Sunday Running Round-up and Vegan Doughnuts from Revolution Doughnuts

This was a decent running week!
Monday and Tuesday: 3 miles each. Wednesday: 1 mile (cough, cough). Thursday: 5 miles, on a completely new route. Friday: 0. Saturday: 5-6 miles with my new running buddy! Today: just under 15 miles, in wretchedly hot and humid weather. I could have wrung out my shorts when I got home, it was that hot. Ugh. Total: about 32 miles.

My new running buddy has one of those fancy-schmancy running watches that calculates your pace and your miles (through gps). I have been toying with the idea of buying either a GPS or a Kindle for the past few years and have never been able to decide between the two. When I learned about this watch, it made that decision easy: I just ordered a Garmin running watch in lieu of either a GPS or Kindle. I’m very, very exciting about it. Today I meant to do 15 miles; I ended up doing 14.7, and if I had a watch that calculating distance, I would have run around the block to make it an even 15. Do any of you use any kind of tracking gadget while exercising? Do you like it? What do you use?

Yesterday I got to try some vegan doughnuts from Revolution Doughnuts in Decatur/Atlanta. Doughnuts are something I love and miss, and something I have not been able to make very successfully. These were GREAT doughnuts. They have both cake and yeast style; in Boston I grew up eating cake style, and had never had a yeast doughnut, but after having tried them yesterday, I think I’m sold on them. I still like the cake doughnuts, but there’s something so satisfying about the spring and chew of a yeast doughnut. We got a variety of flavors: cinnamon sugar (cake), chocolate glazed (both cake and yeast), strawberry lemonade (yeast), vanilla glazed (yeast), coconut (cake), and almond-covered (cake). My favorite was the vanilla glazed (gasp! what a shock!) but they were all good. It seemed like they used the same dough for each doughnut and the flavor was all in the glaze; this is probably typical, but somehow I was expecting the vanilla and strawberry lemonade doughnuts to have more flavor than just the flavored glaze. Still, though, delicious. It does bring up my never-ending desire to create the perfect at-home vegan doughnut recipe. The baked ones never are quite the same, and yet I cannot get the hang of frying; plus, I have never achieved the perfect dough consistency. I think this is a project I will embark upon in the fall. ūüôā

I have some new recipes coming up, for some new no-bake bars, and ice cream. I had pictures of both but somehow they’ve disappeared from my picture list (AND I think I already deleted them from the camera….UGH!). I guess I’ll just have to make more and take more pictures. ūüôā

 

 

Vegan Cranberry-Cashew Bread

I am so incredibly lazy. I can’t post my fabulous vegan peanut butter eggs recipe because, even though I made them 2 days ago, I haven’t yet taken any pictures of them. LAZY VEGAN!

The peanut butter eggs are really quite delicious, though. I will post the recipe tomorrow. My husband was super impressed with them, and he’s pretty picky about his chocolate.

On a  non-lazy note, I saved another client from some jail time today. Sweet. He was someone who really, really did not need to go to jail.

This is a recipe I made quite some time ago. I have an old family recipe for cranberry-orange bread with walnuts; I love cranberries, but I tire of the  typical cranberry-orange and/or cranberry-walnut combination. The cashew topping in this recipe creates a deep, buttery richness and really rounds out the flavors of the bread. Tangy cranberries, sweet, moist bread, plus a delicately-textured rich nut streusel topping = close to perfection in a loaf.  I love, love, LOVE steusel-y toppings; they feel and taste so rich and decadent, and can really transform a quick bread into something truly special, almost a coffee cake.

This bread has more sugar than I would ordinarily use, but I was making it for company so I made it sweeter than I would prefer. You could easily reduce the sugar by 1/4-1/2 cup.

Makes 2 loaves

Topping (this makes slightly more than you will likely end up using):

1/2 cup raw cashews, ground into a fine powder

a dash of salt

1/4 cup white sugar

Bread:

1 1/2 cusp sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups cranberries, roughly chopped

1 cup soymilk

1 cup water (or another cup soymilk)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup oil

3 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 2 loaf pans well; line with parchment or wax paper if you have it (the bread is so moist that it is a little tricky to get out of the pans. You could also make a coffee cake in a 9 x 13.

