Hearty Vegan Lasagna: Step by Step

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If you break it down, lasagna is a really simple, yet really impressive dish. This recipe combines everything I love about veggie lasagna, namely the abundance of vegetables, and pairs it with the richness of a creamy tofu cheese and a fair sprinkling of vegan mozzarella.

The cheeses are optional, but truly elevate this dish to the “hearty” category, and will have them coming back for leftovers tomorrow–maybe even before.

Prep:

Make a nice, rich marinara sauce or use your favorite store-bought sauce. Just make sure it tastes really good and you have at least 2 cups.

Gather your favorite vegetables (about 4 cups) and cut them in small pieces, either diced or shredded. This will help ensure even layers. I choose broccoli florets, sliced mushrooms, thinly sliced onions, chopped kale and shredded carrot.

Make a rich, creamy vegan ricotta (about 1 cup). I like the recipe from Ann Gentry’s Real Food Daily Cookbook, but there are any number of recipe variations online.


Tofu Ricotta

Source: Real Food Daily

Ingredients:
14 ounces Tofu, firm, drained
4 cloves Minced garlic
⅔ cup Water, scant
⅔ cup Miso, dark
½ cup Tahini
1 ½ tsp. Basil, dried
1 ½ tsp. Oregano, dried
½ tsp. Crushed red pepper

Method:
Combine all in food processor until smooth.


Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions, rinse with cold water and pat dry. I used whole wheat.

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Procedure:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat and add 2 tbsp. olive oil

Saute vegetables with a sprinkle of salt, until colors brighten and vegetables are slightly softened. Add your favorite Italian seasonings and a bit of black pepper here. Just make sure the veggies taste good…good enough to sit down to a bowlful of them.

vegSpread marinara sauce on bottom of 9 x 13 inch pan

Arrange a layer of noodles, slightly overlapping

Spread noodles with creamy vegan cheese (if using) then sprinkle a bit of vegan mozzarella (if using)

assembleTop with a thick layer of vegetables and press down lightly to make layers even

Ladle marinara over the vegetables

Repeat layering procedure, ending with noodles

Finish with remaining sauce and shredded cheese

ovenreadyBake 30-40 minutes, until bubbly and cheese is melted

Enjoy!

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Thai Sweet Potato Bisque

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This soup is a perfect blend of smooth and creamy, slightly sweet and spicy. Great served on its own or as a first course, it is super-easy to make, too.

Thai Sweet Potato Bisque

adapted from a recipe by Isa Chandra Moskowitz: Red Sweet Potato Curry with Cauliflower and Adzuki Beans

1 pound sweet potatoes (approximately 3 medium) to make 3 cups, mashed
4 ½ cloves Garlic, minced
1.5 tablespoons Ginger, fresh, minced
1 tablespoon Peanut oil
4.5 tablespoons Thai Red Curry paste
3 cups Vegetable broth
3 Star Anise Pods
3  tablespoons Tamari Sauce
1 15 ounce can full fat  Coconut milk
¾ teaspoon Salt (or to taste)
Sriracha (optional)
Lime juice (to taste, approximately 1 lime)
Cilantro for garnish

1. Bake sweet potatoes at 350 for 1 hour first. Peel and mash. :

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2. Saute garlic and ginger in oil. Add curry paste, veggie broth and star anise. Let boil about 5 minutes, covered. Uncover, remove star anise.:

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3. Add sweet potato, coconut milk, tamari and salt and mix well. Use immersion blender if needed, to get to a very smooth consistency.

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Add lime juice and sriracha to taste.:

Dark Chocolate Brownies

This is by far the best vegan brownie recipe I have found. I’ve been through a lot of cookbooks. To put it best…I judge a cookbook by the strength of its dessert section. I believe a diet must always allow for sweets and never be too restrictive.

When I come across a cookbook with all fruit desserts, I snap it shut and move on. That’s just me. I will always eat healthy, but I will never be overly virtuous.

Rip Esselstyn gets it! The recipes in his cookbook, The Engine 2 Diet provide a great balance between good sense and enlightened indulgence.

His recipes are extremely low fat and no-fat, but in the case of this recipe, thankfully, he allows for an abundance of naturally occurring cocoa butter in the form of a most generous allotment of chocolate chips. Thank you, Rip!

These beauties are everything a brownie should be: moist and fudgy with a dark cocoa edge that refuses to take a back seat to sugar.

When it comes to chocolate, vegans must be ever so cautious in label reading, because even some of the brands we trust have slipped milk fat into their formulas. A final note: Never pinch pennies when it comes to chocolate. You won’t regret it.

 Dark Chocolate Brownies

Ingredients

Makes about 20 brownies

1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup raw sugar

1 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 tbsp egg substitute mixed with 1/4 cup water

1/4 cup + 2 tbsp soy milk

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 1/2 cups (dairy-free) 60% chocolate chips or chunks (Ghirardelli offers a dairy free 60% product)

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 deg F. Combine the sugars and applesauce with an electric or handheld mixer. Beat in the Ener-G mixture, soy milk, vanilla, and vinegar. Combine the dry ingredients (except chocolate chips) in a separate bowl. Gradually add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients, then stir in the chocolate chips. Pour the batter into a sprayed 9×13 inch baking dish. Bake for 16-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cinnamon Applesauce Muffins (gluten-free, soy-free, vegan)

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The best part about this recipe is it’s simplicity. Many gluten-free recipes read like a science project, but this one has only a couple ingredients you may not already have in the pantry:  brown rice flour and garbanzo bean flour (besan).

I could hardly wait for the muffins to cool. The aroma was heavenly, like spicy gingerbread. The flavor and texture did not disappoint, either. Sweet and flavorful, these muffins make a perfect snack or a light breakfast.

Cinnamon Applesauce Muffins

recipe courtesy Allyson Kramer (www.allysonkramer.com)

  • 1 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons besan/chickpea flour
  • 1/2 cup superfine brown rice flour (reg. works too)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup nondairy milk
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 375 ºF. Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners, or grease a non-stick pan lightly. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the applesauce, olive oil, vanilla extract, molasses, salt and sugar until well blended. Gradually add in the rest of the ingredients, one by one in the order given. Mix vigorously using a whisk about 100 strokes, or until very well mixed.

Drop 1/3 cup batter into each muffin tin and place onto middle rack of the oven. Bake 25 minutes. Let cool on wire rack.

Key Lime Icebox Pie with Mango-Ginger Coulis

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Here’s a little something different for you, dear readers. A delicious creamy, no-bake dessert that is sweet, but not overly so–with the tangy influence of key lime juice and a hint of ginger.

Key Lime Icebox Pie 

3 ½ cups cashews, raw, soaked
¾ cups key lime juice
¾ cups agave nectar
1 cup coconut oil
½ cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ teaspoon salt
1 recipe gingersnap cookie crust

Method:

Blend all together and freeze overnight. Move to fridge for at least an hour. Serve chilled.

Gingersnap Cookie Crust

2 cups ginger snap cookies, finely crushed
1 tbsp. sugar
4 tbsp. vegan margarine, melted

Method:

Blend all together and press into 9-inch pan

Mango-Ginger Coulis

8 ounces mango puree
1 tsp. ginger, fresh, grated
1 ounce sugar, powdered, sifted
1 tbsp. non-dairy creamer, vanilla

Method:

Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate 1 day ahead.

