Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Year in Review

Well it's that time of year. Time to welcome the baby new year - Hello 2013! - and bid adieu to 2012. I don't know about you dear reader, but 2012 was a douzy for me! So much change, so much growth, so much love and great food! I'll raise a glass to more love, ease, light, and joy in 2013!

Instead of seeking out the top visited posts, I choose my favorites for the year, and here they are, in order of the day - breakfast to dessert. Enjoy with lots of hugs!

As with so many foods this past year of going vegan, I have been converted to eating foods that I was never a big fan of like pancakes. The first time I made these Pillowy Puffy Vegan Pancakes I was SOLD! Maybe it's the fun chemistry of making them without eggs or the fact that the secret ingredient is apple cider vinegar (and vinegar is one of the loves of my life), but I couldn't get enough of these!

Having spent most of my college years in the South, I learned to worship at the alter of good biscuits: flaky, spongey, airy, mouth-watering delicious. Add a breakfast patty in between and you could lead me by the nose into molten lava and I'd go willingly! Discovering these Vegan Buttermilk Sausage Biscuits and the referenced faux sausage recipe was nothing short of a culinary miracle. No fake meat from the store ever again!

Mushrooms are not an ingredient that inspire so-so responses; people either love them or hate them. Being a fairly recent convert to the lover side, I am a fanatic and have been known to pay obscene amounts of money at the farmers' market for gorgeous mushrooms. Luckily, this dish of Pan Roasted Mushrooms with Wild Rice can be made with cremini mushrooms, easily foraged from your local grocery store!

 Eggplant and barley are two of my favorite ingredients and ones that I love to write about since so many people seem stumped when it comes to using them creatively. Mediterranean Eggplant and Barley Salad is one of those dishes that people will be shocked at how much they like it. So don't take it personally when they react that way, it's the salad, not you!

When it comes to exploring a new cuisine, I follow the traditional route as close as possible to get a sense of the how the food developed - ingredients indigenous to a specific region, noting how seasons shape pairings, and understanding how abundance and ease of gathering ingredients informs the prevalence of particular food stuffs. This dish of Stovetop Corn and Roasted Poblanos couldn't be more traditional, marrying two of the key staples of Mexican cuisine, corn and chilies.  A match made in heaven!

Following along the Mexican theme, 2012 was the year I finally made Red Chile Tamales; that in itself made it a banner year! Intimidating, yes. Worth it, absolutely! This recipe is for both pork and vegan (tofu) tamales, so everyone can join in the fun. The key to making tamales is the advance prep, including making the pork or freezing the tofu for best texture in the tamales. Plan ahead, invite a friend or two over to help assemble these bundles of joy, and you will not regret one single moment of this delicious endeavor!

Tempeh is an ingredient that has taken a while to inch into my repertoire, until I discovered Chesapeake Tempeh Cakes. Inspired by Maryland crab cakes, these tasty morsels not only won rave reviews from the most omni of omnivores, but finally cracked the code on tempeh for me. Piping hot or cold leftovers, these nuggets of gold will have anyone eating out of your hand and begging for more!

"Lentil meat" was one of the revelations of 2012 for me. Who knew the modest legume could bring such joy! Until discovering its entree potential, it had almost always only been found in soup or Indian dal. Liberation! With these Spicy Lentil Lettuce Cups I sauced them up and served them Asian style in their own lettuce cups, reminiscent of my favorite Chinese dish of tofu lettuce wraps.

Here's another vegan makeover of a classic, Chickpea Parmesan, using my favorite legume to create a gorgeous cutlet for slathering on lots of red sauce and cashew cheese sauce. Be forewarned, this will create culinary rapture, so be sure to be seated while eating!

While preparing to make this gorgeous Vegan Grasshopper Pie, I learned that there are places that deep-fry grasshoppers and eat them like popcorn! So to be clear, no grasshoppers were harmed in the making of this pie! Another important note, said with pride, is there is no artificial food coloring used to green the pie - that's baby spinach leaves ground into the filling!

