Monthly Archives: October 2014

Pumpkin Muffins with Maple Cream Cheese Filling

pumpkin muffins 006It’s October and that means PUMPKINS! They’re everywhere . . . grocery stores, farm stands, pumpkin patches, front porches. I have about a dozen pie pumpkins waiting to be baked, pureed and transformed into some baked goodness. All I needed was some inspiration (or just some serendipity.) Bruce and I were in Whole Foods over the weekend when I spotted some pumpkin-cream cheese muffins in their bakery. They sure looked tasty; but loaded with butter, cream cheese, eggs and milk they sure weren’t vegan. Not one to back down from a culinary challenge, I set out to create a plant-based version. Luckily, I still had some home-made pumpkin puree in the freezer from last year’s harvest and just enough cashew cream cheese in the fridge for my trial recipe. Whenever possible, I use a mixture of whole wheat and white flours. Since the pumpkin provides moisture, I went with more wheat flour for this recipe.  Not too sweet, lightly spiced (you can omit the cloves or replace all of the spices with a pumpkin pie spice blend) and topped off with a touch of cream cheese brought back memories of a decadent pumpkin cheesecake I used to make. Hmmmm . . .  maybe next time I’ll add some praline to the recipe. You can skip the pumpkin patch and simply grab a can of pumpkin; but trust me, the pumpkin patch is way fun! Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Pumpkin Muffins with Maple Cream Cheese Filling

1 cup whole wheat flour
½ cup white all purpose flour
½ cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
½ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. cloves (optional)
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup pumpkin puree, either canned or homemade
½ cup soy or almond milk
¼ cup almond butter
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Filling
½ cup cashew cream cheese
2 tablespoons maple syrup or sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Line 12 muffin cups with liners. In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt.

In a separate, smaller bowl, stir together pumpkin puree, milk, almond butter and vanilla.
Add wet ingredients to dry and stir just until blended.

Mix filling ingredients. Divide batter among muffin cups, then place a spoonful of filling onto top of batter.Bake 16-18 minutes, or until tops spring up when touched lightly.

Note: The muffins can be made without the filling with equally good results.

Makes 1 dozen muffins.

28 Oct 2014

Roasted Beet Salad at the Vegan Corral

Beet Salad 003Before we started eating a plant-based diet, Bruce and his co-workers were planning a holiday luncheon. When asked for restaurant suggestions, one of his co-workers suggested the Golden Corral because they have “something for everyone”. Well, their official motto is “Help Yourself to Happiness.” I’ve never been to the Corral, but if it’s anything like other buffets I’m sure it wouldn’t make me too happy. Most of our meals tend to be one-pot wonders, but every so often I like to put together what I call the “Vegan Corral”. Tonight we had a variety of autumnal vegetables: baked potatoes, yams, fennel salad, beet salad. I added a plate of cashew cheddar spread with rosemary crackers. I previously posted the recipe for fennel salad. The beet salad has a honey-mustard marinade and is made with roasted beets. You can skip the roasting and peeling of the beets simply by using canned beets. You can get the star anise in the ethnic food aisle. I harvested some arugula to use as a bed for the beets, but you can use baby greens if desired. The sweet and tangy dressing was a nice complement to the spicy arugula. Bake a few white and sweet potatoes and you’re done. So welcome to my Vegan Corral and “Help Yourself to Healthfulness.” Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Beet Salad 006

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roasted Beet Salad

2 lbs. of beets, about 8 medium (see note for using canned beets)
1 small onion, sliced
3 tablespoons honey or agave
2 tablespoons mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 star anise pods (optional)

To roast beets: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap beets in aluminum foil and place on baking sheet. Bake until easily pierced with a knife, about 45 to 60 minutes. Let cool completely, then peel and cut into small pieces.

Whisk together honey, mustard and vinegar. Combine beets, onions and star anise if using. Let marinate at least one hour before serving.

Note: Use two 15 oz. cans of beets instead of roasting fresh beets.

17 Oct 2014

Full Plate Potato and Leek Soup

Mushroom Stroganoff and Potato Leek Soup 019A few weeks ago, I picked up some beautiful leeks at my favorite Amish farm stand. Well, their beauty is fading, so I thought I’d made a quick Potato and Leek Soup before work this morning. It’s that easy. In keeping with my “One Mess, Many Meals” concept, I doubled the recipe and used russet potatoes and a combination of leeks and yellow onions. Leeks need to be thoroughly rinsed to remove the soil from between its layers. I like to trim off the dark green tops and the root end, then slice lengthwise and again crosswise; place in a colander and rinse under cold water. If you’re really pressed for time or don’t like chopping onions, you can get away with using frozen onions.
Served with a nice salad and crusty artisan bread, this is a great meal for my busy Full Plate Generation followers or a weeknight dinner for two. It’s also a great first course for company. Have some fun with it — warm it hot in a crock pot and serve in demitasse cups on game day. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Potato and Leek Soup
1 lb. white potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 lb. leeks, thinly sliced and rinsed
1-1/2 to 2 quarts of water
Salt and pepper to taste
4 to 6 tablespoons of soy creamer or cashew cream (optional)
Place potatoes, leeks and 1-1/2 quarts of water in saucepan. Bring to boil; reduce to simmer and cook partially covered for 40 minutes. Add more water to obtain desired consistency. Remove from heat. Puree soup using a counter-top or immersion blender. Return pureed soup to pot, add creamer or cashew cream and heat thoroughly