 

 

Ultimate Cheezy Sauce

 

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As many will tell you, one the hardest animal-based foods to give up in the beginning is cheese. I have read that cheese actually contains addictive opiate substances, so that might explain its magnetic appeal.

As for me, I have learned to live without cheese and appreciate the flavors of the food underneath–where cheese would have been. At the same time, I’ve been on a quest for the perfect cheesy sauce for macaroni, nachos, broccoli, and general dipping of crusty bread.

I have posted cheezy sauce recipes before–but this one is the mother of all cheezy sauces. It’s a hybrid of a modern recipe with classical method. I am in love with the umami flavor and the smooth velvety “pour” of this sauce. I think you will agree that it is both delicious and easy to make with ingredients found in most plant-based pantries.

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Cheezy Sauce III

by Melanie daPonte

1 1/2 tbsp. non-dairy margarine or olive oil

1 1/2 tbsp. all purpose flour

1 cup Soy milk ( can use any non-dairy milk, but I prefer the higher fat content in soy for creamier sauce)

¼ cup Nutritional yeast

2 tablespoons Tamari sauce
1 tablespoon Tahini
1 tablespoon Lemon juice
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. Paprika

Method:

Melt the margarine in a  saucepan over medium low heat. Whisk in flour to make a roux (classical sauce thickening combo).

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Add all remaining ingredients and whisk until well combined and smooth. Stir until mixture begins to thicken and lightly bubble. Reduce heat to low and check for consistency and seasoning.

At this point you may wish to add more paprika depending on the level of orange-ness you like your cheezy sauce to have. You may also want to play with the consistency a bit depending on how you plan to use the sauce. Just add a little more milk if you like more pour-ability. Add salt if desired, or more tamari or lemon juice as desired. It’s YOUR sauce now, so enjoy it!

 

 

Raw Chocolate Brownies

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If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile you may have noticed that when I do chocolate it’s never in a small way. I like it rich and dark and decadent. These brownies are all that–plus they are psychologically satisfying in that they are almost good for you, albeit highly caloric.

I discovered Laura-Jane, The Rawtarian, quite by accident, but I can’t say enough good things about her website and her recipes. Her site offers free how-tos, videos and recipes–she will even email you a beginner’s guide to raw food in pdf format. Cool lady, cool content–I dove right in and I’m still exploring her recipes, looking forward to my next raw foods culinary caper.

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Serve these brownies in small pieces, because they are very rich. One thing I have learned since going vegan–dishes made from whole foods tend to fill you up quickly as they are identified by our bodies as nutritious fuel. Although these are meant to be a treat, they are filled with organic raw pecans, dates and coconut–plenty of real, whole foods; no  grains or starches. Enjoy!

Raw Brownies

from  www.therawtarian.com

Recipe Test: Quinoa Pancakes

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Image credit: Melanie daPonte

 

Here’s the thing about pancakes…I love the way they taste, but not so much how I feel afterward. All that doughy, sweet carbohydrate goodness seems such a decadent indulgence.

I’m always alert for a loophole–a healthier way to enjoy that sticky maple-buttery experience without feeling like I just consumed a loaf of bread in one sitting. When I came across this RECIPE (courtesy feastingonfruit.com) the immediate thought came to my mind: Quinoa=Protein. High-protein, low-carbohydrate, low-fat always feels good in my tummy. This recipe is also oil-free.

But, then, I thought…how will they taste without any gluten? Will they hold together yet not be dry and weird? Since I have quinoa flakes in my pantry anyway, I decided to see for myself.

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Image credit: Melanie daPonte

The recipe suggests using a blender, so I thought, since I am cutting the recipe in half I’ll just use my Magic Bullet. BAD IDEA.

I would mix this recipe in a bowl, like any other pancake batter. Otherwise, you will leave behind a lot of it, due to its thick, paste-like consistency. I also substituted apple cider vinegar for the lemon juice because it was easier and cheaper.

I transferred the whole mess into a bowl and added more milk and a bit more maple syrup to achieve a smoother, spreadable batter. I also added a pinch of salt, because the recipe didn’t call for any. Salt adds a pleasing flavor contrast to the maple syrup.

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Image credit: Melanie daPonte

The cooking was good. A nice, even browning without sticking to the griddle, which I  sprayed with a light coating of oil between each cake.

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Image credit: Melanie daPonte

The result? A very good, gluten-free, high-protein, low-fat pancake. After tasting, I decided I would have added more salt, though–beyond a pinch. Otherwise there is no flavor at all.

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I added a little extra Earth Balance spread and this fixed the issue. The texture is good, too. Not dry or grainy or weird. Just light and absorbent. The half-recipe made three medium-sized cakes. I ate two of them and still felt good, not bloated.

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My final assessment:

An excellent representation of a ‘healthier’ way to pancake, but quinoa is exorbitantly expensive. If money is of no importance, and you want to impress your friends and family at brunch, go for it.

But…there are lot of other gluten-free pancake options and much, much cheaper. I dare say, even tastier. Here’s one in particular I like, made in a blender with bananas and oats.

GLUTEN-FREE BANANA-OAT PANCAKES

What’s your favorite way to pancake??

 

Vegan French Toast

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As a lifelong  pancake girl, I never thought I’d get around to writing this post. But my husband’s a French toast guy, and last weekend I wanted to make him a special brunch treat, so here we have it.

I’ve tried vegan French toast recipes before and they just seemed too soggy or blah in the flavor department. But this recipe gets the dipping mixture right, with the addition of a bit of starch and garbanzo bean flour (besan) for a thicker consistency. The trick is a quick run through the blender to well incorporate the ingredients. Also, making sure the baguette is at least a day old helps ensure a crisp result.

Vegan French Toast

recipe courtesy Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Ingredients:

Loaf of Italian or French bread, baguette shaped, preferably stale
1/2 cup soy creamer (soy or coconut milk would make a good substitute)
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
2 tablespoons corn starch
1/4 cup chickpea flour (this is key)

Dash of vanilla extract (optional)

Pinch of cinnamon (optional)

Several tablespoons canola or vegetable oil (for frying)

Powered sugar for finishing (optional)

Method:

Slice the baguette into rounds about 1-inch thick and set aside. Combine all remaining ingredients (except oil and powdered sugar) in a blender and mix for a few seconds until fully incorporated. Pour into a shallow dish ( I use a pie plate).

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Heat a non-stick skillet to medium-high with a thin layer of oil. Dip rounds of bread (don’t soak, you just want the mixture to cling to the outside) and place immediately in hot skillet and brown on both sides. Serve hot with a sprinkle of powdered sugar, vegan butter and maple syrup.

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Cornmeal-Molasses Waffles

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I was in the mood for waffles today. But not the usual sweet, refined version most of us are used to. I wanted something more substantial. A waffle with a deep, earthy flavor and  a chewy texture. A crunchy whole-grain chew beneath the sweet, buttery maple surface.

