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adapted from Supermarket Vegan by Donna Klein

1 (15-ounce) can cannellini or other white beans, rinsed and drained
1 (7.25-ounce) jar roasted red bell peppers, well drained
1 to 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 to 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 (10-inch) flour tortillas, preferably whole wheat
several handfuls of spinach
4 Gardein Chick’n Scallopini
4 tbsp Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds

In a food processor fitted with the knife blade, or in a blender, process the beans, red bell peppers, lemon juice, oil, garlic, salt, and black pepper until smooth and pureed. Transfer to a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate a minimum of 30 minutes, or overnight.

When it’s almost chow time, toss the Chick’ns onto a lightly greased nonstick skillet, cook the first side for a few minutes over medium heat, and flip over. Top each with a tablespoon of Daiya shreds, and cook for another 2-3 minutes, until the “cheese” is melty. Remove from skillet and set on a plate with a paper towel to cool. Cut each into 1/2-inch strips.

Prepare the wraps by placing the tortillas on a flat work surface. Spread equal amounts (about 1/2 cup) of the bean mixture on each tortilla, leaving a 3/4-inch border all around. Place a handful of spinach leaves (or, just two leaves if you wanted to follow the original recipe… I figured the more greens, the merrier) in the center of each tortilla. Place the “cheesy” Chick’n strips on the spinach leaves, and tightly roll up each tortilla from the edge nearest you, tucking in the sides and leaves as you roll. Makes 6 servings.

I found this while looking for recipes for sandwiches- I’m already fantasizing about what to serve guests at our toddler’s birthday party in a few months. I was drawn in by the beans and roasted red peppers. This recipe is probably too close to what we served at last year’s party to make an appearance at this year’s, but I still had to make it. This was so easy to make (as are all of the recipes I’ve made so far out of this cookbook), and lent itself easily to adaptation. It would be really good with some basil leaves mixed in with the spinach leaves, especially if you tone down the lemon juice a bit (I used just over a single tablespoon and tasted it more than the garlic, which I refused to limit to 2 cloves…). This really would make a great nibble for a play date in the park. Come on sunny days! Let’s have more than one in a row. Because spreading your picnic blanket on wet grass? Not so much.

from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

1 c canned pumpkin
1/2 c nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c packed brown sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c oat flour
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
a handful of shelled pumpkin seeds for garnish (I opted for chunky sea salt instead)

First, reduce the pumpkin. Place it in a saucepan over medium heat for about 45 minutes. Keep the heat low enough that it doesn’t boil, but it should appear to be steaming. Stir often. After about 30 minutes, spoon the pumpkin into a liquid measuring cup to check on how much it has reduced. It should be down to around 2/3 cup at this point. Return the pumpkin to pot and cook until it has reduced to 1/2 cup. Set aside to cool completely.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, use a hand mixer to cream together the shortening and sugars until light and fluffy. Mix in the cooled pumpkin and vanilla.

Sift in all remaining ingredients and mix to combine. Spoon onto cookie sheets in rounded tablespoons of dough, flattening the tops with your hand. Arrange a few pumpkin seeds in the centers, if you like (or just give them a sprinkle of big salt chunks, if you prefer, like I did. NOM!).

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Makes 2 dozen cookies.

Pumpkin is something that my pantry is never without. So when I decided to make cookies on a whim one morning, these were an obvious choice. And the fact that I had to spend some time reducing the pumpkin meant that there would be no cookie dough for my mid-morning snack. I don’t know if I’d quite sell my soul for this cookie though. Maybe the intro for the recipe just built up my hopes so high that they were impossible to fulfill, but there just wasn’t enough pumpkin to them. I was hoping for something a bit more autumnal, really… and I think throwing some molasses in there somewhere might have given me what I was looking for. As far as cookies go, yes, they’re really good, especially with the delicate salting I gave them to bring out the sweet. They texture- firm, and not crumbly at all, is what really made this cookie win for me. I might have enjoyed just a bit more chew (hello, molasses?). But really, tasty little bites of yumminess, these were. About the reducing business- it actually took more like an hour for me to get to the desired half cup. But, perhaps I was being a bit conservative with the heat on the stove, as I didn’t want to come back from chasing my toddler around to find scorched pumpkin. The rest of the can of pumpkin made for a delish snack for the two of us, sprinkled with cinnamon. Another win for VCIYCJ!

from Basil & Wine

Here is the recipe!

