Chocolate-Peanut-Butter Granola

A while ago, Costco carried a delicious, dessert-like chocolate-peanut-butter granola with little pieces of dark chocolate in it. My hubby was a big fan, and I was buying it often. Then they stopped carrying it to bring out the summery chocolate-berry version. Hubby was not happy. He prefers the other kind. The grocery store carries it, but if you think it was a high-end bag of cereal at a warehouse, let me tell you, the price was worse at the grocery store! I told him that I would see if I couldn’t make a version at home instead.

My sister-in-law, Melanie, gave me a recipe a couple of years ago for addictive peanut butter granola. (I don’t know the source of it, so I cannot give credit for it, unfortunately.) Hubby didn’t care all that much for it. I figured it wouldn’t take too much to turn that recipe into a chocolate variation that he would like. Some tweaking and we have a winner! It isn’t as sweet as the packaged version, but I prefer that. If you want, you can add mini chocolate chips, or break up some chocolate bark into your bowl to make it as dessert-y as the bagged version. Or cut up some fresh strawberries into it for decadence that is healthier….or do both! HA! Yum!

As you can see from the picture, it makes nearly a gallon. Believe me, it won’t last long once somebody discovers it can replace dessert!

Chocolate-Peanut-Butter Granola
(Please note that I use as many organic ingredients as possible)

  • 6 c. rolled oats
  • 3/4 c. natural peanut butter
  • 1 c. maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp. pure stevia powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp. sea salt or pink Himalayan salt
  • 1/4 c. cocoa powder, sifted
  • mini chocolate chips or broken squares of chocolate bark, optional
  • fresh berries, optional

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cover a large cookie sheet with unbleached parchment paper.

Measure the oats into a large mixing bowl. Put the peanut butter, maple syrup, stevia, vanilla, and salt in a 1 quart mixing bowl, whisking until well blended. Carefully stir the sifted cocoa powder to the peanut butter mixture until evenly distributed. (If you add the cocoa before this step, it becomes a thick mess that requires water to be added just to get things to smooth out. Then it takes longer to bake and is a bit rubbery.) Mix the chocolate mixture into the oats, stirring thoroughly, making sure that all of the oats are coated. I found that a long-tined fork works really well for this.

Spread the coated oats evenly onto the parchment-covered cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and stir carefully, trying to get the granola from the ends of the cookie sheet into the middle and vice versa. Place back into the oven for 10-15 more minutes, paying close attention to make sure it doesn’t burn on the bottom. (If you place a small piece of the granola from the middle of the cookie sheet on a plate or the countertop and it hardens, then the rest of the granola is done.) Cool cookie sheet on a baking rack until granola is cooled thoroughly. Store in an airtight glass container.

Serve with mini chocolate chips, or chocolate bark, and/or fresh berries and non-dairy milk.

Piña Colada Millet Pudding for the Virtual Vegan Potluck

vvpLOGOWelcome to the Virtual Vegan Potluck!  I have left you my dish to enjoy (ah, the marvels of technology that allows me to schedule a post days in advance), but I won’t be joining you until tonight or tomorrow.  (I’m a Seventh-day Adventist and we spend the day in worship, rest, and family time from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday.  While this kind of potluck is hardly work, it is something that I focus on intently when I wade through the marvelous recipes, ignoring everything and everybody else completely.  Therefore, I’ve chosen to wait until later.)  Have a wonderful time!  🙂

Most of my pudding recipes are made from non-dairy milk, flavorings, and cornstarch/arrowroot.  While they are extremely tasty, they aren’t as nutritious as they are just plain old dessert.  I decided to mess around with a millet pudding that has some whole grain goodness along with dessert properties.  Then I don’t feel as guilty when I eat a large helping!  And my hungry, hungry teens get more nutrients for their vast calorie intakes.

