Party Dips: Butternut Squash and Dessert Hummus

dessert hummus and butternut squash dips

dessert hummus and butternut squash dips

The holidays are near and people will soon gather to share a meal. Dinner is the star, but having something to nibble on before and after is important to maintaining a jovial atmosphere. A tasty dip or two makes a great snack, especially if there are savory and sweet choices. With that in mind I located a squash dip to serve as an appetizer, and a dessert hummus with chocolate.

The great thing about dips is the lack of high altitude challenges, so these dishes merely needed a bit of veganizing or a personal touch. The Butternut Squash Dip appetizer is a recipe by Carsen Snyder for New Hope Network. My changes altered it from vegetarian to vegan. With the Superfood Dessert Hummus I put my spin on it by using extra peanut butter, because chocolate loves peanut butter, and adding lucuma powder (a superfood, like cacao) for a smoothness and depth of flavor. Whether you offer these spreads before or after a big meal, they will be a big hit.

Butternut Squash Dip adapted from the article “New Ways with Winter Squash”

1 large butternut squash (about 4 pounds), halved and seeded (or pumpkin)
1 TBS olive oil
1 1/4 tsp salt, divided
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup tahini
1 cup plain, unsweetened non-dairy yogurt
1 TBS apple cider vinegar
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp allspice

Preheat oven to 400 F. Cut squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out seeds. Drizzle olive oil and ¼ teaspoon salt over cut side of squash halves. Place squash, cut side down, on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover squash loosely with foil, and bake for 1 hour. Once cooked, remove foil and let squash cool slightly.

Scoop flesh from cooked squash halves into a food processor. Add garlic, tahini, yogurt, vinegar, paprika, allspice and remaining 1 teaspoon salt; blend until creamy. Pause to push sides down if necessary. Scoop dip into a serving bowl, and chill for 1 hour or overnight.

Serve with dippers, such as veggies and crackers. Makes 5 ½ cups.

Superfood Dessert Hummus adapted from Chocolate Chickpea Spread
1 15-ounce can chickpeas
2 TBS creamy peanut butter
3 TBS olive oil
1/2 cup Navitas Organics cacao powder
1/2 cup Navitas Organics coconut palm sugar
1.5 tsp Navitas Organics lucuma powder
1 tsp instant coffee powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
3 – 4 TBS water

Put all but the water into a food processor and puree, scraping down the sides as needed. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the water until the desired consistency is reached. Serve with dried or fresh fruit.

Until next time, happy non-baking and Happy Holidays!

A portion of this post was provided by New Hope Network. I am a member of the New Hope Influencer Co-op, a network of health and wellness bloggers committed to spreading more health to more people.

Chocolate Chip Banana Cake Pan Cake

Chocolate Chip Banana Cake Pan Cake

Chocolate Chip Banana Cake Pan Cake

The very ripe bananas on my counter were calling my name. Although I do love my Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, I wanted something more decadent and more banana-y. A banana cake seemed appropriate. With plenty of mashed bananas in an easy cake pan form, the recipe I found sounded perfect. I just had to make it vegan and high altitude friendly.

To veganize it, I used whipped aquafaba instead of eggs. I also traded butter with Earth Balance Original Buttery Spread. (Note: I did not use the sticks because I wanted the lighter texture of the spread.) To help counter the affects at altitude I added more liquid and flour. However, vegan banana baked goods can be heavy so I added apple cider vinegar and a smidgen of baking powder to boost the lift.

Chocolate Chip Banana Cake Pan Cake adapted from Banana–Chocolate Chip Snack Cake

1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1/3 cup aquafaba, cold (the liquid from canned chickpeas)
2 cups + 1 TBS all purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
scant 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup vegan buttery spread (see note above)
1 cup + 3 TBS vegan sugar
1 cup mashed bananas (2 to 3 bananas, very ripe)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup vegan chocolate chips

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 350F. Grease and flour an 8 x 8” baking pan. Stir apple cider vinegar into the non-dairy milk and set aside. Add aquafaba to a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk for 5 minutes. Place whipped aquafaba in a separate bowl, and replace the whisk attachment on the stand mixer with the paddle.

