Peach melba cupcakes

I've been dreaming about peach cupcakes since summer began. The raspberry sauce is optional, if you'd rather have a classic peaches 'n cream taste.

Peach cupcakes
1 1/4 c. unbleached AP flour
2 tbs. arrowroot powder
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt

1 c. peach nectar
1/4 c. canola oil
1/4 c. peach mash (instructions below)
2/3 c. unrefined cane sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F.

Slice a ripe peach in half and lay cut side down in a baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes. Let the peaches cool for a few minutes, then using a spoon scrape out the flesh. Use a fork to mash up the peach, then measure out 1/4 c. Don't waste the rest! The peach is still tasty, so snack away.

Sift together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients. Pour the wet into the dry and stir until everything is moistened. If you used a whisk to mix the wet ingredients, don't worry about the peachy bits that get caught. Just scrape them into the batter and use a spoon to fold everything together.

Pour batter into a 12-cup tin lined with papers. Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until they pass the toothpick test.

Remove to a cooling rack and let cool completely before frosting.

I used a vanilla cooked buttercream.

Raspberry sauce
1/4 c. brown rice syrup
1/4 c. mashed raspberries
1-2 tbs. unrefined cane sugar (depending on how sweet your berries are)

Bring to a boil over medium heat and let simmer for 3-4 minutes. Pour into a bowl and let cool completely.

Drizzle over frosted cupcakes and garnish with fresh raspberries.

Ginger lemon cream sandwiches

These were so good; I wish I had about a dozen more to stuff in my face. They only survived about a day. The cookies are soft and chewy, a little cake-like, and surprisingly low fat. It's more like a whoopie pie than an Oreo-style sandwich. I suspect they'd be great stuffed with ice cream, too. The recipe is modified from Vegan with a Vengeance. It's actually the first recipe I've tried from VWAV after receiving it as a present a little while ago. Tasty, tasty!

Ginger lemon cookies
1 c. unbleached AP flour
1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 heaping tbs. grated fresh ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cardamom
1/3. c unsweetened apple sauce (cinnamon is ok)
1/4 c. brown rice syrup
1/4 c. soy milk
1 tbs. canola oil
1/4 tsp. lemon juice
1 heaping tbs. lemon zest (about 1 large lemon)
1 /2 c. unrefined cane sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour through salt in a large bowl. Mix the rest of the ingredients together, then pour into the dry mix. Stir until everything is mixed well. It will be sticky and fairly wet.

Using two small spoons, scoop about a tablespoon of dough and scrape it between the two spoons, transferring it from one spoon to the other, a couple times to form a ball, then drop the dough on the parchment paper, leaving about 3" between each ball. You can also use your hands to form the cookies, but they are sticky. If you want to try this, I suggest wetting your hands between every few cookies.

Bake for 8-9 minutes. They will still be very soft and just barely getting darker. Let them rest on the parchment for a couple minutes, then using a spatula, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

The filling is just a cooked buttercream, using 2 tsp. lemon zest and 1/2 tsp. of vanilla extract.

The recipe will make about 28 - 3" cookies, or 14 sandwiches. Make sure to let them cool completely before filling.

Spinach and peanut dips

I had forgotten about the wonders of spinach dip until my friend Krisi made some for a party a while ago. I wanted to try a tofu base instead of Sour Supreme to save some money. My go-to peanut sauce relies heavily on coconut milk and peanut butter. This was my attempt at something a little healthier, but still full of tastiness.

Creamy spinach dip
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 c. onion, sliced
2 tbs. olive oil
1 -12.3 oz. box of aseptic tofu, extra firm
3 tbs. soy milk
1 tbs. mustard
1 tsp. agave nectar
1 tsp. fresh dill
1/2 tsp. salt
zest and juice of 1 med. lemon
1/2 tsp. sriracha (optional)
3 c. frozen spinach, thawed and drained
2 green onions, sliced
1 - 8 oz. can water chestnuts, chopped

Saute the onions, garlic, and olive oil over med-high heat until the onions become translucent and the garlic is golden. Set aside for a few minutes to cool slightly, while you measure out everything else.

The 3 c. of spinach is a rough measurement of frozen, bagged spinach that I had crumbled slightly so it would be a little more measurable. After thawing and squeezing out the water, it was about 1 packed cup. If you didn't plan ahead and defrost the spinach, just run it under warm water in a colander.

