Cinnamon Carrot Cupcakes with Maple Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

Well, hello there. It’s been awhile, eh? My deepest apologies. Life got crazy…was booked for a week solid with a catering gig; had some friends visit; and had some interviews. All great things. Only downfall is that things like my blog take the backseat.

To make up for lost time, I am sharing a terrific cupcake recipe. It comes all the way from the heart of South Africa and I seriously had a blast in the kitchen making this. The spice level is perfect, and would also go well with hints of ginger and nutmeg, if you wish to get adventurous. I had some challenges with the cooking temp/time as the cupcakes are slightly overdone which was necessary in getting my toothpick to come out dry. I started at 350 F, but suggest you aim for 325 F.

Despite my inartistic abilities, I found the frosting to be the highlight of the recipe. I went with a maple cream cheese frosting dusted with flakes of unsweetened coconut. It was a great choice. To take it up a ‘wow’ factor, toast the coconut for a few minutes to get a nice golden color.

Enough writing, time to get baking!!

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Ingredients
– 1 c brown sugar
– 1/2 c sunflower oil
– 1/2 c canola oil
– 3 eggs, beaten (feel free to use flax eggs: 3 Tbls flax + 9 Tbls water)
– 1 1/2 c finely shredded carrot
– 1 1/2 c flour
– 1 tsp baking soda
– 1/2 tsp baking powder
– 2 tsp cinnamon
– 1 c chopped walnuts
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– 1 c cream cheese
– 1/4 c powdered sugar
– 1 tsp maple syrup extract
– 1 tsp maple syrup
– flaked coconut for topping (about 2 Tbls)

1. In a large bowl, add the brown sugar, oils and egg. Mix well
2. Next, add the remaining ingredients. Stir until everything is just combined (don’t over mix)
3. Line muffin/cupcake tins, add enough batter so it sits just below the liner (I made 15)
4. Cook at 325 F for 30-35 minutes
5. Let cool fully. Create the frosting by whipping the cream cheese, powdered sugar, extract and syrup together. Spread generously on cupcakes. Top with flaked coconut

Mason Jar Brownies

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One thing I am not: craftsy. I avoid pinterest because I see a lot of cool things that I would like to do, but when it comes to the follow through, I quickly become frustrated at my inability to be creative (yes, I realize things other than craft projects exist on pinterest…) Regardless, there is one project that I’ve wanted to try for awhile and that’s making brownies in a jar. I’ve had a hankering to take this on over the holidays, but then when the time comes, I get consumed with a million other menial tasks. Thankfully, I have a bridal shower coming up and I am strapped for cash. Perfect time to test out a mason jar brownie recipe.

After some searching, I came across Alicia Silverstone’s post and it seemed like a perfect fit. Once I had the jar prepared, it occurred to me that I should actually test the recipe out…I am so glad that I did…Sigh. It’s way more cake than brownie and the whole wheat flour gives it a grainier/healthier feel, which is okay, if that’s what you’re going for. While this recipe is acceptable, I will definitely be on the prowl for a different one that offers a chewier and gooeyer consistency :)

Ingredients

- 3/4 c white flour
– 3/4 c whole wheat flour (or just do 1 1/2 c white…)
– 1/2 c cocoa powder
– 1 tsp baking powder
– 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
– 1 1/2 c sugar
– 1 tsp salt
– 1 c chocolate chips (in her recipe, she uses these for the frosting…I use these for more chocolaty goodness inside the brownie; that and I loathe frosting)

Steps…
1) Combine above ingredients in a large mason jar (at least 32oz, I struggled squeezing my chips in)
2) On a card, write the instructions below, and additional ingredients

1). Add mason jar ingredients to a large bowl
2). In a medium bowl, whisk together the following wet ingredients:

- 3/4 c non-dairy milk
– 3/4 c brewed coffee
– 1/2 c canola oil

3). Add wet to dry, mix until everything is combined
4). Bake at 325F for 25-30 minutes. Let cool before cutting

Palak Tofu

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Ok…So, I have voiced my frustrations with being unable to create an awesome Indian dish. Well, I think I am finally on the right track! I absolutely love this recipe from Vegan Richa.

