Monday, December 31, 2012

Double Creamy Fruit Salad and Christmas, 2012!

Yes, I know, I'm barely squeezing my Christmas post in before the end of the year!  But, I'm just glad to be doing it.  I have been disgustingly sick for three weeks, and am carving out a spot of energy to do this post.  Actually, without GR and G, Christmas wouldn't have been the same.  GR baked all of our cookies and the Happy Birthday, Jesus, cake, set up the tree and its lights, and decorated inside and out.  She is my Christmas-loving girl - remember her bedroom?  And, G somehow made our tired out carpets look new with his obsessive vacuuming.  Thank you, both!  As usual, my parents came over for breakfast, and we also had two extra guests this year, so it was really nice to get that extra help.

Also, as usual, we had a dinner potluck with the larger, extended family, and I decided to make a salad I veganized from a gathering a long time ago.  When I was in college, I belonged to an environmental club, and at one of our potlucks, a guy brought this simple unnamed fruit salad that had this amazing dressing on top.  It was such a great group, and he was such a cool guy.  He was actually the first person to give me an article on how animals raised for food are treated: it was a one-page article with a photo of a veal calf.  That was the first meat I gave up.  I tried once in high school to become veg but didn't stick with it.  Anyhow, I have saved that weathered article all these years because it was so life-changing for me.  So, that was the guy, and that was his salad dressing, but it was dairy-based.  He didn't seem to really measure anything, I was chatting with him as he  basically just plopped stuff in a bowl, but I've gone strict and offered measurements.  I know some of this fruit isn't in its proper season, but it still tasted great.  Maybe he'll see this and rub his chin with the memory.

The rest of our day's food went like this:


Our first gingerbread house
Cookies by GR:  Tiger Balls, Chocolate Chip, Holiday Cookies
Happy Birthday, Jesus, cake by GR
Chocolate hearts by GR
Loaded Cinnamon Rolls
Breakfast Potato Skillet
Sausage and Cheese Muffins
Amazing fruit platter by my mom (unpictured)
Juices, Hot Cider and Coffee


I brought:
Double Creamy Fruit Salad

We also could eat:
Green salad
Baked Beans - recipe passed down for generations
3 types of cookies and an apple pie
No complaints here!

On with the pics and recipe.  Have a HAPPY NEW YEAR!  My goal is to definitely amp up my postings.  Hopefully, all the craziness and sickness are behind us now.

Our first gingerbread house!  GR and I mainly did this with JK's little hands "helping" as he could.  GR was surprisingly bossy with this thing.  It was a blast to make it with her.

Our breakfast table.  The fruit platter didn't make the shot.  All was delicious, of course.  :-)

These didn't make the earlier shot either.  GR made these chocolate hearts for us.

Our annual trek to the fire station to deliver cookies.  I love our station and all it's crews!  GR's cookies are being held by the firefighter standing next to SR.  JK's in front with some new Christmas wrestlers, GR's wearing her new Big Bang Theory shirt, SR's wearing her new Christmas dress, and she'll be getting that cast off in a couple of weeks.

A serving of Double Creamy Fruit salad.  A white dressing, in a white bowl on my mom's white counter wasn't the greatest combination, but trust me, this is so good.

Double Creamy Fruit Salad


Can be flexible here.  Use several cups of your favorite fruits.  I used:

1 pineapple, chopped
2 Fuji apples, cored and chopped
2 bananas, sliced
1 cup of blueberries

1 cup vegan sour cream
1 cup vegan vanilla ice cream


Put all fruit in a large bowl.  Ten minutes before serving, take out the ice cream from the freezer and set on the counter.  After ten minutes, add the dressing ingredients to the bowl of fruit and gently fold in.  Do not stir with a hard hand.  You don't want the dressing to become liquidy.  Keep it creamy and billowy.  Serve immediately.  So good you won't believe it.  It's a nice twist on the standard fruit salad.  Feeds five hungry vegans and more!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sauteed Mushroom-Topped Burgers

Hah, I guess we're traveling through Burgerville.  If you'd like to join the trip, then All Aboard!  Right after enjoying our delicious Chili Cheese Burgers , I whipped up a batch of my Sauteed Mushroom-Topped Burgers, another easy recipe.  I'm into easy these days, I guess.  I like to keep the condiments simple on this one, so as not to compete with one of my favorite things to eat: the beloved mushroom.  Served with a side of veggies, it makes for a complete meal. Enjoy!

