Hot Cocoa

After taking a long break from things for the holiday I’m finding it difficult to get my momentum back. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s feeling this way right now. I cooked several large meals over the holidays and I’m feeling a bit burnt out from cooking and eating in excess. Luckily I still have plenty of leftovers from the weekend, and won’t have to make anything new. I still wanted to share a recipe with my readers this week just in case you happen to be feeling ambitious enough to make something. This one is a quick and easy one that will warm up your winter just a bit while feeling reminiscent of the holidays. Hot cocoa is incredibly easy to make at home. When I still ate dairy it was as simple as buying a pre-mixed packet. Unfortunately for us vegans most of the ready made cocoa mixes contain milk powder. On the bright side you only need four ingredients to replicate the store bought cocoa mixes, and it tastes way better.

Over the past few years I’ve become more conscious about buying fair trade products. I try not to get too “preachy” on the blog, because some perceive it as unwelcoming. I really don’t want to scare anyone away from veganism, but this is an issue that really bothers me. I feel that as a vegan who went vegan predominantly for animal rights issues I cannot knowingly purchase something that was produced in a way that is exploitative to other human beings. Human beings are animals just like cows, pigs, or chickens. Being vegan implies that you care about the rights of all animals. We all have value, and are deserving of equal rights. If you don’t already shop fair trade I ask you to consider making the switch. Nobody deserves to be enslaved just so you can have a few minutes of enjoyment, and save a few dollars. Yes, I understand that it’s a bit more expensive, but if you can’t afford something that wasn’t produced by slave labor maybe take a minute to reflect on whether or not you really need to purchase that item. I’m not saying that you need to strive for perfection, but in the spirit of “Veganuary” try your best to swap out some of your daily items like coffee and cocoa. I think you’ll find as you make these changes that the fair trade products almost always taste better, and are worth the marginally higher price.

Perhaps in the future I’ll do a post featuring some of my favorite fair trade products. For this recipe I like using SACO Conscious Kitchen Cocoa, or Equal Exchange Organic Baking Cocoa. If you get the Equal Exchange Cocoa make sure you buy the baking cocoa as the drinking cocoa contains milk. I use Wholesome organic vegan white sugar for this recipe. For vanilla extract we use Simply Organic. Top it with vegan whipped cream, and vegan marshmallows. We use Dandies Marshmallows, because they’re delicious and relatively easy to find. Oatly oatmilk is our go to non-dairy milk, but feel free to use whatever you prefer!


Hot Cocoa

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
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To make more than one serving just multiply the ingredients by how many servings you intend to make.

Ingredients

  • 1 cups non-dairy milk
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp vegan sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • vegan marshmallows (optional)
  • -vegan whipped cream (optional)

Directions

  1. In a small sauce pan start warming non-dairy milk on a low heat.
  2. Add in sugar, and sift in the cocoa. Be sure to whisk as you add the cocoa to help keep it from clumping.
  3. Add vanilla extract, and whisk. Continue whisking the mixture periodically to prevent it from burning.
  4. Bring mixture to a simmer, and let it go until it is hot.
  5. Pour into a mug, and top with non-dairy whipped cream and marshmallows or leave it plain. You can dust with additional cocoa for a garnish.

Cinnamon Rolls

I’m still enjoying a nice little break for the holidays to rest, reset, and reflect on the way I want to run my business. It’s been an incredibly stressful year for me, and just about everyone else. In the new year you can look forward to new menu items from my bakery, and shipping throughout the United States. I’ll also be working on creating a lifestyle section of the blog where you can read about some of Nick and I’s favorite ethical, vegan restaurants and products like skin care, makeup, clothing, and more. Creating new recipes for the blog is a great deal of fun, but it’s also a lot of extra work for me throughout the week when I have a lot to do with the bakery. This way I can continue to provide quality content to help readers learn more about veganism, sustainability, and leading an ethical lifestyle without the added stress of having to cook and bake every minute of my waking life. That being said, I’m having a lovely holiday vacation and excited for New Years, even though I’m a bit bummed out that Christmas is already over. Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. I enjoy finding the perfect gifts for friends and family, and spending time with people I don’t normally see often. This year was a bit different with the pandemic, but it was still fun nonetheless. Nick and I woke up on Christmas morning and enjoyed one of my all time favorite Christmas traditions, next to opening the presents, which is homemade cinnamon rolls.