I have no idea how I stumbled upon this, but I’m so glad that I did! She’s got a lot of really great recipes, and I was really intrigued by this one. And just recently, I saw that our local vegan cupcakery has a similar treat in their case! With chocolate frosting! So really, it’s a fabulous idea. I made a few without chocolate chips for my daughter, and froze them. She loved them! The rest of them tasted mostly of chocolate, with a hint of avocado and banana, but really, they great thing about them is the texture. Dense and chewy and heavy (they taste like they’re a little underdone even!). Totally my style, and apparently my daughter’s as well. Sadly, the recipe didn’t quite make a dozen (it claims to make 10-12). Ten smaller muffins is what I got out of it, but so worth it! And really, for a treat they’re pretty healthy, and beyond easy to make. These will definitely be a staple in our house for snacks for baby, without the chocolate chips. But maybe with chocolate sauce as an option for us older folks.

from Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

1 c nonhydrogenated margarine, at room temperature
1 1/4 c sugar
1 tbsp molasses
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 c semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F.

Cream together the margarine and sugar until fluffy. Add the molasses and vanilla. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt, and mix well. Fold in the chocolate chips. Drop by teaspoonfuls spaced a little over 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until ever so slightly browned. Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. Makes 3 dozen cookies.

This here is the dough that you would stir into your soy ice cream to make the perfect cookie dough ice cream, veganized (wait, that sounds familiar. I might have said that about another cookie dough… at least I’m conisistent!). It’s really good. I ate way too much of it. And still ended up with 4 dozen cookies, which leads me to believe that our dear author meant that we should drop the cookies by tablespoonfuls. The cookies were pretty small, and didn’t need that 2 inches between them on the cookie sheets. They were a really nice few bite- size, with two cookies being a perfect serving. I did end up baking them for almost 12 minutes though, so maybe teaspoonfuls is what she meant indeed. I don’t know. I’m not complaining! Just keep an eye on them as you get to the end of your baking time! Also, the dough seemed a bit crumblier than I’m used to, but using my melon baller to shape the cookies worked like a charm.
I fed these to my non-vegan aunt and uncle, and mom and dad when they visited, and they seemed pleased with them- so much that a pretty significant number had disappeared by the time they left. I think they tasted even better the day after I made them, though nothing beats a chocolate chip still melty from the oven. Another win for Isa!

A week before Halloween, I decided to make this costume. In the past, I would have these HUGE costume birthday parties the weekend before Halloween, and in the last few years, I’ve somehow lost the urge to spend an entire month preparing for my birthday drinking weekend. I was actually really let down by myself; that I wasn’t eager to find or make the perfect costume for my little one- something that I’d always looked forward to doing as a mom. But that urge kicked in as I was dredging through the limited selection of reduced price costumes online a mere seven days before my favorite holiday. I saw a costume like the owl one pictured above in a virtual shop that my bestie showed me back in August, but it was too springtime flowery and too spendy. It haunted me as Halloween got closer. Finally, when it seemed that I already had too much on my plate between trying to finish up a commissioned portrait, taking a watercolor class, and the rest of daily life, the urge really struck.
Six days before the holiday, we headed out to the fabric store to purchase our fabrics. I used scrap felt for the eyes and beak, a scrap of fuzzy fleece for the chest and face, and the rest is purchased flannel, perhaps about a yard in total. I did a few sketches, and used an existing hood from one of her sweatshirts and a tighter hat as a guide for the owl’s head, and then constructed the rest of it on my own. I must say, I work best under pressure. Because in those six days, I was able to finish a 3×4 foot portrait of my nephew dog, prepare this cake (for the 4th time, with raisins, BOMB!) for mine and my mom’s birthday, spend a day with mom, learn some new watercolor techniques, carve some pumpkins (see below) and bust this costume out.
I’ve taken some pattern drafting classes in the past, and I must say, if you like to sew, and want to learn to sew your own clothes that fit perfectly, I highly recommend seeking some out. It definitely helps if you are one of those people who enjoys visualizing and translating a three dimensional idea into a two dimensional pattern and back into a three dimensional product, but it’s something that you can definitely get better at. I found my class at our community college, and learned SO much in just two trimesters.
I don’t have a pattern for this costume 1) because I didn’t have time to make one and document as I worked, and 2) because it’s so similar to the one I was inspired by. Next year though, I’m thinking ahead. I’m going to start early. It’s going to be fabulous. Hold me to this. Please.
Another festive thing that took place were these bars:

Salted Caramel Popcorn Pretzel Bars adapted from Shutterbean

Nonstick cooking spray
12 cups plain popped popcorn (from 1/2 cup kernels or 2 microwave packages)
4 cups coarsely chopped small salted pretzels
1 cup toasted almonds, chopped
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
2/3 cup Unsweetened MimicCreme
2 cups (1 package) Dandies vegan marshmallows

Coat a 9 x 13″ baking dish with cooking spray.  In a large (your biggest!) bowl, toss together popcorn, almonds and pretzels.  In a medium saucepan, bring sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 cup water to a boil over medium high.  Boil, undisturbed, until mixture is amber in color–8-12 minutes.  Remove pan from heat and slowly pour in cream (mixture will sputter).  Immediately add marshmallows; stir until melted.

