Mini Mac-n-Peas Pies

The weather in Portland has been quite beautiful lately. The days are filled with plenty of sunshine, blue skies, and streets lined with golden leaves. In order to induce fall weather, I have been sipping mugs of tea in the evening and layering the blankets on my bed. It seems to be working because today was cloudy, rainy, and COLD! It’s about time. I love this time of year for many reasons: cozy knee-high socks, foggy mornings, the sound of rain on my roof, increased energy for baking, and warming, delicious meals are a few examples.

The meal above was created in celebration of finally getting our car repaired. We are keeping our fingers crossed that our finicky 2002 Prius stays out of trouble for a while. Seriously, hybrids are wonderful for fuel efficiency and compactness, but when a part malfunctions, you better think about playing the lottery…

Let’s get back to our lunch! Last week I received two logs of Cheddar Teese Sauce from Chicago Soy Dairy. Since Tim and I rarely buy cheese alternatives, it’s somewhat of a luxury to have some in our refrigerator. I created a quick lunch that was both filling and comforting: Mini Mac-n-Peas Pies. They were the perfect accompaniment for watching episodes of Daria (LOVE this show). The idea behind these lil’ pies was to take the traditional bread crumb topping on baked macaroni and cheese recipes and turn it into the crust for a pie. So essentially, the bread crumb topping is on the bottom! This recipe serves two but you could easily double (or triple and make into a standard-sized pie) the recipe if you are serving a larger group of hungry vegans.

Mini Mac-n-Peas Pies

Serves 2

For the crust:

1 cup dry bread crumbs (use gluten-free bread or crackers to make this recipe gluten-free)
3 Tablespoons melted Earth Balance (or vegan butter of choice, or 2 Tablespoons oil of choice)

For the pasta:

1 cup dry pasta shells (I used brown rice pasta)
1/2 cup frozen green peas, thawed
1/2 tube Teese Cheddar Cheese Sauce
1 Tablespoon stoneground mustard (or mustard of choice)
Paprika for sprinkling
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a small bowl, mix together the melted butter (or oil) and the bread crumbs using your fingers. The mixture is ready when it holds together if you press a clump between your fingers.
3. Distribute the mixture evenly between two 4-inch mini pie pans (about a 1/2 cup per pie pan) and press it firmly onto the bottom and up the sides.
4. Place the pie pans on a baking sheet and bake them for 6-8 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Don’t turn off the oven.
5. While the crusts are cooling, fill a saucepan with lightly salted water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cook your pasta according to package directions. Just make sure it is al dente since you will be baking it later.
6. Drain the pasta and return it to the saucepan. Squeeze about half a tube of the cheese sauce into the saucepan with the pasta. Stir well to distribute and then add in the peas. Stir once more to evenly distribute the peas with the pasta.
7. Divide the pasta mixture between the two pie pans, sprinkle generously with paprika, and salt and pepper as desired.
8. Bake the mini pies for 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before devouring with your dining companion(s).

*If you don’t have access to Teese or other commercial vegan cheese sauces, you can use any cheese sauce you prefer for this recipe.
*Try replacing the peas with broccoli, roasted red peppers, or other veggie of choice.
*Sprinkle the tops with homemade cheesy crumbles (I grind equal parts cashews and nutritional yeast in my spice grinder).

Enjoy!

Army of Cupcakes

Believe it or not, these Pumpkin Cheesecake Cupcakes document my first time using pumpkin this season. I know most folks are finished with pumpkin, but I got off to a late start. And while I only made a dozen, it sure seemed like an army of cupcakes when I lined them up on the table! Four down, eight to go!

Pumpkin cupcake + cream cheese frosting + graham cracker crumbs = cheesecake in cupcake form!

Pumpkin Cupcakes (adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World)

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup unrefined sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/2 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and fill a muffin tin with liners. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients (flour through cloves).
3. In a glass measuring cup, stir together soy milk and vinegar and let sit for a few minutes to curdle. Stir in pumpkin, oil, and vanilla extract.
4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix until no flour remains.
5. Distribute batter evenly amongst muffin liners and bake for 18-22 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched.
6. Allow cupcakes to cool for a few minutes in tin before removing and placing on a cooling rack.
7. To assemble cupcakes, pipe cream cheese frosting on tops and sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs. Voila!

A few notes:

*I used the cream cheese frosting recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.
*I used the graham cracker recipe from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar and ground them in my food processor. I didn’t use the entire batch of graham crackers.

Happy Pumpkin Season!

 

Chocovado Chip Cookies

I woke up this morning with a desire to bake cookies and immediately did some inventory control in my kitchen. I didn’t have any Earth Balance. I didn’t have any canola oil. I didn’t have any applesauce. But, I really wanted cookies. So, I did what any swift-minded vegan baker would do, I used an avocado! And guess what? It worked wonderfully. You can’t taste the avocado in the cookies, I promise! Just make sure to use a ripe avocado because an unripe avocado would not taste very good. These cookies remind me of a fudgy brownie. They puff up a bit and have a slightly crunchy exterior with a gooey, chocolatly interior. Perfect for breakfast!