Sauteed Mushroom-Topped Burgers


1 Tbs. olive oil
12 - 14 button mushrooms, halved and sliced
1 tsp. dried basil
Salt and pepper to taste
Canola oil for frying
3 pkgs. of vegan Boca Burgers - enough for seconds and/or leftovers 
1 red onion, sliced into rings
Mustard - I love me some plain yellow here
Favorite burger buns


Heat the olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat.  When heated, add the mushrooms.  Cook for about five minutes, stirring occasionally, before adding the seasonings.  Let them reduce a bit first.  After adding the seasoning, cook for another few minutes, until they are tender and you can't resist them anymore.  In the meantime, heat the canola oil in large pan over medium heat.  When hot, add enough burgers to make a layer in the pan.  Cook for three to five minutes, then flip, and continue with another three to five minutes, until they have browned.  Finish with the rest of the burgers.   Spread your Vegenaise and mustard on the buns.  Add a burger, some onion slices and a couple of spoonfuls of your shroomies.  Top with the other bun half.  Open wide and bite.  So good!  Serve with a side of veggies.  Feeds five hungry vegans.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Chili Cheese Burgers

This meal follows shortly after my Chili Cheese Dogs and is even easier to make than the dogs were!  I'm not going to apologize for using shortcuts.  Feeding a family on a regular basis, homeschooling my children, and keeping busy in so many other countless ways justifies me in taking a break every now and then in food preparation.  This is a kid-friendly meal, and we all gobbled them up.  Treat yourself to a break too, and make these soon.  :-)

Chili Cheese Burgers


Vegan Boca burgers - enough to feed your family.  I use three boxes: enough for seconds for some and leftovers.
Canola oil for frying
1- 29 oz. can vegan chili beans or 2 - 15 oz. cans
Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet cheese, cheddar style, sliced somewhat thinly
Your favorite burger buns


Heat a couple of tablespoons of the oil in large pan that has a lid over medium heat.  (Don't put the lid on, yet.)  When hot, add four to six burgers, however much your pan can hold in single layer.  Brown on one side, three to five minutes.  Flip burgers over and add the slices of cheese to the top of each burger.  Add the lid to the pan and cook until the cheese melts, another couple of minutes.  In the meantime, heat the can of beans in a medium pot over medium heat.  When the burgers are done, place them on the bottom half of a burger bun, scoop a spoonful of chili beans over the top, and add the top of the bun.  Finish with the rest of the burgers.  Serve with a side of veggies for a complete meal.  Feeds five hungry vegans.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Pineapple Upside Down Cake and Thanksgiving, 2012

I'm finally getting my Thanksgiving post up!  At least it's in the same month.  :-)  As usual, I let each member of my family pick out what they want for dinner and dessert and truly make it a meal for which we are thankful.  See below for our menu and for a new recipe for Pineapple Upside Down Cake.  This cake was super moist and delicious.  I veganized one of several recipes easily found on the web.  When I followed the directions, I found I had to make adjustments and corrections to the recipe along the way.  One thing I will probably adjust in the future is the amount of brown sugar used; I kept the original measurement in the recipe, but I will probably halve it next time I make the cake.  It was a huge hit with the fambly, though!


Tofurky with roasted potatoes - picked by me
Tofurky gravy - picked by me
Hot and Sour soup from one of our favorite Vietnamese restaurants - picked by SR
Steamed rice by same restaurant - picked by JK
Jerky in several flavors - picked by GR
Purple sweet potatoes fried with facon - picked by G
Sauteed kale - picked by me
Cranberry sauce, both kinds - picked by SR
Soy nog - picked by me

Pineapple Upside Down cake - picked by G
Black Tie Cheesecake  - picked by GR

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

My thanksgiving feast sans the rice.  I could not finish this meal!  So full.

Here are this year's Thanksgiving desserts.  Sorry the coloring is so orange in these pics.

