Desserts

Kitchen Kids: Breakfast Quinoa Pudding Bowl

Breakfast Quinoa Bowl

Like many first-born children, my oldest brother, Tom, was very independent. I remember Mom telling the story of waking up one morning to find him making breakfast on the stove. He was about five years old. Luckily there was no harm done. I remember during my brief stint as a high school Home Economics teacher having my students make pancakes. It was a mess. After that experience, I’m not so sure I’d trust a five-year old in the kitchen. All kidding aside, there are some recipes that children can tackle under the watchful eye of Mom or Dad. My Breakfast Quinoa Pudding Bowl is one of them.

I was in the mood for rice pudding this morning. What I like about rice pudding is that it’s creamy, sweet and sultry all at the same time. I also woke up very hungry today and didn’t want to wait for a pot of rice to cook. I happened to make a batch of quinoa for dinner last night that was idling in the fridge. This was starting to sound interesting . . . creamy, sweet, sultry and . . . nutty. Why not? I added some quinoa, soy milk, sugar, arrowroot, vanilla and cinnamon into a ramekin and cooked it in the microwave for about 1-1/2 minutes. I added the arrowroot to help thicken the milk and give it that “pudding” mouthfeel. I had some cooked apples and raisins in the fridge and decided to spoon that over the pudding just before serving.  Some chopped banana or mango would be a nice addition as well. This was so simple to make that I just might trust a five-year old to make this. (Place the bowl on a plate before putting in the microwave and make sure they use oven mitts when removing it.) It is also so tasty that I trust your family will enjoy it. The nice thing is that it comes together so easily that you can make it as a quick weekday breakfast, a last-minute dessert or even a late-night snack. Make a few Breakfast Quinoa Pudding Bowls this morning and make it a Vegi-curious day!

Breakfast Quinoa Pudding

¼ cup cooked quinoa
2 Tablespoons non-dairy milk (see note)
½ teaspoon arrowroot or cornstarch
1 teaspoon sugar
Few drops of vanilla extract
Cinnamon
Favorite fruit for topping

Place all ingredients in a one-cup ramekin or bowl. Microwave on high for one minute. Remove and serve with chopped fruit.

Note: You can use more milk as desired. For every 2 tablespoons of milk, use ½ teaspoon of arrowroot and adjust sugar as you like.

09 Oct 2017

Sin-lessy Decadent: Hazelnut-Date Truffles

Hazelnut-Date Truffles

I love getting out of bed on Sunday mornings before anyone else wakes up. It’s my time for making lists, planning my week or simply clearing my head. This morning I’m sitting on our front porch enjoying some solitude and a lovely hydrangea whose blooms are turning to rust. And a cup of coffee. (Note to self: make it a point to spend more time out here.) It’s also the perfect time for me to share my recipe for these Hazelnut-Date Truffles that I made last week. I was in the mood for a decadent, chocolate treat that was easy to make using items I had in my pantry. I also wanted to keep the refined ingredients to a minimum to make these truffles as guilt-free as possible. Since my favorite chocolate candy is Perugina’s Baci (“little kisses” made with milk chocolate and hazelnuts) I decided to go with those flavors in mind. The truffle centers are made with hazelnuts, dates, cocoa powder and hazelnut liqueur. (I use my Blendtec Twister Jar in order to get a super silky texture.) I melted some dark chocolate with coconut cream for a glossy chocolate coating and rolled a few in cocoa powder. All I can say is WOW! The result was part truffle, part caramel, total decadence and no remorse. I paired the truffles with a glass of Frangelico liqueur, but a glass of red wine or port would also be nice. Treat yourself to these Hazelnut-Date Truffles and make it a Vegi-curious day.

Hazelnut-Date Truffles

½ cup dates
½ cup hazelnuts
2 Tbsp. regular or dark cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. Frangelico liqueur

2 oz. non-dairy dark chocolate
1 Tbsp. coconut cream or full fat coconut milk

Place dates, nuts, cocoa powder and liqueur in food processor or high-powered blender. Process until smooth. Remove and portion out into 1” balls. Place on parchment paper. Set aside

Melt the dark chocolate and coconut cream over low heat. Dip the truffles in the melted chocolate and place on parchment paper. (See note below.) Refrigerate until cooled.

