Vegan Mini-Chutney & Cocowhip “Pies”
Ready in a (Ginger)Snap

These pretty little mini-pies make holiday pie “baking” a snap. A gingersnap.

I am so happy to share this cheater “recipe” with you, the brain child of my good friend, Mary Beth Watson. It is really just a 3-ingredient lickity-split process.

After one bite, no one will care how little time you spent laboring in your kitchen.

Ingredients:

Anna’s or your favorite brand crispy scalloped (preferably) vegan gingersnaps

Chutney (apple-pecan or, for Christmas, cranberry-orange-walnut “sauce” works nicely)

So Delicious brand Cocowhip or your favorite vegan whipped cream

To make each mini-pie, top one gingersnap with a spoonful of chutney followed by a dollop of Cocowhip. That’s it! Make as many or as few as you need just before serving time.

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Day 8: Pear-Rum Cupcakes with Tea-Infused Buttercream Frosting–“Cooking ‘The Blooming Platter Cookbook’ Julie & Julia Style

Pear Cupcakes(A sequential installment from Kim Hastings, my photographer friend and, along with her vet husband, owner of Independence Veterinary Hospital, who decided on her own to cook her way through The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes Julie & Julia Style for her omnivorous family as a strategy for more healthy eating.)

Today was a total girls’ day with my little grand daughter Henley. We spent the morning baking these awesome little cupcakes and then went shopping for clothes. After years of raising boys, this is a new experience for me and I love it.

I chose Pear-Rum Cupcakes with Tea-Infused Buttercream Frosting. So, as instructed, I prepared the tea bags and cream the evening before while I was making my own tea. Today I started the batter right when little one went down for a nap hoping she would stay down long enough for me to get them in the oven.

I started reading the recipe and really??? Again with the food processor?! I swear if a certain vegan chef and cookbook author was stranded on a deserted tropical island and could only take one kitchen gadget, it would be the food processor! So here we go again. I’m really thankful little Henley is sleeping so she doesn’t hear some of the words that always fly out of my mouth when I use my processor.

I have to admit I analyzed the recipe trying to find another way but I have to give in on this one. No other gadget that I own would be the same and I didn’t want to screw it up. Because we are not a vegan household, I confess I used white flour, white sugar, and whole milk. Aside from that I followed the recipe – winky face. I admit the part where you add baking soda to the vinegar was so fun I thought I was back in grade school building a volcano as a school project. I decided on mini cupcakes because I know myself too well. I never finish a whole cupcake although I will eat all the icing – so really a lot like a three year old.

Henley with FrostingLuckily for me they came out of the oven right before Henley woke up, so she got to help me with the frosting. She especially loved the decorating and the taste testing. That was her favorite part of the day. Shhh! Please don’t tell her mom and dad!!! So here’s the results… I thought the cake part was fresh tasting and not too sweet but I thought the frosting was too sweet so I added a little salt to it. Then I realized that together they are perfect.

My husband is not a big dessert eater but he loved the cake after he scraped off the frosting. My youngest son got so excited seeing cupcakes on the counter when he got home from school. He asked what kind they were and without thinking I said pear. I forgot pears are his least favorite fruit. So he loved the frosting and left the cake…much like how I eat cupcakes! I sent a dozen to work after lunch and my other son texted me “THEY ARE VEGAN!” the minute he saw them. Remember…vegan phobic family. I texted back ” No they aren’t. I used whole milk and white flour.” Still he insisted they tasted “vegan”. Whatever. It’s ok because little Henley was a huge fan and it was our special day.

~Kim Howard Hastings

Kim Hastings

 

 

 

 

[Betsy’s note: white flour is vegan–just not particularly nutritious–and white sugar is, though sometimes animal bone char is used to refine it.]

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Day 4: Vegan Apple Peanut Butter Streusel Pie–Cooking “The Blooming Platter Cookbook” Julie & Julia Style


Valentines Pie(A sequential installment from Kim Hastings, my photographer friend and, along with her vet husband, owner of Independence Veterinary Hospital, who decided on her own to cook her way through The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes Julie & Julia Style for her omnivorous family as a strategy for more healthy eating.)

