Tag Archives: holiday meals

fall baking fun

1 Oct

*Kelly! You won the marshmallows! Send me an email with your address and I’ll pop them in the mail!*

While I love the lingering days of summer, as soon as the leaves begin to change my mind turns towards fall (my favorite season) and then it turns to baking, which is always enhanced by those first days of cool, crispy autumn air and crunchy leaves beneath your feet.

A few weeks ago the lovely folks at Chicago Soy Dairy gifted me with a couple of bags of Dandies, their vegan marshmallows, with the request that I make something creative with them. I have enjoyed playing with their Teese in the past and I am always up for a challenge, but those Dandies have just been staring at me for a couple of weeks now.

Should I make something rocky road? No, too boring.

Should I make something s’mores? No, I can’t compete with Amy’s awesomeness.

Then I remembered my great Thanksgiving love.

Like most any good Midwestern girl, one of my favorite Thanksgiving side dishes was the sweet potato (or yam, whatever) casserole, filled with juicy, sweet yams and pineapple and a marshmallow and maraschino cherry topping.

Jim absolutely loathes anything sweet that is eaten at mealtime, so when I mentioned this to him he visibly shuttered. How to please us both? Why, turn it into a dessert, of course!

The Chicago Soy Dairy folks were kind enough to send me 2 bags of Dandies- leave a comment and 1 lucky person (drawn next Monday) will win the other bag!

Sweetie P Cupcakes

These soft and fluffy cupcakes are the perfect testament to fall- moist sweet potatoes with a creamy marshmallow center, a hint of nutmeg and the lightly crunchy/gooey mallow topping.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown or other dark granulated sugar
1 teas. baking powder
1/2 teas. baking soda
1/2 teas. cinnamon
1/4 teas. nutmeg
1/4 teas salt
1 cup pureed sweet potato (or yam)
1/2 cup crushed pineapple (liquid drained)
1/3 cup oil
3/4 cup milk of choice
1/2 bag Dandies Marshmallows
Maraschino cherries

Preheat oven to 350. Line a cupcake pan with liners.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, spices and salt. In a medium bowl, combine the sweet potato, pineapple and oil. Mix until well combined. Add the milk and whisk together thoroughly. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in two batches until just mixed.

Fill each cupcake liner 1/3 way with batter and place 1-2 Dandies in the middle. Top with additional batter to seal the Dandies in the middle. Liners should be filled to just under the top of each liner. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick (poked at an angle to avoid the mallows) comes out clean.

Remove cupcake pan from oven. Carefully top each cupcake with 4-5 Dandies. Place cupcakes under your broiler on low for 15-45 seconds, or until puffy and very lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool on cooling rack for 10 minutes before removing from pan to cool on rack. Top each cupcake with a dried off maraschino cherry.

Makes 12 cupcakes

holiday wrap up

28 Dec


I’m feeling the post-holiday impact. True, we still have New Year’s to ring in, but the giant feasts, present wrapping and family wrangling are behind us. It always leaves me feeling simultaneously wistful and grateful.

I hope you had a wonderful holiday season. I got completely spoiled in the kitchen by the wonderful Jim. I received a set of pots and pans that I’ve been wanting for some time now, but couldn’t really justify splurging on. I had very specific things I wanted in a set (stainless, tri-ply, no non-stick, glass lids) so when I came across a set that met my desires, it seemed too good to be true… but I didn’t really need them. They are a great deal though, very high quality but not too expensive. Not wanting to play with fate and have them go out of production, Jim got them for me, along with a stocking full of fun kitchen gadgets I can’t wait to play with.

Did you do any fun holiday baking?

Like these delicious Cranberry Almond Squares from Baking Bites… (veganized with applesauce for the eggs). I also added a little almond extract to make them very almond flavored.

Some Lemon Drop Cookies…

The often imitated but never rivaled Chocolate Peanut Butter Shells (my favorite!)

Some Spice Spiked Chocolate Chunk Cookies.

Some Chewy Chocolate Peppermint Cookies topped with some Chocolate UFOs from Trader Joe’s.

All were safely stowed away into festive tins for our co-workers to enjoy!