Whisk the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder together in bowl. Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat the buttery spread on medium-high speed for a minute. Add the sugar and beat for 2 more minutes. Fold in whipped aquafaba. Add bananas and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk in 2 additions, scraping down bowl as needed. Stir in half of the chocolate chips with a rubber spatula.

choose very ripe bananas

choose very ripe bananas

Transfer the batter to prepared pan and smooth top with the spatula. Sprinkle remaining chocolate chips evenly over top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Let cake cool completely in pan on wire rack. The cooled cake can be wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Until next time, happy baking!

Crispy Apple-Pear Crisp

Crispy Apple Pear Crisp

Crispy Apple Pear Crisp

Happy National Dessert Day, everyone! Although I often feel that every day should celebrate dessert. And when the leaves are starting to change, as they are near my home right now, I think we should celebrate fall as well. In addition, it’s apple season and I procured local apples for my creations. So, where am I going with all of this? Apple crisps – my inspiration for today’s recipe.

It seems that everyone has a recipe for apple crisps, including me (see my Ginger Apple Crisp). But I wanted to take the recipe in a different, crispy-er direction. To achieve this, I scoured the internet and all of my many cookbooks. Ultimately I ended up at America’s Test Kitchen, the resource who does hours after hours after hours of testing for you. They found that if the topping is added after an initial apple cooking, then the top stays crispy. I took this hint, and my 20 pounds of apples (yes, you read that right), and crisped away.

When I decided to make a very large tray of the treat to make a dent in my crate of apples, my hubby’s reply was, “Apple crisp for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!” That required peeling a lot of apples. (Maybe I should have had him peel them). If you don’t want to do quite that much work, or if the recipe seems too large for you, then you can halve the ingredient amounts and make your crisp in an 8 x 8” pan.

Crispy Apple-Pear Crisp adapted from “Naturally Sweet” by America’s Test Kitchen

Topping
1 cup slivered almonds, chopped
1 cup vegan sugar
1/2 cup + 2 TBS vegan margarine, melted
1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
Filling
5.5 pounds mixture of apples and pears, peeled, cored, and sliced into 1/2” wedges
1/4 cup vegan sugar
1 TBS fresh lemon juice
1 TBS arrowroot powder
1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
Vegan Ice cream, optional

For the topping: Place oven rack in middle position and heat oven to 400F. Toast almonds until lightly browned, then place on a wire rack to cool slightly. Leave oven on for filling. Working in batches, grind topping sugar in a spice grinder until fine and powdery. Whisk ground sugar, melted margarine, cinnamon, and salt together in a large bowl. Using a rubber spatula, fold in flour and oats until mixture resembles a cohesive dough. Add in almonds and stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

For the filling: Toss fruit, filling sugar, lemon juice, arrowroot, cinnamon, and salt together in a bowl. Transfer to a 9 x 13” baking pan, cover with foil, and set on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake until apples are juicy and tender, about 1.25 hours, rotating sheet halfway through baking.

lots of peeled apples and pears

lots and lots of peeled apples and pears

To assemble: Remove filling from oven and stir to redistribute juices. Take topping from the fridge and crumble it over the filling, leaving a few 1/2” topping pieces. Bake uncovered until filling is bubbling and topping is a deep golden brown, about 15 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool 20 minutes before serving. Top with vegan ice cream, if desired.

Until next time, happy baking!

Walnut and Cinnamon Peach Crisp

The perfect bite of peach crisp

Walnut and Cinnamon Peach Crisp

Walnuts and cinnamon and peaches … oh, my! Looking at half a flat of local peaches, I was devising ways to use up a good portion of them when a crisp came to mind. The dessert turned out so velvety, luscious, and decadent that I wanted to eat the entire dish in one sitting, for dinner. A few bites were saved for breakfast, but it’s best to reheat it to bring out the full peachy flavor.

The recipe I liked had few ingredients and good preparation techniques but made a large baking dish of crisp, so I scaled it down. Then I added walnuts because I love a crunchy topping. To veganize it I used vegan buttery sticks. Fortunately, nothing needed to be changed for altitude. My final fix was to prefer mixing with my hands instead of using a stick blender. It made for easier kitchen cleanup, and it allowed me to create larger clumps of topping goodness.

