Sunday, May 29, 2011

Caramel Apple Muffin Tops

Not this last week, but actually the week before, I made Caramel Apple Muffin Tops out of 500 Vegan Recipes.  I have a muffin top pan that I swear I have never used to make muffin tops.  I used it to make hamburger buns and vegan Yorkshire pudding, but never actual muffin tops.  So, when I was searching for a muffin recipe to make before work one day and saw this recipe, I thought it was definitely a match.
The recipe calls for a sturdy apple, such as Granny Smith.  However, I only had a few Fuji apples in my fridge, so I used one of those.  The longest part of the process was making the caramel apples.
It took quite a while for the liquid to reduce into a thick caramel sauce.  If you think the apples look great in that picture above, let me tell you, they smelled heavenly!  I didn't have any Sucanat, but I did have some vanilla cinnamon sugar.  I used 2 teaspoons of that in place of the Sucanat.
The recipe makes 6 good sized muffin tops.  I will say that the muffin tops stay flat, though and don't look like much of a muffin top when they were done baking.  They looked more like a muffin pancake (see picture below).  The texture of the finished muffin top was a bit dry.  Perhaps that's because I didn't have any quick cooking oatmeal and used 1/2 cup (instead of 3/4 cup) of oat flour instead.  I probably should have upped the applesauce a little.  Whatever the reason, the muffin tops were not moist and crumbly, but dense and dry.
I could definitely taste the oats in the muffin, but the cinnamon and caramel flavors from the apple mixture was lost.  I thought the muffin tasted a bit bland, and I attribute that to having no spices in the muffin batter.  I think the depth of the caramel apple theme would have been deepened by adding spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom?) into the batter before the caramel apples were added.

Jordan liked the taste of the muffin batter, as evidenced below. :)  She was chasing that bowl across the floor to lick up every drop of the batter.  I had one leftover muffin top that I ate a couple of days later and it still tasted great.  (I stored it in a green box to keep it fresh.)  All I had to do was heat it up a bit and it was good to go. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Hot Sauce-Glazed Tempeh

Yesterday, I surveyed the contents of my refrigerator to see what I needed to use pronto.  I have portobella mushrooms that I still need to make into some delicious dish.  I also found a package of tempeh that needed to be used by May 20, 2011.  Since I have never used tempeh as a main dish, I decided to go for it.

I looked through a dozen cookbooks before deciding on Hot Sauce-Glazed Tempeh in Veganomicon.  (Find the recipe here.  Find the nutritional information here.) I served it with roasted Brussels sprouts and a baked potato with Earth Balance.  I wasn't sure what the tempeh would taste like, but the recipe was very simple.
First I cut the tempeh in half and then I cut each half diagonally to make triangles.  I boiled the tempeh for 10 minutes.  Next, I threw the ingredients together, added the tempeh, and let it marinate while I fixed everything else.  My tempeh isn't as dark as some of the other pictures I've seen, but I think that is because I used chardonnay for the wine instead of a red wine.  Also, I was feeling lazy, so I used reconstituted lemon juice in place of the fresh and 2 teaspoons of garlic powder in place of the crushed garlic cloves.

I grilled the tempeh on an indoor grill that cooks both sides at once for about 7 or 8 minutes.  It was very tasty.  I thoroughly enjoyed tempeh cooked this way.  I had enough left over so I had a quick dinner of tempeh and Brussels sprouts tonight.

I liked this dish so much that when I stopped at Whole Foods to pick up some So Delicious Creamer and Pleasant Morning Buzz coffee, I picked up another package of tempeh.  DEFINITELY, I will be making this again.  I'll also be trying the Smoky Grilled Tempeh in Veganomicon soon.  The recipe is here, but be forewarned that the name of the entry could be considered offensive if you are offended by profanity.  Just look down past the title.  :::smile:::

