Papa’s Vegan Blueberry and Spinach Smoothie (Bonus: Meets Full Liquid Diet Requirements)

(Photography Note: TODAY is the day I am going to buy a new camera!  As I mentioned previously, the one that had served me well for so long went on the fritz in June and my phone really doesn’t take very good photos as you can see here. So I apologize for the quality …definitely not up to Blooming Platter standards!)

On Saturday, July 7, I flew to MS to drive with my folks the next day to Ochsner’s Hospital (The Mayo Clinic of the South) in New Orleans where my robust 84 year old father had some surgery the next day.  (My papa, Byron Gough, still works part-time as an engineer for Howard Industries, the largest transformer manufacturer in the world!)

He came through it like a rock star thanks to the expert medical team at Ochsner’s and his overall excellent health and attitude.  We were relieved to learn that the orders for a week on a Clear Liquid Diet were incorrect and that he needed to be on the much less restrictive “Full Liquid Diet” followed by a week on the “Nissen Soft Diet.”

The Full Liquid Diet is a bit of a misnomer as it allows strained purees.  So, after I drove them home on Wednesday and before I came back to Virginia yesterday, I set about trying to figure out how to get enough tasty and appetizing calories and nutrition in him.  I plan to post a couple of the soups I created, one with fresh homegrown tomatoes, as they certainly didn’t look or taste like “recuperation food”!

In the meantime, though, I wanted to share this smoothie recipe.  Lots of folk,s it seem,s are “juicing” and I have nothing against fresh juices.  I find them very refreshing, in fact.  (Hampton Roads residents: if you haven’t yet tried the new Fruitive at Hilltop, I highly recommend!)  However, I love all of the fiber that comes from using whole fruits and vegetables as well as the protein that comes from soymilk in a smoothie.  But the juice movement did encourage me to start incorporating dark leafy greens into mine.
This vitamin- and protein-packed version is a beautiful color, ultra smooth and creamy, and a perfect balance of tastes.

Yield: 4+ cups

2 cups unsweetened soymilk (app. 160 calories)
1 cup lightly packed baby spinach (app 10 calories)
1 cup frozen blueberries (app 85 calories) [blueberries must be frozen; if not, try adding a handful of ice, but make sure your blender can crush ice] 4 tablespoons orange juice concentrate OR 4 tablespoons of soy yogurt OR 2 tablespoons of each (app 100-110 calories)
Stevia or your favorite no calorie sweetener to taste (0 calories)

Optional Garnish: fresh mint sprigs.

Place all ingredients in a blender container. Stir them gently to combine with a long-handled spoon. Process on the highest speed until smooth, stopping two or three times to stir and press down any unincorporated ingredients if necessary.  Pour into glasses, garnish if desired and serve, preferably with a straw.

Total Calories for Entire Recipe (all amounts were rounded up, so it is a little less than this): 365 calories


Where can you find more delicious vegan recipes that make the most of the season?  Check out The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes!
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Bloomin’ Best Vegan Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Butter Muffins

Yield:12 regular size (not super size!) muffins

I received such rave reviews on my recently created Bloomin’ Best Vegan Peanut Butter and Apple Muffins that I decided to try my luck with a sweet potato version. 

I know, I know…for a seasonal cook to be using sweet potatoes in May seems anethma.  But, our farmer’s market leaves their spuds in a cold cellar over the winter so that once the market opens again in the spring, its customers are treated to beautiful golden sweet potatoes.

I planned to make the sweet potato version of the muffins exactly like the peanut butter and apple inspiration, but I needed a substitute for the creamy moisture of the peanut butter.  Fortunately I remembered a gift of some unopened pumpkin butter (which contains no dairy despite the name) from my sister-in-law.  Its moisture content is even higher than peanut butter, though both are thick and creamy, so these muffins are  more delectably moist than their forebears.  Both are delicious.

Enjoy whenever sweet potatoes are in season–or brought out of the cold cellar–in your neck of the woods!

