The Story Behind My Favorite Muffin

A peek into my past: When Tim and I moved to Portland nine years ago we didn’t have jobs waiting for us and we didn’t have a place to live already chosen. We arrived in Portland completely free of commitments to adulthood. It was challenging, exciting, and incredibly enjoyable. Our first week was spent in a motel with a small kitchenette. We were not vegan at the time and our cooking skills were average at best.

When we finally found an apartment, I was elated that the kitchen was spacious with big windows lining two of the walls. It was a great apartment (aside from the monstrous black spiders that found pleasure by residing in the bathroom). We took advantage of our large cooking area and created and feasted on some delicious meals. We honed our cooking and baking skills. Meanwhile, I was working at a local kitchen/housewares store just down the street. Our kitchen slowly filled with all sorts of fun appliances.

And then, I discovered a recipe by Marcy Goldman (check out this amazing baking book she wrote – it is filled with incredible recipes, many which can be veganized!) that knocked my socks off – Original Buttermilk Lawsuit Muffins. I was making batches and batches of these muffins for co-workers and also for Tim and I to enjoy at home. They were (are) insanely addictive.

Back to the present: I mentioned to Tim yesterday afternoon that I wanted to make some muffins. He immediately requested “those buttermilk muffins” and I couldn’t resist. The recipe was easy to veganize and since I’ve made a few changes, I am sharing the recipe here so you too, can enjoy yummy muffins!

Banana Pecan Muffins (adapted from betterbaking.com)

Yield: 1 dozen muffins

Streusel Topping:

1 Tablespoon nondairy butter, chilled
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch nutmeg

Muffin Batter:

1 cup unsweetened nondairy milk (I used almond milk)
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup coconut oil
2/3 cup light brown sugar (use 1/2 cup if you prefer a less sweet muffin)
1/4 cup pureed silken tofu
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
zest from one large lemon
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 medium bananas, diced

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a muffin tin with paper liners (or lightly grease).
2. Using your fingers, mix together the streusel ingredients in a small bowl until crumbly. Set aside.
3. Add milk and vinegar to a glass measuring cup, stir briefly, and set aside to curdle.
4. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, pureed tofu, vanilla extract, and lemon zest. Add the curdled milk and stir well.
5. In a separate bowl, stir together flours, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Add to the wet ingredients and stir until no flour is visible. Fold in diced bananas.
6. Using a large spoon or cookie scoop, fill muffin liners to the top. Sprinkle streusel mixture evenly over muffin batter. Press gently to prevent streusel from falling off.
7. Bake muffins for 25-30 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Muffins should be golden and spring back when gently pressed. Allow muffins to cool briefly in tin before removing and placing on a cooling rack.

Enjoy!

Tummy Fillers

This morning Tim and I joined some friends for brunch at Blossoming Lotus. We are fortunate to live less that a mile from this wonderful vegan cafe yet we rarely indulge in their delicious food. I think cooking at home will always be at the top of my list!

Tim chose the Benedict which had maple seitan sausage, hollandaise sauce, and some other stuff on a biscuit. I didn’t sample Tim’s meal, but he cleaned his plate with a smile!

I chose the Florentine Scramble which consisted of tempeh (I subbed tempeh in place of tofu), fresh arugula, basil-hempseed pesto, and cashew ricotta. It was very good, but a bit too salty for my tastes. Next time I think I will opt for the Breakfast Parfait which has sprouted buckwheat granola layered with fruit, nuts, and agave-sweetened cashew cream.

Yesterday I created a new recipe for my brownie cookbook: Raspberry Poppy Seed Brownies. They turned out beautifully. This first batch was topped with ganache. The next batch will have a drizzle of raspberry sauce instead since the ganache overpowered the raspberry flavor in the brownie.

And finally, last week Tim and I went snowshoeing with our friend Dave. We were greeted with blue skies right around lunch time – it was a gorgeous day!

It’s supposed to snow later this week so we might get one more opportunity for snowshoeing before spring arrives.

 

Back to the Future (of Brownies)

I haven’t posted much about my brownie book lately. Writing a book that focuses on variations of only one dessert can become repetitive and boring. I am taking my time so that the allure of brownies remains exciting. Plus it’s easy to lose focus when the weather is warm, sunny, and welcoming! I created a new recipe this past week, and also retested an old favorite, making a few small adjustments.

Gluten-Free Banana Cream Pie Brownies – These treasures consist of a thick, fudgy brownie base topped with rich banana custard, coconut whipped cream, and frozen banana slices. There are plenty of healthy, wholesome ingredients in these brownies so there is no need to feel guilty for eating two. They received thumbs-up approval from my taste testers.

Chunky Cookie Brownies - I have made several variations of this brownie over the last seven months. I am the type of person who constantly changes a recipe until I am completely satisfied. And then once I am satisfied, I alter the recipe again because I change my mind! It’s a never-ending battle with brownie perfection. These sturdy brownies are studded with lots of crushed Newman O sandwich cookies. Extra cookies are smooshed into the top of the brownies right before baking. Two treats in one can be dangerous, but desserts are integral to our well-being so it’s okay.

I have plans for more brownie development in the next few weeks. I’m thinking PB&J Brownies and German Chocolate Brownies… What kind of brownies would YOU like to see? I can’t share too many sneak preview recipes yet since my testing phase is mighty strict, but I did post a recipe for s’mores-like brownies here. Happy Weekend!

Stuffing Cookies

Today I spent a majority of my time in the kitchen baking cookies (and bread). My birthday cupcakes haven’t disappeared and neither has the delicious vegan fudge spread Tim’s mom sent me. It seems as though a sugar palace exists in my apartment! I am not fretting too much though because Tim loves treats and can eat them before I overindulge. The cookies I baked today are a test recipe for Kittee’s forthcoming vegan and gluten-free cookzine. She is a gluten-deleting wonder!

The recipe is for Marshmallow Stuffed Cookies. They have three simple steps: bake the cookies, add the marshmallows (Dandies, in this case), and coat in a chocolaty glaze (therefore encasing the marshmallows). Here are the cookies before being glazed:

They look like cookie faces, don’t they?

And after:

In my clumsiness, I managed to sweep my fingers through the glazed tops of at least half the cookies. I need a vegan robot buddy to help me transport cookies from a cooling rack to a plate.

These cookies are sweet, delicious, fun to make, and even more fun to eat. If you don’t tell people there is a marshmallow surprise hiding under the glaze, they will be delighted when they bite into their cookie(s)!

Birthday Cupcakes

My attempt to reduce my sugar intake isn’t going as well as planned:

Purple Cow Cupcakes (grape cupcakes with vanilla bean frosting)

Today was my 34th birthday. I am not one to have big celebrations. In fact, I am quite the opposite. Tim and I enjoyed a long bike ride under sunny skies and lunch at our favorite vegan cafe. We visited with our good friend, Kittee. We played Bananagrams. And we made Purple Cow Cupcakes. Tim baked the cupcakes (prettiest cupcakes I’ve seen in a long time!) and I took care of the frosting. I wanted a birthday treat that was different and these cupcakes happily filled my wishes. The recipe is in The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life, courtesy of Hannah Kaminsky.

My day is slowly coming to a close and I hardly feel any older. I mean, I got tater tots, a wind-up toy snail, maple syrup, bubble gum lip balm, and hair holders for my birthday. Seriously, I will always be a kid at heart :)