Pie Crust Crisps with Pumpkin Mousse and Whipped Cream | Deconstructed Pumpkin Pie | VeganMoFo 2017 Day Twenty

VeganMoFo 2017

Week Three: Ingredient Challenges
Deconstructed dish: Hipster style food. Serving it on a slate is optional.

I was tossing and turning the other night, awoken by a thirsty Moria who’d gotten up for a midnight drink, when the idea came to me: deconstructed pies. Pie crust — turned into individual crisps. Pie filling — turned into dip for said crisps. Whipped cream — because duh. A hands-on eating project where you have completely control over your pie-to-filling ratio.

It was, apparently, a better idea than the one I’d been planning on for this prompt: deconstructed pierogies, basically potato-onion patties, pan-fried and served with caramelized onions, sauerkraut, and cashew sour cream. Those fell squarely into the MoFo fail category; I tried making them in September and they were… not good. Gluey and dense, the patties reminded me more of a make-your-own-paste project than pierogies in any form.

Pie crust crisps with pumpkin mousseHappily, this deconstructed pie idea worked out much better. Although I think apple pie would’ve been lovely here — I’m imagining dipping the crust crisps into gooey apple-y filling — I opted for pumpkin, simply because I had a can on hand and knew I could whip up a mousse-like dip easily. This recipe is more like a template; play with it to create the deconstructed pie of your dreams!

Pie Crust Crisps with Pumpkin Mousse and Whipped Cream

Makes a whole lot

  • 1 recipe your favorite pie crust recipe (I used this one, swapping in 1/4 almond meal for some of the flour and using half coconut oil alongside the shortening.)
  • 1 recipe pumpkin mousse (I used this one, but used just two tablespoons brown sugar and 1/3 cup maple syrup. It’s not super sweet, so adjust accordingly. I also added spices to taste.)
  • 1 recipe aquafaba whipped cream or coconut whipped cream (The former is nice and light, while the latter is richer and creamier.)

First, prepare your pie crust dough according to the recipe’s instructions, including preheating the oven and lining a pan with parchment paper.

Roll the dough to a little less than 1/4″ thick, then cut into triangles. (I cut around a small plate, then sectioned that into eight triangles.) Move the triangles to a baking pan. Optionally, brush with aquafaba and sprinkle with a cinnamon-sugar mixture. Bake according to directions — mine took about 17 minutes. Don’t overcook!

While the crisps are baking, prepare the mousse and whipped cream according to your recipes.

Remove crisps from oven when just barely golden. Let cool before serving.

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Pie crust crisps with pumpkin mousse // govegga.com

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Vegan Pumpkin Streusel Muffins | VeganMoFo 2017 Day Ten

VeganMoFo 2017

Week Two: Behind the Scenes
 Secret ingredient: Is there an unconventional ingredient or product you use to make a certain dish that no one would suspect?

The idea of “hidden” or “secret” ingredients in my food has always weirded me out a bit, perhaps because I grew up with a younger sister who has some pretty severe nut allergies. “Hidden” nuts in food sent her to the hospital or to her emergency Benadryl/EpiPen stash more than once, so I’m all for transparency in labeling and serving.

That said, I appreciate the idea that sometimes an ingredient might put someone off a food if they knew what was in it. (Hey, kinda like those dumb-dumbs who don’t want to try vegan dishes even though they contain nothing weirder than vegetables, grains, and not-animal-based proteins!) I also appreciate the recipe developers who have found immensely creative ways to add nutrients to apparent junk food in an effort to healthify treats. (Though, to be honest, I personally want my junk food to be junk food and my treats to be treats!) Chocolate-Covered Katie in particular has a whole arsenal of ONE WEIRD TRICK-esque recipes, which rely on surprise ingredients to add moisture and flavor to (and reduce fat and sugar in) her baked goods. (See: a chocolate cake featuring cauliflower!)

So perhaps my issue is with semantics: Call it an “unexpected” ingredient and I have no quarrel with the notion. I even have a few recipes featuring unexpected ingredients of my own (black bean brownies, anyone?).

