Halloween Chocolate Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Happy Halloween everyone! Here is a quick smoothie recipe I’ve been making with some leftover roasted pumpkin that I froze after Thanksgiving. I thawed it and have been making smoothies with it, and also added some to a batch of veggie chilli. This smoothie made a delicious and festive breakfast this morning.

Pumpkin is really good for you. According to The Everyday Squash Cook by Rob Firing, Ivy Knight, and Kerry Knight, pumpkin has vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron, manganese, vitamin E, vitamin K, copper, magnesium, vitamin B5, phosphorous, and potassium.

Serves: 2

Ingredients
1 yellow banana
1 cup pumpkin meat (mine was roasted at 350*F for about 40 minutes, and cooled)
4 dates, plus extra dates, agave syrup, or maple syrup to taste
4 tsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 cups almond milk, or other non-dairy milk

I prepped all the ingredients and blended them in my blender, enough to ensure that the dates were not chunky anymore.

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Voila!

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Pumpkin Cupcakes with Macadamia Nut Frosting

Dreena Burton: she knows what’s up.

For years I have been searching for macadamia nuts that do not may contain peanuts, and last weekend my dad found some at Costco!! This is a happy moment; for those of you with food allergies, you get what I am talking about. So, I was finally able to make a recipe that I had on the backlog for months: Dreena Burton’s Vegan Pumpkin Cake and Fluffy Macadamia Mallow Frosting. For her thorough and delicious recipe complete with tips for modifications, go here. Burton is the author of “Let Them Eat Vegan” that is full of delicious vegan recipes for the whole family. I highly recommend it.

Here is my experience with the recipe.

I made my own macadamia nut butter by soaking the nuts in water and blending them into a butter with a food processor. I had to soak the nuts and rinse them well, as they were salted and roasted. Ideally I would have liked to buy actual macadamia nut butter, or make the butter from raw macadamias, but these things are hard to find peanut-free. I would have also liked to use a Vitamix, but I do not own one.

First thing to do is put a can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight, for the frosting.

Ingredients for the Cake
Dry Ingredients
2 1/4 cups flour (I used half millet flour and half white all-purpose)
1/2 cup, plus 2 tbsps, sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/16 tsp ground cloves
(1/8 tsp allspice – I had to omit this because I did not have any)

Wet Ingredients
3/4 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used soy)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp lemon juice

1/4 cup neutral flavoured oil (I used melted coconut oil)

I preheated the oven to 350*F and greased 12 muffin tins (next time I will do 18, as the batter rose more than I expected it to. Cupcakes can be smaller because of the frosting on top that makes them larger).

In a large bowl I whisked together the dry ingredients. For optimal blending of the batter, they should be sifted, but I was lazy. If you do not sift dry ingredients in recipes, make sure that you whisk it well to ensure the lumps are out, and when incorporating the wet ingredients, ensure that there are not any lumps.

In a medium bowl I whisked together the wet ingredients, then added the wet mixture and the oil to the dry ingredients. I used a spatula to incorporate the ingredients together, scraping the bottom of the bowl to ensure everything blended. I filled the muffin tins with batter and baked them for 25 minutes, until a toothpick came out clean. This is how long it took for my cupcakes, as the tins were full, but with 18 instead of 12, I think it would take more like 18 minutes. When in doubt, set the timer for less time than you think, and check on them. I let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting them.

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Ingredients for Frosting
1 can of coconut milk, refrigerated over night*
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 cup icing sugar
1 vanilla bean, seeded*
3 tbsp macadamia nut butter
1/2 tsp xanthan gum (found it at the health food store)

*note: I used a brand of coconut milk called Arayuma. I got it at the health food store, and it claims to be organic, fair trade, and preservative-free. 1% of the proceeds go to protecting Sri Lanka’s wild elephants. It was the cheapest coconut milk there, and I wanted to try a good-quality coconut milk. I have heard that canned coconut milk is not too good for you, but I am not exactly sure why. Anyway, I just wanted to try something new.

*note: cut vanilla bean length-wise and use a knife to scrape out the dark paste inside. You can use 1 tsp vanilla extract if you don’t want to use vanilla bean.

To make the frosting, first off, I scooped out the fatty part of the coconut milk, making sure to leave behind all the coconut water. The fat is much more solid than I was expecting, and took up about 2/3 of the can. I placed the coconut fat into a large bowl and whipped it with an electric mixer for about a minute to fluff it up. I added the salt, sugar, vanilla bean, and nut butter and slowly whipped it to incorporate, and added the xanthan gum last. I whipped the frosting for about two minutes until it was creamy. I put it in the fridge to let it solidify a bit more, leaving it in there for about 10 minutes.

Using a piping bag, I piped the frosting on the cupcakes. It would have been easy to just use a knife to spread it on the cupcakes, but I felt like they deserved a little more love than that, given how delicious they are.

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With the leftover coconut water, I plan on making a green smoothie and adding it to that. For the leftover pumpkin puree, check out this recipe of mine from a previous post.

Pumpkin Bisque and Mac n’ cheese

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and so has my cutie pie. He’s off to Kentucky for two months while I finish a 40 page paper and the rest of a busy semester. While he was here we made a vegan feast for my mom, stepdad, and stepbrother: all omnivores. The menu was as follows: pumpkin bisque, followed by festive vegan tart, mushroom gravy, cranberry sauce, roasted potatoes, roasted brussel sprouts, sourdough stuffing, and scalloped corn, followed by cranberry apple crisp for dessert. It was a success, I think.

