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The Quest for the Pumpkin Spice Latte Muffin, Batch 2

30 Sep

Now, I may not have made this clear enough before: I don’t know what a pumpkin spice latte tastes like. I think they’ve existed since before I quit eating sugar, and I’ve probably tried one. I have no memory of what it wastes like. I have had sugar free pumpkin spice syrup. It’s not very exciting, so I imagine it’s nowhere near the real stuff. Also, I hate pumpkin pie. I think it’s the tragic redheaded stepsister of sweet potato pie, and a waste of good pumpkin that could go into soup. So, after last week’s good-but-taste-nothing-like-a-latte muffins, I kind of. . .went off the rails thinking about how I could improve the recipe. What I’m telling you is, the final recipe for this week kind of doesn’t even a little bit resemble a pumpkin spice latte, probably. It has no pumpkin. It has more coconut, because we know sweet potato and coconut are a match made in heaven (remember the pudding soup? If you don’t, go look it up. It’s that kind of weather again). It has some prunes and hazelnuts. It has some allspice. It’s more of a. . . Dirty Chai-Spiced Sweet Potato Coconut Hazelnut Muffin with a Cream Cheese Center. It’s not vegan anymore (it’s hard as shit to find vegan cream cheese in this town) but it easily could be. It’s still gluten free. But C, you ask, is it DELICIOUS?

They’re definitely very good. They’re a little sweeter than the pumpkin version, and a little spicier. They’re crazy moist and dense. The texture is fantastic. The hazelnut flavor might be a little overpowering. I possibly should have stuck with walnuts or pecans. The coconut is not at all overwhelming, it just gives a nice depth of flavor. I DO wish I’d been able to find dates, since I think that almost chocolatey flavor that dates have would have really upped the ante flavor-wise. The cream cheese filling is an absolute winner, especially with the fresh ginger. I will be happy to eat these, and have a good idea where to go if/when I do another batch (cardamom. Life is better with cardamom). In the meantime, if you like a dense, moist, semi-sweet spice cake, try these!

  • 1 1/3 cup gluten free all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp espresso powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp allspice (it turns out I’m out of cardamom? How does that happen?)
  • a couple of pinches of cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp salt 
  • 1 1/4 cup sweet potato puree (roasted sweet potato + a splash of coconut milk + prunes. I wanted to use dates or figs but there weren’t any at the store. Stupid small town)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • a mixture of 2 tbsp flaxmeal + 6 tbsp unsweetened vanilla soymilk
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • Hazelnuts

Cream cheese filling: 

  • 1/2 cup whipped cream cheese (or vegan cream cheese)
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 tspn fresh grated ginger


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin or line with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cardamom and salt.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, (or in a large bowl, using an electric mixer), beat together the sweet potato puree, applesauce, and canola oil. Beat in the egg substitute. Beat in the coconut milk. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients in 2 batches, slowly beating just until incorporated. Gently fold in hazelnuts.
  4. Fill each muffin cup a little less than halfway. Smooth batter. Spoon 1 heaping tsp of cream cheese mixture into center. Top with remaining batter. 
  5. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 20-23 minutes. Place muffin tin on a wire rack and let muffins cool for 10 minutes.
  6. Remove muffins from tin and cool completely.

The Quest for the Pumpkin Spice Latte Muffin, Batch 1

23 Sep


My Facebook and Twitter feeds are full of people having their first Pumpkin Spice Lattes of the season. I cannot eat pumpkin spice lattes, and this makes me sad. I can, however, make muffins, now that it is finally cool enough for me to want to bake. At first, I thought I would make a pumpkin spice muffin, and went looking for recipes. I found a ton, but none that caught my fancy. Then, I had a shower epiphany that what makes a pumpkin spice latte great is the COFFEE. So, I went looking for pumpkin spice latte muffin recipes, and found this one:

This recipe appealed to me because it looked like it would be super easy to make sugar free. I figured while I was playing with it I’d do it with soy flour to up the protein and replace the eggs with a soymilk and flaxmeal mixture to add some sweetness. Instead of a strusel topping, I went with shredded unsweetened coconut and walnut pieces.

There were some issues.

