Vanilla Apple Pie

What does a nerd do when it is her day off and Pi Day? Make a Pie to celebrate!

Speaking of work, you may have noticed that I have not been posting as much lately. I got a new job, and it is great but very busy. I will get better about posting as I settle in more. Michael started a new job too, so I decided to make us both something special tonight for all our hard work.

I thought a pie for Pi Day would be nice, but a giant pie for the two of us is just impractical. So I made two mini pies. Michael requested chocolate or apple pie, and I went with apple because it is easier to make.  My parents went on a trip to Mexico a few weeks ago, and my mom send me some Mexican vanilla extract, and I have been wanting to use it all week.  I thought it would be a nice addition to classic apple pie.

Vanilla Apple Pie
1 pie crust, frozen or homemade (I used frozen)
4 Fuji apples, pealed and cubed
1.5  tbs vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tbs cornstarch
Pinch of salt

If using frozen pie crust, let it thaw first.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spray two small ramekins with cooking spray.

Roll out the pie crust on a well floured surface. Cut circles out of the pie crust that are a half inch larger than the radius of the ramekin. It’s okay if they are not perfectly round and there should be left over crust pieces.

Press the crust circles into the ramekins, reshaping them to fix it if need be. Make sure you press them in firmly and seal the edges as best you can.

In a small bowl, mix together the cubed apples, vanilla, sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch, and salt. Taste and adjust as necessary to your tastes.

Fill each ramekin with half of the mixture. They should be filled to the very full.

Take the remaining crust pieces and shape them into two circles large enough to cover the top of the ramekins with some overlap.

Now cover the ramekins with the pie crusts and seal the edges firmly. I crimped the edges with a fork to  make sure it seals properly and to make it look pretty.

Cut a small X on the top.

Sprinkle the crust with a little extra sugar.

Bake for 20 minutes, until the crust is golden and the filling starts to bubble up.

Let cool and enjoy a piece of 3.14159265….that’s as far as I know off the top of my head!

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

Finally, my last Thanksgiving 2012 recipe: chocolate pumpkin pie. This was actually a big hit with all the non-vegans on Thanksgiving too. It’s got more protein from the tofu. Plus it has less fat and no cholesterol.

And once again, I forgot to take a picture of the whole pie. I remembered half way through eating my piece. When I went back to take some, it was already half gone.

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie
1 16 oz can of pumpkin
1/2 block of silken tofu, drained
2 tbs of coco powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup of soy milk
2 tbs of maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 graham cracker crust (store bought or homemade is fine)

Pre-heat the oven to 350.

Place all the ingredients into a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth.

Pour into the graham cracker crust.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the center is firm.

Top with some vegan whip cream or my favorite, coconut cream.

Cinnamon Rolls

Guess what classic American product is vegan? Bisquick! Now, I don’t bake sweets often and I don’t use box mixes often, but I wanted cinnamon rolls this morning (and Michael was pretty happy when I woke him up and said I was making them). Of course I made a healthier version not loaded with all the sugar and butter. I just altered the biscuit recipe on the Bisquick box. They are easy to make and a nice treat once in awhile.

This recipe makes 6-8 rolls.

Cinnamon Rolls
2 and 1/4 cups Bisquick
2/3 cup soy milk
1 tbs agave
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbs sugar
1/4 cup powder sugar
Soy milk

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix together the Bisquick, soy milk, and agave. Once it becomes a ball of dough, place on a floured surface.

Knead just until it comes together.

Roll into a 1/2 thick rectangle.

In a small bowl, mix together the cinnamon and sugar.

Spread the cinnamon and sugar mixture evenly on top of the dough rectangle.

Carefully, starting with the end closest to you, roll the dough over into a tube.

Cut into 6 to 8 equal pieces and place on the baking sheet.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, until slightly golden.

In another small bowl, add the powdered sugar and just enough soy milk to make a runny icing.

Drizzle the icing onto the rolls while they are still warm.

A lovely treat for lovely lazy Sunday morning.

Beer Floats

Michael and I have been dating for one month now, and for a girl whose been single for awhile I was very excited about it. So, I thought we should celebrate a little. He took me out to sushi (because he was one of the people involved in my sushi post story and we still laugh about it) and I made him a desert that is sure to please any man: beer floats. It’s just like a root beer float, but with beer! Get your favorite ice cream and pour in your favorite dark beer, it’s that simple. We kept them simple, but you can top with anything you like—whip cream, chocolate sauce, nuts, cherries & etc.

