Whole Grain Raspberry Coconut Muffins

Raspberry Coconut Muffins | Veggie and the Beast #vegan #wholegrain

I’ve always been someone who sits down to meals, because I like focusing when I stuff my face. Eating is one of my favorite things, so why not cherish it, right?

Lately, however, I seem to be all about quick, portable foods. I’ll reheat a pizza slice in the microwave and take bites while wiping down the kitchen counters with my free hand. Or I’ll devour a muffin in a sleepy haze on my way back to bed after turning on the coffee maker in the morning.

Note to self: Work on mindful eating.

Raspberry Coconut Muffins | Veggie and the Beast #vegan #wholegrain

I made a batch of these cute, berry-filled muffins on Sunday night, after Ryan and I returned from his cousin’s wedding in Wisconsin. It would have been better had I baked them before our weekend, as there were several times when Ryan joked that he should carry granola bars in his pocket to feed me in emergency situations, and my hunger level (aka “hangry” level) became a running joke with some of his family members.

Portable baked goods belong with long weekends away from home. They just do.

Raspberry Coconut Muffins | Veggie and the Beast #vegan #wholegrain

Because I want to help you guys avoid “hangry” episodes, I’m sharing these muffins, which are perfect for your long summery weekends. These muffins come with options. These muffins just want to be loved. These muffins want to be whatever you want them to be.

For example…

  • I’ve made these muffins vegan, and I’ve also made them with an egg.
  • I’ve made these muffins healthy, and I’ve made them with extra sugar and oil.
  • I’ve made these muffins with whole spelt flour, and I’ve made them with whole wheat flour. You can make them with straight-up white flour if you want.
  • Maybe you even want to make them gluten free? I haven’t done that, but you go, Glen Coco!

Raspberry Coconut Muffins | Veggie and the Beast #vegan #wholegrain

I personally like my muffins 100% whole grain (spelt or whole wheat), with less sugar and oil, so I can eat them for breakfast with some peanut or almond butter drizzled on top (…or dipped in the jar on my sleepy, pre-coffee walk back to bed). Mmmmmm yes.

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Vegan Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

Vegan Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies | Veggie and the Beast

In elementary school, my best friend and I went through a phase where we pretended we had a cooking show, and my dear mom would record us making things like boxed brownies and cakes. I’d like to say this was cute of us, but to give you a visual, I believe I was in the midst of my overly-curled thick bangs, crooked pre-braces teeth, and screen-printed animal t-shirt phases. Adolescence went well for me.

Vegan Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies | Veggie and the Beast

During one of these video shoots, I was in charge of putting together the liquid ingredients for our boxed brownies. Instead of 1/3 cup of water I filled the measuring cup to 1 1/3 cup. My mom captured us removing flat, rubbery , inedible brownies from the oven.

Vegan Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies | Veggie and the Beast

So here I am, likely one of the only people to ever mess up boxed brownies, telling you how to make brownies. Oh life, you’re so ironic.

THESE brownies though, are anything but rubbery. The chocolate base is rich, dark, chewy, and swirled with a lightly-sweetened peanut butter mousse. Right when you take them out of the oven, sprinkle on some fleur de sel (or sea salt, if we’re being less fancy), and you have fudgy, sweet-yet-salty heaven.

Vegan Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies | Veggie and the Beast

So much better than a box…especially if I’m involved.
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Vegan Salted Caramel Pecan Rolls

Vegan Salted Caramel Rolls | Veggie and the Beast

I’ve been on a yeasty baking kick lately. I find it strangely satisfying when a ball of dough doubles in size in about an hour. It’s like magic…magic that leads to really fluffy, chewy, delicious things.

Vegan Salted Caramel Rolls | Veggie and the Beast

This prolonged carb high has led to many versions of sweet rolls. For the past several weeks, I’ve arrived at our Sunday family dinners with a new version of sugary, rolled-up goodness. The version I’m sharing today has been my very favorite.

They’re Teia’s favorite, too.

Vegan Salted Caramel Rolls + Teia | Veggie and the BeastVegan Salted Caramel Rolls | Veggie and the Beast

It all started on Easter morning, when I scanned my Instagram feed and saw that eeeeeeveryone was making cinnamon rolls. I suddenly had a craving that wouldn’t go away. Unfortunately, I had overslept and needed to leave for brunch at my parent’s house in about an hour. A google search for quick cinnamon rolls brought me to Minimalist Baker’s beautiful blog (one of my very favorites), so I threw together “The World’s Easiest Cinnamon Rolls” before I left my home, baked them at my parent’s house, and bam, craving fixed in record time.

Vegan Salted Caramel Rolls | Veggie and the Beast

Over the next couple weeks I played around with the simple recipe, and ended up with these salted caramel pecan rolls. They’re 100% vegan, made with mostly whole wheat flour, and pretty darn easy. I have a new favorite sweet roll, and it’s going to make its way into my weekend mornings a wee bit too often.

I recommend you make these for Mother’s Day, and every Sunday after that for the rest of eternity.