For this recipe I’ve adapted my Grandma Billie’s recipe for Sticky Buns, and made it into the best cinnamon rolls I’ve ever had. We also crafted a delicious cream cheese frosting to put on top of the rolls right when they come out of the oven. These cinnamon rolls are warm, ooey-gooey, and reminiscent of every delightful childhood Christmas. They’re also incredibly easy to make, and only require a few ingredients. I put them together the day before Christmas, and leave them in the fridge until Christmas morning. I have no interest in making a dough for cinnamon rolls, and waiting for it to proof on Christmas morning, no matter how easy the recipe is.


Cinnamon

  • Servings: 12-16
  • Difficulty: easy
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Cinnamon Roll Dough

  • 1 cup oat milk
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp vegan white sugar
  • 2 tbsp Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp instant yeast
  • 6 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup vegan butter, we used earth balance
  • 2/3 cups vegan brown sugar

Cinnamon Roll Frosting

  • 1 cup vegan powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter
  • 1/4 cup vegan cream cheese, we used tofutti
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Cinnamon Roll Dough Directions

  1. Heat a sauce pan on medium heat for about a minute. You can tell if it’s ready by flicking water at it. If it sizzles and quickly evaporates you’re good to go. Add the oat milk in. It should make a hiss as it goes into the pan. Keep it on medium heat and stir until it begins to simmer whisking occasionally. Don’t stir the liquid continuously as you want it to scald a little bit for this recipe.
  2. Very carefully add in the oil. The oat milk has probably reached a pretty high temperature here, so it may jump and splash back a little.
  3. Whisk in the sugar and salt and allow to simmer for another minute.
  4. Turn off burner and remove the liquid from heat. Allow to cool until it is about room temperature.
  5. While the milk mixture cools combine the egg replacer with 1/4 cup of water in a separate bowl. Mix thoroughly and set aside.
  6. In a large mixing bowl combine yeast with one cup hot water. The water should be hot, but not so hot you can’t touch it.
  7. Add the egg replacer, the milk mixture, and three cups of flower and beat by hand or with a hand mixer.
  8. Add in the rest of the flour. If you chose to use a hand mixer you’ll want to ditch it at this point, because the dough is about to get too heavy for it. Mix the flour in with your hands or a spoon until a soft, somewhat sticky dough has formed.
  9. Knead for a few minutes on a floured surface. Grease mixing bowl, and return the dough ball to the bowl. Cover with a towel and set aside for an hour or until dough has doubled in size.
  10. Once the dough has doubled break it into two portions so it is easier to work with. Roll out each portion separately into a roughly 14″x8″ rectangle.
  11. In a bowl soften one cup of margarine to room temperature, and cream in the vegan brown sugar.
  12. Cream together the room temperature vegan butter, and brown sugar. Spread thoroughly on top of each rectangle.
  13. Dust each dough rectangle with cinnamon atop the butter layer.
  14. Grease two Pyrex baking dishes (sized approximately 15″x8″) with excess butter and brown sugar mixture. Make sure the mixture reaches all the way up the sides, as well as completely coating the bottom.
  15. Roll each rectangle up longways like a pumpkin roll or jelly roll, and cut into 16 pieces
  16. Place your pieces in the buttered pans leaving about 1/2″ of space in between each one.
  17. Allow to proof for an additional half hour at room temperature. At this point you can bake them immediately or refrigerate them for up to 24 hours.
  18. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  19. Bake for 25 minutes, and then ice all the cinnamon rolls while they are still hot. Enjoy warm, or allow them to cool.

Cinnamon Roll Frosting Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl beat room temperature vegan butter on a low setting with a hand mixer, or stand mixer. Whip it for about two minutes until it develops nice peaks, and becomes a smooth and creamy texture.
  2. Add in the cream cheese, and mix for just long enough to integrate with the butter.
  3. Slowly sift in the powdered sugar, mixing thoroughly.
  4. Add in salt, and vanilla extract. Mix.
  5. Frosting should be a relatively thick consistency, but not thick enough to easily pipe to decorate a cake. If it seems a bit too runny, add more powdered sugar until you reach the desired consistency.
  6. Store frosting in an air tight container in the fridge until ready for use.

Chickpea Gyros

This is one of the first recipes I ever made when I went vegan, so I’m particularly excited to share it. This one is a really easy one, but it still packs a ton of flavor. All you need to do is prep some veggies and a spice blend, and bake some chickpeas. Unless you’re using dry chickpeas, in which case you’ll have an extra step of cooking them. I usually use canned for this recipe, because it conserves time if I didn’t have the foresight to soak and cook dry beans before hand.

