I grew up in a small foothill town near an area called Apple Hill. Apple pie might just run through my blood, and now that the weather has turned crisper, I can't stop making apple pie.
Really, though, the reason I can't stop is because I've finally just gone SUPER simple and discovered the most perfect apple pie (to my tastes).
2 store-bought pie crusts (I love cooking and baking, but pie crust isn't my bliss and I love the taste and texture of store-bought. When it's available, I like Wholly Wholesome, but since it's not sold near me I've just been using the generic from my local grocery store and loving it).
5-7 small gala apples (I go for all sweet, no tarts. My grandma would say you need tart apples and lots of sugar for pie, but I'm a fan of sweet apples and less added sugar).
1/4 - 1/3 cup brown sugar
1- 2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup flour
1 Tbsp vegan butter (I like Earth Balance)
Preheat oven to 450 and pull out pie crusts from freezer so they can thaw. I use the Johnny Apple Peeler that peels and slices the apples in a minute. It's not just some new-age gadget, this is a classic and for good reason. You could also peel by hand and then use a spiralizer, like this one, and use the slice blade. If you don't have this, you'll want to slice your apples nice and thin. This helps the seasonings spread all throughout your pie. Since this gadget peels and slices, I simply cut the slices in half for crescent moons.
Toss the sliced apples with the sugar, flour, and cinnamon with your hands, covering each slice (see, I'm not all gadgets). I gave some variation because I start with the smaller amounts of cinnamon and sugar, and taste them. If you think it needs a bit more, add more. Each apple is unique, so you'll get a feel for what it needs after tossing together.
Fill the shell with the apples, and then chop the vegan butter into 6-8 tiny pieces, and place around the top of the pile of apples. Turn over the second pie crust onto the first and press the edges down to seal.
Cut your cute design in the top to vent the pie using a knife or fork.
Bake for 10 minutes, then turn oven down to 330 degrees and bake for 30-40 more minutes until everything is golden and perfect. Nice thinly sliced apples ensure that your pie will be baked all the way through evenly.
Let cool, then eat up!
I hope this simple pie recipe makes your baking a bit easier!
Guess what? It's world vegan day. In honor of that, I've been working on putting together an e-book or maybe even a cookbook, but for now, I want to share our VERY easy meal plan for my household. You can expand on the ideas and make much more elaborate or homemade versions, but for today I want to share the easiest way possible to make 5 nights of dinners.
Mondays are notoriously hard, we all know it, so I like to do a simple pasta with marinara, roasted veg, and a green salad for Monday night dinner.
I like to use the Instant Pot to make my pasta, either simply making the pasta alone in salted water for 4 minutes on manual with a quick release and drain, or I cook the pasta in the sauce.
SUPER EASY VERSION: Jar sauce plus box/bag of pasta. I never liked marinara as a kid, but my kids love it, so that makes our life easy. While I cook the pasta in the Instant Pot, I throw some frozen broccoli or green beans in my Air Fryer with some garlic salt. While both are cooking, I cut up lettuce and other veggies for a green salad. So easy, an 8 year old can do it.
You could also try this Instant Pot Cheesy Marinara Pasta.
For years, we were purists and did baked tacos every Tuesday. They are crispy and delicious and they were wonderful. Lately, however, the kids have been requesting my homemade corn tortillas. I use my electric griddle, my tortilla press, and maseca and water for the easiest and most delicious tortillas. I've even been pureeing vegetables to make pretty colored tortillas with veggie goodness. Sweet bell peppers pureed with water make orange-yellow tortillas, spinach and cilantro make green tortillas, red cabbage pureed with water make purple tortillas, activated charcoal makes grey-black tortillas, pumpkin puree makes nice orange tortillas. It's all so fun and delicious. It's so easy for us this way, with tortilla press tacos.
We put refried beans and lettuce/salsa/etc on our tacos. I like to pulse some mushrooms and walnuts and garlic and brown in a pan with chili powder for a "taco meat," but the kids aren't as into it.