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Lazy Sunday Mornings

It's 11:34AM and I have just now popped the Applesauce-Oat Bran Muffins from Veganomicon in the oven.  My youngest son, Derek woke up at 10:30AM, which is a full hour ago.  This is surprising as my oldest son, David is still asleep.  He is usually the earlier riser.  David and I are normally waiting on Derek to wake up for Sunday morning breakfast or we have to wake Derek up when the food is done.  Not today.  Derek is awake and he and I planned out breakfast.
I offered waffles, but Derek said no.  Then, I offered to make the Lower-Fat Banana Bread Muffins from Veganomicon that I had made a couple of weeks ago.  Derek said definitely and could I add some chocolate chips? I said sure and began to gather ingredients. That's when I discovered that the bananas I thought I could use were a day past usable.  So, I went onto Plan B.  Plan B was to search through my cookbooks for another muffin.  All I had to do was look at the next page in Veganomicon and I found my recipe.  Amazingly enough, I had everything I needed, including whole wheat pastry flour.
I followed the recipe pretty closely.  I used almond milk instead of soy or rice milk.  I only had a half cup of unsweetened applesauce, so I used half unsweetened and half sweetened.  I only added about 1/4 cup of raisins (if that).  We are not big raisin eaters here.  I will admit that my tastes have changed since adopting a vegan diet and raisins taste better and sweeter to me now than they did when I ate the Standard American Diet.
I made 6 jumbo muffins sprinkled with large decorator sugar (for my sons).  Although the sugar and half cup of sweetened applesauce will add more calories to my muffins, these are a calorie bargain.  If I had made 12 muffins, they would be a scant 100 calories (see the nutritional information here).  I figure the 6 jumbo muffins are about 225 calories, which is actually much lower than the 352 calories the Low-Fat Banana Bread muffins sported.
The muffins smelled heavenly when they were baking.  And, they taste as good as they smell.  One test I use is how do my sons like them?  David is the picky eater, so I pay attention to him.  He went back for a second muffin.  The muffins passed the family-friendly test.  These are definitely a keeper and will be in my rotation of Sunday morning treats.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

For the Love of Gadgets and Sisters

I'm a gadget person.  Yes, I'll stand up and admit it before everyone.  I'm a gadget junkie.  Recently, I bought a microwave PC.  I have a regular PC, but the sales pitch of how it starts cooking in the microwave before it comes up to pressure lured me into getting one.  Of course, the day I received it, I HAD to try it out.

I made a recipe in the user guide that came with it.  It is Quick Mexican Rice and Beans.  I changed the recipe a bit.  I omitted the cheese and used brown rice instead of white, water instead of chicken stock, and cooked (from dry) black beans instead of red beans.  In essence, I had to veganize it.  Here's what I used:

1½ cups of long grain brown rice
2 cups of water
1 cup of salsa
1½ cups of black beans (cooked from dry)
½ teaspoon of cumin
½ teaspoon of chili powder
½ teaspoon of jalapeno flakes

I put it all into the microwave PC and cooked it for about 22 minutes total.  I let the pressure release naturally (took about 10 minutes).

I've been eating the rice all week, but the last few days, I made it into a wrap.  I bought Whole Grain Tortillas that had 13 gr. of fiber per tortilla.  I added Valentina Salsa Picante (the BEST Mexican hot sauce, I swear), shredded lettuce, 1 teaspoon of Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream, and a few (half dozen maybe) jalapeno slices.  It made a very tasty wrap!  I am sorry to say, I didn't get pictures of the rice or the wrap and now the rice is gone.  C'est la vie!

The second gadget I used this week was my Kindle.  I love my Kindle.  Period.  It is one of the best gadgets that I bought for myself.  However, I never use it to buy cookbooks.  I prefer paper cookbooks.  I like to look at the pictures, page through the cookbook, compare different recipes.  It's just easier to do with a paper cookbook.  That's what I thought before I bought a cookbook for my Kindle.  That's actually what I still think, but getting a cookbook on the Kindle isn't bad.

This week, I bought The Vegan Slow Cooker - Quick, Easy, Hot N Delicious for my Kindle.  It was a whopping $3.99.  It only has 20 recipes.  I was thinking it was a nice, little introduction to a cookbook on the Kindle.  I was right.  The Corn Chowder recipe caught my eye.  I've been looking for a good, no make that GREAT corn chowder recipe.  (This one is good, but I'm still looking.)

The funny thing about this cookbook is that it gives the on-top-of-the-stove directions and then, almost as an afterthought, gives slow cooker directions, if you even get them.  An example is the Amazing Lentil Stew states, "Would probably work in a slow cooker too."  I would NOT recommend this cookbook for slow cooker recipes.
The Corn Chowder recipe was pretty straightforward.  So, of course, I changed it to make it mine.  I didn't have any silken tofu, so I used extra firm tofu pureed with some unsweetened almond milk until smooth.  Also, I added about 1½ tablespoons of nutritional yeast.  I doubled the cumin and used dried thyme.

I used my absolute favorite chopping gadget, the Vidalia Chop Wizard.  I did not get mine at  I bought mine at Bed, Bath, & Beyond.  I believe Target also sells them.  The choppers are $19.99 at either place.  This recipe called for ¼" chop of the onion, celery, carrot, and potatoes.  I used the small grid for the veggies and every single piece was uniform in size and shape.  I LOVE that thing.  Takes only a few minutes to chop everything versus how long it would take by hand.  There is absolutely no comparison.