1/2 cup pumpkin butter

1/2 cup canola oil

1/2 cup unsweetened soymilk (you can use plain, but you might want to slightly decrease the sugar)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup natural sugar

2 cups white whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

Pinch ground allspice

Pinch ground cinnamon

Pinch ground cloves

3 cups finely grated sweet potatoes, skin on (fine like food processor-fine)

Line muffin cups with papers or oil well with nonstick spray.  In a large mixing bowl, stir together pumpkin butter, canola oil, soy milk and vanilla until well combined.  Stir in sugar, flour, baking powder and baking soda just until a smooth batter forms.  Then stir in grated sweet potatoes only until incorporated.  Divide evenly among prepared muffin cups and bake for 20 minute or until a toothpick inserted in the center of one comes out clean.  Allow to cool about 10 minutes in the pan and then remove to cool completely or to enjoy while warm.

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Bloomin’ Best Vegan Peanut Butter and Apple Muffins

Yield:12 regular size (not super size!) muffins

Chunky natural peanut butter spread on apple wedges is one of my favorite snacks from childhood.  So, this week when I was craving a  wholesome and nostalgic baked good, I figured the combination would be scrumptious in a moist muffin.  And it is!

Normally, I would load up an apple batter with warm spices, but I didn’t want them to overpower the peanut butter flavor and aroma.  So I just used a pinch of allspice, cinnamon and cloves.   But feel free to adjust to suit your taste.

Not too dense, but not light like a cupcake either these muffins are the epitome of balance in every way.

I know apples are not typically a spring fruit, but our farm market does have Virginia-grown ones in the warm months.  You’ll love this recipe whenever apples are in season in your area.

1/2 cup chunky natural peanut butter warmed slightly in the microwave or in a saucepan on top of the stove (smooth would probably work just great as well)

1/2 cup canola oil

1/2 cup unsweetened soymilk (you can use plain, but you might want to slightly decrease the sugar)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup natural sugar

2 cups white whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

Pinch ground allspice

Pinch ground cinnamon

Pinch ground cloves

2 large apples, cored and very finely chopped; approximately 3 cups (fine like food processor-fine)

Line muffin cups with papers or oil well with nonstick spray.  In a large mixing bowl, stir together peanut butter, canola oil, soy milk and vanilla until well combined.  Stir in sugar, flour, baking powder and baking soda just until a smooth batter forms.  Then stir in chopped apples only until incorporated.  Divide evenly among prepared muffin cups and bake for 20 minute or until a toothpick inserted in the center of one comes out clean.  Allow to cool about 10 minutes in the pan and then remove to cool completely or to enjoy while warm.

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Vegan Migas with Green Tomato-Chile Sauce from The Blooming Platter Cookbook and San Miguel Allende with Love

Spring Break came last week and not a moment to soon.  As my husband said in his typically understated manner, “It was a well-timed vacation.”  It began at the end of Week 5 of our 14 year old Auzzie Shepherd’s recuperation from a broken toe (thanks to a bite from our over-zealous miniature Great Dane) during which time I have been sleeping on an inflatable bed in our family room (!) and carrying her out to go potty and back in, not to mention worrying about her increasingly weak hips and legs, the result of age and neurological decline.  However, a total hip replacement on one side and a hip reconstruction on the other at age 2 have served her well until now!

But that ‘s a story for a different day.  My vacation week began with a solo trip to visit my family in MS.  The weather was beautiful, so we spent a lot of time outside.  I especially enjoyed planting a variety of annuals with my parents.  My last night there, Tuesday, we drove 90 minutes to an airport hotel in Jackson since my plane left so early the next morning,.  There we enjoyed an indoor picnic supper–vegan, of course (my omnivorous family is so solicitous)–in the hotel’s lobby area.  Since my sister’s birthday is in March and my parents’ and mine are in May, we decided to celebrate while I was home.  So, our picnic concluded with my Chocolate Carrot Cake, found in The Blooming Platter Cookbook, baked as cupcakes.  I frosted them with a dense, delicious, and dark mousse “frosting” made from tofu and melted dark chocolate, topping them with candles.  They traveled well in our cooler and were a huge hit.

