Some Borrowed Recipes

Today’s run: 5 miles; Brahms and Elgar.

I love looking at vegan websites and vegan (or mostly vegan) food blogs. I only follow a few, but I follow them pretty faithfully. One of my absolute favorites is VeganDad http://www.vegandad.blogspot.com/; in fact, I think his is the first blog¬† I ever read. He has fabulous recipes, fabulous pictures, and is just a wonderful writer. I’ve never disliked any recipe of his that I’ve made.

I tried his vegan doughnuts recipe this weekend. Vegan doughnuts have eluded me for years now. When I lived in Boston, I could find vegan doughnuts at the Whole Foods that was just a few subway stops away. Here, vegan doughnuts are somewhat harder to find. ūüôā I have tried several times to make them, but I can never get them quite right. First, I’m not good at frying. I’m a Northern city girl; frying is just not in my blood. It’s not the fat content that scares me – I’m a-okay with fat. It’s the bubbling vat of hot oil that spatters and sizzles that scares the ever-living crap out of me. Terrifying. Second, I remember loving the dense, cake-y doughnuts that were all over the little mom n’ pop stores in Boston where I grew up (Linda’s doughnuts, anyone?). Most recipes are for a yeast-based doughnut, and they just aren’t dense enough. I’ve tried making a baking-powder based cake-like dough, and it’s been okay, but not great, and certainly not replicative of the doughnuts of my youth. Sadly, the only way I can get the baking-powder dough to taste even remotely right is by baking the doughnuts, not frying them, and heck, I want my doughnuts good n’ greasy!

So, this recipe from VeganDad is a good resolution of my problems. http://vegandad.blogspot.com/2010/05/vegan-chocolate-glazed-donuts.html

It IS a yeast-based dough, but it’s not too airy and fluffy. I’ve never had a Krispy Kreme doughnut in my life (I’ve been a vegan for long before even hearing about Krispy Kreme), but¬†I was fearful that a yeast-based dough would be too much like a Krispy Kreme. People describe them as ‘melt in your mouth…..light as air…..’ etc., and that is NOT what I want in a doughnut. I want a dense, flavorful, substantial, toothy bite, with a soft but nicely-browned and slightly-oily crust. I do not want air that melts in my mouth. Bleh.

VeganDad’s yeast doughnuts are still nice and dense. I followed the recipe pretty much exactly. The only change I made was using half whole wheat flour instead of all white flour. He uses metric measurements, which is good for me – it makes me do math in my head because I’m too lazy to find pen and paper to figure it out ūüôā Basically, you want 2.5/3 tablespoons of shortening (or margarine) and about 3 cups of flour.

I fried some and baked some. He has instructions for both. http://www.vegandad.blogspot.com/2012/02/baked-yeast-donuts.html ¬†Both versions were delicious. I did a simple vanilla-confectioners’ sugar glaze (and a painfully-spicy, wonderfully-creamy, sweet and salty peanut butter/sriracha topping, about which I will post later). VeganDad does a chocolate glaze.

As always, his pictures are about 100 times better than mine, so I’m just going to refer you back to his recipe and post. Suffice it to say, these are doughnuts that are worth making. They are surprisingly quick, not TOO unhealthy, and pretty darn tasty.

Oh, and I did figure out the frying thing…..it’s important to get the oil hot (if it’s not, it will seep into the dough….icky) but not TOO hot (or else you get the scary sputtering stuff).

Another recipe I made was from a blog I just discovered this past week. http://www.joannavaught.com/

This is the only recipe I’ve made from this site, but it was so good I’ve already made it twice. It is that good. The 1-year old likes it; the 3-year old wasn’t interested, but she eats plenty of tofu and broccoli so I’m not worried about it ūüôā

http://www.joannavaught.com/2009/08/27/nuggets/

The first time I followed the recipe pretty much verbatim. I let the dough sit a few minutes after mixing it; it seemed to liquidy to form into ‘nuggets’, but as some of the comments indicate, it ends up working out.

