Monthly Archives: September 2012

Apple Streusel Cake

Sunday, after some grocery shopping, a five mile run, an ab workout and some cleaning, I spent the afternoon in the kitchen. The analytical side of my brain loves baking, it’s like an experiment. Baking is really the only time that I follow a recipe, it’s all about proportions, and if you mess those up you can end up with a disaster.  Sometimes I get an idea in my head and can’t find an already existing recipe in my cookbooks or on the internet. If I can find a solid recipe to use as a jumping off point, then the wheels start churning in my brain, swap this for that, change this, increase that, and voila!

Since we have 7 lbs of apples that we picked, I wanted to make a vegan apple cake, loaded with apples and a streusel topping, I wanted a layer of apples to cover the entire top, like an apple upside-down cake, but I also wanted apples in the batter, and I wanted a cinnamony-sugary-crumbly topping. I wanted it to be whole wheat, flavorful and moist and trick people into thinking it had sour cream or egg yolks or something like that in it. Maybe I’m crazy.

Maybe I shouldn’t have cleaned before I baked, I made a mess and had to re-clean the floor and counter. But it was worth the extra cleaning, this cake is awesome. It was what I had in my head… The analytical side of my brain is very pleased with itself.

I also made butternut squash soup, and roasted the squash while the cake baked away in the oven… conserving energy! Ahh, the return of Soup Sundays!

Apple Streusel Cake

Streusel:
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup of corn meal
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vegan butter, softened, such as earth balance
1/2 cup of oats
2 tablespoons vegan vanilla yogurt, such as Whole Soy Co Vanilla Yogurt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
 
Cake:
1/2 cup vegan butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup vegan vanilla yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup of corn meal
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
3 apples peeled and cored. 1 diced and 2 sliced thinly
 

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 9X9 or 8X12 pan and lightly dust with flour. In a small bowl, combine all the streusel ingredients and set aside.

For the cake: In a large bowl, combine the butter, sugar, applesauce, yogurt and vanilla extract with a wooden spoon. Then add in the flour, corn meal, baking soda, baking powder and vinegar, stir to combine.

Peel and core the apples. Dice one up and leave the other 2 in ¼ inch slices. Stir the diced apple into the cake batter. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Place the apple slices in a single layer over the batter, overlapping the slices slightly. Dot the streusel over the top of the apple layer, allowing the apple layer to peak through. Place in the oven and bake for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

end photo montage… cake flavors marry together the longer they sit, so it tastes better the next day, warmed back up in the oven or microwave.
 

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Falafel Stuffed Eggplant

 

I said last post that I had big plans for the farmer’s market haul I got last week… And I did. One night we had pasta with “creamy” pumpkin sauce and roasted delicata squash. Another night we had quinoa stuffed pattypan squash. And a third we had falafel stuffed eggplant. Mark asked if it was a mix from the store (code for “it tasted authentic”) and nope, I whipped it up in my food processor.

I also made Baked Chili Cheese Fries for the Pats game last weekend, recipe courtesy of Joy the Baker… and they were delicious. (Did you know Cabot Cheese is lactose free? I didn’t)

This week was interesting at work… I’m still riding the steep learning curve of a new job  and a new computer system. It’s a little overwhelming and it doesn’t help that my supervisor is not the nicest human on the planet. It’s all making me a better person, right? But the rest of my co-workers have been super nice!

Today, after I rode my bike to the Farmer’s Market (15 miles round trip), through gale force winds, Mark and I had a date day. We  picked apples at Shelburne Orchards and noshed on apple cider donuts, just beating the rain. The Orchard has views of Lake Champlain, so pretty! After purchasing 7 pounds of apples, 3 cider donuts and a pumpkin, we headed on over to Shelburne Vineyards for a tasting. Though they were a great little vineyard, we quickly realized that spending 4 years in Finger Lakes Wine Country has made us wine snobs. I MISS GENEVA!

I’m planning some apple treats with those 7 pounds of apples.

On to falafel, this recipe is adapted from Cooking Light Magazine. The pictures didn’t come out too well, with the sun setting earlier and earlier, it’s been hard to find good lighting in our apartment. The fact that the house was built in 1900, means there is a lack of overhead lighting.

Falafel Stuffed Eggplant

1 eggplant
Cooking spray
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs ( I ground up Stacy’s Italian herb pita chips, you could use gluten free crackers to make it gluten free)
1 tablespoon tahini (roasted sesame seed paste)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup egg substitute
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 can no-salt-added chickpeas, rinsed and drained

Toppings

Chopped tomatoes
Sliced scallions
Lemon wedges

Preheat the oven to 475°F. Slice the eggplants in half lengthwise and score the cut sides with a crosshatch pattern. Place the eggplant halves, cut sides down, on a baking sheet lined with foil and coated with cooking spray. Bake for 8 minutes or until slightly tender and browned. Remove from oven; carefully scoop out pulp, leaving a 3/4-inch shell. I used the pulp in the couscous I prepared to go with the eggplant.