Mix sugar, salt, vanilla, oil, and soymilk/water well. Add dry ingredients and mix lightly until combined; stir/fold in the cranberries.

Grind cashews into a fine flour (I used the Magic Bullet) and mix topping ingredients together.

Pour batter into pans and sprinke cashew mix on top.

Bake until a toothpick comes out mostly clean, about 45 minutes.

ENJOY!

Friday Delights and Vegan Cinnamon-Apple-Oat Pancakes

Ah, Friday – it’s cliche but true – Friday is a wonderful thing, particularly at the end of a hard week. This Friday was a particularly welcome one for me,¬†for whatever reason.¬†The girls and I have fallen into a delightful Friday routine of a run (with the double stroller), with stops at the library and coffee shop on the way home. Today was a bit different. Since I didn’t have to go to work today, the day started out in a leisurely fashion: pancakes followed by an easy 3-miler. Then, I did something I hate doing. I went shopping (insert applause here, please). I needed a new pair of black pants. I wear mine all the time, for work, concerts, just around, etc. Last week I realized that my black pants were being held together not only by packing tape, but also bobby pins. Not good. So, the girls and my mother-in-law and I all went on a shopping expedition. I normally consider shopping to be about the worst way to spend time¬†(unless its book or grocery shopping, neither of which I mind). However, the specific focus of our trip (black pants black pants gotta get some¬†black pants) and the fact that we were shopping with two young kids (i.e. in-and-out-as-quickly-as-possible) made for a somewhat tolerable trip. I even have a new pair of black pants to show for my troubles, and they are held together by honest-to-goodness thread! Hooray for me.

After our shopping victory, we went to Moe’s and picked up two vegan burritos to bring home for lunch. It was a delicious treat. Our Moe’s always has to cook tofu fresh for me, which means it’s extra-tasty. We rarely, rarely eat out or get take-in. That is partially because we are super-cheap and hate spending money, but it’s also partially because we live in a very non-vegan friendly area, and there’s just not much good food around us. It’s easier and better if we just cook. Every now and then, though, some take-out is a delightful treat.

Then, I made homemade tortillas with refried beans, Trader Joe’s chorizo, and spinach. Delicious. Hearty, filling, and sooooo easy. This also meant that I used my cast iron skillet twice in day, which always makes me happy.

I am working on a recipe for non-chocolate no-bakes. Confession time: I am much more of a vanilla person than a chocolate person. I like chocolate, but usually I can take it or leave it. I much prefer vanilla. I love no-bakes, but I’d really like a find a way to make them without any cocoa powder. Tonight’s experiment wasn’t a complete and total success, but it’s a step in the right direction. I will just have to keep trying until I get it right, eh? ūüėČ

I made these cinnamon-apple-oatmeal pancakes the other day. They were so good! This recipe makes a lot: enough to feed four, plus some extras for the dogs (ahem) or the freezer.

1 cup white flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup oatmeal

2 teaspoons baking powder

salt, to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon ground flax seed

1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon

2 cups water/soymilk or a combination thereof (I usually use 1 cup of water and 1 cup of soymilk)

3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

a splash of vanilla

1 tablespoon oil

Combine dry ingredients and mix. Add all wet ingredients at once and stir briefly and gently. Heat up your cast iron skillet; while it is heating, let the batter sit for about 5 minutes. Cook as you would any pancakes….pour batter by about 1/4 cup, wait ’til bubbly, flip, cook, eat. Flip only once, remember?

Serve with Earth Balance and maple syrup, or just eat plain (my favorite!).

Slackness, Show Tunes, and Cinnamon-Roll bread

Yikes. It’s been a few days, eh? I really meant to be better about this blogging thing. The whole intent was for me to write down recipes so that I can replicate stuff we like, with a secondary intent of showing folks how easy veganism can be (i.e. you don’t need to buy all those fancy, pricey faux-meat and fauz-dairy products, nor do you have to have all sorts of wierd and unusual ingredients to make vegan food). So really, I should be blogging every day or every other day to accomplish these goals. Oh well. It’s been a rough week, mentally, for me, but things are picking up. In addition to my running goal, I’m going to challenge myself to blog 5 out of 7 days this coming week, starting Monday.

