Patrick’s Birthday Carrot Cake with Cinnamon Cheesecake

If you all follow us on Instagram,  you know we recently celebrated Patrick’s birthday with his favorite dessert [aka carrot cake cheesecake]. This is now my 4th time trying out different recipes and this is by far my favorite. Just know, the cake is large and you will definitely have lots to share. If you’d like it to be smaller, we recommend cutting the recipe in half! This cake is a bit time consuming [about 2 hours] but well worth it for special occasions!

recipe adapted from: life, love and sugar

ingredients

cinnamon cheesecake

  • 24 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 large eggs

carrot cake

  • 20 oz peeled raw carrots
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut in cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 large egg white
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 8 Medjool Dates, diced
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/8 tsp all spice
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes

whipped cream cheese frosting

  • 16 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream, cold
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped pecans and/or walnuts

recipe

Cheesecake:

1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Line the entire inside of a 9 inch cake pan with aluminum foil. Press it into the pan to get it as flat as you can. Grease [we sprayed olive oil]. You’ll use the aluminum foil to lift the cheesecake out of the pan when it’s baked and cooled.
2. In a large mixer bowl, mix the cream cheese, sugar and flour together until combined. Use low speed to keep less air from getting into the batter, which can cause cracks. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
3. Add the sour cream, vanilla extract and and cinnamon and mix on low speed until well combined.
4. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing slowly and scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition.
5. Pour the cheesecake batter into the lined cake pan.
6. Place the cake pan inside another larger pan. I use a larger cake pan, but you can use a roasting pan or any other larger baking pan. Fill the outside pan with enough warm water to go about halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake for 1 hour.
7. Turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake in the oven with the door closed for 30 minutes. Do not open the door or you’ll release the heat.
8. Crack oven door and leave the cheesecake in the oven for another 30 minutes. This cooling process helps the cheesecake cool slowly to prevent cracks.
9. Remove cheesecake from oven and chill until firm, 5-6 hours.

Carrot Cake:

10. Puree carrots in food processor.
11. Preheat the oven to 350°F.Line the bottom of two 9 inch cake pans with parchment paper and grease the sides.
13. In a large mixer bowl, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light in color and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Don’t skimp on the creaming time.
14. Add the vanilla extract and vegetable oil and mix until combined.
15. Add the eggs one at a time
16. Add the egg white and mix until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to make sure everything is combined.
17. Combine the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl.
18. Add half of the flour mixture to the batter and mix until combined.
19. Add the carrot puree to the batter and mix until combined.
20. Add the remaining flour mixture and mix until well combined and smooth.
21. Stir in the coconut flakes and dates. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to ensure everything is well combined.
22. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with a few crumbs.
23. Remove cakes from the oven and allow to cool for 3-4 minutes, then remove from the pans to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

Frosting + Assembly:

24. Add the cream cheese to a large mixer bowl and beat until smooth, then set aside.
25. Add the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and cinnamon to another bowl and whip until soft peaks form.
26. Add the cream cheese to the whipped cream and whip until stiff peaks form. It will happen fairly quickly. Set whipped frosting in the refrigerator.
27. Use a large serrated knife to remove the domes from the top of the two carrot cakes.
28. Place the first layer of cake on a serving plate or a cardboard cake round. Spread about 1 cup of frosting evenly on top of the cake layer.
29. Use the aluminum foil to lift the cheesecake out of the cake pan, remove the foil and place the cheesecake on top of the cake.
30. Spread another cup of frosting evenly on top of the cheesecake, then add the second layer of cake on top. If the sides of the cake don’t line up, use a serrated knife to trim off the excess cake or cheesecake.
31. Frost the outside of the cake
33. Sprinkle nuts on top of cake.

Happy Baking!

-The Neilan Family-

Chocolate Chip Jumbo Cookies [with optional pistachio + walnuts]

It’s been awhile since we posted a fantastic dessert recipe, so HERE. IT. IS. The best cookie of all time. There is only ONE way I love my cookies and that is super chewy/gooey. The key to this is making your cookies HUGE. Yes, that is the answer. I am still all about portion control sooo I typically cut our gigantic cookies in half or in fourths depending how I’m feeling/how hungry! Definitely give these guys a try and if you prefer crunch, just make them a bit smaller!

