Monthly Archives: October 2010

Vegan Pumpkin Muffins

In honor of Halloween, I decided I needed to make something pumpkiny today. I was going to go with cookies, but ultimately went with muffins (that way I can eat them for breakfast and pretend they’re a little better for me than they probably are). Without any eggs and butter though, I’m already moving in the right direction, right? Pumpkin has protein and all kinds of fiber, so I say they’re healthy.

I found a random recipe on About.com by way of google and changed it up a little. I’m sure there are a few variations/additions you could make depending on your tastes. I put raisins on top of a couple to change it up and I’m sure walnuts or pecans would be good in here too. Or maybe some toasted, sugared pumpkin seeds on top?

And I should mention how easy it was to make these too. It only took about 15 minutes to put these together and get them in the oven. It makes them taste even better somehow, I think.

Ingredients
• 1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
• egg replacer for 2 eggs (I whisked together 2 Tbsp. ground flax seed and 6 Tbsp. water, let it sit, whisked some more, etc. until it was a good consistency)
• 1/3 c. vegan margarine (5 1/2 Tbsp.), softened
• 2 1/2 c flour (I went with whole wheat), separated (1 c./1 1/2 c.)
• 1 Tbsp. baking powder
• 1/2 tsp. baking soda
• 1/4 tsp. salt
• 1 tsp. cinnamon
• 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
• 1/8 tsp. ground ginger
• 1/2 c. soy milk or almond milk (I used vanilla almond milk)
• 1 c. brown sugar

1. Mix together 1 c. flour, 1 c. brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger,  salt.

2. Mix in softened margarine with hand mixer, then add pumpkin, soy milk and egg replacer (some reviews of recipes say because pumpkin is a binder, you don’t need the eggs. Sounds logical, but I replaced the eggs anyway).

3. Mix in rest of flour, blend well.

4. Grease muffin pan or use paper cups. Fill each 2/3 full (I was probably a big heavy handed…as usual). It made 20 muffins for me.

I decided to do a little icing drizzle on some of them too (OK, this definitely is pushing them over to dessert territory here….). I just whisked together powdered sugar and soy milk until I had a consistency I liked and let it harden.

Next time I might save a couple of tablespoons of the pumpkin to include in the icing (since the original recipe I based this off of only had 10 oz. of pumpkin, I totally could have done that and it would have been fine).

They turned out great! They definitely stuck to the bottom of the paper muffin cups, so I wonder if it would have been better to just grease (with the rest of the stick of vegan margarine perhaps) the muffin pan. Of course, I like the idea of not using paper liners too. Yum. I’m definitely going to make these again! (Like as soon as they’re gone).

Cooking Club: Chickpea Salad with Orange and Cinnamon Dressing

Katie contributed this salad to our orange-themed cooking club. It was one of the only dishes that didn’t necessarily LOOK orange, but you tasted (and saw) the oranges in there. It was a light refreshing twist to what you would expect. This is a crowd-pleasure for sure.

Salad
•  15 oz. chickpeas dried, soaked in plenty of water overnight
• 2 tomatoes, chopped
• 1 small handful mint, finely chopped
• 1/2 red onion, finely sliced
• 1/4 cup  feta cheese
• 6 dried, plump apricots, sliced

Dressing
•  juice from 1/2 lemon
• 1 garlic clove, crushed
• zest from 1  orange
• 1 tsp honey
• 1/2 tsp ground cumin
• pinch of ground cinnamon
• pinch of sea salt
• extra virgin olive oil to taste

1. Drain the chickpeas, fill the saucepan of chickpeas with water and bring to boil. Let simmer for 30 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse under cold water.

2. Combine the chickpeas, tomato, mint, onion and apricots in a bowl. Top with crumbled feta and lightly toasted almonds.

3. In a small bowl, mix the dressing ingredients together and pour over the salad. Toss well and serve.

Seeds of Change Jalfrezi Sauce

I bought a jar of Seeds of Change Jalfrezi Sauce a month or two ago and — just as I suspected — it came in very handy last night. It was late, I was starving, had a few random ingredients and one of my favorite shows of all time was starting a new season in about 10 minutes, so I needed something fast.

