Monthly Archives: October 2011

Cinnamon Rolls

When I think of Halloween, I think of fall… pumpkins… having fun… dressing up (more fun)… and let’s face it – SUGAR!!  If you have kids (or are a big kid at heart), you’ve probably been pretty busy lately going to pumpkin patches and Halloween parades.  For Halloween this year, I’ve decided to share with you my most recent, most favorite, most-sugary, non-candy, yummy homemade treat… a.k.a cinnamon rolls!

I have warm fuzzy memories of eating cinnamon rolls throughout my life… There’s the Pillsbury ones I used to eat as a kid that you popped right out of the refrigerated tube & baked… & there’s the ready-made, full-of-preservatives boxed kind (that sit on store shelves for days before being eaten)… sadly(?), neither are vegan – which I have decided is probably a good thing! If you are vegan, you probably know it is practically impossible to find a vegan cinnamon roll, let alone a freshly baked one.

Once upon a time, there was a vegan bakery here in Athens (the Green Scene Baking Company) that made some out-of-this-world delicious vegan cinnamon rolls, baked fresh on the weekends, but the Green Scene sadly closed a few years ago when the owner decided to move to New York 😦 We miss you, Green Scene!

I definitely have a love affair with sugar, and I have dreamed of making cinnamon rolls for what seems like FOREVER. I’ve long ago book-marked all my cinnamon roll recipes in my books, but still kept putting off making them.  I guess they just seemed like too much work or time.  Well, let me just say, there is definitely something to be said for homemade cinnamon rolls.  For one thing, they do take some effort (kneading the dough… and being patient while the dough rises), but that effort turns into the most delicious treat that you simply cannot replicate from a can. Personally, I think rolling & cutting the cinnamon log is fun!  I was practically drooling from the anticipation of eventually eating one!

So, make these yummies and pat yourself on the back (or tummy) for doing some actual work!  I promise you, these babies are so much better than store-bought rolls or tubes. They are worth the extra effort!  If you have a mixer with a bread hook, let it do most of the work for you!  If not, get those arm muscles ready to knead some dough!

~Cinnamon Rolls~

Dough:

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup soymilk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 pack yeast (or 2  1/4 tsp if you are using yeast from a jar)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2  1/2 –  3 cups all-purpose flour

Filling:

  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup chopped nuts, like pecans or walnuts (optional)
  • 1/2 cup softened earth balance (or other soy margarine)
  • a little raw sugar to sprinkle on top before rolling the dough

Icing:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • < 2 Tbsp almond or soymilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

RITA’s TIP: I like to let my mixing bowl sit with some hot water in it to warm it up first. Just don’t forget to dump it out before starting your recipe!

First, make the dough:

Heat the water, soymilk & sugar in a small saucepan until warm.  If it’s too hot, it will kill the yeast – if it’s too cold, the yeast won’t grow, so think like Goldilocks and make sure it’s just right! Put in the dough-mixer bowl. (I have a Kitchen-Aid mixer with a bread hook attachment.)  Add the yeast and wait until its bubbly/foamy looking, so you know the yeast is “alive”.  Add the oil, cinnamon, salt and 2  1/2 cups flour.  Mix (using bread/dough hook) until it’s not sticking to the sides, adding more flour as necessary.  If you do not have a mixer with a bread hook, you will have to knead this by hand!  Knead for 5-7 minutes until dough is nice and smooth.  (Don’t skimp on the minutes here – the kneading process is vital (no pun intended) to making the gluten activated in the dough.) Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a towel, and let rise for 1 hour in a warm place.

Make the filling by mixing the filling ingredients together while the dough is rising and set it aside.  After dough has risen, punch it down and then let it rest about 10 minutes. Then roll out the dough into a large rectangle (try to shoot for a large rectangle, 12″ x 18″).

Spread the filling evenly over the dough and give it a little (or a generous) sprinkle of raw sugar. Next, carefully roll the dough as tight as you can into a big log, pinching it closed when you get to the end (spread a little water on the edge to help seal it shut).

Cut the log into 12 rolls.  I like to cut it in half and then cut each half into 6 even pieces.  They should roughly be 1″ thick.