Note: You could also roll the truffles in cocoa powder.

24 Sep 2017

The Great Pumpkin: Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfaits

Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfait

When he came up the story line of The Great Pumpkin I wonder if Charles Schultz knew that someday millions of people would develop a “Linus Alter-Ego”? I, along with a host of others, look forward to all things pumpkin during the harvest season.

The Great Pumpkin is a holiday figure in whom only Linus van Pelt believes. Every year, Linus sits in a pumpkin patch on Halloween night waiting for the Great Pumpkin to appear. Invariably, the Great Pumpkin fails to turn up, but a humiliated but undefeated Linus vows to wait for him again the following Halloween. I can relate.

I really look forward to this time of the year. I’m in the habit of buying a few baby pumpkins every time I go to my favorite Amish farm stand. I bake them and freeze the puree to use in baked goodies all year round. I use pumpkin puree in place of applesauce and bananas because it doesn’t impart a fruity flavor to brownies and chocolate cake. I do like pumpkin scones and, now, these Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfaits. This recipe was inspired by one that I saw on Facebook . The filling is made with pumpkin, cream cheese, whipped cream, sweetened condensed milk and frozen whipped topping; and the crust had graham crackers, butter and sugar. Yikes! It looked so creamy, spicy and decadent. How could I not try to make this work for me?

It was actually easier than I expected. For the crust I used a mixture of graham crackers and pecans. The fat from the pecans allowed the crust to clump up so that it could stick together in the bottom of a glass. No extra sugar is necessary as the graham crackers are sweet right out of the box. The filling was made with pumpkin, raw cashews, extra firm tofu, brown sugar, lemon juice/lactic acid and pumpkin pie spice. The combination of cashews and lemon juice are what I use as a cream cheese replacement and the tofu gives it a lighter feel. Lactic acid is similar to lemon juice as it adds to the tangy flavor of non-dairy foods. (The one I use is made from sugar beets. You can omit this and simply add more lemon juice.) I used brown sugar on my first go-around. My second attempt was made with dates. Both came out equally delicious, so the choice is yours to use sugar or dates. I processed the filling in a high-powered blender to get a super smooth texture. I can’t say that I would trust a regular blender or a food processor to get these same silky results. The pecan-graham crumble adds a nice textural contrast to the dreamy, creamy pumpkin filling. You can really have fun by dressing up these parfaits by sprinkling candied pecans, granola, crystallized ginger or more graham cracker crumble. It’s all good.

So, the moral of the story is to be like Linus and never give up. Adopting a plant-based diet over five years ago was certainly a challenge for a foodie like me. I’ve had a few disappointing meals and several melt-downs since. I’ve learned to walk away from those recipes that just won’t work for me and move on to ones that do. It’s what keeps me going down this path to wellness. Feed your Linus alter-ego with these Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfaits. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfaits

Filling:

½ cup raw cashews, soaked and drained
8 oz. extra firm tofu, pressed
1 cup pumpkin
½ cup brown sugar (3/4 cup dates)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon lactic acid (optional)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch of salt

Crust:

1 sleeve of graham crackers
1 cup pecans

Place all filling ingredients in high-powered blender and process until smooth. Remove to covered container and refrigerate.

Place graham crackers and pecans in a mini-chopper or food processor. Process until the crackers and nuts are finely ground and begin to clump.

Assembly:

Place one or two tablespoons of crust into a small glass or ramekin. Press down with an espresso tamper or your fingers. Spoon or pipe the filling into the glass until the glass is full. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

 

 

18 Sep 2017

Dessert for Breakfast? Apple Pie Ala Mode Yogurt

Apple Pie Ala Mode Yogurt

Who says you can’t have dessert for breakfast? When it’s soy yogurt and baked apples you can have dessert any time your heart (and yearnings) desire. I’m going to deviate from my routine of publishing a recipe and just share some ideas that hopefully will inspire you to create your own recipes.