"Pumpkin" streusel muffins But one of my favorite ways to subvert expectations — while offering superior flavor — is a relatively simple one: using mashed roasted sweet potato instead of pumpkin. Much of the flavors we associate with “pumpkin” are actually the warming spices that typically accompany it, the cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and allspice that just scream “autumn!” to most Americans. In reality, pumpkin by itself is quite bland; it really needs the augmentation of said spices (and some sweetness) to shine.

I offer up in its place sweet potato, which plays just as well with those lovely spices yet has an inherent mellow sweetness of its own. Cup for cup, it also boasts more fiber, calcium, and vitamins A and C. Baked into a muffin and topped with a crumbly, oaty streusel, you get a treat that could easily pass for pumpkin. So, next time you fire up the oven to make muffins, pass over the pumpkin and pass me the sweet potato! (Just be on the watch for folks with sweet potato allergies.)

"Pumpkin" streusel muffins

“Pumpkin” Streusel Muffins

Makes 12

Muffin ingredients
  • 1.5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup roasted and mashed sweet potato
  • 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Streusel topping ingredients
  • 3 T softened butter
  • 3 T flour
  • 3 T rolled oats
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • Dash salt
Method

In a small bowl, mix together the streusel topping with a fork until crumbly and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Prepare a muffin tin by adding silicone or paper liners or spraying it lightly with oil.

In a large bowl, stir together the dry ingredients (flour through salt) and set aside. In a medium bowl, mix the wet ingredients (almond milk through vanilla extract, whisking to combine. Add the sugar and thoroughly mix.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet. Use a plastic spatula or wooden spoon to mix just until combined; do not over-mix. (If it’s too wet, add a tablespoon or two of flour. Some sweet potatoes seem dryer than others!) Scoop batter into the prepared muffin tin, filling each well about 2/3 full. Add a spoonful of streusel to the top of each muffin.

Bake for 18-20 minutes or just until a toothpick or other testing mechanism comes out clean. Enjoy! You’re not eating pumpkin!

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"Pumpkin" streusel muffins

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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?

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 granulated sugar or coconut sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar (or more regular sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil (or vegetable/canola 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 over-mix. 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?!

Note: This post contains an affiliate link. If you purchase something through my link, it costs nothing extra for you, but I get a few pennies. I’m not looking to make a fortune, just to cover hosting costs. :)

Pumpkin Spice Baked Oatmeal Bars

LVV MoFo 2014 main

I’m writing this post on Thursday night and I’m so very antsy! On Friday afternoon, S and I will be taking off for Rhode Island to meet baby Charlie. I don’t know how I’ll get through the work day tomorrow; I’m so excited! And then we’ll be in the car for eight hours or so… I wish we could fast-forward to the minute I get to wrap my arms around the teeny-tiny newest member of my family. But alas, time marches onward steadily! At least S and I will be armed with snacks galore so we don’t need to make a stop for dinner. He’s picking up fruit and a bag of Earth Balance white cheddar popcorn (SO GOOD), and I’ve made a sweet treat to keep us energized.

Pumpkin Spice Baked Oatmeal Bars

Pumpkin Spice Baked Oatmeal Bars

Makes eight bars

  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar (or pure maple syrup)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 cups rolled oats (I like Bob’s Red Mill Rolled Oats)
  • 1/3 cup wheat germ
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Dash cloves

Preheat the oven to 350˚. Spray an 8″ x 8″ baking pan or line with parchment paper.

In a small saucepan, heat the coconut sugar, coconut oil, molasses, agave nectar, and vanilla extract over low. Stir to combine as the oil melts. Once all ingredients are well mixed, turn off the heat and stir in the pumpkin puree.

In a large bowl, add all the dry ingredients and mix. Pour in the wet ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon or plastic spatula until the oats are coated and all ingredients are well mixed. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking pan and press down evenly.

Bake for about 30 minutes until the oats begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing with a sharp knife. If you’re patient, let them cool before eating. If not, they might be a little crumbly!

Inspired by this recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod.

