Drooling for Potlucks

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of potlucking. What better way to hang out with your friends- by grubbing the freak out. Everyone bring your favorite dish and BOOM combo of yummiest foods ever. Often times you have a bunch of comfort food and DESERTS ^_^ mmmm my favorite. I really enjoy cooking and I love baking sweet treats even more. Oh, and I’m vegan. None of my friends partake in the vegan lifestyle and most of them eat meat… so when it comes to my favorite potluck parties- I try and whip up something so good they can’t believe its vegan.

I always love a good excuse to bake sweet treats for a celebration with friends. My manager just got an awesome promotion at work and we were all so proud of her (it was much deserved). To congratulate her we decided to bring in some yummy deserts (to really throw her off on her week of detoxing… oops). I wanted to go all out and make 2 things (also because I seriously couldn’t decide): Classic Toffee Bars and 100 Calorie Chocolate Cupcakes!! That’s right folks- 100 CALORIES!!! At work we’re always obsessing about our weight and calories and all that jazz (girls always obsess over their weight) so I thought it would be a great opportunity to whip up these bad boys- and everyone wouldn’t feel as bad about stuffing their face ^_^

How to make the yummiest and moist 100-calorie cupcakes you’ll ever taste:

Ingredients:

1 cup nondairy milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1 cup all purpose flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (vegan)

¾ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cup packed light brown sugar

½ cup unsweetened applesauce (no high fructose corn syrup!!)

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

¾ teaspoon coffee extract (optional. or just use 1 tsp vanilla total extract)

Directions:

1. While you prepare, preheat the over to 350 degrees. Line your cupcake tray with foil liners (12) or if using paper liners- give them a little squirt of nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a small bowl or cup- mix nondairy milk and vinegar and set aside. (so it can curdle).

3. In a medium bowl- whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set to the side.

4. In a big bowl- mix brown sugar, applesauce, vanilla, and coffee extract. Pour in the curdled milk and stir all ingredients well.

5. Sir in the dry ingredients to the big bowl until it’s just combined. The batter will be thin, resembling runny pancake batter. Spoon evenly into cupcake liners and bake for about 18 minutes. Before removing from oven do the toothpick test*: stick a toothpick in the center of the biggest cupcake and if it comes out clean with no batter- you good to take them out. Just don’t over cook them!

6. Let them cool in the cupcake tin for about 10 minutes before removing them.

7. Then frost them!…

[adapted from http://www.canyoustayfordinner.com/2011/02/03/how-to-make-100-calorie-moist-chocolate-cupcakes/%5D

I found a recipe for a light a fluffy frosting that I thought would go perfect with these low calorie cupcakes. My only problem was that no matter what way I make frosting, it always ends up to runny. If you have a solution please let me know!! However, this frosting recipe was the best one I found to hold up so far:

Whipped Frosting

Ingredients:

1 cup nondairy milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)

5 tablespoons flour

1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon coffee extract (optional. Or 2 tsp total extract)

1 cup vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)

1 ¼ cup sugar (not powdered sugar)

Directions:

1. On the stove whisk together the nondairy milk and flour in a medium saucepan. Whisk constantly over medium heat until the mixture begins to sizzle. Continue stirring until the mixture thickens. The consistency will resemble thick cake batter after about 7 minutes of heat and whisking and you will know it is done.

2. Sir in the vanilla and coffee extract and set aside to cool completely.

3. In a bowl with an electric mixer and whisk attachment beat 2 sticks of softened butter (1 cup) with the sugar until light and fluffy white for about 3 solid minutes on medium-high speed. The sugar needs to be totally integrated into the butter.

4. When the nondairy milk/flour mixture has completely cool add it to the butter/sugar mixture. Beat all ingredients for about 1 minute on high speed, scraping down the bowl, until they are smooth and well blended. The frosting will be light and fluffy like whipped cream.