 Limoncello, the lemon zest infused sweet vodka of Italy, is one of those things that I like to make more than I like to drink. All that changed when I made Limoncello Macaroons! These blew my mind despite my severe lack of a sweet tooth! Boozy desserts are always a fun choice but imagine the tang of lemon, the creamy sweetness of sugar icing and the crunch of coconut macaroons!

The other dessert that swept me away this year was this Vegan Caramel Flan. Simple and elegant, easy and foolproof. This is the kind of dessert I adore for dinner parties! Impressive to look at, delicious to eat, and easy to make ahead of time! You need this in your repertoire now!

And that is my top 12 for 2012. I hope you enjoyed this virtual feast! Raise a glass to a glorious past year and all of the delicious, nourishing, and enlightening meals and food gatherings to come!

Happy New Year and Hugs to All!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Raw Berry Tart

I have only dipped my toe in the raw food waters, mostly making desserts. My intentions are to make some entrees, soon. But for now, raw desserts like this berry tart are not only simple but quick to make, so what's not to love!

If you haven't discovered the magic of soaked cashews then now is the time. Soaking the cashews softens them so that when placed in a blender with other ingredients they become a paste that is malleable in so many ways. Here they serve as the basis for the fruit "custard".

If you look at other recipes for raw berry tarts most of them will include a sweetner of a sort, but I prefer to let the berries speak for themselves. And if fresh berries are too dear for your budget, frozen ones work just as well and are often sweeter. Just increase your cashews by 1/4 of a cup since frozen berries seem to have more liquid in them.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Thai Curry Creamed Cabbage

Oh, the lowly green cabbage. It isn't colorful like red cabbage or crinklely like Napa cabbage or juicy like Chinese cabbage. But when you cook it just right, it's the best comfort food around.

Especially when you pair it with coconut milk and some nice warming spices like a red Thai curry. Stir it into some quinoa and we're talking pantry magic like you haven't seen cabbage make in such a long time!

Red cabbage is often my first choice in raw salads for the color alone. But green cabbage cooks up better because when it is gently sweated or sauteed, its sweeter side opens up, like a beautiful flower embracing your taste buds. Adding the coconut milk just makes this side dish silky and smooth; the kick of the Thai curry simply ensures that you don't fall asleep at the table as you get all comfy and warm!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate

Brussels Sprouts get so much love at Thanksgiving - everyone is so excited to make some dish with them for the big feast. But I often wonder if they're like the new pair of shoes that lose their allure after that night of heavy partying? Never for me, but just in case you haven't had any since the Feast night, here's an offering well worth trying.

This recipe comes straight from Eats Well With Others, unadulterated. If you haven't visited with Joanne of Eats Well With Others, well high-tail it over there now! Yes, leave my blog and go check it out. Not only is her food killer (and her photos insanely drool-worthy) but she's an amazing writer, hysterical tale-teller, and all-around amazing human being. Ok, go now and we'll see you when you come back...

Welcome back! So back to Brussells Sprouts. I love pomegranate anything and when I saw that this dish had both the seeds (AKA avils) and pomegranate molasses, it was a match made in heaven. If your family/friends/random dinner party guests claim to hate the "bitter" taste of Brussels Sprouts, bring on this dish. Sweet and tart, crunchy and earthy, what's not to love!

A word of caution. In my preserving fervor I deseeded several pomegranates and froze the seeds. They froze just fine and lost no flavor, but in defrosting they lose their jewel like transparency (as seen in Joanne's photos as opposed to mine.)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tortilla Soup

Tomatoes and corn are defining ingredients in Mexican cooking and they come together perfectly in the deceptively simple and delicious tortilla soup. Using a few Mexican specific ingredients - fresh serrano chiles, canned diced chiles and a smoky chipotle chile - creates a complexly flavored soup that you can make in less than 30 minutes. Add avocado, cilantro, and the crunch of corn chips and it's a party in your mouth!

