Web Feast Friday: Rawmageddon Begins


Friday the First can mean only one thing:  RAWMAGEDDON has begun!  Our first 30 Day Challenge went surprising well as we managed to post almost every day during January.  We missed a couple of days, but definitely feel pretty confident that we can continue our streak.  Now that February has begun, 30 Day Challenge #2 has begun in which we eat raw every meal, every day.  Day 1 is in the books with juices, smoothies, nuts, and salads dominating the menu.  We have some interesting recipes queued up for a few occasions and look forward to sharing some of these with our faithful readers.  In the meantime, we leave you with some great ideas for your Super Bowl Sunday festivities!

Anything that’s vegan AND fully loaded has to be good.  Right?

Sunday brunch idea to get primed for the big game!

CUPCAKES!!

For those of you taking on Rawmageddon with us, add this to your Big Game must-cook list.

I’ve ask myself this question so many times.  Now I have an answer.

If you haven’t liked any ideas thus far, here’s a whole list of ideas to help you write your Super Bowl menu.

Here’s the “big game” I’m really looking forward to this weekend.  J-Pow!!

I couldn’t help myself.  I had to end things with some more BTnH.

Web Feast Friday: Sunday Edition


As you may or may not have noticed, our streak of blogging came to an end on Friday, January 25.  I am actually impressed that we made it that long considering the whirlwind of adventures and funtivities we have been engaging in over the last couple of weeks. We spent this past weekend relaxing, skiing, cooking, and imbibing with our dear friends in Sunriver, Oregon.  I’m blaming our streak coming to an end on a fun-friend-filled weekend.  Best.Excuse.Ever.

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Mountains, outdoor activities, and wildlife. Sounds like a damn good time to me!

 

We forgot our camera back at the cabin, so this isn’t actually depicting our day. Add in icy snow and 25 mph winds, and you get the idea.

We had actually been saving up lots of great links to share on Friday, so we figured why not get “caught up” with our blog posts by cranking out some bonus posts on Sunday.  This Webfeast is dedicated to our weekend in Sunriver and will definitely get us back on track and prep us for our next 30 Day Challenge which is our Raw February!

After this past weekend, a detox is definitely in order!

Feeling a little acidic?  We definitely are.

We’re in the process of writing our Super Bowl party menu.  These might make the cut.

A new obsession.

We’re in the market.  Anyone have any recommendations or reviews to share?

This came in handy after a long day on the hill.  Vegan and GF!!

Kickstart my Vegan Heart

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Being huge fans of the website Kickstarter, we find ourselves constantly looking for independent businesses, projects, and ideas to support in hopes of expanding the ever-growing world of vegan commerce.  When you add in our passion for cookbooks, new and old, it’s no surprise that we jumped at the opportunity to fund an all-vegan cookbook inspired by the author’s world travels and culinary adventures.  This project was met its funding goal last October, and we have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the finished product.  The authors have done a great job of keeping us posted on the progress, sharing additional recipes and thoughts along the way, and building the excitement up to the release date.

We recently received our copy of The Lotus and Artichoke and couldn’t wait to crack it open and start cookin’!  Along with the author’s story and pictures of adventures, the book features amazing recipes from all over the globe representing multiple cuisines and ethnic fare.  We’ve already “tested” a couple recipes, and have several more on our growing list to try out over the course of the next month or so.  They will definitely make an appearance on the blog, and we are looking forward to sharing these with all you in.  In the meantime, check out the official website for the Lotus and the Artichoke, and head on over to their Facebook page and give them some love.  If you feel inspired enough, pick up a copy or three for yourself and two of your best friends and get cookin’ yourself!

If you need some extra inspiration or a soundtrack for your cooking, we leave you with this gem.

Treat yo self! Portland, OR edition

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There is one reason I remain in the corporate world: mandatory pre-meeting icebreakers. Yes, there is the whole part where you get to know the nuances, neuroses, and embarrassing moments of your co-workers that you can strategically use against them later as covert punishment and/or boredom quenching entertainment.  My favorite part is where I get to make up shit about myself.  My last team thought I was a WWE tagteam star, traveling the small regional circuit until I had to quit to follow my dream of being a standup comedian. The group before that thought that I was in the Navy Seals and every time they would ask a question, I would stare dreamingly into the distance and whisper, “I can’t talk about it.” I prefer to remain the wildcard in the office. The wildcard may play the Ghostbusters soundtrack on loop, use idioms incorrectly like “twelve of one, 1/6th of another”, start a fight club, wear pajama jeans, and decorate their office with an inappropriate amount of artificial foliage.  The best part is ambiguous unpredictability really makes any level of work seem exceptional. All my leaders know – you want to motivate Hayley, have her organize the mandatory fun or give her an occasion to bake/consume treats.

