Pineapple-Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

During a season where pumpkin unquestionably reigns as the queen of all flavors, I’m bucking the trend and turning my attention to another p-fruit: pineapple! Not because of any contrarian desire, however; I just happened to have an open can of crushed pineapple I needed to use. I contemplated pancakes, muffins, quick bread… but they all seemed too predictable. (Well, I suppose pineapple pancakes aren’t predictable… I was just too lazy to make them!) Instead: cookies! Soft, subtly sweet pineapple-coconut oatmeal cookies.

I’m sure I’ve had pineapple cookies at some point, but I couldn’t tell you when. My most recent pineapple memories are of the summer before this past one, when my sister had a small (I believe the word is “intimate” in wedding parlance) wedding on Maui. Her husband’s family vacations at a resort there every summer, and her grandfather-in-law was incredibly gracious and generous, booking rooms for my immediate family to stay so we could make it to the wedding. Every morning, the hotel staff had Pineapple Time, where they’d chop up fresh, sweet pineapple and teach eager tourists something about Hawaiian culture. I can’t think of a better way to start a warm summer day than on the beach with freshly cut pineapple—I feel so relaxed just thinking about it! That was a magical week, easily the most laid-back vacation I’ve ever taken. My travels are usually much more action-packed, but I wholly enjoyed the chance to lay back, relax, and take in the scenery.

I wholly enjoyed these cookies, too. Pineapple and coconut are always a winning pair, and in tandem they offer a refreshing spin on the traditional oatmeal cookie. Like most of my baked goods, these are relatively low in sugar so that I can delude myself into thinking they’re okay to eat for breakfast. ;) If you prefer a sweeter, more dessert-like cookie, feel free to use all brown sugar instead of coconut sugar.

Pineapple-Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

Pineapple-Coconut Oatmeal Cookies
Makes 15 cookies

  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, solid
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax
  • 1 cup canned crushed pineapple, with most of the juice strained out (measure after straining)
  • 1 cup + 1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom (optional but recommended)
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened flaked dried coconut

Using a stand mixer, hand mixer, or good ol’ fashioned elbow grease, cream together the coconut oil, sugar(s), and vanilla extract. (If you’re mixing by hand, you might want to heat the coconut oil just a little bit to soften it—solid coconut oil can be stubborn to work with!) Once the mixture is creamed and a bit fluffy, add the flax and pineapple and continue mixing.

Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cardamom. Mix until well combined, then fold in the rolled oats and dried coconut.

Place the dough in the refrigerator and set the oven to 350˚. Prepare a baking pan by lining it with parchment paper or spraying it with non-stick cooking spray (coconut oil works great here!).

