Esther’s Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies

Esthers Brownies 3

Here’s a recipe from Esther’s Kitchen (Esther being none other than media phenomena and fashionista Esther the Wonder Pig) that is so easy, versatile and forgiving, I have to share it.

Esther’s chef, Linda, tried these brownies 11 different ways – each way being equally delicious I’m sure.

Then I tried the recipe two more ways. Again, all fabulously delicious!

The best part – you just bung everything into a food processor or mixing bowl and hand mix, then pour the batter into a parchment-lined pan and bake. You end up with dense, moist, chocolatey and spicy brownies that satisfy.

Here’s Esther’s Kitchen’s original recipe post:

This recipe has been tested using the following choices: almond butter, peanut butter, sunflower butter, agave nectar, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, dairy-free butter, coconut oil, almond flour, all purpose flour and gluten-free baking flour blend. Each one tasted great and had unique flavors. All of the ingredients resulted in a moist brownie that held together well. The brown rice syrup had the least amount of sweetness. This batch was baked with almond butter, almond flour, coconut oil and agave.

Esther’s Pumpkin Brownies

Cuisine: Esther Approved Dessert, Baked Good, Gluten-free and Nut-free options

Prep Time: 10 minutes Bake Time: 25 minutes Cool Time: 15 minutes Yields: 12 (3”x3”) brownies

By: Chef Linda | Esther’s Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pureed pumpkin from a 15 oz can or homemade and excess water drained
  • 1/2 cup creamy almond, peanut or seed butter (almond was used)
  • 2 Tablespoons softened coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar, maple syrup or brown rice syrup (agave was used)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cacao/cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup flour of choice: almond, gluten free baking blend or all purpose (almond was used)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar Instructions

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Line an 8“ x 8“ baking dish with parchment paper. Press the paper alond the bottom edge and all 4 corners; set aside.

3. Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl or food processor. Use an electric hand mixer or process in the food process until the batter is smooth.

4. Pour all of the batter in the center of the parchment lined baking dish. Scrape out remaining batter from the bowl or food processor. Spread the batter into the corners until you have a level surface.

5. Bake the brownies for 25 minutes. Cool the brownies on a metal rack for 15 minutes.

6. Pull up two sides of paper and lift the brownie out of the pan. Place the paper and brownie on a cutting board. Slice the brownie into 9 pieces or as desired.

Here’s what Chef Linda’s brownies look like.

Esther brownies

I hope you give this amazingly versatile recipe a try and make it your own! The key is to know where you can make swaps:

  • the type of flour
  • the type of oil
  • the type of nut/seed butter
  • the types of sweetener, and
  • the spices.

You can also try add ins such as chocolate chips, walnuts or pecans, even diced candied fruit.

Just do not mess with the proportions of ingredients because that’s where the chemistry is.

Here’s one of my versions:

I used, pumpkin, regular flour, a mix of maple syrup and agave, coconut oil, tahini paste instead of a nut butter, and added a cup of chocolate chips and a big pinch of cayenne pepper. This batch was made in the food processor.

Esthers Browniew mine

For my next batch, I diverged and used: mashed banana and no pumpkin, regular flour, the full amount of coconut oil, almond butter, maple syrup only 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spices, ½ teaspoon cinnamon and ½ teaspoon cardamon. I also added a cup of chocolate chips because it’s chocolate and more is more.

Esthers Brownies 3

Why are you still reading? Go make some brownies!!

 

 

 

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Effortless, eggless salad – kind comfort food

Egg salad far (2)For me, sandwiches are the ultimate easy, comfort food. They remind me of school day lunches, picnics and road trips. Egg salad was one of my favourites and I missed it terribly as a vegan. But no more. This egg salad sandwich tastes just as good as one made using chicken eggs and is actually faster and easier to make since there’s no egg boiling-cooling-peeling activity required.

Ingredients

7 oz tofu, sliced in half and pressed dry in a lint-free towel

2 – 3 Tbsp vegan mayo (I’m a Vegenaise fan) depending on how creamy you like your salad

1 green onion chopped

1 stalk of celery chopped

1 tsp prepared yellow mustard

1 tsp green pickle relish (optional – I like it but leave it out if it’s not your thing)

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

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Directions

Put everything EXCEPT the tofu in a bowl and mix well. Crumble in the dried tofu and combine. Eat and enjoy!