5. Pipe those cupcakes!

[adapted from http://www.canyoustayfordinner.com/2010/12/28/the-best-whipped-frosting/]

Classic Vegan Toffee Bars

Ingredients:

1/3 cup any nuts (I used walnuts)

½ cup vegan butter sticks (1 whole stick) (I used Earth Balance)

½ cup light brown sugar

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

6 ounces vegan dark, semisweet, or milk chocolate chips (I used semisweet)

Directions:

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees. Line 8×8 baking pan with foil and make sure the bottom of pan is completely covered- leaving some hanging off the edges to later use as handles.

2. Spread nuts on baking sheet and bake for 6-8 minutes, until lightly toasted. Cool, chop and set aside. (can use same pan, but don’t remove the foil after using it for the nuts)

3. Melt vegan butter in a saucepan on medium heat (or in a bowl in the microwave).

4. In a bowl, stir in sugar and vanilla- then add flour.

5. Spread mixture evenly on the bottom of pan.

6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until light golden brown.

7. Remove from oven and cover with chocolate chips. Place back in over for 2-3 minutes.

8. Remove from oven and spread the chocolate evenly over the shortbread using a knife or spatula. Sprinkle with nuts.

9. Set aside to cool down and chocolate to settle. Remove shortbread from pan using the foil as handles. Place on cutting board and cut into even squares.

10. You can store these in an airtight container up to 3 weeks at room temperature.

[adapted from http://mjr.earthbalancenatural.com/recipe/classic-toffee-bars-vegan/%5D

Potluck 1:

This same day it was also my friend’s birthday… her boyfriend (whom I set up *props to me for being an awesome matchmaker*) organized a surprise party for her (HOW SWEET!) but not just ANY party it was a POTLUCK! So I made Polenta Biscuits and Sugar and Spice Donut Bites (all vegan of course). I’ve never cooked anything with polenta before- besides frying it on the stove (which is really awesome with a sprinkle of vegan cheese and marinara). Oh man, the biscuits were so fluffy and yummy so I have to share the recipe with you:

Vegan Polenta Biscuits

(9 servings)

Ingredients:

1 cup of flour (I used a mix of ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour & ½ cup unbleached white flour)

2 tablespoons vegan shortening

½ cup polenta (1/4 of a packaged tube)

1 cup whole corn (thawed)

½ cup finely chopped carrots

½ cup original milk substitute (I used unsweetened almond milk plus+ by So Delicious)

1 teaspoon of salt (optional)

1 tablespoon baking powder (sifted*)

Directions:

1. Blend flour and shortening in a bowl.

2. After flour is blended- add polenta, carrot, and cilantro and (sifted*) baking powder.

3. In a blender add corn and almond milk- blend for about 30 seconds. Keep it chunky. –if you don’t have a blender I used my magic bullet a couple rounds.

4. Salt the dry ingredients and add the blended corn/milk.

5. Lightly mix until it resembles soft dough. Let it rest in the fridge for 10 minutes so the polenta can absorb some moisture.

6. Preheat oven to 375.

7. Give it a little mix and spoon into the muffin tins.

8. Pop those bad boys in the (375 degrees) oven for 25 minutes.

9. Let them cool in the muffin pan and dig in!

*put the granules through a strain/screen so all the lumps are broken down and removed

[polenta biscuits adapted from http://mjr.earthbalancenatural.com/recipe/dreamy-polenta-biscuit/]

Moving on to the Sugar and Spice Donut Bites.. These were so delicious and popular that I also made them for my 2nd potluck of the week. I’m a lover of donuts, see…

IMG_1999

..being vegan you can’t exactly find many options. So I got mega pumped when I stumbled across this recipe! Okay, enough talking- you guys seriously need to get to baking on these scrumptious bites!!

vegandonuts

(24 servings)

Sugar & Spice Donut Bites

Ingredients:

1/3 cup vegan butter spread (I used Earth Balance)

½ cup sugar

1 tablespoon applesauce (unsweetened)

1 ½ cups flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon cumin

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

½ cup nondairy milk (I used So Delicious Almond Plus+ unsweetened)

baking spray (I used coconut cooking spray from Trader Joes)

FOR THE COATING:

½ cup granulated white sugar

½ cup packed light brown sugar

1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon

½ cup vegan butter spread (melted)

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 350.

