{Healthier, Vegan} Pumpkin Muffies

I love Panera. “Meet me at Panera Bread” is one of my favorite phrases to hear. Perhaps it’s a nostoglia thing (I ate a lot of Panera growing up) but p-bread forever has a soft spot in my heart. Those sourdough rolls. The baguettes. Their Strawberry Poppyseed Salad. Dat soup. The bread bowls. The bagels. The Med Veg sandwich with the cilantro-jalepeño hummus. The fact that my bestie Sarah Cath worked there. The unlimited in-house coffee refills. I could go on forever.

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When it comes to the baked goods Panera has to offer, Pumpkin Muffies also have a special place in my heart. To me, pumpkin muffies represent surprises my dad would bring me if he had grabbed lunch there during work, a (welcomed) treat on rare school mornings, or special weekend breakfast noms. I remember the excitement I’d feel every time I’d get that signature brown paper bag with that Panera criss-cross pattern and could see the bottom had a slight greasy oil circle at the bottom. At that moment, I knew: it was a Pumpkin Muffie, just waiting to give me a powder sugar mustache.

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Fluffy, sweet, pumpkin-y, and with those strange powder sugar balls, these babies are incredible and I love them unconditionally. I don’t quite know why I’ve never tried to make them at home before, but yesterday morning for whatever reason I just needed to do so. And that’s just what I did.

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I made mine with oat flour because it results in super soft baked goods, which is exactly what I was aiming for, and they’re whole grain, so they feel less junk-y than the original ones. The muffins themselves are super fluffy, almost bouncy, cinnamon-y, and are a bit less sweet than the Panera version.

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I used chia seeds + water as an egg substitute/nutritional booster, but you can also use flax, applesauce, or an egg if that’s more your style. The topping? That’s still pure sugary goodness. And that is totally fine.

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How do you make them muffies you ask? I placed a biscuit cutter on my baking sheet, put two generous spoonfuls of batter into it, allowed to batter to kind of adhere to its shape for a hot second, then lifted the biscuit cutter and repeated this 12 times until I had 12 muffies. You could also use a circular cookie cutter, pipe in a circle using a wide-tipped pastry bag or plastic bag with a large corner end snipped off, or do your best and try to spoon the batter into circular shapes. It’s up to you. Even if you bake them in a muffin tin as regular muffins, they will still taste delicious, don’t you worry. ;-)

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Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15-20 minutes

Level: Easy

Ingredients – Muffies:

  • 2 1/4 cups oat flour (all purpose would also work)
  • 1/2 cup almond or soy milk
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar (any kind will do)
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds or flax seed + 2 tablespoons water (can also use 3 tablespoons apple sauce)
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • dash of salt

Ingredients – Topping:

  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. In a small bowl, combine almond or soy milk and vinegar. Set aside and allow to curdle for at least 10 minutes. In another small bowl, combine chia seeds + flax seeds and water and set that aside too.

3. In a large bowl, combine oat flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Whisk until well combined.

4. Add canned pumpkin, sugar, almond milk + vinegar mixture, and chia seeds + water into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Use a spatula or spoon to fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.

5. Place a silicone baking pad or sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Place a biscuit cutter or circular cookie cutter down on the sheet. Place two generous spoonfuls of batter into the biscuit cutter. Allow the batter to form to the shape of the circle. Lift the biscuit cutter, and repeat 12 times until you’ve made 12 circular muffies.

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6. Place muffies in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until puffy, fragrant, bouncy upon touch, and a toothpick placed in the center of the muffies comes out clean.

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7. Place muffies on a cooling rack and allow to cool. Meanwhile, combine powder sugar and brown sugar in a small bowl and mix together.

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8. Once muffies have cooled, sprinkle topping all over them. I recommend doing this right once muffies are COMPLETELY cool, and/or preferably right before eating, otherwise the powder sugar may absorb into the muffies and they’ll look shiny and weird. Store in plastic baggies or an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. These also freeze and reheat well. Especially in the toaster. Yummies = when you have toaster muffies. Hooray! Muffies all week long. Happy Monday everyone :)!

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Curried Pumpkin Hummus

As I’m writing this post, the Packers vs. Bears game is on TV. I know this because of social media and because none of my friends want to hang out right now. Currently I’m watching an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians [one I've already seen]. Everyone in Wisconsin is now officially judging me. But no matter, I love football games. I see them as the perfect time to go to the mall, Target, the gym, or Trader Joe’s (no lines!! no people!!).