If you have canned tomatoes, chiles, and chick peas in you pantry, then this is super quick meal that comes together in minutes! Add your favorite salad and some extra chips and you have a full meal that is healthy but tastes decadent. Don't skimp on the garnishes, they really make the soup!

Tortilla Soup
(serves 4)

1/2 onion, minced
1 stalk celery, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small can diced green chiles
2 cups canned tomatoes
2 fresh serrano peppers, minced
1 chipotle in adobo (without the sauce)
1/2 cup cooked chick peas
1 1/2 tablespoons cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
5 corn chips plus more for garnish
1/2 avocado, cubed
cilantro, minced

Saute onion, garlic, serranos and canned chiles in olive oil until translucent. Add celery, chipotle, and cumin and cook another 4-5 minutes until vegetables begin to stick to the pan. Add tomatoes, chick peas, and oregano and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer and cook for 15 minutes until well melded. Add 5 chips, broken up, and cook another 5 minutes to soften chips. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. Add in 1 tablespoon minced cilantro and then puree in batches in a blender or use a hand held blender. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with corn chips, avocado and more cilantro if you like.


Recipes currently inspiring me:

Spinach and Feta Casserole at Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice
Gingerbread Biscotti at Flavors of the Sun
Raw Brownie Bottomed Cheesecake at Spa Bettie

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Wild Mushroom Pasties

I love dough, bread, crust, you name it. Put shortening/oil/margarine/whatever together with flour and some salt and water and I'll eat it. Wrap it around something mouth watering like sauteed mushrooms and I'll probably knock down your 80 year old grandmother to grab the last bite!

These particular stuffed morsels are called "pasties" after the Cornish Pasties that are sold all over England and it is how the dough is made that qualifies them as such. Instead of cutting the shortening into the flour, it is melted in boiling hot water and then the flour is added to it along with salt and some baking powder. The result is an incredibly flaky crust that boggles the mind.

(By the way, I am well aware of the sniggling from the peanut gallery since the term "pasty" has a different connotation on this side of the pond! Us cooks who are focused on the origins of food will simply ignore the giggles!)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Raw Kale Salad with Sundried Tomato Cashew Dressing

If you have yet to try a raw kale salad, what's the hold up? Even if you think you do not like kale, give this salad a try. With a little forethought, you can have a creamy dressing that is healthy and tasty too!

The basis of most raw kale salads involves squeezing lemon juice over the raw leaves and allowing the natural acid to wilt the kale down. At minimum, allow the kale to wilt for 15 minutes, but you can also refrigerate it and allow it to wilt over night. For the dressing, I use cashews that have been soaked at least 8 hours in water, pureeing them with a few flavorful ingredients to create a creamy, dairy-free delicious dressing. It looks and taste like a gourmet vegan restaurant, but you can do it so easily at home. And isn't that always a bonus!

For this iteration I tossed in some sundried tomatoes to add a little zip to the dressing. Be sure to use the ones packed in oil; loose packed dried ones are too hard and even rehydrated ones are too wet and soft and will not blend well. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Vegan Aioli - DIY Pantry

Aioli is one of those traditional sauces that I discovered late in life but savor every time I eat it! Now that my diet is plant-based, I wanted to try out a vegan version: simple and soy free!

After perusing a few recipes on the web I went with a tofu-free one that uses creamy mustard as the base rather than egg yolks. The plus of going yolk free is you are freed from the tyranny of painstakingly dripping the oils in slowly to ensure it all emulsifies. While your forearm will still get a good workout using that whisk to beat the oil into a creamy sauce, the mustard starts the emulsification almost instantly!

Vegan Aioli - DIY Pantry
(makes 2/3 cup)

1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons creamy Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup neutral oil (sunflower, safflower)
1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/2 lemon, juiced

In a mortar and pestle smash garlic and salt into a paste; scrap into a small mixing bowl and add mustard and whip with a whisk until well blended. Pour oils into mixture 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking furiously to blend and emulsify. Halfway through adding oils, add vinegar and lemon juice and continue whisking. Finish adding oils and taste for salt. Keep refrigerated when not in use. If sauce begins to separate, simply rewhisk.