Walnut and Cinnamon Peach Crisp adapted from Cinnamon-Oat Peach Crisp

3 pounds peaches, peeled, pitted and cut into 1/4” slices
1/2 cup organic granulated sugar
2 TBS + 3/4 cup all purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup packed organic brown sugar
1/2 cup rough chopped walnuts
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) vegan margarine, softened

Toss peaches, granulated sugar, and 2 TBS flour in a bowl to combine. Let sit, tossing occasionally, for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk oats, brown sugar, walnuts, cinnamon, salt, and remaining 3/4 cup flour in a large bowl to combine. Add margarine and mix it in with your fingers, removing any lumps.

Place a rack in the center of the oven; preheat oven to 350F. Scrape peaches and any juices into a 2-qt baking dish. Evenly scatter oat topping over peaches and bake until peaches are soft, fruit juices are bubbling, and topping is a deep golden brown, 40–45 minutes. Transfer baking dish to a wire rack and let cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Until next time, happy baking!

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins

large zucchini next to zucchini muffins

chocolate chocolate chip zucchini muffins

The giant zucchini from my local farm showed up right when my favorite food tester requested a snack he could grab for breakfast. Add to that the fact that everything is better with chocolate, and I needed treats for a neighborhood Labor Day party, and the Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffin was born.

I started with a bread recipe that I scaled for muffins. To make the recipe vegan I omitted the eggs, as they aren’t necessary for muffins, and I made buttermilk from non-dairy milk and apple cider vinegar. For high altitude, I used a bit more liquid and I reduced the baking powder. Combine all that with a huge zucchini, or several smaller ones, and you have a delicious dessert for a crowd.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins inspired by Craftsy’s Easy Chocolate Zucchini Bread

1 cup + 2 TBS non-dairy milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder (not dutch process)
1 cup organic sugar
1/3 cup organic brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Place 15 liners in two muffin tins. Put non-dairy milk in a small bowl and whisk in apple cider vinegar. Set aside to curdle.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add oil and vanilla to the curdled milk and whisk together until well combined. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until only a few streaks of dry ingredients remain. Fold in zucchini and chocolate chips, and stir until batter is uniform.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 23-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean and the top springs back when lightly pressed. Let tins cool on a wire rack. Makes 18 muffins.

Until next time, happy baking!

DIY Confectioners’ Sugar

Confectioners' Sugar

Cookie with Confectioners’ Sugar

Recently I made a treat that used confectioners’ sugar in the frosting. Confectioners’ sugar, also called powdered sugar or icing sugar, is granulated sugar that has been ground into a fine powder. It can be sprinkled over a baked good, but it also readily dissolves in liquid making it easy to stir into icings and frostings. Just be sure not to confuse it with superfine sugar or bakers’ sugar; they are ground finer than granulated sugar but not as fine as confectioners’ sugar.

So, I have taught you exactly what confectioners’ sugar is. Now I am here to offer you a method for making your own, in case you are preparing frosting while a cake cools and find that you have run out of powdered sugar. (No, of course, this has never happened to me. Or, at least, not this week.)

The Spruce Eats gives us their advice: “All you will need is a blender, measuring cup, a clean dish towel, (and) sugar. … For each cup of confectioner’s (sic) sugar needed use one cup of regular granulated sugar. … Put the granulated sugar into the blender and secure the lid. Place the dishtowel over the top of the blender to catch any powder “smoke.” Blend using the pulse method until the sugar turns to powder. This method works best in small quantities, 1 to 2 cups at a time.

If you are making even a smaller amount, alternatively you can use a coffee grinder, spice grinder, or mini-food processor. Just be mindful that the sugar crystals can scratch plastic, so consider carefully before making the powdered sugar in a plastic blender or processor.” I have a dry cup for my Vitamix which works beautifully for making powdered sugar.

Store bought confectioners’ sugar will have additives, such as cornstarch. You can opt to make your own confectioners’ sugar just in emergency situations, or you can prepare it yourself to ensure that your sugar has no additives.

