Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Whoa, we are more than halfway through MoFo and this is only the 3rd time I have cooked with pumpkin this month? I need to step up my game, yo!

Remember when I told you yesterday that I baked cupcakes for a coworkers birthday? Well, they came out fucking awesome. I won't lie though, I was shitting bricks on my way into work today with them. I know I am a very capable baker but I haven't brought in baked goods to share with my office in the whole 9 months I have been here. Like I mentioned, I am super lucky to have another vegan and two vegetarians in the office so we always have each others backs. Everyone else is really veg-friendly(though the occasional teasing occurs, but its all in good nature) but I was nervous about how the omnis would react to a vegan cream cheese frosting. The nervousness started last night while I was making the frosting. I eat Trader Joe's "This is not a tub of cream cheese" with my bagels but I've never used it for frosting, I usually stick with Tofutti or Galaxy(the best of the best). I wasn't loving how it was coming out so I added a bunch more vanilla and sugar then I tossed in some cinnamon. After fussing with it for awhile, I was pleased with the results. Almost. At this point, it was a perfectly spreadable frosting but not thick enough that it would hold up to piping it. I was exhausted so I decided to just spread it on and be done with it. The frosting still tastes awesome but isn't as pretty as I would have like. Oh well.

I had my guy taste test the cupcakes the night before because I know he will tell me what he really thinks. He loves vegan cream cheese but I don't think I told him there was any in it until after. I was also worried about them having too much cinnamon, my tastebuds were starting to go a little numb from all the frosting I had to try. His reaction was that the frosting was awesome and went perfectly with the cupcake.

The reaction through the office was the same as well. I'm definitely going to bake more for work now! I love vegan baking success!

The recipe I used is the one I got from Vegan Good Eats, which originally came from Jody of jodycakes. Here is the recipe below, without my frosting modifications (those were done to taste without measuring)

Pumpkin Spice Vegan Cupcakes
  • 1/4 cup soy milk
  • 1 teaspoon. vinegar, preferably apple cider
  • 1 cup all purpose flour, preferably unbleached
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup each vegan sugar and packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon each ginger, nutmeg and salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cardamom (optional)
  • Dash of ground cloves and allspice
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line 12 count muffin tin with cupcake papers.
  2. In large measuring cup, combine milk & vinegar to create soy “buttermilk. Allow to sit and curdle while preparing all the other ingredients.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine sugars and whisk until smooth. Sift together all additional dry ingredients, including the spices and salt into the sugars. Whisk to combine.
  4. In small bowl, stir together pumpkin, applesauce, oil and vanilla.
  5. Pour wet ingredients into dry, adding soy “buttermilk” last. Combine all ingredients until smooth and pour into the prepared pan, filling cups about halfway.
  6. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until the tops spring back to a light touch.

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 6 tablespoons Vegan Cream Cheese, such as Tofutti brand
  • 2 tablespoons Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
  • 2-4 tablespoons soy milk (as needed)
Cream together the cream cheese and butter and add vanilla. Add the sugar one cup at a time. If frosting is too thick, you may slowly add soy milk to loosen up to reach the desired consistency.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Spike's Junkyard Dogs - Boston

This MoFo post is brought to youo courtesy of my lunch today. At my company, when anyone has a birthday, the owner buys us all lunch at the place of the birthday person's choosing. I work in a very small office and am very fortunate to have another vegan and two vegetarians working here. Everyone else is also very veg-friendly. Today we celebrated a co-workers birthday and she chose Spike's Junkyard Dogs, a favorite of ours here in the office.

Here in Boston, we are lucky enough to have 3 Spike's at our disposal, all open until at least midnight (great for those late night adventurers). While they specialize in non-vegan hot dogs, they offer veggie dogs as a no-charge substitute for any dog on the menu, which is friggen huge!!!! The online menu does not do the restaurant justice, they have a full list in-store and on Foodler, where I order most of my dogs unless I am out and about in the city and can stop into one.

With so many topping options it can get a little overwhelming trying to figure out which to choose. While I am not extremely adventurous when it comes to food, I do like to try new and different things regularly and none of their toppings are too over the top, I can't bring myself to switch it up. I always get the same exact thing, call me a veggie dog purist if you want but I love the Irish Setter (ketchup and sauerkraut) with added house mustard and relish. In my opinion, that is a perfect veggie dog. They also happen to use my favorite brand of veggie dog, Lightlife!! Paired with a side of Poodle Fries (curly fries), you've got yourself a fantastic lunch! Especially when the boss is paying for it!