First, I was delighted to find a solid vegan waffle recipe online. And even more pleased to find I had all the ingredients on hand. This, in my opinion, is the mark of a fine recipe. Don’t make me run out to the store for that one “special” ingredient!

I took this wonderful basic recipe here from The One Ingredient Chef   and made modifications to suit my vision.

What I hearken to here is the original breakfast fare of the early American settlers, like I imagine Ma Ingalls used to make for Laura, Mary, Carrie and little baby Grace in the “Little House on The Prairie” books. The food of my heritage.

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I substituted molasses for the maple syrup and olive oil for the coconut. The flavor is darker and edgier, kind of like a full-bodied dark coffee.

Serve these crispy with Earth Balance Buttery Spread and warm (real) maple syrup. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Note: Don’t worry if your vegan waffles don’t get as crispy as you like no matter how long you leave them on the iron. You can always crisp them up in the toaster or in a 375 degree oven, laid directly on the rack for a few minutes.

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Simple Cinnamon Rolls

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I love home-cooked breakfast on Sundays. I woke this morning thinking about the other half of a double batch of pizza dough I whipped up yesterday. The dough was what my Nana would describe as “happy”– full of air, fluffy and nearly bursting through the wrap, eager to get into whatever creative plan I would soon hatch.

So inspired, I came up with this delicious treat. The scent of warm cinnamon and buttery brown sugar wafting through the house is irresistible.

Ingredients:

1 batch pizza dough (homemade or store-bought, my whole wheat version shown here)

1/4 cup flour for rolling

1/4 cup dairy-free buttery spread (such as Earth Balance), softened, plus extra for pan

1 big tablespoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup finely chopped nuts

Note: Ingredients amounts are flexible. If you like more cinnamon, by all means, pile it on. That goes for sugar, nuts, raisins, chocolate–whatever you like. You can’t mess this up. It’s your creation!

Method:

Grease a 9 inch cake pan with buttery spread until well-coated.

dough

Lightly flour a clean surface and roll the dough into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick, checking underneath periodically, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking.

Spread the margarine to cover the dough to the edges. Sprinkle sugar, cinnamon and nuts evenly and pat down to adhere to dough.

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Roll the long side tightly to form a log shape. With a very sharp knife, cut into 1 to 1/2 inch thick slices and place side by side in the cake pan. Brush with additional margarine if desired.

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Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until sugar is bubbly and rolls are lightly browned.

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Serve with vanilla glaze if desired:

1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

2-3 tablespoons non-dairy milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Blend together well and drizzle over rolls

Vegan Frangipane-Raspberry Strudel

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I got to thinking about frangipane and how I hadn’t enjoyed it since way back in my culinary school days. I remembered fondly the rich, creamy sweetness wrapped in a crisp pastry pillow encrusted with sugared almond slices.

I was inspired by this memory to try my hand at a vegan pastry with all the flavor but none of the dairy contained in the classical French preparation.

I was in a hurry to put my theory into action, so I picked up ready-made (accidentally vegan) puff pastry sheets from my grocer’s freezer and set to work.

I let the sheets thaw at room temperature (about 75 degrees) for 45 minutes, until they could be handled easily, but not completely soft. I set my oven to 400 degrees and started making my filling.

I just needed a creamy ingredient to loosen up the almond paste and make it  spreadable, so I chunked the paste  into my food processor with a bit of cashew cream I happened to have leftover in the fridge.

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I processed the two ingredients until very creamy, the consistency of soft frosting.

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I spread a nice thick layer of the frangipane then topped it with raspberry pie filling. I made a second pastry, for good measure– topping the filling with chocolate chips.

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My pastry forming skills are more than a little rusty but I managed it into a shape that looked right, then dabbed a bit of soy milk on top, followed by sliced almonds and sugar. The most important goal, for me, was getting it into the oven 🙂

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I allowed the pastry to bake for 30-40 minutes, until brown and crispy on top and bottom.

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It turned out every bit as good as I had imagined.

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Pepperidge Farm Frozen Puff Pastry sheets, although not exactly a health food, are one of those accidentally vegan products that comes in handy for creating a special treat on the fly.

The frangipane filling was tasty and sweet, but not overly so due to the addition of the unsweetened cashew cream (about 1/2 cup altogether). If I had it in the cabinet I might have bumped up the almond flavor just a bit with some extract, but all in all this quick and easy pastry was a great success!

 

 

Vegan Creme Brûlée

 

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Yes, you read that right. Creme brûlée. Silky smooth and creamy sweet. And can I just mention, so easy that I memorized the recipe after the first time I made it?? Now I can just whip it up at the drop of a hat, using pantry staples. Sound to good to be true? Well, it’s true. So, check this out…

Vegan Creme Brûlée 

adapted from a recipe by Chloe Coscarelli

1 can full-fat coconut milk (14.5 oz)

1/2 cup sugar

pinch salt

1/8 tsp. ground turmeric (for color)

1/4 cup non-dairy milk, unsweetened

1/4 cup corn starch

1 tsp. vanilla

4 tsp. brown sugar (optional)

Method:

Stir together coconut milk, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally to make sure sugar is fully dissolved.

Meanwhile, whisk together in a small bowl the cornstarch and milk. When coconut milk mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and slowly add the cornstarch mixture, whisking constantly until custard is thick. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Transfer to dessert dishes and chill at least 3 hours before serving.

If you want to dress to impress, sprinkle a coating of brown sugar on top of each serving and caramelize with a kitchen torch until a crisp shell forms on top. Enjoy!

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One Big Vegan Pancake

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Sometimes I am in the mood for pancakes, but dread standing over the stove babysitting the griddle until all the batter is cooked. I actually chafe at the responsibility of seeing each cake safely through the journey until I can get that one or two on my plate. Sometimes the perceived commitment is just too much.

Using the ‘pan-cookie’ theory, I decided I would half my recipe and make this fluffy, sweet, colossal cake just for me. One and done!

One Big Pancake

Ingredients:

1/2 cup flour

1/2 tbsp. baking powder

1 tbsp. sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (optional)

1/2 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk

1 tbsp. oil

Oil or pan spray for griddle

Non-dairy butter and maple syrup, honey or preserves for serving

Method:

Pre-heat large greased griddle or skillet over medium low.

Mix all dry ingredients in a small bowl.

Add wet ingredients and mix gently with a spoon, just until flour is dissolved. Do not beat! If batter is too thick add a bit more milk.

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When a droplet of water sizzles on the griddle or skillet, the pan is ready. Pour all batter at once onto surface of pan and spread around so it cooks evenly. Turn down heat if necessary to maintain thorough baking without burning the bottom of the cake.

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Not quite there yet…

When there are little holes all over the top of the pancake, it’s time to turn it over. You may need two spatulas to make this happen without breaking the cake! Let it cook another 3-5 minutes, then serve immediately!

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I did my best 🙂

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Restaurant Review: Toasted, Winter Park, FL

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Every time we travel up near Orlando  we make a point of having a meal at our favorite vegan restaurant in that area: Ethos Vegan Kitchen. But, on this particular day it was so jammed up with folks waiting for a table, upwards of 30-40 minutes, and we were so hungry, we decided to look around.

