Saturday, August 31, 2013

Time For A Coffee Cake Break

Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread

This is another recipe that I think originated with my brother, but to be honest, we've been making it for so long in our family that I'm not really sure where it's roots are. But it is very, very tasty. Soft, and cakey on the inside with ribbons of cinnamon sugar goodness, and just the right amount of  cinnamon crunch on top. It's fairly simple to throw together, and is best eaten within two days of being made. Eat it simply sliced, with a hot cup of tea or coffee. I have very fond memories of making this bread in the little shared kitchen of my first college apartment (one of those big late 19th century houses, that had been divided up into apartments - five unites on the first floor, and four on the second - each floor sharing a kitchen, laundry, etc.). The smell would fill the house, and slowly but surely my housemates would creep out of their rooms, and we would sit around the the kitchen table, eating cinnamon bread and getting to know one another. It made a great ice breaker.

This is also a good recipe to take to brunch, a breakfast meeting, or just when visiting a friend.

Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread

  • 1 cup almond milk (or non-dairy milk of choice)
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup Earth Balance, or you could try using coconut oil (or 2 TBS EB + 2 TBS apple sauce, mashed banana or canned pumpkin)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 flax egg (1 TBS ground flax seeds + 3 TBS warm water mixed together) or EnerG Egg Substitute to equal one egg
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, or unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt

Cinnamon Sprinkle
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 TBS ground cinnamon

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly oil a 9”x5” loaf pan, and set aside.

Prepare the flax egg or EnerG (the box tells you how) in a large bowl, and set aside for a minute as you prepare your “buttermilk.”

In a glass measuring cup, mix the almond milk and the apple cider vinegar, and whisk lightly with a fork. Set aside to curdle, while you finish preparing the rest of your ingredients. Weird, I know - but it does amazing things for vegan baked goods!

Add the Earth Balance and sugar to the flax egg and beat together until well mixed. Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together with a fork or small whisk to break up any lumps.

Now, begin to add the flour to the oil and sugar mixture, alternately with the buttermilk, about 1/3 at a time, until everything’s used up, and you have a nice batter.

In a small bowl mix together the cinnamon and sugar with a fork. Or your hands.

Cinnamon Sugar

Pour 1/3 of the batter into the loaf pan, and sprinkle 1/3 of the sugar mixture on top. Repeat this layering twice, so that you end with sugar sprinkles. 

Bake for about 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan to a wire cooling wrack and allow to cool completely. Slice, serve, and enjoy! 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Simple Cashew Cream

Cashew Cream

So this is really simple and super versatile. It makes the base for so many wonderful things - from creamy scalloped potatoes to a lovely salad dressing or vegan mayonnaise base. And it adapts well to both sweet and savory flavors. So many options, one simple ingredient: raw cashews. When cashews soak, they soften and blend into a thick and luscious cream.

I decided to just post the recipe for this here, so that I don't have to stick it at the bottom of every recipe I make that calls for it. Now I can just add a link :)

Simple Cashew Cream

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 3/4 cup water (plus additional water for soaking)

In a small bowl, place the raw cashews and cover with boiling water fresh from the kettle. You don't have to use hot water, room temperature water works just as well, however I find that hot water does yield creamier results.  Whatever your water temperature, cover the cashews with a small plate, and allow to sit over night on the counter. The next day, drain the cashews.

 Dry raw cashews (top right), cashews that have soaked for 24 hours (top left), soaked cashew vs. dry cashew (bottom)

Place in a blender or food processor, add the 3/4 cup of water and blend until thick and creamy. Place in an air tight container, and refrigerate until ready to use. This will keep in the fridge for about 4-5 days.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Crispy Almond Crusted Tofu Cutlets

Almond Crusted Tofu Cutlets

Gluten Free

Indulge me.

A few years ago I was an intern in the glorious city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. And in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Andrew (my then boyfriend now husband) and I spent a glorious year living in a one room efficiency apartment. I say this with no sarcasm. That one little room was heaven. It was cozy, and perfect, and we loved it.This tiny little efficiency had a tiny little kitchen in which I, of course, loved to cook. There was a fabulous farmers market on Saturday mornings that I always walked through on my way to work (yes, in the theatre Saturday is our Friday). And that fall I was obsessed with one thing: Butternut Squash. I'm amazed I didn't turn orange from all of the beta carotene I was ingesting. Anyway, that fall was particularly good to the local butternut squash crop, and at one point I had at least ten of the little circus peanut looking things on top of the fridge in that tiny kitchen. So when I say obsessed, I mean it.

