Sunday, December 26, 2010

Trust Me Cake with Gaggy Frosting, and Christmas 2010

We had such a wonderful Christmas this year in our home, and I hope you did too! I was trying to think of which dish I made that I should post, when I realized that I had forgotten to take any pictures of the ones I brought to the family potluck dinner. So, by default, here's another cake! We all love cake, don't we? Every year I make a Happy Birthday, Jesus, Cake, but what kind of cake it is changes year by year. I call this year's cake Trust Me Cake because it doesn't have any margarine or oil in it. But, it does have a cup of Vegenaise, kind of like the old mayonnaise cakes. Now, trust me! It tasted good! I have to thank G for the inspiration for the frosting's title. I tried to make a glaze, but it came out very stiff and unforgivingly thick. However, it screamed chocolate, and you have to swallow hard to get this frosting down. So, as only a kind husband would do, that's now permanently spoiled by good vegan food, he said, "This is gaggy." The children loved it, though, and I'm not an objective judge of chocolate because it's all good to me. I think this frosting reminds me of a firm piece of fudge being forcibly spread on cake. So, depending on how that sounds to you, this will be an enormous failure, or an incredible success. So be it. Here it is, along with some other food pics, pictures of GR's room (which I'll explain below), and of some firefighters. My apologies for the absolutely terrible lighting of the food shots. They were either blue, orange or totally blinding with light. Use your imagination, please.

Here's our menu for this year:


Trust Me Cake with Gaggy Frosting
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies made by ten-year-old GR!
Tiger Balls
Pecan Pie Cookie Cups
Chocolate Chip Pecan Bars
A variation on my Scrambled Tofu - this year I made it with asparagus and mushrooms
Molasses Touched Pancakes with Homemade Maple Syrup
Homemade Breakfast Links - I've come up with a mind-blowing recipe, I must say!
Fried Red Potatoes with Red Bell Peppers from my mom
A Fruit Platter from my mom
Yum Berry Juice
Apple Cider

Dinner and Dessert with the extended family:

Manicotti Lasagna - was supposed to manicotti, but transformed into lasagna
Tofurky with gravy
Gorgeous Round Rolls, which I forgot at home
Pecan Pie Cookie Cups

Trust Me Cake. That frosting hardened so fast and so firm, I could probably have set a cup of water on it, and it wouldn't have given way. The nice thing is, I was able to make some pretty swirls. Do you like my pretty swirls???

Here's a slice of that cake. Again, I didn't trust the amount of my frosting. I had way too much on top and barely anything in the middle. I was actually going to call it Trust Me Frosting, as well, until G said it was gaggy. Then it was a no brainer; I had to use that. Anyhow, feel free to put way more in the middle than I did. G said he would prefer much more in the middle and would even sacrifice the frosting on the sides of the cake to ensure he would have enough in the middle. He's very helpful like that. Did I ever tell you that before he met me, he only lived on peanut butter sandwiches and oatmeal? Now, he's full of very helpful suggestions - I can't thank him enough. Do you have helpful husbands, as well, that offer advice but never pick up a spatula?

Our Christmas Cookies: GR made the Oatmeal Chocolate Chip ones all by herself, on top are Tiger Balls, and the Chocolate Chip Pecan Bars and Pecan Pie Cookie Cups are on the bottom.

Christmas Breakfast Table: Cookies and Trust Me Cake with Gaggy Frosting, Scrambled Tofu, Homemade Breakfast Links, Molasses Touched Pancakes, Homemade Maple Syrup (in blue pitcher), my mom's Fried Red Potatoes with Red Bell Peppers, a Fruit Platter, we had Yum Berry Juice, Coffee, and my mom brought Apple Cider. It was good!

I couldn't fit everything on my plate, so I had the fruit, fried potatoes, my homemade breakfast links and tofu scramble.

Now, for GR. My girl loves Christmas v e r y m u c h !! She allowed me to take pictures of her bedroom, which is decorated for Christmas all year round. Except for a Patrick Starfish picture and her soccer trophies, these are her only decorations. All year round. Did I tell you she likes Christmas? I didn't even take a picture of everything, there is so much more! Welcome to her room... Here she is on her bed with her snowman and her penguin friend next to her. And, of course, she's wearing her Christmas peace symbol necklace. Various strings of lights surround her room. By the way, her room is painted shades of Christmas colors. Her windowsill is decorated with fluff, presents, there's a Grinch there and a snowman. On her little lamp table is a reindeer. She has a snowman rug on the floor, stockings and wreaths are on all the walls, and snowflakes line every wall and hang from the ceiling. You can see the new icicle lights that we bought her for Christmas to add to her decorations.

This is the top of her dresser. I like how she mixes religious items in her decorations, as well, because in our home we remember the spiritual aspect of the holiday. Just to the right of this, is a small, decorative sleigh hanging on the wall.

Here's a decorated wall, with candy canes lining the floor. You can barely see the Christmas tree night light. To the left of this shot, she has decorated her closet doors with the message "Merry Christmas" with hand-made snowflakes falling into a waiting snowdrift below.

