Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Chocolate Pumpkin Loaf

Mmmmm. Chocolate Pumpkin Loaf with chocolate chips!

As mentioned in a previous post I've gone pumpkin-crazy and here's another recipe celebrating pumpkin goodness. I've been "reading" the cookbook Forks Over Knives by Del Sroufe. It includes desserts by Isa Chandra Moskowitz of Post Punk Kitchen. The recipe is on Isa's website and the only difference between her recipe and the one published in Forks Over Knives is the website recipe includes 2 tablespoons oil. I did not use any oil in this recipe and it was great!

I kept to the recipe and used my homemade pumpkin puree. I did not change out any flours or sugars this time around. Next time I'll make it with whole wheat pastry flour or a blend.

This loaf is delicious, moist, and not too sweet. I'm just going to give you the link to Isa's recipe and keep in mind that you can skip the oil. She has a lot of good commentary about making the recipe.

This Chocolate Pumpkin Loaf tastes as good as it looks.

Getting ready to dig in to a piece of Chocolate Pumpkin Loaf!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Homemade Pumpkin Puree

Fresh organic pumpkin.

It had to happen. Online it's pumpkin this, pumpkin that, everyone is going pumpkin crazy including myself. I'm making pumpkin muffins, pumpkin loaves, pumpkin lattes and now pumpkin puree.

It's pretty darn easy to make your own pumpkin puree. Then you are guaranteed it's fresh, if organic it will be pesticide free, and you won't need to worry about BPA from the can.

Directions for making your own pumpkin puree
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment paper. Wash your pumpkin(s). Slice off the top including the stem. Invert onto cutting board, flat side down. Slice in half. Scoop out seeds; a serving spoon works great. What you do with the seeds is your business. Place cut side down on baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour until easily pierced with fork.

This was baked for 60 minutes in 350 degree oven. See how nice and soft it is?

Let cool. To skin, just pull it off. It comes off very easy. Place the pulp in food processor to smooth it all out. You could probably use a blender. My puree was a bit watery so I drained it in cheesecloth overnight.

Here is my puree before letting it drain a bit.

The organic pie pumpkin I bought was just over 2 pounds. After baking I ended up with just under 2 cups. Then I decided I wanted to thicken it up. After I drained it, I ended up with just under 1 cup. I would definitely recommend letting it drain a bit. You don't want to ruin a recipe with puree that is too watery. Next time I'll bake 2 or 3 pumpkins.

This is what I made with my homemade pumpkin puree. Watch for the recipe in an upcoming post.

Chocolate Pumpkin Loaf studded with chocolate chips; recipe Forks Over Knives cookbook.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Mexican Baked Potato Soup with Potato Wedge Croutons

Spicy Mexican baked potato soup

I've been getting into baked potato soups because 1) there are delicious local potatoes available in the stores; 2) it's relatively quick to make if you pop the taters in the oven ahead of time; 3) I adore potatoes! Although I used a whole fresh jalapeno pepper in this, it wasn't hot, just pleasantly spicy. This soup includes chopped scallions, carrots, corn and of course, baked potatoes. It's relatively low fat because the potato is used as thickener instead of heavy creams or milk. I did not peel the potatoes. If the taters are well scrubbed and baked in foil they are quite lovely in the soup. More fiber too!

I used half of one of the baked potatoes to make the Potato Wedge Croutons for the garnish. If you'd like more croutons, bake an additional potato. Makes 2-3 servings.

Mexican Baked Potato Soup

2 medium russet potatoes, baked, roughly chopped
1-2 tsp avocado oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, minced
2 scallions, chopped
1 fresh green jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp turmeric
fresh pepper, salt to taste
1 TB low sodium Tamari
2 cups heated non-dairy milk (I used soy)
1 cup fresh or frozen corn
2 TB fresh parsley, chopped

To bake the potatoes, preheat oven to 375 degrees, scrub, lightly oil and seal in aluminum foil and bake for 60-75 minutes until very soft. Cut in half and let cool. Roughly chop.

Prepare and get the potato croutons (see below) baking while you make the soup.