So it was no surprise when I discovered and instantly fell in love with the hilarity of David Fullarton’s “Pictures with words on them”, especially the mischeviously apathetic “apology” card.

http://www.davidfullarton.com = the perfect words to express how you really feel

Ahhh…Few things will make me feel better after a long day then passive agressive notes. Yet on those really tough days you just have to decompress, head to your fave city, and TREAT YO SELF! Snacks, facials, desserts, whiskey, cashmere sweaters – whatever gets you mellow, just TREAT YO SELF. Take this advice from the Parks and Rec crew:

As a vegan ya’ll, Portland is a place to treat yo self to sweets galore! The following is just some flavas of our favorite city – more to come!

PORTLAND ‘TREAT YO SELF’ TOUR 2012

TREAT YO SELF: Voodoo Doughnuts 

Our last trip to Voodoo involved a wiry  gentleman preaching to the line (yes, you WILL wait in line) about the dangers of obesity. Come for the ambiance – stay for the apple fritter.

The magic is in the hole.

If you build me that shelf Evan, I will fill it with donuts. Your call.

Your mouth will lose every shred of it’s once dainty composure.

If it’s passing dem lips then you gots to unzip.

TREAT YO SELF: Stumptown Coffee

Portland staple and the best drip we have tasted. I’m not totally sure, but you may have to have a handlebar mustache to work there.

There will be a dog out front. You will want to feed it. Don’t.

Cleansing the pallet on the way to more noms.

Road fuel – full octane.

TREAT YO SELF: Sweetpea Baking Company

Super bummed that I didn’t get a picture of the gluten-free monster chocolate chip cookie with frosting and topped with, what else, another cookie. I’m not sure the official name, but I call it the loss-of-limb – diabetics beware! We never go wrong at Sweetpea for treats, and their veggie lunch menu looks pretty legit. We recommend the Charlie Brownie (seen here) – tastes like a dense, salty and sweet, chewy and flakey Butterfinger bar.

If treats came with disclaimers, this one would be “Guaranteed to lower your self-esteem”. I’ll take two.

TREAT YO SELF: Back to Eden Bakery Boutique

Three words: Vegan soft serve. BOOYAH! We have been having an epic hankering for good dairy-free ice cream, and Back to Eden gave us variety with not only multiple kinds of soft serve but a huge selection of ice cream shakes AND sweet treat baked goods. We ordered a PB & J shake, a chocolate lavender shake, and a cinnamon roll – all amazing.

Is that allure I feel?

A vortex of frosting.

Not your boyfriend’s PB&J.

I got so excited my alien-hand hit it off the table moments later in a fit of glee.

The iceberg tip was tantalized and we are, as always, getting our immune systems prepped for the next round of treats. Hey, the best part about Portland is having our great friends, Sarah and Brian, doing their noble duty by priming our bellies for the lavish culinary delights of PDX.

TREAT YO SELF: Costco bulk

That much dried fruit just becomes counterproductive.

Now don’t you feel better? Looking back on memories of good food gets me ready to face another day! The 4th of July is fast approaching – enjoy your feasts my delightful friends – and be sure to use this opportunity to tell drunk people fake stories about your life.  Cheers to being the wildcard!!!

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Monday Meal Planning: Scrambled tofu, bulgogi style tofu, brunch sandwich, enchiladas, and the 1988 movie Twins.

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Graduating from last week’s advice about less is more in meal planning, this week you are visiting the more assertive style of meal planning with 5-6 dishes inspired by cuisine from around the world. This is really just my way of expressing a deep longing for a kitchen, as my reemergence to the workforce has our routine life in upheaval. Evan is sick at home nom noming on rice cakes then waiting a reasonable about of time in a pre-pounce position to see if it will remain inside of his body while I am in Portland hanging out with friends as we substantially boast the local economy via fanatical consumption of vegan food and craft beer. More simply said, he is the Danny Devido to my Arnold Swartzanegger of life right now.

So for those of you on the quest for assertive yet simple cooking this week, here are some inspired ideas for an inspired week!

WEEKLY MENU PLAN

MONDAY: Nothings feels like pure joy and possiblility quite like breakfast food, and who doesn’t need happy optimism on a Monday? Simple Scrambled Tofu and Sweet Potato Fries will help you ease into your week as full-time adult. (If this is too much cooking, I’ve found Van’s frozen waffles with peanut butter and jelly and/or a whole box of frosted flakes eaten out of a large mixing bowl will also do the trick)

TUESDAY: Spice up your Tuesday with some fine Korean-inspired dining with Bulgogi Style Tofu. If you don’t have any mirin, the Japanese sweet wine called for in this recipe, just substitute with 1-2 tbsp sugar mixed into 1/2 cup of white wine or sherry.

WEDNESDAY: Use some leftover tofu from yesterday (not marinated) and build this delicious Smoky Brunch Sandwich. Be sure to wash that smoky flava out of your grill with a Single-Serving Apple Crisp

THURSDAY: Leftover’s night (can’t be distracted from watching Parks and Recreation)

FRIDAY: Mexican night! These Avocado and Pinto Bean Enchiladas are real deal delicious.

