“B” is for Blueberry Vinaigrette

Despite the disappearance of sunshine in Portland, I’m still eating salad like it’s the middle of summer. Today I decided to make some vinaigrette for a raw kale salad that is on tonight’s dinner menu. The last of my frozen (hand-picked) summer blueberries disappeared into a massive smoothie last week but I really wanted blueberries in my salad dressing. What to do, what to do… As luck would have it, there are still a few jars of homemade blueberry jam in my pantry! So, I whipped up a blueberry vinaigrette in a matter of minutes. It is tangy, fruity, and simply delicious. I have yet to toss it with kale and sliced almonds, but I know it will be tummy pleasing :)

Easy Blueberry Vinaigrette

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons blueberry jam (my jam is very low in sugar, but use whatever you prefer)
Small pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a glass jar. Put on the lid, and shake, shake, shake! Store in the fridge.

There’s Something About Cherries

Well, it might be time to admit that I am a bit obsessed with picking fruit in the summertime. Colorful jars of jam are stowed in my cupboards and numerous pounds (and varieties) of berries are tucked in my freezer. I am running out of space quickly and blueberries, marionberries, peaches, and pickles are still waiting for my attention. In the meantime, I will make doughnuts:

What you see above is a batch of organic cherry doughnuts. These were inspired by cherry doughnuts I used to enjoy when I lived in Cleveland’s Little Italy neighborhood many years ago. I actually lived down the street from a teeny doughnut shop called Presti’s and they had amazing cherry doughnuts. I could smell them from my apartment! Those were the days… Well, actually, I can sometimes smell VooDoo Doughnuts from my neighborhood now, so I guess not much has changed!

Anyway, let’s get back to those cherry doughnuts! I adapted a plain cake doughnut recipe from the always entertaining Peas and Thank You blog. I have tampered with several vegan doughnut recipes and I think I finally settled on one that makes me happy. I have made these twice in one week since cherries far outnumber people in my kitchen.

*A few notes about this recipe: I made cherry juice using my juicer. If you don’t have a juicer, store bought cherry juice should work, just make sure it isn’t loaded with icky ingredients. Also, make sure to really chop those cherries for the doughnut batter! The tinier, the better (you could give a handful of cherries a whir in a food processor to save time). If you have a juicer, use the cherry pulp extracted from your juicer instead of chopping cherries.

Cherry Doughnuts 

(recipe adapted from Peas & Thank You)

Ingredients for doughnuts:

3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup oat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch cinnamon, optional
pinch nutmeg, optional
1/2 cup pure cherry juice
1/4 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used almond milk)
1/2 cup unrefined sugar
2 Tablespoons melted coconut oil (any oil would work here, I just prefer coconut oil)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3-4 Tablespoons very finely chopped fresh cherries (use sweet cherries, like Bings)

Ingredients for cherry glaze:

1/2 cup organic powdered sugar, sifted if lumpy
1-2 Tablespoons pure cherry juice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 6-count doughnut pan with coconut oil.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.
3. In a glass measuring cup, stir together cherry juice, non-dairy milk, sugar, coconut oil, and vanilla extract.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until no lumps remain. Gently fold in the chopped cherries.
5. Spoon batter evenly into doughnut pan.
6. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until doughnuts are golden on top. Remove pan from oven and allow doughnuts to cool in the pan for at least 5 minutes before inverting them onto a cooling rack.
7. While doughnuts are cooling, make the glaze: In a shallow bowl (one that is wide enough to dip doughnuts into) whisk together powdered sugar, cherry juice, and vanilla extract. Add the cherry juice 1 Tablespoon at a time until you reach a consistency you are happy with.
8. Once doughnuts are completely cooled, dip the top half of each doughnut in the glaze and allow them to dry before devouring!

Enjoy! I’ll be back soon with a post on homemade pickles!

Just Another Cookie Recipe

I am pretty sure we all have our favorite recipe for chocolate chip cookies, right? My favorite is one Tim and I created years ago in an attempt to replicate a cookie brand we loved in New Zealand. While they didn’t turn out exactly the same, they were close and pleased us immensely. When I veganized the recipe, they were even better; imagine that!