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So I’m not watching the Packer game. Football just was never a thing in my household growing up and then I went to NYU so that’s self-explanatory. I just don’t football. I DO go to football parties. For the food. And if I were watching the game right now, I would find this hummus a perfect “game snack.” Instead, it’s a good Kardashian snack. For today. But I encourage you to enjoy it however you please.

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So let’s talk about this Curried Pumpkin Hummus, shall we? This idea came about because I often combine canned pumpkin and store-bought hummus on sandwiches/wraps/etc and have grown fond of the tastes and textures together. When taking fridge inventory yesterday afternoon, I noticed about a leftover 1/2 cup canned pumpkin to use up, a can of chickpeas, and a freshly emptied container of hummus, so this was a no-brainer. I typically buy store bought hummus because honestly I think it’s one of those things that’s pretty-well done in the food world, and it’s easy and clean and tasty and cheap, so why not. Apprehension to spend a pretty penny on a large container of tahini also usually stops me from making hummus, because I just never end up using much of it. So rather than purchase tahini, I use sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, or nuts, and puree them to give the hummus that nutty flavor.

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But yesterday all stars aligned when I realized I had everything I needed, and as I’ve been itchin’ to try out a pumpkin hummus recipe for a while, I gave it a whirl with delicious success! The curry flavor was a no-brainer for me, as well, as curried-flavor anything is something I tend to dig. The slightly spicy and earthy flavors of the curry powder and cumin pair nicely with the umami flavors of the pumpkin and chickpeas. You can make it spicier if you want with more paprika or cayenne pepper, but I urge you not to skip the curry flavors. They really marry the other ingredients together.

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Now use up that leftover pumpkin and make a fresh batch of festive hummus. Eat it with veggies or on a sandwich or on a tortilla [PS currently obsessed with THESE oh my goodness!]. Also pickles. Because pickles’n’hummus are secretly a match made in heaven. #trustme

Ingredients:

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup tahini, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, walnuts or almonds (use what you’ve got!)
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 heaping tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt (more if desired)

Directions:

1. Place tahini, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, walnuts or almonds into a food processor or blender. Purée until the nuts reach a paste, the consistency of a nut butter.

2. Mince garlic, and add it to the food processor. Pour extra liquid from the chickpea can and dump the chickpeas into the food processor. Add canned pumpkin. Purée until desired consistency is achieved. Most people like it super smooth. I prefer it a wee bit chunky.

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3. Add curry powder, cumin, smoked paprika, and sea salt. Mix until spices are well incorporated.

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4. Pour into a festive bowl and enjoy the way you would other hummuses. I like it on tortillas, raw veggies, and pickles. Yes pickles. Don’t knock it til ya tried it. ;-)

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Mini Pumpkin Donuts with Chocolate Drizzle [vegan]

Once upon a time I published a recipe for Mini Shortcut Vegan Banana Muffins with Coconut-Almond Glaze. I was surprised at how much responded to like it. Turns out, people like shortcuts. Like using a mix to make something quickly, but jazzing it up to make it more special. I could go on and on about how I’m typically opposed to mixes, but truth is they come in handy, and recipes that incorporate mixes to save time are just as important as a from-scratch Cronut recipes which take 16 hours from start to completion. All baked goods have a time, place and life situation, and sometimes ya need a shortcut!

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So fastforward form summer (when I wrote that recipe) into fall. It’s pumpkin season! [In case you forgot]. I certainly have not forgotten this fact. I’m practically orange from all the extra beta-carotene I’ve been consuming. I feel like people are going to start intervening and telling me to lay off the tanning beds. But really, peoples, I just love my sweet potatoes and carrots and pumpkin. #besties #beta-c

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So yes, I used a plain cake mix to make these [I used Cherrybrook Kitchens] and instead of using oil and eggs and whathave you the way one would typically make a cake, I used canned pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, and pseudo-buttermilk, put them in mini-doughnut pans, and made baked cake doughnuts. I then drizzled melted chocolate chips on some. On others, I used leftover cinnamon-sugar from my Apple Cinnamon Duffins. Both are good options.

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So toss these things into a bowl and put them in your oven and then you have a bunch of adorable mini pumpkin muffins to enjoy in the fall foliage. These are so quick to come together, that they’ll leave you for other really important fall activities like homework or apple picking or eating squash.

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Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Level: Easy peasy!