I was going to put my slices on a fancy plate, but SR didn't want to wash any more dishes, so green paper plates it was!  Couldn't finish these either.  But, they were so yummy.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake


1/2 cup vegan margarine (could probably use less)
1 and 1/2 cups brown sugar ( could probably use less)
1 - 20 oz. can of sliced pineapple rings in natural juice
Maraschino cherries (you can find naturally colored ones at Sprouts or Whole Foods)
1 box of Dr. Oetker Organics cake mix in vanilla
1 and 1/2 Tbs. EnerG Egg Replacer
6 Tbs. water
2/3 cup almond milk
1/2 cup canola oil


Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Heat margarine over medium heat in a cast iron skillet.  When completely melted, remove from the heat.  Sprinkle the brown sugar over the margarine, patting down to cover it up to the edges of the pan.  Lay the pineapple rings in a circle around the edge of the pan and one in the center.  Add a cherry to center of each pineapple ring.  Set aside.  In a medium bowl,  add the remaining ingredients, and beat for two minutes or until completely mixed.  Pour over the pineapple slices,  making sure the batter goes to edges of the pan.  Bake for 45 minutes.  Let cool for ten minutes, then flip over onto a serving platter.  You can finish cooling on a rack.  Very moist and tasty.  Feeds five hungry vegans.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Easy Fried Green Tomatoes

I grew up eating fried green tomatoes occasionally and loved them from the first bite.  Not every body is prepared for their tangy taste and eating a non-ripe tomato, but I highly suggest giving these a try.  It's another fun way to enjoy this summer fruit.  By the way, I made these a couple of months ago, but as you know, my schedule was a bit crazy, so this is my first chance at posting them.

Easy Fried Green Tomatoes


Canola oil for frying
1 cup corn meal
1 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
4 - 6 firm green tomatoes, sliced thickly


Heat oven to 250 degrees.  Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil into a large pan over medium heat.  While oil is heating, mix the corn meal, flour, salt and pepper into a small bowl or other container with a "flat-ish" bottom.  Take four or five of the tomato slices and dredge in the mixture, so that both sides are covered.  If it's not sticking too well, wet the slices first.  Place them in the hot pan, and cook for three to five minutes on each side, until they are golden brown.  Repeat with remaining slices.  Drain on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels, and keep them warm in the oven, until all the slices have been cooked.  This is a great side dish to complete a meal.  I love these just like this, without any condiments.  Feeds five hungry vegans.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

FLT Sandwiches

Here is a yummy twist on a classic sandwich.  We've been making FLT's in our home for years now, and we never tire of them.  Our animal-friendly "facon lettuce and tomato" sandwiches are definitely a family favorite and so easy to make.  So, you'll note in my ingredients list that we use two packages of SmartBacon; most families might be able to get away with one, but my group loves to munch on the facon while they're resting on a plate before dinner is actually on the table.  Also, the sandwiches are so light, that Hubs and the Blessings usually have two of them.  The bread can be untoasted or toasted for a bit of variety each time you make these.

FLT Sandwiches


1 Tbs. canola oil
2 pkgs.of Lightlife SmartBacon
Slices of hearty bread, enough for your family
Vegenaise for spreading
3 tomatoes, sliced in rounds
Crispy lettuce - for this sandwich I like Romaine or Iceberg, torn into sandwich-sized pieces


Heat oil in griddle over medium heat.  Saute the SmartBacon for about one minute on each side.  You can adjust cooking time to reach desired crispiness.   Drain on paper towels.  Assemble the sandwiches by spreading Vegenaise on each slice of bread, adding three "facon" slices, tomato slices and lettuce.  I always like to put tomatoes in the center of sandwiches, and that way they won't make the bread soggy.  Crunch down and enjoy!  Feeds five hungry vegans with enough for seconds.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Personal News Update, A New Family Member - Mowr!,Vegan Picnic, And One Lovely Blog Award

