Tag Archives: apples

Caramel Baked Apple(s)

The recipe was for Caramel Baked Apples plural, but I just made one. Not very economical, but kind of cute nonetheless.

My family was having baked apple pancakes for a special breakfast – delicious, I’m sure, but also full of gluten (which I don’t really eat anymore)! I’m not one to be left out of a party though – especially when that party involves food – so I had to find a suitable replacement: apple-based, but totally decadent. I immediately remembered the recipe for Caramel Baked Apples from Celine and Joni’s new book, The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions, and I knew that’s where my breakfast destiny lay.

You can’t really go wrong with a recipe described as, “Lots and lots of caramel to cover something healthy, therefore making it, well, not so healthy anymore.” Plus, making your own caramel from scratch makes you feel like a total culinary badass. And being vegan is awesome. So making homemade vegan caramel is just like…wow, too cool for school.

Caramel whipped up, I filled my Granny Smith with the called-for Sucanat/almond/cinnamon/raisin mixture, popped it in the oven, and was greeted 50 minutes later with a natural package of caramel-y bliss.

I don’t think this is the kind of apple a day that keeps the doctor away.

Thanksgiving Leftovers

Even being the master of denial that I am, I can’t help but think that, in this case, leftovers are symbolic of a bit more than the excess of Thanksgiving; this post itself is a bit of a leftover, seeing as Thanksgiving was over two weeks ago. The fact is, I’ve been a bad blogger, and I know it. I got crushed under the weight of 700+ India photos and sort of crumpled into a sad little heap – but I’m back! (And that India post is soon to come). I’m so back, that I’m actually making a casserole as I write this, my left hand checking its progress in the oven as my right hand commandeers the keyboard.

My family Thanksgave in Philadelphia this year with my dad’s side of the family. The first Thanksgiving I can remember away from home – I instantly told myself that I’d only be making the vegan main course, some gravy, a vegan dessert, and maybe, just maybe, one side. After all, I was going to be in someone else’s kitchen, without my trusty cookbooks, equipment, and stockpile of somewhat exotic ingredients (okay, I don’t think they’re exotic, but someone who’s not a foodie might…).

Of course, the vegangelical master chef in me reared her overachieving head, and all of a sudden, I was packing seven photocopied recipes – Faux Turkey Breasts, Rosemary Mushroom Gravy, Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions and Toasted Pecans, Candied Sweet Potato Discs and Apple Slices, Cauliflower Mashed “Potatoes,” Pumpkin Pie, and Apple Crumble – and multiple plastic bags worth of pre-measured and labeled spices, herbs, flour, and sugar into my suitcase. So much for sitting back and contentedly watching the parade.

This was my third Thanksgiving as a vegan and I knew I wanted to make a special main course. Year one, hosting my friend Chelsea and my visiting mom, dad, sister in my tiny Edinburgh University student flat in Scotland, I’d made a peanut-based nut loaf from a box mix because I was having trouble finding away to churn out a feast’s worth of food with little to no counter space and an oven the size of an Easy-Bake. It was good, but, c’mon, it was from a box. Year two, we just did the Tofurky Roast, which was pretty decent; but now, in my third year of veganism, I’m almost too vegan for those things. I try to avoid processed faux meats and pretty much stick to whole foods.

These Faux Turkey Breasts from the Real Food Daily cookbook are what the Southern California restaurant itself serves  for Thanksgiving. After combining shredded tofu and tempeh with sautéed onions, miso paste, mustard, and spices galore,  the mixture is shaped into breast-like patties, brushed with olive oil, and baked in the oven. The whole ingredients make for a delicious texture – almost like “turkey” and stuffing in one! As I said on Twitter at the time, “you know you’re a level-7 vegan when your homemade faux turkey contains three different types of soy, two of which are fermented.”

The Rosemary Mushroom Gravy from Get It Ripe was the perfect light topper for the “turkey,” and it also went pretty darn well with the Mashed Cauliflower I made. I used a recipe (see link), but it was more of a template than anything. My family loved it, and, I’ve become unpardonably obsessed with it. Proof: since Thanksgiving, I’ve made it almost every day and developed my own superior (in my opinion) iteration of it, the recipe for which I plan on sharing in my next post! I apologize in advance for making you “that person” who shows up at the Whole Foods check-out line with 6 heads of cauliflower.

