Archive for Apple

Good ol’ oatmeal

Never underestimate the power of oats

As I am sure everyone knows by now, I am a breakfast woman at heart. Sure, there’s a lot of fancy things you can make to pull together a breakfast, but sometimes something as simple as oatmeal is best. For over a week now, I have been making myself a bowl of oatmeal before work, and I have yet to get sick of it. It’s hearty, highly versatile, tasty, and above all, warm and filling. It keeps my belly happy and insides warm for the walk to work, and the complex carbohydrates of the oats keeps me going until I can eat lunch. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not talking about the boxed and individually packaged, sugar-laden instant oatmeal here. I mean real, stove-top cooked oats, where one can use their imagine and add whatever their heart desires.

I always have raisins around the house, and I like to add them into the cut of water before I let it boil. It gives new life to the raisins, making them more plump and juicy. Once the water is boiling, I add in the 1/2 cup of oats, and reduce the heat. Next, I will generally add in a good amount of cinnamon, probably more than most people, because I REALLY love cinnamon. Then, depending how I am feeling that morning, I may throw in some nutmeg, a hint of salt, some allspice, and maybe the tiniest bit of cloves. If I am craving something sweet, I will add some brown sugar or maple syrup, but never more than a tablespoon. If I have an apple around, I will dice it up and add when the oats are still cooking as well, making the apples warm and just a little bit soft. Sometimes I will even add a tablespoon or two of applesauce, giving the oats extra sweetness and a nice apple flavor, which goes particularly well with cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. When the oatmeal is just about done cooking, I will sometimes throw in chunks of banana, just enough to make the banana warm and soft, yet not too mushy.

I know it might not be as quick and easy as opening a package of instant oatmeal and zapping it in the microwave, but the extra couple of minutes and addition of real ingredients, without all the sugar, is really worth the effort. Your body and taste buds will enjoy it. And if that was not enough, it’s cheap!

Butternut Squash Soup

Well worth the effort

Let me apologize in advance for the lack of pictures here. Some how the boyfriend and I neglected to take a good amount of them of the soup, but that is not to say that the soup did not turn out amazing, because it totally did.

The farm share has left us with so, so, so many squash. Delicata, kabocha, butternut, acorn, tons and tons of squash that are overflowing our kitchen table and fridge. It really is almost ridiculous the amount we have, which has me on the search for more squash recipes. That being said, expect a good handful of squash-related entries over the next few days. But hey, it is the fall, they are in season and plentiful, and it is good to be challenged cooking-wise.

Our squash center piece

As it turns out, it is a lot of working making butternut squash soup. After peeling and cutting the squash alone I almost wanted to call it quits. I even took a little break after cutting up the squash, celery, carrots, onion and garlic. There was a point when I thought, “I will never make this again!” After all is said and done, I will though. Because it’s delicious and because we have far too much squash.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch sized pieces
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 stalks of celery, diced
  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 5 cups of vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp sage
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 apple, diced
  • cinnamon to taste (optional)

After preparing all of your veggies (and the apple!), saute your garlic, ginger and onion in a soup pot for three to five minutes. Then, add the celery and carrots, and saute for another 5 minutes. Add the squash, apple, broth, sage, salt, pepper and cinnamon. Let this cook for 25 minutes or until all of the vegetables are soft. Then, in batches, I placed the soup into the blender and pureed until everything was blended well, and was smooth. I then added soy milk to each batch to make the soup just a little bit more creamy. I returned it all to the pot, waiting to reheat when we were ready to eat dinner.

I love this soup. It had a great taste of ginger, cinnamon, and of course, the sweet taste of butternut squash. It is warm and deceptively filling, something I can appreciate now that I am living on my own and the days and nights are getting colder. Other than being sweet and creamy, it is also a brilliant yellow-orange color, basically begging you to eat it. I think I would even classify it as a comfort food. If you wanted to make it even MORE hearty, you could easily throw in some brown rice, greens (such as spinach or kale), or beans, after everything has been mashed or pureed.

