Pumpkin Cheesecake

Happy Thanksgiving! Despite this being a clean eating blog, I just have to share my favorite Thanksgiving dessert. (Comment below with your favorites!) Besides, as long as it’s in moderation, a homemade dessert from scratch is always acceptable! This cheesecake features a buttery, chocolate chip cookie crust and a pumpkin spiced filling, topped off with a smooth, creamy, chocolate ganache. If you’re feeling extra ambitious, try piping a buttercream border around the top. 

This recipe is a bit involved, especially if you want to make your own cookies for the crust first, so I’d suggest reading through the whole recipe before you get started. Also, refer to some general cheesecake tips below:

  • Don’t open the oven at anytime will the cake is baking or resting in the hot oven. Rapid temperature fluctuations can cause cracking and caving.
  • Place a baking sheet under the spring-form pan. Sometimes butter leaks out the bottom which can cause a real mess in your oven otherwise.

Ingredients

Cheesecake

1 1/2 cup cookie crumbs

1/4 cup melted butter

1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree

2 8 oz. packages cream cheese

1/2 cup sucanat

1/2 cup sugar

3 Tbs. cornstarch

1 tsp. Penzeys ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. Penzeys ground ginger

1/4 tsp. Penzeys ground nutmeg

Chocolate Ganache

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/3 cup whipping cream

1 tsp. melted butter

 

Directions

Cheesecake

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease an 8-inch spring-form pan. In a small bowl, combine the melted butter and cookie crumbs. Press into the bottom of the spring-form pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese can pumpkin using an electric mixer until smooth. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the other dry ingredients and add to the cream cheese mixture. Again, use the electric mixer, but do not mix more than necessary.

Place the filling in the spring-form pan on top of the cookie crust. Smooth it out using an offset spatula. Be sure that the filling is even and there are no large air pockets underneath. Set the pan on a baking sheet to catch any dripping butter and bake for 45 minutes. Turn off the oven and let cake rest in the hot oven for another 30 minutes.  Do not open the oven at all during this time! Any rapid changes to temperature will cause the cheesecake to crack or cave in. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and allow to cool completely before refrigerating. The cake will need at least three hours in the fridge to set up.

Chocolate Ganache

Place chocolate chips in a heat safe bowl. In a small saucepan, bring whipping cream and melted butter to a boil. Remove from heat and pour over chocolate chips. Let the chocolate and cream sit for 5 minutes before stirring to combine. Pour over cooled cheesecake and smooth with an offset spatula. Place the cake in the refrigerator to allow ganache to set up.

Optional

  • Use vanilla buttercream frosting to pipe a border around the cheesecake for an extra touch. 
  • Serve with whipped cream. 

3 Ingredient Roasted Butternut Squash

Fall is finally here which means back to school as well as lots of opportunities for fall baking. I’ve been settling into apartment life for the past month and now that classes have started again, it’s hard to find time to actually cook wholesome meals. Thankfully I had yesterday morning free to do a little meal prep, including roasting some squash from my grandpa’s garden. It makes a perfect side with pretty much anything. This recipe is extremely simple and easy too (only three ingredients), so it’s perfect for this busy time of year. Enjoy!

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Ingredients:

1 Butternut squash

2 Tbs. butter

2 Tbs. brown sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Cut squash into halves vertically and scoop out seeds to discard. Place the squash skin side down in a glass baking dish.
  3. Make three slices in each half of the squash, being sure not to cut all the way through. (See above photos.) This will allow the butter and brown sugar to flavor more of the squash.
  4. Spread the butter evenly on both halves and sprinkle with brown sugar.
  5. Bake skin side up for approximately 30 minutes or until the squash is soft a fork can be inserted easily.
  6. Squash can be eaten as is or scooped out of the skins and mashed. Enjoy!

