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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!
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from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

Graham Cracker Crust:
12 graham crackers, or 1 3/4 c graham cracker crumbs
1/4 c canola oil
1 tbsp soy milk

Chocolate Pie Filling:
1 pound silken tofu (not the vacuum-packed kind), drained
1/4 c hazelnut liqueur (I used coffee liqueur, but the recipe says rice or soy milk work too)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp arrowroot powder
12 oz bittersweet vegan baking chocolate, melted

Maple Candied Pecans:
1 c pecans
2 tsp canola oil
1/8 tsp salt
2 tbsp pure maple syrup

Peanut Butter Caramel:
1/3 c peanut butter, smooth or chunky, at room temperature
3 tbsp pure maple syrup
2 tbsp brown rice syrup

Chocolate Drizzle:
4 oz bittersweet vegan chocolate, chopped, or 1/4 c vegan chocolate chips
1/4 c soy or rice milk

Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a 10-inch pie plate with cooking spray.

Prepare the crust: Process the grahams into fine crumbs. Place them in a bowl and drizzle the oil on them. Use your fingertips or a fork to mix in the oil until all crumbs are moistened; sprinkle in the soy milk and mix again. Pour the crumbs into the pie plate and firmly press them to the bottom and sides of the plate. Set aside.

Prepare the filling: First, melt your chocolate. Crumble the tofu into a blender or food processor. Add the liqueur, vanilla, and arrowroot to the tofu and blend until completely smooth. Scrape down the sides to make sure you get everything. Add the melted chocolate and blend again until completely mixed. Pour the filling into the pie crust and bake for 40 minutes. The center may still be jiggly but that’s fine.

Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack on the countertop for10 minutes, then chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours. The top of the pie should be firm to the touch.

Meanwhile , prepare your candied pecans: cover a large plate with baking parchment. Preheat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the pecans and stir them very frequently for 3 minutes, until they start to brown. Stir constantly for 2 more minutes, until they are a few shades darker and relatively uniformly toasted. (If a few don’t look toasted, don’t worry about it. That’s better than having them burn.)

Add the oil and salt, and stir for another minute. Add the maple syrup, stirring constantly for about a minute.  The maple syrup should get bubbly and dry. Use a spatula to transfer the pecans to the plate and spread them out as much as you can; it’s best if they aren’t touching. Place in the fridge until ready to use.

Once the pie has been chilling for at least 3 hours, prepare the peanut butter caramel and chocolate drizzle. Have your pie out and ready to be assembled.

To prepare the peanut butter caramel: Stir all the ingredients together in a small saucepan. Gently heat everything over low heat, stirring constantly with a fork, just until smooth and heated through. It should fall from your fork in ribbons. If it seems stiff, turn off the heat immediately and add a little extra brown rice syrup, until it’s fluid again. (This happens because different peanut butters have different amounts of moisture.)

Pour the peanut butter over the center of the pie, leaving an inch or two bare at the edges because it spreads. Get your pecans and place them on top of the caramel, pressing them in firmly. You may have to break the pecans apart from one another if they cooled touching.

Prepare the chocolate drizzle: In a small saucepan, heat the soy milk to boiling, then add the chocolate and turn down the heat. Use a fork to stir until completely blended. Turn off the heat and let cool for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

You can drizzle the chocolate over the pie with a spoon, but we like to put it in a pastry bag fitted with a wide writing tip and drizzle it that way, in stripes. Chill the pie for at least 10 minutes before serving, so that the chocolate firms up a bit. Serves 8.