What treats did you indulge in?

by popular vote…

6 Dec

You asked and so you shall receive.

Here is the rough recipe for the chickpea tart that I made for Thanksgiving. This was literally “a little of this, a little of that”, so please know there is tons of room for interpretation.

Savory Holiday Tart

1 recipe pie crust, minus sugar (I used white whole wheat flour to make it more savory)

1 medium onion or 2-3 shallots, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups cremini mushrooms, rinsed and sliced
2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
white wine
thyme (finely chopped)
rosemary (finely chopped)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
soy sauce
balsamic vinegar

3-4 cups of pearl onions, skin peeled (You could also make regular caramelized onions to top, if you don’t want to deal with the pearl onions)
sprinkling of sugar

Make pie crust per directions. Wrap and let chill in fridge.

In a large skillet, saute onions and garlic in some oil. Add mushrooms and cook until onions are translucent and mushrooms are cooked down. Drain off any liquid. Add chickpeas and saute for about 10 minutes on medium stirring often and adding splashes of wine to deglaze the pan as needed. Add nutritional yeast and herbs to your liking (I used about 2 tbsp. of thyme and 2 teas. of rosemary. Add a nice splash of soy sauce, about 2 tbsp, and a small splash of balsamic vinegar, about 1 tbsp max. Mix to combine and spoon mixture into a food processor. Process while adding more wine as needed and scraping down the sides of the processor, to make a mixture like a thick pate. Set aside.

In a pan, melt a about 1-2 tbsp. of margarine. Add peeled pearl onions. Sprinkle with a little sugar and cook on a medium heat, stirring often, until onions are translucent and they begin to caramelize, about 15 minutes. Add wine as needed to deglaze.

Remove pie crust from oven. Press crust into the bottom and sides of a 12- inch tart pan. You may not use all of the crust, depending on how thick you make it. Spread in chickpea mixture and smooth with a spatula. Top with onions.

Bake at 400 covered with tin foil for about 45 minutes, then remove foil and bake for an additional 10-15 or until top is set. Let tart sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.

You can easily prep this recipe the night before and refrigerate it, drive 5 1/2 hours in holiday traffic and bake it upon arrival. I feel about 95% confident that you could also bake it the night before, cool and refrigerate and then reheat it in a 350 oven for about 15-20 minutes with tin foil on it.

thanksgiving wrap-up

29 Nov

There are plenty of good things to be thankful for this time of year- an awesome husband, good fur kids (even if we do mostly refer to them as “the jerks), a great new job, my health- but what I truly appreciate and am humbled by my husband’s family.

I know that the holidays can bring out the worst in families when it comes to being veg. Jokes about turkey and ham, constant harassment about what you eat, what you don’t eat and open judgment are things that many people have to contend with on top of whatever other family baggage you may carry around. Oy.

I am thankful that my husband’s family was happy to eat a vegan Thanksgiving dinner and was fine letting me take charge and cook a large majority of it- as I was happy doing so and hauling it the 3 hours north to Seattle.

Our centerpiece this year was a chickpea/white wine/ herb/ caramelized onion tart.

Jim gets mad at me because I have this bad tendency of making things up as I go along, which was the case with this. I had an idea of what I wanted, but no recipe, and just kind of threw it all together and hoped for the best. I know it will catch up with me some day, but for now as long as the outcome is tasty, I will dismiss the potential fears and keep playing.

My sister-in-law’s awesome cranberries. If you think “Meh, a cranberry is a cranberry” you haven’t had these babies.

Cremini mushroom gravy.

Roasted yam/onion/bell pepper dish courtesy of my S-i-L. Nom.

Stuffing. Made from a mix because I’m lazy like that and honestly like it better that way. Jazzed up with onions and celery. Can’t remember what brand… one of the organic ones.

Browned “butter”, sage and butternut squash quinoa.

“Better-than Breadsticks” from The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes.

Mashed ‘taters.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheezecake. My ganache cracked, which made me sad, but it was really good.

“Cinn-ful Apple Cake” from The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes, served with leftover cranberries for OMG goodness.