Ingredients:

  • one box cake mix [I used Cherrybrook Kitchen]
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup almond milk + 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2-3 tablespoons flour (you may or may not need this – the pumpkin can make things a little too moist, and if you feel the batter is too doughy, add a little flour to dry it out a bit)

Chocolate Drizzle:

  • 1/2 of a 12-ounce bag dark chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (optional)

Option 2 for Topping – Cinnamon Sugar Coating:

  • 1-2 tablespoons coconut oil or butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl combine cake mix, pumpkin, oil and pumpkin pie spice. Mix well.

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3. Pour cake mix into mini doughnut pan. I have this one from Wilton. I’m a big fan. I got it at Jo-Ann Fabrics. You can get one there or online. Also if you don’t have a mini doughnut pan and ain’t got time fo gettin’ one, use a mini cupcake pan. Or even a regular muffin pan. They will all work and be delicious. They just might not quite as cute. This doesn’t matter, aside from likes on Insta.

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4. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until doughnuts are browned, fragrant, and bouncy when touched.

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5. Allow doughnuts to cool completely. Meanwhile, in a small microwave safe bowl, combine coconut oil (can be omitted if you don’t have it) and chocolate chips. Place in the microwave and heat in 30 second increments until chocolate chips are melted, stirring after each increment. This should take 2-3 minutes total.

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6. Once doughnuts are cooled, use a pastry bag, spoon or fork to drizzle chocolate over the doughnuts. Yummy. I like chocolate.

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7. If you want a cinnamon-sugar coating, melt the coconut oil or butter in a small microwave safe bowl in the microwave in 30 second incremients, stirring after each increment until melted. Mix cinnamon and sugar in another small bowl. Dip or use hands or pastry brush to lightly coat each doughnut in coconut oil/butter, then roll in cinnamon sugar mixture.

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8. Allow the chocolate to cool/harden onto the doughnuts. Then take these babies to a party to share, or straight to the face. :-D

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Apple Cinnamon Duffins

Duffins. If you don’t know what a Duffin is, allow me to change your life: a Duffin is a hybrid muffin-doughnut. This is like the old-school Cronut before Cronuts were a thing. The OG hybrid, complete with a hybrid name. It’s basically a muffin doused in melted butter and rolled in cinnamon sugar. Does any of that NOT sound appealing??? Exactly. They’re wonderful.

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Duffins emerged as “the new Cronut” about 6 months ago in the media at a few bakeries and at Starbucks. This confused me greatly, because these are totally old school. My mom used to make Duffins from a recipe in a Wisconsin Magazine from like the 1950s.  According to Pita (my mom) it’s an old Amish thing. And in high school my friend Josh and I would use his a cookbook his mom (Gretchen, who is a culinary/general icon of my world) got on her wedding day. We’d crack open the yellowing pages and hit up the Duffin recipe and/or the Blueberry Boy Bait. Yum.

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I’m not sure the exact origin of the Duffin, but I know it’s older than both the Cronut and I, and I also am certain that it is a wondrous joy that you should make and eat. I have a lot of apples on hand from attending apple fest this weekend, so I decided to incorporate some into the Duffins, because who doesn’t love soft cooked apple chunks in muffins with cinnamon and nutmeg. :)

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MmmMmM. Nutmeg is certainly a key player for these babies; don’t skip it.  I also made them a bit healthier and vegan to make them more breakfast appropriate for my personal taste buds. But if you want more dessert-y Duffins, add 1/4 cup more sugar, and use all-purpose flour instead of whole-wheat. It’s all up to you. Recipes are just guidelines, after all, and as I’ve said before my main goal in blogging is simply to inspire.

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Eat a Duffin. Watch Duff Goldman on Ace of Cakes. Or pretend you’re eating a Cronut. Sing the lyrics to Lady Gaga “Poker Face” replacing “bluffin’ with my muffin” with “bluffin’ with my Duffin.” Or just simply eat it with some tea and let its cinnamon sugar coating coat you with spice and sweetness for your day ahead. Duff on, friends!

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Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15-20 minutes

Level: Easy

Yield: 8-12 Duffins

Ingredients – Duffins:

  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil, vegetable oil, Earth Balance nondairy spread, or butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 3/4 cup almond or soy milk
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar (any kind will do)
  • 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour (or all purpose)
  • 1 cup oat flour (or all-purpose)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large apple, chopped
  • dash more cinnamon + 1 tablespoon sugar to coat apples

Ingredients – Cinnamon Sugar Coating:

  • 2-3 tablespoons coconut oil or butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tray with disposable muffin cups or grease well.

