Watermelon & Gin Granita

 

It’s officially a scorcher! Yowsas, I cannot believe the heat here at the moment … we finally have our summer – woohoo, wahay, yahoo! And, er,  if you didn’t deduce from my sun-dance celebrations, I should probably inform you that I lurves the heat … the hotter the better, keep it comin’, no clouds allowed. When the sun is out I am one happy (freckly) girl – and yes, I do wear sunscreen before you ask. However, just because the sun’s out doesn’t mean I abandon my kitchen entirely. Instead I make sure I’m stocked up on refreshing snacks to keep us nice and cool … enter my Watermelon & Gin Granita. If you already own my first book  ‘Keep it Vegan’ you will no doubt have come across my Cointreau Granita (yes, I like to use alcohol is my recipes, so shoot me), which is not only ridiculously easy to make but is super versatile too. I simply use the sugar syrup base and then add whatever ingredients I fancy – or have to hand in the kitchen. Standard. Recently I made a grapefruit version, which was pretty darn spectacular – so much so, even my grapefruit-loathing Husband happily snaffled it before promptly asking for seconds. That. Good. This watermelon twist was also another hit at a little midweek meet-up I hosted with my Sister-in-Law and her Hubby. Almost like an adult slushie (who doesn’t love an adult slushie?!), this simple little dessert seriously hits the spot on a piercingly hot summers day – in fact, straight after I took this photo, I practically inhaled the glass. Whilst it might look like fruity-coloured crushed ice (and it sorta is ‘cept better), the texture is quite different … soft and fluffy, kind of melt-in-your-mouth stuff, just amazing. I’m already onto my third batch in a fortnight and not even ashamed to say it. It’s also a terrific option if you don’t have an ice-cream maker – my one is basically broken (well, it never actually worked – long story), so I’m relying on granitas to see me through.

 

Because the weather has been so ruddy fantastic, we decided to forgo our planned holiday abroad and do a bit of stay-cationing instead. I mean, when you live in the best county in England (*cough cough*) it almost seems silly to fork out a fortune for a flight and hotel when we have some of the best beaches on our doorstep. Instead, we invested in a decent tent, as well as all the necessary accoutrements such as a gas stove, cooler bag etc. etc and headed to a part of Cornwall that we’d yet to properly explore – I highly recommend Polly Joke (quieter and more out of the way) and Crantock (busier but still fabulous). Last weekend was the trial run and it was beyond fantastic, so we really cannot wait to do it all again this Friday. As soon as Hubby gets back from work we are heading straight out (location yet to be decided) and pitching up for another glorious (fingers crossed) couple of days.

 

We also managed to squeeze in a trip to the cinema on Sunday evening to see Ghostbusters. I don’t think I can offer anything new to the overload of mixed reviews already on the internet except to say it had its moments but was generally disappointing. Even though I was optimistic and willing it to be great, it just didn’t do it for me … although I now have a total girl-crush on Kate McKinnon – or more precisely her character Holtzmann. I think Mark Kermode said she’s like a modern-day Tank Girl so that probably explains the appeal because I flippin’ loved Tank Girl! In actual fact the cast were pretty flawless and I think it has huge promise as a francise (bleugh) but it didn’t give me the same goosebumps as the Star Wars reboot and was bordering on ‘meh’. The story-line was the main issue (kinda crucial for a film) … it was zipping along nicely (the ‘haunted house’ opening was superb) until they became ‘the ghostbusters’ and then it fell a bit flat. The momentum just wasn’t there and even though I adore that semi-improv style, the pacing was off to me … in fact, I found the pacing was a bit ramshackle in general and needed something driving it on a bit more. With that said, there are definitely a handful of laugh-out-loud scenes (Chris Hemsworth as ‘Kevin’ was impeccable quite frankly) and it was certainly entertaining in parts – Melissa McCarthy has the ability to save any scene, any film, in my humble opinion, so it’s worth a watch for sure. On a positive note, I feel like now that they’ve established themselves as the new team, the next installment (if there is one?) will free them up to properly find their groove – I’m actually hoping they do make another one because it has heaps of potential … any excuse to see Holtzmann in action again.