 

I decided to pick a dessert to celebrate Valentine’s Day so I chose the Apple Peanut Butter Streusel Pie. It was this and a clean garage for my man – strange how “gifts” evolve over 22 years of marriage!

I started reading through and it mentions the use of a food processor. Now it is a widely known fact in my home that I absolutely HATE my food processor. Just can’t stand it. My husband feels like I am totally irrational on this point. I admit my first excuse is lame. I tell him there are so many pieces to wash. He points out that we have a dishwasher. Ok true. Then I show him how I can’t seem to ever lock it in without a huge fight. He says…and I love this…”you’re doing it wrong”. So fine…you do it, I say. I cannot tell you the amazing sense of satisfaction I had watching him repeatedly try to lock it into place!! Ahhhhh!! Point made.

When I was very young, my mom taught me how to bake. Basic baking ingredients were affordable and it’s amazing what you can create with flour, sugar, powdered milk and imitation vanilla. If we found a great looking recipe with an ingredient we didn’t have, she would save up and get it for me. So I love to bake for the memories; and for this reason, I am really old school about it. So long story short, it’s a no on the food processor.

This recipe called for coconut oil. Ok that would be under the bathroom counter. I always thought it wWedding Ringsas for making great body scrubs. It never occurred to me to cook with it! I didn’t have enough so I went shopping. While I was standing in front of the overwhelming choices of coconut oils (refined, medium heat, virgin, unrefined) I was so tempted to text Betsy for advice. But seriously, did Julie have an option of texting the great Julia Child? Nope. I’m on my own here, so I chose the virgin, unrefined. It just sounded more vegan to me.

When it came time to make the tart dough, I was skeptical. Coconut oil instead of butter? Surprisingly it really did have the consistency required and it came together perfectly. I pressed it into a heart shaped pan but the sides kept slipping down so I gave up on that and just stuck it in the oven.

With the coconut oil out I just couldn’t resist giving my dry winter hands a spa treatment so I made a quick lemon sugar scrub in the palm of my hand. What could be better? Baking and a spa treatment!! Instant stress relief.

Everything else was a breeze and I was in my element. It was beautiful right out of the oven. I even sprinkled some red sugar over it for a more festive look.

Even though I was super careful to hide the coconut oil and the organic peanut butter, my men were circling it like a pack of wolves – going in, examining it, sniffing it and backing out again. What the hell guys! It’s just heart shaped!! Do they per chance suspect vegan?? Has my cover been blown so early in the game??

So here are the results. My husband kept shaking his head saying it needed more peanut butter (seriously I think he just meant it lacked Jif, his favorite), but he liked the crust saying it tasted like the apples. My son will eat anything and gave it a thumbs up on his way out the door. I, unlike my husband, tasted tons of peanut butter, but I must confess I really missed the butter in the crust and the topping. I do love the fact that the apples were sautéed before going into the oven. Overall thumbs up but sorry, I have to use butter next time. I sure will miss my hand scrub though.

~Kim Howard Hastings

Kim Hastings

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Festive Vegan Wine-Poached Pears with Wine Reduction, Coconut Cream, and Pomegranate Garnish

Wine Poached Pears with Coconut Cream SauceSince my husband passed away on July 30, I don’t eat or cook as much as I once did.  But when I do, I try to make it extra-special as with this beautifully festive, deeply flavorful, but not-too-sweet dessert.

It is liable to be the prettiest guest with the best taste at your holiday table.

Wine Poached Pears

1 bottle (750 ml) vegan shiraz or other red wine (check out Barnivore for a nice list)

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 medium orange, cut into 6 slices

1 cinnamon stick

1/2 cup sugar (I use demerera)

4 tablespoons maple syrup, divided

4 ripe pears, preferably with stems on for best eye-appeal

Coconut Cream (recipe follows)

Pomegranate seeds (life is too short–and, trust me, I know, to seed a pomegranate, so I buy the seeds in a carton; but here are simple directions for seeding your own)

Optional garnish: 4 star anise pods

Place all ingredients, except 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, in a large (4 quart) pot, partially covered, and bring to a simmer over medium-high.  Meanwhile, cut a thin slice from the bottom of each pear so that it will sit upright.  Using a mellon baller, core from the bottom to remove seeds and any membrane.  Then carefully place each pear, on its side, into the simmering wine and simmer about 25 minutes, turning after 10 to 15 minutes, or until very tender but not breaking down. Adjust heat, if necessary, to maintain a perky simmer.  Remove pears to a container or serving platter.