2. In a small bowl, combine almond or soy milk and vinegar and allow to curdle.  Set aside for at least 10 minutes. This will form a pseduo-buttermilk. Meanwhile…

3. In a microwave safe bowl, melt coconut oil or butter in the microwave. Whisk in sugar and brown sugar. Add vanilla and applesauce and stir.

4. In a large bowl, combine flours, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk well to combine.

5. Pour oil/sugar/applesauce mix into the dry ingredients and mix gently with a spatula. When fully combined, add the pseudo 1/4 cup at a time, mixing gently until a loose batter forms.

6. Peel and chop apple into small cubes and place in a bowl. Sprinkle a tablespoon or two of granulated sugar and a generous dash of cinnamon to the apples. Toss well with a spoon until all the apple chunks are coated. You can add the apples to the batter in two ways: either stir them directly in, or scoop enough batter into a muffin tin to cover the bottom, spoon a little apple mixture (to form middle apple center) and cover apples with more batter. If you just stirred them straight in, fill each muffin tin about 3/4 way full with batter. If you layered, nice work. Still aim to have each cup 3/4 full.

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7. Pop muffin tray full of Duffins into the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes until browned, hollow to a finger tap, and/or a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean upon removal.

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8. Allow muffins to cool. Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix with a fork.

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9. Using the microwave in 30 second increments, melt butter or coconut oil in a small microwave-friendly bowl. Take each muffin and roll it gently into the melted butter. Use you fingers to spread a light coat gently all over the muffin.

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10. Take the butter-kissed muffin and roll it in the cinnamon sugar mixture until it gets a lovely coat of delicious goodness.

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11.Place on a cooling wrack until cooled. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days (longer might get soggy) or put them straight to the face. Enjoy! #apples

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Pumpkin-Apple Spice Fruit Roll-Ups !

Another beautiful fall day = another reason to put fall flavors in EVERYTHING. Fall is my favorite flavor season. I practically live for squashes and sweet potatoes and root vegetables of all sorts so when they are at their peak of bounty and freshness I am basically a full-grown kid in a vegetable-candy store. Do you know what else I love almost as much as fall veggies? Apples. Which also happen to gracefully be at their freshness peak in fall. C’mon now – one bite of any fresh fall apple and you know exactly what I’m talking about. Fall apples just taste different. Aka fresher. More like the orchard. Juicier. Tangier. Sweeter. More magical. Fresher. All at once. They are perfect.

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So let’s hear it for fall produce. #gofiber. But you know what else is wonderful about fall? PIE SEASON. To quote my sister, “pie fixes everything,” and in our family we believe that all life moments are pie-appropriate. However, in the fall, they seem to pop up more on menus and in homes, particularly those that follow the fall-flavor theme. Pumpkin and apple are regular Thanksgiving favs, and all-year-round favorites for me.

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So why not – when presented with a dehydrator theme for September for The Recipe Redux – combine all the flavors of apple and pumpkin into a yummy, portable snack that’s junk free and nutritious? And thus, Pumpkin-Apple Spice Fruit Roll Ups were born. Inspired by pie, made healthy and delicious by nature/you and your oven. These are easy as, well, pie, but a great way to give you a glucose boost in the afternoon without making you feel sluggish and icky. They’re perfect study or hiking snacks and make magnificent adorable additions to lunchboxes. What they lack in flourescent color, they make up for in flavor. You won’t regret making these, I promise.

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{A side note about The Recipe Redux – the Recipe Redux is a super cool network of bloggers who make healthier, delicious recipes and submit them into contests every month based on a theme chosen by the group. It is the only recipe contest founded by registered dietitians ! I’m inspired by many of the blogs and hope you’ll creep around the links below and find some other good stuff. I personally am excited to see the other dehydrator recipes and I’m VERY thrilled to be a part of it this month and looking forward to entering in months to come!}

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Back to the roll-ups: they’re incredibly simple to make. The hardest part is waiting for them to dehydrate in your oven while they fill your entire house with magnificent spicy-sweet-pie aromas. If you can hold out for those 3 hours though, you’ve got yourself a week’s worth of delicious goodies at your fingertips. You can do it. Just remember, pie [flavored things] fix everything.