 

what you’ll need

100g caster sugar

250ml water

grated zest and juice of 1 lime

10g fresh basil

1/4 small watermelon

60ml gin

 

what you’ll do

place the sugar, water, lime zest and juice, and basil leaves in a pan. bring to a steady boil and then reduce to a simmer for a minute or two or until the sugar has completely dissolved. remove from heat and set aside to cool.

 

cut the watermelon into large chunks and blend to a smooth puree. Strain the sugar syrup through a fine mesh sieve and add to blender. blitz until completely smooth. pour into a suitable dish or container and whisk in the gin.

 

freeze for an hour before scraping the semi-frozen granita with a fork. repeat every 30mins or so for a couple of hours until you achieve the desired consistency.

 

spoon into small tumblers or glass and adorn with a basil leaf.

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Summer Quencher recipe … and a 66 day challenge


 
I read somewhere that it takes 66 days to break a habit. And whilst I wouldn’t exactly call my alcohol consumption a habit, so much as something I enjoy on a weekly basis (Friday nights usually involve a glass or two or vino) I still like to have a break from it now and again. With that in mind I’ve decided the remainder of the summer and into the Autumn (October 9th to be exact) are to be a booze-free zone … although I may continue it long-term. Truth be told, I get less and less enjoyment from the odd G&T or Pinot Noir than I care to admit, preferring to have a cup of tea or sparkling water (San Pellegrino is my current fav) and so I got to thinking, why bother with it at all? I’m probably just turning into a boring old fart but even parties fill me with dread these days – small gatherings with people I know and trust are fine but other than that count me out. I guess I’m not a terribly social person and find certain situations quite awkward – my Husband feels the same way (weirdos unite!), preferring to have intimate dinner parties over major hooplas and usually without copious amounts of alcohol.
 
Living in the US opened our eyes to our cultural reliance on the hard stuff … our American friends tend to drink much less – not a firm fact just something we observed during our time there. Social events are less geared towards getting blind drunk and more towards eating, chatting and playing games. It sounds corny to say it was ‘good, clean fun’ but it was. I’ve got a few parties planned for the near future … I’ll be hosting a summer BBQ soon and will probably provide Pimms and whatnot for my friends (who, are all moderate drinkers thank goodness) but I will be abstaining and instead reaching for mocktails such as this Summer Quencher – truthfully, it tastes so fab, I really won’t feel like I’m missing out. It would also be terrific served in a champagne glass and topped off with soda water or san pellegrino … oh, and a sprig of mint would be delightful too, I just didn’t have one to hand.
 
Should anyone wish to join me on my booze-free voyage feel free to let me know and we can do it together – please do send any of your favourite mocktail concoctions my way, I’m eager to keep things interesting.
 
As a total aside, my new favourite toy also happens to be a blender … not any old blender (and believe me, I’ve tried quite a few!) but the new Kinetex Control Blender by Heston Blumenthal. It is the absolute bomb and I’ll be sure to do a proper review of it later but, for now, here’s the recipe in question …

 

what you’ll need

1 large orange

1 pink lady apple

1 x 4” piece of cucumber

1/2 lemon

1/2 lime

1 cup coconut water

splash of grenadine

 

to serve

lemon & lime slices

cucumber slices

1 x strawberry, quartered

sprig of mint, ice cubes and sparkling water (optional)

 

what you’ll do

Segment the orange and add to blender. Peel, de-seed and chop the apple and cucumber, and add to the blender along with the coconut water, lemon and lime juice. Blend until smooth and then pass through a sieve to render a colourful, smooth, vibrant drink.

 

Fill a glass with the lemon, lime and cucumber slices, as well as the strawberries and pour over the summery quencher. Finally, add a splash of grenadine. You could pop in a few ice-cubes and a sprig or two of mint.

 

To turn it from a long drink into a refreshing spritzer, simply divide the mixture between two champagne flutes and top with sparkling water.