Now, I could absolutely eat butternut squash on it's own as a meal any night of the week, and did. Frequently. However, as most of my favorite butternut squash recipes are side dishes, I was also constantly trying to find new main course recipes that would go with my plethora of of delicious squash dishes. Of all of the recipes that we went through, a recipe I found on for Tofu Cutlets quickly became a favorite. Andrew and I would set up our little assembly line on the 16" of counter space we had, dredge, batter and bake these up several times a month. That recipe is the inspiration for my interpretation of it, and I highly recommend giving the original recipe a go!

Now about this recipe.

One of my very dear friends who is also vegan, has also recently discovered that she is gluten intolerant. She has been inspiring me to come up with gluten free alternatives for many of my favorite recipes, because I like her and want to cook her dinner :) So last night, I was thinking about this cutlet recipe, which I hadn't made in quite a while, and thinking "I should see if I can make this gluten free..." I dug around the kitchen, until I spotted my jar of almond flour, and a light went off. Almond crusted tofu cutlets! Taking my inspiration from the tofu cutlet recipe we made in Milwaukee, I came up with a gluten free, baked and damn tasty alternative. And I must say, I like this version even better. As the nuts bake they release their oils and create a very satisfying crunch while providing a richness that you just don't get form plain old flour. Nutritional yeast gives even more depth of flavor and a very satisfying flake. I highly recommend making these along side my recipe for scalloped potatoes and some simple sauteed greens for a highly satisfying meal.


Almond Crusted Tofu Cutlets

Gluten Free

  • 1 lbs extra firm tofu, cut into ¼” slices
  • 1/3 cup almond flour
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • ¼ tsp paprika (optional)
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • (or, 1 tsp Italian seasoning or Mrs. Dash)

Wet Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk or water
  • 1 TBS whole grain or Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp corn starch
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder (optional – can you tell that I REALLY love garlic?)

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.

Lightly oil a sheet pan, and set aside. You could also use parchment paper if you’re into that : )

In a pie plate, or large plate, combine the dry ingredients and mix them together with your fingers.

Almond flour breading close up.

In a second pie plate, or wide bowl, whisk together to wet ingredients.

Now, begin your breading process.

I like to set up an assembly line – wet, dry, sheet pan. It helps if you have a friend. I like to place two tofu cutlets in the wet mixture, sort of press them down so that they absorb a bit of the liquid, flip over and lightly press again. Pick them up and allow the excess liquid to drip off before placing in the dry mixture (you don’t want your breading to get too goopy), and again lightly press down into the breading, then flipping and repeating on the other side. Place breaded tofu cutlets on the sheet pan side by side about ½” apart (depending on the size of your pan), and continue until you run out of tofu.

Breaded cutlets before going into the oven
Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven, flip over and bake for another 15 minutes until crispy and golden. Remove from the oven and serve!

Crispy and perfect after a half hour of high heat baking.

With scalloped potatoes and sauteed kale and onions. Mmmmm...

Monday, August 19, 2013

Comforting Creamy Potatoes To Fend Off The Impending Stresses of Graduate School.

 Creamy Scalloped Potatoes with Roasted Garlic Cashew Cream

Gluten and Soy Free

The past few days I've been craving scalloped potatoes. The kind we used to have when I was little (pre-vegan), that came out of a box with those dried little discs that magically became potatoes. I loved the soft, creamy cheesy goodness, and for some reason I've been craving that same comforting feeling recently. It may be the impending school year, with all of the hustle, the meetings, the long nights and the little time I'll actually be able to spend in the kitchen once it all begins again. Yep. That's probably it. Anyway, I decided to come up with a vegan version, utilizing one of my favorite vegan power foods - the raw cashew! It makes phenomenal raw cheesecakes and deserts, and luxurious vegan cream sauces and cheeses, all while packing a powerhouse of healthy nutrients and protein. I love it. And what better ingredient to help make a healthy vegan version of a a heavy cream and cheese laden classic like scalloped potatoes? To amp up the flavor I added a few cloves of sweet and mellow roasted garlic to the cream sauce. Added to that we have nutritional yeast, Dijon mustard, paprika and a hint of nutmeg just to tie everything together.

