Saturday, January 26, 2013

Chocolate Quinoa Crumb Bars

So, I’m still going through my lovely bag of NatureCrops puffed quinoa. I recently substituted them for rolled oats in a traditional crumb bar recipe.  They brought great flavor and texture to the bars, as well as the illusion of healthfulness.  Make no mistake, these bars are not particularly healthy.  Chocolate, Earth Balance butter, sugar...this ain't no green smoothie!  But for those days when you need to indulge, try this recipe...and make sure to share.  :)

Makes 16 squares

3/4 cup Earth Balance butter, softened
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Chocolate Layer
1 cup vegan chocolate chips
1/2 cup almond milk
6 tablespoons Earth Balance butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch of salt

Crumb Layer
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup puffed quinoa
(and 1/3 of the crust mixture from above)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with foil and lightly grease the foil.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the Earth Balance butter until smooth.
  3. In another bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter and stir until crumbly. (I used my hands to do this)
  4. Press 2/3 of the crumb mixture onto the bottom of your baking pan and bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown.
  5. Next, melt the chocolate chips, almond milk, Earth Balance butter, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt together in a saucepan over low heat.  Pour the chocolate mixture over the baked crust.
  6. Combine the quinoa puffs and almond slices with the remaining 1/3 of the crumb mixture. Sprinkle over the top of the chocolate layer.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the crumb layer is golden brown.  Allow the pan to cool completely (for a few hours or overnight) on a wire rack before cutting into squares.
If you can't find puffed quinoa, you can stick with rolled oats or use another type of puffed cereal.  You can also just leave it out completely.  I'm not sure how cooked quinoa would work here, but I imagine that it would result in a more moist crumb layer.  I could be wrong though!

Enjoy!  :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Miso Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’ve been on a salty/sweet cookie quest lately. I considered making chocolate chip pretzel cookies, but didn’t want to have to buy a whole bag of pretzels (I’m not a pretzel person!). So, I turned to the Internet and came across an intriguing miso peanut butter cookie recipe on the beautiful Playing with Fire and Water blog. Très intéressant! I was curious to see how the miso would interact with the peanut butter and brown sugar. And coincidentally, I just happened to have a few tablespoons of white miso left to use up before getting a refill. It was pure fate.
Makes 2 dozen cookies
1/2 cup Earth Balance butter, softened
1/2 cup almond butter (or peanut butter)
3 tablespoons mellow white miso paste
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg replacement (I used 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds whisked with 3 tablespoons water)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the Earth Balance, almond butter, miso paste, and brown sugar until creamy.  Mix in the egg replacement.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the almond butter mixture and stir until just combined.  Fold in the chocolate chips, if using.
  5. Using your hands or a cookie scoop, form 1/2-inch balls of dough and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Press each ball down using your fingers or using the tines of a fork.
  6. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the edges are golden brown. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool.
I didn’t have peanut butter, so I used almond butter instead. No biggy.  I also made some cookies with chocolate chips just for kicks.  I thought the salty/sweet balance was just right, but you can adjust the amount of miso to your liking.  Two tablespoons would work, but I probably wouldn't go above three tablespoons.  Then again, every palate is different.  One of my co-workers didn't really like these, whereas I thought they were delicious and brilliant in such a simple way.  Go figure.  Now I'm eager to incorporate miso into more sweet treats.  Miso brownies and cakes are definitely on the baking horizon.  :)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Tempeh Avocado Nori Cakes

There are so many vegan crab cake recipes out there.  Sadly, I've never attempted any of them. Shameful. Instead, I've relied on the frozen vegan crab cakes made by Sophie's Kitchen.  I also love the crab cake sandwich at the Veggie Grill. Both versions are sooooo good and taste eerily like the real thing.  But I had an epiphany today:  I'm going to invent my own vegan crab cakes!