The other night Tim requested chocolate chip cookies (big surprise!). It was late, I was lazy, and I didn’t feel like following a recipe. My solution was to toss ingredients into my mixing bowl and hope for the best. Who needs baking science?

The result was a delicious, chewy, chocolate chip cookie with a subtle hint of coconut.

A few notes about this recipe: I am pretty sure you could reduce the sugar amounts to 1/3 cup each and still have excellent results. Also, I used light coconut milk but it was very thick, and that is essential for this recipe.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

yield: about 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

1/2 cup vegan butter, softened
1/2 cup organic light brown sugar
1/2 cup organic, unrefined sugar
1/3 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon coconut extract
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup organic chocolate chips
2 T unsweetened shredded coconut, optional

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment or Silpat.
2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
3. Mix in the coconut milk, vanilla extract, and coconut extract.
4. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir well to combine.
6. Stir in the chocolate chips and coconut.
7. Use a cookie scoop (or spoon) to distribute dough onto prepared baking sheets.
8. Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until cookies are slightly golden. Allow to cool on the cookie sheets for a few minutes before transferring to cooling racks.

Enjoy!

One Special Sammie

Last month, I spent a week in Omaha helping a much adored cookbook author make dozens of pies. In between all the baking, sweeping, and intermittent couch lounging, we took advantage of Omaha’s fine vegan food offerings. I posted about them previously, here, here, and here. My favorite place we dined at was The Daily Grub. I had a veggie sandwich that was absolutely unique and delicious:

Veggie Sandwich = Roasted red peppers, sweet potato, avocado, and pepita spread tucked between a toasted baguette

I vowed to recreate this tummy pleasing lunch once I returned to Portland. And then, I forgot about it for nearly a month. It was bulk pumpkin seeds at my local co-op that sparked a memory of this sandwich. Yesterday I took shelter from the (never-ending) rain and made my own version:

And I fought off laziness and wrote down a recipe to share!! Here we go:

Roasted Veggie and Pepita Spread Sammie

(inspired by The Daily Grub’s Veggie Sandwich)

Ingredients

1 large red bell pepper (yellow or orange would work too, but NOT green!)
1 large sweet potato (orange fleshed would be the prettiest, but I had boring white ones), peeled
1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1 small clove garlic
Juice from 1 medium-sized lemon (about 3 1/2 Tablespoons)
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
4-6 Tablespoons water, to thin
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 large avocado, sliced
1 long, good quality baguette (I found a nice, seven grain baguette at Trader Joe’s)

Directions

1. Preheat your oven broiler and line a small baking sheet with parchment or foil. Set aside.
2. Cut the bell pepper in half lengthwise and remove seeds and core. Place cut side down on the foil and place in the oven. Broil until the outside of the pepper is charred and black, approximately 10-15 minutes (WATCH CLOSELY, TIME DEPENDS ON YOUR OVEN). Remove from oven and cover with a bowl until cool enough to handle.
3. Lower oven temperature to 400 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment or a Silpat.
4. Cut the sweet potato in half lengthwise. Cut each half into planks about 1/4″ thick (or just a tad thicker). Place sweet potatoes on prepared baking sheet and roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes, until spotted and tender. Make sure to flip them over halfway through roasting. Remove from oven and set aside. While the sweet potato is roasting, peel the charred skin from the roasted pepper and slice pepper into long, thin strips.
5. To make the pepita spread: Place pumpkin seeds, garlic, and lemon juice in a food processor and process until well combined, stopping and scraping the sides of the machine as needed.
6. Drizzle in the olive oil, 1 Tablespoon at a time until the mixture is relatively smooth.
7. Add in the nutritional yeast and continue to process. At this point the mixture should be thick and pasty. Add in enough water to thin it to your desired consistency. You want it to resemble pesto. Add salt and pepper to taste and process breifly to combine everything.
8. To assemble: Cut the baguette widthwise into desired number of sandwiches (mine yielded 4). Cut each portion in half lengthwise and toast lightly. Spread each piece of bread generously with pepita spread. Top with sweet potato planks, roasted red pepper strips, and avocado slices. I added lettuce to my sandwich. Spinach or arugula would be tasty too. You could also add a drizzle of hot sauce if that floats your boat. Enjoy!

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!