I originally tried this recipe with Yukon Golds, and it was really good, but not quite what I had hoped it would be. The next time I tried it, I used Russets, and OMG what a difference! They were perfection, absolute perfection. Couldn't stop eating them. So good. All potatoes are not created equal. At least, all potatoes are wonderful and beautiful in their own unique and individual ways, but Russets were made for this recipe. I think red potatoes would also be quite nice, but Yukons were just to hearty. The Russets just melt in your mouth. To make these even fancier, you could totally add some fresh chives, thyme, or even rosemary to the cream sauce. I just didn't have any on hand last night. I served this with brown rice and sauteed lemony garlic kale, but it would be a great side dish to a whole range of main dishes. I hope you enjoy it!

Scalloped Potatoes with Roasted Garlic Cashew Cream

  • 1 recipe roasted garlic cashew cream (recipe follows)
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, or water
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 cup TBS nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2 lbs Russet potatoes, thoroughly washed, peeled and cut into 1/8" slices

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a casserole dish (I usually just take about 1/4 tsp of olive oil, and a clean dish cloth or small piece of paper towl, and smear it all around the dish), and set aside.

Slice your potatoes and place them in medium sized bowl. Set them aside while you make your cream sauce.

In a small sauce pan, whisk together your roasted garlic cashew cream and all remaining ingredients over medium heat. Continue to cook for about 5 minutes, or until everything is just heated through - you don't want it to quite reach a simmer or boil, because you'll be touching it with your bare hands. Remove from the heat, and pour half of the cream over the potatoes in the bowl. Mix about with your hands or a spoon (if it's too hot - give it a minute, pour yourself a cup of tea, check your e-mail, come back in a bit), making sure that all of the potatoes are nicely coated with the cream sauce.

Now, pour a few tablespoons of your left over cream sauce in the bottom of your casserole dish, and sort of tilt your dish from side to side so that the cream coats the bottom of the pan.

Begin layering your potatoes into your casserole dish. You can fan them out in a circle, in neat little rows, or as haphazardly as you please, as long as their fairly evenly spaced, so that they cook evenly.

I like to set out a layer (neatly or not), then pour a few spoonfuls of cream the reserved over the potatoes before beginning my next layer.

Once you've run out of potatoes, pour whatever cream sauce you have left from the bowl on top of the potatoes. Sprinkle with a little more paprika if you like, cover with tin foil, leaving a small corner open so that steam can escape, and bake covered for about 50 minutes.

My sprinkles were a little on the heavy handed side...

Remove the tin foil, and baked uncovered for another 15 minutes until bubbly and golden brown.

Roasted Garlic Cashew Cream

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 tsp olive oil
  • pinch of salt

The night before you're going to make this recipe, put your raw cashews in a bowl and cover with water. Cover with a plate and let soak overnight.

The day of- roast your garlic! Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees. 

On a small piece of aluminum foil - about a 10" rectangle folded over to make a 5" square - place your peeled garlic cloves, cover them with 1/4 tsp olive oil and a pinch of salt. Wrap up the sides tightly to create a little tin foil packet, and place in the oven for about 35 minutes, or until your house smells like a giant bulb of garlic. Remove from the oven, carefully open your packet, and set aside to cool.

While you're garlic is roasting, you can make your cashew cream. Drain your soaked cashews and place them in a blender or food processor 1/2 cup of water and process until smooth and creamy - about a minute (if you need to add a little more water, go ahead - you want a coconut milk-like consistency).

Add the roasted garlic cloves, and pulse a few more times just to break them up. Place in the fridge until you're ready to use it.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Lunch Simplicity

Chickpea Salad

I'm not going to talk a whole lot about this recipe. It's simple, it's delicious, and it makes a great light and refreshing summer meal. I enjoy it on top of a big salad in lieu of dressing, on toast or in a pita. In college I used to eat this on toast all the time - I love the creamy textures of the salad atop nice crunchy toast. It's basically a vegan version of chicken or tuna salad, but so much healthier for you! It's simple to throw together, and keeps well in the fridge for 4-5 days. Feel free to adjust the spices to your tastes, and see what you come up with :)

Chickpea Salad

2 - 15oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed*
2 celery stalks, cut into 2" chunks*
2 carrots, cut into 2" chunks*
1/4 of a small onion very small dice (optional)
1/2-1 tsp garlic powder
2-3 TBS vegan mayonnaise (I used this fabulous tofu-cashew mayo from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen)
1-2 TBS whole grain mustard
4 TBS sweet relish (optional)
1/4 tsp seasoned salt

In a food processor, pulse the celery and carrots until they are finely chopped. Add the chickpeas and process until they begin to break up and become creamy, with just a few large pieces remaining.

