Vegan Pumpkin Spice Pumpkin Cupcakes

I know we all love to make fun of those who go a little crazy when pumpkin spice season rolls around, but the truth is these people are just taking advantage of an abundance of a spice blend that really should be available all year long. I mean, ask yourself, what is so wrong with any of these:

Cinnamon
GInger
Cloves
Allspice
Nutmeg

I can’t think of one reason to hate on these spices, especially when you have every type of squash and pumpkin at your disposal! It’s like being mad that your market has broccoli, cauliflower and romesco! Unfathomable, that’s what it is.

All I’m saying is, embrace the season and not just because we are all living in the Upside Down known as 2020, just enjoy because it’s tasty, easy to make and readily available.

All you have to do is take your favorite vegan pumpkin cupcake recipe, or a vegan cake recipe, or any other vegan autumn recipe and add the pumpkin spice blend to the dry ingredients. It really is just that simple.

And if you’re feeling really sauce, like I apparently was, add a pumpkin spice glaze by adding the same blend to powdered sugar along with almond milk, or any other nut milk, plus pinch of bourbon or brandy. For these vegan cupcakes, I used a splash of Apple Pie Moonshine because it has that extra hint of sweetness and booze that turn these vegan cupcakes into something truly amazing.

Want to make’em?

Here we go:

250g All Purpose Flour
225g Brown Sugar
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
3 and 1/2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice (homemade or store bought)
335g Pumpkin Puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract (I’m in love with this Madagascar vanilla from Dr. Oetker.
60ml Coconut Oil (or other oil, like EVOO)
1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Vegan Egg (I like Arche or Megga Exx, both are German brands if you’re interested)

Mix the dry ingredients together and pour the wet into the dry, stirring until bend but be careful not to overmix or you’ll end up with tough, dense vegan pastries.

Bake at 180C for 20 to 25 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Now you’re done and ready to gobble up your vegan pumpkin spice cupcakes!

If you plan to add a glaze, let the cupcakes cool for 15 to 20 minutes or you’ll end up with a big, gooey mess.

What do you like drink with your vegan cupcakes…beer? Cocktails? Almond milk?

Drop your answers in the comments!

Quick Scallion Pancakes & Spicy Seitan Sausage

Sometimes you just feel like breakfast for dinner but without the zillion calorie meal that’s common for a breakfast at night feast, even a vegan one.

Sometimes I miss having breakfast even though I’ve never been much of a breakfast eater and I don’t eat it at all these days if I’m not hungry, but when those longings hit, they hit big. So I set aside all my thoughts of breakfast being a useless consumption of the worst kind of calories, and I indulge.

Some.

I like to bargain with myself. “You can have pancakes but make it savory instead of sweet.”

I had plans of making a Korean style scallion pancake that I saw on YouTube but time got away from me and I ended up doing a quick reconfig of a regular old fluffy pancake recipe, making it vegan and removing the sugar, adding scallions and enoki mushrooms to the batter.

It turned out pretty well thanks to the addition of soy sauce and ground ginger in the pancake batter.

For the spicy maple vegan sausage, I relied on my old friend seitan. The color isn’t striking but damn, these are just so tasty that they are totally worth the time it takes to make them. Well, that and the fact that the stove does all the work by…simmering. Add whatever you like but I used spicy paprika, adobo chile pepper flakes, scotch bonnet powder and maple syrup as the primary ingredients in my sausage dough.

Then came time for the tofu scramble. Tofu, turmeric, onions and bell peppers in a skillet until crispy and fragrant and your quick and easy vegan breakfast is complete. Feel free to add ketchup, hot sauce or even syrup if that’s your jam.

This vegan breakfast dinner was a good way to splurge on a workout day without going over 600 calories…if you care about that. If not, just know that this is still plenty of food. Plenty.

What’s your go to breakfast at night meals?

The Beyond Burger ~ 3 Nights of Vegan Eats

When it comes to being vegan I am mostly a pretty low-key kind of gal. I can get down with the odd protest or two, but I’m more likely to slide facts you don’t want to hear into everyday conversation in a way that’s guaranteed to make those facts impossible to forget. My friends love that about me, no matter what they tell you.