Siri brought up the next restaurant in the list, Toasted. What? How could this be vegan? It’s a grilled cheese and burger place. But, to our pleasant surprise, Toasted offers a full selection of creative vegan grilled cheese sandwiches, burgers, salads and even rosemary truffle cheese fries! Yes, you read that right.

And here’s the thing…this is not Daiya or Follow Your Heart brand or even Chao cheese substitute. It’s something different that I have never tasted before and even in my forays into homemade cheese–I have never experienced a cheese substitute that tastes and has the mouthfeel of real melted cheese like this one. It’s a blend of pea protein and coconut milk, says the menu. And the bread is baked in-house!

I ordered the Fireball grilled cheese sandwich with sriracha and fresh tomatoes and slices of jalapeño. Boy, was it spicy and so, so good. The bread was crisp and buttery on the outside, without a hint of sogginess. The cheese, hot and melty, even better than I remember the conventional slices to be.

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Steve had the grilled vegetable and cheese sandwich. It was delicious, too–full of grilled, seasoned mushrooms, peppers and onions. And the rosemary truffle fries were one heck of a treat. As you can see by the photo, they look like real cheese fries and they tasted even better with the fresh herbs. Fantastic!

Oh, and the iced tea is brewed and tasted so fresh.

The service staff on this day were a group of energetic, pleasant, young adults. Ordering takes place at the front counter, you pour your own drink, the food is brought to your table when ready and they come back and clear away.

I have the feeling that next time we are in the neighborhood it may be a difficult choice between our usual vegan restaurant and our new favorite veg-friendly restaurant, Toasted.

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Vegan Pecan Bars

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Oh, my gosh! Scrolling through my reader the other day I came across this delicious recipe from Kaitlyn at myconsciouskitchen.com and was immediately inspired! I dropped everything and made it my mission to not only bake these sweet, nutty, layered cookie bars, but to photograph the process and post about it!

First, I preheated my oven to 325 and  gathered my ingredients for the bottom layer (the cookie part). I decided I would double up and make this part a bit thicker, kind of like a shortbread crust.

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Simple, simple. All stuff from the pantry. For the shortening, however, I substituted Earth Balance Buttery Stick.

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I mixed all the dry ingredients together with the fat, like a biscuit dough, then added the cool water, just until it was well-combined then pressed it out into an 8 x 8 inch pan, lined with a sheet of parchment paper and oiled with cooking spray. I baked it until the crust was firm and lightly browned, like a cookie, then set it aside to cool for about 20 minutes.

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Next, the ingredients for the filling. The flax egg takes a little forethought, but again, super-simple to put together while the crust cools.

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I mixed together everything with a whisk, folded in the chopped pecans, then straight in the oven.

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After 40 minutes, I checked it, then gave it another 5 minutes. It looked perfect. I allowed the pan to cool on a rack for a  couple of hours so I would get nice, clean slices.

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I ran a knife edge around the inside of the pan before carefully lifting out, then cut into servings.

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The verdict: Sweet and sticky and delicious! Like a combination of pecan pie and your most tender, buttery shortbread cookie. Perfect served warmed with a scoop of non-dairy vanilla, or as-is. We particularly enjoy a square straight from the freezer!

This one is definitely a keeper! Thanks so much, Kaitlyn! Find the full recipe HERE

 

Vegan Pumpkin (or Sweet Potato) Pie

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This is hands-down the best pumpkin pie recipe out there! The sweet, creamy filling is firm without being dry, and simple as a smoothie to put together. Perfectly spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves, this pie will be the star of your holiday table!

Vegan Pumpkin Pie

(recipe courtesy Isa Chandra Moskowitz)

Ingredients:

3 cups pumpkin or sweet potato puree ( I used sweet potato here)

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup soy or other non-dairy milk

4 tsp. canola or other vegetable oil

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ground ginger

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

pinch ground cloves

1/4 – 1/2 tsp. salt

2 tbsp. cornstarch

1 tsp. agar powder (see note below)

Pastry for 1 single-crust pie

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.

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Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and combine until very smooth.

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Spread evenly into pie shell and bake in middle of center oven rack for 60-65 minutes.

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Let cool for at least four hours before cutting to allow filling to set. Perfect!

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*Note: Agar powder is a vegetarian substitute for gelatin. If you can’t find it at your local natural foods store, grab it online through amazon.com

 

 

 

 

Vegan Apple Crisp

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I remember when I first became aware there was such a thing called apple crisp. And it wasn’t at home. It was in my elementary school lunchroom. This exotic dessert was warm and sweet and cinnamon-y, with this outrageously crispy topping…so way over and above apple pie. It made an impact on me!

I am sure the recipe originated in somebody’s grandma’s kitchen. Most warm apple desserts do 😉 But, I was ever after held captive by that crispy sweet crust of oats and pecans and brown sugar atop those sweet-tart warm apples.

I hope you enjoy this version, from America’s Test Kitchen, slightly modified by the substitution of vegan margarine for the butter called for in the original recipe:

Apple Crisp

Topping:

¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup pecans, chopped fine
¾ cup oats, rolled
½ cup brown sugar, light
¼ cup sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
8 tbsp. Earth Balance, non-dairy baking stick, melted and cooled

Filling:
1 ½ cups apple cider
1 tbsp. lemon juice
4 pounds apples, golden delicious, peeled, cored, halved and cut into 1/2 inch-thick wedges
⅓ cup sugar
¼ tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. Earth Balance, non-dairy baking stick
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees fahrenheit . Set oven rack in middle position. Mix together topping with margarine until moistened and crumbly.

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2.Bring cider to simmer in 12-inch skillet over medium heat and cook until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 7 minutes. Transfer to liquid measuring cup and stir in lemon juice.

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3.Toss apples with sugar and cinnamon in bowl. Melt butter in now-empty skillet over medium heat. Add apples and cook, stirring often, until they begin to soften and become translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. (do not fully cook apples). Off heat, gently stir in cider mixture.

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4.Transfer apple mixture to 13 x 9 inch casserole dish (or individual dishes as shown), sprinkle evenly with topping, breaking up any large chunks.

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Bake until fruit is tender and top is deep golden brown, about 20 minutes.

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5.Reheat in 425 degree oven until slightly warm, about 5 minutes.

Serving suggestion:  Top with vanilla non-dairy ice cream and this fantastic

vegan caramel sauce

from our fellow blogger, Larice at feedingyourbeauty.com.

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Oh, yeah!!!

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Pumpkin Spice Muffins

muffinsThese tasty muffins are standard in my seasonal recipe rotation. They are moist and richly flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and ginger.

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This is a quick and easy recipe, too, from my favorite vegan chef, Isa Chandra Moskowitz of The Post Punk Kitchen. Here is a link to the recipe, Best Pumpkin Muffins.

I like to bake the muffins and let them rest for a few hours. It actually seems to more fully develop the flavor of the spices. These also freeze very well. Enjoy!

Vegan Baked Ziti

 

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This recipe is more about method than it is about the ingredients. You could simply layer sauce, pasta and and some kind of dairy-free cheesy substance and bake. Or you could kick it up a notch like I have done in this particular version.

