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Apple Cider Poached Pears with Maple Pecan Raisin Topping and Tart Apple Cider Glaze

13 Jan

Apple Cider Poached Pears

Friends and fellow vegans!

Quite a chunk of time has lapsed since my last update and it’s been even longer since I’ve posted regularly. So much has changed in my life, but I’m finally all moved into my new place and I have my own kitchen again! Finally no more clutter, no more waiting for room to breathe, to create, or to explore food! Still, with this new move and this new job, I often find myself too exhausted to even think about blogging. When you think about it, working on a recipe, testing it out several times (if it’s not great at once, which sometimes it’s not), photographing it, sharing a story and typing it up, posting it, and promoting it is a lot of work. It’s almost like a second job, if you aren’t careless about it.

It’s been really great taking a break from the blog, despite it being forced at first and later, a choice. Yet, I’ve decided to gradually return to this world because cooking, baking, and sharing the abundant deliciousness of vegan food is an important part of  activism and as such, it’s important to me. Many of you keep asking for more recipes, which is flattering and empowering! Thank you! So, you’ll be seeing a bit more posts on here in the next few months. I’m going to try for anywhere from 2 to 3 a month depending on my schedule.

A lot of my eating habits lately have taken the focus off of baking and into more simple foods that focus on a raw ingredient. I’ve been actively trying to cut down, not on sugar, but on cakey-foods. It won’t last long, I’m sure. But for now, here’s a recipe that happened when I had a ripe pear that I didn’t just want to eat raw. Despite how simple and easy this recipe is, it’s quite impressive once served and it’s sure to make people think you’re some sort of healthy dessert genius. Let them be fooled! This dish is so naturally and perfectly sweet that it won’t give you a toothache from crazy amounts of added sugar. Served warm, it is wonderful and the pears cut so smoothly. The topping adds just the right amount of texture and crunch to the dish and if you happen to have pecan topping leftovers (it’s nearly impossible to stop yourself from eating it all at once), then you can refrigerate them and snack on them later or put them in your oatmeal the next day!

I hope you enjoy this treat as much as I did! Bon appetit and happy new year!

Apple Cider Poached Pears
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Hearty Beet, Cabbage & Potato Soup

15 Oct

Holy smokes, folks! It’s been a whole two months since my last post and a whole lot has happened since then! I’ve relocated to central NY, changed jobs, am raising an abandoned 1 month old kitten, and am temporarily living in a house with four other awesome vegans (hallelujah!). In just a few short weeks, I’ll have my own place and my own kitchen again. Woohoo! The recipes should surely abound then! But even that may be short lived as the west coast is calling my name, still, and the opportunity to answer has finally arrived. Warm weather means a whole different kind of eating, but at the moment the weather in the woods of NY is a little too frigid for my liking. Fall is in full bloom here and just a few days ago, we had some light snow. My heart sank. I detest that fluffy, cold white stuff and even more so now that I work outdoors. The only thing that redeems this weather is the promise of warm, hearty comfort food to come home to and this is a recipe that hits the spot!

There’s not a whole lot of complexity to this recipe. Beneath all the color, it’s a pretty basic potato soup–which is why I think it’s so great. If you want something easy to prepare, tasty, presentational, and filling then I think you’ll like this soup quite a bit. My very favorite thing about it–besides the simple, salty, starchy flavor and the big chunks of potatoes, cabbage, and beets in it–is of course, the vibrant color that comes from adding the beets and red cabbage to it. The beets also counteract the “soupy” flavor by adding just a hint of sweetness to the pot. If you want, you could peel the potatoes, but since it won’t affect the color of the soup, as it normally does in white potato soup, it’s really just an extra step you can avoid doing. See? I’m so thoughtful sometimes. I don’t want you to have to work too hard to enjoy delicious vegan food. And you shouldn’t have to so, what are you waiting for? Soup’s on!
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Homemade Stuffing with Chestnuts, Walnuts, and Fresh Herbs & Thanksgiving 2011 Recap

16 Dec

Garlic and herb mashed potatoes with mushroom, onion, and leek gravy; carnival squash stuffed with savory homemade walnut and chestnut stuffing; sweet potato casserole with maple and brown sugar pecan topping; Gardein stuffed turk'y, arugula salad with toasted walnuts, dried cranberries, roasted squash seeds, grape tomatoes, and fresh heart persimmons served with an agave-lemon vinaigrette; vegetables (parsnips, carrots, butternut squash, onions, green beans) slow roasted in an apple cider, herb, and nutmeg baste; and of course, whole berry cranberry sauce.

Hello, friends! I’ve been away from the blog world for a while since Thanksgiving and the break was much needed. My family’s Thanksgiving dinner came and went with much success. As you may have picked up, my family, despite not all members being vegan, celebrates all holidays with vegan food. Thus, since I’m the most enthusiastic of cooks in my family, it falls on me to plan the menu and make it. This year, thankfully, I had the help of my mother. Usually, I’m no fun to be around in the kitchen, but she stuck with me and proved to be a much needed skilled assistant and taste tester!

