipe for an upcoming event for work (I’m making my Lemon Lavender Energy Bites), I brought in the samples to co-workers and they correctly noted that the energy bite dough would make an awesome crust for cheesecake. I made a mental note of this and then went forward to try and determine if a baked or no-bake cheesecake would be best for this. No-bake was the obvious answer since the crust is also meant to be mainly raw. The filling is slightly tangier than a normal cheesecake, so you could just call it a tart, but I’m going to stick to my guns on this and say cheesecake. 🙂

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The base of the crust is ground, roasted pistachios and almond butter (in addition to the flavors of lemon and lavender) but a small difference from the regular energy bites is that I incorporated some coconut oil and less almond butter. I think the coconut oil hardens up a bit better and allows the crust to keep more of its shape when cooled. (Ignore the crumbs below – I was a bit over zealous in diving in for a bite.)

A bit about the food grade lavender. I get mine from a local farm, Los Poblanos, but the great thing now is that they ship nation-wide and have a whole bunch of other boutique body products. And another side note – their restaurants is super super delicious – I’ve been for breakfast, brunch, and dinner and always want to go back. They built a new restaurant onsite and just re-opened in the new place within the last year. If you have a chance to visit  Albuquerque, NM, I totally recommend visiting their Farm Shop for the lavender and restaurant, Campo, just to eat… and I suppose stay overnight in their inn too if you can.

But back to the food.

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Lemon Lavender No-Bake Cheesecake

Makes 2-3 mini cheesecakes or one larger pie

Ingredients

Lemon Lavender Crust

  • 1/2 c raw, unsalted, pistachios (meats, shelled)
  • 1 tsp grated lemon
  • 1/2 cup almond or coconut flour
  • 1 T turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 T creamy almond butter (do not use peanut butter – it will overpower the other flavors)
  • 3 T coconut oil
  • 1 tsp whole culinary lavender (add an additional 1/2 tsp based on strength of lavender flavor)
  • 1/4 c honey
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Cheesecake

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/3 c powdered sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 c plain Greek yogurt, room temperature
  • 1/2 c heavy cream
  • 1/2 -3/4 tsp whole culinary lavender, crushed
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • Favorite lemon curd for topping

Directions

Crust

  1. Place nuts and flour in the food processor first. I used a 2 cup food processor or small option if using a larger processor. Pulse until nuts resemble a course meal.
  2. Add in sugar, salt, lavender, and extracts. Process for another 3-5 second or until well combined.
  3. Lastly, blend in almond butter, coconut oil, and honey. Pulse until well combined and the mixture holds its shape when pressed together. Add additional honey 1 T at a time until mixture holds a shape without crumbling.
  4. Divide the crust mixture between your three mini spring form pans or press into the bottom of a glass pie plate for a larger dessert.
  5. Place in refrigerator to cool while making the filling.

Filling

  1. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese on medium-high speed until light and creamy. Beat in sugar, lavender, lemon zest, and salt until evenly incorporated.
  2. Add in the Greek yogurt and beat until evenly incorporated.
  3. In a separate bowl, whip heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Carefully fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture with a spatula.
  4. Add your filling to the mini spring form pans or pie plate, evenly spreading the mixture over the top.
  5. Cover and refrigerate for at least 5 hours. Served chilled, topped with lemon curd and sprinkles of lavender and additional lemon zest if desired.

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Lavender and lemon just scream spring and summer to me, but when I went to the store looking for some lemon curd (and you can totally make your own BTW), I was told it was seasonal – Thanksgiving. Hmmm. For me lemon can be used all year round, but is particularly bright like summer. I guess you learn something new everyday. 🙂

Enjoy and I’m glad to be back in the realm of creating recipes again!

 


Holiday Gifting

The December holidays are fast approaching and it seems like everywhere you look, companies, bloggers, and Instagramers are sending out holiday specials and gift guides. While so many people are running out to overextend their budgets and stressing about finding the perfect gift I’m not feeling the stress one bit. What’s the secret? Well the secret really it’s any secret other than more than a few years back I stopped giving holiday gifts – at least to adults anyway. I’ll still get something for my niece and nephew – because they’re still small.

Now I want to be clear – I may give the occasional gift if it is something I know the individual is really going to value and appreciate. But for the most part I just got worn out. Everyone determining an equal value of what you would spend on each other and then exchanging gifts for items you probably would have purchased yourself but instead waited 2-3 months to get.

