Okay, don’t even try to convince me that every once in a while you aren’t dying for a tiny taste of something sinful, and wish you could make a miniature little confection that is quick, easy, and not a killer in the calorie department.
Well, now you can!
NPR was where I first heard about these microwaved brownies-in-a-mug, so I certainly didn’t invent them. But I do think I have perfected a recipe that needed a little somethin’-somethin’. I heard the program weeks ago, but I was having a powerful craving last night, so I did a little internet research and gave it a whirl.
I inadvertently overcooked my brownie a little–it keeps cooking for a bit even after you remove it from the microwave–so go easy. But, even so, I wasn’t 100% sold, despite the fact that the recipe I tried had something like 5,000 “likes.”
I sent the recipe to my sister, Ginny, and she made one for our brownie-loving Papa, but he thought it was a little too rich in the chocolate department. So, back to my kitchen I went this evening, this time armed with some ideas for how to improve the brownie’s taste and texture, along with some So Delicious Almond Milk Ice Cream (vegan) and a fresh strawberry to perch on top.
YUM! A winner! All I needed was a name. My dear friend Sonya Harmon calls our “little” Great Dane (she’s smaller than her mate, Huff!) “Minnikins,” and I think that is the cutest name for our little gal. So, since these “mini” brownies are almost as cute, I thought they should be called “Brownikins.” Thank you, Sonya-kins!
Whatever you call them, you will love them!
And, by the way, you can certainly bake them in a mug as intended, but this recipe doesn’t begin to fill the mug, and I don’t like the brownie batter smeared on the sides after whisking the ingredients together. So, I whisk it up in a small cup and then transfer into a mini-ramekin (about 1/3 cup) for the cutest presentation ever with a melon ball size scoop of ice cream and baby strawberry. What’s one more mug to wash?
1 tablespoon canola oil or vegan butter melted
2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour (I use white whole wheat)
2 tablespoons natural sugar
2 teaspoons cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon or less sea salt (I love that little crunch of salt with the sugar. You won’t need much if you use salted vegan butter, but don’t omit, as it is needed for flavor.)
Accompaniments: vegan ice cream, a fresh strawberry, plus optional vegan chocolate sauce and vegan whipped topping
In a small cup (microwave safe if you plan to cook the brownie in the cup), whisk together melted butter or oil, water, and vanilla. Then whisk in all remaining dry ingredients. Whisk until smooth. If desired, transfer to a ceramic mini-ramekin and cook in a microwave oven on full power for 45 seconds or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or ever-so-slightly moist. Let sit for a couple of minutes before garnishing and serving.
Photo Note: Sorry about the quality of the photo. I was so excited with my creation, that I just snapped it with my phone sitting on the kitchen counter at 8 p.m.: no waiting for optimum lighting conditions!
My preferred venues are consignment stores, though I have had a little luck at thrift stores. I don’t want to spend a lot of time shopping–I like to dash into my two favorite consignment stores on the way home from Saturday morning yoga–and thrift stores require a bit more looking.
So, after yoga yesterday, I stopped in both Double Take and Worth the Wait looking for whatever, but needing a wrap to wear last night to a dance concert.
The dress (Fire Los Angeles) and necklace I wore–which drew compliments from strangers–came from Double take last spring. And the vegan shoes (Nine West) came from one or the other; I can’t remember which.
When I was at the counter purchasing the dress, I looked down into a jewelry case and spotted the necklace. Though the pieces came from different consignors, they were brilliant together! When a pairing like that is laid before you, it would be irresponsible not to accept the “gift”…or so my thinking goes.
Last year, I was taking the ensemble to San Miguel over Spring Break where our friend, Federico Correa, opened an art gallery, so I didn’t need a wrap. Here, though, the nights are still a wee bit cool and, certainly, performance venues can be a bit chilly. My next stop, Worth the Wai,t is currently sporting a wall of beautiful long, wide scarves. They were new, but they were perfect. So, I chose one in a lovely aqua-teal color, but when I got to the counter, I noticed there was a “run” in the fabric. There were no more scarves in that color, so I went to study the rainbow of choices again.
I hadn’t memorized all the colors in the dress before I left, so I was unsure. But my eyes lit on a multicolored striped one that I could almost swear contained ALL of the right colors. It would be a bold contrast and striking statement if it did; and an utter disaster if it didn’t. But I trusted my instincts, bought it, brought it home holding my breath, and it was perfect!
There are still 3 more weeks to celebrate Earth Month. So do it in style!
