Galette-Style Plum Pie (Whole Wheat + Vegan)


Project Pie: I'll be baking 24 pies before Pi Day 2016 to get over my fear of baking pies. And to eat delicious things. You can join me by posting about your pies in the comments or tagging your twitter, instagram, or facebook posts with #projectpie. Make something scrumptious and gooey!

I’m supposed to be getting better at this, right? Pie #13 is supposed to roll out more easily, taste more amazing, smell more inviting than Pie #1?

Ah, the infernal “supposed to.”

How many times has it stopped me (you?) in my (your?) tracks? 

This isn’t working the way it’s supposed to, I’ve said. I must be doing it wrong. I must not be the right person for this. This must not be the right time, the right place, the right reason, the right anything.

What would it look like if I could let go of “supposed to”?

If, when this crust was miserably difficult to roll out and stuck to the butcher-block countertop, I had thought, “How funny! Look at what’s happening this time!” and laughed and chalked it up to experience?

In yoga and meditation, teachers always talk about curiosity versus judgment. The idea is to notice what is happening in your body or your mind without placing any value judgments on it. For instance, I might say, I’m not that good at meditating. I always have such a hard time staying focused on what I’m doing. Or, instead, I could say I often have a lot of thoughts while meditating. I wonder why?

One sets me up for a feeling of failure. The other opens the door to more exploration, to trying again.

If I were not committed to making 24 pies, I would likely quit after the last few. I’m having a terrible time with the crusts. They stick. They fall apart. They’re not supposed to.


I’ve been using a lot of different crust recipes lately, trying things out. Some of them are challenging! When I used a totally new recipe while on vacation in an unfamiliar kitchen and with a wine bottle as a rolling pin, the crust was extra challenging. How interesting. I wonder how it would have been if I’d been making it at home. Or in the food processor?

Anne over at Modern Mrs. Darcy wrote recently about a spirit of experimentation as a way to work through perfectionism.

“When I try an experiment, success is getting an outcome. Any outcome. The goal is to get results, not a win.”

I loved that. I’ve been experimenting with it myself. I often fall back into the “supposed to” of perfectionism (how interesting!), so this conversation about letting go of how I think something should go and noticing how it is going has become a mainstay in my internal dialogue.

This pie was no exception.

The results of my experiment?

Crust: Challenging to roll out; delicious flavor; nice crumble
Filling: Challenging to peel plums; yummy combo of sweet and tart; pleasing texture
Katie: Frustrated with dough and plums; practiced deep breathing; ate whole piece of pie




Galette-Style Plum Pie
Adapted from First Prize Pies


2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup Earth Balance, frozen and cut into ½ inch pieces
1/4-1/2 cup ice water

1. Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl. 
2. Add the frozen Earth Balance chunks to the flour mixture. Cut it into the dry ingredients by chopping vigorously with a pastry blender or cutting it with two knives. Work quickly so the butter does not melt. Make sure you are getting all the flour off the bottom of the bowl. Stop when the mixture has some pea-sized pieces and is mostly a consistency of dry, coarse crumbs, like cornmeal. 
3. Drizzle the ice water over the top, starting with ¼ cup. Using the blade side of a rubber spatula, cut into the mixture until it is evenly moistened and small balls begin to form. If balls of dough stick together, you're done. If they don't, drizzle 1-2 more tablespoons of water at a time over the top, cutting with the rubber spatula each time and then testing to see if the dough sticks together. 
4. Press the dough together until it forms a ball. It should be rough, not smooth. Press into a flat, round disk. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. You can refrigerate for up to several days. 


2-3 pounds ripe plums, pitted, peeled, and sliced
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil and prepare a bowl of ice water.
2. With a small knife, make a shallow X in the bottom of each plum.
3. Place the plums in the boiling water for 45-60 seconds or until the skin of the plums begins to pucker and pull away from the X.
4. Remove the plums from the boiling water and place them immediately into the bowl of ice water.
5. When the plums have cooled, peel the skin off with your fingers and slice the plums, removing the pits.
6. In a mixing bowl, mix together the sliced plums, honey, and vanilla.
7. In a separate small bowl, mix together the last three filling ingredients.

Putting it Together

1. Remove the crust dough from the freezer and roll out into a large round disc, about ¼ inch thick and 5-6 inches wider than your pie plate.
2. Place the crust into the pie plate.
3. Mix together the dry cornstarch mix and the plum mixture.
4. Pour the mixture into the crust, and loosely fold over the edges of the pie crust.
5. Place the pie plate on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees, turning once.
6. After 20 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for 35 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the plums are juicy.
7. Allow the pie to cool for at least one hour before serving. 

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Project Pie: Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Pie (Whole Wheat + Vegan)

Project Pie: I'll be baking 24 pies before Pi Day 2016 to get over my fear of baking pies. And to eat delicious things. You can join me by posting about your pies in the comments or tagging your twitter, instagram, or facebook posts with #projectpie. Make something scrumptious and gooey!

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie sounds like the perfect dessert for a Southern luncheon on a summer afternoon, but I didn't have a slice until I was an adult living in New England. I'm not sure I'd ever even heard of rhubarb before a few years ago. 

The notion that this reddish, greenish stalk that looks a lot like celery can, when mixed with sugar, turn into a deliciously sweet confection is a bit magical to me. And when I decided to bake 24 pies, there was absolutely no question that a strawberry rhubarb would be in the mix. 

We haven't grown rhubarb in the garden because apparently it takes over everything, but I do think it would be a good problem to have - Ugh. I have sooo. much. rhubarb. I guess I'll have to make ANOTHER batch of rhubarb jam.  Damn.

You see what I'm saying? 

Instead, I hunted rhubarb this year like a hungry animal, asking everyone I saw with a rhubarb-based treat where they'd gotten theirs. Person after person told me it was from their garden, and it was all gone. I despaired that perhaps there would be no strawberry rhubarb pie for me. 

And then a couple weeks ago my wife called from the co-op and told me there was rhubarb - should she get some? Oh, I despaired. I was leaving for BlogHer in New York that week and wouldn't have time to bake a pie. But would it last while I was gone? Buying rhubarb and having it go bad in my refrigerator would be deeply depressing. I took a gamble and told her not to buy any, hoping there would still be rhubarb at the store when I returned. 

And glory of glories, there was. 

I even have a little left over. Ugh. So much rhubarb. I guess I'll have to make a little rhubarb compote this week. 


Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Pie (Whole Wheat)
Adapted from Strawberry Rhubarb Pie


1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cold Earth Balance (or other non-dairy butter)
1/4 cup shortening, room temperature
1/4 cup ice water

1. Quickly mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl. 
2. Break the shortening into large chunks and cut your butter (from the freezer) into small pieces. Add the butter and shortening to the flour mixture. Cut it into the dry ingredients by chopping vigorously with a pastry blender or cutting it with two knives. Work quickly so the butter does not melt. Make sure you are getting all the flour off the bottom of the bowl. Stop when the mixture has some pea-sized pieces and is mostly a consistency of dry, coarse crumbs, like cornmeal. 
3. Drizzle the ice water over the top. Using the blade side of a rubber spatula, cut into the mixture until it is evenly moistened and small balls begin to form. If balls of dough stick together, you're done. If they don't, drizzle 1-2 more tablespoons of water over the top. 
4. Press the dough together until it forms a ball. It should be rough, not smooth. Press into a flat, round disk. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. You can refrigerate for up to several days. 


3-4 cups rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3-4 cups strawberries, halved
3/4 cup coconut palm sugar (or sub cane sugar)
3 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons Earth Balance (or sub butter), cut into small chunks

1. Mix together the sugar and flour and set aside. 
2. Mix together the rhubarb, strawberries, lemon juice, and Earth Balance and set aside.

Crumb Topping

1/2 cup whole wheat flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons coconut palm sugar (or sub brown sugar)
1/4 cup Earth Balance (or sub butter), melted

1. Mix flour, sugar, and Earth Balance together until crumbly. 

Putting it Together:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 
2. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface, beginning in the center and rolling out from all directions. Roll the dough about 3-4 inches wider than your pie pan.
3. Transfer the dough into your pie pan by rolling it loosely around your rolling pin and then unrolling it into the pie pan. Press the dough over the bottom and into the corners of your pan. Trim the edges of the dough, leaving a 3/4 inch overhang, and then tuck that overhang underneath itself.  
4. Sprinkle the crust with about 1 tablespoon of the sugar and flour mixture.
5. Mix the remaining sugar and flour mixture with the strawberry rhubarb mixture and pour into the pie crust. 
6. Top with the crumble mixture, and place the pie pan on a large baking sheet and into the oven. Bake for 30 minutes.
7. Let cool for 10-15 minutes on a rack. Slice and enjoy.

 p.s. Remember my strawberry basil pie? Yum. 

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Strawberry Basil Pie (Vegan)

Project Pie: I'll be baking 24 pies before Pi Day 2016 to get over my fear of baking pies. And to eat delicious things. You can join me by posting about your pies in the comments or tagging your twitter, instagram, or facebook posts with #projectpie. Make something gooey and delicious!

I should have waited until later in the summer to make this pie, when strawberries are in season and I'll be able to pick pints of them when I pick up my farm share. But what can I say? I'm impatient. I got this pie cookbook at a cute little kitchen store in Saratoga Springs. I was immediately drawn in by the stunning photos and a few of the recipes that looked not only fabulous but also adaptable to our particular dietary needs. 

The book is separated into sections based on season and then further into months. When I told my wife I was going to be making the strawberry basil pie, she asked if I shouldn't wait a little longer, until strawberries are really in season here.

But it's one of the pies for June! I exclaimed. And it's June!

With the cold lingering these last few weeks and me spending most of my time in long sleeves, I'm looking for summer wherever I can get it. And this strawberry basil pie tastes pretty much like summer on a plate. Even warm, its subtle flavors are refreshing and light. If you're a little skeptical of the salad-like ingredients, don't be. The basil, balsamic vinegar, and pepper just provide hints of a more sophisticated flavor and keep the pie from being overly sweet.

And this crust. Yum. 

It's the best one I've made so far, significantly more like pastry dough than my regular go-to pie crust.

I also think the spelled-out method for creating the dough in the food processor was helpful for me to understand exactly when to stop processing. I might try her method with my go-to and see if that results in a flakier crust. 

Vegan Strawberry Basil Pie 
Adapted from First Prize Pies

Cornmeal Crust

1 cup Earth Balance, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
1/2 cup almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour, chilled
3/4 cup cornmeal, chilled
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1. Stir together the milk and vinegar and place in the refrigerator until ready to use. 
2. Fit the food processor with a metal blade and add the dry ingredients, pulsing once to blend. 
3. Take your milk mixture and Earth Balance out of the refrigerator. Pour the Earth Balance into the food processor and turn it on. 
4. After a couple seconds, begin slowly pouring the milk mixture through the feed tube of the food processor. Once the mixture has been added, turn off the processor. 
5. Pour the dough onto plastic wrap, bind it tightly, and refrigerate for at least an hour. (Note: The dough should come together if pressed but will not have formed a ball on its own in the food processor.)


8 cups fresh or frozen strawberries, hulled and halved
10 large basil leaves, sliced very thinly
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
zest of 1 lemon
2/3 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup arrowroot powder (or sub cornstarch)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
Almond milk wash, for glaze
Coconut palm sugar, for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the first 5 ingredients. If you are using frozen strawberries, thaw and drain them prior to mixing. 
3. In a separate bowl, mix together the arrowroot, pepper, and salt. Add this to the strawberry mixture right before adding the filling to the crust.

Putting it together

1. Remove the crust dough from the refrigerator and split in half. Place one half back into the refrigerator and roll the other half into a circle on parchment paper. Transfer it to a 9-inch pie plate and trim the overhang. 
2. Place the pie plate in the refrigerator and take out the other half of the dough. Roll this second half into a circle and cut into six strips. 
3. Pour the strawberry mixture (with the arrowroot mixture added in) into the pie pan and form a lattice on the top. Trim the edges and use a fork to crimp.  Brush the top with almond milk and sprinkle with sugar. 
4. Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, turning once halfway through. 
5. Lower the temperature to 375 degrees and bake for 30 minutes more, or until the crust is golden and the strawberry juices have thickened. Cool on a rack at least an hour before serving. 

Note: Earth Balance and nondairy milk are subbed one-for-one for butter and milk in this recipe - feel free to use dairy ingredients if you can. 

p.s. I'm 8 pies in on my 24 pie challenge. Here's what I've made so far:

Vegetarian Taco Pie with Cornbread Topping

Vegan Maple Pecan Pie

Chicken Pot Pie with Herb Crust

Very Berry Mousse Pie

Passover Chocolate Mousse Pie

Whole Wheat Maple Apple Pie

Vegan Shepherd's Pie

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Project Pie: Vegan Maple Pecan Pie with No Refined Sugar

Project Pie: I'll be baking 24 pies before Pi Day 2016 to get over my fear of baking pies. And to eat delicious things. You can join me by posting about your pies in the comments or tagging your twitter, instagram, or facebook posts with #projectpie. Make something gooey and delicious!