I’m not trying to be cheap or ungenerous. I’d also rather not receive gifts just because it’s a designated day or marketing tells me I’m a failed friend, wife, sister, daughter, aunt, etc. for not buying everyone the latest and best widgets of the year. So I also request that others not buy me gifts. I’ve found that my headspace is less cluttered when my physical space is less cluttered. As I became an adult (had a big girl job) I found I did have extra money to buy the things that I needed and without a list of needed items come Christmas time, the items tend to become more obscure and more random or collections begin to form.

While I LOVE throw blankets, I can really only use up to two at a time (so as I’m trying to become more of a minimalist, two is all I really need… I have 8). I could always buy more yoga pants, but do I really need 10 identical black pairs? And even at this point, I have just about every kitchen gadget under the sun (from my mom, grandma’s kitchens, and gifts over the years) and lack for very little in that department.

We don’t need more stuff. (Does it bring you real joy or fill a purpose/need?)

Before I go off sounding too whiny (and it may be too late),  just buy from the heart, not because you have to but because it’s something you know the other person will really value and cherish for more than an hour past unwrapping gifts. Give experiences, give time, give attention, give a letter, give something home baked – there are plenty of gifts that don’t have a price tag and can make a lasting impression.

This holiday season I plan to take time to mentally care for myself – read a book, take some long walks with the dog, drink some tea, make lefse, curl but watching movies with my husband while listening to the pup snore, and being thankful I’m able to make time for these little luxuries.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

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Sweet Potato Carrot Cake Donuts

One of the gifts I put on our wedding registry was a donut pan! And after couple months, I finally made my first attempt at some delicious baked donuts. If you’re living in the Southwest, or really most parts of the US right now, it still feels like fall even though we’re fast approaching the end of the year. In which case, I think that the fall flavors of carrots and sweet potatoes are are completely still acceptable.

And since the only frosting I really like is cream cheese frosting, I needed flavors it would compliment. Is anyone else like me? Other frostings just get too sweet or buttery? (My husband would probably disagree.) But the tang in cream cheese frosting is just perfect.

I’ve been sitting on this recipe for almost a month and with Thanksgiving and a trip to Seattle in November, the time has just flown by! I have a bunch of recipes and photos  just sitting waiting to be shared! My December goal is to back on the recipe and blogging track with exciting news to share in 2018!

Sweet Potato Carrot Cake Donuts

Makes 6 donuts

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cooked mashed sweet potato (from 1 medium to large sweet potato)
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted and cooled (olive oil also works well)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ c shredded carrots

Frosting

  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1 1/2 c powdered sugar (plus more for desired sweetness)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a donut pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt; set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the sweet potato, maple syrup, egg, coconut oil and vanilla extract until smooth and creamy. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Avoid overmixing here as it can make the donuts tough instead of light and fluffy.
  3. Gently fold in shredded carrots. Do not over-mix.
  4. Spoon the batter into the donut pan, filling almost to the top.
  5. Bake for 9-11minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Turn the donuts onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Once donuts are cooled, make the frosting.
  7. For frosting, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla together until no lumps are present.
  8. Spread a thin to medium layer of frosting onto each cooled donut.

Enjoy with a nice cup of tea or coffee and share with a friend. Or not, you do you.

I certainly see more baked donuts in my future. 🙂

*Baking was done at high altitude. 

 


Peach and Ricotta Crostini

It might be fall, but I’m still obsessing over peaches, especially the ones I can grow in my own back yard! That’s right, we have a fabulous peach tree that grow giant peaches – like the kind you need to grab with two hands. Even though I massively hacked and pruned the tree earlier that year (like I thought nothing would grow back and we’d have this ugly stumpy looking tree), but it still branched out all over the place and we had peaches everywhere – even after C took half off at the start of their growing. We removed some so the others get more nutrients and grow bigger.

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So after having a refrigerator full of peaches, I thought why not do some sort of appetizer with them – I had some left over ricotta and we always have honey, so a super easy snack was born. 🙂

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Peach and Ricotta Crostini

Serves as many as you’d like

Ingredients

  • 1 long baguette
  • Part skim ricotta (it has more protein)
  • Fresh peaches
  • Honey
  • Aged balsamic vinegar

Directions

  1. Slice the baguette on a diagonal and arrange on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  2. Toast baguette slices under the broiler for 30 seconds to a minute or until toasted to desired toastiness.
  3. Slices peaches (can leave skins on or off if you prefer).
  4. Spread each toast with 1-2 T of ricotta.
  5. Arrange peach sliced on toast and drizzle with your choice of honey or balsamic vinegar. If you’re using vinegar, make sure to have the kind that is aged and really think. If it’s not already thick, you can place it in a pot on the stove over a simmer and reduce down to desired syrup consistency.