There are two ways to make this recipe depending on how decadent you want to get or what the occasion is! Try subbing half the butter for applesauce to decrease some of that saturated fat! Delicious both ways, if you are bringing to an event or if it is an occasion or if you just feel like the real thing, we recommend keeping the recipe as is. It definitely is a cookie that will impress!!!

ingredients

  • 1 C Butter [cut into cubes for easier mixing] As mentioned above you can sub half of the butter for applesauce
  • 1 C Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 C Sugar [we used coconut sugar]
  • 2 Eggs [we used vital farms]
  • 2 1/2 C Flour [we used 100% whole wheat]
  • 1/2 C Coconut Flour [if you don’t have it, just add another 1/2 of reg flour or whatever you used for the above- we just love that little hint of coconut]
  • 1 Tsp Corn starch
  • 3/4 Tsp Baking soda
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 2 C Chocolate Chips
  • 1 C Walnuts Chopped
  • 1 Package of Pistachio Pudding Mix OR 1 C Pistachios [this step is optional]

recipe

  1. Preheat oven to 410 degrees
  2. In a mixing bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar, and regular sugar until creamy
  3. Add eggs one at a time
  4. Stir in flours, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Mix just until combined without over mixing
  5. Stir in chocolate chips, walnuts and/or pistachios
  6. Separate dough into LARGE balls and place on pre-greased cookie sheet.
  7. The dough should make 8 extra large cookies [they will look gigantic]
  8. Bake for 9-12 minutes. They will look like they are not thoroughly cooked but they are!
  9. Let them sit for 10 minutes
  10. Enjoy!

We hope you enjoy this sweet treat!

– The Neilan Family-

-T— jkfj

Loaded Veggie + Bean Enchiladas

As you all know, if you follow us on the wonderful world of Instagram, burritos are one of my absolute favorite foods. So why not bundle up a whole bunch, throw them in a pan and call them enchiladas! We made half with ground turkey meat and half with veggies and beans. You can always mix up your personal protein preference.

This was actually our first enchilada go around [homemade] and Patrick said, I really outdid myself aka a definite WIN!! They were so yummy, so easy and great for the whole week.

Note: We had some bell peppers in the house and stuffed them with all the left over ingredients! If you want to do this too, have some extra on hand!

ingredients

  • Tortillas [the only brand we use + LOVE Ole Xtreme Wellness High Fiber]
  • Enchilada Sauce [it was a week night and we opted to use Trader Joe’s brand. It has 220mg of sodium per 1/4 C, not too bad because we definitely did not use that much on each enchilada]
  • 1 small can of chipotle chilis in adobo sauce
  • 2lb ground turkey [or your choice of meat/beans]
  • 1 Can of vegetarian refried beans [by choosing vegetarian, you are eliminating the lard/bacon fat that many regular brands contain]
  • You can use taco seasoning of choice [we like hot + spicy or our own homemade seasoning – see below]
  • 2 sliced jalapenos
  • Mexican shredded cheese [can omit or use vegan cheese]
  • 1 diced yellow onion
  • 2 diced yellow, red or orange bell peppers
  • Plain Greek yogurt or sour cream to top
  • 2 chopped scallions
  • purple potatoes [about 10 small potatoes- ours were about the size of a ping pong ball. if yours are larger, use less]
  • no salt added canned corn
  • Avocado to top

optional spicy taco seasoning [you can use this to season beans and/or meat]