Business first: Running. Eh, almost non-existent….I haven’t done more than a few 3-mile runs this week. Today I ran pushing the girls in the stroller, which always seems like it should count extra. I will run long tomorrow, but not likely long enough to meet the 25-mile goal. Oh well. Life happens. This week, I’m going to shoot for 4 out of 5 week days, at least two of those being 4 or more miles, and then one at-least-10 miler on the weekend. Oh, and weights and crunches, again. We’ll see.

Today I had the opportunity to spend most of the day playing music. It is a nice break from my normal life of lawyer-professor-mommy. I sub in with a sort-of-local brass quintet; they call me when they need me. They had a wedding gig this weekend and needed an¬†extra horn player. It was a lovely ceremony at a woman’s house; we then played the reception in her backyard, right on the lake. We did not play any truly extraordinary music, or even any music that was challenging to the listener at all, because this was not an arts-type venue; we were there for entertainment. It was kind of nice to just let my mind go and just play, without having to engage in huge amounts of intense thought and concentration. The guys I play with are all good musicians, at least in terms of technique, so we end up sight-reading half the music we play at such gigs. That always keeps me on my toes; it keeps my mind awake, and lets me think only about the notes on the page as they go by. It’s a different sort of playing than one does when working up a big, serious work. One of the nice things about the reception today was the reaction we got from some little old ladies (they really were) who were sitting near us. We played something from some musical, and they just loved it, so then we started playing a bunch of showtunes. At the end of every one the little old ladies hooted and clapped; one in particular kept telling the trumpet nearest to her how much she loved it. It was nice to bring some joy and brightness to someone’s life, unexpectedly. I usually get bogged down in heavy, intellectually-and emotionally-challenging music; I love it, and it provides a certain service for my mind and soul, but every now and then it’s nice to see (and participate in) the fun side of music. We did that today, and it was truly enjoyable.

Onto a recipe…..I made this the other day. We’ve been eating it for breakfast. I love making bread. It is a very sensory experience, and somehow earthy and natural as well. It is also surprisingly easy. I’ve run into a lot of people who are completely intimidated by the idea of making yeast breads. It is SO easy one you learn the basics. Homemade bread is delicious, and cheaper than what you can buy at the store. I usually just make a standard half-whole wheat, half-white loaf, but when I have the time and mental energy, I get creative and make bread with herbs, or other seasonings, or shape it free-form instead of using a pan; then, when baked at a high heat, it gets nice and crusty.

I digree, however. If you’ve made bread, this is an easy recipe. If you haven’t, this will teach you the basics and give you a nice, cinnamony treat.

1 package active dry yeast, or 1 tablespoon

1 tablespoon white sugar

2 cups warm, not hot, water

salt, 1-2 teaspoons

4-6 cups flour; I use half whole-wheat, half white, but you can use all white (all whole wheat is hard to pull off, at least without a whole lot more sugar and oil)

1 tablespoon oil

for the filling:

2-ish tablespoons Earth Balance, or other vegan margarine

2-4 tablespoons cinnamon sugar

Method:

Put yeast, sugar, and warm water in a big bowl. Let it sit for about 5 minutes, until the yeast proofs – this means the mixture gets all bubbly; little bubbles will rise to the surface, and there will be a tan foamy substance on top of the water. It’s a fun process to watch, if you have time. After the yeast has proofed, add about 3-4 cups of flour, the oil, and the salt. Stir. Add more flour until you can’t stir any more. Scrape the spoon and bowl, flour your hands, and starting kneadin’ that dough! I like to knead it directly in the bowl. Add more flour as you knead, as necessary. Any time the dough starts sticking to you, add more flour. Usually, 5-6 cups will do it, but it depends on the humidity, the kind of flour you use, etc. You want the dough to be soft to the touch, but not sticky. So, when you have nice mass of dough, to test it for doneness, just poke it with your finger; if the dough attaches itself to your finger, keep going!