Pecan pie was pretty standard holiday fair in my childhood home. There might be some discussion about whether we added on an apple pie or pumpkin pie (which I didn't like as a kid), but there was no question that twice a year - Thanksgiving and Christmas - my mom would make that sweet, gooey dessert.

One Thanksgiving in high school, I was tasked with putting together the pie - not a difficult job since we used a prepared pie crust and the filling essentially involves mixing a bunch of things together. But it looked funny when I put it into the oven, not quite brown enough. I figured maybe it caramelized in the heat and got that dark rich hue from cooking. Unfortunately, after an hour at 350, it looked even worse, like a puffed up pecan cake inside a pie shell.

"But I did everything the directions said!" I told my mom. She picked up the recipe and scanned it. I looked over her shoulder.

"Oh," I said quietly.

 I looked at her sheepishly. "I put in two cups of flour instead of two tablespoons."

She burst out laughing. "Well that'll do it."

I think we ate it anyway. Perhaps I'd invented some new confectionary delight, and we didn't even realize it.

That was the only time I ever made pecan pie, in part because we had it less as I got older, and in part because I've never made it in my own home.

When I started Project Pie, one of the first pies my wife asked about was pecan. And I told her there was no way I could make a pecan pie that could meet our dietary restrictions. It was all eggs (me) and corn syrup (her). But the idea stuck in my head, and a week ago, I googled "pecan pie without corn syrup" and "maple pecan pie" and "pecan pie flax egg" just to see if anything like that was in the realm of possibility. Turns out, it is. I combined a bunch of different recipes and added in some of my own substitutions, and folks, I am redeemed.

When you bite into a piece of gooey, pecan-y goodness, you can't deny that Southerners know what they're doing. It even works when you change everything up and prepare it with ingredients that would make my grandmother shudder!

Vegan Maple Pecan Pie
Adapted from Epicurious 

One crust (of your choice - this is my go-to*)
2 tablespoons chia seeds, ground
6 tablespoons warm water
1 cup maple syrup
3/4 coconut palm sugar
1 tablespoon flour (I used whole wheat)
3 tablespoons earth balance (or other vegan margarine), melted
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 cup pecan halves for topping (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350, and prepare crust.
2. Mix together ground chia seeds (fresh ground are best, but you can find them pre-ground in some health food stores) and the warm water. Place in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes.
3. Combine the maple syrup, coconut sugar, flour, earth balance, and vanilla in a bowl. Once the chia seeds and water have reached an egg-y consistency, pour them into the maple syrup mixture.
4. Pour the chopped pecans into your pie crust, and top with the maple syrup mixture.
5. Arrange the pecan halves on top and place in the oven on a baking sheet (to catch drips) and bake for 55 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a pie rack to cool.

p.s. Making recipes from my childhood that my wife can eat is my favorite

* I prepared my crust this time by hand instead of in the food processor with this recipe - just to see how that would go. I didn't like it nearly as well - it was dry and crumbly. I did have to roll it out twice because I got it stuck the first time, so perhaps that's what went wrong?

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The Best Roasted Potatoes

Potatoes were not the primary carb in my house growing up, at least not in their whole potato form. We had mashed potatoes (from a box - gasp!) and sometimes potato salad in the summer, but our mainstay starchy deliciousness was rice, a holdover from my parent's Louisiana upbringing where everything is served on top of it (gumbo, etouffee) or mixed with it (jambalaya, red beans and rice).

As a kid, I actually avoided things that tasted too much like potato. Steak fries? Absolutely not. I wanted skinny, crunchy, well-browned strips that may have been a potato in a former life but were by that point simply delicious vessels for grease, salt, and mustard (never been a ketchup fan). And whole baked potatoes, which I loved, were in my favorite foods index simply because I slathered them in butter, sour cream, gooey cheese, and bacon. Without those "toppings," I wasn't all that interested.

So it took me a while to get into roasted potatoes. The first time I ordered hash browns alongside my omelet and found myself looking at diced potatoes instead of the familiar shredded Waffle House-style pile, I contemplated sending the plate back. What were these? Roasted potatoes? Masquerading as hash browns?

But as my brunch tooth grew (and grew and grew), I started to warm to these perfectly spiced, crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside roasted potatoes. Those were the keys. They had to be spiced well - salted, maybe with a little spice, or an italian kick. They had to be crunchy on the outside. Soggy roasted potatoes are just a nonstarter. But crunchy all the way through won't work either. It's a delicate balance.

And this recipe from Emeril's Farm to Fork is that balance. They are perfect. Every. Time.

I've used russet potatoes, fingerling potatoes, sweet potatoes, those little round red potatoes. I've cut them in large chunks for dinner and diced them for breakfast. They are fabulous without fail.

I have made them so many times that I don't even use the recipe anymore, though the cookbook falls open to that exact page. Because I love thyme so much, I've added in a lot more than the original recipe, and I think that's part of what makes them my absolute favorite.

These are a teensy bit of extra work, but they are entirely worth it.

Roasted Potatoes
Very slightly adapted from Farm to Fork

2 pounds potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt (I use whatever I have)
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 bay leaves
6 sprigs thyme
2 heaping tablespoons fresh thyme
3 sprigs rosemary
2 tablespoons butter (I use earth balance)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Slice the potatoes into whatever size you want them - I usually quarter a fingerling potato. Remember to adjust your cooking time if you go very small or very big.
3. In a medium bowl add the olive oil, salt, paprika, pepper, bay leaves, thyme, and rosemary. Add the potatoes and toss thoroughly, making sure all the potatoes are covered.
4. Place the sprigs on a rimmed baking sheet and pour the potatoes on top. Set the bowl aside.
5. Roast the potatoes for 20 minutes.
6. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and pour the potatoes and herbs into the bowl you set aside earlier. Add the butter (or earth balance) and toss well until melted.
7. Carefully return the potatoes to the hot baking sheet. Roast for another 15-20 minutes or until fork-tender. Discard the herb sprigs and serve.

p.s. My wife wanted me to start this post with AAAAAAAHHHH!!! THESE POTATOES ARE AMAZING!! AAAAAAAAH!!!!

p.s.s. My mama's peach cobbler, vegan-style.

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Vegan Caprese Skewers

You would think that, as a sometimes food blogger, potlucks would be my jam. I'd show up with something amazingly delicious, and everyone would ooh and ah as they took seconds and asked for the recipe.

But you'd be wrong.

I do have a friend who shows up to every potluck with an incredible dish - usually some sort of scrumptious dessert - that took hours to make and meets everyone's dietary restrictions, of which there are usually a significant handful. My salivary glands start working overtime as soon as she walks in the door, and I'm never disappointed.

I, on the other hand, usually show up late carrying a grocery bag with a loaf of bread and a container of herbed goat cheese. Seriously, that's my go-to buy-it-on-the-way potluck presentation.