Michael had real dairy chocolate ice cream and Rogue’s Morimoto Hazelnut Signature Ale. I had So Delicious Coconut Milk ice cream and Rogue’s Chocolate Stout. I didn’t try Michael’s obviously, but mine was sooooooo good. I am so making these again soon.

I could post an exact recipe for this, but I am pretty sure you can figure it out 🙂

Sugar Cookies

I am sorry I haven’t posted in awhile. If you follow me on twitter, you know that I was in a car accident. I am fine, just a concussion and whiplash, but sadly my car was totaled. What pisses me off the most was I was not doing anything bad—not speeding, playing with my phone, or goofing around at all. The car just started spinning out of control and I crashed. That aside, it could have been a lot worse so I am glad that I only have minor injuries. But, crashing your car the weekend before finals does not leave a lot of time to cook yummy food, so please forgive my absence.

Baking with a neck brace, so sexy. Thanks to my
 wonderful friend Joely for the apron, I smiled for the
 first time all week when I opened my package.
I wanna help mama.

Anyways, it’s only a few days before Christmas so it’s cookie time! I love decorating cookies with my family, I’ve done it since I was a little girl and plan on doing it every christmas to come. I decided to decorate cookies anyways this year even though I am by myself, it would not be christmas without them! Plus I was not totally alone, Penny tried to jump on the table 3 times while I was decorating them.

I planned on making cookies from scratch, but after spending 4 days in muscle relaxer coma on the couch,  I did not feel like doing all that work. So, I decided to go with a package mix. Like I said before, proceeded foods should be eaten in moderation and very rarely. A few cookies for the holidays is fine. I am keeping a couple for myself and taking the rest to work for everyone to share.

I used the Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix. I substituted vegan shortening for the butter and soy milk for the egg. Although it does not say to do so on the package, I refrigerated the dough over night like normal sugar cookie dough. This really makes rolling out and cutting the dough easier. However, I needed a lot of flour to prevent the dough from sticking. This is a common complaint I found on the reviews for this mix. The cookies tasted good in the end, but the dough puff up more than I would have liked. Overall, if you want cheap and easy sugar cookies, this mix is just fine. But it’s nothing special, homemade from scratch are better.

I made a double batch so I used two packages. Half this recipe for a single batch.

Sorry I did not take pictures of the whole process, I made the dough last night when I got off work and was I too tired.

Sugar Cookies
2 packages of Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix
2 stick of vegan shortening (I used Earth Balance), softened
1/2 cup soy milk

In a large bowl,  mix together all the ingredients until. Make sure all the shortening is worked in and there are no lumps.

Spray some plastic wrap with cooking spray. Form the dough into a ball and cover with the plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.

On a clean, well floured surface, divided the chill dough into quarters. Work with one quarter at a time and put the rest back in the fridge.

Roll the dough to desired thickness and cut out your cookies with festive cookies cutters.

Bake for 7 to 9 minutes. The edges will be slightly golden and the inside still white.

Let them cool on the baking sheet for a minute then remove and let them cool completely.

Then decorate them as desired. I used sparkle gel icing and basic Christmas sprinkles.

Every year I make a Shaun White sugar cookie because he is my favorite snowboarder.

Shaun White cookie!

I also made a bloody car crash victim person, because that’s just the kind of girl I am 🙂

Car crash cookie. There was no blood in my
 accident but that is not as fun to decorate.

I am feeling better so I should be back to my normal blogging soon. Look out for my Thai feast Christmas Eve dinner….

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

Foodbuzz selected me for another free coupon giveaway! This time I got two coupons from Duncan Hines and one from Comstock-Wilderness.  I have been wanting to make a pumpkin spice cake for awhile so I was very happy to get the coupons. I used the coupons to get a box of Duncan Hines Spice Cake, a can of  Buttercream Frosting, and a can of Comstock Apple Pie Filling. Surprisingly, they are all vegan! But, they are processed food, which should always be eaten in moderation. Like Cookie Monster says, sweets should be a sometimes food. Processed foods should never be the main staple of your diet. That being said, there are things you can do to box mixes to make them healthier. Just preparing them vegan alone cuts out all the cholesterol. Rather than oil, I used apple sauce. And for more nutrition, I added pumpkin puree.  For the frosting, I blended the Apple Pie Filling so it was a bit smoother, then added it to the frosting.

These cupcakes combine classic holiday flavors into a small little treat. Could even make a wonderful Thanksgiving dessert.