That being said, don’t think that this dessert is so healthy that it doesn’t taste like dessert…it is wonderful!  You can adjust the sweetness as you desire as long as you use a dry type of sweetener.  Increase, decrease – it shouldn’t affect the overall performance.

Pina Colada Pudding smallPiña Colada Pudding

  • 1 c. millet, rinsed and drained
  • 4 c. water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • juice from half a small lemon
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk (13.66 oz.)
  • 1 can pineapple in it’s own juice, undrained* (20 oz.)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 c. evaporated cane juice crystals (I have had good success substituting half of this with 1/4 tsp. pure stevia powder ~ and it likely would work with all stevia using 1/2 tsp.)

In a heavy-bottom pan, simmer the millet in the water with the salt for about 30 minutes, turning the heat down as the water begins to be absorbed by the millet.  Cover it with the lid askew to keep it from boiling over.  Keep a close eye on this, because it can all of a sudden scorch – or boil over – if you aren’t turning the heat down soon enough.  If there is any water left after 30 minutes, you will need to continue cooking it for a while.  A lot depends on how hot your simmer is and how heavy your pot is.  If it begins to stick to the bottom, but still seems a bit damp, remove from the heat and cover completely with the lid.  Let it rest for 5-10 minutes and it will loosen from the bottom and finish cooking, absorbing the rest of the water.  Let cool with lid on for about 15 minutes so that you aren’t trying to blend super hot ingredients.  (Another option is to cook your millet in the oven, covered, overnight at 200°.  It will be perfectly fluffy in the morning and can be blended after a 15 minute cooling period.)

While the millet is cooking, blend the rest of the ingredients in a large capacity blender (56 oz.)  Add the warm millet and blend until the pudding is smooth.  (This makes for a VERY full blender.  If you have a smaller blender or just want to make sure you have enough room in a large blender, you will need to do this in batches with half of the pineapple/coconut mixture and half of the millet.)  Pour into a serving bowl or individual bowls and cover with plastic wrap touching the surface of the pudding.  Chill thoroughly.

*This makes a soft pudding.  If you like a thicker pudding that is closer to sliceable, drain the pineapple first, but it may take longer to blend this way.

vvp Thanks for coming To visit the blog ~ Healthy Slow Cooking ~ that precedes mine in the Potluck, click here!
~!To visit the blog ~ Kelli’s Vegan Kitchen ~ that follows mine in the Potluck, click here!
To start at the beginning of the Potluck (there are about 170 of us this time!), click here!

IF there are folks who did NOT post for the vegan potluck like they were supposed to, and you cannot find links to the next blog in line, please, please, please, go to the beginning of the potluck (link is just above this paragraph) and you can click on missing links from there so that you don’t miss any of the marvelous recipes of those bloggers who DID post correctly.

Vegan Vanilla Pudding

I love pudding.  Usually I make chocolate pudding though, because I’ve always been a bit timid to try to create a vegan vanilla pudding.  I was afraid it just wouldn’t meet expectations.  I’ve made the Mori-nu mixes and they are okay, but fairly expensive ~ and there is a hint of a tofu taste with the vanilla, in my opinion.  It was just easier to make chocolate.  Chocolate covers just about everything.

I have to admit, I was a Jello pudding fiend growing up.  When we gave up dairy for allergy’s sake I tried to make Jello pudding with soy milk.  What a disaster.  If I recall, I sat down and cried.  (I told you I was crazy about it.)  I didn’t think I’d ever get pudding again.  (This was before finding a chocolate recipe.)  I still have micro-pouts about the pistachio.  I am not sure I will ever be able to make that one happen, especially since the flavoring probably has more to do with chemicals and food coloring than the nuts.