Arrange them, slightly spaced out, on either a baking sheet or a 9 x 13″ pan.  As you can see, I first used a round baking dish but the rolls got too big and were popping out as they were baking, so I would recommend not using a small round pan. Give them a little room to rise and cover them loosely with plastic wrap or a towel*.  Let the rolls rise for another 30-40 minutes until almost doubled.

* At this point, if you tightly wrap the prepared rolls, you can put them in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.  When ready to bake them, take them out of the fridge & let them come to room temp for about 30 minutes and then wait until they double in size before baking.

The rolls looked good in this pan until they grew more in the oven and were popping out!

Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes, or until rolls are golden and sound hollow when tapped.  Let the rolls cool for about 5 minutes – in the meantime, prepare the icing by mixing ingredients together well with a fork in a small bowl. Drizzle the icing on the warm cinnamon rolls and ENJOY!

This is after baking...See how they are all popping up and out of the pan?! I would recommend using a different pan with more room for them to grow! This is before I put icing on them.

The end result - a stunningly delicious homemade cinnamon roll!

P.S. I came up with this recipe after reviewing several other cinnamon roll recipes, taking & giving here and there… I have only made these once, so feel free (as always) to comment and give me some feedback!  I decided to only make these on special occasions or when I have guests because there is no excuse to eat 2-3 cinnamon rolls a day by oneself!  Not to mention, my kids tried to eat one for every meal!

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Butternut Squash Soup

Lately time has been passing by so quickly.  I really can’t believe that Halloween is almost here and then we will be heading towards Thanksgiving… & then Christmas!! Well, I’m glad the holidays are coming up.  I am definitely the kind of person that actually enjoys being with family for the holidays.  In that sense, the holidays can’t come fast enough. Speaking of holiday gatherings, I made this soup at my family’s last Thanksgiving feast. Need I say, it was a huge hit.  I think this soup is perfect for holiday gatherings.  The kids loved it, it is easy and can be made rather quickly. If you have a emulsion blender (the stick-like blender you “stir” with, if you will) it is even faster to make this as you wont have to dirty up your food processor to purée.  One thing you surely won’t have to wash are the serving bowls – they will be licked clean!

~Butternut Squash Soup~

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • olive oil (2-3 Tbsp)
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 tsp dry ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups soymilk
  • 2-3 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp mustard
  • 1/2 Tbsp salt
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot flour

First, cut the butternut squash in half, de-seed it & lay it flat side down on a baking sheet (I usually cover the baking sheet with tin foil and lightly oil it first).  Roast at 400 F for 50-60 minutes until soft. Once it is done, remove the squash from the oven and let it cool while you assemble the rest of the soup.

Saute the onion in 2-3 Tbsp oil in a large stockpot & set aside.  Add the broth to the stockpot.  (NOTE * If you do not have an emulsion blender, you will want to puree the sautéed onion first in the food processor with about 1-2 cups of broth.) Next, add all the other ingredients (except the squash) to the stockpot.

When the butternut squash is cool enough,  scoop the yummy out of the shell. If you are using a food processor, puree the squash before adding it to the stockpot.  If you are using an emulsion blender, just plop the butternut squash into the stockpot, & puree away.  Heat until ready to serve & ENJOY!

Mmmmm... I think I can hear it calling me!

This soup is gluten-free and can be made soy-free as well if you use a different non-dairy milk, such as almond milk. Honestly, I haven’t ever tried it that way, but I’m sure it would be just as delicious! Oh – I almost forgot to tell you – this soup freezes well… and yes, I suppose I have ‘a thing’ for orange soup! 🙂

Fettuccine NoAlfredo

So this is my vegan version of Fettuccine Alfredo…  I have always wanted to try making an alfredo sauce using cashew cream (surely an awesome recipe like that exists out there somewhere)… however…I LOVE the way this sauce turns out so much that I always end up saying, “I’ll try using cashews next time!” and then I keep making this one again and again and again and again! (It’s truly that good!) I prefer to use the Vegan Gourmet brand of mozzarella soy cheese in this recipe.  Serve with some sliced & buttered French bread on the side. This recipe always gets my kids to happily clean their plates… and there really isn’t anything much better than that!