Also, in honor of said coworkers birthday, I was slaved away in the kitchen all night last night making homemade Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting! There will be a post on those to follow!

Quick MoFo Roundup and SPECULOOS!

If I could post about everything I've starred in Google Reader, have emailed myself, or bookmarked so far in MoFo, we'd be here for days. I haven't been commenting on as many blogs as I'd like to either so I thought I'd throw together a quick post about some of the things I am dying to try.

One of the very first things that really caught the attention of my stomach was the Quinoa Edamame Salad over at Eating Beautiful. I am obsessed with the Warm Chickpea Artichoke and Quinoa Salad that I make so this gorgeous salad is right up my alley and I can't wait to give it a try!

If I had to pick one thing to list as my favorite thing about fall, without a doubt it's pumpkin! Especially if it is in baked goods! One of these Sundays I am going to get up early enough to make these Vegan Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls from Hell Yeah It's Vegan! for breakfast. If I close my eyes and try really hard, I can almost smell them! While you are there, check out the Warm Cabbage Salad that was posted yesterday. It looks fantastic!

The Pumpkin Pie Smoothie over at Veggie Fixation has me craving a smoothie in the worst way. Such a quick way to get your pumpkin fix!

I have never cooked with fresh pumpkin before, I think I've always been a little intimidated by it. Sure, I'll carve the shit out of a jack-o-lantern and roast up the seeds, but that's as close as I've come to cooking with fresh pumpkin in any way. It is definitely something that has been on my list of things to do and I think this recipe for Roasted Sugar Pumpkin & Collard Crustless Quiche from Manifest Vegan is going to be the one to get me to do it! Sugar pumpkins are small enough that I won't feel like a huge failure if I fuck it up, but this recipe also seems straight forward enough that I wont.

Oh, and in other news, my bf scored some Speculoos cookies at the dollar store! He bought them thinking they were biscotti but when I realized and explained with ridiculous enthusiam (more than one should have at 7 am, unless of course you've just discovered a package of biscoff in your bfs kitchen) what he had actually bought, I think he might have thought I was nuts. Until he tried them. I've gotta go to the dollar store asap and clear out their stock.

Also, thanks to a ppk peep, I learned the why they are called Biscoff here in the good ole USA. When you combine the words 'biscuit' and 'coffee' that is what you get and because these are clearly "Europe's favorite cookie with coffee" it only makes sense.

Monday, October 15, 2012

BBQ Chik'n Sammies with Coleslaw and Yuca Patties

MoFo Post #10!!! Halfway there! (Whoooaaaaa, livin' on a prayer) I'm sorry, I had to. 

Fun Fact: Today I learned that when talking about the food, it's spelled Yuca with one c. Yucca with two c's is actually a plant or something. I definitely spelled it with two c's last night. Meh.

Most of the meals I make involve lots of chopping, slicing, dicing, stirring, cooking, etc. I lik hands on meals that I have to tend to from start to finish. It is part of the experience for me, when I put a lot of time, energy and love into something and it comes out delicious, I am happy with myself. Even when I make quick and easy meals for lazy nights, the love is still always there. I can't help it,cooking makes me happy.

I started out today with no thoughts or plans for dinner until a coworker and I started talking about how awesome avocados are and all the things we like to and want to do with them. We spent quite a while going back and forth, sending links to recipes and photos. After that I I had avocado on the brain so when I went over to Trader Joe's on my break I planned on picking one up for a snack and hopefully finding some inspiration for dinner.

As I was wandering around with my single avocado in hand I saw the Chicken-Less Pulled Chicken in BBQ Sauce. I thought it would be tasty on a sub or hamburger roll. When I think of bbq sammies, I instantly think of the toppings I can put on them. And coleslaw. My avocado was no longer going to be used as a snack, I was putting that little fucker on a sandwich. Once that was settled, my mind went immediately to coleslaw and how long it had been since I had made any. Remembering I had a jar of Veganaise in the bfs fridge, I quickly sought out cabbage. Being lazy thought I bought a bag of already shredded cabbage and a bag of carrot shreds. I never ever do that, I always try to grate, shred, whatever else my own vegetables. Again, part of the experience for me.

The chicken had a really meaty texture thought the sauce was a little sweeter and more tomatoey(it's a word now) than I prefer but overall, I loved it and piled on a burger bun with sliced pickle, tomato and avocado, it was fantastic.