The second time I made it, I made a few minor adjustments. I reduced the oil just a tad (not because of fat issues, but just because the dough seemed too oily to me the first time around), and also reduced the nutriotional yeast by about half in the dough. I looooove nutritional yeast, but the flavor here was a bit too strong to me. I also used just seasoning salt instead of the specified seasonings.

The breading mixture made enough for two recipes’ worth of nuggets.

This is a high-protein, FAST, delicious treat. I’m hoping to cut down on our Boca burger consumption with this recipe.

Vegan Thai-ish Coconut Curry

Today’s run: 3 miles, Brahms and Dvorak.

I whipped this up after playgroup on Friday, and one of the other families stayed to help us enjoy it. It looks like it will take a lot of work but it’s really just chopping veggies, and you can do that quickly.

1 tablespoon oil

1 tablespoon ginger-garlic puree (buy this at Indian or Asian grocers*), or 2 cloves garlic, minced, and about 1 inch of fresh ginger, chopped finely

1 onion, sliced

2 tablespoons peanut butter

1 teaspoon tamarind paste (again, from the Indian or Asian grocer) or 1 tablespoon  lime juice

salt, to taste (1/2 – 1 teaspoon)

1 + tablespoon Thai curry paste **

up to 1 tablespoon brown sugar, optional

1 can coconut milk – light is okay

3 carrots, sliced

2-3 medium zucchini and/or yellow zucchini, sliced into half-moons

1 head broccoli, chopped

To serve:

rice

chopped peanuts

lime slices

Method:

Saute onion in oil until soft. Add ginger/garlic, and saute another few seconds. Stir in peanut butter, tamarind paste, and curry paste; use the spoon to mash up all the pastes until they’re well-incorporated. Add the brown sugar, if using, and the salt. Pour in the coconut milk and stir. Then add in all your veggies and cook until veggies are slightly soft but also still crisp (5-10 minutes). You can add the carrots first so they cook a little bit more than the softer veggies.

Serve over rice, with peanuts and lime slices if desired.

* We have a great Indian grocer about¬† an hour away. We get a HUGE jar of a minced garlic and ginger paste¬†– it is perfect because so many Asian recipes call for both, and this has both, and ginger can be such a pain to deal with. The jar is cheap and lasts a long time. The little jars found in most grocery stores are expensive and don’t seem as good. When we run out of the paste, we just use fresh ginger and garlic.

** I like Thai Kitchen brand, which you can find in most grocery stores. The green and red curries of this brand are vegan (others have fish sauce – be careful to read the ingredients). Thai Kitchen clearly marks on the wrapper which of its products are vegan and which are not. Another good brand is Bright, which I can only find in the Asian market in Atlanta – a few hours away. It is really spicy and yummy.

For protein, I also made a quick pan -fried tofu that the kids like. The one year old will eat this until we stop giving it to her. Cute.

It does not photograph well, but it’s super easy. Press one pound of firm tofu, if you have a tofu press. Heat a little oil in a cast-iron pan. Cube tofu and add to pan. Stir. Add soy sauce and nutritional yeast to taste. Stir until heated through. If you have time, let the tofu get nice and brown and toasty. If not, it’s still yummy.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Brown-Sugar Glaze (Vegan)

ARGH. I had kind of a rough day at work today. I worked really, really hard to get someone to agree to something, and that person finally did, but then the person above that person changed our mutually-agreed upon decision…long story short, it ended up negatively affecting my client. I have a hard time letting it go when something like this happens. I just hate to see someone suffer.

I’m also having a rough time with my lack of daily exercise lately. I have intended to step up my mileage, and I really do need to do it. So here is my fitness goal for the week: Run 4/5 weekdays, with at least two of those runs being 4 miles or more; run both days of the weekend, with one as a long (10+) run.

