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!

Fronch Toast. Oh, do I love breakfast

Fronch Toast and Scrambled Tofu, the real breakfast of champions

Yeah, I know, the couple of days of Vegan MoFo I am spending talking about breakfast foods. Is that any surprise??

Well, I have found the french toast recipe that I will be sticking with from now on. It’s the “fronch” toast recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance. It is breakfast food and dessert all rolled into one. Really though, this french toast has the perfect texture and taste, is not too soggy and doesn’t burn easily. The bread crisps up very nicely, and it even has a faint taste of fried dough. I am in love with this recipe. While it may not be the most healthy thing ever, who really cares sometimes?

  • Loaf of French or Italian bag, baguette shaped, stale (I couldn’t find a baguette to my liking so bought a loaf of thin, regular french bread, and then toasted it prior to making the french toast)
  • 1/2 cup soy creamer (or rice or soy milk) I used Silk’s vanilla soy creamer
  • 1/2 cup plain rice or soy milk
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/4 cup chickpea flour
  • several tablespoons canola or vegetable oil

Begin by slicing the bread into 1-inch thick slices, and then toast them if they are not already stale (I will say though, Vegan with a Vengeance says NOT to toast them, but instead to place them in the oven at 350 degrees for 3-4 minutes. I did toast them, however, and they turned out fine).

Put the soy creamer and milk into a wide, shallow bowl (you will dipping the bread into this). Add in the corn starch and stir until it is completely dissolved. At this point, I added some cinnamon to the mixture as well, I really love it on my french toast (and in general). Then, add the chickpea flour and mix until it is all absorbed.

Heat up your skillet and add enough oil to create a layer on the bottom. This should take about a tablespoon of oil. Then, soak the bread in the mixture and place on the skillet. Cook each side for 2 minutes (resist flipping them before this!!), and then flip. They should be golden brown and gorgeous.

These were great without the maple syrup even

I served it with some leftover scrambled tofu and they went perfectly together. It is one of the best breakfasts ever. While I made half of the loaf all at one time, I really had to restrain myself from eating all the pieces. In total I had 4 slices in one sitting which is kind of ridiculous, but what can I say, it is so good. Plus, think of all the cholesterol I’m saving myself from!

Maple Mustard String Beans and Potatoes

I’ve been wanting to make this dish for awhile now, but it requires a lot of cooking time so I had steered away from it. But behold, I picked a day when I would get out of work early and have time to cook this! If you are put off by the cooking time, just know that it is worth it in the end.

I got this all ready the night before, cutting the beans and potatoes, as well as pouring the glaze over it, put foil over the top and left it in the refrigerator for the next day. Right upon getting home I preheated the oven and popped them in when it finished heating up, so all of the major work was already done (so I made chickpea cutlets while the potatoes and beans were baking).

I really liked how this dish turned out. The taste and smell kind of reminded me of Snyder’s Honey Mustard Pretzel Bites. Maple syrup,  mustard and soy sauce definitely play well together, being both sweet yet slightly sour and tart at the same time. I would even consider making a batch of the glaze and marinating tofu in it.

By the end of the cooking time, the potatoes were perfectly soft, and the green beans had the nice, soft bite of a green bean casserole. French’s Fried Onions probably wouldn’t be a bad addition to this either. It made a ton, so I ended up having a lot of leftovers that fed me throughout the week.

I would love to make this dish again, that is, if time allows. Between all the good recipes from Vegan with a Vengeance and the Veganomicon that have potatoes in them, I will have to pick and choose however!

Tofu, Wild Rice and Almond Stuffed Acorn Squash

A refridgerator full of squash

As mentioned before, we have a TON of squash, as you can probably tell from the above picture, and the previous one of our squash center piece (hey, it is pretty). After seeing this recipe posted on my cousin’s amazing blog, I knew I had to make it, and that it would be perfect to utilize one of our many acorn squash lying around. This really is a fantastic recipe. It is easy to make and is also very versatile, depending on what you have in your fridge that day, or what you feel like eating. It is the perfect way to present and eat the best things fall has to offer. I followed the recipe, which you can find by following the link to her blog, with a few exceptions. I threw in about a cup and half of swiss chard (we had a great bunch of it from the farm share), and added sliced almonds instead of hazelnuts.

glorious!

First of all, you can tell that is going to taste great right away, while it’s still baking, because it makes the house smell fantastic (and warms it up too!), and because it looks beautiful. The bright colors of the squash play well with the colorful wild rice, almonds, and the earthy green of the swiss chard. When you eat it you’re not surprised that it tastes amazing because it looks so appetizing to begin with. The nice chew of the wild rice is a great contrast to the soft, sweet acorn squash, and the tofu adds another level to the dish, being slightly crispy on the outside and still relatively soft on the inside. The swiss chard tastes fantastic with the almonds and with the filling as a whole. This dish alone is one of the many reasons to celebrate the fall.

