Vegan Dessert Recipes

The blog Kiss Me, I’ve Vegan! has published an awesome vegan cookbook review of…

Dessert recipes!!

Even better, my test of the vegan chocolate pudding is included in the reviews! (I’m the one that was inhaling the cocoa).

Check it out: Just In Time For The Holidays: A Dessert Cookbook Review Extravaganza!

Yummy 🙂

And while we’re at it – my fave food blogger Emily posted a vegan White Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookie recipe. *dies*

A Twist on Baked Beans

It’s grilling season! What’s the one thing you always find at a summertime cookout? Baked beans.

I just tried baked beans for the first time this summer. I know – all these years, you’d think they’d have been one of my favorite foods – so sweet and smoky. But no. I thought they looked weird. Strange color. Mushy. So I never tried them. But when I finally did (since this is the Year of Trying New Foods), whaddya know – I loved ’em. Doggone it.

So last night when I dug through my produce drawers in the fridge to see what had to be used up, imagine my glee when I found a couple corn on the cob! (Corns on the cob? Corn on the cobs? Whatever!) I’ll take any excuse these days to throw veggies on the grill.

What goes great with grilled corn on the cob? A grilled veggie burger or veggie dog, of course! (I went veggie burger, to have an excuse to try out a new jar of pickles I got at the Lockport Farmers’ Market – a spicy dill pickle). And… baked beans!

I was feeling creative as I dug through the pantry, so instead of whipping up traditional baked beans, I went with a new twist on an old favorite: BBQ baked lentils.

These took a little while to prepare, as the lentils take a half hour to cook, and then the baking process takes another hour – but really, I only spent 5 minutes or so actually tending to the prep. The rest of the time was unattended cook time. So, they’re easy! If you plan ahead just a bit to fit them into your schedule, they’re well worth the wait.

Lentils are a great source of plant-based protein (third highest behind soybeans and hemp). When not going with the traditional cookout meal, I could see having these lentils on top of a salad or in a wrap (hmmm that may have to be my lunch today!) They’d even be good mixed with some brown rice and a side of greens for a complete protein and some vitamin C to help with the absorption of all that good iron in the lentils.

Behold: a typical summertime meal!

bbq baked lentils

[recipe-show recipe=bbq-baked-lentils]

Grilled Banana Sandwich

Oh, you sweet, decadent thing, you. You naughty, naughty thing… or maybe not so naughty! A naughty imposter.

Behold: the grilled banana sandwich.

grilled banana sandwichOr, the bottom half of the grilled banana sandwich.

Sweet, delicious goodness. This brunch sandwich was inspired by Caitlin’s Grilled Banana Sandwich over at Healthy Tipping Point. The only real difference is that I vegan-ized mine to avoid using eggs and dairy. This thing is like french toast and bananas all wrapped up in a sandwich!

I figured this would make a good post-run meal, as it’s got a good amount of carbs (and readily-available sugars via the bananas), and a little bit of protein. (I actually pumped mine up a little by adding a tablespoon of hemp protein powder to the liquid mixture, but didn’t add that to the recipe as it was pretty specific to my workout recovery goals – but for the record, it worked just fine!)

grilled banana sandwich

The whole thing clocks in around 300 calories, and makes for a pretty darn huge breakfast! You could even eat it like french toast – though I don’t think any syrup would be required, as the warm grilled bananas offer plenty of gooey delicious topping. I have visions of tossing warm blueberries on top next time. This one is definitely entering the regular rotation 🙂

[recipe-show recipe=grilled-banana-sandwich]

Italian Eggplant over Pasta

This week’s trip out to Whole Foods Market yielded a beautiful purple organic eggplant! I’ve never cooked with fresh eggplant – only with pre-prepared, frozen varieties. I was excited to get to work with the real thing!

I knew I was going to go Italian with this beauty (thanks to Armando for the suggestion!). I wanted to try grilling it, but rain (like Niemi) said NO! Enter: the ol’ George Foreman grill. There’s got to be a way to make eggplant on the George, right?!