Why am I telling you this? Just to help you understand my feelings on Beyond Burger.

We found them at a local store called Metro and they only came in a box of ten patties, which meant we needed to be creative in how we used them because freezer space is limited.

We cracked open the box and took out two patties to thaw–at room temperature, not the microwave–and started with your basic, old fashioned hamburger.

Because I had no idea what to expect of the Beyond Burger, I decided to go for super simple lettuce, tomato, mustard and ketchup.

And…it was delicious. It doesn’t taste like meat, which I appreciate, but holy crap it SMELLS like real beef. So much so that I found it a bit unsettling. But what I will tell you, is that it tastes like what a burger should taste like without the tendons and fatty gross-ness common in fast food burgers. My one tip for cooking a regular Beyond Burger? Air out your place while you cook.

Once the regular burger was out of the way, the hubs added a slice of Violife cheese to the second round and he was a fan. I’m still having a tense relationship with vegan cheese so I opted out.

But then we were watching a YouTube video about old brands and there was a flash of people watching TV with TV dinners in front of them and it reminded me of a meal I loved as a child. Salisbury steak. The kind that came in the little aluminum pan and its own gravy. Whip up some mashed potatoes and green beans on the side and I was a happy little kid.

So why not try and recreate the magic in a healthier, vegan, 21st Century kind of way?

Okay so I traded the green beans for peas, but they were frozen peas and came out pretty terrible which only reminded me why I haven’t had peas in ages. Which do you prefer, canned or frozen, when fresh isn’t an option?

I also added a crimini mushroom and onion gravy, with a splash of Oatly to give it that creamy light brown color. It was delicious and much better than the last time I tried to recreate Salisbury steak. So far, the vegan recipe is the tastiest!

Don’t mind the photos, I’m still adjusting to my new phone.

Twelve or thirteen years ago I introduced my husband to another childhood favorite of mine; corned beef hash. We were living in Germany and accidentally stumbled upon the crappy canned stuff that we ate back then and I grabbed up two cans to show him this delicacy from my time in Milwaukee.

So of course when we got our hands on Beyond Burgers, he couldn’t wait to recreate it vegan beef & potato hash. It’s a simple dish of burgers, potatoes and onions, sauteed until crispy. And the thing that makes the Beyond Burger perfect is that it is very greasy (part of its appeal) and that helps everything get that delicious crispy edge that makes dishes like this so addicting.

This was probably my favorite use of the Beyond Burger so far. The edges got all crispy and crunchy and the greasiness was satisfying in a way that I’d forgotten about until I devoured this dish. Add an ice cold beer and you can have your own Lazy Sunday.

Have you tried the Beyond Burger? Drop a link or photo of your favorite Beyond Burger recipe below!

 

When You’re In The Mood For A Vegan English Breakfast

So last week the Hubs and I decided to do another “thing”. A few weeks ago we had a soup themed week where we each cooked a variety of soups throughout the week. Another time it was sandwiches. This past week it was beans.

I know what you’re probably thinking. “Beans, gross.” If that’s what you’re thinking then you are wrong. It was a magical week of delicious food, including the Cajun beans & rice from earlier in the week.

But I will admit that maybe this is a way to cheat the bean thing, but since the English have no qualms about having beans for breakfast it worked in my favor. Cos had been asking for a few weeks now for me to make a vegan breakfast fry up so I set out to exploring different ways to get the sausage component done without wasting an obscene amount of time. I watched a few dozen videos on making vegan sausage when I came up on the Vegan But Lazy channel on YouTube. It was fast and easy, and I am happy to report created a very good sausage-like texture without the gross greasy taste.

The first thing you’ll notice is that this plate looks a little underwhelming compared to most English breakfast plates making the rounds on the internet, and that’s on purpose. I wanted the fry up without the eleven hundred calories that typically come along with it. So I kept it simple with:

Seitan sausage

Tofu & turmeric scramble

Roasted herbed tomatoes

Toast & butter

Beans

We’ll start with the sausage since it does require the most prep time. Get the original recipe hereYou’ll need some vital wheat gluten (seitan), chickpea flour or nutritional yeast, herbs & seasoning, olive oil. That’s it. Mix up the ingredients and form sausage shapes and roll into aluminum foil. Simmer for 45 minutes. I followed the Cajun & Italian recipes to the letter, cut them in half and we each had half of one. They were mad delicious!