2. In a large bowl- mix the vegan butter (1/3 cup), sugar & applesauce with an electric mixer until fluffy and well blended.

3. In another bowl- mix flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cumin, and ginger.

4. Pour half the flour mixture into the bowl with the buttersauce mixture and blend with electric mixer until smooth.

5. Add the nondairy milk and blend until smooth.

6. Add the rest of the flour mixture and blend until smooth.

7. Spray your mini muffin pan with baking spray and put no more than 1 tablespoon of donut batter in each tiny cup.

8. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Pull them out of the oven when they are light golden and they pass the toothpick test*.

9. Now for the coating: put all the coating ingredients except the vegan butter in a medium size container with a lid. Close the top and shake ingredients to mix. One by one or a few at a time- roll the donut bite in the warm butter, then throw in the sugar mix, close lid, and shake shake shake. Make sure they all get totally covered (so no one gets gipped). And BOOM work that magic. People will love you after their taste buds indulge in this wonderful sugar and spice combination.

[adapted from http://mjr.earthbalancenatural.com/recipe/masala-spiced-donut-bites/%5D]

Candy's Christmas Tree

Potluck #2 of the week was our annual Thanksmus party with my beloved friends. It’s always a potluck and there is always alcohol involved.

IMG_2010

It’s so awesome to see old friends you haven’t seen in a while and the new faces that get added to the group. This year we had more sweets than actual food with cupcakes to feed an army. It’s a bunch of lesbos- what do you expect? We love our deserts! So I’m glad I didn’t make cupcakes and stuck with the Sugar & Spice Vegan Donut Bites for a little variety. I loved peoples faces when they said “THESE ARE VEGAN?!” NOM NOM NOM. It was a good think I made double the batch! Now I also wanted to bring something that was an actual food item, so I confided in my friend what she thought I should make. For years I used to always bring my infamous bean dip to potlucks and parties, but I hadn’t in a while because I thought it might be kind of boring. Well when I asked my friend what to bring she screamed YOUR BEAN DIP!! Haha said she’s bean dreaming about it everyday. So crazy, but awesome because it’s a super easy concoction…

Lindsey’s Bean Dip

Ingredients:

2 cans black beans (try for the low sodium ones)

1 regular sized jar of salsa (any flavor, but don’t get ones with more beans, try for spice and boldness)

½ lemon

1 tablespoon cumin (or to taste)

Directions:

1. Rinse and drain black beans.

2. Get a large sized serving bowl and add beans. Use a fork or whatever you can find to mash the black beans. It’s okay if every single one of them isn’t mashed, but mash for however long you your little heart desires.

3. Combine the salsa. Start with only adding half the jar, if you want more of a bean taste.

4. Squeeze in half a lemon (no seeds though!) and add the cumin.

5. Mix away and voila!

Now I wanted to get creative and make my own pita chips, but I didn’t seem to have as much success.. since I put the lid on the container and the heat made everything not so crispy. However they were still quite yummy. Just take a package of pita bread and cut into little wedges. If you can only find pita pockets (like me) just make sure the thick pieces are sliced in half. Preheat over to 400 degrees. And on a baking tray line up the pita and brush them with extra virgin olive oil and just a tad of salt. Flip over and do the same thing. Pop them in the oven for 5 minutes. Then pull them out and flip them over and bake for another 5 minutes. Keep a watch on them because they may only need 3 or 4 minutes on both sides. DON’T BURN THEM BLACK haha unless you like charcoal.

That concludes my week of baking and potlucks. All this talk about food is getting my hungry. I think I’ll make some Espresso Vegan No Bake cookies! I’ll be sure to post the recipe soon, but for now I’m going to leave you drooling.

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