Sunday, October 30, 2011

Homemade Tahini

I used up the rest of my tahini last week and didn't put it on my grocery list because I had another jar in the cupboard. Or so I thought. As I was gathering up the ingredients to make my weekly batch of hummus on Sunday, I discovered that I did NOT have any tahini in the cupboard. No worries, I have a Vitamix and have always wanted to use it to make tahini. I went to the Vitamix Recipe Book and it listed 5 cups of sesame seeds to make tahini. When I went to the freezer to get out the sesame seeds, I discovered I had about 3 tablespoons sesame seeds. Okay, I'll just use my "personal blender" since it's such a small quantity of seeds. The blender has a really small container for grinding seeds and it worked perfectly. I was so happy and as I tasted the tahini butter I realized the seeds had gone rancid! Oh well. I ended up using a tablespoon of cashew butter that I had in the refrigerator instead of the tahini. And I'm going shopping tonight!

Homemade Tahini
raw sesame seeds
salt, to taste

Place in size appropriate container and blend until it turns to butter. Add a bit of salt, blend, taste and adjust if necessary. Refrigerate.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cinnamon Buns with Vanilla Maple Icing

These are so much better than store bought cinnamon buns. There's even whole wheat flour in them and just a bit of sugar in the dough. Most of the time spent making them is just waiting for them to rise – really! I mixed the dough in my KitchenAid mixer and only did a little hand-kneading because I want to get my hands in the action. After the dough was kneaded and tucked away in a covered bowl I went out on errands and when I got back home it was ready to roll out, butter and sprinkle with goodies. Next I rolled it up, cut into pieces, and let rise again for about 45 minutes. Then I baked it and viola! Homemade cinnamon buns. Smelled wonderful too. Makes 12-14 cinnamon buns.

Recipe inspired by the Sticky Maple Pecan Cinnamon Rolls in the just released book Spork-Fed from the sisters of Spork Foods. These two gals are very entertaining (and enterprising!) and give cooking lessons online and in person.

2-1/4 tsp yeast
3 TB warm water
1 cup soy milk
2 TB Earth Balance margarine
2 C unbleached all-purpose flour
1 C whole wheat pastry flour
1 TB + 1 tsp vital wheat gluten flour
1 TB evaporated cane sugar (Sucanat)
1/2 tsp sea salt

2 TB Earth Balance margarine, softened
1/4 C brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg

1 TB melted Earth Balance to brush on top of buns before baking.

In small bowl, combine yeast and warm water and let sit for about 10 minutes until yeast gets a little bubbly.

In bowl of stand mixer or large non-reactive bowl, combine flours, sugar and salt. Mix until combined.

Gently warm soy milk and margarine until margarine is melted. Do not let soy milk get too hot or you may kill the yeast.

Add soy milk and yeast to flours and mix. If you're using a stand mixer, turn up to "kneading" speed and knead for about 3 minutes until smooth and elastic. If kneading by hand, knead for 7-10 minutes. Place in oiled glass or stoneware bowl. Rub some of the oil on dough and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit until doubled for about 90 minutes.

Punch dough down, knead a few times and roll out into a rectangle. Spread with softened butter. Mix filling ingredients in small bowl and then sprinkle on top of dough. Use as much or as little as you like. I had some left over.

Roll up so you have a long log. Cut into 2 inch segments. Place on cookie sheet about 1/2 inches apart. You can oil the cookie sheet, use parchment paper or a Silpat liner. I recently discovered Silpat liners and they are very cool. It's a non-stick silicone liner that can be reused.

Dough has risen second time, ready for oven after being brushed with melted margarine.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Brush melted butter on top of buns, cover with towel or plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 30-45 minutes. Bake for 20-30 minutes until lightly browned. Your nose will tell you when they're done but if you're not sure insert a temperature probe into a middle bun and it should register around 200 degrees when fully baked. Let cool and frost or drizzle with Vanilla Maple Icing.

Vanilla Maple Icing
3/4 powdered sugar
1 TB soy milk
1 tsp pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

Sift powdered sugar into small bowl and add rest of ingredients. Mix until no lumps remain and icing is desired consistency. Drizzle or frost buns. Enjoy!

Fresh out of the oven, ready for drizzle of Vanilla Maple Icing!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Basic Vanilla Cupcakes

This is actually a cake recipe from Sweet and Natural – More than 120 Naturally Sweet and Dairy-Free Desserts by Meredith McCarty. I simply must have my sweets and this makes me feel a little bit better about it. Today I'm just going to post the recipe. I will be reviewing the book at a later date because I feel this is worthy cookbook. This recipe had a dozen variations and I chose to make a lower fat version. The cake is just a bit heavy but moist, delicious and not too sweet. Everybody loves these cupcakes and I encourage you to try them out with your favorite frosting. I ended up with 21(!) cupcakes. Recipe reprinted with permission from Meredith McCarty. You can find her at

1-1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1-1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1-1/2 TB aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup canola oil*
1 cup pure maple syrup
1-1/2 cups soy milk
1 TB vanilla
*alternate lower fat ingredients
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup applesauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients into large bowl, whisk to mix. Mix wet ingredients into smaller bowl, mix. Add wet ingredients into dry and whisk until batter is smooth with no lumps remaining. Do not overmix. I used a mixer until all lumps were gone. Scoop into muffin pan lined with cupcake liners. Bake for 20 minutes until tester comes out clean. Take out of muffin pan and cool on wire rack.

I like to frost these with Orange Icing.

Orange Icing
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp orange zest
2 TB fresh orange juice

Mix until no lumps remain. Add additional juice if frosting is too thick. When cupcakes are cool, thinly frost.

Coming up next: Cinnamon Buns with Vanilla-Maple Icing!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes

These are mighty tasty cupcakes. They do not taste like beer, it just adds to the moistness. They are delicious to eat with the leftover stout as your beverage. This recipe has a crumb crust so you don't have to frost it. Bake it and it is done! This is a variation of the recipe in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. I truly do recommend this book. Every recipe I've made from it has been delicious! Makes 12 cupcakes.

1/4 C all purpose flour
1/4 C cocoa powder
1/4 cup sugar
2 TB canola oil

3/4 C soy milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 C plus 2 TB all purpose flour
1/2 C whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 C cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 C stout beer
3/4 C sugar
1/3 C canola coil
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place liners in muffin tin. To make topping, mix dry ingredients until well blended. Add oil and mix until it's clumped in pea size balls. Set aside.

In large bowl, add milk and vinegar. Mix and set aside. In medium size bowl, add flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Add the rest of wet ingredients including sugar into the large bowl and mix until frothy. Add dry ingredients in two passes. Mix for a couple of minutes with a hand mixer. Scoop batter into liners. Sprinkle topping on top of each cupcake, taking care that it doesn't sink into batter. Bake for about 22 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool on rack.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Spicy Kale Chips

If you love spicy and love chips you gotta try this recipe. Kale is super good for you and this recipe uses minimal fat and is baked – not fried. Just be careful because they are addictive!

1 bunch of kale
1-1/2 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4-1/2 tsp chili blend
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp nutritional yeast (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut stems out of kale leaves and save for your compost pile. Tear into pieces and wash well in salad spinner. Spin until dry. Place large bowl. Pat with paper towel if any moisture remains. Sprinkle oil and spices over leaves and mix well. Using your hands is the most efficient way. Spread onto two cookie sheets and bake for 10 minutes. If dry and crisp take out of oven. If they are still a bit damp, stir bake for another couple minutes. Let cool and enjoy!