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!

 

 

Pumpkin Peanut Butter Smoothie

(Editor’s note: this post has been edited to add one ingredient that I forgot about – lost the note card that I wrote all the ingredients on – and to acknowledge the other food blog that inspired the recipe. Make sure to add the last ingredient if you wrote the recipe down on Wednesday. Thanks!)

Look at me, asking if you guys are sick of pumpkin yet, then posting two pumpkin-related posts in a row! All I can say is: ’tis the season. Pumpkin is tasty and, as many of us are learning, also incredibly versatile. So I’m going to share another way in which pumpkin can do backflips and splits and astound in your kitchen: in smoothie form!

Monday afternoon I got home from work and was in a snack-y mood. I went through my usual snack choices and decided I’d make a smoothie, but thought I might switch it up from my normal green (and typically breakfast meal) smoothie. I knew I recalled seeing a few recipes for pumpkin smoothies popping up in the MoFo feed, so I did a quick search to see what came up. All of them looked great and very similar, but I knew I wanted mine to also include another element that usually rounds out at least one meal a day, and sometimes my snacks, too: peanut butter.

After learning the pumpkin can join forces with other strong meal elements after making the Pumpkin-Daal Soup, I believed that peanut butter could only enhance the smooth and sweet flavor or pumpkin by balancing it out with a salty, unrefined crunch. The rest, my friends, is sweet smoothie history.

Pumpkin Peanut Butter Smoothie

Yield: 1 serving

Adapted from For the Love of Food’s Pumpkin Spice Smoothie and The Simple Vegan‘s Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Ingredients

3/4 c. almond milk
1/2 c. canned or fresh pumpkin
1/2 banana (frozen is particularly great here)
2 ice cubes
1 T. flax seed meal
2 T. oats
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. ginger
1 T. peanut butter (any kind will do, but I use crunchy salted – aka, crack)
1.5 tsp. agave nectar, maple syrup, or an equivalent amount of stevia

Directions

Add all ingredients to your blender and blend until it reaches desired consistency.

Serve immediately, and maybe go crunch through some leaves down your block, carve a pumpkin or watch “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” after enjoying it. I promise it’ll just feel right.

And one last shameless plug: my giveaway for a copy of My Sweet Vegan ends tomorrow, Thursday, Oct. 20 at 9 p.m. PST. In order to enter, comment on the original giveaway post letting me know what your favorite vegan baked good to give non-vegan friends is. For extra entries, follow me on Twitter (@veganmoxie) and tweet about the contest, or linkback to the post on your blog. I’ll pick a winner at random tomorrow night, so get your entries in soon!

 

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.