fried foods

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

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


  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 2-2¬Ĺ 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 ūüėČ

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




Plantain-Kale Empanadas

The first (and I think the last) time I had empanadas was about 10 years ago. They were made by a Venezuelan grandma. ¬†It was after church on Sunday night, and she was in town visiting her family who were still relatively new in the community. ¬†They invited about 20 of us over for empanadas. ¬†It’s still amazing to me how she was able to just keep hot empanadas coming out.

I promise the fact that the family became dear friends has nothing to do with that empanada party.  But, it did make me want to learn to make them myself.  For some reason, I never tried until now.


I used this empanada tutorial. ¬†The recipe for the corn-based dough is on the pdf attached to the tutorial (at the bottom of her page). ¬†It’s very similar to the dough and tutorial in Viva Vegan! ¬†Be sure to use the Columbian/Venezuelan masarepa and not tortilla masa harina.

I opted for using my tortilla press instead of rolling out the dough. ¬†I think either would work, but the tortilla press made it pretty easy work. ¬† Also, the tip about using a bowl to seal off the edges of the empanada instead of doing it by hand/with a fork…brilliant! ¬†Every empanada was perfectly sealed. ¬†Plus it gave me enough extra dough to make up three extra empanadas which I filled with mozzarella style Daiya. ¬†I ended up with a few ooey gooey cheesy empanadas that would be perfect with a bowl of tomato soup.

For frying, I put about 1/2-3/4″ in a large cast iron skillet. ¬†It wasn’t enough to cover the empanadas, but since you turn them over anyway, it worked great. ¬†They took about 3 minutes on the first side to reach golden and 1-2 minutes on the second side (each batch got a little shorter as the oil heated up). ¬†The Daiya-only empanadas took about 1/2 the time.

For the main batch of empanadas, I made up my own filling of plantains and kale. ¬†I’m posting it here, because it was good. But, I’d change it up some next time. ¬†Without the dipping sauce it was a little bit dry. ¬†I think I would like it better with more kale and onions and fewer plantains. ¬†I would probably also cut the plantains into a finer dice. ¬†(I’d also like to try a lightly spicy jackfruit version…yummmm)

I was pretty careful not to overfill so the empanadas didn’t tear open. ¬†I used a scant tablespoon, ¬†but I think they could have stood just a little more filling. ¬†That would have been easier to do with the smaller diced plantains and more of the flexible kale.

Plantain-Kale Empanada Filling

2 tsp oil
1/4 cup finely diced onions
1/2 tsp crushed garlic
2 ripe plantains, diced
2 cups finely chopped kale (stems removed)
3/8 cup water

In a large skillet, on medium heat, saute the onions in the oil until onions are translucent, about 7 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute more until garlic starts to brown.  Add plantains.  Continue to saute, stirring regularly, until plantains are lightly browned, about 5 minutes.  Stir in kale and add water.  Cook just until water has cooked off and kale is wilted, 1-2 minutes.  When the water is gone, if the kale has not yet wilted, just add a little extra water and continue cooking until it is.

Dipping Sauce

I used a little maple syrup thinned out with water and Chipotle Tabasco sauce to taste. ¬†It doesn’t take much of the sauce to make a great sweet-hot punch.

If you’d like to see some more Latin food goodness, check out Newman Improved’s Vegan MoFo posts for this year and Cupcake Kitteh’s cooking through Viva Vegan!



A Post Full of Firsts: Dragon Roll and Tempura Vegetables

No series on “Stuff, Wrap, and Roll” would be complete without vegetable sushi. ¬†I always like to try new things during Vegan MoFo and this post is full of firsts. ¬†This was my first attempt at making a dragon roll. In fact, it was my first attempt at making sushi with the rice on the outside. ¬†My first attempt at tempura. It was even my first time eating tempura. ¬†And it was my first time using Sriracha.

