vegan baking

Francis’ 25th + Salad, Pasta and Cake Recipes

I’m on a celebratory mode.  Francis finally turns 25!  Haaay.  The pains of being the older woman.  But after twenty-three days of waiting, our age gap is now down to four years again.  I’m probably happier than him right now.

Unfortunately for him, November 2 isn’t a holiday this year, so we both have to show up at work.  I took on the dutiful girlfriend role to make a simple birthday lunch.  (He was on emo-mode last night after his mom joked of cooking instant noodles.)  Thinking of the menu was hard since we are still on our week-long detox after eating a total of twenty four cups of white rice last weekend at the convivence.  I decided to just stick to the basics: a green salad, our one-pot pasta, and a chocolate cake.

 I thought we won’t have guests but our officemates from the Division Office came.  I was afraid we won’t have enough but God is good.  Everybody was able to eat and they – at least they said – the lunch was delicious.

Honestly, I’m starting to get confident with my cooking.  My brother Joey joked I can cook better now because I put in effort and love since Francis would be eating.  Hahaha.  Maybe.  I’m just happy that I got to cook for him.  It’s his first birthday with me.

Throughout the meal they were asking me about the recipes.  I’m so happy I got to inspire them to make healthier food.  Indeed, it’s not hard to prepare vegan food at all.  Here are the recipes:

Basic Green Salad

For the salad (I just used anything available in the pantry; you can absolutely use anything):

  • Romaine lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • Green olives, sliced
  • Cucumber, sliced and deseeded
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, minced

For the dressing:

  • 3 parts olive oil (or any oil)
  • 2 parts red wine vinegar (or any acid)
  • 1 part minced garlic (or any add-on of your choice)
  • Salt and pepper

Combine in a jar with lid and shake vigorously to emulsify.  Douse on the salad just before serving.


One-pot Penne in Tomato Sauce

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 cup eggplants, diced
  • 1 14-oz can sliced button mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp olives
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 cups water
  • 500 g penne, or any pasta of choice
  • 1 14-oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • Italian seasoning
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
  • Chili flakes (optional)

Directions:

  1. In a pot, heat oil and garlic at the same time.  This is called cold sauteeing.
  2. Add in eggplants and cook for about a minute.  Add in mushrooms and olives and cook for another minute.  Stir in tomato paste.  Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add water into the pot and let boil until vigorous.  Add in pasta and cook until al dente.  Penne took about 12 minutes.
  4. Halfway through the cooking time of the pasta, add in the tomato sauce.  Reduce heat to medium.  Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
  5. With about two minutes left, stir in Italian seasoning, nutritional yeast and chili flakes, if using.
  6. Remove from heat and serve warm.

Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

For the cake:

  • 2 3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 cup raw turbinado sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp coffee granules
  • 2 1/4 cup soymilk
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

For the frosting

  • 2/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • Shavings of dairy-free chocolate

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two 9-in round cake tins with parchment.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients together.  In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients.  Do not combine until the oven reaches the right temperature.
  3. When the oven reaches 350, stir the dry and wet ingredients until just combined.  Do not overmix.  Quickly pour into the lined cake tins and bake immediately for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from tins and cool completely before frosting.
  4. In a bowl, stir in peanut butter and powdered sugar together, adding a little soymilk at a time until the desired consistency is reached.
  5. Carefully place one of the cakes on a cake plate.  Put half the frosting and spread evenly just until the edges.  Very carefully put the second cake on top.  Put the remaining frosting on top and spread evenly.  Decorate with shaved chocolate.

So, there go three very simple and quick dishes you can make any day.  All vegan and all healthy.  Enjoy!

P.S. It’s my best girl Jena’s birthday yesterday, November 1, and tomorrow will be my favorite boss’.  Isn’t November the best month ever!  Happy birthday to all you celebrators!

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Recipe: Coffee Cake Muffins (Version 2)

In my previous post, I said I hate coffee for two reasons: 1) it makes me palpitate; and 2) it wakes me up. Two hours after finishing that coffee cupcake, I decided on a third reason: I’m acidic. I swore I’m not having coffee again (except of course in chocolate cakes).