 

Mocha Chocolate Chip Scones

I’m not sure what took me so long, but just a few months ago I discovered that coffee is actually really good! Back in first and second grade, my school had Friday cooking classes. Well one fateful week, the recipe was coffee milkshakes. All it took was one sip and I didn’t touch coffee for ten years! Yeah, it was that bitter.

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As it turns out though, I wasn’t actually scarred for life. One day, during my second semester of college, I thought I’d give it a try again just to see what I thought. Yes, I was in need of a caffeine source, but that honestly wasn’t the only reason. Besides, there’s only so much sleep coffee can replace anyway.

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I decided to only try it black because I didn’t want to get hooked on any sugary drinks. To my surprise, though it was bitter, I kind of liked it! And ever since then I’ve been drinking coffee…and baking with it. Because let’s be honest, what goes better with a warm cup of coffee than a mocha chocolate chip scone?

Makes 16 scones

Scone

Ingredients

Scones

1 Tbs. ground flax seed

3 Tbs. hot water

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup cocoa

1 Tbs. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/3 cup cold butter

1/4 cup half and half

1/4 cup coffee reduction sauce

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

2/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Glaze

Powdered sugar

Cocoa

Half and half

Coffee syrup

Directions:

  1. Make the coffee syrup according to the linked recipe and set aside.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk the flax and hot water to make an egg substitute. Set aside.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or with a silicone baking mat.
  4. In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
  5. Cut in the butter and begin combining the ingredients using a pastry blender. Then, use your hands to make sure all the butter is evenly distributed and there are no large pieces left.
  6. Add the half and half, coffee syrup, and vanilla to the flax mixture and give it a whisk.
  7. Pour the liquid ingredients into the large bowl and stir until the ingredients come together. Again, you may have to use your hands to knead the dough since scones are by nature a little dry.
  8. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  9. Turn out the dough on a lightly floured surface and divide it into two pieces. Form each piece into a circle about two inches thick.
  10. Cut each circle into eight triangular scones.
  11. Place all 16 scones on the baking sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean when they are done (with the exception of some melted chocolate chip).
  12. While they are cooling, whisk together the ingredients for the glaze. I don’t have an exact recipe for it, so it can be adjusted based on your taste preferences. I recommend using roughly 1 to 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and 2 Tbs. cocoa (more or less depending on how much chocolate flavor you want). Then add half and half and coffee syrup until the glaze comes together. The consistency shouldn’t be liquid, but it should be thin enough to drizzle over the scones. If you want a mild coffee flavor, use more half and half and if you prefer a stronger flavor, use more coffee syrup.
  13. Drizzle the scones with glaze using a fork , whisk, or piping bag. Enjoy!

Spaghetti Pie

Hi everyone! I hope you’re all having a great day! Today I want to feature a family recipe of mine that my sister Lauren at LuBerry Pie posted a while back. Just as a side note (and I know this mentioned at the end of the post), since I make everything egg-free, flax seed works wonderfully in this recipe instead of the egg whites. Directions for this is listed in the variations. Enjoy!

LuBerry Pie

Today I am going to share a simple and delicious recipe that my mother shared with me. It is extremely adaptable so there are plenty of ways to spice it up if you are looking for something a little more exciting; however, even the most basic version is a crowdpleaser.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. spaghetti (or pasta of choice)
  • 1 lb. shredded cheese (I recommend mozzarella, but you can mix in other kinds for added flavor)
  • 2 egg whites
  • Your favorite pasta sauce! (I used Newman’s Own Marinara)

Instructions:

  1. Cook pasta according to the directions on the box.
  2. While pasta is cooking, separate egg whites from yolks and beat.
  3. Rinse pasta with cold water to cool. (This is very important to prevent the eggs from cooking when they hit the pasta!)
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine cooked spaghetti and egg whites, fully covering all of the spaghetti.
  5. In a 9 x 13…

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Avocado Salad with Feta and Chickpeas

Hi everyone! Today I’m going to share my all time favorite salad. This avocado salad is my go-to lunch whether I’m at home or on the go. It’s so absolutely delicious, simple, and satisfying. The avocado is full of unsaturated fats and the lime juice gives it some pizzazz. The chickpeas and cheese provide a great vegetarian source of protein, too! Enjoy!

