Monday, October 31, 2011

Vegan Sugar Cookie Apple Pie

This weekend the weather was cool and crisp and it put me in the mood for pie.

Apple pie to be exact.

I decided I would change it up a little and make individual pies with a sugar cookie crust.

I made my cookie cups first and then topped them with cooked apples.

For the apples

5 apples cored and chopped (I leave the skins on for texture)
2 Tbsp Earth Balance
1/4 C brown sugar
dash of cinnamon

Melt the Earth Balance and then add your apples, brown sugar, and a dash of cinnamon (how much you like cinnamon will determine how much of a "dash" you put in).

The apples should cook for several minutes over medium heat until tender (but not mushy).

Sugar Cookie Cups

1/2 C Earth Balance (which is 1 stick)
1/3 C crisco
3/4 C sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 small very ripe banana
1 tsp vanilla
2 C all purpose unbleached flour

Cream your Earth Balance and shortening together then add the remaining ingredients.  Mix until everything is smooth and incorporated.

The banana takes the place of an egg, but doesn't add any banana flavor to the recipe.

Chill your dough for at least 30 minutes. Chilling the dough makes it easier to work with and less sticky.

To make the cups I used a muffin pan.

Take a spoonful of your chilled dough and put in the bottom of your pan.  Flatten it out so that the dough is even. 

Next take a small portion of dough and roll it into a thin rope.  Press the rope around the sides of the muffin pan.

You will repeat this process for each cup, I was able to make 12 cups with the recipe above.

Cook at 375 degrees for 8-11 minutes.

Allow your cups to cool for 5 minutes before removing them from the muffin tin. 

You can either allow them to cool completely on a rack or top them with apples and serve immediately.

Now here in the South dessert just isn't complete unless it is a la, I topped the pies with this:

I haven't tried dairy free ice cream because I really just don't eat that much ice cream.  However SO Delicious was a nice smooth ice cream which was kid approved. 

This added a nice cool cream to the pie.

This second picture is what happens if you bring your 2 year old out with you to take the picture and she grabs the fork for her "taste."  Caroline ended up consuming the whole pie.

Did you know that the first apple pie recipe was written in 1381 by Geoffrey Chaucer?  I thought that was a fun little food fact.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Visit to the Dairy

I was asked by my friend Pamela if I wanted to go with her, and some friends, to Homeland Creamery.

Homeland Creamery is a local dairy out of Julian, NC.  They use organic practices, but don't obtain the government seal of organic because they would have to leave their land untouched for 7 years.  That would be pretty hard for them to do since they grow all of the food they feed their cows (just to ensure that nothing has been sprayed on it).

We started our adventure with a fun, but VERY chilly, hayride around the farm.

As you can see by the plethora of blankets that we were chilled.  Pamela and her youngest daughter are a great example of how body heat provided a nice additional way to warm up.

We were showed the various pastures where they keep their milk, pregnant, "teenager" (ages 6-12 months), and 2 year old cows.  In total there are 400 that is a lot.

We learned that the average life a milking cow is 16-18 years.  After their milk wanes they are sent to a beef farm for slaughter.  Apparently the dairy cow makes a better steak because it is a leaner meat.

It doesn't matter to me, I am still not going to eat them.  Owen when he heard they were slaughtered for meat thought about giving up on meat altogether...I think it made him sad to connect a face to his meal.

The saddest fact I took from the tour was that a week after birth male babies are sold to beef farms.  I realize they don't produce milk, and are thus not an asset to a dairy farm, but I feel very bad for them never getting to bond with their mother.

Upon the end of our ride we saw a baby calf, who the children were able to bottle feed if they wanted.

The calves have to be bottle fed because they aren't allowed to nurse from their mothers.  Instead they are given formula so that the mother's milk can be stored for people...something just seems backwards to me.

The last part of the tour was a stop in the milk parlor.  It was a little scary looking.

We ended our day with some ice cream, cake batter flavor.  No matter how cold they were the kids were shaking and shivering, but they ate every last bit of the ice cream cup they had.

My children all thanked me for taking them on this field trip.  I think they were truly excited to see how a dairy farm works and to see where their milk comes there was ice cream.

