Eureka! Amazing Egg-less Eggnog with a Good Shot of Screech

I grew up in a very small town in Eastern Ontario and every Christmas Eve when I was a child we would trot off to church together as a family and then my parents would host a little party afterwards. They would invite our neighbours and friends and a ragtag assortment of people they decided needed a little extra holiday cheer. And on the menu? Loads of egg rolls from a special restaurant in Ottawa, trays of my mom’s homemade sweets and glasses full of eggnog spiked with Newfoundland rum.

image

My dad especially loved to pull out a bottle of Screech and tell his guests that although he found the rum a bit too harsh for regular cocktails – it was far and away the best liquor to perfectly spike a cold glass of eggnog. And inevitably after a few sips – everyone would agree! Of course at the time my sister and I were too young for the boozy version of the drink but I still enjoyed the nog straight up with ice and a bit of nutmeg.

Flash forward to today and my family will still gather to celebrate the holidays together but the menu has changed considerably. I’ve swapped out the traditional egg rolls for this veggie version and my daughter is insisting on making these cold spring rolls to add to the feast. And thanks to some amazing bloggers, I’ve managed to make some of my favourite sweets into healthier and equally delicious versions.

I also really wanted to add an egg-free eggnog to the menu but after carefully looking at the sketchy ingredient list on the “soy” version at the grocery story I decided to try to make my own. As it turns out this is no easy feat. I went through at least 6 different versions – the first one too bitter, the next too gritty, the next too spicy and so on and so on. I was beginning to think it wasn’t going to happen when I stumbled upon Ashley’s recipe on her site Edible Perspective. And holy moly- she nailed it! Silky, smooth, sweet with just a hint of nutmeg – absolute perfection.

So if you are planning to partake in a little nog this holiday season and the idea of an “egg punch” doesn’t suit your tastes then might I recommend this delectable egg-free version. I will be making my fourth batch to serve this evening and I’m sure it will disappear just as quickly as the last three. And because my dad was bang on- I’ve got a big bottle of Screech on hand to top up the adult portions.

Happiest of holidays to you and your families! Cheers!

eggless nog

 

Homemade Vegan Eggnog (recipe by Ashley at Edible Perspective)

1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1 cup raw almonds, soaked in water for 6-12 hours
2 – 3 1/2 cups water
8 – 10 medjool dates, pitted and soaked in warm water for 1 hour
1/2 to 3/4 whole vanilla bean (I substituted 2 tsp vanilla extract)
1/2 – 1 tsp nutmeg

Preheat your oven to 325° F. Spread coconut on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring every 3 minutes until evenly golden brown. Keep a close eye so it does not burn. Let cool.

Rinse soaked almonds. Place coconut, almonds, 2 cups of water, soaked dates, and the vanilla bean into your blender. Turn on low, working to high and let blend for 1-2 minutes until fully smooth. Add more water if desired.

Note: The mixture will seem extremely thick with only 2 cups of water, but when the pulp is strained through a nut milk bag it will be the consistency of cream. Add another cup of water for a slightly thinner strained consistency.

Place a nut milk bag over a large bowl and pour the mixture into the bag, scraping all sides of the blender. Squeeze as much liquid through the bag as possible. Whisk in desired amount of nutmeg and serve over ice with a splash of your booze of choice (optional). Or, refrigerate (sans booze) in a sealed container for up to 3 days.

If a thicker consistency is desired, whisk in a few tablespoons of pulp.

Notes: This may take 1 trial before you figure out the exact consistency and sweetness you prefer. I liked using 3 cups, 9 dates.

I recommend using a nut milk bag for perfectly smooth nog (or nut milk) with no pulp. If you don’t mind a little pulp, cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer will do the trick.

Using 2 cups of water will yield approximately 1 1/2 cups nog.

Using 3 cups of water will yield approximately 2 1/4 – 2 1/2 cups nog.

 

The Field Trip from Hell & Hot Spiked Apple Cider

Earlier this week I went on a field trip with my littlest guy who is in junior kindergarten. “A lovely day at a nearby pumpkin patch” was what it said on the form that he brought home. “Spend time at a local farm learning about agriculture and the importance of farmers in our society.” Wow – it sounded so inspiring that I immediately signed up as a supervisor. I could picture my son and I hand in hand skipping through the field whilst the sun shone down on the gleaming orange pumpkins and reflected off of the smiling faces of his classmates.

Unfortunately the reality was not so lovely at all. In fact I would categorize the day as one of the most miserable I have spent in recent memory. It was bitterly cold and the rain poured down incessantly from the time we loaded onto the bus until we arrived back at the school drenched and grumpy.