Indeed! So I whipped up a simple cornmeal breading with oregano, garlic salt, and a little chili powder. Then I sliced up that eggplant and rubbed each slice with a light coating of garlic-infused olive oil. I dredged the slices through the cornmeal breading, patted them down, and tossed them onto the George Foreman grill. 5 minutes later, they smelled wonderful! I transferred the eggplant rounds to a baking dish, topped with a jar of organic basil marinara and some Daiya dairy-free mozzarella, and baked for 15 minutes until the cheese melted.

I served the eggplant and marinara over some whole-wheat pasta, and decided I could eat that dish ALL DAY LONG. Mwah! SO good!

Fresh eggplant is SO much more delicious than the frozen varieties! It tasted so fresh, but was so easy to make. And, regarding non-dairy cheese – I’ve tried quite a few brands, all of which have disappointed me. But this Daiya brand – I have found a winner! It feels a bit more moist than typical shredded cheese, but melted and stretched just like dairy cheese, and tasted wonderful! It almost had more of a parmesan taste to it, but that was fine with me. Daiya vegan cheeses are casein-free, dairy-free, have no cholesterol or trans-fats, all natural, and free of common allergens like soy, gluten, lactose, and others. Thumbs up!

I was drooling as everything came together with this meal and as such, didn’t take the time to get a picture – but this meal is definitely going into my weekly rotation!

[recipe-show recipe=italian-eggplant-over-pasta]

No-Mess Sweet & Sour Tofu

I just received my first issue of Vegetarian Times magazine (I love magazines!!), and was excited to see a section with some recipes made using FOIL! Recently, my sister-in-law Amanda suggested I try roasting veggies and such with foil for easy clean-up. I hadn’t thought of that (I’m new to this “cooking” thing, remember?!) So when VT came to my rescue with some recipes, I barely waited a day to try one out.

My first foil adventure is with the Sweet & Sour Tofu Packets recipe from the May/June 2010 edition of Vegetarian Times. I adapted the recipe to what I had on hand, leaving out a few spices and using a bag of frozen organic tri-colored peppers instead of the recommended fresh red and green ones. Still, it turned out really good!

Sweet and sour tofu ingredients

I’m totally hooked on these Garlic Gold nuggets from Kath’s Open Sky Store. They’re tasty and crunchy and organic!

TofuI’m also totally digging tofu. It’s so versatile! And it takes on the flavor of whatever you cook it with. This recipe originally called for Asian-marinated tofu, but as hungry as I was, I just couldn’t bring myself to commit to the hour or so required for a proper soaking. I knew, however, that the tofu would pick up the wonderful flavors of the pineapple and coconut milk, so I wasn’t worried.

I learned a tofu trick from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s “Food for Thought” podcast over at Compassionate Cooks. She recommends freezing the firm varieties of tofu, then thawing them before using. It makes the tofu much easier to drain (you can almost wring it out!) – no more stacking towels and books on your tofu blocks. It worked really well for this recipe and saved me a good 20 minutes or so.

making packetsHere’s a packet, ready to fold up and pop into the oven! Tofu, veggies, pineapple, and a sweet-and-sour coconut milk sauce. I learned some cool things about coconut milk from another recent book purchase – Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide by Brendan Brazier. He explains how that while coconut milk is high in saturated fat, it is made up of short-chain and medium-chain fatty acids that the body quickly turns into energy instead of storing as fat. That’s a good thing for people looking for a quick energy boost or for weight loss. It also contains lots of vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes.

Sweet and sour tofu over brown riceTada! My packets turned out a little runny – I drained off some of the liquid before storing the remaining leftovers, but hadn’t figured that out in time for this plate! I served the sweet and sour tofu over brown rice. It was exactly what I was expecting – yummy, sweet, and sour. This meal came together really quickly and had very little clean-up due to the use of the foil packets. Thumbs up!

[recipe-show recipe=sweet-and-sour-tofu]

Tempeh Sausage, Gravy, & Biscuits

I get my taste buds from my father. He loved rich foods. He also wasn’t above having breakfast for dinner, and many a night I’d find myself having sausage, gravy, and biscuits at twilight. I have very fond memories of meals at the local Bob Evans restaurant, with their red and white checkered tablecloths, soaking up sausage gravy with big ol’ biscuits, just like my daddy did.