Recently, I returned from a Spring Break trip to visit my family where I made my Papa his favorite vegan brownies. But he and my Mama both have birthdays coming up, and I was reminded that his very favorite cake is German Chocolate. So, back home in Virginia and with German Chocolate Cake on my mind, I decided I had to make Papa’s favorite cake as pancakes.
My Vegan German Chocolate Pancakes with Coconut Pecan Maple Syrup are somewhat rich and filling, so I like to eat a stack of three because that looks so nice, but keep them on the smaller side, so as not to weigh myself down for the day. Other than the flour, soymilk, and pecans–and the coconut to some extent– there is not a lot of nutrition here, so be sure to serve this divine indulgence with a side of fruit and maybe a little vegan yogurt.
Also, in the “rich and filling” department, I have recently started making quesadillas using non-stick spray instead of my beloved canola oil-vegan butter mixture to grease the skillet. So, for the sake of calorie reduction, I decided to try it with these pancakes and was VERY happy with the results. But feel free to go for the higher calorie option if you want a bit more rich flavor. I generally use a couple of tablespoons of each for a 4-serving batch of pancakes.
Thanks to Alisa Free, the “Go Dairy Free” Queen, for publishing the recipe on her popular, one-of-a-kind site. Click HERE or on the link above to go straight to the recipe.
If you are gearing up for a Cinco de Mayo feast tonight or tomorrow, May 5, the actual day of the celebration–or if you are just Jonesin’ for some delicious vegan Mexican food–I invite you to visit VegNews online where you will find three more of my recipes to complement those featured in the May print edition of VegNews Magazine.
There wasn’t room for all of my creations, so just click on the link above, here or on the individual links below to go straight to Mexican food Nirvana with:
Here, baked chile rellenos meet chiles en almendra (almond sauce). The delectably creamy white sauce is the perfect complement for spicy salsa cruda.
Fresh summer and sundried tomatoes transform into a tasty sauce for these addicting enchiladas. And everything is better with cashew cream, no?
This sexy and refreshing sunset-colored sangria is almost too pretty to drink. Almost.
[Photo Credit: Vanessa K. Rees]
More searching turned up a vegan recipe, but it called for applesauce along with the mayo, and I don’t keep applesauce around. What I really wanted was a recipe that could be made from a standard baker’s pantry.
The whole experience of working with the *team at VegNews and in my own kitchen, trying out recipes on my friends (and on one friend’s horse, Rocky who loved the cilantro!), has been deliciously rewarding on every level.
I am humbled to be associated with VegNews, as it is the award-winning vegan magazine and website packed with recipes
Run, don’t walk, to the nearest newsstand–or better yet, subscribe to VegNews–to get your copy. Inside the May-June issue, you will find my tasty and easy take on:
Crispy Potato Tacos with Queso Fresco
Cheesy Spinach and Black Bean Quesadillas with Cucumber-Mango Salsa
Swiss Chard and Mushroom Tamales with Red Wine Sauce (Escabeche Sauce)
Churros with Coconut-Kahlua Chocolate Sauce
You will only find these recipes in the May-June print issue of VegNews Magazine (with additional recipes online). So, for the whole enchilada, as it were, be sure to pick up your copy as soon as it hits the stands!
*Olé (!) to my fabulous editor, Jennifer Chen, photographer, Vanessa K. Rees, and graphic designer, Sutton Long (who originally hails from Richmond, VA, right up I64). They brought my recipes to mouth-watering, eye-popping life!
Yield: 8 servings
As I’ve mentioned a few times lately, I am on a major “comfort food” kick, veganizing old recipes like Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole and much more.
With daylight savings time here and the promise of spring, I thought I was coming out of it. But when a recent day dawned gray and cold, I absolutely had to have a Frito Chili Pie.
The first one I ever remember tasting was on a 7th grade hay ride. Parent volunteers tore open individual size bags of Fritos and ladled in chili that we ‘tweens ate right out of the bag with plastic spoons. It was something fun and a little different in my 12 years of culinary experience.
When I created this recipe, I wasn’t serving a crowd, so I knew I would bake mine in layers. The question, though, was what kind of chili to make. I started poking around online, but all the recipes I found were for pretty straight-ahead chili, vegan or not. Though, I love so-called comfort food, it isn’t very comforting if it is a nutritional disaster, so my crusade to veganize old favorites has involved cleaning these recipe up a bit. And, for this, I decided to create my own spinach variety with smoky notes from a chipotle pepper in adobo.