1) The coop didn’t have any soy flour, so I bought gluten-free all purpose flour

2) I thought the coconut and walnuts would get nice and toasty on top of the muffins but they didn’t, really, and didn’t end up adding much. Maybe if they were in the filling?

3) The pumpkin flavor barely came through at all

4) They are really just not sweet, so they taste more like moist spice bread. Which is pleasant, but in no way even vaguely approximates the pumpkin spice latte experience.

I intend to eat these (duh, they’re muffins) and then make a second batch replacing the pumpkin with sweet potatoes and putting in a cream cheese center to play up the “latte” aspect. I will probably not use vegan cream cheese but you EASILY could. I am going to post the recipe changes I made, in case you are looking for a nice moist breakfast spice bread. I also think this would be an excellent banana muffin recipe (of course, there are a gajillion of those) if you subbed out the pumpkin for ripe bananas.

Original recipe from Healthy Food For Living with my changes in green:

adapted from Annie’s Eats Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

yield: 12 muffins


  • 1 1/3 cup gluten free all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp espresso powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt (I will use less next time)
  • 3/4 cup pure pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • a mixture of 2 tbsp flaxmeal + 6 tbsp unsweetened vanilla soymilk
  • 1/4 cup room-temperature brewed strong coffee or espresso
  • a teeeeensy splash of vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin or line with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and salt.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, (or in a large bowl, using an electric mixer), beat together the pumpkin puree, applesauce, and canola oil, scraping down the sides as necessary. Beat in the egg substitute. Beat in the brewed coffee (or espresso). With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients in 2 batches, slowly beating just until incorporated.
  4. Using a spring-loaded ice cream scoop or a large spoon, fill each muffin cup about 3/4 full.
  5. Top with a mixture of unsweetened shredded coconut and chopped raw walnuts
  6. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes. Place muffin tin on a wire rack and let muffins cool for 10 minutes.
  7. Remove muffins from tin and cool completely.

After I’ve had a chance to make a new batch, I’ll post the results. Onward, healthy soldiers!

Be careful out there. -C

Oh fennel how we love thee!

11 Jun

I’ll start of by saying, and risking massive amounts of hate-mail, that I hate, no, despise, rye. My dislike of rye is so intense, that I have spent countless hours avoiding any seed even remotely resembling rye in shape or smell. To this day, I refuse to eat or even allow past my doorstep, the cumin seed, although I sprinkle cumin into practically every Mexican and Indian dish. Fennel has been another offender by shape and even smell. I didn’t even give it a try. I went as far as alienating myself from all “anise” scented concoctions including, ouzo and licorice.

Then I met C. C. loves fennel. One day she made her roasted root vegetable salad with beets, apples, and … fennel bulb. I didn’t want to be rude, so out of courtesy I tried it.

And I was enlightened. Fennel bulb is delicious! When roasted, it becomes soft, but not slimy like onion can tend to become. It’s slightly nutty and sweet, and the smell is beautiful and fresh, not overpowering and nauseating like many anise scents. I admit, I was wrong. And the following will demonstrate how much I have grown since then…

I bought an organic fennel bulb yesterday. I wish I had taken a picture of it. It was beautiful. I wish I could have bottled it’s scent and shared it with you, dear readers, because it was so sweet and exotic and fresh. Instead, I diced it up with some ‘taters, tossed it with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted it. Yes, I roasted something at 400F while it’s 100F outside. Call me crazy. I prefer ‘inspired’.

The resulting meal was fabulous. I ate it up with my first attempt at BBQ tempeh. The BBQ sauce was fantastic, but the tempeh wasn’t quite right. I won’t post it yet, as I think the recipe needs some revising.  I’m thinking I should bake it rather than fry it on the skillet. Any ideas?

Hope you guys enjoy this totally Tucson weather inappropriate meal :).



Roasted Fennel and Potato Salad

1 fennel bulb, cut into bite size chunks

2 large potatoes, cubed (not peeled – “that’s where all the vitamins live!”)

a nice drizzle of olive oil to coat the potatoes and fennel

salt and pepper to taste

fennel greens (look like dill) – to taste, I added about 1/2 Tbsp

Preheat over to 400F.

Toss fennel and potatoes in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss into oven. Cook until potatoes are soft, rotating a couple times to make sure the sides are evenly browned.

