Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Chocolate brownie muffins

A long introduction is not necessary for this recipe—trust me, it will speak for itself. I enjoyed the cookies I made a couple weeks ago enough that I went searching for other Bethenny Frankel baked goods. Also on the Health Magazine website, I came across a recipe for Mariska Hargitay’s "guilt-free chocolate muffins." I made them as soon as the coconut cupcakes were gone, and I only altered a couple little things. Behold.

1 cup applesauce
1 tsp canola oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp almond extract (optional)
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp instant coffee granules (optional)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 8 cups of a muffin tin (or 16 cups of a mini-muffin tin) with paper liners and coat lightly with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine the applesauce, oil, sugar, and extracts. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and coffee.

Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and stir to combine. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups.

Bake for 20-22 minutes (16-18 minutes for minis). Let cool slightly in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Any kind of frosting on these would be preposterously unnecessary. They are so moist and gooey inside, they’re almost lava cake-esque. Using mini chocolate chips was a good idea, I think; since they disperse so evenly, you end up with a muffin that’s melty throughout, instead of just scattered with pockets of chocolate. I’m a big believer in applesauce in baked goods, but the moisture and tenderness of these completely blew me away. No one would ever guess these are vegan, let alone nutritious. They’re fast, easy, healthy, small-batch, and use ingredients you probably already have—what are you waiting for?! Go make them NOW! I promise you’ll fall in love.

Yield: 8 regular or 16 mini muffins. Per muffin (regular): 154 calories, 5g fat (2g sat), 30g carbs, 3g fiber, 2g protein.
Per muffin (mini): 77 calories, 2.5g fat (1g sat), 15g carbs, 1.5g fiber, 1g protein.

If you like this, you might also like...
Crème-filled German chocolate upside-down cake
Deep chocolate bundt cake
White chip brownies

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Curried tempeh-mango salad

This recipe caught my eye a week or two ago when I was flipping through Vegan with a Vengeance. Normally I’ll disregard anything with "salad" or "sandwich" in the name, since I dislike both (I know, I’m a strange one). This one gave me pause, though. Anything "curried" automatically belongs on my radar, and tempeh and mango are two things I love and don’t get to eat often enough. The fresh mango selection in Kansas is dismal, in my experience, but I had a can of mango slices in my pantry that I picked up a long time ago at World Market. I’m also a mayonnaise hater, but the Vegenaise in this recipe is minimal, and just serves to add a touch of creaminess to the sweet-sour dressing. If you don’t have (or don’t like) tempeh, this would be great with chickpeas.

For the salad:
8-oz. pkg tempeh
1T soy sauce
1 cup fresh or canned mango, chopped
1/4 cup chopped scallions

For the dressing:
3T Vegenaise
2T apple cider vinegar
Juice of 2 limes
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp sriracha
1/4 tsp salt

Tear the tempeh into bite-size pieces and place in small saucepan. Cover with water and add the soy sauce.

Cover the pot and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain and transfer the tempeh to bowl to cool. Meanwhile, chop the mango and scallions, and whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing.

Add the mango and scallions to the tempeh. Add the dressing...

...and mix well. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour (overnight is best) to allow flavors to meld.

Serve in split pita halves or with pita chips, and feel free to add extras such as lettuce, diced red onion, or additional chopped mango. This was sweeter overall than I expected (I’d probably leave out the sugar next time) but it played well off the tart lime and the pungent curry powder. It’s great for a sack lunch, an afternoon snack, or even (my favorite) a nutritious breakfast. I’m declaring it a keeper.

Yield 4 servings. Per serving (without pita): 235 calories, 9g fat (1.1g sat), 18g carbs, 4.2g fiber, 4.8g protein.

If you like this, you might also like...
Vegan biscuits and gravy
Tempeh bolognese

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Coconut heaven cupcakes

I’ve been on a baking bender lately. Hopefully nobody minds. I finally ordered Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World from Amazon last week, so in the meantime, I wanted to make some cupcakes from books I already have, since those recipes are likely to be ignored once I have a whole book of cupcakes to choose from. These are from Vegan with a Vengeance, and they gave me the chance not only to use more of the unsweetened coconut milk I’ve got, but also to break out the unsweetened shredded coconut I bought awhile back. These are pretty caloric, so I made some regular-sized cupcakes for friends and some minis for me. If you don’t have the refrigerated unsweetened coconut milk that I used, you can use canned coconut milk instead, it will just increase the fat and calorie content somewhat.

