ORANGE CHOCOLATE PECAN BISCOTTI

Vegan Orange Chocolate Pecan Biscotti - These biscotti are a hit with vegans and non-vegans alike! The orange, chocolate, and pecans make it a fragrant and decadent combo--perfect for the holidays! It has been SO much fun participating in The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap –there is seriously nothing better than getting packages of cookies in the mail! :) This awesome swap was started by Julie of The Little Kitchen and Lindsay of Love and Olive Oil  and it raises money for Cookies For Kids’ Cancer. Participants are matched with 3 other participants (you can indicate any dietary preferences or allergies) then you just bake and send cookies and wait for yours to arrive!

I decided to make biscottis for the swap since they are good sturdy cookies to mail–I wanted to make sure they arrived to their recipients in good condition.  Chocolate and orange is one of my favorite flavor combos and I thought that, along with toasty pecans, would make one yummy cookie!  That’s how this vegan orange chocolate pecan biscotti recipe came to be :).

Whenever I am making anything orange, lemon, or lime, I always worry that I don’t get enough of the citrus flavor in there.  My rule of thumb is: the more zest, the better! So I put the zest of about 3-4 medium oranges in the batter along with extract to make sure you get that orange flavor when you take a bite and the chocolate doesn’t overpower it.

Biscottis are twice baked but don’t let that intimidate you–they are actually very easy to make and something you can get creative with.  This is a great recipe to use as a base and it’s a hit with vegans and non-vegans alike.  To this recipe you can try adding different nuts, chocolates, dried fruits, zests, and extracts to come up with new and yummy flavors.

Vegan Orange Chocolate Pecan Biscotti - These biscotti are a hit with vegans and non-vegans alike! The orange, chocolate, and pecans make it a fragrant and decadent combo--perfect for the holidays! Before we get to the recipe, I wanted to give a shout out to my lovely recipients and matches!

The recipients of my cookies were:
Shannon from Killer Bunnies, Inc. / IG: @asynja   
Rachel from Delicious Balance /IG: @deliciousbalance
Beth from Eat Within Your Means / IG: @eatwithinyourmeans

I received cookies from:
Abby from The Frosted Vegan / IG: @thefrostedvegan / Maple Ginger Cookies with Dark Chocolate
Jackie from Happy To Be A Table of Two / IG: @jlburgart / Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Shortbread
Kristina from Cucina Kristina / IG: @cucina_kristina / Lemon Lavender Shortbread Cookies

If you are a cookie fan like me, Julie and Lindsay will be posting ALL the recipes involved (including the ones I noted above) in this year’s swap on their blogs this weekend! If you are on IG, follow @FBCookieSwap for the latest news.

Now on to the biscottis–enjoy with a nice cup of tea! :)

Vegan Orange Chocolate Pecan Biscotti - These biscotti are a hit with vegans and non-vegans alike! The orange, chocolate, and pecans make it a fragrant and decadent combo--perfect for the holidays! Vegan Orange Chocolate Pecan Biscotti - These biscotti are a hit with vegans and non-vegans alike! The orange, chocolate, and pecans make it a fragrant and decadent combo--perfect for the holidays! Recipe Notes: I use Ener-G brand egg replacers when I bake.  After looking up the weight of an average egg, I was able to determine that 1 1/2 egg substitute recipe = 1 egg. So when using this egg replacer, I use 2 1/4 tsp of powder + 3 TBS of warm water to make one egg.  I figured this out because in the past I have felt that 1 egg replacer didn’t seem like it was enough to substitute the liquid you’d get more a regular egg.  I’ve been using the above formula for some time now–it seems to work well and I have not run into any issues.

For this recipe, I replaced 2 TBS of water with orange extract when making the egg replacers to get some more orange flavor in there without adding more liquid to the recipe. You can also try replacing with just 1 TBS or none depending on how much orange flavor you like.

Also, in the photos I actually put 1 cup of chocolate chips and pecans into that recipe–I found that to be slightly too much so reduced the amount to 3/4 cups.

Vegan Orange Chocolate Pecan Biscottis - These biscottis are a hit with vegans and non-vegans alike! The orange, chocolate, and pecans make it a fragrant and decadent combo--perfect for the holidays! Vegan Orange Chocolate Pecan Biscotti - These biscotti are a hit with vegans and non-vegans alike! The orange, chocolate, and pecans make it a fragrant and decadent combo--perfect for the holidays!

ORANGE CHOCOLATE PECAN BISCOTTI

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Yield: About 1 dozen biscottis

Ingredients

  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) vegan butter, softened
  • 3 TBS grated orange peel
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 egg replacers, replace 1-2 TBS of liquid with orange extract *See recipe notes
  • 2 TBS orange extract
  • 3/4 cup pecans, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 cup dark chocolate, chips or roughly chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy and fluffy. Add the egg replacers and mix well. Add the salt, orange peel, and extract. Mix until all the ingredients are well combined.
  3. Add the flour and baking powder and mix until the dough forms and is a crumbly texture. Switch to a wooden spoon spatula and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Mix until all the flour is incorporated.
  4. Stir in pecans and chocolate chip and push into the dough. If the dough is crumbly and the pecans and chips aren't sticking to it, don't worry about it--it will all get into the dough during the next step.
  5. Transfer the dough onto the baking sheet with parchment paper. Using your hands, form the dough into a long flat log in the center of the baking sheet, about 13" long and 3-4" wide. At this time, push any of the nuts or chips that are loose into the dough.
  6. Bake until the log turns a light golden shade, about 25-30 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let it cool for about 30 minutes. The cookie should be warm to the touch but not too hot to handle.
  7. Carefully transfer log onto a cutting board (I lift the entire sheet of parchment paper and place it onto my cutting surface). Using a sharp knife, cut the log diagonally into 1/2 thick slices.
  8. Take the slices and arrange them cut side down back onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for another 20 minutes, until the biscottis begin to get some color on their surfaces. Transfer the biscottis onto a wire rack to let them cool.
  9. Enjoy with coffee or tea!