Where do I start?!? I made this pie for my husband’s birthday. He loves pecans. He loves a gooey dessert as much as any sane person does, and chocolate isn’t too far down on his list of likes either. I’ve had my eye on this recipe for a special occasion; you know how I like a simple recipe, so this 5-part pie was a true expression of my love. I also asked him what he wanted for dinner on his birthday, and after a quick perusal of my blog, he chose this chili. Which was a huge relief, since it’s so easy and could be prepared ahead of time, leaving me the day to work on the pie and finish a painting for his gift.
The pie was INSANE. Insanely rich, insanely good. That peanut butter caramel is TO DIE FOR, and those maple candied pecans aren’t too bad either. Both of those I’d make again without making the rest of the pie- they’d be great toppings for ice cream or a simple cake. The chocolate filling is so dense and luscious. The only silken tofu available at the market was the vacuum packed kind, and it turned out really well; so I don’t know what the big deal is. Do you? The liqueur added a richness that I don’t think I was quite ready for. So did that chocolate drizzle! Maybe I’m just a lightweight, but I almost could not handle this pie. What I’d change if I were to make it again- I think I’d double the crust recipe. I had a hard time getting ample crust coverage on the pie plate. I’d make extra PB caramel. I would like more of it on the pie, and more to lick out of the saucepan. I’d also omit that chocolate drizzle. I don’t know if Mike would be very happy about that, but I feel that the caramel and pecans should be the star here, not the chocolate. But I guess it wouldn’t be so over the top with only four parts, right? Happy birthday Mike! I love you! xoxoxoxoxo

from The Garden of Vegan by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer

Decadent Brownies

1 1/2 c flour
1/2 c cocoa powder
3/4 c dry sweetener
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 c soy milk
1/3 c olive oil
1/2 c nuts (your choice), chopped

Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, sweetener, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the soy milk, oil, and nuts. Stir gently until “just mixed.” Pour mixture into a lightly oiled 8×8 baking pan, and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Makes 8-16 brownies, depending on how you cut them.

I didn’t set out to make two batches of brownies… it’s just that the first recipe really didn’t scratch the brownie itch I was feeling. Don’t get me wrong, the above recipe was indeed tasty and well received by my house guests, but they were too cakey for this dense brownie lovin’ girl. They were just like chocolate cake… granted I haven’t made a lot of brownies in my life, but would you peep that tower of a brownie? Looming over my Coconut Bliss was not how I’d pictured my dessert. I opted out of the nut invitation, due to allergies among our guests, and they were still tasty. I would definitely return to this recipe when seeking out a smaller chocolate cake. On to the batch of brownies I made later that week for a friend’s birthday celebration:

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

Midnight Brownies (a variation of the Espresso Fudge Brownies recipe)

3 oz semisweet baking chocolate, chopped
5 tbsp nonhydrogenated margarine (like Earth Balance)
2/3 c sugar
1/3 c nondairy milk
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 c plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp Dutch cocoa powder
2 tbsp black cocoa powder (I couldn’t find this so I used regular cocoa powder)
a pinch of salt

Line an 8×8-inch square metal brownie pan with enough aluminum foil so that it folds over the sides of the pan by about an inch. Spray the bottom of the covered pan with a little nonstick cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350F.

Place the chocolate and margarine in a large glass mixing bowl. Microwave at 50 percent power for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes until the chocolate is soft enough to melt into the melted margarine when stirred with a rubber spatula. Stir until smooth, add the sugar, and stir again to combine.

In a liquid measuring cup, vigorously whisk together the nondairy milk, cornstarch, and vanilla until foamy. Stir this into the chocolate mixture, using the rubber spatula, until completely combined. Sift in the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, and salt and fold into the chocolate mixture until moistened. A few small lumps are okay; do not over-mix. Scrape the batter- getting as much as possible- into the prepared pan and smooth it out evenly to the edges of the pan.

Bake for 22 to 24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out mostly clean with a few moist crumbs (but no gooey batter). Place pan on a wire rack to cool for at least 30 minutes, if possible allowing the brownies to cool completely before serving. Slice into 12 brownies. Store in a tightly covered container.

