Tag Archives: desserts

A Vegan Twist on a Classic Childhood Meal

One of my favorite meal memories as a kid is chili night. It’s a little ironic because the chili I liked as a kid is the complete opposite to what I eat now. Back then I didn’t like beans, so my mom would make me a special “beanless” chili that was mostly just ground beef, tomatoes, and spices. Now, of course, I load up on the beans and leave the beef out. Go figure. Anyway, what really sticks in my memory is not the chili – it’s the cinnamon rolls. Gooey, slightly spicy cinnamon rolls. We usually got our cinnamon rolls from an Amish bakery outside of my hometown and they were delicious.  We had this meal at school a lot, too (anyone know who came up with chili & cinnamon roll combo?) and my twin sister would always con people out of their cinnamon rolls by offering to give them her chili. We liked our sweets 🙂

My version of chili is full of beans and veggies and as hearty as any meat-based chili you might find. But, as in childhood, the cinnamon rolls are the star of this meal. They take some time to prepare, because they contain yeast, but they are absolutely worth the extra time. The recipe poster claims they rival Cinnabon cinnamon rolls and I’m in agreement. These are a big hit at work parties, too!

Chili & Cinnamon Rolls

Hearty Veggie Chili

  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 small carrots, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 oz. can tomato puree (diced tomatoes are also good)
  • 1 packet chili seasoning, or your favorite combo of spices

Heat olive oil in dutch oven or other sturdy pan. Add veggies and saute until soft. Add beans and chili seasoning, stirring to make sure all ingredients are coated with the seasoning. Add tomato puree and stir well. Cook on medium heat 10-20 minutes. The longer you leave it on the stove top, the more the flavors meld together. Serve with vegan sour cream, crackers, or Fritos chips and corn on the cob. And cinnamon rolls, of course!

Veggie Chili

The cinnamon roll recipe can be found here. I use Quick Rise yeast and the flax egg replacer and the result is huge, fluffy, and gooey cinnamon rolls. A note on the frosting – more powdered sugar equals a thicker frosting. If you want more of a glaze, just use a cup or so of powdered sugar.

Better-then-Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls

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Backyard Picnic Favorites

Rather than focusing on main dishes associated with backyard cook-outs and picnics, I thought I would highlight one of my absolute favorite side dishes … and a dessert, of course. This potato salad is delicious but what really makes it shine is the Rosemary Vinaigrette dressing. This dressing should seriously be bottled, it’s that good. This particular potato salad is a hit at picnics and potlucks alike and makes for great leftovers. It’s even tastier when you use green beans from your own garden 🙂

Green Bean and New Potato Salad (I think it’s from Southern Living, but I could be wrong …)

  • 2 lb. new red potatoes, quartered
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 qt. water
  • 2 Tbsp. salt
  • 2 lb. thin fresh green beans, trimmed
  • Rosemary Vinaigrette

Bring new potatoes, 1 tsp. salt, and water to cover in a large saucepan; cook 18-20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain and let cool. Bring 2 qt. water and 2 Tbsp. salt to a boil in a large saucepan; add beans. Cook 6 minutes or until crisp-tender; drain. Plunge beans into ice water to stop the cooking process; drain. Combine green beans and potatoes in a large bowl. Pour Rosemary Vinaigrette over green bean mixture, tossing to coat. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Rosemary Vinaigrette (can be stored in an airtight container in fridge for up to 2 days)

  • 1/2 c. while balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 c. agave nectar
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/4 medium-size red onion
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil

Process balsamic vinegar and next 7 ingredients in a blender or food processor 15-20 seconds, stopping to scrape down sides. With blender of processor running, gradually add olive oil in a slow, steady stream; process until smooth.

For dessert, you really can’t go wrong with cupcakes! For delicious Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes, you’ll need access to Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. Make the Lemony Vanilla Cupcakes variation on page 36 and the Vegan Fluffy Buttercream Frosting on page 142. Before frosting cupcakes, chop up about 1 cup worth of fresh strawberries. Coat the berries in cornstarch and then gently fold them into the frosting. Also add about 1 Tbsp. lemon zest to the frosting. And there you have it – a new take on a classic vegan cupcake!