I’d like to say I’m also going to re-start doing crunches and hand weights, but I’ve been saying that for, um, almost years at this point. ūüôā I’m lucky to have nicely toned arms from picking up two kids all the time, I guess!

Anyways….I got a fair amount of cooking/baking done over the weekend. I have¬†so much more time to cook on the weekends than during the week. I¬†try so hard to cook for leftovers, but¬†lately, we’ve been eating everything¬†in one meal! I¬†guess that means I either need to seriously double recipes, or just make more things. ¬†I have some upcoming posts planned on things like vegan-doughnut-success, seitan nuggets, Thai stirfry…..

but first, this scruptious breakfast treat!

Pumpkin. And cinnamon. And a rich, bready dough. And layers of more cinnamon-y goodness. All topped off with a penuche-flavored glaze.

YUM.

I made these Saturday morning for breakfast. We were out of bread, which is a breakfast staple for us and the girls. I am the designated bread-maker in the family. I first started making bread in high school; I used to make it as a sort of stress-reliever. Punching down dough is pretty a pretty satisfying way to get out one’s aggressions. Plus, the side benefit of freshly-baked bread, and the accompanying smell of bread-baking, made the punching-down part even more fun.

Now I primarily make bread as a way to ensure that we’re getting good, wholesome ingredients, and to cut down on costs. Making bread is way cheaper than buying it, and although it takes a few hours, very little of that time is active time – most of it is spent waiting for the dough to rise, during which you can be doing all sorts of other things.

Anyways…on to these rolls. They sort of combine two of my favorite recipes, pumpkin pancakes and cinnamon rolls (both of which can be found under the category ‘breakfast’ – if someone knows how to link to recipes/previous posts directly in a post, PLEASE let me know. I’ll send you some of these in return). They are quick and relatively healthy – I reduced the fat and sugar from my standard cinnamon roll recipe, plus they have whole wheat flour.

I was out of confectioners’ sugar (the horror!) so I made up an impromptu brown-sugar glaze. It was tasty; it reminded me of penuche fudge, which is a New England delicacy. (I’ve made vegan penuche fudge before; I should post about that sometime….).

A simple confectioners’ sugar/soy milk glaze would be easier and probably just as tasty. It would also allow the flavor of the pumpkin to come through more.

(I sprinked some ground up pumpkin seeds on these, simply because I had them lying around.)

Here’s the recipe:

1/2 cup pureed pumpkin

1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup oil

2-4 tablespoons sugar (I used 2 tablespoons, but if you like things sweet, use more. If you’re not glazing these, I’d use more like 4-6 tablespoons)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

a scant 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 1/2 cups white flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

Filling:

1 1/2 tablespoon vegan margarine, melte

2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar, to taste

Glaze:

use the confectioners’ sugar glaze from the cinnamon roll recipe (confectioners’ sugar + a dash¬†salt + soy milk), or try this:

2 tablespoons vegan margarine

1 cup brown sugar

a dash salt

1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened vanilla almond milk (method below)

Whisk together all wet ingredients. Add dry ingredients and stir gently until just mixed. Dough will be thick; just try to get all the flour incorporated without over-mixing.

Divide the dough into 2 pieces. Pat one piece out on a lightly-greased cookie sheet into a rectangle that is about 6 inches by about 12 inches (no need to be exact here).

Brush the dough with half of the melted margarine (I just use my fingers to smear it around); sprinkle with a tablespoon of cinnamon sugar. Roll the long way up, and slice into 1/2 – 1 inch slices. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Repeat process with remaining dough, margarine, and cinnamon sugar. Bake at 350 for about 15-20 minutes.

Remove from oven and put either the confectioners’ sugar glaze or the brown sugar glaze over; cool in the pan.

Brown sugar glaze:

melt margarine. Add brown sugar, salt, and almond milk. Stir, stir stir. Let it boil for about a minute, until sugar is disolved and mixture is somewhat thin. DON’T let it boil longer than a minute or so, or the sugar will crystallize and the glaze will get hard and clumpy and hard to work with (but still delicious).

