But back to the holidays. Christmas time always brings to mind the wonderful aroma of freshly baked gingerbread and the cozy warmth of a fresh fire in the fireplace. I definitely associate most things with feelings, and there is nothing more comforting than the joy I feel because of these holiday traditions. In the spirit of the holiday season, I decided to start the process of making my house smell like a giant cinnamon roll. Or rather, a lovely cinnamon-spiced apple carmel cake... [recipe by Angela of OhSheGlows with a few adaptations]
The scent drifting through my house as this baked in the oven was absolutely insane. If I could bottle it... goodness, I don't even know what I'd do!
But I'll let you in on a little secret. I made the mistake of putting the cake in a spring-form pan because it was all I could find. Being too quick to trust, I didn't realize that they are notoriously known for leaking. Let's just say the cake was not the only thing with carmel on it...
Luckily I quickly turned off the oven (burnt caramel was not exactly the smell I was going for) and removed the cake. I then proceeded to clean the oven. When my grandmother came home, she was confused when I said that I had a little accident because the oven actually looked cleaner than before! Haha. Crisis averted!
Except for the cake, that is. It was still pretty mushy in the middle so I knew it needed to bake more. Even though I knew I had already interrupted the baking cycle, I figured more cooking couldn't hurt. After yoga, of course. I definitely needed to relax after seeing sticky carmel all over my nice kitchen!
Everything worked out for the best, though, because my family was able to enjoy the cake warm out of the oven. And really, what is better than that (other than the beautiful scent that perfumed the house because of it, of course)?
It made me really happy to see my mom's surprise and joy when she saw the apple cake. Warm apple desserts in winter are one of her favorite things so this was really a treat. The past few days at work have been the most stressful she's had in a while so I'm glad I could do my part to let the worries melt away for even just a few bites.
In other news, wonderful warming foods have been keeping me cozy from the inside out. Certain foods, especially cooked ones, are said to have a warming effect on the body. These are perfect for the winter because they keep our body in balance with the season. Have you ever noticed less cravings for raw salads and more for roasted veggies as it gets colder outside? Our bodies are very smart!
I started my first day off of school with carrot cake baked oatmeal. This mostly grew out of a desire for carrots in the morning, a love of oats, and a quest not to overdose on pumpkin (if that's even possible for me, of course.) It is so coincidental that Angela just posted her recipe for carrot cake oatmeal (check it out)! It was literally the day after I had mine. Great minds
This soup is the reason I tried to avoid using pumpkin in my breakfast. I love my squash so much that I don't want to get bored of it. Make sense? No? Moving on... It was a mixture of roasted butternut squash, parsnips, carrots, and onions. It was so deliciously naturally sweet that it was almost like eating candy for dinner. J'adore.
Add roasted brussels sprouts and steamed broccoli, and you have yourself a recipe for success.
I'm clearly on a roasted root vegetable kick because last night I had root veggies for dinner last night, too. This time, however, they were in fry form.
I simply steamed a parsnip, a carrot, and a large chunk of rutabaga until tender. Then I coated them in cornmeal, Herbamare, and nutmeg. To give the fries a nice crusty outside, I baked them in a 400*F oven for about 40 minutes, flipping half-way through. They became nice and crispy! I really loved the crunch of the cornmeal against the sweetnees and soft interior of the roasted root veggies. I think this method would work especially well with roasted brussels sprouts. There's always tomorrow night...
Also on the cooked veggie front was steamed broccoli and orange cauliflower (where were covered in a nooch storm after the photo shoot). Let's just talk about orange cauliflower for a minute. On multiple occasions, at both the grocery store and the farmer's market, a handful of people have made comments about how it is called "cheese cauliflower." Since it's obvious I am a veggie conosseur from how excited I get about fresh produce, I am sometimes asked about it. Contrary to what many people believe and have asked me about, orange cauliflower does not, in fact, taste like cheese. Cute name, but not at all accurate. I would, however, like to mention that it does taste different than white cauliflower. Almost sweeter, perhaps? Anyway, it is delicious, so if you ever have a chance to try orange cauliflower or its other colored cousins (purple and green are quite nice as well), please do. You never know until you try!
And, of course, I will end this post on an even sweeter note. Last night I transformed one of my favorite snacks into a warm weather treat. I simply warmed up a Cranberry Almond Vegan Pure NRG Bar until it got soft and the carob chips melted. Then I poured cold vanilla almond milk over it and topped the mixture with Puffins. (I've been saving my "old recipe" box of Puffins for a while now but have finally given in. I definitely liked the other recipe better!) The warm crumbled bar soaked up some of the almond milk and infused it with a chocolatey taste. I suppose it was almost like a more sophisticated (and vegan, no less!) version of those kid cereals that turn your milk different colors. Delicious and fun!
What scents remind you of the holiday that you celebrate? And what kind of foods keep you warm on a chilly day?
Have a lovely day!