Pumpkin Trail Mix Bread

still have trail mix left over from spring break, where I was responsible for feeding a group of 12 people for a week. Something had to be done with the trail mix, so why not bake it into pumpkin bread. Pumpkin bread is most definitely appropriate to eat during the month of May, despite what people tell you about its being an autumn food.

This recipe comes from here (hell yeah its vegan). But since I don’t have maple syrup (always extraordinarily expensive) I used agave. And since I didn’t have brown sugar, I used regular sugar combined with a tablespoon of molasses. Also, instead of boring old walnuts, I threw in said trail mix. The salty peanuts and chocolate chips worked very well in this bread. I think I am going to start making trail mix everything bread (banana, pumpkin, zucchini, etc). Its kind of like those “kitchen sink” cookies. But maybe not quite as kitchen sink-y. Anyways…

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Ingredients: (for 1 loaf)

  • 1 C AP flour
  • 3/4 C whole wheat flour
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1 T molasses
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 0.5 t baking powder
  • 0,5 t salt
  • 0.5 t nutmeg
  • 0.5 t cinnamon
  • 0.5 t allspice
  • 0.25 t cloves
  • 1 C pumpkin puree
  • 0.5 C oil
  • 3 T agave
  • 3 T almond milk
  • a generous 0.5 C trail mix (consisting of almonds, peanuts, raisins, chocolate chips, and date pieces)

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Method

  • preheat the oven to 350 and grease a loaf pan
  • In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking soda and powder, salt, and spices
  • In a smaller bowl, mix together the wet ingredients: pumpkin, oil, agave, and almond milk
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and combine until moistened. Don’t over mix or overwork the dough; it will be thick and its OK if a few tufts of flour remain (just not huge clumps)
  • fold in the trail mix, again taking care not to over mix. Over working the dough causes to much gluten to form and will yield a chewy loaf instead of one with a delicate crumb
  • Pour the dough into the loaf pan and flatten out with a spoon. Lick the bowl clean
  • bake for 45-50 minutes until an object (knife of toothpick) inserted into the middle comes out clean
  • Cool for a few minutes in the pan, then loosen the loaf and finish cooling on a rack. Its yummy warm with melty chocolate chips, and is a great snack the next day too

Vegan Peanut Butter Cups

I am going to see my friend’s performance tonight, and it would be quite rude to show up empty handed, especially since the tickets were generously given to me for free. Flowers would be nice, but to generic. Said friend is a chocoholic and a vegan, and so I thought making something chocolatey would be nice.

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I also woke up today with excruciating neck pain due to a spasm that I had overnight, apparently. I vaguely remember waking up and possibly hearing something strange from my neck/shoulder area and feeling it do something strange. In other words, the mobility in my neck has been reduced to nearly nothing. So, I needed a recipe that was a) yummy and b) minimally laborious. Enter peanut butter cups which require only melting chocolate, mixing up peanut butter with sugar, and piecing it together.

 

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A quick google search yields loads of recipes and most follow the same basic pattern, which I will explain below. I based mine on this recipe, with a few additions such as cinnamon and vanilla and coconut oil.

DSCN3081Ingredients (for 12 PB cups, but I halved it to make 6 PB cups)

  • 12 oz vegan chocolate chips (+/- some depending on how thick you make your chocolate layer)
  • 2 T coconut oil
  • 1 C natural unsalted peanut butter
  • 1/2 C powdered sugar
  • pinch o’ salt
  • dash vanilla
  • dash cinnamon
  • cupcake liners and a cupcake pan

Method

  • line a cupcake pan with the liners. I had aluminum ones on hand and they worked fine. I am pretty sure paper ones would be great too.
  • Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave or in a double boiler. Once melted, stir in salt and coconut oil.
  • Coat the bottom of each liner with chocolate. I would say about a spoonful of chocolate in each one. Spread it out with a spoon and shake the muffin pan to get it evenly distributed on the bottom. Once all 12 are coated, stick it in the freezer.
  • While the chocolate is hardening, in a bowl mix together peanut butter, powdered sugar and a dash of cinnamon–maybe 1/4 teaspoon. Or more, if you, like myself, like the cinnamon chocolate PB combo. This will soon become thick, which is what you want.
  • Once the sugar has been mixed in, use your hands to roll balls of peanut butter and then flatten them into disc shapes. Get your chocolate from the freezer and place the disk-shaped PB on top (see the photo above)
  • The final step is dribbling the rest of the chocolate over the PB as a final layer. (You may need to remelt your chocolate to make it easier to spread. And if you run out of chocolate, never fear, just melt more) Use a spoon to drop spoonfuls on top of the PB, and again shake the muffin tin to evenly spread it out. Put it in the refrigerator to harden. Lick the bowl.
  • When eaten at room temp, the chocolate is nice and melty, which is very delicious. So take them out of the refrigerator a few minutes before you plan to consume. Alternatively, you could eat them frozen, which is good too.

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New Fave Food. Kinda

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I have never been a fan of the boxed variety of mac and cheese, and I was not subject to it as a small child. Mac and cheese is not generally a food that my parents made or were drawn to, since they are not from here. I vaguely remember tasting the boxed variety at a friends house and thinking it was gross, and since then, I “didn’t like mac and cheese”. But no one doesn’t not like mac and cheese. Rather, one might not like the boxed variety.

My first positive mac and cheese memory was also at my friends house. I was a little suspicious and scared when she told me her mom was making mac and cheese for dinner and that it was “so good!”. I was expecting another meal from a box. But alas, I was very wrong. Her mom made baked mac and cheese, from scratch, with crunchy bread crumbs on top and ooey gooey creamy-ness inside. Since then, I liked mac and cheese, but only real mac and cheese.

Its not a food I make often because the ingredients are rather expensive and I wont buy a 2 lb block of generic cheese. When making it at home, I had been experimenting with vegan versions made of nutritional yeast, silken tofu, and an assortment of spices. I have had some successes. And now, living in the bay area, it is rather easy to obtain vegan mac and cheese that makes my heart sing. Both Homeroom and Souley Vegan have versions of the dish, and the Souley Vegan kind can also be found in the ready to go refrigerator at several grocery stores.

When I found this vegan boxed version on the shelf, my curiosity got the better of me. I had used “chreese” sauce before and I knew it tasted good. So why would this not taste good? Chrees-y sauce AND whole wheat macaroni? Sold! (they also have a gluten free version and a mac and shells kind which is not whole wheat)

Its really easy to make: Boil water, Add pasta, Drain. Make sauce: water +powder+1-3T oil. Combine. I generally add some extra nutritional yeast, and I only use 1T olive oil.

Last night I had the genius idea of making this mac and cheese and throwing in the extra cup of pumpkin puree I had in my refrigerator from earlier this week. I omitted the oil from the cheesy sauce and simply used water+powder+pumpkin+extra nutritional yeast. It was FANTASTIC. The pumpkin made the mac and cheese extraordinarily creamy, and it also had the added benefit of some extra nutrition. And, it turned a brilliant shade of orange, reminiscent of fake cheddar cheese. I like the whole wheat macaroni because of the slightly nutty taste that it adds, and the grainy texture. So, if you are on a quest for a great boxed version of mac and cheese, yet suspicious what exactly powdered cheese contains, I would highly recommend this vegan version (+pumpkin). None of the ingredients are strange, its mostly a combination of spices, nutritional yeast, and cornstarch.

things that are supposed to be eaten out of bowls always taste better when eaten out of cups.

things that are supposed to be eaten out of bowls always taste better when eaten out of cups.