Notes

Store any leftover biscottis in an airtight container.

These cookies are great for mailing! I package them in airtight plastic containers (filling any leftover empty space with crumpled wax or parchment paper) then place them in a box with bubble wrap so that it doesn't move or shift during mailing.

http://veganchowdown.com/orange-chocolate-pecan-biscotti/

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30 MINUTE VEGAN CHILI

30 Minute Vegan Chili - Whip up this quick, easy, and cozy chili recipe in only 30 minutes! Chili is one of my favorite comfort foods to eat and I seriously get excited for fall and winter because I know I will be able to make and eat this a lot more!  I’ve tried many different recipes but this is my easy-take-all-the-shortcuts-because-I-want-some-chili-NOW version.  I love eating this over a baked potato topped with sour cream and chives with a side of sauteed garlic kale.  Another favorite?  Over fries topped with vegan cheddar cheese shreds–so good!  And have you ever had it over white rice? Totally yummy too.

30 Minute Vegan Chili - Whip up this quick, easy, and cozy chili recipe in only 30 minutes! This is a 30 minute vegan chili and my shortcut version so I am using almost all canned products.  If you want to use ingredients that are made from scratch it’s totally doable as well.  To save on time, you can cook the ingredients needed in bulk (like the beans), portion, and freeze them so they are ready to go when you need them.

This recipe makes a decent pot of chili which is great for leftovers or you can also freeze it and save some for later.  It tastes just as good the next day–maybe even a little bit better–since everything has gotten a chance to sit and really meld together.  I like my chili a little more on the chunkier side, but depending on the consistency you want, you may need to add some vegetable broth or water when you are re-heating it.

I hope you like it and if there’s another way you like eating your chili, let me know in the comments!  I would love to try it :).

Tools Needed: 2.5 quart pot (or larger)

Recipe Notes: This recipe calls for vegan meatless grounds which is usually made from soy.  If you are allergic to soy or just want to switch it up, you can add quinoa to the chili in place of the meatless grounds.  It will be a little different from traditional chili but it will make it more filling and give it texture.

To make adding spices to the chili easier, I use taco seasoning. All you need is 1 TBS from 1 packet–super fast and easy.  I use the taco seasoning from Trader Joe’s and it’s a little bit spicy compared to some other ones I tried so 1 TBS is enough for me.  If you like it spicier, you can add more.  It contains: sea salt, cumin, cayenne pepper, sugar, paprika, onion, garlic, black pepper, red bell pepper, oregano, chili pepper, and smoked paprika.  You can also mix together your own blend of these spices to have on hand for tacos and chili.

30 MINUTE VEGAN CHILI

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: About 8 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 pkg Meatless Grounds
  • 1 can (15 oz) kidney beans, drained
  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained
  • 1 can (14.5) diced tomatoes, unsalted
  • 1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3-5 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 TBS taco seasoning
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp water
  • vegan sour cream (optional)
  • vegan cheddar cheese shreds (optional)
  • green onions (optional)

Instructions

  1. Place your pot over medium heat. Add 2 tsp of oil to the pot. Let the oil heat up for about 30-45 seconds. Add the onion, garlic, and salt. Cook for a minute, stirring frequently. Add 2 tsp of water. Continue to cook and stir for another minute or two until the onions become translucent and garlic is beginning to turn brown at the edges.
  2. Add the meatless grounds and taco seasoning. Make sure to break up any large lumps. Continue to cook until the meatless grounds are heated through and seasoning is evenly disbursed.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients: vegetable broth, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, kidney beans, and black beans. Mix well. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot.
  4. Scoop into bowls and top with sour cream, vegan cheese, and green onions if using.
  5. Serve immediately or allow the entire pot to cool and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Notes

This chili tastes even better the next day! Cover and keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Depending on how thick you like your chili, you may need to add more vegetable broth or water when you reheat.

http://veganchowdown.com/30-minute-vegan-chili/

Posted in Beans & Legumes | Tagged | Leave a comment

VEGAN PUMPKIN CUPCAKES

Vegan Pumpkin Cupcakes - Try this easy and delicious pumpkin and spice filled treat this fall! It's topped with a coconut milk whipped cream to make this cupcake reminiscent of pumpkin pie. It FINALLY feels like fall in Southern California so I am celebrating with these vegan pumpkin cupcakes!  I just couldn’t bring myself to make pumpkin anything or cozy dishes while it was still 80 plus degrees over here. And even though I catch myself wanting to say, “OMG, it’s so cold!” (when it’s under 60 degrees–I know, I am a major wuss) I’ve been stopping myself and remembering that this cold crisp weather was exactly what I was wishing for a few weeks ago.

These cupcakes are the perfect thing to bake if you want your place to smell like warm spices and get in the mood for the upcoming holidays!  I love that you can make these guys with minimal tools–no electrical appliances needed so you can bake these just about anywhere where there’s an oven, a large bowl, and a whisk or spoon.  They also keep very well and I actually preferred how the cupcakes and coconut milk whipped topping tasted on the second and third day.  I kept them refrigerated on a plate wrapped with paper towel and either ate them immediately out of the fridge or if I had the patience, I would let it get to room temperature first before devouring.

Vegan Pumpkin Cupcakes - Try this easy and delicious pumpkin and spice filled treat this fall! It's topped with a coconut milk whipped cream to make this cupcake reminiscent of pumpkin pie. Vegan Pumpkin Cupcakes - Try this easy and delicious pumpkin and spice filled treat this fall! It's topped with a coconut milk whipped cream to make this cupcake reminiscent of pumpkin pie. Most pumpkin cupcakes are topped with a cream cheese frosting but I wanted something that wasn’t as heavy.  I decided to pipe coconut milk whipped cream on top for a lighter frosting option to make the cake more reminiscent of pumpkin pie.  I am sure you have seen the Pinterest posts about how you can turn a can of coconut milk into whipped cream and it totally works!  It was pretty cool and I’m glad I finally got to try it.  Before I started, I did some research and came across Tasty Yummy’s super helpful Tutorial Tuesdays post.  She does a wonderful comparison between different brands of coconut milk and what the results look like.  I used her tutorial to choose a coconut milk that would yield stiff peaks as I wanted to be able to pipe it on the cupcakes.  A few things that I discovered about coconut milk whipped cream…

1.) It was very easy to pipe and totally held together.  I was worried it might melt or get soft but it never did.  Quite the opposite–if you put it in the fridge it will harden so that it keeps its form but when you bite into it, it is still light and creamy.

