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!

 

 

Corina Bakery’s Fall Vegan Temptations

I had another special (i.e., cat-related) post in mind for tonight, but I’ll either sneak in a Saturday or Sunday post or add it in with my last post on Monday. Instead, I’m going to highlight Corina Bakery a little more, as we’ve been visiting them pretty often as of late for reading, coffee and some special snacks.

Corina Bakery is so close to my apartment, it’s kind of frightening. The ease and speed with which I can acquire vegan baked goods is awe-inspiring to say the least, and I know that I’m quite lucky because of these facts. I don’t know what I’d do without them on the days when we need a little something sweet but are a bit too busy or zonked to prep them ourselves.

This local vegan bakery keeps up with the times and seasons, and right now they’re rolling out all kinds of delightful vegan baked goods that encompass the traditional pumpkin-in-everything fashion everyone is loving as the winds start blowing in, leaves fall and temperatures drop to brrrr! status.

Behold, one of my favorites from Corina during this season:

Their Vegan Pumpkin Pie.

I first tried this last year when my favorite local craft cocktail lounge (which I will review on here, one of these days) started offering it when they instituted their 2010 fall/winter menu, (they brought it back this year as well. Yay!). It perfectly accompanies both hot cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages such as vanilla tea or Valhalla espresso drinks. All my non-vegan friends at the table tried it the night of the 1022 menu tasting party and loved it. The pie filling is teeming with warming spices – cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg – and smooth pumpkin flavor. The crust is buttery, soft and flaky, and the combo of filling and crust is just classic. I could eat a slice everyday and be perfectly content.

Today, I tried a new offering that I’d never seen before:

A slice of Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.

I always see cream cheese frosting items on Corina’s regular menu and desperately want them to be made vegan, so today my dreams came true, (okay, they could’ve if I’d called in and requested it, too, but I like seeing all the vegan options naturally available every time I come in and/or flying by the seat of my pants, guys). This cake was incredibly light and fluffy, and so spongy on the fork. The pumpkin flavor wasn’t overpowering but just right – slightly spicy with the right amount of sweetness. The cream cheese frosting brought this cake home! I was so happy slowly enjoying this cake, and savoring every moment with it. With my Americano in hand, I didn’t fret as the rain came down outside and turned the sky an apocalyptic shade of gloomy.

Some days, though, Corina is either low on or out of some of their finer vegan dessert-type items. It happens, they’re a popular place! On those days, vegan visitors can usually rely on one or both of these always vegan, always delightful sweet options to be in or on top of the pastry case:

The not so fall-ish, but still sweet Quinoa Cookie and the autumnal Mini Pumpkin Loaf, available year-round.

The Quinoa cookie is actually a healthy option for those looking for a lighter treat. Filled with raisins and other wholesome ingredients, this cookie is generously portioned and pairs well with any beverage. The Pumpkin Loaf is the perfect little rich, nutty bread that has a great texture and is covered in pumpkin seeds. I personally love bringing it home, heating it up for a few seconds and then slathering it in Earth Balance. You can find this loaf at Satellite Coffee and Metronome Coffee as well, as it’s quite popular with vegans and non-vegans alike.

Corina’s a great place to be for Tacoma vegans anytime of the year, but it’s so nice to be able to switch gears and get something seasonally-inspired sometimes!

Which fall treats are you enjoying at your local vegan-friendly bakery?

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream + childhood nostalgia

While I was working on our acorn squash dinner last eve, the bf had already gotten to work on dessert. What was on the menu? Why, only an ice cream flavor that held the title of favorite for me for many years (pre-veganism): Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, from The Vegan Scoop. It’s slowly become our vegan ice cream bible. I should actually say it’s his bible, as he’s our ice cream master. I just do the testing.

And who can say no to cookie dough balls swimming in fragrant vanilla ice cream? Not I!

This looks weird, but is the beginnings of the cookie dough. This is agave and Earth Balance, getting ready for dry ingredients.

Starting to look more familiar?

Another that may throw you: this is the vanilla ice cream base. It looks very familiar to me because I always see it sitting in our fridge in between this cooking phase, and it being poured into our ice cream maker.

We had some bites. I honestly just had one – for the first time in at least a decade and change. I had a really bad traumatic aversion to raw cookie dough develop after I snuck way too much from my grandma’s fridge one summer growing up. Ever since, just looking at cookie dough (or the thought of tasting it) makes me feel sick to my stomach. But I love cookies when they’re in baked form! And yes, I never taste the dough when I’m baking. I just hope I got all my ingredients right and taste when they’re baked!

Final step!

The business.