They aren’t the prettiest, but neither are the ones made with animal flesh, right? But this was what they looked like fresh from nearly an hour of steaming. I brushed them with oil and put them on a sheet pan with the tomatoes so they could crisp up in the oven.

The rest of the meal is easy peasy. Crush a brick of firm tofu and season as you wish. Get my smoky tofu crumble recipe here or check out his recipe here.

The sausages and the tomatoes will cook at the same time and you can toss the buttered bread into the oven during the last 3 to 5 minutes of cooking, or use a toaster if you have one.

You can’t really have a proper English breakfast–vegan or otherwise–without a proper beer, can you?

I can’t but as you can see, I completely forgot to get a good photo of them, so enjoy what you can see. We shared an oat stout and a Scottish stout, maybe not very English but very delicious.

Spicy White Bean Shakshuka

Once in awhile a recipe will make the rounds on the web and I’ll think to myself, “I can veganize it.” Sometimes it’s just me being confident because I’ve spent a lot of time over the years tweaking recipes and some of it is an insane level of hubris. But if you want to keep your palate satisfied and always guessing, it helps to experiment. Try new spices and blends to see what you come up with, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Shakshuka is typically a dish made with eggs but since we’re vegan or plant based around these parts, I had to figure out who would become the star of this show. I could have gone the easy route and went for vegan scrambled eggs but that felt like cheating and it also didn’t match what was brewing in my head. Mushrooms could have worked but I wanted my first vegan shakshuka to be a day meal (like lunch) and I didn’t want to spend a thousand minutes cooking a few hundred grams of crimini mushrooms.

Then it hit me. Beans. There are plenty of types of beans and the trick is choosing the right ones. I wanted to use butter beans but because our theme this week is beans (more on that later) and the hubs had already taken them, I went with cannellini beans, also known as navy beans.

The key to a good shakshuka, at least according to the internet and Alton Brown is the thick tomato and chili sauce. Most of the time I would give some fresh tomatoes a boil to remove the skin and use those, but again this was a lunch dish and I wanted to get some work in, so I grabbed a jar of fire roasted crushed tomatoes and mixed them with fresh plum tomatoes. That way you get the sweetness of the jarred stuff to offset the peppers and the tartness of the fresh ones for more depth of flavor.

For peppers, my advice is to know your taste buds. If you can handle spice, go with a hotter chili or use bell peppers like I did and add in a diced jalapeno or serrano chili pepper. Since my hubs isn’t a fan of spice, I compromise by keeping the seeds out of one side and minimizing them on the other. You can always add more spice later.

So we have tomatoes and chilis. Next we need onions and garlic.

You want to get the onions, garlic and peppers sauteed in a small amount of oil (or none of you choose) before adding the tomatoes. I added the fresh tomatoes first, giving them time to cook. Toss in some fresh rosemary and oregano.

Then add crushed tomatoes, and booze if you choose, then let the sauce simmer until it is nice and thick, 15 to 30 minutes.

Here’s the un-dressed up version of Shakshuka

Toss in the white beans and simmer a little longer, and if you’re craving some extra vitamin K, toss in a handful of spinach.

And because I saw it in a photo and thought it looked tasty, I added a few dollops of pesto cream, made with Violife “cream cheese” which by the way is very delicious with a clean flavor. Take some leftover pesto and add a tablespoon or two of cream, dropping it on top of your vegan shakshuka.

Toast the bread, using olive oil, salt & pepper, and chili flakes. Bake for 3 to 5 minutes or until crispy and then satisfy your appetite.

After a long day of shopping and people-ing, this meal and an ice cold beer was just what I needed to recover.

Smoky Tofu Scramble Sandwich

In addition to my love of potatoes and Asian noodle dishes, I sometimes get a hankering for a sandwich. Nothing in particular just some really good stuff between some amazing bread. Or some not so amazing bread. My go to sandwich is lettuce, tomato, cucumber and sprouts with various sauces and condiments.

