Cherry Apple Almond Couscous

Cherry Apple Almond Couscous

Cherry Apple Almond Couscous – aka, a party in my mouth. Awww yeah.

It’s the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo!) and Day 3 brings another fall-worthy dish. I’ll give you a break from the pumpkins, though, and just bombard you with apples.

This recipe comes from what has quickly become one of my favorite cook books, Vegan Yum Yum. This couscous was supposed to be stuffed into delicata squash, but I just made it on its own as a tasty side dish. I made it with a red delicious apple instead of the recommended Granny Smith. Sorry, Granny. No hard feelings!

Behold:

Cherry Apple Almond Couscous

Cherry Apple Almond Couscous

Lucky for you, the recipe is viewable in the Google Books preview – Delicata Squash Stuffed with Cherry Apple Almond Couscous (page 55). Just follow steps 3, 4, 5, and 8. Skip the rest (unless you want to stuff the couscous into squash, which I’m sure would be yummy too!)

Enjoy!

Killer Squash Apple Soup

Killer Pumpkins! Inspired by Killer Pumpkins!

Killer pumpkins? What?

OK… so the reference won’t make sense unless you’ve spent the day chasing killer pumpkins around in Ultima Online (which I’m about to go do more of). But you don’t have to play UO to enjoy some killer (pumpkin) soup!

October is my favorite month. Hoodie weather sets in. Hockey season begins. Halloween is awesome. And of course, there’s that little day called My Birthday. But maybe the most wonderful thing about October is the abundance of squash! That, and Vegan MoFo.

Vegan MoFo (the Vegan Month of Food) is a month-long celebration of vegan eats. I didn’t get my butt signed up in time to make the “offical” Vegan MoFo list, but I’m going to blog along anyway. The ultimate goal is to blog about vegan food 5 days a week throughout October.

Without further ado…

I scored some super-sweet local red delicious apples this week. With chilly weather ushering in the new month, I was in the mood for some SOUP! Isa’s got a great recipe for Butternut Apple Soup in her Appetite for Reduction cookbook, but all I had on hand was an acorn squash and some organic canned pumpkin. What the heck, right? Let’s rock this thing!

So after chasing around killer pumpkins all day, I took a stab at a Killer Squash Apple Soup.

Killer Squash Apple Soup

Killer Squash Apple Soup

This, my friends, is not your typical bowl of soup. It won’t be content to sit alongside a sandwich. No, this soup wants to be The Next Big Thing. The Star of the Show. This soup is not messing around.

It’s seductively sweet, and just when you start to fall head over heels, it gives you a nice little kick to remind you who’s boss.

There’s a good bit of rosemary beating around the bush, playing tag with the apples. The red pepper flakes, though, keep this soup from being a kiddie game. This is Big League soup.

I toasted some crusty bread and slathered it with Earth Balance and went to town dipping into this Killer Soup. It was divine.

And now, back to killing the killer pumpkins.

Apple Quinoa Salad, Take One

A Base Hit

So, my first attempt at recreating the apple quinoa salad I had at the Whole Foods bar last month wasn’t exactly a knock-it-outta-the-park home run, but I’d call it a base hit.

After some recipe hounding and some creative guessing, I came up with the first draft of the recipe:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 2 cups apple juice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 apples, diced
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds

Toast the quinoa dry, in a saucepan, for 3 minutes while dicing the apples. Add OJ and apple juice to the quinoa, along with all the spices. Simmer, covered, for 25 minutes. Add the apples, raisins, and maple syrup, and simmer 10 more minutes. Stir in almonds and serve.

It smelled wonderful and looked wonderful….

Apple Quinoa Salad, Take One

Apple Quinoa Salad, Take One

… but alas, it’s just a little too sweet for my taste.

That said, I have a *very* low sweetness threshold these days, as I don’t really eat anything sweetened anymore. My sweets come from fresh fruit. So this may be spot-on for somebody with a “normal” sweet tooth. I mean, there’s not even any added sugar, unless you count the maple syrup.

Next time I make this (and it’s definitely good enough to try again), these are my planned modifications:

  • Prep the quinoa with water instead of the apple juice/OJ combo.
  • Use 1 apple instead of 2. (This is just a preference thing – I was hoping the quinoa would be the star, but with so much apple, the apple was the star – which is fine if that’s what you’re going for!)
  • Cut the maple syrup back to 1 tbsp.

I’d say this recipe made 8 small servings. I enjoyed it warm last night and chilled this morning, and it works well either way. It reminds me of the flavors of apple pie – a nice twist on an American classic for this Independence Day weekend!

An Un-Winning Smoothie Combo

I’ve got another new recipe post coming up soon, but thought I’d jump on and share an un-winning smoothie combo that I came up with today (so that you don’t try it with the same results!)

Two things worked to my disadvantage: first, I was out of vanilla soy milk, so I used regular skim milk. I did not realize just how much flavor I actually get from the soy milk – it’s much more dense, maybe a bit more sweet, and… well, it’s vanilla. Second, the fruit combo I chose was not sweet or powerful enough to mask the taste of the greens – so this tasted more like cucumbers than anything else.

The mix:

1 cup skim milk
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
2 carrots
1 handful baby spinach
1/3 of a cucumber
1 whole apple
1 whole pear

So… it seems like fruits with stronger or sweeter flavors are required to mask out the taste of the greens. Strawberries are a standard component of my smoothies, and even when I only use 3 or 4 strawberries, they make a huge difference. I was just trying to mix it up today, and even though I used a whole pear and a whole apple, they weren’t sweet enough to be noticeable. I couldn’t even taste them.

The end result was incredibly bland and tasted mildly of cucumber. I won’t be making this combo again!