pumpkin chocolate chunk multigrain muffins

These muffins are from my all-time favorite vegan cookbook, Hearty Vegan Meals for Monster Appetites. As with most beloved and oft-made recipes, this one has undergone several modifications. So many, in fact, that I can no longer read the overlapping lines of text that fill the page and crowd the margins. Subbing steel cut oats for the wheat germ, and omitting chopped pecans are the only changes that never vary. Here is the version I make most often.

pumpkin chocolate chunk multigrain muffins

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I highly recommend frosting these with a thin layer of chocolate, such as Kamran Siddiqui’s easy cocoa frosting (from his book Hand Made Baking).

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1 cup almond milk
1/4 cup neutral oil (sunflower, grapeseed, peanut)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup golden brown sugar, lightly packed
1 cup pumpkin puree (if homemade, be sure to drain)
2 cups spelt flour (white, whole, or a combination)
1/3 cup steel cut oats
1/2 cup stone-ground cornmeal
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/3 cup chopped chocolate

Position rack in center of oven. Preheat to 375. Prepare muffin tins with coconut oil: 16 standard-sized tins, or 12 standard and 2 jumbo-sized tins. I like to pop them in the fridge while I mix up the batter, so the oil does not melt and pool in the bottom of the muffin cups.

In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, oil, sugar, pumpkin puree, and vanilla extract. Add the cornmeal and steel cut oats, and set aside for a few minutes so that the grains can hydrate.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet. Add the chocolate chunks and stir again. Fill the muffin tins 3/4 full.

Bake on center rack of oven at 375 degrees for 25-28 minutes, until tops are golden.

Cool completely before frosting.

Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 25 minutes

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nutmeg medjool date scones

These scones have medjool dates and fresh nutmeg, but the recipe can be easily adapted – it’s the template for any scone I make, my go-to dump and stir scone recipe. Just swap out the nutmeg for 1/4 teaspoon of another spice (or omit it completely), and replace the dates with 1/2 cup of any combination of fruit, nuts, or chocolate. To make these savory, omit the sugar.

nutmeg medjool date scones

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To make them a bit sweeter: replace half of the milk used for brushing the tops with maple syrup. To make them a bit headier: use muscovado sugar in the dough, or add a tablespoon of dark rum. To give them a bit of crunch: after brushing with milk, sprinkle with turbinado sugar (slightly pressing into the dough if it rolls off) just before baking.

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2 cups spelt flour – white, whole, or a combination
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons golden or dark brown sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
5 tablespoons cold vegan butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 medjool dates, pitted and chopped (this should be just over 1/2 cup)
2/3 cup rich, heavy nondairy milk (soy, coconut, or almond work best)
Additional milk for brushing the scones

Position rack in center of oven. Preheat to 400. Line baking sheet with parchment.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and nutmeg. Cut/rub in the butter until the pieces are pea-sized. Mix the dates in with your hands, so that the pieces are separated and lightly coated with flour. Stir in the milk. The batter will be stiff and dry; finish mixing with your hands, kneading gently until a craggy (but not sticky!) dough forms. Turn out onto parchment, shape into a 1-inch thick disc, and cut into 8 wedges. Space the wedges a couple of inches apart. Brush top of scones with milk.

Bake on center rack of oven at 400 degrees for 13-15 minutes, until tops of scones are golden.

Taste best eaten same day, preferably warm.

Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 15 minutes

peanut butter cake

I’ve veganized a lot of Molly Yeh’s cakes over the years, and this is hands down my favorite. It’s the peanut butter cake from her cookbook Molly on the Range, and if you like peanut butter you need to make this as soon as possible.

Molly Yeh’s peanut butter cake

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This cake is best made with smooth, creamy peanut butter – the kind that never needs stirring. Not the kind that comes out of a machine while you hold your repurposed glass jar underneath to catch it, not the kind you make in your high-powered blender or food processor, and definitely not the kind that calls itself smooth-no-stir peanut butter but inevitably ends up with a layer of oil floating on top. No, no, no. You will only end up with a sad cake and what a waste that would be!

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1 cup plain, unsweetened almond milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup creamy, unsalted, unsweetened peanut butter
2/3 cup golden brown sugar, lightly packed
1/3 cup cane sugar
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/3 cups white spelt flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line the bottom of an 8-inch square pan with parchment, and lightly oil the sides.

In a large bowl, combine the almond milk and apple cider vinegar.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda.

In the large bowl, add to the almond milk mixture the peanut butter, sugars, oil, vanilla, and salt. Whisk gently (so as not to splash!) until emulsified. Add the dry ingredients to the batter and stir to combine. Pour into the prepared pan.

Begin checking for doneness at 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. (Or, if you aren’t into toothpick testing: until the edges are just starting to pull away from the pan and the center of the cake is not jiggly.) Cool completely before serving. Tastes fantastic out of the fridge.

Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 30 minutes

This morning, a breakfast cake

blueberriescousinsan every day cake

Everyone needs a go-to cake. This is mine.

Blueberry lemon cake

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Pretty much any berry can be subbed in for the blueberries. When I have a lot (8-10 oz) of berries on the ripe side, I cook them down into a skillet jam and then fold them in at the end, after combining the liquid and dry ingredients. Even better, though, is replacing the berries with 2/3 cup mini bittersweet chocolate chips, and replacing the lemon juice and zest with that of a blood orange. A tart pan is essential in my house (it fits best under our cake dome), but an 8 x 8 square pan will also do.

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2 cups white spelt flour
3/4 cup natural cane sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch fine grain salt
Zest of 1 lemon
1 cup blueberries

1/2 cup almond milk
2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut yogurt
2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of one lemon

Preheat the oven to 375 F / 190 C. Line the bottom of a 10-inch round tart pan with parchment, and lightly oil the sides.