I like Thanksgiving dinner because it requires very little planning. I already know what I’m going to make: potatoes, stuffing, gravy, veggies, pies, and either a homemade turkey substitute (last year it was a meatless bean meatloaf) or a prepackaged one, if the option for a good one (like Gardein not Tofurky) exists. So, it’s not the planning that worries me (unlike Christmas) but the logistics of physically carrying out a huge meal by myself or with only one other person. Especially, when I cook this meal any place but my own kitchen.

This year, I was able to make my holiday pies, Pear and Apple Pie and the Pumpkin Pie with Gingersnap Apricot Crust, in advance and freeze the former over two nights and prepare the latter the night before. For the record, many a warm slice of pear apple pie was had with vegan coconut based vanilla ice cream! I arrived at my mom’s house at 11 AM and began prepping around noon. I didn’t leave the kitchen once until we ate, which was around 6 PM. So as you can see, there’s been good reason for my absence on here. I’ve spent enough time in the kitchen for the rest of the year! And yet, I was back at it a week later to bake cakes, quickbreads, and brownies (for fun!) for my coworkers and friends and a birthday cake for my lovely mom. The eating never ends around here.

I’m currently in the works of coming up with ideas for our Christmas menu. Last year I made pizzas for lunch, lasagna for dinner, cookies and cheesecake for dessert, and vegan eggnog. I’m looking to simplify my life this Christmas. But a vegan pecan pie has been requested and so complexity is in order, I take it.

Anyway, back to Thanksgiving. My family was very happy to be full. The highlight of this meal was the gratitude and happiness on my non-vegan brother’s face when he realized he was eating “real food” and the grace with which he went back for seconds and thirds and then took home leftovers. My other brother, who couldn’t join us for dinner, called me the next day to tell me how blown away he was by the meal and the pies and how they succeeded in “knocking him out on the couch” as a proper Thanksgiving meal should. The hours on my feet, the back pain that ensued…it was all worth it just to hear that.

I’ve included here the recipe for my homemade stuffing. I made a similar nut-less version last year, but I think the new changes take the cake! It was definitely the most popular item this year as was, oddly enough, the impromptu salad dressing I made. I will write up the gravy dressing as soon as I get a chance, but until then, please enjoy the stuffing! Continue reading

Pumpkin Pie with Gingersnap Apricot Crust

23 Nov

For some crazy reason, I didn’t think I was busy enough this holiday season and so I decided to make two pies for my small family Thanksgiving get together. There are four of us and two pies. It’s a bit indulgent, but hey, why the heck not? Like I said, I like pie and I like custard type pies especially. So, Thanksgiving wouldn’t be an experience to remember without a proper pumpkin pie, right? Right.

Here’s a recipe I came up with for two reasons. First, after making the pumpkin cheesecake with the gingersnap oreo cookie crust, I couldn’t wait to try a full-on gingersnap crust. It only seemed fitting to hold the crust together with delicious dried fruit like you would a raw crust, and dried apricots caught my eye so, dried apricots it was! The second reason for constructing this pie was an attempt to make a vegan pumpkin pie that was creamy, but didn’t involve using silken tofu (or any soy for that matter) in the place of heavy cream. One of my family members is sensitive to soy and since we celebrate our holidays vegan, I wanted to make sure that I had a traditional pie option that would please everyone. Naturally, I sought solice in cashew cream and as per usual, cashew cream saved the day!

What came of this creation was an incredibly creamy, rich pumpkin pie with a crust that you won’t be able to stop yourself from eating. I’m really pleased with how “rustic” and homemade in appearance the pie came out as well since I’m not a fan of heavily manicured food (think: cupcakes). Some of the edges of the crust burned a little during baking because I “flash baked” the pie for a few minutes at first. I’ve removed that step to (hopefully) prevent that from happening again, but even if it does, the pie is still delicious and it actually adds a nice color contrast to the crust. The taste will hardly be affected.

I’m excited to present it to my family. I hope you will consider sharing this with yours as well!

Remember folks, imperialism and cultural imperialism (a.k.a how the first Thanksgiving came to be) is super awful, but in the spirit of forgiveness, peace, and justice for all creatures — have a happy vegan harvest! Continue reading

Pear and Apple Pie

22 Nov


Dear pear and apple lovers,

As you all may already know, I don’t like apples. Or pears. The day you see me eat one of these fruits raw is the day that no other edible foods exist for me to eat. I’ll even admit, apple pie has never been my favorite of the fruit pies. When it comes to me and pie: it’s custards or bust. As far as fruit pies go, I mostly like the crust. I’m a bread girl, what can I say? That being said, I simply can’t resist apples or pears in baked dishes or in ciders. I don’t know how or why I make the distinction. Maybe it’s the sugar. Or maybe it’s the pure, mind blowing comfort of delicious pastry dough.