SATURDAY: be brave – go out – and eat something you would NEVER normally order

SUNDAY: Kick back, drink your favorite beverage, and grill some your favorite veggies. Evan and I season with Sunny Paris seasoning from the wonderful Penzey’s, 1-2 tbsp olive oil, and salt & pepper to taste and love Field Roast Apple & Sage sausages

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Cooking with Coconut Oil: Zucchini Bread & Quinoa Pilaf with “Chicken”


If the Case for Coconut Oil post didn’t convince you of the magic of coconut oil, these tasty examples of sweet and savory uses of it will.

MEAL-REPLACEMENT ZUCCHINI BREAD WITH MAPLE STREUSEL TOPPING

Okay, so it may not be the healthiest options for a meal replacement, but this slight adaptation on Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s version from The Joy of Vegan Baking (my all time fav vegan baking cookbook) is so hearty and irresistible, you can easily fill up on accident. This is an example of replacing canola oil in a recipe with the healthier coconut oil without compromising texture or taste.

Best eaten with a glass of coconut milk, a bib, and an elastic waistband.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tbsp ground flaxseed or 4 1/2 tsp Ener-G egg replacer (equivalent to 3 eggs)
  • 1/2 cup water (6 tbsp if using Ener-G)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tbsp white distilled vinegar
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)

TOPPING INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp maple extract
  • 2 tbsp Earth Balance

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease two 8 x 4 x 2 inch loaf pans, 4 mini loaf pans, or 24 muffin tins (use coconut oil!)

In a mixer or food processor, combine the flaxseed and water (or Ener-G and water) and whip until thick and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the oil, vinegar, and sugar, and combine. Stir in the zucchini and vanilla. If using a food processor, transfer the oil/vinegar/sugar combination to a large bowl with zucchini/vanilla.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Add the nuts and raisins to sifted ingredients. Stir the dry mixture into the wet  until just combined. Divide the batter into the pans.

To make topping, combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and maple extract in a small bowl and stir to combine. Use pastry cutter or fork and cut earth balance into mix until crumbly texture. Sprinkle topping evenly across the top of each pan. Bake for 60-70 minutes for stand loaves, 40-55 minutes for mini loaves, or 30-35 minutes for muffins.  Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center.

ZUCCHINI BREAD NUTRITION (1/9 of loaf): 288 calories – 10 g total fat – 0 cholesterol – 16 mg sodium– 47 g carbs – 3 g fiber – 29 g sugar – 3 g protein- 6 WW points

QUINOA PILAF WITH “CHICKEN” *v/gf

Evan took one bite and said, “this stuff tastes just like Rice-a-Roni with chicken.” In our world, that is a complement. Not only is this meal packed with protein, healthy fats, essntial vitamins and amino acids, it is super easy to make and crazy inexpensive (around $2/serving).

Your mind will think it's a cheat day...your body will whoop it up.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp fresh sage
  • 6-10 oz seitan or tofu, cubed
  • 4 cups kale
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the coconut oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion, celery, and carrot in hot oil until tender (about 5-7 minutes). Add the zucchini, quinoa, broth, seasoning, and sage. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium-low heat and cover until liquid has absorbed, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, de-stem the kale and tear/chop the leaves into bite sized pieces. Add to skillet or wok with either cooking spray or 1/2 tsp oil. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring constantly, until kale is tender. Do not overcook.

Stir in the seitan or tofu and stir into the quinoa mix.  Serve pilaf on a bed of kale, makes 4 servings.

QUINOA PILAF NUTRITION: 367 calories – 11 g total fat – 0 cholesterol – 748 mg sodium– 49 g carbs – 7 g fiber – 7 g sugar – 21 g protein- 7 WW points

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Monday meal planning: Cabbage soup, vegan goulash, avocado sandwich, & roasted vegetables

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I have a dream.

In this dream, I am spending my Sunday evenings basking in the possibility of a new week by creating a master grocery list to construct beautiful, nightly meals for my mini family. Evan and I breeze through our door after a fulfilling day at work, change into breathable yet well-fitting dinner clothes, pour a glass of pinot, choose from one of our many aprons, and spend the early evening making a beautiful meal in between flirtatious tickle fights. Then we share that meal on our roomy kitchen table over warm lighting and stimulating conversation. Ahhh….

