Recipe: Sweet Potato Muffins with Dried Cranberries and Walnuts

Okay, I think I’ve bitten off more than I can chew this week. I know I owe you guys some recipes from our Thanksgiving meal. I started an online class on Monday that is offered through an awesome site called Coursera. Have you heard about it? It offers free online courses from top universities. For example, I’m taking the Think Again: How to Reason and Argue class, which is taught by two professors especially for Coursera students — one professor is from Duke University and the other from University of North Caroline Chapel Hill. My husband is taking the Intro to Astronomy course, which is also taught by a professor from Duke University.

Anyway, there are tons of courses available if you’re into continuing education — especially free continuing education. (I promise I’m not getting paid by Coursera — I’m just a nerd when it comes to these things.) But as fun as the class has been, it’s thrown a wrench into my blogging schedule, which was already sporadic at best.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share a recipe that I adapted from “Big Vegan” for sweet potato muffins. The recipe is perfect for any sweet potatoes that you didn’t use from Thanksgiving. These little guys are hearty and delicious — the perfect breakfast for a cool fall morning.

Sweet Potato Muffins with Dried Cranberries and Walnuts
Makes 12

Ingredients:

Vegetable oil spray
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegan sugar
1 1/4 cups peeled, cooked and mashed sweet potatoes
12 tablespoons unsweetened rice milk (soy or almond will do)
1/2 canola oil
2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
1 cup dried cranberries
1/4 chopped walnuts

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine flours, cinnamon, baking soda and salt into a large bowl.

In a food processor or blender, combine sugar, sweet potatoes, milk, oil and ground flax seeds and blend until smooth and creamy. Add to your flour mixture and combine, being careful not to overmix. Add the cranberries and fold them into the batter.

Fill your muffin liners to the top and top with the chopped walnuts. Spray the tops lightly with the vegetable spray so that the walnuts do not burn.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes (my oven runs hot), or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Enjoy!

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Kidney Bean and Avocado Wraps

This delicious and healthy recipe is from “Big Vegan,” another one of my cookbooks that I really need to explore more. I like that the recipes use very basic and healthy ingredients that really shine in the finished dish.

For this particular recipe, kidney beans are mashed and combined with cumin, garlic and a pinch of cinnamon. They are then cooked with a bit of soy sauce (I used Bragg’s) and green salsa, and then spread on a tortilla with fresh avocado and hot sauce. The recipe calls for Romaine lettuce as an accompaniment, but I added kale to give it more nutritional value. (Tip: Give your kale a massage to break down some of the fibers to make it more tender.)

Since I was planning on this being our lunch option for a few days, I made the bean mixture ahead of time. You can just give the wrap a quick warm-up in the microwave or it’s just fine cold.

Kale and White Bean Pizza with Roasted Garlic

When I’m stressed out, I like to cook/bake. And on Sunday I was a cooking fiend. I made cinnamon rolls, sesame tofu wraps for our lunches this week and this Kale and White Bean Pizza from “Big Vegan.” The wrap I’ll post later. (Also, I still plan on making the vodka sauce recipe I mentioned last week. I just didn’t have vodka on hand to make it at the time.) I’ve barely scratched the surface of the book “Big Vegan” and this pizza and the wrap remind me that I really need to use the book more often.

For the crust, I actually used the pizza dough recipe from “Vegan with a Vengeance,” but next time I’d like to use the whole wheat crust recipe featured in “Big Vegan.”

Now, this isn’t the cheesy, gooey-type of pizza you typically think of, but it’s crave-worthy on its own. The flavors come from white beans — in this case, cannellini beans — that are mashed with roasted garlic cloves, thyme, tomato paste and olive oil. The bean mixture is spread over the pizza dough. Kale that has been blanched is layered on top and takes on a slightly crunchy texture after it’s been baked.

Have any of you made recipes from “Big Vegan”? If so, do you have any to recommend? The book truly lives up to its name and with so many recipes, it’s kind of overwhelming.

Best-Ever Tofu ‘Egg’ Salad with Sunny Seeds

If you haven’t had it already, I’m not sure if the above picture will look all that appetizing to you. After all, even traditional egg salad isn’t all that attractive. But the Best-Ever Tofu “Egg” Salad with Sunny Seeds recipe from “Big Vegan” is, by far, the best mock egg salad I’ve ever had. I’ve not made that many recipes from the cookbook, but this recipe alone makes the book worth the price. (Oddly, I found the recipe on Google Books.) It’s a delicious and addictive mix of different flavors and textures, from the creamy parsley-laced base, to the chewy bits of tofu and crunchy carrots, celery and sunflower seeds. The only change I made was to add a pinch of turmeric to give it a golden color; without, the chopped parsley gives it a green hue. I also added a pinch of curry powder because I happen to like it in my “egg” salad.

Though there are three different parts to the recipe, it comes together relatively fast. I serve mine on slices of whole wheat bread with a little spring mix, or sometimes I just eat it with a spoon. It’s that good.

Now if I could just find a veganized pimento cheese recipe …

Enjoy!

New Cookbook: Big Vegan

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve written a post. Sorry for that. Things have been so busy at work. Not that I’m complaining, but this blog has definitely taken a back seat.

But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been keeping up with vegan food. A few weeks ago, I picked up a new cookbook, “Big Vegan,” by Robin Asbell. It certainly lives up to its name. The book has so many different recipes, it’s overwhelming. What caught my eye were the various sandwich, wrap and salad recipes since I always seem to have trouble coming up with lunch ideas. So far, I’ve made the Fast Broccoli Kale Sandwiches with Tahini Sauce and the Summer Corn Soup with Edamame Garnish. Both were good, but they didn’t knock my socks off. Still, I’m excited about the possibilities.

On another note, we invited some friends over for dinner and movies to celebrate the beginning of the Halloween season, which is our absolute favorite time of the year. With the cooler temperatures finally moving in, I decided to make a big pot of chili and banana cream pies. I found the pie recipe in the June 2011 issue of VegNews magazine.

The pies were extremely easy to make, especially since I opted to buy store-bought pie crusts. (You can find vegan pie crust at Whole Foods. I picked up a pack of two for less than five bucks.) Now, the pies were certainly not the most attractive, but they were delicious. (The pie picture in VegNews is actually a stock photo, which was part of a big scandal with the magazine a few months ago.) And the MimicCreme whipped topping that I used, while also tasty, would not stiffen up, so I just spread it over the tops of the pies. Still, I highly recommend giving the recipe a try if you’re a big fan of banana cream pie.

And speaking of pie, I am super-excited about the new pie cookbook coming out this month from Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, “Vegan Pie in the Sky.” If it’s anything like their other two dessert cookbooks, I’m going to need to step up my exercise routine to offset the extra calories.

Anyway, I hope everyone is well!

Update: I had the chance to make the tofu egg salad recipe in “Big Vegan” and it was delicious!! It’s a little more time consuming than my usual tofu egg salad recipe, but so worth it.