Some notes about storage:  You can eat the eggless salad right away, but it’s even more delicious if it has an hour or two to sit in the fridge so the flavours can blend. This egg salad will last covered for up to 3 days in your fridge. You may find that some water escapes from the tofu if it sits – you can either stir that liquid back into the salad or drain it off.

Makes 2 very generous servings.

Creamy coconut rice with lentils and greens

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This is one of those oh-so-easy and fast, inexpensive, satisfying dishes that also has the “Wow!” factor to it. By “Wow!”  I mean a) you’re never going to find this pre-packaged in a bag on a store shelf, b) there’s a touch of the exotic and different, and c) your taste buds will be happy.

Ingredients

1 cup brown rice

1 (13 oz) can coconut milk

1 ½ tsp chili powder

¼ tsp nutmeg

1 tsp salt

¾ cup cooked brown lentils (about ½ can)

½ cup fresh or frozen and thawed green peas

1 – 1 ½  cup chopped leafy greens (kale, spinach, chard etc.)

¼ cup toasted cashews and/or unsweetened coconut (Optional but delicious and why deny yourself deliciousness when life is so short?) *

Coconut Rice Close

Directions

Put the rice in a small pot. Add 1 cup water, 1 cup coconut milk (save the rest of the milk for later in the recipe), the chili powder, nutmeg and salt. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer for about 15 minutes until the rice is fully cooked.  Don’t lift the lid on the pot. Just let the rice simmer. When the rice is cooked, add the rest of the coconut milk and stir together.

Mix the cooked and now creamy rice in a large bowl with the lentils, green peas and greens.

Serve immediately sprinkled with the toasted cashews and coconut.

Enjoy!

*To toast cashews and coconut, heat your oven (I use my toaster oven) to 425. Spread the cashews and coconut in an even layer on a baking sheet or even a piece of foil and toast for 4 minutes. Watch that the mix doesn’t burn, which can happen in a flash! Know thy oven and do NOT leave the kitchen while the nuts and coconut are toasting.

Fast feta that’s salty, creamy and VEGAN!

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I used to eat Greek salad all the time until I went vegan, but I just couldn’t find anything to replace feta cheese. ‘Til now that is.

This recipe is the bastard child of a far more superior recipe developed by friends of mine – Katie and Christine. Their feta cheese actually gets firm and will crumble. BUT it also takes more time to make and needs lactic acid (that’s what creatBowl of fetaes the great, firm texture).

My version, lazy vegan that I am, provides immediate gratification with very straightforward ingredients.

Having said all that, I bow to Katie and Christine and their incredible culinary skill!

You will need a food processor to make this recipe.

 

Ingredients

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½ block (7 ounces) of extra firm tofu.

¼ cup olive oil

4 tsp fresh lemon juice (about ¼ of a lemon)

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 ½ tsp sea salt

¼ tsp onion powder

1 tsp dried basil

1/2 tsp dried marjoram

½ tsp dried oregano

Feta Semi Close

Directions

Slice the tofu lengthwise and press slices in a lint-free towel to remove much of the moisture.

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and process until thoroughly blended. You can store the feta in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

The feta cheese will firm up a bit in the fridge but it will remain creamy and spreadable. If you didn’t press the tofu well, a small amount of white liquid may separate out, which you can just drain off.

I use this cheese in wraps, as a spread, tossed with tomatoes, pasta and basil, and of course, in Greek Salad!

 

 

 

Sweet and easy lemon cookies

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My lemon-loving friend, Michela, came for a visit this weekend so I tried a new recipe out for lemon cookies. These cookies are fast and easy to make, lightly lemony and incredibly addictive.

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Ingredients

2 ½ cups flour

1 cup sugar (or 1 ½ cups sugar if you’re not using agave syrup)

¼ cup agave syrup

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 lemons – from these you will get:

  • 2 Tablespoons lemon zest (you will use all 3 lemons)*
  • ½ cup lemon juice (from 1 ½ lemons)

¾ cup canola or peanut oil

1 tsp vanilla

Lemon Cookies 2

Directions

Heat your oven to 360F.

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients – flour, sugar, salt, lemon zest and baking powder. Sift in the baking powder so you don’t have tiny lumps of it.

In a smaller bowl or even a mug, combine the wet ingredients – the lemon juice, oil, agave if using, and vanilla.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients in. Mix with a spoon until combined. You’ll have an almost fluffy dough (that tastes really great even raw).