This time, however, I just wanted vanilla pudding.  I decided to be brave and experiment.  I made a big batch ~ hey, if it came out well, I knew I’d have to share!  ;D  It was pretty tasty.  I do think that using your favorite non-dairy milk is key.  If you like the flavor of that milk, then you’ll like the flavor of your pudding.  I’ve recently gotten a new soymilk for hubby ~ the boys and I rotate between it, almond milk, and coconut milk with all of us having our favorites ~ and I’m not sure I am as fond of its flavor as I am of Silk’s vanilla…but all Silk isn’t organic anymore and this one was…and it was cheaper.  I think a better tasting soymilk would have made the pudding top notch.  Anyway…use what tastes good to you.  Your pudding will reflect that.

Vegan Vanilla Pudding

  • 3/4 c. (12 T) packed cornstarch **see note below
  • 1/2 gallon vanilla non-dairy milk
  • 1 c. evaporated cane juice crystals
  • 1/2 tsp. uncut stevia (may use 1/2 c. more cane juice crystals)
  • scant 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 T. vanilla

Mix cornstarch with enough milk to measure about 2 c.  Set aside.  Thoroughly mix remaining milk, cane juice crystals, stevia, and salt in a large pot and heat until nearly boiling, stirring constantly just until the cane juice is dissolved.  Stir cornstarch mixture into the milk, stirring constantly until pudding begins to bubble and thicken.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Pour into serving bowl or individual bowls.  Place plastic wrap over the top, allowing it to touch the pudding, to keep a skin from forming.  Cool on rack for an hour or so.  Then chill completely in refrigerator.

Makes about 8 cups.

**A word about thickening with cornstarch….it can behave in a wacky way.  Sometimes it seems to thicken just right and other times it can leave things anywhere from runny to downright sliceable!  I think I’ve figured out that it comes down to how I measure it and how long I cook it.  You can have a lightly fluffed cornstarch tablespoonful, or you can have it packed into the measuring spoon.  Therefore, I have indicated a packed amount of cornstarch in this recipe.  Then you can be certain how I measured it.  I also have indicated that you need to bring the pudding back to a boil for proper thickening and no guesswork.  In this case, I used 3/4 c. (I know, it sounds like a lot of cornstarch doesn’t it?  But it’s really only 12 T ~ there does that sound better? ~ and it thickens a half gallon of milk.)  The resulting pudding was very thick ~ not quite stiff enough to have made a pudding pie with it, but almost.  In the picture, I used the back of a spoon to squish any stiffer portions into a more picturesque texture.   Next time, I’ll reduce the cornstarch to 2/3 c. for a softer texture.  Let me know how it works for you!

Non-Alcoholic Pina Colada Fizz

While I was trying to make a pina colada pudding of some sort, I was doing some tasting as I went.  (Hey, I had to make sure everything was good, right?)  At one point, the creamy stuff in the blender began to taste so yummy that I kept tasting and knew I needed to stop!  Finally, a light bulb went off and I poured a smidge into a small cup and started to play with that, too, in order to make a virgin pina colada.  (I figured at least one recipe was bound to turn out well.)  Just in case it was all in my imagination that my creation tasted amazing, I fixed a similar smidge for one of my willing taste-testers.  When he gave it the thumbs-up, I was content.

Later that evening, my son-in-law was over who likes all things “fancy non-alcoholic drink” and I told him about it.  He burst my bubble.  He told me that pina coladas don’t have anything fizzy in them.  Well…bummer!

It was late that night when I got my next light-bulb moment.  Why not just change the name?  Who cares what it is “supposed” to be ~ this was good and I wanted to share it!  😀  So, here you have it….although, if you don’t want the fizz, just leave it out.  It is decadent and delicious without the sparkling water, too!

Pina Colada Fizz (non-alcoholic)

  • juice from 1 small organic lemon
  • 2 cans Thai organic coconut milk (I used the full-fat version), chilled
  • 1-2 cans pineapple chunks*, undrained, preferably chilled
  • 1/2 tsp. pure stevia
  • 2 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • Canada Dry sparkling seltzer water, raspberry flavor, chilled, optional

In a 56-oz blender, whiz the first 5 ingredients together until very smooth.  Serve in glasses mixed with the sparkling seltzer water to taste. You should probably run a taste test to see what proportion you like best.  Garnish with fresh pineapple wedges and little umbrellas, if desired.  (Unfortunately, I didn’t have any of these pretties on hand.)