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Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 3 hours

Level: easy

Ingredients:

  • 3 large apples
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon

Directions:

1. Peel apples and chop into small cubes. Place in a large saucepan with just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan (about 3 tablespoons) and cook until very tender, about 20-30 minutes. You could also do this in the microwave, using a microwave safe bowl and cooking increments of 2-3 minutes, checking tenderness after each increment.

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2. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Cool apples in the refrigerator, then place in a food processor or blender with the canned pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice. Blend until a smooth baby-food-like purée.

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3. Line a baking sheet with a sil-pat or parchment paper. Pour apple-pumpkin mixture over the baking sheet and using a spatula, spread mixture to make a thin, even coat covering the pan.

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4. Place in the oven for 2.5-3 hours, until the fruit-roll ups look leathery, putty-like and have darkened a bit. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

5. Use a kitchen shears or sharp paring knife to cut into strips or rolls. If you want to make roll-ups with the traditional peel-off wrapper component and everything, place first transfer the whole fruit leather from the sil-pat onto a clean sheet of wax paper, then cut into one-inch strips with a kitchen sheers. Roll up and place in an airtight container for up to a week. Enjoy~!

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Pumpkin Spice Chia Seed Pudding

Now that it’s mid-September, it’s officially time to put pumpkin and pumpkin spice in everything you eat. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – pumpkin is practically the best thing that’s every happened to the culinary world. I’m obsessed with it. I honestly will eat canned pumpkin with cinnamon and a spoon. People think this is weird. I know it’s delicious.

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But canned pumpkin – besides providing a delicious fall-like umami flavor – is also a great way to bump up the veggie content, fiber, potassium and beta-carotene of basically everything. I use it a lot for both sweet and savory dishes and can’t wait to share many of them right here on kbaked.com.

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But first – let’s talk breakfast. I love chia seed pudding. I also love pumpkin. Genius idea: put them together! Add pumpkin pie spice! Eat what tastes like pumpkin pie filling in a bowl for breakfast! Bonus: it’s healthy! Chia seeds are known power foods filled with healthy-fats, fiber and omega-3s, and make an excellent pudding if allowed to plump up in the presence of a little liquid. This works with almond or any other milk, and the pumpkin only makes it thicker, creamier, and more scrumptious. Add as much or as little sweetener as you like. Maple syrup keeps the fall flavor profile on point, but anything will do! Heck, I’d even eat it without any sweetener. I.love.pumpkin.

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Anyways, make this the night before. Prepping takes like 46 seconds, and when you wake up all you have to do is take it out of the fridge and eat it. It could not be easier. In fact, it may be the easiest recipe on kbaked.com to date. Enjoy this delicious, healthy treat as breakfast, dessert, or a snack. It will keep you full and happy for at least a few hours, as would pair nicely with a pumpkin spice beverage if you’re into excess like I am. Happy fall and happy eats! xoxo, kbakes.

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Prep Time: 1 minute

Cook Time: 0 minutes, but should be left to chill for at least 2-3 hours

Level: Could not be easier.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 3 tablespoons canned pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup almond or soy milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tablespoon sweetener of choice (I suggest maple syrup or brown sugar; sugar, agave, or honey would also work quite well)

Directions:

1. Combine chia seeds, pumpkin, almond milk, and pumpkin pie spice in a bowl. Mix well.

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2. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight until the pudding has firmed up and become pudding-y. That’s a real word I promise.

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3. Top with sweetener and any other toppings you may desire (shredded wheat, nuts, or whipped cream if you’re feelin’ naughty ;-)) and EAT.

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Homemade Vegan Cheetos

There are so many great things about being a pet owner. I’m sure many of you can relate. But there are also many stressful things about being a pet owner. For example, occasionally (read: today) you get awoken by the sound of your little chiweenie puking all over your bedroom floor. Instantly, depsite the fact that it’s 1:40am and you’ve only gotten 2 hours asleep, you are awake with adrenaline pumping, wondering what on earth is happening to your wee little nugget of joy!

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You stand up. And watch your dog (clearly embarrassed) try to hide under the bed to conceal the fact that she is, in fact, puking piles of foamy chunky goo onto your carpet. Isn’t this an appetizing intro to a food blog post? Thought so. Anyways, if you’re like me, your dog puking on your carpet (followed closely by stuff coming out the other end) results in staying up for the remainder of the night/morning carefully watching and overanalyzing every move of your pup.