Sriracha-Veggie Stirfry

We picked up some sriracai sauce today. That stuff is just delicious. Diggity Doughnuts makes a sriracha-peanut butter doughnut (vegan) that is apparently just out of this world. I was hoping to try one when we were in Charleston a few weeks ago, but alas the line for the vegan doughnut truck was too long, and I was with a non-vegan relative who did not seem to understand the urgency of vegan doughnuts.¬† Sigh. Anyways…I was in the mood for something spicy and spicy, but of course I needed something quick, too. This is what I ended up making. We got in from a family walk¬†(us, dogs and kids), and this was ready in about 20 minutes.

Serves 4.

1 8-ounces package wide lo mein noddles, or other Asian-style noodles

1 tablespoon oil

1/2 onion, finely sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 scant tablespoon peanut butter (this is more for effect/consistency rather than flavor, so you don’t need much)

2 large zucchini, half-moon slice

1 head broccoli, chopped

1 tablespoon sriracha sauce, more or less to taste

Method:

boil water and cook noodles (duh)

meanwhile, saute onion for a few minutes; then add garlic and cook another minute, then add soy sace and peanut butter and cook until onion is soft.

add all veggies. cook until veggies are of desired consistency. stir in the sriracha sauce.

serve over noodles, with extra sriracha if desired. My husband poured the stuff on, but the 3-year old and I enjoyed it as is.

Tonight I found myself getting a little cranky because I’ve been doing most of the cooking lately, and I’ve been doing a lot of cleaning too. I really can’t complain, because I love cooking, and my husband works full-time-plus (he’s a college professor, so between class prep, grading, research, and publishing, his job never ends) and I am home (usually) 2 days a week (I work part-time as a lawyer and part-time as an adjunct political science professor at a different institution). So I really _should_ do more of the cleaning, because I have more time to do it. Plus, he is FABULOUS with the kids. On the days I work, he stays home with them in the morning and then works until late at night. So really, I can’t complain….but I still do ūüėČ I don’t mind washing dishes; in fact, I kind of LIKE doing dishes. I worked in the dish room all through college and I loved it. It was one of my favorite jobs. I went to a big Ivy League school that, although not as elitist and snobby as SOME Ivy Leagues, still had its fair share of snobbiness and elitism. I enjoyed my time in the dishroom with regular folks – it reminded me that we’re all the same, and that some of us are born into less-fortunate circumstances than others. It kept me grounded amongst the wealthiness around me.

Anyways…..I like doing dishes. I really do. What I DON’T like is drying dishes, putting clean dishes away, and emptying the dishwasher. I do all those things when necessary, but not until it is absolutely necessary…..as in, the dish-drying rack is piled high with measuring cups and tupperware and pots and pans teetering on top of each other; the slightest nudge will cause the entire quivering pile to collapse. At that point, I will grudgingly – GRUDGINGLY – put away some dishes so I can add more. I prefer, however, to leave it for someone else to do.

As I write, I should note that my sweet husband is busy washing diapers, and he’ll probably be the one to stuff and fold them, too. So he is really helpful.

Question: Are there any household chores you despise? Any you love? I have read and heard that chores/housecleaning is one of the top three argument-topics for married couples; I can believe it!

Black Bean Veggie Burgers (Vegan)

These are really yummy and come together quickly.

1 can black beans, rinsed

2 cloves garlic

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 generous teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground thyme

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup breadcrumbs *

1 large zucchini, shredded

up to 1/2 cup cooked rice, optional and only if needed

* The breadcrumbs in this recipe serve to keep and hold everything together. I fine that traditional, finely-ground breadcrumbs work best (I just ground up some dried-up bread that I had made a while ago, but there are probably vegan breadcrumbs at the store). Panko breadcrumbs can work, but because they’re so much bigger and coarser than other breadcrumbs, you will probably need more than 1/2 cup.