Cardamom Peach Morning Muffins

cardamom peach morning muffins

cardamom peach morning muffins

It’s peach season, and I got so excited I got twenty pounds of peaches. Now I am (desperately) trying to find a zillion ways to use them up. After grilled peaches, bellinis, and eaten raw, peach muffins came to mind. I thought that the peach flavor would be the star in a muffin that was not too sweet, so I looked up my Hearty Raspberry Muffins. Also, I consulted a peach recipe in my archives to help get a good balance. A tweak here, an addition there, and I had a tasty muffin. If you like a sweeter treat, then drizzle them with a simple sugar glaze made of one part non-dairy milk to three parts organic powdered sugar. Add a pinch or two of cinnamon and cardamom powders to your glaze to spice things up.

To make the recipe vegan, I merely removed the eggs. Muffins can generally get by with enough baking powder. To help combat the dryness at altitude, I added more liquid to my batter. To bump up the peach flavor, some of that liquid was the juice that ran off when I diced my peaches. If you don’t get enough peach juice, then add more milk. The last adjustment was to use up my cardamom simple syrup I had made for another recipe. You can substitute another liquid sweetener, but be sure to add cardamom to your batter.

Cardamom Peach Morning Muffins adapted loosely from Spiced Peach Muffins

1.75 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup whole bran
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1.25 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup cardamom simple syrup, or other liquid sweetener
2.5 TBS canola oil
1/4 cup peach juice
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1 cup peaches, diced but not peeled

Preheat oven to 375F and grease 10 sections of a muffin tin. Whisk together the flour, bran, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together the simple syrup, oil, peach juice, and milk. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Gently fold in the peaches.

Heap the batter into the muffin tin; the cups will be 3/4 full. Bake the muffins for 18 to 20 minutes, or until they’re golden and risen high. Cool muffins on a wire rack. Store, well-wrapped, on the counter for 3 days; or freeze for up to 3 months.

Until next time, happy baking!

Spiced Zucchini Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

spiced zucchini layer cake

spiced zucchini layer cake

When zucchini is in abundance, you make cake. Armed with several zucchini, I scoured recipes for breads, muffins, and cakes to make use of my squash. After discovering this spice cake recipe, I decided I needed to go bigger because I had quite a few of the vegetable. This then prodded me to make a layer cake, although I had not made one in a while. Of course, I could have been easier on myself and made two simple cake pan cakes slathered in frosting, but I do like a challenge. My apologies for the messy cake as my layering skills are rusty.

I found a vegan recipe, so the next step was to do the math to make it fit two 8” round pans. Thankfully, I discovered a chart of pan volumes at Joy Of Baking. After that I made some high altitude adjustments, such as reducing baking soda and adding more liquid. I also made a few changes to the instructions by thoroughly squeezing the zucchini (to avoid a soggy cake), sifting the dry ingredients separately (to blend the spices in), and modifying the frosting (for a less sweet vanilla-infused boost). It ended up being a serious baking production, but the resulting cake had a wonderful texture and even better flavor. I’m glad I wasn’t feeling lazy.

Spiced Zucchini Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting adapted from the pretty bee and Handle the Heat

for the cake
1.5 cups grated zucchini
1/2 cup canola oil
4.5 TBS unsweetened applesauce
1.25 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup + 2 TBS unsweetened non-dairy milk
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
pinch ground nutmeg
2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup coconut sugar

for the frosting
8 ounces vegan cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick vegan margarine, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla paste
3 cups organic powdered sugar, sifted

The cake: Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare two 8” round pans by greasing the pans, then lining the pans with parchment circles, and then greasing the parchment circles. Flour both greased pans. (The effort is worth it — see picture below.)

Lay zucchini on paper towels to absorb some of the moisture, then wring it out in a clean tea towel. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine oil, applesauce, vinegar, milk, and vanilla. Stir well and set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger. Add both sugars and stir to combine. Add dry ingredients to the wet and mix well. Fold in zucchini.

gorgeous spiced zucchini cake layer

gorgeous spiced zucchini cake layer

Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 28-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cake cool completely, then level the layers. Set aside.

The frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, margarine, and vanilla on medium-high speed until creamy, and smooth. On low speed, gradually add in sugar and beat until fluffy. Apply between cake layers and around the outside. Leftover cake can be stored in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.

Until next time, happy baking!

Cookies and Cream Vegan Ice Cream

Cookies and Cream Ice Cream

Cookies and Cream Vegan Ice Cream

Many of the recipes attempted for this week’s inspiration came out disastrous. My goal was to prepare an ice cream base for a myriad of creations during the hot summertime. The flavor needed to be tasty enough on its own, with a texture that mimicked a quality dairy ice cream. I wanted creamy, not too sweet, and not icy, and I was willing to do anything to achieve vegan perfection. Some frozen treats that I made started out in a dairy version that I then tweaked, while some were complicated vegan recipes. None of them turned out great. That was until I watched a video on ice cream making and adapted the techniques I learned to enhance my vegan recipe.

The base I chose consisted of nuts, so I didn’t need to make it vegan. The changes I made were influenced by a mashup of many ice cream recipes that I looked at for reference. I used cashew milk for the liquid to add creaminess. To further encourage a smooth texture, I stuck with a liquid sweetener instead of a granulated one. The final tweak was to add sandwich cookies to the base to create the specific flavor profile.

Cookies and Cream Vegan Ice Cream

1 cup raw, unsalted cashews
1.5 cups cashew milk (or use coconut milk)
1 TBS vanilla extract
1/4 cup agave syrup
pinch of sea salt
12 vegan chocolate sandwich cream cookies, crushed

Put the cashews in a bowl and cover with water. Soak at least 4 hours, or overnight in the fridge. Drain the soaked cashews. Put drained cashews, cashew milk, vanilla, agave, and salt in a blender. Blend ingredients until mixture is smooth and thick. Prepare in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Add the cookies in at the end, according to your machine. Makes 1.5 pints.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

New Vegan Dairy Products

New Plant Based Dairy Products

The world of vegan dairy options is rapidly expanding. When I first went dairy-free there were only a few companies with milk and cheese offerings, and you could forget about alternatives for butter and yogurt. Nowadays, shopping for vegan dairy products is exciting, with some products out-doing their non-vegan counterparts. Many of my recipes have “non-dairy dairy” ingredients, and here are a few of the newest that were spotted at Natural Products Expo West 2019 by Jenna Blumenfeld of New Hope Network.

Culina Botanical Yogurt Alternative

One of the best nondairy yogurts we’ve ever tasted, Culina won us over with its ultra-creamy cultured coconut base, floral botanical add-ins (the Strawberry Rose flavor was beautiful) and lack of plastic packaging. Instead, each yogurt is packaged in a terra cotta flower pot lined with a food-safe, biodegradeable glaze.

Mooala Organic Oatmilk Unsweetened Coconut

Oatmilk was a trending plant-based dairy option at Expo West, and Mooala earns points for launching an unsweetened, USDA Organic blend. This version is blended with organic coconut cream for improved consistency.

Malk Sprouted Organic Oat Malk Original

This brand’s dedication to simple formulations and conscious sourcing shine through with this USDA Organic, sprouted oatmilk. Bonus: Malk also pursued The Detox Project’s Glyphosate Residue Free Certification to quell worries about glyphosate-contaminated oats, which is printed on the back of the product packaging.

Milkadamia Macadamia Buttery Spread

Milkadamia Macadamia Buttery Spread

This beloved nondairy milk brand launched a plant-based buttery spread at Expo West that employs silky, rich macadamia oil to add body and flavor. We also like how no palm oil is used in this formulation.

Cultured Cashew Brie Alternative Beet Blush

The fermentation experts at Wildbrine bring their expert knowledge of microbes into the plant-based dairy category with this excellent cashew brie. Tinted with a hint of beets, this USDA Organic plant brie will steal the limelight at cheese parties.”

This post (or portions of this post) was provided by New Hope Network. I am a member of the New Hope Influencer Co-op, a network of health and wellness bloggers committed to spreading more health to more people. Images courtesy of New Hope Network. #NewHopeInfluencer