31 October 2011

vegan mofo - the end! chocolate pumpkin cupcakes

it's the end of vegan mofo {aka the vegan month of food} 2011!  what a month it's been.  i have logged so many enjoyable hours discovering new blogs & getting to know some new amazing folks in the vegan community.  my google reader is so full every morning now and i love catching up over my morning coffee.  not to mention, i've had so much fun with my "cupcakes or kale" theme.  i think some new readers have found me this month too {hello there!!} which is wonderful.  i hope you say hello soon if you haven't yet!

without further ado, here is my final post for mofo this year.  i'm finishing it off with cupcakes because i love them.  and they contain pumpkin.  i love pumpkin and have been looking forward to some pumpkin cupcakes for a while now.  it's probably a little late to call this a halloween recipe because everyone had their parties this past weekend, but if you have friends dropping in tonight to help with trick or treaters these would be great.

{cupcakes, naked}

{chocolate pumpkin cupcakes}

this cake is light and fluffy with the slightest hint of pumpkin and spice.  i couldn't wait for them to cool and ate one up warm from the oven.  they're also a great naked cupcake.

chocolate pumpkin cupcakes with half the sugar frosting
adapted from VCTOTW's pumpkin chocolate chip cupcakes
makes one delicious dozen
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup sunflower oil
1 cup organic cane sugar
1/4 cup almond milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

preheat your oven to 350f.  combine the pumpkin, oil, sugar, milk & vanilla in a large bowl and mix well to combine.  in another bowl sift together the remaining ingredients.  add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and combine until no lumps in the batter remain.  the batter will be just a bit thicker than standard cupcake batter because of the pumpkin puree.  scoop batter into a liners in a muffin tin and bake for 20-24 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  wait until fully cooled and then ice.

half the sugar vanilla frosting
1/4 cup earth balance vegan margarine
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp powdered sugar
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tsp almond milk
1/4 tsp each cinnamon & nutmeg

whip up the earth balance and incorporate the sugar, flour, milk & spices.  ice cooled cupcakes as you please.  this batch of frosting is a lot smaller than what i normally ice my cupcakes with, but given that it's halloween and we're all bound to be snacking on vegan candy, i thought less was more here.  plus you get to focus on the super moist chocolate pumpkin cake this way too.

ashlae gave me the idea to cut my frosting with a bit of all purpose flour.  this adds some body to the frosting, cutting the amount of sugar needed to stiffen it up.  genius.  the frosting is still sweet but shouldn't give you a toothache if you eat 2 cupcakes in a row.  not that i would know from personal experience or anything...

{distracted by awesome pumpkin stem curls}

{cupcakes, frosted}

{cupcakes, queued}

{happy halloween}

congrats to all the mofo bloggers out there!  this cupcake's for you.

27 October 2011

chocolate kale chips

alright.  i went for it.  i turned my kale into dessert.

actually, i pretty much just dipped it in chocolate.  you heard me.  chocolate.  

{chocolate + kale}

{chocolate kale chips}
and you know what?  it's all kinds of awesome.

i tried chocolate kale chips only once before.  last year m attended a chocolate show in town that i couldn't make it to and he brought me home a bag of raw, chocolate kale chips.  yeah, i swooned  a little bit.  they were really awesome and came out in big chocolatey clusters.  i remember them having a great hint of coconut too.  and my memory serves me, these are a pretty close match.  if i do say so myself.

chocolate kale chips
this made enough for 2 big leaves of kale, enough to fill one cookie sheet.
2 tbsp virgin coconut oil
4 tsp agave nectar
3 tbsp raw cacao powder 
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp chia seeds
2 tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut
kale {i used purple kale}

first remove the kale from its stem in bite-sized pieces, wash and pat dry.  to prepare the chocolate coating.  melt the coconut oil in a small dish.  i did this by sitting the dish in another bowl of hot water and stirred it gently, sort of like a cheaters double boiler.  alternatively,  you could always use a microwave.  once the coconut oil has warmed to a liquid, stir in the vanilla and agave.  then whisk in the the cacao powder making sure there are no lumps.  fold in the chia seeds and the coconut.

now you're ready to coat those pieces of kale!  i used my hands to make sure that i got chocolatey goodness in all the little curls of the leaves.  but if you're not into that you can use a spatula.  no judgment here if you're tidy like that.

spread the leaves on a cookie sheet lined with a piece of parchment paper, making sure that none are touching.  cooking times are going to vary based on your oven and how much coating is on the kale.  somewhere between 40-50 minutes at 225f should do it.  for mine i took them out after 25 minutes, flipped them over and put them back in the oven for 15 minutes more.  if you have a quirky oven, just hang close and check on your kale chips every 10 minutes to keep them from burning.  alternatively, use your dehydrator and keep it raw!

then eat your kale.  FOR DESSERT.  wow.