Hello, Everyone!  I first wanted to assure you all that I have not abandoned my blog.  There have been some extenuating circumstances since I last posted that have kept my attention elsewhere.  I will try and encapsulate as briefly as possible what has been going on.  Since my last post, we have endured three deaths.  Unfortunately, there is a fourth one that is imminent, and when that comes to pass, I may be off again for a couple weeks.  That one is sadly related to another death that happened last year, which I didn't mention at the time.  I am trying to stay matter-of-fact, but this has been a very emotionally draining time for my family.  One of the three deaths resulted in many consequences: somebody came to live on our couch for about a month; that person also had a psychotic break while I was at home with my children, schooling them; we had to have that person removed for a short time for an emergency psychiatric evaluation, and thankfully, they are someplace safe now.  G has been running himself ragged due to all of this, and basically collapsed on the couch.  The doctor diagnosed him with medical exhaustion, and to top it off, he has a gall stone, which is causing him constant nausea.  I have been trying to be the comforter of my family, and we've been spending a lot of time in prayer.  School kind of took a back seat during some of this - my children were learning life lessons, instead.  It's been a lot to handle to say the least.  So, just to let you know, if some of you thought that I had up and left my blog without saying anything, I would never do that.  If I am off for a time, it could be any number of things: I'm sick, I'm focused on educating my Blessings, I'm having crazy computer problems, or sadly, it could be something more tragic like these events.  If I never come back on, then you can assume something's happened to me.  In any case, if I ever decide to stop posting on my blog, I will put up a post saying so; I will not just leave without a word.

That all said, one good thing came out of all of this.  One of the deceased hoarded cats and birds, among other things.  She had over a dozen birds and nineteen cats.  One of the cats is missing one eye, and needed to be adopted by a family that could keep her inside.  G and GR both have cat allergies, so I didn't give it a thought.  But, G kept bringing her up - she's such a darn friendly cat!  So, we decided to take her in on October 1st.  She's five and half years old, and so far G and GR seem to be doing fine with her in the house.  Mindy and Abby, our doggies, love her, and she is tolerating them.  Sparkly and Charlene, our two old lady kitties, are also making their way inside more and more because of their age and cold weather, so we have quite a zoo on our hands now.  The new kitty was originally named KC, but when her eye was removed at five months, her name was changed to Karma.  I didn't like that: one, I don't believe in karma, and two, I don't think a kitten did anything to deserve her eye removed, so karma wouldn't apply here.  I wanted a beautiful name for her, so I thought of how cats are revered in Egypt, and I named her Cleopatra.  She's beautiful.

This is Cleopatra (Cleo, Patty) in her new bed, which sits right on my desk.  She's resting next to me now.  Her right eye was removed when she was a kitten, but it doesn't seem to hinder her.  She's our newest spoiled kitty.

Amazingly, during all this chaos, we went to the first annual Vegan Community Picnic in Sacramento organized by a group whose name escapes me right now, sorry.  It was great.  There were several food vendors there and informational booths.  My mom joined my family and we pigged out.  I signed up to be a volunteer for next year.  JK dressed as Larry the Cucumber and joined in the Veggie Parade!

 There's JK in the center as Larry the Cucumber after the parade.  The corn was the leader.  There were about twenty parading vegetables marching around.  You've got to make this photo go full screen to see how much fun JK is having.


Ah, a few months ago, Alessandra at Vegan Recipes, awarded me and ten other bloggers with the One Lovely Blog Award.  This is my first chance in passing it on.  Thank you, Alessandra, for thinking of me!  The rules state that I list seven facts about myself and pass this on to fifteen other bloggers. 

*I will try and list seven new facts about myself that I haven't listed before.*

1.  I love playing Internet backgammon, hearts and spades.  If you see an English-speaking expert playing, it could be me...  Watch out, though, I'm good!  :-)

2.  I am thinking of starting a YouTube Channel on cooking up my recipes from my blog and/or promoting vegan cosmetics, skin care, etc.  What do you think?

3.  I'm a fledgling writer.  I've submitted four manuscripts so far, two children's books, and two non-fiction Christian books.  One was with the publisher for a year but didn't make the final cut.  I'm finishing up my first novel, women's fiction, and will be sending it to agents later this year.

4.  I've run a half-marathon, but I can't run anymore because...

5.  ...I tore my meniscus, which has led to early arthritis in my right knee.  So sad!  Won't be doing my dream of running a marathon.

6.  I'm a birth doula with no clients, sigh.

7.  I'm very romantic.  I love Love.  Passionate with a capital P.  TMI???

*The 15 Bloggers who will get this award?  If I've messed up on a link, please let me know.*

1.  My "old" friend, Andrea at Andrea's easy vegan cooking .  One day I hope to meet my Seattle buddy.

2.  Has to be SV at The Shenandoah Vegan .  She always sticks with me, even when I'm gone for weeks at a time.  I usually get a scolding, though.