Once the dough is kneaded, cover the bowl with a towel that has been dampened with warm water. Place it somewhere warm and let it rise. Usually, an¬†hour or so is enough for the first rising; you want it about double the original size. Punch the dough down. If you were making regular bread, this is when you’d put it into bread pans. However, we’re making cinnamon roll bread! so there’s an extra step…

Divide the dough into two. On a floured surface, spread out one of the sections of dough. You don’t need to use a rolling pin; just use your hands/fingers to smush the dough into a rectangle that is about 6 inches by about 12 inches, approximately. Smear the dough with 1 tablespoon Earth Balance and sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar. Roll, starting at one of the 6-inch sides. Gentle pinch the ends together. ¬†Put the rolled dough into a greased loaf pan. Gently pinch the end of the roll. You don’t need to completely attach it, though. Do the same with the second piece of dough. Let the dough sit, covered with the wet towel, for about 1/2 hours to rise again. Bake at 350 for about 20-30 minutes, or until golden on the top.

A Northern-Elitist-Snob Rant and Indian-spiced Tofu Scramble

Today’s run:¬† a mundane 3-miles, final movement of Mahler 7. Eh.

It’s been sort of a rough week. My job as it now exists is on shaky grounds, simply because we are losing one of the gov’t contracts that I work on. My firm is keeping me on but I am worried that there will not be enough work for me to do. This might end up being a blessing in disguise, as I have been wanting to move to 100% criminal defense work for a while now, and I have also been looking for a job closer to home (I drive a really, really long way to get to work. I have a very fuel efficient car, and my firm is very flexible with me, so it’s not all bad, but it’s still a really, really long drive). I’ve put in a few calls to some firms closer to home who might be looking for a part-time defense attorney. We’ll see what happens.

Then, there’s the whole general-discontent-with-life funk that visits me every few months. Although I try really hard not to actively complain about living in the south, and try to make the most of it, I really would rather be back up north. Day to day, my life is pretty okay here. However, I just don’t want to live here long-term. I think it’s really more of a rural-urban thing than a north-south thing; I might feel less downtrodden and discouraged if I lived in¬†a southern city as opposed to the country. Regardless, it seems that we are here for at least the time being. We have been trying to move back up north, but it’s not something we can do without jobs, and jobs are pretty darn hard to come by these days.

At times like these I wish I had a better attitude about living in the south. At times I’m pretty disparaging about southerners. There are some very nice things about southern culture – people ARE friendly, and¬†they are family-oriented – but it’s not the culture in which I grew up, so it’s hard to see those good things as being ‘valuable’ enough to me to outweigh what I see as the negatives of the south. We do not live in an area that seems to value intellectual challenge/rigor/curiousity, or artistic/cultural endeavors, or invites the critical examination of viewpoints other than one’s own. It is just a very closed-in, limited area. Many of the people here have never – NEVER – travelled outside of the county, let alone the state. That has been a hard adjustment for me. It’s hard to find friends here, because I don’t have much in common with most of the people I run into. Yes, I could probably learn some lessons in how to be more laid-back and go-with-the-flow from the people I meet, but again, it’s just too hard for me to aspire to that, because it’s just not what I’m used to. One thing I’m scared of is how accustomed I’m becoming to things/statements/attitudes that should shock and appall me. I’m worried that although I am able to ‘know better’ and be discerning about such things, my girls will grow up amongst such attitudes and will have a harder time seeing them as something not to be desired. I don’t want to be the stereotypical northern elitist snob, but it is just HARD living somewhere that you just don’t really feel comfortable in. I know, I have it so much better than so many other people, and I really should not complain. That’s why, as I stated in the beginning of this, I try hard NOT to complain. Every few months, though, I get in this dire “we’re stuck here for the rest of our lives” rut, and get all sad about not being in the north (or at least in an urban area…). I admit that this definitely became a lot harder once we had kids. Like I said, I can ignore/filter out/respond constructively and appropriately to the racist/homophobic/religious/anti-intellect/generally judgmental comments I hear, but I truly fear for my children. They will either become complacent, or will be picked on as the obnoxious, outspoken, hippie-commie-wierdo-kids. Sigh. (And yes, I have been called all of those things and more.) All I can do for now is hope and hope that we will someday soon be able to find our way back up north.