  • 2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. red pepper

recipe

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Spray 13 x 9 glass baking dish with olive oil + set aside
  3. Bring pot of water to boil + add purple potatoes. Take them off heat once you are able to easily place a fork through it. Drain + set potatoes aside.
  4. Follow instructions to cook ground turkey meat and add taco seasoning [if you are using beans in place of meat, sauté beans in a pan with taco seasoning as well]
  5. Add diced onion and bell peppers to ground meat [or bean]/taco seasoning mixture and sauté until golden
  6. Add chipotle chilis to ground meat [or bean] mixture
  7. Dice purple potatoes. Ours were small to begin with and we diced them into fours.
  8. Once bean or meat mixture is cooked thoroughly, take your first tortilla and layer with bean or meat mixture, then dollop refried beans, then sprinkle corn, then add purple potatoes. Add your enchilada [open side faced down] on your prepped baking dish
  9. Continue until you use all of the tortillas
  10. Pour enchilada sauce over
  11. Then sprinkle cheese [vegan or regular] to taste on top
  12. Sprinkle sliced jalapenos and chopped scallions on top
  13. Cover with tin foil
  14. Bake for 25 minutes
  15. Take off tin foil, then broil for 2-5 min until top is browned
  16. Allow to cool + enjoy with some delish avocado, hot sauce + Greek yogurt or sour cream!

Eggplant + Hemp Meatballs

Photo: Kitchen of Youth

We had two beautiful eggplants in our fridge this week and we’ve been making varieties of eggplant parm around the clock lately [or so it feels]. We wanted to try something new this time= so, we came up with- Eggplant + Hemp Meatless Meatballs!! They are super, SUPER yummy. They also happen to be gluten free, paleo, + vegetarian aka all the plant based goodness! This is one of those recipes that even if you’re not an eggplant fan, you’ll love. It’s a great option for Meatless Mondays or really any day of the week! Pair it with pasta, spaghetti squash, salad, crumble it up and make a tortilla- the sky is the limit [as always].

We doubled the recipe + it lasted about a week.

ingredients

• 1 medium/large eggplant, diced

• 1 medium onion, diced

• 5 large garlic cloves, minced

• 1 Tbsp Hemp Seeds

• 1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil

• sea salt and black pepper to taste

• 1 cup almond flour

• 1 tsp fresh or dried basil

• ½ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded [can sub for vegan Parmesan]

• 1 egg white, beaten with a fork [can sub for flax egg. Find out how to make this vegan option here, The Incredible, Edible Flax Egg + Green Muffin Recipe]

recipe

1 Preheat the oven to 400°F.

2 Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

3 Place the eggplant, onion, and garlic on the baking tray and toss with the oil and a bit of salt and pepper.

4 Roast in the oven for about 45 minutes, or until you start to see some charred edges.

5 Remove from oven and now reduce the oven temp to 375°F.

6 Scrape the roasted veggies into a food processor. Pulse 10 times — you want there to still be some chunks in the mixture.

7 Transfer the veggie mixture to a large bowl and stir in the almond flour, basil, hemp, Parmesan and egg white. Combine well.

8 Roll into golf ball – size balls. (I found it easier to do this with wet hands).

9 Arrange the balls on the baking tray (use the same piece of parchment paper).

10 Bake for about 50 minutes, without turning the balls over. You will know they are done when they release from the parchment paper without sticking. Make sure you let the balls cool before you try to release them completely; this will help them release more easily without sticking.

11 Enjoy your balls with your favorite pasta, sauce, salad, sandwich..

Modified recipe from Kitchen of Youth. 

Photo: Kitchen of Youth

Enjoy guys + Happy Friday Eve!

– The Neilan Family-

Blueberry Muffies

Lets be honest- we all love the top of the muffin the best. Whenever I make a batch in the house, I end up with a bunch of muffin stubs laying around. This is exactly why the blueberry muffie recipe was born.

You can either bake these in a regular baking dish or a muffin tin! The bottom layer is from another recipe we’ve posted: [Vegan] Dreamy Banana Date Bar – because why mess with perfection. The middle layer is chia seed jam and the top portion is a oat, hemp + almond crumble. It. is. delicious.

about sugar: Usually when it comes to sweet in a recipe, we say “to taste” often. This is because depending on what kind of sugar you use on daily basis- what’s sweet to me, might not be sweet to you! I have actually weaned myself off of Splenda and artificial sweeteners because I didn’t like that it took more and more for me to taste the sweetness. That is why you see pure maple syrup and pure honey in a majority of our recipes!