2.) I felt like adding vanilla extract gave it a weird flavor so I would opt out of using that next time and removed it from the ingredients list.

3.) I also feel like powdered sugar tastes funny in any type of frosting so for a sweetener I chose agave nectar.  I started with a teaspoon, tasted it, and continued sweetening from there.

4.) It does have a coconut flavor so I was afraid my boyfriend who dislikes all things coconut would not like it.  I asked him to try just the cupcake first, then jut the frosting, then together in one bite.  He actually couldn’t tell the frosting was made from coconut and liked the lightness of it.  I was also a little worried he might feel like the coconut and pumpkin clashed, but he said that was fine too (on the second and third day I felt like I couldn’t taste the coconut flavor anymore)! So even if you are not a huge coconut fan, it might be worth a try but if you feel like playing it safe I would use another non-dairy whipped topping or the more traditional cream cheese frosting.

Coconut Milk Whipped Cream
Above is the type of coconut milk I used and how it looked in the can, scooping it out, and what the liquid looked like once I got all the solid parts out.  I think I will try another brand next time to see if I like the flavor or texture better.  Have you tried whipping up some coconut milk?  Let me know which brands of coconut milk you like and if you have any tricks or tips!

I hope you enjoy these pumpkin pie inspired cupcakes and I’m looking forward to cooking and baking more seasonal fall foods!

Tools Needed: 1 large mixing bowl, a whisk, 1 or 2 cupcake pans, paper liners, and a wire rack (optional).  For the frosting you will need an electric hand mixer or stand mixer, piping bag, and a piping tip.  I used a round tip about 1/2″ in diameter.

Recipe Notes:  I use Ener-G brand egg replacers when I bake.  After looking up the weight of an average egg, I was able to determine that 1 1/2 egg substitute recipe = 1 egg. So when using this egg replacer, I use 2 1/4 tsp of powder + 3 TBS of warm water to make one egg.  I figured this out because in the past I have felt that 1 egg replacer didn’t seem like it was enough to substitute the liquid you’d get more a regular egg.  I’ve been using the above formula for some time now–it seems to work well and I have not run into any issues.

The cupcake recipe is a vegan version of Martha Stewart’s Pumpkin Cupcakes.

VEGAN PUMPKIN CUPCAKES

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 20 Cupcakes

Ingredients

    For the Cupcakes:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon clove
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) vegan butter, melted and cooled
  • 4 egg replacers
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
  • For the Coconut Milk Whipped Cream
  • 2 cans of coconut milk
  • 1 tsp of agave nectar (or more if you'd like)
  • 1 tsp of ground ginger (optional)

Instructions

    For the Cupcakes:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Line the cupcake pan(s) with liners. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the melted butter, egg replacers, and sugars together until incorporated.
  4. To the wet mixture, add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and clove. Whisk until all ingredients are well combined.
  5. Whisk in the pumpkin puree.
  6. Divide the batter evenly among the liners, filling each about 3/4 full.
  7. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
  8. Remove from the oven and let it cool a bit so they are easier to handle. Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
  9. For the Coconut Milk Whipped Cream:
  10. Open the two cans of coconut milk without tilting or shaking them. Using a spoon, take out the solid parts and transfer to a large bowl. Remove all the solids until you reach the liquid part. Save the liquid for future use.
  11. Using an electric hand mixer or stand mixer with a whip attachment, whip on medium/high until the cream becomes light, fluffy, and stiff. It took me about 4 minutes to reach the desired consistency.
  12. Add the agave nectar and ginger. Mix well then taste test it and add more nectar and / or ginger if needed.
  13. Spoon the whipped cream into the piping bag with a piping tip attached. Pipe swirls of the cream on top of each cupcake.
  14. Dust the tops lightly with ground cinnamon. I placed the container of cinnamon about 12" above each cupcake. With my index finger I tapped the container firmly, only once each time, to sprinkle the cinnamon on top of the frosting. I did two taps per cupcake to cover most of the cupcake.
  15. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Notes

Prep time includes making the cupcakes as well as the coconut milk whipped cream.

http://veganchowdown.com/vegan-pumpkin-cupcakes/

Posted in Cupcakes | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

TEA TIME WITH JUDY SAGAMI

Tea Time with Judy Sagami I had the privilege of experiencing Judy Sagami’s truly magical Tea Time this past Saturday!

This tea party actually happened because of a beautiful white cat named Atari! Atari was my friend’s cousin’s girlfriend’s (got it?) but because of frequent traveling (for work) she made the hard decision of finding him a new home.  She felt it was unfair to Atari and wanted him to be in a home where he could get as much attention as he wanted.  I really respect her decision and she was very thorough and picky with where/who his new forever would be with (as she should be).  My friend’s cousin’s mom, Christine, reached out to me to see if I knew of anyone and I was able to find him a new home with my boyfriend’s brother and sister-in-law!  It has worked out great for everyone and I love getting all kinds of funny, cute, and mischievous photos and updates of Atari in his new home. Christine and Judy are good friends and she has been telling me about her culinary talents for years so she decided to set up this tea party as a thank you for finding a new home for Atari!  I’m just glad that I was able to help and find him a family so quickly.  So thanks to Atari, here we are having tea!  Animals have seriously brought some of the coolest people and experiences into my life :).