On to less depressing and more uplifting things…..I have some really exciting bread in the oven – cinnamon-roll bread! I am totally thrilled about it. I will blog about it tomorrow. I meant to take pictures of it before putting it in the oven but I can’t find our camera (I am choosing to blame the kids for this, rather than my poor house-keeping skills ūüôā )

I made this tofu scramble the other night for dinner. It’s good for breakfast or dinner, actually. I know every vegan cook on the planet makes tofu scramble, so there’s really nothing novel here, but it’s a decent recipe.

1 tablespoon oil (I never actually measure it; I just pour it in the cast iron skillet.)

1/2 onion, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, or 1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 zucchini, finely chopped

1 pound fresh firm tofu, water squeezed out and crumbled

salt to taste

Saute the onion in the oil. When it is soft, add the spices and cook for a few minutes. Add the zucchini and cook until it is lightly browned. Add the crumbled tofu and cook until warmed through.

You can add spinach instead of zucchini; you can add garlic, nutritional yeast, whatever you like. It is a very basic and forgiving recipe.

I DID take pictures, but again, the lost camera….sigh.

Vegan Oat-Date Scones

I have many fond childhood memories of scones. Yes, it’s a strange thing to have childhood memories of, perhaps, but I guess I’ve just always loved good food.

We took several family trips to Ireland when I was little, the first of which was when I was about 9. I had a scone for the first time on that trip and fell in love. Irish scones are rich, not sweet, a little crumbly,¬†and a little flaky, and are served with that thick, buttery-but-not-butter substance – at the time, I didn’t know what it was, but I think it was probably clotted cream. Regardless, it was delicious and beautifully complemented the crumbliness of the scone.

When we returned home from that trip, my siblings and I made many attempts at replicating the Irish scones (my mom believed all of us needed to learn how to cook, and she started us early). We had an old cookbook published by Quaker Oats (it was probably something my mom got for free after buying so many canisters of oatmeal) that had a fabulous scone recipe. It was as close to the Irish scones as I had found as a child.¬† It was rich with butter (probably margarine, as my mom usually didn’t allow us to have butter unless guests were over), crumbly and substantial from the oats, and had a tender crumb to it. We baked the scones in a cake pan and they were simply glorious to eat. They were definitely non-vegan, though, as I distinctly recall that the recipe used an egg.

Another fond scone memory is the vegan date-oat scones that the Whole Foods in Cambridge, MA makes. They are sweeter than I usually like for a scone, but the richness of the oats and the slight orange flavor makes the scones absolutely divine. I always make sure to walk or take the T to that Whole Foods just to get a few of the scones.

This morning, I tried to remember¬†the recipe from the Quaker Oats cookbook¬†and couldn’t; I recalled that it had oats, raisins,¬†cream of tartar (I’m not sure what the function of this is, but I had some so I used it here); but I couldn’t remember much else. It was too earliy this morning for me to call my mom and ask for the recipe, so I just had to improvise. I think these turned out really well. I will definitely work on the this recipe and perhaps try to reduce the fat a little bit, but I’d also make them again as-is ¬†in a heartbeat.

This recipe makes a lot – 16 BIG scones. I hate having the oven on for just one meal’s worth of something, so I made enough to freeze. You could easily halve the recipe.

1 cup white flour

3 cups whole wheat flour (you could use more white – in fact, they’d probably be better and more authentic with all white flour. I ran out of white so I had to use whole wheat.)

4 cups oatmeal

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 cup of vegan margarine

a dash vanilla, optional

1 1/4 cup soy milk, plus a little more if needed

1 cup chopped dates (I used 1/2 cup and only put the dates in one of the pans, leaving the other scones as plain oatmeal)

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease 2 round cake pans. If you don’t have cake pans, lightly grease two cookie sheets.

Combine all dry ingredients. Using a pastry cutter, cut in the margarine until it is thoroughly mixed. Add the vanilla and soy milk and stir until all the dry mixture is incorporated. You might need a touch more soy milk.

If using dates, stir them in.

Put half the dough in each cake pan, or drop by about 1/4 cupfuls onto cookie sheets. If using cake pans, score the scones into 8 triangles.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until very lightly brown. Don’t overcook; they get dry easily.

Serve as-is, or with a little Earth Balance and/or marmalade. Enjoy with some tea, of course!

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.

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).

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.

