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Cocoa-Cake Brownie Bites with Creamy Chocolate-Peanut Butter Frosting

 Makes 26 to 30 brownie bites


1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry or whole wheat flour

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons flaxseeds

2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar

3/4 cup sweetened nondairy milk, plus more on side

1/2 cup melted vegan margarine

1/2 cup chopped pecans


1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips (55%)

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon peanut butter (you may use sunflower butter or sesame tahini, if desired)

3 tablespoons sweetened nondairy milk

1 tablespoon maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Thoroughly coat a 9-inch square baking pan with vegan margarine or vegan butter. Line the pan with unbleached parchment paper, leaving 2-inch wings on two sides of the pan.

Put the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl and stir with a dry whisk until combined. Put the flaxseeds in a high performance blending appliance and process into fine flour. Add the ground flaxseeds to the flour/cocoa mixture and stir with the whisk until combined. Add the sugar and whisk until almost no lumps remain. Add the nondairy milk and melted margarine, and stir, just until moistened and no bits of dry flour remain. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons more of the nondairy milk, if the mixture seems dry. Fold in the pecans.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out clean. Put the brownies on a wire rack. Let cool for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, to make the frosting, put the chocolate chips, peanut butter, nondairy milk, and maple syrup, into a double boiler. Cook, over low heat, until the chocolate chips melt, stirring occasionally, to thoroughly combine the frosting. Let cool 3 to 5 minutes.

Spread the frosting over brownies in the pan. Put the brownies in the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes to allow the frosting to begin to set.

Holding on to the paper “wings,” transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut the brownies into 26 to 30 small rectangles, using a sharp serrated knife.

Transfer the brownies to the refrigerator, and let chill for at least 10 minutes more before serving. Covered, and stored in the refrigerator, the brownie bites will keep for about 3 days.


Mac ’n Peas with Creamy Butternut Squash Sauce


3¾ cups peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped butternut squash

1 tablespoon miso 1⁄3 cup raw cashews

½ cup plus 1½ tablespoons filtered or spring water

1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more as needed

1 tablespoon mellow white miso (optional)

¼ teaspoon dry mustard powder

¼ teaspoon smoked paprika

1⁄8 teaspoon ground turmeric

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 pound elbow pasta, cooked al dente and chilled

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

2 to 3 slices whole grain bread

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed

Fit a steamer basket into a medium-sized saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Add 2 to 3 inches of cold water to the pot and then add the butternut squash (see note). Cover and bring to a boil. Steam the butternut squash until very tender, about 20 minutes. Let the butternut squash cool for about 20 minutes (see note).

Meanwhile, put the cashews and 1⁄2 cup water in a small bowl. Let soak for 30 to 40 minutes. Drain the soaking water from the cashews and thoroughly rinse the cashews under clean, cold running water.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Put the cooled butternut squash, miso, cashews, 11⁄2 tablespoons of cold water, mustard powder, smoked paprika, 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, cayenne pepper and turmeric into blender and process until the consistency of a thick, smooth sauce. Add more water 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed, to achieve the desired consistency.

Put the sauce, pasta and peas in a medium sized casserole with tight fitting lid, that has been liberally coated with vegan margarine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cover and bake 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the bread into blender and process into crumbs. Add olive oil and stir to coat. Remove casserole from oven and uncover. Top with crumbs and bake, uncovered, an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until bubbling and heated through.

Chef’s note: If you are fan of garlic, add 2 small cloves minced garlic tot the butternut squash when steaming. Proceed as directed.


Grilled Cheeze-y and Avocado Sandwich

Makes 3 servings

6 slices whole grain or multi-grain sandwich bread

3 teaspoons vegan “butter,” plus more as needed

3 teaspoons vegan mayonnaise

3 to 6 slices mozzarella or cheddar-style vegan cheese

1 avocado, sliced

Preheat a panini maker to 375 degrees F (see note).

Thinly spread some vegan “butter” over each slice of bread. Lay one slice on a plate and spread with a small amount of the mayonnaise. Top with 1 or 2 vegan cheese slices and then top with avocado slices. Top with the other slice of bread, with “buttered” side facing upward.

Put the sandwich in the panini maker. Close the lid and let cook for 3 to 6 minutes (checking often), or until the sandwich is golden brown on the outside, cheese has almost melted and avocado is warmed on the inside.

Put the sandwich on a serving plate and let sit for at least 2 minutes, allowing the sandwich to cool slightly and for the cheese to firm up slightly. Cut in half and serve.

Chef’s Note: If you do not have a panini maker, you can make this sandwich in a skillet on the stove. Prepare as instructed, but make certain to weigh down with a pan lid while cooking, and flip the sandwich halfway through cooking. Cook on both sides until golden brown on the outside and warm on the inside.