I tried and tried to turn this picture, but it wouldn't cooperate for me. GR has hung massive amounts of garland from her doorway that you have to walk through before you can even enter her room. It's Christmas all the time in there, and you can't help but cheer up when you go in! Thank you, GR, for sharing!

We also deliver Christmas cookies every year to the firefighters on Christmas Day. SR stayed home to watch a new video, but GR and JK came along. They both got helmets afterwards.

Trust Me Cake with Gaggy Frosting



2 cups of flour
2/3 cup of cocoa
1 and 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 and 2/3 cups of vegan or raw sugar
1 and 1/2 Tbs. EnerG Egg Replacer
6 Tbs. water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup Vegenaise
1 and 1/3 cups of water


2 - 4 oz. pkgs. of Baker's German Sweet Chocolate
2 Tbs. vegan margarine
6 Tbs. water
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract


For the cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two round cake pans with non-stick spray and flour the bottom and sides, shaking away the excess flour. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and baking powder. In a large bowl, mix with an electric mixer on medium speed the sugar, Egg Replacer, the six tablespoons of water and vanilla extract. Beat until well creamed together, perhaps three minutes. Add the Vegenaise and mix on medium-low speed, until there are no lumps. Alternately add the flour mixture and the one and one-third cups of water and continue to mix on medium speed, until well blended. Divide batter between the two pans and bake for 30 minutes, until a skewer or toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pans on cooling rack for fifteen minutes, then invert cakes onto rack to finish cooling.

For the frosting:

When the cakes are completely cool, put the chocolate, margarine and water in a small pot and heat over medium heat, until all is melted. Stir frequently. In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and salt. Add the chocolate mixture little by little, whisking after each addition. Add the vanilla, and whisk thoroughly. Makes enough frosting for a two-layer cake. Feeds five hungry vegans for a few days.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Gorgeous Round Rolls, Giveaway Photo, and Festivus

As I forge forward on my baking journey, saving money at every turn, I've made another bonanza discovery: I not only figured out that my homemade bread costs around 50 cents to make, but now I can make more than two dozen rolls for the same price! Instead of paying almost four dollars for nine bagged rolls at the grocery store with a bunch of strange ingredients, I can make beautiful (gorgeous?), big rolls at home with simple ingredients for a tiny fraction of the cost. What's also nice is I can prepare my bread right along with it: since I make two bowls of dough for two loaves of bread at the same time (soon to be four, I hope), I just convert one of those bowls into rolls. Or, you can just have a roll making day - the second rising is shorter than that for bread, and the baking time is also shorter. I adapted this recipe from an old baking book I own. By the way, I have switched to using Active Dry Yeast from Rapid Rise Yeast. Not only can I buy it in bulk, but I like how it makes the dough feel when I knead it and how it rises. I explain how to use it in the directions below. Have fun, eat well, and save money!

Finished rolls on a plate. Now, what's interesting about this photo and the next three are they were taken the first time I made these rolls. The ones on the plate do not have a soy milk glaze, and I now prefer the glaze. They also came out a little smaller than the second time I made them because it was a colder day. Sometimes dough doesn't rise as well in colder weather, so keep that in mind if you see that happening. But, they were still cute, so I added them.

A rough ball of dough from the main lump. You can either flatten the dough out and cut proportionate sizes, or tear off chunks from the dough still in the bowl. I've done both, and I prefer the more barbaric method of tearing, but cutting ensures more equally sized rolls.

Roll the bottom end inward by sections, like this.

Turn it over, and you'll have a lovely roll ready for its second rise. Make sure you make the initial ball, here, half the size you want it to end up to be.

I made two batches this day: this is the first batch which yielded about three dozen rolls.

This is the second batch which yielded over two dozen. I made the initial balls a little larger, I guess. But, we suffered through them.

A close-up. Aren't the little darlings so cute? But, you can see how they brown more with the soy milk glaze - I like that.

We also received our giveaway win from Dirty Duck this week! The blessings were downright crazy when that box arrived! As you can see below, the only Lara Bar that wasn't ripped open before I grabbed the camera was mine. I was going to split it with G, but he didn't want half, so oh, well, I ate it. The package was really from Lilly the Duck; the return address had her name, and she even sent us some of her feathers. Maybe she lost them while frantically packing the box! In either case, the feathers have been equally divided between the three shorter members of the family and are safe in their rooms. I made a dish with a box of penne pasta last night, kind of a spaghetti soup, and it was good. We all thank you, Dirty Duck family!

The Goods

Last year we started celebrating Festivus, made famous by Seinfeld. G wants you to know that we are Reformed Festivuvians because we decorated our pole with Christmas bows - apparently the pole should be bare. We will air our grievances tonight and have feats of strength against the leader of the home, G, to try to knock him from power. Last year, the feats of strength included pinky wrestling. This year G tried to suggest seeing who could eat the most cookies, but we didn't fall for it. We can tell he's nervous.

Our cheerful Festivus pole belies the serious tone of this life-changing holiday. All heads-of-households, Beware!