The finished product came out great, but the boy said that he might let the cookie dough balls freeze a little longer next time, as they kind of came apart and just became one with the vanilla ice cream. I think it was great, and reminded me of 100 degree summers (oh how I miss them), and going to Thrifty’s for ice cream with my family in So Cal. I might need to get some cones soon to have the full nostalgic effect.

Getting Over My Squash Fears: Acorn Edition

Today on my lunch break, I was at home – digging into my leftover nachos – when I noticed an acorn squash I’d purchased the week before staring back at me on the table. I remembered that I should use it soon, before it goes bad and I have to throw it out, (like so many squashes of my past). I’ve never purchased one before, let alone cooked one, so I was genuinely stumped. I felt like the two main veins of recipes I’ve seen for them in the past were stuffed or soup, so I went to my faithful friend Twitter and asked if anyone had any great suggestions on how a noob could successfully cook this particular gourd.

Fellow, (but non-vegan) Tacoma food blogger and avid tweeter, Adrienne, said:

“@veganmoxie Stuff it something like this,” and included a link to a stuffed squash recipe from a beautiful blog I’d never come across. And it just happened to be vegan. I looked it over and immediately responded, “that looks glorious!” When I got home, I peered around to make sure I had everything for the recipe.

I didn’t, so I made some changes. Like the name, for instance:

Roasted Stuffed Acorn Squash with White Beans, Walnuts and Cranberries

Adapted from The First Mess‘ Stuffed Acorn Squash with Pine Nuts, Sour Cherries and Sage recipe

Here are all the major changes I made to the original:

- Used cooked brown rice in lieu of wheat berries, (in the interest of saving time and not having to track down wheat berries)
- Used 1/4. onion instead of shallots
- Used dried versus fresh herbs, as I had them
- Swapped out the cherries for cranberries
- Used walnuts instead of pine nuts
- Added 1 c. rinsed, drained white beans

Laura suggested cutting the squash in half, seasoning with salt and pepper, and placing a smashed garlic clove underneath each half while roasting. I believe this step to be genius. The squash was incredibly flavorful as a result, and I threw the roasted cloves into the pan while making the stuffing. Never enough garlic.

Cranberries, some reserved squash and brown rice.

Stuffing!

The finish product.

This squash and stuffing combo really screamed ‘fall’ to me, from the first bite. The garlic and veggies added a savory nod, the cranberries mixed in a little sweetness while the walnuts added great texture and crunch. In my head I imagined this being made with barley instead of brown rice, and I think I’ll do that next time. Other than that the recipe did prove to be glorious, and I think my adaptations to the recipe came out as well in practice as they did in my head. Thanks for helping me get over my acorn squash fears, Adrienne and Laura!

What’s your favorite way to serve acorn squash?

Curried Scrambled Tofu with Wilted Arugula

I’m starting to realize that Mondays are becoming my cray cray (that’s Dawnspeak for crazy) days. Work and meetings right after and not a lot of breaks means there’s a lot less time to get creative in terms of putting dinner on the table. Thankfully, we are the proud owners of a large vegan cookbook collection, many of which have recipes that come together quickly. The oft-used and appreciated Appetite For Reduction is one such cookbook.

Having prepped brown rice ahead of time, I knew I needed to make some type of bean/tofu/protein side to make a meal with it. The Curried Scrambled Tofu with Wilted Arugula got my eye, and thankfully we had all the ingredients on hand to get it going even quicker, (we were starving by this point).

Tofu, curry powder and cumin all getting to know each other.

Add in the arugula, (or the mixed baby greens which also contained arugula, in our case!).

And finished! The spices gave a great color and the arugula added some needed green to the meal.

Add a grain, and you’ve got a super quick, spicy, healthful dinner on your plate in less than a half an hour. We added the max amount of curry recommended in this dish, and we both loved the flavor that it delivered. And though we served this dinner style, this scramble would be a great way to put a spin on your traditional breakfast/brunch scramble.

Do you have Appetite For Reduction? What are some of your favorite recipes to make from it?

 

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 highlineseattle.com

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.

Falafel Friday

Technically, this post lies, as we made the falafel on Wednesday, but I’m sharing it with you all now, and that’s the truth! It’d been a while since we last made some, and the boy kept bringing it up. So finally, after we went grocery shopping/got ingredients, we sated our Mediterranean desires.

I’ve never made falafel truly from scratch (always from a box or bulk bin mix, like this time), but it always turns out well and tasty. I will make it from scratch one day, though, and I’ve got the recipes dogeared to prove it.

In the meantime, here’s my falafel-making process:

Mix falafel mix with water and let set.

Make delicious tahini dressing in the meanwhile, (I use the one in Vegan With A Vengeance).

Chop up your necessary veggies.

Roll that dough into ball shapes…

and fry, baby, fry!