Combine onion, through chickpeas in a food processor and blend until smooth. Divide the mixture evenly between the two eggplant shells. Bake at 475° for 25 minutes or until eggplant halves are tender and chickpea mixture is lightly browned. Remove from the oven and top with tomatoes, scallions and a squeeze of lemon.

I served mine with couscous that had the same spices as the chickpeas, scallions, and the left over eggplant pulp that was scooped out.

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Coconut Pumpkin Bars

Mark had a business trip this week, which meant I was on my own for 2 nights… I’ve never really lived alone, so the idea of being home alone at night still kinda creeps me out. But, I had to put on my big girl pants and be brave. After all, we are adults now, with full time jobs, and business trips, and bills, and all that real life stuff. It was weird to cook for just myself… one night I just ate roasted Brussels sprouts (with dried cranberries, a mustard glaze, and a balsamic reduction). Luckily, Mark’s next business trip isn’t until January.

Today, I rode my bike (15 miles round trip) to the farmers market with $13 in my pocket. I got quite the haul and I have big plans for dinner this coming week.

I confessed my pumpkin re-obsession last post and promised these coconut pumpkin bars… so here they are… they disappeared quickly, most were shoved secretly into our mouths, over the sink, when we though the other wasn’t looking.  Some were enjoyed on a plate with a cup of coffee. Luckily, each slice has only 128 calories and is vegan.

Coconut Pumpkin Bars

1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spices

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1 cup of shredded coconut

1 cup of pumpkin pure

3/4 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup of oil

1/3 cup of water

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 8×8 inch pan, and line it with parchment paper, for easy removal. In a small bowl, combine the flour, spices, baking soda and coconut. In a medium sized bowl, cream together pumpkin, sugar, vinegar, oil and water. Then add the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth it out. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, remove from the pan and cool completely on the wire rack. Slice into 16 slices and enjoy with coffee or as a snack.

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Pumpkin Pie Breakfast Smoothie

My runs have been cold the past few morings, the leaves are starting to change, it is starting to smell like fall and I’ll take any excuse to bust out the pumpkin! I might have been obsessed last year, but I can feel that this year will bring it to a whole new level. I brought out the fall centerpiece for our table and the apple pie candle.

One case of Shipyard Pumpkinhead has already been consumed.

Coconut Pumpkin Bars have been made (more to come in the next post)

Pumpkin Pancakes have been eaten

And every morning for the past week and a half I have eaten a Pumpkin Pie Breakfast Smoothie

It packs 18 grams of protein, 10 grams of fiber and 290 calories… keeping you full and satisfied until lunch.

On a side note, I started training for a new full time job last week at KeyBank. It was hard to leave Green Mountain Coffee, but after weighing the pros and cons, even though Key is not my ideal job, it makes more sense regarding job security, benefits and pay. And it’s only for a year… it’ll motivate me that much more to get into grad school next fall at UVM (fingers crossed). GRE study books: get ready to be dusted off and poured over.

Linking this back to pumpkin, this breakfast smoothie is supper great for those busy morning before work/school, you prepare it the night before, then in the morning give it a whirl in the food processor or blender with half a frozen banana and voila… breakfast is ready.

A little note on the protein powder…I like to use Nutiva Organic Hemp Protein. It has 15 g of protein and 8 grams of fiber in a 3 tablespoon serving and it only has 1 ingredient: ground hemp seeds. Hemp protein is an “easily digestible, high quality plant protein with branched-chain amino acids that are vital for good heath”, boasts the packaging. It is also contains magnesium, iron, zinc and 8 essential amino acids. I like the Hemp Protein 15g because it has a higher protein content and it is ideal for dissolving in smoothies. Let’s be honest, some protein powders are chalky and loaded with weird ingredients you can’t pronounce… not to mention most soy based protein powders are processed with hexane, which is a petroleum solvent similar to gasoline. (Nutiva is not). (I am not endorsing Nutiva, I just happen to really like it)

Pumpkin Pie Breakfast Smoothie

1/4 oats

1/4 cup pumpkin

2/3 cup kefir

2 teaspoons maple syrup

dash of cinnamon

dash of pumpkin pie spice

1 1/2 tablespoons of hemp protein (or whatever you like)

1/2 a frozen banana

Combine all ingredients except for banana, and place in fridge overnight. In the morning, blend the mixture in a blender or food processor with the banana until smooth, about 30 seconds.