{oh yes}

m thought the whole chocolate + kale thing was maybe a bit too far out.  until he snuck one of the pan before i could snap a photo and his eyes lit up.  maybe sometimes far out turns out to be just what you need.

{purple kale}

also, i just want to give the gorgeous purple kale a little love - look at it!  isn't it beautiful?  and i love the bright green of the inner stem peeking through.  this kale comes to you from my final csa delivery of the year.  i'm so thankful to be involved in a great farm share and am looking forward to next june's first arrival already!  but thankfully i've got a whole lot of squash and pumpkins and carrots & potatoes to tide me over for a good while.

shared at diet, dessert and dogs wellness weekend.

26 October 2011

cheesy green cornbread muffins

i can't believe october is nearly over.  that means i've only got a few more vegan month of food posts ahead of me with the theme of cupcakes or kale.  i've got some sweet ideas for my final two posts - fingers crossed things turn out!

this morning we're digging into these cheesy, green cornbread muffins.  they're nice and savoury which i love and i've been nibbling on one as is, but i imagine they'd be an awesome addition to a big bowl of chili.  

{cheezy green cornbread muffins}

i love that these muffins are gluten-free too without even trying.  go corn, go! 

cheesy green cornbread muffins 
makes 9 small muffins
1 cup non dairy milk {i used unsweetened soy}
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1/4 cup oil {i used sunflower}
1/2 cup corn meal
3/4 cup corn flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegan cheese, grated {i used cheddar daiya}
3/4 cup kale chiffonade
1/4 cup fresh basil chiffonade
1/2  a small hot chili, minced *optional

mix the milk & vinegar in a large measuring cup and set aside to curdle.  meanwhile, mix together the corn flour, cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  whisk the oil into the milk and then add to the dry ingredients, mixing well to blend.  gently fold in the vegan cheese shreds, kale, basil and chilies if using. 

scoop mixture into greased muffin tins and bake for about 22-24 minutes at 350f, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

{cornbread, in the making}

{basil, measured} 

{cornbread, waiting}

{cheesy green goodness}

oh i do love savoury muffins... in fact, the only time i think i'll go for sweet + cornbread is on christmas morning, when i'll douse a vegan version of my grandma's johnny cake with syrup.

what about you and cornbread?  sweet or savoury?

25 October 2011

5 minute kale with peanut sauce & maple glazed tempeh

how do you make even the most picky eaters eat their greens?  with a quick 5-minute peanut sauce.

we ate this up today with maple-glazed tempeh - the same recipe i used for our vegan thanksgiving dinner.  a few readers had asked for it, so i've included that recipe too.  i think you'll be pleasantly surprised to see just how easy it is as well!

{5 minute kale with peanut sauce}

are you ready to hear how quick this kale & peanut sauce was?  first i lightly steamed a bunch of purple kale that i'd washed.  then i made my super quick spicy peanut sauce {you can find the original post here}.  then i poured the sauce on the kale.  could a warm lunch really be any easier?

5 minute kale with peanut sauce
1 bunch of kale
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp rice vinegar
3 tbsp tamari
1/3 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp sriracha, or more to taste {i used 2}

to make the quick and easy spicy peanut sauce,  combine the sesame oil, rice vinegar and tamari in a small saucepan and warm over medium low heat.  add in the peanut butter and stir gently as it softens and melts.  add the water a bit at a time as need be until the sauce has reached a smooth consistency.  continue to stir is as it simmers and thickens for 3 or 4 minutes.  add some or all of the sriracha (alternatively another chili sauce or dried chili flakes) to create as much heat as you like.

maple glazed tempeh
1/2 block tempeh
1.5 tbsp tamari
1.5 tbsp pure maple syrup
1/2 tbsp oil for frying

first things first, steam the tempeh for 15 minutes in a covered pot about an  inch or two of water.  {don't skip this step!  it's really important if you want to cut the bitterness.  and trust me when i say you want to cut the bitterness.}  then cut your tempeh and marinate it in the maple-tamari mixture, flipping once or twice.  let the tempeh sit in this for at least an hour, but ideally for a few hours or even overnight.*

heat a little bit of oil in a skillet and fry the tempeh, adding another splash of marinade to the pan.  cook for 4-5 minutes on each side until browned.  the syrup will caramelize a bit so if things get too sticky, you can always add a little bit of water to deglaze the pan.  devour along with steamed kale topped with peanut sauce.