In a pinch, even a burger will do. Or a fried tofu sandwich, especially when I take the time to marinate the tofu. Yeah, I’m a sandwich-a-holic.

But when I was a kid my grandmother would make the most amazing scrambled egg sandwiches and I would slather it with ketchup. Yes, ketchup. And plenty of black pepper. Some days there would be a slice of cheese or a sprinkling of shredded cheese. The other day a memory came to me and that’s all that I wanted.

But of course some changes were necessary.

This was a pretty simple sandwich to make and the only time consuming part is getting the tofu to the right consistency and flavor but it’s totally worth it!

Here’s what I used:

Tofu (1 brick)

Turmeric

Smoky & spicy paprika

Garlic clove, pressed/minced

Salt & pepper

Cumin

Piri Piri

Dill

Worcestershire

Vegan yogurt (Take it Veggie is my brand but use what you like)

Crumble the tofu with your fingers until it’s good and crumbly and then start seasoning. Take your time and use a small fork or your fingers until every bit is coated. You can add some oil to the pan but I added a splash of almond milk and only when the tofu started to stick. Let it cook for a while on before disturbing it and you can decrease the cook time. Or if you’re feeling brave, crank up the heat and watch it like a hawk, stirring frequently.

I used medium heat while I mixed the yogurt dill “mayo”. Chop some fresh dill and add it to the yogurt along with salt, pepper and garlic granules or powder. I like a little spice so there may be a few drops of chipotle hot sauce added as well.

Now you’re ready to grab a couple slices of bread, I picked up a dark whole wheat from the bakery.

As you can see, I’ve graduated from ketchup to Sriracha.

And since it was very hot and humid, we needed something cold to drink.

Something really, really cold.

A smoothing with blackberries, blueberries, banana, strawberries and the juice of 1 orange.

Plus a splash of water to make it drink-able.

Leftover strawberries that were too delicious to go into the fridge when they were so fresh!

Who said eating vegan was difficult? This is a tasty and healthy (ish) lunch in less than 30 minutes.

Our Trip to Würzburg ~ A Day of Walking, a Fortress and Vegan Eats

We recently took a day trip to Würzburg, a small town of about 100,000 people in the Bavaria region of Germany. This place is what you think of when you think of idyllic small towns, except it is filled with some truly amazing architecture. Now full disclosure; I’m no art expert but I fall into the I like what I like school of thought, so take what I say with a grain of Himalaya sea salt. 😉

When we first started planning this trip I was pretty resigned to the fact that I’d be partaking in lots of wine–famous in the region–along with salad and pommes (fries). Imagine my surprise when a quick Google search of ‘Würzburg + vegan’ revealed not one, but two different eateries!! In the end we opted for the full-blown restaurant instead of the cafe that had mostly vegetarian options. Vrohstoff was our top choice and I’ll be honest, after looking up the menu online I was super excited about our options.

This place was AMAZING. And that’s coming from a woman who no one would ever describe as effusive. Everything about the place screamed fresh, natural food. One wall was filled with pots of fresh herbs and relaxing music greeted us when we made our first stop for a quick breakfast. It was relatively quiet because it was a Monday morning and most people in town were at work…I assume.

We sat down and even though I’d spent plenty of time browsing the menu in the days leading up to the trip, I took my time until I spotted the perfect breakfast drink. Fresh and natural ginger and mint tea. It was damn delicious!

vegan tea mint ginger

The little cup was so adorable with an outer plastic bubble to keep my hands nice and un-burned while I drank my weight in tea!

Now…back to breakfast!

 

The hubs had this dish which was a tofu “egg” scramble which was absolutely delicious and that’s coming from someone who only recently started to enjoy tofu! The salad had a light vinaigrette and the veggies on the side were grilled eggplant, onions. For him, the sesame seed dipped avocados were the highlight because…look how perfectly ripe they are!