Despite being fairly time consuming, I would make this again. It’s just too good not to!

Apple Crumbcake Muffin

Delicious!

How could anyone not love the fall? The weather is perfect, the trees are colorful, and all of the best fruits and vegetables are in season. Everything about the season practically begs you to sit around in your most comfortable jeans (or pajama pants) and sweatshirt, drinking coffee and eating muffins. Perhaps these apple crumb cake muffins from Vegan with a Vengeance perhaps?\

I ended up making these because it was a particularly chilly night, which of course immediately puts me in the mood to bake, and because I wanted something already made for the next morning’s breakfast before work. I had everything I needed for this recipe already on hand, including a handful of delicious organic Gala apples. They were very simple to make and turn out to be very rewarding.

I love these muffins because they rise high and look super appealing. You really just want to take a bite out of them the second you see them, and the crumb topping on top only fuels the fire. I normally am not a fan of crumb toppings because I think they make the muffin too sugary, especially for the mornings, but this one complimented the muffin very well.  In addition to looking great, the make the house smell fantastic as well, since there is nothing better than warm apples, nutmeg and cinnamon. They have the perfect amount of spice, and there definitely is that distinct apple flavor, enhanced not only by the grated apple but by the apple chunks as well. The muffin is outrageously soft and moist, and finished with a nice crunch from the brown sugar topping.

I would love to make this again soon, before the fall is over and apples are out of season. They only lasted ONE day in my house. Everyone seemed to agree that they were one of the best muffins I have made. I think I would have to agree.

perfection

Apple Cider Tofu with Quinoa salad

Here the power grain quinoa and the ever amazing tofu come together to make a fantastic dinner (or lunch, snack, whatever you prefer). In opening my pantry, seeing a container full of quinoa, and remembering that it has loads and loads of calcium, I knew I had to make it. Other than that, I really wasn’t sure where else I was going to go from there. All I knew is that there were bricks of tofu in the refrigerator, tons of vegetables around from the farm share (need I tell you again how awesome farm shares are!?), and that I wanted to have dinner cooked for the boyfriend after he got home from class and before he had to go to work. I had precious little time to work with, and from it came this meal, which I am actually pretty proud of.

I started by cutting up a little less than quarter of a sweet red onion, and sauted it in a medium sauce pan with a clove of minced garlic. Then, I added some cut up swiss chard and a can of chickpeas. Following this, I added two cups of vegetable broth, and then one cup of rinsed, uncooked quinoa. I also added some salt and pepper, and a touch of hot sauce, since I’ve been putting it on/in everything lately. Once it came to boil, I reduced the heat. threw the lid on and let it simmer.

I then retrieved my pressed block of extra firm tofu, and cut it into eight pieces, width-wise. I began pan-frying them in a tablespoon of olive oil, not sure yet what I would be doing with them. While they were cooking, I was inspired by opening the refrigerator, when a bottle of maple syrup fell off the bottom shelf from the inside of the door. “Ok,” I thought, “I will make maple-glazed tofu.” And then, even better, I saw a quart of apple cider left in there as well, and decided to make maple apple cider glazed tofu. When the tofu was just about done, I added in 1 1/2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup, and 1/2 cup of apple cider. I let the tofu simmer in the glaze for a bit, to ensure that it would soak up all of the goodness, and then added cornstarch (you could use this or flour), teaspoon by teaspoon, until the glaze became thicker and throughly coated the tofu.

With the quinoa finished, I served it into a bowl and placed two pieces of tofu on top. I think the tofu really stole the show. Maple syrup and apple cider always go well together, and being slathered all over tofu is no exception. I think next time I would even consider marinating the tofu overnight in it, to give it even more of that great sweet, tart, maple apple flavor.

