Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

Tradition of course calls for pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, but since my mom is baking an apple pie for the holiday (at my request!), I decided to do something a little different with pumpkin. I made a batch of Gluten-free Vegan Chocolate Chip Blondies (with pumpkin puree).

As if the original recipe wasn't delicious enough, the added hint of pumpkin and spice put it over the top. This is one of those "relatively healthy" desserts that tastes decadent, yet has some health benefits (i.e. from the pumpkin, and from the apple sauce which replaces some of the oil). And really, you'd never know.

They're really easy to make, though you must be sure to have some parchment paper on hand to line the bottom of your 9 x 13 pan. If you're looking for a dessert idea, there's still time to whip up a batch of these for tomorrow's feast!

Enjoy! Happy Thanksgiving!!

Gluten-free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars
1 cup white rice flour
3/4 cup Gluten-free flour
1/4 cup corn starch
1/8 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup Earth Balance margarine
1 Tbl coconut oil
1 1/4 cup Sucanat
4 oz. apple sauce + 1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp vanilla
2-3 Tbl soy milk
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips

Prehat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9 x 13 pan with oil, then line with parchment paper. In a large bowl, stir together dry ingredients. [NOTE: Substitute 2 cups of regular white flour for the rice flour, GF flour, and cornstarch and omit xanthan gum if you don't need this recipe to be gluten-free.] In a food processor, puree Earth Balance, coconut oil, Sucanat, applesauce & corn starch mixture, pumpkin puree and vanilla until creamy. Add to dry ingredients and stir until batter is smooth. You may need to add a few tablespoons of soy milk if it is too dry. Gently fold in chocolate chips, then spread batter evenly in baking pan. Bake 20-30 minutes or until firm to the touch and lightly golden on the sides. Top with confectioner's sugar.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Vegan Wedding

I had a busy Friday preparing dinner for a vegan wedding at the lovely High Meadow Farm bed & breakfast in Wallingford. The 18th century home is set atop a hill with breathtaking meadow views of dairy farms and a vineyard. It was an oasis from another time, another place.

In the rustic kitchen, there was an abundance of natural light from well-placed windows which made cutting veggies a snap. And I've never enjoyed washing dishes more, since the sink was underneath a window overlooking a lake on their property.

It was also a pleasure to cook on their huge commercial gas stove (oh, how I miss my gas stove...).

The dining room was perfectly set with fine china, Tiffany silver and various antique linens. Guests dined by candlelight in this cozy dining room.

The meal began with two of my favorite appetizers: Vegan Caviar on Crostini and Pistachio Crusted Cream Cheese Ball (also vegan) with assorted organic crackers.

Here's a closeup of the Vegan Caviar:

The next course was a Mock Caesar Salad with Pear, Grape Tomato and Avocado.

And the entree was a creamy Fettuccine Alfredo with Snow Peas, Sundried Tomatoes and Fresh Thyme.

Such a lovely evening. I wish the wedding couple a lifetime of joy and adventure together!

Georgie's Diner

I had a great time Thursday sharing a couple vegan recipes at the newly renovated and reopened Georgie's Diner in West Haven. The kitchen staff is friendly, knowledgeable and always willing to do what it takes to make vegans happy!

For the next month or so, diners will find two new vegan offerings on the Specials Menu. For those who love comfort food, the Tempeh Stroganoff with Eggless Linguini and Broccoli is sure to please. I love eating this in the fall, particularly on cold, rainy days.

Tempeh Stroganoff

The second vegan item - just in time for Thanksgiving - is the Cornmeal Crusted Tofu with Mushroom Gravy, Cider Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Stringbean Amandine. I think I'll be enjoying this for my own Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Tofu

These are just two of the many vegan offerings available at the diner. You can also indulge in Tempeh Reuben, Portobello Polenta and their fabulous Mediterrannean Platter. They even have a dedicated vegan fryer for making unadulterated vegan French fries. Oh yeah, and then there's their famous Chocolate Drift cake for dessert.... mmm...

The warm glow of Georgie's Diner

Mark your calendars: I'll be serving up some treats again January 15. You're all welcome to stop in for a free sample. In the mean time, visit Georgie's for lunch or dinner and tell Nick you heard about them here.

Cooking up some vegan fare

Georgie's fabulous kitchen crew

Two satisfied customers

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Thanksgiving Gameplan

For a few years in a row, I was happy to host a Gentle Thanksgiving party at my house. While everyone else was devouring turkey, my animal-friendly friends and I savored cornmeal crusted tofu cutlets with mushroom gravy, garlic mashed potatoes, acorn squash with pecan praline, winter vegetable bisque... and a delectable array of seasonal treats.

If you're inspired to host one of your own (or just want to come up with one darn good recipe to help you survive the day), I hope this post will help. Below are a few websites that offer creative
ideas for the holidays. Why not let them be your inspiration for starting new compassionate holiday traditions of your own?

A Feast by Robin Robertson - I always return to her book, Vegan Planet, for ideas. It never ceases to inspire me, as this Thanksgiving Menu surely will for you.

Celebrate a Vegan Thanksgiving - is a great source for recipes, nutrition
information, environmental issues and tons of pretty pictures. Great ideas for the

A Bountiful Vegan Thanksgiving - Lovely website by Nava Atlas with a special
Thanksgiving Themed menu that you can browse for ideas or order as an e-book.

Gentle Thanksgiving - An entire website devoted to just that. Pretty cool!

Thanksgiving O'Rama - Here's a great Thanksgiving site from the people who publish VegNews magazine.

How to Host a Vegan Thanksgiving - It may take a little planning, but how cool would this be? You're in control! SO cool!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Quick One

I had about 15 minutes to throw together lunch yesterday and after my initial scan of the fridge, I was left feeling uninspired. The only item that drew my attention was a lonely little potato in the vegetable bin. It was too small to bake and not big enough to stretch into mashed potatoes, and I didn't have any tofu to toss into a scramble. What I came up with was a modified potato hash.

I diced the potato small and tossed it into a pot of boiling water so it would cook quickly. Meanwhile, I sauteed a diced onion and garlic in Earth Balance, then seasoned with chili powder when they were transluscent. For a little color, I added a carrot cut in quarter moons, then stirred in some chopped kale until it wilted. Since I knew this alone would not sustain me, I opened up a can of pinto beans, which turned out to be the perfect color and texture to complement the other ingredients. The boiled potato went in last, along with some sea salt and pepper and another teaspoon of Earth Balance. The end result was smashing!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Heaven in a Bowl

I discovered a delicious use for leftover rice this morning: Autumn rice pudding. Yeah, yeah, I know, rice pudding is rice pudding, so how is this any different? Well, the secret here is in the fixings. Macintosh apple, mixed nuts, raisins, shredded coconut and (here's what made it so heavenly...) a teaspoon of unrefined coconut oil. Heat all that together with the rice, some rice milk, agave syrup, vanilla and a pinch of salt and you have Heaven in a Bowl.

I think I'm gonna have to go out of my way to make this even with fresh rice. I used brown basmati, but I bet jasmine rice would put it over the top.

Must eat before it gets cold...