For my über delicious vegan breakfast I chose a little bit of everything. The bread up top tasted like potato bread but I forgot to ask what it was made of, but it made a delicious sandwich with the vegan cheese slices and the cucumber, tomato & salad sandwich, also with a light vinaigrette. Bottom left is vegan butter with basil (the basil went on my sandwich!). But the real star of this breakfast was the lentil hummus which was buttery with a hint of smokiness that I’m pretty sure came from cumin. The extra bread was a bonus (mmmm, carbs) and I smeared the lentil hummus on it and ate it. Full disclosure: I slid that avocado slice on over to the hubs because, ewww, avocado. (I know it’s healthy and all that but it’s just not my thing.)

After such a healthy breakfast I was ready to get my tourist-ing on! We both commented on how light and energetic we felt which turned out to be perfect because the Marienberg Fortress was a MASSIVE CLIMB that I would not have been able to make with a greasy breakfast.

But, don’t get it twisted, I do love to eat a healthy plant based diet but I do have a weakness; booze. And we were in wine country so I did have a little bit of a boost to get me up the fortress.

The big castle over my shoulder is Marienberg and that’s a dry rose that was SO COLD and delicious as it went down. It kept me refreshed for the monster climb but the climb did kind of destroy my buzz!

(No, I don’t know the gentleman behind me he was an accidental photobomb.)

We spent quite a bit of time at the Fortress because there were amazing views of the entire town and I got some great panorama shots! After a day of sightseeing at least a half dozen cathedrals, vineyards, gardens and art galleries we made our way back to Vrohstoff. The dinner menu was so mouthwatering but we were both fatigued from all the walking around in the sun that we went for the easy-ish option.

He got soup. A potato and leek soup with a hint of tumeric. It was delicious and I might have had a spoonful. Or two.

I got salad with tomatoes, apples, 3 types of lettuce, carrot spirals, shaved nuts and orange slices.

And then we both got…burgers! They were amazing and the sweet potato fries were OUT OF THIS WORLD!

HE got the ‘Der Mexikaner’ or the Mexican burger, which included a black bean burger with: beets, vegan cheddar, corn, cucumber relish and corn chips. And that little red & white cup? homemade ketchup with vegan mayo that was made with a coconut cream base. It was tasty but a tad too sweet with the sweet potato fries. He ate every bite, though!

I got the ‘Der Greiche’ or The Greek burger that was complete with a bean & olive pattie tomatoes, cucumber, kalamata olives, mint pesto, vegan tzatziki and…parsnip chips. It was very filling or maybe it was all the wine I drank but either way I rolled myself out of there and made my way to the car.

Somehow.

We took a break after the fortress to rest our aching feet over a cocktail or two and this went rolling past!

 

Come back soon and I’ll share with you the loot of wine I picked up in Würzburg!

Mini Frittatas & Smoked Salmon Pinwheels

mini frittata salmon pinwheelsLike most people, I absolutely love the weekends. I work for myself so it isn’t so much about what the weekend represents—time away from annoying coworkers and clueless bosses—but more about the relaxing culture that encompasses all weekends. I think I have a better appreciation for my weekends now that I’m living in Europe. I wake up and linger in bed for awhile before heading to the kitchen to prepare breakfast.

I admit that I’m not much of a breakfast person. Not that I don’t like breakfast, but rather I’m not all gung ho about it every morning. As long as I have a steaming cup of freshly ground coffee and a bagel…my morning is as good as mornings can get. But on the weekend we can be lazy and not rush to get him out the door to work, and that means I get to spend time with my honey and work on expanding my breakfast dishes.

Banana & Apple Walnut Bread

I have a problem. I can follow a cake, bread or pie recipe with the best of’em. I can even create my own sweet concoctions—bacon and maple cupcakes, anyone?—but my problem is, I just can’t make them attractive.

sweet bread recipes
This tastes WAY better than it looks!

I guess it’s something I’ve learned to live with since I’ve eaten many a meal or dessert that looks scrumptious but tastes like turtle dung. So even though my deserts might not please your eyes, they will certainly please your palate, unless you’re still waiting for your taste buds to come back due to years of cigarettes.

My goal wasn’t to make this a vegan bread but I had some unsweetened applesauce so I decided to use it instead of eggs. I actually hadn’t planned on making it at all but there was a Golden Delicious apple on its last legs and a few overripe bananas—it was hotter and more humid than normal this week—so I knew a tasty bread would be perfect.