In a large bowl, sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest together. Add the berries and toss gently to coat. In a small bowl, whisk the liquid ingredients together. Add liquid ingredients to dry, and fold gently to combine. The batter will be thick, like biscuit dough. If it seems to dry, add a splash of almond milk.

Once the cake is in the oven, lower the heat to 350. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely before serving.

Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 35 minutes

June

prickly pear cactussour fig and creeping jenny

Summer school is happening. Three credit hours’ worth of material in six weeks means I studied for nearly seven hours last night to prepare for this morning’s class. This is my new normal. I think it’s safe to say that June will be the month of five minute meals.

Also: Hello, summer! Anything below 85 degrees does not count in my book, so thank you for finally climbing into the 90s. I am happy. My gardens are happy. Please stick around.

prickly pear in bloombeans and greens

Quick pan-fried cannelloni beans with coriander and thyme

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This recipe makes one generous serving, but doubles (and triples) easily. The beans taste great on their own, but I like to heap them onto toast atop a bit of cashew cheese, or over a bed of greens. Salt plays a starring role in this dish, adding both flavor and texture. You’ll want to use a coarse salt, fleur de sel if you have it. Maldon or another kosher salt will also do.

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1 cup cooked cannelloni or other white beans, rinsed and drained
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
leaves from 2 sprigs of thyme

In a small bowl, mix together the nutritional yeast, salt, coriander, and pepper. Set aside.

Warm up the oil in a skillet, add the beans, and toss to coat. Arrange the beans into an even layer, and coat cover with the seasoning mixture. Turn up the heat – the goal is to quickly brown the beans on one side. After a couple of minutes, toss everything together in the pan, so the beans are evenly coated with the seasoning. Continue stirring over high heat until just starting to brown all over. Remove from heat, add the thyme leaves, and season to taste. Serve immediately.

Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 5 minutes

lately

 

RQpseudacris cruciferjust one of many manyquinoa meets mamou

 

a simple summer salad

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My go-to summer salad, always made with quinoa, always dressed with Celine’s vinaigrette. This salad is endlessly adaptable to what’s in season. I prefer my quinoa al dente; if fluffy is more to your liking, increase water to 3 cups.

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2 cups dried quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 sweet bell pepper, diced
1 peach, diced
2 shallots, minced
2 carrots, shredded
4 to 5 handfuls mixed greens
mamou’s magical vinaigrette, full recipe (approximately 1/4 cup)

season to taste with salt, pepper, fresh herbs

Bring 2 1/2 cups of water to boil in a heavy pot. Add quinoa, reduce heat to a simmer, and cover tightly. Cook until the all of the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. While the quinoa cooks, prep the rest of the salad components and the vinaigrette. When the quinoa is finished cooking, turn out into a big bowl. Fold in the rest of the ingredients and vinaigrette, and season to taste.

Cook/prep time: 20 minutes

a spot of summer

better than a dozen roses any ol' day

A few years ago, my husband found a clump of thorny, wayward vines along the south side of our house. One trellis, a bit of twine, and a few years later, I have a wall of roses. Not to mention a seemingly endless supply of rose buds, petals, and hips to use in the kitchen.

With summer temps finally reaching into the 90s, I don’t want to stand in front of a burner for more than five minutes, ten tops. These pan fried noodles have been hitting the spot.

Hong Kong in my kitchen

Hong Kong style noodles

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Hong Kong noodles are the perfect combination of crispy/tender, and are usually made with a particular style of Chinese egg (+flour) noodle, if memory serves. A lifelong eschew-er of all things egg (and wheat free by necessity), I took a walk on the wild side and started making this dish with fresh rice noodles, which can be found in the refrigerated section of Asian grocery markets, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and probably your big box store of choice. They will look like ramen or spaghetti noodles, only fresh! – not dried. The package will say something along the lines of “boil water, add noodles, simmer for 1-2 minutes.” For this recipe, though, you’ll skip that step. If your skillet is hot and your vegetables are plenty, the heat and moisture will be more than enough to steam the inside and crisp the outside of your noodles. The vegetables listed below are what I most often have on hand, but really I just throw in two to three handfuls of whatever vegetables need to be used from the crisper, and whatever greens I have on hand. Mushrooms, red onion, and chard make for a great combination. Corn cut fresh off the cob and basil or shiso leaves would be nice too, I think. And feel free to add a protein – I was out of both tofu and tempeh the night I took this picture. When I do add it, I give it a quick sear and then remove it from the pan before adding the vegetables, to keep it from re-absorbing any liquid.

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1/2 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
1/2 yellow bell pepper, sliced into strips
1/4 onion, sliced into half moons
2 handfuls baby spinach
1 handful (~3 oz) fresh rice noodles
splash of toasted sesame oil
splash of tamari

season to taste with salt, pepper, more tamari, chili sauce

Bring a cast iron skillet to medium/high heat. Just before it starts smoking, add the bell pepper and onion. The vegetables should be losing enough liquid that you don’t need to add oil; if they start sticking to the pan, add a splash of water. As soon as the vegetables begin to caramelize, push them to the sides of the pan and add the rice noodles to the center. Add a few drops of sesame oil and tamari, and toss the noodles to coat. Spread the noodles into a layer in the center of the pan and allow to cook for two or three minutes, until crisp on the bottom. Turn the noodles over and continue to cook. Once they are crisped on both sides, add the spinach and toss everything in the pan until the greens are just starting to wilt. Turn off the heat and season to taste.

Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 5 minutes