3.  How about Joey at Flicking the Vs .

4.   For a wonderful outlook on life and beautiful food, there's Gluten Free Happy Tummy .

5. Someone I would like to get to know more is Ingrid at Ingrid Improves .

6.  Someone else I'm still getting to know: Rachel at Miss Rachel .

7.   Millie always cares about me over at  Nuestra Cena-American & Latin Vegan Cuisine .

8.   Let's hear it for a male vegan blogger!  Monkey Man at Simply Vegetarian .

More than halfway there, whew!

9.  Enjoying her journey, is Vivacious Vegan over at Adventures in Veganism in Midwestern America .

10.  Of course, I have to add Food Feud .

11.  Give Claire a try at Almost Skinny Vegan Food .

12.  Another homeschooling mom deserves this award - Jenny at Vegan and so Forth .

13. Why not a singing vegan?  Look at An Opera Singer in the Kitchen .

14.  A not-so-chubby vegan at Chubby Vegan Mom .

And last but not least...

15.   For a rundown on nutrition, food and homeless animals, check out, Get Skinny, Go Vegan .

Thank you all for reading this far down.  It will take me a few days to catch up on all the blogs, and even to notify the winners of this blog award.  I hope to be posting regularly again.  I've got recipes lined up in the queue to share with you all.

Take Care!!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Chili Cheese Dogs

This is strictly an old-fashioned, stick-to-your-ribs comfort meal.  I'm not promoting health benefits with this one, just guiltily happy taste buds.  Besides making a very simple chili, there is just a matter of opening up packages and doing minimal prep work to achieve this fun dinner.  Enjoy!

Chili Cheese Dogs


For the chili:
1 Tbs. canola oil
1 pkg. SmartGround
1 29oz. can pinto beans, drained
1 29oz. can diced tomatoes
1 packet of chili seasoning mix (found in the spice section)

2 pkgs. SmartDogs
2 pkgs. favorite hot dogs buns
1 pkg. Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet cheese, cheddar style, finely grated


In a medium pot, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the soy ground and cook for about five minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the remaining chili ingredients, and cook over medium low heat for another twenty minutes, until all the flavors are blended.  Meanwhile while the chili is cooking, fill another medium pot two-thirds full with water.  Bring to a boil.  Remove the hot dogs from their packaging and place in the boiling water.  Remove the pot from the heat, and let the hot dogs sit in the water for two minutes.  When chili is ready, gather your hot dog buns.  Slide a dog in the bun, top with spoonfuls of chili and sprinkle liberally with cheese.  (You can omit the cheese for simple chili dogs, if you wish.)  A hit with the whole family!  Feeds five hungry vegans.  Slurp.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Classic Tofu Salad Sandwich

Here is a really simple way to remake the egg salad sandwich.  I simply subbed the tofu for the eggs and used all the familiar ingredients like I did in the old days.  We have this sandwich several times a year, and it's a great dinner to make when you don't have much time.  I've been making this for sooooo long, and it's still good every time.  Served with greens on the side, it makes for a healthy lunch or dinner.

Classic Tofu Salad Sandwich


1 12-14 oz. pkg. extra-firm tofu, water-packed, drained
1 cup of vegenaise
2 Tbs. yellow mustard
1 Tbs. dill pickle relish
Salt and pepper to taste


In a medium bowl, mash the tofu with a masher or fork.  Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the bread.  Stir well.  It should be creamy but spreadable, not runny.  Taste and adjust ingredients to your liking.  Chill if you have time, or if not, serve immediately.  It's good either way.  Spread on a slice of bread and top with another piece.  It's that simple!  Feeds five hungry vegans.

Monday, August 20, 2012

200th Post Giveaway Winner!

We have a winner, and her name is Nicole, commenter #17!  Her blog is Musings, Ramblings and Mumblings , which follows her life as a mom and other adventures.  The problem is she hasn't written a post since 2009!  So, Nicole, maybe this is just the impetus to get you writing again.  :-)

Thank you to everyone who participated and especially for your supportive comments.  I read each and every one of them.  I started this blog to mark down my best recipes for my children, and it's been great to see it have an effect on others as well.

