Wednesday, September 21, 2011

a quiet morning on the moor front

Getting up at 6am has its benefits. It's still quiet inside the Moor House because no one else is awake and it's dark outside; which means I get to see the misty grey morning that has been greeting us frequently here in so-Cal. It makes me feel like fall is really here, even though it ends up being around 80-something degrees by noon with the sun a-shining brightly. I've already divulged about how much I love fall so I won't get into it again, except to say that we received a Disney family magazine yesterday that had costume fall craving was spurred even more. Oh and my mom told me the other day that the leaves were starting to change colors back home...killing me a little bit.

But in all seriousness, this morning's breakfast was inspired purely by this deep craving for REAL fall weather - we're talking Autumn in New York status. And by the fact that I have a bag of quinoa that needs to be eaten. I know quinoa doesn't expire technically, but when this bag has been staring at me every time I've gone to the pantry for the last seven few months (give or take), I start to feel bad for those cute little seedlings. And so, I give you Chai Apple Spice Breakfast Quinoa. 

I bought some chai spice from Mohini Indian Fusions at the Modesto Certified Farmer's Market while I was home this summer and it was one of the best investments. Home made chai is so much better than store bought, pre-made chai. And I get to use this lovely concoction of spices to flavor up anything I want - I wouldn't recommend putting the loose spices in coffee though, not so fun drinking little chunks of the stuff. But it's perfect in this breakfast quinoa. The combination of the apples natural sweetness when warmed and the distinct spice of the chai creates a beautiful image of spiced apple cider from the crockpot that my mom makes around Christmas time...yep that's it. That's the warmth that I'm enjoying this morning, I hope you do too...

Chai Apple Spice Breakfast Quinoa (single serving)

Cooking the quinoa...
  • 1/4 cup dry quinoa
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice
Place quinoa in a saucepan with milk. Turn heat to high and bring mixture to a boil. When it boils, turn heat down to very low, cover and let simmer for 13-15 minutes. After this time is done remove from heat, keep covered and let sit for 5 minutes. Remove cover and fluff with fork prior to serving. Meanwhile....

Chai Spiced Apples...
  • 1 medium apple of choice (I used Fuji) diced
  • 1 tsp. chai spice mix (the mixture I use has fennel, ginger powder, cloves and cardamom)
  • drizzle of agave syrup
Finely dice apple and place in a small microwaveable bowl. Add 1 tsp. of spice mix and drizzle agave on top. Heat in microwave for about 30 seconds. Remove and stir, then heat for an additional 30 seconds. Stir and when quinoa is done cooking, pour on top of apple mixture. Mix the whole thing together and enjoy with warm beverage of choice, preferably on a cool, foggy/misty autumn morning...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

my little pumpkin...

Now that there have been a couple of days in a row with fall weather, I decided to officially make my first pumpkin recipe. You have to understand that I don't mess around when it comes to pumpkin - I will probably go through at least 10 cans of it and a couple of whole ones before winter ends. And why wouldn't you!?! It's delicious, it screams fall, it's beautiful, it fills the entire house with the smell of autumn and spice and love and warmth...I could go on, but I won't because I'm sure you understand.

So, to start off this beautiful and finally fall season (that will probably disappear in a couple of weeks knowing southern I whipped up a batch of my very own (the Moor House's very own) pumpkin syrup. For use in coffee - at home pumpkin spice lattes? Yes, please. Or for the non-coffee drinkers, as an ice cream or pancake (more likely for crepes courtesy of our very own Stina) topping, soy pumpkin steamer, etc... It's pumpkin, it's delicious, it'll be gone in about a week. Make it now or forever hold your peace...

Pumpkin Spice Syrup
adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 TBS ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 3 TBS pumpkin puree
Over medium heat, combine water and sugar until the mixture is completely clear. Stir in remaining ingredients and continue cooking for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Do NOT let mixture come to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. Strain mixture through a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer into container of your choice (it looks divine in a mason jar). Syrup will keep in the refrigerator for awhile. Enjoy in whatever form suits your fancy - close eyes, breath in deeply and feel the fall all around you...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

let's play catch up...

Oy! It's been way too long since the last post - I guess I'm still getting used to this whole blog thing. However, now my mom and dad have read this and think I'm a really clever writer (insert curtsy and bow here). And my mom really wants this cake recipe I just tried so I think it's about time to share it!

It really was a delightful cake - once again inspired by Roost (that word looks really funny after you look at it for awhile). I had been wanting to try this recipe for her Harvest Cake with Vanilla Cream, but had been a little put off with the late summer here in SoCal. I mean honestly, who wants to be in a kitchen baking something all warm and autumnal when it's a gajillion degrees outside?? No one. Period.

