Monday, April 2, 2012

Ideas Welcome, Inspiration on Backorder...

Lately there hasn't been much going on in my kitchen.  I haven't been all that busy, I really have no excuses.  One thing I will say is that I haven't made anything truly inspired lately.  I know with the warmer weather I want to be outside more but food has always been a welcome end no matter how hectic the day has been.

Kitchititipi, Upper Peninsula, MI.  (A pretty picture to distract me from not knowing what to cook. :P)

Lately, food and I have been at odds.

I've more or less run out of ideas that really drive me into the kitchen with an urge to create and be creative.  I lack motivation to make things I've already made and lately we've eaten a lot of bagels (home- baked of course).  I'm in some kind of weird cooking rut and all attempts to get out on my own have seen only very temporary success.  I think it's time for reinforcements.

Thats where you, my faithful readers, come in.

I want you to share all your ideas with me, no matter how crazy they are! What is something that you want converted to be vegan? What do you crave lately?

No matter how crazy the flavor combinations I will consider even the oddest suggestions.  After all I did recently make Jalapeno- Pineapple bagels with a crunch chili pepper crust.

What do you want to see here? What should I make? What have you made recently? Share!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Raspberry Mousse Bars

I was so excited about it being my birth month that I have told every one, and I say it out loud at least ten times a day in my own home, which definitely tried the patience of my ever so patient Dan.  Honestly, how does he put up with me?  Maybe it's the desserts!

This recipe is a quick one and allows for a lot of variation.  Don't feel like you have to use the exact ingredients I use, these bars would be delicious with many kinds of berries and with a variety of nut crusts.  Get creative! Or just follow what I've written down, there's no shame in following something tried and true!

I have no idea what I'll do for my birthday on Saturday but it will definitely involve lots of delicious food, wonderful company, and great fun!

Raspberry Mousse Bars (makes one 9x9 or 8x11)
2 C. Mixed nuts of your choice (I used pumpkin seeds, macadamia nuts, and almonds, all raw but you can roast them if you like)
2.5 T. Coconut Oil, melted
2-3 T. Palm Sugar
2 T. Flax meal (or substitute sesame seeds if you like them)

Raspberry Layer:
12 oz. package Berry Medley, thawed (Strawberries, Raspberries, Blueberries)
2 T. Dried Cherries
1/4-1/2 lb Firm Tofu (depends on how creamy you want it)
1 t. Vanilla
2-4 T. Palm Sugar (to taste)
2 T. Vegan Mayonaise
Dash Salt
2 T. Agar Agar Flakes (heaping)

Grease a 9x9 or 8x11 baking dish (or whatever dish you are using) and line with parchment paper.  Grease the top of the parchment paper a little too.

1. Put everything in a food processor and process until it all sticks together and it a medium-coarse meal.
2. Press into your dish of choice firmly with your fingers.  Sprinkle with a little salt if you like (optional).

Raspberry Layer:
1. Put all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend thoroughly, very thoroughly.  You want all the seeds from the berries to be chopped up.  Scrape down the sides of the blender and run it a few times on high.
2. Transfer the mixture to a small saucepan and simmer for 5-10 minutes to allow the agar agar to dissolve. Stir often so it doesn't burn to the bottom.
3. Remove from heat and pour over the crust mixture.  Allow to cool slightly before putting it in the fridge to set.

Notes:This dessert is quick to make and can be made ahead.  It can also be frozen in single servings and eaten frozen or thawed. If you can't wait for this to set, or yours doesn't set for some reason I find that this is heavenly over vanilla ice cream! Keep covered in the fridge to keep it firm.  I don't expect this dessert to last long!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Happy Groundhog Day!

So because it is my birth month I've decided to indulge myself a bit during the next 30 days.  I decided to start with these magnificent cinnamon rolls! As cliche as it is to say this, it's true that you can't eat just one! I put pumpkin not only in the bread part but in the filling as well to give it a nice velvety texture and sneak in some extra vitamins. So I guess you could argue that these are healthy? Maybe? No? I'm going to pretend they are anyway.

Now this recipe uses the baguette recipe with some modifications.  You can always halve this or you can freeze extra rolls either before or after baking to save them for later.  This is not a "super easy" recipe, it does take a little bit of time, but its well worth it!  These do not need a glaze but if you would like one you could always add that on top after they've baked.

These cinnamon rolls have a distinctive pumpkin and cinnamon flavor, and are moist and delicious.  The bread part is a little more firm so these stay together better while you are eating them.  Don't be shy with the filling! It's really what makes these rolls great!

