Sunday Brunchin’ V: Pumpkin French Toast + Sizzling Tempeh Bacon

Yesterday I woke up cranky, not quite sure what I wanted to eat for brunch. I felt like we’d tried some great new brunch items, and switched up some old standards, and yet I remained stumped. I knew I had the remnants of an opened can of pumpkin in my fridge, and well, since October’s almost over…that sealed the deal.

We’re a little low on ingredients (it’s grocery week), so we chose the Orange-Ginger Pumpkin French Toast and Sizzling Tempeh Bacon recipes from what’s quickly becoming a favorite in our apartment, Blissful Bites.

To say that I followed the French toast recipe to a T would be a blatant lie. I made some changes because we were out of things and I wanted to use what we had on hand. It kind of made the recipe a bit of a challenge, but I take full responsibility for that. Here are a few things I did differently/proof of me being difficult in the kitchen…

One unique aspect of this recipe is that it calls for baking the French toast prior to cooking it in the pan.

The recipe called for orange zest but we didn’t have any oranges on hand, so I left that out and added in almond extract instead, just because. It also called for a sturdy bread, but we didn’t have that either so we substituted with Ezekiel slices. I soon found out why Christy used a loaf-style bread instead!

The recipe uses a whole can of pumpkin but I used one minus a few tablespoons that I used for pumpkin oatmeal the morning before. Even though I used less than called for, I still felt like the ingredients yielded way more than enough for the 3-4 servings the recipe said it’d make. We made 4 servings and still had a ton of leftover pumpkin-French-toast-dip (?), so next time I will definitely halve the ingredients so I won’t have extra.

First batch on the pan. Another mistake I realized while these were cooking – next time, use a non-stick griddle! Though they did inevitably stick to the pan each round, I was able to flip them and they dried out enough while cooking. I had to scrape off the burned bits in between batches (with a plastic spatula), but it worked out. Some of the slices broke a part a bit while cooking, but that’s evidence of why you should use a thicker bread when making this recipe. Learn from my mistakes, people!

The tempeh bacon, on the other hand, were a breeze to make and I followed the recipe as indicated.

Hands down, this was the easiest and greatest tasting tempeh bacon recipe I’ve ever used. This is not hyperbole, friends. I’ve tried a few recipes that friends/other vegans have sworn by for years, but I don’t think they hold a candle to this one. Christy got the flavor just right, so right it was kind of disturbing. Very smoky, even without the requested liquid smoke, flavorful and because they were baked and not pan fried, they had a superb texture and color. If you have this book, make these for your next breakfast or brunch, I implore you! If you don’t have the book, this is one of many reasons why you should consider adding it to your vegan cookbook collection.

Despite my mishandling of the original French toast recipe, the end result was great. Slightly sweet, filled with autumnal spices and providing the perfect crunch you expect from this dish. With a little cinnamon on top, Earth Balance and maple syrup, the toast and tempeh bacon were a brunch match made in heaven.

This concludes my Vegan MoFo 2011 posts! This was my first year participating, but I’m so happy that I did because I truly tested myself – in terms of my creativity, ability to write five times a week in spite of life and responsibilities and in terms of overcoming a few cooking fears. I feel like I learned a ton and am so proud that I ended up writing everyday that I said I would. I’m also so proud to have been a part of this year’s amazing roster of vegan bloggers who also took up the challenge! I continued to be inspired and entertained everyday for the month of October, found so many new-to-me blogs that are wonderful, and have an arsenal of bookmarked posts filled with recipes that I want to make soon. Thanks everyone for your comments and for reading, and I am already pumped thinking about next year. For now, I have lots of catch up to do!



Sunday Brunchin’ IV: The Highline

Hello, and welcome to the fourth Sunday Brunchin’! One more week to go of brunch and other weekday food adventures captured for VeganMoFo!

On Saturday morning we headed up to Seattle for a friend’s birthday and to run some errands, so naturally we decided to do lunch/brunch in the city. Thus, this week’s Sunday Brunchin’ is technically Saturday Brunchin’. I bent the rules, it’s okay. Now, let me tell you a story about one of the best vegan brunch joints that Seattle ever had.

The Squid & Ink stood in the Georgetown neighborhood, south of Seattle. I loved the Squid & Ink. The boy and I would stop there anytime we were looking for a weekend brunch – generally relying on a few dishes for brunch (the scramble for me) – and many sandwiches, soups and salads for other meals. We returned often, I brought many friends there, vegan and not, (especially visiting friends that I picked up from the airport) and all agreed that it was killer food. I have fond memories of meals at the Squid & Ink, particularly when the bf and I went there before adopting our two kittens at nearby Kitty Harbor. The photo of me eating scramble that you see on this blog was taken at the Squid & Ink, too. The space was fairly small and the ambiance was slightly lacking, but none of that mattered to me as we always enjoyed excellent food, coffee and service. It was also conveniently located near some of our favorite places in the ‘hood: Fantagraphics, Georgetown Records and All City Coffee.

