Pumpkin Sticky Cinnamon Buns

Who doesn’t love a sticky bun? All gooey, finger licking delicious. But many of us find working with yeast not an easy chore. I had to start this recipe 3 times because the yeast didn’t bubble up the way it should, first had the water too hot, then too cool but the third time I got it right. The water should have the same temperature as your inner wrist so that it doesn’t feel hot or cold on your wrist, just warmth. These take some time but they are so definitely worth it.

First, preheat oven to 200. While it’s heating up in a small bowl mix together:

2 teaspoons yeast

3 tablespoons warm water (around 110 degrees, see above)

3 tablespoons agave nectar (or coconut, or honey) [I actually used date sugar at the end instead of the nectar so if it doesn’t work with the nectar try date sugar; mixture will of course be much thicker so add a little more water.]

Whisk to combine and set aside for 5-10 minutes. Yeast should start bubbling fairly quickly. If it doesn’t, throw it out and start over again. While the yeast is working, in a large bowl combine:

1 1/4 cups all purpose, gluten-free flour such as 1to1 or cup4cup

1/2 cup oat flour

1/3 cup brown rice flour

6 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 3/4 teaspoons xanthan gum

1 teaspoon salt

Stir to mix well. If the yeast is now activated and bubbly, stir into it:

3 tablespoons avocado oil

2 tablespoons non-dairy milk

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise (or non-dairy yogurt)

Whisk and then mix into the dry ingredients until just combined. Turn dough out onto a flat surface covered with plastic wrap and knead just until it comes together. Spray the bowl with non-stick spray and return the dough to the bowl cover with plastic wrap and let rest about 15-20 minutes.

Turn off the preheated oven. Turn the dough back out onto the plastic wrap surface sprinkled with some of the flour and roll out to approximately 14″x10″ rectangle. Spread with a filling of:

4 tablespoons vegan margarine or avocado oil

6 tablespoons date sugar

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Leave about 1/2″ unfilled along one of the 10″ sides to help seal the buns. Roll the dough beginning on the edge you didn’t leave unfilled and be sure to rub the last edge into the roll to seal it. Cut into 10-11 rolls* using a knife or pizza cutter (or even dental floss). Spray with non-stick cooking spray a baking dish large enough to hold the buns loosely. Or grease the dish generously with vegan margarine and sprinkle with chopped nuts or seeds if desired. Place the buns in the dish, leaving space for them to rise. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the oven to rise for approximately 2 hours until they’re about doubled in size. Remove and heat the oven to 375 degrees. While the oven heats, prepare the glaze by mixing:

1/2 cup agave nectar (or coconut nectar)

1/4 cup non-dairy milk

1/4 cup avocado oil

1/4 cup honey

*I actually cut my buns much smaller so I got 15-16 rather than the 10-11. Pour the glaze over the buns before baking.* Bake for 25-30 minutes depending on the size of the buns. A toothpick inserted in the middle of the dough part of a bun (in the middle of the pan) coming out clean means they are cooked. Remove and serve immediately. The sticky part will be on the bottom of the buns. Easily reheat in the microwave for about 30 seconds per bun.

*If preferred, use a glaze after baking instead of the honey bee glaze. Whisk together:

6 tablespoons vegan margarine

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup sugar-free confectioners sugar (there’s a monk fruit based one available)

1-2 tablespoons non-dairy milk

Pour the glaze over the buns before serving.

Sweet and Sour Chicken Salad

I often buy a rotisserie chicken, it’s a quick and easy meal. I’m careful of course, all rotisserie chickens are not equal. I read the ingredients until I found one that had no soy, canola, or corn oil. But since I live alone, this chicken always has lots of meat left over. I do so love chicken salad but even that can get boring when always made the same. I’ve added curry powder and made curried chicken salad which is delicious but I recently tried using a sweet and sour dressing, much like one used for coleslaw. Delicious, very easy and tasty at the end of summer when we’re getting tired of the same old salads.

I like to pulse my cooked chicken in my food processor to produce a slightly chunky chicken. Don’t take it to the extent of puree, just a fairly rough chop, almost like cooked ground chicken meat. For 4 servings, dice or pulse:

2 cooked chicken breasts, of medium size

Remove from food processor or cutting board into a bowl. Dice or pulse:

4-5 stalks celery, cleaned and quartered

4-5 scallions, cleaned and quartered

1/2 cup shredded carrots (or diced carrots)

Add to the chicken meat. I also add:

1/2 cup cooked baby peas

Mix these ingredients together. In a separate smaller bowl make the dressing using:

1 cup vegan mayonnaise

1 good dash hot sauce (optional)

2 tablespoons vinegar

2 tablespoons honey, agave nectar or date syrup

2 tablespoons dill pickle relish (or minced dill pickle)

Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk the dressing to combine and then add to the meat mixture. Mix well, chill and serve over a bed of mixed greens. Tomatoes and avocado on the side are a nice addition to this meal. I’ll often also garnish my chicken salad with pumpkin seeds or mix into the salad sesame or poppy seeds.

Rice Crispy Bars

This is a rice bar that is carob rather than marshmallow based so it’s much simpler to make. Quick and easy it makes a tasty treat. I cut them, put several into a baggie and put them in the freezer so I can take one out when I really need something sweet.

Prepare an 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish by lining it with parchment paper. Into a medium size bowl place:

1/3 cup avocado oil

2/3 cup tahini (thicker rather than thinner tahini) or pumpkin butter (or any seed or nut butter you like)

1/4 cup agave or coconut nectar, date or maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or 1/4 teaspoon mint extract if a minty flavor is desired)

Whisk together until smooth. Add:

1/2 cup carob powder (or cocoa if you can have it)

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (or any other seed or nut chopped that your family enjoys)

1 1/4 cup puffed rice cereal (or any puffed cereal your family likes)*

Stir to combine. (*More or less cereal may be needed depending on the consistency of the butter added.) Spread in the prepared dish and put in the freezer for 1 hour or until it is solid when you lift the parchment paper out of the dish. Slice and enjoy!