A recent post at Vegan Lunch Box actually had me out looking to buy a Twinkie pan! Jennifer, inspired by a tip from a reader, made vegan corn dogs for her son using a Twinkie pan. This, I thought, was brilliant. After all, if you can put a veggie dog inside of corn bread, you can also put other, possibly healthier, things inside. The possibilities are endless!
Well, maybe not endless. After all, there are only so many foods that go with corn bread, and of those foods, only a few are both healthy and tasty. But the idea is a good one–a hand-held food that kids like and that travels well. I started thinking of the things my daughter E. likes best–lasagna, spaghetti, macaroni and “cheese,” burritos–and figured that only one option really fit: Mexican-style beans in corn bread.
The only problem was that I didn’t have a Twinkie pan (am I the only person in the US who hasn’t ever had a Twinkie?) And none of my local stores had one either. I finally found a silicone pan that looked promising; it had nine 3×1-inch rectangular molds, and while they were smaller and less rounded than the Twinkie molds, I thought they would do. So I bought it, and Tamale Bites were born:
(or Bean Bites, as E. suggested)
1 can (1-1/2 cups) black beans
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
salt to taste
1-1/2 cups soymilk or other non-dairy milk
1-1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons agave nectar or other liquid sweetener
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, whole wheat pastry flour, or gluten-free flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
Mash half of the beans well. In a non-stick skillet, sauté the onion until it’s translucent; add the garlic and bell pepper and cook for another two minutes.
Add all remaining ingredients, including the beans. Stir and cook until hot throughout and set aside.
Cornbread (recipe adapted from Food for Life, by Neal Barnard, M.D):
Mix the soymilk, cider vinegar, and agave nectar together and set aside.
Oil your pans and preheat the oven to 375 F.
Mix all the dry ingredients together. Add the soymilk mixture, and mix only until blended.
Pour a thin layer of batter into each cup. Carefully spoon a strip of filling over the batter . (See photo at left.) Cover the filling with more batter. Try not to over-fill the molds.
Bake for about 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out without batter stuck to it. (It may have beans on it, though.) Allow to cool in the pan.
Preparation time: 20 minute(s) | Cooking time: 30 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 12
Makes about 12 “bites.” Nutrition (per serving): 138 calories, 18 calories from fat, 2.1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 310.5mg sodium, 242.5mg potassium, 25.6g carbohydrates, 5.4g fiber, 3.5g sugar, 5.8g protein, 4 points.
I had a lot of batter and filling left over, so I got out my cupcake pan. I made a few using the same technique as the “bites,” and then just for fun I mixed the batter and the beans all together:
They were good, but you wouldn’t want to bite into one expecting blueberries!
I served these with salsa for E., while D. and I had them with a Mexican eggplant dish that came out spicier than I intended. They were great, and E. decided to take a couple to school for lunch today.
We decided that we’ll definitely make these again, with a few changes:
- less corn bread and more filling
- a little more seasoning in the filling
- for E.–refried beans instead of black
I have to say that E. is very interested in the veggie dog version, so I expect I’ll be making up a batch of corn dogs soon.