The cream in the blender makes about 7 cups if you use 1 can of pineapple.

*If you wish to use fresh or frozen pineapple, you probably will want to decrease or omit the lemon juice, because it will be tangy enough without it.  In making a half recipe, I threw in 1 1/2 c. of fresh pineapple.  It was very good this way.

Coconut Milkshake

Here is a simple way to get a vegan milkshake without the expensive containers of vegan ice cream getting involved.

Coconut Milkshake (and variations)

  • 1 frozen peeled banana, broken into pieces
  • Silk vanilla coconut milk
  • a sprinkle of pure powdered stevia extract

Place the banana and stevia in a blender.  Add just enough coconut milk to allow the blender to work properly.  This will depend on the strength of your blender, honestly.  That is why there is no measurement given for the milk.  Add extra coconut milk to determine how thick or thin you prefer your shake.  Pour into a glass and serve.

Variations:

  • Use almond or soy vanilla flavored milk in place of the coconut.  Add 1-2 T. of peanut butter and a sprinkle of stevia.  You could also add a spoonful of cocoa powder and a little more sweetener ~ or just use chocolate milk!
  • Use a plain flavored milk and add a drop or two of peppermint oil or extract.  If you want it to be green, add a few baby spinach leaves.
  • Toss in some blueberries.
  • Add some frozen pineapple chunks for a pina colada shake

Vegan Custard Rice Pudding

This rice pudding is reminiscent of the old-fashioned custard rice pudding I grew up eating (minus the raisins that I always picked out ~ why did Daddy like those?)  Mama used her mother’s thin, age-darkened recipe written in a spidery hand, which, instead of giving an oven temperature, called for a “slow oven” ~ because grandma had used a wood stove! It has always been my standard against which to measure all other rice puddings.

No wonder I was so unhappy with the rice pudding recipes I found when we became vegan.  Who wanted sweetened rice in a puddle of non-dairy milk?  Where was the pudding?  Where was the custard?  Was it even possible to get that without dairy ingredients and eggs?

This is a combination of several internet recipes from a few years ago.  It has the wonderful custard that so many sadly lacked.  It is not low fat, but it is exactly what I was aiming to replicate.

And if you must add raisins to duplicate your childhood memory, then *sigh* I guess that’s allowable.  🙂  Grandma’s recipe says to add 1 c. raisins.

Vegan Custard Rice Pudding

  • 6 c. cooked brown rice (I have used as little as 4 c., but 5-6 c. is much better) *
  • 4 c. Silk vanilla soymilk (or other non-dairy milk)
  • 1 package Morinu extra-firm tofu
  • 3 T. Ener-G egg replacer powder (no liquid added)
  • 4 T. Earth-Balance non-hydrogenated stick “butter” (1/2 stick), softened
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 c. evaporated cane juice crystals (or sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp. pure stevia powder (or 1/2 c. more evap. cane juice)
  • sprinkle of cinnamon (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°.  Whiz in blender all ingredients except rice and cinnamon.  (If you don’t have a 56-oz. blender, then leave 2 c. of soymilk out and mix it with the blended mixture before adding rice in the next step.)  Stir blender mixture in with rice in a 3-4 qt. dish (a 9″x13″ cake pan is 3 qt.)  Sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired.  Bake for 45-60 minutes at 350°.

The top will split and crinkle as it cools just like grandma’s recipe! May be served warm, but I like it best cold.

*Note:  My cooked rice in this batch was a bit firm and somewhat dry to start the recipe.  It absorbed more of the “custard” than usual.  It was still very good, but since my favorite part happens to be the custard….I, therefore, recommend brown rice that is soft and moist, or use only 5 cups.

