Gluten-Free Cream Cheese Stuffed Pumpkin Muffins

Pumpkin isn’t just for fall. Sure, you may have overdosed on pumpkin spice lattes this year. And sure, it was probably sickening yet amazing. But once you move past the withdrawal, you can get into the real pumpkin flavours of the winter season.

Baking with gluten-free flours is always risky. I was pretty confident in this recipe because pumpkin is very naturally moist which helps keep the mix from crumbling when baking. Also, stuff anything with this cream cheese filling and I won’t complain. I had to stop myself from eating it on it’s own (and failed).

Some of the most important tips of the recipe:

  1. Chill the cream cheese filling.
  2. Follow the ratio of batter to filling.
  3. Allow them to cool.

I adapted this recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything. The main change was the switch from regular to gluten-free flour. For this recipe, I tried out the newer Robin Hood GF mix which I found has a pretty good texture for baking and acts as a nice substitute. You can still definitely taste the difference, but not so much that it would be off-putting.Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins with Cream Cheese Filling

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins with Cream Cheese Filling

Ingredients

Makes 24 muffins

For the filling:
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
For the muffins:
  • 3 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree (see Note)
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
For the topping:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 5 tbsp. all-purpose gluten-free flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Method

For the filling:

Mix the cream cheese and powdered sugar in a medium bowl until smooth and no lumps remain. Transfer the mixture to a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a log about 1½-inches in diameter. Smooth the plastic wrap tightly around the log, then put in the freezer and chill until at least slightly firm, about 2 hours. The mixture should be firm enough to cut with a knife.

For the muffins:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda; whisk to blend. In the bowl of an stand mixer combine the eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree and oil with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated. Do not overmix.

For the topping:

Mix the sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl; whisk to blend. Add in the butter pieces and mix with your hands until it is coarse and crumbly, so that it looks like the texture of wet sand. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill until ready to use.

Assembly:

Fill each muffin well with a small amount of batter, just enough to cover the bottom of the liner (1-2 tablespoons). Slice the log of cream cheese filling into 24 equal pieces. Place a slice of the cream cheese mixture into each muffin well. You want to put the cream cheese lower than you think because it will rise a lot during the baking process. Divide the remaining batter among the muffin cups, placing on top of the cream cheese to cover completely. Sprinkle a small amount of the topping mixture over each of the muffins.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before serving. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins with Cream Cheese Filling

The Ultimate Vegetarian Lasagna

Noodles and cheese. Sometimes it just can’t be beat. Smother it in a slow simmered colourful vegetable sauce and you’ve got yourself a meal.

I made this for dinner, ate 2 pieces (I want to call them slices but it doesn’t seem right) and had another one the next morning for breakfast.

I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the rice noodles; I honestly couldn’t tell the difference. In my experience gluten-free pasta can be sticky, fall apart or have an off-putting taste. I especially prefer corn over rice pasta. That being said, the lasagna ones were fantastic and I would recommend it to anyone steering clear of gluten.

This was my first attempt at lasagna in a long time, so I was nervous about having the noodles and sauce spill out everywhere when I cut it open. Letting it set is such an important part of the directions and it worked perfectly.

I adapted this recipe from Inspired Taste.

Butternut Squash Lasagna

Ingredients

  • 12 lasagna rice noodles (or use regular wheat lasagna noodles)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium-sized yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 small zucchinis, cubed
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 (12 oz.) jar roasted red peppers, drained and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes*
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 (15 oz.) container whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups low-moisture whole-milk mozzarella cheese, shredded**
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

*I used a can of whole tomatoes and using an immersion blender to crush them. Work with what you’ve got.

**Mozzarella balls vary in size by a small amount—I used a whole one of those.

Method

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil a 13-inch by 9-inch baking dish.

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil then cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. Add a couple teaspoons of olive oil to the water so the noodles do not stick together. Drain then lay flat on a sheet of aluminum foil–this makes them easier to work with later.