In my waking life, I am unemployed and when Evan comes home we put on our sweatpants, hold the fridge open for five, energy-wasting minutes before we pull out whatever concoction we can throw together with a few minutes and microwave. We walk right past the magazine and mail holder that was once the kitchen table and eat dinner on the couch while leaning over an end-table. At least there is warm lighting, but it’s coming from the glow of Hulu off our laptops. Oh, and we finished off the last of the pinot while watching WWII documentaries last night. *sigh*

I’m an idealist, and I will hold on tight to that dream..but in the meantime, if the latter situation sounds more like you’re style, might as well accommodate reality and have some quick things cooked up and ready to be eaten. Meal planning is a bit of a science, balancing what is in season with your likes while remaining cognisant of money and balanced nutrition. We have found the best technique is to go to the grocery store with only one special meal in mind (don’t let the idealism die!), but then just purchase a healthy amount of whatever is in season, which is usually also less expensive.  Then you can build your meal plans using a recipe-builder tool like the one on Allrecipes. Just type in the ingredients you purchased and it brings up recipes that include your fare.

Finally, we have staples that we cook every week – usually lentils, brown rice, sweet potatoes, and a marinated protein like tofu or tempeh. Your best bet is to cook when you have time and when you’re feeling happy, we believe that how you feel manifests in how well your food turns out…so step one is always GET HAPPY! This week was clean-out-the-fridge-of-dying-vegetables  week, so enjoy these peasant inspired ideas!

“CALORIE FREE” CABBAGE SOUP *gluten-free

This soup comes with consequences...eat it only around friends.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups chopped cabbage
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup carrot, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green beans, fresh is best!
  • 1/2 cup zucchini, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary (optional)
  • Salt and pepper, to tast

Spray pot with non stick cooking spray saute onions carrots and garlic for 5 minutes. Add broth, Tomato paste, cabbage, green beans, basil, oregano and Salt & Pepper to taste.

Simmer for a about 5-10 minutes until all vegetables are tender then add the zuccini and simmer for another 5 or so minutes. Makes 7-8 cups, serving = 1 cup.

 CABBAGE SOUP NUTRITION: 28 calories – 0 g total fat – 0 cholesterol – 55 mg sodium– 6 g carbs – 2 g fiber – 3 g sugar – 1 g protein- 0-1 WW points

MOM’S VEGAN GOULASH

Use spelt or other GF pasta to make the celiac's happy!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 box elbow macaroni (I used Vitaspelt elbows)
  • 1 cup yves or boca soy crumbles (check for vegan-ness)
  • 1 can diced tomatos
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 3-5 tsp bouillon, to taste (I used 4.5 tsp Better than Bouillon vegetable base…a vegan kitchen staple)

Cook macaroni al dente, drain and rinse with cool water to stop cooking.

Combine garlic and onion and saute for 3-5 minutes until onion began to look translucent. Add the remainder of ingredients, except pasta, and cook for 5 minutes until warm and combined. Add in pasta and simmer on medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Makes 7-8 cups – serving = 1 cup.

VEGAN GOULASH NUTRITION : 157 calories – 8 g total fat – 0 cholesterol – 559 mg sodium– 30 g carbs – 5 g fiber – 6 g sugar – 10 g protein- 3 WW points

AVOCADO SANDWICH

(LATS sandwich..lemon, avocado, tomato, spinach)

LATS = YUMM

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 slice multigrain bread, toasted (diggin’ on Dave’s Killer Bread 21 grain)
  • 1/2 avocado, pitted, peeled, and thinly sliced (make it look easy, like this dude)
  • Tomato, 2 thin slices
  • Spinach, fresh, to taste
  • Olive Oil
  • Lemon Juice
  • Salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper, to taste

Lay spinach on toasted bread, cover with tomato, and fan avocado thinly on top. Drizzle with light olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper.

AVOCADO SANDWICH NUTRITION : 256 calories – 14 g total fat – 0 cholesterol – 208 mg sodium– 31 g carbs – 11 g fiber – 6 g sugar – 9 g protein- 5 WW points

ROASTED VEGETABLES

*The key is using whatever veggies you love and/or whatever you have in the fridge. These are just a baseline of how they are made, and the only calories I count are the ones in the olive oil!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1/2 bunch broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 cup of carrots, chopped
  • 1/8 – 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss vegetables with olive oil and seasoning.

Spread veggies in one layer onto a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil. Roast for 30-45 minutes, rotating every 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning once removed.

*TIP: Try adding tofu or tempeh to vegetables, then sprinkle with Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids. Bragg’s is a great source of protein and includes 16 amino acids, while also having a great flavor to enhance the roasted veggies.

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Meadow & Bunny Bliss cupcakes…or Easter cupcakes (shout out to the Catholics!)


Frolicking demonstration.

Next to parades, frolicking in meadows is my all time favorite staged amusement that somehow feels both mandatory AND fun. There are two ways to do it right: if you are alone, just execute the “Sound of Music” twirl including reverent arms raised to the sky and a look of holy wonderment. If you are with a loved one, or there is a willing person near you, ensure you begin red-rover-style on opposing sides of the meadow then make slow-motion movements towards each other, including overcompensated facial expressions and awkward pouncing. Finish the move off by holding hands and spinning before making your getaway (seen in picture above.)