Add remaining 2 tablespoons maple syrup to poaching liquid, orange slices and cinnamon stick and boil, uncovered, until reduced by about half.  Liquid should be syrupy but pourable and will thicken as it cools.

For each serving, place an orange slice on each dessert plate, top with a pear, and spoon some of the red wine reduction over the top and around the base.  Follow with the Cococnut Cream.  Garnish with a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds and, if desired, a star anise pod.

 

Coconut Cream:

1 cup coconut cream (1/2 of 15.5 ounce can; note: if cream and liquid are separated, remove both, whisk or process together, and measure out 1 cup, refrigerating remainder for another use)

1 tablespoon sugar (I use demerera)

1 tablespoon maple syrup

Seeds of 1 vanilla bean pod (or 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract)

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Zest of 1/2 lemon

Place all ingredients, except lemon zest, in small microwave safe bowl, whisk together, and heat for 2 to 3 minutes in 1-minute increments, whisking after each, until thickened to a sauce consistency.  Whisk in lemon zest.

 

 

 

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Sharon Tanner’s (Veganized) Fruitcake–This is NOT your grandma’s fruitcake!

Yield:  3-6 x 3.5 loafs

Sharon's Vegan Fruitcake 2Forget everything you thought you knew about fruitcakes, the cake everyone loves to hate…

To say this is the best fruitcake I have ever eaten would not be saying much…you’ve heard the joke about there being only one fruitcake in the world and it is just passed around year after year?

However, this indescribably moist cake may be one of the Top 5 cakes I have ever eaten, period.  Okay, maybe 10 ’cause there are a lot of delectable cakes out there.  But this one is like no other.

My dear friend, Sharon Tanner, an excellent cook, and her brother, with professional cooking experience, decided one year that, surely, there had to be a way to make a fruitcake that people would actually wanted to eat.  I mean, come on, why should fruit, nuts, flour, sugar, etc. not taste delicious in combination?  So they began experimenting and arrived at a recipe so intensely delicious–it packs a wallop as she says–that they even considered selling them at one time.  I, for one, would line up to purchase.

Instead, though, she generously shared her recipe with me and gave me permission to share with you.  Originally, the cake was not vegan, but she asked me how I would veganize it so that she could make me and a couple of other friends mini-loaves.  I recommended that, for every egg, she substitute 1/4 cup moisture of some kind, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda.  She did, using her homemade apple butter (apple butter contains no “butter”) as the moisture, though it is readily available in grocery stores.  Butter was never an issue because, according to Sharon, “eliminating butter makes the cakes better, denser and they hold their shape and slice much better.”  When all is said and done, there is no way the non-vegan version could be any better than this vegan one.

What’s the secret?  There are a few.  One is that this cake contains NO candied or crystalized fruit nor maraschino cherries.  Nada.  But it is chock full of dried fruits, which points to another secret: a combination of various dried fruits for subtle flavor notes.  And the second is the amount of nuts and, again, the variety of types.  Sharon recommends “Cherries, cranberries, raisins, dates, prunes, pineapple, blueberries, apricots in any combination. I think it’s best heavy on the cherries and should include pineapple.  Mixed nuts can be heavy on walnuts, but can include pecans, almonds and Brazil nuts.”

So, with no further ado…ta-da, a fruitcake that will have ’em beggin’ for more!