This tea party was such a special treat and I want to introduce you to the talented chef behind this soiree.  Judy Sagami is a pastry chef/cook and personal chef who co-created Tea Time at Sherman Gardens and has presented Afternoon Tea at the James Beard Foundation in New York.  She began her culinary journey in the world of ultra-fine chocolates, found success there, and in 1997 she became a partner of Cafe Jardin at the Sherman Botanical Gardens where Tea Time was born.  This is not your typical afternoon tea–Judy has reinvented it by blending elements from the east and west and serving it Japanese-style with unique tea pairings.  I have never experienced anything like it and tried my best to savor every single bite and flavor!

Prior to our tea party, Judy asked about our dietary preferences and even asked about vegetables we liked / disliked when planning the menu.  She put together a completely vegan menu for me which I greatly appreciated and so excited to try.  I have gone to afternoon tea at other places but there are very limited options for vegans (mostly I can have the tea and that’s about it) so I am always happy when I can partake in an entire event and eat everything!

Even before any food was served, I was already in love with this experience because of the lace tablecloth, greenery, smooth black stones, and embroidered floral cloth napkins carefully set on the table.  It’s not everyday I use such pretty napkins to wipe my messy food covered face with!

We were served 4 different courses and they were so pretty and detailed, I didn’t really want to eat it!  We had soup (mine was broccolini) followed by savory bites which included so many flavors and textures (there was a wonton, greens with vegan “lamb”, a cracker topped with a creamy vegan spread and trio of tomatoes just to name a few), a plate of scones, and we finished with a plate of amazing chocolates and desserts (which featured a delicious apple pie topped with an apple rose).  Each course was paired with a unique tea that complemented the food.  Everything was so thoughtful, delicate, creative, and tasty!  I felt like everything I put in my mouth was something new–it wasn’t like anything else I had ever had.  This meal was so inspiring and makes me look at making food, displaying food, and serving food in a fresh new way!  I am going to leave it at that and not go into anymore details so that if you try Judy’s tea you can be surprised and delighted like I was.

If you would like to experience this amazingness for yourself, you can contact Judy to plan your event.  Her information is available at www.JudySagami.com. This Tea Time is great for both celebrating special occasions or just something new to do with a group of friends. I hope you enjoy the photos and that I have been able to introduce you to something new and different!

Tea Time with Judy Sagami Tea Time with Judy Sagami This leaf turned plate was such a lovely way to incorporate nature into this meal!

Tea Time with Judy Sagami Tea Time with Judy Sagami Tea Time with Judy Sagami Tea Time with Judy Sagami Another thing I really loved–remember the three stones set on the table by the greenery? They are actually a functional piece of decor and provide a base for this marble slab to be set on!  And the attention to detail on each of the savory bites served on the marble was truly unique.  My favorite (visually) is a tie between the perfectly layered pieces of cucumber that creates a striped affect and how the little package (second from the left) is so neatly tied up with the most perfect edible knot.  Everything was so creative and inspiring!

Tea Time with Judy Sagami These “stripes” are just so beautiful, delicate, and perfect and it’s served on the cutest little spoon / paddle ever!  I am tying to find a recipe I can use to try this layering technique on.

Tea Time with Judy Sagami Tea Time with Judy Sagami The beautiful finale plate featuring delicious chocolates, persimmon filled with cream (I think that was my favorite), and an apple pie topped with the most beautiful apple rose!

Tea Time with Judy Sagami

Posted in Gatherings | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

MINI HALLOWEEN PIZZAS

Mini Halloween Pizzas by VeganChowDown.com It’s October which means one thing: HALLOWEEN!  I love, love, LOVE this holiday and basically start planning my costume in early summer (for myself and my dogs :))!  Not only do I feel that dressing up is tons of fun, but there’s so many creative, cute, and spooky things you can do with your food as well.  I think adults should be able to play with their food too and isn’t it more fun to see a plate of mini Halloween pizzas instead of a regular pie?  I’ve seen some Halloween pizza pics around the internet but I wanted to make these to show that you can be just as creative with vegan food–I also really wanted to share with you my favorite pizza dough recipe!  My pizzas do come with a little twist–I decided to replace the traditional tomato sauce on some of these with pestos and tapenade–which worked out perfectly for Frankenstein’s skin tone and the night sky the ghosts are floating around in.

Mini Halloween Pizzas by VeganChowDown.com Below you will find instructions on how to put together 4 different mini Halloween pizzas: kale and walnut pesto Frankenstein, sun-dried tomato pesto mummy, mixed olive tapenade ghosts, and tomato sauce (or I actually cheated and used marinara I had in the fridge) pumpkins.  My favorite new pizza “sauce” is the kale and walnut pesto!  The sun-dried tomato pesto is closer to the flavors you’d normally expect if you are feeling less adventurous, and the tapenade is perfect for those of you who can’t get enough olives on each slice!  Above is a photo of the different toppings and sauces I used.  I ended up not using the mushrooms but you can layer them in the mummy pizza or use cutters to cut out mushroom stars.  Feel free to experiment with different veggies to create different characters and creatures.

You can use ready-made pizza crust from the grocery store (Sprouts carries vegan-friendly ones) or make pizza dough from scratch.  I like making it from scratch so you can shape it and make it the size you want–recipe and notes below.

I hope you enjoy these non-traditional pizzas and that they help you get into the Halloween spirit! :)

Pizza Dough Notes: My favorite vegan-friendly pizza crust recipe is from AllRecipes.com by Phyllis–it easy, fast, and if you regularly bake, you will probably have all the ingredients in your pantry already.  Please go to the link to see the full recipe and here are a few of my notes from using this recipe several times.

Keep in mind the yeast mixture needs to sit for 10 minutes before you can start mixing the dough and after mixing it will need 30 minutes to rise.  Plan accordingly.  I usually make the dough and once it is rising I prepare all the veggies for the decorations.

