Vegan “Buttermilk” Fried “Chicken”

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In case you weren’t aware, writing recipes is quite the process indeed. Throughout said process, I’ll oftentimes end up with a sheet of paper that frankly looks as though someone who was possessed (and had a pen) got their hands on it. Now, I can only really focus on so many recipes at a time so most of the these chicken scratch papers end up getting tossed into a big ol’ pile waiting for their day to be perfected and shared with all y’all. Well, the other day, one recipe that’s been sitting in that pile since I started my blog finally got it’s day to shine.

When I hit the 10 pounds lost mark last weekend, I decided that I was going to give myself a cheat day and there was only one thing on my mind: fried “chicken.” This recipe, like I said a minute ago, had been in the pile o’ recipes since I started this blog in January. It just kept getting left behind in favor of other recipes which were a little less daunting. I mean, homemade vegan “meats” of any kind are serious business -fake meats have got to deliver. Despite my consternation though, I so desperately wanted to get it done for my cheat day so I got busy tweaking the recipe to perfection. A few batches later I had done it and was able to eat what I was craving for my cheat day. #DeliciousDeliciousSuccess

My fried “chicken” recipe is very traditional. You have your “chicken” pieces (made mostly of textured vegetable protein and vital wheat gluten for comparable protein values to actual chicken), a buttermilk-esque bath, and then a dredge (flour with salt, pepper, and just 2 other seasonings). Once coated, each piece is fried then finished off in the oven. The end result is something that has a nice meaty mouth feel and is perfectly seasoned. I could definitely see (if I wasn’t dieting) pairing up these fried little lovelies with my white gravy, biscuits, and mac-n-cheese for a picnic, or with waffles. #Drooling

It all gets started with some prep. The textured vegetable protein (aka TVP) is going to get plumped up with a little vegetable stock so that it’s ready for us in a moment when we make our “chicken.”

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We also need to prep the buttermilk-esque bath as well as the dredge. The buttermilk-esque bath is simply a combination of unsweetened almond milk and vinegar -use either normal vinegar for this or white wine vinegar. The dredge is all-purpose flour with some salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder mixed in. Whip up the bath and the dredge each in their own bowl then set them aside for a moment so that we can make our “chicken” mixture.

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For the “chicken” mixture, stir the TVP, vital wheat gluten, and seasonings together just until combined. You’ll want to make sure that you’re not overworking this mixture otherwise your “chicken” will be a little tough and chewy and ain’t nobody got time for tough and chewy “chicken.” Let this mixture to rest for a moment to allow the gluten to properly set.

Now would be a great time to preheat your oven to 350 degrees and prep a small sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper. You will also want to get a frying pan (cast iron is best for heat retention) ready by adding enough oil to shallow fry -about a half of an inch. Get the oil heating up to about medium heat (low to mid 300s). While the oil is heating up you can start forming your “chicken” pieces.

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Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop out some of your “chicken” mixture and plop it down into your hand. Using your fingers and palms, press and work the piece just for a moment to compact it and form it into a flattened ball about an inch and a half thick. Dip the piece into the almond milk mixture we made earlier, making sure it’s been nicely coated with the liquid, then roll it in the flour dredge to cover the piece entirely. Repeat to make the first 4 (of 8 total) pieces -I’ll explain this in just a second.

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Before you gently place your pieces into the frying pan using a fork, test that the oil is at the correct temperature by dropping in a pinch of of your plain “chicken” mixture. If it begins to bubble and sizzle immediately, without quickly fading, then the oil is ready. If it doesn’t do any of that then you’ll need to turn the heat up just a little.

Once the oil is ready you may begin frying. Place no more than 4 pieces into the oil at a time so as to not crowd the pan. Fry each piece for about 5 minutes on each side then, when done, place onto the sheet pan you prepped earlier. Repeat the scooping, forming, dipping, dredging, and frying process until no “chicken” mixture remains.

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Once all of the pieces have been fried and are on the prepped sheet pan, bake them for 20 minutes, flipping the pieces over at the halfway point. When done, let cool for 5 minutes (off the pan) then serve immediately for the best eating experience.