With meadow inspiration in mind, and the Easter holiday giving me a reason to cook for those I love, Meadow & Bunny Bliss cupcakes were born. Both cupcakes are a combination of ideas that I found during a blanket Google image search for ‘Easter Cupcakes’ – then I just chose some of my favorite flavas and vegan candy, and winged the crap out of the process.

LOW-FAT VANILLA MEADOW CUPCAKES *Gluten-Free 

Don't you just want to snuggle against the jellybean trees?

INGREDIENTS *based off of Sexy Vanilla Cupcakes in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World

  • 1/2 cup soy yogurt *choose flavor if desired
  • 2/3 cup vanilla soy milk
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin pan with cupcake liners

In a large bowl, whisk together yogurt, milk, applesauce, oil, sugar, and vanilla. Sift in flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and mix.

Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full, and bake 22-24 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Transfer our of pan and onto a cooling rack to finish cooling completely prior to decorating. I recommend waiting to prepare the frosting until marzipan/fondant decorations are completed. Makes 12 cupcakes.


DECORATING INGREDIENTS & UTENSILS 

  • 3-5 oz of marzipan or fondant
  • Petal shaped mini fondant cutter
  • Round gum paste tool
  • toothpicks
  • desired food coloring for flowers and grass (I prefer Chefmaster gel color)
  • approx. 36 jellybeans
  • half batch of Buttercream frosting
  • wilton decorating tip #233
  • coupler attached to piping bag

Take a small chunk of white marzipan/fondant and make 12 small, round balls – this will be used for center of flower. Roll the remaining into a ball, poke a hole halfway into the ball, add the food coloring and knead until color is desirable, then roll about until about 1/4 inch thick. Use the small petal-shaped cutter, cutting out 60 petals for 12 cupcakes. Use 5 petals per flower, moving clockwise while layering petals on top of one another while pressing together, then take white ball and press into center of flower. Using gum-paste tool, shape the petals to desirable look.

This tool helps add texture to tips.

Prepare piping bags by attaching coupler with tip, then put the bag tip down into a large glass and fold over the bag, this makes for easy filling. Once the buttercream frosting is complete, color frosting to desired color of green (I used about 3/4 tsp) and use a spatula to put into bag. Be sure not to overfill, you should have about 4-6 inches of additional bag to twist and secure. Hold bag at 90 degrees, squeezing while pulling the bag towards you to get grass look. Practice makes perfect, so always practice on parchment paper first, and you will just get better and better as you go! Once the grass is complete, place the flower and, spear jellybeans onto the toothpicks, placing them next to the flower. YEAH!!!

CHOCOLATE BUNNY BLISS CUPCAKES *gluten-free 

Do you think I could juice that lil carrot?

INGREDIENTS (*also based off of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World):

  •  1 cup vanilla soy milk
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp orange extract
  • 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose gluten-free flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder, dutch-processed
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line muffin pan with liners.

Whisk together milk and vinegar in a small bowl and set aside to ‘curdle’ for a few minutes. In a large bowl, add sugar, oil, and extracts then add curdled milk, then beat until foamy. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In two batches, add dry ingredients to wet and beat until no large lumps remain.

Pour into liners, filling 3/4 of the way full. Bake 18-20 minutes (rotate if necessary) until a toothpick comes out clean. Transfer onto a cooling rack until completely cook to decorate. Makes 12 cupcakes.

DECORATING INGREDIENTS:

  • half batch of vegan Buttercream frosting
  • brown gel food coloring (I use Chef master gel color)
  • Newman-O’s Chocolate-Peanut Butter cookies (or Oreo version – either is good! I used about 6 cookies)
  • 12 orange Starbursts
  • Edible Easter grass OR green Pull-n-Peel Twizzlers
  • toothpick

I recommend making the carrots and crunching up the Oreo ‘dirt’ prior to making frosting. To make carrots, roll a Starburst in your hand until it takes the shape of a carrot, then use a toothpick to hollow out the center of the mini-carrot. If you are struggling to soften the Starburst (I was literally breaking a sweat at one point), try rolling them a little with a rolling pin, then folding in half before rolling between your hands. Cut either the grass or Twizzler’s into 1-2″, varying strips and put into hollow hole in carrot, then lightly pinch the top together the secure. Finally, use the side of a toothpick to press horizontal indentations into carrot to give an authentic look.

A carrot - minus all the nutrition and Vitamin C.

Smash cookies in a small bowl until there are no chunks, but not to the point of dust (I used a slap-chop…oh yeah, we own one!) Prepare frosting and add gel coloring to desired color, I used about 1/2 tsp. Spread a moderate layer of frosting on cooled cupcake, then roll cupcake in ‘dirt’ until covered. Finally, place your carrot inside the dirt…and share with no one! These babies are delicious. 🙂

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Vegan 101: How Samoas and Thin Mints can make you friends.