As far as ingredients go we keep everything in this recipe very simple. We used Oatly yogurt for the tzatziki, but you can use any kind of non-dairy yogurt you can find. Just make sure it’s not flavored. Make sure you find a seedless cucumber for the sauce. The only other things you need are a fresh tomato, red onion, dill, lemon juice, pitas, and lettuce. We forgot to get lettuce at the supermarket this week (Oops!), because we’re human and forget things especially during the busy holiday season, but it’s a nice addition. I also recommend using fresh dill, but we substituted it with dry, because we also forgot that (Oops).


Chickpea Gyros

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Gyro Ingredients

  • 32 oz canned garbanzo beans
  • 1/2 a red onion sliced
  • 1 small tomato, or 1/2 large tomato, diced
  • 1 large seedless cucumber
  • 1 1/2 cups of vegan yogurt, we used Oatly
  • 2 tbsp fresh dill, or 1 tbsp dry
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Chickpea Spice Blend Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Directions

  1. Start by creating the tzatziki sauce. Grate the cucumber finely in a food processor. If you do not have a food processor you can do this by hand. Squeeze excess moisture out into the garbage can or sink by wrapping a coffee filter or a cheese cloth around the shredded cucumber, and squeezing tightly. Add the shredded cucumber to a small mixing bowl.
  2. Add vegan yogurt, dill, lemon juice, 2 tbsp olive oil, minced garlic, and sea salt to the bowl with the cucumber. Stir thoroughly, cover, and refrigerate while you prep the other ingredients. This should give it time to develop flavor.
  3. Prep all the other produce, and set it in separate bowls. Slice down the onion, dice the tomato, chop the lettuce if you remembered to buy it.
  4. Open your cans of chickpeas, and rinse off the beans. Place them in a large mixing bowl. I like to rub them with a towel to get the flaky outer skins off of them, but this step is optional. The excess skins tend to fall off and burn in the oven.
  5. Drizzle 2 tbsps olive oil over the chickpeas, and toss or stir to coat evenly.
  6. Combine all other spice blend ingredients in a small, separate bowl. Stir together.
  7. Top the chick peas with the spice blend, and mix them until they are well coated.
  8. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  9. Spread the chickpeas out on a large, parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes.
  10. When the chickpeas are baked, warm pita on a low power setting in the microwave to make them more flexible. I like to lay my pitas on aluminum foil or parchment paper after they’re warmed, so I can wrap them to prevent the ingredients from falling out the back end.
  11. Assemble the gyros by adding a smear of tzatziki, chickpeas, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, and then a hearty serving of tzatziki on top. Enjoy.

Vegan “Scallops” And Risotto

I’ve written before about how much I loved shellfish before I went vegan, and how that was one of the only food groups I found difficult to give up. Previously, I’ve shared a recipe for vegan “scallops” with white wine cream sauce. The recipe featured “scallops” made from king oyster mushrooms with a decadent pasta bathed in white wine cream sauce. I really enjoy using oyster mushrooms in this application. When marinated well they provided a close approximation to both the taste and the texture of scallops. I created this new recipe with fine dining in mind. Nothing says fine dining quite like scallops. To keep the upscale feel I prepared it with a creamy herb risotto, pomegranate gastrique, and a garnish of fresh micro-greens.

I feel like there’s a misconception that “fancy” food is difficult to make, but it’s really minimalist and quite simple. Consider this one for your next date night in, or dinner party. This recipe doesn’t take too long to put together, and will impress even your carnivorous friends. The most time consuming part of it is stirring the risotto while the broth cooks out. Don’t skip out on making a gastrique for this dish. If you’ve never made a gastrique it may seem tricky, but it only takes a few minutes to throw together. The gastrique adds a light touch of citrus and pomegranate that adds some freshness to the scallops.


Vegan Scallops and Risotto

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: intermediate
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Scallop Ingredients

  • 5-6 large king trumpet or king oyster mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth, or water mixed with vegetable bouillon
  • 1 tbsp white miso paste
  • 1/4 cup vegan white wine
  • 1 tbsp olive or caper juice
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • additional white wine to deglaze the pan
  • 2 tbsp earth balance or other vegan butter

Risotto Ingredients

  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup blend of chopped fresh thyme, rosemary, and sage
  • 1/2 a yellow onion
  • 2 shallots
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 cube not chick’n bouillon
  • 4 cups hot water
  • 1/2 cup vegan white wine
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp follow your heart grated vegan parmesan
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast

Gastrique and Garnish Ingredients

  • 1 cup of fresh micro-greens
  • 2 tbsp vegan butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • seeds from one pomegranate
  • juice from 2 lemons
  • juice from 2 oranges
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegan white wine
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Directions

  1. Cut down king oyster mushrooms into large scallop sized chunks excluding the caps. Score the “scallops” if you’d like (this helps add flavor), and set them aside.
  2. Dice the caps, and set them aside. You can cook these down and add them to the risotto for a nice textural element.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the marinade ingredients. Add the Oyster mushrooms to the marinade, and place into the fridge for at least an hour.
  4. Dice the onion, and mince the shallots and garlic for the risotto. In a large pan, or sauce pan, simmer the shallots, onion, and garlic in the olive oil. Add the diced mushroom cap, so that it can cook down.
  5. Add the arborio rice to the pan, and let it toast for about two minutes.
  6. Add the 1/2 cup of white wine, and let it cook down while stirring periodically.
  7. Add a cube of not chick’n bouillon to four cups of water. Microwave on high, and whisk to dissolve.
  8. Add the broth to the risotto one cup at a time. Allow it to cook down in between adding each cup.
  9. The risotto should be almost completely done cooking when you add the final cup of broth. When you add the final cup allow it to cook down half way, and then add in your fresh herbs, nutritional yeast, and vegan parmesan. If you can’t find vegan parmesan sub two additional tablespoons of nutritional yeast.
  10. While your risotto is cooking start the gastrique. Aim to start it about halfway through the cook time on the risotto to allow everything to finish around the same time.
  11. To make the gastrique cook minced shallot in butter in a small sauce pot until it becomes translucent.
  12. Add pomegranate seeds, orange juice, lemon juice, sugar, wine, and vinegar. Whisk periodically.
  13. Allow gastrique to cook down to about half the volume it originally was. Remove from heat, and strain. The sauce should thicken up as it cools, but if it still seems thin you can cheat a bit by putting it back on the stove, and adding a teaspoon of cornstarch mixed with a teaspoon of water to get it to thicken up.
  14. Once the gastrique and the risotto are fully cooked you’ll want to make the scallops. They only take about five minutes to cook, so just cover the other dishes to allow them to stay warm. In a separate pan heat some butter. I saved some herbs, shallot, and garlic to season the scallops with, and if you’d like to do this too add them in now.
  15. Once the pan is hot enough, you should hear it sizzle when you put the scallops down, add all of your scallops to the pan on one of the flat sides. You can add drip some of the marinade on top of them as they cook for added flavor.
  16. Keep a close eye on the scallops as they cook. Once they have a nice sear on the bottom immediately flip them. Once a nice sear is starting to develop on the final side deglaze the pan with a bit of white wine, and lemon juice. Top them with some sea salt and pepper, and then remove from heat.
  17. Plate your scallops, risotto, and gastrique up nicely with a side salad of undressed micro-greens. For our dishes we brushed on the gastrique, loaded the risotto into a small bowl to shape it, and placed it on the plate. We arranged the scallops neatly around the risotto, and garnished with citrus slices and micro-greens. Enjoy.

General Tso’s Cauliflower

I love to cook for myself, but some days there’s no better feeling than getting takeout when I’m feeling lazy. One of my favorite takeout places in the area is Thai Gourmet. If you live in Pittsburgh, go there, they’re great. They’ll make pretty much everything on their menu vegan if you ask, and everything I’ve had there is delicious. I know General Tso’s is not Thai, but they serve General Tso Tofu. I get it often, because it’s delicious and nostalgic for me. I really wanted to recreate something close to that to make at home, but also incorporate more veggies, so I made General Tso’s Cauliflower. My own recipe for the dish wasn’t quite as good as Thai Gourmet’s (they’re hard to beat), but it was still pretty great.

We made this with white rice, and vegetable gyoza from Trader Joe’s. The veggie gyoza are a great TJ’s find from the frozen section. I’ve been buying these regularly since I first went vegan three years ago. Dumplings have always been a favorite food of mine. You can’t go wrong with well seasoned food wrapped in dough. No matter what culture the dumpling originates from I’m into it, but a good Gyoza dipped in a mix of tamari and spices is the pinnacle of dumplingage. These Gyoza do not disappoint. They’re filled with fresh tasting veggies, and incredibly easy to prepare.

The rice we used is just steamed Jasmine rice, but feel free to use brown rice or other grains. If you’re looking to incorporate even more veggies into this dish you can steam some broccoli to serve as a side. This General Tso’s Cauliflower is a healthier solution to tackling your takeout cravings this week. When they come back a few days later you can get some takeout from Thai Gourmet, or your own local favorite if you’re not from Pittsburgh.


