Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Homemade Sparkle Candy Apples

Homemade Sparkle Candy Apples

It's about that time again...no not just back to school time...CANDY APPLE TIME...Okay, okay I know, I'll calm down. But we all look forward to certain things. Me, I love the fall! The crisp air and the even crispier apples. The joy of picking and that first juicy bite, you are sure to have it remind you of your childhood. It's those nostalgic treats that bring us back to those treasured times in our lives.

Whether it's fall or the summertime, we enjoy certain treats. These treats could be homemade or bought, we still are nostalgic in it's enjoyment. Candied apples are the most nostalgic for me. I can remember any carnival or amusement park always choosing a big candy apple. To this very day I still choose these big candy apples as my treat and still feel the same way I did back when I was little. The excitement of the purchase, the smell as you unwrap, and the first sticky and difficult bite trying to break threw the candy shell. Before you know it, the apple is gone and you are pining for another one already. These apples are usually purchased premade from carnivals, fall events, or store bought. They come in many flavors, colors, and quality varies. I have got the occasional bad apple and I'm always disappointed when that happens.

This recipe shows you how to not only make but enjoy the process that is Candy Apple making. These candy apples are turning up the glitzy factor but including an extra beautiful candy shell. Candy apples can be fun and enjoyable while making them but also can be different than the rest. It's extra nice because it's an art, you can make them with your favorite apples and any of your favorite flavors and/or colors. These apples are different but so easy to master. A great treat for adults and kids alike because it's one of those treats we grew up enjoying over and over again. This recipe shows you how to make a perfect candy apple every time. Serve these at parties and event or just a special dessert on the weekend. Theme them with holidays or parties and enjoy year round.

Homemade Sparkle Candy Apples

Yields: 12 to 15 Candy Apples

Ingredients
Candy Apple Base

12 to 15 regular sized organic green (granny smith) apples (crisp & holds up to the heat)
3 cups organic raw sugar
1/2 cup organic light corn syrup
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon vegan food coloring (any color you like)

(Sparkle Spray Below)


Equipment Needed

Candy thermometer

24 Popsicle sticks or thick pointed candy apple sticks

Directions

Wash and thoroughly dry the organic apples.

*You want to use organic apples, because not only are wax on apples not vegan but the wax on the apples prevents the candy coating from adhering to the outside. Organic or fresh picked apples work best in the situation. 

For this recipe I use granny smith (green apples), you want to use a crispy thick skinned apple. The candy coating can blister other apples and make for a mushy outcome. Once washed and dried, insert the lollipop sticks or Popsicle sticks so that they are firmly positioned in the apples. Set the apples aside. Prepare your cookie sheet, by lining them with wax paper and liberally greasing them. You do not want the apples to stick to the sheet after coated.

Combine the sugar, corn syrup and water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Bring it to a boil and cook the mixture until a candy thermometer reaches 300 Degrees F (the hard crack stage).

*If you want to test your candy when it gets to this point, drop a couple a drops of the candy into a glass of cold water, you will instantly see the candy form into hard candy strings and it will be ready for dunking.
When the candy reaches 300 degrees (this will take time), remove the candy mixture from the heat and carefully stir in the food coloring and extract (it may splash, so stand back). You may have to add more than the designated 1/2 teaspoon, depending on the quality and strength of your food coloring. I used a vegan gel food color.

One by one, carefully and quickly dip the apples into the candy mixture, swirling to coat them thoroughly and allowing any excess to drip back into the pan. Transfer the coated apples to the prepared cookie sheet and allow them to cool until the candy has fully hardened.

Sparkle Spray

Ingredients

1 to 2 containers luster dust or pixie dust, .25 ounce (found at most craft stores and cake decorating sections, in many colors)

I/2 cup vodka

1 Food-grade paint air brush or spray bottle

Directions

Whisk 1/2 cup vodka into the luster or pixie dust. If the mixtures seems too thin or pale, add 1/4 teaspoons of pixie or luster dust. Keep adding the glitter dust in 1/4 teaspoon increments and whisking until the mixture has the consistency of ink or watery paint. Add this mixture into a spray bottle or air brush and use on candy apples. Spray each hardened apple liberally and allow to dry.

