Friday, November 30, 2012

Dessert: Pumpkin Peanut Butter Cups

Inspired by Chocolate Covered Katie's Pumpkin Pie Peanut Butter Cups, but not liking the result of making hers here is my own version of Pumpkin Peanut Butter Cups. By the way, now that I know the basics of how to make homemade peanut butter cups (and it isn't hard), I will be making them to my heart's delight!

12 oz semi-sweet chocolate (or your favorite chocolate)

For filling:
1/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Melt 12 oz chocolate over water. Fill only the very bottom of 12 lined cupcake pans with melted chocolate. Freeze 8-10 minutes. 
  2. Meanwhile, mix together remaining filling ingredients. Scoop evenly into the chocolate bottoms, leaving room at the edges. 
  3. Cover with more chocolate and freeze until solid.
  4. Keep frozen, as with Reese's (R) Peanut Butter Cups, these are best that way.

Other details:

  • Use the chocolate you like most. You can sweeten the chocolate with a little sugar or other sweetener. A liquid sweetener, such as maple syrup or agave is acceptable. Add 1 tablespoon at a time. Watch the chocolate's consistency.
  • If the filling looks familiar, it's from Peanut Butter Pumpkin Dip.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sweet Potato Sandwich Spread

I'm not much of a sauce or spread person. But, since becoming vegan, I have embraced it a little more. Making your own spreads at home really helps. I'll add some notes at the bottom, about specific use and taste, but let me just say that when I spread this on a roll, added Tofurky, grape tomatoes, spinach, and a bit of Daiya Mozzarella-style shreds, I had one of the best sandwiches ever. All those flavors really melded together with the sandwich spread. The spread is okay on its own or just spread on bread or crackers, but it shines in a full-on sandwich.

I am a fan of Finding Vegan and saw the recipe originally posted through their site. This is a The Family Kitchen recipe. The recipe below is exactly how I made it.

1 large baked sweet potato, flesh only (producing about a cup)
1/2 cup walnuts
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
pinch fresh ground pepper
2 tsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp canola oil


  1. Blend all ingredients in a Vitamix, blender or food processor until smooth.

Other Details

  • Makes about 1 cup
  • Original Recipe
  • I think the original recipe used yams (based on the color of orange in the photo). Yams and sweet potatoes are often considered interchangeable. I baked my sweet potato fresh, but you can use leftovers. If using sweetened leftovers, do not add additional sweetener.
  • Make the spread more hummus-like by using 1/2 cup canned chickpeas instead of walnuts, or try another nut. The walnuts gave it a great nutty flavor.
  • You can use red pepper or another spice instead of cinnamon. You are making this spread for you, so make what you like!
  • Pick your favorite oil. If you use an olive oil or a truffle oil, you will add that flavor. (Now I'm thinking I should have used the Riesling oil we have - it's just a drizzle of oil really.)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Side dish or Entree: Spinach Artichoke Pasta

This is like having spinach artichoke dip on pasta - and it's really tasty. I would like to play with the recipe a little more because it was a little strong on the artichoke. Suggestions in the comments are welcome. I got this recipe from That Was Vegan.

1 bag baby spinach
1.5 tsp dried minced garlic
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and sliced in half
1 Tbsn vegan butter (Nucoa, Earth Balance)
1.5 Tbsn flour
1.5 cups So Delicious coconut milk
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 tsp onion powder
3/4 tsp sea salt (more to taste)
1/2 bag Daiya Mozzarella shreds
6 oz Campanelle pasta, cooked per package instructions
1/4+ cup panko crumbs
salt and pepper to taste


  1. Water saute the baby spinach with the garlic and artichoke hearts over medium heat until it’s wilted, 1-2 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Add vegan butter to pan and allow to melt, then stir in the flour. Stir until it’s combined and very thick (this is your roux). Pour in the milk and stir until mostly smooth and heated through, then add in the cheese, salt, onion and chili powder. If it gets too thick, add water.
  3. Fold in the cooked pasta, artichokes, spinach and crushed red pepper flakes, stirring gently. When ready to serve, add the panko
Other Details:

Monday, November 26, 2012

Breakfast: Pancakes

Yes, I keep posting pancake recipes. These were really flavorful pancakes - almost tasted like French Toast pancakes. They were "normal" pancake level, which means they weren't just throw everything together blend, and cooking is easy. They do require some time paying attention to how they are cooking and getting the color and cook just right - like most pancake recipes require. These are from The Lotus and the Artichoke. The recipe below is how I made them.