*for our thanksgiving i prepped mine in the marinade the day before and it was to nice to have it ready to cook up just before eating.

{lunch for the picky}


really, i can't imagine anyone not liking this dish.  if you or someone you love has a nut allergy then i'd suggest making the peanut sauce with tahini instead.  i've made it with tahini using only a 1/4 cup instead of the 1/3 of a cup and it was awesome.

in other news, i decided to start up a facebook page for cupcakes and kale.  so lovely readers, if you'd like to follow along and stay connected with me in the land of facebook, you can find my page here and "like" it.  because we all like being liked, don't we :)

24 October 2011

caldo verde

it's soup season.  the leaves have fallen, sweaters & toques have been pulled out and a cold drizzle fills the air today.  perfect weather for soup.  this recipe is based on a traditional portuguese caldo verde, or green soup.  there seem to be lots of variations around, but they almost always include potatoes, onions & kale.  sounds good to me. 

portuguese caldo verde based on this recipe
serves 4-6
olive oil
2 onions
1 or 2 cloves of garlic
4-6 potatoes {about 4 cups once peeled and sliced}
6 cups water or broth*
1 - 2 tbsp bragg's liquid aminos
1 1/2 veggie sausage {i used tofurky tofu beer sausages}
1 cup packed kale, shredded
sea salt

dice the onion & garlic and saute in 3 tablespoons of olive oil  with a couple generous pinches of sea salt until the onions are softened, but not browned.  add in the sliced potatoes and continue to saute another 5 minutes, stirring all the while.  pour in the water or broth, bring the pot to a boil and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes. 

while the soup simmers, slice the veggie sausage into disks and fry it up in the last tablespoon of oil.  add the sausage & the kale to the soup.  season with bragg`s and cook until the potatoes are fork tender.  serve or wait until later and reheat to serve.  either way this is tasty!   i opted to leave the potatoes as they were, even though i think they`re supposed to be mashed up in the traditional soup.  i do love thick blended soups but there's something to be said for a hot broth with lots of goodies to be scooped up.

*if you opt to use broth instead of the water, go easy on the salt when softening the onions to start, and you might want to skip the bragg's altogether so that the soup isn't so salty that it's inedible.  

while i can't vouch for its authenticity given that i've never had the real deal, i can tell you that this soup got two big thumbs up from m who said, "that's up there.  number one of your soups."  thanks honey. 

and i'll leave his accolades as is, because i'm sure if i get into how he went on to say that the soup could even be made with chips (um, yeah - as in potato chips) you might not heed his advice to make this yourself.

so let's just pretend i didn't mention that last part.

i'm having a hard time understanding how october is nearly through!  this week marks the last of vegan mofo and also my last week of posting kale and cupcake recipes - hopefully you're not sick of kale yet!  i've got a few more yummy things in the works for this week and i'm going to try for something special for fridays post...

21 October 2011

kale & avocado salad with chickpeas

i've been craving a big bowl of creamy avocado and crunchy kale since i saw this recipe for a nice filling kale salad posted on sketch-free vegan eating last week.  it's really simple and has 2 of my favourite things: kale and avocado.

sadly we {mostly me} mowed through our kale supply by the end of last weekend so i had to wait until our csa delivery this week to stock up again.

wednesday evening we stocked up.  and then we feasted.

{guaca kale salad}

m & i both loved this up a lot.  it was quite filling for a kale salad too thanks to the healthy avocado fats & the protein-rich chickpeas.  the original post where the idea came from didn't have any measurements {and it's a salad so really you don't need any}, but i've included mine here in case you want try this out yourself and like a guide to follow.  this salad is pretty awesome.

kale & avocado salad with chickpeas based on the idea from sketch-free vegan eating
kale {2 or 3 stalks}
1/2 cup chickpeas
1/2 avocado
1/3 cup salsa {i used salsa verde}
sea salt
drizzle of olive oil

wash and pat dry the kale.  remove the greens from the stalks and spine and tear into bite-sized pieces.  drizzle lightly with olive oil and massage for a couple minutes until tender.  add the chickpeas {if using canned chickpeas, drain and rinse them first}.  in a small bowl, mash up the avocado with the back of a fork along with the salsa and salt to taste.  add this creamy dressing to the kale and toss well to coat.  enjoy!


{kale love}

i'm looking forward to heading out tonight for a night of dancing at our local watering hole - a fundraiser for a friend's dance company, and also to getting in a nice long run.  any big plans for you?

happy weekend!

shared at diet, dessert and dogs' wellness weekend.