Eventually we heard the news that the Squid & Ink was closing, and our little hearts sank. We weren’t sure what we’d do when it came to future Seattle bound brunching, (at the time our scope was a little more limited and we hadn’t been to the infamous Georgetown Liquor Company). Thankfully, they didn’t sink too low as we soon heard news that the previous owners were working on a new restaurant project in the Capitol Hill neighborhood –  one that would also have a full bar.

Logo via

Thus, the Highline was born.

While the Highline differs a bit from the Squid & Ink, (much larger, on a second floor, later hours, has space for shows/events, did I mention the full bar?), thankfully the owners retained a great deal of the same menu items that we came to know and love. And they kept their brunch available on the weekends.

Since the Highline opened back in May of 2010, I hadn’t made it in to try their reincarnated from my former favorite brunch obsession, as I had always just missed it and came for lunch or dinner. Ridiculous, right?! I changed that this past weekend. And I made up for lost time by starting with this…

It’s okay, you can drool. I am looking at this and remembering how absolutely divine it was, (especially with the spicy, pepper vodka they used to make it). I highly, highly recommend enjoying this beverage.

For my meal I ordered the Bomber, which consisted of: sausage patties covered in vegan Mozzarella, onions, peppers on a whole wheat roll and what was advertised as roasted root vegetables. When I read that on the menu I thought “yes! I am so in a fall, root vegetable mood!” Yet when it came it only consisted of carrots and red potatoes. Womp, womp. Even a sweet potato or one squash might’ve livened this side up a bit, yet they were still tasty. The sandwich also was hearty and perfectly married all the elements making it up.

The bf opted for sweet with the Buckwheat Blueberry Pancake after being stumped on a few choices. Earthy, spongy and slightly sweet, this giant flapjack was a good call.

As the Bomber was huge and filling when paired with more carbs and a tall BM, I had leftovers Sunday. I served it with some steamed kale topped with a quickly whipped up tahini sauce. And it was still just as awesome the next day.

The Highline
210 Broadway E
(between John St & Olive Way)
Seattle, WA 98102
(206) 328-7837
Brunch hours: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Regular hours: Monday through Friday, 3 p.m. to 2 a.m., Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m to 2 a.m.

Sunday Brunchin’ III: Basic Scrambled Tempeh + Roasted Butternut Squash

Hello all, and welcome to week three, (and post 11 on my blog, for those counting at home) of Vegan MoFo! The month is flying by and I can’t believe there are just two weeks and some change left of October. I hope you all are enjoying the posts here and all of the amazing things also being made by vegans all around the world on the MoFo RSS feed. I continue to be amazed and inspired by it! Today is Monday, and that means we pick up with the third installment in my Sunday Brunchin’  series.

I knew when I woke up yesterday that I wanted to switch gears and have a savory meal for brunch this week. The Pumpkin Spice Pancakes were great, (and fed us for about 5 more meals – they are the gift that keeps on giving!) but I’m mostly a savory brunch girl at heart. In my head I imagined we’d be making my tried and true scramble recipe, but the boyfriend picked up our copy of Vegan Brunch while I was feeding the cats. I said that we should probably start pressing tofu, but then he suggested we try making Isa’s Basic Scrambled Tempeh recipe. We both love the nutty taste and easy-to-cook-ness of tempeh yet had never scrambled it before, so this seemed like a home run. But what to serve it with?

I read the dish description and it recommended serving it with Roasted Butternut Squash, a side recipe in the book. Bingo! I’ll be honest with you guys: I have a fear of roasting fall/winter squashes. I’d tried to roast a butternut for the first time last year and it was a disaster. A huge mess and an inedible root vegetable. Since then I’ve been scared to touch another, but I thought I may as well try to right that wrong. So the boy went off to get the squash and some tempeh, and I started prepping.

When he got back, I checked the recipe and realized that we didn’t have enough tempeh, but improvised with the same amount of tofu, so this recipe could be called Basic Scrambled Tofu Tempeh. I am the queen of recipe improv.

I started making the squash, because it took three times the amount of time the tempeh recipe did, (which makes it such a quick breakfast recipe).

Our tools.

Peeled and sliced down the middle…

And chopped into a million pieces! I rinsed and saved the seeds, for a role in a future post.

The recipe said to line the pan with parchment, but I didn’t have any so I used foil. I was concerned it might ruin the recipe, but you have to use what you have around! Onto the tempeh/tofu.

There were very few vegetables (and ingredients, really) in this recipe, which is one reason why I loved it. It also didn’t have a lot in the way of seasonings/herbs, which is something I appreciated. I tend to err on the side of over-seasoning, so I love when recipes ask me to scale it back some.

Everything getting cozy in the pan.

Look, they came out perfectly! Crispy, browned and slightly sweet. I’m thankful I found a recipe that helped me conquer my fear of cooking fall/winter squashes! Well, at least butternut.

And here’s the plate I enjoyed with my mug of coffee.