I took two Gala apples, a handful of raisins and a sprinkling of brown sugar and cinnamon and cooked them in a non-stick skillet. If the apple variety you choose doesn’t let out too much liquid, you will want to add water a little at a time until the apples are soft but not mushy. Likewise, if you use a tart apple, like a Granny Smith, you might want to add more brown sugar. You can even omit the sugar if desired. When the apples are almost done I like to turn the heat up high to get them caramelized and syrupy. I spooned the warm apples over home-made soy yogurt and sprinkled some walnuts and granola on top. Two apples make enough for three to four servings of yogurt. If you want to make a larger quantity to enjoy all week long, I recommend baking the apples in the oven in a square or oblong glass baking pan. If you want to make your own soy yogurt, see my previous post. With all that goodness going on you can have dessert whenever you like. Now you can enjoy dessert for breakfast with this Apple Pie Ala Mode Yogurt. Thanks for being Vegi-curious day.

 

 

 

13 Sep 2017

My Inconvenient Truth: ELT (Eggplant, Tomato & Lettuce)

Egglant, Lettuce & Tomato Sandwich

I think about the cost of convenience every day. Whether it’s preparing a healthy plant-based meal at home or eating at a vegan restaurant, the cost of convenience is apparent. I could use frozen vegetables to make meal preparation easier and less expensive, but I prefer to use fresh vegetables because they have a better taste and texture. While going out to eat is convenient, there is a price to pay in the form of limited choices and the presence of added oil and salt. I was reminded of this “inconvenient truth” last weekend as Bruce and I had lunch at a  “destination” vegan restaurant. (I use the term “destination” when we plan an entire outing around a restaurant.) Since we traveled about an hour to get there I wanted to make the most of our trip and decided to sample a few things on the menu. We ordered jackfruit stuffed mushrooms and oyster mushrooms in scampi sauce for appetizers. I had a French dip portobello mushroom sandwich and Bruce had an ELT (eggplant, lettuce and tomato sandwich). Each stuffed mushroom had a healthy dollop of vegan tartar sauce which I could tell contained oil. The scampi sauce was made with oil and/or vegan butter. The French dip had melted vegan mozzarella (oil), the ELT had fried eggplant and vegan mayo (more oil) and both sandwiches were served with a side of fries. The truth is we don’t eat oil anymore, and when we do it doesn’t sit right with us. I guess that’s the price we pay for the convenience of eating out. Anyway, the ELT was quite tasty and I was impelled to come up with an oil-free version at home. I made the eggplant by dipping the slices in aquafaba (the liquid from canned chickpeas), coating them with bread crumbs, then baking in the oven. Instead of vegan mayonnaise I mashed up an avocado with some lemon juice and a pinch of black salt. Wanting to keep it as close to a traditional BLT, I built the sandwich by spreading a layer of avocado “mayo” on toasted white bread then loading it up with the breaded eggplant, juicy tomato slices and crisp lettuce. The crispy coating on the eggplant gives the sandwich a crunchy mouth-feel that’s similar to bacon and the avocado lends a mayo-like creaminess — without the use of oil. (A few days later I re-crisped the left over eggplant in an air fryer which gave them more of a bacon mouth feel.) Well worth the effort. The truth is that, at times, it may be inconvenient to follow a plant-based diet, but it’s a price I’m willing to pay for tasty food that’s wholesome and healthy. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

ELT (Eggplant, Lettuce & Tomato Sandwiches)

Eggplant:

1 small eggplant (about 1 lb.), cut into 1/4 inch slices
½ cup bread crumbs
1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
salt & pepper to taste
½ cup or more of aquafaba (liquid from canned chick peas)

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine bread crumbs, paprika, brown sugar, salt and pepper in shallow dish. Place aquafaba in a bowl. Dip eggplant slices in aquafaba, then coat with bread crumbs. Place eggplant slices in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes until browned, turning occasionally. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

