November 2009

I’m heading back to Atlanta to spend time with friends and family for Thanksgiving, so no new recipes, but if you’re looking for last minute suggestions, check out my Thanksgiving Tutorials for everything from gluten-free gravy and stuffing to chocolate bourbon pecan pie. Happy Thanksgiving everyone and I’ll be back next week!

Back to the biscuits, ya’ll.

You know, I do think that “biscuits” substitutes well for “basics”–after all, what’s more basic (and essential) than a biscuit? While you might get tired of my odes to the floury, buttery goodness otherwise known as a biscuit, they’re going to be a reoccurring guest here at Cupcake Punk for the coming months.

Today’s recipe features biscuits and chili–a combination made in heaven. While chili and cornbread might be the typical fare, biscuits are better for sopping up the chili liquid in the bowl and they’re easy to make in fresh batches (only takes 15 minutes to make and bake them). The chili is a basic bean-based chili to which I added roasted butternut squash chunks, some “beef” squares (those dried TVP like squares that you can get in the bulk section of your local food co-op), and lots of chipotle goodness. Oh, and a beer. Chili needs beer in it.

If you’re gluten-free, of course, you can take out the “beef” chunks and use a gluten-free beer or just substitute 12 oz of water for the beer. Other than that, the recipe is completely gluten-free friendly.

The best part, for me at least, is the two bags I have of the chili sitting in my freezer in addition to the couple of servings in my fridge. I love anything that makes a bunch and is easily freezable–it’s how I survive crunch times like the ends of semesters when I don’t have much time to cook.

I hope you all are having a good weekend, and if you’re traveling in the coming days for Thanksgiving, safe travels!

Butternut Two Bean Chili

1 tbsp vegetable oil/olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped/pressed
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
pepper to taste
1 tbsp chipotle chili powder
1 chipotle in adobo, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 canful of water
1 light beer of choice/12 oz more water
2-3 c roasted butternut squash chunks
1 1/2 c cooked navy beans
1 1/2 c cooked kidney beans
1 c dried “beef” chunks (optional)

In a large pot on the stove, heat the oil over medium high. Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic, cook 1 more minute. Add the spices, cook 1 minute until fragrant.

Add the chipotle pepper in adobo, the bell peppers, the diced tomatoes, the water and the beer and raise the heat to high.

Add the butternut squash, beans, and beef chunks (if using them), and bring the pot to a boil.

Lower to a simmer and simmer for 2-3 hours, until thick.

Serve over biscuits, with cornbread, over a baked potato–however you like your chili!

Serves 10.

My second Alternative Thanksgiving talk and demo is tonight at 6 pm at the Roanoke Main Library. I know most of you can’t make it, but in order to feel like you’re there in spirit, I’ll be discussing vegan baking, bread making, and I’ll be making Vegan Gluten-Free Cornbread and Vegan Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie.

As wonderful of an experience as these two talks and demonstrations have been, and as much as I love educatating folks about vegan and gluten-free lifestyles, I’m oh so ready to be back in the kitchen making the dishes that I want to make. For example, in my office I’ve got a copy of Carole Walter’s Great Cookies which I’m dying to dive into. The first three recipes all feature liquor–liquour in cookies, hello, what’s not to love?!

I have been making a few things here and there that aren’t completely Thanksgiving oriented. One was this delicious, seasonal Autumn Apple Buckle. According to this lovely site, a buckle is “a type of cake made in a single layer with berries added to the batter. It is usually made with blueberries. The topping is similar to a streusel, which gives it a buckled or crumpled appearance.” (As opposed to a crumble which lacks the cake layer.) Although my buckle features apples instead of blueberries, it’s still super moist, cakey, sweet, and delicious like any summertime treat.

Autumn Apple Buckle

adapted from Food & Wine

for the crumb topping:
3/4 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon (I used 1 tsp because I like everything super cinnamony)
pinch of salt
5 tbsp vegan margarine
1/2 c pecans

for the batter:
1 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground ginger
pinch salt
6 tbsp vegan margarine, softened
1/4 c sugar
1/8 c agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 c soy yogurt
1/4 c soy milk (or any nondairy milk)
1 lb apples–peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice (preferably Granny Smith, although I used Rome)

Preheat the oven to 350°. Oil an 8 inch cast iron skillet or an 8 inch cake pan.

For the crumb topping: In a food processor, pulse the flour with the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add the vegan margarine and process until the mixture resembles moist sand. Add the pecans and pulse until just chopped.

For the batter: In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder, ginger and salt.

In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer (or using a stand mixer), beat the vegan margarine until creamy. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the agave. Add the vanilla and soy yogurt and beat until smooth. Add the dry ingredients in 2 batches, alternating with the soy milk and beat at low speed until smooth. Fold in the apples.