Turns out that bisque means twice cooked. Who knew? The pumpkin bisque requires roasting the pumpkin, followed by melanging it in a soup. I think I managed to make a trisque (haha) because later in the week I used the soup to make pumpkin macaroni and cheese. It was so good.

The recipe for the bisque comes from my favourite plant-powered cookbook, Crazy Sexy Kitchen. I am slowly cooking my way through it. By the way, great gift for any foodie, unless they really hate veganism or healthy food. Also, keep in mind that when I post recipes from cookbooks, I often use slightly different ingredients, so you should still check out the original if you are interested.

I doubled this recipe, which was totally worth it, and fed 5 on thanksgiving, 5 lunches, and still had enough for mac n’ cheese.

Ingredients for the bisque
1 tbsp oil
2 cups fresh pumpkin, or half a medium cooking pumpkin (will explain)
1 medium white onion, diced
3 or 4 shallots, diced
5 cloves of garlic, oven roasted (will explain)
3 cups veggie stock
1 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 cup sherry wine
1/2 tsp salt
Pepper to taste

To roast the pumpkin I cut it in half and took out the guts. The seeds were reserved for toasting later. I greased a cookie sheet and placed the pumpkin face down on it, then roasted it at 400*F for about 45 minutes to an hour. By inserting a fork it’s easy to tell when to take it out – if the fork goes in easily, it’s done.

Once the pumpkin was cooled, I cut it into smaller slices and used a fish de=boning knife to scrape the skin away from the pumpkin meat.

Another crucial step is to roast the garlic. At 400*F I placed five cloves of garlic in a tinfoil wrapped ball, having drizzled a bit of olive oil inside. I roasted the garlic for about 20 minutes. When it was done, it looked slightly brown when I opened up the foil.

Now the soup begins. I cooked the onion and shallots in oil until translucent, then added the rest of the ingredients. Using a hand blender, I pureed the soup until it was smooth. A blender would also do; a Vitamix would be superb. All that was left was to heat up the soup and serve with pumpkin seeds on top. Note that I did not used the pumpkin seeds that I roasted from the pumpkin, but rather used a different brand of store-bought pumpkin seeds. I found that the ones I made got too chewy in the soup (taste test!).

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Now for the mac n’ cheese….

Ingredients for pumpkin macaroni and cheese
2 cups pumpkin bisque
3 cups dry macaroni noodles
1 tbsp vegan margarine
1 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1 tbsp vegan margerine
1/2 cup breadcrumbs

I cooked the pasta until al dente and drained it, letting cool water pass over it to stop the cooking. In a sauce pan I melted 1 tbsp vegan margerine and made a roux with the flour (this involved whisking the flour with the butter and cooking it slightly, until a thick paste forms and bubbles). I added the pumpkin bisque and the rest of the ingredients, and whisked it until it came to a boil, letting it boil for a few minutes. The soup thickened up.

I put the cooked macaroni noodles into the sauce pan and mixed it until all the noodles were covered. I then transferred the noodles into a greased casserole dish.

In a small bowl I melted the other tablespoon of vegan margarine and then mixed in the breadcrumbs. I topped the casserole dish with the breadcrumb mixture, evenly spreading it over the macaroni. I baked the casserole for 20 minutes at 350*F with the lid on for most of it, but took the lid off and broiled it for a few minutes at the end.

I love pumpkin so much , so these dishes were a treat.

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Fall is here, and that makes me really excited for all the fall vegan recipes I want to try out. Pumpkin is one of my favourite ingredients in baking, for it not only has a rich and comforting taste, but it makes for a soft and cake-like texture. I also love that it can be used in sweet and savoury dishes. 

September has been great so far. I have been settling back into Ottawa with a new school and new program; so far the class material has been mostly review for me, as not everyone has a Psychology background. Despite the fact that the bus getting to and from the school is very unpredictable, I have opted to bike there as much as I can until it becomes snowy. There are a lot of really nice people in my program, and I have enjoyed getting to know them over the past three weeks. 

The best part about living with my dad is that he is totally open to my vegan diet; he has adopted a flexitarian attitude like I have, with a couple exceptions (he just doesn’t like soy milk, for one). Anyway, it has been really great being able to continue this way of eating past the summer. The more I submerge myself into this vegan lifestyle, the more I am convinced that this will be a permanent change. 

The carrot cake granola bars from my last post have become a staple in my school snacks, but I was really in the mood for cookies yesterday. 

Ingredients

1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup brown sugar, plus a little extra, but I used a couple tablespoons of maple syrup – it really depends how sweet you want the cookies to be
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cups vegan chocolate chips

I mixed the wet ingredients (including the sugar) in one bowl, and the dry ingredients in another bowl, then combined the two with a wooden spoon. I added the chocolate chips last. With a teaspoon I dropped little amounts onto a greased cookie sheet, and baked the cookies at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. At first the cookies looked like they were not cooked all the way through, but by inserting a toothpick it was clear that they were cooked. After the cookies have time to cool, they are soft and delicious.  

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