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Wrapping up: Apples in a Blanket and Vegan MoFo Comes to a Close

Wow!  It’s so hard to believe this month is over.

I didn’t get any questions from anyone on the blog the other day, but I’m still going to post this wrap-up interview style.  I’m just going to carry on both sides of the conversation.

What was your favorite sweet dish?
I liked all of them, and I can’t believe I’m not saying the Chocolate Peanut Butter Pillows, but I think my favorite was the Apple Butter Donut Holes

What was your favorite savory dish?
Easy.  The veggie calzone. It had that perfect Italian-y flavor that I miss most not being able to eat pizza, calzones, etc at most restaurants.

What new dishes are most likely to get added to the regular rotation?
The salad rolls are already in the rotation so they aren’t being added, but they’ll stay.  New things will probably be the Dragon Rolls (sans the tempura most of the time), the chickpea salad melt, MAT (mushroom, avocado, tomato) Lettuce Cups and Asian Style Jackfruit Lettuce Wraps.  Oh, and how could I almost forget the Breakfast Stuffed Apples?!

What did you learn that will be most helpful?
That I don’t always have to re-invent the wheel, or the dough in this case.  I made 3 different doughs this month with just little tiny tweeks of my standby pizza crust dough.

What did you learn that you probably didn’t need to know?
Frying isn’t as much trouble as I thought.

What dishes did you want to try that you just didn’t get to?
Eggrolls, stuffed pancakes and waffles, more sushi, more rice paper rolls, raw fajitas, zucchini boats… the list goes on.  And for some reason, I really wanted to try plum-rosemary hand pies.  Not sure why.  I’ve never heard of them.  They just sound good.

What kitchen failures did you encounter?
1. I tried to make ravioli 4 times. They looked lovely. They tasted awful.  I just couldn’t get the pasta dough right.  Even in my gluten filled days, I never made fresh pasta and don’t think I’d ever eaten fresh pasta.  So I just didn’t know what I was going for.  Sorry I forgot to take a picture.  The leftover green pea-kale pesto filling was pretty good, so I mixed it in some polenta and baked it in a cast iron pan.

2. Marshmallow for an attempt at s’more cookies.  I realized just as I put it on the stove that my thermometer didn’t go high enough to get the proper measurements and I apparently didn’t cook it quite long enough.

3. Onion Hushpuppy Crusted Hot Dogs.  Yep.  I attempted a soy-free, gluten-free vegan hot dog.   I realized after the fact that I had written the measurement of flours that I wanted to use down wrong and used way more than planned.  They looked and smelled fabulous.  They tasted…well…like flour.

Hushpuppy Crusted Hot Dog

But, if you already have a hot dog you can eat, the hushpuppy wrapping was great.  I used my regular hushpuppy recipe and patted it around the hot dogs. It works better if you wet your hands. 1 hushpuppy recipe was enough for about 4 hot dogs.  Fry it up until the batter is golden brown.  Onions are built in, so all I would need to do is have a little mustard for dipping.

4.  Cannoli.  The cream cheese chocolate chip filling tasted perfect, but was too thin.  I could have worked with that, but the dough was too heavy and dry.  Cannoli are supposed to be light and crispy.   I finally got the dough where I could roll and cut them out but then they continued to get drier and after the first 7 or 8, they were too dry to roll around the cannoli molds.  

Cannoli

5. Flour tortillas that are light and flexible.  Again, great flavor, too heavy a texture.  I’ll keep working on this one.

Where do you see your cooking and this blog going from here?
Well, I definitely need to lighten up on the frying and the dough.  Stuffed, wrapped and rolled food is good, but after a month it all starts to feel a bit heavy.  I’m looking forward to more soups, salads, fruits and vegetables.

I’m not really sure about the blog, but I’m thinking of a name change.  I also really want to see myself blog more regularly.  I’m thinking of a personal cookbook challenge, either using multiple cookbooks or cooking through a favorite giving gluten/soy subs.  Or a series of lighter, healthier dishes.

Any other closing thoughts as yet another Vegan MoFo wraps up?
MoFo was a lot more fun for me not expecting myself to do 7 posts a week.  I like the 5 posts a week goal.  Also, after having to quit last year with my dad’s cancer diagnosis and extended hospital stay, I had an emotional victory reaching my goal.  As always, I’m most thankful for the readers and your encouragement!

