Oat Nut Fruit Gems

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(Becky, the Mama)

My mother, Ruthie, went from loving her sugary desserts (a la last week’s Honey Slice cookie recipe) to a diet almost completely without sugar a couple of decades ago.  A health crisis with her blood pressure and heart, meant major changes in her daily diet – all for the better.  Out went everything white: sugar, white flour and white rice… and in came the brown and fiber-filled replacements.  But, we are not the sort of women to suffer deprivation in our family.  Being the creative and resourceful cook, Mother found several ways to satisfy her sweet tooth while also getting healthier, sporting an adorably slim figure, and having more energy than women decades younger than she!

This is one of my all-time favorite sweet, healthy, satisfying treats that she baked. She served them in a pretty cloth-lined basket at a family supper and they disappeared in what seemed like minutes. Everyone from kids to adults raved about them.

The basic ingredients are so simple:  oats, mashed bananas and grated apples.  From there you can throw in the kitchen sink:  any nuts, seeds, flavorings or dried fruit that you like.   Another bonus is that you can serve this recipe to most of the people in your family (or friends) on special diets.  The recipe is naturally vegan, and if you use gluten-free oats, it is gluten-free and can easily be adapted to use less sugar or made sugar-free.  Kids not only love them, but as you can see from my little helper below, they also love to help make them.

My grandson Georgie, furiously mashing the bananas with a potato masher.

My grandson Georgie, furiously mashing the bananas with a potato masher.

If you want to create warm memories of baking with little ones this Christmas, but prefer not to send them into a Sugar Orbit in the process: this is the perfect mom and child, or grandma and grandchild project, to whip up together.

The texture is somewhere between a muffin, an oatmeal cookie, trail mix, and baked oatmeal.  Made with sugar they get a nice crunch on the outside but are moist and slighty chewy on the inside.  Perfect for quick breakfasts-to-go, they also make great snacks for school lunch boxes and any outdoor enthusiasts in your family.  Wrapped in foil they are wonderful sources of energy when hiking, camping or snow-boarding.

This recipe makes 2 dozen.   Best stored in fridge and then heated for a few seconds in microwave.

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 Oat Nut Fruit Gems

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees

Ingredients

2 large bananas, mashed (use 3 if bananas are small)

2 large peeled apples, grated (use 3 if apples are small)

3 cups oats (I like Old Fashioned Oats for the chewier texture)

½ t. sea salt

1/3 c. raw organic sugar (or use other sweeteners such as brown sugar or coconut sugar or even  Stevia, according to taste )

½ c. dried chopped fruit (I used dates and dried cranberries. Coconut also works well in this recipe.)

1/2 nuts and/or seeds (I used walnuts and pecans)

2 t. vanilla

 

Directions

Mix all of the above together in a large mixing  bowl.  Spray or oil muffin pans.  Fill them about 2/3 full and gently press down with back of spoon. if you want them to look more muffin-like you can mound them a bit in the middle, as they won’t rise. (No leavening or eggs.)

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Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until just golden brown around edges and top.

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When cool to touch, gently remove from pan.  If not eaten in a day, store in fridge in a sealed bag or plasticware and zap for a few seconds in microwave to warm.

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This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Oat Nut Fruit Gems
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-Pz
This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook

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Laugh, Cry, Cook Thanksgiving Round-Up (Lots of Vegan & Gluten-Free Options Everyone will Love)

The other day while I was, ahem, procrastinating on doing some actual writing, I decided to organize my Pinterest boards. Obviously, that is a priority two weeks shy of a deadline. And while I was at it, I made a Vegan Thanksgiving Pinterest Board with all the recipes I have made or posted that would make lovely vegan dishes at Thanksgiving. Most are mine, some are moms, and a few are from some of my other favorite blogs.

I thought, in the midst of the final edits and recipe testing for the book and what not, instead of creating something new for my post this week, I’d round up some of our favorite recipes from this blog for Thanksgiving. Most are either vegan or can be easily made vegan with a few modifications, some are gluten-free, and a few are neither.

As a vegan myself and friend to many people with dairy, gluten, and even poultry allergies, I hope this list will give others with different eating habits some ideas for Thanksgiving dinner. I also hope it will be helpful to those who are cooking for people like me this Thanksgiving. Serving one or two special dishes for the “weird” eaters in your life is a way to show how much you love and care for them and to let them know you honor and respect their food choices. Believe me, it means more than you can know to arrive at someone’s home and realize they thought of you while planning their menu. It means they think you matter and want you to feel included at the family table. One yummy dish can say all that.

Jared, Jackson, and I will be heading to Colorado to spend Thanksgiving with Mom and Greg and to celebrate turning in our book. Whoohoo! It’s always a fun time when we get together. We laugh. If we’re lucky, we might even laugh until we cry. And of course, we cook!