Once the candy apples are hardened and the sparkle "paint" is dry (at least 30 minutes but up to 24 hours), remove from tray, wrap, and decorate as desired. Not only will these be delish but they will almost be too beautiful to eat...almost! Enjoy!

-Amy

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Ultimate PB & J Protein Bars (Vegan/GF/High Protein)


Ultimate PB & J Protein Bars
(Vegan/GF/High Protein)


We are well aware of the protein bar aisle. The never ending choices and the pretty wrappers. But do we really know what's in them?? I begin to read them and wonder if I should be eating them...or wondering if they are a weird science experiment. There are so many unpronounceable words and I really wonder if this will actually be any good for me. So I decided to take it upon myself to make my own...how hard can it be? Well I'd have to say, easy-peasy. This recipe wil show you that with just a bunch of very wholesome ingredients (readable to boot) and a little time you will be more than happy to walk past that supplement bar aisle and decide to make your own instead. You don't need those shiny packages! You can change up the flavors, add your own ingredients to your own taste, and enjoy them over and over again. Pair them with vegan milk for breakfast or enjoy as a snack. However you make it, you won't be dissapointed with the outcome. Enjoy!

Ultimate PB & J Protein Bars
(Vegan/GF/High Protein)

Ingredients

2 cups old fashioned oats (use gluten free if desired)
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 very ripe organic bananas, mashed
1/4 cup low sugar jam or preserves (favorite flavor)
1/2 cup vegan milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons Protein Powder (Favorite flavor), I used unflavored
1/3 cup organic almond butter
1/4 cup powdered peanut butter
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1/2 cup ground wheat germ
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, chopped

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Grease an 8 x 8 pan.

After prepping your pan, prepare your stand mixer or hand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment.

Start by mixing the dry ingredients together: oats, brown sugar, baking powder, flax, germ, salt, and cinnamon.



Next, start with prepping your wet ingredients. In your stand mixer, add your bananas to break them down into mush. Continue to add the rest of the wet ingredients to combine.











Once the both your mixtures are ready, you are going to mix them both together.





Lastly, once mixed, fold in the chopped peanuts.





Place the mixture in your prepared pan and spread into an even layer. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown and cooked threw.





Remove from the oven and allow to cool before cutting. Once you have cut into portions, enjoy along side a glass of vegan milk for breakfast or a snack. Enjoy'

-Amy

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Vegan Lentil Baked "Beans"

Vegan Lentil Baked "Beans"
Baked Beans and summertime go hand and hand, making a perfect pair. But when I see baked beans, I don't usually think of lentils. This great side dish is a new way to think of a summer time side dish. With the replacement of lentils, you get an even better recipe to enjoy. These ingredients are simple but when combined, turn into a DELISH dish! This recipe shows you how to make a traditionally yummy and  perfect baked bean...but NEW and improved, plus they are vegan....BONUS! These "beans" continue to stew away during the day and fill your house with a mouth watering aroma that any family member will love. Great for any picnic, BBQ, party, or family night, you can't go wrong. You will have your family and friends asking for seconds and thirds, as well as the recipe. Perfect paired with your favorite main dishes as well as a great late night snack...yeah we all do it too. Serve hot or enjoy cold with your favorite main dish. And we won't tell if you sneak tastes out of the pot here and there, but make sure you leave enough for the family too! Enjoy!

Vegan Lentil Baked "Beans"

Ingredients

1/4 cup vegan bacon (any kind you like, I used the salad topping kind)
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups lentils, thoroughly rinsed
6 to 7 cups water 
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup yellow mustard
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
3 Tablespoons cider vinegar
1 Tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons brown sugar sugar
2 Tablespoons mustard powder
1 large bay leaf
1 teaspoon liquid smoke 
2 Tablespoons molasses 
Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Ingredients

Heat the oven to 350 degrees

In a large dutch oven (the kind that can go on the stove-top and in the oven). Add the lentils, water, and the remaining ingredients.

*TIP: You can  boil your lentils beforehand to lesson the cooking time OR you can also make these in a Crockpot for even more of a set and forget recipe.*








Stir well to incorporate everything.



Cover, place in oven, and bake for 1 to 2 hours, or until lentils are tender. Adjust water content if needed while they bake. They can dry out while cooking, if so, just add a little water and continue to cook. Once the lentils are cooked threw and tender, serve immediately or enjoy later at room temperature. Serve along side your other summer time favorites and enjoy!