Gorgeous Round Rolls

5 cups of flour
2 Tbs. of salt
1 pkg. of Active Dry Yeast, or 2 and 1/4 tsp. of bulk Active Dry Yeast
4 Tbs. warm water
2 cups of cold water
Extra flour for kneading
1/4 cup of soy milk


In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the yeast and warm water until the yeast is dissolved. Create a well in the center of the dough, almost all the way to the bottom of the bowl, and pour in the dissolved yeast. Mix in just enough of the surrounding flour to create a pudding-like texture. At this point, many recipes will tell you to let this rest for ten or twenty minutes and see if it develops a frothy mix. This is to check the freshness of the yeast; however, if you know your yeast is fresh, go ahead with the next step. Add a cup of cold water into the well, and mix in some of the surrounding flour. Add the last cup of cold water and mix in the rest of the flour. On a floured surface, scoop out the dough, and sprinkle some flour on top. Knead for ten minutes, adding just a little bit of flour if the dough gets sticky. Wash out your bowl, and put the dough in it. Cover with a damp dish towel and let rise until doubled in size, about two hours. Punch down the dough in several spots to get out the air bubbles - you can flour your fist if your sticking to the dough. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray. Tear off clumps of dough about half the size of what you want your roll to be, and tuck the ends under. See photos above. Place each roll on cookie sheet, with tucked side on the bottom, cover with a damp dish towel, and let rise until doubled in size, about 40 minutes. They will continue to "grow" when baking, so don't worry if they're not exactly double in size. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Put the soy milk in a small bowl, and with a basting brush, brush a bit of soy milk over the top of each roll. Bake for 20 minutes. If some milk dribbles on the baking sheet, it will turn brown; that's okay, nothing is burned. Cool individual rolls on cooling rack. Makes between two and three and a half dozen rolls, depending on how big you make your initial balls of dough. You can freeze them and thaw later for a quick reheat in the oven. I heat them in the oven for ten minutes at 350 degrees. So good straight from the oven! Feeds five hungry vegans for a couple of days.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Homemade Flour Tortillas

On my continued quest to stretch our budget and make as much from scratch as possible, thereby saving money and eliminating artificial ingredients, I've turned to making our own flour tortillas. I've already posted a few recipes with them featured in meals, but I've yet to post the recipe to make the tortillas themselves. There are a number of recipes already on the web, so mine is probably not a unique recipe, although I'm posting it. What I'm offering more rather, are tips on how to make the best ones.

For instance, I've tried fat-free versions, and they just didn't have the same flavor, and they burned on the pan, to the point where we could taste burn, not flavor. Also, remove as much loose flour as possible from each tortilla before dry-frying it, as well as brushing away flour from the center of the griddle between each tortilla. The loose flour will continue to cook and burn onto the tortillas. I've not seen this mentioned in any of the recipes I found and figured out how to resolve this out eventually on my own. So, after you roll out the tortillas and have them in a stack, take a pastry or basting brush and lightly brush off the flour from the tortillas while it's in your open hand. When you are ready to flip the tortilla, brush it again, and while the tortilla is on your spatula, brush any remaining loose flour away from the center of the griddle. I hope this makes sense. I usually end up with a floury stove, but it's easily cleaned up. Also, the recipes I've seen call for a very hot griddle, but again, I've had burned tortillas with that. So, I've lowered my heat and cooked them for a few seconds longer with great results.

There is nothing like a homemade tortilla. They are fluffy, and especially wonderful, while they're still warm from the griddle. The ones from the store now seem flat and less flavorful. It takes about a half-hour or so to make them, and I end up with between twelve and 20 tortillas, depending on how big I make my initial balls, so it's very cost-effective too. You can try them with my Breakfast Burritos, if you like.

Homemade Flour Tortillas


3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
6 Tbs. shortening
1 and 1/4 cups warm water


In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the shortening and blend it well with a pastry cutter or fork. Add the water and stir well. Knead the dough for three to five minutes on a lightly floured surface. Take a clump of dough, roughly the size a little larger than a golf ball, and roll it into a ball. Place each ball back in the bowl, and let them all rest for fifteen minutes. Sprinkle a little flour on a cutting board and roll out each ball into the shape of a tortilla. You'll want to get it as thin as possible because they fluff up when cooked. Place in a stack, slightly staggered to facilitate easy picking up. Sometimes the bottom ones will stick, so staggering them kind of prevents this. Heat a griddle, with no oil, to just past medium heat. My stove dial goes up to 10, so I set my dial to 6. Make sure the griddle is hot before adding any tortillas. Pick up a tortilla off the stack and brush away the loose flour, from rolling it out, with a pastry brush. Put on the center of the griddle and cook until the bottom has a few brown speckles on it. Pick up the tortilla with a large pancake spatula and brush away any flour from the center of the griddle. Flip the tortilla back on the griddle, upside down. You will see air bubbles form, and that's a good thing. Check the bottom, and if it's speckled brown, it's done. Each tortilla takes about a minute or so to cook completely, so it's a fairly fast process. Remove the tortilla from the griddle, being sure to brush it free from flour and the center of the griddle as well. Eating loose flour on a tortilla doesn't taste good. Cook all the tortillas this way, and you're done! Makes about a dozen or so tortillas. Feeds five hungry vegans.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Tempeh with Kale and Carrots in Miso Peanut Sauce