On Wednesday morning, I flew to Dallas to meet my husband, Joe, from where we flew to San Miguel Allende, Mexico, to attend the formal opening of our friends Don Bell and Federico Correa’s brand new gallery “Arte Correa.”  What a joyful occasion and an honor to be included in the festivities.  Don, the gallery manager, and his partner, Federico, a humble but gifted and powerful painter, were the consummate hosts, doing way too much for everyone else–beginning with a huge flower arrangement delivered to our hotel room–despite the fact that we were there to celebrate their achievement.

And Carmen, of Casa Luna, a villa which we were fortunate to call home for three nights, was the consummate hostess, tending to our every need.  For the record, San Miguel Allende–a UNESCO World Heritage Site–is a VERY safe place to travel.  It is a lovely and entirely cobblestoned town high in the hills of central Mexico, dating from the 16th century, Mexico’s Colonial era.  (Don calls San Miguel “the Williamsburg of Mexico”–ha!)

But, as Carmen says, “Don’t check your brain at the border,” by which she means people should not do foolish things including those that they wouldn’t even do in their own towns, say, a couple of women visiting a city park on their own at night.  American tourism is down by 80% and San Miguel’s  economy is suffering.  It’s not inexpensive to get there, but you will be handsomely rewarded by the charms of one of the most beautiful towns in North America.  And we were doubly rewarded: American Airlines inexplicably upgraded us to First Class for our 3 hour flight home from Dallas to Norfolk!  What a perfect ending to a charmed vacation.

I’m fairly sure it would be impossible to find a bad meal in San Miguel, and that includes from the street vendors.  (I wish the corn ice cream sold from a truck at the “Jardin” was vegan!)  In particular, be sure to visit Cafe Rama, the subject of an upcoming post.  However, it was the green chile sauce at El Pegaso, one of Don and Federico’s favorite restaurants, on my “custom” refried bean enchiladas that reminded me of the tofu Migas with Green Tomato-Chile Sauce in my cookbook.

I hope you’ll enjoy…and book the next flight to San Miguel!

Migas with Green Tomato-Chile Sauce

Yield: 4 servings

Migas is traditionally a Tex-Mex scramble of eggs, tortillas, cheese, spices, and fresh vegetables topped with a zesty sauce. My version is an addicting combination of tofu, sautéed tortillas, and a host of bright flavors. I love this dish so much, I could eat it morning, noon, or night! Topped with my Tomato-Chili Sauce, this recipe is a great way to use fresh green tomatoes, although you can top the migas with your favorite salsa if you don’t have time to make the green tomato-chile sauce.

2 tablespoons canola oil, divided

1 small yellow onion, chopped

1/2 orange bell pepper, chopped

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 cloves garlic minced

4 corn tortillas, torn into bite size pieces

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle powder

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, divided

14 ounces extra-firm tofu, pressed and drained

4 tablespoons minced cilantro

4 tablespoons vegan sour cream

2 Roma tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

Green tomato-chili sauce (recipe follows)

4 lime wedges and 4 cilantro sprigs for garnish

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper and a pinch of salt, and sauté until softened, 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until it turns golden and the onion becomes translucent. Move the vegetables over to the side of the skillet with your spoon and add the remaining 1 tablespoon canola oil. Add the tortillas to the oil and stir to coat, then stir to combine with the vegetables and sauté 1 to 2 minutes or until the tortillas soften and turn golden.

2. In a medium bowl, break up the tofu into irregular bite-size pieces. Add the cumin, coriander, chipotle powder, and 1 tablespoon of the nutritional yeast, and mix well to combine. Add the tofu mixture to the skillet and gently scramble for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to scrape up browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Reduce the heat and add a small amount of water if the migas begin to stick. Add the remaining tablespoon of nutritional yeast and continue cooking for 5 more minutes. Check the seasoning. Remove the skillet from the heat.

3. To serve: Transfer to a serving platter or individual plates. Spoon the green tomato chili sauce over the migas and pass any extra. Sprinkle the minced cilantro over the sauce, add dollops of sour cream, and sprinkle with diced tomatoes and pumpkin seeds. Garnish with lime wedges and cilantro sprigs.