Heat olive oil in a large frying pan with sides over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally until translucent; 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, zucchini, squash and a pinch of salt then cook, stirring occasionally until softened but still with some crunch and edges just start to brown; 5 to 8 minutes. Next, add roasted red peppers and crushed tomatoes. Stir then bring to a low simmer. Simmer until liquid has thickened and reduced by half; 5 to 8 minutes. Add basil then season to taste with additional salt and pepper.

Mix together ricotta, eggs and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a medium-sized bowl until well combined.

Spoon just enough vegetable mixture into the baking dish to lightly cover bottom (about 1 cup) so that the noodles don’t stick. Arrange four noodles lengthwise and side by side to cover the bottom. Don’t worry if they’re not overlapping or touching closely.

Spread about half of the ricotta mixture over the noodles. Sprinkle with a third of the parmesan cheese and a third of the mozzarella cheese. Then, top with a third of the vegetable mixture. Add another layer of four noodles then repeat with remaining cheese and vegetables.

Finish with a final layer of noodles, vegetables, parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese.

Cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake 20 minutes, uncover then bake 15 minutes until cheese is crusty around the edges. To make cheese golden brown on top, slide under the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes.

Let rest at least 15 minutes before serving. Do not skip this part. Allowing it to rest before serving lets it settle and your lasagna can easily be cut into squares without falling apart.

Butternut Squash Lasagna

Butternut Squash Lasagna

Cream Cheese, Orange Liqueur and Almond Stuffed Apricots

Back with another boozy recipe just in time for the holidays.

I made these for a wedding a few weeks ago and they worked perfectly as a vegetarian and gluten-free finger food. I’ve heard plenty of reasons over the past couple of years as to why people have made the switch to gluten-free, but none was as great as a guest at this wedding. She claimed that she became psychotic when she ate gluten. That’s definitely a new one.

When I was making these, I had a frustrating time at first because of my lack of experience with piping bags. I was missing a piece, so my friend ended up using bright pink duct tape to hold the nozzle to the bag. We called it the ghetto squeezer. I may patent it one day (ha), but really what I need is a proper icing set.

Stuffed Apricot Appetizers

Ingredients

Makes 24 apricots

  • 3 oz room temperature cream cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp. orange liqueur
  • 24 large whole Turkish apricots
  • 24 whole blanched almonds or 1/2 cup sliced blanched almonds

Method

In a food processor, cream together the cream cheese, ginger and liqueur. Set aside.

Make a small incision in the apricots, just large enough to fit the tip of the piping bag. Fill a piping bag with the mixture, and pipe a small amount into each apricot. There should already be a very small hole where the pit was removed—I’d suggest enlarging that to avoid any leakage.

Push one whole almond or a pinch of sliced almonds into the top of the apricots. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Stuffed Apricot AppetizersStuffed Apricot Appetizers

Classic Restaurant-Style Burritos (a.k.a. the Best Damn Burritos You’ll Ever Make at Home)

Looking at the post below, I’m sure the long list of ingredients/lengthy-looking instructions may be off-putting when you can just grab a burrito for $7 elsewhere. It’s really not as difficult as it may appear (I promise) and once you’ve got a knack for making homemade burritos you’ll never want to stop.

I put down that this recipe serves four people, but admittedly I did have some leftovers of the main aspects of the dish—rice, a small amount of beans, pico de gaillo. We all know there was no leftover guac, that’s ridiculous. I had enough of everything to throw one together the next morning (call it a breakfast burrito and you’re good to go) and it was still fantastic.

When I was putting these together, I was with my brother and one of his friends who used to work at a popular burrito chain. They ended up barbecuing some meat, shredding it and throwing it into theirs; feel free to mess with the toppings to your liking, it’s pretty hard to make a burrito taste bad. We didn’t quite have all the same equipment as a burrito place would (as in we used a Sesame Street grilled cheese press to grill them) but they still turned out beyond my expectations.

To me, the trickiest part of this recipe is properly folding the burrito to make sure nothing spills out when you press it. I describe it as best I can in the instructions and you’ll be able to get a sense of what it should look like from the photos. Best of luck!

Classic Restaurant-Style BurritosClassic Restaurant-Style Burritos

Note: Don’t skip the grilling part. This holds everything nicely in place and gives the proper texture. Also, I tried taking photos of the steps and failed miserably, so I will put up one or two to get your started but then you’re on your own!

