Thursday, January 28, 2010

Pumpkin cheesecake swirl brownies

Last October, in the evening after my second marathon, I went to my friend Jo’s Halloween party. Another friend, Teresa, had brought a pan of pumpkin swirl brownies. They looked scrumptious, but until I tasted them, I had no idea just how scrumptious they would be—decadently moist and devastatingly flavorful, they were far and away my favorite treat of the night. I couldn’t stay away from them! I asked Teresa for the recipe, and she graciously obliged, so I made a veganized batch of them that very next week to take to my friend Rachel’s Halloween party. You know, to keep the party-dessert-karma train going.

I know it’s not anywhere near Halloween anymore, or even Thanksgiving or Christmas, but I don’t care how many weeks ago the holiday season ended—I love pumpkin year-round!

For the pumpkin layer:
6 oz. vegan cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup firm silken tofu (like Mori-Nu)
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp all-purpose (or WWP) flour
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

For the brownie layer:
1/2 cup (1 stick) Earth Balance, melted
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup firm silken tofu (like Mori-Nu)
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8-inch square baking pan. In a food processor (or a good blender, or with a sturdy hand whisk), combine all pumpkin layer ingredients.

Process together until smooth, then transfer to a small bowl.

Clean out the food processor, then add the melted margarine, applesauce, sugar, and vanilla.

Process until smooth, then add the tofu (half at a time) and process to combine.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, cocoa, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Pour the margarine-tofu mixture into the dry ingredients and fold together until just combined.

Spread about 2/3 of the brownie batter into the prepared pan. Gently pour the pumpkin mixture on top and spread evenly. (Sorry bout the blur here.)

Drop the remaining brownie batter by spoonfuls over the pumpkin layer. Swirl together with a knife.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until center is set. Cool completely on a wire rack.

I was so pleased at how well the tofu stood in for egg, and in my opinion, the ratio of chocolate to pumpkin was perfect. Cut into cute little bite-size pieces, these made great party food. (Nevermind the fact that only half of them actually made it to the party!) I can’t wait to bake these again.

Yield: 16 brownies or 36 brownie bites. Per brownie (16): 183 calories, 9.3g fat (3g sat), 23.8g carbs, 2g fiber, 2.6g protein.
Per brownie bite (36): 81 calories, 4.1g fat (1g sat), 10.6g carbs, 1g fiber, 1.2g protein.

If you like this, you might also like…
Pumpkin chocolate chip cupcakes w/cinnamon glaze
White chip brownies
Pumpkin oatmeal cookies

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Roasted potatoes w/garlic-cumin aioli

I love breakfast potatoes. (Though I’ve told the story before, I’ll remind you again that I’ve even sleep-talked about them.) Hash browns, O’Briens, home fries—any non-mashed spud served in the A.M. is a winner with me.

That said, they certainly don’t have to be served only in the morning. Inspired by a dinner at La Bodega, a KC tapas restaurant at which I have only had the pleasure to eat once (so far), I cooked up the roasted potatoes from Vegan Brunch and topped them with a made-up-on-the-spot aioli tinged with cumin and garlic. The restaurant meal was so good that even I, a mayo-hater, fell in love, and my homemade version totally lived up to the original.

For the potatoes:
2 1/2 lbs. yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and rinsed
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
Black pepper to taste

For the aioli:
6 Tbsp Vegenaise
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp garlic paste (or 1 garlic clove, minced)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp ground turmeric
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line an 11x17-inch baking sheet with parchment paper (or grease with cooking spray). Slice the potatoes in half lengthwise and then cut into 3/4-inch pieces. Place on the baking sheet and drizzle with the oil. Use your hands to toss and coat the potatoes in the oil, then sprinkle with salt.

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, then remove and flip the taters with a spatula (no need to be perfect, just get most of them turned over).

Return to the oven for 10-15 minutes, till lightly but thoroughly browned outside. Season with black pepper and additional salt to taste.

Meanwhile, make the aioli.

In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients. Easy! Add a teaspoon or two of water to thin it out if you want.

Serve the potatoes hot, drizzled with the aioli. The spice and zing of the sauce plays perfectly off the earthy potatoes. Now that’s what I call breakfast (or lunch, or dinner)!

Yield: 6 servings. Per serving: 270 calories, 13.8g fat (1g sat), 29.7g carbs, 3.5g fiber, 4.7g protein.

