Vegan Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

Classic comboThis is the first post I’ve done since school started… and it is going to be brief! I made these muffins last minute this morning and shared some with friends. They requested the recipe, so here it is! Makes 12. (more…)

Picnic Pies

meowI used to be mad at blackberries. In the backyard of the house that I previously lived in, I spent a good deal of time trying to fight the blackberry bushes. I would get my battle gear on and attack the bushes with large shears every few months. I’d always work up a good sweat and end up with a bunch of scratch wounds. On top of the constant struggle to keep the bushes from overtaking my backyard, we rarely got to any of the ripe berries before the birds did. I was not fond of the blackberry.

But then I moved into a house with a blackberry bush growing on the outside of my fence in the backyard, into the alley. No need to fight this one! I have let it grow and grow and grow and the blackberries are just starting to get ripe. There are so many of them that I think I’ll be eating blackberries all summer and fall! Blackberries have become my friend.

I was very excited to pick my first batch of berries, but soon after I filled the bowl, I was unsure of what do with them. They were a little too tart (for my liking) to eat raw, but I couldn’t think of something yummy to bake them into. So I posted an inquiry to my Facebook friends, asking for their help. I had many suggestions come my way… cereal, syrup, jam, raw… but Katy got me salivating at the suggestion of PIE. Pie! Perfect use of the first of the blackberries!

I was going to a picnic the next day, so I decided to make individual pies instead of one big one. They turned out adorable and delicious! The crust was amazingly flaky and the filling was a perfect combination of sweet and tart. I based these recipes on ones I found in the “Joy of Cooking.” This recipe makes 4 mini pies, but can be modified to make one regular size pie. Also, this pie could very easily be made vegan by substituting non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening for the butter in the crust!

P.S. Pretty darn good with lime ice cream! (more…)

Gotta Love Sourdough

sourdough-loafI don’t understand how anyone could not love sourdough bread. In fact, I don’t think I’ve met someone who doesn’t. It is soooo good in soooo many ways! I like mine sour-as-can-be with a rich, chewy crust.

The flavor of sourdough bread is created by a wild yeast starter, used instead of regular baking yeast. You can purchase sourdough starter from some bakeries, or you can MAKE YOUR OWN! Making your own starter is quite a labor of love, but it makes for a very rewarding pet! It took about 5 weeks for my starter to fully develop and be ready to use for bread making, but during that time I really got to learn what the starter is all about. I even went as far as naming him Grover.  I got everything I ever wanted to know about sourdough starter (and more)  from: The best part about having your own starter is that once it is fully thriving, it can live forever as long as you feed it every once in a while. You can also give some to your friends so they can grow their own. I’ve had great success in using my extra starter in pancakes and pizza crust. Both very YUM!

This bread is great as a baguette or a sandwhich loaf- it makes two medium sized loaves. It is a good standard sourdough recipe that I got from the “Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart. It actually isn’t as much work as it appears, but it does take some time for all that delicious wild yeast to ferment. So, make sure to read the recipe ahead of time and allow yourself a couple of days at least for the process. You can do it! (more…)

Bowling Cupcakes

these cupcakes will improve your score

I made these cupcakes for my bowling team’s Big Lebowski party. While I don’t think the Dude ate peanut butter chocolate cupcakes in the movie, I definitely think he would abide. And, they go splendidly with a White Russian. As a side note, after eating these cupcakes, our team went on to win our first game the following week- go cupcake power!

No one can tell that these cupcakes are vegan… they are so moist, rich, and chocolately! I am not a big fan of piping forsting letters onto cupcakes and I despise those store bought letters/icings, so I got a little inventive. I pressed upside-down mini chocolate chips into the frosting to spell out our team’s name. Yes, this did take a while, but it was a fun and mind-soothing activity.

This recipe is based on the Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes from the book “Vegan Cupakes Take Over the World” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. The recipe makes 12 cupcakes. (more…)

Chewy Fresh Bagels

don't even need cream cheeseI made my own bagels from scratch! I was so proud of myself for taking on this project, which for some reason always seemed too hard to even try. But, it actually wasn’t that difficult- it mostly required a lot of waiting for the dough to rise (I’m learning that this bread making business usually does). I had a great time making each bagel flavor unique. I topped them with: poppy seeds, sesame seeds, dried onions, cheese, pesto, fresh onions, salt, cinnamon-raisin, and Spike seasoning. I can’t say which flavor I ended up liking best, as they were all delicious! This recipe, from The Baker’s Apprentice, makes 12 bagels.  I ate some fresh from the oven and sliced and froze the leftovers for easy popping into the toaster! (more…)

‘Nana Nut Nuffins

love the little specksMy friend Forrest made some scrumptious banana bread a couple of weekends ago and when I was still thinking about it two days later, I decided that I needed to make my own. So, I patiently waited for the bananas in my fruit bowl to turn black. And then I whipped up a batch of these delightful vegan banana nut muffins for brunch. They are easy to prepare and smell sooooo yummy while baking! They also taste great the next day and the day after that.

