Friday Favorite: Pumpkin Everything!

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So this week’s Friday Favorite is kind of a cop-out. I didn’t really make any of my standby recipes this week, so I figured that instead I’d go generic with this one. And by generic, I mean I’m focusing on a single fruit that is definitely an autumn favorite: pumpkin!

Just yesterday I told you about the pumpkin French toast I made to accompany a tofu scramble. What I didn’t tell you was why I decided to make it in the first place. You see, a week or so ago, I made a mistake I hadn’t made for two years: during a rushed trip to the grocery store, I accidentally purchased a can of pumpkin pie mix instead of plain old pumpkin puree. My wrath when I realized my careless error was towering, but eventually it subsided and laziness edged out my anger. Instead of returning the mix, I decided to use it. It was the perfect choice for the French toast mixture; I just used less almond milk because the pie mix is more liquidy than regular pumpkin puree. After the bread had finished soaking in its their pumpkin-y bath, I had a soupy mixture of mostly pumpkin, almond milk, and spices left. It seemed a waste to throw it out, so… I made it into muffins.

Close-up of a white rectangular plate corner with a pumpkin muffin in focus. In the back left is another muffin, this one out of focus, and in the back right is a small orange gourd.

Gourd!

Yep, that’s pretty much exactly what I did last time I accidentally purchased pie mix. These muffins, though, were about 50% more delicious than the ones I made last time. They’re also a little less healthy, but them’s the breaks. I’m pretty proud of these muffins, actually. Usually when I create a recipe from scratch, I measure out my ingredients, just to get a sense of how much of each is going into the batter or the dough. For these muffins, though, I went on intuition alone, adding a pinch here and a scoop there and trusting my baking skillz to tell me when the batter was ready. And you know what? My baking skillz must be pretty darn good these days, because my muffins turned out pretty darn well – fluffy, moist, and sweet-but-not-too-sweet. You can’t go wrong with molasses, dark brown sugar, and pumpkin pie spices!

How strong are your intuitive baking skillz? What do you do with accidental/unwanted purchases?

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Friday Favorite: Cheater Pad Thai

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Like it was on the first Friday of MoFo, this week’s Friday Favorite is also a vegan staple. I guess that means that the recipes I repeat most often are simple ones that feature pantry staples. Makes sense, right?

This week’s favorite is a dish I make on a nearly monthly basis. It usually starts with S requesting “peanut noodles” for dinner, after which I clarify that he is indeed talking about this dish. From there, it’s a quick twenty minutes till dinner is on the table. And what’s dinner? It’s the Cheater Pad Thai from the Happy Herbivore Cookbook.

Top-down view of a white dish with wide rice noodles, broccoli, peanut sauce, and a drizzle of sriracha.

Peanutty!

Lindsay calls this “cheater” pad thai because it uses peanut butter (which goes against her no-added-fat approach), but I call it a cheater recipe because it’s so damn easy yet tastes so good. The recipe is incredibly versatile – you can add any veggies you have on hand. I usually go with broccoli, like I did this week. Snow peas are also a fine choice. The recipe does call for bean sprouts, but I occasionally omit them if I don’t feel like making a trip to the store before cooking dinner. I always add a sprinkle of fresh lime juice, though, and I always use way more than a single tablespoon of peanut butter in the sauce. ;)

What’s your go-to noodle recipe? Which Happy Herbivore recipes do you love?

Friday Favorite: Creamy Avocado Pasta

White MoFo fist logo on an orange background with the text "Friday Favorite: Creamy Avocado Pasta."

White MoFo fist logo on an orange background with the text "Vegan Staples: Noodles!"

This post is a twofer – it’s a Friday Favorite (one of my favorite recipes) and a Vegan Staple (an example of how to spice up a fallback vegan food item). This recipe is doing double duty!

S and I share a document on Google Docs (‘scuse me, Google Drive) titled “Yummy Things We’ve Cooked.” Its contents are exactly what you’d imagine – a list of dishes we’ve prepared, eaten, and enjoyed. It’s our go-to source when we’re strained, stressed, or just plain stumped at dinnertime. The dishes in the document range from complex (see: vegan pho) to ridiculously easy (see: colcannon). On the “ridiculously easy” end of the spectrum is one of our top choices for a quick, simple, and satisfying meal – the 15-Minute Creamy Avocado Pasta from the wonderful Angela at Oh She Glows. (Or, as S titled this dish in our document, “Creamy noodles of some kind… what was it?”)

The concept is simple – you just blend a ripe avocado with lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, basil, and salt and toss the resulting sauce with your favorite noodles. Avocado blends like a dream, creating a luscious sauce that perfectly clings to your noodles. The result is a creamy, rich, and incredibly satisfying dish.

Top-down view of a small white plate with a pile of white noodles coated in a creamy, light green sauce. The noodles are topped with black pepper and a single whole basil leaf.

Noodly perfection.

The beauty of this dish is that it’s incredibly versatile – don’t like lots of garlic? Use a single clove! Don’t have fresh basil? Omit it! And you can use any type of  noodles – on this occasion, S picked up some locally made black olive and garlic fettuccini, which lent the dish a little extra flavor. Spaghetti or even soba noodles are fine choices, too.