Drop the dough out by the teaspoon spacing the cookies about 2 inches apart. This is important because the cookies really flatten and spread. You should end up with 2 dozen cookies.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the cookies are golden. Let cool completely. The cookies will firm up as they cool.

These cookies would be delicious as part of a cookie sandwich with lemon sorbet!

*So this recipe will leave you with 1 ½ lemons that are sorely lacking most of their protective rind. Wrap the lemons in plastic wrap or store in an airtight container for up to 4 days in the fridge. You can use the lemons for juice for dishes such as linguini in lemon-garlic sauce, lemon tahini sauce, or chili sauce for spicy crispy tofu.

Seitanic chicken – a/k/a the vital wheat beast

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Don’t let the lumpy ugliness of this “loaf” fool you. This is chicken-flavoured seitan and it’s ridiculously delicious! Does it taste like chicken? I honestly don’t remember. I can tell you that it’s savoury, flavourful yet light, and has the perfect texture – not too chewy and not too moist. It’s also extremely easy to make, requires no skill, and is kind to your budget.

The intended destination for this wheat beast is my Singapore noodles.

Ingredients

Dry ingredients

3/4 cup vital wheat flour

1/4 cup chickpea flour

1 1/2 Tbsp almond meal

2 Tbsp nutritional yeast

1/2 tsp poultry seasoning

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Wet ingredients

1/2 cup water

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp soy sauce

The broth

4 cups vegetable broth

1 Tbsp barbecue sauce

Seitan

Directions

Combine the broth and BBQ sauce and bring it to a boil in a deep pot. You want a vessel where the seitan will be covered in broth but have room to expand a little. While the broth is heating up, make the seitan.

In a medium sized bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients. Combine and knead into a ball.

Place the dough ball directly into the pot of broth and reduce the broth to a simmer. Simmer covered for 45 minutes. Remove the seitan from the broth and onto a plate. Allow it to sit for 15 minutes or more before slicing and serving.

I confess, although I made the seitan to go into another dish, I DID eat a whole slice just on its own because it was that more-ish. I think this seitan would be great as a Sunday dinner with mashed potatoes and gravy and a green veggie.

Seitanically good bbq ribs!

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I’m just started a new job, which means I spend time with a lot of new people who are curious about my vegan diet. One thing I’ve been asked a lot is “what was the hardest food to give up” or “what do you miss the most”.

The straight up answer: I missed cheese the most, though I’m over that now that I’ve discovered many great commercial brands and make my own cheeses too. I missed bacon a lot, but that’s over too thanks to rice paper bacon and an even deeper love for the living pigs I’ve met.

But sometimes I just want something meaty, chewy and barbecue-y. Thanks to “wheat meat” or what’s properly called vital wheat gluten, I can have BBQ ribs in a jiffy that satisfy my cravings and harm no one.

Wheat meat is better known as seitan (pronounced say-tan) and like its almost namesake, it’s a tempter.

Seitan is for you if you want to eat something that’s ridiculously easy to make, inexpensive, super nutritious and versatile. That would be everyone I hope.

Seitan is also for you if you just get a kick out of saying “hail seitan” like I do.

Seitan is NOT for you, if you have any gluten issues. Seitan is gluten.

This recipe is from BOSH!

Ingredients

1 cup vital wheat flour (also called vital wheat gluten or 80% wheat protein flour)

2 Tbsp nutritional yeast

1 Tbsp smoked paprika

1 Tbsp soya sauce

1 Tbsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp liquid smoke

½ tsp ground pepper

¾ cup vegetable stock

½ cup of your favourite barbecue sauce (homemade or bottled). Check the ingredient list to make sure the sauce is vegan, but it probably is.

More barbecue sauce for dipping.

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Directions

Heat your oven to 350F.

Grease a small cookie sheet or baking dish.

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl until you have a fist-sized, springy dough ball.

Using your hands, spread the dough out on a greased cookie sheet or in a baking dish so that you have a rectangle that’s about 9”x 4”.

Bake for 20 minutes then remove from the oven and spread the ½ cup barbecue sauce over the now puffed and ridiculous looking seitan (the exuberance of the seitan’s rising and springiness make me laugh). Bake for another 5 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cut into “ribs”.

That’s it. So easy. Enjoy!