Thanks Pamela for asking me if wanted to come.  It was a great experience to share.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Veganized Butternut Squash Soup and Cornbread

Yesterday I posted pics of my dinner, butternut squash soup and cornbread.

As promised I am providing to you the recipes I used.

Vegan Cornbread

1 C cornmeal
1 C all purpose unbleached flour
2/3 C sugar
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/3 C vegetable oil
1/2 C non-dairy milk (preferably vanilla flavored for sweeter taste)
1/2 C water

Combine all of these ingredients together and pour into an 8x8 greased dish.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes (or until the edges are brown).

This cornbread is delicious, sweet, and moist.  It tastes particularly good crumbled up on the butternut squash soup.

Butternut Squash Soup

6 Tbsp chopped onion
4 Tbsp Earth Balance
6 C peeled and cubed butternut squash
3 C water
1 Tbsp Better then Boullion vegetable base
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 tsp black pepper
16 oz vegan cream cheese

In a large skillet with high sides (or a large pot) saute your onions in Earth Balance until they are tender. 

Add squash, water, vegetable base, marjoram,  and pepper.  Bring this to a boil and allow to cook for 20 minutes (until squash is tender).

Take your squash mixture and your cream cheese (in small batches) and cream in food processor till smooth.

Return the soup to your pan and heat not allow the soup to return to a boil.

This was a wonderful soup.  I was quite timid to try it but thanks to my husband I gave it a whirl and was pleasantly surprised. 

I will say that it was very rich and a small portion is really in order but the flavor is just phenomenal.

Do you have any meals/recipes that you pleasantly surprised with?

One final thing.  I know Halloween isn't here yet, but have you thought about joining the 2011 Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap?  If you haven't head over to Love and Olive Oil and take a look.  I LOVE cookies and would love for fellow bloggers to be included so we can all score some sweet treats.

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

WIAW #12 With a Cup of Water

So last week I was too lazy unsure of how many What I Ate Wednesday's I have participated in.  I am happy to say that this week I am a lot less lazy motivated enough to find out that the number is 12 (counting this week).

A quick shout out to our host Jenn over at Peas and Crayons who has been hooking up this party for 40 about stamina. 

Lately my breakfast has been a little unconventional.  Typically (at least in the blogosphere) you will find that people consume high amounts of oats and smoothies for breakfast.

I like oatmeal most days, but the days have to be cold.  Here in North Carolina it just hasn't gotten cold enough for me to remotely crave oats (and I am not down with oats in a jar).

So for me I like to have several sticks of celery with a small schmear of peanut butter followed by a glass cup of water.

For snack I have been enjoying the, now in season, pear which are so soft and sweet...followed by another cup of water.

Lunch really depends on the mood.  It might be leftovers or it might be that my wonderful husband has taken me out to lunch...YEAH!  We went to Moe's and I got a burrito with tofu, seriously how exciting is it to see tofu at a semi-fast food restaurant?  Well if you are me super exciting.

I forgot to take my camera so this pic which I snagged from Google Images, is going to have to do.  I had the Joey Bag of Donuts with tofu, black beans, rice, lettuce, corn, and jalapenos (the spice was kickin). 

Accompanying my burrito was a cup of water (you will notice a theme throughout).

For dinner we had butternut squash soup. 

I was very timid when it came to trying this out as I generally do not like creamy soups, but since my wonderful husband wanted it I made it with some cornbread on the side and a cup of water to drink.

As I don't want to bog down this voyeuristic show into my eats with recipes I will provide the soup and cornbread recipe tomorrow so to keep with the true spirit of WIAW.

I hope you enjoyed my eats, I want you will come back tomorrow for my recipes, and I hope you will head over to Peas and Crayons and see what everyone else had to eat.  Inspiration is everywhere.

So what did you eat that you would like to share?

Social Awareness Update:
I’m helping to raise awareness about the importance of Fair Trade practices! Please take a moment to learn more at and”

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hugh Jass Salad and Cookies

It may seem a little contradictory to have a salad followed by a cookie.

However in my mind I can eat the cookie because I was good and had a salad.

The salad I ate was one hugh jass salad.