Method: Puree or smush up the black beans. I use either the immersion blender or a potato masher. Add the garlic in and smush it up too. Add the cumin, salt, thyme, and oil; stir in the breadcrumbs and stir to combine. Add the shredded zucchini and mix thoroughly. If the mixture looks and feels wet at this point, add either more breadcrumbs or rice. This will really depend on your zucchini – dry zucchini will not require any additional breadcrumbs or rice, but a really watery zucchini will require some more. Also, if you use finely ground breadcrumbs, you are less likely to need additional breadcrumbs or rice, because the fine breadcrumbs absorb the extra liquid well. Anyways, just use your judgement – if it looks wet, add something more.

Heat up a cast iron skillet; put a little olive oil in it and let it heat up for a few minutes while you form the burgers.

Form into patties, however large you like; flatten between your palms to about 1/4-1/2 inch thick. If the dough is too wet or sticky to allow you to form it into patties, add more breadcrumbs or some cooked rice.

Cook on a preheated cast iron skillet that has a small amount of olive oil on it. Cook for a few minutes on each side, until browned.

This is really tasty and easy and quick, and uses ingredients that most people have lying around already. Also, both kids like it, which is a plus.

Sunflower Seed-Flax Crackers (Vegan)

Today’s run: standard mid-week 3 miles, Dvorak cello concerto. I have a trial coming up next week and have been thinking about it non-stop, but particularly when running….I think I¬†figure out half of my pre-trial motions while running!

Onto a new recipe….

This was my first attempt at making crackers. They came out pretty well. I’ve been wanting to try making crackers for quite some time; every time I’ve enjoyed someone else’s homemade crackers, I think ‘dude, I’ve totally got to make these!’. These were easy and came together quickly. Both girls liked them, too. I made them because I had the oven going for something else and didn’t want to ‘waste’ heat by not using both baking racks.

This is a good basic recipe. I’m going to experiment with other seeds/nuts (pumpkin seeds? YUM) and other flours (I really wanted to make this with oat flour but we were out of oatmeal, shockingly). I think I’ll also experiment with sprinkling stuff on top, like salt, poppy or sesame seeds, garlic….

Makes…..several cups of crackers, I guess. Crackers are hard to measure ūüôā

1/4 cup flax seeds, ground

1/4 cup sunflower seeds, ground

1 1/2 cups flour, white or whole  wheat

about a teaspoon of salt

1-2 teaspoons of sugar

2 tablespoons oil

1/2 cup water

Grind flax and sunflower seeds – I just threw both into my Magic Bullet, and in a few seconds they were ground up. A few unground seeds are fine; they add texture and crunch.

Mix all ingredients. Roll out onto a cookie sheet, using a rolling pin. I needed to use two cookie sheets, but if you have really big cookie sheets, one is probably fine. You want the dough pretty thin – as thin as possible, really, but don’t stress over it. Using a serated knife, score the dough into whatever size/shape crackers you want.
Bake at 350 for about 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy. The crackers at the ends of the sheets will be done before the ones in the middle; just let them get a little extra cooked.

Remove from oven when the crackers are light brown and come off of sheet easily. Slide from the cookie sheet onto a cooling rack. Store in an air-tight container.

These also worked well as teething-type crackers for the one-year old. She loved them and it took her FOREVER to eat one; she seemed to enjoy gnawing on them.

“Nursing Mom” Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

 

 

Today’s run: my typical mid-week 3 miles. I need to up my weekday mileage. ugh.

A friend of mine and his wife had¬†a baby last week, so the girls and I went to visit (the girls were as¬†equally interested in his two dogs and two cats as they were the baby….but they were well-behaved during the visit, so I can’t complain).