Enjoy this Thanksgiving Roundup!

Oh, and I’ve updated our recipe page too, if you want to browse all of our recipes for your own holiday inspired pinterest board. 😉

ENTREES

Topless Veggie Pot Pie

Topless Veggie Potpie
You might want to make up another name for your grandmother 🙂

**Vegan

Rustic Iron Skillet Pot Pie

Rustic Iron Skillet Pot Pie
Would be great with shredded Turkey or Chicken, crumbled tempeh, or Chik’n Strips.

**Vegan variations listed in recipe

Fresh Corn & Roasted Poblano Soup

Fresh Corn & Roasted Poblano Chowder
If you are looking for something a little less traditional, this is one of our favorite fall dishes. It would make a delicious alternative for vegan or vegetarian guests. Adding a little Field Roast Applewood Sausage makes this a filling entree.

**vegan, gluten-free (optional vegan sausage contains gluten)

Roasted Cabbage, Sausage & Honey Balsamic Glaze

Roasted Cabbage & Sausage with Honey Balsamic Glaze
I love my mom’s anecdote with this recipe. It will probably still be fitting for some of our family tables following this intense election. “Every good hostess knows that the best way to break up an awkward family debate is to divert attention by cooking something that smells amazing, and looks so delicious that all conversation stops, as wordless lip-licking and tummy-rubbing take over.  This is one of those simple, delicious, comforting meals that could possibly bring about World Peace.  At least at your dining table.”

**Vegan variation listed in recipe, gluten-free (vegan variation contains gluten)

Spicy Hominy, Kale and Butter Bean Bowl

Spicy Hominy, Kale, & Butterbean Bowl

Another one of our fall favorites. I make variations of this at least every few weeks in the cooler months. It is filling and nutritious and has lots of bright pretty colors. Sometimes I add diced butternut squash for even more fall flavor. It simmers in one pan in less than 30 minutes and can easily be re-heated, so it makes a great alternate meal for vegans at the table without taking up much extra time or kitchen space.

*vegan, gluten-free

APPETIZERS AND SNACKS

Let kids decorate their own Gobble-Gobble Turkey Toasts

Gobble-Gobble Turkey Toasts with Pumpkin Butter

Hold your little ones over until dinner and entertain them at the same time by letting them decorate their own Gobble-Gobble Turkey Toasts with Pumpkin Butter and a variety of toppings like chocolate chips, shredded coconut, walnuts, and dried cranberries. This is a fun way for vegans to incorporate turkeys into their child’s Thanksgiving experience.

**vegetarian, vegan-friendly, gluten-free friendly with gf bread

Warm Stuffed Dates

Warm Stuffed Dates: Two Minutes, Two Ingredients

These appetizers or snacks are so quick and easy, any one of your kitchen helpers could make them. They are melt-in-your mouth delicious when warm, but still great when they cool to room temperature, making them easy to make ahead and just leave out for the grazers. They also provide quick energy for a busy cook.

**Vegan, gluten-free

Carrot Cake Chutney

“Carrot Cake” Chutney (Topping for Cream Cheese & Crackers)
This stuff is amazing on crackers, but also a fun carrot cake “mix-in” for yogurt or ice cream. An easy and unique treat to serve at your next party or bring to a hostess.

**vegetarian, gluten-free, (chutney is vegan and you can easily sub vegan cream cheese)

Pumpkin Spice Dip for Apples (with Extra Toppings for “Double Dipping”)

Pumpkin Pie Dip with “Autumn Leaf” Apples

This recipe is creamy and tastes exactly like pumpkin pie, but uses real food, and most of it is good for you! The fun thing about this recipe is that you get to “double-dip” your apple slices: once in the pumpkin pie fluff and again in any topping of your choice. A friend of mine has a daughter who can’t have dairy and she told me she’s almost embarrassed to admit how many times they’ve made this recipe. In her words, they “can’t get enough!”

**vegan, gluten-free

SIDE DISHES

Baked Macaroni & Cashew Cheese

Baked Macaroni and Cashew Cheese

Non-vegans love this dish too and are always shocked when they find out there is no cream or cheese. Compared to real mac & cheese, this is more like a creamy pasta casserole. With the addition of some chickpeas, I often serve it as an entree.

**vegan, gluten-free w/ gf pasta

Pecan Mushroom Stuffed Zucchini

Pecan Mushroom Stuffed Zucchini

We probably need to retake these pics. It looks much prettier than the picture shows and it tastes amazing. My mom made this for me and I made her promise me she didn’t sneak meat in it. The walnuts really transform into a meaty texture. We both love this dish.

**vegetarian, vegan variation listed

Roasted Red Pepper Quinoa

Roasted Red Pepper Quinoa

This is my go-to quinoa recipe. It’s so easy and with a rice maker, it basically cooks itself while you get the rest of dinner made.

