Banananana Muffins

“Nanny Ogg knew how to start spelling ‘banana’, but didn’t know how you stopped.” ― Terry Pratchett, Witches Abroad

If you’re unfamiliar with Discworld, but love the fantasy genre, or the humor genre, or the satire genre, you’re missing out. Sir Terry is a genius. There are currently thirty-nine (!!) Discworld novels, and yes, I’ve read them all. Is that too much nerd information? Anyways, anytime I see the word “banana” I always think of Nanny Ogg, a gregarious and hilarious witch. So… geek moment over, let’s get on with this.

I’m horrible about eating bananas. I always forget about them when I’m ready for a snack or something to go along with my coffee in the mornings. I invariably end up with at least 2 or 3 that are ripened past the “good eats” stage. As you can imagine, this leads to a lot of Baking with Bananas. This is an excellent recipe for people (like me) who have well-stocked pantries and an empty fridge.

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Banana Muffins

  • 1/4 C vegetable oil
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/2 C firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3 very ripe bananas, puréed
  • 1/2 tsp dried lemon peel or lemon zest
  • 1 T ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 C unbleached AP flour
  • 3/4 C whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 C whole grain rolled oats
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp white vinegar
  • 1/2 C chopped nuts or semi-sweet chocolate chips, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease the cups of a 12-count muffin tin — I like using 0cal/0fat nonstick spray, but you could use shortening or whatever you have lying around. I recommend doing this even to so-called “non-stick” pans.
  2.  Cream together the oil and sugars. Add bananas and spices and mix well.
  3.  In a separate bowl, sift together flours, oats, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Add all at once to wet ingredients. Stir until just combined.
  4.  Add vinegar and mix well.
  5.  If using, fold in nuts or chips.
  6.  Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full. I used a 3T cookie scoop just because it’s fast and makes the muffins all about the same size.
  7.  Bake 20-25min.

In a dark muffin tin, only bake about 20min. For a silver/light tin, about 25. If you use a 24-count (mini) muffin pan, about 10-15 minutes will do. I used a silicone pan and the minis were perfect at about 12min. For the mini cups, a 1T cookie scoop works well. If you prefer a muffin that is not as chewy, use cupcake papers, spraying them with nonstick spray to keep the muffin-y goodness from sticking.

I’ve noticed my oven tends to cook things a little quickly (since I use the smaller top half of a double oven, perhaps?). Your cooking time may be longer. Or, increase the temperature to 360F.

 

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Craziness, Cookies, and Cupcakes

It seems I spent all of last week in the kitchen baking, prepping, dicing, kneading, waiting…

I don’t have many pictures to prove it, but trust me. It was a lot of work. Fun work. Rewarding work. My fridge and freezer were stocked full of food my family couldn’t eat. We were living off chik’n strips from the depths of the freezer. And edamame. Because I found some of that kind of chilling out at the bottom as well.

So why the madness? It has to do with church again, of course. The biggest fundraising event of the year was on Saturday, and I was helping to coordinate food (again). My partner-in-crime (who I’ll refer to as Doc) was covering most of the day-of stuff. The guacamole, salsas, etc. After all, Doc has a day job. One of those “real” jobs where you wake up in the morning, put on some somewhat nice clothes, and go in for several hours to do some really geek-intensive science-y stuff. You know, the kind of science-y stuff not in a kitchen. I hear that type of science exists.

I covered flatbread dough, bruschetta, cupakes, cookies, and strawberries. And the booze. LOTS of booze. At least I got to buy that at the store!

All told, we made up six flatbreads with a sundried tomato and olive oil base, onion jam, fresh basil, and (sigh) whole-milk mozzarella. Doc made a queso dip with braised beef in it. It smelled fantastic. I salivated. I remained strong. (Woot!) Three salsas graced the table: pineapple, corn, tomato. We probably went through six bags of tortilla chips. There was leftover guacamole this year, which surprised us.

The bruschetta (LOVED IT) was a recipe I found in a Vegetarian Times magazine, substituting nutritional yeast for Parmesan. And of course, there was the always-present hummus. I don’t think a church gathering is complete without it.

Samoa cupcakes made an appearance again, along with a plain vanilla. Apparently, playing it safe isn’t very popular, since there was still a vanilla left at the end of the intermission. It’s okay. A friend came to the rescue and disposed of it for me.

I tried some new recipes, like these almond cupcakes with green tea glaze and marzipan flowers, inspired by the green tea cupcakes over at The PPK.

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Oreo buttercream was a huge hit.

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Turns out people were getting those Oreo cupcakes just for the frosting. Maybe I’ll just do some frosting shots next year and save the cost of flour.

There were so many cookies I don’t even know where to start. We were still eating them during coffee hour on Sunday, and there was enough left over to make up 44 snack-baggies of cookies for the sandwich line on Tuesday morning.