I diced and sautéed a couple of redskin potatoes and a handful of baby carrots first, since they take the longest to soften, in some olive oil. I then added chopped onion, a bunch of chopped yellow pepper and a few handfuls of fresh spinach. I then crumbled a package of tempeh with flax to add some protein.

When it was all cooked down nicely, I added the simmer sauce and let it sit on low for about 10 minutes. I had so much stuff in there, I probably could have used a little more sauce, but it was enough and it was delicious. I had a huge portion of it and there was plenty leftover for lunch the next day (or for another person to have eaten it. I thought I was out of my microwaveable rice (again, In Treatment was starting!!!) so I ate it as it was, but I think it would be great over rice, quinoa, etc. It got high marks from my squeeze, who ate it for lunch today too, so I’ll definitely be buying this sauce — and probably some of their others — again!

Vegan Lentil Burgers

I keep saying I’m going to make some kind of homemade veggie burger and I’m not sure why I never got around to it…until today! I meant for them to be black bean burgers, but somehow forgot the one thing I went to the store for (please tell me you’ve done that before). I was pretty sure I had some at home, but… I didn’t. Luckily, I found a bag of lentils in my pantry.

I glanced at a couple of random recipes, but really just threw together my own concoction. After a little trial and error with the cooking times, I think they both looked and tasted good. I think I’ll keep trying new additions (more veggies!) and different beans, but both my squeeze and I liked it, so I guess that’s all that counts.

I made the mistake of saying, “It was easy!” — now it seems this might be a weekly request… (but it really was easy, so that’s OK). I decided if I made the mixture sans egg replacer/flax mixture, you could make it a day or two ahead of time and add that at the last minute before frying.

Again, this isn’t scientific, but it worked so here’s what I did.

Ingredients
• 3 c. cooked lentils (I cooked the whole 1 lb. bag to be safe. Half would have been fine)
• 1 small cooking onion, cut into 4
• 1 medium red pepper, chopped into small chunks
• 1-2 cloves garlic
• 1 c. bread crumbs/3 slices of bread
• egg replacer for 3-4 eggs (4 Tbsp. ground flax seed and water in this case)
• salt and pepper
• olive oil

1. If you don’t have a container of bread crumbs (like me), I started by tossing 3 slices of bread (I was hurrying, or I think I would have toasted it first) into a food processor. It made 1 1/2 c. of crumbs and I ended up using a little over one cup. Set aside after processing (I chose a 2 c. measuring cup so I could see what I was working with).

2. I then processed the red pepper, small onion, garlic, salt and pepper until it was a liquidy mush. I may have added some fresh parsley at this point too. I took THAT out and set aside in the bowl that I would mix the whole thing in.

3. Prepare egg replacer or, in my case, whisk ground flax seed and water. It’s supposed to be 1 Tbsp. ground flax seed and 3 Tbsp. water per egg (I was planning on three), but I ended up adding an extra Tbsp. of flax when it wasn’t thickening up enough (perhaps I was just being impatient). So, it ended up being 4 Tbsp. ground flax seed and 9 Tbsp. water. I whisked, let it sit for a bit, then whisked some more and was happy. It was kind of sticky and goopy — seemed like an egg to me!

4. I processed 3 c. cooked lentils (prepare about 8 oz. according to the package directions) with the egg mixture. About 2/3 of the mixture was pureed and the rest were still mostly whole lentils, which is what I had envisioned, so that worked for me.

5. Mix into pepper/onion/garlic mixture, then add bread crumbs until it’s as thick as you want it. I did this until it was like a thick, sticky hummus consistency. Spice accordingly (here’s where I’d add some hot sauce if you like it spicy).

6. Heat skillet over medium heat and add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. After much trial and error, I found that if you take a scoop of the batter and spread out to burger size, cover and cook over medium heat (or just under medium) for about 7 minutes, flip, then cook the other side for 4-5 minutes until browned to your likeness.