Green Tomato-Chile Sauce

Yield: about 1 1/2 cups

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon chipotle powder

Pinch natural sugar

Sea salt

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons water

2 large green tomatoes, quartered

2 (2-inch) jalapeños, seeds removed

1/2 cup vegetable stock

1 tablespoon canola oil

1/3 cup chopped yellow or orange bell pepper

1/3 cup chopped red onion

2 large gloves garlic, minced

1. In a food processor, combine the tomatoes, jalapeños, and vegetable stock. Process until smooth and set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and bell pepper, and cook for 2 minutes to soften. Add the garlic and continue to cook, stirring, until the garlic softens and the onion becomes translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the coriander, cumin, chipotle powder, sugar and salt to taste. Stir well.

3. Sprinkle with flour, followed by 3 tablespoons of water. Stir well again. Add the tomato-chili puree, stir again, and simmer for about 20 minutes to allow all flavors to marry. Stir frequently and reduce heat if necessary to prevent sauce from sticking. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside until ready to serve.

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Vegan Orange Date-Nut Pancakes

Yield: 8 pancakes

I haven’t been on a pancake bender in a while.   But I ate very lightly yesterday, and it’s gray and wintry here, so I woke up with pancakes on my mind.

A package of chopped dried dates and some already chopped and toasted nuts in the pantry, plus a fresh orange in the fridge, gave rise to to this delectable rendition.  If it’s too late for you to enjoy them this morning, we still have a few winter weekends ahead or, if you live in the U.S. and have tomorrow off for President’s Day, sleep in and enjoy them for a late brunch.  George Washington would approve, as his favorite recipe made by wife, Marta, was Hoe Cakes!

1/2 cup chopped dried dates
1/4 cup cream sherry (don’t worry–it’s non-dairy), brandy, etc.  (I use cream sherry, but you may use fresh orange juice or even water keeping in mind that the flavor will be different than the original)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (white whole wheat or all-purpose flour would also work fine)
1/2 cup self-rising flour
1/4 cup natural sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch ground mace or nutmeg
1 to 1 1/2 cups unsweetened soymilk (plain or vanilla soy milk would also be good–regular or lite; you may require the larger amount if using whole wheat flour, as it seems to absorb more moisture)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, preferably dry-toasted for about 3 minutes in a small skillet over medium-high heat (pecans, almonds or cashews would also be good)
Zest of one medium-large naval orange (reserve a small amount of garnishing if desired)
Vegan butter and/or vegetable oil for frying
Maple Syrup
Optional Garnishes: orange zest, a few chopped nuts, and/or a very light sprinkling of powdered sugar

Preheat oven to warm. Place dates in a microwave-safe small bowl or cup, pour sherry or brandy over, and microwave for 20-30 seconds.  Let sit while you prepare the pancake batter.  In a medium mixing bowl, place both flours, sugar, baking powder, soda and nutmeg.  Make a well in the center and pour in soymilk. Whisk together until well combined. Then stir in dates, nuts, and orange zest with a spoon or fork.

In a large cast iron skillet or griddle over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the vegan butter, oil or a combination. (I like a combination: the oil reduces chances of burning while the butter contributes flavor.) Using a 1/4 cup measure, make pancakes, two at a time. Cook two-three minutes on the first side until you get a nice rise, a few bubbles appear, and the edges appear set. Gently flip and cook another couple of minutes on the reverse. Add butter and/or oil to keep skillet greased as needed. If pancakes are cooking too quickly, lower heat to medium, especially for second side. When cooked through, remove pancakes to plates or a serving platter, keep warm, and repeat with remaining butter and pancake batter.

Serve warm drizzled with maple syrup and sprinkled with optional reserved orange zest, chopped nuts, and/or powdered sugar.

For 150+ other seasonal specialties, please have a look at The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes.

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The Bloomin’ Best Red Velvet Pancakes

If you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day this weekend, you’ll want to wake up your sweetie tomorrow with these not-too-sweet, but almost-too-good-to-be-true Red Velvet Pancakes.

The recipe isn’t in The Blooming Platter Cookbook (though 150+ mouthwatering recipes for special and not-so-special occasions are!), so just click here to go to the original post for the short back story and complete list of ingredients and instructions.