I've been playing around with tempeh lately, a food that until recently I wasn't super crazy about. Now that I've figured out how to temper its bitterness by sauteeing it, tempeh and I are becoming good friends. So, now, I'm having fun trying out creative dishes with it, and this is my latest one. It has a sauce that's reminiscent of my Chunky Miso Soup, which is the first dish that I mixed miso and peanut butter. I think you should definitely try that combination because they really go well together. Throw in some inexpensive carrots and some garden-grown kale, served alongside some mac and chreese, and you're looking at an affordable, yet filling, meal. Hope you like this as much as we do.

Tempeh with Kale and Carrots in Miso Peanut Sauce


2 Tbs. canola oil
3 pkgs. tempeh, diced in one inch cubes
1 cup of carrots, sliced diagonally
2 cups of kale, chopped or torn
2 Tbs. miso
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 and 1/2 cups of water
1 tsp. garlic salt


Heat oil in large pan over medium heat. When hot add the tempeh and saute for fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally, until browned. Add the carrots and cook for another five minutes. Add the kale and cook for three more minutes. Whisk the miso, peanut butter, water and garlic salt together in a medium bowl. Pour over the pan ingredients and cook for another two minutes, until all is coated and warmed through. A new kind of taste! Feeds five hungry vegans.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Pecan Pie Cookie Cups

This is my brand new cookie recipe that I developed just for Millie's Cookie Extravaganza in which she invited me to participate. When she asked me a few months back, I agreed, thinking how much fun it was going to be to develop a brand new cookie, but then I kept having to e-mail her to let her know that my recipe was taking longer to develop than I thought. The filling was tricky, but finally I had a version I was happy to submit. When she first brought the Extravaganza up to me, I included my family in on the decision making process on what kind of cookie to create. My first thought, as always, leaned towards chocolate, but G's favorite flavors are pecan, molasses and butterscotch. So, it was no surprise when he suggested pecan pie. I reminded him these had to be cookies, and then we struck gold: Pecan Pie Cookie Cups! With molasses, just for my G. Butterscotch couldn't be worked in here, but I'll think of something for him. I hope you have fun making these; they were a total hit with my blessings, so I feel confident passing on the recipe to you.

Pecan Pie Cookie Cups

Creating the wells

Filling the wells. This picture was taken before I had perfected the filling; I was just taking shots documenting the steps. So, the filling isn't my latest version, and I'm not using a tablespoon here. Ignore the details, just get lost in the big picture. :-)

What happens when you go nose first into a Pecan Pie Cookie Cup - thank you, JK. But notice how the filling stays in the cup? It's wonderfully creamy, but firm enough to hold its shape.

Pecan Pie Cookie Cups



2 and 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup vegan margarine, softened
1 and 1/2 cups vegan or raw sugar
1 Tbs. EnerG Egg Replacer
4 Tbs. water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cups pecans, ground


2 and 1/2 cups water
2 and 1/2 Tbs. agar agar flakes
1 and 1/4 cups brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbs. molasses
Pecan halves


For the cups:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl., whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar. Add the Egg Replacer, water and vanilla, and beat until well mixed. Add the flour mixture by halves and beat on medium or low speed until thoroughly blended. Add the ground pecans and stir until well mixed. Lightly grease a cupcake pan, bottom and sides, and lightly flour each bottom of every cup. Take the cookie dough by tablespoon and form a ball. Put each ball into a cup, and create a small well with a melon baller. Make sure you do not create a hole all the way through. Bake for ten minutes. When done, take the melon baller and go around each well gently to make sure they retain their shape. Cool on a rack for fifteen minutes in the pan. Take a butter knife and carefully run it around each edge of the cups, and gently remove each cookie cup. Finish cooling completely on the rack. When completely cool, place the cups on a cookie sheet to prepare for the filling step.

For the filling:

Put all of the ingredients, except the pecans, in a medium pot on high heat. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium and cook for ten minutes, stirring occasionally, until agar agar is dissolved. Pour into a mixing bowl and let cool for 30 minutes. Stir thoroughly every ten minutes while the mixture is cooling. After 30 minutes, set your mixer on low speed and slowly work your way up to medium speed, beating the filling. Beat for ten minutes, then return to medium low speed and beat for five more minutes. You may need to periodically scrape the side of the bowl to ensure that all the filling gets continually beaten. I know this sounds like a long time to hold a mixer and beat, but it's worth it to get the right filling. The end result should resemble loose pudding. Spoon the filling by tablespoon into each cookie cup. Nestle a pecan half on top. Chill for several hours to finish setting. Can be served cold or at room temperature. The filling will not harden but stay creamy, but will be firm enough to stay in the cup while being eaten. Very good and unique. Makes about 30 Pecan Pie Cookie Cups. Feeds five hungry vegans for a couple of days.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Two-Toned Nectarine Peach Pie