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes
1 box of Duncan Hines Spice Cake
1 cup apple sauce
3/4 cup rice milk (soy is fine too)
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 can of Duncan Hines Buttercream Frosting
1 can of Comstock Apple Pie Filling

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a cupcake tin with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, add the cake mix, apple sauce, and rice milk. Mix together well.

Add the pumpkin puree and baking soda, then beat together for 2 minutes.

Fill the cupcake tin 3/4 of the way full and bake for for 18-21 minutes.

The cupcakes are ready when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Once ready, let them cool in the tin for a bit, then remove and let them cool completely before frosting.

While those cool, puree the apple pie filling until smooth.

In a small bowl, mix together the puree and the butter cream frosting. If it’s too runny, add some powdered sugar to tighten it up. Refrigerate until the cupcakes are ready to be frost.

Finally, frost the cupcakes anyway you like. I really suck at decorating. If I was in Oregon, I would have begged my mom to decorate them for me. But, I did garnish with a little nutmeg and raw sugar for fun. 

The applesauce and pumpkin puree make the cupcakes so moist, definitely what I have been craving. Thank you Foodbuzz, Duncan Hines and Comstock-Wilderness! I am bringing this cupcakes to a friend’s house, I hope she and her roommates like them.

Baked Apples

I was very sad yesterday when my mom texted me to tell me Steve Jobs, one of the cofounders of Apple Inc., passed away from pancreatic cancer. I looked at the text on my iPhone, a device his company developed that revolutionized mass communications, and my heart sank. Coming from a big techie family, his life and accomplishments were well-known in my home growing up. Whether you’re a Mac or PC person, you cannot deny that he helped change the world. You might not be able to read this very post right now if it wasn’t for his vision (and because I am typing this on a Macbook). I like what my brother posted as his Facebook status, “Steve, I was hoping you would stick around for “One More thing…” ”  

In honor of Steve, I decided to make baked apples. Many factors can trigger cancer, and diet is one of them. This is one of the main reasons I became a vegan. There are so many unknowns in this world and I want to give myself the best fighting chance of living a long, healthy life and proper nutrition is a good way to do so. Keeping that in mind, I made my apples a little bit differently. I did not use any butter. If you use nice ripe apples, their own natural juices will be enough to help it brown. I also did not use white or brown sugar. Most white sugars are processed using animal bones to remove the color so they are not vegan anyways. Not to mention it lacks any nutrients. Brown sugar is just white sugar with regular molasses added, so it isn’t any better. What I did use is black strap molasses. Yes, it is a processed sugar byproduct, but it does have some important minerals like iron, manganese, copper, calcium and vitamin B6. If you are going to eat sugar, it might as well have something beneficial in it. But, just like any processed food, it should be eaten in moderation. You cannot control the future, but you can control your actions now in order to have a better future. Steve is proof that all the money in the world cannot buy you health. Do all you can to prevent cancer. 

Baked Apples

4 Granny Smith apples

1/2  cup rasins

1/2  cup dry oatmeal 
1/4 cup black strap molasses 
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger 

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Core the apples, but make sure you leave the bottom intact. If you have an apple corer, I really suggest using it. It can be done with a pairing knife but it’s a little tricky. 

In a small bowl, combine together the remaining ingredients. 

Fill the apples with the mixture. I stuffed mine pretty well. 

Place the filled apples in a baking pan. Fill the pan with about 1/4 of an inch water. 
Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes. The apples should be tender, and the filling golden and caramelized. Let them cool a bit before eating. You can also cover the pan with foil before baking if you don’t want your filling that crunchy. 
Thank You Mr. Jobs. You changed the world and taught a whole generation to “think different.”

Birthday Cupcakes: Kona Mocha and Tropical Coconut

Today is my birthday! I am 24 years-old today and pretty happy about it. I am not where I thought I would be at 24, and that’s a really good thing. The most important thing I have learned in my 24 short years of life is to just go with it. Life takes you places you never imagined and the best thing to do is not fight it. If you told me when I was 16 that I would be living in Hawaii pursuing a degree in geology, I doubt I would have believed you. I still don’t have it all figured out, but life is more fun with surprises 🙂 I  would have believed you if you told me I was going to become a vegan though.

I put more thought into what treat I wanted for my birthday than is probably needed because I hardly ever make sweets. It’s a real treat when I do. I searched the web, found many yummy options but none really caught my eye. I couldn’t decide between something coconut/mango-y or mocha/chocolate-y. Then I realized I could make both! But I didn’t want to end up frosting 48 cupcakes all day so I decided to make a normal 24 batch and just split the batter.

I used a box mix because, it’s just easier. But, it’s organic and does not have tons of scary chemical ingredients. I am not opposed to packaged products occasionally, but they should not be the stable of your diet. But a nice treat on your birthday is fine.

