Happy and Merry

Christmas this year was like being on a rollercoaster for me this year. The emotions were high, some traditions changed, and I am exhausted from it all.

My father and stepmother are moving to the Adirondacks so this was the last year I was able to celebrate Christmas in the house that I helped build with my very own hands twenty years ago this year. Let alone this emotional ride, my father had to work and wasn’t able to be a part of it. I am so happy for them and the future that they will enjoy, but my heart aches knowing that they won’t be in my hometown anymore. No more walks in the back woods, no more treehouse and bear traps my siblings and I made when we were kids, no more faces on the pine trees, no more squirrels eating the bird food… Yet, smiling ear to ear to make new memories at their house surrounded by beautiful ADK mountains!!

For my mom’s christmas, my youngest brother wasn’t able to come home so we skyped with him as we opened our presents. It was weird not having him there, first time for everything I guess. Being in my mid-twenties I guess I have to get used to all of this… things just aren’t going to be the same anymore.

So, the happiness that I will always have during Christmas time is cooking with my family. SO MUCH COOKING! My mom and I were like little elves making toys, nonstop!

The day after christmas we spent the morning lounging around and then finally went to the grocery store to stock up for our family holiday party the next day. That night we invited my grandmother over for some homemade gnocchi! Check them out…

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I used purple, red, and sweet potatoes – boiled until soft, drained and left on the stovetop to stay warm. Then I mixed in 50:50 white wheat flour. Here’s where things get tricky – there isn’t really a specific amount for this, there more of a science to it – it just has to feel right 🙂

Then I made two different sauces to top the pasta off… a tomato meat sauce made with turkey sausage and roasted red peppers, and a balsamic red wine reduction portobello carmelized onion sauce with cashew cream. Here’s my plate with the mushroom sauce topped off with goat cheese, yum! My mouth is watering right now just thinking about how amazing this tasted!!

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The Saturday morning I cooked cookies, salads, soup, potatoes, and these… Vegan pumpkin cheesecakes!

Gingerbread Crust:

*1/3 cup coconut oil

*1/2 cup sugar

*1/3 maple syrup

*1/4 cup almond milk

*2 cups flour ( I mixed wheat, brown rice & coconut)

*1/2 teaspoon baking soda & 1/2 tsp baking powder

*1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

*1 tsp ground ginger

^Mixed & pressed into mini muffin tins, baked for 6 mins on 350

Cheesecake:

*1 cup cashews

*1 cup water

^blend in vitamix, adding water as needed until creamy consistency

*1 can pumpkin puree

*1 tsp baking soda

*spices – pumpkin pie spice, cinammon, ginger, clove

^I blended these ingridents together in the vitamix and then spooned the mixture out into the muffin tins on top of the gingerbread crusts. Then they were baked for 20 minutes at 300 degrees.

^I cooled them in the fridge for 4 hours and them topped them with coconut whipped cream (full fat coconut cream whipped in the blender) and cinnamon

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My family loved these little cheesecakes and were all so surprised that they were vegan!

Overall, with the high emotions, my christmas was joyful as always. Seeing the family members that I was able to see made it so worth it and I had a blast!

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