Recipes currently inspiring me:

Willy Wonka's Chocolate Mushrooms at Think. Care. Act.
Almond Brown Rice Pudding at Sidewalk Shoes
Triple Fennel and Spelt Salad at My New Roots

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Garlickly Greens Scacciata Pie with Cashew Cheese

I wrote a post several years talking about my favorite family heirloom. Not a piece of furniture or art, per se, but rather the Sicilian Heirloom Scacciata, of unknown origins which I was so fortunate to know while growing up in Middletown, Connecticut. Since changing to a plant-based diet, I decided to make it using my favorite cashew cheese. Just as delicious!

Now that I have begun experimenting with Miyoko Schinner's Artisan Vegan Cheese, I can't wait to try these with homemade vegan mozzarella! Look for a forthcoming version with garlickly broccoli!

Garlickly Greens Scacciata Pie with Cashew Cheese
(serves 2-4)

4 cups chopped greens (2 large bunches of any of the following: kale, collards, swiss chard, purslane, turnip greens, beet greens)
1 cup onion, chopped
10 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup cashews, soaked in water for 8 hours or more
2/3 cup almond milk
1-2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (to taste)

4 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups water
2 tablespoons olive oil

Add yeast to water and set aside to proof. Mix flour and salt in bowl and add proofed yeast and stir to combine. Add olive oil and mix well. Turn out onto floured counter and kneed 5-7 minutes until smooth and elastic.  Place in clean bowl and cover with damp dish cloth and place in warm place and allow to rise 2 hours or until doubled in size.

Saute garlic in olive oil for 1-2 minutes until you can smell garlic but before it begins to brown. Remove garlic and set aside. Add onion and saute for 1 minute until it turns translucent. Add greens and cook for 4-5 minutes until wilted. Add garlic back to pan and cook another 3 minutes until flavors meld. Set aside to cool.

Place soaked cashews and almond milk in blender and puree until smooth. Add nutritional yeast and puree until incorporated. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Punch down dough and pull apart into 2 pieces. Roll out each piece into a large circle. Place half of filling in the front part of the circle and top with half of cashew cheese. Pull dough over filling and roll edges to seal, tucking ends under sciaccatta. Oil top with olive oil and place on greased baking sheet and bake 40 minutes or until top is nicely browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool 5 minutes. Serve with warmed marinara sauce or plain.


Recipes currently inspiring me:

Roasted Cauliflower and Aged White Cheddar Gratin at Closet Cooking
Shrimp Enchiladas with Green Chile Sauce at Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice
Vegan Corn Dog Mummies at Fork and Beans

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Moroccan Lentil Stew over Couscous - Farewell to PPN

If you scan my labels on my blog, you'll notice that Moroccan dishes are up there with my other favorite types of cuisine - Asian, Mexican - only beat by Italian (kind of hard to compete with that!) When Joanne of Eats Well With Others posted her version of a Moroccan Lentil Stew I knew that my version would soon follow.

A huge fan of Harissa, Preserved Lemons, and Pomegranate Molasses, all of those fun DIY Pantry ingredients found their way into my version. I served this over couscous, naturally, and perfectly it fit as my final offering and tribute to Presto Pasta Nights.

Presto Pasta Nights was my introduction to blog events and the one that has most enriched my life. Not only did I host it six times but many of the bloggers that I met through PPN are now my favorites as well as being part of my virtual blogging community. I can't remember how I first came across PPN but my blog and my food repertoire has grown so much because of the following blogs:

Once Upon a Feast
Chaya's Comfy Cook now Bizzy Bakes
Chez Cayenne
Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice
Closet Cooking
Cook Almost Anything
Eats Well With Others
Food Hunter's Guide to Cuisine
Honey From Rock
More Than Burnt Toast
Sidewalk Shoes
Thyme for Cooking

Thank you to everyone for sharing your passion, food and energy with us all, how lucky we are! And thanks most of all to Ruth of Once Upon A Feast. Here's to so much more great food to come!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Thanksgiving RoundUp - Vegan Friendly

It is that time of year when omnivores reign supreme - Thanksgiving. But not to forget the spirit of the holiday - gratitude - I am generously sharing lots of suggestions for omnivore and vegan/veggie cooks alike.