First, start with your favorite marinara. Then find a good cheesy sauce or vegan cheese substance you like. Here’s the special part:

Cook your pasta in nice sea-salted water. The water should taste salty. While the pasta is cooking, heat a skillet at medium-high heat and add a generous quantity of olive oil.

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Thinly slice or chop several cloves of fresh garlic and add them to the hot oil, letting them sizzle until they just start to turn golden. Don’t let them burn.

When the garlic turns golden, add a couple ladles of pasta water and let it boil with the garlic and oil until reduced by half. The starch in the pasta water will help add body to your sauce. Next, add a couple ladles of marinara and let that simmer 2 minutes or so.

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Now add the drained pasta, cooked at a firm al dente, not quite done. The pasta will finish cooking over the next few minutes of simmering in the sauce and absorb all that fantastic flavor!

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Now that your pasta has picked up all this tasty garlic broth and sauce,  you are ready to layer and bake.

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Baked, uncovered at 375 degrees, until heated through and whatever cheese substance you use is melted and/or picking up a bit of color to let you know it is ready.

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Finish with a bit of hemp seed parmesan and serve immediately to adoring dining companion(s)! You won’t regret taking this little extra step that works like magic for any pasta dish.

Hemp Seed Parmesan

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Here’s a simple three-ingredient addition to pizza, pasta, salads, veggies and anywhere else you want a  sprinkle of savory flavor.

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Hemp Seed Parmesan

¼ cup Hemp seeds (or hearts)
2 tbsp. Nutritional yeast
¼ tsp. Himalayan Pink Salt

 

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Blend all ingredients in a food processor. Store in airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.

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Sourdough Baguette

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Still in a baking mood, I embarked on a mission to create an old-fashioned, dense sourdough bread, like back in the day. I turned to a 1973 fundraising cookbook  published by the Southern Conference Educational Fund based in Louisville, KY.

From the acknowledgements:

“SCEF Recipes is published by the Southern Educational Fund, a Southside interracial organization which has been working since 1938 to end racial injustice, poverty and war through a program of organizing.”

The cookbook is filled with basic, economical whole foods recipes. Not vegan, but still worth browsing through for the little gems like this one contributed by Grambs Miller, artist and designer of the 1972 peace card.

San Francisco Sourdough Bread

Sour dough starter:

1 envelope dry yeast

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups warm water (not hot)

Mix above ingredients in a 1 1/2 quart glass container. Cover with cheesecloth. Leave in warm room 48 hours, to collect airborne yeasts. Stir 2 or 3 times. It will ferment and bubble and have a sourish smell. Makes 3 cups.

The bread:

1 envelope dry yeast

1 cup warm water (not hot)

2 tbsp sugar

1 1/2 cups starter

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. salt

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In a large bowl sprinkle dry yeast over water, stir in sugar and starter and gradually add flour mixed with salt.

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Cover bowl with damp towel and let rise 1 to 1 1/2 hours in a warm place. Turn dough onto floured board, work in about 1 cup flour until dough is no longer sticky, knead until satiny–about 5 minutes ( I used a dough hook).

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Shape into 1 large round or 2 long loaves.

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Set on cookie sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Let rise again in warm place for 1 1/2 hours. Put shallow pan of water on lower shelf of a pre-heated 400-degree oven. Make diagonal slashes in bread with razor blade ( I brushed the tops with aquafaba and sprinkled sesame seeds).

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Bake 40 to 50 minutes until crust is medium brown.

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Let me just say that this bread was so good we couldn’t stop eating it. I put the second loaf in the freezer for next weekend, otherwise I knew we would take it down in no time!

 

 

 

 

 

Doughnuts In The Dark

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Ah, the things we take for granted. I knew we would lose power during Hurricane Irma, but I wasn’t sure when. I decided to tempt fate and make my last use of my oven count. I wanted to bake something sweet to console us during our period of hot, uncomfortable living I knew was not long away.

 

In a race with time I threw together these delicious vegan doughnuts and while they were baking stirred together a silky chocolate glaze. “Will I make it?” I thought to myself  as I worked like mad to make use of what little time remained.

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We made it through the baking stage,

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the cooling stage and even to the finishing stage before the lights went out. Mission accomplished!!

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I like this doughnut recipe from Starr, The Misfit Baker because although the doughnuts are sweet and delicious, they are not over-the-top decadent. They are more like moist little cakes, because they are baked instead of fried, the way most doughnuts are. So we save more than a few calories there.

I like Starr’s recipes overall, because she really strives to keep the ingredients natural, like making her own sour cream from tofu instead of buying the highly processed stuff. I like that.

Click here for the recipe:  Chocolate Doughnuts from The Misfit Baker

 

 

 

 

Calm Before the Storm Corn Muffins

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Unless I am preparing food for a client, baking is usually an emotionally led decision for me. I’ll simply be “in the mood” to fire up the oven and turn out a fresh loaf of bread or pan of cookies or brownies. The fragrance that wafts through the house is pure nostalgic comfort to me.

In these uncertain days when all we can do is hope for the best and prepare for the worst, I find solace and security in the simple mathematics of a recipe. Knowing that this plus this will always equal that. And everything will turn out okay as long as I follow the steps.

Southern style corn bread is sweet and dense, almost like cake. And that’s the way I like it. I absolutely love these muffins and they pair well with a tummy-warming bowl of soup or chili. But there’s nothing like cracking open that first fluffy yellow muffin and taking that first steaming bite standing over the kitchen counter. Even when I feel like there’s nothing I can do to improve a situation…look! Look what I made!!

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SOUTHERN STYLE CORNBREAD

2 TSP VINEGAR, APPLE CIDER
2 CUP SOY MILK, UNSWEETENED (0R OTHER NON-DAIRY MILK)
1 ½ CUP CORNMEAL, FINE GROUND
1 CUP FLOUR, ALL PURPOSE
2 TSP BAKING SODA
1 TSP SALT
½ CUP SUGAR, CANE
⅓ CUP CANOLA OIL

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1. PREHEAT OVEN TO 350 DEGREES. GREASE 8 X 8 INCH PAN OR 12-CUP MUFFIN PAN.

2. STIR VINEGAR INTO MILK VIGOROUSLY WITH A WHISK AND SET ASIDE.

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3. IN A LARGE BOWL, WHISK TOGETHER DRY INGREDIENTS. ADD OIL TO MILK MIXTURE THEN STIR INTO DRY INGREDIENTS. POUR INTO PREPARED PAN AND BAKE 30-35 MINUTES (approx 15-20 minutes for muffins) UNTIL PICK INSERTED IN CENTER COMES OUT CLEAN. DO NOT OVERBAKE.

4. COOL ON ELEVATED RACK.

 

 

Portobello Mushroom Stroganoff

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Another super simple recipe! This one comes from one of my favorite blogs, Vegan Monologue. I’ve made this recipe for my family, not all of whom are vegan and I’ve made it for  newly transitioned clients. It’s unanimous–they all love it!

Big chunks of earthy portobello mushrooms and onions in a savory, creamy gravy that tastes almost identical to its traditional counterpart.