My friend’s wife is nursing. Not wanting to go empty-handed, I decided to make her some of my ‘nursing mom’ cookies, which combine two old wives’ tales regarding nursing: oatmeal and fenugreek are both supposed to help lactation. I’m not sure there’s any truth to either of these tales, but they make a nice excuse for some tasty cookies. (My mom swears that beer helps lactation, and I’ve heard plenty of others say the same – I’m sure it can’t hurt!) You can easily leave out the fenugreek if you aren’t making these for lactation purposes ūüėČ Fenugreek has a not-unpleasant maple-y flavor, but it has a slightly bitter, barely perceptible¬†aftertaste that you may not want.

1 stick Earth Balance or other vegan margarine

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 generous tablespoon soy milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground fenugreek (see note below re: availability and omitting this ingredient)

1 generous teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cups flour

1 1/2 cups oatmeal

3/4 cup raisins

Method: Soften margarine in the microwave for 30 seconds or so. You don’t want it completely melted, just really, really soft, softer than it’ll ever get just from sitting on the counter (for a good description of why melty margarine makes for better, softer cookies, see www.loveveggiesandyoga.com. She has lots of other good ideas and recipes, too.)

Add the brown sugar, oil, vanilla, soy milk, and salt; mix really, really well until the mixture is light and a little fluffy. Add the spices, flour, oatmeal, and baking soda, stir until well mixed. Then add the raisins and stir until well incorporated. Drop a tablespoon or so of dough for each cookie onto a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes, until just lightly golden and top is no longer moist. To keep them soft, take them out before they are browned.

These are really yummy and are a nice treat for any friend, whether she’s a nursing mom or not.

When the 3-year old has reported back to various people about our trip to see the baby, she declares “They have 2 dogs – one big, one little. They have two cats. And one tiny baby.” That child loves animals (just like her mom and dad!).

Vegan Chocolate-Maple Truffles

I’m still working on this recipe – I got it right a few months ago, but didn’t write it down and haven’t made it since (until tonight). Tonight’s version was not quite as perfect as the batch I made a few months ago, but the truffles were still yummy and satisfying. I made them tonight because we are giving up desserts for Lent (ACK!!!!). We just decided this today, so I didn’t have time to prepare by gorging for weeks prior to Lent; I needed to get a sweet-fix in TODAY! These are quick and definitely sweet, so truffles it was.

I’m a little wary of going without desserts for 6 weeks, but I know it will be good for me.

Besides these truffles, I had spinach pesto (recipe under sauces; I really need to figure out how to do internal links!) over brown rice with steamed broccoli. I gobbled it down so fast I didn’t get a picture, but it was delish and filling.

Creamy, Simple Vegan Mac n’ Cheeze, with no fake dairy products

Today’s run: 3 easy miles with my favorite big black dog. Now that he’s quite old and arthritic, I can only take him when it’s 32 or lower – otherwise he gets really achy. Poor guy! I distinctly remember running 15 miles with him when we lived in Michigan. He’s still doing really well for his age, though.

Onto a favorite recipe……

Oh my goodness. I can eat the heck out of this  stuff. For real, folks, I can eat and eat and eat this until I feel sick. It is sooooo good Рcreamy and salty with a little bit of bite.

It has been so long since I’ve had non-vegan cheese (17 years!) that I really don’t remember what cheese, or mac n’ cheese, actually tastes like. Plus I don’t eat a lot of vegan cheese; it’s pricey and hard to find, plus it was unavailable for the first 10+ years I was a vegan, so I just got by without a cheese substitute. However, because I haven’t had cheese for so long, I can’t really remember much about it. So for omnivores, this may be completely off and unappealing. For me, though, it serves the same purpose of mac n’ cheese – creamy, rich, thick comfort food, quick and easy to put together, cheap to make, and filling.