But it had finally cooled off a bit and I needed a dessert to take to an event that the sorority I was in, in college (so weird to talk about it past tense) - Alpha Delta Chi, the only (and most awesome I might add) Christ-centered sorority. I love these girls and being a part of this sisterhood is such a blessing! But anyways, I decided to try this Harvest Cake. One particular plus is that it is made with almond flour and therefore gluten free - woo!!! It's not your typical cake recipe - especially not for a sorority event with a group who looooves desserts - but it got rave reviews and I am definitely going to make it again for my roomies. I didn't have all of the ingredients for the Vanilla Cream, so I made a caramel sauce that I would normally use for caramel corn (recipe for that coming this weekend - be excited) and it was delicious! The caramel caramelized (go figure) on top of the cake, and then soaked into the cake making it extremely moist. Also, I just learned that almond flour/meal makes whatever you use it in more moist than regular flour so the combination of the two was dee-vine! The addition of the grated carrot, zucchini, and apple and cinnamon makes the cake so perfectly fall-y it was nearly impossible to resist. So, as autumn FINALLY approaches, celebrate with this cake. Oh and did I mention that it won't be a kickstart to the downward spiral that is holiday baking? Yeah, I knew that would help....

Harvest Cake with Caramel Sauce
adapted from Roost Harvest Cake with Vanilla Cream

  • 3 cups almond flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp.
  • 1/2 salt
  • 1 1/2 cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil 
  • 1/4 cup raw agave syrup
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 1 cup grated zucchini 
  • 1 cup chopped apple
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9 x 13 baking pan with parchment paper. Place chunked carrot and zucchini in food processor to grate. Roughly chop apple. Set these ingredients aside. In a bowl combine dry ingredients. In a separate bowl combine wet ingredients (including carrot, zucchini, and apple). Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir to incorporate. Pour into prepared cake pan and bake at 350F for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

Caramel Sauce
  • 1/2 cup butter (we use Earth Balance in my house - vegan friendly)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup raw agave syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda 
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once butter is mostly melted, add brown sugar, agave and salt. Bring to a boil, making sure sugar is completely melted. Boil for about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add baking soda and vanilla; stir. The sauce will start to get frothy as you stir in the baking soda and vanilla. Once everything is incorporated, pour the sauce directly on top of the cake. Allow to sit before serving so the caramel has a chance to soak into the cake and caramelize on top. Enjoy with a cup of tea and crackling fire place...

Sister Reactions:
Megan- "Oh my gosh Lauren, you need to make this like, all the time."
Bethany- "Oh wow, that's really good."

P.S.- Happy Birthday to our dear sister Jamie aka Periwinkle!!! This was her birthday cake, and since I won't see her today I hope she has an incredibly blessed day. I love you! 

Friday, September 9, 2011

vegan "chili cheese" sweet potato fries

Just a forewarning...these do not taste like your average artery clogging chili cheese fries. And it's not just the vegan part either - trust me, there is "fat kid" vegan food (ask my roommates, we all enjoy it every now and then) - these are actually healthy. Which is why they don't taste like regular chili cheese fries! My roommate Megan and I had talked about making sweet potato fries a few weeks ago and never got around to it. But, tonight had become a designated girl's night in with whichever roomies were available so it seemed like the perfect time to make them. And besides, sweet potato fries are one of my personal food weaknesses - I've been known to order them (and nothing else) for dinner on several occasions. So I got home and made the fries (baked, by the way). Then, in thinking about what should go with them (since I'd be sharing after all..I love you Megan) I thought about something warm and comforting and came up with the "chili cheese" part. Honestly, the mixture of tofu, peach salsa, nutritional yeast, and olives looks a little bit like baby food in the pan, but it tastes stinkin' delicious.

Nutritional yeast is a staple in our house. It is an excellent source of protein and vitamin B, and can be a great substitute for vegan cheese sauces. It's got kind of a funky flavor alone, but combined with salsa (for example) it really creates a thick, cheese sauce-y type of taste and texture. If there were a list of top 5 Moor House ingredient staples, nutritional yeast would be on it. 

So now, before we officially begin our girl's night in, here is the recipe for my Vegan "Chili Cheese" Sweet Potato Fries..

Sweet Potato Fries
  • 2 large garnet yams, sliced into desired fry shape 
  • 3TBS. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
Preheat oven to 400F. Dump all ingredients into a large bowl and mix until all fries are completely coated with the oil and spices. Pour the contents of the bowl onto a foil lined baking sheet and place in oven. Bake at 400F for 35 minutes, turning occasionally. Turn oven down to 200F and bake for 10 minutes. Remove to allow to crisp.

(I put mine back in the oven on the warm setting to reheat before assembling my meal.