Place in a bowl lined with paper towels to drain oil.

And scarf!

I usually have a hard time pinpointing my exact favorite foods, but I think falafel has earned a spot in my top five over the years. It’s well earned.

Homemade Tempeh Chili Tales + My Sweet Vegan Giveaway Winner

Do you guys also get an idea for a meal stuck in your head for days that just doesn’t seem to go away until you make and devour it? If not, maybe I’m just strange. But this weekend I got the idea in my head that I HAD to make some homemade chili.

See, chili’s something I usually make from a can, (cue Trader Joe’s stellar vegetarian canned chili – a lazy dinner staple of mine since college). I’m generally fine with that, but for some reason I was craving a rich, thick and chunky-style chili that cans just can’t provide. So I started researching.

I’ve never really found a great chili recipe, which could probably explain why I’ve only made one homemade batch of (vegan) chili in my life. And it wasn’t that great. So I took to the Internet and asked on the VM FB page about any great recipes people knew of. My friend Roxanne told me that she had a great tempeh chili recipe that she wanted to send me, and though there were some great ideas posted (that I will try in the future!) I knew right away that it was going to be the winner. I’ve been on a major tempeh kick since we made the scramble this weekend, and since I’ve seen a lot of other creative/enticing looking uses for it on the blogs this week.

Roxanne informed me that the recipe came out of the book David’s Pure Vegetarian Kitchen. David appears to be from Portland, but I know he’s taught cooking classes here in Tacoma in the past. I think it’s awesome that I made a chili from a friendly-looking NW vegan dude. And guess what? My friend wasn’t kidding around – the chili was fantastic! I was skeptical of a few things (adding salsa into a recipe for anything other than chips and salsa always makes me wary), but the spice level was kicking and the depth of flavor and various textures that came from the tempeh, two kinds of beans, carrots and tomatoes were exactly what I was looking for.We served it over brown rice and I added some Mozzarella Daiya and some crumbled tortilla chips on top. We have lots of leftovers.

I can’t say I’m a complete convert, because I will still rely on the ease and convenience that is my beloved canned chili (when strapped for time or getting home after a long day’s work/workout/meetings/etc.), but I will say that I am going to stretch myself more in the future and try new chili recipes more often than once every four years. That’s a claim I can back.

And now for the winner of the My Sweet Vegan cookbook giveaway!

The randomly generated winner is: Melody! Melody’s choice of baked goods to give to her non-vegan friends?

“I love vegan chocolate chip cookies :)

Me too, girl! They win over the hearts of omnis every time. Congrats! Check your email soon.

Thanks everyone for entering, and be on the lookout for another giveaway in the near future!

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!

 

Pumpkin-Daal Soup

Are any of you getting sick of all the pumpkin recipes/creations taking over Vegan MoFo and/or the world right about now? I hope not, because thankfully I’m not there yet!

On Sunday I roasted a butternut squash, and I knew that for dinner I wanted to make a soup. Initially I wanted to make one out of Vegan Soul Kitchen but it also called for butternut, and that’d just be too much in one day for me. I started glancing through my vegan cookbook shelf (yes, I have one dedicated to them all, and it’s getting full) and came across Urban Vegan – Dynise Balcavage’s first book, by the same name as her wonderful vegan blog. I’ve made a bunch of random things from her book, (Better Than Buttermilk-Pancakes, Orecchiette Con Broccoli, Spinach-Fennel Salad with Creamy Avocado dressing – all excellent) but not much in the way of soups.

Then, I found it: Pumpkin-Daal Soup. The thought of the combination of these two things never once crossed my mind, but the more I thought about it, the more I believed it to be genius. The recipe looked really straightforward and contained ingredients that I already had, which makes for a great start.

When I read through the recipe, one concern I had was that there was very little liquid called for. Truthfully, I haven’t used lentils for many things other than loaves and soups, and I’m used to giving them a lot more water or broth to allow them to do their thing. So at first seeing so little liquid (and only a vegan milk) scared me, but I followed the recipe as indicated - something I have a hard time doing.

And it came out perfectly! The texture was more daal-like than soup, but I didn’t mind at all. The flavor was so complex – sweet from agave yet Indian-inspired thanks to turmeric and coriander, and it did a little dance on my tongue. The pumpkin cooled things down, and helped give the dish a smoother consistency than many lentil dishes. We served it with sprouted wheat toast and topped it with cilantro and roasted butternut squash seeds, (leftovers from our Sunday brunch). The recipe also yielded a few less servings than we anticipated, but that’s probably because we ate more than a traditional serving. It’s easy to do when you’re enjoying a meal this satisfying!

Perfection.

Do you have the Urban Vegan cookbook? What are your favorite recipes to make out of it?