**vegan, gluten-free

Roasted Vegetables with Roasted Garlic

Balsamic Roasted Garlic Vegetables

Balsamic Roasted Veggies

Roasted veggies are delicious on any occasion and even the pickiest veggie eaters often find they like vegetables that have gotten crisp and sweet in the oven.

**vegan, gluten-free

Orange Glazed Carrots

Orange Glazed Carrots

Sweet, buttery orange glazed carrots are the perfect compliment to any Thanksgiving dinner.

**Vegan with sub of Earth Balance, gluten-free

Sweet n’ Sour Green Bean with Bacon

Sweet n’ Sour Green Beans and Bacon

A nice alternative to the traditional Green Bean Casserole at Thanksgiving.

**Vegan variation listed in recipe

SALADS

Creamy Vegan Fruit Salad Dressing

Fruit Salad with Creamy Dressing

Perhaps the best fruit salad dressing we’ve ever tasted. This easy delicious two ingredient recipe will be your new favorite topping for everyday and holiday fruit salads. We promise you we’re not exaggerating.

**vegan, gluten-free

Cranberry Orange Kale Salad

Cranberry Orange Kale Salad

This sweet orange marmalade dressing goes perfectly with massaged kale greens, dried cranberries, and slivered almonds. Kale is a great green for serving at dinner parties or holidays because it holds up well in dressing. In fact, you can dress this the day before and it will only taste better the next day. Just pull it out of the fridge, and sprinkle with toppings.

**vegan, gluten-free

Fruit & Almond Kale Salad with Clementine-Maple Dressing

Fruit & Almond Kale Salad with Clementine Maple Dressing

Another yummy  kale salad option. This one is packed with lots of nuts and seeds, making it a nice filling salad for those who may skip out on the turkey or for your health conscious dinner guests.

*vegan, gluten-free if you sub tamari for the soy sauce

DESSERTS

Luscious Pumpkin Mousse Pie

Luscious Pumpkin Mousse Pie

Coconut has become a best friend in the Laugh, Cry, Cook kitchens. Even though my mom eats dairy, she too is hooked on the wonders of the cold cream from a full-fat coconut milk. Whip it into a whipped cream topping, use it for a yummy pumpkin pie dip (see the snacks and apps), and even make this Luscious Pumpkin Mousse Pie with it. Don’t even bother telling the guests it’s vegan…they will NEVER know. We think it may be the best pumpkin pie either of us have ever had.

**vegan

Butternut Squash and Pumpkin Bread Cobbler

Pumpkin Spice Butternut Squash Cobbler

A grown-up autumn twist on an old easy summer favorite that called for a can of peaches and a yellow cake mix. This version uses butternut squash and pumpkin spice bread mix instead.

**vegan

Healthy Apple Crisp

Healthy Skillet Apple Crisp

Buttery, not-too-sweet, crunchy and rustic. It has no refined sugars, but is made with natural coconut sugar and tad of pure maple syrup. The topping has no flour: it is all oats and nuts and seeds, giving it a fabulous crunchy texture. It is loaded with fiber and protein, a comforting autumn dessert, and healthy enough to serve the next day for fruit-nut breakfast oatmeal – re-heated and served with a little milk, cream or almond milk.

**vegan, gluten-free w/ gf oats

Warm Chocolate Coconut Almond Cake

Chocolate Coconut Almond Cake

A vegan version of a German Chocolate Cake that my mom keeps bragging about.  Mom, can I make this my official request for this to be served at our Thanksgiving? Thank you! 🙂

**Vegan

Honorable Mention Desserts:

We have so many yummy desserts, but this post is getting super long, so I’ve just linked to a few more worth checking out.

Refreshing Mandarin Orange and Pineapple Cake (vegan friendly)

No Bake Apricot Bars (vegan, gluten-free)

Blueberry Oat Nut Bars (vegan and gluten-free friendly — see Rachel’s variation in the comment section)

Coconut Covered Cherries (vegan, gluten-free)

Powerhouse Chocolate Pudding Pie (vegan, gluten-free option)

Pumpkin Cookie Butter Cookies (vegan)

Superfood Hemp Chocolate Treats (vegan w/ vegan chocolate)

BREAKFASTS

Yes, breakfast is still the most important meal of the day…even on Thanksgiving. No one wants the cook to pass out from low blood sugar levels in the middle of prepping dinner.

Kinda’ Healthy Vegan Apple Fritters

Kinda’ Healthy Vegan Apple Fritters (vegan)

Sweet Pecan Pie Breakfast Oatmeal (vegan, gluten-free friendly)

Quick Buttery Coffee Cake

Healthy Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal (vegan, gluten-free friendly)

Some hints for cooking for vegans

Some of your favorite dishes can be easily modified for a vegan guest if you just know a few tricks.