General Tso's Cauliflower

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • one head of cauliflower
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup oat milk
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 cup of white rice, or grain of your choice (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 3/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup tamari
  • 1/2 cup dried chilis, crushed
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp water

Directions

  1. Clean and dry the cauliflower head. Break it down into bite sized florets.
  2. Set up two bowls for dredging your cauliflower. In the first bowl mix together equal parts flour and oat milk. In the second bowl add plain panko bread crumbs.
  3. Dredge each floret in the flour mixture, coat it completely in panko, and then place it on a parchment lined baking sheet. Once all of the florets are dredged you can spray them with a little bit of canola oil if you’d like to help them crisp up in the oven.
  4. Bake the breaded florets in the oven for 30 minutes at 375 degrees.
  5. While the cauliflower is baking put together your sauce. Toast up the crushed chili peppers, ginger, garlic, and some of the green onions in a pan with some sesame oil. You can add more or less chili flakes than directed to adjust the dish to your spice preferences.
  6. Once the mixture of garlic, ginger, green onion, and chili flakes becomes aromatic and slightly toasted add in the tamari, vinegar, and maple syrup. Whisk periodically.
  7. In a small bowl combine water and cornstarch. Mix in to a slurry. Once your sauce comes to a light simmer, add in the cornstarch slurry while whisking vigorously.
  8. Your sauce should thicken up withing ten to twenty minutes. Dip a spoon into it to check. If the sauce coats the spoon, instead of just dripping off, your sauce has probably reached the consistency you’re looking for.
  9. Prepare rice according to package directions, and any other sides as desired.
  10. Once the florets are done baking remove them from the oven, and place the in a large mixing bowl. Slowly drizzle the sauce over them while stirring with a spatula to evenly coat them.
  11. Serve with desired sides, and top with green onions as garnish.

Eggy Tofu Scramble

High protein and eggy vegan tofu scramble! This hearty vegan breakfast (or lunch or dinner) is very satisfying, filling, and super easy to put together. It will also really satisfy any cravings for scrambled eggs that you might have, without any actual eggs involved. It’s also just as versatile as a non-vegan scrambled egg dish, since once you get the flavor down, you can mix in pretty much any veggies that you desire, as well as vegan cheese shreds if you like. Just like scrambled eggs, this scramble goes great alongside some fresh toasted bread or a bagel.

This scramble makes use of black salt (also called Kala Namak) which imparts an incredibly eggy flavor and is predominantly used in South Asian foods, so if you can’t find black salt at your local supermarket, you may need to try looking at an Asian grocery, or ordering some online. It is worth noting now, that a little bit of black salt goes a long way. I think that 1/4 tsp is plenty to use in this recipe and recommend using no more than that at least the first time that you make this, though you may want to experiment with using a little more as you make more scrambles.


Eggy Tofu Scramble

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Scramble Ingredients

  • 14 oz. Firm/Extra Firm Tofu
  • 1/4 Yellow Onion, Diced
  • 1 Bell Pepper, Diced
  • Tbsp. Vegan Butter
  • Sliced Green Onions (For Garnishing)

Seasoning Blend Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. Nutritional Yeast
  • 3/4 tsp. Turmeric
  • 3/4 tsp. Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. Dijon Mustard
  • 3/4 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Onion Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Black Salt
  • 1/3 cup Non-Dairy Milk
  • Directions

    1. Dice onion and bell pepper into half inch dice. Drain tofu, but do not press. Place tofu in a bowl and mash with a fork, leave some larger chunks. Should have similar texture to scrambled eggs.
    2. Add nutritional yeast, turmeric, paprika, dijon mustard, garlic powder, black salt and onion powder to a bowl. Then add non-dairy milk(we used oat milk, though you can use whatever you prefer) and whisk until smooth.
    3. Preheat frying pan over medium flame, once warm add vegan butter and coat pan, then add pepper and onion sauté until onion starts to turn translucent, 2-3 minutes. Then add tofu and fry until lightly browned. Be cautious that you do not to break up tofu too much when moving it around the pan.
    4. Add the sauce and fold it in. Fry it until you’ve achieved desired consistency, the tofu will absorb the sauce so you can have it as wet or as dry as you like.
    5. Top with some black pepper, chopped chives, vegan cheese shreds and hot sauce, salsa or ketchup if desired. Serve alongside toast or a bagel.