Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Overnight Apple Butter & Happy Holidays!

Please head over to my new blog at TheUrbanHousewife.com, where you'll find this post & more!

The holidays are officially here & some of us are still scrambling to find gifts or collect ingredients for the dish we want to impress family & friends with. Homemade gifts are a great way to show you care, not to mention they're environmentally friendly! I decided to try my hand at canning for the first time & opted to employ my crock pot to make Apple Butter for my friends & family. For those of you looking for a last minute gift, this may be the perfect match!

Overnight Apple Butter
4 1/2 lbs of apples, peeled, cored, & sliced (I used a mix of Granny Smith, Red Granny, Pink Lady, & Fuji)
1 cup Brown Sugar
1 cup Agave Nectar
1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tbsp Cinnamon
1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract (I love Nielsen Massey!)
1/4 tsp Cloves (optional)

In a crock pot, add your sliced apples, then the rest of your ingredients.Mix well to cover apples in the spices & liquids.

Cook on low for 8 hours, until apples are soft & fragrant.

Using an immersion blender, puree the mixture until smooth or desired texture.

Turn the crock pot to high, remove the lid, & allow the mixture to simmer until thickened & reduced. This can take anywhere from 1 1/2 to 3 hours, depending on your desired thickness.

A wooden spoon should be able to stand in the mixture & when you put a dollop on a plate, liquid should not seep out.

This yields 6 to 8 cups of apple butter & is perfect for half pint mason jars.

My holiday celebrations have already started with a weekend trip to Southern California to see Ryan's family. At Ryan's request I made, White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies. They turned out flatter than I'd hoped, but that didn't stop them from being devoured, especially by Ryan & his friend Josh. Once I acquire more white chocolate chips, I'll have to make these again with some adjustments.

For dinner I made a dish I have been loving lately, Chipotle Chili With Sweet Potatoes And Brussels Sprouts. The recipe originally appeared on Isa's blog over at the PPK, but I love it so much, she gave me permission to re-post it on Eat. Drink. Better. This is an excellent dish to share with those with a fear of vegan food, as it lacks processed vegan ingredients & substitutions. Just tell everyone you made sweet potato chili & watch people gobble it up!

I hope everyone has a happy holiday season, whatever they may be doing. I'm not sure I'll get another post in before the new year, but I am look forward to another year of blogging & reading about delicious vegan food throughout all the seasons!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Gluten Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Filling

Please head over to my new blog at TheUrbanHousewife.com, where you'll find this post & more!

It all started with a sweets swap & a few attendees with a gluten allergy. As vegans, we all know what it's like to be the one left without options, so I decided to try to remedy that for the gluten free folks & try my hand at baking for them. It was my first time baking gluten free & luckily, it turned out! Moist, cakey pumpkin cookies were produced & in the end I decided they were best suited for whoopie pies. There's a lack of assembly photos, but regardless of that I wanted to post these for Kittee because she rules at life! While I used a mix of White Chocolate Chip & Dark Chocolate Chips, you can use whatever you have on hand. These would also be great with some chopped nuts!

Gluten Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Whoopie Pies
2 1/2 cups Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Baking Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Xanthan Gum
1 Tbsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Allspice
A pinch of Salt

1/2 cup Earth Balance, melted
1 1/2 cups Sugar
1 1/4 cups Pumpkin Puree, canned or fresh
1 Tbsp Ener-G Egg Replacer mixed with 2 Tbsp Water
1 tsp Vanilla extract

2/3 cup Chocolate Chips (I used 1/3 cup white, 1/3 cup dark)
Optional: 1/4 cup Chopped Nuts of your choice

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees & prepare a sheet pan with a Silpat, parchment, or non-stick spray.

In a medium bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.

In a large bowl, mix together the wet ingredients.

Add the dry mixture to the wet, being careful not to overmix.

Fold in the chocolate chips & (optional) nuts.

On your prepared sheet pan make even scoops of your dough, leaving space for spreading. The dough will be soft & slightly tacky, so a small disher / scoop works well for this.

Bake at 350 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the edges are slightly browned.

Allow to cool completely before assembly.

Cream Cheese Filling
1/4 cup Earth Balance, softened
1/4 cup Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese, softened
2 cups Confectioners Sugar, sifted
1 tsp Vanilla extract

Beat together Earth Balance & Tofutti cream cheese until combined.

In small batches, add in the confectioners sugar until everything is smooth.

Beat in vanilla extract.

Take your cooled pumpkin cakes & pipe in or smooth on a large dollop of cream cheese filling, add another cake on top. Voilà, Whoopie Pies!