Eggs: 1 T. of flax meal mixed with 3 T. of warm water will gel up in a few minutes and can be used as an egg substitute in most baked goods. 1/2 a banana also usually works in sweet breads or muffins.

Butter: Earth Balance is a delicious vegan butter substitute. In fact, if you already use margarine, you’ll hardly notice a difference int the taste. It is readily available at Whole Foods and Krogers here. My small town Wal-Mart even started carrying it.

Milk: Unsweetened almond milk is my favorite substitute for most of my cooking. It has a very mild taste so it doesn’t overpower a dish. Soy milk seems to have the best results for baking cakes and cupcakes though I usually use almond milk anyway because it’s what I have on hand.

Buttermilk: Add 1 T. of vinegar or lemon juice to 1 c. soy milk (soy does work best for this trick) and let sit for about 10 minutes. (FYI, this trick happens to work with cow’s milk too, if you don’t have buttermilk on hand and aren’t dairy-free.)

Meat: Don’t assume that the vegans in your life will be thrilled with a fake chicken breast as their main entree. Some will, but many of us, especially the ones who technically try to follow a plant-based diet, don’t actually eat many of those processed fake products. I have found a few that I like: Field Roast Applewood Sausages are my favorite meat substitute. They are GMO and soy-free and taste delicious. I’ve used the Chick’n Strips a few times too and those are pretty good on a pizza or something. Whole Foods has a Chick’n Salad in their deli that is quite good. I like cooking with tofu, but it’s taken me some time to learn how to make it taste good. Really, you don’t need fake meat or even soy to have a filling meal. Lentils, split-peas, chickpeas, and beans are all healthy filling options and can easily replace the meat in a lot of recipes.

Cheese: Vegan cheese substitutes are getting better and better all the time. Daiya is the most common shredded cheese substitute. It’s pretty good. We like it on our pizza. Though I don’t think it will fool anyone into thinking it’s real cheese. There are also cream cheese and sour cream substitutes that are pretty good, especially if used in a recipe or dip. I have a recipe on the blog for Nacho Cheese using cashews and sunflower seeds. The cashew cheese for the macaroni (above) could be used for any other casserole type dish as well. Their are also lots of recipes online for different cheeses, like ricotta cheese or parmesan. One of our readers even left a tip that you can make your own sour cream and cream cheese. If you can think it, some food blogger has probably blogged it. 🙂

I hope you find this helpful as you prepare a Thanksgiving meal that includes all the different palates in your family at one table. May the food join your family together in love and respect for one another. May we all honor each other and our differences on this day of gratitude and thanks. 


Honey & Lime Tortilla-Sopapillas

(Becky, the Mama.)

Sometimes the simplest things really are the best.  I call this recipe Vacation Sopapillas because I usually have the ingredients lying around the condo or timeshare.  If I were a person of the camping persuasion (which I am not), I would definitely be cooking these babies up around the campfire, using an iron skillet.  Hopefully, however, I’ll never be forced to do that.  My husband bought me this greeting card, and truer words have never been spoken.

I also call these my Vacation Sopapillas because they are so ridiculously addicting that I don’t allow myself this treat on a regular basis.  So I try to only make them on vacation. Seriously, if you cook these… try to eat just one and let me know if it is humanly possible.

This is a recipe you can throw together with minimum mess in a couple of minutes, just for little ol’ marvelous you.  Since they are best eaten fast and warm, I don’t even try to serve these to a crowd.  This a gift you give to yourself, and maybe, just maybe, one other person who you love very, very much.

The trick is to use uncooked tortillas.  If you’ve never tried them, boy, are you in for a treat.  You’ll never go back the pre-cooked varieties again. The brand I like best is called Tortilla Land (click link for $1.00 off coupon) and typically you find them in the refrigerator section of Costco and sometimes Sam’s or Wal-mart.  If I can’t find this brand of tortillas, however, it seems I can almost always find Guerrero brand (click on link for $1.00 coupon) which are soft semi-cooked tortillas, and they are not refrigerated.  They just hang out on the shelves with the other regular tortillas in almost any major grocery store.  Be sure to look for the yellow packaging (as pictured below); they should look very thin, not quite cooked all the way.

The beautiful thing that happens when these uncooked or semi-cooked tortillas hit a very hot skillet with a little olive oil/butter is that they puff up, very much like a big sopapilla. Only without all the work and the frying.  My favorite version of these tortilla sopapillas is simple.  After cooking I quickly slather it with a little butter, honey, a squeeze of lemon or lime, and light sprinkle of raw sugar.  To eat it – you can tear it up in little pieces; roll it up enchilada style; or cut it in fourths, bending it in half, and eating it the way Italians eat flexible pizza.