Throw into a bowl, toss with chopped fennel greens and serve immediately. It’s also good cold.

Salsa Verde

20 May

Cinqo de Mayo came and went but my hankering for Mexican food has lingered on. Maybe it’s the steadily climbing temperatures or the brightly shining sun. Maybe it’s the Rick Bayless marathon that made me want to whip out my new Magic Bullet blender my mom got me for Christmas. Or maybe it’s D and mine first garden together beginning to bear us fruit but I am in the mood for FRESH.

The farmers markets are calling, fruit is IN season and the thought of having anything heavy, baked or oily seems sacrilegious somehow. So what am I in the mood for?


Yummy, cool, refreshing, cilantro-e, lime-y, avocado-e salsa.

I got the idea for this salsa from watching Rick Bayless the Saturday before Cinqo de Mayo. I’ve been making it almost once a week since D. and I can’t seem to get enough of it.

I like it best on tacos. Hard shell tacos, soft corn or flour tortillas or in burritos. Drizzled in Cally-style breakfast tacos with home-fries and scrambled tofu. Stuffed into tacos with refried beans, lettuce, Dayia Cheese, and soy-crumbles or “chicken” strips. Or just served as chips and salsa. This salsa verde will make you feel like summer is just around the corner (and if you’re in Arizona, you’re not going to care!)


– Mags


4 tomatillos – peeled from their papery husks and quartered

1 large or 1-1/2 medium ripe avocados

1 Tbs (or more if you like it hot) finely chopped jalapeno pepper (remove the seeds and veins if you don’t like the heat)

juice of two limes

2 green onions chopped OR 1 small onion (and I mean small – ping-pong size. If you can’t get these, 1/3 regular onion) finely chopped

handful cilantro chopped roughly

1 tsp salt

Toss tomatillo, avocado and jalapeno in blender and mix into uniform mass. Pour out into bowl. Add in chopped onion, lime juice, salt and cilantro. Stir to mix. Serve chilled.

A Southwestern take on a very French dish

4 Mar

The French may balk at my attempts (and my successes) at veganising their cuisine – the crepes, the quiches, but those of you who may cry out in despair at the mere thought of never again tasting a quiche or indulging in crepes for breakfast (or dinner) fear not, for you have a friend in me! Today I wish to present you with an amazingly tasty twist on the quiche. I had fully intended to make this quiche spinach and mushroom, or bell pepper and mushroom or asparagus, as is traditional in vegetarian quiches, but upon opening my refrigerator discovered that I had neither mushrooms or asparagus at my disposal. Instead, I decided to use what was available to me, which was the remnants of a roll of soy chorizo, a bunch of scallions, a red bell pepper and a bag of frozen corn. Behold the Quiche “Arizona”! And for those of you who are gluten-free (or watching their waist-lines?) this quiche is crust-less.

Quiche “Arizona”

Quiche Base

1 container firm tofu (the kind packaged in water) drained and crumbled

1/4 C unsweetened soy milk

1/2 C nutritional yeast

2 Tbs tahini

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1-1/2 tsp corn starch

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper


1 red bell pepper, diced

1/2 bunch scallions, diced

1/6 container soy chorizo (about 2″ of tube)

1C frozen corn

1 Tbs oil

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper


Preheat oven to 350F. Heat oil in large skillet and saute bell pepper, scallions, soy chorizo and corn. Season and cook until bell pepper is soft. Set aside.

Blend all quiche base ingredients in blender or food processor until smooth. Pour into large bowl and combine evenly with sauted vegetables.

Coat pie tin with non-stick spray or wipe with oil and pour in quiche batter spreading evenly into pan.