"What?" you ask, "A mouth watering nectarine peach pie at this time of year?" Oh, yes, I can reassure you it is true! You see, my sister-in-law has a small orchard of trees in her backyard. The home belonged to my late mother-in-law, and she spent years planting gardens, flowers, and a wide variety of trees. Now, her daughter has the privilege of living there, and the rest of the family can continue to enjoy the fruits of my mother-in-law's labor. Over the summer, when the children and I visited her, my sister-in-law invited us to pick as much fruit as we could handle. I didn't realize until then how many trees of nectarines and peaches we were talking about, but there had to be six or eight of them. Full of fruit! I call this a two-toned pie because she had both white and orange flesh of both nectarines and peaches. We were in heaven. She gave us the biggest box she could fine and was more than happy to see some of this fruit get picked. When we got home from his sister's, G was quite surprised to see such a haul come back with us. We started eating them right away, but they were so ripe that we knew we were going to have to preserve them. Unfortunately, I was leaving with the children the next day for three days with my parents at Lake Tahoe. So, G took it upon himself while we were gone to peel, slice, sugar and freeze all of those nectarines and peaches! I came back to a freezer full of goodness. So, yes, we had a fantastic pie, and if you have access to super fresh summer fruit, I encourage you to freeze it, so you can enjoy their sweetness months later.

A couple of tips:

If you have frozen fruit, definitely drain the juice after thawing it, even taking a spoon and stirring the fruit in a colander to release more juice. In the past I've made the mistake of just partially draining the juice, but the juice made the crust so wet, that it was hard to seal the top to the bottom. Also, more juices are released during baking, so that pie became a big juicy mess, albeit a tasty one. I wouldn't rinse the fruit, though; for some reason it seems like you'd be rinsing away flavor. If you are using fresh fruit, you shouldn't have to worry about draining. Also, you normally want to pre-bake a bottom crust when the filling is a wet one, like this one. I usually line the unbaked shell with wax paper and top it with dried beans to weigh it down. This time, I didn't have dried beans handy (I know!), so I just pre-baked it without any weights. It actually turned out fine. To see how to pre-bake a crust with bean weights, I explain it in my recipe for my Pecan Raisin Tart. After you lay the top crust on the fruit, take a small, sharp knife and trim off any big edges. If there are gaps where more crust is needed, take some of the extra dough and pinch it to the crust where you need it. You can see in the picture below that is what I had to do in one spot. It doesn't make for an absolutely picture-perfect pie, but it still eats the same. I actually probably had too much crust around the edges, and my crust baked over the rim of the pie pan. If that happens to you, just carefully crack the edges off, munch on them before the kids can grab them, and slice as usual.

Two-Toned Nectarine Peach Pie

A slice of this sweet pie! You can see how the fruit is still very juicy, even after being drained.

Two-Toned Nectarine Peach Pie


For the crust:

Makes enough dough for a double-crust pie

2 and 1/2 cups flour
5 Tbs. vegan or raw sugar
1 Tbs. EnerG Egg Replacer
14 Tbs. chilled vegan margarine, cubed
6 Tbs. cold water

For the filling:

4 cups of frozen white and orange flesh nectarines and peaches, thawed and drained
1 cup of vegan or raw sugar


For the crust: In a food processor with the pastry blade, pulse together the flour, sugar, and Egg Replacer. Add the margarine and process until the it becomes grainy. Add the water through the feeding tube and process until dough lumps up into a ball. If you are doing it by hand, whisk together the dry ingredients. Use a pastry cutter or fork to blend the margarine in. Add the water and continue mixing, using your hands if necessary. Divide the dough in half, shape into disks, wrap in wax paper and chill for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Take one of the disks, and roll it out on a floured surface to a round that will cover the bottom and sides of your pie pan. Lay crust in pan, making sure edges are gently pressed down. Use a fork to poke holes all over the bottom of the crust. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool on a rack.

For the filling and rest of pie: When the bottom crust is cooled, roll out the top crust into a round large enough to cover the top of the pie, plus an inch or so more to compensate for the fruit. Mix the sugar and fruit together and pour onto the bottom crust. Lay the top crust on top. Cut away large, extra edges. Pinch the two crusts together to create a scalloped edge. Use a sharp knife to make several slits on top. Adorn with dough fruit, if you wish. You can attach this adornment with a dab of water on the back before putting on the top crust. Bake for 45 minutes, making sure the crust is nice and golden. Delicious. Feeds five hungry vegans for a couple of days.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce

This is a very easy and quick dish to make, if you have pumpkin on hand. I used four of my bags of pumpkin puree and came up with a new twist on pasta sauce. I also put soft silken tofu in to add a creamy texture: I mashed mine this time, but I think blending in a food processor would be a great idea. It warmed our tummies and was fun to try something a little different. I hope you give it a shot.