Once the oven is heated, remove the dough from the refrigerator and use your hands to scoop it into balls; they should have about two tablespoons of dough. Flatten slightly in your hands and placed on the baking pan about 3/4″ apart. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until they begin to turn golden. Remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes before eating.

~~~

What’s your favorite pineapple recipe?

Warm Lentil & Brussels Sprout Salad with Roasted Radicchio Wedges

With its slightly astringent bite, radicchio isn’t a vegetable I cook with frequently—truth be told, I’ve used it only a handful of times. Recently, though, I stumbled across a method for cooking it that promised to transform it into something much more palatable: roasting! I’m surprised I didn’t think of it myself. What vegetable doesn’t benefit from a little olive oil and some time in the oven at high heat? Roasting radicchio brings out its sweetness, especially in the tender inner leaves. The outer leaves retain some of their bite, but those inner leaves practically melt in your mouth.

I served my roasted radicchio alongside a warm lentil dish that features one of my absolute veggies: Brussels sprouts. I also added pomegranates for a textural contrast and a bite of sweet juiciness that plays well with the strongly flavored sprouts, and a sprinkle of pine nuts adds the finishing touch! I flavored my lentil dish with Trader Joe’s orange muscat champagne vinegar, a lovely mild vinegar that even I—a noted vinegar-hater—can’t totally dislike. If you don’t have it, though, feel free to use another light vinegar and a bit of freshly squeezed orange juice.

Warm Lentil & Brussels Sprout Salad with Roasted Radicchio Wedges

Warm Lentil & Brussels Sprout Salad with Roasted Radicchio Wedges
Serves two

For the radicchio:

  • One head radicchio
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 clove garlic, minced as finely as you can get it (or pressed)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Dash freshly ground black pepper

For the Brussels sprouts:

  • 1 lb. Brussels sprouts
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

For the lentils:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup brown lentils

For the dressing/salad:

  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon orange muscat champagne vinegar (or 1/2 tablespoon your favorite vinegar + 1/2 tablespoon orange juice)
  • 1/2 tablespoon pure maple syrup or agave nectar
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Pine nuts for topping (optional but highly recommended)

Add the water to a medium sauce pot and heat on high. Preheat oven to 425˚. Prepare a short-rimmed baking pan by spraying it with oil or lining it with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, whisk together the radicchio marinade: olive oil, maple syrup, garlic, and salt. Set aside.

Quarter the radicchio by trimming the woody bottom off and cutting the radicchio into four wedges. Using a pastry brush, coat all of the exposed surfaces of each wedge with the olive oil marinade. Place cut-side down on the baking pan and place in the oven while you prep the Brussels sprouts.

If the water’s boiling at this point, add the lentils, cover the pot, and turn the heat down to a simmer.

Roughly quarter each Brussels sprout (or halve them if they’re particularly small). You don’t have to use uniform precision; just make sure each piece is roughly the same size. Add to a bowl and toss with the olive oil, garlic, salt, and paprika until well coated. Remove the baking pan with the radicchio from the oven and add the Brussels sprouts to the pan. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 15 minutes, then flip the radicchio quarters so the other cut side is down and give the Brussels sprouts a good stir. Bake for another 15 minutes or until the Brussels sprouts start to crisp up.

While the veggies are roasting, keep an eye on the lentils. When all the water is absorbed, turn off the stove and remove the pot from the heat. Uncover it and let it sit, stirring the lentils frequently to cool them a bit.

After the lentils have cooled for about five minutes, drizzle in the dressing ingredients and stir until the lentils are well coated. Allow the mixture to sit while the veggies finish roasting.

Once the Brussels sprouts are crispy and the radicchio has wilted and darkened, remove them from the oven. Toss the Brussels sprouts with the lentils, top with pine nuts, and serve immediately with the radicchio wedges on the side.

~~~

What’s your favorite way to serve radicchio? Brussels sprouts? 

Pumpkin Spice Affogato

I brainstormed lots of ways to introduce this post, but you know what? Sometimes words fail. So—a photo.

Pumpkin Spice Affogato

Ah. Sometimes, photos fail. Sometimes, the vision you have in your head of what a Pumpkin Spice Affogato will look like doesn’t match the reality, because (1) there’s not much of a contrast between pumpkin-colored ice cream and dark coffee, and (2) not having a tripod means you have to ask your significant other to pour the coffee so you can catch a mid-stream shot, and sometimes your significant other accidentally spills it, and sometimes you lose your temper and very unfairly blame him, and in the time it takes for you to talk it over and apologize, the sun starts setting and you lose the light. So sometimes, you have to ask your readers to use their imaginations, and you have to ask them for forgiveness for the lackluster photos. (And you have to ask your significant other’s forgiveness for snapping at him.)

Just pretend you can see two perfectly round scoops of deep orange pumpkin spice ice cream, with a stream of hot coffee coming down from an unseen pouring device, just starting to melt the top scoop of ice cream. Then, another shot—melty, foamy, frothy ice cream and coffee blending into one puddly mess. Affogato, baby.