I just couldn’t wrap up the month without just one more little treat for Stuff, Wrap & Roll.  These Apples in a Blanket are lightly sweet with a little autumnal apple goodness

Apples in a Blanket

Apples in a Blanket

  • 1/2 cup garfava flour, plus more for working the dough
  • 6 Tbsp tapioca flour
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2  Tbsp gluten-free yeast
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup warm water (around 110F)
  • 3/4 tsp canola oil
  • 3/4  tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 small gala apple, washed, cored and thinly sliced
  • Soy Free Earth Balance for Brushing
  • Sugar and Cinnamon for topping

Lightly oil/flour a cookie sheet/roasting pan (or use parchment paper) and set aside.

Add all dry ingredients (except sugar/cinnamon for topping) in a kitchen stand mixer with a dough hook or food processor with S blade and combine well.  Add in liquids and mix until a stiff dough forms.  Using your hands, gather all the dough together.  (At this point, it will probably be a blob)  The dough is  sticky so put a very small amount of garfava flour on the outside as you form it into a ball.   Let the dough sit on a small piece of parchment or waxed paper for about 25 minutes to let the yeast work a little magic.  It will get fluffy, but still be sticky.

Preheat oven to 375.

Prepare a small work surface with waxed paper or parchment paper. This space doesn’t need to be very large, just enough to put one “blanket” down at a time.  Keep a little bowl of extra garfava flour handy for working with the sticky dough.  You don’t want to work in more flour, just have enough to coat the outside of each little ball of dough.

Core & slice apple.  I used one of the corers that cuts an apple into wedges and then sliced each wedge into 4 slices.

Toss a little garfava flour onto the work surface.  Tear off a piece of dough and pat it down lightly into the flour, turn it over and pat it down into the flour again.  You just want enough to coat the dough so you can work with it.  Pat the dough down into a circle about 2½” in diamater and a little less than 1/4″ thick.  Put the circle on the workspace, put 2 apple slices in the middle and wrap the dough around it, being careful to push the edges together to form a strong seam.  (Otherwise, they’ll open up when they bake.  They still taste good, but not quite as pretty).  Put on prepared baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough and apples.

Melt about 1 Tbsp of soy free Earth Balance.  Using a pastry brush, brush a thin layer on top of each apple in a blanket (including the apple that’s sticking out the ends).

Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes until edges and bottom are golden brown.

In a ziploc bag, add sugar and cinnamon (6 Tbsp sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon).  2-4 at a time depending on the size of your bag.  (I did 3 in a quart bag).  Shake bag to coat each apple in a blanket.  Repeat until all are coated.

And with that, goodbye Vegan MoFo 2013.

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Happy Birthday, John Chapman: Apple Butter Donut Holes

So, you don’t know who John Chapman is? If you’re from the US, you probably learned about him in school by the name of the folk hero Johnny Appleseed. Chapman was a practicing vegetarian who is credited with establishing many apple orchards as the American frontier expanded. You can read more about him on biography.com

Chapman’s planting wasn’t as random or goodhearted as the legendary character Johnny Appleseed. It was for profit and making of apple based alcoholic beverages rather than growing tasty apples for mamas baking pies or for kids to give to teachers. But, I’m still thankful that he planted orchards that would eventually lead to the orchards we have today that provide fujis, galas, jonagolds, granny smiths, and many other delicious varieties of apples.

I discovered the other day that I had a little jar of apple butter hiding in my pantry. It was the last of several I had gotten from a friend of mine. There was also a set of pastry bags/decorator tips that my sister gave me that had not been used yet. In that set was a bismarck tip (used for filling). I had been wanting donuts. All of those together led to the birth of the apple butter donut hole.

Although I’ve lived most of my life in the homeland of the yeasted Krispy Kreme Doughnut, my donut loyalty will always lie with the heavier cake donuts of my early childhood. Naturally, I thought of the lovely sugar covered mini donuts from the even lovelier Cara of Fork and Beans. She kindly granted me permission to repost with my changes.

The only change I made in the dough itself was I switched to canola from coconut oil. I figured why waste the more expensive coconut oil if I was just going to turn around and fry it in canola anyway.

While these are technically “filled” and not stuffed, I hope their sugary goodness will convince you that they belong in the Stuff, Wrap and Roll series. If not, just ignore me. I’ll be in the corner polishing them off.