3 cups dried (not candied!) fruit, finely chopped
2 1/2 to 3 cups mixed nuts, finely chopped
3/4 cup flour
3/4 sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 cup apple butter with spices (prepared or homemade)
1 tablespoon of vanilla
4 to 6 tablespoons rum, divided
Note: fruit and nut pieces should be slightly smaller than a pencil eraser, according to SHaron.
Line 3-6 x 3.5″ loaf pans with greased parmchment paper and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine dried fruits and nuts.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda.  Sprinkle over fruits and nuts, toss to combine, and then fold in apple butter and vanilla.  It will eventually all stick together, but you may sprinkle in a touch of water if needed to help all of the ingredients combine, as the batter is very forgiving.  Moisten hands with water and press 1/3 of the batter into each pan.  Bake 50 to 60 minutes; the cakes will puff a bit and then settle as they cool.  Once they have cooled enough to handle, remove them from the pans, and douse them with 2 tablespoons rum on all sides.   Wrap well in waxed paper, leave unrefrigerated, and in about 2 days, unwrap and douse them again with 2 more tablespoons of rum, making sure to soak the bottoms, as well.  If possible, 2 days later, unwrap and do a third and final dousing of rum, rewrap, and then serve the next day or shortly thereafter.  Delicious served at room temperature or slightly heated.  Note:  one of Sharon’s friend’s mother recommends using apple brandy instead of rum and keeping a slice of raw apple wrapped for a bit with each cake.
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Creamy Vegan Cantaloupe-Coconut Cream Sorbet–as simple as it is sweet!

Cantaloupe SorbetYield: 1 quart

Tomorrow night is our much anticipated annual Julia Child Birthday Bash.  This sophisticated French potluck dinner brings out the best in our foodie friends each year and I can hardly wait for the parade of beautiful people and food to begin.

Among my contributions will be this sorbet inspired by a MS grown cantaloupe that a friend of my parents’  brought to them when I was visiting there last week.  I like cantaloupe fine, but “don’t wake up screamin’ for it,” as my father would say.  That one, however…wow!  It was so creamy and delicious that it tasted like ice cream with a mouthfeel to match.  I knew at that moment, that I would come home to try my hand at a vegan sorbet, as the “rules” of the party are that all food must be either made from a Julia Child recipe or French-inspired.  Sorbet fits the bill perfectly.

I am so glad that I made it for a party, as I might just polish off the whole carton if we weren’t expecting guests!

Note:  make this sorbet 1-2 days before you plan to serve it, as the base needs to chill and the ice cream is best of allowed to ripen.

1 medium-large cantaloupe, halved, seeded, and flesh scooped out with a spoon, divided

1/4 cup arrowroot starch

1–15 ounce can Cream of Coconut (Coco Lopez is a common brand sold where drink mixers are sold; not coconut milk or coconut creamer)

Juice of 1 large lime

Place flesh from one half of cantaloupe in food processor and process until smooth.  Strain into a medium bowl, return any large pieces to processor, and whisk 1/4 cup arrowroot starch into the puree.  Process remaining half of cantaloupe with Cream of Coconut until very smooth.  Strain  into a 4-quart saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.  (Pop any large unprocessed pieces right into your mouth!)  Remove from heat and immediately whisk in cantaloupe-arrowroot mixture.  Allow to cool, whisk in lime juice, and then chill several hours or overnight, covered.  Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions; this took about 40 minutes in my Cuisinart.  Serve  immediately or scrape into a covered carton and freeze to allow to ripen until serving time.

 

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Vegan Bananas Foster Ice Cream with Caramelized Pecans (So Delicious and Go Dairy Free Spring Fling Dairy-Free Recipe Contest Entry!)

Bananas Foster Ice CreamYield: 1 quart

Just in time for Memorial Day menu planning, I am excited to offer you my newest creation: Bananas Foster Ice Cream with Caramelized Pecans!

Growing up in the Deep South, only about a three-hour drive from New Orleans, I was weened on the historic French Quarter and it’s legendary cuisine.  My parents honeymooned there, as did my husband and I, and we returned to the Creole capital to host my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, among many other trips in the distant and recent past.

Favorite French Quarter-steeped memory fragments abound, many having to do with food, like, as a fairly young child, trying to act completely nonchalant  as Bananas Foster and Cherries Jubliee burst into flames on rolling carts tended by tuxedoed waiters throughout Brennan’s dining rooms.  I guess I wanted fellow diners to think that flambeed desserts were a nightly affair back home.

For some inexplicable reason, I recently became obsessed with the idea of Bananas Foster in the form of ice cream–since it is served over vanilla ice cream–to combat our already high 80 to 90-degree days.  Sure, recipes on the internet abound–though few that are vegan–but I love a challenge, so I had to create my own…and I’m so glad I did.

