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!

Vegan Thanksgiving 2.0

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving, everyone!

Well, we pulled off our second all-vegan Thanksgiving and, I have to say, I’m pleased with the results. A few weeks back, I had mentioned that I was going to make a spread featured in an issue of Vegetarian Times, but, true to form, I ended up changing my mind. It was mostly because it was going to be really expensive to make.

So, this year, we decided to veganize very traditional dishes, some of which I made last year, but I was able to improve upon this year. Here’s a breakdown of the dishes you see on the table:

Cumin-Cayenne Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Onions

These mashed potatoes were taken from the Vegetarian Times spread I originally wanted to make. They aren’t the prettiest mashed potatoes (they look a lot different than the picture in the magazine), but they were tasty. The cumin and cayenne added a nice kick to the buttery Yukon Gold potatoes.

Green Bean Casserole

This is my take on the traditional green bean casserole. I first sautéd the onions and garlic in olive oil and a little Earth Balance. I then added the mushrooms and a little vegetable stock to deglaze the pan. After everything was browned and caramelized, I removed them from the pan so that I could create the cream base. I started by making a roux. To do this, I melted more Earth Balance in the pan and added flour. I then added the cream.

This year, I thought I’d try a new (to me) product, Unsweetened MimicCreme. My only complaint was that, out of the container, it had a very sweet, almost marshmallow-like smell despite being unsweetened. It made me a little nervous, but once I incorporated it into the roux and the sautéd onions and mushrooms, it took on a much more savory aroma. I’ll definitely be using this again for anything that calls for heavy cream.

Once I had the mushroom cream base, I added frozen haricot verts and warmed them a bit in the pan. I then added some of the fried onions to the green beans and then transferred the entire mixture to a casserole dish. I baked uncovered for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees and then topped it with the rest of the fried onions. I put it back into the oven to bake for another 10 minutes.

Sage and Apple Stuffing

My stuffing last year wasn’t all that great, so I wanted to make up for it this year — and I think I succeeded. I used a little help by picking up a couple of packages of vegan stuffing from Whole Foods that already contained some seasoning.

I started by sautéing onions, celery and carrots in olive oil. I then added a clove of garlic and cooked the mixture a bit longer. After that, I added two Honeycrisp apples, chopped into small cubes. After sautéing a little longer, I added the stuffing mix, a couple of teaspoons of sage, and salt and pepper. From there, I started ladling in the vegetable stock until it was at the desired consistency. I then scooped it all into a buttered casserole dish and baked it alongside the Greenbean Casserole.

Sweet Potato Balls with Caramel Sauce (sauce not shown)

It would not be Thanksgiving in my family without this decadent sweet potato dish. My mom makes these every year. My husband doesn’t quite understand my family’s obsession with them, but he’s just weird. How can you not like mashed sweet potatoes wrapped around a marshmallow, rolled in crushed corn flakes, then baked until the marshmallow melts and topped with a rich caramel sauce? It’s like dessert for dinner. Does it get any better than that?

But, needless to say, the original version of these little beauties is not vegan. So, for a Thanksgiving potluck with friends last year, I set out to make them my own. Last year’s effort turned out well, but I made a few tweaks to make them even better this year. For example, I opted to make them a little smaller and I made sure to stick with Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, instead of the Whole Food’s brand I used last year. The Kellogg’s Corn Flakes are lighter and make for a crispier coating.

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

3 lbs sweet potatoes
3 tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer
4 tbsp water
1 tbsp almond or soy milk
3 cups crushed Kellogg’s Corn Flakes
Dandies Vegan Marshmallows
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup Unsweetened MimicCreme
1 tsp flour
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

Peel and chop sweet potatoes into even cubes. Boil until soft. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk the egg replacer and water until frothy. Mash the cooked sweet potatoes with a potato masher and then add the egg replacer/water mixture and the milk to the potatoes.

Take two marshmallows and mash them together so that they stick together. Form the mashed sweet potatoes around the marshmallows, then roll in the crushed corn flakes. Place into a lightly greased pan. Repeat until all the mashed sweet potatoes are gone. I made my balls a little larger than a golf ball and I was able to get exactly 15 of them out of the recipe. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until you see the marshmallow oozing out.