Nicole, take a shower with the rose petal soap, paint your nails and read your new book while the water comes to a boil for the pasta.  Enjoy your prize!  You just need to let me know where to mail this.  E-mail me at 

Thank you!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

200th Post Giveaway!

Hello, and once again welcome to another giveaway!  The other one was only a year and a half ago :-).  Really, it seemed like it took FO-EVAH to get to this one.   With all the Blogger problems I had last year and with my struggles with my own energy this year, I am just thankful I finally made it to 200.  Whew.

So, the major thing that I did to my blog since #100 was that I added pages at the top.  I linked all of my recipes there, and I haven't counted, but it's close to 200.  The remaining posts are things like restaurants, garden shots, awards, product reviews and such.  I'm still tweaking the Travel page and the Other Fun Stuff page, but I'm happy overall with my pages.  If there's anything that can make my blog more user-friendly, please let me know.  You can reach me at:

Soooooooo, before I show the pic of what I'm giving away, you have to suffer once again through Memory Lane: a short reminder of some of the highlights of the last 100 recipes.  No fair jumping to the end.  If you want to read any of the recipes that are pictured, just click on their captions.  Enjoy!







You made it, congratulations!  I hope that wasn't too long or boring for you.  But, it's nice to see the journey from 100 to 200, don't you think?  If you want to check out more recipes, just click on the Recipes tab above.  And again, I'm available to answer any questions at my e-mail.

Now, you ask: what am I giving away?  Here's the photo and the description below:

What we have here are:

  • Two boxes of Road's End Organics Dairy and Gluten-free Penne and Chreese, cheddar style.  You need two boxes to feed five hungry vegans.  I would also suggest adding a bit more soy milk than the box suggests for a creamier sauce.
  • Cruelty-free nail polish by Zoya.  I didn't know until after I purchased it that all the colors are women's names.  This one is Kali.  Had I know beforehand, I would have found one with my real name as the color.  But, I don't know if they could fit Supreme Amazing Modest Esmerelda Laquisha Hoppenboffer-Dippendorf on the label. Next time, I'll check it out just to be sure.  But, I've been wearing mine for a week now, and it is amazing - barely any chips!  I'm impressed.  With my small number of male commenters, perhaps, if you don't want to wear this shade, you may have a sister or mother or friend that might appreciate it.
  • On that note, I also have Rose Petal-scented soap by One with Nature.  This Dead Sea mineral soap lasts so long!  I love it, and they come in so many realistic scents.  I let my girls pick out their choices first when I come home with them.  We haven't found one yet that we don't like.
  • Finally, you get a copy of John Robbins' The Food Revolution.  I'm really looking forward to reading my copy right along with you.  It's supposed to have made a real impact on so many people who have read it.
No photo of me this year, sorry!  I know, I know, I hear your tears.  To make up for it, when I reach 1000 posts, maybe I'll let you fly me pay for my road trip out to your city and we can celebrate!  Yay!  Ha ha!

That's it!  I hope you like the gifts.  Who is this open to you may ask?

  • Anyone!
  • Followers
  • Non-followers
  • Lurkers
  • First-time viewers
  • First-time commenters
  • People who have stumbled across me by accident
  • Domestic (U.S.) people
  • International - why not? - It's only once every year and half!
If there's anyone I've missed, and you're in that category, you can also try and win.  The rules?  Easy!  Last year, I had people number their space in the comments, but that didn't work out so well.  If I ever get over 50 or near 50 comments, I'll worry about numbering at that time.  Just comment - ONCE.  You are only allowed ONE entry.  I will NOT be responding to your comments or questions on the comment space on this post.  If you need a response, I will come to your blog.  If you don't have a blog, and you need a response, e-mail me at  That's all you have to do: comment ONCE.  I will go to and pick a winner from the list.  This will be open until midnight Sunday, August 19th, 2012.  I will announce the winner on Monday, the 20th.  I need to have a way to reach you, so I can let you know you've won, and you can get me your mailing address. If you have a blog, I'll reach you there.  If not, I'll be posting the winner on my blog, as well.  If you are the winner, you can e-mail your address.

