Chef Fran Costigan

Super Stuffed Baked Apples with Family in LA

Fran Costigan's Super Stuffed Baked Apples I think it is family time post!



Whenever I go to Los Angeles, my first dinner out is always at Crossroads Kitchen, and I do that as soon as possible. In fact, it’s rare that I go only once. Well, this trip was  different, and I did not get there as I was on home duty mostly, making lots of breakfasts and dinners for my granddaughters, who are now 9 and 11 now. While the girls were at school all day, I had lots of focued work to do on polishing the Rouxbe Essential Vegan Desserts Course with my colleagues. The course is launching Nov 10th, the day after I return from the Vegan Cruise to Panama! Talk about an embarassement of riches! I did take breaks to walk in the gorgeous weather and play with the Costigals three rescue dogs: Teddy, the oldest; Mushu, the middle brother; and Cocoa the baby. These boys are so sweet and friendly, and just love playing together.

I was helping out while my talented daughter- in-law Linda Hawkins Costigan was in Haiti working on season two of her new show, Lakou Kajou – Educational TV for Haitian Children. This show is the first of its kind, and honestly, it is superb! Word of the hurricane came soon after Linda landed. She assured us she was safe, but that the damage was grave. A shortage of food, a contaminated water supply, and a cholera outbreak could create a major humanitarian disaster in Haiti after Hurricane Matthew, PIH Co-founder Dr. Paul Farmer said to ABC News. If you’d like to donate to Haiti, do not donate to the Red Cross. Donate to Partners in Health instead:



White Pomegranates, the first I’ve ever seen  at the Hollywood Farmer’s Market



Buddha’s Hands and Dragon Fruit

The girls, my son Michael, and I visited the always amazing Hollywood Farmers market and I saw a white pomegranate, which was new to me, and unshelled macadamia nuts. I bought fresh dates, which I can’t get in NYC. Amazing! Buddha’s hands and dragon fruit were gorgeous, and so were the tomatoes, mushrooms, avocados—so much goodness, including new season apples. Those apples gave me an idea – so read on.



Fresh Macadamia Nuts

The girls told me they like baked apples so I made them, using the recipe in More Great Good Dairy Free Desserts Naturally as jumping off point. The basting juices from the baked apples made a tasty plate sauce. If you care, this is a naturally no sugar added, no oil added, gluten-free dessert.



Peanut Butter Cookie Testing

Pictured here are a peanut butter cookie that Cecile helped me make. The recipe needs more testing but I can tell you it couldn’t have been more simple and yummy!



Fran and Suzy


Avocado Salad

Avocado Salad from Art’s Table

Two days before I was to return to NYC, I visited the Rowleys, my former Tribeca neighbors who’ve just moved back to the U.S. from London and have reloacted to Santa Monica. We had delicious salads at Art’s Table in Santa Monica. The next day, Suzy and I had lunch at Matthew Kinney’s Plant Food and Wine, in the garden. Suzy, who is not vegan, said she loved the tacos and the rosé we sipped in the garden.


Curried Cauliflower Tacos from Plant Food + Wine

Curried Cauliflower Tacos from Plant Food + Wine

After a one night stay with the Rowleys, I got back into an Uber to get back to my kids in time for the holiday dinner. And that’s how we rolled in LA.



Super Stuffed Baked Apples

Top a warm baked apple with a small scoop of your favorite dairy-free yogurt and have dessert for breakfast. It’s a decadent tasting but perfectly delicious way to begin the day.


  • 4 sweet apples
  • 2 cups apple juice
  • 4 tablespoons raisins
  • 4 tablespoons chopped toasted nuts (see page 23)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup apple butter


  1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Lightly oil an 8 x 8-inch baking dish or other baking dish large enough to hold four apples.
  2. Core the apples from the top, stopping 1 inch from the bottom. Peel the top quarter section of each apple. Put the apples in the baking dish, and pour the juice over them.
  3. Mix the raisins, nuts, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small bowl. Spoon the mixture into the apples and sprinkle any leftover filling in the bottom of the baking dish.
  4. Cover the apples with a sheet of parchment paper and over- wrap with aluminum foil. Bake for 25 minutes. Uncover the dish and baste the apples with the pan juices. Bake 5 to 10 minutes longer, or until the apples are tender but not mushy. The total baking time will depend on the variety of apple.
  5. Remove the baking dish from the oven. Brush the warm apples with the apple butter, and stir the remaining apple butter into the pan juices. Serve the apples warm, spooning some of the pan juice over each.

Recipe from More Great Good Dairy Free Desserts Naturally, © 2006 by Fran Costigan.