Vegan "Chili Cheese" topping
  • 1TBS. olive oil
  • 1/2 block of extra firm tofu drained and pressed
  • 4TBS. nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 cup salsa (pick your favorite!)
  • 2TBS. sliced black olives
Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil. When hot, crumble drained and pressed tofu (with fingers) into pan. Stir to coat tofu with oil. Add salsa and nutritional yeast. This will create a thick mixture - try to imagine the glob of toppings on chili cheese fries and this is the idea you are going for ("glob" may not be the most appetizing description, but it's the first thing that popped into my head so that's the way it goes...) Stir in olives after about 5 minutes. Cook until tofu develops a slight crust on the outside, but there is still moisture in the mixture. 

To Assemble (makes 2 servings):
Split fries between two bowls, divide "chili cheese" mixture between the two and pour on top of the fries. Top with avocado and any other desired toppings. Sit down, enjoy..or devour..whatever method of consumption you prefer...

Pictures to come! 

Roomie Reactions...
Nicki (via text message): "UM - WHAT."
Megan: "I just want to keep eating all of these fries...."

oeufs number 2...

I made oeufs en cocotte a second time to include a photo. This time, I used mushrooms instead of tomatoes, and thyme and oregano instead of rosemary. The mushrooms added a really earthy flavor that complimented the rainbow chard nicely. Overall, the second go around felt more like a winter-y version of the dish and the first go around with tomatoes felt more like a summer-y dish. Try both! I think you'd be pleasantly surprised with the results...enjoy!
Oh and I'd like to introduce my official food photographer (and roommate) Jamie Davis...she's fantastic. Now this will be a feast for the eyes and the stomach...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A little further from my box...

One really great benefit of finally committing to a blog is that it forces me to try new recipes. I love cooking and I cook for myself  everyday, but usually stick to a select few recipes. Today's post is truly an adventurous move as far as my recipe experiments go...oeufs en cocotte. What is that you may ask? It translates to egg casserole and the real French version is super fatty and creamy and REAL. But, the recipe I used is also real, and creamy just a LOT less fatty. I was originally attracted to via, because she posted a recipe for a harvest cake with vanilla cream...if you know me at all, you know how much I love all fall recipes so this made my heart skip a little beat. Of course it's still blazing hot here in southern California so my taste of autumn has yet to come. Anyways, I started roaming around Roost, and found this recipe for oeufs en cocotte. I was intrigued. It involved ramekins and chard...two things I can honestly say I've never been inspired by before. I decided to try it, and I must say was more than pleasantly surprised by the result. It's this lovely little rustic looking dish that is so satisfying, I wanted more. Good thing I ate it before taking a picture, so now I have to make it again...darn. Oh, one last thing, this recipe is a single serving but the recipe made on Roost is for two...take your pick!

Oeufs en Cocotte
adapted from Roost Blog - Oeufs en Cocotte

  • half pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 onion chopped (I used yellow and it was delicious)
  • 1 small garlic clove minced
  • 1 cup chopped rainbow chard leaves
  • 1/2 TBS. dried oregano and rosemary
  • 1/4 cup finely grated parmesan
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper (to taste, I didn't use any salt)
  • one 7oz. ramekin (I think the one I used was bigger, but this is the size originally called for)
  • herbs of choice/balsamic vinegar for garnishing
Preheat oven to 350F. Place cherry tomatoes on a foil lined baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a saute pan with a little olive oil. Add onions and garlic and cook until onions are almost translucent. Add chard and cook until wilted. Add oregano and rosemary and cook for about 1 minute. Remove from heat and place in a bowl. Add parmesan to chard mixture and season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow mixture to cool - not completely, but a noticeable amount. 

Crack the egg and separate the white and the yolk. Pour the white into the cooled chard mixture and mix. 

Remove tomatoes from oven once they are done roasting, but leave the oven on at 350F. 

Place a SMALL pat of butter in the bottom of the ramekin and place in oven for about 2 minutes. Remove ramekin and fill with the egg white/chard mixture. Carefully place the egg yolk on top and as many of the roasted tomatoes as you like. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in oven for 15-20 minutes (or however long it takes until your egg is cooked to your liking - I like my eggs with absolutely no runny-ness so I cooked mine for 25 minutes). Remove from oven and garnish with herbs, balsamic, or leftover tomatoes. I roasted some asparagus with a little oregano, rosemary and olive oil and placed those on top with a drizzle of balsamic. Bon Appetit, mes cheres amies!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

In honor of the radiant bride and her soon to be hubby...

Today is the day that our former roommate and dear sister Hartley Adams marries her best friend, Ryan Klement!! Most of us are here helping with set-up, getting ready, and all the other prep that comes with a wedding. My job doesn't start for a couple moor hours so I decided to do a post in honor of the happy couple!

Whenever I make this and Ryan is at the house, he ends up munching before any of us girls can touch it - it's my stovetop Agave & Salt Popcorn. We eat a ton of this stuff in the house and for good reason, it's fantastic! Kettle corn is delicious - I'm a popcorn fanatic so I've tried my fair share of all different kinds (I confess, I've even been known to clean out an entire tube of the Trader Joe's Carmel Corn at a holiday wine exchange...) But seriously, this stuff is amazing. So, without further ado, I give you the goods! In honor of Hartley and Ryan - may God bless your life together with abundant joy and may He give me the strength to provide popcorn when needed!