Also, be sure to swing by Millie's blog to check out my recipe for Pecan Pie Cookie Cups for her Holiday Cookie Extravaganza. She invited me to contribute, and I was more than happy to oblige. My recipe will appear on her blog on December 7th, and I'll post it on mine some time after.

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce

1 lb. pkg. whole wheat spaghetti
1 cup silken soft tofu, mashed by hand or blended in food processor
4 cups pureed pumpkin
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste
Nutritional yeast flakes
Red pepper flakes


Prepare pasta according to package directions. While water for pasta is heating up, combine remaining ingredients, except for the optional ingredients, in a medium pot. Cook over medium heat for ten minutes, then turn down heat to medium low for an additional fifteen minutes. Spoon sauce over pasta and top with nutritional yeast flakes and red pepper flakes, if desired. Feeds five hungry vegans.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

White Cake with White Butter Cream Frosting

This cake first made its appearance on Thanksgiving a few days ago, with its friend my Pumpkin Cream Cheese Roll. But, it seems, it developed a small fan base of its own, with a few commenters showing interest in it, and Robyn from Girl on Raw requested the recipe. So, the cake that four-year-old JK practically ate single-handedly now has her own show! On holidays and other special days, once a cake is sliced, or any dessert that we have has been "started," I let my family have a piece after every meal, so that's why some of our desserts don't make it past day two. I think the cake and frosting have just the right amount of sweetness, and I think I actually could have put a bit more between the layers than I did. I'm always wondering if I'll have enough to spread around, so I tend to skimp in the middle, but I'm not going to do that anymore!

White Cake with White Butter Cream Frosting

Oh, that pumpkin dessert thinks it has it going on, but it needs to watch out for...the caped crusading cake!!

White Cake with White Butter Cream Frosting


2 and 1/2 cups cake flour
1 and 1/2 cups vegan or raw sugar
1 Tbs. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup soy milk -- UPDATE:  I now add a total of two cups soy milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbs. EnerG Egg Replacer
4 Tbs. water


1/2 cup vegan margarine, room temperature
1/8 tsp. salt
3 and 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 Tbs. soy milk


For the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two round cake pans with an oil spray, and lightly flour their bottoms. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, cream the shortening to soften it completely. In a small bowl or mug, whisk together the Egg Replacer and water. Alternate the flour mixture and the milk into the shortening, beating with a mixer on medium speed. With the last addition of milk, add the Egg Replacer mixture and the vanilla extract. Beat for three minutes, until completely smooth. Divide between the two cake pans, and bake for 30 minutes, (UPDATE: I now bake for 35 minutes) or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool for fifteen minutes in their pans on a cooling rack. Then carefully invert the cakes out onto the rack to finish cooling.

For the frosting: When the cakes have completely cooled, prepare the frosting. In a medium bowl, cream together the margarine and salt. Starting on low speed and working up to medium, beat in the powdered sugar. Add the vanilla extract and the soy milk, and beat on medium speed for three to five minutes, until the mixture is creamy and smooth. Makes enough frosting for one double layer cake. Feeds five hungry vegans for a couple of days.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Roll and Thanksgiving, 2010

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving again. It's the one holiday that my family spends at our home, instead of joining the extended family. It seems to be the least child-oriented, and we can have an entire feast that is vegan. A few years ago, I changed what I did and started letting my family pick their favorite dishes to be served at this meal. So, sometimes we get a mix of traditional and unorthodox menus. Last year's menu is under my Savory Bulgur Dressing recipe.

This is this year's menu:
Tofurky with Gravy: picked by both GR and SR
Cranberry Sauce: picked by SR
Homemade Fries: picked by SR
Tofu Rice Rolls: picked by GR
Slow Cooked Pinto Beans: picked by G
Squash: picked by G (I baked zucchini and crookneck along with potatoes, red onions, celery and carrots with the Tofurky Roast)
Sparkling Apple Cider: picked by Me
White Cake with White Frosting: picked by JK
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Roll: picked by Me

Besides JK not understanding why he couldn't have his cake now the day before Thanksgiving, at breakfast on Thanksgiving, for lunch on Thanksgiving, and on his dinner plate on Thanksgiving, things went very well. You can see the Pumpkin Cream Cheese Roll below, along with my plate and the cake. What follows are pictures for the Roll and the recipe. It's something I've made before and is a hit every time.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Roll

My delicious plate, mm-mmm!

JK's White Cake with White Frosting. I mean our cake, right, JK?