Since I had leftover marzipan, I made cookies for another church event Tuesday evening. almondCookiesAnd these… I’ll give you the recipe for right now.

Almond Cookies

  • 1 C vegan margarine, softened
  • 1/2 C powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp pure almond extract
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 C AP flour
  • 1/2 C finely chopped almonds or almond meal

Beat margarine, sugar, and extracts in a bowl until fluffy. Beat in flour, then almonds. Divide dough into two halves on plastic wrap. Wrap and roll into logs about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Unwrap dough. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350F. Trim rough ends of dough logs. Cut cookie rounds about 1/2-inch thick. These cookies don’t spread, so you can arrange them on the cookie sheet quite close. Just don’t allow them to touch. Bake 15 minutes or until the edges begin to turn golden. Allow to cool 2-5 minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Green Tea Glaze
(recipe from The PPK, but she didn’t include directions for some reason)

  • 2 T margarine, melted
  • 1 C powdered sugar
  • 1/8 – 1/4 tsp unsweetened matcha tea powder
  • 1 – 2 T coconut milk
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • Drop of vanilla

In a small bowl, combine margarine and matcha. Whisk (I used the whisk attachment on my beaters) until combined. Add 1/4 C powdered sugar and beat. Add almond and vanilla extracts and another 1/4 C sugar. Use coconut milk as needed to thin the mixture appropriately to keep it smooth. Add in remaining powdered sugar 1/4 C at a time until entirely incorporated. Use a butter knife or small spreader to spread glaze on the cookies. Decorate elsewise (Is that a word? It should be a word.) as you wish.

 

 

My absence, and a few thoughts.

It’s been a crazy April — I wish it was over, already! Those samoa cupcakes (I promise, the recipe will come soon) were seriously the last best thing to come out of my kitchen. In March, no less. All my experimentation with new deliciousness has ended in failure this month — kind of how everything else is going.

It all started with the Toddler, of course. My husband took him out to go grocery shopping, taking the spare set of car keys with him. When they came home, Toddler went inside and I went out for (less than) 2 minutes to help bring in groceries. Toddler locked the door. Husband didn’t have a house key. You see the problem.

It’s kind of depressing how easy it was to kick in a dead-bolted door. The repairman sent out by our contractor fixed it so it would shut and lock properly, at least. The bolt receptacle for your deadbolt is apparently supposed to be fixed in place by 3″ screws, not 1″. Good thing whoever was responsible for that sucked royally at their job, otherwise, we would have had to call the fire department in to break the window. We tried with cobblestones and failed. So, score on window strength!

door

As totally awesome and humorous as that is looking back, I never want to do that again. Hide-A-Key will be installed shortly.

And then, of course, The Cat. To be specific, our special girl, Calliope. She decided to eat something… interesting.

cow_vetBill

 

She was not happy. I was not happy. But we’re all fine now.

So, after all this, I decided I would make cupcakes again. Some samoa cupcakes again. I wanted to make them to take to this really cool event happening downtown to revitalize a sketchy area. Well, to take to the people setting up for it, anyways. Lesson learned: hemp milk is not good in baked sweets. Just don’t do it. Toddler liked the cupcakes, because, hey, chocolate. I couldn’t stomach them. They didn’t deserve a topping and ended up in the trash. Which is cool. Totally cool. I gave up on the idea.

Still had an awesome time at the better block event. I finally got a photo of one of my favorite graffiti murals painted on a vacant building.

mural

 

I ogled the temporary plants and traffic redirection and bike lanes. And chuckled crossing the street.

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It was fun. I had fun. The Toddler had fun. The Husband had to work… but I’m sure he had fun there.

And then…

And then… Monday. The Toddler and I came in from playing in the backyard at about 3pm to the news about Boston. Does anyone else ever flash-back to 9-11 news coverage whenever some sort of tragedy occurs? The confusion, the speculation, the horror — it’s always there.

I don’t have family or friends in Boston, nor do I know anyone who was running the race. My heart still hurts for those who were injured or killed. Their families and friends. For those who live in Boston and the surrounding areas. And for runners everywhere, who find pure joy in crossing a finish line and feeling that sense of achievement, who will never again run that race without remembering those explosions.

From the response of Patton Oswalt, to the words of Mr RogersPresident Obama, and those who share my faith, I drew comfort in humanity.

I hope that you are all well, that you are safe and happy, that no matter what life has thrown at you or will throw at you, you have been and will be strong; when you can’t be, reach out. Love each other. Heal each other.

Blessed be. Namaste. Amen. Shalom.

VV

Eventful Bacon

It’s been a heck of a hiatus, and my kitchen is still recovering. Of course, that doesn’t stop me from making the mess bigger!

