Oct 25

apples baked in cider

Sebastian wants you all to know that there is still no hockey.

Harrison is equally concerned.

Just as I was writing this, Moose got visibly upset when the Bruins scored on the Flyers in a game we’re watching on TV.

That game is from 2010.

We’re losing it over here.

 

I baked some apples in cider. They taste like fall. They’re soft and sweet and so easy to make.

They would go so well with hockey.

Apples Baked in Cider
Recipe from Food 52
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 4 Granny Smith apples (also recommended by the original author are Fuji, Gala and Braeburn)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon vegan butter substitute
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Pinch of sea salt

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit

Bring the apple cider to a boil in a saucepan or skillet.

Boil over medium heat until the cider reduces by half.

While the cider boils, peel the top 1/3 of each apple. Use a melon baller to remove the cores, leaving roughly 1/3 of the bottom of the apple intact. Place the apples in a baking dish.

Remove the cider from the heat and stir in the cinnamon, vegan butter, brown sugar and sea salt.

Pour the cider over top of the apples, filling each of them.


Bake the apples for 40-50 minutes. Spoon some of the cider over the tops of the apples every 10 minutes or so.

Keep a close eye on them around the 35 minute mark if you want them to remain intact.

Or if you’re like me, let them cook a little longer so that they expand a bit.


Serve immediately.

Oct 18

baked acorn squash rings

I don’t really consider myself a squash person. I like to look at squash. I like it when our neighbors decorate their stoops with cute little varieties of squash and leaves and the occasional haystack. Fall harvest scenes make me crave warm apple pie, and I’m cool with that. Draw a face on that pumpkin. Stuff some berries in that gourd. Pass me some candy that’s been shaped into the form of a squash but that actually tastes like chocolate. I’ll eat it all day.

The first Thanksgiving that Harrison and I spent together was in 2005. I thought it would be cute to decorate my tiny apartment by scattering assorted, colorful squash all over it. Harrison thought it would be cute to walk up to each one, shoot me a death glare and then smack them to the ground, one by one. Then he’d do this thing where he meows at me, but it’s a very short meow, almost like a bark. It translates to, “Look! I knocked your stupid squash in the floor! Did you really think I wasn’t going to do that? Are you seriously going to try to pick it up and put it back, thinking I won’t do it again and again? Try me.”

 

We played that game nearly a dozen times that day. I haven’t decorated a thing since.

Where was I?

Right. Squash.

This past weekend I decided to try being a grown up for once and ate something I wouldn’t normally eat. It came down to a tie between acorn squash and brussels sprouts, but since the kind folks at Williams-Sonoma said I could cover an acorn squash in maple syrup and cranberries, I chose squash. And of course I totally liked it, even though I was a huge baby about trying it and I made a very dramatic face before I took a bite, expecting the worst. I will absolutely make this as a side dish for Thanksgiving this year.

 

But I’ll have to keep it away from Sebastian, because he became obsessed with trying to cuddle it.

Baked Acorn Squash Rings
Recipe from Williams-Sonoma
Serves 8
Printable recipe

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe acorn squash
  • sea salt, to taste
  • fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons vegan butter substitute, melted
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Slice the ends off of each squash.

Slowly and carefully slice each squash into pieces roughly 1/2″ thick. Don’t worry if the rings aren’t even. Don’t worry if you accidentally slice the ring open so you have something that resembles the letter C more than it resembles a ring. It will taste the same.

Use a biscuit cutter (or a knife) to cut the middle seedy part out of each ring.


Discard the seeds. Or roast them.

Place the squash rings in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Add 2 tablespoons of the melted vegan butter and toss the rings so that they’re all coated.

Gently push aside curious kittehs.

Place the rings in a large, ovenproof saute pan or skillet. It’s okay if they overlap.

Whisk together 1/4 cup water, orange juice and orange zest. Pour the water mixture over top of the squash rings.

Cook the rings over medium-high heat for 15 minutes or until tender when poked with a fork. I found that it’s best to rotate them every 5 minutes or so, so that each ring gets to spend some time close to the bottom of the pan.