I love to cook, but I am super temperamental about it. And, as it happens, a potluck invitation almost never coincides with my urge to make something delicious. Instead, I remember the night before and have a conversation with my wife where she suggests multiple things I could make; I reject them all as too time-consuming, too difficult, not tasty enough; we end up stopping at the store on the way there; and I apologize profusely to the host for failing to prepare something special for the occasion.

So what's the problem? It's not that people don't love bread and goat cheese. They do. It's always gone by the time I leave.

It's just that I do actually enjoy sharing yummy food with friends. But I have potluck anxiety - like the test anxiety that afflicted me in my 7th grade algebra class.

Because I think of myself as someone who makes yummy food, a potluck (which, let's face it, is basically a competition to see who can bring the most delicious thing) fills me with dread and an overwhelming case of procrastination.

As such, I've essentially opted out of the high stakes potluck game by bringing store-bought food. 

Like I said before, though - I actually do enjoy preparing food and sharing it with friends. I just need to start small to overcome my potluck anxiety. These vegan caprese skewers are super simple, and yet they pack a flavorful enough punch and look cute enough that I'm happy to carry them into a friend's house, even if I know I won't be getting any medals for most amazing dish.

You have to start where you are. 

Vegan Caprese Skewers

1 container grape tomatoes
1 jar (or can) hearts of palm 
1 bunch basil 
cocktail skewers or toothpicks
balsamic vinegar (optional)

1. Slice the hearts of palm into 1/2 inch thick circles, and remove basil leaves from the stalk. 
2. Fold a basil leaf in half or thirds and slide onto a toothpick, followed by a circle of hearts of palm, and a grape tomato. Continue with the rest of your skewers.
3. If you want a little more flavor, drizzle with balsamic vinegar right before serving. 

Just to blow your mind: You can also make these for yourself, no potluck necessary. I made them and put them in the refrigerator, giving us a healthy and delicious snack for the week (that we ate in 36 hours). 

p.s. Pistachio and coconut stuffed dates - another quick recipe that is deliciously potluck-worthy.

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Project Pie: Passover Chocolate Mousse Pie

Project Pie: I'll be baking 24 pies before Pi Day 2016 to get over my fear of baking pies. And to eat delicious things. You can join me by posting about your pies in the comments or tagging your twitter, instagram, or facebook posts with #projectpie. Make something gooey and delicious!

This chocolate velvet pie is my wife's favorite dessert. It comes with those special feelings that holiday baked goods always have, and it gets bonus points for being adaptable. My mother-in-law served it the first time I spent Passover with Navah's family, and I've made it almost every year since then for Navah's birthday - even with all the various eating restrictions we've worked with over time.

Unfortunately, the making of it has involved a lot of cursing (from me). I can never get the chocolate to melt well and fold into the eggs without getting fudgy, and then it breaks up into little bits throughout the mousse. Navah says it's delicious and she loves it anyway, but it drives me crazy every time.

Once I started the Project Pie challenge, I realized it was time - once and for all - to get this pie right. So I asked my mother-in-law if we could make it together this Passover.

She took out this stained piece of paper with the recipe on it and told me that Navah's aunt (her sister-in-law) found the recipe in a Seventeen magazine when she was sixteen years old, and they've used it ever since, adapting it slightly to meet their Passover needs (aka non-dairy so that it can be served with the meat meal). Navah's mom learned to make it in her mother-in-law's kitchen about 40 years before she taught me to make it in hers. 

We made it with non-dairy whipping cream and kosher for passover semi-sweet baking chocolate, and it turned out perfectly. I'm going to have to try it at home again with the ingredients I generally use - coconut cream and sunspire grain-sweetened chocolate chips - to see if precisely following my mother-in-law's method will turn out a smoother pie. 

Of course, you can make this with regular whipping cream if dairy isn't an issue.

Passover Chocolate Mousse Pie (non-dairy)

7 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate
3 tablespoons hot water
7 eggs, separated
2/3 cup sugar, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup non-dairy whipping cream
pinch of salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in 1/3 cup of sugar and set aside.
3. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks with the other 1/3 cup sugar until lemon yellow.
4. Melt the chocolate and water over the stove or in the microwave. Watch closely and stop the heat (either on the stove or in the microwave) before the chocolate has completely melted. Stir to complete the melting process.
5. Mix the melted chocolate into the egg yolks.
6. Gently fold the chocolate mixture into the egg whites that you set aside earlier.
7. Pour half of the mix into a greased pie plate and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. This chocolate crust should rise a bit but will sink while you let it cool (for at least 1 hour).
8. Once the crust is cool, whip one cup of the cream, reserving 1/4 cup for garnish.
9. Add the remaining 3/4 cup whipped cream to the remaining chocolate mixture and pour into the pie crust.
10. Place in the refrigerator for 2 hours - overnight.
11. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

p.s. As the snow melts and Spring comes to Vermont in earnest, this is something I'll be worrying about again soon.

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Boiled Peanuts (or How to Be a Southerner)

My college roommate got married last May down in that part of northern Florida that is essentially synonymous with southern Georgia. 95 degrees without a cloud in the sky, the air hugged us tightly as soon as we walked outside. We spent a day and a half fanning ourselves while we cut stunning gladiolas from her mother's front yard for the centerpieces, swatting away mosquitos under the Spanish moss, and wiping the sweat (excuse me, the


) and melting sunscreen from our brows as we carried tablecloths and homemade strawberry cake into the garden center where she would say "I do" to her long-time boyfriend under the oak trees.

We woke happy and hungover the day after the wedding, rummaged through the refrigerator in our bathing suits, and dumped leftover corn on the cob and barbecue sandwiches and beer into a cooler. We shoved ourselves into a couple cars with the bride and groom (now husband and wife) and headed south for a few hours at the beach, a little friend-accompanied pre-honeymoon.

Before we turned left onto the long straight road aimed toward the Gulf, we stopped at a little wooden hut where an older gentleman sold us boiled peanuts for five dollars. We breathed in the smell of the salty brine and with soggy napkins crumpled in our fingers, we passed the hot bag around the car.

The beige sand stretched along for miles, and we sat on the edges of a sheet under the pop-up canopy drinking and snacking and telling stories. When it got too hot, we waded into the calm water and tried not to step on the horseshoe crabs zipping around underneath us. The sun started to dip below the horizon, and we rolled up the sheet and walked barefoot back to the cars.

We drove back in the dark, tired and sandy and satiated.