To make the sauce, simply combine the brown sugar, MimicCreme, flour and vanilla into a saucepan and whisk over medium heat until combined and the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Spoon the sauce over the sweet potato balls. Try not to eat too many in one sitting. I dare you.

In addition to the recipes above, we included a Field Roast Celebration Roast. I also made a delicious brown gravy recipe that I got from “Vegan Diner.”

And what Thanksgiving feast would be complete without the cranberry sauce? I like my cranberry sauce the old-school way: out of a can. I’m not sure if the canned kind normally contains gelatin, but the Whole Foods brand does not.

And now for the best part: dessert.

Pumpkin Cheesecake With Pecan Crunch Topping

This is the second recipe I’ve made from “Vegan Pie In The Sky” and it did not disappoint. The cheesecake was really, really easy to make and turned out beautifully. Oh, and it was delicious! Each bite brought hints of pumpkin, banana and a touch of orange from the extract. The pecan crunch topping added the perfect flavor and texture to the cheesecake. I cannot recommend this dessert enough.

So, that wraps up our vegan Thanksgiving. It turned out really well and we have tons of leftovers, which is my favorite part.

If I can offer any tips, it would be to make the cheesecake the night before. Thanksgiving day, make the greenbean casserole, stuffing and sweet potato balls first and don’t bake them until close to the end. Make the gravy and caramel sauce next. Finally, while the potatoes are boiling for the mashed potatoes, go ahead and put the greenbean casserole and stuffing into the oven. After about 20 minutes, put the sweet potato balls into the oven too. And, if you can fit them, throw in the Celebration Roast (I put mine in a dish with vegetable stock to keep it moist) and the rolls last.

Enjoy!

Apple Strudel and Black-Eyed Peas

Happy New Year! Can you believe it’s now 2011? Crazy! The holidays were very relaxing for us, and were filled with lots of delicious vegan meals. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to capture them all on film, but I’ll do my best to give you a rundown of all the wonderful new recipes that we tried.

For some reason, I like to have a big Italian meal on Christmas Eve (I blame it on my mom’s Italian roots). This year, I decided to make a lasagna, along with a Caesar salad and warm, crusty bread. For the lasagna, I turned to Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s newest cookbook, Appetite for Reduction. It’s quickly becoming one of my favorite cookbooks. I’ll go into that a bit more a little later, but so far, every recipe that I’ve made from the book has been delicious!

The recipe, Lasagna with Roasted Cauliflower Ricotta & Spinach, was super-easy to make and packed with flavor thanks to the roasted cauliflower. My dad even finished off a big plate of the lasagna! To cut down on the cooking time, I opted to not boil the pasta. Instead, I layered the uncooked pasta noodles and added a little water right before baking. I also doubled the recipe so that there would be enough for everyone.

For the Caesar salad, I used Laura Ulm’s recipe from her book Vegan Yum Yum. The dressing for this salad is really what made the dish. It was incredible! (Well, the homemade sourdough croutons certainly didn’t hurt.) It consisted of almonds, miso, Dijon, vegan Worcestershire, and silken tofu among other ingredients. The croutons were also very easy to throw together and a must-have for the salad. Cubed sourdough bread was tossed with olive oil, Italian herbs, salt, and pepper, and then baked in the oven. I could easily eat this salad as a meal. So simple, but so delicious.

For dessert, I turned to Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World (another must-have book from Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero) to make red velvet cupcakes. The Crimson Velveteen Cupcakes were incredibly moist. The Old-Fashioned Velvet Icing, though delicious, was a little runny for me, so next time, I think I’m going to make them with a cream cheese icing. Still, they were the perfect finish to our Christmas Eve meal.

For Christmas morning, I once again turned to Vegan Yum Yum to make an apple strudel. In case you didn’t know, Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry is vegan. Now, it’s also not very healthy, but hey, it was the holidays! The strudel recipe was ridiculously easy to make. It was simply a matter of slicing the apples, tossing them in cinnamon, sugar, and flour, and then rolling them in the puff pastry. I made the strudel the day before and put it back into the oven for a few minutes to warm it. A slice of the strudel and a cup of coffee were the perfect Christmas morning treat.

For the past couple of years, we’ve been making it a tradition to eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day with the hope that they will bring us good luck for the year. This year was no exception and I once again turned to Appetite for Reduction to make these Hottie Blacked-Eyed Peas & Greens and Ginger Mashed Sweet Potatoes & Apples.