Apple Butter Donut Holes

Apple Butter Donut Holes

(makes 16)

For Donuts:

    • 1/2 c. sorghum flour
    • 1/2 c. Brown rice flour
    • 1/4 c. potato starch (not flour!)
    • 1/4 c. arrowroot powder
    • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
    • 2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 c. brown sugar
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
    • 1/2 c. buttermilk (1/2 Tb apple cider vinegar + 1/2 c. almond milk)
    • 1 1/2 tsp Ener-G egg replacer + 2 Tbs warm water, mixed til frothy
    • 1/4 c. canola oil + more for frying
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For Filling:

    • 1/2 cup (+/-) apple butter

For Topping

  • 1/2 cup sugar (I used organic evaporated cane juice)
  • 1 Tbsp Cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Mix dry ingredients for donuts together until fully combined.
  2. Make a well in the center of the bowl. Add all the remainder of wet ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until just incorporated.
  3. Roll into 16 equal sized balls
  4. Heat about 1/2″ to 3/4″ oil in a large skillet to medium high heat (about 375F if you’re checking the temp)
  5. In small batches, fry donut holes until golden brown. Since that’s not enough oil to completely cover them, they’ll need to be turned halfway through. Total cooking time is about 2-2½ minutes.
  6. Remove from skillet and put on paper towel lined plate.
  7. After all donuts have been cooked and are cooled enough to handle, using a pastry bag with the apple butter in it and a bismarck tip (filling tip, I used Wilton 230), put a hole in one side of the donut and squeeze apple butter into the donut until it starts to come back out of the hole. I found this easier if I put the donut hole down on a plate. When it is properly filled, you will see the donut hole become a bit larger and will also probably see tiny oil droplets being pushed out of the sides of the donut. Wipe off any excess apple butter from the outside of the donut hole.
  8. After all have been filled, fill a large zipper bag with 1/2 cup sugar and 1 Tbsp cinnamon. Shake to mix. Then working in batches of 3 or 4, shake donut holes in the cinnamon-sugar mixture until well coated. Place on a plate and serve. Or eat them straight out of the bag 😉

Note: My apple butter was homemade and possibly not as thick as some store bought ones. If your apple butter is too thick to go through the tip easily, I suspect adding a bit of apple juice or water would take care of that.

Reality check: This was my first time filling any kind of baked goods. So they weren’t all as full as the one cut open in the picture. Some had more. Some had almost none. That one was about average. There’s a learning curve. Be patient with yourself :)

On this, the 239th anniversary of your birth, I appreciate you, Johnny Appleseed.

Happy Birthday, Johnny Appleseed

 

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Breakfast Stuffed Apples

I love breakfast.  One of my favorites in recent days has been a cooked grain or pseudo-grain.  I especially enjoy buckwheat*.  If you’ve only had buckwheat pancakes or something else from buckwheat flour, you haven’t really had buckwheat.  When you cook buckwheat from the toasted groats, they have a mild, slightly nutty taste instead of the more intense flavor of the flour. I like to put cooked buckwheat in a bowl with fruit, nuts and some almond milk and eat it as “cereal”.  I prefer cold, but warm buckwheat cereal is good too.

The problem is, I often don’t leave myself the time to sit down to eat a bowl of cereal and need to take my breakfast to work with me.  Smoothies are good for that.  Unlike most people, I’ll eat anything for breakfast that I’ll eat any other time of day so even leftovers from last night’s dinner are good for that .  But, I do get to missing my buckwheat cereal.   I decided to figure out a way to make it to go.

Breakfast Stuffed Apple

Breakfast Stuffed Apples

Makes 4 apple halves, 2-4 servings

  • 2 large Granny Smith Apples
  • 2 Tbsp Almond Butter
  • 1 tsp Maple Syrup
  • 2 Tbsp Almond Milk
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup cooked buckwheat
  • 2 Tbps Coconut Flakes
  • 2 Tbsp Dried Cranberries
  • 2 Tbsp Chopped Walnuts
  • 1½-2 tsp Coconut Oil, melted

Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with foil.

In a large bowl, whisk together the almond butter, maple syrup, almond milk, cinnamon and nutmeg until well blended.  It doesn’t have to be completely smooth, but you don’t want clumps of almond butter.  Set aside.

Wash the apples and remove stem.  Cut in half vertically.  Using a metal spoon, (and the help of a paring knife if necessary) remove the seeds and the hard core and discard.  Use a paring knife to cut off the calyx* (that little thing on the bottom of the apple where it was attached to the blossom) and discard.  Then using the metal spoon, dig out the flesh of the apple,  leaving a rim around the edges and not going too close to the outside wall.  Because of the shape of the apple, there will be thicker chunks where the stem/calyx were, but that works out fine.