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Vegan 'Buttermilk' Fried 'Chicken'

  • Servings: 8 pieces (enough for 3-4 people)
  • Time: 65 minutes
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 1 cup textured vegetable protein (TVP) + 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk + 2 teaspoons vinegar (normal or white wine)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour + 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • oil for frying (canola oil works great)

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, combine TVP with vegetable broth, stir then set aside. In another small bowl, combine almond milk with vinegar, stir then set aside. In 1 more small bowl, combine flour with 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, stir then set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the re-hydrated TVP with the vital wheat gluten and 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/4 teaspoon paprika, and 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder to create the “chicken” mixture. Stir mixture with a fork just until combined. Allow mixture to rest for about 3 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a small sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper. Prepare a frying pan (cast iron is best for heat retention) by filling it with enough oil to shallow fry -about half an inch of oil. Get the oil heating up to about medium heat (low to mid 300s). While the oil is heating up you can start forming your “chicken” pieces. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop out some of your “chicken” mixture and plop it down into your hand. Using your fingers and palms, press and work the piece just for a moment to compact it and form it into a flattened ball about an inch and a half thick. Dip the piece into the almond milk mixture we made earlier, making sure it’s been nicely coated with the liquid, then roll it in the flour mixture we made earlier to cover the piece entirely. Repeat to make the first 4 pieces -we will only be frying 4 pieces at a time so no need to make all 8 pieces at the moment.
  4. By now the oil in your frying pan should be at the correct temperature but test the oil to be sure by dropping in a pinch of of your plain “chicken” mixture. If it begins to bubble and sizzle immediately, without quickly fading, then it’s ready. If it doesn’t do any of that then you’ll need to turn the heat up just a little before placing your “chicken” pieces in. Once the oil is ready you may begin frying by gently placing your “chicken” pieces down into the oil using a fork or spider skimmer. Place no more than 4 pieces into the oil at a time so as to not crowd the pan. Fry each piece for about 5 minutes on each side then, when done, place onto the sheet pan you prepared earlier. Repeat the scooping, forming, dipping, dredging, and frying process until no “chicken” mixture remains.
  5. When all of your “chicken” pieces have been fried and are on the sheet pan, place the sheet pan into your preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes, flipping the pieces over at the halfway point. When done, let the pieces cool for 5 minutes (off the pan) and then serve immediately for the best eating experience. Any uneaten pieces can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. To reheat, preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 3-5 minutes -just until warmed throughout.

Vegan Easy Black Bean Burgers

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While it isn’t officially summer just yet, it’s summer in my book. Summer starts for me the moment we here in Phoenix hit the 100-degree mark. From that day forward, until we start to dip back below that temperature, it’s full swing summer, baby! I’m talking about the flip-flop wearin’, pool dippin’, family and friend gatherin’ kind of summer that causes time to slow way down. #AhhYeahh

Food is a big part of summer for most of us and there’s one meal in particular that is the poster child for all summer food -the humble hamburger. Of course, being vegan, you know that my burger recipe is going to be a little less… shall we say, barbaric? Made of mostly black beans and quinoa, it’s a nutritious and delicious cruelty-free alternative to the traditional non-vegan burger found on grills across America.

Just how delicious are my burgers? They’re so delicious that my non-vegan, meat loving brother actually prefers them over burgers made from animal protein. He asked me for the recipe shortly after he took his first bite and then proceeded to discuss the recipe with me for 2 days afterwards until he made them in his own home for his roommates (none of whom are vegan) and himself. #BestEndorsementEver

Now while most black bean burger recipes out there get a little crazy with the add-in’s and flavor combinations, I wanted to keep mine super simple. I did this so that you could go all out with your favorite burger toppings and not have too many competing flavors in your mouth. #YoureWelcome

This insanely easy recipe begins with you whipping out your food processor -I used a mini one and I found it to be the perfect size for this recipe. In said food processor, you’re going to dump in the black beans, quinoa, onion, flax meal, water, and hamburger seasoning (store bought), then pulse to combine. You’re looking for the mixture to have a little texture still but for the most part be nicely blended together.