Thanksgiving’s not Thanksgiving without Brussels sprouts. Roasted, they are truly the candy of the vegetable kingdom. But Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions and Toasted Pecans? Outrageous.

The recipe’s from The Vegan Table, with pecans subbed for pistachios; I’m all for being “alternative,” but pistachios at Thanksgiving just doesn’t fly with me. (Yeah, I’m looking at you, people who had Mac ‘n Cheese – vegan or not – at your holiday table. Pardon my language, Auntie Jane, but what the hell is up with that? You have 364 other days to have it.)

For the obligatory sweet potato side, I chose the Candied Sweet Potato Discs and Apple Slices from Vegan Soul Kitchen. We’ve made these before – you can’t really go wrong with layered apples and (pre-roasted) sweet potatoes, drenched in a spiced agave-lemon-orange-apple cider syrup. Plus, can someone please tell me what’s more fun than using a baster? I really have no idea.

The desserts Liv and I made were just mediocre, so I’m pretending they didn’t happen because I only publish the best. :)

Despite our Thanksgiving being a potluck with 25 extended family members and friends, all assigned to bring something, at the end of the day, my contributions turned out to be pretty necessary. My grandma had no idea I was making as much as I did, but if I hadn’t, there literally would not have been enough food for everyone. We hardly had any leftovers!

However, there were some leftovers. And like many before me, I enjoyed them for breakfast the next day even more than the original meal. I like them cold, after a long morning of Black Friday sales (okay, Liv and I just hit one store, but it took a while).

We had a little of everything, including the sweet potatoes my aunt made, whipped with coconut milk and topped with shredded coconut and toasted almonds, and a green bean dish contributed by my uncle.

I’d say it was a pretty successful T-day. Not only did I spend a lovely evening with family who I don’t see anywhere near often enough, but I got 25 people – many of whom know fairly little about veganism – to eat a meal that was at least 50 percent vegan. Making the world less cruel, one sweet tater at a time!

Three Completely Random Eats

So, I know I went a little crazy in the kitchen for Thanksgiving, but my foodie exploits didn’t stop there. You see, I miss cooking and baking so much when I’m at school, that when I finally have a well-stocked kitchen and the entirety of my cookbook library at my disposal every break, I literally can’t stop! It’s my favorite de-stresser, and that’s what breaks are for, no?

As I was sitting in front of my laptop at the kitchen table the Saturday after Thanksgiving, struggling to find a new way to procrastinate on my thesis, a solitary squash on the counter caught my eye. My mom had accidentally purchased an extra butternut squash for T-day, and I had a feeling that if I didn’t take charge, that plump little guy would just languish there until my parents got sick of looking at it and threw it away. Sorry, mom–I know you can roast a squash, but I could just tell that, post-holiday chaos, it wasn’t going to happen.

500 Vegan Recipes to the rescue! I’d just ordered Celine and Joni’s newest book a few weeks before, and had brought it home with me, itching to try it. The butternut’s fate was decided: Curried Butternut Squash Hummus.

Oh my curried God! This hummus was amazing. But what else would you expect when you blend an entire roasted butternut squash with chickpeas, a tablespoon of curry powder, and other yummy things? The sweet & savory combo at its finest! Great texture too–I’m a thick, chunky hummus fan (except for when I’m not, and I want smooth, creamy hummus, but whatever).

I also made another tester recipe for Celine & Joni’s new book, Vegan Substitutions. The ridiculously simple, but according to my mom for whom I made it, equally delicious, Cinnamon French Toast.

Can’t give away the recipe since it’s a tester, but I think it speaks for itself.

Finally, I made the Peanut Apple Pretzel Drops from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar for our dear friends, the Hillebrands. I think these are so adorable.

According to someoneee in my family, they’d be better with chocolate, but I disagree. Chocolate and apples? I donno. I mean, I’m sure it’d still be good, but I like them the way they are. Yes, chocolate is possibly the best thing ever in any dessert, but does that mean it should be in every dessert? I don’t think so. Sometimes, we need to let other ingredients shine. :) I’m not a sweetist!

Second Thanksgiving, 2009

Well, it took me long enough, but I’ve finally gotten around to my actual Thanksgiving post! So here it is–Thanksgiving, Part II.

I drove back to Phoenix from LA with some friends on Wednesday, and stayed until Sunday night, so not only was it a lovely holiday, but a nice mental vacation from school as well (Yeah, I worked on thesis at home, but it just didn’t feel as painful…)

I didn’t get a chance to plan my menu until Wednesday night, which kind of stressed me out (not the least because I’m still trying to avoid gluten and sugar for digestive problems), but I eventually got a good group of recipes together!