Stuffed Apple Shell

Chop the removed apple flesh and add it, along with the buckwheat, into the almond butter mixture.  Stir until well combined and coated.  Fold in the coconut, cranberries, walnuts.

Using a spoon or your hands, put the buckwheat mixture in the cavity of the apples and lightly pack it even with the rim of the apples.  Then use the remaining buckwheat mixture to go back and round off the top of the stuffing.

Brush a thin layer of coconut oil over the stuffing and the cut edges of the apples.

Put apples on baking sheet (stuffing side up) and bake until apples are soft-crisp, about 20 minutes.  The thicker parts might still have a little crunch to them.  Serve warm.

If you want breakfast to go for the next morning, let the apples cool, wrap them in foil and put in the refrigerator.  I would expect they would warm up fine in the microwave (remove the foil!)  or oven, but I haven’t tried them warmed over. I ate it cold this morning. Since I like my apple pie cold too, it was reminiscent of a piece of pie.  For breakfast.  Yes, please.

A few things to note:

1. Even though I made the apples to go, these are not eat-while-I’m-driving to go. They’re a bit too unpredictable as to whether the stuffing will stay in place when you bite into it for that.  It stayed in place better cold than warm.  But, either way, it’s more of an eat-at-my-desk-when-I-get-to-work kind of to go.

2. If not all of the coconut oil soaked in while baking, there may be a couple little chunks of that on top.  I’m fine with it, but If that bothers you, by all means, warm it up.
3. These are only mildly sweet.  If you have a sweet tooth and want to kick up the sweet a couple notches, just add a little extra maple syrup in the almond butter mixture or drizzle it over the top of the apple right before eating.

* Buckwheat is not related to wheat at all. Despite how it sounds, it is gluten free.
**Yes, I had to google the word calyx.  I had no idea what that thing was called.

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1 food 5 ways, Sweet Potatoes, Way #3: Sweet Potato Pie Juice

A couple months ago, I was doing a short juice fast. Generally, I preferred the vegetable-y green juices, but one day I really wanted something sweet. This was it!
Sweet Potato Pie Juice
Makes about 1 cup, depending on your juicer and the size of your ingredients

Put through the juice extractor:

1 large sweet potato (9-10 oz)
1 fuji apple
Stir 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice into the juice
Place in a airtight glass container or bottle and chill. (It is one of those juices that will leave/some sugar or starch on the glass, don’t get worried if you see a buildup in the bottom)
Shake and enjoy!
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Just so ya know, YES, I do plan on finishing up the theme and doing a wrap-up by the end of tomorrow. But if I don’t finish tomorrow, I will finish up in the days following just as if mofo hasn’t ended.

1 Food 5 Ways, Kale, Way #1: Not-so-mean Green Juice

I have to admit, until about 2 years ago, I was one of those people that heard the word “kale” and turned my nose up at it. How times have changed. There is rarely a time when I don’t have kale in my fridge or on my grocery list. It is one of my favorite vegetables and is much more versatile than I ever imagined. And it’s so nutritious! Check out kale on World’s Healthiest Foods for more information on just how good it is for you. When you’re done being amazed, check out way #1 for using kale – JUICE!

I’ve recently started juicing and I quite like this one that I made up to use some fruit and veg hanging around my fridge. The kale is much less obvious in juice than I would have expected even though it makes up the bulk of it. And don’t forget, it packs a powerhouse of nutrients! I would typically drink this as one serving as a light meal or a snack, but if you’re serving it along side a full breakfast breakfast, it could serve two.

Not-so-mean Green Juice
  • 1 cup spinach, packed
  • 3 cups curly kale, packed
  • 1 large granny smith apple (If you like your juice sweeter, use a fuji. If you like it really sweet, use two)
  • 5 large strawberries
  • 30 green grapes
Put all ingredients, preferably cold, through the juice extractor (some juicers suggest you put greens through first, but follow your juicer’s instructions). Stir final juice, pour and enjoy. It’s most nutritious right away, but can be stored in a glass container in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Sometimes I’ll put it in the freezer just long enough to chill it. Don’t let it freeze – glass WILL break.
If you can’t convince someone of this juice’s sweet, fruity goodness because of its vivid green color, pour it into a cocktail glass and garnish it up! Maybe that’ll help. If it doesn’t…more juice for you! :)


Cookbook Challenge Week 2: Vegan with a Vengeance – Recipe #2: Apple Pie-Crumb Cake Muffins

For the more observant of you – yes there are 14 muffins on that tray. Yes, the recipe only yields 12. I’d made a double batch.