But today I found myself baking coffee cupcakes again. Reviewing the recipe from Bosh, I discovered that I made a couple of stupid mistakes:

  • The original recipe calls for self-raising flour. In my excitement, I missed the self-raising part. Thus the absence of a raising agent.
  • I forgot to reduce the amount of flour. Because whole wheat flour absorbs more liquid, 3/4 cup of it should be substituted for a cup of its refined counterpart.

In addition, I discovered that each unfrosted muffin contains a whopping 280 calories! And I doused fudge on Every. Single. Muffin. To add insult to the injury I ate two. And it was breakfast.

Horrible.

And so, as if it could undo the damage, I decided to make another batch. This time, it will be fluffy (I thought if I made it fluffy I could halve the recipe and still have 12 muffins) and lower in the calorie department.

I also decided that this time, I will take my time preparing the ingredients. Here’s the step by step account:

First, I cleaned the entire work area and prepared only the necessary equipment and ingredients. I prepped my muffin tin, too. By necessary I meant the oven, one mixing bowl, 1/4-cup measuring cup and measuring spoons. Seriously that is everything you need. This is Tip 1. Clear the clutter, clear your mind.

Next, I preheated the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (356 degrees Fahrenheit). A pastry chef in the nutrition club I joined before decided to go vegan made me purchase an oven thermometer. It was the best decision I’ve made in my entire life. Tip 2: Buy an oven thermometer.

In connection with that, it’s really important to preheat your oven. That makes the difference between success and favor. That’s Tip 3.

Then, I made my self-raising whole wheat flour. I measured 140 grams of whole wheat flour and added in 1 1/4 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. From this mixture I measured 3/4 cup. This is Tip 4, or how to make your own self-raising whole wheat flour. Hahaha. Courtesy of Food Network.

Tip 5 is scooping ingredients into the measuring cups using a spoon. Scooping directly with your measuring cups may result in you getting more that what you need.

The next I did was to measure everything before I start mixing the ingredients. This is a very easy cake recipe with just five ingredients and does not require mixing the dry and wet separately.

Because I don’t have a food processor, I mixed the ingredients by hand. Tip 6: do not overmix. Then, I spooned the batter into the lined muffin tin. Since I expected that the cake will rise during baking, I just filled them halfway. (Plus I intented them to be small to halve the calories so…) Gently tap the tin on the table to get rid of air bubbles.

Once the oven reached the desired temperature, I popped the tin into the oven and patiently waited. Yesterday’s recipe had a baking time of 20 minutes but since this recipe is just half of that, I estimated the baking time to be 12 to 15 minutes.

Since these are muffins, you can tell the cakes are done when cracks form on top but they still look moist. Tip 7 comes from baking goddess Anna Olson: it’s better to slightly underbake than slightly overbake. Using the toothpick test, I removed the cakes from the oven at 14 minutes.

Now here’s Tip 8: Cool the muffins in the tin for just a few minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack. Leaving it even a tad longer in the tin continues the baking through residual heat, risking overbaking.

The muffins turned out this way:

Observations:

  1. The muffins did not rise as much as I wanted. I wanted them to double but that’s stretching it too far, right?
  2. The coffee flavor was really pronounced this time. Unlike the first version, which tasted more like sugar, this tasted like black coffee.
  3. They definitely are cupcakes, not muffins. Hahaha. Truth is the tops are ugly. (None of the beautiful cracks I was aiming for.) They definitely need frosting but I didn’t care for the extra calories.

All in all, I am pleased with how these muffins turned out.

Healthy Coffee Cake Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour  (measure from mixture of 1 cup flour plus 1 1/4 tsp baking powder and 1/4-1/2 tsp salt)
  • 1/2 cup muscovado sugar, lightly packed
  • 2.5 tbsp fine coffee powder, decaffeinated (I used Nescafe instant) – you can use less coffee is you want a subtler flavor
  • 6 tbsp cup soymilk
  • 1/4 cup cup oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line muffin tin with 12 liners.
  2. Mix together all ingredients and divide batter into muffin liners.
  3. Bake at preheated oven for 12-14 minutes.
  4. Cool on a rack.
  5. Eat.

So there you go. Try it and tell me what you think! Happy vegan baking!

P.S. Francis’ verdict:

Q: Regardless of the calorie count, which muffin do you prefer?

A: I prefer this one.

Q: How many of these will you eat without feeling guilty?

A: 5

I so love this man.