Want to learn to make the best ever vegan desserts? Of course you do!  Sign up now to save $200.00 on my Essential Vegan Desserts Course with Rouxbe. Course starts November 10th!  Check out the very cool video, too.


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A Very Vegan Halloween with Kathy Hester

While I was thinking about who to ask to participate in my Fabulous Women in Food guest post series, Kathy Hester immediately came to mind for October. Kathy published her Halloween-themed e-book The Ghoulish Gourmet last year, and she’s an expert on making deliciously frightful vegan Halloween dishes.

For the last 10 years, Kathy’s thrown a multi-course vegan gothic Halloween dinner party for her friends, and she’s written The Ghoulish Gourmet so you too can invite all your friends over and have a spooky soiree. The book contains tips on hosting your own party as well as 25 unique vegan Halloween recipes that all ages will love.

The Ghoulish Gourmet is available for Kindle from Amazon or as a pdf that you can read on your computer, iPad or phone. (You can also open the pdf using the free Kindle or iBook software on your mobile device.) If you’re having a Halloween party this year, this book is a must have! Now I invite you to read why Kathy decided to do a book about Halloween and get one of the recipes as well as a chance to win a copy of the book!


Pumpkin Pecan Shake from The Ghoulish Gourmet by Kathy HesterI have been in love with Halloween since I was little. Every year I’d look forward to taping the cardboard ghost and haunted house cut-outs on our windows. In the background I’d have my Halloween album playing the music from the Haunted Mansion in Disney World. It was the best!

While Halloween can have elements of horror, it really goes beyond that into celebrating autumn. There’s something magical about carving pumpkins, adding a few spooky touches to your house, and inviting your friends and family over to celebrate.

I love a good theme party and it’s so easy to throw a fun Halloween dinner. Get a few decorations including some spider webs or if you have the motivation go on to get some over the top pumpkin carving and decorating ideas.


Chocolate Bat Cookies from The Ghoulish Gourmet by Kathy HesterThis year we’re having a Harry Potter themed dinner party complete with butterbeer and pumpkin juice. I’ve been hosting a multi-course Gothic dinner party for the past 10 years and it’s the highlight of my year.

You don’t need to invest a lot of money in a Halloween dinner set, just go to a thrift store and get some mis-matched fancy plates and glasses. It’s even better if you can get some tarnished silver platters to go with it.

Decorations are nice, but the most important thing is the food. You can make salads spooky by using little ghost cookie cutters to cut salad turnips, make pumpkin-shaped carrots slices, or even ghost cut outs of vegan cheese slices.

Vegan main courses can be a little harder to come up with so I’m sharing my Swamp Monster Slow Cooker Jackfruit Gumbo. It so easy to make and it gets its spook factor from the black forbidden rice and the green puree.

Happy Halloween!


Swamp Monster Jackfruit Gumbo  from The Ghoulish Gourmet by Kathy HesterSwamp Monster Slow Cooker Jackfruit Gumbo

Recipe by Kathy Hester from The Ghoulish Gourmet: A Bewitching Collection of Vegan Halloween Recipes copyright 2016 printed with permission

makes 4 to 6 servings

This chunky stew is full of okra, tomatoes, vegan sausage and stringy jackfruit. One of my testers, Robin Fetter of The Real Vegan Housewife, says the soup had “an awesome foamy green effect on top” when she served it immediately, but that the green became less bright after twenty minutes. She highly recommends puréeing the greens into the soup.

For the main gumbo:

  • 4 cups water
  • 4 cups sliced okra (fresh or frozen)
  • 3 cups diced tomatoes or 2 (14.5 ounce) cans
  • 1 cup minced bell pepper (any color)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (20 ounce) young green jackfruit in brine, rinsed with seeds removed *
  • 2 large vegan sausages (Italian, Chik’n Apple, or Andouille), cut into quarters lengthwise and sliced
  • 2 bouillon cubes (vegetable or vegan chicken flavor)
  • 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning blend (see recipe below)
  • 3 bay leaves

For finishing:

  • 1 cup chopped spinach, kale or other mild green
  • just enough water to puree, about 1/4 cup
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • more Cajun seasoning blend, to taste – optional

For serving:

  • steamed rice (white, brown or forbidden)
  • hot sauce


  1. In the morning: Add all the main gumbo ingredients to your 4 quart slow cooker. Cook on low 7 to 9 hours.
  2. 15 minutes before serving: Add the greens to a blender with a little water and purée until smooth. Then add salt, pepper and more Cajun seasoning if needed.
  3. Remove bay leaves and serve gumbo topped with the green “swamp” purée and a scoop of rice.

* shred the jackfruit with your hands – it will happen easily as you remove the large seeds.