To make eggplant in an air fryer:

Place about 8 slices of eggplant in basket of air fryer, alternating each layer to allow more even browning and to prevent them from sticking together. Fry at 350F for 20 to 25 minutes. About half way through cooking, gingerly rearrange the slices and continue cooking until browned.
For the Avocado “Mayo”:

1 ripe avocado
½ teaspoon lemon juice
Pinch of black salt (or regular table salt)

For the Sandwiches:

Your favorite sandwich bread
Sliced tomatoes
Lettuce

Toast two slices of bread. Spread some avocado “mayo” on one slice, then arrange four slices of eggplant, two or three slices of tomatoes and some lettuce.

23 May 2017

Impulse Buying: Air-Fried Zucchini Sticks

Zucchini Sticks

I know I have a problem when it comes to kitchen equipment, so I really try to avoid “impulse purchases”. I consider how much I will use it, how much space it will take up and if it will just end up on the Island of Misfit Toys (i.e. my basement). Once I decide to add another appliance to my arsenal, I usually read as many reviews and compare costs to make sure I’m getting the best one to suit my needs. I happened to be shopping for waste baskets at Bed, Bath and Beyond and thought I’d just “check out” what they had in the way of air fryers. Right on the top shelf was one made by Phillips.What really made it stand out was the face of Gordon Ramsey plastered on the box. He usually wears a scowl, so I figured this must be a good piece of equipment if he’s smiling about it. The air fryer already had a hefty markdown, and combined with my 20% coupon and Chef Ramsey’s endorsement I decided to bring this baby home. I’m happy I did. So far, I’ve made French fries, sweet potato fries, glazed tofu and these Breaded Zucchini Sticks — all without one drop of oil. The air fryer is so easy to use and clean. Just load up whatever you’re “frying” into the basket then set the temperature and timer. The only other thing you need to do is shake up the basket half way through. That’s it! For this recipe, I simply dipped the zucchini sticks in aquafaba (the liquid from canned chick peas) then coated them with seasoned bread crumbs. I “fryed” them at 350F for 25 minutes. To my surprise the coating did not fall off the surface and “fryed” up nice and crisp. If you don’t have or want to buy an air fryer, you can bake the zucchini in the oven. I served the zucchini sticks with some left-over red pepper sauce I had in the fridge, but I would probably just use some marinara sauce the next time I make these. The only impulse I have now is to create more recipes to make in my air fryer. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Breaded Zucchini Sticks

1 zucchini squash (about 1 lb.), cut into ½” thick sticks
½ cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon oregano or other herb
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon tomato powder (optional)
Aquafaba (liquid from canned chick peas)

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine bread crumbs, oregano, garlic powder and tomato powder in shallow dish. Place aquafaba in a bowl. Dip zucchini sticks in aquafaba, then coat with bread crumbs. Place zucchini sticks in a single layer on baking sheet.

To cook in an air fryer:

Place zucchini sticks in basket of air fryer, alternating each layer to allow more even browning and to prevent them from sticking together. Fry at 350F for 20 to 25 minutes. About half way through cooking, gingerly rearrange the zucchini sticks and continue cooking.

To bake in an oven:

Preheat oven to 400F. Bake for about 20 minutes until browned, turning occasionally. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