 

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Virgin Pina Colada


 

So, I can’t actually remember how long it’s been since I last blogged – maybe a month, maybe more? My excuse is that I’ve been in the depths of book no. 2 and couldn’t come up for air, let alone a blog post and am only just getting back to normality after submitting my manuscript on Sunday. Now though, I’m ready to ease myself back into the swing of things with a simple but delicious smoothie … it’s the long drink I needed after pouring myself into my latest cookbook, which is due for release in January 2016. Yep, it feels like an age to me too. After writing ‘Keep it Vegan’ I felt an enormous weight had been lifted off my shoulders but that short-lived relief was quickly followed by an insurmountable dread that nobody would like or buy it. Thankfully my fears were unfounded but that doesn’t make releasing this one into the ether any easier – in fact, it feels as if more hinges on this publication being a success. Go figures.

 

With that said, I am so excited to reveal bits of the book to you guys, however, at the moment even the title is under wraps. What I can tell you is that I am over the moon with how it’s shaping up … the images are simply stunning, and I think there’ll be a little something for everyone – vegan, omni or otherwise. As ever, my recipes will be super straightforward (old habits die hard) with a good balance (gluten-free alongside sugar-filled is my style) and plenty of scope for you to adapt them to suit your needs and tastes. These are dishes I truly love to make myself, and although many were created especially for the book, they’ve now become regular features on my weekly menu too. Very few of the recipes are time consuming and, perhaps more importantly, I’ll be offering up tips on how to make your vegan lifestyle that wee bit easier with the inclusion of some non-foodie chapters outlining my approach to veganism. In a way, I write my books with me in mind – that may sound odd, but I kind of feel if I wouldn’t buy it, then why should I expect anyone else to. It’s also my only way of staying true to myself … something that is really, really important to me.

 

Okay, so enough waffle and onto the drink. If you really wanted to, you could totally pop some rum in this and turn it into a more grown-up affair but in my opinion it actually makes for a refreshing change to its usual boozy counterpart. Come Summer I am all about the pineapple, and try to secrete it into just about anything … salsa is a current top fav. Here though, it takes centre stage and rightly so – all we need now is for that predicted heatwave to hit.

 

what you’ll need

250g fresh pineapple, chopped

1 banana

100ml coconut cream

100ml coconut milk

1 large medjool date, stone removed

few ice-cubes

 

what you’ll do

Place all the ingredients into a high speed blender and blend until completely – for an even smoother finish, pour it through a fine mesh sieve.

Divide between two or three glasses and garnish with some pineapple. Serve immediately.


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Pomegranate & Thyme Mocktail

 

I don’t know about you but I can’t drink like I used to. Maybe it’s being in my thirties or perhaps it’s just my body saying ‘enough already’ but my alcohol inclination is simply becoming less and less. Take this weekend for example. As per usual, we settled down with our Friday night bottle of wine, mahoosive bowl of spaghetti and a movie. It’s our tradition and we love it; glass (or three) of red, pasta and a film… you just can’t beat it.

 

Except that when Saturday morning arrived, and after a so-so night’s sleep, I felt, not necessarily hungover (definitely not enough wine consumed for that), but certainly groggy. It was disappointing to say the least. Like most people I want to wake up refreshed at the weekend, not drained and mildly nauseous – and I’m slowly coming around to the thinking that the wine just ain’t worth it. But then came Saturday night. We were invited around to a friends for dinner (and Hubby wasn’t driving), which meant yet more wine, and yes, another patchy night’s sleep. In fact, after two nights on the trot I felt like I’d been run over by a bus with the only cure being a (vegan) fry-up followed by a blustery walk along the cliffs at Sennen and even then I wasn’t in tip-top shape.

 

So. Clears throat. Drum-roll purlease. I’ve decided that the next two weeks will be an alcohol free zone. Now, I know that sounds like no biggie (a fortnight is nothing in the grand scheme of things) but it will at least give me a glimpse into what life will be like when I have no choice in the matter – pregnancy prep, if you will (although let’s pretend you didn’t read that, m’kay?). However, in the meantime, I still want to enjoy the odd non-alcoholic tipple, which is why my attention has swiftly turned to the much ridiculed ‘mocktail’. Although it’s not quite as exciting as a Sidecar this fragrant ‘Pomegranate & Thyme’ cocktail alternative has enough layers of flavour to feel like a grown-up drink – crucially separating from it juice counterparts. Served in a vintage cocktail glass and adorned with a sprig of thyme, a few pomegranate seeds and a satsuma peel twist, I can honestly ‘hand-on-my-heart’ say I didn’t miss the booze. Okay, so I missed it a wee bit but I’m still willing to give this booze-free existence a go. See you on the other side my friends.