Other ideas for Taco Tuesday: tostadas, burritos, nachos, enchiladas, etc. Beans, rice, corn, and veggies are all so easy to veganize.
Wok This Way Wednesday
Rice plus stir fried veg is another easy vegan meal that works with whatever you have. You don't even need fancy recipes, get a jar of stir fry sauce (checking for fish sauce or other animal ingredients).
I make rice in my Instant Pot using the rice setting and it couldn't be easier. We either do stir fry or sushi bowls (seasoned rice plus avocado, roasted sweet potatoes, cucumber, etc).
My kids' current favorite stir fry sauce is for me to make mostly broccoli, but I add in whatever other veg I have on had. I cook on high with a little oil and then after veg is cooked I stir in some fresh garlic, maple syrup, and soy sauce. I simmer it down until the sauce is a nice sticky texture. The kids go crazy for this sauce. It's an easy and quick hit over rice. For protein I like soy beans or tofu cooked in the air fryer.
For Throwback Thursday I like to go for "meat" (beans) and potatoes or burgers (veggie burgers of course) and fries. There's tons of recipes out there, so I don't have any preference. Lately we've just been doing fries in the Air Fryer and store-bought veggie burgers or beans cooked quickly and easily in the Instant Pot.
For the super easy option, bake a potato or cook some frozen fries and serve with baked beans or chili and a salad.
Pizza Friday. Super easy solution is to order a pizza. Peta has compiled a handy list of how to order vegan from popular chains. If you have a local pizza place with vegan options, by all means support them.
To make your own pizza, you can do mini pizzas in the Air Fryer on pitas or make your pizza dough from scratch. I like the recipe in Thug Kitchen Party Grub, but mostly I just make it by feel. I have been making the dough earlier in the day and then storing in a gallon ziplock in the refrigerator. I preheat oven to 550 degrees, then roll out, top with whatever I like, and bake about 10 minutes. Super easy.
What about the weekend?
You're on your own! But seriously, whatever you'd like to eat, search for a vegan version of it and you'll find it.
I hope these ideas help you with some ideas about how to eat simple and easy meals 5 days a week. You can switch it up and mix it up and make a plan that fits you. For the winter, you may make one or two nights a week soup night. I like to vary my grains and beans, but you might find you wan the same for several nights and that works too. These are all just jumping off ideas.
Happy World Vegan Day!
My daughter has been asking to learn to cook more and more lately, so I recently let her make dinner all by herself- using gadgets, of course!
I talked her through it, but she did everything herself.
Step 1: Fill Instant Pot half way with water, add 1 lb bag of spiral pasta. Set to Manual 4 minutes and let it go.
Step 2: Pour a bag of frozen green beans into Air Fryer and spray with olive oil. Sprinkle with seasoning (she chose garlic salt). Set for 10 minutes at 400 degrees.
Step 3: Chop/slice various vegetables for salad. She chose lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, carrots, and mushrooms.
Step 4: Shake green beans.
Step 5: When Instant Pot is done, cover the vent with a cloth and release. Open lid and scoop out pasta as possible with a slotted spoon and toss with marinara (from jar).
It was such a simple and easy meal, but my girl was so proud of herself and we all enjoyed it so much. I love that gadgets made me feel confident letting her do all the cooking without the fire of the stove. Also, since things were timed automatically, I didn't have to make her watch the clock.
I love kitchen gadgets because they empower me and make cooking fun for me, and I love that I get to pass that on to my kids! The day after my daughter did this meal, I taught my son to make rice in the Instant Pot, which is our favorite way.
I wrote a children's book, How Our Vegan Family Celebrates, to help vegans and vegan allies know how to include vegans in their celebrations and give affirmation to vegan kids who may feel alone. The book goes through holidays throughout the year and has a section at the back with parent tips!
Order your copy here today!
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I love cooking and playing in the kitchen with my toys, so let me share that joy with you and your family to bring the FUN back into the kitchen!