Eat and enjoy! Preferably with some wine.

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It’s my 4th summer in this house and each year I’m enjoying the fruit produced more and more – peaches, apples, and figs. After finishing the creation of the patio and fencing around it, I’m also enjoying the backyard more and more – when I’m out there, it really does feel like home. When everything is put away (a wind storm tore down our temporary pergola), I’ll post a video of the space – we have a waterfall too and the sound of falling water is just so relaxing!

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Cheers to the ending of summer and the beginning of fall!


Not The Perfect Yogi

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I’ve been teaching yoga for over 3 years and practiced (sometimes intermittently) for 7 years. And for whatever reason within the last year I’ve had thoughts of shame creeping up on me that I wasn’t setting a guiding example for my students – I wasn’t the perfect yogi. I’d compare myself against other teachers in the area and of course the perfect forms you see on Instagram. I would see myself as lacking because I wasn’t doing the handstands or wasn’t (and probably will never be) the most flexible. But yoga is and should be about YOUR PRACTICE and what it means to you. It shouldn’t and doesn’t matter what’s on the outside and how poised you appear to others – it’s about how it makes you feel and the changes happening on the inside.

So I’ve decided to say, f*ck it, I’m human, I love yoga, and I’m going to embrace me. And hopefully that true light will attract other like minded individuals.

10 Ways I’m not the perfect Yogi

…and I’m ok with that.

  1. I don’t do yoga for hours a day or even 20 minutes all days.
  2. My flexibility has and always will be a work in progress.
  3. I’m not vegan or vegetarian. Although I gravitate towards more plant based options, I know that sometimes I like a piece of chicken or pulled pork.
  4. I don’t only eat organic – because sometimes it’s a waste of money. Seriously, organic sugar substitute? Just eat the sugar. Eat whole foods and limit the processed crap.
  5. I don’t always have positive thoughts about people.
  6. I’m afraid of handstands and going upside down, but I’m working on it.
  7. I like wine & yoga classes – they’re fantastic, and let’s be honest, no one is there for the full on yoga experience. So let’s just stop discussing how it’s not true yoga because alcohol won’t help your center or your breath.
  8. I love doing yoga to jazz, pop, and club dance music. Flowing to a beat.
  9. I’m not 11% body fat and never will be again – mainly because that was a very, very unhealthy time for my body. (FYI – that percentage is low for women).
  10. I don’t meditate daily or sometimes even weekly, but it is one of my goals – someday, eventually.

Bottom line. Be who you are. Don’t try to fit a certain mold or stereotype – you end up a poor imitation and feel awful in the process.

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I try to keep my own practice and my classes true to who I am and how the body feels in that place and time – sometimes I completely throw out what I initially set out for my class because moving into this feels better than moving into that in the moment.

Shame can be a natural/normal feeling that creeps into various parts of our life and can in some cases take years to work through. Especially when we’re bombarded with the picture perfect images on Facebook, Instagram, and even blogs! The most important piece to remember is photos are staged and all we’re seeing is the highlight reel. The moments in between the highlights are where real (not reel) life happens and that is just as beautiful (mess, pain, work, and all).

Namaste y’all.

Peace and lots of love,

Ingrid

 


Everyday Arugula Salad

I recently made this salad for a small wedding reception we held at our home. I was looking for something light yet super tasty at the same time and satisfied the need for something green with all the smoked meats we had. And since the party, I’ve been wanting to eat this every day! It goes with basically every meal, IMHO.

I also neglected to get any pictures of the party or food set-up! Who am I? Maybe it’s just me trying to live in the moment more? Or for a more positive spin, I was just too involved in the people who were there to think about taking pictures – although they would have been nice to have after the fact.

At least I remade one of the salads to capture these shots! And did remake the Raspberry and Whipped Hazelnut Tart for a couple of the desserts. 🙂

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This type of lightly dressed tangy greens reminds me of the salads we ate in France with just about every meal. It’s a great way to eat your greens and get all of the nutrients they provide without needing to be dosed in Ranch or smothered in so many additional toppings the healthiness becomes obsolete.

