Sunday, April 17, 2011

Carrot Cake Muffins with Vegan Cream Cheese Top Filling

Here's a little tip of the hat to one of the recipes I'm most known for among friends -- my carrot cake oatmeal cookies. I'll get around to posting those little lovelies someday, but for now here's a little something more "suitable" for breakfast, or if you're like me, this is somewhat of a "wholesome" dessert. They're really more like cupcakes than muffins, but since they're not loaded with frosting, I'm not quite sure they can win it in the cupcake category. Either way, they are sweet and delicious, especially for the carrot cake aficionados like me. These are sure to please. Happy baking!

makes 12 muffins

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup organic/vegan sugar
3 flax eggs (3 tbsp ground flax seeds whisked with 6 tbsp water)
2/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup almond milk
1 1/2 cup (packed) shredded carrots, from about 3 large carrots
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins

Cream cheese filling:

4 oz Vegan cream cheese, softened -- just let it sit out at room temperature (Try: Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese or Galaxy Foods Vegan Cream Cheese)
1 Ener-G egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup organic/vegan sugar


Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Line 12  standard sized muffin tins with cupcake liners. Spray lightly with canola oil and set aside.

Soak the raisins in warm water for 10 minutes and then drain them and set them aside. This will soften them up. Shred the carrots in a food processor fitted with a shredding blade, or with a hand grater. Use your hands to squeeze all the juice from the carrots. You want them to be as dry as possible so you don't add more liquid to the recipe. Don't throw away the carrot juice, drink it! Or give it to your dog!

In a large bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar. Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, combine the flax eggs, oil, and almond milk. Whisk until well combined and smooth. Fold in the carrots, walnuts, and raisins.

Incorporate the flax/oil/milk mixture into the flour mix slowly and mix well until a batter forms. Set aside.

Combine all ingredients for the cream cheese filling and beat with a rubber spatula until smooth, but thick and creamy.

Spoon the muffin batter into the muffin cups and fill each cup about 3/4 of the way full. Drop a heaping teaspoon of the cream cheese filling on top of each muffin. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake part of the muffin comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool in muffin tray for about 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Vegan American Chop Suey

I've recently been told that my food is "fancy." I'm not sure if I'm to take this as a compliment or as a comment on having "complicated" or "involved" recipes. Or maybe the people who say this just eat veggie dogs and Amy's frozen dinners, I don't know. I've certainly never thought that the recipes I've posted are at all fancy or involved, otherwise I probably wouldn't be making them. I just don't have that kind of time...or know-how! I just like to cook. And I like to take pictures that aptly depict the wonderful taste of the food. Sometimes that involves a wine glass in the background, I guess.

In any case, here's a very un-fancy dish. I promised myself I wouldn't post "basic" recipes because I feel like most people who want this kind of food can easily find it elsewhere by doing an internet search. I also want to try to avoid using prepackaged vegan meat substitutes because some people can't find them easily and they're not exactly typical of a healthy vegan diet and can be misleading to non-vegans. Nonetheless, here's a satisfying quickie for all you busy moms, hungry students, and just plain ol' lazy bones like me: American Chop Suey. I've seen this recipe made so many different ways. Traditionally, with green or red pepper. I didn't have either so, I made it with sun-dried tomatoes, portobello mushrooms, and a roasted pepper pasta sauce. I also added nutritional yeast in place of parmesan cheese. It makes the dish a little more gooey and delicious. You can find the meatless grounds for this dish at almost all major grocery stores.  The Yves brand uses non genetically modified soy, by the way.

Until today, when I spoke to a west coast native, I had no idea this was an east coast dish so, there you are, west coast friends. Eat up! But don't expect me to do New England Vegan "Clam" Chowder or "Lobster" Bisque next...that's fancy.

Serves 2 - 3

1 1/2 cups elbow, fusilli, or small shell pasta, cooked al dente
1/2 package of meatless "beef" crumbles (Try: Lightlife Smart Ground Original or Yves Meatless Ground Round Original)
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 portobello mushroom top, chopped thickly into squares
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 cup pasta sauce
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 to 3 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste
olive oil


Cook the pasta according to package instructions.

Heat a non-stick skillet on medium high heat. Add about 3 tbsp of olive oil and saute the garlic for about 1 minute. Add the onions and saute for about 3 to 4 minutes more. Next, add the mushrooms and cook for about 5 more minutes, stirring frequently. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and meatless crumbles next, stirring to incorporate everything well. Then add the dried oregano. Cook for about 6 to 8 minutes, stirring, until everything is well heated. Next add the pasta sauce and salt and pepper. Continue stirring and cooking until the pasta sauce is well heated, about 5 minutes.

Immediately pour the hot contents into a bowl or pot with the pasta and mix until evenly incorporated. Add the nutritional yeast and stir.

Serve and enjoy!

This photo is purposefully not fancy.