Ever since childhood, I have loved to have the occasional breakfast for dinner, especially in the winter.  So, since Valentine’s Day falls on a weekday this year, and since–if you’re like me–breakfast during the week is a soy-something-or-other from Starbucks, why not enjoy these beauties for dinner with a side of fruit and a glass of soymilk?

I plan to post retro-recipes from my blog for other Valentines favorites along with a brand new creation, but I encourage you to search “Valentine” to see what goodies pop up that might grab your interest.

Happy Valentine’s Day from the Blooming Platter!

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Vegan Silver Dollar Pumpkin-Espresso-Oatmeal Pancake-Fritters

Yield:  Approximately 8-10 silver dollar pancakes

Here in America, Thanksgiving approaches.  It is so many people’s favorite holiday, and for good reason.  Non-denominational and, in fact, not necessarily religious in any direct way, it tends to be a gracious gathering of friends and family who come together to share a traditional meal of fall favorites while giving thanks to anyone for anything they choose.

Pumpkin dishes typically take center stage on the menu, but I crave them before, during and after.  If you’re celebrating Thanksgiving late in the day, you might enjoy these pancake-fritters for breakfast; or if your clan breaks bread earlier in the day, try these treats the morning after.   Or, heck, go ahead and make them today!

I call them “pancake-fritters” because they are a hybrid, but not by design, at least initially.  Rather, the pleasant “stickiness” of the batter and the amount of sugar meant that my first batch, cooked as regular pancakes, had to be put down the disposal!  I discovered that they have to be small, and they have to be pan fried in a bit more oil than what pancakes require to prevent them from sticking to the skillet and scorching.

So don’t be tempted to make these as larger pancakes or use less oil or yours will meet the same fate as mine.  My second try is what you see pictured and well worth the failed experiment.   The resulting pancake-fritters are a little oilier than a pancake, like a fritter or even a fried cake doughnut, with a crispy exterior and a soft and tender interior.

Pumpkin pancakes are a dime a dozen, so while a half-cup of leftover pumpkin initiated the recipe, the desire for a twist on a classic resulted in the addition of oatmeal and espresso powder inspired by my Baked Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal with a cup of coffee.   Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!

1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (or unbleached all-purpose)

1 cup old fashioned oats

4 tablespoon natural sugar

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

pinch sea salt

1/4 cup soymilk (I use unsweetened, but plain is fine)

2 teaspoons instant espresso

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Optional garnish: maple syrup plus a dab of vegan sour cream and a walnut piece per pancake


Preheat the oven to warm and line a plate with a double thickness of paper towel.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the first 7 dry ingredients and make a well in the center.  In a small bowl, whisk together soymilk and espresso powder to dissolve the latter.  Then whisk in pumpkin puree and vanilla.   Pour the wet ingredients into the well and whisk all together just until combined.  In a large cast iron skillet, heat about 1/8 inch of canola oil over medium-high.   Make pancakes-fritters, 4 at a time, using 1 rounded tablespoon of batter, gently smoothing the  top.  Cook for about 2 minutes per side, loosening each pancake from the bottom of the pan with a metal spatula after a minute or less of cooking, just enough time for the pancakes to be set enough to gently lift.  Reduce heat if cooking too fast.  Remove to the lined plate, cover with more paper towel, and keep warm in the oven while you continue with the remaining batter in the same manner.  Serve each garnished with maple syrup, a dollop of vegan sour cream and a walnut piece.

For 150+ additiona recipes perfect for this and every season, I invite you to check out The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes.

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Vegan Pumpkin Shortcakes with Warm Spiced Apple Filling

I decided to end Vegan MoFo 2011 on a sweet note.

But, first, speaking of sweet…

A big thank you is in order to Isa and all the good folks who are the driving force behind Vegan MoFo.  Thank you so much for continuing to feed this fire and for making it so easy, not to mention gratifying, for all of us vegan bloggers and many, many readers to participate.  What a beautiful thing.