Chocovado Chip Cookies

Makes about 15 cookies (more or less depending on the size of your cookie scoop)

1/2 cup ripe avocado
1/2 cup unrefined granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted if clumpy
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1-2 Tablespoons non-dairy milk (I used almond milk)
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 T tapioca starch
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Generous 1/2 cup  chocolate chips (please use organic, fair trade)
Extra granulated sugar for sprinkling, optional

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat liner.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large mixing bowl using an electric hand mixer), beat the avocado until creamy, about 1 minute.
3. Add in the sugars and cream until fluffy.
4. Add in the cocoa powder and beat on low speed until fully incorporated.
5. Add in the vanilla extract and nondairy milk (start with 1 Tablespoon of milk and add more if the dough seems to dry, I used 2 Tablespoons) and beat until everything is well mixed, about a minute. The dough will be a bit stiff, like brownie batter – that’s what you want!
6. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, tapioca starch, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry mixture to the chocolate mixture and beat until mixed.
7. Add the chocolate chips and stir them into the batter with a spoon to evenly distribute them in the cookie dough.
8. Using a cookie scoop, drop  2 rounded Tablespoons of dough per cookie onto your prepared baking sheets. Flatten slightly with damp palms and sprinkle with a bit of granulated sugar. Bake cookies for 8-9 minutes or until puffy. Allow to cool on cookie sheets for several minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

These are best enjoyed warm!

“F” is for Fudgy Triple Chocolate Gluten-Free Brownies

Longtime readers of this blog know that last year I was writing a vegan brownie cookbook. While I haven’t completely given up on the project, it isn’t on my list of priorities right now. I still love brownies though! Today I thought it would be fun to share my recipe for Fudgy Triple Chocolate Gluten-Free Brownies. Yep, triple chocolate indeed (and gluten-free)! They are really simple to prepare and even more fun to chomp down with your beverage of choice.

Fudgy Triple Chocolate Gluten-Free Brownies

Ingredients:

2/3 cup warm water
3 Tablespoons flax meal
1/2 cup vegan butter
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 1/4 cups unrefined sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup oat flour
1/3 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/3 cup vegan white chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease an 8×8″ metal baking pan.
  • In a small glass measuring cup, whisk together water and flax meal. Set aside to thicken.
  • In a large, microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter and the first measure of chocolate chips. Make sure to stir well in 30 second increments, until smooth. *Since microwaves vary in power, I suggest setting your microwave at medium power. You can also use a double boiler if you prefer.* Let cool slightly.
  • Add flax mixture, sugar, and vanilla extract to chocolate mixture and stir until well combined.
  • In a separate bowl, sift together flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, and xanthan gum. Add dry ingredients to chocolate mixture and stir until no flour is visible. The batter will be thick.
  • Fold in the white chocolate chips.
  • Spoon batter into prepared baking pan and smooth out the surface with a spatula.
  • Bake for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted halfway between the edge and the middle of the pan comes out with a few damp crumbs. DON’T OVERBAKE! The middle will appear unset and this is how it should be.
  • Remove brownies from oven and cool completely on a wire rack. Once cool transfer the pan to the refrigerator and chill for at least a few hours so the brownies set properly. This is important for a fudgy texture.
  • Cut into squares and serve. Store in the refrigerator for best results.
  • Makes 9 large or 16 small brownies.
Enjoy!

“C” is for Choconut Doughnuts

When I arrived home from a work orientation today, Tim immediately demanded doughnuts. Not one to turn down a baking opportunity, I lovingly obliged his request and made chocolate coconut doughnuts. These were inspired by Mighty O’s Don King doughnut, which is a chocolate doughnut with chocolate frosting and shredded coconut sprinkled on top.

They came out pretty well! I adapted a doughnut recipe from Mama Pea and used the ganache recipe from here.

Choconut Doughnuts

3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch of cinnamon, optional
pinch of nutmeg, optional
3/4 cup unsweetened plain almond milk
1/2 cup unrefined sugar
2 Tablespoons vegan butter (I used Earth Balance Coconut Spread), melted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 recipe chocolate ganache (click the link)
~1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 6-count doughnut pan.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flours, cocoa, baking powder, salt, and spices.
3. In a glass measuring cup, stir together milk, sugar, butter, and vanilla.
4. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir well to combine.
5. Pour batter evenly amongst the doughnut pan and bake for 11-13 minutes.
6. Remove from oven and allow doughnuts to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
7. Once doughnuts are cool to the touch, dip the tops in the ganache and sprinkle generously with shredded coconut. You will have leftover ganache, but who’s complaining?

Enjoy!