What the beaten Egg Replacer will look like

Rolling up the cake part of the Roll

The Roll cooling inside its towel

The cream cheese filling

A slice of Pumpkin Cream Cheese Roll

Okay, who am I kidding? This is what I really ate; I had to move it to a bigger plate to accomodate both pieces.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Roll

Pumpkin Cake:

1 and 1/2 Tbs. of EnerG Egg Replacer
6 Tbs. of water
1 cup vegan sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup walnuts, ground coarsely (I use the food processor)
1 cup or so of powdered sugar

Cream Cheese Filling:

8 oz. package of vegan cream cheese, room temperature
4 Tbs. vegan margarine room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla


For the Pumpkin Cake: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 10 by 15 inch jelly roll pan with an oil spray, or you can use a cookie sheet with a one inch lip all the way around. Cover the pan with a sheet of waxed paper and spray that as well. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat the Egg Replacer with the water for five minutes on medium or medium high speed, until it loses its watery consistency and slightly thickens. Continue beating and slowly pour in the sugar, and beat well. Stir in the pumpkin puree and lemon juice. In another bowl whisk the rest of the cake ingredients together, except for the walnuts and powdered sugar. Stir the dry ingredients in with the wet and pour over waxed paper. Make sure it is evenly spread and reaches all the edges and corners of the covered pan. Sprinkle the nuts over the batter. Bake for 15 minutes. While its baking, lay out a clean dish towel and sprinkle enough powdered sugar to cover the entire towel with a thin layer. Remove cake from oven and quickly flip the pan upside down over the towel. Carefully remove the waxed paper, and starting at the short end, slowly roll up the towel with the cake inside it. Let it cool completely on a cooling rack, with the towel's seam down.

For the Cream Cheese Filling: While the cake is baking and cooling, set your margarine and cream cheese on the counter to get room temperature. When the cake is completely cool, begin to make the filling. In a small bowl, beat all the filling ingredients together at medium speed, until smooth and creamy. Carefully unroll the cake, leaving it on the towel, and spread the filling evenly over the cake. Re-roll the cake, this time leaving the towel on the counter. Place on a serving dish and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. You will have nuts and sugar left over on the towel, so fold it up and either sprinkle in a bowl for some future delight or shake it off in your sink. This is very good and looks decadent, perfect for a holiday meal. Feeds five hungry vegans for a couple of days.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Spicy Quesadilla Spirals

Here is a simple quesadilla dish that's quick and easy to make. I decided to roll them up and call them spirals to impress my family! What do you think?

Spicy Quesadilla Spirals


10 homemade or store bought flour tortillas
2 cups of Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet cheese, Nacho style, finely shredded


Move the top oven rack down into the position second from the bottom. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Divide the cheese between each of the open tortillas, sprinkling over their full surface, not just on one side. Roll up into a wonderfully, seductive spiral shape. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake for ten minutes. If there are any edges that are a bit too crispy, carefully crack them off. Blow and eat! So good. Feeds five hungry vegans.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pumpkin and Kale Quesadillas

Here is the very first recipe I made with our pumpkin puree. It was actually a dish of necessity because I had to go grocery shopping, and our cupboards were down to their last. So, I made some flour tortillas, picked some kale from our garden, used up the last of our vegan cheese and didn't freeze one of our bags of pumpkin puree. And, ta-daa, pumpkin and kale quesadillas! They were pretty darn good, if I say so myself, and a bit on the elegant side for my clan.

Pumpkin and Kale Quesadillas

1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups kale, stems pulled and chopped
1 Tbs. canola oil
1 cup Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet Monterey Jack cheese, finely shredded
10 homemade flour tortillas (or your favorite store bought brand)


Set oven rack to second from bottom position. I have four positions, so if you have just three, set it on the bottom position. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. In a small pot, heat the pumpkin puree and spices on medium heat. If it bubbles too quickly, turn heat down to medium low. Heat until warmed through, then set aside. In a medium skillet, heat the oil. When heated, add the kale and saute until they turn a bright green, about five minutes or less. Divide the pumpkin mixture, kale leaves and shredded cheese evenly between the tortillas on one side. Fold them in half and bake for about ten minutes until the cheese is melted. Be careful not to burn the tortillas. If you have a couple of too-crisp edges, just crack those off. Cut each tortilla in half, so you have twenty triangular quesadillas. So good. Feeds five hungry vegans.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Final Pumpkin Harvest and Prep

Well, after the children picked their pumpkins that were dedicated to become jack o'lanterns, and after the neighborhood kids picked out theirs, these are the pumpkins that were left in our garden to harvest. Quite a lot, I think, for a home garden. The children's pumpkins were pardoned from the slaughter; they will go to seed back in the garden bed. SR's pumpkin, Penelope, made a showing for this picture: she's the pinkish one in the back right corner. Preparing the pumpkins for the freezer was quite laborious, but now I have plenty of bagged pureed pumpkin for future dishes. Well worth the effort! See below my steps to get them from the wheelbarrow to the freezer.

This is G's wheelbarrow full of different varieties of pumpkins. He cut them all off the vine for me, which is harder than it sounds. They can stubbornly cling to the vine, and the stems of our pumpkins had spiny thorns all over them.

Washed free of loose dirt, waiting for processing. You can see some of those thorny stems I mentioned.

They were hard as rocks, unlike the ones you get at stores or pumpkin patches. So, G suggested I boil them first to soften them, much like a potato. Very ingenious. I fit as many pumpkins as I could in my largest pot and boiled for at least fifteen minutes. Some took twice as long, depending on their size. They were done when I could either stick them with a fork or a sharp knife. Be careful during this step. Use tongs to put them in the water and remove them, by their stems. Turn them over a few times while they boil. When you prick them, they release hot, liquidy bubbles. Set them aside to cool enough, so you can handle them.