Though MoFo officially ends today, I will still be here offering new recipes several times a week to Blooming Platter readers and subscribers.  So I invite you to subscribe if you haven’t already.  It’s now easier than ever and you can do it via email, no rss feed necessary.  Just look over at the top of the right-hand sidebar and follow the simple prompts.

This version features a split pumpkin biscuit.

And now a sweet for the sweet, but, not so sweet that you couldn’t serve this warming dish for a fall breakfast or brunch, which is how I first enjoyed it.

I grew up loving my mother’s biscuit-style Strawberry Shortcake which, incidentally, she would sometimes allow my sister and me to enjoy for breakfast.  So, my fall version of this treat is based on a sweetened pumpkin biscuit.

And it’s topped with a quick and spicy apple and walnut saute.  Your kitchen will be perfumed with some of the best fragrances of fall.

Yield: 4 Servings

Note: the following is the Herbed Biscuit recipe from my new Blooming Platter vegan cookbook without the herbs, but with the addition of dehydrated pumpkin powder and a little natural sugar.  Just click here to order the dehydrated pumpkin from Barry Farm.  I am partial to it rather than pumpkin puree, as it adds lots of flavor and golden color, but no additional un-needed nor unwanted moisture which requires additional flour and, hence, a heavy biscuit.  However, if you have a vegan pumpkin biscuit recipe you like, feel free to substitute.  Just add about 2 tablespoons of natural sugar to a cup of flour. 

My special biscuit method requires freezing the vegan butter and shortening, so don’t forget to pop it in the freezer the night before you plan to make them.  And I highly encourage taking the tiny bit of extra time to employ my modified french puff pastry folding method.  You won’t believe how buttery and flaky the two together will make your biscuit-shortcakes.

This version features an unsplit pumpkin biscuit.

Pumpkin Shortcakes

Note: this recipe makes about 10 biscuit-shortcakes, more than you need, but they are delicious plain and reheat nicely, so I predict you’ll be glad to have them on hand.

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 cup plain or unsweetened soy milk

1 1/2 cups self-rising flour (or 1 1/2 cups all purpose or white whole wheat flour + 1 tablespoon baking powder)

1/2 cup dehydrated pumpkin powder (I use Barry Farm brand–it’s like a fragrant golden powder)

3/4 teaspoon baking powder (add only if using the self-rising flour)

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (or your own mix of ground cinnamon, clove and nutmeg to taste)

1/4 cup natural sugar

4 tablespoons frozen vegetable shortening

4 tablespoons frozen vegan butter + 2 tablespoons refrigerated vegan butter (I like Earth Balance)

Warm Spiced Apple Filling (recipe below)

About 1/4 cup of your favorite vegan whipped topping, sweetened cashew cream, or even vegan sour cream and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar into the soy milk and set aside.  In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder (3/4 teaspoon if using the self-rising flour and 1 tablespoon if using all purpose or white whole wheat), pumpkin powder, pumpkin pie spice, and natural sugar, and stir with a fork to combine.  Make a well in the center.  Spray your box grater very lightly with nonstick spray for easier clean up and then grate the frozen shortening and frozen vegan butter into the well.  Whisk the soy milk mixture and add it to the well.

2.  Incorporate the wet into the dry ingredients by stirring with a fork so that the warmth of your hands doesn’t melt the shortening and butter.  Place the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a 9-inch square pan and place it in the oven to melt the butter.  Remove the pan as soon as the butter has melted.

3.  On a lightly floured work surface, pat or roll the dough to about 1-inch thick (1/4-inch thicker than for my biscuits).  Fold it like a business letter: fold one side two-thirds of the way across and fold the remaining 1/3 back across.  Pat or gently roll the dough out to a 1-inch thickness again, turn it a quarter turn and repeat about 4 more times.  Do this fairly quickly so that the dough doesn’t warm up.

4.  Lightly flour the work surface as necessary.  The last time you pa the dough to a 1-inch, cut out biscuits wih a 2-inch biscuit, cookie cutter or drinking glass.  Place each biscuit in the prepared pan and flip to coat both sides with melted butter.  Bake the biscuits for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.   While biscuits bake, make filling (recipe below).