Vegan Lemon Raspberry Cheesecake

Finding a tasty vegan cheesecake can be hard to do.  Finding a tasty vegan cheesecake that doesn’t contain a bunch of processed products can be even harder.  With a search engine, I went seeking.  I ended up narrowing my search to just images, because if the picture didn’t look appetizing, I wasn’t bothering to read the recipe.  If the pictured cheesecake was thin or runny, I kept going.  If it looked like a stereo-typical vegan dessert (you’ve seen those, haven’t you ~ the ones people wrinkle up their noses at during potlucks and keep going?) then I didn’t click on the picture to see the rest of the info.

I finally found this one.  The picture was mouthwatering!  My stomach growled over it ~ and it didn’t have any funny ingredients.  I printed it out for trial.  However, the mix in the blender was SUPER sour (I always taste new recipes as I go to ensure success.)  I had to add extra stuff just to make it not pucker my whole face!  (I chatted online with the recipe creator who said that was what she was trying to make, because she loves tart things.  So, if that is your taste preference, check out her version.)  Even after extra thickening and sweetening, it had to be partially frozen to be thick enough to slice.  It was certainly edible (and nobody turned down a second piece, except my fussiest eater who only ate 1 bite and surrendered his first piece to ME!), but it wasn’t exactly what I was going for.

You know what’s coming next, don’t you?  At least you do if you’ve been reading my blog for very long.  Time for revamping into my own thing!  (I did shamelessly use Kier’s version of the crust ~ thank you…it was too good and didn’t need any changing.)

Now, this was more like it! (Tell me if this makes your mouth water when you see it.  Please…no licking the computer screen.)

Granted, this makes a HUGE cheesecake, so you might want to only make this when company is coming over.  But then again, have you ever wished for less decadent dessert leftovers for later?  Me, either.  I do suggest cutting this into 16 pieces at least.  We cut it into 12 and it was almost too much ~ too rich even for our family of sweet tooths.  (Although, nobody left a morsel behind on their plates…they just held their very full stomachs and laid around the living room like so many inert statues for a while afterwards.)

If you wish to make a smaller version, you can cut the crust in half and the filling into a third, but it won’t come out as thick as pictured above.  It will fit nicely into a 10″ pie plate then.

Vegan Lemon Raspberry Cheesecake  ~ 9” x 13”

 Crust ~

  • 2 c. walnuts
  • 1 c. almonds
  • 20 pitted dates
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp. salt

Filling ~

  • 3 cans of Thai organic coconut milk – full fat, thoroughly chilled ***
  • juice of 3 small lemons (about 8-9 T.)
  • 3/4 c. honey or other liquid sweetener
  • 3 c. raw cashews (may be soaked 4-8 hours)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pure stevia powder
  • 1 T. vanilla
  • 3/4 tsp. salt

Topping ~

  • 2 12-oz packages of frozen raspberries, thawed
  • 1/2 c. evaporated cane juice crystals or other sweetener

In food processor, whiz nuts until finely chopped.  Add dates, vanilla, and salt and pulse until well mixed.  This can be a time-consuming process.  If your food processor isn’t very big or isn’t very efficient, try doing half of the recipe at a time.

Press the nut-date mixture on the bottom and up the sides of a 9” x 13” glass pan.  To see if there are any thin places, hold the pan up, tipped toward a window.  Press mixture toward any places that need more coverage.  Set aside.

Carefully spoon out the thickened coconut cream from the top of the cans of chilled coconut milk and place in a high powered blender.  Reserve the liquid for other uses, such as smoothies.  (If you do not have a strong or a big enough blender – 56 oz. – blend in two batches.)  Place remaining filling ingredients into blender in order listed so that the coconut cream turns into a liquid to help blend up the cashews.  Blend until smooth with no tiny pieces of cashew remaining.  Pour into prepared crust, cover, and refrigerate overnight or for 8 hours.

Pour thawed berries into a glass bowl and sprinkle cane juice crystals over the top.  Mix until the crystals dissolve, breaking up the berries into a saucy topping.  Chill.

Cut and serve the cheesecake, spooning the raspberry sauce over the top of each piece as desired.  Or you may top the whole cheesecake with the berries and serve.

***Addendum:  I made this yet again, because we love it so much.  I used some less expensive, but still organic coconut milk.  It failed!  Well, it wasn’t a total failure, but close enough.  It was grainy, too moist, and not as flavorful.  I most highly recommend Thai organic canned coconut milk for the proper results.

Vegan Coconut Cream Pie

I’ve had coconut cream on my mind a lot lately.  It started with another blogger’s recipe for vegan cheesecake that wasn’t quite what I was looking for and had more the texture of a cream pie.  Or maybe it started when my BFF told me about Tropical Traditions’ coconut products – and then I won a quart jar of their virgin coconut oil.  However it began, next Katie over at www.chocolatecoveredkatie.com posted a vegan whipped cream recipe using coconut cream.  (All of her pictures make my stomach growl.)  Well, I just about couldn’t stand it any more!  I had to find a coconut cream pie recipe by search engine.  I spent a good chunk of time looking…and wasn’t satisfied.  None of the pictures looked like what my imagination was projecting and some of the ingredients were pretty bland and used cornstarch to obtain a thick product.

So, I gave up.  Well, sorta.  I gave up the computer search and went to the kitchen to play.  I had enough ideas of what not to do and some ideas of what I wanted to do – at least enough for a trial run.  It was more of a trial runny.  If I froze it, it was too hard to slice.  If left in the refrigerator, it was more like a soft pudding and wouldn’t slice well that way, either.  Don’t get me wrong – it tasted good and we ate every last crumb!  🙂  But I knew I wasn’t done.

The second one I made for the weekend when I knew my daughter and son-in-law would be over to help eat it, so I doubled the recipe into a 9″x13″ pan.  This time it worked!  Everybody really wished there had been more of it.

If you have friends who are gluten sensitive/intolerant, this dessert recipe is for you.  There is no grain used in the whole batch – not even the crust (unless you used flour-covered date pieces.)

This recipe is for a 9″ deep-dish pie pan.  You will have a little of the filling leftover than won’t fit that you can put in a bowl for pudding.  It might work to fill 2 smaller pie crusts, but the crust recipe would have to be adjusted – probably 1 1/2 times.

Vegan Coconut Cream Pie

 Crust:

  • 1 c. walnuts
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 c. raw almonds
  • 15 pitted soft dates (or 1 c. date pieces, may be oat flour-covered)
  • 1 – 1 1/2 T. virgin coconut oil (this is optional, but highly recommended)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract
  • 1/16 tsp. salt

Filling:

  • 1 can chilled coconut milk (chilled at least 8 hours)
  • 1 c. raw cashews (may soak 4-8 hours before using)
  • 1 pkg. extra firm Morinu tofu
  • 1/2 tsp. powdered stevia extract (or 1/4-1/2 c. more sweetener)
  • 1/2 c. evaporated cane juice crystals or sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 – 1 1/2 T. virgin coconut oil

In a food processor, pulse the walnuts, coconut, and almonds until tiny pieces. Add the remaining crust ingredients, pulsing and processing until the dates are completely incorporated and you can press some together and it sticks well.  Press this into a 10″ deep dish pie pan.  Be patient – it takes a little bit to get it evenly distributed.  Also, if you are using a glass pie plate, you can hold it up and look through the bottom to see if there are thin spots.

Open the chilled can of coconut milk carefully.  Scrape out the hardened coconut cream into a high-powered blender.  Add 2 T. of the thin liquid from the can of coconut milk.  (Save the rest of the liquid for making smoothies.)  Add the remaining ingredients and blend until there are no grainy pieces of cashew left on a spatula dipped into the cream.  Pour into the crust.  Chill for 4-8 hours.