Now THESE are what I was after. No cakiness here, the few crumbs are sticky and dense. No frosting or Coconut Bliss needed (though still welcomed. Especially heavenly with this, ungh!). And they would be really good with walnuts, if that happens to be your style. Next time I might try the mint variation offered.
This was quite the learning experience- comparing the recipes is really interesting to me- the wet to dry ingredient ratio should have been more obvious to me, but now I know! Each brownie had her strengths. Tall girl was great for soaking up her melting toppings, whereas Shortie satisfied me like the many slices of berry pie, oranges and tall glasses of herbal iced tea did while I was pregnant. And if you’ve ever been pregnant…

from Viva Vegan! by Terry Hope Romero

1 lb summer squash: zucchini, yellow squash, pattypan, and so on, ends trimmed, but into 1/2-inch slices
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1 small onion, sliced into thin slivers
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive or peanut oil
1 lb calabaza pumpkin, butternut squash, or any sweet winter squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tsp dried oregano (I used 1 tbsp fresh)
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp lime juice
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 c fresh corn kernels (optional)
freshly ground black pepper

Place the summer squash in a bowl, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and let sit for 14 minutes. The squash will release excess water; when ready to use, rinse and drain well. While the squash is draining, saute the onion and garlic with the peanut oil in a large, deep nonstick skillet over medium heat until the onion is soft and translucent, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the calabaza pumpkin and 1/4 cup of water. Cover and steam for 10 to 12 minutes, until the pumpkin is easily pierced with a fork. Remove the lid and add the drained summer squash, oregano, cumin, lime juice, tomatoes, corn (if using), and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cook and stir occasionally until the summer squash reaches your desired tenderness, 8 to 10 minutes. Season with freshly ground black pepper and serve. Serves 4 as a side, 2 as an entree.

My parents gave us a few ears of fresh corn when I stopped by the other day, and instead of pulling out the grill like we normally do for corn on the cob, I decided to hunt down a new recipe. I’m so glad I did! This book is proving to be a complete WIN, which is so not surprising since it comes from one of the authors of the holy Veganomicon. This dish was such a great blend of savory and sweet, cozy and fresh- if that makes any sense. I did make a substitution though- there was no winter squash available in the store, so I opted for 2 10-ounce bags of frozen cubed sweet potatoes. Superfood! What a perfect ingredient list, really. So healthy. I ended up serving it alongside a quesadilla made with Daiya vegan cheese shreds that I fell in love with while visiting my bestie in California. Needless to say, we were stuffed and our plates were clean, and we had leftovers for the next night. Double win! Wait, make that a triple- this dish is soy- and gluten-free!

from Viva Vegan! by Terry Hope Romero

For the Dressing:
1/2 lb ripe red tomatoes
1/2 c diced sweet white onion
1/2 green, red, or yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced (I chose yellow)
3 cloves garlic, chopped coarsely (or, ahem, 7…)
1 green chile pepper, seeded and chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp dried oregano (I used about 2 tbsp fresh)
1/2 tsp salt
a pinch of sugar (optional)
freshly ground pepper
For the Salad:
4 c spinach, washed well and torn into bite-size pieces
1 (14-oz) can hearts of palm, drained, rinsed, and sliced
2 c or 1 (14-oz) can cooked black beans, rinsed
1/2 c toasted chopped Brazil nuts
1/2 large sweet white onion, sliced into thin strips

To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. Use immediately or store tightly covered in the fridge for up to a week. To make the salad, toss the salad ingredients together.