It is mainly the baking and entree side that trips up newbie Thanksgiving cooks, who are frazzled enough with making a huge bird and hoping it isn't over- or under-done. Unless you're on great terms with the cook, let go of having protein at this one meal and focus on the sides and desserts, they are really the best part of the meal in my mind! But if you can get a burner in the busy kitchen, here's my recipe for Marsala Seitan with Sauteed Mushrooms (courtesy Field Roast)

My preference if I am dining at someone else's table is to ask if I might bring something to share. Most cooks will be happy to have your contribution so they have something less to worry about. Depending on your palate - sweets galore, vegetable-aholic, fun appetizers - you can bring your favorite dish and ensure you really enjoy at least once dish and show friends and family how delicious vegan can be!

Showing lots of compassion for all beings, here are some humble suggestions for a happy dining experience for everyone at this year's Thanksgiving!


Chocolate Pudding Pie

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Limoncello Macaroons

Grasshopper Pie

Hors d'Oeuvres

Quinoa Stuffed Mushrooms

Fermented Cashew "Boursin" Cheese

Raw Spinach and Artichoke Dip



Creamed Spinach

Pan Roasted Mushrooms and Wild Rice

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you have a joyous and delicious day!


Friday, November 9, 2012

Presto Pasta Nights - # 289 - The Penultimate Round-Up

Welcome to Presto Pasta Nights #289! This is my sixth time hosting (kind of hard to believe!) but a bittersweet one since this is the penultimate roundup of Presto Pasta Nights. Next week's roundup will be the last, capping off more than 5 years of weekly roundups of pasta! So please join me with your favorite glass of drink to celebrate all of the yummy pasta we have before us!

First of all I want to pay tribute to Ruth Daniels of Once Upon A Feast for creating Presto Pasta Nights. Since I started blogging more than three years ago, PPN has been the event I have participated in most and from which I have met such wonderful bloggers. I have always loved that it was weekly - the frequency made it feel cosy, like cooks sharing recipes over the back fence or in the aisle of the grocery store. Everyone was so welcome and it created so much virtual community, one of the main reasons I personally enjoy blogging so much!

So often Ruth's dishes feature interesting pasta as well as delicious flavor combinations. Of course this week is a perfect example: Conchiglioni with Italian Sausage and Mushrooms. In a word, Yum!

Next is Lana of Bibberche with her Mediterranean Pasta with Sardines. Lana not only went "pantry spelunking" (something I adore!) to bring the briny goodness of her childhood to her family, but she produced a dish that left her family silent in rapture-filled eating. Sounds like a winner to me!

Stash of Simple Kitchen Seasons is a cook after my own heart. Reminding us of the authentic way to make Spaghetti Carbonara - no cream, raw eggs! - he serves up a gorgeous carbonara that lets the simple ingredients shine in perfect harmony allowing the pasta to take center stage.

Catherine of Cate's Cates brings us Vegan Pasta Primavera with fresh herbs, fava beans (or broad beans as some call them) and a bowl full of fresh spring veggies because she's living where Spring is just blooming, lucky duck! Well she stole my heart when she started talking fresh herb sauce with favas - all of which are growing in my southern California winter garden right now! So this dish goes to the top of my must make list!

Haalo of Cook Almond Anything, a PPN regular, sends us Tajarin con Ragu Leggero dell'Orto inspired by a recent meal at a local favorite restaurant in Alba (so much inspiration from the Mediterranean in this roundup as me dreaming of that wondrous food region!) Adding lots of vegetables - bell peppers, zucchini, red celery and peas - she lightens up the traditional notion of a ragu to create a confetti effect with gorgeous egg pasta!

Next is Alicia of Foodycat who serves up a real doozy - Prawn and 'nduja fusilli lunghi. Prawns + Calabrian spicy sausage? When I was an omnivore this dish would have sent me into ecstatic convulsions at the very description! All of this inspiration from the Mediterranean is having me longing for that magical place. Luckily it's easy to "take a trip" through the pantry and at least taste my way through deliciousness!

Skud of The Oeconomist serves up a Ricotta Pesto Vegetable Pasta Bake. Whew! That's a mouthful to say but better yet one I'd like to be forking into my mouth as soon as possible! He added mushrooms and sundried tomatoes along with a creamy version of Ricotta that is sliced up in wedges. I completely understand why he heard that kind of ricotta talking to him!

Tigerfish, another long-time PPNer whose dishes never fail to invoke involuntary drooling, brings us Preserved Chinese Leaf Mustard and Chicken Noodle Soup, writing at An Escape to Food. I am always intrigued by anything preserved (preserved lemons being one of my favorite ingredients) and the idea of adding preserved greens to a warming noodle dish sounds perfect as the darkness falls earlier and the rainy season begins in Southern California. This dish is zipping to the top of my must make list!
Bringing up the rear is my Vegan Alfredo with Peas and Parsley. Using that magical ingredient of soaked raw cashews, I made a pureed sauce with some nutritional yeast that paired perfectly with some orrechiete, peas, and parsley.

Farewell for now dear pasta eaters. See you all next week for the final celebration of Presto Pasta Nights! Thanks for participating this week and happy eating!


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Green Chile Gorditas

Peasant food is my favorite kind of food to make. It's cheap, filling, usually from locally sourced ingredients if you cook according to the climate you live in, and perfected over centuries by home cooks, so almost guaranteed to be delicious.

Lately I've been making gorditas, "fat ones" which are Mexican in origin. Masa dough stuffed with simple things like sauteed garlic and chilies and a dab of cheese, pan fried into tasty goodness. They're highly addictive, very filling, and even reheat well in the microwave for office lunches!

In this version I used some vegan cream cheese, but use any mild cheese or dairy cream cheese and you'll be pleased with the results. These make a quick and satisfying dinner when you want something on the table quick but don't have time for fussing in the kitchen. Make a big batch and your lunch is waiting for you in the morning.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Vegan Alfredo with Peas and Parsley - Presto Pasta Night

Pasta is gracing my table less often than it used to but when it does, I go all out, with something like this decadent creamy Alfredo pasta sauce. Adding sweet peas and fresh parsley and loads of black pepper makes my taste buds sing!

The alfredo sauce is vegan, made from soaked and pureed cashews (such a wonder nut!) with a good helping of nutritional yeast for that cheezy flavor and goodness. This dish is in honor of the end of Presto Pasta Nights. Next week I will be hosting the second to last iteration of this more than five year tradition. It will be my sixth time hosting and I am so honored to have participated in this amazing blogging event. Ruth of Once Upon A Feast has been the founder and stalwart organizer of this incredible weekly blogging event and while I am sad to see it go, there is no constant except change!

Over the years I have made so many blogging friends who were introduced to me via Presto Pasta Nights - Reeni of Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice, Joanne of Eats Well With Others, and Clair of Chez Cayenne - just to name a few. Meeting these incredible bloggers as not only introduced me to delicious food on their blogs, but I have gotten to know these wonderful women who share so much of themselves in their writing as well as through their food. Ruth herself is such a generous heart and a joyful supporter of local purveyors of food (despite living in such a cold place as Halifax, Nova Scotia), that she is an inspiration to food bloggers everywhere!