This recipe yields 12 to 16 whoopie pies, depending on your scoop size.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Farm Sanctuary FOR the Turkeys (with video) & a Sweets Swap!

Please head over to my new blog at TheUrbanHousewife.com, where you'll find this post & more!

Recently, friends & I attend the 9th annual FOR the Turkeys Celebration at Farm Sanctuary in Orland. It's always an amazing time being surrounded by like-minded people, but the best part is always the animals! It was a bright beautiful day, despite previous day being less than stellar. I had been looking forward to feeding turkeys ever since my last visit to the farm for the Hoe Down & I was not disappointed.

In addition to shelter time, we had a Thanksgiving inspired meal with hundreds of other animal lovers in the People Barn. Tofurkey & gravy, cranberry sauce, apple kale salad, & sweet potatoes, were just some of the dishes available, plus a choice of Apple or Pumpkin pie. I chose the apple & was very happy with my sweet selection!

The speakers included Gene Baur of Farm Sanctuary, Emily Deschanel of Bones, & Josh Hooten of Herbivore Clothing Company & Store in Portland, OR. I found myself especially inspired by Josh's talk on activism & it was the push I needed to stop resting on the laurels of Prop 2 passing & get back to action for the animals!

Lately, I've been having fun taking video at events, so I threw together a little segment on the day. This was shot with my little Canon Powershot & edited in Windows Movie Maker, so please bear with my amateur status. Enjoy!

This weekend we had the 2nd annual PPK Cookie Swap, although this time it included a few other sweets. I made a crazy layered dessert that was most recently called a "Peanut Butter Mousse, Custard, Whipped Cream, Chick-O-Stick, Brownie Trifle", so I'll roll with that. Yes, it was as insane & rich as it sounds! I also made an option for our gluten free attendees, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip, with both white & dark chips. They were very cakey & fluffy, not something I had expected for my 1st foray in to gluten free baking!

There were lots of treats to choose from like Crunchy Oat Cookies & Snickerdoodles from the Sisters Vegan, Fudge, Peanut Butter Cups, White Chocolate Macadamia cookies, Rum Balls, Caramel Popcorn Balls, Truffles, Butterscotch Oatmeal cookies sandwiched with Rum ice cream, Rice Krispie treats- oof! I have to stop, my tummy hurts all over again thinking about it! Needless to say, I consumed FAR too much & now find myself on a sugar detox. That being said, I'll always look forward to next year!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thanksgiving, an Interview, & Green Options.

Please head over to my new blog at TheUrbanHousewife.com, where you'll find this post & more!

It's been a whirlwind lately! From a quick trip to New York City, a Farm Sanctuary bash, Holiday baking, & starting a new writing job, I haven't had much time to write about mi vida loca! While the NYC posts will likely start next week, for now I have some other things to share with you.

Thanksgiving was a quiet one this year. I didn't want to fuss with a big bash, so a friend & I had a small vegan potluck for those not spending the day with their family. The dishes ranged from classic to extravagant, such as a Seitan & Chard roulade with Cashew Cream, Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Butternut Squash, Stuffing with dried cranberries, mushrooms, & celery, Cranberry sauce, Cornbread, Butternut Squash Risotto, & Potatoes Anna.

For dessert, I made an Apple Pie cake, which was also the seasonal Thanksgiving special I made for Sugar Beat Sweets. The cake was Vanilla with a Cinnamon swirl, filled with Spiced Organic Pink Lady & Fuji Apples, & topped with Vanilla Bean Buttercream & a Caramel drizzle. While the picture was taken so quickly, it doesn't do it justice, it was enjoyed & we managed to eat most of it, despite our full bellies.

Recently, I did an interview for Vegan Nutritionista for her series of interviews with "Famous Vegans". I'm honored to be included with the great people she's written about so far! We talked about two of my favorite subjects, baking & travel! Check it out at Vegan-Nutritionista.com.

Finally, as I mentioned, I took a new job as a writer for Green Options, a network of eco sites. I'll be writing about everything from food & fashion to activism & animal rights. You can check out what I've written so far on my profile, as well as subscribe to a feed of my posts HERE.

One blog I plan to write a lot for is Eat. Drink. Better. which deals with sustainable food news & recipes, but I need your help! Posts like "Beyond Pie; 10 Savory Pumpkin Recipes" aren't possible without other veg bloggers & recipes. We need to show mainstream eco sites that vegan food is the right choice for the planet & it's easy, approachable, & delicious! Hopefully each of you will show support for the site & offer use of your recipes, so I can republish them with credit & in turn drive traffic to your blogs as well!

Let's get the word out about veganism to the eco set! Subscribe to my feed for future posts & don't forget to check out what I've written so far. Thank you for your support!