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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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Banana Oatmeal Chia Pudding

3 Aug

With almond butter, dried cranberries, and sliced almonds. Yum!

 

Friends, colleagues, and comrades,

Quite a bit of time has lapsed since my last blog entry and even longer since my last recipe installment! For this, I apologize. It has been one crazy summer, unfortunately mine did not include John Cusack (movie reference, whoa!). My jobs and the exhaustion and stress that come with them have kept me from being able to devote any time at all to this blog, let alone to thinking creatively about food or even wanting to pretend that my kitchen is a chemistry lab/art studio. Also, living with quite a few people and sharing a large (but often occupied and cluttered) kitchen space really puts a damper on wanting to be in the kitchen at all or even wanting to be creative about food.

To be honest, this past year I’ve survived on mostly large salads, easy pasta dishes and stir-frys, and a variety of sandwiches and fruits. In other words, foods that don’t put me in the kitchen for more than 20 minutes. It’s been frustrating and at the same time really empowering because it’s basically forced me to eat a lot of food without prepping and in raw form. I think I’m healthier for it, sort of. But, I sure do go through a lot of produce (as if that’s ever a problem for healthy vegans)!

So just to catch up, because I know y’all totally care about my personal life–since my last post, I quit one of my jobs–the big one, the one that was making me very miserable and tired and unhealthy. It has been a month and since then a lot of really great things have happened including lots of sleep, lots of eating, lots of exercising, lots of traveling, lots of food sharing, lots of dog kisses, cat snuggles, and even baby sparrow cuddles, and lots of hang-outs with crucial friends, old and new, advocates and otherwise.

It’s been a really uplifting, healthy experience for me and I’m very happy to be able to wake up and take care of myself first, for once. One of the ways I’ve been practicing self-care is by making sure I eat a really good, nutrient dense breakfast. No more running out of the house with a piece of toast or a banana in my hand. I know, it sounds cliched, but it’s so important and so true that breakfast is a very important meal, if not the most important.

But I know you’re really here for the food so let’s talk about it!

I’ve been eating a lot of loaded non-dairy yogurt breakfasts as of late. Basically, almond milk/coconut milk based yogurt with  heaping portions of nuts, dried and raw fruit, hemp seeds, raw oats and my favorite…chia seeds. It was in noticing what chia seeds do when they are mixed with liquid and allowed to sit for some time–they become soft and almost gel-like, like tapioca–that I thought to bring you this next recipe. This recipe is so simple, anyone can make it, any time. All you need is a jar and a refrigerator, really. It takes only minutes to prepare and minutes to eat, and it conveniently fits in jar that you can take with you if you’re on the go!

When I had this yesterday, I calculated that it has at least 20 grams of protein (that’s half of my daily requirement!), 43% of my daily iron requirement, 49% of my daily calcium requirement, and 25 grams of fiber. Not to mention a ton of Omega 3′s and antioxidants thanks to the chia! Whoa. I can’t tell you how much this breakfast fueled my body for the day. I was sustained by this well after noon and, having planned to dedicate hours on my feet in the kitchen baking and to running errands, it was the perfect energy boost I needed to get my day started off right.

Here are two more awesome facts: when you make this it means that breakfast is ready right when you wake up and it’s delicious. Want more? This can easily be made into a chocolatey dessert–just use chocolate flavored non-dairy milk. Or, for you coffee lovers, you can make this a mocha-licious morning treat! I’m not a coffee drinker at all, but I tried my hand at a coffee version and the results are in–it’s caffeinated and it’s good. I added spices to my coffee version (which you can leave out if you wish) because being raised by a Dominican mother, you know to always put spices in your coffee, especially nutmeg. So what are you waiting for? Make your breakfast tonight and enjoy it tomorrow! Continue reading

Easy Peasy Smokey Mac N Cheesy

5 Mar

Hello, friends! It’s been a long, long time since my last post and for this, I apologize! Life has been overwhelmingly busy with work, with friends, with my newly adopted crippled hamster (yes, a hammy!), and with studying for the veterinary technician national exam. There have also been some recent changes to the way I feel comfortable creating recipes so, finding myself in the recipe writing, experimenting, and cooking “mode” is rare. Hopefully for all, posting this recipe will help me get back to form. So, as you can imagine, with the precious little time I have to cook for myself, when I do cook, it’s almost always easy, filling comfort food. Usually that means a massive, loaded salad, but every once in a while, it’s a pasta dish. I love pasta almost as much as I love casseroles and anything that requires an oven to cook.

