Vegan whole wheat mango cupcakes with vegan mango frosting

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For me, the month of May is all about mangoes. Growing up in India, the month of May is the peak of mango season; my mind is flooded with memories of “aamras and puri” (mango pulp and fried mini roti), mango milkshakes, “amrakhand” (the traditional shrikhand, a thick, sweetened yogurt, with a mango twist) and countless mango-based desserts and cakes that my mom made for our birthdays (my sister and I are both May-born).

So for the month of May as part of my cupcake project, the fruit of the month just had to be Mango. It didn’t matter what else is in season in California at the moment, it had to be mango! I’m always looking for delicious vegan recipes for my mom to bake in India with the ingredients easily available in India, so I decided to make these mango cupcakes vegan (and while I was at it, whole grain, with the use of whole wheat pastry flour)!

These cupcakes are light and moist with a great mango and cardamom flavor, and the mango frosting (made vegan with the use of Country Crock plant butter instead of regular dairy butter) is like cardamom-scented ball of fluff!

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Infinitely Adaptable Instant Pot “end of the week” Soup

This is a template to employ some good ol’ chop therapy, clear out your fridge, and make some soup while you are at it. I call this a template because the base recipe can be adapted to any ingredients you have on hand that you want to use up, that have nowhere else to go. Random sausage links, throw them in. 2 ugly carrots, sure. Stale baguette that’s too dry to do anything with, absolutely! Old can of black beans with no future, use it up!

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Mushroom and Potato Pelmeni (Russian Dumplings)

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My obsession for dumplings is well-documented. Whether it’s chicken and dumplings, or potstickers, or Indian Chakolya (called Dal Dhokli or Varan Phal; these are mildly spiced whole wheat and gram flour dumplings cooked in a spicy lentil stew) or wontons, or Dhokle Papdi (bite-sized gram flour patties stewed in flat beans and spices) my love for all things doughy knows no bounds. It’s what I crave on Sunday nights, cold evenings, or after a long tiring day.

I first made pelmeni and pierogis couple years ago, after my husband visited Russia and simply could not shut up about them. He brought me back some cookbooks from Moscow and I got right to it, I was blown away by how simple and scrumptious they were! Pelmeni are a type of Russian/Ukrainian rustic, savory dumpling filled with meat or mushrooms or potatoes or cheese. I made the pelmeni with a potato and mushroom filling similar to what I’ve shown here, and a handful of pierogis with diced apples. As someone living in the United States for so many years, I felt like I needed to alert the authorities – the apples were NOT tossed in cinnamon, nor were they dusted with it. The serving recommendation was to just serve them piping hot with some butter. I resisted the urge to add cinnamon and was rewarded. Something happens to the apples inside the pierogis that we cannot explain.

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Vegan Chai-spice Pumpkin Bundt Cake

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I wasn’t the biggest pumpkin purée fan all these years, and the culprit was definitely its association with cinnamon and “pumpkin spice”-everything. I don’t hate cinnamon but in the US, like clockwork, everyone craves cinnamon come September and it just don’t stop until New Years!. Anything made with pumpkin purée (store-bought) is just a cinnamon-scented assault.

But then I made pumpkin purée at home for the first time (thanks Instant Pot!) and ate a small portion of it warm, drizzled with coconut butter and just a dusting of cinnamon+nutmeg, and I was converted. I made pancakes with it, these brownies were wonderful too (vegan and gluten-free!), and then felt ready to graduate to cakes.

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Garlic Whipped Parsnips

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As someone who routinely dreams of sleeping on a pillow made of mashed potatoes, the carbs add up. I think they add up even if I’m innocently thinking about potatoes; one doesn’t even need consume them.

So one must look for alternatives that are lower in carbohydrates, still good with respect to fiber, and yet don’t taste like pressed sawdust. Parsnips happen to live in just that precise neighborhood, and in the winter months, are just begging to be enlisted to be whipped into perfection. Lower in calories, higher in fiber, a slightly sweet taste – if I wasn’t a potato-head I would switch to them permanently. Just kidding!

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Russian Cabbage Soup (Shchi)

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This soup is essentially a warm hug.

Russian soups tend to be meat-heavy for all the good reasons so it’s difficult to find something vegetarian and light in the soup category; I do make a vegetarian Borscht from time to time but this time I wanted something light, bright and clear, and this Cabbage Soup, or Shchi, totally hit the spot.

This soup is basically a Russian mixed vegetable soup starring cabbage, carrots and potatoes, in a base made with onions sautéed in butter. Bay leaves and whole peppercorns are added, leaving the soup clear, bright and sharp (not muddled due to addition of ground pepper). Sometimes sauerkraut is added, as are greens, but I’ve added neither to keep it simple. I also used this soup as a vehicle to use up odds and ends in the fridge (I’m looking at you, diced celery and turnip from 2 weeks ago).

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