Mini Halloween Pizzas by VeganChowDown.com The recipe says to “beat” the dough but I prefer to use my hands because I feel like the dough would get stuck and not blend well with my electric hand beater.  Make sure to only use one hand and keep the other clean to hold the bowl, grab things, etc.  When I initially mix the wet and dry ingredients together, I make sure to only use my finger tips (as to not get sticky dough all over my hand).

Mini Halloween Pizzas by VeganChowDown.com When the dough is ready to go, I turn it onto a floured surface (I use a cutting board) and fold the outside edges together one time, turn it clockwise and fold those edges together, turn the whole thing over and roll it out from there and cut into smaller portions.

Mini Halloween Pizzas by VeganChowDown.com This might seem obvious but whatever shape you are trying to achieve, let’s say a rectangle, start with a ball of dough that’s already in a rectangle shape–it will make things a lot easier!  Trim with a knife if needed once you get close to the thickness you’d like.

I rolled my dough out to be about 1/2″ thin with the crusts being thicker, about 3/4″.

Mini Halloween Pizzas by VeganChowDown.com The baking time for me is about 20-30 minutes.  I usually keep a close eye on it after 20 minutes and let it bake until the crust is a golden brown.

I really like this dough and its texture; my boyfriend said the crust reminded him a little of breadsticks.

I made one recipe of this pizza dough and cut it into 6 sections to make 6 mini pizzas.  

Mini Halloween Pizzas by VeganChowDown.com Recipe Notes: The cheese: I made these pizzas twice and tried two different cheeses for each recipe.

For the first one I used Daiya jack cheese sold in a block form (if you head to my Instagram you can see the melty cheese ghosts on my first try).  This cheese melted well in the oven but was a little bit harder to take out of the packaging and cut.  I also prefer their mozzarella cheese for pizza but they didn’t have any at the store so I went with jack.

For the second time I used Go Veggie! pepper jack cheese slices (which is what is pictured in this post).  The pre-made squares made things so much easier to cut and I liked the taste of this cheese.  It didn’t melt as well but when you bit into the cheese, it was creamy, but it just doesn’t look melted on the pizzas.

If you are making the pestos and tapenade ahead of time (which is what I did), make sure to take them out of the fridge and let it get to room temperature so they are soft before using.

MINI HALLOWEEN PIZZAS

GHOST MIXED OLIVE TAPANADE  PIZZA

Mini Halloween Pizzas - Vegan Ghosts by VeganChowDown.com

  • 1/6 of the pizza dough from above or 1 small ready-to-use pizza crust, cut into a rectangle shape
  • 1/2 cup of mixed-olive tapenade
  • 2-3 slices of black olives, cut in half and into small pieces (for the eyes and mouth)
  • 2 slices of vegan jack or mozzarella cheese, cut into the shape of a ghost
  • yellow bell peppers, cut into stars with a mini cookie cutter
  1. If using pizza dough: take the dough and roll it into a long oval shape, leaving the edges thicker for the crust. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 10-15 minutes at 350F until the crust is half baked (it will have started to rise and bubble when you pull it out of the oven). Remove from the oven so you can add the toppings (this keeps the toppings from cooking for too long and drying out).
  2. Spread a generous layer of the olive tapenade on the dough.
  3. Add the cheese ghost in the center of the pizza.
  4. Arrange yellow bell pepper stars around the ghost.
  5. Place the pizza back in the oven and continue to bake for about 10 more minutes or until the crust is a golden brown and cheese is melted.
  6. Remove from the oven and add the olive eyes and mouth (adding it after the cheese melts keeps it from getting covered and lost in the cheese).  Serve immediately.

FRANKENSTEIN WALNUT & KALE PESTO PIZZA

Mini Halloween Pizzas by VeganChowDown.com

  • 1/6 of the pizza dough from above or 1 small ready-to-use pizza crust, cut into a rectangle shape
  • 1/2 cup of kale and walnut pesto
  • 1/8-1/4 cup of black olives, chopped (for the hair)
  • 2 slices of black olives (for the eyes)
  • 1/2 slice of pepperoni or tomato (for the mouth)
  • 1/2 slice of pepperoni, cut into two small circles (for the cheeks)
  • 1 slice of green bell pepper, cut to size (for the nose)
  • vegan Parmesan topping (optional)
  1. If using pizza dough: take the dough and roll it into a long rectangle, leaving the edges thicker for the crust. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 10-15 minutes at 350F until the crust is half baked (it will have started to rise and bubble when you pull it out of the oven). Remove from the oven so you can add the toppings (this keeps the toppings from cooking for too long and drying out).
  2. Spread a generous layer of the kale and walnut pesto on the dough. If using vegan Parmesan, sprinkle a thin layer on top of the pesto so that you can still see the green color.
  3. On the top 1″ of the pizza dough rectangle, spoon on the chopped black olives to create Frankenstein’s hair.  The top edge against the crust will be smooth and arrange the olives at the bottom edge into a zig zag pattern.
  4. Add the two eyes, nose, mouth, and cheeks.
  5. Place the pizza back in the oven and continue to bake for about 10 more minutes or until the crust is a golden brown.  Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

MUMMY SUN-DRIED TOMATO AND PEPPERONI PESTO PIZZA

Mini Halloween Pizzas - Vegan Mummy By VeganChowDown.com

  • 1/6 of the pizza dough from above or 1 small ready-to-use pizza crust, cut into a rectangle shape
  • 1/2 cup of sun-dried tomato pesto
  • 6 slices of vegan pepperoni (I have tried and liked both Yves and Tofurky brand)
  • 2 slices of black olives (for the eyes)
  • 10 pieces of 1/2 inch wide strips of vegan jack or mozzarella cheese
  1. If using pizza dough: take the dough and roll it into a long rectangle, leaving the edges thicker for the crust. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 10-15 minutes at 350F until the crust is half baked (it will have started to rise and bubble when you pull it out of the oven). Remove from the oven so you can add the toppings (this keeps the toppings from cooking for too long and drying out).
  2. Spread a generous layer of the sun-dried pesto on the dough.
  3. Place a layer of pepperoni on top of the pesto.
  4. Place a layer of the strips of cheese on top of the pepperoni.  The strips should overlap a bit.
  5. Add the 2 olive eyes, place them between the strips instead of on top so it looks like the eyes are peeking out from underneath the strips.
  6. Place the pizza back in the oven and continue to bake for about 10 more minutes or until the crust is a golden brown and cheese is melted.  Remove from the oven and serve immediately.
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FONDANT TUTORIAL // NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS CUPCAKE TOPPERS