20 October 2011

thank you & blog love

wow, thank you 4 fold to cynthia, allysia, caitlin & rachael!

i'm touched to have gotten some recognition from these lovely bloggers this week {and i'm so sorry that i've been a bit slow to reciprocate}.  "liebster" is german & translates to dearest or beloved and can also mean favourite.  {i'm having grade 10 german class flashbacks.  gutentag herr koeppe.  whoa.}  this is a little award to bring attention to lesser known blogs.   it's just another lovely thing during this vegan month of food.

when you receive a liebster you're meant to:
~ show your thanks to those who gave you the award by linking back to them.
~ reveal 5 of your top picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
~ post the award on your blog.
~ enjoy the love and support of some wonderful people!

technically the blogs chosen are meant to have less than 200 followers.  but some bloggers don't have counters on their sites and i'm not going to leave them out because of that.  because i think they're awesome.  just  sayin'.  

so today i'd like to pass this on to the following fine folks:
kaitlyn @ tie dye files for her pumpkin pancake recipe that's been filling my belly this month.

{pumpkin pancakes}

ashlae @ oh ladycakes for day after day of pumpkin amazingness.  and gorgeous photographs.  seriously.

{pumpkin hand pies}

sarah @ winged snail has inspired me to try baking bread.  how can i not when she's got a recipe for saurkraut rye?

{rye with saurkraut}

cold and sleepy cooks has made me want to learn the alphabet all over again.  her way.

{r is for rosemary}

nikki at fresh young coconut for making me want more raw in my life.

{pumpkin parfaits}

and katie @ not your parents granola for a kale salad that won over meat-eaters at my vegan thanksgiving dinner and for encouraging me to make toffee bars on a wednesday night. 

{creamy kale salad}

okay, so that might be six new favourites instead of five.  i'm sure i could have gone on to twenty though.  xo all around.  i hope you've been discovering some new favourites too!

19 October 2011

apple & salted caramel cupcakes

here's the cupcake dose for the week! 

when i saw this recipe & ridiculously gorgeous photos for a salted date caramel recently, i knew that i wanted to try it out and work it into a cupcake.  and raw date caramel is way more approachable than the traditional caramel that requires boiling sugar. { i scare easily when it comes to making candy.}  since i still had a few organic macoun apples that a friend had given me last week, i decided apple & salted caramel cupcakes were the way to go. 

{apple inspiration}

these cupcakes have more components than i usually bother with, but they were pretty tasty so i'd say they're worth it.  both the apple filling & the caramel can be made in advance too.

i made these yesterday to take to a dinner meeting and wanted to make them gluten free so that everyone could enjoy them.  this is only my 3rd time giving gf cupcakes a go and i'm really happy with how they've turned out.  i'm still not ready to venture into mixing & matching flour blends myself, so i'm sticking with pre-fab gluten free flour mixes for now.

{gluten free caramel apple cupcakes}

apple & salted caramel cupcakes
pt 1 {gluten free cinnamon cupcakes}
makes one dozen
1 cup non-dairy milk {i used unsweetened soy}
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup sunflower oil
3/4 cup organic cane sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 cup gluten free flour blend {i used bob's red mill}
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 heaping tsp cinnamon

preheat your oven to 350f.  mix together the milk and vinegar in a large bowl and set aside to curdle a few minutes.  add in the oil, sugar and vanilla and mix until well combined.  into a separate bowl sift and combine the dry ingredients.  add the dry to the wet and mix until just smooth. {i noticed that the consistency of the wet batter was different than the batter i'm used to and i'm guessing this can be attributed to the gluten free flour... it was thick and 'gummy'.}

i resisted the urge to add more liquid {because of the gumminess of the batter} and instead i scooped the batter into a muffin tin filled with liners.  tap the muffin tin a few times on the counter top to level out the batter in each liner and bake for 20-24 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  allow the cupcakes to cool completely before adding filling & icing.  {this is longer than my cupcakes usually take - again because of the gf flour maybe?  mine took almost 24 minutes to bake.}

pt 2 {apple filling}
this was really just a thickened apple sauce and i didn't measure {oops!}... but here is what i used:
2 small apples, about 1 cup total
a couple splashes of apple cider
a big pinch of cinnamon
a few spoonfuls of brown sugar
a sprinkle of organic cornstarch

peel and chop up the apples and cook them down in a small sauce pan with some cinnamon, brown sugar, and apple cider.  add a bit of organic corn starch to thicken the mixture.  this is going inside the cupcakes so you don't want it to be too runny and lead to soggy cupcakes.  {that would just be too sad.}