It can be tough to make friends as an adult. As we get older, it seems that time becomes more elusive, leaving many people to settle for the friends they already know from work or high school or beer league softball or yoga class. I’m not insinuating there is no value to long-term, meaningful relationships – just that there can be life-enhancing value in engaging with the unfamiliar – and that goes for anything in life. I have found that with every new experience my mind opens up, my creativity is stimulated, and there exists new things to learn about myself (not to mention new memories to laugh at that don’t include the same mishaps from high school…what a relief!)

Moving to Oregon we made a ‘brave new world’ list with ‘make friends’ at the very top.  And what better way to make these friends in a new world then looking for love on the internet?!  Thankfully there is Meetup, an online matchmaking site for all the shit you love to do.  Are you plus sized AND into playing sports? There is a meetup group in Virginia for you. Obsessed with your bearded dog? There is a meetup specifically for bearded dog owners to socialize called ‘The Dirty Beards’. As much fun as it would be to forego cultivating meaningful friendships for time alone laughing at peculiar meetup groups, we figured that the Southern Oregon Vegetarian/Vegan group would be a great place to start.

While I’m a little too curious about the members of The Dirty Beards meetup, it would be tough to beat the group of folks that we met during the last potluck of our new Southern Oregon meetup group.  The people were relaxed, loved talking about obscure kitchen gadgets and ingredients, and were as equally self-deprecating about the life of a vegan as we claim to be. What can I say, I dig talking about frequent bowel movements with strangers.

Onto the foods (great segway, I know). The pressure was on to represent who we were as people through our food – so Evan the Athlete prepared a protein power salad with lemon-tahini dressing and Hayley the Nostalgic-Sugar-Junkie celebrated the seasons with two kinds of vegan Samoas (one with shortbread, one without) and vegan/gluten-free Thin Mints.  We made our own touches to these recipes, but much of my help came from one of my favorite cookbooks, Babycakes Covers the Classics.  Now go out there with confidence adults, and make some friends!

Earn yourself a merit badge for being awesome.

VEGAN SAMOAS (with shortbread)

SHORTBREAD

  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance (melted, slightly cooled)
  • 1 1/4 cup cake flour (make w/ 1 cup all-purpose flour to 2 tbsp cornstarch)
  • 1/4 cup vegan sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 pans with parchment paper, and set aside.

Mix everything, knead into a cohesive lump. On a floured surface, roll dough to a 3/8″ thickness, cut into rounds (I used a biscuit cutter).  Cut out the middle to resemble the Girl Scout kind (I used the back side of a pastry tip, but you can even use a marker top or anything lil.)

Bake 15-20 min, or when the edges begin to brown.

COCONUT CARAMEL TOPPING

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp Earth Balance (melted)
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup shredded coconut

In a small pan over medium heat, melt the sugar, stirring constantly.  The sugar will caramelize, and once it’s a deep copper color and begins to smoke, slowly add the Earth Balance and milk while stirring rapidly. Cook until there are no clumps of caramel and you can see the bottom of the pan when sliding the spatula across. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and coconut.

To assemble: once coconut topping is cool enough to handle, spread evenly on cookies top. Once completely cool, you can use wet fingers to make hale in the middle and even out for esthetics.

DECORATING

  • 1 cup vegan chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil

Line pans that will fit into fridge/ freezer covered with wax paper. Use a double broiler to melt chocolate chips, then stir in coconut oil.  Allow chocolate to cool for 5-10 minutes, then dip bottoms of cookies into chocolate and set onto wax paper. Drizzle remaining chocolate over the top of cookies using a fork or pastry bag with a round tip. Chill for at least 30 minutes to set.

Makes 2 dozen cookies.

NUTRITION IN SHORTBREAD SAMOAS: 153 calories – 9 g total fat – 0 cholesterol – 48 mg sodium– 17 g carbs – 1 g fiber – 11 g sugar – 1 g protein- 4 WW points

VEGAN SAMOAS (*see notes for gluten-free) 

Ingredients:

DECORATING

  • 1 cup vegan chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two pans with parchment paper, set aside.

Pour coconut into skillet and toast on medium-low heat until golden brown. Remove from heat into dish to stop cooking and cool down.

In large bowl, combine coconut oil, brown sugar, milk, flaxseed, and vanilla until smooth. Sift in flour, baking soda, and salt, and mix together to form thick batter. Fold in coconut until combined.

Scoop 1 tbsp dough, 2 inches apart on sheets. Flatten with back of measuring cup and use your (or someone else’s) finger to work hole in center to look like Girl Scout kind. Bake 8 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Let cookies cool 5 minutes on sheet, then transfer to cooling rack. After cooling, transfer cookies onto wax paper surface for easy refrigerator storage.

Decorating: Melt chocolate chips in double broiler, then stir in melted coconut oil. Allow chocolate to cool for 5-10 minutes to thicken. Dip bottoms into chocolate and return to wax paper. Now, drizzle remaining chocolate over cooking using a fork or pastry bag with small, round tip. Chill cookies for at least 30 minutes to firm chocolate, then store in cool place in a tight container.