First, my sister and I made Dreena’s Festive Chickpea Tart. Well, Liv made the filling, and I attempted my first gluten-free pie crust to go with it. I used the Cornmeal Pine Nut Crust from Flying Apron’s Gluten-Free and Vegan Baking Book, which I acquired recently. I used coconut oil instead of palm oil, but besides that stuck to the recipe. It was delicious, with a delicate, crunchy texture, and, surprisingly, the corn/coconut/pine nut flavor combo really complemented the chickpea/spinach/cranberry/walnut mixture. Sadly, we burned the outside of the crust and had to scrape it off, but it still looks pretty, I think. Kind of? Maybe?

I also made the Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Garlic from Vegan with a Vengeance. Prior to these babies, my mom actually had the nerve to think she didn’t like Brussels sprouts. and Liv hadn’t even had them before! I was glad to be able to remedy both of these unfortunate situations.

I loved the crispy, just-burnt enough-to-be-amazing stray leaves–kind of like mini kale chips, no? Liv ended up liking them, I guess. :)

I also made two tester recipes for Celine & Joni’s new book, Vegan Substitutions. Pumpkin Sage Bread “Rolls” and Green Beans with Toasted Pecan Gravy.

I wasn’t able to taste these “rolls,” but they were very well received! The pecan gravy for the green beans was delicious though. You can see the green beans next to the mashed potatoes a few pictures down.

An entire wall of our living room is a sliding glass door, which connects it to our backyard and pool area, so, given the lovely mild weather we had in Arizona that evening, we had a slightly alternative table set-up. Half in, half out!

Here’s the spread! (Oh, did I mention that we had 9 people over besides the 4 in my family? That explains the giant table above and the buffet style arrangement below). Our entire Thanksgiving was vegan except for the turkey and gravy (oh, and my mom’s pumpkin pies) that our friends brought for the omnis. Of course, it sucked to have a turkey there, but I count it as a win that every single side dish was vegan–and that there were THREE vegan gravies! (two that I made and the Tofurkey one).

Here’s my poorly lit plate! In front: Garlic Mashed Potatoes from the Real Food Daily Cookbook (my mom made ’em) with Rich Brown Gravy (that I made) from Vegan Vittles.

We had a wonderful time–as usual, we went around the table to say what we were thankful for, and then we dug in! Here’s my dad enjoying the company:

Even though I couldn’t have dessert, I still had to make some vegan ones for everyone else! I chose the Pecan Pie from Real Food Daily and the Gingerbread Apple Pie from VWAV.

Pre-baked:

Not as pretty baked, but still:

What’s the BEST part of Thanksgiving though? Um, leftovers! Brunch next morning:

In the front you see the Caramelized Onion-Butternut Roast with Chestnuts from Veganomicon, which was definitely my favorite thing I made (I didn’t mention it earlier because there were no good pictures of it on my actual T-day plate). I followed the recipe, using gluten-free brown rice bread crumbs for the topping! This dish was kind of heaven on earth. Just pure comfort food. I think I ate like 1/3 of it myself. I’ve never had chestnuts either–it was really quite fun to roast my own! One of them actually exploded in my mom’s hair, and she made a gross joke about it. ;)

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm, squash.

Anddd, obligatory sister shot. My dress = thrifted. Score.

Peanut Butter Pancakes and Lotsa Granola

So, I’m back at Pomona College to start my senior year! I’m nervous about the workload and senior thesis and, well, becoming a real person in 9 months time, but am also super excited to be back with my friends and settle in to this new schedule. I’m living with three of my best friends in an adorable suite, and life is good at the moment.

My last few days at home were full of some decadent treats because I knew I’d go back to eating a lot more Hugh Jass (in honor of Shelby!) salads once I was back at the dining hall. I’m not complaining; I do love salads, and there is some pretty decent vegan food here in Claremont – but still. I also knew I’d mostly be having cereal in my room for breakfast – so I wanted to pack in some variety pre-departure. Take, for example, these Chocolate Chip-Peanut Butter Pancakes with Chocolate Peanut Butter Syrup. I know, I know! The pancakes are from the PPK (but with chips added), and the syrup is Celine’s recipe!