Check out the recipe and this exceptional blog here

Chocolate Raspberry Ganache Cake (gluten and soy free)

 

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Image courtesy Steve daPonte http://www.dapontephotography.wordpress.com

I’m all about taking a good thing and making it better. That’s what I did with this classic chocolatey favorite. Rich, dark and decadent chocolate cake can now be enjoyed by those with gluten and/or soy intolerance. Add a layer of tangy, sweet raspberry preserves and you just kicked it way up to an elegant special occasion or company dessert.

Chocolate Raspberry Ganache Cake

(adapted from Audrey Snowe’s Gluten-Free Vegan Cupcakes)

¾ cup + 2 tbsp superfine brown rice flour

⅓ cup + 2 tbsp potato starch

2 tbsp tapioca starch

½ tsp xantham gum

¼ tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

6 tbsp cocoa powder

¾ cup light coconut milk (the canned type)

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp maple syrup

¼ cup grapeseed oil

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup raspberry preserves

Chocolate Ganache (recipe below)

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 inch cake pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together brown rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, xantham gum, salt, and baking powder. Add cocoa powder and mix until all ingredients are combined. In a large mixing bowl, mix together coconut milk, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, grapeseed oil, and vanilla extract. Add sugar and mix once more until sugar is blended in. Add flour mixture to wet mixture and mix all ingredients together. Be careful not to over-mix. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Place in the oven on center rack and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out dry. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

When completely cool, split cake into two layers and spread with the best quality raspberry preserves you can find. Assemble the cake and pour chocolate ganache over the top to coat. Refrigerate until about 15 minutes before service time.

Serves 8-10

Chocolate Ganache Recipe

Double Chocolate Brownies

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My very favorite dessert is and has always been chocolate brownies. This recipe takes the cake! I finally found a rich, fudge, dark chocolate brownie experience spiked with coffee, that rivals even conventional recipes. I am serious. Try this recipe for yourself!

Dark Chocolate Brownies

Recipe courtesy The Sticky Fingers Bakery Cookbook

by Doran Petersan 

Ingredients:

  • ⅔ cup Coffee, brewed
  • 1 tbsp. Earth Balance non-dairy margarine for baking
  • 2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
  • 19.6 ounces sugar, weighed
  • 4 ounces Cocoa, weighed
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Sea salt
  • ⅔ cup Canola oil
  • ⅔ cup Water
  • 1 tbsp. Vanilla
  • 11 ounces All-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ cup chocolate chips

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1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.:
2. Using a double boiler, heat coffee, margarine and dark chocolate, stirring until chocolate is melted and ingredients are thoroughly combined.:
3. In bowl of a stand mixer, combine sugar, cocoa powder and salt and mix together with paddle attachment.:
4. Add oil, water and vanilla and mix to combine.:
5. Add coffee mixture and mix to combine.:
6. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and baking powder. Stir in the chocolate chips. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until ingredients are incorporated.:
7. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for 45-55 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before cutting.:
Yield:  12 really big brownies or 24 small

 

Vegan Gorgonzola: A Passion Project

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In between all the professional cooking I do, there is also all the household cooking I do, which includes, of course, food I like to eat. Once in awhile I embark on a very special veganizing project as shown here.  I ain’t gonna lie. As long as I have been vegan (about six years now) I have not forgotten the flavor of fine, aged cheese.

I chose THIS RECIPE for its simplicity. It’s not a science project like some I have read. It is straightforward and the wait time was only overnight. The result is very much like the real deal…which led me to veganize another old favorite of mine: blackened Gorgonzola steak with jalapeños. I know, what a crazy combo, but it was oh, so delicious back in the day.

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I picked up a package of Field Roast Hand-Formed Burgers (the absolute best vegan burger, in my opinion) and pressed it out as flat as I could. Dusted it with blackening spice and seared it in a hot pan. Then I topped it with thick slices of this lovely vegan Gorg and a sprinkle of jalapeños. Heaven!

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Top Ten Vegan Dessert Recipes

 

Chocolate Ganache Cake

You asked for it and here it is! The Monster List of Vegan Desserts! Enjoy!

 

ganache  Dark Chocolate Ganache Cake

IMG_4153 Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

Dutch Apple Pie Dutch Apple Pie

IMG_4164 Key Lime Pie

IMG_3330 Chocolate Brownies

IMG_4841 Vanilla Cake

IMG_0860 Chocolate Mousse Pie

IMG_3989 Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

cake Carrot Cake (reduced fat, sugar)

brownies Dark Chocolate Brownies (reduced fat, sugar)

 

 

Indian Besan Omelet with Chickpeas,Tomato and Shallots

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Tender and tasty, spiced with garam masala and speckled with fresh tomato and green chiles, these delicious, high-protein Indian pancakes provide the perfect accompaniment to a meal with a smear of good green chutney or they can provide the base for the meal itself!  Way beyond roti or naan bread, these are full of flavor– soft and pliable, great for folding over and stuffing with even more Indian goodness.

I am finally digging into Madhur Jaffrey’s gorgeous cookbook, Vegetarian India: A Journey Through The Best of Indian Home Cooking, and last night I prepared Chickpeas in  Cilantro Sauce and Chickpea Flour (aka besan) and Tomato Pancakes. The meal itself was okay, not quite as intensely flavorful as other dishes I have tried, but I had a whole mess of chickpeas already cooked and ready to go, so I gave the recipe a try. The real star of the show, however, were the pancakes!

This morning I had batter left over and cooked up one for breakfast, omelet style. I reheated chickpeas from last night and mashed them a bit, rolling them up with fresh  sliced tomato and then used that hot skillet to char up a few slices of shallot hanging around in the fridge. Brilliant!!

I can see this versatile bread becoming part of my regular meal rotation. I hope you give it  a try!

Chickpea Flour and Tomato Pancakes (by Madhur Jaffrey)

Note: The method is briefly and loosely translated here and not written true to the original. In other words, this is how I did it and it came out great.

1 cup chickpea flour

3/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. ground turmeric

1/4 tsp. nice red chili powder

*Generous pinch of ground asafetida (hing powder)

1/4 tsp. garam masala

1 cup tomato, finely diced

1 medium onion, peeled and finely diced

1 fresh hot green chili, finely chopped

About 3 tbsp. olive of peanut oil

Method:

Mix all dry ingredients together with a whisk, removing lumps. Pulse fresh tomato, onion and chile to fine dice. Blend dry ingredients along with enough water to make a thin, crepe-like batter, about 1 1/4 cups. Press out any lumps.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat and add 1/2 tsp. oil. Measure 1/3 cup batter and pour on hot oiled pan, spreading thinly, as in making crepes. The cake will puff a little as it cooks. When dry-looking on the surface, carefully run a thin metal spatula around the edges, then turn and cook on the other side, about 1-2 minutes.

Serve with a meal or stuff with flavorful fillings and fold over, omelet-style.

Yield: 6 servings

*Asafetida, also known as Hing powder is available at Indian Grocery stores and online.  Some Oriental markets may carry it as well. However, it is often way over-priced online. I bought a nice little jar for under $3 at the Indian Grocery.

 

Chocolate Mousse Terrine

platedHere is a rich, elegant, special occasion dessert that is pretty easy to assemble, believe it or not. Fudgy brownie layered with creamy chocolate mousse enrobed in smooth chocolate ganache. I have garnished this slice with a chocolate-dipped strawberry and Tru-Whip non-dairy whipped topping. It’s also nice served with raspberry sauce.