Makes 2 dozen cookies.

NUTRITION IN VEGAN SAMOAS: 182 calories – 12 g total fat – 0 cholesterol – 6 mg sodium– 19 g carbs – 2 g fiber – 13 g sugar – 2 g protein- 4 WW points

VEGAN/GLUTEN-FREE THIN MINTS 

MAKIN' IT RAIN THIN MINTS!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose baking flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum 
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup vegan chocolate chips
  • 3 tbsp mint extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, arrowroot, xanthan gum, baking sode, and salt. Add the melted coconut oil, applesauce, and vanilla and mix until thick dough forms.

Drop dough by tsp onto sheets, 1 1/2 inches apart. Flatten each mound and smooth edges. Bake 7 minutes, rotate sheets in oven, bake for 7 more minutes. Leave on sheets 15 minutes before transferring to cooling racks.

After cooling cookies for 15 minutes, combine chocolate chips and mint in sauce pan or double broiler over medium heat. Stir until just melted, then remove from heat. Dunk the top of each cookie and smooth out with finger. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the chocolate to set before eating the shit out of them.

Makes 30 cookies.

NUTRITION IN VEGAN THIN MINTS: 129 calories – 7 g total fat – 0 cholesterol – 1 mg sodium– 16 g carbs – 2 g fiber – 10 g sugar – 1 g protein- 3 WW points

PROTEIN POWER SALAD with LEMON-TAHINI DRESSING 

Thanks to www.ohsheglows.com for the template to this great dish (and the pic since we forgot to take one.)

Ingredients for salad:

  • 1 cup green lentils (uncooked)
  • 1 cup kamut berries (uncooked)
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil, for sauteing
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large red pepper, chopped
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • salt & pepper

Cook lentils and cook grains in separate saucepans or separately in a rice cooker.

Saute together onion, garlic, red pepper, and tomato for approx. 5 minutes. Add kale, then cook until kale is soft.  Stir in dressing (see below), then add lentils and grains – stirring until combined.

Remove from heat, add parsley.

Serves 6.

Ingredients for dressing:

  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 + 2 tbsp cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast 
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 tbsp water

All all ingredients together in food processor and process until smooth.

Yields 1 cup.

NUTRITION IN PROTEIN SALAD W/ DRESSING: 323 calories – 13 g total fat – 0 cholesterol – 32 mg sodium– 44 g carbs – 13 g fiber – 4 g sugar – 17 g protein- 7 WW points

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Vegan & Gluten-free red velvet cake makes you sexy.


What better way to add the sex to what sounds like a cake stripped of all it’s fun then literally saying it will make you sexy?  Sex sells ya know, and I want to sell you on how this cake will A. Make you more interesting at parties, B. Bring you pure joy by getting sandbox-style dirty in the kitchen and playing with colors, and C. Make in an overall better person in every way.  I would TOTALLY hit that.

So hear’s the deal…Evan the Vegan Birthday Boy  and Sarah the Celiac Pregnant Friend would be attending the mini-holiday weekend where a cake would be eaten, and I was bring the cake.  The challenge is that every GF/V cake I have eaten has the compactness of weaponry and tastes like putting your tongue on a sugary sponge.  Challenge accepted.

*Thanks to Epicurean Vegan  for the core recipe magic

Express your love through cake. It works 60% of the time, all the time.

VEGAN & GLUTEN-FREE RED VELVET CAKE

1 cup vanilla rice milk

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

2 1/2 cups Gluten-free baking mix (see below)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp xanthan gum

1 1/2 cups cane sugar

1/2 cup palm oil (or vegetable) shortening

2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 cup + 3 tbsp unsweetened applesauce

1 oz red food color (or any color if you want to get sassy)

1 tsp vanilla

1 tbsp distilled white vinegar

1 tsp baking soda

1 recipe fluffy buttercream frosting (see below)

Gluten-free baking mix

3 3/4 cup garbanzo fava bean flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill)

2 1/4 cup potato starch

1 1/2 cup tapioca flour

Buttercream frosting

*make sure shortening and margarine are at room temperature

 1/2 cup non-hydrogenated shortening

1/2 cup non-hydrogenated margarine (I use Earth Balance)

3 1/2 cups confectioner’s/powdered sugar (sifted if clumpy)

1 3/4 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup soy creamer (non-dairy milk can be used, the creamer just makes a more robust frosting)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Make the baking mix first, using a whisk to mix them well then put in an airtight container or zip-lock bag and shake for 1 minute to combine. This mix should last for 3 months and makes about 7 cups of flour.

Grease 2 9″ cake pans then line the bottoms with parchment paper (I use coconut oil to grease the pans and use the cake pan to draw a stencil on the parchment to line the pans.) Set aside.

In a measuring cup, combine the milk and vinegar to create the ‘buttermilk’ and set aside to curdle.