Pumpkin Spice Baked Oatmeal Bars

Baked oatmeal bars strike again! I can’t help it; I just love this easy, on-the-go method of enjoying oatmeal. These bars are just sweet enough for me, but if you like a sweeter breakfast, you could substitute maple syrup for the blackstrap molasses. But then, of course, you’d lose out on the stellar benefits of my beloved blackstrap! Each bar gives you 13% of your RDV of iron, about 6 grams of protein, substantial fiber, and nearly your entire day’s requirement of vitamin A. Not a bad way to keep your tummy full on a drive up the east coast!

What are your favorite road trip snacks?

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through my link, it costs nothing extra for you, but I get a few pennies to help cover hosting costs.

Hot Pumpkin-Molasses Mug

LVV MoFo 2014 main

Real talk part deux: I nearly considered moving my Lazy Sunday posting schtick to today because, um, it’s Friday night and I’ve got things to do. (“Things” being “sitting around in my flannel PJ pants reading Agatha Christie and maybe drinking some wine if things get crazy.”) And then I thought, No, because “Lazy Friday” just sounds stupid. And then I thought, Maybe I can repurpose my Hot Molasses Mug! Blackstrap molasses has tons of calcium, and so does almond milk! And then I thought, No, you lazy fool. Stop being so lazy.

And then I remembered the Kathy Patalsky’s Hot Pumpkin Mug that I made last year for MoFo, and I realized that those mugs needed to meet. Stat.

Hot Pumpkin-Molasses Mug

Hot Pumpkin-Molasses Mug
Serves one

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
  • 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
  • 1/2 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Dash ground nutmeg
  • Dash salt