But before I go into how delicious both recipes are, I just have to profess my love for the cookbook. Yes, the recipes are low-fat, but you wouldn’t know it. The food is just so clean and simple and delicious, which is the way I like to cook. They also, for the most part, require very few ingredients (especially if you have a stocked pantry), making them incredibly budget-friendly. If you buy one cookbook this year, I highly recommend adding this one to your collection.

Anyway, back to the meal! The Hottie Black-Eyed Peas & Greens had so much flavor thanks to the onions, garlic, hot sauce, and liquid smoke. The recipe came together in no time at all while the sweet potatoes and apples steamed for the mash.

Though two separate recipes, I used Isa’s recommendation of making the Ginger Mashed Sweet Potatoes & Apples as a side for the Hottie Black-Eyed Peas. And, wow! The smokiness of the peas along with the sweet potatoes and apples made for a flavor-packed meal. And so healthy. And like the peas, once I finished cubing the potatoes and apples for steaming, the mash came together really quickly.

Well, that’s it. For now. I hope this rundown inspires you to try some new vegan recipes.

Enjoy!

Happy (Vegan) Thanksgiving!

Sorry, my pictures turned out a little blurry.

I know it’s the day after, but Happy Thanksgiving! For years, my husband and I have talked about making a 100 percent vegan Thanksgiving spread, and this year we finally got around to doing it. I’ve never made a full spread of food before, and I was a little worried that I wasn’t going to be able to pull it off. But I have to say, it turned out really well. In fact, it was downright delicious!

For our first-ever vegan Thanksgiving, I decided to veganize traditional dishes: green bean casserole, maple sweet potatoes, stuffing, and mushroom gravy. We also picked up a Celebration Roast and rolls from Whole Foods, as well as a can of cranberry sauce (I can’t help it—I love the kind that looks like a can).

For the green bean casserole, I used Lauren Ulm’s alfredo sauce recipe for the base, and added sautéed onions and cremini mushrooms. I used frozen haricot vert because they are a little more tender than regular greens beans. Plus, it saved me a little prep time. I also added roasted garlic, lots of pepper, and, of course, fried onions throughout and on top. I baked it in the oven for 50 minutes total, but removed the foil and added fried onions to the top for the last 10 minutes.

For the sweet potatoes, I simply peeled and cut them into small, uniform cubes, and boiled them until tender. After that, I placed them into a casserole dish and tossed them with brown sugar, Earth Balance, maple syrup, and pecans. I topped them with Dandies Vegan Marshmallows and baked them at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.

The stuffing, though tasty, was the one dish that I felt could use some more tweaking. I first cubed day-old whole wheat sandwich bread and spread the cubes out onto a baking sheet. I placed them in a 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes to dry them out a bit. While they were in the oven, I sautéed lots of onion and celery. I also made about 8 cups of vegetable broth using Better Than Bouillon and lots of sage, thyme, and pepper. (I used some of the broth to baste the Celebration Roast to keep it moist while it warmed in the oven.) I mixed the onions and celery with the bread cubes and ladled the broth onto the bread mixture. I baked it alongside the green bean casserole for 50 minutes. The end result was a little too moist for my liking, but I was able to toss in some extra bread cubes to soak up some of the broth. Next year, I’d like to play around with the recipe a bit and add some different ingredients.

The gravy recipe came from Veganomicon and it was fantastic! The only difference was that I splashed in some red wine instead of white because that’s all I had on hand. Also, the recipe made a ton of gravy, so I will probably cut it in half the next time I make it.

And, finally, what Thanksgiving would be complete without a pumpkin pie?

I used the pumpkin pie recipe from The Joy of Vegan Baking, which was incredibly easy and ridiculously good. Instead of making my own crust, I went to Whole Foods and found a pre-made spelt flour crust that was all-natural and free of animal products. It worked perfectly. We topped the pumpkin pie with soy whipped cream.

With the help of my husband and some good music on the record player, the whole meal took about 3 1/2 hours to make. I made the pumpkin pie first, then I made the green bean casserole and stuffing and baked them at the same time. While they were baking, I made the sweet potatoes and threw them in the oven, too. I threw the rolls in at the last minute to warm them a bit.

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your friends and family!