Ready to Serve Lentils

 -Amy

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Gluten-Free/Vegan Lemon & Blueberry Pancakes


Comfort doesn't stop just because its Gluten-Free! We all want to have those familiar meals that make us feel warm and fuzzy inside. When those cravings come around, we should all have those options. When it comes to breakfast, we all think of those familiar pancakes. I can't think of a better comfort food that we LOVE to indulge in, on a nice Sunday morning...or even the occasional dinner (Yes we all LOVE breakfast for dinner). This recipe shows you how to make not only a craveable pancake, but also a vegan & GF pancake. These pancakes are a fool proof recipe that will make you remember why we love and crave that mapley carb in the morning. But the difference is, everyone can enjoy them and no one will know they are any different from the original. You can switch up the flavors and toppings to any given day and they freeze great for future meals. Pair them with your other breakfast favorites and a big glass of vegan milk. You will wish every meal is breakfast, Enjoy! 

Gluten-Free/Vegan Lemon & Blueberry Pancakes


Ingredients

-1 1/2 cups GF Flour 
-1 heaping cup organic blueberries
-3 Tablespoon Sugar
-2 Tablespoons Baking Powder
-1/4 teaspoon Salt
-1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
-1 1/2 cup vegan milk
-1 whole organic lemon, zested & then juiced (juice will vary, that's ok)
-2 Tablespoons oil or melted vegan butter  (your choice)
-1 1/2 teaspoons pure Vanilla extract

Directions

Combine the flour, sugar, xanthgum, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and mix well. 

Mix in the vegan milk, juice, zest, extract,  and oil.




Whisk all of these ingredients together until the batter is blended together and smooth but don't over whip too long. 


Once it is mixed, fold in your blueberries.  Some lumps from the batter are okay. 



Let this pancake batter rest for 5 to 10 minutes until you see the mixture looking bubbley and frothy. 


Heat a griddle or frying man over medium high heat with enough vegan butter or oil to cover the surface. (1 to 2 tablespoons) 


Drop 1/4 cup of batter one at a time onto the hot oiled griddle. 


When bubbles appear on the surface of the pancake, approximately 3-4 minute, flip and cook the other side for another 3 to 4 minutes or until both sides are golden brown and firm to touch.


Reapply butter/oil to griddle if it gets dry. Serve with your favorite vegan butter, syrups, vegan whipped cream, or even jam. Enjoy!



INFO & Tip
*Makes around 10 pancakes, less if you do bigger. You will want leftovers...so make extra batches for the freezer! Microwave for 30-60 seconds and you have fresh homemade pancakes in the AM.*

-Amy

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Vegan Lemonade Cupcakes


Vegan Lemonade Cupcakes
I love to change up the flavors of cupcakes, you don't want to get bored do you? ...Okay I don't think you can get bored with any kind of cupcake but its nice to change it up right?. This recipe will remind you of that familiar refreshing drink treat you loved to drink and cool off with on hot days. With that yummy aromatic lemon flavor, paired with that creamy and dreamy lemon buttercream frosting. This cupcake is different in all the right ways. I will guarantee you will not be disappointed. Pair the cupcake with a big glass of vegan milk and relax with this familiar drink flavored treat. Enjoy!

Vegan Lemonade Cupcakes

1 Tablespoon vinegar
1 cup vegan milk
1/2 cup lemon juice
Zest from 1 lemon
2 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


*Pre-cut Straws & Vegan Sprinkles to Decorate (Optional)

Vegan Lemon Buttercream (Recipe Below)

Directions

Heat the oven to 350 Degrees.

Line your cupcake tin with paper cupcake liners and set aside.

Place the vinegar in the bottom of a 2 cup measuring cup and fill the cup with the vegan milk and lemon juice to equal 1 ½ cups. Stir well and set aside (the mixture will curdle).


In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 


Once you are ready to make the batter, place your mixing bowl in your stand mixer. In the mixing bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the vegan milk mixture, oil, vanilla, zest, and lemon extract. Add in the dry ingredients to the wet and beat until smooth using a hand-held mixer, stopping once to scrape down the sides of the bowl.



Once the cupcake batter is done, let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes. This mixture will become airy and light. Once you have your batter ready to use, fill each cupcake liner with ¼ cup of batter (if using flower cupcake liners, only fill half way up).


Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean.


Let the cupcakes cool in the pans for 3 to 5 minutes, then remove cupcakes from the pan and place on a wire cooling rack. Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting. Once they are frosted and decorated, pair the cupcakes with a big glass of vegan milk and relax with this familiar drink flavored treat. Enjoy!

Ready to Frost Cupcakes

Vegan Lemon Buttercream

1 cup vegan butter or shortening
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon extract
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

Directions

In the stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the vegan butter or shortening and the exacts on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Once the vegan shortening mixture is creamed you can move on to the next step.


Add in your powdered sugar and switch the mixer to low, slowly adding in the lemon juice. Beat the frosting until incorporated, and then beat on medium high until the frosting is airy and thoroughly mixed, about 1 to 2 minute, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl.


Ready to use Frosting
Assembly

When the cupcakes are ready to handle and are cooled, using a piping bag (or with a spatula) frost the top of the cupcakes with the homemade vegan frosting. Decorate each cupcake with edible vegan sprinkles (optional) and a small straw. Serve and Enjoy!

*I took regular sized straws and cut them to fit each cupcake & topped each with vegan sprinkles.

-Amy 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Gluten-Free & Vegan Chocolate-PB Brownies


Gluten-Free & Vegan Chocolate-PB Brownies
What do we think when someone says...Chocolate, Fudgey, Decadent, and Yummy? I don't know about anyone else but my mind goes straight to brownies. Brownies are definitely one of the most decadent desserts out there and it always curbs any craving for chocolate. This recipe shows you how to make not only a brownie but a perfectly chocolaty, moist, and for a choco-PB-holic, perfect brownie. Oh and did I mention they are gluten-free and vegan...yeah, I know impossible right? Not even close, this is a fool proof easy recipe that you will want to make again and again. These brownies are completely craveable, cut into 9 bars/slices or smaller bite size pieces for on the go nibbles. With the perfect combo of chocolate and peanut butter, you will think you died and went to dessert heaven. Serve them with a big glass of vegan milk and watch your chocolate-PB craving disappear. Enjoy!

Gluten-Free & Vegan Chocolate-PB Brownies

Ingredients

Brownies
-1 cup gluten-free all purpose flour 
-1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
-1/4 cup vegan Chocolate Chips
-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
-1/2 cup sugar 
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/2 cup organic firm (or extra firm) gluten-free tofu
-1/2 cup applesauce
-1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon oil (of your choice)
-1/4 cup vegan milk
-2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Vegan Peanut Butter Frosting
-1/2 cup vegan butter or shortening
-1 1/3 to 2 cups powdered sugar (depending on PB Brand/texture)
-1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
-1 cup smooth peanut butter
-Pinch Salt

*Topped with vegan chocolate chips (optional) 

Directions

Heat Oven to 325 Degrees

Brownies
Combine all your brownie ingredients (except the flour) in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Pour in flour and on a low or dough speed until combined together. The mixture will be thick and very fudgey.

Brownie Batter

Once the mixture is combined, fold in vegan chocolate chips.

Vegan Chocolate Chips Added

Once you have the brownie batter, pour into 8×8 baking pan or a cake pan that has been greased well and dusted with the gluten-free flour (or none stick cooking spray) and cook for 25 to 30 minutes. The brownie will be firm, smell chocolaty (not burnt), and bounce back when pressed.


Greased & Floured Baking Pan
Ready to Bake Brownies

Once the brownies are done, let them cool in pan until ready to handle.


Baked Brownies

Vegan Peanut Butter Frosting

In the stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the vegan butter or shortening and vanilla on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Turn the mixer to low (stir setting), add the sugar and salt, mix until incorporated. Increase the speed to medium high and beat  and add in the Peanut Butter until fluffy, about 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl.




With the mixer on low, gradually mix in the powdered sugar. Beat on low until incorporated, then beat on medium high until the frosting is airy and thoroughly mixed, about 1 to 2 minute, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl



Assembly

When the brownies are ready to handle, frost the top of the brownie with the homemade vegan frosting. Let the brownies rest until the frosting has hardened slightly.  

When they are ready to cut, cut into 9 brownie bars/slices or smaller brownie squares. Store them in an airtight container or place in the fridge. Serve with milk and enjoy!

Ready to cut Brownies

-Amy