For variety, I also like filling the puffy tortillas with sliced bananas that have been gently cooked in a skillet with a little butter and brown sugar. Then I roll it up like a burrito and drizzle with a bit of honey.  Cooked apples with cinnamon and sugar make a fabulous filling as well.  The only limits to this simple recipe is your imagination.

Lime & Honey Tortilla-Sopapillas

Ingredients:

1 raw or semi-cooked tortilla (Tortilla Land brand or Guererra preferred)

1 t. olive oil

2 t. soft butter (vegan butter for Vegans)

2 t. honey

small squeeze fresh lemon or lime

1 t. raw sugar

Instructions:

Put 1 t. olive oil and 1 t. soft butter in a hot skillet, and stir until blended.  Put one uncooked tortilla in the pan. When it puffs up and browns on one side, flip it and brown the other side.

Immediately put tortilla-sopapilla on a plate, spread with butter, then honey, a quick squeeze of fresh lime and a sprinkle of raw sugar.

For banana sopapillas: slice one small banana and put in a skillet with a teaspoon of butter and a teaspoon of brown sugar. Stir just until bananas are warm and absorb butter and sugar.  Proceed as above, only fill the tortilla with warm banana slices, roll like a burrito and serve with a little more honey. Eat with knife and fork.  A dollop of ice cream and sprinkle of cinnamon couldn’t hurt either.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Honey & Lime Tortilla-Sopapillas
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-Mz
This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook

© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Super Healthy Almond Kale Salad with Clementine-Maple Dressing

(Becky, the Mama. )

Greg and I just spent two days on a road trip, driving from snow-covered Denver to the blue skies, hot air balloons, rusty-red mountains, green grass, gorgeous flowers and warm sun of Arizona.  As soon as we pulled into the parking lot, I grabbed my bathing suit from the suitcase (still in the car) ran into the condo and threw it on, then dashed to the swimming pool. The sun was still in the sky, but sinking, so I arranged my lounge chair just so, where I could get the maximum rays, then sat down and basked and beamed with happiness. For as long as I can remember I’ve been a sun and a water baby. I wore my dark hair in two braids, as a little girl, and by summer’s end I always looked like Pocahontas, my skin as “brown as a berry,” my mother said.

To this day, I wonder if I am part Indian, as I disdain shoes and socks, preferring to be bare foot, even in the winter. I seek out sun like a lizard, anywhere I can find it. I do know that my grandmother Nonny and her family came to Sweetwater, Texas from New Mexico. Her eyes were a twinkling blue, her hair a stunning natural silver, and her skin turned a deep olive every summer.  She loved being outside in her garden, always in a flower print dress (I never saw her in slacks), and if we grandkids were lucky, she’d see and catch a baby horned toad, which us we loved to hold and play with more than any store-bought toy.

But I digress.  Back to the pool.  When I could see the sun dipping in the sky, I jumped out of the lounge chair, hurried back to the condo, grabbing this and that from boxes of food stuffs and ice chest we brought from home – kale, dried cherries, hemp seed,  sliced almonds, Clementine oranges – quickly creating the world’s fastest salad. Then photographing it while there was still natural light on the patio overlooking an emerald green golf course. After two days of road trip food burgers and fries, my body was craving something green and healthy.  This is truly a Super Salad, loaded with nutrition – and it was soo yummy, I know I’ll be making it again and again.  The nice thing about using kale in salads is that the salad still has lots of chew and crunch the next day, and in fact,  it seems to get even better as it has time to sit and soften a bit in the dressing.

Super Fruit & Almond Kale Salad with Clementine Maple Dressing

Ingredients for salad:

2 to 3 cups of chopped kale, leaves only – no stems (I was able to find it pre-chopped and mixed with some shredded carrots in the grocery produce aisle)

2 Clementine oranges, peeled and pulled apart in sections

2 T. dried cherries or cranberries

1 T. hemp, flax, or chia seeds

2 T. sliced or slivered almonds

1/4 cup sliced water chestnuts

Ingredients for Dressing:

¼ cup red wine or rice wine vinegar

Juice from 1 Clementine orange

1 T. pure maple syrup

1 t. soy sauce

2 t. good mustard

¼ cup olive oil

dash garlic powder or about 1/4 of a fresh garlic clove, grated

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

Put kale in a large  bowl and knead and massage it with clean hands for a minute. This will break down the fibers and make the kale tender enough to eat raw.  (Sometimes I run hot water over it in a colander to soften the kale first, knead it, and then rinse again in cold water.)  Add all the rest of the ingredients for a salad and serve in a pretty flat platter.   Whisk all the ingredients for the dressing together and drizzle over the salad.  Serve and enjoy.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Fruit and Almond Kale Salad with Clementine-Maple Dressing
The URL:http://wp.me/p1UwM9-M9
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Healthy Skillet Apple Crisp (Vegan, Wheat, Dairy and Sugar Free)

Healthy Apple Crisp

After returning from a recent trip where I travelled without Greg (“The Other Half of my Heart and Brain”), we paused and took inventory of all the things I lost along the way: some clothes, my credit card,  my car keys (the kind with a computer chip that cost $70.00 to replace), and my camera.