One that could not be contained by a normal bowl I had to upgrade to a bowl that normally holds popcorn for movies.

In my salad was:

1 head of romaine chopped
1 C fresh spinach chopped
1 C fresh broccoli chopped
1 oz New York sharp cheese diced
1/2 C Fantastic World Foods taco filling
a splash of Italian dressing
3 Tbsp hemp hearts from Manitoba Harvest

I shared a portion of this goodness with Andrew (who commandeered my salad this weekend...seriously took the bowl from me and then consumed about 1/3 of what was in it).

The vegetables all came from my CSA share and the taco filling was a great find at Lowe's Foods.

Lowe's has a section that has reduced grocery items (often lots of organic items end up here...I guess people just aren't buying them but that turns out to be good for me) and can help making eating healthy food a little cheaper.  You should check and see if your local grocer offers something like this.

After my consumption of veggies it was time for one of these:

I am sure you recognize these as the ever popular Nestle Toll House chocolate chip cookie.

What you wouldn't be able to tell is that they were veganized...WOOHOO!

I simply swapped the butter for Earth Balance and the eggs for flax eggs.

Simple changes equal healthier cookies.

After having been to Costco to pick up these

I will be able to make LOTS of cookies !!!

I hope you all are having a happy Tuesday. 

It is unseasonably warm here in North Carolina, supposed to be 70 today.  How is the weather in your neck of the woods? 

In case you don't have it here is the Nestle Recipe:

2 1/4 C all purpose
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 C Earth Balance softened
3/4 C sugar
3/4 C brown sugar (packed)
1 tsp vanilla
2 flax eggs (2 Tbsp ground flax and 6 Tbsp water) *
2 C chocolate chips

*mix the flax and water and allow to sit and thicken

Combine everything and spoon out batter onto cookie sheets.

Bake at 375 degrees for 9-11 minutes per batch.

Monday, October 24, 2011

479 Popcorn Review

Gucci, Prada, Coach, 479 Popcorn


It wasn't the SAT, I was listing designer brands.

In case you haven't heard 479 is designer when it comes to popcorn.

479 refers to the number of degrees for popping the perfect corn.  They have a light and airy popcorn that can not be rivaled easily (no Redenbacher is even close).

I had the pleasure of receiving a sampler box from 479 to try out (titled "The Sweet Tooth").

The box came with 5 flavors: 

Fleur de Sel Caramel
Ginger Sesame Caramel
Chipotle Caramel and Almonds
Black Truffle and White Cheddar
Vietnamese Cinnamon Sugar

Right off the bat I will tell you I did not like the black truffle and white cheddar.  I suppose I do not have a sophisticated enough palate but I do not enjoy the truffle oil.

The other flavors however were delicious and loved by all members of the family.

Each child claimed a box for themselves after I had my taste of each.

My favorite, fleur de sel caramel (I love that it rhymes) was delicious.  The buttery caramel and light flaky salt was a great combination.  My 9 year old, Owen, took this one.

Ginger sesame has a nice zing to it with delicious sweet caramel.  My 4 year old, Andrew, had this one.

Chipotle caramel and almond was Caroline's favorite.  This really shocked me that a 2 year old would like something spicy (and believe me it had a nice kick to it).

This left the box of Vietnamese cinnamon sugar for me...and I could not have been more happy.  I nice light, not overly sweet, snack.

These boxes are perfect for gifts OR just to have for yourself when you want to give yourself something nice (and really aren't we all worth it).

There are other packs to choose from (The Purist, The Foodie, and The Globetrotter) as well as pop your own kits.

Oh and did I mention that it is organic?  It is!

479 provides the best ingredients and only puts the best out there.

Do you have a favorite flavor of popcorn?

I hope you have an enjoyable Monday!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Guest Post: How to Make Healthy Easy

Today I am bringing you a guest post from James from the Blog Content Guild.  He has whipped up some great tips on how to make eating healthy easy and not take up all of your time.

At my house one way to make healthy eating easier, for me, is to engage my children in preparation of the meals.  Most recently Andrew, who is 4, snapped a huge bag of green beans that went into a stir fry and a soup we were making.