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Once you have the burger mixture all made up then it’s time to actually make up the burgers. Carefully remove the blades from your food processor then, using a 1/3 cup measuring cup, scoop out a slightly mounded amount of mixture and plop it down onto a parchment lined sheet pan. You should have enough mixture to scoop out 4 burgers. Divide any remaining mixture evenly among the 4 burgers. Make sure to leave some space between each burger because in a moment we’ll be flattening them out.

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To get the burgers flat, I like to grab another sheet of parchment paper, lay it over the mounds of mixture, then gently press each out until they reach the desired level of thickness -about 1/3-1/2 of an inch thick.

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Pop your burgers into a preheated oven to bake for 35 minutes, flipping each over at the halfway point. When they’re done, serve ’em on hamburger buns with all of your favorite burger toppings and enjoy! (I told you this recipe was insanely easy!)

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Vegan Easy Black Bean Burgers

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 45 minutes
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 1 (16 ounce) can of black beans, preferably low-sodium, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup cooked plain quinoa (I like to use the quinoa from the freezer section that gets cooked in it’s bag in the microwave then, once it’s cooked, I just scoop out the 1/2 cup I need for this recipe.)
  • 1/3 of an onion, diced
  • 3 tablespoons flax meal
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 3/4 tablespoon hamburger seasoning (I like Emeril’s because it has salt and pepper already in it but if yours doesn’t have those included then you’ll need to add salt and pepper to taste.)
  • Hamburger buns
  • Hamburger toppings

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375-degrees. Prepare a sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper. In a food processor toss in the first 6 ingredients and pulse to combine. You’re looking for mixture to be smoothed out a little but still have some texture to it.
  2. Remove the blades from the food processor then, using a 1/3 cup measuring cup, scoop out a slightly rounded mound of mixture and plop onto the prepared sheet pan. Repeat to create 4 mounds being sure to leave some space between each for when they get pressed out. Divide any remaining mixture up evenly among the 4 mounds. Lay another sheet of parchment over the mounds then gently press each flat to reach desired level of thickness -about 1/3-1/2 of an inch thick.
  3. Place burgers into preheated oven and bake for 35 minutes, flipping each over at the halfway point. When done, serve on hamburger buns with your favorite burger toppings. Cooked burgers will keep in an airtight container in fridge for up to 3 days but are best when eaten right away.

 

Vegan Bourbon Whiskey Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

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Here’s the 1st of 2 declarative statements in this post: I hate pineapple upside-down cake.

Yeah, you read that right! My mom, on the other hand, loves it. It’s one of her favorite desserts so it was high time I set about making her a vegan version that would take the cake -pun intended! Now here’s the thing about my mom, it takes a lot for her to call something, “great,” or, “perfect,” but those were the exact words she used to describe this cake so you better believe it’s something to try -if you’re a fan of pineapple upside-down cake, I mean.

Ready for the 2nd declarative statement of this post? Here it is: I don’t drink alcohol -like ever.

While I’m not a drinker (by personal choice) I do like to cook and bake with certain adult beverages from time to time. I find that they can really help amplify flavor, and add complexity, when used in moderation. Now I say moderation not because you’re going to get your family and friends plastered if you use too much (the alcohol does actually cook out), but rather because people tend to not enjoy super boozy recipes. Too much alcohol, just like too much salt or any other ingredient, can ruin a recipe in a heartbeat.

“But, Heather,” you might be asking, “if you don’t drink then how do you even know what flavor you’re adding to your recipe in the 1st place?” It’s called Google, my friends. There are plenty of sites out there which help break down the flavor complexities of things like champagne, red wine, and bourbon whiskey. Some even go so far as to tell you which flavors pair well with the adult beverage you’re looking into. I also happen to be surrounded by people who absolutely are willing to take a swig of something and tell me all about it. Sounds a little sketchy, I know, but it all absolutely works and this lovely little cake is proof of that!