Although we usually eat this dish alone – it’s deceptively filling! – it’d be fantastic with a slice of fresh crusty bread or a simple side salad. If you’re looking for a low-effort, high-rewards dish to add to your meal rotation, try this one – you can thank me later.

What’s your quick weeknight meal of choice? Which OhSheGlows recipes are your favorites?

Friday Favorite: Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

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Today’s Friday Favorite is – gasp – not a Happy Herbivore recipe. Shocking, I know. Nor is it a savory recipe like the last two have been. Instead, it’s a sweet recipe from my very first (and much-loved, if currently underused) vegan cookbook: Vegan with a Vengeance. VwaV is full of tried-and-true recipes, and I’ll likely include them in future Friday Favorite posts. But today I want to highlight a relatively simple recipe that I’ve made repeatedly, and always with excellent results.

An upturned palm holding two small chocolate cookies with jam in the center; one is filled with a light orange apricot jam and the other is filled with a red cherry jam.

Cooooookies.

Check out my vintage food photography, circa 2009! I’m holding the Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies here. One is filled with cherry jam, and the other with apricot. I can never decide which variety I like best – usually it’s the one I’m eating at the moment. :) I’ve made these cookies quite a few times, and I posted about them here when I brought them to a gathering of friends.

I always adjust the recipe, substituting vegetable oil for the peanut oil and extra vanilla extract for the almond extract, to make it nut-free for my family and friends with allergies. However, I once made an experimental version with peanut butter swirls and peanut butter centers, rendering them totally unfit for folks with allergies, but also totally delicious for those of us who can partake of peanuts. No matter how much I tinker with this recipe, I always get the most delicious, chewy morsels of chocolate-y goodness. And that, friends, is the sign of a worthy Friday Favorite.

What’s your most tried-and-true cookie recipe? What recipes do you love from VwaV?

Friday Favorite: Happy Herbivore’s Eggless Salad

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I don’t know about you, but egg salad was something I always simultaneously enjoyed and dreaded in my youth. Half of me wanted to find an egg salad sandwich in my lunch box, but the other half of me was wary of egg salad’s most noticeable side effect: that vaguely sulfuric and extremely pungent egg odor. You can’t discreetly eat an egg salad sandwich; everybody in a ten-foot radius knows what’s goin’ down at the lunch table when you’re munching one. But them’s the breaks of eating eggs!

As vegans, we generally don’t encounter egg odors. So you’d think that this week’s Friday Favorite, Happy Herbivore’s Eggless Salad, would be free of olfactory offenses. Not so! This recipe includes black salt, also known as kala namak, and if you’re not familiar with it, here’s a breakdown: it’s not black and it’s highly sulfuric. So it’s perfect for adding a distinctly eggy flavor and aroma to otherwise egg-less goods! Isa Chandra Moskowitz pioneered the use of black salt in Vegan Brunch, and Lindsay uses it to great effect in this tofu-based salad. I’ve enjoyed her Eggless Salad in the past, and this time was no different. Yesterday, I ate it in a pita pocket with a few leftover collard leaves:

Two pitas stacked on top of each other, filled with a light yellow crumbled tofu and a couple collard leaves.

Pocket salad.

Yum yum in my tum. I know I’m not the only one who enjoys this super simple salad; LJ has posted about it more than once at her MoFo blog this month!

I should say, though, that if you haven’t eaten eggs in a while, it’s definitely a little jarring to eat black salt-laden foods because the similarity to eggs is uncanny. But if you’re looking for an eggy flavor to add variety to your eats, give black salt a try! I found mine in an Indian grocery store back in Rhode Island, and it was only a few dollars for a bag that will last me years. Win!

Have you tried black salt? If so, how do you like to use it? How do you feel about pungent foods?

Friday Favorite: Happy Herbivore’s Cheddar Cheesy Sauce

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Whew. One week of MoFo down, three more to go! I put my game face on for the first week, and I think I did pretty well – not only are all my posts fairly solid, but my brownie showdown post was mentioned on the official MoFo Twitter (!) on Wednesday. I’m famous! But I’m also a little worn out. Keeping up with 700+ blogs during a regular work week is no easy task, and a girl’s gotta do other things than eat and sort through her Google Reader, y’know? So today I’m taking it easy and keeping it short with my first Friday Favorite post.

A bowl of linguine and peas with a light coating of a "cheesy" sauce.

Cheesy! And over-sharpened. Oops.

One of my go-to recipes from Happy Herbivore‘s cookbook is her Cheddar Cheesy Sauce (recipe available here with a different name). It’s quick and easy to whip up, and it always hits the spot when I’m craving a warm, creamy sauce for my pasta. I usually make half a recipe, which is a great serving size for one person. Most recently, I enjoyed it with Ezekiel sprouted-grain linguine (another favorite!) and peas. I pulled together this whole dinner in barely 20 minutes. You can’t beat that!

If you don’t like nutritional yeast, this sauce probably won’t do it for you. But if you do, and if you’re craving a low-fat – yet flavorful! – cheesy sauce, give this one a try.

What’s your favorite go-to recipe? What’s your favorite vegan mac & cheese recipe?

Spoiler alert: A future recipe showdown will compare three (3) mac & cheese recipes. Get excited! Give me your recommendations! Etc!