I also had some leftover mashed yuca from dinner last night and thought it would be fun to form it into little patties and bake them up. I rolled them into little balls in my hands, flattened them out and put them on a baking sheet in the oven at 375 for about 15 minutes. When I went to check on them they weren't really crisping up on the outside and didn't want to let me flip them without falling apart. Instead of giving up, I jacked the heat up to 500 and gave them some more time. 7 or so minutes later they were starting to get nice and golden and I was able to flip them. I baked them for another 10 or so minutes and ended up with something more perfect than the mashed yuca they previously were. They had nice golden tops and bottoms and the insides were so creamy. These would be fantastic alongside some tofu scramble and some veggie bacon for brunch.

From start to finish this meal was so unbelievably easy and delicious and even though I took more shortcuts than I normally would, I was very pleased with myself for throwing together such an awesome meal.

Sorry for the craptastic photos. I didn't have the energy or patience to fuss with lighting or anything tonight.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Chili Lime Tofu, Mango BBQ Beans and Mashed Yucca

So I took a little under a week off from MoFo but I'm back. Life was getting a little hectic and expensive so the last real meal (and by real, I mean anything anybody may want to read about) I made was the Pumpkin Baked Ziti. Normally I do a lot of cooking on the weekends but this weekend I was feeling super lazy and I also have been at the bfs with all 3 dogs for a few days so cooking a big meal wasn't at the top of my list.

Speaking of the dogs, we took them to the park today. Before I get to the food, take a look at my 3 adorable vegan pups!

Gizmo - My little princess

Daine - The love of my life

Hero - She is a Dog Meat Trade Rescue and my little mountain goat

Since I wasn't super motivated to put energy into cooking but still wanted a good home cooked meal I wanted to make something super low maintenance but still healthy. My copy of Appetite for Reduction was laying around my guys kitchen so I turned to that for inspiration. I decided on Chili Lime Tofu, Cilantro Lime Yuca, Mango BBQ Beans and some wilted spinach.

When I got to the market I was super distracted so when buying the tofu, instead of grabbing a block of firm tofu I accidentally grabbed the pre-cubed kind. I didn't realize it until the beans had already been cooking for a  bit so I didn't have time to go back. I had to make it work. Initially, before I realized I had bought tiny cubes of tofu, I was intending on a 100% Latin American inspired meal but I modified things a bit and even though the tofu didn't have all Latin flavor, because I used some soy sauce, it was still fuckin' awesome and worked really well with everything else.

When I decided to make the Mango BBQ Beans, I wasn't sure how I'd feel about them. I don't like mango. At all. My guys loves it so I decided to make them. I used to love mango though, in my early 20s (and pre-vegan days)I would make a Thai style mango sauce all the time to serve over non-vegan proteins. Even after I went vegetarian, and then vegan, I would still make the same sauce and serve it with tofu or fake chicken and I still loved it. I don't know what happened, the last year or two, my tastebuds have changed I guess. I did end up loving these beans though, probably because the mango wasn't the main taste in the dish. The sweetness of the fruit complimented what would have otherwise been a really tangy sauce

The yucca, oh the yucca, I love this starchy little tuber so so much. I have only ever had yucca fries with a cilantro chutney dipping sauce, but I could eat my weight in that shit. I already knew the cilantro in the recipe would be a good match but I wasn't sure how I felt about the lime so I made some changes. I did use lime, just a tiny bit though and added a little Earth Balance and a tablespoon or two of Galaxy Vegan Cream Cheese. I did cheat though, I initially had fresh yucca in my cart but once I hit the frozen section and saw a bag of it already peeled, I switched them out.

For the tofu, since I ended up with tiny cubes of tofu, I clearly couldn't press it or dry fry it like I wanted so I decided, after draining them, to toss them in a little bit of chili powder and bake them on a sheet for about 15 minutes to get some of the moisture out. Once they were done I tossed them in a pan with the sauce and cooked it until it was more like a glaze.

When I cook for my guy, I always give him his plate first so he can start eating while I am plating and photographing mine. After about 2 bites, he was hollering from the living room how fantastic it was! Success? Yes! I agree with him, I was super proud of myself when I finally sat down to eat mine. AFR has not let me down yet.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Pumpkin Baked Baked Ziti with Sage Bread Crumb Topping and Pumpkin Cream Sauce

8th day of MoFo, 8th post! Fuck yea!