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 Makes 1 serving

Ingredients

1 avocado, diced

1/4 cup chickpeas

2 Tbs. crumbled feta cheese

2 Tbs. cilantro, chopped

1 Tbs. scallions, chopped

Juice of half a lime

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Combine avocado, chickpeas, and feta in a bowl.
  2. Toss with lime juice.
  3. Garnish with cilantro and scallions.
  4. Salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Enjoy!

Roots 2017

Happy New Year, everyone! I usually don’t get into the festivities very much, but 2017 was a very exciting year for me personally and was also the first complete year for Roots. I first launched the site last September, so 2016 just the beginning as I wrote a few posts and got 60 views, nine visitors, and three likes. However, Roots really took off this past year and now has over 1,000 views and over 400 visitors! I know that doesn’t seem like a lot to established bloggers, but for the first year, I see it as a major improvement and accomplishment.

That being said, I couldn’t have done any of this without all of you! Thank you to all of my readers and followers for your continued support. I am very grateful to have gotten to know this amazing blogging community that I never even knew existed before I started.

More specifically, I want to give a shout-out to a couple of bloggers. First, a huge thank you to Author S at Ink Spatters Brought to Life for nominating me for several blogging awards! It has been quite an honor and has really helped me network with other bloggers. (I highly recommend you check out her blog too!)

Another gigantic thank you goes out to my super awesome sister Lauren at LuBerry Pie! (whose blog you should also visit 🙂 ) I wouldn’t have started blogging in the first place if it wasn’t for her. She has also been very helpful when it comes to social media. (I must admit it’s not my forte…for instance I just got an Instagram a couple of weeks ago.) Okay, so I might be a little behind the times, but Lauren keeps me up to date. She also helps with outreach, takes great food pictures, and even edits posts. Where would I be without her?!

As 2018 is about to begin, I can’t help but think about where I want Roots to be by next New Year’s Eve. Right now, my goals may seem far fetched, but with some hard work, dedication, and support, we can totally make it happen. Right now, I have 80 wonderful followers. A year from now, I hope to have over 1,000. It won’t be easy, but I know it’s possible. After all, yesterday I only had 63 followers! In order to make this goal a reality though, I need to get into a regular routine for posts. It’s easy to get caught up in school that I don’t have much time to be developing recipes or taking pictures. I’ll do my best to get a lot done while I’m on break, so when classes start again, I can still keep up.

Thank you again to all of my readers and followers at Roots! Like I said, I wouldn’t be where I am today without you. I have some big visions of where I want Roots to be a year from now, so I’m excited to see what 2018 brings. Here’s to year two of Roots! Thanks everyone! Cheers!

–Rachel Alexandra

Fall Harvest Couscous Salad

Hi everyone! I hope you are all enjoying fall as the air is getting crisper and the leaves are finally changing colors! Today I want to share a variation of my Sweet Potato  and Quinoa Salad. Instead of quinoa, I used couscous and replaced the sweet potato with butternut squash. At first glance, they look pretty similar, but the curry gives the couscous a totally different flavor and a bit a heat. I’d love to hear what you think or which you prefer, so feel free to comment below!

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Serves 5

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash, diced
  • 1 1/3 cup dry couscous
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup curly parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup green onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. pure maple syrup
  • 3-4 tsp. Penzeys Curry
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Toss the squash in your favorite olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Spread the squash evenly on the baking sheet and roast until tender.
  4. While the squash is in the oven, prepare the couscous according to the package directions.
  5. Meanwhile, whisk the olive oil, maple syrup, curry, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
  6. When the couscous is done, put it in a large bowl and toss it with the dressing.
  7. Add the squash, cranberries, onion, and parsley.
  8. Adjust seasonings as necessary. Serve hot or cold.