Do I need to back up? Not sure what affogato is? Let me enlighten you. Literally meaning “drowned” in Italian, affogato in culinary terms is a scoop of ice cream (typically vanilla) topped with a shot of espresso. Something magical happens with the hot coffee hits the ice cream, producing a frothy, hot-and-cold, sweet-and-bitter, opposites-attract mug of superlative yumminess. I like to make it with a shot of amaretto, and I’ve had a version at Great Sage that included the most chocolate-y chocolate stout I’ve ever tasted—that particular affogato was very nearly a meal in itself.

Now that we’re all on the same affogato-appreciating page, let’s talk about this pumpkin version. Such a simple idea, and pretty darn simple to execute, too. A couple scoops of pumpkin ice cream are all you need to transform the traditional dessert into something any coffee-loving fan of pumpkin spice flavors can appreciate. If you don’t have an espresso maker (alas, I don’t), strongly brewed hot coffee works nearly as well.

Of course, there are dozens and dozens of pumpkin ice cream recipes out there, and the recipe I dreamt up turned out to be very similar to one the ever-inspiring Hannah Kaminsky posted four years ago, right down to the addition of bourbon. So I can’t call my pumpkin ice cream recipe 100% original, but I did make some changes to Hannah’s recipe, reducing the sugar and changing the spice profile just a bit. But you don’t have to use my recipe in your affogato; feel free to choose from any of the plentiful pumpkin ice cream recipes out there.

Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream
Adapted from Hannah Kaminsky’s recipe

  • 1 14-oz can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 15-oz can pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar (or more coconut sugar)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Dash ground nutmeg

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and whisk briskly until all ingredients are well incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Chill for 10 minutes if necessary, then transfer to your ice cream maker and process following the manufacturer’s instructions. Once it’s reached the consistency of your choice, transfer to another container and freeze until ready to use.

Pumpkin Spice Affogato
Serves one

  • 2 small scoops pumpkin spice ice cream
  • 2 shots of espresso or strongly brewed coffee

Place the scoops of ice cream in a heat-safe glass mug. Pour your freshly made espresso or coffee over the ice cream. Eat without delay.

How do you feel about affogato?

Three-Bean Millet Chili

Certain dishes are tied to very specific times in my life. Brown rice with pesto? College, eating at the dining hall, not caring for any of the veg options, and making a meal from the a la carte items. Celeste frozen pizzas? Kindergarten and the first few years of elementary school, when my mom ran an in-home daycare and would occasionally let us sit on blankets in the basement eating pizza and watching Star Wars. Popcorn with loads of different topping options? My first year in Madison, when my roommate Kristina and I would set up a “popcorn bar” and watch countless episodes of The Office.

Some dishes, though, are constants, growing up right along with me. My mom has made apple crisp with fresh-picked apples every autumn I can remember, only now she uses Earth Balance instead of butter. And my dad has always, always been able to whip up a mean batch of chili. It was kind of his thing when we were young; everyone knew Mitch would bring a delicious spicy chili to family parties. These days, he foregoes the ground beef and makes them plant-based instead. (I’m told he made a killer mushroom-based faux-meat filling this summer, but I didn’t get to try it!)

When S and I started dating, S wasn’t quite as facile in the kitchen as I was (not to mention that he ate meat at that point!). But he could do one thing I couldn’t: he could make a kick-ass chili. Once when my parents visited me in Madison, I made chili for lunch, but it was watery, bland, and generally an embarrassment compared to the chilis my dad makes. He very diplomatically did not call out my subpar chili-making abilities, but I felt ashamed nonetheless. So the next time S made chili, I watched him and learned his secrets for making a thick, filling chili: Don’t add water or vegetable broth. Use tomato paste. Add a little brown sugar or molasses. Brilliant. My chilis have never been the same.

And of course, once you know the rules, you can break them! This three-bean chili totally ignores the no-water rule, but only because the addition of uncooked millet necessitates adding a little more liquid for the millet to soak up as it cooks. You could, of course, eschew the millet and its attendant water and go for a more traditional chili. But then you’d lose out on the 21 grams of protein and hefty dose of iron that the 3/4 cup of millet adds to this dish… and you’d lose out on a unique spin on traditional chili.