Oh, SWOON! Lately I’ve discussed with people they might choose to eat only and forever… if you could only eat one food. My husband chose Pizza Research Institute’s vegan chef’s choice pizza, or avocado if limited to just one ingredient. I would have chosen almonds. Until now. I was flipping through the book, looking for a salad, and was absolutely giddy when I saw Brazil nut in the title. I’d joked that I was going to name my firstborn child Brazil Nut, I love them so. Don’t worry, that’s not actually my daughter’s name. I totally chickened out.
Anyhoo, this salad! It’s so refreshing yet solid. It makes four good sized servings, and there was enough dressing to top our steamed broccoli the next night. The hearts of palm, black beans, and nuts add weight, and give such a great texture variety. And that dressing! Of course it was pretty spicy with all of that garlic, but I wouldn’t change it at all! The sweet onion is what really makes me want this salad nonstop though. And what a healthy salad, provided that I can keep from going overboard with the nuts.
This cookbook has so many good looking recipes that will keep me trying new ingredients, which I’m so excited about. One recipe that I saw that I won’t be trying, as it looks too dangerous- churros! I’d eat the entire batch. We can’t have that, so you’ll just have to check out this cookbook on your own. You won’t regret it.

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 Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

1 2/3 c granulated sugar
2/3 c canola oil
1 (14-ounce can) coconut milk
1/4 c rice or soy milk
1/4 c lemon juice
3 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 c shredded unsweetened coconut
a few tablespoons confectioners’ sugar for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly grease an 8- or 10-inch Bundt pan.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the granulated sugar, oil, coconut milk, rice milk, lemon juice and zest, and vanilla. Stir to combine.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the wet ingredients in batches, mixing well after each addition. Fold in the coconut.

Pour the batter into the Bundt pan. Bake for 1 hour, or until a knife inserted through the cake comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes, then place a cutting board over the cake pan, gently flip over, and release the cake from the pan. Let cool completely. Once cooled, sift a sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar over the top. Slice and serve.

This is my new favorite cake.  I needed something to take over to my grandparents’ house for a family dinner, and originally was going to do cupcakes, but then I remembered my Bundt pan that I got for my last birthday, which I love to use. Plus, I don’t have a good cupcake transportation system.
Can we talk perfection for a moment? This cake is it. It’s like a pound cake made sweet love to angel food cake in a bed of lemon bars. UNGH! It’s a little dense with just the right amount of sweet, but it’s not heavy. You don’t need anything to go with it! A strawberry might be pretty, but it better not get between me and that cake.
I might have used more zest than called for- I didn’t measure and I love zesting. It was perfect. Just ask my grandma, Mutti.

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

1/2 c brown sugar
1/4 c white sugar
2/3 c canola oil
1/4 c unsweetened almond milk (or your favorite nondairy milk)(I used vanilla soy)
1 tbsp tapioca flour
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly grease two large baking sheets.

Combine sugars, oil, almond milk, and tapioca flour in a mixing bowl. Use a strong fork and mix really well, for about 2 minutes, until the mixture resembles smooth caramel. There is a chemical reaction when the sugar and oil collide (who knew?), so it’s important that you don’t get lazy about that step. Mix in the vanilla.

Add 1 cup of the flour, the baking soda, and the salt. Mix until well incorporated. Mix in the rest of the flour. Fold in the chocolate chips. The dough will be a little stiff, so use your hands to really work the chips in.

For 3-inch cookies, roll the dough into balls the size of Ping-Pong balls. Flatten them out in your hands to about 2 1/2 inches. As they cook, they will spread just a bit. Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 8 minutes- no more than 9- until they are just a little browned around the edges. We usually get 16 out of these so we do two rounds of eight cookies. Let cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes then transfer to wire racks.

For two dozen 2-inch cookies roll dough into walnut-size balls and flatten to about 1 1/2 inches and bake for only 6 minutes.

If you are looking for the perfect cookie dough recipe, this is it. I pictured little chunks of this stuff suspended in vegan ice cream as I was cleaning off my hands after using them to incorporate the chocolate chips. I swear, Isa and Terry made me do it! I was golden up until then- not sampling the dough at all, but this gooing that took place in the name of good mixing proved too much for me. I used light brown sugar, as it’s all I had, but longed for darker, to give it more of that caramelesque flavor that chocolate chip cookies often have. I still got rave reviews on these- from the friend that stopped by and saved me from my potentially fatal dough binge, as well as from Mike. And as the authors put it, this is a one bowl cookie recipe. Thank you! I will definitely be making this classic cookie again. I used an ice cream scoop sprayed with a bit of cooking spray for quick release to plop these suckers onto the pan, and it was so nice. I did end up with bigger cookies, which needed to bake for closer to 11 minutes! They were about 4 inches from edge to beautiful edge.