Both recipes were relatively foolproof, and if you have yet to try either but own the book, I highly recommend them. I don’t have a cast iron skillet which would’ve worked perfectly to get both the tofu and tempeh nicely browned, but inevitably I’ll invest in this already-should’ve-owned kitchen tool, (along with many others). As Isa said about the combination of these two dishes, they “blend earthy and sweet,” and I agree that the combination is perfect for a cozy fall brunch at home.

Sunday Brunchin’ II: Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

Here were are, at week 2 of Vegan MoFo! Week 1 went by in a flurry of brunching, cupcake wars and reading, but after a fun weekend of geeking out, eating out and relaxing, I’m all pumped up for this week’s posts. And today we continue my theme of Sunday Brunchin’ recaps on Monday!

At Vida Vegan Con, I was lucky to have the chance to meet a ton of people and some wonderful cookbook writers. One of them was the sweet and inspiring Christy Morgan of The Blissful Chef. Christy is a vegan macrobiotic chef, cooking instructor and most recently, cookbook writer. We met and chatted at the Con, but it wasn’t until a few days after the con in Seattle that a few of us local bloggers got together for a meetup when I had the chance to get Christy’s book, Blissful Bites for myself.

A few days after I purchased it, I breezed through the book in a few days, (which is something I normally don’t do with cookbooks) and loved it. The wonderful photos, great tips spread throughout, meals separated out by season and ever-present focus on wholesome, rich and delicious healthy vegan food all hooked me from the first page, and I started keeping a mental list of all the wonderful recipes I wanted to try immediately. The first meal I tried was the Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho, to make good use of these sweet, seasonal fruits right before summer ended and fall hit. It was fabulous paired with pita bread and tofu spread and some quickly whipped up sangria.

Fast forward to yesterday morning. I sat up in bed and thought, “I want pancakes.” And then a few minutes later, confirmed in my head, “Pumpkin pancakes!”

I started searching through my monstrous cookbook shelf and wasn’t finding what I wanted. Finally, I picked up Christy’s book, and the recipe in my head popped out at me: Pumpkin Spice Pancakes. So serendipitous! And then I got to work.

Dry ingredients. I’ve never owned pumpkin pie spice, so I improvised with my most pumpkin-y/fall seasonings on hand: cinnamon, ginger, allspice.

And wet, whisked to a gorgeous orange thanks to canned pumpkin.

Flipped, and doing their thing.

Pumpkin breakfast success! I served ours up with chopped walnuts, Earth Balance, drizzled them with pure maple syrup and enjoyed it all with warm cups of coffee.

The recipe was a simple yet satisfying twist on a standard pancake recipe. I had some problems with the first batch I put on the griddle and felt the batter was a bit runny, but that could’ve been me adding in too much of one wet ingredient or not having the stove on a high enough temp to start. The following batches firmed up a lot faster, so I think upping the heat fixed it. The result was flapjacks that were soft, fluffy, perfect for October mornings and that had just the right amount of sweetness. The boy proclaimed, “mmm, tastes like pumpkin pie,” after first bite. Mission accomplished.

Vegan MoFo: Sunday brunchin’

Though it officially started on Saturday, Happy Vegan MoFo, all! I’ve seen a few numbers running around but the general consensus is that there are over 700 vegan bloggers writing about food everyday (or close enough) for the month of October. How amazing is that? How amazing are we?! Pretty damn, if you ask me. In case you’d like to keep track of all these bloggers at home, check out the Vegan MoFo RSS feed, and you will probably be hungry throughout October.

I’m starting out my Vegan MoFo posts with one of my favorite meals: brunch. Almost every Sunday the boy and I make a big, hearty meal to celebrate having a day off together, sleeping in and the fact that we want something different than what we have on weekdays for breakfast. We have a few staples that we rotate through, but sometimes we throw curveballs, and that was the case this past Sunday.

On Saturday I met up with a few friends at Tacoma’s Oktoberfest for pumpkin/fall ales, German-style pretzels and community, and we all had a great time (and managed to not get rained on!). While there I met up with my friend Clare, and she told me that she and her bf just made seitan sausages to throw into biscuits and gravy, among other things. I thought, ‘biscuits and gravy, man that sounds great – it’s been a while.’ I’ve loved biscuits and gravy for as long as I can remember, and often order them out (Wayward in Seattle offers up great b&g, btw). I always forget about them, though, so little did Clare know she’d be my brunch inspiration yesterday.

We used two of my favorite recipes for this meal: the White Bean and Tempeh Sausage Gravy from VWAV and the Herbed Whole Wheat Drop Biscuits from Vegan Brunch, (recipe can be found here). I subbed Tofurky Italian sausages for tempeh because we were out and used incredibly expired vegetable shortening for the biscuits, but apparently shortening doesn’t expire! This meal cooked up plenty fast, was delicious and we rounded out our plates with loads of kale – and some nooch and Sriracha for me.

Every Monday of MoFo I’ll do a recap on what we brunched on the Sunday before, as it’s always a guarantee we will brunch at home or out.