vegan pfeffernusse cookies

Cardamom, clove, anise, and cinnamon make these lightly powdered traditional German/Dutch Christmas cookies (‘peppernuts’) a delightful respite from the season’s overly sweet sugar cookies.  Since I have quadrupled the spices, they are somewhat intense.  Feel free to lighten up on them if you want a gentler flavor.  I keep freshly ground Ceylon cinnamon and clove around, but freshly ground the anise seed, cardamom seed, and a peppercorn tricolor blend the first time I made them.  Second time around, I used already ground white pepper.  Both batches were fantastic; play with the spices as your cupboard sees fit.   Adapted from Down to Earth’s holiday cookie section.   They require chill time (an hour or overnight) to make it easy to form little balls that won’t flatten while baking.

pfeff bow

The lovely texture of these cookies improves with time — a light crunch as you bite in, then a soft pillow of spice in the middle.  Air them out for a while after completely cooled, then store in a tin.  Make more than you ‘need’ (like anyone needs cookies) and when you open that second tin the flavor and texture will be even better.

Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons anise
3 1/2 teaspoons Ceylon cinnamon
4 teaspoons each cardamom and clove
3 1/4 teaspoons white pepper
1/2 cup vegan butter
1/2 cup cane sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
2 tablespoons molasses
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
confectioner’s sugar for coatingpfeff bowls

Method:
1.  In larger of two bowls, combine all dry ingredients except the sugar.
2.  In smaller bowl, use hand mixer to fluff together vegan butter and sugar.
3. Add almond milk, molasses, canola oil and vanilla. The mixture will not be perfectly smooth as vegan butter behaves slightly differently than dairy butter.
4. In three batches, mix in dry ingredients, switching to a wooden spoon on last batch.
5. Form dough into a log, wrap in plastic and chill for an hour or more.
6. Preheat oven to 350 F. Make little balls about an inch each (about 40).
7. Bake on cookie sheets sprayed with coconut oil, 11-12 minutes or till lightly browned.
8. Handle carefully at first as they are tender right out of the oven; After a minute or so, remove with spatula and set out on a rack.
9. Dip pfeffernusse while still warm into a bowl of confectioner’s sugar, turning gently to coat. Do this a second time, after all of them are coated, if you like.

pfeff powdering

 

 

pfeff inside

miyoko’s artisan vegan ‘butter’

butter closeThis creamy ‘butter’ spreads beautifully, melts well, and works fine in baked goods.  You can smoosh fresh pressed garlic into it for garlic bread.   It’s ridiculously fast and easy.  Even better, it tastes so sweet and fresh you won’t miss butter, let alone Earth Balance’s (or various others’) tub of unpronounceable ingredients.  All you do is measure out six ingredients, whir them up in a blender, and chill.

The recipe is completely Miyoko Schinner‘s; the vegan cheese genius Miyoko gave me permission to blog it.  Found it on the lovely blog Luminous Vegans.  Adjust salt to your liking, from 1/4 tsp for extra sweet, to 1/2, to a whole teaspoon for lightly salted.  You can find plant-based lecithin in the health food section of most groceries or order it from Amazon. 

Ingredients:

(makes 2 cups) ingred butter

1 cup refined organic coconut oil (liquefied by warming)

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/4 cup canola or other mild oil

2 teaspoons liquid lecithin

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

 

Method:

1.  Whir it all up in the Vitamix or blender.  It will turn light yellow and smooth very quickly.

2.  Pour into a glass container, cover, and chill for about an hour.  It stays fresh in the fridge for about two weeks.

 

*Miyoko’s book, Artisan Vegan Cheese, is a real winner!  If you like this vegan butter, you may let someone know you want to experiment with vegan cheeses and end up receiving it for your birthday!

cinnamon apple pecan muffins

These coffee cake-like apple pecan muffins are delicious warm, spread with vegan butter or with cashew ‘cream cheese’.  Toast pecans lightly so those on top don’t overtoast during baking.  I use freshly ground Ceylon cinnamon.  Read the difference between cassia and Ceylon cinnamon here.  Yes, health benefits and flavor go together!

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I often use 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour so they’re not overly cupcake-like; don’t think you have to run out and get whole wheat pastry flour though.  The batter may seem a little dry at first but moistens up as the apples bake.   Recipe adapted from CoffeeVanilla blog.

Prep Time:  10 – 12 minutes

Cook Time:  25 -30 minutes

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour  (1/2 c of it whole wheat pastry flour if you like)

1/2 cup sugar (a largish half cup — heap it a bit).

