Cranberry Apple Crisp

Fall seems to have finally unpacked her bags and made herself at home here in New York, after weeks and months of t-shirt weather interspersed with a random, single chilly day. So when fall-inspired desserts were popping up on many a food blog, my mind was still craving ice cream and summery things. But now I’ve caught up, and fall is on my mind.

I don’t know about everyone else, but my body is still adjusting to this shorter days thing, though I’ve always had a bit of a slow internal adjustment system. While websites informed me that jet lag was no more than a few day occurrence, I went two weeks after our Spain trip feeling tired and slightly “off.” Of course, that could have been the aftermath of the virtual triathalon that was my bar taking (and studying), wedding planning (and getting married), and then my honeymoon. But I have nothing to blame my tiredness and lack of energy on this time around — nothing except my system, that is.

It was in my foggy, sleepy, post dark-at-4 p.m. state that I contemplated cranberry muffins. Then I thought about an apple pie. But there was something exhausting about just thinking about tedious measuring, precise baking times, and the always-sensitive nature of gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan baked goods that had me reconsidering my dessert options. Logically, I settled on a crisp — one of those dessert items that lends itself to some imprecision; it can be dressed down and put together lazily, but still manage to taste great.

I hope you all enjoy this easy, simply fall dessert as much as I did.

Cranberry Apple Filling:

2 cups fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked through

3 medium-sized Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced

3 tablespoons orange juice (fresh squeezed or not)

1 tablespoon Sweetleaf stevia powder

1 tablesspoon cornstarch or arrowroot starch

Crisp Topping:

6 tablespoons Bob’s Red Mill almond flour

6 tablespoons brown rice flour

4 tablespoons Earth Balance Buttery Spread, cold and tightly packed

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons Sweetleaf stevia powder (depending on desired sweetness)

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Prepare filling: toss together all ingredients for filling and turn out into a 9″ deep-dish pie pan or other, similar-sized baking dish. Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, add all ingredients for crisp topping. Break buttery spread into mixture with fingers until small pieces form and are evenly distrubuted throughout the topping. Sprinkle evenly over filling.

4. Bake crisp in preheated oven for 35-45 minutes, or until filling is bubbly around the edges and top is slightly browned. Remove from oven and let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

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Butternut Squash Lasagna

This will be my first Thanksgiving sans turkey. And while I’m not exactly sad about it, it did get me thinking about ideas for how to create a delicious vegetarian Thanksgiving. My family has always taken a pretty traditional approach to Thanksgiving. We’ve never been a sage-in-the stuffing, skin-on “smashed” potatoes kind of crew. But I’ve always appreciated a good Thanksgiving-inspired recipe that colors outside the lines a little.

I also recently noticed that the ubiquitous fall ingredient — butternut squash — has been noticeably absent around these parts. My friend Liz sent me a great recipe for butternut squash soup with a curried apple chutney. But every time I had the squash, I didn’t have apples. When I had apples, I had no squash. When I had vegetable stock, I had neither squash nor apples. Then today, I found myself with squash, lasagna noodles, some Daiya cheese (I know, it’s about time I seek help for my affinity for fake cheese), and all the ingredients I needed for my pine nut ricotta. I’m sure you can figure out where this is leading. And while my family will likely be celebrating Thanksgiving with the expected mashed potatoes and stuffing, I’m thinking this will make a great vegan side for a large, adventurous group, or even a main course for a small family.

This Thanksgiving, I will be SO THANKFUL for passing the NY Bar Exam!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I figure it’s only fair to share my joy here, where I’ve also lamented for months about my stress, anxiety, sleepless nights and endless studying. Thanks, all, for your support and well-wishes during a trying but ultimately rewarding time.

Butternut Squash Lasagna:

3/4 cup raw pinenuts, soaked for 4 hours, drained and rinsed

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon water

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 box Tinkyada gluten-free brown rice noodles

4 cups butternut squash, peeled and diced (about 18 oz.)

