Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Pumpkin Apple Pie Filling

So I have to admit something, I have never made an apple pie. Am I alone out there?

It's not a huge secret, I don't like baking. I don't have a big sweet tooth. However, sometimes I get that urge to bake and then give it away (It's a problem other people tend to really like). However, the kids' sweet teeth have been growing and growing. A few weeks ago, we were gifted a lot of apples from my neighbor. They are called Wolf River Apples and they are about the size of a baby's head! Gabe asked for an apple pie. So, I made him apple crisp and he was one happy camper.

Two weeks go by and he is still asking for apple pie. I needed the kids to be on super good behavior so, I did what any other mom would do ... I bribed them! If they did good, I would make them an apple pie. To my happiness and dismay, they did so I was on the hook for one apple pie. I googled apple pie filling and of course, didn't love my options. I didn't want to run to the store and I didn't have apple juice or arrowroot to thicken the sauce.

I was staring at my pantry pondering how to make this work when I saw my pumpkin puree. I was hoping the puree with a little maple syrup could substitute for a thick pie filling to go with the apples.

I followed the same recipe that I did two weeks back (off the top of my head) with my apple crisp and went to work. I figured I should add some extra spice to give it that pumpkin pie taste. Then of course I had to test out all of the fillings options so I made little apple pumpkin apple pie pockets, a mini pumpkin apple pie as well as an apple pumpkin crisp. All worked out great.

I still can't say that I have made an apple pie, but I'm okay with that! And now, when it comes time for Thanksgiving and people need to decide "Pumpkin or Apple" ... they don't have to!!

Pumpkin Apple Pie Filling

Makes enough for one pie or an 8x8 pan of Pumpkin Apple Crisp.

5 cups sliced apples
1 T butter
1 T brown sugar
2/3 c pumpkin puree
1/3 c maple syrup
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t ground cloves
1/4 t ground ginger
1/4 t nutmeg

Melt butter in a pan, add in apples and sauté until they are tender but not mush ... a little firmness still there. Turn off heat and add the brown sugar and mix it around the apples.

In a bowl, mix together the pumpkin puree, maple syrup and the rest of the spices. Add the apple mixture to the pumpkin.

Now, you are ready to fill your favorite pie crust or top with a yummy oat crisp topping for Pumpkin Apple Crisp. Or, make a little bit of everything like do! Follow the directions of your crisp or pie recipe and enjoy!

Pumpkin Apple Pie Filling

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Easy Coconut Quinoa Granola Clusters

The time was Valentine's Day ... I was convinced I was going to make the kids healthy and delicious Valentine's Day treats. I bought a puffed brown rice cereal to use ... my treats did not work and now I had a bag of puffed rice cereal that no one will eat. Ugh!

Fast forward 3 months and the puffed brown rice cereal is still in my pantry. Time to use it. The stars must have been aligned because I was going to make a special trip to get some extra granola for breakfast this week when someone mentioned to me about making homemade granola. I'm not going to lie, I have made granola before and wasn't altogether pleased.

Easy Coconut Quinoa Granola Clusters

I found a recipe from Feasting on Fruit that looked delicious and fool-proof! My family loved coconut so I had to add in some so I could seamlessly switch our store-bought granola with the new stuff and no would would be the wiser!

We love it. I'm glad I initially made a big batch because it went fast! Now, I'm in the situation of having to buy brown rice cereal a lot ... I doesn't sit in my pantry anymore though. This has been a lifesaver snack on trips to school and all the errands that we run through the day and I need to eat something quick and healthy.

Easy Coconut Quinoa Granola Clusters

Coconut Quinoa Granola Clusters

Makes 6 1/2 cups

3 c rolled oats
1 c dried quinoa
2 c cup puffed brown rice cereal
1 1/4 c maple syrup
1/2 c unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 c raisins or other dried fruit (optional)
1 T chia or hemp seeds
1 t cinnamon
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven for 375º.

Mix all ingredients together until everything is nicely coated.

Lay a baking sheet or parchment paper on the pan. Spread the granola mixture on the pan so it is about 1/4 inch thick.

Bake granola for 10 minutes and let completely cool before mixing it up ... you can have a little bite though! It crusts up and sets as it cools.

Place in an airtight container and enjoy ... over yogurt, fresh fruit, with milk or just start munching straight out of the container!

Easy Coconut Quinoa Granola Clusters

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Chicotta! Vegan Ricotta Cheese (Dairy, Soy and Nut-Free)

A while back I made a spinach artichoke hummus for a party. It was very tasty, but in typical Ashley form, I made way too many appetizers for the party and I had a lot leftover... such a problem, right?! My mom always said, there's nothing that kills a party faster than running out of food or beer and you always have to listen to your mother!

That week after the party, I was turning all of the leftover dips into dinner entrees. I used the spinach artichoke hummus for a lasagna roll-up and poured marinara on top. It went over really well in the house and I kept telling myself that I need to do that again. Fast forward two months, my friend brings over a delicious lasagna this weekend and I've been devouring it since. You'd think I had my fill but I wanted more lasagna.

I wanted to see if I could just make a more simple ricotta blend like the hummus I used but a little lighter and fluffier (if that makes sense). As you may know, I try to  limit our soy intake so I didn't want to use any tofu. I have read a lot of vegan ricotta recipes that use cashews too. Well truth be told, I'm lazy and unorganized! Soaking the cashews for hours and remembering to do it the night before just isn't ideal for me. Also, it's just a personal preference, but I don't love the sweetness that cashews give to vegan cheeses (hence the potato and carrot Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce). So instead of cashews and remembering my hummus, I added a lot of artichokes to give it a salty yet fluffy texture than just hummus. And there you have it ... Dairy-Free, Nut-Free and Soy-Free Chickpea Ricotta ... Chicotta!

It worked out great in a lasagna, it tastes great as a dip and I even put it in a creamy pasta bake. Feel free to add some frozen spinach too ... get creative and have fun.

Dairy-Free, Soy-Free and Nut-Free

Dairy-Free, Soy-Free and Nut-Free

Vegan Ricotta

Makes 2 cups

1-15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 garlic clove
1/3 c olive oil
1/3 c nutritional yeast
1 T tahini
1 1/2 T lemon
1/2 t salt
1-15 oz can artichokes, drained and rinsed

In your food processor, mix everything except the artichokes until it is nice and smooth. Add olive oil if you need a smoother texture. Next, add in the artichokes and give it a few good turns. I do it so that there is still little tiny pieces of artichoke but nothing big.

Now, it's ready to use in your favorite lasagna, pasta bake or just pull out some chips and carrots and enjoy it as a dip!

Dairy-Free, Soy-Free and Nut-Free