Eating is a very intimate process, and we tie it inextricably to our social customs as well. I have a lot of memories tied to certain foods – biscuits and gravy being one of them. Having grown up an omnivore, many of those foods include meat and dairy products. Giving up meat doesn’t mean I have to give up those memories, though. I’m realizing more and more that food is just a trigger for those memories, and similar foods bring me the comfort of my memories just the same.

That’s what I pondered as I ate this vegan version of sausage, biscuits, and gravy – all the while remembering those days of playing straw-wrapper hockey with silverware across the table from my dad.

This meal comes from one of my new cookbooks: You Won’t Believe It’s Vegan!: 200 Recipes for Simple and Delicious Animal-Free Cuisine. It’s a great little cookbook – I’m looking forward to trying out a bunch of the recipes in it. I just wish the font for the ingredient lists was a little bigger. I have to squint and stick my face right up to the book to read the fractions. (OK, you can all stop with the old-age jokes!)

First up: biscuits!

These biscuits were quick and easy to make, though I did discover that I don’t have anything in my kitchen to cut biscuits with. I really though I had cookie cutters or something, but I couldn’t find them. I ended up using a tiny little condiment bowl that I surely stole from some restaurant with my doggie bag. (Sorry!) It worked just fine!

Cutting biscuit doughI kept re-rolling the dough scraps and cutting more biscuits until the dough was all gone. The recipe said this would make 12 biscuits, but mine made exactly 24. I have a feeling I rolled the dough a little too thin, as the recipe said 1/2 inch thick. Well…. it seemed like it was 1/2 inch thick! I guess not.

Unfortunately, I ended up over-cooking my biscuits a little. The instructions said to bake them 8-12 minutes, or until golden brown – mine weren’t getting golden brown, so I tacked on 4 minutes or so to the 12. When they still weren’t brown, I got worried and took them out of the oven. Sure enough, they just weren’t going to get brown. (Note – I cooked them all in a single layer on 2 baking sheets – then threw them all together when done because I needed my other baking sheet for the tempeh sausage!)

BiscuitsI’m also afraid my baking soda and baking powder has lost its oomph. It’s several years old (I’m ashamed to say, probably more than 5 years old), and this isn’t the first recipe that hasn’t quite risen as expected. I think it’s time to get some fresh leavening agents!

Next up: the tempeh sausage.

This was my first time cooking with tempeh. Originally from Indonesia, tempeh is a soybean product like tofu, but unlike tofu, it’s made from the whole bean and has a higher protein, fiber, and nutrient count. It has a firm texture – much more firm than tofu.

The first step was to grate the tempeh. I’ve never used a box grater before (I’m not even sure what I have IS a box grater!), so it took me a few tries to get the hang of it. (The bowl kept sliding all over the darn counter, until I figured out a way to grip both the bowl and the grater at the same time).

Grating tempehAlways choose organic tempeh if you can. Most non-organic soy products are made from genetically modified soybeans (yuck! I prefer my food from the earth, not from a test tube, tyvm!)

After adding the rest of the ingredients (including lots of spices), I scooped up handfuls of the tempeh mixture and shaped them into patties. This stuff was really easy to work with!

After baking:

Vegan sausage pattiesLast step: the gravy.

This too was simple to whip up while the tempeh sausage cooked, but my photo of the gravy did not turn out. Boo!

When everything was done, I plated up 2 biscuits (since mine were half the size they were supposed to be), topped them with a tempeh sausage patty, and then slathered on some gravy. My plate looked a little empty, so I toasted an organic whole wheat muffin and topped it with some green garden puree that I made yesterday. Disregard how totally off-center I plated everything!

Vegan biscuits and sausage gravyTurns out, my eyes were bigger than my stomach, and I couldn’t finish the second slice of muffin. But the rest was fantastic!

Would this sausage fool a meat eater? No way. But, does it offer flavors similar to sausage? Absolutely. Did it provide the same memory triggers that its meat-based equivalent would? Oh yeah. (Did it fill me up? OMG, stuffed!)

I think next time I make this (and there will definitely be a next time!) I’m going to try crumbling the sausage into the gravy instead of having it as patties. I think this tempeh sausage would also make a great topping for vegan pizza!

I believe my dad would be proud.