Place in oven and bake for 45 to an hour until edges and top are nicely golden brown and a bamboo skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

A Shout-out to Sarah Kramer

10 Jan

I have been on a cooking binge lately, so, dear readers, I have a backlog of recipes I want to share with you. Today, however, I will be sharing something that I cannot claim to be entirely my idea (or at all for that matter) but which turned out to be so delicious and exciting for me that I couldn’t help but share with you. Some of you may be familiar with the cool, chic, gorgeous, and inspiring vegan chef extraordinaire Sarah Kramer. You may know her from “How It All Vegan“, “The Garden of Vegan” and more recently “La Dolce Vegan“. I think she’s done an amazing job spreading the word on the vegan lifestyle in all that it encompasses is a cool and approachable way. “How It All Vegan” was actually one of the first books I picked up when I was first dabbling with veganism. C. recently acquired a copy of “La Dolce Vegan” and kindly lent it to me. Inside I found a recipe for Tu-no sandwiches and I jumped on it. It’s gluten-free, cheap and easy to make and sooooo delicious! I was beyond excited as I bit into my sandwich today at lunch, especially since I have also found a gluten-free bread that doesn’t taste like cardboard! (Actually, it’s as close to GF bread, as Tofurkey Italian Sausage is to meat sausage – not quite it, but so much better in the sense that it’s cruelty-free (to my poor intestines) and close enough to the real thing.) I, of course, altered the recipe to my tastes so I hope Ms. Kramer doesn’t mind if I post my version here. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did (which means, lots of exclamations of delight and smacking of lips.)


Gluten-free Tu-No Cheeze Melt

(makes 2 servings)

1/2 C tempeh, crumbled
1/4 C Veganaise
2 hot pickles, mashed into a relish
a solid sprinkling of pepitas (approx 1-2 Tbs)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried dill
juice of 1/2 lime
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper to taste

1 slice Tofutti Mozzarella
2 slices Ener-G white rice bread, toasted

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, slop on one piece of toast, cover with other side of toast smothered with melted Tofutti Mozzarella and devour!

Soul food Polish-style

7 Jan

One of my favorite foods in the world are potato pancakes or placki ziemnaczane. My earliest memories include my babcia (grandmother) grating the young golden potatoes, mixing up the batter and frying them up to a crispy goldenness and sliding them onto my plate fresh off the frying pan. I would gobble them up, in heaven as the little apartment filled up with the sweet and savory smell of frying potatoes. Hmm. To this day, potato pancakes remain my favorite food and a food in which I take extreme comfort, from the preparation to the final moment of feasting.

Becoming vegan raised the question of whether I would be able to continue enjoying this comfort food, as you need an egg to bind my babcia’s recipe. I have experimented and discovered, that flax meal works wonders and adds a slightest touch of nuttiness, which works great when fried, while apple sauce adds a touch of sweet. Today I share with you my vegan potato pancake recipe. These taste just as good (of course, nothing beats babcia’s, sure you understand). You can grate them finely almost to a mush, if you want a more pancake-y effect; this will make the grated potato give off more water, and you will need to add more flour. This time, I grated the potatoes coarsely with the effect of a more hashbrown-y pancake. The taste, is fantastic either way!

Potato Pancakes with Mushroom-Thyme Gravy, Tempeh-Mushroom Crumble and steamed green-beans

Potato Pancakes Polish Style

4 medium potatoes (grated to 3 C)

½ C Trader Joe’s Gluten Free pancake mix (or ½ C regular flour if you aren’t gluten free)

1 Tbs flax meal mixed with 3 Tbs warm water (option – 1/3 C unsweetened apple sauce)

1 tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

Grate potatoes.  Add flax meal and mix thoroughly. Add flour. Season with salt and pepper.

(Note: If you end up grating the potatoes finely, you will end up having to add more flour. You want the effect of American pancakes, not runny like for crepes – a bit clumpy and thick but wet enough to pour into a pancake shape. The thickly grated pancakes will result in a much clumpier batter and you will have to shape them on the griddle.)

Heat griddle or skillet. Spray with cooking spray or pour in enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan (olive oil is not the best choice here – try canola, corn or vegetable oil). The cooking spray works just fine, but the more oil, the crispier the pancake will be.  Pour in batter into palm-size pancakes. Cook until golden brown and flip. Serve immediately.

To serve, sprinkle with sugar (I know it sounds weird, but if you can eat sugar (which I do not), it’s very tasty.), spread yogurt or sour cream (or the vegan alternative) or throw your favorite sauce on them. This time, I served them up with Mushroom-Thyme Gravy, Tempeh-Mushroom Crumble (Tempeh and diced mushrooms sauteed in Earth Balance with salt, pepper and a sprig of fresh thyme for the herby flavor.) with a side of steamed green beans.


– Mags