You can find a lot of veganized mac n’ cheese recipes on the web that use a lot of ‘fake’ dairy products, like non-dairy cream cheese, non-dairy sour cream, non-dairy cheese, such as Daiya, etc. etc. I’m sure these are great recipes with fantastic, authentic-tasting results. However, I really like making dishes that are based on whole, real ingredients that don’t pretend to be something else (yes, I realize the irony of this statement considering this is recipe that replicates mac n’ cheese…..but that’s the result, not the pieces). I also like making recipes that are based on ingredients that are easy to find and not hideously expensive. Tofutti cream cheese and Daiya, while both tasty, can be hard to find, depending on where you live, and are expensive, no matter where you live.¬†This recipe relies on easy-to-find, inexpensive, whole, pure ingredients.

Cook about 1 pound of pasta I usually use shells or rotini; use whatever you like). Preheat oven to 350, if you want baked mac n’ cheese (this recipe works for either baked mac n’ cheese or just putting the pasta and sauce together on the stove top).

Meanwhile, using your trusty immersion blender, blend these ingredients until smooth and creamy:

1 pound firm tofu

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 tablespoons (1/8 cup) white vinegar

2 cloves of garlic

2 tablespoons (1/8 cup) miso

2 tablespoons (1/8 cup) nutritional yeast

2 tablespoons (1/8 cup) soy milk

2 tablespoons (1/8 cup) water

1/2-1 teaspoon salt, to taste

breadcrumbs for sprinkling on top, optional

(Can you tell I was using the adorable little 1/8 cup measurer? This is the first time I’ve made the recipe actually measuring the ingredients; usually I just eyeball it.)

Mix together the cooked pasta and the sauce. I usually all but about a cup of the cooked pasta, but do as you see fit to satisfy your personal pasta-to-sauce ratio.

Eat as is, or put in a 9 x 13 pan, sprinkle breadcrumbs on top if desired, and cook at 350 for 20-30 minutes. When you bake it, the sauce sort of solidifies and the top pieces of pasta become a little chewy; it is delicious and pleasingly-textured. It’s good both ways, though, and it is certainly quicker to just eat it as stovetop mac n’ cheese. I also sometimes use this filling for stuffed shells, and drizzle some of my spinach pesto¬† on top, and then sometimes even some marinara sauce on top of that ….drool….. (the spinach pesto recipe is under the categories Sauces and Main Dishes. I cannot for the life of me figure out how to link back to my own recipes. Grrrrr.)

Quick Vegan Cinnamon Rolls and a Rainy Run with Mahler

Today’s run: 9+ moderately-hilly, cold, rainy, windy miles in about 90¬†minutes; Mahler 2 in its entirety. It was actually a really good run. It was drizzling when I set out, and I feared I would only be able to do 3 or so miles because of the rain (not because I don’t like the rain; I was worried about my IPod!). It continued to drizzle the whole time, but not enough to make me cut the run short. I got some funny looks from drivers-by – there’s very few runners in our town, let alone folks who run in shorts and a t-shirt when it’s 50 degrees and rainy out – but it was really a wonderful run. I prefer colder, greyer weather for running. It was quiet out; I did not see a single other person out, except for people in cars. Mahler is always a treat to listen to, and the 2nd symphony is truly a glorious work of art – hearing the organ come in at the end of the 5th movement always leaves me with chills. Such moving music. I came in from the run and made myself a BIG pot of Earl Grey, and enjoyed one of these cinnamon rolls. I have a stack of papers to grade by tomorrow, but I’ll get to those in a minute. ūüôā

Did you ever have one of those moments when you told your parents you needed 5 dozen strawberry-frosted chocolate-filled vanilla cupcakes for school, and you needed them tomorrow, and oh, sorry, it’s 10:00 p.m. already?

Well, I had one of those moments last night. Except that I was the one being told that something was needed the next day, and it was by my husband, not my kid. Well, really, to¬†be fair, he DID tell me earlier, much earlier, but….um….I sorta forgot until the night before that I promised to make him something. Whoops.

He needed some breakfast-y baked goods for a class he’s teaching. So I needed something quick and easy, something that I could make with ingredients I had on hand, and something that would appeal to a group of disgruntled, sullen, non-vegan teenagers….