Leeks

14 Oct 2014

The Power Plate

Make Every Meal a Power Plate MealWhen I started Vegi-curious, my goal was to encourage others wanting to transition to a plant-based diet by sharing personal stories, recipes and information. Today’s share is The Power Plate that was devised by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Picked off the pages of their website, here’s a description of who they are:

The Physicians Committee is leading a revolution in medicine—putting a new focus on health and compassion. The Physicians Committee combines the clout and expertise of more than 12,000 physicians with the dedicated actions of 150,000 members across the United States and around the world.
The Power Plate is a great tool to help you make healthy food choices and ensure that you’re getting all the nutrients you need. How easy is that? And with 12,000 physicians behind it you can rest assured that it’s a well-researched approach. We are quick to share a cartoon or a Youtube video that merely entertains us. My hope is that you will share this information as it could be life changing. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

 

08 Oct 2014

The Vegi-curious Squash Project

Buttercup Squash 009Even before I started plant-based living, I had an interest in gardening. When I lived in an apartment and later in my townhome, I would plant a container garden of herbs every year. I’ve had success growing arugula and it’s been hit or miss (mostly miss) with tomatoes, carrots, garlic, cippoline and fennel. This past spring I decided to plant buttercup squash. I fell in love with buttercup squash last fall when I got one as part of my CSA box. It’s similar to acorn squash, but sooooo much yummier. I was hooked. I would seek them out at every farmers’ market or farm stand I went to. They were never in abundance and they were quite expensive, but so worth the cost. I decided to plant the squash in the same bed that’s alongside our driveway. I figured that the squash would be in the good company of my fabulous fig trees. So, I planted the seeds in six mounds and hoped for the best . . . and I got the best! The vines took over the entire bed, even tried climbing up the fig trees and onto Bruce’s Audi Quattro that’s been parked next to the planting bed. I was thrilled to watch the orange blossoms turn into little green globes that would eventually grow into three- to five-pound bundles of joy. Photography 09.07.14 006

The nights are getting a little colder now. Afraid to lose even one squash to a frost, I decided to harvest yesterday and came up with up with 27 squashes. (The orange one up front is a mutant squash.) Wow! This project turned out better than I expected and I’m already thinking about making room for more plantings next spring.

Buttercup Squash 004

Until I started growing my own food, I never put much thought into where my food comes from. I now have a better understanding and appreciation of what it takes to be a farmer. It is really hard work. I’ve heard that one farmer can feed 155 people. From the bottom of my heart and the bottom of my pot, I’d like to thank all of them for taking care of me and my family.

The easiest way to prepare buttercup squash is to simply bake it, then drizzle with maple syrup or sprinkle on some brown sugar and cinnamon. I added a little balsamic vinegar for a twist. Why not try pumpkin pie or Chinese five spice? This makes a nice side dish for a Sunday dinner or something sweet to end your meal. If you want to get fancy, fill the baked squash with your favorite soup or stuff with quinoa or other grain. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Sweet and Spicy Buttercup Squash

1 buttercup or acorn squash (2-3/4 lbs.)
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Any combination of spices such as cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, etc.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove stem and cut squash in half from stem to blossom end. Place cut side down on parchment paper and bake until you can pierce the flesh with a knife and still meet some resistance, about 45 minutes. While the squash is baking, mix together syrup, brown sugar, vinegar and spices. Turn the squash so that the cut side is facing up and coat with syrup and/or brown sugar and spices. Continue baking until the flesh is tender, about 10 minutes. This will vary depending on the size of the squash. Makes two large servings.

 

06 Oct 2014

Vegi-curious Blondies

Vegi-curious BlondiesI LOVE DESSERT. While my physical craving for sweets has dwindled since starting a plant-based diet, I still have an emotional attachment to the idea of dessert. All through life, we’re offered desserts as a form of reward, like a good report card; to console, like when your heart is broken; or to celebrate a special event, like “Yea, I made it to Friday!” It’s like every day is a celebration as long as there’s some kind of dessert and since today just happens to be FRIDAY, I thought I’d come up with something that goes together quickly, doesn’t contain any exotic ingredients and is healthy. I scoured the internet for a vegan Blondie recipe, but they all contained too much fat. Whenever I come across a recipe that looks pretty decent, I try to use a nut butter instead of something like Earth Balance or coconut oil, which are 100% fat. Nut butters have less fat, but they contain protein and other nutrients as well. For this recipe, I chose cashew butter since it doesn’t have as much of a “nutty” flavor as peanut or almond butter. The result was not too greasy or sweet, but pretty tasty.  I used whole wheat pastry flour, but might try regular all-purpose flour and a little more sugar next time . . .  and yes, there will be a next time. Have a great weekend and thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Vegi-curious Blondies

1/3 cup cashew butter
6 ounces coconut, almond or soy milk or Silk soy yogurt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups white flour, spelt flour, or whole wheat pastry flour
8 ounces dairy-free chocolate chips

Spray a 9×9 square pan with non-stick spray and line bottom with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a stand mixer, beat together the cashew butter, milk or yogurt, brown sugar and vanilla until very well mixed. Mix in the flour, baking powder and salt until combined, then add the chocolate chips. Spread into prepared pan then bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, or until the edges are light golden brown. Cool completely before cutting. Makes 8 servings.

03 Oct 2014

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