Category Archives: cakes & cookies

No-Rise Cinnamon Rolls

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There is not much like homemade cinnamon rolls. If you have the time, I strongly urge you to make the real deal yeast-risen kind… You can even prepare the dough at night and put it in the fridge to rise overnight, which bakes up beautiful & fresh in the morning… But… if you wake up on the weekend craving cinnamon rolls and you didn’t prepare the night before, well, dang. Sometimes you just have to figure something out!! Which is where these come in.

So, I was kinda wingin’ it with these and they turned out really good!  You can make them with any kind of milk… almond, soy or even coconut milk from a can… and  you can choose between soy margarine or coconut oil for your fat. I have done them both ways and I recommend using coconut milk (for moistness) and soy margarine (for the flakiest pull-apart sections)! The taste was good when using the coconut oil but it didn’t make the sections flaky like when I used the soy butter. The oil made them almost muffin-y, which isn’t the cinnamon roll I was looking for.

No Rise Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cups flour (basically any kind will do! I strongly suggest using at least half unbleached white flour so they aren’t too “healthy tasting” – C’mon, you’re making cinnamon rolls! Splurge! I used 3 cups unbleached flour + 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 6 Tbsp soy margarine
  • 1 cup almond OR soy milk OR unsweetened coconut milk (canned)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice (tip: Valencia’s are juicy!)
  • 2 tsp melted butter (for brushing on dough before sprinkling filling)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (for the filling)
  • 1-2 Tbsp cinnamon (for the filling)
  • frosting ingredients (see below)

1) Mix dry ingredients and cut in the margarine with a fork or with your fingers until well broken up. Pea sized bits are good. Little bits & pieces make for a yummy flaky dough!

2) In a separate bowl, mix your milk of choice, vanilla & oj.

3) Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour the liquids in.

4) Fold the dough gently with a rubber spatula until it is well combined. Try to mix as little as necessary to avoid having tough dough. The dough should be thick but soft. (If the dough seems a little too dry and isn’t coming together, add a teeny splash more of milk. If it’s too sticky, add a tiny sprinkle more of flour. Do this if only absolutely necessary.)

5) Gather the dough into a ball and roll it out into a large rectangle on a lightly floured surface. It really helps to roll it out on some lightly floured parchment if you have any. That way when you are rolling it into a tube, it doesn’t get stuck on the counter as easily. Roll it out to between 1/4″ – 1/2″ thick.

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Roll out the dough into a thick large rectangle…

6) Brush the dough with the melted butter and sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar. Leave the very edge uncovered, so when you roll it up and pinch it together, it sticks easier.

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Spread the sugar evenly!

7) Roll up carefully & pinch the seam together. Cut the tube into slices (A serrated knife or criss-crossing dental floss to cut the rounds is an easy technique!) Cut them into nice thick rounds… 1  1/2″ wide is good! Im gonna make it a point to shoot for 10 from now on.

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Roll it up!

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Slice it up into thick 1  1/2″ rounds! These rounds aren’t thick enough! Next time I’m making 10 instead of 12.

8) Space out evenly in a rectangular baking pan or squeeze them into a 9″ round dish. Bake at 450 for 12-14 min OR at 375 for 30 min. Always check them at minimum cooking time.

You want to give them a little room to spread out… but the secret to really awesome moist sticky cinnamon rolls is having them close enough to spread/bake squished together…

(Tip: On my first attempt, I gave them too much room. I only put 7 in the pan. I guess I was thinking that way they could get really big, which they did, but the sides were too tough/overcooked from being separated – what I learned is that when they spread together and cook while touching, it makes them way more moist & smushy! So go ahead – jam them all in one pan together!

9) Let them cool for several minutes before frosting them with icing of choice. I suggest Frosting #2.

FROSTING / ICING

Frosting #1 / Glaze

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar + 2 Tbsp
  • 2 Tbsp soymilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Frosting #2 / Icing

So, I was making the glaze, but then I paused because I remembered… When I was a kid, we used to get those Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls that you busted open the tube and they were ready to go with the icing on the side – that thick icing that you had to spread over the fresh-baked rolls with a knife… And I thought, this glaze isn’t going to recreate my memory of those cinnamon rolls. It was just too thin. So I added a few things until it thickened up and tasted just right… So I made the glaze above and added:

  • >1/3  tub of 8 oz container cream cheese (I like Tofutti)
  • a splash of fresh squeezed oj
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • a little orange zest (optional)

Blend or whip thoroughly until creamy. Chill until ready to serve. You can thank me later 😉

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These tasted great but there needed to be more rolls in the pan to keep the sides from being over-cooked. Ooooh! They are soooo goood! I strongly recommend making 10 rolls and squishing them all up in there for No-Rise Perfection!

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Vegan Strawberry Shortcake #2 (the yellow sponge cake version)

I don’t know if its pre-spring fever or what, but I have definitely been pretty busy the last few days… chasing the kids around the house & yard, playing with play-dough, water-painting, going on walks, trying out the new sports equipment that they got for their birthdays, etc. (We had a superhero themed birthday party this year, which I will post about later!) And on top of all the normal “busy mom” activities, I just completed a commissioned portrait. You may not remember I mentioned I was an artist… my art kinda got put on hold after I had kids. One of my resolutions this year was to start doing art again, so needless to say, I was thrilled when a great opportunity to draw a portrait came my way.  Hopefully it is the first of many to come!