This recipe is based on one from Sarah Kramer and Tanya Barnard’s books. My recipe made 14 muffins, but my bananas were huge! So, a normal or small banana would probably make the 12 muffins that the original recipe is supposed to make. These can be made the night before, stored in the refrigerator, and baked in the morning for those of us who don’t like that whole getting up early thing. (more…)

Lovely Lemon Poppyseed Cranberry Muffins

These muffins rock! They are packed with delicious lemon flavor, sweet dried cranberries, and crunchy poppy seeds. On top of that they are light, fluffy, vegan, and easy to make! What more could you ask for on a Sunday morning? I like to prepare these the night before and then pop them in the oven when I wake up. I love the lemony aroma that fills the house!

I based this recipe on one of Sarah Kramer’s called “Hayley’s Lemon Cranberry Muffins.” This recipe yields 11 muffins. I’ve tried to make it yield 12, but they come out too short for my liking. If you don’t have vegan margarine, you can substitute vegetable oil.

For the Muffins:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegan margarine
  • 3 tablespoons apple sauce
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup soymilk
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (optional)

To Make the Muffins:

  1. Preheat the over to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin.
  3. Whisk together the flour, cranberries, poppy seeds, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl, set aside.
  4. Whisk together the margerine (or oil), sugar, apple sauce, soymilk, and lemon extract.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  6. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, until 2/3 full.
  7. Sprinkle the brown sugar on top (or omit if you like your muffins less sweet).
  8. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Not Just-for-Kids Cookie Cupcakes

I love the idea of combining two different desserts to make a different tasty creation. For example, combining chocolate sandwich cookies and white cupcakes with chocolate frosting…yum!

I made these for our going away party and they were quickly gobbled up! My friend Karen sent me this photo of her niece and nephew (Lucy and Evan) very seriously enjoying them.

The recipe is based on Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero’s “Cookies and Cream Cupcakes.” If you haven’t checked out their cookbook, “Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World,” I highly recommend you do! This recipe makes 12 cupcakes. I think next time I would put a cookie on top for added flair and cookie flavor! (more…)

Delightful Drenched Mocha Cake

My mom and my sister came to visit this weekend and we had a lovely time eating, relaxing, chatting, and eating some more! I wanted to bake something with them, so we browsed through recipes until we hit on one that sounded really yummy: Mocha Mud Slide from the Millennium Cookbook. Espresso + chocolate = good, but espresso sponge cake drenched in rich chocolate espresso sauce + whipped cream = Heavenly!

Mary was a lovely sous chef and my mom took a different type of supportive role, entertaining us with her commentary. We modified the recipe only slightly to make it more espresso-y. The cake took almost no time at all to prepare and the sauce was quite easy as well… quite unusual for a Millennium recipe! Since I don’t have much caffeine these days, the espresso was enough to keep me up later than usual with creative energy. Mary didn’t seem to have any problem falling asleep shortly after dessert!

So, even though this is a vegan recipe, I must confess that I cheated a little bit. Homemade whipped cream sounded too good to pass up! However, if you want to make the whole dessert vegan, buy or make vegan whipped cream or substitute with vegan ice cream or sorbet- vanilla, chocolate or espresso would be great! Also, try any leftover sauce poured on vanilla ice cream… it is delicious!

This cake serves about 10 people. We decided that it would also be good for breakfast with a cup of coffee. (more…)

Spicy Gingenana Bread

I’ve been staring at a bunch of overripe bananas in the fruitbowl on my kitchen counter for about a week thinking… I should make something with those… and banana bread seemed like the obvious choice. But it also sounded a little bit boring to me at the time. So, I dug up a recipe for gingerbread from one of Sarah Kramer’s books and added bananas to it.

I put pieces of candied ginger in mine as the recipe had called for, but I must admit that I did not at all like their texture once cooked. They went from chewy gummy-like to slimy crunchy-like. Yuck! So, I’ve left them out of the recipe below, but feel free to add 1/2 cup of the chopped suckers and see for yourself.

This bread is great for breakfast or dessert and so rich and flavorful, especially considering that it is vegan and sweetend with molasses. It can be made without the frosting, but I recommend it if served for dessert. It makes one loaf, about enough for 10 eaters. (more…)