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls ( Makes about 22 Rolls)
2.5 C. Bread Flour (plus extra for rolling out the dough)
1 t. Fine Salt
1/4-1/3 Honey (or other liquid sweetener, to taste)
1/4 C. Warm Water
3 T. Maple Syrup
2 1/4 t. Yeast (1 package)
1 C Pumpkin Puree
1/2 t. Ground Cinnamon
1/2 t. Pumpkin Pie Spice

1.5 C. Walnuts
1.5 C. Pecans
1/2 C. Pumpkin Puree
1/2 C. Palm Sugar (or brown sugar)
1/3- 1/2 C.  Honey (or other liquid sweetener, to taste)
1/3 C. Maple Syrup
2-3 T. Ground Cinnamon (generous)
1/4 t. Ground Nutmeg (optional)
2 T. Vegan Butter
1/2 t. Fine Salt
9 dates, diced into pea sized pieces
Pinch of Ground Cloves and Ginger

1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Proof the yeast in the warm water.  Mix all other ingredients, plus the yeast mixture in a mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 1 hour. It won't rise much and that's ok.
2. Put pecans and walnuts in a food processor and pulse until they are a coarse meal. Some larger pieces are ok.  Add nuts and all other ingredients together and mix thoroughly.
3. Divide the dough in two pieces. Roll on a floured surface into rectangles about 10"x14" (less if you want a thicker, more dense bread). 
4. Spread half of the filling on the dough and roll it fairly tightly into a log. Take a sharp knife and cut the log into sections. How many is up to you but I did between 8 and 10 per log depending on how tall I wanted the rolls to be. Mine were about 1.5" or so tall. Repeat for the second log.
5. Place finished rolls on a baking sheet or in a 9" cake pan (non stick or greased) and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Notes: These keep for several days and you can always make them ahead.  I have never frozen them but I imagine that would also work.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Happy February!- Triple Chocolate Truffle Torte

Tried to get a picture before it was completely eaten!

For a while now I have claimed the whole month of February as fair game for celebrating my birthday. Even though my actual birthday isn't until later in the month I find ways to celebrate all throughout February.  It's also rather convenient that with Valentines day also being in February there is plenty of chocolate for me...yum.

Dan and I don't celebrate Valentines day because we celebrate how much we love each other many times a year; whether it's a special dinner, a "date night," or just snuggling up to watch a movie. I get to be playfully demanding during my birth month and frequently use it as an excuse for slightly indulgent behavior. :P Dan is a very patient and understanding man, and he humors me the whole way.  How lucky an I?

Getting on to the deliciousness, you really should try this torte. It doesn't take a whole lot of effort, the ingredients are easy to find, and it is very rich and satisfying. If you are looking for a dessert that deserves the label "death by chocolate," look no further!

Triple Chocolate Truffle Torte  (Serves 12)
1 C. Whole wheat flour
1/2 C. Vegan Butter or Vegan Shortening
1/2 t. Salt
1 T. White Vinegar
1t. Baking Powder
2 T. Cocoa powder
2 T. Agave (optional)

First Layer: (Mousse Layer)
1 pound Firm Tofu
10 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (or dark chocolate if you prefer)
1 t. Vanilla Extract
3 T. Maple Syrup

Second Layer:  (Ganache Layer)
3-4 Medium Avacadoes
2-4 T. Cocoa Powder
1 t. Vanilla Extract
1 t. Ground Cinnamon
1/4 C. Palm Sugar (or other granulated sweetener)
3 T. Water
Agave (to taste)

Make the Crust:
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix all ingredients with your hands in a bowl until well combined.  Press crust into a greased or non stick spring form pan. Allow some crust to reach up the sides about 1 inch or so.
2. Bake for 15 minutes, remove from oven and allow to cool.

First Layer:
1. In a small sauce pan melt the chocolate chips (you can also use a microwave if you want to) over low heat stirring frequently so they do not burn. Once completely melted remove from heat, add maple syrup and vanilla and mix well.
2. In a blender place the tofu and the chocolate mixture and blend until very very smooth. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides and check for any remaining lumps of tofu.
3. Pour on top of (mostly) cool crust and spread it out so it's even. Place in fridge to cool while you prepare the Ganache Layer.

Second Layer:
1. Put all ingredients in blender and blend until very smooth. You may have to scrape down the sides with a spatula a few times but it's worth it! Keep in mind that granulated sweeteners may need additional time to dissolve so give the mixture an extra minute or two to set before the final tasting  to decide on the sweetness.
2. Pour and spread the second layer over the first.  Chill for 30 minutes before serving for best results.

Notes: There isn't much to say here other than the directions make this seem like it's going to take longer than it will. I made this in about 30 minutes.  The nice thing about this is that it's rich enough that you can eat/serve smaller servings so hopefully it will stick around longer! You can also freeze this if you like more of an ice cream cake consistency or if you want to make it ahead of time.

Happy February!
A close up of the layers.