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Spicy Kebabs over Farro Salad

Summer is starting to wind down… I woke up this morning and it was COLD. Nights of leaving the windows wide open might soon be put on hiatus. One might think that would mean that grilling should start to wind down as well, but I love grilling into the fall (and winter). I’ve been known to grill in knee deep snow.

We are at that time in the year when summer veggies are still around but fall veggies are starting to emerge as well. It’s the best time of year for a veggie lover like me!

These kebabs are smothered in a spicy, creamy, belly warming sauce that bridges the gap between summer and fall foods. I served it over a hearty yet light farro salad.

Spicy Kebabs

makes 6 kebabs

1 bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 medium onion, cut into 1 inch pieces

4-6 large white button mushrooms, sliced 1/3 inch thick, and cut in half to keep them similar in size to the other veggies

2 zucchini, sliced 1/3 inch thick

4 tablespoons of spicy hummus, I used Cedars Spicy Pepper

4 tablespoons of kefir, Greek yogurt sour cream (use non-dairy if you like, if using yogurt or sour cream you might need a tablespoon or 2 of water to thin it out)

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 hot cherry pepper, minced super fine

1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes

Black pepper to taste

6 kebab skewers, I used bamboo

First soak the skewers in water for at least an hour, but preferably longer, so they don’t catch on fire

Preheat your grill. Slice up the veggies and place them on the skewers, I put mine on in a repeating pattern.

In a large shallow dish, combine the remaining ingredients with a whisk, add a bit of water if it’s too thick. Then roll the kebabs in the marinade. Place the kebabs on the grill, 2-4 minutes on each side.

Farro Salad

1/2 cup of farro

1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes

1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved

2 cups of spinach, shredded

1/4 cup of fresh basil, chifonaded

2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

1/2 tablespoon of olive oil

Black pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning

Preheat the oven to 350.  Line an 8×8 pan with foil. Place the tomatoes halves in the pan and top with the balsamic, oil, pepper, and Italian seasoning, toss to coat and place in the oven. Turn them occasionally and bake for about 20 minutes.

Then bring a pot of water to a boil, then add in the the red pepper flakes. Once boiling, add in farro and cook for 20-25 minutes or until al denete. Place the spinach in the bottom of a colander. Pour the farro into the colander and the hot water will wilt the spinach. In a large bowl, combine fresh basil, tomatoes (making sure to scrape all the yummy goodness from the tinfoil into the bowl), farro and spinach. Add in more black pepper or balsamic vinegar is you want.

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Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

I hope everyone had a restful 3 day weekend. Mark and I turned our weekend into a 4 day weekend and headed up to the infamous “red camp” in the north woods of Maine. Red Camp is Mark’s family’s lakeside cabin. We hung out with a few friends from college and Mark’s parents.

(source: Mark’s Dad)

We hiked, kayaked and lounged on the deck while drinking beers… sounds like a good weekend to me. Our big hike was up Little Spencer Mountain, and don’t let its name fool you…even though it’s 3,040 ft tall… the climb up was mostly scrambling up boulders and even up a 25 ft chimney (crevice). According to many Moosehead Lake Region Hiking Guides, it is one of the most difficult hikes in the region. The scrapes and bruises from the overgrown, steep trail were worth it for amazing views from the top… you can see the entire Moosehead Lake Region.

It was really hard to leave on Monday. I mean with views like this… who would want to.

Blue Moon Rising over Katadin

Katadin by day

There are certain foods that are camp foods… they need to survive the hour trip down logging roads, be cooked over an open fire and of course be delicious. At this point in the late summer, zucchinis are still coming out the wazoo and you might be sick of making loafs and loafs of zucchini bread. These chocolate zucchini muffins contain a whole zucchini but you can hardly tell. These flavorful muffins taste more like a brownie than a healthy zucchini and banana laden muffin, and did I mention that they are vegan and only have 100 calories each. These muffins are the perfect car snack for that long drive and defiantly a camp approved food.

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins 

makes 12 muffins 

1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 c unsweetened dark cocoa powder**

1 1/4 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1 ripe banana, mashed

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/2 cup almond or nondairy milk

1 zucchini, shredded and the excess water squeezed out

**I found this at the grocery store and I love it, you could use regular cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease you muffin tin or spray with cooking spray. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon together in a small bowl with a whisk. In a large bowl cream the apple sauce, banana and sugar. Then add in the zucchini. Add the dry ingredients a half cup at a time to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined… it should look like brownie batter. Spoon the mixture evenly into the prepared muffin tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes, a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean when done.

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