I made two cupcakes from a single box mix, Tropical Coconut and and Kona Mocha. It’s not hard to doctor-up a simple box mix with your own variations. The Tropical Coconut have pineapple-mango preserves in the batter, a pineapple-mango buttercream frosting and are topped with coconut shavings. The Kona Mocha have Kona coffee and chocolate added to the batter, chocolate buttercream frosting, and are topped with some coffee grounds. If you want to make full batches of either or both of these, just don’t split the batter and add double preserves in the pineapple mango and double the chocolate and coffee in the Kona Mochas.

By the way, Kona coffee is the only coffee that is completely grown and produced in US. Make sure it says 100% Kona coffee on the label for the real stuff.

The Cupcakes
1 box of vanilla cake mix (I used Dr. Oetker)
4 and 1/2 tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer
6 tbs water
1/2 cup soy milk
1/2 cup applesauce (I used cinnamon but plain is fine too)

Pineapple Mango Variation 
3 tbs unsweetened pineapple-mango preserves
1/4 cup soy milk
1/4 tps baking powder

Kona Mocha Variation
1/2 extra strong Kona coffee
2 ounces of dark chocolate, melted

Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees and spray a cupcake tin with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, add the cake mix.

In a small bowl, whisk the Enger-G Egg replacer and water. Add to the large bowl.

Add the soy milk and applesauce to the large bowl, mix together well, making sure to get air in the batter. If you aren’t a broke college kid like me, you can do this in your stand mixer.

Now evenly divided the batter into two bowls.  I only have one cupcake tin so I had to make them one at a time.

For the Tropical Coconut, in one of the bowls add the perseveres, 1/4 cup soy milk, and baking powder. Mix together well again.

Pour the batter into the cupcake tin, filling eat 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 10-12 minutes. They are ready when a tooth inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Let them cool in the tin for bit, then remove from and let cool completely.

For the Kona Mocha, in the other bowl add the coffee and melted chocolate. I added some extra coffee grounds in for an extra kick too. Mix together well again.

Pour the batter into the cupcake tin, filling eat 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 10-12 minutes. They are ready when a tooth inserted into the middle comes out clean. 

Let them cool in the tin for bit, then remove from and let cool completely. 

The Frostings
1 box of vanilla frosting mix  (I used Dr. Oetker)
2 stick soften vegan shortening
1/4 cup soy milk
Tropical Coconut Variation
1 tbs pineapple-mango preserves
unsweetened shaved coconut
Kona Mocha Variation
2 ounces dark chocolate, melted
Kona coffee grounds
If you have stand mixer, use it. It sucked mixing this all by hand. 

In large bowl, beat together the frosting mix, shortening, and soy milk until smooth. 
Divide into two bowls.
For the Tropical Coconut,in one bowl add in the preserves and mix well. 
Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle on some shaved coconut. 

For the Kona Mocha, in the other bowl add the melted chocolate and mix well.
Frost the cupcakes, and sprinkle on some coffee grounds.
I decided to be nice (and it’s healthier for me not to eat them all anyways) and share them with the geology department. So UHH geology majors, go check the seminar room today.
I left some out for me to eat tonight of course, but one conveniently didn’t fit in the box when I was packing them up last night 🙂 Oh, the frosting is so good. And I love how moist the applesauce makes the cupcakes. Not as pretty as my mom would have made but delicious nonetheless. Happy Birthday to me indeed!  
PS, When I checked the geology seminar room at 12:30, only a few cupcakes where left. Guessing they were a hit!

Rhubarb Bars

I was looking through the new recipes on VegWeb and came across one called Rhubarb Bar for the Herbivore. There was a bunch of rhubarb in my mom’s garden that needed to be picked, so I thought I would give this recipe a try. I used whole wheat pastry flour and less butter in the crust to make it more nutritious. I also did not need as much sugar as the recipe calls for, and I thought my rhubarb was pretty sour to begin with. Just preference I guess.

Rhubarb Bars
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3 tbs powdered sugar
2 tbs vegan butter
2-3 tbs of water

2 cups rhubarb, chopped
1 cup raw sugar
2tbs Enger-G egg replacer
4 tbs water
1/4 cup flour

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a small square pan with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, add the flour and butter. Then squish together by hand. Add the water as needed until the dough is crumbly.

Press the dough down into the bottom of the pan firmly.

Bake for 15 minutes. It should still be pale but a little firmer.