The PERFECT Pumpkin Pancakes (Vegan)

Oh. My. GOSH. This is the best recipe I’ve come up with in a loooong time. I love pancakes, and I love pumpkin, but all my attempts to combine the two have resulted in a gummy, dense, rubbery, unpleasant-to-eat¬†mess. This recipe solves all the problems of gooey, gummy, rubbery,¬†flat fruit-based pancakes. I think the problem with most fruit-based pancake recipes (pumpkin, apple sauce) is that they use too much fruit. Here, I really cut down on the pumpkin, but added plenty of spices to help the pumpkin flavor come through. I thought they were really tasty, but I’m seriously biased, so I checked with my husband, and he thought they were fabulous – suitably pumpkin-y, spicey, yet thick, fluffy, and not gummy. Basically, these are everything a pancake should be – thick, fluffy, light, flavorful¬†– with the added bonus of pumpkin.

Look how thick these puppies are!

I’ve learned a lot about making pancakes from the Candle Cafe cookbook and Isa’s cookbooks/blog. Pancakes are easy and quick, but to get them right takes some care. I’m not a fan of the thin, rubbery pancakes that sometimes result from other vegan recipes. These are SO THICK and fluffy and delicately flavored.

They did take some extra time to make, but that might be attributed to the fact that I was just moving slower than usual this morning.¬†The one-year-old¬†got up early, so she and I went downstairs to piddle in the kitchen. She’s gotten up early the past few days; it’s actually really nice to have time with just her. It also gave me the time to make these without the distractions of her 3-year old sister. The one-year-old is pretty easy-going and entertained herself by going through our cabinets while I cooked.

I did use some tips from Isa; for example, I never used to let my pancake batter sit and rest while heating up the skiddle before. She suggests doing so, and I think it really works.  If you are looking for the perfect vegan non-pumpkin recipe, I suggest you use her recipe found here: http://www.theppk.com/2011/12/puffy-pillow-pancakes/

All right, on to the recipe.

The wet:

1/4 cup canned pumpkin

2 tablespoons oil

1 tablespoon ground flaxseed

a dash of vanilla

1 tablespoon brown sugar (I like my pancakes not-sweet; if you like yours sweet, add some more sugar)

2 cups soy milk or a mixture of soy milk and water (I used one cup of each)

1 teaspoon white vinegar

Mix the wet ingredients together with a whisk. Let it sit while you get the dry ingredients ready.

The dry:

1 cup white flour

1 cup whole wheat flour (or another cup white flour)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1 generous teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon baking powder

Mix together all the dry ingredients. Add the wet to the dry and stire BRIEFLY and GENTLY, just until mixed.

Heat up your cast-iron skiddle and add a touch of oil.

Let the skiddle heat for 5-10 minutes while the batter sits.

Using a scoop or measuring cup, pour about 1/4 cup of batter per pancake onto the griddle. You can smooth it out a little if you want, but I found that these pancakes spread just fine on their own and were the absolute perfect thickness.

When the pancakes are bubbly, flip and cook on the other side for a minute or two. Do not flip more than once; that will make your pancakes tough and chewy instead of thick and fluffy. Add a little oil to the pan every few batches, or as needed.

Time to flip

Serve with Earth Balance and some maple syrup. YUM.

Today is grey and dreary so I couldn't get fabulous pictures, but look at how fluffy these are. YUM.

Seriously, these are the best things I’ve made in quite some time. I love pumpkin; I stockpile it in the fall to the point where my husband mocks me. He once counted the cans of pumpkin we had – I think it was in the double digits.¬†Every time he went to the store in the fall, I’d yell at¬†him as he was leaving “don’t forget to get some pumpkin!!”, because, apparently, in my mind,¬†we¬†as a society are always on the¬†cusp of¬†a worldwide pumpkin shortage, and I am a vegan who does NOT want to be left with pumpkin-free cupboards. Suffice it to say, we can actually get pumpkin year-round, most of the time, but I always seem to forget this every fall. ¬†So we have lots of pumpkin, to my delight. These are a perfect way to use pumpkin. I cannot get over how thick and fluffy and light these were. Absolute pancake-pumpkin PERFECTION. I’m telling you, they really are. Go make some!