The only thing that was somewhat amiss with the recipe was the serving size. After making the meal, I’d say it serves 1-2…but if you can squeeze two more servings out of this, more power to you. Perhaps I was just so smitten with it, I was eager to eat it all!!!

Ingredients
For the tofu:
– oil
– 1/2 of Trader Joe’s super firm tofu (I used 8 oz of the 16 oz package) cut into little cubes
– 1/2 tsp cumin powder
– 1/2 tsp garam masala
– 1/2 tsp garlic powder
– 1/2 tsp cayenne

For the curry sauce:
– 2 c spinach
– 1/4 c water
– 1/4 c almond milk
– 2 Tbls raw cashews, soaked for 30 min
– 2 cloves garlic
– 1 tsp ginger powder (or fresh ginger)
– 1 medium tomato
– 1/4 teaspoon garam masala

1. Mix the spices for the tofu, set aside. Add oil to a skillet, turn heat to medium and once hot, add the tofu
2. Cook the tofu until it begins to brown. Then, add the spices. Cook for about 5 minutes
3. Mix all sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor. Add to the spiced tofu and simmer until the sauce thickens. Use cayenne/salt/pepper to taste

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Vegan Peanut Butter Protein Bars

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Most people have at least one type of food vice. I happen to have a few. One of these vices is protein bars. I LOVE a good protein bar. I never seem to schedule enough time in the morning. By the time I’m done exercising and getting ready for work, I have about 5 minutes to either make a protein shake or grab a protein bar. Why so much protein? After seeing a nutritionist a few years back, I realized I was lacking sufficient protein intake. I feel the easiest remedy for this is a strong protein based meal in the morning to set the tone for the day. I’ve also noticed that this A.M. protein boost helps me feel full throughout the day while I’m at work. WOO!

Ok, so let’s get to the recipe. I found a great base to work with thanks to Oh She Glows. I omitted the chocolate because I really don’t like sweet bars, especially in the morning. I also reduced the sweetener and added some almond milk. Feel free to play around with what I came up with!

Ingredients
– 3 c oat flour (GF)
– 1 c puffed brown rice
– 1 c vanilla raw protein powder
– 1 c raw peanut buttter
– 3/4 c maple syrup
– 2 tsp vanilla
– 2-4 Tbls almond milk

1. Combine oat flour, puffed brown rice and protein powder in a large bowl
2. In a smaller bowl, combine peanut buttter, maple syrup and vanilla. Stir until everything is mixed together
3. Add the peanut butter mixture to the dry
4. With your hands (I used cooking gloves), mix everything together. You will likely find the mix to be dry, begin to moisten with 1 Tbls of almond milk at a time
5. Line a 13×9 pan with parchment paper. Spread the bar mixture in the pan with your hands. Once the mixture is smooth and even, place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. Remove from the pan and cut into desired shapes!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites

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Vegan Richa really knows what she’s doing. This recipe for the Chocolate Chip Cookie Bites is seriously amazing. However, I wasn’t totally sold on it at first. The yield seems really small and I wasn’t sure about the texture. After I let the bites sit in the fridge, I had one…and another…then realized I was hooked.

It would be fun to play around with this recipe, perhaps using soaked cashews rather than almond meal, but that may change the consistency quite a bit.

Either way, these taste very similar to raw cookie dough and are a much healthier option!

Here is how I went about making them…

Ingredients

- 2 Tbls vegan butter
– 1/4 c brown sugar
– 2 Tbls almond milk
– 1 Tbls vanilla
– pinch of salt
– 3/4 c ground oats
– 3/4 c ground almonds
– 1/4 c sugar
– 1/2 c chocolate chips

1. Melt the butter in a small pan. Once melted, remove from heat and add the sugar, almond milk and vanilla
2. In a separate bowl, add the salt, oat flour and almond meal. Pour the wet mix into the dry. After everything is incorporated, fold in the chocolate chips. Set in the freezer for about 5 minutes
3. Roll into bite sized balls. Return to the freezer or enjoy right away!