To assemble: Scrape the batter into the prepared skillet or pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle with the crumb topping. Bake the buckle in the center of the oven for 1 hour, or until the topping is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for at least 1 hour before serving.

I could really be the poster girl for Roanoke–I love this place that much. Every time I go to a potluck or a party or a gathering of some sorts (and especially if I’ve had a glass of wine or two), I inevitably start gushing about how amazing the city is, how wonderful and friendly all the people are, and how many community-oriented food and bicycle opportunities there are here. The old-timers, folks who were born here or have lived here for far too long without leaving and then coming back to see how great it is (see, I’m biased…), mostly roll their eyes at me and say, just live here awhile, you might not feel the same way. I doubt it.

The reason why I doubt it is evidenced in the photograph above. Not only are the mountains beautiful, the produce fresh, local, organic and delicious, and the bike people stellar, but just up the mountain in Floyd there’s a boot stompin’, banjo pickin’, fiddleicious jamboree every Friday night–and I got to dance with the best beard in the building. I never got his name, but this man was awesome. I noticed him immediately: white, long beard, straw hat with random fish fly looking feathers sticking out from it, overalls, and the happiest smile in the country store. We were standing to the edge of the chairs since none were available and when the second band of the night started up, he stepped on over, grabbed my hand, and said “let’s dance!” There was no saying no. I threw my purse (with my camera in it) at E. and bounce-stepped over to the dance floor. Admitting that I had no idea to dance, he just grinned and said “darlin’ it’s easy, just watch my feet” and then laughed. Well…it wasn’t that easy, in fact, I bumbled around fairly painful looking, I’d assume, but he spun me around, said “alright!” every time I followed his lead, and now I can finally say that I have attempted to clog (Appalachian style). So, thank you kind old man with the awesome beard and awesome hat and thank you E. for grabbing some photos of the entire city-girl-trying-to-clog fiasco of 2009 (It was Friday the 13th…coincidence?)

As for the food, well, my car still hasn’t passed inspection (cracked muffler, apparently), and I’ve no money, so my only option was to come home and make cookies. I am my mother’s daughter. When Baking Bites posted a recipe for Sweet Potato Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, I knew I had to make them. The recipe essentially mirrors the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oatmeal (Crack) Cookies of 2008, so I figured it had to be good. Verdict? Hell yes they’re good! While I made up a tin’s worth for our Classic Horror Film movie night, I definitely saved some dough and have been baking up two or three a day for the past few days. And with sweet potato in them, they’re healthy, right?

Sweet Potato Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Pecan Cookies

adapted from Baking Bites

1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/3 c Earth Balance, at room temperature
1/4 c white sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1/4 c soy yogurt
1/4 cup sweet potato puree (see below for homemade method)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c oats
5 oz semi-sweet baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans

To make the sweet potato puree, peel and chop 1 medium-sized sweet potato into 1/2″ dice. Bring a pot of water to a boil on the stove. Add the sweet potato to the water and boil for 7-10 minutes until soft when poked with a fork. Remove from heat, drain water, and mash with the fork.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand held mixer, cream the sugars and Earth Balance until fluffy. Add the soy yogurt sweet potato puree, and vanilla, mix to combine.

Add the spices, salt, baking powder, and baking soda and mix to combine.

Slowly pour in the flour and mix until a dough forms.

Add the oats, chocolate pieces, and pecans and mix just long enough to combine.

Drop tablespoonfuls of the dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly with the palm of your hand. Bake for 12-15 min, until cookies are set.

Let cool on sheet for 3 or 4 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely (or, if you’re like me, eat them all in one sitting).

Makes approx. 2 dozen cookies.

It seems like I’ve kicked the sickness & I’m off in a few hours to jerry-rig a solution for my car. Keep your fingers crossed that it passes inspection!

cookery nov 09

Also, next Tuesday is the second installment of Alternative Thanksgiving: Pies & Bread. While most of you can’t be here for the demonstration, you can access the recipes I’ll be discussing and making, as well as other, under the Alternative Thanksgiving tab at the top of the page. Right now I’m working on compiling the pie & bread tutorials, so keep your eyes peeled for chocolate bourbon pecan pie (gluten-free!), pumpkin pie (gluten-free!), gluten-free cornbread, and others!

Since I’m up to my eyeballs in work (school and real world work) and preparing for the demo, I haven’t had much time to cook for myself. Thankfully I have some great staples on hand–oatmeal, bananas, dried cranberries (fruit juice sweetened), maple syrup, and non-dairy milk (So Delicious Coconut Milk–yum!). For a quick & easy breakfast, this one sure is filling and nutritious. Plus it’s colorful, which heaven knows we need during this bleak and chilly rainy days.