Everyday Arugula Salad

Serves 1 or a whole table

Ingredients – in no particular quantities

  • Arugula
  • Marcona almonds
  • Golden raisins
  • Shaved parmesan cheese

Vinaigrette

  • 3 T Olive oil
  • 1 T Lemon juice
  • 1/2 -1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Place desired amount of arugula in a bowl.
  2. Sprinkle with almonds, raisins, and cheese. (If making a bowl for one, measure about 1 T of each topping – maybe double the nuts.)
  3. Measure vinaigrette ingredients into a mason jar, seal lid, and shake to combine.
  4. Lightly drizzle desired amount of dressing onto salad and toss to combine. Leaves should be very, very lightly dressed.

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Sometimes simple is just better.

 


Raspberry and Whipped Hazelnut Tart

Has anyone been watching the Great British Baking Show or the Great British Bake Off if you’re from the UK? I know we’re sort of behind on the times, but Netflix just released their first season of it last year (which was actually season/series 4?) and now they’ve added 2 & 3 (or 5 &6).  C and I did some binge watching and after finishing what Netflix had, sort of freaked out that there were three seasons prior to what we’d seen and had to get them to watch. Well…. to wrap things up, if you haven’t seen it, watch it now. And their opening cake was somewhat of an inspiration for the flavors of this tart.

A couple weeks ago I made hazelnut butter. And while it was really delicious on it’s own on toast, etc. I thought, what if it was a pie or fake-ish cheesecake? And Ta-Da! Idea born.

While the filling was a no-brainer for me with the tofu – since the same style works so well with peanut butter dip, I had a more difficult time trying to decide whether to do a fully “raw” tart (which you could totally do with this crust) or something more like a short crust pastry tart. I opted to go with the short crust pastry type and used inspiration from Sally’s Baking Addiction to make a pretty standard nutty pastry crust.

Raspberry and Whipped Hazelnut Tart

Serves 12-16

Ingredients

Toasted Hazelnut Crust

  • 3/4 c raw hazelnuts
  • 1 c all-purpose flour (or flour of choice)
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c butter, cold and cubed
  • 3 T ice water

Whipped Hazelnut Filling

  • 1 ½ c creamy hazelnut butter
  • 14 oz firm tofu (1 package)
  • 3 T sugar or to taste
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • pinch salt
  • 3-4 T vanilla soy milk (or other milk of choice)

Raspberry Sauce

  • 1 c organic raspberry jam
  • 2 T water
  • 1 c fresh raspberries

Directions

  1. If making your own hazelnut butter, I suggest you do that first before moving on to the rest of the recipe. Store bought is also fine, but difficult to find, and homemade is just that much better!
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread hazelnuts out onto a foil or parchment lined baking sheet. Toast until slightly darkened, about 7 minutes. Watch these like a hawk! Allow to cool down for 5 minutes. Leave oven on to bake the crust.
  3. To remove the skins of the hazelnuts (they’re kind of bitter), lay a clean tea towel on your counter, and scoop the hot hazelnuts, into a pile in the center of the towel (take care due to the high heat of the nuts). Bring the four corners of the tea towel together and gather it up in one hand, so that all of your hazelnuts are scooped up in the bottom of the tea towel. Using your other hand, squish the bottom and the sides of the tea towel so that all the hazelnuts are rubbing up against each other. Do this for a couple minutes until most of the skins are removed.
  4. Separate out the skins from the nuts. I use a slotted serving spoon – it’s big enough to get more than a few nuts at a time and the holes are small enough that the nuts won’t fall through but the skins will.
  5. For the crust:Using a food processor, pulse the toasted hazelnuts, the flour, sugar, and salt together until it reaches the consistency of coarse meal. Add the cubes of cold butter and pulse until the mixture turns into pea-sized crumbs. I used frozen butter since I was working in a warm kitchen – you don’t want it to get too soft.
  6. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, slowly stir in 3 Tablespoons of ice water. You only want to add enough water to bring the dough somewhat together. Using floured fingers or the bottom of a flat and lightly floured measuring cup, press the dough evenly into a 9 inch tart or pie pan. (If you’re making smaller tarts, depending on the number of pans you have… I had three smaller spring form pans, reduce the recipe by one quarter.) You want it extremely tight in the pan. You’ll need to use baking beans or pie weights for the next step, so line the crust with aluminum foil or parchment paper and add pie weights or dry baking beans.
  7. Bake at 350F (with pie weights) for 18-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack so it can slightly cool as you prepare the filling.
  8. For the filling: In a clean food processor, blend together the hazelnut butter, tofu (drained), sugar, vanilla, salt, and soy milk until it comes to a super creamy and fluffy consistency.
  9. Spoon filling into tart crust, creating a slight ridge around the outside that can hold in the filling, and place in refrigerator while preparing the topping.
  10. For the sauce: Mix the raspberry jam/preserves with 1-2 T water. Using a wire mesh sieve, press the mixture into the mesh to collect the seedless topping below. (You can also choose to make your our raspberry jam, I just find it to be a little bit of a time saver to by your own and tweak it.)
  11. Spread the raspberry sauce over the top of the tart, staying within the “dam”. Place in tart in refrigerator to chill and set – 4 hours or overnight. When ready to serve, line the edge of the tart with raspberries (bottoms up).