The quinoa was great as well. Cooking it in the vegetable broth with the onion and garlic really gives it more a flavor, because sometimes, in my opinion at least, quinoa can be a bit bland. The chickpeas and swiss chard went great together, and even without the tofu this would be a wonderful meal or side on its own. The mild taste of the quinoa really let the swiss chard shine, and after not having this leafy green prior to this year, I cannot tell you how much I love it, and what a distinct taste it has. I even added some of the diced stems, because I think they taste great as well, and don’t like wasting any part of the vegetable if I can help it. The quinoa salad really was great and filling, and the best part is that it is very versatile. You can add whatever vegetable or bean you’d like. Everything tasted amazing, was warm, filling, and was done just in time for the boyfriend to get home!

Whole wheat apple pancakes!

 

 

Nonconformist pancakes

 

It’s fall and all the apples I see everywhere look absolutely gorgeous. After a streak of having only cereal for breakfast for about a week and a half (how boring), I decided to make a batch of pancake batter the night before a long day at work, so I could wake up and throw the pancakes right onto the griddle, and then be on my way. I made a batch of whole wheat pancakes (the same one I used for my blueberry one as well), and altered it slightly to have an apple spice flavor, including small chunks of apple.

  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp applesauce
  • 1  cup almond milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 apple, diced

 

Good morning!

 

I love these! The warm chunks of real apple, combined with the extra apple flavor from the applesauce in the mix is so good, especially with a good kick of cinnamon. They are super filling and dense from the whole wheat flour, and they aren’t terrible for you, so you don’t have to feel bad about eating them. It was a great way to start the day!

Apple Crisp Pie

More delicious than you could possibly imagine

Saturday night it was beyond cold in the apartment. After sealing all the storm windows and investing in thicker curtains, it was still chilly (putting plastic on the windows is a job lined up already for next weekend), and we are attempting to hold out turning on the heat until at least the start of November.  In an effort to warm the place up, I was in quite a baking mood. With a bag of apples sitting around, I knew I wanted to incorporate them into some kind of dessert, and after seeing the Apple Crisp on my cousin Beth’s blog, I knew instantly that I wanted to make that  as well. It just looked so great, and clearly easy to make vegan by replacing the butter with margarine/Earth Balance. I had my heart set on making apple pie from then on. I had a mental struggle for about two hours as to whether or not I really felt like I had it in me to make a crust that night. After much debate, and recalling the last time I tried to make a while wheat crust (which turned out horrible, dry, and frustrating), I decided to walk to the near by coop and by a pre-made one. I know that it is cheating, but I really wanted to pie and did not want all of the anger of crust-making that night. So after picking up a whole wheat vegan crust, I continued onward.

The first thing I did was slice up the apples and started to make the filling, and preheated the oven to 350 degrees.

  • 6 medium apples (I used Gala apples), peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 tbsp apple cider
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of maple syrup (depending on how sweet you would like your filling, I only used 1/4)
  • 2 to 2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 1/2 tsp corn starch
  • 1 – 2 tbsp flour (I used whole wheat)

After the apples were peeled and sliced, I boiled them and the 1/2 cup of raisins for about ten minutes, until the apples had just become soft, which also allowed the raisins to plump up a bit. I then drained them both, saving 1/4 of the cup of apple water for the pie mixture.

I then added the 1/4 cup of water, apple cider, maple syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg. After mixing this, I then added the cornstarch and flour to thicken up the mixture. When it was all thoroughly combined, I poured it into the pie crust and spread it out evenly.

Then, I started making the topping for the pie, following Beth’s recipe:

  • 2/3 to 2/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup gluten free flour (I ended up using whole wheat flour yet again)
  • 1/2 cup of rolled oats
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup of butter/margarine, softened

I mixed all of the ingredients together, and then began to slowly add in the butter (I used Wegman’s brand spread/margarine) until the mixture was crumbly (in the end I used slightly less than 1/3 of cup). I placed the topping on the apple pie filling, drizzled the smallest amount of maple syrup over the top, and put the pie in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top was golden brown.

