Chocolate Pie

Last year I did a post in honor of my grandmother’s passing. Sadly, this post is for my grandpa. A few week ago he had a two strokes that he could not recover from and passed on. So needless to say these past few weeks have been very emotional. I am so happy to be bonding with my newborn son, but sad to lose my grandfather.

Like I said with my grandma’s passing, the best way I can honor his memory is to live a long healthy life. And now I need to teach Jack how to live a long life too. I need to teach him about food and cooking so he can have every advantage for his health.

My grandpa loved chocolate pie. The kind you make with Jell-O pudding. When I was little I made him one, but I accidently burnt the milk. It tasted awful, no one else wanted to eat it. However, he happily ate it. Claimed it tasted like coffee. I don’t know if it was his love for chocolate pie or his love for me, but it made me happy to see him eat it. I think that was how I discovered my love for cooking for others.

So in honor of my him, I decided to make a healthier vegan version of his favorite dessert.While the pudding mix itself is vegan, it requires milk–and it will not firm up with soymilk. So I had to go a different route. I essentially made my Chocolate Mousse recipe into a pie. Pretty easy, no baking required. And tons of protein and antioxidants.

 Chocolate Pie
1 block silken tofu
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1 graham cracker crust (find one without honey)

Drain the tofu, but do not squeeze or blot totally dry.

I used my NutriBullet, but a blender or food processor works. Blend the tofu until smooth.

Place the chocolate chips in a small bowl and microwave for 20 seconds. Stir well. Repeat at 5 second intervals until it is all melted and smooth.

Add the melted chocolate, cocoa powder, and coconut sugar to the tofu. Blend until all combined.

Pour the tofu mixture into the pie crust and smooth out the top.

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours to firm up.

My mom bought this stuff called PB2, which if you like peanut butter, tastes great on sprinkled on top. I have to admit, it took me a few days to want to eat the pie because it made me sad to realize my grandpa is really gone. But once I did, it made me smile. He would have loved it—very chocolatey and smooth. Once Jack can have solid food, I will make this for him and tell him all about his great grandparents.

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.

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.