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Chewy Oat and Apricot Bars

We recently had the Cooking Channel magically appear on our satellite menu. We’ve been watching old episodes of Food Network shows and some I’ve never heard of. Although most cooking shows are seriously lacking in vegetarian (much less vegan!) fare, I still like to get tips on techniques or ideas of recipes I can veganize. One recipe that looked like it had a shot at a make-over is “Chewy seedy oat and apricot bars” from Rachel’s Favourite Food. The end result was good, but not an unequivocal success. For one thing, the recipe includes metric amounts and I think my conversions left something to be desired. Also, the original uses something called “golden syrup,” which from what I could tell (thanks to Google) is a British specialty. Substitutions aren’t recommended (they think quite highly of their golden syrup), but in a pinch one could use maple syrup or a mixture of corn syrup and molasses. I chose maple syrup because I thought it would be healthier, but I think the thinner consistency affected the final outcome. I also had to bake my bars for much longer than the recipe states and I still wasn’t totally happy with the texture (Will thought it would make a great pie filling). So, I’ll post what I did and welcome suggestions for ways to make this more “bar-like”.

Chewy Oat and Apricot Bars

  • 1 2/3 c. oats
  • 1/2 c. slivered almond
  • 1/4 c. peanuts
  • 1/4 c. shredded coconut
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 14 Tbsp. margarine
  • 14 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • approx. 2/3 c. brown sugar
  • approx. 2/3 c. dried apricots, chopped
  • a little over 1/2 c. natural peanut butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325° F and grease a 10″ pan (or line with parchment paper). Place the oats, nuts, coconut, and flour into a large bowl and mix together. Place the margarine and maple syrup into a saucepan and cook until melted. Add sugar, apricots, peanut butter, and vanilla to saucepan and mix well. Add this mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir until everything is evenly combined. Pour into prepared pan and press down firmly with wooden spoon. Bake 45 minutes or until the mixture seems firm. It should also firm up some once it’s cooled.

Theoretically, you should be able to cut these into bars …. but we just spooned out a little at a time. I filled up a little tupperware container and brought some with me for a snack at work. You need a spoon, but it’s still a great snack. Not too sweet, and definitely filling.

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Jelly Donut Cupcakes

It’s no surprise that another dessert would show up before too long. I’ve been a big fan of Isa and Terry’s dessert cookbooks, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, since my twin sister gave them to me as gifts. I am especially fond of cupcakes, so I was happy to pick this recipe. The instructions call for baking the cupcakes, dusting the tops with powdered sugar, and then leaving them in a cool room for about 24 hours to get a little crispy on top. This is supposed to mimic a “donut” texture. I fully intended to follow these instructions until I was glancing through the cupcake cookbook and came across the recipe for Peanut butter Buttercream frosting. Inspiration hit: PB&J cupcakes!

The results were delicious. A not-to-sweet cake with a dollop of strawberry preserves inside and a creamy topping of sweet peanut butter. These were very easy to fill, too. You just drop a teaspoon of jam/preserves on top of the batter before sticking them in the oven, and the jam bakes right in. We ate these really quickly, too …. for breakfast, for post-shoveling snacks, for a treat before bed ….. cupcakes don’t last too long in my house 🙂

Recipe: Jelly Donut Cupcakes (pg 253) plus Peanut butter Buttercream Frosting from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.

Rating:   5/5

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Vanilla-Yogurt Pound Cake

Wow, this pound cake is delicious! I’ve been wanting to make this for a while (partly because the picture in the book looks so appetizing and partly because I actually had some vanilla soy yogurt in the fridge) and finally got around to it. I like that it’s not too sweet but still satisfies my dessert craving. It also makes an excellent breakfast bread (warmed in the microwave with margarine).

I didn’t have any orange extract, so I omitted the lemon  and orange extracts and instead added 1 tsp. almond extract. I also folded in about 1/2 cup chocolate chips. I will note that the recipe calls for a 9×5″ loaf pan, but mine is 10×3″ and it worked perfectly.

Recipe: Vanilla-Yogurt Pound Cake (pg 254)

Rating:  5/5

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