Banana Blueberry Muffins

These are "Wolfie's Banana Blueberry Muffins" from La Dolce Vegan. A book that has fallen out of fashion in the J-R household a bit since I discovered RFD and Candle 79 type books. But, La Dolce does have some great go-to rather quick recipes, and I had one lonely banana on it's way out of the world, so... I gave this a shot.

These are really very good. They have some odd ingredients in them- ground ginger and molasses- but that really compliments the banana, and even though this has one banana in it vs three in our other go-to nana muffin recipe (HERE), the banana flavor really pops. Which kind of leaves you wondering why there are blueberries involved. The berries are a kind of nice tart element, but walnuts or something would make way more sense in here. Still, it's good, so whatevs!


Thanks to this here hash, from this day (actually Monday) forward- all Mondays in the J-R household shall be Savory Morning Monday! (catchy, yes?) I found that Tofurkey (swoon) has a vegan breakfast sausage, which is fantastic news to me because even though I've been known to fall off the wagon and eat cheese every blue moon, eggs are an absolute no for me- and the faux sausages that I had loved so much from Morningstar Farms have eggs as one of the main ingredients. And, call me cynical- but seeing as they're owned by Kraft, I can't see those coming from free range happy birds.

Anyway, tofurkey's sausage is good- a bit sweet, but it works great in this hash. I feel silly listing directions as it's basically pan fried potatoes with some jazz in it, but here you are anyway. I also made the La Dolce Vegan scrambler which is great mushed into this hash too. A bit of wheat toast on the side and you really don't need to eat until 'Left Over Savory Morning Tuesday'.

• 1 large baking potato, chopped into small cubes
• 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
• 1/2 red onion, diced
• 1 roma tomato, diced
• Tofurkey breakfast sausage
• salt and peppa to taste
• about 1T of oil (mine was too oily with more- I found I cannot cook this in my non non-stick pan without serious stickage)

Sautee the onions in oil for a few minutes, add the potatoes- covering the pan will make them cook faster. Cook until potatoes are firm-soft. Add breakfast sausage, green pepper, tomato and salt and pepper (about 1/2 t each). Cook until peppers are firm-soft and tomatoes are close to falling apart.

Also, if I were to get all Nancy on this (I've been known to individually flip these little potatoes to get all sides evenly cooked), I'd cook the 'sausage' separately to get a little bit of a crust on it before adding it to the potatoes, but with making the scramber as well, I just threw it in. Yup, I can be crazy too.

Hal's Maple Chocolate Flax Brownies

Remember when I made cupcakes and said that I've yet to make that mythical dried out tasting vegan bakery? Well I did it! (not that that's a good thing...)

These stink. They are "Hal's Maple Chocolate Flax Brownies" from Dolce Vegan. I mean, they're edible. It takes a bad, bad, brownie to be so bad that I won't eat it. The chocolate chips save them. They are very dry- the batter was really dry too, which should have been a clue. For having both sugar and a ton of maple syrup in them, they aren't very sweet- which would be fine with the sweetness of the chocolate chips if not for the overall dryness and the flax seeds. I made peanut butter cupcakes with flax seeds successfully a few weeks ago, so I thought this would be just as good- but these have a TON of ground flax in them (1/4 cup compared to the 1T or so in the cupcakes), and you can really taste it. Which, in a brownie? Not so good. They are denser like a brownie should be (compared to the other Dolce ones that were the really good cake) Still, maybe the word "brownie" means something else in Canada, because Sarah Kramer (Dolce author) and I have wildly different ideas about what constitutes a good brownie (or a brownie- period). I have gotten a few great go-to recipes from Dolce, but also a good few duds. I wonder how much testing went into the book and I don't rule out that I could have goofed too.

I don't even love brownies a ton, I'm just looking for that thick, fudgy recipe with the flaky top that I can go to when I do want a brownie. For now, the quest continues.

Battle of the Tofu Scramblers

Anyone who's been vegetarian or vegan for more than five minutes has probably had tofu scrambler. I had so much of it years ago that I pretty much never eat it anymore. But on the rare occasions that I want it, I want to make it. I have had too many nastily prepared versions at restaurants to ever order it out again unless for some reason, I'd know that the restaurant makes it amazing.

This is getting on a tangent, but the thing about ordering tofu in restaurants is that most places (non-veg restaurants) do not prepare it well. You need to use the right tofu for the right job (Silken for sauces and deserts, water packed for stir fries and scrambles). I went to a big, chain Mongolian barbecue style place with a client and ordered a stir fry with tofu- they served silken in a stir fry that was undercooked and unmarinated! No wonder tofu has a bad rep with most of the meat-eatin' crowd!