So, long story short, that didn't happen today.  Instead, I ended up making this delicious alternative.  If you love tempeh and avocado, these were made for you.  And if you hate tempeh and avocado, these were made for you in the hopes that you'll have a change of heart.  :)

Makes 4 cakes

1 8 oz. package of tempeh
1 ripe avocado
1/2 cup shredded nori seaweed (it's called 'kizami nori' and looks like this)
1 cup panko bread crumbs
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, for frying
  1. In a medium bowl, mash the tempeh and avocado together until well combined. (If it looks too wet, add a few tablespoons of bread crumbs)
  2. Fold in the shredded nori. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. 
  3. Place the bread crumbs in a shallow bowl. 
  4. Form the tempeh mixture into 4 patties (or more, if you want smaller cakes). Dip each patty in the bread crumbs, covering each side well. Set aside.
  5. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium/high heat.
  6. Fry the patties until golden brown on both sides. Drain on a paper towel and serve immediately with your favorite sauce. (like Sriracha mayo!)

In this recipe, the avocado added wonderful flavor and also served as a natural binder.  I was tempted to make an avocado sauce to go with these, but thought it would be overkill.  But then again, avocados are pure awesome, so I'm sure it would've been okay.  :)  Sriracha mayo went great with these and also provided a nice color contrast.

So, I didn't end up formulating the world's greatest vegan crab cake today, but these were super yummy and super easy to make with just four ingredients.  I've said it before and I'll say it again:  avocados can do it all.  :)


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Green Smoothie Cupcakes

I’m an avid Instagram user, and with the New Year came tons of green smoothie photos in my feed from participants in the 30-day green smoothie challenge. I love everything about green smoothies…the taste, color, texture, and of course, the nutritional benefits. That said, I’m not participating in the challenge because I’m weak sauce. Yup. And I have a tiny personal blender that requires a lot of manual shaking on my part to produce a single green smoothie. Excuses, excuses—I know! But seeing all of the glorious green smoothies on Instagram got me thinking: How cool would a green smoothie cupcake be? Very cool! With the added sugar, these aren’t meant to be super healthy or a replacement for a real green smoothie. They’re just cool, cute, and I suppose healthier than some other cupcakes out there. So, here we go!

Recipe adapted from A Little Nosh

Makes 16 cupcakes

4 cups baby spinach, packed
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose flour)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a muffin pan or use paper liners.
  2. In a blender or food processor, puree the spinach, applesauce, almond milk, canola oil, and vanilla extract until well blended.  
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Add the spinach mixture to the dry ingredients and fold together until just combined.
  5. Fill each well of your muffin tin about 3/4 full and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Transfer to a wire rack to cool before frosting.
2 ripe bananas
2 tablespoons raw cashew butter (I used Artisana)
1 tablespoon almond butter
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Ground flax seed meal, for sprinkling
  1. Mash bananas in bowl.
  2. Add the cashew butter, almond butter, lemon juice, and vanilla extract and mix until well combined.
  3. Place a thin layer of frosting on each cupcake and sprinkle with ground flax sead meal.
I wanted the frosting to stay in line with the green smoothie theme, so I didn’t use any Earth Balance butter or powdered sugar. This resulted in a somewhat fluid mixture, so it might be best to let it chill in the fridge before frosting your cupcakes. Also, I added the almond butter to disguise the browning bananas. You can leave it out if you want your frosting to only taste like bananas.

So, how do these taste? Delicious! Other than the spinach, these are your standard vegan cupcake ingredients. You don’t taste the spinach at all, but you do get a wonderfully vibrant shade of green because of it. No artificial food coloring is always a good thing.  This is my way of celebrating the green smoothie challenge. I applaud everyone taking part in it. New year, new you…right? Now let’s eat cupcakes!

Enjoy! :)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sweet Adzuki Bean Tartlets

Adzuki beans (or red beans) are common in a variety of Asian desserts.  There are sweet red bean pastries, cakes, breads, steamed buns, and even soups!  One of my favorites while growing up was Filipino halo-halo, which is a mixture of shaved ice, ice cream, milk, beans, custard, fruit, and an array of other sweet ingredients. I remember only wanting to eat the red beans, but they were always at the bottom of the cup.  Boo.  My red bean obsession has continued into adulthood, and into my cooking.  These tartlets are nothing fancy and the recipe could probably use some tweaking in terms of tartlet structure.  But the flavor and concept are really all that matter, right?  :)  These are yummy and best eaten whole.  That's the beauty of tartlets!