Enter these yummy cinnamon rolls. They’re super easy, relatively healthy (I don’t generally cook low-fat on purpose, but these are certainly lower in fat than the average cinnamon rolls), and tasty.¬† They are not as hearty, substantial, or sophisticated as yeast-dough cinnamon rolls, but I didn’t have the time/patience to make yeast dough. These do the job when a sweet breakfast treat is required, quickly. Husband texted from his class to tell me they were a ‘smash hit’. Success!

Makes about 24  Рrecipe would be easily halved

1/2 cup sugar

4 cups flour (since I was making this for omnivores, I used all white flour – plus I had run out of whole wheat flour. I’m sure half whole wheat would work fine.)

2 tablespoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup oil

1 1/2 cups water

1 teaspoon vanilla

Filling:

2 tablespoons vegan margarine, melted

cinnamon sugar – about 1/4 cup total, made however cinnamony you like it

Frosting:

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

a dash salt

1 1/2 tablespoons soy milk, more or less

(Note: you may want to make one-and-a-half times the frosting recipe; I only had a cup of confectioners’ sugar left, and this baaarely made enough to cover the rolls. If you like really gooey, sugary cinnamon rolls, using 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar and 3 tablespoons of soy milk).

preheat oven to 350.

Method:

Sift dry ingredients. Add wet and mix until just mixed. This is a variation on an old biscuit recipe; you want the dough thick and solid, sticky but not TOO sticky, and not runny at all.

Put about 1/2 the dough on a greased metal cookie sheet. Using your hands, pat out to about 1/4-1/2 inch thickness; you want a rectangle that is about 6 inches by 12-15 inches. This is approximate; these are cinnamon rolls, not rocket science, so don’t worry if¬†your dough is not uniform in thickness or is not a perfect rectangle. It’ll all work out, I promise.¬†The dough will be a little sticky; a little will stick to your hands, and that’s okay. However, if LOTS is sticking to your hands and you can’t effectively pat it down, add¬†a¬†little flour. The dough will be too thick to use a rolling pin.

Once you have a rectangle, smear about a tablespoon of the melted margarine over the dough; sprinkle cinnamon sugar liberally over that, going as far to the edges as you can (but again, it’s not rocket science, so don’t worry about being too precise here). Using both hands, roll the dough length-wise (i.e. start rolling one of the long sides towards the opposing long side. Gosh, there should be an easier way to explain this….you want a log that is the longer length, so a 12-15 inch log rather than a 6 inch log. Got it?). Again, you might get all stressed that this rolling thing is not going to work, since the dough is kind of sticky. Don’t worry. You might have a few little tears but keep rolling, using both hands at once so that the dough doesn’t pull back. Any tears will correct themselves in the end.

Slice into 1/2-3/4 inch slices, approximately. Place on a rimmed cookie or baking sheet, with one of the cut sides (cinnamony sides) up. Leave some space between each roll because they will puff up while baking. If you use an unrimmed sheet, the cinnamon-sugar might ooze out and fall onto your oven floor, causing an icky burning smell.

Bake at 350 for about 20-25 minutes, until golden and no longer moist on top.

Mix frosting ingredients; you want the frosting not too runny; thick enough that it will stay on the rolls instead of dripping off (but some drips are good), but runny enough to spread.

When they come out of the oven, frost with the frosting. Cool in the pans. Enjoy.

These would also be good with orange icing (using OJ instead of soy milk in the frosting) but alas, we did not have any OJ on hand.

Question: if you’re an exerciser, do you use an Ipod when working out? I got through my first marathon and first 2 half-marathons without an Ipod (for either the races or training). Now, however, I’m pretty darn dependent on my Ipod. I can survive without it for shorter runs, but those lonely country roads get awfully long without some music or podcasts to accompany me. Is anyone similarly addicted? I read about the beauty of being alone with one’s thoughts during a run; I love that idea in theory, but in practice, it only works for me for about the first 5 miles.