I love this pancake recipe so much! It’s seriously just ground oats, peanut butter, banana, and soy milk (well, and baking powder, and I added chocolate chips and a pinch of salt – but still, super simple!) I liked making pancakes with oats instead of regular flour and the peanut butter-banana flavor was perfectly balanced. Topped with the syrup and fresh bananas, this was the perfect breakfast to have my last day at home. I may have even enjoyed these little love cakes alongside a glass of chocolate soy milk. ;)

A funny thing about the batter was that I had it two days in a row, so I kept it in the fridge overnight, and the next morning, it had turned into oatmeal. Peanut butter-banana oatmeal. The oats had absorbed all the liquid, and it had gotten really thick. It probably would have been delicious as it was actually (minus the baking powder!)

I also made two kinds of granola for my dear little sister, Olivia, who just began her second year at Colgate University in NY (she plays DI soccer there!). She’s a big granola fan, but has pretty high standards. Apparently, standards that Colgate cannot fulfill. So of course she called me! She requested an apple-cinnamon batch, so I made one of those, plus another for experiment’s sake. For the apple cinnamon, I used the recipe for Greg’s Granola in Vegan Lunch Box, but that seems too oddly personal of a name, so I’m going to call it Apple-Cinnamon-Almond Granola, okay?

I followed the recipe except for using all dried apples (instead of apples + raisins), and subbing the pecans with Trader Joe’s Cinnamon Almonds. It came out really well–a little sweet, but not over the top.

I also made Pecan-Cranberry Olive Oil Granola from the New York Times website (subbing the pecans and cranberries for the pistachios and apricots in the original recipe, and switching the cardamom for extra cinnamon). I personally would have made it with the given flavor combo, but Liv is a bit picky and I wanted to make sure she’d like it! I wish I could say I chose to make olive oil granola in honor of my sister’s name (I call her Olive sometimes), but honestly, it just looked really, really good.

Granola mountain!  This was my first time using olive oil in granola (although I have used it in blueberry muffins before and the result was delicious!), and I’d definitely do it again! It gave the granola a super rich, almost “buttery” taste that fat-free granola, or even granola made with canola oil, would certainly not have. This recipe had a bit more sugar (maybe to mask the olive-y taste?), but whatever. A crowd-pleaser for sure!

Be back soon with some more of my last-minute eats at home, including, oh, I don’t know, Teesey nachos and stuffed mochi? Oops. Gave that one away, didn’t I?

More Fresh, Whole Foods + First Giveaway!

Okay, so on the stomach front (It’s hard not to talk about when it’s all I’m thinking about, all the time – sorry!), I got a CT scan this morning. I don’t know if any of you have ever gotten one, but you have to drink this disgusting barium sulfate stuff. I’ve heard it described as a chalk-flavored milkshake, but I would describe it more as cough-syrup/the-worst-berry-bubblegum-toothpaste-you-can-ever-remember-having-as-a-child-at-the-dentist flavored laundry detergent. Either way, not a fun thing to wake up to at 7 in the morning, especially in the quantity of 900 mL. Also, just thought of this – wouldn’t it have been funny if I’d food porned it? Haha.
Anyways, I felt really sick afterward and actually had to leave work early (thanks, Susan!) But, I’m seeing a specialist on Friday, and I’m still eating detoxifying whole foods and avoiding salt – except for the occasional spoonful of [salted] creamy TJ’s peanut butter (I may feel awful, but I still have my reputation and self-identity, which is inextricably linked to PB, to think about too, ya know…).So, I’m still eating extra simply and healthfully…

Antioxidant-Rich Acaí-Cocoa-Banana-Cherry Smoothie:

Blended with almond milk and topped with fresh blueberries and cinnamon.
Sliced Apples with Rosemary from Ani’s Raw Desserts:

I know you don’t really need a “recipe” for something like that, but without Ani’s suggestion, I might not have thought to combine apples, rosemary, and fresh lemon juice, and I’m so glad I did! It was so refreshing and exotic (AND it reminded me of these oat bars that I loved).

Detox Bowl # ? (I lost track…)Wild rice with lemon, nooch, and some random spices, topped with more chickpeas, steamed sweet potatoes, and pineapple-soy yogurt sauce, all on a bed of romaine lettuce:

And now for my first ever giveaway! I wish I could say that some cool health food company had offered me and a lucky reader free products, but alas, I’m not that popular. Instead, I’m offering up a box of Weil by Nature’s Path Fruit & Nut Bars (scroll all the way to the right) that I happen to have, being an intern at Weil Lifestyle! The winner will get their choice between Goji-Moji, Banana Manna, and Pistachi-Oh! In addition to being vegan, these bars contain nothing artificial, and are certified as being non-GMO. Their ingredient lists might not be quite as short as those of our Larabars, but I promise Weil bars won’t disappoint!