1 1/2 cups flour
1 Tbsn chickpea flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3 Tbsn sugar
1 tsp flax seeds ground
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 – 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups almond milk
1 tsp oil


  1. Mix floursbaking powdersugarflaxsaltcinnamon in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add oil and milk. Whisk only until batter is mostly smooth. Some small clumps are okay. Do not overmix!
  3. Heat a frying pan, preferably a well-seasoned cast iron pan on medium to medium high. 
  4. Put a few drops of oil on the pan and rub it all around with part of a paper towel. Cooking spray can also be used. Do this before each pancake.
  5. When a drop of water sizzles and dances on the surface the pan is ready.
  6. Pour about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of batter onto pan. Pour directly from your bowl if it has a spout, or use a cup or ladle. Batter should run out and flatten slowly. If too thick, add more liquid. If too thin, add some flour. Stir a few turns and try again.
  7. When bubbles form consistently on the edges and in the center of pancake, check underside if ready to flip. Lift an edge with a spatula, look for that golden brown color. If this takes longer than 2 minutes, turn up the heat slightly.
  8. Flip the pancake over and cook for 1-2 more minutes.
  9. Transfer finished pancake to a tray or plate in a warm oven or another pan on low heat and cover. Sparsely re-oil pan, do next pancake.
  10. Top them with butter, powdered sugar, fruit, nuts, syrup and serve.
Other Details:

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Contest Photos

I entered a food photography contest where I made six recipes and photographed them. I did not win on any of them, and despite an announcement three weeks ago about the new photos being revealed, I can't find the winning photos where they are supposed to be.

Part of entering the contest required we not reproduce the recipes in any way. Two of the recipes I did really like and have made the unpublished Codex. The other four were not quite up to par for the Codex. And one of those four I already had a recipe that I liked better.

Obviously, with the contest, I worked harder at setting up the photos and striving for a story. What I've decided is that I need a higher calibre camera and I am going to be more careful with the food photos on my blog. Hopefully you'll find higher quality photos from now on out.

Without further ado, here are the photos.

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Coconut Red Lentil Dal

Lentil Mushroom Barley Stew

Mexican Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Cinnamon Frosting

No Bake Apple Crumble

Tofu Scramble

Friday, November 23, 2012

Dessert: Mini Pies!

Ryan made these mini pies with both a pumpkin and an apple filling. Kids and Ryan both loved them. The original recipe is from Heather Christo Cooks.

Best Crust
2 1/4 cups flour
2 Tbs sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, very cold and cut into pieces
1/2 cup shortening
1/3 cup ice water

Pumpkin Vanilla Bean Filling
15 oz can pumpkin puree
1 cup brown sugar
1 Tbs vanilla bean paste
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 nutmeg
1/2 ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup cream
2 eggs
1 quart vegetable oil for frying

Best Crust
  1. In a food processor, add flour, sugar and salt. Pulse to combine. 
  2. Add butter and shortening. Pulse until the dough resembles coarse crumbles.
  3. Add water a little at a time and pulse until the dough comes together. Stop adding water once the dough has come together.
  4. Transfer dough to a sheet of wax paper.
  5. Gently press dough into a disc, wrap it in the paper and chill for about 30 minutes.
  6. Take half of the recipe for pie dough, and using a small amount of flour, roll out the pie dough into a circle in between two sheets of wax paper.
  7. Gently peel back one side of the wax paper and law over a pie dish.

  1. Preheat oven to 350º.
  2. In a 9x9 baking dish, add all the filling ingredients.
  3. Combine until smooth.
  4. Bake the pumpkin filling for 45 minutes. Take the filling out and leave until cooled.
  5. Using a 4-inch cookie cutter, cut circles out of the chilled pie dough.
  6. Spoon the chilled filling into the center of the circles.
  7. Fold the pie dough over and pinch and fork tine the edges. Chill in the refrigerator while you heat the oil.
  8. Heat the oil in a heavy pot over medium heat.
  9. Gently fry the pumpkin mini pies until the dough is golden brown.
  10. Drain for a moment on paper towels and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Other details:
  • Preparation time: 20 minutes
  • Cooking time: 1 hours
  • Makes 12 pies

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Side or Entree: Chicken Parmesan Balls

Ryan wanted to make something similar to chicken parmesan, but wanted it in meatball form, so he made these up: Chicken Parmesan Balls. They are just as much effort as chicken parmesan, perhaps more. But, they were generally really popular.

ground chicken (~1 pound) or 3 chicken breasts
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/4 tsp ground oregano
mozzarella, 1 block cut into 1/2 cm cubes
2 eggs
1 Tbsp water
dash salt
2 cups Panko-style bread crumbs
1/4 cup parmesan
pinch salt
pinch ground oregano
canola oil for frying