Aside from getting to meet my son’s classmates and their parents and having the opportunity to spend some quality time with my youngest – the day was a wash (quite literally actually). We tried desperately to huddle under flimsy umbrellas but even the most hearty kids and adults ended up soaked to the skin. The barns and covered buildings were damp and chilly and inevitably the kids started losing it- some falling face first into mud puddles and others shaking and blue lipped from the cold. Good times!

Fortunately however there was one bright spot amongst the deluge of rain and the dripping snotty noses and the incessant whining (coming mostly from me btw). As we were all huddled up under a sheltered area watching an incredibly sappy cartoon about dancing and singing pumpkins, a fellow mom tapped me on the shoulder. “There’s hot apple cider for the parents over on that counter” she said. And it was all I could do not to kiss her then and there!

I practically tripped over the children to get at that urn of cider and it was quite possibly the best thing I have ever tasted. Hot and sweet and comforting……like a warm hug on a crappy day. I sucked back every last drop and as I was making a beeline for another cupful, the same mom leaned over and whispered “the only thing that would make that cider better would be a stiff shot of rum.” And that time I did kiss her ; )

This recipe is my own take on the cider that I drank on that day. I made it as delicious and healthy as possible (thanks to inspiration from Meghan Telpner’s recipe) and I think it turned out pretty darn tasty. And since I made this batch at home – I did add in that shot of rum. And you know what? It WAS even better! In fact, after a few glasses – I practically forgot all about that horrifying field trip ; )

Hot (Spiked) Apple Cider

cider 1

 

I bag of organic apples (I used Macintosh)
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp nutmeg
Dash allspice
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup goji berries (optional- adds antioxidant power)
Rum (optional but highly recommended)

Wash and cut apples into chunks (skin on). Place apples in a large sauce pan with the cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, allspice, maple syrup and goji berries. Cover with water.

cider 2

 

Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer. Cover and let simmer for approx 1 hour until the apples are mushy. Remove from heat and take out the cinnamon sticks. Strain the cider through a nut sack (insert joke here) or through a mesh sieve. Pour into mugs and add a generous shot of rum to each if desired. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Holiday Weekend Sangria

Before our kids came along, my husband and I were able to do a bit of travelling as a couple and one of our all-time favourite destinations was Spain. The food, the people, the culture, the sights, the shopping…it was all fantastic. Well perhaps we could have done without the seedy hostel our first few nights in Barcelona and my husband is still cursing my backpack that weighed well over 40 pounds, but overall it was a magical trip.

sangria 1

One evening during our travels we were sitting in a café in Seville munching on tapas and oohing and ahhhing over the most amazing Sangria on the planet when we decided we just had to learn how to make this magical drink. My husband speaks a bit of Spanish so he approached the bartender in the hopes of obtaining the recipe so that we could wow and impress our friends when we returned home. The bartender smiled, reached under the counter and came up with his secret ingredient- a big bottle of Wink!We definitely weren’t expecting that!

wink

Many years have passed since that trip but I still love a sweet and fruity ruby-red glass of Sangria. And as we head into our Canadian long weekend, I thought you might appreciate a cocktail recipe to serve at weekend get-togethers and barbeques.

My husband worked part-time as a bartender during his university days (and moonlighted part-time as a drunken student) so he drew on his “training” to create this delicious Sangria recipe. It tastes amazing, it’s vegan (check here to make sure your wine is veg-friendly), it’s full of healthy fruits and antioxidants and there isn’t a trace of high-fructose corn syrupy soda in sight. Mix up a batch this weekend and I’m willing to bet you’ll love it… and that it will disappear in a wink!

Sangria

sangria 2

1 bottle of red wine
2 cans of Santa Cruz Organic Orange Mango Sparkling Beverage (I think a combination of orange juice and sparkling water would work as well)
2 shots of Brandy (optional)
2 tbsp agave nectar
1 cup raspberries
1 cup of chopped pineapple
1 orange, cut into wedges
1 lime, cut into wedges
1 lemon, cut into wedges
1-2 trays of ice cubes

Empty the wine into a large pitcher and squeeze in the juice from the lemon, lime and orange and then toss in the fruit wedges (minus the seeds). Add the pineapple, agave and brandy and stir to mix. Chill for a couple of hours in the fridge. Just prior to serving, add the Santa Cruz sparkling beverage, raspberries and tons of ice. Pour into a large wine or cocktail glass and enjoy!