To get started, we need to whip up some egg replacer (my favorite, Ener-G) so that it’ll be ready for us to use in a minute. Normally I’d be telling you to follow the instructions on the box, which says to use warm water to hydrate the Ener-G, however this time we’re doing things a little differently -a little more badass, one might say. We’re hydrating the Ener-G with bourbon whiskey! Oh yeah, you can do that, and we just did. #MicDrop

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Next, in a mixing bowl, the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt) get whisked together until smooth. Then I add the almond milk, sugar, pineapple juice (stolen from our can of pineapple slices), egg substitute, and the vanilla, and stir to combine. Now set the cake batter aside for a moment to prepare the pan for it.

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For this cake you’ll need a 10-inch round pan. Spray it generously with nonstick spray and then, while holding the pan upright, sprinkle a little flour around the edges of the pan. The goal here is to have the bottom of the pan greased and the sides both greased and floured to prevent the cake from sticking.

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In the bottom of your prepared pan you’re going to pour in some melted vegan butter. Swirl it around the pan to make sure it sits evenly in the bottom then add in the brown sugar ensuring that it too is even across the pan. On top of that goodness, lay down the pineapple slices and, in the center of each, a maraschino cherry.

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Now grab the batter we made earlier and gently pour that into the pan. Get your cake into a preheated oven and bake it for about 45 minutes.

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You’ll know it’s done when the edges are pulling away from the sides of the pan and the top, soon to be bottom, is golden brown. Let the cake rest in the pan for 5 minutes.

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After 5 minutes has passed, it’s time to turn that bad boy out! My preferred method for doing this is to sandwich the cake pan in between to large sheet pans with the sheet pan the cake is about to be flipped onto lined in parchment paper. Pinching the sheet pans tightly together so that the cake pan cannot move in between them, give the whole thing a quick flip then carefully remove the top sheet pan and the cake pan to reveal your upside-down cake!

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Vegan Bourbon Whiskey Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

  • Servings: 1, 10-inch round cake, serving 6-8
  • Time: 60 minutes
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon Ener-G egg substitute + 1/4 cup bourbon whiskey
  • 1 1/2 cups flour + more for pan
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice (from can of pineapple slices)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter, melted
  • 6 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
  • 7 slices of pineapple (a 20-ounce can will provide more than enough slices and juice for this recipe)
  • 7 maraschino cherries
  • Nonstick cooking spray for pan

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare egg substitute by combining Ener-G powder with bourbon whiskey. Stir well then set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour with baking powder and salt. Whisk until smooth then add in the almond milk, sugar, pineapple juice, egg substitute, and vanilla. Whisk to combine then set aside.
  3. Prepare a 10-inch round pan by spraying it with nonstick spray then, while holding the pan upright, sprinkle a little flour around the inner edges to coat just the edges (not the bottom) lightly with flour. Shake out any excess flour.
  4. Pour melted vegan butter into pan. Swirl it around in the bottom of the pan to ensure an even layer and then sprinkle in the brown sugar, by hand, also making sure that it is even across the bottom of the pan. Lay down a layer of pineapple slices (7 slices to be exact) in the bottom of the pan and then place a maraschino cherry in the center of each pineapple ring. Gently pour cake batter into pan then bake for 45 minutes. The cake will be done when edges are pulling away from pan sides, cake top (soon to be the bottom) is golden brown, and a toothpick stuck halfway down into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  5. Let finished cake rest in pan for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, turn cake out being very careful as it will still be very hot. (Read in post about how I prefer to do this!) Cake will keep in an airtight container on counter for up to 3 days.

Vegan Tomato Tart

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I love my best friend, Angel. She’s the bestest best friend a girl could ask for! We’ve known each other for (I think) nearly 15 years and if there is one thing that I have learned about her in those 15 years it’s that she loves food. Any food.

Now this is both a good thing and a bad thing though. It’s a good thing because it means that she will eat whatever I make for her (and her hubby and baby boy). I always get to test out new recipes and she gets free, yummy vegan food -most of the time. That’s where this can be a bad thing. I’m not a professional chef or culinary wiz by no means so there are times when, despite my best efforts, something just doesn’t turn out as I had hoped it would. But there’s my soul sister, eating it anyways. I’ll critic my work with every bite but she doesn’t say a peep. When I mention how I can make it better next time she often lovingly says that it was great this time. (Did I mention that I love her??)