  1. Grind chicken breasts using meat grinder attachment on Kitchen-aid mixer, or just use purchased ground chicken.
  2. Add 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper, and 1/4 tsp oregano to the ground chicken. Mix until well combined.
  3. Roll into balls about 1.5" in diameter. Flatten ball.
  4. Place about teaspoon of mozzarella cubes in center and roll chicken around cheese, as a ball.
  5. Beat eggs, water, and dash salt in a bowl with a fork.
  6. Mix Panko bread crumbs, parmesan, pinch of salt and oregano until well combined.
  7. Roll your chicken cheese balls in the egg and then toss in the panko crumb mixture. You will have to squish the panko crumbs around the balls for full coverage.
  8. In a deep pan (we used our Dutch oven), pour enough oil to cover balls. Heat oil to 350º (using a candy thermometer to check temperature.)
  9. Fry the balls until golden brown and cooked through, approximately 5 minutes. CHECK! The 5 minutes is purely an estimate. Do not allow any pink left in the balls. Cheese will be melty.
  10. Serve with pasta and sauce. (Spaghetti noodles with marinara or pasta Alfredo makes a good compliment to these.)

Other details:

  • Makes about a dozen balls.
  • Nutrition Facts are per ball.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Dessert: Tweed Cake

Ryan saw this and decided to make it mid-October. A great cake that is really rich, and while it has 3 components, each component is not that difficult, so overall probably an intermediate cake recipe.


3 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs separated, whites & yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 ounce dark chocolate, grated

Vanilla Frosting
1 1/2 cups butter
6 1/2 cups icing sugar
3 tbsp milk

Chocolate Ganache
2 cups chocolate chips
1/2 cup whipping cream


  1. Grease, flour and line the bottom of two 9 or 10 inch cake pans with parchment paper. 
  2. Sift together and set aside flourbaking powder, and salt.
  3. Beat the egg whites and sugar with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Set aside.
  4. Cream together butter and sugar. Add egg yolks and beat until creamy. 
  5. Add the flour mixture in 3 equal portions alternating with milk. Add the milk in two equal portions in between the flour mixture additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Do mot over mix.
  6. Gently fold in the beaten egg whites and sugar.When the egg whites are almost incorporated fold in dark chocolate.
  7. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 20-25 minutes at 325ºF or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Be careful not to over bake the cake portion. Cool completely on a wire rack. Top with vanilla frosting.

Vanilla Frosting
  1. Cream together butter, icing sugar, vanilla extract, and milk.
  2. You may add a little milk a teaspoon at a time, if the frosting seems too stiff to be spreadable. This should be quite a thick frosting with plenty of vanilla flavor. You can add a little more or less mik or icing sugar to get it to a proper thick but spreadable consistency. Frost the middle and sides of the cake and chill for a couple of hours before adding the chocolate ganache finishing layer.

Chocolate Ganache
  1. Melt together in a double boiler over low heat the chocolate chips and whipping cream.
  2. Cool to lukewarm and spread quickly over the chilled frosting. Let the chocolate set before cutting and serving. 

Other Details:

  • Original Recipe
  • 12 servings gives a good size piece that is enough but not too much

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Entree: Cheesy Spinach Noodle Bake

This is a good, vegan noodle bake that takes a little less effort than putting together a lasagna. I didn't like the original recipe from This Can't Be Vegan as written, so I've modified it.

8 ounces elbow macaroni or shells
12 ounces grounds 
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
26-ounce jar marinara sauce (use a flavored one)
2-4 tablespoons spinach, chopped
2 cups vegan shredded mozzarella cheese, divided 
1 cup nondairy sour cream 
1/4 - 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 350º. 
  2. Cook noodles until al dente; drain and set aside. 
  3. In a large nonstick skillet, add grounds, garlic, salt, and pepper, stirring frequently until heated through and slightly crisp, about 10 minutes. Add marinara sauce and spinach, stirring until spinach is wilted and everything is well combined. Remove from heat. 
  4. In a large bowl, combine cooked noodles, 1 cup shredded cheese, sour cream, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and fresh parsley. Stir until ingredients are evenly distributed and noodles are well coated. 
  5. Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 13x9-inch baking dish. Top evenly with marinara mixture and remaining cheese. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes, or until bubbly around the edges. Let stand for 15 mins before serving. 

Other Notes:
  • Serves 8.
  • Nutrition based on 8 servings

Friday, November 9, 2012

Dessert: Classic Chocolate Fudge

This is so easy and very yummy. It's quite rich and was popular with the whole family. The nuts are optional, as you choose. 

16 oz semi-sweet chocolate
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup chopped nuts of your choice (pecans or walnuts are good)
2 tsp. Vanilla


  1. Line 8-inch square pan with foil with ends of foil extending over sides. Microwave chocolate and milk in microwavable bowl on high 2 to 3 minutes or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring after 2 minutes; stir until completely melted. Add nuts and vanilla; mix well.
  2. Spread into pan.
  3. Refrigerate 2 hours or until firm. Use foil to lift fudge from pan before cutting to serve.