Heat oil in medium saucepan. Add garlic, carrot, scallions, and jalapeno and saute for several minutes. Add spices, tamari and soy milk. Add potatoes and lightly mash to break up potatoes and thicken soup. Add corn and parsley and heat for about 5 more minutes until heated through. Ladle into bowl and garnish with potato croutons.

Baked Potato Croutons
Cut half of one of the baked potatoes in wedges. Place on baking sheet, lightly spritz with oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic, and paprika. Bake in oven heated to 425 degrees for about 15-20 until edges are starting to brown.

One year ago...
Cinnamon buns with vanilla maple icing. These were awesome!
Delicious homemade cinnamon buns with maple icing.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Perfect Vegan Brownie Part One: Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies with Hazelnut Brown Nectar Ale

Deeply chocolate, moist brownies, with hints of hazelnuts

It's surprising to me that I very rarely make brownies since I quit consuming eggs and dairy. My favorite recipe back in the "old days" was from an out-of-print McCall's Cookbook. The recipe used eggs, probably milk, butter, white flour and sugar. I liked it because it was quick and scratched that chocolate itch. But there's no way I'd make anything like that now. Many of the vegan brownie recipes I've come across either have tofu or black beans, neither of which holds great appeal. When I received Kathy Hester's recipe for Hazelnut Ale Brownies in my in box I just had to make it. It had all the right ingredients: whole wheat pastry flour, pumpkin, cocoa, and the most exciting ingredient of all  – Rogue's Hazelnut Brown Nectar Ale! A win-win situation: 1 cup of beer for the recipe and the rest for me! Did I mention it's a very tasty brown ale?

Try as I might, there's no way I can make a recipe without tweeking it. It just seemed to me it needed some sort of leavening, there was no soda or baking powder. Maybe the beer helped with that but I wasn't going to take a chance so I added soda and baking powder. There was an awful lot of sugar so I used half Sucanat and half organic sugar. The recipe also used olive oil which I switched with canola oil.

I'm not overly fond of nuts in my brownies so I just put nuts in half the batter. I roasted the hazelnuts and then finely ground them in my small blender. They were actually too finely ground, almost like a meal instead of small nut pieces. Maybe next time, I'll just roast the nuts, cool them, and then hand chop. These are moist (not gooey) brownies with a deep chocolate taste. I think they would be lovely with a drizzle of raspberry sauce.

This is a big batch of brownies, filling a 13x9 glass baking dish. Next time I might halve the recipe. I am also looking forward to trying it out with different beers. I have a bottle of Kassik's Chocolate Cherry Stout. I think it would be great in this brownie. Kassik's recommends serving the beer with chocolate desserts.

Here is the recipe with my substitutions and additions:

Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies with Hazelnut Brown Beer

Whisk 2 TB ground flax seed with 1/4 cup warm water in small container and set aside
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup cocoa
½ teaspoon salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cups Sucanat evaporated sugar cane juice
3/4 cups white organic evaporated sugar cane juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup Rogue Ale Hazelnut Brown Nectar Ale
1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, minced in food processor

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly spray a 13x9 baking pan with cooking oil.

Mix the sift dry ingredients in a large bowl.

In a smaller bowl mix the pumpkin and oil together, then add the sugar. Mix well and then add the flax mixture, vanilla, and beer.

Add the wet mixture to the dry and gently mix until combined. Spread about half into prepared baking dish. Fold nuts into remaining batter and then spread the rest into baking dish. Bake for about 30 minutes until it starts to crack on top and pull slightly away from sides. Cool, slice and enjoy!

Watch for more brownie recipes. I want to try out some of the healthier recipes incorporating different grains, tofu and even black beans!

One year ago...
I was making Chocolate Stout Cupcakes! They were pretty awesome and wonderful with a bit of stout beer.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Vanilla Pear Coffee Cake

 Even though you can't see them, there are delicious little nuggets of pear in this coffee cake.

I woke up this morning and there was snow on the ground. In September! I'm also fighting a cold so I felt the need for wintery, comfort food.