3 tablespoons sage leaves, roughly chopped

1 cup Daiya vegan mozzarella, plus more for top

Directions:

1. Prepare filling: in a blender or food processor, add soaked pine nuts, lemon juice, water and salt. Blend until smooth. Set aside (keep in food processor).

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of hot water to a boil. Add butternut squash and boil for about 4 minutes. Remove from pot (leave hot water for noodles) and drain. Add lasagna noodles and cook according to package directions, undercooking by a few minutes. Drain and rinse.

3. Preheat oven to 350. Rinse squash with cold water and add squash to food processor. Process until squash pieces are small and mixture is relatively smooth. Stir in sage leaves.

4. Assemble lasagna: add a layer of 3 noodles flat to the bottom of a baking dish. Spread about 3/4 of the squash-ricotta mixture evenly over the noodles and sprinkle 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup cheese over the squash mixture. Repeat 2x. Place remaining noodles on top and sprinkle with additional cheese.

5. Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake, uncovered for an additional 10 minutes.

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Key Lime Cheesecake

When I was younger, I was the girl who listened to exclusively broadway musicals, who didn’t have cable, and who read books like Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights at the age of 10. So, when a friend invited me to a Bare Naked Ladies concert with her (yes, I still managed to have at least some friends), I was surprised to find out that, not only were these “ladies” not at all naked, but that they were actually men.

I guess you could call this recipe the Bare Naked Ladies of key lime cheesecakes. Not only did I not use key limes (just the normal, everyday variety), but I also didn’t use any cheese. Or cheese substitute. And Gennaro was a little thrown off by my initial cheesecake description because he said the texture is somewhere between a key lime pie and a cheesecake. But what was I going to call this, Regular Lime Cheesecake-Like Tofu Thing? Key lime cheesecake was much more simple.

In my last post I mentioned my never-ending (and never accomplished) to-do list. In addition to that, I could have mentioned snaping photos at the Union Square Greenmarket, which wouldn’t exactly be fair, because it has become more of a hobby ( an escape from the to-dos in my life) than anything else. Some of my prints are available on smugmug (I also provided a link in my sidebar). I went to a local art supply store yesterday, which, incidentally, was filled with NYU art students and made me realize that in my next life, I want to be an artist. Anyways, I found out that you can purchase some pretty cheap 8×10″ mattes that fit 5×7 photos. Once my prints were matted, I slipped them into some clear, 8.5×11.25″ clear slips and sealed them (also available at art supply stores or paper supply stores). Before I knew it, I had some professional-looking photos, and that was it for my Christmas shopping. It’s feeling like a homemade gift kind of year…

So, a final word on my Bare Naked Cheesecake. I’ve been working on a cheescake-ish dish for awhile. I discovered the recipe for the perfect crust, and have been tinkering with the filling ever since, which is where things have gotten tricky. You see, my crust calls for 1/2 cup of almond meal, and another 1/4 cup of Earth Balance. That’s 3/4 of a cup of fat-filled ingredients. They may be mostly good fats, but they’re calories nonetheless, which is why it was my goal to stay as low-fat as possible for the filling. While coconut oil and processed dairy-free cream cheese may have made excellent additions here, I went with agar flakes, which provide a firm texture without any added fat or calories. So while this might not taste or feel exactly like a “real” cheesecake (though I think the crust is as close a gluten-free, sugar-free substitute as you can get…) you can rest knowing it’s much, much better for you as well.

I’m also off agave (again) after this dessert, and I tried to go easy on it as it was. You could definitely up the sweetness if you wish, but as a serving suggestion, I recommend making the recupe as-is and drizzing some agave on the top to serve, for those who want it.