Pour caramel mixture over popcorn and pretzels and quickly stir with a rubber spatula to coat.  Transfer mixture to dish and use a dampened hands to press the mixture into the pan.  Sprinkle with a heavy dose of kosher salt.  Let cool completely before cutting into bars.

They were SO GOOD. I veganized them, using this awesome product called MimicCreme that I found recently at my market, in place of the heavy cream, and Dandies vegan marshmallows in place of the regular marshmallows. Those marshmallows have the best flavor, I had to resist eating half the package. It paid off, and these made such great treats to share with friends and family. As Shutterbean shared with me, the recipe claims to make 12 servings, but those would be HUGE. I ended up with 24. And I’m the queen of out of proportion portions! I’d recommend chopping up the marshmallows so that they melt more easily- though they aren’t jet-puffed, they’re not minis either! They’re much denser with a better flavor than the regular nastioso marshmallow. A special thanks to Bean for coaching me through this- from not disturbing the boiling sugar mixture to reassuring me that this concoction really WILL fit into that 9×13″ pan!
And, here are my pumpkins. I like to wait until just a few days before Halloween so that they don’t get all yucky and moldy, needing a shovel to be disposed of. Also, I was smart this year and wore vinyl (Latex would work too, if you aren’t allergic like me) gloves to guard against that awful dry skin that I always get from carving multiple pumpkins. I can’t believe it took me so many years to figure this out. I always do a kitty as my warm-up pumpkin. It’s tradition:

I hope that you had a happy Halloween!

from Quick and Easy Vegan Comfort Food by Alicia C. Simpson

1/2 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 c ground flaxseed
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1/3 c sugar
1 c plain soy or oat milk
1/4 c canola oil plus more for the muffin pan
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 c grated carrot (about 2 medium-large carrots)
3/4 c raisins soaked in warm water for 10 minutes and drained, soaking optional (I did, and loved the plumpification that happened as a result)
1/2 c chopped pecans or walnuts, optional

Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a muffin pan with baking cups or lightly grease with canola oil.

Mix the flours, flaxseed, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar.

Create a small well in the center and add in the soy milk, oil, and vanilla. Mix until there are no more clumps of flour or flaxseed.

Fold in the carrots, then raisins and pecans, if using.

Fill the muffin tins or baking cups three-quarters full. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Makes 12 muffins.

Amazing! I made these super easy, super quick muffins to freeze as the occasional sweet snack for my baby. She LOVES them! Since the day she hurdled into toddlerhood, she’s been a bit pickier about her veggies, so I’ve been trying to figure out ways to sneak them in to her favorites, which now happen to be carbs (she is my kid, after all), and fruit. So, we have lovely combos of beets floating in applesauce, and veggies in her dessert. Someday, when she’s trying to get my grandbaby to eat well, she’ll totally understand.
This is the third recipe I’ve tried from this book, and I think so far it’s the best! Simpson has another cookbook that just came out this month! Here it is- anybody want to send me a birthday gift? You know how much I like to share…
I must admit, I upped the cinnamon and nutmeg in this recipe. I like things spicy! I also think that the combo of those spices makes things taste a bit sweeter. Plus, cinnamon is really good for you. Overall, these muffins are actually quite good for you too. Flaxseed, carrots, whole wheat flour… maybe subbing agave syrup would be an option too. And coconut oil for the canola? Yum. Let me tell you, it was really good slathered on top of the muffin, so I know the flavors can play nice together!

from The Gluten-Free Vegan by Susan O’Brien

4 c washed and chopped baby spinach
1 c Maple Candied Nuts (another recipe from the cookbook, but I used some from Shutterbean– recipe to follow)
1/4 c finely chopped red onion
1/2 c seeded and chopped red bell pepper
2 large pears, cored and chopped (about 2 cups)
Vinaigrette of your choice (I used Balsamic)

Place all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss with your preferred dressing. Chill and serve. Serves 4.