Blend all ingredients with a standard blender or an immersion blender until well combined. Transfer to a small saucepan and head over medium-low until the mixture begins to steam. Pour into a mug and enjoy.

~~~

I am, admittedly, still pretty lazy, because this recipe is obscenely easy. But holy heck is it good! It’s the perfect blend of two of my favorite flavors, with just a touch of pumpkin pie spices. And—get this—you will get 65% of your recommended daily value of calcium in this mug. 65%! (Well, assuming you use Trader Joe’s Unsweetened Original Almond Milk…) The iron content is not too shabby either at 24%. Guess my laziness paid off this time!

Pumpkin Overnight Oats (and a brief disquisition on calcium needs)

LVV MoFo 2014 mainMany of us think of essential nutrients in relatively simple terms: protein is for your muscles, iron is for your blood, and calcium is for your bones. Though the full story is obviously more complex, it’s not a bad summary in the case of calcium. 99% of the calcium in your body is stored in and used by your teeth and bones, and this is the calcium that’s affected by your diet. The other 1%, called serum calcium, is stored in your blood and isn’t affected by diet. (1) So for our purposes, we won’t concern ourselves with the 1% (insert your favorite wealthy-person joke here).

The other 99% of our bodily calcium takes on the crucial job of keeping our bones and teeth firm and strong. Throughout our lives, our bones actually remodel themselves frequently, taking up calcium and using it to form new bone-bits. (1) That’s why we can’t just stop worrying about our calcium when we “stop” growing—our bones actually don’t stop changing. They need constant sources of dietary calcium to perform that vital work. When we don’t get enough calcium, we’re at risk for osteopenia—a thinning of bone density. (2) Left unaddressed, osteopenia can lead to full-blown osteoporosis (“porous bone”). Folks with osteoporosis have significantly less bone density than they should, and they’re at an increased risk of bone fractures. (3)

As most of us know, postmenopausal women are one of the most at-risk groups for this disease. That’s because decreases in estrogen production during menopause reduce calcium absorption and increase bone resorption (the actual process by which your body breaks down calcium stored in bone and releases it into the blood). (1) But just being female puts you at an increased risk for osteoporosis, as does being caucasian, having a small body size, and being physically inactive. It’s important for children—especially girls—to reach their peak bone mass before adulthood, because having a high bone mass as a young adult is a solid indicator that you’ll retain that bone mass throughout your life. (3)

So, now to the million-dollar question(s): What should one eat to obtain maximum calcium? And how much calcium do we need, exactly? The NIH’s recommendations are a great place to start. As a non-pregnant, non-lactating female between 19 and 50, I need 1,000 mg a day. Where can I find those milligrams? Well, I can get 400 mg in just two tablespoons of my BFF blackstrap molasses. A cup of collard greens has 357 mg. Four ounces of tofu processed with calcium sulfate can offer anywhere between 200 and 400 mg. Various beans, greens, and calcium-fortified non-dairy products are also great places to start. There are a few factors that affect calcium absorption, however:

  • Vitamin D (whether food- or sun-derived) improves calcium absorption. (1)
  • Phytic acid and oxalic acid, which occur naturally in some plants (e.g. spinach) can inhibit calcium absorption. (1)
  • A high-protein diet can increase calcium excretion, but recent research indicates that simultaneous processes actually improve absorption, so the effects could cancel one another out. (1)

Whew! That’s a lot to think about. Let’s get to some food now.

Horizontal view of a small mason jar filled with a thick dark orange oat mixture.

Pumpkin Overnight Oats
Serves one

1/2 C + 1 T nondairy milk
1/3 C pumpkin puree
1 T blackstrap molasses (you can add more if you’re a fan like I am)
1 T pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon (I actually prefer closer to 1 tsp, but again, that’s just me!)
Dash nutmeg
1/2 C rolled oats

In a mason jar or other container with a tight lid, combine all ingredients except the oats. Shake vigorously until well-combined. Add the oats and shake again. Place in fridge and cool overnight.

Diehard readers might recognize this recipe from last year’s MoFo. I have to share it again, though, because it’s a great source of calcium! One jar gives you at least 30% of your daily value (more if you load up on the blackstrap molasses). That’s a great way to start your day.

Sources cited:

(1) http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-HealthProfessional/
(2) http://www.spineuniverse.com/conditions/osteoporosis/osteopenia-osteoporosis-there-difference
(3) http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/vitamins/calcium.html

Note:

I’m neither a doctor nor a dietitian; please don’t treat my posts as medical advice! Consult a medical practitioner for specific medical or nutritional recommendations.

Seasonal Fruits Gone Savory: Creamy Pumpkin Pasta Bake


This week has been an odd one, work-wise. I took Monday off (since I was in RI) and then went in a bit late on Tuesday after flying back from RI in the morning. Wednesday through Friday is my 90-day orientation, a three-day blast of info that new hires don’t receive until they’ve been at my organization for about three months. Truth be told, I already know most of what we’ve been covering, so my mind has been wandering a bit, particularly today. This afternoon, I started thinking about what I was going to make for dinner. A worthy use of my brainpower, I think!