Three-Bean Millet Chili

Three-Bean Millet Chili
Serves eight

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red or yellow onion, diced (reserve about 1/4 cup for serving)
  • 1 poblano pepper, de-seeded and diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced (reserve about 1/4 cup for serving)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (or more, depending on your tastes)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon Mexican oregano (but you can probably use regular oregano just fine)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Dash allspice
  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 3 15-oz cans diced tomatoes (fire-roasted if you have ‘em!)
  • 15 oz water
  • 2 tablespoons strong brewed coffee (optional but recommended)
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • 3/4 cup dried millet
  • 15 oz dark red kidney beans
  • 15 oz pinto beans
  • 15 oz black beans
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Scallions for serving (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-low. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes, then add the two diced peppers. Cook for another 5 minutes, then add the spices. Stir to coat the vegetables, then mix in the roasted red peppers and the tomato paste. Add the diced tomatoes, water, coffee (if using), sugar, and millet and turn up to medium heat. Bring to a low boil and cook for about 20 minutes or until the millet is soft. Add the beans and simmer for another 15 minutes with the cover off to help any excess liquid evaporate. Like most chilis, this one benefits from as much simmering time as you can give it!

When you’re ready to serve, top each bowl with a sprinkle of diced onions, green peppers, and sliced scallions.

~~~

When S tried his first bite, he exclaimed, “Mmm, this is good!” Dad, I think even you’d approve of this one!

What’s your favorite chili recipe?

Pumpkin Quinoa Muffins

Ah, weekends. I truly enjoy my job, but I still relish the no-obligations charm of the weekend. With a few exceptions, this Saturday morning was top of the charts. Reading, coffee, toast, cool autumn air, yesterday’s Diane Rehm show, the scent of pumpkin muffins in the oven… what’s not to love? (Cleaning Luna’s mucus-puke off the sofa, but let’s not get into that.)

I don’t know about you, but when I cook a pot of grains, I always make extra. Brown rice, quinoa, whatever—it’s a sure thing that we’ll use it up, whether it’s in a lazy lunch like a burrito bowl or a slightly more time-consuming meal like Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Soup. So when I prepped the quinoa for last week’s Nutty Quinoa-Stuffed Delicata Squash, I made extra. Instead of incorporating it into a savory dinner dish, though, I decided to try putting quinoa into muffins. And I’m really glad I did. I love the slightly nutty taste and the not-quite-crunchy texture it adds, not to mention the nutrition boost!

Pumpkin Quinoa Muffins

Pumpkin Quinoa Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup wheat germ (or more flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Dash cloves
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • Heaping 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar (or more coconut sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cooked and cooled quinoa

Preheat the oven to 350˚ and prepare a dozen-muffin tin using liners or a light spray of oil.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Stir in the wheat germ, if using.

In a small bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients (not including the quinoa) and the sugar(s) until well combined. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the wet. Using a plastic spatula or a wooden spoon, stir gently to combine, but don’t overmix. Fold in the quinoa, then add the batter to the prepared muffin tin with a spoon. Fill each well about 3/4 full. Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before eating.

~~~

Fair warning: If you have a major sweet tooth, you might want to add more coconut or brown sugar to these babies. Although my younger self would probably recoil in disgust at this development, I find myself less drawn to sugary-sweet baked goods these days. (With a few notable exceptions!) Especially when those baked goods might well constitute my breakfast. So these muffins, which are spicy and quinoa-y and not so sweet, are my perfect fall breakfast snack. I think they could only be more perfect if I’d used spelt or whole-wheat pastry flour, but alas—we have neither in the house right now, and S took the car this morning, and I was too lazy to walk over to the grocery store. Ah, Saturday.

What’s your ideal Saturday breakfast? What else should I put quinoa in?!