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So yes, that was my morning. Dog poop and vomit on the floor. Fun stuff. The wee morning hours crept by, and around 5:15am, I made some peanut butter and banana oatmeal while watching the Duggars. I love the Duggars. Anyways, as I reached for my cinnamon shaker, I reached right past the nutritional yeast in the cabinet. I’ve always thought nutritional yeast to look like Cheetos Dust. I mean, doesn’t it? It totally does. So sometime between cinnamon shaking and JimBob fixing his combover, I decided I was going to make vegan Cheetos today.

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And so I did. Here’s the recipe. They don’t taste exactly like Cheetos, which in my opinion is a good thing. They do, however, taste like cheesy straw-like crackers with cheesy dust. And really, it’s all about the dust. If you don’t have nutritional yeast, well then I suggest you buy some. A ~*~complete*~* protein with all 18 amino acids and all the B vitamins including B12 which is hard for a lot of veggies to get, it’s probably one of the most nutritious things you can add to your diet. Also it tastes good. It’s nutty and cheesy and after a while you just sort of start to crave it and put it on errything. Like these Cheetos. Which are also much better for you than regular Cheetos. They have nothing fake in them (!!) at all. They’re also whole wheat. How do you like them apples, erm…or Cheetos.

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Anyways, I now sit in my kitchen, delusional from lack of sleep, and I hereby present to you my recipe for homemade whole-grain vegan Cheetos. Eat on, homies! And have a nice weekend. #cheetodust

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Level: Easy

Ingredients – Cheetos:

  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 6 oz non-dairy cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard (can substitute with 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Ingredients – Dust:

  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • dash salt
  • dash cayenne pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2.In a large bowl, mix together the corn meal, flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cayenne pepper, and cream of tartar. If you’re using mustard powder toss it in here, too. Mix well.

3. Cube cheese and place in a food processor. Grind until a doughy cheesy paste forms. Add mustard. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the cheese blend, about 1/4 cup at a time, pulsing to combine after each addition. Add oil and continue to pulse until a cheesy putty dough forms. If it’s a bit dry, add a teaspoon or so more oil or water.

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4. Remove from food processor, and roll out dough into long tubes. Break apart with fingers in about 2-3 inch pieces, to resemble cheetos. They don’t have to look perfect, mind you, cheetos do not.

5. Place in the oven and bake on a lower rack for 12-15 minutes until the bottoms become a bit crispy and brown and the Cheetos are hollow sounding if you pick one up and tap it on the pan.

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6. Allow to cool slightly. Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk dust ingredients, and sprinkle all over your Cheetos. Cheeto Dust = lol. Link your phalanges. Eat Cheetos. Contemplate life. Eat more Cheetos.

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Blackberry Cornmeal Pancakes [Vegan + Gluten-free]

This weekend I took a road trip to Minneapolis (that’s in Minnesota, for all you coasties) for my cousin’s wedding! It was such a beautiful wedding and the entire weekend was lovely. My sister (Jenn) and her husband (Tyler) and I drove from Milwaukee to the twin cities, where Tyler’s sister (Lauren) and her husband (John) live, so not only did we get to attend the wedding, we got to visit with/stay with Lauren and John! As they are two delightful people and wonderful hosts, this only made the weekend more exciting and enjoyable.

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On Saturday, Lauren and John took us to this adorable cafe called French Meadow Bakery & Cafe for an early celebratory birthday brunch for John. The menu offered a variety of fresh and appetizing selections, complete with plenty of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options. Honestly I wanted to eat like 9 of them. But for some reason, my eyes were immediately drawn to the vegan/gluten-free Corn Blueberry Pancake. I rarely eat brunch out, and when I do for some reason I’m rarely in the mood for sweet, but I was at this exact moment, so I went with my eyes/gut, got this pancake (and a side of fresh fruit), and was probably the happiest camper and/or clam in all of the twin cities area.

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MmMmMmm. How was this pancake delightful? Let me count the ways…soft but had nice golden/crunch edges and top, bursting with blueberries, with a delicate corn flavor that wasn’t at all sweet, which made it pair perfectly with the real maple syrup it was served with. Lauren and John ensured me that it was good when I mentioned wanting it, and once it got to the table I was, for once, happy with my decision and had *zero* order envy (win!). Everyone at the table either tried it or had already tried it, and it is a unanimous winner.