Nightmare Before Christmas Cupcake Toppers By VeganChowDown.com

I wanted to kick off October with a Halloween themed post and thought these Nightmare Before Christmas cupcake toppers would be great!  I made these cupcakes for my boyfriend’s sister-in-law who is a HUGE fan of Halloween and Nightmare Before Christmas.  They were so much fun to make and it was even more fun giving them to her!  Below is a tutorial of how to create the following 3 designs: Jack Skellington, Zero, and Jack standing on the cliff.  Happy cupcake decorating! :)

YOU WILL NEED…
– Cupcakes, cooled and ready to be decorated
– Frosting of your choice
– Fondant in white, black, yellow, and orange
– Food coloring in black to “paint” with
– Corn starch or vegetable shortening (or both) to flour your surface and to keep the fondant from sticking to your fingers and hands

TOOLS YOU WILL NEED…
– 2 1/4″ or 2 1/2″ round cookie cutter (these fit the top of a regular sized cupcake- the 2 1/4″ one leaves a tiny border– which is what I used in this tutorial–while the 2 1/2″ circle usually covers the entire top of the cupcake)
– Small rolling pin
– A smooth cutting board and / or silicone non-stick mat to work on (I put the mat on top of the board)
– A cookie sheet lined with parchment or a second silicone mat to place the finished pieces as you work
– Toothpicks (to get the food coloring out and to paint)
– Brushes with a small, fine tip (you can pick up an assorted pack for cheap at Michael’s or Joanns.  If the tips need to be finer you can cut them with scissors to thin out the bristles or make it the shape you’d like.)
– a knife with a small sharp point or an exacto knife

If you need to color any of your fondant, do it first, starting with the lightest color to the darkest. When you are done, wash your hands well and clean your surface so you don’t get any accidental smudges on your final pieces.

Start off by making the circle base/background for each of your decorations. I was making 9 cupcakes, 3 of each design so I needed:

– 3 white circles for Jack’s head
– 3 yellow circles for the cliff background
– 3 black circles for Zero’s background

Start with the lightest color first then finishing with the dark to keep any black from getting onto the white fondant.

Lightly dust your surface with the corn starch or get your hands a little greasy from the vegetable shortening.  Then roll out the fondant about 1/8″ thick.  Using your cookie cutter, press down firmly on the cutter then twist from side to side to make sure the cutter makes a clean cut.  Remove the excess fondant and store it in some plastic wrap for later use. Carefully transfer your circles (use a knife or spatula to help you lift it up) onto a parchment lined cookie sheet or another mat.  Now that your background is ready, you can start working on the fun details!

Once you are done with the decorations, let them dry for a few hours or overnight so that it can harden and the paint can dry.  It’ll be easier to place them on the cupcakes this way.

When you are ready to place the decorations on your cupcakes, frost your cupcakes and gently place each topper on top with a light push to make sure it sticks to the frosting.

JACK SKELLINGTON

Jack Skellington Cupcake Toppers By VeganChowDown.com

There are 3 parts to Jack Skellington: his eyes, nostrils, and mouth.

Start by shaping the eyes.  I looked at pictures of him online and tried to imitate the shape.  They are sort of rectangles that are rounded and uneven.  This version of Jack is of a 3/4 view of his face, which is why the second eye is smaller.

There are two ways to get the shape of the eyes.  I used both methods.

One way is to use your fingers to shape the fondant.  This works well if you are good at mimicking shapes.

The second way is to use your fingers and a knife.  First create a flat rough rectangular shape with your fingers. Then using your knife, cut off pieces at the edges to achieve the uneven shape.  Once you are happy with that, use your fingers to smooth out the edges by pressing down on any corners so that it blends in better.

When you are finished with the eyes, attach them to the white fondant base, Jack’s head, with a tiny bit of water brushed on the backs.  Press very lightly to adhere the eyes to the base.

Next, paint in Jack’s nostrils with a fine tipped brush that has been slightly dampened with water and dipped in black food coloring.

The nostrils are too short lines with the top tips leaning in towards each other.

For Jack’s mouth, start by painting in his smile.  Begin about half way down his big eye, following the edge of the circle about 1/4″ in, and continue the line until it reaches the bottom edge of the smaller eye.  (Don’t worry if the line is not perfect.)  Then go back and add in the stitches which point in random directions and include a criss-cross “X” somewhere between the big eye and the nostrils.

ZERO THE GHOST DOG

Nightmare Before Christmas Cupcake Toppers By VeganChowDown.com

There are 4 parts to Zero: his face/body, ears, collar, and pumpkin nose.

We will begin with Zero’s face/body.
Start by making a white circle with the fondant, the same size as the background.  (I wouldn’t recommend making it ahead of time when you are making the backgrounds because the fondant will start to crust and it won’t make a smooth cut when you try to cut out Zero’s silhouette.

Using the knife, cut out the outline of Zero’s head, neck, and shoulders (don’t worry about cutting the mouth yet).  I like to start from the right side to the left.  I usually freehand this but if you feel more comfortable with a stencil, you can make one by drawing / tracing the shape onto paper then using that as a template to cut around.

Once you are happy with the body, you can go back and cut a slit for the mouth.  Attach Zero’s silhouette to the black background with some water, making sure the mouth is open.

Next is Zero’s ears.  We are going to make a white fondant piece like the shape in the image.  You can start by making a long triangle and then flattening the piece.  Turn the piece on it’s side, counter clockwise, and use your fingers to do any additional flattening / shaping.  It’s ok if the piece is too long.  Attach the ear onto the body with some water and trim off any access part by following the edge of the round background with a knife or going over the entire piece with the round cookie cutter you used for the background.