The Perfect Cheesecake Crust:

1 cup brown rice flour

1/2 cup Trader Joe’s Almond Meal (or similar brand)

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup Earth Balance Buttery Spread (cold; tightly packed)

2 tablespoons agave nectar

zest of one lime

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Add all ingredients to a food processor fitted with a sharp, steel blade. Process until the crust is the texture of damp sand. Turn out into a 9″ nonstick springform pan (you may need to pre-grease if not non-stick). Press evenly into the bottom of pan and slightly up the sides of the pan, using the bottom of a measuring cup. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until browned evenly along the edges. Let cool.

Lime Filling:

I used mango in the filling to add bulk and to enhance the tropical flavor. My mango was barely ripe, so it did not do much to change the texture or sweetness of the dish. The riper the mango you use, the more sweet and dark your cheesecake will likely turn out, and the more the mango flavor will come out (which is not necessarily a bad thing).

1/2 cup water

9 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice (requires about 2-3 limes, depending on size and juciness)

1 tablespoon agar-agar flakes

1 16-oz. package firm tofu

1 cup not-too-ripe mango, diced

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup agave nectar

zest of 1 lime

Directions:

1. In a small saucepan, bring water, lime juice and agar flakes to a boil. Whisk until agar is dissolved. Reduce to a simmer and, using fingers, crumble tofu into saucepan. Stir to combine and heat until tofu is heated through.

2. Pour ingredients from saucepan into a food processor fitted with a sharp, steel blade or a high-speed blender. Process until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and process again until smooth. Pour mixture over pre-baked crust and place in refrigerator. Refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours or up to 8 hours (the longer, the better, to enhance the flavor) before serving.

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Tahini-Carrot Soup

When I joined the ranks of the hundreds of thousands of unemployed law grads across the country, I had several expectations. I would, of course, be relentless in my job search. I would have time to work out several days a week, maybe even start a yoga routine. I would have time to test all the thousands of recipe ideas I wanted to test. I would be able to finally paint the bathroom, which had been stripped of its wallpaper well over two years ago (and which Gennaro once affectionately referrred to as “the crackhouse”). Once the bathroom was tackled, I could get started with the bedroom. And where would I start? The stain-ridden, wallpapered ceilings (yes, I said wallpapered ceilings…not to mention closets, shelves…)? The rest of the walls? The floor-to-ceiling wooden shades that are badly in need of a paint job themselves? Oh, and I could finish all my wedding thank-you notes. I could even volunteer somewhere — perhaps some pro bono work on the side?

In my mind, I was on course to becoming the most productive unemployed person that ever lived. But as you may have suspected, reality has robbed me of such lofty ambitions. The job search has yielded less-than-stellar prospects (is it possible to spend 4 hours a day searching every job site imaginable only to find maybe one entry-level attorney position?). The recipe-testing came with seemingly incessant kitchen cleaning and food shopping, which, of course, cut into my workout time. The thank-you notes are still not done. The bedroom? Hah, please…The bathroom was only just tackled last weekend. And there’s Woodley. He needs two long walks a day. Then there’s the weekly allergy shots (which I have been getting for 4 years now and somehow manage to continue on a weekly schedule. grrrrr), the daily errands and chores, the new health insurance, the joining of the bank accounts…all the little things I had somehow overlooked a few months back.

And no, I haven’t started volunteering anywhere, either. So when I found myself looking forward to a much needed vacation down to Miami to visit a friend this weekend, I couldn’t help but feel a bit ashamed. Do I really need a vacation from my “vacation”? And with that, I was also a bit distraught to realize that almost a week had passed since I made anything worth posting here. It’s been more like passable efforts, at best.

This all led me to my photo archives, where I found this carrot-tahini soup, and remembered how much I had enjoyed it months ago. So why was it never shared? Well, maybe it’s just me, but I sort of felt like I would be a fraud if I posted it — a recipe I copied almost exactly from one in the New York Times. Not that I wouldn’t, of course, give credit. And not that I don’t usually find inspiration from another recipe. And it’s not like sites I love — like Smitten Kitchen, for example — remake other people’s recipes all the time. But with this one, I didnt’ even try to change much of anything. And I had no step-by-step pictures like Smitten Kitchen, no compelling story for what this dish meant to me. Nothing new, really. Just a soup that I enjoyed. A lot.  