Personally, I didn't like the tofu in the soup.  Now, I'll admit that's probably because I used extra firm tofu.  It may have turned out much better if it was silken.  It didn't have a grainy texture, but it had a grainy appearance.  Perhaps that was from the nutritional yeast, but I doubt it.  I'm just not a big person on tofu in soup as a thickener.  Next time, I'll cook the broth down and just add unsweetened almond milk. 
The soup had a nice flavor, but I honestly can't see it reheating well.  It made a fairly big pot.  The recipe called for 5 cups of water or broth and I only used 4 cups.  However, there is way more than I could eat and I just can't see the grainy texture improving upon reheating.  We'll see though.  I'll let you know how that goes.

Tomorrow, I'll be making something with portabella mushrooms as I have 4 huge mushroom caps that I MUST use.  I also have some broccoli rabe and some Brussels sprouts to use up.  Looks like I'll be paging through my recipe books tonight and tomorrow morning.
For the Love of Sisters
Finally, I leave you with a picture of Kobe and Jordan that my son took today.  This picture perfectly captures For the Love of Sisters.  These two dogs, both adopted from the Animal Welfare League 18 months apart, are as close as sisters born in the same litter.  Even now, as I type, they are laying about 1½ feet apart.  Kobe wakes Jordan up in the morning and they go outside together.  They make my heart smile.  I thought I'd share one of the precious moments I get to experience.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Meatloaf Burgers and Jerk Roasted Veggies

Yesterday, I received three vegan cookbooks.  Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, The Best Veggie Burgers on the Planet by Joni Marie Newman, and Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.  (YES!!! I AM a vegan cookbook ho and damn proud of it! :)  Rarely will I pick recipes out of multiple new cookbooks to make for Sunday dinner, but I did just that today.

First, I made Jerk Roasted Veggies.  This is a variation of a recipe from Appetite for Reduction.  I took liberties with the Jerk Asparagus recipe in Appetite for Reduction.  The Jerk Asparagus recipe calls for asparagus (obviously) and sauteing the veggie on top of the stove.  I didn't use asparagus and I didn't saute my veggies.  I did use the spices in the recipe, but I used a 2 pound bag of broccoli, cauliflower, and baby carrots.  I upped the olive oil to 2 tablespoons and doubled the spices.  Then I roasted the veggies on a jelly roll pan in a 400ยบ oven for 40 minutes.  I stirred the veggies after 20 minutes.  They were extremely tasty.

The second thing I made was Meatloaf Burgers out of The Best Veggie Burgers on the Planet.  I followed the recipe pretty closely, but I also added a few spices from my meatloaf recipe that I made before I started a vegetarian, then vegan diet.  I added 1½ teaspoons of horseradish, 1½ teaspoons of vegan Worcestershire Sauce, and 1/4 teaspoon of celery salt.  My sons actually agreed to eat these burgers, so I wanted the burgers to taste closer to the way my meatloaf tasted.
First, I boiled some veggie broth and Tamari sauce.  Then I added 3 cups of TVP and let it sit while I measured the dry ingredients in a big bowl and sauteed the onion.

The burgers were pretty easy to pull together.  I used the fine dice grid for my Vidalia Onion Chopper to chop the onion before sauteing it.  The onion was all uniform little squares.
After the onions were translucent, I added them and the TVP to the dry ingredients, added the horseradish, celery salt, Worcestershire, and ketchup.  I kneaded the mixture for several minutes and then let it rest for 20 minutes.
I used my 30 year old Tupperware hamburger mold to make the burgers.  Gotta LOVE that thing.  It makes the most perfectly shaped burgers.  I threw the burgers into the oven and then removed them after 15 minutes and spread the tops of the burgers with ketchup.  I debated on whether I should use BBQ sauce instead, but my oldest son is not a BBQ fan, so I stuck with the ketchup.
I actually thought the ketchup would darken more than it did, but the bottom of the burgers were definitely done, so I couldn't leave these in the oven any longer.  Besides, they actually look good and ready to eat.  I'll eat mine with warmed up with the jerk roasted veggies I made.  I stuck a pan of Tater Tots in the oven for my sons.  Afterward, I'm sure they'll have a few brownies from the batch I baked up for them this afternoon.
Jordan and Kobe Bean
I'm leaving you with a shot of the girls. They just love to play.  This picture captures the intensity that they can have while fighting over a sock or other toy.  It never gets out of line, but they are funny.  Kobe's expression is priceless.  She's generally my more mild mannered dog that rolls with the punches.  Jordan is usually the hyper dog, but you can't tell that in this picture.  I just wanted to share because I love these girls. :)