~Fettucini No-Alfredo~

Saute in a little olive oil & set aside:

  • 1 small (or 1/2 of a large) yellow onion
  • 4 cloves chopped garlic

To make the sauce, puree the following in a food processor:

  • 1 block xtra-firm silken tofu (i like the MoriNu brand)
  • < 1/4 cup vegenaise (vegan mayo)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup soymilk
  • 1 tsp arrowroot flour (or perhaps cornstarch)*
  • heaping 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 cup shredded (packed) Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet mozzarella soy cheese
  • the onion & garlic mixture from above
  • pinch nutmeg, pinch cayenne pepper
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • fresh basil for the top (or you can mix in 2 tsp dry basil to the sauce)
  • 2 packs regular fettuccine noodles (I usually use DuBoles)

*I initally used the arrowroot flour as a thickening agent, though since it is such a small amount, I honestly don’t know if it is really a neccessary ingredient.  If you don’t have any arrowroot, I wouldn’t sweat it.

After you have made your sauce, heat it over medium heat in a saucepan, whisking often. It’s okay to let it bubble a little, but don’t let it boil rapidly.  You should probably keep a cover on it so it doesn’t splatter. Turn heat to low until noodles are done, but continue whisking every minute or two.

Cook fettuccine noodles according to the package.  Drain noodles & toss them with the sauce, or if you prefer, plate noodles and then top with sauce & fresh basil. Serve with sliced bread, if desired, & ENJOY!

Gathering the ingredients...

Now you see it... now you don't!

Veggie Meatloaf

I have always been somewhat hesitant to try a vegan meatloaf… the ones I have made in the past weren’t the greatest, to say the least, so I hadn’t tried to make one in a while.  However… I made this the other night and was pleasantly surprised with the delicious outcome!  In fact, I have been tempted to call this recipe “Veggie MeatLove”!

If you can get tofu in bulk, I strongly recommend using that.  If you are using the water-packed kind of tofu in a tub, drain & press the tofu before crumbling it.  (Pressing tofu is when you set it on a plate wrapped in a towel and put something heavy on it, such as a big fat cookbook, for about 15 minutes to draw out more water.)

~Veggie “Meatloaf”~

(makes 4 single serving “loaves” / makes 4  4×6″ rectangles about 1″ high)

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 green pepper, minced
  • 2 cups crumbled veggie beef (I recommend 5 crumbled Veggie Burgers of your choice)
  • 2 Tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce (the brand Annie’s is popular – regular Worcestershire contains anchovies)
  • 1 regular sized block of xtra-firm tofu, drained & crumbled
  • 1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1 cup walnut pieces
  • 4 Tbsp ketchup
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp each salt, pepper
  • 1  1/2 tsp fresh rosemary (or 1/2 tsp dried)
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Grease/oil 2 rectangular baking pans.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet & add onion, garlic & peppers.  Saute until translucent.  Add “beef” and vegan Worcestershire.  Cook on med heat, stirring often, about 20 minutes, until its nice and browned.

In food processor, combine all else until fully well-blended.  Combine all the ingredients and mix well.  Warning : this mixture will be very sticky!

WET HANDS THOROUGHLY!!  Form into 4 “loaves” (four 4×6″ rectangles, 1″ thick) – The trick here is to wet your hands often to keep it from sticking.  Trust me- you will need to keep wetting your hands in order to form these loaves! Place 2 in each prepared pan, separated so they are not touching each other or the sides of the pan. Bake the pans on the middle oven rack for about 25-30 minutes. Flip the loaves & bake for another 25-30 minutes or until each side is well browned (add a little more oil if you think necessary). Cool at least 5 minutes before serving.

Top with gravy or ketchup and serve alongside your favorite sides like cauliflower mashed potatoes & collards or sautéed kale! Mmmmm!

I adapted this recipe from the Grit’s (Athens best vegetarian restaurant) cookbook! There are tons of great recipes for vegetarians & vegans- like their yeast gravy!  Click here to order the Grit Cookbook!