Dragon Roll and Tempura Vegetables | Veg-am

I used this tutorial as a guide. (warning: not vegan). ¬†The tutorial was for a tempura shrimp dragon roll. ¬†I chose to go with a tempura zucchini roll and changed up the other fillings too. ¬†Since this was my first time making dragon rolls, instead of giving a recipe, I’m going to walk through what did and didn’t work.

When given the option, I usually like the ¬†bad news first, so I’ll go through what didn’t work so well first. ¬†As you can see by the fact that I actually did make dragon rolls and tempura vegetables, none was a total failure.

What didn’t work quite right:

The rice. ¬†When I was first learning about rolling my own sushi, I searched all over the internet for how to make sushi using brown basmati. ¬†What I found was a lot of people who said it was impossible because basmati wasn’t sticky enough. ¬†I concluded that these people had just never been as inept at cooking rice as I used to be. ¬†I know how to make sticky basmati (don’t turn the heat down enough and just keep adding enough water to keep it from sticking). ¬†This works just fine for sushi where you have the nori on the outside. ¬†It wasn’t ideal for dragon rolls (a little too sticky), so next time I might actually use real sushi rice.

My confidence level: ¬†The tutorial said that it’s ideal to use just half sheets of nori for a dragon roll. ¬†It further said that if you were a beginner start with 3/4 sheet or a whole sheet. ¬†Surely, I could work with a half sheet. ¬†As you can see in the photo of the single piece of roll above, I didn’t have a perfect seal. ¬†So, I probably should have started with a bit more.

My cutting skills or my knives:  I had a little bit of a hard time cutting through the plastic wrap and the crispy tempura shell of the zucchini.  I could cut them, but I was squishing the roll out of shape doing it.  This may not have been as much of an issue if the two things above had been perfect.

What did work:

The fillings: ¬†I used finely chopped red cabbage & carrots and strips of tempura zucchini. ¬†I really liked this combination. ¬†The finely chopped vegetables, as you can see, were a little hard to keep contained so a little got on the outside of the roll, so I may try shredded pieces next time, but I really liked the texture of this while eating. ¬†Maybe I should just be more careful ūüėČ ¬†More on the tempura later.

Dragon Roll Fillings | Veg-am

The rolling: As I mentioned above, I probably should have used the larger pieces of nori. ¬†But, the bamboo mat lined with cling wrap worked wonderfully for rolling and shaping. It peeled right off of even my too-sticky rice. The advice to have a bowl of water to dip your fingers in was brilliant. ¬†I didn’t bother adding vinegar to the water bowl. ¬†Just water worked fine.

The avocado:
I thought rolling the avocado on the outside of the dragon roll was going to be the hardest part. With a perfectly ripe avocado and the instructions provided, it was actually one of the easiest. ¬†It does need to be a pretty perfect avocado: soft enough to be flexible, but not the least bit mushy. ¬†If you’re looking to impress, this is a pretty fancy looking result for such an easy process.

The dipping sauces: I used two sauces.  First was an Asian sweet chili sauce straight from the bottle.  I really like the sweet with a touch of hot for the roll.  Second sauce was a Sriracha mayo. There was a recipe on the tutorial site, but all I did was take some soy-free Vegenaise and add Sriracha until it was the perfect level of heat for me. This spicy, creamy dip was perfect for the tempura veggies on the side.  I made a much less hot version of the Sriracha mayo for my mom.

The Tempura:  Oh yes, the tempura.  I was a little hesitant about this part as I decided to go with other information I found in several places that you could make tempura out of just rice flour and sparkling water.  Yes, just two ingredients. Both vegan.  Both gluten and soy free.  How often does that happen?

The recipe on the tutorial had baking powder and eggs, but I decided to try the simpler route. ¬†Everything I saw on using rice flour was talking specifically about sweet rice flour. ¬†I had brown rice flour (no shock for a gluten free person, eh?). ¬†And I’m not a huge fan of brown rice flour all alone as it tends toward being gritty. ¬†Thankfully, this post on making tempura veggies had good pictures demonstrating the perfect thickness for batter. ¬†I ended up needing more water to rice than with the sweet rice flour (no surprise there).