 


 

what you’ll need

1/2 pomegranate

2 satsumas

1/2 lime

several sprigs of thyme

1 tsp agave (optional)

 

what you’ll do

juice the pomegranate, satsumas and lime and place in a cocktail shaker with several ice-cubes.

 

gently rub the sprigs of thyme between your fingers to release the flavour and add to shaker along with agave if using.

 

shake vigorously until thoroughly muddled.

 

adorn glasses with a sprig of thyme, slice of lime, pomegranate seeds and satsuma peel.

 

pour and enjoy.

 

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A Month of Sundays

from top left….1. favourite summer ‘aloha’ dress with lemon polka dot blouse tied at waist 2. fruli time in Blackheath 3. dress pockets are made for stashing sweeties (gelatine free) 4. indoor gardening – a man and his plants 5. Blackheath Common in the sun 6. Greenwich tea time (geddit?) 7. early breakfast – toast with pb, sliced banana, cinnamon and nutmeg 8. workday dress – tights in July?9. asos polka dot high waisted bikini and annie greenabelle organic mint vest 10. cocktail time – rum, vodka, pomegrante & lime juice 11. jeans, tee and no make-up day 12. a man and his camera – testing out the new lens 13. back on the sugar wagon – pancake sunday 14. lights, camera, fall back into a makeshift ball pool 15. new ‘accidentally vegan’ snacks 16. chilling in the park 17. late night hot cocoa 18. lucy’s vegan cookies from wholefoods 19. little pan, lotta yum 20. Greenwich Park in all its glory

Not literally a month of Sundays but it’s certainly felt like it!

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Cucumber Cooler

So here’s the thing.

I’m toying with the idea of changing the name of my blog. What with it not solely being a food blog any longer and more along the lines of a lifestyle blog, I’m not sure the name fits.

Yes, I still eat and yes, I still blog about food but I think peasoupeats no longer cuts the mustard and I’d hate to be misleading people who’ve come to the blog expecting food, recipes, drinks and instead are getting food, clothes, beauty with a little bit of home thrown in for good measure. Know what I mean?

My food obsession remains. If I’m not thinking about food, I’m making it, reading cookbooks, other foodblogs, thinking up recipes and generally pottering about my kitchen, which remains my sanctuary.

But I don’t regret for a second introducing other elements into the blog. I enjoy having the freedom to write about my other passions and there really is no going back now. I’m having way too much fun!

My question to you wonderful people is what should I call my little part of the web? It could go one of two ways…..I stick with peasoup (and use it alone….i.e. peasoup.com) or add another appropriate noun at the end – suggestions welcome! OR…..scrap the name altogether and start anew. Eek! That kinda freaks me out a bit but I’d be willing to go for it I thought it would benefit the blog.

Let me know what you think and while I wait for your magnificent ideas to roll in (help me!), let me leave you with a refreshing drink recipe. This cucumber cooler makes a great mocktail or pop a bit of rum in for a super summery alcoholic drink.

ingredients

1/2 cucumber, peeled and deseeded

2 apples, peeled and cored

1 carton coconut water – flavoured or plain

juice 1/2 lime, more for serving

small handful of garden mint and basil

ice, lots of it

method

put the cucumber, apples, coconut water and lime into a blender and blitz until smooth.

place mint, basil, sliced lime in the bottom of two glasses, top with ice and divide the cooler between them.

spritz a little more lime on top and finish with a few more mint and basil leaves.

serve.

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this and that…

We’ve been planting. Flowers, asparagus and herbs. It seemed silly to put the herbs in the garden when I’d need immediate access to them – not that a two minute journey is such a hardship but anyways. Not shown here is the basil and chive plants, which are further over on the ledge….

I like cocktails. You probably know that already – strawberry margarita anyone?I’ve been using my giraffe cocktail sticks a lot lately – freebies from, not surprisingly, Giraffe. I like to keep plastic cutlery because I fear it will end up in a landfill when they are all perfectly reusable….

I acquired a jug that I happen to LOVE. Bonus that it cost me only 2 pounds in a charity shop and it fits right in with all my other kitchen acoutrements. Oh and we finally converted our Dualit toaster (we had to change the elements, yawn) so we can now have toast in two minutes flat. This is kind of (very) exciting…..

