Vegan Sweet Rolls with Fruit Filling

IMG_2698

Times like these, I am sure your family is thankful they live with someone who enjoys cooking. And it’s times like these that people like me are thankful they have something useful (and fun) to do in the comfort of their own home!

So, how are you all holding up? We are only making one trip per week for food shopping, so I’m really getting creative in the kitchen. Letting the larder run down. Using up my odds and ends.

This project began with me staring at a jar of sweet, sticky organic dried plums I had sitting in the fridge. Last week, I remembered finding myself lusting over the cover of the latest Bon Appetit magazine featuring a gorgeous closeup of a pan of cinnamon rolls.

I checked out the recipe inside and discovered the filling was made from dates. I thought my dried plums would sub just fine, here. Instead of using Bon Appetit’s conventional recipe for the dough, I turned to Tasty’s vegan version found here.

So, I used Tasty’s recipes for the dough and the icing, then instead of the butter, brown sugar cinnamon filling–I used the fruit filling below.


A nice change from the typical brown sugar cinnamon flavor, I find this simple, no-cook filling exceptionally yummy and a great way to use up dried fruit hanging around. I suppose you could use any filling here and make it your own.

IMG_6931

Dried Fruit Filling

2 cups pitted dried plums (prunes) or 1 cup chopped, pitted Medjool dates

1-2 tbsp vegetable oil

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 tbsp cinnamon

1/2 cup dark brown sugar (for assembly)

Method:

Soak fruit in hot water for 30-45 minutes, then drain and combine in food processor with  other ingredients (except brown sugar). Mixture should become a spreadable paste. If necessary, add a bit more oil to smooth it out.

Spread the mixture carefully with an offset spatula over dough, then sprinkle evenly with brown sugar before shaping and cutting dough into rolls.

IMG_6928

Bake as directed here. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes and serve with icing, if desired.

 

IMG_6936

IMG_2686

 

Deli Style Tuna Salad (Fish-Free)

IMG_6893

Having gone plant-based about eight years ago, I had actually forgotten about fish as food. But, when I read about this new product, well–I must admit, the food memories come flooding back:

A Subway 6-inch tuna (just albacore and mayo) on whole wheat roll with a bag of Doritos, my reward after working a long lunch shift behind the counter as a ‘sandwich artist’. Scoops of  deli tuna salad piled high on toasted English muffins, smothered in melted cheddar, shared with my best friend, Terri–at the local diner when we were kids. Tuna salad at home–studded with finely diced onion, celery and sweet pickle relish, first my Nana’s recipe and then, later, my best attempt at recreation. But it was never quite as good.

Then there were the Tuna Helper days. So many combinations of silky noodles, macaroni and savory sauce. Later, I would come up with my own creamy béchamel and whole grain pasta creations, folding in frozen baby peas for color.

So, yeah, the memories are there if I reach back far enough. Good memories. So, I thought, what the heck–if nothing else, trying this latest fish analog will give me something to write about.

IMG_6872

First impressions:

Upon opening the package I found the scent mild, briny, but not like seafood. No fishy smell at all. More like hearts of palm or artichokes from a can. That, to be honest, was kind of a disappointment. Not to say I wanted to smell fish, but I wanted to smell the sea, like the strands of seaweed floating in my miso soup. Just a hint. But, no–I didn’t get that here.

IMG_6877

Not unlike other vegan protein products, the bits are kind of hard and crumbly. From experience, I know this won’t bode well for incorporation with mayo. So, I take it for a spin in the food processor to break it down into more of a shredded paste-like consistency, yet still retain some texture.

The Sarno brothers would most likely frown on this, but, hey–I paid my five bucks, so I’m gonna make it mine.

IMG_6879

Now, we’re talkin’. The grinding actually released a bit more moisture, helping it combine quite nicely without being too wet. Here, I added mayo, celery, onion and pickle relish, 1 tablespoon each.

IMG_6887

The flavor was quite nice, the texture spot-on–even with that kind of dry, edgy mouth feel one expects from flake tuna. Of course, without the add-ins I wouldn’t find it as favorable to be sure.

The final analysis:

Would I buy the product again? I have to say no, I wouldn’t. At $5 per package and each package offering one hearty serving (or two conservative portions) it’s a high price/ low-yield way to spend your lunch money.

I have said this before, when it comes to deli sandwich fillings it’s really about the mayo, onion, celery and relish combination for me. You could basically grind up anything, mix it with these ingredients and it would make a delicious sando, in my opinion.

Take chickpeas, tempeh or white beans and mash em up. Take crumbled pressed tofu sprinkled with a bit of turmeric for color–bam! Eggless salad. So many creative ways to include less processed and whole foods in the equation and we know laboratory-produced protein isolates are not the best source of protein for our bodies.