pt 3 {salty medjool caramel} i used vanessa's amazing recipe found here
blend the following:
8 medjool dates, rinsed, soaked & pitted
6 tbsp water
6 tbsp soymilk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla 
1/2 tsp salt

pt 4 {caramel vanilla buttercream}
1/4 cup earth balance vegan butter
1/4 cup earth balance shortening
2 1/2 cups icing sugar
2 tbsp salty medjool caramel
1 1/2 tbsp soy milk

whip the earth balance butter & shortening and incorporate the caramel.  add in the sugar and soy milk a bit at a time, mixing as you go along until you reach a consistency and flavour you're happy with.  {lucky you, that means tasting as you go!}  you can use electric beaters or a stand mixer here, but you can also do it by hand - i always make my buttercreams with a fork!

{cupcakes, cooling}

{cupcake, coned}

{cupcake, filled}

{cupcake, iced}

{finished with caramel}

{macoun & medjool}
to assemble the cupcakes, cut a cone out of the centre of each cupcake with a small pairing knife and discard.  and by discard i mean eat.  fill the hole with a teaspoon of apple filling, and ice the top to cover.  drizzle with date caramel.  nosh away.  they're very "fall" & would be great with a cup of warm mulled cider.  although last night they were just perfect with some apple cider shandies.  {thanks p & l!}

my favourite part of this whole process might just be the leftover date caramel.  it's so good.  i think i'm going to need some more apples to eat the rest up.  although a spoon would probably cut it.

18 October 2011

scrambled tofu & greens

i'm kind of a closet fan of brunch.  i was never the biggest fan of going out for breakfast or brunch after a big night out, but that mostly had to do with the destination - sitting in a cafe that stinks of bacon & eggs is more than somewhat unappealing.  but whenever we're visiting somewhere that has a vegan brunch spot i'll be there in a heartbeat.  because i love a good tofu scramble.  savoury for breakfast is where it's at.

this weekend i cooked up an awesome scramble for sunday brunch that was heavy on the greens.  i used kale (of course) and some peppery arugula, but if you don't like arugula, maybe try some baby spinach in it's place.  i love arugula {also known as rocket} and it's tender leaves & bitter bite.

{scrambled tofu & greens}

scrambled tofu & greens
serves 2
1/2 454g pkg extra firm organic tofu
2-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 cup kale
1 cup arugula
sea salt & pepper to taste

heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan and saute the onions over medium-high heat until softened.  crumble the tofu into the pan, sprinkle with turmeric and continue to cook.  add more oil if you need it (sometimes the tofu tends to soak up a lot) and season with salt & pepper.  fold the kale (chopped and stems removed) into the tofu to cook for a few minutes.  right before serving add the arugula too just to wilt.  serve with a side of multigrain toast smothered in earth balance vegan butter. 

{savoury brunch}


i'll say it again, savoury brunch is where it's at.  bring on the weekend.  again.

17 October 2011

monday & a roundup

i'm still a bit full, and my heart is still bursting with gratitude after a lovely evening last night.  a close friend of my mother in law's had m & i over for dinner and prepared for us a 4 course vegan meal.  it was amazing.  {and marked the hostesses first time preparing tempeh!

we started with hummus & baba ganoush over sparkling wine.  then we sat down to a soup - a belly-warming puree of carrots & leeks with freshly grated nutmeg.  following that our main course was a plate of crispy potatoes, a carrot saute, wilted swiss chard and orange-glazed tempeh.  oh and all of the vegetables were homegrown out at camp.  {for any readers who are not from northern ontario, camp = cottage.}  we were all so stuffed after dinner, but still managed to scarf down some apple-cranberry crisp.

i'll say it again, my heart runneth over for such a beautiful meal shared with family & friends.  my only regret is that i forgot my camera at home, so you'll have to take my word for it.

today i thought i'd share a wrap-up of all of the kale recipes i've cooked up so far this month.

first there was a tangy kale & cilantro pesto that got turned into a quick pizza.

  then there were sour cream & onion kale chips.  next time i will be making a full batch.

 quick and delicious ginger sesame soba with kale got us fed & out the door on time.

 fall flavours were showcased in this apple-walnut kale salad with maple cider dressing.

 creamy kale salad was gobbled up at our vegan thanksgiving dinner.

 i couldn't get enough of this clean out the fridge asian-inspired kale slaw.

and finally, this creamy bowl of cauliflower alfredo with kale & sundried tomatoes had me wanting to curl up by a fire.  this will definitely be made again.

this week, look out for more kale recipes!  i'll be taking some inspiration from around the vegan month of food blogosphere.  and there might be some caramel apple cupcakes too.