Time is just flying and I can’t believe my little girl will be starting kindergarten in the fall. I guess now is the time to really make sure we “live in the moment” and enjoy the last few months of sleeping late and doing what we want all day!! Which leads me to…

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Saturday-morning Strawberry Shortcakes! I definitely have fond memories of eating strawberry shortcakes when I was a kid. (And, no, this isn’t deja vu… I posted a scrumptious strawberry shortcake biscuit recipe a while back).  Anyway, when I was a kid, we usually ate the round spongy yellow cakes with the concave center for filling with strawberries and whipped cream.  My family must have loved them because I never ate strawberry shortcakes on a biscuit until I was an adult! (If you haven’t tried my shortcake biscuits, click the link above and take a look! They are deeeeelicious!)

My husband also grew up on the yellow sponge-cake shortcakes… So, with a carton of organic strawberries calling to me in the fridge and a can of soy whip in the door, I knew it was time to try to make some vegan strawberry shortcake “sponge-cake”… and I knew the kids wouldn’t complain!

Honestly, I usually try not to make things that require a lot of sugar, but on occasion, I will allow my kids to indulge on this kind of special breakfast/dessert.  I also look at it this way: #1) I know exactly what’s in it #2) The ingredients are as simple & as natural as I can buy them… unbleached flour, raw sugar, etc.) #3) it’s not a fried donut or some kind of fast food, and #4) it contains real fruit, which we always buy organic.

Fresh strawberries are probably only one of the fruits found at your local Farmers Market. Our market starts up in March… and I can barely wait! I love supporting the local community and farmers! You can also make this with blueberries and it is just as good!

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This is close enough to “the real thing” for me! YUM!

Vegan Strawberry Shortcake (yellow “sponge” cake version)
(makes 9 squares)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 egg replacer “egg” (I used Ener-G-Egg Replacer where 1  1/2 tsp egg replacer powder + 2 Tbsp water = 1 egg)
  • 1 cup raw sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup soy milk (or non-dairy milk of choice)
  • 1 1/4 cup unbleached flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • strawberry “sauce”  (optional)

1) Mix all ingredients together.

2) Pour into a greased 8 x 8″ pan and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes until a knife inserted in center comes out cleanly. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

3) Cut into 9 squares. When assembling the shortcakes, cut each square in half  horizontally. Layer your shortcake as desired, alternating the cake, strawberries, whipped cream, and strawberry “sauce” if desired. Devour!

I especially find that if I mention the possibility of a special weekend breakfast in trade for good behavior during the week, the kids try a little harder to be good (though I admit, when I do this, I have to remind them by saying “shortcakes” a few times a day when they start to misbehave!) And it also doesnt help that I’m a bit of a pushover for sweets! 🙂

Christmas Gingerbread Cookies… & Chewbacca too.

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So this is Christmas… and what have you done? Another year over, a new one just begun…

I really can’t believe another year has come and gone.  Every year, each of us have personal resolutions, goals to achieve, things we want to cross off our to-do lists or our bucket lists… but what have we really achieved as a whole? Are we kinder people? Are we living the lives we were meant to?  Are we believing in and helping each other? These are among the questions I am personally asking myself on the eve of a new year. I don’t mean to give myself a hard time, but I can’t help but feel there is always more that can be done.  There is always more a heart can grow (remember that the Grinch’s heart grew 2 sizes just in one day alone!), more a soul can aspire to, and there is always more help that can be given!

I hope to do more volunteering and things to benefit others this year. I really respect my mom for doing Habitat for Humanity every Saturday. I can tell how very fulfilling it is to her. She just returned from a trip to Haiti where she helped build several houses. (I’m so proud of you, mama!)

One of my goals this year will be to blog more often, since I believe that eating vegan & sharing these recipes is definitely as step towards living a kinder life in general. I also want to play more music (namely the ukulele, guitar and the piano) and letting my emotions out through art.  I used to achieve those two goals rather easily before I had children, but now, my kids take up a lot of my free time. (Even though “more sleep” should be on my list for the upcoming year, I may end achieving more of my resolutions by going to bed later & getting up earlier! I have been meaning to see more sunrises…) What are some of your dreams for the next year?

Anyway, enough jibber jabber. I think I know what you are really here for… (oh- one more thing- sorry about the annoying blue-highlighted drop down ads. They are NOT there by my choice!)

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No kid can turn down a Wookie-cookie!!  Just try!!

“Traditional” Gingerbread Cookies

These “traditional” gingerbread cookies are easy and yummy. And since they contain molasses, they are high in iron – which makes them the perfect cookie for little vegans! I put “traditional” in quotations because I’m not sure how “traditional” Chewbacca gingerbread cookies are! This is our first time making them, but they will surely be a X-mas tradition in our house from now on! (We got Star Wars cookie cutters & pancake molds from Williams-Sonoma as an early Christmas gift.) This dough cuts best when cold, so roll it out in sections and keep the rest refrigerated until your ready to use it!

  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/3 cup soy milk
  • 2  1/2 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • for icing: 1 cup powdered sugar + 2 tsp soy milk

1) In a large bowl, stir together the oil, sugars, molasses and soy milk.

2) Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and mix until well combined.

3) Collect the dough into a ball, or 2-3 flattened discs, and wrap in parchment or plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

4) Preheat the oven to 350. Roll out the dough. Make it thin for crispy cookies or make it thicker for chewier softer cookies.

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Here are our Chewbacca cookies, before baking.

5) Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for 9 minutes (for soft and chewy) to 12 minutes (for thin & crispy).  Transfer to wire rack and cool. Ice the cookies when cooled.

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To make icing: mix the powdered sugar and soy milk in a plastic baggie by massaging it around until it is thick like toothpaste consistency. Then cut off a tiny tip of one of the corners and ice those cookies! Then sit them aside until they the icing hardens.

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There is (what I’m sure is) another great gingerbread cookie recipe here. Also, these sugar cookies are easy and great for any occasion. We will be making them in a day or two. I am also hoping to get around to making some of these cookie jars & these coffee fudge brownie jars as gifts! Mmmmm!!

With all the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping and things to do, it’s easy to forget that Christmas is the season of giving… so be sure to spread love, kindness, & peace on earth everywhere you go. Make it your mission to remind others who may have forgotten… It IS a wonderful life!!

Vegan Brownies

I lucked out and got this vegan baking book for free on my kindle recently! This recipe is from the book ‘Vegan Baking Classics’ by Kelly Rudnicki. The book describes these brownies as “a nice balance of fudgy and cakey” that “tastes like rich chocolate”. I think that description was right on the money. This is the first recipe I made out of this book and we all agreed… these brownies were good! 🙂

I can’t help it… I am and have always been a major sweet lover. My kids apparently inherited this trait. Hopefully, they will inherit more of my good traits than my bad ones! Being a parent, its easy to worry too much- you worry about your kids growing up right, if they will make friends easily, you worry about them getting enough exercise, you worry about if they will be kind to others and grow up to become good law-abiding citizens (just to name a few things). I guess that is one reason why I always find myself trying to find ways to make things a little “healthier” (such as using applesauce in place of oil, forgoing shortening or butter when a healthier alternative can be used)…  However, you mustn’t forget that some treats are simply meant to be eaten sparingly and when the occasion arises, one should perhaps just  “let it be”, and celebrate being alive by indulging in something that is… indulgent!

Chocolate Chip Brownies

  • 1/2 cup dairy free shortening (I use Spectrum vegetable shortening)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup silken xtra-firm tofu (I use Mori Nu, which is often found on the store shelves with Asian foods, not in the refrigerated section)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup dairy free mini chocolate chips
  • powdered sugar for dusting

In a mixer bowl with a fitted paddle attachment, beat the shortening, sugar, tofu and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt with a whisk. Add the flour mixture to the shortening mixture and mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips with a rubber spatula. Don’t worry – If your mix is very thick, you are doing it right! (You can also stir in some chopped walnuts here if you want!)

Preheat oven to 350 and spread the batter in a sprayed 8×8″ square baking dish. (Like I said, it will be very thick, so you literally have to spread it out as evenly as possible.) Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick/knife comes out of the center clean. Cool completely and dust with powdered sugar. Cut into 9 squares and serve!

Enjoy me with a nice glass of cold soy milk!!

This is my first time making brownies using silken tofu… but it won’t be the last!  I love trying new sweets. In fact, it is hard to keep myself from baking only sweets sometimes! I have always eaten pretty healthy, especially since I went vegetarian (and even more so after becoming vegan… and even more since becoming a mom!). Being a mom has also made me try new things more often since kids can be pretty picky! (Thanks kiddos!)

** THE QUICK FIX **  If you are in a hurry and don’t have time to make homemade brownies (though I find in my experience it is best MAKE time for homemade goodies),  Cherrybrook Kitchen has a great selection of mixes for brownies, cakes and more! Most of their mixes are gluten-free & vegan… and did I mention delicious? Duncan Hines’ California Walnut Brownie mix is also vegan.

Stay tuned… I’m starting to think about what muffins, cookies and breads will make it into my Christmas goody bags this year! Any suggestions are welcome!

Flaky Vegan Pie Crust… and Easy Apple Crostata

I genuinely LOVE this pie crust recipe. The original version is found in ‘The Joy of Vegan Baking’ , though due to my cabinets needing to be replenished, I  had to make a few small adjustments… much to my delight, the dough still came out wonderfully! If you are in a fix and feel like you don’t have time to make an entire pie, check out my recipe for a simple yet impressive apple crostata! There are so many things to be done with a good crust around the holidays, I would recommend having some dough in the freezer (or refrigerator) for when the baking mood strikes!

FLAKY VEGAN PIE CRUST

This makes enough for two 9″  pie crusts or one covered pie crust (a pie with a top & bottom crust). This dough freezes well or can be refrigerated until ready to be used.

TIP: I always put ALL of my ingredients into the freezer for about 30 minutes before making the dough. The easiest way to do this is to measure your dry ingredients in a bowl, put it in freezer. Cut up your shortening and butter into 1/2″ chunks and put in freezer in a small bowl. You want the fat to stay as cold as possible for the flakiest crust!