Makes 16 tartlets

1 cup dried adzuki beans, soaked in water overnight (or use canned adzuki beans/paste)
1 cup granulated sugar (adjust based on your desired sweetness level)
A pinch of salt
Dough for a 9"-inch pie crust (your own favorite vegan recipe or this one)
2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon agave nectar
A mini muffin pan

  1. Cook the pre-soaked beans by boiling them in water for about an hour until tender, or with a pressure cooker. (3 minutes once pressure is reached; natural release)
  2. Drain the beans and return them to the pot. Add the sugar and salt and let simmer until the sugar is melted and the mixture is thick. You can mash the beans into a paste or you can leave them somewhat whole. Up to you.
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Mold the pie dough into the mini muffin pan. You can do this by rolling the dough and cutting out small circles or by forming small balls of dough with your hands and pressing them into the muffin tin.
  3. You can use pie weights or some dried beans to keep the dough from puffing up. Bake for 15-20 minutes until browned. 
  4. Remove from oven and let cool. 
  1. Mix the coconut flakes, sesame seeds, and agave nectar together in a small bowl. Adjust the measurements to get your desired texture. You can also add some granulated sugar for additional sweetness. 
  1. Fill each crust with the bean filling and top with the coconut mixture. Voilà!

I wanted to keep the beans whole, so I didn’t mash them into a paste. If you're not too keen on seeing whole beans in your desserts, you can follow the instructions for preparing red bean paste here. Or if you’re close to an Asian grocery store, you can find cans of ready-made red bean paste there.

Oh, you'll likely have some leftover red bean filling. I did. And I ate it like chili. Yummy. Fiber is good for you!

Enjoy! :)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Lima Bean Chocolate Chip Cookies with Green Tea Glaze

I once made gluten-free, vegan white bean blondies with disastrous results.  They were awfully dry, which may have been a result of user error (highly likely).  After that, I stayed away from dessert recipes that involved mashed beans, even though the thought of protein packed sweets has always intrigued me.  So, I'm back with a vengeance, this time with lima bean cookies.  That's right, lima beans!  You can use any type of white beans here, but I had a bag of lima beans that I've been itching to use.  Who needs a hearty lima bean stew when you can make cookies instead?  :)

Makes 1 dozen cookies

1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup cooked white beans, pureed (I used white lima beans)
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon maple extract (optional)
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Blend oil, sugar, maple syrup, beans, and extracts in a blender or food processor.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  5. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  6. Using a cookie scoop or your hands, form tablespoon-sized balls of dough and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Flatten each ball slightly using your fingers.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned.
  8. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
Green Tea Glaze:
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon matcha green tea powder
1 teaspoon water 
  1. Sift the powdered sugar and green tea powder together into a small bowl.
  2. Add the water and stir until well combined.
  3. Drizzle over cookies and allow a few minutes for the glaze to set.
Naturally, with beans in the mix, these cookies are a bit more dense than most cookies, but not to the point that you think you're eating clay.  They're moist and the texture is actually lighter than you'd expect.  The cookies will still taste great without the green tea glaze, but for some extra color and pizzazz, by all means glaze away!  As I mentioned in a previous post, I adore all things green tea, so that's what inspired me to glaze these cookies.  I'm also going to try this recipe with non-white beans, just out of curiosity.  The suspense is killing me!

Enjoy!  :)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Mini Puffed Quinoa Cakes with Avocado Frosting

I picked up a bag of NatureCrops quinoa puffs recently, but wasn't sure if I was supposed to eat it like cereal or what.  I suppose that could be one of its uses, but I love adding interesting ingredients like this to baked goods.  They're super light and not bitter at all.  The other day, I used them to make silver dollar quinoa pancakes.  Since the quinoa is already puffed, they didn't really have a bite to them after being enveloped by pancake batter.  But that's a good thing!  It meant that the pancakes stayed nice and fluffy, but with some added whole-grain goodness.  Since my pancake flipping skills are horrific, I baked the pancakes in a whoopie pie pan.  This yielded perfectly circular pancakes.  No messy flipping...yay! 