First of all, the pie made the apartment smell fantastic. Between the boiled and baking apples, cinnamon and nutmeg, the place smelled like the embodiment of fall. Even after it was done baking, the mere presence of the pie on the kitchen island was fragrant enough to make you want to continuously eat it.

The topping was probably just as good as the pie itself. It was sweet, crunchy, and the sugar in it played well with the apple filling, which on its own was not too sweet. The raisins were delicious in the filling, adding a bit of a chew and sweetness to every bite. The filling turned out perfect: not too dry and not too moist. The crust, while I cannot take credit for it, was great as well.

The ever-tempting pie

If I really wanted to, I could have ate this pie in one sitting. After the first piece, while it was still room, I had to remove myself from the apartment so I would not eat any more. The smell of the pie from our room was so strong that we had to cover it with a plate as to not see or get a delicious scent of it after brushing our teeth before bed. I would say it was one of the better things I have baked in a long time.

Cheating…

They look delicious for being cheater cupcakes

I cheated with these. They came from a box. A box of Duncan Hines vanilla cake mix to be exact (surprisingly vegan!). And they were every bit of delicious as they would have been had I made them by scratch. I substituted cornstarch and water for the egg it called for, and instead of oil used applesauce, simply to make the cupcakes more healthy. As it turned out, it also added a wonderful hint of apple-ly taste to the cupcakes as well. They were beyond delicious, and incredibly light and fluffy.

The frosting – also not homemade sadly. I used Duncan Hines chocolate frosting (I love you DH), because a simple vanilla cake and chocolate frosting go so perfectly together. I actually ended up bringing these to party and everyone loved them! They got tons of compliments, which was great. If I ever needed to cheat at cupcakes again, I would totally turn to these.

A great start

I cannot help but find cereal one of the most boring ways to start the day. It just seems too cold and impersonal. I never feel energized or ready to conquer the day after eating a bowl – usually just still hungry and unmoved (the only exception being Wegman’s Maple Pecan cereal – that stuff is great). A whole grain bagel with Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese and a baked apple? Yes, please!

Delicious!

The bagel is a Thomas’ hearty grain 100% whole wheat bagel (because white bread is gross). They are extremely delicious, have 10 grams of protein, and are mildly sweet. There’s also no high fructose corn syrup in them, which I love. I have been making a conscious effort to try and avoid foods which contain it. The baked apple however, is the star of breakfast. The Lexington Coop having AMAZING Crispin apples made it the perfect time to make this.

Baked Apple Breakfast:

  • 1 medium – large Crispin apple
  • 1 1/2 tbsp frozen blueberries
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/16 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp rolled oats
  • 4-5 dried banana chips
  • brown sugar for sprinkling (optional)

Start by preheating the oven to 375 degrees. Then, remove the apple core and hollow the inside of the apple out, leaving around 1/2 inch from the bottom (I ate some of the tasty insides…).  I did it by hand, without a corer, and it can be done! Mix the frozen blueberries with the rolled oats, and then add the banana chips. Coat this mixture with cinnamon, and place inside the hollow apple.  Once the apple is on/in the baking pan, pour your maple syrup over it. If you wish, add a very shallow layer of water to the pan, and this way when juices escape from the apple, you can pour the tasty water over it once it is done cooking in the oven, which should take around 30-40 minutes. Of course, if you are so inclined and do not have hatred for microwaves, these can be placed in a covered bowl and zapped for about 3 to 5 minutes.

The baked apple was so delicious! The rolled oats were somewhat nontraditional, but added a nice chew to the apple. The lack of butter and sugar make it a better breakfast choice than sugar-laden cereals or prepackaged oatmeal. The banana chips softened a lot from both the maple syrup and the moisture from the frozen blueberries, adding yet another level of flavor to the apple. I think the blueberries, banana and apple went together extremely well. The bottom of the apple was so soft and coated in the fruit juice and maple syrup, how could you not love it?