Sriracha-Maple Glazed Tofu

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Tofu seems to be one of those proteins that people love or hate. And, for the haters, I’d guess it’s because they’ve had a bad experience with the block of bean curd. While tofu can be intimidating to work with, I guarantee you, it can be incredibly delicious if it’s properly prepared.

For this simple dish, I used Trader Joe’s super firm tofu (16oz). I cut the block in half and saved the other half for later. With the 8oz block, I cut 4x4x4 so I was left with nicely shaped cubes. Then, in a sauté pan, I heated sunflower oil and once it was hot, I added the tofu. I cooked the tofu for about 5 minutes or until it was brown on multiple sides. Next it was time for the glaze. I used a simple combination of sriracha, maple syrup, barbecue sauce and a little ketchup. I covered the tofu in the glaze and continued cooking at a medium heat. Once the glaze begins to caramelize and create a crust, remove the tofu from the heat and enjoy!

Broccoli Salad

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This broccoli salad is absolutely brilliant. There are 5 basic ingredients and you are in charge of how creamy and/or sweet you want it. I really didn’t measure anything. I simply blanched half a head of broccoli florets and rinsed them with cold water. Once cooled, I added them to a bowl along with a scoop of vegenaise, handful of raw sunflower seeds, handful of craisins and about a teaspoon of chopped shallot.

You could easily make this into a pasta or rice salad as well. It would go great with a wild rice!

Roasted Veggies Covered in a Creamy Cashew Sauce

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This recipe is as easy as it sounds. You roast some veggies of your choice and once they are done, you drizzle them with this delectable cream sauce.

I roasted some carrots and Brussels sprouts, adding beans and kale, because, the more, the merrier. While the veggies were roasting away, I whipped up my sauce. Of course, I didn’t measure this one, but below is a good estimate of what I used. Feel free to play around with it.

Ingredients

- 1 c raw cashews, soaked for at least 3 hours (drain before using)
– 1/4 c nutritional yeast
– 1 tsp smoked paprika
– squirt of Sriracha
– 1-2 cloves roasted garlic
– salt/pepper to taste
– 1/2-1 c water

1. Puree everything in a blender or food processor, add water to reach your desired consistency

Killer Baked Beans

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Nothing beats a side of baked beans in the summertime. They are quite simply, “the bees knees.” I grew up on canned baked beans and they are a definite go-to comfort food. However, as I’ve grown older, I’ve sought out healthier versions, straying away from readymade brands which are often loaded with sugar and preservatives; opting to bake my own.

It would have been a much more impressive dish, had I made the time and effort to soak my beans, but isn’t that always the case? Instead, I condensed the cook time by relying on canned beans…I know, I know. Still, this recipe blows any readymade version out of the water. And you can definitely play around with the sugar level to add/reduce sweetness. I found that the amount given was just perfect.

Ingredients
– 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
– 1 20 oz can white kidney beans (cannellini)
– 1 15 oz can red kidney beans
– 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
– 1 tsp dijon mustard
– 1 Tbls Worcestershire sauce (I use Annie’s)
– 2 Tbls liquid smoke
– 3 Tbls real maple syrup (can sub agave or honey, but maple syrup really should be used here)

1. Preheat oven to 325 F
2. Sauté onions in a little oil or water, cook until soft and caramelized
3. Drain and rinse beans, set aside. In a casserole dish, add tomato sauce, dijon, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, and maple syrup. Whisk together. Add beans and caramelized onion
4. Bake covered for 15 minutes and uncovered for 15 minutes

Product Review: Neat Burger Mix

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We received a few new products to sample at the store and I was given this meat substitute mix by Neat to test out. I have not tried many dry burger mixes before so I don’t have much to compare this to. However, I still was very disappointed with this product.

The mixture can be made into crumbles or patties. I made mine into patties. It can also be made vegetarian (with egg) or vegan (with egg replacer). I did the latter and used flax egg.

The spices that were used seemed to compete with each other and I wasn’t really sure what type of flavor profile they were striving for. I think with some innovation, the mix could be used as an add-in to a veggie burger recipe. For example, if a veggie burger recipe calls for bread crumbs, perhaps using some of this blend? I just feel that the mix on its own is lacking. Those are my two cents!