I also have the "I must bake today" feeling. First I wanted to make some brownies. Believe it or not, I've yet to make a vegan brownie recipe. But I was more in the mood for some homemade cinnamon rolls. While looking for the perfect cinnamon roll recipe, I came upon this recipe. Since I had two beautiful ripe pears, I decided to make the coffee cake.

This recipe is adapted from the cookbook Blissful Bites by Christy Morgan. I like her recipes because she uses whole grains and unrefined sugars. It's a bright colorful cookbook just like the recipes.The recipe is a "three-bowler" but worth it. It uses flours that may not be in your pantry: barley and brown rice flour. It's a nice change from whole wheat flour. The fat used is coconut oil which I greatly prefer instead of Earth Balance margarine.Whenever I make baked goods with Earth Balance margarine I don't care for the flavor. I find coconut oil more neutral and I did not detect any coconut flavor in this coffee cake. If you are concerned about a coconut flavor, be sure to buy the refined coconut oil.

All in all I enjoyed this coffee cake. It really didn't take all that long to prepare and it was soooo much better than anything you could buy in the grocery store!

Topping Ingredients
3/4 cup barley flour
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
2 TB coconut oil, melted
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup chopped pear

Cake Ingredients
1 cup barley flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 TB flax meal
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 TB coconut oil, melted
3/4 cup coconut palm sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 TB applesauce
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup soy milk or any other non-dairy milk
2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Topping: Mix all the ingredients together except for the pear. Mix well and then add the pear and set aside.

Cake Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly oil 8x8 pan. Add the dry ingredients in a medium size bowl, mix, and set aside. Whisk together coconut oil and sugar. Add the applesauce, vanilla and milk. Mix again. Add wet to dry and mix until combined. Spread in pan. Add the topping mix and press into batter. Bake for 50-60 minutes until toothpick comes clean.

One year ago...
Cinnamon Buns with Maple Vanilla Icing. These were very tasty and even made with Earth Balance margarine which I won't do again. The next time I make this recipe I will use some coconut oil instead of the Earth Balance margarine!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Broccoli Mushroom Stir Fry with Tempeh

 You can see the soybeans in the squares of tempeh

I've never been on the tempeh bandwagon. Perhaps I've avoided it because it's close to being a meat analogue which is not in my diet. I've never ever missed eating meat and some of the mimic-meats gross me out because they are so very meat-like. But I do like tofu which is also made from soybeans. Tempeh is fermented soybeans, pressed into a firm cake-like square. It's important to simmer the tempeh in water for 30 minutes to get rid of the bitter taste.

I figured it was time to try it out and what better way than in a stir fry? I am happy to report that after my initial reservation I really enjoyed it! The leftovers were great and I enjoyed every last morsel. I'll be trying out more tempeh recipes in the near future.

This stir fry is excellent over quinoa.

8 oz. package of tempeh
1-2 tsp avocado or olive oil
2 tsp cornstarch
salt & pepper to taste
1-2 tsp avocado or olive oil
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1/2 red bell pepper sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 tsp fresh ginger
2-3 cups of finely chopped broccoli, steamed until barely tender
3 TB soy sauce
2 TB filtered water
1 TB mirin
1/2 tsp ume plum vinegar
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

In medium saucepan simmer tempeh in water for 30 minutes. While tempeh is simmering, steam broccoli until barely tender, drain, and run cold water over to keep green color and stop cooking.

When tempeh has simmered for 30 minutes, drain, cool and cut into 1/2 inch squares. Toss in cornstarch, salt and pepper. Heat oil in medium pan and saute until lightly browned. Set aside.

In wok, heat oil and saute mushrooms and bell pepper until mushrooms release moisture. Add garlic and ginger and stir fry for a minute or so. Add broccoli, tempeh, and rest of seasoning ingredients. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Stir fry until thoroughly heated through and serve over quinoa or brown rice.

Tempeh in its "raw" state.

One year ago Spicy Kale Chips...

Two years ago Warm German Potato Salad...perfect for your Octoberfest celebration!