Remember when I made Pumpkin Ravioli last week and had a bunch of leftover cashew ricotta? The Pumpkin Baked Ziti from Veganomicon was the perfect recipe to use it all up. I really only used the recipe as a guideline since my cashew ricotta already had seasoning and pumpkin in it. The crunch sage breadcrumb topping was fantastic. I didn't make homemade breadrumbs, instead I used panko to give a really crunchy contrast to the creamy ricotta filling. The walnuts in the recipe really step up your standard bread crumb topping too, they will find their way into any recipe I make that calls for a crumb topping in the future.

I did a lot of googling today to try and come up with some sort of sauce to serve over it and was kind of at a loss. After I tossed the ziti in the oven I decided to try an experiment. I put about a half cup of soy cream and half a can of pumpkin puree into a sauce pan and whisked them together, added some soy butter and spices and then let it barely simmer for about 10 minutes. The result was a perfectly creamy pumpkin sauce. Some people might think I'm weird for serving pumpkin sauce over pumpkin baked ziti, but I'm telling you, this shit is cray. It made me wonder why I don't do cream sauces more often, the possibilities are endless. Pureed greens, tomato, basil, sage, really anything you could think of would probably translate really well into the soy cream/butter base. You can make them as thick or as thin as you want and serve them over pretty much anything. Fall 2012 will be the season of the cream sauce!  Probably Winter 2012 too.

For a side I sauteed about 4 cloves of minced garlic in a little bit of olive oil and then dumped in a bag of baby spinach to wilt. This meal was so easy to pull together, especially because of the ricotta I already had made and with all the inactive cooking time while the dish baked I had time to clean up the kitchen and tweak the sauce. I really really suggest you make this dish if you love pumpkin as much as I do.

I'm not normally one for posting recipes that aren't either entirely mine or that I haven't adapted but because I made some changes, I will post it here.

Pumpkin Baked Ziti with Sage Bread Crumb Topping and Pumpkin Cream Sauce
(Inspired by and adapted from Veganomicon)

For the Baked Ziti: 
  • 2 cups of Pumpkin Cashew Ricotta (recipe below)
  • 3/4 lb of ziti or penne
  • 1 onion thinly sliced
  • 3 tblspns olive oil
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  1. Preheat to 375 and lightly grease a casserole dish. 
  2. Prepare pasta according to package directions. 
  3. While pasta is cooking heat the oil in a pan and add onions. Cook on med-low heat until caramelized, about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Place the ricotta mix into a large bowl, add caramelized onions, bread crumbs and veggie broth. Mix until well combined. Taste and add more spices as you like. 
  5. Pour pasta mix into casserole dish and cover with Sage Bread Crumb Topping (recipe below)
  6. Bake 35 minutes. 

 Pumpkin Cashew Ricotta
  • 1 cup raw cashew pieces
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tblspns olive oil
  • 1 head roasted garlic
  • 1 lb firm tofu, drained
  • 2 tblspns sage
  • 2 tspns salt
  • 1/2 tspn nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 can pumpkin puree
  1. In food processor add cashews, lemon, oil and garlic. Pulse until it is a paste. 
  2. Crumble in the tofu and process until it starts to resemble ricotta
  3. Add spices and pulse until combined. 

Bread Crumb Topping
  • 2 1/2 panko bread crumbs
  • 2/3 cup walnut pieces - chopped in food processor til they look like coarse crumbs
  • 1/2 cup soy butter
  • 1 tblspn dried sage
  • salt and fresh ground pepper
  1. In a skillet melt the butter and add all ingredients. Stir until everything is mixed and coated. 

Pumpkin Cream Sauce

  • 1/2 cup soy cream
  • 1/2 can of pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup soy butter
  • 1 tblspn garlic powder
  • 1 tblspn sage
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Combine all ingredients and bring to a low simmer while constantly stirring. Cook until butter is melted and desired consistency and taste is achieved. 

(Tiny portion is due to me snacking while cooking and not being as hungry)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Santa Fe Salad-MoFo Post 7!

Just a quick post tonight since I'm helping out at the restaurant I won't be cooking for myself. My pal in the kitchen made me my favorite salad, the one I just to eat several times a week when I still worked here. The Santa Fe Salad on the menu is romaine, corn, black beans, olives and tomato tossed in house dressing, topped with crushed tortilla chips. When he makes it for me he adds grilled soy chicken and avocado. I could eat this salad pretty much everyday. Forever.