So, what to do with the leftovers?  Since the pancakes were so cake-like (duh, pan-CAKE), I thought I'd transform them into this fabulous little dessert!

Makes 3-4 mini cakes

For the cake:
  • I used the pancake recipe from the Joy of Vegan Baking cookbook (posted here) and added 1 cup of quinoa puffs to the batter.  You can also use 1 cup of cooked quinoa, but it may make the pancakes more dense.
  • If you have a whoopie pan, fill each well halfway with batter and bake in a pre-heated oven at 425°F for 5-8 minutes.  If you don't have one, then just make the pancakes as you normally would using a pan or griddle. 
  • You can also just use your favorite vanilla or chocolate cupcake recipe and slice each cupcake into layers.
For the frosting:
  • I used the avocado buttercream frosting from the Food Network website (posted here).  I left out the lemon extract because I didn't have any.
I'd probably stick with fewer layers than this, but I did this for purely aesthetic purposes.  :)   I was also tempted to cover the whole thing in frosting, but thought it looked more interesting this way.  And those are some of the quinoa puffs on top, which shows you how tiny these cakes are.  What a great way to use up leftovers!

Enjoy!  :)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Tofu with Wasakaka Mojo Sauce

I'm a food magazine addict.  I can't stand the ads on every other page, but the beautiful photography and the innovative recipes always draw me in.  Nowadays, the recipes are usually posted on each magazine's website, but I still love thumbing through a paper copy.  This month's issue of Food & Wine magazine has a gorgeous cover photo...but it's of a chicken dish.  Bleh.  The accompanying mojo sauce is totally vegan though, so I figured I'd replicate the cover, but with tofu instead!

This variety of mojo sauce is called wasakaka.  It originates from the Dominican Republic and is usually served with roasted chicken or boiled cassava.  The recipe is also posted here on the Food & Wine Magazine website.

Makes 1.5 cups of sauce
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup minced garlic
1/4 cup minced red onion
3 fresh red chilies, such as cayenne—stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced crosswise
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped oregano
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
  1. In a small saucepan, combine the lime juice with the water and bring to a boil.
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients.
  3. Let the sauce cool to room temperature before serving.
For the tofu:  I sprinkled slices of firm tofu with nutritional yeast and pan-fried them in olive oil until golden on both sides.

I was running low on parsley, so my version isn't as green as it should be.  This sauce has a nice bit of tanginess and heat.  I imagine it would also go great with some chickenless patties or seitan. 
If you've seen the original magazine cover, you'll notice that I even copied the blue plate and the mini spoon! There were actually two sauces featured on the cover, but the other one required the use of a blender and I was just too lazy to deal with washing more kitchen equipment.   :)


Plantain-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cornbread Muffins

I usually associate plantains with black beans and rice, which all together is my favorite dish in the entire world. I always have plantains on hand, ripening on the counter for when the right time comes.  Well, the right time was this morning. I thought I'd switch it up and make something sweet instead of savory. Naturally, that also means chocolate!  
Adapted from
Makes 6 -8 muffins 
1 ripe plantain, sliced and lightly fried in canola oil
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour (I used Trader Joe’s white whole wheat flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup almond or soy milk
1/4 cup maple syrup (or agave nectar)
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
  1. Fry plantain slices in canola oil over medium heat on both sides until nicely browned. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a muffin pan or line with paper liners.
  3. Combine cornmeal, flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
  4. Stir in applesauce, milk, maple syrup, and canola oil.
  5. Fold in chocolate chips.
  6. Divide the batter evenly into your muffin pan. (I squeezed 8 muffins out of this recipe)
  7. Top each muffin with 1 to 2 plantain slices. You can leave the slices visible or cover them with more batter…take your pick!
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
I originally thought that I'd add some maple extract to these, but I thought they turned out wonderful without it.  I'll probably try it next time just for fun.  If you're looking for a decadent treat that isn't super sweet, this is it.  The taste and texture of the cornmeal really puts a unique spin on the traditional banana chocolate chip muffin.  And the sliced vs. mashed plantains add natural sweetness to these, along with the wow factor.  Who doesn't like seeing golden little plantains peeking out of a muffin?  Not me! 

Enjoy!  :)