While that bakes, peel and chop the rhubarb into bite size pieces. Check out my Strawberry Rhubarb Pie post on how to prep rhubarb.

In a large bowl, add the rhubarb and all remaining ingredients. Mix together well. Taste for sweetness, you may need more sugar depending on preference and the sourness of your rhubarb.

Once the crust is baked, pour the filling in while the crust is still hot.

Bake for 35-40 minutes until the filling is bubbling.

Let it cool before cutting and serving. I topped it with a little powdered sugar for fun.

If you have never had rhubarb before, I would not suggest this recipe. But if you like a little tartness, give this a try. It’s a nice change from a big heavy dessert.

*PS, my dad pretty much devoured this tonight. When he really likes something, he will eat the whole thing. So if you are a rhubarb fan, this is the dish for you.

Parents’ 27th Anniversary Dinner, Part 1: Strawberry Rhubarb and Marion Berry Pie

On August 4, 1984, my two wonderful parents began their lives together as husband and wife. They met back in high school and have been happily married for 27 years now. They are the two most amazing people I know and I am so thankful for the wonderful childhood they gave my brother and I. So they definitely deserve a nice dinner. They drooled over the food in the recent episode of No Reservations in Naples and requested I make traditional pizza margarita and an antipasto platter. My parents are not vegan and since it is their day, some of the recipes are not vegan. The things I am going to eat are vegan though. Since I am making quite a few dishes, I decided to break up the recipes into two posts. This first one is the dessert since I made the pies this morning.

Chuckie and Amelia like rhubarb apparently.

My dad requested his favorite thing in the whole world, strawberry rhubarb pie. The filling is vegan, but I suck at pie crusts so I used a Pillsbury one, which is not vegan. And some how I still managed to screw up a pre-made crust. The rim stuck to the foil in the oven for some reason. Not sure how that happened. My mom said it still tastes good, just doesn’t look so pretty. Still pretty good for my first attempt. I picked the rhubarb fresh from my mom’s garden, and my kitties decided to help me. The recipe is based on the one from How to Cook Everything.

For myself, I made a marion berry pie. Marion berries are a caneberry hybrid developed by Oregon State University in the 1940s. They are pretty much just an Oregon version of a blackberry and they are fantastic. They grow wildly all over Oregon now too. They will stain your hands a lovely purple color so be careful. If you can’t get marion berries, you can use blackberries but any Oregonian will tell you they aren’t the same. I also used a pre-made gram cracker crust for this pie too.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
2 pre-made pie crust doughs
2 and 1/2 cups rhubarb, peeled and diced
3 cups strawberries, siced
1 cup sugar, more or less depending on sourness of rhubarb
3 tbs cornstarch

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.

Wash and slice the strawberries. Add to a large bowl.

Wash and peel the rhubarb. The easiest way to peel is just to pull off the outer tough strings by hand. Just keep pulling off little pieces until you can’t easily grab strings anymore. Dice into small pieces. Add to the large bowl.

Add the sugar and cornstarch, mix together well. Taste for sweetness. If the rhubarb is really sour like mine was, you may need more sugar.

For the crust, unroll the pie crust and fit into the pie pan. Press the dough down well and press the the edges down firmly to seal the crust.

Pour the filling into the pan and smooth so it’s evenly spread.

Cover with the other pie crust.  Seal the edges down once again.

For  some decoration and help the seal, press a fork around the edges.

Cut 4 slits in the center.

Brush the top with some milk and sprinkle on some sugar.

Cover the edges with foil so they don’t burn. 

Bake in the oven at 450 for 10 minutes, then drop down the temperature to 350 and make for 40-50 minutes. Removed the foil the last 10 minutes. It’s done when the filling is bubbly and the crust is golden.

Not sure why the crust came out all weird…

Vegan Marion Berry Pie
1 vegan pre-made gram cracker pie crust
1 pint Marion Berries
4 tbs sugar
1/2 tps ground cloves
1/4 tps fresh grated ginger
1 tbs corn starch
Vegan whip cream

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Wash the berries and add the to a large bowl.

Add all remaining ingredients, except the crust obviously, and mix together well. Taste for sweetness but ripe marion berries should not be sour.

Pour the filling into the crust and smooth so it’s evenly spread.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until the filling is no longer jiggly.

Top with vegan whip cream, and garnish with some more berries or mint.

Almond whip spread and mint from my mom’s garden.

I have been craving a marion berry pie for awhile now, should be delicious! And I know my dad will be happy when he sees his pie too. More posts to come, but here is another pic of my cats “helping” me in the garden.

So cute, even if they do come in all dirty.