The NSPCC left a bag for us to fill with clothes and fill it I did. I donated numerous pieces I haven’t worn in ages and as it was for a good cause I didn’t hesitate for a second. It also made me realise I have an embarrassing amount of clothes I wear far too infrequently if indeed ever. This dress/top (I’m not brave enough to wear it as a dress) is one such garment, which my Mother bought me in St.Ives, Cornwall. I thought I’d don it for a recent trip to the supermarket and it definitely brightened up my day….

My herbs, spices and oil collection is reasonably big (I would love more oils but they’re so expensive!). Cooking is so much more fun when you have all these flavour combinations at your fingertips – cumin might be my favourite spice closely followed by smoked paprika….

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What I’m loving. Eating. Wearing.

So it would seem one post a week it all I can muster whilst I’m interning. Hmmm. Still though, I hope I can content you with a rundown of what I’ve been currently cooking, eating, drinking, wearing and generally loving over the past few weeks.

I wholeheartedly intend to post a recipe tomorrow though just so you don’t forget this is in fact a food blog. When I say recipe, of course, what I really mean is a dish that requires no more than a few steps – so, yet again, an ‘assembling’ jobbo. Likewise, just about all I can muster when I either a. get up in the morning, b. come home in the evening or c. can be bothered to make at the weekend whilst I am recovering from my working week.

On the plus side, I’m pleased to say my stamina levels are on the up and up, as I slowly acclimatize to my new 9-5 routine (or 10-6, as the case may be).

Dinner has generally been a rushed affair although no less tasty than usual and as I grapple with adjusting my already existing recipe repertoire to fit in with my new lifestyle I am finding new ways of cooking and eating on the hop. Sushi rice seasoning is a great way of injecting a bit of flavour and zing to my stirfries and where I would normally allow my tomato sauce to simmer for hours, I’ve found a bit more herb, balsamic and muscovado sugar action goes a long way to bringing out flavour in a short space of time.

To further save us time and energy, we have succombed to having our fruit and veg delivered. After much research we settled on The Organic Delivery Company who provide us with an enormous box of seasonal produce on a weekly basis – all of it so wonderful we could never go back to Supermarket stock again. Quite honestly, it is the best 40quid (we opted for the largest box) we part with and even though we always ate a substantial amount of fruit and veg, our intake has probably now doubled. They also deliver cupboard essentials like pulses, canned tomatoes and tofu – a good range of it too. Fantastic.

Clothing wise, I’m still a thrifter at heart and therefore most of what I wear is vintage, second hand etc, which I usually pair with basic essentials from places like Zara, Gap, H&M although I aim to be a bit more selective in the future where I get my newbies from, as I really loathe partaking in fast fashion although I can’t deny it is my one of my biggest downfalls.

We’ve totally curtailed our spending since February and I have to say we are doing pretty darn well on the frugal front with less and less being spent on non-essentials. However, in my world cupcakes and coffee are still regarded as essentials….

Friday saw the end of my internship with The Daily Express although I wasn’t too sad as I have a feeling I’ll be back at some point for another little stint with the fashion team. I can’t thank everyone enough for the magnificent opportunity to work there, it’s been an invaluable stepping stone in my endeavour to make this styling/writing lark an actual career. I was so chuffed with my goodie bag too, full of super pretty things -including several eco-conscious items from ecotools and weleda. They know me too well.

I might as well end with my enduring love for Marmite. If you don’t know how I feel about the stuff already, then read this and you’ll be in no doubt about how greatly my regard is for this sticky, salty glorious goo that I spread on toast, dollop in sauces and, at times, eat straight from the jar.

 

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Pom Orange Drink

 

Not so much a recipe post, as a this is what i’m currently digging post.

I doubt anyone needs to be told that mixing two kinds of juices creates an uber delicious juice but what the heck……pomegranate and orange is definitely worth a mention. Dare I say it – it trumps cranberry and orange by about a thousand percent. No lie. I’m digging it. Big time.

You may note my 80’s patterned tall glass, which was picked up in a random Welsh charity shop several years ago. We were spending News Years Eve in a cottage with friends and our 80’s theme needed some appropriate accessories – you can’t be drinking out of a modern glass whilst clad from head to toe in neon for petes sake!

