Christmas Traditions + Rosemary Bacon, Apple and Hazelnut Mince Mini Pies with Date Caramel Sauce

 

As I gear up to spend this Christmas away from my family back in Seattle, I've been feeling a little homesick and nostalgic which always results in me cooking...a lot. Cooking reminds me of my family, my mom, sister-in-laws and I love spending time in the kitchen, surrounded by the ones we love, cooking up a feast that we will all share as we drink and laugh and snuggle into to the warmth that is family. I'm one of those lucky ones that loves spending time with my family, not only just during the holidays but any opportunity I get. But during the holidays, well, let me just tell you that my family are a little nutty for Christmas. 

Being so far away from them leaves me thinking about those little family Christmas traditions that I long for and adore. Like how my mom always places this driftwood Christmas decoration I made in preschool in her kitchen window. It's been there, every single Christmas for thirty-three years. Or how my brothers and I would eagerly wake every morning to open the next window of our Chocolate Christmas advent calendar and snack on my mom's homemade Christmas toffee. Every year we knew it was the start of the Christmas season when my mom made the first batch of Christmas toffee. It's the only time of year we will allow her to make it. My brother's and I are very strict about this. Don't be tryin' to make us any Christmas toffee in October, Ma!  And, she knows better. Oh does she know better. And now her toffee is known all around town. Everyone waits all year for Teri's Terrific Toffee. 

And my favorite memories, how I would turn off all the lights in the living room and dance around the Christmas tree listening to the Carpenter's Christmas album as the lights twinkled in the background. It's memories like these that make Christmas so special. These memories fill me with so much joy and happiness. If I am lucky enough to have kids one day, I hope I can pass some of these down to them and make many more that they will remember well into their adult years.

As I cook and reminisce on Christmas pasts, I'm filled with so much gratitude for having a family that cherishes tradition. I think tradition is the foundation of family. As much as I wish I could be with my family this Christmas, I won't be. However, you better believe I'll be dancing around my tiny tree listening to the soft haunting voice of Karen Carpenter. Some habits die hard. 

Rosemary Bacon, Apple and Hazelnut Mince Mini Pies with Caramel-Date Sauce. 

When I was younger, maybe around the seventh grade or so, we were required to research a part of our lineage and write a report on our findings. With my dad being born in England, and knowing very little about that side of my family, I decided to look deeper and do my report on our English roots. 

Part of this report was to create a traditional and culturally relevant dish and share it with the class in a potluck.  I knew enough to know that British cuisine isn't exactly looked upon as something to be desired when trying to decided what to make for dinner so when the time came to decide on what to make I called my grandmother and asked her a bit about some traditional foods and we decided on Mincemeat Pie. The name alone lacks something to be desired but when it was all said and done and my grandmother and I had completed the little decadent treats, they weren't half bad. 

These little treats are a mix of savory and sweet, gluten-free, dairy-free and refined sugar-free. A little word of warning though, if you love super traditional pie crust and haven't ventured into the world of gluten-free eating, keep an open mind. 

Ingredients

Pie Filling
1/2 lbs. black forest bacon (I get mine at Whole Foods)
1 apple, chopped
1 pear, chopped
1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped
1/2 cup dried figs, chopped
1/4 cup goji berries
1 tbsp chopped rosemary
1 tbsp honey or maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves

Pie Crust
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp honey or maple syrup
1 tsp chia seeds (mix with 2 tbsp cold water)
6-8 tbsp cold water

Date Caramel Sauce
8 dates (soaked in water or at least 10-15 minutes)
2 tbsp coconut butter
2 tbsp cold water
 

how to make

Makes 12-16

Make the pie crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Mix the chia seeds in a small bowl with 2 tbsp of water and set aside.
  3. In a food processor, add oats and salt. Blend until the oats have broken down into flour.
  4. Add in the chia mixture, buckwheat flour and olive oil and pulse in until combined.
  5. Drizzle in the remaining water a tablespoon at a time while pulsing the mixture until a dough forms (you might not need all of the water). Roll the pastry out on a piece of baking paper until it's only a few mm thick. Using a small glass, cut out circles and form to the bottle of greased (butter or vegetable shortening) muffin tin. Bake for 12 minutes until dry. Leave to cool.