To enter, just leave a comment telling me what your ultimate bar flavor would be (and who knows? Maybe if your idea is appealing enough to me, I’ll actually make it, blog it, and dedicate it to you, á la Norabars!) If you want to be entered twice, just blog about this giveaway. Also, for those of you who are particulary ambitious, I’ll enter you THREE times if you join Dr. Weil’s Facebook Fan Page: Andrew Weil, M.D. (plus, I think you’ll appreciate the info you get there anyways, and would recommend staying on as a fan afterwards). If you blog about the giveaway or join the page, leave me a comment letting me know! Also, very sorry to do this, but this giveaway is only open to U.S. readers–I’m not going to overseas ship 16 nutrition bars–we need to maintain some semblance of a sustainable lifestyle here, guys! I’ll leave entries open until 12:00 am, August 1st.


More Simple Food, "Crummy" Muffins, and Magic Cookies

Today’s post is almost exactly the same as yesterdays: simple (yet delicious) flavors for me, and some decadence for my lucky family. :)

I had the same mango-banana-papaya-coconut smoothie as yesterday (also with flax seeds, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice), but I took a picture today so you can see its lovely shade (and my adorable baby bowl that I recently purchased from Cosmo’s Vegan Shoppe).

A great smoothie strategy I’ve discovered lately is using extracts to pack flavor without extra calories. For example, in the above smoothie, I used a 1/4 tsp of coconut extract, which imparted a rich, yet calorieless coconut flavor to my smoothie (instead of coconut milk, which, though healthy, is pretty fatty, and in a smoothie with so many other flavors, I can do without i). I’ve also used almond extract – my favorite smoothie with it being cherry-almond. Obviously, vanilla goes with everything (especially PB smoothies!). I can’t wait to experiment with maple/coffee extract when I eventually get my hands on them.

My family requested muffins for brekkie, so I made the Apple Crumb Muffins from You Won’t Believe It’s Vegan! I’m actually not a HUGE fan of crumb toppings on muffins–they just annoy me when they get everywhere), so I didn’t mind making these when I couldn’t have them. Plus, I love the act of baking in itself so much, who cares?!

This recipe is loaded with a delicious apple-maple-cinnamon-“buttery”-flavor, or so I heard, haha. I made 10 muffs instead of 12 to get the tops, but, as you’re about to see, that didn’t work out too well…The tops just broke right off (I think the crumb topping weighed them down too much, so they couldn’t really achieve their full potential and sturdiness). Behold the saddest muffin of the batch:

OMG, I know. You don’t even need to say anything. But, they weren’t all like that, I swear. See?

For lunch I had the exact same chickpea-brown rice-kale bowl as yesterday, but for dinner I switched things up a little and had red quinoa with cumin, lime, cinnamon, raisins, and hemp seeds with green beans, peas, and leftover white sweet potatoes. I decided to go sauceless because I think that cuke-yogurt sauce goes better with the rice and chickpeas.

Extra cinnamon on top!

My mom requested cookies after dinner (they request a lot, don’t they?), so I whipped up Magic Cookies from the same cookbook as the muffins (You Won’t Believe It’s Vegan!). Now, these. THESE, I was jealous of not being able to eat. As in, the monster of jealousy inside me was greener than the peas in my detox bowl.

These are everything-but-the-kitchen-sink kind of cookies, loaded with carrots, pecans (and walnuts because I ran out), oats, chocolate chips, and coconut flakes. You’re supposed to make them really large (the recipe says 9 cookies per batch, and it’s NOT an unusually small amount of batter), but even making them as big as the book says, I got almost double the amount of cookies out of this recipe–and had to almost double the baking time, weird. Can’t complain, I guess. Their size allows them to have a crispy exterior while being delightfully chewy in the middle (or so I imagine, again…). My fam raved about these and said I could become FAMOUS for them!

I think that when I’m finally able to make these for myself, I’ll use: carob chips, oats, pecans, carrots, sunflower seeds, coconut, raisins, and PEANUT BUTTER. Doesn’t that sound like an even lovelier combo. Get better, tummy, please!