Ingredients

Serves 4

For refried beans:

  • 1 (450g) can of black beans, keep the liquid
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Pinch of chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin

For guacamole:

  • 2 avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
  • 3 tbsp. red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. lime juice
  • Handful of chopped chives
  • Salt to taste

For pico de gaillo:

  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. lime juice
  • Salt to taste

For Mexican-style rice:

  • 1 cup long grain white rice
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 3 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. lime juice
  • Salt to taste

Additional toppings:

  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup lettuce, shredded
  • Sour cream as preferred
  • Spicy salsa as preferred
  • Hot sauce as preferred
  • 4 medium-sized flour tortillas

Method

For refried beans:

Heat a small amount of vegetable oil in a medium-sized skillet. Add garlic and cook until aromatic, roughly 2 minutes. Add in black beans, chili flakes and cumin. Mash the beans with a potato masher, slowly adding in the liquid from the can, until all liquid is used up and a relatively smooth, creamy (but not runny) texture remains.

For guacamole:

Mash avocados, onion, lime juice, chives and salt in a bowl. If making ahead, leave pits in bowl to keep the avocado green.

For pico de gaillo:

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

For Mexican-style rice:

Cook rice as directed on packaging. Once done, stir in butter, cilantro, lime juice and salt. Take a spoonful or two of the pico de gaillo and add it in. Tip for perfect rice: Rinse desired amount of rice and place it in a pot or rice cooker. Place your hand on top of the rice. Slowly pour in water until the liquid just covers your fingers. Bring to a boil then lower heat until all liquid has evaporated (this will depend on how much rice you use). Perfect every time!

For assembly:

Preheat the sandwich grill.

Place one room temperature flour tortilla on a clean, dry work surface. Take 1/4 of the bean mixture and spread it into a rectangle in the middle of your tortilla, leaving plenty of space on the sides. Beans on tortillaGrab a large handful or two of rice and pat it down on top of the beans. Sprinkle some of the shredded cheese over top of the rice, then layer on the pico de gaillo and shredded lettuce. Along one side of the longer part of the rectangle, put a generous spoonful of sour cream and spread it so in runs parallel with your food. Do the same thing with guac on the other side. Put in as much salsa as you want (just don’t make it runny) and any hot sauce if desired. At this point, your burrito should be open-faced, the ingredients in a loose rectangle in the centre.

Fold the sides of your tortilla inwards, over top of the ingredients by about 2 inches. Holding the sides in place, take the front of the tortilla and fold it over the rectangle so that it tucks as tightly as possible under the ingredients. Slowly roll it forward towards the back fold. You’re now ready to grill.

Place the burrito in the grill and press down lightly. Allow to grill for 4-5 minutes until the tortilla has lightly browned and the inner ingredients have warmed up. Eat right away and enjoy!Classic Restaurant-Style BurritosClassic Restaurant-Style Burritos

Christmas Cookie Recipe Roundup

Christmas Cookie Roundup

It’s that time of year again! I want all of your favourite holiday cookie recipes whether they’re frosted, cracked, dipped or dusted.

It’s simple:

  • Post your all-time favourite holiday cookie recipe in the comments or e-mail it to me at veronica@thevegetarianginger.com
  • I’ll compile all the entries into one amazing cookie roundup post
  • One entry will be baked and featured on the blog with whatever credits you choose

Dust off the recipe boxes, beg your grandma for her recipes and attempt to navigate long-lost bookmarks. I’m looking forward to seeing what you’ll be sending in! Check back on my Facebook page for updates as we move into December.

Happy (early) holidays,
Veronica

Apple Butter Gingerbread Loaf

Apple butter is pretty new to me. I’ve known about it for a long time but the idea of spreading it on toast just didn’t seem overly appealing for whatever reason. Not until I took a stop at The Big Apple did I realize how amazing it is in baked goods.