5.  When cool enough to handle, either place a biscuit on each of 4 plates; top with 1/4th of the Warm Spiced Apple Filling; garnish each serving with a tablespoon of vegan whipped topping, sweetened cashew cream, or vegan sour cream and a light dusting of ground cinnamon; and serve warm.  Or, split the biscuits and place 1/8th of the filling inside and another 1/8th of the filling on top, garnish, and serve.  Save the remaining 6 biscuits in an airtight container for another use.

Warm Spiced Apple Filling

1 tablespoon vegan butter (I like Earth Balance)

1/4 cup + 2 teaspoons chopped walnuts

2 medium apples (I like our local Winesaps), cut into 1/4-inch dice

1/4 cup natural sugar

1/4 cup ground cinnamon or to taste

1/4 cup ground ginger or to taste

1/8 teaspoon ground clove or to taste

1 tablespoon maple syrup

In a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, melt butter.  Add walnuts and toast, stirring frequently for about 3 minutes or until lightly toasted.  Remove nuts to a paper towel-lined saucer.  Add apple, natural sugar, and spices.  Saute for about 3 minutes or until apples soften.  Add maple syrup and cook another minute or two until apples are very tender.  Add all but 1 tablespoon of walnuts, stir, and heat through.  Remove from heat and use as directed above.

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VEgan Baked Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal (it’s like bread pudding for breakfast or brunch!)

This recipe is a crowd-pleaser regardless of the season!  And I’m posting it now so you can make sure to have all ingredients on hand by the time the weekend arrives.

The first iteration of it, which I created for The Blooming Platter Cookbook, appears in the spring section of the Brunch chapter, for it was made to be topped with fresh berries.  When I tested the recipe in the summer of 2010, I served it topped with blueberries to my good friend Maggie Test (yes, that’s really her last name).  She proclaimed its texture to be perfect, like a bread pudding for breakfast (though there is no bread in the recipe, only healthy oatmeal).

So, for the weekend house party my husband hosted for my birthday last May, I made it as our Sunday “morning-after” brunch dish.  It was a huge hit with everyone and lent itself perfectly to people rising at different times, as servings can be popped into the microwave for reheating.

At the end of last week, the weather finally turned cool here in coastal Virginia and the leaves are beginning to turn right along with it.  So, I found myself craving a warm comfort-food type weekend breakfast, but nothing too heavy.  Baked oatmeal came immediately to mind.  But, with berries long out of season, I thought of pumpkin of which I can’t get enough this time of year.  I crave it in everything.

I used the recipe I created for my cookbook, simply reducing the cup of soy milk to 1/2 cup, and adding 1/2 cup pumpkin puree plus 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice.  Then, instead of studding the top with berries, I used nuts.  Oh, and I topped the serving you see in the photo with some Vegan Pepita Caramel Sauce, but that’s just guilding the lily and, I have to admit, turns the dish into more of a dessert.

The only difficult aspects of this dish are 1) waiting 8 hours to bake it, and 2) not eating the entire recipe in one sitting!

Yield: 8 servings

6 ounces firm silken tofu
1/2 cup soy milk

1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cup natural sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
2 tablespoons natural sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup coarse-chopped pecans or walnuts

1. Lightly grease a 9-inch glass or ceramic pie pan and set aside. Combine the tofu, soy milk, canola oil, sugar, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, and salt in a food processor. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Transfer the mixture to a medium mixing bowl and stir in the oatmeal. Spoon this mixture into the prepared pan, gently  smoothing the top. Sprinkle the surface with the remaining sugar and cinnamon, cover with foil, and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
2. When ready to bake, remove the dish from the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 350ºF. Sprinkle the top surface of the oatmeal with nuts, and bake for 25 minutes or until just firm. Serve hot.  Cover the pan with foil if the nuts start browning too quickly.

Note: The oatmeal may be reheated by covering the baking dish with foil and placing it in a cold oven. Turn the oven temperature to 300ºF. and heat for about 20 minutes, or until warm.  The oatmeal may alternatively be reheated in the microwave.  Start with 30 seconds and add additional time as necessary.

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