Place the tofu through sriracha in a food processor and add the cooked mixture. Make sure to scrape in all of that garlicky oil. Process until creamy, then add the spinach and process again until somewhat smooth. Adjust for salty/spicyness, then scrape into a bowl and stir in the green onions and chopped water chestnuts.

Chill until ready to serve.

Peanut dip
1 - 15 oz. can great northern beans, drained (cannellinis would work as well, maybe even garbanzos)
1/3 c. peanut butter
2 1/2 tbs. soy sauce
1 tbs. sesame oil
1 tbs. rice wine vinegar
1 tbs. agave nectar
2 green onions
8-10 mint leaves
4-5 stems of cilantro
zest and juice of one lime

This one's easy. Process until smooth, then chill until ready to serve.

Strictly town biz

Shane and I moved a couple months ago and finally got around to throwing a housewarming party like the real adults we are.

We even made invitations! Shane likes goats; I like bats.

I borrowed some ideas from the Martha Stewart volunteers at my work (along with some fancy plastic platters) and served up:

Flax and pepper/poppyseed crackers and strawberries.

Vegetable platter with broccoli, green/wax beans, carrots, peppers, and celery. With creamy spinach and peanut dips. I don't get people who eat raw broccoli or beans; these had a quick blanching.

Stuffed mushrooms with panko. Not coconut-chocolate donuts.

Mini cupcakes army! Funfetti and mocha hazelnut.

I also made limeade with tons of fresh mint.

It was great seeing everyone! Big yay to DP and Amber who surprised us by driving up from LA, and with whom we had a post-party, very unvegan Man vs. Wild viewing.

(That's Shane's Mom's art on the wall!)

Lauren even gave us a housewarming plant. It now lives on our fridge.

Morning buns

When I was young, my favorite Saturday mornings were when my mom would make morning buns. Crisp, sugary, cinnamon buns, warm from the oven. We would make them from the grocery store dough tubes and roll them in cinnamon-sugar, but I wanted to make something a little fancier.

These use the same dough as the danishes. Once the dough has completed the final roll, fold, and chill, follow the directions below.

1/2 c. unrefined cane sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cardamom
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
zest of 1 small orange (optional)

Stir all of the filling ingredients together, then set aside. Roll the dough into a rectangle, about 18 x 12". Sprinkle the filling over the dough and use your hands to spread it evenly. Starting with a long side, roll the dough as you would a cinnamon bun, so you end up with about an 18" tube.

Grease a 12-cup muffin tin with melted margarine, then sprinkle about 1/2 tsp of granulated sugar into each cup and shake to coat the side and bottom.

Slice the dough into 12 pieces, about 1 1/2" thick. Place 1 roll into each cup (swirl side up), and brush the tops with more margarine. Cover with plastic, then set in a warm place to rise for about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F, then bake the rolls for about 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven, and let cool for about 2-3 minutes. Measure about 1/4 c. of granulated sugar into a large bowl. One by one, remove the buns from the tin and roll in the sugar. Place on a rack to cool.

Shaudi hosted a brunch potluck today. I brought morning buns, cheesy danishes, and bacon-esque seitan.

There was so much good food! Banana-stuffed french toast, roasted potatoes, potato salad, watermelon, mini blueberry muffins, cherries, tofu scramble, and pumpkin waffles.

The perfect chocolate chip cookie

Thanks to Garrick for sharing his recipe.

I used EB buttery sticks which are slightly different than the tub variety, so they were a tiny bit fluffier than his turned out. None of those cake-textured poseurs though. These were thin, soft, slightly chewy, and buttery. I had an inaccurate copy of the recipe that called for 1/3 c. applesauce, but they turned out just fine. And I added a couple handfuls of chopped walnuts (to Shane's disappointment).

Best chocolate chip cookies I've ever made, even compared to my pre-vegan days! They also got the thumbs up from our friends in Bad Reaction.

Bake sale

I just realized that I never did an update about our first bake sale! It was a success. The faux-hos were a huge hit, along with the chick-o-stick cupcakes.

We did get chastized by an older gentleman who warned us about violating health codes. He was very concerned about the avian flu, so if you got sick (other than sugar overdose), sorry! He let us know that Gilman has types of bacteria that scientists aren't even aware of. I'd probably believe him on that one.