Using canned Coconut Cream and So Delicious Coconut Creamer as the ice cream base makes this recipe go together in a flash.  And the few minutes it takes to caramelize the bananas are more than worth it.  While traditional Bananas Foster does not call for pecans, I associate them with Creole and Cajun cooking, so I caramelized some in the syrupy goodness left clinging to the skillet, and I’m really glad that I made this ever-so-slight break with tradition.  I think you will be too!

Make this ice cream a day or two before you plan to serve it, as the mixture must be well-chilled before making the ice cream, and the ice cream must set up in the freezer before serving.

3 tablespoons vegan butter

1/3 cup natural sugar

3 small bananas (about 3/4 pound), peeled, and sliced into 1-inch pieces

Pinch sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup raw pecan pieces

1 can Cream of Coconut (NOT coconut creamer; this product is canned and sold near adult drink mixers; Coco Lopez is a popular brand)

1 cup So Delicious Coconut Creamer

3 tablespoons coconut rum (or plain rum)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Optional Garnish: a sprinkle of pecan pieces

Melt butter in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Add sugar, and cook for about 2-3 minutes or until thickened and caramel-y.  Add bananas and cinnamon and cook, stirring frequently, for up to 10 minutes or until the caramel is very thick and bananas very tender and coated with the caramel.  Reduce heat if necessary.  Scrape pan out well into the bowl of a food processor.  Return pan to heat, add pecans, and toast, stirring constantly for 3-5 minutes or until lightly toasted.  Reduce heat if necessary.  Transfer to a covered container and reserve.  Process banana mixture with cream of coconut until creamy and very smooth.  Transfer to a bowl, and whisk in Coconut Creamer, coconut rum, and vanilla extract, and process until very smooth.  Cool and refrigerate, covered, several hours or overnight until very cold.  Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions, swirling in pecans when ice cream is almost ready.  Transfer ice cream into a carton, cover, and freeze for several hours or until firm.  The texture will be delectably soft, but will hold its shape.

Spring Fling Dairy-Free Recipe Contest - $1000 Grand Prize; Two $250 Runner-Up Prizes

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Vegan Red Wine Poached Pears with Cream Cheese-Orange Filling and Red Wine Reduction

Poached Pears 3The weather has been like no other winter here in Eastern, VA, so, while I made these pears quite a while ago, sunshine and my schedule did not coalesce until yesterday for me to photograph or I would have posted well before now so that if you, too, were gifted with a box of Harry & David Pears, you would have a new and delicious way to serve them.

It was a gift of these pears sent also to my parents by my cousin (he sent mine much later due to a snafu of some sort) and my mom’s craving that resulted in this recipe.  The cream-cheese orange filling makes them extra special and extra pretty.

Hopefully, now that the winter holidays are well behind us, you can enjoy this recipe with the crop of summer pears.

Hey, did you know those Harry & David pear crates make ideal tree ornament storage boxes?

Pears and Red Wine Reduction:

6 large pears (about 8 ounces each), halved lengthwise, stemmed and cored using a melon-baller or small spoon

2 cups Burgundy wine

1/4 cup sugar

1 large orange, zested (reserve zest), halved, and then sliced into 1/2-inch slices

3 cinnamon sticks

Combine wine and sugar in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Add pears, cut side down, and then tuck orange slices and cinnamon sticks between them.  Bring to a simmer and poach for 10 minutes on one side; gently flip, and poach 10 minutes on the other side.   Arrange in a serving dish or on individual plates or bowls, cut side up.  Place a dollop of filling in the hollow left when the core was removed, drizzle with Red Wine Reduction, and serve.

 

Vegan Cream Cheese-Orange Filling:

8 ounces vegan cream cheese such as *Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese

2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Reserved orange zest

In  small bowl using a fork, mash together cream cheese and sugar.  When almost smooth, incorporate vanilla extract and zest.

 

*You can also find this recipe HERE on the Tofutti website!

 

 

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Countdown to Thanksgiving–Day #1: Apple, Pear and Dried Apricot Crisp with Chai-Scented Streusel

Apple-Pear-and-Dried-Apricot-Crisp-with-Chai-Scented-Streusel-ToppingSomehow it happened yet again this year: Thanksgiving is only one day away!

I saved the sweetest for last: this simple crisp with a twist in the form of the Chai spices in the streusel.

It goes together in a snap and disappears even faster.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

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