“No pumpkin pie?” you ask? Hey, don’t be such a skeptic! For as much as I love every other incarnation of pumpkin, we’re not big pumpkin pie people in our family, so I decided to forgo it for other yummy delights. I assure you, despite this suspect expression, there were no complaints.

gobble, gobble

18 Nov

I love Thanksgiving food. Cranberries and stuffing? Yes, please. Some more sweet potatoes? Pile on some bread sticks or biscuits and gravy and call it a day. Who could miss turkey? Thanksgiving is all about the side dishes anyway.

Except for dessert. Dessert is an equally important part of Thanksgiving. Naturally, one’s mind wanders to pumpkin pie. I’m not a huge pumpkin pie fan myself, it’s just never quite been my thing. But I do love me some pumpkin. If you don’t already have your heart set on your T-Day menu, you may want to consider this decadent dessert.

The Pumpkin Cinnamon Swirl Cheesecake.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Swirl Cheesecake (from The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes)
Prep time: 35 minutes
Difficulty level: 4 whisks (rated from 1-5 in terms of difficulty, but it’s not so difficult as it is detailed)

I love pumpkin. The only thing I love more than pumpkin is cheesecake. The combination: a Thanksgiving masterpiece. This is a moist, dense cheesecake, mixed with the spiced pumpkin swirls and intense cinnamon ribbons laced through it, you’ll want to save room for this one. You don’t have to bake this cake in a water bath, but you certainly can for slightly creamier results and without the top cracking (like the pictures, which were from a non-water bathed cake).

3/4 cup flour
1 teas. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup margarine, softened
1 teas. molasses
1 tbsp. milk

2 8 oz. containers of soy cream cheese
1 aseptic container firm tofu- Mori Nu brand is what I use
1 cup of sugar, divided
3 tbsp. cornstarch
2 teas. vanilla
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
2 teas. pumpkin pie spice
1 teas. milk
1 tbsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 9 inch springform pan.

First, make the crust. In a small bowl mix together the flour, 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice and sugar. Add the margarine, molasses and milk and combine until crumbly. Press into the bottom of the prepared springform and bake for 12 minutes.

While crust is baking, combine cream cheese, tofu, 1/2 cup of the sugar, 2 tbsp of the cornstarch and vanilla in a food processor or blender. Blend well until all is incorporated, scraping down the sides as needed. Pour 1 1/2 cups of mixture into a bowl and set aside. Add remaining 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon of corn starch, pumpkin pie puree and pumpkin pie spice. Process until well blended.

From reserved, vanilla cheesecake mixture reserve 3 tablespoons in a small bowl. Add milk and 1 tablespoon cinnamon to the reserved 3 tablespoons. Mix well to incorporate.

In the springform pan, alternate 1/2 cups of the vanilla and pumpkin cheesecake mixtures on top of the crust. Drizzle the cinnamon mixture on top of the vanilla and pumpkin in thick stripes. Lightly wiggle the pan to help the contents settle. Draw a knife though the batter several times to marble the batter.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, (in a water bath, if using) until center is still slightly jiggily but set. Let cool completely then let set in fridge for at least 2 hours before serving. Best if made the night before so the spices have time to meld. Store leftover cake covered, in fridge.

Yields: 12 slices

One thing that makes this cake priceless for holiday meal planning is that it actually tastes better if you make it the night before so the flavors can come together, so then it’s one less thing to worry about on Thanksgiving Day. And trust me, this cheesecake is something to be thankful for!

best. pancakes. ever!

25 May

That’s quite the claim, I know. But I swear I can back it up.

We are putting the finishing touches on episode 2. I hope to have it up by tomorrow night, so stay tuned for that. It will be actual documentation that I do create food that is not baked. No body doubles, I swear. 🙂

So, I just have to say, I made the most delicious pancakes the other day I even surprised myself. Jim is a big time cinnamon lover, so I tend to use it in our pancakes, which are usually just plain jane pancakes which we dress up with toppings or sauces. His recent kick has been making cinnamon toast, a throwback to both of our childhoods. So I wondered, what if I made cinnamon toast pancakes? Would they just be cinnamon pancakes or something else?