I was pretty happy for this first attempt and will definitely be trying this — likely with some variations — very soon!

Cooking Club: Rutabaga Chips with Curry Mayo

Here was Amy E’s contribution to the most recent cooking club! I ate a ton of these, then made someone take them away from me. Sadly, I didn’t take any pictures, but you can imagine what oven-baked chips looked like right?

Here it goes, in Amy’s words:

Ingredients:
• 1 whole rutabaga (it’s a big, ugly, waxy purple root, in case you are not sure what you’re looking for. Also, fun fact: In Europe rutabagas are carved out to make jack-o-lanterns.)
• Salt to taste
• Olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Peel the skin off the rutabaga (you can do this with a sharp knife). Using a chef’s knife or a mandoline, slice thin, and as evenly as you can. (I found that the chewier chips were a result of one side of the chip being too thick. Also, the chips shrank a LOT in the oven, so feel free to cut big — but not thick — pieces.)
3. In a large bowl, toss with olive oil (I probably used about 2 tsp?) and salt to taste (I used about a tsp). Spread in one layer on a baking sheet and place in the oven. The chips will need about a half-hour, but watch them carefully so they don’t burn. If you notice them browning quickly, flip the chips over and turn down the temperature a bit. I ended up baking them at 350 for about 30 minutes and then turned the heat down to 200, but I had a lot of burnt pieces that I didn’t serve, so be more vigilant than I was.
4. When they are done, take them out of the oven and let cool before serving. Place on paper towels for a while if they are greasy.
These would probably also be delicious and crispier deep-fried.
Curry Mayonnaise (Adapted from Mark Bittman’s recipe for food processor mayonnaise)
Ingredients
• 1 egg
• 2 tsp. brown or dijon mustard
• 1 Tbsp. lemon juice plus 1 tsp. white vinegar
• 1 c. neutral oil (I used canola oil)
• 2 tsp. curry powder
1. Put everything but the oil in the food processor and turn the food processor on.
2. In the little insert that goes in the lid (the “food pusher”) there should be a tiny hole. Pour the oil into the insert while the food processor is running and it will drip into the bowl in a slow, steady stream. Wait until the oil is incorporated, turn off your food processor, and taste. Adjust seasoning and vinegar levels as necessary (that’s why I added the 1 tsp of vinegar).
If you don’t have a food processor, you’ll have to add the oil — slowly and steadily — by hand, but you will be fine.

Spicy Vegan Fall Soup

I’m not ready for snow or anything, but I haven’t been totally hating the cooler temperatures.  I decided I needed to make soup this week  and went for it — what else are you supposed to do when you’ve got a couple of leeks and an acorn squash staring you in the face? I didn’t follow any recipe at all — just a bit of this and a bit of that. Obviously this could be changed up with all kinds of stuff, but I like how it turned out. Spicy, smooth and just what the weatherman ordered.

Ingredients
• 1 acorn squash
• 1 sweet potato
• 2 leeks, cleaned and white parts chopped well
• 1 small cooking onion, chopped
• 10-15 baby carrots, chopped small
• olive oil and/or vegan butter
• 4 c. vegetable broth
• about 10 to 11 oz. coconut milk
• about 2 cloves minced garlic
• 1 tsp. minced fresh ginger
• Various spices: curry powder, cayenne pepper, dill, salt, pepper, turmeric, celery salt (there may be others, that’s all I can remember!)
• honey (optional)

And here’s what I did:

1. Cut squash in half (from stem to bottom), remove seeds/pulp from center, lay cut side down on microwave safe plate and microwave on high for about 10 minutes. This also could be done by laying face down on a baking sheet or foil and baking for about 30-40 minutes at, let’s say, 400 degrees. I chose the shorter route, as I wasn’t getting started making my dinner until about 8 o’clock last night…

2. Prick sweet potato with fork all over, lay on a paper towel on a plate and microwave for about 4-5 minutes, depending on size.