Have you tried this product? What do you think?

IMG_6874

 

IMG_6876

 


 

Blueberry Cardamom Muffins (Oil-Free, Whole Grain, Vegan)

IMG_6867

By the time I finish my morning coffee, I’m thinking about what I want to cook for the day. This is a constant–whether or not I even have time to cook at home. I am still thinking and planning for when I get back to my kitchen.

And it’s not necessarily a plan requiring an elaborate list of ingredients, or even a trip to the store. Most often I consider what I can do with the various components I already have in my pantry, fridge and freezer. Kind of a daily mystery box challenge.

I’ve been dreaming of creating these muffins for over a week now. The combination of blueberry and cardamom just sounds so nice. Today is the day.


IMG_6846

Blueberry Cardamom Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsweetened plant-based milk
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely ground cardamom seed (optional)
  • ½ cup mashed ripe banana
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries, unthawed

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare a 12-cup muffin pan, either with liners or a light coating of oil.
  2. In a large measuring cup, use a fork to  mix together the milk, flaxseeds, and vinegar. Mix for about a minute, until it appears foamy. Set aside. IMG_6852
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk mixture. Add the banana and vanilla to the well and stir together. Incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until the dry ingredients are moistened (do not overmix). Fold in the berries.IMG_6857
  4. Fill each muffin cup three-quarters full and bake for 22 to 26 minutes, or until a knife inserted through the center of a muffin comes out clean. IMG_6860
  5. Let the muffins cool completely, about 20 minutes, then carefully run a knife around the edges of each muffin to remove them from the pan.

IMG_6869

The verdict? A tasty, aromatic muffin bursting with juicy berries and whole grains. Lightly sweet and fat free, they make a perfect snack or light breakfast.

 

Easy Enchilada Sauce

IMG_5699.jpg

In my experience, you can stuff a burrito with just about anything. But the sauce…now, the sauce can make it or break it for me.

Here’s one of my essential recipes. It’s quick and easy and tasty. I pour this rich, tomato-garlic-cumin sauce  over enchiladas, burritos, tacos–even drizzle it over nachos.  I hope you give it a try!

Easy Enchilada Sauce

Ingredients:

4 tbsp. Whole Wheat Pastry Flour ( all-purpose flour works fine, too)
¼ cup Canola oil
3 tbsp. Chili powder
3 tsp. Cumin, ground
1 ¼ tsp. Salt
3 cloves Garlic, minced
2 cups Hot water
14.5 ounces Tomato sauce

Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

Method:

Brown flour in a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly to prevent over-browning.  Carefully add spices and oil, stirring to avoid lumps. Slowly add water and tomato sauce. Stir until smooth. Simmer to desired consistency. Check for salt and add a bit of ground cayenne pepper if you want to make it spicy.

Yield: A whole lotta sauce, about 4 cups, so unless you’re making a big ole mess of enchiladas, you may wish to cut the ingredients in half.

IMG_5682.jpg

 

Chik’n Noodle Soup

IMG_5786

There’s nothing quite like the distinctive experience of a steaming bowl of fragrant broth brimming with fresh simmered vegetables with plenty of slurpy noodles. Especially when the weather is cool or when you are feeling low.

Making a pot of soup is a caring, healing thing we can do for one another as well. A fresh-cooked, mindfully prepared soup tastes nothing like soup from a can or even from the local deli. This soup is so simple, anyone can do it.

The stars of my vegan show are a golden chicken-less broth,  a dash of  poultry seasoning, Gardein chicken substitute and lots of fresh parsley and cracked black pepper. Guaranteed to heal whatever ails 🙂 I hope you enjoy this soup and I hope you share it with a friend.

IMG_5789 (1).jpg

Chik’n Noodle Soup

Ingredients:

4 cups vegetable broth (chicken-less flavor, if you can find it)

1 large carrot, sliced into wheels about 1/8 inch thick

2 stalks celery, sliced 1/4 inch thick

1/2 cup diced yellow onion

1-1 1/2 cups egg-free noodles, cooked ( I used 2 lasagna noodles, cut into thin strips)

2 Gardein chik’n-less scaloppini filets, frozen or thawed

Big handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped

1/2 tsp Poultry Seasoning (optional)

Fresh ground black pepper

Method:

Combine first four ingredients in a medium-sized saucepan and set to boil. Cover pot, reduce heat to low and cook vegetables until tender, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, saute filets in a little oil in a small skillet until golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside to cool.

When vegetables are tender, remove lid from pot and add the cooked noodles, stirring to make sure they are well distributed throughout soup. Dice the cooked scaloppini filets to about the same size as the vegetables and stir into the soup. Add parsley and lots of ground pepper. Taste for salt and continue stirring until all ingredients are heated through.

Yield: 4 servings