Oh, unassuming pancakes. Thou art but a pile of goodness, reserved for those with discerning taste and much love of beloved cinnamon, joined in matrimony with a light crunch.

That’s right. The cinnamon/sugar mixture slightly caramelized into a slightly crunchy thin coating, giving way to a fluffy, moist interior. A textural treat to tease the tastebuds. (Say that five times fast.) The delicate flavor of TJs new maple agave blend was the perfect addition.


I didn’t want cinnamon. I had to have fruit. Yes, I was sure I didn’t want cinnamon. No, Jimmy, I won’t want to steal your pancakes… like a foolish child who trades one quarter for three pennies, I had the flapjack slinger’s remorse. Sure, my vanilla pancakes with yogurt and fresh fruit were good, but that didn’t keep me from sneaking bites off Jim’s plate. Lesson learned: never say no to Cinnamon Toast Yum Pancakes!

Cinnamon Toast Yum Pancakes

1 1/2 cups flour
3 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/8 teas. salt
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups milk of choice
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp. oil
1/2 teas. vanilla
1 1/2 teas. cinnamon
1 tbsp. + 1 teas. sugar

In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In another bowl combine milk, water, oil and vanilla and mix to combine. Add wet ingredients to dry and whisk until just mixed, it may be a little lumpy and that’s fine. Add more milk if needed. In a little bowl combine the cinnamon and 1 tbsp. sugar.

Heat up a griddle to medium heat. Sprinkle a small coating of the cinnamon mixture where you will put your batter, then ladle out the batter on top of it. Sprinkle the exposed side of the pancake with an equal amount. Flip pancake when edges look slightly firmed up and it bubbles a little in the middle. Overcooking can burn the sugar. Cook on other side until puffy bottom is lightly browned. Continue with the rest of the batter. Serve with margarine and syrup.

Yields: 6 medium sized pancakes

We had a nice mish-mash of food for our Memorial Day feast. The weather has been absolutely beautiful here in Portland and I was craving summery fare. And completely contrary to my normal leanings, I was craving hot dogs. If you know me, you know that hot dogs have never been something I normally consume, vegan or otherwise. Sometimes I’ll have a Field Roast sausage, but I usually won’t eat anything resembling a hot dog. A recent trip to Food Fight while on lunch had me contemplating the hot dog machine and I impulsively purchased one to chow down before heading back to work and the craving has been there ever since. Go figure.


Tofurkey hot dog with lemon-garlic roasted potatoes, grilled asparagus and homemade baked beans. Wow, I didn’t realize how much time it took to make baked beans, so next time I will start sooner and probably crock-pot it. We ate this meal on Sunday and it wasn’t all ready to go until 9:45pm! We are late eaters, but that’s even late for us.

I hope you all had a good long weekend, if you were so lucky as to have one, and took a moment to remember those we’ve lost.

Cooking show episode 2- next post!

ham tube is dead to me

12 Apr

So, a couple of Easters ago, I glazed a ham tube from Food Fight. The company that made said ham tube went out of business and there is a new tube in town. I was so excited to glaze it up for Easter… and it was just sad, really.


First off, I should have been weary, what with it being a giant rectangle instead of the traditional tube. It was stringy, soft and spongy and had a off taste naturally. Thankfully our impromptu mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes, asparagus, dinner rolls and pickled beets saved the day and made up for the ham tube that wasn’t.

The holidays always make me nostalgic, even the ones we don’t really celebrate. Easter always makes me thinking of growing up with my grandparents. In honor of my Pappy, I made some fruit gel cocktail with some strawberry gel mix I picked up at Food Fight recently.


I’ve always wondered how foods would really taste if we didn’t have an emotional connection to them. I love the way fruit cocktail grapes taste, with their skins so soft and etched. Would I really like them under other circumstances?

A random dinner from earlier this week:


Whole wheat pasta with a randomly assembled creamy carrot and ginger sauce with chickpeas and some garlic brussels. If you can get over the fact that the sauce looks a bit like it was, um, recycled it was actually quite good.

I added some more pictures from the new book to my flickr account, so be sure to check out the nomminess!

More food soon!