Cookbook Challenge Week 2: Vegan with a Vengeance – Recipe #2 The Recipe: Apple Pie-Crumb Cake Muffins (p 53)

The Reasoning: I’m a muffin addict.

The Substitutions: I replaced the all purpose flour with my go-to gf mix. I couldn’t find apple cider anywhere, so I used an all natural apple juice (Simply Apple) and a squeeze of lemon for a little acidity. Although I’ve stated before that I almost always use turbinado sugar, I only had enough of that for the topping, so I used plain white granulated sugar for the muffin. I also used less oil in the topping (probably about 4-1/2 tbsp for a double batch). It was turning into an oily mess so I stopped. This could be because I used turbinado instead of regular brown sugar.

The Process: A little extra chopping and grating for the apple, but basically a straightforward muffin recipe. Not hard. Hopefully one day I will learn how to eye how much batter should go in each muffin so I don’t get to the end and have to “steal” batter from already full muffins to make the last 2 muffins. Doubtful!

The Review: I was disappointed with only one thing. The recipe states that the apples would form an apple pie filling in the center of the muffin. They didn’t. The apples were spread throughout the muffins. I don’t know if this happens to everyone or if it’s because of the gluten-freeness of the batter. Never mind, they tasted great! The spoken review that I thought was best came from my friend Melissa: “They taste kinda like gingerbread without the ginger” Pretty accurate. They were dense, moist and a little spicy – just no ginger. The best unspoken review was my (usually fairly picky) friend Tim who took seconds when nobody else was going for the last muffin on the plate. I would still like to figure out how to get the cute little filling in the middle…

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Points information – 1 muffins=4 points
This is not figured or endorsed by Weight Watchers. I figured the points value myself using an online point calculator.

I haven’t had a really good crepe in years…

I can’t say that any more. I made the buckwheat crepes from Veganomicon, filled them with an apple-mango filling and drizzled the top with an almond sauce. Delish! If I keep cooking things like this for my family, I’m going to have to cook more often because yet again…no leftovers.

I’ve tried to make buckwheat crepes from a different recipe a few years ago. They tasted pretty good but were kinda strong. They had much more buckwheat in them, so they were also a little on the heavy side. That is not the case with these. They were milder and had the light consistency that “real” crepes are supposed to have.

To make the crepes, I substituted the following:

  • GF all purpose flour for the regular flour. Because the majority of the flour was buckwheat and chickpea, both naturally gluten free, this was a great substitution here.
  • Rice milk for soy milk
  • Coconut oil in place of margarine for brushing on the pan

Just 3 quick subs – easy, eh?

I also neglected to read the recipe last night or even before I made the filling so instead of refrigerating the batter for the hour or more as specified, I stuck the batter in the freezer for 15 minutes–worked like a charm. One note: I used the 1/2 cup measure per crepe and I only got 5 instead of the 8-10 stated in the recipe. There were 5 of us for breakfast, so it worked out ok. But I ended up eating mine as kind of chopped up mess, because I ate the first crepe which notoriously never turns out in one piece.

The other ones were lovely though.

The apple-mango filling came about because I had 3 apples that were starting to soften in a couple spots and some mango chunks in the freezer.

Apple-Mango Crepe Filling (for 5 large crepes)

3 red delicious apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
1 cup frozen mango chunks, cut into smaller chunks
1 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp turbinado sugar
2 tsp arrowroot
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp each ground ginger, ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 350. Mix all of the above ingredients in a 2 quart casserole (or whatever glass dish it will fit in with a little stirring room) and bake for 50-60 minutes until the fruit is soft and a nice light syrup is forming. Stir every 20 minutes or so to keep the top fruit as juicy as the bottom.

I have this need to drizzle something on the top of crepes, so again, I just looked in my refrigerator to see what I could come up with. I didn’t think to measure for the almond syrup, but these are approximate: 1 tbsp all natural almond butter, 3 tbsp water (just thin to desired consistency), 1/2-1 tsp agave nectar. Mix and drizzle on the top of each filled crepe.

Serve warm. Actually, they’d probably be good cold too, but nobody let it sit around long enough to find out.

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