08 May 2017

Madness to My Method: Mint-Chocolate Smoothie

Mint Chocolate Smoothie

Mint Chocolate Smoothie

There’s a saying that goes “there’s a method to my madness” which means that there is purpose in what one is doing, even though it seems to be crazy. Today’s post is a peek into how my mind works, which I like to think of as the “madness to my method.” A recipe for a mint chocolate chip smoothie popped up on one of my Facebook groups a few weeks ago and it stirred up memories from when I was making my own dairy ice cream. Mint chocolate chip was one of my favorite flavors. Boy, could I go for some right now. So, the recipe that inspired my latest obsession contained fresh mint for flavor and a handful of spinach for color. I don’t know about you, but milk and spinach doesn’t do it for me. One of the first things I discovered about home-made mint ice cream, unlike most commercial ones, is that it’s not green. My approach was to create a smoothie that had a hint of mint and an ice cream-like feeling. I tried a version using frozen peas for what I thought would add a creamy thickness. (Yuk!) I tried using sweet rice as a thickener. I had to soak the rice overnight and steam it the next day, which proved to be too much advance planning for a smoothie. This also resulted in a more “gooey” and less creamy consistency. The chocolate chips were another problem. If I blended them with the other ingredients, they disappeared. When I added them in during the last few seconds they sunk to the bottom of the glass.The flavor of the fresh mint fell flat, so I sent away for a bottle of pure mint extract and put the testing on hold for a few days. While waiting for my shipment to arrive I couldn’t stop thinking about this recipe. What if . . . I just added the mint extract to my go-to cinnamon bun smoothie? What if . . .  I used brown rice instead of sweet rice? What if . . .  I just start from scratch? And the chocolate . . . what if I shave it and stir it in when ready to serve? By the time the extract arrived, I had it sorted out: almond milk, banana, dates, brown rice, oatmeal, mint extract and chocolate shavings. I tend to over-blend my smoothies to get them extra creamy, but that also makes them warm. I find that refrigerating them for a few hours allows the milk to absorb the starch from the oats and rice making for a thicker smoothie. A thicker smoothie helps the chocolate shavings maintain their buoyancy. All of this obsessing paid off with a Mad Good Mint Chocolate Smoothie that’s smooth, creamy, slightly sweet with a tinge of mint and specked with chocolate. Mix up your own batch of blissful madness today. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Mint Chocolate Smoothie

Makes one or two servings

1-½ cups almond milk
1 large frozen banana, sliced
¼ cup old fashioned oats
¼ cup cooked brown rice
4 pitted dates
1/8 teaspoon mint extract
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
Shaved chocolate

Combine all of the ingredients, except the shaved chocolate, in a high-speed blender and process until smooth. Pour into a glass and stir in shaved chocolate. If you would like a thicker smoothie you can place in the refrigerator for a few hours.

05 Apr 2017

Oh, My Darlings: Pistachio-Date Nests

Pistachio-Date Nest

I wanted to come up with a dessert recipe to go along with a Mediterranean-inspired Valentine’s Day dinner and the first thing that came to mind was Baklava. Baklava is made by layering phyllo leaves, brushing the layers with butter, sprinkling them with walnuts (Greek style) or pistachios (Turkish style) and pouring honey over everything when it comes out of the oven. I didn’t think a vegan version would do this iconic dessert much justice, so I incorporated some beneficial ingredients (pistachios and dates), left out the “taboo” ones (butter and honey), added some chocolate (hey, it’s Valentine’s Day) and named them “Pistachio-Date Nests.” I used Athen’s Mini Fillo Shells because they’re ready to fill and are very cute. The filling is made by processing dates, pistachios and lemon or orange zest into a paste. A thin layer of dark chocolate adorns the top. They’re crispy, chewy, chocolately . . .  and cute. Be a darling and share some Pistachio-Date Nests with someone you love. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Pistachio Date Nests

15 mini phyllo cups (Athens fully baked, fill & serve)
½ cup raw, shelled pistachios
½ cup dates, chopped
Zest of one lemon or ½ orange
2 oz. melted dark chocolate (non-dairy)
15 pistachios for decorating

Place pistachios and dates in mini chopper and process until a chunky paste is formed. Fold in lemon zest. Lightly press the filling into the phyllo cups. Spread the melted chocolate on surface of filling and place one pistachio on top. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