3. Saute onion, leeks and carrots with ginger and garlic in a bit of olive oil and/or butter (1-2 Tbsp. total, I’d say). Cook this down for a bit until everything is soft and browning a little.

4. While cooking down/browning, add spices — a bit of salt and pepper, about 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. curry powder, 1/4 tsp. dill and a dash or two each of the rest (I chose celery salt because I didn’t have any celery to contribute, cayenne for a bit of heat, turmeric for a little color and flavor)

5. Once squash and sweet potato is cool enough to be handled, squeeze/scrape, scoop out the pulp and mash it up as well as you can. This made about 1 c. of mashed sweet potatoes and 2 c. of mashed squash. Add to pot.

6. Add broth — I started with 3 c. and later put the fourth. You can kind of play it by ear depending on what consistency you think you want to end up with. Bring to a quick boil then drop down to a simmer.

7. Blend with an immersion blender, or cool a bit and blend in a blender in batches. I borrowed my sister’s immersion blender (I really need to get a new one!) and it took about 2 seconds and was really easy. There are some really affordable ones and you won’t believe how often you will wish you had one!). I added the fourth cup of broth around now, I think, because it seemed like it was a little thick and it hadn’t made very much.

8. Add coconut milk. I started with a mini can that is 5.5 ounces. This left the soup nice and thick — I actually loved the consistency. But it was a little spicier than I wanted. I started with about half of a 13.5 oz. can and it was great. I wish I just would have used the whole 13.5 oz. can to begin with (and maybe held back on the broth a little…)

9. If you’re not vegan, I thought it would be good to add a little honey for sweetness or to tone down the spice a little. It would also be a great opportunity for sprinkling in a little nutritional yeast if you’ve got some too (which would thicken it back up a little too).

I had this soup again tonight and it was really good! I’m happy with my little adventure and will definitely be “winging it” like this again. You should too.   🙂

Cooking Club: Sweet Potato Salad with Orange-Maple Dressing


We had an amazing cooking club at G’s last week with the theme of ORANGE and it was great! Everything we ate and drank (well, OK, until the glass of red wine I had there at the end), was orange, involved something orange or included actual oranges. Man, did the girls bring their A game! As usual, I guess… You can see several of the dishes previewed above, including lasagna, two types of carrot salads and a greek feta salad with orange. YUM.

I’ll start out with what I ended up making. I was going to go with savory stuffed sweet potatoes, but working late would have made that pretty tough, so I’ll have to do that some other time.  I had all these sweet potatoes, though, so I decided to set out looking for a sweet potato salad. I quickly found a vegan recipe that sounded interesting and delicious on Epicurious.com — and it was! I liked it, many of the ladies took leftovers and my squeeze polished off the rest for lunch the next day. So, I think those all count as glowing reviews! In the photo above, it’s sitting at about 1 o’clock if it’s not obvious what it is.

Dressing
• 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
• 2 Tbsp. orange juice (This was less than the juice of one orange)
• 2 Tbsp. Sherry wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar (I chose the latter)
• 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
• 2 tsp. minced peeled fresh ginger
• 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
• 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

Salad
• 6 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams), peeled, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (I had regular ol’ sweet potatoes, not red-skinned yams, and I only used about 4 large ones. I have no idea how many pounds
• 1 c. chopped green onions
• 1 c. chopped fresh parsley (I fell a little short on parsley, but it was still good!)
• 1 c. pecans, toasted, coarsely chopped (I’m only now realizing I forgot to toast them and I think it was just fine.)
• 1/2 c. golden raisins
• 1/2 c. brown raisins

1. Whisk dressing ingredients in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper. 

2. Steam cubed sweet potatoes in batches for about 10 minutes each (I did a little longer) until tender, but not mushy. Transfer each completed batch to large bowl and allow to cool to room temperature before proceeding.

3. Add onions, parsley, pecans and raisins and toss, then add dressing and toss again. Season with salt and pepper if you like. It can sit for a couple of hours at room temperature and is best served at room temperature.