This is what a boiled pumpkin looks like inside. Scoop out the guts and seeds and set aside - you can rinse and bake the seeds later. I actually have so many seeds, several cups worth, that I'm still sorting them! Yay!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wrap each pumpkin half with foil, just covering the top is fine, or wrapping the whole half is fine, too. Bake for at least an hour. If your pumpkins are soft when you get them, you can skip the boiling step and bake for an hour and half. Remove the foil and set aside for a few minutes to cool. I had all the pumpkins going in different stages: while some were boiling, others were baking. Also, some of my pumpkins were so soft after the boiling step, that they skipped the baking step and went straight into the food processor to get pureed.

Scoop out the flesh from the shell and puree in a food processor until completely smooth. Some pumpkins were still a little firm after baking; it didn't seem to matter their size. For these, I chopped first and added a couple of tablespoons of water to get them moving. Don't add too much because you don't want watery puree. If you feel they are too firm, bake them a little longer. Pretty color, don't you think?

Cool the puree enough , so you can bag it. I scooped out one cup measurements and put them in sandwich bags. I ended up with 23 cups of puree! My garden is my number one way I have saved money on groceries. If you have space for even a small pot, I highly recommend planting something to grow and eat.

Now, on with the pumpkin recipes! You should be seeing these very soon and later, as well. That's what's so nice about freezing and canning: you can have wonderful dishes from fruits and veggies that were harvested at the peak of their season and have kept their rich taste. Have fun!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Big Salads with Tempeh Bits

Here is another one of my big salad ideas. Every now and then I like to serve big, individual salads for each of us for dinner as our complete meal. To top these salads, I made tempeh bits as a sub for store-bought bacon bits, and I really like the nutty result. The tempeh bits even passed the test with some meat-eatin' friends with kids at a different meal, so that's great! I also like to blanch my broccoli sometimes for salads, instead of serving them completely raw. They seem to go down easier for my blessings that way. So, below I've listed what's in our most recent big salads, including a short recipe for the tempeh bits and also a note on blanching broccoli, if that's new to you. Enjoy!

Big Salads with Tempeh Bits


2 Hearts of Romaine or one big head of Romaine, chopped small
1 block of tempeh
1 Tbs. canola oil
Garlic salt and pepper to taste
2 cups of chopped broccoli florets
1 can of garbanzo beans, drained
1 cup of shredded carrots
1 bunch of cilantro, leaves chopped
1 can of water-packed and quartered artichoke hearts, drained
2 avocados, quartered and sliced
2 tomatoes, quartered and cut into wedges
1/4 red onion, sliced thin and quartered


For the tempeh bits: Heat the oil in a small pan over medium heat. Crumble the tempeh into the pan in its individual bits. Sprinkle just a bit of garlic salt and pepper over the tempeh. Cook for ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Make sure you get the tempeh to brown before you are done cooking it. It eliminates any bitter flavor and releases a wonderful, nutty taste. Very good!

For the blanched broccoli: Heat a few cupfuls of water to boiling in a medium pot. Add the broccoli and boil for three minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.

For the salad: Use the lettuce as a base on each plate, and add the toppings as desired. Drizzle your favorite salad dressing on top. Eat up! Delicious. Feeds five hungry vegans.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Sauteed Elbows with Corn, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Meatballs

This is a fun dish that's an easy way to use up leftover pasta. I know, it's hard to believe that my family has any leftovers, but if I make a big bag of pasta, I can usually get something for lunch or dinner the next day. Anyhow, this dish uses up leftovers and is reminiscent of my Garbage Tofu in that whatever is available in the way of veggies and protein, I'll usually throw in. This combo was especially delicious, so I thought it good enough to be added to my recipes here. This can also be considered an end-of-the-month meal, since that's usually when I'm scrounging around trying to find enough scraps to throw together one last meal before payday. We had this a few days ago right before the green landed in the bank. What do you think of an end-of-the-month meal category? Are there enough budget-minded people out there that they would find this interesting and helpful?

Sauteed Elbows with Corn, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Meatballs

1 bag of vegan meatballs
1 Tbs. canola oil
1 cup frozen corn
5 cloves of garlic, sliced into rounds
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, julienned
1 pound of leftover large elbow macaroni or another small pasta
1 tsp. fennel seed
1 tsp. dried basil
Salt and pepper to taste


Bake the meatballs according to package directions. When done, cool enough, so you can cut them in half. Set aside. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Crunch up the corn with your hand, while it's still in the bag, and add to the oil. Cook for about three minutes or so, then add the garlic. Cook for another three to five minutes, until the corn is warmed through and the garlic is fragrant. Add the remaining ingredients, including the meatballs. Turn the heat down to medium low, and cook for ten minutes, until heated through. Stir occasionally. Delicious and simple. Serves five hungry vegans.