The Gluten-Free cookbook author wrote that she loves to make this salad so that she can eat the walnuts. As soon as I read that, my mouth watered as the memory of some spicy walnuts that arrived in a fabulous Christmas package from my BFF last winter came to me. I don’t think my husband even knew that they were in our house. Surely he didn’t know how many I had- I might have given him a sample and acted like I was going halvesies with him, but really I’d already eaten 90% of the bag. (Sorry Mike, I hope that the fact that I made this batch and will certainly make more will make up for that. Sheepish grin…) They’re really, really easy to make, and when I brought them over to my mom’s house the day before we were to eat the salad, they asked me to hide the container so that there would still be some left for the salad! I know what I’ll be stuffing stockings with this year… Just look at these little gems! Spicy and sweet perfection.

Spicy Maple Glazed Walnuts from Shutterbean

(Recipe from Rachael Ray Magazine)

1/4 c sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp maple syrup
2 c (about 7 ounces) walnuts

In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, salt, black pepper, cayenne, ginger and cinnamon; set aside. Pour the maple syrup into a large bowl and set aside.

In a large nonstick skillet, toast the walnuts over medium-high heat, stirring or shaking the pan constantly, until they are hot, about 5 minutes. Immediately add the nuts to the maple syrup and toss to coat. Stir in the spice mixture until the nuts are evenly coated. Spread the walnuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Let cool completely before serving, about 20 minutes. Makes 2 cups.

from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

2 large of 3 small very ripe bananas
1/4 c applesauce
1/4 c canola oil
1/2 c sugar
2 tbsp molasses
2 c all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg (or grated fresh)
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.

In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas really, really well. Add the sugar, applesauce, oil, and molasses, and whisk briskly to incorporate.

Sift in the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt. Use a wooden spoon to mix until the wet and dry ingredients are just combined.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes. The top should be lightly browned and a knife inserted through the center should come out clean.

Remove from the oven and invert onto a cooling rack; flip the bread right side up and let cool. Makes one loaf.

I’ve always been a big fan of banana bread, as it’s such a tasty way to clean up that pile of browning bananas before they turn into liquid on your counter top. This recipe was super easy, and not so far off from higher-fat banana bread. It simply lacks the greasy feel you sometimes get with banana bread, which I find to be quite unnecessary anyway. The authors explained that using a hand mixer to whip together your banana bread ingredients will make it gummy! Who knew? So I dug out my trusty potato masher and went to town on those bananas, then proceeded with a wooden spoon. Delightfully easy!
The molasses adds a really nice rich flavor, and paired with the nutmeg could help turn this into a holiday favorite. But it was really good when I made it a few weeks ago too (ok, so I got really behind with baby’s birthday party, 4th of July weekend, and visiting with lots of friends). It did take more than 45 minutes to bake. I wish I could tell you how long, exactly, but I had a braindead moment when I turned off the oven as I turned off the oven timer after the initial 45 minutes of baking time. So, over an hour later, my knife is still coming out with goo on it. The top was brown though! Basically I ended up with 4 good pieces of bread from the ends, and a big undone mushy spot in the middle of the loaf. Sigh. I was getting really frustrated before I realized that the oven was off… and then I got even more frustrated when I understood my error. I just need one more do over, to quote one of my favorite movies.

from Shutterbean, originally from The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method by Jim Lahey

3 c bread flour
1/2 c raisins
1 1/4 tsp table salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c walnuts
1 1/2 c water
1/2 tsp instant or active dry yeast
pinch of fresh ground pepper
wheat bran, cornmeal, or additional flour for dusting (I just used extra flour)

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, raisins, walnuts, salt, cinnamon, yeast, and pepper, mixing thoroughly. Add the water and, using a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until you have a wet, sticky dough, about 30 seconds. If it’s not really sticky to the touch, mix in another tablespoon or two of water. Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature until the surface is dotted with bubbles and the dough is more than doubled in size, 12 to 18 hours.

When the first rise is complete, generously dust a work surface with flour. Use a bowl scraper or rubber spatula to scrape the dough out of the bowl in one piece. Using lightly floured hands or a bowl scraper or spatula, lift the edges of the dough in toward the center. Nudge and tuck in the edges of the dough to make it round.

Place a tea towel on your work surface and generously dust it with wheat bran, cornmeal, or flour. Gently place the dough on the towel, seam side down. If the dough is tacky, dust the top lightly with wheat bran, cornmeal, or flour. Fold the ends of the tea towel loosely over the dough to cover it and place it in a warm, draft-free spot to rise for 1 to 2 hours. The dough is ready when it is almost doubled. If you gently poke it with your finger, it should hold the impression. If it springs back, let it rise for another 15 minutes.