Boiled Peanuts 



, with much gratitude

Raw peanuts in their shells (not roasted)


1. Dump about 2 pounds of peanuts in their shells into a stock pot and cover with water plus an inch or two more.

2. Bring to a boil.

3. Add 1/2 cup salt and turn down to a simmer.

4. Simmer covered for 1 1/2 - 2 hours and then check to see if the peanuts are soft. (I actually had to cook mine for about 4-5 hours. I think I didn't add enough water in the beginning - I added more - and perhaps had them on too low of a simmer).

5. Once the peanuts are soft, turn off the heat and let them sit in the salty water for at least a half hour.

6. Drain the peanuts in a colander and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They can be reheated in the microwave or eaten cold.

Shout out again to EJ

, who made this walk down memory lane possible by sending me the peanuts and the recipe. Thank you thank you thank you!


You can go home again


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Project Pie: Whole Wheat Maple Apple Pie

Project Pie: I'll be baking 24 pies before Pi Day 2016 to get over my fear of baking pies. And to eat delicious things. You can join me by posting about your pies in the comments or tagging your twitter, instagram, or facebook posts with #projectpie. Make something gooey and delicious!

After I announced my pie-baking intentions last week, I got a super nice email from Elizabeth sharing a pie crust recipe that she promised was "crazy easy." It was so kind of her to send the email ("I figure if you find a recipe that works, share the hell out of it, because sometimes finding good yummy recipes is not always easy."), and it pushed me from thinking about baking another pie to actually baking another pie this weekend. 

And she was right. Crazy easy pie crust - even with whole wheat. 

I went with an apple pie for #2. And here's the thing about apples: I am super picky about apples for eating straight. An apple must be crisp, juicy, and sweet. Not tough or grainy or mealy or tasteless or soft or bitter. I simply won't eat it. And this time of year can be a little rough on that front. My favorites are Honey Crisp and Pink Lady, but those are difficult to come by. What I see a lot of are big bags of apples that I don't really love to eat - Macintosh, Macoun, Empire. Generally not good for eating (in my opinion), especially when they've been stored since the Fall, but they are excellent for cooking. 

Those bagged apples were just begging me to make an apple pie. 

And thank goodness because apple pie is freaking delicious. I forgot a little bit until my taste buds reminded me. 

Of course everything we make in this house is a little bit wacky, so our apple pie has a 100% whole wheat pie crust (delicious) and is sweetened with maple syrup and coconut palm sugar (also delicious) and no refined sugars. But I would happily feed it to guests with no food restrictions. It's that's good. 

Navah proclaimed it the best thing I've ever baked. 

Maple Apple Pie (whole wheat, without refined sugar)

100% Whole Wheat Crust

2.5 cups flour (I used white whole wheat)
2 sticks (or 1 cup) butter or margarine (I used earth balance)
2 ounces cold water
2 ounces vodka

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. 
2. Cut your butter into chunks (best if they're not all uniform in size) and put in the freezer for at least 10 minutes.
3. Add the flour and butter to your food processor and pulse 8-10 times, or until the mixture looks a little crumbly. Stop before it starts to look like cornmeal. You want some different sized buttery chunks. 
4. Pour in the water and vodka and pulse again 8-10 times until the dough starts to come together. Stop before it forms a big ball. 
5. Take the dough out of the food processor. It should all stick together at this point. Separate the dough into two equal chunks. Using a rolling pin, roll out 1 chunk of dough on a lightly floured surface until it is about an inch wider than your pie plate all the way around. 
6. Pick the crust up by rolling it onto your rolling pin and place it into your pie plate. Cut off any excess around the edges and put the crust into the refrigerator to chill while you make the apple filling. 
7. Wrap the other chunk of dough in saran wrap and put into the refrigerator. 

Maple Apple Filling

5-6 apples (I used Macintosh)
1 tablespoon butter or margarine (again, I used earth balance)
2 tablespoons whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat)
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1. Peel and cut up the apples - I used a simple corer/slicer and then cut each slice two more times lengthwise. 
2. Put the apples into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 5-6 minutes. 
3. Drain the liquid from the apples and then add in the rest of the ingredients and mix until incorporated. 

Putting the pie together

1. Pour the apple mixture into your chilled pie crust. 
2. Roll out your second chunk of dough until it's about 1/8 inch thick and use cookie cutters to cut out shapes. 
3. Place the shapes onto the pie crust in a pattern that suits your fancy. 
4. Bake the pie at 375 degrees for 1 hour. If the edges start to brown or burn, use tin foil to cover them and continue cooking. 
5. Serve warm. 

As you can see from the pictures, I'm not perfect at pie crust making - the edges of my crust don't go over the edge of the pie plate. I underestimated how much crust (and how many apples) I would need to fill up the deep dish pie pan. But the idea here was to bake more pies and to stop feeling intimidated, not to be perfect. Remember the rules?

1. Make some pies.
2. Don't cry if they're not perfect.

Anyone else out there baking a pie this week? What kind? I need ideas for pie #3!

p.s. This vegan apple crisp is another great way to use those bagged apples.

Project Pie: Vegan Shepherd's Pie

While having lunch with a friend a few weeks ago, the conversation turned to dessert, as always happens with the best conversations. And my friend and I both agreed that the most marvelous desserts are those that end with the word pie. Cherry pie. Apple pie. Key lime pie. Chocolate mousse pie. Pecan pie.

Before I go full Forrest Gump on this, I think we can all just agree that pie is delicious.

Even if you are someone who would choose a seven layer cake over a blueberry pie, there's no one out there who would claim to not like pie, right? Actually, don't answer that question. I don't want to know.

So I've had pie on the mind, and then all the sudden, it was Pi Day, and my social media/phone addiction became intimately linked with a desire for anything baked in a deep round dish. Every time I pulled up a feed, there was another picture of a pie.

You would think this is the part of the story where I share about how I rushed into the kitchen and prepared some fruity goodness with a flaky crust, but here's the thing: I'm afraid of making pie.

The crust intimidates me. The possibility of a lot of effort and a terrible outcome seems significant. Especially when you throw in the fact that I'm often working with some odd assortment of alternative ingredients. It has to be whole wheat or egg-less or vegan or made without refined sugars. Or (E) all of the above. And the panic sets in. What if it sticks to the pan? What if the crust crumbles and falls apart? What if the filling is too liquid and pours all over the pan when I cut the first piece?

To avoid anxiety attacks, I've avoided pies.

But lately I've gotten kind of tired of avoiding things that intimidate me. I'm not jumping out of planes or anything, but I think anxiety is a pretty lame reason for me not to be eating more pie. I mean, if I were anxious that the pie was going to kill me or something, that would be different. But worried that I won't get it perfectly right?

Not a good reason to limit my intake of homemade goodness.

Hence the introduction of Project Pie.

From now until the next Pi Day, I will make 24 pies. I figure two pies a month is something my hands (and my belly) can handle. Feel free to join in if you're needing a little more pie in your life.