Without further ado....James:

How to Start Eating Healthy Meals Easily

Unhealthy meals often taste a lot better than healthy meals. Re-adjusting your palate to nutritious food can be a challenge sometimes. The good news is that not all healthy foods are bland. There are ways to eat right and not sacrifice your love of delicious food. Eating healthy doesn’t mean that you have to spend extra hours in the kitchen cooking or extra time learning how to cook better. You just need to tweak a few things about the way you eat. Here’s what you can do:

A) Keep Your Meals Balanced

Try to include all the food groups in each of your meals. This means you should eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, protein, dairy products, and whole grains.

For example, if you like steak and fries, you can turn this relatively unhealthy meal into a healthy one by making a few adjustments. Cut the steak in half and share it with someone else. Instead of fries, make some enriched whole-wheat pasta and green beans. It’s pretty easy to make nutritious green beans taste good. Just cook them in a pan with some clove garlic, parsley, shallots, black pepper, olive oil, and salt. These seasonings will help bring out the flavor of the steak as well. 

B) Be Cognizant of Portions

Many of us tend to overeat simply because our plates are too big. Overeating, unfortunately, isn’t healthy or good for our waistlines. So, buy some smaller plates for when you’re eating at home. When you’re at a restaurant, take a good look at the platter in front of you before you start eating. If it’s large, only eat half of the meal and save the rest for lunch the next day. In addition to paying attention to plate sizes, you should also pay attention to the speed at which you eat. If you eat quickly, you probably consume more food than someone who eats slowly. You need to give your stomach some time to catch up to your mouth. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, you are able to eat a smaller amount of food and still feel full, if you eat slowly and take your time when you chew.

C) Brush the Dust Off Your Stovetop

Start cooking at home and start eating healthier. At home you’re able to serve yourself the right portions and ensure that the food you’re eating isn’t smothered in butter or completely covered in salt. You’ll know exactly what you’re eating. If you aren’t much of a chef, you can look up some online recipes to meals that are quick and easy to cook. Try dishes you’ve never had before, and make your meals colorful with different kinds of veggies. The more colorful a vegetable is, the more nutrients it typically contains.

Include a variety of different kinds of food products in your diet, buy some smaller plates, and start using those recipe books your great aunt has been giving you for Christmas every year. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be a chore! 

Thank you James for your contribution!!!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Four Years Ago Today

Four years ago today my grandmother was taken off of life support and allowed to go on to the next phase of life. 

It was an extremely sad day, but one that brought a little relief. 

You see she had open heart surgery on October 9th and through some complications lost a lot of blood that ultimately left her brain dead. 

The doctors kept her on life support while they determined if recovery was possible, in the end it was not.

A very sad day for my grandfather as he bid her farewell, only to join her a year later on December 2, 2008 (5 days before their anniversary...I think he knew he had to be there with her).

I think about them often and when I saw this cloud formation in the sky I snapped a pic because it look just like an opening to Heaven, at least to me. 

One day I know I will see them again.

I love you Nana. 

You continue to be my cooking and baking inspiration.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

WIAW post # ???

Well I am not quite sure how many What I Ate Wednesday's I have participated in, but I am here again this Wednesday to link up with Jenn over at Peas and Crayons.

Today I am presenting to you the eats I will consume today.

I know, I know a novel idea to actually show you what I ate on a Wednesday (typically it is Tuesday that I show you).

On to the eats!!!

Breakfast today was a bottle of water (not photographed) and a Pure apple cinnamon bar.

A quick sidebar on these.  They are delicious, organic, vegan, and raw (Yeah Baby...think Austin Powers as I type this).

They have a chocolate brownie that is TO DIE for.

For lunch I had leftover stir fry that I made for the fam as we have an abundance of veggies chilling in my fridge:

Both of my boys declared this the best thing they have ever eaten.  Just goes to show that healthy can be yummy and not the least bit boring (all of the textures and flavors made a party in my mouth).

For dinner it will be either a ratatouille burger (whose recipe I shared here)

Or I am going to have vegetable soup (heavy on the tomatoes) that the muscles of my house put together:

Choices are good to have.

Well I must go and head over to Jenn's to see what everyone else is eating.  I am always filled with inspiration after I see what people are eating.

Have a Happy Wednesday