Whisk together the remaining water, vegan butter and the maple syrup.

Remove the squash from the heat and pour the syrup mixture over the squash rings. Sprinkle the dried cranberries and thyme over the rings.


Bake the rings for 15-20 minutes, until tender.

Serve immediately.


Oct 11

bourbon spice cupcakes with cinnamon cream cheese frosting

Once upon a time there were supposed to be opening season hockey games tonight, and now there aren’t.

Voice in my head says, “No one cares that you’ve been looking forward to this day for six months, Nikki. No one cares that the promise of today is what kept you sane through a long, humid summer filled with hours upon hours watching baseball, tennis, rowing, soccer and all other warm weather sports played on grass or sand or in the water, with players who wear only the occasional knee pad for protection and, sometimes, even play in bare feet. Bare feet!”

Grumble grumble. Foot stomp. Sigh.

Here’s a big cat in a little box.

Here’s a big cat and a slightly less big cat on a pillow.

Here’s a sleepy face.

Kittehs are good.
Cinnamon in frosting is good.
Bourbon in everything is good.
Cupcakes will always be here for me.
Cupcakes will never go on strike.

Why don’t you guys come over tonight? We’ll eat cupcakes while we reenact the Flyers 2010 Cup run using hand puppets and an Oreo.

I’m serious.

Bourbon Spice Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
Recipe adapted from Maker’s Mark
Makes 12 cupcakes
Printable recipe

Cupcake ingredients:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter substitute (I used Earth Balance), softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup plain almond milk
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice

Frosting ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup vegan cream cheese substitute (I used Tofutti)
  • 1/4 cup vegan butter substitute (I used Earth Balance), softened
  • 3 1/4 cups vegan confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sea salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg.


In a separate bowl, mix the vegan butter and brown sugar on low-medium speed until fully combined.

Add in the applesauce and almond milk.

Stir in the molasses. Don’t freak out when the almond milk separates and looks all weird. It’s totally fine.


Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing on low-medium speed until fully combined. Stir in the bourbon. Stir in the lemon juice.


Pour the batter into a cupcake tin, filling each cup all the way to the top. Bake the cupcakes for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick can be inserted and removed cleanly.


Allow the cupcakes to cool completely.

Make the frosting by combining all ingredients in a large bowl and mixing on low-medium speed. Store your frosting in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it. Frost the cupcakes.

Oct 03

peanut butter popcorn fudge with chocolate drizzle

I’m a firm believer that almost anything can be made doubly delicious by smushing popcorn into it. This is why Peanut Butter Popcorn Fudge is my recipe for the month of October over at One Green Planet.

I’m going to teach my cats to stand on each others’ shoulders while donning a tattered zombie costume and holding open an empty bag just in case any of you are going to make this for the trick-or-treaters in your neck of the woods.

Court Kitty has been working on his crazy zombie eyes.

He is determined to land the role of the head in this production.

Peanut Butter Popcorn Fudge with Chocolate Drizzle
Serves 16-20
Printable recipe

Ingredients:
• 1/2 cup Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread or another vegan butter substitute, softened
• 2/3 cup natural peanut butter, room temperature
• 1/3 cup vanilla soy milk
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 3 cups vegan confectioners’ sugar
• 2 cups popped popcorn (plain or lightly salted)
• 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

Directions:

Using a hand mixer, mix together the Earth Balance, peanut butter, soy milk and vanilla extract until fully combined.

Slowly add in the confectioners’ sugar and continue to mix.

As fudge as it becomes thicker, turn the mixer off and use your hands to knead the fudge until all ingredients are fully combined.

Spread the fudge into a 9×13″ pan lined with parchment paper.

Spread the popcorn over the fudge and press down firmly

Drizzle the melted chocolate chips over top of the popcorn.

Refrigerate the fudge for 1-2 hours (up to 12 hours) until it hardens to your desired consistency.

Use a sharp knife to slice the fudge into pieces. Store any remaining fudge in the refrigerator.