Stovetop Agave & Salt Popcorn
• 1/2-1 cup popcorn kernels
• 2-3 TBS. vegetable oil
• raw agave syrup (can be found at nearly every grocery store, but I prefer Trader Joe's)to taste
• salt to taste

Heat oil in large pot over high heat. Place 2-3 kernels in the pot - when they pop, the oil is ready. Pour the rest of the kernels in the pot and cover with lid. Immediately start vigorously shaking the pot (did I mention this recipe also provides an awesome arm workout?) you will hear the kernels begin to pop, keep shaking until the popping ceases. When the popcorn is done popping, remove from heat and take off lid. Drizzle the agave over the top, then sprinkle with salt. Place lid back on the pot and shake again to distribute agar and salt throughout. Taste and adjust according to personal preference.

Cheers to Hartley and Ryan, I love you both!

Friday, September 2, 2011

When I should be napping...

I'm not vegan. Nobody in our house is completely vegan. But we try. Not necessarily to be vegan, but to try recipes that are vegan just because. And as of January I have a gluten allergy so that's been my latest challenge. It was super fun trying to explain to Hungarians who eat meals full of meat and gluten that I consume neither of these things (oh yes, I went to Hungary for two and a half weeks this summer). And every once in awhile I get cravings for delicious childhood meals - like mac and cheese. Who doesn't? But when you've got a house full of people who are lactose intolerant, gluten intolerant, vegetarian..blah, blah, blah it's not always easy or smart to make food that half of your house can't eat. And as mentioned in my little "about me" section, this is all about experimentation! So..I give you my latest experiment. I searched "vegan mac and cheese" on the amazing website I often get lost in,, and found this recipe on entitled "Reunited and It Tastes So Good!" It was love at first sight! Someone who understands these childhood cravings like a big ol' bowl of mac and cheese minus the stuff that most of my household doesn't eat! WOOOOO!!!

I took the recipe, modified it a bit and present it to you now. I didn't use non-dairy milk because I didn't have any that was technically mine, I added broccoli and tomatoes, I made a crust of ground flax seed and paprika, and I baked it  (think veggie pasta bake and mac & cheese with tomato soup and you'll have the result). So without further it is!

Gluten Free, Almost Vegan Mac & Cheese

  • 1 cup peeled and diced yukon gold potatoes
  • 1/4 cup shredded or finely diced carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 clove garlic finely chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1/4 nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • 1/8 tsp. turmeric (optional, for color)
  • 3/4 cup NF milk (or milk of choice)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup ground flax plus 1 tsp. paprika 
  • 1 cup chopped broccoli
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 pound gluten free pasta*
* I used Quinoa Veggie Curls Pasta, it's got a great texture and flavor and the color of the pasta adds some pizazz! Simply cook pasta according to package directions, adding chopped broccoli in at the last few minutes, and chopped tomatoes after you drain pasta. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place the cut potatoes, carrots, onion, and garlic in a small sauce pan, and pour in the water. Set over medium heat on the stove, and bring to a boil. Once the water reaches a vigorous boil, cover the pot, turn down the heat to medium-low, and let simmer for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are extremely tender.

Meanwhile, prep the other ingredients to speed things along. Place the cashews, nutritional yeast, salt, lemon juice, paprika, and tumeric (if using) in a food processor. Give these ingredients a light pulse just to begin breaking down the cashews slightly.

When the vegetables on the stove are fully cooked and ready, pour them into food processor along with all of the cooking water. Add in the milk, and turn on food processor to its highest setting. Thoroughly puree the mixture, until completely smooth and lump-free. With the motor still running, slowly drizzle in the oil, to allow it to properly emulsify. 

When completely lump free, pour over pasta, broccoli, and tomatoes and mix until all pasta is completely covered with sauce. 

Mix ground flax and paprika (if you have a grinder, I recommend buying whole flax seeds and grinding for each use as the flax will last longer this way and you can grind the paprika right into the flax). Spread half of the mixture on the bottom of a greased, glass baking dish.

Pour pasta mixture into dish, then spread the rest of the flax mixture on top. Place in oven and bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until there is a nice crust on top of the pasta. Enjoy while it's nice and hot!!

Roommate Reactions:
Jenna- "OH MY GOSH!! That's sooo GOOD!" (she almost didn't try any because she didn't want to make it ugly before I took a final picture, but I convinced her to cave. Hence the missing corner.)
Mady- "That was the best thing I've eaten in a really, really long time." 
Jamie- "Mmmm, that's very delicious! I really like the combination of the veggies and the pasta."