One such occasion where we didn’t agree on how a recipe turned out was when I made my very first tomato tart. It looked amazing but it was troublesome to eat and missing something. I rattled off the changes I wanted to make to the recipe and what did my best friend do? She asked me for the recipe. As it was. Well me being the perfectionist that I am, I straight up refused to give it to her. Instead I said that when I had finished tweaking it I would then, and only then, share it with her -and all of you. Fast forward a few months later, to today, and I am proud to say that my tomato tart recipe has been perfected and is finally ready to share.

This one’s for you, Angel! #LoveYou

This easy to make tart is a thing of beauty and I’ve definitely improved on its eatability and flavor. The sweet little cherry tomatoes which have been cooked down in a balsamic vinegar reduction are everything -they are bursting with flavor. Below them there is a creamy, garlic-flavored tofu cream and below that is light and crispy puff pastry. Top it all of with some fresh basil and this recipe is perfect for a light lunch or dinner, or as an appetizer at your next get-together.

The first thing that we need to do is prepare some egg substitute for use a little later. I used Ener-G egg substitute and I prepared it in accordance with the instructions on the box for 1 egg. Set this mixture aside until it’s needed.

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Next, the creamy tofu filling needs to be made by first draining and pressing some firm tofu. Put the tofu in a blender and add in almond milk, lemon juice, a whole bunch of garlic, a little onion powder, salt, and some sugar. Blend until perfectly smooth then set aside for a moment until we need it.

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Okay, now for the puff pastry portion -say that 10 times fast! For this recipe you will need 1 sheet of puff pastry that you’ve thawed according to the instructions on the packaging. Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut a 1/2 inch wide strip off of the left side and the right side of the pastry sheet. Now cut 1/2 inch wide strips from both the top and the bottom of the pastry sheet.

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Grab your egg substitute and, using your finger or a small pastry brush, paint on a 1/2 inch wide strip of egg substitute onto the bottom edge of the final pastry square. Once you’ve got a strip of egg substitute on the edge, place the bottom strip of puff pastry that you cut off over top of the egg substitute to create the bottom side of what will be a frame of puff pastry. Repeat the egg substitute and puff pastry strip application on the opposite side of the pastry square.

With the top and bottom of the frame done now we must put on the sides. Before you “glue down” the left and right sides of our puff pastry strips with egg substitute, trim the length of the strips down to fit between the top and bottom puff pastry strips without overlap. Once all of the puff pastry frames edges have been attached with egg substitute, carefully transfer the whole thing to a parchment-lined sheet pan.

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Pour the creamy tofu goodness that we made earlier in the center of your puff pastry frame then carefully spread it out into an even layer. Try not to get it onto the frame itself but if some does accidentally spill over just push it back towards the the center of the pastry square.

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Get that into your preheated oven and bake it off until the puff pastry is golden brown and the tofu cream has set. While that’s baking, we will need to make the tomato mixture that will top off the tart after it comes out of the oven and we will also need to cut up some fresh basil.

For the tomato mixture, halve a generous cup of cherry (aka cherub) tomatoes. Put them into a pan with a little balsamic vinegar and cook them over low-med. heat for about 10 minutes or until the tomatoes have become soft and darker in color, and the balsamic vinegar has reduced to a thicker consistency.

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Once the puff pastry and tofu cream are done in the oven, it’s time to add the tomato mixture to our tart to transform it into the hella good tomato tart it was destined to be.

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As you can see, I just use a spoon to get the tomato mixture onto the tart. After all of the tomatoes are on there I then use the back of the spoon to gently press the tomatoes down a little which helps them fill out the tart a little better.

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Add the fresh basil and enjoy!