But isn’t there a place for this kind of sharing? A place for an endorsement of a great, naturally vegan and gluten-free meal? A place for a little “I substituted this and took out that and it was still very good”? Well, for this soup at least, I’ll make this place a place for all that. And by next week, hopefully I’ll have some good, original recipes perfected. Who knows, maybe I’ll even finish my thank-you notes. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves…

Carrot-Tahini Soup:

I made everything from the original recipe in the New York Times the same except: 1) I used a small, yellow onion instead of leeks, 2) I used cumin in place of the turmeric, and 3) I used raw tahini. I topped the soup with cilantro and some scallions and served it alongside some toasted, homemade focaccia, which I used in place of the pita chips.

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Warm Green Bean and Potato Salad

Over the last 3 1/2 years I’ve visited the Union Square Greenmarket probably hundreds of times, which means I’ve passed a certain artist on my way to the market almost as often. This artist is one among many stationed in Union Square, but I’ve always been especially drawn to his colorful, vibrant prints. To my mind, there are few things more beautiful than a big, billowy head of purple cauliflower, or ripe, deep-hued strawberries against a backdrop of tiny, perfect blueberries. So it’s no wonder I’ve often felt compelled to stop and take in the endless number of food photos at Ken Bondor’s station (the photos on his site, while pretty, don’t do justice to how beautiful they are in person). But for whatever reason, I’ve always found an excuse not to buy. Whether I’m in a hurry, not carrying cash, or simply indecisive, I’ve found myself in a constant, 3 1/2 year state of non-buyer’s remorse — in other words, the feeling of “Why did I not just buy at least one to put in my kitchen??”

Well, today I am the proud new owner of two — make that three, tomorrow (I just can’t stop!) — 9×12″ prints, and I couldn’t be happier. This may seem like a lot of hype over pictures of mere fruit and vegetables. But one of the reasons I love the photos so much is that they are a true testament to the natural beauty that can be found at the Greenmarket throughout the year, which is where all of Ken’s food photos are taken. I’ve often found myself overwhelmed by the variety of beautiful colors — the white, purple and red potatoes; the light and dark purple eggplants of various shapes and sizes — that beckon from each Greenmarket station.

My no-longer-bare kitchen wall

The beckoning was precisely why I found myself in the position of having to figure out what sort of dish I could make with green beans, red potatoes, and poblano peppers last week. Sure, I could have made several dishes with my options. But I was tired. And that wouldn’t be much fun, anyways, would it? I liked the Iron Chef-meets-Chopped type challenge I had presented myself with. Well, it wasn’t that much of a challenge. I recalled an old Giada episode where she made a warm vegetable salad with green beans, potatoes and roasted red peppers. This salad is a version of that. It’s simple, seasonal, delicious, and keeps well in the refrigerator. Confession: I ate some for breakfast the next day. I know that’s wierd.

Warm Green Bean and Potato Salad:

Adapted from Giada’s Warm Vegetable Salad

2 lbs. red new potatoes (or a mix of red, white or purple)

4 cups green beans, halved

2 poblano peppers

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon oregano

4 scallions, chopped

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 450. Wash poblanos and rub with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Lay flat on a baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for about 10 minutes, turning once, until outsides are evenly blistered and charred. Using tongs, remove peppers to a glass bowl and cover with a lid or plasti wrap to steam. Set aside.

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a generous pinch of salt. Add green beans and blanch for 1-2 minutes. Use a strainer to remove green beens to salad bowl. Add potatoes to hot water and boil for 12-15 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through (halve one to test for doneness). When potatoes are cooked, drain and remove to a cutting board. Halve potatoes (quarter if they are especially large) and add to bowl with green beans.