*If you don't want to use a food processor, just finely dice the celery, grate the carrots, and mash the chickpeas with a potato masher.

 Pour the chickpea/celery/carrot mixture into a medium sized bowl, or glass storage container. Add remaining ingredients, mix, taste for seasoning, and eat! So easy!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

OMG Tamale Pie!

Gluten Free Tamale Pie

Tamale pie, Mexican Shepherds pie, chili and cornbread in one pot, call it what you like, this dish is so damn tasty! Hearty, mildly spiced (because, as we've mentioned, I'm a lightweight when it comes to spice), thick and nutrient packed chili, with a layer of gluten-free cornbread (inspired by this very much not vegan recipe for 100% cornmeal cornbread from the Plan to Eat blog) baked right on top. It's a fabulous one pot meal that will appease even the skeptical omnivores. I think the TVP or Bocca crumbles (NOT gluten free) help with that. However, if you have any sort of issues with faux meat (I myself am not usually a huge fan of the texture, but I like it here), feel free to omit it. You could absolutely substitute an additional zucchini, some crumbled tofu, or a diced portobello mushroom instead. 

One more note on ingredients/bean rant. While we do like to use dry beans in our home most of the time (so much more economical, you can control the salt and additives, and no cans to rinse and recycle), I do like to keep several cans in the pantry at all times, just in case. Sometimes canned beans are just more convenient, especially if I'm cooking something spur of the moment, or it's been a long day at school or work, and I just don't have any home made beans in the fridge. It's gotten much easier to find reduced sodium or no salt added beans lately, but one problem I always run into specifically has to do with kidney beans. Canned kidney beans nearly always contain that terrible, sneaky little thing called High Fructose Corn Syrup. I’ve found that most organic brands are safe, as are many of the reduced sodium variety. Just further proof of how important it is to READ LABELS. Know what you're buying, who you're buying it from and what exactly it is that you're putting in your body. Rant done.

The chili is also great all on its own, and it has a whole lot going on. It was originally inspired by a Rachel Ray recipe for Veg Head Three Bean Chili, that I came across years ago. I've made many of my own additions, subtractions, and alterations to it over the years. If there's a chance to add some dark leafy greens, I'll take it! As usual, like most chilis and stews, this just gets even better with age as the flavors marry. I'll make a batch of this if we have a lot of people coming over. Set out bowls of crushed tortilla chips, vegan cheese, sliced avocado, tomatoes, sliced sweet peppers, etc. for a server yourself chili bar. Serve it over pasta for some super tasty chili mac. Endless options! Which is why I thought it would be the perfect base for this Tamale Pie.

This recipe makes a LOT of chili. A bit more than I had intended, as, after I had filled my 9x13 casserole pan 2/3 of the way full, I still had about 2 1//2 cups of chili left. No complaints at our house of course. I didn't bother freezing it this time, as I know my husband will go through it in the next few days. However, there are several options for dealing with excess chili. You can simply stick it in the fridge, as I did; you can portion it out in mason jars or freezer safe bags and freeze it (it'll keep for at least a month in the freezer, if not longer - just be sure to defrost the mason jars in the fridge before re-heating). You could also simply spread the remaining chili in a loaf pan, and save about 1/3 of the cornbread mixture to spread over it, and bake it along side the bigger batch.

 Gluten Free Tamale Pie

For the Chili Base

(9x13 tamale pie serves 8 large portions, or 10 smaller portions. Chili serves 10-12)

·      1 tsp grapeseed oil
·      1 tsp whole cumin seeds
·      1 medium yellow onion, diced
·      1 green bell pepper, diced
·      1 red bell pepper, diced
·      2 medium zucchini, diced
·      5 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
·      2 – 14oz cans fire roasted diced tomatoes
·      1 – 14oz can reduced sodium/no salt added black beans, drained, or 2 cups homemade
·      1 – 14oz can reduced sodium/no salt added kidney beans, draine, or 2 cups homemade
·      1 – 14oz can vegetarian refried beans
·      2 TBS chili powder
·      2 TBS ground cumin
·      1 tsp garlic powder
·      ½ tsp Chipotle Mrs. Dash, or Chipotle chili powder
·      1 tsp sea salt
·      1/2 cup water
·      1 cup TVP (textured vegetable protein)
·      1/2 cup frozen organic corn
·      3/4 cup frozen chopped spinach (optional) 

