Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Peanut Butter Pasta and Peas

I love this recipe for a quick and easy weeknight dinner. It's from Vegetarian Express by Nava Atlas, which I believe is no longer in print. It's got a lot of great, easy, fast recipes though, and they're mostly vegan or easily veganized. The creamy peanut butter sauce is a nice balance of sweet and savory, and I like peas in just about anything. The suggested side is cinnamon-apple glazed baby carrots, which are delicious but I think a bit too sweet, so I've served it with some cauliflower and carrots sauteed in olive oil with garlic and vegetable broth.

Peanut Butter Pasta with Peas

10 oz rotini pasta (I use whole wheat)
1/2 cup peanut butter (I use all natural crunchy)
3/4 cup vegetable stock (hot works best to help melt the peanut butter)
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp honey, or rice syrup, or agave
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 cups frozen green peas

1. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Add the frozen peas in the last minute of cooking.

2. While the pasta was cooking, put all other ingredients in the blender or food processor and blend together until smooth.

3. Drain the pasta and peas, and toss with the peanut butter sauce. The sauce will thicken as it cools, so it will stick to the pasta better if you let it sit a few minutes before serving.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Apple Sauce

I buy apples pretty much every week in the fall/winter. Local upstate NY apples are fantastic, and they make a really convenient snack. I don't, however, always end up eating my convenient snack and it gets a little beat up in my bookbag, then I don't want to eat it because I'm picky like that. In order to avoid throwing out all these otherwise delicious but somewhat imperfect apples, I make apple sauce! The first time I wanted to make apple sauce I set out looking for a recipe and they were all COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS! Tons of sugar and all sorts of random steps. I winged it. It worked. Around here, we like our applesauce chunky, but if you prefer smooth, by all means take an immersion blender to it, or wait for it to cool a bit and blend it in a regular blender.

Apple Sauce
4 apples, peeled, cored, and roughly diced
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp cinnamon

1. Put the apples and water in a 2 quart sauce pan and bring the water to a boil over high heat.

2. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover the pot, and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. (The more you stir the more the apples with break down. I find I don't even need to mash them at all, but again, depending on how you like it you may want to take a potato masher to it or puree it)

3. Stir in the cinnamon. Serve hot or cold.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Mom's Apple Cake

Can you tell school started again on August 28th? Yep, it's been busy around here. I've had to get more creative with my meal planning since I get home late at least one night a week, but we've still been eating! I have pictures that I have to figure out what recipes coordinate with them, and some I should have finished jotting down the ingredients as I went along. Here's one that I do have a recipe written down for, and pictures!

This is a veganization and slight altering of my mother's apple cake. I only call it my mother's because she used to make it, though she didn't invent the recipe, someone gave it to her. It is VERY sweet and very rich, and also really moist and delicious. To celebrate the beginning of fall, I made the cake with apples, pears, and dried cranberries, whereas Mom's is just apples. All apples is good, and all pears would probably be good too! If you want to use pears, be sure to choose ones that aren't too ripe since they'll just disintegrate.

Mom's Apple Cake
5 cups apples OR 2 1/2 cups each apples and pears; peeled, cored and diced
1/2 cup dried cranberries (optional)
5 tsp sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup crushed pecans or walnuts (I like pecans)
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup plain or vanilla soy-yogurt
2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

1. In a large bowl, toss together the fruit, 5 tsp sugar, cinnamon, and nuts. Set aside.

2. In another large bowl (or the mixing bowl to your mixer), beat together sugar, soygurt, vanilla, orange juice and oil.

3. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add to the wet ingredients until combined. Do not overmix.

4. Thoroughly grease and flour a tube pan (you can see I didn't do a good enough job and I couldn't get the cake off the middle!). Layer the cake batter and fruit in the grease pan as follows: batter -> fruit -> batter -> fruit -> batter -> fruit. Try to do about 1/3 of each for each layer. The fruit from the previous layer often peeks through. That's fine.

5. Bake for 90 minutes, but DO NOT open the oven during baking! Let it cool, then fight to remove it from the pan.