3. Whisk together remaining olive oil, lemon juice, cider vinegar, garlic and salt. Set aside.

4. Uncover peppers and remove from bowl. Pull off stems and make a slit lengthwise down the pepper. Use knife to scrape out seeds and slice peppers into long strips. Halve strips if they are really long. Add to salad bowl. Pour dressing over vegetables, add oregano and scallions and toss until coated. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Veggie and “Cream Cheese” Focaccia Pizza

So, you know how in my last post I mentioned I’ve been making an effort to pace my posts? Well, it seems my body has helped out in this cause, as I was forced to rest this week with yet another stiff neck and some pretty significant fatigue. The good news is, the latest bout of muscle spasms and stiffness has forced me to seek out an acupunturist in New York, which is something I’ve been thinking about doing for quite some time. Has anyone tried acupuncture? Thoughts? I’m very excited about it,  and — AND! — it’s covered by my new insurance! Ah, the perks of being married!

But now that I’ve had a bit of rest today — along with a healthy dose of some evening iced coffee — I can finally post this pizza recipe, which has been patiently waiting to be shared here for over a week now. I have faint recollections of a Pillsbury “pizza” recipe that made its rounds among the block parties and holiday gatherings of my childhood. Likely because I knew it was something my mom would never make at home (Pillsbury? Please. Try Moosewood, thank-you-very-much), I always indulged in this take on pizza whenever I encountered it elsewhere. And just to make sure I’m not imagining things, I located the original recipe here.

Well, if we’re using raw, fresh veggies, we can do better than white flour and processed cream cheese, can’t we? That’s what I thought. My focaccia recipe has been reincarnated several times — here into a flat, bready pizza crust, which is the perfect vehicle for a creamy cashew topping and raw, fresh vegetables. I’ve been looking to make a panini with my foccacia recipe as well, but now that I know about this pizza, I’ll be hard pressed not to choose it over anything else.

Veggie and Cream Cheese Pizza:

all ingredients for 1 recipe of foccacia, minus the rosemary

1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for 3 hours, drained and rinsed

3 tablespoons Grapeseed oil Vegenaise

2 scallions, white part only

6 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

raw vegetables of your choice (I used broccoli, bell pepper and carrot)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Prepare focaccia batter according to directions. Spread thin and evenly (covering up any holes) onto a flat, pre-greased baking sheet about 11×11 inches in diameter, making a rough circle. Bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, or until edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool. Carefully scrape under focaccia with a knife to loosen from baking sheet. Set aside.

3. Prepare cream cheese topping: Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend until completely smooth and spreadable. Add additional water only if necessary.

4. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over focaccia and sprinkle with diced vegetables — as many or as little as you would like. Enjoy!

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Chocolate Chip-Pumpkin Blondies

I’m trying to pace my posts these days. After all, it won’t be long (I hope) before I actually join the 9-5 workforce, when testing 4-5 recipes a day is no longer a luxury. Then, I’ll wish I’d saved up some recipes to avoid the last-minute scramble for a post after a weeks-long hiatus.

All that said, these blondies were too good not to share right away. Like, today. Like, hours after I made them an devoured 3. I’ll justify my haste by reminding you all that pumpkin is at its peak of abundance right now. Come the new year, you’ll be circling the neighborhood grocery stores, desperately pulling away cans of sweet potato and butternut squash puree, hoping there’s a last, lingering can of pumpkin tucked away back there. I know that feeling all too well, which is why I’m taking full advantage of the overflowing shelves of pumpkin these days and want you to do so as well before it’s too late.

The best part about these blondies (ok, maybe second best — taste probably takes the #1 spot) is that they are pretty simple to make. I tried to stay away from too many ingredients, so I only used one type of flour in this recipe and no gums or starches. The pumpkin and yacon hold everything together very nicely. You can store these in the refrigerator for a few days, but I feel obligated to tell you (after all my previous hype) that they are really, really good slightly warm.