Bottome Left to Right - Whole cumin seeds and chili spices
"Beef Style" Textured Vegetable Protein - You can find them in the bulk sections of most health food stores, or certified GF from Bob's Redmill :)

In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat the oil on medium high heat. Add the cumin seeds and allow them to toast in the oil for about 30 seconds – 1 minute (you’ll know once they start to become fragrant). Add the onions and peppers and sauté for about 10 minutes, until the onion is translucent and everything is starting to caramelize. 
Onion, peppers, zucchini, garlic and spices
 Add the garlic and zucchini, cover and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or so, until the zucchini has begun to soften. Add the spices and salt, and cook for one minute more stirring frequently, to lightly toast the spices. Add the tomatoes, kidney beans, black beans, TVP and water. Give everything a good stir, cover and bring to a boil. Once it’s boiling, stir, reduce the heat to low, cover again, and cook for about 20-30 minutes, checking it every 7-10 minutes or so.

When the TVP has softened, stir in the re-fried beans, which will begin to melt into the chili, and continue to stir until no big lumps remain. Add the corn and spinach, stir, cover and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning, adjust if needed and remove from the heat. Allow the chili to cool while you put the cornbread batter together.

Gluten-Free Cornbread topping

  • 2 cup cornmeal, organic non-GMO if possible
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 flax eggs (2 TBS + 6 TBS warm water mixed together and set aside) – or EnerG Egg Replacer to equal 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon agave or maple syrup
  • 1 ¼ cups unsweetened almond milk (or non-dairy milk of choice, adding more if necessary)
  • 3 TBS coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup organic frozen (or fresh) corn, thawed


In a small bowl mix together the flax eggs, agave, almond milk and coconut oil. Set aside.

In a medium bowl combine cornmeal, baking powder, and salt and whisk to combine. Pour the wet ingredients into the in the dry ingredients. Mix until just starting to come together, then fold in the corn.You want your batter to be fairly thick, so you may need to add a little additional almond milk or cornmeal in order to get the right texture.

Tamale Pie! 

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. 
In a 9"x13" casserole dish (and additional loaf pan if you like), pour/ladle the chili until it is roughly 2/3 full.

Gently, and slowly spread cornbread mixture on top of the chili in an even layer (I like to go spoonful by spoonful, so that you can cover evenly and prevent the cornbread from sinking to the bottom). 

Spreading the cornbread topping on.

Place in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean when inserted into the center of the bread. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool for about 10-15 minutes (or as long as you can), before serving.   

It bubbled over a bit :)


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Applesauce Muffins!

 Low-Fat Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins with Golden Raisins

So way back when, about ten years ago when I was first navigating the world of vegan baking and trying to come up with a quick, healthy snack I created this recipe for simple applesauce muffins. These muffins are fairly dense and cake-like, thanks to the oats, and the raisins add little pops of sweetness. These muffins are very low in fat, and I won't lie and tell you that they don't taste like low-fat muffins :p 'Cause they do, but not in a bad way. I think they taste really lovely, and I never feel bad about eating one, or two, or three...

I like these at breakfast, for a mid-morning snack, post-lunch snack, or even dessert. Basically, I'm telling you they're good whenever, wherever you want to eat them :) I am planning to try a gluten free adaptation of this recipe soon, so I'll keep you posted on that. I think any all purpose GF flour would probably work, but I want to play around with it a bit. These are also a great little treat for kids.

I usually don't bother with baking cups since these tend to disappear so quickly, it just seems like a wast of paper. Plus I also like the slight crunch that these get when baked without liners. But feel free to use whatever you like.

 Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins with Golden Raisins


  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 cups quick cook oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce + 3TBS
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk + 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar (or 1/4 cup vegan sugar + 1tsp molasses, or maple syrup)
  • 1 TBS ground flax seeds mixed with 2 TBS water
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins (you could also use currents or regular raisins, whatever you like!)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

Spray a 12 cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray, and set aside.

In a large bowl combine flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Whisk together, and set aside. In a medium bowl combine applesauce, non-dairy milk, sugar, and flax mixture. 

Dry ingredients.

Wet ingredients.
Make a well in dry ingredients and add applesauce mixture. Stir until just moist.

Everything together!
 Fold in raisins, then fill the muffin cups 3/4 full (these really don't rise too much, so don't worry if they look too full). Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a knife slides out clean.These keep quite well in an airtight container for several days.