During Let Down (LETDOWNSTRAIGHTEDGE), I was standing on the arm of a sofa, when two young dudes ran in, supporting a third young fellow between them. They proceeded to dump their inebriated buddy on the couch and promptly left. Moments later he rolled over and began to puke all over the floor right next to our bake sale table. Talk about a violation health codes! Haha. The kind Gilman volunteers cleaned things up; I'm not sure what happened to that kid. It was a good show and I had lots of fun. A young woman even approached me and asked if I would fill an order for a vegan friend's birthday in the fall. I was flattered! She and her friend bought three cupcakes. I was going to give them some free ones at the end of the show, but didn't see them around.

I don't really like the idea of making money off of other kids, so I want to decide on a place to donate future bake sale profits. For now, they're being reinvested in baking equipment (a refurb onyx stand mixer will soon be mine!)

Thanks to Allison for introducing me to the wonders of Chick-o-sticks.

I still had a couple undipped ding dongs and hohos in the freezer since I ran out of chocolate, but I took care of that the next day. Then I went on a chocolate dipping spree.

(Half pints for a dollar!!!)

(Vegan butterfingers!!!)

Agave walnut tofu

A favorite from my youth. I mainly liked it because it was like candy that I could eat for dinner. Crisp, sweet, tangy, creamy, crunchy, all rolled into one. It's traditionally made with mayonnaise (and shrimp and honey), and while I did have a jar of vegennaise handy, I figured I would try it from scratch for those of you who might not have vegan mayo around.

Yes, I photograph food on my rug.

Candied walnuts
1 c. walnuts
1/2 c. unrefined cane sugar
1 tsp. sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 350F. Spread walnuts on a baking sheet and bake for about 5-6 minutes, until lightly toasted. Keep an eye on these! They can go from toasted to charred in no time at all.

Combine the sugar and walnuts in a saucepan over med-high heat, and stir. As soon as it begins to caramelize, sprinkle in the sesame seeds. Once everything is evenly coated, pour the walnuts back onto the sheet pan to cool. Make sure to spread them out, so you don't end up with a giant, rock hard cluster of walnuts.

Creamy agave sauce
1/4 c. aseptic extra firm silken tofu
2 tbs. soy milk
1 1/2 tbs. agave nectar
1 tbs. canola oil
1 tbs. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. mustard
pinch of garlic powder
pinch of salt, to taste

Blend until smooth, then set aside. An immersion blender is great for this if you have one.

1 lb. extra firm tofu
1 1/2 tbs. soy sauce
1/3 c. cornstarch
canola oil

Slice the tofu into half inch cubes and marinate in the soy sauce (ideally overnight, but at least 30 minutes).

Scoop the tofu (leave behind any liquid!) into a large bowl and toss with the cornstarch until all cubes are lightly dusted.

Heat 1/4" of oil in a skillet over med-high heat and fry up the tofu cubes until golden. (Or deep fry if you want to get wild.) Drain the tofu on a paper towel or bag. It helps to do it in batches, then once your last batch is almost finished, add all of the tofu back in to heat it up again. Drain quickly, then while still hot, place it in a large bowl. Pour the sauce on top and fold the tofu until all of the cubes are coated.

Plate with walnuts and garnish with additional sesame seeds. Excellent with brown rice!

Cheesy danishes

I modified this from a recipe I found here. (I'll give the site credit, but it will go unnamed here, because I think he's a tool.)

Danish dough
3/4 c. warm water
1/2 c. + 2 tbs. warm soy milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
1/4 c. unrefined cane sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
2 sticks Earth Balance margarine
~1/2 c. all-purpose flour

Remove the margarine from the refrigerator and set aside.

Combine the water, milk, and yeast in a large bowl and set aside. Sift together the flour, sugar, stach, salt, and nutmeg. By this time, your yeast mixture should look a little foamy. Add the vanilla, then add the dry mixture. Mix until everything is moistened, then gently knead until a smooth ball forms. Cover the bowl and set in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.

Tape a piece of parchment (about 12" square) to your work surface and lightly dust with flour. Slice each stick of margarine in half (lengthwise) and set on the parchment. Dust the top of the margarine with flour. Using a rolling pin, beat the butter until slightly softened and using the pin and your hands, form the butter into an 8" square. Lift the parchment off the counter and place in the refrigerator.