In a large bowl, combine 2 1/2 cups of the baking mix, salt, and xanthan gum.  In a medium bowl or stand mixer bowl, cream together the sugar and shortening.  Add the applesauce, food coloring (1 oz is the whole bottle), and vanilla and mix everything until the mixture is light and creamy.  Add the cocoa powder and mix well.

Alternating, add the dry ingredients and the ‘buttermilk’ mixture to the wet ingredients, ensure you begin and end with dry ingredients. Pour the white vinegar into a small cup and add the baking soda over it. Immediately pour the fizzing mixture into the batter and mix thoroughly.  Evenly divide the batter into two cake pans.

Bake for 30-35 minutes on the center rack or until a toothpick comes out clean, turning halfway if your oven bakes unevenly. If both pans won’t fit on the same rack, ensure the are staggered so one is not on top of the other and switch racks halfway through baking. Let cakes cool completely on rack before turning them out of pans to avoid sticking.

One cooled, turn over the pans and remove the parchment paper. Take a large plate and place it upside down on the bottom of one of the cakes. Flip over so the cake is face down on the plate.

*When layering cakes, I recommend using a one wire cake cutter to trim down the bottom cake for easy, professional looking stacking. Again, this is all about looking better then you actually are. 

To make frosting

Beat the shortening and margarine together until well combined and fluffy.  Add the sugar and beat for about 3 more minutes.  Add the vanilla and creamer, beat another 5-7 minutes until fluffy.  Add more extract if accomodate flavor and beat longer or less time to accommodate texture appropriate for decorating.

IF FROSTING CAKE: Once the bottom cake is trimmed, frost the top and sides of the bottom cake pretty thick, especially on top. Carefully  stack the second cake then put a light layer of frosting on cake at let set (this will lock in all the crumbs and leave a professional finished when frosted). Once set, frost around the entire cake and DONE!

IF USING FONDANT: Prepare cake with a light layer of frosting all around (should still see cake color. Soften icing with the bread hook for the mixer for 1 minute or by kneading for 1-2 minutes until malleable.  Dust your work surface with confectioner’s sugar to prevent sticking. Use a rolling pin to roll out fondant to cover cake (approx 18″x 18″) ensuring you prevent sicking by picking up fondant. Gently lift fondant onto rolling pin and position onto cake.

Shape fondant to sides of cake with smoother. You can use your hands to smooth, but this may leave indents or your sweatiness from all this work may melt the icing. Beginning in the middle of the cake top, move the smoother outward and down the sides to smooth and shape fondant to the cake and remove air bubbles. If an air bubble appears, insert a pin on an angle, release air and smooth the area again. Use the straight edge of the smoother to mark fondant at the base of cake. Trim off excess fondant using a spatula or sharp knife.

Baking well is a like an exercise for the mind. Visualize every step and how you want the finished product to look. This helps in preparing what you need ahead of time (and preventing multiple trips to the store).

*NOTE: I have learned that the thinner the fondant, the better the cake. The icing shouldn’t overpower the cake flavor, which is the star of the show. I use Satin Ice fondant and gel edible coloring for the best flavor and colors. When coloring fondant, roll into a ball, use a toothpick to make stripes of color around ball, then knead color until blended. If you need any help in this, I LOVE youtube and it’s wonderful instructor’s. Just Google it:) 

Favorite vegan fondant and gel color.

Decorating:  

PIPING: If you can make friends with a kitchen or baking store, do so..and fast. Most supplies can be found there, but the basics I keep around are my box o’ tips that includes a coupler (the thing that holds the tip in place), piping bags, basic shapes and number/letter cookie cutters, and a long rolling pin.  With every tip and design there is a technique, but instead of spending hours online watching youtube videos (still helpful, but seriously, you have shit to do), I recommend buying cheap frosting that is expired or post-holiday, getting an apron and some parchment paper, and practicing away. It’s really fun to do with kids…I’m assuming this, I have none but who wouldn’t love getting messy and making cool, edible designs?

For this cake (see picture below):

I made the flowers using tip 2D – Hold piping bag at a 90 degree angle with firm frosting. Twist your wrist as you squeeze the bag.

The leafs were tip 352 – Hold piping bag at 45 degree angle with thin frosting. Squeeze hard to build up base, then slowly raise tip as you relax pressure and pull away from point.

The border was tip 10 – Hold piping bag at 45 degree angle with medium frosting. Squeeze hard with tip slightly above the surface, then let icing fan out as you relax pressure and pull tip towards surface to form a point. Start the next bead 1/4 inch away from tail of previous bead.

It's like a double rainbow. At least that feeling of experiencing one, it's THAT fun.

BE CREATIVE!  I love to look at pictures online of other peoples creations and make them.  Oh, and one last bit of advice: Wear gloves and try not to slice your finger on the dryer the day before.  (I promise there was minimal blood in the cake.)

I had a job interview this day. Hot. Mess.

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