The weather seems to be conflicted here lately.  We’ve been swinging from lows in the low 50s and high 40s to highs in the 70s, and it doesn’t look like anything is going to change.  I don’t mind it, but after the freeze we had a few weeks ago, I figured things out to cool down.  Maybe by Thanksgiving?

Speaking of Thanksgiving, don’t forget, if you’re looking for quick and easy vegan and mostly gluten-free recipes, check out my Thanksgiving tutorials! I have a few pie recipes forthcoming–pumpkin (gluten free!) and chocolate bourbon pecan (also gluten-free!)–but already stashed are the side and main dish recipes. If you have any suggestions for pies or bread, let me know–I’m always on the lookout for tried and true dishes to veganize.

Well, today’s been one of those days–I’ve been a bit under the weather lately, drinking lots of green tea, taking echinacea, eating whole veggies and grains, drinking water, etc, and while I haven’t gotten full-on sick, I’m a bit terrified of it turning against me. I’m not sure what brought it on, but I’d like to keep it at bay. Then I got some bad car news this morning–someone tell me how a car can pass a 4 point emissions inspection in Georgia and then not pass the simple, non-emissions inspection in Virginia???–, and, well, the rain just made me throw up my hands and sit on the couch with the cats for a bit. The cats, by the way, were more than happy with that arrangement. With a paper looming over my head though, I knew I needed to get to work. So, naturally, I caramelized onions. I mean, what else is there to do when you’re having a crappy day?

The caramelized onions were added to some tatsoi mustard greens, some more hen of the woods mushrooms were pan roasted with garlic, salt, and pepper, and then, in the oven, I roasted some delicata squash wedges with thyme, sage, and paprika. While the dish could have used a nice bed of polenta, I was out of soy milk (and no money to buy anything for the next month, apparently, since I have to “fix” the car to standards), and the three components stood fabulously on their own. This was my first time playing with delicata and I’m super happy with the results. The thyme, sage, and paprika added a nice savory and slightly spicy element, which the semi-sweet squash complimented well. One squash would feed two people in this manner, so keep that in mind when meal planning. For a family of four, I’d recommend roasting up at least three squashes to be on the safe side.  Oh, and the best part is, you don’t need to peel the skin off of the squash!  It’s so delicate (maybe hence the name “delicata”) that it’s pleasant to eat on the squash.  The quicker and easier the better, in my book.

Roasted Delicata Squash

1 delicata squash
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp salt
fresh pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cut the squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Cut the halves in half widthwise, and then cut into 2 or 3 wedges per half.

Place the wedges on a baking tray or in a casserole dish and coat with olive oil. Sprinkle the salt, thyme, sage, paprika, and pepper on top.

Roast for 30-45 minutes, or until tender with a fork.

November, among other things, signals the start of casserole and potpie season. This is a season I love–there’s nothing like making up one large casserole on a Sunday or Monday night and then eating it all week. Sure, it gets a little old by the end of the week, but for my rather busy lifestyle, it’s a blessing. Plus my casseroles generally involve biscuits, a key component that makes the casserole all the better.  I mean, think about it, where would civilization be without biscuits?  Nowhere, that’s the answer.  To make this dish gluten-free, of course, all you need to do is sub your favorite gluten-free biscuit recipe for the one below.  Jessy has a great looking one that I’ve yet to try, but I bet it’d go fabulously with the casserole!

My kickoff casserole for this season is a sweet potato and eggplant casserole. There are other vegetables involved–broccoli, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes–but for me, the highlights were the sweet potatoes and eggplant. I topped it with Italian herb biscuits and for a one pot dish (hooray for dutch ovens) I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Happy weekend everyone! Go out an enjoy the nice weather if you’ve got it or stay bundled up inside with a cup of hot cider if it’s chilly where you are!

Sweet Potato & Eggplant Casserole

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tsp smokey hot paprika
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 c vegetable stock
1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 large potato, chopped into equal sized pieces
1 large carrot, chopped into equal sized pieces
2 medium sweet potatoes, chopped into equal sized pieces
1 medium large eggplant, chopped into equal sized pieces
1 small head of broccoli, chopped into florets
1/4 c nutritional yeast
1/4 c soy yogurt

1 c all-purpose flour
1 c whole wheat flour
5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 tsp parsley flakes
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp sage
5 tbsp Earth Balance
2/3 c soy milk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or a dutch oven. Saute the onion over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic, paprikas, cumin, and salt and cook for 1 more minute until fragrant.

Add the potato, carrot, tomato, and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the sweet potato, eggplant, and zucchini and simmer for an additional 15 minutes, until tender.

Meanwhile, combine the flours, baking powder, herbs and salt in a bowl. Add the Earth Balance in tablespoon chunks and cut with a pastry blender or with a fork until the butter is combined with the flour and crumbly. Add the soy milk and mix until the dough just comes together. Divide into 6-8 biscuits.