Brown Rice Flour Tempura Vegetables

1-1/4 cup brown rice flour
1-1/3 cup cold sparkling water
Whatever vegetables you want – I used onions cut in half-moon “strips” and zucchini sticks
Cornstarch for coating vegetables
Oil for frying (I used canola)

Preheat your oil for frying (most sites say around 375, but since I did it in a pan and didn’t check the temperature – I’ll just say medium high heat.). ¬†Tempura is traditionally a deep frying method, but I didn’t want to use the deep fryer. ¬†I used a large cast iron skillet with about 1″ to 1.5″ of oil in it. ¬†I ended up turning the vegetables over, but it worked great. ¬†My skillet is actually bigger in diameter than my deep fryer, so I think it was faster and it was easier to watch.

Mix up the flour and sparkling water in a small bowl with a whisk. ¬†You can add seasonings if you wish because it’s bland. ¬†(For the zucchini to go in the roll, I used it as is. ¬†For the onions, I added a little salt and cayenne pepper.)

In a large bowl, put a small amount of cornstarch Рadd in your vegetables and toss to coat.  This just helps the batter to stick.

One at a time, coat your vegetable pieces with batter and carefully place into the oil. ¬†Don’t overcrowd the vegetables. ¬†I have a 14″ skillet and did 7-9 pieces at a time. ¬†Overcrowding will lower the temperature of the oil. ¬†Hot oil is important as it allows your vegetables to float (and not stick) and they absorb less oil. ¬†Cook until golden brown. ¬†Remove onto a plate lined with paper towels.

One little tip that I gleaned from the dragon roll post (the shrimp tempura recipe) was if you want a better “restaurant style” coating for your tempura…use a metal spoon and drizzle a little more batter over each vegetable in the skillet after it’s been frying for a few seconds. ¬†It works :)

With hot oil and the lightness the sparkling soda gave, the zucchini here (and the onions above) are not saturated with oil and have a light crispy coating.

Tempura Zucchini | Veg-am

All in all, I’d say sushi and tempura night was a success. ¬†Some of it worked perfectly. ¬†Some of it, I figured out better ways to do it next time. ¬†All of it tasted delicious.

I shared with my mom again. ¬†She said she’s starting to feel spoiled with all the good Vegan MoFo eats. ¬†I told her not to get used to it. ūüėČ



Cookbook Challenge Week 2: Vegan with a Vengeance – Recipe #3 The Recipe: Parsnip-Scallion Pancakes

Warning: The following recipe could be addicting.

Cookbook Challenge Week 2: Vegan with a Vengeance – Recipe #3 The Recipe: Parsnip-Scallion Pancakes (p 90)

The Reasoning: I really like roasted parsnips and wanted to try them another way. I can imagine no way to make parsnips any better than adding scallions. I also rarely eat fried food and have just been wanting some.

The Substitutions: I replaced the all purpose flour with gf mix. You could probably use any kind of flour here, the mix was just handy.

The Process: I had a brain cramp today and used dishwasher detergent when handwashing my food processor. It says “not for handwashing” so I was a little afraid I wouldn’t get it all rinsed off without sending it through the dishwasher. All that to say, I shredded 4 cups of parsnips…by hand. They do not shred as easily as zucchini or other more watery vegetables. It was certainly do-able, but they were a lot more work than had I used the processor. My mixture was a little dry so I added the extra water as suggested. Overall the recipe was pretty easy to throw together.

The Review: Oh my gosh! Yes, they are greasy. Yes they were fantastic like that. I ground a little sea salt on top and they were even a step above that. In classic southern girl style, my immediate thought for something greasy and salty? Ketchup! This was one time where that wasn’t the answer. The delicate taste of the parsnips was best enjoyed unadulterated. They wont be a weekly staple for me just because of the high fat content, but they are a definite standby for when I want something fried. They might even take place of the bi-weekly fast food french fries. At least I ate them with a salad. Right?

Points information – 4 pancakes=7 points (and worth every one of them!)
This is not figured or endorsed by Weight Watchers. I figured the points value myself using an online point calculator.


Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: