Tuesday, April 26, 2011

April 17, 2011 Recipe #12: Baklava

My parents came to visit on their way down to Pompano Beach. They usually travel down this way, by car, three times a year and we usually get together for a bit of lunch before they reach their final destination! So I began brainstorming of what to make for lunch.... I decided on Greek! Vegan Greek! The menu consisted of: homemade hummus and vegan tzatziki sauce served with lightly toasted pita wedges. a traditional greek salad (no lettuce) with a vegan feta cheese substitute, and fresh fruit! Of course we can't forget the dessert! Vegan Baklava! Another great recipe included in The 2011 Cookbook Challenge!
"Hello Ladies! Fresh baklava!"
Quoted from My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Lunch turned out great and everything was delicious! I was in heaven over the baklava! Let's just say it was definite sweet tooth satisfaction! The vegan recipe actually called for agave nectar in the sweet syrup, but I decided to use honey instead. I know it's not considered vegan, but I use it anyway :) I also used raw sugar in the syrup, rather than the granulated sugar the recipe called for. I chose to make this recipe with only two types of nuts: almonds and walnuts. Perfect! Next time though, I think I would try more of a variety - maybe hazelnuts, pistachios, almonds, and walnuts. Yum! I also used a soy-free non-dairy butter to brush over the phyllo dough.

Now one major change I made, which really made a difference on the sweet tooth scale! I ended up halving the recipe (half the phyllo dough, which was only a quarter of the package I purchased; half the butter, 8x8 pan instead of 9x13) BUT I used the full amounts of the syrup and nuts... which meant OVERLOAD! This made the baklava very rich but I seriously loved every bite of it.

However, I will be making this recipe again without halving any of the recipe, just to see how it compares!

This recipe is a definite keeper so let me know if you are interested in getting your hands on this recipe!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

And the mystery recipe is....Stuffing? In April?! Oy Vey...

I'm browsing through one of my new vegan cookbooks, Color Me Vegan, and BAM, there it is... a recipe for stuffing. Mmmm... okay, now I want some stuffing! So all I can think about is stuffing, and I started thinking back to past Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts, remembering how much I enjoyed the stuffing David's mom always prepares... using muffins in place of stale bread!! Delicious! Last Christmas I actually made the muffins for Jacki's stuffing and it was as good as ever!

This time though I was ready to take on my own stuffing. I tried making stuffing once before; not bad, but not great either. Let's putting this way, I wouldn't go out of my way to make it again. So I decided NOW was the time to master stuffing (yes I'm a big dork), with two goals in mind: 1.) Use Muffins and 2.) 100% Vegan! Where would I get these vegan muffins though? What could be better than making homemade muffins using recipes from The 2011 Cookbook Challenge! That's right! 

So I decided to make three kinds of muffins: corn, apple walnut, and pumpkin spice! I wanted to try something new - the addition of pumpkin bread into stuffing was intriguing!

I made a fantastic stuffing! Normally I'm not so confident about my recipes but this was seriously delicious! I found that making the stuffing moist enough was the key to making this so wonderful!
So here's the recipe! I used the recipe from my vegan cookbook as a base and changed it up the way I wanted it. I hope you enjoy it! If you want the vegan muffin recipes that I used feel free to let me know and I'll send the recipes your way!

Apple, Cranberry, and Walnut Stuffing

  • 6 regular-sized corn muffins, cubed or crumbled
  • 3 large (or 6 regular-sized) pumpkin muffins, cubed or crumbled
  • 6 regular-sized apple walnut muffins, cubed and crumbled
  • 1-2 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp dried sage
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried tarragon
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • sea salt, to taste
  • fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tart apple, cored, chopped, and unpeeled
  • 5.2 oz container dried cranberries
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1-1/2 - 2 cups vegetable stock, or more if needed
  • 2-3 tbsp nondairy butter (Earth Balance, soy-free), melted
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all of the muffins. Set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet and add the onion and celery. Cook on medium-high heat for about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the sage, rosemary, thyme, tarragon, parsley, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
  5. Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the mixture to the bowl of bread.
  6. Stir in the apple, cranberries, walnuts, and vegetable stock. Mix thoroughly.
  7. Add more vegetable stock if mixture is not moist enough.
  8. Transfer mixture to a casserole dish and drizzle with melted butter.
  9. Bake for aproximately 1 hour , or until the top is a golden-brown color.
  10. Serves 8-10.

Now for those of you who do not like all the fruity/nutty stuff (a.k.a. David), I also made a vegan traditional stuffing! I made it the same exactly way except the bread consisted of 6 corn muffins and 1/2 loaf of French bread, omitting all the fruity muffins, chopped apples, cranberries and walnuts. Still great! 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

April 2, 2011 Recipe #11: Apple Walnut Muffins

I'm on a roll with The 2011 Cookbook Challenge! And ooooh, don't these look yummy?! The original recipe was actually "apple pecan muffins" but due to a slight allergy to pecans, I used walnuts instead. Aside from the walnut substitute, the only change I made was the use of grapeseed oil, rather than canola oil. Grapeseed oil can be used for baking and frying. Want to know a little more about it? Check out these websites:

Grapeseed oil
Wise Geek: What is grapeseed oil?

I liked this recipe because it used half whole wheat and half all-purpose flour, as well as a limited amount of oil. This recipe used unsweetened applesauce, which is actually a healthy substitute for oil. I went with a Granny Smith apple since it's a tarter apple and good to use in baking!

So guess what? These muffins were ALSO used in the mystery recipe that I have been talking about for the past couple of blog entries! Don't worry, I promise, the next recipe will be the revealing of the tasty, fabulous mystery dish I can't stop talking about!

Friday, April 8, 2011

April 2, 2011 Recipe #10: Corn Muffins

Leave it to The 2011 Cookbook Challenge to give me something to complain about. I can't complain about this recipe too much, because everything worked out in the end, but something did go very wrong. Since I was making these muffins with the mystery recipe I will be sharing with you very soon, I decided to omit the addition of corn as well as the suggested addition of blueberries. I used a flax/water mixture for the egg stubstitute which I think may have been my problem. The original recipe called for Ener-G Egg Replacer, which I didn't have on hand, so when I made the "flax eggs" I don't think I made enough of an egg-like consistency. The flax to water mixture probably could have used a bit more water. My batter ended up being too dry, making it difficult to incorporate the dry with the wet ingredients. Grrr. I had also substituted the flour, originally calling for all-purpose flour, but I did half whole wheat and half all-purpose. I don't think this substitution would make the batter too dry though. Anyway, I went with what I had and contined on to baking them. The muffins baked for a shorter amount of time, but when they were done baking you could tell they seemed a bit too dry. Fortunately, they were perfect for the mystery recipe! Stay tuned! And well, you live and learn, right?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

April 2, 2011 Recipe #9: Pumpkin Spice Bread or Muffins

You can't go wrong with pumpkin muffins! Yum! In the past when I've made pumpkin bread, I only used cinnamon, but this time, as part of 
The 2011 Cookbook Challenge, I decided to follow the spices exactly: cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg! These smelled delicious and were nice and moist when they came out of the oven!

Now I did make a coupe of changes. The recipe called for 2 cups granulated sugar. Instead, I used 1 cup raw sugar and 1 cup brown sugar. Also the original recipe recommended using 1-1/2 cups applesauce or 1/2 cup applesauce plus 1/2 cup canola oil. I took the equal parts of oil and applesauce, but decided to use grapeseed oil in place of the canola as well as homemade unsweetened applesauce that had been sitting in my freezer waiting to be used in a recipe. I also used ground flaxseeds and water to make the equivalent of eggs, but rather than follow the directions, I mixed the two together and let the mixture sit for 10-15 minutes until it was thickened, looking more like an egg consistency. Last but not least, instead of using all-purpose flour, I went with whole wheat flour and the remainder of whole wheat pastry flour that I had on hand. Mmm, mmm, mmm.

Unfortunately, I can't tell you how these tasted, alone; however, I incorporated them into a recipe that will be coming soon! And let me tell  you - you aren't going to want to miss this one! Amazing!

The pumpkin muffins here do not have any extra add-ins because of how I was using them in the recipe to come, but nuts and/or chocolate chips would be a delicious addition!


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

March 13, 2011 Recipe #8: Irish Soda Bread

Ah-ha! The culprit of not following the recipes of The 2011 Cookbook Challenge according to my sequence generator! Honestly though, it makes sense to make Irish soda bread for St. Patrick's Day! Doesn't it?! And it's exactly what I did :)

I had never had Irish soda bread... it was delicious! Just spread a bit of butter (vegan butter) on it and, oh man, yum! Since I had made it for St. Patrick's Day, I served it with corned beef and cabbage (thanks to Allrecipes)! Yes, I'm still sticking to the vegan diet, so I didn't have the main dish, but David and his mom seemed to enjoy it!

This bread is also good lightly toasted with peanut butter and jelly! Mmmm...

I guess I do have one slightly negative comment about this recipe though. The directions have you knead the dough for only 10-12 strokes, but my batter was so wet, that I wasn't quite sure how to knead it with the consistency it was, so I decided to add a bit more flour to work with it a little better. The addition of more flour may have been a mistake though - the batter became tougher than expected, and once baked, the bread seemed a little dense. It was still good though! Also, the addition of raisins or nuts would be good in this bread!

March 12, 2011 Recipe #7: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Moving right along with The 2011 Cookbook Challenge, I was definitely in the mood for some chocolate! Where did I go wrong though?! These cupcakes look delicious! BUT, I did it... I screwed them up. However, the chocolate peanut butter frosting on top was delicious! And I decorated them with some confectioner's sugar :)

So on to these cupcakes though.... just awful... I've been reading how whole wheat flours are better for you than white all-purpose flours, so I decided to use whole wheat pastry flour in place of the all-purpose flour. BIG MISTAKE. The cupcakes ended up a bit too dense and weren't flavorless, but the flavor just wasn't there. I ended up throwing them all away :(

Now, I will tell you though, there are certain recipes where you can make this clean substitute, using whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour. Unfortunately, it just doesn't go over so well when making cupcakes. Muffins, on the other hand, taste great with this substitution!

Well I knew this was bound to happen sometime with this challenge... some are winners, and some not so much. Moving on!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Fun with Fondant! Spending Quality Time with Family!

Mishkie and Mom came out to visit in February and we decided to have a little fun with fondant! We've been wanting to play around with fondant lately to practice for my bestfriend's (or maybe I should say other sister's) wedding cake! To stay away from any time conflicts we could possibly have the week before her wedding though, we decided we will just make her a 1-year anniversary cake, which will be put on display at her wedding! So until then, we all decided it's best to keep practicing! 

Previously, I made fondant for the first time from a marshmallow base. It was a little tough to work with, but overall, I had a good experience with it. So for the next homemade fondant, we decided we wanted to try making one that might be a little easier to work with, plus we wanted to see if there was a recipe out there that called for ingredients we had on hand. Leave it to Allrecipes to give us something to try! Yay!

Rolled Buttercream Fondant (Original Recipe)

  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
  • 1 lb. confectioners' sugar
  1. In a large bowl, stir together the shortening and corn syrup.
  2. Mix in the salt and vanilla flavoring.
  3. Gradually mix in the confectioners' sugar until it is a stiff dough.  Add more confectioners' sugar until it is smooth.
  4. Store in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  5. *Note: This recipe is best made with a stand mixer, using the dough hook attachment.
This fondant recipe had it's advantages and, unfortunately, disadvantages. The fondant was extremely easy to work with and mold, making it less stressful on first-time fondant users. AND we happened to have the ingredients already available, so we didn't need anything too special to put this together. But it was a softer type of fondant, so if you played with it too much, it just got softer, almost to the point of melting (but not quite). Now, there are actually solutions to this, but we didn't figure them out until we were done, such as the addition of more confectioner's sugar (but careful on the amount added, as you don't want the fondant to crack) OR the addition of cornstarch (I really wish we had tried the cornstarch!). 


Friday, April 1, 2011

March 8, 2011 Recipe #6: Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Here's another great recipe from The 2011 Cookbook Challenge! Banana chocolate chip muffins - could this get any better?! Well yes it can! I added cinnamon (because when you have bananas, you have to have cinnamon - they just pair so well together!) and some shredded unsweetened coconut. Yummy! Even the non-vegans loved this recipe!

This muffin recipe called for unbleached all-purpose flour, but I decided to change it up a little bit. Instead, I used whole wheat pastry flour, which some people tend to use instead of all-purpose flour. It's definitely a healthier option! When making muffins, this substitution works great, but not for all recipes, especially cake/cupcake recipes (I'll fill you in on a future post). 

The addition of banana has two purposes in this recipe: 1) flavor and 2) binding of the ingredients to create a moist muffin (no one likes a dry muffin!). I used turbinado (raw) sugar rather than granulated sugar and there is a limited amount of vegetable oil. I happened to find nondairy semisweet chocolate chips at a health food store, which are quite yummy, and walnuts topped off this great muffin! Enjoy!

March 7, 2011 Recipe #5: Strawberry Cupcakes

It's about time I updated you on my 2011 Cookbook Challenge! Yes, I know... it has been too long and I broke my promise by screwing up the recipe order from the sequence originally generated. I have a good excuse though! I got stuck on a recipe that I wasn't in the mood to make at the time (it was one of those recipes better to make during the holidays...) so I procrastinated. And well, if any of you know me, I put the PRO in procrastination! UNTIL, I decided that the order didn't really matter, as long as I eventually did all of the recipes in The Joy of Vegan Baking before the end of the year. BUT, if I do happen to be clueless of what recipe I want to make next, I'll go back to my generated sequence and follow that. Deal?! LOL

Ok, enough about my kvetching....

Let's get to the topic of strawberry cupcakes!! Mmm, mmm, mmm....

While Mallory, Eric and Sloane were visiting, the Strawberry Festival happened to be in town, so we all went to check it out. Of course, we couldn't come home empty handed.... we brought back lots and lots of delicious strawberries!! Perfect for the strawberry cupcakes!

The cupcakes were amazing. I haven't always been huge on "fruity" baked goods but the amount of strawberries used in this recipe was just right! Sweet, not too fruity, and so delicious!

The strawberries were pureed in a food process before being added to the batter. The cupcakes were topped with a vegan buttercream frosting and a fresh strawberry! This recipe is a keeper! Let me know if you want this recipe - I'd be happy to share!