Nutty Quinoa-Stuffed Delicata Squash

LVV MoFo 2014 main

On the drive home from work this evening, S asked me what I was planning to make for the last day of Vegan MoFo.

“Something with that Delicata squash that’s been sitting around for a week,” I said. “Maybe stuffed squash. Any ideas?”

He barely had to think about the question before answering.

“Nuts! And dried cranberries!”

Nuts and dried cranberries it is. For the last day of September, I put together a dinner that’s pretty to look at and fun to eat. Quinoa gets an autumnal makeover as the filling for the melt-in-your-mouth Delicata squash, and the spice combo evokes all the best fall flavors. A hint of cinnamon and maple syrup adds a touch of sweetness, and the toasted nuts provide a little crunch. The filling would make an excellent gluten-free Thanksgiving stuffing alternative on its own! As written, though, this recipe is a surprisingly satisfying and filling dinner.

Nutty Quinoa-Stuffed Delicata Squash

Nutty Quinoa-Stuffed Delicata Squash
Serves two

  • 1/2-1 tablespoon Earth Balance
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup celery, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • A couple grinds of fresh pepper
  • Dash cinnamon
  • 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted nuts (I used a mix of hazelnuts and walnuts)
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened dried cranberries
  • 1 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 Delicata squash, split lengthwise, with the seeds and stringy bits scooped out
  • A little extra Earth Balance or coconut oil

Preheat the oven to 425˚ and fill an 8″ x 8″ (or 9″ x 9″, depending on the size of your squash) baking pan with a thin layer of water.

Melt the Earth Balance in a small pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and celery and cook for about 5 minutes until they start to soften. Add the spices and maple syrup and stir so that the onion and celery are coated. Cook for another 3 minutes or so, then remove from heat.

In a large bowl, mix together the quinoa, toasted nuts, dried cranberries, and the onion and celery mixture. Scoop into the cored Delicata squash and pack tightly. The filling can come up over the edge a little bit, but not too far. You’ll have extra, but that’s okay. Dot the filling with a little coconut oil or Earth Balance. Place the squash halves in the prepared pan, add the remaining filling to a small baking dish, and place on the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 30 minutes or until the Delicata squash is browned on top and is pierced easily with a fork. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before eating. Drizzle with a little extra maple syrup if you’re feeling indulgent!

Nutty Quinoa-Stuffed Delicata Squash

Besides being my favorite squash for its ease of preparation (you can eat the skin, so no need to remove it!) and its creamy texture, Delicata is rich in vitamin A and vitamin C. Quinoa, of course, is a phenomenally healthy little seed, and it’s really what gives this dish its nutritional punch. One serving (one filled half squash) provides 24 grams of protein, 41% of your RDV of iron, and 11% of your RDV of calcium. That’s a pretty darn strong finish to my “Where do you get your protein?!” month, wouldn’t you say?

And what a month it’s been! I’ve really enjoyed myself. Sure, I had a few lazy days, but overall I’m proud of the recipes I created and the consistency with which I was able to put them together. And, for the first time in a while, I’m feeling inspired to keep creating recipes and to continue blogging. Hold me to it if I don’t!

And with that, I bid this year’s Vegan Month of Food a truly fond farewell.

What’s your favorite squash? If you participated in Vegan MoFo, how did it go?

MoFo Monday

LVV MoFo 2014 mainOh boy! S and I spent most of today driving back to Maryland from Rhode Island. It was an easy-peasy drive and I have no complaints, but by the time we’d picked up Moria from S’s mom’s house and finally got home, I was sleepy! In other words, not in any shape to mess around in the kitchen. (Plus, we need to go grocery shopping…)

So today, on the last Monday of Vegan MoFo, I’m basically extending Lazy Sunday to share some other bloggers’ recent recipes that have caught my eye (and tickled my tummy). These are not, strictly speaking, in line with my healthy-ish MoFo theme, but… it’s the end of the month and you deserve to treat yoself. If you make any of these, report back!

What MoFo recipes are calling to you today?