For the cupcakes:
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

For the frosting:
1/4 cup Earth Balance, softened
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin (or a 24-cup mini muffin tin) with paper liners. Spritz with cooking spray and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, coconut milk, sugar, and vanilla.

Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and whisk until smooth. Fold in 1 cup of unsweetened coconut. Fill each muffin cup about two-thirds full.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-22 minutes (18-20 for minis); the cupcakes should be slightly browned around the edges and spring back when touched. Remove from the muffin tin let cool on a wire rack.

Using an electric mixer or a whisk, cream the Earth Balance until light and fluffy. Add the coconut milk and vanilla and combine. Add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Fold in the unsweetened coconut, and refrigerate until ready to use.

Frost the cupcakes once they have cooled completely.

You can tell on the first bite that these babies are not "light" in any way. The coconut comes through loud and clear, lending the cake its dense chew. The rich, fluffy frosting is the perfect topper. These make a great (albeit once-in-awhile) treat for the coconut lover in your life.

Go ahead, indulge.

Yield: 12 regular or 24 mini cupcakes. Per cupcake (regular): 281 calories, 13.1g fat (5.4g sat), 41.1g carbs, 2.6g fiber, 2.1g protein.
Per cupcake (mini): 141 calories, 6.5g fat (2.7g sat), 20.5g carbs, 1.3g fiber, 1.1g protein.

If you like this, you might also like...
Cookies 'n cream cupcakes, take one and two

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Choc-oat banana walnut cookies

Some people shy away from recipes with flavor profiles that are too "busy." I, on the other hand, tend to be intrigued by such recipes, where the numerous main ingredients sound complementary on paper, but the only way to know if they really merge well is to try it and see. These cookies, peculiar as they are, receive a definite thumbs-up.

Randomly enough, these are apparently Susan Sarandon’s favorite cookies. I found the recipe in Health magazine, and changed a few things. I used whole wheat pastry flour in place of oat flour. For the oats, all I had were the quick-cooking kind, and they worked just fine. I reduced the oil a bit and replaced it with some applesauce to lower the fat a tad, but you can just use 1/3 cup canola oil if you don’t want to mess with the applesauce. I recently bought some of the new SoDelicious unsweetened coconut milk, and I’m loving using it in recipes. It’s a refrigerated product, and it’s not like what you get in the cans; it’s much thinner and lower-calorie (though using canned coconut milk could be yummy too). Feel free to use good old soymilk instead. Also, in retrospect, a spoonful of ground flaxseeds would have been a great addition to these.

One thing I wish the recipe had said is to pat down the cookies (or press them down with a fork) before baking. Mine remained ball-shaped. They still tasted great, but obviously lacked a little in the looks department. Other than that, though, the recipe is sound. Oh, and the cooking time is not a typo, believe it or not.

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup quick or old-fashioned oats
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
3T canola oil
Heaping 2T unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk (or soymilk)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 ripe banana, chopped into small pieces
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans)
1/3 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, applesauce, coconut milk or soymilk, and vanilla.

Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir to combine.

Fold in the banana, walnuts, and chocolate chips. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. Scoop the dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto the pan. These cookies won’t spread, so you can put them close together if you want. Do what I didn’t do and press them down lightly with your fingers or a fork before baking.

Bake for 25 minutes (yes, really) or until golden brown, turning the baking sheet halfway through. Let cool on a wire rack.

Fresh out of the oven, these are soft and chewy inside with just the slightest crust on the outside. After sitting overnight (in an airtight container), they become tender throughout. The oats and walnuts provide great texture, and the banana flavor comes through brightly but not overwhelmingly. The chocolate chips are a great extra burst of sweetness in an overall not-too-sweet cookie. These are interesting, unique, and delicious—I hope you try them and enjoy them as much as I did.

Yield: 16 cookies. Per cookie: 124 calories, 5.4g fat (1.2 sat), 18g carbs, 1.5g fiber, 2.2g protein.

If you like this, you might also like...
Chocolate peanut butter cookies
Chocolate chip cookies
Pumkpin oatmeal cookies

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Friday, May 8, 2009

(Lots of) April leftovers

I’ve got tons of tasty April leftovers to share, including some from very non-vegan restaurants. First up is a Gardenburger on focaccia with a side of black beans at Red Robin, a very meat-centric burger place.

Here’s yet another wonderful dish at Po’s—udon noodles, veggies, and tofu in a curry sauce. I’m still on my streak of trying something new every time I eat there, and I have not once been let down.