The supremely satisfying result is hearty, healthy, spicy and colorful with wonderful textural variety. I feel almost virtuous digging into it. But Fritos are pretty high in calories and fat, so the trick here is portion control. Though this rendition is definitely a one dish meal, you may want to serve a side salad just to prevent yourself from overdoing it. That is, if you share my propensity for wanting to dive headlong into comforting casseroles.
I love the fact that a homey casserole can be served up in a “stack” to rival the appearance of restaurant fare and belie its homespun roots. Just click right HERE to go straight to the recipe at One Green Planet. Enjoy!
This is one of those recipes that any old-fashioned, self-respecting small town church cookbook would not be without!
I discovered the dish on a recent trip to visit my family in Mississippi following my mother’s serious surgery and long hospital stay. Their refrigerator was stuffed full of soups and casseroles from friends and neighbors, prepared with love and delivered with best wishes for a speedy recovery.
One of those casseroles, Poppy Seed Chicken, smelled delicious, though it wasn’t vegan, so I couldn’t partake. But, once home, I set about to recreate it.
I refrigerated it for a couple of days so that I could conduct a taste test, enjoying it as I would actually eat it. During that test, because I wasn’t mixing it with other food, I took TINY tastes, but I took quite a few in order to accurately compare these products to my standard Grapeseed Vegenaise. (Note: when I reference Vegenaise below, it is the Grapeseed variety.)
If, as a cookbook author (The Blooming Platter: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes, 2011), I have learned anything, it is that people’s palates are as different as the people themselves. So, I would be very hesitant to suggest that one product tastes “better” than another. Rather, I prefer to share what I perceive as differences, and encourage you to taste and decide on a preference for yourself. Plus, I think where one was brought up has more than a little to do with one’s preference!
All three products have a list of benefits as long as your arm! So, please visit the Nasoya website for complete nutrition information on Nayonaise as well as recipes. One benefit on the Nayonaise scorecard worth mentioning here is that it contains 10% of the recommended daily allowance of B-12 and is a good source of Omega-3 ALA.
But, in general, I focused on color, taste and texture in my informal test. However, those of you counting calories might appreciate knowing that Nayonaise has less than half as many calories as Vegenaise: 40 vs. 90 per tablespoon.
In terms of color, Vegenaise is the whitest. So if pure color is important to your recipe, I would recommend it. Both Nayonaise varieties have a pale warmth to their color, with the Whipped version having the most. This is likely due to the inclusion of turmeric, paprika and garlic powder in the ingredients of both Nayonaise products.
In terms of taste, I found Vegenaise to be the most neutral. Again, the turmeric, paprika and garlic powder no doubt give the Nayonaise a more distinctive flavor. Distinctive is not necessarily better–or worse– just a little more pronounced, so I would make a decision based on how I planned to use it.
To my palate, Vegenaise has decidedly tangy-salty notes (though the lowest amount of sodium), while I found tanginess with just a hint of sweetness to be the most pronounced characteristic of Nayonaise and tangy-sweetness to be the most pronounced of Nayonaise–Whipped (which has just 5 more mg. of sodium than Vegenaise). The differences in “tang” can no doubt be explained, in part, by the fact that apple cider vinegar (a fairly mild vinegar, as vinegars go) is the 4th ingredient listed on the Vegenaise label, while plain vinegar is the third ingredient listed on the Nayonaise labels.
It has been many years since I tasted non-vegan mayo but, based on my best recollection, I would suggest that Vegenaise perhaps has more in common with Hellman’s mayonnaise while Nayonaise with a sandwich spread like Miracle Whip. I always felt that Miracle Whip tasted like it contained pickle relish, and I detected the same hints from, especially, the Nayonaise–Whipped. I love pickle relish, but not necessarily in every recipe that calls for mayonnaise, so I would choose accordingly.
And, finally, in terms of texture, while all were creamy, I would say that Vegenaise is fluffier than Nayonaise, including the Whipped variety, which I didn’t find appreciably different in texture than the non-whipped. Nayonaise contains Xanthan Gum and Guar Gum which probably accounts for what I can only describe as a consistency similar to a condensed canned soup before it is heated, a texture I didn’t perceive in Vegenaise.
So, that’s it: the results of my quickie taste test. Thanks, again, to Nasoya for sharing their new take on Nayonaise with me so that I could share it with you. We now have two new options for slathering on our fresh tomato sandwiches this summer!