This might be my heaven. Luckily a few bites are already pretty filling, so it’s easily shared. 🙂

After making this amazing tart, I find out C doesn’t like hazelnuts. WHAT!? What crazy person doesn’t like hazelnuts? So not wanting to eat the equivalent of an entire tart by myself, I brought two of the small tarts to work. And they were a complete hit! That creamy nutty filling, the tart raspberries, and crunchy crust is what my summer dreams are made of.

Even though the recipe looks long and maybe a bit overwhelming, I promise that if done in steps, it’s super easy and almost completely fool proof.

Tofu is one of my favorite additions to all things creamy that need some sort of structure. What are some of your favorite “hidden” ingredients?


Kombucha Summer Mocktails

I’ve been trying out some new healthier drink recipes lately (partly for work and partly for me) and even though I love to drink kombucha, I never really thought to put it in a cocktail. And apparently I’m a bit slow to the party because other people have been doing this for a few years now. And of course kombucha makes a good mixer/base – it is bubbly, sour, tangy, and delicious. Oh well, at least I caught the train – even if it’s the end.

Kombucha is a feremented tea beverage and although not thoroughly or independently studied for it’s health benefits, many people have claimed improved gut health and healthier and happier intestinal microbiota. It does have live cultures but exactly which can vary from brew to brew – especially when brewed at home. If you’re interested in learning more about kombucha in a nut shell, I highly recommend the Kombucha Culture episode of Gastropod.

There are so many different flavors of kombucha available in stores that you can fnd almost any base flavor you want or need. For this time around, I picked a classic citrus (you could use a lime too), honeydew (because it just has a nice lightly sweet base flavor but doesn’t overpower when you add other ingredients), and strawberry (because it’s probably my current favorite kombucha flavor at the moment).

You could also totally add some spirits to these, but for a refreshing work-night drink I’m keeping then virgin.

And just in time for summer grilling!

The first is a blueberry mojito. Although I made these by the glass, you could also easily make a larger pitcher.

Blueberry Kombucha Mojito

  • 6-8oz lime/citrus kombucha
  • 5-7 mint leaves
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp sugar (for muddling)
  • 1/8 c blueberries
  • Large handful of ice

Muddle the mint leaves and sugar in the bottom of a glass. The grit of the sugar will help in the process of tearing up and bruising the leaves as well as extracting the essential oils. Add most of the berries and continue muddling. Top with ice and pour in the kombucha. Give a little stir with a spoon to mix the contents. Garnish with remaining berries and a spring of mint.

Enjoy on a hot summer day!

The second is a strawberry oregano mocktail. You can experiment with a few different kombuchas if you’d like, but I’d recommend a strawberry or honeydew. I found that the honeydew didn’t overpower the other flavors but left a little sweetness. The only thing I wasn’t super keen about the honeydew kombucha is that the particular brand I bought used artificial sweetener, stevia, to add more sweetness. Not super necessary in my opinion. Again, this recipe below is for one “cocktail” but can easily be multiplied for a larger pitcher.

Strawberry Oregano Mocktail

  • 6-8oz strawberry or honeydew kombucha
  • 1/2 tsp fresh oregano leaves plus a few springs for garnish
  • 1 diced strawberry plus one for garnish
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp sugar (for muddling)
  • Large handful of ice

Muddle the oregano leaves and sugar in the bottom of a glass. The sugar will help in the process of tearing up and bruising the leaves as well as extracting the essential oils. Add the diced strawberry and continue muddling. Top with ice and pour in the kombucha. Give a little stir with a spoon to mix the contents. Garnish with remaining strawberry and a spring of oregano. Leave the fresh oregano in or over the glass as you drink to get a little more of that herby aroma.

If you’ve never tried kombucha or kombucha in a cocktail or mocktail, I HIGHLY recommend doing so. The kombucha adds a nice fizz to any mixed drink and comes with a lot of potential health benefits. At least from my own experience.

Happy summer sipping!

Tell me:  What are some of your favorite summer drinks? Or what says summer in a glass?