ingredients: base

  • 2.5 cups quick oats
  • 2 tbsp ground flax
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 overripe bananas sliced in half lengthwise then chopped up
  • 8 medjool dates (68 g without pits), chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 packets Stevia or 1/4 C Honey – to taste
  • We added hemp powder [Manitoba Harvest: Hemp Yeah, Max Protein]

recipe for base

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Add the oats, flax, coconut, protein powder [if you’re using] and cinnamon to a bowl and stir to combine.
  3. Mix in the vanilla and almond milk. Fold in the chopped banana and dates. (Taste the dough and add a bit of stevia if you want them a little sweeter.)
  4. Place in either muffin tin OR baking dish
  5. Bake for 15 minutes.
  6. Set aside, it will go back in the oven after the jam + crumble topping.

ingredients + recipe: chia seed jam 

  • 2 heaping cups of frozen mixed berries (or fruit of your choice)
  • 3/4 C water
  • 1-2 Tbsp of Pure Maple Syrup
  • 1 Tbsp Chia Seeds
  1. Place berries and water in a small sauce pot- turn on medium heat- and bring to boil. Stirring occasionally.
  2. Use a fork or spoon to help the fruit breakdown
  3. Once liquid has been absorbed and the jam is your desired consistency [we prefer some clumps of fruit], remove pan from heat and add maple syrup + chia seeds.
  4. Whisk for about 5 minutes to make sure chia seeds don’t clump up on you
  5. After the base has baked for 15 minutes, add a generous amount of chia seed jam on top. We put a generous amount but you might have extra jam regardless [yay!]

ingredients + recipe: crumble topping

  • 1 C Rolled Oats
  • 1/4 C Sliced Almonds
  • 1/4 Hemp Seeds
  • 1/4 C Honey or to taste

recipe 

  1. Mix above ingredients in a bowl
  2. Crumble over chia seed jam
  3. Place muffies back in the oven for 15 minutes at 350

PS: To switch it up and get a little crazy, you can always layer some jam in the middle + top too!

-The Neilan Family-

Dreamy Butternut Squash Mac + Cheese

Sweet-Potato-Mac-n-Cheese-Vegan-Gluten-Free-4-1024x683
Photo: The Colorful Kitchen

We adore mac + cheese [who doesn’t]. This recipe is our go to when we want the real deal- cheese included. When we make this recipe – since it’s pretty decadent- we think of it as a side and usually pair it with a salad. If you’re lookin for a Vegan version, check out our next post [coming out this week].

I know sometimes it’s annoying in recipes when you see something you don’t have on hand [trust us- hate that] BUT Gouda + fresh thyme is what makes this recipe SO delish. Without, it’s just not the same. So- definitely worth the trip to the grocery store! We promise.

We make this recipe with Banza pasta [aka chickpea pasta] and it’s great. Extra protein, extra fiber, less carbs- sign. us. up. The one thing to be careful with [with chickpea pasta, lentil, etc] is that you don’t want to overcook it or it just turns out to be mush. Personally, I don’t even follow the directions on the box. I only let Banza boil for 5 minutes and then take it off. That’s really all it needs!

We typically add kale and peas to this recipe but the nice this is you can get creative and add whatever floats your boat. Broccoli is another delish addition.

ingredients 

  • 1 box of pasta of your choice
  • Sea Salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, plus a few sprigs for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons whole wheat flour
  • 1 (10 ounce) box frozen cooked butter nut squash, defrosted
  • 2 Cups Chicken Stock
  • 1 cup cashew/almond [or milk of your choice]
  • 1 1/2 cups sharp Cheddar, grated
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Black pepper
  • 1/4 C Gouda Cheese
  • 2 Cups Kale and/or Green Peas and/or Broccoli

recipe

  1. Heat a pot of water to boil for the pasta. Salt the water then add the pasta and cook per preference [if using lentil or chickpea- recommend tasting every so often. we boil Banza pasta for 5 minutes only or else you’ll have mush!
  2. In a large pot, add the extra-virgin olive oil and butter. Place on medium heat. When the butter melts into the oil, add the thyme and onion directly into the pot. Cook the grated onion in butter and oil 1 to 2 minutes, then add flour and cook together 1 to 2 more minutes.
  3. Add chicken stock.
  4. Then stir in butternut squash
  5. Cook until warmed and smooth.
  6. Stir in milk of choice and bring to boil
  7. Stir in cheeses and season the completed sauce with salt, nutmeg and pepper. Taste to adjust seasonings.
  8. Drain cooked pasta well and combine with sauce. Serve alongside with broccoli, kale and/or peas!