  • 2 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 3/4 cup soy margarine
  • 1/3 cup ice water (plus a splash more if necessary)

(In the original recipe I mentioned above, the entire amount of flour used is unbleached all-purpose flour and the shortening to margarine ratio is 50:50. Feel free to use either version!)

MAKING THE DOUGH (use chilled ingredients)

1) Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the food processor. Blend about 10 seconds to mix well.

2) Scatter the pre-cut shortening/butter over the dry ingredients and PULSE in little bursts until the fat is broken up into the size of gravel or peas.

3) With the machine turned off, slowly drizzle the ice water over the top. Now pulse  several times until no dry patches remain and it begins to clump. Squeeze a bit of dough in your fingers – if it sticks together, it is ready to be gathered up by hand… If not, add a touch more water and pulse again. Do NOT allow the ball to roll into a single mass (such as you would with bread or pizza dough). For a good flaky crust, you want it to hold together but you want it to look chunky, discolored/patchy and rough. You should be able to see little bits of butter or shortening here and there.

4) Divide the dough in half, pressing each into a flat round disc and wrap tightly in plastic. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes (or up to several days) before rolling. The dough can also be tightly wrapped and frozen for up to 6 months. (Thaw completely before rolling.)

Here is a shot of one of my dough discs (The recipe shown HERE will be posted later this week!)

ROLLING THE DOUGH

First lightly sprinkle your working surface with flour.  Personally, I like to roll my dough out right on top of the saran wrap it was wrapped in and use a lightly floured rolling-pin.  That way it won’t stick, it spins easily and it can be flipped right onto my baking sheet or into my pie plate when I am ready!

When rolling out dough, the trick isn’t to “roll”, but to “press” the dough outward from the middle. I roll my dough out from the center, turning the dough as I go so I am rolling outward from different directions. If you get a split in your dough, it may just be too dry… just gently “glue” it back together with a dab of cold water. Roll it out, big and nice – I’d shoot for 2-3″ wider than your pie plate. Most pies are 9″ so I’d say shoot for a circle close to 12″ across.

Rolled out & ready to flip into a pie plate… or turned into a delicious crostata!

TIP: To relax the dough and avoid shrinkage, chill the crust in your pie tin for 30 minutes before filling and baking. If you are making a crostata, just transfer your dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet and go for it!… Making a crostata is an easy way to look like you’ve been slaving away in the kitchen all day… when in fact… you haven’t!

MAKING AN APPLE CROSTATA

This recipe is great for when you don’t have time to make a pie! I would imagine that you can really use any fruit for this simple dessert… I have used apples and peaches (both were a hit), though I would guess raspberries or blueberries would also work.   It appears that a lot of work went into it when you can literally throw it together and get it in the oven in about 15 minutes, start to finish – that is, if you already have pie dough ready!  Serves 4 (though it can be cut to serve 6). Eat it for breakfast… or dessert!

You will need:

  • one pie crust (for one 9″ crust) rolled out into a 10-12″ circle
  • 2 fresh apples (or 2 peaches, if you prefer… I only used one apple in these pictures, but I would recommend two)
  • splash of lemon juice (if using apples)- optional
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • dash nutmeg
  • 1 Tbsp  sugar
  • 1 Tbsp soy margarine
  • 1 Tbsp sugar for sprinkling over the top
  • soy milk for the “egg wash”

1) Simply cut the apples into thin slices. Put in a bowl and drizzle a tiny bit of lemon juice over them and toss to keep from browning. I’m not really sure how necessary the lemon juice is, since it’s all getting baked in brown cinnamon anyway! But, do as you wish!

2) Roll out your pie dough and flip it onto a parchment covered baking sheet.

3) Dump apples into center of pie dough. Sprinkle the cinnamon, sugar, and nutmeg over them. Dot all over with butter.

Roll out dough, pile on the fruit… believe it or not, this is only ONE apple!

Almost ready to bake!

4) Fold up edges gently and carefully around the center, pinching closed slightly if & where necessary. Brush the dough with soy milk and thoroughly sprinkle the remaining 1 Tbsp of sugar over the top.

Bake at 425 F for 16-20 minutes or until golden! Let cool 5 minutes before sliding it right off the parchment onto a serving dish. Serve to the “ooh’s” and “ahh’s” of those awaiting!

An impressive yet simple dessert!

Cut into 4 or 6 slices! Serve with vanilla ice cream, if desired! Eat for breakfast or dessert!

(I would like to note that I have made this crostata using spelt flour as well and though it was more delicate, it turned out delicious!)

Fruit Crisp

Summertime… and the livin’ is easy.. at least that is what they say, right?! Well, having a garden or yard that’s producing fresh vegetables & fruit sure make living seem easier!  There is nothing quite like being able to go out to the garden and get some fresh vegetables when they are needed!

Something that always makes me think of summer is fruit.  Fresh fruit… grilled fruit… fruit cobblers… apple, peach, blueberry, strawberry-rhubarb pies… mmmm I just love anything to do with fruit! There is absolutely nothing like being able to pick fresh fruit right off the tree or bush and eat it.  We currently have 2 peach trees, a fig tree and 3 blueberry bushes.  We had a small pear tree last year but it got some weird disease and we had to pull it up.

If you are a mommy, this recipe is one that the kids will definitely have fun helping with. They can pour in the fruit and help crumble the topping over the top, which practically makes it for you!

This is such an easy and delicious recipe it is one that everyone should have on-hand because anyone can make it, and like I said, it’s easy and delicious!  I decided to try using spelt flour this time (usually I use unbleached flour) and it turned out beautifully!   It’s good to know this quick dessert is tasty using spelt flour for those times when you need to whip up something quick for an unexpected gluten-free guest**(see note).  As long as you have some frozen fruit in the freezer (which we always do, since we are big smoothie makers over here) you should be able to throw this in the oven by the time it preheats.

** NOTE: Spelt flour is practically wheat free, which makes it a good substitute for people with a low intolerance for wheat, though some people with serious wheat allergies, such as those with celiac disease, are also allergic to spelt. In that case, you should try replacing the flour with a 100% gluten-free baking mix (most grocery stores carry a blend for general flour replacing). Please check if you are making these for someone who is gluten-free.

~Fruit Crisp~

  • 3/4 cup flour (unbleached all-purpose or spelt flour, both work well)
  • 3/4 cup raw sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • about 4 cups frozen fruit (fresh fruit should also work fine)
  • 1 stick vegan butter (I like EarthBalance soy margarine)

If using fresh fruit, wash and cut any fruit you like and sprinkle it with lemon juice.  Frozen fruit works great (no need for lemon juice) and that is usually what I use. Some good combinations I like are peach/blueberry or apple/pear.

1) Preheat oven to 375 F.

2) Combine the flour, sugar and salt.  Using a knife, cut 1 stick ( = 1/2 cup) of cold soy margarine into bits and add it to the flour mixture, crumbling with fingers or fork until thoroughly mixed.

3) Pour the fruit into a square 8×8″ baking dish and sprinkle the topping over the top.  Bake for about an hour, when crisp will be bubbling hot and golden.  Let cool about 5-1o minutes. Enjoy hot or cold! (Try this with ice cream for a real treat!)

We grew these peaches in our backyard!

Crumble the topping on over the fruit…

After baking, let it cool at least 5 minutes!

Enjoy hot or cold!

Traditional Coffee Cake

Here’s something to whip up this weekend.  As you may know, I am a major coffee lover, and that also goes for coffee cake.  This recipe is really quick and delicious.  And it will make your house smell oh-so-yummy!  This is a good thing to make for dessert, breakfast or brunch.  (If you don’t have whole wheat pastry flour, you can replace it with unbleached flour.)

Traditional Style Coffee Cake

For the cake:

  • 1 cup soymilk or almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 Tbsp white distilled vinegar
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup raw sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For the crumble top:

  • 3/4 cup unbleached flour
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 5 Tbsp soy margarine (such as Earth Balance)
  • (optional) jazz it up by adding 1 cup blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly spray a 8 or 9″ square pan with non-stick spray.

To make the cake: Mix the milk, oil, and vinegar in a small bowl and set aside.  In a large bowl, mix flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. (I usually stop here for a moment to assemble the crumble topping.)  Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Add the berries, if using  (If you do decide to use the berries, throw them into a small dish with some extra flour and roll them around before adding to the mix.  The coating of flour will help the berries not sink to the bottom!) Pour into the baking dish.

To make the crumble topping: In a small bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger and salt.  Crumble in the butter with a fork or your hands until all mixed up & crumbly. Add in the nuts. Sprinkle the crumble topping evenly over the cake.

Bake 40 minutes, give or take 5 minutes, until a knife comes clean from the center.  Cool slightly and then DEVOUR!

I am really excited for this weekend.  It happens to be Memorial Day weekend, so there will surely be some fun in the sun and grilling out going on… but I am also attending a party at my sister’s house for my other sister to reveal the sex of her upcoming baby – I can’t wait for this because not only do I get to find out if I’m getting a nephew or neice, I get to see my entire family all together, which is a hard thing to do since that involves 20 or so people!  And I get to visit with my newest niece, Vera, who is just over a month old.

… and on top of all that, we have plans to go to the Renaissance Festival!  I LOVE the Renaissance Festival and I have to say, I’m really disappointed that I havent been in so long!   I must admit I’m a little curious about the food situation there.  I think most of the food will be meat-on-a stick kind of food, so I’m gonna pack a lunch & cross my fingers for extras.  They always have delicious sugar-coated almonds… I also remember them having barrels of big pickles (along with a crazy pickle-man who would occasionally throw a pickle!) Hahaha… oh the memories 🙂

Going to festivals is where one of the challenges enter of being vegan.  On occasions like this, I usually pack us up a really good lunch just to make sure the kids don’t go hungry. A lot of times, I will be surprised and find out something is actually vegan.  You can often find vegan snack foods readily, which are easy to fill up on, but they never feel satisfying and too much of them may even make you feel sick!  Better to be safe and pack a lunch.

There is also a Native American festival at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds this weekend.  I wish I had time to go to that too!  My kids really enjoyed our last trip to a pow-wow, which was at Stone Mountain Park.

Muppet Party Over Here, HAAAAY!

We decided to join our kids birthday parties this year so we could have one giant muppetational celebrational party!  My family and the Muppets go WAY back, so I have been super excited about this 🙂 My daughter just turned 4 on Jan 22 and my son is turning 2 on Feb 14. Their birthdays are pretty close, they basically have the same friends, & they are still so young, I figured I could get away with combining parties… just this once!

Happy Birthday!

MY MUPPETATIONAL CRAFTS

I found all kinds of cool crafts to print out on card stock on this Disney website.  It is FULL of cute ideas for having a muppet party!  I was even contemplating making my own Beaker pinata, but time just caught up with me and I didn’t get around to it!

"These are so cool, Mom!"

Here are the muppet stick-puppets I made… By “made”,  I mean I downloaded them, printed them, cut them out and laminated them and then cut them out again! As you can see, they came in two different sizes – small (which went into the goody bags) and large.  It was really easy, but tedious. They are great though – you can do so many things with them… play like a puppet show, tape them to the windows, stick them in a plant… I keep thinking of more ways to use them!

Here are the little ones, going through my laminater!

And here are the big ones, which are taped to jumbo pop sticks. Check out the pic above with my girl for a better size reference.

Click on this great link to check out how to make these stick-puppets and more muppet party crafts.  These muppet “pookaloos” are too cute, in my opinion.

Once these were laminated, they were very versatile!

I even printed some out on special magnetic paper for my kids for some playtime at the refrigerator!

I also printed out and laminated these animal door hangers for everyone too! I downloaded these off the Disney site shown above.  (Yes, I own a laminater, and I would recommend having one!  You’d be surprised at all the stuff you find lying around that is good to have laminated!)

And of coarse, I had to make cards for the food… Just look up images of muppet characters online and you will find plenty of choices!  Just cut and paste carefully on some card stock and… ta-da!

MY MUPPETATIONAL FOOD

It sure was fun trying to think of funny muppety food for the party 🙂  I copied some of the food-labeling ideas off of other muppet party sites and then veganized things to my liking.  I actually made up 2 new recipes that are my new favorites! I really wanted to make muppet cake pops but I have never worked with fondant and most of the cake-pop dips have some milk product in them.  Luckily I found these cute little muppet rings to use as cupcake toppers on Ebay and got a whole set of 24 for only $7! (I also bought the muppet mugs you see, the muppet plates, balloons, and probably everything else you ask “where did she get THAT?!” Answer = Ebay!)

I found these awesome sigma collectible cups on Ebay for a STEAL! I even got Rowlf (not pictured)!

Kermit & Piggy’s Chocolate Death Cupcakes with Vegan Vanilla Buttercream Frosting – need I say more! (Read more about these cupcakes in my last post ‘Mama’s Sugar Cookies and more for the vegan sweet tooth’.)

These toppers were little rings!

Kermits Rainbow Connection Fruit Skewers – since its February and some fruit is out of season, it took a little looking around to get the organic fruit we wanted for these, but we managed just fine! 🙂 Recipe: Buy, wash, skew and serve!

Mmmm! Fresh fruit rules!

Scooters Back-Stage Snacks – basic hummus & veggies, chips & salsa (My hummus recipe is the first one on my blog. The salsa was store-bought.)

Chips, veggies, salsa & hummus... party staples

Rowlf’s Favorite Treats  (a.k.a. muppet sugar cookies) – I scored this set of cookie cutters on Ebay and used my moms awesome sugar cookie recipe, which she veganized for me (Thanks mama! This recipe appears in my last post!)

my muppet cookie cutters

The best sugar cookies ever - even Rowlf agrees!

Waldorf & Statler’s Raw Vegan Waldorf Salad – I took the traditional Waldorf salad and gave it a healthy spin by omitting the vegan mayo base (since it would be sitting out on the table anyway) and using a different kind of “dressing”.  I got the idea for this one after looking on a raw foods website. (I also decided not to serve it on lettuce for the party… too complicated.)  The recipe is at the end of this blog. It was SO good!!  And of coarse, I had to come up with a witty card for this one!

I forgot to take off the lid for this picture - DOH!

Dr. Teeth’s Secret Stash (of candy) – This was a great way to get help rid of our leftover candy!

Electric Mayhem-osas – yep, we made a pitcher of mimosas for the adults to enjoy!

Dr Bunsen Honeydew & Beeker’s Latest Creation – their latest creation, in this case, was a fresh batch of apple-orange-carrot-ginger juice, made by my Brevelle juicer! Mmmmmmm!  Recipe: buy, wash, chop, juice, drink!

Please excuse my plastic wrap!

Animals Drumsticks – These were just simple bread sticks for quick munching!

Fozzie Bear’s “Bear-y Good Snacks” – these were cinnamon and chocolate teddy grahams.  I had to have something I didn’t make myself!  I discovered that these were vegan by looking at this website, which I check frequently for easy store-bought vegan goodies.

Usually I eat Annie's bunny grahams, but these were perfect for a quick find for Fozzie.

Camilla & Gonzo’s GarGONZO Bean Salad – This bean salad is sooo good, healthy and quick to whip up!  Even though it was a kids party, I tried to have as many healthy foods as I could. This was my first time making this and it worked beautifully.  It was delicious!   Think bruchetta without the bread, & add chickpeas.  This was one of the first things gone! The recipe is at the end of this blog 🙂

Sorry for the bad pic! At least you can see the cute card 😉 This was before I stirred it - it was a party favorite!

MY MUPPETATIONAL GIFT BAGS

We made our own recyclable party sacks by carving a Kermit stamp out of a potato and we used finger paint to stamp each bag!

our Kermit potato stamps

Here they are before I added the red mouths

Inside each one we had muppet coloring pages, bubble stuff, mini muppet stick-puppets, an animal door-hanger, a pack of muppet bandz bracelets & muppet stickers in each bag for the kids.

Here are SOME of our Muppet dolls & puppets!!

My sister made this awesome Muppet throw she found at JoAnne Fabrics! She also made the picture board thingy on the left! What are those called?!

Muppet t-shirts were mandatory.

Who isn't happy with a mouthful of frosting and a Miss Piggy ring?!

Muppet puppets RULE!

...And so do Fraggle puppets!

Now THAT'S a smile!

Even MY friends came to the party... with their kids, of coarse!! I still can't believe that me and my high school girlfriends are all mamas! Apologies to those not pictured. (That's me in the Animal T-shirt.)

It was truly a terrific muppetational celebrational party!

~

 THE RECIPES:

~

Camilla & Gonzo’s  GarGONZO Bean Salad

  • 5 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 6 Roma (or any kind of small) tomatoes
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 Tbsp fresh minced basil

In a bowl, combine the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.  Whisk well, then add the beans.  Toss.  Place tomatoes in a serving bowl (I used a nice glass tupperware with a lid) and add onion & basil.  Sprinkle with a wee bit more salt and pepper if desired.  Top with the bean mixture.  Cover and refrigerate at least an hour.  Toss before serving.

Waldorf & Statler’s Raw “Waldorf” Salad

  • 1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1 Tbsp amber agave nectar
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cups diced apple
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • > 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • halved grapes (optional – I didn’t add these, but i meant to!)
  • lettuce to serve on (optional – again, I didn’t use lettuce because I thought it was just great as is!)

Mix the orange juice, agave and lemon juice.  Add the rest of ingredients.  Stir together and chill or simply serve straight away! DEVOUR!!!!!!

 (If you wanted to make this more “traditional”, you could leave out the orange juice and add 1/3 cup vegan mayo and maybe a splash of water, if necessary? Never done it, but I’m just sayin’…)

Both of these recipes above are also gluten-free 🙂

Mamas Sugar Cookies… and more for the vegan sweet tooth

Like I said, this is my mama’s sugar cookie recipe, so I have to give her the credit for this one 🙂  My mom is a great cook and I remember decorating & eating her regular old-fashioned sugar cookies at Christmas when I was a kid for many years (before I was vegan).  This recipe is just as I remember them tasting and has convinced me yet again that there is NOTHING that can’t be made vegan!  This recipe would also make great sugar cookie hearts for Valentines 😉

Yes, my sugar cookies are shaped like Muppets!

Your Vegan Neighbor’s Mama’s Sugar Cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup earth balance (2 sticks)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • egg substitute: 2 Tbsp ground flax + 3 Tbsp water
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • granulated sugar for sprinkling

Mix powdered sugar, margarine, vanilla extract, almond extract and the flax egg in the mixer.  Mix remaining ingredients except for the granulated sugar.  Add all to mixer and combine well. Divide dough into thirds (I think I’m going to divide it into fourths next time because really cold dough is SO much easier to work with) and shape into discs, wrapping each portion in wax paper (or saran wrap) and refrigerate at least 2 hours*.

 Heat oven to 375.  Grease a cookie sheet lightly (I just lined my with parchment paper). Roll out one portion of dough to about 1/4″ thickness. Cut into shapes, place on cookie sheet and sprinkle with granulated sugar.  Bake 7-9 minutes until the edges just begin to turn golden and cool on a wire rack. Devour!
 

My awesome Muppet cookie cutters!

I discovered that the secret to using cutters like this is having REALLY cold dough!

Cutting the cookies...

Ready to bake!

(* When the dough is cold, it is MUCH easier to roll out and cut without getting sticky – esp if you are using cookie cutters that are NOT open-backed, like my muppet ones – or else the dough sticks and is more difficult to get out of the cutter. I tried flouring my cutter and sprinkling flour on the dough before realizing that if the dough was just COLDER it seemed to solve the problem. I even combined all my dough scraps and threw them in the freezer for a few minutes before re-rolling & cutting again.)

Mmmmm…

The cupcake recipe I usually use is the basic vanilla or chocolate cupcake from the book’ Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World’ by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero. I always rave about this book for good reason and you can buy it right here.  However, the last cupcakes I made for my kids muppet party, I used the “chocolate vegan death cake” recipe from the cookbook of my favorite Athens restaurant, the Grit, and cooked it into cupcakes instead.  Worked like a charm 😉  By the way, the Grit has their own cookbook for sale, which is vegetarian (with many vegan recipes) and highly recommended.  Get yours here.

Vegan Fluffy Buttercream Frosting

This frosting recipe is from the cupcake cookbook mentioned above.  I use it for everything!  This basic vegan frosting recipe is a must-have.  It can be spread or piped. It makes a lot (about 4 cups) so if you are planning on spreading it, you can definitely halve the recipe. I always say this, but you GOTTA get this book! It’s full of the most magnificent cupcakes ever!

You can also add 1 cup of crushed Newman o cookies to the frosting, which is a tip they recommend for the cookies and creme cupcakes, which are scrumptious!!! 

  • 1/2 cup non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup non-hydrogenated margarine (earth balance)
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted if clumpy (powdered sugar)
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup soy milk or soy creamer (i have used Silk regular soy milk and Silk almond milk – both worked wonderfully)

Beat the shortening & margarine together until well combined and fluffy.  Add the sugar and beat about 3 more minutes.  Add the vanilla and soy milk, beat for another 5-7 minutes until fluffy. (Personally, I always whip it for at least 7… and don’t forget to scrape down the sides of the mixer occasionally!)

Keep it in the fridge and pull it out a few minutes before you want to use it 🙂

 

Whipping up the frosting...

 
And here they are looking totally yummy on the cupcake tower! 

Please be sure to check out my next  post ALL about our Muppet party!   It includes two appetizer recipes and also lots of cool muppet crafts & stuff.  (I should have it up later today!)

Baby Shower Love

Sorry I haven’t blogged in a few days 😦 My sisters baby shower was at my house this past Sunday, of which we had been preparing for for several days beforehand! To those of you who are not familiar with hosting a party, that means lots of extra cleaning and food & decoration planning/preparing/etc. My sister is gluten free (and mostly soy free) so we were getting pretty creative with our food ideas. I snapped all the pictures of the food before the guests came.  Last week, my family was hitting our freezer and fridge pretty hard to make some room and we ordered take out twice to make things easier on ourselves! Phew!  I am feeling very happy and relieved – now if I can just relax for a few days until my kids MUPPET BIRTHDAY BLOWOUT this coming Sunday! 🙂

Yes, Sunday’s baby shower was a smashing success, if I may say so! The shower theme was woodland animals… owls, foxes, etc.  So we had all kinds of cute munchies and eats.  Check out all the awesome stuff we all made!

This is the "tree of advice" where we all clipped cards written with our own motherly words of wisdom. My mother made each and every one of the little leaf clips!

homemade baked corn tortilla "owl" chips

Thanks to my oldest sister, the martha stewart of our family... She made a bunch of these beautiful tissue-paper pompoms (which I am keeping up until after the next party and then recycling them).

My sister also made these incredibly cute “mushrooms” made of tomato and mozzerella (not vegan)…

The tomato and mozzeralla "mushrooms" (not vegan) were so adorable!

AND these super cute chocolate covered cherry mice.   I really need to find a way to get a hersheys kiss mold so I can make these vegan at some point. They were amazing.

These chocolate-covered cherry mice were a hit! If only they made vegan hershey's kisses!

My mom whipped up three kinds of sugar cookies (regular, vegan, and gluten free) shaped as owls, moose, bears, rabbits, etc. They were really cute too… and absolutely delicious!  I am waiting for her to send me her vegan recipe so I can make some muppet sugar cookies for my kids party next week!

Of coarse, we had chips & salsa, hummus & veggies, and a mixed organic fruit bowl… the usual party staples…  I must also brag that we also used all recycled paper products and compostable silverware… This was a seriously green party 🙂

In this next picture, you can see my deviled v’eggs (tofu “egg” salad inside of silken tofu squares)… and in front of them, are the “pinecone” crackers (brown rice crackers with tofutti cream cheese and slivered almonds).

I also made a big pitcher of fresh carrot-apple-ginger juice  with my juicer.  You cant beat freshly juiced juice!  Mmmmmm!!  It was gone so fast I didn’t even get a picture because the pitcher was practically empty!

And of coarse, no party is complete without cupcakes.  These were the “Chocolate Freedom Cupcakes with Vegan (soyfree) Buttercream Frosting”.  I used the gluten-free chocolate cupcake recipe from the cookbook “vegan cupcakes rule the world”.  They were awesome!! They were made by using a blend of different gluten-free flours – quinoa, white rice and tapioca.  If you dont have this cupcake cookbook, I consider it a must-have.  Buy it.  Now.

Chocolate vegan (& gluten free) cupcakes with soy-free vanilla vegan buttercream frosting. And of coarse, the cute stick was made by my sister Martha - I mean Jenny 😉

Of coarse, we had to thank our guests for coming with a thank you basket full of goodies!  Our thanks consisted of a Larabar raw food bar (or in some cases, a Luna bar), an organic (vegan) lollipop, a homemade laminated owl bookmark, a pack of flowers (to plant in the container itself come spring), & a packet of green tea and a packet of chamomile tea.  I had actually made birdseed ornaments to hang outside, but they didnt make the cut.  Better luck with those next time!

Several of the recipes seen here are already on my blog (v’egg salad & hummus) and some are simple and just easy to throw together (like the tomato/mozzarella shrooms for the non-vegans or the pinecone crackers) and some are soon to come (like vegan sugar cookies & cupcakes).

One of my friend’s just had a baby, so we are helping them out by making them a vegan lasagna for dinner one night next week, so I will be sharing my vegan lasagna and tofu ricotta recipe in the next few days too.

Make sure not to miss my upcoming blog about my kid’s muppet party! There will be lots of funny muppety snacks and crafts!