Stupid as it may sound, I didn’t properly read the instructions my first look through and didn’t realize this recipe made two loaves—you’d think the four cups of flour would have clued me in but on, I blindly persevered and ended up with far too much loaf (or so I thought). I don’t own two loaf pans so when I realized my mistake, I took a square baking pan and pour the second half of the batter in, planning to ice them and make squares. To my amazement I didn’t end up having to toss some of it out and it tasted great.

I adapted this recipe from Dizzy, Busy and Hungry. I changed a few things around but kept the same general ingredients and steps. I do feel the need to say don’t mind the sloppy photography on this one, it’s getting dark where I live at about 5pm this time of year which makes it a bit tougher.

Apple Butter Gingerbread Loaf

Ingredients

Makes 2 loaves

  • 4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 and ¾ cups coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 and ½ tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup apple butter
  • 1 and ½ cups milk
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup

Method

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, apple butter, milk, and maple syrup. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined.

Pour batter evenly into two 9×5 inch loaf pans. Bake for 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool and remove from loaf pan. Spread a mixture of softened cream cheese and apple butter for an extra rich flavour.

Apple Butter Gingerbread Loaf

Homemade Nutella

Nutella is one of those magical foods that makes everything amazing. Waffles, cookies, icing, peanut butter sandwiches, spoons…it’s all up to your imagination really.

I was dreading removing the skins from the hazelnuts because it seemed like kind of a tedious task, but once you roast them, they come off very easily. This process takes no more than 5 minutes and you will notice a major difference in texture.

I asked readers on my Facebook page to vote on which recipe I should make next. It was between Pistachio Eggplant or Nutella. As you can see, Nutella was the unanimous winner (no surprise there) so off I went.

Since this was my first time attempting to make my own Nutella, I stuck to the original milk chocolate flavour. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t experiment though. I bet a dark chocolate hazelnut spread would taste amazing.

Homemade NutellaHomemade Nutella

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw hazelnuts
  • 12 oz. high quality milk chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 3 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp. salt

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread hazelnuts out evenly on an ungreased cookie sheet and place in centre of oven for 9-10 minutes. Do not roast them for longer. They continue to cook after you remove them from the oven and burnt nutella is the last thing you want.

Carefully pour all the hazelnuts onto a clean, dry hand towel. Wrap the towel around them and rub vigorously until most of the skins have been removed. You can remove any excess skins by applying a small amount of pressure, using a pinching motion. Place the hazelnuts into the bowl of a food processor. Process until a paste has formed—this will take roughly 60 seconds.

Using a double boiler, melt down the chocolate chips, stirring frequently.

Add oil, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla and salt to the food processor and blend until well combined. Scrape down the sides as necessary. Once mixed, pour the melted chocolate into the hazelnut mixture and process until smooth and creamy. Strain the mixture once to rid of any remaining clumps.Homemade Nutella

Store in an airtight jar on the counter for up to 2 weeks (if it lasts that long). It will thicken as it cools. If you prefer a stiffer spread, I would recommend storing your nutella in the fridge.

French Toast Smoothie

Eating a meal in my household that everyone enjoys can be tricky. We’ve got one vegetarian, one gluten-free mom and a lactose-intolerant brother. This smoothie is quick, easy, vegan and can be widely enjoyed by anyone with a sweet tooth. It’s also a nice grain-free treat for people who can’t enjoy traditional french toast.

This recipe is pretty open-ended in terms of substitutions. I made this one vegan by using soymilk, but you could easily use regular milk, almond milk, even coconut milk if you’re looking for a stronger flavour. I used frozen avocado but it’s not a necessity—you could throw in some frozen banana slices too.

Oftentimes I’ll use an immersion blender for smoothies, especially if it’s for a single-serving recipe. I used a traditional blender for this recipe because the frozen avocado needs to be completely blended and creamy, so I needed a strong blade.