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Vegan Tomato Tart

  • Servings: 3-4 as a light lunch or dinner, 4-9 as an appetizer
  • Time: 60 minutes
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • Egg substitute for 1 egg (I used Ener-G -it’s my favorite!)
  • Flour for cutting board or pastry board
  • 1 sheet of vegan puff pastry, thawed according to directions on packaging (Pepperidge Farm puff pastry is vegan!)
  • 7 ounces of firm tofu, drained and pressed
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled but left whole
  • 3/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 generous cup of cherry (aka cherub) tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Fresh basil, finely chopped or cut into little ribbons (chiffonade)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper. In a small dish, prepare egg substitute for 1 egg according to package instructions. Set aside.
  2. Put the drained and pressed tofu into a blender and add in the almond milk, lemon juice, whole garlic cloves, onion powder, salt, and sugar. Blend until perfectly smooth then set aside.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, lay out the puff pastry sheet. Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut a 1/2 inch wide strip off of the left side and the right side of the puff pastry sheet. Now cut 1/2 inch wide strips from both the top and the bottom of the puff pastry sheet.
  4. Using your finger or a small pastry brush, paint on a 1/2 inch wide strip of egg substitute onto the bottom edge of the final puff pastry square. Place the bottom strip of puff pastry that you cut off over top of the egg substitute to create the bottom side of what will be a frame of puff pastry. Repeat the egg substitute and puff pastry strip application on the opposite side of the puff pastry square. With the top and bottom of the frame done now put on the sides but before you “glue down” the left and right strips of puff pastry with egg substitute, trim the length of the strips down to fit between the top and bottom puff pastry strips without overlap. Once all of the puff pastry frames edges have been attached with egg substitute, carefully transfer the whole thing to a parchment-lined sheet pan.
  5. Pour the tofu mixture in the center of the puff pastry frame then carefully spread it out into an even layer. Try not to get it onto the frame itself but if some does accidentally spill over just push it back towards the the center of the puff pastry square. Bake for 35 minutes.
  6. While the puff pastry and tofu cream are baking, make the tomato mixture that will top off the tart after it comes out of the oven. Cut each tomato in half. Put halved tomatoes into a shallow pan with the balsamic vinegar. Cook uncovered over low-med. heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until the tomatoes have become soft and darker in color, and the balsamic vinegar has reduced to a thicker consistency. Set aside until tart is out of the oven.
  7. After 35 minutes is up, remove tart from oven and top with the tomato mixture. Use the back of a spoon to gently press over top of the tomato mixture to help it fill out the tart a little better. Finish with fresh basil and enjoy! Will keep in an airtight container in fridge for 1-2 days but is better when served and eaten immediately.

Vegan Strawberry Cupcakes & Strawberry “Buttercream” Frosting

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Happy Valentine’s Day! Well, Happy (almost) Valentine’s Day! (Or Galentine’s Day, or Singles Awareness Day, or whatever other name you have for February 14th!)

With the day o’ love coming up I decided to do a Valentine’s-inspired recipe this week. When I think of Valentine’s day, the first thing that comes to mind is that I’m single but, once I stop crying, the next thing, or rather things, that comes to mind are strawberries. Who doesn’t love a good fresh strawberry? I know I could eat them, and have eaten them, by the pint. Oh who am I kidding, I’ve eaten them by the pound before. #StrawberrySkank

So with strawberries in mind I decided to come up with a recipe for fresh and from scratch strawberry cupcakes with a strawberry “buttercream” frosting to go on top. Why did I take the time to let you know that they are not only fresh but also from scratch? Because 9 out of 10 strawberry cupcake/cake recipes you find out there are not fresh or from scratch. Most ask you to plop in some strawberry gelatin dessert mix and some just doctor up a box of strawberry cake mix -either way, no thank you. My recipe calls for real strawberries and that makes all the difference.

Oh look, here come some fresh, real strawberries right now…

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Beautiful, aren’t they?

The first step is to process the strawberries by hulling, halving, and then blending them up with some lemon juice until smooth and liquidy. My blender has an “extract” button which pulverizes whatever you put in there so I opted to use this feature with my strawberries to ensure that their tiny little seeds would not be floating around in my puree.

You will be using this puree in both the cupcakes and the frosting but you will have a little leftover to do something fun with or you know, you could just drink that leftover strawberry goodness right down, if you’re so inclined to do so. And I was.