Please send in a submission to kirstenmlindquist at gmail dot com and cc Ruth at 4everykitchen dot com and join me for next week's round up and consider joining in the finale for November 16 as well. It will make a wonderful send off for a beautiful journey of pasta! 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake Cupcakes

Happy Halloween! Happy Samhain! Happy End of Vegan MoFo! That's a whole lotta celebrating to do! It was a push at the end, but I managed to do 20 posts for Vegan MoFo. What a journey!

This last post was supposed to be a big finale - pumpkin cheesecake cupcakes with gorgeous natural orange and green frosting. Did not work out, as my first attempt here explained. But since this was a recipe from Post Punk Kitchen, you can bet your bottom dollar that these cupcakes were scrumptous! There was a whole muffin tin of them when I started out, meant for the Halloween Party for the staff at the co-op tomorrow. Oops! Ate almost half of them! Yup, it's that good!

While this was my first pumpkin recipe of the season, it most certainly will not be my last. Look for more posts using pumpkin, my favorite winter squash by far!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Cupcakes (from PPK)
(makes 12)

1/2 cup whole cashews soaked in water for 2 to 8 hours or until very soft
1/4 cup mashed banana (about half of 1 medium-sized banana)
1 12 to 14 oz package silken tofu, drained
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons coconut oil, at room temperature
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 3/4 cups canned pumpkin puree (or 1 15 oz can)
3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Drain the cashews and place in a food processor and process until very finely chopped, scrapping down to get it all evenly chopped. Add the banana, tofu, sugar, brown sugar, coconut oil, cornstarch, lemon juice, vanilla, orange zest, and sea salt and blend until completely smooth and no bits of cashew remain.

Set aside 1/2 cup of batter. To the remaining batter, add the pumpkin puree, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg and blend until smooth. Place cupcake papers in a muffin pan and spoon in batter to 12 cupcakes, only filling it up 4/5 of the way full.  Randomly spoon dollops of the reserved batter onto the cheesecake. Poke the end of a chopstick into a batter blob and gently swirl to create a marble pattern; repeat with the remaining dollops. Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean.  Remove it from the oven and let cool on a rack for about 20 minutes, then transfer to the refrigerator to complete cooling, at least 3 hours or even better if overnight. Unwrap to serve or top with your favorite icing!


Recipes currently inspiring me:

Beet Cheesecake Bites at Ripe
Snowballs at Joanna Vaught
Sweet Potato Gnocchi at My Zoetrope

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

First Attempt (and failure) at Homemade Food Coloring - DIY Pantry

So the photo above is really pretty - and all natural! - and I really wanted it to work out. But, it was a food chemistry experiment, and as all creative people know, sometimes (often) the first try does not work, so sometime soon, I will post a successful recipe for using vegetable and herb sources to create your own DIY food coloring.

In case you are curious, what happened above was adding various vegetables and a few herbs/spices to almond milk, blending it and straining it several times. I used almond milk because this was food coloring for frosting. The plan was to simply add powdered sugar and margarine to create vegan buttercream frosting. The frosting was great but it diluted the color too much. Next try will be to make purer liquids - only using vegetable juice, not vegetables combined with almond milk. I'll post that soon, in time for Winter Holiday baking season.

By the way, the two pinkish purplish liquids look like they have things floating in them - they don't. That's just a reflection of the trees' leave above.

For the record, this is what I created, starting at the top with the baby chick yellow.

Baby Chick Yellow - 1 teaspoon turmeric
Yellow - 1 teaspoon saffron soaked in boiling water
Orange - 1 large shredded carrot blended with 1 cup almond milk
Purple - blend 1/2 shredded beet with 1 cup almond milk and add 1/4 teaspoon cider vinegar to set     color, plus 1 teaspoon of blue
Berry Pink - blend 1/2 shredded beet with 1 cup almond milk and and 1/4 teaspoon cider vinegar
Green - 12 leaves spinach pureed in almond milk
Blue - red cabbage boiled in water for 10 minutes, strain veg out (do not add to milk!) add 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Back to the drawing board!