Other Notes:

  • I suggest cutting in 1" squares, otherwise it is too much fudge in one piece. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

What's with all the vegan recipes?

I've been cooking since about middle school. My mother taught me how to cook. One of the things that brought Ryan and I together was our love of food and cooking. We made meals together, both having learned recipes from our families and learning new recipes.

We've had times of needing quick and easy recipes, cheap recipes, and as time went on, we learned more complicated, advanced recipes that required special tools and had more and possibly more expensive ingredients. 

In August, I became vegan. Hence, I went back through recipes and determined what was already on the blog that was vegan. There were a good number of recipes that qualified. And I've been learning new recipes and how to veganize recipes. I plan to go back and test some of the recipes, so vegan alternatives may show up in some of the old recipes.

This is a family blog. I'm the only one who is vegan at this time. So some recipes will appear that call for animal products. I'm hoping over time to reduce those recipes and since I do the primary blogging, there will certainly be more vegan recipes.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Dessert: Ultimate Vegan Brownies*

These are the Ultimate Vegan Brownies* because they were named by the website where I got the recipe. These are good, but everyone agreed my regular brownie recipe is better. This is the best vegan brownie recipe I have (they were good enough that people at the potluck and the kids & us parents all had seconds). But, we're hoping to find a better one. So this one goes in the Codex until such time I make a better vegan brownie recipe.

3 Tablespoons water
2 Tablespoons golden flax meal

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda

7 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 ounce semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into ½ inch pieces
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
¾ teaspoon salt

¼ cup boiling water

1 ½ cups sugar
6 Tablespoons coconut oil**

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

½ cup walnuts, chopped (optional)


  1. In a small mixing bowl whisk together the water and flax meal. Let it sit for about 10 minutes so the mixture gets goopy. Place your oven rack on it's lowest position and preheat your oven to 350F. Line an 8 x 8 inch baking dish with parchment paper allowing excess parchment paper on opposite sides so you can pull the brownies out of the baking dish later.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the all-purpose flour and baking soda. Set aside.
  3. In another medium mixing bowl add the cocoa powder, semi-sweet chocolate, espresso powder and salt. Add the boiling water and using a spoon, mix in the ingredients into a paste, making sure that all of the chocolate pieces are melted. Add the sugar, Vegan Butter, vanilla extract, flax meal mixture from Step 1 into the chocolate mixture and mix with an electric mixer until smooth. Stir in the walnuts if you're using them. Using a spoon, mix in the flour until well combined. The mixture will become extremely thick and you may need to use your hands to mix. Refrain from mixing this dough with an electric mixer at this point; this will overwork the dough and activate too much gluten, negatively affecting the texture of the brownies.
  4. Transfer the batter to the baking dish. You may need to use your fingers or a spatula to press the thick dough into place. Bake for 35 minutes on your oven's lowest rack. Transfer the baking dish to a wire cooling rack and allow it to cool for about an hour.
  5. Transfer the brownies to the wire rack by lifting them out of the baking dish by taking hold of the exposed parchment paper on each side. Allow them to cool completely before slicing into squares.
Other details:
  • Original Recipe
  • **original recipe calls for 6 Tablespoons (80 grams) Regular Vegan Butter or non-hydrogenated stick margarine, melted (not tub margarine), but I used coconut oil because I had that and not enough vegan butter or dairy-free margarine

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Pumpkin Butter

I saw vegansaurus post about pumpkin butter and I thought it sounded delicious. I had no idea what I would use it for, but that doesn't matter. Turns out pumpkin butter is like peanut butter - you can use it for anything you might use peanut butter for: sandwiches, dipping fruit, spreading on waffles or pancakes, etc. It is really easy to make.

Sugar pumpkin
brown sugar (1/4 cup per 2 pounds of sugar pumpkin)
spices of your choosing: ex. pumpkin pie spice; cinnamon; cloves; all spice; garam masala; ginger; nutmeg; whiskey; vanilla; agave


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Line a baking dish with parchment paper - it must have sides.
  3. Cut sugar pumpkin in half and gut it. Place halves of pumpkin meat side down on the parchment in the dish.
  4. Bake for about an hour until the flesh scrapes out nicely.
  5. Allow to cool.
  6. Scrape out the insides and place in a food processor. Process until smooth-ish.
  7. Throw in appropriate amount of brown sugar. Process until well mixed.
  8. Throw in your selected spices to taste and process until well mixed and smooth.
  9. Transfer to a pot. Bring to a boil, then cover with a mesh splatter screen, turn flame to low and allow to simmer down until desired consistency.

Other Notes:

  • Original Recipe 
  • I had put mine in the fridge between cooking and scraping due to time constraints. It sat there for a couple days. However, I pretty much skipped the cook down part because it blended to the consistency I like. Not sure if this is a good method or if I just got lucky.