Cut out an orange strip for Zero’s collar.  Attach the collar onto the body with some water.

Next is Zero’s cute jack-o-lantern nose! Make a small circle with the orange fondant and flatten it.  Because the nose is so tiny, I found that dipping a toothpick in black food coloring was the best way to paint in the jack-o-lantern.  You can also use a very thin brush.

Finally add the eyes and neck detail.  Again, you can use the toothpick with food coloring or use a brush.

For the eyes you can sometimes get a perfect dot with the tip of the toothpick or using the tip of the end of the brush.  If the initial dot is too small, make it larger by going over the dot with a small circular motion and slowly extending outwards to increase the size (it’s ok if you press down and indent the fondant slightly).

For the crease lines at the neck,  I used a brush with a very fine tip and drew the lines freehand.  Test the brush first (on a napkin or scrap piece of fondant) with water and food coloring until the food coloring is the right consistency.

JACK ON THE CLIFF

Nightmare Before Christmas Cupcake Toppers By VeganChowDown.com

There are 2 parts to Jack standing on the cliff: a painted Jack and–you guessed it–the cliff!

Start with the cliff.  Roll a piece of black fondant into a long cone shape with the base being bigger and tapering off into a pointy end.  Then curl the tip in and flatten the entire piece.  With the same cookie cutter you used to cut the backgrounds, trim the cliff edge so that the bottom of the cliff is round and matched perfectly with the background.  Add the cliffs to the yellow circles with some water.

Then paint Jack in.  I used the movie poster as a guide.  Using a toothpick or brush, paint this little guy in.  If it seems intimidating to you, just break it down and think of it as a circle / dot and lines.

That’s all three fondant Nightmare Before Christmas cupcake toppers!  I hope the tutorial was helpful and feel free to send me an email or comment if you have any questions.  If you make your own cupcake toppers, send me a photo–I’d love to see your creations!

Posted in Cake Decorating | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

KALE AND WALNUT PESTO

Vegan Kale and Walnut Pesto by VeganChowDown.com Vegan Kale and Walnut Pesto by VeganChowDown.com I was looking for something green to use in a savory Halloween themed recipe (I’m excited to share that with you very soon!) and thought pesto would be perfect in it!  I wanted to do something a little different than the usual basil pesto and came across ones that used other greens and nuts including a kale and walnut pesto.  I happened to have half a bag of walnuts in the cupboard and needed some kale anyway so decided to try it out!  I looked at many recipes before settling on what ingredients to use and adjusted the amount to my taste. At first I was a little skeptical of the kale but it has a mild flavor that balances out perfectly with the lemon, garlic, nuts, and seasonings.

Vegan Kale and Walnut Pesto by VeganChowDown.com
The ingredients are simple: kale, walnuts, garlic, olive oil, and fresh lemon juice.  Most pesto recipes also call for Parmesan cheese.  I usually just omit it but this time I used vegan Parmesan cheese and really liked the flavor it added to it.  (If you are not a fan, go ahead and leave it out.)  The only difference between this and the basic basil pesto is that you need to blanch the kale first before blending it up which is a really quick step.

Vegan Kale and Walnut Pesto by VeganChowDown.com Vegan Kale and Walnut Pesto by VeganChowDown.com This was a fun and new way for me to eat kale and if you haven’t tried it before, I highly recommend it!  You can use this pesto as a dip for chips or crackers, spread on pieces of toast and sandwiches, or add to pastas.  Although I am using it as part of a Halloween inspired dish, the kale pesto and its bright green color is great on its own as part of a spooky spread too!

Tools Needed: food processor (I use a Ninja), a small 2 or 3 quart saucepan

KALE AND WALNUT PESTO

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: About 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 2 generous cups of roughly chopped kale leaves (packed into the cup)
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup of walnuts
  • 1/8 cup + 1 TBS of olive oil (add more if needed for a thinner consistency)
  • 1/8 cup of vegan Parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • water and salt to blanch the kale

Instructions

  1. In a small saucepan bring a pot of water to a boil. Add a few pinches of salt. Place the kale in the pot and blanch for 1 minute. Drain, rise with cold water, and drain again.
  2. Place the kale into the food processor (try not to add any excess water that had not been drained). Add the garlic, walnuts, and vegan Parmesan, and pulse until everything is roughly chopped.
  3. Add half of the olive oil and process until the mixture is blended. Add the remaining olive oil and process until the mixture is blended.
  4. Stir in lemon juice and salt. Taste and add more juice or salt if needed.

Notes

Serve immediately or store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for 1-2 days.

http://veganchowdown.com/kale-and-walnut-pesto/

Posted in Dips, Spreads, Sauces | Tagged | 3 Comments

THE GREAT FOOD BLOGGER COOKIE SWAP 2015

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2015

I am so excited to be participating in this year’s Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap! I did this a few years back with my old food blog and had so much fun eating delicious vegan cookies and making new friends!  It is hosted by Lindsay of Love & Olive Oil and Julie of The Little Kitchen–these lovely ladies have done such an amazing job of bringing the food blogging community together (566 bloggers joined in last year) to share yummy food and do some good.  The cookie swap is also a fundraiser for Cookies For Kid’s Cancer–in 2015 they were able to raise nearly $14,000!  Cookies that do good? How can you say no to that? :)

Here is a quick overview of how this works: sign up to particpate which includes making a $4.00 donation to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer.  Once you are signed up you will be matched with three other food bloggers and these are who you will be sending cookies to.  There is a section to note if you have any dietary preferences or allergies and you will be matched accordingly.  Then you bake and ship out your cookies!  After baking and shipping, post your cookie recipe on your blog and submit it to TGFCS.  They will compile ALL of the delicious recipes and publish every one in a huge round up!

To sign up and for all the important dates and details, visit The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2015 page.