We hope you enjoy!!

  – The Neilan Family-

Eggplant [or Zucchini] Lasagna

Ok guys. This is a Romano Family delicacy and it. is. so. good. Every birthday I am always asking for 1 of 2 things [+ my mom typically makes both]. It’s always either this recipe or the stuffed artichoke recipe. For my vegan friends, we just made this on Sunday without cheese and it tastes EQUALLY delicious. So you know to do with the recipe- kick out the cheese + you’re good to go. Plant based, delicious meal comin right up. 

Two options for this recipe. The traditional family recipe calls for  pan frying the eggplant; however, you can also bake! When I make this recipe at home we bake + it tastes the exact same!

From the Dietitian: Eggplants are an excellent source of fiber, folate, potassium and manganese, as well as vitamins C, K, and B6, phosphorus, copper, thiamin, niacin, and magnesium! For these reasons eggplants are beneficial for healthy skin + bones.

From the Doctor: Why I love eggplant- besides the great taste? It’s great for heart health. One study found eggplants reduced inflammation and improved ventricular function. This is because they are loaded with cardioprotective compounds known as phytonutrients. Also, eggplants lower LDL “bad” cholesterol levels, which in turn, aids in avoiding any plaque build-up [which eventually could lead to blocked arteries].

Eggplants are also an awesome veggie for diabetics due to the low carbohydrate, high fiber content.

photo: savory simple

ingredients

  • 1 or 2 eggplant [you can sub 4 or 5 zucchini- we have made it both ways and you can’t go wrong either way]
  • 3 eggs beaten [for vegan friends, 1 C almond milk]
  • All purpose flour [feel free to use whole wheat, oat, sprouted flour, coconut- this is just to coat the zucchini/eggplant]
  • Seasoned Breadcrumbs
  • Sea Salt
  • Olive Oil
  • 1lb Fresh Mozzarella [grated or sliced thin]
  • Grated Locatelli [Parmesan] cheese
  • Marinara Sauce [click link for recipe]

recipe

  1. Preheat oven to 425
  2. Make marinara sauce recipe above first [or your own red sauce recipe or jar of sauce per preference]
  3. Cut off ends and peel eggplant or zucchini
  4. Cut lengthwise [hot dog style] into slices of about 1/4 in thick
  5. For eggplant, to remove any bitter taste, sprinkle with sea salt and place in a colander. Set aside for a 1-2 hours for best results; then, remove slices, rinse and pat dry [skip this step if you have a time constraint OR if you are using zucchini]
  6. Lightly flour each slice of eggplant or zucchini
  7. Then dip in beaten egg [or almond milk] making sure each slice is thoroughly covered with egg [or milk].
  8. You can either pan fry OR bake.
  9. For Pan Frying: Place about 1/4 C Olive Oil  in a large pan, fry each slice, turning over so that both sides are lightly browned; then, remove from pan and place on paper towel to soak up excess oil. For Baking: After dipping eggplant in both flour + egg. Place as many eggplant as you can fit on a baking pan and bake for 5-8 min [you should be able to easily place your fork through eggplant]
  10. In a large roasting pan- cover bottom of pan with a layer of red sauce. Place slices of eggplant or zucchini in a single layer, side by side to cover sauce; then, top the slices with mozarella and sprinkle with grated cheese. Begin again with sauce and repeat layers until all slices have been used.
  11. Top with sauce and grated cheese.
  12. Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes.
  13. Top with red pepper to taste.

Hope you enjoy one of our favorite meals of all time. It is so worth the bit of work that goes into it. We promise! Once you do it once, you will find it easy the second time around. Also, making red sauce in large batches and freezing – saves lots of time and helps avoid the “oh no, I’m out of time- have to grab a jar of sauce” situation!

photo: savory simple

Feel free to message us with any questions!

-The Neilan Family-