In any case, it’s a little surprising that I decided to make a pie with the two fruits I generally don’t enjoy. But it isn’t for me, really. My brother, Job, has always been an apple pie aficionado. I don’t know anyone else who devours apple pie as much or as efficiently as he does. This Thanksgiving, I’ve decided to do a nice little sisterly thing and make him one. Don’t worry, I won’t blow the surprise — he doesn’t read this blog anyway. My brother isn’t vegan (yet), but this pie will likely make him think twice about ever eating another non-vegan pie again!

This recipe is pretty standard. You can chose to use all apples and so, you don’t have to use pears if you don’t want to. I chose to add them–Comice pears, to be exact–because it seemed fitting and different. And as far as pears go, Comice pears are deliciously soft, sweet, and juicy; the perfect match for tart Granny Smiths. The apricot jam glaze is something I’ve always used to replace the egg glaze used for browning the top of conventional non-vegan pies. You can use another jam if you prefer. I simply chose apricot because it’s lighter in flavor and because grape jam doesn’t lend itself to the aesthetics of this pie.

This recipe is pretty straight-forward and simple, but it will take you some time (most of which is just waiting for ingredients to chill properly). Take it along with you to your Thanksgiving feast (and don’t forget the vegan vanilla ice cream)! When everyone is telling you how delicious it is, remember to tell them it’s totally vegan too! Then follow up with stories of all the other awesome things you eat, wear, and use that don’t contain animal products.

As always: spread the love, share the food, be merry, and stuff your vegan face!

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Easy Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Oreo Cookie Crust

16 Nov

Although VeganMoFo is over, I feel like I’m still in a mad dash to come up with fun, delicious recipes for the masses. Ah, the holidays: a time centered around families, food, and good will towards men. Why not aim for good will towards all creatures and make your holidays vegan? It’s super easy, super fun, and no one gets hurt–well except for Uncle Bob, but that’s because he over does it on the spiked cider. Oh, Uncle Bob…

One of my roommates has been on an intense pumpkin pie kick lately. So, as much as I’ve wanted to bake pumpkin pie in preparation for the upcoming holiday, I figured we were all maxed out on the pumpkin pies for now. So, naturally, a cheesecake was in order. A pumpkin cheesecake. With cookies. Because…well, because why the hell not? I rarely venture through the cookie aisle in grocery stores, but something drove me there this past week, right to the Newman O’s. When I saw they had ginger oreos, I knew–I knew the time had come for a miraculous, simple, cookie crust. And so it was. And so it is.

This recipe is so easy, you basically have no excuse not to try it this holiday season. The cheesecake filling is thick and smooth and so much like dairy cheesecake, you’ll have everybody fooled. The crust is gingery, crunchy, and practically caramelizes, giving it an overall flavor reminiscent of dulce de leche.

Ok, enough. I can’t say anymore without drooling unattractively, and I’ve got pies to bake, stuffing to pursue, and gravies to concoct! There’s only a little over a week left until my family’s anti-Thanksgiving vegan harvest. I hope this makes it onto your dessert plate; I know it will be on mine! Enjoy!

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Carrot Cake Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

19 Oct


Ah, there’s nothing like carrot cake. Especially in the Fall! Carrot cake is one of my favorite comfort food desserts and so naturally, a cookie version that I could eat more frequently with somewhat less guilt, seems appropriate! I’ve been meaning to put this recipe up for a year now, but what better time to do it than VeganMoFo?

I’ve been making this recipe for about 3 years now and it’s always been a big hit! In fact, I’ve baked these for every event I’ve had in the past few years — even once making an enormous batch of 350 for a fundraiser at Maple Farm Sanctuary. I remember that many people took cookies home with them and that they were much more popular than the three tiered, professionally made vegan cake that was brought! All thanks to one very insane night of baking. Thankfully, I had help. And even more thankfully, I had Martha Stewart’s help. This is a vegan modification of her carrot cake sandwich cookies. In the original recipe, the frosting is spread between two cookies — and so the batter makes about 40+ cookies. I feel like this is sugar overload and people end up eating just one sandwich. So, I cut Martha’s recipe in half so as not to make so many cookies this time.

A really important step in this process is to squeeze as much moisture out of the grated carrots as you can with your hands (and don’t throw the juice away — drink it or give it to your dog!). Not taking this extra step will result in dough that has too much moisture. When measuring the grated carrots, be sure to “fluff” them up with your fingers, you don’t want 3/4 cup of packed carrots.

This recipe calls for the use of an electric mixer for the dough and a food processor to grate the carrots. I’ve made these without the mixer and with a hand grater. It’s more labor intensive and time consuming, but the cookies turn out just the same.

Also remember, since it’s vegan, you can eat the dough without worry! It’s really, really, yummy and keeps well in the fridge for snacking on later!

Alright, I just made a batch of these for my co-workers because they’d been begging to eat them again. I better get there soon before I convince myself to keep the cookies at home. ‘Til tomorrow, foodie friends!
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