Pumpkin Blondies:

These blondies are chewy and moist. To make them a bit cakier, bake in an 8″ rather than a 9″ pan. I made my own sugar-free chocolate chips (I provied the recipe below as well), but you can feel free to use whichever chocolate chips you prefer in recipes, or you can chop up your favorite chocolate bar and use that. This recipe is a good option if you’re on a low-glycemic or anti-candida diet. But if you’re not, feel free to play around with other sweeteners, as yacon and stevia can be somewhat pricey (though the stevia, at least, will last you a long time). If using a different brand of stevia than NuNaturals, make sure to start with less and experiment with adding more to taste in the batter — I’ve found other brands in such high amounts overly bitter for my tastes.

1 1/2 cups brown rice flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup yacon syrup (you can experiment with agave, maple syrup or molasses here as well)

2 teaspoons NuNaturals vanilla liquid stevia (if you only have NuNaturals plain liquid stevia, add 1 tablespoon vanilla extract to the batter)

1/2 cup melted Earth Balance Buttery Spread

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

homemade chocolate chip/chunks (recipe below)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325.

2. In a small bowl, whish together flour, baking powder and salt.

3. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together buttery spread, stevia and yacon until smooth. Slowly add dry ingredients and beat slowly until incorporated. Beat in applesauce and pumpkin until everything is just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

4. Turn out batter in a pre-greased 9×9″ or 8×8″ baking dish. Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until center bounces back slightly when pressed (will feel less done than a traditional cake — this is O.K.). Let cool about 15-20 minutes before slicing.

Homemade Sugar-free Chocolate Chips:

1/3 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon NuNaturals liquid vanilla stevia

Directions:

1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat until heated through, about 1-2 minutes. Add chocolate and stevia and whisk until shiney and smooth. Pour into a deep baking dish or parchment-lined container (the less shallow, the better — you don’t want the chocolate to spread too thin), cover and freeze for about 1/2 hours, or until completely hardened. Chop into pieces immediately before using.

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Cucumber Margaritas

I’ve been making an effort, over the last few years, to limit the amount of medicine I put into my body. It seems that with every doctor’s appointment, there’s a new presciption to be filled, a new ailment to treat. So when my muscle spasm medication ran out last month, I decided not to fill it. Instead, I would treat my chronic neck and back problems naturally. I’ve been stretching every day, doing yoga, breaking out the heating pad, even splurging on the occassional chair massage. But I was in especially a lot of pain last week. Instead of caving and seeking out some more meds, I stayed true to my determination to do things naturally. The last tool in my all-“natural” arsenal? You guessed it: tequila.

So, I really have no idea if tequila helps with muscle spasms. But I do know that stress is partially responsible for muscle spasms, and that most doctors and even online message boards will tell you that relaxation is key to treating these types of problems with your back. And I know that if I’m looking to relax a little bit, tequila can’t hurt, right? With the additional anti-inflamatory properties of cucumber, I think I’m well on my way here to the answer to all of my problems…(ok, I know that calling a cocktail “the answer to all of my problems” here is a little problematic. That part was a bit tongue-in-cheek. And, truth be told, I’m not sure it helped all that much, but it sure tasted yummy!)

Anyways, the hubs and I enjoyed a Friday night in watching some playoff baseball and sipping on margaritas (can we tell who’s the big Giants fan in the house? I only hopped on the bandwagon because my Tigers aren’t in it this year). I love cucumber in drinks, whether it’s cucumber water, my morning juice, or even a margarita. For this drink, I tried to make a margarita without Triple Sec, which is a very sugary alcohol (and truthfully, just another thing that would be sitting in my freezer forever. It would take a lot of margaritas to go through a whole bottle of Triple Sec). The margarita flavor is still there, with the cooling, refreshing addition of cucumber to balance out the sweet and sour flavors in the drink. This is a great drink to make for a crowd. Make sure you use a good, 100% agave tequila.