Just like last time, no pushing and shoving.  Everyone will have a turn.  Good luck!  Have fun! And thanks for reading my blog!  I appreciate all of you!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Savannah Cake, Watermelon Cake, Hulk Cake and Birthday Dinners!

Some of my regular readers may remember that every July I have a few days where I am on birthday overload.  SR's and JK's b-days are six days apart; my dad's is a week earlier, and my mom's is a week later.  For the kids, I have a long day where we have two birthday parties back to back.  It's fun, but we always take a deep breath when it's done.  I always let the Blessings pick what kind of cake they want and what they want for the birthday dinners.  Since we eliminated artificial colors and flavors and preservatives, along with the already eliminated msg and corn syrup, a couple of years ago, they only get to have the "bad" stuff on their birthdays.  They can pick anything they want to eat at their parties.  With that in mind, two of the cakes below have colors in them, but one is all natural, and I'll share what I did with that. Enjoy the birthday tour!

SR turned 15 on July 20th, which was the same day as her acting class.  I made these cookies 'n' cream cupcakes for her to share, which we have at least once a year.  They are from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.

SR wanted to go out for her dinner and picked one of our family's most favorite restaurants: Andy Nguyen's II.  Do not mistake this for Andy Nguyen's, which my mom took me to on my birthday; this is No. 2, and although it is not a vegan restaurant, the veg choices there are excellent.  It is so unfortunate that this shot came out blurry because their Vegetarian Hot and Sour Soup is outstanding.  We always ask for extra tofu to be added.  Some of the fam likes to add steamed rice to their bowl with the soup.

These are their Vegetarian Rolls - so good.

These are their Crispy Noodles with Tofu - awesome.

This is their Vegetable Fried Rice without egg - yums.  Andy's is located at 10145 Folsom Blvd. in Rancho Cordova, CA.  Their phone is (916) 362-2270.  They know us so well that when I call them up, Vinny the co-owner, says my name before I can say who I am.  A nice touch.

The next day was the birthday parties. JK turned 6 on the 26th and said he wanted a Savannah cake for his party.  Savannah cake, hmm?  Well, I first tried to find a little bag of toy animals that were Savannah-like to decorate the cake, but no luck. So, GR and I made the animals from play dough.  GR made the giraffe, crocodile and snake, and I made the tiger, elephant and lion.

 For the cake I used my recipe for my White Cake with White Buttercream Frosting .  I baked it in a 9x12 pan.  I made the frosting as usual - I took about 1/4 of it out and stirred in 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. of turmeric into it.  I divided the rest in half; to one half I blended in 2 Tbs. of cocoa.  I spread the white sky on first, then added the hilly brown, then used a fork to spread on the Savannah grass.  I thought this came out pretty cute.  JK got to keep his little animals.

SR remembered GR's 10th Birthday Cake  and wanted that again but wanted it to be deliberately made to look like a watermelon cake.  So, I made the cake the same way, but I put in 2 cups of chocolate chips in the batter and skipped the sprinkles on top.  This is such a moist cake. To avoid artificial coloring, you could use sweetened and reduced asparagus water for the frosting and pureed strawberries for the batter.

We actually left for camping on JK's birthday, and we had a blast celebrating it in the woods.  For his dinner, he picked tofu fried his favorite way: plain.  He likes to dip fried tofu in ketchup and raw tofu in soy sauce.  :-)  He wanted a banana and strawberry salad and Kids Love It! Potato Salad

He wanted a Hulk cake, so Mommy did her best with a butter knife and fork.  I made the White Cake with White Buttercream Frosting again in two cake rounds but added 1/2 cup of cocoa to the batter.  I saved a a small portion of the frosting and kept it white and added various amounts of green coloring to get his hair and skin.  I tried to make him grimace - what do you think?  I brushed his hair very nicely, though.  :-)  Normally I would have used asparagus or artichoke water to make the coloring, but with my energy levels lately, I copped out... But he only got colors on his birthday!

I had the clever idea of putting the candles in Hulk's eyes and teeth.  Creepy!  Hulk on fire!

Here's what a slice of Hulk looks like.

We had a great time camping and celebrating little ones' birthdays!  Thanks for sharing the memories with us.