And the crazy naked lady cocktail stirrer? Well, that was ‘gift’ from my Mother. Nuff said.

ingredients

orange juice

pomegranate juice

method

put ice in a glass.

fill half with orange juice and top up with pomegranate juice.

stir.

drink up!

 

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Winter Warmer Cocktail

What an unbelievably stressful few days it has been.

As if Christmas wasn’t all consuming enough, we’ve just gone and moved back to London in the midst of it and things haven’t exactly gone according to plan – the plan being, to move in, unpack, decorate our new flat and begin preparations for the big day. No such luck. We arrived to a filthy flat that requires total repainting, a dodgy boiler, a nest of ladybirds in the spare room, I think I’ll leave it there.

Some of you may know already, so forgive for repeating myself, but we have moved into the apartment just above my Sister – much to my Mothers delight! It’s a two bedroom flat, which means Mama and Papa have their own room for when they come to visit and seeing as the flights back to Ireland were of a colossal nature they have instead decided to travel to us this year.

That means I will be in charge of Christmas dinner, and whilst this is not unfamiliar territory, I am a little more anxious than usual because of the move.

Delegation will be key. I shall be dividing tasks between myself and my Sister, as my list of side dishes almost runs into double numbers:

sweet potato casserole

green bean casserole

braised cabbage and apple

maple roasted parsnips

stuffing balls

sliced brussels with chestnuts and dried cranberries

roast potato

cranberry sauce

bread sauce

gravy

Wait! That is double numbers. I must be mad.

And not forgetting dessert, snacks and bread for Christmas morning….

pumpkin pie

Nigella’s veganized trifle

ginger bundt cake

vegan pumpkin everything bread (this has become somewhat of a tradition in our house)

Yes, I am most definitely mad.

Factor in the fact our apartment is nowhere near habitable and I have another weeks work experience at Closer Mag and you’ll begin to understand why I need a few festive cocktails to get me help me through what has turned into a mega manic time.

If, like me, you need some alcoholic aid to see you through the yuletide season then look no further than my Winter Warmer cocktail, which has just enough bite to put a spring back in your weary step.

It’s great to see that cider is taking off again as a Christmas drink here in Britain. Many moons ago, it was traditional to have cider at this time of year but since our tastes have become more ‘sophisticated’ we have swapped cider for Champagne. Look at us getting all European! I for one am glad to see cider taking main stage again, as I’m all about championing local produce and here in the UK we have some fabulous ciders on offer.

Aspall cider is my current favourite although it changes periodically. For this cocktail you don’t want anything too dry so go for a medium sweet cider and definitely not anything too fizzy.

Now forgive me whilst I scarper but I must attend to my ladybirds. Any advice on how to remove these creatures without using a vac on them (as per our Landlords advice)?

whiskey warmer

1 part scotch

1 part disaronno

3 parts cider

2 parts ginger ale

Firstly ensure your selected cider and scotch is vegan friendly. Next up make sure the ginger ale and cider are nicely chilled.

You’ll need a champagne flute – it will work in other glasses, of course, but I find the flute works best.

Measure out and pour in one shot of scotch followed by the disaronno. Tip the glass slightly to pour in the chilled cider and then carefully and slowly top with the ginger ale.

Serve immediately.

Need some more vegan inspiration for the Holidays? Look no further, we have a the entire meal sorted…….

Appetizer
Carrot Pâté by Diet, Desserts, and Dogs

The Drink
Winter Warmer Cocktail by Pea Soup Eats

Main Dish
Vegan Holiday Casserole by Namely Marly

The Sides
Cranberry and Orange Ginger Mango Chutney by Loves Veggies and Yoga
Vegan Sweet Potato Puree with Maple and Sour Cream by Vegan Good Things

The Bread
Crescent Rolls by That’s So Vegan

The Best Part: Desserts
Four Ingredient Vegan Pumpkin Pie by Lunch Box Bunch
Skillet Pear Gingerbread Cake by The Tolerant Vegan
Chocolate Pecan Cookie Pies by Your Vegan Mom
Eggnog Cheesecake by Manifest Vegan

 

 

 

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