Thankfully the credit card surfaced in a bag I’d left at home.  The hotel found my camera and zipped it to me quickly, Fed-Ex.  Three days later, my local library called to let me know that Frontier Airlines had my car keys in the Lost and Found. (My library card was attached to my giant key chain.  I remembered then that I’d let my grandbaby Jackson play with them on the plane.  Let this be a lesson to all:  Never trust a 13 month old baby to put your keys back in your purse when he is finished playing with them.)  Never found the clothes

Though Greg knows my absent-minded nature all too well, even he was amazed at all I’d managed to misplace in such a short time.

One morning soon after, he came upstairs to our bedroom to wake me up in time for a morning appointment.  “Becky,” he asked, “How in the world did you ever wake up without me to help you all those years when you traveled alone, speaking?”

“Well,” I answered sleepily, “the hotels had this thing where you could ask them to call you and wake you up. But I forgot what they call it.”

Greg smiled.  “A wake up call.”

“Yeah, that’s it!”

What is funny is the things my brain does remember: every word that Greg said to me when we fell in love, and the sweet things he continues to say to me almost a decade later.  Dozens of quotes I’ve found meaningful over the course of my life . Then there are recipes.  I have a remarkable taste memory, and can remember a long list of ingredients in recipes I’ve cooked and loved, simply by remembering the taste of it in my mind.

After cooking for years,  I can now imagine a dish I’ve never eaten, but would like to try making, and somehow my brain clicks off the  ingredients automatically.  Thus, the recipe for this skillet apple crisp that turned out exactly as I imagined it would: buttery, not-too-sweet, crunchy and rustic. It has no refined sugars, but is made with natural coconut sugar and tad of pure maple syrup. (It is easy to find coconut sugar these days in the baking aisle:  I found this bag at a local Wal-mart.) The topping has no flour: it is all oats and nuts and seeds, giving it a fabulous crunchy texture. It is loaded with fiber and protein, a comforting autumn dessert, and healthy enough to serve the next day for fruit-nut breakfast oatmeal – re-heated and served with a little milk, cream or almond milk.

Amazing Healthy Skillet Apple Crisp (Wheat, Dairy and Sugar Free)

 

Ingredients for Apple Layer:

2 T. Earth Balance Butter (or regular butter if you are not vegan)

2 T. coconut sugar

2 T. maple syrup

1 t. cinnamon

3 cups fresh organic apple slices,  loosely packed,  ¼ inch  thick, peel left on (This took about 5 small apples, so I imagine 3 or 4 larger apples would do)

2 T. raisins or dried berries

Ingredients for Topping:

1 c. old-fashioned oats

½ c. nuts (I used walnuts)

2 T. hemp, chia or flax seeds

¼ c. coconut oil (or other healthy oil if you do not have coconut oil on hand)

3 T. coconut sugar

¼ t. salt (unless nuts above are salted, then omit)

1 t. cinnamon

1 T. pure maple syrup

Optional: 2 T. Roasted Pumpkin Seeds for garnish (may also use sunflower seeds or slivered almonds)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a 10 inch iron skillet, melt Earth Balance butter over a low flame.  Mix rest of “Ingredients for Apple Layer”  into the melted butter.

Put all “Ingredients for Topping” into a food processor, except the maple syrup.  Process until mixture is crumbly, about the size of Grape Nuts cereal.  Sprinkle over the apples. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of maple syrup over all.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until topping is brown, apples are soft and juices beneath are thick and syrupy.  Top with pumpkin seeds, if desired. Serve plain or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, yogurt or coconut milk-based ice cream.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Healthy Skillet Apple Crisp (Vegan, Wheat, Dairy and Sugar-free)
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-GO
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Pumpkin Pie Dip with “Autumn Leaf” Apples (Vegan)

Pumpkin Pie Dip for “Autumn Leaf” Apples (with Extra Toppings for Double Dipping)

(Becky, the Mama)

Autumn. Nip in the air.  Pumpkin Lattes and Pies. Crisp sweet apples. Back-to-School…..