The rules are:
1. Make some pies.
2. Don't cry if they're not perfect.

And since I'm in favor of baby steps on the path to pie baking euphoria, I started with something simple - this vegan shepherd's pie from Minimalist Baker. No pesky crust to worry about. Just lentils and veggies topped with mashed potatoes. What could go wrong with that? Absolutely nothing. It was delicious.

And now that I've got Pie #1 under my belt, I'm looking forward to testing the waters a little with something more courageous next time.

Stay tuned.

p.s. Make these pistachio and coconut stuffed dates dipped in chocolate. Enjoy them for me.

Easy Chocolate Bark: 5 Flavors

Peppermint chocolate bark was one of my favorite holiday treats growing up. It still is - the perfect thing to make when you want to have something delicious that feels like the holidays but you don't have much time. It's one of those easy desserts that looks a little fancy. The whole production takes less than ten minutes.

More recently, I've discovered the joy of chocolate bark all year round. If it's possible to be easier than my childhood holiday bark with peppermint and white chocolate (melt chocolate, mix with peppermint, spread in pan), it is (melt chocolate, spread in pan, sprinkle with goodies).  If you have the right ingredients at home, you can make it in the 8 minutes before guests arrive once you remember that you forgot to pick up something sweet to finish off the meal. Or in the few minutes before bed on a Sunday night so you'll have a treat throughout the week.

The "right" ingredients are some chocolate and whatever fun goodies you can find to throw on top. You might have everything you need in your pantry right now.

I've started you off with five options for easy chocolate bark here, but the possibilities are endless.

Peppermint chocolate bark
chocolate + crushed peppermint candies

Pretzel chocolate bark
chocolate + pretzels

Fruit and nut chocolate bark
chocolate + diced apricots, raisins, and sliced almonds

Lavender chocolate bark
chocolate + dried lavender

Berry chocolate bark 
chocolate + warmed berry jam, drizzled on top and swirled with a toothpick

You could use the chocolate bark that comes in big chunks, but I like to be decadent and use chocolate chips. We're partial to Sunspire grain sweetened dark chocolate chips. They have the perfect rich flavor that I'm looking for from dark chocolate, and they help us reduce our refined sugar intake while we're shoving delicious goodies into our mouths. It's a win win.

If I haven't made it clear yet, the method for this is simple. I'm not even going to call it a recipe.

Here are the steps:

Chocolate Bark

1. In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave 2 cups chocolate chips at 15-30 second intervals, stirring in between, until melted. (You could also use a double-boiler on the stove, but I go the quickest route)
2. While it's melting, lightly grease a cookie sheet and then place a piece of parchment paper onto the cookie sheet to cover it.
3. Pour the melted chocolate onto the cookie sheet, and spread it into a thin layer.
4. Sprinkle goodies on top.
5. Place in refrigerator for about an hour. Break up the pieces once hard.
6. Store chocolate bark in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

Other yummies to sprinkle on top:
cinnamon and chili powder
dried cherries and cranberries
sea salt and swirls of caramel
pistachios and pomegranate
marshmallows and peanuts

You can really go wild with the options. Think of your favorite ice cream flavor, and then throw on toppings that would be in that ice cream. Deconstruct your favorite candy bar - what makes it delicious? Put those things on top of your chocolate bark.

And while you think about that, I'll be over here trying to keep from cleaning out the whole stash before breakfast.

p.s. This post on candy-coated pretzel sticks proves I have a distinct chocolate candy making style: easy. 

Chocolate Raspberry Chia Parfait

What is it about layered desserts that sets my mouth watering? I've always loved the process of dipping down into a parfait to get a little bit of each delicious element on a single spoonful. There's a bit of a challenge built into every layered dish - can you eat this is just the right ratio that every bite has a little bit of every thing until the very end?

Just me?

This chocolate raspberry chia parfait was the most delectable challenge.

If you're not familiar with chia seeds, they look like...well, like teeny tiny little seeds. But when they mix with liquid, they puff up and become a little gelatinous - a bit like a smaller version of tapioca. And I love tapioca. They're also crazy good for you with all their fiber and calcium.

So when you eat this parfait, you can pat yourself on the back for making excellent, healthy food choices.

Chocolate Raspberry Chia Parfait

Chocolate Chia Pudding Layer:
2 cups almond milk
3 tablespoons chia seeds
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Quickly blend all ingredients together in your blender and then pour into a bowl with a lid. (If you don't have a blender, you can stir them all together - the cocoa powder will be a little difficult to incorporate.)
2. Place in the refrigerator overnight or for at least 2 hours.
3. For the raspberry chia jam layer and the whipped coconut cream, follow this recipe (just the jam) and this recipe from Oh She Glows.
4. Once the chocolate pudding layer is set, place a few tablespoons of the pudding into a pretty glass, then a couple tablespoons of the raspberry chia jam, then a few more tablespoons of the pudding, and then top with a dollop of whipped coconut cream and a raspberry.
5. Serve and enjoy!

p.s. Want more chocolate? I've been thinking about these almond butter and jam chocolates a lot lately...

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Pistachio and Coconut Stuffed Dates

One of my favorite new food blogs is Cassie's Back to Her Roots.  Her focus is on healthy cooking and  living, but she doesn't go overboard with it.  As she says, "Now I understand that kale, birthday cake, rest days, flax seeds, strenuous hikes and good beer can all be healthy."  Cassie doesn't forgo all the pleasure of good food in favor of a smaller pant size.  Instead, she takes a holistic approach - good food (some hardcore healthy meals, some a little more decadent, but all made with good wholesome ingredients), lots of enjoyable physical activity, and a commitment to self care.

I swear, every time I read one of her posts, I feel better about life.

Besides that, she's just smart in the kitchen.  Her salads in a jar are genius, and her Sunday food prep regime has me spending a little extra time preparing on the weekends and being so glad for it during the busy week.

A couple weekends ago, I tried my hand at one of her recipes, and it was a huge success.

In preparation for a potluck, I made her stuffed dates and dipped one end in chocolate, a little added excitement that she mentioned in the brilliant post about how she preps food for the week.

They were a huge hit.  I had none to take home, and several people specifically sought me out to tell me how delicious they were.  Potluck score.

I followed Cassie's pistachio and coconut stuffed dates recipe completely.  And after they were all stuffed, I melted chocolate chips in a bowl in the microwave, dipped one end of the dates in and then let them cool on some parchment paper in the fridge.  (We use Sunspire grain-sweetened chocolate chips, which we buy in the bulk section of our local health food store.)

The bad news was that I discovered I'm allergic to pistachios.  Major fail.  I developed a cashew allergy as an adult that's gotten progressively worse in the last few years.  And now pistachios are also on the no-eat list.  What a shame.  I'd forgotten how delicious they are.