[recipe-show recipe=vegan-biscuits]

[recipe-show recipe=tempeh-sausage-gravy]

Sugar & Spice Muffins

I’ve discovered the most perfect muffins ever, thanks to GNOWFGLINS! I mentioned last night that I was soaking some whole wheat flour in preparation of baking these bad boys. This morning, while munching on the first half of breakfast (a bowl of Ezekiel raisin cereal), I baked up these muffins. I could not wait until they cooled – they smelled so good!

Sugar and Spice Soaked MuffinsThey tasted as good as they smelled! (You can see one muffin missing in the photo above…. it’s in my tummy!) The perfect muffin. Whole wheat goodness, soaked for optimal mineral and nutrient absorption, and ridiculously tasty – the perfect combination of sugar and spice (and everything nice).

You can find the recipe here: GNOWFGLINS Basic Soaked Muffins

I used the spices suggested by Wardeh in the recipe (cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg) and added raisins. I soaked whole wheat flour with organic raw apple cider vinegar overnight (about 12 hours). The only modification I made to the recipe was to use half of the recommended amount of coconut oil (as I’m watching my calories!). I think next time I will cut back a little on the sugar – these muffins are definitely sweet! Still, I’m going to call these the perfect muffins, because my goodness, they’re good!

I’ll be freezing half of the batch in ziplock bags, as it’ll take me a while to get through 12 muffins.

With the oil reduced to half, here’s the approximate nutrition info (per muffin):

182 calories, 6g fat (1g saturated), 26g carbs (3g fiber, 10g sugars), 5g protein, 3% Vitamin A, 9% Calcium, 6% Iron.

Pasta and Bolognese Sauce

Tonight, after checking out the Hadley Valley Preserve trail for the first time (it’s nice! A 2.5 mile looping trail through prairie), I tried out another one of Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious recipes: Pasta and Bolognese Sauce (with Stealth Ninja Sweet Potatoes). This one is healthy all around, with a bunch of carrots in there, too!

I suffered a false start on this one, as I got the onion and carrots all chopped up and in the skillet, then minced a couple garlic cloves right into the pot – only to find that my garlic had gone bad while I was away last week. Oh well. Tossed it all out and started over!

Instead of garlic cloves (I didn’t trust what I had left), I used 1 tsp of Garlic Earth Italian garlic salt – an organic seasoning that my friend Becky makes.

Score another winner for the Stealth Ninja Vegetable Experiment, and another winner for all organic ingredients! This one was so tasty I very nearly licked my plate clean. Highly recommended, and easy to throw together.

The recipe serves 8, so I immediately froze half of the sauce after dinner, then portioned the remaining 3 portions in the fridge for leftovers. I love a recipe that I can get some mileage out of!

[recipe-show recipe=pasta-bolognese]

Egg Puffs with Stealth Ninja Squash

I’m back! Sorry for the absence – I spent 8 days in New Mexico attending a photography workshop. It was the hardest working “vacation” I’ve ever had! And after a week of struggling to eat well, I’m back home and back at the vegetables! Hallelujah!

So let’s get to it!

It was slim pickings for dinner tonight, as my cupboards are nearly bare – but I did have enough to pull together another recipe from Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious cookbook. With that, I bring you Baked Egg Puffs with Stealth Ninja Squash! Sadly, there will be no pictures this evening, as I’ve spent so much time with my camera over the last week that we need a couple days apart. (I still have over 1,800 photos to go through from the trip!)

This recipe was super easy to make, and was quite delicious! Whisk together a few ingredients and throw it into the oven. As for its stealth ninja qualities, I think kids (or adults!) could be easily fooled with this one. It’s almost not necessary though, as the squash tastes really good with the eggs! I’ve learned from this stealth ninja vegetable experiment that I actually like squash (butternut squash, in this case). I had my egg puff with a side of veggie sausage patties – a wonderful breakfast-for-dinner!

The recipe suggests making the puffs in ramekins or small coffee cups. I, unfortunately, had neither, so I used larger coffee cups. Be aware that you might need to add a few minutes to the bake time with larger cups – I had to tack on 5 extra minutes. My puffs looked nothing like the picture in the cookbook, but I also used too much squash, so that might have affected it. Handsome puffs or not, they tasted great! I could even see throwing in some chopped peppers or onions (but that would defeat the stealth-ninja purpose).

[recipe-show recipe=egg-puffs]