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To get started on the cupcakes you’re going to whisk together the dry ingredients and then set them aside for a moment until they’re needed. (Pretty easy so far, right?!)

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Next you’re going to get the wet ingredients, including some of the strawberry puree, combined in a separate bowl.

One of the wet ingredients in this cupcake recipe is vegan strawberry yogurt. For this recipe I prefer a soy-based rather than nut-based yogurt and if your yogurt has bits of strawberries in it then you, like me, will have to scoop those out before you move on to the next step. We want out cupcakes to be light and lovely and not have little lumps in them so it’s important that you get those out. It’ll only take a minute, I promise.

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Once your wet ingredients are combined and the strawberry lumps from the yogurt have been removed, you can then add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Should you desire a more pink-y cupcake you are more than welcome to add in a few drops of pink or red food coloring here but I personally wanted to keep my cupcakes au naturel.

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Fill your cupcake papers (12 to be precise) a smidge over halfway full then bake ’em for 20-25 minutes. When done, as with most cupcakes, a toothpick stuck in the center will come out clean.

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Transfer your little piggy pink beauties to a baking rack to cool completely before frosting.

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As for the frosting, it couldn’t be any easier to make a vegan “buttercream.” Simply combine the room temperature vegan butter, a little strawberry puree, vanilla, and salt in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment attached, or in a bowl and use a hand mixer. With the mixer on low you’re going to slowly add in the powdered sugar in parts. Once all of the powdered sugar has been added, crank up the speed of the mixer and whip a little air into your frosting for just a few seconds until it is light and fluffy. Again, if you’d prefer a more pink-y color you can add in some food coloring but as with the cupcakes, I went for the natural color which is a very pale shade of peachy pink.

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After you’ve allowed your cupcakes to cool fully you can then frost them with your strawberry “buttercream” frosting and add any little special touch you want to them -I added some itty bitty heart sprinkles because after all, these are Valentine’s cupcakes.

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Vegan Strawberry Cupcakes & Strawberry 'Buttercream' Frosting

  • Servings: 12
  • Time: about 40 minutes plus time for the cupcakes to cool and then to frost them
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

    For the puree:
  • About 1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • For the cupcakes:
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup strawberry puree
  • 1 stick of vegan butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 3 tablespoons vegan strawberry yogurt (preferably soy-based)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Red or pink food coloring (optional)
  • For the frosting:
  • 1 stick of vegan butter, room temperature
  • About 1/3 cup strawberry puree
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • A pinch of salt
  • Red or pink food coloring (optional)
  • About 3 1/3 cups of powdered sugar

Directions

    For the puree:
  1. Combine both ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and liquidy.
  2. For the cupcakes:
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a muffin/cupcake pan by lining 12 cups with cupcake papers.
  4. In a medium or large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Set aside.
  5. In a separate bowl or large measuring cup mix the sugar, 1/2 cup of strawberry puree, melted vegan butter, almond milk, vegan strawberry yogurt, and vanilla together and stir to combine. If your strawberry yogurt has little bits of real strawberries in it then you’ll want to fish those out before you move on to the next step -we don’t want those in our cupcakes because they’ll make our cupcakes lumpy. If you desire a more pink-y cupcake you can add a couple drops of red or pink food coloring to the wet ingredients but this is completely optional.
  6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Divide the batter evenly among the 12 cupcake papers and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick stuck into the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean. When cupcakes are done, transfer them to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely before frosting. Cupcakes will keep in an airtight container for 2-3 days and because of the fresh fruit in both them and the frosting they should be kept in the fridge when not being served.
  7. For the frosting:
  8. Combine the vegan butter, about 1/3 cup strawberry puree, vanilla, and salt in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment attached, or in a bowl and use a hand mixer. If you desire a more pink-y frosting you can also add in a couple drops of red or pink food coloring but this is completely optional.
  9. With the mixer on low slowly add in the powdered sugar in parts. Once all of the powdered sugar has been added, crank up the speed of the mixer to whip a little air into the frosting. Be sure to not overwork the frosting -it should only take a few seconds of mixing on a higher speed to get the frosting light and fluffy.