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

For the Topping:
1/3 c sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
For the Cookies:
1/2 c canola oil
1 c sugar
1/4 c pure maple syrup
3 tbsp nondairy milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp chocolate extract (or more vanilla extract if you have no chocolate) (I used more vanilla)
1 2/3 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder (regular, not Dutch)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne

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

Mix the topping ingredients together on a large dinner plate. Set aside.

In a medium-size mixing bowl, use a fork to vigorously mix together the oil, sugar, syrup, and milk. Mix in the extracts.

Sift in the remaining ingredients, stirring as you add them. Once all the ingredients are added, mix until you’ve got pliable dough.

Roll the dough into walnut-size balls. Pat the dough balls into the sugar topping to flatten into roughly 2-inch discs. Transfer the dough balls to a baking sheet, sugar side up, at least 2 inches apart (they do spread). This should be easy as the bottom of the cookies should just stick to your fingers so you can just flip them over onto the baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes; they should be a bit spread and crackly on top. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool for 5 minutes, then transfer them to wire racks to cool completely.

Good thing I only made a half batch of these! I was low on cocoa powder. It was the perfect amount for me to have one, give one to my mom, one to Mike, and then take the rest over to my crafternoon date with Mo! These cookies have the texture I love of regular snickerdoodles- a little crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, but without the blandness that so few people like about them. The cayenne pepper isn’t big in this cookie- it’s more of a zingy little after effect! I must say, if you’re looking for a vegan cookie book, this is the one. Each and every recipe I’ve tried is a winner, and I want to share them with EVERYONE I KNOW.

from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

1 c vanilla soy milk
1 tbsp ground flaxseeds
1/4 c canola oil
1/4 c agave nectar or pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 c all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 c almond meal or almond flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 1/4 c cooked quinoa
1/2 c finely chopped dried apricots or currants

Preheat the oven to 350F and lightly grease a non-stick 12-cup muffin tin.

In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the soy milk and ground flaxseed. Allow to sit for 1  minute, then whisk in oil, agave nectar and vanilla.

In a separate large bowl, sift together flour, almond meal, baking soda (What?!? It’s not listed in the ingredients; I didn’t add it. Maybe that’s why the muffins are dainty? Next time I might add a 1/2 tsp.), baking powder, salt, and spices. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, mixing until just incorporated. Gently fold in the quinoa and the apricots and mix until only the large lumps are gone.

Pour into the prepared muffin tin and bake for 20 to 22 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Makes 12 muffins.

Yummmmmmm. For a self-proclaimed health muffin, these are really tasty. Have you met quinoa (pronounced keen-wah)? It’s this great grain that’s high in protein, with a somewhat nutty flavor and great texture. It brought to these muffins what a poppyseed dreams of… texture, fiber AND speckles! I cook quinoa in my rice cooker, after rinsing it thoroughly; it does cook a little faster than rice, especially if you find the wee tiny quinoa. There are different varieties, and they are all wonderful. I used a red kind here.
These were pretty easy to make… have you met a difficult muffin? I was excited to use almond meal, which was new to me. Almonds are my favorite food, making this new ingredient much less scary. I think next time I might add some almond extract though, because the almond flour just wasn’t enough! Paired with apricots… so tasty. These muffins were pretty dense (perhaps due to the lack of baking soda?) and a little chewy (in a good way, thanks apricot and quinoa!). Mike ate three of them for dessert last night. I think I need to see if I can find a mega muffin tin. Shutterbean, thanks for your muffin request. Ask and you shall receive. xoxo

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