I was inspired to make this because of an upcoming initiative by Williams-Sonoma for Smoothie Week. You can find a wide range of the blenders they carry here. It’s so easy to want to settle into comfort foods once the weather cools down, smoothies tend to keep my inner-snacker in check. Making your own smoothies at home is cheap and much, much healthier than buying fast food smoothies. I don’t know what they put in those things but it’s not meant to be ingested.Vegan French Toast Smoothie

Ingredients

Makes 1 smoothie

  • 1 cup plain soymilk
  • 1/4 frozen avocado, peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. high-quality maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. ground flax seed
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt

Method

Remove avocado from the freezer and allow it to thaw for 5 minutes. Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Sprinkle a little bit of extra ground nutmeg and maple syrup on top for an extra kick of flavour.Vegan French Toast SmoothieFrench Toast Smoothie

White Bean, Okra and Buttercup Squash Stew

Cold weather always makes me want to sit inside with comfort food and go into a Netflix coma. Only problem is, when you live in a place where it’s cold a big portion of the year, you may form a permanent “winter layer”—not so desirable. This stew gives the best of both worlds by being a delicious comfort food while also being healthy and nutritious.

For most stews, I would say that they are better the day after you make them because the flavours develop and become stronger. For this one, I’d say day-of is best only because the texture of the okra changes the longer it sits. I honestly can’t explain why because I haven’t done much cooking with okra; the first day it was tender and soft, mixed well with everything. Further on in the week it felt chewier and like it had become a little harder…not quite as pleasant as before.

For those of you that have never tried buttercup squash before, I’d recommend it. The flavours aren’t as strong as a butternut squash and once cooked, the texture can be compared to cooked potatoes. It absorbs flavours really well in soups, stews and curries, so it was perfect for this dish.

I adapted this recipe from Amateur Vegan Chef.

White Bean, Okra and Buttercup Squash Stew

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 small carrot, chopped
  • 1 whole tomato chopped
  • 2 pods fresh okra, scrubbed and sliced
  • 1 (425g) can of white beans—do not drain
  • 1 medium-sized buttercup squash, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 3 drops extreme hot sauce
  • 1 tsp. white vinegar
  • 1 tsp. cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. dried dill weed
  • Salt to taste
  • A dash of cayenne pepper

Method

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic, carrot and celery and heat until the onions are translucent. Add in the tomato, okra, beans and squash. Do not rinse the beans. Fill the empty can with water twice and add that to the pot.

Add in all seasoning. Simmer, covered, on medium-low until the squash can be easily pierced with a fork. Serve hot with rice and you’re set for a healthy, filling meal.White Bean, Okra and Buttercup Squash StewWhite Bean, Okra and Buttercup Squash Stew

Buffalo Blue Cheese Cauliflower

Want a late night snack that won’t give you post-greasy food itis? Here it is.

I made this not realizing how potent the taste of two hot sauces and strong blue cheese are, and decided to split it between two people. While it tasted delicious it was really strong and the spice built up after a while—I decided that it would be perfect as a side dish or appetizer for roughly six people.

This dish is great because of it’s simplicity and versatility. Add it on top of your burgers, serve it hot with toothpicks at parties, and even sprinkle them on pizza.

In all fairness, this isn’t a comparable snack to actual buffalo chicken wings because the flavours aren’t replicated here (or the texture). I just borrowed the sauce from one dish and added it to another.Buffalo Blue Cheese Cauliflower

Ingredients

Serves 6

  • 1 head cauliflower, leaves removed
  • 2 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. canola oil
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup hot sauce, such as Frank’s Red Hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup sriracha hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tbsp. crumbled blue cheese

Method

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Cut the stalk end off the cauliflower so that the head sits flat and place it on a large baking sheet. Rub 2 tablespoons of the canola oil all over the cauliflower, coating it well. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and roast until it begins to brown, about 30 minutes.

Transfer the cauliflower to a cutting board and allow it to cool completely. Once the cauliflower is cool enough to touch (it stays hot in the middle for quite a while), cut or break it into small florets.

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring both of the hot sauces to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, then slowly whisk in the butter until fully incorporated, about 5 minutes. Shut off heat and set aside.

In a large, deep saucepan over moderate heat, warm the remaining 1 teaspoon canola oil. Add the cauliflower florets and sauté until heated through. Add enough buffalo sauce to coat the cauliflower and continue sautéing until both the cauliflower and the sauce are hot, about 5 minutes. Transfer the cauliflower to a platter and garnish with the crumbled blue cheese.Buffalo Blue Cheese Cauliflower