I was thinking today about the days when my children were young and how hard it was for me to organize my own purse, much less try to get four children enrolled in school.  I remember one day in late August, I took my youngest child Gabe with me to fill out the paperwork required to finish up enrolling his older three siblings in Lone Oak Elementary. I was at the school’s library, sitting in a pint-sized child’s chair, scooted up to a big a round table with a stack of intimidating forms in front of me. I had to concentrate so hard to remember all the kids’ birth dates and Who had What Vaccinations When — all while trying to keep one eye on three-year-old Gabe.  Thankfully, my little boy was keeping himself entertained, quietly roving around looking at the childrens’ books on the shelves.  He wasn’t even pulling them off the shelf, but seemed to be happy just gliding along touching the books.  What a good boy, I thought.

It was only after I finished the final form  and looked up that the truth came into clear focus.  Gabe had found a brand new book of postage stamps in my purse and had been busily licking and sticking all of them to the library shelves, as he quietly walked and browsed.  As an absentminded mom of four, this sort of thing happened with great regularity, which meant I never lacked material for my books,  but also meant I was always exhausted.

To exhausted hard-working mothers of young children everywhere, here’s a hug and a super simple recipe for a Back-to-School pumpkin spice treat that I think you will love as much as your kids will. I’ve seen a few recipes for something similar on Pinterest,  but these recipes call for Cool Whip and powdered pudding mix, and I really try to avoid food with ingredients with alien names I cannot pronounce.

This recipe is creamy and tastes exactly like pumpkin pie, but uses real food, and most of it is good for you! (Bonus: it is also vegan and dairy-free.) The fun thing about this recipe is that you get to “double-dip” your apple slices: once in the pumpkin pie fluff and again in any topping of your choice. (Or for “grown up parties” with less mess, guests can spoon desired toppings over their dipped apples on pretty plates.) I used ground almonds and mini-chocolate chips, but you could use coconut flakes, hemp seeds, crushed cereal, granola, or finely chopped (or ground) candied ginger. So many possibilities, probably sitting on your pantry shelves right now!

A word about this recipe: It uses canned coconut milk, and it needs to be the full fat kind, preferably organic – the type that separates into a solid lump cream and liquid in the can.   I’ve found that I can just shake the can when I’m at the grocery store (typically coconut milk is on the Asian aisle) next to my ear, and if it does not slosh, then it has already separated and is exactly what I want!  I always keep a couple of cans in the fridge so that they are ready for whipping and serving in a variety of recipes, such as this one. I actually prefer it to “cow cream,” even though I am not on a dairy-free or vegan diet. You can serve this fruit dip right away, but it will get creamier and fluffier in texture if you refrigerate for an hour or so before serving.

Pumpkin Pie Dip for “Autumn Leaf” Apples

Makes 1 ½ cups

Ingredients:

1 can organic whole fat coconut milk, divided — separate “cream” from “milk” (Thai Kitchen, ORGANIC,  not “lite” brand always works for me and is readily available in most regular grocery stores in the Asian aisle.)

1/2 cup mashed cooked pumpkin – fresh or from a can

2 t. pumpkin pie spice (or 1 t. cinnamon plus ½ t. nutmeg and ½ t. ginger, 1/4 t. ground cloves)

1 t. vanilla

½ t. salt

3 T. brown sugar

2 t. maple syrup

Extra cinnamon for sprinkling on top (Saigon cinnamon is especially good)

Some of the ingredients that go into this wonderful pumpkin spice dip

Small cups of toppings of your choice for “double-dipping” apple slices: mini–chocolate chips, ground or finely chopped nuts,  seeds (hemp, sesame, pumpkin, sunflower), coconut, crushed graham crackers or cereal…use your imagination and what is in your pantry!

Sliced apples for dipping, about one apple per person. (An assortment of Green and Red and Yellow apple slices are so pretty on a plate — looks a little like autumn leaves.)

Directions:

Using a mixer, whip the solidified “cream” part of out of the can of cold, full fat coconut milk. Add the pumpkin and whip again until creamy. Slowly pour in the leftover liquid coconut “milk” from the can, continuing to mix until you have a consistency for the dip that you like. (If you are going to refrigerate this before serving, remember the dip will “set up” and become thicker as it gets colder, so you may want to use all the liquid in the can. If you are in a hurry and want to serve right away, you may not want to use much of the liquid.) Add the remaining ingredients. Sprinkle the top of the dip with cinnamon and gently swirl with a knife.  Put in the fridge for an hour before serving, if you have the will power to resist eating it all right away, so the coconut milk will stiffen up a bit and yield a fluffier thicker dip.

For kids: Serve with a colorful array of sliced apples (you can call them “Autumn Leaves”) and small cups of toppings for “double dipping.”  It will be a little messy, but this is part of the fun for kids. Fun treat for after school snacking, Halloween and Fall Festivals, or Thanksgiving dessert.