Half an hour before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 475 degrees F, with a rack in the lower third, and place the covered 4 1/2 – to 5 1/2 -quart heavy pot in the center of the rack.

Using pot holders, carefully remove the preheated pot from the oven and uncover it. Unfold the tea towel and quickly but gently invert the dough into the pot, seam side up. Cover the pot and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the lid and continue baking until bread is a deep chestnut color but not burnt, 15 to 30 minutes more (It took me and Shutterbean about 15). Use a heatproof spatula or pot holders to gently lift the bread out of the pot and place it on a rack to cool thoroughly.

I love bread, and I love baking (like you couldn’t tell), but for some reason I’m really intimidated by recipes that call for yeast. What if I don’t get the water temperature right? What if it doesn’t rise? What if I hurt the bread when I’m kneading it? Well, this recipe was such a super intro to breadmaking for me, and it is SO TASTY. I would consider doubling the walnuts next time I make this (and that will be soon, you can count on it), as I’m a total nut fiend. Biting into the bread for the first time was lovely indeed, but when I came to a bite with a walnut, I finally understood the raves that Shutterbean gave it. Such a delightful chew-crunch!
I also must thank Shutterbean for her advice on rising. I was so afraid that our house wasn’t warm enough for the dough action we needed, and I was also concerned about the cats getting into it. She suggested that I heat my oven to 200 degrees F and turn it off. Once it’s cooled a bit, you can put the bowl in there to rise. Perfect! This solved both of my problems. It worked like a charm for both rises.
I started the dough at 9pm, and had the bread out of the oven by 1pm the following day… and promptly gave half of the loaf to my mother in-law, as I knew from that first bite that this bread was trouble! Note to self: do not make this bread before your husband has to work late at night. You will regret it.

from How it all Vegan! by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer

Flax Seed Crackers:
1/2 c flax seeds
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp margarine or vegetable shortening
1 tsp dried oregano (optional), or
onion powder (optional), or
dried dill (optional)
1/2 c soy milk

Preheat oven to 325F. (I’d wait to preheat until the dough is done chilling. Unless it takes a LONG time for your oven to get warm…) In a food processor or with your hands, blend together the flax seeds, flour, baking powder, salt, margarine, and optional spices until well mixed. Place in a medium bowl and slowly add the milk. Mix and knead together until dough forms a bowl. Chill dough for 10-20 minutes.

Divide the dough into 4 equal parts. In between 2 sheets of wax paper, roll out the dough very thinly to form a rectangle. Cut into 6 squares, or use cookie cutters. Repeat with the remaining dough. Transfer the crackers onto a lightly oiled cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes, then flip them over and bake for 5 minutes more. Makes 24 crackers.

Garlic Dill Cream Cheese:
1 c soft or medium tofu
1/4 c cashew pieces
2 tsp sweetener
2-5 cloves garlic, minced (you know I went for 5!)
1-2 tbsp water (I ended up needing closer to 4, to keep my blender going)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tbsp dried dill

In a blender or food processor, blend together all the ingredients until smooth and thick. Place in sealable container. Will keep in the fridge for 4-7 days. Makes approx. 1 cup.

So, this was my first adventure in cracker baking. It was pretty fun! I doubled both recipes, because over the weekend we were expecting a few visitors, and I do like to have something to offer…. plus, I haven’t covered any savory snacks in the blog so far. I made the cream “cheese” while the crackers baked, and the entire production took about an hour. For the crackers, I didn’t add any of the flavorings, because I wanted to put jam on some of them, so they were very basic. I might sprinkle salt on top of them before putting them in the oven next time, but I am a total salt freak. I might have rolled the crackers too thick, as I’m likely to do with cookies. I used a baking mat and cling wrap for the rolling production, because I don’t have wax paper… maybe that was part of my problem? I think it worked out well anyway. These little slabs were the perfect vehicles for the cream cheese… which was SO ZIPPY due to that raw garlic! Glad I played it safe and stayed within the given range of cloves; I figured I should since it was such a wide one. The spread was quick to make, aside from having to keep adding a little water at a time to keep things blending… this stuff would be great on a sandwich, and I also used it as a topper to a scramble for our dinner last night. Super tasty! I’ll definitely be making this again, perhaps without the crackers though. They disappeared too fast.

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