For the rosemary bacon, apple and hazelnut filling: 

  1. In a sauté pan or cast iron skillet, cook bacon. As bacon cooks, chop up rosemary and add to pan towards the end. The rosemary is to give a hint of flavor. 
  2. Remove bacon and set aside. Add chopped apple, pear and fig to bacon pan and cook until tender. Add in goji berries, honey and spices and cook for another 3-5 minutes. 
  3. Chop bacon and add to pan along with the chopped hazelnuts. Cook for another 1-2 minutes. 

For the caramel-date sauce:

  1. Pit the soaked dates and place into a blender with the coconut butter, boiling water, salt and vanilla extract. Blend until completely smooth.

To assemble:

  1.  Add 1-2 tbsp of apple mixture to each pie cup and top with a dollop of the caramel date sauce. Sprinkle with a little cinnamon to finish. 
  2. Enjoy!



How to Conquer a Sugar Addiction {part 1} + A Little Recipe

I am a sugar addict. Or, I was a sugar addict. For years I'd load up on pounds of candy and sugar laden goodies and I couldn't get through a meal without finishing it off with a little something sweet.

My need for candy turned into a need for cakes, croissants and anything else that would give me my little buzz, only to leave me with a serious ache in my belly and a lull in my energy. I would sometimes wake up literally feeling hungover because I had consumed so much sugar the night before.  My head would be foggy, my skin would be muted and dry and my whole body would ache and long for more.

Here is the truth; sugar is a drug. Sugar, in it's most refined, highly processed forms, is a bad and dangerous socially acceptable drug and we don't even realize how much of it is in the foods we consume.

Sugar is pumped into everything to make it taste better and to keep us coming back for more. It wasn't until I started eating an extremely clean  vegan diet that I realized just how addicted I had been over the years. I do my very best to stay away from the stuff now but on the rare occation that I pop a sugar treat into my mouth, I am quickly reminder why it's, why I refer to, as the devil!

Today my need for sweets is still present but it's different.  I am a fanatic for my raw lemon bars and anything with cocao in it but I focus only on eating the things that are whole and natural and leave the white stuff out.

If you are looking to ditch the white stuff but want to know more of how you can get the good stuff I suggest you check out my two Pinterest boards, RAW Treats and Vegan Sweets.

Here you will find some of the most delectable treats I've found around the web and today I'm sharing a clean treat with you as well! Before that however, I want to give you a few tips on how to get over your sugar addiction. Pin it so you can go back and reference it whenever you need to!

10 Tips to Eliminate Your Sugar Addiction

So what can you eat instead of the sugary devil-like foods? Well, stay tuned next week for part two of this post. In the meantime, I leave you with one idea and it's the bom.com.

Ladies and gents...without further ado here it is:

Blueberry and Raspberry Galette. (Vegan, Gluten-Free and Refined Sugar Free)

galette 2

Ingredients:

For the crust you will need:

(I adapted my crust from one I found on Nutrition Striped)

1.5 cups baking and biscuit mix (I used Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Mix)

1/2 cup coconut oil

3-4 tbsp cold water

2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 tsp organic pure almond extract

1/2 tsp sea salt

For the filling you will need:

1.5 cup organic blueberries

1.5 cups organic raspberries

Juice from one lemon

2 tbsp. pure maple syrup (grade B)

2 tbsp. agave

1.5 tsp organic pure vanilla extract

galette

How to Make:

Begin by preheating oven to 325 degrees.

1. Add berries and all other filling ingredients together into a mixing bowl and set aside to marinate a bit.

2. Pouring the baking mix into a mixing bowl, extracts and salt into a mixing bowl and mix until well combined. I use a hand mixer because my food processor is broken but you could definitely use that!

3. Add in the coconut oil and mix until the pie crust is crumbly. Add ice water and mix until dough clumps together.

4/ Pour mixture onto a baking sheet on top of parchment paper (this makes life easier) and form dough into a large circle.

5. Add berry filling to the center of the pie crust making sure you don't add too much of the juice that has settled at the bottle.

6.  Gently fold just the edges of the dough (about two inches) and place it in a pie dish (I cut out a circle of parchment paper to help with removal later)

6.  Brush the outside of outside of the crust lightly with maple syrup and place in over for 30-40 minutes (this depends on your oven so check after 25 minutes)

7. Allow to cook and then serve with Coconut Whipped Cream.

galette 3

What are your favorite clean treats? Share in the comments below!