Collard Greens and Grilled Cheese

Dinner!

I don’t know why, but for some reason I had it in my head that I hated collard greens. Perhaps I was getting it confused with okra (yeah, I don’t understand that either), which I am pretty sure I don’t like either, but I suppose that is in question too. Anyhow, so when a huge bunch of collard greens showed up in our farm share bag, I was not thrilled. Not like I would have been if it were kale or swiss chard at least. Regardless of this, the boyfriend cooked some up, by boiling  it and then tossing it in Bragg’s. After a bit of reluctance and preparing for the worst, I tried it. As it turns out, I love collard greens. They have a great earthy taste and a good chew to them. I love how dense and dark green they are. It’s one of those vegetables you know must be awesome for you while you are eating it (kind of like kale- which it is extremely genetically similar to). Plus, researchers at the University of Berkeley found that they are high 3,3′-Diindolylmethane, a compound that helps the innate immune response (functioning in anti-viral, cancer, and bacterial activity). There’s my Biology degree in action! And also why you should eat your collard greens.

Along with this, we had some Gimmie Lean sausage to use up before it risked going bad, along with some Toffuti cheese slices. We pan-fried some tofu strips as pretend egg, threw on some hot sauce, and were good to go. Earlier in the day I bought an amazing loaf of whole grain whole wheat bread (no corn syrup!) from the coop, so we made some great grilled cheese. The collard greens and sandwiches were awesome together! I was pleasantly surprised at our pieced together dinner, and at the fact that I love greens.

Quinoa stuffed squash & more

Having the farm share deliver us a big bag for fresh vegetables every Saturday keeps me on my toes, and is also good for Vegan Mofo. From the beginning of October and onward, we have been receiving tons and tons of squash. Delicata, butternut, acorn, kabocha, honey bear, on and on. We have so many we cannot keep up with them, and now we have a lovely bouquet of colorful squash on our kitchen table (and it is gorgeous too!).

I had one of those days where I really wanted quinoa (think of all that calcium!), had some sitting in the pantry, and then decided what to throw in it. After just getting home from work, I wanted my dinner done relatively quickly because I was super hungry, so I quickly sauteed some red onion (from the farm share as well), almonds, minced garlic (about 1 cloves), and frozen broccoli, and then threw in a can of diced pineapple. While that was being made, I prepared the quinoa in vegetable broth and bit of pineapple juice from the can for added flavor. When they both were done, I combine the two pans and went to town eating. It was ridiculously easy, quick, tasty and nutritious. The slightly crunch of the almonds along with the sweet softness of the warm pineapple was amazing, and the broccoli further added some extra crunch and flavor to round out the dish.

the quinoa filling

The following day, I came home from work hungry and lazy yet again. Luckily, I had a good amount of leftovers in the fridge, along with more squash than I could ever know what to do with. I cut one of the honey bear squash in half, placed it on a cookie sheet face up, and baked it a 350 degrees for 40 minutes, with a little bit of olive oil, salt, pepper and a half of tablespoon each of maple syrup. After the forty minutes, I placed the leftover quinoa in the center, resisted from immediately eating it, and placed it back in the oven for another 20 minutes. During this time, I placed the seeds from the center on the squash on a lightly greased cookie sheet, sprayed them with cooking spray, salt, pepper and a garlic powder, and cooked them for fifteen minutes. I could not let a perfectly good part of the squash go to waste. It turns out that the seeds were delicious too, especially when paired with the soft quinoa and flesh of the squash.

leftovers are always great

I served the quinoa-filled squash along the seeds and leftover Greek Tofu Benedict, drizzled on some tahini dressing, and sat down to eat dinner. Leftovers generally get a bad reputation, but in this case it is totally undeserved. Quinoa always reheats well, and is given new life inside the squash, and the tofu, roasted red peppers and potatoes heated up great in the toaster oven. For making this dish on a whim, I was pretty impressed!

Leek and Bean Cassoulet with Biscuits

Hello, my new favorite dinner.

Yep, that is it. I am waiting to try a recipe from the Veganomicon that disappoints me, but I have yet to. The farm share left me with tons of leeks, which I have never cooked with. I turned to my cookbooks to find a recipe to use them in, before they ran the risk of spoiling.