Chocolate Mousse Terrine

1 recipe chocolate brownies (here’s a link)

1 recipe chocolate mousse (here’s a link)

1/2 recipe chocolate ganache (here’s a link)

Whipped topping, berries, mint (optional)

Method:

Bake brownies in a jelly-roll pan for about 20 minutes and cool completely. Line a loaf pan  with plastic wrap to extend with enough excess to cover when finished layering.

While brownies are baking, whip up the chocolate mousse and chill in the refrigerator. When brownies are completely cooled, cut into three wide strips to fit the interior of the loaf pan.

Press a layer of brownie into the loaf pan. Spread a thick layer of mousse then top with a second layer of brownie. Repeat layering, ending with brownie. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze at least 6 hours or overnight.

When ready to glaze your terrine, prepare the ganache recipe. Place a metal rack on a wax or parchment paper-lined rimmed sheet tray. Flip the frozen terrine out of the loaf pan and unwrap. Set cake right side up and place on the rack.

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Pour ganache over cake, making sure to cover  the top and sides completely. This can be best achieved by pouring quickly and from a height above the cake that allows the glaze to flow rather than just to rest on the surface. If you can, try to avoid spreading the glaze with a knife or spatula, as it creates imperfections and bubbles on the surface.

Return the cake to the freezer to allow the ganache to firm up well. Make sure the cake is on a non-stick surface such as waxed paper or parchment.

You may wish to give the cake another coat of ganache, depending on the thickness of the glaze. If so, make sure the ganache is warmed very slightly to a pourable consistency. Return cake to freezer, but do not wrap until completely frozen, if at all.

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It is easiest to plate this dessert in advance. Pull from freezer, Slice with large, sharp knife dipped in hot water and cleaned in between slicing. Garnish as desired and keep plates refrigerated until service time. Enjoy!!

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Rogan Josh: A Tale of Two Curries

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My fascination with Indian flavors continued today as I explored the possibility of creating a plant-based version of one of my old favorites, Rogan Josh.

I found an excellent recipe online and visited my local Indian Grocery, gathering the many spices I would need. While I was there I picked up a pre-packaged Rogan Josh sauce mix and thought I would try them both. I thought maybe if the packet was just as good I would keep it in the pantry for a day when I was feeling less ambitious.

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I set to work assembling my spices. I made a couple tweaks to the recipe, substituting soy yogurt and leaving out the paneer.

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Yes, there are a lot of spices in Rogan Josh!

The dish starts with fried whole spices and onions, filling the air with delicious aromas!

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More spices are added creating layers of flavor, including Kashmiri Chili Powder which gives the dish its distinctive red color as well as plenty of heat!

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The finished dish was rich, tasty and very spicy! Next time I will cut back on the amount of chili powder.

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The preparation for the packet version was extremely simple–just add water to the contents and pour into the pan along with desired vegetables and simmer until thick. The result was tasty after I added a bit of tomato puree and salt.

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The recipe version was the winner in my taste test, hands down. It had great depth of flavor and richness with the inclusion of the creamy yogurt. I also enjoyed the process of cooking the dish, seeing it come together layer by layer and tasting the end result.

Stay tuned for my next adventure in plant-based Indian cuisine!

Vegan Macaroni and Cheese

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Hand’s down the best mac n’ cheese recipe I have tried, this one comes from Allison Rivers Samson as published in Veg News Magazine. You may know her from Allisonsgourmet.com, a fantastic online source for decadent vegan baked goods.

I made a couple of modifications to the recipe by adding steamed broccoli and substituting panko for the fresh breadcrumb topping. I hope you enjoy making this delicious dish your own!

Here’s the recipe:  Veg News Magazine Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

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Easy Chocolate Ganache

ganacheA rich, creamy coating of chocolate ganache makes a grand impression on a special dessert! Here is a simple recipe for glazing cakes, dipping strawberries or truffle-making.

Chocolate Ganache

1 can (14.5 ounces) full-fat coconut milk

16 ounces non-diary chocolate, chopped (or chocolate chips)

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Method:

Place chocolate in large bowl. Heat coconut milk to almost boiling. Pour slowly over chocolate in bowl.

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Cover bowl with plastic wrap for about 5 minutes. Remove plastic and with a whisk, slowly blend chocolate and coconut milk. The idea is to get a smooth ganache and avoid bubbles.

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Use immediately or refrigerate, covered, for later use.

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Almond Ginger Cookies (Gluten and soy free)

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Finally! A moist, chewy, gluten-free cookie made with whole, natural ingredients. I love this recipe because it is simple and easy–no science project here, just straightforward mix and bake.

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I found this recipe video by Emily Phares online and it made me laugh. The girls were so cute, I just had to give it a try

 

Rice Crispy Treats

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Did you think you would never eat rice crispy treats again once you found out the gelatin contained in conventional marshmallows is derived from animal sources? Well, cheer up, because now you can enjoy the exact same treat–cruelty free!

Using the classic Kelloggs Recipe, I created these delicious little crispies with puffed brown rice cereal, non-dairy margarine and vegan marshmallows (purchased from Whole Foods). I dressed them up with a nice coating of melted chocolate, but they are fine on their own. Enjoy!

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Key Lime Pie with Mango-Ginger Coulis

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I challenge you to tell the difference between the flavor and texture of conventional key lime pie and this dairy-free, decadent delight! This recipe yields a sweet, tart, creamy filling–exactly what I was looking for to top off my Sunday barbecue. Best of all, the preparation is simple, just blend and bake!

Dressed up with a swirl of sweet mango-ginger coulis, this dessert makes an elegant presentation for a dinner party as well.

Vegan Key Lime Pie

adapted from a recipe by Jolinda Hackett

2- 8 ounce containers Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese (non-dairy cream cheese)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup key lime juice
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 pre-made graham cracker crust, pre-baked and cooled completely

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Blend all ingredients in a food processor until very smooth.

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Pour into cooled pie shell and bake 40-45 minutes until set. Cool on a rack, then chill for at least 4 hours before serving.

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Mango Ginger Coulis

1 cup mango puree

1/4 tsp. finely minced ginger

2 tbsp. vanilla soy creamer

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate at least 2 hours to allow flavors to blend.

 

Keep it Simple Smoothie

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A smoothie can be a tasty, quick and efficient delivery system for several servings of fruit and/or veggies at one time. This recipe provides an easy to prepare method using fruits and vegetables you probably have on hand. You don’t need a $400 blender either, just a humble household model will do.

Once you see how truly easy smoothie-making can be, play around with the fruits, substituting melon or kiwi for the pineapple, apple juice for orange, mango chunks for banana–you get the idea. It’s not an exact science.

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Simple Green Smoothie

Large handful fresh spinach or other dark, leafy greens (chard, kale, etc.)

1 ripe banana, fresh or frozen

1 cup frozen pineapple chunks

1/2 cup orange juice

Place greens in blender with juice and puree until smooth. Add banana in chunks along with pineapple and a bit more liquid if needed ( I use ice cold water). Blend it up and enjoy!