Recently, I posted a photo of the less involved version of my Sweet Potato Baked Mac N Cheese on my personal Facebook page that got quite a bit of attention and requests for the recipe so, here it is, folks! This is a “staple” recipe in my book and one that I turn to whenever I need something quick and filling and good enough for lunch the next day. As far as I’m concerned, it gives its maddeningly unjust, sad, and fat laden dairy counterpart a swift kick in the arse–mostly because it’s free of animal exploitation (awesome!), and obviously because it’s delicious. Feel free to add vegan sausage, hot dogs, or broccoli–if you’re so inclined–to make it more hearty. I also recommend adding crisp tempeh bacon or barbecue spices if you like, to make it more “smokey.”

Until we meet again…enjoy!
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Red and Green Bean Dip

24 Dec

It’s Christmas Eve and all I can think about is food. Shocker. As I said in an earlier post, I am out of commission for a big, extravagant Christmas menu. Thanksgiving left me beat and I have been way too busy and overtired from work to even sit down and commit myself to looking up recipes or to try to invent something on the fly. Maybe next year. Definitely next year. Suffice it to say, that I have to feed my family something. I just haven’t figured out what that something is yet. For now, I’ve just had my mind on all those Christmas parties people go to in which they need to bring a dish to share. Why not a fun appetizer that will go flying off the table? Why not a nice festive looking dip?

So, here’s the final piece to my Christmas appetizer trio. This dip is something that came up out of need for something quick and easy to snack on and it hit the spot! The flavor is bold without being overpowering. What I love most about it though, is the festive presentation of the green kale and red kidney beans against the white bean background. It’s also thick and hearty and will serve as a nice lunch, if you’re so inclined. I recommend serving it with crackers that can hold up to it–I used sesame melba crackers. I prefer not adding oils to food if it isn’t necessary (and this dip doesn’t need it) but, if you’re using crackers that are more inclined to break in a dip, you can smooth out the dip by adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

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Mashed Potato Stuffed Mushrooms

24 Dec

Here’s the second addition to the Christmas appetizer mini showdown. I tested these out two nights ago for dinner and fell in love. I couldn’t keep myself from eating (a lot of) the mashed potatoes before I even got to stuffing the mushrooms. But it’s because I like mushrooms–correction, it’s because I love mushrooms–that I soldiered on and completed the dish as I refrained from just “double fist-ing” the potatoes in one hand and mushrooms in the other and putting them straight into my mouth. I know, I know, the image isn’t a pretty one. Shrug. What can ya do?! Lucky for me, there was a small portion of mashed potatoes left when the mushrooms ran out…

This recipe is pretty simple and will stand alone as an impressive, hearty, and comforting addition to any party table. That is, if your guests like mushrooms. I know some people don’t. I also know those people are super crazy. Ok, maybe only just a little crazy. Or not at all. Whatever. Enjoy these savory morsels alongside your other appetizers or as a side to your main dish. No one will complain that you didn’t try and make something delicious and pretty! Besides, who doesn’t love food you don’t have to use utensils to eat? Really crazy people, that’s who. Don’t invite crazies to your parties. Happy HanukkahChristmasKwanzaNewYearAtheistPartyTime!

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Stuffed Dates

24 Dec

I spent enough time in the kitchen on Thanksgiving day for both holidays so, with Christmas coming up in just 1 day, I figured I’d take it easy and work on a whole meal consisting of appetizers (okay, maybe there’s a lasagna in my family’s future too). Anyway, a few days ago, my housemates and I celebrated the first night of Hanukkah. One of my housemates brought almond butter stuffed dates to the table. They were so delicious and easy that I started thinking of other ways to enjoy them and make them more presentable, if you will. So this is what I came up with. I’m simply just sharing this for the sake of sharing yet another super easy vegan delight that will have everybody at your party thinking, “Why the hell didn’t I think of that?!”

As of late, dates have been my go-to source for dietary fiber and potassium. They also pack a powerhouse of good carbohydrates; the kind you need in the middle of a long day of work. Fill these with whatever you fancy. I found that the yogurt filled dates were my favorite. I highly recommend So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt if you can get your hands on it and, if like me, you try and stay as far away from the grittiness of soy based yogurts. Another way to enjoy the yogurt filled date is to add some freshly grated citrus like lemon or orange to the top. If you want a combination of sweet and savory, try filling these with vegan cream cheese. If you have kids, this is probably a really good way to get them to sneak something super healthy into their snacking habits! Enjoy!

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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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