I decided to use that lackluster pumpkin fauxsage in a pasta bake. Not just any pasta bake, though—a creamy pumpkin pasta bake! A few quick Google searches convinced me that I was on to something promising. The results did not disappoint.

 

creamy-pumpkin-pasta-bake_9957561085_o

My bake featured fusilli pasta, diced pumpkin fauxsage, and a well-drained can of diced tomatoes. I topped it all with a creamy sauce. I don’t have a very precise recipe, but here’s what I whizzed up in my blender:

  • Pumpkin puree
  • Non-dairy milk
  • Yellow miso
  • Nutritional yeast
  • A glug or two of olive oil
  • A few small splashes of tamari and Bragg’s
  • Spices (herbed garlic salt, paprika, and black pepper)

I tossed my cooked pasta, tomatoes, and fauxsage with the sauce and baked it all, uncovered, for about 15 minutes at 350˚. It was a no-fuss, fairly easy, and very delicious dinner that prompted S to “remind” me that he always loves pasta bakes. Noted.

What’s your favorite type of pasta bake?

P.S. Yes, this is the second day in a row I’ve used an Instagram photo. I got a bit behind in my posts after my vacation this weekend, meaning that the past two nights I’ve needed to cook something, photograph it, and blog about it in the same night. It’s getting a little late in the month for good natural lighting, so Instagram it is!

Seasonal Fruits Gone Savory: Pumpkin Fauxsage


On the third day of MoFo, I blogged about my infused vodka fail.The one upside to the debacle, at least to my optimistic (ha) self, was that I thought I’d gotten my requisite MoFo fail out of the way early. Ah, hubris. As if I couldn’t mess up twice in a month!

Tonight, I messed up. I returned home from work with a headache and a bit of nausea. I didn’t particularly feel like cooking, but I needed something to blog about. So I decided it was time to use pumpkin in a savory application—fauxsage! I liked the idea of making an apple fauxsage and then a pumpkin fauxsage to compare the two. Once again, 500 Vegan Recipes offered a promising recipe.

Because I wasn’t feeling my best, I was not in the mood for particularly careful measuring of the spices. So when it came time to add a quarter teaspoon of nutmeg, I figured I’d just shake a few dashes into the bowl. I reached into my alphabetized spice drawer and grabbed a small jar from the location the nutmeg belonged. The nutmeg has one of those perforated tops that lets you shake out small amounts at a time, so I swiftly unscrewed the cap and upended the jar.

I’m sure you can imagine what happened next.

My “nutmeg” was actually dried lemongrass, and my dried lemongrass does not have a perforated lid. A couple tablespoons of the fragrant herb spilled out and tumbled into my dry ingredients, crowning the mound of wheat gluten and nutritional yeast and various spices with a pale green dust.

Whoops.

Shockingly, I didn’t become enraged and start cursing aloud. I just chuckled to myself and started skimming the lemongrass off the top with a spoon. I guess I did an okay job (or our lemongrass is super old and taste-faded) because the fauxsage had no discernible citrus tang.

pumpkin-fauxsage_9942109303_o

Like I did with the apple fauxsage, I served this pumpkin fauxsage with potatoes and sauerkraut again. Instead of boiling the taters, I did a lazy girl’s Hasselback potato and roasted the small sliced spuds with olive oil, salt, pepper, and paprika in a tinfoil packet. They were quite yummy! I wish I could say the same for the fauxsage, but alas—we both found it very bland and in need of a much stronger umami note. (The fact that I used water instead of vegetable broth probably contributed to that lack of savory flavor, but I did try to make up for it by using some seasoned garlic salt in the recipe… I should’ve added some soy sauce!) With a big ol’ forkful of sauerkraut, though, it was just fine.

Have you had any silly spice mishaps?

MoFo Monday: Pumpkin Coconut Caramel Sauce

Happy MoFo Monday! I’m still in Rhode Island, but I prepared this post ahead of time so I could gush about yet another coMoFoer. Except… just like last week, I’m breaking my own rules for this sub-theme. Yes, a MoFo participant *did* blog about this recipe, but… it’s from a cookbook she was reviewing. Oh well. Rules are for breaking, right? (No way, says my rule-abiding inner child.)

Anyway, when I saw this post for Pumpkin Coconut Caramel Sauce come up in my Feedly last weekend, I immediately knew I was going to blog about it. Ever since discovering the magic that happens when you combine coconut oil or milk with a sugar or syrup, I’ve been salivating over any coconut-based caramel recipe I encounter. So this one, with its addition of pumpkin, was a siren syrup I couldn’t resist.

Now, here’s the thing: this recipe comes from Kathy Hester’s new slow cooker book. And I… well, I don’t exactly have a slow cooker. We have S’s rice cooker, which has a slow cooker setting. And I’m just assuming it does the same thing as a “real” slow cooker. It certainly works just fine for chilis and the like!

So I made this caramel in the rice/slow cooker. It didn’t thicken up as much as the caramel in the photo, but I can’t exactly blame the rice cooker because I also only cooked it for a little over five hours… I had to go to bed, and I didn’t want it to reduce down completely overnight.

Other than tasting a little spoonful of this caramel, I’ve only used it in my coffee, with mixed results. Visually, coffee with this caramel is quite unappealing—the oils in the caramel create a nasty shiny ring around the coffee, tinged bright yellow from the pumpkin. It looks positively radioactive. But it adds a mellow, subtly sweet pumpkin flavor that’s definitely appealing.

So, my verdict? If you’ve got a slow cooker, go for it! I’m excited to try it on oatmeal (big surprise) and maybe pancakes.

How do you use your slow cooker? 

I apologize for the lack of photos—I just didn’t have time to snap a good one before heading to RI!