Pumpernickel Bread

headerBread baking can be a fun way to spend a few hours at home, especially during the winter months. It can also be a grounding, therapeutic practice–helping us slow down and become more present in our daily life.

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This recipe yields what my Nana would have referred to as a “good dark bread”. She was always delighted to find a fresh loaf at the bakery, the darker and more fragrant the better. As a child, I couldn’t appreciate the rich, full flavors of the rye flour, molasses and caraway. seeds. But over the years my palate has come to look forward to complexities of flavor like those in a dark coffee or imported chocolate.

This recipe is an old-world style with basic ingredients. The project time is long, about 3 hours—but, like I said, if you have the time and you’re feeling ambitious, you will be rewarded with a rich, tasty bread sturdy enough for your favorite sandwich or just a little spread of margarine or jam.

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Pumpernickel Bread

Recipe courtesy Elizabeth Yetter via About.com Bread Baking

1-1/2 tbsp active dry yeast
1-1/2 cups warm water
1/2 cup molasses
4 tsp salt
2 tbsp shortening
2 tbsp caraway seed
2-3/4 cups rye flour
3 cups bread flour, about
Preparation:

In large bowl, add warm water and yeast. Stir until yeast is dissolved.

Stir in the molasses, salt, shortening, caraway seed, and rye flour.

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Mix in 2 cups of bread flour. Slowly add the remaining bread flour until you have a dough that can be kneaded. You may or may not use the full amount of bread flour that is called for, depending on ingredients and weather.

Turn dough out onto floured board and knead for 5 minutes. If dough is too sticky, knead in more bread flour, a tablespoon at a time. I used a dough hook on my mixer for about 3-4 minutes.

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Place dough in greased bowl. Flip dough over so that top is lightly greased.

Cover and let dough rise in warm place for about an hour or until double in size.

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Punch down dough. Cover and let rise for another 45 minutes.

Punch down dough a second time. Turn out on lightly floured board and knead dough briefly.

Cut dough in half. Shape each half into small, round loaf.

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Grease baking sheet. Sprinkle sheet with cornmeal, optional.

Place both round loaves on baking sheet, cover, and let rise for about 45 minutes or until double in size.

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Bake at 375 degrees F for 35 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when tapped on.

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Remove from oven and let loaves cool on rack.

Loaves can be wrapped in plastic and frozen for later.

Brown Sugar Blondies

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These are classic–brown sugary goodness with the addition of chocolate chips, pecans and just a touch of bourbon. A delicious change of pace from traditional brownies, these are guaranteed to create a stir!

Blondies

from Chloe’s Vegan Desserts

by Chloe Coscarelli

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  • 1 cup All-purpose flour
  • ¾ tsp. Baking powder
  • ½ tsp. Cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • 6 tbsp. Vegan margarine
  • ¾ cup Brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. Vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp. Dark rum or bourbon
  • ⅓ cup Semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ⅓ cup Walnuts or pecans, chopped

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1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8-inch square pan and line with parchment paper long enough to overhang the edges.:
2.In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt until combined. Set aside.:
3.Using a stand or hand mixer, beat the margarine, brown sugar, vanilla and rum or bourbon, if using, until combined. Slowly beat in the flour mixture. Once the flour mixture is incorporated, add chocolate chips and walnuts. The batter will be thick.:
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4.Evenly pat the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges. Once cooled, lift the parchment paper to release the blondies from the pan and unmold. Using a sharp knife, cut into 2-inch squares and serve.:

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Buffalo Tempeh Caesar Wrap

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Way back when before I went vegan (BV) my favorite lunchtime meal was a big Caesar salad with grilled or blackened chicken or fish. Later on, it was the Buffalo Chicken Caesar Wrap, sometimes found as a lunch special on menus. I love the contrast of the creamy tangy dressing and crunchy Romaine lettuce against the spicy cayenne pepper sauce.

Now I have finally found an excellent vegan Caesar salad dressing, courtesy of Roberto Martin, Ellen DeGeneres’ personal chef,  and an excellent vegan Buffalo sauce recipe from The Post Punk Kitchen that tastes EXACTLY like restaurant-style, the two worlds have come together in my NEW favorite lunch!

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Tempeh is one of the very best plant-based sources of protein. I find WestSoy brand very mild, without the bitterness sometimes associated with tempeh. It also helps to steam tempeh before combining with sauces and marinades to improve texture and flavor.

Caesar Dressing

From Vegan Cooking for Carnivores

Note: This recipe makes alot of dressing (2 1/2 cups). A tablespoon of this intensely flavorful dressing goes a long way, so I cut the recipe in half when I make it.

Ingredients:

Juice of 2 lemons

3 garlic cloves, crushed

4 tablespoons capers, packed in brine

Dash of caper brine from the jar

4 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons vegan Worcestershire sauce (preferably Annie’s)

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 to 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)

1 1/2 cups vegan mayonnaise

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

3 ounces good-quality extra-virgin olive oil.

Method:

Place all the ingredients in the jar of a blender and puree until smooth. Use immediately, or store the dressing in a squeeze bottle or glass container with an airtight lid and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Here’s a link to the Post Punk Kitchen’s Buffalo Tempeh recipe http://www.theppk.com/2013/07/ranch-salad-with-buffalo-tempeh/

Carrot Cookies with Orange Icing

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One thing you may not know about me is that I have a great fondness for food nostalgia and vintage cookbooks. I like to attempt now and then to give a vegan makeover to a classic recipe from my childhood.

I chose one of my very favorite cookies my mom used to make. Whenever we saw that Tupperware canister on the counter, we knew what we would find inside. And they always went too fast.

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I substituted Earth Balance dairy-free products and flax eggs. I bumped up the health value by just a little bit, substituting whole wheat pastry flour and Sucanat for the sugar. The result is a tender, crisp little cookie cake topped with sweet orange frosting. I actually like them better than the original. Don’t tell Mom 🙂

Carrot Cookies with Orange Icing

adapted from The Betty Crocker Recipe Card Library 1971

1/2 cup dairy-free buttery stick, softened

1/2 cup vegan shortening

3/4 cup Sucanat ( or sugar)

*2 flax eggs (other other egg substitute)

1 cup mashed cooked carrots

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt, depending on whether the butter substitute contains salt

3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

Orange icing (recipe below)

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Heat oven to 400 degrees.

*If using flax eggs, whisk together 2 tablespoons ground flax meal and 6 tablespoons water. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes while preparing remaining ingredients. This will create an egg-like consistency.

1.  Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

2.  Cream together the shortening, butter substitute and sugar until smooth. Add egg substitute then  carrots and stir until well blended.

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3.  Stir in flour mixture then fold in coconut.

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4.  Drop by teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto lightly greased cookie sheet.

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5.  Bake 10-12 minutes or until no imprint remains when touched lightly. Immediately remove from baking sheet to cool. Frost with orange icing. 4 dozen cookies.

Orange Icing

3 tablespoons soft butter substitute (such as Earth Balance)

1 1/2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

2 teaspoons grated orange peel

1 tablespoon fresh squeezed orange juice

Blend butter and sugar. Stir in orange peel and juice. Beat until smooth.

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