Make Your Own Cajun Seasoning Blend

If you’re looking for a salt-free version or just can’t find it in your area, this little recipe will keep you in spicy goodness for awhile. The best part is you can make it as spicy or mild as you like!


  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 teaspoons oregano or marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves

Combine all the ingredients well and store in a lidded container. You can also use a spice grinder to make it look more like store-bought.


Kathy Hester Vegan HalloweenKathy Hester is the blogger behind and author of 6 traditionally published cookbooks, including the bestselling book, The Vegan Slow Cooker. She has also ventured into self-publishing with her first ebook, The Ghoulish Gourmet, a vegan Halloween cookbook.

Her newest traditionally published book, The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook for Your Instant Pot, comes out January 2017 from Page St. Publishing.


the-ghoulish-gourmet-by-kathy-hesterKathy has a copy of her e-book The Ghoulish Gourmet for one lucky winner. Follow the instructions below to enter. Contest ends at midnight  on October 18th. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway



Want to learn to make the best ever vegan desserts? Of course you do!  Sign up now to save $200.00 on my Essential Vegan Desserts Course with Rouxbe. Course starts November 10th!  Check out the very cool video, too.

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Vegan Aquabafa Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Aquafaba by Zsu DeverCount me among those who were eager to get a copy of Zsu Dever’s latest cookbook Aquafaba from Vegan Heritage Press. Zsu has been involved in the restaurant business most of her life, as she hails from a long line of culinary professionals and restaurateurs. Zsu is a passionate vegan, who lives in San Diego, CA, with her three children, the family’s three felines, and her one husband! No doubt about it, the humans in her family eat very special food! I am so pleased to offer a recipe from the many wonderful choices in Zsu’s new book. In addition to giving us detailed information and clear instructions on using bean water, a.k.a aquafaba, in savory and sweet recipes, we get some new ways to use up those chickpeas!

The scope of the recipes is terrific. I hadn’t decided which of the sweets I’d try first, but you won’t be surprised that I wanted to try the brownies. Has anyone made them yet? Well, as I was time challenged to get to Los Angeles to visit my family, I choose the quickly-made, no-mixer-needed, Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins. Believe me, I was in awe of the domed, gorgeous muffins that came out of my oven. I gave some away to neighbors and everyone agreed that they are fantastic. I think they are very adaptable too, and will try the recipe as a base recipe. I’ll let you know.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins from Aquafaba by Zsu DeverLemon Poppy Seed Muffins

The lemon is subtle if you use only the zest, so if you love it with more of a lemon punch, add the optional extract. I did add a touch of lemon oil.

Makes 12 muffins


  • 2 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 2 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/3 cup aquafaba (see Note)
  • 1/3 cup canola or other neutral oil
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated organic sugar
  • 1 cup nondairy milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure lemon extract, optional
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (from approximately 2 lemons)
  • 3 tablespoons coarse or raw sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a 12-well regular-size muffin tin with paper cups or spray the wells with oil. Set the tin aside.
  2. Combine the flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Mix well and set aside.
  3. Place a separate medium bowl on a folded kitchen towel. Add the aquafaba and, using a large whisk, whisk it until it is frothy, about 1 minute. Add the oil slowly while whisking to emulsify. Add the sugar in the same way. Add the milk, vanilla, lemon extract (if using), and zest and whisk well.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the milk mixture and, using a wooden spoon, mix the batter until almost no more flour is visible. Lumps are fine; do not overmix.
  5. Fill the wells about three-quarters full with the batter and sprinkle the coarse sugar on top. Bake the muffins until a toothpick inserted into the muffin in the middle well comes out clean, 17 to 20 minutes.
  6. Cool the muffins on a cooling rack for 15 minutes before removing them from the tin. Cool the muffins completely before storing in airtight containers, where they will keep for a few days.

Note: Although aquafaba is best if homemade using the recipe provided in the book, you can use aquafaba from canned chickpeas. Use the organic, low-sodium, canned chickpeas and strain off the liquid into a measuring cup using a fine mesh strainer. Note the amount of liquid you acquired, then add it to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the liquid reduces by 1/3. Cool the aquafaba completely before using.

From Aquafaba, copyright © 2016 by Zsu Dever. Used by permission.


I have a copy of Aquafaba for one lucky winner. Follow the instructions below to enter. U.S. residents only, please. Contest ends at midnight eastern time on October 11th. Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Want to learn to make the best ever vegan desserts? Of course you do!  Sign up now to save $200.00 on my Essential Vegan Desserts Course with Rouxbe. Course starts November 10th!  Check out the very cool video, too.

Subscribe graphic