Stir the nutritional yeast and soy yogurt into the vegetables. Transfer the mixture to a casserole dish (skip this step if using a dutch oven), and top with the biscuits. Bake for 20 minutes, until the biscuits are golden brown and cooked through.

The thing that I love, and now miss, the most about the farmers market is that I never know what I’ll come home with. Earlier in the summer I played around with different kinds of eggplants–multi colored thai eggplants, white ruffle eggplants, “regular” eggplants, you name it–but, for the past few weeks, it’s been greens. The other week I scored the largest chinese cabbage I’ve ever seen in my life–the thing must have weighed three pounds–and it cost only $3. There wasn’t any way that I could pass up on a giant Chinese cabbage, even though I had no idea what to do with it, so I carted it home and then started looking around cookbooks and the internet to see what other folks have done with it.

This Chinese cabbage wasn’t a Napa Cabbage, it was a leafy, green thing, kind of like mustard or turnip greens. So when I saw this recipe from the LA Times for Mixed Greens Soup, I figured, why not, I have more than enough green leaves to go in it so why not see how it tastes? I wanted a huge batch of hearty soup, so a potato based, green soup sounded perfect. The end result was delicious–potatoey and green and hearty–and perfect with a slice of fresh baked bread (or three slices…I tend to overdo it with the bread, it’s just so good). The flavor of the greens isn’t intense at all, in fact, the potato seemed to come through more than the greens, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing because it’s all very balanced. The soup, of course, can be made like the original recipe with various different kinds of greens. And the best part was, I still had half of the leaves left over to blanch and freeze!

Chinese Cabbage Soup

adapted from the LA Times

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large carrot, chopped
2 large leeks, chopped, white part only
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 c vegetable broth
1 medium potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
12 c Chinese cabbage, chopped
1/2 c soy milk
1/4 c nutritional yeast
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a medium to large stock pot over medium heat and cook the carrots and leeks until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté an additional minute until fragrant but not browned.

Add the vegetable broth, potato cubes and the chopped greens; stir.

Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover partially and simmer 1 hour. Remove from heat and purée in a food processor until smooth.

Return the soup to the heat and simmer, uncovered, until it thickens slightly, about 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the soy milk and nutritional yeast, and simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper. Serve with bread.

I don’t know about you all, but I am stoked to be in November. My plans for the month include hunkering down and getting work done, baking up a storm up pies and bread (gluten free especially!) for the next Alternative Thanksgiving talk (November 17!), and embracing the change from autumn to winter here in the gorgeous mountains of southwestern Virginia. I’ve already accomplished more in the first 2 days of the month than I think I did for the last two weeks of October, so that’s exciting, and, last night, I went on this spectacular night hike up to Dragon’s Tooth. Hiking during a full moon was surreal–we never needed to use our head lamps–and the wind breaking over the jagged teeth-like rocks at the top and the stars and the cows mooing in the valley–it was all just amazing. I think I might have to start a monthly night hike on the full moon from now on!

But of course, Halloween was on Saturday, and three carved pumpkins make a lot of pumpkin seeds. I don’t know if there’s some trick for cleaning off the seeds from the pumpkin gunk, but I think it took almost an hour for me to separate the seeds from the other stuff. Given that I’ve never actually managed to roast pumpkin seeds without burning them, I was terrified that all my work would be in vain, but, thankfully, they turned out great! I made three kinds–cinnamon spice, hot curried, and Old Bay–and while all of them have their merits, I think the cinnamon spice ones were my favorite. If you have some seeds lying around still, I’d recommend roasting ’em up! They’re perfect for snacking, for topping salads with, and for throwing on top of soups and pretty much any other entree.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds x3

To prep the seeds:
Separate the seeds from the pumpkin gunk.

Bring a pot of water to a boil, add 1/2 tsp of salt per 1 1/2 c of pumpkin seeds.

Boil the seeds for 10 minutes, drain, set aside.

For the Cinnamon Spice:
1 1/2 c pumpkin seeds, cleaned and boiled
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp chipotle chili powder
2 tbsp raw sugar
1 tsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a bowl, toss together the seeds with the spices, sugar, and oil. Spread on a baking sheet in an even layer. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until browned but not burned.

For the Hot Curried Pumpkin Seeds:
1 1/2 c pumpkin seeds, cleaned and boiled
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp hot curry powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp corriander
1 tsp salt
1 tsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a bowl, toss together the seeds with the spices, salt, and oil. Spread on a baking sheet in an even layer. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until browned but not burned.

For the Old Bay Pumpkin Seeds:
1 1/2 c pumpkin seeds, cleaned and boiled
1 1/2 tbsp Old Bay spice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 tsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a bowl, toss together the seeds with the Old Bay, salt, pepper, and oil. Spread on a baking sheet in an even layer. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until browned but not burned.