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon20141111_143326

1 heaping teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1 large organic red apple

1 tablespoon flax seed + 2 tablespoons warm water

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/4 cup canola or other mild oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup whole pecans

Cinnamon Topping Ingredients:

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup vegan butter

1/4 cup light brown sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

(plus 1/2 c of above pecans, once toasted)20141111_145525

 

Method:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 F; spray muffin tin with coconut oil.

2.  Lightly chop then toast pecans on stovetop in small dry skillet till fragrant and lightly browned (about 7 minutes).

3.  Mix together dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices) in large bowl.

3.  Make topping by combining flour, vegan butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and, once cooled, 1/2 cup pecans.  Set aside. (Works        best if ‘butter’ is cold; set aside in fridge once made if it’s a hot day).

4.  Grind flax seed, whisk into warm water, then combine with almond milk, oil, and vanilla.

5.  Peel and chop the apple medium-fine.

6.  Stir liquid ingredients into dry ingredients; fold in pecans and chopped apple.

7.  Fill 12-muffin tin with mixture.  Place cinnamon streusel over top and press slightly.

8.  Bake at 350 F for about 25 minutes or till lightly golden browned.  Cool for just a couple minutes before removing from tin.  Place on a cooling rack.  Enjoy!

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vegan spinach artichoke dip

20141009_153540This creamy-textured dip will disappear quickly even at nonvegan gatherings.  Bake it in two ramekins if you want to freeze half to reheat another day.  Alter levels of garlic and spice depending on your crowd.  Adapted from this recipe by Dreena Burton.  Shown here served hot with organic blue corn chips.  A delightful alternative to hummus!

Ingredients:
2 generous c frozen artichoke hearts
2 10-oz pkgs frozen spinach (cut or leaf)
1 c raw cashews
3/4 c plain unsweetened almond milk
3 T lemon juice
1/4 c nutritional yeast flakes
3 -6 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 t spicy brown mustard
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t black pepper
3/4 t salt
2 pinches cayenne
generous few pinches freshly grated nutmeg

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Method:
1. Preheat oven to 425 F.  Thaw spinach (2 minutes in microwave) and squeeze most of the water out. Thaw artichoke hearts about halfway (1 1/2 minutes in microwave).

2. Place all ingredients except spinach and artichoke hearts into bowl of food processor. Whir it all up till quite smooth.

3. Process a little over half the artichoke hearts by pulsing just enough to chop slightly.

4. Remove blade and stir in spinach and remaining artichoke hearts.

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4. Bake in one or two ramekins, covered with foil, 18 minutes. Switch oven to broil; brown the top slightly, uncovered, for two to three minutes. Serve hot with sliced french bread, pita, or corn chips.

 

 

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vegan coconut milk yogurt

After months of experimention I have come up with a consistently successful recipe for vegan yogurt with light coconut flavor.  It’s creamy, tart, and (ta-da) nearly as thick as Greek yogurt!   My favorite way to serve this yogurt is with fresh fruit in season and vegan super granola.  The pictured yogurt has a swirl of over-the-top raspberry sauce.  Will blog that soon!

finishedyogred

Stirring agar agar powder (made from seaweed) into thick oat milk is the trick to a nice thick yogurt.  Until I developed that trick, most batches were delicious but quite runny.  Too much oat milk, though thickening, tasted too ‘oaty'; tapioca flour made it lumpy; guar gum, gritty. While soaking oats, make sure your kitchen counters are clean and take a few minutes to boil some water in your medium pot, then run it over your utensils and into the yogurt-culturing container.  This discourages unwanted bacteria from ruining your batch.  The sugar is not meant to sweeten the yogurt, but to ensure that good bacteria have something to gobble up.  Incubation time can be anwhere from four to eight hours, depending on your tartness preference.

This process is simpler and easier than it looks!

Days before you start, order this online: Vegan Yogurt Starter from Cultures for Health.  You will also need these:  Yogurt Thermometer and a Yogurt Maker.  A Nut Milk Bag comes in handy too.ingred

Ingredients:
1/2 c steel-cut oats
2 cans full-fat coconut milk
1 T sugar
1 3/4 t agar agar powder
1 packet vegan yogurt starter

 

Method:
1.  Soak steel-cut oats in water for thirty minutes. Drain and rinse well several times. Place oats in Vitamix or blender with enough water to measure one cup on blender container. Whir for twenty seconds. Place a bowl in the sink, catch the oat milk in bowl by squeezing it through a nut milk bag (it should make one half cup of very thick milk). Set aside.