11 Feb 2017

Whole Latte Love: Chia Latte Pudding

Chia Latte Pudding

Valentine’s Day originated as a saint day honoring one or more saints named Valentine. Through the centuries it has turned into a celebration of romantic, or “courtly”, love. We have romantic dinners, drink champagne and indulge in all things chocolate. I wanted to come up with a decadent-tasting dessert that you could enjoy even if you didn’t leave room for it. I think I pulled it off with this Chia Latte Pudding. The base is a chocolate chia pudding that’s sweetened with dates and maple syrup. The chocolate flavor is deepened by the addition of instant espresso. The light and creamy topping is made with silken tofu, dates and bananas. Keep it cozy by serving the pudding in an old-fashioned glass; or make an elegant presentation in a vintage champagne coupe. This Latte Chia Pudding looks elegant, tastes decadent and is simple and healthy enough to enjoy on a regular basis. Why wait until February 14th when you can celebrate love and dessert every day of the year? Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Latte Chia Pudding

Latte Topping:

12 oz. soft silken tofu
6 dates
1 ripe banana
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mocha Pudding:

2 cups almond milk
½ cup chia seeds, processed into powder
12 dates
½ cup cocoa powder (extra dark, if possible)
¼ cup maple syrup
1 Tablespoon instant coffee (if using instant expresso, use less)

shaved non-dairy chocolate and cinnamon for garnish

Place silken tofu, 6 dates, banana and vanilla into blender container. Process on high until super smooth. Pour into a 3-cup container, cover and refrigerate until set.

Measure chia seeds into coffee grinder and process until finely ground. Place ground chia, milk, dates, cocoa powder, maple syrup and espresso powder in blender container. Blend until smooth. Pour into a 4-cup container, cover and refrigerate until set.

To assemble:

Spoon mocha pudding into a parfait glass or other dessert cup. Top with a dollop of latte topping, then sprinkle with cinnamon and shaved chocolate. The ratio should be about two parts of mocha pudding to one part of the latte topping.

04 Feb 2017

Oh, What Fun: Buche de Noel

Buche de Noel, or Yule Log Cake, is a traditional dessert served at holiday time. The traditional recipe consists of a thin sponge cake that’s filled with raspberry jam, rolled up and decorated with chocolate icing to resemble a log. Through the years, other variations have been created that include chocolate cake, ganache and icings flavored with liqueurs. Since the Buche de Noel has turned into an “anything goes” recipe, I thought I might try my hand at a healthy, plant-based version. I used whipped aquafaba (the liquid from cooked chickpeas) to achieve a sponge-like consistency in the cake. The filling is made with silken tofu, non-dairy dark chocolate and dates. I wanted to use toasted hazelnuts and Frangelico liqueur for the cake, but I ended up using almonds and almond extract because that’s what I had on hand. If you prefer desserts that are not too sweet, you can omit the dates from the frosting. I dusted the top with some confectioner’s sugar. If you want to stick with tradition and decorate the outside to look like a yule log, you will have to double the frosting recipe. What I love about this recipe is that you can make different versions by using fruit filling, grated orange rind, different liqueurs or nuts or adding crushed candy to the frosting. Oh what fun you’ll have making and eating this beautiful Buche de Noel. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Buche de Noel

6 tablespoons aquafaba
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 cup sugar
2/3 cup pumpkin

½ cup (all-purpose or whole wheat pastry)
½ cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375F. Line an 11×15” rimmed baking sheet (jelly roll pan) with parchment and lightly grease the sides of the pan.

Place aquafaba and cream of tartar in mixing bowl. Using hand-held mixer, beat until soft peaks form. Add xanthan gum and continue beating until stiff peaks form.

Whisk together the sugar and pumpkin in a small bowl.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry and mix well. Gently fold in the whipped aquafaba.

Spread evenly into prepared baking pan and sprinkle nuts on surface. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until a knife comes out clean when inserted into center of cake. Remove and let cool a few minutes. (The cake needs to be warm in order to get it to roll up.) Place a clean baking towel on an un-rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Carefully invert cake on top of towel, then roll up. Let cool completely before filling.

Chocolate-Date Frosting

½ cup dates
12 oz. extra firm silken tofu
4 oz. non-dairy dark chocolate, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Pour boiling water over dates and let soak about one hour to soften. Place dates and remaining ingredients in container of a high-powered blender and process until smooth. Refrigerate until thoroughly cooled.

Buche de Noel

17 Dec 2016

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