So, yeah, water packed is the way to go for this dish, firm or extra firm. These recipes are from Vegan Brunch and Dolce Vegan. Dolce Vegan is the one in the tortilla and was the clear winner. I would halve the mustard that it calls for, but other than that, it's a great, basic recipe that you can doctor up with peppers or whatever you like. It's just yellow and neutral with enough flavor to make it interesting. I also threw in some vegan chorizo to justify the tortilla b/c we were out of bread (toast).

The Vegan Brunch recipe was not my thing. I suspect that the author is also bored with this dish and just wanted to jazz it up, but 2 teaspoons of cumin was overkill, and not the flavor that I'm looking for with scrambler. Plus, it calls for quite a lot of nutritional yeast, which I think is great in small doses but too much of it damns a dish for me.

So that's my tofu scramble report until next year when I make it again and try a new recipe.

Espresso "Brownies"

Either I did something wrong, or the author of La Dolce Vegan has a whole other definition of what a brownie is. What I made was the "Espresso Brownie" recipe from that book. What came out of the oven was a delicious, fluffy, moist, rich chocolate cake (with the somewhat inappropriate bits of walnut in it). As cake- this is amazing! There's bits of chocolate chips in it, aside from the cocoa powder that already makes the batter chock full of chocolatey goodness. In fact, I believe that this will be perfect when I eventually try making fauxstess cupcakes ala Real Food Daily/ the Vegan w/ a Vengeance book.

Also, this is the moistest bit of vegan baking since I made TJ's Pumpkin Bread mix with a banana in lieu of eggs. I know that I haven't eaten dairy in almost 2 years, but I think that in a blind taste test- no one would label this as vegan baking.

As a brownie, however, this fails. Nothing about it is brownie-esque. It's not flat, no crispy, flaky brownie crust- it's just so totally not a brownie.

But it's an amazingly good cake!

Black Bean, Sweet Potato Burrito

These are from La Dolce Vegan and have become a staple in our house. The first time that I saw the recipe, I thought it sounded weird. The sweet potatoes are boiled and mashed and then layered with seasoned black beans. The beans have a very deep, rich flavor, and coupled with the sweetness of the taters- these are amazingly tasty. I used Frontera's Jalapeño and Cilantro salsa- a bit inside and some on top. Also, from the crappiest little taco hut in Chicago (Burrito House, oh how I miss thee), I got the trick of pan cooking a finished burrito to get that crispiness on the top and bottom. I don't do it for all burritos, but it's absolutely necessary for this one. A soft tortilla just wouldn't work with this. This recipe is also always a hit with non-veg peoples too. It's A+ #1 delicious.

Tyler and Phoebe's Perfect Pesto Sauce

The name don't lie. This is page 177 from La Dolce Vegan. I've made it plenty of times, and there was always something off about it. I toasted the pine nuts because the recipe says "toasted pine nuts". We have a basil plant that I harvest every so often for this recipe, and then I'd make it and we'd be like, eh- not so good. S'alright- but not good. The pine nut taste was way too pungent.

File that under "taking things far too literally". The f-ing pine nuts say "toasted" on the bag. So, this time, I just used the 1/4 cup of them plain- untoasted, and abra cadabra shezam- perfect pesto. Duy.

So, yeah, don't toast your toasted pine nuts.

Hot and Sour Soup

This is from Dolce Vegan p104. I was expecting that it would be as good as Tamarind's in Chicago. Not so much. It was good, but not the best ever (Tamarind's was REAL good). This was spicy, which we liked a lot. I used srichacha instead of Asian chili sauce which may have altered the intent of the recipe a bit. I also only used half of the vinegar that it calls for because Davey hates vinegar- and I thought that was plenty. It seems like using the full amount would be overkill, but maybe that would be the magic bullet.

All in all it was good, but we've just found SO many amazing recipes, I'm not sure that I'll make it again. Maybe.

Peanut Noodles

This is great for summer, as you really don't have to cook anything except the noodles, and it's really delicious. Also, it's a cold dish. For left overs, you just pop it out of the fridge and eat.

It's the "Noodle Salad with Spicy Nut Dressing" from La Dolce Vegan p81. The author doesn't specify which nuts to use, I chose peanuts because I'm on a super peanut kick lately. My only change to the recipe is to use 1/2 c of nuts instead of 1/4 c because the chopped nut bits in the salad are my favorite part.

It makes quite a bit, enough for 4 meals. Particularly if you pair it with some Trader Joe's pot stickers or a soup or something.