Cucumber Margaritas:

Makes: 1 margarita (you can make up to 4 servings in a large blender)

1/3 cup good tequila

3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons agave nectar

7 1/4″ slices cucumber, peeled

1 large handful ice

Directions:

Blend all ingredients in a blender and serve immediately.

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Pumpkin Mousse Frosting

So, the other day I made my chocolate-banana cupcakes with sour cream frosting. I left about half of the cupcakes unfrosted in a ziplock bag for Gennaro to snack on throughout the week. In the meantime, I was working on a candida-friendly pumpkin mousse. I had some chilling in the fridge, and I was anxious to “test it,” (i.e. eat at least half of it). I opened the fridge for a peek at my mousse’s progress, and as I lifted the lid slightly, my eyes caught the cupcakes. Then they shifted back to the mousse. Cupcakes. Mousse. Mousse. Cupcakes.

I think you know where this is going. Now, this last-minute change-of-plans was not strictly my recipe ADD at work. There were actually very practical reasons for me to pair these two treats, one being the appropriate seasonal colors. Orange and black in October is always a welcome combination. The other reason also had to do with color. My dear husband, fan extraordinaire of the San Francisco Giants, is currently enjoying his first year of postseason baseball since 2003. The Giants’ colors? Orange and black.

Of course, this frosting doesn’t have to top off a chocolate-flavored cupcake. Gingerbread cupcakes with pumpkin frosting, anyone? Banana cupcakes would also would be good (banana sans the chocolate, that is). Heck, even pumpkin-on-pumpkin is a good option. But if you’re looking for a gluten-free, agave-sweetened, vegan cupcake recipe to go with this frosting, I can tell you that the chocolate-banana cupcakes with pumpkin frosting combo is pretty darn delicious. And yes, you can eat this “frosting” as a plain mousse, but what fun would that be? (Actually, I did eat a lot of this mousse by itself, and I have to say it was quite good).

Pumpkin Mousse Frosting:

I used some pumpkin pie-esque spices in the mousse, which made for a unique but yummy combination with the cupcakes. If you would like a more mild accompaniment, omit the spices. I made this mousse with yacon to make this a good option for an anti-candida diet, but you can definitely use agave, which would be a fine alternative. While I used coconut butter here, coconut oil would most likely work as well (I’ve used it before in mousses with good results — just make sure you let it chill sufficiently).

1 15-oz. can pumpkin puree

1 12-oz. package Mori-Nu extra firm silken tofu

1/3 cup coconut butter

1 1/2 teaspoons NuNaturals liquid vanilla stevia

1/4 cup yacon syrup or agave nectar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)

1/4 teaspoon allspice (optional)

Directions:

Blend all ingredients well in blender or food processor. Chill in a covered container in refrigerator for 2-3 hours before using.

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Carrot, Beet and Apple Slaw

I’ve been making a version of this slaw for as long as I’ve had my food processor. Between testing batches of cakes and biscuits, it’s nice having a go-to veggie dish to even things out a bit.

This is one of those recipes that I never make the same way twice. Sometimes I just shred carrots and beets and drizzle with tahini dressing. Other times, I add sunflower seeds and dried fruit. Since pomagranates are in season, I added some pomegranate seeds to the slaw I made for lunch the other day. The colors are very “fall,” no?

As for the unemployment thing? Well, I’m learning to make the best of it. For one thing, I get to spend all day with my little guy. That would be Woodley. He’s a snuggler, so if he’s not at my feet, he’s by my side during the day. He’s enjoying the revived attention he’s getting post-bar studying as well, as he literally had to resort to laying on my study guides and giving me puppy eyes just a few months ago, just for a belly rub.

So, here’s my no-recipe method for this slaw: Shred 1 very large or two small carrots, 1 raw beet, peeled, and a green apple, unpeeled, in food processor. Toss shredded beet, apple and carrot with some fresh chopped curly parsley. Add juice of 1 lemon, a drizzle of apple cider vinegar and olive oil. Sprinkle on a generous pinch of salt. Toss. Add anything else you wish and enjoy!

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