I stumbled across the leek and bean cassoulet  in the Veganomicon. I really love stew-like dishes as they are warm, savory, and stick to your insides. This recipe seemed like it had to be a winner, and any of the pictures I found of the dish on other blogs or recipe sites simply looked amazing.

I got to work cutting all of the vegetables, boiling the potatoes, and getting the dough ready for the biscuits that would be placed on top. The majority of effort put into the dish really goes in the prep of the veggies, but other than that it is fairly simple and only requires you to have the patience to wait while it cooks (which is harder than you would think, given how great this smells). I knew it was going to be delicious even when I was mixing the leeks, potatoes, beans (I ended up using butter beans rather than white, as the recipe calls for, along with string beans) and carrots over the stove in the vegetable stock.

After it was done cooking over the stove, I placed it into a 9×13 Pyrex casserole dish and placed the biscuit dough on top. After popping it into the oven, I was excited. I knew it was going to be fantastic, and I had a hard time forcing myself to let it cool after before eating it. This is such a great fall/winter casserole. It is warm and comforting, and colorful as well. The potatoes, carrots and string beans come out perfectly soft with just the right amount of bite left in them. The leeks, which I thought were going to be overwhelming in the dish, give the gravy the perfect amount of flavor without making everything taste too onion-y. I ended up stirring the biscuit in with the gravy and vegetables, getting bites of it with every couple of spoonfuls. It is amazing with the gravy, and adds just a tiny bit of sweetness and richness to the dish, contrasting well with the hearty vegetables.

I can’t wait to make this again. It really isn’t too difficult of a dish, and could be made the night before to be put into the oven when ready to eat. It is fairly inexpensive, especially with some our vegetables coming from the already purchased farm share, and has a ton of servings, especially if you are making it for just yourself. Even for two I think you would be able to get at least two dinners out of it. I even had it for breakfast before work one morning, it was great even then!

BBQ Tofu

I love BBQ sauce. Lately I’ve just been using Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce (it really is amazing) whenever I feel the need to put sauce on things, mainly Boca chickens and the various dishes they make it into. On this particular night, I made the Backyard BBQ Sauce from the Veganomicon. I followed the recipe until the very end, where I added chunks of pineapple and a small amount of pineapple juice. After reading the ingredient label of Sweet Baby Ray’s, I realized that it has pineapple in it, and that must be what makes it amazing. I think I was right.

They cooked up great (I baked them instead of pan-frying), they had just enough of a bite to them. The BBQ sauce was an awesome combination of sweet and sour, and the chunks of pineapple in it were great. It was almost a little too tangy, so I think next time I would add less vinegar if I were to add the pineapple juice as well. I served it over a slice of toasted wheat bread, alongside some sweet corn and maple-mustard glazed string beans and potatoes (from Vegan with a Vengeance). I had a decent amount of BBQ sauce left over and served it up another day with some Chickpea cutlets. It’s good to know the sauce is versatile and lends itself well to other dishes. If you get the chance, you should definitely make the sauce – it was great with the baked tofu!

Greek Tofu Benedict and Diner Home Fries

Roasted Red Peppers - I should make them more...

I know what you are thinking. Another breakfast post? Again!? Yes. Believe it. The Veganomicon has yet to let me down. After work the other night I was actually in the mood to cook, but definitely wanted breakfast-ish food. I always want breakfast food, so that’s no surprise. In digging through both the fridge and my recipe books, I knew I have everything to make the Greek Tofu Benedict and Diner Home fries, along with Dill-Tahini dressing leftover that I had previously slathered all over kale. These are two things you definitely NEED to make from this book.

This was the first time I roasted my own red peppers and broiled my own tofu (or even used the broiler for that matter. I was always somewhat scared of it for whatever reason. I think I have childhood memories of my mom frying steak to a crisp in it – scary on multiple levels). Roasting your own red peppers is amazing. They smell great and they just feel and taste more authentic. It’s great to have them still warm from the oven when you go to eat them as well. It takes some time but it is totally worth it.

The combination of the tofu, roasted red peppers, dill-tahini dressing and Gimmie Lean Sausage is to die for. It looks nice all stacked up, and they compliment each other better than you would ever believe. It is impressive looking and colorful, and others would think you put a lot more effort into it than you really did. I think it would be really good in sandwich form as well, if you really wanted to mix it up a bit, perhaps with a couple of avocado slices as well. And let’s not forget about the diner home fries as well. Ridiculously simple to make, they are so good, and really taste like something you would get at any good breakfast place.  I liked the colors of the roasted red pepper from the tofu benedict next to the green peppers in the home fries too. Would I make this again? In a heartbeat!

Make this!

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