I'll have to come up with another version - maybe with pecans...

Thai Red Curry

I go through fits and spurts with cookbooks.  I tend to find most of my recipes from blogs, but every now and then I get a longing to lay a book out on the counter and splatter it with all sorts of ingredients.  There are two that I turn to most - my beloved King Arthur Whole Grain Baking and Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health.  They rarely disappoint.

I made this recipe for the first time last week, and I was completely wowed by it.  I wish you could smell through the computer because even before you taste this, the smell is divine.

The Most Valuable Player award goes 100% to the lime leaves.  Do not leave those out.  (I bought them in the produce area with the herbs.)  Just by floating in the coconut milk as it cooks, they give the dish that distinctive Thai flavor.  And I might have developed a habit of randomly pulling the bag of them out of the refrigerator, snicking my nose in, and inhaling deeply.  Might have.

Thai Red Curry
From Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health

8 ounces firm tofu, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoon grated, peeled ginger root
4 teaspoons coconut oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup minced shallots or onions
1 tablespoon red curry paste
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
1 cup water
2 Thai lime leaves
1 cup sliced carrots
3 cups bite-sized cauliflower florets
1 cup cut green beans (I used frozen)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon lime juice
Grain of choice for serving (I used quinoa)

1.  Toss the tofu cubes, soy sauce, and 1/2 tablespoon of the grated ginger (I actually use minced ginger that I get in a har - it's one of my time-savers and means I'm not constantly throwing away dried up nubs of ginger that I forgot about).  Set aside for at least 15 minutes while you chop the vegetables.

2.  Prepare your grain of choice according to the package directions.

3.  Warm 2 teaspoons coconut oil in a soup pot on medium heat.  Drain the tofu and reserve the liquid.  Cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tofu is golden.

4.  After the tofu is golden, remove it from the soup pot and put it back in the bowl with the marinade.  To the soup pot, on medium-high heat, add the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil, the remaining tablespoon of ginger, the garlic, shallots or onions, and red curry paste.  Cook for about a minute, stirring constantly to prevent scorching.  Stir in the coconut milk, water, and lime leaves and bring to boil on high heat.

5.  Stir in the carrots and cauliflower, bring back to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the green beans and simmer for 2 minutes.  Then add the bell peppers, basil, tofu cubes, and reserved marinade.  Return to a simmer for 2-3 minutes until all the vegetables are crisp-tender.  Finally, stir in the lime juice and serve with the quinoa (or other grain).

Five Ingredient Chocolate Nut Butter Cups (Sugar-free!)

The chocolate options for a person who's lactose intolerant and  doesn't eat sugar have exploded in the last few years.  At one of our local health food stores, we can buy peppermint patties and dark chocolate bars sweetened with honey, agave nectar, or coconut palm sugar.  We even recently found hot chocolate mix sweetened with coconut sugar.  And our favorite grain-sweetened chocolate chips are back in stock in the bulk section.

It's a far cry from the days when I used to sweeten my own chocolate and break it up into chunks so I could make chocolate chip cookies for my sweetie.  

But a girl who loves a cooking challenge can't stop when there are so many exciting ideas out there. When Angela from Oh She Glows posted this recipe for making your own vegan chocolate candies, I knew I had to try it.  Chocolate and maple syrup sounds just about as good as it gets.  

Well, until I decided to add in almond butter.

And jam.

Then...well, then I was in heaven. 

Five Ingredient Chocolate Nut Butter Cups
Adapted from Easy Homemade Vegan Chocolate

1 cup cacao butter chunks
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup maple syrup, at room temperature
1/4 cup almond butter (or nut butter of your choice)
2 tablespoons jam (we used fig preserves sweetened with white grape juice)
(optional: a pinch of sea salt)

1.  Melt the cacao butter over low heat, stirring continuously.
2.  Once it is melted, stir in the cocoa powder and maple syrup.  Add in the sea salt if you're using it.
3.  Pour the melted chocolate into a blender and blend for a few seconds.  Be careful to allow the steam to release before blending so that your blender doesn't explode!
4.  Using 12 silicone mini muffin cups, pour a little layer of chocolate into the bottom of each cup. 
5.  Let the muffin cups sit for a few minutes in the refrigerator while you quickly mix together the nut butter and jam.
6.  Take the muffin cups back out, put a dollop of nut butter/jam mixture into each cup, and then pour the rest of the chocolate into each cup to cover the nut butter/jam mixture. 
7.  Freeze for about 30 minutes and then enjoy.

Store in the refrigerator, and try not to eat them all in one sitting.  :)


100% Whole Wheat Bread

I've taken to baking bread on the weekends - a simple loaf  made of 100% whole wheat flour.  The recipe* comes from the gods of whole grain baking, the King Arthur Flour company.  
I love the feel of the dough under my hands, the way I end up measuring time by the number of minutes left for rising, the smell from the oven.  And then finally, after a day of waiting expectantly, the  luxurious act of spreading butter (or earth balance) on a warm piece of bread.  We always cut it before we're supposed to.  We never let it cool enough.  How could we? 
We eat those first warm bites with our eyes closed, sighing in gratitude for the way a little bit of yeast can turn flour and water into this nutty goodness.  For days, we eat the bread in unfortunate quantities - slathered in butter, covered with a bit of cheese, or just plain, sneaking off a slice before dinner.   And then it's gone and we look forward to the next weekend and another day that ends with a warm loaf from the oven.

*  I make a few changes to the recipe for our needs.  I use dry soy milk instead of regular dry milk, and I use 1/4 cup orange juice in place of part of the water, which tempers the bitterness of the whole wheat a bit.  I sweeten ours with maple syrup.

Apple Crisp - Vegan, Sugar-Free, Whole Wheat

Picking your own fruit is always a big commitment, a fact that can sometimes get lost in the excitement of getting out into the field and wielding a giant apple-picking implement.

Oh that doesn't happen to you?

I've never used one of these contraptions before, but you can bet that when the woman at the barn pointed them out, we (my friends and I) snatched them up and delighted in trying to get the apples at the tippy tip top of the trees.

And we got tons of them.

These are just the ones I brought home!

Which brings me back to the commitment.

I spent Sunday afternoon cutting apples, peeling apples, and cutting more apples.  I filled my crockpot to the brim and made one big batch of applesauce.  I made an apple crisp, and I still have more than half of the apples left. 

Those are awaiting the chopping block - to be made into apple muffins and apple butter and maybe one more of these apple crisps because it's just that good.