After an absolutely dreadful cold that sapped me of any will to do anything (including eat! yikes!), I’m finally almost back to 100% and ready to go again. It’s been an interesting coupla weeks, lemme tell ya.

My mom flew in in the midst of everything to celebrate the Little Dude’s third birthday (three? already??), and I baked him up a little cake from a Duncan Hines mix (that right there should tell you all you need to know about how I was feeling!). Some of these flavors fall in to that “accidentally vegan” category, so I went with the Dark Chocolate Fudge mix. Normally, the box wants 3 eggs, 1 C water, and 1/3 C oil added. That wasn’t going to cut it for the VV household, obvs. I sifted in 1 1/2 tsp of baking soda with the dry mix and used 1 C soy milk with 1 tsp apple cider vinegar in place of water. I found a 3.2 oz Buddy Fruit (apple + banana) in the pantry that I mixed into the batter as well. It worked for the 4″ round cake and several cupcakes.

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I’m not calling that an official recipe — just letting you all know that it can be done!

I was inspired by Phoney Baloney to mimic their coconut bacon after I found a tub of coconut chips at my favorite Asian market. I dragged my mom along to it and she seemed a little overwhelmed. She survived though, enough to help me demolish some of this crispy tastiness. So, here’s the scoop — in a really flexible format. Ha.

Special Sauce

I have no exact formula for this. Bear with me. I love Sriracha you guys. Like. Really love it. And I can’t bear to toss out that tiny little bit that’s impossible to get out of the bottle. It makes me sadface really badly. So, I turn it into my special bacon sawce.

  • sriracha dregs, in bottle
  • 1/4 C Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (coconut aminos, shoyu, soy sauce, etc.)
  • 1/4 tsp liquid smoke
  • optional: 1 tsp vegan Worcestershire or maple syrup

Add all to bottle and shake.

Coconut Facon

  • two or three handfuls coconut chips
  • 2-3 tsp “special sauce”

Preheat oven to 325F. If you have a convection oven, preheat it to 300F. In a small bowl, combine chips and sauce and stir to coat. Spread chips in a single layer on a parchment-lined rimless cookie cheet. Bake 20-30 minutes, until crispy. If using a convection oven, the time will be shorter and you’ll only need to “stir” the chips once, about halfway through. A conventional oven will require some babysitting. You’ll need to flip the chips about ever 5 minutes or so to keep them from burning. Store in an airtight container or bag in the fridge for about a week. To crisp up the chips, bake at 250F for a few minutes, or dry-fry on the stovetop.

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Troublemakers…

Carol is causing trouble again over at Coffee, Clutter and Chaos, making my sweet treats healthier (and not quite vegan — but I’ll let it slide).  She converted my Chocolate Death Puddingcake into a diabetic and Weight-Watcher friendly recipe. Use coconut oil or vegan margarine such as Earth Balance (did you know they have a soy-free option??) in place of butter and rice milk instead of 1% cow’s milk, and the points and conversions should be similar.

I’m sorry I have nothing new to give you guys this week, since our household has been suffering from some sort of Yuck. I hope to be back in the kitchen cooking up evil by early next week at the latest! Thanks for being patient.

If you have any recipe requests… types of food you like, maybe for some more sweets or savories, leave it in the comments below. I’m always up for a challenge!

V.V.

Shenanigans

Never fear! I have not forsaken you!

Cobi of Veggietorials gave me a challenge, and I had to rise to the occasion. I’ll be hard at work typing up the saga and recipes for your enjoyment, so the wait will be worth your while! Just check this out:

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If you want to see the full photos, head on over to The Vegan Virtuoso on Facebook. I’m super-excited (and super-stuffed… whoooo-ee!) to be able to share these mighty-morphin’ recipes with you!

A quick note

Just a quick hello to those of you dropping in to see this brand-spankin’-new blog. I wish there was more content to offer you right off the bat (maybe I shouldn’t have just jumped right in?), but if you stick with me, it’ll keep me motivated to post and improve often. I could toss a bunch of stuff up overnight, but you don’t want to read shoddy posts any more that I want to write them! My current goal is two recipes and one “article” a week. I’ll try to tie them all together, but I make no promises.

You’ll notice a page for “The Basics” in the menu. If there are any techniques or basics that you’d like covered which aren’t already listed, please leave a comment or shoot me an email: veganvirtuoso(at)gmail(dot)com. I’ll do what I can.

Regardless of where you came here from, I hope you take some time to visit Cobi at her blog “Veggietorials”. She’s been a huge inspiration and a fantastic interwebz-friend, and just made an absolutely brilliant and totally adorable video of my Sticky Buns recipe (yes, I’ll toss you Cobi’s direction by hook or by crook!).

Thanks again for reading — I hope to see you here often!

Much veggie love,
Chanelle (V.V.)