Vegan Salted Caramel Rolls | Veggie and the Beast

I covered my rolls tightly with plastic wrap, stored them on the kitchen counter, and took bites when I passed by for 4 days before I felt weird about it. Since there is no dairy in the recipe, I had no qualms about leaving them on the counter. You can refrigerate them if you want, but they will dry out faster, so you’ll want to eat them within a day or two. They taste best when warmed in the microwave, although I ate them at room temperature (…with a fork, directly from the pie pan), so do as I say, not as I do.

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Lemon Basil Shortbread Cookies

Lemon Basil Shortbread Cookies | Veggie and the Beast

It’s about time we talked about basil.

Until circa 2009, I rarely bought fresh basil. I had dried basil in my cupboard, and it lasted longer than fresh, so I figured it made more sense. Then, in the summer of 2009 my then-roommate and I split a community-supported agriculture (CSA) share. In those boxes we’d get these beautiful, fresh, huge batches of basil. The best pizza I’ve ever made included local heirloom tomatoes (which I used to make both sauce and toppings), fresh mozzarella, and large leafs of local basil.

I’ve been hooked ever since.

Lemon Basil Shortbread Cookies | Veggie and the Beast

Basil is a big part of my life these days, both in the kitchen and out. Last Spring Ryan started a hydroponic farm so he could supply local co-ops with fresh produce year-round. Currently he’s mostly producing basil, which works out wonderfully if you’re me and want basil on all the things.

If you’re fortunate enough to live somewhere warm, you may think that fresh, local basil year-round is no big thang. In Minnesota, where humans barely survive the winter, finding a way to successfully grow and sustain large crops in -20 degree weather is no small feat.

I’m fortunate to know a basil guy. I have an “in” with local produce, and it’s fabulous.

Lemon Basil Shortbread Cookies | Veggie and the Beast

We regularly put Ryan’s basil (the best damn basil in town, I believe) on pizzas, in sandwiches, in pasta sauces, or blended up into pesto. To switch things up, I decided it was high time I put some basil in my cookies.

I know basil cookies may sound a bit strange to some of you, but hear me out. These cookies are buttery, light, crisp, and have a splash of lemon flavor. Although I usually feel a bit “meh” about shortbread, the lemon and basil make for one flavorful, bright little treat that just meeeeelts in your mouth.

Butter, guys. It’s all about the butter and the basil.

Lemon Basil Shortbread Cookies | Veggie and the Beast

The simple lemon glaze comes together quickly, but an even quicker option would be to just sift a little powdered sugar on top of the cooled cookies. The sprinkle of white will add a little pretty flair.

These cookies feel fancy because of their shape, luxurious texture, and the fact that they include an herb (duh). If you’re refined, maybe you’ll eat them leisurely while sipping black tea. If you’re me, maybe you’ll eat them straight from the plastic tupperware while cleaning up your stressfully-dirty kitchen.

Lemon Basil Shortbread Cookies | Veggie and the Beast

At least my cookies have class.
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Whole Grain Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies

Whole Grain Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies | Veggie and the Beast

It’s been a while since my body told me, definitively, that I need to slow down and take a breath. I finally reached that point last Wednesday.

In the midst of a comically stressful week, my body succumbed to one of the worst colds I’ve ever had. It felt as though I had been hit by the sickness bus. My head hurt, my back hurt, my body ached, my nose itched, and my sneezes were so intense that I saw my dog’s entire body jump with each expulsion, as though levitating from the energy coming from my mouth.

Every moment I spent vertically made me feel worse. My body forced me to slow down, sleep a ton, and finally watch Frozen. Totally worth all the hype, by the way.

Whole Grain Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies | Veggie and the Beast

When I felt well enough to move like a normal human, I decided to bake cookies for myself. Most of my baked goods are made with others in mind. I always know I’ll enjoy them as well, but my main thought when baking will be, “My family will love these,” or “I can bring these to work/my friend’s house” etc. This time I made cookies just for me, specifically to my tastes and food preferences. Sure, I’ve shared with friends and family when they’ve been around, but this particular batch of cookies has made its home in my little glass cake stand on my kitchen counter, and is primarily being consumed by yours truly. These cookies make me happy.

It was a small step in self nurture, which is something I’ve kind of been lacking lately. I have no qualms about making myself feel better with food. It is what it is, and it’s pretty tasty.

Whole Grain Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies | Veggie and the Beast

These cookies are made without refined flour or sugar, but they’re also made with a hefty amount of brown butter and dark chocolate. Since I’m a bit of a whole foods advocate, but also a brown butter and chocolate advocate, all of these ingredients seemed appropriate.

Whole Grain Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies | Veggie and the Beast

I used spelt flour, because I love its subtle nutty flavor, but you can definitely swap whole wheat pastry flour, or unbleached all purpose (if you’re not concerned with the “whole grain” thing). Almond meal adds moistness and a light almond flavor to the dough, while old-fashioned oats bring a bit of texture. If you don’t have sucanat (dried sugar cane) on hand, I suspect you could swap it with brown sugar, since the flavor is very similar.

These cookies are thick, chewy, and stay soft for days. I like heating them up in the microwave for 10-15 seconds before devouring, because melted chocolate chips make life better.

Whole Grain Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies | Veggie and the Beast

Take care of yourself. Make some cookies.
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