Apple Crisp - Vegan, Sugar Free, Whole Wheat
Adapted from Betty Crocker

5-6 medium apples, peeled, cored, and sliced very thinly
2/3 cup coconut palm sugar (or 3/4 cup brown sugar)
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup earth balance (or butter or margarine), softened but not melted
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1.  Layer the apple slices overlapping each other in rows in a baking dish.  I used a 9 x 13, and I got 4 rows, alternating the direction of the apples with each row.  You could also use a 9 x 9 or a go wild and use a circular dish!
2.  Preheat your over to 350 degrees while you mix the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl until it's all nice and sticky.
3.  Crumble the mixture over the top of the apples, making sure to cover evenly.
4.  Bake for 35-30 minutes. Serve warm.



PS - I tried to take a photo of the apple crisp in action - i.e. on a plate with some ice cream, but every single one turned out looking like...well, I won't say what it looked like.  Delicious, but not beautiful!

Freezer Vegetarian Chili

Several years ago Navah and I read Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Vegetable Miracle, where the author narrates her family's year of local-eating.  They limited themselves to only food grown within one hundred miles of their Virginia homestead, so it makes sense that their kitchen was very season-specific.  Summer found it overflowing with a bounty of fruits and vegetables, literally drowning in piles of zucchini.  In Fall, they enjoyed crisp apples and some of the later vegetables and checked their pantry and freezer to make sure they had enough stored away for the winter.  

I adored the book and finished it with an overwhelming desire to hang garlic up to dry over my kitchen sink and hunt for morels on a hillside and buy bushels of tomatoes to freeze or can, to draw on all those years relishing the chore-filled, season-driven lives of the Little House on the Prairie clan.  

But at the time I was reading it, I was lying on a beach in Costa Rica, buying rice and beans for every meal from tiny little restaurants.  And by the time we were back home in our DC highrise apartment, I had forgotten.  

Perhaps one day I'll lead a life so close to the earth that my kitchen will follow the seasons, and I'll finally become one with my inner Laura Ingalls Wilder.  But now the days fly by me so fast most of the time.  A season's gone before I realize that my canning pot hasn't moved from the top of the refrigerator.  

So when I stepped outside to walk Jammer about a week ago and had to run back in for a warmer jacket, the thought that came right after "ooh, it's FALL!" was "ooh, I need to FREEZE something!"

With a potluck on the calendar for that evening, a giant pot of chili seemed like a winner.  I could make a big enough batch that I'd have enough to bring to the potluck and enough to freeze for some cold winter night down the road.

And a big batch it was.  We brought about seven servings to the potluck and were able to put at least that many in the freezer.

Freezer Vegetarian Chili

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
2 teaspoons cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili power
1/4 teaspoon paprika
4 cloves garlic 
2 fifteen-oz cans of kidney beans
2 fifteen-oz cans of black beans
2 fifteen-oz cans of navy beans
1 fifteen-oz can of Amy's medium chili with vegetables (my "secret" ingredient)
1 eight-oz can of tomato sauce
four tomatoes
1 each green, red, and yellow pepper
1/2 bag frozen corn
1 cup bulgur wheat

1.  Dice the onion and saute in a large pot over medium heat in the olive oil.  Add in the salt, pepper, chili powder, garlic, and half the cumin.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes, or until the onions begin to soften and turn clear.  

2.  Add in the chopped peppers and tomatoes.  Cook together for about five minutes.

3.  Add in the beans, tomato sauce, corn, bulgur wheat and remaining spices (including the other half of the cumin).  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Let cook with the top on for 1-2 hours, checking occasionally to be sure the bottom isn't burning.  

It's so simple but really delicious.  Once the soup cools, ladle it into your freezer-safe containers and look forward to pulling some out on a cold night this winter!


Beet Risotto

I love beets.  

And I love any opportunity to incorporate beets into my diet in interesting ways.  I'm even hoping to use some beets in a dye sometime - they're certainly an exquisite color.

This beet risotto gives me a little of both worlds.  

How often do you get to eat a savory fuchsia dish?!  Sometimes I try to avoid the beet color infusing my entire meal, but with this risotto, it's just plain fun!

And delicious to boot.

The sweetness of the beets combined with the creamy coconut milk and the nutty flavor of the brown rice makes for a complex dish that could work as a side or on its own.  

I had it as my entree for lunch today, but I've also served it alongside a salad and some grilled chicken.

Beet Brown Rice Risotto
Adapted from Group Recipes

1/4 cup Earth Balance (or butter)
6 small beets or 3 medium beets, peeled and chopped
1 medium chopped onion
1 cup short grain brown rice
1 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup water
1 can coconut milk
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste

1.  Melt earth balance in large pot over medium heat.
2.  Add onions and beets, salt and pepper to taste, and cook approximately 10 minutes until onion is soft.
3.  Mix in rice and all liquid ingredients and reduce the heat to medium low.  
4.  Simmer gently uncovered until beets and onions are soft and risotto is creamy, stirring occasionally. Probably about 20-30 minutes. 

Enjoy the colorful deliciousness!


Broccoli Arugula and Squash Soup

It's a little strange to be sharing a soup recipe in July, I suppose.  There are some of you will set this aside for the winter, but soup's an all-year-round dinner for me.  It's not what I reach for in the middle of the day when I'm sitting outside in the sun.  But at night, when I'm cozied in for the evening, soup is comforting - especially on those nights up here where things really cool down.  

I made this soup when I was doing a cleanse a couple years ago, and then I forgot about it.  I remembered it when I did the cleanse this time, and now, with a few modifications, it has become a staple of our diet.  

The coolest thing about it is that - for the most part - it's incredibly seasonal.  All the veggies in this pot came from the farm CSA that we got while we were housesitting.  

Broccoli Arugula and Squash Soup
Adapted from GOOP

One onion, chopped
One head broccoli, chopped
One zucchini, chopped
One summer squash, chopped
4 cups vegetable broth
One can coconut milk
Two cups arugula
Salt and pepper to taste

1.  In large pot over medium heat, saute onions in olive oil with salt and pepper for 3 - 5 minutes.
2.  Add in the broccoli, zucchini, and summer squash and saute, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes. 
3.  Pour in the vegetable broth and bring to boiling.  Then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10-15 minutes.  
4.  Pour in the coconut milk and the arugula, adding more salt and pepper at this point if necessary.
5.  Using either an immersion blender or a traditional blender, blend the soup until smooth.  (If you're using a traditional blender, blend in small batches or allow the soup to cool before blending so that you don't blow the top off your blender.)
6.  Serve with a little dollop of coconut cream (or sour cream or yogurt if you can do dairy) and a slice of crusty bread. 

The blend of the broccoli and peppery arugula with the creamy coconut milk is absolutely delicious. And the zucchini and squash give it a little more substance.

I hope you enjoy!