Jenn had a bit, and said “Kath, can you make these?” To which of course, I was like “Consider it done,” and got all excited because I love a little culinary challenge/mission to have. So since then, I haven’t been able to get those dang corn pancakes off my mind. So today I set out to make some! Mine, like the ones from French Meadow, are delicate and perfectly fluffy without being too fluffy,  have a tender corn flavor without being very sweet, and are gluten and dairy-free. I twisted them a bit by using frozen blackberries instead of blueberries, which I ended up liking even better. The crumbly texture of the blackberries adds to the delicate corn crumb of the pancakes in a way that the blueberries didn’t.

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But they would be great with blueberries instead, or with nothing added at all. You could even eat them plain with a smudge of pb+j or use them (like I did for lunch) in place of a bun on a veggie burger. But please do make these. They are excellent; dare I say, these are better than the pancakes that inspired them. Even my mom gave them an “A+++” and she would never lie about a matter as serious as corncakes. Millie and Sash liked them too, in case you were curious ;-). So  congrats to David & Diana (the newlyweds), and thank you for inviting me to your gorgeous wedding. Additional thanks to Lauren and John for suggesting this particular spot for brunch, and thanks to Jenn and Tyler for covering the bill and for driving to Minnesota and being awesome in general. Now let’s get corny with some corncakes, y’all!

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Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Level: Easy

Serves 2.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond (or soy) milk
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar (any kind will work)
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds (if you don’t have these, 2 tablespoons flax, 2 tablespoons applesauce, or 1/2 a banana)
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup oatflour (1/2 cup rolled oats processed into a flour in a food processor or blender)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh blackberries (halved) or blueberries

Directions:

1.Preheat skillet to 225 degrees.

2.In a small bowl, combine almond milk and vinegar. This is going to create a psuedo-buttermilk of sorts. Trust me on this. Mix it a little, then let it sit for at least 10 minutes. You can also add chia seeds or flax to this mixture. These will help thicken it a little, but if you don’t have them, you can use applesauce or banana, but wait to add them until you mix the wet with dry. If you have none of these, 2 tablespoons of water will also do the trick.

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3.In a large bowl, mix cornmeal, oatflour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Mix.

4.Add the almond milk mixture to the cornmeal mixture. If you’re using apple sauce, banana, or water, instead of chia or flax, add that now.

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5.Cut blackberries in half if using blackberries.

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6.If not using a non-still skillet, lightly grease the skillet with vegetable oil.

7.Use a 1/3 cup measuring cup to scoop 1/4-1/3 cup batter and pour gently on the hot skillet. Once the batter has hit the skillet surface, add blackberry halves or blueberries and allow to cook until the edges are slightly pulling up and the center is bubbling. This will take about 1-2 minutes. You can peak with a pancake flipper too, if you’d like. Once you see golden brown, flip the pancake and cook the other side, another 1-2 minutes.

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8. Move to a plate. Admire colors and flavors of pancakes. Eat with maple syrup, jelly, nut butter, or melted coconut oil. Enjoy!

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5 Ingredient Banana Blender Muffins with Peanut Butter Crumb Topping [Vegan]

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Another easy-peasy recipe for your enjoyment! Allow me to introduce you to these lovely Banana Muffins with a Peanut Butter Crumb Topping! Kind of a fun spin on classic crumb muffins but super easy, quick and nutritious, all made with things you most likely have around your kitchen. I wrote this recipe for Spoon University in a partnership with JC Penny, to help demonstrate great ways to use this blender for college students. Thus, this recipe is minimal ingredients, minimal prep, and still super duper delicious. The muffins themselves have no added sugar or oil, as bananas and peanut butter add plenty of natural sweetness and tenderness. The crumb topping has a little bit of sugar, but that never hurt no body. Other than that these are 100% whole grain, vegan, and legitimately tasty.

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I actually totally did use the blender to make these muffins and I must say – that thing is nice! It can do anything a blender could ~ and more ! It could easily be used for smoothies and even has to-go cups/lids, and can also function as a food processor and slice, dice, and grind! It even came with shaker top lids for things like cheese and breadcrumbs. How nifty! Check out the original post here, and/or make the muffins from the recipe below.

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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Servings: 8 muffins

Ingredients – Muffins:
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
2 very ripe bananas
1/4 cup peanut butter or other nut butter
3/4 cup almond milk or milk
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
dash salt
optional: 1/2 cup nuts or chocolate chips

Ingredients – Crumb Topping:
1/2 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup sugar

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Place 1 1/2  cups rolled oats into blender and blend on high until a fine powder forms. This is your oatflour. Place oatflour in a bowl and add remaining 1 cup rolled oats. Add baking soda and salt. Mix well with a spoon.