I hope to connect with you fellow vegan food bloggers and can’t wait to give and receive some cookies!

PS: Some of you might be thinking, whoa–that is super scary to eat cookies from some random person!  Or at least that’s what my boyfriend and some friends think–I on the other hand say, that’s more cookies for me! :)  I had no issues the first time I did it and I am sure if there were issues, the swap wouldn’t be as successful as it is today and still going strong!  I trust that all the food bloggers who are participating will prepare and package the food properly just like I am planning to do.  Also, they are not really random people–they are new friends who you can learn more about through their blog or reach out with an email!

Posted in Blogger Events, Cookies | Tagged | 1 Comment

ARE WILTON PRODUCTS VEGAN?

Gumpaste Rose by VeganChowDown.com Good news if you are vegan and enjoy decorating cakes: several Wilton products are animal-friendly!

If you enjoy cake decorating like me, I am sure you have asked yourself this question: are Wilton products vegan? After Googling and trying to figure out if Wilton’s fondant and gum paste are OK to use, I decided to go straight to the source and email the company for information.  They responded very quickly and provided a list of Wilton products that do not contain any animal or animal by-products.  This list does include their ready to use fondant and gum paste (which is what the above rose is made from), gel food colors (I used this as well to color the gum paste pink), and ready-to-decorate icing, just to name a few!

Below is the list and you can download the PDF here:

Wilton Vegan Products List

Happy cake decorating!

Posted in Cake Decorating, Uncategorized | Tagged | 4 Comments

KIMCHI SHREDDED BRUSSELS SPROUTS

Kimchi Shredded Brussels Sprouts by VeganChowDown.com Kimchi Shredded Brussels Sprouts by VeganChowDown.com VeganMofo Day 30:

Fusion challenge.

I can’t believe it’s the last day of September already and Vegan Mofo is ending! :( I had so much fun posting along this month and the prompts gave lots of good inspiration.  I was able to do 17 / 30 prompts which is not bad but I am going to be more prepared next year so I can try to post every single day!  It isn’t easy posting for an entire month straight but I think the trick is planning ahead so I am excited to see what I can do next time.

Today’s challenge was to make something fusion.  This is a tough one for me because I really don’t like mixing foods or cuisines–I can’t even think of the last time I ate something that would be considered fusion!  The first thing that came to mind was the Kogi food truck and their Mexican / Korean fusion food which put kimchi in the back of my mind.  Then I came across a roasted brussels sprouts recipe on Pinterest and had a light bulb moment–kimchi shredded brussels sprouts!  I figure brussels sprouts are mini cabbages and kimchi is made from napa cabbage so it could work :).

Kimchi Shredded Brussels Sprouts by VeganChowDown.com Kimchi Shredded Brussels Sprouts by VeganChowDown.com Now let’s talk about kimchi!  I’m weak sauce when it comes to spice but I have always enjoyed eating kimchi.  I think it’s because I LOVE anything pickled and kimchi is a fermented Korean dish most commonly made with cabbage, spices, garlic, brine, scallions, shrimp sauce, and fish sauce.  There are actually 180 (!!) varieties of kimchi!  The only bummer are the shrimp / fish ingredients that are in kimchi.  I never even realized this until I became vegan and read the ingredients–I never felt like it tasted fishy! :( Luckily there are vegan versions and I would like to attempt making it from scratch one day too!

I was able to find vegan kimchi at Whole Foods by Mother In Law’s Kimchi.  MILK offers two vegan options, one with napa cabbage and one with white napa cabbage.  Whole Foods only had the white napa cabbage kimchi which is what I used.  I think I am going to order the other version which looks more like the classic red kimchi I am used to.  To me, the white kimchi is mild with sour notes and a tiny kick from the ginger–still good but different.  I was actually a little nervous about using white kimchi but I am so happy with how this dish turned out!  I really like how the brussels sprouts taste when cooked this way and the kimchi gives it an extra kick of flavor to make it more interesting.

Kimchi Shredded Brussels Sprouts by VeganChowDown.com Kimchi Shredded Brussels Sprouts by VeganChowDown.com Both brussels sprouts and kimchi is full of nutrients like vitamin C and vitamin K as well as fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and probiotics–I am looking forward to making this dish often so I can get all of this good stuff!

I hope you enjoy it and if anyone has an awesome vegan kimchi recipe out there, please comment and tell me about it!

PS: There’s so much good stuff on the Instagram hashtag #vgnmf15 and #veganmofo!  If you are ever looking for plant-based food inspiration, scroll through a few of these photos and I am sure you will find something delicious to make!

Kimchi Shredded Brussels Sprouts by VeganChowDown.com Tools Needed: 10-12″ frying pan

Recipe Notes: To shred the brussels sprouts, I cut off the stem and thinly sliced it.  I cut up any larger pieces into thin strips.  You can also place them in a food processor with a slicing blade or a mandoline.

KIMCHI SHREDDED BRUSSELS SPROUTS

Total Time: 15 minutes

Serving Size: 2 generous portions or 4 moderate portions

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of brussels sprouts, shredded (about 5 large brussels sprouts)
  • 2-3 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup vegan kimchi, roughly cut into bit sized pieces
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp water for cooking
  • olive oil for cooking

Instructions

  1. Place your pan over medium heat. Once the pan is warm, add a few teaspoons of olive oil to thinly coat the bottom of the pan. Let the oil warm up, about 30 seconds.
  2. Add the minced garlic and stir to coat with oil. Cook garlic until the edges begin to brown (but not burn), make sure to stir continuously.
  3. Add the shredded brussels sprouts. Stir to mix with the garlic and oil. Add the water and continue to stir. Add the salt. Continue to cook for 3-5 minutes until sprouts are bright green and wilted.
  4. Add the kimchi. Stir well and continue to cook for another 1-2 minutes until kimchi is heated through.
  5. Serve immediately with rice, noodles, or as a filling between steamed buns.
http://veganchowdown.com/kimchi-shredded-brussels-sprouts/

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