For grown-ups: For a less messy, more sophisticated way to serve — put little spoons in each of the cups of toppings and encourage “sprinkling” the toppings over the dipped-in-pumpkin pie dip apples, on their individual party plates. You can let grown ups use forks to spear the apples for dipping as well, if you prefer.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Pumpkin Pie Dip for Apples
The URL:http://wp.me/p1UwM9-G1
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Broiled Fresh Peaches with Gorgonzola and Honey

Broiled Peaches with Gorgonzola and Honey

(Becky, the Mama)

So much to learn, so many creative foods and wines to try, so many wonderful chefs, photographers and food bloggers to meet at the Foodista sponsored conference (International Food Bloggers) in Portland last week. I have unpacked my suitcase stuffed with notes and free goodies, but it will take a month to unpack my brain and apply what I’ve learned. Andrew Scrivani, New York Times food photographer, gave us dozens of practical tips I cannot wait to try. (Be sure to click on Andrew’s name if you love food photography. If you aren’t hungry now, you will be soon.) In my photo above, you’ll notice the honey dripping slowly from the honey dipper. Who knew that drips and drops makes food look more tantalizing? Well, now I do. I also know that I probably need to upgrade from my $99.00 hot pink Samsung digital camera to a pricey grown up camera sometime in the near future. Sigh.

Another highlight for me, besides the chance to be with my darlin’ daughter Rachel, adorable grandbaby Jackson, and fabulous editor, Carolyn McCready, was to meet some bloggers and food authors I’ve admired. I had just listened to the audio tape of the book Kitchen Counter Cooking School (dubbed as Michael Pollan meets “What Not to Wear”), loved it and recommended it to many.  How fun to meet Kathleen Flinn, the book’s author, in person.  I’ve written dozens of books, but I still get starstruck when I meet an author-in-the-flesh whose work I admire. Kathleen was gracious, down-to-earth and charming. Be sure to click on her name to get more details about her life and books.

You may wonder if I was able to pull off this fairly new role as “professional food blogger” without being detected as the messy, clutzy amateur cook that I actually am. In two words: not really.

I’m not a fan of mingling, so I took a deep breath to suck in all the courage in the air, then entered the huge, elegant wine tasting party bustling with eager bloggers. Pausing near the door, I bravely introduce myself to a cheerful foodie. We exchanged business cards, just before someone informed me I was leaning on the light switches and had turned off all the lights in the room. I smiled weakly, and headed straight for a table of pinot noir, sipped a bit too eagerly, and began to choke so badly that I had to exit the room to the hallway to finish my coughing fit in private. When I looked up, there were two friendly and colorful conferees there, both offering to give me the Heimlich should I need it. Serendipitously, they turned out to be two of my favorite people at the conference. Some people, I hear, gracefully meet and greet their way around a room full of new people. I found that turning off all the lights, then choking and running out in the hallway also works as an attention-getting alternative.

The last evening of the conference was a Farm to Table dinner where beautiful local fresh food was served up on elegant platters, family style, around tables of eight. The food and the company were both amazing.

Pretty Vegan Appetizer of risotto, white asparagus, beets and pesto

Me, Rachel & Carolyn ready to dig in to the Farm to Table Meal at International Food Bloggers Conference

Here’s a peek at the menu.

My favorite was the grilled yellow watermelon and the buttery blackberry shortcake.

Inspired by the simple but flavorful use of fresh local fruits and cheeses and honeys, I came home and invented this easy, elegant sweet-savory recipe using tree-ripened peaches (broiled with just a touch of butter and sprinkle of brown sugar and sea salt), soft pungent Gorgonzola and silky sweet honey. It makes for a pretty appetizer or dessert, especially tasty on a summer eve with a glass of wine.

And you know that if this clutzy cook can make this dish – anyone can!

This is Jackson, exhausted after 5 days of food, fun and family in Portland. His mother and I felt the very same way!

The Littlest Foodie of the Family, Worn Out from All the Fun!

Broiled Peaches with Gorgonzola and Honey

Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 fresh peaches, cut in half, pitted

1 oz. soft Gorgonzola or blue cheese

2 t. butter

Pinch sea salt

Pinch brown sugar

3 T. honey

Directions:

Put Oven on Broil.

Place peaches cut side up in a square Pyrex pan.  Put 1/2 t. butter in peach pit indention.  Sprinkle tops of peaches with tiny pinch of salt and sugar.  Broil the peaches about 4 inches from heat source until the tops turn golden brown in spots.  Serve each person two peaches, pour any juices in pan over them. Dot the tops of the peaches with soft crumbles of Gorgonzola or blue cheese.  Drizzle peaches evenly with honey.

Vegan Option: Substitute  Earth Balance for butter and  finely chopped cashews for cheese.

Other Options:  Try this method with other juicy fruits (apricots, pineapple, plums) and other soft or crumbly cheeses.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook

The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com

The Title: Broiled Fresh Peaches with Gorgonzola and Honey

The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-EN

© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved