Tag Archives: baking

Spelt Scones

I’ve been doing a good bit of baking lately.  My sister (who is GF) recently had her first baby, so I have made her these scones a multitude of different ways… with raspberries, strawberry-walnut, and banana-walnut.    These scones are very versatile and I have found that practically any fruit works wonderfully!  I really enjoyed them when I used 1 cup of bananas and 1/4 cup of chocolate chips 🙂  I can truly say I dont think anyone would know that these are gluten free*.  And the best part about using non-gluten flour is that you dont really have to worry about overmixing!  These scones are lightly sweetened with agave nectar & are so light it is almost as if they fell right out of the sky. I love them!

* Spelt flour is a good subsitute 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).

Spelt Scones

  • 2 cups spelt flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar (i use the amber kind)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup hot water
  • 1 heaping measuring cup of fresh or frozen fruit of choice
  • > 1/2 chopped nuts (optional)

1- Preheat the oven to 375.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl, whisk the spelt flour, baking powder and salt.

2- In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, measure the oil, agave nectar and vanilla and whisk together until fully combined.  Add to the dry mixture.  Stir in the hot water, then gently fold in the fruit and nuts, if using. (If I recall , the first time I made these I questioned the appearance of the batter… too mushy? not enough?… but I’m telling you, they will turn out beautiful.)

3- Sccop the batter (I like to use my 1/3 cup) onto the baking sheet.  If you make them smaller you can actually make 12.  However, I found I prefer the size of the scones when I make 7-8 (making each one < 1/3 cup). You may lightly brush the tops with oil, if desired.

Bake for 17-20 minutes until golden.   Once they begin to turn golden, I usually peek under a scone to check how dark the bottom is to decide when to pull them out! Let cool slightly and then devour!

Ahh.. a satisfyingly simple strawberry gluten free scone!

 

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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!)

Old-Fashioned Strawberry Chocolate-Chip Walnut Scones

My kids are just like me – they can’t resist a good scone or muffin!  And it sure comes to our advantage that I enjoy baking so much… We’d be spending a fortune if all the baked goods that we consumed on a regular basis were store bought… hmmm…. yeah, I think maybe owning a bakery would be a good idea!  I am my own ideal customer 🙂

Old-Fashioned Strawberry Chocolate-Chip Walnut Scones

The first time I made these scones, I used a boxed egg replacer.  They turned out so perfect, that I have just stuck with this recipe ever since… I would love to try these sometime using a flax egg, but I just haven’t wanted to change a thing!

  • 1 “Egg” (I like to use Ener-G-Egg Replacer for this recipe)
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup raw sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup cold butter (aka Earth Balance)
  • 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 cup strawberries, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup soymilk
  • cinnamon/sugar mixture for sprinkling (optional but recommended)

1) In a small bowl, make 1 “egg” with egg replacer & set aside.

2) Preheat oven to 425 F.  Line a cookie sheet (or two) with parchment paper.

3) In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Cut the cold butter into the flour mixture using a fork.  You want it to be crumbly, like bread crumbs or slightly larger like pea sized crumbles.

4) Stir in the chocolate chips, walnuts and strawberries.

5)  Mix the soymilk with the egg and whisk well.  Pour into the flour mixture and mix by turning and kneading the dough until it is all mixed and there are no large clumps of flour. You may be tempted to use a tad more liquid but I assure you it won’t be necessary if you keep kneading the dough and flipping it.  (If you feel it absolutely necessary to add more liquid I urge you to only add an additional tablespoon where needed or your dough will end up sticky.)

6)  Gather the dough into a ball and flatten on a lightly-floured surface.  Pat dough down gently until its about < 1 ” high and cut into 8-10 pieces, obscure shapes or triangles, whatever pleases your eye.  Place the pieces on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with the cinnamon/sugar mixture.  I like to make mine in zig-zags 🙂

Getting the dough ready to flatten out and cut my shapes. I decided to go for 8 this time around...I think the cinnamon/sugar zig-zag makes them pretty.

8 mostly triangle-ish shapes

The cinnamon/sugar zig-zag makes them even yummier... is that possible?

7) Bake about 15 minutes until tops are just starting to turn golden.  (Watch the bottoms for they tend to brown faster than the tops.) Cool on a wire rack.  Devour.

Voila! Stack them as you please (or just eat them)!

Homemade Pizza, Vegan Style

Who doesn’t love pizza?  There is something very satisfying about making a delicious homemade pizza, made to order.  Some people think that when you go vegan, you  have to give up pizza, but that is simply untrue. After all, all a vegan really does is replace the animal ingredients with plant-based ones.  It’s easy… and most of the time it is better for you!  In fact, when I became vegan, I also discovered that I really enjoy a pizza loaded with veggies without cheese at all!

But, there are definetly times when I feel like eating a cheesy pizza… & when I do, I like to use either Follow your Heart brand Vegan Gourmet mozzarella or Daiya mozarella. My husband prefers the flavor of the vegan gourmet, but I think both are just delicious!  (You may want to note that the daiya “cheese” is a gluten & dairy & soy free cheese… And also, it does tend to melt better on a quick cooking time, (such as this 12 minute pizza), which is probably why our local pizza shop offers the Daiya cheese on the vegan pizzas rather than the other brand.)

delicious daiya "cheese"

So, when Im in a pinch for a quick dinner this is my go-to crust.  It doesnt require any real rising time, which means by the time you blend the dough up, you can practically slap it right onto your pizza pan, top it with sauce, veggies & cheese and bake it for 10-14 minutes… so this can definetly be an under 30 min meal from start to finish 🙂

 Your Vegan Neighbor’s Quick & Easy Pizza Crust

(makes one large crust)

  • 1 1/4 cup unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp yeast (I use a kind that I buy in a jar in the flour aisle of Kroger, Fleishmans bread machine yeast)
  • 2/3 cup hot water + enough olive oil to meet the 3/4 cup mark on my measuring cup

(If you are unfamiliar with using yeast, you should note that water that is too hot will kill the yeast.  You do not want to use boiling water.  In fact, I usually stick in my finger to see if it is a good temperature.  It should be tolerable to the finger – it shouldn’t burn you, but it should feel hot!)

1) Preheat oven to 450 F.

2) Mix dry ingredients in the food processor.  Pour the hot water/oil in through the feed tube and let the dough form a ball.   Process for about 40 seconds, then transfer to a lightly-oiled bowl or a floured surface.

3) Let rest for several minutes while you prepare your toppings, then punch it down & roll it /stretch it out to fit your pan. If it doesnt want to stretch as big as you want, just let it rest another minute, and if it gets too thin & starts to tear anywhere, just pinch it back together.

4) Add sauce, toppings & bake for 10-14 minutes until cheese is melty or crust is golden brown.

making the doughball

Here is my dough ball after resting about 10 minutes while I chopped all my veggies!

It is good with cheese or just plain and loaded with veggies!

Misc pizza tips: I use a pizza pan with holes in the bottom.  I think that helps the pizza cook more evenly.  I also give my pan a quick spray w/non-stick cooking spray to ensure that my pizza doesn’t get stuck!  When my pizza is about to go in the oven, I think that drizzling a little olive oil all around the edges of the crust gives the pizza a fantastic end result!

Your Vegan Neighbor’s Homemade Pizza Sauce

Whisk together the following ingredients and spread on prepared crust! This makes enough for 2 pizzas.  (You can also freeze half for another time!)

  • 1 – 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 can of water (use tomatoe paste can)
  • generous splash of olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 3/4 tsp basil
  • 1 1/2 tsp oregano
  • < 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 3/4 tsp fresh rosemary (or 1/2 dry – I have a big rosemary bush so I almost always use fresh rosemary!)

Some of my favorite toppings are chopped broccoli, onion, cubed tofu, black olives, spinach, garlic, artichoke hearts… You’d really be surprised at what your kids might eat when it’s cooked into a delicious pizza! The Yves brand soy pepperoni is pretty good but my kids think it’s a little too spicy for them. And sometimes we just go for a plain pineapple & cheese pizza 🙂  Mmmmm!  I think I’m ready for another slice…

Look! There's a piece of broccoli going in with that bite!

Taking a cautious bite of fresh baked (& little hot) pizza!

Soysage Casserole

This is a great breakfast or dinner casserole.  I could literally eat this for every meal – and so could my kiddos 🙂  It can also be made ahead of time, which is great if you are a busy body.  I included this in the “child’s play” category because it’s easy to assemble, but mainly because the kids love helping tear up the bread (though obviously they can’t help cook the “soysage”!).

For this recipe, I prefer using Lightlife Gimme Lean “sausage”, though any other kind of vegan sausage would surely work (though I have never used another kind).  Some people don’t care for all these “fake meat” products, but for the most part, I find them tasty and a quick healthy source protein.  Having been vegan for 10+ years now, I have tried almost every brand of fake meat, cheese & other non-dairy products out there and I’m always open to trying anything new that I see. Some faux-foods have been not-so-great, but I definitely also have ones that I truly enjoy & find delicious!  If you ever want to know my opinion on a product, don’t be afraid to ask! (P.S. I do not get paid by any company whose products I show… If I am endorsing it, it’s because I truly think its great to use in my recipes.)

That being said… onto the bread!  I find that the heartier/granier the bread the better the casserole.  I would not recommend using a really soft bread, as I have found through experience.  I really like using Masada 6-Grain bread. I cannot stress this enough-  a thick, hearty (or grainy) bread makes the best casserole!

This recipe has been adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks, Vegan Planet, though I have made several changes to the original recipe.

~Soysage Casserole~

  • roughly 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cups crumbled soy sausage (I like to use two tubes of Lightlife Gimme Lean Soy Sausage, prepared as directed below)
  • 2 blocks soft or firm tofu, drained and then crumbled
  • 2 cups soy milk (or other non-dairy milk)
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp ground or whole fennel seeds (if using whole, chop them up into little bits – this is usually what I do)
  • salt and pepper
  • 8-10 slices of bread

1)  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the soysage* and cook, stirring until browned. This will take several minutes.  Once browned, remove from heat & set aside.

*If you are using Gimme Lean Soy Sausage, do this by tearing it into little bits (roughly 1/2″ – 3/4″ pieces) and throwing them right into the skillet.  It’s a little sticky and mushy… just keep ripping it into small pieces (you can chop them up further with a spatula if necessary while you’re stirring them around with the onion) then continue following recipe above, cooking until lightly browned.

2) In a large bowl, combine the crumbled tofu, milk, thyme, fennel, and a little salt and pepper to taste.  Mix well, then mix in the sausage mixture and set aside.

3)  Tear the bread into bite-sized pieces and place in a lightly oiled shallow 9 x 13″ baking dish.  Pour the sausage mixture evenly over the bread and set aside several minutes until the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes or overnight. If it looks a bit dry anywhere, it doesn’t hurt to add a splash of soymilk where needed.  (If you do refrigerate until morning, let it come to room temp before baking.)

4)  Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake until the casserole looks puffy and lightly browned, about 45 minutes.  Let sit for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.  Let cool slightly. Devour!

Mmmmm! I could eat this for every meal!

Banana Chocolate Chip Scones

When someone asks me what I would do if I had all the money and time in the world… several things come to mind.  First off, I love being a mom.  Trying to teach my kids how to be good people is the most important job in the world to me. But that is a job that will never go away, regardless of time or money!  So… next up is helping animals – I am extremely passionate about animals. I love rescuing animals (all 4 of my current pets were rescued) & teaching others to respect and love animals, and I love to show people how many ways there are to help animals, like eating vegan (hence my blog). I would love to operate an animal shelter and rescue/foster animals that need help.  Another thing I love and completely lose myself in is producing art, but it seems (at the moment) I have less time for that now that I am chasing down two little kids!  And last, but certainly not least,  I LOVE to bake!  Cookies, muffins, scones, bread… I definitely feel I am more of a “baker” than a “chef”.  And not only does my baking come from the heart, but it also helps (in a small but important way) bring my love of animals to the table – no pun intended!! I love to produce yummy things from the oven and simultaneously introduce people to the joys of baking without using animals as ingredients 🙂

That being said, I would love to share with you one of my most favorite breakfast scones recipe. No one can deny the goodness of the combination of bananas and chocolate.  (And yes, you can easily find vegan chocolate chips – and I’m not talking about carob chips, which I personally don’t care for.)

Here's one of my favorite kinds of vegan chocolate chips! These chocolate chips are tiny, cute & delicious!

I also find that using part whole wheat pastry flour gives a fluffy end result that wouldn’t turn out the same if you used only white flour. Mmmm. I just pulled mine out of the oven and they smell so good I can barely wait for them to cool for 5 minutes!!

Banana Chocolate Chip Scones

  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1  1/2 cups chopped bananas (or about 2 small bananas)
  • 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
  • <1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 6-7 Tbsp soymilk
  • capful of cider apple vinegar (about >1 tsp)

1) Mix both flours, salt, baking soda, baking powder in a large bowl.  Mix well.

2) Cut in 1/3 cup canola oil with a fork and crumble well to eliminate all balls of oil.  Start with a fork and then use your hands if you wish.

3) Mix in the fruit / chocolate chips

4) In measuring cup, measure the maple syrup, soymilk & vinegar.  The liquids should measure (total) just at 3/4 cup. Whisk them together well, then pour the liquids into the dry mix and fold until it is just mixed.  It may take a minute, just keep folding it over and over from all directions until all the flour is mixed in and no big patches of flour are present.  The batter will be thick.

Measuring out the liquids... be sure to whisk it together well before adding it to the bowl!

5)  Scoop by using a 1/2 cup measuring cup onto a parchment covered baking sheet.  When I do it this way, I get 7 scones.  Press them down slightly in the middle  (they will spread a little tiny bit in the oven).

6)  Bake at 400 for about 12 minutes until bottoms & sides are lightly browned.

Bake until golden brown & yummy looking!

If you ask me, nothing goes better with a delicious chocolate chip scone than some delicious coffee in a Cookie Monster mug!

Variations: You can replace the chocolate chips with nuts, or add nuts to the batter as well.  You could also use strawberries instead of bananas, though I have never done that with this recipe.  I have another recipe I prefer for strawberry/chocolate chip scones with walnuts, which I will probably share another time!

Cakes, Cupcakes and Birthdays

Sometimes raising vegan kids can be a challenge… for example, like when we’re going to a birthday party.  I never felt comfortable bringing my kids their own piece of vegan cake to eat (the last thing I want is for them to feel alienated) nor did I want to tell them they “can’t” have any cake or ice cream that everyone else is eating.  (In fact, I once allowed my children to have a cupcake at a friend’s birthday party before that contained real butter in the frosting – and they didnt die! hahaha) But seriously, my family is vegan for a reason (or several), and naturally I also want my children to feel part of the group and not feel like some kind of vegan weirdo.  My older child, who is almost 4, loves animals and understands why we don’t eat meat or dairy, nor does she want to (at this time).  Hopefully she will continue on the vegan (or at least vegetarian) path on her own as she grows up.  My little man is almost 2 so we haven’t had “the vegan talk” yet!  He basically eats anything he’s given (when I’m lucky).
 
So… anyway, my solution to this birthday cake dilemma is to bring an entire batch of vegan cupcakes along for anyone who wants one.  I must say, this has always gone over smashingly well. This also introduces others to how delicious vegan food can be!
 
The last party I went to (which was about 2 weeks ago), I had to grab aside my kids 2 cupcakes because my vegan cupcakes were flying off the table before the other cake was even cut!  And honestly, I really enjoy bringing and baking cupcakes!  I usually use a recipe from my favorite cupcake cookbook (pictured below) called Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.  There are SO many recipes I want to try!!!  In fact, I’ve made the cookies & cream cupcakes more than once because they are sooo good!

These are the cookies and cream cupcakes (an addition to the basic chocolate cupcake recipe). They contain smashed up Newman-Os in the batter and icing, and one on top.

For my daughter’s third birthday, I baked the “chocolate death cake” (recipe by The Grit, a “famous” Athens vegetarian restaurant) in the shape of Minnie Mouse for her party. 

Here is the baked cake, popped out of the pan and cooling...

 Making the cake was really easy!  The icing part was trickier, but it wasn’t too hard & I thought it was lots of fun piping the icing.  This was the first character cake I ever made and I have to say I think I totally rocked it! I made my own icing and used a piece of an Airhead candy for Minnie’s bow & tongue.  Do I even have to say how much everyone loved it?!  I impressed myself!

All finished! What a beauty!

I also made my son had a Pluto cake for his first birthday.  I found the pan on Amazon online and it was perfect because it was small, so it was his own personal cake.  It’s more of the older version of Pluto than the newer one, and I think it turned out really cute!
 
 
I also made other dog-related “treats” (no pun intended) to go along with it, and hearts too, because my son’s birthday happens to be on Valentine’s Day 🙂

Here are the other sweets I made to accompany the Pluto cake... vegan rice krispy treats, chocolate heart cupcakes and sugar cookie hearts & bones, plus vegan truffles & chocolate covered banana chips (thank you EarthFare for the last 2)!!

As you can probably tell, I love baking sweets & character cakes are my more recent challenge… and they can all easily be made vegan!  Don’t let anyone make you think otherwise!  I highly recommend that cupcake cookbook I mentioned above.  I use the basic vanilla & chocolate cupcake recipes a lot & there are tons of awesome frosting recipes in there too!  It is a vegan must-have!