If you like this, you might also like…
Roasted potato wraps w/black bean hummus
Chickpea lentil slow-cooker stew
Curried tempeh-mango salad

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Random 2009 leftover madness

If you think I didn’t cook or bake during those 3 months I spent writing about Europe, I’m here to tell you I did! A lot, in fact; I just didn’t take step-by-step pics or save recipes because I knew I could never write about it all. Here are some highlights.

I made cheezcake brownies and topped them with a white chocolate spread I bought in Greece.

Coconut ice cream! I don’t use my homemade ice cream maker nearly enough. I made this with coconut milk and soy creamer.

These white chocolate chip-peanut butter swirl blondies came out so good that I never even remembered to take a post-baking pic.

Something savory: an improvised spinach-walnut pesto (cheeseless, of course) that turned out great. I think I still have some of this in my freezer; I’m going to have to break that out soon.

These are some crispy chocolate oat bars I made for a party.

More party treats: simple-but-tasty applesauce-golden raisin-oatmeal cookies.

Even more party food: Lichtenauer family brownies. It’s my grandma Nanny’s recipe.

I am the blondie queen! These chewy butterscotch blondies were, again, so good that I forgot to take a picture after cutting them.

A deep chocolate snack cake. I dusted this with powdered sugar before serving.

Lentil taco salad! I got the recipe from Runner’s World. I LOVED this. I will definitely be making it again; I may even have to re-blog about it.

In October, Matt took me to Phantom’s Feaste, which is a post-Renaissance Festival, "spooky" late-night stage show with wine and snacks served. I had a couple glasses of Merlot, some table peanuts, and some tortilla chips, but needless to say, I wasn’t interested in the cheese dip and chicken wings they served. An inquiry to our kind waitress produced this giant platter of celery, red bell pepper, crackers, and a ton of grapes! It made awesome finger food to accompany the show.

Finally, here is one last moist, chocolatey brownie. And I’ve barely even touched on my blondie-and-brownie kick—in addition to all the ones you see here, I must have baked at least half a dozen more!

If you like this, you might also like…
August leftovers
July leftovers
June leftovers

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Monday, January 11, 2010

No-bake PB-choc-oat cookies

Oh, I see, you thought I was going to start out the new year with a totally wholesome, healthy, guilt-free recipe? Not quite, although there’s really no need to feel guilty about eating these. The fiberful whole grain oats, monounsaturated peanut butter fats, and antioxidant-packed cocoa make up for the sugar and vegan margarine. They’re also super-quick and -easy, and the instant gratification factor is high since no baking is required.

My good friend Brandon shared this recipe with me, and challenged me to make it vegan but keep the awesome taste that got him addicted to making these. I am happy to report that I succeeded, and earned his characteristically difficult-to-acquire seal of approval.

1 stick (1/2 cup) Earth Balance
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup soymilk
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 Tbsp vanilla
3 cups quick oats

Line a large baking sheet with wax paper. In a medium saucepan, bring margarine, sugar, cocoa, and soymilk to a boil. Cook and stir for 1 minute 30 seconds.

Stir in peanut butter, vanilla, and oats.

You can either drop by spoonfuls onto the waxed paper, or dump the whole mess on there and spread it out like a cookie pizza.

Let cool at least slightly before slicing and munching. The longer you wait, the more solid they will become. If you just can’t help yourself (we couldn’t), be prepared for a slightly sticky and pliable cookie experience. Not that there’s anything at all wrong with that.

Yield: 24 servings. Per serving: 174 calories, 7.3g fat (1g sat), 25.6g carbs, 2g fiber, 3g protein.

If you like this, you might also like…
Peanut butter chocolate cookies
Choc-oat banana walnut cookies
Peanut butter bliss cake

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Almost vegan in the news!

Hi everyone! I hope you’re all enjoying 2010 as much as I am so far. I’m taking a few days off from blogging after all those Europe posts, but I had to drop in to share this—I was featured in an article in the Food section of the Kansas City Star yesterday!

I actually did the interview and the photoshoot a few weeks ago, but kept it quiet up till now to surprise people. I explained my food philosophy, described some of my experiences in Europe, and shared my three-bean chili recipe. Click here for the online article, or click the image below for a scan of the actual paper.


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