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3. Peel bananas, break into pieces, and place the pieces into blender, along with peanut butter and almond milk. Blend on high speed until liquified. Remove from blender, pour into bowl of dry ingredients, and mix gently. Add in nuts and/or chocolate if desired.

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4. Pour batter into a lined or lightly greased muffin tray, filling each muffin cup about 3/4 of the way full.

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5. Assemble crumb topping in a small bowl by combining the 1/2 cup oats, 1/3 cup peanut butter, and 1/4 cup sugar. Mix with a fork or form crumbs with fingers.

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6. Sprinkle crumb topping on top of each muffin and place in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes or until lightly brown and fragrant and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin is clean upon removal. Enjoy!

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Whole-Wheat Rosemary Tomato Focaccia

Happy September AND happy Labor Day friends! Today marks the end of the summer and the end of tomato growing season – which means that you may, like me, be overwhelmed by the amount of tomatoes you have at your disposal for consumption.

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There is nothing more August-y or wonderful than legit homegrown tomatoes. They taste 190% different than the big crappy ones you get from the grocery store in the middle of winter. You know what I mean – the sweet baby ones that you can literally pop like candy. OoooOooo baby are they a treat. I can literally eat an entire bowl of them and think nothing of it.

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Today not only marks the end of August, it apparently “officially” marks the end of summer. Sigh. And today, it was as if mother nature wanted to make sure we really knew this, so we had some morning thunder storms and cool, fall breezes to remind us of what lies ahead. Although I am sad to bid farewell to berries by the bucket-load and oodles of sunshine, I’m not totally opposed to fall. It’s my favorite flavor season (FALL VEGETABLES FTW!) and I am comfortable with the idea of big sweaters, racking leaves, apple pickin’ and pumpin’ cravin’. As the weather cools, I am only further enticed to warm up by the oven. Meaning more reasons to bake! #party.

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So on this awkward summer-meets-fall day, I decided to make a summer-meets-fall dish: focaccia with late summery tomatoes and fresh rosemary. I love fresh baked bread, especially on a windy cool day. And I’ve had a hankerin’ to make focaccia for a while now. I love its springy bouncy texture. Also today I learned it’s incredibly difficult to spell. So that initially make me like it slightly less, but also made more determined to master not only its spelling but also its taste. And then I forgave its difficulty to spell and accepted that I’m a terrible speller and moved on with life. With a pan of freshly baked focaccia to guide me to more important things.

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So give this stuff a whirl. It’s yummy plain, with soup, or for as an extra tasty addition to a sandwich. It’s highly customizable to your personal tastes, but the rosemary truly adds wonderful notes of pine and spice and the fresh tomatoes ended up as a gooey sweet caramelized topping. Ugh. Yum. #carbs5ever. So happy late-summer and happy early fall. See you in squash and apple season, babay.

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Prep Time: 4-8 hours

Bake Time: 20-30 minutes

Level: Easy

Ingredients:

  • one packet (1/4 oz) dry active yeast
  • one cup warm water (about 120 degrees F)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup or molasses (food for the yeast to eat and grow!)
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup all purpose or bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • one large sprig rosemary, or 2 tablespoons dried rosemary
  • 5-10 cherry tomatoes

Directions:

1. Warm the water and pour into a large bowl or stand mixer and sprinkle yeast on top. Add maple syrup and mix gently. Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes until the yeast looks foamy at the top of the water.

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2. In a separate bowl, combine flours and salt. Slowly add flour mixture to water mixture, and olive oil, about 2 tablespoons of rosemary, and using the dough hook, mix dough well until a large dough ball forms, roughly 7 minutes.

3. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, cover, and store in a cool, dry, dark place for 2-8 hours until it has doubled in size. Punch down the dough, knead for a few minutes, and transfer to a small, oiled baking pan. I used a random 6×10 inch pan.

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4. Poke holes all over the dough and allow it to do a second proof (rising) for about an hour. This proof is more important than the first rising. Don’t skip it!

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5. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. If desired, brush a little more olive oil on the bread surface, and slice tomatoes thinly and gently press them into dough surface. Sprinkle a little more rosemary and sea salt on top. Bake for 20-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean upon removal.

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6. Cool. Eat. Make a sandwich. Dip in bread. Eat more. Enjoy.

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