Remove the dough and set on a lightly floured surface. Roll out to a 16" square. Place your butter square in the center of the dough and fold the edges of the dough together, lightly pressing the seams to enclose the butter. Gently roll the dough into about a 24" x 8" rectangle. Fold it in thirds, lengthwise, so you have an 8" square again. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Repeat the rolling, folding, and chilling 3 more times. You're making a bunch of buttery layers that will make your danishes nice and flakey.

After the dough has chilled it's final time, place it on a lightly floured surface and roll to about 1/4" thick. It was easier for me to divide the dough in half and refrigerate the other half while I was working on the first.

Cut the dough into 4" squares. I got about 14 squares, plus a few scraps that I turned into impromptu raspberry jam danishes.

1 package Better than Cream Cheese (non-hydrog)
1/4 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400F.

Mix the filling ingredients together, then spoon about 1 tbs. in the center of each dough square. Spread the filling in a diagonal line, stopping about 1/2" from the corners. Fold the non-cheesed corners toward the center and press down lightly to seal. Brush with a wash of 1/4 c. soy milk and 2 tbs. sugar.

Let the danishes rise for about 30-40 minutes. They won't rise a lot, they'll just look a little more puffy. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350F and bake for 10 more. Cool danishes on a rack, then drizzle with icing made from 1/2 c. powdered sugar and about 1 tbs. of soy milk.

Citrus lettuce wraps

Thanks to the birth of our great nation, I don't have to go to work today, which means time to cook! It's pretty hot out, so I thought lettuce wraps would make a nice, fresh lunch.

Lettuce wraps are super quick to make, once you have all of your ingredients ready. And you can pretty much add whatever you'd like. It's a great way to use up vegetables and proteins sitting in your refrigerator. The following recipe generously serves 2 as a meal, or more people if you're using it as an appetizer.

Crispy noodles
1 handful of rice noodles, broken up a bit
2 tbs. canola oil

You want the thin kind of rice noodles that look a little crinkly. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over high heat. Once the oil is hot, drop in a small portion of the noodles. They should immediately bubble up and expand, and become opaque. Immediately remove from the oil and drain on a paper towel (chopsticks help). Repeat until all the noodles are fried up.

The noodles are optional, or course. They don't really have much flavor but add a nice texture, and hey, they're fun! If you don't have noodles, leave the nuts out of the filling below and toast them instead to sprinkle on top of your wraps.

1 - 7oz package of tofu (I used fried, baked tofu in teriyaki or 5-spice would work well, too.)
1 - 8oz can water chestnuts, drained
1 ear of corn (about 1 c.)
3/4 c. green beans
1/3 c. sliced almonds (or slivered, or chopped cashews, or whatever)
1/2 tsp. grated ginger
zest of 1 small orange
2 tsp. chopped cilantro

2 tbs. hoisin sauce
2 1/2 tbs. soy sauce
1/2 tbs. mirin
1/2 tbs. agave nectar
1/2 tsp. sriracha (or more/less to taste)
2 tbs. water

1 lime, wedged

Chop the tofu, chestnuts, and beans to about 1/4" pieces. Small pieces make for nice eating and quick cooking. I like to undercook the vegetables so they stay nice and crisp. In a small bowl, mix the hoisin, soy, mirin, agave, and sriracha.

Transfer the leftover oil to a large skillet (or just do the whole process in a wok) and heat over med-high heat. If you're using a wok, just leave it on high and shorten the cooking times. Add the tofu, ginger, and zest, and fry for a couple minutes until the tofu starts to brown. Next add the green beans and water chestnuts, and stir for about 2 more minutes. (I found some really great sweet, white corn, that was delicious just straight off the cobb, so I added it after the sauce, to preserve the freshness. If you're using frozen or sub-par corn, you can add it earlier.)

Pour the sauce mixture over the filling and stir well. Add the 2 tbs. of water to the sauce prep bowl and stir to get all of those sticky bits of goodness, then pour over the filling as well. Let the filling cook for a few more minutes, just until the sugars begin to caramelize. Turn off the heat, then toss in the corn and cilantro.

Spoon into a serving dish and garnish with lime wedges.

To serve: Family-style works best, with a dish for the noodles and another for lettuce leaves. Rinse the leaves before you start cooking so they have time to drain. Pat them with a towel if they're still wet. I splurged on some butter lettuce today, since they make such perfect cups and have a nice flavor, but feel free to use iceberg or red/green leaf. Serve the filling with a big spoon so everyone can help themselves.