Muddy Buddies

vegan muddy buddies (aka puppy chow)

If you know anything about me (or at least take a look at our desserts section), you'll know that I hate baking. The thought of mixing flour and sugar and leavening ingredients in a bowl makes me break out in hives. On the other hand, I love eating sweets. I'd be happy to eat them all day long, as long as someone else made them. (Sorry friends!)

So to get my sweet fix, I often turn to no-bake solutions. Muddy buddies (or puppy chow, if you like) is one of the most frequent seen in our house besides homemade candy bars, because it's so easy to make and we always have the ingredients on hand.

If you've never made them before, or would like to have a quick and easy sweet snack for yourself or an upcoming holiday party, try this out!

vegan muddy buddies (aka puppy chow)

Ingredients

These can vary based on what you have in your pantry, what you like, and how coated you like your muddy buddies to be.

I like mine to be a little thinly coated because I don't like peanut butter that much (as shown in these photos), so increase the amount of liquid ingredients a bit if you want them thickly coated. Similarly, increase or decrease the amount of chex-type-cereal depending on how many add-ins you add in :)

  • 7 cups chex-type-cereal
  • 1-2 cups add-ins (anything you like! we use pretzels, candy, nuts, seeds, other kinds of cereal, chocolate chips, shredded coconut, and whatever else we can find)
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (check the bag's ingredients to determine if they contain milk, but most don't)
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (you could instead use almond butter or cookie butter for something a little different!)
  • 1/4 cup vegan butter/margarine
  • 1-1 1/2 cups organic powdered sugar (see here for more info on vegan powdered sugar)

Instructions

  1. Combine the cereal and add-ins in a big paper bag or extra-large bowl. (The paper bag is infinitely easier here than the bowl, FYI.)
  2. Melt together until consistent the semi-sweet chocolate chips, peanut butter, and margarine in either a double-boiler, makeshift double boiler, or microwave. 
  3. Pour the chocolate mixture over the cereal & add-ins, and mix to coat. If you're using the bag, just fold over the top and shake. If you use the bowl, stir with a spoon.
  4. Once coated, immediately pour in the powdered sugar and mix again to coat everything.
  5. Pour and serve! This makes enough for a party. :)
vegan muddy buddies (aka puppy chow)

DIY Vegetable Broth

diy vegan vegetable broth

Now that cooking-all-the-time season is here, I thought I'd share a short tip here for making your own vegetable broth. It's very simple and you can make a lot from it! Include the broth in soups, gravies, stews, and much more.

First, how to get the ingredients for this: we use scraps from other meals that have been frozen for this purpose. Get a plastic bag or container and fill it with onion skins, carrot and celery ends, leeks that are about to go bad, and whatever else you can scrounge up, keeping it frozen as you go along. This is the absolute best part of making your own stock - it can be free and no-waste if you like. Sometimes we add in fresh ingredients, like the ones pictured here that came in our CSA box. 

The mixture can really be anything you want, and should be if you're using frozen vegetable ends and pieces. You can certainly add or subtract ingredients here, but this is my favorite ratio for general use.

diy vegan vegetable broth

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 leeks
  • 3-4 carrots
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1 small potato
  • 1 cup cabbage
  • 2 bay leaves
  • about 10 allspice berries
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • a couple of sprigs each rosemary, thyme, sage
  • 1-2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • water

Instructions

  1. Loosely chop up all the ingredients into a dice, except for the spices and liquids. 
  2. Heat a large soup pot with the oil in the bottom. Toss in the onions, leeks, and garlic and let them cook down until translucent, stirring every so often. (About 10 minutes.)
  3. Add in the rest of the ingredients and cover with water.
  4. Turn the heat down to low and cover the pot with a lid. Let cook on low for about 2-3 hours. (If you'd like to use a slow cooker instead of the stove top, do step two as normal, then put everything together in the slow cooker and cook for the same amount of time on medium heat.)
  5. Check the pot every so often to stir and add in more water if necessary. (Just keep the lid on and there shouldn't be much, if any, water loss.)
  6. When it's done, strain out all of the vegetables and spices and pour the broth into a sealable container for future use. When I really want to get a lot of liquid out of the vegetables, I'll sometimes add in another pot-full of water and cook it all over again, but you will get a less-rich broth this way.
  7. Refrigerate your broth for up to a couple of weeks, or freeze into ice cube trays and store in a sealable bag or container in the freezer for a longer storage time. Good luck and enjoy!

Apple Pie Oatmeal

vegan apple pie oatmeal

It started with a CSA box filled to the brim with apples. And then the NEXT week's CSA box filled with apples, too. Living in upstate New York my entire life, I've been used to having a surplus of apples, but never this much, and not when I only really need to feed myself. After chopping up about half of our apple stock, we made some apple hand-pies over the weekend, but still had a lot of the apple filling left over. What a terrible problem, right? 

The biggest thing I wanted to do with this filling was to put it in some piping hot oatmeal. Today was the first real snow storm of the season, with a few inches on the ground when we woke up, so this was definitely a necessity.

The beauty of this is that, first and foremost, you get some sweet, caramely apple pie filling. Use it in an actual pie, hand pies, on pancakes, stuffed in french toast, in a parfait, or mix it with some berries to put in a crisp. There's lots to do with it, and it tastes oh so good. 

The second amazing thing about this is that it takes very little to bring together once you make the apple filling. Because of the sweetness of the apples, there's not much you need to add, save for some spices and crunchy nuts and seeds.

All in all this makes for a super quick and easy breakfast, one that I could even microwave before heading out the door in the morning! Try this out and be blessed with apple pie :)

vegan apple pie oatmeal

Apple Pie Filling Ingredients

Makes enough for about 6-8 cups of filling

  • 10-12 apples, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar (either beet sugar or organic cane sugar)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Apple Pie Instructions

  1. Dice your apples and put them in a big pot.
  2. Add in 1 cup of the sugar, the cinnamon, and salt. Stir until consistent and put the burner on to medium-low.
  3. Let the apples cook down for about 40 minutes, stirring every so often to make sure nothing burns.
  4. Once the apples are soft, there should be a lot more liquid than you started with. If it's much too watery, add the rest of the sugar to make it more caramely. Let it combine until the sugar is dissolved, then either use in some pie or put in a sealed container to use later. This should last about a week or two in the fridge.

Oatmeal Ingredients

Makes 2 servings

  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • I used 1 1/2 tsp of the Savour this Kitchen Gypsy spice blend because it's convenient & tasty, but you can instead use a mix you like of paprika, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, cardamom, anise, and black pepper
  • 1/2-2/3 cup apple pie filling
  • fresh apple, cinnamon, and pumpkin & sunflower seeds, for garnish

Oatmeal Instructions

  1. Pour the milk, oats, and spices into a pot on medium heat. Let cook until it hits a rolling boil and the oats get soft, about 5-10 minutes.
  2. Turn the heat down to low and stir in the apple pie filling, and let it combine for about 5 minutes, until everything is warm and consistent in texture.
  3. Garnish with fresh apples, a dusting of cinnamon, and crunchy nuts and seeds, such as pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Eat it while it's hot and enjoy!
vegan apple pie oatmeal