Polar Express Gingerbread Train

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Merry Christmas! I hope you’re spending holidays with loved ones doing the things you love. I’ve been doing a lot of sewing – which I enjoy like meditation – and today I’m in the kitchen. No doubt for most of the day! I’m not one to sit down much. Creating something special for my family puts me in the holidays spirit.

 

IMG_6820Every year, I’m tempted to make a gingerbread train with my special cake pan and it often goes not quite as planned. I considered making other plans but my kids are getting older and I don’t know how much longer the Polar Express will excite them. So this year, I took no chances with the cake, I greased it meticulously and it came out perfectly. I used wax paper and vegan butter to make sure I got butter into every groove.

The cake pan is very detailed so the cake itself looks pretty when plain. I made a simple glaze and then decorated it with Skittles, sprinkles and icing sugar to give it a good dusting of snow.

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We don’t have much snow outside – enough to cover the walkways but not enough to cover the grass – this snowy scene may be the best we get this Christmas! The Christmas trees are cutouts we made recently, covered with glaze, Skittles and dusted with icing sugar.

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The cake is the gingerbread cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World. The glaze is simple (1 cup of icing sugar and 3 Tbsps of water with a drop of lemon extract).

Happy holidays everyone! And best wishes for a joyful new year!

 

Creamy cauliflower dip with cashews and caramelized onions

If you’re looking for something special to bring to a potluck or a party, I have your solution. This dairy-free dip is creamy with a kick of spice and it won’t impact your waistline. But there’s no need to wait for a special occasion – whip it up today for an indulgence you don’t have to share.

Note to parents: don’t let the Santa plate fool you – the kids won’t touch this dip. It’s sweet and spicy with caramelized onions and hot sauce, which makes it too flavourful for most kids. I could make a kid-friendly version but not today. This one’s just for the grown-ups.

Warm vegan cauliflower dip
Straight from the oven, this creamy dip tastes naughty but is really nice.

This recipe is a bit more time consuming than others because you have to soak the cashews. If you have a high speed blender, you only need to soak them in boiling water for 30 minutes. If you don’t have a Vitamix or similarly powerful blender, you should probably soak them overnight.

Creamy cauliflower dip

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika (or whatever kind you have on hand)
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 2 Tbsp hot sauce (optional)
  • 1 cup cauliflower (chopped very small)
  • 2 Tbsp oats
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Pour the boiling water over the raw cashews and soak them for 30 minutes or overnight (depending on the strength of your blender).

When you’re ready to make the dip, preheat the oven to 350 and find an ovenproof dish that can fit up to 3 cups of dip.

Heat a frying pan on medium-low heat, add the olive oil and the onion. Cook it for a few minutes until it starts to turn brown. Turn the heat down if it starts sticking. Add the garlic and cauliflower and continue to cook for another minute, stirring often to prevent burning. Add the balsamic vinegar, paprika, dry mustard and hot sauce and remove from the heat.

Put the cashews and their water in the blender with the oats and nutritional yeast and blend until smooth. Pour the cashew cream into the pan with the onion mixture and stir to combine. Pour this mixture into the ovenproof dish and bake for 15 minutes.

Serve with crackers, chips or fresh bread.

Vegan cauliflower dip
Even Santa approves of this nice treat.