2.  Pour coconut milk in medium pot and heat at medium high for about five minutes till it reaches 140 F.  (Do not overheat or yogurt will turn out runny no matter what else you do).  Take pot off burner.  Add sugar and stir.

3.  Add agar agar to oat milk; stir well.  Add that thick mixture to hot coconut milk.

4.  Let mixture cool to 110 F, stirring occasionally to keep it from forming lumps.  (This fine 68 F fall day, it took about thirty minutes to cool.  In summer, it takes longer.)

5.  Sprinkle contents of one packet vegan yogurt starter powder into mixure; stir.  Small air bubbles are not unusual here, as you can see in the photo of mixture ready to put into yogurt maker below.

6.  Pour mixture into container of yogurt maker.  Set timer for six hours.  If you have the model I have, you can leave the house now as it will begin chilling the yogurt after your chosen incubation time.  airbubyog

Chill and enjoy!

yogredfromtop

suze’s vegan oat bars

These nutritious breakfast or snack bars are simple to make.  Mix dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients, press into a pan, and bake. That’s IT.  This is an adaptation of a recipe my Wisconsonite friend Suze, who is ‘near-vegan’ for health and environmental reasons.  As she says, this is a ‘very forgiving’ recipe — you can make swaps and it still works.  Her notes:  I only use 1/2 cup of dried fruit.  While I feel the 1 ripe banana is a must, using 1/2 cup applesauce or apple jelly plus 1/2 cup water also works well .  1 cup of cranberry juice is great too!  Oh!  And lining the pan with parchment makes cleanup a breeze!  

Ha, leave it to me to use three times the fruit called for…and a heaping half cup of nuts!

 

snackbar

Prep Time:  10 minutes

Bake Time:  30 minutes

Ingredients:
2 c old-fashioned oats
1 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c whole wht flour
1/4 c ground flaxseed
2 T hemp seed (optional)
1/2 c brown sugar
2 t ground cinnamon
1 t freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 t ground clove
1/3 c each dried blueberries, cranberries, raisins (or any combination of dried fruits)
1/2 c toasted pecans or walnuts (optional)

1 ripe banana
1 c apple juice
1 t vanilla

Method:

Step One: Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray a 9 X 13 baking pan with coconut oil.

Step Two: Mix dry ingredients well. Toss in fruit and toasted nuts; mix.

Step Three: Mash the banana. Mix it with apple juice and vanilla.

Step Four: Pour wet ingredients into dry. Stir well with wooden spoon; use hands if needed.

Step Five: Press into greased pan. Bake for 30 minutes at 375. Cool slightly before cutting. Makes 16 -24 bars or squares, depending how you cut them.

drywetoat

finishedbars

vegan blueberry banana bread

Lemon zest completes the mix of delightful flavors in this fat-free vegan breakfast bread. Thanks to Susan at fatfree vegan kitchen blog for her excellent recipe.  After two months of nonblogging/winter hibernation, repeated success with this bread inspired me to go ahead and blog my tweaked version.  Confession: I don’t measure the nutmeg. I just grate enough to dust the mashed bananas well. 20140311_150036

Ingredients:

3 slightly overripe bananas
1/3 c almond milk (original unsweetened)
4 T brown rice syrup
2 T lemon juice + zest of half a lemon
1 c all-purpose flour
1 c whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 t baking powder
3/4 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
3/4 t cinnamon20140311_134427
1/2 t or so freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 c walnuts
1 heaping cup blueberries

Method:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray or grease loaf pan (9 x 5) with coconut oil.
Step One: Chop walnuts coarsely, then toast for about seven minutes over medium heat. Stir them every once in a while as they become fragrant and begin to turn golden brown.
Step Two: Mix together in larger of two bowls the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and walnuts.
Step Three: Mash bananas well with a fork. Grate nutmeg over them. Zest half a lemon and toss it over the bananas. Juice lemon(s) till you have two tablespoons of juice.
Step Four: Combine wet ingredients into smaller of two bowls: mashed banana mixture, almond milk, brown rice syrup, and lemon juice.
Step Five: Pour wet mixture into dry mixture. Stir gently till it becomes a nice dough — don’t overdo it. Fold in blueberries.
Step Six: Bake at 350 till golden brown, 55 minutes to an hour.

The banana bread slips right out, pretty much right away. Cool on a rack and serve still warmish, or toasted piece by piece (my favorite way to eat this) with Olivio spread.!