Here’s one from home, a particularly yummy (and pretty) bowl of cereal. Puffed kamut and Rice Krispies with strawberries, bananas, and blackberries.

Nick ate this pasta at Bulldog (as I ate the same hummus appetizer seen here). It’s linguine and broccoli drenched in garlicky olive oil.

Another trip to Flavor of India yielded aloo gobi (cauliflower and potatoes) for me and navarathan khorma (mixed veggies in cashew sauce) for Henry, paired with the famous bread basket.

At Noodles & Company, I ate the Bangkok curry noodles with a healthy squirt of sriracha.

I took Nick to Jack Stack Barbecue for his birthday. Jack Stack is quite an institution in KC, which as you know is a BBQ-obsessed city. American food is my least favorite genre of food, and barbecue is my most-disliked subgenre. (It’s the smoke. I can’t stand the taste of smoky things. And I don’t like BBQ sauce at all.) So anyway, this was a place where I expected it to be quite a challenge to find something that I would like and that would fill me up. It turns out they were very accomodating, and I got grilled asparagus, some delicious grilled corn (butter- and parmesan cheese-free) and some steak fries (I don’t normally eat fries, but this was a good time to make an exception). I enjoyed this meal immensely, which was a very pleasant surprise. I’d eat it again for sure. See, vegan at a barbecue restaurant—it can be done!

I ate at Rudy’s Taquería with Nanny and Jackie (grandma and friend). I got a vegetarian combination plate with a pinto bean taco, a grilled vegetable fajita, a pinto bean-rice-pico de gallo burrito, more rice on the side, and some mixed veggies. It was MASSIVE, and only $8.99!

I tried Pei Wei’s lo mein noodles with tofu, which I don’t think I’ve had before. Yum.

At Mezzaluna, an authentic little hole-in-the-wall Italian place, I had the spinach gnocchi in arrabbiata sauce. It was elegant and delightful.

At P.F. Chang’s, I ate the Buddha’s Feast (steamed) two weeks in a row. It’s so simple, but so good that I craved it again just days after eating it the first time.

And finally, I’m not much of a smoothie-as-a-meal person, because they don’t tend to fill me up, but this smoothie here is the best I’ve ever made. It’s 1/4 cup Fiber One (it grinds up fine enough to blend in), 1/2 cup vanilla soymilk, 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk, 1 banana, 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder, and a spoonful of ground flaxseeds, blended together with a big handful of ice. I don’t know what made this so scrumptious, but it really was tastier than anything I’ve had at a smoothie shop.

Past leftovers...

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Watermelon agua fresca

I’m jumping on the Cinco de Mayo bandwagon here. Sure, it’s about as meaningful a holiday in America as St. Patrick’s Day, but I am categorically in favor of any celebration where Mexican food is involved. Agua fresca is a simple and refreshing drink made with liquefied fruit combined with an acid and sometimes seeds, flowers, or other additives. It’s commonly sold at roadside stands in Mexico and Central America, and it's a great way to cool off on a hot day. I bet if you throw in some vodka, it could also make a killer cocktail.

2 1/2 lbs. seedless watermelon, cubed
1/4 cup superfine sugar, sugar, agave nectar, Splenda, etc.
Juice of 1 lime
1 cup ice cubes

Put everything in a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth. Complicated, I know.

Strain the mixture over a pitcher or carafe. If your strainer is like mine, it might take a few minutes to strain it all, but it’s worth it.

Serve in tall, frosty glasses, garnished with a slice of the lime if you like. It's sweet and summery, and makes the perfect foil for spicy Mexican food.

Yield: about 6 servings. Per serving: 91 calories, trace fat, 23g carbs, 1g fiber, 1g protein.

P.S.—If you're looking for something fast and festive to fix tonight, try what I did last night. In a large skillet or saucepan, combine 1 can chili beans (with sauce), 2 cans rinsed and drained black beans, 1 can rinsed and drained sweet corn (Mexi-corn would be great here), and 1 undrained can of diced tomatoes with green chiles. Add about a tsp of ground cumin, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp chili powder, and a pinch of cayenne pepper if you want it hot. If you'd like to include some fresh veggies, sauté up a chopped onion and green pepper before adding everything else to the skillet. Heat and serve with tortilla chips or warmed corn or flour tortillas, plus any other accompaniments you want, like salsa, soy sour cream, chopped avocado, etc. ¡Olé!

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